In Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God, Paul Copan attempts a bold apologetic of the Judeo-Christian God’s moral status. The so-called new atheists see the biblical God as a promotor of genocide, slavery, murder, rape, and other immoral acts. But the only serious objections to the biblical God’s moral status are passages in which immoral acts are clearly done because of God’s will, or are explicitly approved of by God. Even with this caveat, however, the Bible clearly prescribes immoral behavior that Copan cannot explain away in this fashion. Premarital sex is explicit grounds for divorce or execution of a wife, but not of a husband; rape warrants punishment when a married woman is raped, but not when an unmarried one is violated; the fathers of female victims of rape can refuse marriage to their rapist, but not the victims themselves; peoples who simply do not accept the dominant theology of Israel should be executed in war, making exception for the traumatized adolescent girls of conquered nations, whom Israelite soldiers can “spare” for themselves; and so on. In order to maintain his belief that Yahweh is morally perfect, Copan must explain away any Old Testament evidence of God’s moral culpability in light of the more loving and inclusive New Testament passages. But this does not provide an objective examination of the biblical God’s moral status, and thus will only appeal to Christians who are worried the about possibility that their God might be a moral monster.
In this contribution to an American Philosophical Association symposium on “God, Death, and the Meaning of Life,” Evan Fales considers three responses to loss of faith in the Christian God: despair, optimism, and rebellion. Western culture is permeated by belief in an afterlife on religious grounds, shaping these responses in particularly anxious ways. Fales considers both how atheists can respond to the question of the meaning of life, and, in what is surely a surprising direction for some, whether Christianity even has the resources to provide meaning through doctrines as problematic as requiring another to pay for your own sins.
In this half-hour dialog with American Christian talk radio host and Denver pastor Bob Enyart, Edouard Tahmizian and Enyart discuss whether Adam’s sin in the biblical account was predestined/predetermined, or freely chosen. Both speakers agree that biblical hard determinism would make God the author of sin, and Enyart even maintains that the God of the Bible has the moral ability to commit evil, which conflicts with the traditional orthodox view that God is so holy that he cannot commit acts of sin.
The New Testament laments that “money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith.” Meanwhile, the Vatican discovers “hundreds of millions of euros ‘tucked away'” off the books in various departments of the Holy See, to say nothing of the officially recorded cost of the construction and maintenance of various lavish Catholic buildings. While there is no lack of “prosperity gospel” apologists who twist and turn in their efforts to explain the blaring discrepancy between the New Testament’s condemnation of wealth and the mammon accumulated by the Church, as Pope Francis himself noted, “It is a scandal to say one thing and do another.”
Apologists from several different Christian denominations paradoxically maintain that God doesn’t punish sinners, but instead shows mercy on them. In his final essay the late Michael Moore categorizes the kinds of contortions that these apologists explicitly resort to in order to rationalize the numerous biblical passages that show otherwise. Moore concludes that there are four standard responses to the paradox: God shows his mercy by (1) playing word games, (2) letting the Devil do his punishing for him, (3) punishing only those who fail to play by the rules, or (4) making bad things happen in order to demonstrate his greatness.
Where did evil in the world come from? In this article Edouard Tahmizian considers God’s causal influence on the origin of evil. He aims to show that, if biblical hard determinism is true, God would be the efficient cause of Adam and Eve’s transgression—the original sin that the rest of humanity inherited when the first humans, Adam and Eve, purportedly ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil according to the Book of Genesis. Moreover, he argues, even if biblical hard determinism is not true and all events could have turned out differently, God would still be the final cause of Adam and Eve’s sin, making him at least somewhat causally responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve that we all purportedly inherited. In the end, Tahmizian’s analysis implies that God is ultimately the source of all evil.
What does it mean to suppose that something is absurd? In the dictionary sense, to say that something is absurd is to say that it is ridiculously incongruous and unreasonable. Is Christianity absurd in the dictionary sense? Given standard criticisms of Christianity and certain plausible interpretations of it, Christianity is filled with ridiculous incongruities and unreasonable beliefs and practices. It can therefore be considered absurd.
Part of Gerkin’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Norman Geisler is analyzed and critiqued.
Part of Doland’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Norman Geisler is analyzed and critiqued.
Part of Gerkin’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Ravi Zacharias is analyzed and critiqued.
Objection #5: It’s Offensive To Claim Jesus Is The Only Way To God (5th ed., 2020) by Paul Doland
Part of Doland’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with Ravi Zacharias analyzed and critiqued.
Part of Gerkin’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with J. P. Moreland is analyzed and critiqued.
Objection #6: A Loving God Would Never Torture People In Hell (5th ed., 2020) by Paul Doland
Part of Doland’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with J. P. Moreland is analyzed and critiqued.
Commentary on Paul Doland’s Critique of Strobel’s Case for Faith (n.d.) by Avue (Off Site)
While Paul Doland’s critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith shows a decent understanding of current issues within the Christian Church and the socio-religious issues surrounding the Church, he does not show a good understanding of Christianity itself. He shows this, for example, in his discussions of God as heavenly father, original sin, and salvation.
In his earlier Secular Web critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Paul Doland concluded that by raising tough questions for Christianity but failing to adequately respond to them, Strobel (and his interviewees) inadvertently ending up producing a strong case against faith. A rejoinder to Doland’s critique was subsequently published on the God and Science website. In this response to that rejoinder, Doland defends his original conclusion that neither The Case for Faith in particular, nor Christianity in general, provide believable and coherent answers to the sorts of questions that Strobel originally raised. Nor, for that matter, does the attempt by the God and Science website to rehabilitate Strobel’s answers to Christianity’s toughest questions.
In this paper Richard Schoenig argues that Christianity “can’t live with” its doctrine of original sin insofar as it is implausible and morally indefensible, and that Christianity “can’t live without” the doctrine because it has, in the course of nearly 2000 years, become so entrenched within Christianity that removing it at this stage could be fatal to the host.
A little reflection will show that many religious beliefs and practices have absurd implications. In this paper Ryan Stringer provides several examples of such absurdities and defends them against potential objections. Some of the moral absurdities considered include: the belief that an innocent person like Jesus could pay for the sins of wrongdoers; that God could be simultaneously tyrannical and loving; that a morally perfect God could create a maximally miserable place like Hell; that God wants to form loving relationships with us while simultaneously hiding from us; and that a loving heavenly father also wants us to genuinely fear him. In addition, it is absurd to believe that an all-knowing and all-powerful God needs people to do his work for him instead of doing it himself; that, despite knowing what is best for us, God nevertheless alters his plans in response to prayer; that a maximally good God would create a maximally evil being like Satan knowing Satan’s evil nature ahead of time; or that there could be a genuine struggle between good and evil even though God has predetermined everything to happen exactly as he intends. Stringer wraps up his discussion with an appendix on the absurdities generated by a divine command metaethics that maintains that there is nothing morally wrong with anything that God might do so long as God approves of his own actions, for God’s approval (and his approval alone) automatically renders any action morally right.
Christianity has elevated John’s Revelation into a “sacred text” by including it in the New Testament canon. This has afforded divine legitimation to the cruelties contained within it, frequently cultivating a callous indifference towards (and often an outright enthusiasm for) the sufferings of “out-group” members everywhere whilst lumbering us with a tyrannical warrior god–a powerful “record keeper” desirous of unceasing worship.
In this review of Michael Martin’s Atheism, Morality, and Meaning, John L. Perkins outlines Martin’s responses to the theistic charge that atheists lack the motivation to be moral (in virtue of denying that rewards and punishments for earthly behavior exist after death), and the charge that atheists’ lives are devoid of meaning. Martin first formulates and defends a version of secular ethics based on ideal observer theory, then turns to a critical analysis of religious ethics based on divine command theory. Martin further argues that, contrary to popular belief, it is theists–not atheists–whose lives lack real meaning. Christians in particular, Martin argues, ground meaning in a doctrine of atonement which actually undermines accountability for one’s own actions. After noting a significant weakness of the book, Perkins suggests that the Golden Rule underlies an effective motivational constraint on undesirable social behavior.
The anthology Reason for the Hope Within aims to mount a broad defense of the Christian faith, in part by explaining how it can be reasonable for Christians to accept puzzling or paradoxical Christian doctrines, and in part by persuading nonbelievers that all of the core claims of Christianity are true. Oppy explains why he thinks that the book utterly fails to accomplish one of these aims, and thus fails to do much to advance the standing of Christian apologetics.
Former Catholic priest and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll’s Practicing Catholic enlightens us about the evolution of Catholic teachings on salvation for non-Catholics, the growing support for progressive Catholic attitudes under Pope John XXIII, and the reactionary backsliding that has occurred under John Paul II and Benedictus XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). But Carroll barely defends his own pro-life stance on abortion and ignores altogether the moderate position that Catholic liberals have defended for decades. In theology, his view that God is unknowable conflicts with his claim that evidence-transcendent faith can count as knowledge, and he never explains (without begging the question) how faith that willfully goes beyond available evidence can be cognitively rational, let alone constitute knowledge. Nevertheless, though his faith is not cognitively rational because it is not well-grounded in evidence, it may well be practically rational to the extent that it plays an important role in his own overall well-being.
In this explanation of why he is not a Christian, Keith Parsons discusses the role that Christianity has played in perpetuating suffering throughout human history, the bizarre doctrine of inflicting eternal punishment on persons for having the wrong beliefs, the composition, inconsistencies, and absurdities of the New Testament Gospels, William Lane Craig’s flawed case for the resurrection of Jesus, the role of legendary development and hallucinations in early Christianity, and C.S. Lewis’ weak justifications for the Christian prohibition on premarital sex.
This is an online edition of the print book by the same title. It is the true story of a former evangelical missionary who gradually lost his faith, and the many reasons for his loss of faith. Daniels writes: “I invite Christian readers to consider the possibility that my apostasy is a result not of divine or diabolical deception but of a simple weighing of the evidence … It might be that I am wrong. It might be that I have not sought God sufficiently or studied the Bible thoroughly enough or listened carefully enough to the many Christians who have admonished me … Maybe. But the knowledge that billions of seekers have lived and died, calling out to God for some definitive revelation without ever receiving it, or receiving revelation that conflicts with the revelation others have found, contributes to my suspicion that there is no personal God who reveals himself to anyone.”