The Pastor of my Old Church Tried to Re-Convert Me Yesterday

by cofty 2596 Replies latest jw experiences

  • cofty

    Eden please stop the silly word games and point scoring.

    You said that god did not intervene in order to respect human choices.

    I questioned in what way the victims of the tsunami chose their fate and you accuse me of being obtuse.

    Are you interested in communicating or not?

  • EdenOne

    I find it difficult that you interpret my wording as 'God respecting their choice to drown because of an earthquake that he caused'. So I take it that you're just being insulting towards me. In any case,

    If God interveines in a disaster of said magnitude, then he would be expected to act in a disaster of a smaller magnitude; then also in a little disaster; then again on personal disasters; then again in triffle situations of everyday life. Soon God would be expected to cure ingrown fingernails. If God would interveine to save the people in the asian tsunami, then others would ask fairly: What about ME? What about the people on that other volcano/flood/earthquake/ or whatever disaster ?

    Stepping out from interveining and offering the hope of resurrection for everyone is actually a very loving and fair thing.


  • tootired2care

    Cofty, it seems like you're falling into an unsustainable trap of having to re-hash points that have previously been made multiple times already on this thread to accomodate every newcomer who hasn't bothered to actually read what's already been written.

    The answers offered by those in favor of theism, have so far not provided a satisfying answer to your question. For me, this question matters. Why? What right does anyones super diety have to make demands of people, and tell them what true morality, justice and love is, when it just sits back and watches this horrendous affair and many others like it for the past 200,000 years as man has evolved and suffered, and painstakingly had to figure everything out on their own anyways?

  • Laika

    Eden, are you trying to say that since the rebellion/fall God gave humans what they wanted I.e. To act as the God of their own world?

    I call this the 'prodigal son' defense, I'd heard it before and was surprised it hadn't made the summary list yet.

  • cofty

    EdenOne - you are changing the question because your theology has no solution to the actual problem.

    As I have made clear for 35 pages now this is ONLY about "natural evil" - bad stuff that isn't caused by humans.

    The god of theism created a world of earthquakes and then passively observed one wiping out a quarter of a million people.

    He caused the earthquake when he made the world. It was entirely his decision to kill those people.

    In what way was he respecting their choice exactly?

    Summary so far...

  • adamah

    Eden One said-

    The Tsunami was not act of God. It was simply a natural calamity.

    I think the terminology "Act of God" applied to an event like the Tsunamy is loaded language.

    Holy Hades, Eden. You cannot simply redefine terms on-the-fly that have been in use long before you or I were born, simply because they personally make you feel uncomfortable.

    Insurers consider all natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc as "acts of God".

    Act of God

    An event that directly and exclusively results from the occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.

    There's that legendary avoidance of truth observed in many believers, who are quite unable to accept facts which they don't want to exist (ironically which is much like the concept of God not wanting to see the results of 'natural evil' by looking the other way when it behooves Him not to see it; in fact, it's getting hard to tell where EdenOne ends and his God concept begins, since the dividing lines are so blurred).

    Fact is, Hebrews actually saw ALL events that occurred as 'acts of God', and it didn't phase them one bit, e.g.

    Exodus 21:12-14 (part of the so-called "Covenant Code") still reflects this common ancient belief:

    He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee (Note: referring to the city of refuge). But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.

    The situation depicted is manslaughter, where a freak accident occurred and resulted in the unintentional death of the victim. Jews had no problem chalking up such chance episodes as "acts of God" (which is what the phrase "God delivered him into his hand" implies), thinking that God's will was being carried out in some mysterious and unknown manner to humans that the mere mortals were not smart enough to understand. However, the death was part of God's plan, somehow.

    HOWEVER, that doesn't mean everyone just blamed it on God and left it at that, as if alleviating both the victim and the unintentional killer of all guilt and blame with God taking the blame. Instead, the thinking was that God used both the victim AND the killer for some unknown reason, but God would NEVER use righteous individuals for such purposes; hence anyone who was involved in a manslaughter incident was immediately suspect and somehow flawed. The killer had to stay within a 'city of refuge' and remained ineligible to play certain roles in Jewish society afterwards. Hence even accidental deaths were chalked up to 'moral evil', although the root cause of the immoral action was unknown.

    The OT is oddly silent on the issue of natural disasters ('natural evil'), which isn't so surprising: all natural disasters in ancient times were considered as punishment for some 'moral evil' (eg the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the threatened distruction of Ninevah, etc), and hence all resulted from judgment by God.

    Of course, the big break-thru in theodicy is found in the book of Job, which allowed for bad things to happen to good people for seemingly no reason at all, since God works in mysterious ways. And with that, all possible causes were staked out as territory on the game board, and ancient priests simply picked whichever explanation seemed to fit the occasion.

    But Jews who lived in 500 BC would likely look at you like you had a hole in your head if you described the concept of 'natural evil' to them, since the concept is completely anachronistic to their Worldview and understanding, using concepts which emerged into human thinking a millenia later, after scientific methods revealed how the World actually operates (eg plate tectonics, the germ theory of disease, etc). So to overlay the thoughts found in ancient writings, written long before anyone knew any better, onto modern understanding via science, is foolishly absurd.


  • EdenOne

    Adam: Insurers consider all natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc as "acts of God".

    That's irrelevant from a doctrinal point of view, don't you think? The question asked was about the 2004 Tsunami. My answer is: Since Christ was resurrected, God stepped aside from interveining in human affairs, and instituting an automatic mechanism towards salvation based on the faith in Christ. Thus he didn't cause, nor would he intervein to forewarn or prevent that Tsunami. He merely offers hope and assure us of salvation, if we should accept it.


  • cofty

    Updated Summary...

    1. God does good things, Satan does bad things.

    Response - If Satan caused the tsunami and god did nothing that makes god look weak as well as wicked.


    2. Calamities can be prevented by intersessionary prayer

    Response - So god would have saved 250 000 lives if only a christian had remembered to pray?


    3. There are lots of stories of christians who were saved from death in the tsunami. This is a way of saying those who died basically had themselves to blame, a form of prosperity teaching.

    Response - I'm sure there are lots of stories of atheists and Muslims who were saved from death in the tsunami. There were also many thousands of christians who died. If god picked a few favourites that only makes him look even more nasty and capricious.


    4. Humans cause suffering.

    Response - The tsunami was caused by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean. There was absolutely nothing any human could do to cause it or prevent it.


    5. Free will.

    Response - We are not talking about human actions, only about "natural evil" - bad things that are not caused by other humans. If god had prevented the tsunami no free will would have been involved.


    6. All creation including the planet was harmed by the "fall".

    Response - It was casued by the movement of tectonic plates. Earthquakes are an intrinsic part of how the earth was made. They have been happening for billions of years. It would have been trivially easy for him to quell the beginning of the tsunami wave long before anybody even knew it had happened. He chose to do nothing except watch the wave wipe out a quarter of a million lives.


    7. Yes its a pity that 250 000 lives were wiped out needlessly but humans do bad things too.

    Response - Measuring the morality of god against that of a human tyrant is setting the bar rather low for god. This is an example of the tu quoque fallacy.


    8. It wasn't god's time to act

    Response - Is there a better time for a loving god to act than before the tsunami kills a quarter of a million innocent people?


    9. God was seen in the actions of christians who worked to relieve the suffering of survivors

    Response - Human efforts to clear up god's mess does not excuse his passivity


    10. God caused the tsuanmi because he is judging people for sin.

    Response - The problem for theism is that god cannot be powerful, knowing and loving if he passively observes the violent death of a quarter of a million people.

    You have chosen to resolve the dilemma by ditching the claim that god is love. In doing so you are in harmony with pre-exile worhsippers of Yahweh but you are left with a god who is all-powerful, all-knowing and a total tyrant. You still have theism but as far as ethics go your god is on a par with Zeus or Thor. Surely the whole point of being god is being worthy?


    11. Who are we to judge god?

    Response - You have unhitched the word "love" from any meaningful definition. We may think we know what love means but god demonstrates that we have not the slightest idea. Love could just as easily mean the capricious anihilation of a quarter of a million innocent people. You destroy our ability to make moral judgements. "Good" is whatever pleases god from moment to moment. Mass destruction is just as morally good as altruism and self-sacrifice.

    Ethics are a matter of divine fiat. The value of human life is trivialised.

    In defending god you have reduced him to a celestial Pol Pot who may choose on a whim to eradicate our lives in the manner of the killing fields of Cambodia. With apologists like you who needs atheists?


    12. Suffering is good for us

    Response - Lets try that out with a real tsunami victim. Please take a few moments to get down out your ivory tower and try to imagine what suffering really feels like for this woman. Perhaps this dead child is the only body she managed to recover from the aftermath. Lets imagine she has lost everything. Every family member, every possession every hope and dream and ambition she ever had. She is now condemned to months of living among devastation without adequate food or water or shelter.

    Now go and tell her that your god sent the tsunami because she needed to learn empathy and compassion. You need to show in what way the tsunami was a benefit to the victims.


    13. Suffering provides us - the observer of suffering - with the opportunity to learn compassion and empathy.

    Response - Please refer to the answer to number 12 above. Try telling the victim that your god sent the tsunami so that you could learn to be a better christian. What astonishing hubris that diminishes the lives of a quarter of million people into a comodity to be used for your benefit.


    14. Its a mystery.

    Response - This is a non-answer so response required. The intellectual dishonesty of faith is self-evident.


    15. Suffering will be unimportant compared to eternal rewards

    Response - This is ethically repugnant. It is an extreme example of "the end justifies the means" defense, so beloved of tyrants.

    Like other theodices it is dehumanising by reducing humans to pawns in god's game.

    Imagine that scientists developed a pill that would eradicate all unwelcome memories and create a feeling of bliss.

    How would you judge a scientist who imposed the most horrific suffering on millions of people, as unwilling subjects of his experiment, but who gave all of them one of the magic pills when it was over?


    16. We just need to trust that god always does what is for the best

    Response - If god's lack of willingness to save the 250 000 victims of the Asian Tsunami doesn't give you pause to reflect on that trust, what would?


    17. He chose not to. Why? He is a free agent just as we are.

    Response - So if you could prevent a great evil at no cost to yourself but chose not to, and your only defense was "I chose not to; I am a free agent", what would that say about your ethics?


    18. God intervening in that tsunami may have been the cause of anothers' death...from a human reaction to God having stopped that tsunami?

    Response - An all-knowing god would be aware on the earthquake under the Indian Ocean before it happened and could have quelled the wave at its source without any human ever being aware. Not in order to impose his presence any anybody but purely as an act of love. That's what I would have done which makes me far more moral than your god.


    19. Suffering is necessary in the short term. It's a bit more like allowing your child to suffer a painful operation... and then give comfort and gifts afterwards

    Response - There is a direct benefit from a painful operation to the person who endures the pain. You need to explain what the benefit was to the victims of the Asian tsunami


    20. Retreat towards Deism - This can take various forms that tend to back away from any of the elements of an all-knowing, all-powerful god.

    Response - How does a world with an ignorant or weak god look any different from a world with no god? What makes a god of this sort worthy of our attention.


    21. Blame the victims. They should have known not to live so near the coast or how to read the signs of a tsunami etc

    Response - Apart from the staggering callousness of these sort of assertions they also make no sense. The god of theism created a world of earthquakes and knew in advance when it would happen. To balme the victims is like throwing rocks at a crowd and blaming them for failing to duck.


    22. The prodigal son defense. Since the fall God gave humans what they wanted; to act as the God of their own world? This is effectively the JW position.

    Response - This is an example of the retreat towards deism defense, number 20 above. It is hypocritical for a theist to use this excuse. Every time a believer thanks god for their food or prays for health or protection or a new job they demonstrate their belief that god is very much active in the world.

  • cofty

    Since Christ was resurrected, God stepped aside from interveining in human affairs - EdenOne

    So how do you account for all the deaths from earthquakes and tsunamis prior to 33AD?

  • EdenOne

    Laika, sorry, I missed that post.

    That's not exactly my point. I think God respects our free choice, and since Christ's resurrection, he decided to refrain from being the type of interventionist God he had been before. It has nothing to do with the "falling" of Adam and Eve. It's not a punishment for human rebellion. It simply is God letting nature follow its course; believers get comfort, spirit, wisdom and hope from Him, but they cannot expect miraculous intervention in either the triffle matters nor the big natural calamities. So, Cofty's #22 doesn't suit either.


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