How to answer these questions from a non Christian?

The follow are questions from a non Christian, how do I defend against it?

"Problem 1 : Original Sin (or “Sins of the fathers” doctrine)

We all know this one. It’s one of the first things you’re taught to accept as a Christian: you are flawed and sinful, an aberration in the eyes of god; worthless and bound to an eternity of suffering by default just for being born. Why? Because 6000 or so years ago, a woman was tricked by a talking snake into eating a magical fruit. This indiscretion is now your inheritance, and as far as god is concerned, you are equally responsible.

Original Sin is precisely why Christians are told to never ever question god. The doctrine is so unjust and unreasonable that the only way anybody could possibly believe or defend it is if they’d been actively discouraged from thinking about it critically.

Not in any justice system in the world would you find a judge that would punish the protegee of a criminal for the actions of said criminal. No parent would hold their grandchildren responsible for the misdeeds of their children. In no way is such a system fair or just. That any reasonable person could equate such behavior with the unconditional love of a benevolent creator is beyond ludicrous. This one doctrine alone makes the god of the bible not worth serving. So, not only am I personally guilty for the sins of Adam and Eve, but if my own biological father committed a crime and was sentenced, according to biblical laws and Christian thought, his “sins” are also “visited upon” me as well.

If we are to believe that as humans, we are flawed and imperfect but can devise a better standard of justice than a supposedly perfect, infallible being then what does that say of this so-called god? And if we are to accept that we cannot possibly fathom his ways because they are so beyond us, then one has to question why an infinite, unlimited god is somehow limited in making himself understandable to his own creation.

Problem 2 : Satan

Now this one has never made sense. According to Christianity, Satan is the enemy of god, the fallen angel, the Rebel that caused man to sin and messed up god’s creation. The belief is that Satan, in the form of a talking snake tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden having been cast out of heaven for insubordination (even though this is not actually what the Genesis account says).

So, instead of simply destroying the usurper that the omnipotent god already knew in advance would screw everything up, he simply “cast him down to earth” and left him hanging around so he could mess up the perfect world that he created. What’s more, having tricked Adam and Eve, god doesn’t punish Satan directly at all, instead, he curses his “beloved creation” and then curses all snakes which, according to the bible, used to have legs and now eat dust. However, the fundamental issue remains: why did god let his arch rival off the hook? Twice?

If Satan is the root of all the world ills, and god is omnipotent, then that makes the god of the bible entirely responsible for the consequences as he is the only being that could completely stopped him in his tracks. If a serial killer was rampaging your town, and the police knew who he was, where he lived and how to capture him but instead chose to do nothing, then not only would the police be grossly negligent, they’d inadvertently be responsible for any further killings. It could even be argued that they were somehow colluding with the killer. The same applies to bible god with regard to Satan.

Problem 3 : Hell

An obvious one, but still worth mentioning. In relation to the previous problem, the concept of hell is a direct contradiction to the notion of a god of love. Even as Christians we knew this, but were too scared to give it much thought, so instead we came up with all sorts of excuses to make god look like the good guy by laying the blame at the feet of humanity. It’s not that god is wicked and cruel for creating a system by which most of his creation will burn and writhe in excruciating pain forever upon death, we are the ones at fault for pissing him off. We are bad, we are sinful, and we deserve whatever we get. All we need do is pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, fall into line and OBEY and everything will be OK. God doesn’t send us to hell he created, we send ourselves there.

These were the excuses I used to justify god’s apparent cruelty. Of course, they are merely apologetic hand-me-downs dreamt up by Christian thinkers intent on blaming the victim.

The biggest problem I had with the doctrine of hell was that it seemed too binary, too simplistic. Any misdeed, no matter how small meant eternal torture in hell if one was to die at that moment. Thus, someone who simply didn’t believe in Jesus and a child molester, according to this doctrine get the same punishment. Some Christians console themselves that the “bad people” of the world (such as the aforementioned molester) will one day get what they deserve in the fires of hell, but fail to realize that if another person gets the same punishment for much less, then justice has not been served. Interestingly, for all their claims to objective morality, these same Christians are blind to the fact that the doctrine of hell, rather than discouraging “sin” can actually have the opposite effect. After all, if the punishment is always the same in the end, does it really matter what one does?"

How are these refuted?

That is not what the Church teaches.

The Church teaches that humans are capable of doing evil. Animals are not capable of evil acts. No cat or dog can formulate and do anything evil. Animals are true to their natures. No primate (other than us) can formulate or do anything evil. Only humans can do evil. Whatever it is that sets us apart from all other animals in our capacity (and our natural inclination) to do evil can be properly termed “original sin.”

Problem 2 : Satan …

So, instead of simply destroying the usurper that the omnipotent god already knew in advance would screw everything up, he simply “cast him down to earth” and left him hanging around so he could mess up the perfect world that he created.

God gave Satan free will. He gives us the same gift. Anybody can reject God and do evil (Stalin, Hitler, etc).

Problem 3 : Hell
An obvious one, but still worth mentioning. In relation to the previous problem, the concept of hell is a direct contradiction to the notion of a god of love.

This “problem” seems to be rooted in the idea that people who rejected God in life would not also reject him in death. Love is a mutual and cooperative relationship. God does not compel anyone to love him. Why should he force anyone who rejects him to live with him for all eternity?

It has often been said that nobody in hell is ever dragged there kicking and screaming that there has been some mistake. The people in hell WANT to be there, because they REJECT God and have NO desire to be in his presence.

Why do you capitalize satan and put God in lowercase?

Read the Catechism and u can find some basic answers to your queries

OP: my apologies. Just noticed that those topics were not posed by you but that u only wanted advice how to respond

[quote=Fox]How are these refuted?
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There are no refutations, and the excuses offered are actually worse than the “accusations”.

  1. Original sin.
    Maybe today the story of the talking snake is not taken literally any more (though if someone wishes to read it literally, that is perfectly fine and allowed), but Christians must believe that there was some “first pair”, who offended God in some unspecified manner and therefore God issued a curse for all his creation. No matter what the offense was, punishing (cursing) others than the offenders is never “just”. Don’t forget, we are not talking about some “natural” cause and effect (like reaching into fire will burn your hand or spending your money will impoverish your children), we are dealing with an angry God, who actively curses the offenders, their offspring and every other living being (the animals, “who” were totally innocent, not being able to “sin”).

  2. Satan.
    The “free will” defense is the one which is offered. But it is nonsense. “Free will” does not mean that one is able to do anything and everything. There are always limitations. (Allegedly not even God has that amount of freedom – he is unable to commit “evil” acts.) The creator might give a certain amount of freedom to the creation, that is reasonable. However, God is supposed to be an omniscient creator, who could “foresee” the acts of his creation. Since some of the freedom was used to undermine his creation, to allow this amount of freedom cannot be reconciled with an intelligent creator – unless of course God wanted to have his plan thwarted and his creation undermined (but no one believes that).

  3. Hell.
    The usual cop-out is that some people “reject” God in this life, so God’s only “loving” recourse is to “respect” their will, and not to force them to be with him. First, God does not mingle among us. We have no direct proof or evidence that God exists. Some people believe that he does, others doubt it. But the “doubt” is redefined to become a “rejection”. The catechism states that there is enough evidence for God that one has no reasonable doubt, that disbelief is a mortal sin. (No, I can’t remember the page number. The dogma also says: “God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things. (De fide.)” Which means that no faith is needed, reason alone is sufficient. As such no sane person can doubt God’s existence. In other word, the atheists are all irrational or insane. hmm…) But, just for the “hell of it” (yes, the pun was intended), let’s consider that “lack of belief” actually equals “rejection” (which is sheer nonsense). Can the “loving God” do nothing better than to condemn the “sinners” into a place of eternal suffering? Is there no alternative?

The Church does not teach that any sin no matter how small means eternal torture in Hell. Rather, the Church teaches that there are two classes of sins, mortal sins and venial sins. Only sins of the most serious kind, mortal sins, would destine an unrepentant sinner to eternal punishment in Hell. Less serious sins, venial sins, even if unrepented before death, would not send a sinner to Hell. Rather, unrepented venial sins, are dealt with in Purgatory and then the sinner goes to Heaven. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1472.

As for the notion that the punishment is exactly the same for everyone in hell, I couldn’t find an official teaching on the subject in the Church’s teaching on Hell in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1033-1037. Though Hell is described as a furnace of fire, there is no indication that the intensity of that fire is uniform throughout the furnace. It seems to me that all punishments in Hell are not exactly the same. Rather, it seems that some unrepentant sinners in Hell will be punished to a lesser degree and some to a greater degree. Consider the words of Jesus, “Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Matthew 10:15) So, even a hell-bound sinner has motive to minimize his sins on earth to lessen his punishment in Hell.

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Well, the Church does teach that we are not going to be tempted “beyond our strength” (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). As you can see, there are some limits.

As for “unless of course God wanted to have his plan thwarted and his creation undermined”, doesn’t it depend on the actual plan…?

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Things concerning lack of belief are a bit more complex than you claim (“No, I can’t remember the page number.” is a clear hint of that). But I’d like to point out something different.

Now, after saying all that, try to answer: do you actually want to spend an eternity with God…? Yes or no…? It would look rather inconsistent to answer “Yes.” after saying all that… But saying that you do not want to spend an eternity with God would be equivalent to saying that you want to go to hell. Hell, after all, is eternity away from God. Yes, eternity away from source of all that is good might be rather, um, inconvenient, but that is just a natural consequence of the choice.

As you can see, doubt and rejection are not always that distant…

Of course, claiming that God is cruel and evil because He gives you exactly what you want might look somewhat silly from outside… But it looks like such things are not that obvious from the inside…

Your source for this?

CCC

1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life.

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary.

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

I cannot find where the catechism says this as quoted. What you appear to be quoting is Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott.

catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/councils/summary.htm

  1. God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things. (De fide.)

That ‘disbelief is a mortal sin’ is nowhere in this document. I don’t know where you get this from.

CCC 34 The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”.10

Romans 1
18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
19: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20: Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
21: for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.

[quote=MPat]As for “unless of course God wanted to have his plan thwarted and his creation undermined”, doesn’t it depend on the actual plan…?
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That is not the issue. If you have a plan, and you know how carry it to fruition, and you know that it will be thwarted, and plan is in everyone’s best interest, then it is irrational to allow it to be disrupted.

Here is a simplistic analogy:

  1. Suppose you wish to have some food to be deliver to some hungry, homeless family.
  2. You send a delivery boy with the parcel of food.
  3. You know that some ruffians want to steal the package if the boy takes route “A”.
  4. You know that the boy will take route “A”, being unaware of the danger.
  5. You could suggest the boy to take the safe route (route “B”).
  6. Yet you say nothing.
  7. The deliver boy gets a serious beating, the food is stolen, the starving family gets no help.

Is this how a “loving” and rational person would behave?

In these scenarios people attempt this usual “cop-out”: The scenario does not end here. Eventually, in the afterlife the culprits will be punished, and the victims will get rewarded. There are two problems with this “solution”. First, it is a mere assumption. And second, even if true, it does not solve the problem.

Who “wins” in the current setup? You, the sender of the package do not get the reward of helping the needy. The delivery boy gets beaten up. The hungry starves to death. The bad people get punished. Everyone loses. If only you would have suggested the boy to take route “B”, then everyone would have won. You get the satisfaction of helping. The boy would get the satisfaction of being part of the good team. The hungry would have been helped – and they could have received the same “reward” in that assumed afterlife. And the bad people would have been unable to perform their evil act. So there would be no need to punish them. Everyone wins!

A side question. If you are as powerful as God, why don’t you deliver that food unmolested?

[quote=MPat]Now, after saying all that, try to answer: do you actually want to spend an eternity with God…? Yes or no…?
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How would I know? I was never given the pertinent data to make a decision, not even a short guided tour. To demand a choice where there is no way to learn about the consequences of that choice is also irrational.

[quote=MPat]But saying that you do not want to spend an eternity with God would be equivalent to saying that you want to go to hell. Hell, after all, is eternity away from God. Yes, eternity away from source of all that is good might be rather, um, inconvenient, but that is just a natural consequence of the choice.
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In this existence we are separated from God. God does not show his love, does not help the needy, does not comfort or heal the sick. He does not prevent the injustices. This existence is not “heaven”, but neither is it eternal suffering in some flames with some worm eating one’s innards.

As such, the dilemma you present is a false dichotomy. It is not true that “tertium non datur”.

[quote=MPat]As you can see, doubt and rejection are not always that distant…
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Yes, they are. Only a believer can “reject” God. And they would be insane to do it.

Finally, I see that you did not wish to reflect on the question of the “original sin”. Would it be fair to assume that you agreed with the analysis? That sure would be nice. :wink:

[quote=JMJ3]Your source for this?
[/quote]

Genesis 3:14

[quote=JMJ3]1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life.

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary.

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.
[/quote]

Nowhere does it say that one must be able to “throw a child into a furnace”. There are levels of freedom. It is definitely enough to be free not to bend one’s knees or refrain from worshipping God.

[quote=JMJ3]That ‘disbelief is a mortal sin’ is nowhere in this document. I don’t know where you get this from.
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scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1851.htm
1851 … that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief

scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1037.htm
1037 …a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary…

Think of Original Sin not just in terms of sin, but consequences.

If your father abandoned your family, or your mother used drugs while you were in the womb, you may not deserve the consequences of their sins, but you have to live with them.

We (as the human race) are fallen creatures, inasmuch as we are the inheritors of all the sins of mankind, back to the first man and the first woman who were given the freedom to choose Good or Evil. All those sins through human history had consequences, sin fed upon sin, and our spiritual state is one of the consequences of that. We like to think of ourselves as individuals who are solely responsible for ourselves, but that’s not true. We are all responsible to one another, and we are all supposed to be our brothers’ keeper. None of us could carry the weight of all accumulated sin to redeem us but Christ.

On the issue of a “binary” doctrine of choices between Heaven and Hell, surely you are aware that as Catholics, there is a third possibility.

I would agree with C.S. Lewis’s insight that the doors to Hell are probably locked from the inside.

I would also say that Christ’s mandates are binding on us whether we expect that our choices lead to salvation, damnation, or purgation. We should obey not because of the threat of eternal punishment or the promise of reunification with God (as desirable as that is), but because His commands are just.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Point 1) Genesis 3:14 - And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and the beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.

This doesn’t say that all animals are cursed.

Point 2) Yet, there are some who have “throw a child into a furnace” by their own choice. You can worship God or not. God has given you the freedom to make that choice. You do not, however, have a right to demand what consequences result from your choice.

Point 3) You would have to believe in God before you can willfully turn away from Him. That’s not the same as disbelief. I don’t see the word ‘mortal’ in 1851.

But the events that might disrupt the plan do depend on the plan, don’t they…? That’s why it looks strange to assert that something disrupts the plan without stating what that plan is.

You might note that in the example you give afterwards, you do specify the plan in full detail before telling us what is going to disrupt it.

So, if you were driving in your car and had two ways to go to the destination, you would stop and refuse to choose one of them unless you knew if there is going to be a traffic jam on one of them…? :slight_smile:

You know, life is full of choices without full information about consequences. You cannot live while refusing to make those choices.

Anyway, in this case you have quite a lot of information.

So, let’s look once more: you seem to believe that God would be cruel and evil. In such case, the question is: would you want to spend the whole eternity with someone who you believe to be cruel and evil…? And are you sure that consequences should matter in such case…?

By the way, if you decide that consequences do matter, your position becomes much more vulnerable to Pascal’s wager… :slight_smile:

The question is about eternity, not about this finite life.

At the very least, the unbeliever can easily reject God “conditionally”.

And about “insanity”… Well, let’s add that (per Pascal’s wager) even atheists with weak faith in the non-existence of God would be in a similar position - and we have little sanity left in the world… :slight_smile:

No, I just thought that the other two parts were more interesting and that the post was long enough without addressing that part.

[quote=MPat]But the events that might disrupt the plan do depend on the plan, don’t they…? That’s why it looks strange to assert that something disrupts the plan without stating what that plan is.
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The only “plan” I heard of would be that God wishes to have everyone to be with him for eternal bliss and happiness. Now, of course, this might be a misconception. It is possible that God planned all the misery, suffering and planned all the “sinners” to be tortured forever. But this seems incompatible with God’s alleged benevolent nature. There are only two possibilities: 1) either this world is exactly what God planned to be, or 2) God planned something else, and we disrupted that plan using (or abusing) our freedom. And to allow the plan to be disrupted is illogical and irrational if the outcome is in everyone’s worst “interest”. I would appreciate if you reflected on those few points I made in the previous post.

[quote=MPat]So, if you were driving in your car and had two ways to go to the destination, you would stop and refuse to choose one of them unless you knew if there is going to be a traffic jam on one of them…?
[/quote]

I most certainly would collect all the possible information. In this case I have no direct information at all, only some hearsay from equally ignorant people. So I choose what I consider the best option, to lead my life as decently as possible, to take care of myself and of my loved ones, and when I can help others, then do whatever I can easily afford. But – as we all “know” – works without faith does not count.

[quote=MPat]Anyway, in this case you have quite a lot of information.
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I do? On what grounds can you speak for me?

[quote=MPat]So, let’s look once more: you seem to believe that God would be cruel and evil.
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Please, do not attempt to speak for me. All I see that using normal, human meaning of “love” and “caring” I see no evidence that God fulfills those criteria. In my view if you can help others without inconveniencing yourself and fail to do so, then you do not deserve the adjective of “loving” and “caring”. The word “love” (agape) would mean to act in the best interest of all the affected persons. And in the example in the previous post I explained in detail why the “freedom” of the “bad people” is not in anyone’s best interest.

[quote=MPat]The question is about eternity, not about this finite life.
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It is about BOTH. And I gave you the reasoning that even taking eternal life into consideration the dilemma is unsolved.

[quote=MPat]At the very least, the unbeliever can easily reject God “conditionally”.
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Please, let’s be precise. The unbeliever can reject the “concept” of God. But cannot reject God himself. In order to reject someone, one must be convinced of the actual existence of the “rejected” person.

[quote=MPat]No, I just thought that the other two parts were more interesting and that the post was long enough without addressing that part.
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Yes, I suspected that much. Thanks for confirming it. :slight_smile:

What I struggle with is this:
I can’t accept the fact if you don’t follow Christ/God then you are doomed to spend eternity in a void/hell. What about the Buddhist that gives them totally in helping others or any person from another religion who are good people and selflessly give themselves for the betterment of mankind? I personally know good people who are not Christians, and I can’t accept that just because they don’t follow Christ, they are doomed.

Why couldn’t God just take that sinful tendency or the rebellion out of us from the get go? It would have saved a lot of heartache and mankind wouldn’t need to suffer. It doesn’t make sense to me why a loving God would do this to their creation. Satan wouldn’t have to be here etc. Why couldn’t God make us perfect in that sense?

Is it logical for a creation to dictate its own parameters? What would you do with a creation that refuses to do what you created it for?

Good. However, it is not a plan, but a goal at most. A goal function, perhaps… A bit like saying that German plan for Battle of France was “to defeat the Allied armies”… Still, that is better than nothing.

Actually, it is. For example, it does leave out the important part that demands that all that would be chosen freely by the creatures. That does complicate the matters…

What specific points do you have in mind?

Anyway, the part about freedom does complicate the answer. Thus I guess it could be said that: 1) God’s plan does take into account the choices of the creatures, thus, in one sense, everything goes according to the plan, 2) if the creatures made different choices, things might be going better, thus, in a different sense, not everything is going according to the plan, 3) making the creatures choose differently would not fit the goal (the part about freedom).

Um… I hope you are not saying you would seriously consider stopping in the middle of a motorway and looking for information about traffic jams on the Internet… That would be rather bad for traffic safety…

In other words, there are situations when collecting all possible information is a bad idea… Then a decision must be made based on incomplete information.

That is a hypothetical: “Assuming that it is known that God exists etc.”. In it “you” do know quite a lot.

OK. So, after this correction we still have a question: “Assuming that ‘you’ know that God exists, and keeping your beliefs about Him as described here, would ‘you’ want to spend an eternity with Him…?”.

Well, since I have asked that question, I have specifically asked about the eternity.

I must have missed it… Or, perhaps, I didn’t notice you take it into account…

Are you sure…? Not even conditionally…? Let’s say, “If zombies existed, I wouldn’t want to be close to them.”…?

God did not do this to His creation. Mankind did. It is because of Mankind’s treatment of itself that there is suffering. We have been told that each person is an image of God and how we should treat them, but too many refuse to listen.

People who don’t follow Christ as God are not doomed. It’s not a simple equation with an easy answer. But the Church does not teach that Non-Christians all automatically go to Hell.

The problem is, lets say a person chooses Hell, JUST because he does not want to be with God, OK, that is understandable, if that person lived their life without going to mass, praying or seeking out any kind of relationship with God, so Hell would seem the logical destination for them, but why would torture and eternal suffering and pain come into it? When that person went thru their life on earth choosing to live it without God, they did not go thru torture or physical pain, so why would hell be any different…if it is JUST place removed from God? It seems to me, Hell would just be an extension of life in the real world without God in it, not sure how ‘gnashing of teeth’ and suffering horrible tortures got thrown into the mix.

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