# A Dozen Responses to the Transcendental Argument for God (2 of 3)

A Dozen Responses to the Transcendental Argument for God (2 of 3) December 4, 2013

What grounds the laws of logic and mathematics? We know that they work, but why? The Transcendental Argument (TAG) says that they exist because of and are sustained by God.

I introduced the argument and explored the first responses in Part 1. Let’s continue with more responses.

When we look at reality, we usually explain things in terms of more primitive laws or principles. But eventually, you come to the bottom. These elementary principles, which can’t be defined in terms of anything more fundamental, are called axioms. There aren’t many of these, but there are more than zero.

Apologists claim that they can do better than this—they rest everything on just “God did it.”

The first problem is that this is stated as a theological claim, not as evidence. Problem two is that they’ve simply replaced natural axioms with others that they prefer. There are still axioms at the bottom, so this is no improvement.

Like naturalists, apologists agree that you’ve got to stop somewhere; it’s just that their stopping point is based on nothing. It has no evidence to support it. Contrast that with the naturalists’ logical and mathematical axioms. Unlike God, these aren’t taken on faith. They’re tested continually. Why would we want to ground the one that is strongly confirmed with evidence (logic) with the one that isn’t (God)? Why demand something solid to hold up the fundamental axioms but then use faith to hold up God?

I’ll admit that “that’s just the way it is” isn’t completely satisfying, but “God did it” resolves nothing. The apologist won’t tell us why or how God exists; he just exists. This informs us as much as “fairies did it.” But if the Christian can have a fundamental assumption about reality (God), so can the naturalist (natural axioms).

Show me that the laws of logic are optional or different in an alternate universe. Otherwise, we can presume that the logic that we have is universal.

Let’s say instead that reality just has properties. Or: properties are a consequence of reality. A universe with zero axioms is a universe without properties. Could such a universe even exist? Is that what a godless universe would look like? I await the evidence.

(I wrote a related post about the parable of the mathematician and the theologian here. The moral: “God grounds the laws of mathematics and logic” solves no problem. It’s useless.)

7. TAG undercuts itself

Apologists jump into a TAG presentation using logic. At the end of their argument, they conclude that God exists.

But wait a minute—was that a valid argument? The apologists will certainly say so. But it was made using logic without an assumption of God! To be valid, “God exists” would have to be the conclusion, not an assumption.

The TAG proponents themselves argue that logic can be reliably used without an assumption of God.

(I believe that this is Timothy Pew’s argument.)

8. Logic needs a vessel, like a mind

One variant of TAG says that logic requires a vessel. Logic can’t be just free-floating truth but must reside in a mind. Before humans, logic must still have been in force, but what held it? God’s mind.

A popular variant of this is the argument that gravity is a ghost in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, chapter 3. Before humans, there was no mind to hold the law of gravity. It had no mass or energy. How much more nonexistent could it be?

The problem here is that gravity and the law of gravity aren’t the same thing. Before Newton, Newton’s Law of Gravity didn’t exist. But gravity did.

Similarly, you don’t need a mind for time to exist, but you do for “September” or “ten o’clock.”

And you don’t need a mind for logic to exist, but you do for the laws of logic. Gravity, time, and logic are properties of the universe, and no mind is required.

Continue with the conclusion in Part 3.

Atheism is the arrogant belief
that the entire Universe
was not created for our benefit.
— Michael Nugent

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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• Y. A. Warren

How about Alpha and Omega as the source of, and final receptacle for, all physical manifestations of energy in our known universe? This is one name used for what is called also “God” but it seems the least anthropomorphic.

• RichardSRussell

You’re missing the point, Y. A. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Just using a different label for something doesn’t change what it actually is. If you have a physical manifestation of energy, why not just call it “energy”? And, if you want a term for “the receptacle* for all energy”, why not call it “the Universe”?

––––––
*In this context, the term “receptacle” is a bit misleading, because it implies that something was received from elsewhere, which in turn implies that there is an “elsewhere”; the term “container” doesn’t impart that additional connotation.

• Y. A. Warren

The problem with the concept of an all-encompassing eternal energy doesn’t seem to be in the concept. but in what this concept is called and how the physical manifestations looks. I am simply attempting to find a more acceptable term and a more inclusive physical form.

I do call the final receptacle and manifestation of universal energy the universe. It seems to me that all matter is energy that metamorphoses in full circles, alpha to omega.

• RichardSRussell

I’m not sure what you think of as a “problem”. We can measure energy quite accurately, and we already have a widely accepted name for it. Why is “alpha” a “more acceptable term” than “energy”? It seems to me to be much more ambiguous, since it’s used for other things, such as “alpha dog” or the first letter of the phonetic alphabet. It seems to me that you’re creating more problems than you’re solving.

• Y. A. Warren

We have no way of measuring the beginning of universal energy. The pretense that some have measured and own the right to name this alpha (beginning) of energy is a problem for all who understand that we will never, in any living generation, understand everything on earth and beyond.

Energy continues to manifest in different forms. Alpha = Beginning. Beta = End.

• RichardSRussell

But the only one who’s pretending that we have measured it and found it worthy of the name “alpha” is you, and I have no idea who you think has ever made the claim that we understand everything or will any time soon, because I’ve sure never heard anyone say so (other than a sneering reference to a “know it all”, with a clear implication of unfounded arrogance).

In short, you are coming up with “solutions” to “problems” of your own invention that are perceived by nobody else.

Energy continues to manifest in different forms is a pablum-scale version of the law of conservation of energy, about which Wikipedia tells us “Ancient philosophers as far back as Thales of Miletus c.~550 BCE had inklings of the conservation of some underlying substance of which everything is made.”

BTW, if you really think “Beta = End”, you have a very short alphabet.

• Y. A. Warren

I’m sorry. I meant “Omega.” BTW, “In short, you are coming up with “solutions” to “problems” of your own invention that are perceived by nobody else.” How do you define “nobody else?” Spiritual questions (problems of definition) are some of the most pressing in human societies.

• Itarion

Nobody else on this board. We, for the most part, don’t care what word you use as long as it is defined in sufficient detail. If you want to use a non-connotative word, that’s your choice, but you need to define it. To me, “universal energy” is energy that comprises everything. The energy of the universe. You are composed of universal energy, as am I, and it is a real, physical manifestation that can be understood quantitatively and described mathematically.

In short, “universal energy” is the universe, minus spacetime. The contents, rather than the vessel, if you will. The origin of this energy can be traced. Measurements can be taken, and calculations made, that spit out the time that the universe began, and the universal energy was first able to exist.

The right to name? Perhaps not. But what will we call it? How can it be referenced by anyone if it cannot be named? You yourself name it, and you name it Alpha.

Do we understand everything? No, there is no such claim. Everything is a wildly chaotic system, and the incredible number of variables renders any prediction virtually useless. But when any something is understood, it is named to be referenced, and renamed when understood more fully.

Incomplete knowledge is not the same as complete ignorance.

• MNb

+1. This is a false dichotomy theists and spiritual thinkers are very fond of and the basic reason I don’t like the word truth very much.

For some reason I can’t reply to YAW above (I tried three times).
“How do you define “nobody else?””
Nobody in the community of physicists.

• Y. A. Warren

There is a problem outside the ivory towers of science, where most human beings live. Relationships are built with communication. Wars are fought over words. It is imperative that people of science and people of faith open paths to share information.

There are many people on earth who don’t understand complex subjects, like physics, and need hard and fast rules within which they feel comfortable living and protecting their families. These people are not all stupid; their brains may simply be wired somewhat differently than those of the physicists.

Science is energized by what is not known and challenged to seek the answers, even as the available information evolves (such as the exact age of the universe). The less scientific brains are often awed to the point of feeling frightened by what they can’t compare to anything in their physical experiences.

It is a great tragedy, to me, that the Roman Catholic Church decided to trade on fear in organizing civilizations around religion, and that the other religions based on the story of Abraham seem to have done the same. Fear closes the mind; whereas, awe can greatly expand it.

It is also a tragedy, to me, that so many scientists don’t attempt to find ways to instill awe in those who have never been challenged with thinking about great concepts, preferring to dismiss the “meat and potatoes” thinkers as stupid.

It seems that “god” was originally a term used to connote awe. Somehow, it was hijacked and diminished to look very much like an angry madman. While it is true that many still use the shorthand “God did it” for “I don’t know,” I believe it would be helpful in opening minds if science made some attempt to marry the languages of science with the languages of religion.

This may be the best way to rescue the awe in the universe from the despots and their dogma. It worked for the Roman Catholic Church to co-opt terms and include them in their own worldview. I think it could work for science, like in naming the “Higgs Boson” the “God” particle.

• Itarion

I would be all for opening lines of communication between religion and science, if it wasn’t clear to me that most any religious organization would merely co-opt the science in an attempt to prove God. Incidentally, communication is a problem within the “ivory towers” of science, too, a problem which must be addressed any time any scientific work is published. A theory or hypothesis that cannot be communicated cannot be shared, cannot gain traction and support. Everyone, everywhere, needs to be able to communicate at a great many levels, and being a scientist doesn’t remove this problem in the least.

True. But, that fault lies, I think, as much in the mind of the fearful as any communication issues. It is pointless to try to explain anything to anyone who does not wish to listen.

This touches on the key difference between what science does, and what religion does. Science looks to answer new questions. Religion tries to find new answers to, and new ways to answer, old questions.

What do you mean by “‘meat and potatoes’ thinkers”? If by this you mean philosophy, I would like to make sure that theological philosophy and apologetics be differentiated from secular philosophy. There are a whole lot of questions that don’t need god in them for a usable answer, and oftentimes an attempt to involve god just makes a generally less powerful argument.

marry the languages of science with the languages of religion.

No. Absolutely not. Science and religion are two fundamentally different ways of approaching the same and similar questions, and result in radically different ideas. If the religious want science, that is quite alright, but there is no reason to ask for science to have religion.

It worked for the Church because the Church wanted to control people, not find the root of the Universe. It won’t work for science, because science is generally uninterested in controlling people.

And, just so we’re clear:

It wasn’t even Lederman’s choice. “He wanted to refer to it as that ‘goddamn particle’ and his editor wouldn’t let him,” says Higgs.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/jun/30/higgs.boson.cern

• Y. A. Warren

What I mean by “meat and potatoes thinkers” is that there are people who don’t have the capacity to think outside of what the have experienced. These same people also seem to have a problem with expressions of awe, especially when it is outside of their worldview.

You are right that the church wanted to control people by pretending that they had the proprietary answers to the Alpha and the Omega of the Universe. They actually took the natural awe out of the spirit and replaced it with fear of their bogey-man god.

Jesus is quoted as saying that people have to have faith like that of a child. This is what I see in the eyes of scientists as the seek answers to the great mysteries in life, even though they know that ever answer leads to a new question.

What I see in so many scientists is little child wonder at the complexity of the Universe and absolute giddiness at finding a new path of adventure to follow. If this isn’t awe, I don’t know what is.

As you may have guessed by now, I am neither professional theologian nor scientist. I am a communicator. It is imperative to me that we change the language of the awesome mysteries of life to make it understandable for all kinds of minds.

There is a move on in today’s world to find common language for the spiritual (emotional) side of life. I’d like for the awe-filled scientists to not shy away from adding their awe to the conversation (in language that can be understood by even eight-year-olds, if you please). Remember Mr, Wizard and Alton Brown? They made/make science accessible and such a fun-filled adventure!

• Itarion

So… the layman. There are more than a few sciencish programs directed at attempting to explain, excitingly and simply, what science is and does. As a science minded individual, I love these shows like none other. Unfortunately, the popular shows are not these shows.

Exactly! Which is why I don’t want to mix religion and science. It’ll take the awe out of science, and replace it with some sort of fear.

Excitement is not a childish emotion. Maturity and emotion are not directly related, in my mind. Emotions are part of the basic nature of humans. Maturity is about how one deals with the emotions that they have. So yes, scientists get giddy, but they retain control over themselves in exploring what they are exploring.

Changing the language is all well and fine, but there is no reason to pull religious verbiage into a discussion of science. It can be understood better, I think, in simplified secular terms.

Alton Brown, Bill Nye, the kids at Zoom, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mr. Wizard, the Mythbusters… I love them all, but the broadcasting companies appear not to. I think a lot of the problem lies in a decline in the quality of the shows being played on what should be the “sciencey” channels. There has been a very real shift towards crackpots, pseudoscience, and reality tv on these channels, cause that’s what the people want. It’s quite a shame.

• Y. A. Warren

I absolutely agree that excitement is not childISH, but it is chldLIKE. These are two entirely different concepts. I also agree that the channeling of emotion is where maturity come in.

Children are taught that to show excitement makes then “babies” and “girls” There is much science in every popular show on television and in the movies. Use what already interests the children to open the door and create fun science curricula out of those things.

Science superheroes comes to mind.

• Religion tries to find new answers to, and
new ways to answer, old questions.

What’s the use in finding new answers? Perhaps you’re referring to more up-to-date answers in response to changes within society?

• Itarion

Nope. I meant what I said there. Think apologetics, I know you take issue with some of that.

I will say not all religion is that way, but it seems to me that the ones that like to try to mix science and religion are more often thus.

• RichardSRussell

Actual working scientists, including Peter Higgs himself, almost universally deplore the designation of the Higgs boson as “the God particle”, which was a sensationalistic term invented by a publisher to sell books and subsequently propagated by lazy journalists to rent eyeballs. It is telling that you fell for it, thinking that it represents some kind of advance in clarity of communication, when in fact it is the diametric opposite.

• Y. A. Warren

If it opened the eyes of even a few people about the physics behind creation of matter, I think it is worth the fantasy name.

• RichardSRussell

I bet you also thot that laetrile was a wonderful idea because it gave people (like Michael Landon) hope for curing their cancer, even tho it was totally worthless and belief in its efficacy was tragically misplaced.

Or that the economic debacle of 2008 was justified if “even a few people” made out like bandits because of it.

• It is also a tragedy, to me, that so many scientists don’t attempt to find ways to instill awe in those who have never been challenged with thinking about great concepts, preferring to dismiss the “meat and potatoes” thinkers as stupid.

I’m not following. It seems to me that we’re seeing more scientists now as popularizers—Sean Carroll in physics, Neil deGrasse-Tyson in cosmology, Dawkins in biology, to name just a few.

It seems that “god” was originally a term used to connote awe. Somehow, it was hijacked and diminished to look very much like an angry madman.

“Awe” in the Bronze Age doesn’t count for much to us in the scientific age.

And if we’re talking about the Christian god, you only have to read the OT to see that, yes, he was an angry madman.

I believe it would be helpful in opening minds if science made some attempt to marry the languages of science with the languages of religion.

I’m all for advancing science. What do you have in mind?

• Itarion

I’m all for advancing science. What do you have in mind?

Pooptons of money being sent to research institutions and scientific research government agencies.

• Y. A. Warren

What I have in mind is the age-old tool of sales people and politicians: great spin.

There are simple similes, not to be confused with the harmful metaphors that have been used in religion, to take the scary and seemingly sacrilegious out of the study of real science.

BTW, awe seems to simply be part of the mind of humanity.

• Itarion

Fine, add spin, [spin-up or spin-down?] but keep it science, PLEASE. Simplify and generalize, but don’t make it semi-religious. That doesn’t help anyone.

• Kodie

Wars are fought over territory and resources. Can you think of any other animal that has concerns like that?

• Y. A. Warren

All animals seem to share the same fears, but humans invent fears of deprivation to control other humans, and sometimes, their animals.

• Kodie

Ever seen a cat almost kill something for a while before it actually kills it?

• Kodie

Spiritual questions are some of the most distracting yet comforting questions in human societies. We are afforded by our intelligence and by luck the luxury to have spiritual questions and invented answers. I think it’s just weird that humans like to think we are more important or “the leader” of all the other animals because we can ponder a lot more unnecessary bullshit. And many of us think it’s a nagging problem that we better figure out or else.

• MNb

We have no way of measuring the beginning of anything for the simple reason that beginning is not a quantity of physics. Your comment doesn’t make any sense.
As far as our Universe (or Multiverse) goes we have some good ideas what the beginning was like (no need for a capital) and what the end will be like and which role energy played and plays. Just think of the Laws of Thermodynamics.

• Kodie

• MNb

Replacing terms for the same concept doesn’t make any god-argument any better as long as the meaning of the new term remains the same.
If you have a different meaning in mind you should describe it as precisely as possible (tentatively is not a problem though) and especially point out the differences with the old concept indicated with “god”. As long you don’t do that there can’t be a fruitful discussion.

• Kodie

Why Greek? How about “Everything that is, is all there is?” Why bring letters of a human alphabet hardly anyone uses into it? Unlike integers, alphabets are pretty abstract and arbitrarily ordered. And while we’re at it, that’s obvious.

• Y. A. Warren

Because what i see may not be what you see. It is all in perspective and perception.

• Kodie

So…. you see the Greek alphabet as a productive way to communicate that everything is everything? If you see something else that I don’t see, you’re not making it clearer, you’re actually turning it into the cliche “it’s all Greek to me” which means it’s the opposite of clearly communicated.

• MNb

You sure won’t mind that I get back to points 1 and 2 again.

“We know that they work, but why? … because of God. They exist and are sustained by God.”

God is perfect and true so anything that contradicts the laws of logic and math is wrong. Guess what? A core doctrine of all christian denominations does exactly that. Divine father + divine son + Holy Spirit = 1 god. In mathematical language: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.

Of course the apologist will counter with “but the Holy Trinity is theology, not logic and math.” Sure, but then logic and math aren’t universal and the apologist has to reject TAG.

Any christian apologist defending TAG and not reconverting is a hypocrite indeed.

@6: “There are still axioms at the bottom”

Worse – as soon as you look a bit closer you will see that there are more axioms. At that moment I call for the help of William of Ockham.

Since the last time I did some research on Russell’s barber paradox. It appears that the paradox can be avoided by changing the axioms of logic a bit. I don’t get how a perfect, eternal, absolutely true god could account for a change like that – just because we don’t like a paradox resulting from it.

@8: “But gravity did.”

Even that is debatable. Gravity is just an abstract concept describing a huge set of phenomena. It’s impossible to observe it directly; what we observe is change of form (eg when crumpling up a piece of paper), change of direction of movement and change of velocity. A valid conclusion is that gravity indeed only makes sense when a mind holds this concept – a human mind for instance. Note that the concept of gravity as formulated by Newton has been changed due to modern physics. That’s why physicists these days rather talk about interaction iso force.

So much for gravity being eternal and absolute. What we do assume to be eternal and absolute – as long as there isn’t any contradicting observation – is things falling downward iso upward (etc. etc.).

So this

“Before humans, logic must still have been in force”

is highly questionable. It’s an undecided debate in philosophy of math, but neither outcome requires a divine entity. Either you follow your line of thinking or you deny that concepts like logic, gravity etc. are absolute and eternal.

It’s the same as with every god-proof: apologists firmly refuse to investigate the assumptions they are based on. Still we know since Euclides or at least since Riemann that we should.

• “The problem here is that gravity and the law of gravity aren’t the same thing. Before Newton, Newton’s Law of Gravity didn’t exist. But gravity did.
Similarly, you don’t need a mind for time to exist, but you do for “September” or ‘ten o’clock’.”

This is the key to where the Transcendental argument collapses in a pile of stupid. Logic and mathematics are languages we use to describe and communicate things just the same as English, Cantonese and Swahili are languages. Rocks didn’t wait for the first human to come up with a word for ‘rock’ in order to spring into existence, they were there all along. Likewise the universe has pretty much always been around, doing its universy stuff. We just came along and invented ways to describe it.

• Likewise the universe has pretty much always been around, doing its
universy stuff. We just came along and invented ways to describe it.

But we also came up with ways to conceptualize the universe that makes it seem comprehensible to us, like empirical inquiry. The construct is as powerful and as limited as any other human invention, like logic or mathematics. I have no reason to doubt that the universe was here before there were humans to describe it. But let’s at least admit that the reason I say that is not that I know how reality is, but that I already affirm the validity of the human invention we use to describe it. The construct appears to work in many contexts, so we go with it.

• Very true, I never meant to imply that logic or math gave us perfect understanding of reality ( ‘perfect’, like ‘nothing’, being constructs of the human mind that have no analog in the actual universe).

• smrnda

I think we also sometimes come up with categories or ideas that definitely have a point of origin in history, but which people think of as some kind of Platonic Form which Exists Eternally.

As much as it’s part of the national rhetoric, I find the idea of ‘fundamental and inalienable rights’ to be rather strange. It’s great that we have freedom of speech, I want that, but where was this ‘right to free speech’ before there were human beings and language? Primitive hunter-gatherers likely had no concept of land ownership, since that emerges with agriculture and establishing cities, but plenty of people think of the ‘right to have property’ not as a social convention, but almost like some property of the universe.

• Nemo

Isn’t the Transcendental Argument what William Lane Craig uses when he says “but you can’t prove science/logic”? If so, then the whole thing ignores what science and logic are. Science isn’t just a set of facts: it is a tool. I can’t “prove” a screwdriver, but I can show you that it works, and how it works.

• So you’re saying that the successful use of science makes it self-validating?

• MNb

AfaIc yes.

• Nemo

Science, and the scientific method, bear fruits which help us understand the universe. The laws of gravity help us make predictions about the world. An understanding of plate tectonics, and the millions of years involved in it, helps us understand and thereby predict future earthquake patterns. By contrast, attributing earthquakes to pseudoscientific sources, such as saying God sends them because he’s mad at someone, doesn’t give us any method to predict and prevent future disasters. So, yeah, I guess I am saying that science validates itself.

• Nemo

Of course, that’s just what science is to me. If someone with an actual scientific background disagrees, well, I guess I’d have to defer to them. But science to me has always been more about being a tool than a set of knowledge.

• RichardSRussell

This reminds me of a linguistic quibble I have with some of my feminist friends who have adopted the party line that “rape isn’t about sex, it’s about violence”, as if the 2 are somehow mutually incompatible. To my mind, that PC assertion is no more accurate than saying that “robbery isn’t about money, it’s about violence”.

Same deal here. Science is about both content and process — both what it’s found and how it goes about finding it — not the false dichotomy of either one or the other.

• the rape quote should be “power” not “violence”.

doesn’t sound like you totally have a grasp on the whole situation. please try not to pull a dunning-kruger in that subject.

• RichardSRussell

I’ve heard it both ways. I’m not sure what your objection is to my pointing out that rape is about both sex and violence (or power, if you prefer) and not insisting that it can only be about one of them. It seems to me that that’s the viewpoint which is suffering from an incomplete assessment of the situation. But if you’d like to explain yourself, I’m willing to listen.

• Kodie

I may not have a grasp on it either, but I understand Richard. Seems to me rape can be both. Some rapists want sex and take it by power, while in the traditional phrase, express power through sexual violence (rather than with a knife or a gun, per se). How to hurt someone and show them you are in charge, i.e. rape them, vs. actually wanting the sex and taking it by force or manipulation. A rapist may actually have a weapon and use it to get to the sex just like a mugger will brandish a weapon to get your wallet and jewelry.

I.e., rape is often about sex, but in the context of using power to get it instead of consent and all the sober behaviors that may or may not lead to willingness and not being overly upset at rejection that one rapes anyway.

• Carol Lynn

A universe with zero axioms is a universe without properties. Could such a universe even exist? Is that what a godless universe would look like?

That sounds more like god-created universe to me. If a god created and holds the axioms of logic in place, there must have been a ‘time’ – concept used very loosely – when the universe was without axioms. Do they really worry that the god will decide to eliminate the axioms or change them randomly? Are they trying to get us to believe that that the axioms are stabile only because some set of worshippers provide him with sufficient sacrifices to keep him happy or that he keeps them the same on divine whim? And they want me to take that seriously? In a god-created universe we’d always have to worry that any day we could wake up to find the basic underpinnings of the universe are different and, oh, frozen water now sinks instead of floating.

If god did make the axioms of logic and they are fluid to god, why isn’t it an inherent property of god to make a rock heavier than a god can lift and at the same time be able to lift that rock? If that isn’t happening, then the laws of logic are more basic than a god is. I suppose it can be imagined that god is out there simultaneously lifting/not lifting infinitely heavy rocks (gotta build up those divine muscles somehow, the better to do some godly smiting) and that somehow that does not impinge on reality but that sounds more like they’ve got an immature person boasting about doing something then saying, “I could do that if I wanted to but I don’t want to right now.” They not only expect me to believe it but they’d worship that? Twisted.

• Itarion

Actually, a god created universe would still have one axiom from its very beginning: the god that created it. And so yes, the god that created the universe could then go around changing the rest of the axioms that it made, though we creatures bound within these axioms would, presumably, not notice.

and also, god would be bound by the axioms willingly while within the universe he has created, or else risk destroying the universe, but outside the universe he is more than welcome to violate any and all laws of the universe.

• Carol Lynn

You wake up every day and wonder if the axioms of the universe have stayed the same overnight? Unless you think that god would also wipe out and recreate our memories differently – why would god do that? So much for that vaunted free will argument! – of course we’d remember if ice floated yesterday and not today or if we could be and not be ourselves at the same time! Why would god be “willingly” bound by the axioms? Just because they never have changed, you think we can attribute WILL to them? I think a god worthy of the name could no more be bound by what he created than I am bound to never rearrange the furniture in my office or decide to let the dog in or out of it, even though I can move in and out of the room freely. You are tossing assumption on assumption – now it’s that god can’t/won’t change his mind about what god already created (presumably because the meat sacks he likes best give him enough yummy blood and/or worship?) and what god does outside the universe has no effect on what happens inside the universe. You are simply asserting that, too, with no evidence.

• Itarion

You wake up every day and wonder if the axioms of the universe have stayed the same overnight?

No.

Unless you think that god would also wipe out and recreate our memories differently – why would god do that?

He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t have to. The change would seem to be entirely natural. Not noticed might be the wrong phrase. In the context of a universe with changing axioms, any change in axioms is perfectly natural, because there would be an axiom along the lines of “axioms are mutable.” In our universe, we have an axiom, “the fundamental rules of the universe are immutable.” In a different universe, this might not be so.

So much for that vaunted free will argument! – of course we’d remember if ice floated yesterday and not today or if we could be and not be ourselves at the same time!

What’s free will got to do with this? And I misspoke, I meant that the axioms changing would seem natural to people used to having the axioms change.

Why would god be “willingly” bound by the axioms?

He would be willingly bound because by breaking the rules within the universe would break the universe. Even the government is bound by the rules that it creates, within the country it creates them in. [In theory, at least.] If he were to break the rules of the universe he was temporarily inhabiting, then he would destroy that universe.

Just because they never have changed, you think we can attribute WILL to them?

I’m not attributing will to the axioms. The will is attributed to the godfigure. He would consent to be bound by his rules while inside the universe [that’s important: not always, just while inside] so as not to risk destroying his work accidentally.

I think a god worthy of the name could no more be bound by what he created than I am bound to never rearrange the furniture in my office or decide to let the dog in or out of it, even though I can move in and out of the room freely.

You are misinterpreting what I have said. In keeping with your analogy, however: You, regardless of where you place your couch, chairs, and tables, sit upon the couch and chairs, and eat at the tables. You can move them about, but still follow what they are. In much the same way, a god could change the axioms of his universe, but not while using them, and cannot use them for things other than their intended purpose.

You are tossing assumption on assumption – now it’s that god can’t/won’t change his mind about what god already created (presumably because the meat sacks he likes best give him enough yummy blood and/or worship?) and what god does outside the universe has no effect on what happens inside the universe. You are simply asserting that, too, with no evidence.

Would you like for me to begin every sentence with, “I think” “I would imaging” “It would seem to me” “I suppose” “I’m betting” etc, etc, etc? This is all ungrounded philosophizing, and OF COURSE its mutable and non-evidenced. The basic assertion that there is a god/this is a godded universe has no evidence. This is fun for me, and so I do it. I don’t believe any of what I have said in the previous post, because that would presuppose that I believe in a god, which I don’t.

• Carol Lynn

And so yes, the god that created the universe could then go around changing the rest of the axioms that it made, though we creatures bound within these axioms would, presumably, not notice.

and

The change would seem to be entirely natural. Not noticed might be the wrong phrase. In the context of a universe with changing axioms, any change in axioms is perfectly natural,

I don’t care if it’s “natural” for any particular universe or not. I would certainly notice if the laws of nature changed ad ice sank instead of floating or gravity stopped working. Not being aware at all of the changes could only happen if the god changed all my memories of how things used to be. That’s where the ‘free will’ bit comes in – if god can arbitrarily change my memories to conform to how he thinks the universe should work today so all I remember is it always working the way it does at any particular instant, I don’t have any free will at all. The free will to believe or not believe in god is pretty basic to the god concept – especially the Christian one.

In much the same way, a god could change the axioms of his universe, but not while using them, and cannot use them for things other than their intended purpose.

Why not? This is GOD who can both lift and not be able to lift an infinitely heavy rock at the same time. Constraining him to not be able to change a universe he is using is surely a failure of imagination on your part. Heck, even I can sit on desk and change it’s purpose in my office even while it holds my computer and I am typing.

• Itarion

I would certainly notice if the laws of nature changed ad ice sank instead of floating or gravity stopped working.

Yes, I realize “not notice” is a poor choice of wording. Please lay off that. That is fairly insignificant to the argument that I structured. My argument is concerned with the differences on the large scale between a godless and godded universe.

Moreover, the free will you call so very critical is a gift of your god. An axiom of the universe, if you will. Even though this was given, it isn’t permanent, because God is bound by only himself. Job 1:21 “The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.”

To the point:
A god should not be bound by axioms of a universe.
This would be because said god would transcend the universe (s)he created. As you said, you are free to move the furniture in your office, so to can God rearrange his axioms.

A god must follow the rules of his universe while inside it. The axioms are what bind the universe together. I am not saying that there is no way for a god to do some thoroughly miraculous things, despite being bound by the laws of his universe. That, indeed, would be a failure of imagination. Instead, think of a universe as a bit of software. As far as I know, it isn’t possible to edit software while using it. That’s why you have to close all programs running it when you update to a new version. So, while a god runs his program, i mean, inhabits his universe, he can’t go in and edit the code.

• Carol Lynn

No, no, no, no, no. You are limiting god! God cannot be limited, even by the axioms of the universe because, by the goddist logic, ONLY god has the ability, the will, and the power to define the universe and keep it going. God can do whatever god wants. All these logical rules you want to apply, like “god can’t change something while he’s using it,” are making him conform to the secondary axioms he magicked into existence and uses his will to keep going. If god is constrained to not being able to change something while he is using it, then something is more basic than god – and he is not the uncaused cause (or whatever name it’s going by these days.) God does not have to follow ANY rules. If god had to follow rules, any rules, then the rules would be more basic than god. There can be no expectation of consistency or constancy in a god-based universe. None at all. Which is the point of all those sacrifices and worshipping, I suppose. Once you get to saying, “the universe is constant because god loves us and wants things to be for our benefit,” you’ve already lost the argument.

• Itarion

All these logical rules you want to apply, like “god can’t change something while he’s using it,” are making him conform to the secondary axioms he magicked into existence and uses his will to keep going.

You know what? You’re absolutely right.

• Carol Lynn

I am? That does not happen very often. Thanks!

• MNb

Yup. I needed to read your comments as one and reread the first (the one I commented to above) to get what you mean but you’re absolutely right indeed. If a god is constrained by the laws of logic and math he/she/it can’t have grounded them. I need to think your argument over a bit. That will take time as I’m a pretty slow thinker. But I feel you have turned TAG upside down – it rather disproves god than argues for it.
My compliment.

• Itarion

Something like this:

God transcends both knowledge and logic.

Because knowledge and logic are transcended by god, neither can prove his existence.
Because his existence cannot be proven, he cannot exist.

• Itarion

the universe is constant because god loves us and wants things to be for our benefit

I don’t think I said that, though. I thought of it more as a error in writing into the code and using the code at the same time. But yes, that is limiting said god, which would only be possible if he himself applied the limits.

• Carol Lynn

Ah, Right. You didn’t say that, but that’s the only reason I can think of for why goddists expect to have the logical rules remain constant. Because god is luuurve. That’s certainly wishful thinking on their part.

• JohnH2

The Gnostics thought that Sophia proceeds God. Sophia being of course wisdom (and the goddess of wisdom).

Given the hoops that are needed to have God be moral and also morality then I don’t see why you think this would be any different. The standard response is that God’s nature is one of logic and that therefore God can will anything that is logical and can not will anything illogical as to will illogic would be to go against His nature.

My faith is closer to Gnosticism in this regards, there are things that are just as basic as God.

• Carol Lynn

Then your god isn’t omnipotent and Jesus can, er… um… beat up your god. (no real beatings implied.) Are you just anthropomorphizing and no real/actual/existing goddess is needed to make the laws or keep them working?

• JohnH2

I am not sure what the Gnostics generally believed about that, whether Sophia was an actual existing goddess or what. My faiths position is that there are quite a lot of things that are co-eternal with God and therefore nothing is needed to, or even can, make those things.

Jesus created everything that was created, and the creating that He did is the same creating as what one would do when, for a concrete example, one digs a well, being the ordering and organizing of preexisting stuff into a particular form. He has all power to do all that He will’s to do that can logically be done which makes Him Omnipotent, with disagreement as to what logically is possible to be done. An illogical view of god that allows for God to affirm or deny a=a isn’t worth discussing as if a!=a then that god is not God.

There is of course a Goddess in my faith, we just don’t know nearly anything about Her.

• Carol Lynn

An illogical view of god that allows for God to affirm or deny a=a isn’t worth discussing as if a!=a then that god is not God.

Why? Why isn’t it worth discussing? Because the concept that maybe the universe does not need god to be orderly makes you uncomfortable? You are using your conclusion as an axiom: “I won’t discuss it unless I can start by assuming that there is a God that created/is composed of the rules of the universe.” You’ve gone down to pretty meaningless semantics. What is the difference between a god made of logic who can’t bend the logical rules to suit itself and the rules of logic being the basis of the universe with no god/God necessary? Other than, you know, wishful thinking on how satisfying it would be to be able to say “God cares about me.”

Besides theists constantly beseech God to vary the rules of the universe in their favor. Why do they bother if by the very nature of God the rules are fixed anyway and even God by his nature is not able to change them no matter how many sheep they throw on the barbie so the yummy scent of burning blood and bones can appease God or how many mystical flesh crackers they dip in wine/blood and eat in God’s name or how worshipful, prayerful, and careful to follow God’s rules they are?

• JohnH2

No, I am perfectly fine with with discussing universes that don’t have a God and my understanding and belief in God doesn’t involve God composing the most basic rules of the universe (which I already covered). Nor do I believe in a God that is logic itself, I am just more familiar with the standard Christian response to this subject then you apparently are and so was pointing out that response.

I believe I also pointed out that there are many things that are co-eternal with God, meaning they do not depend on God and God is not necessary for their existence, though God would be necessary for their structure and order.

Maybe I was just horribly bad about expressing what I was saying, I don’t know. When I say the standard way in reference to Christianity please be aware that my faith is anything but standard and I am expressing a view which I am familiar with through reading and interaction but not a view I hold or have ever held.

The rules of physics are quite well fixed but man is still able to fly, to pause, cease, or even change the direction of the flow of rivers, communicate across vast distances, move mountains, sometimes make the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and even occasionally bring those technically dead back to life. All that and not one violation of the laws of nature, why should God be expected to be any different?

You apparently missed what I was saying though, if god were able to make it so that a is not a then directly by substitution of a with god that becomes god is not god.

• Carol Lynn

I know and understand that argument well. I just don’t agree with it. Unfortunately, I have some Real Life™ to attend to for the rest of the day and don’t have the time to respond at greater length right now. Later.

• No, no, no, no, no. You are limiting god!

A guy like God has lots of limitations. Think of forgiveness. He could do what you and I do, just forgive. So when humans are imperfect (y’know, like he made them), he could just forgive them. Or figure that forgiving something for being what it is is ridiculous and not even bother.

But no, his hands are tied. He needs a human sacrifice.

I’m sure you can sympathize. We’ve all been there. Rules are rules, and when you need a human sacrifice, whaddya gonna do?

• Carol Lynn

But they are not inherent limitations of god: god is omnipotent, omnibenveloent, and omni-everything else we can think of and probably some we can’t. God is just being a asshat about how he interacts with his creations. That’s a choice, not an inherent inability.

• Itarion

Depends on the way in which you define god. I mean, there’s the omnipotent, omnipresent, omnithoughtful, omnitemporal, omni[insert aspect here] fellow. He’s unlimited.

Then there’s the others: think Zeus and the like. They still exceed man such that they are gods, but they have limits. They can be injured, they can be bested, they can lose. But they control basic aspects of the world.

Although, come to think of it, the pantheons amount to universe or world axioms [of varying power and priority] incarnate.

• Carol Lynn

But the universe wasn’t created by Zeus. He’s at least two sets of ‘god’ removed from the creation.

The Greeks thought that before creation was chaos, out of which spontaneously generated order. “Order” predates all the Greek Pantheon gods.

• Itarion

Right. So Chaos would be the omni-everything “entity” from which the world was born.

Any thoughts on why everything leads back to some sort of omnigod?

• Carol Lynn

I don’t think the Greek chaos was omni-anything except maybe omnipresent. It just was, and then it wasn’t the only thing around, and those other things were already subject to the laws of order. The first three that emerged out of Chaos were Gaea (the world), Tartarus (the underworld), and Eros (love) and none of those was omni-anything in the Christian sense of a god being omni-.

• In the Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Babylonian, Jewish, etc.) view, chaos was an occasional threat. Yes, the world was created out of chaos (often the very body of the chaos monster), but I don’t think they even speculated about a time before the gods.

• avalpert

Because human imagination is limited?

• Itarion

Well… What would you set as a god? Assuming you would set one.

• avalpert

John Lennon

• Itarion

• avalpert

But how can he be both omnibenevolent and an asshat – they seem mutually exclusive.

• it isn’t possible to edit software while using it.

Well, not really. This is getting off topic, I realize, but just for fun, I’ll add a couple of thoughts.

LISP was one of the first programming languages, and it manipulates data structures. It can also execute those data structures–that is, create a program on the fly and then execute it.

I’d imagine that HTML would be similar. I might go to a web site and, based on a search or ads or my preferences, the site would create a customized page, on the fly, that it had never before created, just for me.

• Itarion

I don’t know enough about comp sci, but as far as I know, editing of one program cannot be done while that program is being executed.

It’s like trying to use and sharpen a pencil at the same time, or drive a car that’s being built, or live in a house under construction. It doesn’t work well.

• For compiled languages, the code is fixed, but not for interpreted languages (like LISP).

Chronologically, of course, a single-thread LISP program will first be creating the code and second will be executing it–they won’t be happening at the same time.

But I don’t think computer science is really the topic here.

• MNb

Fine, but then he defies the very same logic he is supposed to have grounded. Doesn’t make sense to me.

• Itarion

Well, it’s quite simple… in a convoluted and complex sort of way.

See, it’s like this. God made logic. If you were to make a pot, would you then be constrained by that pot? That is, would that pot have power to control or restrict your actions? In the same manner, God is not constrained by his pot, which we have named logic.

• Actually, a god created universe would still have one axiom from its very beginning: the god that created it

Am I unclear on what the term axiom means?

I thought it was a statement or concept that’s so self-evident it doesn’t need to be supported, like a=a. But the way you use it, it just seems to mean something you think you resent being questioned, even if it’s something as complicated and laden with assumptions as a Big Powerful Creator Being.

• JohnH2

axiom is a base statement that defines the system of which it is a part. Math and Philosophy have moved on from the prior view of axioms being self-evidently true, axioms may be and the axiom of identity comes closest to meeting that prior view of axiom. Other suggested “true” axioms such as existence exists or induction (from experience) are more debatable, you really can’t do much without assuming both that existence exists and induction (from experience) but there are multiple religions and a few philosophers that have held that existence doesn’t exist and induction has been one of the more hotly contested ideas since the time of Socrates until now.

The axiom of choice is not self-evidently true, nor is the continuum hypothesis, and so forth. Russell showed problems with the prior view of axioms and Godel destroyed it.

In the case of physics one can take the basic laws from which all else is derived as being axiomatic in nature. So like energy is conserved, etc.

• MNb

Actually energy conservation is derived from another axiom (ie symmetry) but your point still stands. Perhaps a better example is the speed of light being an absolute maximum, the axiom that founded Relativity. In my life I have had too much fun explaining this axiom to lay(wo)men and watch them dropping their jaws to call it self-evident.

• And then add that c (this universal speed limit) is the speed of light in a vacuum. It has other speeds in other media. Indeed, it slows down more than neutrinos, which don’t much care what they’re going through.

• Itarion

In common usage, that’s what it is, but in mathematics and logic, axiom is the basis for the definitions of all else. Axioms of the universe would be fundamental structures that allow everything else to exist.

Thus, a godded universe would have to have one axiom: the god. Without the god, said universe would not exist.

• Axioms of the universe would be fundamental structures that allow everything else to exist.

Thus, a godded universe would have to have one axiom: the god. Without the god, said universe would not exist.

And as I already said, the reason an axiom doesn’t require support isn’t because you think no one should question the concept, but because the concept is so self-evident it shouldn’t require proof.

I question whether the creator-god is so self-evident, or whether the concept is simply so vast and problematic you don’t feel like explaining why it should be accepted as a given.

• avalpert

An axiom need not be self evident. For example, you can build a geometry based on the axiom of exactly one non-intersecting line between a line and any point not on the line or you can build one based on the axiom there an infinite number of non-intersecting lines between a line and any point not on the line.

Both are perfectly valid as axioms, neither are self-evident and the resulting geometries are not consistent.

• Itarion

Ooh, hyperbolic space. I like the way you think.

• Still, this is a poor analog to what we’re talking about.

Sure, let’s say that the axiom isn’t self-evident. Nevertheless, when experts in that field see it, they understand that it’s a valid axiom. Maybe it takes a while, but every single one will eventually agree (assuming the new axiom is valid).

In the case of God as an axiom, very well educated people disagree over what God(s)’ properties are and even whether or not there is a supernatural at all.

• avalpert

I think you are missing my point – these axioms are contradictory, they cannot both be used at the same but it is perfectly valid to use one or the other depending on the system of geometry you want to use.

Any axiom can be a valid axiom, the question isn’t whether the axiom is valid as an axiom the question is whether there is any reason to make the axiom and rather the resulting system is useful.

It may turn out that God is a valid axiom for providing societal stability – I personally don’t believe it will but once we finally rid ourselves of religion we may find out we were wrong. That won’t make it a description of some underlying reality, but it could still be a valid axiom.

• I don’t see how this addresses my point. I’m saying “God exists” is not an axiom like a non-self-evidence mathematical or physics axiom, since the latter will be fairly quickly be accepted (or rejected) by all qualified practitioners.

Not so with “God exists.”

• avalpert

I’m not sure why speed of acceptance would matter – I’m sure we can find axioms in physics or even math that took quite long to be accepted and may have initially been rejected by most qualified practitioners.

Ultimately, I think your line of reasoning here is unconvincing and isn’t the best reason to not operate with the axiom that God exists. The lack of evidence, lack of explanatory power it provides, lack of advancement it has provided in our knowledge and consistent overturning of previous conclusions that were drawn from said axiom seems a much stronger avenue of attack.

• I’m not sure why speed of acceptance would matter

?? Some axioms within math and physics would take a while, as you note. A few months, a few years, maybe a little longer.

It don’t work that way with religion. For religion, it’s
never.

Conclusion: comparing “God exists” with math/science axioms doesn’t work. It’s a flawed analogy.

• Itarion

A universe that was created by a god requires that a god existed to create it.

A universe that was created by a god could not be created if there was not a god to create it.

Is this not clearly self-evident? If not, explain.

• Is this not clearly self-evident?

Now it’s just a simple tautology, because you’re defining your universe as something that requires a god to exist.

I’m done playing this game now.

• Itarion

Now it’s just a simple tautology, because you’re defining your universe as something that requires a god to exist.

YES. That’s exactly what I’m doing. With the purpose of then exploring what would differentiate that universe from the currently accepted model of our universe.

What did you think I was doing?

• JohnH2

Once one starts getting into assumed timelessness then before and after can become tricky. Could a god transcend a universe and then in that state of timeless transcendence create the very universe that it transcended from? Also, as believed in various religions, the creation of a universe could involve the death of the god that creates it such that the god no longer exists after the point of creation.

I am likewise dealing purely in hypothetical here.

• Itarion

I am likewise dealing purely in hypothetical here.

Good, I can really let loose. I’m glad you’re here, I’ve had fun talking with you before.

Could a god transcend a universe and then in that state of timeless transcendence create the very universe that it transcended from?

Yes. As a matter of fact, this is a fairly important facet of a webcomic – now completed – in which the main enemy was a powerful wizard, got trapped in a tiny pocket universe, which happened to be the very beginning of the universe he was from, and his actions directly caused the start of the universe. [Though not precisely as he planned.] So, not only could it hypothetically happen, it actually hypothetically did happen. 8bit theatre. That arc begins here.

Also, as believed in various religions, the creation of a universe could involve the death of the god that creates it such that the god no longer exists after the point of creation.

Hmm… I think that that’s just sloppy godding.

Incidentally, I think that it would also be possible for a god to create a universe from which the god is unable to escape. Like this:
First, build a universe. Then, apply these rules in order:
God cannot exit this universe.
God cannot edit this universe from within it.

See? trapped.

• JohnH2

I was actually thinking of Bad Wolf from Doctor Who; it is essentially a god that creates itself, however temporarily.

“I think that that’s just sloppy godding.”

Well, see the younger gods managed to destroy the sun which made the elder gods upset so the younger gods had to figure out to fix it or face a huge smack down so they had this bright idea that immolating one of their members and using the ashes to create the earth would solve the problem, except two of them ended up immolating themselves so the second one got smacked with a rabbit so as to not have two suns anymore, they also apparently ended up doing it wrong and so needed periodic human sacrifices to keep the sun from going out again.

The god wouldn’t be able to exit the universe but it seem it could bootstrap another entity to exit the universe and then edit it. I can’t remember the name or author, I want to say Asimov, but there was a scifi short story where the deity only saved certain individuals who it thought would be helpful in either killing itself or allowing it to commit suicide (which would be one way of exiting the universe).

• Itarion

I know that one! The Last Answer, by Asimov, yes.

• A universe that was created by a god could not be created if there was not a god to create it.

Why? Suppose our universe was completely natural, but God nevertheless exists. He could look at this slowly evolving universe and, instead of his usual evening Sudoku, he assigns himself this little project to clone this universe. And so he does.

One universe created by God, and one created naturally. Both identical.

• Itarion

Well, identical, except in one respect. The one that was born naturally was born naturally. The one that was created by God was created by God. If there wasn’t a God, the one created by God wouldn’t exist, regardless of the fact that it was otherwise identical in all other respects to a natural universe.

I’m confused as to why this is a different situation.

• Are we splitting hairs here?

Yes, if a universe wasn’t created by God, then it wasn’t created by God. I get it. I’m simply saying that a God-created universe might well be identical to what nature would’ve created.

• Kodie

It’s like saying I could build a house and it is the house I made, and you could build an identical house in a world where I don’t even exist. If it’s my house, I exist, and if it’s your house, it could be the same except that I don’t exist.

• Kodie

I could believe in a god that has nothing to do with the universe. I think that would be the very definition of a god if I were writing it up. To be alive, so much to deal with. An unavoidable encounter with the universe – this part of it. A god-like existence is one that never has to put up with the hassles of living. For example, if you want to live remotely, on your own terms, it takes a lot of preparation and you can’t go without interacting with the public. Even if you are a hermit, you need groceries and supplies delivered, or you have to hunt and make it yourself (go the Richard Proenneke route – and he wasn’t a permanent resident of the wilderness). To be a god would be to have a permanent vacation from the chores and obligations. Even rich people have obligations of their time that they’d probably rather not have to endure to get to the benefits.

My definition of a god would have to be something that may have never created all the universe at all, just some being that has the luxury of leisure time without all the traffic and people occasionally intruding. I don’t know what the extrovert god would look like. I’m sure he could entertain himself with guests of his choosing, and they always leave before making themselves unwelcome. I’m not sure why so many people think god enjoys their company, since I don’t.

• MNb

“the reason an axiom doesn’t require support (is) …. because the concept is so self-evident it shouldn’t require proof.”
Due to modern science this is very tricky. Some of the axioms Einstein’s Relativity and Quantum Mechanics rest upon aren’t self-evident at all. So in our days the approach is different. We try to formulate those axioms which result in a consistent and coherent system that says something meaningful about the reality we live in.
That the god-axiom lives up to this standard is highly questionable. In my immodest opinion apologists do a quite lousy job in this respect.

• jonch

So you’re saying even a godded universe has basic axioms? Huh. So even if there is a god, his very existence is predefined. By whom? A superior being? A super-god? That would make the former not god. Holy crap

• JohnH2

In this case the god would be able to predefine his state within a universe at the time of creation from a transcendent state, whether the god is predefined within that transcendent state is a different question. So a god can define the basic axioms of the universe which it is creating, with one of those axioms being by necessity that the god exist(ed) to create that universe (as otherwise that universe would not exist).

As to whether there needs to be a super-god to define the state of a god generally the standard procedure is to assert that the necessary prerequisites for God’s existence are a part of God’s nature. Which would mean that God is of course bound by His nature and not able to determine some of His own actions or His own nature. As I pointed out elsewhere, that isn’t the only answer that has been given as the Gnostics posited a different thing Sophia which proceeds God and my faith holds that there are things co-eternal with God.

I see no problem then with positing a hypothetical super-god, I mean Cantor posited an infinitude of greater infinities and God is the Infinite, so the question is whether that is countable or uncountable or what. One would have to determine the relation between a super-god and a further restricted universe. For instance, say that it does turn out to be possible to create a fully simulated universe on a computer and that universe contains intelligent life, clearly the creator(s) of that programmed universe would be (in a sense at least) gods to that universe, but would any God or gods of our universe also be gods of that universe?

To move the hypothetical to a fairly unique reading of Revelation 1:5-6:

“Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and
the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”

So is it referring to the Father of God, ie. a super-God? Obviously, that is not the way it is usually understood, but my faith can understand it that way.

• So is it referring to the Father of God, ie. a super-God?

I hadn’t heard that. Is this a standard Mormon interpretation of this verse or a John-specific interpretation?

And on a slightly different topic, you have unusual ideas about Sophia and so on. What is the reaction within your church community to this? Are they easy going or strict about personal deviations from the straight and narrow like this one?

• JohnH2

With Sophia, I am just referencing the Gnostic stuff I have read, not what I actually believe on the subject, I thought that was clear as I state what my faith holds on the subject of things being co-eternal with God.

Check the Sermon on the Grove (which I linked to) or the King Follett Discourse for info on the plurality of gods and such. It is fairly standard, but sort of irrelevant as there is no direct relation to us.

• Itarion

You’re constraining your notion of existing to existing within a universe. An entity outside of time, a god, would have no beginning because there was no time before god. Without time, something either is, or is not. For a godded universe, god is, and thus the universe is, or god is not, and thus the universe is not.

I think.

• Kodie

The god who violates logic is the god we’re waiting to see proven exists. Miracles are not miracles if they could have happened statistically. It’s really hard to recognize a supernatural being’s part in affecting anything because he can’t violate the laws of nature or intervene in any natural reactions enough to detect. Atheists just see the world as it would be, I mean, how else would it be? That’s the question. If it could be another way, how would it be? If something weird happens, we tend to look for the rational explanation, while theists tend to behave like they just won a lottery or something. It’s ego. There is “no way” such-and-such could have happened without a divine intervention because the odds are just too low!

For instance, this type of claim is pretty much the leading argument for evidence of god for people on the internet that I get into arguments with. Some fortuitous coincidence of proximity and time felt “meaningful” and “without explanation”. In all testimony, the incident was a thing that could happen, plus another thing that could happen, combined with the person or a near relative having two incidents or CO-incedents occur near them or another person close to them. A thing that cannot actually happen is the usual definition of a miracle, while a thing that can happen plus another thing that can happen will occasionally happen at the same time and place near a person who will report it to someone else. If god is arranging all these incidences, it seems more likely that his aim is really bad. If the combination of two sort of unlikely but possible things could be fatal but missed the witness, it is a “miracle” because the person was spared from something that went terribly surprising when two possible incidents happened at the same time and place near them.

What we are actually waiting for is god to violate the laws of nature – for something to happen that cannot happen. And if it happens, it can happen. That’s kind of a problem.

• Itarion

Well, perhaps, but even a god that flagrantly violated statistics, while still following the laws of the universe would still be noticed.

For example, it is technically possible that all of the atoms of a given object would spontaneously jump to another place, since they are probabilistic wavefunctions, rather than true points. It’s the “they’re probably here” thing. The probability that they all spontaneously moving in the same direction, at the same time, across the same distance is infinitesmally small, so they don’t. A god would be able to take this improbability, and tell it to happen, and to hell with the unlikelyhood, and it doesn’t break any of the laws of the universe. It only doesn’t happen because it’s so gosh darned unlikely.

• Kodie

I think if you investigate a situation like that, you would quickly get to the “what caused it to happen” question. Name any other incident that is unlikely to happen and follow the “what caused it to happen” questions. I mean, most people’s definition of miracle is a rock that should have crushed them missed them by inches. What caused the rock to fall? Did god push it? I don’t know anything about your atom thing but I accept that it’s unlikely. If god pushed it, would he be discovered or would it just be some wild goose chase to solve this mysterious event?

I told this story a while ago, maybe on another blog… I ended up with this sponge in my kitchen sink. Ordinary green on one side yellow on the other. But I did not buy that sponge, and I never used that sponge. I use different sponges to wash my dishes. But it was in my sink. The first thing I did was look up, like there would be a hole in my ceiling. This is not the kind of mystery you look too hard for an answer, since “free new sponge”, but it was bizarre, so I did. I worked it back to a cause – I had had pneumonia and was hospitalized; my parents came up to see me and tried to clean up my apartment, and had bought some cleaning supplies for me. After they left, I was recovering and ignored their cleaning supplies and one day, probably months later moved some things, and then move these things to the sink, and then one day, moved them out of the sink, but that’s not when the sponge appeared. I went to the kitchen for a drink and saw this sponge just hanging out in my sink.

If you want to alternately posit that atoms of a sponge leapt from somewhere else in the world to my sink one day, and that it’s unlikely but possible, work back to the cause. Solid objects like that do not move without a carrier. You could get some scientists in a lab to work on this atom “beaming” but it’s not going to spontaneously occur in my apartment.

• Itarion

I mean, most people’s definition of miracle is a rock that should have crushed them missed them by inches.

I would file this under chance. If, however, said rock instead passed through one harmlessly, and in fact passes through everyone harmlessly who prays just before impact, that’s a little bit different. (Most of an object being empty space, this is possible except for electrostatic forces.) The “what caused it to happen” could very well be god, if god was around in the universe at the time. The scenario with the prayers causing rocks to miss would be something that would make me think twice.

The probabilistic effects of quantum mechanics begin to settle out to a null sum at a large enough scale, i.e. everyday scale objects. It would be a confusing world indeed if that didn’t happen.

• Kodie

I would also file it under chance. The thing is, most people’s threshold for “miracle” requiring supernatural intervention is an instance that occurred proximally and temporally “too close to be mere chance”. You are saying that something could actually happen that wouldn’t ordinarily happen, but just because it could, that would still not require god, because scientifically, it is held to be possible.

We are talking about a one-second-later reaction and smush vs. atoms beamed me safely to another neighborhood at that exact moment, or smush.

Whenever people avoid an accident, they seem to have a story about “I don’t know why I suddenly hit the gas, but right then I did and it made all the difference”. I recently told another story where I was driving one afternoon in extremely heavy rain started coming down. I decided to wait it out in the next driveway I came to, when suddenly the car ahead of me sped up suddenly. A heavy branch came off a tree and landed on my car.

For one, I would like to know what the driver of the car ahead of me had for thoughts about avoiding the branch falling on his car by a sudden speed-up. For another, “luckily” the branch didn’t break the windshield. And luckily, there was that next driveway, so I turned into it. And for some reason, I got out of my car (while I had recently become aware of the high chance of heavy tree branches falling), and ran to the nearest house. And luckily, the person who lived there let me come in and … I was dry in my car, but I got wet having left my car…. let me dry off and call my mom, ’cause I lived with my mom at the time.

So, as far as most religious people’s idea of a miracle was a series of chances. A branch fell on my car=bad. No windshield damage or injury to myself=good. Friendly neighbor=good.

But I still think why did the car ahead of me suddenly speed up and avoid being hit by that branch, and if they were aware what had missed them by a spur decision, how they would recall the incident (if they were even aware of it). Did they hear the branch cracking and react? I didn’t. Buckets of rain kind of makes it hard to hear anything else. If someone is aware of their nearness to an incident like that, they usually attribute it to intervention on the part of a deity on their behalf. They take it as a message meant for them personally. God spared them and hit the other schmuck, who also by the grace of god was spared injury and major damage to their vehicle.

It’s these stupid instances of chance timing that people call miracles. I don’t know if they think the wrath of god was meant for them, or meant to stun them into submission in some way, or branches just fall but god instigates the person to “react” to an event seconds before it occurs so that they avoid it.

But give me an instance of quantum mechanics’ surprising effects on beings of earth that would also not be a miracle, and entirely plausible under the rules of reality we have studied.

I think this argument (TAG) supports that god made everything and thus is in control of it all, similar to if you were playing with action figures and made up where they go and what happens to them, or a movie screenplay, only the actors don’t know they’re in a movie, i.e., the things that I think and the things that come out of my mouth and such are an illusion of my own free will, but actually I am a puppet, and branches that fall due to heavy rain on my car are actually part of the plot of my life.

Theists seem to have more than one way of explaining it, and none of the time does it seem to have anything to do with things that can’t (generally) happen. 100% of the time, it is things that happen to them or guidance they believe is giving them signs to make a choice. They will all say we have free will but that seems mostly to the choices to worship god or to live a life of pleasure and sin, ignoring god. When it comes to “who really pushed the gas pedal to get me out of danger,” they will not say they had free will, but that it was intervention and did not have free will to ignore the urge to hit the gas at the precise moment.

And altogether, this ignores mortality rates for auto accidents, and statistics for other things. Theists I have interacted with would generally acknowledge all the deaths as a way to measure how they should have also died but didn’t. They don’t ignore fatalities, it’s just an over-inflated sense of how fatal something could have been if there were one minor change in proximity or timing. On the scale of things, we’re all avoiding a lot of fatal accidents every day on the incidences that are just farther apart. Some of them will be closer, and some will be so close as to cause death. I once talked to someone on a blog who had a list of reasons for believing in god, and one of them was a ladder falling inches away. A freaking ladder almost fell on them, and that’s just too freaky, so god must have spared this person – this is what we’re dealing with.

• Itarion

Right. If I followed that correctly, then you are saying that most “miracles” are not miracles as some god acting so spare a life, but some person surviving by luck and the skin of their teeth. I agree with that.

I was attempting to illustrate what could be a miracle [or at least what I would classify as a miracle] that wouldn’t technically violate any sort of physical laws [as far as I know]. Rather, the situation is that the chances are impossible within the amount of time given. I don’t have any equations or math on the subject, but I am given to understand that the chances of a significant number of atoms, perhaps a fist sized rock, aligning and doing the same thing is so unlikely that for there to be noticeable odds – similar to odds of winning the lottery – the amount of time required would be orders of magnitude beyond the age of the universe. [Stuff gets more probable as more time passes.] And that’s some rock. Any rock. Go to Your rock, and your back into insignificant numbers again.

That is why I would classify such extreme violations of probability as miraculous, even if they are not technically impossible by known laws of physics/the universe.

• Kind of off topic, but you mentioned a rock missing you by inches. If you haven’t seen the Taiwanese landslide video, it’s pretty cool.

• Good point. Sounds like the Mayan or Aztec gods, where you continually have to sacrifice people to keep the universe on an even keel.

If god did make the axioms of logic and they are fluid to god, why isn’t it an inherent property of god to make a rock heavier than a god can lift and at the same time be able to lift that rock?

Sounds good to me. The Trinity says that God is three and one at
the same time. If the drawbridge of your mind is open for that, a lot of crazy stuff can come in as well.

• smrnda

I agree. If there existed some god or gods with supernatural powers, either they just wound the thing up and let it run, or else we’d expect to see little regularity.

• UWIR

This is a prime example of the conjunction fallacy. Also, what does “exist because of” mean? Doesn’t it mean that there is some logical connection between God’s existence and logic’s existence? Something like, the existence of logic logically follows from the existence of God? But if there is some logical requirement for God to exist for logic to exist, that doesn’t make sense. After all, a logical requirement exists only if logic exists. If logic doesn’t exist, then the logical requirement that logic have an explanation doesn’t exist, and therefore there is no impediment to logic existing without God.

The idea of arguing about the cause of logic is absurd, since argument requires logic. To say that God is required for logic is to say that in a Godless universe, logic does not exist. But the statement that logic does not exist is incoherent; if logic does not exist, then there is no contradiction between “logic does not exist” and “logic exists”, so it’s still possible for logic to exist.

• Itarion

But if it’s possible for logic to exist, then it does, and so logic logically can’t not exist. Logic doesn’t exist because of something else; because logic could potentially exist, it automatically has to.

• RowanVT

Does it? Potentially, my computer could develop sapience and and limbs and run away from me, so is it automatically going to?

I hope I’m misreading you, because you sentence is similar to that whole line of argument of “God could potentially exist, therefore he does. The end.

• I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it’s probably the most facile statement I’ve ever seen typed on the Internet yesterday.

• Itarion

You can either contribute meaningfully, or shut up.

Ask questions and make statements about my argument, rather than calling it stupid and being done.

• You can either contribute meaningfully, or shut up.

Take your own advice, dude. If you make facile statements like if it’s possible for logic to exist, then it does, and so logic logically can’t not exist, don’t be surprised when people point and laugh.

• Itarion

I’m not surprised at all. Merely irritated that you will attack a half-developed thought on the basis that it seems ridiculous. A ridiculous nature does not preclude something from being true.

I don’t know, or intend to pretend to know, whether what I said was right. However, I find it to be an intriguing, if very odd, thought, and think that it should be thought about.

• A ridiculous nature does not preclude something from being true.

Um, well, it’s not a great sign of something being true either. I can think of plenty of ridiculous things that don’t deserve our attention. Is there any reason to believe that you make ridiculous tautologies into worthwhile concepts just by typing them?

• Itarion

Not particularly, unless you’re into tautologies, which you’re clearly not.

Is there any reason to insult ridiculous tautologies, rather than just ignore them?

• There’s no reason to put them out there in lieu of real discussion either, or pretend to be hurt when someone points out what a waste of bandwidth they are.

But hey, it’s your shell game. Play on.

• Itarion

I think I will, thank you.

• JohnH2

“lieu of real discussion either”

Are you offering to defend the transcendental argument for God? Otherwise, the discussion seems real and relevant enough to the topic, I mean sure it is has very little to no actual relevance to the way anyone conducts their everyday life, but neither does the transcendental argument.

• “If you fail to plan … you plan to fail.”

The Sphinx (in the movie Mystery Men) proved that any such antimetabole is always true.

There ya go.

• Itarion

But the question remains, does that make the tautology interesting?

I think that the implications of the tautology or antimetabole [I learned a new word today!] are much more important.

• Itarion

Not quite. Within logical frames, something’s nonexistence precludes its existence, and vice versa. It either does or does not exist, and this includes God.

The existence of logic is a little bit different. The non-existence of logic does not preclude the existence of logic, because it non-exists in a non-logical frame.

In a non-logical frame, the inverse of an idea does not negate the idea, so an apple, for example, could both exist and not exist.

But again, logic is different from this. Logic existing (L+) negates logic not existing (L-), because it is in a logical frame, but L- does not negate L+, because in a non-logical frame, opposites are capable of both existing.

Given this, a non-logical frame will eventually generate logic, and thus become a logical frame, which precludes the non-existence of logic.

• duke_of_omnium

Number 8, “Logic needs a vessel, like a mind” also commits a reification fallacy. Only “things” need to be held in vessels or elsewhere; not principles.

While we’re on the subject, the statement also reifies mind, in saying that it can be a vessel in the first place.

• You could be right, but let’s pursue this. “Chocolate tastes great” is a true statement in my mind. If my mind were gone, it might exist in someone else’s mind. But take away all minds, and this statement is meaningless.

Isn’t the vessel analogy useful in this case?

• Y. A. Warren

There are those who don’t like, or can’t process, chocolate.

• Agreed. Nevertheless, in the vessel of my mind, “Chocolate tastes great” is a true statement.

• Y. A. Warren

Thus the argument for both passionately believed perceptions of atheism and religion, as long as neither claims the only avenue to truth…

As humans, we all have personal perception.

• Religion does indeed claim to be a valid avenue to truth, just like science. I’m not seeing much reason to believe that claim, however.

You’ve read my map of world religions argument?

• Y. A. Warren

I haven’t, but I will. Thanks for the link.

• Kodie

Most statements like “chocolate tastes great” are meaningless to humans. Take any animal and its apparent favorite food and ask yourself if you agree.

• “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” – 2 Peter.

• “Blessed are the Scripturebots, for they shall be called the red-headed stepchildren of God.” – Matthew 5:10

• There is a real Matthew 5:10, and here it is: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

• Pedantic and humorless. What a fascinating combination. Do you live alone?

• I have come to the conclusion – not hardened yet, but in formation – that the only way to get through to stiff-necked and stubborn atheists is to let God do the talking.

Maybe you can tell me something – why would someone who does not believe in God spend a second, even a moment, on a board devoted to issues about faith?

I ask honestly, not seeking a fight. I really have no idea what the appeal could be.

• Pofarmer

Because so much is defined(wrongly) by those who DO believe. Call it a virus, a delusion, whatever you like.

• The Christian faith has never been shown to be a virus or a delusion, and I have not been diagnosed with either.

I am here to challenge nonbelievers to see the world a little differently.

• Pofarmer

And I would challenge believers to see the world as it is.

• And I would ask how anyone —believer or nonbeliever— knows whether they “see the world as it is.”

Sorry to piss on the certainty parade.

• Pofarmer

Well, I think that depends on the definition of “The world as it is.” I dunno. I see a world with Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindu’s and Confucians and Pagans and Animists and Wiccans and…….every one of them thinks they are right. What are the chances of that? I see a world in which believers think they can “pray to the saints” and that their prayers will definitely be answered, just maybe not today. I see a world where a certain large cohort of believers sees the world being made 6000 years ago in 6 days, and firmly believes it. I see a world in which a firm cadre of believers is sure that their holy book contains prophecy about the future. I see a world in which a religion who believes that the males will get there own planets to rule in the after life is gaining membership. I see a world in which genital mutilation of both males and females is seen to be pleasing to God. I see a world where Christians believe that humans sacrifice is the most sanctifying “gift” that could be given for god. I see a world in which believers deny scientific evidence when it contradicts their holy book. I see a world in which those who don’t believe a certain way are still being tortured and executed for their lack of belief. These are just some of the things that I see in the world “as it is.” It’s just a list, but it ought to make one think.

• These are just some of the things that I see in the world “as it is.”

I’m not going to dispute that religion has fostered some nutty ideas in humanity. But that appears to be a problem with Homo Sap that transcends the influence of religion.

Don’t many people in the industrialized West believe they have a good enough chance of winning the lottery to spend their hard-earned cash on it? Aren’t there plenty of people who believe that JFK was assassinated by a vast conspiracy, and that the Bush Administration engineered the 9/11 attacks? Isn’t the opinion that vaccination hurts children a distressingly common belief? None of these are religious beliefs in and of themselves, but they’re held with the tenacity of religious beliefs because of the way they pander to people’s hopes and fears.

I’ve long felt that the belief that science operates somewhere in the ether, away from political or economic interests, and constitutes an organic, objective search for truth is a pretty nutty belief. And the opinion (common on these boards) that reason and logic are exclusive to nonbelievers is a myth I think deserves debunking, regardless of how hard people like radicalrevelation work to confirm it.

• Pofarmer

“I’ve long felt that the belief that science operates somewhere in the ether, away from political or economic interests, and constitutes an organic, objective search for truth is a pretty nutty belief.”

Who is saying that? I think the common thought is that Science is, inevitably, a search for what is verifiable and testable and useful as a way to explain the world around us. Beliefs that are “false” get tossed aside as better explanations become available. Religion generally has no such function and that’s where the problem lies.

“And the opinion (common on these boards) that reason and logic are exclusive to nonbelievers is a myth I think deserves debunking, regardless of how hard people like radicalrevelation work to confirm it.”

What I tend to see is that people can be logical and reasonable( lot’s of engineers are Christians) but that when it comes to religion they are willing to believe almost anything. We can compartmentalize things pretty efficiently if it doesn’t affect another part of our life.

• You’ve added some powerful examples to Pofarmer’s list. Sounds like we’re all on the same page that the human mind is eager to follow some nutty stuff without justification. But you’re saying that religion is on the right side of this issue?

• The Christian faith has never been shown to be…

The burden of proof is yours. You need to show that the Christian faith is true or historical or whatever it is that you claim about it.

• Not all the people you’re communicating with here are atheists, BTW.

• why would someone who does not believe in God spend a second, even a moment, on a board devoted to issues about faith?

Because of the harm done by religion. If religious belief had no more detrimental an effect on society as boxers vs. briefs, I would find another hobby.

• The world you live in, and the freedoms you enjoy today, are the result of Christ. His teachings on equality, love, fairness, and nonviolence were revolutionary. I understand why so many people miss it – His spirit has become part of the air we breathe.

• Pofarmer

We owe our freedoms to men like this, you pompous

They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided
to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they
believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal
hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in
their opinion.

-Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile
to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting
his abuses in return for protection to his own.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17,
1814′

What a Frickin Maroon.

If you have something new to offer, that would be great.

• You are thinking far too recently. Go deeper, see the ancient world when Christ came. Not a pretty place.

Today, we slide again into barbarity and hate and fear – not because of Christ, but in denial of Him.

• Pofarmer

Oh please. We lived in Ignorance and fear for 10’s of thousands of years. At some times, like the 30 years war, over 50% of the population of some areas was wiped out due to religion. Did none of those sides believe in Christ enough? Barbarity and fear is the norm, not the exception, unfortunately

• Sorry – but a reading of history shows us periods where there was relative peace on earth. When Christ came, the Roman Empire was at peace. The Pax Romana.

• Pofarmer

The Pax Romana is considered from 27 B.C. to 180 A.D. and has nothing to do with Christ. As it preceded him for at least 30 years and would have lingered after him by over a century when Christianity was in it’s infancy with very few followers. And would rather ignore the Jewish Rebellion and destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. So, it’s kind of hard to know what “relative” would be. Even with that, though, all we know about is the Roman Empire, and that not all that much.

• Yes – thank you for digging out the dates. Now we can discuss how it has everything to do with Christ.

He came at the perfect time, a slim sliver of time in which communication through writing bloomed, there was a single body politic that allowed unhindered movement among most of the Western World, and the Church was planted, took root and grew in this environment. And, as you said, it did not last very long after Him. Just long enough.

• Pofarmer

Not very good at irony, I take it.

• You flatter yourself. As Judas said:

“If you’d come today you would have a reached a whole nation.
Israel in four B. C. had no mass communication.”

We have no record of Jesus from the historians of the time. No, he didn’t have much impact. Sorry.

• Hail Caesar! Jesus didn’t do bupkis.

• “Not a jot or tittle”–remember that? Jesus didn’t reject the barbarity in the Old Testament. He was down with the genocide, slavery, and racism.

Sounds like he was pretty much a product of his times.

• He was not a ‘product’ of His times, He was the producer of His times, as He prepared the world for His coming.

The nastiness you mention, that is the product of men, acknowledged as such by our Lord in his encounters with the Scribes and Pharisees.

• He prepared the world for His coming

That’s theology. As such, it’s unhelpful. What I’d like to see is evidence that your theology is correct.

• Bob – I think we arrive at you asking me to prove that you exist. OK, ok. Here it comes…

BOB–!

YOU EXIST!

–whew–

I think I’ll take a day off.

• MNb

No, not good enough. If I want to prove that BobS exists I’ll travel to his home, see him with my eyes and measure his physical quantities. Now how’s that going to play out with Jesus’ come back?

• I have no idea how Jesus would feel about that, but I think Bob might want a phone call before you stop by.

• Kodie

There is nothing in the suggestion that says we have to stalk Bob and sneak up on him to find out if he exists or not.

• MNb

“He was not a ‘product’ of His times.”

• WOW–! I had no idea Google has been around that long.

• Freedom of speech and religion, rule by the people instead of by royalty, democracy–now those are some radical ideas.

• I see scant evidence of this. Lots of the Bible is nonsensical or paradoxical or confusing, but I don’t see why his morality teachers were all that radical. You’re saying people had no idea what he was even talking about? Or are you simply saying that he had detractors?

• I did not know how to respond to this post, but now I do.

The Bible is everything you say. Which speaks to it being ‘true’ in the sense that those who wrote and compiled it believed it to be true — or they would have fixed it!

Can you name another book in all of human history that has had the effect the Bible has had while being exactly what you have said?

If you can, please do. I cannot promise I will read it, however. It sounds awful.

• MNb

“The Bible is everything you say.”
Where exactly did BobS say that?

• Hello MNb – in the post right above. Bob posted: “Lots of the Bible is nonsensical or paradoxical or confusing”

• MNb

Thanks for the clarification, I understood you wrongly.

• The Bible is a collection of many books made by authors who had different and sometimes incompatible views. It’s a collection of disparate views of God and Jesus. The natural explanation is sufficient to explain why it is the way it is.

• So, in other words, you don’t have one. Not even one?

The only collection of writings in the entire world that has had any effect on human history, that is basically a mess, is the Bible?

• What’s the question? Whether there are influential books that are contradictory?

I imagine all books are contradictory to some extent, but the Koran comes to mind as one example. It’s been pretty influential.

• You said, “Lots of the Bible is nonsensical or paradoxical or confusing,” not contradictory.

I don’t think many Muslims would take kindly if you spoke of the Qu’ran in that manner, and I doubt that you would be correct.

I think we are on to something. The premise is that the flaws of the Bible speak to its’ veracity – at least on behalf of the writers and compilers who held it as being so sacred that they dared not alter a word.

Will you accept that as being a true statement? That the writers and compilers of the Bible believed that what they were writing, compiling, scribing and reading was sacred text?

• I doubt that you would be correct.

So you’re saying that no part in the Koran is nonsensical, paradoxical, or confusing? Allah be praised!

the flaws of the Bible speak to its’ veracity – at least on behalf of the writers and compilers who held it as being so sacred that they dared not alter a word.

Yes, they dared not alter a word. That’s why the contradictory stuff remained. Do works or faith get you into heaven? Was Jesus crucified the day before the Passover meal or the day after? And so on.

That the writers and compilers of the Bible believed that what they were writing, compiling, scribing and reading was sacred text?

I can’t imagine that the epistle writers pretended that their letters were sacred. It’s even questionable for the gospel writers. The sacredness and canonicity came centuries later.

If the author of Matthew thought it was sacred, what about the dozens of other gnostic or Marcionite or other early Christian authors whose writings weren’t lucky enough to be canonized?

• We’re making progress. Let’s put my question aside.

I will accept your conclusion that the writers did not know or believe that they were writing sacred text at the time they were writing it – and to avoid real confusion, let’s say this applies to only the New Testament, and not include Revelation.

Agreed?

• Kodie

You don’t make as much sense as you clearly believe you do, and you’re not even funny. Who cares if the bible had an effect – it’s a piece of marketing – of course some people are going to be as gullible as you are, in fact, many people must be. That is no reason to call it the truth.

And furthermore, a lot of people seem to find something more convincing if a lot of other people believe it, even if it’s unbelievable. I think it is Christians’ 1st argument – “it’s so popular!”

• Kodie

That doesn’t really address what Bob said. Belief in a delusion (if it’s not a delusion, prove that it’s real, ok?) points people angrily in the wrong direction, a lot, and religion hurts people. It might not hurt the religious, but you can’t say it doesn’t hurt anyone else. God isn’t real, there is no deity to complain about, except hypothetically – the character “god” in the book is quite an asshole only humans could make up. But people believe he is real and do damage. You have no idea about these people? You have no idea why people might think they are deluded and fighting on behalf of something that doesn’t exist and has no effect on humans?

Part of your delusion is in thinking religion is a-ok, copacetic, whatever you want to call it. Having a religion, for starters, means you’re wrong. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t do anything wrong with that wrong, i.e. harm other people. “The freedoms you enjoy today are the result of Christ” is such a wrong statement, but it’s not even addressing the comment you were given to respond to.

Why don’t you be honest, if you even can, and admit you are just reading from a script? A script that you are gullible and uncritical enough to think makes sense. We are not amateurs. It goes like this: Christian makes some “just asking, just curious” comments about atheism, and then goes on to avoid responses to make baseless assertions and circular reasoning, such as it says in the bible there would be people like you, and that confirms my faith, and should turn your head – it’s such a smart read!

• I am sorry if I offended or upset you. That was not my intention.

There is no ‘script,’ here, Kodie. I came to God the hard way, with a giant slap-in-the-face, that left me, and everything I thought I knew about life, burnt away, tasting like ashes in my mouth.

• Pofarmer

Care to share?

• It is a work-in-progress. Rather, I am a work-in-progress.

• Kodie

I’m offended that you seem to be going down the list of things EVERY Christian thinks we need to hear, but already heard before, with no regard to having a conversation that bears on the responses you get. Instead, you try to make it like you were joking or head for the next item on your list, anything to get out of the hard questions.

It isn’t as though Bob and some of the rest of us don’t want input from Christians or other theists, it’s just really hard to care when the Christian came here with an agenda.

I don’t really believe your testimony, since you haven’t and don’t seem to want to explain yourself. You just wanted to say something dramatic. I don’t believe you knew that much about life, and were fertile soil for the delusion of Christianity to be planted. You didn’t want it, but you were too gullible to resist it.

• I am one person arguing against as many as five.

Many of those here are quite intelligent, have no problem calling me derogatory names and belittling me every chance they can get, and I am still here, still with something to say, and if you read through all of this stuff you will see that it actually adds up.

I am also trying to do this with some sense of humor, a little dignity, and being very respectful of others.

I don’t know what you mean by ‘explain yourself.’ I would be happy to answer any question you put to me – especially a hard one – even though it may open me up to all manner of ridicule from the others.

• if you read through all of this stuff you
will see that it actually adds up.

Gotta disagree with you there. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I
don’t think you’ve given any of us any evidence that God exists or that your worldview is correct. Arguments and evidence are the currency around here, and it looks like you’re broke.

• No, you haven’t missed it. I am hoping to discuss more upon your response to this post, which is buried among what is a full collection of posts at this point:

‘I will accept your conclusion that the writers did not know or believe that they were writing sacred text at the time they were writing it – and to avoid real confusion, let’s say this applies to only the New Testament, and not include Revelation.’

I would like to begin with agreement of some kind, if that is possible.

• That sounds fine, though whether or not the authors of the books of the NT saw themselves writing sacred text is a very tertiary issue.

• I’d like to sleep on this, if that’s alright.