Friday, October 19, 2007

A Christian's Response to 'God is Impossible'

In a comment on my first post, I had posted portions of 'Why God is Impossible' by Chad Docterman. Garrett Drew Ellis decided he would give a response to refute the post. Below is his response. (His response is in bold with the original post in italics):


Here’s my answer. I am glad you didn’t write this because you are much smarter than this. A large part of it, for lack of a better phrase, sucks.

What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete--it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

The bible never says God needs us and I would beg to disagree that just because you are perfect/complete that means that you don’t desire anything. I was a complete person without my wife but that doesn’t mean I didn’t desire her.
I also don’t have a problem with God having feelings. It just shows that we are more like Him than we think, that it is okay to be emotional.

But, for the sake of argument, let's continue. Let us suppose that this perfect God did create the universe. Humans were the crown of his creation, since they were created in God's image and have the ability to make decisions. However, these humans spoiled the original perfection by choosing to disobey God.

What!? If something is perfect, nothing imperfect can come from it. Someone once said that bad fruit cannot come from a good tree, and yet this "perfect" God created a "perfect" universe which was rendered imperfect by the "perfect" humans. The ultimate source of imperfection is God. What is perfect cannot become imperfect, so humans must have been created imperfect. What is perfect cannot create anything imperfect, so God must be imperfect to have created these imperfect humans. A perfect God who creates imperfect humans is impossible.

But what is possible is a Perfect God creating humans who were created in a state to remain perfect or to become imperfect. At the point of creation, this does not take away from the fact that they were created in His likeness.

Genesis talks about God creating man in His image, meaning with personality and being triune, body, soul and spirit. But then He also talks about a point where, if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, they would become more like Him. Knowing good and evil. This shows that they were innocent at the point of creation but while they were perfect and “good” in His sight, they were going to be faced with the choice to either stay that way or not. Simply because the highest form of love comes from wanting to love someone, not from not having the choice not to.

The Christians' objection to this argument involves freewill. They say that a being must have freewill to be happy. The omnibenevolent God did not wish to create robots, so he gave humans freewill to enable them to experience love and happiness. But the humans used this freewill to choose evil, and introduced imperfection into God's originally perfect universe. God had no control over this decision, so the blame for our imperfect universe is on the humans, not God.

Here is why the argument is weak. First, if God is omnipotent, then the assumption that freewill is necessary for happiness is false. If God could make it a rule that only beings with freewill may experience happiness, then he could just as easily have made it a rule that only robots may experience happiness. The latter option is clearly superior, since perfect robots will never make decisions which could render them or their creator unhappy, whereas beings with freewill could. A perfect and omnipotent God who creates beings capable of ruining their own happiness is impossible.

I don’t know where this rule came from but I have never heard it before and to be quite honest, its false. Adam and Eve were happy before they fell. And God creating beings capable of ruining their own happiness, choosing Him in the face of evil is not impossible. In fact, it is not far from a human father wanting his son to love him because he wants to love him, not because he has to.

Second, even if we were to allow the necessity of freewill for happiness, God could have created humans with freewill who did not have the ability to choose evil, but to choose between several good options.

What kinda choice is that?! That’s not a real, substance filled choice. I would rather my kids look at a table of vegetables and cookies and for supper choose the vegetables than to look at a table full of 3 varieties of cookies and choose cookies. OOOOOH, what a choice

Third, God supposedly has freewill, and yet he does not make imperfect decisions. If humans are miniature images of God, our decisions should likewise be perfect. Also, the occupants of heaven, who presumably must have freewill to be happy, will never use that freewill to make imperfect decisions. Why would the originally perfect humans do differently?

The point remains: the presence of imperfections in the universe disproves the supposed perfection of its creator.

No it does not. Its presence proves that real love comes in the face of adversity, not endless perfection.

God is omniscient. When he created the universe, he saw the sufferings which humans would endure as a result of the sin of those original humans. He heard the screams of the damned. Surely he would have known that it would have been better for those humans to never have been born (in fact, the Bible says this very thing), and surely this all-compassionate deity would have foregone the creation of a universe destined to imperfection in which many of the humans were doomed to eternal suffering. A perfectly compassionate being who creates beings which he knows are doomed to suffer is impossible.

They are doomed to suffer not because He wants them to suffer but because adversity creates appreciation and gratitude. A doctor doesn’t want you to suffer but he knows that in order to allow your leg to heal correctly, he may have to break a few bones and cause a little more pain before the process can really begin

God is perfectly just, and yet he sentences the imperfect humans he created to infinite suffering in hell for finite sins. Clearly, a limited offense does not warrant unlimited punishment. God's sentencing of the imperfect humans to an eternity in hell for a mere mortal lifetime of sin is infinitely more unjust than this punishment. The absurd injustice of this infinite punishment is even greater when we consider that the ultimate source of human imperfection is the God who created them. A perfectly just God who sentences his imperfect creation to infinite punishment for finite sins is impossible.

Whoever wrote this needs to watch out because they are placing a definition of what they think that is enough punishment for an offense in front of THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. Who are they to define justice when they are the ones committing the crime? They are not the victim so they can’t define the punishment.

Consider all of the people who live in the remote regions of the world who have never even heard the "gospel" of Jesus Christ. Consider the people who have naturally adhered to the religion of their parents and nation as they had been taught to do since birth. If we are to believe the Christians, all of these people will perish in the eternal fire for not believing in Jesus. It does not matter how just, kind, and generous they have been with their fellow humans during their lifetime: if they do not accept the gospel of Jesus, they are condemned. No just God would ever judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions.

The bible clearly teaches a two part answer to this question. The first part is that God works on both the levels of “nation” and of “individual”. Revelations talks about the fact that God will not begin the end time events until every nation has had an opportunity to hear the gospel. So they won’t have an excuse. The second part is that in regards to individuals, there are also two parts. 1 is that this is the reason for evangelism and the great commission. It is the job of the Christian to present, not force, the gospel to everyone they meet. 2nd, for those who don’t hear, the bible talks about the conscience bearing witness of God and this being the standard by which he will judge those who came before the time of Jesus,(the OT), those who die without hearing the gospel and those left on the earth after the rapture of the Church.

The Bible is supposedly God's perfect Word. It contains instructions to humankind for avoiding the eternal fires of hell. How wonderful and kind of this God to provide us with this means of overcoming the problems for which he is ultimately responsible! The all-powerful God could have, by a mere act of will, eliminated all of the problems we humans must endure, but instead, in his infinite wisdom, he has opted to offer this indecipherable amalgam of books which is the Bible as a means for avoiding the hell which he has prepared for us. The perfect God has decided to reveal his wishes in this imperfect work, written in the imperfect language of imperfect man, translated, copied, interpreted, voted on, and related by imperfect man.

Once again, this is going on the presumption that the fallen state of this world is God’s fault, which I think I made clear I don’t agree with.

But I will say that God chose to make the bible a book that would be inspired by God and written/influenced by men for the reason that our intellect and experience need both deity and humanity in order to work the way He created it to.

No two men will ever agree what this perfect word of God is supposed to mean, since much of it is either self- contradictory, or obscured by enigmatic symbols. And yet the perfect God expects us imperfect humans to understand this paradoxical riddle using the imperfect minds with which he has equipped us. Surely the all-wise and all-powerful God would have known that it would have been better to reveal his perfect will directly to each of us, rather than to allow it to be debased and perverted by the imperfect language and botched interpretations of man.

There is a world wide community of both scholarship (secular and theological) that agree upon what the bible says. There are a vast amount of Christians in community that agree also (with exceptions). There are even leaders and members of OTHER RELIGIONS who can look at the bible and agree on interpretation, regardless of whether they accept it as true or not.

It is so aggravating that there is a world of scholarship out there that answers all of these supposed contradictions in the bible but because people don’t want to really be open minded, they only search for what supports their bias. Now I am not a scholar and don’t have all of the answer but there are those who are scholarly. If you really want to know, REALLY WANT TO KNOW, search harder than just a blog where people with doctorates in theology, archaelogy and the like rarely visit.

One need look to no source other than the Bible to discover its imperfections, for it contradicts itself and thus exposes its own imperfection. It contradicts itself on matters of justice, for the same just God who assures his people that sons shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers turns around and destroys an entire household for the sin of one man (he had stolen some of Yahweh's war loot). It was this same Yahweh who afflicted thousands of his innocent people with plague and death to punish their evil king David for taking a census (?!). It was this same Yahweh who allowed the humans to slaughter his son because the perfect Yahweh had botched his own creation. Consider how many have been stoned, burned, slaughtered, raped, and enslaved because of Yahweh's skewed sense of justice. The blood of innocent babies is on the perfect, just, compassionate hands of Yahweh.

The Bible contradicts itself on matters of history. A person who reads and compares the contents of the Bible will be confused about exactly who Esau's wives were, whether Timnah was a concubine or a son, and whether Jesus' earthly lineage is through Solomon or his brother Nathan. These are but a few of hundreds of documented historical contradictions. If the Bible cannot confirm itself in mundane earthly matters, how are we to trust it on moral and spiritual matters?

The Bible misinterprets its own prophecies. Read Isaiah 7 and compare it to Matthew 1 to find but one of many misinterpreted prophecies of which Christians are either passively or willfully ignorant. The fulfillment of prophecy in the Bible is cited as proof of its divine inspiration, and yet here is but one major example of a prophecy whose intended meaning has been and continues to be twisted to support subsequent absurd and false doctrines. There are no ends to which the credulous will not go to support their feeble beliefs in the face of compelling evidence against them.

The Bible is imperfect. It only takes one imperfection to destroy the supposed perfection of this alleged Word of God. Many have been found. A perfect God who reveals his perfect will in an imperfect book is impossible.

Many of these” imperfections” have also been misconstrued, misinterpreted and misdirected. And they have also been answered by men who have the answers. Scholarship has come a long way. Secular society needs to accept the fact that there is more evidence for this than they think.

A God who knows the future is powerless to change it. An omniscient God who is all-powerful and freewilled is impossible.

This point is stupid. Freewill by definition states that you are “free” to do anything. Even place yourself under limitation if you see fit. And just because you set something in motion that allows people to make choices and you can see what happens to them in the future doesn’t mean its your fault. It means they had a choice.

A God who knows everything cannot have emotions. The Bible says that God experiences all of the emotions of humans, including anger, sadness, and happiness. We humans experience emotions as a result of new knowledge. A man who had formerly been ignorant of his wife's infidelity will experience the emotions of anger and sadness only after he has learned what had previously been hidden. In contrast, the omniscient God is ignorant of nothing. Nothing is hidden from him, nothing new may be revealed to him, so there is no gained knowledge to which he may emotively react.

Where is this person coming up with their rules? Just pulling it out of thin air? Having knowledge does not limit how you feel about it. In contrast, the more you know about something, the more of an emotional attachment you have to it.

We humans experience anger and frustration when something is wrong which we cannot fix. The perfect, omnipotent God, however, can fix anything. Humans experience longing for things we lack. The perfect God lacks nothing. An omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God who experiences emotion is impossible.

So the only time we are emotional is when we are in need? What about the times when things go right. We don’t get emotional then? This person needs to stop making broad statements because as I have said before, they are all stupid.

What you think?


I will post my comments in the comment section, so I don't have to put three different opinions on one post, since it may make it hard to follow. Anyone feel free to agree or disagree as you see fit.


Fiery said...

God's sentencing of the imperfect humans to an eternity in hell for a mere mortal lifetime of sin is infinitely more unjust than this punishment.

In response Garrett said...Who are they to define justice when they are the ones committing the crime? They are not the victim so they can’t define the punishment.

I would like to take just a moment to ponder this thought...

Since when does the victim get to define the punishment? How many children who have been the victims of pedophilia have EVER defined the punishment the molester receives? How many loved ones of murder victims have EVER determined the appropriate punishment for the killer?

Only with vigilantes and mob rule does this idea come into play of victim determining the punishment.

A parent who lashed their child with a belt every night for a week would have the child removed from their custody by social services. How is it just for god to sentence someone to eternal torment?

How will you feel Garrett when you look down from heaven and see those in hell suffering for all time? Will not your heart be moved by their pleas for forgiveness or mercy? What if people you know are down there? How will you enjoy heaven's bounty knowing that people you called friend are frying forever? What if you are one of the ones condemned? What if you screw up and commit one of the 7 deadlky sins in your final hours and are condemned to hell?

Anonymous said...

What i meant by the victim defining punishment was that if anyone can do it, they can. when you commit a crime against a person, that person is the one who has the right to say what is enough justice, what the price is in order to gain fellowship again. In an ideal world, this would be the case. But since this is not an ideal world, your right. Those children do have the right, when it comes to the price of their forgiveness, to say how high the price should be.

Richard said...

The 'Response' is hopelessly lost in derivatives and nonsense, in part because Doctorman's arguments were not sufficiently fundamental.

Who made God? How does NOTHING become Something? How does God become? Parmenides said, in its Latin form, ex nihilo nihil fit: from nothing, comes nothing!

Believers say God is eternal? Why, then, can't the Universe be eternal? Why do believers need an explanation for the Universe, but feel no obligation to provide such an explanation for their GodGhostMan?

One cannot sense God, one can only dream him up, hallucinate him or like Mother Theresa, pretend to Him. Most were taught to do this as children. Well taught, they would rather dismiss the evidence of their own senses --senses that tell them they are in a very real world-- in favor of a self-contradictory fantasy & its absurd trappings. So many are indoctrinated this way, it is no wonder there is a host (pun intended) of literature parsing the notions of God. Tens of thousands of books, all compiled with the intellectual depth and honesty of a debate on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The best argument anyone has ever offered, theologians included, is that
"God is real because the Bible says so. The Bible wouldn't lie because it is the Word of God". It is blatant, empty, circular reasoning.

All the aforementioned trappings of the Bible accomplish is to make the circle wiggly and superficially complicated so believers and detractors, alike, get so caught up in its derivative nonsense that they can't tell their backsides from their elbows.

An essential feature of a rational mind is to be able to distinguish the fundamentals beneath the derivatives. God cannot possibly exist in any of the forms religion ascribes to Him. From nothing, comes nothing.

Protium said...

GDE You didn't answer Fiery's question regarding how you will feel when your up in heaven side by side with your creator knowing many of your loved ones are burning in hell for eternity.

Of course it's also possible you've got the wrong god and will end up there yourself. That bloody Allah is a tough cookie.

Anonymous said...

In answer to fiery's question on how i will feel, i will be disappointed that they are there but i am so much in love with my savior that with Him is the best place to be. I wouldn't pick any other place or any other person, over it. Even if that means father,mother, family or friend

Protium said...

Garrett. I find that answer revolting.
I have no sympathy for you or your warped god who can build a paradise on the back of eternal suffering.
How could you live with yourself and your pathetic god knowing people in India who don't know your whacko imaginery friend or all of Islam or Buddists or even your own family are suffering forever because they believe something else.

Your a sad sick individual and I'm appalled at your response.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you feel that way. He asks us to make Him first priority in our lives and that is what i am doing. Do i not desire for them to know Him? of course i do. Am i hurt about the fact that they may not come to know Him? Extremely. But i love Him, the same way if love my wife and forsake all others for her, even though there may also be others that i could have had a marriage relationship with.
Sorry you didn't like the response. But it is what it is.

LiberalHearted said...

First and foremost realize, Adam and Eve were innocent, they had no awareness of good or evil.

God of the bible was perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient. All knowledge, here is where a major problem arises. This perfect God would know, already, the choice of taking the forbidden fruit.

Just as many Christians, commit the term loving father in reference to this God, how is it then possible a father would willfully allow his child into trouble?

The scenario is, would a loving father give a child a knife, to stick into a socket? Would a loving father give a child a knife?

Next, would a loving father, place a child into a bath, and leave the room?

Would a loving father, allow a child to play on a hot stove?

These are all depictions of innocents, children do not know what will cause them harm, Adam and Eve were in 'paradise' and had no concept of evil, logically they were innocent children unprotected by the bogey man-the serpent-Lucifer. The failure is God turned his omniscient back and allowed the bogey man in.(the child in the bath that may play with the hot water, or drown)

Therefore God is not perfect, not omniscient.

Next the description of God is jealous, omnipotent, is defined as all powerful.

How then can jealousy an emotion that refers to being a fault, or a feeling of being less than be attributed to God?

This cannot be an attribution logically to omnipotent. For one cannot have an emotion which comes from low self esteem.

Harry Nads said...

Protium and LH:

Welcome to my blog. :)

Harry Nads said...


That is a good analogy about God and children. I am finding that most Christian's use illogical means to explain the parts of the Bible that are not "good" and "perfect", especially that parts about God. being that way.

It took me a while to break down the automatic barriers I placed in defending the Bible. Eventually I had to turn to logic and fact, rather than mysticism and supernatural.

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

" This shows that they were innocent at the point of creation but while they were perfect and “good” in His sight, they were going to be faced with the choice to either stay that way or not. Simply because the highest form of love comes from wanting to love someone, not from not having the choice not to."

??? I'm not sure what you are talking about at the end there, to many nots in there to make heads or tails...

SO why did god need to put in this tree in, if they were already perfect? I mean why would you de-evolve a perfect being, especially if you are perfect yourself?

Harry Nads said...

"SO why did god need to put in this tree in, if they were already perfect? I mean why would you de-evolve a perfect being, especially if you are perfect yourself?"

The standard Christian response: "God works in mysterious ways" or "we don't know God's ultimate plan."

Dan Kennedy said...

This is a nonsensical attempt at refutation. I happen to be an atheist, and while I can see weak points in Docterman's argument, not one of the response arguments here hold water or even touch on said weak points.

Kibibi Mpiganaji said...

"This is a nonsensical attempt at refutation. I happen to be an atheist, and while I can see weak points in Docterman's argument"

Dan, can u point out some of those weak points? Because they seem pretty solid to me.

Seeker777 said...

I say the following as a fundamentalist Christian, so please bear with me. I have been struggling over the issue of how a "perfect" God could create "imperfect" beings, and
Chad Docterman's arguments appear very logical and well thought out to me, and he has summarized many of my own feelings in a nutshell.

I am sorry Garrett Drew, but I do not feel your refutation was strong enough, at all. I will say though that your arguments are very common with Christians on the internet, but I find them very unconvincing, and I doubt the unbeliever is being convinced by them, either. And I say this as a believer.

You stated, "But what is possible is a Perfect God creating humans who were created in a state to remain perfect or to become imperfect. At the point of creation, this does not
take away from the fact that they were created in His likeness..."

Sorry, but if God is "perfect" in the most broad, absolute sense of the term imaginable (as is commonly defined by men), then what you are saying simply doesn't hold water by
definition. If God is supposed to be "perfect" in this sense, we fallible humans would simply not exist, because our "perfect" natures would render any wrong choices impossible, even having libertarian free will.

If we would ever make a wrong choice, we were never "perfect" in this sense to begin with - simple as that. Satan and mankind would never have sinned even with free will due to a truly "perfect" nature -- period, the end.

Free will is completely irrelevant to the argument, and does nothing to support your position. A truly "perfect" being would still be "perfect" IN SPITE of free will, and would always use free will to make the right choice rather than the wrong one (no matter how much opportunity was provided to mess up) because of their "flawless" natures every single time.

Seeker777 said...

However, with all that being said, I do have a potential solution to this dilemma, but I don't how well you or other Christians will like it. I tend to interpret the Bible as literally as possible, unless if the context/content suggests otherwise, and interpreting it hyper-literally would actually make it into contradictory nonsense. In this case, while I am still trying to be as literal as possible, I am going to reduce down the common hyper-literal, hyper-broad interpretation of the word "perfect."

Many Christians say that the term "perfect" can sometimes be relative and I do agree. I believe Docterman's arguments are actually fool-proof and irrefutable when the term "perfect" is defined in the most absolute, broadest sense conceivable, and actually therefore CANNOT be the meaning of the term "perfect" as rendered by the Holy Bible, while having the Bible remain a Book that conforms to the law of non-contradiction.

I believe God is "perfect" -- but in the sense that He is the most "perfect" being that is actually possible in true reality, and not after the definition of the most "perfect" attributes as imagined by human minds. I also think there may be mystery too as to what the real intent of the use of the word "perfect" truly means where God is concerned.

Since God is the best being possible in reality, the "perfect God" as defined by Docterman (and some Christians at least) is not actually real nor can be real, and hence the argument for the existence of the real God of the Bible (while He is defined in this sense instead) has now in NO WAY been disproven by Docterman.

If you think I am dumbing-down the characteristics of the Almighty too much, ponder this: can God suddenly lie when Titus says it is literally impossible? Can God suddenly put those into hell whom He has promised to save who believe on Jesus Christ to the death?

Some might say I am destroying God's omnipotence, but I am not, because God's omnipotence is indeed limited by His nature. There really are things God cannot do, because His other attributes logically prevent it.

Thus, when unbelievers argue that God being defined as omnipotent, omniscient, and all-good, etc. is self-contradictory, they are indeed correct because they are defining the terms much too broadly and hyper-literally. I strongly do not believe God meant for His attributes to be taken to such an extreme as to make Himself into a contradiction. These dilemmas with God's nature would be much better defended and defined by considering that some characteristics of God naturally limit the degree to which He can exercise His other qualities.

With God's potential limitations now in mind, perhaps He literally could not have created Adam and Eve as incapable of committing sin while maintaining some other attribute of His holiness (like love), which is where I think the free-will argument can come in handy. The way you were arguing for the "free-will defense" though is not the same as my own defense just now because I logically limited some of God's capabliies first while it appears you did not. I thought I should add that tidbit. I hope I am on the right track here, because I feel my argument does make sense in this case.