Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Consider the ant!"

“You'll watch as a parasite grows out of an ant's head, how a polar bear preys on Walruses, how hunting dogs kill prey, and so on, and so on. Yes, this is a majestic earth, and wonderful in so many ways. But when you watch this series I want you to ask why God didn't create us all as vegetarians. To me the horror of the law of predation negates the existence of an omni-God...period. And I just don't see how anyone who watches what takes place every second somewhere around the globe can still think God is good. He isn't. The horror of predation in this world proves such a God doesn't exist beyond a shadow of doubt.”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/03/there-is-no-christian-god.html

Loftus ran out of ideas a long time ago. Indeed, he never had any ideas of his own.

So he picks the mould spores out of his stale objections with a pair of tweezers, and keeps on serving them to his omnivorous readers.

He assures us that there is no Christian God.

Apparently, God didn’t get the memo. I guess that DC is a poor medium for communicating with the Omnipotent.

The problem with his current objection is that it doesn’t make any sense on either secular grounds or Christian grounds.

i) What’s so bad about a parasite growing out of an ant’s head, any way? This serves a natural purpose in the ecological balance. So it’s not a gratuitous evil.

ii) Does he think the ant is suffering? Does he attribute consciousness to an ant?

iii) Even more to the point, his reaction illustrates a typical tension in secularism. Take wolves. In traditional literature, wolves are described as cruel, savage, and vicious.

But you’re not supposed to say that any more. It’s politically incorrect. A naturalist will scold you for falsely imputing human motives and emotions to the wolf.

And, in one sense, the naturalist is right. This is a case of human projection. Treating an animal as if it’s a human being.

Nature isn’t cruel. Human beings can be cruel. But nature is amoral.

Yet Loftus’ whole case is predicated on his childishly anthropomorphic view of the animal kingdom. He identifies with that poor little ant. He imagines what it would “feel” like to be an ant.

But, of course, that has no basis in reality. He is taking himself as the standard of reference. An ant doesn’t share his viewpoint. Indeed, an ant has no viewpoint.

That would be the consistently secular interpretation. And, at a certain level, a Christian would agree.

iv) So why do we automatically tend to ascribe human traits to animals? There’s a theological explanation for that. The material world is one big parable.

God speaks to us through the world—as well as the Word. He teaches us things through the ritual morality play of the natural world.

Consider the symbolic dimension of so many animals in Scripture, viz. the ant, badger, bear, dog, dove, fox, goat, hornet, lamb, leopard, lion, locust, maggot, owl, ox, serpent, sheep, spider, warhorse, wolf, &c.

Indeed, the same animal can have more than one symbolic function, viz. dogs, sheep.

So, at another level, there is a genuine sense in which, by divine design, the animal kingdom has an emblematic and pedagogical function. It mimics human virtues and vices.

These are object lessons. Sermon illustrations. Bards and poets have always understood this.

41 comments:

  1. Indeed, look at how we neuter our pets, like good ole Franklin J. Loftus, hound dog and best friend. That we remove our best friends scrotum proves there's no God! Look at us cut their testes off, every time we do this, we disprove an "omni" God.

    God can't allow parasites to eat away at an ant's head, but an all good Loftus can remove his "best friend's" family jewls.

    Three cheers for secular consistency: Hip, hip, hooray; hip hip, hooray; hip, hip, hooray!

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  2. Wait, let me get this straight, Manata - you actually think that Loftus is inconsistent for complaining about God allowing parasites to grow out of an ant's head while he simultaniously cut's off his doggie's diddie and doesn't think he's immoral for doing so?

    Seriously, that you try to make Loftus look bad is proof against an all-good God. If God were all good, he wouldn't have created someone whose arguments are so easily able to be ridiculed and laughed at. So, your very ridiculing of Loftus' argument shows that there's no all-good God.

    So, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heeyyy, c'mon now, guys. My master is a pretty good guy. Despite the removal of my thing-a-ma-bob, I've had a pretty good life. Much better than those ants.

    Anyway, don't be too hard on ole John. I'm the one giving him these arguments. I came up with them after I watched Charlotte's Web on the boob tube one night.

    That's a tremendous piece of atheology right there. If God were all good why would he let things like Charlotte's Webb happen? We know in real life spider mommies die before they get to see their spiderlings go off into the harsh, cold, and unforgiving world.

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  4. Whoever said anything about my pure bred Basset Hound being neutered? I didn't. The way you make these things up reminds me of the gospel stories themselves. Once again, if you cannot read and properly interpret what I write without making stuff up in the process, then how can anyone trust what you say about anything?

    Intellectual integrity is something I don't see much of here. While that doesn't matter much to you when it comes to atheists like me, it does have its effects on your readers. They want to know whether or not they can trust what you write. If there are some obvious examples of this lack of intellectual integrity, they will trust what you say less and less.

    You still don't get it, do you? Even Christians who agree with you will distrust you more and more if you aren't fair with what I say.

    ----------------
    Regarding the original post. Animals were created for the poets and musicians, eh? Have you watched the Planet Earth video of hunting dogs, or killer whales, or many of the other ways animals feed themselves?

    I guess just like David Wood you don't care that much for animals.

    But what of a perfectly good God?

    ReplyDelete
  5. John Floftus4/01/2007 11:34 AM

    John, prove you haven't neutered your doggie.

    Anyway, if you haven't, the point still stands, you probably don't think it's "immoral" when your atheist friends neuter their animals, but when God allows parasites to gorow out of ant heads, you have a suddent attack of morality.

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  6. John, my master,

    Be kind to these intelelctual ants. And, be hoinest. Remember when you put "Advantage" on the nape of my neck to kill all those fleas? An all good God can't kill ants, but an all good Loftus can kill fleas, eh?

    Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you did it. I hate fleas.

    in Alpo,

    Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  7. Loftus of course continues to miss the fact that he's got no basis for his argument. We've demonstrated countless times that animal "pain" is not inconsistent with Christian theology, and it certainly isn't inconsistent with secularism.

    In fact, Loftus's argument reminds me a bit of another atheist argument. It's the argument that says that the concept of divinity came from ancient "stupid" people who personified inanimate objects and animals and "deified" them. Thus, lightning must have a "lightning God" because these ancient "stupid" people anthropomorphized a natural function.

    Yet Loftus is doing the same thing with animals now. Nevermind that the vast majority of animals on Earth cannot possibly feel pain in the first place (lacking the brain capacity for it), Loftus feels it is his duty to feel pain for these "poor" animals. He anthropomorphizes the animal's plight and condemns theism through it.

    So on the one hand, anthropomorphism is supposed to be how concepts of divinity arose in the first place, but on the other hand it's supposed to destroy all concepts of divinity.

    Yet another contradiction from the atheist front. Not that anyone is shocked by that...

    ReplyDelete
  8. As an aside, I suppose I can now start calling Loftus an ancient "stupid" person... :-D

    ReplyDelete
  9. John Loftus,

    Don't you know that you should neuter and spay your animals? Don't you know how many unwanted dog pregancies there are? Really, if you were up on the current literature, you'd know that it's only uneducated, and ancient superstitious people, members of the phallic cults, that don't spay or neuter.

    Inded, as we read in reports like the above:

    "Of course, the mother of those puppies should have been spayed," says Paula Fasseas, founder and chair of PAWS Chicago. "There are so many unwanted pets out there; it's all about spay/neuter to prevent future generations. I think the message about spay/neuter has mostly gotten through to more educated people, but there are still many (people) who just don't do it, particularly those in impoverished communities. They don't understand why spaying or neutering benefits them, and benefits their animals."

    See, John. Educated people. Men of science and rationality. Learned men and women all know we should spay and neuter. If you don't believe me, apply the "Outsider Test" to your beliefs about "pure breds" and "neutering." After you do so, "answer us and do not lie."

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm Franklin's 2 legged brother, Bob. Unfortunately, I didn't make it out of the puppy mill process in one piece. But, hey, the world doesn't see these kinds of things. As long as Mr. and Mrs. are happy, that's all that matters.

    They have written a story of our life,

    "The sad faces peered from plastic crates stacked four high and crammed into the back of the broken-down truck in Tennessee. The air conditioner was not working, and the temperature inside was 100 degrees. A mechanic heard whimpering and discovered that 150 purebred puppies constituted the vehicle's cargo. Four were dead; the survivors, traumatized and suffering from heat exhaustion, could barely hold up their heads."

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-65539055.html

    However, my life isn't so bad, as you can see by clicking on my name. I just want to point out that though Loftus' conscience may be clean regarding his treatment of my brother's diddie, he is implicitly involved in the heinous puppy mill trade.

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  11. Apparently many of you guys don't own pets. Pet lovers are of a different breed of people. None of them would kick their pets, break their legs, or pluck their eyes out. If a bigger dog was tearing their dog to pieces they would intervene.

    God sits by and does nothing while people tear other people to pieces.

    Pet lovers are better toward their pets than your God is toward his creatures.

    And as far as a contradiction goes, Pike, you haven't a clue about what that could be. A stated contradiction is something like saying two opposite things at the same time about the exact same subject in the exact same sense.

    Clearly what I have done is no contradiction...clearly.

    You cannot make that charge stick.

    I challenge you to do it.

    Otherwise I'll call you "clueless."

    Take a logic class.

    You could enroll in mine, if you'd like.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Pike, I suppose you see no contradictions in the Bible, but yet you easily see them in me.

    So hypocritical, you are.
    You apply many double standards, you do.
    And to think, you want to prove God exists because of logic.

    That's laughable to me.

    First show me you know how to use logic...

    Then show me that anyone can, since logic never exists in the abstract, but you are probably clueless as to what that even means.

    You don't even realize that the only reason you're probably here at Triablogue is because you annoy me.

    You seem to be clueless about so much that I don't see a better explanation.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Pet owners cut off their dog's scrotum. Is that nice? Does it cause pain and suffering? Would you want your scrotum cut off? Do you think a pet owner who spays or neuters their dog is "evil?" Why? "Answer me and do not lie." Perhaps the answer is that they have a morally sufficient reason for the pain and suffering they plan and allow?

    John kills his dog's fleas. Is he morally justified in causing death to fleas? Poisoning them. Why is this not morally wrong when John does it, but it is when God does it?

    Why is Loftus allowed to cause harm and pain for the greater good but God isn't? Does Loftus think he's God, maybe?

    ReplyDelete
  14. The basic question is one of suffering, and whether or not we all agree that it exists in animals. If it does, then the connection to an all-good and all-powerful God is contingent upon accepting that this sort of God wouldn't create a world with such suffering. If you don't accept that premise, then there is no argument. I accept that premise, and thus I don't believe in that sort of God (or any other).

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lofuts said:
    ---
    Clearly what I have done is no contradiction...clearly.
    ---

    Oh yes, I forgot that technique.

    *wave hand*
    There is no contradiction here.
    *wave hand*
    There is no contradiction here.
    [end Jedi mind trick]

    Loftus said:
    ---
    Take a logic class.

    You could enroll in mine, if you'd like.
    ---

    I'd have to be "clueless" to take a logic class from someone who uses it as poorly as you do.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Pike, you are clueless.

    Only the clueless would say what you do and claim you're not clueless.

    Ahhhh, but I'm an atheist, so you don't have to listen to me because I have no standard for logic. Don't take any classes from any atheists either.

    Others here won't tell you the truth because you're doing your job as the villiage idiot in annoying me.

    Seriously though, take a critical thinking class.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This just in.....

    Master Yoda posing as atheist makes comments on Triablogue:

    "So hypocritical, you are.
    You apply many double standards, you do."

    now this is funny!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Who needs a logic class?

    Fallacy #1
    Hasty Generalization

    "God sits by and does nothing while people tear other people to pieces."

    Here Loftus makes a hasty generalization because he has not *experienced* God intervening, therefore God doesn't intervene for anyone.

    Fallacy # 2
    Genetic fallacy
    "Pet lovers are better toward their pets than your God is toward his creatures."

    Fallacy #3
    Ad Hominem

    "You seem to be clueless about so much that I don't see a better explanation."

    ReplyDelete
  19. FW,

    "The basic question is one of suffering, and whether or not we all agree that it exists in animals. If it does, then the connection to an all-good and all-powerful God is contingent upon accepting that this sort of God wouldn't create a world with such suffering."

    Why should we accept such a thing?

    Why do you get to cause suffering by cutting off doggies and kitties private parts, but God is an immoral meany if he causes suffering.

    Man is better than God.

    Anthropocentricism.

    The question boils down to whether you think you should be able to act like God--determining what suffering is permissible so that your 'good end' can be acheived--or if God has to act like not-God--bowing down to human interpretations of what suffering is permissible in an ahtropocentric universe.

    I, for one, don't like that kind of blatent and ignorant hypocrisy and intellectual stupidity in my thinking, hence I reject the notion that I'm God and God isn't God.

    But, if FW wants to live in his ignorant little box, who are we to stop him. Ignorance is bliss.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Loftus said:
    ---
    Only the clueless would say what you do and claim you're not clueless.
    ---

    Yes, and a TRUE Scotsman would wear a kilt.

    Loftus said:
    ---
    Ahhhh, but I'm an atheist, so you don't have to listen to me because I have no standard for logic.
    ---

    Actually, I don't have to listen to you because you can't force me to listen to you. Unfortunately, I listen to you anyway, and it's always been a waste of time.

    And yes, you do not have a standard for logic. This is just one of many things your worldview is missing.

    Loftus said:
    ---
    Others here won't tell you the truth because you're doing your job as the villiage idiot in annoying me.
    ---

    Yes, you got me Loftus. Everything I do in my entire life is BASED ON YOU! I can't sleep without thinking about you. I can't dream without wondering what I could do to annoy you. I can't eat lasagna without wondering if I could use it in an argument against you. It's all about you.

    Except when you actually do stuff..then suddenly it's not you anymore. You know, like the woman who made you cheat on your wife. That wasn't about you, no sir. That was HER fault. And losing your faith in God? That wasn't about your sin! Of course not! No, it was about other people not being nice to you when you confessed in your church.

    You've got it all backwards...but this is par for the course in Loftlandia.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous said:
    Why should we accept such a thing?

    Well, if we want to tie the idea of "goodness" to the idea of "anti-suffering"...basically...

    Anonymous said:
    Why do you get to cause suffering by cutting off doggies and kitties private parts, but God is an immoral meany if he causes suffering. Man is better than God. Anthropocentricism.

    Not quite. First, I'm not Loftus, so don't say that I've "gotten" to do this. Second, the reason that people neuter pets is to avoid suffering in the long term: if you have more pets than can be taken care of adequately, they will suffer. Or, the pet you own has genetic defects which cause suffering in the young.

    Now where do we see this break down for Sky Daddy? Simple: God is never limited by options such that suffering is necessary and thus that it must be allowed. Not the case for humans, whose actions to neuter pets are a way to minimize suffering (ideally) which, if they had the power to otherwise change, (and they were good) they would. A good point to make here is that when the animals are neutered, they are given anaesthesia and pain medicine...to reduce their suffering.

    Anonymous said:
    The question boils down to whether you think you should be able to act like God--determining what suffering is permissible so that your 'good end' can be acheived--or if God has to act like not-God--bowing down to human interpretations of what suffering is permissible in an ahtropocentric universe.

    Funny, if I had my way, there would be no suffering. If I had my way, 25,000 people wouldn't starve to death every single day, most of them children. What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good". Then, the challenge is for you to mount a defense of said "greater good" that is actually believable -- a defense that makes sense when an omni3 God ought never be backed into such a corner (needing suffering to accomplish something else).

    Anonymous said:
    I, for one, don't like that kind of blatent and ignorant hypocrisy and intellectual stupidity in my thinking, hence I reject the notion that I'm God and God isn't God.

    Intellectual honesty requires the God we're discussing to square with the evidence supplied empirically. The existence of mass suffering provides strong evidence that your belief is intellectually bankrupt.

    Anonymous said:
    But, if FW wants to live in his ignorant little box, who are we to stop him. Ignorance is bliss.

    I've yet to see how I'm "ignorant", but continue with the insults if it helps you feel better about the paucity of your argumentation.

    ReplyDelete
  22. FW said:
    ---
    God is never limited by options such that suffering is necessary and thus that it must be allowed.
    ---

    Of course, this is question begging.

    It isn't necessary in the sense that God could have created nothing at all, of course. But would such an alternative be better for us?

    Likewise, the premises behind the above statement FW makes rely on presupposed concepts of what kinds of suffering are actually permissable in the first place (in other words, an assumed morality which he has not argued for, we're just supposed to "accept it").

    But there are several prbolems with the knee-jerk reaction against pain. Obviously, even in today's fallen world, not all pain is bad. Just ask a diabetic who has lost all feeling in her feet whether it is good that she doesn't feel it when she steps on a rusty nail, for instance.

    In this instance, some degree of suffering is indeed necessary simply to describe the limits of what is healthy. If pain didn't hurt, people would do far more currently pain-causing activities (for fun or otherwise), thus increasing the risk of permanent damage to their bodies, etc.

    Naturally, FW could argue that God could have given us indestructible bodies...but this would require such a radically different universe that it simply impossible for anyone to rationally argue whether it would be "better" than this current world. In order to maintain this argument, FW must enter into such a highly speculative area that it is little different than an ad hoc "say so" argument.

    FW said:
    ---
    Not the case for humans, whose actions to neuter pets are a way to minimize suffering (ideally) which, if they had the power to otherwise change, (and they were good) they would.
    ---

    But FW forgets that humans DO have the power to completely get rid of all pain and suffering in the animal world. It's called: extinction. We can simply destroy the entire world and no person or animal will ever suffer again.

    Yet such an action would be perceived as evil even by most atheists who have no basis for their morals. Despite the fact that it would end all pain to euthanize every living being in all creation, atheists would prefer to keep their pets around.

    Why? Because they realize, whether they admit it or not, that the ultimate good is not simply "absense of pain." Existence that hurts is still better than non-existence.

    Furthermore, it is an undeniable fact that certain existences could not occur at all apart from pain. For instance, those who were born of an act of rape owe their very existence to an act of torment. (This, of course, does not justify the rapist's actions...not that they would need to be justified in an atheist worldview.)

    We can also extrapolate this into the spiritual realm. Christ could have immediately judged the world after his resurrection. This would have stopped all the painful actions that occured in history after his resurrection. Yet because He did not do so, billions of people were born--and indeed, born-again--to experience heaven with Him.

    The bottom line is that not all possible ways of removing pain are actually possible given God's design and purpose for the world.

    FW said:
    ---
    What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good".
    ---

    So? What would be wrong with that?

    FW said:
    ---
    Then, the challenge is for you to mount a defense of said "greater good" that is actually believable
    ---

    I believe my defense.

    But you're not asking that. You're asking for me to mount a defense that is "believable to you." A) Why should what you believe be the definition of what is true? B) How can anything be believable in your worldview?

    FW said:
    ---
    Intellectual honesty requires the God we're discussing to square with the evidence supplied empirically. The existence of mass suffering provides strong evidence that your belief is intellectually bankrupt.
    ---

    An assertion without an argument.

    By the way, intellectual honesty would also require you to actually familiarize yourself with theodicies before dismissing them out of hand.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Pike's Peak:

    Yes, you got me Loftus. Everything I do in my entire life is BASED ON YOU!

    Yes...that's exactly what I said, oh master of critical thinking...exactly.

    I'm done here. I don't suffer fools like you gladly.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Uh oh... Does this perhaps show us Loftus in a few years???

    Couple Commits Suicide Over Death Of Their Dog

    ReplyDelete
  25. Loftus said:
    ---
    I'm done here.
    ---

    You mean like the last eight times?

    ReplyDelete
  26. An Ony Mo Us4/02/2007 8:58 PM

    Loftus said....I'm done here. I don't suffer fools like you gladly.

    How do you live with yourself? :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi FW,

    I see you're getting your five minutes. The atheist pros have gone on strike, and so the replacement scab team has come in. No talent, but a lot of guts.

    "Well, if we want to tie the idea of "goodness" to the idea of "anti-suffering"...basically..."

    But of course this is sophomoric. Goodness is not "tied to" anti-suffering. Gartuitous suffering, but not mere suffering. If so, doctors who case patients to suffer are "immoral." So, when you post, be sure to be specific and more precise in your use of terms. Anyway, that's not "the idea" I was referring to. So, do try to pay attention when you read the posts of others.

    "Not quite. First, I'm not Loftus, so don't say that I've "gotten" to do this. Second, the reason that people neuter pets is to avoid suffering in the long term: if you have more pets than can be taken care of adequately, they will suffer. Or, the pet you own has genetic defects which cause suffering in the young."

    I didn't say you "were Loftus." You don't reason as well. ;-) Now *that's* some smack talk. Anyway, I'm assumning you don't have a problem with neutering animals. Lastly, I'm glad you recognize that "non-suffering doesn't = goodness." I'm glad to hear that you hold to the "greater good defense" for the justification of scrotum removal.

    "Now where do we see this break down for Sky Daddy? Simple: God is never limited by options such that suffering is necessary and thus that it must be allowed."

    And of course as Pike pointed out, this begs the question. First, you're assuming that "this option" (the world as we know it) isn't the world where the suffering planned and allowed doesn't acheive the greater good. Second, who says that suffering isn't necessary? How much would one have to know to make that statement? Third, you're assuming that the suffering allowed is "unecessary." Fourth, you assume that "unnecessary suffering" is wrog. But, how is "unnecessary" to be understood here? For a theif to satisfy his desire for your car, it's necessary that he steal it. For someone to satisfy their desire for your wallet, it may be necessary to sock you in the head in order to take it. So, "unnecessary" *for what?* Your assumption seems to allow what theives and muggers do to be morally acceptable. Don't be a nit wit, dude.

    Funny, if I had my way, there would be no suffering. If I had my way, 25,000 people wouldn't starve to death every single day, most of them children."

    What about child molesters? Would you have them suffer? Sloppy agape. Maybe you'd make men with wings so they wouldn't fall to their death. Didn't you say that you *weren't* Loftus? What about sin? Would that be done away with too? Men could "do what seems just in their own eyes?" But that would cause suffering. Perhaps you would make men mere puppets, robots. No suffering because there is no person to suffer. Zombie world. Maybe you could make our stomachs so small we hardly needed any food. But then there goes our pleasure of being able to feast on a big fat steak, potatoes, start with a diner salad, and top it off with some Crème brûlée. Perhaps washing down each course with some fine wine. Or, maybe you'd magically make food appear, never ending. But then we'd eat so much we'd all be to fat to move or do anything. Perhaps you'd design a way around that too. I mean, try explaining this little Utopia for us in a bit more detail. And, while doing it, try and not act like a nit wit.

    "What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good".

    So?

    What you have to believe is that doctors who do a Triple Bypass *want* people to suffer. Or, sometimes doctors will try to force a heart attack. You must believe this is "for the greater good."

    Seriously, are you sure you're not Loftus' little brother?

    "Then, the challenge is for you to mount a defense of said "greater good" that is actually believable.."

    Peter and I believe it. What, did you actually wake up this morning thinking that what you believe is the criteria for truth? You really do think you're God, don't you?

    "a defense that makes sense when an omni3 God ought never be backed into such a corner (needing suffering to accomplish something else)."

    Perhaps you've been asleep at the wheel of your Christian studies. God isn't "backed into a corner." He actually planned and foreordained the suffering we see. It's not an afterthought. It's part of the plan. Sorry that you went to a church that told you, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

    "Intellectual honesty requires the God we're discussing to square with the evidence supplied empirically. The existence of mass suffering provides strong evidence that your belief is intellectually bankrupt."

    No one denied "the existence of mass suffering."

    But, what's there to "square?"

    The existence of suffering, on your view, is simply a product of folk psychology. The weaker die, and the stonger live. That's it. To the extent that you're and ethical realist, you need to be a theological realist.

    And, sorry to inform you, but ethics aren't products of empirical observations. Descriptions don't = prescriptions. You see two humans having sex. You don't infer that "rape" is immoral from a mere observation. Or, you see a man cut a man with a knife. One is a doctor, one is a murderer. Mere observational data doesn't get you to the conclusion that one is "immoral." Just seeing a guy put a knife in someone doesn't = the conclusion that one is "unjustified taking of life." So, try to not be a nullifidian nit wit.

    "I've yet to see how I'm "ignorant", but continue with the insults if it helps you feel better about the paucity of your argumentation."

    Oh, I see, you can come in here mocking Frank Walton, refer to God as a "sky daddy," but when your wittle ego is attacked you have an emotional breakdown. Please. get over yourself. Grow a pair.

    ReplyDelete
  28. franklin d roseusmelt4/03/2007 9:44 AM

    Peter,

    Peter Pike said...
    [4/02/2007 3:46 PM]
    Of course, this is question begging. It isn't necessary in the sense that God could have created nothing at all, of course. But would such an alternative be better for us?

    It seems you have presented a false dilemma. At the outset, the question up for debate circles around animal suffering. And the implications of the question are: "does animal suffering present evidence against an omni3 God?" Now you have implied that suffering is necessary, since you seem to tacitly admit that God cannot create without it.

    Likewise, the premises behind the above statement FW makes rely on presupposed concepts of what kinds of suffering are actually permissable in the first place (in other words, an assumed morality which he has not argued for, we're just supposed to "accept it").

    Okay, let me ask you in a very simple and straightforward way -- do you think that allowing or causing suffering, when said suffering may be avoided or uncaused, is morally good? Morally bad? Amoral? Do you think that the moral status depends upon the person allowing/causing it?

    But there are several prbolems with the knee-jerk reaction against pain. Obviously, even in today's fallen world, not all pain is bad. Just ask a diabetic who has lost all feeling in her feet whether it is good that she doesn't feel it when she steps on a rusty nail, for instance.

    Your example is a poor one (as you point out in your next sentence) in that some pain is good in order to avoid worse damage to ourselves. But I get your point nonetheless -- you are saying that pain isn't intrinsically evil, that it must be given a context. And I agree. But that doesn't solve the dilemma before us, because the context before us is one in which there is no need to employ pain to serve a greater good (avoiding damage to bodies, etc.).

    In this instance, some degree of suffering is indeed necessary simply to describe the limits of what is healthy. If pain didn't hurt, people would do far more currently pain-causing activities (for fun or otherwise), thus increasing the risk of permanent damage to their bodies, etc. Naturally, FW could argue that God could have given us indestructible bodies...but this would require such a radically different universe that it simply impossible for anyone to rationally argue whether it would be "better" than this current world. In order to maintain this argument, FW must enter into such a highly speculative area that it is little different than an ad hoc "say so" argument.

    You seem to have attempted to preemptively refute this comeback, but you failed to do so. The reason is simple: you already have a "highly speculative area" in which you place your faith: heaven. In heaven, you believe that we do not possess bodies that can be hurt, and/or that the world that is heaven contains no ways to hurt those bodies. This is, indeed, a "radically different universe", and, I might argue, a better world than the one in which we live, were it real. Now, if you accept that such a world can/does exist (as you do), and yet we do not live in that world, but are expected to believe that this world is a sort of "gateway" or "training ground" (or whatever) for that world, then we need not "rationally argue whether it would be 'better'" -- would we?

    And, as trite as it is, this problem still faces those who present an omni3 God. If a better world can/does exist, yet your putative God puts us in a worse/lower world, in which we are surrounded by examples of pointless/needless pain and suffering (animal and otherwise), it seems to present evidence against either the goodness of said God or Its power.

    But FW forgets that humans DO have the power to completely get rid of all pain and suffering in the animal world. It's called: extinction. We can simply destroy the entire world and no person or animal will ever suffer again.

    Interesting view. Of course, I don't agree that this is a morally high road to rid the world of suffering, and since the entire world is interdependent on ecosystems, if we took about this process we would be on a suicide mission. It seems that once again, we have the false dichotomy: a world cannot exist without pain and suffering, the only alternative is no world at all.

    Yet such an action would be perceived as evil even by most atheists who have no basis for their morals. Despite the fact that it would end all pain to euthanize every living being in all creation, atheists would prefer to keep their pets around.

    Most atheists use simple premises to base their morality upon: perhaps even your "golden rule". This golden rule is obviously a common ground/basis for morality between Christian and atheist, is it not? We can agree that this principle will work to accomplish our goal of goodness.

    We all agree with the following: Suffering is not good. Minimize it whenever possible. Cooperation is good, and yields mutual benefits. Behave with empathy, compassion and altruism in order to maximize cooperation and thus reap the rewards of health, wealth and happiness.

    Don't we...? If you say you don't, then I would say either your mental machinery is defective (and thus you lack ethical intuitions and capabilities), or that you are like the little boy who stubbornly refuses to concede his spot on the playground equipment because he wants it all to himself. You want to believe that you own morality, or a rational basis for it, when the above points are values that we all share. All humans...even all rational animals.

    Why? Because they realize, whether they admit it or not, that the ultimate good is not simply "absense of pain." Existence that hurts is still better than non-existence.

    This is a little deep, and I think we're going off on a bit of a tangent. First, I never claimed that the absenCe of pain (aren't you a writer?) is the ultimate good. I claimed that suffering is not good. So let's not caricature one another's arguments.

    It seems simple to me that before I was born, I didn't exist. After I die, I won't exist. Those two regimes need no moral prescriptions or concerns. While I'm here, I exist, and I can either live by the premises above, which align with all of our ethical intuitions, or I can try to fight them, and thus forfeit the right to live in peaceful society of law and order. A rational creature which wants the best for itself sees that it cannot attain this in a vacuum, and sees the "greater good" as the attainment of these goals (health, wealth, happiness) for everyone. Again, if you dispute that these things are good, I would ask you why. Are you just being stubborn? Is there some rational argument that these values are not intrinsic to all humans, and that they don't represent what is good for us?

    If we all agree that these values are, indeed, valuable, then we have a very easy time seeing that morality is the achievement of these values for all. And if these values "aren't valuable", then I suppose you will go on to deny anything of value...probably in defiance of your own intellect, just to be stubborn.

    Furthermore, it is an undeniable fact that certain existences could not occur at all apart from pain. For instance, those who were born of an act of rape owe their very existence to an act of torment. (This, of course, does not justify the rapist's actions...not that they would need to be justified in an atheist worldview.)

    Again, this seems to be yet another example of how good can come from evil. Of how a greater good can be sought from the service of pain and suffering. I do not quibble with you that in the world in which we live, certain pains and sufferings may indeed bring about certain goods. The classic examples involve medicine, as Paul Manata (posting anonymously) points out below.

    But the point you're missing is that it need not be that way. Not for God. And the question is thus simple: bring about good through good, or bring about good through evil? What is logically more good? That which purely arose from goodness, or that which is tained with evil?

    We can also extrapolate this into the spiritual realm. Christ could have immediately judged the world after his resurrection. This would have stopped all the painful actions that occured in history after his resurrection. Yet because He did not do so, billions of people were born--and indeed, born-again--to experience heaven with Him.

    This is an interesting thought experiment, I suppose. It could also apply to God stopping everything right after Adam & Eve, right? And the question we would have to ask, given verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that more will be lost than saved, is how this is rationally called "good" on God's part. How it is somehow more good of God to allow countless millions to be born (or actively bring them into existence) who face an eternal damnation than not allowing them to be brought into existence (bringing them about) at all? You bring up a very good point. I think cautious thought should be given to that question. Before I was born, I didn't exist. I expect the same after I die. How can non-existence be worse than an existence in eternal suffering? And if it isn't, then how can an all-good God will it for so many?

    The bottom line is that not all possible ways of removing pain are actually possible given God's design and purpose for the world.

    And this is the bottom line of begging the question -- why believe that this is God's design and purpose for our world?

    FW said:
    ---
    What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good".
    ---

    So? What would be wrong with that?

    FW said:
    ---
    Then, the challenge is for you to mount a defense of said "greater good" that is actually believable
    ---

    I believe my defense.

    But you're not asking that. You're asking for me to mount a defense that is "believable to you." A) Why should what you believe be the definition of what is true? B) How can anything be believable in your worldview?

    FW said:
    ---
    Intellectual honesty requires the God we're discussing to square with the evidence supplied empirically. The existence of mass suffering provides strong evidence that your belief is intellectually bankrupt.
    ---

    An assertion without an argument.

    By the way, intellectual honesty would also require you to actually familiarize yourself with theodicies before dismissing them out of hand.

    I am familiar with them. You needn't wax condescending out of premature judgment of what I am and am not familiar with. Which do you prefer, and we can discuss whether or not it works to explain the existence of mass suffering, and especially animal suffering?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Peter,

    Sorry I missed a piece of the dialogue:

    FW said:
    ---
    What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good".
    ---

    So? What would be wrong with that?

    Obviously, if we accept that goodness and the causation/allowance of suffering are tied together, we have a rather insoluble difficulty. But you seem quite willing to forfeit the claim that your version/definition of "goodness" has no resemblance to that accepted by most rational creatures. Yours allows for a person to cause/allow suffering and yet still be "perfectly good"...whatever that would then mean.

    FW said:
    ---
    Then, the challenge is for you to mount a defense of said "greater good" that is actually believable
    ---

    I believe my defense.

    But you're not asking that. You're asking for me to mount a defense that is "believable to you." A) Why should what you believe be the definition of what is true? B) How can anything be believable in your worldview?


    A) Perhaps what I believe is not true. If it is, then it isn't true solely by virtue of the fact that I believe it. I am not a truth-maker.

    B) What is a worldview, and how does that bear on the question at hand?

    ReplyDelete
  30. (Paul posting as) Anonymous said...
    [4/03/2007 12:23 AM]

    I see you're getting your five minutes. The atheist pros have gone on strike, and so the replacement scab team has come in. No talent, but a lot of guts.

    Why, I was unaware I was part of a team. No one sent me a draft letter, and I haven't been to any practices.

    I hardly think it requires guts to argue with you, or with anyone else here. Only some time to waste.

    But of course this is sophomoric. Goodness is not "tied to" anti-suffering. Gartuitous suffering, but not mere suffering.

    Semantic pettiness. If suffering is not necessary, than any suffering is gratuitous.

    If so, doctors who case patients to suffer are "immoral." So, when you post, be sure to be specific and more precise in your use of terms. Anyway, that's not "the idea" I was referring to. So, do try to pay attention when you read the posts of others.

    I addressed this already above with my response to Peter. Doctors minimize suffering to the furthest extent possible, and only cause suffering to alleviate greater suffering. How does the gradual starvation of a polar bear bring about a "greater good" which cannot be accomplished without that suffering?

    I didn't say you "were Loftus." You don't reason as well. ;-)

    Given the treatment you've afforded him, I ought to take that as a compliment.

    Now *that's* some smack talk.

    And something which always distinguishes you from the other theists on this forum.

    Anyway, I'm assumning you don't have a problem with neutering animals. Lastly, I'm glad you recognize that "non-suffering doesn't = goodness." I'm glad to hear that you hold to the "greater good defense" for the justification of scrotum removal.

    Sarcasm as a substitute for refutation? Or are you sincerely agreeing with me?

    And of course as Pike pointed out, this begs the question. First, you're assuming that "this option" (the world as we know it) isn't the world where the suffering planned and allowed doesn't acheive the greater good. Second, who says that suffering isn't necessary? How much would one have to know to make that statement? Third, you're assuming that the suffering allowed is "unecessary."... Don't be a nit wit, dude.

    Let me try not to be a nit wide, dudette:

    1) I assume that whatever achievements God is going for could be gotten through a path with less suffering involved...so, yes. I do indeed presume that some suffering is pointless suffering (because either: i) there is no greater good achieved from it; ii) the greater good could've been achieved without it). That presumption is rather justified by the sorts of suffering that we observe in animals -- that they suffer from the ravages of climate, disease and predation just as we do. And that those things are not "means to some end" but instead forces of nature -- empirical and well-understood. And if you argue that these forces are tools in God's hands, I must ask you what greater good God is constructing using them? If there is a point to the starvation of polar bears, please clue me in on it. If these is a point to the starvation of 25,000 humans a day, please let me know what it is. Otherwise, I'll remain a nit wit.

    2) You've tied together questions 1-2-3. Induction and experience justifies my belief that some suffering is pointless. If you have some reason that it is necessary, the burden of proof is on you to dispel what looks like gratuitous and pointless suffering. And especially when an all-powerful being always has a means to accomplish whatever goods it has in mind without suffering.

    Fourth, you assume that "unnecessary suffering" is wrog. But, how is "unnecessary" to be understood here? For a theif to satisfy his desire for your car, it's necessary that he steal it. For someone to satisfy their desire for your wallet, it may be necessary to sock you in the head in order to take it. So, "unnecessary" *for what?* Your assumption seems to allow what theives and muggers do to be morally acceptable.

    1) This question seems rather silly coming from someone who prides themselves on the power of their reasoning. You've jumped from "an omni3 god achieving a greater good using suffering" to "a human being satisfying a desire using suffering". Quite a non sequitur. In addition, if you argue that the thief's desire is a "greater good", over and above the concept of maintaining law and order for the whole of the society, I'd ask you to justify that, and you can't. Finally, your example is a sad one: if the thief was self-sufficient, it would not have desires for things it did not possess -- God is supposed to evade this problem. If the thief had more power, it could create a wallet out of thin air, or a car, rather than stealing one out of necessity. If it was a powerful thief, it could, and if it was a good thief, it would.

    Perhaps your god has a desire to make things suffer, and that desire is "greater" than the suffering experienced? Is that where you want to take it?

    What about child molesters? Would you have them suffer? Sloppy agape. Maybe you'd make men with wings so they wouldn't fall to their death. Didn't you say that you *weren't* Loftus? What about sin? Would that be done away with too? Men could "do what seems just in their own eyes?" But that would cause suffering. Perhaps you would make men mere puppets, robots. No suffering because there is no person to suffer. Zombie world. Maybe you could make our stomachs so small we hardly needed any food. But then there goes our pleasure of being able to feast on a big fat steak, potatoes, start with a diner salad, and top it off with some Crème brûlée. Perhaps washing down each course with some fine wine. Or, maybe you'd magically make food appear, never ending. But then we'd eat so much we'd all be to fat to move or do anything. Perhaps you'd design a way around that too. I mean, try explaining this little Utopia for us in a bit more detail. And, while doing it, try and not act like a nit wit.

    Wow, all that stuff you call "nit witted" and "Loftus-like" actually sounds like your idea -- HEAVEN! :-)

    ...there is no way to have a better world than this one -- yet you don't even believe that.

    ...there is no way to have freedom without evil -- yet we both understand that the free ability to choose among breakfast cereals contradicts that statement.

    ...there is no way to have choices among only good options -- yet this is your own version of Utopia: heaven.

    "What you have to believe is that your God wants people to suffer, or that your God has to allow it for some "greater good".

    So?


    Which one do you believe -- that God has to allow it, or that God wants to allow it?

    What you have to believe is that doctors who do a Triple Bypass *want* people to suffer. Or, sometimes doctors will try to force a heart attack. You must believe this is "for the greater good."

    Terrible reasoning Paul. If the doctors had a pill by which they could give someone health, which causes no suffering, and they had a surgery by which they could give someone health that does cause suffering, then we're not stuck in your false dilemma. God has magic pills, but he likes the feel of the knife, right?

    Seriously, are you sure you're not Loftus' little brother?

    Nor sister.

    Peter and I believe it. What, did you actually wake up this morning thinking that what you believe is the criteria for truth? You really do think you're God, don't you?

    It seems that you've only repeated what Peter said, and yet, just like him, still you make very little sense. How is it believable that "goodness = choosing the knife over the magic pills"? To a rational person, it isn't.

    Perhaps you've been asleep at the wheel of your Christian studies. God isn't "backed into a corner." He actually planned and foreordained the suffering we see. It's not an afterthought. It's part of the plan. Sorry that you went to a church that told you, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

    Interesting. I guess your idea of what "good" means is a little different than the rest of reality's, then, isn't it? I thought "good" and "wonderful plan" went together pretty much synonymously. Even your dusty old tome implies that your suffering is for the "wonderful plan" of making you a better person (chastisement, Job:5:17-18, Heb.12:5-11, James:1:12, Prov.3:11, Is.30:26, 1Sam.2:6, Hos.6:1) So again, how God is a "better" doctor by cutting on you and causing you suffering than by giving you magic pills, we've still yet to see.

    No one denied "the existence of mass suffering."

    But, what's there to "square?"

    The existence of suffering, on your view, is simply a product of folk psychology. The weaker die, and the stonger live. That's it.


    First, we're discussing how your version of "omni3 God" makes sense in light of suffering, not my view of how suffering in our universe has its explanation. It seems for all your big strong alpha male talk about my "nit wittedness", you completely miss that point -- I'm asking you to square your beliefs...Second, the conscious experience of pain, which isn't "folk psychology" and has absolutely nothing to do with survival of the fittest, is suffering. Survival of the fittest is an explanation of how traits that are beneficial are passed on, not why we suffer.

    To the extent that you're and ethical realist, you need to be a theological realist.

    Okay...? And how do you see that I am not one?

    And, sorry to inform you, but ethics aren't products of empirical observations. Descriptions don't = prescriptions.

    I never said they did. Are you enjoying your shadowboxing session?

    BTW, you just tried to make that very equivocation by implying that a description of how evolution operates = how our world ought to be.

    You see two humans having sex. You don't infer that "rape" is immoral from a mere observation.

    I agree. And...? This has bearing on this discussion how...?

    We first have to define moral values to see why they underwrite our moral claims. Here we would want to discuss the value of self-ownership and how it is a greater good to exist in a non-violent society in which we have property rights and can much more easily share wealth and health and happiness than to go back to the law of the jungle. The sum of a society's health/wealth/happiness is, by definition and default, greater than that of one person, and so if you are saying that it is good for the thief to pursue the fulfillment of these things, then you are tacitly contradicting yourself; in that it is better for him not to, since this serves the greater good.

    Not that this applies to your god and Its morality, of course, because you don't have self-ownership, or property rights. Or rights to anything, really. And it seems that your parallel may be to your god's ability to do whatever it pleases...and yet still deserve to be called "good" as if it means something.

    Are you saying that this is a good parallel to my observation (and experience) that animals (and humans) suffer?

    Or, you see a man cut a man with a knife. One is a doctor, one is a murderer. Mere observational data doesn't get you to the conclusion that one is "immoral." Just seeing a guy put a knife in someone doesn't = the conclusion that one is "unjustified taking of life." So, try to not be a nullifidian nit wit.

    Yet again, I'm scratching my head and wondering how this follows from anything I said. Have you been watching the 3 stooges a lot lately, and you're projecting nit-wittedness onto everyone?

    Oh, I see, you can come in here mocking Frank Walton, refer to God as a "sky daddy," but when your wittle ego is attacked you have an emotional breakdown. Please. get over yourself. Grow a pair.

    The mocking started long before I got here, mostly directed towards Loftus.

    I am not suffering a breakdown of any sort, although I have lost a little more of my optimism for mankind's future in the midst of this conversation. Besides, I told you to carry on with your taunts, since your snideness is inversely related to your skills in argumentation.

    I have a pair -- whether they are ovaries or testes is a question which you seem not to bother worrying about. I suppose the "manlier" I am, the stronger the force of my arguments?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Interlocutor,

    So, you were calling yourself by a different name. If I am Paul Manata, atheists chastise me for doing that. I'm glad you aree that they are nit wits. Or, I may not be Paul Manata. From what I've seen, it doesn't matter. People form their own beliefs, regardless of all the affirmings or denials. Anyway...

    "Semantic pettiness. If suffering is not necessary, than any suffering is gratuitous."

    Not semantic pettiness. Makes the distinction that "no suffering" doesn't = "all's good."

    "I addressed this already above with my response to Peter. Doctors minimize suffering to the furthest extent possible, and only cause suffering to alleviate greater suffering. How does the gradual starvation of a polar bear bring about a "greater good" which cannot be accomplished without that suffering?"

    Let me see, your argument is: "Since I (Interlocutor) don't know how, or anonymous can't explain how, a Polar Bear starving to death brings about a greater good, then it doesn't." Have I got that about right?

    Furthermore, why assume this is "immoral?" Why is a Polar Bear starving to death somehow an immoral act on God's part? Why should God stop that? I mean, I'm sure the Polar Bears appreciate you sticking up for them 'n all. Save the whales, huh? Don;t shave your armints kind of girl. Well, that's cool, I guess. We always need more cynics.

    "Sarcasm as a substitute for refutation? Or are you sincerely agreeing with me?"

    No, you agreed with me. Suffering is not evil if it is for the greater good. So, if you make the assertion that the suffering in this world were gratuitous if God were to exist, then you need to back up your claim. So far it sounds like you just *assume* that the things we see are just unnecessary. But, I've seen no reason to agree with you.

    "I assume that whatever achievements God is going for could be gotten through a path with less suffering involved...so, yes. I do indeed presume that some suffering is pointless suffering (because either: i) there is no greater good achieved from it; ii) the greater good could've been achieved without it)."

    So your big argument is an argumentum ad ignorantium? Anyway, feel free to actually *argue* for your assumptions. I mean, here's my response (and don't complain since it's at your level): The suffering God allows is not pointless, yes, I assume that. I do presume that because (i) there is a greater good acheived from it, (ii) the greater good could not have been acheived without it.

    Hey, I like arguing like an atheist. Makes things all the more simpler. Call it, Occam's razor applied to argumentation.

    "That presumption is rather justified by the sorts of suffering that we observe in animals -- that they suffer from the ravages of climate, disease and predation just as we do."

    (a) Who said animal suffering is immoral? (b) If it is, the suffering is justified since it glorifies God in a cross-attributinal way, i.e., His judgments on sin.

    "And if you argue that these forces are tools in God's hands, I must ask you what greater good God is constructing using them? If there is a point to the starvation of polar bears, please clue me in on it."

    Again, tell us you haven't rested your hopes on an argumentum ad ignorantium.

    "You've tied together questions 1-2-3. Induction and experience justifies my belief that some suffering is pointless."

    Mere assertion without an argument. I'd like to see the induction that allows you to conclude: "There is *no* point to some of the suffering I see."

    "If you have some reason that it is necessary, the burden of proof is on you to dispel what looks like gratuitous and pointless suffering."

    Yoiu haven't given me anything that "looks like" gratuitous and pointless suffering. So, I don't accept that there is, and so I see no burden. I haven't accepted beliefs which would give a defeater when conjoined, and so have no need to "justify" anything. But, anytime you want to drop an argument....


    Regarding your comeback to my questions about how "unnecessary harm" is a standard for morality, I asked for you to explain "unnecessary for what." My analogies served to make this point. It wasn't to justify God, but to undermine your conception of morality.

    "Wow, all that stuff you call "nit witted" and "Loftus-like" actually sounds like your idea -- HEAVEN! :-)"

    Wow, you totally ignored my argument. You were the "big talker" about how "good" your world would be. And then when I asked you to break it down, you turn and run, shooting behind your head, hoping a bullet would graze me.

    And, that's not *my* idea of heaven. So, feel free to beat up on straw men, rather than real men. Perhaps that's why they don't allow women to play football and box with the boys?

    "...there is no way to have a better world than this one -- yet you don't even believe that."

    Of course I never said the above. Anyway, God determines "better." You think heaven is "better" because "man" is not afflicted with suffering. Actually, on your atheist assumption, you would *hate* a orthodox version of ehaven. It's not all wings and harp strings, nit wit. And, yes, heaven will be better that earth, but God thought it the best to cricify his son, save some sinners by grace, and display his justice and wrath by puring it out on sinners, then just make a bunch of people already with natures unable to sin. It's all about God, not us. But, your autonomous mindset just can't Himself to the utmost. He does things "for His namesake." He glorifies Himself cross-attributinally. Not just in his love, but in his wrath and justice. God could *most* show his love for his elect by alowing them to be wretched sinners, who hated him, then he dies *for those* who hate him, because he loved them first. Furthermore, not having any unrepentant sinners, and thus no hell, would leave some of God's attributes un exemplified in a maximal way.

    "...there is no way to have freedom without evil -- yet we both understand that the free ability to choose among breakfast cereals contradicts that statement."

    Huh? I don't invoke Plantinga's theodicy here. Bark up another tree.

    "...there is no way to have choices among only good options -- yet this is your own version of Utopia: heaven."

    Again, this isn't my view.

    "Which one do you believe -- that God has to allow it, or that God wants to allow it?"

    Given the decree, God has to allow it. Given his two wills, he wants to allow it and doesn't want to allow it.

    "Terrible reasoning Paul. If the doctors had a pill by which they could give someone health, which causes no suffering, and they had a surgery by which they could give someone health that does cause suffering, then we're not stuck in your false dilemma. God has magic pills, but he likes the feel of the knife, right?"

    Terrible reasoning Helga. God has no magic pills. You keep assuming that God could have acheived the *same* end, but in a radically different way. But, this is what's up for dispute. I mean, apparently you think that the mere announcing of the claim that "God didn't need to cause all this unnecessary suffering" somehow magically makes it true that there is gratuitous suffering or that God is not omni-something-or-other. So, it is Helga who believes in magic, not me, whoever I be.

    "Interesting. I guess your idea of what "good" means is a little different than the rest of reality's, then, isn't it? I thought "good" and "wonderful plan" went together pretty much synonymously. Even your dusty old tome implies that your suffering is for the "wonderful plan" of making you a better person (chastisement, Job:5:17-18, Heb.12:5-11, James:1:12, Prov.3:11, Is.30:26, 1Sam.2:6, Hos.6:1) So again, how God is a "better" doctor by cutting on you and causing you suffering than by giving you magic pills, we've still yet to see."

    But you see, Helga, the proper distinction is between 'good' as defiend 'theocentrically' on the one hand and 'anthropocentrically' on the other. Many answers to your questions could be given. Regards the last part, a few may be that God uses evil to test his servants (cf. 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:3), to discipline them (Hebrews 12:7-11), to preserve their life (Genesis 50:20), to enable them to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), and to give them greater joy when suffering is replaced by glory (1 Peter 4:13).

    And, for some reason, Interlocutor, or, Helga, seems to think we must give an answer to "why?" First, this assumes that Helga could *understand* the answer even if it could be given to finite humans, but, second, I deny the criteria that we *must* present an answer. I’ll just say, “No we don’t need to know exactly how evil relates to God’s glory." All we need to know is that God has told us that it is indeed for His glory, God cannot lie, and so there’s a morally sufficient reason for the evil he plans and allows.” So, knowing that there’s a morally sufficient reason is all that I need to know. The fact that I don’t know all the details does not logically imply that there isn’t a morally sufficient reason for the evil around us. The simple fact that there is a morally sufficient reason is all the theist needs to avoid any charge of internal incoherence, and since the problem of evil is an internal critique, all that’s needed to avoid it is to show that there’s an internal answer, internal coherence. The fact that I don’t know exactly what that is, does not strike me as problematic. Stated another way, I’m saying the knowledge we do have is enough. God tells me that he has a morally sufficient reason and, trusting His word, I find that acceptable.

    "First, we're discussing how your version of "omni3 God" makes sense in light of suffering, not my view of how suffering in our universe has its explanation."

    But most of that stuff you bring up I don't consider "immoral suffering." So, since *my* view isn;t bothered, I thought we were talking about yours, and I thank you for pointing out that you have no standard by which to call starving Polar Bears' starvation "immoral." And, since I don't have a problem, there's no problem. Thanks for clearing that up, Helga.

    "It seems for all your big strong alpha male talk about my "nit wittedness", you completely miss that point -- I'm asking you to square your beliefs..."

    Apparently you've been asleep at the wheels of your studies on defeaters. Read your Bergmann et al. I don't see that I have anything to square, thus I have no defeater for my beliefs, therefore I don't need to offer a defeater-defeater.

    "Second, the conscious experience of pain, which isn't "folk psychology" and has absolutely nothing to do with survival of the fittest, is suffering. Survival of the fittest is an explanation of how traits that are beneficial are passed on, not why we suffer."

    Well, if you view this qualia as subjective, then, yes, it is folk psychology. And, why think we're conscious in any interesting way? And, survival of the fittest also tells us that the weak don't pass their genes on. If a Polar Bear starves, oh well. Maybe the stonger one, in this case the one who wasn't so big and could fit into the ice caves to get the seals, will pass on their genes, thus doing away, over thousands and thousands of years, with the bigger ones. Does Mommy Nature really care if they starved? Does Mommy Nature really care if you starve?

    "Okay...? And how do you see that I am not one?"

    Not one what? A theological or an ethical realist?

    Lastly, regarding your final portion, I must have misunderstood you. It seemed that you said that the immorality of suffering was obtained "empirically." Anyway, I'm glad you've noted that a mere look and see at the world doesn;t tell us that there is "unnecessary suffering." But, of course, this refutes your arguments from induction and experience. So, thanks!

    "Besides, I told you to carry on with your taunts, since your snideness is inversely related to your skills in argumentation."

    What, like wou mocking Frank Walton and mocking my God, who saved me, by calling Him sky daddy? Look, I'm sorry that someone led you to believe that women get special treatment here. You mock, I mock, I just do it better.

    "I have a pair -- whether they are ovaries or testes is a question which you seem not to bother worrying about. I suppose the "manlier" I am, the stronger the force of my arguments?"

    I didn't worry about it because I used what's called a "figure of speach." Sorry that you're to rigid and Victorian to get that.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Distinguished4/03/2007 2:37 PM

    "And something which always distinguishes you from the other theists on this forum."

    Unfortunatley, your rudeness, arrogance, and play ground pejoratives do not distinguish you from other atheists on this forum.

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  33. FDR said:
    ---
    Now you have implied that suffering is necessary, since you seem to tacitly admit that God cannot create without it.
    ---

    Of course I admitted no such thing. What I pointed out is that your question is irrelevant in the first place. In order to ask your question, you have to presuppose a bunch of philosophical concepts.

    Now what I will say, and this requires no "tacit admission" at all, is that in order for God to create this world, pain was inevitable.

    FDR said:
    ---
    Okay, let me ask you in a very simple and straightforward way -- do you think that allowing or causing suffering, when said suffering may be avoided or uncaused, is morally good? Morally bad? Amoral?
    ---

    Suffering qua suffering is amoral. Even you recognize this, as you must qualify it with "unavoidable" or "uncaused" suffering. The problem is, there is no "uncaused" suffering, and deciding if something is "unavoidable" depends on the goal.

    You said:
    ---
    Do you think that the moral status depends upon the person allowing/causing it?
    ---

    It is not dependent upon the person; it is dependent upon motive. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly already. A doctor causing a patient pain is different than the same doctor torturing his wife for fun. Thus, it is not the person, but the reason that dictates morality.

    And again, in an atheist worldview "morality" is a meaningless concept.

    FDR said:
    ---
    Your example is a poor one (as you point out in your next sentence) in that some pain is good in order to avoid worse damage to ourselves.
    ---

    Actually it's not a poor one; I happen to know a diabetic woman who had this happen to her. She only realized the original injury when a chunk of her foot decayed and fell off. So, far from being a "poor example" this example is both real and relevant.

    FDR said:
    ---
    But that doesn't solve the dilemma before us, because the context before us is one in which there is no need to employ pain to serve a greater good (avoiding damage to bodies, etc.).
    ---

    Which again begs the question. How do you know there is no need unless you know the purpose for it in the first place? Perhaps you are arguing that we cannot know what God's purpose is; but that is a far cry from saying God has no purpose. This would simply be an argument from ignorance.

    Indeed, for you to refute the argument, you must demonstrate that God's purpose in allowing evil is itself evil. The only way you can do this (since you have no basis for evil within your own worldview) is to show an internal inconsistency in Christianity, which you have yet to do. Instead, you constantly beg the question on morality, never define the terms, and assume that we can "play ball" in such an unorganized "sport."

    FDR said:
    ---
    In heaven, you believe that we do not possess bodies that can be hurt, and/or that the world that is heaven contains no ways to hurt those bodies.
    ---
    You seem to be getting your idea of heaven from fluffy-feeling Sunday School classes. I've never said (nor do I believe) that in heaven there will be no pain.

    If you stub your toe in heaven, it'll hurt. It'll probably be different from pain now, true; but it'll still be pain. God designed the human body in this way. We have limits to what we can do, and pain functions as a warning system to tell us not to push it too far. This functions a good and perfect purpose as it is.

    What will be different is we won't have pain from the effects of the fall (e.g. "aging pains, pain from illnesses running rampant, etc."). Even in the Garden of Eden there was pain. This is why the curse Eve received was an increase in pain, not a manufacturing of pain.

    FDR said:
    ---
    If a better world can/does exist, yet your putative God puts us in a worse/lower world, in which we are surrounded by examples of pointless/needless pain and suffering (animal and otherwise), it seems to present evidence against either the goodness of said God or Its power.
    ---

    Which again begs the question that such pain IS pointless or needless. You're really good at begging the question, FDR; not so much at reasoning though.

    FDR said:
    ---
    It seems that once again, we have the false dichotomy: a world cannot exist without pain and suffering, the only alternative is no world at all.
    ---

    You need to learn how to follow an argument. I proposed the example as a counter argument to your own position, not to posit it as mine. You harp on the existence of pain, yet the fact that you know how to end pain (death) does not motivate you to kill, thus demonstrating that the absense of pain is not the most important concept. That's all the argument served to prove, and it did so perfectly. I was not offering a dichotomy here; merely demonstrating your inconsistency.

    FDR said:
    ---
    This golden rule is obviously a common ground/basis for morality between Christian and atheist, is it not?
    ---

    No, because the atheist has no reason to follow the Golden Rule. It is alien to his worldview.

    FDR said:
    ---
    We all agree with the following: Suffering is not good.
    ---

    Yet I have already stated that suffering is amoral.

    FDR said:
    ---
    You want to believe that you own morality, or a rational basis for it, when the above points are values that we all share.
    ---

    But you have no reason, within your worldview, to hold to any moral point. It doesn't matter that you hold to a morality of sorts; it matters why you hold to it. And you cannot answer that question, and as such your morality has no "teeth" to it. There is no reason that anyone should accept your morality.

    FDR said:
    ---
    But the point you're missing is that it need not be that way. Not for God.
    ---

    And the point that you're missing is: YOU DO NOT KNOW THAT IT NEED NOT BE THIS WAY.

    FDR said:
    ---
    And the question we would have to ask, given verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that more will be lost than saved, is how this is rationally called "good" on God's part. How it is somehow more good of God to allow countless millions to be born (or actively bring them into existence) who face an eternal damnation than not allowing them to be brought into existence (bringing them about) at all?
    ---

    How is it wrong of God to send anyone to hell? How is it worse for God to not demonstrate His justice? How is it evil for people to get what they want (for they want separation from God, and that is what they get)?

    FDR said:
    ---
    How can non-existence be worse than an existence in eternal suffering?
    ---

    For the same reason that non-existence is worse than temporal suffering.

    FDR said:
    ---
    And this is the bottom line of begging the question -- why believe that this is God's design and purpose for our world?
    ---

    Because of the impossibility of the contrary.... :-P

    ReplyDelete
  34. One wonders if Interlocutor is a vegan. Surely all the suffering we cause animals is unnecessary. Is it really necessary that nhumans consume billions of chickens a year? This suffering *coule be* avoided, and one doesn't even need "magic pills." We could all become vegans. It is not *necessary* for us to survive that we eat meat--countless vegans prove otherwise.

    So, apparently, Interlocutor, if not a vegan, doesn't have a problem with animals undergoing unnecessary suffering. But, s/he likewise *does* have a problem when God, allegedly, causes animals to endure unnecessary suffering. Ah, secular consistency. Hold others accountable to standards you yourself are not willing to live up to.

    Furthermore, men like Peter Singer have argued that what is required to feed and keep the animals we eat alive is not as good of a world where we all become vegans. We waste grain and water developing body parts that will be thrown away (like the thigh bone). He argues that the world would be better if we were all vegans. How can Interlocutor argue against all of this?

    What about animal testing? Many a case has been made that much animal testing, though certainly not all, is necessary for medical advancement. But, Singer asks why we don't through severly retarded humans into the labs. Say, ones that have been neglected and have no family to speak of. Singer makes a compelling case, according to this logic, that letting say, a fully functioning chimp get tested causes more suffering than would testing performed on a severely retarded human. Since Interlocutor can't deny "science" and claim that the testing is unnecessary and/or that it isn't for the greater good of us humans, does he agree with Singer that we might as well, to be consistent, test on mentally retared people.

    There you have it folks. Theism = Filet's from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Atheism = tofu for everyone! You pick.

    ReplyDelete
  35. If an Interlocutor is going to mount a version of the argument from evil based on animal suffering, one of the preliminary duties he needs to discharge is to establish that the animal was "wronged" by what it suffered. And this would seem to assume that animals like polar bears are moral agents.

    But, ordinarily, the naturalist will treat an animal is amoral. Wolves can't be cruel. That's imputing human motives to a brute beast.

    Do amoral creatures have rights? Are amoral creatures entitled to a certain level of treatment? Do they have just claims? Is animal suffering the same thing as a miscarriage of justice? If not, where's the wrong it in? If there's no wrong, where's the argument from evil?

    The Interlocutor is raising warmed over objections that have been repeatedly addressed by various T-bloggers before.

    The constant repair to animal suffering is a mark of the decadent class. Reminds me of parents who refused to evacuate their kids before Katrina struck because they'd have to leave the dog behind. No moral priorities.

    And, of course, he ducks the challenge of defending his own value system. He also disregards the material I posed this morning by Adams.

    A sorry performance on all counts.

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  36. thelastgreatape4/03/2007 10:26 PM

    Peter,

    Rev 21 (NIV)
    1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

    ReplyDelete
  37. thesecondtolastgreatape4/03/2007 10:30 PM

    anonymous/Paul,

    Whether or not Helga/Frankiepoo is a vegan bears no relevance to whether or not it is morally better to be a vegan, in the same sense that you apply your standards of morality against others, no matter how miserably you personally fail to live up to them.

    I agree with Singer on a lot of things. Not everything. It is better from economic and moral standpoints, but it is also something each person has to choose for themselves. As Homer Simpson famously said, God wouldn't have made meat taste so good if we weren't supposed to eat it.

    Atheism = this one world, make the best of it for all. Theism = doesn't matter how we treat the environment or animals, no moral obligations to them, no environmental responsibility, since God can make a new world the second time!

    ReplyDelete
  38. dispatched4interlocuter4/03/2007 10:32 PM

    Steve is not usually so slow. It seems that interlocuter responds to more than a few of the points you redundantly ask.

    God obviously has no moral obligations in your worldview, since your moral system is bankrupt. God can make and do whatever, and "it is all good". Beautiful system, really. I almost envy your ability to abandon reality in that way.

    ReplyDelete
  39. thesecondtolastgreatape said...,

    "Whether or not Helga/Frankiepoo is a vegan bears no relevance to whether or not it is morally better to be a vegan, in the same sense that you apply your standards of morality against others, no matter how miserably you personally fail to live up to them. "

    Didn't say Helga's *being* a vegan affected the *logical consistency* of Helga's *assenting* to veganism.

    The point was, killing animals for food creates *unecessary* suffering since Helga could get along just fine without eating Bambi or Wilber.

    The point was, if Helga, or any proponent of the argument, *does not* think that causing suffering of animals in an unecessary way is morally wrong, then you can't blame God for it. Furthermore, if it's an internal critique, the objector of theism must actually *show* the inconsistency, not claim it.

    And where have "I" applied "my" standards of morality on anyone? I apply God's. And, I fail to live up to them just as bad, or worse, then any one else. I'm the first to admit that. So, your point was?

    "I agree with Singer on a lot of things. Not everything. It is better from economic and moral standpoints, but it is also something each person has to choose for themselves. As Homer Simpson famously said, God wouldn't have made meat taste so good if we weren't supposed to eat it."

    Morality isn't something you can "chose for yourself." Interlocutor has denied ethical anti-realism. So, your argument doesn't work in his stead. And, for you: You have no problem of evil argument to offer against me. As an ethical anti-realist, from your standpoint, no one can be right or wrongabout ethical matters; they can just disagree with your preferences. And, if you admit this, and opt for an internal critique, well, we've been waiting for one of those that lands against Calvinism for centuries now.

    "Atheism = this one world, make the best of it for all."

    Sorry, that's just your *opinion.* And, who decides what is "best?" You, Hitler? Pedaphiles? Best is relative. best *for who?* The best world for the gang bangers isn't the best world for the suburban housewife.

    "Theism = doesn't matter how we treat the environment or animals, no moral obligations to them, no environmental responsibility, since God can make a new world the second time!"

    That's not the case at all. We have been given finite lordship over the environment. Moral obligations are towards *persons,* anyway. So, I have a moral obligation before the person of God in how I treat the creation.

    Anyway, maybe you think "loving Mother Earth" is "best for all," but, that's not "best for all" as far as the oil tycoons are concerned. How about the "Whalers?" How about those who mine diamonds on the backs of African slaves? They don't think your world is "best." And, guess what, as an ethical anti-realist, that's all you have--mere opinion.

    cheers!,

    Anonymous the III

    ReplyDelete
  40. Eleanor Roosevelt4/04/2007 7:36 AM

    FDR said:
    ---
    This golden rule is obviously a common ground/basis for morality between Christian and atheist, is it not?
    ---
    Peter said:

    No, because the atheist has no reason to follow the Golden Rule. It is alien to his worldview.


    What an odd thing to say. My self-interest to be treated fairly would obviously motivate me to follow and implement this rule of morality. The law of symmetry / prisoner's dilemma applies to morality very well: moral systems cannot be one-way streets, and just cooperation (symmetric treatment) is integral.

    It makes perfect sense to me.

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  41. Thelastgreatape quoted Rev 21.

    Nothing quite like using a passage full of stock metaphorical imagery as if it were a literal representation.

    ReplyDelete