Saturday, November 1, 2008

Atheists and Speeding Tickets

“I hate speeding tickets!”

“What do you mean?”

“Speeding tickets. They’re ruining my life. Look at them all! How am I supposed to buy food and stuff when I have all these speeding tickets to pay?”

“How many are there?”

“I don’t know. A couple dozen at least.”

“Dude! You’re going to lose your license.”

“That’s what I mean. They keep giving me tickets and pretty soon I won’t even be able to drive. How will I get to work?”

“Sooo, why not just obey the law? If you don’t go over the speed limit you won’t get any more speeding tickets.”

“I can’t do that. Changing how I drive would be admitted that I'm wrong.”

“Don’t be so stupid. It’s NOT changing that's ruining your life. Speeding tickets aren’t the problem. You’re pride is the problem.”

“I hate the idea of going to hell just because I don’t admit to Jesus that I'm a sinner in need of forgiveness. The whole idea of hell is ruining my life. I want to live free of fear and guilt.”

“So change. Come on side with Jesus.”

“I can’t. I believe what I believe, and changing what I believe would be admitting that what I've believed is wrong”

“Don’t be so stupid. You’re an atheist by choice and only by choice. There is more than enough evidence to prove that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. Come on side with Jesus and the whole issue of hell becomes a non issue. You can live free and easy. In fact, Jesus even commands us to stop worrying and enjoy life because He will take care of us.”


Volker The Fiddler said...

I think the problem I and many other atheists have à propos of common conceptions of hell, are that the punisment--eternal damnation--ill fit any conception of human justice. When man is more merciful than God, why should I worship him and not man? (Not that any man is worthy of worship, of course). Mark Twain in his short novel The Mysterious Stranger presents the case thusly: “...God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have mad every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell—mouths mercy and invented hell—mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!...”

Volker The Fiddler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Volker The Fiddler said...

Also, I was under the impression that we don't know what Jesus said he was; rather, we only know what his biographers (biased lot, if you ask me) said he said. So, I suppose that my argument is, that second hand information is generally less trustworthy--wouldn't you agree? I don't see why I should suspend the part of my mind, that distrusts information that does not come from the source directly,i.e. Jesus himself; unfortunately it seems Jesus never saw fit to take up the pen and set down any of his sermons. The world is likely poorer for it.

Volker The Fiddler said...

Lastly, I like what you've done, Makarios, in inventing a new parable to illustrate the foolishness of the atheist; bravo! Keep up the good work. (The written word, I know, is less able to express the author's intent, which, when one speaks, is given hue by tone used; I mean no sarcasm by expressing my like of what you've done, though our views diverge mightily. I ask that you take my praise as it is intended, that is to say, honestly and without sarcasm or contempt).

Makarios said...

How about the earlier stuff that you said? Was that sarcastic or do you actually believe that angels never had a choice?
.Would you really rather live without freedom than sorrow?
.Would you really rather live without freedom than experience the ability to love and be loved?
.Do you really believe that it would be an example of justice to kill God (Jesus) and experience no consequences?
.Do you really think it logical to shun God for one’s whole life and then expect Him to take away your freedom of choice and force you to live with Him for eternity?
.Do you really think it logical to conclude that God doesn’t exist because He does things in a way that won’t receive your approval?

As with your last comment, none of this is said with any sarcasm or bitterness. I’d really like to know where you’re coming from.

Volker The Fiddler said...

Thank you for responding so promptly and with such well considered questions, Makarios. Firstly, I would like to apologize for my poor rhetorical skill; I am but a simple man, unused to addressing myself to such theological enormities. My excuses made, I shall now make an attempt at answering all of your queries to the best of my poor abilities.

As to the first of your bulleted queries, “Would I rather live without freedom, than without sorrow?” I would answer with an unequivocal, ‘yes’. We are speaking here of eternity—if I had to give up my freedom for the 75 odd years of mortal existence, the reward, eternal life, seems an easy and obvious price to pay. This same reasoning would apply toward your second question, so, yes, I would give up all my freedoms for a chance at a happy eternity.

To your third query, “Do you think it justice to kill God without consequence?” I would argue, that there were no consequences to his death (it was impermanent) and so I would not think it justice for any to be punished for it, save, perhaps, those very few who were directly involved in accusing their neighbor—Jesus—falsely. I think it injustice when any man—falsely accused—is punished. However, God (Jesus) in his perfect knowledge would doubtless have known (and so scripture indicates, actually knew) that death would have no power over him, therefore his murder would not have the same moral reprehensibility as those committed by man against his brother, as we mortals have no certain knowledge of life beyond death (or lack thereof). So, should there be a consequence to this impious act? Yes. Should all of man suffer for the mistakes of a few? No. But of course, this is a human idea of justice (apparently not much in favor with the Divine).

To your penultimate query, “Can man shun God, then expect God to take away his free will, and force him to dwell with God for eternity?” I would argue that for one to have true freedom of will, it is necessary for him to be aware of all the far-reaching consequences of his actions—an impossibility. Would a God who realized this simple fact willingly accept into His arms a life-long apostate? I know from the parable of the Prodigal Son that this is a distinct possibility. Why would God so cruelly punish man, in Hell, for eternity, for his imperfect knowledge? A God who conformed to human ideas concerning justice, mercy and pity likely would not; with the unknowable, capricious God of the Christians, however, it seems rather likely that Hell awaits the apostate.

To your final question, “Do I think it logical to deny God’s existence, because he does things that won’t receive my approval,” I would argue that such is not a reason at all to disbelieve in God. In fact, this is precisely what I would expect from a being whose intelligence is so vast; His acts would be completely inscrutable, and therefore could not be submitted for condemnation or approbation by any human intelligence. Where I am frustrated, is, the widely disseminated idea that God is the embodiment of love, or justice, when the Bible clearly illustrates that such is not the case (at least they don’t conform to human perceptions of these ideas). If it were common to describe God as apathetic with regard to his creation, I would be far more willing to believe in Him.

As always, I am ever willing to further discuss the finer points of my understanding—clarifying where needs be, etc. Thank you for your time and attention.

Makarios said...

“Firstly, I would like to apologize for my poor rhetorical skill; I am but a simple man,”

Ah fiddler, me thinks you are being just a tad facetious regarding your humility.

Regardless, you seem to misunderstand the proposal put before us by our Creator. We don’t need to choose between love and eternity. Nor do we need to choose between freedom and eternity. In fact we can have love, freedom AND eternity, if we wish. What we can’t have however is love and no freedom. The ability to love is based on the freewill choice to not love.

I would argue, that there were no consequences to his death (it was impermanent) and so I would not think it justice for any to be punished for it,”

I think that perhaps it is now you who is portraying a skewed understanding of justice as humans normally understand the term. We are talking about not just open rebellion against our Creator but the torture, and death of a perfectly Holy Being. We are talking about the complete separation of Jesus from the presence of love while carrying the filth of the whole world. That is no small thing - in fact it is so great a thing that surely no human this side of eternity can comprehend the true ramifications of such an action.

“As we mortals have no certain knowledge of life beyond death (or lack thereof).”

I would suggest that based upon the resurrection of Jesus we have absolute certainty of life beyond death.

“I would argue that for one to have true freedom of will, it is necessary for him to be aware of all the far-reaching consequences of his actions—an impossibility.”

I agree. Hell may very well await the apostate but it certainly won't be for a lack of knowledge or information. You and every other atheist blogger knows very well the consequences of your decision. There’s no ability to plead ignorance when you have a Bible virtually sitting on your lap.

"at least they don’t conform to human perceptions of these ideas)."

True. Of course that is of no consequence when debating the existence of Creator God. In fact I should think that our lack of perceptive ability could be expected when dealing with a supernatural being. Nevertheless, Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." To the degree that we know God through Jesus, I should think that we have more than enough information to make a decision for or against.