Saturday, January 17, 2009

The audio of the Craig-Parsons debate

A redated post.


Joe said...

I’m sort of new to the internet apologetics but I have thought about these issues for a while.

Anyway, I had listened to this debate on my ipod earlier. I found Parson's analogy saying if we created "sentient robots" it would not be ok to destroy them interesting.

I must say that although it sounds good at first I think it is based on confusion. I mean adding the "sentient" part is merely making them seem more human and therefore trying to confuses the issue. Consider the many different ways he may mean sentient. Does he mean just some sort of pain receptors similar to what ants may have? If that’s the case then I think we can say whoever created the robotic ants would have a right to destroy them. But its only when he gets closer to what we would consider a human that the analogy really works if at all. And it only works because we start to anthropomorphize.

Could we unplug such a robotic creature? Yes of course. Should we try to cause it pain for no reason at all? No but its not that we shouldn’t do that because it has rights, but instead because that would likely be evidence of some sort moral dysfunction in ourselves.

To the extent God caused pain it was always for a reason. Parsons may not like the reasons and we may not understand them but there were reasons.

The other arguments from parsons seems to be along the lines of the God of the bible did bad stuff therefore he can’t be good or something. (well Its not always clear what conclusion is to be drawn but atheists seem to think it sounds good because they like to bring it up) I wrote this on William lane Craigs forums regarding arguments that God killed someone etc.:

“I think these sorts of questions and arguments are due to a fundamental misunderstanding of God and his relationship to us.

Lets say you own a bar. A great singer shows up at your bar and agrees to sing 2 songs for free in your establishment. The general consensus is that everyone liked her singing. Would you be in your rights to demand she sing 20 songs? Would you be in your rights to curse her and say she was evil for only singing two free songs? Obviously we should in the end be thankful for the songs she sang for free.

G_d gave us our lives on this earth. Our lives on this earth are generally considered good and we should be thankful for it. (This is actually assumed in your view. Otherwise why is killing is wrong?) Our lives often don't last as long as we would like. G_d gives and takes. But even those who were killed by G_d's command have on the whole received a gift of life from G_d. God gave them something good even if he didn't give it for as long as they would like.

This complaint is like the beggar who begs for a hamburger gets one and then curses his benefactor because it doesn't have cheese on it. “

Clayton Littlejohn said...

This complaint is like the beggar who begs for a hamburger gets one and then curses his benefactor because it doesn't have cheese on it.

Actually, isn't the complaint more like a father has a child, comes back when the child has grown to burn down the son's house leaving him a beggar, offers the son a sandwich, feeds him to some sharks, and then says 'What are you complaining about, I gave you life?'?

Joe said...

:) I guess if you are a pessimist about life you may view it that way. But the argument from the atheists always seems to condemn God killing people. If the life God gave us is so awful then why is ending that life also so awful. The atheist wants his cake and... If life is good then we should on the whole be happy god gave it to us. That’s the case even if it is not for as long as we would like.

Clayton Littlejohn said...


Maybe there are some atheists that believe that, but I'm not one of them. (And, I know far more atheists than most people and I've never met any that think what you think they think.)

Here's a standard set of claims that the atheists I know would make.
(1) We're not pessimists. Our lives are pretty good. Other people? That's different. There are surely some people who would have been better off having never been born. And, I think it's awful selfish for me sitting on the beach drinking boat drinks while on the far side of the globe someone's limbs are being hacked off with machetes by the men who just raped her to think it's all been worth it.
(2) It isn't helpful to talk about life being good or bad. Some lives are good. Some lives are bad. Some lives are surprisingly bad. That is, surprisingly bad as a gift from an all-good and all-powerful being. (Being born into the Congo, for example.)
(3) It's not just the death that's bad. It's the dying that sucks. Life is good, but why did it have to come with cancer? Why can't we all just painlessly die in our sleep when it is time?
(4) We atheists don't just care about killing. God seems pretty stingy about the goods that are distributed. I'd also note that many live out the tragedy of the commons on a daily basis. It's pretty messed up to put your kids into such situations.

If acceptance of those (4) is wanting his cake and ..., I don't see it.

Joe said...

I think we are sort of straddling two different arguments. One is the argument from evil in the world the other is some sort of argument that suggests God himself did evil.

I was responding to the second type of argument. If you listen to Parsons I think you will hear him making that type of argument.

All four of your points seem to be more in line with the argument that God (or at least a an all good all powerful etc. Christian God) is unlikely to exist because there is evil in the world.

Let me ask you something. Do you really think that is a top shelf reason to doubt God exists? Or are there different argument(s) that really make you think he doesn't exist that form the core of your belief that he doesn't exist.

Let me explain what I mean. I believe in God and I think the Kalam argument is ok. Not great, not bad but when I ask myself why do I believe in God it would not come to mind quickly. If I found out people had reason to reject it, it would have only a minor impact, if any, on my belief in God. Its not a core argument for me. Is the argument from evil a core argument for you? I’m just curious.

normajean said...

Congrats on your Cardinals!!!!!!!!!!