SEB Mailbag: The You-Don’t-Know-God’s-Love edition.

Last September I wrote an entry on the passing of Pastor D. James Kennedy in which I expressed my lack of remorse over his death. He was yet another in a long line of Christians who would tear down the Wall of Separation and turn this country into a theocracy if he had the chance.

Someone who stumbled across the entry wasn’t too happy with me about it and decided to send me the following email:

From: Robert and Carla [RCSmith@woh.rr.com]
Subject: D. James Kennedy

Sir,

I feel sorry for you. You obviously don’t know the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How is Dr. James Kennedy any different than you in what he espoused except he was on the side of God and you obviously aren’t? My Bible condemns all the lifestyles you embrace. May you ask for God’s forgiveness and find the peace on earth you deserve as a child of God.

So I took the time to send back the following reply:

    Sir or Madam,

    You probably don’t feel as sorry for me as I do for you. The delusion you cling to has clouded your mind so much so that I doubt it’ll ever be clear again. There is no Jesus Christ to give me his love. The man most likely never existed in the first place and even if he did he’s long since dead and gone and isn’t coming back no matter how many thousands of years you continue to pray to him. There is no God looking down upon you and intervening on your behalf. It’s all nothing but wishful thinking on your part.

    As for what lifestyles I embrace, that’s a pretty arrogant thing for you to assume you know from just one entry on my website. You’ve never met me, you don’t really know much about me other than I’m not unhappy that Kennedy has kicked the bucket. As I recall your fictitious savior admonished you to “judge not, lest ye be judged” and yet there you sit judging away based on the smallest of evidence what you think your God would think of me based on your interpretation of a book put together by committee. That, as they say, takes balls. If you can’t be bothered to follow the instructions in your own “holy” book then I don’t see any reason why I should attempt to do so.

    I hope that someday you will see the light, to borrow a turn of phrase, and remove the religious blinders from your eyes and come to grips with reality. It’s a scary thing to think that ultimately you have to do what’s right not because you expect to get some reward after you pass on, but because it’s the right thing to do. Truly moral people don’t need the threat of eternal damnation to do the right thing. True adults don’t need fantasy Gods to tell them right from wrong. Perhaps someday you will be one of those people. But you’ll pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.

    Sincerely,

    Les Jenkins

Seemed only fair that I return an attempt at proselytizing with one of my own.

29 thoughts on “SEB Mailbag: The You-Don’t-Know-God’s-Love edition.

  1. Hey Les,

    Just wondering, do you think you are contradicting yourself here?

    There is no Jesus Christ to give me his love. The man most likely never existed in the first place and even if he did he’s long since dead and gone and isn’t coming back no matter how many thousands of years you continue to pray to him.”

    It just seems that you are claiming two things.  At first you adamantly disavow his existence then you admit that he may have existed.  Which is it?

  2. I don’t think Les is contradicting himself at all. The statement “There is no Jesus Christ to give me his love” can be true whether the man existed or not… because as Les said after “The man most likely never existed” was that “even if he did he’s long since dead and gone”.

    Either way… if Jesus is dead and gone… or if he never existed at all… in both cases it leaves no Jesus Christ currently available to Les to receive love from, get it?

  3. Ah Les, your conversion technique is sorely lacking. You’re asking the other person to do all the hard work of thinking on their own! Conversion works by the promise of NOT having to do that stuff yourself once you decide that the messenger looks like a fine chap and can be trusted with your soul and your purse strings.

    You gotta learn man, if you wanna play that game.

  4. Duckhugger- you beat me to it.  Unless bowdwn5 is assuming the case that Jesus did live, and Les is contradicting himself by saying “there is no Jesus Christ” because there are still some pieces of Jesus’ bones somewhere, which is a rather strained interpretation of “is” when referring to a person, there’s no contradiction in Les’ statement.

    ingolfson- what you said.  In addition, Les forgot to mention the perks.  Now, atheism doesn’t offer pie in the sky when you die, but it does offer a life full of hedonistic pleasure, unsullied by the agenbite of inwit suffered by Godfearers.  At least, my life is full of hedonistic pleasure.  Well, sort of.

  5. Apropos contradictions… Didn’t this strike anybody else as odd:

    How is Dr. James Kennedy any different than you in what he espoused except he was on the side of God and you obviously aren’t?

    My Bible condemns all the lifestyles you embrace.

    In other words: Even if you’re a nice chap, the Bible condemns your lifestyle unless you’re on the godly side?

  6. I hold no illusions that my reply holds any hope of converting the person who sent me the original email, but sometimes it’s just satisfying to give them a small taste of their own medicine.

    I doubt I’ll get a reply. This one doesn’t have the usual level of… enthusiasm… as the ones that tend to reply back.

  7. Surprise! They actually responded and it’s pretty much what you’d expect:

    Sir,

    It takes greater faith to believe what you believe than my belief in Jesus Christ.  History shows that Jesus did exist. I guess you one who believes that the earth just formed magically. Unbelievable! I’ll pray for you every night with the hope you find the our Savior. God bless you Les.

    My reply:

      Sir or Madam,

      This reply from you just demonstrates my point. You’re so deluded that you think it takes faith to be an atheist when exactly the opposite is true. You also assume, again incorrectly, that I think the Earth just “formed magically” when I’ve never said any such thing. How about actually finding out what I believe instead of just assuming you know?

      History does not show us that Jesus existed. There’s only a couple of references to Jesus outside of the Bible and none of those are first-hand accounts. Not even the Bible offers first-hand accounts, but was written by men “inspired” by God. As for being a historical document the Bible is sorely lacking. His existence is entirely debatable based on the available evidence.

      Feel free to pray for me all you want. You join a long list of people who are praying for me which has, so far, had little effect. Though if you really want to make a positive change in the world I’d recommend that you take the time you’d waste praying for me and put it to good use by helping the needy. You know, like Jesus supposedly did once upon a time?

      Sincerely,

      Les Jenkins

    Let’s see if they reply again.

  8. Duckhugger,

    If Jesus potentially existed, then he must also potentially possesses the ability to give love today.  Let me persuade you.

    I disagree with your interpretation because your answer conveniently ignores something that Les has admitted before. 

    God may exist.  This a broad statement that opens the door for all sorts of possibilities.

    For example, divine capabilities must also potentially exist.  Among these possible capabilities, the ability to love in perpetuity regardless of death or physical presence.  Additionally, the ability to impart divine capabilities on human subjects (Jesus).

    If God potentially existed, then it is possible that divine capabilities were imparted to humans. 

    In effect, the statement:

    There is no Jesus Christ to give me his love”

    Must then assert that,

    a. Even if he existed, he could not possibly possess the ability to give love after death.

    Or that,

    b. Jesus never existed and therefore cannot give me his love.

    Possibility “a” is already contradicted above in Les’ implicit acknowledgement of potential divine capabilities.

    Possibility “b” is contradicted with the following statement:

    “The man most likely never existed”

    With both possibilities contradicted, Les’ overall statement appears contradictory to me.  If Jesus potentially existed, then he potentially possesses the ability to give love today.

  9. Les laid out two conditions:

    1. The man most likely never existed in the first place
    2. even if he did he’s long since dead

    The conditions exclude each other but it is a distinction without a difference because the outcome is the same either way: no Jesus now. 

    Comical that you could waste so much time trying to weave a contradiction out of that.

  10. What DOF said. Tortured logic and quite mining, oh my.

    There’s also a difference between a philosophical argument that admits an infinitesimally small probability of some ill-defined god’s existence and a pragmatic statement about a man-made religion.

  11. bowdwn5, While Les may have made the statement before that there MAY be a God (on par with making the statement “there MAY be pink unicorns hiding on the moon”)… in this particular instance Les said straight out:

    “There is no God looking down upon you and intervening on your behalf. It’s all nothing but wishful thinking on your part.”

    I think for this moment… in this instance, based on all the evidence and lack thereof, Les is pretty much asserting a God-less world where… regardless if a Jesus ever lived or didn’t… he’s no longer around now for he would have been just as human (and fleeting) as the rest of us!

  12. bowdwn5- simple test.  Substitute ‘Magical Pink Unicorn’ for ‘Jesus’.  If the statement still holds true for ‘PMU’ then it doesn’t support Christianity originally.

    “There wasno Pink Magical Unicorn 2000 years ago.  Even if there was, it is dead now, so there is no PMU love now” A perfectly true statement.

  13. Several have made similar critiques.  Each seems to suggest that even if Jesus existed, he’s dead now so therefore he can’t love us now.  I think that some are not grasping the full implications that result from acknowledging the possibility of God.  If God is a possibility then both Jesus and divine capability are also possible.  As a consequence, Jesus ability to love us now, despite his death, is also a possibility. 

    Last Hussar,

    I disagree with your “true” statement.  If God possibly existed, then it’s also possible that God imparted the ability for the PMU to love us either after its resurection or during its presence in the spirit world. 

    Duckhugger,

    You’ve actually provided solid evidence for my point.  Les is claiming two very different things.  He admits God’s possible existence then says he doesn’t exist.  Which is it?

    As a result, I disagree and don’t think that Les is “ASSERTING” a Godless world.  Hypothesizing, maybe.  Regardless, he seems to be leaving the door open on account of the limitations of human knowledge. 

    Elwedriddsche,

    I’m interested in your argument for how my logic is tortured.  Seriously, let’s hear it.

    To an extent I can appreciate your distinction between a philisophical statement and one of pragmatism.  But given the religious nature of the topic, it’s hard to agree that his comment was devoid of philosophic influence.  As a result the distinction becomes murky.  But if Les wants to acknowledge that his statement was merely pragmatic then I can contextualize the contradition with less indegestion as pragmatisms are contradiction prone. 

    DOF,

    Think of the implications involved when one admits the possible existence of God.  Your distinction without a difference doesn’t hold true.  If God is possible then both Jesus and divine capability are also possible.  As such, divine capability could make it possible for Jesus to love us right now.

  14. Les is claiming two very different things.  He admits God’s possible existence then says he doesn’t exist.  Which is it?

    bowdwn5: this is the problem with trying to mix formal logic with a scientific viewpoint (which is what Les is expounding).  The nonexistence of something can only be strictly proven within systems of formal logic such as mathematics, where the existence or nonexistence follows as a matter of definition.

    In the real world, it’s a different matter.  No one can prove the nonexistence of a teapot in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, for instance.  But if you say that my claim “there is no teapot in orbit between Mars and Jupiter” contradicts my standpoint that it’s impossible, strictly speaking, to prove the nonexistence of anything in the world, then we might as well give up talking, because any negative claim can be ignored as being contradictory.  And you must admit the possibility that not only is there a teapot in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, but also that this teapot is the Son of God, brewed tea for our sins, and loves us with all its teabags.

    Now, you might well stick to your guns and claim that this is merely the “pragmatic” and not the “philosophical” viewpoint.  But we materialists tend to be pragmatic, so as not to waste time pondering the gazillions of possibilities the “philosophical” viewpoint would force us to admit.  Given the fact that there’s no evidence for the teapot, or for God,  it’s pragmatic, and not a contradiction in any useful sense of the word, to dismiss them, until such time as evidence forces us to reevaluate our stance.

  15. Zilch,

    You make an excellent point.  I admit my failure to distinguish between Les’ sometimes “scientific” and sometimes “formal logic” approaches.  It is problematic to mix the two epistemologies.  I no longer see any contradiction.

  16. Think of the implications involved when one admits the possible existence of God. Your distinction without a difference doesn’t hold true. If God is possible then both Jesus and divine capability are also possible. As such, divine capability could make it possible for Jesus to love us right now.

    I didn’t say god was impossible and it’s safe to say I have given that possibility full consideration.  Changes nothing.  What matters is probability.

  17. If Jesus potentially existed, then he potentially possesses the ability to give love today.

    It is also possible that Jesus “potentially existed” and does not have the ability to give love today.

    God may exist.  This a broad statement that opens the door for all sorts of possibilities.

    For example, divine capabilities must also potentially exist.

    “God may exist” => “divine capabilities must also exist.” That does not follow.

    Sorry, but god does not have divine capabilities, assuming it exists at all. Please feel free to disprove my statement with any documented, repeatable evidence. “Jesus on Grilled Cheese” doesn’t count.

  18. DOF,

    What matters is probability.

    Sure, probability can lead someone to make an informed guess.  But because this point has already been made, I have to wonder if you know why probability is what matters?

  19. Some guy,

    I agree with your first point but on your second point you’ve excluded a very important word from your equation.  It should indclude the word “potentially” this changes things significantly.

  20. bowdwn5 said: “Sure, probability can lead someone to make an informed guess.  But because this point has already been made, I have to wonder if you know why probability is what matters?

    Oh for crying out loud, Bowdn5, you’re stuck in freshman philosophy class; call for a tow truck.  Probability matters because time and resources are limited.  We do not have the time or resources to explore all possibilities, so the ones supported by self-correcting explanatory models are a better bet.

  21. Look bowdwn5, if some little kid came to you and told you there were elves living under your house would you seriously consider it as a possibility? Especially lets say you did and you went looking for them but every time you look in different spots under your house and find no elves at all, or maybe rats or other creatures that might account for solid evidence of what is really down there, every time the kid moves the goalpost claiming a different “unexplored” region under the house for the elves to live.

    Wouldn’t it be logical at that point (or rather earlier) to just assume the probability of elves under the house being infinitely lower than the probability that this kid is imagining the elves?

    It’s like that with God. The places religion has asserted the hand or presence of “God” have been slowly but surely explored and accounted for by other more solid scientific explanations. At this point the probability of “God” actually existing seems lower than ever and the probability of him being a creation of men and their hopeful minds is much higher!

    Sure… we can’t disprove God’s existence to a tee, and that leaves a somewhat slim “possibility” for God, I suppose… but until real solid irrefutable evidence of God is found, it’s an immensely more sure bet to put down on the “God is all in people’s heads” side!

  22. Perhaps more clear terminology would be appropos. That Jesus, or Yeshua, or Jehova, or whatever name given to a certain itinerant preacher may have existed about 2000 years ago is a possibility. That the Christ of myth existed, or is now alive, is totally a fabrication of men. “The congregation of the Christ, documented most clearly in the letters of Paul from the 50s, experienced a striking shift in orientation, away from the teachings of Jesus and toward the spirit of the Christ who died and was raised from the dead. It was this myth that eventually made the narrative gospels possible,” The Lost Gospel The Book of Q & Christian Origins, by Burton L. Mack, Professor of New Testament at the School of Theology at Claremont. So, Les was absolutely correct.

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