God’s Omnipotence and Problem of Evil

Suffering

“A wholly good omnipotent being”, contended J. L. Mackie, “would eliminate evil completely; if there really are evils, then there cannot be any such being” (Mackie 1982: 150)

Is it necessarily true that a wholly good omnipotent being who is able eliminate evil, would eliminate evil? Is it necessarily true that a wholly good omnipotent being who cannot prevent pain and suffering, would be impotent?

Thomas V. Morris and Peter van Inwagen contended that the notions that if God exists, He would eliminate evil, and if He cannot eliminate evil, He is not omnipotent, are not necessarily true.

Following Morris, what we mean by a being B can do x, is either B’s ability, viz., B is “ able to do x” or B’s capability, viz., B is “capable of doing x”(Morris 1991). With this in mind, it become clear that God, a wholly good omnipotent, could be able to eliminate evil, but either God is morally incapable to eliminate evil without eliminating good, viz., God’s incapability to create a creature C who possesses true freedom of will and C only do good and never do evil, or God has sufficient moral reasons not to eliminate evil.

Inwagen expounded this idea:

Suppose, for example, that Alice’s mother is dying in great pain and that Alice yearns desperately for her mother to die—today and not next week or next month. And suppose it would be easy for Alice to arrange this—she is perhaps a doctor or a nurse and has easy access to pharmaceutical resources that would enable her to achieve this end. Does it follow that she will act on this ability that she has? It is obvious that it does not, for Alice might have reasons for not doing what she can do. Two obvious candidates for such reasons are: she thinks it would be morally wrong; she is afraid that her act would be discovered, and that she would be prosecuted for murder. And either of these reasons might be sufficient, in her mind, to outweigh her desire for an immediate end to her mother’s sufferings. So it may be that someone has a very strong desire for something and is able to obtain this thing, but does not act on this desire—because he has reasons for not doing so that seem to him to outweigh the desirability of the thing. The conclusion that evil does not exist does not, therefore, follow logically from the premises that the non-existence of evil is what God wants and that he is able to bring about the object of his desire — since, for all logic can tell us, God might have reasons for allowing evil to exist that, in his mind, outweigh the desirability of the non-existence of evil.(Inwagen 2006, 64-65)

Thus following Morris and Inwagen, even if God could eliminate evil, it does not follow that God would eliminate evil.

But what if a wholly good omnipotent being could not prevent evil, would it necessarily follow that He is impotent? No. It could be because of God’s moral incapability and not God’s inability to prevent evil that He could not prevent evil. God, following this view, cannot prevent evil not because God lacked possible power a being could have to prevent evil, but lack of moral reasons to prevent evil.

It is neither necessarily true, thus, that God being able to eliminate evil, He would eliminate evil, nor if God could not eliminate evil, would He be not omnipotent because it is possibly true that God could have good moral reasons not to prevent evil.

Bibliography:

Inwagen, Peter van (2006) The Problem of Evil. Oxford Press Inc., New York.

Mackie, J. L (1982) The Miracle of Theism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Morris, Thomas V. (1991) Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. InterVarsity Press.

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86 thoughts on “God’s Omnipotence and Problem of Evil

  1. Only a wholly omnipotent and good God would go as far as continuously creating human beings: first, from the moist soil of the ground (just like all other animals); and secondly, from the breath of his “life-giving Spirit” (his own image) with the capacity of either obedience or disobedience pegged to their privileges specific to the “tree of life”, a.k.a, the cross of Christ.

    Therefore, man is wholly responsible for all his self-inflicted ills!

  2. This is a reply for John. I’ll start it as a new comment line since I really have no interest in saying anything past this, unless by some miracle he actually engages in the discussion he has failed to to this point.

    John,
    As we have been (attempting to) discuss, I said numerous times that I wanted to engage with you on a point by point basis and get down to our foundations before throwing evidence at each other. It is my opinion and experience that if debaters don’t understand each others presuppositions and justifications, all sorts of “evidence” tends to be dismissed outright from both sides. As such, I don’t like to chase rabbit trails of objections that atheists throw at me before I understand where their justification comes from. I have come to see that such justifications for atheism don’t exist (or at least I haven’t seen a good one yet) that are sufficient to ground morality, logic, and most importantly knowledge. As such, it is my position that whenever an atheist throws evidence onto the table, they are doing so before justifying how they can come to know anything, how such things can be “right” or “wrong”, and how they know that their own reasoning processes are valid.
    Now John, let’s be clear: You have attempted to give me a justification for how morality comes about. Actually you have given me two (that’s right, I’ve read every word you’ve written – please return the favor as you’ve clearly missed the bulk of my last two comments), and they are both insufficient to justify how you can come to conclude anything is moral or immoral.

    John, I want to go through your arguments, as they have been plentiful, and address them each in turn. You have made it abundantly clear to me that you do not want to engage in fair debate and at least provide a justification for what you believe before throwing various internet sites at me and demanding I read them.
    It is with much reluctance I even continue, as any of my objections, you will simply dismiss by using your own knowledge claims (which are yet unjustified), and your own reasoning (which you have yet to prove is valid on your own worldview). Given this, I will move forward, give a response to what you have stated, but we must do so under the assumption of my worldview, since I will be giving a reasoned defense with knowledge claims, and your worldview cannot back them up.

    Without further ado, let’s get started:

    In your last comment, you asked me to name one unsubstantiated claim you’ve made. Here is a list:

    1. “Don’t flatter yourself… I’m anti-childish-nonsense, not specifically anti-Christian” (6.12-1:43).

    (a) This is just unnecessary to the debate. There’s no reason to use such scathing rhetoric in order to make your point nothing I said here was for self-flattery. I was trying to actually engage you, and you completely dismissed what I said, and ignored my questions. (b) This implies that Christianity is childish nonsense and (c) you have yet to back any of that statement up. I’ve seen this as common for you. You simply presuppose your naturalism on no basis and declare that Christianity is childish nonsense. I know you’ve made objections you think are valid to allow your false belief to continue, but I’ll address those soon.

    2. “I know slavery is morally detestable for the same reasons (I suspect) you know it’s abhorrent” (6.12-0:50).

    It’s funny you should say this, since it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve asked you numerous times on what grounds you have any capability to determine right from wrong on your own worldview, to which you responded something about chaos and living species and a citation of close DNA-relative species showing cooperation (more on these below). I already stated that morality comes from the Character of God, so if you concede that we know that slavery is wrong for the same reasons, I should rejoice that you are now a theist.

    3. “you claim the bible is your sole source of morality. Fine. That would mean its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Correct?”(6.11-22:55).

    Correct? Well… no. I’ve already addressed this issue, but I did say I was going to give you a list. As I stated, it is not the Bible that is the foundation for morality, but the Character of God. Since we are all created in His image, we are all imbued with a moral sense of right or wrong. As such, your argument here was a misrepresentation of what I stated, which you claimed to refute.

    4. “Seems you don’t like Occam’s razor and would prefer to simply complicate something that’s really not that complicated” (6.11-22:04).

    I don’t mind Occam’s razor, but I find it funny you resort to a logical argument without showing how your reasoning is valid. Nevertheless, we’re operating under my worldview…
    I’m not trying to make things complicated, John, I’m trying to simplify them. I am trying to get down to the bare bones of what each of us believe so we can at least understand each other. You’ve refused to do so, and instead you say things like this, which insult my intelligence as a philosopher, and are completely off-topic.

    5. “So, you have a chance to man up and answer the questions, or do, as I suspect you will do, evade them once again” (6.11-22:04).

    Man up? I’ve been responding to you this whole time. Do you honestly see me as some afraid little person hoping that you’ll stop responding to me so I can just go about my way? Hardly. This is another blatant attempt that you make to discredit my character while doing the exact same thing you accuse me of doing.

    6. “So, here we are: you claim the bible is your sole source of morality” (6.11-22:04).

    Nope. As I’ve already stated, God’s character is.

    7. “A lot of words just to say you can’t (or won’t) answer my questions. / Interesting… Although it doesn’t surprise me” (6.11-21:04).

    I was a bit baffled by this one. My whole statement was telling you that I wanted to get down to our foundational presuppositions before examining evidence, which I still think is a fair way to do debate for reasons I’ve already mentioned. This whole statement goes to misrepresent everything that I stated in the previous comment.

    So that does it for unsubstantiated claims. Feel free to pick one to go off of, as you only asked for one.
    ———-

    Let’s move on to the next statement you made in your last comment:

    “[1] As far as this thread went you were the one who made the claim (morality ONLY comes from the Middle Eastern god of the bible) and I demonstrated that that notion was fundamentally wrong.

    [2] I did so by providing documented experimentation (repeatable and peer reviewed) which proves a sense of fair play (empathy) is naturally occurring,

    [3] and by using your own bible to demonstrate the fallacy of the original statement.

    [4] Your reaction to that was quite typical: you played victim, claiming you were being attacked, yet all I did was present facts which you could not counter” (6.12-10:38, paragraph breaks mine).

    Four statements here require 4 responses:

    1. You have not demonstrated that this was wrong at all. While you did use your “documented experimentation”, you also tried to discredit the foundation of Divine morality (I applaud you, attacking foundations rather than derivative claims, that’s what I’ve been doing, but apparently its wrong for me to do it) by stating that Yahweh was part of the Canaanite pantheon. Let’s address that issue here and get to the experimental evidence you provided with the next point.

    Your argument against Yahweh on the grounds that He was initially a Canaanite deity has many flaws. Allow me to list them:

    A. Religious practice in the Ancient Near East was comprised of regional and clan deities, rather than a Hellenistic “pantheon” style of worship.
    To mention that Yahweh was part of the Canaanite “Pantheon” shows your ignorance of ancient religion. Regional deities were prevalent in the Ancient Near East, and gods were worshiped as gods of their own particular sphere of influence. There was absolutely no kind of pantheon, where all people believed in all gods and worshiped them all or a particular kind. This came about later with the Grecco-Roman era.
    Furthermore, you have failed to show that such a “pantheon” exists, let alone give any argument to back up anything you wrote about it.

    B. To assume that because an inscription stating Yahweh was part of the Canaanite tradition means that it is true is a massive assumption with many flaws.
    First, by choosing to believe this archaeological evidence over all other archaeological evidence shows a massive confirmation bias on your part. Many times you have been presented with archaeological evidence on this blog (Roy jumps to mind), but you dismiss that evidence, most of which is presented in peer-reviewed journals, but you accept this evidence which is from a bias site (more on that below).

    C. Your research has shown an error in being able to even match Canaanite religious tradition. Ashera is
    absolutely not the mother of Yahweh in the Canaanite tradtion, but his wife. As such, your ridiculous rhetorical comments regarding an Oedipal complex are 100% baseless.
    For more information, you can read _Did God Have a Wife_, a book by a controversy-loving author by the name of William G. Denver. He examines this syncretism.

    D. Every piece of evidence you sited was from an extremely biased source that had many problems with it.
    First of all, the site’s name (stopthereligiousright.org) should give anyone an indication that they are a reactionary group who has one goal in mind: stopping the religious right. As such, an objective look and search for truth is going to be about as difficult to find on that sight as on Fox News TV.
    Secondly, the site doesn’t even support your claims. I searched for some articles that followed any of what you said, and I didn’t turn up much of anything. Perhaps if you could give me a more specific .html link I could investigate the matter more thoroughly.
    Lastly, the site doesn’t even offer bibliographies or sources. Now, John, this is beneath you. You seem to pride yourself on peer-reviewed sources and citing easily accessible, valid information. I’m sorry to say, this site contains none.

    E. The Canaanites recognizing the existence of Yahweh shouldn’t be surprising. A number of reasons for this could be:
    1. The Jew’s religious tradition influenced the Canaanites
    2. The language of Canaan and Israel were similar in their Semitic origins. These two presentations of Yahweh may have the same name, and be different deities entirely.
    3. Your interpretation could be correct

    In all honesty, I think that both 2 & 3 are very improbable. There is very little to back up any of the claim that you have made without adopting a blind-faith based on a confirmation bias.

    2. I already addressed this point, and this “peer-reviewed” article does nothing to answer my question, which I’ve told you already. Here are the flaws with you using this as your argument:

    A. A sense of cooperation is an example of morality, not a source, so the entire primate experiment is useless to answer the question.

    B. The other argument you gave was that “No social creature benefits for chaos, and that explains the core of morality” (6.11-12:32). Question: How does that explain anything having to do with morality?
    This argument makes the assumption that if there is a lack of benefit, necessarily the solution will arise due to natural processes. How is that even possibly the case? I’ll grant you evolution because I see nothing wrong with it, but even assuming an evolutionary theory, that explains that a sense of illusory morality could come about, but it does nothing to show how it got started. Further, if morality is a illusory byproduct of evolution, there’s no reason we should assume that it is accurate for anything other than cooperation, yet we see instances of moral decisions that are not based in cooperation at all.

    All of this goes to show that you have not answered my question of moral justification at all. This is why I’ve kept asking you. I will ask you again:

    On what grounds can you claim that your moral reasoning is valid?

    You simply have failed to answer that. Cooperation among primates and the inconvenience of chaos does absolutely nothing to help you know that your morality is valid. At best, you can know that it is there (which is still a gross problem for atheism, but we’ll get there if you can ever answer my initial question).

    3. Howso? By showing a few statements that use the word “slavery”? I already addressed this issue, which you conveniently ignored with your last statement. I’ll repeat myself: The slavery of the Ancient Near East and the Slavery of seventeenth century Europe and Antebellum America was not the same thing at all. You have equivocated on the term of slavery, and as such, your entire argument is invalid.
    As it stands, you have not used the Bible to disprove its own descriptions of morality. And this is all assuming the fact that you can actually ground your own moral experience on anything valid and substantial. Remember, this entire discussion has needed to continue on the grounds of my worldview, as you refuse to justify yours.

    4. Ah, yes, call me the victim. That’s marvelous. I have not played any victim card, John. I have simply asked you to justify yourself in order for a rational debate to happen. As I have stated numerous times, I don’t see the point in throwing evidence at one another until we understand one another. You have disagreed with that statement, thrown evidence at me, and claim victory when I try to keep you on task with engaging in rational debate. Sorry, but I fail to see how I’m playing victim.

    Finally, as for the quote you gave at the end of your last comment, it’s mere opinion, and completely irrelevant.
    ———-

    So there we have it John. You claim that I cannot respond to you at all, yet I have done so.
    Remember, I told you that I could engage in debate, and I have displayed my ability and willingness now to do so.

    Before we move forward, I’ll ask you that you at least try to engage with me and give a justification for how you know that your (a) knowledge, (b) reasoning, and (c) morality is valid.
    If, and until, you do that. I will not address any of your other points.

    I hope that you simply do not dismiss everything I have stated here, but if you want to continue arguing evidence, I will not do so. You may then have the last word. If you do wish to have a rational discussion, please actually answer the questions I have been asking you. If you have been irritated that I have “avoided” questions, it seems rather hypocritical to do the same to me.

    I’m just looking for a fair and open discussion, John. If you don’t want to have one, I suggest you walk away from your keyboard.

    Until next time,
    Theologetics

  3. This should succinctly demonstrate the fallaciousness of this rather silly claim –
    ” Exodus 14:27- Egyptians chase Israelites into the parted sea.
    The 3-piece Grave Stele of Mycenae actually shows Egyptians on chariots chasing unarmed people into
    a parted body of water, with the people emerging on high ground and the Egyptians being drowned in the
    last stele.”
    And all it took was two clicks on Google.
    Good grief, reading these Christians comments is like reading ”évidence”’ for Noah’s Ark from Ken Ham. Utterly nonsensical.

    http://www.romesburg.com/exodus/

  4. I believe you need to examine the meaning of subjectivity a little more. Is your opinion your own constructed influenced by your moral ethics, or do you in fact rely on your own opinion solely? Either way your opinion is still subjective as is anyone’s. Just because you think something is morally wrong or incorrect does not mean that it is for anyone else. What I advocate is neither here nor there, it is merely an opinion, a view, my perception. You are obviously a clever person, clever enough to see the obvious in the meaning of subjectivity.

    • Thank you Ishaiya. I do know the meaning of subjectivity. I know that we all have opinions, but the questions is which opinions align with reality. If society X believe raping and torturing of little children, then I think they are wrong. Raping and torturing of little children is objectively wrong as 2 + 2 = 3.

      We do have perception, views and opinions, but what matters is there truthfulness or falsity. Let me know you thoughts.

      • Reality is a funny thing, you see it doesn’t exist outside of your perception of it, and you cannot prove that it does without perceiving it and thus formulating an opinion about it. We all make judgements about what we believe to be ‘truthful’ or ‘false’, but just because I might think that you are wrong or deluded, does not in fact mean that you are. It is an opinion. The man who rapes a woman and believes that his actions are justified is not wrong in his own eyes. It’s very difficult to make people do things the don’t want to do, whatever their underlying motivation. The woman who is raped is not necessarily morally ‘incorrupt’. There are no good and bad outcomes, just outcomes. People respond to what they are afraid of, and through that construct beliefs about good and evil. There is no generic moral rule that applies to us all, and if anyone here thinks there is then you really have misunderstood the point of your existence. Know yourself, and make sure you know yourself well before you decide to project judgement onto your world.
        There is no dilemma, no quandary, just you and your own shadows.

    • If morality is subjective, then why should Prayson be required to reexamine his existing view on subjectivity? Unless you appeal to some standard outside your own subjectivity, there’s no reason why he should listen to you. If you do appeal to such a thing, then you concede that morality is more than objective. Either way, if you truly hold to moral subjectivity, there is absolutely no reason to listen to anything you have to say that anyone else should, or needs to, do.

        • Well, not quite.
          You see, I have an objective standard of morality, and as such, when I examine moral claims, I compare them to a standard outside my own opinion or view. As a moral objectivist, I have a firm foundation to make moral judgements about the world around me.

          That is quite different from the contrary, namely, subjectivism. The subjectivist can only view morality through the lens that they are their own ultimate authority on morality and everyone else is for themselves. This leads to the absurdity that nothing is actually universally wrong, but simply different from others’ opinions.

          As such, when you say regarding my previous objection that it “must” apply to my view through your eyes, you are contradicting your own view. On a subjective view, I _must _ do absolutely nothing unless I seem it necessary. When you say that others must do things, or make moral judgements about anything other than yourself, you borrow from my worldview in order to do so.

          • I disagree, but then I hasten a guess that our world views differ greatly. Objectivism is a myth, a convenient way of not accepting that your interpretation of events is yours alone, and that nothing actually exists outside of it. You are ultimately responsible for your actions and your thoughts and the way that you react to the world within your field of perception. Contradictions abound, you are no more right than I. Our views are just different. I borrow nothing I only create through choice, as do you.

          • Thanks for the reply. I’ll do my best to address each of your points. If I have mistaken your argument, please let me know so we’re on the same page. Here goes:

            “I hasten a guess that our world views differ greatly.”

            – I would agree.
            —–

            “Objectivism is a myth,”

            -On what grounds do you make this assertion?
            —–

            “…a convenient way of not accepting that your interpretation of events is yours alone, and that nothing actually exists outside of it.”

            -If by “objectivism” here you strictly mean “moral objectivism” then I would have to disagree with you on the grounds that I am not the final authority of what I deem moral in my life. Regardless of what I base my objectivity on (for the record: The God of the Bible), this is outside of my own view, and my interpretation of morality is certainly not my own.
            Furthermore, if by “objectivism” you mean all forms of objectivism vs. subjectivism (morality, truth, logic, etc.) then we need to have a much different dialogue.
            —–

            “You are ultimately responsible for your actions and your thoughts and the way that you react to the world within your field of perception.”

            -Responsible to whom?
            —–

            “Contradictions abound, you are no more right than I. Our views are just different. I borrow nothing I only create through choice, as do you.”

            -A number of things to be said here:
            1. If I am no more right than you, are we either both right or both wrong?
            If we are both right, then you contradict the laws of logic and thus make an absurd claim. Non-contradiction is absolutely binding to all logic and to say that two antithetical statements are both equally right is logically absurd.
            If we are both wrong, there must be some third option out there that is correct, and in any event, that means that your claims to subjectivism are wrong.
            2. If contradictions abound (though I don’t know what you mean by this – contradictions in general, or contradictions within objectivism?), you state in the very next sentence that contradictions are aparently not a problem for you (as stated from point #1). Given that, if contradictions abound, on your worldview, so what?
            3. I agree our views are different, but for you to claim that mine is wrong, you have to borrow from the objectivism that I hold to in order to say that. As such, you borrow from my worldview. In a world of subjectivism, there is no right or wrong, there is only different. The mere fact that we disagree, and that you disagree with me is proof that you think there is something wrong with my statements. If you disagree, what is your ultimate standard of truth? I ask because unless you have a standard of truth, you can’t measure anything against it.

            I look forward to hearing from you.

          • “…I am not the final authority of what I deem moral in my life.”
            Why not? And by that I mean why wouldn’t you? It is only you that is living your life, making the decisions you make. No-body else can do that for you. The responsibility for the choices you make in life are yours alone. We differ in our views because you do not agree with that. I don’t think anything with regard to your views because it has no impact on who I am and the choices that I make. So to believe that I am telling you that you are wrong is your own self judgement, not mine. I respect your views and the reasons behind them, whatever they may be, but they are not mine. It is difficult to believe in the subjective nature of your reality when you believe that you are not in control of it.

          • Thanks for the reply.
            It seems that what I deem as objective fact you observe as opinion, and if that is the case, further discussion may get difficult, but regardless, I’d like to at least offer you a glimpse of my reasoning:
            1. I am not the final authority on my life even though I am the one living it because I did not create myself, and I am not responsible for my life being given to me. God is.
            2. My responsibility for the choices I make is not simply to me, but also to my God. Since that responsibility exists, I cannot claim to be responsible only to myself, as it would ignore God.

            You stated that you don’t think anything with regards to my vies because they don’t impact you. What if they did? If I was my own moral agent and declared that it would be morally good to murder you, how would you object? Or would you object?

            Is there any set of reasons behind my beliefs that you would not respect? If so, what would they be?

          • When you have been faced with death as often as I, life acquires a certain sharp focus and what becomes important is happiness above all else, and to me that means discarding all negative and limiting beliefs. I alone am in control of my happiness and wellbeing. Negative beliefs create negative situations, simple as that. For me not being responsible for my own actions and thoughts is a negative belief and I try not to indulge it because it does not serve me well.
            In answer to your question, if you decided to murder me then it would have been my choice to be murdered by you. I create my own reality so therefore I accept all responsibility for what happens within it. It hasn’t been an easy thing to accept given my cultural upbringing and my own personal history, but it has been incredibly liberating and empowering. Why would I want to go back to being subservient to someone or something else’s will? It would be absurd.

        • No worries for jumping in John, I was expecting you.

          If you read my above statement, you’ve already learned that my objective standard from morality comes from the God of the Bible.
          Particularly, it comes from the character of God, from which all morality comes from.

          I am going to assume you take issue with that, but before we can have meaningful discussion on our differences of moral ontology or epistemology, I would like to know your basis. That way we can at least understand where each other come from.

          I expect I should hear from you soon. Thanks.

          • By the “god of the bible” you mean the Middle Eastern deity, Yahweh, right? Are you aware that particular god was at one-time a lowly character inhabiting the 1st millennium Canaanite pantheon? He was a member of the Divine Family; just one of seventy children fathered by El (whose name, not Yahweh’s, is given to Israel: Yisra’el) and his wife, the mother goddess, Asherah. It was only in the 7th Century BCE (following the fall of Mamlekhet Yisra’el, the Kingdom of Israel) that he started to get a facelift in a period of monolatry and he started to be identified with the father, El…. Then he married his mother! This fact is revealed at two 7th Century sites (Kuntilet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Kom) where Hebrew inscriptions were found that read ‘YHWH and his Asherah’, ‘YHWH Shomron and his Asherah’, and, ‘YHWH Teman and his Asherah.’ Alone, these sites are proof-positive Yahweh was a pantheon deity; a menial one no less, who was slowly redecorated by a people undergoing a refurbishment of their own. Oedipal complexes to one side, in the post-Exilic period (after exposure to monotheistic Zoroastrianism in Babylon) monolatry gave way to Judaic monotheism where the Canaanite pantheon was thrown out and the “sons of God” were called upon to worship Yahweh as the Divine King (Psalm 29:2).

            Sorry to say, but Monotheism emerged amongst the Israelites 1,000 years later than alleged, and YHWH was nothing but a side character in an off-off Broadway divine play whose role was re-written by men looking to add a little supernatural spice to their geopolitical ambitions.

            If you doubt any of this the archeological evidence is all listed here in a series of papers written by leading Israeli archeologists.

            http://www.stopthereligiousright.org/exodus.htm

            So, as it stands, your idea of a god is completely wrong…. Which kind of messes up with your objective moral truth. I would, however, be interested to hear you views on slavery, as that is sanctioned in the bible.

          • Apologies, forgot to answer your question. Simply put, i can recognise what is right and what is wrong without the assistance of some external guide or threat. It’s an extension of basic empathy applied to all living creatures and the planet as a whole.

          • How exactly can you recognize what is “right” or “wrong”
            Obviously, you did not come up with the concepts yourself. So unless you’re an ethical egoist, your morality must come from somewhere. So again, I’ll ask, on what foundation do you base your morality?

            How exactly do you know you can recognize the existence of right or wrong without the assistance of something outside yourself?

          • There’s no need to get philosophical here. I can understand why you try that angle, you must to justify your god, but it’s unnecessary. Empathy is a natural attachment to all higher order creatures, and morality is simply a more complex extension of that truism. Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal at Emory University demonstrated this in their experiments with capuchin monkeys who clearly understood the fundamental nature of fair play. Educate yourself on these experiments…. You’ll be astounded. Link below.

            http://www.livescience.com/27637-monkeys-shun-selfish-others.html

            No social creature benefits for chaos, and that explains the core of morality. Specific cases of right and wrong come with education. As a child I remember littering… tossing lolli papers away. Education taught me that was wrong. I learnt it sullied the environment and I altered my behaviour accordingly.

            Now, your bible has just one piece of moral advice which is actually useful: the so-called Golden Rule. Are you aware this is plagiarized? The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BC): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, (1780 BC) and in Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The Greeks were working it as well: “Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him,” Pittacus (640–568 BC).

            If your bible was morally true shouldn’t it have mentioned this fact… or is plagiarism morally acceptable to the Abrahamic religions? I, personally, consider plagiarism morally wrong. Do you?

            Now that we have that sorted you’ve conveniently ignored my question regarding slavery. Your bible (the source, you say, of your morality) sanctions slavery. Do you support slavery? If not, why not?

            You’ve also apparently ignored the fact that I’ve demonstrated to you that the Middle Eastern deity you worship is not the god you thought it was. Tell me, is your choice to ignore this fact “wrong”?

            It would be appreciated if you answered all questions and not just pick the one’s you feel like answering.

          • John,

            Allow me to make a few observations, and a few points before we continue:

            Observations:
            1. You are, no doubt, the King of Red Herrings. The reason I’m not responding to every single point you have made is because you have yet to make a moderately relevant one. More on this in my points below.

            2. Trying to paint me as immoral and unintellectual by saying referring to slavery and implying I am dishonest for not chasing your wayward, shot-gunned points from your biased website is simply not a proper way to debate. Furthermore, the idea that I somehow _need _ to justify “my God” with philosophy is ridiculous. if not through a philosophical discussion, how should we reason? Stop trolling and engage in rational discourse please.

            3. You seem to love throwing out links to websites that either aren’t specific enough to the topic at hand or have way to much information to pick through, rather than just arguing your point. Even worse, you have criticized every person for not reading through your material and providing a point-by-point response. This is nonsense; many of us have better things to do than debate on a blog all day, myself included.

            Points:

            1. I would be more than happy to engage with you regarding what you have brought up, but, as I mentioned earlier, I want to know what your basis for your claims is. The way I see it, you have given a very weak justification for your morality which is based loosely upon a subjective byproduct of neo-Darwinian evolution and/or societal relativism. My question wasn’t about origin, but justification. How do you know that your moral code is accurate? How can you justify calling anything right or wrong? And don’t claim that you don’t make such claims, I’ve already seen your critique of the Bible.

            2. The reason I ask you to justify these things is because if you can’t or won’t, there’s no point in talking because you have no foundation, and thus anything you say is irrelevant. If you can justify your claims to morality (also knowledge, reason, consciousness, aesthetics), then we can have a meaningful discussion while fully undos tanking the lens each of us views the world through. It is nonsensical for you to demand my attention to your many many objections if you yourself can’t even justify how you know anything, let alone what is right or wrong.

            My gut tells me you will now move either to ad hominem attacks, unjustified demands for me to address your articles, or simple dismissal of my request for rational discussion by calling me “delusional” and asking me to keep my beliefs to myself. All of which won’t accomplish anything.
            It is my hope you prove me wrong.

            Until then,
            -Theologetics

          • You clearly didn’t read what I said then.
            I’d be glad to answer you, but it would be pointless to do so until you engage a little bit.

            I don’t want to have us throw evidence at one another, just to have it dismissed by our presuppositions.

            Sadly, this was the reinserted I was expecting from you, John. You never want to actually engage people in rational discussion, you just want to “be right” and argue. Sorry, but I won’t play games with you if you insist on being a troll. I will, however, gladly discuss any topic you choose, so long as you justify how your worldview can account for knowledge, reason, morality, consciousness, aesthetics, and logic.

          • What are you blabbering on about? I gave you a perfectly good explanation for where morality comes from, with experimentation to prove it! What more do you want? You asked, I answered. Seems you don’t like Occam’s razor and would prefer to simply complicate something that’s really not that complicated.

            So, you have a chance to man up and answer the questions, or do, as I suspect you will do, evade them once again.

            So, here we are: you claim the bible is your sole source of morality. Fine. That would mean its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Correct?

            So, do you support slavery?

          • You gave me an internet link to an experiment regarding primate cooperation.
            John, I asked you to give me a reason why, on your worldview, that your morality is valid. Simply showing that it can somewhat cross over to other species hardly shows the source and justification of it, just the breadth of its impact.

            And once again, you say that I am dodging questions. That’s simply not the case, and for you to continuously say so is further proof that you don’t care one bit for rational discussion. As I stated before, your point is an interesting one, and I’d love to talk with you about it, but I will not feed your trolling comments until you develop a sound and reasonable defense for your own claims. There’s no point in debating if we’re just going to throw out evidence and have it dismissed because of our interpretations. Once we find some common ground, we can reason from there.
            If you don’t want to engage, then don’t. But that doesn’t mean that you should continue to belittle me for reasons that I’ve already addressed and continue to claim that I am somehow not trying to engage.

            I am trying to engage, and I would simply like you to do the same thing.
            So give me an actual justification for morals, knowledge, and logic and we can at least know where each other stands.

            How, on naturalism, can you claim to know anything, claim that there is rationality in the universe, and how can anything be “right” or “wrong”.
            So far, you’ve simply claimed morality is a social constraint, which goes to prove nothing in regards to something actually being moral or immoral.

          • How many times do i have to repeat myself?

            No social creature benefits from chaos. A moral code, a sense of right and wrong, of good and bad behaviour is naturally occurring…. hence the evidence i presented to back up that statement.

            Can you present evidence and experimentation to back up your claim? Here, i can help you: to do so you’d have to demonstrate to me (by providing evidence) that every single culture not exposed to the bible was morally corrupt. Can you provide me that information…. I think not.

            So, again, you claim the bible is your sole source of morality. Fine. That would mean its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Correct?

            So, the question is (for the millionth time) do you support slavery? Yes or no?

          • 1. You want evidence? So you are the final authority of truth? That’s comical.

            2. How would it follow that for cultures to be moral that they must have access to the Bible? I never said that was my view. I stated that God was the source of morality. All people have the capability of being moral because we are created in the image of God.
            You’ve attacked a straw man here. I never claimed that in order to be moral that one must obey the Bible. I said that only through the God of the Bible can actions have any meaning.
            Even if I did appease your straw-manned, unwarranted, and undeserved demands, I would simply say that ALL people are depraved, and thus regardless of Biblical exposure, people are equally depraved. Through God’s grace, we can have than depravity removed.
            As such, it would follow that, since all are immoral, cultures without access to the Bible are immoral. This is really a non-starter.

            3. Just to reiterate, it’s not the Bible that permeates all culture (at least not yet), but God, whose influence cannot be escaped.

            4. Another issue I take with your trolling is that after every statement, or web link, you always include words like “can you back that up? I think not…” or, “you’ll be amazed”.

            Question: Is it possible that you could be wrong about everything you claim to know?

            If yes, then it follows you know nothing.
            If no, then it follows that you know everything.
            Since if you don’t know everything, something you don’t know could contradict everything you do know.
            Therefore, in order to know anything, you must know everything, or have revelation from someone who does.

            That’s my justification.
            Now I want yours. I’ll let the morality issue go to the side for a minute since you clearly don’t understand me.
            How, on atheism can you justify your knowledge. Answer me that, and I’ll address your ridiculous claim about Elohim and the Canaanite “pantheon”.
            But please, don’t steal from my worldview to justify yours. That bugs me.

          • I will answer, since you seem to not care about respecting rational conversation, but bear in mind, until you can justify where your knowledge and morality comes from, we must proceed under the assumption of my worldview.

            No, I do not.
            But here’s a question for you: why, on your worldview is slavery wrong?

          • You do not support slavery, but the Middle Eastern deity you idolize does (Lev.25:44-6, Exod.21:2-8, Eph.6:5, Col.3:22) and even gives specific instruction on how to deal with slaves (Exod.21:7-8, Luke.12:42-8, Exod.21:20-1, Deut.15:17).

            So, by your own admission, your stated single source of morality is in error. This is a demonstrable fact. If it weren’t true slavery would be acceptable behaviour as sanctioned by your god. That is to say, slavery would be morally true in a timeless continuum. As it is not acceptable it is clear your claim of morality coming from the god of the bible is entirely groundless and deserves about as much attention and respect as unicorns (which are also mentioned in your bible: Isaiah 34:7).

            To answer your question: I know slavery is morally detestable for the same reasons (I suspect) you know it’s abhorrent.

          • And this is why I didn’t answer this question…
            Because it is one of the biggest anti-Christian red herrings.
            The whole argument that the Bible endorses slavery is a blatant equivocation on the word Slavery.

            This is a common problem when the Western world reads the Bible: we put our own meaning into it.
            You assume the world “slave” means the same as a slave from Antebellum America, or 18th century Europe… It is not.
            Try reading more into the historical context.

            Now it’s your turn:
            Is is possible that you could be wrong about everything you claim to know? See my last comment for a more descriptive form of the question.

          • Thanks John, but I think you’ve made enough unsubstantiated claims for one thread. I’m sure I’ll see you in others…

          • Please, name one unsubstantiated claim I’ve made. I’m at pains to avoid rash statements and always be able to back up what I say, so if I’ve erred I’d like to know so I can rectify it.

            As far as this thread went you were the one who made the claim (morality ONLY comes from the Middle Eastern god of the bible) and I demonstrated that that notion was fundamentally wrong. I did so by providing documented experimentation (repeatable and peer reviewed) which proves a sense of fair play (empathy) is naturally occurring, and by using your own bible to demonstrate the fallacy of the original statement. Your reaction to that was quite typical: you played victim, claiming you were being attacked, yet all I did was present facts which you could not counter.

            I’ll leave you with two thoughts from Einstein which I’d urge you to consider very, very carefully (“Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press):

            “The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action.”

            “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

  5. I want to prevent evil; I can prevent evil; I do not prevent evil.
    I do not prevent evil because… I don’t know… evil gives me more likes on the giant Facebook page in the sky: religion; perhaps suffering now will lead to goodness later…
    If the former is true, I am a self-obsessed self-aggrandising capricious Being who insists He is benevolent (despite it evidently being untrue). If the latter is true, I could find a way around that issue, and achieve the goodness now without the suffering… if I can’t do that I am failing to perfectly circumnavigate the problems with the natural world I created; I am not omnipotent.

    • If you have read Inwagen’s example, then you would notice that Alice wanted to prevent her mother’s pain and suffering, she could prevent, but did not because she had reasons not to. Did that make Alice self-obsessed self-aggrandizing capricious person? I do not think so.

      • We are talking about a perfect Being, fear of being caught and punished do not come into it.
        Neither does uncertainty–it is conceivable that Alice was unsure whether what she wanted to do was actually right. God should not have that issue either…

      • Nowhere in Inwagen’s example is Alice described as impotent and all benevolent, it would be interesting to see how you compare Alice’s case to a god who is said to be omni in capabilities or do you leave out these conveniently?

      • I’m replying out of place here… I want to pick up where I left off and add something to the conversation you are having with Makagutu.

        The analogy is a false one. Any reason Alice might not commit euphenasia for her mother is a reason we cannot fairly extend to a God (without wildly changing the nature or identity of God… which you are insistent is not the issue here).

        Alice maybe morally uncertain: she’s not sure her idea is actually a moral one.
        Alice maybe scared of being caught: actions like this in the human sphere have personal responses.
        Alice maybe hopeful that her mother will recover, regardless of what her intellect tells her: Alice cannot tell the future and may be optimistic.
        Alice may not know what she’s doing: she may make the issue worse or not achieve anything at all.

        Are you happy that the God you are defending maybe morally uncertain, scared, ignorant of the future or unsure what It’s doing?

    • in the analogy you give reasons why Alice was unable to act and then you say god would have similar reasons for not acting whereas god, if one were to exist as defined by you, wouldn’t have this limitations.

      • No, not at all. The analogy was to show that even though Alice had the power, desire and ability to prevent her mother from suffering, she did not act according to her desire because of other reasons that override her desire to prevent her mother from suffering.

        If God has reason(s) not to prevent evil and suffering, just like Alice, those reason(s) would override His desire to prevent it. God allowing evil, just like Alice allowing her mother to suffer, does not show that God is indifferent, nor does He not desire to prevent evil, nor does He lack ability to prevent evil.

  6. Suffering is only evil if your standard of good is hedonism. Though we do know that good can come out of suffering (opportunity to realize your mistakes, growing relationships, etc.) and we also know that those who attempt a hedonistic life ends up empty.

    I see where you’re going with the argument and I like most of it. You’re right on when you say that being impotent doesn’t follow allowing evil. I would just critique the point when you say, “Two obvious candidates for such reasons are: she thinks it would be morally wrong; she is afraid that her act would be discovered, and that she would be prosecuted for murder.”

    He can’t not do something because He “thinks it would be morally wrong.” He is the Authority. And He can’t be afraid of being prosecuted. He is the Prosecutor. Whatever He says is good is objectively Good. That’s the only reason we have sufficient ontic grounds that good and evil are objective values.

    I think an even better answer to the problem of pain is Richard Swinburne’s “Providence Argument” (which leapfrogs off of C. S. Lewis’s answer). (To put it in a nutshell,) God allows evil and suffering to exist because it allows free will. Free will allows true love. And true love is a greater good.

    • Hej David. Thank you for a good observation. Inwagen was comparing God to Alice in a way that she had the ability, desire and opportunity to prevent pain and suffering, but did not because she had other reasons not to.

      The analogy is not with identity and authority of Alice and God, but reason(s), whatever they are, not to prevent pain and suffering. His argument shows that even in God has the ability, desire and opportunity to prevent evil, it does not follow that God will prevent it.

      The problem I have with Swinburne and Plantinga’s libertarian free will defense is, not so much philosophical, but theological. It seems God as revealed in Scripture does override creature’s libertarian freedom. E.g. Jonah’s story.( Another account Genesis 20.)

      Let me know your thoughts.

      • Ah, yes I forgot that you’re of the Reformed standing. That makes more sense.

        Personally, I loved almost every Reformed Christian I come in contact with because of how sound their theology is in just about every case. You would be a great example.

        The key problem I have with Reformed theology (and of course there are vast degrees of it, so please don’t think I’m grouping you) is its corrosion of free will.

        I’ve stated it here, but in short I’ll just say that the Scriptures always state God’s will for us to turn from our ways, but He never forces what isn’t already in our will. In Jonah’s case, he was definitely a prodigal, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t trust in God. Even while on the ship headed south he said, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” In Matthew 23:37, Jesus shows that opportunity that God gave to Israel (echoing 2 Chronicles 7:14), yet didn’t take. In my view, the free will defense is sound philosophically and theologically.

        I see what you’re saying with Alice analogy (sorry for the misinterpretation)–God does have His reasons even if He would not have us know it (as with Job).

        Sorry this post got a little off topic. In either case, we both believe God has His reasons. I just believe that it is valid to say that reason was to enable free will.

  7. Why wait? I would guess that God has many reasons for waiting. However, He did give us one very good reason for waiting, found in 2 Peter 3:9, “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.” Elsewhere in the Bible, Go reveals that there is a specific number, those who are His elect, who must come into the Kingdom of heaven before the gates of heaven are closed forever and evil is excluded. That’s a good enough reason for me!

  8. It’s an interesting question, but I would say it depends on your definition and your interpretation of good and evil, and indeed of god if you believe in such a thing. The concept of good and evil are subjectively human, so if god is not human then why would it be concerned?

    • Thanks Ishaiya for your comment. I dearly value my readers’ inputs. Could you expound more what you meant by “[t]he concept of good and evil” being subjectively human?

      • Well, what is good or evil/bad is subjective in that it is down to personal interpretation, and down to your ability to empathise with others. Whether your views are from personal experience or ‘accepted’ social morals. These concepts just don’t exist outside of the human condition. They are human constructs that are entertained and used by us humans alone.

      • What do you mean, Ishaiya, by personal interpretation? Example if person P interpret event E(holocaust or torturing of a child for fun) as not evil and society S, accepts E as not evil, then P and S are correct in their interpretation?

  9. Prayson, a very interest question indeed! The problem with the question is perhaps the definition of God as omnipotent “being”. God is not any sort of being but rather the fiber that runs through the fabric of the Universe, that exists in everything including us. It is not something “out there” but in here and everywhere.

    Second, evil does not exist per se but is how it is perceived by us. We are given choices, the outcome of those choices can be interpreted sometimes as evil.

    In regarded to your comment that natural disasters are evil…if nobody died or there was no damage because of one of those events are they then not evil? If we choose to build a city in a region that is prone to earthquakes, tornadoes or fires and somebody does die…that’s because of a poor decision on our part.

    • Thanks David for your input. I assumed the notion of God as traditionally understood in Philosophy of Religion and Judeo-Christianity.

      On my comment, I think it is only if we had prior knowledge of nature could be escape some natural disasters, but sometimes we lack that knowledge.

      • (Sorry to jump in here)

        If there existed an omniscient god, then he would have prior knowledge of the disasters. And if this god were omniscient, he could warn us. But this doesn’t happen – disasters hit believers and non-believers just the same. God never shows up in a church and says “my beloved children, get thee inland because a tsunami is coming tomorrow”. Why not?

  10. The question, “Why would God allow evil?” is interesting to me because I think that it misses the the important fact that God is not the perpetrator of the evil. Better questions would be, why do we allow evil or even, why do we commit evil acts? God has given us the ability to shun evil, yet we cling to it. We commit evil acts on small personal levels and grand global scales. There is no reason to blame or question God for the evil that we do. He has shown us a better way. When my child lies after I have taught him the immorality of lying and the damage that it can do; I am not at fault. Should I sew his mouth closed to prevent any more lies? No, he has been given a choice and will suffer or be blessed by the consequences of his choice.

    Like all human evil, his choices may negatively impact or harm others. God has also provided for those impacted by evil a means to find peace and a long term plan for joy that goes beyond this temporary and very short temporal life.

    • Thanks Nick. The problem would be, even if true that we are perpetrator of evil, that would only explain moral evil. There are natural evil(bad things) that would be left unexplained. Example earthquakes, tsunami and the like.

    • Nick you ignore a very important question here, though Prayson has responded to one bit, why would your god, having foreknowledge create beings whose choices are going to be injurious to themselves or to others? And if your god creates everything, then he is responsible for the evil people commit as an accomplice. You need to respond to these issues first before you can accuse man of being or committing evil.

  11. If your god is morally incapable, wouldn’t it seem logical (even morally necessary) to you for it to inform its “children” of its unwillingness to act?

    • Good question John. If you noted, I contended that simply because God cannot prevent evil, does not necessarily mean He is not able to, not omniscient, since it could be, because of his incapability, namely good has good reasons not to prevent evil.

      It is not logically nor morally necessary for God to inform us about His unwillingness to prevent evil. For Christian, God is believe to bring evil to an end, in what is called the judgement day.

    • The Bible recognizes, allows, and even invites such questions about why we suffer, why there is evil. If you are troubled by the reality of evil, sin and suffering in the world, you are not alone. Read the wailing’s of suffering Job, the laments of prophet Jeremiah, the angry complaints of Habakkuk or Psalm 22; leading to the climax of Jesus’ cry on the cross:“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” You can hardly find any faithful saint who does not wrestle with the why questions. Unlike all other religions, the Bible recognizes, allows, and even invites such questions, as well as gives us the answer.

      A good starting point to understand this – Gods mind and how we tend to be wholly lacking in understanding the WHY, is to study Romans Chapter 9. We were given the answers and can find peace.

      • Hi Roy! Been a while. Hope you are faring well.

        Listen, you might not be aware, but together with the entire archaeological world even conservative Jewish rabbis now openly concede the Pentateuch is nothing but a geopolitical work of fiction commissioned to justify a northern land grab after the fall of Mamlekhet Yisra’el (Kingdom of Israel) in 722 BCE. None of it is real… and monotheism only emerged in Israel in the 5th Century BCE.

        “The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis.” (Rabbi David Wolpe)

        “Defending a rabbi in the 21st century for saying the Exodus story isn’t factual is like defending him for saying the Earth isn’t flat. It’s neither new nor shocking to most of us that the Earth is round or that the Torah isn’t a history book dictated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai,” ( Rabbi Steven Leder )

        “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,” ( Ze’ev Herzog, Tel Aviv University)

        “There is no archaeological evidence for any of it. This is something unexampled in history. They [Judah] wanted to seize control of the territories of the kingdom of Israel and annex them, because, they said, `These territories are actually ours and if you have a minute, we´ll tell you how that´s so.’ The goal was to create a myth saying that Judah is the center of the world, of the Israelite way of life, against the background of the reality of the later kingdom.” (Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology, Tel Aviv University)

        Even Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller concede: “The fact is that not one shred of direct archaeological evidence has been found for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or the 400-plus years the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt. The same is true for their miraculous exodus from slavery.”

        This, of course, raises some pretty ugly problems for your Jesus character who makes clear and specific claims to the existence of the Jewish patriarchs. He names Moses in Matthew, and states eighteen times in John that Abraham existed. Now let’s be brutally honest here; such barefaced testimonies raise some enormously unpleasant credibility problems. It doesn’t speak too highly of a god-man’s authority, intelligence, competence, insight and judgment if he couldn’t distinguish the difference between fairytale and history.

        I just wrote two posts on this matter, but I’ll warn you, the truth will hurt.

        http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/well-this-is-a-little-embarrassing-isnt-it/

        http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/this-is-not-my-beautiful-god-6/

    • Hi John, doing great, blessed in fact.

      I provided a few links to info supporting the fact the Bible is a true record of history at the end of this post but I suppose the bottom line is it is real for those who choose to believe it is real and it is fiction for those who choose to believe it is fiction. The final day, when Messiah returns, will you have the proof you require.

      You mentioned Rabbis David Wolpe who on Passover 2001, Wolpe told his congregation that “the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.” In March 2010, Wolpe backtracked and expounded on his views saying that it was possible that a small group of people left Egypt, came to Canaan, and influenced the native Canaanites with their traditions. He added that the controversy of 2001 stemmed from the fact that Conservative Jewish congregations have been slow to accept and embrace biblical criticism. Conservative rabbis, on the other hand, are taught biblical criticism in rabbinical school.

      Rabbis Steven Leder, another Los Angeles Rabbis and senior Rabbis of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, founded in 1862 as Congregation B’nai B’rith, and is the oldest Jewish congregation in LA. Does he believe in God? Yes.

      Ze’ev Herzog and Israel Finkelstein believe what they do because they haven’t found archaeological evidence of the Exodus, and other narratives of the Bible. “Can’t find” and “Doesn’t exist” are to different things.

      You quoted Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller out of context. Anyone can read his entire article at
      ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta044.html
      This Christian clearly refutes the unbelievers in his article.

      “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

      What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? ” Romans 9

      ancienthistory.about.com/od/amen/a/122710-CW-Archaeological-Evidence-About-The-Story-Of-Abraham-In-The-Bible.htm

      courses.cit.cornell.edu/nes263/student2007/smh72/index.html

      time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,133539,00.html

      • You’re free to believe something known to be a lie, that’s your choice, but just know the science has no agenda.

        “Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” explained one of America’s preeminent archaeologists, Professor William Dever of the University of Arizona.

    • Science has shown us that in nature, life comes only from life and that of its kind, according to the Law of Biogenesis. Again, this fact indicates that a Being outside of nature must exist Who initiated life. This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with atheism and much of today’s pseudo-scientific world which must contend, without scientific support, that life popped into existence from non-life. Rather, this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:11,24 and 2:7 that God created life.

      Science—the Law of Biogenesis and the Laws of Genetics—has shown us that living beings produce other living beings of their own kind. There may be small changes along the way (e.g., beak size, color, size, etc.), but the offspring of a bird is still a bird. The offspring of a fish is still a fish. Therefore, since there is no common ancestor for all living beings from which all species evolved, there must be a supernatural Being Who initially created various kinds of life on Earth. This truth, arrived at through science and deductive reasoning, is not in harmony with the teachings of atheism and much of today’s pseudo-scientific world, which argues against the evidence, that various kinds of living beings can give rise to completely different kinds of living beings. But this truth is in keeping with the Bible, which says in Genesis 1:21 and 1:24-25 that God directed living beings to reproduce after their kind.

      True science is in harmony with true religion. Why would science lie? It does not have a mind of its own. It has no bias or agenda. It can certainly be misrepresented or its findings misinterpreted, but science is not the enemy of true religion. In fact, according to the Bible, God, Himself, instituted the field of science. When God created human beings on day six and told them to “have dominion” over the Earth and “subdue” it (Genesis 1:28), He was commanding mankind to do something that would require extensive scientific investigation and experimentation. If God founded science, why would science be at odds with religion? When God, through His servant Paul, said in Romans 1:20 that His existence and some of His attributes could be learned from His creation, He was putting His stamp of approval on the scientific study of creation. When He said in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “test all things; hold fast what is good,” He was essentially summarizing the scientific method. Bottom line: God founded science. When legitimate scientific findings are interpreted properly and fairly, science supports the Bible and Christianity. It certainly is not at odds with the Bible.

      • Roy, sorry, but you really don’t know your Science.

        in 2009, Dr. Gerald Joyce of the Scripps Research Institute and his graduate student, Tracey Lincoln, pretty much nailed primitive ‘life’ – a progenitor of life if you like – when they developed a molecule composed of nothing but RNA enzymes in a test tube that replicated and evolved, swapping genes for just as long as the conditions were right to do so. Doing what molecules do it Xeroxed itself by using its own basic structure as a scaffolding from which to build new copies from pairs of smaller molecules. Incredibly, when incorrect copies were made mutations arose and the molecule quite happily passed on those changes to the proceeding generation, and so it slowly evolved. Although not technically speaking ‘life’ Joyce and Lincoln’s work was an astonishing in-road into a beautiful albeit strikingly simple process first teased-free by Darwin five generations ago.

        Also in 2009 John Sutherland of the University of Manchester went even further when he successfully cooked up two of the four ribonucleotides found in both RNA and DNA molecules and by doing so created the first stirrings of life on earth. Unlike other researchers before him, Sutherland and his team did not jump right into sugars and nucleobases rather they started first with a host of simpler molecules most likely around in earth’s primordial goo. They diluted the molecules in water, heated the solution, and then allowed it to evaporate so as to replicate sequential changes in conditions which was then irradiated with ultraviolet light; a process which left behind hybrid half-sugar, half-nucleobase molecules. To this residue they again added water, heated it, allowed it evaporate, irradiated it, and repeated the process over and over. Remarkably, with each passing phase the molecules became more and more complex and when phosphates were added in the very last stage Sutherland found himself staring at two ribonucleotides; half a naturally built RNA molecule.
        “My ultimate goal,” said Sutherland, “is to get a living system (RNA) emerging from a one-pot experiment. We can pull this off. We just need to know what the constraints on the conditions are first.”

        Even more recently and perhaps even more remarkably researchers led by Phil Holliger at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge announcedin early months of 2012 they’d successfully made the first synthetic RNA and DNA molecules which they called, XNA: xeno-nucleic acids. They achieved this mind-jarringly colossal leap in constructing artificial life by building synthetic versions of RNA and DNA’s nucleobase ladder rungs. By synthesizing enzymes (what they’ve called, polymerases) they could then bind the XNA molecules to DNA or reverse the process back to a single RNA strand; passing genetic information between the natural and synthetic molecules at will, leading MRC scientist, Victor Pinheiro, to observe “Thus heredity and evolution, two hallmarks of life, are not limited to DNA and RNA.”

    • A lot of words and much to do about what? “Although not technically speaking ‘life…”

      There you go…but nice try John.

      And…“My ultimate goal,” said Sutherland, “is to get a living system (RNA) emerging from a one-pot experiment. We can pull this off. We just need to know what the constraints on the conditions are first.”

      How does any one know what the “constraints on the conditions” were millions of years ago when life supposedly arose from chemical soup?

      And you got to love this…

      “2012 they’d successfully made the first synthetic RNA and DNA molecules which they called, XNA: xeno-nucleic acids. They achieved this mind-jarringly colossal leap in constructing artificial life by building synthetic versions of RNA and DNA’s nucleobase ladder rungs.”

      XNA is not DNA. It does not appear in the natural world. “Life is based on this amazing ability of DNA and RNA to store and propagate information,” said Philipp Holliger. “We have shown that the basic functions of DNA and RNA can be recapitulated with new artificial molecules.”

      He is not trying to confirm the origins of life, or build a human in a test tube. He is attempting. in particular, to created XNA fragments that could bind with great specificity to a molecular target in the HIV virus. The discovery could create a new platform for devising targeted drugs to treat a variety of diseases.

      DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary molecule at the center of our cells. It contains code, in the form of chemical letters A, T, C and G, that tells the body how to make proteins that perform numerous bodily functions such as regulating blood sugar or fighting infections.

      XNAs, or xeno-nucleic acids, maintain the same four-letter chemical code while altering the backbone of the DNA “double helix” molecule to add properties such as acid resistance.

      We know who created the XNA code, care to guess who created the DNA code?

      • Precisely…. the ability to make artificial life is astonishing, to say the least. It means life is really not that complicated, or difficult.

        Roy, keep looking for your god of the gaps. Like i said, it’s your choice. You can ignore the archaeology all you like… it doesn’t make the facts on the ground less real. Rabbis, Roy, Jewish rabbis even admit your book is bunk.

    • Each year a new archaeological discovery substantiates the existence of people, places and events we once knew solely from biblical sources, including the discovery of the Moabite stone in 1868, which mentions numerous places in the Bible, and the discovery of an inscription in 1961 that proves the existence of the biblical figure Pontius Pilate, just to name a few.

      ―I know of no finding in archaeology that‘s properly confirmed which is in opposition to the Scriptures.
      The Bible is the most accurate history textbook the world has ever seen.” Dr Clifford Wilson,
      formerly director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology.

      ―In every instance where the findings of archaeology pertain to the Biblical record, the archaeological
      evidence confirms, sometimes in detailed fashion, the historical accuracy of Scripture. In those instances
      where the archaeological findings seem to be at variance with the Bible, the discrepancy lies with the
      archaeological evidence, i.e., improper interpretation, lack of evidence, etc. — not with the Bible. – Dr.
      Bryant C. Wood, Archaeologist.

      ―There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament
      tradition.‖ – Dr. William F. Albright, premier archaeologist for Institute for Archaeological Research in
      Jerusalem

      In 2005, a Hebrew University archaeologist uncovered a clay seal dated from about 580 BCE
      bearing the name Yehuchal Ben-Sheleimiya, who is identified as a royal envoy and court minister sent by
      King Zedekiah to the prophet Jeremiah (in chapters 37 and 38 of the Bible’s Book of Jeremiah.

      Several years earlier, another circa-580 BCE royal seal was found at the same site. It had the name
      of Gemaryahu, son of Shafan, who is also mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah as a top official in the court
      of King Zedekiah’s predecessor, King Yehoyachim. Another seal found among dozens of others bears the
      name of Azaryahu Ben-Hilkiyahu, a member of a priestly family, who served in the Temple before
      Jerusalem’s destruction, according to I Chronicles 9:10.

      In July 2007 an expert in ancient Babylon discovered a small clay tablet that records a donation of
      gold by “the chief eunuch of King Nebuchadnezzar,” a man named Nabu-sharrussu-ukin. In Jeremiah 39,
      the researcher noted, the man’s name is listed as one of Nebuchadnezzar’s top ministers, who took part
      in the destruction of the First Holy Temple 2,500 years ago.

      In March 2008 a coin from the Second Temple used during the turbulent Second Temple period to
      pay the Biblical half-shekel head-tax was found in excavations in the City of David.

      The discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970s has shown the Biblical writings
      concerning the Patriarchs to be viable. Documents written on clay tablets from around 2300 B.C.
      demonstrate that personal and place names in the Patriarchal accounts are genuine. The name ―Canaan was in use in Ebla, a name critics once said was not used at that time and was used incorrectly in the
      early chapters of the Bible. The word tehom (―the deep) in Genesis 1:2 was said to be a late word
      demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. ―Tehom was part of the vocabulary at Ebla, in use
      some 800 years before Moses. Ancient customs reflected in the stories of the Patriarchs have also been
      found in clay tablets from Nuzi and Mari.

      The Hittites were once thought to be a Biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at
      Bogazkoy, Turkey.

      Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon’s wealth were greatly exaggerated. Recovered records
      from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon’s prosperity was
      entirely feasible.

      It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this
      name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon’s palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The
      very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is
      more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.

      Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of
      Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was
      Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make Daniel ―third
      highest ruler in the kingdom‖ (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available
      position. Here we see the eye-witness nature of the Biblical record, as is so often brought out by the
      discoveries of archaeology.

      * Campaign into Israel by Pharaoh Shishak (1 Kings 14:25-26), recorded on the walls of the Temple
      of Amun in Thebes, Egypt.
      * Revolt of Moab against Israel (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27), recorded on the Mesha Inscription.
      * Fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:3-6, 24; 18:9-11) to Sargon II, king of Assyria, as recorded on his palace
      walls.
      * Defeat of Ashdod by Sargon II (Isaiah 20:1), as recorded on his palace walls.
      * Campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib against Judah (2 Kings 18:13-16), as recorded on the
      Taylor Prism.
      * Siege of Lachish by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 17), as recorded on the Lachish reliefs.
      * Assassination of Sennacherib by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37), as recorded in the annals of his son
      Esarhaddon.
      * Fall of Nineveh as predicted by the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah (2:13-15), recorded on the
      Tablet of Nabopolasar.
      * Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-14), as recorded in the
      Babylonian Chronicles.
      * Captivity of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in Babylon (2 Kings 24:15-16), as recorded on the Babylonian
      Ration Records.
      * Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:30-31), as recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder.
      * Freeing of captives in Babylon by Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4; 6:3-4), as recorded on the Cyrus
      Cylinder.
      * The existence of Jesus Christ as recorded by Josephus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, the
      Talmud, and Lucian.
      * Forcing Jews to leave Rome during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41-54) (Acts 18:2), as recorded by
      Suetonius.

      Genesis 10:14- The Philistines
      The existence of the Philistines in the bible was once doubted. Today there have been 28 sites and 5
      major Philistine cities discovered in Palestine.

      Genesis 10:15- The Hittite Culture
      It was once believed that the Hittite culture was not in existence during the time of Abraham as the bible
      mentions. But recently, evidence of an early Hittite culture has been uncovered with so many artifacts,
      that an entire museum has been dedicated to it in Israel.

      Genesis 10:19- “Canaan”
      The OT‘s reference of ―Canaan was once considered in error. It was believed that name was not used as early as the OT suggests. The discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970s revealed the
      land of Canaan was named as such during the time the OT suggests.

      Genesis 11:8-10- The Tower of Babel
      Ziggurats are high brick towers with shrines on the top. Many of these have been found near Babylon.
      However one clay tablet in the area has an inscription that speaks of a temple that so ―offended the
      Gods‖ that it was destroyed in one night, and the people scattered with their ―speech made strange.‖
      Fragments of an Assyrian tablet were discovered at Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard during the middle
      of the 18th century that closely parallel the Biblical account. The artifacts now reside in the British
      Museum (registration number K.3657) and reads as follows: ―his heart was evil against the father of all
      the gods . . . Babylon was brought into subjection, small and great alike. He confounded their speech . . .
      their strong palace (tower) all the days they built; to their strong place in the night He completely made an
      end . . . In His anger His word was poured out . . . to scatter aboard He set his face, He gave this
      command, and their counsel was confused. . .He saw them and the earth. . . of stopping not . . . Bitterly
      they wept at Babi(l). . very much they grieved . . at their misfortune.

      Genesis 19:24- Sodom and Gomorrah
      The ruins of both cities have been discovered. Although archeologists say they don‘t know exactly what
      caused their destruction, the ruins show evidence of fire damage. The Bible says God destroyed them
      with fire from the sky.

      Genesis 24:10- Domesticated Camels
      It was believed that there were no domesticated camels during the time of Abraham as the bible states.
      Archaeologists later found paintings of domesticated camels on the walls of the temple of Hatshepsut,
      which dated back to Abraham‘s period.

      Genesis 41:41-44- Joseph’s Egyptian Seal
      The Bible says Joseph (son of Jacob) was given the seal of Pharaoh. Numerous Scarab Seals have been
      unearthed dating to the 18th century BC that say ―son of Yaqub‖ (Egyptian for Jacob, who was Joseph‘s
      father). In the Egyptian ruins of Avaris, nine seals were found with the same inscription of Jacob, which is
      not an Egyptian name, but a Hebrew one.

      Genesis 46:26-27- Israelites move to Egypt
      At the Tomb of Ben Hassan there is large picture showing a mass migration into Egypt inside. The people
      in the picture have beards and are wearing brightly colored and patterned clothing, all of which was the
      typical traditional style at the time for Israelites, but not of Egyptians. But more importantly, a hieroglyphic
      says the people are ―Ammo‖ which translated means, ―God‘s People‖ (singular)[1]. The tomb is dated to
      the 18-17th century which is the same period of time that the Israelites migrated to Egypt per the Bible‘s
      account.

      Exodus 3:20- God’s Wrath against Egypt
      Fragments of the Ahmose Stele (AKA Tempest Stele) speaks of great destruction to the land of Egypt
      from the wrath of God (singular). Which is particular interesting because Egyptians believe in multiple
      Gods, not one God, in which the Israelites did. The stele is dated to the 15th Century BC, during the
      same time the Exodus occurred. Of the devastation, hail is mentioned, which Exodus 9:18 states, ―I will
      send a hailstorm more devastating than any in all the history of Egypt. (NLT)

      Exodus 11:5- Death of firstborn males.
      Dated to the same time of the Exodus, have been found multiple gravesites in Egypt containing the bones
      of mostly young men in mass burial. Even the son of Pharaoh Ahmose,[2] died at a very young age of 12,
      his tomb kept in the Cairo museum.

      Exodus 14:27- Egyptians chase Israelites into the parted sea.
      The 3-piece Grave Stele of Mycenae actually shows Egyptians on chariots chasing unarmed people into
      a parted body of water, with the people emerging on high ground and the Egyptians being drowned in the
      last stele.

      1 Samuel 16:1- King David
      David was thought to be a myth until 1993 when a stone monument fragment was found in Tel Dan, near
      Israel and Syria. This fragment mentions King David and the ―House of David.

      1 Kings 16:16- King Omri
      The Meesha Stele dated to 846 BC records the revolt of Meesha (Moab‘s King), Yahweh (the Hebrew
      name of God), and King Omri, a king of Israel!

      1 Chronicles 36:22- Cyrus allows exile’s return.
      The bible prophesied many things, one of which was that a man named ―Cyrus‖ would be responsible for the Jewish return from exile. The Cyrus Cylinder found in Babylon recorded this proclamation as well as
      other prophesies from the Bible.

      Daniel 1:1-7, Israelites Deported to Babylon
      There where three separate phases to the exile of Israel to Babylon. The first phase (605 B.C.- Daniel
      deported) is confirmed by the ―Babylon Chronicle,‖ found in the court records of Babylon.

      Daniel 5:1-3- King Belshazzar
      King Nabonidus of Babylonia left a magnificent cuneiform cylinder (wedge-shaped letters inscribed on a
      clay cylinder) mentioning his elder son, Belshazzar by name. Critics of the Bible had claimed for many
      years that the account in the book of Daniel was wrong; they said Belshazzar was never a king in
      Babylon and that Nabonidus was not his father. The discovery of this cylinder clearly showed that these
      scholars were dead wrong.

      Isaiah 23:1-17- Destruction of Tyre
      The bible prophesied the double destruction of the city of Tyre which archaeologists found records of it
      being destroyed twice. First (and impartially) in 586 B.C. and second in 330 B.C.

      Jeremiah 39:3- Nabu-sharrussu-ukin the Chief Preist
      Nabu-sharrussu-ukin was identified on a Babylonian clay tablet as a Chief Priest. He is also mentioned in
      Jeremiah 39:3. The tablet is dated to 595 BC.

      Book of Ezekiel- Ezekiel the Prophet
      Stone tablets have been discovered containing the entire book of Ezekiel. The tablets have been dated to
      600 to 500 B.C. Which was during the time of Ezekiel, with that, some speculate the he himself may
      have chiseled some of the tablets.

      Ezekiel 1:3, Israelites Deported to Babylon again
      The second phase of deportation (597 B.C.- Ezekiel captured) is mentioned in the ―Chronicles of the
      Chaldean Kings. 10 years later when Jerusalem was destroyed is recorded in the ―Lachish Letters.

      Matthew 26:3- Caiaphas the High Priest
      In the Peace Forest section of Jerusalem was discovered a burial cave containing twelve ossuaries, one
      of them being none other than that of Caiaphas, the high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus.
      Matthew 27:50-51- Earthquake after Jesus dies

      Phlegon of Tralles, a non-Christian Greek writer (AD 80-140) wrote of Jesus being crucified and great
      earthquakes taking place.

      Mark 15:12-13- King of Jews crucified by Jews
      Syrian historian Mara-Bar Serapion (non-Christian) wrote of Jews executing their ―wise king,‖ in A.D. 70.

      Mark 15:1- Pontius Pilate and Tiberieum Pilate himself was long thought of as a fictional character that never existed. That is until the discovery of the Pilate dedication limestone found in 1961. An inscription on the stone mentions both Pilate and Tiberieum (who ruled Rome at the time). Testifying to Pilate indeed being a real person!

      Mark 15:15- Jesus suffering under Pontius Pilate.
      Cornelius Tacitus (non-Christian), the ―greatest historian of Rome‖ A.D. 56-120, wrote of Jesus suffering
      under Pontius Pilate.

      Luke 3:1- Lysanias, the Tetrarch
      The bible says that Lysanias, the Tetrarch of Abilene ruled Syria and Palestine during the beginning of
      John the Baptist‘s ministry in A.D. 27. But the only Lysanias known by historians and archaeologists alike
      was one that was killed in 36 B.C. Since then, an inscription was found near Damascus refers to
      ―Freedman of Lysanias of Tetrarch. This inscription has been dated between A.D. 14 to A.D. 29.

      John 19:13- The Roman Paved Platform/Court
      The bible‘s description of Jesus tried by Pilate on a paved court was proposed to be an error because no
      such ancient paved area had ever been found in Jerusalem. Unearthed later was the Tower of Antonia,
      an ancient Roman military headquarters in Jerusalem. At this site they found a paved court, the only one
      in Jerusalem (at the time). This leads archaeologists to believe it is the one Pilate tried Christ at.

      Your lies and distortion of truth adversary are remarkable since all honest historians and archaeologists know the discoveries and interpret the findings correctly, and above all, will admit that all there is to discover has not yet been discovered.

      • Roy, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October contains real places and even real technology… that doesn’t make Tom Clancy’s work non-fiction.

        “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,” declared famed Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog

        “I think there is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.
        Even the extreme leftists, avowedly secular, find it hard to accept the notion that the stories they grew up with are not true, that the greatness of David and Solomon is a matter of epic, not of history. I tried all this out on my friends, but they simply are not ready to hear it. The Bible is a fundamental book of culture. The schools are not going to have an easy time contending with the undermining of biblical authority, but in the final analysis the idea will get through. Only when the educational establishment treats this all seriously will it have political influence, and then the screaming will start.” (Professor Magen Broshi, Archaeologist at the Israel Museum)

        You see… I quote real archeologists, not Christian apologists who’ve never dug in Israel. Give it up Roy…. You’re on the losing side of history here. As rabbi Wolpe said:

        “Such startling propositions, the product of findings by archaeologists, have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis… but there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity until now. It is time for people to know about it.”

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