Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Burrito Question

Greetings, mortals!  In my ministry on Twitter, I am frequently challenged to answer what I have come to call "The Burrito Question."

The Burrito Question was most famously asked by the well-known, jaundiced, anadactylic heathen Homer Simpson of good Christian Ned Flanders in Episode 16:13, Weekend at Burnsies:
Hey, I've got a question for you. Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?
It's a variation on the more standard omnipotence paradox, "Can omnipotent God create a stone so heavy even He cannot lift it?"

Since I'm asked this so often, I thought I'd address it here so all four of my faithful readers can have ready access to the definitive answer to this so-called "paradox."

Can the Triune God (or any aspect thereof) microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?

Yes.  God is omnipotent, and so may accomplish any task at His barest whim.  This necessarily includes the Creation of a burrito so hot He cannot eat it (and its necessary predicate, Creation of a microwave capable of this feat).

Does this prove that God, who can create a task that is impossible for Him, is consequently not omnipotent?  

No.  Remember, in addition to being omnipotent, God is omniscient.  And as we all know, knowledge is power.  Since God is omnipotent and omniscient, and knowledge is power, He is omnipotent twice.

God can therefore use His first omnipotence to create a task beyond His boundless power -- a burrito too hot to eat, a stone to heavy to lift, an argument so circular even He couldn't believe it -- and then use His second omnipotence to accomplish it.

Glad we got that settled once and for all.  Thank you, mortals, for reading.  As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Would Happen if Atheists Really Re-Wrote the Ten Commandments? The Collapse of Civilization.

Greetings, mortals!  Sorry for my long absence from this blog.  I recently got a new job falsifying the spectrographic profiles of exoplanets to make them appear Earth-like (to further test your faith in Creation, of course).  As you might imagine, the work involves a lot of travel, which has eaten into my blogging time.  Nonetheless, I'm ready to dive right back in to bringing everyone Christ's Word of love, generosity, and kindness to your fellow humans.

First up?  Discussing how atheists -- every single one of them -- are working to destroy civilization by driving people away from God.  As you may have heard on CNN, two atheists, Lex Bayer and John Figdor, recently promulgated ten atheist "non-commandments."

As you'll see, these guidelines are a recipe for the destruction of everything religion has helped build.  Under them, people would think critically, follow the evidence rather than their feelings to conclusions (which would be modifiable by new evidence!), act thoughtfully and treat others mindfully, and be tolerant of the harmless choices of their fellow human beings.  In other words, these "non-commandments" would lay waste to the racial, social, and economic distinctions that God, through His churches and chosen servants in government, has established and maintained on Earth.

As scary as these are, however, just imagine if atheists, in their secular humanist zeal, re-wrote the actual Ten Commandments -- which are indisputably the first-ever written legal code and the basis for all morals and laws, particularly in the United States of America.

Actually, let's not imagine.  Let's build on my thought experiment about what atheists believe, pretend to be atheists, and re-write the actual Commandments.  Be warned!  What follows here is terrifying.

First, "I am the LORD thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me" becomes

1. Believe in God or gods or whatever you want, just so long as you don't seek to impose your beliefs on anyone else or discriminate against those who believe differently.  But we respectfully suggest taking a skeptical view of all claims concerning the supernatural -- especially ones where the claims are extreme, e.g., of creatures endowed with omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence.

Laughable.  As if the claim that there exists a God who can rewrite the laws of the Universe at his barest whim is "extreme."

Okay, next, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" is corrupted into

2. Pictures of pretty much anything are allowed, so long as you don't create or use the images in ways that harm the body and/or mind of the entity depicted.  Also, don't distribute images without the express consent of their subjects or, for copyrighted materials, the content creators.  That's just basic decency.

Huh.  Not bad.  Sure, permitting sexually explicit images is execrable, but at least this version would take care of the whole "the Crucifix is a graven image/no it isn't/yes it is/fine, be that way, let's kill each other by the thousands over the course of centuries and split our religion that nominally calls all humanity into oneness with God into innumerable sects" thing.

Anyway, on to "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."  This one becomes a depraved free-for-all:

3. Say anything you want at any time you want, so long as you're not saying it to deliberately hurt someone or prevent people from having their say.  And if something someone says hurts or offends you, feel free to confront her or him about that, explain why you felt hurt, find out whether she or he intended the hurt, and react (within reason) accordingly.

Chilling, isn't it?  Obeying this would prevent me and my fellow Christians from protecting our beliefs from criticism by feigning umbrage.  No thank you.

Ok, next, "Remember the Sabbath Day" becomes the social order-disrupting

4. Give people time off from work and/or school when they're sick or need to handle the personal matters that everybody has from time to time, and offer a generous amount of vacation time.  Not only will your employees/students be more productive, they'll be happier because they'll feel respected and thus more fulfilled in life -- which, in the end, is all that matters.

Please.  Don't atheists know that salvation comes by suffering all of life's travails without longing for any temporal reward?  Well, except for the rich.  They're saved mostly by philanthropy.  Or just going to church on the Sabbath.  Or praying at their convenience.  Because God gives us the suffering He knows we can bear, and the rich?  They're really out of practice at putting up with anything other than occasional, transient discomfort.

How about "Honor thy father and mother?"

5. Treat family members with the respect they deserve.  If they nurtured and supported you, nurture and support them right back.  If they tore you down, be at peace with the fact that there's no shame in parting ways with destructive people -- even if they're family.  Oh, and, don't anybody judge those who made the hard choice to limit or break contact with family members.  Such decisions are never arrived at easily and should be respected.

*Shudder*.  People feeling free to leave relationships that diminish them would pretty much kill efforts to recruit people into religion by harping on their sinful nature and consequent need for salvation.  Can't have that.

Alright, now for the big one.  How do atheists re-write "Thou shalt not kill"?

6. Don't kill anyone for any reason other than defense of oneself or another against lethal force or involuntary servitude.  This includes war and the death penalty. 

Huh!  That doesn't seem so--

6 (cont'd). No other exceptions ok?  None.  None of this divine command or preventing the spread of an ideology with which you disagree bullshit.  No god told you to kill or go to war, and even if you think one or more did, see #1.  Same for if you have the desire to bring a knife -- or a bomb, or an army -- to an idea fight.  No.  Killing.

Well, then.  Not so sure why secular humanists would be so worked up about people killing each other for perfectly good reasons like combating apostasy and to fulfill perceived divine command, but I guess they are.

Moving on!  "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

7. Consensual sex between adults only, please, and if you've promised someone you'll have sex exclusively with her or him, keep your promise until you've told her or him that you've changed your mind.

That's...not terrible.  It's basically identical in effect to the original.  Score one for the atheists, I guess.  Oh, wait, no, this includes homosexual relationships.  My bad!  This would be destructive because treating the gays like they're people destabilizes civilization.  Don't ask me how, but it does.

Anyway, on to number eight: "Thou shalt not steal."

8. Don't steal, and especially don't set up entire social and economic systems designed to irrevocably concentrate wealth in an elite class to the detriment of all others.

I don't really have a problem with this, except it kind of piles on the moneychangers.  They haven't been able to ply their trade in sites of worship for, like, 2,000 years.  Lay off, ok?

Getting close to the end now.  Number 9, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor."

9. Don't lie to anyone about matters of consequence.

No, no, no.  Can you imagine not being able to mischaracterize or fabricate things about people you've outgrouped so as to bolster your own personal, social, economic, or political standing?  How would we maintain the integrity of our insular communities, or make sure that governments only help those whom we deem deserving?

Alright, finally, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

10. We suggest that comparing yourself to other people is a recipe for unhappiness.  Instead, try working hard to get what you want in the way you want it.  If you see someone who has what you want, ask her or him how to get it.  We think you'll find yourself most fulfilled most often by living the life you build for yourself -- even when it's hard.

That's just ridiculous.  The key to happiness is not to strive for what you want.  It's to pray for what you want, and then, when your prayers go unanswered -- as they almost certainly will -- to resign yourself to lifelong privation, the pain of which you dampen with the unconfirmed promise of an eternal paradise in Heaven.  Seriously, it's like atheists don't understand how these things are supposed to work.  I'll stick with the original Commandments -- and hope you do, too.

Thank you, mortals, for reading!  As always, please offer your thoughts and feedback in the comments.