Musings on Atheism, Religion and God – Refuting Robert A. Heinlein’s Argument
by Philip Jonkers
Continued from Refuting Epicurus’ Argument.
“The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein
Heinlein obviously basis his criticism of God on his interpretation of the way God is represented in the bible. I already addressed the problems with such inference in the first section of this article. In short, an image of God may overlap with the true nature of God, but they are not the same in principle. For further elaboration, see here. It is the purpose of this part to refute Heinlein’s criticism with the force of logical argumentation combined with the utilisation of a few scriptural passages that are consistent with the G postulate.
“…wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures,…”
I refer back to my response to Epicurus to address this allegation.
“…becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery.”
I do not believe that God will ever get angry for following reason. Anger is something that we human beings become out of frustration, lack of patience and a general lack of understanding of the underlying factors causative to the crisis that precipitated that anger. By virtue of his omniscience (Psalm 44:21; Psalm 139:2-6; Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:3), God’s understanding is perfect to the highest degree, and since he’s able to perfectly anticipate the future, he has no reason to become angry as everything past, present and future is known to him.
We on the other hand, tend to become angry out of what essentially is a lack of power to anticipate unpleasant and shocking future events; hence we call them surprises. Other reasons for people to get angry is (a fear for) losing control or (a fear for) loss of face, especially in front of peers. But these reasons simply do not apply to a solitary being who is omniscient and omnipotent (Luke 18:27; Matthew 19:26; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37; Revelation 19:6). The exclusive and supreme omnipotent being never has to fear losing control, nor does he have to fear losing face in front of non-existent peers. Indeed God has no reason to ever fear anything from anyone or anything. Being artifacts of imperfection, fear and anger are eternally and perfectly ineffective to affect God.
I concede though that this conclusion–in order to demand consistency of the nature of God–suggests an invalidation of all biblical descriptions that render an angry, or wrathful, God. The consistency of God’s identity as a god of love, grace and mercy (see def. G) fortunately is acknowledged in scripture itself when it confirms that God is immutable and unchanging (Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8) . The presence of internal scriptural inconsistencies (e.g. an angry versus a loving God) therefore suggests that a revision of the bible is justified in order to establish internal coherence. From the perspective of improving the perception of religion by the skeptical secular world, a sincere effort at improving the consistency of the bible in rendering an accurate representation of God as a god of love, would seem to not be such a wild suggestion.
“..swayed by their prayers,…”
Indeed God may choose to answer our prayers but only if it fits his divine will to do so. In practice, this means that you must call God in truth and your motives must be righteous and selflessly (James 5:16; Psalm 34:15&17; Psalm 145:18,19; Matthew 6:5,6). It should also be remembered that God is not our servant but rather that we instead are expected to serve him (Joshua 24:14-24; Psalm 95:1-6; Psalm 100; 1 Chronicles 29:11-13). And so God should not be construed as some sort of ueber-bellboy; always ready to fulfill our every demand, big or small, at our mere beck and call. In addition, by virtue of us having free will, he does not deserve to regarded as the “petulant” tyrannical ueber-nanny; see my rebuttal of Epicurus’ argument.
“…copulation is inherently sinful.”
Lastly, God does not condemn “copulation.” Entertaining that very notion is preposterous and indeed testifies of Heinlein’s lack of understanding of biblical scripture. If God were to be opposed to copulation then how on earth is the human population to be able to prevent itself from going extinct while at the same time still earning God’s blessing? How can we worship God if all of humanity dies out due to a strict adherence to a divinely decreed prohibition of reproductive sex? If God were to be opposed to sex, then he would–by implication–be opposed to human procreation and he would therefore welcome our extinction. If that is the case, then why even bother overseeing–in one form or another–our very creation?
That been said, scripture tells of a God that does disapprove of the kind of sexual activity that perhaps could best be summarized by the catchall term, fornication (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:13b; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). In other words, it would seem that God prefers the hugely out-dated and old-fashioned idea that sex should be regarded as something that is sacred and thus is to be practiced on the basis of genuine commitment and love rather than unfettered lust (Hebrews 13:4).