Discussion with a Calvinist

Considerations of religious issues in general

Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 26 Apr 2013, 03:04

I am a Christian (a Calvinist actually) and I believe myself able to carry on an adult discussion of the topic. Where would you like to start?
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Gavin » 26 Apr 2013, 19:29

Welcome, Joe.

I think perhaps you might need to start this by taking up some of the things you have read here. Just speaking for myself, I personally find the miracles a bit hard to believe, the problem of evil also. The fact that each believer thinks they are right (from the Mormons to the Hindus). There are lots of of things I personally find unconvincing.

But at the same time I do appreciate TD's point that religious belief can make a person live for something greater than themselves, and it encourages a kind of humility that is much lacking today. Religious faith is replaced by many with a faith in socialism, liberalism or indeed consumerism - and the rest of us, well, we're here! ;)
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 26 Apr 2013, 21:37

Permit me to begin with your own comments but allow me to confess that I posess (as will become apparent) a somewhat less than gifted mine. So bear with me.

As is usually the case it is implied that the agnostic gets to ask the questions and the Christian or Theist respond with some sort of apology. With your permission I would like to begin with a question for you. What problem do you have with the "miracles" or the problem of "evil" or the fact that believers of a particular religion being convinced they and they alone posess the truth?
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Gavin » 26 Apr 2013, 21:58

Joe, as far as I am concerned, you are not expected to "apologise" for anything. I merely said that if you want a discussion you can initiate it.

I'm afraid I personally may not have as much time as I would like to go into this issue, but with the miracles, the main problems I have with them are they defy the known laws of physics, have never been known to happen since and the accounts of their occurrence are, in my opinion, unreliable.

Regarding what is known as The Problem of Evil, it's all at the link, really. Regarding every different believer being convinced they are correct, well, they can't all be right, yet all claim to be convinced on, to my mind, inadequate evidence.

Please feel free to outline your views for all to see here, though, and I am sure readers will consider them and discuss them if they feel so inclined.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Gavin » 26 Apr 2013, 22:16

There is something else that can make people live for something greater than themselves, of course, and that's having children. I'm told this very much has that effect. It seems to be enough for many people.

I'm comfortable with not having all the answers about the universe. The world is a fascinating place and we learn more all the time. We'll probably never know it all, maybe are not equipped to understand everything. I can only believe explanations I find credible, though.

Atheism is perhaps in some ways a bleak outlook, but it tries to be an intellectually honest one.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 27 Apr 2013, 03:10

Of "touchy-feely",irrational, discussion none fits the tag as well as bald, emotional assertions carrying no evidence to support them. Caleb, you decry spirituality and religion as "a load of nonsense". What particular part of religion do you find so and why? Which elements of which religion? Define cult if you will or religion?(I actually agree with you that spirituality is a daft attempt to feign belief without actually holding one.) Which parts of of which "world religions" are watered down, in what way? Please be specific.

I am sorry that your experience with people of faith has been so disappointing. I write this as one who tries very hard to be an adult. I hope you don't find it childish..
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Caleb » 27 Apr 2013, 11:45

Joe: The only distinction I make between cults, sects, religions or anything else along those lines is the numbers involved. As some point, all of the major religions were cults. There are some religious groups (for example, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Scientologists, Bahai'i) that, depending upon who you ask, could qualify as either cults, sects or religions. It all depends upon their numbers and where they stand with respect to state support and how long they've been around. Zoroastrianism, for example, would probably ordinarily be considered a cult, except for historical reasons, which also illustrates that a religion can be downgraded too once it loses numbers and state support.

To illustrate this point, and also explain what I find silly about how religions are accepted or not accepted is the following story. A decade or more ago, a group of Scandinavian heavy metal musicians burnt down some medieval wooden Christian churches. Their rationale was that Christians had colonised their lands and robbed them of their culture. Incidentally, such claims by non-whites are taken very seriously, yet laughed off in this case. It wasn't just that they'd vandalised historically significant art and architecture (in the same way those Taliban clowns did when they blew up those Buddhist statues over a decade ago). No one in this day and age would take me seriously if I said I believed my ancestors had been robbed of their pagan heritage, and if I said I believed in Odin and Thor. Yet they wouldn't so much as raise an eyebrow if I said I was Catholic. Interestingly, also, is that many people (myself included) find it a little odd whenever we meet a convert to a religion not from the person's cultural background. Anyway, presumably back in the day, the person who believed in Odin was the normal one and the Catholic was the strange one. So what's going on there?

Inevitably, religions try to solve this issue by claiming some sort of objective truth via creation myths and so on. Yet to me this is like a group of Lord of the Rings fans arguing with Star Wars fans about the existence of hobbits versus ewoks. As Gavin has pointed out, religions simply don't line up with what we know about the world via physics. Actually, not just physics, but a whole lot of other branches of science also. The Noah's Ark story is completely preposterous on so many logistical levels. How would he have found and caught the millions of species of animals, particularly animals that live in very remote places? How would he have housed them all (the logistics of acquiring the materials to build the ark would have been incredible)? How would he have fed them all? How would he have kept them away from each other? How would he have dealt with their peculiar climatic or habitat needs? How would he have kept them in sanitary conditions? How would he have prevented mass die offs from disease caused by environmental stressors? The list goes on and on and on, and that's just one story.

So what are we left with then? Faith. That doesn't cut it for me. It has to be falsifiable.

So then what are we left with? Religion as a series of allegories that expound moral principles. This is where religion particularly burns me and where I get to the watered down versions of major religions. Religion without the supernatural is essentially secular humanism. The difference is though that once you remove the guy who will come and do something really horrible to you just because he's God and you didn't listen to him, inevitably, you get to a point where anything goes. It's kind of like having a welfare state: it starts off as a nice idea to be nice to people, but it's only ever going to go in one direction and it's not going to stop until it gets there. In theory (that is, if you ignore human nature), it doesn't have to get there, but we all know it will, even if we're outwardly in denial about it.

There's a point in the modern world where [insert non-evangelical Christian sect, plus probably several Jewish and Buddhist sects too] as it exists today is virtually indistinguishable from small l liberalism which is virtually indistinguishable from pop psychology. None of it actually means anything other than how it makes people feel right now precisely because it's unwilling to make any real judgements about people and behaviour. The only thing such systems of belief are intolerant of is intolerance itself. I mean, honestly, what does the modern Church of England actually stand for or against? They've basically embraced liberalism (as a political ideology). Homosexuality, female priests, inter-faith dialogues and all the rest of it are a complete nonsense, really. Inter-faith dialogues in particular strike me as incredibly boneheaded, especially when a non-wishy washy religion such as Islam is involved. Other than in the stained glass windows, where are the religious bits in Anglicanism? It's a glorified Rotary Club. Other forms of non-evangelical protestantism are basically the same, and Catholicism is probably only a few decades behind in theory (but probably there already in people's every day lives, at least in the developed world). I can't say much about Orthodox Christianity. The contact I've had with it has made it seem slightly medieval, but my observations of Orthodox Christians is that aside from being more homophobic and a little more superstitious, they're not really very different from other Christians if they've grown up in the developed West.

So, the choice ends up between believing in something fanciful yet solid in a sense, or something sensible yet completely wishy washy. There's a third way with some sort of Nietzschean master morality, but I'm not quite sure the human race could survive that en masse, and it tends to make someone a bit of a borderline weirdo who is hard to get along with, such as me.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 28 Apr 2013, 03:52

Caleb:
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my inquiry. If I may I would like to continue the conversation with a few more questions. But first let me confess my own beliefs.

As I mentioned in my first post, I am a Christian, (a Calvinist). I believe the God of the bible exists and is sovereign over all creation, is eternal, changeless, omniscient, omnipotent, righteous, and loving. I believe all truth reposes in God and that the bible is His inerrant word revealed to man in order that we may know Him and be reconciled to Him. I believe all men are born corrupt (sinful) and at enmity with God and that in space and time He became incarnate as Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus lived a perfect life,
assumed the sins of His people and was crucified in about AD 33. The third day thereafter He arose from the dead and after revealing Himself to many persons ascended into heaven whence He shall return in the fullness of time.

1. How do you explain existence?
2. How do you deal with the problem of evil and justice?
3. For what purpose do you believe man exists?
4. What happens when we die?

Thank you for indulging me the rare pleasure of conversing with someone willing to discuss such things as these. My agnostic friends recoil at the subject and my Christian friends believe as I do.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Grant » 28 Apr 2013, 11:50

Joe,
As a professed believer, you might be able to help me with a religious issue with which acquaintances have not been very convincing. My problem is the apparent schizophrenic nature of God i.e. the Old Testament God is a vengeful old soul who turns Lot's wife into a pillar of salt for sneaking a quick peek over her shoulder, smites dead Onan because he spilled his semen on the ground and wipes out almost all the world's population with the 40 day flood. Then in the New Testament we have a God who preaches love and forgiveness, turning the other cheek and loving one's enemies. If God was prepared to deal summarily with the above examples, why couldn't the same justice have been applied to the classic example of Hitler. A quick thunderbolt or inoperable cancer before 1933? It would have saved a lot of people a lot of heartache.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Caleb » 28 Apr 2013, 12:51

Joe wrote:1. How do you explain existence?
2. How do you deal with the problem of evil and justice?
3. For what purpose do you believe man exists?
4. What happens when we die?


1. In the physical sense primordial soup and all of that stuff. In terms of human consciousness, again, modern science is making strides there, though I am not sure we will ever necessarily have the answer to the question. I'm satisfied (to a certain extent) with not knowing this answer.

2. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the issue of evil and justice. I don't exactly know whether I think such concepts exist outside humans or have answers beyond what we create ourselves. I tend to think, to a certain extent (to preempt the answer to 3.), that whatever ultimately inhibits the survival of a group (be it a social group or a species) is falls under the realm of morality and justice. In that sense, as with any other environmental stressors, organisms may need to adapt. That said, it's more complex than that and I don't find any of the philosophies (or scientific explanations) I have encountered to be entirely satisfactory.

The best answer I can give here is that philosophically, I have great sympathy for Friedrich Nietzsche, but practically, I mostly confirm to Anglo-Western cultural definitions of evil and justice, which have largely been inherited from Christianity. That said, I actively resist some and attempt to model myself along the lines of a Nietzschean Superman.

3. Basically speaking, procreation, like any other species. That would all be terribly boring though, which is why I don't have eleven different children with seven different women. I think what we might usually consider as high culture is important too, though I can't entirely say why. Some people draw a long bow between that and the survival of a society (and presumably, a species), but I don't know if high culture is actually fundamental in a Darwinian sense. Regardless, I still think it's important.

4. Honestly, I have no idea, and I'm not entirely sure science could measure that. Scientific observation seems to suggest we decompose and the atoms are recycled. Philosophically, I'm agnostic on this (and many issues), but practically, I'm an atheist.

On all of these issues, every religion seems to have quite elaborate explanations, but I don't think there's any way we can verify them one way or the other. My best position on it is that if it gets people through the day and they leave others alone, great. However, if we met someone who truly believed hobbits, elves, etc. existed, we would actually think he was mad. Why don't we regard religious people the same way? (I actually do to a minor extent, or at least find them slightly unreliable/untrustworthy.)
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 28 Apr 2013, 22:26

Well Grant, you have indeed given me a difficult question. I am sure I am not up to the task as it is one of great theological portent. That said I will try.

I think the answer to the questions lies within the very unity of God's attributes which only seem to be split between wrath and love. I would like to modify the subject a bit and refer to the seeming inconsistency as justice and mercy.

In the beginning God created the world. He created it out of nothing for His own pure pleasure. He created it according to His own conception and with His own laws. Because He created the world and all that is in it He is its Sovereign. There exists ,nor can there exist, no authority that may judge God or His actions ("does the clay demand of the potter?"). Whatever God does is just/right/innocent by definition of His sovereign position.

When God created man He set forth for him a purpose; to honor God, obey Him, and enjoy Him forever. God set for man only one restriction. The nature of that restriction is very important. God commanded man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As long as man kept the commandment there would be no knowledge of evil and thus no evil in the world.

Alas, man succumbed to an argument to his pride and ate of the forbidden tree in order to "be as God". Thereupon evil entered the created world. Adam's sin corrupted not only himself but his posterity as well. From this point on none were righteous, all men were born into sin and corruption and subject to death. God's rightful and sovereign sentence for man's rebellion was decay and death both for man and creation. Justice had been served as God, according to His rightful authority, brought retribution on His created being. Men from hereon earned justice and condemnation by their own nature and action ("for the wages of sin is death")

I find it impossible to criticize God for whatever He does in relation to His fallen creation. At no time up to this point was He obligated to treat them in any way other than that He chose. In no court of justice is the convicted permitted to set the penalty. Thus all claims that God is wicked or evil because of this or that manner in which He dealt (or deals) with His wicked and disobedient creatures rings hollow indeed.

Yet God loved His creation and His creatures and determined to redeem them both. Thus entered mercy into the world. Now mercy is a very interesting concept in that it is a totally arbitrary and unearned dispensation. Mercy is not justice and justice is not mercy. In fact mercy is always an overthrowing of justice. Justice is sacrificed for mercy. However there is a quandry. Real and true love requires the existence and operation of justice for justice loves the good and despises the evil. If there is no justice there can be no love. A God who abandons justice abandons love. God really and truly loves His creation therefore He must honor and pursue justice.

Now God has desired to redeem His creation from eternal death, the death justice demands for it has been His own verdict. Now a little more about justice and mercy. As I said before mercy is unearned favor. It is a gift of one who has authority. To grant mercy to one guilty man and punishment to ten guilty is no injustice to the ten - regardless of how the one is treated they remain guilty. So God is not bound to grant mercy to all His creatures. As He says to Moses "I will grant mercy to whom I will grant mercy". He is however obligated to mete out His own justice - to punish sin, lest wickedness rule and love cease to be.

How may God redeem His creation with mercy while at the same time providing satisfaction of His own justice? Man was given the freedom to obey or disobey God and was advised of the consequences of each. He disobeyed and was rightly sentenced to death. Justice v mercy is a zero sum game. There must be no mercy without justice. In plain talk "somebody has to pay". There is no free lunch.

God loves man so he must enforce justice, yet that same love demands of mercy. What shall God do? For this post let us assume the Trinity of God. (I am certainly unable to untie that knot.) Let us accept that God is three persons, Father,Son and Holy Spirit, in one essence. Man sinned man must be punished yet man must be redeemed. The solution is that as one man (Adam) brought sin and wickedness into the world so one man (Christ) would suffer the penalty of that sin and thus free mankind from the judgement without sacrificing cosmic justice. That one man however cannot be guilty himself for he would then be merely suffering his own penalty.

Again, without exegesis here of why God chose as He did, God brought His son incarnate into creation with the full attributes of mortal man. Jesus, the son of God entered the world in order to live a life in perfect obedience to God's law - and yet be counted guilty of the sins of all mankind. He was punished (crucified) died, and was buried. Justice had now been served so that mercy could rule. To prove Jesus' identity as the Christ, God raised him on the third day and after eating, speaking and appearing to numerous people he ascended to heaven.

As a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus each man willing to acknowledge his own sin and to assign it to Jesus can now be reconciled to God and redeemed to eternal life. This is the the Gospel of Christ.

And now for something entirely different.

Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot. God had certainly been able to thwart these authors of unimaginable evil. In a way I wish He had. He could have thwarted all my freely chosen sin, but to do so would have also thwarted my freedom of choice (and Hitler's et al). It is my opinion that freedom is the ultimate and highest good. To deprive us of the opportunity to sin, however heinously,would be to deny us freedom and love itself.

If you will, you may find interesting reading in The Gospel of John and St. Paul's Letter to the Romans.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 28 Apr 2013, 23:38

Gavin: I shall certainly endeavor to be an honest and trustworthy correspondent. I have the highest regard for academic and argumentative consistency. I certainly hope you will keep me liable to these values.

In response to your latest post. It seems to me that for the most part your are honestly saying you don't know. A sound and often lonely position in this day and age. If I may I would like to return to the questions for a moment.

How do you harmonize spontaneous creation (ex nihilo) with the normal laws of physics that augur so against the miracles of the bible?

From whence came the ingredients of the primordial soup? Is this more fantastical than the existence of hobbitts? Why?

Is Dostoevsky correct when he states "if there is no God all things are permitted"?

Do you mean to say that that which inhibits the survival of a group is immoral?

Would such a stand, along with a Nietzchean philosophy of the ubermensch support eugenics or killing of the weakest elements of a society a la Hitler?

How can you confirm something in which you do not concur (Christian definitions of good and evil)?

Why in a Darwinian sense can we elevate "high culture" as more important than profane or vulgar culture that actually serves more people?In what way is "high culture" more supportive of the procreative act than hip-hop?

In fact, there has been an observable example
of life after death as witnessed by numerous accounts. What allows science to ignore this event? Why is life after death any more fantastical than life after nothingness?

Thanks again for the conversation.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Caleb » 29 Apr 2013, 01:20

Joe wrote:Gavin: I shall certainly endeavor to be an honest and trustworthy correspondent. I have the highest regard for academic and argumentative consistency. I certainly hope you will keep me liable to these values.


I assume you meant me, not Gavin.

In response to your latest post. It seems to me that for the most part your are honestly saying you don't know. A sound and often lonely position in this day and age. If I may I would like to return to the questions for a moment.


I generally don't know. For one thing, I don't know enough about science. Even if I did, I suspect I still wouldn't know.

How do you harmonize spontaneous creation (ex nihilo) with the normal laws of physics that augur so against the miracles of the bible?


I can't. Will science ever answer this question? I don't know. However, regardless of the origin of the laws of physics, they do exist and have been set in motion. The point about scientific proof that many people often don't understand is that science cannot actually prove anything. It can only disprove things. One million observations never actually prove anything and can always be undone by a single observation to the contrary. Yet one million observations is pretty good practical evidence. We operate on weight of numbers. If we didn't operate in such a fashion we wouldn't be able to get out of bed and walk across the room (let alone do anything else) because of the myriad of other philosophical possibilities. The practical evidence is that people cannot walk on water, there weren't polar bears or kangaroos in the Middle East, etc.

The point is that people can engage in falsification. They can think of a null hypothesis under which a particular situation can be proven false. So, for instance, for a long time, people thought all swans were white. It's easy to formulate a situation for that being false: observe a swan that wasn't white, i.e. another colour. When black swans were discovered in Australia, the assumptions about swans were modified to accommodate the new information. This simply doesn't seem to be the case with religion. It's always able to be explained away with nebulous responses such as a person didn't have enough faith or that the supernatural being in question decided not to act in a consistent manner. There is no null hypothesis for God's omnipotence. Well, there's that old one about can God make a rock that is so heavy that he can't lift it? Yet Christians don't want to tackle that one.

From whence came the ingredients of the primordial soup? Is this more fantastical than the existence of hobbitts? Why?


It's not more fantastical than the existence of hobbits for the following reason. The ingredients of the primordial soup were a handful of elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur (if I remember organic chemistry correctly). These can, and have, been observed in organic chemistry. As to where hydrogen came from, see my above answer.

Is Dostoevsky correct when he states "if there is no God all things are permitted"?


Theoretically no, practically yes. I believe I answered this one a post or two ago.

Do you mean to say that that which inhibits the survival of a group is immoral?

Would such a stand, along with a Nietzchean philosophy of the ubermensch support eugenics or killing of the weakest elements of a society a la Hitler?


I mean to say that people behave in particular ways as social animals. They then codify such behaviours to promote survival of the group. They then ascribe an objective morality to such behaviours to give them extra weight. Systems can be faulty. They can be imperfect. Yet they can still work better than no system at all. This is as true of morality as it is of exercise and diet programmes.

As for Hitler and eugenics, of course such systems can be taken that far. Our own society currently makes such decisions anyway. Hopsitals have limited resources and so they allocate them accordingly. It's not as extreme, but it still happens whenever a person is denied a particular treatment. Switches get flicked. It's also true when anyone is denied any service in society.

The point of these things is that they're always a weighing up of a group's overall survival and prosperity. The point is that nature does not have moral considerations. If the Nazis had won WW2, then nature would have named them successful...until something else came along and knocked them off their throne. We don't assign morality to either the lion or the gazelle in a nature documentary. We do with ourselves because we consider ourselves special, but then, we're egocentric like that. Yet if we weren't, we wouldn't have survived.

How can you confirm something in which you do not concur (Christian definitions of good and evil)?


How can I confirm anything? How can I confirm that I will be alive tomorrow? I could get hit by a bus. Space aliens could zap me with a laser. A five hundred kilogram apple could fall from the sky and squash me. A million things could happen. A million things could be true. Yet again, I'd never get out of bed in the morning (or would I? -- a bus could drive through my bedroom wall!) if I stopped to consider every possibility.

Why in a Darwinian sense can we elevate "high culture" as more important than profane or vulgar culture that actually serves more people?In what way is "high culture" more supportive of the procreative act than hip-hop?


Well I don't think we can, that's why I said that people draw a long bow. They talk about myth making which reinforces the group's sense of solidarity, etc., which makes them better able to respond to external stressors, etc.

In fact, there has been an observable example
of life after death as witnessed by numerous accounts. What allows science to ignore this event? Why is life after death any more fantastical than life after nothingness?


Yet there have also been all sorts of accounts of things that have been witnessed by people in other religions too. These are often contradictory to each other. When a person claims to be in communication with Napoleon, we put him in a psychiatric institution. When he claims to be in touch with a religious figure, we regard this differently (at least some of the time). Why? There could, of course, be problems with the observer. As I wrote above, we operate on weight of numbers.
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Joe » 29 Apr 2013, 04:59

Yes Caleb I mean you and apologise to both you and Gavin.

Let me see if I can recount accurately what you have submitted. Please correct me when I err.

In the beginning you confess to not know quite alot, particularly about science. You do know however that you can't harmonize creation ex nihilo with the laws of physics as known today. Yet you also know that these same laws preclude what we would call the miracles of the bible even though there have been human witnesses to those events. I have yet to hear of any sane man admit to seeing something made from nothing. You know that swans are both black and white, that there are no polar bears or kangaroos in the middle east and that God cannot make a rock too heavy for Him to move. Let the record show that He also cannot make a square circle or a triangle with four sides.

You confess that creation ex nihilo is as fantastical as the existence of hobbitts. You describe one who believes in hobbits mad. Would that same descriptor apply to those who believe in creation ex nihilo?

Without being asked you have furnished for us the ingredients of the "primordial soup' out of which you believe life to have spontaneously sprung. Can you tell me the origin of those ingredients?

You affirm that Dostoevsky's quote "if there is no God, everything is permitted" to be both true and false.

You affirm (and I concur) that nature knows no morality but you seem to be unsure about man. You allow (and I concur) that men do combine into groups for self preservation and that they establish normative systems and that these systems are subjective, some being better than others and some better than none - sometimes but all subject to amendment. As Tower of Power says; "what is hip today may become passe."

You allow that man is egocentric believing himself to be "better" than the animals. Do you believe that?

I confess to not understanding anything at all about your paragraph beginning with; "Well I don't think we can. . .

When I note an example of a man being raised from the dead that was observed by many persons you suggest the observers to be deficient in some way. When I ask why it is more fantastical to believe in life after death than in life before existence you do not answer but seem to suggest that one believing in the resurrection is as mad as Napoleon's erstwhile companion.

You mention several times that "we operate on weight of numbers". I assume this is the same as "preponderance of evidence". Let me ask one more question. On the weight of what numbers do we conclude that one who believes in events observed but not proven is mad and one who believes that all things that exist came from nothing is wise?
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Re: Discussion with a Calvinist

Postby Grant » 29 Apr 2013, 08:46

Joe,
I appreciate the sincerity of your response but fear if our courts were run along God's line of justice, every transgressor would receive the maximum sentence. (20 years for littering, a speeding offence or murder) If the examples I provided previously were dealt with by God in the manner he chose, for seemingly very minor crimes, why doesn't/hasn't God intervened to stop much more heinous behaviour? Many of the Old Testament stories appear designed to instill obedience through fear, and we have a stark chasm between an interventionist God of the Old Testament and the forgiving salvation of the New Testament God.

As a side issue, when the Great Flood was inflicted, was everyone apart from Noah's family so sinful they deserved a hideous death? Even newborns infants?
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