Monday, January 18, 2016

Milbank vs Law: Blood on the Carpet

Theologian Prof John Milbank and I exchange blows on God here. http://iainews.iai.tv/…/law-vs-milbank-belief-and-the-gods-…
We do not hold our punches.

Parts 3 and 4 will be up shortly but if you can't wait here is my response to Milbank's reply now (ie part 3):


Thanks to John Milbank for responding to my opening piece on God and science. I initially suggested many God beliefs are empirically - and even scientifically - refutable in the sense that we might establish beyond reasonable doubt, on the basis of observation, that the belief is false. I gave three examples: belief there's a God that answers petitionary prayer; belief that there's a God who created the world 6,000 years ago; and belief there's a God that's omnipotent and omni-malevolent. I then suggested that, for similar reasons, we can reasonably rule out a god that's omnipotent and omni-benevolent.

John rejects that last suggestion and defends the view that his particular omnipotent, omni-benevolent God is indeed off-limits to any sort of empirical or scientific refutation. So what is his counter-argument?

Continues here.

24 comments:

Geoff H. said...

Curiously, a belief in an all-good God requires the presence of evil. Evil is the foundation stone of theism, since theism derives from an attempt to make the evils of life more tolerable. A belief in God and prayers to God as a last resort are a defense against the despair of being overwhelmed by evils. An intellectual attack on the belief in all-good, all-powerful God in the partly evil world He created, while revealing its contradictions, will rarely succeed, because it involves attacking feeling with thinking. But, however acute the thinking, feeling eludes its precisions because it needs to sustain, at any cost, a defense against life’s evils. If theism answers a thinking attack with a defective thinking defense, it doesn't matter much to it, since the sphere of feeling remains untouched.

Geoff H. said...

Feelings that refuse to listen to reason often designate themselves as “faith”, insulating themselves from attack by claiming to belong to a realm superior to “mere thinking.” Admittedly, faith then encumbers itself with contradictions but it is content not to explore their consequences and sets them aside as “mysteries”. For many it is more comfortable to cling to illogical beliefs that protect them against directly facing the evils of the world than to discard those beliefs and find themselves alone in a difficult world without the consolations of an all-powerful ally, however fanciful those consolations may be.

Anonymous said...

One argument often trotted out by atheists is "If God is good, and all the world's evils are the result of sin, why did God create Adam and Eve who could sin (as did their progeny)? Doesn't this make God culpable for evil?" This is particularly troublesome for Christianity, because Genesis 1:31 says God's creation was "very good".

In response to this argument, it may be worth pointing out that the Bible does NOT say God (i.e., the Most High) created Adam and Eve. This may come as a shock to many, but it is just another example of Christians reading the Bible through the lens of tradition.

There are TWO creation accounts in Genesis, beginning at 1:1 and 2:4 -

http://biblehub.com/genesis/1.htm
http://biblehub.com/genesis/2.htm

In the first account, it states that God created 'humankind' (no mention of Adam and Eve). So why do most people assume these were Adam and Eve? Because a) the SECOND account mentioned Adam and Eve, b) tradition and c) The Hebrew word for 'humankind' is 'adam' (Strong's Hebrew 120). In the first account, the word translated 'God' is 'elohim' (the Hebrew generic word for 'god' or 'gods').

In the second account, the popular translations state that "Lord God formed A MAN [Adam] from the dust of the ground [later followed by Eve]" (Genesis 2:7). The phrase translated 'Lord God' is 'Yahweh Elohim'; literally 'the god Yahweh', where 'Yahweh' is simply a proper name. It was Jewish tradition to write 'Lord' instead of 'Yahweh' to avoid profaning the 'sacred name', and most translators followed suit.

Notice the contrast between the two accounts. In the first account God (elohim) created 'ex nihilo', by His Word alone. He simply said "Let there be ..." and it was. In the second account, 'Lord God' (Yahweh Elohim, 'the god Yahweh') had to 'form' Adam (and the animals) from something else, 'the dust of the ground'. Clearly, the second account describes an inferior mode of 'creation'. Do the two accounts refer to the same God, and the same creation? If so, why does the name, and mode of creation, differ between the two? By the way, there's no mention of how much time elapsed between the two accounts (so much for Young Earth creationism, which starts the clock at Adam).

Anonymous said...

If one reads the Bible in the original Hebrew, the picture that emerges is of an (attempted) appropriation of the position and identity of the Most High (El Elyon) by an inferior being (Yahweh) who is a member of a council of 'gods' under El Elyon. This is briefly explained here:

https://youtu.be/CVEsA6gYy9s
https://youtu.be/QAtFqHEcGs0
https://youtu.be/eQedPYerKXg

This scenario of usurpation is attested to by scholars such as Christine Hayes, Professor of Religious Studies at Yale; although she interprets it as the Canaanites abandoning their pre-Exodus pantheon of gods (which included a god named El), in favor of the monotheistic worship of Yahweh:

https://youtu.be/2plwd27OvQ8?t=31m14s

However, Prof Hayes fails to mention that although El was the name of the chief Canaanite god, it evolved into a generic Hebrew term for 'god' (The plural for 'el' is 'elohim', demonstrating that in the Hebrew Bible, 'el' is a generic term and no longer a name). The difference between El and 'el' is analogous to the difference between Adam (a proper name) and 'adam' (the Hebrew word for 'humankind'). So an alternative interpretation is that the Israelites were not abandoning the Canaanite god El in favor of Yahweh, but rather were abandoning el elyon (the 'most high god', a title rather than a name) in favor of a lesser being called Yahweh.

This apparent 'war' between El and Yahweh runs through the entire Bible, including the New Testament (the New Testament authors knew nothing about pre-Exodus Canaanite religion). For example, In Hebrews 6:20 in the New Testament, Jesus is declared "a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Melchizedek was the last High Priest who served El Elyon:

Genesis 14:18 "And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest of El Elyon (God Most High)."

After Melchizedek, Yahweh appointed Aaron and his descendants as High Priests to serve him, but Jesus was not a descendant of Aaron. Rabbinical sources (these aren't Christians!) claim that Melchizedek was actually Seth (third son of Adam). Jesus is a descendant of Seth (obviously, on his mother's side). So Jesus continues as High Priest of El Elyon "forever" on behalf of Israel, having paid the ransom to free them from their covenant with Yahweh.

Anonymous said...

The 'two creations' account outlined above raises a question: Who did Jesus die for?

In the 'two creations' model, there are potentially three kinds of 'people' on Earth. The first sort are the pre-Adamites created by Elohim in Genesis 1. Pre-Adamites do not sin or die (because both sin and death are imperfections, and Elohim NEVER creates anything imperfect). Since they never sin, pre-Adamites don't need to be saved. Because they don't die, we never find pre-Adamite fossils. ALL FOSSILS are of Yahweh's creatures that died (Genesis 2 was not necessarily his first go at 'creation'). The history of 'evolution', with its dead ends and monstrosities, records Yahweh's failed attempts to create beings to match Elohim's.

The second group of 'people' are the Adamites, who are the pure-bred descendants of Adam and Eve. Adamites both sin and die, because they were created by Yahweh and everything he makes goes wrong, falls apart and turns to ... dust (to put it politely). These are the 'tares' of Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43:

"[Jesus] answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed [the pre-Adamites] is the Son of Man [Jesus-Elohim]. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares [the Adamites] are the sons of the wicked one [You-Know-Who]. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age." (Matthew 13:37-40)

Obviously, Jesus didn't die for the Adamites, primarily because they were not created "in God's image" ("b'tzelem Elohim" in Hebrew, "in the image of Elohim", Genesis 1:26). They were created by and for Yahweh. They belong to him, and will follow him to his ultimate end.

The third category is probably the largest. These are the Hybrids, of Adamites and pre-Adamites. As one would expect, the descendants of Adam soon married outside the fold, thereby corrupting the pre-Adamite race. When Hybrids 'die', only their physical bodies (created by Jahweh) die. The Hybrids continue to live in spiritual bodies:

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead [Hybrids]. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a SPIRITUAL body." 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44

There's just one problem. Elohim is perfectly just, and justice demands that since the Hybrids have sinned, they should pay the penalty, which turns out to be death (Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23). But Hybrids can't die (shedding their 'natural' bodies doesn't count). So in order to meet His own standard of justice, Jesus Himself becomes a Hybrid and dies on their behalf. He lay (totally) dead for three days, thereby fulfilling the penalty.

"Since the children [Hybrids] have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his DEATH he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make ATONEMENT for the sins of the people." [Hebrews 2: 14-17]







Anonymous said...

I should have included, under the category of 'Adamites', the prototype hominids that Yahweh might have created before Adam and Eve. These sin and die too, and will go the way of the Adamites. To avoid confusion, I should probably revise the terminology:

'Pre-Adamites'= 'Elohim's hominids'
'Adamites' = 'Yahweh's hominids' (pre or post-Adam)
'Hybrids' = 'Hybrids'

Anonymous said...

The 'two creations' account overturns the standard model of human evolution, which assumes that Humankind progresses technologically from primitive to more advanced. The 'two creations' model suggests that it's more of a U-shaped trajectory, from advanced (the pre-Adamites) to primitive (Adamites and Hybrids) to somewhat advanced (Hybrids, with pre-Adamite help? After all, Pre-Adamites don't die, so they must be living somewhere). That possibility, that there were ancient pre-Adamite civilizations more advanced than ours, would explain this:

https://youtu.be/-jf5goxK41A

Anonymous said...

On the basis of the 'two creations' model (as explained in my comments above), we can now address Stephen Law's specific argument against the existence of God, namely the Problem of Evil. Why did Elohim allow Yahweh to (temporarily) wreck a perfect Creation?

'Elohim' is a collective term for the 'divine council' of beings that, according to the Bible, constitute the Godhead (Psalm 82:1, 82:6, Job 1:6, 2:1):

"God [elohim] has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [elohim] he holds judgment ..." [Psalm 82:1]

"I [elohim] said, “You are gods [elohim], sons of the Most High, all of you ..." [Psalm 82:6]

This divine council is the 'us' of Genesis 1:26:

"Then God [elohim] said, “Let US make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness ... [Genesis 1:26]

Yahweh was a member of the divine council, until he decided to conspire with some other members to rebel against the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-15, Psalm 82:1-8, Revelation 12:9):

"How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly [the place of the divine council], on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon [the name of that place]. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

"God [elohim] has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [elohim] he holds judgment: "How long will you [plural] judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? ..." (Psalm 82:1-2)

"And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Revelation 12:9)

Some may argue that if God is morally perfect, and God is the divine council, then how could a member of the council be evil? This objection illustrates the Fallacy of Composition, that a property of a whole necessarily also applies to its parts. The fact that the divine council is perfectly good when it acts collectively (as 'God' with a capital 'G') does not entail that all of its members are good when acting individually (as 'gods' with a small 'g').

[continued below]

Anonymous said...

[continued from above]

Since Yahweh is a 'god', he is immortal and cannot be destroyed. As a 'god', he presumably enjoys some freedom of action, such that he cannot be physically restrained. Furthermore, the divine council is restricted by its own moral goodness; it cannot do harm. Hence Jesus's instruction to his disciples in Matthew 5:38-42, that they "resist not evil [with violence]" and "turn the other cheek" (as Jesus Himself did). The only exception to the 'do no harm' injunction is possibly the Principle of Double Effect, where there is a FORCED choice between a greater and a lesser evil, and action is taken in favor of the lesser evil.

As a result of the divine council's own moral code, and Yahweh's divine attributes, the council's actions against Yahweh's evildoing are limited to mitigating harm without causing equal or greater harm. The only other thing the council can do is wait for Yahweh's handiwork to collapse under the weight of its own flaws, by which he ends up in a Hell of his own making (which he refuses to leave, out of pride). The Bible makes it clear in Matthew 25:41 that Hell is "for the Devil and his angels". The only other inmates are 'the Beast' and 'the False Prophet' of Revelation 20:10, both of whom are Yahweh incarnate. The only others who enter Hell are all the Adamites, but being physical and not spiritual creatures, they are utterly destroyed in the process. For the references on Hell as (largely) annihilation, see https://youtu.be/oHUPpmbTOV4.

To sum up, once we've grasped the collective nature of the divine assembly, and understood the Fallacy of Composition, then we can comprehend how it is possible for a part of the assembly to be evil when acting alone, yet for the assembly as a whole to be perfectly good (for example, Apple can be a good company despite having some bad employees). The same Principle applies to the assembly's Creation, which is wholly good, despite containing evils committed by individual members of that assembly.

Clearly, there is a lesson to be drawn from all this, pertaining to "the knowledge of good and evil" mentioned in Genesis 2. The Hybrids are destined to be "co-heirs with Christ," which suggests that they will become members of the divine council, given that Jesus is now "at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:3, Hebrews 1:3, and several other verses). The most valuable lesson for any newcomer to the divine council is "Do not EVER EVER try to do this 'god' thing without us. You'll screw it up REALLY bad."

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be too confident that the Hybrids are the largest group. If 'Adamites' includes hominids created by Yahweh before Adam, then their pure-bred descendants are probably still with us in large numbers, judging by the rotten state of much of the 'human' race. The Apostle Paul talked about "a remnant chosen by grace" (Romans 11:5). Jesus said "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14). A 'remnant' is a minority.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple 'solution' to the problem of evil, but it may not be very comforting to someone who's suffering. It is possible to live years at a time in a dream. Once you wake up, you'll assume that whatever events you dreamed of (good or bad) didn't happen. You'll just pick up where you left off when you fell asleep. If your waking life is idyllic, than presumably there would be no 'problem of evil' in that life. You might not even remember the dream for long, as we typically forget our dreams soon after waking.

This 'dream scenario' may be found in some strands of Buddhist and Hindu thought, where each incarnation is a dream in an infinite series, until the dreamer 'wakes up' once and for all, by realizing the true nature of reality. Along these lines, some may argue that the problem of evil is, paradoxically, its own solution. As we meditate on the problem, and eliminate unsatisfactory proposed solutions, we finally arrive at the conclusion that a good God cannot co-exist with evil.

At this juncture, there are only two options. Either evil exists and God doesn't, or vice-versa. Those who choose the latter option believe they are 'lucid dreamers' (people who know they are dreaming, while dreaming) believing that they will wake up one day to the ideal life they were living all along. This raises an interesting question. Do 'lucid dreamers' have a different attitude to this world, and in particular to evil and suffering? This theme runs through the movie 'Matrix', where the hero is empowered by his knowledge that he lives in a Matrix, and is eventually able to use that knowledge to affect the Matrix itself (in the same way that some lucid dreamers claim to self-consciously shape their dreams).

There's another interesting question: why do we assume that events in dreams never happened, and is this belief universal across all cultures/eras? It would be interesting to study the 'language game' of dreams and work out why experiences between falling asleep and waking up are so readily dismissed as 'not real'. Why would we jump so confidently to that conclusion, when the nature of 'reality' is supposedly mysterious and puzzling (at least to philosophers and even scientists)?

Since dreams and waking life are indistinguishable by experiential quality alone, the difference seems to lie in the fact that dreams are discontinuities in a consistent waking experience. So the 'reality' of an experience has less to do with experiential quality, and more with how the experience fits (or doesn't fit, in this case) into the larger 'background' narrative? If so, what makes us so sure we're not dreaming now?

Anonymous said...

With reference to the dream hypothesis above, one particular scenario is illustrated by an under-rated movie called 'The Game', starring Michael Douglas. Here's the trailer:

https://youtu.be/0kqQNBR09Rc

Here's a review by the late great Roger Ebert. He gave it a rare 3.5 stars (out of 4).

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-game-1997

You can click the 'watch now' link in the review to buy the movie in your preferred format.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I just noticed that in the trailer above for 'The Game', Van Orton's birthday, which kicks everything off, is given as October 12 (I clipped it below):

https://youtu.be/0kqQNBR09Rc?t=21s

On a hunch, I looked up October 12 in the Jewish Calendar. It's Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) 2016. BTW, the date changes every year.

https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=yom+kippur+2016

Ordinarily, that would just be a quirky coincidence. However, about a week ago, I dreamed that a voice said to me, "I'll pick you up on 11th of June." I've never had a 'prophetic dream' before (if that was one). I looked that up in the Jewish calendar (I have a habit of doing that when a date 'feels' significant). It's Shavuot (Pentecost) 2016, when the firstfruit of the wheat harvest is gathered up and offered to God (Exodus 34:22).

Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but GATHER THE WHEAT INTO MY BARN."

Matthew 13:37 "He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one."

There's a possibility that there will be two Raptures or 'snatching away' of the saved in the End Times. The first would be the 'firstfruits' mentioned in Revelation 14:4, followed by the rest of the saved in Rev 14:15-16 after the Tribulation (you don't want to go through the Tribulation), followed finally by the Wrath of God in Rev 14:17-19 (note the chronology of events in that chapter):

http://biblehub.com/bsb/revelation/14.htm

In Rev 14:17-19 The Wrath of God is identified with the grape harvest, which takes place in the period of approx two months between Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur.

To cut a long story short, this could be it, folks; last call for the Jesus train.

Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."

https://youtu.be/msC8HkU3dpI?t=38s

NB: I did study the Jewish feast days about a year ago, so it's possible that my subconscious picked up the date of Shavuot for 2016 (although I hadn't paid much attention to Shavuot in my study, because most commentators believe the feast's prophetic role was entirely fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2). However, it's extremely unlikely that I remembered Van Orton's birthday was October 12, because the only time I watched that movie was about 10 years ago. Is it worth betting that I'm wrong?

Anonymous said...

BTW, I forgot to mention that the Jewish Shavuot and the Christian Pentecost are on different dates. Shavuot was the original date of Pentecost:

https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=shavuot+2016

This 1-minute video gives a very brief account of the Feasts and their prophetic significance. I disagree with its claim that the Feast of Trumpets marks the exact date of the main Rapture, because Jesus said he would return at a time we do not expect (http://biblehub.com/luke/12-40.htm). However, I don't know if the 'unexpected timing' condition applies to any earlier rapture of the Firstfruits as described in my previous comment.

https://youtu.be/CCEBnyIMlgc?t=24s

Anonymous said...

Another variation on the dream solution to the problem of evil is the 'false memory' solution. We don't actually experience anything in the present, because the present has no extension in time. All our 'experiences' are essentially memories, and therefore subject to construction by the mind, under the influence of a number of variables. So our experience of suffering is actually the memory of past suffering.

That puts a question mark on whether any suffering actually occurred, and whether we might harbor subconscious motives for constructing our memories in a certain, negative, way. We know that our memories are at least partly constructed:

https://youtu.be/72dhjGWB0gg

An evolutionary cognitive scientist might propose that negative memories aid evolutionary fitness, since a creature with positive memories is less likely to be motivated to seek greener pastures. Hence, our brains may have evolved to construct negative memories and erase positive ones. A theologian might argue that constructing false negative memories gives us an excuse to not believe in the existence of a good God.

I've always been intrigued by the experience of this neuroscientist, who had a stroke in which part of her brain shut down:

https://youtu.be/UyyjU8fzEYU?t=1m50s

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience as the neuroscientist with the stroke (milder, and minus the visual stuff) some years ago. Cause unknown, but it coincided with an inner ear infection, and lasted for six weeks (during which, I was able to go about my business as usual). Apart from the euphoria, I felt what she described as being "light in the body", literally like I'd lost 80% of my body weight (possibly due to an impaired inner ear). 100% anxiety-free, never felt that before or since (and I had plenty to be worried about at the time).

The other thing was what she described as a feeling of gratitude, to no one in particular. The hilarious part was I kept watching this cheesy Swedish YouTube music video over and over again (couldn't understand a word, but the tone and atmosphere seemed to resonate with how I felt at the time!):

https://youtu.be/TTsPD6ljLPY

Anonymous said...

Re: the 'false memory' hypothesis, here's a shocking study in which a psychologist was able to convince over 70% of subjects that they had committed a crime in the past that they never committed, and even get them to recount their 'memory' of the crime. These subjects weren't exactly highly motivated to confabulate these false memories (quite the opposite). Imagine what a very motivated person could come up with.

https://youtu.be/NfPLTtlo2oY

Anonymous said...

The neuroscientist who had the stroke raised an issue that has profound philosophical implications. At the beginning of the talk, she explained that the human brain is physically and functionally split in two, with the two halves connected by a small piece of tissue called the corpus callosum. The right half functions in a non-linear fashion, taking in all sense-data and processing it as a whole. It operates like a parallel processor, and is focused on 'the now'. The left half functions like a linear processor, reasoning step-wise, and thus concerned with organization and temporal order. Damage to this half coincided with the neuroscientist's atypical experience.

The philosophical issue is, which half of the brain produces the more veridical experience? The left half, which is focused on the immediate experience of 'the now', or the right half, which constructs memories based on priorities we know very little about? Some may say 'both', but that answer would have to account for memories that are both constructed and partly confabulatory. One could, of course, define 'veridical' in terms of the coherence theory of truth (thus allowing for some 'construction'). But that is somewhat shaky ground, because where do you draw the line between construction and confabulation?

Anonymous said...

BTW, for those interested in the contrast between Yahweh and Jesus (and why the former is probably not the latter's 'Father'), this book chapter gives more details. It basically juxtaposes Bible verses describing the attributes of Yahweh and Jesus, and highlights the contrast between them (I find the rest of the book too liberal in its exegesis, but this chapter pretty much lets the Bible speak for itself). Rev 12:9 calls Satan "that old serpent ... which deceiveth the whole world." You can't deceive 'the whole world' without deceiving most of its 1.5 billion orthodox Christians. It's also worth mentioning that Jesus said "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14.9), and St. Paul described Jesus as "the image [lit. 'mirror-like representation'] of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). So one cannot attribute the contrast between Jesus and Yahweh to an incomplete revelation of the latter by the former.

http://vigilantcitizen.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=2795

Anonymous said...

A further contrast worth mentioning, Pentecost traditionally commemorates both the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit by Jesus's apostles in the New Testament. On the first occasion, 3,000 Israelite sinners were killed on Yahweh's orders. On the second occasion, precisely 3,000 sinners were saved by the apostles.

http://forums.swordsearcher.com/threads/3000-died-3000-saved-amazing-grace.1009/

Anonymous said...

The theory of the Divine Council (as outline above, in the comments of March 7, 2016) offers a solution to the problem of God's omniscience; namely that He presumably has knowledge of both good and evil, but how could a good being have knowledge of evil? If 'God' is the Divine Council acting as a corporate person, then it is possible for the knowledge of evil to be 'compartmentalized' in the evil members of the Council. In that manner, the knowledge of evil is contained in 'God', but by virtue of the Fallacy of Composition, God is not thereby evil.

For example, the knowledge of dishonesty may be part of a corporation because some of its employees are dishonest, but the corporation itself is not dishonest (if, by virtue of institutionalized checks, it does not allow the dishonesty of its employees to taint the final product). In a similar way, the Divine Council is able to redirect the evil intentions of its bad members to serve an ultimately good purpose ("all's well that ends well", as they say). Our judgement that evil outcomes exist are based on contingent observations that are subject to revision in the light of further evidence, however compelling the current evidence may appear (having said that, the existence of evil intentions is undeniable, one merely has to search one's own conscience).

This is where many Satanists have gone wrong, because they believe that 'God' refers to an individual person. On that basis, they assume that the Problem of Evil and the Problem of Omniscience are irreconcilable with the existence of a good God, and therefore God must somehow be both 'good' and 'evil', where both are of equal status (this was essentially the logic of Nietzsche's aptly titled 'Beyond Good and Evil'). This is the god that the Satanists worship; who is, of course, evil (though he sometimes uses a simulacrum of 'goodness' to further his evil ends).

The Divine Council solution is particularly relevant to Theistic Idealism, which proposes that the universe is essentially God thinking. On the standard view, because the universe undeniably contains evil intentions (at the very least, mine), theistic Idealism runs straight into the Problem of Omniscience. By describing the Godhead as something like a corporate body rather than an individual, the Divine Council theory offers a way around the Problem via the Fallacy of Composition. For scientific arguments for and against Idealism, see:

For: https://youtu.be/4C5pq7W5yRM
Against: https://youtu.be/dvf_dXDfTGs

For the biblical evidence for the Divine Council paradigm, see:

https://youtu.be/5-O5QfT6N1s (highly recommended, more about and by Dr. Heiser on his website http://drmsh.com/)

Of course, I disagree with Dr. Heiser about the supremacy of Yahweh, for a whole bunch of biblical reasons (see my comments above for some). I believe the Supreme Being is the Father of Jesus, and there are reasons to think that Jesus's Father is the Divine Council itself, acting as a corporate person (of which Yahweh was a mere member, and not a good one). Traditionally, the Heavenly Father is assumed to be the Head of the Council. This is not a problem as long as it is understood that the Head of the Council acts through a corporate body made up of beings with free will (as explained in the video above), in something like the way the Pope acts 'ex cathedra' through the institution of 'the Papacy' (unlike the Pope, however, God does not have a separate life as an ordinary bloke. As such, the Council is integral to who God is).

Anonymous said...

For clarity, that last sentence above should read " ... the Council (acting as a corporate person) is integral to who God is." God is not a solitary being; you can't love all by yourself, and God is Love (1 Jn 4:8).

Anonymous said...

Heiser then goes on to make the sound argument that the Most High will eventually reclaim the nations back to direct stewardship under Himself. This is reflected in Psalm 82, where the Most High (translated 'God') berates the 'sons of God' (translated 'gods') for their bad stewardship of the nations:

God presides in the great assembly [the Divine Council];
he renders judgment among the 'gods':
2 “How long will you [plural] defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are 'gods';
you are all sons of the Most High.
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.

Verse 8 supports Heiser's view that the Most High will eventually take back the nations from the 'sons of God', who will be destroyed. But note that in the original Hebrew, 'God' is 'Elohim', not 'Yahweh'. It is 'Elohim' that will take back the nations. The same 'Elohim' that created the Earth in Genesis 1:1 will take it back from the wayward 'gods' of Psalm 82. Yahweh is not named in this passage, though based on Deut 32:8-9, he may well be one of those 'gods' who is to be destroyed.

The bottom line is, if Yahweh is 'the Most High', why does the Bible not use 'Yahweh' exclusively when referring to God? Why does it make a distinction between 'Elohim' (meaning 'God', 'god' or 'gods', depending on context), 'Elyon' (the 'Most High') and 'Yahweh'?

Furthermore, why do most popular translations render 'Yahweh' (incorrectly) as 'the Lord', or its equivalent in other languages? For fear of profaning the 'sacred name' of Yahweh, Temple-era Israelites were forbidden to utter "Yahweh" and would say "The Lord" instead. the Septuagint Greek translation took this further by translating 'Yahweh' as 'the Lord' in the text, and later translations followed suit. since at least the 19th Century, few Christians feel quesy about uttering 'Yahweh' or the Latin 'Jehovah', yet virtually all the popular English translations continue the practice of rendering it as 'the Lord', even when they were scrupulous about translating the rest of the text literally. For example, compare the popular English translations of Deut 32:9: http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/32-9.htm

It's worth asking why this practice is so prevalent today, when it is clearly contrary to good standards of Bible translation (where the text and not tradition, especially not a defunct one, should dictate the process).

Anonymous said...

Continued from above:

Heiser then goes on to make the sound argument that the Most High will eventually reclaim the nations back to direct stewardship under Himself. This is reflected in Psalm 82, where the Most High (translated 'God') berates the 'sons of God' (translated 'gods') for their bad stewardship of the nations:

God presides in the great assembly [the Divine Council];
he renders judgment among the 'gods':
2 “How long will you [plural] defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are 'gods';
you are all sons of the Most High.
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.

Verse 8 supports Heiser's view that the Most High will eventually take back the nations from the 'sons of God', who will be destroyed. But note that in the original Hebrew, 'God' is 'Elohim', not 'Yahweh'. It is 'Elohim' that will take back the nations. The same 'Elohim' that created the Earth in Genesis 1:1 will take it back from the wayward 'gods' of Psalm 82. Yahweh is not named in this passage, though based on Deut 32:8-9, he may well be one of those 'gods' who is to be destroyed.

The bottom line is, if Yahweh is 'the Most High', why does the Bible not use 'Yahweh' exclusively when referring to God? Why does it make a distinction between 'Elohim' (meaning 'God', 'god' or 'gods', depending on context), 'Elyon' (the 'Most High') and 'Yahweh'?

Furthermore, why do most popular translations render 'Yahweh' (incorrectly) as 'the Lord', or its equivalent in other languages? For fear of profaning the 'sacred name' of Yahweh, Temple-era Israelites were forbidden to utter "Yahweh" and would say "The Lord" instead. the Septuagint Greek translation took this further by translating 'Yahweh' as 'the Lord' in the text, and later translations followed suit. since at least the 19th Century, few Christians feel quesy about uttering 'Yahweh' or the Latin 'Jehovah', yet virtually all the popular English translations continue the practice of rendering it as 'the Lord', even when they were scrupulous about translating the rest of the text literally. For example, compare the popular English translations of Deut 32:9: http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/32-9.htm

It's worth asking why this practice is so prevalent today, when it is clearly contrary to good standards of Bible translation (where the text and not tradition, especially not a defunct one, should dictate the process).