Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Benevolence and Happiness


My previous post has sparked some lively commentary (starting here and going forward) from one of our resident anonymous theists (Xians). Apparently writing a post about a specific theistic complaint and pointing out that it is a straw man is the same as being dishonest because somehow I'm claiming that happiness equates to what is best for us.

So, let's open up this thread for our anonymous thread hijacker to go ahead and defend his accusations and to defend his positions. For my part, I'll go ahead and open.

It's a rather complicated thing to talk about happiness, what is best for us, and omni-benevolence. So, I will try to keep the discussion from getting too deep and sum up my position.

First we have to think about what we mean by the terms and what conditions we are going to accept. We should conclude that happiness is that which makes people happy. Sometimes people are happy by getting ice cream or having a back rub, while others are made happy by getting handcuffed and whipped. What is "best for us" would be that which enriches or betters our lives. As for conditions, are we talking only about this world, this time, or are we talking long term and any possible world?

This is important, because what is best for us at this moment may not be what is best for us in the future. Also, delayed happiness now may lead to greater happiness in the future, so time is an important factor.

The final important factor is the supposed attributes of god, of which omni-benevolence is one. It's important that we don't leave out the rest, however, since many contradictions arise from trying to accommodate all of god's supposed qualities.

So, should god do what is "best for us," and is that the same as happiness? I think it's quite clear from the above that that question isn't very well answerable without setting the parameters that pertain to the question. It's far easier to talk about god's role in all this. Should he indeed do what is best for us? Let's consider the possibilities. Given the limitations of humans and this world, god may be justified at times in allowing us to learn lessons "the hard way." Of course, I would put limits on that. I wouldn't think that a child shooting himself in the face is a very justifiable way of "learning the hard way," that guns are dangerous. Innocuous things, however, we may be able to look past.

But, the problem with this is that is ignores the roles of the rest of god's attributes. If god has the power to eliminate evil, why create it at all? Would not it have been better to not create humans at all if it meant that evil would also not be created? Why would a perfect god need to create humans at all - god is already perfect and wants for nothing. god can't create more good by resorting to evil, since god was already perfectly good. This leaves us with the conundrum of the problem of evil, which theists have no answer for. A truly perfect and omni-max god would not have created us to begin with and therefore the ideas that happiness is what is best for us would not have ever been formulated. We would never have known about it because we would never have existed.

Now, I happen to enjoy existence, but it's simply incompatible with the idea of an omni-max god. Another way of looking at it would be that true happiness and what is best for us wouldn't even be considerations, because we'd never have to worry about either of them. So, in the end, I object to the theist's accusations and I object to the theist's straw man position.

39 comments:

Tigerboy said...

OK, so Omni-Max is existing (ETERNALLY) in utter perfection and bliss. I would maintain that this type of stagnation would drive any intelligent being stark, raving insane. Nothing is ever a challenge. No hardship ever needs to be overcome. No successes. One cannot enjoy success, unless failure is an option! Nothing ever changes, just bliss, bliss, bliss, everlasting boring bliss, shoot me now!

So, Omni-Max needs entertainment. Perfection doesn't entertain. Maybe at first, but perfection cannot change. Any change takes it away from perfection. That's eternal stagnation. Omni-Max is bored with perfection. ETERNALLY bored.

Failure entertains. Suffering entertains. Ever laugh at someone falling down? It's the challenge to the status quo that provides entertainment. Whether the sufferer fails, or overcomes his challenges, that's the soul of entertainment. That's the heart of drama. "What's gonna happen?"

If everything is perfection, we know what's gonna happen. Same thing as happened yesterday.

Omni-Max needs a flawed being. Something that might suffer. How about a flawed being with free will to fuck it up, and a bunch of standards that the flawed being cannot perfectly achieve? He's flawed, right?

It's like a bored child who pulls the wings off a fly, to see what it will do. What will the fly do?

"Entertain me, FLY!"

Is this omni-benevolence? Hardly.

I suggest that if Omni-Max were to exist, the only evil in the recipe came from him, ipso facto, God is in no way omni-benevolent. He created the evil. He stacked the deck. He created man with the sole purpose of tossing him into Hell for breaking the rules. That's evil.

That's torture in its purest form. Torture for no reason, but to entertain old Omni-Max! It's like the Roman emperors throwing slaves to the lions. It's fun to watch the bloodbath.

God is a psychotic bored child. God is Caligula! Good thing I don't believe in old Omni-Max! He's a VERY frightening fellow!

BTW, the monotheist's idea of Paradise . . . . equally boring. Eternal anything would drive an intelligent mind insane. Our intelligence demands a challenge.
Happiness is not possible without hardship, and it is not possible for eternity.

Anything, for eternity, becomes torture, becomes a prison. Anyone who claims they would love to have their feet rubbed for eternity doesn't really have a clear idea of eternity. Most people would want it to stop after a couple of weeks.

E-t-e-r-n-i-t-y is a difficult concept to wrap your head around. Actual eternity in the Elysian Fields would destroy the very thing that makes life wonderful. That it is precious.

How can you stop to smell the flowers, when it's never-ending flowers? As far as the eye can see, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever . . . . but you can't even kill yourself.

Eternal happiness is a really bad drug trip.

Tyler said...

Well said GCT, and especially Tigerboy. Well said.

Tigerboy said...

Thank you, Tyler. I appreciate that.

I would like to consider the subject of TIME. (Which brings up FINITE vs. INFINITE.)

From the OP:

" . . . delayed happiness now may lead to greater happiness in the future, so time is an important factor."

Time is a crucial factor, because it adds, or subtracts, essential elements to our happiness equation.

1. TIME allows for the maturing of our investments in happiness, and I'm not necessarily talking about money. Achievement of long-sought goals holds much greater happiness than achievement of goals more quickly attained.

2. TIME equals change. Further amounts of time allow for the possibility of the change back. Revert to unhappiness. As you travel around the Monopoly board, just a few spaces past Boardwalk and Park Place, you're back to Baltic Avenue. There can be no happiness, if hardship doesn't exist right around the corner. Given enough TIME, you will visit both places.

3. TIME is fleeting. Tick-tock, tick-tock. One day closer to the grave. We haven't much time left to enjoy that which makes us happy. That recent lung cancer diagnosis makes every truly happy moment even more precious. There can be no happiness, if you exist eternally. There can be no LIFE, if there is no DEATH.

Happiness is a totally relative state. It can only be measured in comparison to an alternative state. (Unhappiness, boredom, suffering, etc.) You can't have one without the other.

There can be no "joy in Mudville," if mighty Casey hits a home run 100% of the time. The possibility that Casey might strike-out must exist, or what's the source of the joy? If Casey knocks it out of the park every single time he comes to bat, always, without fail, forever, why would anyone in Mudville give a shit about watching the game?

Q: "Did you hear they won again?
A: "Fuck off."

But what is the concept of TIME to Omni-Max? Time is meaningless. For Him, time has no markers, no reference points. He's eternal.

What is the concept of LIFE to Omni-Max? There is no DEATH, so LIFE is meaningless.

Yet, he created it. (Or, so the story goes . . . )

If He created TIME and LIFE and DEATH, concepts that are meaningless in His eternal, perfect existence, His eternal, perfect existence must not have been all that perfect. It needed something.

Any version of God that includes these absolutes is doomed. Yet, a God that lacks absolutes has other problems.

Just because humans can't answer all their own questions, it doesn't mean the answer to those questions is: "God." The Abrahamic God is illogical.

tinkbell13 said...

Happiness is purely subjective, which GCT already said. There are people out there who are perfectly happy being homeless, people who are happy being defecated on, and are made happy and complete by committing various criminal acts.

What I am getting at is that we all have our own unique realities with different ingredients that make our life a little more happy each day. The idiot that suggests that you delay happiness to be gratified later is in for a big surprise.

Tigerboy said...

Tinkbell:

I'm not just saying that happiness is subjective, as in some people like lasagna, some people like linguine.

I'm saying that happiness is meaningless, even impossible, if suffering is unavailable as an option.

Paradise can't exist.

Anonymous said...

"Nothing is ever a challenge. No hardship ever needs to be overcome. No successes. One cannot enjoy success, unless failure is an option!"

This is perhaps one of the least thought out ideas I have ever read. I enjoy driving my car... the fact that there is a chance my car might not start does not add to my enjoyment of driving at all. For that matter, neither does the chance of having an accident because I failed to stay on the road. I don't enjoy breathing because there is a chance I might not breath again. I don't enjoy a meal because I might never eat again. There are pleasures that are pleasures in and of themselves.

"If everything is perfection, we know what's gonna happen. Same thing as happened yesterday."

Perfection does not equate to robotic autonomy. I think you're confused because when we try to produce perfection it's often unnatural and forced. The main problem I'm having with your post is that you're projecting your imperfections upon perfection... can we even imagine perfection in its natural state?

"Happiness is not possible without hardship, and it is not possible for eternity."

Two statements, equally manure. It is imperfection which interrupts happiness in the first place, therefore without imperfections we have no reason to suspect we would be anything other than happy all the time. Ever read a good book? Do you think you'd have to be cross-eyed to really enjoy the book? Ever run a race? Think the guy running with a wooden leg enjoys it more? He certainly has more hardship to flavor his experience...

"OK, so Omni-Max is existing (ETERNALLY) in utter perfection and bliss."

"Omni-Max needs a flawed being."

Pick one and stick with it...

"Actual eternity in the Elysian Fields would destroy the very thing that makes life wonderful. That it is precious."

Life isn't valuable because of death... it is robbed of fulfillment through death. Relationships which never had a permenant end point. Being able to say goodbye to relatives and friends and knowing for sure that you would one day see them again. No sickness, no disease, and endless opportunity to build relationship...

Nearly every human activity centers around relationship. Our communication, our work, our mealtimes, our leisure activities... most of what we do in life consumes us in community with one another. In fact, a nearly universal marker of someone who is unhappy is isolation. I can imaging nothing more grand, more satisfying, more filled with happiness and bliss than an eternity to experience community with all those I have ever loved.

Anonymous said...

tinkbell13:

You wrote: "The idiot that suggests that you delay happiness to be gratified later is in for a big surprise."

Tell that to the person who manages a good budget and then finally buys their dream home. Tell that to the dilligent 16 yr old who saves all their summer earnings to finally buy the car they want. Tell that to the olympian who stands up to accept their gold medal.

Yeah... all these people who delayed happiness to experience a greater happiness were idiots... Oh, but you were probably limiting your scope to those who are expecting an eternity with God. Two questions... are these people doing their best to live their lives for the good of themselves and those around them? (orthodox Christianity teaches they should) Not trying to go off about Pascal's Wager... but did you mean they would actually be disappointed or that they shouldn't have false hope? After all, is false hope (if it is false) sometimes comforting to most? If you think Christianity is only a crutch for the weak... so what? Why would you rob them of something that fills them with hope and at least a sense of purpose and fulfillment? If reality is cold and harsh as you propose, why wake me from my sweet slumber? And don't claim that we're all martyrs to religous thoughts. If the scientists are truly right then we, as the entire human race, are only going to exist for a very short and limited time. Whatever brings you happiness and fulfillment should be grasped... don't you believe that?

Tigerboy said...

Anon:

--"I enjoy driving my car... the fact that there is a chance my car might not start does not add to my enjoyment of driving at all."

No, but the fact that without your car your mobility is severely limited certainly creates that sense of enjoyment you feel in your car. Without your car, your freedom in the world is curtailed to those places to which you might walk, possibly through terrible weather, carrying heavy bags of groceries.

Without your car, you must live, play, and find work within a much smaller radius of your home. The existence of the harsh realities of life without your car provides you with that sense of freedom that you feel behind the wheel.

--"I don't enjoy breathing because there is a chance I might not breath again."

Wanna bet! All that "joy of being alive" that we all feel is a profound sense of pleasure and well-being that comes from an appreciation of this precious, finite life. You love your life, because you know it will not last forever. One has greater appreciation for that which is in short supply. One loves a perfect summer day, because we don't get that many perfect summer days. An eternity of perfect summer days would lessen your thrill at seeing one. "Look at the gorgeous full moon!" If there was a full moon, every single night, for all eternity, the thrill would lessen.

--"I don't enjoy a meal because I might never eat again. There are pleasures that are pleasures in and of themselves."

That's true. And everything that you take pleasure in is made possible by the fact that you are happy, healthy, and your needs are taken care of. How many times have you seen a homeless person and thought to yourself: "That poor man. How must it feel to be him. That could be me, someday." A full belly feels better than an empty one. You know that consciously, and unconsciously. "My, my, my that steaming bowl of corn chowder feels good on a cold winter evening. I'm glad I have this toasty fire and a roof over my head! I have so much. This soup would warm my heart even more, if I could share it with that poor, starving man." You don't think that your brain releases those pleasure endorphins, when you eat that soup, because you know that hunger is a less desirable state? Think again.

--"Perfection does not equate to robotic autonomy."

Oh, but it does! Are you saying that some days in Paradise are less perfect than others? If the days vary in their perfection, then they aren't all perfect. There are good days and bad. Don't you enjoy some things more than others? Some days are fantastic! And others less so. If some days are worse than others, over the course of E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y, one must run-in to some days that vary from perfection by quite a bit. I guess there must be some sorta shitty days in Heaven. Sorry. Perfection is a prison. Any way that it varies, it differs from perfection.

Tigerboy said...

Anon:

--"It is imperfection which interrupts happiness in the first place, therefore without imperfections we have no reason to suspect we would be anything other than happy all the time."

Let's just say I have my doubts. You can't be happy with something imperfect? Seriously?

--"Ever read a good book? Do you think you'd have to be cross-eyed to really enjoy the book? Ever run a race? Think the guy running with a wooden leg enjoys it more?"

I've read quite a few good books. And, no, I'm not saying anything remotely like one must be cross-eyed to really enjoy a book. How amusingly obtuse. I'm saying that I take great pleasure in the fact that I have the education and leisure time to enjoy many wonderful books. Many people are not as lucky. I enjoy a good book, because of the brilliant journeys of the mind a book can provide. Many, in this world, never take such journeys, or cannot. Reading gives me greater experiences of this finite life than I, otherwise, might never have enjoyed. It enables me to reach my mind out and share the thoughts of another human, from another time and place. It extends my finite experiences. How extraordinary is this thing called life? And so short.

Best to savor it, now.

I have run in races. Yes, I have. Do I think the guy with the handicap might enjoy it more than I? Not necessarily, but it is a distinct possibility. The athletes who compete in the Special Olympics seem to have quite a special appreciation for their ability to participate. How inspiring are they? Overcoming great disabilities, and putting out maximum effort, regardless of their physical and mental limitations. I certainly have enjoyed athletics, and the fact that my body is healthy and able to do so many things. I am very aware of the fact that many are not so lucky. It gives me great joy to turn a cartwheel, or to walk on my hands. I don't know for how long I will be able to do those things. I take great pleasure in my health and agility. It WILL NOT last forever.

--Tigerboy said: "OK, so Omni-Max is existing (ETERNALLY) in utter perfection and bliss."

and

"Omni-Max needs a flawed being."

Anon said: "Pick one and stick with it..."

I was drawing out a scenario that has been suggested by so many people with your same absurd Christian philosophy. If you had paid just a bit closer attention, you would have seen that I point out this obvious contradiction, in my very next comment.

Surely you didn't think that I was arguing for the truth of these statements! Nothing could be further from the truth. I find the statements inherently contradictory. It's your philosophy! Maybe you can explain it to me.

Was God perfect, before He created man, or not? If it was a case of perfection, why did He create life? Perfection needed a little tweak? Then, how was it perfection? Any thoughts, Christian?

Anonymous said...

Tigerboy:

Most of what you've responded to me has already been sufficiently countered in my first post... no need for me to reinvent the wheel here...

I believe your confusion comes mostly from your lack of distinction between happiness experienced and happiness realized. I will agree that for most people, they need some tragic event or some loss to remind them of the value of their life or the good things they experience in it. That doesn't place the flaw within the previous experience but rather within the person who experienced it. If that person were perfect, they wouldn't need hunger to realize the joy of food or death to realize the joy of life. To be plain... they just wouldn't be as dense as we tend to be.

"Was God perfect, before He created man, or not? If it was a case of perfection, why did He create life? Perfection needed a little tweak? Then, how was it perfection? Any thoughts, Christian?"

Yes, and I'm suprised you would even articulate such a juvenile viewpoint. God created because He is creative. It is part of His character. Saying God "needed" to create us is the same as saying water "needs" to make me wet when I jump into it...

Tyler said...

Anon: ... I'm suprised[sic] you would even articulate such a juvenile viewpoint.

Immediately followed by:

Anon: God created because He is creative.

"Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere!"

Anonymous said...

Tyler:

this is why you are ignored. The latter quote dealt with motive for creation not the subject of the plausability of creation. In tigerboy's question creation was assumed, but nice try at re-framing the question after the fact. Of course I really don't expect more from you.

Tigerboy said...

He certainly is creative!!

He created a system by which he could torture for failure, and a human that was guaranteed to fail.

He created evil and temptation, then he created a being that must suffer, for eternity, for succumbing to evil and temptation.

He created brain cancer for innocent children. Fun.

--"Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere!"

Magic shoes is exactly what you wish for. You want magic to be true, even though you have NEVER, EVER, EVER seen it happen. You want Jesus to fly down, out of the clouds, and use His magic powers to rapture you away to the land of milk and honey.

You have never, ever seen God, heard God, or experienced the slightest *concrete* evidence of God, yet you claim to know His thoughts, His moods, His talents and personality traits . . .

This is the very essence of "wishful thinking." (Yet, you call my viewpoint "juvenile." Amazing.) What you have, my friend, is a serious disconnection from reality. Merely inventing a fictive creation-story, with a fictive land where milk and honey flow like water, has zero impact on your vision being true. You can do any dance you want. You can drink some wine, and call it blood. You can chant any set of words you choose, it's still just wishful thinking.

Give me one example, from your ENTIRE life, where you witnessed *concrete* evidence for God.

Anything real?

I'm guessing not.

When you claim something to be true, without a single good reason, you are engaged in wishful thinking. Sorry to say, but that's kinda juvenile. I prefer reality.

Tyler said...

Anon: Tyler: this is why you are ignored...

... it said as it wasn't ignoring me.


You ignore me because you're a 'juvenile,' weak minded chickenshit who clams up when you realize you've backed yourself into a corner.

Anonymous said...

Tigerboy:

Nice of you to, once again, try to re-frame your argument after the fact. First we were writing about God as though He did exist, now you want me to prove He does?

Then: "I suggest that if Omni-Max were to exist, the only evil in the recipe came from him, ipso facto, God is in no way omni-benevolent."

Now: "Give me one example, from your ENTIRE life, where you witnessed *concrete* evidence for God."

Which conversation would you like to have? I realize your original argument lacked substance... that's why you're trying to move the goalposts now...

It is a classic atheist ploy and I won't engage you unless you're going to stay on point and be honest.

GCT said...

Anon,
'Then: "I suggest that if Omni-Max were to exist, the only evil in the recipe came from him, ipso facto, God is in no way omni-benevolent."

...

I realize your original argument lacked substance... "

Which part do you feel lacks substance? Do you believe that an omni-max being didn't create all that is in our universe, including evil? Do you believe that it's compatible for an omni-max being to both be omni-benevolent and the author of evil? Or something else?

"Yes, and I'm suprised you would even articulate such a juvenile viewpoint. God created because He is creative. It is part of His character. Saying God "needed" to create us is the same as saying water "needs" to make me wet when I jump into it..."

Congrats on getting other to focus on your use of the word "juvenile," but you don't get off so easily. Are you now claiming that being creative is a necessary component of being perfect? How does that make sense? A perfect being has no need to create anything and I doubt you can make a case that a perfect being must create imperfect things in order to be perfect.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"Congrats on getting other to focus on your use of the word "juvenile," but you don't get off so easily. Are you now claiming that being creative is a necessary component of being perfect? How does that make sense? A perfect being has no need to create anything and I doubt you can make a case that a perfect being must create imperfect things in order to be perfect."

Just the opposite. Tigerboy is claiming God needed to create to fulfill some void within Himself. When I claimed this false then Tigerboy questioned why God would create at all. My response was simply that creativeness was a part of God's character. Not that creativeness is a necessary component in some list of traits necessary for perfection, but rather that creativity resides in the only perfect One.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"Congrats on getting other to focus on your use of the word "juvenile," but you don't get off so easily. Are you now claiming that being creative is a necessary component of being perfect? How does that make sense? A perfect being has no need to create anything and I doubt you can make a case that a perfect being must create imperfect things in order to be perfect."

Just the opposite. Tigerboy is claiming God needed to create to fulfill some void within Himself. When I claimed this false then Tigerboy questioned why God would create at all. My response was simply that creativeness was a part of God's character. Not that creativeness is a necessary component in some list of traits necessary for perfection, but rather that creativity resides in the only perfect One.

GCT said...

Anon,
"My response was simply that creativeness was a part of God's character."

You're claiming that it's not important whether god is creative by nature or not as to whether god is perfect? A perfect creature could be creative or not creative - it doesn't matter?

Why would god feel creative? What does a perfect being lack that makes it create things? Why would a completely fulfilled being ever decide to create things? Why would a perfect being create imperfection? Why would an omni-benevolent being create evil? None of this makes any sense. A perfect being would have no need to create anything - as you point out - and so would not do it.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"You're claiming that it's not important whether god is creative by nature or not as to whether god is perfect? A perfect creature could be creative or not creative - it doesn't matter?"

I'm claiming that God created because He is creative, not because He needed to create to fulfill something within Himself. All God's attributes were fully expressed in the eternal triune relationship. God didn't need to create us to be creative, but because He is creative we were made.

"Why would god feel creative?"

Because He is creative.

"What does a perfect being lack that makes it create things?"

Nothing. There was no void the creation of mankind filled. I beleive God is self-sufficient.

"Why would a completely fulfilled being ever decide to create things?"

Desire perhaps in it's purest form? Desire for the sake of desire without self-indulging motives... Of course I don't know for sure but if I ever ask Him I will let you know if I am able.

"Why would a perfect being create imperfection?"

Now to the POE? I feel like this is moving the goalposts a bit beyond a general motive behind creation and to specific questioning of why things that were made were made as they are... I'm not writing a book, not here... at least not tonight.

"A perfect being would have no need to create anything - as you point out - and so would not do it."

As if necessity is the only driving force in perfection. You don't need to spend time with your kids (in terms of fulfillment of yourself) and yet a perfect person would do so. A perfect God doesn't need to create other beings in order to fulfill anything within Himself, however a perfect being may desire to create other creatures to know Him and to share in relationship with Him for themselves. I don't see how this thwarts perfection...

Tigerboy said...

"You don't need to spend time with your kids (in terms of fulfillment of yourself) and yet a perfect person would do so."

One needn't spend time with one's kids?
What world do you live in?

There are no perfect people.

Spending time with one's kids is not a sign of perfection. It's a sign of not being a dick.

GCT said...

Anon,
You seem to not understand the idea of perfection.

"I'm claiming that God created because He is creative, not because He needed to create to fulfill something within Himself."

And being creative must be part of being perfect. There's only one way to be perfect.

"Nothing. There was no void the creation of mankind filled. I beleive God is self-sufficient."

Exactly, which is why it would be weird for god to create us. You even touch on that when you claim that he desired to have us around. Why would a perfect being have desires? Desires indicate a lack of something, which a perfect being can not have.

"Desire perhaps in it's purest form? Desire for the sake of desire without self-indulging motives..."

Why would a self-sufficient being ever desire anything at all? This is what doesn't make sense.

"Now to the POE?"

Nope, not even going there and it is not moving the goalposts. It seems a contradiction for a perfect being to create imperfection. You do admit that this world contains imperfection, do you not? Why would such a being create imperfection (note, not the same as evil)?

"As if necessity is the only driving force in perfection."

Actually, it kind of is. In order to be perfect, god must necessarily only do perfect things, think perfect things, be perfection at all times. So, if god created us for a purpose, then was he perfect before creating us or is he perfect now or is he perfect once the purpose is fulfilled? Either way you answer there's some time span where god is not perfect. There's only one way to be perfect, which is the problem with perfection - it must be one and only one way.

Tyler said...

Anon: ("Why would god feel creative?")

Because He is creative.


Nah, that's not juvenile at all. Erudite to the core, this one.

lulz...

Tigerboy said...

GCT, I think you called it just right.

Anon does not have the ability to think in terms of these absolutes. He/she doesn't really grasp absolute ideas like "perfection" and "eternity."

(A perfect person would spend time with their kids, even though it's not necessary . . . Jesus!)

I admit, absolutes can be difficult to grasp. But, that is precisely why we would have no relationship to an Omni-Max! (were such a being to exist)

We cannot truly understand what it is to be infinite, and Omni-Max would have no reason to create us, notice us, or give a shit what we do.

We would be less than fruit flies to such a being. We'd be less than amebas. One doesn't feel love and benevolence for amebas. One doesn't seek a loving relationship with amebas.

The little amebas with the crosses around their necks are awfully arrogant for thinking that such an infinitely huge being would notice them, much less love them.

Just to be REALLY CLEAR, for Anon, who has trouble with these ideas, my talking about God as a possibility, in this context, is called:

PRESENTING A HYPOTHETICAL.

I'm not saying I believe in God. I'm not moving any "goalposts." My position, throughout this thread, has not changed in any way.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"Nope, not even going there and it is not moving the goalposts. It seems a contradiction for a perfect being to create imperfection."

If not in reference to the POE, then why is the imperfection you refer to a problem?

For example... if I wanted to create the perfect ice cream scoop, while that tool would be perfectly created to suit the purpose I had in mind, the ice cream scoop itself need not be perfect in every way. So if you tried to screw in screws with the ice cream scoop you would say it were imperfect in that it were not up to the task, and yet it was perfectly created for the task it was intended for.

Apply throughout all of creation...

"And being creative must be part of being perfect. There's only one way to be perfect."

Good point. So then I suppose that creativity, being a characteristic possessed by the Perfect Being, would always be part of what constitutes a Perfect Being. God is creative so this isn't a problem.

"You even touch on that when you claim that he desired to have us around."

A being without needs would be free to choose what to desire. Being in a perfect state of perpetual balance this Being, and this Being along, could make a truly impartial decision to desire something. Maybe desire is too confusing... does it help you understand if I leave it at choice? God chose to create because He chose to do so. We are finite and so are motivated by needs and the voids which exist within us, an infinate being need not operate the same way we do... in fact They don't claim to.

Sorry for my confusion about the POE but you followed up the question I originally quoted with one regarding evil... here are both questions as they were originally written:

"Why would a perfect being create imperfection? Why would an omni-benevolent being create evil?"

Seemed like the POE... apologies if you really aren't moving the goalposts. Tigerboy, however, has tried to move from PRESENTING THE HYPOTHETICAL which I originally responded to (in which God is presupposed to exist) to PRESENTING A NEW HYPOTHETICAL (in which God is presupposed to not exist).

Either way, inherent trait, part of the definition of perfection... God did not have to create US (or the world) in order to be perfect... He could have expressed His creativity in any number of ways or in creating any infinate possible things and still would maintain full creativity. There is no static robitic requirement which you desire to impress upon perfection.

In perfection God could choose any infinate amount of things and ways to express creativity which would be equally perfect to the purpose each was designed to fulfill.

GCT said...

Anon,
"If not in reference to the POE, then why is the imperfection you refer to a problem?"

Because it's a contradiction for a perfect being to create imperfections.

"Apply throughout all of creation..."

So, are you implying that the universe is perfect in all ways? This is a rather lofty claim that rather easy to shoot down. Not all hydrogen molecules have the same properties, therefore if there is a perfect H molecule, the others are not. Apply throughout all of the universe.

"So then I suppose that creativity, being a characteristic possessed by the Perfect Being, would always be part of what constitutes a Perfect Being. God is creative so this isn't a problem."

But a perfect being has no need for creativity or creating. Why would a perfect being need to be creative in order to be perfect?

"A being without needs would be free to choose what to desire."

No. A being without needs is without desire. Desire denotes a lack of something.

"God chose to create because He chose to do so."

Yet, it must have been the perfect choice, must it not have? Perfection requires that the "choices" made be perfect, thus paring down all potential choices into the perfect one at all times. god no longer has a choice, and you have to assert that god had to create us in order to be perfect.

"Seemed like the POE... apologies if you really aren't moving the goalposts."

It's still about imperfection vs. perfection and contradictions in terms. It's not about POE, but about your assertions that god does imperfect things in order to be perfect.

"Either way, inherent trait, part of the definition of perfection... God did not have to create US (or the world) in order to be perfect..."

This is incorrect if you are correct that god is perfect and must be creative as I explained above.

"There is no static robitic requirement which you desire to impress upon perfection."

Actually, there is, and that's the whole point of perfect in everything. If it is perfect to create X instead of Y, then god must create X, end of story. Sorry, but it's the logical conclusion of your own theology. To assert else is contradictory.

Tigerboy said...

Exactly right.

This is why perfection is a prison.

Being omniscient means that Omni-Max already knows exactly how every project will turn out. What is the point of the project?

Tic-Tac-Toe.

The entire universe must play out exactly as He already knows that it will. He can do no different, or He wasn't omniscient . . . at the start . . . before the choice.

All must happen exactly as He already knows that it will. Omni-Stagnation. Perfect Prison.

His choices cannot be choices, as they must be exactly what perfection and foreseen omniscience demand.

If God makes unforeseen choices, he must be changing, growing into a being that has chosen something different.

If God changes, He didn't start out perfect.

One cannot be eternally perfect and make changes.

"Eternal Perfection" and "Change" are mutually exclusive concepts.

Anon:

I'm sorry you don't understand what "hypothesis" means. Check out Merriam-Webster.

ethinethin said...

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Christians comment on non-theist/atheist blogs simply to reinforce their own beliefs through exercised rationalization. It just seems like it has more to do with preserving their own beliefs than spreading the gospel (which, according to some, should be the primary goal of Christians).

Anonymous,

In your objections and claims here, I see word games and circular reasoning. I know you're not trying to reach out to me with the gospel message, but perhaps you should consider that by appearing so foolish and dishonest, you are pushing people further away from accepting Christianity. I sincerely wish you could read your own words from the perspective of an outsider. Alas.

ethinethin said...

GCT,

Is there any way you could restore the "Recent Comments" updates to the main page? I believe they became disabled when the name of the blog was changed.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"So, are you implying that the universe is perfect in all ways?"

No, I'm implying the universe is perfectly suited to its intended purpose. If the original purpose was to allow the possibility of disobedience, then imperfection was part of the perfect plan. The universe we have was perfectly created to suit the intended purpose.


"This is incorrect if you are correct that god is perfect and must be creative as I explained above."

That creativity need not be expressed through our creation. It could have been expressed throughout all eternity in any number of other ways.

Some have speculated our ideas of eternality are skewed by our time-imprisoned perspectives. They believe that since God exists outside of time He experiences all of time simultaneously. Therefore there would never have been a moment, from God's perspective, when we hadn't been created.

"If it is perfect to create X instead of Y, then god must create X, end of story."

The freedom comes in determining what your purpose is. We only know what God has done so much as it affects us. I think I can agree with you though that there was only one way through which God could accomplish His purpose, however that doesn't dictate His purpose from the outset.

We are driven by our desires which motivate us to fulfill our needs and fill the voids within our lives. While this is all we know from our experience, I don't believe it follows that a perfect being need operate in the same way.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

"So, are you implying that the universe is perfect in all ways?"

No, I'm implying the universe is perfectly suited to its intended purpose. If the original purpose was to allow the possibility of disobedience, then imperfection was part of the perfect plan. The universe we have was perfectly created to suit the intended purpose.


"This is incorrect if you are correct that god is perfect and must be creative as I explained above."

That creativity need not be expressed through our creation. It could have been expressed throughout all eternity in any number of other ways.

Some have speculated our ideas of eternality are skewed by our time-imprisoned perspectives. They believe that since God exists outside of time He experiences all of time simultaneously. Therefore there would never have been a moment, from God's perspective, when we hadn't been created.

"If it is perfect to create X instead of Y, then god must create X, end of story."

The freedom comes in determining what your purpose is. We only know what God has done so much as it affects us. I think I can agree with you though that there was only one way through which God could accomplish His purpose, however that doesn't dictate His purpose from the outset.

We are driven by our desires which motivate us to fulfill our needs and fill the voids within our lives. While this is all we know from our experience, I don't believe it follows that a perfect being need operate in the same way.

Tyler said...

Anon: ... imperfection was part of the perfect plan.

As Mr. Zappa used to say, Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuw...

GCT said...

Ethin,
I'm not having issues with the recent comments list. Are you still having issues?

Is anyone else having issues?

GCT said...

Anon,
Is there some reason you have to leave the same comment twice all the time?

"No, I'm implying the universe is perfectly suited to its intended purpose."

So, a perfect god relies and even plans on attaining a perfect result through imperfection? And that makes sense how?

"That creativity need not be expressed through our creation. It could have been expressed throughout all eternity in any number of other ways."

Sorry, but there's only one way to be perfect.

"Therefore there would never have been a moment, from God's perspective, when we hadn't been created."

Actually, this would be correct...and leads to other issues, but doesn't clear up the issues with god creating imperfection and having plans that are imperfect, etc.

"The freedom comes in determining what your purpose is."

This has nothing to do with what we are discussing. What I "choose" for myself has nothing to do with whether god is perfect or not. Of course free choice can't exist if god really is omni-max and perfect, but that's for another time.

"I think I can agree with you though that there was only one way through which God could accomplish His purpose, however that doesn't dictate His purpose from the outset."

This directly contradicts what you tried to say above.

"We are driven by our desires which motivate us to fulfill our needs and fill the voids within our lives. While this is all we know from our experience, I don't believe it follows that a perfect being need operate in the same way."

Of course not, because a perfect being should have no voids, needs, etc. Yet, for some reason this perfect being had the need to create, and had the need to create beings that worship him. In fact, this being got so worked up over it that he threw numerous temper tantrums and has decided that he'll torture us for not following along with his plan. Sorry, but the Bible doesn't paint an aloof figure of a perfect god sitting up high, but a god that has emotions, just like us, and desires, just like us.

ethinethin said...

Yeah, the "recent comments" widget on the main page has been empty for me for about a month. It's made it difficult to follow comment threads. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

GCT:

I'm not sure why some of my comments post twice. More than likely an plbkac error.

A normal post requires me to type in the word verification, choose the anonymous bubble then press submit. About 1/2 the time it then puts up a second word verifycation (nothing under choose an identity) and I must submit a second time before I receive confirmation of the post. Half the time when this happens it only posts once, the other half it posts twice.

The first few times it gave me the second word verification I tried closing my browser and re-loading the page to see if it had saved my comments and my comments were not found. Sorry for the double postings.

GCT said...

Ethin,
What browser are you using?

Anon,
If you take too long to write your comment after opening the page, it changes the verification word without telling you about it. That's why you have to put it in twice. If you refresh the page before you enter your comment (copy it to repaste before you do) you should not have that issue.

Torie said...

God didn't create evil. Evil is a product of sin in this world. Also, I, being a Christian would like to say that not all Christians are hateful and bitter. I believe that all of the modern day Christians that act that way have taken God's word and twisted and warped it to fit to the standard of their living, which has been seriously tampered with by the devil.
I'm different. I can honestly say that I do love you and mean it. I see how Lesbians and Gays and Athiest and even people who are just unappealing to some Christians are treated and I hate it. It pains me to the point that I just want to love them more. One of my best friends is gay and gets chairs thrown at him in the cafeteria. I really love him a lot and it kills me.
I have taken time out of my day to scream at God and ask Him why? Why, when some of my great friends who are way more loving and way more caring than any of those "Christians" are(including me), why are they going to hell? I know that thoughts that go on in my head and some of them are wicked. I hate that about myself and I hate how people are treated like trifle pieces of nothing, sometimes even by me.
So why would God create such a terrible thing? It took the "secret pass code" for me to figure it out, but it came.(BTW all you have to do is chose to accept the Holy Spirit to get it, which is highly unlikely for a non believer to ask for, so I see your frustration) now to explain my first statement. This is humanities fault. We aren't robots... which is why you can choose to hate God... We made this world the way it is, but it really isn't this world that matters. Yes, people are starving in Africa. Blameless people who do no wrong. Why are they starving? because instead of getting off of their lazy butts to fix the problem, people sit around and complain about the fact that we have the problem. WE choose to sin. WE choose to disobey God. Why? temptations. we all have them... Gays and Lesbians say that they were born that way and many Christians disagree which results in oodles of statements like, "we were made in God's image" and "we were made by God just like straight people." It's true... you were... I know what you are thinking "What the heck??? Why is she agreeing?" Because it's true. God made us exactly how He wanted us. We were all born with temptations and Homosexuals just have a greater temptation for that than others. Just like pathological liars were born that way and so were murderers... do I personally think Homosexuality is wrong. Yes, but people were not meant to be condemned and Christians, or anyone else for that matter, have no right to judge someone according to what they believe. We weren't told to do that. That job is supposed to be set aside for Jesus Christ. He told us SPECIFICALLY!!!! to love. yep... thats it... not condemn, LOVE. I got that part of the Bible nice and clearly, so if you have any questions about that one... feel free to ask.
I have a feeling that, even though we are on opposing sides of the matter, we could be great friends and would really like to further get to know you... so if you want to e-mail me: tortor_92@hotmail.com... I'm sure u'll have so hate mail for me, but I opening to listen to opposing and non-opposing sides. :) I really hope that nothing I've said was offensive and I feel that you have every right to your opinion that I have to mine. Thanks for your site... I was doing a research report on the effects of Jesus Christ on today's community and needed to get the negative side prospective in as well.

GCT said...

Glad I could be of some help to you...perhaps my response will help you even further.

You claim god didn't create evil, but that's not what Isaiah claims, nor does it logically follow from the ideas of an omni-max god. Further, it doesn't follow from the rest of your post. You may want to reconsider your positions.

Also, I don't think I've ever said Xians are all hateful and bitter. I do state that the teachings of Xianity are hateful, however. That said, your claim to love others rings rather hollow when one reads the rest of your post, as do your claims to not be condemning people, quickly followed by condemnations.

I'm also going to object to your sentiments that everything that is wrong is the fault of humanity, while giving your omni-max god a free pass in all of this. Your god has the power and foreknowledge to avoid all manners of evil, to help us avoid them as well, and does not do so. This is negligence at best.

Your secret decoder ring is simply not effective. Most atheists in this country are former Xians and have tried very hard to "choose" to accept Jesus, god, etc. The real qualification, however, is to believe in Jesus, god, etc. which is not something that one simly chooses to do, which presents an additional problem for you.

Lastly, I will not email you as I prefer to keep these discussions in the open. Even if I were to email you, hatemail is not my style. If you would like to continue the discussion, these comment pages are always open and I can even open a thread for you if you wish to discuss a specific topic or want to debate further.