Why is God good?

I have heard many times from apologists and blogosphere theologians that God must be good. I am then given some variety of bad reasoning: circular arguments about God’s nature being good because goodness is defined by God’s nature, brute force arguments about God being either “Perfect” or the Creator and this is therefore just the case, the argument that human-defined morality simply isn’t binding or good enough―as if nature owes them a morality they are comfortable with, or the argument that one has felt that God is loving―although that argument tends not to vindicate domestic abusers.

I want to attempt to get under the brute force argument. The argument is that God is perfect and therefore God is morally good, because moral goodness is a set that falls under all-round perfection. The Creator argument is that God created all things and therefore must have also created all morality. But both argument fall prey to simple switch: replace good with bad and the arguments are just as strong.

God could be morally evil, and moral evil could be the subset of all-round goodness. I know that sounds absurd to us and makes me appear like some moral monster. But the intuitive sensation we get that “perfect” entails “moral goodness” we get from standing with an approximate understanding of what we mean by moral goodness. We have the intuitive sense that moral goodness has something to do with compassion, affection and avoiding harm and that these fill the set of perfection. This is more apparently true when one realises that the contrary seems more evidently true: hate, disdain and the encouragement of harm are blemishes on attempts on perfection. We use “perfect” and “extremely good” as near-synonyms, and morality is just one branch of general goodness and therefore perfection. Anything that is all-round perfect must be morally perfect, which would be the same as morally good.

But that is our intuitive sense, and its applicability dissolves when we are looking at the cause of such a relationship. Once we admit to the relationship between goodness and perfection being our subjective choice and that there is no brute reason for this relationship, the question becomes valid: assuming God’s perfection, why can moral evil not be the fundamental element God fulfils?

The easy answer is that evil is the absence of goodness, that God fulfils the positive quality and absence is the contrasting quality. God is good; absence of goodness is evil. But this simply isn’t true. Evil is more than the absence of goodness, and goodness is more than the absence of evil. Imagine a world of just rocks. There is no “moral goodness” in this world, there are only rocks; but there is no moral evil either. Although goodness and evil may readily be identified by their contrast to each other and so be mutually exclusive of each other, neither is merely the absence of the other. The question remains: why does God’s perfection not consist of moral evil instead of moral goodness?

A similar rebuttal exists when claiming that God is the Creator of all things. The claim is that God is the creator of all things and that morality is a thing, therefore God created morality. Moral goodness is also a thing, so God created moral goodness and God must be perfectly morally good to have created moral goodness. This begs the question, of course: the argument assumes that morality “exists”, which is a rather trite conclusion which can only really be reached after a discussion about both existence and morality. (And to not be entirely circular, those discussions can’t rely on God’s authority.) There are several other rebuttals, like making assumptions about an author based in its works: computers are entirely obedient and rational entities; their creators are not entirely rational and obedient.

But, I want to come back to this idea of evil being the absence of goodness. The argument makes the implicit assumption that moral evil is not a thing; that evil doesn’t exist. If evil did exist, then God would also be the author of that and then somehow God would be both perfectly evil and perfectly good. The argument becomes that evil doesn’t exist, but is the quality we label actions that are devoid of God’s goodness. (The argument then absolves God of any guilt by saying that freewill is good, even though freewill is the sole creator of evil.) But, again, evil is more than the absence of good. When a good person dies of natural causes, and thus their goodness disappears with it, they do not leave evil. Equally, when an evil person died, goodness does not suddenly flood their corpse. Inaction has no goodness in it, but it is not evil; it is entirely dispassionate. Throwing knives in a maternity ward is evil, but that is an action.

Thus, if goodness exists then we have agreed on a definition of existence that means evil also exists (one is not simply the negation of the other). If existing means that God authored it, then God authored both evil and goodness. If one tries to argue that God created goodness and humans created evil through their freewill, one has no recourse to defend against exactly the game we are playing in this post: What if We Swap them? What if God created evil and people created goodness through their freewill? After all, it makes more sense that we would want to live in a world of goodness than of evil; we have more reason to create goodness than to create evil.

Not that authorship matters to this question, because authorship doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the author.

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210 thoughts on “Why is God good?”

  1. Even though the Book of Genesis states that Yahweh created Adam because He needed a gardener, all of the subsequent scripture boils down to two things: we are to love one another and love Him. To create an entire race of intelligent beings to “love one another” might be a recipe for increasing the amount of love in the universe, but I have to ask “How is that experiment going?” (Answer: not particularly well.) So, the other prong in this justification of our existence, is that we were created to “love god” specifically through “worship.”

    So, what do you think of a very powerful creative force that creates beings to worship him? That is about as psychologically sick as one can get.

    So, if you accept their “story” you get not a source of moral goodness but a poor experimenter who is psychologically needy to the point of insanity. Sumpin’ doesn’t add up and those folks don’t see it.

  2. to the author …

    we don’t know what god is. the speculation that god is good or goodness is an anthropomorphic and logical one.

    if we posit for a second that there is a transcendent, volitional eternality that is capable of achieving any ends (short-hand that, “god”), then we necessarily want to think that god is perfectly rational, and so, will not do anything whimsically; because to act at all is purposeful and god would literally have the best reasons to act toward his will. this is why folks suggest an inviolable “plan”.

    next, we’d simply wonder about what exists and naturally think of goodness in that we exist, and in a creation that gives us numinous sensibility and responses. again, this and all other experiences in the universe are exactly intended.

    the anthropomorphic aspect comes from what augustine, aquinas, or even donte suggest in being drawn to “the good” (aesthetics, existential “wanting truth” to connect with reality and uncover the depths of humanity [both epistemologically and in a moral sense], etc.)

    here, to say god is goodness, rather than just good, we ask ourselves about what we’re like; to think of ourselves as good or as bad and then compare which seems to fit the experience of living. of course it’s a guess and no one knows, but it seems more fitting to say god is good because of creation rather than bad or evil. saying god is goodness then, simply means that he represents the maximal good that can be accomplished in any circumstance.

    getting more theological about it, if we take the one thing as true (that a god exists), is this reasonable and then to ask if why we exist as we do so that we can apprehend and become that goodness if it is true we are icons of god.

    hope that makes sense.

    1. Steve, had you stopped at

      we don’t know what god is. the speculation that god is good or goodness is an anthropomorphic and logical one.

      you would have done well for this discussion. All I would have added is to say that because what god is isn’t known to us, there is no point in talking about it

        1. reason and experience is all i can think of. i think we can speculate about god acting to create, but not really anything else, ie acting in response to prayer, or providence, etc..

          people either have an impression something like a god exists or they don’t. we talk about to make sense of it. the talk is what’s meaningful, not whether there actually is a god or not. we can’t know if there is. that’s how i see it.

        2. What reason have we to speculate a god created something when to create, out of nothing as gob believers insist, is something we have no experience of, to mould maybe.
          So you are suggesting to talk about gods as if they existed is what is meaningful? Or did I misunderstand?

        3. that’s not what creatio ex nihilo is about. that’s a theological statement; that unlike man who creates from things already existing, god is supreme. the causal statement is creatio ex se. god creates all things from himself. nicholas of cuza through spinoza and robinson and tillich articulate the difference.

          the fully developed idea of divine pedagogy, fitrah, and natural theory (judaism, islam, christianity respectively) suugest things like the numinous in our experience is why the idea of gods immerged. from there, the task is to reason out the implications if gods do exist. faith then is not in blindly “believing” gods exist; you either have that impression or you don’t. faith is taking your ideas and putting them into practice and it should lead to “the good” or be refined until one is both doing the good and experiencing it; which is objectifiable and not just a subjective affair.

          yes, you understand me. we can’t know if there are gods. we can know what we believe and practice is good to believe. so, the existence of the gods really doesn’t matter at all in any practical sense.

          better?

        4. When you say it is a theological statement, isn’t theo about gods and their supposed actions?
          The god of the philosophers or commonly referred to as spinoza’s god is a philosophical mush up by people who can no longer accept the gods of revealed religion but haven’t freed themselves from the hod belief. And I think to take this philosophies as the starting point to understanding gods is to start the investigation from a wrong place.
          You and I agree that the existence of gods is irrelevant in any practical sense.
          Have a good Sunday

  3. It is rather a silly question. We are not gods, we have little valid concept of the environment in which gods function, we have limited, if any, knowledge of what the “rules” are for gods. Thus, for us to make decisions about “good” from a god perspective is really a waste of our time and energy, no?

    Now we are better equipped to consider “good” from a human perspective. Yes, from our perspective, some “good” things and some “bad” things happen, and if we accept the premise that God is “responsible” for these things, either causing them directly or allowing them to happen despite the ability to prevent them, then it is really easy and attractive to say that God is “good” or “bad” or just “doesn’t care”. The problem is, as pointed out, we do not have the credentials to judge in God’s court.

    As an example, image a baby at the moment of it’s birth, who is slapped on the rear by a doctor. Now, that baby would probably insist that being slapped on the rear is “evil”, and let us not even contemplate how “evil” the very birth was. At some point in time, that baby will come to agree that being born was NOT evil, and being slapped so that he or she would not die of asphyxiation was not evil.

    It is all a matter of understanding; only when we have “all the facts” can we make valid judgements about anything. Since we don’t have “all” the facts about God, or even many of the facts, making judgements is not within our capability.

    Imagine a jury trial. For each testimony, only one juror was brought in, and only after the witness may or may not have been sworn in. At the end, no juror would have the whole story, and even the parts that they did have would be of questionable validity. .

      1. The point of “religion” is an attempt to “understand” God to the limit we are capable of, and because there is little factual or logical basis for this understanding, our odds of getting it at least partly wrong is very high.

        The point of God depends on His observation of us. If He is “dead” or ignores us, then there hardly seems to be any point. If He pays attention to us; then it would seem to be wise for us to attempt to understand what He wants of us and to follow that as closely as we are able. Unfortunately, this goes back to our inability to reliably understand Him.

        1. equippedcat

          it would seem to be wise for us to attempt to understand what He wants of us and to follow that as closely as we are able.

          That task would be served is that god then made itself known. That is not the case. God is hidden. We must then ask, why would god choose to remain hidden? What advantage is their for him to be anonymous? An evil god is the best and only rational answer to this question.

        2. john, it seems the most reasonable thing to respond with is taking it that who we are and how we are is desired, unless god is whimsical.

          if god transcends and is then ineffable, we should look at the philosophical principle of “place”; that even our most obscure abstractions are “from” reality, meaning tied to history, culture, needs, the concrete experience of reality itself. if we find the principle interesting, then the answer seems fairly clear.

          if there exists a hidden god who created a universe which necessarily gives us the idea such a being exists, through the numinous, etc., then all we can do is utter anthropomorphic ideas about god … the conclusion is simply then that our images of the gods push us into the deepest understandings we can have of ourselves. theologically consistent in the idea of “atonement” because we imagine we in some way are “like” god in nature.

          that’s not so say something exclusive about religion and human self-realization. it is to say that no matter how one leaves the question “does god exist”, be that theist or atheist, we accept something about ourselves or reject something we think unfitting of ourselves to believe.

          each, in that case, has better understood who they are because it mattered enough to take the question seriously, and accept or reject it because our response matters in some fundamental way.

          being a more liberal theologically, i’d say the most omnipotent god is exactly the kind that presents a win for everyone regardless of their beliefs but exactly because whatever we do end up believing actually does change everything after all.

          hope that makes sense.

        3. i do, which is why i said it self-realization isn’t exclusive to religion. i done think god cares what we believe about him and really, only cares about what we think of ourselves … if there is a god.

        4. Hi Steven

          Paley quite accurately said, “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through the design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer.

          What then is Creation but a vast entanglement apparatus, a complexity machine whose single-minded mindless state of employment is geared entirely towards a greater potency and efficiency in the delivery and experience of misery and confusion, not harmony and peaceful accord. From heat and protons, to hearts, central nervous systems, minds and cluster bombs, this is Creation’s single compulsion, its one and only passion; a relentless, arguably reckless passage from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where multiplicity—and the specialisation it affords—parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss.

          The congenital functions of this universe reveal the Creator to be wicked.

        5. Steve,

          I agree with you about Paley, but it’s always amusing to use his thoughts.

          If we posit a god, and I’m not sure if you are or not, then we are talking design, we are talking teleology, and in this regard Paley is actually quite correct, although his juvenile outlook on the world poisoned his intellectual integrity. Design will reveal disposition. A teleological survey of this world reveals a hopeless dedication to increasing complexity. This is just a fact. If then we consider that complexity increases the availability and potency of suffering, then one must conclude wickedness.

        6. i what way can we say the brush stroke of a monet or of a clee reveals a disposition of monet or a clee? that from simplicity complexity comes, it doesn’t tally to any other fact of the matter but that that’s how things work.

          for me, it’s too tautologous to put a correlative mistake together to conclude wickedness. in the same form, i may say that correspondingly, with each increase in complexity, there is more opportunity for happiness and not only that but with each rise in consciousness, so too does our ability to alleviate suffering.

          my question would be about what “suffering” and “wicked” mean to you. if it’s just that “shit happens”, it’d be odd to call the phenomena of creation, the elegance of evolution, the crashing waves of the ocean evil in some way. they “just are”. suffering isn’t pain, it’s not death, isn’t hunger. suffering is the endurance of our perceptions of pain. if you mean to ask why the gods allow people to do horrible things, why are we asking god? why do you and i allow that kind of evil? who’s responsibility is it to act on another’s behalf?

          for me, the consideration is about potential worlds and the one we know. while i could easily imagine a world that was far more wretched to bear, i cannot begin to imagine a world better than the one i experience now.

          that is to say that at least in that smallest sense, the world is more good than bad.

          the test however is to say that if the goal of life existing is to emerge and become more and more self-conscious, can it be done without need, loss, grief, etc.. if so, how. i just can’t image, philosophically or psychologically, evolution being possible without some reason for change in the first place.

          consistent with my initial comment, if we say some x is intended by god, some ultimate end, then 1) god is able to obtain, 2) only entails the maxial good in any situation to obtain, 3) whatever measure of balance in the universe with respect to good and evil, it is logically impossible for x to obtain without both. that is, if there is a volitional eternality that is maximally intelligent, created all contingent realities, is maximally able to obtain his will.

          so the test would be for that logic, a simple counter-example where a non maximally intelligent and able, willful being (you and me), can imagine another world which could obtain the same results but without pain and suffering and other “shit we don’t like”.

          for me, i know that task entails me suggesting i know what god the incomprehensible had in mind when he created at all. i don’t. but i do think the logic makes sense and rather than trying to grade god on how sloppy his means (which ends don’t justify, of course), i simply accept what is and wonder how i’m supposed to relate and navigate it all.

          for you, you’d have to posit some meaning for “god” and then, reason forward from there. but, unless you can epistemologically know the goal, there’s no sense in grading for it may be there are more vile worlds we could experience and god obtains, but this may be the only one possible for god to obtain and in that case, we would have to necessarily offer that god indeed must care about suffering.

          sorry for the word wall and typos and stuff, and i hope that all makes sense.

        7. Hi Steven

          for me, it’s too tautologous to put a correlative mistake together to conclude wickedness.

          And yet, assuming you’re a theist, do exactly this, prescribing benevolence. This, of course, is despite all the teleological evidence which thoroughly contradicts every sweet-smelling theological opinion ever forwarded.

          Now, I can, if you’d like, bombard you with the evidences which support my position. I can go down to the finest, most minute detail. Let’s, however, start with the omnipresence of suffering. Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the astonishing Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness firmly asserts that the presence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering. In fact, the signatories to the declaration stressed that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish. It is clear, therefore, that suffering is very nearly omnipresent. It is built into the very nature of all things, present and acting against even the shallowest expressions of what may be considered ‘happiness’ for billions of years before the first empathic thought was ever teased loose.

          Based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance among neurologists of the Cambridge Declaration, and drawn from the conclusions of over 2,500 independent studies, Professor Marc Bekoff has since proposed an even broader declaration, a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience, where sentience—and by extension a total awareness of suffering—is defined as the “ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity.”It is a definition that would reach out to include the modest—yet phenomenal—protozoa.

          Would a benevolent designer (the Good father who is mindful of the happiness of its most cherished creations) had made this word so that protozoa can suffer? These tiny micro-factories containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of delicate molecular machinery are endowed with a primitive ability to struggle against their torture at the hands of, for instance, the parasitic Legionella pneumophila, notifying all observers that this most primitive breath of life knows it is suffering.

          Does this indicate a benevolent hand?

        8. you’re very confrontational. my views on god don’t matter as we’re simply talking about how we flesh things out.

          so, i think we agree that whether we say god is good or evil, it’s tautology, and relies solely on our existential perceptions.

          you’ve largely overlooked any point i made and don’t offer other ways to think differently about them. you’re merely insisting we interpret as you do, how we ought to perceive existence and that being not only that all life experiences pain, but that the definition of “suffering” is only about pain perception. no psychologists i know of define suffering as pain but the awareness and endurance of pain; the quality of suffering being tied to the ability to infer there are other ways to exist absent of pain. this after all, is exactly why abortions are not big issues before week 22, as there is no neo cortext making such evaluation possible though everything is in place to experience and process pain; says gynecology.

          in what sense a protozoa suffers pain in seeing the demise of its neighbor, i don’t know and surely cannot suffer this loss as it exacts no pain. but clearly the most exquisite suffering is not pain related in the least; the loss of a spouse, a child, the oppression of other people, etc.

          so while pain is of course ubiquitous, it honestly has very little to do with the kind of suffering that psychologists, philosophers, and indeed theologians and laymen in general have in mind.

          the kind of suffering you seem to be talking about is merely experiencing pain, not appreciating it qualitatively. it’s a pseudonym for pain but suffering itself occurs most deeply in complete absence of pain at all, and generally as a result of events that don’t just fail to meet our expectations but instead, crush our hopes.

          the questions i put forward, i’d really like to discuss if you take a minute to try and give alternatives to them, and if a discussion is what you really want. i have no interest in adversarial view-casting.

        9. Hi Steven

          It’s not a tautology, as I have been demonstrating to you. We are talking teleology. We are talking physical evidence, not vaporous theological opinions.

          And yes, you are correct in making a distinction between the physical suffering of pain and those deeper emotional states allied to loss. I hadn’t ventured into those realms yet. This sis the arena of quality over quantity, and it’s a further example of complexity birthing greater and greater expressions of suffering. Consider the ancient, yet modestly appointed Narcomedusae jellyfish with all of its 800 central nervous system neurons busily firing off, constantly trying to determine which way is up and what is, and what’s not, food. As wondrous as the Narcomedusae might be when compared to some inorganic amalgam of rock, it is impossible for such an elementary expression of life to conceive of the mosaic of anxieties—both real and imagined—lived by the more recently evolved field mouse with its 70 million neurons so acutely tuned to the constant needs of its warm body, and the danger which inhabits its tiny, tiny world. In a preferentially-scored portfolio of pain, the apprehensive field mouse is a far superior product than the Narcomedusae whose most complex possible torment is limited to, at best, a caustic allergy to light. Now consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later.

          You see, teleology. Facts. Not opinion.

          I’m not interested in opinion, just facts.

          Malevolence is the explanation that exists without need for an alibi, scapegoat, hastily arranged apology, or laboured advocacy. Where the theologian is forced to rescue an incompetent spirit who has, for one imaginative reason or another, lost total control of his creation, the gospel of the malevolent hand stands unchaste, uncontaminated, and inviolable. As an explanation for the world that has been, is, and will be, malevolence is complete. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a cover story or inventive pretext.

        10. john, what? in order to discuss *teleology*, one must imply *will*. all our remarks then are inferential and given god is incomprehensible, all chatter is necessarily metaphysical and hence, necessarily tautological.

          and all you do in providing facts about the world is the same thing i would, which is, infer tautologically about god.

          your interpretation of the facts and what you mean by “suffering”, i simply take as not very meaningful.

          i would say too, facts are all apparent, and like evidence, interpreted; the world does not speak for itself, as philosophers say.

          all i’m asking is whether you can assert you know the teleology of god (def. purpose) and then, can you theorize how to obtain it with another world that doesn’t entail suffering.

          as it is, it’s odd for you to think there is no god but you personify the universe by saying it has a teleology. maybe i misunderstand you there.

        11. Hi Steven

          Yes, will… the will of the Creator. You are positing a creator, aren’t you?

          And no, God is not incomprehensible. His will is revealed through the design. That, Steven, is self-evident.
          The machine has not malfunctioned.
          The program is running precisely as designed.
          Creation is unfurling exactly as desired by the Creator.
          The universe expands and evil rushes in.
          The universe expands and suffering is augmented, amplified, fine-tuned, and enhanced.
          The alternative—God is maximally good but thoroughly incompetent and has lost total control of his creation—is a proposition simply too fantastic to entertain for any period longer than the time it takes to drink half a cup of tea. God, by definition, is maximally competent. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. Evil exists because it is meant to exist. The reach and diversity of evil is growing more complex over time because the reach and diversity of evil is meant to grow more complex over time. Suffering is growing more potent and expressive over time because suffering is meant to grow more potent and expressive over time.

          all i’m asking is whether you can assert you know the teleology of god (def. purpose) and then, can you theorize how to obtain it with another world that doesn’t entail suffering.

          Now that is a great question! It begins to scratch at the genius of the design. Nature is blameless. There is no crime, and no apparent delinquency. There are no supernatural fingerprints, no unexplainable blemishes or events that break the familiar motions of cause and effect. What is, is, and for just as long as nothing can be blamed for the misery (or thanked for the successes) then there is nothing to rebel against. What, after all, is there to be prosecuted when both the innocent and the guilty suffer in equal measure? What is there to accuse of injustice when both the hunter and the hunted inhabit the same revoltingly violent, unforgiving space? Diseases do not discriminate, parasites know no bigotry, wild fires hold no opinion on what, or who, they incinerate, and a river will just as soon swallow up a fawn as it will drag down and drown the lioness chasing it. An avalanche does not single out which trees to level, what village to erase, or which body to mangle and bury. A drought disperses its ruin without care or concern for which organism in its terrible wake has been kind, or which has been unnecessarily cruel, and the steady decay of old age defiles the incorrigible and the obedient with a horrendous and dispassionate efficiency. There is no creativity in the trajectory of volcanic bombs, and life-suffocating ash plumes will move carelessly with the careless winds. Death, be it swift and charitable, or protracted and hard, belongs to all, and here the truly impartial observer is confronted by the conspicuous genius of the design:
          There is no lie.
          Here, ubiquity is the master pacifier, a potent anaesthetic and persuasive desensitiser, and through the universality of His works—where both wicked and good suffer enormously without favouritism or bias in a universe whose laws know no sympathy—the Creator has ensured the curious and the distrusting will seek out any alternative explanation for that which they do not wish to recognise, or better still, not see the depravity at all. As you can see, there is a calculating ingenuity in having men, above all other creatures, so carefully maimed, so blind, that they do not even know how to put a measure to their blindness. As you implied, we have no other world with which to compare ours.

        12. i’m not an advocate for even asking the question or deliberating for an answer to “god(s) exist.

          you may want to read norm geisler, father herbert mccabe, edward schillebeechx, hastings rashdall, thomas aquins, or a.j. ayer or george smith a bit more on the comprehensibility of the gods or a god.

          each of them agree that because what we mean by “god” has literally nothing to do with the world or particular regularities in it, we know nothing about god by pointing at a rock, say, or the fact there’s a universe at all, much less, moral or intelligent people, for instance.

          it is only that our contact with these things causes an existential perception that there’s a question we need to ask of the whole: “is there a god”.

          since they key feature of any god is transcendence, then god must be incomprehensible because we have set god outside of all experience we can know, which is the natural world.

          all these thinkers agree we cannot know god, we apprehend god and from there the believer engages faith; that god exists at all and that the ideas of god we have, may move us in some way toward “the good” and the experience of it, which again in faith, the believer names, “god”.

          outside of that, we’re all agreed (theologian, philosopher, rational thinker), “we have no concept of god” (mccabe, god matters, page 6).

        13. Hi Steven

          Why would I for one moment give credence to the thoughts of men on God? As I have been stressing to you, opinions are meaningless to me, and theological opinions doubly so. The theologian is a hopeless creature. Facts matter. Pattern matters. This is how we can know God. The great minds of Socrates, Plotinus, Aquinas, al-Ghazali, and Derham have only ever chronicled half-truths. The unguarded, naked truth is this: This world was never good. It was never peaceful, and never without suffering. At no time was there neutrality. In no era did there exist an armistice between all living and not-so living entities. Things have not gone terribly wrong, as the innocently-minded Lewis was wont to believe, rather things were never right. Not in the ways a terrestrial mind—a mind desperate for immunity from the defiled business of survival itself—could comprehend. Violence has always lorded over the All, and obscene levels of suffering, fear, anxiety, competition, sickness, destitution, scarcity, decay, ruin and deplorably protracted death have always saturated existence. It is immediate, it is inescapable, and it is everywhere.

          “we have no concept of god”

          And I say that’s complete and utter nonsense. Worse, it’s intellectual incompetence. The evidence is all around us. It saturates existence. “The principle characteristic of intelligent agency,” asserted leading design theorist, William Dembski, “is directed contingency, or what we call choice.” Choice, in its most essential presentation, is an exercise in extreme intolerance where an observable stream of positive decisions—the preferential treatment of one thematic set of solutions over another—signals the presence of intelligent agency. Here, rivulets and estuaries flowing in one direction, as opposed to some haphazard, rhythmless meandering, converge to form distinct directional patterns, and pattern is evidence of a certain set of choices being made over another.

          I’m interested, Steven. You seem to be at pains to say you cannot know God, so how then can you even say God exists? And more pertinently, that God is good? I have given you just a taste of the evidences which contradict this tremendously naïve assertion. If not on the facts before you, what, then, are you basing your belief on?

        14. john, what i’m saying i exactly that ALL we have are opinions about gods. facts are apparent and do not speak for themselves. and patterns, that’s limited too, to our own experiences and ways of thinking to even recognize them; see kant’s critique of pure reason; conception, image, belief.

          as it is, i’m saying two things and you’re only taking it halfway. first is exactly that “the world was never good”. second, that the world was never bad. third maybe is that however you see the world, that will be your image of any god you think of.

          what amazes me no end is defining x as incomprehensible then saying we comprehend x, and of all things! william dembski! seriously? aquinas and all the hugely impactful christian thinkers i named deal in half-truths but dembski nails it with ID despite utter failure before a bush-appointed conservative christian supreme court justice in kitzmiller v dover, who incidentally called his entire organization charlatans? do tell!

          listen, i can see where this is going, mate, and dialogue is not it.

          cheers.

        15. Hi Steven

          Please don’t try and justify your inability to mount a coherent counterargument with some excuse that a dialogue does not exist here. I am not stopping you from presenting a counterargument. To date, you have not. If that frustrates you, then so be it, but I am not the fault of your frustration. As Rabbi Sherwin T Wine said, “Facts are facts. They are enormously discourteous.”

          Now, how can pattern not be convincing when this pattern reach back through Creation? It seems to me you’re being thoroughly disingenuous here. Now, don’t get me wrong. I can understand and appreciate how uncomfortable this whole subject makes you feel. It’s not easy. I know. It’s tremendously unpalatable… and that is precisely how the Creator wishes it. As has been evidenced through the millennia, the price of admission to this faculty has been considered simply too high, too awful, too offensive to pay, and so for reasons of practical terror the obvious has not just been ignored, it has been evaded altogether. You, Steven, are performing here just as every other thinker has performed when pressed with the corporeality of this world. You have fallen back on elaborate excuses: theodicies designed to paint an image that, despite all that you see around you, all is in fact good in the universe. That is a lie. It is a self-administered wound… and it makes the Creator pleased that men would self-harm in this way.

          It is clear, however, to those who look—to those possessed by a need to find that bedrock upon which all else is raised—that a talented and adept evil exists in this world, its presence woven into the very fabric of the natural canvas. It is omnipresent, inescapable, devoted, and limited in its expression only by the inventiveness and opportunity of the day.

          As I said earlier: the machine has not broken. The program is running precisely as designed.

        16. as to your theology, that’s a whole other matter and because you present it in a false dichotomy, i have little interest there; not wanting to be rude. however, even with your christian narrative, christianity itself affords dozens of theories of atonement that by existing, prove the dichotomy hasty.

          (see rashdall’s “ideas of atonement in christianity” for a very meticulous accounting)

        17. The Pentateuch is myth. The majority of Jewish rabbi’s even admit that today. Christianity is built on a cartoon. Jesus didn’t even know Moses wasn’t a real historical character.

          I’m not interested in discussing Christian theology. That, Steven, is the biggest waste of time in the known world.

        18. john, your view of god is a very christian one. you require a concept of anything in order to reject it. what you make of god that you then reject is theology proper and i’m saying there’s nothing proper about the false dichotomy you give above. hell, theologians summarily dismiss that kind of god too … because it is not rational to believe (save the random fundamentalist calvinist theologian, sproul for example maybe … a freckle on an elephant on the whole).

        19. Hi Steven,

          As I said, the Pentateuch is known myth. Christianity is built built on a cartoon. I’m not interested in discussing that particular superstition.

        20. john, YOU offered a conception of god. christian or not, you put it forth in a false dichotomy of “if not this, then that and only that”. who cares about christianity? i’m criticizing constructively, your mistaken thinking, which indeed by definition is a theology.

          now, since you missed that point, maybe you would address it now? if not, then you were aware of my point and, like christianity, you don’t want to discuss it either; though you’re critical of one but not of your own reasoning.

        21. Hi Steven

          I’m afraid it is you, not me, trying to shoehorn your concept of a god into this discussion. The Creator does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit. You seem to think, erroneously, that I am comparing gods. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am talking about the one true God, the Creator of this world. Jettison your flawed, closed Christian thinking and perhaps you will start to come to realise what we are, in fact, talking about here.

          I am critical only of Christianity in so far as it is a waste of everyone’s time even mentioning it. It is a pantomime raised on a cartoon and supported only by creative excuses.

          Forget the excuses, Steven. Address only the rational and coherent explanations for this world… those explanation that are free from all manmade theodicies.

          Now, I asked you a question. To repeat: I’m interested, Steven. You seem to be at pains to say you cannot know God, so how then can you even say God exists? And more pertinently, that God is good? I have given you just a taste of the evidences which contradict this tremendously naïve assertion. If not on the facts before you, what, then, are you basing your belief on?

        22. who says i’m any kind of anything, john. you’re enjoining a dismissal and genetic fallacy in one fail swoop!

          i asked for you to give me a world better than this, having no pain or suffering, that can accomplish some x; and tell me how 1) you know there is a god, 2) created this world, 3) is incomprehensible, and 4) you presume to know as comprehensible fact rather than apprehended, metaphysical guess from anthropomorphic projection, god’s x … his end, his purpose for creating in the first place.

          at this point, you seem to have more beliefs and about the gods than i, and more interest in them to boot.

          my only comments have been philosophical and critical of the idea that god must be evil since i exist, and i am equally critical of the idea of the gods being good. it’s all very pedestrian thinking, near as i can tell … but no one seems to want to simply ask what the consequences are in viewing the gods one way or the other; you know, the thing that could possibly matter at all.

        23. Hi Steven

          i asked for you to give me a world better than this

          Did you not read my reply to this question? Perhaps you should, I even saluted you for the question.

          1) [how] you know there is a god

          Something cannot come from nothing.

          1. Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
          2. The universe began to exist.
          3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

          That cause is God. This is self-evident. As detailed by Spinoza, “Nothing exists of which it cannot be asked, what is the cause (or reason), why it exists”. Provided the observable universe is contingent and, as suspected, had a definite beginning, the observer must assume that cause to be a non-contingent being who is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, and the creator of all things. Vitally, as the aggregate of all contingent things, that being—a being who, for reasons not immediately obvious, cherishes His anonymity and wishes to remain concealed—is also metaphysically necessary, for whatever is not from something else must be from itself, or from its own essence.

          Ontologically, we can also prove God thus:

          1. It is possible that a maximally wicked being exists.
          2. If it is possible that a maximally wicked being exists, then a maximally wicked being exists in some possible world.
          3. If a maximally wicked being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
          4. If a maximally wicked being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
          5. Therefore, a maximally wicked being exists in the actual world.
          6. Therefore, a maximally wicked being exists.
          7. Therefore, the Omnimalevolent Creator exists.

          2) [how do] you know created this world

          Through an honest teleological survey…. as I have repeatedly said.

          3) is incomprehensible

          I never said God is incomprehensible. You did. God is hidden, and we can gauge much information from this alone.

          4) you presume to know as comprehensible fact rather than apprehended, metaphysical guess from anthropomorphic projection, god’s x … his end, his purpose for creating in the first place.

          Yes, but I don’t presume. Again, I am dealing only with facts. I am dealing with the world that is, has been, and will be tomorrow.

          OK, you make an interesting point at the end. Are you saying you are not a theist? Are you saying you do not believe in God?

          If you do, in fact, believe in God then I have asked you a question, twice. Third time lucky, maybe? To repeat: I’m interested, Steven. You seem to be at pains to say you cannot know God, so how then can you even say God exists? And more pertinently, that God is good? I have given you just a taste of the evidences which contradict this tremendously naïve assertion. If not on the facts before you, what, then, are you basing your belief on?

        24. it’s not my concern if there’s a god or not. i’m simply calling this whole thread childish thinking, particularly yours at this point.

          i asked from the onset way before you even thought to, to imagine another world … to wit, “now that’s a great question!”, said you. answer it or don’t but i certainly fair quid pro quo as a maxim of conversation!

          just get on with your life at this point. you’re obviously only here not to talk about ideas or to think. instead, you’re right and damn all others who don’t agree.

          i don’t know for you, but my life matters and talking with you only to be talked at is certainly suffering i do not have to endure.

          cheers.

        25. Perhaps you should. Troll is someone who flies through. As you can see, I have engaged you all day. ie. The exact opposite to a troll.

          Interestingly, though, you could not mount a coherent counterargument. In fact, you were left floundering, throwing out poorly directed jibes. The evidence, of course, is on my side… as I demonstrated.

        26. You enjoy attacking the person, don’t you, Steven? Word of advice, it affects your argumentative style. You come across as being tremendously volatile, almost unbalanced. Certainly not confident in your position… which is understandable.

        27. There are 1 1/2 flaws in your logic: “2) The universe began to exist” seems likely, but it does not seem certain. There are those who theorize that the universe expands to some point, then contracts to essentially “nothing” then expands again, repeatedly. But let us assume that 2) is so. In which case, your conclusion 3) is logically valid. But then you say that God is the only possible Creator, and that does not follow logically. There is no logical path provided between Creator and God. Your argument is missing at least one step.

          Then there is that Ontological mess. I don’t have a background in philosophy, so I can’t say what Ontology is, but I find it hard to believe that it is a sequence of statements which do not necessarily follow. In particular, step 3) is not supportable, and even if if you allow it, I don’t see how you can use a possibility as a certainty.

        28. Hi Cat

          Are you suggesting God didn’t create the Universe? If not God, then who?

          That ontological argument is William Lane Craig’s exact argument for God. All I have done is change the name of the being. It is said to be the most convincing argument in existence within the Christian philosophical world. If you have problems with it, then do please consult your local Christian philosopher.

          Now, please see Poe’s Law

        29. Nope, I’m not saying that God did not create the universe (I believe He did). I’m just saying that the “proofs” used to “prove” that are logically invalid.

          Doesn’t matter who came up with that ontological argument or who accepts it, it still is invalid. Statement 3 is insupportable.logically and by common sense (which is not that common 🙂 ) Let me,illustrate. “If a hot cup of coffee exists in some possible car, then it exists in every possible car.” Is there a hot cup of coffee in your car? I guarantee there is one somewhere, and I know for an absolute fact there is not one in my car at this moment in time.

          Besides that, let’s look at the end. Let us assume that step 6 is proven as a possibility (it cannot be more, because it was built on possibility). FIrst of all, step 7 does not follow; there is no relationship stated, or even indicated, between being and Creator. And even if valid steps are added to show that, it is still only a possibility because it started out based on a possibility.

        30. Interesting Cat… You’ve just denied the two greatest proofs for God presented in the Christian world.

          Well done! You’ve disproved your own god. Congratulations!

        31. Cat has been quite open about believing on the back of raw guess work. It is at least honest.
          If you criticise that, you’ll see faith equated to reasoned belief. It’s a well rehearsed non sequitur response.

        32. Invalid argument is invalid argument. Anyone who relies on invalid argument SHOULD be brought to task.

          Just because those arguments are invalid does not prove that God does not exist. If people need “proof” of that, they should come up with one which is valid. Good luck with that.

        33. So, I’m curious then as to what proof you have that the god of the Pentateuch exists. And further, what proof, despite the evidence, that it is good.

        34. I don’t have any proof which would be valid for you. I have experiential proof which, barring valid logical argument or supportable proof to the contrary, is adequate for me.

        35. john, you should know i accept first cause arguments, however, volition cannot be rationally necessitated and so, given the law of conservation of mass/energy, parsimony goes to a very simple conclusion that something indeed is eternal, it’s not the universe, is not volitional, and it simple.

          what you seem to think of as self-evident is simply once more, piss poor reasoning on your part.

          like also produces like and so, creatio ex se applies and you either have to be pantheist or offer a means to say this eternal “thing” violates the law of conservation of mass/energy (this one time, a special case fallacy) and produces “non like”; without this means, “god” stands to explain nothing and is no better than demanding turtles all the way down.

          and so you know, logic proves absolutely nothing as any epistemologist will tell you. i have a few papers on epistemology in my own blog if you’d like a formal education on formal reasoning.

          god is not a fact of the matter. there are brute facts and apparent facts but all take interpretation. for instance, it is both a fact the sky is blue when the sky is blue, and a fact that the sky is never blue when the sky is blue.

        36. brute facts have no explanation, 1, and 2, air is not clear, 3, color does not exist, 4, it is a fact and true the sky is blue when the sky is blue.

          SMFH

        37. you know, in discussion groups, a term came up for folks like you, far better than “troll”; ostrich headed circle jerking dodge monkey, OHCJDM.

          it’s for people who can’t reason, and worse, cannot argue, and so they dodge engaging points while verbally jerking off intent on keeping their head in the sand.

        38. by the way, 1 is undefined and may as well be “hob gobblins” and 3 and 4 are flatly false; many things are possible, but obviously as a matter of observation, not all possible things are actual, and more, not all possibilities in one world are possibilities in others. i think you need to study modal logic instead of taking other people’s bad logical soft porn and masturbating with it here.

        39. Take it up with William Lane Craig, Christianities greatest modern apologist… its his ontological argument, word for word, excluding, of course, my change of name.

        40. right! you have no experience with first order logic in the least, you grab someone else’s logical soft porn and again, masturbate to it here. well done you!

          other than admitting to it, you are happy to plagiarize. but at least you credit him now.

          and it is NOT a brute fact the air is “clear”, otherwise there would be no perception of color! more, color does not exist as any property of any lightwave or object refracting it. it also remains an absolute fact that the sky is still blue when the sky is blue. you simply have no idea what a fact is; and NEITHER are brute facts, ie there is no color and the sky is blue when blue!

          at some point, it would serve you well to learn how to reason before commenting on the reasoning of others, especially those who have.

        41. And there you go again with the personal attacks. Seriously, Steven, this is reflective of a highly volatile personality. Clearly, this emotional fickleness you exhibit disrupts your capacity to think straight, and this ultimately leads you into the sandpit where the intellectually lazy build sandcastles, hollering to each other, “Mine is bigger than yours!” That, Steven, is not a good thing.

          Now, as I said, if you have a problem with Craig’s masterpiece of reasoning, then do please take it up with him. I’m sure he’d be fascinated with your amateur critique of his philosophy.

        42. lol. no, i got snarky well after you. it’s called mirroring.

          my problem is you call WLCs logic a masterpiece while 1) not yourself understanding logic, 2) you don’t respond to substantive commentary but instead go into a game of name calling and non sequitur to avoid thinking things through, 3) cannot admit when you are wrong.

          to QED, let’s see your next response, eh?

          1) what makes this argument a “masterpiece”?
          2) ever formally or informally studied epistemology or logic?
          3) will you own that the sky is not “clear”?
          4) will you own you have no idea what a brute fact is?
          5) will you own you don’t know what facts are?
          6) will you prove 3-6 if you still think you’re right and do know these things?

          proceed …

        43. Steven, to repeat: if you have a problem with Craig’s masterpiece of reasoning, then do please take it up with him. I’m sure he’d be fascinated with your amateur critique.

          Air molecules have colour? Fascinating.

        44. to repeat, YOU call it a “masterpiece” and i want to know why … two of us here pointed out several flaws and WLC’s peers have also.

          i’m no amateur but i can tell you are, and that you’re like 12 years old, at least mentally and emotionally is not actually.

          once again, NO matter has color! and that “clear”, either way, is not a color, you never cease to amaze and amuse. “clear” denotes opacity, not color.

          but once again, OHCJDM all day long if you wish.

        45. Exactly, clear is not a colour. Precisely as I said.

          And Steven, Christians, such as yourself, call Craig’s ontological argument a masterpiece. I think its nonsense…. But, of course, if you actually understood Poe’s Law then you’d already know that.

        46. who says i’m a christian! who would believe there’s one more demigod walking on water, raising from the dead?!

          as for the sky, it IS blue when it is blue, mate, and that’s a fact. it’s also a fact that color does not exist.

          play your game, like i said.

          as it is, i don’t think you know what a poe is, but you play one quite well while trolling.

        47. Are you denying you’re a Christian?

          Exactly, the sky is not blue. Why do you keep confirming what I have already said? The sky is not, as you said, “blue when it is blue.”

        48. the sky IS blue! it is also NOT blue, genius!

          truth is a matter of contexts and meanings, as are the apparentness of facts; which 200 years ago, people would have demanded apples ontologically had a “redness” property and scoff at some saying it’s not a fact the sky is blue.

          as to whatever i think about god or jesus or whatever else, i’m not answering because it has nothing to do with this conversation. you continually try to dismiss here using anything you can. that you think christianity or whatever, has any effect on the truth of what i’ve been saying here is a simple genetic fallacy and more reason to assess your capacity to reason as a on par with a pre-teen.

        49. Steven, to repeat: if you have a problem with Craig’s masterpiece of reasoning, then do please take it up with him. I’m sure he’d be fascinated with your amateur critique.

        50. rinse and repeat! why do YOU çall it a masterpiece! neither WLC nor anyone else can answer that question but YOU.

          so, grow up, put your big girl panties on, and answer.

        51. And there’s that volatility. It drives you into rather childish realms, Steven. Can you control it, or does this unhinged manner have control over you?

        52. You are aware, aren’t you, that you’re boring me.

          So, address the thesis presented if you can. If you can’t, then I think we’re done here.

        53. You have? I must have missed that. All I saw was dancing and tantrum throwing, never once addressing a single teleological point presented.

          Listen, Steven, I wrote a book on this. Perhaps you should read it. Professor Pete Millican (Oxford) and Stephen Law (University of London) think its some of the best writingargument presentation they’ve seen on the evil god. Millican wrote me earlier this week, in fcat, telling me he’s going to be using it in his philosophy of religion classes. Read it, study it, absorb it, then see if you can knock the thesis down.

          On another note, why are you so clearly embarrassed about being a Christian?

        54. If a person does not admit they are a Christian, they probably aren’t. After all, the requirements claim that you have to “confess it with your mouth”.

          Although, technically, it might be a loophole since we are not using our mouths for this form of communication. 🙂

        55. it is doesn’t have anything to do with anything, that’s why i don’t respond to it. it’s really of no concern to you what my answer is. all that matters is that right now, you focusing on it gives you something to comment on at all since you dodge every question i ask; such as how comprehensible is the incomprehensible, for example. a ton more left unaddressed.

          keep trolling if it makes your day any better, mate.

        56. how comprehensible is the incomprehensible

          I have answered this twice already. I do not say God is incomprehensible. You do, and you’re wrong. The design reveals intent, and intent reveals disposition. Teleology.

          I have 14 billion years of evidence supporting my thesis. What do you have, the Pentateuch?

        57. From the perspective of contingent things, naturally. This is why we cannot fathom a diet that is composed of suffering… But as I have already demonstrated to you, we consume faeces, and it doesn’t bother us. This does not, however, mean the Creator unknowable. I have already explained this to you, but evidently you do not read what is put in front of your eyes. So, to repeat:

          His will is revealed through the design. That, Steven, is self-evident.
          The machine has not malfunctioned.
          The program is running precisely as designed.
          Creation is unfurling exactly as desired by the Creator.
          The universe expands and evil rushes in.
          The universe expands and suffering is augmented, amplified, fine-tuned, and enhanced.
          The alternative—God is maximally good but thoroughly incompetent and has lost total control of his creation—is a proposition simply too fantastic to entertain for any period longer than the time it takes to drink half a cup of tea. God, by definition, is maximally competent. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. Evil exists because it is meant to exist. The reach and diversity of evil is growing more complex over time because the reach and diversity of evil is meant to grow more complex over time. Suffering is growing more potent and expressive over time because suffering is meant to grow more potent and expressive over time.

          Please, if you’re going to ask the same questions, and have me simply give you the same answers, then just disappear.

        58. then quit being an amateur!

          here are two theologians and two philosophers stating, like i am, that you cannot know what you’re claiming to know and, that looks an aweful lot like blind faith to me. you can have at it, but that’s just not my cup of tea.

          Equivocal God-talk leaves us in total ignorance about God. At best, one can only feel, intuit, or sense God in some experiential way, but no human expressions can describe what it is that is being experienced … [As for univocal] Our understanding and expressions are finite, and God’s are infinite, and there is an infinite gulf between finite and infinite. As transcendent, God is not only beyond our limited understanding, but He is also beyond our finite expressions.

          (Norman Geisler, ‘Systematic Theology, Vol. 1’, Bethany House Publishers, 2002, pg. 615)

          … when we speak of God by using the word ‘God’, we do not understand what we mean, we have no concept of God; what governs our use of the word ‘God’ is not an understanding of what God is but the validity of a question about the world … What goes for our rules for the use of ‘God’ does not go for the God we try to name with the word. (And a corollary of this, incidentally, is why a famous argument for the existence of God called the ontological argument does not work.)

          (Fr. Herbert McCabe, ‘God Matters’, Continuum, 2005, pg. 6)

          For if the existence of such a god were probable, then the proposition that he existed would be an empirical hypothesis. And in that case it would be possible to deduce from it, and other empirical hypotheses, certain experiential propositions which were not deducible from those other hypotheses alone. But in fact this is not possible. It is sometimes claimed, indeed, that the existence of a certain sort of regularity in nature constitutes sufficient evidence for the existence of a god. But if the sentence “God exists” entails to more than that certain types of phenomena occur in certain sequences, then to assert the existence of a god will be simply equivalent to asserting that there is the requisite regularity in nature; and no religious man would admit that this was all he intended to assert in asserting the existence of a god. He would say that in talking about God, he was talking about a transcendent being who might be known through certain empirical manifestations, but certainly could not be defined in terms of those manifestations. But in that case the term “god” is a metaphysical term. And if “god” is a metaphysical term, then it cannot be even probable that a god exists. For to say that “God exists” is to make a metaphysical utterance which cannot be either true or false. And by the same criterion, no sentence which purports to describe the nature of a transcendent god can possess any literal significance.

          (A. J. Ayer, “Language, Truth, And Logic”, Dover, Second Edition, 1952, pg. 117)

          To exist beyond the sphere of natural law means to exist beyond the scope of human knowledge; epistemological transcendence is a corollary of ‘supernaturalness’. If a god is a natural being, if his actions can be explained in terms of normal causal relationships, then he is a knowable creature. Conversely, if god can be known, he cannot be supernatural. Without mystery, without some element of the incomprehensible, a being cannot be supernatural – and to designate a being as supernatural is to imply that this being transcends human knowledge. Epistemological transcendence is perhaps the only common denominator among all usages of the term “god,” including those of Tillich, Robinson and other modern theologians. While some “theists” reject the notion of a supernatural being in a metaphysical sense, it seems that every self-proclaimed theist – regardless of his particular use of the term “god” – agrees that a god is mysterious, unfathomable or in someway beyond man’s comprehension. The idea of the “unknowable” is the universal element linking together the various concepts of god, which suggests that this is the most critical aspect of theistic belief. The belief in an unknowable being is the central tenet of theism, and it constitutes the major point of controversy between theism and critical atheism.”

          (George Smith, ‘Atheism: The Case Against God’, 1973)

        59. Vaporous nonsense.

          Let’s get real. Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

          Hard evidences, please… Not meaningless, ethereal thought exercises.

        60. so, dismissal fallacy. ok.

          clarify WHY ayer and smith, ignostic and atheist respectively, are saying nonsense.

          give me one valid and sound reason why i ought to think there’s a god at all, after you’ve done more than dismiss two very well-known philosophers and their lucid clarity on the point.

        61. I know their thoughts, and I dismiss them here because these are opinions…. opinions based on nothing. Supernatural? How can one talk of the supernatural when there is no evidence of the supernatural? What you have offered are pantomimes of nothing… mental meanderings without any grounding in reality.

          I want to deal with the real. We can only deal with the real. Creation exists. The consequences of Creation exists. Read that sentence again. Now read it again, slowly. Let it sink in.

          Ayer’s says: “who might be known through certain empirical manifestations.” I disagree. It is not a matter of “might.” As I have repeatedly laid out before you: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” God does not make mistakes.

          If you are not positing a Creator then this conversation ends here. If, however, you are positing a Creator then address my question rather than performing another tiresome version of your evasive song and dance routine. To repeat the question:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        62. if there is no evidence of the supernatural, then there is no evidence of god, and so you arguing there is a god, a malevolent one, one you say you can prove, well … that’s lunacy!

          it is not my argument there are or are not gods. that means if you want to assert there’s a maleficent deity, then the work’s all yours to do in order to prove it to others. it’s called “burden of proof”. start working!

        63. Have you read anything? Perhaps you should go back through the thread and see the proofs I have given, and can continue to give. Does the naturally self-complicating nature of this universe ring a bell?

          One person is performing here, and here’s a hint as to who that person is: it’s not you.

          Now, are you going to address the question put to you, or are you going to continue your evasive dance?

          To repeat:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        64. On September 25, 2015 at 1:33 pm, Steve Hoyt said: “john, you should know i accept first cause arguments.”

          Changed your mind, huh?

          It’s clear you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

        65. and YES! i DO accept first cause. maybe read EVERYTHING, and for comprehension! either first cause has volition or it does not and there is NO way to logically necessitate EITHER!

          a god sans volition cannot be said to be intelligent and cannot *will* and cannot be good or evil. this leads to pantheism, not theism.

          YOU have to rationally necessitate volition in order to say god is good or evil. YOU have done no such thing. what you KEEP doing is denying the problem of volition and conflating regularities of reality as some fact of god (ayer) when what you mean is that you INFER FROM IMPRESSIONS about the regularities which is then metaphysics and then, tautology (ayer, mccabe, geisler, aquinas, schillebeeckx, rashdall).

          YOU simply are not paying attention.

        66. and there is NO way to logically necessitate EITHER!

          Absolute nonsense. Shall I repeat fro the umpteenth time: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Volition is revealed through the architecture… Directed contingency, as ID’ers would say.

          Now, as we have established you do indeed believe in God, please address the question presented to you three times already:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        67. you can repeat yourself all you’d like, but the fact is 1) the universe is ordered, 2) it is demonstrable that not all things ordered have “designers” (put a cardboard square over a speaker facing up, the play one sound frequency and see what happens!).

          furthermore! first cause itself doesn’t imply volition.

          god is then dubious! and then, not a fact of any matter.

        68. first cause itself doesn’t imply volition.

          Did I say it did? No, so you would be better served addressing only what is written, as opposed to what you wish was written. Straw men demonstrate an extreme lack of intellectual integrity.

          By itself, the Cosmological Argument does not offer any description of the being other than presenting formalised reasoning for the prescriptive qualities of non-contingency and maximal power, but simply knowing the qualities of the Creator does not move the curious mind closer towards a name, and without a name—without a sense of intent behind that which was created—the identity of the architect (an architect who so clearly cherishes His anonymity) remains a mystery.

          Until, that is, we survey Creation.

          Now, you have dodged my question four times. Either admit you don’t believe in a Creator, or address the question like an adult:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        69. “creator” implies *will* which implies *mind*, and if i say the first cause is a super energetic vibrating “string” which produces all complexity no matter the scale, then what i mean by “first cause” and what you call, as a thinking and willful “creator” are infinitely different.

          first cause does not imply gods nor does order nor complexity, so aside from continually calling you on your bald, conclusory comments, i don’t know what in the hell you call “dodging”.

          and yes, i do think you POE.

        70. Steven

          Collect yourself. Your unhinged emotional state is showing, once again.

          Yes, you are free to say “the first cause is a super energetic vibrating “string” which produces all complexity no matter the scale”. And if you do, then this conversation is over.

          Is that your God belief… powerful, but mindless, directionless, purposeless?

          Yes, or no.

        71. IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!

          YOU assert there is a willful god who is maleficent … so YOU prove it.

          i didn’t dodge, i JUST illustrated that just because there is order, and that order produces complexity, it doesn’t mean “design”, doesn’t mean “creator” and so yet AGAIN, ayer an company are correct; there is no FACT of god by pointing at a rock, universe, or any other thing in our natural world!

          so, metaphysical tautology! and that’s it!

        72. IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!

          Yes, it does. Yes or no: Do you believe the first cause to be a powerful, but mindless, directionless, purposeless thing?

          Please answer the question like an adult without any further evasive maneuvers.

          so YOU prove it.

          I have been proving it. I have shown you, and can continue to show you, pattern towards increasing suffering. Teleology. A study of intent.

          Now, unless you say the first cause is mindless, directionless, and purposeless please answer my question to you.

          For the fifth time:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        73. I’ll answer your swarm of comments in one comment here.

          this will be read by others. they’ll judge.

          Yes, this will be read, and your evasive tactics are on full display.

          BECAUSE it can have a mind or not

          Does it, Steven? Yes, or no? To repeat my question to you in the hope that you will begin to act like an adult and actually address it:

          Do you believe the first cause to be a powerful, but mindless, directionless, purposeless thing?

          Yes, or no, Steven…

          the point is whether we can prove which is the case. we can’t.

          Yes, we can. We can reveal a signature to that which was never signed. How many times do you want me to repeat this? The principle characteristic of intelligent agency is directed contingency: choice. Creation, by its very nature, is an exercise in savage prejudices and uncommon bigotries. Be it a kettle, or an entire universe, that which is brought into the light of existence is done so by denying everything else that it is not. The set of all things that are not a kettle, or a universe, are isolated from the set of all things that are, and by surveying the nature of this ruthless favouritism—this fanatical exercise in bias—we may begin to move towards a genuine sense of that which shaped the thing which had no shape. Here, an observable stream of positive decisions—the preferential treatment of one thematic set of solutions over another—signals the presence of intelligent agency. Rivulets and estuaries flowing in one direction, as opposed to some haphazard, rhythmless meandering, converge to form distinct directional patterns, and pattern is evidence of a certain set of choices being made over another.

          In this respect, we need not even canvass the nature of Creation—its uncontainable urge to self-enrich is uncontroversial and requires no defence as the observation is un-prosecutable—but rather simply observe the shape of Creation itself. Why is it presented as it is? This alone reveals intent. Indeed, we may even take the Creators anonymity to be evidence for His disposition. Why does He hide? What purpose is served by His concealment? Why has He dressed Creation in impenetrable naturalness?

          Now, for the love of Veles, answer the question presented to you:

          For the sixth time:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        74. i’m an ignostic, agnostic, atheist theist, christian … but you’re so illogical you won’t be able to sort that out at all!

          what i SAID was that you have given me no reason to think there is a god, so, i remain AMBIVALENT about whether or not there are gods.

          if you had a brain, you would be in pain thinking this way but stupidity is the ultimate painkiller.

        75. I’m sorry, but you cannot be a Christian without a belief in Jesus having existed and currently existing as part of God. The definition of Christian may be quite wide and even have much contention, but when you get right down to it, that is the basis of the definition.

          Kind of like claiming to be a vegetarian because you always eat vegetables with your meat.

        76. well, that’s not true at all. that comes from johannine literature and uses greek platonic philosophy of the time. i have a blog on that if you’d like more info in a brief spot.

          the only shared belief in christianity is that christ atones. but the irony is, no one knows how. jesus never spoke about anything remotely like that and the gospels, with the exception of john’s very late one, don’t either.

        77. Yes, please point to that blog. I would be fascinated to find out how someone could be a Christian without believing at least a subset of the claims about Jesus the Christ.

        78. Thanks. Of course it is always possible that the translation of scripture we read has been accidently (or even deliberately) altered from the original.

        79. oh, i fully agree. the original KJV added a resurrection narrative to mark which has subsequently removed (but is still annotated attesting to the fact), and countless others.

        80. “you’ve” given no reason does not necessarily mean he has no reason. But it is odd that either a theist or an atheist would not so identify. Not many can resist shining their light upon us dullards :-);

        81. i’m an ignostic, agnostic, atheist, theist, christian and you’ve established nothing … in fact, you haven’t even established you have a coherent point in anything you’ve said.

        82. An ignostic, agnostic, atheist theist, Christian

          Yes, that would certainly explain your highly volatile, erratic personality and emotional tantrums.

          But let’s just admit it: you’re an atheist. You don’t believe in the gods. You have said so, and that is the way it is. This has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt.

          You, Steven, are an atheist.

          Goodbye.

        83. Exactly.

          You’re an atheist.

          You do not believe in the supernatural. You, by your own words, believe in a mindless, directionless, purposeless superstring that was the first cause. The universe is a blind accident.

          Again, thank you for finally clearing that up, but I must say, your recalcitrance in admitting the simple fact that you are an atheist was entirely baffling.

        84. no, if you read, i mean READ! what *i* write, it’d be clear to you that you assert z because of x and y and what i’m doing is demonstrating that x and y taken as true ALSO gives q as being a possibility.

          this has nothing to do with what i personally think or believe!

          if you had an education, you’d know when presented an argument, you refute it, call it into question, by counter-example.

          you’re not even a good troll. you really ought to try harder. otherwise, you’re just wasting everyone’s time! either be serious about dialogue, or be serious about being a dick. just get serious at some point!

        85. if you had an education, you’d know when presented an argument, you refute it, call it into question, by counter-example.

          What a thoroughly intriguing, albeit utterly incomprehensible thing for you to say, when all you have done here is avoid addressing the arguments put to you. Do you know what projection is, Steven?

          So, now you’re saying you are not an atheist?

          Is this correct?

          My goodness, could you please get your thoughts straight? So you do, in fact, believe the first cause was not only powerful, but with a mind, a direction, and a purpose? You do believe this world was shaped, with intent.

          Wonderful. Since we’ve established that, could you now, finally, address the question put to you eight times already?

          For the ninth time:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        86. what i believe doesn’t matter! you assert, so you make your case! all i’ve said is there are other equally believable things to believe and in that case, you have not made yours.

          get this, alright! i agree something eternal must exist. i state “it” could be volitional, or it could be mindless. here’s the deal: I DON’T CARE ABOUT EITHER. so you saying i believe this or that only means you aren’t listening. I DO NOT CARE IF THERE ARE GODS.

          give me a good reason to think there may be, then we can talk about whether or not its malevolent. ID doesn’t AT ALL prove there are gods as i gave you a mindless “design” from sound, a plate, and some salt!

          i answer your questions on this topic each and every time. i HAVE no answer as to whether or not there is a god because it’s simply a stupid question debated by utter fools … like you! i do not care if there are any, one, or none.

          fourth time: grow up!

        87. get this, alright! i agree something eternal must exist. i state “it” could be volitional, or it could be mindless.

          To repeat: “Something eternal exists, and it could be volitional, or it could be mindless.” If it is mindless then it is simply the universe itself and you are an atheist. If it’s volitional, it is a God, with mind, with purpose, with direction.

          I DO NOT CARE IF THERE ARE GODS

          You do if you posit the chance it’s volitional. This is why we must establish what, exactly, you believe.

          give me a good reason to think there may be

          I have. Repeatedly. First cause married to teleology. First cause choosing to be anonymous. The naturally self-complicating nature of Creation, where complexity corresponds precisely to the degree and depth of suffering available to be experienced. See Integrated Information theory. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles. A peculiar, alien caliber of suffering existed long before life, and with life the degree and depth of suffering has only augmented, expanded, deepened, grown more competent, more pervasive, more convincing over time. Suffering blossoms with the unfolding passage of creation. This is an unmistakable pattern: directed contingency. If this were not the case, if Creation’s stubborn obsession was in fact towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time, then observers of every kind would have already seen, collected and assembled immense libraries of hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more.

          Is this an accident? Is this single impulse that drives everything written, or is it unplanned… you tell me.

          So, for the tenth time:

          Give me a valid, defendable reason to think a maximally malevolent being did not create this world.

        88. i posit there may or may not be a bigfoot. i am ambivalent either way. is it multisyllabic words that are your problem here?

          what MUST be established is YOUR justification that 1) there is a god and 2) it is malevolent!

          to POSIT is to assert. it is a particular type of speech act. to merely disclose is an entirely different speech act and bears no, none, onus.

          you are a POE and i suspect, a theist in all actuality; which is why your only appeals are to WLC and demski and the full intellectual insanity of intelligent design. atheist my ass! atheist can reason! you however, cannot!

        89. i posit there may or may not be a bigfoot

          Is Bigfoot “eternal,” as you suggest?

          what MUST be established is YOUR justification that 1) there is a god and 2) it is malevolent!

          Are you trying to be stupid, or does obtuseness simply come naturally to you?

          To repeat:

          I have. Repeatedly. First cause married to teleology. First cause choosing to be anonymous. The naturally self-complicating nature of Creation. See Integrated Information theory. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles. A peculiar, alien caliber of suffering existed long before life, and with life the degree and depth of suffering has only augmented, expanded, deepened, grown more competent, more pervasive, more convincing over time. Suffering blossoms with time. This is an unmistakable pattern. If this were not the case, if Creation’s stubborn obsession was in fact towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time, then observers of every kind would have already seen, collected and assembled immense libraries of hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more.

          you are a POE

          Yes, so you keep saying, but as I have no idea what a POE is, I really couldn’t care. You are emotionally unstable. This is self-evident.

          which is why your only appeals are to WLC and demski and the full intellectual insanity of intelligent design. atheist my ass! atheist can reason! you however, cannot!

          I re-direct you to Poe’s Law…. Perhaps this time you should actually look it up.

        90. (shakes head)

          who but you is comparing bigfoot to god!

          read what i wrote one more time. only this time, slow enough for your comprehension to keep up, eh.

        91. argument through repetition is not an argument at all; it’s a fallacy.

          you have NOT demonstrated first cause has volition, and so that whole diatribe you posted then just reposted doesn’t even get off the ground!

        92. when i posit “may or may not be”, what i’m asserting isn’t anything to do with god or bigfoot, but only that the case is undetermined or, indeterminable as is the case with the gods.

          think, man!

        93. Some people equate atheism and agnosticism, but there really are two separate ways to not believe that God exists. One can BELIEVE He (or any gods) do not exist, or they can have NO belief about whether He exists.

        94. BECAUSE it can have a mind or not, the point is whether we can prove which is the case. we can’t.

          you say there’s a mindful god. i say there may or may not be, and, i don’t care either way. but since you’re asserting what the case is, then you prove it. POE!

        95. It’s annoying that he won’t even address the question, although I can understand not answering it, since it is somewhat unanswerable.

          1) What does “maximally” really mean? it might make the question more answerable to use 100%, as that is quantifiable. Maximally implies “up against the limit” and so needs that limit defined in order to be quantifiable.

          2) Malevolent towards whom? Although the term CAN mean towards “anyone and everyone”, it often implies towards a person or group.

          3) The assumption implied by the question is that the world WAS created, which is a separate question. And the way it is stated opens the possibility that the world and “everything else” could have different sources.

        96. Hi Cat, yes, his evasions are tremendously tiresome.

          1. “Maximum” is just a word theologians/philosophers use instead of Omni.

          2. Malevolent is a human word, and incomplete. The Creator is not necessarily hateful, vengeful, or even hostile, merely thoroughly observant of His needs. He does not, as Wes Morriston claims, have an intense dislike for anything you or I might approve of or enjoy , merely a different perspective on aesthetics, nutrition, and entertainment.

          3. This world is finite. It will end, that is guaranteed. Are we then participating in some timed game? Perhaps.

        97. It is unfortunate the words used then. Omni/completely/100% are a precise specification of the degree of whatever; maximum implies an arbitrary limit. Malevolent does NOT indicate self interest; certainly there is a degree of self interest involved, but malevolence demands ill will, desire for evil towards some group,

          Thus to modify and answer your question, a being who was omnimalevolent could only be happy if “everybody was suffering, all the time”. Since many people, throughout history, have been quite happy at times, the world created would not have been created by a being who was completely malevolent and reasonably competent.

        98. Hi Cat

          Malevolent does NOT indicate self interest; certainly there is a degree of self interest involved, but malevolence demands ill will, desire for evil towards some group

          Very well said, and I tend to agree with you here. Like I said, malevolence, the word, comes with human limitations. Extreme self-interest, though, appears to be a better articulation of the disposition of the Creator.

          a being who was omnimalevolent could only be happy if “everybody was suffering, all the time”. Since many people, throughout history, have been quite happy at times, the world created would not have been created by a being who was completely malevolent and reasonably competent.

          Excellent observation. It is, however, an incomplete thought. While the urge of the careless observer is certainly to assume that a maximally debased being—an entity who stands as a living contradiction to all things a limited terrestrial mind might consider wellborn—would be wholly and hopelessly dedicated to wild brutality and the swift delivery of ruin across His creation, the assumption ignores the self-evident fact that a world driven only by impetuous brutality and scorched earth protocols would resemble more a raging, superheated, short-lived bonfire than a secure, creative, and ultimately profitable marketplace desired by a Creator who seeks to maximise His pleasure over time.
          His pleasure.
          There are no two more important words in all of Creation.
          His pleasure.
          Creation—this universe—exists as it does to give pleasure to its Creator. It knows no other state of employment, and the most persuasive and predictable source of that pleasure is the genuine, incorruptible, thrilling energy released through suffering. For suffering, however, to be meaningful, for it to grow and enrich, Creation must be seeded with the capacity to host “good.” If the operations of this world were underwritten by nothing but an outwardly reckless policy of uncapped destruction and mayhem then it would very quickly bring about a reduction in suffering, not enhancement, as continuously savaged life systems would never be afforded the necessary time, space, and security to mature and internally enrich, and without self-enrichment, without diversification, the Creator’s harvests would be increasingly anaemic over time, and this would represent a failed, bankrupted Creation.

        99. I see, so you are saying that a completely malevolent being “harvests” suffering from its creation, and in order to maximize the harvest, inflicts suffering intermittently so that it has more impact. Interesting, and seems to fit the observable facts.

          Is there any organized group which subscribes to this theory?.

        100. Hi Cat

          You almost got it. Yes, The Owner of All Infernal Names consumes suffering, but He does not inflict it. Ever. Not in my thesis. He has never shoved the earth’s great rocky plates, unwrapped a tsunami, whispered a tornado into existence, or angered a volcanic vent. These little dramas are, however, guaranteed. He does not interfere in earthly affairs. Creation cannot help but complicate itself, and therefore the variety, depth, and potency of suffering will grow quite naturally over time. How it grows and diversifies is, though, a mystery, and mystery enhances the thrill. Omniscience, you see, is not a gift, but a curse. To be omniscient means to have never been surprised, excited, amazed, thrilled or impressed by anything, as nothing can be new. Ever. No enjoyment can be extracted from any single event, an earthquake or a war for example, if one already knows with perfect clarity the totality of that event: the affairs leading up to it, the time of its happening, the actors, their emotions, and the sum total of effects that ripple out and away as the occasion recedes into a history that is, for the omniscient being, inseparable from both the present and the future. To experience pleasure, the Omnimalevolent Creator must, therefore, suspend this talent, His omniscience, or live out an existent of impossible, oppressive, insufferable boredom. It is a masterstroke of malevolent (self-orientated) action. In an act of pure and wild sadomasochism The Owner of All Infernal Names degrades Himself, lessening His existence so as to join His most prized trinkets of amusement in their blind passage through existence.

        101. so ridiculous! you, the atheist (i presume), have to prove gods exists in order to say they are malevolent, but the fact is, once you “prove” they exist, it doesn’t make two-shit’s difference whether you think they’re good or evil! you at that point, simply don’t like that they are said to be good but can’t at all be an atheist either way.

        102. who cares if i do or don’t! it doesn’t matter one jot either way with this conversation and certainly you’re not even remotely chummy enough to think i’d get personal with you!

        103. Does design always reveal intent? Ultimately, maybe, but only if we are willing AND ABLE to fully understand the design.. Imagine a sword cane. It appears to have one intent and in fact can fulfill that intent, but only if one has the capability to determine the hidden “real” design can the true intent be determined.

          Also, what if the “thing” is used in ways not envisioned by the designer? Imagine someone uses their sword cane on a couple of hooks as a towel rack? Again, complete understanding of the design might well reveal intent, but that can be obfuscated by usage. I’m sure the sword cane designer had no intent to keep towels off the floor…

        104. Dodge? What a thoroughly interesting remark. If I recall, for most of yesterday I presented you hard, unignorable, verifiable teleological evidence proving the existence of The Owner of All Infernal Names. For much of yesterday you, Steven, avoided addressing every and all points presented to you.

          Now, if you think you can actually mount a coherent and adult counterargument, an argument free from vaporous nonsense and dealing only with the physical realities of this world, then by all means present it. Prove The Owner of All Infernal Names did not create this world. I’d be more than thrilled to review your attempt. None, so far, have been able to even remotely dent the thesis.

        105. “hard”?! no, you think god is a fact of the matter, that though incomprehensible, you comprehend god and not only, but know his mind to tell us exactly what he had in mind in creating anything at all!

          nope! all god-talk is metaphysical inference and then by definition, tautology. and if you ask your homeboy WLC, he’ll tell you the same … then again, you take dempski over aquinas so what should i expect other than knowing only you take yourself seriously.

        106. What’s a homeboy? Is that some peculiar American colloquialism?

          I take Demski over Aquinas? LOL! Seriously, Steven, I think you better follow that link which explains Poe’s Law in easy-to-read English. You’re embarrassing yourself.

        107. then you called a slew of formative, insightful thinkers half-assed and turned around and said demski nailed it with ID, that there are facts of the matter in ID. pair that lunacy with calling WLC logic masterful and we can only read on, wondering if your mind functions at all!

          and so then, once again, i wasn’t wrong after all!

        108. Sorry, John, it not the only possibility. It is A possibility. Another is that there is another force which is hiding His existence, due to some agreement between the forces. Another, and my favorite, is that there is a reason why God desires “faith”, and faith is diluted or eliminated by evidence. That is, if you can prove something is so, you do not have “faith” in it, by definition.

        109. A God with desires must be in some sense lacking.
          Faith is a bad epistemology. Let’s play devils advocate for a second and assume I’m right and that God exists and is evil. You have no faith in that.
          Or imagine any other faith is actually correct–having got there by the same methodology–you have no faith in their God either.

        110. why does desire imply need, allallt? it doesn’t signal need, as desire also implies want which doesn’t entail need. it doesn’t signal want, because ideas also imply creativity which doesn’t entail want. so in asking “why anything at all” we can note all our words are insufficient because they connote alternative we don’t fully know how to rightly connect. by “desire” and “will”, we may simply posit the x of “god” and the fact of y, the creation and suggest “god had the best idea and realized it in actual terms”. as aquinas put his answer, god created because god loves and this is why we can say god is goodness itself.

          of course it’s tautology, but tautology to suggest otherwise too … and the counter is to suggest that evil, badness, maleficence et. al. is denoted best by creating rather than destroying, which to me seems counter to everything we apply those terms to.

          with me?

        111. No. And that would be my next point if I were writing a longer essay. We discuss good and bad on the back of human defined ideas.

          But there are two questions slighter deeper than that human observation I am asking:
          How can we tell which of these two qualities–good and bad–is the content of perfection, and which is the blemish? (i.e. How do we know God’s perfection, if it’s accepted as part of the definition by brute reason, necessitates moral goodness and not moral evil?)
          How can we even tell which is good and which is bad? If you take the words and swap the content, without recognise the power of human observation, how could you tell if the swap has happened or not?)

        112. oh, i see. i just think it’s a problem of language and anthropomorphism.

          of course, we don’t know. we project. and we have no idea what we mean by “perfect”. all we can say, if we’re trying for any precision, is something like “ideal” or “maxial”.

          i can elaborate, but for me, that’s focusing way to much on shit that just doesn’t matter because it’s all metaphysical guesswork. instead, i’d think we should be happy rejecting ideas about god that are bad and seeing the “truth” of other god-talk in terms of function; are they worth something, are they good.

          it makes no sense to say god is good, for instance, or that god is moral because the first is a human grade and the second is an ontology which implies need (see hume, an enquiry concerning the principles of morals).

          so what is good to believe, is the question. for the believer, that god exists and cares in some sense, and that whatever he has in mind with creation, it isn’t whimsy; that suffering exists because it is necessary to some end. but absent at least in my experience of life, it’d be hard to say i endure more pain and suffering than wonderment and joy being alive, balanced with a healthy understanding my experience isn’t another’s and i have an obligation to alleviate the suffering of others.

          i think much of this is aimed at christianity and so, looking for how my thinking about the gods may match functionally, i hit something like this and see a consistency:

          Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

          other religions too, maybe from the tao and the idea of the king who abdicates … which does a far better job at getting at the existence of evil and the absence of a god but because he understands love far better than we. and, from the history of spain, we have a very real anecdote of it.

        113. But religion becomes a pernicious, easily corrupted, Divinely-protected harbinger of evil when not read that way.
          Humanism gives you what you described (and so does Deep Ecology — if you want to get a bit washy about it). And it does it without the tenets so easily corruptible.

        114. I agree. But putting religion in to increase the number of steps justifying what we want to/should do is an unnecessarily corruptible extra step.

        115. all i can say is that i disagree and suggest all kinds of folks do all kinds of things.

          but, that’s not at all related to the article or what we’ve been talking about, is it?

        116. Well, peripherally. It is to do with the question of how we know about goodness. I think relying on religion is an unnecessary step that is open to corruption.

        117. Every living creature has desires. How is having desires a lack? No, having the power to fulfill a desire and not fulfilling it is not a negative thing; it can even be a good thing.

          I really like chocolate; I desire it. And I have enough money that I could buy more chocolate than I could eat. But I don’t, because in my opinion chocolate is overpriced, and even if I agreed with the price, too much chocolate would cause me problems.

        118. Oh, and yes, faith is a weak subset of knowledge. But if one is honest, one realizes that much that we think we know is actually a belief. Anything that you “know” that someone told you or you read in a book, and did not personally verify, is a “belief”. Much of it can be verified, but until YOU do, it is still a belief. Thus, it is not practical to eliminate belief from one’s life; all one can do is realize (and act on that realization) that a belief may be so, but it also may not be so.

        119. Of course, they ARE related, by definition.

          belief: thinking something to be the case, without there being (or without having access to) empirical evidence to prove that is the case.

          faith: a trust or confidence in something which is not certain

          You have FAITH in every BELIEF you have. They are similar; they are often used interchangeably even though faith is closer to a “feeling”, while belief is a subset of “knowledge”.

        120. Hi equippedcat

          Another is that there is another force which is hiding His existence, due to some agreement between the forces.

          This would imply dualism, two equal and opposing forces (one good, the other bad) pushing everything, and that this universe is the battlefield over which these opposing forces wage an endless war. This supposition is conspicuously incomplete. No evidence can be found to suggest there ever was—or still is—a loosely balanced war tumbling across Creation with the advantage swinging between the forces of light and happiness, and those of darkness and misery. Fire has always burned flesh, water has always drowned babies, and Creation has only ever exhibited but one impulse, one motive, one direction: towards increasing complexity, where complexity—across all systems, animate and inanimate—corresponds precisely to the degree and depth of potential suffering available to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited.

          Your description of a god who remains hidden because it enjoys “faith” indicates malevolence.

        121. Yes, that is what it implies, except for the “equal” part. Maybe they are equal, or maybe one is superior, but for some reason has agreed to not use that superiority. Consider the case of the martial arts instructor with a student. The instructor could wipe the floor with the student, but does not.

          There may be no evidence this is the case, but I don’t see any evidence this is not the case. As for your examples, yes, the natural laws of this environment tend to be followed. If they were not, then we might have the evidence we are lacking.

          Actually, it has been my experience that Nature strives for “chaos”, not “complexity”. What complexity exists appears to be the result of order we attempt to impose on Nature.

          Sorry, I don’t see how God setting things up so faith about Him is generated indicates malevolence. Just because you think it is bad does not mean it is.

        122. Hi cat

          Yes, that is what it implies, except for the “equal” part. Maybe they are equal, or maybe one is superior, but for some reason has agreed to not use that superiority.

          I’m sorry but if you’re going to posit omnipotence, then this proposition is nonsense.

          All you’re doing here is proffering excuses for why things are not as they should be if Creation had been fashioned by a benevolent hand, rather than a coherent argument for why things are as they are in the presence of a Creator.

          There may be no evidence this is the case, but I don’t see any evidence this is not the case.

          Nonsense. I’ve just shown you some. I can show you more, if you like. We do not, and have never seen paradigmatic shifts towards less complexity over time. That is a simple fact. Can you foresee a time in this world when an organism’s success might in fact be dependent on its politeness in asking permission to consume another organism? The thought is ludicrous. Creation is simply not orientated towards such outcomes. A lion will no sooner ask a gazelle for permission to eat it than a hoverfly larva will patiently await the milkweed aphid’s invitation to board its body and suck it dry.

          What complexity exists appears to be the result of order we attempt to impose on Nature.

          That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Shall I detail for you the passage of evolution from a single neuron to 100 billion?

          Sorry, I don’t see how God setting things up so faith about Him is generated indicates malevolence.

          That’s interesting. So you think a caring father should hide from his children?

          So, I ask you again, why would the Creator strive to maintain his anonymity?

        123. “omnipotence” is the ABILITY to do “anything”. Not the REQUIREMENT to do it.

          Excuses? Not so much. Possibilities. Oh, and who are we to say how Creation “should” be?

          Evidence? Oh, sorry, I must have missed it. Please provide one piece of evidence without obfuscation so I can recognize and evaluate it..

          Sorry I was not clear. It has been my observation that without human intervention, things seem to get “more random” rather than more organized. Ever let your yard go for a couple of months without attention? Ever seen anything which seems to “get better” without intervention? That is why I have a hard time accepting that we went from nothing to something, from something to life and from life to us with no guidance.

          I don’t know why God makes it impossible to prove his existence. Just because in a human it would be questionable, we cannot and should not infer the same is so for a being outside of the environment we are familiar with.

          If you want to know something about God, ask Him. He may tell you. More likely He will tell you to mind your own business.

        124. Why do you focus on just the human experience when you have the universe to study and appraise?

          But you are wrong. Human culture fosters complexity, and with complexity greater expressions of suffering are born.

        125. Epistemologically, can you see how that is completely bankrupt? We have no logical or factual basis for God, yet use the assumption of Its existence, nature and personal concerns to guide us.

        126. No, can’t see how it is “completely bankrupt”, although there is certainly potential for misusing the God concept.

          We do not have logical or factual basis for God, but we can have an experiential basis. And using God for guidance as long as the direction is not contrary to our personal morality is no more dangerous than relying on that personal morality alone. It is when one allows others to “speak for” God and override their own morality that the God concept becomes dangerous.

          I am against killing a cat. If someone tells me that God says I must kill a cat, I’m not going to obey them, and I probably will try to have nothing to do with that person. If God comes to me and tells me to kill a cat, I’m going to insist on incontrovertible evidence that He is God, and that killing the cat is “good”. And even then, I might not kill the cat.

          Yes, evil people use God to get stupid people to do horrible things. Note that evil people use other things (race, sex, money) to get stupid people to do horrible things as well.

  4. This was hard to follow with a lot of erratic twists and turns but I see no reason whatsoever why I should admit the relationship between perfection and goodness is our subjective choice…. nope, no reason at all. For fun, perhaps…but not seriously.

    I doubt I’d be inclined to offer Moral Argument regarding God in the way you’ve received them, but that may not matter at any rate…

      1. Because it would no longer be perfection. I mean, if we are not able or allowed–due to whatever philosophical encumbrance–to signify moral evil as at least flaw, defect or fault then I’d ask what is the meaning of moral evil?

        1. But that’s the point: we are discussing how we define good and evil. We are discussing it at the level where we are disarmed of the ability to discuss which is the flaw and which is the content of perfection. What if goodness is the flaw and evil is the right content? That’s the question we’re asking here.
          How can you tell, at this level, of someone swaps the content of goodness with evil?

  5. I like! The theology of Evil God is certainly developing.

    We are naturally repulsed by the idea of God consuming suffering. This is only natural from our vantage, but an example, oxygen, helps clarify the orientation of the Creator.

    We appreciate oxygen. We find it fulfilling. Raely, if ever, do we stop to consider the fact that we are consuming another organisms waste… It’s faeces.

    We are drinking in cyanobacteria’s faeces, but does this fact alter our need or appreciation for oxygen.

    So, just as cyanobacteria would find our oxygen diet repulsive, so too do we find the Creator’s diet distasteful.

  6. I’m not sure we are free to swap good and evil, though, might be another thing. How we define them may be one thing; swapping altogether another. Even if we are disarmed of the ability to tell, up is not down and this doesn’t even need to be disputed. We are not free to suddenly decide the atomic makeup of Nitrogen is the makeup of Hydrogen and vice versa. We are not free to decide circles are triangles. We are not free to decide the formula for bomb making will now be the formula for some vaccination. The laws of the physical universe are not a matter of our whims. I think you pointed this out, rightly and so you may have inadvertently, I think, answered your own question: Nearly so with Moral Laws.

    1. No, see all the things you just mentioned we have a way of validating. I’d argue that we have a way of validating morality to, but this post was aimed at the people who claim we have to defer to God: those people cannot validate which is which.

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