Abraham and Freedom

Questeruk in the “comments” section says there is no way to have a rational discussion with me since I keep “changing the rules”.

I’ve never stated there were any rules. If there were rules we could define, then quite obviously we could define God. We could eliminate all confusion, prove there is a God, and what God expects to the degree we could eliminate all competition among so-called christian religions.

If there is a set of rules, there would also be a system of algorithms, a set of decision procedures, by which we could somehow represent God. But as I stated earlier, if there are such definitions, they can be translated into language, and if translated into language, they can be programmed into a computer, such that a computer could represent all necessary rules and definitions of God.

That in itself creates a contradiction, since if we could do that, we could contain “God” in a creation of our own minds, which means that God would be less than ourselves, not to mention the fact that it would be a form of idolatry, which is condemned by the second commandment.

I pointed out earlier that William James stated, if God is all knowing, then we are not free, since God would know in advance who would accept or reject him.

We can argue this back and forth an infinity of ways, and what will be the result? Exactly what you see today, over 38,000 versions of christianity and growing. Is there such a decision procedure by which we can identify in amny special way with God?

If we could, we would not see obvious evidence to the contrary. The very attempt to supply definitions or “rules” in ANY sense, will lead to an infinity of undecidable propositions about God, in full accordance with Godel’s theorem.

All you have to do to prove me wrong is to demonstrate that there IS such a process by which we can make such definitions, which are demonstrated as truth to all.

Simple premise, simple logic. No “rules changing”, nothing as been stated in any way contradictory to the physical evidence we see around us.

What is the conclusion of this? “If any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not”.

Have I told you a “way to Christ”? No, because it is impossible. Therefore, have I told you the truth? YES! I have.

Let’s balance this with a statement by Ayn Rand, whom “Ex-Android” admires, as do I:

“Nature allows no vacuum. Empty men’s soul–and the space is yours to fill. I don’t see why you should look so shocked… this is the oldest one of all. Look back at history. Look at any great system of ethics, from the Orient up. Didn’t they all preach the sacrifice of personal joy? Under all the complications of verbiage, haven’t they all had a single leitmotif: sacrifice, renunciation, denial? Haven’t you been able to catch the theme song, ‘Give up, give up, give up, give up’?….Every system of ethics that preached sacrifice grew into a world power and ruled millions of men”.

What do religions, ALL religions, teach? That we should “give our heart and souls to the “Lord”. If you wish to serve God, we are told, you should join a church, follow the rules, sacrifice our individuality to the collective of a church.

But what about government? SAME THING.

Now, I have been accused of applying Paul’s teachings of Romans 8:29-30 as “dogmatic truth”. Let’s assume you are right, that I am asserting that statement dogmatically(which basically I would have to, in light of any proof to the opposite conclusion).

What are the results of such “dogmatic assertion”? It would mean that no human being would have the ability to define God, to organize in the name of God, or to claim authority in God’s name. Why? because if God already knows who his children are to be, there is no thing whatever we can do, by any method, to change the outcome.

So, if I accept this as a “dogmatic belief”, then I have automatically concluded that no person can ever claim authority over me as a representative of God. In other words, there exists no “vacuum”, in the words of Ayn Rand, above, by which any man can claim my allegiance because of my ignorance.

So, let’s throw out Paul’ statement in Romans 8:29-30. God doesn’t know everything. Salvation is dependent on our free will decisions, of which God cannot know the outcome. Which one of those “free will” decisions will lead us to “salvation”?

All of them? Not according to Jesus in Matthew 24. it is possible to be deceived, and we are told we should not be deceived. So, we are back to the same question again: which one of the religions of Christ are we to accept in order to escape deception?

Which one? Define it. Show me. You can’t, at least not to the extent that you can show any connection to God, or if there is a God, or if anything you do can alter your destiny in any way.

So, we’re right back to the “dogmatic belief”, regarding Romans 8:29-30, which tells us exactly the same thing we see around us by direct physical evidence!

The only difference is that Paul eliminates such necessity of choice from the start, and we have to arrive at the same conclusion by two thousand years of experience, and a scammer called HWA.

Can you define God? If you can, then God can be reduced to a concept that is defined and known by humans, making “God” the creation of man, and not the other way around.

What “rules” have I changed? What free will choice do you have that places you any closer to God by your definitions than any other religion? What can you show, in any sense at all, that would make your “free will” belief any different from the thousands of other ‘free will” beliefs?

You can’t! it can’t be done! If you can show me otherwise, we can legitimately rule the world, right here, right now!

It is said that there can be no rational discussion regarding God. Exactly! That is now proven mathematically! God cannot be reduced to any rational, finite, logical conclusion, simply because the very attempt to define God would have to include an infinity of ideas, none of which can be established as truth!

There is no rational discussion of God. It does not exist,

cannot exist, and any attempt to do so will result in exactly what we see today: over 38,000 versions of “truth”.

Therefore, what Ayn rand said, what Jesus said, what Paul said, all boil down to the very same conclusion: if any man says to you “here is Christ(or God) or there, BELIEVE IT NOT”.

It is just that simple! It cannot be any simpler! So, how does this relate to government in regard to central banking systems and laws of men, as James pointed out in “comments”?

Both church and state, religion and government, are the collective creations of men, nothing more, nothing less. Ayn Rand calls them “Attila and the Witch Doctor” and the bible refers to them as the “beast and false prophet”. Is there truly any difference in these two terms? Attila was a power hungry government “beast”. A “false prophet” is nothing more than a ‘witch doctor’ who tries to convince us that we need to obey, obey, obey.

What did Ayn Rand say? Don’t follow them. What did Jesus say? Don’t follow them. What did Paul say? It does no good to follow them, since God already knows his children anyway. No choice can alter your destiny in that regard(Romans 9:16-22).

All of them amount to the same conclusions! What is that conclusion? You are free from all men or persons who would try to enslave you for any collective reason.

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"Converting" Others

I read a very good book many years ago, published in 1979, I think. It won the Pulitzer prize, and it was concerned with Godel’s theorem, entitled “Godel, Escher, Bach”.

I had to read it several times before I grasped the basic ideas, But the author, Douglas Hofstadter, also wrote a book a bit simpler, called “I Am A Strange Loop”. A pretty good read.

In “Godel, Escher, Bach”, Hofstadter would introduce his ideas with a conversation, in Lewis Carrol fashion, between Achilles and the Tortoise. The conversations were based loosely around Zeno’s paradox.

At one point, Achilles was trying to use logic to convince the Tortoise that Achilles’ conclusions simply could not be denied if the tortoise accepted logic as the ultimate arbiter of truth.

The Tortoise, like most humans, said that he was very reasonable, and would never accept a conclusion that was illogical. Achilles just knew the argument as won.

Achilles began, “If I show that A is true, and B follows from A, then we must also conclude that C is also true as a conclusion following from the premises of A and B”.

“Of course” said the Tortoise, “It’s obvious that this should be the case”.

“Then you agree?”

“In principle”.

“What do you mean, ‘In principle’?”

“I mean that if A is true, and B is true, the we would conclude that C s true as a premise following from A and B”.

“That’s what I said”

“Yes” said the Tortoise, “But if A is true, and B is true, and C follows logically as a premise resulting from A and B, then we would conclude that this is summed up in premise D”.

“What?”

“You see, if A, B, and C are true, we would establish this as premise D, which simply states the fact of the truth of A,B,and C”.

“Okay” said Achilles, “I’ll accept that. But then surely you must accept D as the final statement of truth”.

“Not at all” said the Tortoise, “If D is the statement of truth summing up A,B.and C, then certainly we would establish this as a subset of premise E, which states that if A,B, C, and D are true, then E”.

Achilles smelled a rat. “But surely there would be a stopping point. Let’s say that Z is the statement that sums up the truth of A through Y. Surely you then have to accept that Z is the truth?”

“Of course” said Tortoise, “But then we would also have to say that A1 is the statement that demonstrates the truth of A through Z, and then A2, A3, A4, until we finally arrive at the ultimate truth”.

“Which is?”

“I don’t know. How many numbers are there?”

“Infinite numbers. So if I say that infinity sums up the truth of all previous statements, we can stop there?”

“I suppose, but where does infinity stop?”

What occurred was that both Achilles and Tortoise were discussing a kind of “schematic” of truth. not the truth in terms of each statement itself, but in terms of statements that represented truth or statements about truth, as each one saw it.

This is my point in talking “about” truth. We can develop processes of organization, mechanical representations of ‘truth’, but in fact, the arguments can proceed into infinity. The system of mathematics simply cannot define truth in any limited fashion. It can go on forever….

That is the essence of Godel’s theorem. In order to find out if truth could be represented in mathematics, Godel had to develop a system in which the system of math actually referred back to itself. To do this, he had to develop a “Godel number” system in which the axioms of math( plus, minus, division, multiplication, etc) were represented as numbers themselves, so that the system was “self referencing”.

What Godel demonstrated b this was that a system of complex mathematics would produce a statement which said of itself, “I exist, but I cannot be proven within this system”.

From “outside” the system, the person could see if it was true, but the system itself simply had nothing to say about it! it was undecidable, therefore making the system incomplete.

The result was “in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory, there exists undecidable propositions”.

This same process may also be admitted by looking at Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 8:7. When the human mind looks inside itself for truth, “self references”, it will come up with an infinity of possibilities as to what is true, especially in regard to God!

If we seek to organize truth about God in the form of rules and laws, that organization will have to reflect the limitations of our own minds. It will reflect also the incompleteness of our mathematical systems and our systems of logic as well.

We can’t get “there” from “here”.

That’s why, if we seek to “convert” others to a certain truth, that truth will ultimately split into an infinity of different ideas and concepts! No human mind can represent God in a complete sense, and that’s what both Paul and Jesus tells us.

Did Abraham Have "Free Will"?

Good arguments about free will and omniscience building.

When God “tested” Abraham, did he know for sure what Abraham would do?(Assuming, of course, that there was an Abraham, or God).

How about Genesis 15? God allegedly put Abraham to sleep and pointed out: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their’s, and shall serve them. And they shall afflict them four hundred years”.

This was a guarantee of something that would happen to Abraham’s children BEFORE Isaac was even born. assuming the story was true, therefore, we are forced to logically conclude that it would occur as prophesied regardless of what choice Abraham made regarding the sacrifice of Isaac on the alter.

Of course you can argue that “God is this, God is that, or god is the other…” but the fact given is this: Abraham’s descendants were to be enslaved four hundred years. Of course, this assumes that any of it ever happened, but if you’re going to argue “God” from a biblical perspective, you’re sort of stuck with what you’re given.

Of course, we can take it as a lesson similar to conclusions of Talmudic scholars: God was showing Abraham that sacrifice would not be the way of obedience or “proof testing” of faithfulness. In fact, the chief “sin” or blasphemy against God is the sacrifice of children at “Tophet“, which is to be a great place of burning.

Now, you can argue on this a million different ways, but from what we read above, we would have to conclude that whether Abraham sacrificed Isaac or not, Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in Israel four hundred years.

And while we’re arguing it, does God create evil? How about Isaiah 45:7? Or Amos 3:6?

Does “free will” mean freedom from God’s foreknowledge? From every definition available, from a purely physical view, “free will” is simply the ability to choose as we believe. There is no evidence for anything greater. Freedom is the absence of absolute knowledge.

If you want to try and define God, you will end up exactly with the situation we see today: over 38,000 estimated versions of christianity, none of which can prove the authority of their beliefs, and therefore, as Jesus said in Matthew 24;23, no reason to follow any of them.

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Omniscience

I got a great question in the “comments” section. Is it a problem, humanity being free, and God not being all knowing? After all, we do seem to see evidence in numerous place in which God is not all knowing.

In fact, the fundamental premise of christianity is that God does not know whether we will “accept” him or ‘reject” him. But that is where we immediately run into a problem, not only with Paul’s teaching, but with those teachings attributed to Jesus, as in Matthew 13:11. Whatever “it” was that the people of Israel were supposed to know, “it” was not given. Paul says pretty much the same thing in Romans 11:7.

The flaw in christianity that stares us in the face is that if it is necessary to “choose Christ”, there should be something we can choose and know for a fact that we have chosen correctly, yet Jesus(or somebody) gives us the ONE obvious and truthful answer: follow none of them?

Why? Simply because we have no logical reasonable, rational criteria by which we can choose. Any attempt to do so, based on the condition of human ignorance, would only produce increasing chaos and confusion, and we are told that God is not the author of confusion.

If you believe in confusion, therefore, you don;t believe in God. But by the same token(for the atheist’s benefit), if you believe in truth, you cannot believe in confusion, since truth must be consistent with all truth. Therefore, if you believe in “God” and “truth” as a basis of anything worth believing in, you would have to assume that one is basically the same as the other.

EXCEPT for one big problem: Paul says the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God’s laws. Jesus himself(allegedly) refers to truth in that same sense when he speaks of the “spirit of truth” in John 14:17: “Even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive…”

Truth is not “received”, nor is it a ‘given”. We see this indicated in Matthew 7:14. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”.

Notice, it didn’t say “choose it”. It said “find it”.

How would one know when they have found truth? They would know when they realized that other humans can no more tap into the truth in any absolute sense than they, the individual, can.
That is exactly consistent with the quote I gave of Ayn Rand in my other post.

Are we free from God? First, is there even a God? How do we possibly define God? What process of choices can we assume that leads us to God? We simply don’t know. But we CAN test the limits of the knowledge of man! We know now mathematically that it is simply impossible to contain all truth in one single package, and any attempt to organize truth will only lead to an infinity of undecidable propositions!

Look at “christianity” around you today. What do you see? Over 38,000 versions estimated within christianity, and who knows how many religious ideas outside of christianity.

Is the natural mind, therefore, subject to God? Every scrap of physical evidence says no! Romans 8:7, therefore, must have been correct, and if that was correct, then so must Romans 9:16-22 be correct. We simply have no process of choice as to the “one true way” to God!

Like the punchline of the old joke says, you can’t get there from here!

So, in what context are you free? It means you’re free from men(or women) who try to tell you “this way to God!”. As “Ex-Android” pointed out, “belief is not akin to truth”. However, if I get an idea that something is true, then I must believe that if I pursue it, it can be proven one way or another. I may not know it to be true, but I can believe it to be true and seek to prove it or disprove it. Or to put it in more scientific terms, in order to prove something, it must be falsifiable. If it can be proven true, you must also have the ability to prove it false.

Can I prove there is a God? No. Can I prove there is not a God? No. In order to prove either conclusion, I must have some way of showing the possibility of a belief being false, and we simply do not have that kind of knowledge.

Consequently, we must prove what is true in terms of physical evidence. If “God” is shown to be inconsistent with physical evidence, then we must reject “God” to the extent we can show inconsistency. But keep in mind that in absolute terms of “infinity”, there is no way to demonstrate the consistency of our thinking from within that system itself!

What odes it mean? Again, it means we can’t get from “here” to “truth” in any ABSOLUTE SENSE, nor can we get from “here” to “God” as an absolute representation of truth!

Therefore, our freedom, whether atheist or “christian”, must consist of being free from ALL authority structures of men! 1 Cor 7:23: “..be ye not the servants of men”.

1Cor 9:19: “For though I be free from all men…”

2 Peter 2:19: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage”.

The RSV says “he is ENSLAVED”. So what did Jesus say? “If any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not”(Matthew 24;23).

The atheist and the TRUE christian find unity in that statement. If you would follow truth, you cannot follow men, and that definitely includes religions of men(and they ALL are religions of men or women). If you would be free, you must learn to think for yourselves!

proselytizing? See what Jesus said about the dominant religious leaders of his day: “For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more a child of hell than yourselves(Matt.23:15)”.

As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, the truth is like a two edged sword. It cuts collectivism both ways. The statements in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, cuts collectivism both in terms of christianity AND in terms of the collectivism of atheism. There is no “us” and “them”, because no person can have a monopoly on truth.

“ye shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. You can’t have two “truths”. Truth is consistent with all truth.

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"Ex-Android" Speaks!

Here is another response from my email correspondent. I will try to remember to put all his remarks in bold:

Look, Ralph, as long as you insist on playing the game of keeping me on the defensive, then there is no way we can have a civil discussion.

Oh, and of course I’m not to be bothered at all when the first thing I read from you is that I subject you to “preaching” at the rate of two entries a day? Is there a rule for atheists that they are so superior they can just insult anybody and expect that person to say “Oh, I’m sorry! I apologize deeply for even having an opinion, much less actually believing I can prove my statements!”

That is aside from your confused, contradictory thinking, bluster, bravado, and childish language.

See? Not one word examining what I’ve said, just more ad hominem about what I said.

Here is the core of my argument, and no one yet has even thought to even mention it: there is no decision procedure whatever by which any person can get from “here” to “God”.

A simple premise. A simple statement.

I’ll admit that my present technical inability to make my posts isn’t helping to advocate my case.

I agree. It would save me trouble of trying to actually get your discussion involved. But at least I’ve tried.

I suggest with all your learning you might pursue a course of how to communicate.

Probably true. But I generally don’t like intimidation or bluster unless somebody decides he or she wants to insult me right out of the gate. I’m an ex-marine. I once defended myself in a Special Court Martial, which I not only won, but received an apology from the marines and a meritorious promotion out of a court martial. I don’t know many people that have ever done that. Apparently they had no trouble understanding me.

Do all you True Believers take the same course on how to confuse, intimidate, and embarrass your opponent without half trying?

I must have, and I must have made a good grade on it, because I seem to be able to do it to you without trying at all! I do love your scientific evaluation of me as an individual as well, “Al you True believers”. Nothing insulting about that, obviously. What right should I have to ever be offended at your statements?

Maybe it’s a gift from one of your gods. Could be. I have no way of knowing. Do you?

I would also suggest you read a bit on what is atheism. It’s clear you don’t understand it any more now than the rest of the religions I’ve engaged over the years.

Let’s see, I’ve read Christopher Hitchens‘ “God Is Not Great”, and Dawkins‘ “The God Delusion”, both of which I found very good. As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, but atheists say there is no God. Correct? Have you ever heard me stating that there is a God? Have you ever heard me offering any kind of proof that there is a God?

But you see, there is the great flaw in your entire argument. The only way you can possibly begin to beat me is to conclude that I’m a “True Believer” and lump me into a general category that cannot possibly ever go beyond what you amazing atheists know. See? I’ve just lumped you into a group. That’s ad hominem, and it proves nothing one way or another.

To fault the atheist because he is unable to prove there is no god shows your ignorance and confused thinking on the matter.

Are you saying you CAN prove there is no God? Then simply state your case, prove there is no God, and I will still win this argument! Let’s look at the core of my argument from the point of view of William James. James pointed out that if God is all knowing, then we are not free,since God would already know in advance what choices we will make. If we are free, God is not all knowing, and if God is all knowing, we are not free.

You and I can argue until cows start roosting in trees whether there is or is not a God, bit the fact is, neither of us can ever offer conclusive proof. The only thing we can possibly agree on is what we can see as results from actual observation. Here is my observation:

If there is a God, it would be useless to believe in a God who is not all knowing, since a less than omniscient God would simply be greater by comparison, merely a smarter being, though never complete in knowledge.

Paul has argued from his understanding of God that God is indeed all knowing in regard to whom his “children” are, and that he has predestined them from the very beginning. This will logically lead to the result William James pointed out, above. If God is all knowing, then there is not one choice we can make in any sense that will alter our destiny in that regard.

Okay, let’s substitute that with your statement there is no God. We can come up with this conclusion: There is not one choice we can make in any sense that will alter our destiny in that regard….in any possibly measurable context.

To me, those conclusions are exactly the same, except the atheist says there is no measurable way in which any decision we make can alter our destiny in any absolute sense. In fact, if God does exist, and IS all knowing, there is STILL no way to alter our destiny in any measurable way, in any absolute sense. Either way, based on what Paul said in Romans 8:29-30, there is no difference in the outcome, EXCEPT Paul says there is a God, and you say there’s not a god. But the results in either case will be exactly the same.

This means, in the simplest language I’m able to convey, there exists no decision procedure, no algorithm, no human process of thought by which we can in any way, get from “here” to “God”.
Are you saying there is some way we CAN get from here to god? That would seem to contradict your point of view, wouldn’t it?

Paul stated in Romans 8:7 that the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God. As I’ve said in several different places, this will have two logical, verifiable results:
1.No one can claim any authority from God, since no human mind can be subject to God
2. Any attempt to do so will result in a splintering and speciation of religions tending toward infinity, AS WEE SEE AROUND US TODAY.

No one yet, least of all you, Mr. Ex-Android, has even begun to touch that statement. You know why? You have no argument against it. It’s true because its observably true, and it conforms to the logic of Romans 8:7, showing the resulting logic of Romans 9:16-22.

What is confusing about that? If you cannot be subject to God, any choice y

ou make regarding the knowledge of God will reflect the confusion apparent in your own thinking. Therefore, you will see over 38,000 versions of “god” as you see today. Since the natural mind cannot be subject to God, there can exist no decision procedure by which you can get to God, which is exactly what Paul said in Romans 9:16-22.

Why is that confusing? Maybe because you’ve been conditioned all your life to believe that IF we believe in God, we MUST follow some decision procedure to please God?

Besides, the matter of proof falls to the believer, and you’ve already clearly stated to your credit that you cannot do that.

Well, finally, you actually point to something I specifically said!

I would suggest you try reading an excellent primer, ‘Atheism: The case Against God’ by George Smith. That was a major aid in helping set me free from the gods. The book has clarity and absence from confusion.

P.S. If you want to quote me in the forum then do it completely and fairly and respond honestly. Sign me ‘Ex-Android’.


In your responses so far, all I’ve seen is ad hominem, writing about what I said, but never in any disciplined, or even scientific way of pointing out any flaw in my logic. I’ve responded as honestly as I know how, and if I left anything out in previous posts, let me know, and I will respond to that as well.

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