• God: JUST create heaven, for crying out loud

    One of my arguments in my God on Trial talk is the argument concerning photosynthesis which I think is a powerful Problem of Evil argument. Basically, when we look at all the suffering in the world, we often forget about the millions and millions of years’ worth of suffering which has taken place on account of carnivorousness.  That is to say, a large proportion of organisms on this world kill other organisms just to merely survive; to exist. The scale of animal death is mind-boggling, as are the units of suffering which animals have had to sustain. To exemplify this, I include below a truly horrifying video. It is just nature, mind, but to see a baby buffalo get torn limb from limb by a pack of lions whilst staying alive for an inordinate amount of time is just horrible. The video is NOT for the faint-hearted. Nature really is red in tooth and claw.

    The buffalo takes some 2 hours to die.

    And, of course, such suffering, in light of an all-loving God, must be seen as necessary for some greater good. Naturalism needs no further entities or complicated ad hoc rationalisation to explain this, but theism has to contrive why this horrendous process is necessary and not gratuitous.

    My argument looks at this and says, well God is all-powerful, so why didn’t he just design all beings to photosynthesise? Why couldn’t he just fiddle the figures (or create perpetual miracles) such that all organisms merely needed he sun for energy to survive? If I was all-loving, that’s certainly one option I would take that would be clearly better than the current state of affairs.

    But, actually, I would go one step further than that. Why create beings who needed energy at all? Why make this requirement which entails such finitude and associated problems?

    Even that can be bettered, surely. Why not create non-corporeal entities at all? Why not just go for ethereal creation?

    The next step, though, is a point which I have never seen any remotely decent defence of:

    Why not just take all those people who would freely come to love him (God) and create them in heaven?

    In other words, let’s imagine 100 people were created. Let’s then imagine (and accept the incoherent notion of libertarian free will for the point of this argument) that only 20 of these 100 freely came to love God. Now it seems that God creates all 100 in the knowledge that most will go to hell, or at least ~heaven. Assuming that some purpose of creation, as is often asserted (as it was at my last talk on this by someone in the Christian Union), is relational between God and humanity, then God’s purpose or want or need appears to be something like testing those to see if they would freely come to love him and rewarding them with heaven (let us ignore the torrent of issues associated with an all-perfect being having wants, desires or needs).

    But since he apparently already knows the outcome, he has no need of testing them. Indeed, he can insert memories into these beings such that they think they have really experienced life’s tests, except they haven’t and no suffering takes place.

    None of this is logically impossible, it would seem. God could create those 20 people who would freely come to love him on earth, and just bypass the earth testing bit and create them in the reward that is heaven, using his indubitable knowledge. The other 80 people, condemned to an eternity of torment, or as more liberal Christians find more palatable, an eternity away from God or some such thing, are simply not created at all (though God would know the counterfactuals of what would happen if he did create them).

    This then means that there would be no actual suffering in creation. It also means that the people who were going to get the reward in the actualised world would get it anyway, sans suffering of anyone else as a by-product of such testing,

    This is marginally different to creating a world with just those who freely come to love God, which William Lane Craig tries to sidestep by introducing  incoherent ideas of feasibility. This is going straight for the honey, and there is no decent reason that I, or anyone I have spoken to about this (including theologians), have ever come up with to make this argument invalid.

    On this argument alone, I think God is shown either not to exist or not to be all-loving. Especially since any appeal to something akin to a journey or really anything necessary in this world for some kind of outcome can easily be invalidated by memory creation or some such other technique. There is even the idea of philosophical zombies which can be brought in.

    No, God could and should have just created heaven with those lucky enough to have warranted entry therein.

    RELATED POSTS:

    Category: AtheismFeaturedHeavenPhilosophical Argument Against GodPhilosophyPhilosophy of ReligionProblem of Evil

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • kraut2

      Why would you accuse christians of following logic to the bitter end?

    • Void L. Walker

      Wow. This is terrible. That poor animal…

      • kraut2

        Why is it terrible? That is nature as it is.

        That is what a Christian all loving god created – and the propensity of humans to do same to each other, with agonies lasting much longer.

        • Void L. Walker

          Just because nature is a certain way does not mean I have to like it. Prolonged death like this is common, it is indeed a part of nature. But guess what? The human propensity for spiritual/irrational beliefs is equally natural; I hate this almost as much! I just do not like the thought of ANY creature suffering like this. :-(

          • kraut2

            “Just because nature is a certain way does not mean I have to like it”

            If you do not like it – then take it up with evolution. I really do not care if an animal is suffering by the actions of another animal, it does not affect me in the least. Our liking or dislike in this matter is irrational.

            Human have a propensity to act morally and this is part of our nature. We have empathy (some animals have that to some extend as well) and can imagine the pain in others. I care about the suffering we with that capacity inflict on other humans and animals.

            That affects me.

            • Void L. Walker

              I see where you’re coming from. Human beings are capable of the most atrocious, horrendous acts. Torture is among them.

              As for your suggestion, I have taken it up with evolution. Evolution, however, never writes me back…

    • Honest_John_Law

      Jonathan, I am interested in learning more of your views re. what philosophers call “possible worlds modal analysis”. I don’t know much about that subject, but I am confounded by claims made by philosopher(s) (e.g. Gottfried Leibniz) that we inhabit the best of all possible worlds. It seems some Christian apologists try to get a lot of mileage out of that argument these days. How is it that they conclude that God could not have created anything better than what we observe?

      • —-
        How is it that they conclude that God could not have created anything better than what we observe?
        —-

        Because they need to explain why an ultimately good and loving being has a creation that is the antitheses of good and loving.

        • Honest_John_Law

          Thanks for your reply. Your response is reasonable re. “why” they may be predisposed to conclude what they conclude. Leaving aside any possible biases, I am interesting in learning about the methodology one follows to reach a conclusion about “best possible worlds”. For example, what methodology does one follow to reach the conclusion that widespread suffering is unavoidable.

          • Great question. Theologians will answer this differently depending on what they believe is necessary to emphasize (e.g., free will, God’s sovereignty, certain of God’s attributes, etc).

            Philosopher-theologian Norman Geisler, as one example, doesn’t believe the current state of affairs is the best of all possible worlds, but the best of all possible ways to the best of all possible worlds. God allows evil in order to achieve a greater good. And evil was introduced to this world through the libertarian freedom God gave man (a good thing), but man used to make an evil choice.

        • Luke Breuer

          If this creation were “the antithesis of good and loving”, how would we even know what ‘good’ and ‘loving’ even are? Surely you aren’t arguing that this is the worst of all possible worlds?

          • I should have been clearer. I’m wasn’t intending to suggest that this world is the moral antitheses of good and loving in the same way that some make the metaphysical claim that reality is an illusion.

            Rather–and I think this is mostly uncontested–the theist sees the need for a theodicy because the world is prima facie at odds with the nature of God.

            • Luke Breuer

              You know, I’m starting to wonder which God with whom “the world is prima facie at odds”. I recently listened to Randal Rauser’s podcast Oliver Crisp on the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Bible, and the God who seems to most provoke the problems of evil is the God of the Philosophers. That is, a highly simplified god from philosophy, not a god of story.

              I recently read Thinking in Narrative: Seeing Through To the Myth in Philosophy, by Joe Muszynski in 2010. There’s a tendency these days to dismiss anything narrative as ‘false’; this can be found in Sartre, as well as The Postmodern Condition: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives”. According to MacIntyre in After Virtue, Sartre says “life is composed of discrete actions which lead nowhere” (214); Sartre takes narrative to be unattachable to real life (221, 226-7). Curiously enough, Donald E. Polkinghorne in Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, in criticizing theoretical psychology, says:

                  What I found was that practitioners work with narrative knowledge. They are concerned with people’s stories: they work with case histories and use narrative explanations to understand why the people they work with behave the way they do. (x)

              And yet, despite all this, we try to understand God completely outside of narrative. This, I think, is a grave error. I’m with Worth in Narrative Knowledge: Knowing through Storytelling:

              This paper deals with the issue of storytelling or narrative as a special form of reasoning. I will suggest a form of narrative reasoning that illuminates a narrative grammar, which will ultimately lead me to describe a form of narrative knowledge. Traditional forms of knowledge (knowing how and knowing that) are not sufficient to cover a third kind of knowledge (knowing what it is like) in the way that storytelling can. I will argue that this latter form of knowledge is under-recognized as an essential ingredient to our humanity.

              In a blog series starting with Atheism, free thought, and Bible burning and ending with God, the Bible, and the Skeptics: A Wrap Up and Debrief, Randal Rauser dealt with the issue of atrocities in the Bible and how an omni-deity could possibly be associated with such a text: why wouldn’t such a deity expunge all the relevant atrocities before canonization, or do something even before that to prevent them from developing? It seems that something similar is the case with the God of the Philosophers: imagination is allowed to run amok, without being tested in the crucible of realistic storytelling.

              I’ll bring this to a close by referencing The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature which asks, what would “God’s Big Book of Facts” look like? Such a book has a problem:

              Remember that a book is just a string of symbols and that it tells us about the world only under some interpretive scheme.

              The author concludes:

              So let us bring Beebe’s story entirely up to date. If God really wants to let us “learn all the facts there are to learn” he wouldn’t bother giving us a Big Book, even a compressed one. He’d give us a simulation of the world. If a picture is worth a thousand words, think how much He could say with 3D-graphics!

              There are some serious thinkers who contend that God has done exactly that.

              I think the same needs to be done in the realm of theodicy. Imagining up possible worlds where there is no suffering does not, in any way, guarantee that they are logically possible worlds. Under some types of omnipotence, God can make illogical possible worlds; under others, this is disallowed. I choose the latter, on the grounds that rational beings would experience kenotic blindspots in logically impossible (irrational) worlds. Rationality seems like something worth defending at great cost.

            • I’m fine with people wanting the God of the Bible, but I think they should stay out of philosophical discussions about their deity. They should quote bible verses instead of present reasoned argumentation. I think it’s an insincere distinction, and more of a cop-out.

            • Luke Breuer

              That’s quite the restriction of philosophy. What is your reason for restricting it thusly? I would prefer that rigorous discussion where the premises are made explicit and the logic made easily checkable be something that is possible in multiple domains: philosophy, politics, religion, sociology, etc. Whether you want to call it ‘philosophy’ or something else is probably irrelevant; that’s for the philosophers to decide.

            • Not quite sure what you’re aiming at here. You’re the one who said my original statement that the theist’s God is at odds with the state of world was a question about the god of the philosophers, not the god of the bible. I think that statement restricts your philosophy, not mine. If you don’t want to ask philosophical questions about your deity that is fine with me, but I don’t think this blog is an appropriate avenue for you if that’s the case.

            • Luke Breuer

              Define “philosophical questions”. Generally, the philosophers William James calls “tender-hearted” are known for preferring small, clean systems to gritty, complex ones (philosophers who like these are “tough-minded” according to James). When I said “God of the Philosophers”, I’m talking about the former category. People think that they can just imagine up what ‘omnipotent’, ‘omniscient’, and ‘morally perfect’ mean, and that their imaginations will be valid. This is just plain silly. It took us long enough to understand that F = ma; why do we think we’ll be so much better on what God is like?

              I suggest that the best method to understand God is the evolutionary method, which is well known to work for:

                   (1) understanding physiology of organisms
                   (2) understanding emotions (What Emotions Really Are)
                   (3) understanding language

              Why not add:

                   (4) understanding God

              ? See Peter Enns’ Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible, as well as his book Inspiration and Incarnation. There seems to be this idea that contra (1) – (3), we can just immediately figure out what an omni-deity is like and what he would do (see Jonathan Pearce’s How can we mere mortals state what God SHOULD do?). This, I see as silly. But if you insist on working this way, on trusting your imagination so much, then conversation cannot happen.

            • I’m. So. Confused.

              I wrote to answer this question:

              ” How is it that they [Christian apologists] conclude that God could not have created anything better than what we observe?”

              You’re also welcome to post an answer that you believe to be appropriate. However my answer really isn’t all that disagreeable with. Those apologists who are making a theodicy see a need to do so because they believe they need to explain why a good God would allow evil and suffering. It’s an answer to a question, not an argument for doing it that way. I wasn’t implying anything about narrative as an epistemological tool, omnipotence, or anything of that nature. I was simply explaining why certain theistic theologians and philosophers see a need to make a theodicy.

            • Luke Breuer

              I am questioning the validity of your imagination. Why do you trust it? Why do you trust your imagination when it tells you that a deity could have made a better reality than exists now? People frequently imagine up impossible realities. As a software designer, I see it all the time. So how do you know that the reality you’ve imagined up, which says this reality could have been better, isn’t tricking you?

            • Luke Breuer

              A wonderfully rational answer to my questioning of your “prima facie”.

            • Void L. Walker

              He seems to have answered your question…not with the Reeves pic, but in his earlier comments.

              “So how do you know that the reality you’ve imagined up, which says this reality could have been better, isn’t tricking you?”

              I can turn this question around on you: how do YOU know that your conception of Yahweh and view of reality is not tricking you? How can you be completely certain that you have not been duped? There are plenty of Christians who’s interpretation of the bible is at odds with yours (Westboro Baptist church is a fine example); these Christians would, in many ways, question your view of reality, acceptance of evolution, opinions about scripture/Gods nature, etc. How can you be absolutely positive you’re on the right track?

            • Luke Breuer

              I can turn this question around on you: how do YOU know that your conception of Yahweh and view of reality is not tricking you?

              The Bible promises that the right kind of seeking God and meditating on his special revelation as well as his natural revelation will change you. How? Into someone who will life according to “kingdom of heaven” principles. A plant that is fed blue water will turn blue. Likewise, a branch embedded in the Vine will adopt attributes of that Vine. One of these is the prolonged ability to return good for evil. There are two parables which explicitly describe the kingdom of heaven:

              “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Mt 13:44)

              “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Mt 13:45-46)

              The interpretation of the first is that God bought the kingdom of heaven with Jesus’ voluntary self-sacrifice. The interpretation of the second is that just like God saw us to be valuable before salvation, inhabitants of the kingdom of heaven are to value others before they are saved—before they become part of the kingdom of heaven. Grace first.

              So you see, there are ways to test whether one is imagining God and Jesus better or worse. It is not a blind operation. The more one truly understands Jesus, the more one can do what he did: heal. Healing the flesh is great; healing the whole person is on an entirely different level. I’ve had the privilege of taking part in the latter; to do so, I used quite a few claims grounded in my understanding of Christianity, to speed up the recovery time of an atheist. It worked. Test passed.

              Your thoughts?

              I disagree with many Christians’ analysis of the terribleness of homosexuality, but more than that, I do not think I am justified in holding a firm view on the matter. You can ask a similar question about pedophilia, FYI. Kleptomania may have a genetic basis.

            • Void L. Walker

              “The Bible promises that the right kind of seeking God”

              And what, exactly, is the “right” way to seek God? How can you be even remotely certain that your method is the correct one? I did not see a direct answer to what I asked, so I’m stating it once more. How can you be sure that you’re doing things the right way?

              “truly understands Jesus”

              How do you “truly” understand Jesus? Again, countless Christians would flatly disagree with many of your interpretations. How can you be certain that your method for gleaning the nature of Yahweh/Jesus is the right one, not any farther from the “truth” than many other believers? I did not see even one shred of sound evidence for your assertions.I just don’t see anything even remotely convincing from you wrt the questions I’ve posed.

              “I do not think I am justified in holding a firm view on the matter”

              I followed your link. I’m sorry, this is silly.

              Homosexual people are human beings, just like we are. Clearly you know this. They did not choose to be that way. You know that, as well. These are facts that you have no difficulty accepting, and yet you honestly mean to tell me you can’t even give me an opinion? Really?

              You can disagree with other Christians interpretations all you want, at the end of the day, Yahweh commanded that anyone who fucks someone of the same gender should be killed. This is from the deities mouth. Can you just offer me, for once, an honest opinion? You’ve been asked about this issue many times and frankly, you seem to be frightened of it. Maybe I’m wrong, I could very well be. That’s why I need you to say something.

            • Luke Breuer

              And what, exactly, is the “right” way to seek God?

              Did I not give you a prediction that can be verified/falsified? What other way is there to test things than making predictions and trying to verify/falsify them?

              I followed your link. I’m sorry, this is silly.

              Then you are welcome to consider me “silly”, and proceed accordingly.

            • Void L. Walker

              “Then you are welcome to consider me “silly”, and proceed accordingly.”

              Hold up, partner! I never called you silly, not even once. I don’t think you are in any way. What I said was the fact that you do not give an opinion on something like homosexuality is silly. The reason? You already divorce yourself from MANY rotten Christian ideas about gay people. You think of them as human beings, that’s a good thing! I just meant that, in light of this fact, you failing to give a clear opinion is kinda silly. Sorry about any misunderstandings.

              “Did I not give you a prediction that can be verified/falsified? What other way is there to test things than making predictions and trying to verify/falsify them?”

              Honestly, it didn’t seem like a prediction to me….more like an assertion. If you feel that I’m mistaken, please elucidate.

              The example you gave is kinda….meh. I’ve known people who are atheists doing the exact same thing (trying to heal a person in the manner you spoke of). They did not have Christs teachings….yet were able to heal the person just fine. See where I’m going with this? The test you mentioned can be given to ANY one, who believes ANY thing. Their beliefs have no bearing, in many cases, on how compassionate and able to heal they are. Hell, give that test to a Buddhist!

            • Luke Breuer

              What I said was the fact that you do not give an opinion on something like homosexuality is silly.

              I try not to say too much about things I don’t understand, unless I’m clear that I’m just exploring the issue. And this issue is too contentious and evokes too much emotion to explore online with people who hold very different beliefs.

              Honestly, it didn’t seem like a prediction to me….more like an assertion. If you feel that I’m mistaken, please elucidate.

              Then let’s look for a better example. What are some things that you see as very screwed up in the world, that need fixing, that people don’t really seem to know how to fix (even though they might think they know how to fix it)?

              The example you gave is kinda….meh.

              What is more important than all people being given the chance to thrive? I hear you when you say that atheists can do the same thing; I believe you. But we must be careful to move from a local “I helped this person” level to a global “I’m not just helping my own kin and town” level. If I were Satan, would give humans plenty of ways to feel like they’ve made a great difference, with the world getting worse all the time. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

              Their beliefs have no bearing, in many cases, on how compassionate and able to heal they are.

              This is a bit of an odd statement. On the one hand, many say that religion is bad because of the beliefs that it engenders. Here, you’re saying that when it does good things, maybe those beliefs are irrelevant. This seems asymmetric.

            • Void L. Walker

              “I try not to say too much about things I don’t understand”

              Perhaps you should educate yourself more, then. Once you have a better understanding of homosexuality, it’s rampancy in the animal kingdom, genetic/environmental determining factors, etc perhaps you could state an opinion.

              “Then let’s look for a better example. What are some things that you see as very screwed up in the world, that need fixing, that people don’t really seem to know how to fix (even though they might think they know how to fix it)?”

              I think I see where you’re going with this. Why would we need the “moral code” contained within the bible (well…the gospels, anyway) to better the world in meaningful ways? I have known a few people in my day who went all the way across the globe to give assistance to people in need. One such example is my aunt. She traveled to Uganda some years back, spending about 6 months helping local children learn to read, get a decent meal at night and seek proper medical attention. She is an atheist, by the way. This “world wide” morality you often allude to does not need Jesus to work…it already does.

              “This is a bit of an odd statement. On the one hand, many say that religion is bad because of the beliefs that it engenders. Here, you’re saying that when it does good things, maybe those beliefs are irrelevant. This seems asymmetric.”

              That is not what I was saying. I was getting at the fact that human beings, with or without a divine “guiding light”, are capable of amazing things. This tendency for working towards a greater good seems, to me, to be wired into us. Why should we claim otherwise? I have been fortunate enough to know some truly compassionate human beings in my tenure. My lady is a fine example. She goes out of her way to help complete strangers, without the synoptic gospels and Christs teachings to back her. Naturally compassionate, never once religious.

              “If I were Satan, would give humans plenty of ways to feel like they’ve made a great difference, with the world getting worse all the time. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

              I realize you said “if”, but this seems VERY problematic to me. You seem to be insinuating that Satan is influencing our emotions/thoughts….are you? If so, we need to talk :-p

            • Luke Breuer

              Perhaps you should educate yourself more, then. Once you have a better understanding of homosexuality, it’s rampancy in the animal kingdom, genetic/environmental determining factors, etc perhaps you could state an opinion.

              You yourself have seen the vast amount of diversity in my researching and exploring in reality. Why is it so important that I develop a strong view on homosexuality? Many people are doing this; why is it important that I, Luke Breuer, do so as well?

              I think I see where you’re going with this. Why would we need the “moral code” contained within the bible (well…the gospels, anyway) to better the world in meaningful ways?

              No. What we need are enough people willing to sacrifice in order to truly make the world a better place. Most people know what the right thing to do is; it’s doing it that is the hard part. This is why CS Lewis appealed to the Moral Law in all people in Mere Christianity—he couldn’t do that if only Christians knew this Moral Law.

              I was getting at the fact that human beings, with or without a divine “guiding light”, are capable of amazing things.

              Well, Christians just claim that God extends this thing called “common grace” to everyone, so they kind of have that base covered. But really: a few amazing things here and there don’t necessarily counter the horrible things being done here or there.

              This tendency for working towards a greater good seems, to me, to be wired into us.

              This doesn’t make evolutionary sense. It can only be “a greater good” for some subset. Otherwise there’s no competition, and the organisms who are promoting the greater good of their entire species will likely be out-competed from within their species. I know of no model of evolution which supports what you are claiming. Perhaps you are saying that we have transcended these evolutionary forces? But if so, your “wired into us” would mean wired into our culture, not our genes. Right?

              She goes out of her way to help complete strangers, without a the synoptic gospels to back her; naturally compassionate, never once religious.

              This is great to hear. But are their enough of her to, for example, stop the development of a two-tiered education system, which is happening in the US and in the UK?

            • Void L. Walker

              “You yourself have seen the vast amount of diversity in my researching and exploring in reality. Why is it so important that I develop a strong view on homosexuality? Many people are doing this; why is it important that I, Luke Breuer, do so as well?”

              Because homosexuals suffer daily, are treated like defective models, continually insulted and labelled as disgusting animals. Wouldn’t Jesus want you to learn more about them, considering they are suffering so very much? Why would you NOT want to learn more about them?

              “No. What we need are enough people willing to sacrifice in order to truly make the world a better place. Most people know what the right thing to do is; it’s doing it that is the hard part. This is why CS Lewis appealed to the Moral Law in all people in Mere Christianity—he couldn’t do that if only Christians knew this Moral Law.”

              And only Christs teachings can bring us to this point? Do you honestly think our species would have survived as long as we have (for millions of years before the rise of Christianity) without some natural, moral compass that reaches out to ALL people in need? Clearly we do not always act on it, but still. You seem to be denying that we are naturally capable of what you assume is supernaturally rooted.

              “Well, Christians just claim that God extends this thing called “common grace” to everyone, so they kind of have that base covered. But really: a few amazing things here and there don’t necessarily counter the horrible things being done here or there.”

              I agree! We all need to work harder. The question is, will Christs teachings bring us to this? I say no. Over 2000 years have passed since he allegedly existed, and we have had tons of time to learn from his teaching, then apply what we have learned. Take a look around you, at the world….tell me if this has worked. Um, no.

              You also seem to easily shirk the examples I gave of NON theists operating with a morality you seem to only grant to True Christians ™. Why are you doing this?

              “This doesn’t make evolutionary sense. It can only be “a greater good” for some subset. Otherwise there’s no competition, and the organisms who are promoting the greater good of their entire species will likely be out-competed from within their species. I know of no model of evolution which supports what you are claiming. Perhaps you are saying that we have transcended these evolutionary forces? But if so, your “wired into us” would mean wired into our culture, not our genes. Right?”

              Wrong. I don’t know if I’m a REALLY bad communicator, you’re a really bad receiver, or both. All that I stated was that compassion, empathy and the like seem wired into our behavior. Greater good, in the context I used it, merely means the betterment of our species. We would not, as I stated above, have been capable of surviving as a coherent unit without this natural morality.

              Why is it so hard for you to imagine people genuinely caring and acting for the well being of other humans, known and not known, without Jesus?

              “This is great to hear. But are their enough of her to, for example, stop the development of a two-tiered education system, which is happening in the US and in the UK?”

              Are there enough True Christians to mount an adequate defense? :-p

            • Luke Breuer

              Why would you NOT want to learn more about them?

              For the same reason I don’t want to learn more about the plight of diamond mine workers in Africa: I have other interests and no single person can care about everything simultaneously and accomplish much of any good in the world.

              And only Christs teachings can bring us to this point?

              I’m sorry, but did you read the very text you quoted? “Most people know what the right thing to do is”. Full stop.

              I agree! We all need to work harder. The question is, will Christs teachings bring us to this? I say no. Over 2000 years have passed since he allegedly existed, and we have had tons of time to learn from his teaching, then apply what we have learned. Take a look around you, at the world….tell me if this has worked. Um, no.

              You see no progress over the last 2000 years? It’s not clear what you’re saying, here. There are still people who act as if Mt 23:1-4 were a good way to act, despite Mt 7:1-5 and Gal 6:1-5. Things are certainly better now, but a lot of the things the NT talks about aren’t happening now. Perhaps they don’t work. Or perhaps it just takes a lot of moral energy to do them. Have you ever examined the life of William Wilberforce?

              You also seem to easily shirk the examples I gave of NON theists operating with a morality you seem to only grant to True Christians ™. Why are you doing this?

              How have I shirked them? Furthermore, where have I gotten anywhere close to the idea of “True Christians”? Again and again and again, various atheists and skeptics want to label me as dividing people into True Christians and everyone else. And yet, when I ask them for evidence that I am doing this, the response is silence. Will you be different?

              Greater good, in the context I used it, merely means the betterment of our species.

              Evolution doesn’t make things “better”, except in the sense of “more fit”. Members of the species who are “less fit” leave less progeny and ultimately die out as a family line. Surely you didn’t mean the evolutionary definition of ‘better’?

              Why is it so hard for you to imagine people genuinely caring and acting for the well being of other humans, known and not known, without Jesus?

              It… isn’t. What, precisely, have I said which give you this idea? Apes can care for their kin, without Jesus. Prairie dogs will self-sacrifice for their groups. Whatever will spread those selfish genes will happen, statistically. If cooperation works, excellent. If competition works, excellent. If helping the other group works, excellent. If wiping them out works, excellent.

            • Void L. Walker

              Bi polar….hmm.

              “For the same reason I don’t want to learn more about the plight of diamond mine workers in Africa: I have other interests and no single person can care about everything simultaneously and accomplish much of any good in the world.”

              Fair enough, I’m the same actually….

              “I’m sorry, but did you read the very text you quoted? “Most people know what the right thing to do is”. Full stop.”

              Not to be this way, but…is someone not taking their medication?

              “You see no progress over the last 2000 years?”

              Not the kind of progress I would like, no. I see more poverty, starvation, wars, etc. If Christianity were an effective tool in lessening suffering, would you not expect more impressive results by now? I mean, really, really amazing results, like zero war, minimal crime, a fucking cure for cancer and dementia…wait. Why not an absence of all the aforementioned to begin with? I’ve asked this, many times….not once receiving a satisfactory answer.

              “How have I shirked them?”

              You minimized and trivialized them, remember? Treated them as though they were irrelevant (let me guess, I’m misunderstanding you?. I can provide a link to what you said if you’d like.

              “Evolution doesn’t make things “better”, except in the sense of “more fit”. Members of the species who are “less fit” leave less progeny and ultimately die out as a family line. Surely you didn’t mean the evolutionary definition of ‘better’?”

              Good. Lord.

              When I said better, it was used in a particular context, was it not? You may remember that said context was efficiency at surviving….did you seriously…hmm.

              “what.have I said which give you this idea? ”

              Really? We’ve gone over this like 400 times….

              You have made the claim that only Christian morality motivates us to end *All* suffering, globally. You remember saying this, correct? So basically, us damn naturalists are just fucked. We simply cannot work towards a future where evil/suffering are significantly diminished…. (sarcasm)

              You caught me at a…..rather bad time.

              Hence the”rudeness”……

            • Luke Breuer

              Not to be this way, but…is someone not taking their medication?

              I don’t take medication. I mentioned doing the opposite of kindling; this required friends who were not scared of cyclothymia, incredible mental discipline, and some way to structure my inner world which made sense; I found a non-trivial form of Christianity did this fantastically well. So well that I wonder if there were supernatural help. But I only wonder this; I don’t have the kind of empirical evidence required to make for a scientific study. Surely other people with bipolar and cyclothymia have managed to anti-kindle, without medication?

              If Christianity were an effective tool in lessening suffering, would you not expect more impressive results by now?

              I really just don’t know. What constitutes “ok” results and what constitutes “impressive” results? Recently I took more of your position with a friend and he challenged my imagination on this topic. How do I know what is ‘slow’ progress and what is ‘fast’ progress? You’ve read Guns, Germs, and Steel, right? According to Jared Diamond’s thesis, progress largely depended on completely non-human-caused factors. Could this account for the disparity in technological development around the world, especially in the ~1700s?

              I can provide a link to what you said if you’d like.

              I would appreciate it.

              When I said better, it was used in a particular context, was it not? You may remember that said context was efficiency at surviving….did you seriously…hmm.

              Well, you mentioned characteristics “wired into” us; aren’t they wired in via evolution? And you mentioned “betterment of our species” in that context. But instead of doing this, how about you define “betterment of our species”? And if that definition differs from the standard results of evolution, would you explain how we can rely on functions that evolved to serve evolution, can be used to serve a purpose other than mere continued existence of a species?

              You have made the claim that only Christian morality motivates us to end *All* suffering, globally. You remember saying this, correct?

              I would appreciate knowing what I said which gave you this idea.

            • Void L. Walker

              You have GOT to be kidding me. Are you serious right now? WOW.

              “I would appreciate knowing what I said which gave you this idea.”

              –But we must be careful to move from a local “I helped this person” level to a global “I’m not just helping my own kin and town” level.– You, just a few comments ago. You’ve alluded to this, many times. I’d have to search your entire comment history….is your memory alright?

              “Well, you mentioned characteristics “wired into” us”

              Jesus. Christ. Look back at my original comment. I use certain words and you jump to giant conclusions….wow.

              You really have trouble understanding what people mean, do you realize that? You cannot even establish what context I used the word “better” in. I’m beginning to wonder if you even pay attention, or have the capacity to grasp what I’m saying. Maybe you’re not used to the way I frame things?

            • Luke Breuer

              “I would appreciate knowing what I said which gave you this idea.”

              –But we must be careful to move from a local “I helped this person” level to a global “I’m not just helping my own kin and town” level.– You, just a few comments ago. You’ve alluded to this, many times. I’d have to search your entire comment history….is your memory alright?

              Yeah, I said that. Here, let me quote it nicely:

              VW: The example you gave is kinda….meh.

              LB: What is more important than all people being given the chance to thrive? I hear you when you say that atheists can do the same thing; I believe you. But we must be careful to move from a local “I helped this person” level to a global “I’m not just helping my own kin and town” level. If I were Satan, would give humans plenty of ways to feel like they’ve made a great difference, with the world getting worse all the time. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

              Void, where here did I give the idea that only Christians can do whatever, or only True Christians can do whatever?

              I use certain words and you jump to giant conclusions….wow.

              I shall repeat my question:

              LB: how about you define “betterment of our species”?

              You really have trouble understanding what people mean, do you realize that?

              Yep; sometimes it’s because I have false beliefs those people have to help me root out (instead of just claiming: “There’s a false belief somewhere, find it, like you find Waldo!”). Sometimes it’s because the other person wasn’t as clear or logical as he/she thought he/she was.

            • Void L. Walker

              “Void, where here did I give the idea that only Christians can do whatever, or only True Christians can do whatever?”

              Between the two of us, some 400 comments have been exchanged. I’d need to review some of our earlier discussions to pick this up and give you more examples.

              Essentially, in the past you have stated that “natural” morality is insufficient for global issues; limited to small groups/people we care for. You then argued that Christianity teaches us that one of the best things we can do is minimize evil *globally*. From there, you asserted that Christian morality is the only good solution to the problem of suffering in the world. You’ll have to take my word for it if you honestly do not remember saying that.

              Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you, but you seem to assume that the only *effective* morality is that which is laid out by Christ. Natural morality, then, is given a back seat and old popcorn, then charged 34 bucks. Hmm….poor analogy. Basically, you seem to think that the morality evolution crafted is limited to close knit groups, and cannot extend to the majority of humanity. Is this correct?

              “how about you define “betterment of our species”?”

              Oops, I did not see this originally. I’d be happy to illuminate you. What I meant by “betterment” of our species, in the context I said it, was efficiency at survival. The longer we live, generation to generation, the more opportunity we have to actually live and enjoy our lives. So, in essence, I meant better at surviving/propagating than the generations prior. Perhaps I should have used a different word? I can see how easy it would be to misconstrue.

              “Yep; sometimes it’s because I have false beliefs those people have to help me root out (instead of just claiming: “There’s a false belief somewhere, find it, like you find Waldo!”). Sometimes it’s because the other person wasn’t as clear or logical as he/she thought he/she was.”

              I believe I was not as clear as I could have been…my apologies. I’ll think a bit more about my usage of certain words in the future.

            • Luke Breuer

              Essentially, in the past you have stated that “natural” morality is insufficient for global issues; limited to small groups/people we care for.

              I’m doing my best to argue from our current knowledge of how evolution works. May I point out that there is no “global” in the following?

              What I meant by “betterment” of our species, in the context I said it, was efficiency at survival.

              There is no “every member of our species” in what you’ve said; did you mean to imply it? The only way out I see for you is to either shun evolution as the sole force, or take the modification, “survival of the fittest or equally fit“, and strive to make all humans “equally fit”. Otherwise you’ve departed from evolution, ostensibly via trusting evolved functions:

              VW: All that I stated was that compassion, empathy and the like seem wired into our behavior.

              “wired into our behavior” = “evolved”, no?

              You then argued that Christianity teaches us that one of the best things we can do is minimize evil *globally*.

              Did I actually put Christianity in this slot, or did I ask if anything falls in this slot? I’m pretty sure I indicated the latter. You seem to be filling in voids with your imagination and not with what I actually said.

              From there, you asserted that Christian morality is the only good solution to the problem of suffering in the world.

              Where did I say this??

              Basically, you seem to think that the morality evolution crafted is limited to close knit groups, and cannot extend to the majority of humanity. Is this correct?

              “the majority of”? See The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. But roughly: yes, I do not see how evolution has given us traits to do what you say you want to do. See, for example, the status of Haiti in 2013. You know all that money that was sent there after the 2010 earthquake? Did it actually make Haiti a better place? I’m sure loads of people felt really good about themselves for sending money over there. But did it truly help?

              So, in essence, I meant better at surviving/propagating than the generations prior.

              As long as 1% continue surviving/propagating, the species will have survived, no?

              I believe I was not as clear as I could have been…my apologies. I’ll think a bit more about my usage of certain words in the future.

              Learning to communicate well is a lifelong process. At my cousin’s funeral last year, I told one of my uncles that, “Your choice of communication style merely restricts those with whom you can productively interact.” I presented this as an alternative to saying “You should communicate this way.” In my opinion, ‘should’ is only used toward children who have not fully chosen purposes to pursue in life. Once you’re an adult, you pick what purposes to pursue, and therefore you pick your ‘should’s. In this vein, you pick which people with whom you’d like to be able to productively interact. And you can choose this consciously, or via your other choices, you make a choice here. My uncle asked me where I gained such wisdom. I suppose it came from believing that other people have freedom of the will. :-p

            • Void L. Walker

              “There is no “every member of our species”

              I should have made this more clear, though I did mean to imply it. Next time I’ll choose my words a bit more carefully.

              “wired into our behavior” = “evolved”, no?”

              Yes, that’s what I meant. Let me try to clarify for you.

              When I said that empathy and compassion are “wired” (evolved), what I meant was that these traits have allowed us to survive as a more functional, coherent whole. We would simply not have survived the harshness of the last ice age, for example, were it not for highly social behavior. What could be more conducive to cooperation/long term survival of a highly social animal than theory of mind, empathy, compassion? Try to imagine what hunter gatherer bands would have been like, in adverse conditions, without these traits. It simply would not follow.

              Now, this isn’t to say that natural morality is not without it’s problems, granted, but (as the moral life of babies recently showed), the capacity to care and sympathize is build right into our behavior from the very start.

              “the majority of”? See The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. But roughly: yes, I do not see how evolution has given us traits to do what you say you want to do. See, for example, the status of Haiti in 2013. You know all that money that was sent there after the 2010 earthquake? Did it actually make Haiti a better place? I’m sure loads of people felt really good about themselves for sending money over there. But did it truly help?”

              Here we come right back to a common thread. What, if not natural morality, is sufficient to combat these problems? Christianity? See, this is what I’ve been getting at. You really seem to be insinuating that natural morality is insufficient wrt global suffering. Are we then to conclude that Christian morality is the solution? Where are you going with this?

              Any time I look up world hunger, AIDS, natural disasters I find atheist groups who are giving as much of themselves as possible. They have no “divine” moral code to abide by, yet they act as if Christ was a motivational factor. He wasn’t, though. They just care enough to do something. Do you see what I’m getting at here?

              “Where did I say this??”

              You just alluded to it in the first bit of your comment that I quoted. You maintain that the kind of morality evolution has granted us *seems* weak, and incapable of properly motivating us to act on a global level. If it really is, give me some examples. At bottom, in my opinion, Christianity was conceived by human beings. Much of what you think Jesus actually said could be wrong. See here, for example: http://www.bartdehrman.com/ You should really read one of his older works, Misquoting Jesus. My point? Not only can you not be certain Christ even existed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbTbEvFSSF8 you cannot really be certain the morality you derive from the bible is valid to begin with, or rather, directly from Yahweh. It could have (in my opinion, it was) been created by human beings….naturally.

              “As long as 1% continue surviving/propagating, the species will have survived, no?”

              Where are you going with this?

              “I suppose it came from believing that other people have freedom of the will.”

              Which is one of your biggest problems, IMO. You have not given me one shred of tenable evidence that we are even *partially* free from priori, much less exempt from it, enough to grant us first causation. How the bloody hell could we enact first causes if prior causes are always present?? Yahweh has no prior causes, so that works. We DO, so how can we have a will akin to His? This doesn’t seem to follow, at all.

            • Luke Breuer

              What could be more conducive to cooperation/long term survival of a highly social animal than theory of mind, empathy, compassion?

              A study of outward behavior which promotes human thriving, plus a study of inward behavior (“the inner life”), which establishes known beneficial and known harmful ways of thinking/feeling. This doesn’t replace empathy and compassion, but it can complement and even enhance them. Jesus said to love God with (a) heart; (b) mind; (c) strength; (d) soul. But we can talk about just (a) – (c) for now, and perhaps collapse (a) and (c) into the primal self, and interpret (b) as humans being rational beings.

              We can either accept the consequences of depending entirely on evolved brain tools, or we can try to transcend them. I favor the latter; how about you?

              the capacity to care and sympathize is build right into our behavior from the very start.

              So is the capacity for genocidal hatred.

              What, if not natural morality, is sufficient to combat these problems?

              I am merely trying to establish that “natural morality” is not sufficient. You are the one going on about Christianity being the only alternative. I have not posited that, nor did I mean to imply it. I think it is fascinating to question whether “natural morality” is sufficient and if not, what might be. Do you really want to stake your claims on “natural morality” being sufficient? How was the Holocaust not “natural”?

              Any time I look up world hunger, AIDS, natural disasters I find atheist groups who are giving as much of themselves as possible. They have no “divine” moral code to abide by, yet they act as if Christ was a motivational factor. He wasn’t, though. They just care enough to do something. Do you see what I’m getting at here?

              I just haven’t argued against atheists being forces for good. What I’ve questioned is what the net effect of their efforts is. For example, it doesn’t matter how many parents are taking part in public education in the US and UK, if despite their efforts, public education is turning into a lower-tier kind of education, with the result being a two-tiered society, based on quality of education. The end result will be a two-tiered society. Don’t you see that ‘some good efforts’ ⇏ ‘enough good efforts’? Viewed another way, a big company (say, Walmart) can do a lot of good in the world, but still do more evil by its own business practices. If we do not investigate phenomena globally, we cannot be sure our efforts are enough. Unless ‘enough’ is defined as taking care of our own small group, instead of the world at large.

              You maintain that the kind of morality evolution has granted us *seems* weak, and incapable of properly motivating us to act on a global level. If it really is, give me some examples.

              The trend of public education in the US and UK.

              You should really read one of his older works, Misquoting Jesus.

              I have. It is a wonderful layman’s introduction to textual criticism. Ehrman is remarkably unable to establish any powerful points against Christianity in that book. Yep, Christians have long known about the ending of Mark, the women caught in adultery, etc. Not big deals in the scheme of things. Ehrman was unable to challenge a single core Christian doctrine in Misquoting Jesus.

              It could have (in my opinion, it was) been created by human beings….naturally.

              If so, then you must explain how Jesus wasn’t considered an excellent person kalos kagathos by (a) Greeks and Romans; (b) Jews; (c) his disciples. Recall Peter rebuking Jesus on multiple occasions? Recall Jesus failing to be a political Messiah? Recall Jesus failing to proudly respond to his accusers? Shameful to (a) – (c). This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:2-3, but who would have invented such a Jesus? There is just no way that the OT could be used to ‘construct’ him. And the contemporary concepts just didn’t exist. So from whence did Jesus come? Cause and effect, my friend, cause and effect. Where are the causes? For more, see Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus.

              Where are you going with this?

              “betterment of our species” is a very ambiguous term. Who says that starving Africans have to be fed in order for the “betterment of our species” to be achieved?

              Which is one of your biggest problems, IMO. You have not given me one shred of tenable evidence that we are even *partially* free from priori, much less exempt from it, enough to grant us first causation.

              Well, you dropped the Lagrangian point discussion here, by failing to respond to the first paragraph of the comment to which you were replying.

              How the bloody hell could we enact first causes if prior causes are always present??

              Are “prior causes… always present”? See growing block universe. We can easily be composed of first causes. See Downward Causation, and consider what happens if Sean Carroll’s assumption of causal closure is violated. It’s not even clear we could detect causal closure in principle; see the following Philosophy.SE chat:

              labreuer: I do not understand how science could be done after the rejection of physicalism, other than to only operate inside regimes in which causal closure obtains. You understand how important conservation laws are to ability to model systems, right?

              Rex Kerr: @labreuer – You probably couldn’t do science very well–you’d do it more like social science–in regimes where causal closure was routinely violated. Conservation laws are great when you can get them, but are not absolutely required. (Biology, for instance, makes pretty good headway without relying on conservation laws in any immediate sense.)

              Your rejection of freedom of the will is predicated upon a set of presuppositions that just aren’t obviously true, Void!

            • Void L. Walker

              “I am merely trying to establish that “natural morality” is not sufficient. You are the one going on about Christianity”

              Because you’re a Christian. You ground much of your morality based upon the teachings of Christ, do you not? Also, your alternative to natural morality is clearly motivated by your faith….is it not?

              “I just haven’t argued against atheists being forces for good. What I’ve questioned is what the net effect of their efforts is.”

              Which IS arguing against atheists being forces for good. What good would our efforts ultimately amount to if there were NO possibility of a net effect? Or, rather, no noticeable CURRENT effect. In other words, once again, the morality found in your book o’ fairy tales saves the day, because Jesus was, like, such a nice dude. Good christ man.

              “I have”

              Erhman laid out a lot in that book, but one of the key things to take away from that (and the link to Carriers talk) is that we cannot be certain, even remotely, that Christ existed, or that the synoptic gospels contain his actual words.

              “Well, you dropped the Lagrangian point discussion here, by failing to respond to the first paragraph of the comment to which you were replying.”

              That’s because, when you are confronted with the problems (many, many of them) with free will (first causation variety, especially), you leap off towards metaphysical rants, vagueness, and the like. I’m not the only one who accuses you of this! Andy, Jon, TT to name a few others who agree with me. You do not provide sound evidence, you provide conjecture and speculation.

              Hardly worthy of anyone’s time, Luke. Perhaps you need to modify your arguments a bit more if you wish to be taken seriously?

              “See growing block universe.”

              This is a fine example. When we are discussing human beings with these things called “brains” (ever heard of them?), the issue of free wiill should be argues from a neurological starting point. Why? Because when we make decisions (whether you believe they’re free or not), the process BEGINS and ENDS in the brain. For fucks sake. Stick to cognition, will you?

              “Your rejection of freedom of the will is predicated upon a set of presuppositions that just aren’t obviously true, Void!”

              Oh my Glob. wow.

              Your acceptance of free will (a variety you have yet to even NAME, much less define) is based upon presuppositions, a desire to believe that you are free, and your theology. I’m speaking from experience with people who’s brains have been thrashed, wills adversely affected by this. I’m also speaking from the point of view of a person who has a very lucid understanding of causative chains.

            • Luke Breuer

              Because you’re a Christian. You ground much of your morality based upon the teachings of Christ, do you not? Also, your alternative to natural morality is clearly motivated by your faith….is it not?

              There is a huge gulf between me thinking that Christianity is the best answer to “natural morality” I’ve come across so far, and me claiming that it is the objectively best or only answer. We’ve been over this: clearly I think my way of thinking about things is the best I’ve encountered so far, else I would believe differently. Nothing else makes sense.

              What good would our efforts ultimately amount to if there were NO possibility of a net effect?

              Evolution doesn’t require that all members of a species survive. If your definition of ‘good’ is merely “betterment of the species”, then no global, net effect is required!

              In other words, once again, the morality found in your book o’ fairy tales saves the day, because Jesus was, like, such a nice dude. Good christ man.

              You’re the one who keeps coming to this conclusion. You’re welcome to say that (a) what we’re currently doing will have a positive net effect; (b) there are alternatives to Christianity; (c) even Christianity isn’t having the required net effect; …

              Erhman laid out a lot in that book, but one of the key things to take away from that (and the link to Carriers talk) is that we cannot be certain, even remotely, that Christ existed, or that the synoptic gospels contain his actual words.

              I wasn’t convinced of what you claim from Misquoting Jesus. I’m probably not going to watch the Richard Carrier talk you posted, but I’m attending SF Atheists March Meeting – Dr. Richard Carrier “Hitler Homer Bible Christ” today, so I’ll get a taste of Carrier, there. Hopefully I’ll be able to ask him about Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus.

              You do not provide sound evidence, you provide conjecture and speculation.

              All evidence is seen through theory. I do not recall you ever showing me what kind of evidence would convince you that freedom of the will exists. Instead, you repeatedly come up with examples where you think it does not exist. It is a very “all swans are white” scenario (source), except I have no idea what a “black swan” looks like when the other site of the analogy is examined. I suspect that no possible particle-and-field configuration, nor series of connected configurations, would convince you that freedom of the will exists. What am I to do, in such a situation?

              Hardly worthy of anyone’s time, Luke. Perhaps you need to modify your arguments a bit more if you wish to be taken seriously?

              Nope, that’s pretty much all I’ve got so far, so if you want to dismiss it out of hand without serious consideration, that’s your prerogative. I suggest that we immediately cease all discussion that depends on freedom of the will. Let’s put the kibosh on it.

              Your acceptance of free will (a variety you have yet to even NAME, much less define) is based upon presuppositions, a desire to believe that you are free, and your theology. I’m speaking from experience with people who’s brains have been thrashed, wills adversely affected by this. I’m also speaking from the point of view of a person who has a very lucid understanding of causative chains.

              “Nobody is really good at math because look at all these brain-damaged or brain-diseased people I know…”

            • Void L. Walker

              “Evolution doesn’t require that all members of a species survive. If your definition of ‘good’ is merely “betterment of the species”, then no global, net effect is required!”

              When did I ever say that it did? You seem to be under the impression that I derive my sense of morality from evolutionary theory…wrong. I feel compassion and have felt motivated to act on it in the past. What more do I need? Empathy does not need a religious anchor, nor a “reason”. It just IS…that’s really the most apt way I can put it. I feel compassion and love because I do.

              “You’re the one who keeps coming to this conclusion. You’re welcome to say that (a) what we’re currently doing will have a positive net effect; (b) there are alternatives to Christianity; (c) even Christianity isn’t having the required net effect; …”

              I have already asserted that we do not need Christian morality. The reason I continue to dredge it up is because you’ve given me a very clear impression that you believe it is necessary to put an end to global suffering/evil. I do not think so.

              “I wasn’t convinced of what you claim from Misquoting Jesus. I’m probably not going to watch the Richard Carrier talk you posted, but I’m attending SF Atheists March Meeting – Dr. Richard Carrier “Hitler Homer Bible Christ” today, so I’ll get a taste of Carrier, there. Hopefully I’ll be able to ask him about Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus.”

              I like Carrier, personally. He is in the minority of scholars, which he admits, in that he does not believe Christs existed. But really, you should watch the video. It’s good!

              “All evidence is seen through theory. I do not recall you ever showing me what kind of evidence would convince you that freedom of the will exists.”

              I have, though. If I recall correctly, I said that empirical evidence that every meaningful, complex decision (we are disregarding more simple, motor decisions here) we make is A: detected AFTER we are consciously aware of making said decision, and B: somehow not caused by a prior event. If I saw both of these, conclusively, I would change my mind. As I’ve said, I WANT to believe in free will. I stand only to gain from such a belief.

              “Let’s put the kibosh on it.”

              Fair enough.

              “Nobody is really good at math because look at all these brain-damaged or brain-diseased people I know…”

              Um….wow.

              I never once claimed anything of the sort. What I said, if you’ll remember, is that our ability to “choose” (decision making in general) begins in the brain. The brain is caused by countless little bits, from it’s composition and formation (largely genetic), to the it’s performance (cultural and linguistic exposure, social interactions largely determining this). So, basically, our wills are caused.

              The people I’ve known who suffer from dementia (a few of which went really slow and painfully, mind you) were unable to make decisions at a certain point, because the relevant parts of their brains had been rotted away by this vile disease. They literally saw a notable regression to earlier states of consciousness. In my Grandmas case, that of a 4 year old girl. Very disturbing to see.

              In any case, perhaps now you see my point?

            • Luke Breuer

              You seem to be under the impression that I derive my sense of morality from evolutionary theory…wrong. I feel compassion and have felt motivated to act on it in the past.

              And from whence does your feeling of compassion come? Evolution. What will ‘naturally’ acting on this feeling of compassion achieve? Evolution. What is evolution? Unguided survival of the fittest or as-fit, as defined by whatever happen to be the current selection pressures.

              But really, you should watch the video.

              I find that transcript-less videos do not lead to critical discussion as much as written text does. Such videos are more like TV: consume them. I did get a signed copy of Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013.

              The will is a materiel, fully caused, cognitively eventuated thing. Must I get out a chalk board for you? First causation does NOT follow when something is sufficiently caused, as we are.

              How would you tell the difference between 100% “sufficiently caused” and 99.99% “sufficiently caused”? What scientific experiment would show the difference?

              I’m beginning to wonder if you even think about these things.

              If you ever conclude that I don’t, please tell me so that I can cease all further discussion with you. I wouldn’t want to waste your time, and I don’t care to be your plaything. So if you do ever conclude that I don’t, please man up and tell me.

            • Void L. Walker

              “And from whence does your feeling of compassion come?”

              Of course it does, how else would we have developed the capacity to care? Divine intervention?

              My point, this entire time, has been that morality is natural. The authors of the bible, including the new testament, were on the same footing as I am (they ascribed divinity to what was actually natural). You may label it any way you see fit, but at bottom morality is not supernatural, not a mystical revelation from Yahweh. It is, basically, a very smart adaptation that facilitates deep cooperation and, ultimately, our survival. You may then pose the following question: if I am cognizant of the evolutionary roots of morality, how then could I be spurred to act? Because I *want* to. I want to end suffering, because I know what suffering feels like. That, for me at least, is enough.

              “I find that transcript-less videos do not lead to critical discussion as much as written text does. Such videos are more like TV: consume them. I did get a signed copy of Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013.”

              Damn, you’re lucky. What was he like in person?

              “If you ever conclude that I don’t, please tell me so that I can cease all further discussion with you. I wouldn’t want to waste your time, and I don’t care to be your plaything. So if you do ever conclude that I don’t, please man up and tell me.”

              Man up :-p For some reason that gave me a giggle.

              I know I can be kinda rude sometimes, I’m honestly working on that. I have trouble controlling my emotions. I do enjoy talking with you, Luke. Perhaps we just need to steer clear of the whole free will issue? W do not seem capable of maintaining a prolonged, in depth discussion of it without becoming frustrated by one another.

              Agree to disagree?

            • Luke Breuer

              Of course it does, how else would we have developed the capacity to care? Divine intervention? Knowing that evolution crafted morality does not mean that I must subscribe to everything evolution entails.

              But to the extent that you reject the tendencies of evolution, don’t you have to contort the rationality and emotions that originally served evolution? From whence comes these contortions, except form evolutionary evolved features? It seems like a kind of vicious cycle.

              My point, this entire time, has been that morality is natural.

              Naturalistic fallacy.

              I want to end suffering, because I know what suffering feels like.

              The trick is, reducing the suffering of others often requires the increase of your own suffering. Culture throughout time is rife with exploration of this phenomenon. And what happens when you can sacrifice another individual, in order to benefit many? It’s tricky stuff when you look at how the rubber meets the road. Many people tell themselves they’re making the world a better place without actually verifying that they are.

              What was he like in person?

              He was alright. He said he is the leading scholar on the nonexistence of Jesus, which is a bit interesting, given that he has 4 peer-reviewed articles in his Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013; the description says it contains “all of Dr. Carrier’s peer reviewed academic journal articles in history through the year 2013”. So I’m not sure of that claim of his!

              Agree to disagree?

              Sure.

            • Void L. Walker

              “But to the extent that you reject the tendencies of evolution, don’t you have to contort the rationality and emotions that originally served evolution? From whence comes these contortions, except form evolutionary evolved features? It seems like a kind of vicious cycle.”

              Oh, it IS a vicious cycle. I never said that my beliefs were cathartic, after all.

              “Naturalistic Fallacy”

              Does it trouble you that morality and life may have arisen naturally? Would this depress you?

              “He was alright.”

              Why don’t you just buckle down and watch the youtube video I linked you to. I realize that you prefer active discussion, but still. Watch him speak, at least? If not, no worries. I’m just dreadfully tenacious!

            • Luke Breuer

              Oh, it IS a vicious cycle. I never said that my beliefs were cathartic, after all.

              You seem awfully drawn to things which are cathartic and comforting, even though I’ve explained how I don’t interact with Christianity this way. It’s as if you swallowed Marx’s “religion is the opium of the masses” whole, instead of looking at what it was you were swallowing.

              Does it trouble you that morality and life may have arisen naturally? Would this depress you?

              Maybe it would depress me; many people who have taken prolonged, penetrating looks at the world have killed themselves. David Foster Wallace is an example of this. Have you watched/read his Kenyon College commencement speech? If you haven’t, I highly suggest it.

              I wonder if I would abandon the effort to give all humans equal chances for an excellent life if I lost my belief in anything supernatural, and had to rely on evolved traits in order to achieve the above. You don’t seem to hope for this (correct me if I’m wrong), at least not in a way where you have confidence that it can happen. Not all such confidence works, but the statement “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” does have a kernel of truth.

              Watch him speak, at least?

              Ummm, I did, in person? I’m still disturbed that he calls himself the leading expert on the historical Jesus, among the people who deny he ever existed, with only 4 peer-reviewed papers published between 1995 – 2013. Do you know what’s up with that?

            • Void L. Walker

              “Ummm, I did, in person?”

              :-O I’ve been Breuer’d! I know you saw him in person, but (number of peer reviewed papars aside; as if THAT makes him a better/worse scholar/thinker), you should watch the video….I’ll give you a candy bar?

            • Andy_Schueler

              I suspect that no possible particle-and-field configuration, nor series of connected configurations, would convince you that freedom of the will exists. What am I to do, in such a situation?

              How about trying to demonstrate that the arguments that demonstrate that libertarian freedom is an impossible concept are invalid? Asking which empirical proof would convince us that libertarian freedom is possible is completely ridiculous, there can be no empirical evidence for a priori impossible ideas.

            • Luke Breuer

              If you cannot construct a thing within a given system of axioms and logic, you have two options:

                   (1) the thing cannot be constructed
                   (2) something is wrong with the system

              Historically, I think (2) has more often been demonstrated by showing particle-and-field configurations or evolutions for which (1) was clearly false, because there it is. I currently don’t know how to show (2), except on common sense ground which you very likely reject. An ugly conclusion of your model of the will is that all human interaction is manipulation, and the only question is whether the other person can detect it or not. Funnily enough, atheism and skepticism seem to be often advertised as being free from mind-control.

            • Andy_Schueler

              (2) something is wrong with the system

              Historically, I think (2) has more often been demonstrated by showing particle-and-field configurations

              Good, then lets turn the tables and let me ask you, what empirical evidence could convince you that I simultaneously am Jesus and Lucifer and neither one of them.
              If you cannot tell me which empirical evidence would convince you that this is the case, then there clearly is a problem with the law of non-contradiction.

              An ugly conclusion of your model of the will is that all human interaction is manipulation, and the only question is whether the other person can detect it or not.

              So, all human interaction is manipulation unless logic is Bullshit and married bachelors and square circles could exist. Why?

            • Luke Breuer

              Good, then lets turn the tables and let me ask you, what empirical evidence could convince you that I simultaneously am Jesus and Lucifer and neither one of them.

              If you cannot tell me which empirical evidence would convince you that this is the case, then there clearly is a problem with the law of non-contradiction.

              We’ve discussed this before; one cannot say whether the law of non-contradiction is broken with e.g. Heisenberg’s cat, because whenever we measure things, we see something non-contradictory. And yet we know that really weird shit is going on in between measurements. But perhaps you meant to refer to a different violation of the LNC, like how one libertarianly decides in a way that isn’t either (a) random or (b) pre-determined? As if those were the only raw material from which one can start?

              So, all human interaction is manipulation unless logic is Bullshit and married bachelors and square circles could exist. Why?

              I’ve already explained to you that without ability to time-index, you do have “married bachelors”. If you’re describing a guy over his whole life, maybe he is both married in that life, and a bachelor in that life. So logic doesn’t have to be capital-B Bullshit; it can break down in ways that don’t blow up our world, but do blow up the nice little model that lets you saw LFW is a logical contradiction. For example, we know that there is quantum non-locality. That blows up our idea of locality in a sense, but our idea of locality is still tremendously useful in many domains.

            • Andy_Schueler

              We’ve discussed this before; one cannot say whether the law of non-contradiction is broken with e.g. Heisenberg’s cat

              Bullshit. First of all, it´s Schrödinger´s cat, second – it doesn´t imply that the law of non-contradiction is broken, Schrödinger´s point actually was the exact opposite of the interpretation you are suggesting here, he was explicit that the cat cannot be simultaneously alive and dead and his thought experiment highlights the problems of some interpretations of quantum mechanics because they would require the cat to be simultaneously dead and alive, which is impossible, “Schrödinger´s cat” is a paradox.

              I’ve already explained to you that without ability to time-index, you do have “married bachelors”.

              Oh for fucks sake – try that defense in court:
              “Dear Jury, my client might in fact have murdered the victim, however he did not murder the victim before he actually murdered the victim and without the ability to time-index, my client is simultaneously guilty and innocent. Since I have just proven that my client is guilty and innocent – in dubio pro reo – you have to acquit my client”.
              If your lawyer argued that in front of a jury while you are on trial for murder, you´d be in deep shit because this bullshit would need several promotions to rise to the level of sophistry.

              So logic doesn’t have to be capital-B Bullshit; it can break down

              Yeah, nice try – “a married bachelor isn´t a contradiction because the the married man was a bachelor before he in fact married” – is not a “breakdown of logic”, it´s a way of saying “english, how the fuck does it work?!”

              For example, we know that there is quantum non-locality

              You know, you´d be really good at Calvinball because you are a master of changing the rules on the fly. I remember you recently arguing for the proposition that God cannot violate the laws of logic and could not create a world that contains square circles – but once you encounter an argument that you cannot refute and which leads to a conclusion that you don´t like, well then fuck logic because yadda yadda quantum entanglement yadda yadda time-indexing yadda yadda. You´d be great at Calvinball but you are absolutely terrible when it comes to intellectual consistency.

            • Luke Breuer

              First of all, it´s Schrödinger´s cat

              Ahh yes, thank you; “Heisenberg’s cat” didn’t sound right but I was too lazy to google it. This is what happens when I start posting too early in the morning without enough caffeine.

              it doesn´t imply that the law of non-contradiction is broken

              Which is the precise contradiction that you are claiming happens with LFW? I know of two possibilities: one, that the principle of alternate possibilities, the other is making a reasoned choice that is simultaneously [at least somewhat] free. Shrödinger’s cat applies to PAP, but not the latter.

              Oh for fucks sake – try that defense in court:

              Yep, because everything can be reduced to courtroom analogies. If the thing being talked about doesn’t make sense there, it’s wrong.

              I remember you recently arguing for the proposition that God cannot violate the laws of logic and could not create a world that contains square circles – but once you encounter an argument that you cannot refute and which leads to a conclusion that you don´t like, well then fuck logic because yadda yadda quantum entanglement yadda yadda time-indexing yadda yadda.

              I also don’t think God violates the laws of nature. But which laws of nature? The true ones of course, not the current picture-of-the-thing we currently have. That being said, it’s fruitless to try and reason too far from the laws of nature as we currently understand them. The same goes with the laws of logic. I’m generally going to assume they hold, unless there’s a really good reason not to. I think free will is one of those rare cases where there is sufficient reason. Too much makes sense in the light of free will of the small ∆p variety—perhaps even infinitessimal dp variety, given the possibility of Lagrangian points in thought-space (given that thoughts supervene on particles and fields).

              Paradoxes are often resolved by realizing that we were insisting that reality works in ways that it doesn’t. We were insisting that the building blocks were thus and so, and we were wrong. Particle-wave duality is one example, quantization of bound energy states is another. If I saw an object and reported it as a square and you saw an object and reported it as a circle, there are indeed ways to resolve the paradox without calling at least one of our abilities to perceive properly into question. I explained this to you earlier.

              One clearly cannot just add finitely many dimensions and eliminate the “reasoned choice which is also [at least somewhat] free” paradox. The thing is, I’m happy with it to be a paradox right now. You’ve yet to actually show me how believing in my model of LFW is bad, when it comes to comparing my ability to act in reality to your ability to act in reality. That is, you can only criticize it on a priori grounds, not on a posteriori grounds. I’m more interested in the latter. Too many people assume too strongly that their conception of the a priori is correct.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Which is the precise contradiction that you are claiming happens with LFW?

              For the umpteenth time – a libertarian free choice by definition means that an agent has voluntary control over the choice that is being made. However, the libertarian free choice also by definition requires that it is not caused by anything, a libertarian free choice must be a first cause – else it would collapse to a form of either determinism or indeterminism. But voluntary control over a first cause is a contradiction in terms – it means that an event does happen for a reason but does not happen for a reason, it is a square circle.

              Yep, because everything can be reduced to courtroom analogies. If the thing being talked about doesn’t make sense there, it’s wrong.

              It never makes sense a conjunction like “married bachelor” in english implies that the two adjectives are meant to apply for the same grammatical tense. Saying that it isn´t a contradiction in terms because the man was not married before he got married means nothing beyond the fact that you are unable to parse an extremely simple construct in the english language.

              I also don’t think God violates the laws of nature. But which laws of nature? The true ones of course, not the current picture-of-the-thing we currently have. That being said, it’s fruitless to try and reason too far from the laws of nature as we currently understand them. The same goes with the laws of logic.

              First of all, that means that in order to be honest, you would have to state up front whenever you discuss with someone that you do not accept the laws of logic, including the LNC, as a non-negotiable basis of rational discourse and that you will reject them out of hand as soon as you cannot refute an argument that leads to a conclusion that you do not like (because that is exactly what you do right now).
              Second, Aristotle anticipated all objections to the LNC that anyone has ever come up with so far – it is non-negotiable, you cannot reject it without categorically rejecting rational discourse. Because logical reasoning has literally no basis whatsoever without the LNC, no conclusion could ever necessarily follow from a set of premises, rather, an arbitrary number of arbitrary conclusion could follow from any given set of premises and it would be by definition impossible to make a rational decision about which conclusion(s) (yes, “conclusions“, because an arbitrary number of contradictory conclusion could follow from any set of premises) to pick. In other words, if you reject the LNC, cool, then everyone else can dismiss out of hand everything you ever argued for without being irrational (actually, the word “rational” would literally lose all meaning, just like the word “truth”).

              I think free will is one of those rare cases where there is sufficient reason.

              Nope, no can do – you cannot just decide that the LNC generally applies unless you do not like a particular conclusion, if it doesn´t hold it doesn´t hold, period.

              Too much makes sense in the light of free will of the small ∆p variety

              Factually wrong. Spectacularly wrong. In order for anything to “make sense” given libertarianism, you´d have to come up with a model of what exactly it means to make a libertarian free choice – and no philosopher ever came even close to coming up with such a model, because it becomes a contradiction in terms from the get go, it doesn´t make any sense at all.
              Go ahead, try it yourself – an agent has to choose between A and B and makes the libertarian free choice to pick A. Now tell me – why did he pick A? If you can tell me why he picked A, assume that I continue asking “why?” questions for whatever reason you come up with ad infinitum until you find a way to terminate the causal chain. If you cannot tell me why the agent picked A and / or argue that there is no “why answer” here, in principle – then explain to me what it means to say that an agent voluntarily choses to pick A, but A was also being picked FOR NO REASON AT ALL.
              Go ahead, explain that – if you cannot explain it, then libertarian free choices do NOT “make sense” to you, quite the opposite – you have actually no idea what it would even mean to make a “libertarian free choice”.

              If I saw an object and reported it as a square and you saw an object and reported it as a circle, there are indeed ways to resolve the paradox without calling at least one of our abilities to perceive properly into question. I explained this to you earlier.

              Completely irrelevant because none of those reconciliations imply in any way, shape or form that an object actually was square and a circle.

              The thing is, I’m happy with it to be a paradox right now. You’ve yet to actually show me how believing in my model of LFW is bad

              :-D
              So you are in Calvinball mode again, just a few days ago you replied to me on Randal´s blog with a comment that stated that you do not believe in a “noble lie” under any circumstances, that truth is always better than falsehood. And now you are happy with having contradictory beliefs because no one can show that those beliefs are “bad”.
              You make it up as you go along – good for Calvinball, terrible for intellectual consistency.

            • Luke Breuer

              That’s a lot of aggravation aimed toward someone you believe could not have chosen differently. Lots of italics, too.
              Tell me, Andy: were physicists wrong to hold onto light being both a particle and a wave, before they knew how that paradox could be resolved? Was it irrational of them? Alternatively, is it wrong for scientists to think that QFT and GR will be unified, even though we know of no way they can be so far?
              I get that there’s a logical paradox within LFW. You want to say that this is important for my interlocutors to know in every conversation I have; should I see a six-pointed star and stick it on whatever shirt/jacket I am wearing? You certainly seem to think I’m tainted, severely enough for all others to be made aware of it.
              And yet you can’t point out how my belief in LFW actually damages my actions. Curious.

            • Andy_Schueler

              That’s a lot of aggravation aimed toward someone you believe could not have chosen differently.

              Oh you could have chosen differently, but you didn´t want to.

              Tell me, Andy: were physicists wrong to hold onto light being both a particle and a wave, before they knew how that paradox could be resolved?

              Yeah, because that´s what wave-particle dualism means… Actually, no, it doesn´t mean that at all – it means that light has particle-like and wave-like properties, it isn´t either one, but has some attributes of both. No one believed that light could be both, it was clear to everyone that that would be impossible.

              You want to say that this is important for my interlocutors to know in every conversation I have; should I see a six-pointed star and stick it on whatever shirt/jacket I am wearing?

              Wow…. I honestly would not have guessed that you could think that low. Well, if you have to declare intellectual bankruptcy in a discussion, you might as well crap on the table and tell everyone to go fuck himself while doing it amirite?!
              Protip: If you want to be an even bigger ass and make fun of the holocaust even more than you are doing right now, try including the “First they came for the Communists…” quote

              And yet you can’t point out how my belief in LFW actually damages my actions. Curious.

              Well, you can´t point out how my disbelief in Jeebus “damages my actions”, curious… I guess that means that we can reject every argument for Jeebus that you will ever come up with out of hand, by simply pointing this out. That´s gonna be a time saver.

            • Nerdsamwich

              The TC’s are the ones making it happen.

            • Void L. Walker

              I’m sorry, what is a TC?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Did I not give you a prediction that can be verified/falsified?

              You did. But it is useless as a “test” in the way you imagine it. To illustrate, imagine I would propose the following test for atheism: if there is no God, then people who believe that there is no God should be able to hold their breath underwater for 1.5 minutes. I don´t believe that there are any Gods and I can hold my breath underwater for 1.5 minutes, ergo, there is no God.
              It´s trivial to see why the conclusion does not at all follow – because I did not bother to come up with an argue for why I should only be able to hold my breath that long if there is no God + I didn´t even try to check whether people who do believe in a God could do the same.

              The conclusion that Jesus is real and that you know something about him similarly doesn´t follow from this:
              “Healing the flesh is great; healing the whole person is on an entirely different level. I’ve had the privilege of taking part in the latter; to do so, I used quite a few claims grounded in my understanding of Christianity, to speed up the recovery time of an atheist. It worked. Test passed.”

              – for the exact same reasons.

            • Luke Breuer

              You remind me of The Karate Kid, who got pissed off at having to do menial tasks that seemed to have nothing to do with Karate.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Is that your new strategy? Mention random movies whenever you run out of answers?

            • Sorry, but the meme sums up what you’re questions have been like to me.

              Honest_John_Law and I started out having a very specific conversation and then you took it somewhere else.

              It would be like overhearing someone ask a guy at the coffee shop what time it is, then upon you hearing the guy say 12:00 noon you proceed to approach the guy who gave the answer and ask him about his metaphysical presuppositions concerning temporality. It’s not that those questions are bad or wrong to ask, it’s just that wasn’t the conversation being had.

            • Luke Breuer

              I routinely have people jump on me, on Jonathan Pearce’s blogs, about statements I make that seem completely off to the person doing the jumping. Sometimes they’re right. If you’d rather this not happen, fine.

            • :) I’m not upset or anything, I was just caught off guard. Maybe I should apologize. I’ve been away from blogs of this nature for a little while now–after getting burned out on ultimate questions–so it might take me a bit to get used to it again.

              What I REALLY want to know is how you getting those paragraph bars? I tried quoting someone’s post using html, but it didn’t work.

            • Luke Breuer

              :-) What I can say is that, ~13 years ago, I started posting on the internet. I trusted my imagination and ability to think about things I really didn’t understand, way too much. I was repeatedly called on it, until I learned when I knew enough to state something with confidence, and when I did not. In my experience, our imaginations are only trustworthy where they’ve been tested and honed.

              <blockquote>Blockquoted text!</blockquote>

              Blockquoted text!

            • Sarah Palin

              Heaven is a possible world in with humans have libertarian freewill and there are no evils since people freely chose not to do then since their nature is as benevolent as can be. So yes, anyone can imagine a world in which an Omni-diety could have created in which there was no kinds of evils. The questions arises why, if there is such a omnibenevolent god, did it not create such a universe in the first place. The most parsimonious answer is that either there is no such god, or god is best understood as deistic and so apathetic.

            • Luke Breuer

              That you trust your imagination about what it takes to create universes and how they’d turn out and such is just awesome.

    • Joe G

      You sound like a little brat who didn’t get his way. And you “argument” doesn’t show that God doesn’t exist or is not all loving.

      You do realize that Christians, Jews and Muslims explain pain and suffering via the fall from grace- right? But you just ignore that as if your ignorance shpould mean something to them.

      • Void L. Walker

        “You sound like a little brat who didn’t get his way.”

        You sound like an angry little fundamentalist who scarcely takes the time to think about anything short of your dogma.

        “You do realize that Christians, Jews and Muslims explain pain and suffering via the fall from grace- right?”

        This “explanation” is empty and easily refuted.

        The “fall from grace” you mention is at odds with a loving, omni deity.

        Your options are as follows:

        God created human beings with free will, knowing full well that there would be dire consequences for doing so (if you deny this, your God is no longer “omni” by any stretch). This knowledge of potential outcomes makes God as culpable as his “free willed” agents. Therefore, your God is about as loving as a careless, drugged-up mother; essentially allowing free will to take precedence to our well being/safety.

        The second option is that God just didn’t know what we would do, which (as noted above) robs him of omniscience.

        You, my friend, are ignorant.

        • Joe G

          The Fall is not at odds with any deity and you can’t make the case that it is. And talk about childish “arguments”, yours takes the cake. And no one cares about your opinions of God.

          • Void L. Walker

            Thanks for supporting your claims with actual evidence….oh, wait….hmm.

            • Joe G

              Void- everything you post is void of evidence. You didn’t make any case, you just spewed some unsupported tripe.

              I am not a fundamentalist, Void- you lose. I am not religious either- you lose. YOURS is teh dogma- evidence free.

              And again love and suffereing and sacrifice all go together. And God is not limited to your narrow-minded point of view.

            • Void L. Walker

              “I am not a fundamentalist, Void- you lose. I am not religious either- you lose. YOURS is teh dogma- evidence free.”

              Oh, wow.

              You are religious, Joe…you know it, too. Why are you always lying? Seriously. One minute you are defending religious view points, linking to YEC and Christian sources. The next minute you aren’t religious. Seriously? What ever happened to “Though Shalt Not Lie?”

      • Hahaha

      • Joe. There are some issues here. Primarily, I would like to think that people who post here can show some degree of intellectual and emotional maturity. Please do so. You are not making yourself look good here. Take Luke on this same thread. As a Christian poster, he is both thoughtful and respectful. And he has something of worth to say.

        Secondly, you assume your defence, the Fall, a) actually answers the problem b) ins adhered to universally and c) is coherent. On b) I know plenty of Christians who do not adhere to the Fall, so don’t go around bratting threads based on what is not necessarily anywhere near universally accepted. I come from the UK where the notion of the Fall is minimally posited by Christians. On c), as Void hints we have a problem. All extra-biblical evidence contradicts a historical Fall.

        Now this is fascinating, because in other threads you espouse the idea that you are not Christian and do not really care for the truth of the Bible per se, but defend straw men attacks on it. If this was truly the case, rather than a poorly concealed ruse to make your ID position less Christian based and religiously motivated, then why do you attack with juvenile personal taunts citing that the Bible defends such a generic and philosophical attack on a deity? This is called double standards, and generally not making any sense.

        And then there is a). You see, the argument cannot be defended by a). The argument posits that God has foreknowledge of humanity’s fall. He knows who will fall and how far. He knows the ones who will be saved. The argument posits that he would and should merely create the heaven with those who fell the least, who freely came to love him.

        You see, Joe, my rather naïve commenter, the Fall is essentially irrelevant to the argument. The Fall tells me WHY people supposedly fell, not what could be done to avoid the whole shebang. For all I care, the Fall of man could have happened because Jeff leaned over to the left on a Tuesday. Whoop de doo.

        What I am doing is showing why punishing for whatever reason is given is unnecessary and creates avoidable suffering whilst being able to obtain the same core result: loving relationships with God with people who freely come to love him.
        Your rather immature rants add nothing to the conversation. By all means comment, just don’t waste my time with poorly thought out diatribe which would more usually be expected from a petulant child, commonly defined as a brat.

        Ye who casts the fits stone, and all.

        • Joe G

          LoL! Perhaps you should take your own advice as you are not posting with any maturity.
          And there isn’t any punishment. You are just daft. As for christians that don’t adhere to the fall, well they are just daffy. The Fall is in the Bible and if they don’t accept the Bible then they can’t be christians.

          • Luke Breuer

            Joe do you think Christians ought to discover what is true, or decide what is true (or let some other person decide for them)? You don’t seem to be doing much discovering, nor giving others much opportunity to discover. It’s as if you’ve just decided all this stuff. Hopefully I’m wrong!

    • Joe G

      If you really want to get rid of God just start demonstrating that materialism is true. However it is obvious that you can’t do that so you rae forced to ignorantly flail away at religions. What pathetic little people you have become.

      • lulz X 2

      • Red herring. Informal logical fallacy.

        • Joe G

          Wrong again, as usual. And the least you can do is TRY to make your case.

          • Void L. Walker

            Joe, could you just submit your body to science already? Grant us ample time to properly study you? What revelations we would have about ignorance/cognitive biases!

        • Sarah Palin

          Why do you tolerate people like Gus and Joe G and the others like him?
          Also, is skeptical theism the best answer theist have when facing the evidential problem of evil? Have you watched Stephen Law vs William Lane Criag?
          Though I wish Law had delved deeper into the topic, but skeptical theism sounds like nothing more than an appeal to ignorance.
          To make a comparison, its like showing that the pyramids were most likely built by humans, but the ancient alien person will argue how do you know that aliens did not use humans to build the pyramids? How do you know how alien’s minds work? Etc.

    • Luke Breuer

      I made a recent comment which is very relevant to this issue:

      I have another question: at what point does a simulated or imagined being become ‘real’? Suppose, for example, that we humans gain enough computational power to run a virtual world occupied by digital, sentient, sapient beings. Are we, the programmers, guilty of doing evil if those beings suffer in ways we could have prevented? Or are they not ‘real’? Are they just p-zombies, who can be turned on and off at will? Suppose they are real. Does this mean that sufficiently realistic beings that we imagine in wetware are as ontic as those digital beings? Is it actually impossible for God to imagine a realistic world without it actually existing?

      It seems to be incredibly important that we settle the above question. Perhaps the Simulation Argument or related work would be helpful? It may be that the very premise of Gale’s article—that God could realistically simulate the ‘good’ beings and then reify only them—is false.

      I am operating under the assumption that God either cannot, or would not, violate the laws of logic.

    • Joe G

      So just because atheists are totally ignorant of God’s plan and God’s reasoning, God is bad. Just because God doesn’t live up to atheists’ expectations God is bad.
      That is just pathetic. Why is it that people are not responsible for their actions?

      • Void L. Walker

        “So just because atheists are totally ignorant of God’s plan and God’s reasoning”

        But you know Gods plan, right? So what is it? You seem to be BFF’s with Yahweh, after all. Illuminate us.

        “Just because God doesn’t live up to atheists’ expectations”

        God doesn’t even live up to most theists expectations, much less atheists, which is one of the reasons that the Christian faith has the largest apologist base of any faith, by a factor of 10.

        “Why is it that people are not responsible for their actions?”

        Why is Yahweh not culpable for creating us with first causation?

        • Joe G

          No one know’s God’s plan, Void of mind. And God doesn’t have to live up to anything. But thanks for avoiding the real issue which is we need to take responsibility for our actions. Obviously you, being Void of mind, can’t even do that.

          • Void L. Walker

            LMAO (somehow I knew, when I picked this username, that morons such as you would use it against me…)

            “But thanks for avoiding the real issue which is we need to take responsibility for our actions.”

            No, Joe. Thank YOU for not even trying to understand the arguments we use. Good lord, man. You are so incredibly hopeless.

            • Joe always has bad arguments. This time he takes the biscuit. Seriously dubious. Well, actually, he HAS no arguments…

            • Void L. Walker

              I’d take an honest, intelligent christian like Luke over Joe any day of the week. My patience has expired….

            • Sarah Palin

              Joe knows that atheists just hate god, and that there use of logic, and reason, and evidence is only a ruse what Joe doesn’t know is that I killed jesus!

            • Void Walker

              Joe is special. So, so very special.

    • Joe G

      Jon- You say that a loving God wouldn’t allow suffering. However it is obvious that love is all about suffering and sacrifice- well maybe not all about it but love definitely entails suffering and sacrifice. It’s as if you cannot have love without suffering and sacrifice.

      That said, God isn’t beholden to our definitions nor is God beholden to how anyone thinks God should run the universe.

      As for the video why didn’t the ass put down the camera and put the buffalo out of its misery? Someone on that venture must have had a rifle. And BTW, naturalism can’t explain living organisms, let alone the lions, tigers and bears, oh my…

      • Ignoring your last paragraph as it has nothing to do with the discussion…

        1) God wouldn’t allow gratuitous suffering

        2) “love entails suffering” – really? Show that. Prove it. Argue for it. Assertions do nothing.”It’s as if you cannot have love without suffering and sacrifice” is merely an assertion which doesn’t seem to obtain.

        3) “That said, God isn’t beholden to our definitions nor is God beholden to how anyone thinks God should run the universe.” – God is beholden to logic, as according to most every theist.

        4) You have not even engaged with the argument. I am not sure you have read it, let alone understood it.

        • Sarah Palin

          What do you make of the post by Laurence England (its the newest/ top post)

    • Laurence England

      The doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin might assist you.

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm

      • Sarah Palin

        Since evolution works by natural selection and random mutation, and humans came to the scene around 100,000-200,000 years ago and death and disease and chaotic extinctions predate humans (i.e. the asteroid clashing into earth causing the death of countless creatures that do not share said sin, how do catholics make sense of any of this with out violating Occam’s Razor, and creating ad hoc rationalizations?