Dating Advice: the FIRST Thing to Figure Out in a Relationship

Dating Advice: the FIRST Thing to Figure Out in a Relationship March 25, 2017

KissHave you heard the story of star Notre Dame football player Manti Teʻo? His girlfriend died after a battle with leukemia. Instead of withdrawing due to sadness, however, he led his team to an upset victory shortly afterwards. Sports website Deadspin called it “The most heartbreaking and inspirational story of the [2012] college football season.”

But as the story evolved, we gradually discovered that the girlfriend didn’t actually die of leukemia. In fact, she didn’t die at all. She didn’t even exist. She was a hoax.

An old rule in journalism states that a story about a dog biting a man isn’t much of a story. It’s commonplace. But a man-bites-dog story—that’s something people will want to read about. Equally rare is a story about a nonexistent girlfriend.

Christian analogy to God

Christians often say that a relationship with God is like a relationship with another person. Like our relationship to God, marriage, for example, is built on faith. You can’t be certain that your marriage will last. You don’t know that a better partner isn’t just around the corner. But you evaluate the evidence and take a leap of faith.

This analogy completely misses the mark. The relationship between two romantic partners isn’t at all like that between you and God because you know that the partner exists. The unfortunate experience of Manti Teʻo underscores this point. That was the glaring, embarrassing, almost unbelievable error that he made: not being sure that the other party even existed. This is the error that Christians make and, here too, it’s glaring, embarrassing, and almost unbelievable.

The Christian might respond that, sure, the girlfriend/wife analogy isn’t perfect. Heck, what analogy is? But it’s still useful.

Uh, no. This analogy is completely, totally wrong. The question of existence shouldn’t even come up in a personal relationship, and yet with God, it’s the primary question. This analogy is useful only to tamp down questions, and it should be discarded by any honest Christian.

Forced into belief?

One of the more ridiculous responses I’ve gotten to this problem is that for God to make his existence obvious and eliminate the need for faith would be an imposition. He would force belief on me, whether I wanted it or not.

But I’m “forced” to accept the existence of new people and new things all the time. That’s reality. No one considers that an imposition.

What makes a good friend?

I believe it was physicist and priest John Polkinghorne who also tried to salvage the analogy. He argued that continually testing a friendship or setting traps to verify that someone is truly a friend is no basis for a friendship. A good friendship needs trust.

Yes, it’s bad form to frequently say, “How about now? Am I still your friend now?” But here again this misses the point. You know your friend exists, while that’s the fundamental issue in the God “relationship.”

Alexander vs. Jesus

Atheist philosopher Stephen Law explained the pro-Jesus stance this way:

There is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. . . . What we know about Alexander the Great could fit on a few sheets of paper, yet no one doubts that Alexander existed.

Evidence for Alexander? You mean like coins with his name and likeness? Statues of a man with the inscription “Ἀλέξανδρος”? Twenty new cities named Alexandria, all dating from about the same time and consistent with his travels? Perhaps there are even reports of his conquests from hostile sources. No, no one doubts the existence of Alexander, but that’s because have a very different kind of evidence with Alexander than with Jesus. (Note also that all supernatural claims about Alexander are dismissed in the historical accounts. Are Christians sure they want the historical Jesus treated the same way?)

Augustine

Church father Augustine said, “Seek not to understand so you may believe, but believe so you may understand.” I guess you could just walk the walk and try to build up a belief, but why? I could work really hard to convince myself that unicorns or fairies exist, but why would I do that? Any Christian faith that’s built up this way—just believe for no good reason until you believe by habit—is built on nothing. I’d rather build my beliefs on evidence.

Many analogies have been tossed out to rationalize God’s existence. God’s relationship to us is like king to subject, judge to defendant, parent to child, or, as in the case of Manti Teʻo, boyfriend to girlfriend.

No, these analogies don’t work. Where God analogies are accurate, they’re not necessary. And where they’re necessary, they’re not accurate.

I refuse to prove that I exist,
for proof denies faith,
and without faith I am nothing.
— God (as quoted by Douglas Adams)

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/11/13.)

Image credit: Iqbal Osman, flickr, CC


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  • Bob, did you not read what Law wrote? It’s right at the very beginning of his post: “The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views.” (Bolding is mine) The quote that you cite from his is him describing others’ views (found in “The Consensus View” section of his post): “In fact, it is often said there is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. In A Marginal Jew – Rethinking The Historical Jesus, for example, John Meier notes that what we know about Alexander the Great could fit on a few sheets of paper, yet no one doubts that Alexander existed.” The whole post is Law agreeing with you in skepticism over whether there is enough historical evidence to say that Jesus existed.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed.

    • Pofarmer

      John Meier notes that what we know about Alexander the Great could fit on a few sheets of paper,

      That might be true in the strictest sense, but it’s also complete bunk.

      • By comparison, what we “know” of Jesus probably wouldn’t fill even one sheet.

        • Pofarmer

          A few lines.

        • Yep, probably.

  • rubaxter

    Two points:

    1. So have the apologists ever heard of the two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right principle? They assume that if we believe in Alexander we will believe in Jeebus, but the obvious path is to stop believing in Alexander. At least, as you point out, any drivel about him being a gawd. There is no continuous ‘tradition’ of a sacred Alexander protecting/saving his fractured Empire, either.

    2. Many other humans have done things comparable to Alexander, so he’s not really in the same league as a Son of a God/Rose from the Dead myth, is he? Lots of cultures foreign to Alexander’s also admit he existed, and the consilience of history from Greeks in Asia Minor to the Ptolemies point to a perfectly reasonable human story for Alexander.

    • Honestly, even comparing them is absurd, for the reasons Bob points out. Beyond that noting other problems seems superfluous.

    • The part they don’t get in that analogy is that it makes no different to me if various historical/legendary figures existed or not. Most certainly ancient history is not accurately recorded. It’s hard enough to sort out truth from exaggeration in events in our own time. I’m not going to have an existential crisis if it turns out that Julius Caesar never existed. I’d just shrug and go on about my day. But if there were proof that Jesus never existed they’d freak completely out.

      • Greg G.

        But if there were proof that Jesus never existed they’d freak completely out.

        Nah, they would go into denial. It would just be a way to prove how much faith they have. If Christians can deny evolution, they can deny anything.

        • TheNuszAbides

          hell, there are humans out there who deny Trump’s manifest unsuitability for governmental authority. (surely it’s pure coincidence that some of those are also Xians.)

        • Greg G.

          I saw somewhere that 80% of Evangelicals voted for Trump. I think it was on Facebook so I would be skeptical except that I had a conversation with an Evangelical and she thought Trump was great.

        • RichardSRussell

          Evangelicals who ever supported Donald Trump have unilaterally surrendered any shred of a claim to moral superiority they might ever have pretended to. He is the complete antithesis of every moral code they ever arrogantly tried to impose on the rest of us.

          Do remind them of that every time you have an opportunity.

        • TheNuszAbides

          such votes are/were quintessential “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face”.

      • Jim Jones

        > But if there were proof that Jesus never existed

        There’s plenty, but they won’t look at it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          in-group cheerleading, sunk-cost fallacy, et al. trump [lack of] hard evidence. again and again.

    • 1. So have the apologists ever heard of the two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right principle?

      I have. I am often called an “apologist”, sometimes with the negative connotation intended, sometimes not. Anyhow, if evolution is red in tooth and claw, if so much evil were required to make humans what they are, then surely humans are quite evil? After all, you cannot add up a bunch of wrongs and get a right.

      • busterggi

        But you can add up all the horrors the biblegod committed & ordered committed in his name and somehow get a ‘good’ god?

        • That’s an interesting question, but let’s focus on the issue at hand. If you cannot get a right from two wrongs, how can you get a right from all the wrongs of evolution? And they must be wrongs, if the evolutionary argument for evil is to hold any water (or hellfire?) at all.

        • MNb

          “If you cannot get a right from two wrongs, how can you get a right from all the wrongs of evolution?”
          Nice category error.
          Plus a strawman. No evolutionary biologist gets one single right from even two wrongs of evolution.
          Still a creacrapper by heart, huh?

        • busterggi

          You must spend hours daily practising dodgeball.

        • I do practice dodgeball when you play deflectball.

        • eric

          Once again, cooperative strategies have pretty much always been part of the evolution of life on Earth. So we didn’t start out with “two wrongs,” to use your metaphor (which, personally, I think is really poor since why would a claim of deontological ethics be relevant at all to biology?).

          The how has been described to you above: genetics impact behavior. A mutation in genetics can thus change behavior, creating in some cases new behavior. So descent with modification explains the ‘how’ quite fine.

          Lastly and for goodness’ sake, try to understand this point: Christianity’s theodicy problem cannot be defended through some crazy tu quoque attempt. Whether evolution can or can’t explain behavior we call ‘good’ (IMO, it can), IS ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT TO the fact that Christianity cannot explain God’s hiddenness or the suffering in the world. Even if true, your tu quoque will still be a fallacy…so stop trying to use it. It just makes you look like you don’t know how to address the argument put in front of you.

        • Once again, cooperative strategies have pretty much always been part of the evolution of life on Earth. So we didn’t start out with “two wrongs”.

          Ok, but surely there are many “wrongs” in evolution? Otherwise, the evolutionary argument against God’s goodness would fail. Because nobody actually believes that just one wrong would do the trick. They always have to point to many, many instances of wrong.

          BTW, if you’re in love with David Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation or the iterated prisoner’s dilemma in general, check out the following from 2012:

          The world of game theory is currently on fire. In May, Freeman Dyson at Princeton University and William Press at the University of Texas announced that they had discovered a previously unknown strategy for the game of prisoner’s dilemma which guarantees one player a better outcome than the other. (MIT Technology Review: The Emerging Revolution in Game Theory)

          All evolution does is select for organisms better suited to the environment. It does not necessarily select for “more advanced” and it does not necessarily select for “more ethical”. If an organism with 25% of the genome of another will survive better in enough environments for enough time, that other organism can easily become extinct. Same goes w/”evil” organisms and species.

          So descent with modification explains the ‘how’ quite fine.

          No, you’ve inserted “then a miracle happens” or “God works in mysterious ways”. You don’t get to explain everything you want with “process y” × “lots of time”. We’re not talking about how evolution produced humans, we’re talking about how evolution produced goodness—or whether it in fact did that thing. Again, go read WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism and tell me why there hasn’t been more outcry. If physical violence is out of fashion, power will simply find other ways to dominate human beings. And it has. This has been empirically demonstrated.

          Lastly and for goodness’ sake, try to understand this point: Christianity’s theodicy problem cannot be defended through some crazy tu quoque attempt.

          That’s not what I’m doing. I am questioning your claim to being ‘good’. What I am pushing for is that we abolish the concept of “goodness” and “evil” if we cannot properly ground them. I think Nietzsche was honest in this regard. So is Bruce Waller in his Against Moral Responsibility. I want you to take your beliefs seriously, and stop stealing from Christianity et al.

        • TheNuszAbides

          stop stealing from Christianity et al.

          why, because “Christianity et al.” were wholly authentic-original concepts of morality and so must an ‘honest’ position of atheism be?

        • So we didn’t start out with “two wrongs,” to use your metaphor (which, personally, I think is really poor since why would a claim of deontological ethics be relevant at all to biology?).

          Well, how many wrongs and how many rights? Or at least, what % of rights?

          You might think speaking in terms of right and wrong (that’s not necessarily deontological) is weird, but if effect is always commensurate with cause(s), then whatever goodness or badness we have as humans is perfectly traceable, in principle, to goodness or badness in our antecedents. After all, we are not causal powers ourselves; we are merely conduits for chains of causation which were originated eons ago. Unless you believe that Homo sapiens at one point ate of some tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that right/​wrong originated there, at a sort of discontinuity which begs for a cause commensurate with the effect?

          The how has been described to you above: genetics impact behavior.

          That is quite irrelevant to the point I’ve been pressing. From the physicalist’s perspective, right and wrong are just properties of matter–energy. So we can ask how it propagates through time rather like we can ask how an electron propagates through time. The answer will be much more complex, but we humans are up to the task—or are we not?

          A mutation in genetics can thus change behavior, creating in some cases new behavior. So descent with modification explains the ‘how’ quite fine.

          It doesn’t explain any increase in goodness or increase in the % of right vs. wrong.

          Lastly and for goodness’ sake, try to understand this point: Christianity’s theodicy problem cannot be defended through some crazy tu quoque attempt. Whether evolution can or can’t explain behavior we call ‘good’ (IMO, it can), IS ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT TO the fact that Christianity cannot explain God’s hiddenness or the suffering in the world.

          As long as you believe that the evolutionary record contains many instances of gratuitous suffering, you have to deal with the fact that the same record led to your existence. Perhaps you could consider how children who were abused as children have a good chance to abuse their own children. We just learn what is “normal” from our upbringing. Now, what happens if nobody else in your culture is appreciably different? Then it just happens—like female genital mutilation in some parts of the world. You want to pretend that somehow humans can become better, and I’m requiring that you rigorously justify this. Because if you can’t, then your ability to determine what is good and what is evil will be flawed. The more flawed it is, the less trustworthy it is.

          When you use yourself as the instrument with which to probe and critique reality, I am well within my rights to point out apparent contradictions in the instrument. I don’t think all the objections to God will go POOF if you take this line of argument seriously; instead, I think we’d end up pruning away some obviously dead branches, and could better focus on the rest. But you don’t seem to want your own position to be examined. That just reminds me of the following:

              In one definition of the word, it is of course impossible to find any assertions of full skepticism; even silent enactments are difficult. A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

      • MNb

        Yeah, humans can be very evil. And evolution theory to some extents explains how come. So what exactly is the problem?

      • RichardSRussell

        Evolution is neither good nor evil. Those are human evaluations imposed on what is an essentially amoral, pragmatic process.

        • I see, so all those atheists who say that the unnecessary suffering from evolution proves that the omni-god doesn’t exist are full of crap?

        • RichardSRussell

          It is powerful (and, to my mind, convincing) evidence that the TB fantasy of a compassionate, loving god does not exist.

        • Ok, so I’m just taking that reasoning seriously, unlike you. After all, if effect is always commensurate with cause, and all causes are strictly physical, how do you get über-loving humans from über-brutal evolution? Perhaps the magical word “emergence” will surface, here?

          To state it differently, how can creatures which arose from incredible amounts of unnecessary suffering—such that it is literally baked into their DNA—somehow be holy and righteous, or have any sort of “platform” to stand on to become more holy and righteous? And yes, you can translate “holy and righteous” into secular-speak.

        • Paul B. Lot

          how can creatures which arose from incredible amounts of unnecessary suffering—such that it is literally baked into their DNA—somehow be holy and righteous

          compare with:

          how can creatures which arose from [predecessors with gills]—such that it is literally baked into their DNA—somehow be [unable to pull their needed oxygen directly from water?]

          AFAICT, those statements each contain similar levels of rigorous and meaningful logic.

        • You’re conflating material change with ethical change. Unless you believe there is actually no fact/​value dichotomy whatsoever?

        • Paul B. Lot

          Unless you believe there is actually no fact/​value dichotomy whatsoever?

          As it happens, I am not convinced that such a dichotomy exists, but that’s beside the point.

          You’re conflating material change with ethical change.

          Yes, on some level I am. Any analogy “conflates” [something, x] with [something, !x]. That is the nature of an “analogy”. Eg.

          Person 1: He dove into the water like a hungry kingfisher looking trying to spear a frog.

          Person 2: You’re conflating [avian divers] with [mammalian divers]

          If I found an analogy which did not conflate two on-some-level-dissimilar things, it would cease being an “analogy” and start being an “identity”.

        • Greg G.

          Dogs and cats have a common ancestor but their behaviors are different. Is that a material change or an ethical change? Humans and dogs have a common ancestor yet they have different behaviors. If the behaviors are heritable, then it is coded into the DNA, which would make it material.

        • RichardSRussell

          I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at here, Luke. Clearly, advanced forms have evolved from simpler forms. Why should it be any different with ethics?

          Incidentally, I notice that you chose to ignore my obervation about how all this “evil” you point to is completely incommensurate with the delusion of a loving god. Cat gotcher tongue?

        • Clearly, advanced forms have evolved from simpler forms. Why should it be any different with ethics?

          By “advanced”, do you mean anything other than “well-adapted to the particular environment”? For example, economic warfare is “advanced” with respect to physical warfare, under political liberalism. And so we have stuff like this:

          Schäuble came under criticism for his actions during the “Grexit” crisis of 2015: it was suggested by Yanis Varoufakis that Schäuble had intended to force Greece out of the Euro even before the election of the left-wing Syriza government in Greece.[77] This was confirmed by former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in early 2014; calling Schäuble’s plan “frightening,” Geithner recorded that Schäuble believed a Greek exit from the Eurozone would scare other countries in to line.[78] Schäuble also received extensive criticism toward his austerity recommendations from Twitter via the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.[79] Such criticism focused on the fact that Schäuble’s insistence on policies of austerity was contradicted both by the empirical evidence that the policies he had insisted on had shrunk the Greek economy by 25%, a degree hitherto paralleled only in wartime, but also by reports from the IMF insisting that only massive debt relief, not further austerity, could be effective.[80][81] (WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism)

          But if you only measure with the measuring instrument Steven Pinker uses in Better Angels, you’ll be blind to such things. How much hubbub has been raised about this? Did you even know that the number was 25%?

          Incidentally, I notice that you chose to ignore my obervation about how all this “evil” you point to is completely incommensurate with the delusion of a loving god. Cat gotcher tongue?

          When I said “omni-god”, I implied tri-omni-god. That is: omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent. That’s the meaning required for said comment to make any sense. Now, strictly speaking I would replace “omnibenevolent” with “morally perfect”, but that messed with my succinctness.

        • RichardSRussell

          Have you yet figured out that “omni-“anything is a logical contradiction, let alone having 3 of them duking it out with each other for supremacy?

          And, of course, being “omni-benevolent” or “morally perfect” or “all-loving” is completely contradictory to the very orgy of death and suffering you’ve been at such pains to describe. Can you honestly say that a deity who was supposedly capable of creating a place of benign kindness and gentleness (such as the Garden of Eden is alleged to have been) can still be described by all of those terms after everything you yourself have observed and described about the horrific way the world has worked for billions of years?

          Really, the challenge is not can you answer that question (because the answer is clearly “NO!”) but rather will you summon up the intellectual integrity to actually do it?

        • Have you yet figured out that “omni-“anything is a logical contradiction, let alone having 3 of them duking it out with each other for supremacy?

          Nope, I haven’t “figured out” that thing. But I also know that GR and QFT contradict near black holes, and I see any apparent contradictions with God and said omni-attributes to be about the same. Your notion of “duking it out” is pretty funny though; it presumes that at the core, reality is about warfare. John Milbank calls that the “ontology of violence”; he has your number.

          And, of course, being “omni-benevolent” or “morally perfect” or “all-loving” is completely contradictory to the very orgy of death and suffering you’ve been at such pains to describe.

          Just how much death is compatible with a morally perfect deity, in your view? Just how much suffering is compatible with a morally perfect deity, in your view? Zero to both? Zero to the former and a teeny bit to the latter? Something else?

          Can you honestly say that a deity who was supposedly capable of creating a place of benign kindness and gentleness (such as the Garden of Eden is alleged to have been) can still be described by all of those terms after everything you yourself have observed and described about the horrific way the world has worked for billions of years?

          I experienced human nature in middle school; I know how evil humans can be to their fellow humans. They don’t even have to intend it; they just have to practice “empathy” with only those who are sufficiently like them. If you’re not in that group, fuck you. You can take this datum and decide thereby that God doesn’t exist (at least not a tri-omni-god), or you can accept that perhaps there were good reasons to allow humans to be this horrible and move on. I don’t know how empirical evidence along would decide this; it seems to me that to do the reasoning, you have to also work off of chosen a priori dogmas. But if you want to send some rigorous logic my way on this issue, feel free!

          Really, the challenge is not can you answer that question (because the answer is clearly “NO!”) but rather will you summon up the intellectual integrity to actually do it?

          I summon the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual energy to work the hardest I can to enhance the lives of other people. You are welcome to piss on that all you want. 😀

        • RichardSRussell

          The question was not how hard you can work to make the lives of your fellow humans better, it was how hard you think God can work to do it. But you just can’t bring yourself to answer that one, can you? Because you know full well that the answer would have to be “a hell of a lot harder than the crap he’s been raining down on us for the last several billion year”. So much for your intellectual integrity.

        • The question was not how hard you can work to make the lives of your fellow humans better, it was how hard you think God can work to do it. But you just can’t bring yourself to answer that one, can you?

          Actually, I can and did, yesterday:

          So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (John 5:19–20)

          LB: Supposing that God amplifies actions that are in accordance with his will, one has to have sufficient lack of mixing of opposed will and be sufficiently aware of the possibility of amplification. Jesus was the perfect antenna or resonator, as it were.

          Do you see any logical fallacies in what I’ve stated? By the way, amplifying the goodness in our will is probably necessary for theosis. The antithesis to theosis is a permanent Sky Daddy or Grampa God; perhaps you would like one of those so you don’t have to do the hard work of growing up, taking personal responsibility for your actions, repenting when necessary, etc.?

          Because you know full well that the answer would have to be “a hell of a lot harder than the crap he’s been raining down on us for the last several billion year”.

          I’d like to see some empirical evidence for your position that the last several billion years could have gone much better. Do you, for example, have a nice simulation to show how evolution could have been “run better” (or you might say, “run at all”)? If you did, surely you could use such knowledge to improve things here and now. But I doubt you do. So I’m guessing you’re just wildly flailing, instead of engaging in reasoned, evidence-based argument.

          So much for your intellectual integrity.

          😀

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’d like to see some empirical evidence for your position …Do you…have a nice simulation to show how evolution could have been “run better” ….I doubt you do. So I’m guessing you’re just wildly flailing, instead of engaging in reasoned, evidence-based argument.

          One would not need a “simulation”, nor indeed any “empirical” evidence at all, to avoid the charge of “just wildly flailing”. Such a thing would be sufficient to destroy your characterization, of course, but not necessary.

          You write as if it were, however; more wood for the fire.

        • Greg G.

          Some creatures can invest in having lots of offspring so that a few survive. Other creatures invest more for lengths of time in fewer offspring. Some creatures live in groups. The behaviors of those who live in groups will be different than those which live independently.

          The creatures which live in groups will still have the baked-in DNA of their independent ancestors but they will also have the DNA of their ancestors that cared for their young and those that had genes that allowed them to suppress the genetic programming of their independent ancestors to some degree. The ability to bond with others, even if it is a modification of the bond with offspring, would be beneficial.

          You don’t get that? It must be your inner creationist. There is no need to posit a god for that.

        • MNb

          “Perhaps the magical word “emergence” will surface, here?”
          Try probabilism instead – specifically probability distribution. Also note that many über-loving humans are not that über-loving on closer inspection. If we consider two of my 20th Century heroes:

          – Mahatma Ghandi once expressed his admiration for Hitler. He also had a pervert preference for young, nude girls.
          – Martin Luther King was guilty of plagiarism.

          It’s just, because I realize they are humans, I don’t think these flaws detract anything from the good they did. In fact it makes me realize that if they can do so much good I should give it a try as well, despite all my character flaws. Thus exactly because of their flaws the good, loving stuff coming from them inspires me much more than that insufferable perfect embodiment of agape with his impossible standards. That guy tells that I’m incurably screwed up and that I can do nothing about it, very unlike the two heroes I just mentioned.

        • eric

          After all, if effect is always commensurate with cause…

          Effect is not always commensurate with cause. Because a cm-sized o-ring got too cold, the entire space shuttle Challenger was lost. Because one archduke was assassinated, we got all of WWI.

          But none of that has anything to do with the answer to your question. As I mentioned above, cooperation is an adaptational strategy we see all over nature throughout the entire history of life on Earth, from early single-celled organisms that evolve in to multi-celled organisms to present day species. It’s not at all unique to humanity, and it’s trivial to observe monkeys and apes and understand that since we share recent (evolutionarily speaking) common ancestry with them, our cooperative strategies might be similar to theirs.

        • Effect is not always commensurate with cause. Because a cm-sized o-ring got too cold, the entire space shuttle Challenger was lost. Because one archduke was assassinated, we got all of WWI.

          That’s not what I meant by the phrase, and AFAIK not what anyone means by the phrase. In both of those cases, there were many causes all working together. The total effect was commensurate with the combination of all the causes. There was no excess, no lack. No creatio ex nihilo.

          As I mentioned above, cooperation is an adaptational strategy we see all over nature throughout the entire history of life on Earth, from early single-celled organisms that evolve in to multi-celled organisms to present day species.

          Cooperation is sometimes the best strategy for survival, sometimes a bad strategy. Cooperation isn’t automagically good; there was a lot of cooperation in Nazi Germany. Indeed, part of what allowed the Holocaust to happen was an immense amount of highly efficient cooperation.

          The question is not whether there is some cooperation, but whether there is anyone left behind. There was plenty of cooperation in the antebellum American South, happily coexisting along plenty of domination. The same exists today, although it happens differently. See, for example, WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism. Or look at the IP agreements forced on inventors and scientists in America these days. (I don’t know about other countries in the West.)

        • Poor Luke–determined to misunderstand.

        • Susan

          so all those atheists who say that the unnecessary suffering from evolution proves that the omni-god doesn’t exist are full of crap?

          How on earth does that follow?

        • eric

          Its a weird mixing-up of atheist premises and Christian ones, but it’s also a pretty common apologetic mixup. If you think about it, Luke’s attempted comeback is similar in argument structure to the apologetic claim that atheists can’t call God’s actions objectively wrong if we believe morality is subjective.

        • Susan

          also a pretty common apologetic mixup.

          Yes. Luke relies on the standards. He just wraps them up in blue links and red herrings.

          similar in argument structure to the apologetic claim that atheists can’t call God’s actions objectively wrong if we believe morality is subjective.

          Also the old “you can’t prove it’s not for a Greater Good”.

          Same old tropes wrapped in the Luke Show.

        • TheNuszAbides

          because either Luke’s painstakingly curated rendition of Yahwehjesusism intrinsically deserves to be doubled down on again and again and again … or “fuggit”.

        • Greg G.

          Unnecessary suffering is only a problem for the concept of a benevolent, sufficiently powerful god-being.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And just about all of it has bugger all to do with evolution.

          Luke is away on one.

        • adam
        • adam

          ” so all those atheists who say that the unnecessary suffering from evolution ”

          WHAT “unnecessary suffering from evolution”?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0fb6906160c356a4cde379fed2ba8b518c86c9ee319846c78ab03eadecfd7083.jpg

      • eric

        As omnivorous predators (and occasional prey), human evolution is IMO fully consistent with the ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ concept. Should the pig in the slaughterhouse suddenly achieve sentience and understanding, I doubt he’d disagree much with labeling us ‘red in tooth and claw.’

        If, OTOH, you’re trying to make some sort of argument like ‘all that competition can’t lead to human-human social cooperation,’ that’s wrong too. Evolution is full of examples of cooperation, right on down to the first multi-cellular life forms. As far as we can tell, both strategies have been part of evolution for billions of years and human-human social cooperation is neither unique nor without precedent.

        • If, OTOH, you’re trying to make some sort of argument like ‘all that competition can’t lead to human-human social cooperation,’ …

          No, I am not.

      • TheNuszAbides

        if evolution is red in tooth and claw

        except when it isn’t … then [evidence of SuperNature]?

  • Han Solo

    Let me tell you about my wife, Rachel.
    I first met Rachel five years ago when her friend Emma conferred that she knew of a girl with a major crush on me. She spoke glowingly of Rachel, describing her as the most beautiful, kind, precocious, and driven young woman I could ever have the pleasure to meet. Even better, averred Emma, Rachel fervently desired to meet me and enter into a romantic relationship. Intrigued, and more than a bit flattered, I asked for more information.
    Thankfully, Emma produced incontrovertible evidence: A series of written letters composed by Emma’s and Rachel’s mutual acquaintance, Sarah. In these letters, Sarah waxed eloquent on Rachel’s character, promulgating her nigh perfection in every conceivable way. However preposterous it may have seemed, Rachel came to my university for the express purpose of initiating a romantic relationship with me! She loved me before I ever graduated high school, and thus she paid her only begotten college funds to attend my school, so that if I chose to believe in her love, she would be my everlasting wife. And, best of all, she happened to be a virgin…
    I confess that I found myself smitten with Rachel almost immediately. Therefore, I inquired with Emma how I might go about initiating the proffered romantic relationship. The answer was ludicrously simple. I merely needed to profess my love for Rachel, ask her to be my wife, and she would comply.
    I wed Rachel on that very day.
    Life with Rachel simply could not be better. I feel so grateful to call her my wife. She is simply the single greatest person I have ever met, and she makes me a better person every day. Now, while I confessedly have never seen Rachel face to face, I firmly contend that I never feel more alive than when I read Sarah’s letters about Rachel, or when Emma and I commune and we both luxuriate in Rachel’s irresistible grace. Sometimes Emma and I sing songs in order to marvel at how amazing Rachel is. Sometimes I write letters to Rachel, and though she never replies I know that she listens because Emma assures me that this is the case.
    Some people insinuate that their spouses verbally speak with them, and even occasionally participate in coital relations. Frankly, I do not find such accounts compelling. While I see the appeal of a physical relationship, I contend that my marriage is far superior to that of my peers. The transcendent feeling of my love for Rachel supersedes any doubts I may have. Nothing could be more real than our marriage.
    End story.
    Was that not all a trifle sophomoric?
    In the Christian communities I grew up in, everyone invariably described their “relationship” with Jesus in such glowing, saccharine terms. Being young and credulous, I believed them. I heard such wonderful things ascribed to Jesus that I wanted to have a relationship with him, too. I realized much later the endemic flaw.
    You see, I have relationships with other people. I have friends. I have family members. As a function of our relationships, here are some mutual activities we engage in:
    1. We talk. We speak audibly. We induce oscillations of the vocal cords so as to convey meaning to one another.
    2. We hang out. We watch movies, play board/video games, play sports.
    3. We touch. We make physical contact. We alternately vie for the same point in a three-dimensional plane, thereby compelling our respective atoms and molecules and constituent particles to repel and produce the sensation of collision.
    4. We look at each other. We observe one another with optical sensors. We collect light rays, translating them into nerve impulses that travel into the brain and get inverted so as to produce a useful visual simulacrum of our respective persons.
    I could go on, but that would be pedantry.
    My “relationship” with Jesus fulfilled precisely none of those criteria. Whatsoever.
    He never spoke to me, he never hugged me like my parents did, he never appeared to me. He refused, despite my intrinsic and intense desire to do all of these things.
    If any human treated me like that for a protracted period of time, I would terminate the relationship. Call me selfish, but I expect a bit more. Why? Because relationships are reciprocal. You exchange texts. You drive each other to concerts. You shoot paintball guns at each other and climb mountains and learn how to surf. You laugh, love, live free, and sing. When you want to express affection for your significant other, you exchange cards or write poetry or prepare a nice meal. Sometimes you get to rub your genitals together because it feels good, for both parties involved.
    If God wants to communicate with me, he knows where to find me. Until then, there is no relationship. I see no reason to pretend otherwise.
    Is there truly any appreciable distinction between a Christian’s alleged relationship with Jesus and Manti Te’o’s “relationship” with Lennay Kekua?
    TL;DR: Jesus wants to date you but doesn’t want to put in any effort. You should dump him.

    NOTE: I originally wrote this on Reddit a couple weeks ago, but the spirit applies quite aptly to this post.

    • If God wants to communicate with me, he knows where to find me

      Nicely stated.

      • Greg G.

        Why is Han Solo’s post not available for response? It has “This comment is awaiting moderation. Show comment.” until you hit the “Show comment” but it still has no Reply.

        Why can’t the church members believe that I show up at the church functions several times a week? They must not have enough faith in me. Where do they think that $1000 blessing comes from in the collection plate every week?

        • Han Solo

          I pulled it verbatim from a post I wrote for /r/exchristian on Reddit about two weeks ago. Perhaps that triggered something? It would technically be plagiarism, were I not the original author.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve never seen Disqus do that. I guess Sparkling Moon’s copy and paste jobs are not copyrighted.

          At least we can upvote it.

        • That’s weird. I just saw the same thing, but I got no notice that it’d been flagged. Anyway, I just approved it, so it should be OK. (16 Disqus up-votes for a hidden comment is pretty good.)

          Where do they think that $1000 blessing comes from in the collection plate every week?

          And all the bad things that don’t happen to the church–that’s not just by accident.

      • paul

        If you are in a condition to hear then hear. But if you are choosing not to listen to the still small voice, that’s up to you. In my experience it is best to look to the gods first for more local input, then if you become able to better hear the spirits through practice and you gain respect in the world of spirits through your efforts, then you can put yourself in a position to be able to hear from a higher God, (or as some put it the God of gods). However in my opinion unless He has a reason to communicate with you and unless he decides to give you some necessary information or to give you some kind of a job that needs doing then in my experience He would probably just send you a angel (spiritual being with the name of a god written in him) to tell you what is what.
        Have a great day and keep listening. 🙂

        • Michael Neville

          To misquote Darth Vader: The woo is strong in this one.

        • TheNuszAbides

          If you are in a condition to hear then hear. But if you are choosing not to listen to the still small voice, that’s up to you.

          no third possibility?

        • paul

          I am new to Disqus I am a little confused about the name of the thread that my posted comment was sent to. I was responding to “If God wants to communicate with me, he knows where to find me” by Bod S. I am a spiritual enthusiast, so I am happily surprised to get a response except from the other spiritual enthusiasts that I post with on other forums. There are many possibilities finding and taking a third choice. It is always a wise decision to look for one. It is also recommended by this spiritual enthusiast to get started with. While I am happy to mention one more aspect of a spiritual form of hearing it is always up to you to grow into your own power wherein you will not need to ask very often, but you will know all of the correct choices that are available to you at any given time.
          My favored third choice would be to channel with a spirit within the world of spirits, this takes practice because you need to meditate and transcend the thoughts and the thought filters in your own mind. You need to establish trust between yourself and the spirit, spirits can know everything that you are thinking so you also have to show them love and respect or they don’t have to communicate with you. In some cases, week spirits would have to sit very still for a really long time to give you a look at them which would increase your confidence in your efforts to begin to hear them more clearly in your mind. Patience and kindness not fear and distrust needs to be applied by you if you are going to form a communication bond with a willing spirit. (I must say for clarity that this is called bonding magic), don’t let the word fool you to those who have knowledge magic is just another word for high science that is yet unknown. Good spirit hunting and listening to you, especially if you are choosing to walk the path be ready and able to hear a god/God speaking into your trained and clear mind when and if a god/God chooses to talk to you. Have a great time in your efforts. 🙂

        • Chuck Johnson

          Paul:
          “My favored third choice would be to channel with a spirit within the world of spirits, . . . ”

          Chuck:
          TheNuszAbides did not mean this.
          He is talking about gaining knowledge and wisdom without any help from supernatural sources.

          This blog is oriented towards gaining knowledge from the natural world around us.
          Science would be an example.

        • TheNuszAbides

          TheNuszAbides did not mean this.

          well, i did want to get a better sense of whether paul’s formulae had any built-in nuance, but either way, yes, i would have headed for the third/fourth/+ option of “pssst, it’s all made up”.

        • Pofarmer

          “pssst, it’s all made up”.

          I think paul is way beyond the nuanced answer that he just might be mistaken.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you might say he’s ‘transcended’ it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i appreciate that you have developed and/or borrowed from a richly imaginative tradition, but “transcend the thought filters in your own mind” is incoherent. unless you have documentation of a procedure that reliably achieves conditions more clearly observable than self-report of sensations. storytelling is compelling entertainment, but i’ve already gleefully and open-mindedly been on more ~spirit journeys~ than were strictly necessary to reasonbly confirm — even by mere weight of anecdotes — the neurological consensus that there’s no ‘there’ there.

        • Chuck Johnson

          TheNuszAbides:
          “. . . “transcend the thought filters in your own mind” is incoherent.”

          Chuck:
          I can interpret this in a non-woo way.

          Avoid confirmation bias.
          Think outside the box.
          Make use of your imagination.

          And others.
          But we have to ask Paul if mundane and naturalistic thinking has any appeal for him. Or if he even understands what we mean by this.

        • TheNuszAbides

          fair enough, i shouldn’t have put the ‘unless …’ in a separate sentence and should have added my usual “e.g.”

        • paul

          It is really nice posting with you I am not sure the order that these posts are in so pleas excuse me if I answered out of order. You have really hit the center of the problem of transcendence “self-report of sensations”. Because experiential knowledge is the key to everything having to do with the world of spirits. I as a young person found this problem to be circular in nature. I have wanted and worked toward a solution for quit some time now. The law of free agency stops any attempted aid for those who have not discovered a spiritual relevance to life. In a world where many including myself have been damaged by religious dogmas that have no real connection to enhancing your own true spiritual power. I do know of one way to get experiential knowledge of the true spiritual world but it requires a master to apprentice relationship, and efforts that few people are willing to participate. I and some fellow travellers are being schooled and are practicing while journaling on a spiritual path but this practice path finding is currently placed in a fantasy setting. This allows for focus and intention to be strengthened while not becoming to scary for the participants to handle. The mystic Rumi once said to a group of followers “I show you the gates of heaven and when a demon pops up and says ‘BOO’ then you all run away (paraphrased)”. Thanks for this post!
          🙂

        • Michael Neville

          A friendly word of advice, Paul. Break up your stream of consciousness into paragraphs. That would make your posts earlier to read.

        • paul

          Thank you very much. I have always had a problem with just that. I recently started posting which has helped. 🙂

        • Max Doubt

          “[…] the problem of transcendence […] the world of spirits […] a spiritual relevance to life […] your own true spiritual power […] the true spiritual world […] a spiritual path […] our spiritual abilities […]

          You’re writing this as if those things are real, like other people should understand what you mean, as if you said “loud music” or “rain cloud” or “warm breeze”. The problem isn’t with “transcendence” or “spiritual relevance”. The problem is you can’t define spiritual world or spiritual power or spiritual path or spiritual abilities in any sort of unambiguous way. You’re spewing words that make you feel smart or enlightened or in-the-know, like you have some kind of understanding of something outside the realm of objective reality. You don’t.

          I hate to burst your happy little “spiritual” bubble, but you sound like a college kid sitting around the dorm on a Friday night with some of the other guys who couldn’t get a date, passing around a bong and wondering if you might be just a brain in a vat or a character in a computer simulation or the “matrix” or whatever philosophical falderal happens to be popular right now. I’ve got news for you, young fella, you’re talking gibberish. Meaningless platitudes. Nonsense. A computer program can do it better than you can.

          So maybe lay off the weed for a while, get a girlfriend, spend some time outside the dorm room or your parents basement or wherever you’re holed up, maybe find a hobby that doesn’t involve all that “spiritual” masturbation. In a few years when you realize how much life you might have wasted, you’ll look back and thank me.

        • TheNuszAbides
        • RichardSRussell

          “Spirituality” is the modern, politically correct term for “superstition”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          except when [e.g.] Sam Harris heavily qualifies it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i concur that harnessing one’s imagination can be a powerful process, combining such efforts in a group even moreso. but there’s more than one eyebrow to be raised at the “requires a master to apprentice relationship” bit.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and i did have a great time in my efforts, and i have spent most of those focusing on patience and kindness. what i invariably found most important, however, was that these need most to be applied to fellow humans in the here-and-now.

        • paul

          Well said the spiritual law of free agency lets you have your way as a sovereign being. Enjoy! 🙂

        • Do you think much about the possibility that there’s no spirits or supernatural? That would neatly explain the poor quality of evidence for it, wouldn’t it? I imagine you’re familiar with the many ways we can deceive ourselves.

        • Pofarmer

          THis sounds like a perfect recipe for deluding yourself. Just sayin.

        • What still small voice? God is so evanescent that we only get the vaguest of clues that he even exists? Why is he so shy? It’s almost like he doesn’t exist at all, but you’re determined to sift for vague clues to justify your precondeption.

          Let’s just all agree that gods don’t exist, that they were just imaginings of primitive people, and see reality clearly. Sound good?

        • paul

          Bob Seidensticker: Thanks for your comments. As I said to the others who were also kind enough to reply to my comments. Thanks to all who took their valuable time to comment on my poorly expressed posts. This small fish in the world of posting is headed back to the more familiar ground of the pagan/druid area. 🙂

        • Max Doubt

          “This small fish in the world of posting is headed back to the more familiar ground of the pagan/druid area.”

          Great idea. Then you won’t have to worry about having your woo beliefs challenged like you do on this forum. Plus, the good folks here won’t have to listen to your nonsensical ramblings anymore. It’s a win win. 🙂

        • busterggi

          God lives in Whoville.

        • That’s why I can’t hear his voice–only elephants with their big ears can do so.

        • Kodie

          If you hear gods, you are probably not totally sane.

        • paul

          Kodie: Thanks for that as a spiritual enthusiast I appreciate your concern.
          Except for the few who post in spiritual type areas most of those who know me would agree. My only recourse is to laughingly quote: Friedrich Nietzsche — ‘And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.’ I hope that you will join in the conversation in the pagan/druid area that I am currently trying to retreat to and keep us all on the straight and narrow. Thanks 🙂

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          A woman killed her children because she thought God told her to do it. Another woman killed her children because she thought the devil told her to do it. A psychiatrist, who happened to be a Christian, testified in both trials. He determined the former was insane and the latter was sane because it would be crazy to think that God would tell a parent to kill the children. This actually happened.

        • adam

          Somehow I am not surprised.

        • But if you are choosing not to listen to the still small voice, that’s up to you.

          I like the allusion. But there is also this:

          And the Lord said:

          “Because this people draw near with their mouth
              and honor me with their lips,
              while their hearts are far from me,
          and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
          therefore, behold, I will again
              do wonderful things with this people,
              with wonder upon wonder;
          and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
              and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
          (Isaiah 29:13–14)

          What this suggests to me is that science can hit an asymptote such that there is terrifically more of reality to explore, because people refused to discard enough false beliefs and adopt enough true beliefs (sometimes this requires trustπίστις). An example of such dunderheadedness is exposed here:

              There are several reasons why the contemporary social sciences make the idea of the person stand on its own, without social attributes or moral principles. Emptying the theoretical person of values and emotions is an atheoretical move. We shall see how it is a strategy to avoid threats to objectivity. But in effect it creates an unarticulated space whence theorizing is expelled and there are no words for saying what is going on. No wonder it is difficult for anthropologists to say what they know about other ideas on the nature of persons and other definitions of well-being and poverty. The path of their argument is closed. No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced. It is insulting to be told that your idea about persons is flawed. It is like being told you have misunderstood human beings and morality, too. The context of this argument is always adversarial. (Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, 10)

          We refused to take seriously the insides of people. We treated the insides as sacrosanct, as each being its own little Holy of Holies. Perhaps people are scared that if science is allowed to fully penetrate this matter, humans really will turn into robots? Imagine someone like Trump but with 100x the manipulative power. Or maybe this research really is going on, but a huge cloud of misinformation has been spread about. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are certainly gathering enough information to statistically simulate people and manipulate them.

        • Steven Watson

          I vote for Paul’s bonkers over yours. 🙂

        • Kevin K

          Baloney. If god wanted to communicate with you, he could do it instantly, immediately, and incontrovertibly.

          You’re placing an ENORMOUS limitation on your god’s powers if it can only communicate with people who are actively listening.

          And what are we to make of people who claim they ARE actively listening, and the god that communicates with them is Muslim? Or Hindu? Or Jain?

          edited for clarity.

        • eric

          If you are in a condition to hear then hear. But if you are choosing not to listen to the still small voice, that’s up to you.

          Its highly immoral to leave it ‘up to us’ so passively when the penalty for choosing not to listen is eternal torture in hell. If my kid was choosing not to listen to me and that was the expected outcome, I’d be doing everything in my power to get him to listen to me.

          unless He has a reason to communicate with you…He would probably just send you a angel…to tell you what is what.

          Okay, so then now you need to explain the hidden-ness of angels. Because that equally makes no sense.

        • Its highly immoral to leave it ‘up to us’ so passively when the penalty for choosing not to listen is eternal torture in hell.

          But we won’t even listen to our own scientists! For example, we don’t live in a democracy, but in the simulacrum of a democracy. Read the first few pages of Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. But no, we bury our heads in the sand. If we won’t pay attention to our own priests scientists, why would we pay attention to God, who has even worse news for us (after which there is great news). If you won’t admit you’re sick, you won’t take the medicine to get well.

        • eric

          So, God’s omniscience doesn’t extend to being able to argue convincingly, and his perfect love doesn’t extend to trying to make that argument in person?

        • Jesus did make that argument in person. He was crucified for doing so. Do you not understand how [earthly] power works?

        • adam

          “Jesus did make that argument in person.”

          Thus demonstrating what FAILURE really is for God.

        • MNb

          Apparently it limits divine power then – which is exactly the point.

        • Max Doubt

          “Do you not understand how [earthly] power works?”

          I do. There’s nothing your god can do that I can’t do. Simple.

        • eric

          So your God is not willing to try the same thing again and again and again for our sake? He loves us, but not that much, huh?
          Secondly, Jesus wasn’t that convincing (else, there’d be no Jews). So again this reflects on God’s supposed omnipotence. He’s evidently not powerful enough to fashion an argument for salvation that convinces much more than a few percent of the people who hear it.

        • So your God is not willing to try the same thing again and again and again for our sake?

          The insane person does something over and over again, while expecting a different result.

          Secondly, Jesus wasn’t that convincing (else, there’d be no Jews).

          I disagree with the parenthetical. I don’t equate “convincing” with “forced everyone to believe as he wanted them to”. I think that’s actually an atrocious notion of “convincing”. It is totalitarian.

          He’s evidently not powerful enough to fashion an argument for salvation that convinces much more than a few percent of the people who hear it.

          Empirical data, please.

        • eric

          The insane person does something over and over again, while expecting a different result.

          A nice pithy quote, but when it comes to convincing humans to change their mind, are you seriously claiming trying multiple times never works?

          I don’t equate “convincing” with “forced everyone to believe as he wanted them to”.

          Neither do I, but I didn’t say ‘forced’ anywhere. When someone tells me the person doing the convincing is omnipotent or omniscient, I naturally think that the strength of their argument and the rhetorical power of their words would be sufficient to achieve a near 100% success rate. Else, not tri-Omni.

          Empirical data, please.

          Empirical data on the number of Christians in the early years is lacking. But if you believe the bible, specifically Acts 2, then even after the resurrection it was still just his core disciples going out and trying to convince Jews (and others) to become Christians; they had no other followers..
          Acts 4 puts the number of people they convinced at 5,000 – again ,this was after the resurrection, not before it or because of it. So I think ‘a few percent’ is a reasonable estimate.

        • A nice pithy quote, but when it comes to convincing humans to change their mind, are you seriously claiming trying multiple times never works?

          No. Sometimes trying the same thing multiple times really does produce a different result, because external conditions can sometimes change. But sometimes trying the same thing multiple times accomplishes nothing good. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t have other strategies. For example, if we humans are so screwed up that we won’t even pay attention to what our own scientists say when we dislike it (example: Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government), why would we listen to even harder messages? So one option is to lock us in our stupidity and evil and evolve the system forward so that we are forced to face them instead of avoid them. This is what I think is going on here:

          The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12)

          Yes, it’s brutal. But sadly, many people seem to need to suffer a lot in order to snap to attention. Want evidence? Just see how hard it is to get action on catastrophic global climatic instability. Apparently, we’ll need some catastrophes of epic proportion before enough people care enough. This might mean hundreds of millions of human deaths. We humans really don’t like admitting when we’re wrong. It gets worse when you are smarter: Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. Now, I believe there is hope:

          And the Lord said:

          “Because this people draw near with their mouth
              and honor me with their lips,
              while their hearts are far from me,
          and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
          therefore, behold, I will again
              do wonderful things with this people,
              with wonder upon wonder;
          and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
              and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
          (Isaiah 29:13–14)

          This can seem weird and mystical until you realize that if a society has accepted enough falsehoods for enough time, some smaller segment could have realized they were falsehoods and pressed on, understanding more and more of reality while most everyone languished in their pathetic mediocrity. The “science” they demonstrate would appear miraculous, but it would actually just be due to people who refused to bend to mediocrity but instead continued to pursue goodness, truth, beauty, etc. But there’s a problem: what if said “small segment” is evil? It’s not like the only option is the holy and righteous Second Foundation of Asimov’s scifi trilogy.

          Neither do I, but I didn’t say ‘forced’ anywhere. When someone tells me the person doing the convincing is omnipotent or omniscient, I naturally think that the strength of their argument and the rhetorical power of their words would be sufficient to achieve a near 100% success rate. Else, not tri-Omni.

          Let’s move this conversation over here.

          Empirical data on the number of Christians in the early years is lacking. But if you believe the bible, specifically Acts 2, then even after the resurrection it was still just his core disciples going out and trying to convince Jews (and others) to become Christians; they had no other followers..
          Acts 4 puts the number of people they convinced at 5,000 – again ,this was after the resurrection, not before it or because of it. So I think ‘a few percent’ is a reasonable estimate.

          I’m confused; are you excluding the large number of people who call themselves Christians today? Or are you saying it’s a problem if there’s any time-slice through history where only a few percent are Christians? Or something else?

        • eric

          This isn’t to say that God doesn’t have other strategies.

          Why would a tri-Omni God need ‘other strategies?’ Is he incapable of making the preferred strategy work? Does he not know how to make his preferred strategy work?

          So one option is to lock us in our stupidity and evil and evolve the system forward so that we are forced to face them instead of avoid them.

          That creates a lot of suffering. The only way I can see this as being consistent with a tri-Omni god would be if you’re making the “best of all possible worlds” argument. Is that the argument you’re making? That there is no possible solution to our recalcitrance that involves less suffering? Another way to put it: this argument requires you believe that not even one person’s life would be made better by definitive proof of God. Not even one person would achieve salvation where they wouldn’t have before. Because if even one person’s life would be improved by non-hiddenness, then this is not the best possible world, and God’s choice of this strategy is malicious rather than benevolent.

          I’m confused; are you excluding the large number of people who call themselves Christians today?

          Yes. This particular aside was an argument over whether Jesus was rhetorically effective at making converts; whether he convinced a lot of people that saw him preach to convert. (Because one would think that a tri-Omni rhetorician would be immensely effective, swaying practically everyone who heard him speak). So yes, of course I’m not counting people living in 2017.

        • Why would a tri-Omni God need ‘other strategies?’ Is he incapable of making the preferred strategy work? Does he not know how to make his preferred strategy work?

          A tri-omni-god would need strategies if the desired goal is theosis. You would need some sort of rule-set. BTW, one strategy, laid out in wonderful computational detail, is The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature. Feel free to skip to the last two paragraphs.

          LB: So one option is to lock us in our stupidity and evil and evolve the system forward so that we are forced to face them instead of avoid them. This is what I think is going on here: [2 Thess 2:9–12]

          e: That creates a lot of suffering.

          You’re absolutely right. And yet, in your interactions with people, have you not observed that often they need to suffer quite a lot in order to be convinced that they’re wrong, or that something is true? Have you ever wondered how to make it so that people require less suffering to reject false beliefs and/or adopt true beliefs?

          The only way I can see this as being consistent with a tri-Omni god would be if you’re making the “best of all possible worlds” argument. Is that the argument you’re making? That there is no possible solution to our recalcitrance that involves less suffering?

          I don’t know, although I do have sympathy for Matthew Robert Adams’ Must God Create the Best?. It’s more that I’m not willing to say that the current configuration of personhood is necessarily evil that a good god would necessarily have done things better. No, in fact I believe that our very asking of “how things could have been done better” can spur us to do things better! But if we can actually accomplish said “better”—perhaps with God’s help, perhaps without—then isn’t that itself a good thing? And yet, it’s not clear that we would pursue such things, at least with as much vigor, were we not talking about what we think God ought to do.

          What I wish to ignite in people is a white-hot fire, of why humans are so dunder-headed. We love our just-so stories, as Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government makes blindingly clear. The smarter we are, the better we cling to our stories! We are much less interested in the truth than we pretend. Well, what the hell do we do about this? That is a question which burns in me. One reason I comment in places like this is I’m more likely to be properly criticized than if I spend time with “my own kind”. The same applies to atheists: if they only hang out with their own kind, they are less likely to be deeply questioned than if they wander out in the world and seek the best of the best to critique them and their ideas.

          Another way to put it: this argument requires you believe that not even one person’s life would be made better by definitive proof of God.

          Oh that’s easy:

          You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (James 2:19)

          God’s goodness cannot be proved in the way that a mathematical theorem can be proved, nor in the way that the mass of an electron can be measured. To detect God’s goodness requires having goodness; the instrument can only measure qualities which the instrument shares. Goodness exists in the realm of freedom, not in the realm of necessity. So to the extent that one can have “proof” that God exists, the demons have that proof. They’re still demons. (Yes, I recognize you won’t automagically accept this. I am merely saying that it is reasonable, and that is all which is required to rebut your argument with sufficient probability.)

          Because if even one person’s life would be improved by non-hiddenness, then this is not the best possible world, and God’s choice of this strategy is malicious rather than benevolent.

          Not everyone is convinced God is so hidden as you are. If God is a person instead of a force, he can easily choose to be less hidden to some and more hidden to others. And yes, I’m sure there are plenty of people who believe that it’s God with whom they are interacting when it is not. One need merely to read Mt 24:22–24.

          Yes. This particular aside was an argument over whether Jesus was rhetorically effective at making converts; whether he convinced a lot of people that saw him preach to convert.

          In that case, I direct you to this conversation:

          LB: I suspect your notion of personhood is terrible. Apparently, you seem to think that persons can just be convinced of anything with sufficient power and knowledge. There is no freedom in such a notion of personhood.

          Sorry to be so blunt, but I really do believe that. To believe like you [apparently] do correlates effectiveness of persuasion with truth/​goodness in the persuader and I think that is extremely dangerous.

        • So your God is not willing to try the same thing again and again and again for our sake? He loves us, but not that much, huh?

          Jesus said to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven. God can’t even do it once.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jesus said to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven. God can’t even do it once.

          But, but, but….YahwehJesus is God and Jesus one and the same. Which means that YahwehJesus is advising his followers to be insane, according to Luke’s often trotted out little trope.

          “The insane person does something over and over again, while expecting a different result.”

          Seriously though.

          It is erroneously attributed to Einstein…but ironically, regularly trotted out by Alcoholics Anonymous.

          Someone needs to tell Robert the Bruce (or William Edward Hickson, or whoever) that his, “try, try again” lesson is pure madness. Or perhaps not.

          Luke loves these wee moments of hyperbole and uses them without realising it’s probably, “the dumbest thing a smart person ever said.”.

          It’s a dumb thing to say because it is just plain wrong on so many levels. But perhaps there is an underlying reason why Luke trots it out on occasion….

          I’m not in the habit of slamming cute sayings (with one exception), but I think there’s a dark underbelly to this one. I’ve started hearing people use it in the service of avoidance, which is a defense mechanism. Rather than facing their fears, they grab on to this saying for protection against possible failure, pain or rejection.

          There is good reason why repeating the same thing over and over again with a view to achieving a different result. …Luke does it too, even if he can’t admit it. Heck, we’ve seen him do it here.

          Let’s not confuse perseveration with perseverance. A persistent quest against a fear or toward a goal is often the best course of action. Repeating the same constructive behavior over and over, hoping (one day) for a positive result is difficult but virtuous.

          So Luke Breuer is talking bubbles again.

          So how do you tell the difference? Perseveration feels compulsive, hopeless, helpless, automatic and unsatisfying. There is a desire to stop, but stopping doesn’t feel like an option. Perseverance feels like striving toward a noble goal, and whether or not it’s reached it there is virtue in the effort.

          Perseverance is a strong, valuable quality. Perseveration is a troubling issue needing clinical attention. Don’t let a quaint saying blur this distinction.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/200907/the-definition-insanity-is

        • Steven Watson

          I think you fail to understand your own ‘scripture’.

        • You are welcome to rationally explain your point. As it is, I have nothing to go on, other than to trust you, and you’ve provided zero reason to trust you.

        • Steven Watson

          You arrived with an attempted derail; I don’t know why you are being indulged: I won’t lend you the oxygen but fell free to check out Diqus.

        • Is this how you manage to avoid rationally defending your claims?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah…he just prefers one interpretation out of the many available…nothing unusual in that tactic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jesus did make that argument in person.

          Nope. Some folk have said he made that argument. Hearsay is not the same thing.

          General Ned Ludd led the Luddite Movement in the destruction of weaving looms in the 19th century and Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave the spoils to the poor.

          He was crucified for doing so.

          Nope…just more hearsay. You don’t believe everything you read, why this?

          But according to the hearsay in the gospels, the main charge against Jesus was that he claimed to be the king of the Jews. The Roman soldiers were mocking this idea when they dressed him in a purple robe and pressed a crown of thorns onto his head. This was also the charge written on the sign at the top of the cross.

        • Steven Watson

          I don’t think that as a frequenter of druid/pagan spaces Paul likely espouses faith in the Xtian god.

  • Having a relationship with God is like having a relationship with a woman that doesn’t exist.

  • Sastra

    I’ve watched a couple episodes of the Dr. Phil show which involved relatives bringing in family members who had fallen deeply in love with strangers on the internet — strangers who appealed for, and received, substantial sums of cash from their “beloved.” All the warning flags for it being a scam were there, and the psychologist even provided the results of his research, which was, of course, damning.

    And yet the men and women being conned kept coming up with excuses, explanations, and, eventually, assertions that they just knew the other person was who and what they said they were. It wasn’t a con. They could tell it wasn’t because their love was so real.

    It sounded much like religious apologetics, and defenses we’ve heard involving Love. It took a Hell of a lot for the catfish victims to admit error, and I suspect without the forum and its ‘confession-absolution in front of a camera’ template the evidence alone wouldn’t have made a dent. Love is patient, love is kind, love is blind.

    It seems to me that any theist making the argument that a God which revealed itself clearly could not evoke the deepest, most sincere love would have to admire the form of love the unfortunate guests on Dr. Phil felt for their Nigerian Princes, deeming it more “real” than what people can feel for people whose existence nobody doubts. But I suspect that these theists would instead agree that the victims were in love with love, and something was seriously wrong with the capacity to form such strong attachments from such meager evidence.

    • Jim Jones

      At least there’s a real person at the other end, even if they are a vicious criminal. Jesus? Still doesn’t answer his email.

      • Phil Rimmer

        But, at least his self-styled friends will cash your cheque for him. You can have the confidence of knowing that it is winging its way heaven-wards… if only as a Lear Jet.

      • Kevin K

        Well, other people answer it for him. They’re his friends, you see, and they’ll relay the message on to Jesus…as long as you keep giving them 10% of your paycheck every week.

  • TheNuszAbides

    not necessarily relevant but highly recommended:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Bites_Dog_(film)

  • Chuck Johnson

    Bob:
    “Church father Augustine said, “Seek not to understand so you may believe, but believe so you may understand.”

    Chuck:
    This is good scientific practice, but only when coupled with skepticism and reliable knowledge of the subject matter.
    As in “a thought experiment”.

    http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/papers/Chasing.pdf

  • paul

    Apologies all around I am headed out to find the Druid posts where I at first thought I was. Thanks for understanding. 🙂

  • GubbaBumpkin

    physicist and priest John Polkinghorne

    Proof that smart people can be stupid.

    • MNb

      “God’s act of creation would not only have involved a divine kenosis of omnipotence, resulting from allowing a creaturely other truly to be itself, but also a divine kenosis of omniscience, arising from allowing the future to be truly open.”

      http://blog.case.edu/singham/2009/07/01/why_people_believe_in_god2_when_good_physicists_get_theology

      • TheNuszAbides

        that’s some pungent cheese. glad M.S. hooked up with ftb.

    • Chuck Johnson

      GubbaBumpkin:
      “Proof that smart people can be stupid.”

      Chuck:
      He’s not insightful enough to look for God in psychology, sociology, anthropology, neurology etc.
      He thinks that particle physics is the place to look.

      Valerie Tarico:

      https://www.youtube.com/user/TrustingDoubt

    • RichardSRussell

      “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

      —Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptic Society, Why People Believe Weird Things (2002)

  • Ficino

    Sorry, Bob, you just fail to understand Manti Te’O’s argument that if his girlfriend didn’t exist, football wouldn’t exist. /s

    Good analogy. Adding: I mean Your analogy of the fake girlfriend and the fake god!

  • But I’m “forced” to accept the existence of new people and new things all the time. That’s reality. No one considers that an imposition.

    Is your conscience forced this way and that? Or does it have some sort of … freedom? Haven’t atheists long struggled to gain freedom in some area of their being, freedom from alleged religious totalitarianism? (I say “alleged” because I have read that the mental totalitarianism under Communist rule in Russia was much worse than what the Roman Catholics managed to pull off. I haven’t investigated this matter thoroughly.)

    • eric

      Yes, my conscience is forced this way and that when I confront other people’s opinions and we exchange ideas. And that’s a good thing; it makes me better as a person. Wasn’t Jesus’ works on Earth kinda similar, in that he sought to change the minds and the consciences of the people around him? To force (through argument and rhetoric) the Pharisees to reconsider their legalism, and so on?

      So why wouldn’t it be a good thing for God to do that with us? Why not a Jesus for every generation? Why not Jesi for every language, every continent?

      Since God did have that sort of contact with humans once, and Christians consider such direct teachings to be a good thing, then how can any Christian claim it would be a bad or metaphysically impossible thing to do now?

      • And that’s a good thing; it makes me better as a person.

        Why is it biased toward making you a better person? It’s just the impersonal laws/​forces of nature doing their thing. Isn’t there a lot of evil (= unnecessary suffering) in evolution? And we’re products of evolution. If two wrongs don’t make a right, surely many wrongs don’t make a right.

        Wasn’t Jesus’ works on Earth kinda similar, in that he sought to change the minds and the consciences of the people around him?

        Yes, but he believed there were more than just impersonal laws/​forces of nature at work. That made all the difference; without that, this would make no sense whatsoever:

        So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (John 5:19–20)

        Supposing that God amplifies actions that are in accordance with his will, one has to have sufficient lack of mixing of opposed will and be sufficiently aware of the possibility of amplification. Jesus was the perfect antenna or resonator, as it were.

        Wasn’t Jesus’ works on Earth kinda similar, in that he sought to change the minds and the consciences of the people around him? To force (through argument and rhetoric) the Pharisees to reconsider their legalism, and so on?

        Were they “force[d]” to reconsider anything? Some certainly reconsidered, but it is not at all clear from the text that all reconsidered.

         
        There was enough in your first paragraph that I’m going to stop here for now.

        • eric

          Isn’t there a lot of evil (= unnecessary suffering) in evolution?

          Yes. But the TOE does not claim a guiding force interested in preventing human suffering, so this is not a valid criticism of the theory

          Your other comments are nonsensical in a similar vein. You seem to be arguing that God wouldn’t come down and help us and Jesus’ actions make no sense if naturalism or atheistic determinism were true. Okay…so what? It’s not naturalism that has a theodicy problem. It’s not naturalism that has a hidden God problem. Christian theology has those problems; it is in the context of the claim that a loving all-powerful God exists that hiddenness makes no sense. So it is in that context that you must make sense of suffering and hiddenness, if you want to convince us that divine hiddenness makes sense.

          And sorry, but Jesus-as-hypothetical-antenna doesn’t do it, as far as I can see. God is still hidden, your proposed use of Jesus as antenna fails to explain why God is hidden, and also still fails to justify the eternal suffering of all those who go unsaved because of such hiddenness.

        • But the TOE does not claim a guiding force interested in preventing human suffering, so this is not a valid criticism of the theory

          I was not criticizing evolution.

          You seem to be arguing that God wouldn’t come down and help us and Jesus’ actions make no sense if naturalism or atheistic determinism were true.

          No.

          It’s not naturalism that has a theodicy problem.

          I did not claim it does. I simply said that naturalism has a problem explaining how the following two things could be simultaneously true:

               (A) Humans can become more good.
               (B) Nature has a tremendous amount of bad.

          Now, you can always reverse that bite of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just declare “good v. evil” as a meaningless dichotomy, an invalid way to slice reality in two. Follow Pope: “Whatever IS, is RIGHT”.

          So it is in that context that you must make sense of suffering and hiddenness, if you want to convince us that divine hiddenness makes sense.

          You fail to realize that if you make a criticism of Christianity, you bind yourself to whatever logic is involved in that criticism. You don’t get to use a different system of logic on Christianity than your own beliefs. Different evidence maybe, different interpretation of the evidence yes, but not different logic.

          And sorry, but Jesus-as-hypothetical-antenna doesn’t do it, as far as I can see. God is still hidden …

          I’m sorry, did I state or logically entail that God is not hidden [to you]?

          Your other comments are nonsensical in a similar vein.

          Your reading comprehension, or lack thereof, may have something to do with this. Or it could be 100% my fault. Perhaps the latter is your default judgment?

        • Greg G.

          I did not claim it does. I simply said that naturalism has a problem explaining how the following two things could be simultaneously true:

          (A) Humans can become more good.
          (B) Nature has a tremendous amount of bad.

          Whatever humans happen to be would be considered good by humans. What is so hard about that?

        • TheNuszAbides

          isn’t Luke essentially OEC? no matter how ‘accepting’ he is of evolution nowadays, isn’t it still in his mind a choice/design imposed by SuperThing[s]? i.e. it’s hard because it’s distasteful to wrestle with the filthy concept that there is not and never has been an over-arching, quasi-externalized, personified guiding force/ideal to which we can twig in order to be ~saved~.

        • Greg G.

          isn’t Luke essentially OEC?

          I think so. He still doesn’t quite grasp evolution.

        • eric

          I simply said that naturalism has a problem explaining how the following two things could be simultaneously true:

          (A) Humans can become more good.
          (B) Nature has a tremendous amount of bad.

          Steve Pinker wrote a whole book explaining this, I recommend it. But the very short summary is that humans have, over time, learned how to better build societies that reduce our suffering as measured by things like murder rate etc. And there is no problem at all understanding how that can be true while lions and germs go about killing other animals with abandon, because they aren’t humans.

          You fail to realize that if you make a criticism of Christianity, you bind yourself to whatever logic is involved in that criticism.

          No, I don’t, any more than a critic of communism must accept Marx’s premises before arguing about it. In fact it greatly undermines the notion that Christianity makes sense to claim that we must first bind ourselves to Christian logic before we can critique it, because that sort of implies Christianity makes no sense to those who don’t bind themselves to Christian logic.

          I can of course accept some Christian premises for sake of argument, if the situation calls for it. But I could instead choose to argue that a premise make no sense, or that some premise is inconsistent with observation, or that several Christian premises appear to not be consistent with each other. In this case, divine hiddenness appears inconsistent with a claim that God loves us and wants us to be saved, and you haven’t given any cogent counter-argument against that point. Though if you want to tell me that divine hiddenness only makes sense if I first bind myself to Christian logic, then I will agree; that does seem to be the only way the notion makes sense to people.

          So, care to try again? How does ‘forcing our consciences’ prevent God from coming down and talking to us exactly like Christians claim God already did?

        • Steve Pinker wrote a whole book explaining this, I recommend it. But the very short summary is that humans have, over time, learned how to better build societies that reduce our suffering as measured by things like murder rate etc. And there is no problem at all understanding how that can be true while lions and germs go about killing other animals with abandon, because they aren’t humans.

          I’d love to see how Steven Pinker does with stuff like WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism. Not all of the terrible that humans do to other humans is physical violence. Good grief; in middle school I learned that no matter what the official rules were, my peers could discover ways to be awful to me. Anyone who thinks that you grow out of this automagically is deluding himself/​herself and is part of the problem.

          As I said before, if two wrongs don’t make a right, then many wrongs don’t make a right. It’s simple logic. If we got “right” out of evolution, then by that reasoning, evolution isn’t so “wrong” as is often indicated in evolutionary arguments for evil (which allegedly disprove a tri-omni-god).

          No, I don’t, any more than a critic of communism must accept Marx’s premises before arguing about it.

          Very often, when you criticize a system, you use more than just its premises and its logic. You bring additional premises and/or different logic to play. I am targeting the “additional premises and/or different logic”. I get that you do not accept the premises of Christianity. I’m not an idiot.

          Though if you want to tell me that divine hiddenness only makes sense if I first bind myself to Christian logic …

          No, I do not want to do that.

          So, care to try again? How does ‘forcing our consciences’ prevent God from coming down and talking to us exactly like Christians claim God already did?

          The funny thing is that you seem to think that that would work. You just seem to have zero doubt in your mind, as if you believe based on dogma instead of the empirical evidence. Jesus came. He was crucified. You somehow think that coming again, and being crucified again, would help anything. I want to know why, and whether that believe is based on a single shred of empirical evidence.

        • eric

          The funny thing is that you seem to think that that would work. You just seem to have zero doubt in your mind…

          Yes LOL, I have little doubt in my mind that an omnipotent and omniscient being could convince me He exists, if He wanted to. Else, he’s not very Omni, is he?

          But the argument doesn’t rest on that. The argument rests on the point that if God loved us, he would try try again. Others have even quoted biblical verses supporting this notion.

          You somehow think that coming again, and being crucified again, would help anything. I want to know why, and whether that believe is based on a single shred of empirical evidence.

          If you put me in the position of doubting Thomas and let me stick my fingers through a bloody hand, let me measure brain activity as dead and watch the flesh mortify for three days and have him then get back up, let me see how Jesus’s pulse is going strong yet no blood is flowing out of his big wounds, then I’d certainly reconsider my nonbelief.

          But heck, I certainly wouldn’t demand crucifixion. I’d be just as happy if the empirical evidence provided included raising other people from the dead, curing incurable cancers on demand, walking across water, and so on. Jesus can then live a long and happy life as far as I’m concerned. In fact, if the dude can cure cancer with a touch I’d join together with thousands of people to protect him and ensure he *did* live a long life, because I’d want him to save as many people as possible.

          I’m quite surprised that you think we would ignore such evidence. To be sure, I’d need credible, reproducible evidence of physics-breaking miracles before I believed physics-breaking miracles occurred. But give me that, and I’m perfectly happy to provisionally accept that physics-breaking miracles occur. Keep in mind the scientific community was happy to accept “a single particle goes through two parallel holes simultaneously” when given evidence this was so. Accepting “this dude can heal cancers with a touch” given evidence really isn’t that much more of a stretch…provided we are given credible reproducible evidence of that faith healing.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Yes LOL, I have little doubt in my mind that an omnipotent and omniscient being could convince me He exists, if He wanted to. Else, he’s not very Omni, is he?

          Whenever this question pops up, of “could (g)God(s) explain (t)him(emselves) to us without destroying our minds/free will, I paste the link to this essay:

          http://www.fullmoon.nu/articles/art.php?id=tal

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or Clarke’s Third Law….

          “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          cracking good read! way less woo than Walsch, thus even more edifying/inspiring.

        • Paul B. Lot

          There are some plot….thinnesses. And it’s a bit hyper-active-Star-Trek-watcher in some of the tone of it…..

          But it paints a fairly plausible scenario, to my mind, of how I can imagine being personally, no-coercively, convinced.

        • TheNuszAbides

          a bit hyper-active-Star-Trek-watcher

          i only got a flashback to playing Master of Orion 2.

        • Yes LOL, I have little doubt in my mind that an omnipotent and omniscient being could convince me He exists, if He wanted to. Else, he’s not very Omni, is he?

          I suspect your notion of personhood is terrible. Apparently, you seem to think that persons can just be convinced of anything with sufficient power and knowledge. There is no freedom in such a notion of personhood.

          But the argument doesn’t rest on that. The argument rests on the point that if God loved us, he would try try again. Others have even quoted biblical verses supporting this notion.

          You’re welcome to point out to said “Others”. But in terms of trying again, who says he isn’t trying? You just seem to not like any of the ways he might be trying. In saying this, you presume that you could not have possibly closed yourself off to God by your own choices, perhaps greatly aided by how you have been socialized. And so you deny your freedom again. Just like Adam & Eve did, when they chose to give up agency by attributing their actions to the serpent. “He made me do it!”

          If you put me in the position of doubting Thomas and let me stick my fingers through a bloody hand, let me measure brain activity as dead and watch the flesh mortify for three days and have him then get back up, let me see how Jesus’s pulse is going strong yet no blood is flowing out of his big wounds, then I’d certainly reconsider my nonbelief.

          I’ve seen the Star Trek VOY episode Mortal Coil. Are you sufficiently confident that the revival technology which Species 149 developed is impossible in our reality?

          But heck, I certainly wouldn’t demand crucifixion. I’d be just as happy if the empirical evidence provided included raising other people from the dead, curing incurable cancers on demand, walking across water, and so on. Jesus can then live a long and happy life as far as I’m concerned. In fact, if the dude can cure cancer with a touch I’d join together with thousands of people to protect him and ensure he *did* live a long life, because I’d want him to save as many people as possible.

          Interesting. So if I told you how to help make science more effective so that more people could be saved, would you then work with me to do so? Here is some scholarly work I’m slowly working through:

               • Between Understanding and Trust: The Public, Science and Technology
               • The Changing Role of the Public Intellectual
               • The Public Intellectual: Between Philosophy and Politics
               • Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline

          Michael Specter, author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives, gave a talk at UCSF on 2017-03-15. He seemed to have almost no understanding of any of the above scholarly and scientific work. Perhaps you would be? I mean, if you’d “join together with thousands of people to protect [Jesus]”, surely you’d do work to make science more effective?

          Here’s another idea. I know a sociologist who has a postdoctoral student who wants to study how scientists use scientific papers. Nobody has actually done an extensive study of this. He needs $300,000 for two years of research. He’s having trouble getting funding because don’t we already know such basic things? Why do science when we obviously already know? And yet, surely you will agree with me that better understanding on this matter could profoundly improve science? Perhaps you would be willing to join with me in trying to raise funding for this postdoc? It’d go directly to a UC university (not through me) and be earmarked for him, so nothing shady could plausibly be going on.

          But wait. I’m supposed to be the idiot religious dunderhead who knows jack about science and is making the world a worse place. So is all/​most of the above just stupidly wrong?

          I’m quite surprised that you think we would ignore such evidence.

          Good, because I have not ignored it. Instead, I question how you would interpret it.

          To be sure, I’d need credible, reproducible evidence of physics-breaking miracles before I believed physics-breaking miracles occurred.

          In other words: you’d be shown new, deeper laws of physics. You’d still be convinced that at the most foundational level, the only causal powers are impersonal forces of nature. At least, this is how things appear to me.

          By the way, I know someone who is looking into deeper laws of physics. For example, how exactly does an electron transition from one energy level to another? According to standard physics dogma, that’s a disallowed question. One is trying to peek into the Holy of Holies; that is not allowed. But what if there are geometrical/​topological structures for describing this? What if current QFT is merely a statistical approximation of what lies underneath, as David Bohm suggested:

              The assumption that any particular kind of fluctuations are arbitrary and lawless relative to all possible contexts, like the similar assumption that there exists an absolute and final determinate law, is therefore evidently not capable of being based on any experimental or theoretical developments arising out of specific scientific problems, but it is instead a purely philosophical assumption. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 44)

          ? But wait. I’m supposed to be the idiot religious dunderhead who knows jack about science and is making the world a worse place. So is all/​most of the above just stupidly wrong?

        • Paul B. Lot

          For example, how exactly does an electron transition from one energy level to another? According to standard physics dogma, that’s a disallowed question. One is trying to peek into the Holy of Holies; that is not allowed. But what if there are geometrical/​topological structures for describing this? What if current QFT is merely a statistical approximation of what lies underneath, as David Bohm suggested….But wait. I’m supposed to be the idiot religious dunderhead who knows jack about science and is making the world a worse place. So is all/​most of the above just stupidly wrong?

          Lol, wut?

          You are not an “idiot” in the pure, general, sense – indeed you are quite clever in some ways, and certainly have a better facility/obsessiveness for online hyperlinked discussion.

          But “disallowed question”? Hahaha

        • eric

          My ‘notion of personhood’ has nothing to do with it. You challenged me to come up with evidence that could change my mind, and I gave it. That leaves little doubt in my mind that I could be convinced by evidence.

          But in terms of trying again, who says he isn’t trying?

          Omnipotence says he isn’t trying, else he’d succeed.

          You have an extremely truncated view of God’s power. Evidently he has less ability to get my attention than my cell phone. Evidently he can’t even send a text message to me on my cellphone.

          I’ve seen the Star Trek VOY episode Mortal Coil. Are you sufficiently confident that the revival technology which Species 149 developed is impossible in our reality?

          You’re not listening. I said I’d reconsider my nonbelief given reproducible credible evidence. That is completely true. Would I wholeheartedly convert first instance? No, of course not. Of course I would be skeptical of some high-tech trick. You test once, then test again. Then develop independent tests of the same hypothesis. Over and over again. And eventually you provisionally accept the hypothesis best supported by the evidence.

          Look, we already have an historical example of this happening; the big bang theory. Secular scientists initially rejected it due in part to it’s religious trappings. But the evidence kept rolling in, and the community flipped. I vaguely recall the acceptance of meteorites happened the same way; the learned secular scientific authorities initially rejected the notion of rocks falling from the sky as folk tale nonsense. But the evidence built up, and they changed their position.

          if you’d “join together with thousands of people to protect [Jesus]”, surely you’d do work to make science more effective?

          I would love to make science more effective. But I have a day job and a kid and you’re not a miracle-working Jesus. So no, I probably can’t help you raise $300,000 to pay for your sociologist friend’s research. Nor am I a sociologist, so my review or opinion of his grant proposals probably wouldn’t count for squat. But I wish him the best.

          how exactly does an electron transition from one energy level to another? According to standard physics dogma, that’s a disallowed question.

          I must agree with Paul B. here; I’m not even sure how to make sense of this claim. What gave you the impression that the ‘how’ of transitions is a disallowed question? Perhaps you read something about forbidden transitions and got confused? “Forbidden transitions” are essentially non-solutions to a quantum mechanical wave equation. It is the QM equivalent of pointing out that an object on the trajectory y=x^2 never arrives at the point (5,5). Admittedly, the name sounds a lot more ominous than just saying “that won’t happen because the math” but that’s basically what it is. The concept has nothing to do with any normative rule about what scientists can or cannot study.

        • [1] My ‘notion of personhood’ has nothing to do with it. [2] You challenged me to come up with evidence that could change my mind, and I gave it. That leaves little doubt in my mind that I could be convinced by evidence.

          [1] I’m sorry, but I’m not satisfied. If your stance is that a perfect world would have God convincing just about everyone that he is good and true, I take issue with that. Fundamental issue. Indeed, I would be tempted to describe such an existence as “totalitarian”. There are complications, such as “Well then what is heaven like?”, but I prefer to test such things in the here and now, rather than hastily moving away from an ill-understood regime to an even more ill-understood regime.

          [2] You haven’t said exactly what the evidence would convince you of. See Mt 24:22–24, see the Star Trek TNG episode Devil’s Due, see V (2009 TV series). In my view, powergoodness. Period.

          Omnipotence says he isn’t trying, else he’d succeed.

          You and I appear to have very different understandings of power. I see it as effectiveness in serving; you seem to view it as effectiveness in dominating. Feel free to correct any mis-perceptions I have; I don’t want to believe that you hold the position you seem to me to hold.

          You have an extremely truncated view of God’s power. Evidently he has less ability to get my attention than my cell phone. Evidently he can’t even send a text message to me on my cellphone.

          You conflate “ability” with “accomplishes his purposes”.

          You’re not listening. I said I’d reconsider my nonbelief given reproducible credible evidence. That is completely true.

          Actually, I’m listening just fine. I’m being skeptical that you would interpret the evidence as indicating that “God is good”. So far, you have done nothing to dissuade me from that suspicion. Indeed, you seem rather convinced that either “God is evil”, or “God does not exist”, or something else that fits right in with my understanding of your position. Feel free to provide disruptive evidence. 🙂

          Look, we already have an historical example of this happening; the big bang theory. Secular scientists initially rejected it due in part to it’s religious trappings. But the evidence kept rolling in, and the community flipped.

          The big bang theory does not tell you to love your enemy.

          I would love to make science more effective. But I have a day job and a kid and you’re not a miracle-working Jesus. So no, I probably can’t help you raise $300,000 to pay for your sociologist friend’s research. Nor am I a sociologist, so my review or opinion of his grant proposals probably wouldn’t count for squat. But I wish him the best.

          You believe you have that little power, huh? Better to spend the time arguing on the internet? Clearly you do have a bit of time.

          I must agree with Paul B. here; I’m not even sure how to make sense of this claim. What gave you the impression that the ‘how’ of transitions is a disallowed question? Perhaps you read something about forbidden transitions and got confused? “Forbidden transitions” are essentially non-solutions to a quantum mechanical wave equation.

          Here’s an analogy. QM tells you something like the frames in a movie: discrete time-points where you have so much resolution about various features of reality. What QM doesn’t tell you is what happens between one frame and the next. For all QM knows, the state “jumps” from one frame to the next. Another way to say this is that a particle can take all possible paths between one frame and the next. But that’s the same as saying that you have absolutely no idea how it gets from one frame to the next.

          More directly, what QM cannot describe is a continuous deformation of some geometrical/​topological structure from one energy state in an atom to another energy state in that atom. It can tell you that absorption of the right frequency photon will cause a jump in energy, but that is different from describing intermediate states of the transition from one energy level to the next.

          The rub comes when you realize that quite a lot of scientists think that QM is reality—not just that it is an approximation of reality. Sean Carroll seems to think this (see his FQXi talk “Fluctuations in de Sitter Space”), and Ilya Prigogine confirms the statistical characterization:

              Nearly two hundred years ago, Joseph-Louis Lagrange described analytical mechanics based on Newton’s laws as a branch of mathematics.[33] In the French scientific literature, one often speaks of “rational mechanics.” In this sense, Newton’s laws would define the laws of reason and represent a truth of absolute generality. Since the birth of quantum mechanics and relativity, we know that this is not the case. The temptation is now strong to ascribe a similar status of absolute truth to quantum theory. In The Quark and the Jaguar, Gell-Mann asserts, “Quantum mechanics is not itself a theory; rather it is the framework into which all contemporary physical theory must fit.”[34] Is this really so? As stated by my late friend Léon Rosenfeld, “Every theory is based on physical concepts expressed through mathematical idealizations. They are introduced to give an adequate representation of the physical phenomena. No physical concept is sufficiently defined without the knowledge of its domain of validity.“[35] (The End of Certainty, 28–29)

          This is how you get “science dogma”. People mistake the picture of reality for reality. They forget that Ceci n’est pas une pipe. Or do you think that Max Planck was full of crap when he said:

          A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

          ?

        • eric

          If your stance is that a perfect world would have God convincing just about everyone that he is good and true, I take issue with that. I take issue with that. Fundamental issue. Indeed, I would be tempted to describe such an existence as “totalitarian”.

          How is it totalitarian to convince us that he exists? And if it is, how do you excuse all the biblical stories of God using miracles to convince people he exists?

          Look, nonbelievers aren’t asking for any more than what your bible claims he has done in the past. So either you’re saying he was totalitarian in the past, or it isn’t totalitarian to do this and your defense of hiddenness falls apart.

          you seem to view it [power] as effectiveness in dominating. Feel free to correct any mis-perceptions I have

          Well I’ve tried twice and you keep getting my position wrong, but I’ll try again. This is very simple. I’m not talking about tri-omni power used for coercion. I’m talking about using it to know exactly what to say and how to say it to lead people to his truth. I’m talking about using it to work many of the miracles your bible claims he already worked – like resurrecting people or walking on water – only reproducibly in front of modern cameras. That’s all. No mind control. No domination.

          Now as far as I can tell, we seem to disagree here in two ways. I think a “perfect speaker” would be able to convince many non-Christians to become Christian – not through force, not through domination, but just by being better at explaining everything than humans are. Thus I think God coming down here and being that perfect speaker would save souls. Second, I think working empirically confirmed and reproducible miracles would also convince many non-Christians to become Christian. Both of these considerations lead me to the conclusion that hiddenness makes no sense, and contribute to my belief that ‘hiddenness’ simply means nothing is there.

          You, OTOH, seem to claim that neither of these efforts would do any good at all. No additional saved souls. Nobody will listen, you say, because we already don’t listen. That seems ridiculous to me. But maybe this is a fundamental disagreement on which we much just agree to disagree. To you, he’s hidden because no Saul->Paul intervention could ever work (now…even though it worked before). To me, this makes no sense; your own bible has stories of this sort of evidence working, and what’s more, it seems pretty obvious to me that regular people would pay attention and change their minds if humans started rising from the dead on some guy’s command.

          I’m being skeptical that you would interpret the evidence as indicating that “God is good”.

          One thing at at time. Are you skeptical that I would interpret the evidence as indicating there is such a being that calls itself God and can work miracles?

          what QM cannot describe is a continuous deformation of some geometrical/​topological structure from one energy state in an atom to another energy state in that atom.

          What are you talking about? There are probably hundreds of papers describing research into shape deformation of nuclei. As far as I know, nobody is claiming these results are inconsistent with QM or “disallowed” topics in science.

          Moreover, AFAIK physicists generally accept that all real world QM functions are continuous. They sometimes use discontinuous functions as approximations because it’s easier (examples: step functions, delta functions), but that’s it. So QM does describe continuous actions such as deformation. We humans don’t always know the exact solution, but nobody is going around claiming there isn’t one and humans are forbidden from researching it. That’s just bollocks.

          And neither of your quotes are at all relevant to your claim that scientists are disallowed from researching how electrons transition. They are complete non-sequiturs to that claim. Your claim that electron transition questions are disallowed in science is, as far as I can tell, something you wholly made up or drastically misunderstood.

        • Instead of fisking, I think this is the crux of our disagreement:

          Now as far as I can tell, we seem to disagree here in two ways. I think a “perfect speaker” would be able to convince many non-Christians to become Christian – not through force, not through domination, but just by being better at explaining everything than humans are.

          You seem to think that will just isn’t a major factor. There are two categories:

               (1) evil will
               (2) little to no will

          One might say that the root of all sin is not only pride, but also apathy. One might even suggest that Adam & Eve’s response to YHWH after they ate of the Tree was a superposition of these:

          (1) We know that we did the stupid thing, but we don’t want to admit it. Therefore, we’re going to blame the serpent; please punish it, and then we can go free, just like we were before.

          (2) We were completely innocent and merely trusted the serpent. It’s not like we had a will such that we could choose the evil over the good or the good over evil. We were children, just doing as we were told! Please don’t punish us.

          Both of these options deny that YHWH gave them “better knowledge”, against which they transgressed. The problem here is not clarity of communication! It is anything but clarity of communication. You just don’t seem to have space in your thinking for this option accounting for a vast amount of the evidence.

          Second, I think working empirically confirmed and reproducible miracles would also convince many non-Christians to become Christian.

          Mt 24:22–25

          You, OTOH, seem to claim that neither of these efforts would do any good at all. No additional saved souls.

          Not quite. Isaiah 29:11–14 and 1 Cor 4:19–20 straddle the chasm between us. What the Bible suggests as a whole, IMO, is that the arrogance of man—”We can do everything ourselves; we don’t need God!”—sometimes requires empirical evidence. What is that empirical evidence? Well, what happens when God removes his presence and power, of course! Now, this isn’t to say that his presence is completely removed; I like the notion advanced by William P. Young in The Shack that God can be arbitrarily present to those who are suffering. But for the lesson to be learned by empirical evidence, God must not be detectably present to the humans who think they are awesome. Or have I made an error in logic?

          Nobody will listen, you say, because we already don’t listen. That seems ridiculous to me.

          Right now, we don’t even listen to our own priests scientists. About matters much more basic than God’s existence or what it means to be a good human. This wasn’t always the case. Much in history is cyclic (or spiral/​helical). What worked in one stage doesn’t necessarily work in the next. For God to always act the same way would be for him to be a force of nature, not a person.

           
          I can return to the rest of your comment after we’ve made some progress on the above.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The argument rests on the point that if God loved us, he would try try again.

          It’s the very least that would happen.

          But it is a lot simpler that that. A god that exists with the attributes of YahwehJesus doesn’t. An omniscient god knows what evidence is convincing. An omnipotent god can do whatever it takes. An omnibenevolent god would have already done it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m quite surprised that you think we would ignore such evidence.

          The chance would be a fine thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just out of curiosity, what suffering in evolution is unnecessary?

        • I am told it is by certain atheists. I am tentatively believing them for the sake of argument. If the atheists to whom I am speaking does not believe that there is a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering in evolution, then I will not use it in discussion with that atheist. Not all atheists believe the same thing, you know.

        • Greg G.

          Evolution is not a benevolent, omnipotent being. The argument only works against a being that is said to be both benevolent and extremely potent.

          Unnecessary suffering is compatible with a weak benevolent god. Unnecessary suffering is compatible with a malevolent powerful god. Unnecessary suffering is compatible with no god.

          But unnecessary suffering is not compatible with a loving omnipotence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am told it is by certain atheists. I am tentatively believing them for the sake of argument.

          Which atheist’s? The straw man kind?

          Whatever provides an evolutionary advantage by definition is not unnecessary for that advantage.

          If the atheists to whom I am speaking does not believe that there is a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering in evolution, then I will not use it in discussion with that atheist.

          The PoE is not an issue of evolution. The excessive suffering that abounds in the world has nothing to do with evolution.

          The problem of evil refers to the challenge of reconciling belief in an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, with the existence of evil and suffering in the world. The problem may be described either experientially or theoretically. The experiential problem is the difficulty in believing in a concept of loving God when confronted by suffering or evil in the real world, such as from epidemics, or wars, or murder, or rape or terror attacks wherein innocent children, women, men or a loved one becomes a victim. The problem of evil is also a theoretical one, usually described and studied by religion scholars in two varieties: the logical problem and the evidential problem.

          So I ask again, what suffering is unnecessary in evolution?

          Not all atheists believe the same thing, you know.

          Glad you understand this, most of the theist’s we engage with have difficulties grasping the concept.

        • Greg G.

          Which atheist’s? The straw man kind?

          I think he is talking about yours truly.

          His whole belief system relies on him not understanding the Problem of Suffering. WL Craig has multiple degrees but has trouble stating the Problem of Evil.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so when those certain atheists told you the question “[is] disallowed”, did they actually use the words “according to standard physics dogma”, or perhaps a phrase closer to “standard physics”?

    • You’re changing the subject. Again.

      Do you understand the Christian objection I mention and how I see it as missing the point?

      • You’re changing the subject. Again.

        I’m requiring your logic to apply everywhere. If you apply it “on-topic” and it seems like a legit criticism, but when I apply it “off-topic” to something you have committed to yourself and it breaks your stance over there, then it immediately becomes “on-topic”. Unless you simply don’t claim to be a consistent person? As I said to someone else today: you don’t get a separate system of logic that you get to apply to Christians. The same logic also applies to your own position. If it can’t take the heat, maybe the logic is bad.

        Do you understand the Christian objection I mention and how I see it as missing the point?

        I think you want God to do something to people which is widely considered to be an abomination when people do it to each other. I think this is a major problem with your stance. Unless you are 100% A-OK with science which learns how to manipulate people’s consciences at will?

        • MNb

          It’s just that you don’t apply BobS’ logic anywhere.

        • adam

          “I think you want God to do something to people which is widely considered to be an abomination when people do it to each other. ”

          Who WANTS God to be the psychopathic mass murderer as it is described in it’s bible?

          I mean besides other psychopaths……

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f6edead041781202f80c75d015d387e6cc53a861b9cb5dd846e0f4dd40a5805a.jpg

        • If you change the subject, is that because you’re conceding the previous point? You don’t tell us. All I conclude is, “Well, I don’t want to talk about that, but I do feel confident in this other area.” I don’t even know if I need to go back and re-explain the previous point because you’re saying that you didn’t understand.

        • I think I was quite clear in what I’m doing. You don’t get special logic for yourself that renders your position defensible, and other logic which you get to use to tear down your opponent’s position. If your acid eats away your own position as well, so much the worse for your acid.

        • Susan

          I think I was quite clear in what I’m doing.

          You always are Luke Breuer.

          All I conclude is , “Well, I don’t want to talk about that, but I do feel confident in this other area.”

          Don’t you hate when people do that?

          You don’t get special logic for yourself.

          There is no special logic. If evolutionary theory describes a model that involves fragile biological beings in a universe ruled by physics, that is one thing.

          If it was a method that a sufficiently potent moral agent pulled out its metaphysical arse, that is another.

          The difference is that the theist claims a moral agent with sufficient power. Not only without a model nor evidence to support that model but with huge moral problems to address.

          If I torture a baby to death, that is one thing. If cancer tortures a baby to death, that is another.

          I did not create cancer. You imaginary Yahwejesus is said to have created everything. . That is a problem for your position.

          If your acid eats away your own position as well, so much the worse for your acid.

          Yep. Your acid isn’t doing you much good.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is no special logic. If evolutionary theory describes a model that involves fragile biological beings in a universe ruled by physics, that is one thing.

          If it was a method that a sufficiently potent moral agent pulled out its metaphysical arse, that is another.

          Luke can’t grasp this important bit of the argument from unnecessary suffering.

          Take the sheep nose bot fly for one of countless examples…

          This little mind-ruiner is the sheep nose bot fly, which as its name implies usually lays its eggs in the nostrils of sheep. Being a fly, however, it doesn’t exactly have a tremendous sense of direction, and as such it occasionally lands ass-first in some poor bastard’s eye hole.

          The resulting infection is known as ophthalmomyiasis, which is pronounced “God is a bastard.” Thankfully, the baby bot flies don’t go after tissue, instead being content to writhe around in your ocular orbit, drinking your eye juice. Drinking. And writhing.

          Now in the natural world, the sheep nose bot fly is just doing what it does to further it’s progeny. As far as it is concerned, no unnecessary suffering occurs. Unnecessary suffering and necessary suffering don’t seem to be valid terms. They are subjective and as far as I can see, the suffering involved in evolution is necessary for survival. Nature should not be conflated with human nature, which involves the behavioural traits of altruism and selfishness by which we can measure good and bad.

          The argument from the Problem of Evil has nothing to do with this it seems to me.

          It only becomes unnecessary suffering when the three omni god is considered. Benevolence, knowing what is unnecessary suffering, and the power to do something about it, are only relevant in a universe with an entity with those three attributes. Otherwise it just is what it is, the nature of things.

        • Greg G.

          Luke can’t grasp this important bit of the argument from unnecessary suffering.

          It’s like one part of his brain realizes the implication and stops him from thinking further along those lines. It’s the cognitive dissonance. As John Loftus has said, if the Problem of Evil doesn’t keep a theist up at night, he doesn’t understand the Problem of Evil.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As John Loftus has said, if the Problem of Evil doesn’t keep a theist up at night, he doesn’t understand the Problem of Evil.

          Luke doesn’t think much of John Loftus, so that will hardly register. Probably because Loftus was an apologist that has seen what’s behind the curtain and Luke hasn’t…or maybe it is just because Luke got banhammered from Loftus’ forum, “Debunking Christianity”…that sort of thing peeves Luke right off.

        • Greg G.

          I remember when Loftus did that.

        • TheNuszAbides

          more convenient ammo for the smear campaign against Beelzebub …

        • adam
    • Paul B. Lot

      I say “alleged” because I have read that the mental totalitarianism under Communist rule in Russia was much worse than what the Roman Catholics managed to pull off. I haven’t investigated this matter thoroughly.

      Lol, the human shit stain strikes!

      If one cannot prove that one has endured the worst scenario possibly imaginable, one’s complaints are not worth taking seriously.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/03/18/indian-atheist-hacked-to-death-after-posting-criticisms-of-religion-on-social-media/

      • TheNuszAbides

        and The Passion super-duper hurt because omniBoss suppressed its omnipotence (in order to experience strictly temporary mortality) and its omniscience (in order to temporarily believe that it was rilly srsly gonna DIE!), so there.

    • MNb

      “because I have read that the mental totalitarianism under Communist rule in Russia ….”
      Now that’s stupid. Totalitarianism in the former Soviet Union doesn’t show that religious totalitarianism is “alleged”.

    • adam

      “I have read that the mental totalitarianism under Communist rule in
      Russia was much worse than what the Roman Catholics managed to pull off.”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ead1dfb33fc5a434455e6d5ffd090caa7b6e7d822229360729a7a9750b56e83.png

    • Otto

      >>>”Is your conscience forced this way and that?”

      I think that is the thing…if God made himself known the assumption seems to be made that we (humans) would have no choice but to worship and submit, I don’t believe that is the case.

      • That assumption does flit about; not every atheist believes it and not every theist believes it. Supposing we reject that assumption, other avenues are opened up. For example, is there some aspect of a person which can be 100% invisible to you unless that person reveals it to you? Unless that person chooses to reveal it to you? I think the answer is “yes”, and I think it is worth dwelling on the full implication of that “yes”. I think it stands at odds with the scientific attitude which says that if I cannot probe something and get it to respond in a way I can predict, it doesn’t really exist. The spirit behind this reasoning is that if I cannot control and dominate something, it does not exist. And yet, what if most of reality is simply invisible to the “control and dominate” mindset?

        • Otto

          I think you are over complicating it. I think Bob’s point is that just because something is made obvious does not mean it is imposed, nor does it mean people are forced to accept a certain conclusion about it.

        • I question exactly what can be “made obvious”, on the basis of science: Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial). Briefly, the idea is that you cannot become conscious of a pattern on your perceptual neurons which does not sufficiently well-match a pattern on your non-perceptual neurons. I think this has profound implications for how God could communicate to us, to finite beings. These claims that “an omni-god could just do anything” are flagrant violations of the insistence that methodological naturalism is important for our endeavor to understand reality better and better.

          What Bob and many others here seem to want is something other than theosis, something other than infinite, rational (vs. lawless) growth as persons, as families, as communities, … Just look at the alleged preconditions for sound science and then how flagrantly those are violated by what God “should” do. Were God to do these things, he would lock us in permanent childhood. We would forever have to slavishly rely on Sky Daddy, on Grampa God to provide for us. Reminds me of WALL-E. Or the nanny state.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Just look at the alleged preconditions for sound science and then how flagrantly those are violated by what God “should” do. Were God to do these things, he would lock us in permanent childhood. We would forever have to slavishly rely on Sky Daddy, on Grampa God to provide for us. Reminds me of WALL-E. Or the nanny state.

          I have seen no reason to accept your characterization of those scenarios, drawn up by others who were hypothesizing about how a god could have better interacted with humanity, such that they would necessarily lead to a permanent childhood – that thing you so seem to fear – for humanity in general.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luke believes his apologetic mumbo jumbo gives him a good out of the awkwardness though.

          It gives him, at least, an excuse for YahwehJesus’ divine hiddeness. And that’s all he needs.

        • Permanent childhood for most of [Western] humanity is already here. Or did you think that advertising works well on adults? No, mass production relies on mass immaturity:

          The mobilization of consumer demand, together with the recruitment of a labor force, required a far-reaching series of cultural changes. People had to be discouraged from providing for their own wants and resocialized as consumers. Industrialism by its very nature tends to discourage home production and to make people dependent on the market, but a vast effort of reeducation, starting in the 1920s, had to be undertaken before Americans accepted consumption as a way of life. As Emma Rothschild has shown in her study of the automobile industry, Alfred Sloan’s innovations in marketing—the annual model change, constant upgrading of the product, efforts to associate it with social status, the deliberate inculcation of boundless appetite for change—constituted the necessary counterpart of Henry Ford’s innovations in production. Modern industry came to rest on the twin pillars of Fordism and Sloanism. Both tended to discourage enterprise and independent thinking and to make the individual distrust his own judgment, even in matters of taste. His own untutored preferences, it appeared, might lag behind current fashion; they too needed to be periodically upgraded. (The Minimal Self, 29)

          As UW faculty David Levy pointed out in his No Time to Think (he gave a Google Tech Talk of that name; my notes), manufacturers at the turn of the century started exceeding demand and had to figure out what to do:

              These late 19th and early 20th century innovations may have resolved the immediate control crisis, but their very success precipitated the next one: by the early 1920s, there was growing concern about over-production. Industry was indeed able to produce more faster, but consumers apparently felt no need to consume larger quantities at a faster pace. As one observer at the time noted, “we are equipped to produce more of the goods that satisfy human wants than we can use”; another commented that “experienced businessmen all over the world realize that the market does not expand rapidly enough to keep up with demand.”[5]    What followed was a vigorous debate among business and labor leaders about how to resolve this crisis of production. For labor, it was an argument for reduced hours and greater leisure time: if more was being produced than was needed, why not slow down? Business, however, balked at this suggestion, fearing that more time off would encourage vice and sloth – and, of course, would reduce profits. John E. Edgerton, president of National Association of Manufacturers, spoke for many in the business world when, in 1926, he said:

          [I]tis time for America to awake from its dream that an eternal holiday is a natural fruit of material prosperity, and to reaffirm its devotion to those principles and laws of life to the conformity with which we owe all of our national greatness. I am for everything that will make work happier but against everything that will further subordinate its importance … the emphasis should be put on work – more work and better work, instead of upon leisure – more leisure and worse leisure … the working masses … have been protected in their natural growth by the absence of excessive leisure and have been fortunate … in their American made opportunities to work.

          This is the culture which I’ll bet has shaped pretty much everyone who comments on CE. I’ll bet pretty much all of us have been encouraged to fit comfortably into this system. We work hard, a few people get to direct public life, and the rest of us get to buy things (which will allegedly make us happy), be entertained by vicariously participating in the excellence (or mediocrity) of others, all while being careful not to threaten the status quo in a way which would cause any sort of appreciable instability for the powers that be. This may have failed with Trump, but order will soon be restored. Then we’ll get more of the behavior documented in WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism. The peasants will bend to the rod of their betters.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Or did you think that advertising works well on adults?

          Of course it does, lol.

          No, mass production relies on mass immaturity:

          Non. Sense. The two are logically unconnected in your sentence. You can have mass production whose products are marketed to mature consumers. You can have hand-crafted production marketed to idiots or children.

          Just logical nullity, Luke. Piffle.

          It’s such a shame, because [intelligent things] can be said about consumerism and maturity and western culture – such a shame that that set seems to be beyond your reach.

          This is the culture which I’ll bet has shaped pretty much everyone who comments on CE. I’ll bet pretty much all of us have been encouraged to fit comfortably into this system. We work hard, a few people get to direct public life, and the rest of us get to buy things (which will allegedly make us happy), be entertained by vicariously participating in the excellence (or mediocrity) of others, all while being careful not to threaten the status quo in a way which would cause any sort of appreciable instability for the powers that be.

          Oh my god, Luke.

          Oh.

          My.

          God.

          How did you manage it?

          How can you be so amazingly perceptive? You’re such a brave visionary.

          It’s almost like….you’ve listened to any one of the songs of the 90s…

          (Or probably 70s and 80s, 60s too?)

        • It’s such a shame, because [intelligent things] can be said about consumerism and maturity and western culture – such a shame that that set seems to be beyond your reach.

          For example?

          [Edit: strikethrough added; I didn’t mean to ask for examples of that aspect.]

        • Paul B. Lot

          [almost] any one [many] of the songs of the 90s…

          [Edit: strikethrough + “many” added; the 90s gave us “Nsynch”]

        • TheNuszAbides

          in that case, please link to your notes on the Occupy movement.

        • Just look at what Chris Hedges had to say about it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          as depressing as his assessments tend to be, i almost never find reason to disagree with Hedges. so you’re closer to Methodist? definitely helps avoid the falsifiability angle.

        • What does Methodism have to do with my finding Chris Hedges to have some penetrating insights?

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, iirc, we already worked out that you don’t cleave to Catholicism per se, and i’ve heard from Hedges’ mouth that he doesn’t believe in a Personal Yahwehjesus [not saying that this is Methodism by default, since i’m not particularly familiar, but he also hearkens to his Methodist rearing]. and it’s not like you habitually give us the details we request/demand, what with {reasons}. and you seemed to indicate that his insights are primarily what i should go by in answer to my previous question. hence “closer to”, a relation by at the very least indirect association. perhaps i should have rephrased “so are you” rather than “so you’re”, though i wouldn’t presume that would entail a different response. thanks for responding in any case.

          did you have notes on the Occupy movement that happened to agree with what you later heard/read from Hedges, or did you simply absorb his insights and nod?

        • Your wild inferences are tedious. I do not worship Chris Hedges and I do not take everything he or Noam Chomsky says “on faith”, as it were. Instead, I note that he and Noam Chomsky criticize power in ways that power dislikes, and I note that Hedges and Chomsky were aware of key causal factors behind Brexit and Trump which folks like the NYT either didn’t care about, or were ignorant of.

          I have little negative to say about the Occupy Movement, except that they were ineffective and I wonder why. I have heard various narratives and do not yet have enough evidence to evaluate them. What I suspect, having read widely in other areas, is that the kinds of leaders and organizers they needed were sufficiently well-rewarded by the current capitalist–industrial–government complex to not be available to Occupy. But perhaps such people were available, and power merely squashed them. Hedges claims that Obama did some nasty things wrt Occupy, although I have not investigated the details.

          Why don’t you actually show your hand?

        • TheNuszAbides

          I do not worship Chris Hedges

          if you thought i was inferring that, yep, that’s wild.

          I do not take everything he or Noam Chomsky says “on faith”, as it were.

          my point-in-passing was that all i had to go on as a response was ‘just look at Hedges’ observations’, emphasis mine on “just”. no indication of where you might part ways with his analysis. not a single additional point of view to contrast. if i hadn’t already read/heard a substantial amount of Hedges, perhaps that would have counted as a not-so-simple answer to my potentially-complex inquiry while i took a break to [e.g.] check out Death of the Liberal Class for the first time. thanks for [eventually] expounding.

          Why don’t you actually show your hand?

          in a nutshell, i hope “the media’s” newfound postures of about-face wrt their extended cowardice-for-“access” swindle* isn’t way too late in coming.

          * (i’m in many ways a ‘pinko’ but i was never inclined/trained to revere
          the NYT (or anything with ‘New York’ in its name, for that matter); on top of that, Manufacturing Consent was more or less the gateway to whatever passes for ‘actively engaged sociopolitical
          consciousness’ in my head)

        • Otto

          >>>”Were God to do these things, he would lock us in permanent childhood.”

          As Paul said….I reject your all or nothing conclusion.

        • Then help me explore the space between both extremes. I don’t want to do all the work myself.

        • eric

          Your bible gives examples of the space in between extremes. Have God manifest himself on Earth and work loads of miracles.

          Luke, in your mind, why is it impossible for God to turn a stick to a snake when I throw it down in front of Penn Gillette? Or cause mana to rain down and feed the starving people of Africa? Or resurrect a few good and worthy people for all the world to see?

          Heck, let’s even forget the question of whether it will convert anyone or not. Let’s say for sake of argument that it doesn’t. Why wouldn’t God rain mana down on starving people just to prevent them from starving’ because preventing starvation is a good in and of itself? Why not come out of hiding and work miracles to make human lives better even if He doesn’t expect to win converts out of it?

        • Luke, in your mind, why is it impossible for God to turn a stick to a snake when I throw it down in front of Penn Gillette?

          I never said it is impossible.

        • eric

          So why doesn’t he do it? This goes back to the basic hiddenness question: provide a good reason as to why God would not intervene in human affairs to alleviate suffering, when you seem to agree that he has before and he could today?

        • Because doing it would not accomplish his purposes. Or, obviously, because God doesn’t exist. I know which explanation you prefer. But on either explanation, you still have the problem of what to do about empirical evidence such as is reported in Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. I mean, if humans will not listen to their own priests scientists, why would they listen to God? Surely God has even harsher truths than our scientists do? Of course, God also has awesome stuff to say, but one still must take one’s medicine if one wishes to get better. We, as a human race, don’t seem all that interested in getting better. Indeed, we see ourselves as being less and less sick. How many millions, or billions, will have to die from catastrophic global climactic instability, before we are convinced otherwise?

        • eric

          Because doing it would not accomplish his purposes.

          Then you’re giving up some part of the ‘perfectly benevolent’ characterization of God. You’re saying quite explicitly here that feeding people who are dying of starvation is not on God’s to-do list; not something God thinks is very high priority.

          if humans will not listen to their own priests scientists, why would they listen to God?

          Because scientists aren’t omnipotent and omniscient, and don’t have the access to miraculous acts to prove their point. That makes a big difference, particularly to empirically-minded people who are going to pay attention when someone starts walking on water and resurrecting Mother Theresa.

          For some reason, you think the fact that people don’t always listen to reasoned argument when it comes from other humans creates some theological barrier to God’s ability to convince us. Why? God isn’t human. He’s perfect, right? So…perfectly convincing when he wants to be, right? And I’m not talking about coercive or mind control, I’m talking about the best public speaker one can imagine. That’s god, right?

        • Then you’re giving up some part of the ‘perfectly benevolent’ characterization of God.

          I don’t see why this necessarily follows. Unless you think desiring theosis of all creatures able to do it (that is, imago Dei creatures) is evil or at least not maximally good/​morally perfect?

          LB: … if humans will not listen to their own priests scientists, why would they listen to God?

          e: Because scientists aren’t omnipotent and omniscient, and don’t have the access to miraculous acts to prove their point.

          That makes no sense. Why is omnipotence or omniscience required to properly process Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government or Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government?

          For some reason, you think the fact that people don’t always listen to reasoned argument when it comes from other humans creates some theological barrier to God’s ability to convince us. Why?

          No, that’s not it at all. I’m talking about massive denial. That’s quite different from the underlined. Shall I illustrate the massive denial when it comes to the pervasive believe that we in the West live in something like the folk notion of a democracy?

        • Ignorant Amos

          That makes no sense. Why is omnipotence or omniscience required to properly process Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government or Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government?

          Please explain to this simple soul the relevance of the book at the blue link to this conversation…and the paper associated in the other blue link. From the titles and abstracts I’ve a sneaky suspicion they are more non sequiturs…but perhaps you can show me I’m wrong?

        • eric

          I don’t see why this necessarily follows.

          It doesn’t necessarily follow; you can always retreat to the “best of all possible worlds” defense. But for most people, the concept of a benevolent God includes the thought that he doesn’t want humans to starve to death. You, OTOH, seem to think it’s not something he particularly cares about. Is that correct?

          Unless you think desiring theosis of all creatures able to do it (that is, imago Dei creatures) is evil or at least not maximally good/​morally perfect?

          Before you can use that as a defense, you’re going to have to show that theosis requires allowing people to starve to death. I, for instance, probably won’t starve to death. Whatever theological catharsis I’m going to undergo, that probably isn’t part of it. So either death by starvation is not necessary, or I (and probably you) won’t achieve theosis, because it isn’t going to happen to us.
          So, are we doomed to hell because of our lack of starvation? Or, is your theosis-seeking God allowing theosis-unnecessary suffering?

          Why is omnipotence or omniscience required to properly process [article link]

          Do you really not get the point here? I never said omnipotence etc. was required to process the article. I said an omnipotent “convincer” with the ability to work miracles is going to be convincing (about his own existence) in ways human proxies arguing for his existence are not. This seems very obvious to me – do you truly not understand that point? Or do you understand it but disagree (i.e., do you think that God will not be any more of a convincing conversationalist than a human scientist)?

        • It doesn’t necessarily follow; you can always retreat to the “best of all possible worlds” defense.

          I don’t see why it necessarily follows if I agree with something like Matthew Robert Adams’ Must God Create the Best?.

          But for most people, the concept of a benevolent God includes the thought that he doesn’t want humans to starve to death.

          Perhaps you would like to check out 2012-02-05 Huffington Post article, We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. Apparently we humans don’t actually care all that much when fellow humans starve to death. Maybe God is letting us see who we really are, rather than the pretty little stories we tell ourselves? Perhaps you’ve encountered Amartya Sen‘s Econ Nobel-prize winning work on famines, where he found that they don’t only occur for lack of total food supply.

          Or is it too icky for God to let us see just what kind of people we are? Perhaps it is too icky for God to let people die to show us just what kind of people we are? Remember that there is resurrection; death is not necessarily the end if God is in the picture. You don’t get to mix “death is the permanent end” part of your worldview with the “a good God exists” part of my worldview.

          You, OTOH, seem to think it’s not something he particularly cares about. Is that correct?

          No.

          Before you can use that as a defense, you’re going to have to show that theosis requires allowing people to starve to death.

          Theosis requires us to face the darkness in ourselves without rose-colored glasses. Are you willing to do that? Or are you going to deny that you support slavery via the global supply chain?

          I said an omnipotent “convincer” with the ability to work miracles is going to be convincing (about his own existence) in ways human proxies arguing for his existence are not.

          The article I linked was not about God’s existence. It was about how people ignore the evidence when it conflicts with their identity/​ideology. It was about how the better you are with numerical evidence, the better you are at doing the ignoring thing. The article I linked is about we humans are really good at self-delusion. If we’re going to self-delude on the small things, why are we somehow less likely to self-delude on the most important question?

          This seems very obvious to me – do you truly not understand that point? Or do you understand it but disagree (i.e., do you think that God will not be any more of a convincing conversationalist than a human scientist)?

          I’m not sure I understand your point. On the one hand, we have the idea (maybe an ideal type only in my head) that humans as programmable machines, where God is the master programmer and thus can get them to do anything he wants. On the other hand, we have persons who are not programmable robots, who can rebel quite a lot. You seem to be veering toward the former, or picking this really weird position that “knowing that God exists” is in any way connected to “acknowledging that God is good”. I like James’ model: the demons know that God exists (and is “one”) and … are still demons.

          I have neither said nor implied that God would not be a better conversationalist than a human scientist. Instead, I have argued that humans are not robots. They have these things called wills, and they are not open to arbitrary reprogramming. I do not believe you are taking this seriously enough. That, or you think that mere evidence of God’s existence (without any acknowledgment of his goodness whatsoever) in any way advances his purposes. I have had this latter conversation on CE before; I could probably pull up records so that we don’t have to arduously re-tread all the same ground again.

        • eric

          Apparently we humans don’t actually care all that much when fellow humans starve to death. Maybe God is letting us see who we really are

          So to you, God’s perfect benevolence means that letting you and I see what cads we are takes precedence over saving millions of starving kids?

          Perhaps it is too icky for God to let people die to show us just what kind of people we are?

          I wouldn’t say “icky,” but I would definitely say “callous” and “a solution that bespeaks very limited power.”

          The article I linked was not about God’s existence. It was about how people ignore the evidence when it conflicts with their identity/​ideology

          You have made your point (over and over again) that people do not always listen to imperfect humans using imperfect evidence and imperfect arguments. I get it. I accept it. We’re good at self-delusion. So now answer the question: could God fashion an argument, show us evidence that would cut through our self-delusion and convince additional people of his existence, or not? I’m not asking whether humans could do it, I’m asking whether God could do it.

        • So to you, God’s perfect benevolence means that letting you and I see what cads we are takes precedence over saving millions of starving kids?

          No, rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do. What do I mean by that? You and I both consider whatever nice little lives we have to be more important than making whatever sacrifices would be necessary to cutting through the BS that results in stuff like The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          Your argument boils down to, “I don’t want to make the sacrifices required for justice and mercy to reign; therefore since God doesn’t pick up my slack, he’s evil and I’m good.” And yes, that’s what’s going on: you’re calling yourself more good than God could possibly be good. Remember that tu quoque is 100% legit if you’re claiming to have the morally superior ground when you don’t actually have it.

          LB: Perhaps it is too icky for God to let people die to show us just what kind of people we are?

          e: I wouldn’t say “icky,” but I would definitely say “callous” and “a solution that bespeaks very limited power.”

          So you want empirical evidence except when you don’t?

          You have made your point (over and over again) that people do not always listen to imperfect humans using imperfect evidence and imperfect arguments. I get it.

          No, you don’t. You softened the interpretation again. Let’s recall:

          e: For some reason, you think the fact that people don’t always listen to reasoned argument when it comes from other humans creates some theological barrier to God’s ability to convince us. Why?

          LB: No, that’s not it at all. I’m talking about massive denial. That’s quite different from the underlined. Shall I illustrate the massive denial when it comes to the pervasive believe that we in the West live in something like the folk notion of a democracy?

          It’s not that we humans are “imperfect”. It’s that we are in love with our delusions. See the difference?

          So now answer the question: could God fashion an argument, show us evidence that would cut through our self-delusion and convince additional people of his existence, or not?

          Of course. Even the demons believe, and tremble. And yet they’re still demons. Unless you think this is entirely unreasonable, that if the demons really became convinced that God exists, they would become God-fearing angels?

        • Susan

          rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do.

          No. Because we didn’t invent starving. And we have no way of providing all solutions for all starving.

          Oh, also. We seem to exist.

          Yahwehjesus doesn’t.

          How many comments now Luke Breuer?

          You still haven’t defined “God”.

          So, how could we expect you to support it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do.

          You might have a bit of a point if that was true, but it isn’t. Surprise, surprise.

          The problem isn’t that we have enough food to feed 10 billion and there is only 8 billion to feed. That’s a mantra you just love to trot out, but it’s plain ignorant. The issue is a lot more complicated than that.

          Now, one could say that humans could be doing more, but that’s not the argument that you are pushing. That hat we are all doing nothing is unadulterated shite.

          But here’s the rub, humans giving free food to the needy does more harm than good, apparently. Something you are neglecting to mention.

          HOW AMERICAN FOOD AID KEEPS THE THIRD WORLD HUNGRY INTRODUCTION

          Americans have a proud history of being charitable, concerned about the well-being of their fellow man at home and overseas. The federal governments Food for Peace program which provides food for less developed countries, is testimony to this. Yet ironically, and tragically, Food for Peace, formally known as P.L 480, has been one of the most harmful programs of aid to Third World countries. While sometimes alleviating hunger in the short run, the program usually lowers the price at which Third World farmers can sell their crops This depresses local food production, making it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run. Food for Peace, in fact, is mainly an aid program for U.S farmers, allowing t h em to dump their surplus crops in Third World countries, while the U.S. taxpayer foots the bill, and the poor in less developed countries bear the ultimate high cost. Food for Peace, despite its grand title, hinders agricultural development in such countries and makes a mockery of American humanitarian rhetoric Market Incentives for Farmers. As such, the .Food for Peace program; now in its.34th year, should be phased out. American food aid should be restricted to humanitarian relief for droughts or disasters. In place of Food for Peace, the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) should promote policies that will give farmers in less developed countries market incentives to produce more food to feed their own people. AID should encourage and assist with technical advice the dismantling of state marketing monopolies in such countries so that farmers will be free to sell their crops for whatever price the market will offer.

          http://www.heritage.org/trade/report/how-american-food-aid-keeps-the-third-world-hungry

          So your statement about doing Jack shit is rubbish…and yes, a did see your wiggle room caveat “probably”.

          The old proverb…

          “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

          The global food surplus

          It’s a vicious circle: Imports of cheap surplus food from the West have destroyed local markets in Asia and Africa, removing financial incentives to plant food, and taking away the income of the poor.

          http://www.dw.com/en/the-global-food-surplus/a-15452289

          You never seem interested in the other story. Humans are definitely trying regardless of your assertion they are not. So you are talking bubbles again Luke.

          Now, where is your tri-omni god’s hand in any of this?

          Btw, what had that their Buffet article you linked to got to do with any of this?

        • e: So to you, God’s perfect benevolence means that letting you and I see what cads we are takes precedence over saving millions of starving kids?

          LB: No, rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do. What do I mean by that? You and I both consider whatever nice little lives we have to be more important than making whatever sacrifices would be necessary to cutting through the BS that results in stuff like The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          IA: You might have a bit of a point if that was true, but it isn’t. Surprise, surprise.

          The problem isn’t that we have enough food to feed 10 billion and there is only 8 billion to feed. That’s a mantra you just love to trot out, but it’s plain ignorant. The issue is a lot more complicated than that.

          I never said that is “the problem”. I called it “the fact”. But perhaps for you, some facts are problems?

          Now, one could say that humans could be doing more, but that’s not the argument that you are pushing. That hat we are all doing nothing is unadulterated shite.

          Did I say “we are all doing nothing”? We can consult another, earlier place I brought up that article on this page:

          LB: Perhaps you would like to check out 2012-02-05 Huffington Post article, We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. Apparently we humans don’t actually care all that much when fellow humans starve to death. Maybe God is letting us see who we really are, rather than the pretty little stories we tell ourselves? Perhaps you’ve encountered Amartya Sen‘s Econ Nobel-prize winning work on famines, where he found that they don’t only occur for lack of total food supply.

          Oh, maybe I’m aware of some of the reasons why. Maybe this conclusively shows that I know that excess food is not “the problem”. Instead, what excess food does is demonstrate that perhaps lack of sufficient food was a problem much less than is commonly believed. I’ll let the reader figure out how that might be the case.

          But here’s the rub, humans giving free food to the needy does more harm than good, apparently. Something you are neglecting to mention.

          Neglected, eh? I’m actually aware of such things, having read works related to that issue such as Mary Douglas’ and Steven Ney’s Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences and Hilary Putnam’s The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy. The latter explicitly deals with some of Amartya Sen’s work. Both criticize definitions of ‘poverty’ which lead to precisely that “more harm than good”. I am also aware that just dumping food on nations can destroy local agrarian economies.

          But the very fact that you know these things means that other people in influential places know these things. That means they could do other, more intelligent things, to lead ultimately to more people having enough food to eat most days. Yes, social, political, and international institutions are vastly complex beasts. I happen to be friends with a world-class sociologist studying how institutions work and change. I have a pre-publication version of a paper he’s working on, on the very topic. I do actually know some things on this topic. Your little game whereby if I didn’t mention them immediately I’ve “neglected” things is ridiculous childishness.

          So your statement about doing Jack shit is rubbish…and yes, a did see your wiggle room caveat “probably”.

          When I said “jack shit”, I meant to exclude things that mostly made the situation worse.

          You never seem interested in the other story. Humans are definitely trying regardless of your assertion they are not. So you are talking bubbles again Luke.

          Says the in-group guy to the out-group guy. 🙂 I will simply rely on common sense usage which allows a lot of incompetent action to fall under the category “jack shit”.

          Now, where is your tri-omni god’s hand in any of this?

          Certainly not visible to people like you, who are apparently looking for a fifth force of nature instead of a person. Those who self-justify their incompetence instead of admit it in its full glory, including their loss at how to really solve the problem, are likely to want God to not exist. If you want something like that intensely enough, you can blind yourself to various aspects of reality and surround yourself with a social group which makes it easier to believe that. And if you are telling yourself that you don’t need God, maybe he’ll give you the empirical evidence on that proposition. But you seem to think it’s really bad to get empirical evidence in this particular domain. That has me flummoxed; apparently you only want empirical evidence sometimes? In the other times, you wish to be nannied?

          Btw, what had that there Buffet article you linked to got to do with any of this?

          If you cannot figure out the obvious connection, I will not attempt to explain it to you.

        • Susan

          I never said “That is the problem.” I called it “the fact.”

          So, you don’t see it as a problem? Many people do. It seems reasonable for a person to take it for granted that you introduced it as a problem to protect your (so far imaginary Yahwehjesus) because we don’t care enough about people starving. There are starving people. That’s not a problem? As murky as your apolegetics like to be, that any earthling is suffering and that we don’t care enough about that seems to be what you were getting at.

          Clarify your language if you meant something else.

          When I said “jackshit” I meant to exclude things that made the situation worse.

          But you didn’t. You just said “jackshit”. And you made no mention of what might make the situation “better” or “worse”. You were just trying to work around Imaginaryyahwehjesus’s responsibility by pointing out humanity’s insufficient responses.

          I would never teach children by torturing kittens if they fail. Also, it’s fairly obvious that I exist for most people here while Yahwehjesus is about as evidenced as Pandora and Zeus.

          Says the ingroup guy to the outgroup guy

          As always, you sound like a guy who walks into a bar and pisses on tables and then protests “You are oppressing me.” when called on it. If you want to claim that the only reason people respond to you negatively is that you are not part of the ingroup, do some work to show it.

          Certainly not visible to people like you, who are apparently looking for a fifth force of nature instead of a person.

          But many times, I have asked you to show a person. And you haven’t. Here you are using the Emperor’s New Clothes defense again/ If you are claiming a person, show one.

          Those who self-justify their incompetence instead of admit it in its full glory, including their loss at how to really solve the problem, are likely to want God to not exist.

          I see. You are unable to define or provide evidence for this “God” and its existence. And you invoke the Emperor’s New Clothes defense rather than face your inability to provide definitions or evidence.

          apparently you only want empirical evidence sometimes?

          Don’t you hate when people do that? I know I do.

          If you cannot figure out the obvious connection, I will not attempt to explain it to you

          Lol. The old “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” approach.

          It’s right up there with the “Why are you hitting yourself?” approach.

          How many comments now, Luke?

        • Inky

          Susan, I have been reading here for some time and I just wanted to say I always appreciate your clear and direct reasoning.

          I guess this weird obsession with making sure people are helped b the right people, the right way, is part of regarding the world as a test, and heaven as the next step. The suffering is supposed to have a purpose.

          If some alien came down and caused all people in the world to be well fed, so that starving became unknown, I would consider the problem to be solved. I wouldn’t fret that I’d had nothing to do with it.

          I wouldn’t be worrying that I’d been robbed of the chance to become a better person. The moral thing is to want to fix the problem, and to be glad when it is fixed. Not to try to figure out what special message the ribs of the dead child are supposed to convey. If an omnipotent god is waiting for us to figure that out before feeding the kid, that is not a good thing.

        • Susan

          Hi Inky,

          Thank you for your very kind words.

          The moral thing is to want to fix the problem, and to be glad when it is fixed. Not to try to figure out what special message the ribs of the dead child are supposed to convey. If an omnipotent god is waiting for us to figure that out before feeding the kid, that is not a good thing.

          Precisely. Beautifully put. .

          Add to that the hundreds of millions of years of unimaginable suffering by unimaginable numbers of life forms who suffered and died before anything remotely resembling a human even existed.

          Also, that throughout most of human history, humans were almost completely powerless to do anything about disease and cycles of drought and famine.

          Even today, the best intentions and most thoughtful solutions are limited and often fall short.

          What we are being asked to consider is an omnipotent deity who invented torture on levels we can’t even fathom in order to give us opportunities to make him stop doing it IF we can figure out how.

          And we are being asked to consider that a “Greater Good”.

          I find theistic reasoning appalling, but its most appalling aspect is its moral reasoning.

          It’s as hubristic, myopic and cold-blooded as anything I’ve ever heard. .

        • Inky

          Yes, exactly.

        • eric

          we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do

          Firstly the difference in power and capability is important. My six-year-old doesn’t help starving people, but we don’t consider that a personality fault because he can’t do much about it. But God:me is a much greater power differential than Me:kid. God can do a lot more about starvation than I can, and he can do it with the snap of his fingers. So the “why doesn’t he” question is much harder to explain in God’s case than in mine. Theists cannot appeal to limited resources, power or knowledge to explain God’s inaction, while it’s very clear that these things play a big role in why humans can’t and don’t fashion a better world.

          Second, nobody claims I am maximally benevolent. But theists claim God is. So God’s inaction is a lot less explicable than my inaction on the moral angle, too.

          You are again trying a tu quoque defense. Not only is that response a fallacy right off the bat (my inaction does not excuse God’s inaction), but since God and I aren’t in the same power or ethical position, the explanations I might give for my inaction don’t apply to God.

          boils down to, “I don’t want to make the sacrifices required for justice and mercy to reign; therefore since God doesn’t pick up my slack, he’s evil and I’m good.”

          I don’t think hiddenness/inaction in the face of suffering supports the conclusion that God is evil, I think it supports the conclusion God doesn’t exist. Suffering might be explained by saying God is not tri-omni, but positing an imperfect God still doesn’t explain hiddenness. The explanatory hypothesis which is both simplest and best fits the data of hiddenness is that no such entity exists. The entity is not acting in our world because there is no entity to act. It’s a dragon in the garage.

          [eric] could God fashion an argument, show us evidence that would cut through our self-delusion and convince additional people of his existence, or not?

          [Luke]Of course.

          So why doesn’t he? As far as I can tell we now both agree that God could come out of hiding and talk to us in a way that would cause less people to go to hell and more to be saved. And I think we both agree he could do this without coercion. And I even think we both agree that he could do this and continue to let us suffer whatever is necessary for us to achieve oneness with him (because simply coming down here and talking to us /= alleviating all suffering).
          So why doesn’t he come down here and save some souls? He could do it while maintaining our free will, yes? And he could do it while maintaining our ability to achieve oneness with him, yes? And it would save souls, which is what God wants, yes? So why doesn’t he?

        • Firstly the difference in power and capability is important.

          Not always, unless you assert that the more powerful should always prevent the less powerful from making mistakes which are more than X units of terrible.

          My six-year-old doesn’t help starving people, but we don’t consider that a personality fault because he can’t do much about it.

          You aren’t six years old. The question is easy: how much of your comfortable life are you willing to sacrifice in order to ensure that a few more people have enough food for a few more years? (Maybe you could go beyond this and work towards their having a quality of life and opportunities similar to the ones you enjoy now, which have an asymptote approachable before t → ∞.)

          Theists cannot appeal to limited resources, power or knowledge to explain God’s inaction, while it’s very clear that these things play a big role in why humans can’t and don’t fashion a better world.

          I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. The problem is instead one of will. Either lack of will or evil will. Imagine if even 10% of the time Americans entertained themselves, they instead worked toward getting the rest of the world fed. But you see, if the rest of the world were fed, people back home might demand more. Who wants that? (And so forth—there are of course many reasons.)

          Second, nobody claims I am maximally benevolent. But theists claim God is.

          You are the instrument with which you measure reality. To the extent that you are defective in some way, all the relevant measurements you make will also be defective.

          You are again trying a tu quoque defense.

          It is not always a fallacy. Shall I quote court of appeals judge Richard Posner on this matter? (Because probably you think my judgment is 100% untrustworthy. Maybe you’ll give the slightest amount of crap about what he has to say.)

          I don’t think hiddenness/​inaction in the face of suffering supports the conclusion that God is evil, I think it supports the conclusion God doesn’t exist.

          Or, it is God giving us the empirical evidence to falsify our claim that “We humans can handle things nicely on our own, God!” Or are you saying that God should only sometimes give us evidence—in other cases, he should nanny us?

          e: So now answer the question: could God fashion an argument, show us evidence that would cut through our self-delusion and convince additional people of his existence, or not?

          LB: Of course. Even the demons believe, and tremble. And yet they’re still demons. Unless you think this is entirely unreasonable, that if the demons really became convinced that God exists, they would become God-fearing angels?

          e: So why doesn’t he?

          I alluded to the reason in the following sentences, which I have included above. But perhaps this is the problem:

          As far as I can tell we now both agree that God could come out of hiding and talk to us in a way that would cause less people to go to hell and more to be saved.

          What I said is that God could convince more people that he exists. This was slightly incorrect; I should have said that God could convince more people that an extremely powerful being exists. This is because character (including goodness) is part of who a person is, and because of the fact/​value dichotomy, there is an unbridgeable gap between existence and goodness.

          Were we to believe in God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness, we would be driven to believe that we really do have all the necessary components to serving the poor and raising them to our level in all ways. And to the extent that we did not do this thing, we would be convinced of laziness/​evil.

          Mere belief that “there exists an extremely powerful being” does not lead to salvation. And yet, this is all that God appearing could necessarily do to you. (We can throw in “very knowledgeable”, although that seems entailed by “extremely powerful”.)

          And I think we both agree he could do this without coercion.

          If God alters your conscience, is that coercion? Were he to convince you that you could sacrifice terrifically more to help starving children in Africa, such that you then did this thing, would you consider that coercion?

          And I even think we both agree that he could do this and continue to let us suffer whatever is necessary for us to achieve oneness with him …

          A tremendous amount of our suffering is required due to our arrogance and our laziness. But you see, we demand evidence, and lots of it. Well, suffering is a kind of evidence, isn’t it? It’s the least avoidable kind, in fact.

          So why doesn’t he come down here and save some souls? He could do it while maintaining our free will, yes?

          You think he isn’t. I question whether you have the proper basis for saying that. I know missionaries in less well-off parts of the world who are convinced that people in those places are in fact being saved. Maybe the problem is that folks like you and I almost certainly support slavery via global supply chains, and so don’t want a just God to exist. The oppressors do not want God to exist—not the kind of God I worship.

        • eric

          I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. The problem is instead one of will. Either lack of will or evil will.

          Okay, so humans don’t intervene in the lives of other humans because they lack the will to do so. I’ll buy that. So are you saying God remains hidden because he lacks the will to intervene?

          What I said is that God could convince more people that he exists. This was slightly incorrect; I should have said that God could convince more people that an extremely powerful being exists…Mere belief that “there exists an extremely powerful being” does not lead to salvation.

          So did Jesus convince the disciples that God exists, or merely that an extremely powerful being exists? And if the latter, are you saying their belief in Jesus didn’t lead to salvation?
          Look, again, I don’t think non-believers are asking for any divine presence beyond what your holy book claims God has used in the past. So if you’re claiming that such a presence would not lead to salvation for us, then it seems inconsistent to claim it lead to salvation for Thomas. And vice versa – if Thomas could be saved by Jesus’ appearance, then so could I. Explain to me how providing such evidence lead people to salvation then but would not lead to people to salvation now.

        • Okay, so humans don’t intervene in the lives of other humans because they lack the will to do so. I’ll buy that. So are you saying God remains hidden because he lacks the will to intervene?

          Nope. I’ll accept that you personally are not able to interpret any sense-data as him intervening. I’ll accept that God does not show up as a scientifically investigable force. After all, I hold that he’s a person, not a force.

          So did Jesus convince the disciples that God exists, or merely that an extremely powerful being exists?

          Jesus actually did not do very many acts of power. His calming of the storm was kind of it in that category. Nobody really cared about healing a bunch of nobodies. He was careful to expose only certain disciples to his transfiguration. He was so powerless that his disciples had no expectation that he would not stay dead. Then, when he was resurrected (according to the story—we’re dealing with implied models of human nature here), he only stuck around for 40 days and didn’t do any acts of power. He told his disciples that they would do greater works than he. So did they believe that “an extremely powerful being exists”? I think it’s worth investigating, rather than assuming or rashly concluding.

          And if the latter, are you saying their belief in Jesus didn’t lead to salvation?

          My guess is that God cares much more about our believing that he is good, than that he is powerful. That’s the sense of Jesus I get from reading the Bible. And in fact, if you read the OT with a critical eye, you see a shockingly little amount of power exercised. There’s a whole lot of sending prophets to try to rationally convince than domination through raw power. Of course you can claim that this is because there was no God acting, but it nevertheless falsifies very popular power narratives.

          Look, again, I don’t think non-believers are asking for any divine presence beyond what your holy book claims God has used in the past.

          If you’re going to treat God as an impersonal force who does the same thing every time, then you’re not looking for God, you’re looking for an impersonal force you can characterize and then control. That is the name of the game in modernity. Were you a country dominated by the West instead of in the West, you might want salvation from power instead of more power.

          Explain to me how providing such evidence lead people to salvation then but would not lead to people to salvation now.

          Who says this isn’t happening in the so-called Third World? Of course, you can claim that “if science cannot observe and characterize it, it doesn’t happen”, but that leads to ridiculous conclusions. You can claim that “what usually happens, always happens”—but that too lads to ridiculous conclusions. What I feel comfortable saying is that the demonstration of raw power will not convince people in positions of comfort (compared to 99% of humans) in one of the most powerful nations in the world that God is good. Instead, it will play into their implicit or explicit domination of most other humans. If God is interested in egalitarianism—and I think he definitely is (book-length defense)—then the strategy you personally want to see just doesn’t seem like it would be effective in the domains you are likely to observe or hear about [and believe].

          Or do you interact with every person in precisely the same way?

        • Greg G.

          But if people are not willing to sacrifice enough to help everyone, why doesn’t an omnipotence that doesn’t have to sacrifice a damn thing step in? Allowing millions to suffer because not enough people will help them is like a hissy fit.

          It’s perfectly consistent with there being nothing but imaginary gods. It is inconsistent with there be a benevolent, sufficiently powerful being of any kind.

        • adam

          “You aren’t six years old.”

          Then why does GOD act like a spoiled six year old.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/51119f60ed8be3b4f9b33feb816268f23d444e5e8a2c78bedaf9c0ec98403362.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/108af0b2a83dd5b9eb2faf131b0329a52bed5997eea706079750280ee0b9c0b4.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49ee4ba4ad5022f9e462b55374323dfe6e70e21b0365a5c0edf83e35b9d58955.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c8d5bd08c8b3b8360c2087d04c839f3dbdda32730bcc5d35cb37e46f751cd979.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5bcb5f2a1f7847c00d32da961ef3eeb026d5e545ff12f7aa4b2cfb610b183f58.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7c540786b83c1a7f16529fbc116998cfda8fa8948ac1342a6416b282d9ad215.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/81ee54b59cf4e0235557d0b406a45a1b6305403a095f39e7e67d39ac938cbd3e.jpg

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8cffeafc1ef300d6a024b28d6e35831aa75f7fe8416dc3215bfa8d2c2e6b5dca.png

        • adam

          “I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. ”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means and religion FAILS to provide the WILL.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38a372d179f379b51cdb5f1c227e4a5bd6dd543347d09566c2aedd943b72e754.jpg

        • adam

          ” and so don’t want a just God to exist. ”

          How EASY it is to STOP your ‘just God’ from being just.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aad5a6bd3741e368997a7619a093b22790707c37868d686673d6d84fce90cceb.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          I do not agree that lack of resources, power, or knowledge is the biggest problem humans have. Again: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. The problem is instead one of will. Either lack of will or evil will. Imagine if even 10% of the time Americans entertained themselves, they instead worked toward getting the rest of the world fed. But you see, if the rest of the world were fed, people back home might demand more. Who wants that? (And so forth—there are of course many reasons.)

          That’s a moving of the goal posts from what you said before.

          No, rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do. What do I mean by that? You and I both consider whatever nice little lives we have to be more important than making whatever sacrifices would be necessary to cutting through the BS that results in stuff like The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          So the, there’s already enough food to feed the 8 million is a red herring? It has nothing to do with how much food is being produced, except when it is?

          (And so forth—there are of course many reasons.)

          You better believe it. Having a glut of extra food is the least of them.

          But in the meantime, what has your god been doing about it? Just the same thing as every other religions imaginary god from what I can see…Sweet Fanny Adams.

          Define your favoured god and tell us by what method you use to know what you claim to know?

        • That’s a moving of the goal posts from what you said before.

          Check your logic.

          So the, there’s already enough food to feed the 8 million is a red herring? It has nothing to do with how much food is being produced, except when it is?

          No.

          But in the meantime, what has your god been doing about it?

          I wouldn’t be surprised if he were doing plenty of things, things which I don’t need to know about to do my part. One of the things I think he is doing is showing people like you and me just what kind of people we are. Or are you unaware of how self-congratulatory the Enlightenment folks and those after them tended (and still tend) to be?

          Just the same thing as every other religions imaginary god from what I can see…Sweet Fanny Adams.

          Letting us learn based on the empirical evidence instead of based on trusting his word is somehow evil? Hey, if you want to, you can flip to the interpretation where you’re a brain in a vat and the only non-p-zombie is you. Maybe this is all a test to see whether you’ll do more blaming or more sacrificing. The empirical evidence is consistent with that, right?

          Define your favoured god and tell us by what method you use to know what you claim to know?

          Nope, not giving you a full definition, just like no scientist can give you a theory of everything. I will say that God is good, and that there is some sense in which goodness is divorced from what we sense as existing (that is, some form of the fact/​value dichotomy seems to at least match the dominant epistemology). And we all know that an instrument must have the ability to detect what it’s detecting, it must not have too many defects, and it must be sufficiently calibrated. Otherwise, it’s sensing will be hopelessly muddled. So, how/​why are you confident that your own sensing is not hopelessly muddled? For myself, I apply Thagard’s #1 and #2.

        • Pofarmer

          Letting us learn based on the empirical evidence instead of based on trusting his word is somehow evil?

          Dude, I’m sorry. But when every piece of evidence supports your pre-ordained conclusion everywhere. You probably have an issue.

        • epeeist

          when every piece of evidence supports your pre-ordained conclusion everywhere

          Then you probably have a self-sealing argument.

        • Pofarmer

          Speaking of. Have you been following the latest on Estranged Notions?

        • epeeist

          Have you been following the latest on Estranged Notions?

          Not really, what am I looking for?

        • Pofarmer

          Just the newest thread. The author of the thread is getting his doctorate in philosophy, and imho. Is almost unimaginably soft headed.

        • epeeist

          Is almost unimaginably soft headed.

          Hmm yes, the article on SN is a sermon and sloppy at that.

        • Pofarmer

          Is this what you would generally expect from someone getting a Doctorate in philosophy? I mean, he makes a very clear Argument from Consequences, and thinks that’s a GOOD argument.

        • epeeist

          Is this what you would generally expect from someone getting a Doctorate in philosophy?

          I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether he is a good Ph.D candidate, you can find his thesis here.

          You can guess the post-modernist slant from:

          I shall make the claim that science and theology stand as equally valid yet separate ways of understanding the world.

          He also seems committed to a “Strong Programme” like attitude, that science is simply a construct with no particular epistemic privilege.

          EDIT: unclosed HTML tag.

        • Greg G.

          I hope that isn’t his dissertation. But that might be good enough where Kent Hovind got his PhD.

        • Greg G.

          Enough magic can self-seal any argument.

        • Incorrect on all counts. [Edit: Well, I’m sure I have issues. Perhaps you do not.]

        • Susan

          Nope, not giving your a full definition

          Imagine that.

          just like no scientist can give you a theory of everything

          How is it like that?

          I will say that God is good

          What do you mean by good and on what basis can you claim that your undefined and unevidenced subject exists and is good?

          .

        • Anat

          So your deity is not more morally developed than the average human? I wonder why that would be….

        • adam
        • So your deity is not more morally developed than the average human?

          I do not believe I claimed or necessarily entailed that. If you think I did either, you are welcome to draw it out in a rational fashion. (That is, employ textual evidence and logic.)

        • Anat

          How is a deity who knows they are not doing the best they can to prevent suffering better than a human who knows they aren’t doing the best they can to prevent suffering?

        • For the same reason that a parent who ensures that his or her child never suffers is doing an incredible disservice to that child. Or are we going to segue into asking why God would create a world with even one iota of suffering?

        • Anat

          That’s a BS comparison. The parent doesn’t have a choice (or has a very limited choice) regarding the operation of the world in which the child is growing up in – this does not apply to a creator deity. The parent knows that if all goes well, the child will outlive the parent and will have to manage without them – this does not apply to an immortal deity. And even so there is a level of not preventing suffering that is considered irresponsible, neglectful, or abusive. Parents are supposed to show discretion regarding the preventable suffering they allow their children to endure.

          To your version of a deity all humans are their children. Most people suffer beyond their ability to prevent or repair. If children are suffering from civil war or drought – it might be in the power of some more fortunate people to alleviate, but the children who die before help arrives have suffered terribly, and learned nothing but that the world is cruel and uncaring. If their suffering was meant to teach more fortunate people a lesson then that makes the deity abusive and exploitative.

          In what kind of universe does it make sense for a child to die of brain cancer after years of suffering?

        • Your core objection seems to be that God lets† moral agents incur suffering in other moral agents and you don’t like that. We can modify this by allowing very certain suffering, but far less than what you see. For example, surely you will say that it was wrong for God to allow Cain to murder Abel. Surely you will also say that if a plague could have been prevented by humans doing more science but instead they decided to make war, it is wrong for God to not somehow step in and prevent the plague from claiming any victims (or perhaps the plague ought to select victims depending on moral status). Of course, one can then fall back on evolutionary history; if that is the only way you believe your argument can be sustained, please indicate it.

          It would help me to have you articulate just what suffering is acceptable for God to allow. Don’t worry about being comprehensive in the first response; I’m happy to hash it out. I’ve offered to do this with many atheists, but I cannot recall a single one taking me up on the offer in any serious fashion.

          To show my cards, I intend to examine the extent to which the beliefs you espouse in answering the above are founded in empirical evidence. I also intend to examine whether or not they are falsifiable. For example, can any of them actually be tested in this world, or do they require so radically different a construction that the discussion has to remain purely theoretical?

          † Can you tolerate my speaking in this way, instead of adding lots of verbiage to say, “If God exists and is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect, blah blah balh”?

        • Anat

          Look, I don’t know what you believe about your deity, but if you believe in an omniscient omnipotent deity then no suffering whatsoever would be acceptable in the universe said deity created, because they had a choice to create the universe without that suffering and they chose not to. They could have chosen to create a universe with different laws of nature, with a different way for life to exist, with a different everything.

        • Paul B. Lot

          they had a choice to create the universe without that suffering and they chose not to

          Let’s not forget that this “deity” also had the choice….to do nothing.

          Suppose one were to go out and buy acrylic sheets and silicone and sand and ant food and ant eggs to start an ant colony.

          Suppose further that one were to fine-tune these elements until an ant-colony were established.

          Suppose, further, that one were to randomly select ants out of the growing colony, take them outside, and burn them with a magnifying glass – claiming some mumbo-jumbo about redemption and ant-free-will….

          EVEN IF that mumbo-jumbo were true, even if the ants couldn’t be redeemed/have free will without the occasional sun-laser-strike…..so the fuck what?

          Why start the project in the first place?

        • Anat

          You are absolutely correct. Not creating a universe would be a more moral choice than creating this one.

        • You seem to have some evidence-free beliefs in this domain. Are you comfortable with that?

        • Anat

          Huh? I do not have any beliefs in this domain because I don’t have any reason to assume a deity exists. But if a deity exists and it is omniscient and omnipotent then there are consequences to that.

        • You clearly do have beliefs of what God could do if he existed, and how good that would be. It’s not clear that a single one of these beliefs is founded in any empirical evidence. And yet you seem quite confident about them.

        • adam

          “You clearly do have beliefs of what God could do if he existed, and how good that would be.”

          Clearly from all the “God claims” from theists.

          ” It’s not clear that a single one of these beliefs is founded in any empirical evidence.”

          Exactly the atheists point.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f13c9a6994d545cc03dc045bf1d796f3f47635db60b7beabd2bae91a593fab4.jpg

        • Anat

          No. I have a belief about what the words ‘omniscient’ and ‘omnipotent’ mean. A being that is limited in what it can do is not omnipotent. A being that can’t predict to the finest detail the outcome of its actions is not omniscient.

        • Paul B. Lot

          No. I have a belief about what the words ‘omniscient’ and ‘omnipotent’ mean. A being that is limited in what it can do is not omnipotent. A being that can’t predict to the finest detail the outcome of its actions is not omniscient.

          A belief, by the way, which you did not come up with on your own.

          Luke’s bullshit tactic here would be less bullshit if you had. But you didn’t. None of us did.

          All of us are working with provisional, sloppy, contradictory definitions given to us by other human beings who have no idea what the fuck they are talking about.

          Using the fact that [we] don’t know what we’re talking about, because [they] didn’t know what they were talking about when they made this shit up, seems like shooting the messenger to me.

          But then, clarity and rationality were never strong criteria for Luke, if indeed a criterion either one is at all, rather the key seems to be maintaining superficially plausible reasons to feel correct.

        • Can an omnipotent being violate logic? Can an omnipotent + omniscient being not practice kenosis (self-limitation)?

        • Anat

          1) Maybe they can. Or if even they can’t then maybe omnipotence is simply impossible. Maybe we should call them quasi-omnipotent.

          2) If they do they are still responsible for choosing not to do whatever they limit themselves from doing.

          BTW if you want to explore what the thinking of an almost omniscient (though not in any way omnipotent) being might look like, see Lord Emperor of Dune in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. It is not a fun existence.

        • 1) Maybe they can. Or if even they can’t then maybe omnipotence is simply impossible. Maybe we should call them quasi-omnipotent.

          Or maybe illogic is bad for beings like us.

          2) If they do they are still responsible for choosing not to do whatever they limit themselves from doing.

          Of course. But have you properly estimated the costs of illogic to beings like us?

          BTW if you want to explore what the thinking of an almost omniscient (though not in any way omnipotent) being might look like, see Lord Emperor of Dune in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. It is not a fun existence.

          Ahh, thanks! One of my many imperfections is that I have yet to dive into Dune. Do you suggest I read the book, first?

        • Anat

          Unfortunately it is the 4th in a series, you won’t understand the world building and why the emperor got to be the way he was without them. The first book appears to unsuspecting readers a typical hero’s journey type of story, but then things get complicated.

        • Alright. You did advertise it well to me. 🙂 I like thinking about “almost omni-X”, because it avoids many paradoxes and sometimes helps us realize that when we thought was omni-X actually isn’t. The taking of limit-values can be very tricky business. Infinity is finicky.

        • Greg G.

          Can an omnipotent being violate logic?

          Under the strong definition of omnipotent, yes. Under the weak definition, no.

          Can an omnipotent + omniscient being not practice kenosis (self-limitation)?

          Who knows? But doing so would be so irresponsible that it could not also be omnibenevolent.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Under the strong definition of omnipotent, yes. Under the weak definition, no.

          How could we possibly know which was right?

          Abbot’s Flatland? Square-circles in non-Euclidian geometries?

          Maybe every day for god is “opposite day” and so when it’s “violating logic”, it isn’t.

        • Greg G.

          The strong definition of omnipotence is the ability to do anything. Presuppositionalists seem to use this definition when they say that we can do logic because God created logic.

          The weak definition says omnipotence is the ability to do anything that is logically possible to evade question like “Can God create a brick so large…”

          But then, magicians create illusions that seem to defy logic. When I was a child, I noticed that Mom could lift things I could not, but Dad could lift things that Mom could not and he could lift anything she asked him to. I thought he could lift anything. It never occurred to me that she had some idea of his limitations and wouldn’t ask him to do the impossible.

        • The weak definition says omnipotence is the ability to do anything that is logically possible to evade question like “Can God create a brick so large…”

          But then this admits to an external logic that God is bound to, and then the Transcendental Argument is lost.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Euthyphro’s moral logical dilemma.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’m just fascinated by the idea that we could assert that we know what is and what isn’t “logically possible” for a non-naturalistic being. For “something” bound by neither space nor time nor math nor reason.

          Random Numbers seems to have been pushing back against that notion himself…. although combining [that] p.o.v. with [argumentation here] is utterly irrational: IF [the nonsensicality of the notion of “God”] is not [a point in the “Con” category, but instead a point in the “Pro” category] because [we couldn’t possibly know what is and is not “logically possible” for a “God”]….then it seems to me that that information should be enough to rest one’s laurels on.

          I mean, sure; it might suck that others don’t believe….but how could they? They [cling to rationality], when the key is to [let go of rationality].

          One should, therefore, be able to ignore us and lead a good life, per “God’s” instructions.
          I don’t understand the [in-context] motivation to proselytize. [The act of arguing with us here], per se, seems antithetical to the dictum that one should be [letting go of rationality].

          But…maybe once you’ve let go of rationality, you’re not bothered by the fact that X and Y are antithetical to one another….?

          Wait, no: that can’t be it. There are (?quasi?) religious traditions who teach this very thing – it seems to me that Buddhists/Daoists follow something like this code: “Yes, it doesn’t make sense. Embrace it anyway, live a good life. Convince others through your goodness, not through your argument.”

          I respect the hell out of those people’s way of life, even if I disagree about their reasons.

          But….perhaps, this was never about logic or truth or honesty in the first place for the likes of Luke or Random.

        • Greg G.

          I’m just fascinated by the idea that we could assert that we know what is and what isn’t “logically possible” for a non-naturalistic being. For “something” bound by neither space nor time nor math nor reason.

          I try to be flexible. The strong definition works the same for some arguments but we can also use “sufficiently powerful” so it doesn’t require omnipotence. Anything less gets down to the “then why call it god” question.

          Random Numbers seems to have been pushing back against that notion himself

          Yes, but I pointed out that there is still the omnibenevolent claim so it is not a matter of omnipotence only. Sure omnipotence can do things that are malevolent but omnibenevolence is blown away. If omnipotence can change the meaning of words or labels, then it does no good to describe it.

          I respect the hell out of those people’s way of life, even if I disagree about their reasons.

          So do I. My wife and some of the people we travel with in Vietnam like to visit Buddhist temples. One monk was asking me some philosophical questions and I thought I gave some good answers to which he agreed, but my wife may have corrected my answers in translation. Neither I nor the monk would have known the difference.

        • Susan

          It’s not clear that a single one of these beliefs is founded in any empirical evidence.

          It’s not. Because you are proposing a model for which you have never in your over twenty thousand comments provided evidence and asking people to address it in purely logical terms.

          When they do, you accuse them of having no empirical evidence.

          The creationists taught you well how to fuck up an honest discussion.

          So, if Batman could eat stars, which particular stars do you think he would eat first?

          Please provide empirical evidence.

          I am a special believer in Batman. I can blue link to random studies and insist people read books that probably don’t support my culinary claims about Batman.

          If you point that out, I will accuse you of being a member of an ingroup and insist you do more work to make my bullshit more central to a discussion which I like to monopolize but to which I have contributed exactly nothing.

          Point that out and I will explain that this is exactly how Rwanda started and how bullied ten-year-olds commit suicide.

          Welcome to The Susan Show.

          Unless you’ve got evidence, Luke. And a model.

          Got either, Luke?

          Or are you just here to shit disturb fight evil on the Internet?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sherlock Holmes is the greatest private detective in history. I believe that.

        • epeeist

          Sherlock Holmes is the greatest private detective in history.

          Nonsense, the greatest private detective in history is obviously Lord Peter Wimsey. Look how he solved the Attenbury Diamonds mystery after it had gone quiet for decades.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your man only comes fourth after my mans top spot, so pah!

          http://listverse.com/2011/01/18/top-10-fictional-detectives/

        • Greg G.

          They left out Sam Vimes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Poor Sam…doesn’t even make this list of 30…

          http://backgroundchecks.org/30-best-fictional-detectives.html

        • Michael Neville

          Sam Vimes does very little detecting. He’s a cop whose main interest is keeping Ankh-Morpork as functional as possible. Vimes does some first-rate detecting in Feet of Clay but most of the time he’s a plodder (see Thud and Snuff) who gets to the end through sheer obstinacy.

        • Not to split hairs, but do I recall him being a consulting detective?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Originally, or in his modern persona…..give it yer best shot.

        • adam

          “It would help me to have you articulate just what suffering is acceptable for God to allow. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38a372d179f379b51cdb5f1c227e4a5bd6dd543347d09566c2aedd943b72e754.jpg

        • Paul B. Lot

          No, rather it means that because you and I are probably doing approximately jack shit to do anything about the fact that we have the food production capacity for 10 billion people (with a world population of less than 8 billion), we’re giant-ass hypocrites if we blame God for not doing something we ourselves won’t do. What do I mean by that? You and I both consider whatever nice little lives we have to be more important than making whatever sacrifices would be necessary to cutting through the BS that results in stuff like The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FACK2knC08E

          https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_and_ola_rosling_how_not_to_be_ignorant_about_the_world

        • TheNuszAbides

          Shall I illustrate the massive denial when it comes to the pervasive
          believe that we in the West live in something like the folk notion of a
          democracy?

          it’s refreshing that you [merely among humans in general] appreciate this phenomenon as a problem of denial or false attribution or misguided enthusiasm or erroneous identification or what-have-you, but expanding its scope to the state of our immortal souls is still indistinguishable from wishful thinking.

        • Yeah I really don’t understand that logic. If you are stupid/​incompetent/​evil in the small things, do you really think you’re going to be intelligent/​competent/​good in the big things?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m not even convinced humans can collectively/consistently distinguish between ‘small’ and ‘big’.

        • TheNuszAbides

          (but gathering to compare notes seems infinitely preferable to the disgusting alternatives we so often come up with.)

        • Pofarmer

          Well stated.

        • Greg G.

          Because doing it would not accomplish his purposes.

          Then you’re giving up some part of the ‘perfectly benevolent’ characterization of God. You’re saying quite explicitly here that feeding people who are dying of starvation is not on God’s to-do list; not something God thinks is very high priority.

          What does God have to lose? If he doesn’t feed the starving, Christians like Luke blame humans. If a person feeds a starving Christian, they thank God for it. If doctors save a Christians life, it’s a miracle. If a tornado takes out the neighbor’s house and family, they thank God for his mercy because they pray better, even if Luke says it’s the wrong way to pray.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because doing it would not accomplish his purposes.

          What is his purposes? Not so omnipotent after all then?

          But on either explanation, you still have the problem of what to do about empirical evidence …

          Irrelevant to omnibenevolence.

          I mean, if humans will not listen to their own priests scientists, why would they listen to God?

          WTF has listening got to do with it? The Israelite’s wandering in the wilderness didn’t “listen” to YahwehJesus. Why would you think YahwehJesus gives a fuck who is listening while he is being omnibenevolent? Does omnibenevolence only work for the listeners?

        • adam

          ” Does omnibenevolence only work for the listeners?”

          Of course, by presupposition.

        • TheNuszAbides

          assuming you meant climatic, what proportion of theists do you think take climatic instability seriously? do you think their prayers could be more effective than material and political support of mitigation efforts? (in this context we can skip over the hypothetical masses who have no resources, political or otherwise, to spare.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luke loves to generalise when it suits his argument, but is persnickety fucker when the other does it.

          But that seems to be a theist thing. Luke just takes it to an extreme.

          Like his humans and human race in this example above. Forgetting that there are at least two fronts on this AGW subject, the don’t give a fucks and the give a fucks. Interestingly, it is, by and large, the science savvy humans that are the give a fucks, and the theistic humans that are the don’t give a fucks. Ergo, there is a section of the human race that accepts the evidence on AGW in spite of Luke’s tripe.

        • Yes I did mean ‘climatic’; thanks for the correction. I don’t have the data on what % of theists take it seriously and I would want to also check average income and see what is likely to be the true causal factor (or factors; I’m approximating when the data may show this to be an invalid strategy). But this seems to be a deflection. The OT is well-acquainted with situations where most of the people who claim to be followers of God are not. Go read Ezek 5:5–9. What is required when people are that willfully self-deluded? Pain and suffering, and unfortunately, all too often a lot of death. Thank God for resurrection!

        • Kevin K

          That shouldn’t matter, should it? Whether or not people believe in something that is harming the planet shouldn’t be the deciding factor as to whether God Almighty intervenes to mitigate the damage. It should be what he does naturally and without question as part of his omnibenevolent nature.

          I think the only thing we can say with certainty about Yahweh is that claims of omnibenevolence have been definitively proven false. Even theologically speaking, the vast majority of Christians (except universalists) think this god consigns almost the entire population of the planet to hell. That’s kinda the opposite of benevolent.

          I’m thinking of just giving up on this attribute as an arguing point because it’s so demonstrably wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          (except universalists)

          And also the atheist flavour of the cult.

        • Kevin K

          I wasn’t aware that there was a distinction these days. I thought they had merged into the UU church.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…there’s even different flavours of Christian atheists…ffs.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism#Separation_from_the_church

        • TheNuszAbides

          Whether or not people believe in something that is harming the planet shouldn’t be the deciding factor as to whether God Almighty intervenes to mitigate the damage

          agreed. i do have a bad habit of slipping into devil’s boss’s advocate mode without clarifying my personal stance.

          claims of omnibenevolence have been definitively proven false

          yep, i’m generally in agreement with the wing of the peanut gallery that considers Calvinist/presup types to be the most logically consistent – not saying much of course, considering the raft-load of fantasy premises they’re still beholden to.

          I’m thinking of just giving up on this attribute as an arguing point because it’s so demonstrably wrong.

          yeah, i generally ignore it on ignostic-flavored grounds – yes, we’re all relatively independently capable of imagining ‘omnibenevolence’, but anything including “obviously that would mean _____” or “but we can’t assume we know anything about [my] uber-everything Maker” is a non-starter for me.

        • adam
        • Kevin K

          An omnibenevolent god, I would think, would be doing just that sort of thing because it was in his nature.

          The only conclusion one can reach is that the god is not omnibenevolent. Of all the omni traits, that’s the one least in evidence anyway. Time to jettison it. The Calvinists have.

        • Greg G.

          For manna to come down from heaven to feed the starving masses, one of the two billion Christians with faith the size of a mustard seed would have to pray for it, or maybe just two of them. Maybe they have to fast before they pray. I’m surprised no Christian has ever come across the correct formula to get such a prayer answered. I have heard Christians make that sort of prayer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or cause mana to rain down and feed the starving people of Africa?

          Or so much quail they come out of ones nose….trillions of them.

          God coated the ground with dead quail. A meter deep, within a circle 60 kilometers in diameter. Six trillion (6 x 1012) dead quail. A couple million for each of several million people.

          But don’t get a sickener for it and whinge…YahwehJesus will smote yer whining arse.

          And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. ~Numbers 11:33

        • Greg G.

          The Israelis complained that the manna didn’t taste good. God didn’t understand flavor? But why create airborne food that falls to earth? Why not create the nutrients right in the bloodstreams of the people? Less mess that way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because the author of the story wasn’t very au fait with the dietary system and how nutients work.

          An omnipotent god could have done away with the need for food completely…and water, even if just for his Chosen One’s, who were a bunch of doubting bastards even with all the demos the book says. Luke says it would be a waste of his time, the world is awash with doubters. Luke knows the mind of God it seems, of course God was never put off in the past, but then the story wouldn’t have went the way it did. The one that looks like God was a made up entity by ignorant humans yarn.

          By the 1980s, the Bible’s stories of the Patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt and Conquest of Canaan were no longer considered historical, .[…] Then in the 1990s a school of thought emerged from the background of the 1970s and 1980s which held that the entire enterprise of studying ancient Israel and its history was seriously flawed by an over-reliance on the biblical text, which was too problematic (meaning untrustworthy) to be used even selectively as a source for Israel’s past, and that Israel itself was in any case itself a problematic subject.

        • Kevin K

          What kind of an idiot eats anything that just died for no reason? An idiot who wants to get sick with the same pathogen that killed the first thing, that’s who!!

        • Greg G.

          Back then, there just wasn’t enough road kill to go around.

        • adam

          “Were God to do these things, he would lock us in permanent childhood.”

          Something called “Heaven”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f6edead041781202f80c75d015d387e6cc53a861b9cb5dd846e0f4dd40a5805a.jpg

        • Susan

          I think this has profound implications for how God could communicate to us, to finite beings.

          I think the problem is when finite beings claim an infinite being exists that they can’t even support in principle. They have no evidence because there is none. They have no clear model because there is none.

          One finite being (who claims an infinite being exists) says to another finite being that the problem is that the second person is finite.

          The problems with the first person’s claims are myriad.

          It’s a mess of logic and it’s based on claims by finite beings that are inseparable from claims of an imaginary being. . If they are separable, separate them.

          That is, they begin with a conclusion they can’t justify in principle.

          And then, they try to make garbagey arguments from one finite being to another.

          I think this has profound implications for how God could communicate to us.

          Nothing profound about it. See above.

          We could wank on forever about any imaginary being if that’s the game you want to play.

          And that is the game you want to play.

          How many comments now?

          =====

          Edit: Tried to change a comma and somehow deleted a paragraph. Tried to rewrite the paragraph in the same spirit but it wasn’t even close to the original paragraph.

          Also, to add: “How many comments now?”

        • TheNuszAbides

          I think you are over complicating it.

          understatement of the month

        • Greg G.

          EDIT: cheap shot of course … i personally love to over-complicate and “over”-think.

          My favorite opening line of a post on the internet was from Steven J on talkorigins about 15 years ago:
          “If we want to be pedantic, and who doesn’t…”

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, of course that depends on one’s preferred definition of pedantic …

        • I think you are over complicating it.

          Which, unfortunately, is synonymous with “Luke wrote something.”

  • Kevin K

    Religion as “catfishing”. I like it. Very nice analogy.

  • RichardSRussell

    “I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    Do you gag as much as I do at hearing this pious crap?

    I’ve known my sister for over 6 decades. Altho I live in Madison, WI, and she lives in Denver, CO, so we only see each other every couple of years, I can tell you:

    • how tall she is.

    • what color her eyes are.

    • what color and how curly her hair is.

    • the different kinds of prescription drugs she takes, and what for.

    • which parts of her have been operated on.

    • which colleges she attended.

    • what jobs she’s held.

    • what cities she’s lived in.

    • what her hobbies are.

    • the names and breeds of the various dogs and cats she’s had thru the years.

    • her favorite sports teams, and which one she has season tickets for.

    • the TV programs she watches regularly.

    • that it’s her on the phone just from the sound of her voice.

    • her att¡tude toward eating meat.

    • whom she voted for in the last presidential election.

    • what kind of medical care she wants in case of a terminal illness.

    • her favorite color.

    • and about 50 other things.

    Now that’s a personal relationship. Could any of you Bible-thumpers manage even half a dozen comparable answers about your “deep, personal friend” Jesus? And, even assuming your overwrot imagination could in fact gin up a few stabs at them, what are chances that they’d agree with any other equally deluded True Believer? OTOH, you could ask any of my sister’s other good friends about the above characteristics, and they’d give you the exact same answers I would. That’s because my sister, unlike your Jesus, is real — a 3-dimensional, flesh-and-blood, living, breathing, real-world human being, with a life, preferences, substance, and history.

    So, Mr. or Ms. True Believer, let’s say you’re walking across library mall one day, you see your good buddy Jesus in a bunch of folks ahead of you, and you holler “Hey, J, dude, wait up!”. Would he?

    Let’s not kid ourselves. This would never even happen because there’s no way you’d be able to pick Jesus out of a crowd. Heck, you couldn’t pick him out of a 1-person lineup. You wouldn’t know him if he walked up to you on the street and handed you his business card. (In fact, it would tickle me pink to see your reaction if somebody actually did exactly that.)

    So we both know exactly what your claim to have a “deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is. It’s bullsh¡t. You know it’s bullsh¡t. Everybody else knows it’s bullsh¡t. The only reason you keep on repeating this bullsh¡t is because it’s the slogan of the club that some con artist or charlatan has suckered you into believing you really want to be a member of. All you have to do is keep repeating the magic bullsh¡t phrase “I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and you can keep going to the club meetings. (Provided you keep paying the dues, too; let’s not forget what’s really important here.)

    But don’t think that repeating that phrase is going to win you anything but contempt or possibly some degree of pity from anyone with a functioning brain. All you’re really demonstrating is that you don’t know diddly about real relationships or the way the real world really works. You are, in short, a pathetic dupe. And full of bullsh¡t, to boot.

    • Greg G.

      • her favorite sports teams, and which one she has season tickets for.

      Lemme guess… not the Packers.

      Broncos? Nuggets?

      • RichardSRussell

        Nuggets.

        Tho I should show you a pic of the football jersey she assembled herself from component parts that advertise the Denver Packers on the front and the Green Bay Broncos on the back.

        • Greg G.

          Was she a Nuggets fan in the 1980s? I used to play on a couple of industrial league basketball teams with the brother of a guy who went on to play in the NBA there for several years.

          Ahh, memories of being young.

    • Whaddya talking about? I’ve seen his photo!
      https://i.redd.it/5oiev5fjphkx.jpg

      Of course, then I’ve seen this photo as well, so I must admit that my confidence is shaken. (Or is it?? More photos = more evidence!)
      https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/753842380072112132/Rw9fXOth.jpg

    • adam

      “Do you gag as much as I do at hearing this pious crap?”

      Yes, of course.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/898b47b5d4ffdbca435abd06d3ef1fddbd50a9350bac4b8c5b6f8e4eaa553860.jpg

    • ORigel

      From The God Delusion (or was it Daylight Atheism?):
      “What does John Frum look like?”
      “An American!”

  • RichardSRussell

    1st-Order Questions

    These are 2nd-order questions:

    (1) Why is the sky blue?

    (2) Where do N-rays come from?

    (3) Have you stopped beating your wife?

    (4) How did Jesus rise from the dead?

    Each one should call up, in a properly analytical mind, a more important 1st-order question. Let me do it for #1 as an example and leave the rest to the student as an exercise.

    (1) Q: Is the sky blue?

    A: Actually, that’s an unwarranted generalization. Between nighttime and cloud cover, it’s actually more often black than blue.

    See how it works? Now you go.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I suppose we could call that the catfish Jesus. Alexander is a bad analogy because he was a military conqueror. Jesus is portrayed as a philosopher. A better analogy there would be debates over the existence of Socrates or Pythagoras.

    • And no one much cares whether “Socrates” was a real guy or not. His teachings (who cares where they came from?) are valuable today.

      Doesn’t work that way with Jesus. That he was a real guy is essential to appreciating his message.

      • MNb

        “no one much cares whether ….”
        Anyone who values the scientific method cares and anyone who doesn’t care about Socrates but only about Jesus rejects the scientific method on a very important point.
        Checking a method whether it works on something with a known outcome is standard scientific practice, as you will immediately admit when it’s about dating methods like C-14.
        So this was quite an anti-scientific comment of yours.

        • eric

          Xenophon and Aristophanies both implied in writing that they knew him (Socrates…not Jesus :). So it wasn’t just Plato, and unlike Jesus we have sources that are contemporaneous, not just written hundreds of years later.

          I think the “test of method” works just fine here. We have some second-hand accounts that lead us to believe Socrates was a real person. AIUI most scholars accept this as sufficient, but maybe (I’m not sure) a minority don’t. The same is basically true for Jesus; the majority accept the second-hand accounts as sufficient evidence that there was such a person, but a minority don’t.

          It’s the miraculous claims about Jesus that most non-believers will reject based on the sort of evidence we have. A few second-hand accounts are insufficient for believing in violations of the laws of physics. But here again I don’t think there’s anything inconsistent in the way the two figures are (or would be) treated, because if someone claimed Socrates rose from the dead because a previously lost work of Xenophon claimed he did, we would not accept that level of evidence as sufficient to believe the claim in the Socrates case, either.

        • MNb

          “we have sources that are contemporaneous, not just written hundreds of years later”
          Nope, we don’t have them. Not even fragments, like of the NT (the oldest is from 150 CE according to a conservative estimation, which is still not “hundreds of years. We have copies of copies of copies of …. something ironically BobS also thinks a much bigger problem than it actually is. The oldest complete copy of Plato for instance is from late 9th Century CE.
          Sorry, after this propagandistic cheapo I can’t take your comment seriously anymore. This is reinforced by you implicitly rejecting the branch of science called textual criticism or the Lachmann Method, which ironically inspired Evolution Theory. You just confirmed my comment: it’s necessary to test a new method on a research topic with a known outcome. You spectacularly fail.

          “The miraculous claims about Jesus”
          Irrelevant for my comment. Historical research is a branch of science, ie methodological naturalism, so will never conclude “the miracles performed by Jesus are historical”. That principle applies to every single character of Antiquity. That you apparently don’t understand this is another reason to not take you seriously.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think by “contemporaneous” eric means written by 3 known authors by name, 1 of the 3 writing at the same time that Socrates was alleged to have lived, the other 2 directly after his death, but certainly living at the time Socrates was alive, if indeed he was, and with the impression they knew of him personally and recounting Socrates death. Unlike the non-contemporary anonymous authors of the gospels writing at least a generation later, and more than likely 2 generations or more later.

          A good non-biased weigh up of the evidence pertaining to the two can be read at….

          http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Socrates_vs_Jesus#note-2
          .

        • eric

          Yes exactly. We have copies of writings the originals of which were written contemporaneously or closely after Socrates’ times. For example, Socrates’ birth and death are typically related as about 470 BC – 399 BC, and Aristophanes’ The Clouds was performed in 439 BC – IOW while Socrates would have been living. Likewise, Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates to the Jury must have been originally written some time before 354 BC, when Xenophon died. So it was written within ~55 years of Socrates’ supposed death, a time gap much shorter than the ones seen for the Gospels.

        • Ignorant Amos

          History is a more provisional science than any other. And we know how provisional ideas in science can be. It doesn’t take much to overthrow an historical position.

          The bible is particularly problematic. The tide of scholarly opinion on the Bible has shifted several times in the past centuries.

          Biblical minimalism, once a controversial viewpoint in the 1980’s and 1990’s, is not so much today.

          The Israelite nation as explained by the biblical writers has little in the way of a historical background. It is a highly ideological construct created by ancient scholars of Jewish tradition in order to legitimize their own religious community and its religio-political claims on land and religious exclusivity.— Lemche 1998, “The Israelites in History and Tradition”, pp. 165–66

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_minimalism#CITEREFLemche1998

        • eric

          I’ve addressed your first two paragraphs in my reply to Ignorant Amos, below.

          As for your last one, I disagree though I think your belief about methodological naturalism is a common one. I think it’s more a provisional conclusion of science (and history) rather than an assumption of them. As such, while it may be a strong guide to which hypotheses we consider and try and test, it is always – in principle – possible that new evidence comes along and causes us to rethink it. Scientists have in fact tested ‘supernatural’ claims in the past, and will likely continue to do so in the future, albeit it’s a tiny fraction of the tests science does. If you were right and we would “never conclude” these things – if miracles were simply not considered in science, even in principle – then such tests would never occur because doing them would make no sense. But they do occur. Scientists occasionally test the claims of faith healers, they test telepathy. In the past people tried to weigh the soul. So it seems to me pretty obvious that science would be willing to conclude miracles occurred – if the data supported their occurrence. That willingness is demonstrated by the fact that we test such claims. Sure, every such experiment reconfirms that MN is a great provisional conclusion, but IMO your never claim completely misunderstands the nature of science.

      • Sophia Sadek

        The gospels portray Jesus as teaching the ideas of Pagan philosophy to Jews with little preparation in the basics such as mathematics and logic. His message was poorly received by his own students. Paul of Tarsus took the opportunity to fashion a completely different message in order to create a cult of personality around the crucifixion. That Jesus was real and was really crucified is more essential to Paul’s message than anything else.

        • Greg G.

          Paul doesn’t seem to think Jesus was a first century person. Everything he says about Jesus is either adulation or from the Old Testament. His knowledge comes from revelation which comes from the Old Testament. He thinks his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles”, so apparently he thought their knowledge came the same way.

        • Sophia Sadek

          That is not really surprising. After all, the mind of the Pharisees was stuck in the ancient literature in a very fundamentalist manner.

  • Lerk!

    “One of the more ridiculous responses I’ve gotten to this problem is that for God to make his existence obvious and eliminate the need for faith would be an imposition. He would force belief on me, whether I wanted it or not.”

    On the contrary, knowing of a certainty that Yahweh exists would allow people to choose whether they want to follow him or not. I can’t possibly rebel against a deity whom I believe to be mythological.

    • Kevin K

      Right. Belief does not mean acceptance. Otherwise … no Satan.

      • Greg G.

        Wait a minute… Christians say that God is hidden because revealing himself would eliminate our free will to believe in him. But couldn’t Satan reveal himself and accomplish that?

        • Kevin K

          Ha!!! Good point!

          I think you win today’s internet for that one.

        • Kodie

          The way i see it, satan is just a scapegoat like hell is to get people to come to church, obey the church, fear and avoid things the church tells them are evil, judge people who neither fear nor avoid these things, and just like they personify nature (the beautiful parts) as god, all these nasty temptations and dangers are surely a person named satan calling the believers away from church. And besides their “satan is hidden in plain sight” excuse. Satan doesn’t appear plainly because he doesn’t want to frighten you away, he wants you to be dumb and weak and slip into some sort of comfort rather than be clearly warned. Jesus fuck, can you imagine if satan revealed himself? He’d never get new recruits. It’d be the obvious clear warning that religious people do now, since I think a good 70-80% of the god story for a lot of them is avoiding anything that might look like curiosity about whatever sin is. The other 20% is divided up between hating people who are fucking up America’s average for them, and basking in god’s exclusive type of love if only for the fact they got to wake up another day, even if everything else in their life sucks.

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, Satan could reveal himself as God and say that Christianity is wrong and Pharisaic Judaism is correct. You must obey the Old Testament laws strictly. Worshiping Jesus is right out because it violates the first and easiest commandment. There aren’t even enough bulls for everyone to sacrifice to get forgiveness for that. Fortunately, stones are reusable.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Wasn’t God revealed to Lucifer? How the hell did Satan manage to rebel, if [non-hiddenness] => [inability to reject]?

        • Greg G.

          Did Satan still have free will after knowing God existed?

        • Paul B. Lot

          If he didn’t, does that mean that he chose to rebel before he knew what he was rebelling against?

        • Greg G.

          Maybe he was just mad at God.