We jumped into this conversation after I entered an atheist chat room and joined a dialogue about God and sickness. Vic, Phil, and Judy were the main participants. Vic and Phil are atheists, and Judy is supposed to be a Christian though I have my doubts based on her comments. Nevertheless, this dialogue was an attempt by me to experiment. I wanted to ask more questions than I answered and thus avoid a defense posture in an antagonistic setting. I don't know if I succeeded, but at least I gave it a try.
Too many times the Christian is left defending himself while the atheists gang up and demand explanations for difficult issues. With this dialogue I thought I'd see if I could get the atheists to explain and defend their positions by asking them to make judgments on various issues.
Vic: God cannot be good if he allows people to get sick with cancer because cancer is bad and God is supposed to be good.
Matt: So . . . why is it that God is NOT supposed to make us sick or something? I mean, why not? Maybe He has a good reason. Maybe there is a good in it. Then again, maybe this is just what the world is like with sin in it. Besides, God doesn't owe me or you anything.
Vic: God, who is our father, should not do bad things to us, such as give us cancer.
Matt: Oh . . . Exodus 4:11 is a problem for you then. It says in there that God makes the eye blind, the ear deaf, etc.
Phil: Matt, do you really think anyone here accepts that moldy text created by smelly sheep herders?
Matt: I don't know . . . is it an a priori that the texts are not reliable?
Vic: Matt, Then he is not a good God is he?
Matt: Vic, why would He not be good if He makes someone blind?
Phil: Matt, perhaps sadistic would be the right term. Matt, is it the opposite? Given the many varied versions of God, the world-spirit, etc., why would it be wise to take the Bible at face value?
Matt: The Bible is historically accurate, powerful, prophetic, etc. You aren't answering my question . . . I see God as good . . . I don't understand what He does sometimes. But it does not change His nature. He is infinitely above me and permits things to happen. I DO take some things on faith.
Vic: Matt, if I were to make you blind, by hitting you in the back of the head with a wooden board, we could all agree that I had done a bad thing, right?
Matt: You.? Yes. If it were God . . . ? Who am I to question?
Phil: Matt, that is at best a statement based on faith, and has little to do with any objective criteria.
Matt: Not true . . . I can look at the Bible and see its textual reliability, its spiritual truth, its accuracy, its prophecy, its patterns, messages, and make an intelligent decision based on it. Some things within it, I must take on faith. That is perfectly rational.
Phil: Vick: Since God is beyond any human judgment, it really doesn't matter to a Christian. God can hurt anyone he/she/it wants to, and well, that's tough.
Matt: Phil, that is correct.
Vic: Matt, then you believe everything God does is automatically good, righteous, just? That he can do no wrong? That if he hits someone in the nose, it is good thing, although if I were to do that, I would have done a bad thing?
Matt: Vic, correct. God can do no wrong. If God hit somebody in the nose, why did He do it? Was it to get his attention so he would jump out of the way of a train?
Phil: Vic, in essence, Christians are, well, sadists.
Vic: If he cannot do wrong, he is not very omnipotent then is he.
Matt: Of course He is omnipotent, but He cannot violate His nature. Your logic is flawed. Please try to think more clearly.
Phil: Vic, they enjoy the idea of an all-powerful God messing with them from time to time, so they can feel special in God's eyes.
Matt: Well, if you're going to speak of God, at least do it realistically.
Phil: Suffice it to say, there is no objective criteria for proving the validity of the Bible's claims.
Matt: Perhaps but does that mean that it is not true? or that God is not knowable? Besides, it is historically and archaeologically accurate. That is validation.
Phil: Matt, no, but it does mean that I shall suspect individuals who tell me to believe it or else.
Vic: Matt, if God gives someone cancer, and they die from it, what was the purpose of that? Or can we write that one off as another example of, God works in mysterious ways?
Phil: You must either accept or reject the Bible's claims at face value.
Matt: Vic, let me ask you, if there is a God and He encompasses the universe, is it possible that He would work in ways that are beyond us? Is that possible?
Phil: Matt, if there was a world-spirit and it encompasses the universe . . . is it possible that it would work in ways that are beyond us?
Matt: Yes . . . Vic? Well?
Vic: Matt, of course it is possible, although I would say it is unlikely. I don't see any reason why a god would not reveal all to us, and not try to hide things from us.
Matt: If it is possible, then doesn't that mean that faith is necessary and logical at this point?
Phil: Matt, No.
Matt: Phil, why not? Hypothetical situations are a tool of theory and learning.
Phil: Matt, hmm, because possibilities don't create probabilities, or certainties.
Matt: But logic is still logic and God--if He made logic--can be found in it . . . Faith becomes logical when there is enough evidence to support it.
Phil: But logic is still logic and giant pink invisible elephants, if they made logic, can be found in it . . .
Judy: Matt, you cannot prove God. If you could, then I would want nothing to do with whatever "god" you prove.
Phil: Matt, Judy is a Christian, by the way.
Judy: There you go blowing my cover again.
Phil: Or she was the last time I chatted with her. Perhaps she has given herself to the dark one these days.
Judy: No way . . . even more fundie and conservative than ever.
Phil: Good, glad to see things never change.
Matt: I don't intend to prove God . . .
Phil: Matt, you could have fooled this crowd.
Judy: Matt, what do you intend?
Matt: I am trying to learn how atheists think, so I can refute them better.
Phil: Judy, he's here to dazzle us with verbiage and interesting sentence structures.
Vic: You should be able to prove god exists. If he does, it should be entirely possible to produce a picture of him, or setup some press conference with him
Matt: I have noticed a lot of condescension among atheists when speaking to Christians.
Phil: Matt, hmm, well, it's just good-humored banter.
Judy: Ha ha. So that's why you came here with a challenge and you were attempting to prove God's existence by logic and hypothetical situations?
Matt: Judy, no . . . to see how you guys argue . . . to see your logic . . . style, insults even.
Judy: You guys?
Matt: Yeah, you seem to be siding with them. Are you going to convert to atheism?
Judy: No. You're the Christian preaching your logic.
Matt: Do you want me to preach to you?
Phil: Matt, preaching is not allowed on this channel.
Matt: Just kidding. You atheists reject a priori the miraculous. What can I provide that you would not by necessity interpret in humanistic naturalistic presuppositions. Your assumptions make it impossible for you to be objective and to accurate examine all the facts.
Phil: Matt, we could say the same of you old boy.
Matt: Phil, yes you could . . . but at least I do not rule out the miraculous . . . therefore, I am open to it. You, however, are not. Which is more "open" to truth then?
Vic: Matt, I do not, although I have yet to meet a Christian who has not rejected the claims of the miraculous by Hindus a priori.
Phil: Matt, I don't think the subject of the miraculous has been brought up. Still, I am in total agreement with Hume when he writes that the idea of proving miracles in and of itself undermines the whole worth of miracles.
Matt: Vic, please clarify. Phil, miracles simply are . . . they happen.
Phil: Matt, for you, I'm sure they do.
Matt: All knowledge cannot be ascertained by logic or experiment.
Vic: Matt, are the miraculous events witnessed by Hindus the result of Aryan Gods, or the Hebrew Gods?
Matt: They are demonic miracles. Jesus stated that the ungodly can perform miracles . . . but not by the power of God.
Vic: Matt, the Hindu gods being demons then?
Matt: Vic, yes.
Phil: Vic, Well, any other god would be a demon, or a mere human creation, apparently.
Matt: Phil. That is correct.
At this point the conversation just died--as often happens in chat rooms.
I don't know if I accomplished anything in this dialogue, but at least it is another step in the right direction of trying to find ways to answer atheists.