“God: The Failed Hypothesis” Review: Possible and Impossible Gods

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters, where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Lately, we’ve been going through some books of Victor Stenger to see what the other side has to say in defense of atheism. So far, it hasn’t been much. Tonight, we’re going to continue that look by examining the ninth chapter of “God: The Failed Hypothesis” which is called “Possible and Impossible Gods.”

Early on this chapter, Stenger says “Belief aside, at the very minimum the fact that a specific God does not agree with the data is cause enough not to assume the existence of that God in the practices of every day life.”

I agree. I agree 100%. The problem is, Stenger thinks the only way people believe in God is they just assume that he exists. It is his false definition of faith. I believe in God because I do believe the reasons for belief are sound and any alternatives fail to give explanations for what we see. I believe our belief systems should be based on good evidence and able to be lived out practically. Christianity has both.

Stenger also reviews past chapters and there are some highlights to point out. For instance, he says that there could have been given as evidence someone who would be given a date for the end of the world and it happens right on schedule. It seems however that if that happened, it would be a bit too late for everyone to suddenly believe in the God this man is a prophet for. Surely Stenger could have thought of a better example than that!

He also has this highlight:

The void might have been found to be absolutely stable, requiring some action to bring something rather than nothing into existence.

Bringing nothing into existence?

Do I really need to comment on that?

Stenger goes on to say later that:

Serious theologians not committed by faith to their own dogma have gradually begun to accept the absence of objective evidence for God and have been forced to conclude if a god exists, he must purposely hide himself from us.

Who are these serious theologians? What are their names? What writings of theirs can I read? I would love to know, but unfortunately, I can’t. Why? The same reason again. Stenger does not list any sources. As he so often does, these are referred to as some realities out there that we must simply accept by faith. For me, it’s just simply accepting that Stenger is not wanting to do proper research into the beliefs of Christians, as his work shows.

In speaking about evil, Stenger says:

The problem of evil remains the strongest argument against a beneficent God, one that theologians have grappled with for centuries without success.

Again, I want to know the names of these theologians who have tried to argue without success. Instead, I am referenced to two atheist books. I have no idea which books Stenger himself has personally read on the topic. Does he know about Augustine’s debates in his age? Does he know about Aquinas’s equating goodness with being? Does he really know about Plantinga?

Or does he only know what he reads in the atheists about them?

To continue his blind faith, Stenger says:

God does not wish to spend eternity with all human souls, but only the chosen few who, by blind faith, in the absence of all evidence, accept a Jewish carpenter who may or may not have lived two thousand years ago as their personal savior. Of course, this is hardly a new idea but was essentially the teaching of John Calvin.

What we have is once again a total straw man. One wonders also that faith is believing something without evidence, what good does it do to say that it is blind and to say that it is in the absence of all evidence, unless Stenger likes redundancies for some reason? Also, this is not just the teaching of John Calvin. The teaching of belief in Christ for forgiveness of sins is something Calvinists and Arminians can agree on. Christ is the savior of all who believe.

Stenger also says:

To Christians of this persuasion, Mahatma Gandhi is burning in hell, along with the six million Jews killed by Hitler and the billions of others who have died without accepting Jesus.

This is simply an appeal to emotion, but let’s suppose we said “Alright Stenger. We’ll play your game. You can go to Heaven if you live a life as good as Mahatma Gandhi. Any less and you go to Hell. Do you measure up? Are you as selfless as he was? Are you willing to do all that he did?

Let’s set up a point system. How many points should be allowed to receive forgiveness? How many points will you get for each action that’s good? How many will you lose for each action that’s bad? Why should the count be set where it is? Exactly how good is good enough and how will you know?

God doesn’t ask you to be better than Mahatma Gandhi. He doesn’t ask you to be better than your neighbor. He asks you to be perfect and he also realizes you can’t reach that. That’s why he actually provides a simple way for you. All you have to do is accept the work of His Son on your behalf. Essentially, for us, God made salvation easy. All it costs us is the pride we relinquish when we bow down and admit that He is God and we are not.

Personally, I’m thankful the system’s that way. If I had to be as good as Mahatma Gandhi, I would worry if I’d qualify and frankly, atheists would be saying that God is setting the standard way too high. The reality is, God set the standard as high as it could go, but he also provided the way for us to freely make it.

And if God sets the rules of the game, complaining about that won’t change it. The best thing to do is see if He exists. It’s not about whether you like that He exists or whether you agree with His system or you think He’s running the show right. It’s about if He exists and if He has revealed Himself in Christ. If He does and He has, then the best thing to do is trust Him on what you can know instead of refusing to believe based on what you don’t know.

A wise man would make a decision based on what he knows and not on what he doesn’t know.

Be wise.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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