Predestination vs. free will

Does God predestine us or do we choose him of our own free will? As pointed out by J.P. Holding at Tektonics, the question boils down to a dichotomy: “Does God foreknow because he foreordains or does he foreordain because he foreknows?” I tend to believe the latter. In a very loose sense, I believe in the concept of the “elect.” Before the beginning of time, God knew that mankind would sin. This required that some would be separated from him. Knowing this, God could have chosen not to create the universe and mankind. Thus, in choosing to create rather than not to create, he chose that some would be saved and some would not.

In the strict sense, however, I do not think that God’s choice eliminates ours. First, I think we need to realize that God knows the future. When God created the universe ex nihilo, he created space, matter and time. That means God is not bound by time. It does not, however, preclude God from acting within our timeline. We may not understand how the mind of God works, but he certainly understands how ours work, and the Bible is written accordingly. Statements in the Bible that show God changing his mind are written from our perspective. On that point, I would definitely agree with those who believe in Calvinistic predestination.

On the other hand, we must also take into account God’s omnipotence. Look at the following passages:

Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)

Was it God or Satan that moved David to count his army? It was both. God does not tempt us to sin (James 1:13), but he can allow Satan to tempt us. He is ultimately responsible for it, because he is omnipotent and could intervene if he so chose. Many commentators have noted regarding these two passages that the biblical authors do not always distinguish between primary and secondary causes.

If we take these two observations and put them together, I think the obvious conclusion is that God knows who will choose him before they are even born and that God chooses (secondary cause) those who choose him (primary cause). This is what is referred to by the word predestination in the Bible:

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

I have no problem with the concept of free will co-existing with predestination. I don’t fully comprehend it, but God’s being outside of time eliminates the logical contradiction in my mind.

If predestination meant that we have no choice in the matter, there would be no purpose in reading the Bible or engaging in evangelism. Those who were predestined to be saved would be find their way to salvation without any need for assistance. Furthermore, there would be no point in going to church, giving alms or doing anything “good” of our own volition. If we were predestined to do it we would do it whether we chose to or not. On the other hand, if we have no choice in the matter, what is the point of even trying? To put it more bluntly, why should those who are not part of the “unconditional elect” worship or try to please God when he’s just going to send them to hell anyway?

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69 Responses to “Predestination vs. free will”

  1. casey says:

    There are two ways to approach the Bible, I think. One is to look for ways to blame God for everything that has gone wrong in the world and in our own lives. The other is to give God the benefit of the doubt and trust that he has righteous intentions. In taking the latter approach, my understanding is that God did not create evil but that like Ash75 says, “The ability to hate and do evil are a natural result of free will, so evil itself was not created by God, but the ability to choose evil was a natural result of the freedom He gave us.”

    The things that appear “horrible” to us at first glance are, if God is just and righteous, simply the “lesser of two evils.” I assume PTET is talking about the rejectors of God when he says, “If you or I were to treat our children the way God treats humanity in the Bible, would we be good parents?” In this case, we’re probably talking about God’s punishments.

    Again, my understanding of God as just and righteous allows me to assume that these punishments were meant to bring about the greatest good possible under the current circumstances. For example, and this is a really silly example, but bear with me, you are a sharpshooter and the only way to save your son from his drug-dealing brother who has taken him hostage and is threatening to kill him is to shoot the drug-dealing son. Do you shoot your drug-dealing son to save the innocent one? Are you a bad parent if you do?

    Yes, I know the analogy is flawed, but in a nutshell, I believe that God’s punishments are intended to stave off evil and to keep his plans from being foiled.

  2. Rick Rouse says:

    As humans, we simply cannot understand the mind of our Creator. His power, knowledge and love are all infinite, and He always deals with us in the ways that will best further His overall plan for both the saved and the unsaved.

    His Son Jesus Christ paid a mighty heavy price on the cross at Calvary so that all who choose to believe can be saved and avoid spending eternity in a fiery, miserable hell. Is it any wonder that He’s willing to do everything He can to ensure that as many people as possible are able to accept the free gift of life that Jesus made available to us with the shedding of His precious blood? Woe be unto anyone who attempts to hinder the workings of the Lord.

    All throughout human history, God has dealt harshly with those who chose to oppress His people or did things to prevent others from doing His will. Sometimes “innocents” get caught up in the collateral damage, but that’s an unfortunate result of our fallen state as sinners, not the fault of our supremely loving, yet vengeful God.

  3. PTET says:

    Thanks for your comments guys. I’d be very interested to hear your views on a morality as it relates to non-Christians. Can atheists, or Buddhists or Muslims or Hindus be moral? If they lead exemplary lives of good works, can they be saved or are they necessarily damned?

  4. casey says:

    Yes, PTET, anyone can live a moral life. No one, however, can lead a perfect life, which is what is required to be in the presence of God. All men are destined to eternal separation (hell) from the holy Creator without his intervention. Even a single sin is an infinite offense against a holy God. The standard isn’t “good” it’s “perfection.”

  5. Ash75 says:

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example of this. Samaritans were considered pagan and despised by the Jews.

  6. PTET says:

    Thanks everyone. As I understand it, you are saying that for God:

    MIGHT IS RIGHT
    God is answerable to no-one because he is all-powerful

    THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
    The “big picture” justifies God drowning innocents

    DO WHAT I SAY NOT DO AS I DO
    God is not subject to the same rules he sets for us

    HE SETS IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS
    The standard is perfection, which only He can meet

    Is that really how you see God?

  7. casey says:

    God is answerable to no-one because he is all-powerful

    The creator of the universe should be answerable to whom, praytell?

    The “big picture” justifies God drowning innocents

    I don’t know, since I don’t see the big picture. I have to trust that it does. See my analogy above.

    God is not subject to the same rules he sets for us

    As in? How could he be subject to the same rules? Can you rightfully claim that the creator of the universe needs to act in exactly the same manner as the beings he creates?

    He sets impossible standards

    No, I don’t think so. The standards are an unavoidable consequence of his holiness.

  8. PTET says:

    Thanks Casey.

    So, the following moral standards are righteous, holy, absolute and acceptable as long as they are exercised by God:-

    MIGHT IS RIGHT
    THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
    DO WHAT I SAY NOT DO AS I DO
    THE STANDARD IS PERFECTION

    Are these moral standards also acceptable for a human being – assuming of course they are acting in God’s name, or perhaps if they are exercising the will of God?

  9. casey says:

    You’re comparing apples and oranges.

  10. PTET says:

    Apples and oranges? Are you being serious?

    This is from an article on your site:

    Presuppositions and the Existence of God
    by Dennis McCallum

    People who accept that there is such a thing as morality must also presuppose a personal basis for morals. But naturalists have no such basis in their world view. Ask yourself, “Is it morally wrong to sexually abuse 3 year olds?” “Is this purely a personal moral preference, or is there a universal moral standard at stake?” If such a moral is universal, and lies outside of the individual’s decision to make it a moral, then there must be a basis

    McCallum’s ludicrous ignorance of “naturalists” aside, it seems that by your own descripton of God, there is no “universal” standard of morality.

    For if it was Universal, God would be expected to comply with the same rules of behaviour as he expects from his creation.

    Isn’t the basis of morality?
    But you are saying for God:

    MIGHT IS RIGHT
    THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
    DO WHAT I SAY NOT DO AS I DO
    THE STANDARD IS PERFECTION

    …And, it seems to me and I apologize if I am wrong, but you are avoiding the very simple questions:

    Are these moral standards also acceptable for a human being – assuming of course they are acting in God’s name, or perhaps if they are exercising the will of God?

    To me, your description of God is as a tyrant.

    Now if that is how you see God – as a benevolent tyrant – then fine, I understand you.

    But it is very clear that the morality you are arguing for may be “absolute”… But it is not “objective”. For it to be objective it would have to apply in all circumstances, surely.

  11. casey says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s take “the end justifies the means.” Explain to me how this can apply to someone who is all-knowing. If I know every possible outcome of every possible situation and I choose the best out of all possibilities, how is that “the end justifies the means”? How could such a description ever apply to choices made by God?

    But let’s go back to “the standard is perfection.” I already told you I don’t think this is a standard God is actively setting. You chose to repeat your argument without addressing my comment, so I think we can both agree now that you are not interested in a discussion.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Ash75 says:

    >God is answerable to no-one because he is all-powerful

    I’d say he is answerable to no one because he is the creator.

    >The “big picture” justifies God drowning innocents

    As our creator, God has the right to bring us into the afterlife when and how he so chooses. It is there we will be judged for our actions.

    >God is not subject to the same rules he sets for us

    Correct. Just as he is not subject to the laws of nature, which he created.

    >He sets impossible standards

    I agree. The key is to realize that you cannot live up to God’s standards on your own. He wants us to humble ourselves to him. The key is humility, although so many people shake their fist at God and demand him to live by their rules. His law is the tutor that shows us we all fall short of the righteousness he requires.

    It’s funny to me when atheists try to claim they have the upper hand where morality is concerned, but they think we’re nothing more than a bag of molecules bumping into each other in a random, mindless, and meaningless universe. Here’s an email I sent to another atheist who never replied to me. Maybe you’d be nice enough to grace me with a reply, PTET:

    I noticed you have spent a great deal of energy attacking Christianity on your site, but I was wondering:

    1) Do you believe in an intelligent creator?
    2) If so, do you believe that creator is able to interact with its creatures as a personal being?

    If you believe that nothing exists beyond the bounds of materialism, then how can you honestly determine what is right and what is wrong?

    If the world exists of atoms and molecules which happened to arrange themselves into complex biological systems by chance, then ultimately there is nothing wrong with rearranging those molecules to how you see fit. Slaughtering millions of innocents would be no worse than a meteor crashing into the sun. After all, all this would involve is an alteration of atoms and molecules. Why couldn’t the stronger organism kill the weaker organism because it feels good? Morality is ultimately reduced to opinion in this scenario, and who has the right to condemn someone with moral standards different from his or her own? If your conscience tells you that it is wrong to
    rape and murder, what if someone else feels it is perfectly normal to do these things? On what basis can you condemn these actions other than you feel it is wrong?

    Forgive me for not reading your site thoroughly, but the impression I received from your writings as a “freethinker” were that, at this point in your quest for truth, you have lost belief in the supernatural (that is, anything existing outside the bounds of materialism).

    Hope to hear from you!

    – Ash75

  13. PTET says:

    Hi Casey

    Please don’t stop talking – I really want to understand this.

    Let’s take “the end justifies the means.” Explain to me how this can apply to someone who is all-knowing. If I know every possible outcome of every possible situation and I choose the best out of all possibilities, how is that “the end justifies the means”? How could such a description ever apply to choices made by God?

    Earlier in this thread you wrote: “… the consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion is that God has removed his protective hand (as much a consequence as it was a punishment), and the laws of physics are now all that apply.”

    God knew this would happen, right? I completely understand your argument that all of the suffering in the world is art of God’s master plan… But if you are saying it was impossible for God to act in a way that would alleviate that suffering, then *you* are limiting what God can do.

    Could God allow the laws of physics to apply fully, but not to harm innocent young children? If not, why not?

    These are not new questions of course. They are at the very essence of “the problem of evil”.

    I think we’ve had a fascinating discussion here. I just wondered if you had an explanation which did not, in effect, come out as “this is the best of all possible worlds”, which with respect, seems philosophically weak.

    But let’s go back to “the standard is perfection.” I already told you I don’t think this is a standard God is actively setting. You chose to repeat your argument without addressing my comment,

    Apologies – I misunderstood you. You wrote: “All men are destined to eternal separation (hell) from the holy Creator without his intervention. Even a single sin is an infinite offense against a holy God. The standard isn’t “good” it’s “perfection.””

    But I see you are saying that we need not reach that “perfection” alone – we can meet it through his intervention, by which I take it you mean reaching out to God.

    On that basis, I do not understand the philosophical basis for saying that this “reaching out” applies to one religion and not to any other – or even that (say) atheists could not “reach out” to God through good works and living well.

    so I think we can both agree now that you are not interested in a discussion.

    On the contrary, I am. And please do correct me if I’ve misunderstood anything you have said. I am all too human!

  14. casey says:

    But if you are saying it was impossible for God to act in a way that would alleviate that suffering, then *you* are limiting what God can do.

    Not anymore than I am limiting God by agreeing that God cannot create a rock bigger than he can lift. I do not believe that omnipotence entails being capable of performing self-contradictions.

    But I see you are saying that we need not reach that “perfection” alone – we can meet it through his intervention, by which I take it you mean reaching out to God.

    No, I mean that it is impossible for us to reach perfection, period. God’s dual nature of holiness and loving-kindness creates a dilemma. We must be separated from him because of our unholiness, but we must be united with him because of his love. The only way to overcome the dilemma was for God to take the punishment on himself. We don’t reach perfection, Jesus reached it for us.

  15. PTET says:

    Hi Ash 75

    Thanks for your answer!

    I agree. The key is to realize that you cannot live up to God’s standards on your own. He wants us to humble ourselves to him. The key is humility, although so many people shake their fist at God and demand him to live by their rules. His law is the tutor that shows us we all fall short of the righteousness he requires.

    This is the crux of the issue… The nature of God The Father. The answer of religion is submission to God. I understand that. I just do not think that we, as humans or as societies or as a world, have or perhaps even can have an idea of what “God” is. Perhaps that’s just my opinion. But to me all human notions of God seem like man-made constructs. How can or could we know “The Mind of God”?

    Or more importantly, how would we ever know that we have understood the actual mind of God, as opposed to human construct of what we think the mind of god is?

    I noticed you have spent a great deal of energy attacking Christianity on your site, but I was wondering:My interests are religion and philosophy. I spend substantially less energy talking about Christianity than many websites :)

    1) Do you believe in an intelligent creator?

    I am agnostic on the topic. I do think, however, we can rule out visions of God which require exclusive forms of worship (such as the traditional Islamic and Christian traditions) on various philosophical grounds. But that’s another question.

    I agree with most Christian philosophers and scientists when the say that the notion of “ID Theory” is pseudo-scientific hokum.

    2) If so, do you believe that creator is able to interact with its creatures as a personal being?

    If there is such a being, “he” seems to be going out of his way to ensure that people can’t agree what “He” is or what “He” says!

    If you believe that nothing exists beyond the bounds of materialism, then how can you honestly determine what is right and what is wrong?

    My entire point here is that your only definitions of “right” and “wrong” are God’s Will. If God wills it, it’s right. If God doesn’t will it, it’s wrong. God is exempt from following his own rules. That me absolute, but I don’t think it’s moral. Since I think it would be logically inconstant for God to be that way, I think we can reasonably conclude that if God exists He is not as you describe.

    But to get back to your question, yes, of course we can honestly determine what is right and wrong. Sometimes the questions and answers are not easy… But very, very often they are easy. We have evolved over millions of years into complex social creatures. Every culture has morality and an ethical framework. We have “the Golden Rule”, physio-chemical inhibitions against incest, strong cultural imperatives against theft, killing, adultery, and violence… All these things.

    If you believe that God guided or even was fully in control of human development (and even if you believe he “poofed” us into existence), then these moral imperatives come from God.

    If you don’t believe in God, then these moral imperatives still exist whether you like them or not.

    We are not individuals alone. We are part of society, culture and hell, even our species.

    Just as evolution does not work on the level of individuals, society, morality and ethics are meaningless as individuals – they only have meaning and importance when other people come into play.

    If the world exists of atoms and molecules which happened to arrange themselves into complex biological systems by chance, then ultimately there is nothing wrong with rearranging those molecules to how you see fit.

    Absolute nonsense. We have to answer to ourselves, our families, our culture, our society and so on. These issues are not decided by “vote”. Societies are incredibly complex and slow-moving phenomena. Again, we are not individuals alone, no matter how much some people want to be.

    One of the most amusing things, Ash75, is how professed atheists are less likely to break the law or end up in prison than professed religious people. (I accept many of these religious people won’t be religious at all in reality). Why? Because professed atheists spend the time to think about the consequences of their actions.

    If you stopped believing in God, Ash75, would you go out and rape and murder and kill? If not, why not?

    There. I hope I have fully answered your question.

    Why couldn’t the stronger organism kill the weaker organism because it feels good?

    Because whether we believe in God or not, we as conscious beings have a staggering responsibility which non-concious beings do not have… And history shows time and time again that people who look after their own ends fail. We live in an astoundingly complex Universe, Ash75.

    I received from your writings as a “freethinker” were that, at this point in your quest for truth, you have lost belief in the supernatural (that is, anything existing outside the bounds of materialism).

    The supernatural may exist, Ash75. The problem is that we have no way of knowing what it might be, beyond our own thoughts. You cannot demonstrate that God *does* exist beside me any more than I can demonstrate that invisible dancing pixies *don’t* exist beside you.

    I have not got a problem in the slightest with investigations of the supernatural.

    What I do object to is people claiming that *their* version of what they think the supernatural is somehow trumps what everyone else can see in nature.

    That’s when things get dangerous.

    Here’s an interesting point. According to the Christian Barna Research Group, Born Again Christians in the US are *more* likely than the general population to believe in astrology and reincarnation… Even hough these things are supposedly not part of their religion.

    I think that says a lot :)

    Kind regard and thanks for reading this far!

    P

  16. PTET says:

    Hi Casey

    Thanks for taking the time to write again.

    do not believe that omnipotence entails being capable of performing self-contradictions.

    That, effectively, is why I do not believe that the “Christian” God exists. I think the notion of the Christian God is logically inconsistent. That, of course, does not rule out the possibility of some kind of God.

    The only way to overcome the dilemma was for God to take the punishment on himself. We don’t reach perfection, Jesus reached it for us.

    That makes sense if you are a Christian, but it does not make the slightest bit sense if you are not a Christian. That’s the real problem you have.

    In any case, my “war”, if you want to call it that, is with those who wish to spread ignorance… Not with God, not with Christians… and certainly not with people as polite and welcoming as you :)

    Thanks for talking Casey.

  17. Ash75 says:

    Hi PTET,

    Wow, you really crammed a lot of deep questions into that post. I’ll try to take a crack at as many as I can. Like Casey, I have no theological degree, but this is simply a result of my own studies.

    >How can or could we know “The Mind of God”?

    The Bible says we were created in God’s image, and that God wrote his “law on our hearts.” This basically means the conscience, which is like a partially broken compass now, and often times we choose to go against it, but it still works to some extent. This in itself should give us an idea of how God wants us to live. Certain aspects of God’s nature are revealed in the Bible, yet some of his actions remain a mystery to us, which is also mentioned there.

    >Or more importantly, how would we ever know that we have
    >understood the actual mind of God, as opposed to human
    >construct of what we think the mind of god is?

    See my answer above.

    >I noticed you have spent a great deal of energy attacking
    >Christianity on your site, but I was wondering:My interests
    >are religion and philosophy. I spend substantially less
    >energy talking about Christianity than many websites

    Sorry. This was actually an email I sent to someone else, so that part may not apply to you. Although a cursory glance at your website gave me the impression of a strongly anti-Christian world view.

    >>1) Do you believe in an intelligent creator?
    >I am agnostic on the topic.

    Thank you for clearing that up. I was under the impression you were an atheist since you called yourself one in a previous post on this thread: “Was the death my fault because I am an atheist?”

    >I agree with most Christian philosophers and scientists when
    >the say that the notion of “ID Theory” is pseudo-scientific hokum.

    I doubt most Christian philosophers think that way. As for the scientists, I’ll bet there are a lot more than you think willing to consider it, but are afraid for their careers. If a remote control device with an encoded language and power source was found floating in space, which if these options would be a more beneficial way to spend your time and energy:

    A) Assume that it somehow spontaneously created itself, along with the encoded language and power source, then devote your life to trying to prove how this happened–although it flies in the face of everything we know about intelligence and information.

    B) Apply what we know about intelligence, information, and how they are related to the object, then set out to discover as much as possible about its inner-workings, its designer, and how we can apply those design aspects to our own inventions, to ultimately improve our lives.

    I’d say both are worthy endeavors to some extent, but the first one is given far too much energy, time, and money considering how fruitless it has been for the past 150 years or so.

    >If there is such a being, “he” seems to be going out of his way
    >to ensure that people can’t agree what “He” is or what “He”
    >says!

    I’m not saying that what the majority believes is right, but most people in the world do believe in a higher power. Even here in “secular” Japan most people I talk to believe in a creator. I even suspect that atheists believe deep in their hearts that they are not a product of random chance. There is a lot of disagreement about who God is, even among the body of Christ–in this very thread no less! But I believe that those who diligently seek after God in humility, instead of spending their lives trying to disprove him, will ultimately find him. I think that Jesus made his parables somewhat ambiguous to reveal the hearts of those who heard them. Some would laugh them off as nonsense and try to find contradictions, while others would soften their hearts and seek the meanings hidden within.

    >My entire point here is that your only definitions of
    >“right” and “wrong” are God’s Will.

    That is correct. Thank you for summing it up for me.

    >God is exempt from following his own rules.

    As I have said many times, that is because he operates on a different level than us. Should the administer of a test be treated as one of the students, and not be allowed to look at the answer sheet to correct the tests?

    >If you believe that God guided or even was fully in control
    >of human development (and even if you believe he “poofed” us
    >into existence), then these moral imperatives come from God.

    This applies to what I mentioned earlier about the conscience. I do believe that God “poofed” us into existence by the way–on the 6th day. :)

    >One of the most amusing things, Ash75, is how professed
    >atheists are less likely to break the law or end up in
    >prison than professed religious people.

    One thing I’ve noticed with many atheists is how prideful they are in how “good” they act. It’s almost as if they do it to spite Christians, and to say they are better people without God or something. Another thing to ponder is that atheists make up a very small portion of the population, while we live in a “Christian” society in which many people carry the label, but might not carry the faith in their hearts. Finally, I don’t know what led each person responsible for the crime to do what he or she did. I think those responsible for crimes such as murder, Christian or not, should be swiftly executed, and God can sort them out in the afterlife.

    >If you stopped believing in God, Ash75,
    >would you go out and rape and murder and kill?

    No I would not.

    >If not, why not?

    Because it would go against my conscience. However, I ultimately couldn’t condemn someone for wanting to rape and murder if that was their preference. By what authority could I do so? It’s nothing more than a re-arrangement of molecules, is it not?

    >Because whether we believe in God or not, we as conscious
    >beings have a staggering responsibility which non-concious
    >beings do not have.

    Where does this “staggering responsibility” come from? Society? It seems as though Hitler’s Nazi Germany, along with Stalin’s, Mao’s, and Pol Pot’s Communist societies thought that their “staggering responsibility” was to kill off the weak so that the strong could survive and flourish. How can that world view be condemned if ultimately we are a product of random chance?

    >We live in an astoundingly complex Universe, Ash75.

    I agree, and marvel at the complexity that only a brilliant mind could conceive of.

    >society, morality and ethics are meaningless as individuals

    So would it be OK for me as an individual to chop up, cook, and eat someone I didn’t like if it was the norm in a culture I was living in?

    >The problem is that we have no way of knowing what it might
    >be, beyond our own thoughts.

    This is false. We have our conscience, broken as it may be, it still holds the “Golden Rules” that you speak of. We also have the creation, in which we can see how it applies to the mind of our creator. And finally, we have the Bible, which compliments the creation, and reveals many details about our creator and what he thinks of us.

    >You cannot demonstrate that God *does* exist beside me any
    >more than I can demonstrate that invisible dancing pixies
    >*don’t* exist beside you.

    This sounds like the Santa Claus argument that atheists often bring up. But as I just mentioned, we have the creation, consciousness, and a conscience. These things are ample proof that a creator god exists. The universe either has always been here, popped into existence by itself from nothing, or was created. Which of those options seems the most feasible? Science says that a fire cannot burn forever, so the universe would have burned out by now, which eliminates the idea of it being here forever. It also says that matter can neither be created or destroyed (within the physical laws as we know them), so it couldn’t have popped into existence on its own out of nothing. This leaves us with a supernatural creator that brought the physical laws and everything under them into existence. Santa Claus and pixies have nothing to do with where the universe came from.

    >I have not got a problem in the slightest with investigations
    >of the supernatural.

    That’s funny, I thought you just said “the notion of “ID Theory” is pseudo-scientific hokum.”

    >What I do object to is people claiming that *their* version
    >of what they think the supernatural is somehow trumps what
    >everyone else can see in nature. That’s when it gets dangerous.

    I think people have every right to claiming that *their* version is right. It’s called freedom of speech. But I also think the evidence should be weighed peacefully and honestly. People should not be forced to believe in something they hate. Even though I may not have an accurate picture of what happened during the Crusades, or the Inquisitions, or any of the other “Christian”-based injustices that atheists revel in, I can say that these injustices are not consistent with what Jesus taught in the Bible. Could you agree with that? I could however say that the injustices done in atheistic Communist societies such as Pol Pot’s Cambodia are completely consistent with their world view, and ultimately cannot be condemned by an atheist, other than it goes against his or her own preference.

    >According to the Christian Barna Research Group, Born Again
    >Christians in the US are *more* likely than the general
    >population to believe in astrology and reincarnation

    This is irrelevant to the discussion, and I’ve seen studies that say just the opposite. Secular people here in Japan are very superstitious. Many follow the Buddhist calendar, and avoid having their children born on a certain day in fear of bad luck. Others get spooked if you try to sleep facing North at night, while others follow the Chinese horoscope or Western horoscope for every day decisions, avoid number 4 and 9, have a Shinto priest perform a ritual before building a new house to ward off the evil ghosts they don’t believe in, etc. To tie this into the conversation, I’d say this is evidence that everyone is searching for guidance from something higher than themselves. This is a natural vacuum that ultimately draws those to God who seek him.

    >Kind regard and thanks for reading this far!

    My pleasure. I always like to hear what the latest atheist argument is. It helps me hone my own arguments. ;)

    Casey, I need to apologize to you for taking up so much space on your blog, especially on this thread since it has nothing to do with the original discussion. So here I go: Sorry.

  18. PTET says:

    Hi Ash

    I’ll keep this as brief as I can.

    1. The world is not 6,000 years old, and the Bible is not “true”. A vast and overwhelming amount of knowledge from hundreds of different disciplines say so. Live with it. The Universe as understood by science is infinitely huger and more astounding than the YEC world. That means there is more of God to marvel. Be happy with that.

    2. I am philosophically agnostic… But for the purposes of general discussion I am an atheist. I believe in one less God than you do.

    3. Support for “Intelligent Design” is negligible even within the religious scientific community. Even the IDers themselves say that. Look it up. It never ceases to amaze me how astoundingly ignorant ID supporters are about just how little support ID has. But then, ignorance is what keeps people YECers. Again, look it up. On the ID’s own websites.

    4. The “God” you describe is a tyrant, a bully and psychopath. If you can live with that, then bully for you.

    5. Nazism and Communism were utterly evil… But that evil comes from Fundamentalism and the rejection of Reason… Fundamentalism in all its forms is still the biggest danger mankind faces.

    6. Investigations of the supernatural are for theology, philosophy and art.

    7. Japan might be a secular country, but yes it’s people tend to be very superstitious. People over the world tend to be superstitious. So what? Belief does not mean truth.

    8. I have no idea what caused or governs the Universe… But it is a wonderful thing to explore. It saddens me that so many people, like yourself, limit their imagination to the simple non-answer “God Did It”.

    But hey, you know in your heart of hearts that you are saved and that I am damed to burn in hell eternally. I hope that gives you some comfort.

    Peace and love Ash – I wish you and your loved ones a long happy life.

    P

  19. Rick Rouse says:

    But hey, you know in your heart of hearts that you are saved and that I am damed to burn in hell eternally. I hope that gives you some comfort.

    I would have to say that I believe the same thing, and it gives me no comfort at all to “know” that a fellow human being is destined for an eternity in hell. But it all boils down to individual personal beliefs, and as much as ours differ from one another I’m glad we can have this discussion without the government or anyone else stepping in to stop it.

    Concerning our opinins about the existance of our Christian God, one of us is obviously right, and one of us is obviously wrong. I’m quite comfortable in my belief that I’m the one who is right, and my guess is you are too. Thanks for taking part in this discussion – your responses are quite interesting even though I believe them to be way off the mark.

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