Answers to Questions for Theists

Over at his blog (http://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/) makagutu has posted some questions for theists(http://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/questions-for-theists/).

 

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to consider the questions as I might have in my Christian days. So, over lunch yesterday I discussed the questions with my wife (who is still a Christian) and below is a summary of how we assessed the questions.

Some of the questions are long, so you’ll need to go over there to see the questions, I’ll write just the answers we discussed.

 

  1. It’s not specifically about the eating of the fruit. It’s the disobedience and rebellion that the act signified. The warning had already been given so the response should not be a surprise. The sacrifice element is a very long theological answer.
  2. It’s not about God not being clear, it’s about man injecting his own bias and interpretation over the years. The result is less than perfection.
    • As an atheist, I find this answer wholly unsatisfying, yet I don’t see how a theist can offer much improvement on the answer.
  3. No one can know the answer to this one and any answer would be a pure guess on what God actually did. Also, no valid conclusions could come from whatever guess a theists decided to give. The only honest answer is “I don’t know”.
    • As an atheist I don’t consider this a good question because there is no answer and therefore there is no comeback. It might lead to some interesting postulating but there is no serious dialog that this question can promote.
  4. This one actually made me laugh. It basically hits the free will argument, which is at the very centre of Christian theology. God didn’t do it out of predestined confusion; he did it to give us a chance.
  5. Short answer: “No one can know the mind of God.” The answer to 4 extends into this one, but it also touches on a very real challenge, why did God do it the way he did?
    • As an atheist, I think this question shows exactly how tortuous the route to salvation is and how uncritically Christians accept it.
  6. How very true. The bible also records that Jesus had his own credibility issues at the time. Just because someone appears to be out of touch, different, or even irrelevant, does that mean they are automatically wrong?
  7. I’m not and never was so cannot possibly answer. I would suggest that the heavenly language is unlikely to be any language of earth, we’d somehow just ‘know’ how to communicate with each other.
  8. The unique selling point of Christianity is salvation through grace. It is this that makes it the one true path to god.
    • As an atheist I do not find this at all convincing. The only answer to “they can’t all be right” is that none of them are right. Each will have its own unique selling point and the USP answer isn’t particularly good.
  9. My wife conceded that this was a very challenging question and possibly the one which demonstrated the biggest flaws in religion as a whole. We couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer.
  10. This is another question that seeks to predict the mind of God and frame it so he is self-contradictory. No one can answer what God’s motives were so the question is impossible to answer and therefore no conclusions can come from it. Better questions are needed.
  11. This is clearly a reference to the bible saying the God hardened pharaoh’s heart so that he would not set the Israelites free. The English phrasing is a problem and the preferred reading is that god allowed it to happen rather than actively made it to happen. Either way, it’s a difficult passage with no easy answer. We didn’t try to invent one.
  12. Similar answer to 11.

 

So there you have it, some good questions, some not so good questions; some good answers, some not so good answers. The exercise was an interesting 30 minutes for my wife and I, but ultimately it didn’t change the basic position of either of us.

 

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I Have Feedback

Following on from my last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/examining-creationism-my-essay-for-a-course/) where I shared an essay I wrote for a course I am taking.

The feedback I got for the essay was all good, no one objected to the subject or my conclusions. Essays are scored 1 to 6 by each reviewer and you are assigned the average. I scored a 6! Can’t get better than that!

Score of 6: This project will meet all criteria and goals for Project 3 and be very clear and well written. It need not be perfect but it will be well reasoned, show a deep understanding of the case study, evaluates and discusses relevant research, and shows a compelling and wide-ranging discussion of how the case study reflects, contrasts, or modifies our thinking about expertise. It goes beyond what is required. The project uses the case study to raise new questions about expertise. The introduction and conclusion are strong. Evidence is integrated effectively, and the title is strong. Citations are mostly correct.

 

Reviewers can also leave comments, the comments I received were:

What overall comments do you have for the writer as he or she moves on to Project 4?
peer 1 → Very well written, congratulations
peer 2 → This project will meet all criteria and goals for Project 3 and be very clear and well written
peer 3 → I go the impression that both the evolutionist and the creationist are experts at odds about the origins of mankind in this op ed, is that the case?
peer 4 → Mathews’ paper was very interesting, well written and documented. I am a catholic who has worked as a volunteer with Jesuits. Some Jesuits through out history became scientists and even when their findings contradicted the catholic church’s “truths” that didn’t stop them from presenting the results of their research. I find this paper very interesting and all I can tell Mathew for project 4 is to keep up his good work and I hope your paper is as well written and interesting as this one.
What did you learn about your own writing based on reading and evaluating this writer’s project?
peer 1 → My arguments if and when well present rated, need not be wholly convincing.
peer 2 → coherent and well-organized paragraph
peer 3 → that there are differences between op ed and essay
peer 4 → We all put a bit of ourselves in our work and through our work we don’t just share knowledge, we also share a few traits of our personalities. When I review the work of fellow students I fell that even though I feel I’ve improved thanks to this course I still have a lot to learn.