Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – various thoughts about religion and a God Squad bit of nonsense

For those who follow my blog for food, wine, etc.  these posts titled “not so polite dinner conversation” ain’t that.  It’s all about politics and religion.

Various bits on the topic of religion:

I’ve been watching Christians fuss at each other on John Branyan’s website (you can see some of his comments here on this blog).  For people who each claim that they have the truth about a magical being, they do have a problem convincing each other.  I wonder if it could be the lack of evidence?  For those who don’t know, JB fancies himself a Christian comedian.  He is funny in a hilariously unintentional way.

Here in PA, there is a big report coming out that shows just how incompetent and malignant the Roman Catholic Church is when it comes to protecting children.   It also shows how imaginary or evil this god must be if it exists and allows these horrible things to happen.

It’s also been awhile since I’ve looked at one of the God Squad’s columns.   This time Rabbi Gellman doesn’t fare any better than the last ones. IF you want to take a look at some of my past blog posts about the rabbi and his peculiar theology here are a few:   Where Gellman tries to claim free will to excuse his god’s failures with child abuse.

And tries to claim that it doesn’t matter if this god of his punishes people or not.  What a lovely way to try to argue that those priests, etc  are just fine as they are.  Rabbis are known for their abuses too, so I’m sure the rabbi has some skin in the gam when trying to defend his fellows.  Or you can just put “Gellman” in the search field to your right.

The most recent is part of a sequence of questions the rabbi tries to answer.   He is quite a twit in the initial questions, and pathetically wants to tell people how to love their family and pets.  He does advise to just “omit” things, just so the pastor/priest/rabbi doesn’t have to say something less than what the rabbi considers “dignified” and so “graciously” says he will understand.

What I want to focus on is what the rabbi has new to say about the topic of free will.  He’s crashed and burned on this subject before, see above.  But it’s even more bizarre now.  Now, that event in the garden is what this god wanted…. Even though he got awful pissed about it, per the bible.   Let’s see what he says:

Q: Is there any possibility that we have no free will? Could God control our every thought and action, causing us to act like robots? Is there any evidence that this is not true? — From J in Wilmington, N.C.

A: Yes, J. It is possible that free will is an illusion. Yes, it is possible that God controls our every thought and action causing us to act like robots. There are, however, several problems with this possibility.

The first problem with the possibility that God controls everything we do is that God seems to be doing a really poor job. If God is all knowing and all powerful and all good, then there seems to be no good reason why the world is filled with so much evil and so many bad choices.

The second problem with a world without free will is that nobody would be morally responsible for their bad choices. It would all be God’s fault. We humans would merely be, in your words, “robots” — and robots are not moral agents. Robots cannot be held responsible for what they do. Moral accountability requires free will.

The third problem is that the Bible explicitly teaches us that we DO have free will precisely because God wants us to grow into our humanity and accept moral responsibility for our actions. 

The first text that clearly addresses free will is the Garden of Eden narrative. Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The act that humanizes them is an act of acquiring moral free will. Now there is a Christian problem with the Eden texts and it was highlighted in a roaring 16th-century debate between Erasmus and Martin Luther. Erasmus thought that people had free will. Luther thought that since the eating of the forbidden fruit was the original sin, people could never use their free will to overcome sin. People were doomed without the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus and thus were not really accountable for their sins.

A more direct and definitive text bearing on the biblical teaching about free will is from Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV), “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” So God has set before us a choice between good and evil, life and death, and expects us to use our free will to make the choice of life.

I do not know, nor can anyone know with absolute certainty, if free will is real or just an illusion in a fatalistic universe, but what I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that I can only live in a world where I am not God’s robot, but rather God’s partner.

Again, the rabbi ignores that his god never mentions free will in the bible (wait a moment if you are Christian and think that it does) and does all it can to remove it repeatedly from many many people.   Gellman must have free will or his god is a monster, and he can’t have that.   We have Adam and Eve who have no free will, because they don’t have any idea what that is and they are made to be what they are.  They have no knowledge of good or evil, and we have this god either allowing evil into the garden intentionally or that it was unable to keep it out.   However, the rabbi now wants to claim that this god wanted that whole thing to happen, because it gave us free will.  Really, then why would this god punish A&E for doing what it wanted?  Indeed, why did it punish the “serpent” for doing exactly what it supposedly required, per Gellman?

The rabbi does a great job at pointing out that with a god like is presented in the bible, and not his newly invented version, there is no reason to have evil in the world, so many bad choices, etc.   And yes, no one would be morally responsible for their choices if a god made them do what it wanted, just like this god did in the story of Exodus, in the story of Judas’ betray which was required by this god, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the rabbi doesn’t say where he gets his claim that the “bible explicitly teaches us we DO have free will precisely because God wants us to grow into our humanity and accept moral responsibility for our actions”.  Perhaps someone else knows where this is, but having read the bible a couple of times, I don’t recall this at all.  Indeed, the bible says the exact opposite of this in Romans 9 where it says that this god created peopled to be damned or saved at its whim aka “grace”, with no action by humans able to change this.

The rabbi does quote Deuteronomy 30:19 ““I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Which is where most theists run to when they want to claim free will is in the bible.  But they always quote it without what it says around it.  Here it is:

11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God[b] that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

 Now, doesn’t that first paragraph sound rather familiar, someone who goes and gets this forgiveness?  But this god doesn’t offer that, it says follow the commandments given in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  You obey or your die.  Not exactly a choice, no matter how it is presented. It is the classic “offer you can’t refuse”.  This god is no more than a mafia don.  And funny how this promise from this god never pans out, and this god, supposedly being omniscient, would know that his supposed chosen people would fail in his laws.  You’d think a rabbi would know this, and not quote out of context, but cherry picking is nothing new to the theist, especially those who fancy themselves leaders and teachers.

Unfortunately for Rabbi Gellman, he does not live in a universe where he is this god’s robot or partner.  But he does reveal that what the believer wants is far more important than the supposedly holy texts that they claim are what they follow.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – this year Easter is on April Fool’s Day

Problems not only geology but animals. Happy Lent!

Hello, I’ve changed my wordpress theme for my blog since it was getting a little hard to read, even for me, with the grey on black.  If it’s a little too big for you, you can change your zoom on your web browser.

I’ve done various posts about Easter over the years I’ve been blogging.   The story of the crucifixion and resurrection is even more contradictory than the Christmas story, with events claimed to have happened in one gospel which would preclude events happening in other gospels.  What we generally get is a version that combines whatever the Christian wants to claim, though its a synthesis of all four gospels plus Acts.   I was watching Rick Steves’ travel special on how Easter is celebrated in Europe and he gave a version that mixed everything together and ignored the problematic bits.  It was still a very good special, and worth sitting through the pledge breaks to see it.

People like me, who question Christianity and its claims, often get told that the details don’t matter when we point out the repeated contradictions in the Easter story.   That is a common answer for a lot of questions about Christianity, we shouldn’t question why things are so screwy.  In a recent God Squad column, Rabbi Gellman answers a question from a high school student: “Hi, I am a junior at Mercy High School in Middletown, Conn. I wanted to say how happy I am to know that there is someone out there willing to answer questions from teenagers. Not a lot of adults do. My theology class enjoys reading your articles and reflecting on them every day. My question is does God punish wrongdoings like people say?”

And what is Gellman’s answer?  “This is my answer: IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. It doesn’t matter whether or not God punishes evil or rewards goodness because on the highest level of human virtue is the understanding that goodness is its own reward and evil is its own punishment.”

However, it does matter.  If this god doesn’t do as the bible claims, both in the OT and NT, then there is no reason to believe in the books or the god.  This god is claimed to be the judge and jury on what is good and evil and this god repeatedly hands out punishment in the bible.  Now, what the rabbi seems to be doing here is finding an excuse to ignore the question by the student because if he says that this god does punish evil, the next question is “How?”  “Where?” and most importantly “When?”   And since the rabbi cannot show that this god does anything at all, much less punishing the wicked and helping the good, he finds himself with a problem.  In reality, there is no divine intervention to show that this god exists or gives a damn about morality.  Indeed, we can see that this god’s morals change with how humans change, not the other way around.

Gellman tries to avoid the problem by insisting that people should be good because being good is the “right thing to do”, it’s beneficial, etc.   Well then no one needs this god at all.  There is no need for a blood sacrifice to appease a god for humans being just as this god would know they would be.  The whole thing is nonsense.

I would challenge the Christians who read my blog to actually read the gospels and Acts and consider the discrepancies in the stories, e.g. number of angels, what JC did, etc.  If the most important story for your religion is so screwed up, then why should anyone believe it?

Other posts on Easter, with more juicy details:

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – what has become the annual easter post

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Easter, the supposed events and implications

What the Boss Likes – welcome to Easter, syncretic religion at its best

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – that ol’ war on Easter

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Science can’t explain how imaginary things work, therefore gods exist, a review of a God Squad column

jesus-with-a-dinosaur-1In this past week’s God Squad column, Rabbi Gellman addresses “intelligent design”, the term invented by creationists to hide the religious origin and source for their attempts to have their myths taught in the classroom as the truth. (note: the column in my paper was severely chopped in comparison to the one in the link)

The querent this week asked if the Judeo-Christian god created the universe in seven days, where do the dinosaurs fit in.  They note that the fossil record shows that humanity and the dinos were separated by “millennia” (a millennium is a thousand years).   Of course, the fossil record shows that the dinos and us are separated by many many millennia, around 65,000 millennia aka 65 million years.

Gellman notes that there are various kinds of creationists.  The most ridiculous are the young earth creationists (YEC) who believe Bishop Ussher’s claim that the universe was created on October 22, 4004 BC  in the evening, etc, etc.  There are old earth creationists (OEC) who believe that the universe is older, from just a little older than Ussher’s claim to as old as the current data from cosmology shows, around 14.7 billion years for the universe, and 4.5 billion years for the earth.   These creationists also vary in what they believe about evolution.  In general, YEC are sure that their god created all the animals as we know them today, all at once. They often also claim that all animals were vegetarians until the magical “fall” of mankind.  OEC can vary on how much they think evolution played a part, from none at all, to essentially indistinguishable from an atheist, though they claim that their god started the whole process, very much like a Deist.

neil degrasse tyson scienceWe also have a very sad quote from Kurt Wise, Geology Ph.D,  who decided that he had to decide either the bible was true or science was, and he threw out science because it dared counter the nonsense in the bible.  Alas, this is what fear and arrogance does to people, sure that they will be punished if they don’t believe “correctly” and that they do believe correctly.  He’s also as good as our Christians apologists here on the website for not being able to provide one iota of the scientific evidence that he claims supports him.  Wise also seems to think he can pick and choose the science he finds to be true.  Alas for him, all science is based on the same method.  If it works for it all, then you can’t decide which is true and which isn’t.  The same science that supports evolutionary theory supports modern criminal forensics,  medicine, computers, internal combustion engines, etc.

It’s also great to note that YEC theists and OEC theists are absolutely sure each other are wrong, and both again have no evidence to support their nonsense but are sure that they and only they are the TrueChristians (examples: it’s a sin to be an OEC, per a YEC who is trying to scare everyone, and and Pat Robertson the OEC saying that the YEC position is “nonsense” ).

Gellman correctly notes that this quote from Wise presents a false dichotomy, that one has to accept one or the other fully.  He unfortunately claims that one of the possible other answer is “intelligent design”, the idea that some magical force had something to do with how the universe works, e.g. how it is designed.  Intelligent design can be either YEC or OEC, because it simply says one can see design in the universe, it does not require evolution as science knows the term.  It can also be of any religion, since there is no way to know which god/force, if any, was the creator.  It has been cloaked by theists in claims that it could also mean that aliens could be the creator but that does nothing but push the essential problem, who was the original creator, one step back.    It is entirely a religious concept,  and almost entirely a Judeo/Christo/Islamic concept, no matter the attempts to claim it otherwise.  One can see how the claims played out in the Dover case.  Even a conservative judge knew the claims of ID supporters to be were lies, nothing more than certain sects of certain religions trying to get their religion forced on everyone.

Gellman takes refuge in claiming that “Darwin’s hypothesis was more theory than scientific fact.”  That shows that the rabbi has no idea what those words mean in the scientific context and that he is very unfamiliar with evolutionary theory as it stands today.  Darwin, as nifty as he was, got some things wrong.  And science, has shown that, not religion.   Gellman says that the reason he knows that evolution is wrong is that it cannot explain human consciousness.  Alas for the rabbi, his argument depends on the assumption that it will *never* be able to explain it.  It also depends on the assumption that if we never find exactly why human consciousness happened, somehow all of the evidence that supports evolutionary theory is wrong.   I do hope that the rabbi will stop taking antibiotics since the science used to make them must be wrong and he must believe that they simply can’t work.

He does acknowledge that ID is “more religious belief than scientific fact” because it cannot explain how intelligent design works.  It simply says “god/magical force did it”.   He claims “each side got some things right and some things wrong”.    And this is nothing more than pandering to the theists.  There is no evidence that they have gotten anything correct about the origin of the universe by anything other than luck. There is evidence that they got things wrong over and over.

Gellman says that “evolutionists” are right in pointing out the bible isn’t a science textbook.  What he neglects to mention that it is also not a history book, and has very little, if anything, unique in it.  He claims that the bible is “very old and very young”,  that the parts about love and forgiveness are the “young parts” and the parts about a geocentric universe, the earth is flat, and the universe being created 5774 years ago (Jewish calendar) on October 23 at 10:30 AM, are the “old parts”.  So we are not to believe them because they are old (not to mention silly), but the new parts are somehow magically true?   It seems that the rabbi is not so much Jewish as Christian if we are to believe those new parts, including that new part about the messiah having come and resurrecting.

He says that science has “changed” and that tethering faith to “ancient and discredited science only assures us of an ancient and discredited religion.”  Which shows that science leads and religion follows.   Unfortunately for the rabbi, there wasn’t science in the bible, discredited or not, only baseless stories about magic and events that never happened, in both the “young” and “old” parts.  It is still an ancient and discredited religion.

Gellman says that the creationists and “intelligent design-ites” are right in pointing out the “utter uniqueness of human consciousness – something that appears nowhere else in nature.”  Of course, this again assumes that what we know will not change.   Rather than saying “yet”, the rabbi thinks that science will stand still, as he seems to think that evolutionary theory has stayed still since Darwin and has not changed.  That’s why ignorance is not a good place to start when trying to defend your position.

He makes the common theist claim that our brains can be products of evolution but how we think, pray or forgive cannot be, that they must be some magical thing.  Unfortunately, neurological research moves ahead and the theist remains behind, desperate to cling to ignorance to save his belief.   He also makes yet more claims that depend on his belief that nothing will change or will be discovered.  No, Rabbi, evolutionary biologists haven’t been able to fully describe how forces shape us, but that appears to be just a function of time.  They haven’t been able to fully describe things *yet*.  Your faith depends on a false belief that we will never find out anything else.  That is the classic god of the gaps argument.

Gellman also makes the baseless claim that “the laws of nature explained by evolution are not only insufficient but they are also the opposite of what we truly are as spiritual beings” e.g. the moral human argument for a god.  He of course does not say how they are insufficient and how he knows we are “spiritual beings”, a conclusion he has reached based on his belief that we somehow *must* be something “spiritual”, based on his religion, a religion that has nothing to support its claims.  He claims that “even ID” gets this wrong and only “faith” gets it right because nothing else supposed explains why we are “at our best compassionate and reflective” while nature is “amoral and bloody”.   Humans are certainly amoral and bloody too, as is the Judeo/Islamo/Christian god as described.

Finally, as so many theists have claimed, Gellman claims that the “higher purpose” of our human existence is with his god and that no scientist can begin “to understand or describe” the way to his god. Evidently no other kind of theist can either, which is what they say about their gods too.  What this purpose is, the rabbi doesn’t go into details, though his bible does.   If his young/old bible is right, this higher purpose could be several things, death with nothing else, a heaven that isn’t that much different from this life, an eternity of endlessly praising this god, or a city of gold and jewels on a new earth.   I suppose it depends on how he cherry picks this too: is it just the silly old bible with its silly claims or the shiny new one, with its silly claims?  Evolutionary theory may not be able to explain the origin of the human soul.   In that no one can show that it exists or agree on what it is or how it interacts with a physical body,  etc. that’s not surprising.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – speaking for God, a review of a recent God Squad, part 2

Dungeons-Dragons-650x429A few days back I addressed a  recent God Squad column,  where Rabbi Gellman thought to answer some questions that readers had the way he “hopes” that God would answer them.  Many of the answers are standard apologetics and excuses for the Judeo-Christian god.  I thought I’d share why this atheist finds the responses from “God” so unfortunate.  This is part 2.  Part 1 can be found here.

“Q: “God, why do you allow all those awful people to sexually and physically abuse innocent children?” — M., Plainview, NY

A: “My most controversial choice here in heaven was to grant human beings free will to choose good or evil. I did it because you can’t truly love each other or me unless you have free will. However, being free to choose love also means you’re free to choose hate. I wish freedom worked differently, but that’s the way it is. Some days I think I made the wrong choice.””

The free will argument, always a good one to watch fail thanks the purported holy books of the JC theist.  It fails as soon as one realizes as soon as this god interferes once, e.g. in a miracle, then free will is gone because someone’s free will has been usurped.  God had no problem in usurping the Pharaoh’s will, so why the inability to usurp the will of the predator?  We also have the problem that this god says that intent is as bad as action.  Where is the help for the children before anyone is harmed, only the perpetrator punished?  Speaking of pharaohs, I wonder, how was the free will of the first born considered?  They were in a monarchy where the guy in charge was literally considered a god. How is killing them because this god forced its will on the guy in charge allowing them free will?

Q: “God, will I recognize and be reunited in any form with my loved ones who’ve died before me?” — Anonymous, via cyberspace

A: “Yes!””

Well, maybe No! if one believes the bible and Jesus.  When Jesus was asked about the multiple husbands of one wife (no problem in handing a woman from brother to brother), he said that mortal attachments would be meaningless.  I guess it does say “any form” so if you are mindless being doing nothing but praise this god, you can be a bunch of mindless things.  Of course, if those loved ones who died before you didn’t worship in the “right” way, whatever that may be, you may be reunited by watching them on heaven-o-vision, per some Christian apologists who say you will get great satisfaction in seeing sinners suffer.  Or, if C.S. Lewis is right, you’ll forget about them all together.

“Q: “God, if you really exist and are the ultimate creator, then where did you come from and who created you?” — M., via cyberspace

A: “I made everything. Nobody made me. Check out Aristotle. He called me The Unmoved Mover. Aristotle was a very smart guy.””

Ah, the logical fallacy that if someone is smart anything they say is true.  It’s a variation on the appeal to authority.  Another famous figure that theists often invoke is Isaac Newton: Newton came up with the laws of gravitation, so any of his opinions are true.  Newton was also an alchemist, trying to turn lead into gold.  Assuming anything he says is true means that alchemy is as true as his theistic beliefs.  The idea of the Unmoved Mover is not that of the JC god, something that apologists consistently forget to mention, a force of intellect only that cannot interact with the world.  Incidentally, Aristotle thought that the stars were fixed.  They aren’t. This is a good example where it helps to know what someone really said and not what you were told they said.

Thanks to watching the first Cosmos series, we can also know that Aristotle thought slavery was acceptable.

“Q: “God, why must there be conflict between different religions?” — J., via cyberspace

A: “Because everything can be twisted and perverted. When you have the pleasure of understanding Me, nothing can go wrong.””

It does seem likely that most things, if not everything, can be twisted and perverted. Which begs the question, why does this god allow this?  If one believes the claims of the believes, this is a omnipotent, omniscient, and supposedly omnibenevolent being that wants everyone to believe in it.  By definition, it can do anything e.g. all-powerful, include prevent its supposed word from being twisted and perverted.  It either can’t do anything about it, and thus is not omni-everything, or it wants the confusion to exist.  The bible can be cited for evidence that it wants such confusion, that it goes out of its way to allow its archenemy free to cause more confusion *after* this god has killed everyone who didn’t agree with it (Revelation 20-21). There is also the problem of how does one know one has the “pleasure of understanding this god?  Does one believe in one of the believers who claim that they do?  In that we see that they have no special place in this world and that nothing goes especially well for them, we see that things do go wrong for everyone.

“Q: “God, why is there eternal punishment in hell?” — P., via cyberspace

A: “Because evil is not always punished on earth and goodness is not always rewarded. I needed to set things right eventually.””

The excuse here is nothing more than a claim of vengeance but off stage left, and don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.  Of course, the bad guys are getting their punishment and you will do if you don’t believe correctly. The problem is that evil was supposedly always punished on earth, once upon a time.  God was always about smiting those who didn’t agree with him.  Now?  Not so much.  What’s wrong with setting things right *now*

“Q: “God, if You had it to do over again, what would You do differently in creating us?” — E., Lynbrook, NY

A: “I would not change a thing. Except, I might make you better golfers.””

Ha-ha.  Serious questions, what a better time than to use a little humor (very little) to avoid the question.  This appears to be nothing more than the “best possible universe” that apologists use, to claim that this simply *has* to be the best universe since God created it that way.  Alas, I can think of better universes, one where small cell lung cancer didn’t exist, where humans weren’t affected by arsenic which one of our prime food sources, rice, is very good sucking up and transferring to us; where gallbladders didn’t get stones, the source of power for the planet e.g. the Sun also gives us cancer if we get too exposed to it, etc.

“Q: “Will all of the heartache, pain and suffering that I see around me and that I’ve experienced finally make sense to me in the end?” — N., Rockville Centre, NY

A: “You cannot be given the answer to your question. You must live your way into the answer.””

Aka Don’t bother me kid.  To say that one must “live you way to the answer” is meaningless, and appears to be a delaying tactic since it’s very hard to ask the question after you are dead.  I also ignores the problem: what if you live your life and you come up with the answer “no, it makes no sense and the universe simply doesn’t care.” Which can be a rather comforting thought as Marcus Cole said “I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”

“Q: “God, why haven’t you given up on us in the face of our continuous evil and rebellion?” — E., via cyberspace

A: “I did once. Read about Noah. Then I got more patient.””

God got more patient, hmmm? So this god is nothing more than human frailties writ large with the idea of impatience?  So much for an omnipotent omniscient being which would know exactly what would happen.  If I know that someone will fail, why would I get angry that they did?  This god didn’t get much more patient if one can believe the bible.  The tower of Babel, that incident with the golden calf, killing Israelites if they questioned Moses, David’s son, the Babylonian captivity, etc. And then we have Revelation again where we get quite the temper tantrum.   Of course we do know from the story of Job, one doesn’t necessarily need to anger this god to have it make a bet with supposed pure evil and get your family killed.

“Q: “God, why does life have to be so painful at times?” — A., via cyberspace

A: “Because you cannot understand the good parts of being human without also coping with the bad parts. Being human is a total package.””

Again, we see that omnipotence isn’t what this god evidently is.  If heaven exists and is essentially all of the good parts without any of the bad parts, God’s argument fails.

“Q: “If God appeared to me and I could ask him any question,I would have no question to ask, but would have the only answer I need: God does exist!” — J., Westbury, N.Y.

A: “Told you so.””

“Q: “If I could ask God one question, I would have no need to ask any question!” — M., via cyberspace

A: “Thank you.””

Alas, this hasn’t happened, not with any theist with any god.  How would one know that the being in front of you is indeed the god you believe in?  The reason I ask this is that this god could stop a lot of problems doing just this, if we could know that it is it/him.  Giving evidence isn’t out of his portfolio *if* we believe the bible: see Doubting Thomas, burning bushes, wide spread miracle effects, etc.  Of course none occur now when people can actually document such things.  It’s hard to pass stories off as true when facts counter them.

“Q: “God, are You happy?” — L., via cyberspace

A: “Thank you.””

Tsk, “God”, that’s not an answer.  But, can an omnipotent, omniscient being be “happy”?  It seems that the only way this god is happy, or perhaps content is a better word, is that it gets its way and it is very unhappy when it doesn’t.  If its happiness depends on humanity, it is not omnipotent or omniscient. If it is omniscient, *and* it gets its way in the end, it should always be happy.  If it is omniscient *and* it doesn’t get its way in the end, it should always be unhappy.  If it doesn’t get its way, how can it be omni-everything.

As always, a “professional” apologist fares no better than any other theist.  The rabbi has a new column this week about intelligent design.  That should be a fun one. Stay tuned!