Tyler Vela, a Calvinist apologist and an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in America who converted from atheism to Christianity as a young man, graduated with a Pre-seminary B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from the Moody Bible Institute, and was partway through a Masters of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary, has announced his deconversion at his Youtube channel, The Freed Thinker. Recently, he was interviewed by Derek Lambert of Mythvision on his reasons for leaving Christianity, several months ago. The interview may be viewed here:
Vela on what finally made him abandon the Christian faith, late in 2022, after wrestling with a mountain of objections to Christianity:
“The problem of Divine hiddenness was the thing that, like, sealed the deal for me. That made me, like, give up even being faithful anymore, because there’s a sense where it’s like, I’m a non-resistant non-believer at this point. I am actually proactively doing everything I can to be faithful, to pray, to read the Bible – not in the [good] works, not in the ‘You, God, you owe me anything’ [sense], but just, like, I’m doing everything I can to have this relationship, and still it’s crickets. I still have NOTHING. And so, if God wanted to have some type of relationship with me, that would have been the easiest time… I’m not asking for miracles, I’m not asking for money, healing, nothing… I remember begging and saying [to God], ‘It could literally be an intrinsic, you know, the Mormons call [it] a burning of the bosom, it could be anything that I could just internally know, that I could never defend to an atheist. I don’t care. I just want something [where] I know that you’re my Heavenly Father, and that you love me. That’s it. Or that you even care. Anything like that.’ That was, like, the final straw.” (12:31)
Vela on why he still respects Reformed Calvinism:
I actually think [that] as far as systematic theology goes, if you’re going to hold … an inerrantist view, a view of the Scripture as a comprehensive message from One Divine Author with human authors writing down… all that kind of stuff, [in accordance] with the Chicago Statement on [Biblical] Inerrancy… I actually think reformed Calvinism is the most consistent way you’re going to do it. (14:17)
Vela on his present theological beliefs:
I’m still a classical theist. I still think God is omnimax. I still think God is simple, a se [i.e. not dependent on any creature for anything], necessary, I still hold to those types of beliefs. (14:58)
Vela on the factors that led him to doubt Christianity in the first place:
There was actually a strong disconnect between that very high view of God and the very national, pagan Yahweh of the Old Testament, and even getting into the New Testament, you know, the way that Jesus looked at God and religion… It was very tribal… As I started reading through a whole bunch of the other myths of the ancient Near East … which honestly made me love the Bible more… I still love the Bible. I think literarily, it’s the master, it is a pinnacle of literary mastery… But at the same time, there were certain things where I was like, not only does this high view [of God] that I think is philosophically defensible – I have a hard time understanding how classical theism wouldn’t be true, because of certain arguments – [but] that just came into conflict with the Bible. And so as I started reading those other myths, those two systems clashed. (15:07)
Vela on open theism:
Like, I always joke – kind of joke – I’m actually being somewhat serious, although in a little snarky way, I actually think open theists, their view of God is like a mega-Zeus… Their view of Yahweh in the Old Testament – I mean, I don’t know how you can get much more pagan of a view within Christian theology [than open theism], because He’s finite, He’s in time, He makes mistakes, He learns, He adapts, He can’t always get His way, He has to do these things in time … It is a Zeus story. It’s just a mega-Zeus, because He’s bigger and more powerful and somehow transcendent and more good… (18:08)
Vela on whether he would ever consider becoming a Christian again:
I will confess, you know, I am… like, if someone could convince me that it was true again,… I’d be totally fine with it. (22:02)
Vela on what caused his gradual drift away from belief in the inerrancy of Scripture: not Genesis 1, but hermeneutics
…I still think that the most likely thing that’s happening in Genesis 1 is that it’s an ancient Near Eastern temple text… It’s not talking about material creation – kind of like a John Walton type of view … mixed with a little bit of a Klinean Framework Theory … but I did a whole series on that. What I think that did was, it trained me to also – that’s where I got a lot of my training in hermeneutics and understanding ancient Near Eastern contexts and backgrounds, all that kind of stuff… So a lot of people will be like, “Oh, well, your view of Genesis 1 is the thing that did you in.” And indirectly, it might have, because it’s the thing where I was like, “Hey, but like, good, historical hermeneutics, dealing with the history, the grammar and the context and backgrounds,” all that kind of stuff, when we start employing that, kind of across the board, … that hermeneutic is the thing that I think started doing me in, not necessarily just my view of Genesis 1… That hermeneutic of reading things within their historical context and seeing the way that the Biblical text is actually interacting with those things, and then carrying that forward into the New Testament, and seeing the way that they’re interacting with the literature of their day… So there’s all these kinds of interactions that are happening, that don’t necessarily … mean that Christianity is false or that the Bible is false… You can, and I did for a long time, I read these as … “That’s the literary genre that they’re doing, and that’s OK,” but those types of things just start to build and build and build and build and balloon, and so there’s so many of them, that it becomes a point that it’s like, OK, there’s so many of these, and it addresses almost everything, that at what point do I think that any of this is actually true anymore? It’s interesting, and it’s fascinating, … but at what point does this now matter for salvation anymore? (24:45)
Vela’s view of Scripture nowadays
I haven’t fully jumped ship or anything, right? So I’m not out here being like, “Oh, you know, the Gospels are … entirely myth, because they get one little detail wrong … Right? You could go like a [Mike] Licona route. You could go down there and you could say, “Well, these are minor discrepancies,” and all that kind of stuff. You could remain a Christian. You could be a progressive, you could be a Randall Rauser and you could say, “They [the Gospels] get the gist right. Overall, they’re still reliable.” I don’t think that my girlfriend, when she doesn’t get the time [right], you know, her and her friends get the time five minutes off, or a day off or something like that, what happened thirty years ago… [that] they’re totally [wrong], it’s all garbage, right? That wouldn’t be the argument that I would make. But what it does is, it says, “OK. What can’t be the case … It’s like, I don’t see how inerrancy can be the case anymore, I don’t see how infallibility can be the case anymore. And when your systematic [theology] is built on that, and when you’re done trying to harmonize it, what happens is those anchor points come loose, right? And so there’s a trickle-down effect… I still look at the Gospels and I’m like, “OK. I think the Gospels are probably generally reliable about what an apocalyptic teacher [named Jesus] thought. I think they’re probably close to what he was teaching his disciples. They probably, they almost certainly theologized like crazy, they almost certainly slanted it towards the theological inclinations of the communities that they’re writing for… there’s all that stuff that’s happened… But … I’m not out there trying to say, … “Well, therefore, … you can throw the entire thing out.” (33:15)
A fallacy in contemporary apologetics
…[T]he reason why I think this is important is, what I find now – and I started to see this when I was still in apologetics, but it’s like, full-force now – there’s a Motte-and-Bailey fallacy that happens a lot in apologetics, where in order to defend, like “minimal facts” Resurrection, or even “maximal facts” Resurrection, or inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, they defend reliability. And they’re like, “Oh, well. They [the Gospels] get this, like, minimal reliability… They get cities and places and geography – except for when they don’t, because like, Quirinius – but like, even, I mean, Josephus gets things wrong. And we’re not like, “To hell with Josephus! Get that guy out of here!”, you know, whatever. But what happens, though, is [that] they say, “See? It’s reliable! Therefore we can trust all these Resurrection stories.” And I’m like, “That’s such a Motte-and-Bailey. You cannot do that… You have so much more spade work, to get from ‘It’s generally reliable’ to ‘Therefore, we can trust what it says about the Resurrection.'” (34:56)
Vela on the fear of Hell as a reason for remaining a Christian
I was never – and maybe this was the problem – I was never afraid of Hell… Maybe that would have kept me in line. But for me, the Pascalian [wager] was more of, like, in a relationship, where it’s like, “Look, I’m not feeling any more of that stuff, but I’m going to stay committed, and you know, I’m going to commit to therapy, and I’m going to commit to doing all the things that I can do to possibly salvage this.” … Because at the time, I was like, “I could be wrong, I could be having a … they talk about dark nights of the soul all the time, for a millennium in Christianity. For years, it could be a dark night of the soul, and then, you know, people have these rapturous experiences afterwards, so … it could be one of those things. I’m going to stay faithful committed. I’m going to try to live out these promises, all that kind of stuff.” But at the end of the day, there was a certain point where I was like, … I started thinking about it in context of, you know, I’m a father to my kids. [God is a] Heavenly Father to His children… And I started thinking about [the verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount]: “How do you, if you’re sinful, know to give good things to your children?” And I started thinking about that in the context of, like, love and comfort for my kids. Because sometimes I might do things that my kids don’t like, and [that] are uncomfortable for them, but it’s for their benefit, it’s for their good. But I started to think about, like, if my kids were literally telling me, like, “We don’t think you love us, we don’t know you, we don’t know you’re round, … we don’t feel safe here, we don’t feel comfortable at all,” and all that kind of stuff – if I was a loving father, that would break my heart, and I would do everything I could – like I don’t want to spoil them and give them a Mercedes – but I’m going to make sure that they know that I love them. (40:53)
Would any other kind of Christianity appeal to him, apart from Calvinism?
You [Derek] are exactly right [in insisting that the Bible portrays God as hardening people’s hearts]. And … this is why, when I did [the video], “Part One of my Deconversion,” I said, “You know, well, look!” Because people were like, “Oh, well, you could just become another type of Christian.” And I’m like, I mean, “The only other type of Christian I think I could become is maybe a progressive.” But at that point, I don’t even know why I care about the Bible anymore, because it’s just a wax nose for progressives at that point. Like, if I want to take the Bible seriously, right, I think that Reformed theology and Calvinism is the one that does it, as the most consistent with what the text actually says. Because what happens is, you get all these [texts] – and this is where, you know, when I was a Calvinist and I was debating non-Calvinists, I did a lot of those types of debates. But you know, they would, you know, [defend] the Free Will Theodicy, [and say], “God doesn’t – God allows evil but He doesn’t cause evil.” And I’m like, I mean, “That’s garbage. That’s BS. Like, here are like all these passages in the Bible where God, whatever you want to make of it, however you want to try to gymnastic out of it, like God takes causal credit for it. Whatever you think the metaphysics of how He does it or allows it or whatever, He is taking credit for the outcome, and the outcome is someone sinning, someone being deluded, someone having a false belief, someone being … whatever … So, I have tons of examples of them, and I would use this as a Calvinist, and I would say, when debating non-Calvinists, “You’re like, God just allows the free will decision, blah blah blah blah blah.” And I’d be like, “First of all, you have Biblical texts that directly contradict that, because He takes causal credit for it. It’s by his hand that Pilate and the Jews and Herod crucified Jesus, right? But it literally says, ‘by His hand,’ … by His foreordination, by His hand. In the next verse, His hand is the thing that heals. His hand is always causally active in any Scripture passages, right? You know, He deludes people in [St. Paul’s] second [letter to the] Thessalonians… And in 2 Thessalonians 2, where it says He sends a deluding spirit, and you follow the causal chain, it’s so that they’ll believe what’s false. Why? So that He can judge them, right? So he [St. Paul] literally says that God makes, God intentionally deludes them, so that He can judge them.” Now again, Calvinists will bite that bullet. They’ll go hardline. It’s fine. It takes the text seriously. So I look at these other views, these open theistic views, and I’m like, “If I’m going to take the Bible seriously, that’s just not an option, that’s just not a live option for me.”
Why does Vela think the problem of evil is an insuperable one, even for non-Calvinist Christians?
Yeah, so one more. So, the other thing that happened in responding to non-Calvinists is [that] I’m saying, “Well, God actually does cause, takes causal credit for evil.” But I also say, “Well, let’s imagine your view is right. Let’s imagine that it is allowing all that kind of stuff. And I remember, this was something that also turned the tide. It’s an argument that I used against non-Calvinists. And I said, “Look. Think of the book of Job, right? And imagine for a second that it’s not God, right? Imagine that if I moved into a neighborhood and I knew that there was a psychopathic, sociopathic serial killer next to me. And I went to him, like, “Hey, have you considered my favorite son?” And he’s like, “Yeah, but you protect him.” And I’m like, “OK, but I’m going to leave town, so you can do whatever you want to him. You can kill all of his friends,” because Satan didn’t just kill Job, it was all his friends, they were there, he took out everything by natural causes, took out his friends, killed everyone, killed the whole family, took his wealth, killed his day laborers, everybody. And then, you know, round two he’s like, “Oh, he still hasn’t cursed you.” And God’s like, “OK, well, like, you can do more if you want to, just don’t kill him.” So now he [Satan] gave him boils and all that kind of stuff. And imagine that I did that with the serial killer. “You can do that with my kids, you can kill all his friends, you can kill the rest of my family. You could do all that kind of stuff. You could burn down the house. You can do all that kind of stuff. You can give him leukemia, you can give him boils, you can make him as sick as you can, you just can’t kill him. And it’s OK because at the end of the day, I’m going to give my son back more friends than he had to begin with.” … Like, how many of you would call me good? (48:43)
I shall stop here, and throw the discussion open to readers. What do you think of Tyler Vela’s arguments?
UPDATE ON THE PROBLEM OF EVIL:
Over at the Community page on his Youtube blogsite, Tyler Vela posed a tough question in a comment addressed to his readers:
Christian, would you permit, allow, decree, ordain, predestine (whatever your preferred theology) someone to rape and torture and murder your 6 year old child for any of these reasons (with a straight face) AND expect other people to think you were good for doing so:
1. To not violate the freewill is the rapist, or freewill just in principle.
2. For the soul building of other people.
3. That it would make other people more likely to be saints.
4. Because sinners are going to sin and you’ll punish them later for it.
5. So you can show the raping-murderer forgiveness later (if they want it).
I really doubt any of you would if you were being truthful. Hopefully that helps you see why many of us just aren’t satisfied with those kinds of responses to the problem of evil when posed to the God of historic Christianity.
When one reader objected, “So God doesn’t exist because bad things happen now? This is a new low for you man,” Vela replied, “Where did I say God doesn’t exist? I’m a THEIST. This isn’t an objection to God’s existence. This is an objection to several of the theodicies proposed by Christian apologists. Try reading to understand before simply reacting.” Later, he added, “I don’t believe YWHW exists. I believe in the God of classical theism very much like the God of the philosophers.”
I’d like to offer my two cents’ worth, in response to Tyler Vela’s question. It’s a very tough one, since it comes straight from the heart.
First, given that a six-year-old child is involved here, given that God’s goodness is in question, and given that Vela rejects (a) the manifestation of God’s character (e.g. His mercy and/or justice), (b) the exercise of human free-will, and (c) long-term benefits to either the child, or the rapist, or other people, as legitimate reasons for a good God permitting the rape of the child, it is pretty hard to see what other possible reasons could legitimate God’s permitting such a horrendous evil. This is important, because it shows that the problem posed by Vela is not just a problem for Christianity. It applies equally well to any religious view which affirms both God’s goodness and the fact of children being raped.
Second, if Vela wants to affirm God’s existence (as he continues to do, given his professed belief in classical theism, despite his recent rejection of Christianity) then it seems to me that the only option he has left is to deny God’s goodness. He could argue, for instance, that “good” is an anthropomorphic term, and that God is beyond good and evil. I don’t know why anybody would want to worship a God of that sort, but one could still believe in such a God.
Third, I can’t help wondering if Hinduism (or something like it) is the religion best equipped to address Vela’s question. The reason why I’m leaning this way is that I’ve recently been watching some Next Level Soul videos on Near Death Experiences, in which various individuals who have had NDEs learn on the other side that they chose the life they lived, with all the evils that they risked being subjected to, before they were born, and that they made this choice as mature spiritual beings, and not as children. On this scenario, the reason why they made this choice was that they wanted to acquire some virtue that would take them to a higher plane of existence, despite the horrendous emotional suffering involved. I freely acknowledge that the above scenario is mind-boggling and that it comes with a fair bit of metaphysical baggage (e.g. pre-existence of souls, and belief in reincarnation), but if a mature spiritual being insists on undergoing an incarnation, knowing the emotional risks involved, then I cannot see any reason why it would be incompatible with the goodness of God for him to accede to their wishes. (However, the critical assumption that I would question here is the claim that there are some virtues that can only be acquired through being raped or tortured. These, it seems to me, are not soul-making evils, but soul-breaking evils.)
Fourth, it strikes me that there’s one thing that Vela’s scenario overlooks. While the six-year-old is indeed God’s child, God is not a human father. Clearly, God has certain responsibilities towards the child, but they are not identical with the responsibilities that a human father has. In some ways, God (as Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and as the Heavenly Father of each and every human individual) is more responsible for the child than any human father could be. In other ways, God is less responsible: He is not the child’s primary caregiver, for instance. What that means is that there may be some situations in everyday life where evil befalls a child, and it’s not God’s responsibility to prevent it. Still, I freely admit that in the scenario described by Vela, the traditional Christian theodicies fail to get God off the hook. Clearly, Christians have a lot of hard thinking to do. And if they don’t come up with a good answer in the next few years, they’re going to lose the next generation of young people in Europe and North and South America to atheism, agnosticism, Deism or maybe Hinduism.
My two cents.
Not so, because my perceptions are subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous reality. Which is to say, my perceptions can be, and are, constantly tested against the entire body of observation made by instrumentation as well as people. And that means I can be wrong, and sometimes I am, and it means I can correct my errors, and sometimes I do.
Compare with those who think scripture is the infallible literal word of their god. They cannot be wrong, because no constellation of consistent contrary observation is allowed to suggest such a thing.
Alternatively, compare Dawkins with Kurt Wise:
That essay is a wonderful example of what happens when evidence meets belief. Dawkins writes:
This may be true but you tend to filter information that contradicts your materialist worldview. Your belief that you and Dawkins hold the high ground on intellectual objectivity is an illusion.
Inherent means that your explanation is by definition limited to your own perception and you are ignoring basic inductive reasoning. What did cause the predictable universe we live in? Its inherent is an answer that ducks the question and ignores the scientific hypothesis that the universe with observers had a beginning.
If so, it’s an illusion that has been the foundation of scientific progress for centuries, and still going. However, you are right that I tend to filter out “information” which is contradicted by observation and reason. After all, science hasn’t been using religious superstition to improve the world and explain our universe.
I’m not sure I parse this, but my best reading is that you have STARTED with the conviction that some magical undetectable agency is somehow creating and manipulating the universe. When asked for, you know, evidence of this, your best response is that those who do not share your delusions cannot be objective and therefore your delusions must be right! And you call this “reason”.
Current scientific consensus is that the universe did have a beginning, and there are few clues as to how it came about. What cosmologists do NOT do is imagine themselves a god, and claim that “goddidit, prove me wrong!” I see that “explanation” is good enough for you — you can’t even notice that it cannot be supported and explains nothing. But I do think it’s comical that you accuse others of your own disabilities. (And incidentally, you have no clue what “inherent” means. As expected.)
Here are the unsupported assertions I see.
What we are observing a universe with observers. This is evidence of intelligent cause. You have offered no explanation for this.
You have yet to form any argument for your position beyond bald assertions. This is not your fault in my opinion as I have not yet seen a coherent positive argument for philosophical materialism.
I listened to the second half of Loke’s talk, and it was just one rationalization after another. Strained excuses for remaining a Christian if you already are one. The question shouldn’t be “How can I interpret this so that it fits into my preexisting beliefs?”. It should always be “What’s the best explanation for this?”
You mentioned his Fall-based theodicy, which I’ll briefly summarize for readers. The idea is that when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, their disobedience amounted to a rejection of God. They didn’t want him around, so God honored their wishes and withdrew from the world. His withdrawal left the world in a fallen state, and thus we have mass shootings and torture and tsunamis and disease and all the rest of the evil and suffering we endure.
It’s a ridiculous rationalization. Where to begin?
First, there’s the fact that God himself was responsible for the Fall. He was the one who created the tree and placed it in the Garden of Eden, which was like leaving a toddler in a room with a box of matches. He created the serpent who tempted Eve into eating the fruit. He created Adam and Eve without the knowledge of good and evil, so that they had no idea that they were sinning by disobeying him and eating from the tree.
They didn’t reject God at all. They simply disobeyed him, not even knowing that what they were doing was a sin. And suppose they did know. If your teenager goes to a party despite your order not to, do you assume that they are rejecting you? Do you withdraw from their life?
God kicked Adam and Even out of the Garden. Why didn’t he reconcile with them so that they could stay? Is it really one strike and you’re out? Imagine if we treated our children that way.
Then there’s the fact that we, in the present day, are suffering because of what Adam and Eve did. Why? How are we responsible for their sin? Why aren’t we offered the opportunity to live in the Garden of Eden, free of evil and suffering?
God punished Adam and Eve for something they didn’t know was a sin, and now he’s punishing us for their sin, which we didn’t commit. It paints God as deeply immoral.
Then there’s the fact that God does intervene in the world, according to Christians. If he’s honoring our collective will by withdrawing from the world, why doesn’t he, you know, withdraw from the world?
The whole thing is absurd. And ironically, it tries to solve the problem of evil but ends up depicting God as immoral. Not exactly a successful theodicy.
Compare that explanation to this one: The evil and suffering in the world exist because God doesn’t care enough to stop it, or because he doesn’t exist at all. That is hands down a better explanation than Loke’s tortured rationalization.
I may address some of Loke’s other rationalizations in future comments.
Yes, we both see them, but they are yours. Not mine.
It is not. Just because I observe the sunrise doesn’t mean I caused it, or that 8 billion people watching it caused it. Or that any agency or entity in your imagination caused it.
There is no explanation for something that doesn’t exist. YOUR job is to provide something other than vacuous statements of faith. Your delusions are NOT an explanation of anything.
Of course you haven’t. Morton’s Demon prohibits this. For you as for Kurt Wise, “no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference.”
For me, evidence matters. Logic matters. Observation matters. But for you, none of this matters because you start with preposterous but unshakeable conclusions, and if nothing supports them, blame everyone else but never, ever, question your foregone conclusions. That’s the brain on religion.
Exactly what I said above. First, gin up a god out of thin air. Second, give him the power to alter reality as desired. Third, assign him human traits we’d like him to have. Fourth, twist ourselves into pretzels trying to explain why reality doesn’t work that way. And fifth, utterly fail to realize that if you ditch the imaginary god, you eliminate the problem of evil.
No I have not made these claims. This is your labeling fallacy.
We are not talking about a sun rise we are talking about the origin of the sunrise.
The vacuous statements of faith are on your side. Your claim here amounts to saying the universe with observers does not exist.
You are ignoring the evidence by calling it inherent. Evidence is only interesting when it leads to an explanation.
This is all you can think of?
Do you actually buy Loke’s explanation?
I wonder how other peoples minds work. There’s a(n apparently unbreachable) barrier between first person experience and third person comprehension.
He explains many things in the 49 minutes. What in particular are you referring to?
I scrolled through the transcript. Didn’t notice any explanations, Bill. Can you point me to one?
The Fall-based theodicy I wrote about in my comment.
I really have no idea what you might have in mind with “the origin of sunrise”. Best I can guess is that you believe that your god (NOT the god of other faiths, of course) invented or created or poofed the universe, and that sunrise is somehow therefore “originated” by your one-size-fits-all universal creator. That about right? Or did you have in mind anything about, you know, astronomy, which requires that you actually KNOW anything? Because waiving your hands and chanting “goddidit, and originated everything there is” has ZERO explanatory power.
Amazingly enough, I agree with you. The evidence for gods, is, well, uh, there isn’t any. Pointing at random, without the slightest knowledge of anything, and saying “my god did that”? is NOT evidence, and indeed requires LACK of knowledge. Which you demonstrate with clockwork regularity. However, lack of the slightest bit of evidence does lead you to the “goddidit” non-explanation for everything. Why you find non-explanations involving imaginary gods “interesting” is a question for psychologists of pathology.
Anyway, our universe exists, and plenty of well-informed people observe it all the time. And with careful examination, they can propose explanations for things that can be tested, a concept anathema to your delusions. Unless you can be history’s very first person to devise a test for your god which would convince anyone not of your faith. Wanna try?
Bill has never distinguished an avowal of faith from an explanation. To him, these are the same thing.
An intelligent creator is an explanation for how we have a precise relationship in motion of the planets makes life possible.
This is pure assertion Flint chuck full of labeling fallacies and a straw man argument. This validates why you need to make the inherent claim.
Does this mean universal common descent is a delusion. Where is the model that tests the transitions? There is plenty of evidence for the Judea Christian God. A few years agp Joshua Swamidass asked to look into and the evidence convinced me that the God of Abraham is the answer to the big question.
Here is an interesting alternative view to Loke’s argument.
Earlier in the tape he proposes that we were born with sin and how recognizing this and dealing with it is very freeing. Earlier he also shares reconciliation with his father through forgiveness of the abuse he suffered as a child.
This does not explain babies born deformed or other no fault suffering. I do agree with Loke’s point that there may be long term value in suffering that it is hard for us to see.
Good grief! “An intelligent creator” is nothing more than an admission that you don’t know anything about astronomy and you aren’t willing to learn. With precisely equal support, I could claim it was done by immortal leprechauns. Which would exactly equal your idea of an “explanation.”
If you ever went to school, did you blame your teachers when you got answers wrong on tests? Clearly basic education never penetrated.
No, universal common descent is not an illusion. The model that tests this is multifaceted – fossils, genetics, nested evolutionary structures, etc. All of which made predictions, and all of these predictions were validated. What does YOUR model predict? Basically, it predicts that no matter what happens, your imaginary god must have done it. But what will you imaginary god do in the future? I guess we have to wait to see and use hindsight as our “evidence”.
But hey, convince me. Trot out Swamidass’ evidence and lets look at it. And it had better not be “just look around – how could such a universe and all its detail have happened otherwise”? That would be a pure example of starting with your conclusions and claiming that whatever exists must fit. You wouldn’t want to be assuming your conclusions, now would you? This means you can NOT assume a god, and then attribute anything to it. Your god must derive from the evidence, not vice versa. Hint: how would reality be any different if you could only discard your useless god?
(And hopefully Swamidass can explain why YOUR god is the “real” one, and all the thousands of others dreamed up by other cultures are all fakes.)
Notice what you’re doing here, Bill. Instead of trying to discern the best explanation for all the evil and suffering in the world, you’re searching for a way to interpret the evidence so that it doesn’t undermine your Christian beliefs. It should be the other way around, at least if you want to be rational.
The vast amount of evil and suffering in the world points directly away from the Christian God. You don’t like that, so you try to make excuses for God. You assume that somehow there’s value in all of the pain, some value that we as mere humans cannot perceive. You have no evidence of that, but you assume it nevertheless because you need to assume it in order to justify your beliefs. For you, the conclusion comes first, and the evidence must be reinterpreted in order to fit the conclusion. It’s deeply irrational.
Loke addresses the problem of divine hiddenness (otherwise known as “lack of evidence for God’s existence”) by arguing that “partial hiddenness is necessary for bringing about a genuine relationship” with God. He uses the following metaphor in support of that odd assertion:
You are the parent of a young girl, and you’ve left a tray of sweets on the dining room table. You give your daughter strict orders not to eat the sweets. If you remain in the room, there’s no way she’s going to go for the sweets. Not right in front of you. If you want to test her, however, you can hide in the corner so that she thinks you’re absent, and then you can observe her as she struggles with the dilemma of whether to obey you or give in to temptation.
Loke thinks this will bring about a more genuine relationship with your daughter, but I can’t figure out why. Does testing your daughter really make your relationship more genuine? If so, how?
The metaphor makes even less sense when applied to God, because God is always “in the room”. He’s omnipresent, according to believers, so they think he sees everything they do. The fact that God remains hidden doesn’t mean that he’s not watching.
Christians seize on poor arguments like Loke’s because they’re desperate for defenses against the problem of evil. It’s an indication of how dire the problem is for them and how much better the atheist’s explanation is: the reason why God seems hidden is because he doesn’t exist.
Well, as Heinlein wrote, man is not a rational animal, man is a rationalizing animal.
To explain evil and suffering you must first understand the origin of evil and suffering. How do you think evil and suffering originated? What are the necessary conditions for evil and suffering to even exist? How do you define evil?
What does the study of astronomy tell us about the origin of the components atoms that make up stars?
I don’t have to assume God. You have shown his existence by your inherent claim. You cannot explain the order we observe through the forces of nature. The only ordering mechanism that we know is a mind.
Evil is God’s gift to mankind:
Why would a supposedly loving God do that, Bill?
What does your religion tell us? Yeah, I know, you gin up a handy god and blame that god for doing everything you don’t understand. But that actually tells you nothing more than that you are ignorant and cannot admit it. Worse, your imaginary god inhibits you from actually knowing anything, since you think you already do.
(If you could only get off this god kick and learn something, you might discover that there are some fascinating models of the very early universe, the quark soup, the gluons and their role, the re-ionization, etc. But hey, the great thing about your god is that you have a universal “explanation” of everything, you are never arsed to actually learn or think, and you can ignore the fact that your god explains nothing and plays NO role in any actual explanation of anything.)
Statements like these boggle me. We (that is, intelligent aware humans) know of countless ordering mechanisms. Any negative feedback process is an ordering mechanism. Watersheds are an ordering mechanism. Magnetism is an ordering mechanism. Sheesh! Not only are minds not required, they’d probably make things worse.
Now, I suppose your only argument, which you repeat until it’s no longer meaningful, is that your god must have created feedback, and water, and gravity, and magnetism, etc. etc.
The problem is, your “reasoning” is entirely circular. Where did everything come from? Must have been my god. Where did my god come from? Nowhere, it’s eternal. How do we know there even ARE any gods? Because look at all the stuff. Where did it come from? Must have been god. And around we go.
Look, your explanation for the origin of everthing is your god, and your evidence for your god is that everything had an origin. Tightly circular. Not even satisfying for children after about the age of 5, UNLESS they’ve been brainwashed into religion, and sometimes (as you demonstrate so religiously) they never outgrow it.
Tell us about the origin of the components atoms that make up stars. How did the “intelligent Creator” make them?
Do you know what the translation of Sin is in Hebrew? There has to be something called “wrong” in order to understand what right is.
You are right here as at some point you get to intelligent cause.
Your straw man is circular. Why do you think you need to use all the logical fallacies you do?
The observation is order in the universe. The conclusion is intelligent cause…based on the conclusion there is documented evidence of several candidate creators. The best explanation IMO is the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
Really? You can think of no ordering principles in the unverse other than your faith in an imaginary god? When I gave you a list of ordering mechanisms, you simply attributed these to your god, and now you say that your god did these things and so these things are evidence of your god! You don’t see that you are using your conclusion as the evidence for your conclusion?
The best explanations in the opinion of science, rather than god-addled morons, have the advantage of being both correct and useful. Your imaginary god had millennia to demonstrate anything like utility, and failed for all that time. Science has proved resoundingly effective in a tiny fraction of that time.
When you get sick, do you take an antibiotic or do you simply pray at the god of your choice? Or do you do both, and credit the god when the antibiotic actually works?
You have yet to explain their origin that does not require intelligent cause. You need to support your claim that God lis imaginary. I assigned them to intelligent cause. The assignment to a specific intelligent Creator is separate.
Where exactly did God fail? If you are possibly mistaken and God is real He created humans that created antibiotics which were only possible due to the characteristics of atoms that He created. If your children created a world changing medicine would no credit go to the person (you) that raised them?
Since up front you said that that capabilities of the universe was inherent is it not about time to consider that you may be badly mistaken in the worldview you are betting the farm on :-).
Your argument relies on circular reasoning. Creating straw man arguments to try and assign circular reasoning to your opponent, and using labels like imaginary.
Don’t you realize the need to use logical fallacies are symptoms of arguing a false position?
No of course I do not. I’m saying these things are just the way things work. YOU are the one ringing in something not in evidence, so YOU must justify it. The claim that watersheds develop based on a combination of gravity and gradients can be tested. Now, where’s your test to see if your god did or did not create watersheds?
No, it’s not my responsibility to prove a negative. YOU made a positive claim for a god, now produce one. So long as there is no evidence for your god that is not circular, your god must necessarily remain imaginary.
You are presuming your conclusion as a predicate. We cannot answer this question until sufficient evidence FOR a god has been produced. Your statement of faith, no matter how sincere, is not evidence of anything but delusion.
Sorry, but you must produce a god FIRST. You can natter about what you believe your god does all you want, but without the actual god your nattering is vacuous.
ONE of us is surely badly mistaken. My belief is based on evidence, yours is based on brainwashing. You go to your church and I’ll go to mine.
Sorry, but accusing me of your errors is fatuous. YOU are starting with your god, claiming that god originated everything, and then looking at everything that has originated and saying that’s evidence of your god! You may NOT use your conclusions as the evidence on which your conclusions are based. That’s circular.
Indeed, the entire problem with your position is that it rests, and MUST rest, on circular reasoning. It cannot rest on evidence, or on observation, or on tests, because you have none of these. So your position can only rest on hollow repetitions of falsehoods. Repeat after me: if your god is the only evidence for your god, you are Making Shit Up.
Do you think your God is too weak to make us understand evil and suffering unless we actually experience it? Why is that out of reach for him?
Suppose you’re right. How much evil and suffering is required in order for us to understand what’s right and good? How does God decide how many toddlers need to die under earthquake rubble this year, how many women need to be raped, and how many people need to die painful deaths from cancer? Haven’t we learned the lesson by now?
That rationalization is pitiful, Bill. Worse still, your own holy book tells you that God is the creator of evil. Kinda hard to make excuses for that, isn’t it?
It is your responsibility to support your claim that God is imaginary despite all the documented evidence and evidence from natural theology. A claim based on evidence is not circular.
You have provided no evidence to support your claim. On the contrary I have.
Just because you lack imagination to see the evidence does not mean it’s not there. The existence of a Creator is obvious from the observation of the make up of the universe. You have no evidence that a universe that supports life is a random accident.
It is not God that is weak. The problem is human nature. The next question is why did God make humans with the ability to sin?
If God was involved in directing everything then there would be no human development. The universe has to have probabilistic tenant for development to occur.
If I am right and we are not living in base reality then all this suffering is simply a temporary stage of the process. Something that can draw people closer to God.
My claim is that there are no gods. This is a negative position. If you claim there ARE gods, you must demonstrate this with more than hand-waving.
Look, let’s say I claim there are no unicorns. I can’t prove this, it’s a negative. But you can DISprove it by producing a unicorn.
Now, how do you propose I provide evidence for something for which there IS no evidence? What sort of evidence could I produce, which would convince you that there are no unicorns?
“Lack of imagination” is not support for your claim. I can dream up all kinds of things for which there is no evidence, which probably means they don’t exist. Waving your hands and claiming your imaginary god is “obvious” is not evidence. You seem to have a hard time understanding this. Gods explain nothing. Natural forces explain our universe, no gods required.
If evidence actually means anything to you, then you must be able to devise a test which would convince non-believers that you are right – and if you cannot do this, if you are honest, you must admit that you are wrong and your god is imaginary after all. But you can’t do this, because your god is make-believe. No possible test can establish that your god exists.
This seems to be one of the “proofs of god” I’ve seen around. This is the claim that fear, evil, and suffering are GOOD for us, because otherwise we would not mature as your god intended. In other words, if your god is good, and lots and lots of bad happens, then your god must have a deeper, more abstract concept of good and evil than us mere mortals.
To make this as clear as I can: If bad doesn’t happen, it’s because of your god. If bad DOES happen, it’s because of your god. Heads I win, tails you lose.
What mechanism generated ASCII code that allows us to communicate through simple typing on our computer. The answer is this system is the product of the human mind. Could the four forces of nature have done this?
How do you explain the origin of the transcription translation mechanism that generates amino acid sequences from nucleotide sequences (DNA). Can you explain this from the forces of nature?
Here is an explanation about the minimum mechanisms for any evolution to occur from Atheist to Christian biochemist SY Garte. Start about 5 min in.
Let’s see now. Your argument is, since people can invent things, your god must exist! Yep, good logic there.
You are really hung up on origins. For you, nothing complex can develop even given billions of years. And therefore, anything not fully explained by the forces of nature means your god must exist! And even if the forces of nature were completely adequate and a full explanation could be provided, why, that would ALSO prove your god exists! After all, your god invented chemistry, right?
You don’t seem to understand that if you conjure up a god that does and has done everything, you can put on a blindfold, spin around until dizzy, point at random and say “my god did that” and by golly you would always be correct! You wouldn’t have to actually understand anything.
You are still trying to use your god as the evidence that your god exists. Your god has become your premise:
1) My god exists and does everything
2) There is something, whatever
3) Therefore my god exists!
You can NOT use your conclusion as your premise. Try again, this time applying elementary school education.
This is a straw man argument. The first step is to identify intelligent cause with evidence such as the living cell. The second issue is the God of Abraham is not my god but the God of half the worlds population. Do you really think you have special insight into why half the worlds population is delusional. The only defense you have posted commits logical fallacies. Have you thought about why you need these to try and help a failed argument?
Your claim here is that I conjured up the God of Abraham?
I used the evidence of design in the cell. I am wondering when you will understand how weak straw man arguments are in convincing people of your point. Did you look at the video I posted?
I am a little disappointed that you appear to have missed my request to tell us all about the origin of the components atoms that make up stars. But if you can tell us about origin of the transcription translation mechanism then I would be ever so grateful. I am really curious how the “intelligent Creator” went about making that.
If you read the thread it should answer this for you. The components not only supply all the energy in the universe they can assemble to make living cells. Their properties were most likely pre planned with living organisms in mind thus requiring an intelligent creator. Did you watch the video Sy generated?
I have missed that. Perhaps you could give a brief summary?
This is worth listening to.
He discusses some of the cellular technology such as error correction and the transcription translation mechanism. Technology critical for any form of evolutionary change to start.
That’s not so bad, but it’s a bit of a long video. I have watched the first 15 minutes and searched the transcript, but I cannot find him explaining the origin of the transcription translation mechanism as executed by the “intelligent Creator”. At what time stamp does that start?
Alternatively, could you paraphrase in your own words?
Also, aren’t the ideas of Sy Garte quite hostile to your views, viz:
Sounds like theistic evolution to me.
His claim is no one can explain the origin of these mechanisms short of Devine intelligence. Origins are tough especially sophisticated one’s such as gravity. electromagnetism, living cells etc. The universe we live in is pretty sophisticated.
I watched your video from 5 min to 15 min, and pretty much fell asleep. I guess he gets to your point around 17 min. Although he calls it a “circular reasoning fallacy”, which it is NOT. Really, you guys and your labeling-everything-a-fallacy labeling fallacy fallacy…
It is known (and has been for decades) as “the bootstrap problem”. This was an interesting question back before we learnt about peptidyl transferase and catalytic RNAs. Since then, not so much.
Sy Garte doesn’t even get into it properly; all he does is equivocate the word “accurate”. And “code”, of course. You do know that the fidelity of nucleic acid replication varies over six orders of magnitude (10^-2 – 10^-8), right, Bill?
Is utter rubbish. You don’t need any error correction mechanism, nor translation for that matter, to have evolution start. You are indulging the “‘Twas ever thus” fallacy, as we have noted previously.
I couldn’t find a link to the transcript…
Heh heh, so you don’t have an explanation for the “origin of the transcription translation mechanism” beyond your conviction that God is ultimately the genius behind it.
As Jock already said, there have been some inroads on that front, but that is not what I want to focus on. Actually, I am fine with your or Sy Garte’s belief that the intricacy of the living world is proof for God. If that works for you, then I am happy as well.
What I am not happy with is when this is a show stopper. Do you at least understand that when you tell someone that “an intelligent creator is an explanation for X” this is insufficient for some of us and I mean not just for atheists. Some of us need to know how that transcription translation mechanism came to be or how that first living cell got going. And maybe, just maybe, we will discover that life did spontaneously start by self assembly of organic molecules. Whether that is by divine plan or not, I will leave to you.
Earlier I pointed out that religion had millennia during which Bill’s god could have at least provided some basic hints perfectly understandable to people, but instead chose to keep really basic knowledge a secret, despite the unnecessary ignorance costing humans half their lifespans on average!
But now I’m thinking that using an imaginary god as a universal explanation not only failed to enlighten anyone, it acted to prevent enlightenment for all those millennia. For all too many people, the “goddidit explanation”, empty of any useful merit, was fully sufficient for most people. And for the rest, civil enforcement of religious ignorance was discouragement enough.
That sounds somewhat too negative . It is true that the church opposed ideas that it perceived to be threatening (evolution being a prime example). But there were (and still are) plenty of religious scholars and scientists. I don’t see why faith should quench curiosity.