I've become increasingly frustrated with people's insistence that words can mean whatever they want them to mean, and whatever is convenient for them to mean. Words are meant for one thing: communication. Once everyone personalizes words and definitions, we lose that ability. If "to you" a chair is what the rest of us consider a table, you're going to lose us when you start telling about setting the chair for dinner.

Even more frustrating is when people, or Bibles, make absolute claims about their deity. If you tell me your god is perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, and all-loving, I fully expect him to live up to the literal implications of those words... and because you tell me they are absolutely true.

If "God" is omnipresent, he is everywhere. Yes, everywhere. You cannot rationalize away the horror of Hell by claiming it's merely the place where "God's" present has vacated the premises. Yes, it's hard to imagine than a merciful and all-loving god would create a place like Hell, so instead of facing the reality that he may not be those things, a new definition of omnipresent is constructed. Somehow "omnipresent" can actually exclude one very special place in the cosmos: Hell. God is everywhere... except there. But that's not really omnipresent, is it? Apparently, to some, it is... but the word has lost its meaning altogether.

If "God" is perfect, then his creation should be perfect... yes, even when given free-will. I think when we simply blurt out that everything "God" made is perfect, we forget what that implies. Humans would have perfectly understood that remaining in "God's" grace would be the best choice; that "rebelling" would only hurt them. They would have perfectly trusted "God", and perfectly behaved. Threats would have been unnecessary because they would have been able to perfectly think-through disobeying and the consequences. The only way our free-will would have tripped us up is if we did not have perfect understanding... and apparently, we didn't. We hadn't yet had a bite of the fruit of Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, without that essential knowledge, we were not "perfect", and to insist we were--despite a clear lack of perfect motives, thought-processes, and critical thinking--undermines the meaning of the word.

So, we've established that "God" is not literally everywhere, and did not literally create a perfect universe (because, even if people were the only thing wrong, that one blemish means the whole is not perfect). What other absolutes does "God" fail to live up to?

Well, he's not all-powerful. And do you know why? Because nothing can be all-powerful. There's the so-called omnipotence paradox: "Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it?" Some Christians scoff at this paradox, but the reality is that it's very telling. This is actually just one simple thing an allegedly all-powerful god cannot do, and that actually does invalidate the claim he can do anything he wants. He can't. This paradox may sound silly and childish, but it's true... and makes the idea of all-powerfulness silly and childish. And I'm sure we could think of many other paradoxes that "God" could not overcome. If even "God" cannot crawl into the definition of "all-powerful" or "omnipotent", why use such useless words? It would serve theists much better if they just said that their god was "very powerful" or even "the most powerful". But they don't.

Also, an all-knowing, all-loving, and merciful god would probably forgo creating humankind altogether, rather than insist that the bloody drama on this planet play out to the bitter end. If we're now admitting "God" is not all-powerful, but trying to make the case that he's at least merciful, the fact we exist at all speaks against that idea. Sometimes, we mercifully put suffering creatures out of their misery. If we knew their existence would only be one, long, unending sequence of horror (even with a couple good days), we might just decide not to bring them into existence at all. Even if you make the argument that there's Heaven after death to look forward to, we all know not everyone makes it in (and so, we're not really all loved, either). A god who knows our fate, but chooses to let us suffer through it, is not merciful or loving in any meaningful or remotely literal way. A merciful, loving god could not possibly know what might happen were he to create us.

Just about every absolute claim made about "God", absolutely fails. Why bother speaking in absolutes if there are so many damn exceptions, rationalizations, and excuses? The fact that there are so many apologist apologizing for the failings and failure of their god to clearly communicate, speaks volumes.

Words have specific meaning so they can convey specific ideas. If your god does not live up to the literal definition of his supposed characteristics, stop singing his praises. You've been conned.

My worldview does not suffer from glaring inconsistencies or contradictions. I do not need apologists to explain away flaws in my logic. If someone points out a real problem, I can alter my opinion to reflect reality rather than concocting elaborate dance routines to remain at my preformed conclusion. It's not about insisting I'm right, but actually finding the truth. Sure, sometimes it's elusive, but I want truth... and I need words to have meaning. Communication is important. If what you mean by "perfect" is not what I mean by "perfect", we've failed. 

Views: 545

Tags: absolutes, words

Comment by Yahweh on November 22, 2012 at 1:49am

Here's the thing about the "good book"...You get to pick and choose which parts are literal and which parts means something else..

Comment by James Cox on November 22, 2012 at 4:22am

I thought the word 'gullible' ment that: " a person, standing at the beach, with no hat of head cover, was fair game for a gull attack". Which then could feed into another definition: "a person is 'gullible', if they do not wear a hat or have very strange icky things fall on them'. Or another: " a person is 'gullible' if they do not have the sense to prevent icky things from falling on them".

A theist could be considered 'gullible' if they, " cannot prevent icky things from falling them, because they believe ideas that disturb rational thought".

Sadly, I occasionally do not, " prevent icky things from falling on me", during the course of Thanksgiving dinner preparation. This can include the simple act of cooking! LOL   

 

Comment by Maya Komrik on November 22, 2012 at 5:33am

" If someone points out a real problem, I can alter my opinion to reflect reality rather than concocting elaborate dance routines to remain at my preformed conclusion. It's not about insisting I'm right, but actually finding the truth. Sure, sometimes it's elusive, but I want truth... and I need words to have meaning. Communication is important. If what you mean by "perfect" is not what I mean by "perfect", we've failed."

Well said.

Comment by Unseen on November 22, 2012 at 8:44am

@Yahweh Here's the thing about the "good book"...You get to pick and choose which parts are literal and which parts means something else..

Unless you're a biblical fundamentalist literalist, in which case everything in The Holy Bible is literally true.

Comment by _Robert_ on November 22, 2012 at 9:02am

There is a certain disposition for many people to be "followers". I blame our evolution. Early humans in Africa used to simply follow their prey animals to death to gain nourishment. Certainly there were rebels and thinkers, but followers were instrumental. Even religious "leaders" are really just followers. Fortunately, thinkers (aka the seculars) although few in numbers have had a disproportionate impact on society and have been elevating us as a species since the dark ages.

Comment by M.B. on November 22, 2012 at 10:29am

Semantics seems to be the last resort of theist to defend their already debunked nonsense. I know how frustrating can get to try to get people to follow what they say, since once one exposes their nonsense, they automatically change it around saying it was somehow me who got it wrong.

Comment by CJoe on November 22, 2012 at 11:07am

@Unseen but do even Biblical fundamentalist literalists believe every single story and take every command literally? I don't see a lot of people stoning their disobedient children, for one. I mean, even when literalists use the word "literal", they don't mean it literally!!!

Comment by CJoe on November 22, 2012 at 11:10am

@RobertPiana that's probably the most encouraging thing I've heard. I've focused for so long on the fact that intellectual types throughout the ages have often been singled out and either crucified or exiled, I forget to see how far and wide their influence has been despite their persecution. As a whole, we've gone kicking and screaming into a more progressive society, but here we are anyway. It's not perfect, but I for one have no interest in going back even 100 years.

Comment by Unseen on November 22, 2012 at 12:19pm

@Cara Colleen

They claim every word should be taken literally, but like most people (theists and atheists alike) they have the choice of not doing what the Bible says (=sinning).

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on November 22, 2012 at 1:40pm

Hey I get a chance to post this again!  How literal is it to be taken? Enjoy.

Laura Schlesinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. She recently said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

 

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