Monday, July 3, 2017
God is not all-powerful if there is something He cannot do. God cannot lie, therefore God is not all-powerful.” - Part II
In part I of responding to this objection, I spent all my time on the argument from a philosophical, logical, and theology standpoint. I did not address the specifics that Bob lists due to space. Here I will briefly treat Bob’s specifics. Before I do, I want to vent. What I wish is that atheists would do better in their attempt to at least get closer to fairly interacting with Christian belief. In this case, it would have been nice if Bob had at least interacted a bit with the field of biblical hermeneutics. Sadly, he chose not to. So here goes nothing!
Bob selects six proofs that the Christian belief that God is omnipotent is false. I will interact with each one briefly.
God changes his mind: “The Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people” (Exodus 32:10–14).
This is an old objection that has been answered time and time again. Because God is infinite in nature and human beings are finite, God must condescend to our level in order to communicate with us. God accommodates our finitude by speaking to us in language that we can understand. So when the Bible says things like “God changed his mind,” rather than understand that communication in an extremely literal manner we best understand that God is doing something when he communicates in this way. This type of communication is called an anthropomorphism. An anthropomorphism is a literary device that attributes human characteristics or behavior to God. In addition, the partial must always be interpreted by Scripture as a whole. In this case, Moses’ interceding for Israel is a type of the Messiah who will come and as our great High Priest, intercede for us. Those dots are easily connected.
God doesn’t know everything: “I will go down [to Sodom] and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me” (Genesis 18:21).
See response 1 above.
God isn’t all-powerful and is defeated several times in the Old Testament.
In this case Bob references 2 Kings 3:27 where the King of Moab sacrificed his son in order to appease the god Chemosh and according to Bob, this worked and Chemosh defeated Yahweh. He claims this is the case because v. 27 says, “And there came great wrath against Israel.” But most scholars believe that this wrath was likely Israel’s own wrath at the sight of such an outrageous act. The battle had been won, Moab had been subdued and put in its place. There seemed little more to be gained by pressing the matter in the face of such incredible acts as this one. This is simply another case of atheistic wishful thinking.
God isn’t especially moral.
In this proof, Bob portends to show that God is reckless disregard for his own commandments, pointing out times where God killed people, allowed human sacrifice, and even committed genocide. In making his case, he attempts a rebuttal of William Lane Craigs response to this argument which is basically correct: I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses. … God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative. In response to Craig’s remarks, Bob says, “The parallel often given is that of a sand sculpture. If I built it, I can squash it. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs here, but I think things are different when the thing being squashed is living. We have no respect for the sadist who pulls the wings off a fly, and we have laws against animal cruelty. But Craig thinks that God’s rules don’t apply to God? How many moralities are there?”
So the Christian will response with a couple of points here. First, God’s command not to murder presumes relative innocence. We are not to take an innocent life. But where we are concerned in our relationship with God, no human being is innocent. We are all guilty and deserve to die. God is committing no immorality if he destroys every human on the planet. The only reason he does not destroy us is grace. So, if God is wrong to take a human life, then the concept of grace is meaningless. Grace is destroyed. In addition to God being merciful, God is just. When God takes a human life, he has just cause for doing so and to do so is his sovereign right. When God destroyed the earth with flood and later burned the sexually perverse cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he was executing divine justice. There is nothing logically inconsistent with these acts. If Bob is right in his logic, then the murder of a 1 year old child is morally equivalent to the death penalty for Nazi death-camp officers from WWII. If that is your theory of morality, good luck defending it.
Bob goes on charge God with stealing when he had Israel steal the land from the Canaanites. But one cannot steel what is already theirs. The earth is the Lord and the fullness thereof. If God decides to give someone a piece of dirt, that is his absolute right. Bob’s assumption is that the Canaanites have rights superseding divine sovereignty. No such state of affairs is possible as far as Christian belief is concerned.
See item #1 above.
What is the example Bob gives for God lying? Apparently God lied to Adam and Eve when he told them that in the day they eat the fruit, they will surely die. Bob assumes that God meant death would occur now, on that day, or worse, that it had to mean now or on that day. Notice that in each of these cases, Bob the atheist employs what I call a convenient hermeneutic. This method of interpretation allows one to take whatever interpretation in Scripture most favors one’s worldview and to make the meaning of Scripture cohere with that system. Additionally, the day Adam ate the fruit of that tree, he assured death for himself. Bob is clearly unfamiliar with biblical Hebrew. The prepositional phrase בְּיֹ֛ום, bĕyōwm does not necessarily mean “when.” Though this phrase can mean vaguely “when” (cf. 2:4; 5:1), it tends to emphasize promptness of action (e.g., Num 30:6, 8, 9, etc.), especially in the closely similar passage (1 Kgs 2:37, 42). [Wenham, Genesis] Another approach to interpreting this phrase is to understand it in an ingressive sense. The day you eat of the fruit, you will begin to die. Are we to actually believe that Moses was unaware of what he was writing at the time? Either way, Bob is entirely wrong in how he handles this text. The question I have for Bob has to do with his integrity. Is he doing this on purpose. Is he targeting people who just aren’t the critical thinkers they could be and attempting to convince them that these ghostly objections are real rather than illusions created by his own convenient hermeneutic?
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