Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jesus Said It #09: All these things are done in parables

And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. Mark 4:11-12
When I was a kid in sunday school, I was told that Jesus' parables were object lessons to make the ideas easier to understand. However, that's not what Jesus said.

Jesus explains to his disciples that he speaks in parables so that it will be harder for the other people to understand. So that maybe they'll hear the truth, but not understand it, so they won't be saved. So, when I'm told that Jesus want to save everyone, I'll just point them to this verse.

PS:
The Brick Testament portrays this passage with Lego action figures.
The Use of Parables Explained

44 comments:

The Rambling Taoist said...

Personally, I think the parables would be very easy to understand IF one happens to be a first century Jew! Such a person would understand the popular metaphors and inferences. Such a person would easily understand the everyday context of the stories.

What makes many of the parables unintelligible today is that we no longer understand the metaphors and context. It's like trying to decipher a secret code without so much as a partial cheat sheet!

Tit for Tat said...

Maybe the purpose of parables is to bring about discussion, which in turn leads to community. It only becomes an issue when someone has the "absolute" answer. If not, then it is a great way to share in life.

Lorena said...

If Jesus wanted to be misunderstood with the f*g parables, he succeeded.

They make no sense and the "truths" they teach are often absurd or plain wrong.

Like the one about Lazarus in "heaven." So the only hope for the poor is to die?

Ryan Karpeles said...

I think the phrase, "Jesus wants to save everyone" can be a very confusing way for people to put it. The Bible makes it clear that many people will be saved, but it also makes it very clear that many people will not. "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:14).

So while we're told that "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), we also know the reality that untold numbers of people will not repent and believe the Gospel.

So does Jesus WANT to save everyone? Well, the fact is that He already! died for the sins of the world (i.e. all of fallen humanity) so that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life (John 3:36). This is the ultimate act of love and sacrifice ever known to humankind, so clearly Jesus longs for us to be redeemed that the Father might be glorified (2 Philippians 2:9-11). If He didn't, He never would have given up His life for us.

But we need to be careful that we don't act as if Jesus needs to die again or do something in addition to His finished work on the cross. He longs for people to know Him, but there are many whose hearts are hard and ears are deaf because "the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

We are saved by the grace of God, not by our own human effort, and until the veil is lifted we will not be able to discern spiritual things (i.e. the underlying meaning of the parables). This is what Paul means when he says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:4).

So while we may 'understand' the meaning of the parables intellectually, they will have no effect on our hearts, souls or behavior until the Lord redeems us according to His own purpose and grace (2 Tim. 1:9).

For now we are given just a few short decades to live and we are in a window of mercy where the grace of God is being extended to us that we might receive Jesus Christ as Lord. This will not always be the case, and once we're dead the chance to receive Him will no longer be on the table. So while this passage in Mark makes it sound like Jesus doesn't WANT people to be saved, He is actually just acknowledging the sad reality that not everyone will come to a saving faith in Him.

Sorry for the rambling... Hope that wasn't too all over the place ;-)

GCT said...

So, Ryan, um...

Let me get this straight...Jesus/god wants us all to be saved, so we have to have the veil lifted in order to believe that Jesus saved us, or else we aren't saved? And, the entity that needs to lift the veil is god, by his grace. So, god kills Jesus in a human sacrifice in order to allow himself to let us be saved, but in order to gain that salvation god has to personally save us all the same. How does this not make Jesus's actions superfluous?

Also, if god wants us all to be saved, why does he not lift the veil from all? If the necessary action is on his shoulders and he doesn't do it, even though he supposedly wants to and has the ability to do it, then something is not quite adding up.

IOW, you are claiming that Jesus wants us all to be saved, but is somehow incapable of lifting the veil for everyone and so simply accepts that he will have to send people to hell - large amounts of people. Yet, we know that god is omnipotent, so god can't be unable to lift the veil. This makes no sense and is contradictory.

And, please don't claim free will, because you claimed that we are not saved by human effort. Therefore, free will does not factor into it.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Hey GCT,

Awesome questions and thanks for your response. Just for the record, these are things I struggle with immensely just like you. The doctrine of God's gracious election is not always easy to stomach (especially emotionally), and so I'll try to do the best I can with your insightful questions.

1. You wrote, "So, god kills Jesus in a human sacrifice in order to allow himself to let us be saved, but in order to gain that salvation god has to personally save us all the same. How does this not make Jesus's actions superfluous?"

It does not make Jesus's actions superfluous because what happened on the cross was that the judgment and wrath of God were poured out on Christ, that WE might not have to absorb God's wrath. Since God is holy, He couldn't simply save us without the shedding of blood by His son. There had to be a punishment of some sort. His holiness and wrath demand that sin not be overlooked, but that it be paid for through sacrifice (this is why we see the gruesome sacrifice of animals littered throughout the entire Old Testament).

So, being perfect and just, God can't simply excuse our sin and have mercy on us without some sort of price being paid. That price was paid by Jesus, who took the punishment WE deserve and bore our sins (and God's wrath for those sins) on the cross. "For our sake [God] made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

2. You asked, "Also, if god wants us all to be saved, why does he not lift the veil from all?"

The short answer is: "I do not know why He passes over some and chooses to save others."

The biblical answer is a little more comprehensive... In essence, the Bible tells us that we all deserve death because we have all sinned against the Holy God who created us. So (as hard as this is to grasp), the just thing for God to do is to NOT save us and let us all perish. We all deserve death because of our sin. I know this doesn't win you lots of friends in social circles :-) but that's what the Bible teaches.

So the only reason some people are redeemed is because of God's grace. Grace means it's undeserved. We should be getting death, but instead we get life through Christ. This is what people mean when they quote the Scripture that says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).

Picture it like this: We are all mass murderers who have been placed on death row. We are disgusting, messed-up, rebellious people who have killed in cold blood over and over again. So what is our just penalty? Death. That's why we're on death row. But God looks down on the billions of people awaiting their execution and says, "I love you so much that I'll send my Son to sit in that chair and take your punishment so that you don't have to. The only thing you have to do humbly admit your murderous ways and accept my gracious gift. The punishment will be on Him, and you will live."

Now why don't we all take this offer? It sounds amazing, doesn't it? Well, for most of us we don't like to admit that we are mass murderers. We think we're decent people. We don't think we should be on death row in the first place. But the Bible clearly states that all of us are - myself the foremost of the bunch.

So in order to receive this gift from God, we first need humility in admitting our wrongdoing, and then we need humility in accepting God's gift of His Son. God is faithful and will lift the veil (He is fully capable of doing so), but our pride and self-reliance must be broken to the point of being willing to accept His grace. We can't receive Jesus so long as we think we can save ourselves. This is why Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). Our spirits must be contrite and repentant before Christ can enter our hearts. So we must ask for the Lord the grant us that spirit of repentance that we might die to ourselves and live for Him.

My apologies for the long-winded answer, but hopefully that provides a little clarity... Unfortunately I'm guessing I just muddied the waters even further ;-) As much as I like to think I have things figured out, the reality is (very) far from it.

Thanks again.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Ryan,
With all due respect, that has got to be one of the most convoluted answers I've ever read!

So, being perfect and just, God can't simply excuse our sin and have mercy on us without some sort of price being paid.Why not? Your God can do whatever he wants because he is all powerful. If he doesn't have the power to have mercy without punishment, then he is limited and finite...just like we are. Hence, it would appear God isn't God after all.

So (as hard as this is to grasp), the just thing for God to do is to NOT save us and let us all perish.Says who? Again, you're putting limitations on your God. You're saying that MAN'S sense of justice must be God's sense of justice. It would follow that if man's sense of justice is borne out of our sinful nature, then God too must have a sinful nature. If God is sinful, then he's not perfect and not God.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Hmmm... not sure which was more convoluted lol.

Let's go through these as well:

1. God cannot excuse our sin because He is infinitely holy and infinitely just. By excusing our sin without His judgment being poured out, He would (in effect) be saying that He is not holy or just because we can get away with whatever we want. Since He IS holy and just (and he can't not be), there must be a judgment made for all our sin. That judgment (through God's wrath) was poured out on Christ at the cross.

So God is not limited at all. In fact, He is so holy and so just that He cannot overlook our evil. If He did, He would not be holy. As it is, He is both infinitely just and infinitely merciful. I know these are lofty paradoxes to accept, but keep in mind that we are tiny human beings with finite brains ;-)

2. By saying that we all deserve death and God allowing us to die is just, I am in no way putting limitations on God. I am simply saying that we all deserve death because we are all sinful.

Of course I would agree that our only sense of justice is derived from God's infinite justice, but this doesn't make God sinful. Why can't we look at a perfect Being and see His justice, then mess it up as sinners on earth? Why does our mess make Him messy? If anything, it just points more directly to our sinful nature.

Not sure that helps, but we'll see ;-)

Thanks Taoist

The Rambling Taoist said...

You wrote, "God cannot excuse our sin because He is infinitely holy and infinitely just. By excusing our sin without His judgment being poured out, He would (in effect) be saying that He is not holy or just because we can get away with whatever we want." and then "I know these are lofty paradoxes to accept, but keep in mind that we are tiny human beings with finite brains."

Don't you see what you're doing? You're using your finite brain to limit the all-powerful God's options. Your finite brain states that God can't excuse sin. Who's to say that "God's" infinite brain couldn't do just that? If he's truly infinite, he can do whatever he wants.

By saying that we all deserve death and God allowing us to die is just, I am in no way putting limitations on God. I am simply saying that we all deserve death because we are all sinful.

Yes, you can SAY you aren't limiting God, but that's precisely what you're doing! Your finite brain believes we all deserve death because of this concept of sin. Again, however, the infinite brain of God might see a whole boatload of over options.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Hi Taoist,

Though I am using my tiny, finite brain, I am simply sharing what I believe, based on what the Bible says about God. These are not my original thoughts. If I came up with a system of beliefs, it would be far different. I would not call everyone sinners and say they'll go to hell if they don't accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I would probably say that if you eat lots of chocolate and sleep with women all the time, you'll make it to heaven. But thankfully sinful people like me don't run the universe...

So here are some (of the hundreds of) passages about God's holiness:

"For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. " (Lev. 11:44)

"There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God." (1 Sam. 2:2)

"Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name." (Ps. 30:4)

"Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!" (Ps. 99:9)

"And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'" (Isa. 6:3)

- And justice: -

"But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice." (Ps. 9:7)

"Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice." (Prov. 29:26)

"But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness." (Isa. 5:16)

"And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!" (Rev. 16:7)

- And here are some passages about sin: -

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:23-24)

"They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." (Ps. 14:3)

Of course there are many more verses, and of course many people do not believe the Bible is true, but I simply wish to show that I am not writing out of my own brain. I am simply attempting to explain what it is that the Bible teaches. So though my brain is (very!) finite, this is what I'm basing my theology on - what (I believe to be) the truth of Scripture.

Sorry again for the lengthy rambling...

The Rambling Taoist said...

But we still return to the same problem! The bible was written by finite men with finite brains. Even if a person wants to entertain the idea that these men were sharing the thoughts of the infinite God, these infinite thoughts still were necessarily filtered through their finite brains.

This is one of my major beefs with Christianity. On the one hand, you say that God is infinite. On the other hand, you list all these finite parameters that God must follow. You simply can't limit something that is infinite without negating it.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Fair enough, but if the Bible is inspired by God's Spirit and written through human authors (as most Christians believe), then in order for God to make Himself known, He would need to present Himself in understandable ways to human beings. And since God made humans (as Christians also believe), then certainly He knows how to relate to them through writing.

In essence, I don't see why saying, "God is infinitely holy" contradicts God or His infinite holiness. Just because the idea is finite, this does not negate the fact that God (who is outside the idea) is infinite.

Of course we can't know Him exhaustively, but we can know Him truly through His word. I think there's a key distinction to be made there.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Understandable ways? You've got to be kidding me!!!

Almost every passage in the bible is subject to debate. Every church has its own spin. Every church promotes its own truth.

Christine doctrine is all over the map. Some use the bible to promote peace, while others use the same text to promote war. Some denominations say homosexuality is a sin, while others have gay and lesbian clergy.

"Fun with Dick & Jane" is easy to understand and interpret. The Bible is like reading the constitution of Mars.

It seems rather obvious to me that the Christian God could benefit a lot by taking some language courses. :)

GCT said...

Ryan,
"It does not make Jesus's actions superfluous because what happened on the cross was that the judgment and wrath of God were poured out on Christ, that WE might not have to absorb God's wrath. Since God is holy, He couldn't simply save us without the shedding of blood by His son."

Are you claiming that god can not forgive our supposed sins without the barbaric act of bloodshed?

"His holiness and wrath demand that sin not be overlooked, but that it be paid for through sacrifice (this is why we see the gruesome sacrifice of animals littered throughout the entire Old Testament)."

The reason we see animal sacrifice is because those people believed in transference - the idea that the "sins" that they committed could be imparted upon an animal and burned to their god in order to please the god and gain forgiveness. Do you really think that burning an ox does anything to repair any damage that one has done ("sin")? If burning an ox doesn't do any good, why would crucifying a person be better?

"So, being perfect and just, God can't simply excuse our sin and have mercy on us without some sort of price being paid. That price was paid by Jesus, who took the punishment WE deserve and bore our sins (and God's wrath for those sins) on the cross."

If my punishment is paid, why am I not saved?

"The short answer is: "I do not know why He passes over some and chooses to save others.""

IOW, you have no basis to make these claims.

"In essence, the Bible tells us that we all deserve death because we have all sinned against the Holy God who created us."

This is rather anti-human and a horrible doctrine. The Bible tells us that we all deserve death because we are born human, that by virtue of being born we deserve eternal torment. What sort of sick, sadistic god would set up such a system?

"So the only reason some people are redeemed is because of God's grace. Grace means it's undeserved. We should be getting death, but instead we get life through Christ."

If justice means getting what one deserves, god is shown to be unjust by your own words here. If god gives some an undeserved reward, then god is not being just.

"Picture it like this: We are all mass murderers who have been placed on death row."

I've never killed anyone, let alone mass amounts of people. The sin that god is angry at me for is the sin of being born human. What kind of sick, sadistic god sets up a system whereby you are bound for hell unless he steps in and saves you, and then claims that this is just, holy, and good?

"Our spirits must be contrite and repentant before Christ can enter our hearts. So we must ask for the Lord the grant us that spirit of repentance that we might die to ourselves and live for Him."

IOW, it is not solely by grace that we receive, in that you are claiming we must perform an act in order to receive god's grace. You can't have it both ways.

Lastly, quoting the Bible is pretty meaningless, except in speaking about what the Bible says (which I realize you are trying to do). Just because god wrote in a book that he's holy and just doesn't make it so. Also, if all fall short of the glory of god, how is that at all just? Why would god create a race of beings that he knows will be sinful and that he'll go and torture for eternity? I like to ask this question in times like this:

If you had absolute foreknowledge that a friend/family member/person would drown if they went swimming at a specific time, would you sit and watch the person drown, knowing that it would happen, or would you try and intervene to save the person's life?

Ryan Karpeles said...

Thanks GCT. I know you've thought this through and I know I won't convince you of anything more with mere human arguments (see: 1 Corinthians 1:18). I'll simply pray that God might move in your heart and open your eyes to His glory (even if that sounds like sheer stupidity to you). I really do love you and wish the best for you. I guess we'll find out after this life how right/wrong we are ;-)

In regards to your final question, I would personally try to save them. If you're getting at the doctrines of Christianity, I would simply point to Romans 5:6-8:

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

The Lifeguard has already jumped into the pool and intervened. Yet we cannot push Him away or we'll be left to drown. We need to accept His grace and receive Him as our Savior.

Thanks again GCT.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Haha right you are Taoist. Christian doctrine is (sadly) all over the map. That's what happens when sinners with finite minds try to wrestle with the words of an infinite and perfect God.

This is why, regardless of doctrinal leanings, what truly matters is the gospel of Jesus Christ. His death, burial, resurrection, and the subsequent forgiveness, redemption, justification, righteousness and eternal life that we can have through Him are what count at the end of the day.

It's been fun ;-)

Robert Madewell said...

Ryan said, "Christian doctrine is (sadly) all over the map. That's what happens when sinners with finite minds try to wrestle with the words of an infinite and perfect God."
Sounds like to me that's what'd happen when different people try to interpret a confusing, contradictory, and near incoherent holy book. You'd think that God would inspire the bible authors to write more clearly.

Like Mark Twain said, it's not the parts of the bible that I don't understand that scare me, it's the parts I do understand.

I think you sell us humans short. There's alot we can understand and if (according to christianity) we are created in God's image, wouldn't he impart some of that devine understanding to us?

Religionists often throw around words such as infinite and transcendental without thinking about the implications. Often, they even make up words that really have no meaning except when they're used to describe something of religious importance (Holy, Righteous, etc.). If they want me to understand these higher concepts, then they need to define these terms and think through the implications that it raises. Handwaving these honest questions away does not impress me in the least. Otherwise, you might as well try to explain these concepts to my cat.

eLwood said...

Here's one for you Ryan, just in case it may have slipped past and in case any of you may have thought human writers of the fable of Christ didn't have a sense of humor:

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."1 Isaiah 45:7

.

Ryan Karpeles said...

Thanks Elwood. The word for "evil" in that verse is actually "calamity" in the Hebrew. That verse is saying that God ordains both bad things (suffering and destruction) as well as the good. In essence, He is in control of all. He has an active and a passive will. He both causes and allows things to happen, for good and for bad.

Just another fun verse for our pride and self-reliance ;-)

Ryan Karpeles said...

Thanks Robert. You wrote, "There's alot we can understand and if (according to christianity) we are created in God's image, wouldn't he impart some of that devine understanding to us?"

Yes, and He does in a massive! way all throughout the Bible. But He doesn't impart ALL of Himself to us, so I'm simply trying to guard against the folks who think they can figure everything out about God and wrap it up in a neat little box.

The paradoxes of Christianity (in my opinion) actually point far more toward its divine authorship. If men made it up, things would be a lot tidier and you wouldn't have ideas like Election or Depravity in the Bible. No human would come up with such mind-boggling and difficult ideas on their own, then try to pass it off as truth.

The Rambling Taoist said...

No human would come up with such mind-boggling and difficult ideas on their own, then try to pass it off as truth.

I suppose this means you've read Nietzsche! :)

The Rambling Taoist said...

That verse is saying that God ordains both bad things (suffering and destruction) as well as the good.

This is a first for me -- a Christian who actually acknowledges that evil, in fact, originates with God!

Ryan Karpeles said...

Sorry Taoist, calamity does not equal evil. God allows evil to exist. He is not the author of evil. Calamity and evil are not the same.

It's important that we recognize God's presence outside of time and space. The temporary evil that we see (which He allows) is often hard to comprehend, yet the Bible says that God allows evil in the short-term (i.e. on earth) for our ultimate good (see: Romans 8:28; Gen. 50:20). Once again, another truth that doesn't fit easily within the categories of our brains.

The most radiant example of this is Christ on the cross. A horrific evil that God allowed (His perfect Son of God being crucified), is what ultimately leads to lasting forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, love and eternal life. Those who followed Jesus at the time of His death were utterly devastated. Yet when He arose and they saw Him, they were amazed and overjoyed (and for good reason). This is the deepest example of God allowing temporary evil for our eternal good.

Hope we're all having fun at least ;-) With love -

Robert Madewell said...

"It's important that we recognize God's presence outside of time and space."

I don't think that you realize the implications of that statement. See, the reason things exist for us, is because they are in this universe, in time and space. Once you go outside of time and space, then it starts to look alot like not existing.

The 9th century theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena said it the best, "We do not know what God is. God himself doesn't know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being." Eriugena was using this as an argument for God's existence!

Ryan Karpeles said...

God created time and space. He was not created by anyone or anything. He has always existed. He didn't begin when time began. Time began when the earth began. And God created both of them. He is, He was, and He always will be.

Personally I do not grasp how God can have "always existed." I don't think any human brain can grasp that. All we know is time, and everything inside of it. But we didn't create time. God did. So He is not constrained by time. To us He looks temporal (within time). In reality He is eternal and outside of time.

Hard to comprehend, I know. That's why He's God ;-)

GCT said...

Ryan,
"I know you've thought this through and I know I won't convince you of anything more with mere human arguments (see: 1 Corinthians 1:18). I'll simply pray that God might move in your heart and open your eyes to His glory (even if that sounds like sheer stupidity to you)."

No offense, but it does. Why is it impossible to present a logical, rational, coherent argument for god? Why must we rely on illogical, irrational, faith?

"In regards to your final question, I would personally try to save them."

Then why does god not do so?

"The Lifeguard has already jumped into the pool and intervened."

You've clearly missed the point. The point was aimed at what you have foreknowledge of and the power to prevent. In this instance, god would have foreknowledge that people would end up suffering in hell if he were to create them. He did so anyway. Contrast that to your foreknowledge of impending death for someone and your unwillingness to allow them to die if you have the power to stop it.

If it's a matter of god being the lifeguard, that doesn't make sense, because he has the power to stop us from drowning and he had the power to not put us in that situation to begin with. It's no good to rely on free will in this instance either, for multiple reasons, one being that I doubt you would allow someone to drown simply because it was their choice after all.

This simple question clearly shows that god is not moral.

"This is why, regardless of doctrinal leanings, what truly matters is the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Which gospel and which interpretation of that gospel?

"Thanks Elwood. The word for "evil" in that verse is actually "calamity" in the Hebrew."

Try again. The word used is "Ra" which is used most prevalently as "evil" not as calamity. Even so, god is admitting to creating earthquakes, tornados, etc. that claim human lives and cause suffering (natural evil) which I doubt you can defend.

"The paradoxes of Christianity (in my opinion) actually point far more toward its divine authorship. If men made it up, things would be a lot tidier and you wouldn't have ideas like Election or Depravity in the Bible. No human would come up with such mind-boggling and difficult ideas on their own, then try to pass it off as truth."

And, if everything made perfect sense, you'd be touting that as evidence for divine authorship.

"The most radiant example of this is Christ on the cross. A horrific evil that God allowed (His perfect Son of God being crucified), is what ultimately leads to lasting forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, love and eternal life."

It's ludicrous to suggest that an omni-benevolent god can think of no other way to promote peace, joy, hope, forgiveness, love, etc than by the most evil, cruel, and barbaric acts imaginable.

"God created time and space."

What does that even mean? To "create" something implies a causal chain of events, but causal chains are dependent upon time. If there is no time, then there is no causal event.

"Time began when the earth began."

You're only off by, oh, 9 billion years or so...

Ryan Karpeles said...

I love you GCT. I wish you the best man. I really do. We're both approaching this with our own preconceptions, so it's no wonder we disagree on literally everything. I'm going off the Bible, while you're going off your intellect and the wisdom of the world. Certainly we shall see which one is correct in time...

If you'd like a better argument than my pitiful ones for the "Reason for God", check out Tim Keller's book on this very subject (called The Reason for God). He can write, and I cannot.

Cheers mate. Keep thinking and writing.

Ryan

GCT said...

Ryan,
"I really do. We're both approaching this with our own preconceptions, so it's no wonder we disagree on literally everything. I'm going off the Bible, while you're going off your intellect and the wisdom of the world."

Not using your preconception of belief in god is not a preconception of my own. Point of fact, I hold one less preconception than you, which I will argue is a better state to be in. I will then point to science, the art of shedding preconceptions and how far it has taken our knowledge of the universe.

"Certainly we shall see which one is correct in time..."

Could be neither of us...you do realize that, right?

"If you'd like a better argument than my pitiful ones for the "Reason for God", check out Tim Keller's book on this very subject (called The Reason for God). He can write, and I cannot."

Actually, I think you're doing just fine. It's not that you can't write or think or express yourself, it's that the material you have chosen to support is contradictory and logically incoherent.

The Prophetic Observer said...

You are correct Robert.

The disciples asked Jesus this same question. which he answered in Matthew 13:10-13

Much spiritual knowledge is hidden in not only parables but even many stories are actual allegories.

The problem is as an Atheist you are to use logic to understand spiritual truth, which is akin to using a hammer to see in the dark.

Spiritual truth is veiled in parables and allegory so you have to think about them to get the meaning. The Holy Spirit which you do not have at your disposal is a great help in this area.

The reason is that God does not want you to find him using logic and reason, but by faith. He wants you to work for it. YOU DO NOT STUMBLE UPON SPIRITUAL TRUTH ACCIDENTALLY. This is the same reason He doesn't simply appear to you and say "Here I am Robert, now you know I am real". No faith needed if you depend on logic and reason.

GCT said...

Pro. Obs.
"The problem is as an Atheist you are to use logic to understand spiritual truth, which is akin to using a hammer to see in the dark.

Spiritual truth is veiled in parables and allegory so you have to think about them to get the meaning."

So, we are to think about things, but without using logic and reason? Huh?

"The reason is that God does not want you to find him using logic and reason, but by faith. He wants you to work for it."

Sorry, but using faith is not "working for it." It's throwing up your hands and simply proclaiming that that which you have made up is true, regardless of the facts. "Working for it" is what we do when we do science and use logic and reason to actually learn about reality, instead of pretending that it conforms to what we want it to be.

The Prophetic Observer said...

So, we are to think about things, but without using logic and reason? Huh?

"The reason is that God does not want you to find him using logic and reason, but by faith. He wants you to work for it."

Sorry, but using faith is not "working for it." It's throwing up your hands and simply proclaiming that that which you have made up is true, regardless of the facts. "Working for it" is what we do when we do science and use logic and reason to actually learn about reality, instead of pretending that it conforms to what we want it to be.

Perhaps I can expand on that. The thing most Christians won't admit is that the Bible is based on things that seem foolish to a non-believer ON PURPOSE. The Bible plainly admits this:

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.And another:

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;We see all over the Bible absolute foolishness. Look at the Ark. Why go to all the trouble of lining up all these animals and putting them on a boat? Why not just teleport them, or just make new animals?

It is a really big concept to grasp. You have to set aside the foolishness and ask yourself, why? It is hard to do, especially for a thinking person. But once you do so, the reason is clear.

God does not want us to believe in him because of overwheming evidence. If he did, he would simply come down and appear to us. God requires faith. But once you step out in faith, God starts showing you things. He reveals Himself to you. The evidence forms in your heart.

So I understand perfectly why you think this is nonsense. But it is a spiritual matter, and to be spiritually discerned to make any sense.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Now there's an example of unmitigated gibberish! As has been pointed out before, it's the secret decoder ring mentality!

If there is a God -- which there probably isn't -- and he created humans with intellectual capacity, it would stand to reason that he would want us to use this capacity to be closer to him.

If intellectual capacity is not needed, then why not give humans the same kind of brain as a worm or a parakeet?

The Prophetic Observer said...

The Rambling Taoist said...

"Now there's an example of unmitigated gibberish! As has been pointed out before, it's the secret decoder ring mentality!"

Call it what you will, that is how it works. I already explained why it appears to be gibberish, in great detail.

RT said:

"If there is a God -- which there probably isn't -- and he created humans with intellectual capacity, it would stand to reason that he would want us to use this capacity to be closer to him.

If intellectual capacity is not needed, then why not give humans the same kind of brain as a worm or a parakeet?"

I didn't say intellectual capacity was not needed, I said it was not needed to understand spiritual truth.

GCT said...

The more parsimonious answer is that it looks like gibberish because it is gibberish.

Worse than that, it makes your god into an evil character - one that hides behind riddles and such in order to torture people after they die. Nice guy, that god.

The Prophetic Observer said...

GCT said:

"The more parsimonious answer is that it looks like gibberish because it is gibberish.

Worse than that, it makes your god into an evil character - one that hides behind riddles and such in order to torture people after they die. Nice guy, that god."

Wait till you meet the other guy, you're gonna love him. You will remember the conversation for eternity.

GCT said...

P.O.
"Wait till you meet the other guy, you're gonna love him. You will remember the conversation for eternity."

So, your solution to "god is evil" is to say that the devil is worse? How does this in any way help your argument?

The Prophetic Observer said...

GCT said:

"So, your solution to "god is evil" is to say that the devil is worse? How does this in any way help your argument?"

I never said God is evil, you did. How can God be evil, if he doesn't exist? I am flummoxed as to how you Atheists can direct so much hated towards a being that you don't even believe exists. You really need to make up your mind, it makes you seem schizophrenic.

GCT said...

PO,
"I never said God is evil, you did."

Exactly, and you countered with, "The Devil is worse." Again, how does that help your argument if you are indeed arguing that god is not evil?

"How can God be evil, if he doesn't exist? I am flummoxed as to how you Atheists can direct so much hated towards a being that you don't even believe exists."

I'm really flummoxed at how such a simple logical concept of "If god exists, then god is evil" is beyond the ken of so many apologists/theists. I'm also flummoxed by how often theists claim that atheists hate god even though it is impossible to hate something that you don't believe exists.

So, let me spell it out for you. If god exists, and is intentionally being misleading so that he can torture people in hell for eternity, then god is evil. Now, was that so hard?

"You really need to make up your mind, it makes you seem schizophrenic."

Actually, the fault lies with you either intentionally misrepresenting our argument or not being able to understand such a simple logical chain.

Ryan Karpeles said...

GCT, you wrote: "So, let me spell it out for you. If god exists, and is intentionally being misleading so that he can torture people in hell for eternity, then god is evil. Now, was that so hard?"

I do see your logic. I also have another question: Do you think human beings are inherently evil or inherently good? (Or perhaps you have a more nuanced view of evil in general).

Curious to hear your thoughts.

GCT said...

Ryan,
I think human beings are human beings, capable of good and evil, but not inherently either one. We have innate morals that are a result of our evolutionary heritage, which helps us to formulate what we feel is good or evil and act accordingly, which helps us to not be evil, but those mores have obviously changed over time.

If you mean to ask whether we are deserving of hell, even if we are innately evil, we are still not deserving of hell.

The Prophetic Observer said...

GCT said:

"Exactly, and you countered with, "The Devil is worse." Again, how does that help your argument if you are indeed arguing that god is not evil?"

Quite simple actually. I was trying to demonstrate that even if your assumption were correct, your logic is still retarded. Assuming you actually believe that God is evil, the simple fact that the Devil is worse would make God the obvious choice between the two. For a rational person that is.

GCT said:

"I'm really flummoxed at how such a simple logical concept of "If god exists, then god is evil" is beyond the ken of so many apologists/theists. I'm also flummoxed by how often theists claim that atheists hate god even though it is impossible to hate something that you don't believe exists."

"If god exists, then god is evil" is a non-answer. After all the "defense" of Atheism you seem to be saying now that you are a Agnostic. More schizophrenia.

GCT said...

P.O.,
"Quite simple actually. I was trying to demonstrate that even if your assumption were correct, your logic is still retarded."

Um, OK, sure. If god is evil, then the Devil being more evil somehow makes it OK. Fine, so let's say that someone walks up to you and punches you, then says, "Calm down man, that other guy over there would kill you given the chance, so you should be happy that I just punched you." Using your logic, it would be just fine that he punched you.

"Assuming you actually believe that God is evil, the simple fact that the Devil is worse would make God the obvious choice between the two. For a rational person that is."

Um, OK. So, what you are saying is that evil should be tolerated and chosen so long as the alternative is more evil. I happen to be more ethical and moral than that, however, and I choose to stand against evil regardless of whether it's better evil or worse evil than something else.

""If god exists, then god is evil" is a non-answer. After all the "defense" of Atheism you seem to be saying now that you are a Agnostic. More schizophrenia."

I'm truly amazed that you can't understand a simple if/then construction. Maybe Ryan can explain it to you so that you'll understand? I'll give it another try.

You claim god exists and has done X, Y, and Z. I say that your conception of god is of an evil deity. So, if your god exists, then this god is evil. This makes no declaration of whether I believe in god or not, I'm simply noting the logical conclusion of your beliefs/arguments. It's not schizophrenic, it's not agnostic, it's being able to form a constructive sentences that denote potential eventualities and what their consequences would be. That you continue to be unable to understand such a simple concept does not speak well for you, and worse, that you are smug and arrogant about it speaks even less highly of you.

The Prophetic Observer said...

RT said:

"If there is a God -- which there probably isn't -- and he created humans with intellectual capacity, it would stand to reason that he would want us to use this capacity to be closer to him."

There you go again trying to use logic to understand God. As I stated previously, you relate to God on His terms, not yours. God uses allegories and parables because they bypass our logic and reason to give us truth. Take the parable of the sower. You cannot nitpick each detail of the story, it is a parable. But it illustrates a spiritual truth in a convenient package. You either get it or you don't.

GCT said...

"There you go again trying to use logic to understand God."

Yes, how silly of us to try and use the only tools we have of coming to understand things to try and understand something!

"God uses allegories and parables because they bypass our logic and reason to give us truth."

That's not what he says though. And, you still have to use logic and reason to figure out what the parable is trying to tell you.

"Take the parable of the sower. You cannot nitpick each detail of the story, it is a parable. But it illustrates a spiritual truth in a convenient package."

IOW, god wrote a bunch of superfluous stuff, and you can pick and choose which parts make sense to you and then browbeat all others for being stupid if they don't pick and choose the same parts as you or the same meanings for those parts.