A bit from my debate opening tonight.

Hey guys.  I’m sitting here in Santa Cruz getting ready to go debate Peter Payne on whether or not ethics requires a foundation in god.  As always I’m putzing with my opening even up to the debate.  Here’s a bit I added that made me smile:

It makes absolutely no sense to call a god who conceived of cancer and which commanded genocides “benevolent”, even if it is asserted that such a god also told us not to steal.  If you redefine “benevolent” to include such a god, you have made the word all but meaningless.

I’m so tired.  Two straight months on the road is more tiring than I ever would have imagined.  Tomorrow I leave at 4:15am PST and arrive home at 11:38pm EST.  I’ll finally get some rest.  Don’t get me wrong: I love doing what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world…but I just want to sleep in my own bed.

And I want to spend some time reading and writing and my usual pace.  May will be the time for that.  :)  Wish me luck!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://www.godlessteens.com Godless Teen

    I’ve always wanted to do one of these kinds of debates. One day, perhaps. :/

  • Nate Frein

    How soon do you get a break? Are you going to schedule yourself this tight again?

  • Cyphern

    Speaking of debates, have the Baptist Student Union posted the video of that debate from a couple weeks ago? I’m looking forward to watching it. (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2013/04/quick-thought-on-the-magic-of-being-invested-in-what-you-do/)

  • invivoMark

    Rock it, dude!

  • Rain

    That’s why we need a new word for benevolent. Theists can keep their benevolent and then everyone else can use the new word that really means benevolent. That way we know when someone really means benevolent or if they mean the pretend benevolent.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ eric

    I have to think about these things more than most, but I’ve been making anti-theist arguments for a while so I’ve gotten good at it.

    However, my wife being more of an apatheist having been one of the lucky ones raised without religion (father Catholic, mother pagan, neither telling her anything), I was amazed and proud how quickly she came up with a rebuttle to the “need god for ethics/morality” thing without having spent lots of time on it as I have while she was arguing with her father on Easter about the Bible.

    “If you need the Bible to know that, you have some serious deficiencies in empathy.” Damn I love her.

  • BobaFuct

    After I made a similar statement to my mom (about God being good; not about wanting to sleep in my own bed), she retorted with something along the lines of “God didn’t create evil…if God exists then evil has to exist, because you can’t have an objective “good” without an objective “bad”. If we weren’t talking about the all-powerful creator of the universe, I’d be inclined to take her point (example: you can’t really have a proper understanding of “light” without knowing what “darkness” looks like….or maybe you can, philosophy isn’t my thing…makes sense to me though) Anyway, I said, “if god is literally endless and all-powerful and all-knowing, how can anything exist that is apart from him or not created by him?” What do you think she said? Yup, “We don’t have the capacity to fully understand god”. Vomit.

    • Glodson

      I am confused how an omnipotent being who allowed evil to exist so that lesser beings could call this omnipotent being “good” is an argument for a moral god. It sounds more like an argument that this god is a sociopath child who allows evil to exist so people will notice how good he is.

      Given a highly unusual definition of “good.”

      Sounds like we have the capacity to understand god, if this is the reasoning for allowing evil to exist. God is a narcissistic bastard who sees evil as a way to make sure we notice his “righteousness.” So long as we notice how good god is, evil is justified…

      • Jasper

        because you can’t have an objective “good” without an objective “bad”

        I’d say unsigned integers refute this concept. If we can’t know good without another datapoint to interpolate between, why can’t that other datapoint be “neutral”?

        We don’t need +1000 and -1000 for the scale. We can use +1000 and 0. Or better, we can have “good” and “less good”.

        My mother tried a line of reasoning on me that’s similar: “Evil exists, and since evil exists, good must exist. Therefore, God”, but this does not compute either.

        It could be that the world is basically neutral, except, there’s this one entity (like Loki), who is trying to mess things up… but since his capacity is extremely limited, he can’t do a whole lot. Therefore, there’s some evil, in an otherwise neutral universe.

        I find that theists don’t explore possibilities that much, otherwise, most of their “lines of reasoning” would be readily apparently bogus, even to themselves.

        • Jasper

          Reply fail

    • John H

      Those philosophers (light requires dark) are just flatly wrong. You’ve never experienced vacuum (else you almost certainly wouldn’t be commenting), yet you know what air is like – it’s the stuff we breathe, we can feel its resistance to things moving through it, we can feel its movement, we can feel its convective effects, etc. Positionality can strongly bias our perspectives, but rarely if ever does it truly blind us. Fish, were they sufficiently cognitive, could certainly describe water in the same way we can describe air (and could have even if we had never learned that vacuum was a possibility). What’s lacking isn’t the ability to perceive persistent features of our existence, it’s more that the prompting to consider them and not simply take them for granted is usually absent until we’re made aware of different possibilities.


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