the absence of God?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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spartanII
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the absence of God?

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Post by spartanII » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:52 am

My friend believes that the black plague and the holocaust are direct proof that God doesn't exist, or if He does, He exists within a deistic form.
He says that "the black plague went on for years, and killed 90% of the people that had it, God didn't do anything- It wasn't until science came along that we can actually cure that stuff," or with the Holocaust he'd say "God sat by and watched that happened, it wasn't until Germany's downfall and the Russians/Americans trying to defeat them that ended the Holocaust.

I told him in the Bible God didn't help the Israelites out for 400 years, longer than the existence of the country i live in (USA) so this is common, and on top of, how many people were Christians and whether or not God cared about their prayers because of that,and he has to form a system of good/bad within his worldview that is objective, aka mind-dependent.
What would you say about that?

Sometimes it worries me, what if we, and the last 50 or so generations are generations of an absent God that wants nothing to do with us because we're sinners?

He also asks questions like why can't God heal amputees? I told him God could do it in person, but other than that, it isn't within His nature.
Atheist: "Science says it, I believe it, That settles it."

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by Ivellious » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:01 am

My only question is this: Why in biblical times was God seemingly ever present and constantly messing in the affairs of humans, whereas now he is literally not present at all, except in spirit? Even if you say that God is doing small miracles and so on every day, why is it that in biblical times God announced His presence and apparently spoke audibly to us, whereas now He is silent?

I think that's the gist of what your friend is saying. In the Bible, it clearly shows that it IS in God's nature to step in to either punish or bless us, often with great fanfare. The last 2000 years or so has apparently been a rather blunt stoppage of His influence on us.

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by Dallas » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:05 am

Ivellious wrote:My only question is this: Why in biblical times was God seemingly ever present and constantly messing in the affairs of humans, whereas now he is literally not present at all, except in spirit? Even if you say that God is doing small miracles and so on every day, why is it that in biblical times God announced His presence and apparently spoke audibly to us, whereas now He is silent?

I think that's the gist of what your friend is saying. In the Bible, it clearly shows that it IS in God's nature to step in to either punish or bless us, often with great fanfare. The last 2000 years or so has apparently been a rather blunt stoppage of His influence on us.
I think it has something to do with him waiting (our time of course). Maybe to see if anyone will still believe even if he doesn't "show" himself to people like he used to. Plus there were no more prophets after the last people who saw Jesus, I believe. Correct me if i'm wrong please.
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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by Ivellious » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:13 am

I think it's a weird idea that God is out to "test" our faith through covert means. It's one of the reasons I am extremely confused with several parts of the Bible. Like in Abraham's story, where God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son to God to demonstrate his faith...then basically says "haha jk I wouldn't want you to do that! But good job for loving me so much, here's a reward." I mean, seriously, that is just a little messed up, don't you think? Same goes for the loonies who try to explain dinosaur fossils and geologic evidence for an old Earth by saying "God just made it look like that to test our faith." Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that just a little bit silly to think that God is so petty to need to test us? He is omniscient after all...

Also, the prophet deal is a little bit out of my scholastic range. I don't want to sound like an expert, but lots of groups believe in other, later prophets (or one coming in the future). There was also an interesting story about that ancient book in Turkey that supposedly supports the Islam teaching that Jesus foresaw Muhammad as the next prophet. Somebody else should probably correct me/explain that better.

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by MarcusOfLycia » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:26 am

Abraham still had to make a sacrifice. But God provided a replacement for his son. It is a picture of Christ standing in that same place between us and God's Justice. So there's no "haha jk" about it. God is Just but God is also Merciful and Gracious. Much like a judge who rules against his daughter because she clearly broke the law but then pays her fine for her. God tests our faith not to find out what we'll do (He already knows) but to mold our character. That is the purpose of this place; to make Christians godly and give everyone the opportunity to trust God.

As for the topic, God is just as present today as He has always been. A cursory look at theology shows that God has given us His Holy Spirit, and instead of dwelling in a temple, He now dwells in us! This is entirely consistent with Christian theology throughout the ages.
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Re: the absence of God?

#6

Post by jlay » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:11 pm

Ivellious wrote:My only question is this: Why in biblical times was God seemingly ever present and constantly messing in the affairs of humans, whereas now he is literally not present at all, except in spirit? Even if you say that God is doing small miracles and so on every day, why is it that in biblical times God announced His presence and apparently spoke audibly to us, whereas now He is silent?

I think that's the gist of what your friend is saying. In the Bible, it clearly shows that it IS in God's nature to step in to either punish or bless us, often with great fanfare. The last 2000 years or so has apparently been a rather blunt stoppage of His influence on us.
Biblical times, as you say, span about 2,000 years. If you average every miracle in the bible out over that time frame, I think you get about 1 miracle every eight years. Now, we know this is not how they take place. They happen in bunches. Usually to bear witness to a move of God in the Earth. So, the reality of 'biblical times' is that there are hundreds upon hundreds of years without any recorded miracles.
Miracles are to authenticate the message or messenger. The very definition of a miracle precludes it from being ordinary.
I think it's a weird idea that God is out to "test" our faith through covert means. It's one of the reasons I am extremely confused with several parts of the Bible. Like in Abraham's story, where God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son to God to demonstrate his faith...then basically says "haha jk I wouldn't want you to do that!
Well there in lies part of the problem. I don't recall the "haha' part in the bible. In other words, you are saying, " I don't understand why God....." Which is certainly fine. Nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know." But the error is presupposing that God is just messing with Abraham with a gotcha moment at the expense of his son's life. Certainly the picture of Abraham and Issac has implications 2,000 years later that shadow the cross of Christ itself. In God's perspective, which is omnievident, nothing is arbitrary.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that just a little bit silly to think that God is so petty to need to test us? He is omniscient after all...
I think it is silly to attribute just any ole thing to testing. But it certainly isn't silly to think God test man, if we are to have a consistent view of scripture. That being that man is instrumental in God working out His plans on this earth, and God desiring an eternal plan for man. If God were indifferent towards man, then yes.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: the absence of God?

#7

Post by Stu » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:48 pm

spartanII wrote:My friend believes that the black plague and the holocaust are direct proof that God doesn't exist, or if He does, He exists within a deistic form.
He says that "the black plague went on for years, and killed 90% of the people that had it, God didn't do anything- It wasn't until science came along that we can actually cure that stuff," or with the Holocaust he'd say "God sat by and watched that happened, it wasn't until Germany's downfall and the Russians/Americans trying to defeat them that ended the Holocaust.
Hi, I just posted this in another thread so hope you don't mind the copy and paste :)
Free-will; God is not a puppet master and we are not puppets, that is the amazing beauty of his creation.

I bought a movie the other day called The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon; not a bad movie.
It revolves around a man who continually has "adjustments" made to his life by the "adjustment bureau" to steer his life in the "right" direction, even if it's something he disagrees with.
Not only him but humanity as a whole. Free-will within certain boundaries, beyond which "adjustments" are made.

Is that the preferred alternative then?
Sometimes it worries me, what if we, and the last 50 or so generations are generations of an absent God that wants nothing to do with us because we're sinners?
The way I understand it is that Jesus came to set us free from sin, and when he died he left us the Holy Spirit. We are not alone.
Remember it's not like God interacted with mankind on a continual basis, and when Jesus came he fulfilled a prophesy and gave us everything we need.
He also asks questions like why can't God heal amputees? I told him God could do it in person, but other than that, it isn't within His nature.
It's important to remember that this life is not the most important one. It's what comes hereafter. But apart from that, humans also choose to put themselves in situations that can lead to dangerous life-threatening situations.
The human body was not meant to withstand the forces imparted on it when coming to a sudden stop while travelling in a "steel box on wheels" on the highway at 120km/h. But we do. Free-will.

At what point must God step in and at what point does he sit back?

No motorbike for Rossi; no solo climbing for Wolfgang Gullich; no Formula 1 racing for Ayrton Senna... does he stop Einstein from discovering that E=Mc2, to prevent nuclear war; or do we prevent the Chinese and mankind from discovering gun-powder, where does it end and begin.
Only when the blood runs and the shackles restrain, will the sheep then awake. When all is lost.

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by MrRoboto » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:09 pm

I agree with Stu, where does it end/begin? I run across people all the time who say this same thing: Why did God allow "fill in the blank" to happen here on earth? I don't think "here on earth" is the end result but yet a process. Awful things are going to happen and great things are going to happen that are hard to understand because we humans are such finite creatures.

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by La Volpe » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:39 pm

It's really an impossible feat to understand why God would allow certain bad things to happen. There is no way we could possibly understand his reasoning we just have to accept that it happened and happened for a reason and move on.
People will believe anything if you whisper it.

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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by Gman » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:47 pm

La Volpe wrote:It's really an impossible feat to understand why God would allow certain bad things to happen. There is no way we could possibly understand his reasoning we just have to accept that it happened and happened for a reason and move on.
It's all about free will... Man chose to divorce himself from G-d, therefore we are faced with problems in this world for now.. But it will be corrected one day.
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Re: the absence of God?

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Post by Wozzo » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:40 am

Just an observation from a recent convert to Christianity (having previously experimented with many esoteric practices including Tarot, Runes, Dowsing and even Ritual Magic).

The thing about a belief in God (in my case Christianity) is that there is a wealth of evidence to support an existence of God as defined in the Hebrew ( Hebrew Bible is a term that refers to the Tanakh (Jewish canon) in relation to the many Christian biblical canons. In its Latin form, Biblia Hebraica, it traditionally serves as a title for printed editions of the Masoretic Text.), and for Jesus as defined in the New Testament (and the prophecies from the Old Testament, which is of course derived from the Tanakh).

That implies several things (in my view) and one is the irrefutable and continual message that God advocates, even mandates Free Will. Right back to Adam & Eve, where God allowed the Serpent to 'con' Eve and subsequently Adam, and as a result damned the human race to pain suffering and death. If God were seeking simple sycophants that story would have come out entirely differently, God being omniscient would know about the Serpent and his part in the Garden, and would have taken steps, but he didn't. Why ? The answer is simple, and as a biological father (and a real Dad) I can fully understand. I have many times advised my kids, some of whom are fully adult with families of their own, and had to sit back and watch them make unnecessary mistakes, sometimes with horrendous consequences. However like God I have been there to help them pick up the pieces and put things back together, hoping beyond hope that they learn from the experience, and sometimes knowing that they won't.

Imagine God's feelings for his children, over the centuries as he watches people do the most horrendous things, sometimes even in the name of God, and then suffering as a result. Wouldn't it be much easier to set some unbreakable barriers in place ? but what would we then learn, how would we grow and develop, and would we simply become sycophantic effective non-entities.

God seems to me, to want us to develop and grow, and all growth is painful and often fraught, but I beleive that we learn a great deal more from our failures than we do from our successes.

Paul

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