God’s Life Is Hell

God’s Life Is Hell April 3, 2017

I first heard this story about thirty years ago.

One day, a man wakes up on a couch in a field. The setting is new and strange, but he feels at peace. He has a vague memory of some sort of accident. Is this the afterlife?

A man with the formal demeanor of a butler comes over and asks if he’d like anything.

“Maybe some food?”

The butler indicates a table just behind the couch full of exotic snacks.

He asks for something to drink and gets all that he could want. He asks for other people and finds himself in a party.

Days pass—or so it seems, because there are no obvious indications of time—and the man finds every pleasure he could want. Food and drink, art and music, theater and sports, community and solitude. The mood is always upbeat and cheerful.

Finally, he asks his butler for a problem to solve. Just a little obstacle to make life interesting.

“I’m sorry,” the butler says, “but problems are the one thing we don’t have here.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” the man says. “It was just a whim.”

Life rolls on as his moods demand, with formal dinners and casual picnics, sparkling literary conversation and bawdy drinking games. But the absence of problems wears on him. He asks repeatedly and is told, always politely, that problems don’t exist.

Finally, after what seems like years or even decades have passed, the man snaps. “I can’t take it anymore! Life is too easy here, and humans need problems! If I can’t have any here, I’ll go to the other place. Send me to hell!”

The butler, who had always shown an expressionless face, smiles slightly for the first time. “And just where do you think you are?”

Limitations to omniscience

That’s a taste of God’s life. We see problems as bad things because most of us have too many, but what if you have none, like the guy in the story or like God? God could never be perplexed by anything, and there’s nothing to exercise creativity on. There’s no pleasure in solving a problem. Not only are problems nonexistent for God, they’re not even a surprise. No matter what it is, he saw it coming. No matter what it is, the correct response is obvious. Not only can’t God wrestle with a problem, he can’t think a new thought, plan, regret, be surprised, get a joke, or make a decision. Omniscience can be a bitch.

But everyone knows the appointments that fill God’s calendar. He’s granting prayers, weighing the consequences of people’s actions, satisfy his agenda by performing undetectable miracles, tweaking evolution so it goes in the right direction, and so on. Think of Jim Carrey playing God in Bruce Almighty.

Nope. God’s omniscience has consequences, and the God Christians have invented is as personable as a machine. He knows every request and every human problem, now and in the future. Knowing the future, God could list his every action like this: “At time T1, do action A1; at T2, do A2,” and so on. God is nothing more. Not only could he mindlessly carry out these actions, but so could a universal wish-granting machine. Yes, God could be replaced by a machine.

We can imagine a conversation with God, but he couldn’t see it like we do. A conversation for him would be like stating lines in a play, all of which he’s memorized.

It’s true that God in the Old Testament has original conversations, gets surprised (example: he regrets making humanity before the flood), gets angry (in response to the golden calf), and so on, all of which requires not-omniscience. But how is this possible? God would’ve seen it all coming 13.7 billion years ago.

Christians have changed the properties of their unchanging God over time.

Timelessness

What did God do all day before he created the universe? If he created the universe, that admits that things weren’t perfect beforehand—if they were, changing things would make them less perfect. And if things were perfect after creating the universe, why wait so long for creating it? (And who’s going to say that this world is especially perfect?)

Fourth-century church father Augustine told of someone who was asked what God was doing before he created the universe. The answer: “He was preparing hell for those prying into such deep subjects.”

But pry we must. A popular answer is to say that the Big Bang theory has a beginning for the universe (more precisely, this theory says that there’s a point in time before which science can’t take us yet). Conclusion: God lived timelessly before he created the universe.

No, a timelessness God doesn’t solve anything. How could God create the universe if he’s outside time? That is, how do you create anything if you’re outside of time? Creation is a process, which can only operate within time. That’s also true for the decision to create. A timeless god is a frozen, unchanging, and inert god. He makes no decisions, sees nothing, decides nothing, initiates nothing, and loves nothing.

Christians have created a God who’s inert (when outside of time) and a soul-less robot whose hands are tied by his own omniscience. They should think through the evidence-free properties they assign to God.

Can you imagine anything more absurd
than an infinite intelligence in infinite nothing
wasting an eternity?
— Robert Ingersoll

Image credit: Ted Van Pelt, flickr, CC

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  • Kevin K

    Of course, the man just gave himself a problem — how to get out of the place he was in.

    • kraut2

      But he already knew that forever…

    • epeeist

      Of course, the man just gave himself a problem — how to get out of the place he was in.

      If it can’t get out of the place it is in then it isn’t omnipotent. If it is able to either stay in the place it is or to get out of it then it can’t be omniscient.

  • Ben Yandell

    The story you mention is a Twilight Zone episode, “A Nice Place to Visit.”

  • RichardSRussell

    Yes, God could be replaced by a machine.

    Alan Turing would be so proud of him!

  • RichardSRussell

    Christians have created a God who’s inert (when outside of time) and a soul-less robot whose hands are tied by his own omniscience. They should think through the evidence-free properties they assign to God.

    Sounds like it could be a sequel to a famous Rolling Stones tune.

  • kraut2

    “A timeless god is a frozen, unchanging, and inert god”
    God exists at a point, dimensionless and timeless. Time implies dimensions, time is connected to entropy.
    The interesting question is: what happens to a god when he encounters time after creation?
    If he is omniscient how could he live in an timeless eternity not knowing what time was? If he knew time, being omnisicent and eternal…Ah, its a mystery.

  • Herald Newman

    … and so on, all of which requires not-omniscience. But how is this
    possible? God would’ve seen it all coming 13.7 billion years ago.

    I’m envisioning something like Brian Keith Dalton’s Mr Deity character. He can turn off his omniscience and become a bumbling boob. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn9ogQuztgg

  • Otto

    The story also reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where the ne’er do well dies and gets all the gambling, etc. he wants. The problem is he wins every time, and finds out that is his hell.

    • Chuck Johnson

      The Twilight Zone episode is “A Nice Place To Visit”.

      I find his “getting his every wish granted” to be just a plot device, and a flawed one at that.
      He doesn’t get all of his desires granted, just a diabolical subset of all possible desires.

      Here’s the story that I see:
      Rocky Valentine spends his life treating his fellow humans as mere props in a play starring Rocky.

      After he dies, everyone in hell (with the possible exception of Mr. Pip) turns out to be merely props in a play starring Rocky.

      • Yeah, after all, he didn’t get that wish for a challenge granted.

        To be fair, couldn’t your scenario also describe the plot?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Michael:
          “Yeah, after all, he didn’t get that wish for a challenge granted.”

          Chuck:
          And he didn’t get his wish to open the door and walk out into a better scenario granted, either.

        • Indeed.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Michael:
          “To be fair, couldn’t your scenario also describe the plot?”

          Chuck:
          Years ago, when I first saw this story, the (number one) “all wishes granted” plot device was the one that I recognized.

          More recently, I have noticed the (number two) “treating people as props” plot device in this story.

          People should recognize both plot devices.
          This makes the story more interesting and more instructive.

        • I suppose they are both there if you look.

  • Loren Petrich

    I’ve come across and thought up some similar God paradoxes, like:

    God, presumably being uncreated, thus has a purposeless, meaningless, empty, and miserable existence.

    Since God is omnipotent and omniscient, God is thus invulnerable, and God thus never has to show any courage.

    God also does not have to resist any temptations.

    • grasshopper

      “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” — Oscar Wilde

      • Chuck Johnson

        Yes, but he was a pretty wild guy.

        • MikeyM

          ‘Let me be surrounded by luxury, I can do without the necessities!’

      • Jeff Hinkle

        After I whack off I’m not tempted for an hour or so lol

        • Michael Neville

          Slacker.

    • epeeist

      God also does not have to resist any temptations.

      Aristotle argued that his “first cause” could not be moral since it lacked nothing and morality develops out of a lack of virtue.

      • Yeah, the Aristotelian God was more like Bob said: something of a machine that just started things running.

        • Ficino

          A little bit more precisely, always kept things running. Ari denied that the universe had a beginning in time.

          Importantly, Ari’s first cause does not have will. Unlike Aquinas’ God.

        • Yes, I had heard he thought it always existed, but forgot.

          I’m not sure why it would even be called a god then. Seems like a significant difference.

        • Ficino

          At the end of Metaphysics 12 (Lambda) 9, Aristotle has argued that the thinking done by the first unmoved mover is “throughout eternity … the thought which has itself for its object.” Aristotle’s god has no thought of individuals.

          Before that, at the end of 12.8, he had written about religion (tr. Ross):
          “Our forefathers in the most remote ages have handed down to their posterity a tradition, in the form of a myth, that these bodies are gods, and that the divine encloses the whole of nature. The rest of the tradition has been added later in mythical form with a view to the persuasion of the multitude and to its legal and utilitarian expediency; they say these gods are in the form of men or like some of the other animals, and they say other things consequent on and similar to these which we have mentioned. But if one were to separate the first point from these additions and take it alone–that they thought the first substances to be gods–one must regard this as an inspired utterance … Only thus far, then, is the opinion of our ancestors and of our earliest predecessors clear to us.”

        • Does that mean it thinks only about itself?

          I’m not sure what he’s saying the second bit. That they were right to think nature is God?

        • Ficino

          Ari says in Metaphysics Lambda (XII) that the first unmoved mover’s thought is thought of thought, or intuiting of intuiting. Since the existence of the first mover is identical to its essence, there is no division between subject | object, between thinker | thought. So you couldn’t even say it thinks about itself.

          The further we go into this, the less intelligible it becomes. Ari is trying to prevent the first mover from having moments in its mind and from thinking now of one topic, now of another. If there is any succession of moments in its thought, then the first mover is not pure actuality anymore.

          In the second bit, he’s saying that early people were right to think that heavenly bodies are divine. Ari thinks that the heaven is made of spheres, each of which moves itself and is divine. But there is one unmoved mover to which they are all attracted. Things that come into being and pass away, which make up nature, are not gods, but the heavenly bodies, which are eternal, can rightly be called gods, he’d say.

          Adding: Ari did not live long enough to work out all the details in his scheme of heavenly spheres. So he never definitively solved the problem, how the one unmoved mover relates to the 47 or 55 (!) unmoved movers of the concentric spheres of heaven.

        • This somewhat reminds me of something Hindus (or some anyway) apparently believe-that all things are Brahman’s dreams, and he does nothing else but dream eternally. It’s an interesting sort of god. Also very different from traditional Christianity. I don’t know how they would reconcile it.

          I have never been clear on what in fact “pure actuality” is supposed to mean.

          Ah, so that confirms what I’ve read-that like most Greeks he thought there were many gods/unmoved movers. How did Aquinas get away from that?

        • Warren

          From what I’ve read, Aristotle’s unmoved mover serves as the efficient and final cause for all other things by inspiring them to emulate it’s perfection, but doesn’t affect them in any other way. Does Aquinas’ unmoved mover cause change and sustain the universe in the same way as Aristotle’s, or does it directly affect and interact with the universe? It’s harder to imagine something non-physical, atemporal, and unchanging that causes physical and temporal change through direct interaction than by being a final cause that causes change without interacting with them at all.

        • Ficino

          You can’t really talk about Aquinas’ unmoved mover as though that concept forms part of his system. His God is not Aristotle’s unmoved mover.

          I think Aquinas just rides on Aristotle’s proofs in Physics VIII and Metaphysics XII and elsewhere (De Caelo) as far as Aristotle is useful to Aquinas’ theism. After he passes the point where he concludes, “and this [i.e First Mover/First Cause] is what all men call God,” Aquinas adds properties to God that do not belong to Aristotle’s First Mover/First Cause. Aquinas needs to attribute free will, knowledge of individuals, and other properties to God, which Ari’s first unmoved mover does not have.

          Aquinas does want to deny that God’s causative actions should be conceived by us as though they imply God is in time. All the effects that occur in the universe are built into it at creation. But God’s knowledge and will have individuals as their objects; God predestines some individuals for eternal life, etc.

          I think Aquinas’ synthesis is brilliant but flawed. He wants God to be purely actual, not to have any potentiality. I think what Bob is getting at in his OP is that if God creates, then what is true of God as creator is not true of God w/o creation. But creation is not eternal. Therefore, some sort of change in God’s relations occurs. This implies some potentiality, as though God actualizes his potentiality to be a creator. Aquinas cannot allow that. It gets fuzzy, though to try to explain how Aquinas can avoid this consequence without sacrificing some other part of his system.

        • Warren

          So I take it that Aristotle’s proofs for his unmoved mover are quite different from Aquinas’ second way?

          What’s so unpleasant about God having potentiality? Is it because if God can potentially create Universe A or Universe B or doesn’t create at all there’d be no explanation why one potential state of affairs got actualized instead of the others? But being purely actual seems to imply he’s constrained to create exactly this state of affairs and could never have done otherwise.

        • Ficino

          Aquinas’ second way is similar to Aristotle’s argument for an umoved mover in Physics bk. VIII. There, it is pretty clear that the UM is the efficient cause of change in all other things, directly or per a series. The UM cannot be also in motion, because to be in motion (= to undergo change) entails having some potentiality. Aristotle denies the possibility of an actually infinite series of causes, so there has to be some first cause that is not caused, or set into change, by anything, not even itself. It can’t even cause itself, because then there would be some element of potentiality in it, whose change would need to be explained by the action of the active part. So Ari just cuts out the unnecessary stuff and posits that the UM must be pure act, no potentiality. The unpleasant consequence of God’s having potentiality, in the eyes of the Thomist, is that then God as God fails to “account for” all change, since only God’s active part would account for it. This is one of the things that modern Thomists raise against Wm. Lane Craig and others, whom they accuse of the error of theistic personalism.

          Much of this is in line with Aristotle’s picture of the UM in Metaphysics XII, but not all. In Meta XII, the UM is not the efficient cause of change in anything. It is only the final cause, i.e. the first heavenly sphere is attracted to the UM and seeks to emulate its “life” of pure thought.

          Some scholars think that Ari did not live long enough to harmonize these two presentations. Others, like Enrico Berti, hold that they are in harmony. I lean toward the first view but am not expert enough to, say, give a paper on it.

          I think there are more problems that crop up, the longer I delve into Thomas’ attempt to piggyback Yahweh on top of Ari’s Prime Mover. But of course, Thomas inherited a tradition that already tried to piggyback Yahweh onto Greek philosophical constructs.

          I suspect I may not have done justice to your question, Warren, but I’ve already written way too much. If you have further thoughts, I’d love to hear them. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating.

        • Warren

          I agree, this stuff fascinates me too, but I mostly just have half-formed thoughts and queries swirling in my head so don’t worry about doing justice to my questions. I’ll ask for clarification if needed.

          Does logical entailment in a deductive argument count as a kind of causation for Aristotle, whether formal or efficient?

          Is it really necessary in a per se series for causes to be simultaneous with their effects? Surely sustaining causes can still make sense with just a dependence of the effect on the cause, even with a slight time lag, like candle flames depending on oxygen, or a stick moving a stone depending on someone moving the stick.

        • Ficino

          Much of what is in my head is half-formed, too.

          I am not aware that Ari anywhere talks about logical entailment as a kind of cause of an event. I guess he might say that the valid form of a syllogism is a cause of the validity of the conclusion, but I don’t know that – haven’t worked on the Organon enough.

          In the Posterior Analytics, where Ari discusses the foundations of scientific knowledge, he distinguishes between demonstrations that only show “that” something is the case, and demonstrations that show “because of what” it is the case. The latter must make clear the cause. We don’t have demonstrative knowledge unless we know the cause of an effect. The cause will be one of the classic four causes, or a combo. The soundness of an argument is not a cause of the effect referenced in the argument’s conclusion.

          I think Ari and Aq would be OK with causes in a per se ordered series that are not absolutely simultaneous with their effects. Your example of the person who moves the rock via hand/stick is the classic example of a per se ordered series, as you clearly know. This gets to reasons why Aquinas did not buy the Kalam Cosm. argument. In the KCA, the series of causes can be merely per accidens. In that case, the causes are not all operating at once, and they need not all exist at once. So the problem of an actual infinite does not arise. There can be an infinite series of accidental causes because the series never has an infinite number of members existing – actual- at any time.

        • Warren

          Now that you mention it, if a per se series sustains it’s effect non-simultaneously, wouldn’t it just collapse into a per accidens series since the causes need not all exist at once?

          I also at times wonder whether Aristotle’s aversion to infinite per se causal chains was motivated by a more general aversion about infinite regresses of justification or explanation, which even today is taken as an undesirable outcome in reasoning. Similarly with circular causal chains and circular reasoning. If he didn’t distinguish between causes and explanations (and introductory books often take the four causes as types of explanation), then that could be why he’d think valid syllogisms cause their conclusions via entailment. If A is caused by B, then A is because of B.

        • Ficino

          to your first paragraph, yes. For the purposes of Ari’s and Aq’s arguments, any infinitesimal lag among the actions is ingnored within a per se series of movers like arm – hand – stick – rock – crumpled piece of paper.

          As to prg. 2: probably, because Ari considers explanations that go into infinity as no explanations. But there are effects that he’d allow to have infinite causes ordered per accidens, as far as I understand him. E.g., since species are eternal, and the child is caused by the father (because Ari thinks it’s only the father who has seed that transmits the form of the species), there is an infinite number of male ancestors of yours going back into the past. But this is OK, since almost all those ancestors do not exist now.

          Yes, Ari rejects circular causal chains in An. Po.

          I can’t say Ari would deny that the valid syllogism causes its conclusion. I just don’t know of a passage where he uses words like “cause” of the relation between premisses and conclusion. If I get time, maybe I’ll poke around for it.

          I do still think he’d say that the cause of the *thing* denoted by a term in the conclusion, as opposed to the cause of the conclusion, is not the syllogism but some set of facts, the relations among which the syllogism shows. If the conclusion of a syllogism is some truth about a property of a triangle, the cause of that property’s belonging to the triangle will be a formal cause. The syllogism is a means by which we get demonstrative knowledge of that relation, but I’m not ready to say that the relations among the syllogism’s premisses cause the relation of property to triangle.

        • Warren

          Among examples of per se series that I’ve come across, some are temporal like the hand-stick-stone, train pulling box cars, potter molding clay. Others like Socrates’ mortality being caused by his being human seem clearly atemporal but more like a formal cause than efficient cause, like your example of a triangle. The temporal examples clearly fit Aristotle’s idea of efficient causation as one substance directly changing another, but are not truly simultaneous. The atemporal examples seem simultaneous but don’t seem like efficient causes at all. I’m not sure how I’d classify examples like a foot making a footprint, a ball indenting a cushion, or three sticks holding each other up.

          Regarding your last prg, even if syllogisms can’t be said to cause their conclusions, I think Aristotle does take them to map out real causal relations between substances and properties, whether efficient or formal. If there weren’t such relations in reality, there’d be little point in making syllogisms.

        • Ficino

          Hi Warren, where have you seen potter molding clay as an example of a series of movers ordered per se? I would think the fact that the pot can persist after the potter stops molding limits the range of the example’s applications, since why be interested only in the act of molding? The end of the potter’s craft is not the performance of molding but the finished, molded product. But I get the idea. Another example: musician playing musical instrument. When the musician stops, the music stops.

          Socrates’ mortality is part of his nature as human, so yes, that’s formal causation. His generation is an act of motion, i.e. in the realm of efficient cause, so we can have an infinite series of fathers going back into the past; we’re accounting for efficient causation by noting acts of generation. We’re acknowledging also Socrates’ formal cause contained in the human nature imparted in his generation.

          Lots of effects can be explained under four causes. In the footprint example, the mud is the material, the shape of the foot is the form, the man is the efficient cause since the motion initiates in him, and if he’s leaving footprints for a purpose, that purpose is the final cause. If a detective tracks the man unbeknownst to the man or against the man’s desires, then the detective’s purpose is achieved by an effect that is fortuitous, which happened “per accidens” – if the man didn’t intend to lure the detective via the footprints.

          The above is my understanding, anyway!

          As to syllogisms, I agree that Ari wants our reasoning to map out relations that obtain in reality.

        • Warren

          The potter-clay example is from Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, which I read a short part of in a google preview a long time back. I thought it was relevantly per se ordered to include, as far the potter’s hands are in the act of moving the clay, regardless of what he intends for it.

          The four causes, the form/matter, and act/potency distinctions of Aristotle, together with Aquinas’s own principles like proportionate causation, existence being inherently good, degrees of being, and the essence/existence distinction. When I read about how these self-evident principles are necessary for many of their important arguments to get off the ground, besides historical interest I’m often unsure as to whether to accept them myself. They don’t seem self-contradictory, but neither does denying them, at least for some of them, and the rationale behind them is often understandable enough. I’d like to ask what’s your take on these principles. Do they result in problematic conclusions on their own, and when attached to Christian theology?

        • Ficino

          OMG I have that very book out from the library now and read most of it some months ago, lol. I didn’t remember that example. I don’t think it’s that interesting, for the reason I stated. I did a quick word search of Aquinas, and it doesn’t look as though Aq uses potter molding clay as an example of a per se ordered series of causes/movers. So I chalk the bad example up to Edward Feser, who wrote that book. But again, I get the idea. I would have preferred dancer | dance or something.

          The late Arthur Holmes of Wheaton College did a series of videos about the history of philosophy, which you can find on YouTube. Discussing Aquinas, he said that Aquinas’ proofs are “system dependent.” If you don’t adopt an Aristotelian metaphysics, Thomism won’t work.

          I am very partial to Aristotle, but I can’t strictly call myself an Aristotelian. I am doubtful that a distinction between form and matter, or between act and potency, is anything more than one way of starting out to talk about certain kinds of problems. It’s not obvious that the Aristotelian system is just the best metaphysics ever formulated, as Edward Feser says about its scholastic permutations. Then, the syllogistic has been superseded by more powerful systems of logic in the last century.

          So far I’ve noticed areas where I think Aquinas makes moves that he’s not entitled under Aristotelian principles to make. I don’t know enough about medieval philosophy to set out all the steps between the Aristotelianism of the Roman period and the scholastic reformulations of it. But it seems to me that some pitfalls for Aquinas’ reworking of Aristotle include:
          the Thomistic doctrine of analogical predication;
          the ways Thomas handles genus and species;
          problems that arise from fitting Aristotle’s theories about causality into a creation-in-time framework
          determinism

          I have to go upstairs now!

        • Warren

          This is all quite interesting. Prime matter I don’t know much about, but if matter isn’t fundamental, assuming energy fields have forms or essences, won’t it just be forms that make up all reality?

          Why would species not being eternal be a problem? Under Aristotelian realism, forms only exist when exemplified, so they don’t seem to have to be eternal. But a related question is whether final causes need to pre-exist their effects in order to cause the effects, and whether forms count as final causes? Does an apple seed need the apple tree’s form to exist in order to grow into the tree, even though the tree’s form should only exist when the tree exists?

          About Aquinas’ ideas on genus and species I’ve only heard about angels being individuated by their forms being both genus and species.

        • Ficino

          Hey, as to your paragraph 1, I don’t know enough about energy fields to have a response.

          As to paragraph 2, I was leaving things out. My thought was, when Thomists make natural law arguments about what is or is not morally right, they appeal to what they say are objective goods of the species – say, human. They argue as though the good of the species remains stable over time, which implies that the species remains stable over time. If it doesn’t, that seems to problematize their approach, although there are natural law approaches that I think don’t run into that problem.

          As to paragraph 3, Aquinas says that each angel is the only member of its species, though they share a genus. Each angel indeed is individuated by its form, since angels are immaterial primary substances. They are composites of a form and an act of existing. There is no matter to individuate them.

          One thing I like about Aristotle, though it isn’t unique to him, is his virtue ethics. They lead, not from a list of duties, but from a list of what makes up the best human life. The ethics aim at cultivating the virtues to become the sort of person who leads the best life, given that person’s innate qualities.

        • Warren

          Species changing over time doesn’t sound like that hard a problem for natural law. They could try keeping away from fuzzy areas and stick to clear cases of definite humans and human goods. I think deriving specific moral prescriptions from biological functions would be harder to defend as it’s hardly clear that said functions tell us what natural lawyers want them to. But between virtue ethics and natural law, if species changing over time makes objective goods problematic for the latter, won’t it also do so for the former?

        • Ficino

          I’m nowhere near working out a whole moral philosophy, so there is much I just think about here and there as I’m able to do. Approaching discussions the way an Aristotelian might do, I can see pretty quickly an advantage in Ari’s beloved expression “for the most part.” Let’s say humans are evolving such that something that was a good in 50,000 BCE will not be so or is already not so, or its place in a hierarchy of goods is not the same. For example, one might argue that having *many* children is not a good now, or is a lesser good than it was before the age of antibiotics and overpopulation etc etc. Natural law arguments of the Thomistic sort against, say, same sex marriage might lose even more persuasive power than they had. If something is a good “for the most part” over time, some modification might arise over time. But I haven’t worked all this out.

          I think virtue ethics could accomodate changes in species more easily because, whatever would constitute the best life at time t would be the goal of developing the virtues required to live that life. There might be differences – e.g. perhaps courage would be lived out rather differently by most people on a day to day basis than it would be in classical Athens.

          I agree that pulling definitions of “oughts” from descriptions of biological functions seems to be stuck in the “getting an ought from an is” problem.

          A lot is being done in analytic metaphysics, a subspeciality of philosophy about which I know almost nothing. I am EXTREMELY skeptical, however, that Thomistic metaphysics, built on a substructure of outmoded physics, can be the best metaphysics devised by man, as Edward Feser and other apologists represent it as being.

        • Warren

          I see. This has all been very interesting and you’ve given me a lot to mull over and look up in my spare time. I just have a little more to ask. The Aristotelian conception of causation is of one substance changing another rather than of one event leading to another, but does that mean under the former conception it would be mistaken to refer to events like the assassination of Franz Ferdinand causing the first world war? Or would such statements about events serve as shorthand for more complicated causal relations between substances?

          And a question that went unanswered yesterday: do final causes need to pre-exist their effects in order to cause the effects, and whether forms count as final causes? Under Scholastic realism they certainly do since forms and final causes exist in God’s mind, but under Aristotelian realism?

        • Ficino

          Did you ask about whether Aristotle tackled the problem of causal chains that go to infinity in an explanation? Anyway, yes, he denies that a syllogism with an infinite number of terms/predicates, or that assigns an infinite number of causes, yields knowledge; cf Posterior Analytics I.19-24

          I’ll try to come back to your above questions after running some errands.

        • Ficino

          Yes, I think that Aristotle’s different ways of talking about causes from different POVs could be expanded into fuller accounts of complicated causal relations.

          An example like your WWI example: tragedy. The outcome of tragedy is to elicit a “cleansing” of the spectators’ excess pity and fear. That’s at least one of its final causes. Aristotle I think could say that the tragedy is the efficient cause of those effects. But he’d also say that the tragedian causes them, the tragedian’s art causes them, etc. He’ll say, e.g., both that the builder’s knowledge is the efficient cause of the house and that the builder is the efficient cause of the house.

          I don’t think you can say *simply* that forms count as final causes, “because their being is not the same.” David Ross’ book, *Aristotle,* though dated, is a good intro. Ross writes, “The form is the plan of structure considered as informing a particular product of nature or of art. The final cause is the same plan considered as not yet embodied in the particular thing but as aimed at by nature or by art. But to speak thus, as Aristotle often does, is to speak abstractly… The final cause in art is strictly … a certain structure which some artist is consciously striving to embody in a particular material. The final cause in nature is a structure common to the whole “infima species,” to which individual members of the species strive without conscious purpose to give a fresh individual embodiment.” (76-77)

          Formal cause and final cause thus can be designations of the same shape/blueprint/formula, looked at from different POVs and thus having each a different account of how it exists.

        • Warren

          So Ross is saying that formal and final causes are the same blueprint from different POVs? I don’t think it gets at what I was asking regarding final causes, so I’ll try and clarify.

          Under Aristotelian realism with forms only existing when embodied, does the final cause have to pre-exist the effect, and how is it a cause if it doesn’t exist yet? A house doesn’t exist till a builder builds it, but the builder has the form of the house in his intellect which serves as the final cause that directs his construction efforts to build it. In the case of artifacts, forms pre-exist in intellects before being embodied through human efforts. But in nature, an apple tree’s form doesn’t exist unless the tree itself exists, so how does an apple seed become a tree when it’s future tree form, it’s final cause, doesn’t yet exist to direct it’s development? Aquinas thought that the tree’s form pre-exists in God and that he directs the seed’s growth, but for Aristotle must the final cause exist to bring about the effect?

        • Ficino

          The final cause exists implicitly in the form of the organism. It is only realized when the organism attains maturity. We can tell that the red maple seedling has a final cause because its continued growth aims at the mature red maple. It is not a disordered mass of plant cells, nor does it grow into a sugar maple. That’s how we can tell that it exists. But many seedlings die and never realize their end or “telos.” So the telos is grasped by the mind of the scientist already when the organism is only a seedling. It is realized in the mature tree.

          This may not make complete sense to us. I think Aristotle’s teleological conception of nature and natural phenomena has been rightly dropped by scientists, partly for the reason you notice. We can’t say that the natural end or “telos” of a heavy body’s motion is to come to rest at the lowest point, or that the “end” of the motion of continental plates is the mountain range.

          The final cause of an organism *qua* that organism, as opposed to *qua* species, is not realized at the time the organism is generated. It is yet to be achieved. But it is somehow contained in conjunction with the form, since the form of the species will be achieved when the organism matures – and that state is also the end, or final cause, “the on account of which” the change occurs, what the organism’s growth aims at. Aristotle can apply the terms form and end to the same thing: “anything which changes something else without itself being changed … a thing’s form or what it is, for that is its end and what it is for,” Physics I.7, 198b1-3.

          I think it’s more helpful to avoid using the word “cause” too much, but rather, think of the term “end” or “telos.” The sapling has its natural end, life as a mature red maple. Its growth tends toward that end; many seedlings never achieve it. The end is something responsible for the movement and change of the seedling/sapling. To be something responsible, “aition” is just what we mean when we talk about causes, “aitiai.” It should be obvious that we should not think of “cause” in Aristotle as though it always refers to a thing that exerts force on another thing. That is only the efficient cause.

          Aristotle says things like “nature does nothing in vain,” and I guess we can say he tends to personify nature somewhat. The scientific revolution of the early modern period did away with such personification. Modern Thomists like to say, that’s where civilization took its turn into decline.

          If you haven’t gotten into Physics books 1 and 2 I think they are the best place to start to try to put together Aristotle’s discussion of cause in nature.

          I hope this gets to your question, at least, a little.

        • Warren

          Yes, that’s pretty much what I’m getting at. So the telos of a maple seedling is contained in the seedling even if it’s not yet realized. But in this case is the telos identical to the maple’s form? Are there at least two forms contained in it (maple seedling+mature maple) or is just one form enough to encompass and guide the plant’s entire life?

          My reading of Aristotle’s work so far only consists of The Poetics and De Anima, and I’ve gleaned insights to his philosophy from around the net. More recently, reading Christopher Shield’s Classical Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction raised my opinion of Plato and Aristotle’s ideas. My delving into philosophy has been rather piecemeal ever since I began about four years ago. I’ll get Aristotle’s stuff all read if I live long enough.

          Just one last question about Aristotle, the ship of Theseus and personal identity. The form of the ship rather than it’s matter is what makes it the same ship over time, but can’t the same form be embodied in multiple objects like several ships of the same design and function? Similarly with thought experiments involving humans and exact copies with the same shape and memories, only differentiated by matter which is supposedly an accidental property. Can multiple clumps of matter really embody an identical form?

        • Ficino

          Ι think the relation of form and end of natural creatures may be an instance of the problem of meaning and reference. The two terms, form and end, have different meanings, but in the case of natural creatures, they have the same reference, i.e. they point to the same reality. Form and end don’t refer to the same thing in all cases, of course, esp. with artifacts.

          I’m not aware of a passage where Aristotle distinguishes the form of an immature creature from that of the mature creature. A seedling or a baby already has the form of the species, but the form is not fully instantiated in the matter. Put another way, the telos is not yet achieved. To be a baby is not a natural kind designation, so “babyness” is not a form. Being young and undeveloped are accidents of the substance, which is the living creature defined by its essence or substantial form.

          Be careful not to slip into thinking about substantial form in Aristotle along the lines of Plato’s forms, which in Plato’s system (if he had a system) serve as universals for all predicates. Socrates talks about the form of justice, etc. In Aristotle, justice is not a substance, it’s a quality, so it has no substantial form. In the Posterior Analytics, Ari goes so far as to dismiss platonic forms as “twittering [of birds]”!

          As to Theseus’ ship, I’m not aware that Aristotle discussed it, though he may have grappled with the problem under another example. I would say yes, it’s the form by which the ship is a ship. But it’s not form that distinguishes it as *Thesus’* ship; the matter does that. We can say it’s Theseus’ ship because it has these planks and not other planks, even if the planks get replaced piecemeal over time.

          There are no forms of individuals except in the case of species that consist of only one member. The form is distributed over many individuals. Individual members of a species are distinguished by their different matter.
          That’s why the scholastics said each angel is its own species; having no matter, there would be nothing to individuate members within an angelic species.

          I think it’s valid to apply Aristotle’s four causes when we’re seeking scientific knowledge of something. To get that sort of knowledge is why he is so interested in causes, because he holds that we can’t have scientific knowledge/understanding (episteme) unless we can say the reason. Episteme is knowledge of systems of things, not of individuals. But appeals to the four causes will do less work when the inquiry is into peculiarities of an individual for their own sake. Aristotle might say that the geometer and the ship builder will give different accounts of Theseus’ ship than will the historian or the lawyer, whose knowledge in the relevant case is not episteme but recognition, anagnorisis or the like.

          If you manage to read all of even the genuine works of Aristotle, wow!

        • Ficino

          Adding to what I wrote 10 minutes ago: it’s worth noting that the Aristotelian need not trace the cause of every event back to the first Unmoved Mover. Ari doesn’t go into this, really, as far as I’m aware, because he predated the Stoics. Once the Stoics got going with their doctrine that every event is fated and predetermined, the Aristotelian response was set out by Alexander of Aphrodisias in On Fate. He argued that the starting point of an action done by a creature with soul lies in the creature, however much external influences have a bearing. It’s absurd to trace the cause of your sipping your coffee at time t23 and not time t24 back to the first Unmoved Mover. Since living beings move themselves, the cause of *that act* of sipping is traced back to your impulse and will, and that’s the starting point – even though there are prior causes of your genesis (your father) and your continued existence (the sun, etc.).

          Whether Alexander’s arguments are successful against consistent determinism, I don’t know.

        • Kevin K

          Of course a “purely actual” god would of necessity not exist prior to the act of creating the universe. It’s like infinite regress — at some point you either have to have the potential to act having not yet acted (aka, prior to the Big Bang) or give up on the concept altogether.

    • Mutale

      “God, presumably being uncreated, thus has a purposeless, meaningless, empty, and miserable existence.”
      Christians always like to say that without god life would be meaningless but they never think that to be a god that is omnescience and omnimpotent for eternity makes life even more meaningless

  • Chuck Johnson

    Bob:
    They (Christians)should think through the evidence-free properties they assign to God.

    Chuck:
    The way I see it, those ancient folks who dreamed up God-The-Creator had various pieces of evidence to base their God upon. This original God had various properties that they could point to.

    These were simple folk who could not easily see the impossibilities and paradox in their creation. They couldn’t even see that they had created Him. They got that backwards, too.

    The centuries rolled by, and many ad-hock attributes were added to God, not because they wanted to know the truth about Him, but because they wanted a God more suitable to push their political agendas.

    Now we have a multiplicity of Gods, each one created to push a particular political and theological agenda.

    If God were a real thing, then Christian descriptions of Him would converge over time, not diverge.

    When Christians get the desire to truly know God, they will sometimes become atheists. This is the correct way to know God, as a fictional character.

  • epeeist

    Creation is a process, which can only operate within time.

    Alternatively time could be an emergent property of a digraph of causal connections.

    • Or, time requires an external drive. This is the case for time-symmetry-breaking time crystals. One can also see the external drive in Physicists confirm thermodynamic irreversibility in a quantum system. Notably, in both cases the drive is faster than the response time of the system being driven. That is, the system being driven is unable to “predict” what the drive will do.

      • RichardSRussell

        Sounds kinda like Asimov’s thiotimoline to me — you know, the chemical compound that dissolves a fraction of a second before you drop it into the water.

        • Do you disagree with my characterization of the empirical science?

        • RichardSRussell

          Can’t very well disagree with it, since I’m not sure what it is. You’re not exactly the most cogent or coherent interlocutor, you know. You generally take WAY too much for granted.

        • Or, I was responding to someone who clearly has some knowledge about the matter. Or do you make the same criticism of @disqus_HOKynBthUD:disqus? Do you know what “a diagraph of causal connections” is, off the top of your head?

    • I’m quickly getting out of my depth. Would you say that creating or deciding require time?

      • epeeist

        I’m quickly getting out of my depth

        It’s at or beyond my depth to some extent as well. Or to be more exact, I read this stuff and it hurts my head thinking about it.

        There are both philosophers and physicists who would claim that time does or does not exist, or that it if it does exist it is not a first class property of the universe, i.e. that it is an emergent property of something else, or that it is simply a set of relationships between ordered events.

        Would you say that creating or deciding require time?

        On the view that I put forward (tongue-in-cheek), no. Time would emerge from the fact that creation was a cause of one or more effects.

  • lady_black

    When your morning is hell, just go to Taco Bell…

    • Kevin K

      DAMMIT. Now I want a crunchwrap.

  • Jack Baynes

    I’m reminded of the Dr. Seuss story “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew” (“where they never have troubles / at least very few”)

    Of course in that case there was a LOT of trouble along the way and (spoilers) the “very few” troubles in Solla Sollew turned out to be pretty significant.
    But then, that’s why it’s an interesting fun story, rather than an utter bore.

  • Finally, after what seems like years or even decades have passed, the man snaps. “I can’t take it anymore! Life is too easy here, and humans need problems! If I can’t have any here, I’ll go to the other place. Send me to hell!”

    The disliked movie Star Trek: Generations plays with exactly this dynamic. The “heaven” imagined to exist in the Nexus gives you what you want, but Kirk realizes something is wrong when he makes a jump on a horse he has made many times before, but feels no fear.

    But what if this concept of heaven is not the only option?

    That’s a taste of God’s life.

    Says who? Are you saying that omniscience cannot voluntarily self-limit? That would be an interesting theological/​philosophical belief I would like to see justified. You’d basically be saying that kenosis is impossible, whereas I would argue that kenosis could be the key to bringing sense to the combination of omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection.

    Not only can’t God wrestle with a problem, he can’t think a new thought, plan, regret, be surprised, get a joke, or make a decision.

    Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised. Maybe your own theological/​philosophical beliefs are to blame for your confusion?

    We can imagine a conversation with God, but he couldn’t see it like we do.

    This is partly true, excepting Jesus’ incarnation.

    What did God do all day before he created the universe?

    It’s funny that atheists are supposed to be ok with saying, “I don’t know”, and yet if a Christian says “I don’t know” to such questions, you think it’s immediately a problem.

    But pry we must.

    Ahh, so shall we engage in scientific research with the aim of totalistic control over humans, including the best psychological manipulation, penetrating the conscience and thus able to shape humans’ conceptions of what is good and what is evil? Or is there a prying that you wish to prohibit as well?

    How could God create the universe if he’s outside time?

    The quantum fields which Lawrence Krauss think gave rise to our universe exist “outside time”.

    • Ignorant Amos

      It’s funny that atheists are supposed to be ok with saying, “I don’t know”, and yet if a Christian says “I don’t know” to such questions, you think it’s immediately a problem.

      The problem is more that Christians should say”I don’t know” more often than they currently do, while pretending to know all sorts of stuff they can’t possibly know.

      Things such as….

      This is partly true, excepting Jesus’ incarnation.

      • The problem is more that Christians should say”I don’t know” more often than they currently do, while pretending to know all sorts of stuff they can’t possibly know.

        Irrelevant. Bob Seidensticker wrote as if Christians should do the very thing you say they should not do [so often]. He is setting Christians up to fail and that is a terrible thing for human to do to one another.

        Things such as….

        LB: This is partly true, excepting Jesus’ incarnation.

        What’s wrong with that? Saying that an infinite being cannot share the same experiences as a finite being makes perfect sense, unless the infinite being somehow subjects himself/​herself/​itself to limitation. Which is precisely what happened with the incarnation.

        • RichardSRussell

          Which is precisely what happened with the incarnation.

          Counselor, you assume a fact not in evidence.

        • Red herring. Recall that Bob Seidensticker initiated the context with this:

          BS: We can imagine a conversation with God, but he couldn’t see it like we do.

          This isn’t in the realm of evidence, but of logic in possible worlds.

        • Kodie

          Luke, it’s exactly what you do. Is there something wrong with it?

        • RichardSRussell

          So your response is “he started it”?

          That hardly justifies simply assuming that there even was such a thing as an incarnation … or even a Jesus.

          As I mentioned a couple of days ago, before asking “Why is the sky blue?” you should start off with “Is the sky blue?”

        • So your response is “he started it”?

          Erm, he set the ground rules for the discussion. Which is entirely different from every context in which I’ve heard “he started it” used.

          That hardly justifies simply assuming that there even was such a thing as an incarnation … or even a Jesus.

          What in my argument logically required such a thing?

    • eric

      Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised. Maybe your own theological/​philosophical beliefs are to blame for your confusion?

      Or maybe an anthology of mostly originally oral stories authored by many different people and collected over several hundred years, has inconsistent descriptions of the main characters in it?

      • Definitely possible. I do find it interesting when people prefer to focus on apparent contradictions over the serious possibility of actual unity.

        • RichardSRussell

          Are you familiar with the theological precept that the actual author of every word in the Bible is indeed God himself, speaking infallibly and inerrantly thru the inspired scribes who passed his words thru their brains and hands and thus to the rest of us?

        • Yes, I believe it’s generally called ‘verbal plenary inspiration’. It appears to deprive humans of agency just like A&E did after YHWH asks them about what they did re: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

        • Ignorant Amos

          YHWH asks them about what they did re: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

          Another example of YahwehJesus having a period of no omniscience.

          Another example being YahwehJesus not knowing where the two fictional characters in a book of fiction couldn’t be found by another fictional character with a super power that was selective when it shouldn’t have been.

          Unlike Santa Claus. He knows the names, locations and personalities of everyone in the world. Granted this can leave some children rather…unsettled.

          Yahweh/Allah of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) as well as God of monotheism in general — in theory and according to the common “official” interpretation. In practice, it gets difficult, and interpretations vary.

          The stories in The Bible, which no matter what some moderns may think, were usually not meant by the ancients to be literal history, sometimes date back to times before monotheism, and often contradict each other in detail, can sometimes be read as describing Yahweh not knowing things without looking or waiting and seeing what will happen.

          “I am so omniscient, if there were to be two omnisciences, I would be both!”~— Ziltoid the Omniscient

          A TV Trope indeed, and I know you love a TV Trope.

          According to one interpretation, while God has complete knowledge of the past and present, he selectively uses his ability to see the future, and thus can be surprised or caught unprepared (by Satan’s Face–Heel Turn, for instance). So, while he does know much more than humans, he doesn’t technically know everything.

          People in general are not very good at applying such complicated concepts in their thinking even while theoretically accepting them, so a believer in God who states God to be omniscient might not actually think accordingly.

          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheOmniscient

        • LB: … YHWH asks them about what they did re: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

          IA: Another example of YahwehJesus having a period of no omniscience.

          I’m pretty sure that a good deal of the time, when my parents asked me what I had done, they knew quite well what I had done. It’s almost as if there is another purpose which is served by that question…

          Also: kenosis. Or are you constitutionally unable to understand self-limitation?

        • Pofarmer

          So, now you’re a Gnostic?

        • No.

        • adam

          “Also: kenosis.”

          In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/786aa041db474d7281572474c8a28d1d8731be60a715708aaf2f858ea4bc78c2.jpg

        • adam

          “Also: kenosis.”

          In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1fbd8b0b77116e25863711be48c1cc50266f926bf18ca4f8f1f398a88c2b69b1.jpg

        • adam

          “Also: kenosis.”

          In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m pretty sure that a good deal of the time, when my parents asked me what I had done, they knew quite well what I had done.

          Yeah…just like stealing cookies…perhaps. But I’m pretty damn sure when/if you’d done something serious, those silly formalities were dispensed with, they were in my house.

          Do you think YahwehJesus was testing them to see if they would lie about it as well as disobey?

          This was a life or death situation according to the threat of punishment for the disobeying bit. What extra punishment would have been meted out for the extra test. Killed twice?

          Would your parents also pretend to look for you when you hid in the wardrobe after disobeying their orders? Ya know, as a wee bit of a joke.

        • adam

          “Also: kenosis.”

          In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0aec5bb6e3813d658dc99a8138b4905b1dbed26d29a303d2d70f69694c44450.jpg

        • adam

          “Also: kenosis.”

          In Christian theology, kenosis (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73fbc1fe260fa3e118f8177c6d69dcf83a185eb2cb03c5a45681e35bf180f168.jpg

        • Chuck Johnson

          Hitler used a phony version of Christianity to fool and to control the masses. He did not believe his public statements about Christianity.

          What did he actually believe theologically ?
          I don’t know. I have seen no record of this.
          But he did make statements about “providence”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hitler used a phony version of Christianity to fool and to control the masses.

          Wtf is a “phony version of Christianity” and how does it work differently to all the other 45,000+ flavours of the cult that is out there?

          He did not believe his public statements about Christianity.

          How doe you know this, given your subsequent remark…

          What did he actually believe theologically ? I don’t know. I have seen no record of this.

          All the evidence points to a god believer of a Christian type of some stripe. He was a believer.

        • epeeist

          Wtf is a “phony version of Christianity”

          Isn’t it obvious that Hitler adhered to a “phony version of Christianity”, that’s why the RCC excommunicated him.

          Oh, wait…

        • Chuck Johnson

          Amos:
          “How do you know this, given your subsequent remark…”

          Chuck:
          Hitler’s public statements, speeches, Mein Kampf, etc. were calculated to deceive. He was a very ambitious and insincere man.

          “By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to
          make people believe that heaven is hell — and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.
          — Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf”

          Hitler’s private statements to his close political associates reveal his strong anti-Christian feelings and beliefs. Documents gathered after the war show that his Christianity was fake and used as a propaganda tool.

          The gullibility of the Christians of Germany was cunningly used as a weapon of mass destruction. Here is the Wikipedia article:

          http://tinyurl.com/cke6um7

        • adam

          “What did he actually believe theologically ? ”

          So you DON’T know, but you do know it was phony?

          Hypocrite

          Hitler’s
          Christianity

          To deny the influence of Christianity on Hitler and its role in World War II, means that you must ignore history and forever bar yourself from understanding the source of German anti-Semitism and how the WWII atrocities occurred.”https://www.nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm

          And of course, there is Kristallnacht, held on Martin Luther’s birthday to honor anti-semitism
          Martin Sasse, Nazi Party member and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia, leading member of the Nazi German Christians, one of the schismatic factions of German Protestantism, published a compendium of Martin Luther’s writings shortly after the Kristallnacht;
          Sasse “applauded the burning of the synagogues” and the coincidence of
          the day, writing in the introduction, “On 10 November 1938, on Luther’s
          birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” The German people, he
          urged, ought to heed these words “of the greatest anti-Semite of his
          time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”[60] Diarmaid MacCulloch argued that Luther’s 1543 pamphlet, On the Jews and Their Lies was a “blueprint” for the Kristallnacht.[61]

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht

        • Chuck Johnson

          adam:
          So you DON’T know, but you do know it was phony?
          Hypocrite

          Chuck:
          Stop telling lies and read the link that I provided.

        • adam

          “Stop telling lies and read the link that I provided.”

          What link?

          Hitler used a phony version of Christianity to fool and to control
          the masses. He did not believe his public statements about Christianity.

          What did he actually believe theologically ?
          I don’t know. I have seen no record of this.
          But he did make statements about “providence”.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I see there was no link. – – – I will put it in twice.

          It has information about his beliefs that he only told to his closest associates.

          http://tinyurl.com/cke6um7

        • adam

          Richard Steigmann-Gall
          wrote in 2003 that even after Hitler’s rupture with institutional
          Christianity (which he dated to around 1937), he sees evidence that he
          continued to hold Jesus in high esteem,[74] and never directed his attacks on Jesus himself.[75] Use of the term “positive Christianity” in the Nazi Party Program
          of the 1920s is commonly regarded as a tactical measure, but
          Steigmann-Gall believes it may have had an “inner logic” and been “more
          than a political ploy”.[76] He considers that Hitler was religious at least in the 1920s and early 1930s, and that he saw Jesus as an Aryan opponent of the Jews.[77][78]

        • adam

          “It has information about his beliefs that he only told to his closest associates.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler%27s_Table_Talk

          Controversies

        • Chuck Johnson

          adam:
          “Controversies”

          Chuck:
          Hitler’s own religious beliefs look complicated and contradictory in the light of these various pieces of evidence.

          His behavior was typically ad hoc and opportunistic.
          It looks like his view of Christianity varied according to his political needs at the moment.

          His solid and continuing public support of Christianity was obviously a facade to further his political ambitions, and was not a sincere description of his own Christian faith or lack of it.

          Just more Third Reich posturing and pandering.

        • adam

          “His solid and continuing public support of Christianity was obviously a
          facade to further his political ambitions, and was not a sincere
          description of his own Christian faith or lack of it.”

          I dont think that is obvious.
          We all understand that ‘Revealed Religions’, especially christianity means that each of these christians follow the Jesus ‘revealed’ to them.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b31af4b17af8a8298dbd2cb01a556290657c5fdf1a2dac56ebf210f62e696a2.jpg

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e284ecfcf8f4a4da8adb8c8992def60d555414158c237b83a5d3f4c4ffb2fa2.jpg

          Did he use religion, no doubt, was he christian, by the only means necessary – he claimed to follow Jesus.

          And I dont see the phone christianity that you referenced.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e284ecfcf8f4a4da8adb8c8992def60d555414158c237b83a5d3f4c4ffb2fa2.jpg

        • Chuck Johnson

          adam:

          “And I don’t see the phony Christianity that you referenced.”

          Chuck:
          Then you should look.

          http://tinyurl.com/cke6um7

        • Joe

          Sounds like a bit of No True Austrian there Chuck.

          How do we know what a person believes?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Joe:
          “How do we know what a person believes?”

          Chuck:
          By examining the evidence.
          Hitler told close associates about his contempt for Christianity.
          He gave speeches endorsing Christianity.
          Mein Kampf endorses Christianity.

        • adam

          “Hitler told close associates about his contempt for Christianity.”
          Maybe THIS was political.

          How does demonstrate a phoney christianity?

          And we do have Hitler’s own words.

          http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm
          http://www.nobeliefs.com/HitlerBible.htm

        • Chuck Johnson

          And we have Richard Nixon’s own words that he was not a crook.
          Don’t be so gullible.

        • Joe

          Did Nixon believe he was innocent? His words to David Frost would suggest so.

        • Chuck Johnson

          No, he did not believe that he was innocent.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_White_House_tapes

        • adam

          Show me evidence Hitler used “phony christianity’

          There is evidence that Nixon was a crook

          Definition of Christian Merriam Webster
          1a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

          Hitler was a christian.

        • Chuck Johnson

          adam:
          “Show me evidence Hitler used “phony Christianity’ ”

          Chuck:
          I did.
          It didn’t turn out to be evidence to you because you are an atheist fanatic.

          Christian fanatics perpetrate the same type of ignorant, dishonest tricks too.

          You are trying to turn atheism into “just another religion”.
          I’m not buying it.

        • adam

          No, you didnt.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are trolling.

        • adam

          NO, it is you who are trolling:

          “It didn’t turn out to be evidence to you because you are an atheist fanatic.”

          You, made of claim of phony christianity from Hitler, and havent demonstrated your claim..

        • Michael Neville

          You be nice to Chuck or you’ll go to your room without any gifs.

          http://marketingland.com/wp-content/ml-loads/2015/05/gif-800×450.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hitler believed in God and Jesus Christ. His views might have been left field, but they were still Christian based, and no more left field than many other Christianities hat have popped up..

          Point 24 of the Nazi Party program: “The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession.”

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity#Hitler_and_Christianity

          Something else to ponder…

          Hitler considered himself a Catholic until the day he died. In 1941 he told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” In fact, Hitler was never excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and Mein Kampf was not placed on the Church’s Index of Forbidden Books.

          http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/08/hitlers-christianity/

        • Michael Neville

          Children, play nice.

        • adam

          “It didn’t turn out to be evidence to you because you are an atheist fanatic.”

          From YOUR link

          Richard Steigmann-Gall wrote in 2003 that even after Hitler’s rupture with institutional Christianity (which he dated to around 1937), he sees evidence that he continued to hold Jesus in high esteem,[74] and never directed his attacks on Jesus himself.[75] Use of the term “positive Christianity” in the Nazi Party Program of the 1920s is commonly regarded as a tactical measure, but Steigmann-Gall believes it may have had an “inner logic” and been “more
          than a political ploy”.[76] He considers that Hitler was religious at least in the 1920s and early 1930s, and that he saw Jesus as an Aryan opponent of the Jews.[77][78]

          Still, since you have not defined what ‘phony christianity’ is and I have supplied you definition of what a christian IS, Hitler was christian.

          MY VIEWS have nothing to do with HItler professing christianity.

          “You are trying to turn atheism into “just another religion”.”

          What would be the point of another non-diety religion?

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are just trolling.

        • adam

          NO, it is you who are trolling:

          “It didn’t turn out to be evidence to you because you are an atheist fanatic.”

          You, made of claim of phony christianity from Hitler, and havent demonstrated your claim.

        • Pofarmer

          If it was phony Christianity, shouldn’t the “real Christians” have easily sniffed him out? After all, it was the vote of the Catholic bloc that put him in power initially.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All Christianity is phony unless you are the true Scotsman.

          After all, it was the vote of the Catholic bloc that put him in power initially.

          On the instruction of the Holy See too. Via the Enabling Act.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Pofarmer:
          “If it was phony Christianity, shouldn’t the “real Christians” have easily sniffed him out?”

          Chuck:
          In the 21st century, in the USA of course, the news would spread.

          Remember that the Russians thought that Uncle Joe Stalin was one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever want to meet.

          And that many Americans had no idea that FDR was a wheelchair-bound cripple.

          Remember that most Americans had no idea that millions of Jews and other enemies of Hitler were being gassed and incinerated until the Allies swept through Europe after June 6th.

          Or that “American patriotism” in 1942 looked like this:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans

          It was not that long ago that Big Shot leaders could get away with any damn thing that they pleased.

          Those are the days that Trump and his minions wish to return to.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m pretty sure there were an awful lot of folks in Germany and Poland who knew exactly what was going on.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Pofarmer:
          “I’m pretty sure there were an awful lot of folks in Germany and Poland who knew exactly what was going on.”

          Chuck:
          The ones who would have known the “exactly” part would have been the ones already in the concentration camps.

          The concentration camps were not just to kill people. They were also to keep the truth behind barbed wire.

          Some descriptions of the camps came to the USA and there were some Jews who knew enough to ask our government to order the bombing of the camps. The requests were ignored because the claims were just too fantastic to be true. But of course, American antisemitism figured into those politics, too.

          My friend Elizabeth Berg (now in her 80s) told me of her Jewish playmates disappearing, and how this upset her and her family. She did not offer to tell me what she thought would happen to them, and I did not ask, even though I would have liked to know.

          In an authoritarian society, one does not ask too many questions.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Pofarmer:
          “. . . shouldn’t the “real Christians” have easily sniffed him out?”

          Chuck:
          Well, there may have been a couple of “wise guys” back then . . .

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer

        • Joe

          Your link was not conclusive. It also read as an attempt to whitewash his Christian beliefs. Nowhere does it specify he didn’t follow his own brand of Christianity, which is where the no true Scotsman charge got leveled.

        • epeeist

          kénōsis, lit. emptiness) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

          Robert Heinlein wrote a novel about that back in the 1950’s.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whose interpretation of kenosis theology are you running with Luke?

          Is it your position that when YahwehJesus seems to be not a multi-omni super being it is because he engaged a cloaking device, or just took the cloak off completely?

          The kenosis theory states that Jesus gave up some of His divine attributes while He was a man here on earth. These attributes were omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Christ did this voluntarily so that He could function as a man in order to fulfill the work of redemption. This view was first introduced in the late 1800s in Germany with Gottfried Thomasius (1802-75), a Lutheran theologian.

          Why should anyone give the heterodoxy that is kenosis any consideration, other than you seem to throw it out like some sort of “get out of jail free” card when it suits.?

          Why should anyone take your interpretation of what is Paul’s Gnostic nonsense, over say CARM’s interpretation?

          The Kenosis theory is a dangerous doctrine because if it were true, then it would mean that Jesus was not fully divine. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.

          The correct doctrine is the Hypostatic Union–that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9) and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.

          As usual, what you think gets you out of one hole, leaves you in an even bigger one.

          An increasingly prevalent teaching in evangelical circles, particularly in charismatic circles, is the doctrine of Kenosis. This false teaching is drawn from impure wells, it is dangerous because of the other false doctrines it leads to, and it flies in the face of the heart of Christian teaching. What is it? The doctrine teaches that the Messiah, in order to assume the form of a servant and become incarnate (into human flesh), had to give up some, several, or even all the powers and attributes of God and “live as a mere man.” The advocates of this heresy, in an effort to assume an orthodox posture, try to say that the Son somehow “remains God,” though He has given up all parts of that being. This teaching, which denies so much of the heart of the orthodox faith, comes from the misinterpretation and misconstruction of one Greek word.

          https://bible.org/article/empty-god

          Kenosis is a nonsense, even in orthodox Christian circles, and it does nothing to help your position the way you think.

        • Ficino

          When I was in Calvinist seminary, we were taught that the kenosis theory was/is a heresy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s probably a heresy in whatever flavour of the cult Luke adheres to also, but he thinks it is some sort of kryptonite here.

          Mind you, Luke is eccentric enough to belong to some way out there woo-woo Christian brigade. He has never been very specific afaicr.

        • Pofarmer

          Luke doesn’t care as long as it’s a suitable kudgel.

        • Whose interpretation of kenosis theology are you running with Luke?

          None in particular. I still have a lot to learn in this domain.

          Is it your position that when YahwehJesus seems to be not a multi-omni super being it is because he engaged a cloaking device, or just took the cloak off completely?

          I had the privilege of talking to David Politzer numerous times in the winter & spring before he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the theorization of asymptotic freedom. When I talked to him, he engaged in considerable “hiding” of the full extent of what he knew, so that he could “impedance match” to what I knew. This way, he could address where I was at, instead of just talk way over my head. I believe that YHWH was able to self-limit in some ways, but Jesus was able to self-limit in more ways. Self-limit for what reason? Theosis.

          Why should anyone give the heterodoxy that is kenosis any consideration, other than you seem to throw it out like some sort of “get out of jail free” card when it suits.?

          I doubt it actually functions as a “get out of jail free” card. I believe you should give it about as much attention as you give theosis. If you think that human nature is simply too pathetic for theosis to be a live option, then probably you and I don’t have too much to talk about.

          Why should anyone take your interpretation of what is Paul’s Gnostic nonsense, over say CARM’s interpretation?

          Gnostic?

          The Kenosis theory is a dangerous doctrine because if it were true, then it would mean that Jesus was not fully divine.

          Voluntary self-limitation seems like a critical component of non-shitty divinity, not antithetical to divinity. Self-limitation allows creatures the room to exist and provides the very possibility for autonomy, without which no true relationship is possible. But perhaps you are used to dominating those around you or being dominated by them?

          The doctrine teaches that the Messiah, in order to assume the form of a servant and become incarnate (into human flesh), had to give up some, several, or even all the powers and attributes of God and “live as a mere man.”

          I see no reason to believe the underlined. Jesus did some un-kenosis during his Transfiguration. Probably also during the calming of the sea. My suspicion is that those who have problems with kenosis also have problems with Mt 20:20–28.

          Kenosis is a nonsense, even in orthodox Christian circles, and it does nothing to help your position the way you think.

          That’s true for any X, when you let a hostile, biased source produce a straw man version of X.

        • Susan

          I believe that YHWH was able to self-limit in some ways, but Jesus was able to self-limit in more ways.

          On what basis? You have not produced a shred of evidence for the existence of YHWH or for its manifestation as a Palestinian Jew who existed in the first century.

          These are stories Luke and you talk about them as though they are real.

          Neither YHWH nor Jesus are the same as a Nobel Prize winner who addressed you politely in layperson’s terms. The Nobel Prize winner exists. More crappy analogies.

          Voluntary self-limitation seems like a critical component of non-shitty divinity

          Shitty divinity and non-shitty divinity are both just the musings of Luke Breuer. There are no “critical components” for either.

          Jesus did some un-kenosis during his Transfiguration.

          It’s a story, Luke. Nothing else. If it’s something more, show it. How many comments now?

          That’s true for any X, when you let a hostile, biased source produce a straw man version of X

          You need to show hostility, bias and that what you call a strawman is both inaccurate and a weaker argument than what those sources address.

          Bluelinking “kenosis” is not an argument. There is no logic to be found in it.

          I repeat. You can’t show omniscience. You can’t understand what it means or show that it exists even in principle. It’s gobbledygook.

          We might be able to have an intelligent discussion about the logical implications of Spidey Power but we’d both know we were talking about imaginary beings.

          Give me a single premise on the subject of Yahwehjesus worth accepting. That is, that it is real.

          Your mentions of biblical characters (Adam and Eve, Moses, King Solomon, etc. ) as though the stories about them are real are silly and remain ever silly.

        • adam

          “I do find it interesting when people prefer to focus on apparent contradictions over the serious possibility of actual unity.”

          Because it doesnt have “God” quality unity

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/432d2d0f061a75e798dd98b009edc524a744a11cab0e268a8d5ec46762c0c7a4.jpg

        • eric

          Looking through the comments, it appears most of your critics have indeed considered the possibility of surprise + omniscience in some sort of unity. They’ve just concluded there is not evidence sufficient to believe it. Particularly given that there is an alternative explanation which is extremely mundane and realistic (i.e., multiple authors created/told conflicting stories about the same character).

        • If that is true, then my critics are terrible debaters. The superior tactic is to grant your opponent everything [s]he pushes for which you can, while still winning by a long shot. Here, my critics do not want to seriously discuss how kenosis might alter things. And yet, self-limiting could be absolutely crucial to resolving apparent contradictions with the omni-attributes. Self-limitation is also critical for individuation of personalities. You must give the other person space to exist, else you’ll get distorted psychology and distorted relationship.

          But perhaps my critics don’t think they have cases good enough to take self-limitation seriously.

        • Kodie

          You make a lot of excuses.

        • adam

          “Here, my critics do not want to seriously discuss how kenosis might alter things.”

          Bullshit

          I have tried to have this conversation with you many times:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

        • busterggi

          Your opponents also don’t want want to discuss voodoo dolls, lucky rabbit feet or other supernatural garbage.

        • Relevance?

        • eric

          If that is true, then my critics are terrible debaters.

          You’ve just put your finger on the problem with apologists – you’re trying to win a debate. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s real.

          my critics do not want to seriously discuss how kenosis might alter things

          Okay let’s do that. Kenosis is a form of omphalos or last-thursdayism logic because it is fully consistent with any result we might care to imagine. Bcause it is impossible to say when it occurs, it can thus be invoked by a believer for an excuse for anything. Why did God not answer my prayer? Kenosis – he doesn’t know I asked! Why has he been hidden/absent since the first century? Kenosis! Why did that ingrate Bob get the job while saintly Alice did not? Kenosis!

          The utterly ad hoc nature of it (or should I say post hoc, since it is only invoked to explain some otherwise problematic scripture) makes it the philosophical equivalent of “why are fairies not seen? They can choose to be invisible!” If you would not accept such a property as a valid defense of fairy theory, why would we accept such a property as a valid defense of theology?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because it is impossible to say when it occurs, it can thus be invoked by a believer for an excuse for anything.

          Which is why Luke loves to trot it out so often. It sounds all very intellectual, but it is in the same vein as God-did-it, or the mysterious ways of the divine one. It is pure mindwankery. Which is why it is ignored,and why Luke doesn’t like it being ignored.

        • You’ve just put your finger on the problem with apologists – you’re trying to win a debate. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s real.

          Incorrect. I want logical possibilities to be taken seriously, instead of dismissed because they clash with my interlocutor’s preferred way of understanding reality. All too frequently, I find that people don’t actually take seriously alternatives to how they view reality which make a lot of sense. Instead, they erect caricatures of alternatives, dismiss those, and then settle happily back into their beliefs.

          As to science, I suggest you investigate the science within Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial). Briefly: if there is a pattern on your perceptual neurons without a sufficiently good match on your non-perceptual neurons, you may never become aware of it. Yes, taking certain logical possibilities seriously may be required for you to become conscious of those possibilities existing out there in reality. Or do you find this too distasteful?

          Kenosis is a form of omphalos or last-thursdayism logic because it is fully consistent with any result we might care to imagine.

          Is it? That seems awfully like saying that mathematics is fully consistent with any result we might care to imagine. Might it be that the thought of intentional self-limitation is disgusting to you, personally?

          Bcause it is impossible to say when it occurs …

          Do you mean that persons can have private spaces over which they are sovereign? Is it outrageous to you that science cannot stick its nose wherever it wants—that it might be prohibited from certain regions, and that you might have to trust people instead of control them?

          The utterly ad hoc nature of it …

          Wait, you’ve never seen persons practice self-limitation?

        • Kodie

          Incorrect. I want logical possibilities to be taken seriously, instead of dismissed because they clash with my interlocutor’s preferred way of understanding reality. All too frequently, I find that people don’t actually take seriously alternatives to how they view reality which make a lot of sense. Instead, they erect caricatures of alternatives, dismiss those, and then settle happily back into their beliefs.

          In a serious effort to fit your possibilities into logic, you have explained god right out of existence. I can’t believe you have never noticed that before. Still they remain imaginary, and there is no reason to take them seriously.

        • adam

          “Incorrect. I want logical possibilities to be taken seriously, ”

          Then DEMONSTRATE how MAGIC is logical.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49c97dba9b65241dc5373e70d354d6c9c4bbe91f2ce554ac1d002acfe459708c.jpg

        • Susan

          If that is true, then my critics are terrible debaters

          No. As @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus stated, they are just pointing out that there is not sufficient evidence

          The superior tactic is to grant your opponent everything [s]he pushes for which you can, while still winning by a long shot.

          In other words, grant your opponent premises that [s]he hasn’t earned,as long as there’s a possibility you might win the argument. That is a ridiculous recipe for reasoned discussion.

          Here, my critics do not want to seriously discuss how kenosis might alter things.

          Because you have not established an omniscient being, so there’s no reason to go further.

          Even if there were a reason to go further, without even in principle, being able to demonstrate how omniscience works, you have no model nor method for how omniscience could magically go from omniscience to occupying the brainspace of a particular species of ape on a continuum of life forms that exists on at least 1 planet.

          Call it kenosis all you like but right now, it just looks like more theological wanking.

          Give me a premise worth granting.

          As much as this is the Luke Breuer Show….

          This ain’t the Luke Breuer Show.

    • RichardSRussell

      Bob: Not only can’t God wrestle with a problem, he can’t think a new thought, plan, regret, be surprised, get a joke, or make a decision.

      Luke: Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised. Maybe your own theological/​philosophical beliefs are to blame for your confusion?

      No, Bob’s not the one confused; Christians are. The source of the confusion is that later rewriters of the Bible tried to graft the “sounds good” concept of omniscience onto a run-of-the-mill superhero-style tribal war god whose previous track record provided plenty of examples of his fallibility. And yet modern Christians twist themselves into pretzels trying to reconcile the cognitive dissonance so they can still have both their prized omniscience and their favored literal readings of the supposedly inerrant scriptures.

      • The source of the confusion is that later rewriters of the Bible tried to graft the “sounds good” concept of omniscience onto a run-of-the-mill superhero-style tribal war god whose previous track record provided plenty of examples of his fallibility.

        Do you have ≥ 2 examples of this? (You used the plural.)

        • Kodie

          Luke, you invent god with every post you make. You have no more information than any of us do. Do you have a problem with someone taking the available information and inventing a plausible scenario, such as what god would be like, what he wants, what he is trying to do, why things are the way they are?

        • RichardSRussell

          More than 2 examples? No, just the 2. Not inclined to do more research, since all I have to do is quote the definitive Luke Breuer on omniscience: “Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised.”

        • LB: Do you have ≥ 2 examples of this?

          RSR: More than 2 examples? No, just the 2.

          I’m sorry, are you unfamiliar with the ‘≥’ operator?

          Not inclined to do more research, since all I have to do is quote the definitive Luke Breuer on omniscience: “Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised.”

          How is the quoted text a comment about omniscience?

        • RichardSRussell

          I am indeed familiar with the “≥” operator and was disassembling it into the parts I was replying to (the “=” part) but not currently bothering with (the “>” part).

          As to relevance to omniscience, it’s impossible to be surprised if you already know everything. Surprise, by definition, involves finding out about something you didn’t already know.

          Edited PS: Since I just know you’re going to nitpick this, “both” = 2.

        • Joe

          Since you were correct, Lukie Boy has to move the goalposts, so now you need two examples.

          If you then proceed to provide two examples, he will ask for peer reviewed evidence. And so on.

          He’s a slippery worm.

        • Susan

          He’s a slippery worm.

          Well trained in presuppositionalism and creationism.

          Slipplery worms, indeed.

        • Joe

          Well trained in presuppositionalism

          Is that something you train in, or simply do?

        • Susan

          Is that something you train in, or simply do?

          In Luke’s case, both.

        • Max Doubt

          “If you then proceed to provide two examples, he will ask for peer reviewed evidence. And so on.”

          Christians are not honest. They are at their worst when trying to defend their claim that gods exist. Luke is an excellent example of a Christian who doesn’t care about what is true if it conflicts with his delusion. He has to lie. The alternative would be to acknowledge that his position is indefensible.

        • adam

          ” He has to lie. The alternative would be to acknowledge that his position is indefensible.”

        • RSR: The source of the confusion is that later rewriters of the Bible tried to graft the “sounds good” concept of omniscience onto a run-of-the-mill superhero-style tribal war god whose previous track record provided plenty of examples of his fallibility.

          LB: Do you have ≥ 2 examples of this? …

          RSR: More than 2 examples? No, just the 2. Not inclined to do more research, since all I have to do is quote the definitive Luke Breuer on omniscience: “Both YHWH and Jesus were surprised.”

          LB: How is the quoted text a comment about omniscience?

          What? You made a claim which I underlined; I requested evidence of that. You produced text of mine which doesn’t seem to support the underlined at all. Perhaps you would like to try again?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If, as you assert, “both YHWH and Jesus were surprised”, then they were not omniscient by definition.

          Omniscience is something that was grafted onto BOTH YHWH and Jesus before they became YahwehJesus, ergo two examples.

          When they became part of the Trinity they became three examples, unless the holy spook part was never surprised, or after they became omniscient they could retcon the surprise to surprised.

          All depending on your definition of surprised of course. Or omniscience.

        • If, as you assert, “both YHWH and Jesus were surprised”, then they were not omniscient by definition.

          That sentence starts getting wobbly if we say that omniscience and omnipotence can practice kenosis—self-limitation.

          Omniscience is something that was grafted onto BOTH YHWH and Jesus before they became YahwehJesus, ergo two examples.

          Troll better, please.

    • Max Doubt

      “This is partly true, excepting Jesus’ incarnation.”

      To the best of our knowledge, yes, your knowledge, too, there is no objective evidence to demonstrate that events involving a Jesus as described in Christian mythology actually occurred. So anyone else’s fictional or hypothetical scenario is as at least as valid as yours. And if it doesn’t involve the existence of gods, miracles, or magic, it is even more plausible than the one that exists in your imagination.

      • Relevance?

        • Max Doubt

          “Relevance?”

          You’re making a claim of truth that you quite obviously can’t demonstrate to be true. Anything anyone can imagine about your Jesus character is as true, or not, as anything you imagine. The difference between a dishonest Christian like yourself and these honest atheists who are responding to you is they admit theirs is a made up hypothetical while you’re at least implying that what you believe is part of reality.

        • Am I? You might investigate more carefully how this conversation started.

        • Max Doubt

          “Am I?”

          Anyone reasonably skilled in communicating in the English language — and honest — would say so.

          “You might investigate more carefully how this conversation started.”

          You might be careful about making claims if you’re not really making claims.

        • Anyone reasonably skilled in communicating in the English language — and honest — would say so.

          Really? Let’s review:

          BS: We can imagine a conversation with God, but he couldn’t see it like we do.

          LB: This is partly true, excepting Jesus’ incarnation.

          Was Bob Seidensticker “making a claim of truth that [he] quite obviously can’t demonstrate to be true”? Or was he talking about logical possibility?

        • Max Doubt

          “Really? Let’s review: […] Was Bob Seidensticker “making a claim of truth that [he] quite obviously can’t demonstrate to be true”? Or was he talking about logical possibility?”

          Let’s review:

          The difference between a dishonest Christian like yourself and these honest atheists who are responding to you is they admit theirs is a made up hypothetical while you’re at least implying that what you believe is part of reality.

          To difficult for you? Would you like that reduced to simpler words and phrases?

        • The difference between a dishonest Christian like yourself and these honest atheists who are responding to you is they admit theirs is a made up hypothetical while you’re at least implying that what you believe is part of reality.

          I do not need to commit to the hypotheticals being made-up or not in order for my arguments to go through. You’re the one who seems to be in desperate need of labeling things as made-up or not. That’s fine for you, but please don’t impose your idiosyncrasies on me.

        • Kodie

          You like to think your god might exist if certain particular conditions may be or might be or could be true. That’s not weighted heavier than Bob’s speculation or anyone else’s. As plausible as you think your god and his reasons for everything he does stupider than a person would, doesn’t mean shit to me or anyone else. The relevance is – you can say literally anything about god is your personal speculation and it’s fucking meaningless. It’s like, what drugs are you fucking on that it takes that much twisting to contain your fantasy. If you don’t want to be an atheist, I don’t care. I DON’T FUCKING CARE. It’s that it bothers you so much that you spend hours per day and build empty case after empty case to defend your own stubborn pride – you’ve just come way too far to back down now! Nobody is buying your idiotic bullshit! Anyone can take the available evidence, and that includes atheists, and turn it into a story. Is it true?

          You’re the one absolutely making the original claim “Jesus is the Lord God and Savior” or “God is Good” or whatever. It’s very simple to discard these claims with thousands and thousands of scenarios. You only need one, and it’s so weak, you have to squint and look at it last Monday, upside-down to find god.

        • Susan

          t’s very simple to discard these claims with thousands and thousands of scenarios. You only need one, and it’s so weak, you have to squint and look at it last Monday, upside-down to find god.

          No wonder Luke blocked you. 🙂

          (among countless others)

          You’ve just nailed it.

          I think we can all go home, now. 🙂

        • Joe

          You’ve just articulated all our collective feelings towards Luke.

          Have an upvote, you deserve it.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Luke:
      “But what if this concept of heaven is not the only option?”

      Chuck:
      If that is a poor-quality heaven to you, please describe a better-quality heaven.

      Would some pleasant challenges be added to a new and improved heaven ?

      • Joe

        Has heaven got WiFi yet?

        • adam
        • Michael Neville

          Heaven isn’t even connected to the internet. Heaven.com and heaven.org aren’t websites and heaven.gov links to a blank facebook page under “colleges and universities” (with one like).

        • adam

          And I thought is was just my ISP….

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Actually, my family’s current church has free but censored wifi.

        • Aegis

          You keep seeing ’em with lightning rods, though. Which tells us exactly how far they trust their god, at their core.

      • I just don’t see why heaven has to be challenge-free. Is there some sort of belief that “challenges/​problems” ⇒ “gratuitous pain/​suffering”? If so, I would ask for justification of that belief.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Luke:
          “I just don’t see why heaven has to be challenge-free.”

          Chuck:
          By reputation and tradition heaven is a place of perfect bliss.
          Theologians have tried to make heaven sound as wonderful and perfect as possible, but we see that a paradox arises when we try to make it challenge-free in our attempts to describe it as perfect bliss.

        • Why does “perfect bliss” ⇒ “lack of challenges”?

        • adam

          bliss

          [blis] NOUN

          perfect happiness; great joy:

          “she gave a sigh of bliss”

          synonyms: joy · happiness · pleasure · delight · ecstasy · elation · rapture · [more]

          chal·lenge

          [ˈCHalənj]

          NOUN

          a call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel:

          “he accepted the challenge”

          synonyms: dare · provocation · summons

          an objection or query as to the truth of something, often with an implicit demand for proof:

          “a challenge to the legality of the order”

          synonyms: test · questioning · dispute · stand · opposition · confrontation

    • Ignatius Reilly

      It’s funny that atheists are supposed to be ok with saying, “I don’t know”, and yet if a Christian says “I don’t know” to such questions, you think it’s immediately a problem.

      If only Christians would say “I don’t know” a little more often.

      The quantum fields which Lawrence Krauss think gave rise to our universe exist “outside time”.

      You are right on this one, Luke.

      • Aegis

        You’d think a guy defending a religion that stems from a book purported to come from the mind of the entity that knows and understands everything would see the problem with admitting to not having all the answers.

  • eric

    Christians have created a God who’s inert (when outside of time) and a soul-less robot whose hands are tied by his own omniscience.

    As a soulless robot whose hands are tied by my own determinism, I have to say – it’s not so bad. 🙂

  • Joseph Shaw

    I wonder if it is part of our evolutionary make-up to enjoy (or at least to pursue) problem-solving. It certainly provides an advantage for the species.

    • Pofarmer

      Absolutely. It’s also part of it that we’ll accept a wrong answer as easily as a correct one if it makes the problem go away.

      • Joseph Shaw

        Like our agency detection system. If you just instinctually assume that every rustle in the trees is made by some creature with agency, it will help you survive dangerous predators.

        It may also help you believe in forest fairies.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, we have a limited amount of time and problem solving ability. If saying a “rain god” makes it rain alleviates your anxiety about whether or not it’s going to rain, that’s just as good an answer as a degree in meteorology. You can go on to another problem because that one is “solved”. So, “Goddidit” can easily become a default answer.

  • Ficino

    I request of Luke Breuer that he summarize what he considers to be the most compelling categories of evidence, or most compelling argument/s, for the truth of Christianity.

    • I tried that once. It didn’t end well.

      Perhaps you’ll have better luck.

      • Max Doubt

        “Perhaps you’ll have better luck.”

        With Luke? LOL!

    • Kevin K

      Good grief, why in the world would you do such a thing?

    • Herald Newman

      To quote AntiCitizenX:

      In short, the sum total of all evidence for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ has only ever been the written accounts contained within the New Testament – literally, the pure, unfettered say-so of human authors.

      An excerpt from Christian Apologists Fail at History.

      Edited for formatting.

    • Zephry

      Why reinvent the wheel? There are plenty of books and traditions that go back thousand years. You can look it up yourself if you are that curious.

      • Kodie

        Pardon me, but you’re kind of in the middle of something that has nothing to do with you. Plus, your answer sucks and reeks of not actually having a coherent answer. Read all the books and traditions is not an answer.

        • Zephry

          Please excuse me if I sounded sarcastic. I found the question to be rather absurd and I reacted poorly (it was also late into the night).

        • Susan

          I found the question to be rather absurd

          Why?

        • Susan

          Please excuse me if I sounded sarcastic.

          Kodie didn’t accuse you of being sarcastic.

          She simply pointed out that “Read all the books and traditions is not an answer.”

        • Kodie

          I guess you’re not the first honest Christian.

      • Ficino

        (: Peto, quod absurdum est.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “There are plenty of books and traditions that go back thousand years.”

        To illustrate the absurdity of these books, why not have Jesus start a book club with humanity. One week he can read from one of those books arguing for his existence and every other week he can read from ‘Catch-22’.

        • Zephry

          I vote yes.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Unfortunately, God’s about as interested in reading apologist shlock as the average atheist- not the first time I’ve appealed to get the book club going, you see.

  • Zephry

    If he created the universe, that admits that things weren’t perfect beforehand—if they were, changing things would make them less perfect. And if things were perfect after creating the universe, why wait so long for creating it? (And who’s going to say that this world is especially perfect?)

    Hey Bob, I would like to know how you presuppose that if God created the universe, that would mean that things weren’t perfect beforehand. This seems like a weak premise to make your argument.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      I guess I see what you’re saying. Christians say Jesus is perfect, but non-believers can come up with plenty of changes at the drop of a. Hat that would make Jesus a better character. So, kinda like that?

      • Zephry

        I guess what I am trying to say is that I feel like I am reading random musings of Bob rather than a coherently argued point against omniscience and omnipotence of God. Also asking for evidence seems silly when we are dealing with metaphysical attributes of the divinity.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Asking believers for evidence of a divinity seems pointless if I take into account the premises that God is an immortal omnipresent person vs being dead, non-existent, an invalid, or a non-speaking cryptid. That God person has nothing to say and no participation in reality. Any religious texts and supernatural claims from fellow human can simply be dismissed out of hand. Strangely, Christians seem to think the solution to the dilemma can simply be fudged by disagreeing with it.

    • Joe

      Are you saying God isn’t perfect?

      • Zephry

        God is perfect. But why would God have to be less than perfect in order to create?

        • Joe

          Why would he create if he was perfect?

        • Zephry

          I could just as well as ask why not?! What if creation is the result of who he is rather than because he lacked something?

        • Joe

          I could just as well as ask why not?!

          What is lacking from perfection?

          What if creation is the result of who he is rather than because he lacked something?

          Nothing logically follows from that statement. It’s just an assertion.

        • Zephry

          Am I safe to assume you are defining ‘perfection’ as not lacking in something? So you are arguing that God created the world because he is needy or for his self-satisfaction?

          When I say that God is perfect, I am talking about his attributes… no defects, no faults.

          I would like to point out that there could be other reasons for creation.

          The Westminster Confession of Faith in regards to creation states:

          I. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,[1] for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,[2] in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.[3]

          II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female,[4] with reasonable and immortal souls,[5] endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;[6] having the law of God written in their hearts,[7] and power to fulfil it;[8] and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.[9] Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;[10] which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.[11]

          http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/

        • Joe

          Am I safe to assume you are defining ‘perfection’ as not lacking in something?

          No, the standard definition. Certainly something perfect wouldn’t lack in any areas.

          You’re just stating what,/i> you believe happened, with no explanation as to why.

        • Zephry

          If you want to argue semantics, thats fine. But I would suggest you look up the word in the dictionary first as it also has different meanings. Only thing I’ve gained from debating with you is that one of the definition of ‘perfection’ is not lacking in anything. I’ve stated why I think Bob’s statement is wrong but you have done nothing to debate that part.

          I think the catechism does a good job presenting what majority Christians believe about the creation. I can’t add anything more to it because I am not smart.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost….

          Which suggests the Trinity, or part of it, was not fully pleased. Wanting pleasure is an imperfection on it’s own.

          You need first to define what YOU mean by perfection.

          Do you know what perfection means in the various philosophies?

          To Aristotle, “perfect” meant “complete” (“nothing to add or subtract”).

          YahwehJesus’s perfection, in it’s present form, is a fairly recent attribute that Christians have embraced…which is fairly obvious. The OT creator was a far cry from perfect. So earlier ideas were not as stupid…though still nonsense.

        • epeeist

          Do you know what perfection means in the various philosophies?

          To Aristotle, “perfect” meant “complete” (“nothing to add or subtract”).

          And hence couldn’t be either a creator or moral.

        • Zephry

          If I understand correctly Aristotle used the term to denote a proof that does not require anything else to be true.

        • Zephry

          I am having a hard time accepting ‘wanting pleasure is an imperfection’ as an axiom.

          I can act and then be pleased rather than acting because I wanted to be pleased.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wanting anything means having been without.

          To Aristotle, “perfect” meant “complete” (“nothing to add or subtract”).

    • Ficino

      What I wrote above about Aristotle and Aquinas tries to get at this problem.

      • Zephry

        I am actually reading about Aristotle and Aquinas more because this is very fascinating.

    • Kevin K

      Physicists get uncomfortable when speaking about “beforehand”, because time didn’t start until the Big Bang. Space and time are inseparable in this universe.

      In the theistic way of thinking, however, god is eternal and there was nothing prior to the universe but this god (plus or minus the “heavenly host” of angels and such). Which means for eternity (going backwards in time forever), god was there, doing precisely and exactly nothing about creating a universe. Then, suddenly, 14 billion years ago, god — who was perfectly content to exist eternally in a universe-less place — changed its mind. And BANG! Something happened.

      What caused god to change its mind? Why would you as a perfect god existing in a perfect universe-less not-space go to all the hugga mugga of creating an enormous universe if there wasn’t some problem to solve? Meaning, that not-place was no longer perfect. And since god created the heaven that it existed in eternally (backwards in time), there must have been some flaw in that not-place no-time.

      • Zephry

        Thanks for positing an interesting question. I am strictly a Trinitarian and I believe that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit co-existed eternally and thus my doctrine of creation is not based on an imperfection of the Trinity but rather creation as manifestation of God’s glory and character.

        But thanks for your view.

        • Kevin K

          That’s all well and good, but why did Yahweh choose 14 billion years ago? When it existed eternally prior to that without the need for a universe? Also, seems to me that “manifesting” its glory and character is a pretty pointless act if it was existing wherever it was existing without the need for a universe. Why bother? You’re manifesting your glory and character in a universe-less place already. Unless you having something to prove…

          Of course, I can think of a scenario where creation is needed to “show off”, as it were. And that’s because of his battle with Lucifer. It makes more sense that the universe is a way for Yahweh to demonstrate his muscles to Lucifer…or perhaps (given the evidence we see before us of a not-so-perfect universe), the universe is Lucifer’s creation to demonstrate to Yahweh how much power angels have.

          I’m sure there’s a name for that particular heresy, but I just thought of it now.

        • Kevin K

          …and duh…it’s the “Luciferian” heresy.

          There are no original thoughts.

        • Greg G.

          Ecclesiastes 1:9 NRSV9 What has been is what will be,    and what has been done is what will be done;    there is nothing new under the sun.

          PS: The internet is like pissing on a tree to mark your spot.

        • Zephry

          I am realizing this every day. No matter how much I think my ideas are original, it’s all been said before.

        • Zephry

          Actually Kevin what you wrote here reflects a lot of what the gnostics believed two thousand years ago. They would have considered YHWH or even Lucifer to be a demiurge or some sort of a lesser god.

        • Zeta

          Zephry: “They would have considered YHWH or even Lucifer to be a demiurge or some sort of a lesser god.

          Yeah, Yahweh was indeed a lesser deity. From the Wikipedia entry on “Yahweh” (Again, apologies to those who have read it):

          1. “In the oldest biblical literature he is a typical ancient Near Eastern “divine warrior” who leads the heavenly army against Israel’s enemies;[6] he later became the main god of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and of Judah,[7] and over time the royal court and temple promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses.”

          2. “A widely accepted hypothesis is that traders brought Yahweh to Israel along the caravan routes between Egypt and Canaan, the Kenite hypothesis, named after one of the groups involved.”

          3. “El and his sons made up the Assembly of the Gods, each member of which had a human nation under his care, and a textual variant of Deuteronomy 32:8–9 describes the sons of El, including Yahweh, each receiving his own people:”

          Yahweh was allocated Israel by a higher god (his daddy El) and he lived on Mount Sinai. Is he still there?

          It is easy to see that he was invented by ancient people.

        • Zephry

          I am not a gnostic believer so I wouldn’t know 😉

        • Zeta

          This is an evasive non-answer. Too afraid to challenge what I quoted?

          Deuteronomy 32:8–9: “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man,He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. 9″For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance”

          Why not refute this for the start?

        • Zephry

          Sorry I wasn’t trying to evade you. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Here is a resource that may answer your question.

          https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Deuteronomy+32:8

          Take a look at the notes and we can have further discussions if you would like.

        • Zeta

          Zephry: “Take a look at the notes

          I don’t see how the notes invalidate the claim that a higher god allotted Israel to the lower deity Yahweh.

          In an earlier comment, I quoted 3 passages from Wikipedia and you gave the excuse that you are not a gnostic believer so you wouldn’t know. The first two issues do not relate to beliefs of Christian sects but to the history of your god. What have they got to do with gnostic beliefs?

          Yahweh is an invented deity in the Ancient Near East.

        • adam
        • Zephry

          Really? Wake me up when I become enlightened and become a god myself like John, Jim and Bill here.

        • Max Doubt

          “Wake me up when I become enlightened and become a god myself like John, Jim and Bill here.”

          Funny you should scoff at the notion, as if people and gods are different. You yourself claim some fractional component of your conjoined triplet god entity is a person. But maybe more to the point, there isn’t anything your god can do outside your imagination that I can’t do, too. In fact, I can do some things your god doesn’t seem capable of doing. I have the power of visibility. I can measurably change the state of the universe. And I can demonstrate objectively that I actually exist. Wake me up when any of your several god pals can do any of that.

        • Zephry

          Your premise that people and gods are same is so illogical that whatever you wrote after that makes no sense.

        • Max Doubt

          “Your premise that people and gods are same is so illogical that whatever you wrote after that makes no sense.”

          I didn’t actually suggest the premise that people and gods are the same thing. That’d be your shtick, “… Holy Spirit… but I believe it’s a person,” you know. So your inability to comprehend beyond that falls squarely on you and your shitty reading skills. Are you in, what, middle school? Junior high? Ask your principal or an English teacher there if you can get some tutoring for that problem. You’re having a hard time keeping up.

          I did suggest that your gods don’t appear capable of doing, well, pretty much anything outside your own imagination. And there are some pretty fabulous things I can do that none of your gods have ever done as far as we can objectively determine. I have the power of visibility. I can objectively demonstrate that I exist. I can change the condition of the universe. There are even situations where the state of the universe would have likely changed without my intervention, yet with my power I prevented those changes. And I can do those things out here in reality, measurably, objectively, for all to see.

          Nope, gods and people aren’t the same at all. One glaringly obvious difference is we can objectively distinguish between people and figments of our imaginations. At least most of us can.

        • Zephry

          Here is something that I agree with Fr. Aidan Kimel. He says in this response to a back and forth argument regarding the Trinity.:

          …critics of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity need to do their homework so that they can present it in such a way that we Christians recognize it as the doctrine we believe in and teach. This should be fairly obvious. If I’m going to criticize, say, Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, I had better understand it accurately enough that Einstein would recognize it as his theory. Or as Daniel Dennett phrases it in the first of his four rules of civil argument: “You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, ‘Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.’”

        • Odd Jørgensen

          Your premise that people and gods are same is so illogical…

          Made in his image?

        • Zephry

          Essence of God is not same as image. Image is uniquely applied to humans. It does not mean that God is in human form, but rather, that humans are in the image of God in their moral, spiritual, and intellectual nature.

        • busterggi

          So god created the universe to feel good about themselves?

        • Zephry

          If that’s your interpretation, yes.

        • Max Doubt

          “I am strictly a Trinitarian and I believe that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit co-existed eternally and thus my doctrine of creation is not based on an imperfection of the Trinity but rather creation as manifestation of God’s glory and character.”

          Manifestation? So these three gods created the universe to show their magnificence. Who were they showing it to? Each other? And what sort of character does it display to make a universe?

        • Kevin K

          No, they created it to show to humans … 14 billion years after making it!

          Or maybe the Vulcans…who can say?

        • Zephry

          That would be really amazing. I would love to meet a Vulcan.

        • Greg G.

          Manifestation? So these three gods created the universe to show their magnificence. Who were they showing it to? Each other? And what sort of character does it display to make a universe?

          Non-omniscient ones?

        • Zephry

          The Bible says that God created the universe and the creatures in it. I believe that all of it echoes who God is even human beings.

          And what sort of character does it display to make a universe?

          I would start with majesty and beauty.

        • Max Doubt

          “The Bible says that God created the universe and the creatures in it. I believe that all of it echoes who God is even human beings.”

          You’re not making any sense. You’ve got this combination of gods thing that you believe exists, and it looks like you can’t even define it/them. Try again. These god sub-units created the universe to display their/its glory and character. Define “glory” there so we can tell what you’re talking about.

          “I would start with majesty and beauty.”

          Majesty and beauty aren’t terms we’d normally use to describe character. So you said “… creation as manifestation of God’s glory and character.” That sounds like the gods made the universe to show off their royal powers. To who? Who considered them royal? Who was supposed to be impressed by that act? Did they do this universe making trick to solicit the admiration of each other? Define “character” there so we can tell what you’re talking about.

        • Zephry

          I had a long post to discuss the points you raised but somehow it wasn’t posted. I would love to post it again but alas school work beckons.

        • Odd Jørgensen

          “I would start with majesty and beauty.”

          What about stupidity? After all, it took some 13,7 billion years before any human could marvel at the universe, let alone comprehend how vast it is, or look beyond the nearest star.

        • Zephry

          13.7 billions years is nothing if you exist atemporally.

        • busterggi

          There is also no tomorrow, nothing to look forward to if you exist atemporally.

        • Kodie

          More nonsense.

        • Kevin K

          I’ve been thinking more about the universe being a “manifestation” of god’s glory and character — and that would of necessity entail a substantial amount of imperfection.

          Because if we trust what the physicists tell us, the universe will be ending a few trillion years from now as a cold, dark, forever-expanding nothingness.

          Why would a god wish to manifest its glory as a cold, dark, forever-expanding nothingness? Wouldn’t.

          Your response (which I understand isn’t yours but drawn from whatever theology you follow) can only work if the universe is static. And we (meaning the very bright people who study such things) know this isn’t the case.

          I think your theology needs to catch up to the physics.

        • Greg G.

          Why would a god wish to manifest its glory as a cold, dark, forever-expanding nothingness? Wouldn’t.

          She should have died hereafter.
          There would have been a time for such a word.
          Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
          Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
          To the last syllable of recorded time,
          And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
          The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
          Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
          That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
          And then is heard no more. It is a tale
          Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
          Signifying nothing. –Shakespeare, Macbeth

          PS: Kevin K, I am not stalking you with quotes. It’s just the last two posts I have read sparked a memory of an appropriate quotation., and they just happened to be your posts.

        • Kevin K

          At least with you, I’m a literary trigger. Usually, I’m a target for invective.

        • Greg G.

          There is only one thing worse than being a target for invective… –Oscar Wilde-ish

        • Zephry

          We don’t have a lot of information about our universe. We can’t even fathom how big it is. I think it’s too early to say it’s just a cold, dark, forever-expanding nothingness. When I look at the pictures from the Hubble telescope, I am amazed.

        • Max Doubt

          “We don’t have a lot of information about our universe.”

          Actually we do. We have tomes, computers and journals and research papers stuffed to the brim with information about our universe. Hell, the information we receive from NASA’s SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) every minute would bust the seams on any puny little Christian bible. Every. Single. Minute.

          “We can’t even fathom how big it is.”

          Maybe you can’t, but we sure we can. We measure it. Measuring definitively compares the size of the universe to known standards so we can fathom it.

          “I think it’s too early to say it’s just a cold, dark, forever-expanding nothingness.”

          It’s a good thing nobody’s saying that then, eh?

          “When I look at the pictures from the Hubble telescope, I am amazed.”

          Yeah, physics is pretty cool stuff.

        • Zephry

          Umm… if you say so. But I beg to differ.

          http://www.space.com/11642-dark-matter-dark-energy-4-percent-universe-panek.html

          Well I am glad to see that we can agree that science is pretty cool.

        • Max Doubt

          “Umm… if you say so. But I beg to differ.”

          Beg all you like, but the volume of information we have about the universe is so great that it takes thousands of professional cosmologists, astrophysicists, and other scientists and educators to organize and maintain it. But even given the enormous quantity, most of it assembles in pretty consistent and predictable ways. You, individually, may not be able to fathom the extent of the universe, but billions of the rest of us can.

        • Zephry

          Better get more people to keep all that information organized. I hear the universe is expanding quite fast. 😉

          Talk to me again about the extent of the universe when we invent hyperspace travel. Until then all we have are pretty awesome scientific theories and colorful photos. Isn’t it very arrogant to think that we know much about the universe at all?

          https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/life-unbounded/this-is-what-we-done28099t-know-about-the-universe/
          http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2016/11/what-do-we-really-know-about-our.html
          http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-01-25/five-things-we-know-about-the-universe/6994612

        • Max Doubt

          “Talk to me again about the extent of the universe when we invent hyperspace travel. Until then all we have are pretty awesome scientific theories and colorful photos. Isn’t it very arrogant to think that we know much about the universe at all?”

          You’re attempting to project your ignorance onto the rest of humanity. When you don’t know much about something, the honest thing to do is simply admit it. It makes you look like sort of a dick to keep insisting we can’t fathom something just because you can’t fathom it.

        • Zephry

          Would kindly point to books or articles that you found to be good explaining the universe? I sincerely would like to read it.

        • epeeist

          Liddle’s Introduction to Modern Cosmology and Harrison’s Cosmology are good.

          Be aware though that both assume a reasonable mathematical proficiency.

        • Zephry

          Thanks for the recommendation. I will add them to my summer reading list. Any of Stephen Hawking’s work worth reading?

        • epeeist

          Any of Stephen Hawking’s work worth reading?

          Not a big fan, in terms of cosmology I tend to prefer Brian Greene when it comes to popular expositions.

        • Zephry

          I will check it out. Thanks!

        • epeeist

          You’re attempting to project your ignorance onto the rest of humanity.

          This is SOP, claim that knowing a limited amount is exactly the same as knowing nothing. Also, rightly, assigning critical requirements on what science can say it knows.

          This would be all very well providing the same standards were applied to knowledge of this purported god and what can be said about it. But of course this is never the case.

        • Zephry

          I never claimed we knew nothing. That’s your word, not mine. Where is the proof that Big Bang happened? I have never seen a convincing proof but I accept that it could have happened based on what I’ve read about it. You can claim science as the best thing ever but I don’t think its anywhere close to answering how did the universe start and where its going. I think theologians have a much more satisfying answer.

        • Odd Jørgensen

          You sound like Trump, when he broadcasts his ignorance on a subject with “nobody knew…”.

        • Zephry

          If only I was as half as rich as Trump…

        • Kevin K

          Sorry, no. That’s incorrect. The data are in. Cold dark forever-expanding nothingness is the ultimate fate of our universe.

          You can choose to disbelieve or not; but that just places you firmly in the corner with the other kooks.

          In a trillion years or so, by best estimates — which, of course, is just barely the knife’s edge of “eternity”.

        • Kevin K

          And I keep coming back to this with more things to ponder.

          This time, I’m wondering why an eternal Trinity in a universe-less place needed to be a trinity? I mean, the reason for Jesus/God to exist is so that God/God could send it to Earth to atone for the sins of humans. So….no universe means no need for Jesus/God, since sin did not exist because humans did not exist.

          The concept of an eternal “begotten” Jesus/God doesn’t make any sense except as post hoc rationalization to maintain the “monotheism” status of the religion as a Jewish sect.

          And why doesn’t the Holy Spirit have a name? Yahweh/God has a name. Jesus/God has a name. Holy Spirit — no name. And it’s the one doing all the heavy lifting these days, filling people with itself so they can speak in tongues and all. Not fair. I think I shall call it “George”.

        • Zephry

          I find the Trinitarian view a lot more convincing than a strictly singular God. It would take me too long to synthesize the doctrine of sin and salvation together with creation. But I will say this… there are passages in the scripture even in the OT that may be pointing to the Trinity. There are about 130 references that mentions the Persons in the Trinity together.

          Also Holy Spirit is always called the Holy Spirit or Spirit in the scripture. Some say it’s a force, but I believe it’s a person. I never heard anyone make an issue about the name of the Holy Spirit. That’s very interesting.

        • Max Doubt

          “Some say it’s a force, but I believe it’s a person. I never heard anyone make an issue about the name of the Holy Spirit.”

          When you try to refine your ambiguous comments by tossing around a few more words and phrases that also don’t have a clear meaning, you’re not helping. So you talk about one of the three components of your god thing, the one you’ve named “Holy Spirit”, as if it’s a person. Does it differ in any way from what we’d normally consider a “person”, and if so, how? If we encountered one, would we be able to distinguish it from any other person?

        • Zephry

          Would you kindly point out where it is ambiguous so I can try to clarify it for you?

          How would you define a ‘person’?

          In what sense would you encounter a spirit? I am not understanding your question.

        • Max Doubt

          “Would you kindly point out where it is ambiguous so I can try to clarify it for you?”

          You’re replying to a post where I just pointed out, and kindly I think, one place in particular where you’ve been ambiguous. I already asked you to clarify it there. Kindly save me the trouble of copying and pasting, and you go back and re-read it, ‘kay?

          “How would you define a ‘person’?”

          That’s what I’m asking you. You’re the one who brought in the term. You said of this holy spirit, “Some say it’s a force, but I believe it’s a person.” What do you mean by person there? Would this god fraction person be different from, say you and me if we passed it on the street? Does it breathe and eat and shit like a person? Get us started here, will ya?

          “In what sense would you encounter a spirit? I am not understanding your question.”

          You believe there’s a god that is made up of sub-components, each of which you describe as an individual thing. One of those components you call a holy spirit. You say you believe that holy spirit slice is a person. There are roughly seven billion people on this planet, each of which is individually referred to as a person. How is this holy spirit person of yours like those seven billion others. If we crossed paths with it would we know it from any other person? How is it different?

        • Zephry

          Let me clarify the terms I am using when I say a ‘person’. I am describing the person of the Holy Spirit as a hypostasis.
          In case you are not familiar with the term Aristotle used the term to denote substance but in the early church history around 3-4th century BC it was beginning to be used to denote the personhood of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a person as in a human person but rather as one of three beings in the Godhead.

          http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hypostasis
          https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/person
          http://evergreen.loyola.edu/fbauerschmidt/www/th246_terms.html

          Again my question stands, how would you encounter a spirit?

        • Max Doubt

          “Let me clarify the terms I am using when I say a ‘person’. I am describing the person of the Holy Spirit as a hypostasis.”

          That’s not what person means to normal English speaking people, so you’re actually muddying rather than clarifying. Why don’t you just say your holy spirit is a hypostasis?

          “In case you are not familiar with the term Aristotle used the term to denote substance but in the early church history around 3-4th century BC it was beginning to be used to denote the personhood of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a person as in a human person but rather as one of three beings in the Godhead.”

          Do you get dizzy running around in that circle? You start by describing one element of these conjoined god triplets as a person, and when asked what you mean by person in that context, you say it means one element of the conjoined triplet god thing. You’re talking gibberish. It’s not helpful at all.

          “Again my question stands, how would you encounter a spirit?”

          It’s not my question. It’s yours. In plain English, I’d encounter a person by passing them on the street, seeing them on TV, meeting them at a dinner party, talking to them on the phone, conversing with them on a ‘net forum, and so forth. You’re the one who says your holy spirit is a person. So knock off the dishonest attempt to deflect your responsibility to define your terms, and tell us how we might differentiate that holy spirit person from anyone we might run into at the mall or sit next to on the bus.

        • Zephry

          Last time I checked this blog is called Cross Examined. If we are going to discuss the Trinity, shouldn’t we use the relevant terms and meanings? I can’t discuss American football using baseball terms now can I?

          Here are some resources to get you started on the Trinity.
          https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+trinity+explain+to+me+like+I+am+five

        • Max Doubt

          “If we are going to discuss the Trinity, shouldn’t we use the relevant terms and meanings?”

          You mean how you use terms like person when you mean hypostasis?

          “I can’t discuss American football using baseball terms now can I?”

          Yet here you are using baseball terms to describe football and dishonestly suggesting it’s other people’s fault that you’re being such a shitty communicator.

        • Zephry

          When discussing the person in the Trinity, theologians use the word “person” fully understanding the meaning it contains as it pertains to hypostasis.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s a lot of jibber-jabber…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw

        • Zephry

          I’ve seen plenty of bad analogies to the Trinity. They all fall short in trying to describe the plurality of the divine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve yet to read a coherent explanation of the concept that can’t manage with relying on a load of word salad.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2016/09/24/the-holy-trinity-is-incoherent-1/

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2016/09/27/the-holy-trinity-is-incoherent-2-penal-substitution-theory/

          Jonathan MS Pearce and Andy Schueler take on a priest in the comments section at the following Catholic forum and tear him asunder.

          “The Father, Son, and Spirit equally possess the one essence of divinity; therefore, all essential properties may be predicated of them. This does not render the hypostases indistinguishable, however: they are distinguished by their personal properties–specifically, their relations of origin. ”

          So they all have essential properties of Godhood. Thus all other properties are contingent. But a necessary being cannot have contingent properties, surely. Whatever those hypostatic properties are, they are not essential to godhood, since that would invalidate each of the hypostases being fully god.

          When you then look at the data of Jesus praying to himself, not knowing what the Father knows and so on, you have a complete mess of ideas. I applaud theologians for doing what seems to be the impossible. I actually think theology can be seen in terms of cognitive dissonance. How can we harmonise problematic data with core beliefs?

          I simply cannot see a coherent way out of this unless you just throw your hands up, as many do, and defer to mysterianism.

          https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/debunking-the-trinity/

        • Michael Neville

          I actually think theology can be seen in terms of cognitive dissonance.

          I have maintained for years that theologians make it up as they go along. Sometimes, as in the case of the Trinity, they set up logical inconsistencies, in which case they declare “a mystery” and proceed as if that answered anything.

        • Kodie

          Maybe ’cause it’s nonsense.

        • Zephry

          Ouch. Drive-by posting without any support or proof. Nice.

        • Kodie

          I don’t need any proof your assertion is baseless, it’s self-evident. You can’t describe the plurality of the divine, nobody can, but you still believe it and I say that it’s nonsense. That’s you go your way and think whatever the fuck you want, or you engage people with your ridiculous ignorance and arrogance and ineptitude at expression, and suffer the consequences. The trinity is fucking ridiculous. I would believe more polytheism like a committee, but trying to combine 3 as 1 is inane.

        • Zephry

          Which books, authors, or articles have you’ve read to come to your conclusion? All I am hearing is meaningless whining and just crap posting.

        • Kodie

          Then stop posting to hear yourself talk. It sounds like this is hard for you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          –an accurate presentation of the trinitarian doctrine will precisely be one that acknowledges God as absolute Mystery and which does not pretend otherwise. Sorry. That’s just the way it is. And until that is done, it will not be a doctrine that Orthodox and Catholics will recognize as in any way approximating what they believe and teach.

        • Zephry

          I may as well post Fr. Kimel’s other response right below.(who has an amazing blog btw.)

          The key point of my article is simple: critics of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity need to do their homework so that they can present it in such a way that we Christians recognize it as the doctrine we believe in and teach. This should be fairly obvious. If I’m going to criticize, say, Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, I had better understand it accurately enough that Einstein would recognize it as his theory. Or as Daniel Dennett phrases it in the first of his four rules of civil argument: “You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, ‘Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.’” My criticism of Jonathan’s article is that he did not do that.

          I have of course at no point said that any particular theologian’s formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity is beyond criticism. Theologians argue and criticize each other’s doctrinal formulations all the time, and when it comes to mysteries such as the Trinity, they know that they cannot capture God in their formulations and analogies. All we can do is approach the mystery. Some approaches are better than others, and some are just wrong. Our language inevitably breaks down when attempting to speak of the God who radically transcends the world he has made from out of nothing. How could it not?

          If what I am saying still doesn’t make sense, then I have to assume that you simply are not acquainted with the patristic writings on the Church Fathers. I do not know upon whom you or Jonathan are relying as sources for Christian doctrine. All I can really do at this point is urge you to read the primary sources, just as I have been doing for the past two years. That’s the whole point of this blog. Check out my various writings on St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Basil, and St Athanasius, as well as my other articles in the category “Holy Trinity.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Doesn’t really explain anything though does it?

        • Zephry

          This is in response to Max Doubt’s reluctance to discuss the Trinity using the language and idea it pertains before we can have a serious debate. All I’ve done with Max Doubt is arguing semantics.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So what?

          I’m trying to demonstrate that the concept of the Trinity is an incoherent nonsense that even theologians cannot explain cogently.

          After that, all that is left is the game of semantics

        • Zephry

          I am not a professional theologian but even I can explain the concept of Trinity in just 7 words. Three in Person and One in essence. You can argue semantics all day long, but there would be no point in the debate.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          What do you call humanity when described as “Seven Billion in Person and One in Meat”?

        • Zephry

          Umm… the answer is in the question. “What is humanity.”

        • Greg G.

          No, I just need the term that is analogous to “seven billion” as “three” is to “trinity”. That would make as much sense as your aphorism: “Three in Person and One in essence.”

          It reminds me of “One Ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Three in Person and One in essence.

          Just because you can say it in seven words doesn’t explain it’s incoherence.

        • Zephry

          I would like to know which part is incoherent.

          “In the Christian God we have one personal divine being (the ‘Trinity’ or ‘Godhead’ – this being one sense of the term ‘God’) essentially composed of three divine persons (each distinguished from the others by different senses of the term ‘God’).”

          source: http://www.bethinking.org/god/understanding-the-trinity

        • adam

          The Trimūrti is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the
          cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are
          personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu
          the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer/regenerator, though individual
          denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three
          deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is
          known as Dattatreya.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimurti

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Trinity is past eternal apparently…think about that for a moment and how it might effect the NT. Unless you want to assert that Jesus wasn’t always part of the Trinity, but became part when he became divine, whenever that was…which begs more questions.

          I gave you a link to a whole article why the idea is a logical clusterfuck…

          Anyhow, one God-essence is tapped into by three persons, without there being any clarity as to what a person might be. But if Jesus can tap into the essence of God, then he must have that exact same essence as shared between all the Trinity, and the whole. But for Jesus to be identified as a different person (hypostasis) but have the same nature as the others means that Jesus has properties that the others do not have and vice versa. So whatever is claimed of Jesus, he cannot be fully God. There is equivocation here on what nature means. These different properties which each person of the Trinity must have in order to identified as different to the others must, therefore, not be properties of being God, must not be essential properties of being God, must not be the essence or nature of God.

          And here is the problem, the contradiction. The Christian needs, obviously, the properties of all three persons to be godly, and yet they must be individual to each one. Again, Jesus cannot be fully God because he, in his person, has some essence of God that he shares with the others, and yet not all essential properties. Unless the other properties are not essential. But then they are contingent, and we have non-necessary elements of all persons of the Trinity. But surely all persons are necessary (in the beginning was the Logos). This is a problem which, to me, seems insurmountable.

          The only way out is that each person taps into an essence but that that essence is not the totality of God. And then we get back to one of the heresies.

          So I understand why theologians have to resort to mystery. I get it. They have no choice. It is logically incoherent. But they can’t admit that because, like free will, you take that away, and they ain’t got nothin’. And that doesn’t even take into account the nonsense of the Atonement.

          http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/05/03/the-holy-trinity-as-incoherent-1/

          Our very own resident Christian bore, Luke Breuer gets involved at… http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/05/03/the-holy-trinity-as-incoherent-1/#comment-1368270974

          Watch him get tied into pretzelmania in an attempt to clear up the “mystery”.

        • Kodie

          Still nonsense. You repeat this bullshit like it’s a meaningful mantra, but you have to be brainwashed first or it doesn’t make any sense.

        • You can argue semantics all day long, but there would be no point in the debate.

          And then mic drop and walk away?

          You avoid the semantics by having a meaningless argument.

        • adam

          ” Three in Person and One in essence. ”

          So 3 gods who are in essence 3 gods.

        • busterggi

          Four if you count Satan.

        • adam

          I think Satan and the Holy Ghost are the same entity,
          That’s why you NEVER see both of them at the same time.

        • That’s what they say about me and Superman.

          You draw your own conclusions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Being around Kryptonite then, must be a right pain in the arse I’d imagine?

        • Greg G.

          I’ve never seen BobS and Kryptonite together either. That can be construed as support for Bob’s claim or can be taken in a different direction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hmmmmm…[raises left eyebrow and strokes ones goatee while pondering proposition]…

          https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/suspicious-man-7952348.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Whoa! I just discovered that I can’t do the left eyebrow like that. I was fairly ambidextrous when I was younger.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What? Ya mean ya can’t do the Roger Moore eyebrow?…oh deary me….

          http://actionagogo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/84.jpg

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkJWVODzFqg

        • Greg G.

          I can do it with my right eyebrow. The best I can do with the left eye brow makes me squint on the right like Popeye.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b038b9406434384d3499a21fe6a8c2ed856fde1a9b46f8e22b1d18a65c56f5d.png

        • Every great man has his weakness. Mine is dessert. And, now that you mention it, kryptonite.

        • Michael Neville

          The Trinity was conceived when Arianism was made heretical (1st Council of Constantinople, 381) and Jesus was declared a god. Since Christians wanted to claim they were monotheists (a claim many Jews and Muslims reject) some theologians invented a convoluted system of three people in one god which they couldn’t actually explain. So the Trinity is officially a “mystery”, i.e. bullshit so contradictory that not even theologians try to explain it.

          Certain Christian sects reject the Trinity. Mormons hold that there are three gods–Dad, JC and The Spook–with “Heavenly Father” being the literal father of the other two. Who the mothers are is not given. The Christadelphians reject The Spook and say there are two gods, Dad and JC. Some very minor sects follow Arianism and reject JC as a god.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even Catholic clerics admit it is a load of incoherent and self contradictory balderdash. They even wallow in the fact.

          Orthodox and Catholic theologians acknowledge from the get-go that the Church’s doctrine of the Trinity is paradoxical and antinomic. I suppose therefore that by your criteria the doctrine is “incoherent.” That’s fine. That’s fine with me. That’s fine with the Orthodox Church. Not only are we not embarrassed to acknowledge that the most Holy Trinity is infinite Mystery who transcends all our attempts to comprehend him, we rejoice in this truth. And so every Sunday we acclaim God in his ineffable reality: ~Fr Aidan Kimel

        • Kevin K

          An ineffable god who most definitely hates the way you use your genitals.

          Right. Got it.

        • al kimeea

          I knew a woman who called her period George.

        • Karl

          You cannot use paste tense with (co-existed) with a being that lives in a constant now. It is a bit like introducing your Mrs and saying “This is my wife who cooked for me”, where in actual fact she cooks for me all the time therefore it should be, “This is my wife who cooks for me”, present tense continuous I think. Well something like that.

    • catfink

      I would like to know how you presuppose that if God created the universe, that would mean that things weren’t perfect beforehand

      Because if things were perfect beforehand, there wouldn’t be any reason to create the universe. You can’t improve on perfection.

      • Zephry

        Here is a response to your question that I agree with.

        https://carm.org/perfect-god-would-not-need-create-anything

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t see a question in in catfink’s comment.

          But regardless, your pathetic apologetics link just creates a straw man, then knocks it down by claiming god has mysterious reasons for his creation.

          It is a non answer.

          It’s a loada cack, and that you agree with it shows you are an unthinking clown.

        • Zephry

          Where do you find issues in this statement in regards to the original question asked?

          A perfect god would not need to create anything. A perfect god would not want to create anything because he would be insusceptible to greed. So either the Christian god is imperfect (because he apparently created the world just to get worship from a bunch of sycophants) or he doesn’t exist; because if he did exist, the universe would not exist.

          First of all, what logically prevents God from creating if He is perfect? Perfection means that God is complete, without error, totally wise, and self-sufficient. So, what in these qualities means God can’t create the universe? This atheist says God would be susceptible to greed if He did so. Really? So now it is greedy for God to create a universe? I have to ask, what justifies the atheist to assign such a sin to a holy God? What does greed have to do with creating anything? Why can’t God create for His own glory–which would be the greatest good for the most perfect being? Why can’t God create people so He could love them? After all, since God is love (1 John 4:8), love gives (John 3:16), and the greatest act of love is to die for another (John 15:13), then why can’t God create the universe and people in order to display the greatest act of love by becoming one of us and dying for us as is the case with Jesus?

        • Ignorant Amos

          What has greed got to do with it? Who here even mentioned it?

          What, in your mind, is the purpose for God creating the universe?

          The short answer that resounds through the whole Bible like rolling thunder is: God created the world for his glory. We’ll talk in a moment what that means, but let’s establish the fact first.

          http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-did-god-create-the-world

          Perfection means that God is complete, without error, totally wise, and self-sufficient. So, what in these qualities means God can’t create the universe?

          Can’t create a universe is the wrong question. Why? That is the question.

          There is a loada fudgery on this question at CARM.

          It is pure nonsense ending in this pile of crap.

          Therefore, I conclude that God may very well have made a universe in which he allowed sin to exist so that He Himself could show the greatest and most perfect act of love by laying down His life for His friends.

          https://carm.org/why-did-god-create-us-sin-world

        • Zephry

          I agree with John Piper regarding the purpose of God creating the universe.

          His argument sounds fine to me. Unless we are still debating semantics, which seems to be popular here.

          CARM’s answer regarding sin is just one of many that’s out there. I don’t fully agree with theirs. But why are we debating this anyway?

        • Ficino

          If you’re interested in real philosophy, don’t divert precious moments of life onto CARM.

          If God creates a universe, God actualizes not only that one out of all potential universes, but He actualizes his capacity to be a creator. By passing from potentiality to actuality in respect to anything at all, God undergoes a change. By definition, that which is perfect cannot undergo change.

          I don’t think it helps to say that God’s operations, not God, are actualized. Operations are not primary substances that have their own properties. Operations are already properties of primary substances, the substances that perform the operations. If God’s operations are actualized, God is the “actualizer.”

          Properties don’t have secondary modifiers that fail to apply to the primary substance that possesses the properties. If Socrates is pale to an extreme degree, “extreme” does not extend only to the paleness and not to Socrates, since it’s Socrates’ paleness. Socrates himself is extreme – with respect to paleness. If creative ability is actualized, something potential in God is actualized. God ipso facto is/was not perfect, not complete.

          You can’t have A in a necessary relation to B and then have a change in B without A’s relations undergoing the reciprocal change.

          I think the Christian apologist has to fall back on using words in accomodated senses. “God creates the universe, but God doesn’t undergo any changes in His relations or operations because ‘create’ has a special meaning when applied to God, and we humans can’t really understand it, so God talk.”

          You might promote a religion of a finite, struggling god, but not the God that is purely actual. And only a god that is purely actual can serve as one of the candidates to explain why anything exists.

          adding: time and time again, I find that Christians make moves that, if taken seriously, annihilate all discourse. They equivocate on key terms in their arguments but pretend that they are not equivocating because they say they’re speaking analogically or whatever.

        • Zephry

          Since this is the central point of your argument, I will argue this point.

          (1) If God creates a universe, God actualizes not only that one out of all potential universes, but he actualizes his capacity to be a creator.
          (2) By passing from potentiality to actuality God undergoes a change.
          (3) By definition, that which is perfect cannot undergo change.

          Premise 1 is wrong because if God by definition is perfect (using the definition that nothing can be added nor substracted) then perfection can’t change (as you stated in premise 3 as well). You have made a long strange argument which contradicts itself.

          Hey but for the argument sake, let’s pretend there is no contradiction here. If I am understanding correctly, in (1), the potentiality and actuality is the potential universe and this very universe. When you say he actualized his capacity to be a creator, do you mean effect lead to the cause? As in creating the universe caused God to be a Creator? Isn’t it more logical and elegant to say God created because he is a creator?

          Lastly, can you cite the source of your argument? I would like to read more about it without the paleness of Socrates.

        • Ficino

          My second paragraph represents inconsistencies within classical theism. You have noticed those; they are endemic to classical theism.

          There is a difference between first actuality and second actuality. A trained musician has the power to produce music. That’s first actuality but is at the same time the potential to produce actual music. When the musician is actually playing, s/he has actualized this power – second actuality. Not everything that is true of the musician not playing is true of the musician playing. The relation of cause to effect is reciprocal; the cause is not actualized unless the effect is actualized. The agent that produces the cause undergoes a change, since new things are true of it when it actualizes the effect.

          Classical theism of the sort that insists that God is Pure Act, like Thomism, has difficulty explaining how God undergoes no change while some predicates, like “actually creating” do not apply eternally to God. As with the example of the musician, not everything that is true of God having actualized the universe is true of God with the universe only remaining potential. It would be more consistent if Christianity, like Aristotle, held that the universe is eternal and God just forever actualizes it. But classical Christianity can’t do that.

        • Ficino

          If you continue your studies, you’ll discover forms of theism that do not make God purely actual but allow God some potentiality. In my view, those attempts fail to provide a robust metaphysics. They avoid the above difficulties but do a lousy job of arguing that God is the necessary ground of the existence of all contingent things when they make God potential in some way.

          Thus I have not found a version of natural theology that works.

          If you’re interested in going further into problems of necessity and contingency and creation, an interesting exchange, not from an Aristotelian/Thomistic perspective, appeared in *Philosophy and Phenomenological Research* 1977 and 1980 (vol. 37 and 40), between Carolyn Morillo and Julie Gowen. If you are at university, you should be able to find that journal in the library or on JSTOR.

        • catfink

          Here is a response to your question

          What question?

          Your link doesn’t address what I wrote. As I said, if things were perfect before the universe was created, there would be no reason to create it.

  • Karl

    How could God create the universe if he’s outside time? That is, how do you create anything if you’re outside of time?

    Well that is simple enough to explain, if you want to make a cake, while the idea is in your mind it is outside of time, it does not yet exist, when you create it the cake that it is, it then has time attached to it once you have made it, it is then an object outside of your being. Remember we only have limited creative abilities because we are using someone else’s stuff.

    • Zephry

      So you are saying ideas, words ,etc. are necessarily immaterial and is atemporal and aspatial? This is pretty interesting. Can I ask the source of this idea?

      • Karl

        Ideas or thoughts originate in the mind, the output could be a spoken word or action both having effects which are either good or bad depending on whom these are directed at and by whom they are created.

        But as far as time and space are concerned they have nil effect until either we or someone uses them or comes into contact with them.

        A good example of this is from the Book of Genesis, an idea, a thought that had no effect in time and space until the concept of “doubt” came into being and there caused corrosion, decay, degradation and time became a “thing” by which we measure our age and existence from birth to death. Time! It would have been better to have lived in a constant “now”.

        What is the source of this idea? I read it in a book. I like to read technical manuals, pretty boring some would say, but I like to learn things that are useful, someone else’s ideas, concepts that I could never think of, you are never to old to learn.

    • I also don’t see how ideas are outside of time. A static idea that can’t be worked on (during which time would elapse) is useless.

      we only have limited creative abilities because we are using someone else’s stuff.

      Someone else? You mean God? You need to back up this remarkable claim.

      • Karl

        “Idea” means to think, the act of thinking about something, so it is never static, thoughts are outside of time because they are not subject to laws which govern material objects, they don’t rust, break, wear out, degrade, it is only when something is fabricated from your “idea” does time have any effect on its existence, at least in this present dispensation.

        Let me put it another way, say you want to control the opening and closing of a circuit breaker with a PLC, the code that is in your head has no effect in time until it is written into the PLC, only then will that code have an effect in time by the opening and closing of the CB. Therefore that code does not exist in time till it is in the PLC memory as it is only then that a sequence comes into being by the simple opening closing action.

        “Someone else”, well if you had a backyard with some timber lying about and I wanted to build a nice patio cover, I could do one of three things, 1. Steal it, 2. Buy it, 3. Ask you to give it to me. I can not make timber so I would have to use your “stuff”. And you being a generous person would probably give it me unless of course it was ceder then I should pay you for it because ceder is better than pine. In this case you are the “someone else”.

        • Never static? Then it’s not outside time.

          In English, we have concrete nouns (tree, house) and abstract nouns (courage, happiness). An idea is abstract, but that has nothing to do with time.

          “Someone else”: if you’re talking about the material we use to make stuff (iron ore used to make a car, for example), science tells us that there was no “someone” from which it came.

        • Karl

          That is correct an “idea” has nothing to do with time until it becomes a reality. However we are not taking about abstracts. The word “idea” means to think therefore it cannot be static as the process of thinking is a continuous action. An idea is not courage or happiness although either could promote an idea, a thought to do something that ends with an action which then becomes subject to time. Something from nothing is not possible in our economy, we are not a god, we are subject to only being able to create something from something, the “idea” though is free of time even though you are thinking in a space of time, as you think through a process you are subject to the ravages of time, but your plan, design that is in your mind is not.

          Science? It just means knowledge thats all. You and me we do not know all knowledge, if we did we would be gods.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What, in your opinion, is nothing, and when did we have it?

        • Karl

          Nothing = “0”. Last time I had nothing was when my Mrs forgot my birthday.

        • epeeist

          Nothing = “0”.

          Nope, zero is the cardinality of the null set. Hence it is something.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nothing = “0”. Last time I had nothing was when my Mrs forgot my birthday.

          Yeah…except neither of those are the “nothing” you were inferring, so pah!

          And your still wrong.

          Nothing = “0”

          What epeeist just said…and…

          In computing, “nothing” and “0” are things.

          Last time I had nothing was when my Mrs forgot my birthday.

          Nope… you have never had nothing.

          And when your wife forgot your birthday, what happened was that she didn’t give you something.

          She couldn’t give you nothing….think about it.

        • Greg G.

          Getting nothing for your birthday may be what your wife thinks you deserve. In other words, it might be a message.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha-ha…indeed, it’s interesting that that was the first thing Karl thought of when considering an analogy, unless it wasn’t an analogy at all.

          Still can’t figure out how one can get nothing though.

        • Karl

          Amos you have not been married very long have you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just goes to show what you don’t know. Not once has a partner I’ve had, ever forgot my birthday.

          I was first married in 1985 to my childhood sweetheart, that wife died in 1991, never forgot my birthday, even when I was serving away. I had a couple of 5+ year relationships, none forgot my birthday. I got married again in 2008 to my American Catholic wife who had converted from Methodist…that didn’t last, but she never forgot my birthday. We are still legally married. My current partner and I have been together 6 years, she has yet to forget my birthday. So take out of that what you will.

          As for being married very long, it’s my opinion that a wife should be less likely to forget ones birthday, the longer the relationship. Unless the wife is going ga-ga, or thinks so little of their partner to care. Of course there could be other reasons too that I’ve not considered.

        • Karl

          Hmm! Amos have many birthday cards do you get then? At least three yes? But you are correct the longer two people have been together the more they should remember each other, it is not long though before in our short life on this earth when we end up with the “ills, spills and pills”. Take care.

        • Karl

          Yeah, but I am not a computer and besides when you pull the plug on a computer I can tell you “0” = nothing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was an example.

          When you plug the computer back on, that nothing is there, so where did it go when the computer was off?

          Still, it’s not the nothing we are talking about, so pah!

        • Karl

          Amos you have not paid your utility account so your “0” is still zero, unless of course you have friendly neighbor who can throw an extension lead over the fence.

        • Michael Neville

          Zero is not nothing. Zero is a number, no different than 2 or -4 or 1,967,588.03.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Good luck with that endeavour where others have tried and failed.