Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statements?

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Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statements?

Postby webgrunt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:11 pm UTC

I don't want to start a debate over religion, I just want to see if someone can (gently, please) point out any flaw in the following line of reasoning which seems to lead to the inescapable conclusion that there is at least one false claim in the Bible:

It says in the Bible that God can do anything. This means that God can make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses the path that leads them to heaven. If you say God can't do this, then you're saying the Bible contains lies, because the Bible doesn't say "god can do anything within reason" or "God can do anything within the restraints of what is physically possible," it says God can do anything, period.

It also says that God is good, and it says that some people will go to hell. Let's agree that no definition of the word "good" would allow for a being defined as good to let others suffer torture for eternity if he could prevent it.

These three statements cannot be reconciled. If God is all-powerful and good, then he can and will ensure that no one has to suffer in hell for eternity. However, according to the Bible, some people will suffer in hell for eternity, so the Bible is therefore wrong on at least one of those points--either God is not good, or there are things God can't do, or no one will suffer in hell eternally. (Maybe I should ask that we also agree to assume that no one would want to suffer in hell eternally.)

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby ++$_ » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:21 pm UTC

Well, you've made an assumption, haven't you? In particular, you've assumed that the act of allowing a being to become so depraved that it deserves eternal punishment is an evil act. I think a lot of people would disagree.

Some people would also disagree that the Bible says anyone will go to hell for all eternity. It certainly does not say so in as many words! To come to that conclusion, you have to do a lot of reading between the lines, which means that people will inevitably disagree with your interpretation. Just google "bible hell" and you'll find dozens of different ways to interpret the Bible on that topic -- some which agree with your intepretation and others which disagree.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:23 pm UTC

webgrunt wrote:It says in the Bible that God can do anything. This means that God can make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses the path that leads them to heaven. If you say God can't do this, then you're saying the Bible contains lies, because the Bible doesn't say "god can do anything within reason" or "God can do anything within the restraints of what is physically possible," it says God can do anything, period.

[citation needed]. And I would be careful about using semantical arguments on an English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic translation of a Hebrew text.

It also says that God is good, and it says that some people will go to hell. Let's agree that no definition of the word "good" would allow for a being defined as good to let others suffer torture for eternity if he could prevent it.

These three statements cannot be reconciled. If God is all-powerful and good, then he can and will ensure that no one has to suffer in hell for eternity. However, according to the Bible, some people will suffer in hell for eternity, so the Bible is therefore wrong on at least one of those points--either God is not good, or there are things God can't do, or no one will suffer in hell eternally. (Maybe I should ask that we also agree to assume that no one would want to suffer in hell eternally.)


First, you're looking way too hard for false statements. All you need to do is find some contradictory statements, and at least one has to be false. For example, Chapter 1 in Genesis says that Man was created after animals. Chapter 2 says the opposite. As these statements are contradictory, one must be wrong (by the law of excluded middle). Thus the Bible contains false statements. Quod Erat Demonstradum.

Second, what you've just stated is a version of the problem of evil. The problem of evil states that there cannot be an omnibenevolent and omnipotent god in a world with evil. The reasoning goes as follows:

If God is omnipotent then he must be malevolent, to allow evil.
If God is omnibenevolent he must not be omnipotent, as he doesn't have the power to end evil.
If God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent, then what's with all the evil?

("evil" here is often swapped out for "suffering")

Now, one might argue that the only evils that exist are necessary evils, i.e. they are required for there to be good. For example, one might talk about the evil of a lion viciously disemboweling some other African Mammal as a necessary evil, as the lion must survive to.

All arguments against the problem of evil rely on the premise that this is the best of all possible worlds, and by extension that all evils are necessary. This can be countered in two ways. First, one can simply say "the holocaust?" However, that's an inductive approach: while it certainly seems that the evil of the Holocaust is not a necessary evil, there could theoretically be some greater purpose to it. To defend the problem of evil deductively and certainly, one would merely have to propose a possible universe in which there is no evil. One must simply show that this is not the best of all possible worlds.

I will do so right now. A universe with no life would also have no evil, therefore that is a better universe. Or perhaps a universe where all life is in a permanent state of euphoria.

So, your logic does not deductively prove that the Bible contains contradictions, as it is theoretically possible that Hell could server a greater purpose. The proposal of a world better than this one deductively proves that the Bible contains contradictions, assuming it actually does claim that God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent. (I'd look in the New Testament for that quote, Tanakh God is certainly not omnibenevolent, nor does he pretend to be.)
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby webgrunt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:25 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
webgrunt wrote:It says in the Bible that God can do anything. This means that God can make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses the path that leads them to heaven. If you say God can't do this, then you're saying the Bible contains lies, because the Bible doesn't say "god can do anything within reason" or "God can do anything within the restraints of what is physically possible," it says God can do anything, period.

[citation needed]. And I would be careful about using semantical arguments on an English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic translation of a Hebrew text.

It also says that God is good, and it says that some people will go to hell. Let's agree that no definition of the word "good" would allow for a being defined as good to let others suffer torture for eternity if he could prevent it.

These three statements cannot be reconciled. If God is all-powerful and good, then he can and will ensure that no one has to suffer in hell for eternity. However, according to the Bible, some people will suffer in hell for eternity, so the Bible is therefore wrong on at least one of those points--either God is not good, or there are things God can't do, or no one will suffer in hell eternally. (Maybe I should ask that we also agree to assume that no one would want to suffer in hell eternally.)


First, you're looking way too hard for false statements. All you need to do is find some contradictory statements, and at least one has to be false. For example, Chapter 1 in Genesis says that Man was created after animals. Chapter 2 says the opposite. As these statements are contradictory, one must be wrong (by the law of excluded middle). Thus the Bible contains false statements. Quod Erat Demonstradum.

Second, what you've just stated is a version of the problem of evil. The problem of evil states that there cannot be an omnibenevolent and omnipotent god in a world with evil. The reasoning goes as follows:

If God is omnipotent then he must be malevolent, to allow evil.
If God is omnibenevolent he must not be omnipotent, as he doesn't have the power to end evil.
If God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent, then what's with all the evil?

("evil" here is often swapped out for "suffering")

Now, one might argue that the only evils that exist are necessary evils, i.e. they are required for there to be good. For example, one might talk about the evil of a lion viciously disemboweling some other African Mammal as a necessary evil, as the lion must survive to.

All arguments against the problem of evil rely on the premise that this is the best of all possible worlds, and by extension that all evils are necessary. This can be countered in two ways. First, one can simply say "the holocaust?" However, that's an inductive approach: while it certainly seems that the evil of the Holocaust is not a necessary evil, there could theoretically be some greater purpose to it. To defend the problem of evil deductively and certainly, one would merely have to propose a possible universe in which there is no evil. One must simply show that this is not the best of all possible worlds.

I will do so right now. A universe with no life would also have no evil, therefore that is a better universe. Or perhaps a universe where all life is in a permanent state of euphoria.

So, your logic does not deductively prove that the Bible contains contradictions, as it is theoretically possible that Hell could server a greater purpose. The proposal of a world better than this one deductively proves that the Bible contains contradictions, assuming it actually does claim that God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent. (I'd look in the New Testament for that quote, Tanakh God is certainly not omnibenevolent, nor does he pretend to be.)


Perfect, thanks!

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby webgrunt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:Well, you've made an assumption, haven't you? In particular, you've assumed that the act of allowing a being to become so depraved that it deserves eternal punishment is an evil act. I think a lot of people would disagree.

Some people would also disagree that the Bible says anyone will go to hell for all eternity. It certainly does not say so in as many words! To come to that conclusion, you have to do a lot of reading between the lines, which means that people will inevitably disagree with your interpretation. Just google "bible hell" and you'll find dozens of different ways to interpret the Bible on that topic -- some which agree with your intepretation and others which disagree.

Thank you, good point. Not that it really applies, but just incidentally, I believe the only crime that could ever warrant eternal suffering is allowing another being to suffer for eternity if you could prevent it. This would qualify God for punishment in hell, if the rules applied to him.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:57 pm UTC

webgrunt wrote:Thank you, good point. Not that it really applies, but just incidentally, I believe the only crime that could ever warrant eternal suffering is allowing another being to suffer for eternity if you could prevent it. This would qualify God for punishment in hell, if the rules applied to him.


I think the Bible has made it very clear that god is above the law.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:01 am UTC

++$_ wrote:Well, you've made an assumption, haven't you? In particular, you've assumed that the act of allowing a being to become so depraved that it deserves eternal punishment is an evil act. I think a lot of people would disagree.

Some people would also disagree that the Bible says anyone will go to hell for all eternity. It certainly does not say so in as many words! To come to that conclusion, you have to do a lot of reading between the lines, which means that people will inevitably disagree with your interpretation. Just google "bible hell" and you'll find dozens of different ways to interpret the Bible on that topic -- some which agree with your intepretation and others which disagree.

This. Harold Camping, for example, thought the damned would spend five months in hell, before being obliviated (as in oblivion, not oblivious).

I suppose the best justifications for hell involve concepts like "free will" and "justice" and "discipline" and such. It is really complicated, and I've hardly put my mind to the subject in all my life. The proper people to ask are insanely old priests and hermits who have devoted their lives to God and world-abnegation.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:04 am UTC

There's another question here, which is, "Can god do the logically impossible?" Even if God exists and can perform miracles, he could still be bound by the laws of logic to only do what is logically possible. In that case, he couldn't make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses a certain type of path, because free will implies the choice the choose between all possible paths.

If you're looking for evidence that the Bible contains statements which are not literally true, you needn't look any further than Genesis 1, when God creates the entire universe, including the Earth, and all species of life on the Earth within a week. Science tells us that this is literally false, so there are parts of the Bible which are at best metaphorically true. In fact, scientific and archaeological evidence imply that most of Genesis and Exodus are false or allegorical.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:07 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:There's another question here, which is, "Can god do the logically impossible?" Even if God exists and can perform miracles, he could still be bound by the laws of logic to only do what is logically possible. In that case, he couldn't make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses a certain type of path, because free will implies the choice the choose between all possible paths.


And then you run into another problem: if God knows what is going to happen but cannot do the logically impossible, then he can't grant free will because he knows how people will use it, so everything is predetermined. Which merges into the problem of evil: if God can predetermine what people do by changing the starting parameters, why did he set them such that people commit evil?
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby omgryebread » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:41 am UTC

The biggest problem with trying to find problems in the bible is that they've all been found and explained away hundreds of times, in hundreds of different ways.


One explanation is that God offers salvation to everyone, and acceptance of that is up to the individual. If someone was drowning, and you offered them a hand, but they didn't take it, no one should accuse you of drowning the person, right?

Plenty of people deny the existence of an eternal hell. The Bible is infinitely interpretable, so it's not an incredibly hard claim to defend. Many claim that hell is just suffering on earth for one's sins. Some preach annihilationism, that the souls of the damned are destroyed, and so aren't rewarded, but don't suffer. Believers in universal reconciliation believe that eventually, everyone will be saved, possibly after suffering in hell an appropriate amount.

webgrunt wrote:Let's agree that no definition of the word "good" would allow for a being defined as good to let others suffer torture for eternity if he could prevent it.
I personally accept this, but it's quite possible for others to not. One could say it is good to let bad people suffer for eternity.


It says in the Bible that God can do anything. This means that God can make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses the path that leads them to heaven. If you say God can't do this, then you're saying the Bible contains lies, because the Bible doesn't say "god can do anything within reason" or "God can do anything within the restraints of what is physically possible," it says God can do anything, period.
Can do and do are separate things. If God made sure our free will arrives at a certain choice, is that truly free will?

sourmilk wrote:First, you're looking way too hard for false statements. All you need to do is find some contradictory statements, and at least one has to be false. For example, Chapter 1 in Genesis says that Man was created after animals. Chapter 2 says the opposite. As these statements are contradictory, one must be wrong (by the law of excluded middle). Thus the Bible contains false statements. Quod Erat Demonstradum.
Useful for biblical literalists, but pretty useless otherwise. Most will argue that the Genesis isn't reporting the facts of what happened during Creation, but telling a story with a lesson, in the same way that Aesop wasn't trying to tell us about a real race between two animals.


All arguments against the problem of evil rely on the premise that this is the best of all possible worlds, and by extension that all evils are necessary. This can be countered in two ways. First, one can simply say "the holocaust?" However, that's an inductive approach: while it certainly seems that the evil of the Holocaust is not a necessary evil, there could theoretically be some greater purpose to it. To defend the problem of evil deductively and certainly, one would merely have to propose a possible universe in which there is no evil. One must simply show that this is not the best of all possible worlds.

I will do so right now. A universe with no life would also have no evil, therefore that is a better universe. Or perhaps a universe where all life is in a permanent state of euphoria.
The problem is that you can never fully arrive at a definition of "better" that everyone would agree with. I think a universe where I don't have head lice right now would be better, but I'm sure the lice disagree.

More seriously, (though really, lice are very serious!), a world with no life would have no evil sure, but no virtue as well. Courage is the virtue of doing something good despite the possibility one may suffer. If there is no evil to cause the suffering, then there is no need for courage.

To use the Bible, an important story is the Temptation of Christ. It would not be impressive if Jesus hung out in the desert for forty days, nothing happened, and he didn't sin. It's impressive that he resisted sinning when he had the opportunity and temptation. To use another example, Jesus talks about the virtue of giving alms to the poor several times. But that's not very virtuous if there's no poor.

A world where everyone is euphoric sounds great to me, but why is it better? Couldn't it be argued that a world of virtuous people is better than a world of happy people?

So, your logic does not deductively prove that the Bible contains contradictions, as it is theoretically possible that Hell could server a greater purpose. The proposal of a world better than this one deductively proves that the Bible contains contradictions, assuming it actually does claim that God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent. (I'd look in the New Testament for that quote, Tanakh God is certainly not omnibenevolent, nor does he pretend to be.)
The biggest problem is that "the best of all possible worlds" isn't widely accepted doctrine. In fact, it's pretty roundly criticized by most Christians.


If you're trying to formulate arguments against Christianity, trying it from within the Bible isn't a good idea. For one, most people will say it's not literal, and everyone will say it's interpretable. It's pretty easy to say "that's not a contradiction, you're reading it wrong" and come up with some contortionist way of explaining things.

Secondly, it's just never a good idea to argue on your opponent's terms. Don't accept points you disagree with for the sake of argument, because they get more control of the argument without having to win that point. In Taekwondo (the sport kind), I have a short kicking range, so I edge up slowly to get in range. Bad opponents will edge backwards to keep the distance in their range, and out of mine. So while they think they are maintaining an advantage, they're losing ring space and actually giving me a huge one. And I didn't even have to try and kick to get to get them to back up. It's the same with arguing, don't let your opponent argue on their terms, even if you think you can win there.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:48 am UTC

The problem is that you can never fully arrive at a definition of "better" that everyone would agree with.

The definition of "better", as far as the problem of evil is concerned, is "less suffering."

a world with no life would have no evil sure, but no virtue as well.


The problem of evil is concerned with suffering, not virtue.

A world where everyone is euphoric sounds great to me, but why is it better? Couldn't it be argued that a world of virtuous people is better than a world of happy people?

Why not have both?

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The biggest problem is that "the best of all possible worlds" isn't widely accepted doctrine.

If you accept that God must be omnibenevolent and omnipotent (and I recognize that not nearly all Christians think that), then you must accept that this is the best of all worlds, otherwise God is intentionally making it worse than it could be.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:23 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:And then you run into another problem: if God knows what is going to happen but cannot do the logically impossible, then he can't grant free will because he knows how people will use it, so everything is predetermined. Which merges into the problem of evil: if God can predetermine what people do by changing the starting parameters, why did he set them such that people commit evil?

I don't see the problem. He knows what they will choose, but it is still their choice, hence they had free will. God aside, this is how I understand free will in a deterministic universe. My actions are predetermined, but only because of who I am; I decide, and my decisions are simply consequences of my personality and thought processes (which themselves arise from more basic physical laws).
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Xeio » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:34 am UTC

So you're given a choice, but you never had the possibility of making the other choice...

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:41 am UTC

Xeio wrote:So you're given a choice, but you never had the possibility of making the other choice...

I suppose that could be true if YOU can see your whole life laid out before you.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Xeio » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:04 am UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:
Xeio wrote:So you're given a choice, but you never had the possibility of making the other choice...
I suppose that could be true if YOU can see your whole life laid out before you.
1. Universe is deterministic.
2. God is omniscient
3. God chooses the parameters of the universe
4. Given a specific set of parameters X, a specific result Y will occur (from 1, mostly a clarification)
6. God knows the effects of any parameter of the universe (2, 4)
7. God chooses the entirety of the events of the universe (6, 3)

EDIT: Actually, this doesn't necessarily require the 1, if 2 includes perfect future-sight. But I'm not sure if that's nitpicking.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:10 am UTC

Xeio wrote:
Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:
Xeio wrote:So you're given a choice, but you never had the possibility of making the other choice...
I suppose that could be true if YOU can see your whole life laid out before you.
1. Universe is deterministic.
2. God is omniscient
3. God chooses the parameters of the universe
4. Given a specific set of parameters X, a specific result Y will occur (from 1, mostly a clarification)
6. God knows the effects of any parameter of the universe (2, 4)
7. God chooses the entirety of the events of the universe (6, 3)

EDIT: Actually, this doesn't necessarily require the 1, if 2 includes perfect future-sight. But I'm not sure if that's nitpicking.

2, in these circumstances, generally includes perfect foresight.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:15 am UTC

Xeio wrote:So you're given a choice, but you never had the possibility of making the other choice...
So long as it's that you never had the possibility of making a choice other than the one you wanted to make, it's hardly a distinction that matters. But that is treading on the toes of the free will thread.

The short answer to the OP is that (a) God isn't omnipotent in the sense that he can do self-contradictory things (and the Bible never claims that he is) and (b) God isn't omnibenelovent in the sense that he values a lack of suffering over free will (and the Bible never claims that of him either)

To think either of those things is to read too much into the language involved.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby LaserGuy » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:51 am UTC

++$_ wrote:Some people would also disagree that the Bible says anyone will go to hell for all eternity. It certainly does not say so in as many words! To come to that conclusion, you have to do a lot of reading between the lines, which means that people will inevitably disagree with your interpretation. Just google "bible hell" and you'll find dozens of different ways to interpret the Bible on that topic -- some which agree with your intepretation and others which disagree.


I think you pretty much have to toss out the book of Revelation to get this interpretation, but some churches do that.

For the OP:
I think you can probably make the case that omniscient + omnibenevolent + omnipotent are, in and of themselves, self-contradictory--that there is no possible way that all three could be held simultaneously. For example, one could argue that:

1) A being that is omnibenevolent must, given any set of choices, always choose the one that maximizes the greatest good.
2) A being that is omniscient is able to determine all possible outcomes of a given action.
3) A being that is omnipotent is capable of undertaking any action.

From 2), the being is always able to determine, with perfect accuracy, the action that maximizes the greatest good.
From 1), whatever action is determined to maximize the greatest good is the action the being must choose to undertake if it is able to.
From 3), the being is capable of undertaking any action, and therefore must be able to undertake the action that maximizes the greatest good.

Therefore: the only action that the being is capable of undertaking is that which maximizes the greatest good. Any other action violates 1). However, this means that the being is not capable of undertaking any action; it can only undertake the action that satisfies 1). This violates 3). We arrive at a contradiction.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Duban » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:15 am UTC

A major flaw in this type of argument is assuming people can think of their religion logically in the first place. Most won't even listen or think anti-religious information through, and if they do listen they tend to rationalize any "proof" you give to fit into their world view in some way.

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If something good happens, they attribute it to their belief and it strengthens their belief. If something contradicts their belief they think they're being tested, and it strengthens their belief. No amount of proof is enough for some people. I'm not saying every religious person refuses to look at facts objectively... Just many, if not most, of them.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:11 am UTC

The argument that "if god knows what you are going to do, then free will can't exist" falls apart if you spend a few days with Quantum Physicists. If the universe is actually made up of everything that could possibly happen (rather than what we observe to have happen and 'will' happen), then free will with omniscience is not contradictory; a being with omniscience would see all possibilities, and free will is more you selecting which possibility will become 'reality'. You make every choice available, but 'our' universe as we know it is only the one of a towering infinity of possible universes... Basically, same thing as Schrodinger's cat and all...
Last edited by CorruptUser on Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:15 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Duban » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:13 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The argument that "if god knows what you are going to do, then free will can't exist" falls apart if you spend a few days with Quantum Physicists. If the universe is actually made up of everything that could possibly happen (rather than what we observe to have happen and 'will' happen), then free will with omniscience is not contradictory.

If you take the "everything that could happen will happen" into account it becomes clear it's impossible for a being to be both omnipotent and omniscient. Under this situation one of the following about said diety holds true. It is

A. Not all knowing because it is physically impossible to know the ultimate outcome of any event.
B. Not all powerful because everything that can happen is going to happen to someone/something regardless of what it wants.
C. Not all powerful because the universe is ultimately deterministic.

No matter what there is no room for a being that is both omniscient and omnipotant.
Last edited by Duban on Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:30 am UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:17 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The argument that "if god knows what you are going to do, then free will can't exist" falls apart if you spend a few days with Quantum Physicists. If the universe is actually made up of everything that could possibly happen (rather than what we observe to have happen and 'will' happen), then free will with omniscience is not contradictory; a being with omniscience would see all possibilities, and free will is more you selecting which possibility will become 'reality'. You make every choice available, but 'our' universe as we know it is only the one of a towering infinity of possible universes... Basically, same thing as Schrodinger's cat and all...


No, because God still knows in which universe, in which axis on the 5th dimension, and under what random location of any given particle what will happen.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:32 am UTC

You assume the being is within said universe rather than outside it. It gets very weird that even scientists have trouble even conceptualizing it, so feel free to ignore anyone who claims to know exactly how it works (e.g., every religious leader ever).

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Cheezwhiz Jenkins » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:54 am UTC

>points out that "making the universe an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering" is emphatically not the same as "allowing people to turn the universe into an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering through their exertion of free will."<
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:57 am UTC

Cheezwhiz Jenkins wrote:>points out that "making the universe an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering" is emphatically not the same as "allowing people to turn the universe into an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering through their exertion of free will."<

Smallpox is a consequence of humans exerting their free will, is it?
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:24 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:The argument that "if god knows what you are going to do, then free will can't exist" falls apart if you spend a few days with Quantum Physicists. If the universe is actually made up of everything that could possibly happen (rather than what we observe to have happen and 'will' happen), then free will with omniscience is not contradictory; a being with omniscience would see all possibilities, and free will is more you selecting which possibility will become 'reality'. You make every choice available, but 'our' universe as we know it is only the one of a towering infinity of possible universes... Basically, same thing as Schrodinger's cat and all...


No, because God still knows in which universe, in which axis on the 5th dimension, and under what random location of any given particle what will happen.

That is assuming all we may or may not make of our lives is not one giant probability cloud of all possible choices collapsing as we make our choices in life, as a photon being observed passing through one of two slits only settles in one of two lines rather than as a wave if only observed when striking a wall.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Cheezwhiz Jenkins » Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:32 am UTC

I'm not putting forth the argument that humans bring everything bad upon themselves. That would be silly (and indeed were I to, smallpox would very neatly refute it).

I don't think, however, that smallpox conclusively refutes the argument that allowing is not the same thing as causing, which is really the point I was getting at, rather than the ultimate cause of evil or suffering (not something I intended to speak to). It just seems to me that there are a couple of important aspects of agency that are being overlooked here, and that's all I'm trying to say. For example, there is a similar flaw in this argument:

It says in the Bible that God can do anything. This means that God can make it so that everyone, of their own free will, chooses the path that leads them to heaven. If you say God can't do this, then you're saying the Bible contains lies


Being able to do something doesn't mean that you have to do it. There's no contradiction there. (The free will aspect has already been amply covered)
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:53 pm UTC

Cheezwhiz Jenkins wrote:>points out that "making the universe an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering" is emphatically not the same as "allowing people to turn the universe into an evil place/place where there is evil/suffering through their exertion of free will."<

If God denied people free will so that they would always do good, there would be less evil. Because he did not choose the most benevolent path, God is not omnibenevolent.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:16 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:If God denied people free will so that they would always do good, there would be less evil. Because he did not choose the most benevolent path, God is not omnibenevolent.

elasto's comment above bears repeating:
elasto wrote:God isn't omnibenelovent in the sense that he values a lack of suffering over free will (and the Bible never claims that of him either)
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby jestingrabbit » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:56 pm UTC

If we're talking about the christian bible, then its very simple to demonstrate that there is at least one false statement in its text. There are two genealogies of christ that are listed, Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17. They disagree quite fundamentally, with even the name of Joseph's father, Jesus' grandfather, being given as Heli in Luke, and Jacob in Matthew. The shabby attempts of Christian scholars to demonstrate their consistency is pretty shameful really.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:If we're talking about the christian bible, then its very simple to demonstrate that there is at least one false statement in its text. There are two genealogies of christ that are listed, Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17. They disagree quite fundamentally, with even the name of Joseph's father, Jesus' grandfather, being given as Heli in Luke, and Jacob in Matthew. The shabby attempts of Christian scholars to demonstrate their consistency is pretty shameful really.


Do any serious religious scholars actually consider the Bible a literal recount of events? I thought Moshe ben Maimon ended that in the 12th century.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:57 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Do any serious religious scholars actually consider the Bible a literal recount of events? I thought Moshe ben Maimon ended that in the 12th century.

What's a serious religious scholar? The answer very much depends on what you consider serious. For my money the serious religious scholars are all atheists and agnostics, because if you understand the Bible well enough to be considered serious, then you understand it well enough to know it can't be divinely inspired. But I accept that many people wouldn't accept my definition.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:06 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Do any serious religious scholars actually consider the Bible a literal recount of events? I thought Moshe ben Maimon ended that in the 12th century.

What's a serious religious scholar? The answer very much depends on what you consider serious. For my money the serious religious scholars are all atheists and agnostics, because if you understand the Bible well enough to be considered serious, then you understand it well enough to know it can't be divinely inspired. But I accept that many people wouldn't accept my definition.


You don't have to be an atheist to not believe the Bible was divinely expired. Maimonedes certainly didn't believe the bible came directly from God, but he was a theist.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:11 pm UTC

[quote="skeptical scientistWhat's a serious religious scholar?[/quote]

An Oxymoron?

I mean I have respect (well, in as much as I have respect for Metaphysicians of a differing persausian) for Theologians but "Religious Scholar" in this context are usually those who set out on the quixotic mission of finding Historical Evidince for the Bible and the like...

Strictlly speaking the Bible never affirms the qualities of the Chritsian/Jewish God being those of the Philosophical God; Omni- benevolence, -potentence, -science. The Bible suffers from serious internal - contradiction and confusion - and empirically external - historically and scientifically inaccurate - errors. As for the Philosophical - I've always found problems with the specific idea of Sin and the redemptive role of Christ in seeming to imply Gods helplessness/vindictiveness. Speaking of Vindictiveness there is the rather irksome problem regarding the God of the Old Testament behaving in such an erratically cruel manner as to justify the statment that he
is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Certainly a God that's inconsistent with that of the other half of the Book - that is perhaps the greatest internal consistency - God himself. Indeed, one sees very clearly the Jewish/Christian delination; the God of the O.T. followes one people specifically, confining his metaphysical omnipotence to the greater (fictional) Biblical Middle East contrasting to his later self's suddenly burgeoning ambition in clensing sin from the whole of Humanity for the whole of eternity.

Of course this sort of leads on to one of the other Classical Philosophical God Problem First articulated in Plato's Euthyphro, concering God and Moraltiy. Briefly put: Does God say what is Moral or is Morality what God says? That is, are God's Laws and Moral Dictats based off some indpendent morality or is something moral solely because God says it is? If the former, than God is an unnescary addition to being a Moral Individual in a Theistic Universe and, indeed, God himself might be subjected to those same laws. If the Latter, then we are left with a somewhat unsettling version of Morality as solely the result of what God says it is rather than anything grander and, as the O.T. might evidince, does this indicate that Morality can change with God's actions?
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:What's a serious religious scholar?

An Oxymoron?

Bad joke is bad. You can certainly be a scholar on the subject of religion, which requires nothing in the way of belief. You can also be religious and a scholar.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:33 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:What's a serious religious scholar?

An Oxymoron?

Bad joke is bad. You can certainly be a scholar on the subject of religion, which requires nothing in the way of belief. You can also be religious and a scholar.


By religious scholar, I meant a scholar of religion who is also a theist.
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby a_toddler » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:10 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:If we're talking about the christian bible, then its very simple to demonstrate that there is at least one false statement in its text. There are two genealogies of christ that are listed, Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17. They disagree quite fundamentally, with even the name of Joseph's father, Jesus' grandfather, being given as Heli in Luke, and Jacob in Matthew. The shabby attempts of Christian scholars to demonstrate their consistency is pretty shameful really.


how about in hebrew genealogies, "father of" means "ancestor of"

so grandather is "father of" father, and grandfather is also "father of" son.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:20 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:how about in hebrew genealogies, "father of" means "ancestor of"

so grandather is "father of" father, and grandfather is also "father of" son.


I don't think this is the case. I'm always "Aviel ben Yitzhak" or "Aviel ben Yitzhak ben [whatever the hell my grandpa's hebrew name was]", never "Aviel ben [whatever the hell my grandpa's hebrew name was]"
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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby a_toddler » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:41 am UTC

yeah isnt that "son of", and also more of a title/surname?

besides, it is not unheard of for (im going to add 'ancient', because in modern society this is probably no longer the case) genealogies to include notable names rather than every name in family histories. also, luke and matthew had different agendas in listing the family history of Jesus (luke was tracing him to adam, while matthew was trying to highlight a pattern in Israel's history) which meant that they would include/exclude different names (and number of names) to make their points.

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Re: Is this evidence that the Bible contains false statement

Postby sourmìlk » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:44 am UTC

a_toddler wrote:yeah isnt that "son of", and also more of a title/surname?


Sometimes. When being called up to the Torah I am addressed as "Aviel ben Yitzhak" though my last name is Menter. However, there are people like ben-Gurion or bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden for whom that is part of their last name.

In English though it's almost always used as a surname. I've never heard anybody called "Johnson" to mean "son of John."
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