Friday* Link Roundup #34

I generally use this feature for links to things I didn’t have time to blog about this week but which I do think my readers will find interesting. This week I even missed posting it on Friday … whoops. But I guess that makes it a little more convincing that I didn’t have time to write full posts about this stuff!

  • Russell Glasser of The Atheist Experience posted some musings about abortion and “potential life,” which ties nicely in with the discussion we’ve been having here since last Sunday.
  • I never really thought about this before, but the etymology of the word “Jehovah” turns out to be pretty crazy. Another interesting question for when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door!
  • I learned, through a link in yesterday’s Question of the Week email, that the Christian god would never punish people for sins they didn’t commit. (In this case: aborted fetuses get to go to heaven.) That’s great to hear, because that wasn’t what I remembered about sin and punishment in Christianity.
  • Here’s a very articulate explanation of why many atheists don’t believe that Jesus existed. I would only add: What does it mean to ask whether Jesus existed? Are we talking about whether there was a dude by that name at that time in history? Or whether all the claims the Bible makes about that dude were true? I think Christians usually mean the latter, and that is much easier to prove wrong than the former is.
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8 Comments

  1. Ubi Dubium

     /  April 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Oh my FSM, I just went to the link for gotquestions.org, and I’m simply appalled at the complete doublethink there! They cite the bible story where god kills David’s son for something David did. Then they turn around and say “A God of pure justice would not punish children for sins they never committed”. Are they even listening to themselves?

    And if they really believe that the souls of aborted fetuses go to heaven, then isn’t that doing the babies a favor? Give birth to a child who may go to hell, or abort it and send it directly to heaven? Somebody who really believed this stuff ought to be advocating for as many abortions as possible.

    Honestly, sometimes I wonder why the True Believers’ (TM) brains don’t explode.

  2. Did you read the article on original sin? I quote:

    “we become responsible for original sin when we choose to accept, and act according to, our sinful nature. There comes a point in our lives when we become aware of our own sinfulness. At that point we should reject the sinful nature and repent of it. Instead, we all “approve” that sinful nature, in effect saying that it is good. In approving our sinfulness, we are expressing agreement with the actions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are therefore guilty of that sin without actually having committed it.”

    You don’t have to believe it (I’m no Calvinist myself) but to claim that gotquestions “aborted babies in heaven” article is contradicting its “original sin” article, when that very article explains the apparent contradiction, is kind of disingenuous.

  3. Yes, I did read it, but I found it an ad hoc attempt at explaining something nonsensical. Did you “approve” your sinful nature? I don’t remember doing that. Now, maybe my definition of bad behavior is different from God’s “correct” definition, but even Christians I should think don’t actually “approve” of their sin. What kind of excuse is this?

    And seriously. If the reason that we have “sinful natures” in the first place is because of what Adam and Eve did, as the article suggests, we’re back to square one in the blame game.

  4. It’s fine that you’re not sold by that argument, but my point is you were making it sound as if no arguments existed. “That wasn’t what I remembered” clearly implies that there is a doctrinal contradiction, not just that you found an argument unconvincing.

    UD – the whole point of the article is that David’s son was not being punished, David was. If there is doublethink in play, you have not pointed it out.

    As for doing fetuses a favor, yes, in a sense you are, according to gotquestions’ theology. But you’re also drastically overstepping the bounds that God has put on his creation. According to gotquestions, humans are under orders not to kill except in very precise circumstances; those circumstances do not include “unless you think you’re doing them a favor.”

  5. Aristarchus

     /  April 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Read a little harder, Dave. The answer about aborted fetuses says, “Neither an unborn child nor an aborted baby has had the opportunity to sin and therefore is not subject to the judgment reserved for sinners.” The original sin answer, however, says:

    There are two views as to why Adam’s guilt should be seen by God as also belonging to us. The first view states that the human race was within Adam in seed form; thus when Adam sinned, we sinned in him. [...] The other main view is that Adam served as our representative and so, when he sinned, we were found guilty as well.

    These two options are given as explanations of the Calvinist interpretation of original sin, which is the one they endorse.

    As for killing David’s son, you’re right that the “point” of the article is that David is being punished, but the obvious event occurring in the story is that God is killing David’s son. Now, either David’s son had sinned, which they’re saying is impossible for a newborn child, or God is killing an innocent person in order to punish someone else. And yes, that second option is probably what was intended. But then we get this:

    A study of the attributes of God helps us understand how He works. A God of pure justice would not punish children for sins they never committed, for the Bible teaches us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Neither an unborn child nor an aborted baby has had the opportunity to sin and therefore is not subject to the judgment reserved for sinners

    So the punishment for sin is death, and God would never subject a new child to that punishment because they couldn’t have sinned. Now, you can just say, “Sure, God would never kill a baby to punish them, but he would kill a baby randomly to fulfill some unrelated purpose.” That does get you out of this being a literal contradiction… but to actually believe that all without your head exploding does require the kind of mental gymnastics that I think could be quite appropriately called “doublethink.”

  6. You make a fair point, Dave. The motivation behind my link posts is that I would write entire posts about each of these things if I had the time and energy, but didn’t. I expected that some of this slightly more nuanced stuff would be inferred by my readers if they followed the links themselves, and I didn’t think about how it would sound if you just read the bullet point and assumed that was all I had to say on the topic. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that the GotQuestions.org article simply said, “Original sin, yay!”

    Anyhow, I did rather jump the gun in my previous comment. Aristarchus is right about the doctrinal contradictions he points out (thanks, dude) and it would have made more sense for me to go there first more explicitly. My intention was to say something more like, “They offer you this small and incoherent attempt at rationalization, and it’s seriously incapable of overcoming the rest of the articles and the clash between them.”

    On a slightly different note … I wonder when, according to this interpretation of Christianity, a child becomes responsible for sin. Fetuses, by virtue of not having exited the womb, are not responsible. It would be strange for them to use that standard as the point when something about one’s humanity begins … but how much older do you have to be? I am definitely troubled by the issue that Ubi Dubium pointed out, that apparently abortion (or infanticide, perhaps) is a guarantee of a soul going to heaven as opposed to hell.

  7. Thanks for the concession. Like I said before, I’m not a Calvinist, so I think I’ll bow out of an extended defense of their theology. Which, honestly, I probably find more bizarre than you do. :)

    I guess I can respond briefly to your followup question. Fetuses aren’t held to be irresponsible by virtue of not having exited the womb, but rather by virtue of not yet having the capacity for moral reasoning. There’s no definitive answer for when that capacity is reached, but I think most people put it in the 5-10 year range.

  8. Ubi Dubium

     /  April 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Dave, I’ll comment in response to your response, even though the commenters above have already done a pretty good job. If someone kills you because of something that your father had done in order to punish your father, how is that not “punishing you” for sins you never committed? Yet the article then says “A God of pure justice would not punish children for sins they never committed” But in your bible, god does this all the time.

    Try this from Exodus “..for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me”

    So if you simultaneously believe both that god will never punish children for things they didn’t do, and that he actually does punish children for things they didn’t do, then you are believing in a contradiction. Somehow both “A” and “not A” can be true in this mindset.

    Or, by this logic, you have just established that your god is NOT a god of pure justice.

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