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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A New Day

50 some odd years ago, "traditional" marriage was redefined to be between one man and one woman. That was the landmark court decision "Loving" in which an activist court fillied with activist judges decided that the majority will of the people was notvalid and decreed against the will of the people, that interracial marriages were not only valid, but legally binding.

At that time, the Christian right went nuts. How could these mere judges decide what not only was legal, but what was moral? At the time of the decision of Loving, "traditional" marriage changed from being between "one man and one woman of the same race" to "one man and one woman." And yet the idea of "traditional" marriage remained.

Today we are witnessing another change of "traditional" marriage. Only this time it is not a change in terms of one man -- many women, to one man one woman and many concubines, to parental arrangement of marriage between one too-young man and one too-young woman without the benefit of love. We are now seeing love take precedence. Choosing whom to love and marry is now becoming an actual personal choice between two adults who love each other.

That is a most positive movement, but it is not frought with pitfalls. There are still Rick Santorum's and Family Research Council's of this world who claim that this freedom is actually the downfall of all of society because it perturbs "traditional" marriage. A "traditional" marriage which they crazily claim has never changed since God laid down his law. Even though it has changed quite frequently throughout history.

Keep this in mind as you observe not just what happens in California this year, but also with these Christian groups who proclaim adherence to "traditional" marriage. For they are the ones with a lack of knowing of history, even biblical history. They are dangerous.

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God, Satan and Armageddon

I freely admit that there are many varying doctrines of Christian belief. The more fundamentalist and literal-minded they are, the more silly, and easily refuted. Thus it is not within the scope of this blog to debate the more liberal or figurative flavors of Christianity, merely because they require more in-depth argumentation and much more nuance. (It is easier to refute any and all known versions of "God" as being nonsensical.) So I stick with the straightforward fundie Christians. With that in mind, here is one lone paragraph from Joseph Chambers of Rapture Ready; "Hell is rehearsing for Armageddon." (Note, I really have no use for the rest of his essay, for it is absurd. This is the one single idea that really has any impact on Christianity in a general sense, the rest is cultist uber-belief .)
The entire “One World Government” and “One World Religion” that Satan will promote and control is his grand scheme to create such a world power and spiritual (evil) force that he can finally succeed in defeating God and take his seat as the “Supreme Authority.” You may say it is crazy to believe that Satan is expecting to win. How can you read his grand design for world control, economic mastery (by his controlling all buying and selling), and the entire religious harlotry of Biblical prophecy, and not believe Satan plans to win? Satan is preparing the ultimate effort to remove God from His throne, to defeat the Lord Jesus as the Savior of men and to defile the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit of Holiness. Believe the Word of God; Satan will lose.

I guess the most obvious is this, why would any supernatural being be obsessed with material things like wealth and power? It makes no sense whatsoever. Seriously, just look at how the supernatural is described by Christians. It is the realm of miracles, a total nonvalue of the material, timeless infinity, no cause and effect, unlimited pure knowledge and power beyond everything in the material realm. I would also add that the supernatural is wholly unaffected by the laws of physics or even nature as a whole.

So his own realm why then, would a supernatural being care in the least for the riches and materialisticness of the real world? Why would Satan care about money, gold, or wealth. For in

his own realm he can generate, out of nothing, an infinitely larger amount of gold and diamonds and money, etc.

The obvious answer is that Satan does this to entice us humans over to him with dreams of wealth untold. But just how realistic is that? Why the need to accumulate natural supplies of gold when miracles can produce so much more?

Now we've pondered the obvious, now let us consider the less obvious. why would Satan want to control this world? It is material, natural, after all. The Bible says that this world will not last forever, only the supernatural realm lasts forever, so why would Satan want to limit himself to something that is quite temporary? If his battle is against God, then this makes no sense whatsoever. In analogy, it would be like an enemy commander saying to his troops and the superior battle force, that he has no intention of winning the war, all he wants is to win some small, insignificant battle which in repect to the entire war is utterly meaningless. This is true because no matter how you slice Christianity, it teaches that this natural material realm is utterly meaningless in the scope of the Godly supernatural realm. Just look at these New Testament passages:
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" [Col 3:2 NIV]
"There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another" [1 Cor 15:40 NIV]
"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" [2 Cor 5:1 NIV]
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." [2 Cor 4:18 NIV]
"those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away" [1 Cor 7:31 NIV]

All of this really has to do with this passage, quite possibly my favorite:
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? [1 Cor 1:20 NIV]
And yet it is the foolish knowledge of this world that has made everyone as happy and prosperous as we are. Cell phones, microwaves, medicine, medicine, medicine, and can I also mention medical technology... All foolish knowledge in God's realm.

And in Satan's realm as well, since it is all in passing. I guess the really foolish are those who buy into this nonsense of God and his arch-nemesis, the devil.

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Religion and Apologies

I have a simple question. Why must a Christian or a particulr Christian religious sect apologize for something they preach? That sounds like a simple enough question, doesn't it?

But when you look at the apology of Rev. Hagee regarding the Catholic Church, Barak Obama regarding Rev Wright, the Catholic Church regarding Jews and WWII; and I should add the non (missing) apologies of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell regarding their "blame America first" excuse for the 9/11 attacks. You see a pattern. That pattern is that the apologies ring hollow, and missing apologies ring sincere. There is no apology for Christian doctrine. There cannot be. Just like Rev. Wright meant what he said, so did Jerry Falwell (along with Pat Robertson's agreement), Rev. Hagee, etc. They were not just "spouting off" they were saying things which are central to their Christian beliefs. They believe that of course the gays and the abortionists are responisble for 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. They view those as sins. So how can they take them back and apologize? They cannot.

The same is true for Hagee and his comments about the Catholic Church. According to his religious beliefs, it is the "great whore."

So are these people denying their core Christian doctrines? That would certainly be hard to do and yet remain true to their faith. It must, therefore, be talking out of the side of their mouths -- lying. For you cannot claim that you believe something to be absolutely true and recorded as such in the bible, then turn around and claim that you misspoke or said something that is more emotionally charged than based upon biblical teachings. For that makes no sense. You cannot have it both ways, telling everyone that morality is clear and absolute and defined in the bible, then turn around and say that you said something that you claimed was in the bible, but now apologize for because it isn't true.

I think what we see in reality is this: Preachers (et al) believe that the bible is true and their teachings are correct, but that they must be kept within the confines of the faithful. Once they make it out into the larger public, they must be denied. In other words, the public cannot handle the truth.

This means that there is some sort of disconnect between reality and biblical Truth. To most anyone, that disconnect begins and ends with reality.

[The irony is that this whole situation is a deep-seated throwback to pre-Christian religion precursors known as the "Mystery Religions"; Religious sects amazingly similar to Christianity in their views and details and who held that their most sacred religious truths had to be kept secret except for those few initiated into the inner sanctum. Sound familiar?]

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Family Research Council Loses it Over McDonalds

As you may have guessed, I am on the mailing list of many, many Christian organizations. I rarely ever discuss them. But this one from the Family Research Council absolutely takes the cake. No. This one takes the cake, imprisons the baker, shuts down all the flour and sugar refineries, and burns all wheat and sugar cane fields...

So why are they all pissed off at hamburger pusher, McDonald's? Let's see:
Sadly, McDonald's is now financing attacks on marriage and the family as a new Corporate Partner of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

The NGLCC promotes businesses owned by homosexuals, but it also pushes the homosexual political agenda in statehouses, courthouses, and the halls of Congress. Thought crime ("hate crime") laws, homosexual and transgender "civil rights" preferences, and domestic partner benefits are top-priority issues of the NGLCC.

So I guess now families of Christians are not allowed to eat at McDonald's because MickeyD's allows gays to work there and have, you know, lives. So now gays cannot even be allowed to work and eke out a most meager living working at McDonald's and should just all be unemployed and starve to death because of their gayness. And a company that looks out for all its employees equally is a bad thing because well, I guess because all gays should just waste away and die from being denied any life or employment.

I suppose that's true Christian love for you: Be unemployed and die you filthy fags!

Of course the saving grace to all this: No one, not even the most ardent Christian will stop eating at McDonald's. So not only is this latest FRC notice stupid, it is completely butt-assed ignorant stupid.

Note: The entire release by the FRC is below:

McDonald's is funding homosexual activism--and I'm NOT lovin' it!

May 5, 2008 Refer a Friend
Apparently, serving McFlurries and Big Macs to the public is no longer enough to satisfy the hunger of McDonald's to make a cultural impact on the United States. Sadly, McDonald's is now financing attacks on marriage and the family as a new Corporate Partner of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

The NGLCC promotes businesses owned by homosexuals, but it also pushes the homosexual political agenda in statehouses, courthouses, and the halls of Congress. Thought crime ("hate crime") laws, homosexual and transgender "civil rights" preferences, and domestic partner benefits are top-priority issues of the NGLCC.

Richard Ellis, Vice President of Communications for McDonald's, was recently named to the Board of Directors of the NGLCC. In a press release, the NGLCC praised Ellis for his "vast Board experience with LGBT and advocacy related organizations." It's alarming that the overseer of McDonald's advertising campaigns directly geared toward families will now be a leader in the NGLCC's campaign to weaken traditional values.

The NGLCC's efforts on behalf of homosexuality threaten the family, the definition of marriage and the very religious freedom we hold so dear.

Here are two effective action steps you can take to get McDonald's back on course:

1) Sign the attached petition to McDonald's Chairman Andrew J. McKenna. FRC will compile the names and signatures and deliver them to McDonald's at their corporate headquarters.

2) Print out the attached flyer (Click here to download a PDF of the flyer) and bring it to your local McDonald's restaurant. Ask to see the manager, give him or her the flyer, and respectfully request that he or she notify the corporate offices that customers are upset about this policy. We ask that you NOT attempt to post the flyer in the restaurant, hand it out to customers, or put it on windshields in the parking lot--just bring it to the manager. Be polite, of course (the manager probably is not even aware of this new corporate policy). DO print additional copies of the flyer and give them to your friends, however, and ask them to take them to the local restaurant manager as well.

McDonald's has enjoyed enormous success providing affordable food to billions of people; it should resist the temptation to play politics with its business. Thank you for taking action, and may God bless you.

McDonald's is funding homosexual activism--and I'm NOT lovin' it!

Sincerely,Tony Perkins

McDonald's has thrived on selling an array of affordable products to American families. Please forward this email to your family and friends and urge them to sign this petition to get this American-grown company back on track.

I have a truly hard time putting into words just how vile, disgusting and immoral these people are. The irony is that these vile and disgusting people are perfectly free to individually and as groups hate on and demonize anyone they like; they are free to go to their churches and pray to their gods that all gays suffer under torture for all eternity, they are free to express their hatred in whatever manner they desire as individuals and groups and churches, they are free to live their lives in whatever manner they desire. But they turn around and claim that those who disagree with them have no rights whatsoever to enjoy those same freedoms they do. That is beneath contempt. Any Christian who claims to be a patriotic American and believe in the Constitution and "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" should be fully ashamed of these Christian groups.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Evolution, Expelled, Christianity, and Hitler

Over at Pharyngula, PZ posted this:

Now here's the thing, the world is a complicated place, it always has been. Then Ben Stein comes along and claims in his mock-u-mentary that "Darwinism" led to Hitler and Nazism. But something kept digging at my brain about this statement.

I finally came to realize just what it is. The same is true for Christianity as well, but not in the murder millions sense. Ben Stein claims that the concept of Darwinism (i.e. natural selection) gives rise to the social intent (purpose) of selecting races/groups/slivers of humanity as being superior and thus all others in need of extermination. But this is a social construct, and is utilized in many ways (again I will stress without the brutal murder and war). Christianity claims exactly the same thing as is applied to Hitler and Nazism as we see so clearly in Expelled.

What I mean is this: Look at Christianity as a religion and as a social movement. Christianity proclaims that it is an outgrowth and progression of the ancient Hebrew religion and is superior to all other religions. Christians actively spread out via missionaries to spread the good news of Jesus and convert all non-Christians to Christianity. That is exactly the same argument used against Hitler, and by extension evolution. In the case of Hitler, this Darwinistic natural selection is evil and proves why evolution is bad, but in the case of Christianity, this very same Darwinistic natural selection is good.

I can only conclude that science and Darwin had it just right all along. "Darwinism" spreads good and evil without conscience. If I were coming from the perspective of a Christian, that is. In which case I would have to thank Darwin and his natural selection for giving Christianity the exact tool to spread Christianity. For without natural selection, then it would be impossible for Christians to figure out a way to propagate their message.

This at least makes as much sense as Ben Stein does.

The reality is, "Darwinism" has nothing more to do with the spread of Christianity than it does Nazism and the holocaust. For to condemn "Darwinism" for Hitler's actions is the same as to blame the spread of Christianity on "Darwinism".

I have finally figured out that the spread of Christianity is exactly like, and completely analogous to the horror of Hitler and his extermination of Jews -- If "Darwinism" is used as the tool. In one case you have a superior race exterminating its inferior enemies, and in the other you have a superior religion extermininating its inferior religions. This is Ben Stein's folly: The holocaust is just as reliant upon "Darwinism" as is Christianity. And from the standpoint of Christians, this therefore cannot be all bad....

..or maybe, just maybe, reality and the actual theory of evolution has absolutely nothing to do with either, and this whole argument found in Expelled is total smoke and mirrors.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

On A Personal Note

I offer these videos soley as a personal feeling..

Toni Braxton.

Celine Dion.

And of course, Elvis Presley.

Fortunately I have not lost my loved one, but I am missing her, more than I ever thought possible. I long for the return of Ms. Jeffperado.


Is Christianity a Dictatorship?

As I have pointed out many times in the past, there are a huge number of problems with the theology and logic of Christianity. The theology I focus on is the particulars of the bible and the logic is the practice of Christianity. My blog is dedicated to these things.

But today I have to approach a question that is so central to the idea of Christianity that it is not even considered by Christians, just openly accepted. That is, Is Christianity a dictatorship? I ask this because of an essay that Joseph Chambers wrote over at Rapture Ready. In it he was disparaging Catholicism, but he added this statement:
The Catholic view of both the political world and the church is that of a dictatorship rather than a democracy. They brag about their One World views and international monopoly of their contingencies, but their dictatorial and dogmatic approach has always squashed any private views or open debate. [emphasis mine]
Now I have to wonder, is Christianity (or Catholicism, for that matter) really a dictatorship or a democracy? For all I can see, if Christianity were a democracy, then it would be a majority rules situation. And since the majority of Christians happen to be human, then it would be entirely in the hands of humans to decide. Thus if a majority of human Christians decided that abortion and birth control were ok, then the Christian religion would thusly say it is ok. We know, however, that this is not the case. The last word does not come from human majority (i.e. democracy) but from on-high. That is Christianity is a pure dictatorship. Now what if that godly dictator set up a human surrogate (let us call this person, "the pope"), would not this person also have dictatoral powers? If God commanded His own authority within one person, the pope, then would that not constitute a dictatorship?

Then who is Joseph Chambers to argue against God Himself?

That is what I want to know. I say this because the pope has just as much biblical mandate as does Joseph to claim dictatorship. But what is really interesting is that somehow, in some biblical re-interpretation, Christians are magically transformed into a democracy, when every last word of God and law of God claims the exact opposite. God is the ruler, and God rules with an iron fist; so strong, in fact, that if one violates His laws here on earth, that person is eternally punished without any possibility of redemption. That is dictatorship at its extreme.

But just what does this say about our human endeavors into democracy and dictatorship? Shouldn't we all follow in God's model, if we are a God-fearing peoples?

Maybe I should turn this question over to the good folks of Christian Exodus....

Meanwhile, here is the return of the south's version of John Lennon..

Yes, I know Dolly is cheese, but her video, and interpretation of Lennon's song, is particularly powerful, if you ignore her person.

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Nature of God is it Defined by Humans?

Jason Rosenhouse over at Evolutionblog has a very interesting post up regarding theistic evolution. I highly recommend that you read it. I'm not going to summarize it here. I am really only interested in his money-quote:
People like Ayala, Miller and Conway Morris are surely among the best theistic evolution has to offer, yet their arguments represent the crassest sort of desperation and special pleading. Ayala's argument for why evolution resolves the problem of evil is afflicted with obvious holes. (Lest you think that the Times article was too short for him to develop his argument seriously, let me assure you this is not the case. I have read his book, and he does not provide any additional illumination there.) Miller's argument is based on an obviously false premise, and even taken it at face value does not explain why Darwinian evolution specifically had to be the mechanism through which God created. Conway Morris' argument is almost certainly false biologically, but even leaving that aside it leaves us in no better position theologically than the ID folks. If we can not explain why God directly creates nasty creatures, we also can not
explain why he sets in motion a process that inevitably leads to nasty creatures. [Again, read Rosenhouse's article for this quote's context]

The tangent he presents here is what I am interested in. I rarely discuss theology here (I prefer the cold hard testimony found in the bible as the basis for my philosophical discussions and reasons to not believe in God.) But theology here is what is in question, and I think it is a very interesting question. The question is all about the nature of God. From the bible we are privy to many human-filtered aspects of God's nature; He is all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, jealous, vengeful, just, and above all perfectly moral (but only because he is defined that way -- or should I say that morality is solely defined against the background of what God considers moral). Thus when we come across passages in the bible such as this: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." [Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)]

If we define God to be all good and all moral, then it must be moral for God to create evil. This is the loophole that is used by all theistic evolutionists which Rosenhouse is discussing. He nails the root of the problem that whether God directly created nasty and vile things, or just set up the process which would lead to nasty and vile things is no different. In a weak analogy, it would be like a car designer actively causing a cars brakes to fail by cutting the brake lines, or passively causing the brakes to fail by designing the brakes to eventually wear out, but do nothing to inform the car-owner of this defect. In both cases the brakes fail and the driver is injured.

So what we really have here is a question about the nature of God. We have the creationists on one side who claim god created everything exactly as it is, and on the other we have theistic evolutionists who claim that God set in motion a process which would lead to humans and nasty and vile things. But both have the clear problem that God created evil and sin and nastiness and suffering. This was Rosenhouse's point.

I would like to build on that and step ever-so-lightly into the realm of theology. Clearly the bible and Christianity define the nature of God. Those are our only sources for what the nature of God is. We certainly cannot determine the nature of God from independent sources. Nature and our (humanity's) own personal experiences cannot ascertain God's nature, because of the simple fact that we can never intersect with God. The only way to know the nature of God is what He intentionally reveals to us through super-natural interactions. The only problem with this, is the we (humanity) and nature have no means with which to filter this information, for we have no access to the supernatural; we have no knowledge of the rules and "nature" of the supernatural. All we have is nature itself.

This leads inevitably to two possible conclusions. The first is that religion (Christianity) must, by default, re-interpret the nature of God via the nature of humanity. Thus God is defined by human terms and given human characteristics. The second is that if the supernatural is undefinable because its rules and nature are by definition, unknowable, then it cannot be determined in any sense to be real or imagined. That is the exact definition of agnosticism. (As a side note, then atheism would be defined as saying that anything that is unknowable is not real until it can be shown to be real -- in other words atheism is the simple rejection of the existence of anything that cannot be proven real.)

I am interested solely in the first proposition. That God is supernatural and His nature is defined in the only way possible, via human terms and knowledge and experience. Thus any conception of God is a product of the incomplete knowledge and experience of humanity. I think it is then obvious to say that God can only exist in the natural realm because of humans. Humans place upon god their very own qualities and characteristics. Humanity knows of power, knowledge, justice, compassion, hatred, violence, meekness, and fealty. Thus those are the very qualities that humanity bestows upon their god. Humanity's god(s) is (are) simply super-sized expressions of humanity's own characteristics. In fact there are no qualities bestowed upon God (any god) which are completely non-present within humanity.

This, to me, is the most fascinating (and shall I say, damning) aspect of God; either God is severely limiting only to humanistic qualities, or there exists no qualities beyond the grasp of humanity. In other words, God is nothing but a "super-sized" human. God's qualities are all the perfections of all human characteristics. God can kill in a more perfect way than humanity, God can save in a more perfect way than humans. god is more powerful, more knowing, etc. But then have we not defined just what the supernatural is?

If the supernatural realm in which God resides is simply a drastic expansion of the qualities of the natural, then we are left with a clear theological problem. The supernatural realm cannot possess qualities with which we have counterpart. For example, time must be drastically expanded in the supernatural. But this leads to a real problem. Just like the problem of God being all good, but by default God has to allow evil to exist, God is all-powerful, but he does not have the power to simple will the devil out of existence. There is a limit to God's infinite powers. There must also be a limit to time. Again, this is all because we have seen that everything in the natural realm is greatly expanded in the supernatural realm if there is to be a supernatural realm at all. Also there can be nothing in the supernatural which isn't also represented in the natural realm, because we would be helpless to grasp it at all. Thus time itself must exist in the supernatural. And like power and goodness, it has its limits as well.

This means one thing. Time had to begin in the supernatural just as it did in the natural. It also means that God is a slave to time just as we are.

Thus: If we attribute to God qualities which we have as humans, and we have to limit those powers of God because if the powers of God were unlimited, then the natural world would not look like it does (and that is our only possible evidence at all). Then all attributes we give over to God must be similarly limited. But this means God is also a slave to time as well. God cannot be infinitely old. God had to have a beginning. This is certainly true in the same way other qualities of God are so limited. But if God had a beginning, then he had a cause too. Maybe that is the super-supernatural realm. I.e. the god that God worships.

But here is the crux. God by godly-constraint, has to allow evil and nasty things to exist, and He had to create them because He is the creator of all. God had to do this because he had to give humans free-will to choose between good and evil. They could not have free will if there was no choice to make. Thus God is responsible directly and absolutely for all the nastiness and evil and vile things. This is the blight on the supernatural chacter of God. For that is not all-good. The alternative is that humans do not have free will. Then the case is that either all humans go to heaven becuase they had no freedom of will to do evil, or those that did evil were specifically designed by God to be evil humans condemned to eternity in hell. In the second case God is a monster who deserves no respect and is completely deviod of even the most basic morals of humanity. In the first case, God created beings who are irrelevant, their lives have no meaning whether they are mother Theresa or Adolf Hitler.

If God created evil and allows free will, then the morality of the will is dependant on humanity, not on God, because God is just as limited and flawed as all humanity, just on a magnified scale.

See how confusing that all is when you want to bring the supernatural into the natural, especially when you can only claim to know about the supernatural those things which you already know about the natural.

Isn't it all much simpler when you only pay attention to those things which you can know and determine? That being the purely natural world. And that world has no god.

[Update:] As an analogy, suppose you are an American. You live by all the rules of America. You are well informed of the culture and livelihood of America. Now you come across an obvious foreigner. That person also abides by all the rules and laws of America. You also learn that that person has lived in America since their onset of adulthood. But you are unconvinced. You want to research that person. You find that that person has never been arrested, and in fact, has been a part of catching the bad guys in America. You would judge that person to be just and moral by the rules and laws of America. But heres the thing, you do not know his country of origin, you do not know if that person is a criminal in that country at all. You have no idea what the laws and morality of that country is, so you has no means to judge or determine the goodness of that person based on the rules and laws of his country of origin. You only have the powers and knowledge of your own country. That is God. We can only judge him and evaluate him based on our own knowledge and experience. And that means that we have an independent means and method with which to judge God. Thus god is subject to our rules and knowledge and experience. Not the other way around. That means we have no need for a God in the first place. So not only do we have no way of knowing if he really exists, we do not need him in the first place.

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