• God Cannot Be Perfect Because Perfect Does Not Make Sense

    I am reposting this article as it is relevant to a recent post on Justin Schieber’s non-God objects argument:

    So in a recent post I was talking about how God, prior to creation (at least according to classical interpretations of God based on the Ontological Argument), had ontological perfection. That is to say, he was in a perfect state of being (since this is built into the definition of God). The argument followed that, in creating the world, God would be either lacking something and thus having a need, which is incoherent with ontological perfection, or he was downgrading his perfect state in the process of creating this world.

    Now, this argument is all good and well, and it certainly assumes the classical understanding of God in being ontologically perfect in every way. However, this post is going to look at the idea that any such argument for or against God does not really get off the ground since it is contingent upon the idea of perfection being logically coherent as an intrinsic value and characteristic. This, I am afraid, is wrong. One cannot make this assumption because perfection, as a stand-alone conceptual characteristic to ascribe to anything, is nonsensical.

    I can only understand perfect as a goal-directed adjective such that A is perfect for B, or this catapult is perfect for getting this stone over the wall in such and such a manner. Now, one could say that God is perfect at being God, but this implies an infinite regress or circularity. What does it really mean to say that God is perfect? Is he perfect at getting a stone over the wall? Perfect at being loving, merciful and just; at being prefect, designing and moral?

    Even establishing what a prefect painting is, is an entirely subjective process, depending upon personal tastes. And this applies to all sorts of things such that perfection becomes either subjective or incoherent. Being perfectly powerful and knowledgeable are admittedly simpler proficiencies to hold, conceptually.

    The other problem is that perfection of a being involves multiple aspects such that, as the classic problem goes, God cannot be perfectly just AND perfectly merciful since to be perfectly just assumes punishing justly for a misdemeanour, and to be perfectly merciful assumes some kind of leniency.

    With all of these characteristics which conflict, the theist retreats to maximal perfection, a sort of optimal scenario given all of the nuances and variables. But this becomes arbitrary and subjective. One more ounce of mercy and one less ounce of justice might be perfect for a God wanting to achieve A, but vice versa might be better for wanting to achieve B.

    Therefore, we need to establish, without circularity or incoherence, what God is to be perfect FOR, before establishing whether God is or can be perfect. To have a timeless God sitting there and label it as perfect is, to me, meaningless (as a stand-alone descriptor).

    Therefore, and given the subjective nature of appraisals of perfection, I see any argument using the term perfection as incoherent.

    Category: God's CharacteristicsPhilosophical Argument Against GodPhilosophy of Religion

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

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    • Achrachno

      And I see arguments relying on the word “God” as incoherent because that word remains undefined/undescribed as an object. What is perfect? What created the universe and daisies? Combining our positions, we can conclude that discussions about “perfect God” are doubly incoherent, if such a thing is possible.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        I think doubly incoherent is apt. Especially given the idea that the trinity is three entities which are same same but different. So that’s triple incoherent…

    • Humans are imperfect so how would we even recognize perfection, like a god’s perfection? We wouldn’t. Humanity’s imperfection would precluded us from recognizing perfection like that of gods.

      • Jack M.

        If you’re so imperfect, why do you trust yourself to know you’re imperfect?

        • So are you saying that I’m “perfect.’ Cool. I’ll let my wife, daughter and employer and clients know that.

          • Jack M.

            Not perfect in any objective sense. But yes, perfect for the purpose of yourself. Which is to say that for that purpose, you can’t be improved upon.

          • Jack M.

            And it likely wouldn’t hurt if you saw your wife, employer and clients in the same way.

    • Jack M.

      Isn’t it true that in the same way that nothing is “perfect” except for a purpose, nothing is “good” or “bad” except for a purpose?

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        This is a really good point for a number of reasons. Firstly, it shows that many people pick and choose their philosophy from the top and work down rather than from the bottom and build up. For example, look at free will. They want free will and start with that conclusion and then create philosophies to defend that position. Actually, people usually start with morality; because of this conclusion of philosophy, they often go on to try and establish free will (through compatibilism) and so on.

        However, what should happen is that people should build up their philosophy from the bottom up. What is the ontology of existence? What are particles, laws and abstracta made from? In this way, the rest of philosophy fits together coherently with the foundational bricks upon which it is built.

        Back to the point in hand – morality. Well, if one is a nominalist or conceptualist about abstract entities, then moral laws, unless one wants to special plead, would appear not to exist objectively. In line with my understanding of abstracta, I adhere to a sort of moral nihiism. There is no objective good or bad.

        However, it is not as simple as that. I believe that there is good and bad based on goal-oriented morality using sound minds, a good education and logic. Logic seems to me some kind of axiomatic entity which underlies maths and philosophy. The ontology of logic WOULD be an interesting debate.

        So I would claim that, given a consequentialist goal, and given sound use of logic and mind, humanity would universally agree whether an act was morally good or bad. This I would call universal moral subjectivism. It looks like objective morality, but it would exist in the individual minds as a universal consensus. The morality of an action would be derived from the empirically derived benefits to others. Obviously, this is not for the scope of this page, but your point is valid. Any abstract ideal comes under the spotlight.

        Something like that, anyway!

        • Jack M.

          The psychological experience of knowing there is no objective morality is a feeling of complete freedom from self-suspicion. It’s a confession of invulnerable integrity. The same freedom nature herself enjoys. The freedom to be exactly the way one happens to be. It’s as simple as that for me.

          • Jonathan MS Pearce

            Interesting. A psychological approach to morality as opposed to the same tired philosophical ones!

            You are obviously saying that we shouldn’t do A or B? That there is no should?

            Or do you accept that we build up a morality of shoulds, but these have no objective ontology?

            • Jack M.

              Is there any way nature should be? Is there anything nature should or shouldn’t do?

              If not, then how does one exempt oneself from nature’s virtue-less innocence?

              We can make believe we’re exempt, but that requires a suspension of critical thinking.

              Why would one want to make believe such a thing?

              Perhaps that’s the main question. What is it about making believe one can be against oneself that’s attractive? Is it that to admit to virtue-less innocence is to forswear virtue?

            • Daydreamer1

              I’d approach it like this. We cannot exempt ourselves from reality. We cannot exempt ourselves from causal chains. We cannot exempt ourselves from our biology.

              Morality, its history, and the differences between cultures and individuals results from those three.

              People make their own mind up, but they do it in the context of their culture and group, which will always judge them.

              Morality would be radically different if people didn’t mind being harmed, but we all do. There are types of consensual harm though and we do see the grey area we would expect to see if morality is predominantly emerging from our relationship with physical reality. Condoms change the ethics regarding sex for example, by changing the physical consequences. The BDSM community has moral codes developed around consensual non-permanent harm and respect for psychology, but with consensuality at the fore. We accept dangerous sports, but still weigh the moral issues regarding the risk of physical injury, and we do the same for dangerous jobs.

              This is all shockingly obvious. The only time you ever see this muddled up and confused is where someone is trying to inject magical thinking that doesn’t work well and often creates odd situations and punishes things that people are enjoying and not hurting each other.

              This has real consequences for the churches though. In many countries people, and especially the young, are voting with their feet. The two big reasons as far as I can tell are science and morality. If this is not the core of why religions are failing morally then it is close to it.

              – Actually, as a second thought I think the injection of narrative into moral code is also a primary factor, although people have not het had their consciousness raised on the subject. Once you move away from the actual consequences of our actions and towards valuing how our actions relate to stories it opens up a world of trouble that risks (and often causes) realworld harm. It sometimes amazes me that absolutists, who I have some sympathy for in the sense of the search for a real and true right and wrong, have gone down the one path where there is a massive amount of relativism and yet fail to see it. This situation where every culture is injecting its stories into morality has to be one of the biggest curses on human existence. It has causes unimaginable suffering. But the key is that having a story based morality means that as the story changes, as it is re-interpreted, morality changes. It is a huge source of relativism. Our actions result in changes to the physical world, and so our next actions often need to be different. Our understanding grows, and so our actions need to be different. But the goal of reducing suffering, increasing happiness, increasing warmth, decreasing hunger – these needn’t change. Our brains and bodies do not change that quickly, so the attractor – the point that a moral code aims at – is not changing that quickly. We can reach it, but if we also try and aim at changing stories then we get pulled in so many directions that the end result is that we miss the real moral goals in an attempt to reach a compromise with the stories. By any definition of moral that I would use that is an unethical moral system.

    • im-skeptical

      As I understand it, some of the axioms of Thomistic theism are “Goodness is being”, “Being is perfection”, etc. They argue that since God is simple (composed of no parts), he is perfectly good. And thus he is perfection itself. To me, these things don’t relate to reality in a meaningful way. If I argue that God must not be perfect because he needed to create the universe, They say I just don’t understand – actually it was meant to be all along. So how do you argue with a Thomist?

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        Well, this is what is claimed by pretty much most theists, I assume Thomists included:

        Before time existed (ie in one moment), god was perfect such that God had ontological perfection. He had no needs or desires as this represents a lacking. Yet God created the world perfectly and:

        foreknowledgeably allowed evil and suffering to exist when it did not
        created a world which required , at times, almost constant intervention
        required him to sacrifice himself to himself to sit on his own right hand
        designed and created humanity imperfectly
        all the other problem of evil scenarios etc etc

        With regards to perfection as being, one has to describe what is the thing that is being. In order to have characteristics or in order to be labelled God and not Not-God, God must have properties. It seems, whether he has any ‘parts’ or not, God has a complex set of properties, and these properties must be explicable within the confines of non-spatio-temporal existence and then subsequently within that framework. Of course, questions are raised when many of the properties are personified ones which only seem coherent within a corporeal existence. He certainly had abstract parts!

        Now, since the universe is the direct opposite: limited and full of parts, then this cannot be part of perfection. I argued the incoherency of creating here:
        http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/09/03/argument-against-a-perfect-being-creating-the-world/

        If it was ‘meant to be all along’ then that means that either:
        1) this is perfection now, and there is nothing that is conceivably more perfect, especially given that God is perfect and perfectly chooses and he chose to actualise this universe
        2) God, prior to creation, still had a need to create, thus meaning he did not have ontological perfection

        • im-skeptical

          Thanks for your input.

          • Jonathan MS Pearce

            It was a bit garbled. Sorry – I had toddlers running around my feet…

            • Daydreamer1

              Isn’t it looking more and more like this ‘before time existed’ stance is pretty poorly founded?

              Stephen Hawking in A brief History of Time (I only point this out because it is an old book now and yet the point was then) stated that the singularity occurred in relativity, but that they knew that QM would prevent it.

              QM prevents the universe becoming infinitely small and so prevents the singularity. You get down to the Planck length and that is it.
              All the hypothesis I have read speak about time before the universe. For example Brane theory hypothesizes two sets of 3 dimensions and 1 of time. Multiverse hypothesis have a bulk space that contains many, perhaps an infinite number, of universes and still a time dimension.

              I did like one description in the Elegant Universe that described how in a multiverse as a result of relativity the views of an observer within a bubble universe and an observer outside looking down onto a universe would be different. From the outside looking down you’d see a bubble filled with galaxies, but you would perceive the spatial dimensions of the multiverse along with an infinite time dimension and look down on a bubble of finite size and age. From within the bubble you would perceive the infinite time dimension of the external multiverse as an infinite spatial dimension within the bubble universe.
              Even if I have that wrong I recommend the book ;)

              Either way (and especially if we add in dimensional phase changes and the ability for spatial dimensions to swap with time dimensions – and the possibility of pockets of spacetime to have multiple time dimensions) theology when it speaks about ‘no time before the universe’ or the ‘creation of time’ starts to look a lot like Newtonian physics in an Einsteinian world.

              And statements like ‘God is timeless’ and ‘God existed before time’ start to look a lot like ‘the great dragon soared over the thundering mountain’.

    • JohnM

      What God? Are you aiming at God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob once again? ;)

      In that case, your definition of perfect, makes no sense to me.

      According to the bible, God is perfect, in the sense that he has no flaws. Like a perfectly cut diamond. The bible often makes use of such terms such as: God is light, and there is not darkness in him. And : God is holy, and there is no evil in him. So perfect means without flaws. Holy without sin.

      And Sin means lack of perfection. A flaw. We sin because we lack perfection. We are not holy. We do what is evil. We walk in darkness. We are not perfect as God. We are all sinners.

      ——

      As for moral nihilism, I don’t really get it. I can see that it is coherent with a materialistic world-view. But I don’t see that it is coherent with reality.

      I can think of several instances where it would be beneficial to the survival of ones own genes, to rape people. And we see it all over the animal kingdom. Even among flock/herd animals, such as lions and guerillas. But I can think of no instance, where it would be morally acceptable for humans, to do so.

      Rape just is wrong. And even if society somehow decided that “it’s perfectly OK to rape the local females”, then it would still be wrong, regardless of what laws society passed. Because rape is taking something that is good / beautiful, and turning it into something that is violent and just downright evil. Rape is a flawed and dark form of sexuality, a perversion of something beautiful. Rape just is, objectively wrong.

      ——

      As for God downgrading his perfect state in the process of creating this world, I don’t really follow that one. According to the bible, God did not create this world. He created the Garden of Eden. And he saw that it was good. We do not live in the garden of Eden. We live post fall.

      “Why did God give us free will?”

      Because he didn’t want us to be robots.

      Would you like a robot dog yourself? – “Hello master. I am your pre-programmed robo-dog. I’m programmed to love you. My programming tells me, to be very happy that you are home.”

      “Why didn’t God create a world without sin?”

      He did. And he saw that it was good. – Repeated several times in genesis
      Sin entered into the world, after creation, though man. – Romans 5:12

      “Why didn’t he just get rid of it then?”

      You can’t just get rid of sin. Sin is a flaw, like a flaw in what was a perfect diamond. It’s kinda hard to make it perfect again, once it has gone wrong. You have to start over.

      In the same way, if you want to eradicate evil, then you have to exterminate all sources of evil. Humans are a noticeable source of evil. You can’t just get rid of all other evil, and leave fallen humans be.

      After sin had entered the world, though man, God basically had 2 options. 1: Eradicate evil, including all sources of evil, AKA humans. Or 2: let evil be evil for a while, while trying to save the patient. And God choose to try and save us, with his special rescue mission.

      “Jesus came and went. Why is there still evil in the world?”

      Because God is not done. He’s still patiently waiting, thereby giving us more time to repent and accept his rescue plan, before this world is judged and destroyed, with all wickedness in it.

      And it will be followed by a new kingdom, populated by the people who accepted his rescue plan. A kingdom, where death and sin will not be found.

      “Could God have created us in any other way?”

      That’s a good question. I’m not sure that I have enough insight in Gods ways to answer that question.

      But I do know, that a wise man once said: It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

      And so, one can ask.. If this is the only possible world… Would it had been better, had God not created anything at all? Would it have been better, had you and I never existed?

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        What God? Are you aiming at God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob once again?
        In that case, your definition of perfect, makes no sense to me.
        According to the bible, God is perfect, in the sense that he has no flaws. Like a perfectly cut diamond. The bible often makes use of such terms such as: God is light, and there is not darkness in him. And : God is holy, and there is no evil in him. So perfect means without flaws. Holy without sin.
        And Sin means lack of perfection. A flaw. We sin because we lack perfection. We are not holy. We do what is evil. We walk in darkness. We are not perfect as God. We are all sinners.

        OK, what I am setting out is what you seem to be implying as well. It is best known as Perfect Being Theology for which Anselm was well known, though it can be applied to any God. Essentially the problem is this – can any value (great, perfect, great-making property~) ever be said to have intrinsic value or is all value extrinsic? You imply that God is flawless. This is EXACTLY what this post is about. It states that flawless (perfect) is meaningless devoid of a context – a goal orientation. Without offering a goal for something, it is meaningless to ascribe to is perfection.

        In other words, perfection is extrinsic, not intrinsic as PBT claims. For example, Let’s look at the claim “This cola is great”.

        OK, so you say that “this cola is great” imbues cola with some kind of intrinsic goodness What I say is this: “This cola is great, and it is so because it quenches my thirst”. This means that the great-making quality of this cola is that it quenches thirst. I have decided this because that is what I think makes it a great cola. Jimmy disagrees because he is allergic to this cola and it will kill him. He thinks another cola is great because it is bubblier. We disagree, but that is fine. We have different conceptual ideas as to what the great-making properties of cola are.

        On the other hand, you think “this cola is great” is a coherent statement since cola has inherent great-making qualities. However, though we may say “this cola is great” in real life and are understood, it is because most people understand the hidden external values (it tastes great, and great tasting things give me pleasure – utilitarian).

        Now take God, and replace cola with God. You think God is perfect (whatever version of God that is) but I say that God cannot be perfect unless you define what God is perfect FOR. God cannot be intrinsically perfect as that makes no sense.

        Thus, even to claim he has no flaws implies that he has a design FOR something since the flaws must be flaws in order to achieve x, y or z. This cola is flawed implies, for me, that it does not quench my thirst. Yet for Jimmy, it is great. Another cola might be flawed for him since it has less bubbles.

        Therefore, you must set out what these great-making properties are in order to elucidate whether they are intrinsic or not.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        As for moral nihilism, I don’t really get it. I can see that it is coherent with a materialistic world-view. But I don’t see that it is coherent with reality.
        I can think of several instances where it would be beneficial to the survival of ones own genes, to rape people. And we see it all over the animal kingdom. Even among flock/herd animals, such as lions and guerillas. But I can think of no instance, where it would be morally acceptable for humans, to do so.
        Rape just is wrong. And even if society somehow decided that “it’s perfectly OK to rape the local females”, then it would still be wrong, regardless of what laws society passed. Because rape is taking something that is good / beautiful, and turning it into something that is violent and just downright evil. Rape is a flawed and dark form of sexuality, a perversion of something beautiful. Rape just is, objectively wrong.

        I agree rape is wrong based on both the golden rule and utilitarian ethics. The question here becomes “What ontology does that wrong have?” By this I mean what does objective morality look like here? Does this abstract idea, that rape is morally wrong, this law, does it have properties? Where is this law situated? It is a much more deeply philosophical point than merely establishing whether rape is wrong. It is a question about existence properties, about abstract ideas, about universals, and what form they take.

        As for God downgrading his perfect state in the process of creating this world, I don’t really follow that one. According to the bible, God did not create this world. He created the Garden of Eden. And he saw that it was good. We do not live in the garden of Eden. We live post fall.

        OK, pretty much every theist seems to agree that God existed outside of spacetime.(Causally) Prior to the creation of the universe, God existed. based on ontological and classical understandings of God, if God exists, he is necessarily perfect. However, if he has ontological perfection, he has no needs, no desires – they do not fit into ontological perfection since they imply a lacking of some sort. However, from this perfect state, God created the world. Now the state of ontology has moved from perfection to, well it can’t be more perfection. So it has to either be perfection, or less perfection. It cannot be the same perfection, since it would be easy to conceive of a universe slightly more perfect than this one. That leaves us only one option – that God’s ontological perfection has decreased in the creation of the universe. Yet this is incoherent with the desires of a perfect God.
        “Why did God give us free will?”
        Because he didn’t want us to be robots.
        Would you like a robot dog yourself? – “Hello master. I am your pre-programmed robo-dog. I’m programmed to love you. My programming tells me, to be very happy that you are home.”

        Hmm. Gives us free will and then punishes us for using it. Kind of like giving a loaded gun to a two year old and then punching them when the gun goes off.

        “Why didn’t God create a world without sin?”
        He did. And he saw that it was good. – Repeated several times in genesis
        Sin entered into the world, after creation, though man. – Romans 5:12

        You miss the point. He created, with perfect foreknowledge of the end result, a world which he knew would eventualise sin. If he created the rules the parameters, and knew the consequences (sin) and STILL created, then he is morally responsible for the outcome.

        Imagine I created, in a lab, a sentient life form. I knew, before creating it, that it would run riot, create havoc, not do what I ‘intended’, break out of the lab, and kill 50 people – I knew this would happen and yet still created this life form, would I not be ULTIMATELY responsible for the outcome? I could have easily chosen not to do it…
        “Why didn’t he just get rid of it then?”
        You can’t just get rid of sin. Sin is a flaw, like a flaw in what was a perfect diamond. It’s kinda hard to make it perfect again, once it has gone wrong. You have to start over.

        I can conceive of this ability as being a great-making quality. As per the ontological argument, this could well, and should well, be a property of God. You are constraining God’s abilities here.

        In the same way, if you want to eradicate evil, then you have to exterminate all sources of evil. Humans are a noticeable source of evil. You can’t just get rid of all other evil, and leave fallen humans be.

        With perfect foreknowledge, don’t create them in the first place. Unless there is a greater good to come from it. In which case, God is a moral consequentialist and morality is not ultimately grounded in God. Checkmate.
        After sin had entered the world, though man, God basically had 2 options.

        This is silly. God did not have two options. God never has options. He is duty bound to take the most loving route. He also actualised this world, given all the knowledge of all the counterfactuals of every possible world, he still chose to produce this one. Therefore, it must be the most perfect choice. There is no better world we could live in – so if I were you, I would never complain again! His ‘choices’ came in the actualisation of the world. Though choice makes no sense atemporally, when God would have been ‘deciding’…

        1: Eradicate evil, including all sources of evil, AKA humans. Or 2: let evil be evil for a while, while trying to save the patient. And God choose to try and save us, with his special rescue mission.

        So let me get this right. Let’s analogise with my sentient beings created in the lab. I create them knowing they will cause a shit storm. They kill people, but hey, I knew that. I then punish these beings I have created (but it’s worse, since I have also created all the natural laws to which they adhere, and all morality, and… everything) who use their free will, but not in the way I WANT them. Having created them, the ones who annoy me, I punish for eternity for finite crimes, and the ones who please me, I reward infinitely for finite goods.

        “Jesus came and went. Why is there still evil in the world?”
        Because God is not done. He’s still patiently waiting, thereby giving us more time to repent and accept his rescue plan, before this world is judged and destroyed, with all wickedness in it.

        Who designs and creates something perfectly which needs a rescue plan?

        And it will be followed by a new kingdom, populated by the people who accepted his rescue plan. A kingdom, where death and sin will not be found.

        Why not create that in the first place with only the people who he knew would freely love him? (See Bradley’s argument of compossibles against Craig in debate).

        “Could God have created us in any other way?”
        That’s a good question. I’m not sure that I have enough insight in Gods ways to answer that question.

        I think it is patently obvious that most rationalisations of God’s ways are ad hoc and unfalsifiable, and hence not arrived at with sound epistemology.

        But I do know, that a wise man once said: It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

        He would have to have experienced both to know that. I would rather not have loved my partner than loved her and seen her die horribly in a forest fire over a 3 day period. Just a thought. Soundbites aren’t always sound.

        And so, one can ask.. If this is the only possible world… Would it had been better, had God not created anything at all? Would it have been better, had you and I never existed?

        As I think Schopenhauer said, one cannot value non-existence. It is incoherent.

        • Daydreamer1

          I got as far as I don’t really get it. I can see that it is coherent with a materialistic world-view. But I don’t see that it is coherent with reality.

    • JohnM

      I’m not talking about subjectively perfect, as in “Oh darling, this diamond will be perfect for our wedding-ring.”

      I’m talking about objectively perfect, as in “This diamond is perfectly cut, with no flaws”. Just ask your local jeweller, he/she will instantly know what you are talking about.

      Furthermore, if we actually look up the word Perfect, in any common dictionary, we will find the following:

      1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.

      2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.

      3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber; a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.

      4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.

      5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.

      A perfect sphere, is not subjectively perfect. It’s objectively perfect. It’s perfect because of the properties that it has. What one can then do with a perfect sphere, is a whole different matter.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        Do you not see that every one of those definitions implies an external goal? This is the point. You have nicely proved it for me!

        • JohnM

          I’m not sure I follow. What is the external goal of a perfect sphere?

          • Jonathan MS Pearce

            I=This is definitional in one sense:
            In the case of a mathematical sphere, you cannot have a perfect sphere in one sense – it is either a sphere or not a sphere. An imperfect sphere is not actually a sphere, so by saying ‘a perfect sphere’ one simply means ‘a sphere’.

            Now, assume we have two actual spheres (not ‘imperfect ones, like, say, a rugby ball). Say we had 2 balls – a beach ball and a ping pong ball. Are they both perfect? Well, unless I have a context, it is meaningless to say so. We can talk of mathematical perfection which is just a definitional thing and is actually pretty binary. But in this case, If I want to play table tennis, then the ping pong ball is greater or more prefect than the beach ball. If I want to wedge a door open fairly wide, then the beach ball is more perfect.

            • Jonathan MS Pearce

              Moreover, if you had two ‘mathematically perfect’ spheres (as in the surface is uniformly equidistant from the centre all over) – one with a radius of 12cm and another 37km – which one is closer to perfection? Neither is intrinsically more so unless you have some external mathematical goal in mind.

    • JohnM

      “I agree rape is wrong based on both the golden rule and utilitarian ethics. The question here becomes “What ontology does that wrong have?” By this I mean what does objective morality look like here? Does this abstract idea, that rape is morally wrong, this law, does it have properties? Where is this law situated? It is a much more deeply philosophical point than merely establishing whether rape is wrong. It is a question about existence properties, about abstract ideas, about universals, and what form they take.”

      Well it’s pretty easy for me to answer such questions, given that I believe in a creator God, a natural law-giver. Furthermore, the bible states, that God laid down the law, the moral law, and wrote it into everyones heart, so that all of us would be without excuse.

      We can discuss that if you like. But to me, the real question is, on what grounds do you consider rape to be wrong?

      You mention the golden rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

      What if one likes getting raped? Then it’s perfectly acceptable to go around raping people, according to the golden rule.

      You also mention utilitarian ethics: Pick the course of action that maximizes overall happiness.

      The problem with that is, ( Uh uhh WLC quote-mine in-comming ), that it’s completely impossible to predict, what course will produce the most overall happiness in the world.

      A rape may be evil. But if the result turns out as a pregnancy, and the woman decides to keep the child, then the child may grow up and discover a cure for cancer. So you could actually have a rape turn into massive overall happiness.

      ——

      “OK, pretty much every theist seems to agree that God existed outside of spacetime.(Causally) Prior to the creation of the universe, God existed. based on ontological and classical understandings of God, if God exists, he is necessarily perfect. However, if he has ontological perfection, he has no needs, no desires – they do not fit into ontological perfection since they imply a lacking of some sort. However, from this perfect state, God created the world. Now the state of ontology has moved from perfection to, well it can’t be more perfection. So it has to either be perfection, or less perfection.”

      I think we need to make a distinction between God and the world. God created the world, a good world, for us to live in, at first. But the state of the world, does not effect the state of God. It does not rub off on God. God created the world, before the fall. The fallen world did not create God. ( spoken from a theistic perspective ;) )

      ——

      “It cannot be the same perfection, since it would be easy to conceive of a universe slightly more perfect than this one.”

      You and me both. To me, this is a fallen world, a shadow of The Garden of Eden. It still has some greatness to it. But everywhere I look, there is darkness.

      ——

      “Hmm. Gives us free will and then punishes us for using it.”

      We are not punished for making choices. That is our right. We are free to live as we like. We are free to reject God. But every choice has consequences.

      It’s a bit like being free to smoke.. You are free to do so, yet you cannot repercussions of doing so.

      ——

      “Kind of like giving a loaded gun to a two year old and then punching them when the gun goes off.”

      Actually, God never gave us a loaded Gun. He locked it in a safe, told us never to open it, and warned us of the danger. “Do not eat of that tree” he said “because if you do, then you shall surely die”. Then our friendly neighbour came along and told us “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And what a great piece of advice, that was.

      ——

      You miss the point. He created, with perfect foreknowledge of the end result, a world which he knew would eventualise sin. If he created the rules the parameters, and knew the consequences (sin) and STILL created, then he is morally responsible for the outcome.

      Why should we even expect to understand, how an all knowing God can do such things? Who can know the mind of God? Well we can try and imagine how it works. We can try come up with explanations. But at the end of the day, we are just humans, sitting around here with our limited intellect, trying to understand something, that is very hard for us grasp.

      What we can say, is that God is not responsible for our own choices.

      Imagine that I was a tool designer. I begin work on a hammer. And for 6 months, I work on it every day, trying to make it really good at hammering nails and so on. After 7 months, its released to public use. The following day I read in the newspaper, that someone has killed his wife, the hammer I just designed.

      Would I be responsible? No. I’m not responsible for what people do with my tools, even though I knew all the time while designing it, that sooner or later, someone was going to hit themselves or someone else’s finger, with the hammer, that I was designing.

      ——

      “Imagine I created, in a lab, a sentient life form. I knew, before creating it, that it would run riot, create havoc, not do what I ‘intended’, break out of the lab, and kill 50 people – I knew this would happen and yet still created this life form, would I not be ULTIMATELY responsible for the outcome? I could have easily chosen not to do it…”

      Was it programmed to kill? Or did you give it free choice?

      Also, since you know how it will all turn out. How is it going to turn out? Is it all going to end in riot and havoc, and that’s it or? What was the point / goal of creating this life-forms? Would you really have created it, had you known it would only result in riot, havoc, pain and suffering?

      There’s good reason to think, that God must have a very good reason for creating us. I don’t see why he would have done it, if nothing more than sin, pain and suffering will come from this, in the end.

      Could God have created a world, where nobody could have eaten from the tree? Where everyone would have followed Gods instructions? Yes. He could have made us all mindless robots. But who wants to be a robot?

      ——

      I can conceive of this ability as being a great-making quality. As per the ontological argument, this could well, and should well, be a property of God. You are constraining God’s abilities here.

      Not more than saying, that nobody can create a round square.

      Furthermore, the bible clearly states, that there is no forgiveness, without shedding of blood.

      In my book, you have to show, that it is logically possible, to remove evil, without rooting out the causes/sources of evil, for it to count against.

      ——

      “With perfect foreknowledge, don’t create them in the first place. Unless there is a greater good to come from it. In which case, God is a moral consequentialist and morality is not ultimately grounded in God.”

      That God can turn what is evil, into something, that ends up achieving something good, does not change the fact, that it was evil in the first place. It’s not a question of what is good and evil.

      If I pick up a landmine, and throws it on another landmine, it doesn’t change the fact, that someone first placed the landmines there, with the intent of killing or crippling people.

      Clearing landmines with landmines, doesn’t make you evil. You’re just taking advantage of evil, to clear evil out of the way, for the greater good.

      ——

      “This is silly. God did not have two options. God never has options. He is duty bound to take the most loving route.”

      That’s a clear misunderstand of the kind of God we read about in the Bible. In the bible we often read: “For the sake of my holy name, I will…”

      That’s God saying.. Look, you don’t deserve this. I gave you a promise, in return for.. Yet you were unfaithful. You went and soiled yourself with those other false Gods.. Nonetheless.. I’m going to stay true to my promise, for the sake of my Holy name.

      So God could choose to break his promise. Yet he does not. And so he remains holy, as a consequence of his action, not because he had no choice. Rather, because he chooses to remain true to his promise.

      ——

      “He also actualised this world, given all the knowledge of all the counterfactuals of every possible world, he still chose to produce this one. Therefore, it must be the most perfect choice.”

      Who knows what other possible worlds there are? You and I may think of something, yet none of us knows, if it’s possible and feasible.

      Also… he didn’t produce this one. We don’t live in the Garden of Eden.

      ——

      “So let me get this right. Let’s analogise with my sentient beings created in the lab. I create them knowing they will cause a shit storm. They kill people, but hey, I knew that.”

      I don’t think that you would have created them, had you known, that they would only cause a shitstorm. Would you? There must have been something else, that made you think, “hey, let’s create them despite the shitstorm”.

      ——

      “I then punish these beings I have created … who use their free will, but not in the way I WANT them.

      If you WANT them to do something, then you shouldn’t have given them free will. Giving people free will, is a way to make sure, that only those who WANT to do it, actually do it.

      And of course you judge them, to see that justice is done. It’s your creation, causing this shitstorm. You have to clean up and make it right again.

      ——

      “Having created them, the ones who annoy me, I punish for eternity for finite crimes, and the ones who please me, I reward infinitely for finite goods.”

      Sin is not a “finite crime”. It’s a fatal flaw, that runs the creation, causing death. So while sins may have been committed during a finite period of time, the wickedness of sin, is “infinite”.

      Also, as a creator, it wouldn’t be just to judge your creations based on subjective feelings so as “who annoys you”. You would have to judge the good on the bad, based on an objective moral. Such as a law or a moral codex.

      ——

      “Who designs and creates something perfectly which needs a rescue plan?”

      Imagine that you created a perfect robot. Would it need a rescue plan? Not at all, it’s perfect for the conditions. But then the conditions change, suddenly someone comes along, and tinkered with the hardware/software.. Causing it to run amok. Now the robot needs a security update, right?

      ——

      “Why not create that in the first place with only the people who he knew would freely love him?”

      If you threw a party for a bunch of people interested in buying your house, and one of them soon after arriving said to you “I’ll buy it”. Would you then kick out all the rest of them? Or would you still give them the chance to look at it, in order to be fair?

      ——

      “He would have to have experienced both to know that. I would rather not have loved my partner than loved her and seen her die horribly in a forest fire over a 3 day period.”

      Well it does sound horrible to die in a forest fire over a 3 day period. But provided that you had 3 years together, doesn’t the amount of good far outweigh the amount of evil suffered? Or is 1 days of suffering equal to 356 days of joy?

      As for having to have experience it.. Does one really have to jump out of a tall building, in order to know, that it hurts? Or can one draw certain conclusions by observing others do it?

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        As interesting as the points on morality are, for time aand space I will leave them for another post.

        I think we need to make a distinction between God and the world. God created the world, a good world, for us to live in, at first. But the state of the world, does not effect the state of God. It does not rub off on God. God created the world, before the fall. The fallen world did not create God. ( spoken from a theistic perspective )

        This is the point. God had ontological perfection. There could be nothing better or more perfect. So what would make a perfect ontology decide to bring the ontology into lacking perfection? This is not the action of a perfect being. See here http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2012/08/29/rd-extra-the-problem-of-non-god-objects/

        “It cannot be the same perfection, since it would be easy to conceive of a universe slightly more perfect than this one.”
        You and me both. To me, this is a fallen world, a shadow of The Garden of Eden. It still has some greatness to it. But everywhere I look, there is darkness.

        But it is the result of a perfect choice – it is in some way perfect, Or God is not perfect. It is in some way the most loving world (since his choice to create this particular world must be the most loving choice, since that is his characteristic). Or God is not all-loving.

        “Hmm. Gives us free will and then punishes us for using it.”
        We are not punished for making choices. That is our right. We are free to live as we like. We are free to reject God. But every choice has consequences.
        It’s a bit like being free to smoke.. You are free to do so, yet you cannot repercussions of doing so.

        This is summed up by what I call the tax man analogy, as per my Free Will? Book:

        “, the usual retort to this position is that I still have the free choice to choose to steal the bicycle, irrespective of the consequences. I can still choose to steal the chopper, and I would simply accept the consequences. But, how free is this choice really? Let me explain with the taxman analogy:
        A taxman walks up to the owner of La Pizzeria Bella Causa, a Mr. Fato, and declares, “Mr. Fato, you have the choice to either pay £25,000 in taxes this year, or you can choose not to. You are free to choose.”
        “Excellent,” replies the restaurateur, “In that case, I choose not to pay them. What a great tax man you are!”
        “Aah, Mr. Fato, don’t be too hasty, my friend. If you choose not to pay the taxes, we will lock you up for the rest of your life. So what will your choice be?”
        Mr. Fato looks puzzled. “So you are saying that I am free to choose not to pay, but if I do, then I will end up in prison for the rest of my life?”
        “Yes,” says the tax man, smiling, “You are free to choose whichever option you want.”
        “That is not a free choice,” Mr. Fato exclaims, “If I choose one option, I am punished harshly for it, so I am always going to choose the other option. This is not free choice, you are forcing my hand!”
        “No I’m not, you’re free to choose.”
        “This is not a free choice!” cries the pizzeria proprietor, realising his dreams of a holiday in Fiji were quickly slipping into the government’s pockets.

        As a result of this sort of analogy, it may be necessary to redefine free will as not the realistic position of free choice, with its inherent influences, but the potentiality for free will, the theoretical ability to choose freely. Yet, to me, this is unsatisfactory. This is not free will as we would realistically use it. As we will see later, this is consequentialism – the influence of future consequences in determining our present actions: a potentially powerful motivator of decisions.“

        “Kind of like giving a loaded gun to a two year old and then punching them when the gun goes off.”
        Actually, God never gave us a loaded Gun. He locked it in a safe, told us never to open it, and warned us of the danger. “Do not eat of that tree” he said “because if you do, then you shall surely die”. Then our friendly neighbour came along and told us “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And what a great piece of advice, that was.

        No he didn’t He hung it on a tree in full view and then created a serpent which he knew in advance would tempt them! You need to think more critically.

        Why should we even expect to understand, how an all knowing God can do such things? Who can know the mind of God? Well we can try and imagine how it works. We can try come up with explanations. But at the end of the day, we are just humans, sitting around here with our limited intellect, trying to understand something, that is very hard for us grasp.

        You are punting to the ‘omnisicence escape clause’. http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/god-loves-abortion.html

        Why should we even expect NOT to understand?

        What we can say, is that God is not responsible for our own choices.

        Actually, he ultimately is. This is why managers get sacked for the actions of their subordinates. You may never again complain at this. But it is worse than that, since he designed and created us in the full knowledge of what we would do. He created the environments in which we would do these things and contrived the situations in which we would.

        Imagine that I was a tool designer. I begin work on a hammer. And for 6 months, I work on it every day, trying to make it really good at hammering nails and so on. After 7 months, its released to public use. The following day I read in the newspaper, that someone has killed his wife, the hammer I just designed.
        Would I be responsible? No. I’m not responsible for what people do with my tools, even though I knew all the time while designing it, that sooner or later, someone was going to hit themselves or someone else’s finger, with the hammer, that I was designing.

        This is a false analogy. You design the hammer in the full knowledge that and how the hammer would take it upon itself to use itself to kill others. Massive difference.

        Was it programmed to kill? Or did you give it free choice?

        I engineered it so it would have those choices AND KNEW IT WOULD MAKE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

        Also, since you know how it will all turn out. How is it going to turn out? Is it all going to end in riot and havoc, and that’s it or? What was the point / goal of creating this life-forms? Would you really have created it, had you known it would only result in riot, havoc, pain and suffering?

        It will all end in the heat death of the universe or some such similar scenario. Of that we are certain. Entropy is a funny thing.

        There’s good reason to think, that God must have a very good reason for creating us. I don’t see why he would have done it, if nothing more than sin, pain and suffering will come from this, in the end.

        Only given the begging the question of the argument.

        Could God have created a world, where nobody could have eaten from the tree? Where everyone would have followed Gods instructions? Yes. He could have made us all mindless robots. But who wants to be a robot?

        Wow. You are saying that every human who could ever or could ever be created would at some point eat the fruit! Brilliant. It is not so much the robot as claiming humans are determined to sin and God couldn’t, in all his power, create it any other way. Therefore, God is creating a humanity which has no choice but to sin, fall and be punished for it! What a loving God.

        I can conceive of this ability as being a great-making quality. As per the ontological argument, this could well, and should well, be a property of God. You are constraining God’s abilities here.

        What ability? You have yet to set out a great-,aking ability of God.

        Furthermore, the bible clearly states, that there is no forgiveness, without shedding of blood.

        Prove it.

        “With perfect foreknowledge, don’t create them in the first place. Unless there is a greater good to come from it. In which case, God is a moral consequentialist and morality is not ultimately grounded in God.”
        That God can turn what is evil, into something, that ends up achieving something good, does not change the fact, that it was evil in the first place. It’s not a question of what is good and evil.

        You are missing the point. If you, as you have elsewhere, claimed that morality comes from, is grounded, in God, then how come at every interval, God shows himself to be a moral consequentialist, showing that morality is externally grounded.

        If I pick up a landmine, and throws it on another landmine, it doesn’t change the fact, that someone first placed the landmines there, with the intent of killing or crippling people.
        Clearing landmines with landmines, doesn’t make you evil. You’re just taking advantage of evil, to clear evil out of the way, for the greater good.

        God designed and created the landmines knowing for exactly what purpose they would be used.

        That’s God saying.. Look, you don’t deserve this. I gave you a promise, in return for.. Yet you were unfaithful. You went and soiled yourself with those other false Gods.. Nonetheless.. I’m going to stay true to my promise, for the sake of my Holy name.

        You are making the classic mistake, as people in biblical times did, of anthropomorphising God. God can have no personality. His characteristics, since he existed atemporally, have to make sense outside of any temporal reality. Any kind of thinking is impossible for God, especially given divine foreknowledge. There is no deliberation, no difficult thoughts, nothing like that. God has no brain, no corporeal existence – he is not human. So you cannot put these human qualities on him.

        So God could choose to break his promise. Yet he does not. And so he remains holy, as a consequence of his action, not because he had no choice. Rather, because he chooses to remain true to his promise.

        God can’t and wouldn’t choose anything. Any decision about the world, and how he would intervene, would be ‘decided’ atemporally prior to the creation of spacetime and the universe. One cannot decide without time – there is only one immediate instant. And in this instant, God knows all possible universes, all counterfactuals, and ‘then’ decides to create this one. This is why relying on the bible for philosophical theology is pointless because it was written by people who were, oftentimes, philosophically and scientifically naïve.

        Who knows what other possible worlds there are? You and I may think of something, yet none of us knows, if it’s possible and feasible.

        I do. Infinite possible worlds. And only one real one (due to the nature of time, God entered spacetime at creation of this universe and cannot be involved, logically, in 2 spacetimes. Theists like Craig will concede this (it is why he cannot annihilate his creation, too).

        I don’t think that you would have created them, had you known, that they would only cause a shitstorm. Would you? There must have been something else, that made you think, “hey, let’s create them despite the shitstorm”.

        Exactly. So the evil is still decided uipon to be created. Thus I would be morally responsible for the evil, even if there was a greater good. Also, it shows that morality is derived from consequences again.

        “I then punish these beings I have created … who use their free will, but not in the way I WANT them.
        If you WANT them to do something, then you shouldn’t have given them free will. Giving people free will, is a way to make sure, that only those who WANT to do it, actually do it.
        And of course you judge them, to see that justice is done. It’s your creation, causing this shitstorm. You have to clean up and make it right again.

        SO you are now admitting that a perfect God could create something imperfect? Ie that he would need to ‘clean up’? That was ‘a mess’?

        Sin is not a “finite crime”. It’s a fatal flaw, that runs the creation, causing death. So while sins may have been committed during a finite period of time, the wickedness of sin, is “infinite”.

        Again, another conversation for elsewhere as this conversation is already to time consuming. We shall agree to disagree.

        Also, as a creator, it wouldn’t be just to judge your creations based on subjective feelings so as “who annoys you”. You would have to judge the good on the bad, based on an objective moral. Such as a law or a moral codex.

        Which, as we have seen, is external to God and derived by the consequences.

        “Who designs and creates something perfectly which needs a rescue plan?”
        Imagine that you created a perfect robot. Would it need a rescue plan? Not at all, it’s perfect for the conditions. But then the conditions change, suddenly someone comes along, and tinkered with the hardware/software.. Causing it to run amok. Now the robot needs a security update, right?

        But I would know that prior to creating anyway. You are failing to factor in foreknowledge enough.

        “Why not create that in the first place with only the people who he knew would freely love him?”
        If you threw a party for a bunch of people interested in buying your house, and one of them soon after arriving said to you “I’ll buy it”. Would you then kick out all the rest of them? Or would you still give them the chance to look at it, in order to be fair?

        Forekwnowledge. Also, kicking them out of the house is not the same as committing them to eternal torment in hell – a loving God?

        “He would have to have experienced both to know that. I would rather not have loved my partner than loved her and seen her die horribly in a forest fire over a 3 day period.”
        Well it does sound horrible to die in a forest fire over a 3 day period. But provided that you had 3 years together, doesn’t the amount of good far outweigh the amount of evil suffered? Or is 1 days of suffering equal to 356 days of joy?

        No.

    • JohnM

      “This is the point. God had ontological perfection. There could be nothing better or more perfect. So what would make a perfect ontology decide to bring the ontology into lacking perfection? This is not the action of a perfect being.”

      Imagine that I placed a perfect sphere over here.. And then a placed another perfect sphere, over here. Have I now reduced the perfection of the first sphere?

      ———

      “But it is the result of a perfect choice – it is in some way perfect, Or God is not perfect. It is in some way the most loving world (since his choice to create this particular world must be the most loving choice, since that is his characteristic). Or God is not all-loving.”

      I have said it before. I and I will continue to repeat it, because this is very important to me.

      God did not create this world as we know it. God created the garden of Eden. We made the world that we live in, the world that it is, by eating of the tree.

      To say that God created this world, is a straw man of my position.

      ———

      “No he didn’t He hung it on a tree in full view and then created a serpent which he knew in advance would tempt them! You need to think more critically.”

      Or you need to read the bible more often.. Because God did not create Satan. God created Lucifer. And Lucifer was perfect in his ways, until iniquity was found in him. He filled his heart with violence, and he sinned. ( Rebelled against God ). – Ezekial 28:15-16 And so Lucifer, became Satan, The father of lies ( Father.. as in the creator of untruth, the root of all evil ) – John 8:44.

      ———

      “Why should we even expect NOT to understand?”

      Because he’s the alpha and omega. And you’re just human?

      It’s a fact of life, that most people struggle with concepts like infinity and eternity.

      ———

      “Actually, he ultimately is”

      How can anyone other than ourselves, be responsible, for our own actions?

      ———

      “This is why managers get sacked for the actions of their subordinates.”

      That’s a flawed analogy. God is the head of the laboratory. And you’re the lab rat, mkay?

      He’s the pottery maker. You’re the clay. What right has the clay, to question the pottery maker?

      He’s the creator. You’re the creation. Who are you to try and hold God, accountable for anything?

      ———

      “Wow. You are saying that every human who could ever or could ever be created would at some point eat the fruit! Brilliant.”

      No. That’s a misrepresentation of what I said. I said that God could have made us all mindless robots, essentially eliminating the option, or taking away our ability to decide to eat from the tree. It doesn’t follow from that, that any non-robot, would have eaten from the tree.

      ———

      “”Furthermore, the bible clearly states, that there is no forgiveness, without shedding of blood.””
      “Prove it.”

      Hebrews 9:22
      In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

      ———

      “You are missing the point. If you, as you have elsewhere, claimed that morality comes from, is grounded, in God, then how come at every interval, God shows himself to be a moral consequentialist, showing that morality is externally grounded.”

      There is no moral consequentialism within the the framework of Christianity. Things are either true or false. Light or darkness.

      What people often get wrong, is when they try to apply the law that God gave to us, to God himself. God is the creator. He’s not subject to the law, and therefore cannot commit illegal killing, AKA murder. Rather, it is the prerogative of the creator and life-giver to also take life.

      ———

      “God designed and created the landmines knowing for exactly what purpose they would be used.”

      Landmines were designed by humans, wielding free will. And I don’t see why I sould defend a strawman of my position.

      ———

      “You are making the classic mistake, as people in biblical times did, of anthropomorphising God. God can have no personality. His characteristics, since he existed atemporally, have to make sense outside of any temporal reality. Any kind of thinking is impossible for God, especially given divine foreknowledge. There is no deliberation, no difficult thoughts, nothing like that. God has no brain”

      My position, is the God of the bible. If you worship some other god, that’s your problem.

      ———

      “he is not human. So you cannot put these human qualities on him.”

      You’re correct. God is not human. It’s the other way around. Humans are created in God’s image.

      ———

      “SO you are now admitting that a perfect God could create something imperfect? Ie that he would need to ‘clean up’? That was ‘a mess’?”

      We do live in a mess, But God did not create it. That is a strawman of my position.

      ———

      “But I would know that prior to creating anyway. You are failing to factor in foreknowledge enough.”

      Not at all. According to design 101, a good design, is something that is designed for the environment that it is intended to function in. ( form follows function ). You cannot drag a shopping cart out into a desert, a claim it to be bad design, because it’s horrible to drag around in ad desert. It was never intended to be dragged around in a desert.

      And we were created to live in the Garden of Eden..

      ———

      “Also, kicking them out of the house is not the same as committing them to eternal torment in hell – a loving God?”

      Kicking them out of the house, thereby never giving them a chance to bid on the house, would be the same as God never creating the ones who would reject his authority and their saviour.

      As for God being a loving God.. That was declared to the world, though Jesus Christ. – John 3:16.

      As for hell.. I don’t see why it would be evil to judge those who reject his special rescue mission. Those who refuse to repent, has to be judged, if there is to be any justice in this world.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce

        Imagine that I placed a perfect sphere over here.. And then a placed another perfect sphere, over here. Have I now reduced the perfection of the first sphere?

        John, you’ve got to make sure you get what I am saying. If one has ontological perfection (OP), one cannot have desires, because one has NO NEEDS to fulfil. Thus creating would be, essentially, for no need (since one has none). God had OP before creating the world and perfect foreknowledge of the world. He knew that even if it was perfect at the beginning, it would imperfect itself (even though he had total control over the design and ontology). This means he chose to move from OP to OI (imperfection).

        God did not create this world as we know it. God created the garden of Eden. We made the world that we live in, the world that it is, by eating of the tree.
        To say that God created this world, is a straw man of my position.

        See above. Also, God KNOWINGLY created the world that would morph into the present one, thus they are synonymous. If I created a new car that was, for all intents and purposes, perfect, but knew in the design stage that it would transform into a tank and kill people, that responsibility stays with me. Moreover, that perfection moving to imperfection was known before. Thus I would, if I was perfection before creating, move KNOWINGLY from perfection through to eventual imperfection.

        “No he didn’t He hung it on a tree in full view and then created a serpent which he knew in advance would tempt them! You need to think more critically.”
        Or you need to read the bible more often.. Because God did not create Satan. God created Lucifer. And Lucifer was perfect in his ways, until iniquity was found in him. He filled his heart with violence, and he sinned. ( Rebelled against God ). – Ezekial 28:15-16 And so Lucifer, became Satan, The father of lies ( Father.. as in the creator of untruth, the root of all evil ) – John 8:44.

        Again, you are not hitting the mark. The serpent was, assuming it does represent Satan (a claim disputed by many theologians), created by God. It is the same issue as above. God knows Lucifer will fall, yet creates him anyway. He knows, as the fallen serpent, he will tempt Eve. This is all known at the actualisation of the universe. Thus my point remains.

        <b “Why should we even expect NOT to understand?”
        Because he’s the alpha and omega. And you’re just human?
        It’s a fact of life, that most people struggle with concepts like infinity and eternity.

        You miss my point again. I was using the EXACT same logic you used on me right back at you. We can understand quantum physics, I think we are probably able to understand the nature of why there is sin etc. Even if it really is beyond us, God could tell us this explicitly.

        “Actually, he ultimately is”
        How can anyone other than ourselves, be responsible, for our own actions?

        If the entity created the person, the environment, the brain, the soul, the will. They created everything. Of course they are ULTIMATELY responsible. Next time your relative dies in a train accident because one unknown person forgot to put a bolt in a track somewhere, I dare you not to try to sue the rail company for responsibility. Corporate and management / ultimate responsibility is at the heart of the legal system. It is why prime ministers and politicians resign from posts for the actions of their departments.

        “This is why managers get sacked for the actions of their subordinates.”
        That’s a flawed analogy. God is the head of the laboratory. And you’re the lab rat, mkay?
        He’s the pottery maker. You’re the clay. What right has the clay, to question the pottery maker?

        Because it is my life that is being played with like some pawn. Why wouldn’t I have the rights. You are now denying human rights. If my partner is going to spend eternity in hell, you’re damn bloody right I’m going to question the management.
        He’s the creator. You’re the creation. Who are you to try and hold God, accountable for anything?

        Who is he NOT to be accountable for his creation? I don’t understand how you cannot see this. You adhere to this logic for the rest of your life, yet special plead for God. He literally created everything. How can he NOT be responsible. Rather than negatively argue, please provide more positives. Give me accounts of how your argument should work.

        This is a legal position known as respondeat superior:

        “Respondeat superior embodies the general rule that an employer is responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of its employees. Under respondeat superior an employer is liable for the negligent act or omission of any employee acting within the course and scope of his employment (1). This is a purely dependent or vicarious theory of liability, meaning a finding of liability is not based on any improper action by the employer. The fact that the employer may have acted reasonably in hiring, training, supervising, and retaining the employee is irrelevant and does not provide a basis on which the employer can avoid liability for the acts of employees (1). The underlying premise of respondeat superior is that the cost of torts committed in the conduct of a business enterprise should be borne by that enterprise as a cost of doing business (2).”

        But for God, it is EVEN more prevalent since he created his employees from scratch, created their work environment, created their biology and ensuing psychology, and created all the dangers for them, whether natural or not.

        “Wow. You are saying that every human who could ever or could ever be created would at some point eat the fruit! Brilliant.”
        No. That’s a misrepresentation of what I said. I said that God could have made us all mindless robots, essentially eliminating the option, or taking away our ability to decide to eat from the tree. It doesn’t follow from that, that any non-robot, would have eaten from the tree.

        No you ARE saying that – you have admitted that the only way a person would not choose the fruit would be if they were a mindless robot. If we could have freely chosen not to, why did he particularly choose the people that would fail? He has created a world that purposely embodies failure and subsequent torture and suffering.

        “”Furthermore, the bible clearly states, that there is no forgiveness, without shedding of blood.””
        “Prove it.”
        Hebrews 9:22
        In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

        I didn’t mean prove the bible says it! Sheesh. I meant prove that that is the case rather than being yet another biblical assertion and soundbite.

        “You are missing the point. If you, as you have elsewhere, claimed that morality comes from, is grounded, in God, then how come at every interval, God shows himself to be a moral consequentialist, showing that morality is externally grounded.”
        There is no moral consequentialism within the the framework of Christianity. Things are either true or false. Light or darkness.

        You are joking, right? The sacrifice and atonement of Christ is the very best example of moral consequentialism. God sacrifices an innocent (himself) for the greater good. Thus the morality is not intrinsic, but derived form the later consequences. This is the very definition of utilitarianism.

        What people often get wrong, is when they try to apply the law that God gave to us, to God himself. God is the creator. He’s not subject to the law, and therefore cannot commit illegal killing, AKA murder. Rather, it is the prerogative of the creator and life-giver to also take life.

        Another assertion. Why?

        “God designed and created the landmines knowing for exactly what purpose they would be used.”
        Landmines were designed by humans, wielding free will. And I don’t see why I sould defend a strawman of my position.

        It is not – you misunderstand again. You actually created a false analogy in the first place, which amounts to a straw man. The landmines are not synonymous with the human situation. All this is mentioned above – God created EVERYTHING KNOWINGLY. He created humans ‘ landmines knowing exactly what they would do. And then he creates other landmines to sort the first ones out. The whole puppet show is actualised by design from an infinite choice of possible worlds. This one was chosen from a range of ALL possible consequences that God KNEW. He could survey EVERY world from beginning to end. And he chose this one.

        “You are making the classic mistake, as people in biblical times did, of anthropomorphising God. God can have no personality. His characteristics, since he existed atemporally, have to make sense outside of any temporal reality. Any kind of thinking is impossible for God, especially given divine foreknowledge. There is no deliberation, no difficult thoughts, nothing like that. God has no brain”
        My position, is the God of the bible. If you worship some other god, that’s your problem.

        Er, what? That has nothing to do with my point. In the previous post you anthropomorphised God. I claim that this cannot and should not be done, especially given the initial atemporal nature of God where he literally cannot have a personality.

        “SO you are now admitting that a perfect God could create something imperfect? Ie that he would need to ‘clean up’? That was ‘a mess’?”
        We do live in a mess, But God did not create it. That is a strawman of my position.

        No it’s not! How many times do I have to say this? You are making the SAME prima facie mistakes here as you are in the free will discussion. You stop asking why, stop looking at causality. If God creates people that he knows FULL WELL will do something bad, THEN HE IS ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT. He decides whether they exist or not. He could just as easily have NOT created them. But he chose to do so. He designs and creates them. How is he NOT ultimately responsible? You are sidestepping the issue time and time again, John.

        Again, even though I have explained this umpteen times, if I created from nothing (ie it did not exist at all and I could have chosen not to create it) a sentient being called, say, a Qwuitch. Now this qwuitch has free will. I have designed that into it. I also know exactly what it will do for the rest of time. I know that the first things it will do is go round and murder your wife. Who do you think will be found responsible in a court of law? The answer? Both the qwuitch and myself. I knew it would happen and I created it anyway. Now it may go and help people in a soup kitchen too, and I would be ULTIMATELY (notice the way I use that word, I am not talking about proximal responsibility) responsible for that too. However, I am ultimately responsible for your wife’s murder (don’t take any of this personally ).

        “But I would know that prior to creating anyway. You are failing to factor in foreknowledge enough.”
        Not at all. According to design 101, a good design, is something that is designed for the environment that it is intended to function in. ( form follows function ). You cannot drag a shopping cart out into a desert, a claim it to be bad design, because it’s horrible to drag around in ad desert. It was never intended to be dragged around in a desert.
        And we were created to live in the Garden of Eden..

        This is so prima facie. Look deeper. He created us for that but knew we would be ill-suited, and created us anyway. HE KNEW THAT IN ADVANCE.

        As for God being a loving God.. That was declared to the world, though Jesus Christ. – John 3:16.

        I declare I am made of cheese. It does not make it so. And appealing to my own claims time and again will still not make it so. The bible simply cannot prove the bible. It is the ultimate circular argument.

    • Interesting discussion!
      I did a talk on a similar argument a few months ago.

      For those interested:
      http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=QuHyxZ_cylE&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQuHyxZ_cylE

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    • Guest

      I’ve thought like this before. Yet there’s a different way to think of perfection that occurs to me now. One can speculate that the ultimate underlying things supporting or causing reality have perfection in the sense of not being a low-resolution, lossy, probabilistic jumble of things that sort of work together as a system, but being exactly what they’re supposed to be. That’s vague, I know, so I’ll give an example. Truth could be some ultimate underlying thing, and if so, it might have perfection, in the sense of not being merely probably true or a good approximation, and certainly not being just a string of bits that mean something only under some interpretation and have noise in them, but actually being true and exact.

      As for God, people believing that philosophical concepts of perfection and the ultimate and so on are anything to do with the God of the Bible is where religion comes into it. That seems like a low class belief, that aristocratic philosophers would sneer at, or would humor for their own safety from the crowd. Believers in God or other gods, who put the being they worship above philosophy and intelligence, tend to be low class rebels against the authority and natural aristocracy of truth and science. They tend to be dangerous and ill-tempered, like the gods they worship, so sometimes it’s best to humor them.

      • I think the problem with what you are saying, or crux if you will, is “supposed to be”. One cannot get past the idea that perfection is goal oriented. I can’t see any understanding of intrinsic perfection without a goal in mind as to make sense of the term.

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    • Luke Breuer

      Why cannot God be perfectly good? We humans certainly seem to have an idea of ‘better’; the problem of evil expressly depends on an objective definition of ‘better’ (even if that definition is unknowable to us). If ‘better’ establishes a total order, then there is a ‘best’.

      • Again, because it is goal oriented, which is contextually derived. What would the goal be? Would it not be a potentially circular argument, where God is perfect at being a god, where god is defined by those perfect characteristics etc?

        • Luke Breuer

          What precisely does it mean for something to be “contextually derived”? For example, is mathematics “contextually derived”? Throughout the Bible, goodness (upon which my comment focused) seems related to two things:

               (A) promoting life
               (B) disadvantaging of self for others (‘righteousness’)

          It’s not clear to me how these are necessarily “contextually derived”. There may well be mathematical descriptions for what can be reasonably called ‘life’ (with perhaps successive approximations that define the term ever-better), and mathematical descriptions for what is required to sustain and promote that ‘life’.

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