While writing a recent response, I touched on a topic that is interesting to me. I can’t solve it, but then again, I’m only an atheist, so not only do I not “need” to solve it, but the concept has no rigid foundation for me in the first place.
However, it’s very possible that my limited understanding of the facts is causing the problem, so I will present my syllogism, and hopefully, people can correct my syllogism and make it more logical, and more robust.
I have since received at least one complaint from a subscriber here, based, it seems, primarily on my grammar (which I have tried to mitigate here), but to some extent because I dared to touch on a topic that he appears to regard as taboo. I am not TRYING to be taboo – I am asking questions that I think need to be asked, and I think, have already been asked by others here. I am not seeking to inflame, but to learn. This post is written from MY point of view – if you find it inflammatory, then I apologize, but I hope you can understand that for me, it is a relevant and sensible point. If you don’t wish to respond (or you wish to share only condescension or rebuke, despite this disclaimer) then please don’t read it.
The assumptions follow – here is the mostly likely place that i am wrong – please correct me!
1. Love is demonstrated by acceptance and tolerance.
2. Love is demonstrated by dedicated and unambiguous teaching.
3. Love is demonstrated by stemming suffering where possible, and certainly not imposing it for longer than is absolutely necessary.
4. Love is demonstrated by showing the possibilities, and condoning examination, curiosity and exploration. Love is not demonstrated by imposing rules without clear justification, insofar as the abilities of the love-er permit clear explanation.
I think these are some general qualities of love. Of course, this is a nebulous topic. The most important here is that love is demonstrated by stemming suffering, and not imposing punishment for longer than is useful or absolutely necessary.
So – my point is that, as far as I can see, the bible seems to contradict some of my basic concepts of love. While I understand that the bible maintains that God is love, I present these as queries, more than as evidence for anything.
Specifically, my observations are: –
A. God does not seem to tolerate anything that falls outside his demands. A case in point is mahatma ghandi – I regard this man as the pinnacle of human charity, whereas the God of the bible does not.
B. The bible is demonstrably opaque, translatable and ambiguous. My concept of an all-knowing god would be one that is able to make clear to anyone, their requirements and demands. Even a child that has not yet learned to speak.
C. Here is where it gets a bit fuzzy – since the “punishment” for not loving God varies depending on who you talk to, nonetheless, God does condemn to “damnation” people who do not undertake his bidding (Mark 3:29 kjv). the form of this damnation varies between sects. I simply don’t comprehend why anyone all loving would permit eternal punishment with no outcome. With the exception of capital punishment, crimes are met with a sentence to dissuade further crimes. Hell, it seems, is actually torture, for eternity! Even humans do not torture each other! (at least, not ethically, and not legally!). yet God does (or at least, allows it to happen?).
D. God imposes very strong restrictions on humanity. Many of them are very, very strange and are not easily understood. Moreover, God does not attempt to explain them in a clear way, nor to rationalize them.
So!, my point.
To me, this does not seem like God is speaking to us through the bible. This is a “weak” conclusion, since while it is supported by the syllogisms, it can probably be refuted with additional syllogisms.
So here are some more assumptions I’ll make.
5. Satan is (almost) as powerful as God.
6. Humans are very weak, very malleable, and very indecisive.
The implicit conclusion from these is that, to a human, if satan chose to attempt to appear as God, then such is his power, we probably would not be able to distinguish between the “real” God and the phoney Satan “God”.
7. Satan wants to control us. Moreover, Satan does not need to explain WHY he wants to control us
8. Satan wants to hurt us – for eternity if he can.
9. Satan wants to scare us – again for eternity if he can.
It would seem to me, that what I expect (yes, this is what I expect, I understand that they may be different for others) from an all-loving being (syllogisms 1-5) is inconsistent with the observations (observations A-D), but the observations ARE consistent with the actions of what I would expect from someone who does not love at a (syllogism 7-9).
I’m obviously understanding things wrong here, so I’m hoping people can sort me out. Specifically, perhaps the following questions could be addressed:
1. Is satan’s power great enough to fool mere humans, at ANY time? Do humans even have any hope at all, of discerning between the actions of a God, and the actions of satan? If so, how? do we “just know”? or are there other ways?
2. is it even plausible that an all-loving God would permit torture for eternity? Perhaps my understanding of “love” is not what is described in the bible. Can anyone understand how a loving person would simply not act, when witnessing the object of their love being tortured for even a moment, let alone eternity, and particularly when the torture serves absolutely no long-term purpose?
My syllogism has at least one valid conclusion – but there are of course, many others – it is that the bible is NOT inspired or written by God at all.
It’s a scary proposition, so I would like people to fill in my blanks with their knowledge – particularly point #1 above (“Is satan’s power great enough.. “)