Christianity from the Outside In

The following is a talk I recently gave at a Christian conference here in Canada. It was my last year as coordinator, and I wanted to share both encouragement and, of course, thinky things.

Or click here to listen.

The summary:

Christianity predicts that most will not be Christians. Yet the Bible says that only believers will go to heaven. Does this mean Christianity preaches a God who wants to commit genocide against most of the world by denying most souls eternal life?

This is something I’ve struggled with in very personal and painful ways. The talk explores the balance between a God who calls to His created ones, and a human heart which chooses.

The conference was themed around the question, “What’s your philosophy of life?” Our keynote speaker was Dr. Stewart Kelly of Minot State University, a former student of Dr. Alvin Plantinga. You can click here to go to the full day’s audio at the conference site.

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16 comments

        1. Ah, fair enough. I asked because you’ve merely reiterated a common fallacy about Christian theist frameworks of divine-human interaction, and it came off rather knee-jerk. If you ever care to make an exception to your personal policy, I’d invite you to take the time to listen to the audio track.

          1. Ok, but maybe you can explain how God killing everybody but Noah and his family was ok? Or is the only way I can find out is to listen to the audio track? I hate listening to these things, because it’s disruptive when I’m in a reading mode. I can understand if it adds something uniquely auditory. Does it? BTW, your response to my comment comes off as, forgive me, knee-jerk. Of course, It’s possible we’re just not meant to communicate, and I’m fine with that.

          2. Ok, but maybe you can take the time to listen to the explanation I’ve already posted, so you’re not borrowing on my free time to serve your foible about audio files. It’s a courtesy point I’m making here, you see?

            Feel free to engage any of the points I’ve made in the presentation, once you’ve taken the time to listen to the explanations already given. That’s basic politeness in dialogue. Or feel free not to, if you don’t really want to engage the topic. Either way is fine by me, but I don’t give time that’s already given just to meet someone’s arbitrary media preferences. Life’s too busy.

          3. Ok, then, I listened. All I heard was that God made us to worship him, and if we don’t, too bad for us. An argument designed for those who already believe they’re garbage. Not satisfactory. You may believe you’re “damaged,’ or “fallen,” but I don’t. I don’t believe any of it, and that’s why your argument is flawed, because it presumes the validity of the thing you’re trying to prove, that there is a God such as the one you believe in. Even so, you’re proposition that it might possibly have been more merciful to kill just Adam and Eve, and start over, beggars credulity. Once again, you’re assuming it’s ok for God to kill as many or as few people as pleases him, in order to get a few who properly grovel. Such a God is neither just nor merciful;, by any rational definition of those words. Mysterious ways, indeed.

          4. “I don’t believe any of it, and that’s why your argument is flawed”

            Snort. That’s a hilarious excuse for a logical predicate, Mikels, with all due respect. Glad to know your opinions and beliefs are the absolute standard — there’s the conclusion to the discussion right there.

            Come back again sometime when you’re ready to not waste my time, my friend. If you’d like to actually discuss the validity of the premise that humanity is good (or evil), that would be a genuine discussion. Bombast about the matter gets no traction around here. Ante up or fold. :)

          5. Well, I’m sure you feel you’ve reprimanded a wayward child. All the bombast, insults, and condescension have been on your side,. as well as complete misrepresentation of what I said. No use trying to talk to someone like you. Good luck, and have a nice life, if you can.

          6. I’m not here to reprimand, but I feel no shame at stating my honest reaction to a deplorable pseudo-argument, nor staking out the boundaries under which I will engage. I’m utterly tired of both anti-Christians and raving fundamentalists popping up here for nothing more than to rant out their opinions.

            I do appreciate that you took the time to listen to the audio file, and I regret not saying so in my last comment. But I have over the last many years blogging here lost patience with people’s venting at the expense of my time and enjoyment of blogging.

            There are atheist and skeptic forums for those who want only to complain about the unfairness and illogic of Christianity. This blog is for actual examination of philosophical positions. I’m sorry you’d rather complain about my reaction than actually engage the topic of good and evil, but once again, neither I nor my free time are under obligation to you.

            A nice life to you also. That’s a wish I have no problem sharing with anyone.

          7. You can be the winner if you like. I didn’t listen well enough to your sermon? You also didn’t read well enough my comments, and seem to have no interest in doing so. My point that I don’t believe as you do is relevant because all your arguments presume the existence of not just God, but God as you see him. The fact remains that there is no way to reconcile a God who kills entire populations, and condemns them to an eternity of unimaginable anguish, with justice or mercy. Your response that it’s his game, and he gets to is no response at all. If you really want to have polite discussion, I suggest you begin by not demeaning an honest observation as “knee-jerk.” But I see that you’re more interested in scoring points. How tedious.

          8. You’ve been offered the chance to establish a constructive alternate basis for discussion in considering the goodness (or evil) of humanity. You’ve ignored the offer of a more useful skeptic/Christian bridge in favour of complaining that a speech made to Christians isn’t designed like a speech made by a Christian to skeptics, and flinging harsh words and negative assumptions.

            I’ve stated in the OP that the topic is both painful and personal to me. Yet you’ve waltzed in here as if I owe it to you to give you a platform for your opinions, or to discuss this with you at all, and then gratuitously insulted my motivations for choosing not to bend to that. Thanks for so effectively supporting my views on humanity (it’s always nice to have one’s faith strengthened), but I’ll have to decline any points or winning, as we’re clearly not in the same game.

    1. Hi, Lizzie. I strongly encourage commenters here to share a sentence or two in greeting, not just links, for the sake of fostering a friendly community. Hope to see you around here again in future.

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