An Honest Search for God


Enjoy the podcast

If you do not believe the Christian story, you are doomed. It does not matter how hard you tried to believe it, or how much research you put into the process. At the end of the day, it is impossible to please god without faith. What seals your fait is that there is no way to get the faith you lack. There is no prayer you can pray, no book you can read, no sermon you can hear, no service you can attend that will get you from faithlessness to faith.

I am a skeptic, no, an atheist who is reasonably convinced that the Christian god does not exist. I could be wrong. I don’t mind being wrong. I have no stake in the matter. I don’t need to be right about this to be a happy and fulfilled human being. If it turns out there is a god, I will figure out what to do next and do it. I’m a writer. It would be the story of the century. It is all upside for me.

Some have accused me of being insincere. I am learning to tune those people out. The first 40 years of my life was devoted to knowing and serving this god. Christians use the accusation of insincerity as a defense mechanism. If they can convince themselves that the atheist is not sincere or genuine, then they have a justification for why god does not make himself known to them.

They don’t have to contemplate our doomed condition. It is our fault. We chose this condition. We may not have chosen to disbelieve. But we chose to stay in that condition. We chose to avoid the things that might have had an effect on our hearts. Ultimately, god is the one who changes hearts. And he acts on the people who are sincerely open to him and accepting of his methods. If we remain unbelievers, it is because god knew our hearts and left us in that condition. And if god has judged us, then the Christian doesn’t have to think about it.

Nothing will convince the Christian that the atheist is sincere. There is no amount of searching the atheist can do that will ever be enough. Sufficient search would end in sufficient results. So an unbeliever simply has not put in the right amount of time doing the right things with the proper resources while exhibiting the correct frame of heart and mind.

This is the game Christians play. They pretend to know things about us they cannot possibly know. They are certain we haven’t encountered the right information. If we only knew what they know, read what they read, heard and seen what they heard and saw, we would be convinced as they are. They don’t know why we haven’t heard the still, small voice, but it is somehow our fault for drowning it out. They don’t know exactly how it is we quenched the spirit. They only know that we did.

While I am certain that Christians who think like this are as sincere as they can be, I am equally convinced we have to let their opinions stop having an effect on our psyche. They have disqualified themselves from rational discourse on the matter. They have become judges of our hearts as opposed to honest interlocutors seeking the truth. We ave to stop playing their game of trying to prove our sincerity as if they were the proper arbiters of such things. They most certainly are not.

Instead, if there is a god that wants to be found. And if we want to find him, we have to take the matter into our own hands. We have to determine the parameters of what is possible and reasonable. Before exploring what an honest search for god looks like, I want to lay out my case for why I don’t believe Christian suggestions are appropriate or effective:

Equally broken, equally fixed

The first thing the Christian has to explain to me is why they are able to encounter god and I am not. We are all the same kind of broken. Making a point that no group has an advantage over the other, Paul quotes the following:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

This is a bleak view of humanity. I vehemently disagree with it. But it is the Christian view. So how did they get past all that to seek god in the first place? What special dispensation of faith did they get that I didn’t? If Paul is right, no one should have the slightest motivation to seek god, let alone find him. The spark must come from god.

However, if god provides this spark, he must provide it equally to everyone. Yet something seems very much unequal as some seem to have it while others do not. Some people take to the fix while others don’t. All the Christian can say to this is that god gave everyone the same spark of faith. And we all used our free will differently. But this does nothing to explain why some develop faith in god while others with the same spark do not.

Free will is waived around like a magic wand. It is intended to explain everything while providing an actual explanation for nothing. What exactly did I do wrong with my free will? What did you choose to do that I did not? I contend that I did not choose not to believe. In my case, I chose to believe, and did all that I could to hold on to belief. So if god appears to others but not to me, I declare that the game is unfairly rigged.

Lowest common denominator

Equality is an important theme to me. That is why seeking god has to be accessible to all, in the same way for all. The simplest person who will be held account for her actions should be able to discover god. I should be able to discover god in the same way.

For it to be fair, it cannot be one set of criteria for one person and a different set for someone else. If one person receives a clear and convincing sign, then we all should. Either we should all magically be convinced by the same sign, or we should each receive a sign that is convincing to us.

I am rather suspicious of demands to do academic research into questionable matters that flummox the most ambitious scholars of every generation. The simple goat herder Jesus encountered on the hillside didn’t have to go through that. The vast majority of believers who ever lived didn’t have to go through that. So it seems unfair to demand it of me today. Why should most people get the easy test but I get the hard one? I don’t buy it.

I should be called on to do more to earn my faith than the simplest believer who has experienced god. Requiring more of me is favoritism. The only thing the Christian can say is that god varies the level of difficulty for each individual based on his own perfect reasons. If it is harder for me, then it should be. This is not a satisfactory explanation. I have no idea why Christians would be satisfied with it. I’m not.

Open and shut case

Based on various conversion stories, some people were open to god and received confirmation right away. While others were closed and stubborn. The latter group still encountered god because he was persistent, often accommodating their request for signs. Paul was not open to Jesus at all. But god insisted on Paul knowing the truth.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether a person is open to god or closed to him since many who self-reported as being closed were still pursued by god. I can only conclude that the Christian’s requirement that we be open in some way is bogus. It is certainly unfair to require I be more open to god than others who encountered him. If god reveals himself to one closed person and not all, then it means he has his favorites. How does one get into that category?

Time after time

The last factor I will address on the subject of why the Christian suggestions don’t work for me is time. Specifically, it takes almost no time for some people to come to a knowledge of god and a lifetime for others. This seems inherently unfair to me. One person finds god the first place he looks. While another person never finds god after a lifetime of frustrated seeking.

How much time should a person reasonably set aside for the search? Consider a man who tells his wife he wants to take all the savings along with a month from work to go to some cave in the Holy Lands and discover god. He can only take a month because that is all the time work will allow, and is as far as the money will go. She reluctantly agrees. After a month, he comes back and reports that he did not discover god, but wants to take another month because he needs to be sure. She is well within her rights to tell him no. He needs to go back to work and make an income.

Some Christians found god right away. What they say to others who did not find god so readily is that they need to take another month off work, then another, then another. To end the search and return to your old life is proof that you were never worthy of the search in the first place. I believe this is unreasonable.

Miracle Stories

Miracles are always an important part of the conversion story for Christians. At some point along the way, they are going to try and convince you that the truth of Christianity has already been demonstrated with some miracle or other. And that is yet another place where it breaks down for me. It is a disconnect that most Christians don’t even see after I point it out to them. They were convinced by a miracle the personally experienced. And they expect me to be convinced by their story.

Let’s break this down: god performed a miracle for them during their time of doubt. And they are believers today because of that experience. They knew about the experiences reported by others. But they still had their own doubts that could not be set aside by any means other than personal experience. They got it. Instead of understanding our doubts, they inundated us with stories of miracle and of their own experiences, experiences we have been denied.

I am beyond the point where stories can help me. I have seen too many of them exposed as false. Further, I have no way to distinguish the clever frauds from potentially legitimate stories. That avenue of faith is ruined for me. But I see no reason why anyone should believe on the basis of stories when god could provide everyone with their own convincing experience.

Finding god

Finding god is harder than finding Nemo. After putting in a certain amount of time and effort into searching for god, one gets the distinct impression that god does not want to be found. This takes us to a problem commonly known as the hiddenness of god. At this point, the wheels come completely off the Christian bus.

On the one hand, they tell us that god is discoverable and wants to be found by a true seeker. On the other hand, they have a whole set of apologetics for why god is keeping us from finding him. The way I see it, if god does not want to be found, there is nothing I can do to find him. I just as well give up. No book I read, no pilgrimage on which I embark, no prayer I pray, no sacrifice I make will bring me any closer to finding god.

It is like the people of the ancient story who tried to build a tower to heaven. They were ultimately rebuffed because god does not want to be found by people using their best human efforts. That would be like summoning god as if he were a minor spirit who could be conjured by the machinations of a wizard. He apparently does not respond well to such efforts.

So I suppose the first question I need to ask is does god even want to be found by such as me. I don’t know the answer to this question. And I don’t know how to discover the answer to the question. Does it make sense to pray to a god you don’t believe in? I suppose it is no different than calling out to someone you don’t believe is there. If I wake up in the middle of the night after hearing a noise in the house, I might get up and call out asking if anyone is there. I don’t believe that anyone is there. But on the off chance that they are, perhaps they will answer.

Praying to god is just me speaking into the void in the event that someone is there just waiting to be asked. I don’t feel comfortable describing this as prayer. I am not praying to a potential intruder when I ask if anyone is there. It should be sufficient to just say something like, “God, are you there?” How many times should I ask before it is okay to stop asking the void if anyone is there? I don’t know the answer to that.

Another way to look for god is by going to church assemblies. After all, where two or three are gathered in his name, there, he will be. That’s from the Bible. So why not search for god where he says he will be? The problem is that I spent yers in church going two to three times a week, and sometimes more. I never really encountered him there in any meaningful way. I attended a variety of denominations in case he was more particular about where he showed up.

The bible is said to be his word. So in some mysterious way, he speaks through the Bible. No one can say with any certainty how that happens or how we are supposed to interpret it. But perhaps I can encounter him by reading his words rather than the words of scholars. The challenge for me is that I have read the Bible many times and know it better than most Christians. I am told by Christians that I shouldn’t judge god by the Old Testament scriptures where he dealt with humans directly. Rather, I should concentrate on the gospels despite there being a major rift in New Testament scholarship regarding how one reads and interprets those passages. Even so, should I give the Bible another read through just to be thorough?

The only other thing that comes to mind is if I just pretend to believe in god – fake it till I make it. Perhaps that is the way god works. Perhaps I can generate faith by approximating it. I don’t know what that would actually mean or how I am actually supposed to do it. I am at a loss as to how to proceed.

Conclusion: Other gods

There is one thing that disturbs me in this whole process of searching for god. I am putting out a lot of effort to find a single god when there are so many others for which I could be looking. Shouldn’t I be equally open to finding Hindu gods, the Muslim god, Satan? Frankly, I would be just as happy finding any god? But I rather suspect that the Christian would frown on me putting effort into finding other gods. They might suggest that seeking other gods is the reason their god remains hidden to me.

I can’t let that bother me. I am on a sincere quest to find god in whatever form he appears. I have no reason to believe there is only one god to be found. And I am open and eager to find them all. Why should I believe that failure to find one means there are none to find?

Finally, there must be some reasonable limits to the search. I will not kill a chicken and dance naked on the 50 yard line at the Super Bowl. I will not take a pilgrimage to anywhere, or take a vow of silence. There are things I will not read simply because I can’t. There are languages I don’t speak, and a level of academia that is frankly over my head.

There also has to be a reasonable amount of time placed on a search. While I will always welcome the eventuality that some god will make himself or herself known to me, I cannot actively search beyond a certain point. As always, I welcome the suggestions from whomever has a direct line to god, any god.

And that’s the view from the skeptic.

David Johnson


103 thoughts on “An Honest Search for God

  1. Huh, not through the whole podcast yet, but I have to say this is probably my favorite of all of them that have been done so far.

    Besides the fact that Bryan is doing an awesome job and should be invited on as a permanent cohost, I loved this interaction:

    Bryan: “And I am saying you are being very gullible, you aren’t stress testing your belief and testing to make sure they have strong foundations and are true.”

    David: “I understand that. I completely appreciate that, and yet I don’t how to be a seeker of the mystical without it.”

    David finally said what every atheist that has never grown up in a religion thinks. He isn’t sure how to be a real seeker in the mystical without being gullible.

    Lol, is that actually what he meant? Possibly, it is a little unclear from the context, but that is what I will take away from it, and in my mind, that is what David will have said forever more. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! I was re-listening to the podcast and was at that very section you cited when you made this post.

      Kudos to Brian for calling me out as being gullible. That is what he should have said. But I stand by what I said even though it is not good epistemology. The claim of mystics is not that their experience can be epistemologically examined for soundness. It is that they have an encounter with the supernatural. I will not set aside my skepticism to have that experience. But I test the parts of the claim that I can.

      Part of the claim of the mystic is that mystical experiences are possible. And those mystical experiences are often had through what seems like mundane events. The first part of the claim is that one can even have what seems like a mystical experience. Once I have it, I can examine it for truth. Part of the claim is that you will know it is true through some type of properly basic belief. I don’t believe in those. So if I get the experience and have a properly basic belief that causes me to deny my skepticism, that would be an interesting data point.

      There may be something in the experience that I cannot predict right now. So it is not fair for me to declare the experiment useless before it begins. The only way to evaluate the mystic’s claim is to go on the journey and have the experience. I don’t know how to seek any other way. Some claims cannot be tested from the outside using logic. I am comfortable stepping outside the logic bubble to find a god if he is there to be found.

      I once dated a reiki practitioner. I did not believe in it at all. But I did the things she suggested and gave it the most honest try I could. I have done the same thing with magnets. Trying to debunk a thing from the outside is senseless when it is this easy to just taste and see for one’s self. To me, leaving myself open to the mystical does not cause me to stop all skeptical examination.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. David: But I stand by what I said even though it is not good epistemology. The claim of mystics is not that their experience can be epistemologically examined for soundness. It is that they have an encounter with the supernatural.

        The problem is that if they are not using good epistemology, then they themselves don’t have any warrant in thinking that they are correct, much less you. And if they are using a known flaw in human thinking to come to their conclusion, then the chances of them actually being correct is vanishingly small.

        The first part of the claim is that one can even have what seems like a mystical experience. Once I have it, I can examine it for truth.

        How would you go about examining it for truth? One of the hard-won lessons in science is that you start out with your test before you do the experiment. After all, if your goal is to figure out the truth of reality, and you don’t know how you are going to go about examining the experience for truth, then what is the value of having the experience in the first place?

        Part of the claim is that you will know it is true through some type of properly basic belief. I don’t believe in those. So if I get the experience and have a properly basic belief that causes me to deny my skepticism, that would be an interesting data point.

        Not really. If you can’t demonstrate that the properly basic belief is what is being claimed, then you have no way to distinguish self-delusion from an actual mystical experience. Because you don’t have any way to distinguish between the two, It would literally mean nothing if you ended up having that properly basic belief. You wouldn’t be adding any new information that would allow you to figure it out.

        There may be something in the experience that I cannot predict right now. So it is not fair for me to declare the experiment useless before it begins.

        Actually, it is fair to do that. If you have no methodology to distinguish a mystical event from a known flaw in human thinking, then doing the experiment is not going to provide any useful information. After all, if you don’t have the methodology now, you aren’t going to have it after you do the experiment. Though you might be tricked into thinking you have by that known flaw in human thinking.

        You need to figure out the methodology beforehand, so you can make predictions about the experiment. If the predictions come true, then you know the experiment was a success, and if the predictions fail, then you know the experiment was a failure.

        The only way to evaluate the mystic’s claim is to go on the journey and have the experience. I don’t know how to seek any other way.

        Yes, you need to go on the journey, but that is the second step, not the first. The first is to figure out a reliable method to interpret the journey you go on.

        To me, leaving myself open to the mystical does not cause me to stop all skeptical examination.

        Nor should it, but if you don’t have a valid way to interpret what you are experiencing, then how can you claim to come to a conclusion about what you experienced?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, David,

        I’m only about 27 minutes into this podcast, (so I don’t know what you’re going to say for the next 1.5 hours), but with what I have heard you say so far, I have a faith and confidence in what I am hearing from you, and how you are saying it, that I want to make my comment right now.

        From the way that you opened yourself up to suggestions from Christians at the close of the last podcast, and from what I am hearing thus far in this podcast, I’m hearing and sensing something very different from you that I haven’t heard or sensed before. You are opening yourself up to, possibly, having God (or a god) in your life again. You are contemplating no longer viewing yourself as the highest power in your life. You are contemplating humbling yourself to God or a god if you find Him.

        Not that you need me to, or that my opinion really matters in your life, but I still want to acknowledge that it takes an extraordinary amount of character to be receptive to listening to a message that you seem to have, previously, shut the door on. Not many people are willing to do this. I greatly respect you for doing that, and for sharing your thoughts with us on that.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi, David “I Don’t Believe in Magic” Johnson and the Kabuki Kid,

          Great show guys! I enjoyed it –very fun and interesting to listen to.

          BUT, Teddi, the Bear MOST DEFINITELY should have waited to listen to the ENTIRE podcast prior to commenting. What I thought that I was hearing in the first half hour of the podcast turned into kabuki theater by the last. I should’ve known better.

          David, you’re not sure which god to believe in, and Satan is up for grabs as one of them??? Since the Judeo-Christian God created Satan, why would you even bother offering that up as a possibility if not to get a 2-for-1 by insulting God and generating some shock value.

          You both kept talking about “searching” for God. Maybe, it would be helpful to just find out whether or not God exists. David coined the term “Shroud-first Christianity.” I’m now coining the term “High-maintenance Christianity.” A “high-maintenance Christian” is one who requires God to be as He expects God to be. “Daddy, will you give me my own personal miracle so that I can believe in you?” The “high-maintenance Christian” sure does have a lot of expectations on God. When they want Him, they want him NOW. Chop, chop! If God disappoints them, they start to suspect that God might not exist. Then, they let their doubts turn into snowballs rolling down a snow-covered hill.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Two things:

            1. I don’t think it is high-maintenance to ask for one sure sign that god is real. You have that sign for yourself. So it seems reasonable that every believer have at least one convincing miracle. Why should others get it and not me?

            2. You responded predictably to my question at the end of the podcast without even bothering to try to engage with the honest conundrum. Why should I limit my search for god to only one god? Why should that poison the well as long as the search is honest? I only mentioned the devil because he is a god who does not mind showing up when you speak of him. Is it really an honest search for god if I don’t include the one god who doesn’t mind manifesting?

            I’m not a Christian, I am simply seeking the truth of the existence of a supernatural being most people would think of as a god. Satan could be real without any part of the Christian story being true. You say god invented Satan. But maybe Satan invented the story of your god. You want me to buy into your story before embarking upon the search. That’s not fair or honest.

            By agreeing to do online church and using part of S&S time to listen to Christians tell me their stories, I am giving a lot of search space to the Christian god already. But for you, I should search exclusively for the Christian god or no god. Disappointing, but predictable. Why not consider the problem and help me come up with a logical answer?

            Liked by 4 people

          2. Sigh. Thanks for listening and for also being a poster child for exactly the attitude I was describing in the episode. You don’t care about a thoughtful and productive process or a level playing field, you just want to privilege your opinions and scorn those who don’t share them. You’d be more comfortable with a Christian who got there by flipping a coin versus a sincere honest seeker who isn’t convinced. I’ll take the latter guy every day of the week even if he doesn’t currently hold the right position.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. Darren, thank you for the high praise, I’m extremely grateful. I felt like I was channeling a lot of ideas I’ve gleaned from reading you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just finished the podcast. And I think between the two of you you produced a perfect test for any god, and if the test fails then you are completely justified in walking away.

    Bryan pointed out in the very beginning that there is no functional difference between no god and a god that doesn’t want to have a relationship with you. David pointed out that the Christian god has absolutely no problems talking directly to people. He does it all the time in the bible.

    Put those two ideas together and you have a way forward that can easily be used as a falsifiability test.

    Call out for any god to show himself to you. And if no gods do, then you know that the Christian god doesn’t exist. If you call out and don’t get an answer, it means that any gods that want to have a relationship with you don’t exist. If a god does exist then it can’t be the christian god because the christian god is said to want to have a relationship with you and is capable of appearing to you.

    I think this idea of chasing after the god is overkill. Either the god wants to have a relationship or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then you are wasting your time chasing after it, if it does then it won’t require you to chase after it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So I’m following up on one of the things I said I would do which is hang out on Christian forums and just take in what they have to say on a variety of issues. There is one board where a self-styled seeker asked a question about how the first couple could be made perfect yet yield to temptation. The answers are all over the map. Here is one lengthy response that I thought I would share here:

    The creation of Eve mirrors the creation of Lucifer. God was rehearsing the creation of Lucifer in Eve in that Lucifer was made of the very substance of God himself, to be his spirit ‘loved one’. Lucifer was a ‘wife-type’ to God, without actually having a ‘female’ gender. Lucifer was the ante-type of the Proverbs 31 woman, being given great authority and resources to provide and care for God’s family of angels, while her husband/God was ‘in the gate’/on his throne.

    Eve likewise was made from the very substance of Adam…his rib, to be his helper and consort/wife. As God created Lucifer a ‘suitable’ companion for himself, he also created Eve as a suitable companion for Adam, realizing that it was not good for either of them to be alone. So as Adam gave up part of himself for the creation of Eve God also gave part of himself in the creation of Lucifer.

    Lucifer, like the Proverbs 31 wife, was given great authority, over one-third of the spirit family of God. Lucifer had a throne, whether physical or not, upon the earth, and became enamored with the idea of elevating that position over all the other angels. It grew into a conspiracy involving all of the angels in his charge. With strength of numbers he ascended to the throne room of God and sought equal authority. What Lucifer attempted to claim was deemed by God to be “rebellion” against his authority, and thus the concept of “sin” came into being.

    Eve did much the same thing, taking authority to herself, however innocent and however deceived, in regard to God’s authority.

    The results were the same. Lucifer was cast out of heaven, Eve and Adam were cast out of paradise. Both events led to ruin, of God’s heavenly kingdom, and of the repeated ruin of the kingdoms of the earth, to culminate in total destruction, save for the eleventh hour intervention ‘for the elects sake’.

    Happily both kingdoms will be restored. The earth under the millennial rule of Christ; the Kingdom of Heaven in the ‘new heavens and new earth’.

    This is exactly the kind of garbage I expected. You all have to understand I have been through this before when I was trying to retain my faith. If anything, Christians sound even crazier than they did before when addressing this stuff. This is just one example of how out there they get.

    Don’t mistake this for mocking. This is just what it sounds like when Christians talk about this stuff. They can’t agree even on the small things. And they just leave the seeker confused. How is anyone supposed to navigate this stuff to discover god?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Quoted from a Christian above: “As God created Lucifer a ‘suitable’ companion for himself, he also created Eve as a suitable companion for Adam, realizing that it was not good for either of them to be alone.”

      It’s amazing how Christians often speak like this about God without their brain prat-falling face first over an obvious incoherence.

      An Omniscient Creator had to “realize” afterward that it wasn’t good for his creation to be alone? So Adam had to kick in a rib to fix the oversight?

      And of course like virtually every Christian “answer” all that was a non-answer to the question. None of it actually explains how it makes sense a perfect creation sinned. It simply describes that they sinned.

      Eve did much the same thing, taking authority to herself, however innocent and however deceived, in regard to God’s authority.

      The results were the same. Lucifer was cast out of heaven, Eve and Adam were cast out of paradise. Both events led to ruin, of God’s heavenly kingdom, and of the repeated ruin of the kingdoms of the earth, to culminate in total destruction,

      So many things wrong here…

      So a Perfectly Just God meets out the same punishment regardless of the different circumstances and reasons for which they occurred. If you make an mistake out of innocence, having been deceived, you are treated to the same harsh punishment as a being who deliberately and knowingly chose to sin. That’s Divine Benevolence And Wisdom for you.

      Second, God put a tempting fruit in the Garden AND a tempting, “lying” serpent to push things along so that his naive creation would doubtless eat it, and for which the consequences would lead “to ruin, of God’s heavenly kingdom, and of the repeated ruin of the kingdoms of the earth, to culminate in total destruction, “

      This describes the Dumbest Creator one could imagine. And that’s being charitable as it really describes in any other context the actions of a Demon.

      And yet Christians actually wonder why non-believers don’t just praise their Biblical God as The Most Perfect Representation Of Justice, Intelligence and Morality conceivable.

      It’s like trying to reason with Trump supporters who, when Trump claims to know more about the middle east than anyone including his generals, they just believe him.

      Whaddyagonnado? Sigh….

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi David,
    I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast.

    A few thoughts from your post:
    First, when I read someone says “atheists do X” or “Christians use Y” that comes across to me as “all atheists do X” or “all Christians use Y”. Or, if not all then at least “The vast majority of atheists do X” or “the vast majority of Christians use Y.” Which, of course, leads me to question what percentage of atheists do X and what percentage of Christians use Y – and where did these numbers come from. And, speaking only for myself, when I hear “atheists do X” or “Christians use Y” I tend to immediately think – “I know at least some atheists who doesn’t do X” or “I know at least sone Christians who doesn’t use Y” – and sometimes I get so distracted by this that I miss the legitimate main point the person was trying to make. Now, I know that hyperbole is a legitimate literary device – and I’m not saying you do this more than others – just sharing how I tend to take it. So, more a reflection upon me than you.

    Second, while I know that many Christians and Christian denominations hold (or have held) that one must believe to be saved, not all do. For example, any denomination that practices infant baptism (Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox, Catholics, etc.) hold that baptized infants are not doomed, but saved, even though they don’t have the capacity to believe. You, yourself, mentioned one of your old denomination held to the “baby card.” And, it isn’t just the baptized who don’t have beliefs that might be saved – I’ve shared in the past that at least the Catholic Church holds out the possibility of those who follow their consciences, even if they don’t believe, might not be doomed. “Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” (Vatican II; Lumen Gentium). David, again, you have a very valid point about some Christians who hold to the view you mentioned – I’m merely pointing out that isn’t a universal belief among Christians.

    Some hold that God is truth and so seeking God is the same as seeking truth and being open to God is being open to truth. We don’t all get/understand the same truths. Much as I’m open to the truths of math, I don’t get the same truths of math as a mathematician does. So, if God has to be accessible to all in the same way, then shouldn’t all truths, such as mathematical truths, be accessible to all in the same way?

    David, you say you never really encountered God in Church in any meaningful way – while you were spending all of those years in Church, did you feel you had encountered God and now doubt it? Or did you never feel that you had encountered God? (Myself, I would sometimes get a peaceful feeling – a type of calmness or relaxation – but I’m not sure if that was any different from meditating.)

    Again, looking forward to the podcast,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no feeling of calm or peace or euphoria I had as a believer at church that I haven’t had as a nonbeliever away from church. It might sound trivial. But the greatest sense of euphoria I have felt that is repeatable is being present at a football game. It’s not like watching it on TV. There is something about being in the midst of 100,000 of your closest friends in the throws of emotional frenzy. Church never gave me anything like that. And if you have never experienced it, you can’t understand it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi David,
        Thanks for responding.
        And I do agree that it can be hard or impossible for someone to understand an experience another person has had which they haven’t.



  5. Hi David and Bryan,
    What a great show!!! Loved it!

    At one point you talked about experiences (or some sort of encounters with the supernatural). Several years ago, I read the old, but classic, “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James. I thought it was a terrific book if one is interested in some of the different types of religious experiences people had encountered.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Bryan and David,

    I’m not having a good day today and so I don’t really feel like going into a whole bunch of detail but I’ll just make two points;

    1. My real seeker notion (the 3 human responsibility criteria and the Point of no Return notion) are fully supported either explicitly or implicitly in various Bible verses. This includes some of those aspects being from Romans 1-3. Yes Romans 1 means that there is an issue in regard to monotheistic God belief, but I think the text makes it clear that over the generations people forgot and so it is not necessarily saying that everyone today did that- there is room for interpretation other than saying everyone really believes in God and they are intentionally lying about it. Again, everything about my real seeker notion is fully taught/endorsed and/or consistent with the Bible, not a single element except perhaps the issue of God in general belief and/or the notion of the point of no return being beyond biological death.

    Ask yourself why didn’t God appear to Paul right away instead of 3 years later- a lot of Christian’s lives could have been spared, yet Paul as a real seeker (he was open to truth, actively seeking the truth- persecuting Christians was perhaps His way of doing that and also true to form as a Real Seeker he submitted to God’s truth when He realized it). So Paul met his obligations and was humble in allowing God to reveal the truth when He knew it was the right time, Paul did not say to God “yeah but why not 3 years ago or why didn’t you wear a red cloak instead of he white and blue one when you appeared to me”.

    2. You ask about other religions- yes I think it is good for you to seek out their truth as well. Even as a Christian, I support your doing this as I think it will be good for you to learn what other religions are and how they compare to Christianity in terms of evidences or even just qualitatively.

    Even as a non-Christian when I investigated the religions I noticed a marked qualitative difference in the Bible compared to the Quran or other religious scriptures. This was just a sense that I had, I didn’t develop it further into an argument or “G-Belief Authenticating Event”, but something said this feels like the Word of God whereas the others are lacking something. So I think that perhaps reading the Quran or a few other religious texts may help you be familiar with how the Bible compares to them and see if you sense any difference or not.

    Further, a couple great books one as an intro of the major religions by Huston Smith called The World’s Religions- it is the best out there as he really explains it from an insider perspective- the best there is for this kind of intro thing = . Also Robert Van Voorst has an anthology of World Scriptures with major teachings in the various texts selected- I have the 7th Edition personally but see the 8th here =

    Finally, pick a religion and study some of its proofs in comparison to Christianity’s proofs- Islam is probably the best and most apt comparison as they are both “evangelistic” faiths and make various Apologetic Arguments freely available to those seeking- I’d be happy to help you out on this if you’d like.

    This will take you beyond the 1 month mark though, so if that is not doable than, I guess just maybe read the Quran and see what you think compared to the Bible if you feel any differences that prompt you to want to look into Christianity or Islam more or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dale: “I’m not having a good day today …”

      Hi Dale,
      I’m sorry to hear that you are not having a good day – I hope it becomes better for you soon.


      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dale,

      Again, everything about my real seeker notion is fully taught/endorsed and/or consistent with the Bible, not a single element except perhaps the issue of God in general belief and/or the notion of the point of no return being beyond biological death.

      I’m glad you clarified this as I’ve never understood where you’ve got this notion of post death point of no return. You seem very sure when you speak of it, so it’s helpful you admit it’s just your theory and not biblical because I’d never heard of it being so.

      Given billions will have died in a state of ignorance and unbelief without the slightest idea they have a real seeker obligation or even what that is, I suspect it’s something you have had to incorporate in order to help alleviate cog diss and not make god look like a monster. If it turns out not to be the case, and you find out it ain’t so on the other side, would that change your view of the god you are now stuck eternity praising? Or at the very least make you consider him not that just and loving? It certainly would me. This is why I find this god improbable.

      Most people will be getting in on this ticket and the trouble is, there is no proof this ticket even exists. Is it not a big oversight not to have incorporated it into general theology?

      Ask yourself why didn’t God appear to Paul right away instead of 3 years later- a lot of Christian’s lives could have been spared, yet Paul as a real seeker (he was open to truth, actively seeking the truth- persecuting Christians was perhaps His way of doing that and also true to form as a Real Seeker he submitted to God’s truth when He realized it). .

      You seem to be arguing for the other side here. 😉Yes, we should indeed ask why god didn’t stop Paul,slaughtering Christians. This is somehow turned into a positive thing: It helped him convert. Too bad for the slaughtered believers I guess? That doesn’t seem very fair and is it not a little weird to suggestion slaughtering people can count as actively seeking? Are any and every means justified/excusable when actively seeking? Furthermore, I don’t think Paul was actively seeking anyway. He was wanting to destroy Christians. It’s only because he got kicked off his horse on his @rse as David says, that he relented. He wasn’t remotely looking for this. It was Less about finding truth following a period of seeking, more a forced, dramatic cosmic stopping.

      After the point of death, at the big reveal, that too is when most of us will fully see God’s truth and finally understand. ‘Oh wow, I was so wrong. I get it now’. So your PONR being extended post death makes sense and seems fair. What does not though, is having no biblical mention of it and only what amounts to a hopeful conjecture by a fella called Dale. In this case, I hope Dale is right.

      Feel better. This too shall pass.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sarah, I was trying to say the opposite that my real seeker notion IS rooted in the Bible either explicitly or implicitly.

        The Paul example was an example of someone who was “untimely born”, despite being a real seeker, it took God 3 years to reach out and reveal Himself to Paul and thus I’m saying this tells us that we must be patient and not make ultimatums with God in the form of you have 1 month to reveal yourself or that proves you don’t exist type deal- that kind of thing is wrong headed and invalidates the falsification test before it even begins as we know from the Bible God doesn’t reveal Himself to people who do this. This was why I was telling David he needs to treat this as a possible verification test and not a falsification one and look for and capitalize on any opportunities God presents to him beyond the 1 month trial.

        In relation to the Point of No Return aspect- yes this is the most difficult to prove explicitly in the Bible, however I would say that the Bible is explicit in the requirements for salvation and we know that those requirements are attainable by human beings up to the point of biological death and thus it is implied that the point of no return minimally is the point of death. Again, this is what most Christians believe and an option that I have said maybe true as well.

        That said, Judgement Day does not happen right after our biological deaths and so it is consistent with the Bible to speculate that perhaps some may repent and place their faith in Jesus in the interim this does not contradict the Bible and there are various parables in the Bible like the one about Lazarus and the drop of water that imply that people in the intermediate period are conscious and able to take stalk of their miserable sinful state and have a desire for something better from Heaven.

        Finally, my notion that perhaps the point of no return extends beyond Judgement Day where some in Hell post-Judgement Day may be able to repent and get saved via placing their faith in Jesus, yes I understand why this would be radical to you, it was for me when I first read this idea in Richard Swinburne’s book Faith and Reason- I figured he was just an Eastern Orthodox loon, but then I looked at his case for it. It is not so crazy as you might think Sarah, many of the same arguments that annihliationists use to argue that some may be annihilated after a period of time of suffering for their sins in Hell can be used to say that perhaps some will not be annihilated after some period of time in Hell but actually get saved- again this is my using Lewis notion of Hell’s door being locked from the inside and giving a head nod to some of the more liberal Christians out there who try to argue for universalism or annhilationism just with my own twist of saying that not everyone in Hell will eventually get saved but most will remain there and also saying that perhaps after a period of suffering some will choose to suffer forever, others may choose to be annihilated and still a few others may choose to get saved.

        Again, these are possibilities that I’m open about, the Bible speaks very little about Hell proper (instead most of the stuff in the NT is about the intermediate period not Hell post Judgement Day) and so there is room to make implied speculations here. That said, I’m not dogmatic and I will happily follow the Bible in whatever it says, no matter what option is true, I find all of them are moral options ascribing no blame to God for the Hell-bound people and are consistent with my notion of being a Real Seeker up to the point of no return.

        Again, Sarah my speculations that the point of no return may extend beyond death, is not an official part of my “Real Seekers” notion- right, I leave that part unspecified as I don’t know for sure when that point is and I only know that God must reveal Himself to any and all real seekers at some point before that unspecified point of no return in accordance with His overall providential plan. That means for Peter, God reveals Himself right away, for Paul it takes 3 years, for me it took 10 years.

        In terms of the other 3 aspects outlining our responsibility to be a real seeker- open to truth, actively seeking the truth and submitting or obeying the truth when found are all fully biblical- I can give explicit verse supporting each one of them. Surely you know full well that these elements are fully biblical.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. P.S. I was wanting to say that I’m aware of Bible verses like Hebrews 9:27 that may be used to imply that biological death is the point of no return- perhaps but again I’m open to this possible candidate for the “PONR” already so it’s not a problem for my Real Seeker notion even if you read verses like this in this way.

          What is NOT in the Bible either explicitly or implicitly, is that a “heathen” like David can “test” the LORD his God by artificially defining the point of no return to 1 month from today and then use that to say the Christian God is a false God and/or closing his mind to His existence as a result of that one month trial. Show me the verse that says “Thou non-believers shall put Me to the test for 1 month and if I don’t respond that proves you the Christian religion is false”.


        2. Dale, yes I’ve understood you believe the real seeker criterium is biblically implied explicitly or implicitly. I was only and specifically relating to the PONR, not being so.

          I would say that the Bible is explicit in the requirements for salvation and we know that those requirements are attainable by human beings up to the point of biological death . Except it isn’t. No two denominations are in agreement with regards salvation. Anyone who thinks they’ve got the corner on it just hasn’t heard from the other factions. (No need to explain your take that you believe is right. It’s just one of many).

          I’ve Never heard of the PONR being extended beyond judgement day, that’s for sure. Maybe initially, as you come face to face with the divine after death and do a quick 180’ on views, but that’s it. Doesn’t seem like ‘judgement day’ if you can go a second round and ignore judgement. I tend not to think of ‘time’ in the afterlife. Before or after don’t have meaning in a timeless dimension.

          I’m not dogmatic and I will happily follow the Bible Hmm,ok , but In the previous sentence you admit it’s not very clear in the bible so it’s pretty obvious from seeing Christian thought on this, y’all over the shop with theories. And even if one is right, it’s totally unprovable or testable.

          I think it suspicious in the extreme that many of those seeking do not find (look around you) and I agree with the point made on the podcast that ’seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open’ implies a reasonable time frame. It’s certainly not unreasonable to expect to find an answer at some point and not go beyond what I’ve decided to name ‘The point of utter discouragement and fed-up-ness’. This is not factored into your theory and it needs to be. No one sets out looking for Truth thinking in all likeliness this will take me right up to the point of death and probably beyond. No one. They are therefore warranted in getting fed up and giving up.

          These criteria and theories are just elaborate excuses for god not showing up. If people have had a reasonable stab at it, then that should be enough. I would be uncomfortable as a believer (and I was) granting that god keeps people waiting until the last minute, or to Point beyond death. And that he let’s perfectly believing people lose faith for no reason. That seems directly oppose to the max soul saving aim he purportedly has.

          Keep believers believing -Literally the easiest job in the world
          Make yourself discoverable to those looking in a reasonable time frame. Pretty simple as far as I’m concerned.

          No need for complicated theories about doors locked from the inside after some time suffering in hell which is undefined in an afterlife, no one has come back to tell us about.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Sarah: “I’ve Never heard of the PONR being extended beyond judgement day, that’s for sure. Maybe initially, as you come face to face with the divine after death and do a quick 180’ on views, but that’s it. Doesn’t seem like ‘judgement day’ if you can go a second round and ignore judgement.”

            Hi Sarah,
            Some Christians hold to a view of universal reconciliation – but whether that is before or after judgement day is beyond me. I think most Christian denominations reject this view – but it has been around since the early Church.


            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s beyond them all, Brian. They’re pulling theories out of their backsides.
              I wish universalism had won out. Much less tribalistic and divisive.

              Liked by 1 person

          2. Sarah, again great I’m happy to abandon the post-Judgement Day Point of No Return, but I mention as a possible option only, I think you raise some good points about why Judgement Day would be a better candidate and/or even the Hebrews 9:27 thing makes a good case for biological death being that place as it almost makes it sound like Judgement comes right after death and thus biological death is the end of the line- so I’m good for all of those options as being the right one, but as Brian says below there are other views and I’m trying to not to be dogmatic in assigning when the PONR is (why I leave it unspecified) so as to be acceptable to as many Christians as possible in answering the skeptic’s challenge as to God failure to reveal Himself to them proves He is not real or true- my real seeker notion serves as a defeater against this skeptical claim- it says perhaps they fail to fulfill 1 or more of their responsibilities (the three human criteria- open, seek and obey thing) and/or God’s has providential reasons to delay revealing Himself to you until the appropriate time and so long as that is before the Point of No Return than its not an issue as to whether God reveals Himself 1 month from now, or 1 year or 20 years from now, our job is to remain humble real seekers until that time. But yeah, when the Bible isn’t clear on an issue that means it’s not important for us to know, there are many many things that God knows that He hasn’t revealed to us, human beings don’t need to know all the details of the afterlife, what the Bible tells us is sufficient to know that there are two options and if we want the good option with God than we had best be real seekers for the rest of our life unless and until we have 100% knowledge (warranted true beliefs) that something is true or false, only then does one close their mind to the various possibilities completely (e.g. I’m closed-minded to the possibility that 1+1 =3- I have 100% knowledge that this is not the case and no need for me to real seek in this case, so unless you can say the same in regard to God and Christianity then you had best press on with the real seeking as best you can until you croak, the consequences of not doing so are not worth taking the chance of thinking you’ve already done enough and spent a “reasonable time” searching already).

            The verse about knocking at the door is an interesting argument, I honestly don’t see any indication of time frames in the analogy of knocking at a door- in the first place- this is a passage given to already believing true Christians and so it doesn’t apply to non-believers. That said some of you will say you were true Christians at the time and so it is only says the door will be opened, it doesn’t say it will be opened right away to those who knock so I fear you may be reading something into the text there that isn’t there. Again, we know from the Bible via Paul’s example that the author of the Gospel’s was well aware of the fact that God was Sovereign and did not reveal everything to everybody right away and that humble patience is required- we see Paul learn these lessons himself in his letters about the end of the world and how he and Peter respond to those who scoff about where is the 2nd coming of Jesus as all things continue as before. The biblical definition of “reasonable time” would be the point of no return to me as it is our job to trust in God’s providence and wise judgement- this is literally the main message we get in the book of Job that the Gospel writer would be well aware of as he wrote this passage.

            Again your assumption that we lose our faith for no reason isn’t true, I lost my faith for good reason, look at me now a strong and knowledgeable Christian apologist with a Podcast and blog and book in the works, etc.- seems like very good reason to me as had I not lost my faith and decided to be a real seeker of God’s truth at that precise moment in my life, I probably would have continued on as before and less souls would have been saved as a result and/or perhaps even I myself may have stayed for 10 years in the church like you guys did faking it or trying to hang on to as long as I could until I burned out and I lost my faith resulting in my being damned as well. For me, I follow the truth, as soon as it was clear to me that I didn’t believe this anymore, I left with no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it- I refuse to fake it but that was the point, I didn’t just give up, I pressed on and remained committed to seeking the truth even if it took the rest of life and God in His infinite wisdom knew that 10 years later would be the right time for me.


  7. Here is a quick search update:

    Online church is a complete bust. It is possible to consume so much more of it so much faster. I have already consumed a month of Sundays. It just makes me mad. The emotional manipulation of what passes for worship makes me sick. I know how it works because I have been the worship leader. I have written and produced the music that makes people vulnerable. There is no wizard behind that particular curtain. I know where the strings are and how they are being pulled. No thanks.

    The sermons are frustrating as there is nothing I can do to interact or follow up. All I can do is listen to a person say things that I find either questionable or ridiculous. They are looking for people in an emotionally vulnerable state, or people who can be pushed into an emotionally vulnerable state. That is not me. And I see no god in what they are doing and hear no god in what they are saying.

    One of the first services I watched was a baptism service. It was really well produced. But I know how those things end. People get dunked into the water believing they have encountered god in some tangible way. But they will have forgotten that feeling and will have fallen away before 7 days passes. It is not god they encounter in the water, but an endorphin rush.

    I have also been doing more reading on Christian Forums, especially the sections devoted to answering seeker questions. While I haven’t posed any of my own, I have been going over the ones others have presented. The answers are enough to make an atheist out of a believer. They just look like people making stuff up. They are contradictory. And many make no connection with any bible I have read.

    Then, there are the dealbreakers that I just can’t seem to get past. I was going to do an entire video series on single-issue dealbreakers and only got around to doing one. It was about the cult-like fixation on blood. I will offer a series of posts, starting with the next one, on some of my other dealbreakers that might be barriers for me finding god, at least, the Christian god.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Let me help you here,David. You’re doing it all wrong. You’re no doubt going to the wrong type of church on this online quest of yours. You need Song of Praise produced by the BBC. This is a British institution that has been on TV for decades on a Sunday and before (or after Antiques road show which is too a UK tradition. Oh yes, we know how to have a good time here). It’s filmed in real Church of England churches with proper vicars. Go to the anglicans, they will be much better and give you the right steer.


  8. What the Hell

    I can’t love a god that creates a torture chamber for his enemies. That does not mean that such a god isn’t real. Even so, I can’t say that I look forward to discovering such a god. In all fairness many Christians also have the same problem. They were able to solve it in a way unavailable to me. Those Christians have learned to read the Bible in a way that I cannot. What they have done is read the traditional concept of hell out of the Bible, and a more tolerable form of hell into it.

    The eternal conscious torture chamber version of hell is the only one that makes sense of the literature to me. I find it inconceivable that the hell writers had any other view in mind. I have studied and considered all views of hell I encounter. Except for the traditional view, they all feel like updated versions that allow the Christian to sleep better at night. But I am not interested in what makes me sleep better at night. I only care about what I am convinced is authentic to the literature of the Bible.

    The other problem is that I find all other views to be immoral as well. There is no good version of hell that makes god seem righteous. Here are some of the other views:


    There are two versions of annihilationism: One is that when we die, we stay dead. There is no post-death drama. We simply miss out on the good life that awaits the righteous. I don’t really consider this any form of hell. It is just the death that awaits us all. The second form is rather more sinister. It is where we are risen and killed again. Some believe the killing will be immediate. We will only be raised long enough for got to say “I told you so!” Others believe we will be raised then tortured to death. The type and amount of torture will depend on how bad we were.

    I find this kind of god to be petty and vindictive. He will go to any lengths to prove to you that he was right and that you made a big mistake not trusting him. You are already dead, and could stay dead for all eternity. But that is not enough for this god. You need to die with the emotional anguish of knowing how wrong you were, and exactly what you are missing. So he has to resurrect you and kill you again. There is no way you can present this god to me such that I would want to follow him.


    In this version of hell, we are not killed a second time or actively tortured. We are simply locked away from god and his benefits for all eternity. This is meant to be a fate worse than death. So again, I hardly see the point of it. If it is worse than death, then why not just allow our natural death to be the end? That also effectively quarantines us. Does it not?

    Again, there is something vindictive about a god who goes through the trouble of raising us from the dead just to hand out a punishment from which we can’t escape and are tormented for past crimes we can do nothing about. It is punishment and not rehabilitation. Punishment without rehabilitation is just revenge. I don’t believe in it in this life or the next. If we can be rehabilitated in the afterlife, why not rehabilitate each person before they die in this one? Calling it quarantine still does not make it any less torture.

    Jesus Hell

    The only hell that matters to me is the one with which Jesus threatens us. Here it is in one verse:

    “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

    In this short passage we learn that hell is a real place rather than a state. It is fiery torment. And it was prepared. It isn’t just something we create. We also learn that it was prepared for the devil and his angels. So any view of hell has to make sense for the devil and his angels. I will also note that hell is eternal. That makes sense for the devil. The kind of liberal hell championed by people like Lewis makes no sense for the devil and his angels. That place prepared for them is the same hell all but the saved will be tossed into.

    This is the hell championed by Jesus. This is the only one he spoke of. And I have no reason to buy into any other kind. Again, I am not interested in sleeping well at night or exonerating god. Furthermore, I cannot relate to Christians who suggest that a torture chamber model is inconsistent with the loving god of the Bible. You have to remember that I have read the Bible. And I find absolutely nothing inconsistent or out of character with the god of the Bible. That seems like exactly the kind of thing he would do.

    Conclusion: No good hell

    At the end of the day, there is no good version of hell. There is not hell that make god seem okay to me. And the one I actually believe is promoted by the Bible makes god the kind of villain that makes me hope he isn’t real.

    The last thing I will note about hell is that whatever it is, the Bible insists that the majority of people who ever lived will occupy it. This god looked at all of the possible earths and chose to manifest this one where most people will be nothing more than kindling for his hell. I simply cannot understand why a god would create a person who he knew would end up suffering with the demons. He had the option not to make anyone who would end up in hell. Yet he chose to create a world where most people would end up in torment of some kind.

    I can’t get past that. I’m out! And that is far from the only dealbreaker for me. Does that mean I cannot ever discover this god? Let me know.

    David Johnson

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pretty much all of Christian theology on hell and its nasty implications and/or contradictions in one post. Nailed it!!


    2. Hey David,

      This is interesting, do you mind if I ask are you open to the possibility that Hell might be good in at least some form or would you say you have 100% “knowledge” of Hell being immoral and thus you would not obey or submit to such a God. I only ask because if you say that Hell is just a dealbreaker than I submit the task of seeking God this month is over as God has no obligation to reveal His truth to someone who refuses to obey that truth once discovered.

      This isn’t saying you are not being sincere as seeing that you are reading the Shroud thing I think you are such now, but I’m just saying that the search itself may be invalid if no matter what you will not submit or obey or follow that truth once discovered so long as God’s truth includes a notion of Hell in it.


      1. This sounds a lot like the Republican Senators in the impeachment trial. Why call witnesses and submit documents for review when we’re going to acquit the President anyway. It’s a fallacious conflation of fact finding and value judgement.

        If there is a god I want to know about it. Saying I can only know about it if I preemptively agree to serve his every whim and notion is cowardly and denies me “free will”. Which I thought was a big deal to Christians, no?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hey Brian,

          I guess in a way the comparison has some validity if the Senate Republicans are the analogy for God here. Yes, I think that is right except that I would say God has no choice but to require these conditions whereas the Republicans can freely choose; the three criteria I give for the human’s responsibility are pre-conditions for God’s ability to save us and for us to have character that is “fit for salvation”.

          So David quoted verses in the Bible that say without God, no one seeks Him, He is required for us to not be spiritually blind or deaf- otherwise you can do everything you want but none of us would ever find or even seek God in the first place (John 6:44 for example). So, if you remember David onve used an analogy for ym view of the restorative work of the H.S. goes around with a monkey wrench to fix our sin-contaminated faculties to the point where we can see the truth of God. However, I don’t think the H.S. is able to fix everyone equally but is instead limited to what degree he can fix certain people based on their degree of receptiveness to God’s truth and His Spirit- right not everyone is in damaged by the sin disease to the same degrees. So pretend I’ve got my nuts out of joint, but I’m a real seeker with no rust, the H.S. can then come in after the Atonement and fully turn my nuts to the proper position where I’m free to choose to place my faith in Jesus or not.

          But if someone has rusty nuts that are askew to varying degrees, then the H.S. can only use the monkey wrench to fix us so far as we will allow- if one is totally rusted than the H.S. just can ‘t fix us at all as we are not receptive to Him.

          Does that make more sense at all?


          1. This does not clear anything up. It doubles down on the problem. If we are all broken equally, we should all be fixed equally. But you say we are not all broken equally. That is inherently unfair.

            Further, the Holy Spirit is a bad mechanic. He is supposed to give us a spark to seek god. But now you say that some of us are too broken to receive it. He can’t give us the spark because he doesn’t have any industrial strength rust remover standing by. You have actually succeeded in making god sound worse than before.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hey David,

              Yeah I’ve always said this, not all of us broken to the same degree and it is via our own sinful choice- some of us only breathe a little of the toxic faculty destroying fumes while others take massive waffs of it many times so to speak.


              1. Also, I would probably have to fix what I said in that I’m not sure that any human being in this life is totally “rusted” so I said that wrong- but still you get the point some have more freely chosen rust than others and it would be wrong for the H.S. to apply industrial strength rust remover as that violates our freewill and is the equivalent of Calvinism whereby God forces me to put my faith in him (i.e. have my nuts unrsuted and in the proper tightened position)- on Calvinism, yes I can agree it makes no sense as to why God would use the rust-remover on some but not all.


    3. A teenage girl is kidnapped by a brutal sadist who keeps her locked in his shed for years.
      He tortures and torments her for years.

      She begs and begs God for mercy, to make the tormentor stop, to help her out of this. But the torture continues day in and day out. She can no longer keep banging her head against that locked door.
      Everything she knows about what it is to love another person, everything she knows about what “Good, Loving Parents” would do for their children, tells her that anyone who truly cared about her would do anything he could to stop her torment and save her. The cognitive dissonance, the mental pain, is too much. She simply can’t force herself to believe there is really a God who cares for her, watching her go through this, ignoring her please for mercy.

      Only by the intervention of humans is the sadist finally caught and put in prison. The girl is free, but forever scarred mentally.

      In prison the sadist before dying converts to Christianity and accepts Jesus as his savior.

      The girl dies a non-believer.

      God whisks the sadist in to a life of eternal bliss with Him.
      God bars the girl from heaven leaving her to eternal torment (whatever version you want).

      And Christians want to tell non-believers Christianity is needed to bring justice and morality to the world.

      The girl suffers because God would not help, and is further punished forever because the BEST part of her – her sense of morality, of decency, her understanding of love and benevolence, all the mores that would make her moral in this world – were hopelessly calibrated to the belief that a Good God would behave in the ways she understood the Best People She Knew would act if they could.

      Scenarios like this – scenes of horrendous suffering and injustice – happen every day under the purported watch of this God. And those of us who, like the girl in the above story, can not square this with the best, most moral instincts we feel we can access, and which serve us day in and day out, will be going to hell for it.

      It is truly hard to think up a more insidious, malevolent world view, than the one much of Christianity has endorsed, either explicitly or implicitly.

      And Christians like Dale will only look at the above as evidence of a heart-hardened sinner “closing his heart/mind to God,” thus deserving whatever form of torment God dishes out to us in the afterlife

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I want to take this in two parts:

    First, what if there was a good hell as opposed to an awful hell? Such a concept to me is oxymoronic. Hell has come to mean something unspeakably bad. And Jesus did not speak of it in a way that invites that speculation. Did god prepare a place for the devil that wasn’t so bad? It simply isn’t possible. If it isn’t so bad, it isn’t hell.

    That said, pretend Jesus was misquoted when talking about hell and what he really meant was a place much like earth where we live forever without any interference from any cosmic bully, good or bad. Great! I’m on board with that. Place my humanity in an incorruptible body in an incorruptible earth with only the better angels of humans to determine our fate, I’m all in! But no one really believes that is what is on offer.

    However, I don’t see why it isn’t. God could allow those of us who don’t want to live with him a way to live out our eternities without misery. I don’t believe that the only alternative to life with god is torment. God could still leave us with the spark of good we have now and just leave us alone. But the god of the Bible doesn’t want those who reject him to be happy by other means. He wants them to know what we’re missing and suffer for the knowing.

    Second, I reject the notion that not wanting to follow god is a good reason for him to stay hidden. It costs god absolutely nothing at all to make himself known to everyone. When Christians talk like this, it seems like they are trying their best to keep god from losing in whatever game they think is being played. They are in the mode of explaining why a search for god will fail. It always comes back to something being wrong with the search and not the god.

    I should get a chance to know all that can be known about god before deciding if I will follow him. What I know of him now makes me not want to follow him. But maybe I would change my mind after encountering him. Perhaps my current knowledge of him is false. Why would he hide from me now and cement my false notion of him? That would only apply if my impressions of him were correct.

    I had one impression of Marvin before I had a more substantive encounter with him. Now, I support him. That would not have happened had Marvin not made himself available and revealed himself to me. Christians are so convinced that encountering god would not change their mind that they have invented the story that god will only come out from hiding for those who he has predetermined will accept him. I simply don’t buy it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. David,

      I think your reaction is a little bit much here, as you saying you don’t buy my intentions implies I’m being dishonest or insincere so please apply your own standards fairly to me.

      That said, no I’m not trying to get God off the hook here, but just trying to get you to see that your test might be invalid given certain conditions and thus you would have to rethink this. So here a few options;

      1. You van still seek out God and if Hell is not true or an error in the Bible, than He may still reveal Himself to you or have an obligation to before the point of no return.

      However, I believe Hell is real part of the truth of Christianity and if that is the case, then in order for God to have an obligation to reveal the truth to you, you need to be open to it and willing to submit to that truth upon discovery. This is why I was asking is it even possible for Hell to be true and yet you would still be willing to submit, worship and follow this God. So for example, on my end, I’m 95% certain that if a Torture chamber model of Hell is true, this makes God immoral, but I’m willing to submit to that God based on the 5% possibility that it may be moral despite my mistaken notions otherwise. If there is literally a 0% chance that any version of Hell is true let alone one of them in your mind then, the Bible tells us that you can fold up shop now as He is not obligated to reveal anything to you as he knows you are like the Pharisees who won’t follow him no matter what. So that is all I’m saying if there are versions of the Christian God you are closed to and one of those versions happens to be the true version, than in being completely unwilling to follow that truth means that God probably will not reveal the truth to you.


      1. Not trying to accuse you of dishonesty. I am saying that Christians have a need to maintain the unfalsifiability of their god. So it feels a bit like a game of hide the dragon. He’s under the bed. He’s invisible. He can defeat invisibility awareness glasses. He’s faster than light so he is always where you are not looking. There is always a reason you can’t find the dragon that is so plainly there.

        In this version of find the god, the search is disqualified because I might not choose to follow him if I were given an informed choice to make. And I can’t know without meeting this god. You can always come back with the fact that he knows what I would do even if I don’t. So he is still justified in thwarting my search. This is a game I can never win. I don’t want to play. You are saying I have to swear allegiance to this god before I can confirm he is there. It is a good thing I am not conducting this search based on your opinion of it.

        As for rejecting god prior to meeting him, I have rejected gods that are awful. So I can turn your reasoning around and say that if I don’t find this god of yours, that is proof that I was right about him and that he is awful. Fortunately, that is not the game I am playing. I want to know if there is a god, any god, any religion, any worldview good or bad. I am not promising to follow whatever god I discover. The god I discover may not be connected to any religion at all. This has nothing to do with a survey of world religions. That is your presupposition about god, not mine. My search is rather more open than that.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hey David,

          OK I get how I’m coming across to you, but let me just say this, in the first place yes you are right that there are things that go beyond just the world’s religions- that said they are the best potential resource out there to start with given they claim to provide humans with special knowledge of some kind from a divinely inspired and/or enlightened source- at the very least they should be one of your main avenues of searching.

          Let me maybe say it this way, in Islam it is part of their requirements that you must read the Quran in Arabic or else you can’t judge errors in the Quran or even have an understanding of it at all. You can point out errors or inconsistencies in the English translations in the Quran all day long, but they will just say did you read it in Arabic, if not then shut up skeptic (so to speak).

          Now, this demand of the Muslims has many issues with it; i) it is an “unreasonable” demand and assuming one can prove that Allah must prove Himself to “reasonable persons” using “reasonable means” than this would mean the Islamic standard itself is wrong, or ii) you can prove that there is no such standard that is part of Islam proper- no where in the Quran does it say one must read it in Arabic to understand it, that is later tradition and not all Muslims accept the later traditions as authoritative- thus unless a Muslim proves to you this standard comes from the Quran and/or an inspired/authoritative source than it not binding, and finally iii) this standard is provably false as all secular scholars agree that one can more or less get what the Arabic text says by reading the English translations even if there are some minor translation issues- same deal with the Greek in the NT vs. English Bibles. I can prove the Islamic standard of requiring you to read the Quran in Arabic is not a correct standard to impose before one is able to adjudicate if Islam is true or not using evidence and reason. However, your search is trying to be done a priori as much as possible and thus I would say that you ought to study the truth of the religion under their rules of proper falsification unless and until you can prove that their rules are “unreasonable” and/or false in some way as I have done myself in the above three arguments.

          Likewise when it comes to your willingness or unwillingness to follow the Christian God (assuming Hell is a true doctrine), than you must likewise play by our rules if the test is to be valid vs. invalid. The God of the Bible says that God doesn’t reveal His truth to the hard of heart who stubbornly refuse to obey or follow Him and try to judge Him or His ways. Now, in the same way with Islam, if you can prove that this standard is somehow “unreasonable”(which its not) or false in some way either in the sense the Bible doesn’t prescribe this and/or that the standard is otherwise false in some way, then you must oblige us and play by the rules of the Christian God in terms of the requirements He sets up as conditions for His revealing the truth to us.

          I hope that may help clarify what I’m saying there


      2. Dale,

        “That said, no I’m not trying to get God off the hook here, “

        Yes you are, blatantly so. Like every Christian. In fact, pretty much like everyone involved in a Make-Believe system, you are all using the same moves.

        Whether the game of make-believe is religion, or psychics, or ghosts, or talking to spirits, or magic healing…or whatever, the salient feature of every make-believe system that they are vulnerable to skepticism.

        You can never, ever demonstrate something that is make-believe in your own head. And when the “existence” of something depends solely on someone’s ability to believe it, credulity – usually cast as “openness” – become a necessary virtue. But the incredulous skepticism may as well hold a super power; the super power to effortlessly thwart ANY power or demonstration of the religion or made-up belief in question. You know the Most Powerful Ghost? Any skeptic here merely by showing up can ensure, with our skeptical force fields, that this ghost will not manifest with anything beyond the power of someone else’s imagination.

        You know the Most Powerful Being Imaginable? The Creator? On my worst day I’m more powerful. I can show up anywhere, and God will be too scared to show up there.

        I can lift a can of coke and hold it in the air easily. I could ask God demonstrate even THAT level of manifest power. Yet 10 million believers could beg God in unison to show up, to “please God, please, lift that can, make it levitate, show this hubristic skeptic what’s what!” And God won’t show up. We know it, you know it.

        We have all benefited from the most powerful method of inquiry ever devised – science – which is a system based on skeptical demands for hard evidence. We’ve built the most reliable understanding we’ve ever heard of reality this way.

        Yet talk of All Powerful Supernatural Agents able to do anything, and ALL the skeptic ever gets is excuses for God not showing up.

        This is the game you HAVE to play if you are stuck in a system of playing Make Believe with yourself, and your fellow religious believes. You simply have no other choice but to change the rules, lower the bar, substitute for credulity phrases like “Real Seeker” and “being truly open,” and making excuses for why God just won’t show Himself unless you believe the right way.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Vaal,

          Or it could actually be that these alternative scenarios are true and need to be considered and not mindlessly dismissed by skeptics.

          The point is we have certain facts about our world and there are various equally possible explanations for those same facts, unless and until someone has a way of privileging one explanation over the others and/or some explanations over others than you have no epistemic right to make any claims that is the truth of it Vaal and no matter how many ad hominems you or your kind use against me and Christians that fact won’t change.

          I mean honestly, I think you are just so desperate to blame God no matter what happens that you don’t even think before you rant. What are you objecting to here Vaal, you honestly think that the Skeptics can claim to have knowledge that the Christian God is their slave and should appear whenever and however they demand????? Honestly, I’ve heard what you have on the prior prob of miracles- an interesting argument but ultimately a failure, your objection to the Molinistix defeater and now what is it you object to here exactly??? How is it ridiculous to say that the God of the Bible’s main goal is to save as many people as possible and the earliest point of no return time is at biological death and thus God only need reveal Himself prior to that point. This is from the Bible itself, so yeah I will turn this around and just say what I think is true, you as a skeptic don’t want to believe in God and thus you concoct unreasonable and arbitrary tests designed for Him to fail so you can dismiss Him.

          Are you objecting to the Point of no Return or my Real Seeker notion in general- does the human have no responsibility in your view at all,- if you can sum up what your prob is now in a paragraph then I can respond.


          1. Dale,

            Most of the skeptics here have spent decades in considering the case for religion, especially the case made by Christians, including being in detailed debate with your own version. So the claim I or anyone has “mindlessly dismissed” Christianity in general or your claims in particular is the usual strawman. “That dog don’t hunt” as they say 🙂

            As David had been explaining and I’ve reiterated: Christians have to spend a lot of effort blatantly keeping God unfalsifiable, coming up with excuses for the lack of evidence that could EASILY be there if this Being existed.

            The point is you are stuck making just the type of moves left to you, in this game of make-believe, as I or anyone else (or other religions/cults etc) are left to find excuses when faced with skeptics.

            If I claimed to have a friend who had amazing magic powers – levitating objects, walking through walls etc – and you rightly asked to see these demonstrations, if my claim is bullsh*t what type of moves will I be pushed toward in order to excuse the fact this friend won’t show up (because he is imaginary). I’ll have to say things like “Look, my Magic Friend isn’t just some genie. Demanding he just show up whenever you want to do tricks for you is treating him as a slave, so you shouldn’t expect him to just show up and do your bidding!”

            Sound familiar?

            Your B.S. meter would be pegging off the charts, for exactly the same reason ours pegs off the charts whenever you go in to excuses for God’s hiddenness, your molinistic defeaters and all the other moves necessary to save your God belief from being falsified.

            This type of “extraordinary claims that come with excuses for why you don’t get extraordinary demonstrations for the claim” are paradigmatic of bullsh*t, delusion and imagination. Your belief system helplessly shares these traits, and ends up using the same moves as all other man-made beliefs about the supernatural….and it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence 😉

            How is it ridiculous to say that the God of the Bible’s main goal is to save as many people as possible and the earliest point of no return time is at biological death and thus God only need reveal Himself prior to that point.

            It’s only been explained to you a million times by now (<—only slight hyperbole there).

            Again: for one thing, it's clear God is NOT revealing Himself to many people. A huge proportion of humanity seem to die as non-Christians. Further, we have gone through the nature of the "evidence" your God seems to have left and it is so poor, so tangled with the same characteristics every other man-made religion and delusion shares, that many notice there is little reason to pursue it as a truth claim and just get on with their lives. Not to mention, most non-Christians have all sorts of good reasons why they don't believe (poorer or no access to Christian claims or good Christian proselytizers, epistemic reasons to see Christianity as an unpromising route to waste their limited time on, etc).

            Further, God's hiddenness itself has been a cause of much suffering and evil in the world. If the bible were His form of special revelation to the rest of the world, He has left poor evidence for "revelation" and an absolute mess in his wake. He has set up a situation that necessarily results in greatly limiting those who would ever even know the details of this revelation, much less be in a position to accept it as true. If this revelation were important in of itself – as many Christians want to say, as it contains information about our possible eternal fate, how to avoid it, and also allows people to enter in to a living relationship with Jesus – this method of "revelation" is insane. Not to mention since God never shows up to clear up the confusion over his revelation, we get Christianity getting ever less cohesive and splintering in to competing sects over time. We have some sects killing one another over these interpretations. Killing people as witches. Enslaving people believing the bible gives warrant. It goes on and on. This claim that "God will make sure to show up before you are dead" is not only flies in face of much evidence to the contrary, it leaves all these problems blaring on the table.

            Dale, all the moves you and your fellow Christians make to "make sense" of your religious beliefs, the blatant special pleading and blind-folding you allow yourself when doing so, just don't fly with people who are not inside your religious bubble, for good reasons.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. Vaal,

              Again: for one thing, it’s clear God is NOT revealing Himself to many people. A huge proportion of humanity seem to die as non-Christians.

              A million yesses. I wrote this below to Dale last week to illustrate the point. It didn’t get nearly as many likes as it should have 😉 So I’m posting it again, but it puts names to numbers.

              Dear Dale,
              My name is Sanjib Patel, I live in a remote village in India. Christian missionaries have been once and said I could meet their god. One was ok, the others were really horrible people, I wasn’t impressed with them. Very materialistic. It pretty much put me of their god. However, Apparently he came down to earth and rose again. I find that hard to believe. What evidence have you? I have seen Ganesh drinking milk at my temple and that was amazing. I got goosebumps and felt warm inside. But even then I’m not sure Ganesh should be replaced. How do I connect with your god?
              May Ganesh bless you

              Narrator Sanjib has no access to the internet. He is not a privileged western guy living in the 21st century. He can’t read or write. He also doesn’t have much time to study as he works 3 jobs to gain 1$ a day to live on which he hopes might save his eldest daughter being sold into prostitution. Life is hard, rough and short

              DALE. ok no shroud, no Licona books, no WLC. It’s got to be answer 4; inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

              SANJIB ‘That‘s along the lines of what the missionaries said. I gave that a shot, but nothing happened,so I’ve given up. I am now dying of dysentery. ‘

              Sometime later sanjib’s family has confirmed his demise.
              There was no deathbed conversion.
              He died still asking the Christian god to help.
              He was begging for his life at this point, so it was pretty sincere.

              Was this poor fool a real seeker? Where was god? why didn’t he turn up?
              Answer; to keep the whole making sense: he did it on the other side of the curtain. 🤦🏽‍♀️


              Dear Dale,

              My name Jacob Ben David. I am a Jew stuck in a concentration camp, it’s 1943. I have a reasonable understanding of my culture heritage/faith, though I wasn’t especially practising. Many of us are crying out to Yahweh in here. We are terrified, alone, starving and ill. We are dying in great numbers. Someone said god works it all out molonistically speaking. I’m afraid, after seeing my wife brutally raped and my daughter sodomised by guards and myself having to sleep among rotting cadavers, I have lost all hope in that notion. In fact, I have lost all hope, I long for death. Why would god make such a world? It makes no sense. Yahweh doesn’t exist, I have no choice to conclude otherwise.

              A messianic Jew said I should try his god, Jesus. It seems it’s my tradition plus+. Apparently, it’s foretold in our scriptures, but everything I have read so far in our book isn’t viewed like that. I have dismissed it therefore as bunk. I haven’t the stomach to plead anymore to a new god, I just await death.


              Narrator Jacob, died aged 25 pleading to both the gods briefly One last time. He reported no comfort or the inner witness of anything nor a proper basic belief happening.

              Was this poor fool a real seeker? Where was god? why didn’t he turn up? Why couldn’t he have a relationship with this man through this experience? A few in the camps said they did but it wasn’t possible for this to be experienced by all.
              Answer; to keep the whole making sense: he did it on the other side of the curtain. 🤦🏽‍♀️

              Dear Dale,

              My name is Sarah Sarkiwench. I am of average intelligence. When I was born, the sun was in the sky at the top bit, so I am naturally a hilarious type and make a lady called Teddi laugh a lot.
              I tried your god with all the upfront loading of faith and indoctrination to give me a head’s start. I have done some studying on it. I was let down by what was promised and had to admit I no longer bought it. I tried long and hard. I felt a million times better when I stopped and lots of things made more sense.

              A chap called Gale Dover talked to us a lot about his view. he is very very bright. Somehow, his theories seem to look a bit ‘odd’ to me, something is a bit off. I’m not that bright so can’t always know why. It’s more intuition. Gale has no time for intuition, it is not logical. However, It all strikes me as odd as it causes his moral compass to get lost, it involves a lot of studying of things I’m not that interested in. You can almost never get a pass mark. His god is bit mean and I see a lot of special pleading and whitewashing. Sometimes killing people is ok and once he tried to make me believe in a talking donkey. It also rests on a key idea of real seekers. But I know Jacob and Sanjib, so I know it’s not really a true thing, but we’re not allowed to question it or he gets a bit mad at you.

              Why didn’t your god reveal himself to me? What should I do now? I don’t believe in the following and can’t make myself change view; a notion of hell, a cosmic spiritual battle, molinistic dodas, real seeker. I find the point of no return unlikely, though may be somewhere north of London. Mostly it seems to be after death thing where god goes ‘tada!’ Maybe we’ll all have a good laugh about it then, I don’t know. Other Christians tell me otherwise. Other ones, tell them otherwise too. It never ends. No one has any idea but they are good at Pretending to know and getting along despite their differences for the sake of the kingdom. Except when they don’t and have wars over it.

              I’ve given up. It was like hockey. I gave it a go, but I got a bit sick of being whacked in the legs. It wasn’t for me.
              Do I have to pick a side? I’m happy enjoy the experience of life and i mostly doesn’t know. Is that not ok?


              This is a billion people’s story. Meeting with this god seems to happen behind closed crematorium doors. Which is Infalsifiable, unlikely, and worse, if true, shows your god as shy and not at all wanting us to discover him on earth. So he has lied about wanting a relationship plain and simple.

              Liked by 3 people

    2. David: “Christians are so convinced that encountering god would not change their mind that they have invented the story that god will only come out from hiding for those who he has predetermined will accept him.”

      Hi David,
      As I recall there are Biblical stories of Jesus encountering demons and the devil and yet they did not accept Jesus. So, it would seem, that He doesn’t limit encounters to only those who will accept Him.


      Liked by 1 person

    3. David,

      I saw your hypocritical and dishonest assessment of me and how I tried to help you below and instead you falsely accuse me of poisoning the well- fair enough if that is how you feel.

      I will do as you request and leave your Boards then- I thank you for your friendship in the past, but I think its best we just part ways at this point, I have no desire to come on S&S anymore since you have no respect for me and all I did and continue to do for you.

      I will inform Marvin that the show with you and him is off, but he has your email and he can decide if he wants to still do the show on S&S with you or not.

      Goodbye and good luck- remember you will be answering for your sins on Judgement Day so for your own sake, make sure you do all you can to try and seek God as it is Him that you will answer to and not me, or Vaal or any of the skeptics on here- only you and God know if you’re doing your best to find Him or not.


      1. Why would you want to poison the well with me and Marvin? That is truly the most hurtful thing I have heard in a long time. We have buried the hatchet and are moving on to productive conversation. But you want to make sure that doesn’t happen because you are upset with me. I implore you not to do that. I am looking forward to talking to Marvin and building on what we started. I beg you not to destroy that.


  10. Dealbreaker: That Any Should Perish

    This one will be short, I think. It is a follow on to my argument against hell. It addresses the question of why god created any people if even one should be lost to the torments of hell. 2 Peter 3:9 puts it this way:

    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    This passage is much more problematic for the Christian than they might realize at first. It is a response to a skeptical argument that I use to this day. All remains as it has ever been. So where is the promised kingdom of god? Why hasn’t he returned to fulfill his promises? Why are we still here?

    Peter’s answer is that time moves differently for god, and that a thousand years is like a day to god. So we can never say he is slow concerning his promises. This argument is spurious at best. But it is not the worst one he offers. He suggests that because god does not want any to perish, he is allowing time for everyone to repent.

    This is just silly. The passage goes on to describe the end where the earth will be destroyed by fire. Clearly, most people are not going to come to repentance. So it makes no sense to extend the time so that everyone will come to repentance. Jesus has already told us that the majority of people will not come to repentance. Further, extending that grace period only works for those who are currently alive. It does nothing for the already dead or the as yet unborn. This is further evidence that the New Testament writers thought Jesus was coming back in their lifetime.

    The passage does not clear up the matter of why any should perish. If god didn’t want any to perish, he could have made it so that none would. Instead, he manifested a world where he knew most would perish. This is not a numbers game for me, though. I would only be satisfied with a world where none perish.

    Am I being unreasonable? I don’t think so. Since god knew exactly who would be saved and who would perish before the big ever banged, he had the choice not to create those people who would not be saved. He simply has no excuse for making people who would spend eternity in torment.

    The Christian might counter that we cannot unravel the tangled skein known as life. We need the bad people to provide the challenge for the good. That explanation is rather sick. This god of yours actually needs the evil. He couldn’t get good souls any way besides blending them with evil souls. Pathetic! But it is still no excuse. He could have made the evil beings as cardboard cutouts who did not get eternal souls. The evil people could have received souls like lower animals. They are here for today and gone when they die. My point is he had options.

    Speaking of options, he could have chosen not to create at all. The universe was perfect before creating humans, except for that little Satan problem of his. Otherwise, all was love and peace. And all non-demon beings were going to spend eternity in the peace of god’s perfection.

    After creation, most of these sentient beings are going to spend an eternity of torment. Some argue that the joy achieved by others will outweigh the suffering of the rest. How do we measure that? How do we come to that conclusion? That is simply another way of saying that god wins no matter what. It doesn’t matter if only one out of a trillion are saved. That must be a good outcome because god would have allowed it otherwise. So to hell with the trillion and glory to god with the one.

    Let’s just deal with the reverse scenario right now to avoid any confusion. It is not about the math for me. It wouldn’t matter if the trillion were saved and the one was lost. It would still be wrong. None existed before the creation. And if god could not create without losing even one to sin, then he should have kept the experiment on the drawing board until all could be saved.

    Don’t bother trying to come up with reasons why I’m wrong because that is not the scenario we have. The scenario we have is that most of the people created by this god will be left to torment. The fact that he chose to go ahead with it anyway makes him no better than Thanos. God snaps his gauntleted fingers and wipes out over half of everyone. The difference is that Thanos was more merciful because he did not require those wiped out to be in torment. God thinks the only way to save the few is to torment the many.

    The fact that any should perish is a sign that the experiment failed. God finds the losses acceptable. Further, he is content to blame us for being lost when he had the option not to make us in the first place. For the lost, it is truly better not to be born. God doesn’t care. I’m out!

    David Johnson

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Dealbreaker: Moral Intuition

    I don’t want to just make this another post about slavery. But I have to say that were slavery my only problem with the god of the Bible, it would be enough. However, this is not just about slavery. I could write up a dealbreaker for any number of god’s moral judgements. Rather than do that, I am going to try to take a higher-level view and explain why my moral intuition and the god of the Bible’s moral intuition are too far apart to be compatible.

    In an attempt to be as conciliatory as possible, I will try to refrain from saying that god’s moral judgement is wrong. I will only say it is incompatible with mine. One of us would have to radically change our moral intuition. I am incapable of making a radical enough change. That could be entirely my fault. But it is my reality in this moment.

    In terms of slavery, I do not believe it is bad for us but good for those people over there, or bad today but good way back then. I believe it is bad for all people, for all time, in all places. There is not point in history and no geography where slavery was a good idea. Had I the power to build a society and command death for those who refused to get onboard, I would abolish slavery with the simple imperative: Thou shalt not own other people as property!

    The god of the Bible was supposedly a society builder with the inclination to order death for those who disobeyed. He could not be bothered with such a simple and clear imperative. And that is where moral intuition comes in. It is not just the consideration of a single ethical judgement. It is an attempt to take multiple judgement and identify on balance, the types of judgements one has and would make. It is about the intuition that powers the individual moral judgements. And we get a good look at god’s moral intuitions.

    A matter of priorities

    It is not just that god refused to abolish slavery. We must also take into account the things that he did abolish. We can see his priorities in the things he put front and center. And we can compare those things to what he left on the back burner.

    At the same time he was failing to abolish slavery, he was actively regulating sex between consenting adults. Notice this passage from Leviticus:

    'If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

    God never says that slave ownership is detestable. He never suggested that death is appropriate for the man who owns another man as he owns a goat. But sexual relations with another man is worthy of death. What made that such a priority for god over slavery?

    We can extrapolate from what we know of the matter that homosexuality presented in a relatively small percentage of the population. The social dynamics of the entire population could hardly have been damaged by a few consenting adults. If so, they could have been exiled as was the case for other crimes. Considering all that needed fixing, I can’t see how homosexuality made the list of priorities.

    God’e ceremonial laws were really important to him. The people who worshipped him and represented him in worship had to be extremely particular. Garments had to be very precise. Toes were cut off. Everything had to be perfect, or death.

    There were lifestyle laws regulating what a person could eat and wear. Stay away from shell fish and don’t wear cloths made from mixed fabrics. That cotton/polly blend could get you killed. God really cared a lot about these things. He cared enough to make prohibitive laws about them. And he didn’t care how horribly those prohibitions ran against the cultural grain. He was building a society to reflect his majesty. And that is all that mattered.

    The sabbath was such a sacred day that gathering wood on that day for any reason could get you killed. I am told by one that the clear instance in the Bible where this happened can be dismissed as a one-off special occasion because god was in a critical moment of society-building. I find it inconceivable that someone picking up sticks could bring the whole thing down while owning other people did not. The priorities of this god are clear. And they suggest his intuition for what is morally important is a bridge too far for me.


    Another way one can gauge the moral intuition of another is by examining their idea of justice. I think with the god of the Bible, we already have a problem based on what we have already observed. He was a big fan of the death penalty. I don’t understand how so many Christians can be against the death penalty on moral grounds when their god clearly thought it was a good idea for so many things. Here is a list (compiled by someone else):



    Attacking one’s parents to cause them bodily harm: Exodus 21:15.

    Cursing one’s parents: Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9.

    Sacrificing your child to Moloch, a pagan god: Leviticus 20:2.

    Willful negligence that results in death

    Sorcery: Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27.

    Being a medium or spiritist: Leviticus 20:27.

    Breaking the Sabbath: Exodus 31:14.

    Sacrificing to idol gods: Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 13.

    Trespassing in God’s holy things and places: Exodus 19:12,13; Numbers 1:51; 3:10,38; 18:7.

    Blaspheming against God: Leviticus 24:10-16, esp. v. 16.

    False Prophecy: Deuteronomy 18:20.

    Contempt for the final decisions of the high court of the land: Deuteronomy 17:8-12.

    Giving false testimony in a capital case

    Sexual sins that were also capital crimes 2

    Adultery: Leviticus 20:10,11; Deuteronomy 22:22.

    Incest (specifically with a daughter in law. For more, see Lev. 18:9-17): Lev. 20:12.

    Marriage to both a mother and her daughter: Leviticus 20:14.

    Rape of a betrothed or marred woman: Deuteronomy 22:23-29.

    Homosexuality: Leviticus 20:13.

    Bestiality: Leviticus 20:15,16.

    Prostitution, if a priest’s daughter: Leviticus 21:9.

    Pretending to be a virgin if you are not: Deuteronomy 22:13-21, esp. v. 21.

    Do you have a personal favorite from that list? I think the last one: pretending to be a virgin, is mine. This does not feel like justice to me. Some of these just leave me scratching my head. Moreover, I am left gobsmacked when Christians defend this list as an example of divine justice.

    God’s intuition for Justice can be seen throughout the Bible. From the beginning, we have a situation where two humans are given a centrally located tree with attractive fruit. They are told they would die if they ate it. They were not told about the destruction of the entire ecosystem. That punishment feels like overkill.

    Pharaoh defies god and god kills all the first born children including babies. Justice? Lot’s wife looks back at the greatest show on earth and is turned into a pillar of salt. Really? David takes a senses and 70,000 citizens are killed. Huh? Some kids make fun of a man with a bald head and god sends bears to kill them. What?

    This is the judicial intuition of a comic book villain. How am I supposed to even take this seriously? I’m trying my best to take it seriously. I can’t do it. This god cannot be described as any version of good with which I can relate. Maybe he is good. But that makes me evil. And I am too evil to bridge that gap without a lobotomy.

    Conclusion: Unfit to judge

    I am told by Christians that I am unfit to judge god. I am in no position to know whether he is good or evil. But if that is the case, I have no reason to believe he is good. That line of thinking may be philosophically sound. But it is not practically useful.

    I have to make judgements about everything everyday. I am not a doctor. But I have to make a judgement about whether or not my doctor is doing me any good, and whether or not I should follow her instructions. The fact that I am not qualified to judge is irrelevant. I have to judge.

    In the same way, I have to judge god. He is but one of many possible gods. Perhaps he is the supreme god. But there is nothing that necessitates the supreme god to be good. I have only my moral intuition to determine whether he is good or evil. That said, I gladly enlist the moral intuitions of my fellow humans. Based on how we tend to think, I have no choice but to conclude that the god of the Bible is evil, or at least, has an incompatible moral intuition.

    I will go a step further and say that he is the one who is unfit to judge me. He thought garden variety adultery was a death penalty offense. And enforcing that offense was more important to his kingdom on earth than prohibiting slavery. He called homosexuality detestable, but slave holders, he called friend.

    No! He is the one who is unfit to judge. I do not submit to his rules or his judgement of my character. He has the might to destroy me. But unless might makes right, I have the right and perhaps responsibility to defy him. I hope he does not turn out to be real. I will continue my search. It is worth the effort to know as many true things as possible. That said, I have no obligation to worship the god I discover. And if I am right about the moral intuition of this god, we are all doomed!

    Now it is important to acknowledge that I could be wrong about this god. Perhaps the Bible is a really bad conveyance of information about him. Perhaps my reading comprehension is too low. These things are possible. But I am left with no other method of detecting the truth about him. The only thing I can think of is for him to manifest to me and clear up my misapprehensions. I welcome that.

    Marvin did that for me. And I am happy to announce that every chance I get. I have been mean to him. And I am ashamed of having behaved so. Integrity demands that I say these things publicly. I will accept even the flimsiest excuse to make peace with a fellow human. And without much provocation I can justify, I loudly call him friend whether or not he feels the same way about me.

    This would not have been possible had he not reached out to me and given me a chance. He is the first mover and took the bigger risk. He should be praised for that. I ask no less of a god. If I have misunderstood him, I did so while doing the best I could and upholding my own moral intuition. But I am prepared to be as wrong about him as I was about Marvin. But god is going to have to be the one to clear the record. Because I can’t.

    If I’m wrong about him, I await his clarification. If I’m right about him, I’m out.

    David Johnson

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David,

      I find it hard to know what the status of your search is- are you open or not here. If you are open to being wrong about God, here is what I would suggest- pick one of the moral issues you raise here and study it hard core- lay out your claim and all the factors or premises you use to make that argument, then study all of the defeaters you can for that argument of yours and see if you can defeat all of those defeaters and prove all the necessary aspects of your argument.

      If you want to make an argument that the death penalties in the OT, if from God, are immoral than maybe see if you can actually prove that is the case rather than asserting this or that is immoral. This will be interesting to see if you can actually bear the burden of proof on things of this nature- for example two necessary factors of your argument here is that the OT death penalties are immoral- obviously by that you mean unethical and by that you roughly mean to say that empirically it does not contribute to the well-being and flourishing of human society- OK great, can you prove that definition of unethical is relevant for adjudicating on the worthiness of following and/or worshiping a God- why should only a “ethical” God be worthy of worship on your part?

      Also, can you prove that the OT death penalties were in fact “unethical” under your definition, seems to me that at the time, those laws actually helped society flourish and thrive just like slavery did, how do you prove that these laws actually harmed those specific societies at the time.

      I think you get it, there are so many factors to consider before you can make a claim to be justified in “being out”, so it may be good for your month of searching to actually connect all the dots and see if you can establish your argument in the light of any and all defeaters you are able to find (doing your best in that regard of course) and establishing each and every premise/factor that is required for you to have a valid and sound argument

      That might be helpful in showing you if you’ve overstepped your bounds in judging a God who orders such things as not being worthy of your worship.


      1. Dale: “If you want to make an argument that the death penalties in the OT, if from God, are immoral than maybe see if you can actually prove that is the case rather than asserting this or that is immoral. This will be interesting to see if you can actually bear the burden of proof on things of this nature- for example two necessary factors of your argument here is that the OT death penalties are immoral- obviously by that you mean unethical and by that you roughly mean to say that empirically it does not contribute to the well-being and flourishing of human society- …”

        Hi Dale,
        Jesus said to love one another. I struggle to see how killing someone is an act of love. (Well, maybe if they are in terrible pain…) Could you give an example or two of how the death penalty is an act of love to the one being killed?

        Struggling to understand,


        1. Jesus said that self sacrifice for one’s friends is the ultimate act of love, and so Jesus death on the cross is a good case in point. Also upholding justice is act of love toward everyone including the offender. Remember the Moral Hierarchy as well.

          What is the goal of punishment in general Brian- there are 4 aims on a Consequentialist understanding- i) Reformation of the criminal- so death could reform the criminal/sinner if post-death conversion is possible, ii) reforming the victims via seeing justice served, iii) Quarantine for protection and future sin prevention and also iv) deterrence of others to sin.

          That said, I was giving David some advice during his search, so it is not for me to prove anything, but for him- the whole point is for him to see if he can find God or not and as this is a stumbling block for him, then he needs to do the work- I’ve already been there and done that on my end and have no issues with this at all. I see all the God-ordained deaths in the OT as the most loving act anyone can do as more souls were saved as a result.


          1. Dale: “Jesus said that self sacrifice for one’s friends is the ultimate act of love, and so Jesus death on the cross is a good case in point. Also upholding justice is act of love toward everyone including the offender. Remember the Moral Hierarchy as well.

            What is the goal of punishment in general Brian- there are 4 aims on a Consequentialist understanding- i) Reformation of the criminal- so death could reform the criminal/sinner if post-death conversion is possible, ii) reforming the victims via seeing justice served, iii) Quarantine for protection and future sin prevention and also iv) deterrence of others to sin.

            That said, I was giving David some advice during his search, so it is not for me to prove anything, but for him- the whole point is for him to see if he can find God or not and as this is a stumbling block for him, then he needs to do the work- I’ve already been there and done that on my end and have no issues with this at all. I see all the God-ordained deaths in the OT as the most loving act anyone can do as more souls were saved as a result.”

            Hi Dale,
            I might be missing some points in your reply – sorry if I’m not getting what you are trying to convey.

            What does self sacrifice for someone as an act of love have to do with the death penalty? I don’t see how the person being killed because of the death penalty is doing a loving self sacrifice. Please explain, if you don’t mind.

            I tend to think of acts of love as acts that are intended to help the person. I’m not seeing how killing a person because of the death penalty is helping the person being killed. Again, maybe a couple of examples might help me.

            Dale, you say that killing a person might reform them if a post-death conversion is possible. But, if a post-death conversion is not possible, then killing an unrepentant person would eliminate the possibility of repentance some time in the future. Many people pray to God that people on death row repent and sometimes, after years, some do. Killing them before they can repent might cause them not to be saved.

            Even the Catholic Church, which has caused the deaths of many, many people, today recognizes that the “death penalty, regardless of the means of execution, ‘entails cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.’ Furthermore, it is to be rejected ‘due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error.'” And that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.” ( )

            Still not seeing how killing someone is an act of love towards the person being killed,


          2. Dale: “i) Reformation of the criminal- so death could reform the criminal/sinner if post-death conversion is possible,”

            Hi Dale,
            One other thought on this – is the reformation/repentance of the criminal more likely if the criminal is killed now vs allowing them to die a natural death in old age?

            Curious as to your thoughts on this,


      2. Dale: “… why should only a “ethical” God be worthy of worship on your part?”

        Hi Dale,
        In the past you shared that the word “worship” basically meant giving proper respect or honor to someone or something. At least that is what I remember – please correct me if I’m wrong.
        What do you think would the proper respect or honor be to an unethical being?


        Liked by 2 people

        1. Brian,

          Yes that is correct, I ascribe proper worth whereby worth is an objective standard of value for example- I’m not sure what your question has to do with what I asked David to do; we weren’t taking about me as a Christian and why Christians don’t worship an “unethical being”, I was asking David to prove/establish why on his view one ought not to worship an “unethical” being defined according to his definition of “unethical” (not conducive to human well-being and flourishing) which is totally different to what the Christian means by “ethics” or “morality”.

          Do you agree that if David wants to claim to know that the God who orders the death penalty is unworthy of worship means he has to prove that via meeting his burden of proof, including establishing those two aspects I laid out as illustrations of the kind of factors needed to make a successful claim. Its an important excercize given that David is in search mode, don’t you agree with that Brian?


          1. Hi Dale,
            I think it is polite to give the proper respect and honor to all. I think that those who act immorally or unethically don’t deserve the same respect and honor of those who act morally and ethically. A challenge is to determine how moral or ethical any specific act is. Would you agree?


            Liked by 1 person

            1. Brian,

              Yes I personally agree with you on this, but one of the tasks of MetaEthics is to define the meaning of terms like moral or ethical and my point to David as the real seeker this month, is that these are issues he should think through on one major issue- what exactly does it mean for something to moral vs. immoral and/or “ethical” vs. “unethical” and then assess the implications of that definition in terms of his moral issue. I suggest that his given definition of “ethical” has certain unwanted implications for him like his possibly having to say that slavery was “ethical” at one time and obviously he does not want to do that- so the thing to do as a seeker is assess why this is the case- has he misevaluated the case study of slavery? Has he got a wrong definition of “ethical” that may need to be modified and/or replaced with something else?, Is there something else at play providing him with moral knowledge that slavery is wrong and what might that something else be grounded in?

              This is just one of the factors involved in David having to establish an argument that Christianity is false because the God of the Bible was immoral in allowing slavery or the death penalty or whatever the issue is. David also needs to do the same for all the other aspects, instead he seems to just assert “I feel slavery is unethical” and the Bible promotes slavery, end of story. Fine, but that is not a proper way to be open minded about the issue, instead I suggest doing the hard work of trying to create an iron-clad argument would be a beneficial excercize for him to see if he can establish an objective rational argument that dots all the t’s and crosses all the i’s- that would be helpful and good for him in his search for God either he will find he was successful in making an argument thereby providing warrant for his disbelief and even causing some Christians to rationally doubt this faith or he will fail and that will prompt him to reconsider his assessments of the morality of the God of the Bible on other issues as well perhaps.

              That’s the point of why I’m saying what I am here- everything has to be questioned and established- nothing can be assumed like the skeptics seem to want to do on this, and I personally feel its why they want to turn things around onto me or the Christian by saying I’m just saying what I am to defend my faith or being dishonest or whatever it is– no I asked these questions myself well before becoming a Christian and I’m not being a Christian now, I’m being “blank slate guy” and asking David to do the work of establishing his claims and pointing out some valid areas of dispute that he’ll need to work out in order to establish his claim- instead the skeptics pretend that I myself hold these views and proceed to attack me based on my simply playing devil’s advocate and raising the issues.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hi Dale,
                I certainly think it would be wise for people to reflect upon what they mean by words such as ethical or moral and how they arrive at their understanding. I also know that there are frequently more than one side to any story and just getting one perspective can sometime leave one without the full story. Too often, in my opinion, the story/issue gets framed as only 2 choices, when there can frequently be more than just the 2 choices.



      3. “I find it hard to know what the status of your search is- are you open or not here. If you are open to being wrong about God, here is what I would suggest- pick one of the moral issues you raise here and study it hard core- lay out your claim and all the factors or premises you use to make that argument, then study all of the defeaters you can for that argument of yours and see if you can defeat all of those defeaters and prove all the necessary aspects of your argument.”

        Have you done this for Scientology? For Hinduism? For Shinto? Jainism? Sikhism? Druze? Sufism? Rastafari?
        Manichaeism? The many Pagan religions? UFO cults? And on and on…?

        Are you open or not to the truth claims of all the alternative religions (and non-spiritual believe systems)?

        You could spend a lifetime “Seeking” the truth for any particular religion, given you will face a community that has no doubt over time conjure layers of “defeaters” and justifications for their beliefs. You’ll never get through it all and the best any of us can do is to “call it as we see it” in terms of where we think our time is best spent in life. And often enough that will mean we make judgements on what does not seem believable to us even IF there is, as there inevitably will be, some phalanx of believers saying “but wait, we have an answer to that one!”


        1. Vaal,

          Yes I have researched other major religions, no I haven’t done all of them and never will- its practically impossible as you say. That said, theoretically I’m open to the truth of all “religions”- yes. So to be a religion you must be “alive” and provide details on the nature of “ultimate reality” and provide humans with knowledge about their “ultimate purpose in the universe and how to achieve it”- so I’m closed to something like Confucianism or Marxism for example, but anything that claims to have special knowledge on those aspects I mention, than theoretically I’m open to.

          I’ve studied Hinduism, Shinto, Jainism, Sikhism, and Sufism (but under the Islam proper religion as its mystical form). I haven’t studied the modern pagan religions in terms of their positive and negative evidences, but as I said I’m open to it myself- do you have a particular positive proof from these religion/s that you think I should look at- as a real seeker I will take this as an opportunity.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “I’ve studied Hinduism, Shinto, Jainism, Sikhism, and Sufism (but under the Islam proper religion as its mystical form). I haven’t studied the modern pagan religions in terms of their positive and negative evidences, but as I said I’m open to it myself- do you have a particular positive proof from these religion/s that you think I should look at- as a real seeker I will take this as an opportunity.”

            But you know as well as I do that your “research” in to those belief systems (forgetting all the others you haven’t researched) will be seen by their adherents as insufficient and superficial. You will be told you rejected them too easily and quickly rejected. They will say they have the answers to your problems with their claims, line ups of people saying “but you didn’t really address THIS argument!” Your dismissal of those systems is just evidence to the adherence you didn’t give them a fair shake.

            And this is what we get from you. Many of us atheists here have been looking in to Christianity, engaging the claims, for decades. David has hosted a podcast! Had to endure lots of your Shroud stuff and found it wanting. But it’s not enough! We still get “you are breezily dismissing Christian beliefs…there’s MORE to study…you aren’t a Real Seeker by turning away from all this evidence!”

            You are in the same position from the standpoint of other faiths you claim to have “researched” as you put us atheists in regard to your religion. You are no more a Real Seeker by their lights as you think we are by yours.


    2. David: I have only my moral intuition to determine whether he is good or evil.

      Well on the bright side, according to Christian mythology, god wrote your morals onto your heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Darren,

        I really do think things are better when we ignore each other on here, but will just throw in that the quote of David is wrong, he can use reason and empirical evidence to determine if something is conducive to human society’s flourishing and well-being of. Again, its obvious that slavery and the use of the death penalty was essential for the flourishing of all ancient civilizations and played a massively helpful role in that regards- thus it must have been “good” or “ethical” back then, according to David’s own definition of what “ethical” means.


        1. Dale: Again, its obvious that slavery and the use of the death penalty was essential for the flourishing of all ancient civilizations and played a massively helpful role in that regards- thus it must have been “good” or “ethical” back then, according to David’s own definition of what “ethical” means.

          If you honestly think this is true, then I suspect you don’t actually understand David’s ideas of what “ethical” means. All you are doing here is creating a strawman without actually trying to understand the argument.

          Perhaps, before declaring what someone’s ideas are, you should ask them first to see if you are actually correct. Making things up about people is not an honest attempt at having a conversation.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey Darren,

            I have asked David before and heard him say his views many times, but I see that David below says that I do misunderstand him so you may be right, I will see what he says, if my argument was a strawman or not.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. I don’t think you understand my view on ethics. Perhaps this is my fault for being unclear. What you are describing is strict and limited utilitarianism. That leads to some of the most unethical acts imaginable. Hitler killing all those Jews no doubt had a limited sort of utilitarianism that was hardly ethical. It did not lead to human flourishing for the maximum number of people.

          Further, I don’t see how you think slavery and death for homosexuality was flourishing for the society back then. With what do you compare it? You really think society would have been worse had god eliminated slavery? It is hard to believe that is what you think. Again, it feels like you are just starting with the conclusion that anything god does is best. So you defend that we got the best outcome rather than considering how much better society would have been had slavery been abolished by god back then. I’m not questioning if you are being honest. Just questioning whether you have thought it all the way through.


          1. Hey David,

            Again these are your views but I wasn’t thinking you believed in Utilitarianism, but you more take the view of Sam Harris’ view of ethics is what I was addressing, so if you hold to the same view more or less as Sam Harris. So, I know you are boning up for your debate on Moral Philosophy so just to explain to you, there are 4 main areas of study in Ethics- what we are talking here is Meta-Ethical theories whereby I see both of us hold to an Objectivist theory as opposed to taking a Subjectivist or Non-Cognitivist view; but you are an Ethical Naturalist position whereas I take Ethical Non-Naturalism view. Utilitarianism is about something different, so that was not what I had in mind at all in what I said about you.

            That said, under your version of Ethical naturalism- whereby “ethical”refers to any and all behaviours that are conducive to the well-functioning and flourishing of human society (the Sam Harris notion) than something like slavery and the death penalty are provably “ethical” (again under your definition of the word not mine). The Roman Empire thrived off of slavery, without it people’s lives would have been provably much worse as the Empire was only possible with slavery and thus the benefits of Empire were directly dependent upon their being slavery- this is basic fact of history, I can send you multiple documentaries with secular historians saying this is the case. In fact have several examples of slaves being freed en masse leading to massive social upheaval and unsustainable chaos for example an edict was issued in 212 by the Emperor Caracalla declaring that all free men (so not even all slaves) in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman citizenship and well he is known as the last Emperor of Classical Antiquity as his policies led to the collapse of the Roman Economy, civil wars and the Great crises the Third century- Rome survived for a couple centuries afterward but the glory of Rome was gone forever and it marked the start of Late Antiquity and eventually the Dark Ages. Obviously, things are complex and it was not this one issue that led to this devastating collapse but still this policy change had massive negative repercussions and had the Emperor freed all the slaves and made them full citizens, then Empire would have been destroyed instantly and thus arguably we would have had the Dark Ages much earlier than we did.

            The fact is the Roman Empire made the world a massively better place and slaves were a necessary foundation of upholding that Empire- no slaves, no Empire and who knows what kind of squalor people would have lived in- its the same deal with all other ancient civilizations as well and there is not a single historian in the world who would deny what I’m saying here. Same deal with the death penalty, the ANE world would have been chaos without it, this is why they made their law codes with death penalty offences in the first place.

            As a Theist, I’m allowed to judge slavery based on necessary moral principle violations and say that slavery is not morally ideal even if God allowing it was the moral thing to do at the time in those circumstances of humans living in a sinful world by our own choice, but under your framework, you have no such over-riding ability to make such judgements- all you have is did their society flourish and lead to human well-being better via these behaviours better than they would have done otherwise at the time and if the answer is yes then you have to say those practices were “ethical” at that time as they allowed for the massive Empires to exist and make the lives of ordinary people vastly superior to what they would have been had the Empires/Kingdoms never arose to begin with.


            1. Dale: … but you more take the view of Sam Harris’ view of ethics is what I was addressing,

              Just to let you know, you are not accurately describing Sam Harris’ view on morality. You can not get to your conclusion of what Sam Harris is proposing by what Sam Harris is actually proposing.

              Again, you may want to actually ask people what they believe before you start making up positions for them to hold.


              1. I’ve listened to quite a lot of Sam Harris and read his book on this issue, so I think I’ve done the best I can, that said you’re welcome to correct me if you think I’m mischaracterizing him- I think I know what you might be driving at here but its ultimately meaningless in terms of my main point if your saying what I think you are.

                That said, let’s not assume- tell me in your view what you think Sam Harris’s view is- I want to see if I’m right about why your saying I’m mischaracterizing him or not.


                1. Dale: I’ve listened to quite a lot of Sam Harris and read his book on this issue, so I think I’ve done the best I can,….

                  Cool. Then you should be able to quote where Sam Harris advocates for slavery because the wellbeing of slaves should be ignored when it comes to states that are built on the back of slave labor.


                  1. Darren,

                    Oh is that what you meant by my misrepresenting him? I’ll be honest that was not what I thought you were speaking of- yeah of course, neither Harris nor David would explicitly advocate for slavery as being “ethical” but I would say given the definition of “ethical” that is the logical implication of their definition is all I was saying- again there are some escape routes but that is up to them to establish- that is the whole point of my excercize for David- to see all that is involved in actually proving one’s claims rather than just asserting them and having all the skeptics just back you up- its for his benefit and no one else’s as he is the one doing the experiment.


                    1. Dale: …but I would say given the definition of “ethical” that is the logical implication of their definition is all I was saying-….

                      And I will say it again, If you honestly think that is the logical implication of the definition being used, then you don’t actually understand their position since you can’t actually get there from the defintion being used.


              2. David wrote: Just to let you know, you are not accurately describing Sam Harris’ view on morality. You can not get to your conclusion of what Sam Harris is proposing by what Sam Harris is actually proposing.

                Again, you may want to actually ask people what they believe before you start making up positions for them to hold.

                Hold on! Dale isn’t interacting with alternative viewpoints in an intellectually honest or responsible manner?

                You aren’t trying to tell us Dale isn’t acting like a Real Seeker, are you? 😉


                1. Vaal: You aren’t trying to tell us Dale isn’t acting like a Real Seeker, are you? 😉

                  Not at all. Of course, that is only because being a real seeker in practice just seems to mean ignoring everything other than the question of whether the christian god exists or not, and no matter what you come across to indicate that he isn’t real, you should just ignore that until you have convinced yourself that he is in fact real.


                  1. Darren,

                    I initiated the convo with you so happy to let you insult and misrepresent me here. I got what I needed of you, so I will return to ignoring you now.


                    1. Dale: I got what I needed of you, so I will return to ignoring you now.

                      That’s cool. But it is in fact what it seems like to those of us comparing your actions to your definition of a real seeker.

                      So some friendly advice, If you feel it is a misrepresentation, perhaps you should start making your actions and responses more closely conform to what you claim is the definition of a reel seeker.


                2. Vaal,

                  Are you really this dumb? No offence but I think you know better as to what I’m doing here. Personally, I thought Darren was going to say that I was slightly tweaking Sam Harris’ definition of “ethical” but that was not his objection apparently.

                  When hold to a position- seeing what the logical implications of that view is, is part and parcel of being a real seeker. I’ll reply to you below.


            2. Dale your claims about Slavery benefiting a nation are COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT.

              That a nation which had built important infrastructure on enslaving other people would suffer when that infrastructure was shaken or destroyed is HARDLY SURPRISING.

              The point is that building an infrastructure on slavery was never ethical IN THE FIRST PLACE!
              And that we have moved on and learned that we are all much better served by societies in which we are free, and in which we realize that ultimately we achieve more by working together toward shared goals, rather than by struggles of domination of one race or people over the other. That’s why no one is advocating slavery today! A God could have made that clear to humanity long before He watched people subjugate other human beings in slavery.

              Cripes! Your argument is like “Well, how ELSE are we going to build these d*amned Pyramids (or railway, or whatever) if we can’t ENSLAVE PEOPLE!!???”

              Your reasoning here is in line with the arguments people in the south made against slavery at the time “Our society is based on this structure, look what will happen if we let these people free!”

              It’s sickening.

              You only continue to provide reasons why religion warps otherwise decent people’s moral reasoning.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Vaal,

                Please stop being an insulting idiot for once in your life, OK. we are assessing your Atheistic worldview nothing to do with God and given the definition of “ethical” as being whatever serves the well-being and flourishing of human society and I was taking that and revealing certain logical implications of that meaning of the word. You seem to say that human society functions better had slavery never been a part of it in the first place- prove it!

                I as a intellectually consistent Theist can appeal to the fact that humans beings are made in the image of God and have a sense of inherent worth and value and there are objective and logically necessary moral principles and duties that we as humans are aware of and thus why we can say we know it was wrong back then no matter how effective it was in building up society and improving human flourishing and well-being.

                You as an Atheist don’t have that luxury unfortunately and so I ask based on what evidence do you present to prove that the world without slavery in it at all is better in terms of promoting human society’s flourishing and well-being? How are you making that comparative judgement if you don’t believe in our ability to have moral knowledge of transcendent necessary moral truths like I do- is it just your feelings well we know those are unreliable guides for discovering truth so surely its not that, you must have objective evidence of some kind that allows you to make the comparison of a world that never had slavery in it vs. our actual world which did. Again, its not as simple as saying but yeah Western human society wouldn’t flourish today if we reinstated slavery, you have to say that at no time in history was it more beneficial to have slavery vs. not. Think about the historical origins of slavery, why on Earth would human civilizations feel the need to invent such a thing in the first place- there are various theories on this and no way to prove any of them for sure historically right now, but many of them highlight the benefit that slavery provided people (both owners and the slaves themselves) that made the whole enterprise worthwhile to implement- this is just speaking as a secular historian in terms of the benefits and costs of slavery or the death penalty in terms of the effect of producing better flourishing of human civilizations and all the people that were a part of it.

                Again, do I personally believe slavery was good or ethical regardless of this historical fact- no it was a sin but unfortunately a sin that was the lesser of two evils, but I only make this judgement as a Christian with external standards of what is moral vs. immoral that goes beyond just the “flourishing or well-being of human society”- I’m allowed to say this, the Atheist who holds to this definition of “ethical” can not logically do the same- so long as one can make a cold and calculating case that ancient societies thrived better for humans overall with slavery than it would have without it, than there is nothing you can say against my defeater here- you are forced to either say that slavery is “ethical”, or abandon the definition on offer and make a new or modified one, or you can admit what we all know is really going on here, you know it was wrong because God exists and gave you a moral conscience so you could know that regardless of societal flourishing and well-being, the slavery of any human being is immoral and evil in and of itself.


                1. “Are you really this dumb?”
                  “Please stop being an insulting idiot for once in your life,”

                  Dale, why do you feel the need to resort to name calling and personal insult like that?

                  I have not done that to you. Have I called out your arguments as poor? Have I explained why they only would seem to make sense within your own religious bubble? Yes. But this is talking about arguments given. It’s hardly the same as just calling someone “dumb” and an “idiot.”

                  Can you please re-calibrate your responses?

                  Dale I KNOW you were attempting to respond as if your statements were logical implications of the ethics David argued for (in which he was looking at what is best for a flourishing human society).

                  You were doing a terrible job of arguing for those implications. And doing so because you also want to justify God not having explicitly prohibited slavery. It was a dual-edged bit of malarkey.

                  You seem to say that human society functions better had slavery never been a part of it in the first place- prove it!

                  First, David has clarified for you what was obvious to the rest of us: that his axiom – putting aside whether it’s ontologically grounded or not! But looking at the implications – is to strive for the maximum number of people flourishing, to the extent possible, the goal being “everyone’s flourishing.”

                  YOU DO NOT GET SLAVERY IN OLD TIMES AS BEING A LOGICAL IMPLICATION from this. It does not validate one dominant culture flourishing off the suffering of another!

                  You say “prove it” that understanding slavery to be wrong would have made for better civilizations that had slavery. First, “prove it” is a sloppy demand coming from you, as you are so inclined to hold out logically possible alternatives as still in play even with any preponderance of evidence against it. That aside:
                  You may as well have said “prove we are better off having vaccines!” LIke anything, we take the best evidence we have today for how things work, and extrapolate to past situations. We KNOW what it looks like when a society is languishing under a plague vs a society that isn’t and is generally healthy. That’s why everyone fears another plague. We can extrapolate that past societies suffering from the Black Death, or Cholera epidemic, or the massive numbers who suffered and died under the Spanish Flu pandemic, would be better off if they had known how to make the vaccine for those pathogens. A vaccine that stopped those pathogens would have alleviated horrendous unnecessary suffering.

                  Similarly, we can extrapolate from today some generalities as to what type of societies flourish and which seem more immiserated. Researchers looking at the quality of life indexes (most of which would fit nicely in to David’s axiom of human flourishing!) show what kind of societies are at the top:


                  These are not the dog-eat-dog societies, not the ones built on tyranny or subjugation of one race or culture by another. They are the most egalitarian, the ones that explicitly seek out the combination of maximum individual freedom WITH the desire for the most people’s flourishing. See much slavery in there?
                  And the lower you go towards the bottom of the “worst places to live” index, you get more authoritarianism, more tyranny, more us-against-them, more squalor and even more slavery still being practiced.


                  There is no reason whatsoever to hold that it would have been “better” to have started off human civilizations by adopting slavery. It is a clear violation of David’s axiom that seeks the flourishing of all people to the extent possible. Slavery entails the domination of one people by another. It entails the autonomy and freedom – important for human flourishing – and the diminished of those values for another people. Wheres the modern notion of granting autonomy to everyone, to mutually agreed upon freely derived contracts for exchanges of goods and services, naturally helps both “sides” fulfill their desires, maximizing flourishing, vs slaver in which one side fulfills their desires by thwarting the desires of the other (enslaving them).

                  The fact you can’t actually seem to work this out, especially without having to consult an ancient book of myths, is somewhat alarming, frankly. Again…one day you may look back on being an apologist for slavery and rue the type of arguments you have given here.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Ugh: in the above this from Dale was supposed to be quoted in bold: “You seem to say that human society functions better had slavery never been a part of it in the first place- prove it!”


                  2. Vaal,

                    You ask me to recalibrate my responses but you are the one who started the nasty name calling and not me, in fact you have done so out of no where all this week, it seems you don’t know how to leave a comment without being insulting toward me.

                    You think there is a difference in that I said you were dumb and/or an idiot, but literally everytime I speak, you take it upon yourself to say that what I said was dumb or idiotic and I’m sorry that is a distinction without a difference in my view. If everytime I speak you say my beliefs are idiotic than that is the same as you saying you think I’m an idiot to me.

                    Several times you’ve been insulting toward me and impugned my intelligence and integrity, I even reached out and asked you to stop doing that so I could respond to some of your substantive points but instead of saying OK, you just ignored it and kept on giving me the same kind of responses to the other things I said on this week’s Boards.

                    Why can’t you just stop with the ad homniems and insulting degrading of me and my ideas- you and the others on here constantly accuse of me of various nefarious motives for why I believe what I do (for example, you said I’m white washing or various other sheet like this).

                    You’ve left like 20 new replies to me I see scrolling up- you’ve admitted to venting before and your venting is every bit as insulting to me as my calling you an idiot or dumb is to you, there is no need for it. My goodness it is easy to stay on the ideas themselves and say you disagree with them and then give your reasons as to why- that is a civilized convo but why do you insist on attaching your substantive critiques to insulting assessments of me and my motivations, etc.

                    Brian is a case in point, he is not neutral like I first believed, I’ve noticed that he has a definite leaning in favour of the skeptics side, but yet he is still able to overcome that from time to time and question them and further he is challenging me right now without any need to impugn me or my motives like you and Darren and the some of the others on here are doing. I’ve ignored and overlooked it quite a lot this week, but I finally got fed up with you and gave you a dose of your own and then you cry foul when I do.

                    I would love to recalibrate the convo, but you will have to agree to do so on your end first- agreed? If so, I will proceed to answer your substantive points and we can continue on civilly but if not than as I did with the Hell thing, I’ll have to leave it there.

                    P.S.- I would just say I was speaking as a non-Christian here in what I was advising David. David reaches out to Christians for advice, I assume I’m included in that, but maybe you people don’t care about me at all and so that call was only for others idk, anyways I provided 2 reasonable requests on the Positive evidences that I think would best help David personally- I was mocked and berated for my trying to help him- BTW I love how you pretend that what I gave was unreasonable- David read 50% of the Shroud source in a matter of days, so what are you talking about- that proves what I sent was very doable and I’m sure now that David has actually spent some time reading what I sent he would agree that what I sent him was child’s play to get through with the Shroud source.

                    Next, David wanted other alternatives to objective evidences- I provided several options for him including asking his permission to have me and my church pray for him- I didn’t see him take me up on those options, instead he is doing what he wants to do in going to a forum church or something- OK, whatever.

                    Then, David did this whole song and dance about how Christians are wrong to recommend things that only relate to the Christian religion, I then give him some quick ways to assess other religions- to which I’m scolded for only focusing on religions and told he has a wider focus than just religions- Uh, OK.

                    Finally, I see David complaining about the Negative evidences against Christianity and so I say “Hey that is a good point, if you say you are truly open to the truth and you don’t claim to have 100% knowledge that slavery or Hell or the death penalties or whatever is is is immoral and proves God wrong, then why not re-open that and try to test your beliefs- pick one and actually do the work to prove/establish an argument rather than just asserting your subjective feelings all the time on these things- no one cares about feelings that is not good enough to establish the God of the Bible is wrong or immoral.

                    Anyways, if you agree to stop being insulting and degrading in your comments to me, than I will agree not to return the favour and proceed to answer the substantive points you make.


                    1. Dale, you seem to be a big fan of an eye for an eye. If you think someone has insulted you, your response is to deliver an equally vile insult as the one you think you received. Still scratching my head as to how you justify that. But you do you.

                      I have absolutely considered all of your suggestions. You are just wrong about what you think I have and haven’t done. But you are even more wrong about how difficult it is for me to consume so much dense and uninteresting material so quickly. Reading with my eyes costs me a great deal of pain and challenge. Using text to speech brings its own set of challenges with this type of material. And to do it justice and study it as opposed to just have it wash over me with everything else I am dealing with in my life is quite difficult.

                      In short, it is not reasonable. And I don’t recommend anyone do it. When you say that my doing it proves how reasonable it was makes you sound like a fool. You should stop.

                      There is also the matter of wanting your opinion. Frankly, I don’t think I do want any more of your input. The reason is that you have taken the opportunity to poison the well. Earlier, you were actively campaigning for Christians to stay away and not participate, leaving you the only person to offer suggestions. You warned Christians that by participating, they would be helping me make a mockery of god, or some such. So you bet I am a little tired of your thoughts being the only ones shared by Christians. You have frightened them away. Congrats. Now how about you just leave it to see if any other Christian wants to participate without your poisoning the well?


                    2. As I understand it Dale has moved on again.

                      But just to clear up some of the usual misconceptions:

                      Dale: “ If everytime I speak you say my beliefs are idiotic than that is the same as you saying you think I’m an idiot to me.”

                      No it’s not the same. If you look at my replies you’ll see I never have called you an idiot and I have targeted your arguments (and Christian arguments in general). And I have many times qualified this. When I hear Christians giving really bad arguments I point out that religions results in “OTHERWISE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE”
                      making silly reasoning mistakes. I’ve said explicitly before that many Christians are smarter than I am, and I’ve said I’m sure you are more competent than I am in many areas.

                      I also qualify when highlighting the immorality Christians often have to justify. I say that Christianity forces OTHERWISE MORALLY NORMAL decent people to defend the immoral.

                      In other words, Christians like yourself are intelligent and moral, and tend to think rationally and morally in most other areas of your life, but when it comes to defending the Biblical God, THEN your thinking and morality has to be spun around 180 degrees to try to make that square peg fit the round hole.

                      It isn’t ad hominem. I keep looking at the quality of the evidence/argument Christians like you give us, explain why they fail, and also try to explain sometimes where the thinking went off track and why.


                    3. If it means anything Vaal, it was pretty clear you were attacking the ideas not the person. It was he who has left the building, that started calling you dumb, then not without irony, scolding you for ad homs.

                      I think the trouble has been, just because the theories have been thought about long and hard and buttressed up with complicated 29 point arguments, it doesn’t make them sound any less BSC to the outsider ear. Nor automatically mean they should be respected and worse revered. The Abe test, notions of hell, unrealistic Real seeker criterium etc never sat comfortably with skeptics. No attempt to humanise it or find a moderate middle ground on these theories ever succeeded. The absurdity often led us to show exasperation and use More extreme examples and glib bee language to drive the point home. Consequently, Dale, never felt he or his theories received the respect he thought they so deserved. I don’t think he liked that one bit.

                      He might do a lot better in a world of Christian academia where people can appreciate his research and agree with him.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    4. Good analysis Sarah.

                      I also meant to add to mine: Another aspect that could explain how Dale feels so constantly put-upon is the inherent selection-bias driving these conversations. We are generally here to debate issues between Christians and non-believers. Naturally, the believer is going to receive almost nothing but push-back from the atheists because we find all the arguments for the religion to be kooky or just poorly reasoned. In this context a Christian can feel “It seems they think EVERYTHING I say is stupid or unreasonable!” Well, insofar as the discussion is focused on attempts to defend Christianity, that’s what it will look like.

                      But life outside a comment section or even the debate between atheist and Christian is far bigger. There are all sorts of “regular” conversations any atheist could have with a Christian where we are on the same side, or acknowledging the greater prowess or experience of the other person. I expect I’d be agreeing with Dale on lots, if not most things outside his defenses for Christianity. But when we are only ever meeting in the context of a narrow debate over which we have utterly opposing views, it can skew the view of what we actually would think of one another in the broader context.

                      Liked by 1 person

            3. I am having a hard time processing what you are saying and fashioning a response that doesn’t revert to full polemic. I will start by suggesting that you really don’t understand my view. And you are doing the typical thing where you try to associate my view with someone I respect, then argue agains that person’s position instead of mine. For the record, I’m pretty sure you don’t understand either one. But I will let Sam defend his own position. I can’t just say nothing while you misrepresent mine. I’m right here. You don’t get to tell me what my position is.

              I’ve tried to keep quiet for some part of the day because I am a bit impaired. But this is too important to let sit lest someone come along and get the impression that you know what you are talking about with regard to my views. You clearly do not. Please stop telling people what I believe.

              I echo Harris in believe that the greatest good for the most people is better than the worst suffering for the most people. From there, we can work out how to get more of the one and less of the other. When I think of the most people, I am thinking of everyone with no exceptions. That is always my goal even if it seems unreasonable. I don’t want anyone left behind for any reason. And the best plans for flourishing start with everyone as the goal, not just a subsection or even the majority.

              It is clear that slavery can be temporarily beneficial to a limited subset of humans for a limited amount of time. That has nothing to do with my view of flourishing. And it does not represent Sam’s version of flourishing either. That is what I call limited utilitarianism. And I don’t subscribe to it.

              To be clear, I believe your assessment of history is atrociously bad. Had the Jews not developed and operated under a system of war and slavery, they would not have been worse off for it, but better. That said, I am still not arguing my position solely on the basis that the Jews would have been better off. Slavery is bad for the slave. So clearly everyone is not benefiting from the system. It is an adversarial, zero sum game. For one to win, another must lose. We can dismiss slavery on that basis alone.

              I would also argue that temporary and limited gains do not equal longterm benefits. Who cares if Hitler was better off killing millions of innocent people in the short term. His atrocities led to his death along with the bad death of all his lieutenants. The world had to recover from that brief period of limited benefit.

              We simply have no way of knowing how history would have unfolded had the Jews took a stand against slavery. But we make these speculations based on what we believe is the best and most ethical judgement we have. So even if it meant the Jews would suffer some temporary and limited disadvantage, I contend that doing the good works out for the good.

              Perhaps the Jews would not have benefitted as much in the short term. But humanity would have been better with better moral foundations. This is speculation. But I would rather act upon that theory than to champion atrocities for short term and selfish gains.

              There is so much more I want to say on the matter. But it will have to wait for another podcast. I will close with my other objection: With god on their side, what possible negative effects do you think the Jews would have suffered by giving up slavery? They had the magical protection of a war god who could have protected them from their enemies. He was capable of feeding them with food that fell from the sky and giving them water from rocks. There is no social disadvantage they could have suffered with such a god were he actually real.

              Every nation would have seen that the Jews couldn’t be touched. They were leading the way morally by giving up practical but unethical institutions, and that they were flourishing anyway. Every nation would have eventually bowed to such a god. I don’t feel like you are thinking through the positive change to history it would have made had we less slavery. But of course, for you, since god allowed it to happen, it must have been good. That is because you assume the god of the Bible is good.

              Finally, I can’t tell you how chilling it is to hear you speak of how much better the world is for past slavery. It is as if you cannot imagine what we might have accomplished were all people equal and free to be their best selves from the beginning. Who cares if Rome fell? You only see the limited bad without bothering to consider what better unity might have arisen in its place.

              I don’t want this to come off as an attack against you. But this is one of those places where your ideas are frightening, and do not represent ideas expressed by most other Christians I know.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. David,

                Once again you totally misrepresent me, anyways I’m more knowledgeable than you are about history, so I’m in a better position to make those kinds of judgements than you- that said I’m not a scholar and to be honest no one knows for sure.

                The point is you have the burden of proof here David- you say that slavery was bad for the slaves- prove it? Do you know how many slaves benefited and willing wanted to be slaves- it was a life line in the ancient world. My views are mainstream Christianity here David, again this is why you need to read more books and stop saying you read them all before- obviously, your reading is out of date now as I’m more in tune with mainstream evangelical scholarship- just listen to any and all Christian apologists on slavery- I did this just days ago as I though Stanley was going to be talking about slavery in our show, for example Dr. Paul Xopan says much the same as what I am here.

                Anyways, I don’t give a darn what you think about my views- its irrelevant David, you are all that matters as you are the one supposedly being open minded to God this month, right? Pointing out your views on my problems doesn’t prove your skeptical claims are right.

                1. Interesting when you say that any and all “ethical” standards must be universal- that sounds like Theist talk- xan you prove that there can’t be a relative or evolving standard of “ethical”- if slavery benefited the flourishing of societies in the past, than why wouldn’t it be ethical (on your view) to have slavery then and get rid of slavery when it was no longer beneficial in that way? Why not the evolving standard, who says morality has to be a universal one size fits all for all times- this really seems like you are stealing from a Theistic worldview that sees morality as something more than just “whatever allows for human well-being and flourishing”. The flourishing of society is good for everyone and if one thing benefits society at one time, then its ethical, when it longer benefits society than don’t do it anymore- if it becomes beneficial in the future again, then great bring it back.

                How do you prove that this is the wrong way to look at it, remember your point to Marvin on the meaning of life about functionality- if slavery functions to have societies and humans flourish than its “ethical” plain and simple.

                2. How do you prove that an individualistic vs. collectivist mentality is “ethical”- most of human societies have flourished under the guise that the welfare of the collective is more important than making every individual happy- again there are degrees as even the U.S. as a very individualistic state recognizes times when the individual comes second to the concerns of society. Why shouldn’t the needs of the many trump the needs of the few- don’t just assert your case, prove your case to be true- that is the point of my excercize here!

                3. You say that I don’t take into consideration the positive effects of getting rid of slavery- no I do, more than you know, I have a much broader horizon than you do on this issue in terms of ancient slavery at least that said this isn’t about me, its about you and your claims- remember this is your trial, so prove to everyone that you’ve considered all the positive and negative impacts of a world without slavery- its fine and dandy to pretend that you know the world would have been better if Rome fell and we all came together to make rocket ships, but can you prove this actually would have happened. How do you prove that the world wouldn’t have just dissolved into a more brutal Dark Ages- I mean that is literally what happened without Roman government we got the Dark Ages (which historians will point out is a misrepresentation of the period in itself its not as bad as we think today)- that said there is a marked difference in the quality of life of master and slave, King and peasant during classical antiquity and the early Dark Ages- I at least have actual historical facts to make my case, what do you have on offer in terms of evidence that had we just abolished slavery we would have landed on the moon in 469 A.D. rather than 1969 A.D. or would have had massive breakthroughs in science and technology centuries before we did? Think, don’t just speculate that we would, ask yourself can you actually prove this would be the case?

                As to my own position on slavery- as a Christian Theist with actual real divinely revealed objective and logically necessary standards of morality, everyone on here has heard our S&S shows on slavery and knows where I stand personally- it was evil and always was evil, but given it was good for God to give freewill to choose to live in a sinful world and that we chose in fact to live in a fallen world, then it is moral for God to allow less than morally ideal situations and evils to exist in the world in order to save as many free souls as possible and even beyond that, I think that slavery had some provable Earthly benefits as well- it was still evil sin, but it was “factually (not logically) necessary evil”- that is my view but this is not about me, its about you David and your quest to find God this month.


                1. “given it was good for God to give freewill to choose to live in a sinful world and that we chose in fact to live in a fallen world, then it is moral for God to allow less than morally ideal situations and evils to exist in the world in order to save as many free souls as possible “

                  Which is a reply that simply ignores what atheists keep pointing out to you Christians over and over. It just papers over the uncomfortable specifics: God had NO PROBLEM giving all sorts of commands to his “free willed” followers! The bible is just riven with God commanding people what to do. Sure they had free will and could disobey. But the bible itself entails that God giving commands, often normative commands, isn’t interfering with free will.

                  And the point we keep giving you is that this is the case AND YET GOD DIDN’T TELL PEOPLE SLAVERY WAS EVIL!

                  It’s one thing to simply “allow” evil to happen (bad enough) but it’s another to give what seems to be a positive endorsement for an evil – slavery – and WITHHOLD moral information, never clearing up, by being explicit that it was an evil, and by adding a clear command against it for all future societies.

                  Instead, we had slavery flourish for thousands of years, and even Christians up to the slave trading times justifying slavery from the bible…and now we still have Christians like YOU sneaking in justifications for slavery!

                  Yes, we know you believe your adherence to an ancient book gives you a reason to try to justify slavery.
                  You should be very proud.

                  Liked by 1 person

  12. David,

    With respect to your God quest, I suspect the Christians around here are going to provide nothing beyond bad arguments, hundreds of pages of homework, and true seeker pills. May I make the following offering, courtesy of the introspective traditions.

    Contemplatives have broadly identified 3 levels of conscious awareness – the everyday, the “subconscious”, and the ground consciousness. I provide the scare quotes around subconscious as this would encompass a greater scope that what is typically recognized by mainstream psychology. It is in this mental realm that the gods reside, along with a bunch of mythical entities and archetypes. This is the world of YHWH and the other inhabitants of the pantheon.

    How does one enter this realm? There are a number of modalities – mediation, extreme fasting, psychedelics, or asphyxia.

    All things considered, if you don’t have the balls for mushrooms or if your local laws prohibit, I reckon a 40-day fast (a month won’t do) in the wilderness (preferably in a loin cloth) might be your best option. There is of course the risk of meeting Satan doing this. If you really want to meet YHWH, it is reported that smoking huge quantities of a myrrh compound creates such an being.

    That said, you’ve got a solid 30 years to cultivate your concentration if you want to experience the ground consciousness which the mystics equate with God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will not be taking shrooms or experimenting with altered states. There will be no pilgrimages. And I will build no alters and burn no sacrifices. If those are the only ways to find gods, they can stay hidden.

      I am hoping that I can place myself in an honest enough position that some god out there will find me. While I am the kind of geek that sometimes reads hundreds of pages for the fun of it, I have little hope in any method that requires me to do something that other people who encountered god did not.

      I’m honestly not sure why there needs to be this much drama. I am a human searching for the truth about the existence of a god. Using only thought processes, I encounter no god. Using emotion, I encounter no god. Listening to the testimony of others, I encounter no god.

      Now, defeated, I’m just asking for any god to clear it up assuming I am the one broken and confused. It is going to take a god to present himself to me. I will remain as actively open to the possibilities as I can through February. From there I will conclude that if there are any gods out there, they have no interest in making their presence known to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. David, asphyxia seems a pretty cheap and easy option on the table, though.
        I can’t get shrooms as short notice since I don’t know *that* type of person, but maybe holding my breath and drinking 3 glasses of chardonnay, mindfulness + some whale sounds might help. I’m game if you are? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You could at least try one night in your backyard in a loin cloth. If you are a real seeker you could have your wife douse you with ice water on the hour.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am reasonably certain I don’t want to meet the god who requires that. Also, I have spent the night at an Apple Store to be first in line for an iPhone some years ago. I even talked my 70 YO father into doing it with me. We had only one portable chair. It was cold. There was no easily accessible bathroom. It rained. There was no place to sleep. Moreover, the mall security harassed us and would not let us stay on the mall grounds. So we had to find another patch of ground. These were not even the worst parts of the event.

          Needless to say, I am done with overnight worship events in pursuit of false gods. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          1. You really are resisting the spirit. How about:
            One single 50mg vaporized dose of toad venom results in many “seeing God”.


            1. Wow, where do we get us some Toad? I have high (wah wah!) hopes it should be easy living in Froggy land. 😉
              “ayahuasca, recently have been decriminalized in parts of the United States” Did not know that. Those hippy Californian’s are at it again.


              1. I think you need to go down to Mexico to get the critters. You should read Michael Pollan’s latest book for an excellent description of “smoking the toad”.

                I understand it is legal to partake of ayahuasca at certain churches in the US. Now there might be a path back to faith!

                Liked by 1 person

  13. Dealbreaker: War

    The only good thing that happened in Star Trek 5 was Kirk asking aloud, “What does god need with a starship?” In fact, the whole scene is worth rewatching:

    In one of the worst movies of all time, there is one of the most profound and potentially life changing scenes of all time. It is past time we reflect on it. We only need change the script by one word to make it immediately obvious why the question is so profound. Replace starship with anything at all. And you will develop an uneasy feeling about this god.

    Most pertinent to this post, what does god need with an army? You don’t have to get too far into the Bible to realize that god loves a good war. At the very least, he makes no contact with the conventional wisdom that we shouldn’t solve our problems with violence. God is happy to solve problems with violence, even when there are other means available to address the problem. With god, there are always other means. Here is why I believe war is never acceptable when you have an interventionist god on your side:

    What about free will?

    Christians use free will like sci-fi writers use ray guns. Sometimes a shot square in the chest just knocks you backward and hurts for a while. Sometimes, a glancing blow to an extremity kills you dead. How do they work? Even the writers don’t know. Ray guns work the way writers need them to work in that moment.

    Free will is the ray gun of Christians. Sometimes, god will let you do anything you want and let you suffer the unspeakable consequences. Even if you are an innocent victim, he will not save you from the consequences of someone else wielding their free will against you. Just look at the number of people who are killed in drive-by shootings for which they were not the target. Blame free will. But the moment a ruler does something that would affect god’s plan, free will is out the window. God is there to intervene. How does it work? Free will works the way the Christian needs it to work for any given moment.

    Once you accept the fact that god intervenes whenever he damn well pleases, other questions bubble to the surface such as, why doesn’t he intervene before the bad thing happens. Think about god’s war on Egypt. God listened to his people cry out for relief for 400 years. It took that long for god to get good and mad enough to do something about it. So if he was going to free his people from slavery, why let them get enslaved in the first place? He could have placed a hedge of protection around them without killing a single Egyptian.

    Consider all the other wars god helped his people fight. What did the enemy do that was so bad? Whatever it was, god could have stopped it before it was done. Don’t bother talking about free will. If god cared about free will, he would have allowed all the consequences to stand. Instead, we learn god is okay with some consequences but not others. That has nothing to do with free will. It has to do with his plan. War makes no sense for a god who can intervene before the first shot is fired.

    Wet work

    All too often, god uses humans to do the wet work. He wants to punish a particular nation. So he calls on his people to take up arms and slaughter some fools for him. This makes no sense of a god who can just cause his enemies to drop dead. This actually happened at least once in the Bible:

    “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

    “‘He will not enter this city

    or shoot an arrow here.

    He will not come before it with shield

    or build a siege ramp against it.

    By the way that he came he will return;

    he will not enter this city,

    declares the Lord.

    I will defend this city and save it,

    for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”

    That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

    This is one of my favorite scenes in the Bible because for this one occasion, god did not require humans to do the wet work. It proves that regardless of the number of soldiers or type of chariots used, god could simply protect the people he wanted to protect and kill the people he wanted to kill, all without humans lifting a finger against another human.

    So it makes it all the more mysterious why he didn’t just do this all the time. Instead, we do a little more reading and get one of the worst war stories of all time. God allowed his people to win as long as the leader held his arms up as if signaling a touchdown in American football. When his arms grew tired and slumped, his people would start losing. What an atrocious game played by an odious creature.

    Conclusion: Modeling a better way

    Like with slavery, god could have used his magic and his people to model a better way. Enemies of god had no reason to question war. Because they never saw a better way. To this day, Christians routinely associate god’s will with their military ambitions. It seems reasonable of a war god who expressed his grand scheme through nation-building and military prowess. God does not seem to be interested in peace as much as conquest. In the final day, there is still an obsession with him defeating and lording it over his enemies. Every knee shall bow. And whether or not you like it, yours will be one of them.

    God is not done with his wars. He still needs Christian soldiers wearing the whole armer of god to do battle with his enemies. What’s with all the militant language? Jesus said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 2,000 years later, the battle is still being waged. And considering that god is all powerful, it is a battle that doesn’t have to be waged at all. He could end it if he wanted to. But just like in the days of the Old Testament, god loves war, no matter how useless it is. I’m out!

    David Johnson

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Excellent analogy with the Ray Guns!

      Like it centurion, like it!


  14. Don’t bother making any more replies to Dale. He has moved on, again. No, I didn’t ban him or any such nonsense. He simply had a bit of a meltdown which all the regulars are familiar with by now. I have communicated with him via email and he is not going to be showing up here for a while. He is already not seeing your posts. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting how Dale seemed to keep so calm on podcasts, but has trouble keeping it together in comment sections. I don’t begrudge him for it. I feel sorry that he struggles in that way when interacting with skeptics online (and I continue to admire much of what Dale accomplishes).

      BTW David, re one of your other posts to Dale: which faction of Christians did Dale warn away from these comment sections?


  15. I just posted an off-schedule episode of S&S with special guest, Robert Stanley in conversation with Dale and I. In all fairness to Dale, he didn’t want to post it at all. But it would have been unfair to Robert had we not done so. It was a good discussion that I am somewhat burying in midweek. But the next episode on Pascal will come out at least a day or two late. This way, you will have something new to chew on till then. I suspect this one is going to live on in the comments for a while. Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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