Had our world been created by a moral designer, we might expect evil actions to carry natural consequences, in much the same way that other actions carry negative consequences.
For example, if we touch fire, we are burned; if we touch poison oak, we may break out in an itchy rash; or if we harass a rattlesnake, we may be injected with a toxic venom. All of these actions have natural consequences that could be construed as a message from the creator, one that says, “Hey! You ought not be doing that!”
Yet kill a man, or torture a helpless animal, or molest a child, and there are no naturally occurring consequences. There is no burning of the skin, no horrible rash, no risk of deadly toxins entering the bloodstream… nothing. Nature remains curiously silent in response to such serious offences, and this lack of natural condemnation seems incongruous with what we might expect from a moral designer (especially one so predisposed to judging evil).
If we are to know God through his creation (Romans 1:20), what does it say of a creator who passes up an opportunity to condemn evil? What does it say of a creator who designs nature to punish us for innocuous acts, whilst withholding punishments for even the most heinous atrocities?
Nature’s Ten Commandments
Imagine what the Ten Commandments might look like if they were based on what nature actually does condemn us for doing (or not doing). The list might look something like this:
- Thou shalt convert oxygen to carbon dioxide (breathe), or thou shall die.
- Thou shalt not trip, fall, or walk off high cliffs or ledges.
- Thou shalt drink water.
- Thou shalt consume plants and animals, but not plants and animals I have made poisonous to the body.
- Thou shalt not touch fire or things of extreme temperatures.
- Thou shalt not expose thy skin to the sun for extended periods of time.
- Thou shalt not expose thyself to extreme cold for extended periods of time.
- Thou shalt not reside in the presence of radioactive materials, select gasses, asbestos, smoke, poisonous plants or animals, or any other thing I have made harmful to the body.
- Thou shalt not consume saltwater, lead, mercury, or too much of any one element, or any other thing I have made poisonous to the body.
- Thou shalt not care for those with contagious illnesses, lest I cast their infirmities upon thee.
We might infer that these commands are of the utmost importance to the creator, seeing as how he has built natural consequences right into them. And yet, few of these offences would actually be considered immoral. There’s nothing morally wrong with drinking saltwater, or eating plants, or caring for the sick, so why attach stiff penalties to these deeds?
Now consider the Bible’s actual Ten Commandments. Few, if any, carry natural consequences. We can worship other gods, make idols, take the Lord’s name in vain, work on the Sabbath, disrespect our parents, kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, and even covet our neighbor’s stuff… all without God’s creation punishing us.
While God’s commandments may have been literally carved in stone, his creation does little to enforce them. God seems perfectly content to wait until the afterlife to punish us… which is odd… considering the number of things that nature punishes us immediately for doing.
Peanuts vs. child flesh
For example, for some, eating a peanut can have deadly consequences. Even an accidental taste can send them into anaphylactic shock. Their tongues swell, their throats close shut, and they can die as a result. All this… over peanuts.
Meanwhile, you could have a late-term abortion, fry up the remains, and consume them as a part of an elaborate Satanic ritual… all without any natural consequences. Your tongue will not swell, your throat will not close shut, and your body will even become nourished by its flesh! Why would God design a world that naturally protects peanuts, but not children?
Other Bizarre Consequences
And there are many other bizarre things we are punished for doing.
Refuse to breathe, and you will suffer immediate natural consequences; but blaspheme the Holy Spirit (the only unforgivable sin, according to Mark 3:29), and there are no noticeable side effects! Your face won’t turn blue, you won’t be struck by lightning, you won’t keel over and die, you won’t even get a case of incurable hiccups!
Or stare at the sun or an eclipse for too long, and you could permanently damage your eyes; but spend the day watching pornographic snuff films, and your eyes remain perfectly fine.
Or push too hard while defecating, and you may be punished with a nasty case of hemorrhoids; but push an elderly woman off a subway platform, and your hands won’t so much as blister.
And nature punishes us for many other irrelevant things, like letting mosquitoes or fleas bite us, or inhaling pollen, or drinking contaminated river water, or eating contaminated food, or straining to lift a heavy object, or staying underwater for more than a few minutes. Meanwhile, there is no natural condemnation for violating most of God’s commandments. Why not?
Assuming God exists, why would he design a world that did not punish us for sin, but does punish us for so many other irrelevant things?
One possible explanation is that all natural punishments are simply a consequence of the fall. But if God is going to initiate a system of natural penalties anyway, why not begin with sinful behavior?
Or we might reason that God is wanting to give us free will to do evil, but he will still punish sin in the afterlife. But if that were the case, why punish us for anything at all? We should have the freedom to do anything we want: rub poison oak in our faces, drink salt water, eat peanut butter, kill each other, dance the macarena, etc., and then be judged in the afterlife. Once God begins imposing natural punishments, he restricts our free will in those areas, and if God is going to restrict our free will anyway, he ought to begin by punishing those things he considers offensive, not those things that are irrelevant.
Finally, we could reason that there are some sins that do carry natural consequences, such as homosexuality, or eating shellfish. But there are several difficulties with this kind of explanation.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
— Romans 1:27
Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.
— Leviticus 11:12
First, there are so many consequences for various actions, we’re bound to find one or two that we can link back to something God considers sinful.
Second, it’s possible that the reason these things were considered sinful in the first place was because of the reactions they caused (e.g. “Shellfish has caused an allergic reaction, therefore God must not want us eating shellfish!”).
Third, if God is punishing people in direct response to sin, should we also assume there is a correlation between God and all other natural consequences? (E.g. does God really not want us touching poison oak?)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, why would God choose to punish these particular sins, but not others? Why ignore violations of the Ten Commandments, and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, but then go out of his way to punish homosexuality… and shellfish eaters? (And why punish only some homosexuals and some shellfish eaters?)
Natural Explanations for Natural Consequences
Assuming there is no God, can we explain all natural consequences from a purely natural perspective?
Humans can determine what is morally right or wrong using the tools of empathy and reason. We reason that it is wrong to kill, rape, steel, lie, cheat, etc., because we see how these behaviors impact others, and we understand how we might feel if someone did these things to us.
Comprehending morality requires the ability to feel, think, and reason, something that humans and gods should both be capable of doing. But nature completely lacks the ability to ponder moral issues, and only reacts to things that impact survival and reproduction. In other words, nature is reactive, responding only to success or failure, but an intelligent God can be proactive, and design a world where natural consequences are tied to moral offences. If the world were designed by God, this is what we should expect to see, but for the most part, we observe that nature is blind to matters of morality, acting solely in the best interest of each individual creature. And in most cases, the “punishments” we receive from nature can be directly linked to simple physics (i.e. burning, falling, etc.) or they can be linked to things that impact the survival and/or reproduction of a plant, animal, or organism.
For example, our bodies react negatively to things like the cutting off of oxygen, food, or water, because these things are vital to the survival of every cell in our body.
Plants and animals have also evolved many natural methods of ensuring their own survival and reproduction. Plants with poisons or thorns are less likely to get eaten, and animals with venom are less likely to be harassed or eaten (and it may also make it easier for them to capture prey). Even the bacteria and viruses that are harmful to humans are engaged in their own struggle to survive and reproduce. These plants and animals do not punish us for moral reasons, the pain they inflict is a side-effect of their struggle to survive.
When it comes to things like food allergies, our immune system is attempting to ward off hostile invaders. Most of the time this is a good thing, as it protects us (and our collective cells) from these invaders. But occasionally, the immune system overreacts, unknowingly killing its host. While this may seem counter-productive, nature is learning through trial and error. When these individuals die, these “errors” are effectively selected out of the population, improving the fitness of the next generation. (But what does this say of a designer, who designs some bodies to self-destruct over peanuts?)
But not every threat results in an adaptation. When something is harmful but never deadly, nature has little reason to force an adaptation. Likewise, if we did not evolve in an environment where we were constantly exposed to certain threats, there is little reason to evolve defenses against them.
The flip side of this coin is what our bodies naturally reward us for doing. For example, the brain rewards sex with more feel-good chemicals than just about any other activity, motivating us through pleasure rather than pain. In this way, nature rewards us for engaging in activities that result in reproduction. But nature doesn’t care if you have sex with your spouse, your neighbor’s spouse, your neighbor, or your neighbor’s livestock — your body rewards you with the same release of chemicals. (Again, what does this say of a designer who forbids adultery, homosexuality, and beastiality, but builds you a body that rewards you for doing these things just the same?)
In short, nature doesn’t care about what is moral, only what gets results. We are punished and rewarded for doing things that result in survival and reproduction. Meanwhile, a moral God should build nature to react to what matters to him most: morality.
If God exists, and he is a moral God, we might expect his creation to naturally punish evil; yet few of the things that harm us in nature could be considered immoral, and few things that the Bible insists are immoral carry natural consequences.
The bizarre, nonsensical, and haphazardous way in which natural “penalties” have been distributed in our world suggest there wasn’t much intelligent thought put behind how nature ought to punish us for our behavior.
God could (and should) have constructed a world where sin was naturally punished, and irrelevant actions were ignored. Such natural consequences would’ve made policing our world much easier, if every man were to receive “in themselves the due penalty for their error.” This kind of natural karma would also ensure that every punishment fit the crime, and would even suggest that this world was designed by an intelligent creator who was concerned about justice and morality. But this is not what we observe.
If God is truly the creator, and the commands in the Bible are his (and not man’s), then we might expect to see the creator enforcing his rules through his creation, but we don’t (suggesting the laws laid out in the Bible were reasoned by men, and not God).
So go ahead, and feast upon the flesh of your children as you blaspheme the Holy Spirit. God won’t punish you. Not yet. Just don’t serve your children with peanuts or shellfish if you or your guests are allergic… because, apparently, God has set some limits.
God has set up governments and law enforcement bodies to punish immoral acts. Man carries out his judgments. Moreover people are judged in some form or the other in their lives for immoral acts. How can you possible know everything right?
Unfortunately, man is woefully limited in his ability to carry out God’s punishments. In fact, I would argue that the overwhelming majority of immoral acts go unnoticed, unproven, and unpunished (just look at all the crimes that go unreported and unsolved). God surely could’ve done a much better job of implementing natural punishments for sin, in just the same way as he has (apparently) implemented natural punishments for so many other things.
While one COULD make the claim that karma somehow catches up with everyone in their lifetime, this is ultimately an unfalsifiable claim (and essentially impossible to prove or disprove). You can make this claim if wish, but the burden of proof is upon you to prove that it actually happens.
But my response to this claim would be to point to the millions of innocent children who are harmed or killed each year for no apparent reason. Surely they are not old enough to have committed any atrocities worthy of such punishment, and this suggests that these “punishments” are not the result of any crime. So while we can’t PROVE that all evil men are somehow punished, we CAN convincingly show that innocent people are being punished for no apparent reason.
If people can die IMMEDIATELY after tasting a peanut, then when a Catholic priest puts a young boy’s penis in his mouth, his throat should swell shut, and he too should die — and “death by penis” would seem just as normal and natural to us as “death by peanuts.”
Another things: A LOT of immoral acts are actually quite permissible by civil authorities but punishable even by death by God. For example, you can legally (in most countries, definitely in the west) commit an adultery but it was punished by death in the OT. At the same time many acts are not legal but were quite OK under certain circumstances in OT: mass execution of civilians, marrying under-age girls, having more than one wife, etc.
Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
3 John 1:11
Dino, every Christian will be put into the same place where Eve was when she was presented the serpent’s hypothesis that God is immoral and a liar. She had seen him so she knew he was real and existed, but we face the serpent’s questioning God’s existence as well as what Eve faced. We either believe the record of God’s Word or we believe what the serpent says and if we believe the serpent, we fall under the rulership of Satan without knowing it.
Jesus was also tempted but in a different way, although he still had to go with the Word of God as recorded in Matthew 4 where it says he was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to face the tempter. If he had done what the devil had suggested, and he could have, he would have obeyed satan and lost control of his world immediately.
Very interesting post, 500Q. You just seem to have a knack for opening up cans of worms! But you know how to do it in style…
500Q: “If God exists, and he is a moral God, we might expect his creation to naturally punish evil; …”
The bible contains some information about the purpose of the Law (10 commandments, etc) that Paul expounds on, saying that the purpose of the Law was to expose the workings of sinful behaviour, not as a hurdle to jump over in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus states that eternal life is not possible through obedience to the Law.
500Q: “If God is truly the creator, and the commands in the Bible are his (and not man’s), then we might expect to see the creator enforcing his rules through his creation, but we don’t (suggesting the laws laid out in the Bible were reasoned by men, and not God).”
Since man is not aware of the sinful nature at work within him, (500Q: “…and few things that the Bible insists are immoral carry natural consequences.”) how could man come up with a list of rules that revealed this invisible sin nature and to which man is naturally drawn through irresistible desire, and which he takes delight in doing, most especially when, as Romans 6, 7 and 8 explain, there is a rule that says you can’t do it?
Love should stop any breaking of the commandments: if you love your neighbour, you will not covet his wife, will not steal his/her possessions, will not lie to him/her, etc. But love doesn’t always work out, does it, since many a best friend has ended up with the best friend’s wife or husband, sometimes with a ‘natural’ consequence of murder/suicide.
If this were a human-based system of rules and not originating with God and based on love, as mentioned, surely it would have been copied or devised in other cultures as well. Is love mentioned in any other culture as a quality to be esteemed and woven into our lives in order to prevent harm? I don’t know; I’m asking the question.
Rambling on: First off, is the purpose of God’s creation all about prevention of evil? If that was the case, then, yes, we would see more natural deterrents to evil than we do, however, I would tend to think that nature would be overwhelmed with trying to keep man from doing all the evil they are capable of, especially when they hit puberty! Also, what Genesis describes is man falling into a pit of evil. If God had prevented Eve, and then Adam, from eating it, we would not have been in this state, and if the prevention of evil were his sole purpose in creation, God would have prevented the breaking of his one rule. But then, alas, we would also not be ‘as gods’, revealing more of God’s purpose in our creation, and far above merely being created to prevent us from doing evil, we were to be like him. Preventing us from doing evil would require us to be like our pet dog and cat to God. Unfortunately, yes, many innocents have been brutalized as a result of the evil made possible through God’s own creation, however, would God not provide for them all?
I see a similarity to the concept of Natural Enforcement when I tried to keep our teenagers from doing themselves, and others, any harm when, for instance, I proclaimed loudly that I was going to take the woman to court who gave my daughter some booze she bought for her. When, in my rage, I told my daughter that was what I was going to do, I could tell from the backlash from my daughter that it was going to cost me my relationship with her if I proceeded in that direction. When they were little children, they just obeyed, but now… they’re like us.. adults. If I keep treating them like children, they will choose not to see me. My choice. God’s choice as well.
It was a form of prison I was trying to keep them in, nevertheless for good reasons: to protect them from doing themselves, and others, any harm.
If I was God, always there, in their faces, through nature and through my own presence, turning them forcefully away from any evil, how do you think that would go, especially if I even went so far as to prevent 500Q from writing evil questions about me?
“Jesus states that eternal life is not possible through obedience to the Law.”
I understand that God is desirous of belief without evidence, but many Christians would say as long as one never violates the law (like Jesus), one can still obtain eternal life. And so, it is only sin/evil that separates us from God, and faith is only necessary to deal with the bigger problem of evil. So while faith is certainly a big part of it, evil is also a chief concern, and there are numerous examples in the Bible of where God has gone out of his way to punish evil.
“Is love mentioned in any other culture as a quality to be esteemed and woven into our lives in order to prevent harm?”
Absolutely! In fact, “the Golden Rule” has been espoused by many (if not most) religions in some form (see: http://www.teachingvalues.com/goldenrule.html). For example, a 2500 year old Egyptian papyrus contained the rule, “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another,” which was based on an earlier quote from the Ancient Egyptian goddess “Ma’at.” And in Asia in 500 BC, Confucius said, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” Hinduism likewise teaches, “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” So while Jesus also taught this rule, he was but one of many, as it does not take a supreme being to reason-out this pretty obvious deduction.
But just to be clear, I’m not saying that humans always reason-out the best rules, they don’t. There are many laws that different societies have come up with, and they often reflect the culture and the times. This is also very true for the Bible (e.g. laws on slavery). What I’m saying is that there are no laws in the Bible that we could plainly point to and say, “Holy cow! There is simply no way a human could’ve ever come up with that law!” And I would go so far as to say that many of the hundreds of laws in the Bible are just plain ridiculous. But what I’m REALLY getting at is that IF the author of the Bible were also the author of nature, then we might observe a connection between the laws in the Bible and the laws of nature. But if nature is the author of nature, then we will see only the natural intent, which is what I believe we observe.
“If God had prevented Eve, and then Adam, from eating it, we would not have been in this state, and if the prevention of evil were his sole purpose in creation…”
First of all, bare in mind that Adam WAS actually PUNISHED for his sin, and this is a practice that should have continued with every natural sin. But it’s not necessary to prevent evil (just as Adam was never prevented from doing evil), it’s only necessary to punish evil, or at least have nature hinting that the behavior is undesirable to God. Sin should have natural side-effects, just as we already have natural side-effects for so many other things. It would even be okay if humans found ways around those natural punishments (e.g. condoms to prevent STDs), so long as nature had made it clear that there was something undesirable about the behavior.
Yes, 500Q, I understood your point, and its very well made, but its what I would call ‘circumstantial evidence’ if it was to be used in a case for murder, say, in a criminal trial where you want to prove that God is dead, or didn’t exist. It lacks the strength of the equivalent of what DNA evidence would mean in such a trial, whatever that would look like. And, as I’ve said, the Law from God was all about revealing sin resulting from the fallen state of man, nothing else. Even with God shadowing the Children of Israel in the wilderness, sin still happened and they repeatedly failed, so its safe to conclude that with man, it has been demonstrated that sinlessness is impossible.
Interesting that many other cultures and religions have a ‘do unto others…’ message. Believers, like me of course, would say that’s evidence that God intervened in their cultures for their benefit and not read it as evidence against the reality of God in Moses’ books.
That reminds me of a joke told by a pastor and qualified psychologist to a crowd of us once about a fictitious patient who was being treated for his condition where he was convinced he was dead. The psychiatrist asked him if he could poke him with a knife to see if he bled in order to prove to him that he was alive. Well, he poked him, he of course bled and then exclaimed, “Wow! Dead men really do bleed!”
Like that fictitious patient, my bias is toward belief, but unlike what so many tell me that “It just takes faith to believe without seeing”, and “I understand that God is desirous of belief without evidence…”, I just don’t get that; I have evidence without which I never would have believed in a way that has lasted since September, 1978, just a year and a half after I read and prayed the ‘Sinners’ Prayer’ from a pamphlet called The Four Spiritual Laws distributed through the Campus Crusade for Christ by Billy Graham’s organization and given to me by one of their workers who lived in the same apartment building as me. I was all alone too at the time I read it. No human was there to urge me on. I was trying to clean up my bachelor pad and over a period of a couple of weeks I tried twice to toss it out, was actually holding it over the trash can but could not dump it until I read it, cover to cover.
500Q: “…but many Christians would say as long as one never violates the law (like Jesus), one can still obtain eternal life.”
I wonder how can those Christians believe that when it says in John 5:39 (Jesus speaking) “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;”
Since keeping the law completely has never been done by anyone other than Jesus, and since the offer Jesus makes is free, why would anyone hesitate to take Him up on it, as Jesus asks in the next verse: John 5:40 “…and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”
Other than for Jesus, living sinlessly is impossible: Romans 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” and Matthew 5:27, 28 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Most men would humbly say the requirement not to look at a woman with lust is beyond them. Ironically, and I realize I’m giving you some more ammunition with this: that type of sin is seldom pursued from the pulpit and not nearly as often as homosexuality when homosexuals would easily escape the guilt of lusting after a woman! Even more tragic than ironic is the scriptures in Romans 1, dealing with homosexuality, contain a warning by Paul not to judge, yet the very same scriptures are used to do just that!
Yes, I know…
What a great post!! You’re so right. Why would God create people to have a peanut allergy but not a young boy penis allergy?!! I love your posts!!!
This post is most DEFINITELY going into my Favorites! Wow! Outstanding 500! Bravo.
I’ve actually wondered the same thing, but from the other side of the coin. Why isn’t “doing the right thing” rewarded? I don’t mean with the warm, fuzzy feeling inside (or promised riches in heaven), but with actual, visible/tangible results, that others might recognize and wish to emulate.
I’ve often wondered why the top 100 music songs world wide are not criticized or challenged just as people passionately challenge biblical teachings. I’ve often wondered why “it’s cool” to be bad. Songs on the radio are about sex, getting drunk, making lots of money, being better than everyone else, me-me-me, etc. Why is that the normal? I mean someone on 500Q took the time to talk about poison ivy being God’s mistake? (lol) that was hilarious! God does not say he’s perfect… Read the bible! Man says God is perfect, not God. Do you have a father? Now, as a child do you remember, “dad is always right?” Eventually you get older and because your dad was always right you grew to be wiser, despite the times he may have been wrong. Unfortunetley, there are a lot of dad’s that are scum and teach their children The “top 40” you could say. The Bible is supposed to help people live wisley and be inspired to be and do good! Now songs about sex, drinking, and being a jerk inspire what? People are brain washed into being evil just as bible thumpers are inspired to do good. Look at people in prison; at some point, 100% bad. Now look at bible thumpers; not 100% good, but I’ll take that any day on earth vs. promoters of mayhem. Mayhem, I say because that’s exactly what this world was before a wide percentage of it was convinced of biblical prophecies.
“Thou shall breath!” Again, that was entertaining to read (lol). Is it true? Sure if you don’t want to believe in God; have at it, live a life that top 40 music promotes, do what hollywood tells you is ok to do, go to McDonald’s after you see their commericial. Go ahead and live, and obey your truth. YOU are the very people we are trying to help come to the other side. If the balance in this world were more toward the side of non-biblical believers, you would have never been given the freedom to write nonsense, nor I. But, think about what type of person, you want by your side during a climactic event in your life? Would you want someone to pull you out of a burning house or leave you for dead, because “thou shall breathe?”
“God does not say he’s perfect… Read the bible!”
For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s “good” to be “bad.” I try to be good for goodness sake, not because there is some eternal reward in it for me.
There are many wonderful folks from many different religions, and I have no doubt that their religious beliefs inspire them to be better people (just as it can also inspire them to fly planes into buildings), but that doesn’t add any truth to what they believe. Sure, it’s NICE to believe that if you do what God wants, you will die and be given a mansion, or 72 virgins, or whatever, but that doesn’t make it true. It may make you a better person (or a worse person), and that may be a desirable side-effect of sincerely believing a myth, but that’s just not how truth is measured.
We ought to do good because it is reasonable, and because it’s the right thing to do; even when no one is watching, YOU are always watching. Having a clear conscience, and being able to sleep soundly at night, is reason enough to do the right thing.
You missed my point, just like I’m missing yours and you are correct, you will never convice a full blown Christian that God does not exist. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t see anyone convincing you that God is who some of us call our creator.
On a positive note I commend you for naturally being a good person! I, honestly couldn’t do it; it took me believing in God to do the things you do, because you are who you are. Someone like you is invaluable to the many organizations such as homeless shelters, feed the children, foster care, poor urban communities, United way, Goodwill, etc. All the volunteer work and money you have offered/given to such organizations is great! They need people like you that are simply good for goodness sake. Thank you! I wish all non-believers were awesome like you. Please accept my genuine God Bless you and keep up the good work!
Am I being sarcastic? I don’t know. Convince me you are the real deal. You mentioned YOU “try to be good for goodness sake.” If you don’t do half of the things I mentioned, try harder. Don’t waste your time debating on something you don’t believe in. As a former athiest, talking about God, whom I didn’t believe in about 15 months ago, is something I just didn’t do.(I am now in my 40’s) It made zero sense to argue/debate about something I didn’t believe in.
That’s basically the logic behind the prosperity gospel folks.
How would you want God to enforce such evil action? What kind of consequences can be implemented? What would a world look like if every evil action carries natural consequences? God could intercept the murderer bullet and turn the bullet around. Gold could turn the assassin’s knife into jelly or for that matter make the knife turn on himself. Or change a rioters club to cotton. What about the moral consequences to those who do not believe in God? This is the first commandment and it must be one of the greatest sins, even worse than killing. Should everyone get a headache every time he thinks against God? Should every mouth be filled with soap every time we speak against God?
How would you want god to punish every evil action? Imagine if we got an electrical shock every time we did something wrong. I think this would be a good deterrent. But, then again we will not stop doing bad things knowing we will get a shock? In the same way drug addicts and smokers will not stop, even when they know that harm will come to them later. God would have to remove us or permanently give us pain, and if God does instantly punished or destroyed every person who kills or do bad things then how many would be alive or free from pain today? The number would have to include all the parents and doctors who aborted their children. And if those people were instantly destroyed, where is the mercy to allow them a chance to repent of their sins? If we ask why God doesn’t punish those who murder the innocent, then we must also address why God doesn’t do harm for other disgusting sins, like lying, plotting evil, or causing discord. The murder of innocent children isn’t the only sin, what if all sin was met with instant destruction or consequences. Suddenly the numbers get quite large. If God destroyed all those who do bad things then we will have nobody left on earth.
Can you imagine a world where there is no child abuse? How would you stop child abuse entirely? Would you make it so that an angry parent could not think of any way to hurt a child? Could a parent imagine striking a child, but be paralyzed and unable to raise an arm? Could he strike at the child, but the blow would not land? The blow would land, but the child would not feel it as painful? Maybe you could make it so that parents could not get angry in the first place—how about that? Would that mean that no one, anywhere, could get angry? Why stop with parents? Are we making it powerfully instinctive to protect children but leaving room for other evil people to do wrong? At what point do we stop all evil. Destroying all evil will destroy us as being human. If God had to keep people in line then God would have to intervene and take away parents from their children because of their sins or God would have to take children away from their parents, and so on. Eventually, God would have to remove all sinful and evil creatures.
What about dislike in general? Racism, for example: would you eliminate it by making everyone look the same? Or would you eliminate our ability to notice differences? Or could we notice differences, but be unable to have negative thoughts? Would you create humans who love everybody and hate nobody, and have no choice about it? How do you change mans thinking ability without changing their free choice. You can prevent interpersonal pain by making people who give and receive the same amount of love, without bias or personal preferences. You can standardize physical appearances, so no one would suffer from feeling inadequate or ugly, and no one could choose to love one person and reject someone else. Personalities would have to be standardized too, for the same reason. Old people would be as attractive as young people, and I guess they might as well continue to look young, since nobody is going to die anyway. You can reorganize the natural world so that it is predictable and never dangerous. A world where everybody is alike is not a world. A world full of consequences would be a madhouse. Men really don’t want God to intercept and punish every act or thought. A world of constant consequences will change the world from order to disorder.
Let me first say that I realize I’m not going to convince any Christians with this argument, because no matter what God does, believers will always take his side. It doesn’t matter if he kills thousands of babies in a global flood, or sentences people to eternal damnation, God is never wrong. But for what it’s worth, I’ll try to address your questions.
“How would you want God to enforce such evil action?”
First and foremost, and let me make this perfectly clear, there should be ABSOLUTELY NO ENFORCEMENT. God should let us do whatever we want, and punish us in the afterlife for any wrongdoing.
The problem is, there obviously IS a lot of enforcement going on, and it seems to be for the most ridiculous things, and that absurdity is the problem.
“What would a world look like if every evil action carries natural consequences?”
Well, for starters, it would look like a world designed by a God concerned with sin.
But STDs are a great example of a natural punishment. People who are sexually promiscuous may end up with a sexually transmitted disease. This doesn’t prevent promiscuity, or prevent us from finding ways around getting STDs, but it let’s us know — in a natural way — that this behavior isn’t cool with the designer.
Again, there should be no punishments at all, but if there are going to be consequences, they should be for things that relate to issues that concern God, not random events.
“Can you imagine a world where there is no child abuse? How would you stop child abuse entirely?”
That would be wonderful! As you suggested, children could be immune to serious cuts or pain until a certain age. Or God make it so you could drop them and they would bounce like a rubber ball. Or all children could be created in Eden, and only become evicted after their first sin. Or God could forego the physical bodies altogether and just create us all as spirits, that cannot be physically harmed, but can still make moral decisions (just as Satan did). Anyway, God’s a pretty smart guy, I’m sure he could figure it out.
“Destroying all evil will destroy us as being human.”
I think we need to take the focus off of what humans do to children, because the overwhelming majority of child deaths come from natural causes. According to the World Health Organization:
About 5 million children died last year from these naturally occurring “punishments,” and eliminating ALL of these deaths would’ve had ZERO impact on our free will. In fact, through science and education we’ve prevented millions of deaths — and we’re still very much human. While it may be true that preventing a human from killing a child may inhibit his free will, stopping a mosquito from injecting a child with malaria only inhibits a mosquito’s free will… and who the hell care’s about the free will of a mosquito?
So if we’re talking about “natural” punishments, the question should not be, “Why does God allow evil men to harm children?” But rather, “Why would God design a nature that punishes innocent children?”
“A world of constant consequences will change the world from order to disorder.”
I hate to break it to you, but we already live in a world of constant consequences, it’s just that those consequences have nothing to do with morality.
Of cause, this post is dealing essentially with “suffering” “Sin” “Death” and “meaning of life”
The answer to the questions raise, deals with the paradoxical nature of human life. Life being paradoxical, while guys like the writer seek a forthright, uncomplicated explanation, it kind of gets tricky. If life’s questions required such forthright answers to forthright questions like ;
“Assuming God exists, why would he design a world that did not punish us for sin, but does punish us for so many other irrelevant things?”
Does not this question assume a mechanistic and deterministic world? And is our world deterministic? Classical scientists and philosopher have been challenged by the apparent holistic, ephemeral, idealistic nature of our reality. David Bohm , Max Planck, Sir Fred Hoyle Robert Jastrow, Emmanuel Kant, etc to name a few.
A mechanistic view of the world could very well underscore the requirement of a mechanistic rules that govern it. And a mechanistic world, would explain the presence of mechanistic life form, such as all other life forms except Man……….the Rational, freethinking, being who question life.
So, to a large extent, it must be a curious mind which is able to accommodate cogitative dissonance, without any discomfort, for a none mechanistic creature, such as the Rational Man, to expect evidence of mechanistic world, and yet, apparently he is unable to explain, how he has attained his apparent none mechanistic nature.
In English…? Please explain how life is paradoxical, how our world is deterministic, if it is, and define your terms of holistic, ephemeral and idealistic nature of our reality.
500Q: “Had our world been created by a moral designer…”
Genesis 3:4 “You will not certainly die (serpent is saying, in effect, that God is a liar, and hence immoral),” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (serpent is saying that God is deceptive and immoral to keep Eve from reaching her full potential), knowing good and evil.”
This is a new question, but comes from a very old story line, and an ancient rival of God. The serpent is still hypnotizing victims today using a tried and true technique. Why change it up if it works?
No. God is not deceptive. The Serpent tricked Eve with the truth. Adam and Eve, were already like God. Adam and Eve…………..were already “Like God” Point is they only knew “good” but they did not know “evil” which was what was the nature of “The Serpent”
That, make God purely Moral………the essence of Goodness…………which we all are supposed to strive to become…………..so that “You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5: 43-48.
THE FULL POTENTIAL OF EVE, JUST LIKE EVERYONE IS………………… TO BE GOOD.
bigfoot: …”Adam and Eve…………..were already “Like God” Point is they only knew “good” but they did not know “evil” which was what was the nature of “The Serpent”
I think you mean to say that Adam and Eve were on their way to being completely like God. Right? And, case in point, ‘knowing evil’ does not make you do evil, just as ‘knowing good’ does not make you do good. Adam and Eve knew only good, yet the path they took in surrendering all of creation to the power of satan could not be classed as good, unless you’re satan.
Gen 3:22 clearly states that they were not like God until after they had disobeyed and surrendered to satan: Genesis 3:22 And the Lord God said, “The man HAS NOW BECOME like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
Santa, Ok, let us go back to the Bible. What did God say? First he said;
“God said, ‘Let us make Man, in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts, and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth’ God created man, in the image of himself, and in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying, ‘be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of the heaven, and all living animals on earth’ “Genesis 1:26-29.
So, from this statement, it means that Man, that God created in Genesis 1:26-29, was “like us” Meaning, that Man, was a replica of God, the “Elohim” I.e. Trinity Majesty of God.
But then. In Genesis 3:22-23 God exclaimed; “See, Man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next, and pick from the tree of Life also and eat some and live forever” Genesis 3:22-23
Come On Santa, if God in Genesis 1:26-29 was so enthusiastic about Man being “like one of us” and in Genesis 3: 22-23 God is ASTONISHED, that MAN HAS BECOME LIKE ONE OF US, what then does Logic persuade us to conclude? That……………Man, in Genesis 1:26-29, was not the same as Man, in Genesis 3:22-23.
Then again, if by eating of the tree, Adam and Eve came to know “good” and “evil” shouldn’t it also mean that BOTH GOOD AND EVIL EXISTED BEFORE THEY WERE KNOWN BY ADAM AND EVE? Meaning that Adam and Eve, were not the ORIGINATORS OF EVIL, BUT CORROBORATORS IN EVIL.
So, WHO BROUGHT EVIL BEFORE GOD, FOR IT TO BE KNOWN BY ADAM AND EVE?
THEN AGAIN, IF ADAM AND EVE, KNEW EVIL WHEN THEY DISOBEYED GOD, DOES NOT THAT MEAN THAT BEFORE THEY DISOBEYED GOD, THEY WERE GOOD?
I mean, until they ate of the tree…………God had no problem with them. So, to a GOOD GOD, THEY MUST HAVE BEEN GOOD! AND SINCE GOD IS GOOD, BEFORE THEY DISOBEYED GOD, THEY WERE GOOD……….JUST LIKE GOD…………THEREFORE, THEY WERE LIKE GOD…………….IN THE IMAGE OF A GOOD GOD!
“And, case in point, ‘knowing evil’ does not make you do evil, just as ‘knowing good’ does not make you do good.”
I really do not think that you can ever r know evil until you do evil, or even know Good, until you do good.! God and evil are always known……..in retrospect.
Good is known in retrospect by a Good God
“And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:9-10
“God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day”. Genesis 1: 16-17
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
A GOOD GOD, HAD TO FINISH WHAT HE HAD DONE BEFORE HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT IT WAS GOOD
Evil is known in retrospect by an evil Man (A Favorite of God)
“ So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD
AN EVIL MAN HAD TO FINISH WHAT HE HAD DONE BEFORE HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT IT WAS TRULY EVIL
SO WHO ARE WE TO THINK OTHERWISE
bigfoot: “I really do not think that you can ever r know evil until you do evil, or even know Good, until you do good.! God and evil are always known……..in retrospect.
So you’er saying that God, in order to know good and evil, must have done evil?
Anonymous, God does not know “good and evil” God only knows Good. Whatever God does, it reflects his character which is goodness. Even the Christ, God the Redeemer who rather than sin, he accepted death, in order to destroy it for Man.
Anonymous, God does not know “good and evil” God only knows Good. Whatever God does, it reflects his character which is goodness. Even the Christ, God the Redeemer who rather than sin, he accepted death, in order to destroy it for Man.
Genesis 3:22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:
From what is written in Genesis 3, we can safely conclude that God knows evil. From the same bible, we can read that He is not an evil God.
“From what is written in Genesis 3, we can safely conclude that God knows evil. From the same bible, we can read that He is not an evil God.”
Jim…………not necessarily………if we were ALL willing to follow Logic.
Now, supposing you and your five friends had visited the Amazon Rain forests, one summer, with your five of your friends, and had returned, one of you had without knowing having contacted some serious bug somewhere. Then, when you came home, this friend falls ill with malaria symptoms.
Now, your distant cousin, whom you have not seen for a long time, visits you, and he catches the bug from your friend. I think you can SAFELY state; “My cousin has become like one of us, with his malaria symptom”
Now, does that, necessarily state that all of you guys who visited Amazon had caught the Malaria virus? No.
So, one can SAFELY conclude that just because God stated that “Man has become like one of us” does not necessarily mean that everyone-God included, knew good and evil. It could very well mean that some knew good………and some knew evil. And that now, Man, had now known both good, and evil………..No?
Genesis 3:22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:
‘One of us’: defined in the Word as those who know good and evil. If you are an ‘us’ in this context, the bible says you know good and evil.
Santa, yo are not following the simple Logic. God created two types of Men. The FIRST MAN, was, “The Image of God” The SECOND MAN was Adam. Before Adam was created, there was God, and Man (The Image of God) The Image of God, was a “Plural Majesty” just like God. “Let us make Man” Man, was like “US” The Trinity Majesty of God” So, Adam, became like ONE OF US. I.e God and His Image. “US” Trinity Majesty of God and His Image.
So, the question is, WHAT DID THE IMAGE OF GOD KNOW?
You will have to excuse my English, and sometimes spelling. I normally have a window of 30 minutes to read this guys blog and reply if I can.
Now, what do I mean by “paradoxical” Paradox, I get is a statement or a proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth. It’s also said to be an opinion or a statement contrary to commonly accepted opinions. The word Paradox, comes from Latin: Para doxum. Or Greek Paradoxon meaning “conflicting with expectations”.
Why is life “paradoxical”
(1) I believe that its paradoxical because commonsense demands that we look for meaning of life, outside ourselves. But as a paradox, the real meaning of life, is not out there, but within us.
(2) We, as human being expect to get satisfaction in life through materialism. But we do not understand that our nature is paradoxical. That we are human beings, but we are also spiritual beings. So, the needs of the flesh, supplant the needs of the spirit, which are in fact the true needs.
(3) We sturdy the world and see it as a disconnected, separate reality, out there, to be broken down, analyzed, and constructed mechanistically. But the truth is that the reality is Unity, a wholeness, and entangled. (See, Quantum Mechanics)
(4) I never sais the life is “deterministic” I think I said, that “ If life’s questions required such forthright answers to forthright questions like ; “Assuming God exists, why would he design a world that did not punish us for sin, but does punish us for so many other irrelevant things?” Does not this question assume a mechanistic and deterministic world?”
It was a question, not a proposition. A deterministic system, is very predictive, and is based on some rigid rules, that produce the same output. But in life, we find that we human being are not necessarily deterministic, unless we have been subjected to pavlovian conditioning that produce predictive responses. Human Rationalism, and the capacity to choose, have given human beings freedom from specialization unlike the rest of creation. This freedom from specialization, questions the criteria upon which, this rational human being, who has not been conditioned by nature to any predictive behavioral responses, should expect a mechanistic nature, to control him, while nature herself, is devoid of this freedom. Whence, then, did man beget this freedom, because quite apparently it could not have been nature while denied herself the power to control man?
On the issue of “holistic” “idealistic” and “ephemeral” nature of our reality, can it be otherwise? Since we as rational human beings we have been fled from Specialization, it means that our reality is not base on predicted outcome, but unfolds from our choices. And these choices are made by us, “moment by moment” The reality that unfolds before us, being a product of our choices, starts as an idea, right now, which was fleeting (ephemeral) until we caught it, and made it our own, and it became part of “us” and now, this idea, being part of us, makes “us” one, with our ideas. That means, that we are our ideas! Our reality is a holistic combination of our choices, our ideas, internalized, and which then project to the world, what we have made of ourselves, with our ideas! I hope I got through. My thirty minutes are gone. Chao!
Yes, well done! You have put my thoughts into words that are beyond my pay grade by a leap or two!
Do you know of the vigilant citizen or the vigilant christian? If so, what are your thoughts on their world view? If not, I think you should check them out because they raise some valid points. There is evil in this world and some of the people who are doing it, according to the people mentioned above, unashamedly do it in the name of satan. You also raise very valid points on your website but I was just wondering what you make of the other side. I’m sorry if you feel my question is not related to this topic but it’s sort of general to what you are trying to achieve her with your 500 Questions.
No ma’am, I haven’t, but I did find some YouTube videos by “The Vigilant Christian” (I’m assuming that’s who you we’re referring to). He seems to teach pretty mainline Creationist propaganda on a large number of topics, from what I’ve seen. But if you come across any particularly poignant proofs (say that three times fast, lol) for Christianity, please let me know. I have a long list of questions, but I’m always looking for new ones.
500Q: “God seems perfectly content to wait until the afterlife to punish us… which is odd… considering the number of things nature does not let us get away with doing.”
You quote Romans 1:20, but lets back it up a bit to Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God IS BEING REVEALED from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.”
God has put the knowledge that they will be doing evil yet they make the decision to go for it anyway and, contrary to you, I don’t think the lives of some of those heinous murderers would be altogether unaffected by their choices. If they don’t end up in jail, what is life like for them now? Really good? Oh, then Would you trade your life for theirs?
One of the punishments that the world reaps through godlessness is the ever-increasing violence and abuse. Look around you and tell me this isn’t so, and that there are no consequences for godlessness.
Romans 1 specifically refers to sinners who have rejected God, and if sinners were the ONLY ones to suffer natural consequences, then there would be no problem. But obviously, believers are just as likely to end up with things like poison oak, malaria, and whooping cough as sinners. Likewise, God is certainly not striking Christians and innocent children with disease because “they knew God,” but “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.”
As for murders and the like, not all of them suffer from guilt (and new research is showing they have a physical difference in their brains, as well as specific genes that make them more prone to violence). While guilt is great, it doesn’t go nearly far enough, not when you have priests molesting children without penalty, and peanut-eaters being sentenced to death for tasting a legume.
“One of the punishments that the world reaps through godlessness is the ever-increasing violence and abuse. Look around you and tell me this isn’t so, and that there are no consequences for godlessness.”
I’ve looked around, and I WILL tell you this isn’t so. Some of the most godless countries are some of the happiest, while some of the most religious are the most violent. (Those Jews and Muslims in the Middle East aren’t exactly a shining example of how to live together in peace and harmony, nor the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, or the Christians and Muslims in America.) It’s also pretty well known that the number of atheists in prison is lower than the number of atheists in the general population. Also, atheists have a lower divorce rate than just about every religious denomination in the U.S., and children of non-religious parents have been found to be more generous than children of religious parents. As the U.S. has become less religious over the past couple decades — in spite of what the news would lead you to believe — violent crime has actually decreased, by a large margin. So one COULD make the opposite argument, that as a population grows LESS religious, they become happier, less violent, less likely to end up in prison, less likely to divorce, and more generous.
Have a great day,
Santa: “One of the punishments that the world reaps through godlessness is the ever-increasing violence and abuse. Look around you and tell me this isn’t so, and that there are no consequences for godlessness.”
500Q: “I’ve looked around, and I WILL tell you this isn’t so.”
First of all, religion is not necessarily godliness. There is a lot of religion around today that would not pass the sniff test for godliness and are actually godless; practitioners still demand their own way of doing things and do not search out and surrender to God’s will in everything they do, which is far easier to say than to do. I’ve read the links you’ve posted and they don’t take this into consideration. And, I’ve said before, I believe the bible over any potentially biased internet links that contradict what is written in the Word.
And, personally, my life has become far more peaceful since I sought to let the Lord rule through the Holy Spirit. That relationship has recently forced me to examine very old patterns of behaviour and change the destructive ones and the result has brought harmony in inter-personal relationships, especially at work.
I’ve had 69 years on this planet and I grew up in a time when, as a child, I would be gone from home for long periods of time during the day with never the worry from my parents that I would come to harm. (And, no, they weren’t unfit parents at all.) That is not so today for parents of young children. And there were no school shootings. No drug crime then that compares to anything we have today.
Also, looking back in history, the world was a more peaceful place during those times when wars were not being fought; today, wars are constantly being fought around the globe with the additional threat of terrorism thrown in. Extrapolating that into the future brings images to mind of some of the apocalyptic movies constantly being pumped out of Hollywood. If we continue the same practices and expect different results, like peace, we humans are collectively mentally ill. And I don’t opt myself out of that group; I have to keep in the Word and keep searching out for the Lord in my life in order to keep myself sane.
This global warfare is a consequence of godlessness, even, and perhaps especially, in so-called highly religious demographics. As I’ve said, religion is probably godlessness masked in most cases and the religion is more along the lines of a self-absorbed superstition where surrendering to God’s ways and direction is not put in first priority and their ‘religion’ is more of a ‘genie in the bottle’; gimme, gimme, gimme. Avoiding that kind of ‘religion’ is a constant struggle for even the most serious disciple of Christ.
500Q: “It’s also pretty well known that the number of atheists in prison is lower than the number of atheists in the general population.”
The link says that there may be some benefits offered to inmates that purport faith. Perhaps that’s why there aren’t as many atheists in the prison population compared to non-prison population. Its common for people to turn to God at times when they are facing serious consequences or imminent death. I’m not saying all do this, but it is a common factor.
500Q: “Also, atheists have a lower divorce rate than just about every religious denomination in the U.S.”
Do far fewer atheists get married compared to Christians? Why not open up the stats on this one to include common law marriages and relationships that broke up before it became a legal common law marriage of two years co-habitation? Although it is become decreasingly practised, the church frowns on common-law so young people risk all on marriage, bringing all their baggage into a make-or-break relationship will little or no serious relationship experience and life skills to help in their marriage. Very risky.
500Q: “And as the U.S. has become less religious over the past couple decades — in spite of what the news would lead you to believe — violent crime has actually decreased, by a large margin.”
Wikipedia doesn’t share your viewpoint on this. Also, the stats on violent crime show a substantially lower rate in other countries such as the UK and if the cause were more or less religion, it would be born out in this and it isn’t.
500Q: “So, one COULD make the argument that as a population grows LESS religious, they become happier, less violent, less likely to end up in prison, and less likely to divorce.”
In your source site, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201211/are-religious-people-happier, the author is saying that in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, the people turn to religion to calm their nerves, and the author says “In very religious places, there is a great deal of misery because the quality of life is abysmal. Think of Afghanistan, or Somalia. Within that environment, the security blanket of religion may be the only effective anti-anxiety agent around. As a result, people who are deeply religious can achieve a level of calm that eludes their less religious neighbours.”
That last quote sounds like an endorsement of the 23rd Psalm.
I think we could probably spend weeks trying to prove or disprove a correlation between “godliness” and crime. (“Godliness” is also a rather subjective term, which may mean one thing to you, but something else to others). But I do get your point, that you believe that more “godliness” equates to a better behaved society. While I don’t disagree, I would say that there are many factors that play a roll in creating a civilized society, and that just because something results in improved behavior, it doesn’t follow that this belief is true.
So let me make a couple final comments on this interesting topic before I drop out, as I think we’re drifting away from the original topic of natural punishment for sin.
First off, I would highly recommend Stephen Pinker’s best seller, “Better Angles of our Nature.” In it, Pinker “shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history.”
Just to give a few examples, infant mortality rates have greatly decreased, fewer people today die as a result of war, they live healthier lives, life spans have doubled over the past 100 years, and moral views have also progressed. (2000 years ago it was “okay” to crucify people. Today, even “humane” executions can be considered immoral).
We can even see moral progress in the short history of the U.S. Imagine if someone today tried to have slavery reinstated, or suggested re-segregating blacks, or banning interracial marriage? People today would be outraged! We’ve come a long way. People have even become open to accepting homosexual marriage. (What would’ve happened to a gay, interracial couple if they wanted to marry 70 years ago?)
And I wouldn’t say there were absolutely “no school shootings.” Even in the 1880s, for example, there were 11 reported school shootings. In the first decade of this century, there were 41 school shootings. But we also now have 5.6 times the population, so we actually had fewer shootings per school than they did in the 1880s. The 1960s saw 17 school shootings. We now have twice that population, and should expect around 34 shootings, so we weren’t too far off with 41. Today, these shootings are made more violent with better gun technology, and more real thanks to cameras and the internet (which encourages more copy-cats, no doubt).
But I think we can both agree that many kids today DO, on the whole, seem to have less respect for others. We could probably debate forever over the potential causes (e.g. too much freedom or free time, lack of “godliness” or religion, lack of discipline, violent movies, TV shows, and video games; too many single-parents, society in general, greed, problems with the school system, garbage they view on the internet (like this site), lack of mental health services, etc.).
Personally, I think it’s a combination of all these factors, and others. Would these kids be better behaved if they were more religious? I have little doubt of that, but it doesn’t logically follow that this ALSO makes that religion TRUE. If that were the case, every religion that resulted in improved behavior would ALSO be true. There are millions of respectful Mormons out there, but I don’t for one moment think this kinds lends any credibility to the story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Do you? As I mentioned in question #53, I think we humans evolve religions to help fill the psychological voids we all share. This may make them very comforting, but it doesn’t make them all true.
500Q: “Personally, I think it’s a combination of all these factors, and others. Would these kids be better behaved if they were more religious? I have little doubt of that, but it doesn’t logically follow…”
Agreed. Totally. Good point.
500Q: “…violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history.”
Well, that’s good news, no matter what the cause.
As I’ve said, my World View differs from yours in that I would still be governed by what the Holy Spirit is telling me through the Word, and not what my carnal mind would tell me the Word is saying. So, like the patient who realized that dead men bleed, I’ll say, tongue in cheek, “Wow, the world is really becoming more godly after all!”
And leave it on that light-hearted note.
Jim, One just needs to read a book like “The Squad” by Michael Milan to know that evil men, who have so-to speak, license to kill, mime, torture and do all the evil they want, like exceedingly lonely lives. Read that book and you will pity Michael, though he perpetrated all sorts of evil on behalf of his benefactors. In the end, how was his life? He could never sleep, sometimes he would wake up suddenly straight from a nightmare drenched with sweat. So, if Man is so free to commit sin, WHY DOE IT HAUNT HIM? If God does not rebuke Man because of Sin………………WHY CAN’T THE EVIL MAN FIND PEACE?
As you have said, St. Paul is very right, that the knowledge of good and evil is given to Man, and Man has no excuse……….because evil does not benefit him. The punishment for evil men, is to live restless live. For God has decreed, and He will not recant.
“The Wicked however are like the restless sea that cannot be still and washes up mud, and slim. ‘No peace’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked’ “Isaiah 57: 20-21
Why doesn’t sin carry natural consequences?
BECAUSE, GOD ID WITH MAN, CONSTANTLY REBUKING HIM FOR HIS SINS, UNTIL HE MEET HIM, AND PAYS FOR IT………..WITH GOD!!
http://vigilantcitizen.com/ you might want to take your time going through his articles. I know people think conspiracy theories are dumb but it only takes common sense to see that what he is talking about is not far fetched.
I’m struggling to put my thoughts into words here but 500, why do you think people worship the devil? Why are there upside down crosses on celebrities clothes and triple sixes everywhere? Why try so hard to disprove something or show that you’re against it, if it doesn’t even exist?
People worship the devil? I hadn’t really noticed.
Even mainstream Satanists don’t worship the devil (you can check the FAQs on their websites, most are atheists who don’t believe in the devil). I think many people either just want attention, or are trying to make the point that religion doesn’t deserve the respect that it gets. But some people are just idiots.
“Why try so hard to disprove something or show that you’re against it, if it doesn’t even exist?”
Speaking only for myself:
1) Having been a devout Christian for most of my life, the topic fascinates me.
2) Because everyone else believes it. If no one believed it, I wouldn’t bother. If you woke up in the distant future, and half the planet believed that Luke Skywalker was god, and Darth Vader was the devil, would you say anything? Do you care about the truth? I don’t really consider myself anti-God, but pro-truth. I don’t really care if God exists or not. If he does, great! If not, great! I just want to know the truth of the matter.
Devil worshipers? Nothing new in that category in the bible.
Jesus said to the religious right wing: “Ye are of your father the devil.”
Whoa Nelly! The devil was their father? But they were very religious! But, yep, that’s what Jesus said to them. I guess you could say that Jesus and religion didn’t get along too well. Especially after they hung him up. And He and religious folks still don’t get along too well today, a couple of thousand years later.
Here it is in context, Jesus saying to them “Ye are of your father the devil”: John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And not only that, Paul, Saint Paul himself, says to the Ephesian church of believers in Ephesians 2 that they ALL were controlled by the devil. One would have to be a complete ego maniac to think that was the only church that was composed of people who used to be controlled by the devil; all the churches were and are composed of such people that came out of darkness and bondage to satan. Everyone is under the power of darkness but they don’t know it until they let Jesus shine His light into their hearts and see the difference.
Here is what I’m referring to, starting with verse 2 of Ephesians 2: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (that would be the red guy with the horns): 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
So, you wanna stop the devil from doing stuff on earth? The devil does his work through a lot of people, including his favourite; church people who get caught off guard or don’t know any better yet because it takes a while to break free of that kingdom of darkness.
Christ said that to the Pharisees, not the religious right wing.
Okay, I’m going to put in my last two cents and I really hope one day when you have time you look up vigilant citizen so you can understand what I mean about people worshiping the devil, I mean what’s up with that?
Anyway, here’s the deal, yes there are some really questionable and inhumane things in the bible but there is also a lot of good and wise things as well. It would be a mistake to wipe the bible off the face of the earth because we can really learn a lot from it. Some people struggle to be good and do good without the teachings from the bible, my brother’s the perfect example of that and at the end of the day it is really all about which parts of it you choose to follow. If you choose to live by the good then good on you but if you choose to live by the bad, that’s on you.
Talk about biologism run amuck. ‘If the punishment isn’t biological then it isn’t punishment’ is as nearsighted as it comes. If you don’t think adultery has real world, “natural” consequences then just try it. Go get married and commit adultery and see if you remain unscathed. Adultery, not to pick on a specific sin, is easily the cause of the majority of social ills in the world. It tears families apart and causes incredible trauma to the couple and any kids involved. Read the Greek tragedies. Adultery brought down more heroes and gods than any combat. Biology ain’t everything friend, at least not if you’re a living human being who experiences actual human problems.
Are there consequences for adultery? Quite often, yes, but these consequences stem from internal feelings of guilt and/or jealousy, and they are not external punishments that are being imposed upon us.
If, after reciting your wedding vows, you were no longer able to kiss another woman without your throat closing shut, or a swarm of bees attacking you, then there might be something to that. We could see a direct correlation, and we could argue, “God has heard these vows, and is angry when we violate them!”
Have a great day,
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Someday, you are going to die…. what other “natural consequence” could possibly be relevant in this discussion?
If you’re suggesting what I think you are, I think you would have a very difficult time proving a correlation between sin and death. For example, babies sometimes suffer die without having sinned, as to animals. There is no demonstrable correlation.
The correlation is between this being a sinful world and death. Can you deny there is sin (Judeo/Christian definition i.e. murder, theft, rape etc.) all over this planet? Can you deny the inevitability of death? Can you escape death? If you can do so then I will denounce God the Father and I will gladly pronounce myself whatever you want and follow you anywhere.
There is sin on this planet.
There is death on this planet.
That is a demonstrable correlation until only one of those statements can be proven false.
An individual’s innocence will not save him/her from the consequences of sin. This is explained early on in the Bible via Cain and Abel. Abel did not die as a result of his own sin but rather as a result of living in a world where sin was present.
One last note, this question seems to be directed at God’s goodness (specifically the God of the Bible), not God’s existence. Those two things are not correlated. To ask this question you first have to admit there is an all-powerful being that is in control.
The true root of this question seems to be “does the Bible tell the truth about who God was/is/will be?
Peace and blessings to you
PS. I enjoy your site and see 500Q is diligent and kind in replies! It is my personal belief that God will honor an honest skeptic.
Hi Joe, thanks for the reply.
“There is sin on this planet. There is death on this planet. That is a demonstrable correlation until only one of those statements can be proven false.”
One could likewise reason, “There are oak trees on this planet. There is death on this planet. That is a demonstrable correlation until only one of those statements can be proven false.” Correlation does not prove causation.
Now, if we lived in a world where non-sinners and “the saved” never died, that would be a much stronger correlation, and maybe even prove causation.
I think death is just a part of life, due to various natural causes (causes that may one day be eliminated). If nothing dies, nothing evolves.
“One last note, this question seems to be directed at God’s goodness (specifically the God of the Bible), not God’s existence. Those two things are not correlated. To ask this question you first have to admit there is an all-powerful being that is in control.”
If I point out flaws in Harry Potter’s character, do I have to believe he exists?
“It is my personal belief that God will honor an honest skeptic.”
Let’s hope so!
First I want to make clear I cannot prove anything to you and I don’t claim to know something you do not. I cannot deny that faith is needed in every aspect of our existence. “I think, therefore I am.” Besides that, as far as I know, everything else will require a measurable amount of faith. You can’t even know for certain that your subconscious isn’t the one writing this. I consider myself a man of little faith so I tend to believe in whatever requires the least amount of faith. But I have digressed lol.
“One could likewise reason, ‘There are oak trees on this planet. There is death on this planet. That is a demonstrable correlation until only one of those statements can be proven false.'”
You are correct. However, your correlation does not make my correlation false. So we are no closer to the truth, but your question, “why doesn’t sin carry natural consequence?” isn’t logically valid until you can prove my statement false (if you removed the bias, it would be valid again ).
“I think death is just a part of life, due to various natural causes (causes that may one day be eliminated). If nothing dies, nothing evolves.”
If something died because it needed to evolve then why did it need to evolve? If death preceded the process of evolving, then what is the origin of death?
Am I wrong is stating the goal of evolution is to survive?
You are suggesting that it is easier to believe there once was an infinite organism; an organism that had no origin (referring to your “bottom up theory”). And one day that organism needed to evolve so it died. But why would an infinite organism need to evolve if survival was the cause for evolution?
“If I point out flaws in Harry Potter’s character, do I have to believe he exists?”
You must believe he exists within the context the author has given. Otherwise, you are just simply claiming to be the author.
Peace and blessings
P.S. What would have to happen in order for you to believe in God again?
Hi Joe, thanks for the response. I’m going to let you have that rebuttal and I’ll skip to your last question.
“What would have to happen in order for you to believe in God again?”
Not much, really. Levitate a coin. Flip a light switch at my request. Change the time on the clock to read 7:77. Anything that would suggest he’s not just a character developed in the minds of men. But there are probably other things I’d accept.
I would ask you the same question: is there anything that could happen that would make you think there was no God?
For example, what if Jesus didn’t return for thousands of years? Or what if we were to kill MILLIONS of Jews, and God did nothing? Or what if science were to prove that the earth was not the center of the universe, or that there never was a global flood?
By his very nature, the character of God has been made difficult (if not impossible) to falsify, and he is protected by a litany of excuses (that could just as easily be used to defend ANY imagined god).
Someone under another post recently said, “God would not allow everyone on the planet to die.” But that’s a pretty tall order, to have to kill everyone just to prove God isn’t real. (Unfortunately, this is also the thinking behind some climate-change deniers. “We can’t destroy ourselves, God won’t allow it!” I wouldn’t bet on it.)
I am really enjoying our discussion 🙂
I would convert to atheism when it no longer required faith to believe God doesn’t exist. I don’t know how this is achievable (I should say you and I don’t believe this is achievable).
My faith in my God is tied to the Bible. I believe it to be absolute.
Faith is a clear requirement of my belief system so it makes perfect sense that you can neither prove or disprove God exists. Faith is not a requirement of atheism and certainly not a requirement the scientific community admits to very often if at all.
However, the truth is that faith is a requirement of atheism (hence proselytizing atheists) since the non-existence of a god can’t be proven. Who among atheists can tell me why faith was/is/will continue to be a requirement of atheism set forth by naturalism?
what if Jesus didn’t return for thousands of years? Most of my faith comes from the Bible. Anything outside the Bible I would consider speculation. No one but the Father knows the hour.
what if we were to kill MILLIONS of Jews, and God did nothing? God’s goodness would have no effect on my belief in His existence. But even still, allowing suffering is not something that is contradictory to the character of God set forth in the Bible.
What if science were to prove that the earth was not the center of the universe? This is not a claim made in the Bible to my knowledge. However, there is plenty of biblical evidence that the church (in your example, the Catholic Church) is fallible and sometimes gets it wrong.
By his very nature, the character of God has been made difficult (if not impossible) to falsify. I agree
he is protected by a litany of excuses (that could just as easily be used to defend ANY imagined god). If we are to discuss who the one true God is that is a whole new can of worms. Otherwise the same can be said for atheism
As for your last statement, that is a tall order. I do believe God would not allow everyone to die but his existence means He is capable of anything. Climate change is very real and that doesn’t contradict the Bible. There are many examples of famines destroying and similar climate disasters in the Bible. In fact, it could be argued climate change is another natural consequence of sin 🙂
I am praying for you.
Peace and blessings
500 Q, You said; “If you’re suggesting what I think you are, I think you would have a very difficult time proving a correlation between sin and death. For example, babies sometimes suffer die without having sinned, as to animals. There is no demonstrable correlation.”
I believe that there is indeed, a correlation between sin and death. This correlation is “knowledge”
Sin, is knowledge of good and evil and deliberate decision to do evil. Therefore knowledge of good and knowledge of evil both have differentiated destinies as they both are different experiences. You steal from others and they suffer. That is sin. If anybody steals for example a laptop containing 10 years research and the owner did not have a back up, the thief has not stolen just a laptop. He has stolen 10 years of sweat and money, and time invested. If it happens to you, you will see it that way.
If someone young girl he has not disrupted the life of that young woman for twenty minutes, or an hour. He has destroyed the life of that woman. If it happens to someone close to you, you would see it that way.
The point it, if you would not wish something done to you or your loved one, do not wish it done nor do it to others. That, is knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL…….. PERIOD! It’s the simple Law of Lord Logos, the Master of Man, which basically is Common-sense!
And since when good is done has far reaching good consequences, so does evil. The far reaching consequences of good, is Life. And the far reaching consequences of evil is death. And since both are products of knowledge, its logical to presuppose that a Spiritual Entity called “Man” which perpetrate evil knowingly must of necessity expect that this knowledge of evil and perpetration of evil will consequently lead to “knowledge of Death”. And if this same Spirit called “Man” has sought to do good always, its logical to presuppose that this knowledge and commission of good, will logically lead to knowledge of Life.
Sin, is knowledge of good and evil and deliberate decision to do evil, which leads to Knowledge of Death.
Hi. Why did you stop posting ?
Still working on the next post, and I’ve been actively commenting on existing ones, but it’s been a busy Spring/Summer. 🙂
This kind of attitude will only increase crimes in this world. If we believe that God will punish for the sins in the Judgement day and this worldly life is just a test, this will at least reduce the heinous crimes committed by humans.
Here you imply God had planned sin and that’s false!
The creation of God was perfect when he first created everything, but then some of the angels were jealous of what God gave to us and decided to be the first sinners.. so sin is a creation of the fallen angels, they only teaches us to sin that’s all.
Sin is not a natural creation or state from God.
djiuenago4Chris You say,
“So sin is a creation of the fallen angels, they only teaches us to sin that’s all.”
“Fallen Angels”? Huh?
You speak like these “Fallen Angels are somewhere “Out There” And that they sneak among us, whispering words of enticement to evil. Please, do not take that one to the “Bank”
Go loom in the Mirror and meet one of them”!
What would u define as “natural consequence”? Since God is the creator of the Universe!! He decides what is right and wrong! Therefore, he decides what the consequences will be!!
Well,well. If we were quite sure that the reality as “is” is all there is, then the question of “natural consequences” would arise. The fact is, we all are “students” so-to-speak, of what we call “life” We are all still learning. We are learning about the Universe, we are learning about ourselves, and for a species who believe in “a multitude of gods” who we all claim exists and answer “our prayers” well, you will agree that we are far from a consensus on quite a number of things!
I hardly think that we can logically infer the input of “Natural Consequences” and “God” in the same equation. In a way, I find it contradictory. Natural consequences suggest the existence of some ubiquitous, mindless , merciless, cavalier “force” in nature that acts spontaneously.
The idea of “God” on the other hand bring to mind an omnipresent mind who dictates causes and effect, but who is benevolent enough to save us from one consequence or the other.
So, to speak of “natural consequence” and “God” in the same sentence is a deliberate introduction of a contradiction which is self-evidently un-resolvable! Either “Natural Consequences” or “God”!! Take your pick
Who is benevolent but still punishes thise whi disobey gim and since sin demands death, well that’s why happens.
Very interesting that we don’t see those sort of design decisions in a world that was supposedly designed. (btw It’s spelled anaphylactic not anafelectic)
Thanks again! (Want to be my editor, lol).