Is Atheism True Debate - Jones v. Maundy

Is Atheism True?

Mike Jones

Rebuttal 1

First, I stated in the opening speech ('OS') that definitions of key terms are crucial to meaningful dialogue.  Brent does not voice disagreement on that point.

Second, the definition of omnipotence I provided in the OS was "Unmodified classical theism says god's omnipotence means god is capable of doing anything that is logically possible."  Again, Brent did not voice in his rebuttal any disagreement with that definition, so it is rational for me to proceed under the assumption that Maundy agrees with me that omnipotence is the ABILITY to do anything that is logically possible."

Third, Brent has chosen to cast god's omnipotence in terms of what god would or wouldn't want to do.  He says

Brent Reply 2: I reply that Mikes defense is also false because Mike assumes that God would consider the possibility as Mike has done that God would want to delay Mary’s pregnancy.

Brent says, in similar fashion, that God "...has no need to delay impregnating Mary..." and "...God would have no need to change Jesus arrival date..." (emphases mine).

Brent's comments on God not "wanting" to delay Mary's pregnancy, and finding "no need" to do so, deny bible passages like Job 42:2 and Matthew 19:26, in which god can do all things.  Certainly a change of mind is a thing, the only people who would take issue with that are apologists in a debate whose defense mechanisms are on red-alert, who recognize that trifling is their best bet for avoiding theological disaster.

The bible also contains several direct rebuttals to Dr. Maundy's overly confident assertions about the omni-max God never needing or wanting to deviate from his originally planned dates of action.

 14 So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exo 32:14 NAS)

If Maundy is correct that an omnipotent god would never need or want to relent from what god originally proposed to do, then how could the words "The Lord changed his mind" be argued to state theological truth?  Can Dr. Maundy provide reasons from the grammar and/or context of that verse for saying it is mere "anthropomorphism"?  If not, then isn't it clear that those who interpret biblical language in a certain way without basis in the grammar or context, are interpreting it that way solely to avoid having to admit the bible contradicts itself?

The story in the bible about the shadow on the sun-dial going backward follows on the heels of a yarn describing how easy it is for god to delay the date he originally planned to take someone's life

In 2nd Kings, Isaiah tells the ailing Hezekiah to "set your house in order" because Hezekiah shall die. (2Ki 20:1 NAS).  No fool says "set your house in order" meant that Hezekiah should expect his death to be delayed 15 years.  If your doctor, talking to you about your fatal illness, tells you to make sure you draw up and sign your will, what are the odds that he thinks you have at least 15 years of life left?  No odds, unless the doctor is diagnosing a desperate apologist who exploits trifles of language in ways not permitted in normal dialogue. 

So Isaiah was predicting a soon-to-be death.  The story goes on that Hezekiah prayed to god for delay in his death (v. 3), and god granted Hezekiah's request by "healing" him (v. 5) and "adding" 15 years to his life (v. 6).  The word "add" doesn't make sense if those 15 extra years had been the full lifetime of Hezekiah that god had always originally intended.  So this bible text makes clear that god not only can, but has delayed the original date he intended to do something. 

Similarly, in 1st Kings 21, god through Elijah proclaims disaster against evil Ahab personally (v. 21).  Elijah refers to the case of Jezebel who was eaten by dogs (2nd Kings 9:36-37), to illustrate the personal nature of the judgment (1st Kings 21:23, i.e., it is Ahab himself who will suffer the doom), but when Ahab repents, God's intention to judge Ahab personally is changed to god visiting iniquity on Ahab's future descendants (v. 29).  So this is another case of god delaying the day he originally planned to do something. 

Dr. Maundy may say these texts are merely anthropomorphic, but what a bible passage means, derives from the grammar and immediate context.  Indeed, those two pillar-canons of interpretation are the only objective way to validate or falsify somebody's interpretation of a bible verse.  Since there is no indication from the grammar or immediate context of these passages that they are something other than literal language about God literally changing his originally intended dates of action, we can safely disagree with any 'tradition' that holds itself above considerations of grammar and context.

Suppose you tell somebody "I am going to quit my job".  Later, the problems at work motivating you to quit, disappear.  So you don't quit.  Does that constitute your having changed your mind due to change in circumstances?  Of course, which means it is a literal change of mind.  Catholics don't like the idea of god literally changing his mind, but his choice to delay judgment in response to repentance is no less indicative of changing his mind.  Classical theists insist that anything god appears to have changed his mind on, was always conditional from the start.  But there is no hint of conditionality in the case of Hezekiah's original date of death before his prayer for extension of life. There was no conditionality on whether Amos would receive god's judgment personally, and no conditionality expressed or implied in god's stated intention in Exodus 32:10 to destroy the original followers of Moses.

On the basis of the above-cited bible verses, and on Dr. Maundy's inability to provide grammatical or contextual justification for interpreting them non-literally (i.e., anthropomorphism), the reader can be highly confident that Dr. Maundy takes his unbiblical position on God never wanting to delay his original timing for doing something,  solely because misinterpreting certain biblical language about god's omnipotence is the only method available to Dr. Maundy to escape the logic in my OP that used the biblical definition of omnipotence to show this attribute to be logically incompatible with divine infalliblel foreknowledge.

Dr. Maundy's hair-splitting also justifies the advice I gave in the beginning of the OS, namely, how strong your atheism is, should depend on what exact sort of god is being propagated to you.

Second, the definition of omnipotence I provided in the OS was "Unmodified classical theism says god's omnipotence means god is capable of doing anything that is logically possible."  Again, Brent did not voice in his rebuttal any disagreement with that definition, so it is rational for me to proceed under the assumption that Maundy agrees with me that omnipotence is the ABILITY to do anything that is logically possible."

Third, Brent has chosen to cast god's omnipotence in terms of what god would or wouldn't want to do.  He says

Brent Reply 2: I reply that Mikes defense is also false because Mike assumes that God would consider the possibility as Mike has done that God would want to delay Mary’s pregnancy.

Brent says, in similar fashion, that God "...has no need to delay impregnating Mary..." and "...God would have no need to change Jesus arrival date..." (emphases mine).

Brent's comments on God not "wanting" to delay Mary's pregnancy, and finding "no need" to do so, are irrelevant. 

Because he did not voice any objection to my definition of omnipotence as God's ability to do anything logically possible, the only question as stake at this point is whether somebody delaying having children from the date they originally planned to conceive, entails a logical contradiction.  It doesn't.  If we humans do not engage in logical contradiction when we decide to delay having children a bit longer than we originally planned, then God's delaying the conception of Jesus in Mary would not entail any logical contradiction.

In other words, if God is omnipotent, then it was indeed within his power to reschedule the date of Mary's pregnancy.  Whether god would "want" to reschedule, or whether he would ever think he "needed" to reschedule this, is irrelevant to the basic definition of omnipotence I provided, which Brent has voiced no objection to.  It is solely about what god is capable of doing, it does not talk about what god would or wouldn't do.

God's ability to reschedule, having been settled via the definition of omnipotence that Brent never voices any objection to, becomes a properly defined attribute of God, and as such, runs the risk of being logically incompatible with some other alleged property of god.  At this point, Brent's problems with omnipotence having been shown to be irrelevant, the logical syllogism I posted concerning god's infallible foreknowledge shows that God's intention to impregnate Mary on a certain date, is incapable of failing.

If God has infallible foreknowledge, he cannot reschedule his originally intended date of action.
But if God is omnipotent, he DOES have the ability to so reschedule.

The bible also contains several direct rebuttals to Dr. Maundy's overly confident assertions about the omni-max God never needing or wanting to deviate from his originally planned dates of action.

 14 So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exo 32:14 NAS)

If Maundy is correct that an omnipotent god would never need or want to relent from what god originally proposed to do, then how could the words "The Lord changed his mind" be argued to state theological truth?  Can Dr. Maundy provide reasons from the grammar and/or context of that verse for saying it is mere "anthropomorphism"?  If not, then isn't it clear that those who interpret biblical language in a certain way without basis in the grammar or context, are interpreting it that way solely to avoid having to admit the bible contradicts itself?

The story in the bible about the shadow on the sun-dial going backward follows on the heels of a yarn describing how easy it is for god to delay the date he originally planned to take someone's life

In 2nd Kings, Isaiah tells the ailing Hezekiah to "set your house in order" because Hezekiah shall die. (2Ki 20:1 NAS).  No fool says "set your house in order" meant that Hezekiah should expect his death to be delayed 15 years.  If your doctor, talking to you about your fatal illness, tells you to make sure you draw up and sign your will, what are the odds that he thinks you have at least 15 years of life left?  No odds, unless the doctor is diagnosing a desperate apologist who exploits trifles of language in ways not permitted in normal dialogue. 

So Isaiah was predicting a soon-to-be death.  The story goes on that Hezekiah prayed to god for delay in his death (v. 3), and god granted Hezekiah's request by "healing" him (v. 5) and "adding" 15 years to his life (v. 6).  The word "add" doesn't make sense if those 15 extra years had been the full lifetime of Hezekiah that god had always originally intended.  So this bible text makes clear that god not only can, but has delayed the original date he intended to do something. 

Similarly, in 1st Kings 21, god through Elijah proclaims disaster against evil Ahab personally (v. 21).  Elijah refers to the case of Jezebel who was eaten by dogs (2nd Kings 9:36-37), to illustrate the personal nature of the judgment (1st Kings 21:23, i.e., it is Ahab himself who will suffer the doom), but when Ahab repents, God's intention to judge Ahab personally is changed to god visiting iniquity on Ahab's future descendants (v. 29).  So this is another case of god delaying the day he originally planned to do something. 

Dr. Maundy may say these texts are merely anthropomorphic, but what a bible passage means, derives from the grammar and immediate context.  Indeed, those two pillar-canons of interpretation are the only objective way to validate or falsify somebody's interpretation of a bible verse.  Since there is no indication from the grammar or immediate context of these passages that they are something other than literal language about God literally changing his originally intended dates of action, we can safely disagree with any 'tradition' that holds itself above considerations of grammar and context.

Suppose you tell somebody "I am going to quit my job".  Later, the problems at work motivating you to quit, disappear.  So you don't quit.  Does that constitute your having changed your mind due to change in circumstances?  Of course, which means it is a literal change of mind.  Catholics don't like the idea of god literally changing his mind, but his choice to delay judgment in response to repentance is no less indicative of changing his mind.  Classical theists insist that anything god appears to have changed his mind on, was always conditional from the start.  But there is no hint of conditionality in the case of Hezekiah's original date of death before his prayer for extension of life. There was no conditionality on whether Amos would receive god's judgment personally, and no conditionality expressed or implied in god's stated intention in Exodus 32:10 to destroy the original followers of Moses.

On the basis of the above-cited bible verses, and on Dr. Maundy's inability to provide grammatical or contextual justification for interpreting them non-literally (i.e., anthropomorphism), the reader can be highly confident that Dr. Maundy takes the position he does in this debate solely because misinterpreting certain parts of the bible is the only way he can escape the logical contradiction outlined in my OS.  In the bible, god really does literally change his mind, yet is also states in unqualified fashion that god is omnipotent (Rev. 19:15,

[Moderator note: Jones' last sentence ends in a comma - which I left as is.]


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