Tag Archives: Evil

Nightline’s “Satan” Panel; pt. 3; Driscoll & Lobert…

Now for the “there is a Satan” side of the debate.  There were also two individuals; Mark Driscoll and Annie Lobert.   Driscoll is pastor at Mars Hill Church, and Lobert is the founder of “Hookers for Jesus.”  Yes, I just typed “Hookers for Jesus.”  My old pastor, Doc Scott, would be proud…that just sent any judgmental legalistic types running for cover! ;)  But, really, “Hookers” does mean hookers, but it is also a play on words; former hookers, as Lobert is herself, putting the gospel message out there, and hence becoming hookers (as in fish hooks) for Jesus.

Just to make sure we are clear: Mark 1: 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Oftentimes when I talk about evidence for God, I talk about personal evidence, and objective evidence, in this case, the same holds true for Satan.  Driscoll is the more scripture oriented Christian; he provided the scriptural, objective evidences for Satan.  Lobert was much more personal; she discussed her personal experiences of things like demons, and direct experiences of evil, as she was on the receiving end of some very horrible things.

Driscoll talks a lot about free will and evil, and mankind’s act of disobedience in the garden as bringing about death and suffering for all of us.  This is pretty much in line with the Free will defense to the “Problem of Evil” I’ve already gone over in my blog.    In my opinion, Driscoll definitely held his own, and countered several mistaken conceptions that Chopra and Pearson espoused…of course, it didn’t sink in.

Lobert did well too, especially considering the stories she had to relate and the emotional trauma she suffered going through them.  IMO, it made it a lot harder for her to relate her stories when Chopra and Pearson pretty much laid all the blame at her own feet…you know, for getting raped repeatedly, beaten, kidnapped, things like that.  She actually kept pretty calm in the face of such idiocy, and did a much better job controlling her temper than I would.

So, Lobert recounted several instances of what she considered direct experiences of evil, including getting a glimpse into the eyes of a demon after one particularly harrowing experience.  I found it interesting that she was asked to clarify over and over again if she was claiming to have seen a demon, and if she really believed demons were in the room when these bad things were happening to her…for goodness sake, people don’t understand English any more; YES! She is claiming demons were in the room, literally.  (“Now, you really mean….” this is only the second time the host was annoying, the first was when he asked another inane question about free will, anywho…)

Lobert makes the point that this type of evil is what drove her to God, so she knows that she was saved because she went through those experiences…hence backing up the idea that God can indeed work in all things to make good come of it.  She did good talking about the reality of things like Satan, demons, and Hell.  There is only one area where I felt she needed just a bit more balance, and that was her repeating that God is Love, which He is, but His character also includes other things too.  He is also absolutely Righteous, Holy, Just, Merciful, etc… and it is always important to discuss these other aspects of God alongside the idea that God is Love.

So, in short, I think these two did pretty good.  I particularly liked some of  Driscoll’s responses to Chopra and Chopra’s odd, non-historical view of Jesus, and his misinterpretations of scripture.  Driscoll was definitely prepared to discuss this issue with the people present; he had done his homework for sure.

Everyone has to listen to Lobert’s recounting of events and see if they think it actually happened or not.  There are many Christians who don’t believe we can see into the spiritual realm at all…though I believe that contradicts scripture; Angels can become visible, and logically that would mean it is possible to see fallen ones too.  God can also open our eyes to the spiritual realm if He wishes.

The two held their own, and represented Christian views pretty well.  I’d have liked to seen everything unedited to really get a feel for more of the context, but overall it was a good debate as an intro. to this issues of Satan.

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Nightline’s “Satan” Panel; pt. 1 Deepak Chopra…

My last blog post included the video link to Nightline’s “Does Satan Exist?”  I wanted to describe and discuss the people on their panel, and their views.  Apparently the producers wanted to try to make the “sides” equal, so there was a panel of four individuals; two who believed in Satan, two who do not…or at least they don’t in any conventional sense.

The two who don’t believe in Satan: Deepak Chopra, and Carlton Pearson.  The two who do think that Satan (and demons) exist: Mark Driscoll and Annie Lobert.

The name most people will recognize out of the four is Deepak Chopra.  Chopra didn’t leave any of his new age flare behind for this panel, let me tell you.  As always Chopra tries to correlate all things spiritual with our own “consciousness.”  Some of the more hilarious moments of this show came in when Chopra basically insists the he is more evolved than the rest of us, and is on a higher plane of consciousness.  I have to say that if I could wrap up Chopra’s stance in one word, it would be “prideful.”

How does this color his view on Satan and evil?  Well, first he  presents a straw man version of what it means to be Christian.  For example, he talks of our supposed obsession over sin, guilt, and shame.  In fact one of the tenants of Christianity is to be set free from sin, guilt and shame, not to obsess over it.  If we are to obsess over anything, it is to be Christ.  Chopra degrades any belief in any sort of spiritual being, as an actual being, as “primitive.”  So short answer; no, Chopra doesn’t believe in Satan.  If we left it there it would have gone a lot quicker.

What really gets me is that Chopra tends to make us his own belief system as he goes, and never offers actual evidence to back up his opinion.  He doesn’t really believe in evil, but rather a stifling of creativity.  We apparently need this stifling, however, because in Chopra’s made up religion, for any creation to occur, you need “contrast.”  Hunh.   Then, he went on to say that belief, and beliefs, are a cover up for insecurity.  Okay, let’s run with it as one audience member did.  So, beliefs are cover ups for insecurity, and Chopra is adamant about his own beliefs…so they too are a cover up for insecurity, with no real bearing on reality.  What’s funny is that when an audience member pointed out this blatant logical flaw, Chopra didn’t get it all.  It doesn’t inspire much confidence in anything he posits.

So, what then does Chopra do with the idea of evil?  Well, you see, it is all generated by our negativity.  If we get raped, murdered, mugged, if we step in gum, it’s all because of our own negativity.  Our states of consciousness are so un-evolved that we actually cause harm to ourselves.  Wonderful.  If we could just be more positive and creative in our consciousnesses we could imagine a world without AIDS, Cancer, bad people, hurricanes, etc… and cause that world to come about.  Yeah, we should all get right on that.

No surprises here, but the whole time I’m thinking how Satan had to be rather proud of this one.  Chopra put forth his own new age views on evil, and as I said, doesn’t believe in Satan.  Next installment I’ll take a look at Carlton Pearson’s “words of wisdom” as he makes his case against the reality of Satan.

Edit to add; I was looking over my notes, and another interview with Chopra and I forgot to point out something.  When Chopra feels certain verses of scripture (taken out of context and language, I might add) fits his needs when trying to make a point, he’ll quote it all day.  However, when other verses are pointed out to him in their proper context, he shoves the scriptures aside as mere made up myth, funny how that works innit?  Don’t get me wrong, he’s not the only one who likes to do this, but is indeed one amongst many.

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Yes Virginia…

There is a Satan…but does he have claws? (Pun intended, if you didn’t get it, read it again…heh.)

Recently, on several national news channels, there has been a discussion on whether or not Satan exists, and if he does, is he an actual entity or more like some kind of odd, general malevolent force…or is he simply a personification of some aspect of human nature?  Nightline, on ABC, ran an episode entitled “Does Satan Exist?”  You can currently watch the video of this here: Does Satan Exist?

If that video gets yanked, there is always youtube.

So, yes, in a (hopefully soon) future post I’ll be reviewing the guests on that show, and commenting on their arguments.  I’ll also discuss Satan from a biblical perspective and add my own thoughts.  I just wanted to link to the show and give everyone that hasn’t seen it yet, and wants to, a chance to do so.

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The Problem of Evil? Part 6…

Now, there are a few other points I want to add here.  First, I think Hume makes an odd “mistake” in his supposed logical argument against  the existence of God.  If God is both omni-benevolent and omnipotent, why do we have evil?  Hume only includes God’s benevolence, and God’s omnipotence, and then attempts to pit them against each other.  One thing is obvious, he believes he is making a case against the Judeo-Christian idea of a God, which I do find significant in that it is usually the idea of the Christian God that non-believing philosophers, are dead set against.

So, I don’t find his argument against God holds up even under the logical scrutiny of other non-believers if they realize that God has many more attributes that must be taken into consideration.  The first two that jump to my mind is God’s Holiness and His Justice.  Is God benevolent?  Yup, but He’s also Holy and perfectly and absolutely Just.  This factors into the free will solution as well; God has a standard, if we fail to meet that standard, He will execute Justice.

Adam ate of the tree and the prescribed action in the divine justice system was quickly carried out.  Again, one cannot put forth an argument against God if one does not have, or present, an accurate “picture” of the very thing one is arguing against.

The other side to all of this talk of the “problem of evil” is that it is self-defeating when offered by a non-believer as an argument against God.  To label something well and trully evil, there must be an absolute objective standard of what evil is.  Just as with morality, the concpet of evil has no meaning if there is nothing but matter; if we are but mere matter, there cannot be anything truly called “evil.”

There can be things we do not like, but any connection to real morality would not be there IF we are nothing but mere matter.  Whether or not Hitler was right or wrong in his actions, for example, would only be someone’s opinion.  As a Christian, I can truly label Hitler’s actions as evil and wrong, and have those labels be meaningful.  By phrasing the problem of evil as the problem of evil, a non-believer is basically admitting that there is indeed real right and wrong; an absolute standard.  This “argument against God” falls prey to itself.

Now, there are some non-believers who will put this argument forward, but what they are really asking a believer to do is to explain evil.  The very human question, often asked in times of pain, depression, death, etc… is “Why?”  Many of the “solutions” I’ve put forth in this series covers that idea.  And, yes, I do favor the free will solution.  It makes sense both logically and scripturally.

But, in the end, I don’t find Hume’s “problem of evil” a problem at all, not in the sense of an argument against the existence of God.

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The Problem of Evil, Part 5b…

The last post was about Free Will as a solution to the “Problem of Evil.”  In this post, I’d like to delve into another aspect of this solution.  Most of the time, when people talk of the Problem of Evil, the focus is on moral evil.

Remember, moral evil is that evil that is directly caused by humanity; torture, murder, rape, etc…  There is that other type of evil to take into account as well, and that is natural evil, as I mentioned before.  Natural evil comes about from “nature” and the various laws of science operating.  If you fall, gravity will pull you down and perhaps aid in breaking a bone, or even result in death from things like head injury.

Free will isn’t just a solution supported or put forth from Christian philosophers.  The interesting thing here comes in when it becomes clear that most people that support the free will solution are focusing in on only moral evil.  It is pretty obvious that our wills, whether they are free or not, play into moral evil…that’s the whole point.  Mankind contributes evil to this world all the time; we lie, cheat, steal, kill, etc…

Now, from a Christian perspective, the Free Will solution also covers natural evil.  From our perspective, God created a good world for us to live in; a safe world, one in which we didn’t even have to worry about death.  Again, Adam’s free will choice of not faithing on God brought about natural evil in our world.  God gave charge over to Adam over this world of ours, and Adam’s choice impacted not only humanity but also the rest of physical reality here.

We believe that all creation groans under the weight of sin, not just humanity.  This is one of the few explanations that I’ve come across that can and does account for both kinds of evil.  It is true that we can now try to yield to righteousness, instead of to sin, in the realm of moral evil, but we must also put up with a fallen creation, not just a fallen humanity, in the realm of natural evil.

Natural evil can be anticipated, but in most cases of huge natural disasters, we are unable to “fight” it directly.  We have to anticipate and then respond.  So, the characteristics of the two kinds of evil are different, but the ultimate responsibility still lies with mankind.  The ultimate outcome, again according to scripture, will be a restoration not only of mankind, but also of all creation.  Both moral and natural evil will be taken care of.

One common question that come up is something along the lines of, “So, you believe if Adam shimmied up a tree and fell on his head that he would have survived prior to his eating of the Tree of knowledge?”  My answer is “yes.”  God clearly has the power to sustain…not only life, but also inanimate matter as well…

Deuteronomy 8:1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. 2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. 4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

What we have here is a clear example of God maintaining the state of even inanimate matter; their clothes lasted forty years whilst they trudged about in the wilderness…they never needed knew robes, shoes, etc… because God intervened, apparently at the molecular level, in order to maintain their clothing.  He is quite capable of sustaining that which He wishes to sustain.

Again, I wrote this post mainly because I do think it is important to touch upon both kinds of evil, moral and natural, and also to show that Christianity does indeed account for both through the free will solution.  I hope to give a brief overview sometime soon of the Arminian vs. Calvinistic position on the whole free will issue.

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The Problem of Evil, Part 5a…

Ok, here are the other “Problem of Evil” posts: Part 1, 2, 3, and 4.  As I’ve been discussing, “The Problem of Evil” is one argument that is used against the idea of there being a God, and now I’m going to make an intro post on another main “solution” to the “problem;” Free Will.

I’m breaking this discussion of Free Will up into several parts, because anyone who has looked into this knows that whole books have been written about this very topic.  I’d also like to eventually talk about the debate in light of Christianity as well; Calvinism vs. Arminianism in particular.

Ok, so this “solution” centers around mankind’s responsibility in bringing about evil in the world.  Free will is a condition for morality; for true right and wrong…for true righteousness, there must be choices available.  Why?  Because morality, to be truly meaningful, must have a split between a “right” action/choice and a “wrong” action/choice just by sheer definition.

The question arises, “Could God have made everyone where they would freely “choose” the good, no matter what?”  The answer is “no” because it is a logical contradiction.  If no one could do otherwise than choose to do good, then there is no meaningful choice involved at all.  The focus in this solution shifts from God to mankind.  The idea can kind of be summed up like this, “God made evil possible, man made it actual.”

In this solution, God is not responsible for evil in that He created it, rather mankind is responsible because he made a wrong choice.  If God desired robots He very well could have made them, but He did not.  He desires us, for various reasons, and He desires us to freely choose Him.

Does this solution line up with scripture?  Sure.  We only have to look to the account of Adam and Eve for one clear example.  As I’ve blogged about before, The Tree of Knowledge and the command not to eat of it was there as a choice.  Right choice and behavior was available; don’t eat of the tree.  Wrong choice and behavior was available as well.  Of course, as I mentioned before, this choice is about faith; trust God and follow what He says, or react with lack of faith and go against Him.  We also see in scripture that Adam’s act, his choice, has major repercussions for the world.

I’ll continue on in part 5b…

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The problem of evil? Part 4…

Well, I lied.  In part 3 I said I would cover free will in this post, but I’m saving it til later.  I wanted to discuss another POV that will wind up connecting with free will first.  Please do read my other posts on “the problem of evil” here: part 1, 2, 3.

This “solution” to the problem of evil sees evil as therapy.  The idea here is that evil is a tool that God uses to help mankind learn and mature as a species.

I always explain this POV to my students like this; we all know kids who have been raised by extremely overprotective parents.  These kids are not allowed much freedom, nor are they allowed to experience the consequences of any mistakes that they happen to make.  They are protected from the world in many ways that actually hinders their maturity.

Now, oftentimes what happens when these kids do manage to get out into the world?  Usually one of two things; either they go nuts with their new freedom and wind up committing really bad mistakes because of a lack of decision making and self-control, or they wind up being overcome by the world completely; real life is simply too much for them.

This solution to the problem of evil is kind of based on that idea.  God allowed evil…he allowed mankind to make choices and suffer the consequences, not because He Himself caused the evil, but so we will learn what evil is, and why it is a good idea to pay attention to what He has to say.

John Hick is pretty well known in the philosophy field for supporting this idea, but it really can be traced back to Irenaeus’ teachings.

Mankind as a whole is learning from our interactions with this world, including both natural and moral evil.  It serves, so the idea goes, to purify, and ultimately bring about spiritual healing in time.  Now, this solution rests on the idea of free will too, which I will indeed get to.

Leaving that to the side for a minute, how does this solution line up with scripture?  Some of it does indeed line up with what we are taught.  First, God’s Law, and everything that comes with it is indeed teaching one main lesson…the lesson that is being drilled into humanity; for sin comes death.  This teaching is everywhere throughout scripture and in human experience.  Death entered in through Adam’s sin, and continues on throughout current human history.

Also, the idea that hardship and suffering teach us things is also included in scripture…however, so is the idea that suffering should be defeated, that death should be, and will be, done away with.  Evil isn’t something we are to embrace in the least, it is more presented as a fact of life.  This “solution” then makes sense on one hand (suffering does shape us), but I don’t find the idea that mankind was created immature in scripture…quite the contrary.

Again, free will is an important component that I will get to soon…

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