Friday, September 21, 2012

Will Science Rule Out the Possibility of God?

Sean Carroll thinks so. I'm sure Bill Craig will disagree.

303 comments:

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Syllabus said...

These category mistakes and over-optimistic prognostications are really irritating.

Crude said...

Carroll's a great example of a scientist who really needs to be told, "You're speaking as a layman here, not as a specialist. Now get your ass back in the lab and produce something useful." There's so much wrong with his article that I'm surprised no one's taken a razor to it yet. It's pretty much stupidity and dishonesty from start to finish.

The short take-away point should be that insofar as Carroll is pinning his hopes for science ruling out God on highly speculative future science that may not even be possible to establish in principle / may be extremely detached from what we normally consider to be science, he may as well be arguing that right now science itself establishes the possibility of God. He'd probably choke rather than say as much, but it's the only way to make his inanity consistent.

As Syllabus said, the category mistakes are boggling, but what's particularly offensive is how Carroll seems to mentally transmute 'really speculative, quite possibly untestable theories of the future' into, somehow, 'established today'.

Cole said...

I don't think science will rule out the possibility of a Higher Power. As far as ruling out the Biblical God, it already has. It seems that the Bible writers often got their conceptions of God by sometimes looking at nature. When a natural disaster strikes and breaks the arms of little babies and cripple them the Bible writers assumed that it was part of God's plan. They saw God as the Creator of nature and because of this He was a wrathful God at times. I find Him to be quite insane and abusive. How do I handle this? My Higher Power isn't responsible for atrocities like this because it didn't create nature or the universe. My Higher Power transcends the physical realm. It's one of love, compassion, and justice. It doesn't drown people and innocent animals as a punishment. When atrocities happen they are not part of it's plan. How do I explain it? Shit happens and sometimes it hurts.

Cole said...


It's as clear as day to me people. If we accept the Theistic position, then God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. Moreover, He chose to create. Choosing instead to refrain from creating would have been the greatest good, as it would have necessarily avoided intense suffering and evil. Therefore, this God should have not chosen to create at all. That is, If this all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God existed before creation then the greatest good was already there. Creating a world that He knew would contain intense suffering and evil produced less than the greatest good. Therefore, this Being should not have created at all. This is one reason why I believe my Higher Power did not create the physical universe.

Syllabus said...

"Choosing instead to refrain from creating would have been the greatest good, as it would have necessarily avoided intense suffering and evil."

Yeah, I think you'll find that that one's a bitch to substantiate. I do somewhat sympathize with the inclination, though.

Cole said...

Well, If the greatest good is already there before creating and God is all knowing then He should have refrained from creating seeing that there would be intesnse suffering and evil thereby producing less than the greatest good.

Syllabus said...

" If the greatest good is already there before creating and God..."

See, there's your problem. a). you're assuming that God is just the being with the greatest amount of goodness possible, rather than Goodness itself: b). you're assuming that having three beings in loving relationship - if you believe in the Christian God, that is - is better having billions, and I would very much dispute that idea. Besides, existence is a good thing. Therefore, the more things that have it, the more good there is.

Cole said...

I'm asumming for the sake of argument that the Theistic conception of God is true and then showing how creating a world that He knew would contain vast amounts of intense pain and suffering and evil would have produced less than the greatest good thereby showing that He shouldn't have created at all.

Syllabus said...

"I'm asumming for the sake of argument that the Theistic conception of God is true and then showing how creating a world that He knew would contain vast amounts of intense pain and suffering and evil would have produced less than the greatest good thereby showing that He shouldn't have created at all."

OK, but one of my points is that existence is a good. Therefore, a universe that contains things which exist is better than one which does not.

And how much pain and evil must a world contain before it becomes evil? Can any good override or counterbalance that evil?

Cole said...

"Can any good override or counterbalance that evil?"

Since the greatest possible good was already there before creating then to create knowing that that it would produce less than the greatest possible good would be wrong. The greatest possible good was already there.

Cole said...

To create knowing that it will produce the huge amounts of intense suffering and evil we have when you have the greatest possible infinite existence there at the start is wrong.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Cole, says who?

Given eternity, the balance of suffering and evil may represent an inifitesmial proportion of all possible future experience.

In any event, Moral Relativists are in no position to say its "wrong".

JB Chappell said...

Granting for the moment that God is "the greatest Good", as opposed to "Goodness" itself (as Syllabus pointed out, this is how classical theism understands God), then it would appear that by creating something God found a way to ADD some good, in addition to the greatest Good. Unless, that is, you want to argue that there is nothing "good" in/about creation. That would be a tall order.

Absent that, you need to then argue that the "greatest Good" should/would want to avoid any suffering or "evil". But now we're simply back to arguing over classical theodicy scenarios. It is impossible to demonstrate that an all-knowing Being cannot have some purpose that we non-omniscient beings don't understand for allowing evil.

Cole said...

When natural disasters strike and rip the flesh off of little babies causing them to suffer slow deaths I don't see any love, compassion, or justice there. What I see is abuse. God knows ahead of time this is going to happen. As an all-powerful, all-loving, miracle worker He simply would perform a miracle and bring these babies up to heaven. If God wants them there all He has to do is be a gentleman and escort them there by maybe sending some chariots down from heaven. Instead He lets them have the flesh ripped off their bodies. Moreover, the point I was trying to make above was that He knew these kinds of things were going to happen from the begining. There was perfect eternal existence there at the beginning. To be all-loving, and all-knowing, and all-powerful He simply shouldn't have created these babies in the first place.

BenYachov said...

At best Carroll knows something about modern philosophy but his knowledge of Classical philosophy is purely non-existent.

I've read his nonsense he is typical of philosophically illiterate Physicist such as he thinks the Argument from Motion has to do with Newton's Physics & not Aristotle's metaphysics and some such bullshit.

Pathetic!

cl said...

Cole,

"As far as ruling out the Biblical God, [science] already has."

Can you cite some studies for me?

Your opinions regarding evil and suffering are just your opinions. They don't prove anything other than that some guy name Cole thinks the existence of pain and suffering disproves the God of the Bible.

Aren't you the least bit unnerved to rest your claims not on science or evidence, but on your own opinions?

cl said...

Hey Vic, the "Sean Carroll" link, is it going where you intended? When I clicked it, I didn't get what I expected.

BeingItself said...

"I've read his nonsense he is typical of philosophically illiterate Physicist such as he thinks the Argument from Motion has to do with Newton's Physics & not Aristotle's metaphysics"

Yeah, what an idiot. When the argument uses the words "move" or "motion" or "change", only a fool would think these words referred to physical occurrences. The smart educated Christian just knows that these words refer to unfalsifiable metaphysical concepts, untethered to reality.

Carroll and his ilk are just so stupid for thinking these arguments refer to the real world, as opposed to an imaginary one.

Syllabus said...

"Yeah, what an idiot. When the argument uses the words "move" or "motion" or "change", only a fool would think these words referred to physical occurrences. The smart educated Christian just knows that these words refer to unfalsifiable metaphysical concepts, untethered to reality."

Yeah, it is idiotic to read scientific terms into an explicitly philosophical and metaphysical system and/or argument.

And it isn't just Christians that understand that. Any philosophically literate person of any religion or none can understand that, if they wish to put in the effort. Take Sir Anthony Kenny. Or Antony Flew. Or Mortimer Adler before he became an Anglican. Or any other number of people who are not content to remain philosophical philistines and yet do not take any creed as their own.

Cole said...

Cl,

I really don't think it's my opinion that it wrong to allow babies to burn to death when you have the ability to stop it. If you want to know about science and the Bible you'll have to get a Biology or Geology textbook and compare it with the Bible.

BeingItself said...

"Yeah, it is idiotic to read scientific terms into an explicitly philosophical and metaphysical system and/or argument."

If you want your argument to be persuasive, then it must in some way be constrained by reality. Labeling your arguments "metaphysical" in order to immunize it from refutation by the facts of reality is a charlatan's move.

But, this is apologetics, so one should expect this kind of con job.

BeingItself said...

Could someone put up a link that works?

BeingItself said...

Is this it?

http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/

cl said...

Cole,

"I really don't think it's my opinion that it wrong to allow babies to burn to death when you have the ability to stop it."

Well then, we're at an impasse. You mistake opinion for fact.

"If you want to know about science and the Bible you'll have to get a Biology or Geology textbook and compare it with the Bible."

Why the rhetoric and deflection? Believe me, I've spent many, many hours pouring through the Bible and science books.

I only commented because you seem like a genuine guy with a good heart (and still do). I am very interested in hearing the evidence for your claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible. Please, don't just deflect me, engage and test your beliefs. Make your case.

Or not. Makes no difference to me, but I can't sit by and not warn you when I see what appears to be clear logical missteps.

Syllabus said...

"If you want your argument to be persuasive, then it must in some way be constrained by reality. Labeling your arguments "metaphysical" in order to immunize it from refutation by the facts of reality is a charlatan's move."

Metaphysics is derived from the Greek words "ta meta ta physikos" - that is, underneath or at the bottom of reality. That is, metaphysics deals with what under-girds or is at the bottom of reality. So, no, labelling something "metaphysical" does nothing to immunize it against reality. In fact, we only ever interpret reality based upon metaphysical assumptions of one way or another. And if you're talking about "metaphysical" in the horribly-abused popular sense, then snap out of it. Equivocation only makes you look the fool.

And how on earth are you defining "facts of reality"? Anyone who has a metaphysical framework through which they interpret the world - whether it be philosophical materialism or what have you - thinks that their framework accurately describes the ultimate nature of reality. Every view of reality has to include a metaphysical one, whether it be naturalistic or otherwise. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.

"But, this is apologetics, so one should expect this kind of con job."

LO-freaking-L. Aristotle wrote apologetics? Surely you're not that ignorant, man.

Syllabus said...

"If you want to know about science and the Bible you'll have to get a Biology or Geology textbook and compare it with the Bible."

The Bible isn't a scientific text. Reading it that way will lead to absurdities, but it shouldn't be read that way.

Cole said...

Cl,

How is it my opinion that it's morally wrong to let a child burn a slow death when you have the ability to stop it. Surely you wouldn't do this. I think what you are seeing is that you are a better person than your God. Don't let this unknown moraly good reason keep you in a relationship with such an insane person. That is, if you have a relationship with Him. You don't deserve to be abused like this or suffer forever.

BeingItself said...

Syllabus,

I see this sort of exchange all the time:

Apologist: Phenomenon X, described this way, can only be explained by God.

Scientist: But you are wrong. Phenomenon X is not accurately described that way. Your naive intuitions about Phenomenon X are just false. Here's why . . .

Apologist: Oh wait. I was not referring to Phenomenon X as it actually occurs in the real physical world. I am referring to Phenomenon X as it occurs in my imaginary metaphysical system.

...

So, the apologist has "proved" an imaginary god using an imaginary phenomenon. Is it any wonder these arguments fail to persuade?

Syllabus said...

Again, rank equivocation. Motion or change when used by Aristotelians and others is used in a highly specific sense, much in the same way that random mutation in evolutionary biology uses the word "random" in a highly specific way, and not the way that it is used in other disciplines. You can't use scientific terminology to describe philosophical categories any more than you can use baseball terminology to talk about bowling. It's a huge category confusion.

"So, the apologist has "proved" an imaginary god using an imaginary phenomenon. Is it any wonder these arguments fail to persuade?"

No, it's not, if someone has no grasp whatsoever of logic - modal, symbolic or Aristotelian - or philosophy.

Crude said...

Apologist: Oh wait. I was not referring to Phenomenon X as it actually occurs in the real physical world. I am referring to Phenomenon X as it occurs in my imaginary metaphysical system.

It's not "apologists" who use metaphysics. It's "everyone" - scientists included, whether or not they admit it.

Nor is that what philosophers say. They're talking about the real world and admit as much - the scientist, more often than not, is intentionally or unintentionally talking about something other than what the philosopher is. (See: the asskicking Krauss got from even atheist philosophers about this very thing.)

Ah, but you can't understand any of this, being kind of an abbreviated Linton. ;)

cl said...

Cole,

Regarding the so-called "problem of evil," I don't share your opinions about suffering. That discussion ends right there.

As far as your claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible, I've asked for evidence for your claim. Can you provide some?

Cole said...

cl,

Before I give you some evidence I need to know just one thing. If you wouldn't save a baby from slowly burning to death when you had to ability to stop it then where do you draw the line? I mean it seems like your God could do just about anything as long as there is a sufficent reason that will be unknown even in this lifetime. This is one of the things that kept me in this abusive relationship with this insane person. It also says that you deserve such abuse and then keeps you in bondage by telling you that you deserve eternal suffering and to go against such a belief is heresy and you will suffer forever for rejecting it. So, I ask: Where do you draw the line?

Syllabus said...

"If you wouldn't save a baby from slowly burning to death when you had to ability to stop it then where do you draw the line?"

Suppose that baby were Pol Pot, and you knew this. Would you?

Cole said...

Well, if I could perform miracles (like the Biblical God is suppose to) I would simply transform the baby's evil nature and escort him into heaven by sending a chariot from heaven down.

cl said...

Cole,

Just a friendly word of advice: if you expect people to answer your questions, you may want to extend the gratuity of answering theirs first. Nonetheless...

"If you wouldn't save a baby from slowly burning to death when you had to ability to stop it then where do you draw the line? "

What are you asking?

Syllabus said...

"Well, if I could perform miracles (like the Biblical God is suppose to) I would simply transform the baby's evil nature and escort him into heaven by sending a chariot from heaven down."

Aren't you assuming that you, at your present state of knowledge, know better than an omniscient being? That's an odd assumption. I would direct you to Al Plantinga's thoughts on the matter.

Cole said...

Not really. Here's what I would do. I would create a world with creatures that had a perfect nature. Their perfect nature would be perfect because my hand of miracle working grace was upon their hearts. I would keep them in this state forever and we would live happily ever after in a state of eternal bliss. What does the Biblical God do instead? He creates a world knowing that there will be intense evil and suffering in it for some unknown reasons that we can never know on this side of the grave as He creates a also a place of eternal suffering for most.

cl said...

Cole,

I asked you to clarify your question. Just let me know whether I'm wasting my time or not.

Syllabus said...

"Not really. Here's what I would do. I would create a world with creatures that had a perfect nature.
Their perfect nature would be perfect because my hand of miracle working grace was upon their hearts. I would keep them in this state forever and we would live happily ever after in a state of eternal bliss."

Such a world would be devoid of love, and thus intrinsically imperfect. Love cannot be coerced - it has to be given freely. A world cannot be perfect without that element. The Calvinists are dead wrong on this issue. And volition is another good that would be impossible in this world that you have imagined. Therefore, it's a sub optimal world. Besides, you're assuming that it's possible to create a statically perfect world. It may not be.

"What does the Biblical God do instead? He creates a world knowing that there will be intense evil and suffering in it for some unknown reasons that we can never know on this side of the grave as He creates a also a place of eternal suffering for most."

First of all, we have no information on whether most people are in hell or not. Any judgements as to the comparative populations of heaven and hell are speculative at best. And God certainly doesn't desire the damnation of any man or woman - what do you think that whole business about a cross was for?

Also, I don't think all the reasons are un-knowable. I just gave one of them. And God, according to the Christian narrative, isn't some indifferent deist God, sitting above His creation and judging it. He experienced, on the cross, every bit of suffering that every human ever did and more. He even experienced the alienation of God that is part of Hell.

Cole said...

cl,

You told me it was my opinion that it is abusive and wrong to sit back and do nothing as a baby catches on fire and burns to death. There's no standard here? Where do you draw the line? To do what I described above is insane.

Syllabus said...

Also, I would add, you claim that God could not possibly have a good reason to do so. That's a universal negative, so I assume you have a tremendously good proof for that.

Cole said...

To perform a miracle and place love in people's hearts, giving them a perfect nature, so that they always freely love isn't coersion. I would place eternal joy and love in their hearts by my miracle working grace giving them the desire to love each other forever. How is this impossible if I were God?

cl said...

Cole,

"You told me it was my opinion that it is abusive and wrong to sit back and do nothing as a baby catches on fire and burns to death."

No, I didn't. I told you I didn't share your opinion that the existence of suffering babies disproves the God of the Bible. Huge difference, and as the person making the claim, the responsibility is on you to prove it so. Can you? If not, let's just agree that you can't prove your opinion and discuss whatever "evidence" you have.

cl said...

Actually, Cole, nevermind. I was stupid to come back here. If you really have questions about any of this, just click my name and find me at my own blog.

Syllabus said...

"To perform a miracle and place love in people's hearts, giving them a perfect nature, so that they always freely love isn't coersion."

No, it's a contradiction. As long as there is freedom, there is the possibility to choose not to love.

"I would place eternal joy and love in their hearts by my miracle working grace giving them the desire to love each other forever."

We have that desire. We also have the option, as per freedom, to not do so.

"How is this impossible if I were God?"

God can't make a square circle or a married bachelor. That's just standard theology. Similarly, God can't force people to freely do something. Omnipotence in theology doesn't traditionally mean the ability to do anything. It makes about as much sense to ask whether God can make a square circle or if He can force a being to do something freely as it does to ask, "What does middle C taste like?" It's nonsensical.

Syllabus said...

And I'm still waiting for your proof of the universal negative.

ozero91 said...

Kenny Pearce has a pretty nice review of the essay at Prosblogion.

Cole said...

It's not forcing people against their will. Their will is always in the direction of love. They have no desire for evil and therefore they never commit evil. The will do what they want but they only will want to love. They freely love each other forever. Their nature is perfect forever. You haven't shown where the contradiction is here. You just assert it.

Syllabus said...

Your scenario only works if one assumes compatibilist freedom. In compatibilism, people are free to do what they want, but what they want is determined for them. That is, they cannot act in any other way than they do.

Let's take an example. Suppose I put a microchip in Natalie Portman's head that gives her the desire to love me completely, body and soul. Therefore, she loves me completely, and yet I have caused her to love me. She would not have loved me otherwise, so I have compelled her to do so. Has she actually feely, uninhibitedly, chosen to love me? Is that in any sense freedom? Or love? Suppose, with this microchip, I force her to marry me. Has she really freely chosen to marry me? Was it up to her?

Syllabus said...

Out of curiosity: while you were a Christian, were you a Calvinist?

Papalinton said...

The trend is observable, measurable and real. As science defines and brings into ever sharper focus the reality of the world, founded as it is on methodological empiricism, there is a direct and inverse redefining of religious fundamentals. It is and has always been a one-way street. As science develops religion, out of existential necessity must redefine itself to mitigate the incongruence between myth and superstition on the one hand and the natural world on the other. There has been no instance during recorded history recounting a return to theological principles away from established scientific principles.

However, it is my view science will not rule out the possibility of a god, because superstition remains an endemic pathology of the human condition expressed through our genetic make-up in the form of unchecked and unschooled teleology, regardless of the science. By happenstance of evolution our brain is an agency detection machine that imagines and projects agency everywhere. As science continues to explore and discover the mechanisms and structures underlying the reason for this predisposition and many other claims christian theism makes about the world, about the environment, about societies, about man, even about gods, theism must adjust and accommodate these, just as it has done since science and religion parted company.

To speak of category error is simply misconstrued conflation of science and theology as equal partners in sources of knowledge. Well. No. Not even close. The Why? versus How? differential is equally an old canard attempting to position theology as legitimate discourse on the nature of reality. But the core feature of religious understanding, belief, as defined by theism, is antithetical to that of science.

Science is closing the gaps through which religion tries to inveigle itself into the public domain.

Cole said...

Syllabus,

We are not talking about a microchip here. We are talking about God performing miracles with His grace and creating everyone with a perfect nature. His grace will create a perfect, softened, heart in people where they have no desire to do evil. People will do what they WANT to do. But since there is no desire for evil in their hearts they will always WANT to love. They are not being forced against their own wills. They will be free from evil forever as they enjoy the circle of love forever.

Syllabus said...

"We are not talking about a microchip here. We are talking about God performing miracles with His grace and creating everyone with a perfect nature."

The point I'm making is that the two are equivalent. I've put forth that the situation with the microchip and the situation with God performing miracles that make humans only able to do good and love are logically equivalent, in that they both render the person being acted upon unable to behave in another way than that in which they have been determined to act. So the microchip example is entirely relevant, and I think that it illustrates the point nicely.

Let me put it to you straight: do you think that an agent is free to choose if they have no choice but to choose one thing?

"His grace will create a perfect, softened, heart in people where they have no desire to do evil. People will do what they WANT to do. But since there is no desire for evil in their hearts they will always WANT to love. They are not being forced against their own wills. They will be free from evil forever as they enjoy the circle of love forever."

They're not being forced against their wills only because their wills are being determined. That's just a difference of semantics, not of substance. I reiterate: is an agent really free to choose if he or she has no choice but to choose one thing?

cl said...

Cole,

I was going to drop this, but feel compelled to point out:

"We are talking about God performing miracles with His grace and creating everyone with a perfect nature."

Yes, that is the miracle of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, God is doing what you ask for. Your objection will now be reduced to, "But God didn't do it that way the first time around."

Cole said...

A person is free when they are free from evil and they love other because they WANT to. Since there is no desire for evil they will always WANT to love. This would be true freedom. Freedom to love because one WANTS to love with no desire for evil at all thereby being free from evil.

cl said...

Syllabus,

I'm pretty sure Cole will not confront your direct questions, but, I appreciate your strategy. In fact, what better strategy is there than to ask straightforward questions then refuse to cede ground until they are answered?

You ask:

"...do you think that an agent is free to choose if they have no choice but to choose one thing?"

That's beautiful, for, Cole knows in his heart that the answer is "no," a person is not free if they cannot choose all options.

But at the end of the day I fear it doesn't accomplish anything. Despite this fact, it's not going to change Cole's heart. You know?

Earlier today I was thinking about the noticeable absence of apologetics in the NT. I honestly believe there's a reason Jesus never tried to argue anybody into the kingdom. The more I think about, the more I feel like a total fool.

Syllabus said...

"A person is free when they are free from evil and they love other because they WANT to. Since there is no desire for evil they will always WANT to love. This would be true freedom. Freedom to love because one WANTS to love with no desire for evil at all thereby being free from evil."

That's an evasion, not an answer. I will repeat the question: is an agent free to choose if they have no option but to choose in a certain way? Yes or no will suffice.

Syllabus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cl said...

Syllabus,

"I will repeat the question: is an agent free to choose if they have no option but to choose in a certain way? Yes or no will suffice."

Kudos. Again, I expect Cole to deflect and squirm. I mean, look what he just pulled with me: "Okay cl, I'll show you the evidence for my claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible, but only after you answer this question first..."

Well, I answered his question, and he never presented any evidence for anything. Which is why I was like, "I was stupid to come back here."

Syllabus said...

"But at the end of the day I fear it doesn't accomplish anything. Despite this fact, it's not going to change Cole's heart. You know?"

Yup. That's what the Holy Spirit does. Nonetheless, if I can help clear some of the ground, then I think that's a good thing.

And I agree with your statements re: apologetics. The only real apologetic isn't a result of syllogisms or modal reasoning. It's experiential.

Syllabus said...

"Well, I answered his question, and he never presented any evidence for anything. Which is why I was like, "I was stupid to come back here."

Yeah, I'm clearly more OCD than you are. :)

But still, I sympathize with his emotional position. I think his logical positions are poor and thus I argue against them, but I don't think that his emotions are invalid or important. I've felt the force of them, too, at times. So, while I think he's wrong, I don't think he's stupid or dishonest. Confused, maybe.

Whichever way you answer, Cole, blessings. It's a tough gig you've got there, and I sympathize.

cl said...

Syllabus,

"Nonetheless, if I can help clear some of the ground, then I think that's a good thing."

I understand, and I agree. It's tough for me, because on the one hand, I understand that clearing the ground can pave the way. On the other hand, I feel that these combox escapades are all the same. It's hard to tell whether I'm doing something useful by ministering, or just getting duped into wasting my time.

But for me, when people just blatantly ignore questions and whatnot, I feel like they're not taking the issues seriously, and I lose interest. For example, if Cole would tackle our questions, I'd be more like, "Okay, he's trying... maybe there's some use here?"

Instead it just seems like another Papalinton thing.

cl said...

Syllabus,

"I think his logical positions are poor and thus I argue against them, but I don't think that his emotions are invalid or important. I've felt the force of them, too, at times. So, while I think he's wrong, I don't think he's stupid or dishonest."

Yes, again I agree. Though, I must ask: why do you think he avoids the questions, then?

Syllabus said...

"Instead it just seems like another Papalinton thing."

See, there I think you may be mistaken. Linton is a sophist, a plagiarist, enamoured of deep, DEEP purple prose and an intellectually disingenuous fibber who puts both fingers in his ears and yells "Na na na na booboo!" whenever anyone tries to introduce a critique into his solipsistic unbelief. And demonstrably so. Cole's just angry, and has some faulty logic. At least that's the impression I've gotten. I may be wrong, and you are certainly welcome to disagree with me.

Syllabus said...

"Yes, again I agree. Though, I must ask: why do you think he avoids the questions, then?"

I don't know. But I'll assume the best - that he's too angry, or something - until proven otherwise.

cl said...

Syllabus,

""Instead it just seems like another Papalinton thing." (cl)

See, there I think you may be mistaken."


Well, I wasn't trying to EQUATE Linton and Cole. Rather, I was just saying that this seems to be the same, in the sense that both evade direct questions when the dung hits the fan. You've already observed this, so, we agree.

Syllabus said...

"Well, I wasn't trying to EQUATE Linton and Cole. Rather, I was just saying that this seems to be the same, in the sense that both evade direct questions when the dung hits the fan. You've already observed this, so, we agree."

Fair enough, I guess.

Papalinton said...

B I
I took the opportunity to hypertext the Carroll site you offered Here for ease of access.

What a terrific article laying out the current discourse on cosmology. Of particular note was the perspective Carroll brings to how Aristotle would have understood the concept of the 'unmoved mover' in the context of the prevailing understanding of the natural world in his time.

"In Aristotle's Metaphysics, he suggested the need for an "unmoved mover" to explain the motion of ordinary objects.  That makes sense in the context of Aristotle's physics, which was fundamentally teleological:  objects tended toward their natural place, which is where they wanted to stay.  How, then, to account for all the motion we find everywhere around us?  But subsequent developments in physics – conservation of momentum, Newton's laws of motion – changed the context in which such a question might be asked.  Now we know that objects that are moving freely continue to move along a uniform trajectory, without anything moving them.  Why?  Because that's what objects do.  It's often convenient, in the context of everyday life, for us to refer to this or that event as having some particular cause.  But this is just shorthand for what's really going on, namely: things are obeying the laws of physics. 
Likewise for the universe.  There is no reason, within anything we currently understand about the ultimate structure of reality, to think of the existence and persistence and regularity of the universe as things that require external explanation.  Indeed, for most scientists, adding on another layer of metaphysical structure in order to purportedly explain these nomological facts is an unnecessary complication.  This brings us to the status of God as a scientific hypothesis."


Aquinas's Five-Ways, no less so, based as they are on the direct appropriation of earlier Aristotelian thought, is equally simply a reiteration of Aristotle's teleologically-derived 'unmoved mover', a product of philosophical musings that, like Aristotle, did not have the hindsight benefit of the 'conservation of momentum', 'Newton's laws of motion' etc in which to frame his Five-Ways. It lends credence to the notion that scientifically-uninformed philosophy does not contribute to or advance the proposition of the existence of a god. Rather, invoking the A-T [Aristotelian-Thomistic] paradigm into contemporary debate is to seriously misunderstand and misconstrue the Five Ways and its corollary, Classical Theism, by either inadvertently or intentionally excising the historical context in which they were framed. Philosophers such as Feser with his A-T supposition and WL Craig with his Kalam, can try to recast them, but they have largely failed to inspire, let alone convince an increasingly skeptical community of their merits as sufficient explanatory tools of any significance of the nature of reality. Of course, wedded-on believers will tell us otherwise. And that's fine. They are entitled to believe whatever malarkey abounds.

The choice between the science of medicine and faith healing could not be starker.

Cole said...

Hey guys! Sorry about the delay I had to step out for a minute. The point isn't about getting into a philosophical debate about what free will is. The point is this. If I was God I would create (with miraculous grace) in a way such that people would have a perfect nature and heart of love that is free from evil. There would be no desire for evil in the heart of people and therefore no evil acts would ever be commited. This is not coersion or forcing people to act contrary to their own nature and will. For if the heart is free from all desire for evil then humans will always choose to love. They will do what they want to but because their hearts are free from the desires of evil with no trace of evil desires in their hearts, they will want to love each other. This is what freedom is about. Loving others because you want to as you are free from evil desires of the heart.

cl said...

Syllabus,

See? It's confirmed. Cole managed to both 1) evade your direct question, and 2) ignore my request for evidence re his claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible.

Syllabus said...

"If I was God I would create (with miraculous grace) in a way such that people would have a perfect nature and heart of love that is free from evil. There would be no desire for evil in the heart of people and therefore no evil acts would ever be commited. This is not coersion or forcing people to act contrary to their own nature and will. For if the heart is free from all desire for evil then humans will always choose to love. They will do what they want to but because their hearts are free from the desires of evil with no trace of evil desires in their hearts, they will want to love each other. This is what freedom is about. Loving others because you want to as you are free from evil desires of the heart."

To repeat the question: are these people free to choose if they have no option but to choose in a certain way? And the free will issue is relevant, because it has a bearing upon whether your imagined scenario is really the best possible one.

Syllabus said...

"See? It's confirmed. Cole managed to both 1) evade your direct question, and 2) ignore my request for evidence re his claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible."

I'm starting to think you may be right.

Cole said...

"do you think that an agent is free to choose if they have no choice but to choose one thing?"

They have a choice to choose love or evil. But because all desire for evil has been removed they will always choose love. They will do it because they want to with no desire for evil in the heart. They will be free from evil and free to love.

Syllabus said...

"They have a choice to choose love or evil. But because all desire for evil has been removed they will always choose love."

Those two sentences are contradictory. If I say you absolutely have the option to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream, provided you always choose vanilla ice cream, are you free to choose?

Straight answer to the question, please. Yes or no.

Cole said...

Well, they would have a choice. But because all desire for evil is gone they always choose love. They would have a moral inability for evil because they would have no desire for evil. They still choose what they want though. And that would be perfect love forever free from evil. Again, you assert contradiction without demonstration.

Syllabus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Syllabus said...

To reiterate: If I say you absolutely have the option to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream, provided you always choose vanilla ice cream, are you free to choose?

Yes or no?

Cole said...

Let me explain it to you from the Bible. The Bible says it is impossible for God to lie. He cannot act against His own nature yet He still makes choices and is responsible for them. That's how I would create people. With a perfect nature such that they cannot go contrary to them. Yet they are doing what they want to do because of the desires of their hearts.

Syllabus said...

"Let me explain it to you from the Bible. The Bible says it is impossible for God to lie. He cannot act against His own nature yet He still makes choices and is responsible for them. That's how I would create people. With a perfect nature such that they cannot go contrary to them. Yet they are doing what they want to do because of the desires of their hearts."

I understand what you're saying, and I'll address it as soon as you answer the question.

Cole said...

You would choose according to the strongest desires of you heart at the time. Libertarian free will is a myth. With no desire for evil we will always want to choose love as we are then free from evil.

Syllabus said...

"Libertarian free will is a myth."

Now who's asserting without proof?

Again, if I say you absolutely have the option to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream, provided you always choose vanilla ice cream, are you free to choose? Yes or no. Please, stop with the evasion, answer the question, and then we can progress with the conversation.

Cole said...

I have answered your question. You're not taking into consideration the desires of the heart at the time. With no desire to sin one will not sin. God then had to create man with the desire to sin. I wouldn't have done so. I would have made them free from sin with only the desire to love. If there is an overiding desire you will not choose vanilla Ice Cream. Does this mean I was free to choose? We are driven by our desires. To say we are free to choose without any influencing desires is just crazy. I have a desire for things and this infleunces my decisions.

Syllabus said...

Shall I take that as a no, then?

Syllabus said...

A couple observations:

"God then had to create man with the desire to sin."

No, He didn't. He created them with the capacity to choose sin. They aren't the same thing.

"I wouldn't have done so."

And neither did God.

"I would have made them free from sin with only the desire to love."

Which brings us back to the question I was asking.

I have to ask again, were you a Calvinist when you were a Christian? Because you sure sound like one.

Cole said...

You are leaving out the role desires play in influencing our decisions. Nobody's free to choose without the influence of desires. If there is no desire for evil I will not commit evil. I still make choices and I'm responsible for them as I have nothing but the desire to love. Im free yes. But not in the libertarian sense. This causes a problem for your view if people are free in the libertarian sense. For then there is no guarentee that those in heaven will remain in heaven. They might simply choose to rebel against God in heaven. But this contradicts the scriptures that people in heaven will be there forever.

Cole said...

If you have no desire to sin you will not choose to sin.

Syllabus said...

"You are leaving out the role desires play in influencing our decisions."

No, I'm just not reducing our choices to mere desire-based determinism.

"Nobody's free to choose without the influence of desires."

Agreed, but neither do they determine our decisions without appeal.

"If there is no desire for evil I will not commit evil."

If all that influences ones decisions is ones desires, then yes. But, again, that's not the whole story.

"I'm free yes. But not in the libertarian sense."

You're free from, not free to. World of difference, there, and an important one. I'll come back to it.

"This causes a problem for your view if people are free in the libertarian sense. For then there is no guarantee that those in heaven will remain in heaven. They might simply choose to rebel against God in heaven."

If you exclude the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who of their own volition turn to God from the equation, if you think that the only actor upon that stage is the human, then that view might hold water. But I don't, so it doesn't.

"But this contradicts the scriptures that people in heaven will be there forever."

What scriptures, specifically? I don't disagree, but which ones?

im-skeptical said...

Syllabus,

Just curious. What did you mean when you said that 'random' is used in a highly specific way in evolutionary biology? I never heard that.

Syllabus said...

"If you have no desire to sin you will not choose to sin."

If your desires are the only things that affect your decision making, then sure.

And you sound for all the world like a Calvinist.

Syllabus said...

"Just curious. What did you mean when you said that 'random' is used in a highly specific way in evolutionary biology? I never heard that."

Merriam-Webster defines random as "lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern", and it's safe to say that most people use the word in the same way. When an evolutionary biologist uses the word, usually in the context of saying something like "natural selection acting upon random mutation", what they mean by random is "having no direct benefit to the creature in which the mutation is produced". So they're using the word in a very specific, technical sense, much in the same way that, say, both baseballers and bowlers use the word strike, but mean different things by it. Does that clear it up?

Cole said...

Syllabus,

I think you are missing the point here. I don't want to get off into a rabit hole. If I was God I would create a perfect world free from sin. I wouldn't create the desire for sin in peoples hearts. Without the desire for sin and only the desire for love in the hearts of people this would guarentee that there would never be any sinful deeds. For without any desire to sin whatsoever people would always want to love each other. They are free but not in the libertarian sense. For it would be impossible for them to sin just as it is impossible for God to sin. They would be unable to go contrary to their own natures. This is a moral inability yes. But everyone would still be free to choose what they want - love, peace, and happiness forever and ever.

im-skeptical said...

Sorry, it looks like I broke in while you already had a discussion going. It can wait.

Syllabus said...

"I think you are missing the point here."

Actually, the question was leading up to a line of reasoning that I'll get in to, eventually.

"I don't want to get off into a rabit hole. If I was God I would create a perfect world free from sin."

Which He did.

"I wouldn't create the desire for sin in peoples hearts."

Which He didn't.

"Without the desire for sin and only the desire for love in the hearts of people this would guarentee that there would never be any sinful deeds."

Again, only if you think that desires are the sole determiners of our actions. Which I deny.

"For without any desire to sin whatsoever people would always want to love each other."

Yes, but then it's just programming.

"They are free but not in the libertarian sense."

Right. I'll come back to that.

"For it would be impossible for them to sin just as it is impossible for God to sin."

So then they aren't moral agents, just as God is not a moral agent. I'll come back to that one, too.

"They would be unable to go contrary to their own natures. This is a moral inability yes. But everyone would still be free to choose what they want - love, peace, and happiness forever and ever."

OK, so this would be a non-moral world, then? I'll come back to that one, too.

Syllabus said...

"Sorry, it looks like I broke in while you already had a discussion going. It can wait."

Nah, that's cool. I wrote up a little response, anyway.

Daniel Anderson said...

Cole, you really should read Godforsaken by Dinesh D'Souza. You may like it.

Daniel Anderson said...

Ah, the prophets of science! When reading From Eternity to Here: The Ultimate Quest for the Theory of Time by Sean Carroll I was struck by the amount of speculation (though very though provoking) that a theoretical physicist can come up with. Yet he thinks science is going to do away with God? I'm sure he can think of some theoretical scenarios where such would not be the case.

Even so, the debate between Sean Carroll and Michael Shermer vs. Dinesh D'Souza and Ian Hutchinson, (an MIT Physicist) was very interesting. Michael Shermer and Dinesh pretty much stole the show! The scientists often had to defer to their more "philosophically trained" partners.

JB Chappell said...

Cole, at this point it should be clear that your argumentation boils down to "If i were God, i wouldn't have done it this way, therefore God isn't 'Good'". It clearly doesn't follow. And, if you're (provisionally) granting all the other traditional qualities assigned to God (and it seems you are), then it makes no sense to think that you can do something "better" than an omniscient Being.

JB Chappell said...

Nevertheless, I'm not certain that others are dealing with some of Cole's objections adequately. The fact is that most Christians do believe that in Heaven, people will ALWAYS "freely" choose not to sin. So, clearly, many - if not most - Christians do not object to the possibility that God could create a "free" world without the possibility of sin and suffering. He did not do so; instead (according to Christianity), He chose to create a world where this would only be the case for SOME. This is a serious objection.

im-skeptical said...

Syllabus,

They speak of mutations that are not purposeful or directed in any way. The ones that are beneficial for survival tend to propagate by natural selection. So the mutations are random in the ordinary sense of the word, but the process of evolution is not.

BenYachov said...

Remember guys take it easy on Cole.

He does have mental illness problems & he is taking meds so please show heroic patience with him.

He is not in the same category as Paps or BI.

We are all rooting for ya Cole even if we disagree with you.

Peace.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

He does have mental illness problems & he is taking meds so please show heroic patience with him.

If this is true, do you have his permission to post this highly sensitive personal information about him on the Internet?

Ilíon said...

Since reason already rules out atheism, the question of the OP is pointless.

Until atheists admit that atheism is false, they nothing to say.

cl said...

JB,

I had resigned to forget about this one, but your recent remarks are worthy of response.

"Nevertheless, I'm not certain that others are dealing with some of Cole's objections adequately. The fact is that most Christians do believe that in Heaven, people will ALWAYS "freely" choose not to sin. So, clearly, many - if not most - Christians do not object to the possibility that God could create a "free" world without the possibility of sin and suffering. He did not do so; instead (according to Christianity), He chose to create a world where this would only be the case for SOME. This is a serious objection."

It's not a "serious objection" at all, it's just a question: if "heaven" consists of free-willed beings who never sin, why couldn't God have instantiated this state of affairs the first time around?

Yes, that's a great question, but that's a little beside the point here. Or, at least, it's a little beside *MY* point (and Syllabus' too). I had asked Cole to substantiate his claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible. Yet here we are, a hundred and something comments later, and not a shred of evidence from Cole. Similarly, Cole dodges Syllabus' direct questions.

So I guess I'll ask you, JB: are we really "free" if we are never given the option to choose evil?

cl said...

Ben Yachov,

"Remember guys take it easy on Cole.

He does have mental illness problems & he is taking meds so please show heroic patience with him."


Really? You're stooping to that level?

rank sophist said...

Cole has freely admitted his condition in the past on this very blog. You guys need to calm down.

Martin said...

There is a link above to a Sean Carroll article above that makes the following criticism of the unmoved mover,

Now we know that objects that are moving freely continue to move along a uniform trajectory, without anything moving them. Why? Because that's what objects do.

Edward Feser gives several responses to the Newton objection, and one of them is that the law of inertia is simply a DESCRIPTION of behavior, and not an explanation of that behavior.

Indeed, look at Sean Carroll's objection above: we don't need an unmoved mover because objects in motion tend to remain in motion, and why do objects in motion tend to remain in motion? Because objects in motion tend to remain in motion.

???!!!

He's "explaining" the law of inertia by describing the law of inertia.

Not to mention, all kinds of other Thomistic things jump out at me from that comment. If it is "just what objects do", then it seems he is speaking of final causality. So you get to God via the Fifth Way.

Not to mention, even IF the law of inertia refutes some of the examples of change in the First Way (which, per Feser, it doesn't), then you still also have the Second Way to contend with. I.e., the object that is in motion needs to exist in order to be in motion, and its existence is separate from its essence, and so there must still be a sustaining cause even if the motion of the object through space does not require a mover.

The more I learn about Thomism, the more skeptical I become about atheism and naturalism...

cl said...

rank,

I need to "calm down" because I disapprove of Yachov's juvenile, ad hominem-esque approach?

Get real.

Syllabus said...

"I need to "calm down" because I disapprove of Yachov's juvenile, ad hominem-esque approach?

Get real."

To be fair to Ben, Cole did freely admit what Ben pointed out on a different page. And whatever can be said about Ben's approach to stuff, I don't think he's saying "take your meds" as an ad hominem attack or a method of discounting what he says.

Syllabus said...

"It's not a "serious objection" at all, it's just a question: if "heaven" consists of free-willed beings who never sin, why couldn't God have instantiated this state of affairs the first time around?"

Because how we will be in the resurrection is different on a number of levels - though not completely unrelated - to how we are now. And how we will be in the resurrection is contingent upon how we are now. As one person whom I have a great deal of respect for said, this is not the best of all possible worlds but the best of all possible ways to the best of all possible worlds.

And, as JB pointed out, Cole is still setting himself up in the place of saying, "I would have done it differently, and presumably better, than a 'being' who I am granting for the sake of argument has perfect knowledge, perfect power, and is Goodness itself." It strikes me that none of us can fill those epistemic boots with any kind of certainty. Certainly not the kind of certainty that Cole claims.


And besides, even granted that such a world were possible, I think it's logically demonstrable that a world in which creatures only have the ability to do the "good" thing is not the best of all possible worlds (I don't even think there is such a thing, contra Leibniz).

Daniel Anderson said...

Cole, I really think you may enjoy the book called Godforsaken by Dinesh D'Souza. In it he uses the anthropic principle and other discoveries of modern science to propose that perhaps this world is the only possible world that could result based on God's omniscience in relation to his will. I'm not sure if he actually pulls this off, I still need more time to think it over. Even so, it has some interesting contributions to theodicy.

As far as whether we can sin in heaven. First, the fact that such is often believed does not mean it is the actual state of things. I have trouble thinking of a Bible verse that gives a complete guarantee of not sinning in heaven.

Secondly, perhaps living in a physical body, having gone through sin, and then offering up our will to Christ - beginning the work of sanctification - is the very thing that can keep us from sin later. Could God create this state at first? Maybe not without violating free will. If however, we have free will and we use it by allowing Christ to do his work then the result is a nature that "will not" sin - while still maintaining complete free will.

Also, this could provide "the greatest good" because while we could choose evil, and have choosen evil, we choose God in the end - even in the midst of evil and evil influence. This also gives a potential reason for God permitting evil.

Daniel Anderson said...

For those interested.

Godforsaken Amazon Link

BeingItself said...

"I have trouble thinking of a Bible verse that gives a complete guarantee of not sinning in heaven."

Suppose a Bible verse did say there was sin in heaven, would you believe it? What if the Bible said the moon was made of green cheese?

Daniel Anderson said...

Being, I'm not dictating all my beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I was simply providing a potential response to the idea of "sin in heaven" because others touched on it. If someone asks whether we can sin in heaven then I can go to a source that discusses things in relation to heaven.

If someone else wants to say "there is no sin because the bible is full of it" then fine - but they won't be the type of person asking whether one can sin in heaven.

B. Prokop said...

"I have trouble thinking of a Bible verse that gives a complete guarantee of not sinning in heaven."

I understand why this statement was made, although I do not subscribe (usually) to the idea of "proof verses". That's not the way Divine Revelation works. After all, "no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). The only authoritative interpretation of anything in The Bible is that of the Church, and not of any one member.

That said, one can hardly go astray by taking such verses as "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" or "And the Word became flesh" in the most literal sense. Or by reading (and taking in) the verse, "He saved others. Himself He cannot save", one can readily discern that the political philosophy of (let's say) "Ilion" is in fact straight from Hell, and is indeed the governing constitution of that place.

Daniel Anderson said...

B Prokop.

I'm not a Catholic, so I agree but not fully. :)

Even so, my only point was to diffuse the problem in relation to Christian doctrine. I picked scripture as it is the source of most Christian doctrine.

B. Prokop said...

I'm with 'ya. As I said, "I understand (etc.)"

BeingItself said...

Daniel Anderson,

Yes I realize religious folks resolve disputes by referring to various magic books. I think it's hilarious and stupid. Thanks for the opportunity to highlight yet another epistemic failure of the religious mind.

Ilíon said...

"Being, I'm not dictating all my beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible."

NEVER accept the implied assertion that you have to defend yourself against the false and/or irrational charges and insinuations of intellectually dishonest persons.

Ilíon said...

"... although I do not subscribe (usually) to the idea of "proof verses". That's not the way Divine Revelation works. After all, "no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). The only authoritative interpretation of anything in The Bible is that of the Church, and not of any one member."

Translation: "I have nothing to say"

"That said ..."

Translation: "And I'm going to say it"

"… one can readily discern that the political philosophy of (let's say) "Ilion" is in fact straight from Hell, and is indeed the governing constitution of that place."

Translation: "But the thing I *really* care about is trying to palm off murderous leftism as equivalent to (or even superior to) Christianity"

====
As I said, NEVER accept the assertion that you have to justify yourself to liars. Or to those who are willing to believe liars.

Ilíon said...

"I'm not a Catholic, ..."

That's OK, neither is he. He's a leftist who likes to dress in Catholic drag.

B. Prokop said...

That was fun! It's like saying "Beetlejuice" three times, and he appears!

BenYachov said...

@cl

>Really? You're stooping to that level?

>I need to "calm down" because I disapprove of Yachov's juvenile, ad hominem-esque approach?

I was being serious & I was not putting Cole dowmn!!! In case it's escaped
your memory numb nuts I AM THE FATHER OF THREE MENTALLY HANDICAPED CHILDREN & I
RESENT ANY IMPLICATION I WOULD MAKE FUN OF THE ACTUAL MENTALLY ILL!!!!!


Are we clear?

Now I'm serious be kind to Cole or you cl will get the full BenYachov.

Savy?

B. Prokop said...

"Dude, never go full Ben Yachov!"

BenYachov said...

Syllabus,

Thanks for sticking up for me buddy I appreciate it.

Cheers.

cl said...

BenYachov,

Alright. You listen up.

1) If you were being sincere, I apologize for misreading you. That's all you had to say. However, given your trend towards sarcasm and insult, can you see why I made that mistake?

2) Don't insult me. Ever. Unless of course you don't care about the virtues espoused in the Book you endorse.

"Now I'm serious be kind to Cole or you cl will get the full BenYachov."

I have been being nice to Cole. Save your threats for somebody who cares.

Now, I suppose I shall resume my vacancy here, since there is no fruit whatsoever.

Have fun boys, I came back for a day or two but I really see no reason why. See ya around the webs.

BenYachov said...

>"Dude, never go full Ben Yachov!"

What is the full BenYachov you may ask?

Well remember how the Emperor in Star Wars used to fry his foes with Force Lightning fueled by his Rage?

Let me just say "What a Pu**y!'.

BenYachov said...

@cl

>Alright. You listen up.

Watch it buddy. Your anger is that of a mere dark jedi. Mine is that of a Sith Lord!

>1) If you were being sincere, I apologize for misreading you. That's all you had to say.

I wanted to get your attention so you would see how serious I was when I said "Take it easy on Cole".

>However, given your trend towards sarcasm and insult, can you see why I made that mistake?

I would have made my insults more direct, obvious and vicious and I did that to Cole a long while back before I learned he was mentally ill. Then I felt like a dick when I found out.

>2) Don't insult me. Ever. Unless of course you don't care about the virtues espoused in the Book you endorse.

No promises. Unlearn ready! fire! aim! then I will consider it.

>I have been being nice to Cole. Save your threats for somebody who cares.

You have been critical of him & I merely warned you to take it easy on him so
you would employ your criticisms with care.

I never accused you of not caring for him. I merely warned you to take it easy on him.

>Now, I suppose I shall resume my vacancy here, since there is no fruit whatsoever.

Oh stop it! Your not the first person to make a mistake! Hello! Your rebuke would have been dead on a few months ago.

But not today.

>Have fun boys, I came back for a day or two but I really see no reason why. See ya around the web

calm down!

Look if it makes you feel better I'm sorry I hit back so hard. If you care about Cole enough to react this way then I guess my warning was not needed.

Peace.

JB Chappell said...

@cl
It's not a "serious objection" at all, it's just a question: if "heaven" consists of free-willed beings who never sin, why couldn't God have instantiated this state of affairs the first time around?

Well, it is both. Yes, it is a question. Many/most, I think, would have to answer with “I have no idea.” That being the case, it becomes difficult to defend the idea that God is “Good”. One can say that a Good God would have His reasons, but that would seem to be begging the question. So, it becomes a serious (I’m not necessarily saying insurmountable) objection due to the lack of an answer, or depending on the nature of answer offered.

Yes, that's a great question, but that's a little beside the point here. Or, at least, it's a little beside *MY* point (and Syllabus' too).

Fair enough. If you (or others) simply weren’t interested in answering (some of) his questions/objections, that’s your prerogative.

I had asked Cole to substantiate his claim that science has disproven the God of the Bible. Yet here we are, a hundred and something comments later, and not a shred of evidence from Cole. Similarly, Cole dodges Syllabus' direct questions.

I get that much, and I’d agree that there’s no evidence that *proves* God (Biblical or not) does not exist.

So I guess I'll ask you, JB: are we really "free" if we are never given the option to choose evil?

God is said to be only capable of acting according to His own nature (“Goodness” itself), and so cannot choose evil, yet we would still consider God to be “free”, yes? So, on one hand, I’d say “yes”. But, to be honest, I’ve been leaning towards the notion that there is no such thing as “free”. There are always rules in this world, so we really can never be “free”. I cannot choose to reverse the laws of thermodynamics; that option is not available to me. But obviously definitions are important here.

In any case, as I said before, *IF* someone holds that God can instantiate a reality where people can freely choose *only* good things, then this makes theodicy more difficult, IMHO. If one does not hold to such a notion, it becomes easier, but conflicts with the traditional notion of Heaven. I’m not particularly concerned about that, given how little is know about it.

Syllabus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Anderson said...

JB, interesting contributions.

You wrote, "But, to be honest, I’ve been leaning towards the notion that there is no such thing as “free”. There are always rules in this world, so we really can never be “free”. I cannot choose to reverse the laws of thermodynamics; that option is not available to me. But obviously definitions are important here. "

I can agree with that. However, I think for free will to exist in "limited" beings there does need to be a framework of choices, laws, etc. In other words, if we are to be limited and free, then there is also to be a limitation to our freedom. Yet, that limitation of particular choices (we cannot choose against entropy) does not mean a limitation of overall free will in relation to other choices - good or evil etc. So, while there is free will, it is contingent on the type of beings we are and what we are subject to. The question is what choices we are given, the nature of those choices, and whether we have the power to make those choices.

You wrote, "In any case, as I said before, *IF* someone holds that God can instantiate a reality where people can freely choose *only* good things, then this makes theodicy more difficult, IMHO. If one does not hold to such a notion, it becomes easier, but conflicts with the traditional notion of Heaven. I’m not particularly concerned about that, given how little is know about it."

Very insightful. I did try to provide an answer to the difficulty of heaven. It's a few comments up.


JB Chappell said...

@Syllabus
Because how we will be in the resurrection is different on a number of levels - though not completely unrelated - to how we are now. And how we will be in the resurrection is contingent upon how we are now.
Biblically speaking, this may be sound, but it really doesn’t answer the nature of the question/objection: why would God do it this way, rather than avoiding the sin/suffering? The fact that our resurrection bodies/natures will be different, does not really address why this is “good” or “better”. Presumably, an omnipotent, omniscient God could have run a simulation in His mind, determined who would have (freely?) wanted to spend eternity with God, then simply created those Beings in a world where they (freely?) choose only good. This world would seem to have all the “good” of a traditional Heaven, but without the pain & suffering of this world.
One could say that there is good in this world as well, not just pain & suffering, so the simulation-world would bypass at least some good. And I’d have to agree, but then the question becomes how much “good” vs. “evil” is there in this world? Obviously, most feel there is more bad than good: hence, why Heaven is used as a theodicy. So, again, the question of why God would knowingly create a world with such pain & suffering – especially when (supposedly) He foreknows those who will “pass” the test – is a serious one. And, yes, I’d say a serious objection to the notion of a “good” God as well.

Crude said...

cl,

I'll add in my defense of Ben here. When Ben is insulting someone, he's not going to really deliver a roundabout, backhanded slap of subtle sarcasm. Like, "Oh, I'm saying you should ease up on this guy because he's going through some rough stuff, but I'm doing it to twist the knife, not because I care." He's going to, if he even brings it up, point it out and laugh. And generally he's not going to get that personal anyway.

I mean, let's be blunt here. When has Ben ever been subtle about anything? Especially insults? They are, from him, universally very direct and straightforward. So I take him at his word that he was sincere in this case.

Either way, I'm busy for now, so no further comment here. Just wanted to pitch in that.

Syllabus said...

"If one does not hold to such a notion, it becomes easier, but conflicts with the traditional notion of Heaven."

Only if one thinks that Heaven is something that can simply be created ex nihilo, rather than the end of a chain of events embarked upon by volitional agents.

Daniel Anderson said...

Jb, you wrote, "Presumably, an omnipotent, omniscient God could have run a simulation in His mind, determined who would have (freely?) wanted to spend eternity with God, then simply created those Beings in a world where they (freely?) choose only good."

I think that would still be impeding on free will. You do not avoid creating certain beings, because of their future choices before they make those choices. That takes away the ability to make the choice and is therefore taking away free will.

Crude said...

To comment on the discussion itself...

For a long time now, I have been unable to take serious the idea that the 'right thing for God to do' would be to create a world without sin. I find the argument insincere, for the simple reason that every person who makes the argument is insisting that no good God would ever have created themselves or any of the people they know and love.

I'd be impressed if someone made the argument, giving themselves and the people they love as specific examples of evidence against a good God existing.

Syllabus said...

"Biblically speaking, this may be sound, but it really doesn’t answer the nature of the question/objection: why would God do it this way, rather than avoiding the sin/suffering?"

I don't have a certain answer, but I don't expect to. I have epistemic limitations that make knowing that kind of thing pretty difficult. But one avenue that I would sort of open up is this one: if we're speaking of possible and feasible worlds, then I think it's possible to argue that a world which contains both ontological AND moral goodness is superior to one which contains solely ontological goodness. This would address the "why didn't God make our natures exactly like His" argument, at least in part.

"The fact that our resurrection bodies/natures will be different, does not really address why this is “good” or “better”."

I don't know precisely what you mean here.

"Presumably, an omnipotent, omniscient God could have run a simulation in His mind, determined who would have (freely?) wanted to spend eternity with God, then simply created those Beings in a world where they (freely?) choose only good. This world would seem to have all the “good” of a traditional Heaven, but without the pain & suffering of this world."

In terms of possible worlds, I think that Heaven necessarily entails this life as a prelude to it. Heaven isn't a possible world taken by itself, I think. Rather, it is a part of this possible world that we happen to find ourselves in. I said something similar to this previously.

Now, let me take your other point like this: suppose the only possible world that God could create in which all would freely love and not sin is a world consisting of three people alone. Is God obligated to actualize this possible world as opposed to, say, one in which ten people choose to freely not sin yet three people do?

"One could say that there is good in this world as well, not just pain & suffering, so the simulation-world would bypass at least some good."

Glad we're on the same page.

"And I’d have to agree, but then the question becomes how much “good” vs. “evil” is there in this world? Obviously, most feel there is more bad than good: hence, why Heaven is used as a theodicy."

I don't see that that's even remotely possible to assert. One would need to be able to see the entire scope of history to even begin to make such a judgement. And I would also question the "most" amount, but that's a minor quibble.

"So, again, the question of why God would knowingly create a world with such pain & suffering – especially when (supposedly) He foreknows those who will “pass” the test – is a serious one."

Potentially because it is only in such a world that they would pass the test. But again, I hesitate to put myself in the shoes of a being with perfect knowledge.

"And, yes, I’d say a serious objection to the notion of a “good” God as well.""

Morally good? Maybe. I'm not convinced, but maybe. But I think God's Goodness differs from ours not only quantitatively but qualitatively. And that makes the discussion into an entirely different animal.

JB Chappell said...

@Daniel

… I think for free will to exist in "limited" beings there does need to be a framework of choices, laws, etc. In other words, if we are to be limited and free, then there is also to be a limitation to our freedom.
To me, “freedom” begs the question (not in the fallacious sense) of “from what”? Freedom from what? Clearly, there are rules, limitations, etc. – so we aren’t truly free. Nevertheless, most of us still think we have “free will”. What is it free of/from? Influence? Obviously not. Control? Yes, most of us like to think our choices are not determined or controlled: hence, “free will” or “freedom”.

Yet, that limitation of particular choices (we cannot choose against entropy) does not mean a limitation of overall free will in relation to other choices - good or evil etc.

Fair enough. But, consider that the choice God gives is essentially this: do it My Way, or (if you believe in eternal torment) burn in Hell forever. Is that freedom? Yes, we are free to choose which option. But, if I stuck a gun to your head and said “Give me your money or die”, you are free to choose… but you would consider yourself “free” at that moment?

So, while there is free will, it is contingent on the type of beings we are and what we are subject to. The question is what choices we are given, the nature of those choices, and whether we have the power to make those choices.

I’d agree to an extent. Basically you seem to be saying that we do have a measure of autonomy, and so can consider ourselves – at least in some sense – “free”. Fair enough. I guess I’d just add that saying we are “kinda” free is not necessarily what people have in mind when they think about freedom. Even a slave can be considered “free” in *some* aspects. Interestingly enough, the Bible does teach that we are slaves.

I did try to provide an answer to the difficulty of heaven. It's a few comments up.

I’d agree that the Bible is largely silent on the issue of whether or not we’d be free to choose sin in heaven, although it’s fairly clear that we could not remain there were that to occur. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped speculation based on other passages or principles. For instance, Adam was created perfect and had “free will” (right…?), and in heaven we’d like to think we will be restored to this original condition. Romans 6:4-7 states that we will be “freed from sin”. That would seem to indicate both being free and inable to sin, but it’s not necessarily a knock-down proof text.

From your previous comment:

… perhaps living in a physical body, having gone through sin, and then offering up our will to Christ - beginning the work of sanctification - is the very thing that can keep us from sin later. Could God create this state at first? Maybe not without violating free will. If however, we have free will and we use it by allowing Christ to do his work then the result is a nature that "will not" sin - while still maintaining complete free will.

Stating that “Maybe this….” or “Maybe that…” isn’t going to be too convincing when trying to defend the notion of a “good” God. Further, using such language betrays the notion that one thinks that “God is Good” is a default position to be proven wrong, rather than justified. In other words, you’re begging the question.

You may have a justification for God being “Good”, I don’t know, just pointing that out. Personally, I think it’s a harder proposition to justify than theists/Christians accept. Truth is, God is typically *defined* that way, not demonstrated to be so.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

That article was the epitome of arrogance imho. There are some questions that no matter how much knowledge man can acquire, for which humankind can never have answers like WHY? Even how at times...

Syllabus said...

And how the hell did a thread about an arrogant scientist become one about theodicy? Funny things sure do happen on the interwebs.

Daniel Anderson said...

JB, Thanks for the reply and good points.

Fair enough. But, consider that the choice God gives is essentially this: do it My Way, or (if you believe in eternal torment) burn in Hell forever. Is that freedom? Yes, we are free to choose which option. But, if I stuck a gun to your head and said “Give me your money or die”, you are free to choose… but you would consider yourself “free” at that moment?

The gospels are overall silent on the issue of the kinds of torments that will be in hell. We know there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" and "outer darkness." We are also limited on what hell will be like. I know people today who are in certain situations in which such descriptions could apply - like addicts for example. Does that mean they want to do what is necessary to change their condition? I'm not so certain that hell is completely locked from the outside.

You wrote, "For instance, Adam was created perfect and had “free will” (right…?), and in heaven we’d like to think we will be restored to this original condition. Romans 6:4-7 states that we will be “freed from sin”. That would seem to indicate both being free and inable to sin, but it’s not necessarily a knock-down proof text. "

First, dealing with Romans. Just 11 verses later it says we have already been set free from sin and become slaves of righteousness. So, I am not quite sure how 6:4-7 is a knockdown. Secondly, Adam wasn't created perfect, he was created good.

You wrote, "Stating that “Maybe this….” or “Maybe that…” isn’t going to be too convincing when trying to defend the notion of a “good” God. Further, using such language betrays the notion that one thinks that “God is Good” is a default position to be proven wrong, rather than justified. In other words, you’re begging the question.

You may have a justification for God being “Good”, I don’t know, just pointing that out. Personally, I think it’s a harder proposition to justify than theists/Christians accept. Truth is, God is typically *defined* that way, not demonstrated to be so."


Yet, my point was theoretical to simply show a possibility for how the state of things could work in relation to a good God, free will, and Christian doctrine. If I am to defend the possibility of a good God, I only have to show that it is theoretically possibly that the state of things can work with a "good God."

I could also make the challenge in reverse. If the world is so awful where a good God seems inconceivable then it seems a belief in a good God seems inconceivable, but obviously the belief resides. In fact, the belief in a good God seems to spread faster in countries where there is much suffering.








Daniel Anderson said...

On Adam's perfection - I really think it depends on how we define perfection in this case.

JB Chappell said...

@Syllabus

I don't have a certain answer, but I don't expect to. I have epistemic limitations that make knowing that kind of thing pretty difficult.

That is fair. I don’t we have to know everything about everything to justify certain beliefs. Nonetheless, I think admitting ignorance on why God instantiates a world a certain way should probably result in more admissions of ignorance on whether He is “Good” or not.

But one avenue that I would sort of open up is this one: if we're speaking of possible and feasible worlds, then I think it's possible to argue that a world which contains both ontological AND moral goodness is superior to one which contains solely ontological goodness.

I would agree, but only because I don’t put much stock in the notion of “ontological goodness”.

This would address the "why didn't God make our natures exactly like His" argument, at least in part.

It would, but that wasn’t really the question.

In terms of possible worlds, I think that Heaven necessarily entails this life as a prelude to it. Heaven isn't a possible world taken by itself, I think.

This really needs a justification. No offense, but “I think” is a lot softer claim than “necessarily entails”. I don’t know how one could argue that it would be impossible for an omnipotent, omniscient Being to create Heaven by itself.

Now, let me take your other point like this: suppose the only possible world that God could create in which all would freely love and not sin is a world consisting of three people alone. Is God obligated to actualize this possible world as opposed to, say, one in which ten people choose to freely not sin yet three people do?

I would say more information is needed, really. First, I would claim that God has no obligations, period. But, if you want to justify the claim that God is “good”, I don’t think you will have too much of a problem in this scenario. If you want to claim God is “perfectly good”, that will be much more difficult to defend. And, of course, you cannot defend the notion of God being “Goodness Itself” on any action of God.

I don't see that that's even remotely possible to assert. [referring to there being more bad than good in the world]

It’s not. I don’t think we can quantify “goodness” vs. “badness” in the world. It is worth pointing out, however, that there would be no need for using Heaven as a theodicy (which I assume you’re not denying happens) if people thought there was more good than bad in this world. People would, then, simply point out there is more good than bad. But, this notion does not follow intuitively from Christian concepts like The Fall, Original Sin, and Total Depravity.

…I think God's Goodness differs from ours not only quantitatively but qualitatively. And that makes the discussion into an entirely different animal.

I assume you’re referring to “ontological” vs. “moral” goodness here? I’d agree that takes the discussion down other roads, albeit interesting ones. The “problem” – if you want to call it that (I assume you don’t) – is that ontological goodness cannot be demonstrated to be anything like what we would consider “good”, so there’s no reason to call it that. One might as well call God “ontologically Red”.

Cole said...

When we look at the scientific record of how things came into existence we find that they simply don't match the Biblical cronology. Here's a highlight of the scientific record:

The Big Bang of space-time, moons, planets, stars, and sun

Land

Fish and other water creatures in the cambrian explosion.

Seed bearing plants

Advanced land animals

Fruit trees

Humans


Here's the Biblical record


Light

space and seperation of the waters

land

Fruit trees and seed bearing plants

Sun, moon, stars, in the sky

Water creatures

land animals

man


Because of this proof that the Biblical writers got the scientific record wrong some people have tried to come up with theories about Genesis to harmonize the two. One being the framework hypothesis. But the problems with this interpretation are numerous. See the book the Genesis Debate.

Mike Darus said...

The primary literary structure in the Old Testament is chiasm, not chronological lists. The structure of Genesis 1 is:
a. Light
b. sea and sky
c. dry land
a' luminaries
b' fish and firds
c' land animals and humans
d' Sabbath
The first thre units describe the three spheres of life. The next three describe the population of the three spheres.

The order of the first three spheres is consistent with science. Any discongruity is imaginative and violates the clear literary structure.

Credit to Umberto Cassuto as quoted in "The Literary Structure of the Old Testament" by David A Dorsey.

JB Chappell said...

@Daniel

The gospels are overall silent on the issue of the kinds of torments that will be in hell.

100% agree. I hope you realize that I’m not trying to caricature your own position. I’m merely addressing orthodoxy – which is, as I understand it, that there is eternal torment in Hell. Personally, I am more of an inclusivist and annihilationist, but these are generally considered heterodox beliefs. In any case, the point is that it is more difficult to say you are “free” when you are being threatened. And clearly, there is plenty of threatening language in the Bible; and fear of Hell pervades Christianity (in my own experience, anyway).

First, dealing with Romans. Just 11 verses later it says we have already been set free from sin and become slaves of righteousness. So, I am not quite sure how 6:4-7 is a knockdown.

I said it *wasn’t* a knock-down argument. Again, I’m just pointing out what people commonly claim. Not trying to say that it is definitely so. You are right to point out the deficiencies, however.

Secondly, Adam wasn't created perfect, he was created good.

Fair enough. As you say later, the significance of this depends on definitions… and I’m not sure we have enough information to really define the state of Adam’s initial existence. Actually, I’m sure we don’t.

If I am to defend the possibility of a good God, I only have to show that it is theoretically possibly that the state of things can work with a "good God."

It is far easier to defend the possibility of something, than to defend the actuality of something. If your goal is merely to defend the possibility of a “good” God, that is fine, but it doesn’t establish that such a God exists, or even probably exists. There is a “Logical Problem of Evil” argument where it is important to demonstrate these possibilities, but my aim is not to show that there is a logical incompatibility with a “good” God and our state of affairs, but merely to highlight the difficulty in demonstrating that God is “good” in any recognizable sense.

If the world is so awful where a good God seems inconceivable then it seems a belief in a good God seems inconceivable, but obviously the belief resides.

Right, but then the question would simply center around the thinking process of those who do. Inconceivability and incompatibility are different concepts. Showing that people can conceive of something demonstrates nothing, except that they can do so. People also conceive of many gods and bad gods, that doesn’t mean they exist, or are logically compatible with certain states of affairs.

In fact, the belief in a good God seems to spread faster in countries where there is much suffering.

Isn’t it easy to see why this might be, though? The idea offers comfort. And if my existence sucked, I’d probably cling to happy thoughts, too.

Syllabus said...

Cole:

Dude, that's it? You're saying that science disproves the Biblical God because you can't read the first chapter of Genesis as a forensic science text? That's preposterously weak. And that hasn't even been the normative way of reading Genesis throughout Church history.

"One being the framework hypothesis. But the problems with this interpretation are numerous."

OK then. Point them out.

Cole said...

Syllabus,

It's not only the order but how they came into existence. And the history of the chuch has not read the days of Genesis like you would claim. In fact the majority saw them as 24 hr. days with a global worldwide flood which has also been disproved by science. It's proof enough for me. It's a superstiscious and barbaric book with a barbaric God.

JB Chappell said...

Cole,

I hope you can see that there simply is no way to get from "Genesis is wrong" to "the Biblical God has been proven not to exist".

Daniel Anderson said...

Jb, good points.

"Right, but then the question would simply center around the thinking process of those who do. Inconceivability and incompatibility are different concepts. Showing that people can conceive of something demonstrates nothing, except that they can do so. People also conceive of many gods and bad gods, that doesn’t mean they exist, or are logically compatible with certain states of affairs. "

I completely agree. The fact that someone believes it does not mean it exists. That's not my point though. I am not so sure the "state of things" logically means a good God does not exist.

If we are to see that evil exists then what standard do we use? Do we compare it that which is good? If so, could it mean that there is a source of good and that evil is defined, in some way, in relation to it? If so, then looking at evil in relation to good could mean a superior source of good. Does this mean it terminates in a God? No. There are other arguments that I believe help establish the existence of God and his nature. Still, the existence of evil does not necessarily and logically take out the idea of a good God.

You wrote, "Isn’t it easy to see why this might be, though? The idea offers comfort. And if my existence sucked, I’d probably cling to happy thoughts, too."

Hmm...So if we have a good existence then we think evil undermines a good God? Seems a little puzzling that those who have it "good" make accusations about God in relation to others suffering, and those who suffer cling to something good. I am not saying it doesn't make sense, just puzzling.

Cole said...

JB,

Well, the Bible is an interconnected whole. It says God did such and such and science has proven it to be fable. There is not any evidence for the Biblical God. Unless you want to believe He is behind nature. This makes Him an abusive and insane deity at times.

Syllabus said...

"That is fair. I don’t we have to know everything about everything to justify certain beliefs. Nonetheless, I think admitting ignorance on why God instantiates a world a certain way should probably result in more admissions of ignorance on whether He is “Good” or not."

That depends on where your starting points are, and whether you have any other data to go on. I think I have the latter, and the former are quite long and detailed.

"I would agree, but only because I don’t put much stock in the notion of “ontological goodness”."

Why?

"This really needs a justification. No offense, but “I think” is a lot softer claim than “necessarily entails”. I don’t know how one could argue that it would be impossible for an omnipotent, omniscient Being to create Heaven by itself."

That's pretty fair. You'll excuse me if I don't get around to this now, as I've got class tomorrow and this is a huge topic. But I will try to write something else on it tomorrow.

"I would say more information is needed, really."

That's kind of my point.

"First, I would claim that God has no obligations, period."

And I would more or less agree.

"But, if you want to justify the claim that God is “good”, I don’t think you will have too much of a problem in this scenario. If you want to claim God is “perfectly good”, that will be much more difficult to defend. And, of course, you cannot defend the notion of God being “Goodness Itself” on any action of God."

I'm not saying you can. But you brought up the question of why God wouldn't instantiate some possible world in which there were only those creatures who would freely love and choose not to sin. What I meant to demonstrate was that, even if one concedes that God has no obligations - which I kind of do, with some important qualifications - I think it's demonstrably more plausible that there is a better world than that one than that there isn't. And thus, I offered the example. That's the purpose for which I advanced it.

"It’s not. I don’t think we can quantify “goodness” vs. “badness” in the world."

Agreed.

"It is worth pointing out, however, that there would be no need for using Heaven as a theodicy (which I assume you’re not denying happens) if people thought there was more good than bad in this world."

That's a purely subjective metric tool, though. Who, precisely, are you asking?

"People would, then, simply point out there is more good than bad. But, this notion does not follow intuitively from Christian concepts like The Fall, Original Sin, and Total Depravity."

Actually, what does follow from a proper understanding of the first two - the third is a purely Protestant idea, and while I'm closer to being a Protestant than a Catholic or Orthodox I still reject total depravity - is that the world is, by nature, good. There is corruption, sure. That's undeniable. But that doesn't change the fact that the essential nature of material creation is good. I would also point out that we simply can't make a judgement one way or another.

"The “problem” – if you want to call it that (I assume you don’t) – is that ontological goodness cannot be demonstrated to be anything like what we would consider “good”, so there’s no reason to call it that. One might as well call God “ontologically Red”."

I'd very much like to see that justified, if you don't mind.

"Personally, I am more of an inclusivist and annihilationist, but these are generally considered heterodox beliefs."

I don't think inclusivism is heterodox, unless by inclusivism you mean something like apocatastasis. And even that is only considered heterodox among Western Christianity. So far as I understand, it's a live option within Eastern Orthodoxy, since they take many of their cues from Gregory of Nyssa. Annihilationism or conditionalism is a little more heterodox, true, but if one is simply going on Scripture it's a possible conclusion to come to.

JB Chappell said...

Syllabus said: [in response to my comment about certain ideas conflicting with a traditional notion of Heaven]

Only if one thinks that Heaven is something that can simply be created ex nihilo, rather than the end of a chain of events embarked upon by volitional agents.
What reason do you have for thinking that Heaven cannot be created ex nihilo? Biblically, it seems to pre-date humans, so it isn’t as if Heaven exists for souls to arrive at.

Daniel said: [in response to my suggestion for God running a simulation, rather than creation]

I think that would still be impeding on free will. You do not avoid creating certain beings, because of their future choices before they make those choices. That takes away the ability to make the choice and is therefore taking away free will.

NOT creating someone does not “take away” anything, since they do not exist. God is not “impeding” on the free will of those who do not exist now.

Syllabus said...

"And the history of the chuch has not read the days of Genesis like you would claim. In fact the majority saw them as 24 hr. days with a global worldwide flood which has also been disproved by science."

Oh, please, cite your sources.

And even if I were to concede that that is how the majority of people have read them - which I don't for a second - then I would still say that they simply read the text wrongly. First off, Genesis is a composite book. The first 11 chapters are widely recognized to be of a completely different genre than the rest of the book, and the first chapters have marks within them that point towards them having been written as creation myths - more specifically, as polemics against the creation narratives of the surrounding culture.

Syllabus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Syllabus said...

What reason do you have for thinking that Heaven cannot be created ex nihilo? Biblically, it seems to pre-date humans, so it isn’t as if Heaven exists for souls to arrive at."

Again, huge subject, but I'd first ask how you're defining "heaven". When I use the word, I mean, among other things, the New Creation which will be inhabited by resurrected humanity (and whatever other beings there may or may not be out in the universe).

Daniel Anderson said...

JB, you wrote, "NOT creating someone does not “take away” anything, since they do not exist. God is not “impeding” on the free will of those who do not exist now."

I disagree. If you intend to create a being, and you know the choices that the being will make, and then you take away that intention (changing your mind) because of those choices then you impeding on the will to provide free will - you are saying, "I am only going to provide free will when that free will is going to make the right choices." That essentially is controlling free will.

JB Chappell said...

Syllabus, you asked for a justification for the following comment of mine:

‘…ontological goodness cannot be demonstrated to be anything like what we would consider “good”, so there’s no reason to call it that. One might as well call God “ontologically Red”.’

OK, this can get pretty involved pretty fast. I’m going to try to do this quickly, which I imagine will be a mistake, but I don’t want to clog the feed up too much (probably already have!).

As I understand it, the notion that God is “Goodness Itself” comes from defining God as a Being who has every perfection, or the greatest conceivable Being. Such a Being would have to have the property of “omnibenevolence”, or “perfect goodness”. But, as classical theism goes, God cannot have “parts” (divine simplicity). This reasoning is very spurious to me, but that is not my concern at the moment. Thus, God should not be said to have the “property of” omnibenevolence, omnipotence, etc…. But, is in fact these very same attributes. Moreover, they are of one essence. God IS omnibenevolence, and (by extension) omnibenevolence IS omniscience, etc.

My poor grasp of such reasoning will probably be betrayed by the fact that I consider such a notion to violate the Law of Non-Contradiction. Omnipotence is not omnibenevolence. To claim that they are is a contradiction. I have read attempts to explain why this isn’t so, and I confess that I do not understand them. So I’ll just let that go for the moment.

We are left with a God with a single essence that we really can’t define. God IS omnibenevolence (AND omnipotence AND omniscience, etc)? What does that mean? No one can really say. Furthermore, our concept of “goodness” is in no way related to power or knowledge. So, the “omnibenevolence” that God IS, is now not just our understand of a property of “goodness” with perfection and infinite abundance, but rather something we really don’t understand. Likewise with omnipotence & omniscience. In fact, it is fair to say that at this point God is simply something we don’t understand, since He is now described as some sort of uber-property as well as a Being. [Although I would note that God being indescribable or ineffable is not necessarily surprising or wrong].

Therefore, to say that God IS “Goodness” is literally meaningless. We do not have a concept for this. The problem with that is that we are still using a word that denotes a certain understanding. Likewise, I could use the term “ontologically Red” to mean something other than what it appears to mean. What we should do (assuming the above definitions and divine simplicity) is use some other term that denotes an unknown (I would prefer “X”… God is perfectly X).

So, in short, when we say that God is “ontologically Good”, it involves a goodness that we do not understand. Because we do not understand it, we cannot describe it. Because we can neither understand nor describe it, it is impossible to demonstrate.

JB Chappell said...

@Daniel

If you intend to create a being, and you know the choices that the being will make, and then you take away that intention (changing your mind) …

You have added intention here, where there was none. If you run a simulation, it isn’t necessarily the case that you intend to instantiate every simulation. In fact, it is probably better understood as: God intends to create people conforming to properties XYZ. God does not intend to create beings with properties ABC (He’s alphabetist, you see). God runs simulation to see which people result with properties XYZ. It does not follow from all this that He intended to create ABC people, but changed His mind.

…you are saying, "I am only going to provide free will when that free will is going to make the right choices." That essentially is controlling free will.

But it isn’t, because they are still free to choose. Earlier, you indicated that just because options are limited, that does not negate free will. Are you changing your mind?

It is, however, controlling the outcome. But Christians believe that God does that already, do they not?

JB Chappell said...

@Syllabus

…I'd first ask how you're defining "heaven". When I use the word, I mean, among other things, the New Creation which will be inhabited by resurrected humanity (and whatever other beings there may or may not be out in the universe).

If you’re defining “heaven” as a place of habitation for “resurrected humanity”, then I’d grant that there would have to be some kind of prior existence (otherwise “resurrection” makes no sense). But, no offense, that seems like defining yourself to victory. It also seems unbiblical. It seems to me that Heaven in the Bible pre-dates the New Creation and resurrection of the dead. It also seems to me easy enough to conceive of Heaven as a generic utopia, paradise, or perfect state of affairs. Admittedly, that is vague – but it is not inconsistent with the Biblical concept.

JB Chappell said...

@Cole

Well, the Bible is an interconnected whole.

This is somewhat the case. Methinks it is not quite as interconnected as you make it out to be. In any case, the Bible is not interconnected to the God-of-the-Bible's existence. The Bible could be false *in every respect* as to claims of what God has done, and yet still be correct as to God's existence.

It says God did such and such and science has proven it to be fable.
Science is provisional. By stating "science has proven it to be fable" you mean to say: based on the available evidence, it does not appear that event X in the Bible actually occurred. Again, this has nothing to do with God's existence.

There is not any evidence for the Biblical God.
This is an entirely different (and subjective) claim. That there is no evidence for [something] is a MUCH different claim than stating [something] has been proven to be false or not exist.

Cole said...

JB,

I'm not saying that science has shown that there is no Higher Power of love, compassion, and justice. Only that science has progressed to rule out the Bible's teaching of creation and therefore rule out the Bible since the Bible writers believed the creation account. They didn't know. Moreover, the kind of psychological and physical damage that one can go through in natural disasters shows how abusive this God is. Thus ruling Him out as a loving, compassionate, God of justice. We have also come a long way in our understanding of mental disorders. In the Bible they counted any mental illness or mind derangement as being possessed by a devil or devils; demon or demons. All that was required in the Bible to be healed of "soulish" matters was confession of your sins and faith. No one was aware that these things were mental disorders that could be helped through things like medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy etc. ect. For these reasons the Biblical God must be rejected. On the basis of modern science and medicine.

Daniel Anderson said...

First, I laughed at this.

(He’s alphabetist, you see)

Good one.

JB, a this will have to be my last comments for the night. I have enjoyed the conversation though!

You wrote, But it isn’t, because they are still free to choose. Earlier, you indicated that just because options are limited, that does not negate free will. Are you changing your mind?

It is, however, controlling the outcome. But Christians believe that God does that already, do they not?"


God does his will through free creatures, not in spite of it.

Before I go any further, I am not fully convinced that God specially creates each individual by direct cause.

Even so, I can see your point but I am not sure I can agree with it. If God knows what someone is going to do, but doesn't allow them to do it, then how is that free will? They essentially "exist" metaphysically in his scenario, but then he doesn't bring them to being because of choices they had not made. That restricts existence (which may be a greater good) because of potential consequence. In the end, while he knows the choice they make, they haven't made it. To prevent existence because of choices not made is not necessarily more desirable. It still seems like it impedes on the real intention of free will, and therefore violates the true allowance of free will.

JB Chappell said...

@Cole

I'm not saying that science has shown that there is no Higher Power of love, compassion, and justice.

OK, that’s good. You realize that the Bible considers God to be a “Higher Power of love, compassion, and justice”? Admittedly, the Bible attribute other qualities to God, but I’d think you wouldn’t limit your “Higher Power” to just these three qualities as well.

Only that science has progressed to rule out the Bible's teaching of creation and therefore rule out the Bible since the Bible writers believed the creation account.
This is logically fallacious. Let’s start with the first claim:
science has progressed to rule out the Bible's teaching of creation
I’d agree with you. What does this prove? It proves that the Bible was wrong about creation. You can assert that it rules out other principles based on this account, such as the Fall or Original Sin… but, no, you want the baby with the bathwater.
and therefore rule out the Bible
By this logic, we must throw out entire “interconnected” texts, because they got one detail wrong? I don’t think so. The entire Bible does not depend on a literal Genesis creation story.
since the Bible writers believed the creation account
Really? Which Bible writers? Did the writer of Exodus believe in a literal Genesis story? How about Proverbs? How do you know? You are asserting far more than you can justify. Furthermore, it makes no sense to dismiss someone’s writing merely because they were wrong about some other, unrelated belief. Charles Darwin was a racist – does that mean we must reject his writings?

In any case, even if we were to accept ALL of this (and we shouldn’t), all it leaves us with is rejection of the Bible. Again, at most that leaves you with is a notion that “there is no evidence”. The only thing science has ruled out is a literal Genesis story – not the entire Bible, not the God of the Bible. You claimed otherwise. In reality, you just rule out the rest based on obviously fallacious reasoning.

Moreover, the kind of psychological and physical damage that one can go through in natural disasters shows how abusive this God is.
So a loving, just, compassionate being/person NEVER causes psychological and/or physical damage, or only does so with good reason?

Thus ruling Him out as a loving, compassionate, God of justice.

That is only the case if it is your claim that a loving, just, compassionate being/person NEVER causes harm. I think this is obviously false. It is nearly universally recognized that there morally acceptable reasons of allowing/causing damage.

We have also come a long way in our understanding of mental disorders. In the Bible they counted any mental illness or mind derangement as being possessed by a devil or devils... For these reasons the Biblical God must be rejected. On the basis of modern science and medicine.

So, again, we’re back to “Bible writers” were wrong about A, therefore they must be wrong about Z. That is illogical.

It is also the case that almost every major scientific claim has been falsified at some point. In fact, scientific progress can be summarized by constantly proving current theories wrong. By this reasoning, you have no reason to think that “modern science and medicine” are correct. Where does that leave you?

JB Chappell said...

@Daniel

No worries on needing to go to bed (or work)! I have enjoyed the conversation as well.

God does his will through free creatures, not in spite of it.

This works with my scenario as well, although Biblically there are plenty of instances of God working His will by imposing it.

Before I go any further, I am not fully convinced that God specially creates each individual by direct cause.

Fair enough. Neither am I.

If God knows what someone is going to do, but doesn't allow them to do it, then how is that free will?

If “someone” does not exist, they really aren’t “someone” at all. And so God can’t be seen as not allowing “them” to do some”thing” (that doesn’t really exist either, so isn’t a “thing” at all).

They essentially "exist" metaphysically in his scenario…

I think this is probably our source of disagreement.

To prevent existence because of choices not made is not necessarily more desirable.

It’s only more desirable if it prevents bad that would outweigh good, which is what I was insinuating that God would be doing in this scenario.

It still seems like it impedes on the real intention of free will, and therefore violates the true allowance of free will.

I think you’d have to justify how a simulation is “metaphysically” existing. I don’t see it. My guess is that you don’t think of other simulations (video game characters) as metaphysically existing either (except as simulations).

Cole said...

JB,

If you want to cherry pick the Bible and say this is true and this isn't that's fine. Believe me I understand. I never did that when I read it though. I believed all the insane things along with the loving things. You can see all through the Bible that people believed that God created the physical realm. He therefore becomees abusive and insane. To say God has a good reason to be abusive and insane but we simply just don't know the reason doesn't cut it with me anymore. This is what keeps people in the bondage of an abusive relationship with this deity. Along with the teachings that we don't desrve God's love and that we deserve to suffer forever in hell. I said this in the previous post but you skipped it so I'll repeat it. We have come a long way in our understanding of mental disorders. In the Bible they counted any mental illness or mind derangement as being possessed by a devil or devils; demon or demons. All that was required in the Bible to be healed of "soulish" matters was confession of your sins, prayer, and faith. No one was aware that these things were mental disorders that could be helped through things like medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy etc. ect. For these reasons the Biblical God must be rejected. On the basis of modern science and medicine.

kilo papa said...

Why are you nutters so afraid of confronting the fact that if your Jesus was a man, as your religion teaches, then he had the same bodily functions as any other man. Which means that Jesus walked around the Middle East belching, farting, defecating and having erections. And if he had erections, you know what he did with that, right?

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaahhaahahhahah!!!!

Picture that the next time you're deep in prayer!!

JB Chappell said...

@Cole

If you want to cherry pick the Bible and say this is true and this isn't that's fine. Believe me I understand.

I’m not sure why determining fact from fiction would be considered “cherry-picking”. Yes, I am interested in determining fact from fiction.

You can see all through the Bible that people believed that God created the physical realm.

Of course. But science hasn’t exactly ruled THAT out, now has it? What you claimed was that each “Bible writer” believed in the Genesis creation account, which – let’s face it – is probably the case. But we simply don’t know for sure, and it really doesn’t mean anything even if they did. Except that, you know, they were human and could be wrong. I guess that has implications for inerrantists, but you don’t have to throw a whole library of books out (which is what the Bible is), simply because there are errors.

To say God has a good reason to be abusive and insane but we simply just don't know the reason doesn't cut it with me anymore.

To say that God becomes “abusive and insane” without justification doesn’t cut it, period.

Along with the teachings that we don't desrve God's love and that we deserve to suffer forever in hell.

Is it your claim that you do, in fact, deserve God’s love? What does one do to deserve this?

I said this in the previous post but you skipped it so I'll repeat it…

Go back and read my comment; I did not skip it.

Cole said...

"To say that God becomes “abusive and insane” without justification doesn’t cut it, period."

When someone sits back and watches and listens to an infant scream as it slowly burns to death and go snap, crackle, and pop I would have to say that's deranged. Especially when you can perform a miracle and bring the infant up to heaven. He's insane and to say He has a morally good reason for this but no one knows it doesn't cut it. It's an atempt to avoid the obvious. I think we deserve love because we have value and worth as human beings. We deserve to be treated with repect and not abused.

Crude said...

When someone sits back and watches and listens to an infant scream as it slowly burns to death and go snap, crackle, and pop I would have to say that's deranged.

You're confusing dead infants with bowls of Rice Krispies again, Cole.

JB Chappell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JB Chappell said...

@Cole

He's insane and to say He has a morally good reason for this but no one knows it doesn't cut it. It's an atempt to avoid the obvious.

Speaking of “the obvious”, let’s look at our options when confronted with the following set of conditions: God is omnipotent & omniscient (I assume you’re willing to grant these – at issue is whether God/Higher Power is “good”) and there is much suffering and pain in the world.

1. God is Good, but allows it for an unknown reason
2. God is bad, because there is no morally acceptable reason to allow suffering/evil.

I would say that it is you who are avoiding the obvious, because it is clear that although #1 is not a very satisfying answer, it is still a legitimate one. #2 involves denying there being morally acceptable reasons to allow suffering, which I note that you steadfastly refuse to address. Answer me this Cole: are there morally acceptable reasons for causing and/or allowing harm?

Note, however, that given your conception of God as bad, we have the inverse problem: given the “badness” of God, why is there any good at all? How could such an awful God simply sit back and watch an infant laugh, without smiting it? We have two options:

1. God is bad, but has some unknown reason for allowing goodness
2. God is really “good”, because obviously there is no other reason for allowing goodness.

This presents you with a pickle, because – given your reasoning in the first scenario – you’d have to pick #2. Unless, that is, you want to claim that there are only unknown reasons to allow goodness if you’re bad, but no good reasons to allow badness if you’re good. I would love to hear that argument.

I think we deserve love because we have value and worth as human beings. We deserve to be treated with repect and not abused.

Why do humans have value and worth?

Cole said...

"Answer me this Cole: are there morally acceptable reasons for causing and/or allowing harm?"

There are for certain amounts of harm. But watching an infant slowly burn to death when you can perform a miracle, save it, and bring it up to heaven is crazy. Only a lunatic would do such a thing. It's not love and compassion neither is it justice. My Higher Power isn't all powerful. I take values to be given brute facts. Perhaps they are grounded in a loving, compassionate Higher Power of justice. My Higher Power isn't responsible for the things your insane God is. I don't believe He/She created the physical universe. Rather it's transcendent and beyond the physical. Like justice and other values.

Walter said...

1. God is bad, but has some unknown reason for allowing goodness
2. God is really “good”, because obviously there is no other reason for allowing goodness.


We can add to this list as follows:

3. God is a transcendent deity and not a personal God, and he is somewhat indifferent to human suffering. God does not shed crocodile tears when a child dies of cancer or burns in a fire.

Cole said...

Walter,

Or this transcendent Higher Power is eternal therefore making it's emotional life eternal. It would feel sadness over tragedy and joy over love and justice. It feels everything at once. Like a mixed emotional state.

Syllabus said...

"There are for certain amounts of harm. But watching an infant slowly burn to death when you can perform a miracle, save it, and bring it up to heaven is crazy. Only a lunatic would do such a thing. It's not love and compassion neither is it justice."

This is pretty much just an argument from personal incredulity, man. You were doing much better when you were claiming that having created human beings with only the capacity to love was better than creating them free to choose to love. If you want this to really be a good argument, I would suggest substantiating it logically.

Cole said...

Syllabus,

You can call it whatever you want to but any person who sits back and watches an infant slowly burn to death when you can perform a miracle and bring it to safety is beyond mad. There is no morally sufficient reason for acting like a deranged lunatic. It's strange how you can't see how insane such a person would be.

Ilíon said...

Syllabus: "And how the hell did a thread about an arrogant scientist become one about theodicy? Funny things sure do happen on the interwebs."

Because some persons have a vested interest in distracting others (and themselves) from apprehending certain important truths -- for instance, that 'science' just ain't all that: that 'science' does not, nor can ever, tell us much about the really important things; that, by its very assumptions and methodologies, 'science' does not, and cannot ever, distinguish 'true' from 'not true' (the best 'science' can do in this regard is to distinguish "self-contradictory" from "not yet known to be self-contradictory").

And because most of those who comment on this blog, including our host, do not desire to discipline themselves to think clearly, logically, rationally, at all times about all things ... and so are generally more than willing to be distracted at most times.

Crude said...

And because most of those who comment on this blog, including our host, do not desire to discipline themselves to think clearly, logically, rationally, at all times about all things ... and so are generally more than willing to be distracted at most times.

I suggest reading this out loud with your best Leonard Nimoy imitation. It's quite a thing.

Daniel Anderson said...

JB,

I am actually going on a hope that Master Chief exists. :)

I wrote, "They essentially "exist" metaphysically in his scenario…"

You wrote, "I think this is probably our source of disagreement."

If you want to say the scenario is not a true description, and that God is working on probability rather than seeing the actual future "state of things" then that might be different. I would have to think about it.

If however his scenario is completely accurate to the future state of things by seeing the actual choices before they happen (rather than just representations of the choices that could probabilistically occur), then I feel the entity will metaphysically exist. He is then choosing not to give being to something that he already "created" because of the choices the being will make. There is no video game or potential programming analogy or even a "theory of everything" that could ever match such a "scenario."

I wrote, "To prevent existence because of choices not made is not necessarily more desirable."

You wrote, "It’s only more desirable if it prevents bad that would outweigh good, which is what I was insinuating that God would be doing in this scenario."

Unless an act of creating something with intrinsic value is something "good." If such was the case then it would be quite difficult to make a moral comparison between "exist" and "not to exist." Victor Frankl would often ask people, "why don't you commit suicide?" He was tortured in a Nazi concentration camp. The great majority of people don't commit suicide. Even so, America has higher suicide rates than some third world countries. I think in principle, existing is greater than the things that could happen during that existence, the average person attests to it.

Also, we are pretty much back around to one of my original responses - that perhaps a greater good can come from permitting evil. Obviously the Christian story centers around several such events and one of which is of particular importance.

While the theoretical aspects are interesting and fun to discuss, it really doesn't mean much in relation to Christianity. Christ seemed to promise that bad things would be happening to his disciples. We also know what Christ went through in order to do God's will. He didn't say, "good things are coming because God is good." Instead, his promise was that he would be there to the end of the age. Paul later speculated that the present sufferings were nothing in comparison to the future glory. The disciples themselves willingly suffered in the name of their savior, in some cases counting it an honor. I think in the Christian view suffering is not desired, but if it comes, great good can come from it in the present or the future.

Part of that was my own musing.

Ilíon said...

"I suggest reading this out loud with your best Leonard Nimoy imitation. It's quite a thing."

I'm quite aware of how those who willingly choose to be mentally enslaved to irrationalism are going to interpret a condemnation of irrationalism.

Crude said...

I'm quite aware of how those who willingly choose to be mentally enslaved to irrationalism are going to interpret a condemnation of irrationalism.

And this one? One of the Watchmen characters. Probably Doctor Manhattan.

Really man, let's take this aside for a moment. Putting aside the fact that I agree with you most of the time, do you really, truly believe you personally "discipline themselves to think clearly, logically, rationally, at all times about all things"? Or, even if this is a goal, do you think you *succeed*?

You're inviting parody with crap like this. Loosen up, laugh a little.

Syllabus said...

"There is no morally sufficient reason for acting like a deranged lunatic."

Ohhhhh brother. I'd like to see you justify the premiss that a being with perfect knowledge could not possibly have morally sufficient reasons to permit evil. You know why? Because, for all intents and purposes, it can't be done.

"It's strange how you can't see how insane such a person would be."

If that person were like you or me, I would have to agree with you. But God is not that anthropomorphic.

Look, you can say that you can't believe that a being with perfect knowledge would have morally sufficient reasons to permit that, and that's totally your prerogative. I'm fine with that. But you're not saying that - in your words, "There is no morally sufficient reason for acting like a deranged lunatic". And you define a lunatic as someone who watches babies die without doing anything about it. I'm waiting for you to spell out a logical argument that contains justified premises, valid logic and warranted conclusions to back up these claims. So far, I just see you saying that " It's strange how you can't see how insane such a person would be." Now, I could come right back with a query in much the same vein to you, but I won't, because that's not logical. It's just emotional. Which isn't a bad thing, but when you're saying that, because you are emotionally repulsed by a certain action, therefore there are no logical grounds upon which any being could perform that action or inaction, it doesn't even begin to hold water. So, in summary, if you say you can't believe in God if He/She/It allows babies to suffer and die, that's one thing, and I won't go after that with such interest. But when you claim that there could be no morally sufficient reason - read: the idea is illogical - for God to allow these things simply because you are emotionally repulsed by it, I'm going to contest that. That simply isn't good logic.

And, by way of an oblique response, let me ask you a question: was Harry Truman a lunatic for ordering Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima?

Syllabus said...

"I think we deserve love because we have value and worth as human beings. We deserve to be treated with repect and not abused."

Which values and rights come from...

"I don't believe He/She created the physical universe."

Then what/who did? And you forgot to add "It".

"Along with the teachings that we don't desrve God's love and that we deserve to suffer forever in hell."

Again, where in Scripture are these things taught in these words? I know Romans has some things in it which can be extrapolated to say things like this, but that's at best a certain exegetical rendering of the text, not a straightforward reading - nor even a correct reading - of the text of, say, Romans 9.

Syllabus said...

"If you’re defining “heaven” as a place of habitation for “resurrected humanity”, then I’d grant that there would have to be some kind of prior existence (otherwise “resurrection” makes no sense)."

That's one of the things I mean by it, sure. And one of the more important ones. But by no means is it the only thing I mean when I say "heaven".

"But, no offense, that seems like defining yourself to victory. It also seems unbiblical."

As far as the "defining myself into victory", that's not entirely true. Though I think the ultimate destination of humanity is a new creation, I do believe in some sort of Beatific Vision-esque state in the interim. If you like, we can use that definition.

And no, it's not un-biblical. The writers of the New Testament were writing predominantly out of a 2nd Temple Judaic framework that presupposed stuff like the return of Yahweh to Israel, the resurrection of the dead at the judgement which would occur at the same time, and the renewing of the world. It's not the only set of images used throughout Scripture, sure - much of the Hebrew Bible has no thoroughly developed view of eschatology, and some of them (like Ecclesiastes) are downright nihilistic in their treatment of the subject. But, by the time of the First Century, the whole theme of final resurrection and restoration was a dominant one in the Hebrew paradigm. And it was out of this paradigm that the NT was written.

"It seems to me that Heaven in the Bible pre-dates the New Creation and resurrection of the dead."

Heaven, for all intents and purposes at the present time, can be defined as "where God is", if we take the spatial indicator there as being completely analogical.

"It also seems to me easy enough to conceive of Heaven as a generic utopia, paradise, or perfect state of affairs. Admittedly, that is vague – but it is not inconsistent with the Biblical concept."

True, but it's not the full biblical concept, which was my point. But, still, we can give as the definition of Heaven the "Beatific Vision", if you like. That'll do just fine.

I should also note that I probably overstated my case when I said something to the effect of "it is logically necessary to have this life as a sort of run-up to heaven". Thinking about it now, I think something like "it is more plausible to think that heaven entails this life as a run-up to it than to think that it can stand on its own" or something to that effect. Also, since we're talking in terms of what reasons a being with perfect knowledge might or might not have done, pretty much all I have to do is advance a logically possible - sound, valid, more plausibly true than its negation, whatever - solution to the problem. It seems I don't really have to demonstrate that the solution is the actual one, only that it is a coherent and possible one, since the claim seems to be something like, "since God did not actualize 'heaven' right off the bat, therefore He can't be omnibenevolent" or something to that effect. Is that fair?

And I'll get around to your critique of "ontological goodness" eventually. It's just such a deep topic that taking the time to write a proper response would take more time than I have on hand at the present.

Cole said...

Syllabus,

It's not that this insane being simply allows babys to sizzle. It's also the fact that He could simply perform a miracle and save them. Excuse me for feeling love and compassion for the suffering. He shouldn't have created these babys to exist on earth in the first place. All He had to do was create them already made in heaven. Again, there is no sufficient reason for anyone to act this way especially if you can perform miracles. I'm shocked that you think it's morally wrong for humans to act this way but it's okay for the God you worship and follow to act this way. It sounds like you are confused on what it means for someone to be a loving and caring person who feels love and shows compassion for the abused.

Syllabus said...

"He shouldn't have created these babys to exist on earth in the first place."

Please, demonstrate this logically.

"Again, there is no sufficient reason for anyone to act this way especially if you can perform miracles."

Please, demonstrate this logically.

"I'm shocked that you think it's morally wrong for humans to act this way but it's okay for the God you worship and follow to act this way."

My oblique response to this can be found in my question: was Harry Truman a lunatic for ordering Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima?

Cole said...

"demonstrate this logically."

Can you demonstrate this logically or even demonstrate that such insane behavior is okay?

Ilíon said...

For any interested in understanding, I'll translate the majority of the comments of this thread --

"1) If the freely chosen acts of any agent have logical consequences which affect any agent (whether the first actor or any other), than no one is free, and freedom does not exist.

2) That bastard, Jehovah! How *dare* he create a rational world in which acts have consequences which logically/inescapably follow from the act! ERGO, he doesn't exist, plus he's immoral.
"

Syllabus said...

"Can you demonstrate this logically or even demonstrate that such insane behavior is okay?"

Sorry, you have the burden of proof. You claimed the universal negative, you claimed that it's impossible for such a thing to be. You have to go first on this one.

And answer the question, Cole, for goodness' sake.

Cole said...

How is it a universal negative because someone belives allowing babies to roast when you have the ability and power to save them is not a loving thing to do? Do I really have to demonstrate that with logic?

Syllabus said...

"How is it a universal negative because someone belives allowing babies to roast when you have the ability and power to save them is not a loving thing to do? Do I really have to demonstrate that with logic?"

The universal negative is that there is no morally sufficient reason to allow suffering, specifically in this case the suffering of children, when you have the power to stop it. So, unless you want to retract or disavow this premiss, justify it.

And answer the question. I think you'll find it enlightening to do so.

Daniel Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Anderson said...

Cole, I think you are having issues with deciphering between the emotional problem of evil vs. the logical problem of evil.

You want a justification for the emotional, but emotions can be misleading and tricky.

Syllabus is asking you for a logical justification for your viewpoint, not an emotional one.

Syllabus said...

"You want a justification for the emotional, but emotions can be misleading and tricky."

To be fair, I don't think that the emotional problem is irrelevant. It is distinct, though, and has a completely different answer than the logical or the probabilistic problem of evil.

"Syllabus is asking you for a logical justification for your viewpoint, not an emotional one."

Yeah, and since there are two different problems at play here, I would ask you to stop thinking that your answer to one of them is an answer to all of them.

Cole said...

You are assuming that there is a morally justifiable reason to abuse babies. What is that reason?

Cole said...

Danial,

I must have real tricky emotions because I believe abusing babies is nuts. Especially when you can perform miracles and save the baby. I need to be locked up!

Syllabus said...

"You are assuming that there is a morally justifiable reason to abuse babies. What is that reason?"

I'm assuming nothing, and that's the point. You're saying that there is no morally sufficient reason to allow suffering when one has the power to stop it. I'm assuming that nothing here is proven one way or another, and asking you to justify this assumption. Stop evading.

Also, you're shifting the goalposts. A minute ago we were talking about allowing suffering. Now you're talking about direct abuse. Which is it?

Syllabus said...

And answer the other question: was Harry Truman a lunatic for ordering Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima?

Cole said...

Syllabus,

I must be out of my mind because I believe allowing babies to burn to death when you have the power to stop it is unloving. It's my tricky emotions.

Cole said...

The next time a baby gets caught in a natural disaster I will say God must have a sufficient reason for this and refuse to do anything.

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