May 012012
 

I have received some complaints about allowing a specific atheist commenter free-reign in my comments box.  I can appreciate the concern and the annoyance.  I am rather libertarian as far as my comment boxes go in that as long as people are not especially vulgar I pretty much don’t delete them.   Over the last almost ten years there have been few instances where I have deleted comments.

I have had occasional eruptions of atheist commenters over the years and really I don’t pay them much attention.  It does kind of amaze me that anybody who thinks that this life is all there is is going to spend so much time in my comment section.  Why they want to dialog with insane religious believers is a bit beyond me. Though I also say this being thankful that blogging was not really around when I was an atheist, thus preventing me from leaving rather inane comments on religious blogs.  I certainly disdained religious believers for being so foolish, just not sure I would argue with people who I thought had a belief system similar to belief in Leprechauns.

Though no doubt some people really enjoy such comment box battles.

And not just atheists.

Thomas L. McDonald had an excellent post on the subject of comment box atheist dialogs in which I am pretty much in alignment.  Like him they also bore me.  Not in the “I am so superior to them” boredom, but the “been there, believed that, rejected that” boredom.  When my atheist faith was slipping I tried to renew it reading what I could find on atheism in the library. Unlike those that had their Ayn Rand phase in college, my Ayn Rand phase was in my later 30’s. Though the more I read of atheist arguments to boast my beliefs, the more problematic I started to see them. They implied such a massive stupidity of religious believers that did not match what I observed of believers I respected, but could not join with. Seeing this I also started to see how my own attitudes were equally  if not more arrogant. It’s nice to think of yourself as a “freethinker” or a “bright”, less nice to realize the egoism of it. I had always been proud of my life-long atheism and never having believed in God even as a child.  But I started to find that I was not proud of my pride. Regardless, those years of renewed atheist reading and subsequent decade and a half of seeing the other side has left me rather bored with most atheist comments.

It does not though leave me bored with atheists.  While I don’t really try to engage in comment threads that develop on my blog, I do try to engage in prayer for conversion.  I don’t expect my comment engagement will convert atheists with my “brilliant” arguments even as I know the reason that underlies my faith.  I have a fondness for atheisst that comes from my long years of atheism. Thus I don’t have to impute bad motives to them and I pray that they can receive the same gift of faith that even such as I received.   I do know conversions happen.  They can even happen in comment boxes as evidenced by Jennifer Fulwiler’s conversion story.  That God can even bring good out of comment boxes amazes me.  I remember one early commenter on my blog “The Raving Atheist” who ran a popular atheist site and forum  which later became  the “Raving Theist” and dedicated his site “to Jesus Christ, now and forever.”

For my Catholic commenters who are engaging in conversations regardless how pointless they might seem, I applaud you for your patience.  For those annoyed by the comments I hope you understand my reasons for allowing them and join me in prayer.

There are many that say “Don’t feed the Troll”, now I would say “Pray for the Troll” –except I am not really that fond of the world Troll as it is another word that dehumanizes people so you can ignore them. Sure fervent commenters can be quite annoying, but most of us can be quite annoying and we are called to even love our comment box enemies by willing them good.

Cartoons modified from xkcd: Duty Calls

  37 Responses to “Don’t feed the Trolls?”

  1. Hysterical.

  2. Good atheists keep us sharp. The current generation of “New Atheists” are lame. The Church needs better atheists.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  3. Ha! Ha! Yes! Current generation! Lame!

    I think what you mean to say is that in past generation atheist kept quiet and certainly didn’t write best selling books (Mark Twain a notable exception but he always was). Furthermore thanks to the darn Internet theism can be debunked in seconds.

    As for what your church needs I think it’s more sharper lawyers than atheists because as Jesus said “Blessed is he who protects his assets and only admits guilt when there is no other choice.”

  4. Nicely put, Jeff.

  5. I have been reading this blog for sometime now but never commented. Honestly, it is perhaps my favorite Catholic blog. I love seeing what is coming up next.  

    Personally, I am also liberal on my own blog regarding comments. But I never seem to have much problems cause my audience is tiny..and this ok. 

    I have been watching this Salvage character for a while does he have a job? Is he a teenager? No matter I find him mildly amusing and entertainment-he gives me goose pimples…

    Okay thats it…see you and God Bless you! 

    Ciao-Davide M.  

  6. Sorry Jeff! Didn’t mean to cause you any problems and for what “IT” is worth, “I” do have an AQUARIUM with about 10 fish who are still living! :)

    Peace

  7. >I have been watching this Salvage character for a while does he have a job? Is he a teenager? No matter I find him mildly amusing and entertainment-he gives me goose pimples…

    It’s interesting, if I posted nothing but agreement with your opinions with the same frequency and vigour would you be questioning my work ethic or age?

    I doubt it.

    But because I’m saying your wrong there MUST be something wrong with me, some flaw you could focus on rather than point by point explaining what I’m wrong about.

    Sort of like what I do.

    But since you asked, yes I have a job, my own business in fact and I’ve been working since I was 15 and paying my own rent since I was 16 which was, I will admit, awhile ago.

    There.

    Now that we have established I am an equal or at the very least worthy feel free to focus on what I say rather than what you imagine I am.

  8. (((But since you asked, yes I have a job, my own business in fact and I’ve been working since I was 15 and paying my own rent since I was 16 which was, I will admit, awhile ago.)))

    Come on guys and gals, stop picking on Jack cause he’s old also and has had to salvage some things in his life. “IT” reminds me of when I was about sixteen and went out to work and “I” earned about $30. to $35. a week as a pin boy while in grade 8 and long story short, my parents (God Bless their souls) they let me continue working as long as I went to school each morning cause I had already passed all their expectation cause as far as they were concerned, I was the most likely in the family to succeed.

    Long story short, after going to bed at about 3 or so each morning during my last school term, I smarted UP at the end of my grade 8 school year but the alien gods, I mean society had a different opinion of what I should do and so “IT’ was too late for me.

    I pleaded but I did not get on my knees and told our principal that I could do at least a four year course but long story short, I was forced to settle for a two year occupation course cause in so many words, the alien gods incharge, I mean society, quietly told me, myself and i, that “I” was not smart enough and God (Good Old Dad) knows that me, myself and i could write a best seller about “IT” NOW cause HE LISTENED!

    Even longer story shorter folks, salvage what you can while trying to follow the teaching of “Jesus The Christ” but for peter’s sake, stop feeding the trolls! :)

    For what “IT” is worth, thank you Jeff for never having deleted any of my post.

    God Bless

  9. Thank you for this post, Jeff. Your approach is very sensible and I will treasure it.
    I do pray for salvage and for all those whose minds are now closed to God. May He allow them to breath the fresh air that comes from the realization of His presence.
    Salvage may have no idea (or a perverted one) of what I am talking about, but you are right: there is no limit to God’s love and His ultimate plans, so we should not assume that such limits exist.

  10. >I do pray for salvage and for all those whose minds are now closed to God.

    Well it’s that there is no evidence for your god, the story about it makes very little sense so I have no choice but to “close” my mind to it.

    What would you say to someone who accused you of having a closed mind to Allah? Or Zeus? Or the Jewish version of your god?

    >May He allow them to breath the fresh air that comes from the realization of His presence.

    Well your god is all powerful right? Why doesn’t he do just that? I find it odd that this omnipotent being that demands extensive worship and adoration can’t be bothered to reveal itself beyond the occasional water stain or grilled cheese.

    >Salvage may have no idea (or a perverted one) of what I am talking about,

    No I don’t and no one here seem to want to explain it.

    >but you are right: there is no limit to God’s love

    Really? But it’s going to throw me into Hell for not believing in it. That seems like a limit to me.

    > and His ultimate plans, so we should not assume that such limits exist.

    What plans? Why would a god have a plan? It snapped the universe into existence in 6 days right? It can do anything it wants so what’s the point of a plan? It can just make things happen, a plan implies that steps need to be taken and obstacles overcome, hardly something a god needs to do!

  11. @ Salvage, I was not questioning your integrity I was questioning your judgement. There is no way I could “point by point” explain what you are “wrong about”. First of all, I would have to care what your points were. Second, I am not a Catholic apologist. 

    Yes I can see that you like to point out our errors. If you like it stick with it. But I can reasonably assume you have a snow-ball’s chance in hell of having any Catholics here seriously questioning their faith because of anything you have said. I just don’t think that is probable. 

    Thank you,

    Davide 

    Ciao 

    @ Victor, Huh? 

  12. salvage,

    thank you for the opportunity to so clearly point out a few misconceptions you have.
    It seems like you are basing your ideas on some kind of non-catholic version of Christianity. In that case you should direct your objections to whoever is the source of your incorrect ideas. But since you are on a Catholic site, please notice that:

    >What would you say to someone who accused you of having a closed mind to Allah? Or Zeus? Or the Jewish version of your god?

    That I, following the Catholic teaching, am not closed to any such ideas. Read what Paul said in Athens.

    >I find it odd that this omnipotent being that demands extensive worship and adoration

    He does not demand it.

    >can’t be bothered to reveal itself beyond the occasional water stain or grilled cheese.

    He reveals himself at all times to all those who bother to genuinely ask, see and understand the evidence. The only people who cannot see it are those who do not want to.

    >No I don’t and no one here seem to want to explain it.

    How do you describe all the explanations that patient people have offered and that you reject with a curt “No, it is not”? Say that you don’t accept those explanations, that would be honest. But saying that they are not offered is untrue. Look at all the posts where you commented.

    >But it’s going to throw me into Hell for not believing in it

    No, He lets you get there, if you so wish, but He gives you every opportunity to take the other road. Big difference.

    >It snapped the universe into existence in 6 days right?

    Wrong: in one instant, popularly known as the Big Bang. Or are you unfamiliar with it? Remember, this is a Catholic site!

    >It can do anything it wants so what’s the point of a plan? It can just make things happen, a plan implies that steps need to be taken and obstacles overcome, hardly something a god needs to do!

    And that is what you are missing totally: God’s desire to SHARE his existence and to do so with people He leaves free to decide. That generates obstacles that need to be overcome, but He gives us all the means to overcome them.
    If you are missing this point, you are missing the whole point of Christianity and should revise your understanding of it before criticizing it.
    You mentioned some time ago that you have sufficient critical skills to identify myths and such. I don’t think so, since you do not even seem to exhibit the basic research skills that are behind true critical thinking. Your confusion between Catholic teaching and the many weird versions of Christianity that are out there is clear evidence of this.

    May God bless you in you ongoing search for Him.

  13. I meant “your” in the last sentence.

  14. >. There is no way I could “point by point” explain what you are “wrong about”.

    Oh. Weird, when I’m wrong about stuff people usually don’t have a problem doing that.

    > snow-ball’s chance in hell of having any Catholics here seriously questioning their faith because of anything you have said.

    Agreed and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. Theism brings comfort and makes life easier for people, I wouldn’t want to take that away from anyone.

  15. >That I, following the Catholic teaching, am not closed to any such ideas. Read what Paul said in Athens.

    I don’t care what Paul said anywhere, I am asking you. Are you unable to give opinion? Let me be more specific, why is your god real and all others not?

    > He does not demand it.

    So if you never went to church, never said a prayer, never lit a candle your god would be okay with that? What about the 10 Commandments?

    5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

    That sounds pretty demanding to me.

    >He reveals himself at all times to all those who bother to genuinely ask, see and understand the evidence. The only people who cannot see it are those who do not want to.

    So it’s my fault that your all powerful god can’t make itself known to me? Well what about the other religions? They obviously want to see a god but they don’t see yours, why is that?

    > How do you describe all the explanations that patient people have offered and that you reject with a curt “No, it is not”?

    Well that was when people were saying a fetus is a baby, there’s no other possible answer.

    Other questions I get stuff like “Go read what Paul said” or just straight up ignoring.

    >No, He lets you get there, if you so wish, but He gives you every opportunity to take the other road. Big difference.

    No, he doesn’t let anything. Either I believe in it or I go to Hell, there is no choice there. If I told you to love me otherwise I’ll torture you would that be okay? Or would you call the cops because I am some sort of crazy? If I told the judge “Hey, it was their choice!” do you think that would make me innocent?

    Your god gave me no opportunity. First of all I was raised Jewish then I got an education, then I started reading and learning about religion and came to no other possible conclusion than your religion is ancient mythology, no more real than Zeus.

    >Wrong: in one instant, popularly known as the Big Bang. Or are you unfamiliar with it? Remember, this is a Catholic site!

    Well I am familiar with the Big Bang (terrible name, it was not big and there was no bang) but I recall nothing like that in the Bible. Genesis tells a radically different story about creation.

    Why is that?

    > God’s desire to SHARE his existence

    Once again, a god does not have desires, it can have anything it wants at any time in any way so what’s the point of desire? That like planning is a human thing, it demonstrates limitations, your god doesn’t have any.

    That’s one thing that makes the Greek ones more realistic, they had limitation, they could be fooled, they could make mistakes, lose and as a result they had human emotions. Your god has no limits thus no need for anything because it already has everything.

    > He leaves free to decide.

    And if you don’t make the choice it wants, unspeakable violence.

    That’s not a choice, that’s extortion.

    > That generates obstacles that need to be overcome, but He gives us all the means to overcome them.

    And the people that don’t overcome them? What’s that about?

    >If you are missing this point, you are missing the whole point of Christianity and should revise your understanding of it before criticizing it.

    That’s my point, the point of Christianity makes no sense. Jesus makes no sense, tell me what I’ve gotten wrong here:

    Your god sacrificed itself to itself so it wouldn’t be angry at its creation for behaving exactly as it knew it was going to behave.

    This “sacrifice” took the form of a three day … coma I guess, not death because Jesus got to come back to life.

    And then he diapered in the exact same way that dead people do making the whole thing pointless.

    >You mentioned some time ago that you have sufficient critical skills to identify myths and such.

    Well it’s not a skill really, but if you like you can Google all about the myths that predate and clearly influenced the story of Jesus. Some of them are even in the Bible.

    >I don’t think so, since you do not even seem to exhibit the basic research skills that are behind true critical thinking.

    Really? Well then you should have no problems explaining the whole sacrifice thing and why it makes sense.

    >Your confusion between Catholic teaching and the many weird versions of Christianity that are out there is clear evidence of this.

    Weird versions? Huh, now that is interesting, would that be Protestants? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Mormons?

    It’s odd, your religion is of course the One True One yet there are so many versions! Why is that? From what I can tell it comes from poor communication, much of the story of Jesus and your god is open to broad interpretation. Why didn’t your god make it cut and dried as to what it expected from its creation?

    Could have avoided a lot of bloodshed.

    But hey, my critical thinking skills are apparently weak so you’ll clear this all up for me no problem.

  16. >I meant “your” in the last sentence.

    Really, my spelling grammar and the rest are atrocious, don’t worry about it, you’re clear enough.

  17. There you go again:

    >Theism brings comfort and makes life easier for people,

    It may bring comfort (though it involves a lot of the opposite), but it does not make life easier. Just ask all the martyrs or the millions who suffer for their beliefs.
    Just out of curiosity, where do you get your ideas about Christianity?

  18. Salvage,

    wow! You continue to claim things that are wrong, contradict yourself, as in the exchange here:
    \begin
    > How do you describe all the explanations that patient people have offered and that you reject with a curt “No, it is not”?

    Well that was when people were saying a fetus is a baby, there’s no other possible answer.

    Other questions I get stuff like “Go read what Paul said” or just straight up ignoring.

    >No, He lets you get there, if you so wish, but He gives you every opportunity to take the other road. Big difference.

    No, he doesn’t let anything.
    \end

    and you still trust your critical skills?

    You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it thirsty!

  19. Salvage:

    Out of curiousity, what branch of Judaism were you brought up in? Or were you in a nonobservant family?

    No malice meant in asking…just an honest inquiry.

  20. >It may bring comfort (though it involves a lot of the opposite), but it does not make life easier.

    No it does, you think there is an all powerful universe creating fountain of compassion and wisdom who share your political and cultural beliefs looking out for you. Anything bad that happens is a “test” anything good is a blessing. No one you know dies, they just go to Heaven where you will go when you die as a reward for your fidelity.

    You don’t have to think much for yourself (see the rush to quote Catechisms at me for details) and your morality is all mapped out from birth to death.

    I know theists like to act as if this is all some terrible burden but in fact you are quite pleased to be thought of as pawns in some bizarre chess game your god plays with itself / self-created adversary. Gives you instant purpose, after all your god NEEDS you.

    Oh and you also like to think that this amazing god made you and takes an interest in every little thing you do, now that is a special sort of narcissism.

    >Just ask all the martyrs or the millions who suffer for their beliefs.

    Yes, many Jews, Muslims, pagans and others did the same as do people who don’t believe in any of it.

    You do know that the Czar’s secret police tortured and killed communist rebels right? Same thing in China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. They have no gods yet they “martyred” themselves, so what does that tell you?

    Thinking that you’re suffering for a god that will reward you must certainly take the edge off. It obviously makes things like suicide bombing easier.

    >Just out of curiosity, where do you get your ideas about Christianity?

    Christians.

  21. >No, He lets you get there, if you so wish, but He gives you every opportunity to take the other road. Big difference.
    >No, he doesn’t let anything.
    \end
    >and you still trust your critical skills?

    Are you serious? You didn’t notice that my paragraph continued to support my first sentence?

    In FULL:

    “No, he doesn’t let anything. (not /end)DO YOU SEE THESE WORDS——>>> Either I believe in it or I go to Hell, there is no choice there. If I told you to love me otherwise I’ll torture you would that be okay? Or would you call the cops because I am some sort of crazy? If I told the judge “Hey, it was their choice!” do you think that would make me innocent? (actual /end)” <<>>
    Either I believe in it or I go to Hell, there is no choice there. If I told you to love me otherwise I’ll torture you would that be okay? Or would you call the cops because I am some sort of crazy? If I told the judge “Hey, it was their choice!” do you think that would make me innocent? (actual /end)” <—————-DO YOU SEE THESE WORDS?

  22. Now that is some pure theist right there. I give an answer, I explain my answer in detail and rather than challenging what I said you pretend that I said nothing!

    Or perhaps it’s not pretend, people under delusion can develop a curious sort of tunnel vision that makes them literally blind to anything that could upset it.

    Or maybe you’re just deeply silly.

    In either case why don’t you answer my points?

  23. Thank for your additional evidence in support of my points. I am sure you do not see how your words do that, but there are other people reading this, and they will get it.
    And thank you for calling us names. As you likely know, the Bible tells us to expect that and we are proud to be on the receiving end.
    I have to agree with you on one thing, though: Christians do tell and demonstrate the strangest things about Christianity. Pity!
    I hope this exchange has been useful to someone reading it. Time for me to move on to other discussions.

  24. Awesome Roberto, you lie, clumsily, and when called on it you run away.

    Words for that sort of behaviour.

    But at any rate I guess you understand that your god works like the Mafia*; either you love and pay your respects or it will break your kneecaps forever and ever.

    And apparently you think that free will.

    >And thank you for calling us names.

    Us? Ha! Ha! You really are the snivelling sort aren’t you? I called YOU names in this instance and I regret not using harsher language as you’ve made it clear you deserve it.

    >the Bible tells us to expect that and we are proud to be on the receiving end.

    Yes, the Bible also tells you to expect your god to come back, it was supposed to be like 2000 years ago but hey, any time now.

    >I have to agree with you on one thing, though: Christians do tell and demonstrate the strangest things about Christianity. Pity!

    I know! It’s crazy isn’t it? Your god leaves perfectly clear instructions… oh no, wait. It didn’t. In fact schisms appeared almost instantly and have been manifesting ever since. And now we have everything from Coptics to Mormons each claiming that THEY have the correct interpretation. Strange isn’t it? Your god being so perfect couldn’t communicate in any effective way.

    Oh well, good thing Hell is huge to jam all those not-yous in it.

    >I hope this exchange has been useful to someone reading it. Time for me to move on to other discussions.

    Yes, I too as a child would stomp off home with my ball when exposed as a wiener. Fortunately I grew up, maybe one day you will too.

    *speaking of which punch in “Mafia” and “Vatican” into Google News for a fascinating story

  25. @ Salvage are you a homosexual?

  26. @Davide.

    No.

    Why do you ask / care?

  27. What do you worship, salvage? What is your summum bonum?

  28. Well I worship nothing, a rather silly thing to do as for my “summum bonum” (confession I had to Google that) my “ultimate importance” not sure if I have one or if one is needed. Me and mine I suppose but that would be true of everyone.

  29. Comment replies need not always be for the person you are replying to. They can be for others who are reading, but silent, and “wondering”.

  30. Look, salvage, don’t expect me to get into another long conversation with you. If you can say that “only fetuses can live in wombs” after it’s proven otherwise, then you can say anything. But I will answer some of your more reasonable questions about Christianity/Catholicism.

    >>May He allow them to breath the fresh air that comes from the realization of His presence.

    >Well your god is all powerful right? Why doesn’t he do just that? I find it odd that this omnipotent being that demands extensive worship and adoration can’t be bothered to reveal itself beyond the occasional water stain or grilled cheese.

    >So if you never went to church, never said a prayer, never lit a candle your god would be okay with that? What about the 10 Commandments?

    >5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

    >That sounds pretty demanding to me.

    First of all, God doesn’t demand extensive worship. Yes, we were created to know, love and serve Him in this life, but He does not demand *extensive* worship; unless you call attending Mass on Sunday and a few other days throughout the year extensive.

    Second, I’m not sure what you mean by the water stain and grilled cheese comment. But God does reveal Himself beyond these things. If you’ll notice, the entire last book of the Bible is full of revelations given to St. John. More recent examples of God reveling Himself to us are found in Teresa of Avila and Sr. Faustina.

    The thing about these revelations is that, usually, they come as a reward after one has dedicated his life to God. Were God to reveal Himself to someone while they deny His very existence, yes they would accept Him, but they would not be able to love Him in the way that they could had they come to believe without this special revelation.

    Hmm, let’s see if I can state that in a simpler way. Picture two students taking a test. One, Pete, is working on his own, while the other, Bob, is being helped along and given answers by his teacher. In the end, both Pete and Bob get 100% on the exam. But wouldn’t you agree that there is more merit in Pete’s work than in Bob’s?

    Again picture the same two students, but now you know that they were brought up as atheists. Pete spends years studying theology, philosophy, metaphysics, history, etc. in an effort to determine whether or not God really exists. Bob, on the other hand, cares nothing about the question. Pete eventually comes to the conclusion that God does in fact exist. Bob also comes to this conclusion, not by any effort on his part, but only because God revealed it to Him in a special way.

    Which one has a greater knowledge of God and a greater love for God? Pete, who spent year after year after year searching for the truth? Or Bob, who believes only because he can’t get around what has been made blatantly obvious? Clearly Pete does. Thus, instead of one quick revelation, God helps us along in the search for Him, leading us to a greater good.

    Third, these commandments, this need for prayer, these are all for *our* benefit, not God’s. God knows our weaknesses. He knows how debased we will become if we have no guidelines to follow and no support in following them. And so He tells us what we must do in order keep on the path to eternal life. Yes He is a jealous God. He wants us to know, love and serve Him, because He knows what will happen to our wills and our minds if we don’t, if we, say, serve money instead.

    >>but you are right: there is no limit to God’s love

    >Really? But it’s going to throw me into Hell for not believing in it. That seems like a limit to me.

    Yes, there is no limit to His love. Neither is there any limit to His justice. And these two go hand-in-hand with one another. In other words, because He is all-loving, He must be all-just.

    One of the fondest memories I have of childhood is that of being firmly punished for misbehaving. Why is this such a good memory? Because this is what gave me the discipline I have today. If I had been allowed to do whatever I pleased, right or wrong, I probably would have ended up doing the same as an adult. Either that or I would have had a very difficult time restraining myself.

    And why did my parents punish me? Because they are loving and they also know that lack of discipline in childhood leads to lack of discipline in adulthood. So because they loved me, they were just to me, rewarding for the good and punishing for the bad. It is like this with God’s love and justice. The justice in no way limits the love. Rather, it enhances it.

    >What plans? Why would a god have a plan? It snapped the universe into existence in 6 days right? It can do anything it wants so what’s the point of a plan? It can just make things happen, a plan implies that steps need to be taken and obstacles overcome, hardly something a god needs to do!

    “Plan” does not necessarily imply that steps need to be taken or obstacles overcome. A plan can simply be what someone intends to do or what someone intends to happen. I can plan on typing the letter “s” three timessss. (Really “…times: s,s,s” but typing a colon, a space and two commas was not a part of my plan.) Were there any obstacles to overcome in carrying out my plan? Not that I noticed.

    What was God’s plan in creation? To show forth His goodness. What was His plan in creating man? That we know, love and serve Him and this life, and are happy with Him in the next. His plan also incorporated the free will that He gave man. He gave man the ability to choose to do something outside the good that He planed for him. This being able to choose does not go against His plan; it is a part of His plan. What was His plan in creating evil? Nothing. He did not create evil. Evil is the absence of something He created. Evil is the absence of good, just like cold is the absence of heat.

    He can do anything, so what is the point of His plan? Again, the plan is not for His benefit, but for ours. He revealed His plan so that we know what is intended, we know what is good, and we can, therefore, have some knowledge of what to do in life.

    >>>It snapped the universe into existence in 6 days right?

    >>Wrong: in one instant, popularly known as the Big Bang. Or are you unfamiliar with it? Remember, this is a Catholic site!

    >Well I am familiar with the Big Bang (terrible name, it was not big and there was no bang) but I recall nothing like that in the Bible. Genesis tells a radically different story about creation.
    Why is that?

    Yes, Moses, the coauthor of Genesis, tells the event as happening over six days. Again, this simile is for our benefit. We use the sun to measure time, and yet the sun was not created until the fourth day. So, too, time was a part of creation. God is not in any way limited by time. The creation of the universe and the conversation held on this blog are all one moment in the sight of God.

    Creation was put into days merely so that we, finite beings, might understand. We are limited by time. So, for man’s benefit, to give an account that would be systematic and orderly for our finite minds, this single act of creation was divided into days.

    >> God’s desire to SHARE his existence

    >Once again, a god does not have desires, it can have anything it wants at any time in any way so what’s the point of desire? That like planning is a human thing, it demonstrates limitations, your god doesn’t have any… Your god has no limits thus no need for anything because it already has everything.

    You are right, God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-merciful, all-just; in Himself He is not limited. But He has created finite beings and allows Himself to be limited by their limitations. Note: He *allows* Himself to be limited by *their* limitations. If He did not allow this, and instead forced all mankind to love Him, then He would be denying free will, and thus He would be contradicting Himself, an impossibility.

    Thus, He can desire. He cannot desire that He be more powerful as He is all-powerful. But in regards to His creation, He can desire. To use my previous example, He cannot force us to love Him, but He can desire that we love Him.

    >Your god gave me no opportunity.

    Each day you wake up alive is another opportunity and I’m glad to see that you are making use of this opportunity to learn about the Catholic Faith.

    And, Catholics reading this post, please correct me if anything I’ve said is wrong.

  31. Salvage trolls the internet to wreak havoc wherever he goes. That’s what atheists like him do. They have nothing better to do with their lives because after all, they believe in nothing and no one except themselves. How prideful and egotistical! May he one day meet the Lord Jesus, hopefully before he dies while mercy is available because as with all of us, he certainly will afterwards when mercy is met with justice.

  32. Note to KYian,

    You did well. Very logical.

  33. >First of all, God doesn’t demand extensive worship.

    Now you’re adding qualifiers, never a sign of a strong position.

    Extensive or whatever your god is jealous and demands worship, failure to do so invokes the harshest of penalties. Does that sound just or even sane to you?

    > If you’ll notice, the entire last book of the Bible is full of revelations given to St. John.

    Yes, the Bible is full of all kinds of crazy things but why doesn’t your god reveal itself in a way that leaves no doubt? It’s recent revelations seem to be to children hardly dependable witnesses.

    They only two possible explanations that occur to me are your god either enjoys confusion and the conflict it brings or it doesn’t exist.

    >The thing about these revelations is that, usually, they come as a reward after one has dedicated his life to God.

    Ah, so the only people who see your god are people who are already convinced of its existence.

    I guess from that your god has no interest in dealing with skeptics or perhaps there’s another explanation?

    >Were God to reveal Himself to someone while they deny His very existence, yes they would accept Him, but they would not be able to love Him in the way that they could had they come to believe without this special revelation.

    That makes no sense at all and what does your god do with love? Once again, omnipotent being, created everything, already has everything thus requires nothing.

    >But wouldn’t you agree that there is more merit in Pete’s work than in Bob’s?

    Once again, your god, all knowing, tests are to find stuff out so if you look at your god’s game of peek-a-boo with its creation as a test it makes no sense, your god already knows the outcome before it happens right?

    >Thus, instead of one quick revelation, God helps us along in the search for Him, leading us to a greater good.

    A greater good! A greater good?!!? Have you read any of the history of the Reformation? Tell me, what greater good came from the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre?

    Yes, your god revealing itself would end war and conflict and the misery that brings but your god rather we work it out ourselves because that would be a “greater good”.

    Well we are working it out by leaving theism behind. In the last 300 years religion has lost its choke hold on power in the West and things have gotten so much better. We looked for your god, found nothing, tried science and now we live longer, healthier, happier lives.

    >Third, these commandments, this need for prayer, these are all for *our* benefit, not God’s.

    Uh huh. So let’s say you have someone who never prayed a day in their life to your god what benefit would they lose?

    >God knows our weaknesses.

    Sure, it made us with them didn’t it?

    >He knows how debased we will become if we have no guidelines to follow and no support in following them.

    Then how did all those societies that worshiped gods other than yours survive?

    >And so He tells us what we must do in order keep on the path to eternal life.

    Praise it endlessly, do certain rituals and believe certain things otherwise it kills you? Once again does that seem just or sane?

    >Yes He is a jealous God.

    How can an omnipotent being be jealous? That makes no sense at all! It already has everything, what can make such a thing jealous? We get jealous because we have limits and petty emotions, does that describe your god?

    >He wants us to know, love and serve Him, because He knows what will happen to our wills and our minds if we don’t,

    If a god wants something it has it. Yes or no?

    >if we, say, serve money instead.

    Do I need to bring up the hypocrisy of the Vatican in this regard?

    >Really? But it’s going to throw me into Hell for not believing in it. That seems like a limit to me.

    >And why did my parents punish me.

    Ah yes, the god throws people into Hell to teach them a lesson, this also makes no sense.

    Let’s say a child messes up and for punishment the parents lock him up in the basement and hire a child molester to repeatedly abuse him for the rest of his life. Would you say “Wow, that’s like Bill Cosby level parenting!” or would you call the police on these monsters?

    >Were there any obstacles to overcome in carrying out my plan? Not that I noticed.

    No because you have the power to do that with ease like your god does in all things. Let’s say you’re a paraplegic and to type you need to set up some equipment to aid you? You would need a plan or a process at the very least.

    >To show forth His goodness.

    So your god is a show-off?

    > That we know, love and serve Him and this life, and are happy with Him in the next.

    A lonely insecure show-off?

    >His plan also incorporated the free will that He gave man.

    As long as we use that free will in the way it wants, otherwise we are killed / tortured forever.

    Once again, that is not free will that is extortion.

    And what an amazing coincidence that the “right” thing to do is the exact thing you do! So all the people who don’t believe in your god or in the way you believe in your god are “evil” then?

    Careful now, this was the sort of thinking that lead to inquisitions.

    > He did not create evil.

    And here we have another dichotomy that you solve via doublethink. Sorry, either your god created everything or it didn’t and evil is part of everything. You can’t have it both ways.

    >He can do anything, so what is the point of His plan? Again, the plan is not for His benefit, but for ours.

    So? It doesn’t matter what it wants it for, it’s a god, it can do anything yet you insist that it has barriers that it needs to “plan” around. Once again, if I’m all powerful I don’t make plans, things happen exactly the way I will them to.

    > He revealed His plan so that we know what is intended, we know what is good, and we can, therefore, have some knowledge of what to do in life.

    And this revelation has lead to how much conflict again? So strange, all powerful god, perfect plan yet it never seems to work.

    >>Well I am familiar with the Big Bang (terrible name, it was not big and there was no bang) but I recall nothing like that in the Bible. Genesis tells a radically different story about creation.
    Why is that?

    >Yes, Moses, the coauthor of Genesis, tells the event as happening over six days.

    Coauthor? Really? Him and your god collar berated did they? So your all-powerful god needs a mortal hand?

    >Again, this simile is for our benefit.

    No, it is not a “simile” it is a specific number. 6. 6 days. That is a hard data point, nothing poetic in it at all what more is it makes sense because a god would not use the slow accretion process that actually made the planets it would just make them exactly as it would want them.

    Once again, doublethink to deal with dichotomy between the myths you want to be true and the reality that makes it clear they are not.

    >We use the sun to measure time, and yet the sun was not created until the fourth day.

    Tell me, when did your god make the stars and why did it seem to think they are different from the sun when in fact they are the same thing. Or was that Moses’ error?

    >So, too, time was a part of creation. God is not in any way limited by time.

    Yet it needed to rest on the 7th day. Oh and why was your god using Earth’s rotation around the sun as a measurement? When the Earth a day was not a day as we know it.

    And why doesn’t the moon get its due? Without it there wouldn’t be any life on Earth at all. You should study what the moon did and does for us and then ask yourself why your god would make the Earth unlivable under the sun until it “tweaked” it with the moon? Why not just make it right the first time out?

    > The creation of the universe and the conversation held on this blog are all one moment in the sight of God.

    Yet it still uses time references, how strange and mysterious!

    >Creation was put into days merely so that we, finite beings, might understand.

    Uh I am a finite being and I understand 4.5 billion years just fine and so did people 6,000 years ago.

    Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that every myth of creation that predates yours has the cosmos made almost instantly? But those of course are all wrong and yours is exactly right, right?

    >> God’s desire to SHARE his existence
    > But He has created finite beings and allows Himself to be limited by their limitations. Note: He *allows* Himself to be limited by *their* limitations. If He did not allow this, and instead forced all mankind to love Him, then He would be denying free will, and thus He would be contradicting Himself, an impossibility.

    With all due respect this is complete gibberish. You are trying to jam the square peg into the round hole and pretending that the splinters made just means it fits.

    And why all the life that didn’t worship any gods for the vast majority of the last 3.5 billion years? Did the dinosaurs praise and worship your god? What about the bacteria and other simple life forms that sloshed about the oceans for a billion years?

    Life-forms that by the way still outnumber us and will live long after our extinction.

    Your god sure likes death or did it plan on 99% failure in terms of species?

    >Each day you wake up alive is another opportunity and I’m glad to see that you are making use of this opportunity to learn about the Catholic Faith.

    And each day I learn a bit more and understand there is just no way your god is real based on all the data around me and the fact that gods just don’t make sense in general and your really doesn’t in specific.

    I think a few examples of that have been provided here.

    Look ignore everything else I’ve babbled on about here, just you or anyone else answer this question:

    Why is your god real and all other gods not?

  34. Again, I don’t want to get into a long, pointless discussion. So, here are a few answers to a few questions.

    >Yes, the Bible is full of all kinds of crazy things but why doesn’t your god reveal itself in a way that leaves no doubt?

    I explained this already. If He were to reveal Himself in this way, we would not know, love or serve Him in the same way as we would if we put some effort into it. His partial revelations that do not wipe out all doubt are designed to guide us in our search.

    >They only two possible explanations that occur to me are your god either enjoys confusion and the conflict it brings or it doesn’t exist.

    It is not the confusion and conflict that He “enjoys,” but rather the result of this. If I am confused, I will search until I find an answer. This search is what helps me to grow in my knowledge and love for God.

    >I guess from that your god has no interest in dealing with skeptics or perhaps there’s another explanation?

    There are other ways of dealing with us than divine revelation. He is guiding you to a fuller understanding before revealing His full glory. This skepticism is helping your knowledge of God to grow. You have probably heard more about Him than many who were raised Catholic.

    >…what does your god do with love? Once again, omnipotent being, created everything, already has everything thus requires nothing.

    Yes, in Himself He requires nothing. But out of His infinite love, He created us. Our loving Him does not add anything to Him. It adds something to us. It helps us to do good.

    >>But wouldn’t you agree that there is more merit in Pete’s work than in Bob’s?

    >Once again, your god, all knowing, tests are to find stuff out so if you look at your god’s game of peek-a-boo with its creation as a test it makes no sense, your god already knows the outcome before it happens right?

    My scenario was comparing the two students to one another and the two atheists to one another. I was not trying to imply that God’s act of creation was an experiment. I’m sorry if I did not make this clear.

    >How can an omnipotent being be jealous? That makes no sense at all! It already has everything, what can make such a thing jealous? We get jealous because we have limits and petty emotions, does that describe your god?

    Again, He is not jealous for His sake, but for ours. True, He is all-powerful. But jealousy in this sense refers to His desire for our loyalty. (If you look up the word ‘jealous,’ that is one of the definitions.) Why does He desire our loyalty? Again, not for Himself, but for us; because if we are not loyal to God, who is the source of all good, then we are lacking.

    >If a god wants something it has it. Yes or no?

    No. As I said before, God allows Himself to be limited by our limitations. He gave us free will and He respects that free will.

    >Ah yes, the god throws people into Hell to teach them a lesson, this also makes no sense.

    Well, let’s see if I can help you out. Say that my sister Jean hits me and I hit her back. Say also that Jean hits my brother Joe, but he does not hit her back. Say that my dad gives Joe an ice cream cone to reward his good behavior. Would it be fair or just to Joe if instead of getting punished for my bad behavior, I get an ice cream? Of course not. Instead, my dad must, in all justice, punish me for my action. So, too, out of His infinite justice, God demands that we make reparation for our offences.

    >No because you have the power to do that with ease like your god does in all things. Let’s say you’re a paraplegic and to type you need to set up some equipment to aid you? You would need a plan or a process at the very least.

    Yes, but I think you missed my point. A plan does not *always* have to imply those steps and obstacles.

    >>To show forth His goodness.

    >So your god is a show-off?

    He shows forth His goodness because that is good. Remember how fond you are of “different things?” There is a difference between “show forth” and “show off.” Each phrase has its own connotations. You can show forth something with out having the showing off.

    >> That we know, love and serve Him and this life, and are happy with Him in the next.

    >A lonely insecure show-off?

    Again, this knowing, loving, serving and being happy with Him all are for our benefit.

    >…Sorry, either your god created everything or it didn’t and evil is part of everything. You can’t have it both ways.

    Let me reiterate. Evil is our term for the absence of good, like cold is our term for the absence of heat.

    >Once again, if I’m all powerful I don’t make plans, things happen exactly the way I will them to.

    You’d have an interesting (or not really) world of robots.

    >Tell me, when did your god make the stars and why did it seem to think they are different from the sun when in fact they are the same thing. Or was that Moses’ error?

    >And why doesn’t the moon get its due? Without it there wouldn’t be any life on Earth at all. You should study what the moon did and does for us and then ask yourself why your god would make the Earth unlivable under the sun until it “tweaked” it with the moon? Why not just make it right the first time out?

    No error: “And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.” Gen 1:16 This was all in one moment, no “first time out.”

    >Yet it still uses time references, how strange and mysterious!

    Because we are limited by time.

    Why is your god real and all other gods not?

    Ah, but I am here to help you. You say you don’t even believe in the existence of a god. How, then, could I possibly convince you that One (Who according to you doesn’t exist) out of hundreds of others (who according to you don’t exist) is the right one? And if you can’t be convinced, why waste my time? I prefer to have this part of the discussion with those who are ready to hear it.

    You’ll probably want to say that I’m running away because I don’t have an answer. But, honestly, I’d rather hear that now, that get into a long discussion about this stuff and end up at another of your “only fetuses can live in wombs” statements. Just rather not waste the time. So, I think I’m done with the conversation unless you say something bright or exceptionally dumb.

  35. >I explained this already. If He were to reveal Himself in this way, we would not know, love or serve Him

    And I’ve explained to you that your god is all powerful so revealing itself in such a way as to get people to love and serve it should not be a problem.

    So your god lets blood be shed because of the confusion it creates becuase of it need for love and servants?

    And this makes sense to you.

    > If I am confused, I will search until I find an answer.

    And other people have launched wars because of it.

    > It adds something to us. It helps us to do good.

    I don’t think you’ve read enough history of your religion because that simply is not true.

    >Again, He is not jealous for His sake, but for ours.

    That makes no sense as well.

    > True, He is all-powerful. But jealousy in this sense refers to His desire for our loyalty

    Again a desire and gods make no sense.

    >Why does He desire our loyalty? Again, not for Himself, but for us; because if we are not loyal to God, who is the source of all good, then we are lacking.

    DO I really need to go into your loyal Vatican and how much “good” it has done? Can you really not see the huge disconnect between your words here and reality?

    > No. As I said before, God allows Himself to be limited by our limitations. He gave us free will and He respects that free will.

    Again, no sense found here.

    And no, it does not respect free will, it kills / tortures anyone who exercises it in a way that it doesn’t like.

    >Ah yes, the god throws people into Hell to teach them a lesson, this also makes no sense.
    > in all justice, punish me for my action. So, too, out of His infinite justice, God demands that we make reparation for our offences.

    You are ignoring the forever and ever part of your god’s Hell. I’m all for correcting bad behaviour but that’s not what Hell is about, it’s endless punishment yes?
    Would you as a parent endlessly punish your child?

    >Yes, but I think you missed my point. A plan does not *always* have to imply those steps and obstacles.
    Yes it does. You need a plan to overcome obstacles be it getting the kids to school and yourself to the office on time, blowing up a Nazi bunker or going out on a date.

    >> You can show forth something with out having the showing off.

    Eh, you can split the hairs pretty fine but it still your god being weirdly insecure.

    >Let me reiterate. Evil is our term for the absence of good, like cold is our term for the absence of heat.

    Heat was created by your god? The circumstances in which things can be cold were created by your god?

    Everything means everything. I don’t dig holes, I removed dirt from an area but I still dug the hole.

    >You’d have an interesting (or not really) world of robots.

    Instead you have a world of terrified sheep that if they go someplace your god doesn’t like it will torture them forever and ever. At least with robots your god would finally get what it really wants.

    >No error: “And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.” Gen 1:16 This was all in one moment, no “first time out.”

    “Lesser light” you think that an accurate description if the moon? It reflects sunlight, doesn’t generate.

    He made the stars “also”? It clearly thinks the sun and stars different.

    This was clearly written by primitives based on what they could see not by a god with divine knowledge.

    Why is your god real and all other gods not?

    > You say you don’t even believe in the existence of a god.

    No, I say I don’t believe in the existence of gods, yours is just another one in a long line.

    >How, then, could I possibly convince you that One (Who according to you doesn’t exist) out of hundreds of others (who according to you don’t exist) is the right one?

    You couldn’t so what?

    >And if you can’t be convinced, why waste my time?

    Oh you’re getting set to walk away from the question aren’t you?

    >I prefer to have this part of the discussion with those who are ready to hear it.

    uh huh.

    >You’ll probably want to say that I’m running away because I don’t have an answer.

    Only because that’s exactly what you are doing.

    See there have been roughly 4,000 different gods in the past 10,000 years, probably more and that doesn’t include demigods like Jesus or Saints and the like. Now if I were to read out a list of those gods and asked you if they had ever been you would say no? Yes?

    And you would be right to do so, because gods are supernatural and that sort of thing isn’t real.

    But the minute we got to your god suddenly all the reasons not to believe in the others cease to function despite the fact that the evidence for your god is exactly the same as the others. All the stuff you’ve posted here about your god limiting itself because yada yada could apply to Zeus, Odin and the Rainbow Serpent.

    Yet you are right and the billions of believers of these other gods wrong.

    Why?

  36. @Dave P (sorry missed your question)

    >what branch of Judaism were you brought up in?

    Liberal.

    >Or were you in a nonobservant family?

    Oh no, my father was quite keen on it, had a bar mitzvah and everything. I was a believer until I was 16 and sent to Israel to for a few months and that’s when it all came crashing down. After meeting some people there, after seeing some things with my own eyes I started to see the contradictions between what I was taught and what was actually there. One question lead to another and then to another and well once that bell was rung there was no going back. So since then I’ve read all kinds of history, theology and science and came to the very sensible conclusion that there are no such things as gods.

  37. […] hmm, i guess my writing is a struggle against the curt jester. […]

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