Mark: Adam had the intelligence of an infant or maybe an animal until he ate from the Tree of Knowledge, no? How is he to be blamed for disobeying God? He was simply not capable of differing right from wrong yet. And my raising this objection is not a problem when we're discussing the internal consistency of the Christian story. Then the ethical norms in question are the Christian ones
KP: It doesn't follow that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant that prior to that Adam had no knowledge of what is right. If you pay attention to the context and the literary cues, it's clear that eating from the tree was tantamount to Adam and Eve deciding for themselves what was good and evil as opposed to submitting to God. This is why, for example, the formula "And God saw that it was good..." is repeated in the first chapter and then in Chapter 3 the transgression is preceded by the words "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food...." Prior to this God alone saw what was good but the nature of the transgression was that man autonomously determined what was good for himself. That's the nature of sin.
Mark: Why does God impose it as a law that his creation should obey him like a dictator?
KP: Do you find that morally objectionable? And if so, on what basis?
Mark: KP, yes very much so. God creates us without asking our permission then plays dictator on us. He has no right to do that
KP: No right? What moral authority are you basing that judgment on? If all that exists are matter, motion, time, and chance, then there are no objective moral rules are there?
Mark: God's own moral norms. Oppression is not good
KP: You assume that God's law binds him in exactly the same manner that it does humans but this is not in keeping with biblical teaching. For example, God commands us not to steal but how is it possible for God to steal when all that he has made belongs to him?
Mark: OK, stealing example is nice but it doesn't fit to the problem of oppression.
KP: Biblically speaking it is not oppressive for God to demand obedience of those created for his purposes. So again, no internal contradiction. You just find it oppressive because you don't like it but that's hardly an argument against it.
Mark: That's true I don't like it. It sounds like oppression to me and I think it is. He is going to burn half human kind in hell. If that is not oppression then what is?
KP: What's wrong with oppression of any kind? Let's not just limit it to the question of God. If evolution is true, as you have said it is, then isn't oppression natural and amoral? Survival of the fittest, you know.
Mark: Oppression is wrong because you violate another person's rights.
Mark: Rights are something that exist within a state
KP: Oh, so rights are conferred by the state?
KP: Are you pro-choice?
KP: If the state were to pass anti-abortion laws, would you still argue that a woman has the right to choose?
Mark: Uhm, yes.
KP: But if rights are conferred by the state, then women wouldn't have that right, would they? So you'd be arguing that women have a right that is not granted by the state.
Mark: OK, you have a point.
KP: So you don't really believe that all rights are conferred by the government, do you?
Mark: I guess not.
KP: You really believe that people have inherent rights. Would that be fair?
Mark: We have to believe that.
KP: But this poses another problem for your atheistic philosophy. For, given your view of things, there are no such things as rights. There is only the natural world but no transcendent origin of rights. So again I ask you, what do you mean when you refer to rights and how do they cohere in an atheistic framework?
Mark: You are right there. We have to accept rights without asking of an account of their origin.
KP: No, I don't. You do. So, you live as though such things as intrinsic rights exist even though you know they have no rational basis. Another dissonance that leads me to reject atheism.
Mark: There must be another way other than accepting theism
KP: Wishful thinking. Why MUST there be another way?
Mark: Because theism just doesn't make sense
KP: So far it has made a whole lot more sense than atheism. It has provided the necessary presuppositions for such things as ethics, science, rationality, etc.
Mark: I think if theism were true atheism wouldn't exist at all because theism's truth would be obvious to all
KP: Again, you overlook the effects of a little word called sin.
(At this point, someone else asked Mark if he felt the same way about atheism. In other words, if atheism was so obvious, why would there be theists.)
Mark: No, atheism's truth is not that obvious
KP: But you said it was obvious that there is no God. That's how this conversation started. You said it was obvious that god-belief was made up.
Mark: When you consider the problem of evil and the biblical stories that sound like myths, then yes.
KP: Now you say atheism isn't that obvious? We've dealt with the problem of evil and you've conceded that there is no necessary logical inconsistency.
KP: The pendulum is swinging. Atheism is obvious and not obvious at the same time.
Mark: But still some things don't sound right to me. A good God wouldn't let innocent people suffer even if the Fall happened. God would forgive that sin of Adam's. What was God doing before he created the universe anyway? I can't imagine a God sitting in eternity without doing anything then suddenly deciding to create a universe to play with.
KP: Some of the most ardent atheistic philosophers have acknowledged that the so-called logical problem of evil is no longer a problem with the addition of another proposition: "God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil he allows." Now, unless you can demonstrate that God has no such morally sufficient reason, then your objections are pointless.
KP: Is your inability to conceive of something evidence that it is not or cannot be true?
Mark: OK, then I step back on the problem of evil.
KP: Good move