Former Chief Rabbi Explains Why God Invented Atheists

While Jonathan Sacks is a top religious leader and even served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth for more than two decades, he has a profound “respect” for the non-religious.

He calls atheists “his majesty’s loyal opposition”.

Sacks, whose new book Not In God’s Name just hit bookshelves in the U.S., sat down with HuffPost Live and discussed the important role that atheists play in countering religious believers.

“I love them. I call them his majesty’s loyal opposition. I don’t know if that phrase translates into America, but you get the point,” he chuckled.

Sacks explained that atheists can pose questions that push followers of any religion, even himself.

“Why did God invent atheists? To stop religious leaders [from] getting too big-headed, to challenge us,” he told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. “[They may ask], ‘If God exists, how come there’s so much suffering in the world?’ An atheist tells me that and I can’t sleep at night, because it’s a good and valid point. But the truth is, you don’t have to be an atheist to say that, because Abraham and Moses also said it.”

See his full interview here.
http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/rabbi-lord-jonathan-sacks-live/560c3ec25a743c6f0a0001e6

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133 thoughts on “Former Chief Rabbi Explains Why God Invented Atheists

  1. I disagree with the former chief Rabbi. For me it is a fairly strange statement. Perhaps he is trying to be politically correct,.

    God created us to worship God but God gave us free choice to choose. We do not have a choice on the consequences.

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      • Jason, your premise that its either all powerful or all loving is false. One can be both.

        “Why wouldn’t God bring knowledge to us all upon death? It’s not like he can’t do that. There is no good excuse for an all-powerful being to condemn people for eternity. If He does that, He is not loving.”

        Again you equate love with something else. God indeed has given us knowledge, enough for us to make a decision. You dislike God for His lack of love using the love He gave in the first place.

        If someone breaks a law the judge will condemn. Does this automatically mean the judge is unloving? No, he can love and judge at the same time. God, to be a good judge must punish. Out of love He sent His son to be the lawyer for you. This lawyer, took our place for the punishment we deserved.
        This lawyer is Jesus. When we die Jesus will be there as my lawyer speaking on my behalf to God. Will you have the lawyer speaking for you or will you speak on your own behalf?

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      • “Why would God need to seek justice?”

        Imagine a judge letting a murderer go, a rapist or genocidal maniac after killings hundreds. Imagine God allowing people not to be punished. We would call Him a bad judge. God is just so His justice must prevail.

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      • Imagine if the murderer just said to the Judge something along the lines “I’m sorry, I repent, please forgive me” and the Judge then said “No worries then off you go, I’ll put my son in jail instead – he’s completely innocent but I’ll punish him instead of you”

        We wouldn’t call him a bad Judge so much as a stark raving loony Judge.

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      • “We wouldn’t call him a bad Judge so much as a stark raving loony Judge.”

        You might but many do not. That is what God did. An innocent lamb took our place for the punishment we deserved. It is amazing, deep and hard to digest but that is what the creator of the universe did. Out of love for us He gave His Son.

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      • Jason

        You set up a false premise.
        That God cannot be harmed. The Bible is clear that He weeps. Jesus also wept.

        But leaving that aside:
        “Judges and law are meant to protect the interests of the decided order of society which can be harmed by the selfish actions of others.”

        This is where the harm fall premise is thus made mute as God can be harmed.

        “There is no reason for Him to judge.”

        You thus made the comment based on a false premise. But even so a judge must judge. How can a judge protect if He does not follow the law and have others follow the law?

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      • Hi Alexie, yep the Judge is your analogy. So (apart from God) can you point to any other respected Judges who let the guilty go and punish the innocent instead ?

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      • Hi Bryan,

        Very mature. Why not tell me my Mum wears army boots too?

        The question was asked, the question was answered. As I said earlier the real failure is that you can’t break God’s rules into a real world analogy – there’s an obvious reason for that and it’s nothing to do with me.

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      • Bryan a question was asked and answered. Alexie doesn’t seem to have any problems with the answer so why do you? It was his question not yours (unless you’re posting under multiple identities).

        I dunno where you have your head lately but I’m betting it’s pretty dark in there.

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    • God created us to worship Him, but gave us freedom to choose, yet punishes us if we don’t choose worshiping Him? Talk about a cruel joke!

      I hope that if there is a God, that He actually is loving.

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      • So you would rather he force you to do so!
        Is not having a choice far more loving then making you choose.
        It would be such a bad fate if you did not chose God and then up being with Him forever anyway.

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      • I would rather God not be such a jerk. If I did not choose God, he could clear things up with me upon death. If he is loving and all-powerful, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

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      • “Choose life!” That’s what I heard in my spirit after asking the Lord how He would answer Jason.

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      • Eternal life with a being that tortures people for not believing in Him could very well be worse torture than the fate of not believing in Him. In good conscience, that is not something I feel comfortable in choosing.

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      • Who knows you better than God does, Jason. That gives me comfort, knowing that He sees through the facades to who we really are. I truly do see Him as Love, but I’ve also come to experience His holiness, and that is what fills me with terror, because I fall so far short. Still, it is my belief that I am forgiven, as are “all who call on the name of the Lord.” If that’s not love I don’t know what is. I wrote this down a few weeks back:

        “In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.”…..C.S. Lewis, ‘The Problem of Pain’ – page 159

        Liked by 1 person

      • If God sees us for who we really are, He has no need to condemn us. He should know us and know how to bring the appropriate knowledge and understanding to us.

        If God condemns non-believers to Hell, I would prefer to go to Hell than to go to Heaven and be stuck with people who see no problem with torturing others for eternity. I do not agree that torture is moral.

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      • If God is all powerful, he can easily share what knowledge we missed after our Earthly life. That does not take away from free will in our Earthly life.

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      • So why doesn’t God make everyone into perfect beings and allow them all into heaven? It would actually be more cruel if God were to do this, since many people prefer hell to the alternative (complete submission to God). All the people who end up going to hell will have done so because they actually prefer hell to being forced into the presence of God for all eternity. People like to live in their favorite sins and answer to no one else. They know that if they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior that God will want them to change their lives and they might have to give up some of their autonomy.

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      • Even without God, sins don’t go unanswered. People can’t just live completely selfish lives without any consequences. There are always consequences. No God is necessary for that.

        Why wouldn’t God bring knowledge to us all upon death? It’s not like he can’t do that. There is no good excuse for an all-powerful being to condemn people for eternity. If He does that, He is not loving.

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      • Why would God need to seek justice? We can not cause harm to an all-powerful being. What reason does God have to leave some to eternal torture?

        Either He is not all-powerful or He is not loving if He would allow eternal torture.

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      • There’s a whole other spiritual realm Jason that’s unbelievably horrendous. It exists! Then there’s the realm of light—God’s realm. That’s all I know, that, and the fact that God never stops loving us and trying to get through to us. I wouldn’t wish that other realm on anyone but the fact of the matter is that there is a darkness within all of us; that we are attracted to sin…..that’s just how it is, and that God in His infinite goodness made a way for us through the darkness. I’m asking God to reveal Himself to you Jason; to overwhelm you with His love. God bless.

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      • So your version of God is not all-powerful I take it? It would be great to meet God, but it seems so far that he must be too busy to reveal Himself.

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      • IF God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he seem successful? Why doesn’t he make a big splash across the universe for everyone to see?
        Because God is most often revealed in humble circumstances.
        We want God’s voice to thunder through the air. But God’s voice is often still and small; a gentle whisper. And nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper.
        It’s easy to fall victim to the voices of spiritual predators. Don’t believe anything unless deep down it resonates as truth. Stop and listen to the voice of truth—God’s voice, which lives inside of you.
        An Oxford University psychologist is reported as saying infants are hard-wired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned.
        Shel Silverstein, the brilliant comic writer, had his serious moments. He once wrote: “There is a voice inside you that whispers all day long `I feel that this is right, I know that this is wrong’. No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right. Just listen to the voice that speaks inside.’’

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      • Any belief has to be learned. It seems natural that humans would extrapolate that since we are born to parents that our species must have been born to some form of parent. Just because that seems natural and that our subconscious has an ability to connect information beyond our comprehension is not necessarily an indication of a higher power at play.

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      • “He could just drop the torture from his scheme right?”

        Great thought! But what is the mechanics of all this?
        If God is all light and love, then the reverse is hell.
        Good and bad cannot mix otherwise they would not be.
        So God must maintain His purity, heavens purity and ours in heaven. Imagine our planet with no love, no joy, no happiness, no hope and nothing of light. That is hell.
        So the torture comes from where???
        Not from God.

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      • The creation of the souls happened before the bodies. All souls believed in God and all were happy to please God. Unfortunately many would become entrapped in the material of this world.

        “When your Lord drew forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?’. They said, ‘Yes, we do testify.’ This lest you should say on the Day of Judgement: ‘We were not aware of this.’ ”

        (Qur’an Al A’raaf :272)

        On judgement day there is no, we did not know or we did not agree. You knew and you agreed.

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      • “On judgement day there is no, we did not know or we did not agree. You knew and you agreed.”

        So I’ve had my memory erased by the same being who expects me to remember an agreement I made, and then wants to torture me for eternity for forgetting?

        Liked by 1 person

      • God is all powerful, all knowing, and every where present. Doesn’t exercise any power in hell, is not present there, and doesn’t know if we will choose good or evil. Should I laugh?

        Someone told me that the God who we imagine will be reality, different for each of us. Tell us that God can’t do that, and I balk at the words coming from someone who says God can do anything.

        For me, I have no idea what or who God is. The creator of multiple universes is hardly the Father that Jesus spoke of familiarly as ‘Daddy’.. I know there is a Presence who is everything to me that ‘father’ person was to Jesus. My guardian and my guide and my eternal home, as the hymn says.

        Some hold God is omnipotent, some that God is evolving. It doesn’t matter, if you narrow your perspective down to something you can deal with – this world instead of the solar system, the solar system instead of the galaxy, and so on. Narrow it down to what the Bible tells you, or what reason tells you ( God gave you a brain!).

        Then we can deal with life as best we can, and trust in the outcome.

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      • That is part of the test Jason, Stu. To get over the materialism of this world and find God again. No use complaining about the rules you have already agreed to.

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      • “Good and bad cannot mix otherwise they would not be”

        But you’re save through grace not works – it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are just if you believe in and accept Christ as your saviour.

        According to conventional Christian theology the atheist Fred Hollows should be in hell whereas the serial killer Jeffrey Dhamer who converted and repented before he died should be in heaven.

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      • “No use complaining about the rules you have already agreed to.”

        1. I don’t recall agreeing are you sure I did. Do you have anybody who can testify to my agreement.

        2. Agreements made under coercion or made where one party misuses their position of power over the other party are generally set aside. The agreement void or at the very least most certainly voidable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “No use complaining about the rules you have already agreed to.”

        I’m not complaining, because the likelihood of what you are suggesting existing in reality is so remote, I just couldn’t take it seriously. It amazes me that you would accept something so unethical (like eternal torture) and be seemingly unconcerned by the conditions under which it is applied.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If God created and decided on how His Creation would function, He should be the one who assumes responsibility for his Creation and decisions.

        But it wouldn’t be all criticism for God, He gets all of the praise for good things too!

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      • But aren’t we saying, when we hate ( strong word, I know, but I really did hate God like no other, and I classed myself as a Christian for all those years) God, that we can do better than Him? And if so, then it seems absurd to even believe that He exists, let alone kid ourselves that we can trust and worship an inferior being to us! Either He is what He says He is (in the Bible) or He is made redundant by man’s superiority. Do we really believe we could create and run the universe better than God does?

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      • Just because we can do better in some aspects doesn’t necessarily make us superior. According to the Bible, we are created in God’s image … image is exact likeness. Maybe God is just like us, not always making the right choices. Maybe our God is one of many. Maybe He is not perfect. It doesn’t mean He is redundant to not be perfect. Are people redundant if they are not good at something? No. That’s not how it works.

        Could we create and run a universe better than God does? That is a good question. If we are an exact likeness of God, I don’t think it is out of the question.

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      • Hey Bryan,

        What are you suggesting he wouldn’t submit to appearing in any equitable jurisdiction?

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      • Hi Monica,

        But we try to do better than God on a daily basis. We have entire fields of human endeavour and professions that exist only to improve on what God created.

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      • Excerpt from: Have You An Arm Like God?: A Thematic Study on the Character of the Saving greatness of God in the Book of Job

        “God is sovereign and unable to be manipulated by His creation. No created being forces God to go against His very essence. God operates with complete freedom. His will is supreme. The clarity of His purposes are being worked out according to what God knows is best. Nothing a man does, whether wicked or righteous, will add to or enhance the greatness of the person of God (35:8).

        Men have a choice when confronted with the truth of God. They can respond through submission and service to God, thereby insuring they will know the blessedness of God, or they can stubbornly refuse to listen and die in wilful ignorance.”

        The one thing that we cannot do is to confirm the reality of the presence of God. “No one can do that for another person. Every confirmation of truth must be written upon the heart by the person of God Himself.

        Whenever creation is attacked in one form or another, it becomes an attack on the ultimate justice of God. Evolution is promoted as a philosophical reality, but when it is used to replace the foundational principle of a creator God, the issue of justice and the final judgment of evil loses any sense of power and hope.”

        God is calling us back to a clear understanding of creative activity that governs the universe. “Creation, right from its inception is an expression of God’s intended judgment upon evil.” The context and content of Scripture reinforce this idea of judgment written into creation from the start.

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      • We would have to know the truth of God first. We’re still learning.

        As for evolution, the evidence for it far outweighs any evidence for creation. The only way creation can work is if you completely ignore many scientific fields.

        Evolution is part of “God’s truth”. Hard evidence is more trustworthy than stories written by men.

        I still don’t get why God didn’t just write down the important stuff Himself, especially if Jesus was God in human form. If Jesus is God, then we have a rather ineffective inefficient God watching over us.

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      • “I still don’t get why God didn’t just write down the important stuff Himself, especially if Jesus was God in human form. If Jesus is God, then we have a rather ineffective inefficient God watching over us.”

        Jason, we wouldn’t need faith then, I suppose. And the God I’ve experienced seems to only want faith from us. I know, I’ve told Him to get stu**** many a time in my Christian walk because He wouldn’t prove to me beyond a shadow of doubt one thing or another. Many times I’ve turned my back on Him and given him the finger. I mean, what’s the point in pretending to be someone I’m not, after all he knows me better than I know myself. And each time I’ve been met with the same answer, “The just shall live by faith!” and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” In fact, for a Christian, “whatever is not from faith is sin”.

        I don’t understand why you would say that if Jesus is God, then we have a rather ineffective, inefficient God watching over us.

        It was necessary for Jesus to come and die to redeem us. “He assumed a human body. In Christian doctrine the Incarnation, briefly stated, is that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a man. It is one of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe. It is without parallel.

        HE CAME TO REVEAL GOD TO MAN

        The Incarnation of the Son of God unites earth to heaven. God’s greatest revelation of Himself to man is in Jesus Christ. Revelation is the disclosure of truth previously unknown. Before the coming of the Son of God to earth many varied forms of revelation existed. Belief in the existence of God is innate. Since man is a rational, moral being, his very nature provides him with intuitive knowledge. As the mind of a child begins to unfold, it instinctively and intuitively recognizes a Being above and beyond the world that he experiences.”…….. ‘Why God Became Man’, Bible Org.

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      • God could have just laid out the rules for us and left us a note rather than have to make a whole dramatic scene about it without leaving much evidence that Jesus even existed at all. If God wants us to know and worship Him, he seems to just be toying with us. That’s not very nice of Him.

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      • It would seem that God is the cosmic equivalent to President George W Bush.

        There are accounts from those who knew Bush personally that speak very highly of him. As an example New York Times columnist David Brooks described him as completely candid, charming and funny and said George W. Bush “was 60 IQ points smarter in private than he was in public”

        Yet the public perception is that of a bumbling dolt and arguably the worst president in US history.

        In a similar manner those who claim some kind of personal understanding of God speak highly of him ……………

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      • “No use complaining about the rules you have already agreed to.”

        Hey Bubba, what side of the road do you decide to drive on? Of course you can choose to drive on the wrong side but then there are consequences. You did not get to choose the road rules but it is much easier to follow them. No coercion needed for that. Just a happier way to live.

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      • Judges and law are meant to protect the interests of the decided order of society which can be harmed by the selfish actions of others.

        God can’t be harmed if He is all-powerful. So again, I ask, why does God need to seek justice? There is no reason for Him to judge.

        In regards to your other message that I can’t reply to about judges being loving – no, they are making judgements based on law, not love. Their job is to enforce the laws of society regardless of whether those laws are meant to rehabilitate (loving) or punish (vengeful).

        But again, an all-powerful God has no reason to punish anyone. If he does choose to punish, then He is not loving.

        In response to your message:

        —-
        “Why would God need to seek justice?”

        Imagine a judge letting a murderer go, a rapist or genocidal maniac after killings hundreds. Imagine God allowing people not to be punished. We would call Him a bad judge. God is just so His justice must prevail.

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      • If my premise that God can’t be harmed is false, then that means the premise that God is all-powerful is also false.

        So which is it? Can God be harmed or is God all-powerful? You can’t have it both ways.

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      • Hi Alexie,

        It’s my choice to drive, I get to make that choice in the full knowledge as to what the rights and privileges that are applicable to a licence holder.

        But I don’t have to drive, I can use public transport, get on my bike or even walk.

        And nobody will bother if I don’t – there’s nobody around who would threaten to punish me if I don’t drive.

        You seem to be having trouble breaking the rules of God down into a workable real-world analogy. I wonder why that is ?

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      • Totally mixed up Bubba, again!

        “Good and bad cannot mix otherwise they would not be”
        You stated:
        ‘But you’re save through grace not works – it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are just if you believe in and accept Christ as your saviour.’

        The two above have nothing to do with pone another. One is about God and being pure.
        The other is about salvation of humans.

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      • “But I don’t have to drive, I can use public transport, get on my bike or even walk.”

        Public transport: So do you ride on top of the train/bus? Hang off the back or underneath?
        Bike: Which side of the road? Maybe the middle of the road?
        Walking? Same as for riding.
        There is a choice still.

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      • HI Bryan,

        What side of the road do I decide to drive on – the side that suits me best at the time. It could be the left, right or middle.

        Depends on the circumstances. How about you ?

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      • Hi Alexie,
        You says “There is a choice still”

        Fantastic in that case I choose that God’s rules can apply to God’s followers and that they don’t need to apply to anybody else.

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      • HI Bryan,

        So do you always stick to one side of the road and never ever adjust despite the travelling conditions?

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      • Hi Bryan,

        Who’s being silly ? I think driving as per the conditions is much more sensible than ignoring the conditions.

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      • Hi Bryan,

        Well that depends on what the intention was. IF the intention of Alexie’s question was to find out which side of the road I drive on then I’ve answered it.

        IF Alexie had some silly ulterior motive to his question then that’s his issue.

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      • Hey Bryan,

        Right so it’s not enough to answer a question, it’s not enough that the answer is accurate the answer also has to fit in with whatever agenda is foremost in your mind at the time.

        Dunno if I can do that.

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  2. Sacks explained that atheists can pose questions that push followers of “”ANY” religion, “”EVEN” himself.
    So thoughtful of him to lower himself

    Note :-
    He did not say he could answer the questions.

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    • Sacks says Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts them together to see what they mean. And I think the people who spend their lives taking things apart to see how they work sometimes find it difficult to understand the people who put things together to see what they mean.

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      • Terry
        You forgot about the critical part .
        What ever question has it has a reference point of making Homo Sapiens EGO swell.
        Every religion is just a worshiping of Homo Sapiens by proxy.

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      • “Millions would disagree.”

        Those same millions have benefited enormously from scientific endeavours which resulted in the polio vaccine, despite their disagreement.

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      • “Not disagreeing with that mate. That wasn’t my point.”

        Fair enough, and I wouldn’t doubt that your admiration for scientific advance isn’t shared by most religious people in this country. My only point is that some people will ignore the evidence and hard work that results in, say a polio vaccine or the overwhelming evidence that supports evolution and conclude (a) miracle or (b) heresy.

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      • OK so what advancements has science given us that couldn’t possibly have happened without religion ?

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      • Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.’” (220. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah.

        Many inventions were inspired by the obligation on us to seek knowledge. These inventions and discoveries shaped the modern world in many ways. You mostly don’t hear about these in the classroom. Remember that next time you need to go to a hospital.

        http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/29/muslim.inventions/

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      • “OK so what advancements has science given us that couldn’t possibly have happened without religion”

        Based on feedback to date – roughly none.

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      • Hey Alexie,

        Sure it has, I’m reading wikkipedia and it tells me that the University of Cambridge was founded when two Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman. Yet it would be ridiculous to claim that capital punishment is responsible for the founding of a university.

        “what advancements has science given us that couldn’t possibly have happened without religion ”

        Still none.

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      • Perhaps you can do some real research on scientific institutions, hospitals etc started by religious folk Paddy. It ain’t that hard if you want to try rather than being a troll pretending to be simple. Funny at first but now just boring mate.

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      • Hi Bryan

        So when Alexie asks a question I get chided when I don’t answer or don’t provide an answer that satisfies you.

        When I ask a question then I should do some “real” research.

        How about you drop the double standards. Oh and what are your rules on censorship again ? Another double standard?

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      • And what about the institutions that don’t fit into your narrow little Judean-Christian worldview? We just ignore them I guess.

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  3. Meanwhile other religious people claim atheists are created by the devil to test them .
    Right back before any of today religions existed atheist have been gone after .

    It has always been about power to control the masses.
    Religions twist the question around from one about their power to a question about the value of the entity they worship that they placed them selves between you and it.
    The great con !
    “”How dare you insult me for you insult the entity by doing so “”

    Like

  4. Pingback: How did you get here? Why do atheists exist? | Essential Thinking

  5. atheists play in countering “Religious believers”
    Could that because all those “”RELIGIONS”” are not of the entities making ??
    No doubt Bryan will remove some instances that illustrate the mental problems of people claiming to be close to some entity.

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  6. The length of a mortal life is only as one day in any eternal plan. I would never willingly go through a great part of my own life again, though now I’m in calmer waters. But after all, in eternal eyes it’s just having a bad day and relaxing before bed-time. But for this, one needs to realise that there are more tomorrows. I can look back now and agree with Ms. Wilcox!

    What ever is – is best
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    I know as my life grows older,
    And mine eyes have clearer sight,
    That under each rank of wrong, somewhere
    There lies the root of right;
    That each sorrow has its purpose,
    By the sorrowing oft unguessed,
    But as sure as the sun brings morning,
    Whatever is – is best.

    I know that each sinful action,
    As sure as the night brings shade,
    Is somewhere, sometime punished,
    Though the hour be long delayed.
    I know that the soul is sided
    Sometimes by the heart’s unrest,
    And to grow means often to suffer –
    But whatever is – is best.
    I know there are no errors
    In the great Eternal plan,
    And all things work together
    For the final good of man.

    And I know as my soul speeds onward,
    In its grand Eternal quest,
    I shall say as I look back earthward,
    Whatever is – is best.

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  7. Some clearly state that the entity is all powerful and can do anything.
    What proof can Homo sapiens put forward that this universe is not being played over and over and over.
    This universe could have been re-run a million times as a sort of playstation recording .
    Well if you could make a universe why would you not make a recording of the event.
    And if you exist without end you would have to entertain one self .

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  8. I’m baaack!

    Now that we’ve heard all the venting by Stu, Jason and others, let’s see what the book of Job has to say on the matter.

    1) There are other intelligent beings in the universe other than man. The book of Job calls them collectively sons of God.
    2) These intelligent beings did not always know how bad Satan’s means of government is.
    3) That was until God gave Satan an opportunity to show his true character by how he dealt with Job.
    4) There are two ways in which to win heart-minds of people. Either give them more than the opposition gives them so they can be lured to your side. Or torture them so that they can turn to your side out of fear. Guess which one Satan used!

    People ask why God allows evil to happen? Look at the book of Job. It is probably the best demonstration of how Satan’s form of government works. If he cannot induce you to be disloyal to God by fame and riches, he will endeavour to use torture.

    Why did God “invent” atheists? Maybe so that the innocent can see where atheism really leads as a form of government, as a form of philosophy.

    One day every knee shall bow and say “just and righteous are your ways O Lord”. Not because they will admit this from fear, but because there will be no shadow of doubt regarding the justice of God. They will be sentenced because notwithstanding the evidence, they have deliberately chosen to ignore it.

    Every day mankind is presented with evidence that Satan’s form of government is evil. Every day people ignore it and try to sweep it under the carpet.

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    • Welcome back da Vinci.

      I must say that I was just fascinated to learn from you that there are still Christians about who read the Jewish folk/fairy tale of Job and actually take it to be historically valid. There are just so many things I could say about the matter, but I’ll confine myself to the following. First the story is a Jewish story, and Christian takes on it are not necessarily valid.

      For our Jewish brothers of course, Satan is not the NAME of a particular entity. ‘The Satan’ is an official of the heavenly court, whose job it is to interrogate and to accuse human persons, and naturally not an enviable job to have. One should notice in the opening of the Book of Job, it is a thoroughly civil discussion that goes on between The God and The Satan. It reminds me a little of the equally pleasant negotiations that are reported in the New Testament, when Jesus is chatting with certain of the ‘demons’ that possess people. (Notice the friendly chat there with the demons in the lunatic by the lake!) There is not at any time the slightest suggestion of reproach or condemnation of The Satan. The Satan is amongst the Sons of God at the start, purely because he is one of them, – that is, the Angels. That is the Jewish understanding.

      Next, the discussion between God and the Satan takes the form of a most immoral and degrading wager that simply wouldn’t do justice to the kind of higher Deity propounded later by Jesus. Disgusting too, that in order to have this cute little ‘contest’, it becomes necessary for a whole lot of Job’s family, servants and animals to be tormented and destroyed! They are all innocent, for heaven’s sake, and don’t deserve such treatment. I notice that there is no suggestion in the story that The Satan was out simply to torment Job, or to do harm to anyone, or even to be in any way evil. He merely wanted to prove a point, unpleasant ‘Court’ official that he was.

      I recall going by invitation to an address at a local Presbyterian church, in which the subject was to be Theodicy. I went with great interest, to see just what the latest theological insight would be. It was the most terrible let down, as the ‘preacher’/speaker gave no insight at all. He confined himself purely to a standard testimony about his own personal experience. At the conclusion, he topped it off by quoting the story of Job and stated that we should notice that in the end, ‘God came through for him’. It was a very lame finish. I don’t really think that the good fellow really intended his audience to believe that if they keep the faith, regardless of just what they might lose in life, God will eventually restore it all for him. But I don’t know. – Oh, of course, one MIGHT just take it as meaning that in eventually ‘getting to Heaven’, one has all and more given and restored to him. In the meantime, though it is sheer cruelty.

      The object of the Biblical book is apparently to promote a discussion of all sorts of reasons for the existence of evil and distress. Again and again I read among scholars that no proper conclusion gets to be promoted in the end. It is a very frustrating read for that reason. The God shows himself to be a pretty overbearing being who simply does whatever he likes. He does not really give any indication that he is any improvement over The Satan. Certainly not anything like the Loving Father that one detects in the teachings of Jesus.

      For me, the big moral in the book of Job, – rather like the ‘moral’ coming through from the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, is simply this: – ‘You cant fight City Hall.’
      Cheers, Rian.

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      • Hi Rian,

        An excerpt: Job: The Hardest Lesson, by Ray C. Stedman

        “God has displayed in the most amazing way his ability to work out complicated situations while keeping human life and the life of the entire world — with all their tremendously involved complexities — in beautiful balance. Now if you really see that, then you must trust God to work out these complicated problems of life.

        Job, overwhelmed by the vast might and wisdom and majesty of God, falls on his face, repents, and learns the lesson that God wants him to learn. Only God has the right to use men for whatever purpose he desires. In other words, God does not exist for man but man exists for God. God is not a glorified bell-boy at whom we can snap our fingers and have him run up asking, “May I take your order?” We exist for him. We are God’s instruments for the working out of his purposes, some of which are so vastly complicated they are quite beyond our ability to understand. There are many questions which simply cannot be answered because our calculating machinery is so inadequate.

        Now the remarkable thing about this book is the answer we are given: the fact that the backdrop to human suffering is the age-long conflict of Satan’s challenge to God’s righteous government of the universe. This answer is never given to Job, at least while he lives. At the beginning of the book you find God, Satan, and Job. At the end of the book, Satan has faded out of the picture entirely and God stands before Job with his arms akimbo, saying, “All right, I am responsible. Any questions?” The great lesson of the book is that there are times when we cannot be told the whole picture. There are times when God does not adequately explain life to us. There are times when we must trust that not all suffering occurs because we are bad, but because it can also be the source of some final good. The deepest note in the book may be struck when, out of the desolation of his heart and yet with the Spirit of God within him urging him on to faith in the midst of his bewilderment and confusion, Job says,

        But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 RSV)”

        Prayer:

        Our Father, thank you for this look into Job’s heart. Thank you for recording for us the struggles of this dear man as he frankly, openly, and honestly voices his doubts, airs his grievances, addresses you with his complaints. Lord, we hear ourselves, in our irksome petulance crying out to you, blaming you for our circumstances, unwilling to believe that you have a purpose behind them and are able to work them out. Lord, teach us to rest in you through the great and wonderful revelation that in every circumstance we are privileged to be instruments in the working out of victory over the enemy of man; to demonstrate once and for all that the only life worth living is a life lived by faith. We pray in your name. Amen.

        Well, I liked the teaching. 🙂

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      • Hello again Bryan,
        Again I can take it that you will not debate with me. A fact that every non-believer on this blog will be observing with interest and instructiveness. You duly acknowledged the quote coming from Monica there, but you clearly refrained from stating honestly and openly that you believe and hold the account in the Book of Job to be literally and historically true.

        (Bryan wont accept any challenge from me, but is there any Christian believer here who will similarly ask Bryan about that matter?)

        Now that was a very nice and pious piece that Monica quoted, but it really was all rather predictable. I’ve yet to discern just where all this ‘good’ can be coming from, as a result of the destruction and horrible suffering permitted by The God, in the course of the story. All of Job’s family, (other than his wife of course. Wonder just how she continued to survive without the support of her husband or family etc???) – servants and animals duly destroyed under permission apparently from The God. Not a single word in the account suggesting that these poor people and animals either deserved this suffering, or that they eventually had any rewards of eternal life granted to them, since they are innocent. (Or were they not innocent, and actually deserved this treatment???) No they are just pawns in the game being played out between The God and the Satan.

        It is fascinating and instructive to observe that The Satan just fades out from the story after the opening sequence. There is not a single word in the account to suggest that what The Satan is doing to Job is in any way evil. Satan is not criticized or condemned! The God is every bit as responsible for the horrors of it all, as is The Satan. There is simply no suggestion that The Satan is bad. Just read the tale objectively. As I said before, The Satan in the Book of Job is simply one of the Sons of God, – the Heavenly official who acts like the Prosecutor. This is the official view within Judaism, you must understand.

        Now IF you had found this story in any other culture or ‘sacred’ scripture, you would have rejected it with contempt. But because it is in the Bible, it deserves elaborate rationalisation and sophisticated justification, in order to get a good and decent sort of explanation out of it.

        Again, I compare the image offered in the Book of Job, with the concept presented by Jesus in the NT. The Heavenly Father described by Jesus would not play ducks and drakes with the suffering of innocent human beings, children and babies, for heaven’s sake; and even more especially in the process of some sort of bet or wager with The Satan.

        Oh sure, the sort of deity described here in Job is much the same as he is presented through much of the OT. As the creator and designer, he just has every conceivable right to treat the world and its inhabitants as he wishes. Might is simply right in this philosophical scheme. My guess is that in the Quran, the Islamic Deity similarly is described as having the power and the right and authority to do just as He wishes with his creation. And goodness in any conceivable sense simply doesn’t enter into it.

        Again I’m reminded of President Richard Nixon, who blithely and smugly stated that when and if a President chooses to do something wrong, it is not illegal. This is exactly the same attitude displayed by every human emperor, tyrant and despot since the world began. ‘I have the power and the authority, and every single individual under my sway must obey my word precisely, and defend my every decision. Any diversion from this will, according to my fancy, meet with just whatever punishment or judgement that I decide.” But I rather anticipate that no-one will make any attempt to answer the points I raise here. They will be glossed over in the usual fashion, since the Bible is the Bible and God’s Word is God’s Word.

        No, this is nothing like the kind of Deity that I revere and worship above all others. That story of Job is just so mythological and primitive. As I said previously, the best that can be said about the Book is that it represented something of a forum for various sorts of arguments in Theodicy to be presented and to be battled out. There is simply no decent philosophical conclusion. The only result is a very clear and final statement that ‘You cant fight City Hall.’ But that is really the problem with a great deal of the Old Testament.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Rian, you miss the subtleties and meaning of the Job story. It is the first poetic book in the Old Testament, addressing the theme of God’s justice in the face of human suffering – asking “Why do the righteous and the innocent suffer? It offers a variety of perspectives that deserve more than being taken at face value.

        The book of Job was described by Alfred Lord Tennyson as “the greatest poem of ancient and modern times.”

        Victor Hugo said: “Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work
        only, I should save Job.”

        Daniel Webster said: “The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful
        productions of any age or of any language.”

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      • Byran – it’s all very well to say Rian has missed the “subtleties and meaning of the Job story” but if you read it as a literal event (as some will) what is the “theme of God’s justice” as you put it?

        Here’s what one former Christian theist (going by the name “Theos”) has to say about the Job story:

        “Job is a story of god causing/allowing terrible injustice and horrific suffering on people essentially to win an argument with Satan. In Australian slang, it could be described as a “pissing contest”. Job’s family and slaves died violent deaths just to see if Job would sin. (Side note: owning slaves is a sin). God then caused/allowed Job to suffer physically (on top of the psychological trauma) to see how he’d react. When Job quite reasonably questioned god about events, especially in light of his righteous living, he received a lengthy and extremely condescending slap down from god for being so impertinent to ask him a question (see Job 38). And like a typical politician, god never actually answered Job’s questions.

        Job experienced horrible injustice for no good reason. Job’s family were murdered and he suffered psychological trauma and physical agony so god could win an argument. Job was humiliated by god for daring to ask a reasonable question of his tormentor. In what universe can you rationally conclude that the god that caused/allowed all of this is good?”

        http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2015/02/18/4182058.htm

        For Theos and myself, the Job story is a classic illustration of Epicurean dilemma and and example of injustice – how are we wrong?

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      • Thanks for your comments Bryan,

        But actually you have successfully backed up much of my contention about Job without knowing it.

        First, you have actually admitted there that you don’t believe Job to be a literally historic story. It IS an absolutely brilliant poem which I totally acknowledge. Perhaps as you suggested one of the greatest in all literature. Well, not really a poem until after the opening narrative folk tale is left behind.
        I have no problem with that whatsoever. The big discussion about Theodicy that lies in the main part of the text is again just brilliant. But again, it doesn’t settle anything. It relies on that Old Testament image of a deity who rules like a despot.
        But none of that does away with either the morality of the opening part of the story, or the despotic nature of the deity that takes up such a heavy part of the latter poetic part.

        I was interested to see the list of three enthusiasts that you quoted there. Daniel Webster – a great orator and Jurist among other things, but a wealthy elitist who didn’t really care about the ordinary person. He clearly would have no concern about the way Job’s family and servants etc got done away with in the narrative.

        Victor Hugo – described as being vehemently anti-Christian. So not particularly likely to appreciate the type of God depicted in the brilliant poem.

        Alfred Lord Tennyson – Pantheist perhaps? Certainly not one who believed in the kind of God either.

        Not one of the testimonies you quote suggests any appreciation of a religious elevation about the text of Job. And certainly no Christian approach to it at all.

        Just one other topic I meant to offer up. Back in the 19th century, the prominent Philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach was very influential in pointing out how the ideas we hold about God or the Gods are based on projections from within ourselves. The memories and images we have of our parents, and presumably especially our fathers represent the biggest qualities and characteristics that we apply to the deity or deities that we worship.

        Thinking back to my family, I recall the gentle kindliness of my own father; and I’ve no doubt that that image has well influenced the Deity that I envisage. Just think about it!

        On top of friend Feuerbach, I would suggest that the experience people hold of the kings and princes (and tyrants) that they live under, similarly influence the type of ruling majesty of the Deity that they worship. Notice that through the Old Testament, virtually every single King and Judge or ruler you read about, no matter in what sort of a Godly way each is depicted, is nevertheless distinctly savage in fashions that we would not particularly like today. Only natural then, that the God of the ancient Hebrews would give every appearance of a despotic sort of king who you have to obey without fail and to praise unceasingly. The outcome of failing to do just this, was to be severely punished and or destroyed.

        Oh yes, does anyone REALLY believe that the exact same conversation between The God and The Satan in the opening of the book truly happened???? Was one of the angels acting as scribe, and duly took the appropriate minutes of the assembly???? we cant blame dear old Moses for this. He was attributed remarkably with the whole of the Pentateuch, but he wasnt round for this one.

        Again, the narrative in first chapters, along with the rather awkward or clumsy happy ending to the whole book gives every appearance of ancient folklore. Nothing else! The material in between, just because it happens to be magnificent poetry does not automatically make it true, conclusive or moral. It addresses very clearly and powerfully the human condition. BUT it does not really touch on any sense of the real JUSTICE of God. Genuine Justice does not rest on the arbitrary decisions and likes and dislikes of the arbiter, even if it does happen to be attributed to a deity.

        There is plenty of brilliant art work in the world, that is superior to most other, but bears no necessary truth or morality.

        Cheers Rian.

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      • Ahh. Love the setting up of a false premise, with loads of bias and use that to justify the “injustice” of God.

        Atheists should break free of fundamentalist magical thinking and learn to read.
        So Ironic atheists deny the existence of God and insist that believers have to learn to live in the real world—and then complain that he does not do magical things.

        The Bible was not written by a magician but we adults know the fallen human has lived since the dawn of time. God isthe messenger of a small jewish group possessed absolutely no political power in either the Roman empire to which he went, nor in the tiny Jewish country from which he hailed.

        His mission to announce the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Much as normal people have always done, God worked within the stone solid “givens” of his culture. God is a gentlemen and will not force His ways. One must choose.

        so as an example Paul nor Jesus mentioned a proposal for eradicating the institution of slavery. Jesus was not a political reformer. And even if he had been, such reforms would not be possible for centuries.

        It is like complaining that Gandhi refused to end all war on planet earth. It’s a childish complaint.

        Now it would be great if mature reading, true rational thinking and open mindedness was applied to the story of Job.

        I willnot hold my breath waiting.

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      • This was hilarious

        “There is simply no suggestion that The Satan is bad. Just read the tale objectively.”

        Hahah. read it objectively. Funny 🙂

        Umm, how can one say this? Unless Job is the only book of the Bible one cannot seriously be asking or inferring that because Satan is not mentioned as bad that God somehow is wrong, bad or forgetful.

        A classic false premise, red herring or rubbish. Choose the description you like.

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      • Alexie.

        “Ahh. Love the setting up of a false premise…”

        Assuming you were responding to me, what false premise are you alluding to?

        “God is a gentlemen and will not force His ways.”

        The problem with this assertion is you can actually read Job and ask what kind of gentleman would torture someone to win a bet?

        “It is like complaining that Gandhi refused to end all war on planet earth.”

        That would be an awesome analogy if Gandhi had claimed to be the omnimax entity that created everything. I look forward to you providing the verified quote where Gandhi said just that.

        “…mature reading, true rational thinking and open mindedness…”

        By which you mean reading according to tradition, uncritically accepting interpretations of that tradition and refusing to be open to any interpretations that conflict with that tradition, right?

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      • Rian,

        Satan’s “bet” with God demonstrates the true character of this despicable entity. His arrogance in the presence of God and his inability to “see” the future confirm that he is far removed from the divine nature.

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      • “I challenge you again to quote me some modern historians who maintain that there really were huge numbers of Christians martyred in tthose old days.”

        Done already and Moss is not reliable and that was done already. You use sub standard authors, that is your problem.

        “I’m going along with their concepts, as I’ve pointed out before, since the Book of Job is their book”

        Yes, you are still wrong about Job. I know it is their book. This is why your comments are childish and wrong.

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      • Yes I thought so Alexie,
        You are totally unable to substantiate the old claim of huge numbers of Christian martyrs under Rome. The authorities you quoted merely criticized some of Prof Moss’s claims, but at no time did they or any other dispute the modern estimates.

        Re Job, I spelt out in detail why Job has many bad points. Again, you are completely avoiding addressing any of them. That is just as weak as water, old mate.

        Cheers. See you next time. Rian

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      • I don’t wish to debate with you Rian. That would be pointless.

        But Two points 1.Prof Moss’ book has been widely discredited.
        2. No-one – including you and Prof Moss – knows how many Christians were martyred in the early days of Christianity. You are basing your anti-Christian view entirely on speculation and wish.

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      • Ah Alexie,
        You are doing your typical wriggle again. None of the authorities you quoted who discredited friend Prof Moss, quoted any suggestion that there really were huge multitudes of martyrs under Rome in those first three centuries and that my contention is wrong.

        I have stated and agreed more than once that of course ‘no one knows just how many martyrs there were.’ We cant know. But every single authority you look at nowadays acknowledges that there were relatively few of them, – Just a very few thousand at the most. I’ve put this challenge out to a number of Apologists over the last few years and on a couple of forums, and no-one has come up with a single historian who agrees with the old traditional estimates.

        I did NOT rely on Prof Moss, as you seem to think, for my basic information. She was just the latest in a whole list I had read up on. Also, none of the critics you mentioned said anything serious against Moss’s actual information, research and details. They exclusively tackled some more or less serious omissions that she made from her work, along with some of her conclusions. They have pretty consistently applauded much of her research and the unique details she includes. You still have no knowledge it appears, about the Bollandists. Very important material.

        Some year or two back I gave the Blog a list of some 20 authorities and encyclopaedic references to back up my claim. (The only ones I’d found that even discussed the matter.) Not anyone came up with counter claims. You are clearly avoiding any attempts to back up those old traditions of hundreds of thousands of them. I suppose that as a believer in traditional Christian tales of the martyrs and saints, that you still believe in the miracles attending the martyrdoms of St Denis of France and St Catherine of Alexandria, or of St Ignatius and loads of others. Heaven help us!

        Now when I quote that Christian Apologists like Josh MacDowell and CS Lewis can be shown to have major flaws in their arguments and cases (and in Lewis’ case, even his Christian faith), I can immediately point to facts and writers to back it all up.

        So everyone please notice. Friend Alexie has not brought and CANNOT bring up any modern historians who support the old CATHOLIC tales of huge numbers of Christian martyrs under Rome in the first three centuries. Unless anyone else here can come up with such information, I trust this will be the last word on the matter.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • ONE MODERN HISTORIAN’S VIEW THAT COUNTERS PROFESSOR MOSS

        Writer Ephraim Radner, a historical theologian, reviews that “according to Moss’s criteria…The rule is apparently to read skeptically the writings of the past, but not to doubt the imaginations of present-day scholars. The whole book, however, begs for the latter suspicion. Her framing chapters on the dishonesty and dangers of “persecution” claims by contemporary conservative political voices and religious leaders easily identify her bias.

        Revisionist history as illustrated in Candida Moss’s book is indicative of a modern trend to discount the suffering Christians are enduring today.

        Christian martyrdom’s power, which is a historical phenomenon and stands as an important piece of evidence in its own right, is bound to its religious meaning. The two cannot be separated, and together they shed light on the early Church’s witness. Minimalist readings of that early record are certainly possible. But Moss draws radically negative speculative conclusions from it: It is all a sham.

        This isn’t history but an ideologically charged refusal to deal with the moral consistency of Christian martyrdom, both in the first centuries and as it is still in fact suffered. This refusal marks an indifference in the face of Christian martyrdom’s deep political challenges. The indifference itself hints at the irrelevance of her main project.
        http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/05/unmythical-martyrs

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      • Yes Terry,
        I’ve already acknowledged that there may well be faults in Prof Moss’s book. But your quoted authority once more makes absolutely no attempt to state that there were huge numbers of Christian martyrs under Rome. Get back to me when you find evidence for this.

        Quote me some modern historians and scholars who make claims that there were more than just a few thousand killed by the Romans. I’ve yet to find any. Old theological books and Catholic traditions do suggest huge numbers, but no historians or encyclopaedic references.

        Honesty and fairness would surely demand that you come up with such material to counter my claims. As i’ve pointed out, Professor Moss was NOT my primary source for this material. I’ve LOOKED for other information in a number of sources. Please find them for me.
        Rian.

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      • And as you have acknowledged Rian. you don’t know how many maytyrs there were in early days of Christianity. Anything more you say is sheer supposition and bias. Your claims are just your opinion. Nothing more or less. U nless you can come up with any proof. And so far you haven’t.

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      • Bryan,
        What I suggest about the number of martyrs was never just ‘my opinion’ or supposition or even bias. I believed the old traditions up until several years ago, when I started to research all the various histories I could find. I was shocked about it.

        If you or anyone else will have the guts to do the same, you will find out that it is the common understanding of historians today. And the evidence for it is very strong indeed. It is as near as you can find to proof.

        Again, just point me to some historians and encyclopaedic references of today that state that huge numbers of Christians were martyred under Rome.

        Cheers, Rian

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      • Thanks very much for the compliment there. You state that ‘It takes guts you say to admit you dont know’. well, a number of times I’ve stated clearly that I DONT KNOW just how many martyrs there were. Sure, I wasnt there. But neither you or anyone else on this blog was actually there in New Testament times, so you dont really know who or what Jesus was or just what he did. You are going by faith primarily, and then by a whole lot of circumstantial evidence. Christianity takes refuge in the statement that the truth is veiled in mystery.

        In one of my recent posts I went ahead to state plainly that there is really very very little that I claim to ‘know’. But I guess that as usual no-one here will acknowledge that I said and explained all that. It would be just too damaging to the common case against me.

        It appears to me that in constantly bringing up Prof Moss as the prime knock-down argument against my thesis, you guys are actually engaging in what might be called ‘selective dishonesty’. You take no notice of my many times repeated statement that Moss was only the latest in a big series of readings I located about the Martyrs. And it surely is dishonesty when none of you will come up with any list of modern historians and encyclopaedic references to prove that there were huge numbers of Martyrs. I’m still open about the matter, BUT it is still true that all the available evidence from the modern historical sources tells that there were relatively few of them. That doesnt bespeak claims to absolute knowledge on my part.

        So is there an honest researcher here or isnt there? Will anyone modify his condemnation of me in accordance???

        cheers Rian.

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      • Alexie,
        If you had actually read my comments properly you would have observed that I did not at any point accuse The God of injustice. I was pointing out quite correctly that the deity detailed in the Book of Job (who I dont acknowledge as the real ultimate God) demonstrates a very clear attitude of injustice. I dont know who it was of course who actually wrote the book, but it was clearly his/her ideas and concepts that were put into it. The ultimate God that I revere and worship would never be unjust.

        In arguing that The Satan is definitely ‘bad’, you are not really just arguing with me, but with a couple of thousand years of Jewish tradition. I’m going along with their concepts, as I’ve pointed out before, since the Book of Job is their book, NOT a book created by Christians. The Satan is an official of the Heavenly Court, like it or not. As I stated too Alexie, if you had found the story of Job in any other culture’s tradition, or read it in any other collection of sacred scripture, you would look at it and read it totally differently. You simply do not read it objectively.

        (Oh and Monica, since the deity of the story freely joined in on this bet with The Satan, ‘he’ is not really faultless in the matter. The Satan was simply doing his job in trotting about the world and reporting back in the presence of the other Sons of God just what he had observed. Like any good Prosecutor, he comes up with a scenario to test out one of the deity’s contentions. The whole transaction is clearly degrading and immoral, and just not worthy of any sort of ultimate Father God, such as the one here who freely gave every bit of permission for such horrifying torments. The deity is thus every bit as culpable as The Satan in the tale.)

        By the way, Alexie, I dropped the debate about the Martyrs the other week/month (?) purely because the threads of discussion had moved on. But at the time, I did mention if you honestly look back at it, that in none of the quotes from authorities criticizing Prof Moss, was there the slightest suggestion that she and all other modern historians was wrong in claiming that there were only relatively small numbers of Christian martyrs in those old times. I’ve got no problems whatsoever with any deficiencies in Prof Moss’s book. But she was not wrong in the essential thesis, as they pointed out. I challenge you again to quote me some modern historians who maintain that there really were huge numbers of Christians martyred in tthose old days.

        Yep old mate, I’m duly laughing back at you, you know.
        Cheers, Rian.

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      • Hi Mon,
        I can only assume that you’ve never really read the precise text in the first Chapter of the Book of Job.

        Verse 12. ‘And the Lord said unto Satan. Behold all that he hath is in thy power: only upon himself put not forth thy hand.’
        And then in verse 6 of the second Chapter… And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

        Looking at every word here, we see clearly that The Satan did absolutely NOTHING without the complicit approval and permission of The God. The God took virtually no persuasion, no pleading, no pressure from The Satan in the conversation. In any Court of Law of our culture, that would make The God a willing Accessory to Murder.

        Think of it this way Mon, if your dear husband said that your beloved grandchildren might be murdered in order to prove some point, and with no further argument, you went ahead to say ‘Okay, their fate is in your hands’ then you would be totally and irrefutably complicit in their killing. You would clearly be an Accessory to Murder!

        I’m reminded of one of the more despairing or cynical verses in Fitzgerald’s great poem of ‘The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam:
        Tis but a checkerboard of nights and days
        Where Destiny with men for pieces play.
        And hither and thither moves, and mates and slays.
        And one by one back in the closet lays,

        It just struck me that perhaps I have not made completely clear just what I’m saying about The God and The Satan in this discussion.

        In Judaism, The Satan is a high and necessary, but feared and rather hated official of the Heavenly Court. ‘He’ is designated as the Heavenly Prosecutor. And it is in such a role that he appears at the beginning of the Book of Job. However, it does not mean that he carries out acts of murder in his capacity. For the Jew, it is The God alone who decrees life and death for His children. Come to think of it, I don’t think that Christians conceive of Satan as carrying out literal murder either, although up to a few hundred years back, it was common for Christians to believe that all bad things that happen were brought about by the ‘devil’ or Satan.

        In the Old Testament, we see many instances of God killing individuals and their families for sins of disobedience and etc. Just as in the first chapter of the Book of Job, alien tribes were moved to come in and kill Job’s family etc, so similarly are there cases in the Old Testament of none other than God himself motivating other races and armies to come in and either defeat, murder or enslave the Israelites.

        So you just cant point the finger here at Satan. It is a specific negotiation, in the form of a bet or wager that goes on between God and Satan in Job. Satan states that while Job has everything on a plate for himself in his life, he is devout and good. But take it away and he will lose his virtue and spiritual integrity. God literally says ‘Okay, go ahead and take it away as you see fit. But I’ll bet you that he will stay firm in his devotion.’

        It is truly a bet – a wager; and poor Job is just a pawn in the whole game. It is God’s own power that is invoked by Satan. HE CANNOT KILL OR TORMENT WITHOUT GOD’S PERMISSION AND POWER. If he could have, then presumably that’s what he would have done, – or at least that is what Christians with their unique and distorted idea of what and who Satan is, would assume he would do.

        Sadly the Book of Job, despite all the beauty and powerful discussions and arguments of the central part of the text, is describing an untrue deity who is no better than any tyrant or despot in history who just acts arbitrarily as he chooses. There is no real goodness there. When Job succumbs at the end, he has been battered into the ground by sheer force and bombast. The story part in the Book is simply immoral, despite that central argument being brilliant, beautiful, poetic and immortal as literature.

        Just as I said in an earlier post, – like President Nixon, The God can do no wrong. If he commits an unjust or improper act, then by definition, it is simply not illegal or immoral. My God is not like that.

        Interesting as I pointed out before that whether he realizes it or not, Bryan has confessed that he doesn’t regard the Book of Job as historical or literally true. I challenged him and he answered, however obliquely.

        Cheers/Love, Rian.

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      • Yes Rian,

        I am not arguing with you. But what I personally get out of the Book of Job is that if God’s glory truly departed, all His protection/angels would also withdraw from His creation, and we would be in dire straits. And the story of Job thus reinforces my faith in the message of Psalm 91.

        91 We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods.

        2 This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. 4 He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. 5 Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; 6 nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.

        7 Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. 8 I will see how the wicked are punished, but I will not share it. 9 For Jehovah is my refuge! I choose the God above all gods to shelter me. 10 How then can evil overtake me or any plague come near? 11 For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will steady you with their hands to keep you from stumbling against the rocks on the trail. 13 You can safely meet a lion or step on poisonous snakes, yes, even trample them beneath your feet!

        14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him. 16 I will satisfy him with a full life and give him my salvation.”

        Cheers, Mon

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Mon,
        No I can assure you that I’m not out to argue with you at all. But you brought up a thoroughly legitimate point, and so I simply explained how I would answer it in view of my previous postings.

        As far as those magnificent verses from Psalms are concerned, – well I would have to say that I concur with them for the greater part. I guess that on the whole I prefer much of the material in the Psalms over a lot of that in the Book of Job. But as I was saying to Bryan in an earlier post, Job does have the most brilliant and devotional poetical versifying in it, regardless of how some of it still offends me.

        Of course I do have one proviso about the matter For me I cant have any suggestion that The God would or even could allow his presence and support from the world or from the universe. My faith as some sort of Pantheist would eliminate that possibility altogether. However for you as a Christian Theist, the end of the material world surely wouldnt be all that terrible? There is still the Heaven world ahead for you and yours, and that is supposed to beat all else, isnt it?

        Many blessings as ever, Rian. (Just great to talk to you the other day.)

        Like

    • “4) There are two ways in which to win heart-minds of people. Either give them more than the opposition gives them so they can be lured to your side. Or torture them so that they can turn to your side out of fear. Guess which one Satan used!”

      Guess which ones many Christians use! Believe so you can be saved from eternal torture! That’s a fear-based tactic designed to lure people to the side of Christianity. I would agree that it is an immoral tactic though. If there is a Satan, that would certainly be his work.

      Like

      • jasonshaw,
        actually you know, it is the person of the Lord who batters Job into submission in the latter part of the Book of Job, well and truly through fear. It was not Satan then was it. Satan himself had actually failed, and lost the original bet.
        Cheers Rian.

        Like

      • Oh come on jasonshaw,
        No, of course not. The deity that engaged in the bet with The Satan in the Book of Job shows himself not to be the great God at all. I suppose you could say that that deity was primarily the invention of the writer, but still based very strongly on the Old Testament god.. The ultimate God would never do a thing like that. Though mind you, I dont attribute the action of ‘doing things’ to The God I revere, at all. I am something of a Pantheist you know.
        Cheers, Rian.

        Liked by 1 person

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