Saturday, September 08, 2012

This is a nice critique of Loftus

Loftus says that Satan would be stupid to rebel against God if he were to exist. But, on another post, he says he would not worship an omnipotent being if he were to exist.

From Randal Rauser.

54 comments:

Crude said...

Randal is great. I disagree with him a lot, often strongly, but he's sharp and wily.

___________________________ said...

Interesting issue though:
Aren't the two positions possibly compatible?

1) Under Christian theism, God is obviously omnipotent, but he is also obviously moral. As such, rebellion against God makes no sense on moral grounds or on practical grounds.

2) However, if the assumption of obvious morality is dropped, rebellion against such a being can make sense on moral grounds. An atheist may consider the actual God depicted by Christianity to be immoral, and thus it may be rational to rebel in that circumstance.

So, the two claims are compatible so long as the contexts for these claims involve different assumptions between each.

Crude said...

An atheist may consider the actual God depicted by Christianity to be immoral, and thus it may be rational to rebel in that circumstance.

I question the rationality of any claim which states "rebel against the omnipotent guy".

More than that, the amount of twisting and turning you have to go through to even begin making sense of the two statements is considerable. As Rauser loosely said, apparently the "dumb as rocks" conclusion kicks in.

rank sophist said...

In my opinion, a better critique of Loftus would be to ignore him as the fraud that he is.

Jennifer Harman said...

"I question the rationality of any claim which states 'rebel against the omnipotent guy'."

On one hand this resonates with me. On the other it appears to entail accepting "Divine Command Theory". For me, however, that theory fails, since I find certain behaviors unacceptable, regardless of what God might think.

Would you accept any act as moral, just so long as God advocates it?

Jen

Woody said...

As C.S. Lewis argued, God's omnipotence is most magnificently displayed in His ability and willingness to create beings who are actually capable of resisting Him, for it is capacity alone that makes acceptance of Him meaningful and rejection of Him possible.

Crude said...

On one hand this resonates with me. On the other it appears to entail accepting "Divine Command Theory". For me, however, that theory fails, since I find certain behaviors unacceptable, regardless of what God might think.

I'm not even talking about morality here. Say he's completely immoral if you like. Omnipotence is omnipotence.

I'd love to see someone defend the following claim: "It's sometimes rational to try and rebel against someone who is truly omnipotent, and you know they are."

Would you accept any act as moral, just so long as God advocates it?

I lean heavily towards classical theism, for which this sort of question doesn't even seem to make sense. As I said, my statement isn't really hooked to morality.

Jennifer Harman said...

"I'm not even talking about morality here. Say he's completely immoral if you like. Omnipotence is omnipotence."

Seems to me, this statement makes you a Divine Command guy. How could it be otherwise?

For me, certain behaviors on the part of "God" would make him Satan himself. I would summarily reject that "God", come what may.

You would, it seems, accept any behavior he commands.

Am I wrong?

Crude said...

Seems to me, this statement makes you a Divine Command guy. How could it be otherwise?

Because what I'm saying has nothing to do with Divine Commands or morality?

For me, certain behaviors on the part of "God" would make him Satan himself. I would summarily reject that "God", come what may.

You would, it seems, accept any behavior he commands.


You don't seem to understand: you're dealing with an omnipotent being. Unless this being is pulling back and intentionally limiting its power, you reject or accept at its will. I didn't say "It would be moral" - as I said, you could call this being flatly immoral if you so choose. With an omnipotent being, barring the aforementioned intentional limitation, your options are "do what it wills", "do what it wills", and "do what it wills".

Like I said: construct an argument for me wherein it's rational to oppose the will of an omnipotent being that you know is, in fact, omnipotent.

You say "you'd accept" as if defying the will of the omnipotent being is a live option. It's a little like dropping a rock off the edge of a cliff and refusing to accept that it will fall to the bottom. Let me know how that works out.

Jennifer Harman said...

"You say 'you'd accept' as if defying the will of the omnipotent being is a live option. It's a little like dropping a rock off the edge of a cliff and refusing to accept that it will fall to the bottom. Let me know how that works out."

If the "divine being" wants to send me to eternal torment because I protest "His" immoral behaviors, then so be it.

Again, how is your view not equivalent to Divine Command Theory"?

By the way, you claim my view is irrational. How so? That would require that my view is formally illogical. How would you establish that?

Jennifer Harman said...

Also, my intuition tells me that an omnipotent being could not possibly be immoral. So you're claim that he could be otherwise is not a live option for me.

Crude said...

Jennifer,

If the "divine being" wants to send me to eternal torment because I protest "His" immoral behaviors, then so be it.

No. Again, you may not understand 'omnipotence' in this context.

Let me put it to you this way: if an omnipotent being decides, "I'd like Jennifer Hartman to have a change of heart right now, and decide that Divine Command Theory is a brilliant idea after all.", do you think resisting this is an option?

Do you think the being has to say "Well, if she doesn't, I'll threaten her with hellfire!"?

Again, how is your view not equivalent to Divine Command Theory"?

Because DCT involves judgments on what is and isn't moral. I'm completely ignoring that question and focusing on practicality.

By the way, you claim my view is irrational. How so? That would require that my view is formally illogical. How would you establish that?

What I said was that I would love to see someone argue that planning to defy an omnipotent being, who was known to be omnipotent (and, I should add, was not intentionally holding back their will) was rational.

Really, I am not defending DCT here.

Jennifer Harman said...

"Let me put it to you this way: if an omnipotent being decides, 'I'd like Jennifer Hartman to have a change of heart right now, and decide that Divine Command Theory is a brilliant idea after all.', do you think resisting this is an option?"

No I don't.

However, I don't think a sufficiently powerful being would have to be necessarily be omnipotent to impose that mindset on me, so I don't think invoking omnipotence is particularly relevant.

In the end, I, like you, decide how to behave and what to believe based on my native inclinations. That's all either of us have.

I admit there are an infinite number of ways my views could be wrong and only one way in which they could be right. But you're in the same boat. No?



Jennifer Harman said...

"What I said was that I would love to see someone argue that planning to defy an omnipotent being, who was known to be omnipotent (and, I should add, was not intentionally holding back their will) was rational."

I can't show it is rational, I admit. Can you show it is irrational? How does one do formal logic in this context?

Walter said...

Does not the critique linked to in the OP actually show how implausible the Satan character really is? Satan would have had direct evidence of God's omnipotent power, yet -assuming he had free will - supposedly chose to rebel anyway out of pride? It makes little sense. The Old Testament seems to portray Satan as being more in the employ of God rather than rebel; that would at least make a little more sense.

Mr Veale said...

I didn't realise that there were ads on Dangerous Idea. The ad on top of the blog pictures a not-so-middle-aged lady who has lost her wrinkles by using some wonder cream. Not realising that it was an advertisement, I thought Vic had attached an illustration to his post!
It looked as if "a Nice Critique of Loftus" involved a trick for looking 10-15 years younger...

Graham

Mr Veale said...

Walter

That's the point: evil doesn't make sense. It brings power, but it is irrational and chaotic.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

I got into some scraps with Loftus on this blog a while back; I put some of my thoughts into this wee article. http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/why-the-outsider-test-is-an-abject-failure/

I'm not sure if OTF is worth responding to; but it seems to have caught the attention of Coyne and Halquist recently. So I reckoned it was worth saying something.

Graham

Jennifer Harman said...

Isn't it possible that Satan's impulse to assert his autonomy overshadowed his impulse to protect himself?

Would outward conformity be enough to save him anyway? God knows his rebellious heart either way.

Walter said...

Walter

That's the point: evil doesn't make sense. It brings power, but it is irrational and chaotic.


In the Christian story, Satan was once God's archangel. What does this say about God that one of his best was created with such egregious flaws? God's greatest angel would have to be monumentally stupid to rebel against an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being. Satan would have to be more insane than evil.

Calvinists solve this little conundrum by denying that anyone - angels include - have true free will. By their reasoning Satan and humanity were manipulated by God into falling to further the divine plan. Judaism portrays Satan as an accuser that is doing God's bidding by testing mankind's faith and acting as a prosecutor against us, while still working directly for God and not against him.



Jennifer Harman said...

If Satan actually believed that his rebellion had a chance of succeeding against an omnipotent God, then I agree that he is insane.

But maybe his actions resulted from an overpowering impulse to rage against authority and take a gratifying swipe at the One he hates. Once his heart was set against God, maybe he had nothing more to lose. Just wanted to "raise some hell" on the road to his inevitable oblivion.

Cale B.T. said...

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

Woody said...

In the Christian story, Satan was once God's archangel. What does this say about God that one of his best was created with such egregious flaws? God's greatest angel would have to be monumentally stupid to rebel against an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being. Satan would have to be more insane than evil.

What if God limited His omnipotence by creating world where he wanted beings to choose to genuinely love Him and have a relationship with him? In that case Satan would know that and he rebelled because he thought he will exist for eternity and God couldn't revoke his free will if he wanted to have a world where He can achieve this purpose, Satan doesn't know what God knows so in that regard he is stupid and can make stupid decisions. With great potential of being good comes great potential of being bad. My second point is this, there would be still some degree of ambiguity between God and angels if free will has to be not coerced. God took a risk of creating free agents, but by being omniscient He knows that at the end it will be worth it. By the way Calvinism is flawed because if "God is Love" then the evil can't be his tool to achieve His purpose. I recommend a book "Satan and the problem of evil: Constructing A Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy" by Greg A. Boyd

Syllabus said...

"Really, I am not defending DCT here."

As well you shouldn't. If you go at ethics from a divine command theory standpoint, you usually end up in nominalism/voluntarism (there are ways not to, but they're still shaky, since you share too many starting premises with the voluntarists to comfortably evade their conclusions). Under that theory (voluntarism), morality and immorality are totally porous categories - in other words, God could say "rape is awesome!" tomorrow and that would compel us to proclaim rape an ethical action. Or, to use an actual example, God can predestine people to destruction while still saying that He desires that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. Highly problematic, to say the least.

"If Satan actually believed that his rebellion had a chance of succeeding against an omnipotent God, then I agree that he is insane."

Beings who give their entire life over to jealousy and envy are not known to be the most rational or sane of beings. According to Christian tradition, that's pretty much the position that Satan is in.

BenYachov said...

So many corrections to make. Where to begin?


Jennifer writes:
>1) Under Christian theism, God is obviously omnipotent, but he is also obviously moral.

Only too a Theistic Personalist concept of God. From a Classical Theistic Perspective God's Goodness does not constitute moral agency. God is not a moral agent. God is metaphysicallty Good, Ontologically good and the source and basis of all created good. But God is not morally good and given his nature in the classic sense cannot be coherently described as such. God cannot be obligated by His creatures so how can he be a moral agent too them? He simply can't.

>However, if the assumption of obvious morality is dropped, rebellion against such a being can make sense on moral grounds.

You have a false alternative here. The choice between moral vs immoral but if God is not a moral agent in the first place then the choice does not apply.

Walter writes:
>Does not the critique linked to in the OP actually show how implausible the Satan character really is? Satan would have had direct evidence of God's omnipotent power, yet -assuming he had free will - supposedly chose to rebel anyway out of pride? It makes little sense.

You assume here Satan had a human being's capacity for free will(which fell from a direct act of tempation by an outside force). You should read the Fathers more. God merely gave the angels a greater capacity for free will then He gave man. Thus they had the power to self-temp and or self-desceve as well as a greater power to believe and obey.

Remember I told you last time Walter the Church teaches in Her Holy Tradition(which is equal to Scripture) that the Angels where not give the Beatific Vision at their creation but the angelic equivolence of Sanctifying Grace. It was within their power to rebel and they could have simply chosen not too.

Also there is a tad bit of Milton in these objections and little of the Church Tradition. Milton portrayed the War in Heaven as Satan trying to overthrow God by force based on the politics of his day. Going by the Bible and Tradition Satan seems to have tried to get the other Fallen Angels to worship him and defy God's Will not attack God direcly which would be impossible.

The War in Heaven was between the Good angels who are charged with kicking Satan out for this rebellion. Not protecting God from being overthrown.

Mr Veale said...

Walter
It is good for a being to have free-will. Free-will allows certain kinds of love and fidelity to exist.
Of course, this means that a person can value their own advantage over what is good. This might seem like a rational choice in the short term; even an angel might be able to convince himself that wickedness is wise.
Or, like Milton's Satan, a free being might reason "better to rule one hour in hell" than to serve forever in heaven. Satan chooses his own good; in other words, Satan becomes evil.
To my mind, Christianity gives us an insight into evil that is impossible for secularism.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

So - it was good for God to create a being with free-will; and that free being made his own choice, and chose his own ruin. I don't think there is a problem for Christianity here.

Graham

Ilíon said...

No one, except themselves, has ever said that 'atheists' are logical, much less logically consistent. Hell, there's even good reason to wonder whether they're even rational in the first place.

Ilíon said...

To rebel against God *just is* to rebel against the fact that anything exists.

God is Being Itself, God is "the Ground of all being" -- all that exists exists logically dependent upon and in ralation to God. So, to rebel against God is to say, "It is my will/desire that nothing exist". And that, not God's omnipotence, is why it is irrational to rebel against God.

Walter said...

It's just that I find the Calvinistic or Jewish teachings to be somewhat more plausible than believing that God's highest created being suddenly went nuts on his own accord. It's more plausible to me to say that God desired Satan's "rebellion" and he insured that it would occur because it served a purpose in the divine plan, or the Jewish response that Satan tempts man at God's behest.

For the record, I actually don't believe in angels nor demons at all, but it is an interesting thought experiment.

Samwell Barnes said...

Typical Ilion. Begs multiple questions with his usual horribly suffocated prose, imbued with snark and an absurd tone of superiority.

He simply takes it as axiomatic that:

(1) God exists.
(2) God is properly conceived as the Ground of All Being.

But these propositions are exactly what is at issue to begin with, so that to assert them at the outset would be to argue in a circle.


Like I said, typical Ilion.

Samwell Barnes said...

And another thing: God conceived as "Being Itself" is historically and by strict logical necessity the God of classical theism, which is tradition of theism that Ilion despises. Yet evidently he has no qualms about helping himself to the concepts of classical theism whenever it serves his rhetorical purposes.

Ilíon said...

^ What a fool.

He will not reason logically (unless it's that he cannot, in which case I err in calling him a fool) ... and isn't at all ashamed to demonstrate in front of God and all the angels, plus any reader of this thread, that he will not reason logically.

Ilíon said...

... and, as for the rest of you -- who (having a feather up your asses) will not say one peep about the improper reasoning of the fool, nor of his misrepresentation of me -- thereby demonstrate you own commitment to intellectual dishonesty.

Mr Veale said...

Walter
I've Calvinist friends that will be very cheered to hear that!

Ilion
Sorry - I missed the action. Just popping back and forth, you don't see every comment.
I'm not sure how the metaphorical feather stops someone from speaking out in another's defence...
anyway, what you said makes sense to me. I'd add that rebellion against God is rebellion against the good ( I'm not a classical theist, so I need to add that )

Graham

Walter said...

Walter
I've Calvinist friends that will be very cheered to hear that!


I am no friend of the Calvinists but I do believe that their systematic theology is the most consistent of all the Christian sects. But the God they describe is one that I would be compelled to reject. Pun intended.

Ilíon said...

"Sorry - I missed the action. Just popping back and forth, you don't see every comment."

Of course.

"I'm not sure how the metaphorical feather stops someone from speaking out in another's defence..."

Any one to whom the comment applies knows it applies to him. And why.

BenYachov said...

>It's more plausible to me to say that God desired Satan's "rebellion" and he insured that it would occur because it served a purpose in the divine plan, or the Jewish response that Satan tempts man at God's behest.

It is even more plausible that God merely choose to create a being he foreknew would freely rebel against him and use that rebellion to serve a purpose in the Divine Plan.

Woody said...

Walter:"I am no friend of the Calvinists but I do believe that their systematic theology is the most consistent of all the Christian sects. But the God they describe is one that I would be compelled to reject. Pun intended."

I wouldn't call it systematic in regards to the bible, if you are intersted you can read this: http://www.pinpointevangelism.com/libraryoftheologycom/writings/opentheism/Response_To_John_Piper_By_Boyd.pdf The guy who responded to John Piper wrote a book(which I recommended in my previous comment) regarding Satan and the problem of evil which is based on the view he is defending in the link above. Book is called "Satan and the problem of evil: Constructing A Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy".

Walter said...

It is even more plausible that God merely choose to create a being he foreknew would freely rebel against him and use that rebellion to serve a purpose in the Divine Plan.

I'd say it is more plausible that Satan's role evolved around the time of Second Temple Judaism due to the syncretic influence of Zoroastrian dualism encountered during the Babylonian captivity and an influx of Greek philosophy. Satan went from being an unpleasant angel on Yahweh's payroll to being an autonomous, evil, near-omnipotent antagonist fighting against Yahweh.

http://www.beingjewish.com/basics/satan.html

rank sophist said...

Walter,

That understanding of Satan (all powerful, good-on-evil) smacks of Manichaeism. You would not find many traditional Christians who support it; and it has been condemned as heresy for more than 1,500 years by the major denominations. I realize that it has risen again as a result of undereducated fundamentalists (not referring to you), but it is a false teaching nonetheless.

Walter said...

That understanding of Satan (all powerful, good-on-evil) smacks of Manichaeism.

Perhaps so, but the point that I was making was that the character of Satan in the Jewish tradition has morphed through the centuries due to external cultural and pagan religious influences. I know that few Christians will accept that, but there I stand on the subject.

Zach said...

That critique of loftus is lame, any freshman with an IQ above 80 could say why.

Ilíon said...

^ said the sophomoronic logician with an IQ not above 79.

Ilíon said...

... for, as all know, neither lack of logical consistency nor lack of consistency in reasoning are adequate reasons to critique the "reasonings" of atheists.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I am not suggesting the writings of John Loftus are inerrant. But, if the same people who claim they can harmonize every apparent contradiction in the Bible were to use that same ability to harmonize those two statements by John, I'm pretty sure they could do it, or at least convince themselves it's been done.

Thus, the brain-mind seems to have been "designed by God" (if that's what you believe) to see disharmony in the beliefs of others but the greatest harmony and coherence in their own beliefs, especially when those beliefs are not testable by a scientific method but rely on unfalsifiable claims in the realm of big religious or philosophical ideas.

And, to take John's side, I must admit there does seem to be a spectrum rather than a strict either/or dichotomy that lay between "rebelling" against God on one far end of the spectrum, and
"worshiping" God on the other.

Speaking of such a "spectrum":

1) Catholics argue that the adoration of Mary is not the same as "Mary worship."

2) And what about friendship as an option rather than worship? Is it rebellious to simply be God's friend? Even Dante envisioned a place just outside the circles of hell in which virtuous pagans enjoyed eternity. And Erasmus wrote about "Saint" Socrates.

3) And how exactly does one "rebel" against God? Isn't that a phrase that can be interpreted a wide variety of ways, and is even found on the lips of denominations that disagree with each other's doctrinal or biblical interpretations?

4) Thoreau was asked on his deathbed whether or not he'd made his peace with God, "Why? We've never quarreled."












Zach said...

Ilion I am a Christian. I just find the utter lack of charity in reading atheists, from people on this site, disgusting.

A six year old would ask the obvious questions--well, if he meant this obvious interpretation of what he wrote, then there is no problem.

But no, you are right it is much more likely that he is just inconsistent and stupid, and that you should be the final judge of what he meant to write.

Ilion is the Babinsky of Christians.

BenYachov said...

>1) Catholics argue that the adoration of Mary is not the same as "Mary worship."

Ed do you even realize that "adoration" is synonymous with worship"?

Here is a clue you should have written "Catholics argue that the honoring of Mary etc....

What the heck is with ex-Protestant Fundies who after they lose their faith still think like Protestant fundies?

Somebody explain this to me?

Zach said...

Ben do you really need it explained? It is simply taking painting the train a different color, but not really changing anything essential. God sees this, and both groups go to the same place when they die.

BenYachov said...

Zack,

Well they do change something essential(they go from belief in a fundamentalist conception of God to non-belief) but in terms of a general Fundamentalist mentality then yeh Ed has just painted his train a different color.

Ilíon said...

Son of Confusion: "Ed do you even realize that "adoration" is synonymous with worship"?

Here is a clue you should have written "Catholics argue that the honoring of Mary etc....

What the heck is with ex-Protestant Fundies ...
"

What is it with Rah-Rah Catholics that they will not admit:
1) that many, if not quite all, Catholics do, indeed, worship (*) Mary;
2) that the One True Bureaucracy explicitly denies that Mary is the proper object of worship (*);
2a) that the One True Bureaucracy implicitly encourages Catholics to worship Mary (*);
3) that the One True Bureaucracy explicitly claims that Mary is our co-redemtrix;
4) that the One True Bureaucracy explicitly claims that human persons and nations may sin against Mary;
5) one could go on, and on, but 3) and 4) are sufficient.

What is it? Are Rah-Rah Catholics dishonest?

(*) 'worship' in the narrow sense of the word, which narrowing is quite recent, which sense of worshipping is appropriate only toward God.

John W. Loftus said...

Reppert, you are either stupid or unethical, You pick.

Ilíon said...

Zach: "Ilion I am a Christian."

I actively doubt it.

Zach: "I just find the utter lack of charity in reading atheists, from people on this site, disgusting."

No, you are "disgusted" by clear, logically consistent, unemotional, non-sentimental, critical thinking.

Zach: "Ilion is the Babinsky of Christians."

You do know, do you not, that hypocrits are damned-of-God?

BenYachov said...

In the Scripture it says they where called Christians at Antioch.

Protestants however call their denominations names like Lutheran, Calvinist, Darbyites, Millerites etc...

Therefore Protestants worship Luther, Calvin, Darby and Miller.

Ilíon Two questions for ya.

What he heck are you smoking? And where can I score some?

Because it must be some premo shit.