Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Dialogue

Here's a conversation I had with an atheist at Vox's blog over the past couple of days. I thought it might interest some of you, so I've posted it below without comment:

Commenter: You believe that the Jews are God's chosen people? Why? Because their early writers said so? If you step back and take a long look look at this "God chose us" claim made by the Jews, it exposes itself as the self-serving nonsense it really is.

Me: I believe for two reasons: One, I accept that the Holy Bible is God's inspired Word. Therein, it is made clear that they are His chosen ones. My second reason blends w/ the first. No other group of people has experienced such sustained & methodical persecution as the Jews. Yet they manage surviving & flourishing wherever they find themselves. I see this as evidence of the Bible's validity.

Commenter: It's a handy tool the Jews have used from day one to justify whatever they have wanted to do as an identifiable group of people, from the mass slaughter of the Canaanites to the ejecting of Palestinians from their homes.

Me: Really? Tell that to the many, many Americans & Israelis who publicly & vociferently identify as Jews, while distancing themselves from religious connotations as much as possible. The ADL is but one example. And your comment about the Palestinians indicates moral ambiguity.

Commenter: To believe that your god, or the Jews god, or any god for that matter, would OK this sort of conduct is to be sucked in by a crude--but obvioulsy effective--con job.

Me: Now you're being silly; I made no claim that God approves every action from the Jews. It's a red herring. Being God's chosen people does not suggest a state of moral perfection, nor is that the traditional Christian understanding of their status.

Commenter: If God (big G) really exists, it is the God that has created us all, a God that would not pick out a single human soul amongst the sum total us all to elevate and glorify, much the less so for any particular group of humans. Perhaps God's one and only half-human son could be the exception, but certainly no other person, or group of people, whatever they may claim to the contrary.

Me: I agree that He created us all. As for the rest, setting a group apart as special purveyors of His Word to the rest of the world does not equal "glorification." In truth, such a position entailed great hardship & villification.

BTW, haven't you identified yourself as an atheist or agnostic in other threads on this blog? Correct me if I'm wrong. If so, why should I take your presumptions about a supposedly nonexistent God's thought processes seriously?

Commenter: One may actually think it's totally logical to believe in such blatant discrimination by God, and the chain of logic may be flawless and unarguable, but the logic is based on a false premise, a premise that has to include the idea that God is subject to human emotions. That would not be God. That would be a man-made god, custom designed to support any particular desire or need one can imagine, a convienient god, a comfortable god, and, IMO, a completely rejectable god.

Me: Again, more presumptuousness from a professed unbeliever. Scripture makes it clear that God displays emotions similar to ours, such as anger, sadness, love, & pleasure. The difference is that His aren't marred by a sinful framework, but come from spiritual & moral perfection.

The Christian understanding is that God created a good world that fell into ruin due to sin. So our emotions are a pale & sin-wracked imitation of His, not vice-versa.

Scripture depicts God as having emotions, w/out being a comfortable, convenient, wish-granting God. In fact, He's the diametric opposite of all three.

I suggest you find a Bible & read it, w/ a sincere effort at comprehension. You say that I labor under a false premise, yet you provide zero evidence for this beyond your own opinion about how God would do things, alas, if He only existed. Congratulations on the superlative hubris.

Commenter: Wes, You appear to believe in a god made in man's image, complete with--as you say-- anger, sadness, love and pleasure. That's no god, that's just a human contruct designed to make you feel better.

What is so hard about realizing--regardless of what you've been taught to believe--that a real God would have no human emotions? That they would be fatal weaknesses for an all-powerful being?

It is emotions that make us lose self-control, to explode in anger, to lash out, and if we had unlimited power--like the power to create a universe--one temper fit and it would be all over for everybody, everything, everywhere.

So, the fact that the universe exists today demonstrates to me that either God is not subject to human emotions, or that God is in reality a man-made fantasy.

I absolutey believe you cannot have it both ways.

One other thing: You actually believe that God's anger comes from spiritual and moral perfection? You have GOT to be joking!

Me: I believe in the Bible's representation of God. The brief picture I painted is the biblical one.

As I said earlier, our emotions are a poor reflection of His, not the other way around. Our emotions are problematic because they are steeped in a sinful nature. Imagine emotion w/out this burden.

A real god w/out emotions would be a divinity incapable--by definition--of caring about its creation. How would a god indifferent to its creatures ever muster the motivation for the act of creating? That concept is no more appealing than the emotional God you decry.

As for God's anger, have you ever heard of the concept of righteous anger? Is wrath always wrong, & always improperly expressed? I'm betting you don't think so.

If you take nothing else away from my remarks, understand that I'm saying yes, God has emotions, but His feelings are not hampered by the sin nature of mankind. This is a major difference between the two.

Commenter: Hmmm.

Look around the world, take a good objective nose-out-of-the-bible look, and then tell me you see signs of emotional and caring God.

"Righteous Anger"? Bah. No different in concept than righteous rape, or righteous lying, or righteous stealing.

You people just can't get the human out of your god.

That is real hubris.

Me: I know of plentiful evidence. How about compassionate people who risk their lives to help or rescue total strangers from death? WWII is replete w/ such examples, & many, many of those who made these sacrifices were Christians, led by their beliefs to act on them. How about answered prayers? I know, I know, answered prayers are coincidences, & sympathetic Christians are just people. I see God behind all of it, & I'm fully aware that I can't prove His existence beyond doubt. I acknowledge the need for faith.

So are you suggesting that anger is inherently immoral? Assuming you believe rape, lying, & stealing are wrong, it's the only conclusion I can draw from your comment.

It's only hubris if it's wrong. You've not demonstrated that.

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