Showing posts from November, 2013

Reviewing Randal Rauser’s “The Swedish Atheist…” Chapter 22

Chapter 2 2: What Hath a Most Perfect Being to Do with a Most Horrendous Hell? If we were to answer the question proposed in the title, it would simply be: nothing. A perfect being would have no use for a hell. Sheridan begins this chapter by sharing about his past. His parents were divorced, and when his biological dad died, his step dad (an Evangelical Christian) said that Sheridan’s real father had died and gone to Hell. Sheridan wants to know what Randal’s thoughts are on the subject, and Randal mentions,  “[T]hat’s an area that I’ve wrestled with for a long time.” Sheridan asks: “Do you think a God who is, as you say, the most perfect being would really damn some of his creatures to hell forever?” Randal begins by stating that most Christians tend to avoid the problem. Randal says the fire-and-brimstone sermons are of a bygone time, incompatible with today’s suburban Jesus, and notes “Most churches dropped the topic of hell years ago.” When Sherida

Reviewing Randal Rauser’s “The Swedish Atheist…” Chapter 21

Chapter 21: Would a Most Perfect Being Command Genocide? Come to think of it, in the previous chapter Randal never addressed whether or not a Perfect being would require worship. Although it wasn’t his intention to address this point, it seems a viable question to ask, as a Perfect being technically couldn’t be considered perfect if it required worship from its followers, as the Christian God clearly requires. This in itself is a defeater to Randal’s presumption that the Christian God fits the definition of a perfect being. Sheridan then quizzes Randal on whether or not a perfect God could command genocide, as Yahweh did when he ordered the death of all Amalekites, including hapless innocent children. Randal reassures us he is sympathetic to the point, and goes on to say: “Look, I’m not here to defend the ‘home team.’ I’m only trying to pursue the truth as best I can, just like you. There’s a lot of great stuff in apologetics these days on lots of topics like intel

Reviewing Randal Rauser's "The Swedish Atheist..." Chapter 20

Chapter 20: Would a Most Perfect Being Have a Most Imperfect Church? We begin with a continuation of comparing the Christian concept of God with the Greek concept of Zeus. Granted, Zeus has more in common with Jesus than Jehovah, but Randal is playing a little sleight of hand trick here. Instead of holding up like religious concepts he’s reaching for the polar opposites and then saying that one of these fits his preconceived definition. What are the odds that Randal’s concept of God will fit the exact definition he selected for it? Odd are probably in his favor. This prompts Randal to affirm: “[W]hile Zeus was created by other gods, Christians and Jews always taught that Yahweh is the creator of all things…. The difference between various concepts of God is important for eliminating certain descriptions of the most perfect being.” Remember my objection to this method of assigning templates to your chosen God concept and then holding them up to your chosen defini

Reviewing Randal Rauser's "The Swedish Atheist..." Chapter 19

Chapter 19: Why Zeus, at Least, Isn’t God Getting back into the thick of it, Randal begins this brief chapter with restating every assumption he can think of, affirming: “The existence of the contingent universe is enough to show us that invoking God as an explanation is not arbitrary. Thus, being a theist does not oblige one to adopt an indefensibly complex, arbitrary view of the world. Further, reflection on the intuitively compelling definition of God as most perfect being shows that it is possible that God exist, then God must exist.” So Randal has asserted, once again, that God is the explanation for why there is something rather than nothing, and that God is the most perfect being. As we saw in the chapter before, he bases such assertions off his intuition. Intuition, which the psychologist Daniel Kahneman showed to be highly unreliable. Sheridan then objects that the philosophical description of God doesn’t take us all the way to the God of the Bible, and as

Reviewing Randal Rauser's "The Swedish Atheist" Chapter 18

Chapter 18: From Personal Cause to Most Perfect Being As I continue to look at Randal Rauser’s The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails, the more I feel that I should have done an overall review of the book rather than a chapter by chapter summary review. The problem is, the book is already running long, and instead of making clear points, Randal often confuses the reader by quickly changing topics, going off on tangents, coming back to other topics, and often forgetting to follow up on other so-called rabbit trails he went down, but then stopped cold for some reason. Overall, this makes the book rather difficult to take in. Not because it contains big ideas, but because these big ideas are not presented clearly. As such, this is not a book I could recommend anyone. Don't worry, if you give up on this book after only a few chapters, it's not your fault. That said, let’s get this show on the road. Chapter 18 begins with Randal