Thursday, August 25, 2011

Still no idea - 2

From last post with Maximum Awesome.
I will do my best to separate out our interactions under the categories he set out, and add two others of my own.

DISCUSSION 1: Objective morality.
What about "the degree to which systems of behaviour mutually satisfy all adult participants"? Wouldn't that rule out the "bad" behaviours you list, and rule in the good ones?

1) This would mean that kiddie porn rings are perfectly acceptable.
2) How in the world would this work in the real world for most anything (except kiddie porn rings)?  When are ALL adult participants "satisfied" in this fallen, messed-up world?  Aren't there always dissenters? By what standard and authority do you simply write them off and arbitrarily exclude them? You didn't tell us, which tells us --AGAIN-- that you have a different moral standard than the one you're expressing explicitly. And it seems to be nothing more or less than "That which is moral is what is in accord with my personal preferences".
3) Why SHOULD anyone else accept this moral standard? Where is your Pope of Morality badge to foist this moral standard on the rest of us?
4) Why not choose "the degree to which systems of behaviour mutually DISsatisfy all adult participants"? Why did you choose that which is more comfortable to you? Again you're letting your real motivations slip through the cracks. There's no a priori reason to accept satisfaction over dissatisfaction, pleasure over pain, survival over death, other than your personal preferences.
5) In fact, I bet there are situations about which you'd agree it's better not to achieve wide acceptance from other people, such as heroically standing up against a prevailing attitude of injustice. This causes dissatisfaction among the majority of people, and can lead to pain among everyone involved. One example would be opposing S African apartheid, or the American civil rights movement of the 1960s with Martin Luther King.
6) You say "the 'bad' behaviours" I listed. how do you know they are bad? Isn't that the very question at hand? Which you're, here, begging?
7) You put "bad" in quotes. May I take that to mean that you don't in actuality think that torturing children, creating a fascistic state, and killing all intellectuals and freethinkers are not really bad, but just "bad"? What does this even mean?  And why don't you live like that?



it was made clear to me that being a dick wasn't the way to go, for anybody.

This begs the question that "the way to go" = what people wanted you to do.
In essence, you caved to peer pressure. Why should that be an example for anyone else to follow?
How do you know that what you heard was right? To what did you compare it to make a correct judgment? It sounds like societal approval was, here, the very standard itself.
How do you know that following the path of less resistance in this case was the right move?
Why did you follow society's definition of "being a dick"?  Are we supposed to accept this as some sort of well-thought-out move on your part, which others should emulate because of your deep and profound reflections about it?



Unless I wanted to be a hunted maniac cackling in the deep woods while the FBI dogs searched for me, I'd have to "get along".

Notice that this is merely an argument from unsavory consequences.
You didn't want to be persecuted, so you acceded to others' demands. There is no principle here.



It's simply never occurred to me to wonder why genocide is "wrong"

I know, and that's probably one big reason you're a "possibilian" - you haven't ever thought deeply about these issues and realised your position's utter absurdity.
Now's your chance. I encourage you not to let the opportunity pass you by. Stop feeding yourself, and the rest of us, this pablum and actually deal with my questions, the ones I am asking, not the ones you wish I were asking.



I looked through a few of the archived discussions on your blog, and see that a few other people have expressed similar reactions - they get a few posts in before they realise that what seemed like a Socratic method is more like a five year old emptily repeating "why".

Oh yes, like the amazingly profound and thoughtful tracieh from the Atheist Experience, LOL.
Notice that the passage you quoted from her was nothing more than dismissive drivel. Where did she actually deal with my questions?



I'm starting to know how she feels

Imagine how stimulating our conversation would be if you actually started dealing with my questions the first time around, instead of requiring that I keep digging at you to get you to deal with the real issue!



You seem to think of morality as a top down set of rules held together by the authority of their author (etymology pun?), whereas Damion and I think of it as a system for "getting along" held together by its internal consistency.

Morality is defined as "what one OUGHT TO do", basically. How else to explain that besides an authority, a source of normativity?
You're assuming that "getting along" is an ought. I keep asking you to PROVE IT. Here's another chance.



>That's the naturalistic fallacy. 
I admit I've never heard of that before. So I looked it up. I don't find it compelling.

Oh, do tell. How precisely do you take an IS and turn it into an OUGHT?
As Darwinians like to say (in their naked appeals to authority) - how about you take your thoughts, write them up, and submit them to a philosophical journal? I'm sure the philosophical community would love to see Hume's Guillotine solved! You could be famous overnight!




If it is, in fact, "good" to torture, rape, kill, and exterminate each other, suffer for no reason, etc - so what? 
If that was what god wanted, would you do it?

This "if that was what God wanted, would you do it?" may sound sophisticated and trenchant, but it's actually 100% irrelevant. God's morality and laws exist above any obedience from His creation. Even if nobody ever obeyed His law at any time in any way, His law would be no more or less righteous and just than it is now.
At the risk of overwhelming you with proper theological reasoning, see here if you're really interested in the answer.



The term "good", in that sense, just seems empty and uninteresting to me. It's like asking how we know breathing is "fantabulous" - I don't care. What's "fantabulous"? Why is it "fantabulous" that I should care what "fantabulous" is? It's just a fatuous term that refers to nothing.

Then why did you frame your initial comments to me using those terms?
You don't really believe this. You're just backtracking to it now that your bluff has been called.
Example:
here's my problem, and maybe what I should have said in the first place - "the important thing" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*. Any person that did that would be reprehensible - but somehow it's good when god does it.
So is this what you meant?
here's my problem, and maybe what I should have said in the first place - "the BLAH" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*. Any person that did that would be BLAH - but somehow it's BLAH when god does it.
I can only assume that this is the only consistent way to take your initial comments to me.

Here's another one, ripe for filling in the blanks with what you really meant:

The overall vision of the world you seemed to paint for me *was*, in fact, simply nihilism - with the concomitant lack of reasons for "good" and "bad": the only addition you had made to nihilism, as far as I could see, was the far-more-horrifying introduction of the possibility of an infinity of suffering if we guess wrong about the nature of our situation, and an infinitely powerful, infinitely free agent (I said "entity" because the way you described said agent didn't sound like any god I've ever heard of) roaming through the universe, plucking living souls out of life and burning them forever as it felt like it.

What's so very funny/sad about this is it only took about 7 comments for you to fulfill precisely what I was saying, and which you had originally decried.
"Lack of reasons for 'good' and 'bad'" - you've just now demonstrated that this is exactly what you believe.
And given that, your complaints about the "infinitely powerful...entity...burning them forever as it felt like it" are meaningless, aren't they? So what? Is this a bad thing? Isn't "bad" the opposite of "good"? And as you said, in your view, the term "good", in that sense, just seems empty and uninteresting to you. It's like asking how we know breathing is "fantabulous" - you don't care. What's "fantabulous"? Why is it "fantabulous" that you should care what "fantabulous" is? It's just a fatuous term that refers to nothing.
So this stuff about God being mean for casting people into Hell... it's fatuous. So what? What's "bad"? Why is it "Bad" that you should (or shouldn't) care what "bad" is?

You're lost in a sea of autonomous cluelessness. Such is the fate of all those who reject the God Who created the universe in which you live.


I don't see why an invalid if invalidates ifs. "If" we want to catch a cold, we "ought" to lick doorknobs. Does that invalidate hygiene?

That's a far too simplistic restatement. It's not "invalidating 'if's". It's showing you that they're useless.
People have all sorts of desires. The whole "if" thing you've set up doesn't differentiate between "if"s - that's the problem. You have no way to know whether my "if"s are better than yours, even if my "if"s are based around (to take approximately the worst thing I can imagine) how I can achieve power over the maximum number of girls so as to rape and kill them whenever the mood strikes) and your "if"s are about feeding and clothing starving children and elderly.


why would I want to do brutal things?

B/c of personal preference, and nothing more.
My question was designed to reveal that you don't have a reason beyond your preferences and peer pressures and "upbringing".
See, that's not how *I* answer moral questions, thank God. I have an ultimate standard to which I can appeal, no matter what zilch cluelessly says.



DISCUSSION 2: Radical solipsism.
you're of course free to disagree, but I invite any third party readers to contemplate their own feelings of ambivalence regarding the relative worth of fortune cookie based decisions vs evidence.

Of course, this is no answer to my challenge. You're acting like an insecure bully who, after your ritual posturing of dominance didn't work, now appeals to his buddies for courage. This isn't a fight, of course, but you're turning around to your audience and asking "Right? Right?" and feeding off their imagined chuckles and snickers.
This doesn't assist you in actually answering the question, however. That's the main problem. How about you just answer it?


It's like saying a glass of water and the ocean are both "water", so how can you decide which one you'd rather drink without referring to supernatural authority?

I don't see how this analogy applies. I'd appreciate clarification.


There comes a point when "our spade is turned". My question to you would simply be: why is your spade-turn moment more valid than mine? You claim that, because god has such-and-such attributes, you know logic works - but how do you know he has those attributes?

Mine is more valid because it is internally consistent, while yours is internally INconsistent.
Mine answers the fundamental questions, and yours merely assumes them.
I have a coherent First Principle - God lives and speaks - and you don't.
I have every reason, given my First Principle, to think that I have access to truth using my cognitive faculties. You don't have any reason to think that.
I know He has those attributes b/c He spoke and revealed them.


And dear god, don't quote the bible at me

Tell you what - I won't quote the Bible as soon as you stop quoting YOUR Bible at ME. Stop aiming the utterances of your cognitive faculties and personal preferences at me until you justify them.
Oh wait, that's impossible.
Exactly.
It's impossible for me to reason apart from God, b/c He is the source and author of reason itself. He is the necessary precondition for all reasoning and rational thought.
You're doing the same thing as you think I'm doing, but you don't realise it.
If you disagree, give me some evidence that your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs, given your position's tenets and implications. Do us all a favor and make sure to analyse your answer in advance and ask yourself "Did I just make another set of blind-faith statements and naked assertions, or did I actually answer Rhology's questions?"



How do you know the bible didn't just randomly form out of nothing in the last few seconds, along with your false memories of it?

Here you go.
You have a far bigger problem with that question than I do.


MAX 2: "when confronted with multiple spade-turn moments, we pick the option requiring the least faith".

1) How do you know that is right and true?
2) How do you measure "least" vs "most" faith? What is your standard?
Can't you see how, as you continue to explore your rebellious and autonomous 'reasoning', you keep raising more crippling questions than you're answering?



(My own addendum)
DISCUSSION 3: Defining the Christian position
I invite you to post "only a religion of scapegoat human sacrifice can provide a standard of morality" on your blog header.

1) I'd be happy to do so, if it were true.
Christianity is far, far more than what you said, for one thing.
Also, it's not just "a" religion. It's THE TRUE religion, the one God revealed. Christianity has no value unless it comes from God.
2) The statement's content is not actually true. ANYone can provide "a standard of morality". The challenge I've been making to you is to provide one that is beyond:
   a. Your own personal preferences (ie, show me your Pope of Morality badge)
   b. Fallacious appeals to IS to get OUGHT
   c. Counting noses (ie, appeal to societal approval, as you imagine it) (which is, of course, a mere argumentum ad populum)

The question here is, once you give your your standard, whether your standard is correct and has any value.
By that virtue, Christianity's standard is of infinite value and truth, since it is based in an infinitely knowledgeable and good Creator.



>>God is always justified in putting anyone to death whenever He wants. You and other humans are not so justified. 
The idiom "above the law" means "exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else."
The condition you've described for god is *exactly* "above the law".

You didn't say how He is above the law, so there's nothing to do here.
To explain what I think you're saying: Since God is justified in putting anyone to death at any time, He obeys His law perfectly, since the law is "Don't unjustifiably kill".
Such is not true of humans. We're not God.



In what sense is he the definition of goodness if he does things that aren't "good" (scapegoat human sacrifice)?

On Christianity, the sacrifice of Jesus was the good-est thing that was ever done - the ultimate expression of God's love for His rebellious and evil people.
I'm not sure what this question is meant to express.



(My own addendum)
MINI-DISCUSSION 4 - Odds and ends
If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million. "

1) Even if that were true, it still requires much more effort to kill 100 million than to kill 100.
2) You forget that y'all education-idolaters like to claim that, with education, anything is possible and massive advances are just over the horizon. Has the entire world ever been at war before?
3) More than just "war" occurred during the 20th century. Remember the massive genocidal projects, beyond the scope of anything attempted before. Done in the name of "scientific progress"?

186 comments:

zilch said...

Rho says: I have an ultimate standard to which I can appeal, no matter what zilch cluelessly says.

Well, Rho, you can't blame me for being clueless, at least not in this case, but it's not for want of asking: check out this thread again. Notice where I ask you for your definition of "objective morals", and note that you simply ignore the question.

But I'm happy to ask again: what exactly are these "objective morals" of yours? Are they a set of words? Or are they thoughts in God's mind? Or are they actions? Are morals some kind of information? Are they all in the Bible, or are some of them things God tells you? Is there any way of knowing who has the right interpretation of these "objective" morals in every case? How can anyone be sure they understand them correctly? Unless you can answer all these questions, I suggest giving up any claim for possessing "objective morality".

No, Rho, you're rowing the same boat we all are: morals are a can of worms, and there are no easy answers, although there are lots of generally agreed upon principles. Some are even found in the Bible (and other places), for instance the Golden Rule. But none of them can be shown to be absolute, and there is no set of rules or religion that will guarantee a perfect society (whatever that might mean)- or can you show me some examples of such?

cheers from sweltering Vienna, zilch

Maximum Awesome said...

Rho,
I think we're getting somewhere now. We understand where the other is coming from, and we should be able to reach a consensus - which I think will involve rephrasing our contentions without changing them.
>Of course, this is no answer to my challenge ... That's the main problem. How about you just answer it?
I misunderstood your challenge at first: I thought it was discussion 1, objective morality. My definition of morality, as I've said, involves human cooperation, so I mistakenly thought you were proposing a discussion narrower in scope.
But I've lately come to understand that your challenge is broader and emptier - "how do you have any basis to escape the slippery well of solipsism without accepting my religious views"? I would say that this second question dilutes the impact of the first question, but I've answered them both below, with more detail to follow.
So: my central claims, regarding our two discussions:
MAX'S PROPOSED RESOLUTION 1. The central element of all the behaviours you bring forth as examples of badness is a disregard for the wishes of some conscious entity (since you believe in him, you may count god as a conscious entity). Find me an example of badness that doesn't involve this. If you can't, you must accept that Max1 is a sufficient rule against every human behaviour you see as bad, and discussion 1 is over.
MAX'S PROPOSED RESOLUTION 2. The radical-solipsism argument you're putting forward attacks the foundations of math, science, hygiene ... literally every human endeavour - *exactly as much* as it attacks morality. Therefore, you must accept that your common argument - "we can't rule out raping little girls without jesus" - is just as meaningless as the argument "we can't rule out 2+2=5 without jesus." If you accept that these two arguments are equivalent, the grip of discussion 2 on discussion 1 is over. As I've stated, I wasn't trying to prove anything else in discussion 2, and didn't realise you were trying to.
and, less important:
POSITIVE VS NEGATIVE STATEMENTS:
>I'd like to turn the question back around to the skeptic now. How do YOU know last Tuesday-ism isn't true?
"Know" is the wrong word here. It's like asking how we know the next step we take isn't going to blow up the planet: we don't. But we don't *have* to know, to disregard it as a possibility that would prohibit our taking said step: we have NO REASON TO BELIEVE IT IS TRUE.
We don't have to positively prove the absence of these problems, just because they can be phrased: we just have to have a lack of good reasons to believe in them.

Maximum Awesome said...

DISCUSSION 1
>1) This would mean that kiddie porn rings are perfectly acceptable.
a) Kiddie porn can't be made without nonconsenting adults.
b) If we're talking about drawings, writings, etc, then kiddie porn is bad inasmuch as it's encouraging fantasies about bad behaviour, much like "genocide porn" or "torture/murder porn". The question of whether adults should be allowed to publicly fantasize about horrible acts is a gray area, but I'll explain why grayness doesn't invalidate black/whiteness in the next number.
>2) How in the world would this work in the real world for most anything (except kiddie porn rings)?  When are ALL adult participants "satisfied" in this fallen, messed-up world? ... By what standard and authority do you simply write them off and arbitrarily exclude them?

I don't. I suppose a corollary is that "no moral system is perfect". Good and bad are as objective as black and white, but reality continually offers us shades of grey - which still depend on the objective separation between black and white.
In the same way "no system is perfectly hygienic": it's possible to formulate an ideal, but events continually get in the way, unless you live in an airtight bubble (or a bubble of dogma).
Nonetheless, shades of gray depend on an objective difference between black and white. The more satisfied all participants are, the more moral the system is. Drinking one glass of urine is more hygienic than drinking two - it's not absolutely hygienic, but if those are the choices, we still have an "objective" basis to differentiate.
Now, while there are complex areas and possible wiggle room for bad-faith interpretations of this rule, it does rule out rape, genocide, murder, torture, etc, pretty easily. If you want to criticse me for the wiggle room, I can only criticise you for the scapegoat human sacrifice and genocide you've explicitly stated are sometimes justified:
>(Rho, last post) There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified,

So, it seems to me the only objection you've raised to Max1 is "it's not inflexibly absolute". We can still say one shade of gray is darker than another: it's still *objective*, just not *absolute*.
>3) Why SHOULD anyone else accept this moral standard? Where is your Pope of Morality badge to foist this moral standard on the rest of us?

Why should people accept a standard that's the most likely to get them what they want, by definition? The question kind of answers itself.
But, note, I'm not "foisting": I'm articulating what we both already know.
You've said that my moral system comes from your religion, only I don't acknowledge that origin: I claim it comes from simple human cooperation, only you're not acknowledging *that* origin.
But whichever place it comes from, NEITHER OF US IS CLAIMING THE OTHER DOESN'T SHARE IT FOR THE MOST PART. We just disagree about the basis: you claim moral rules are simply divine fiat, and I think they have something in common beyond a common origin.

Maximum Awesome said...

>4) Why not choose "the degree to which systems of behaviour mutually DISsatisfy all adult participants"? Why did you choose that which is more comfortable to you? 

Not just me: it's more comfortable to everybody. By definition.
And I didn't choose it: I tried to fit it to the facts: the moral system we both acknowledge we (mostly) share. I'm trying to come up with an explanation, not generate new commandments.
To rephrase, because I think this is an important point you're not getting: I'm not coming up with rules out of my own head. I'm trying to explain what I already see, in the form of my own preexisting moral judgements.
>(4, continued) There's no a priori reason to accept satisfaction over dissatisfaction, pleasure over pain, survival over death, other than your personal preferences.

Your use of "a priori" here is equivalent to my "fantabulous".
I simply don't care. Why would I? There's no reason to care - by definition: I can't care about my lack of an a priori reason for caring, so I don't.
More on this in discussion 2, because talk about "a priori reasons" is solipsism stuff, not (by my definition) morality stuff.

>5) In fact, I bet there are situations about which you'd agree it's better not to achieve wide acceptance from other people, such as heroically standing up against a prevailing attitude of injustice. This causes dissatisfaction among the majority of people, and can lead to pain among everyone involved. One example would be opposing S African apartheid, or the American civil rights movement of the 1960s with Martin Luther King.

Apartheid and segregation were bad moral systems because they dissatisfied people. Saying that getting rid of them made people uncomfortable is no more a disqualification of Max1 than saying giving an anaphylactic kid an epipen injection is harming him because it damages the skin of his arm.

>6) You say "the 'bad' behaviours" I listed. how do you know they are bad? Isn't that the very question at hand? Which you're, here, begging?

I'm not begging the question - I'm trying to articulate why we both know those behaviours are bad. Which we do.
If we walk through a forest and come out itching, we can admit that we don't know why and still try to find out: which plant was it? We know we're both itching: it must have been something.
Likewise, if we both know behaviours are bad and haven't formulated a rule, I can still arrange them in those categories and try to find out what they have in common.
>7) You put "bad" in quotes. May I take that to mean that you don't in actuality think that torturing children, creating a fascistic state, and killing all intellectuals and freethinkers are not really bad, but just "bad"? What does this even mean?  And why don't you live like that?

I put bad in quotes to show I'm using your term, with my explanation.
It's as if you followed the rules of kosher, and I tried to show why "un-kosher" foods actually are bad (raw meat, etc). We both think they're bad, but only you like the term "kosher": I need to use the term so you know what I'm referring to, but I'm trying to show I don't accept your definition of it.
***

Maximum Awesome said...

>It sounds like societal approval was, here, the very standard itself. ... Are we supposed to accept this as some sort of well-thought-out move on your part, which others should emulate because of your deep and profound reflections about it?

All sane people already emulate the broad outline of childhood I've described. Unless you grew up in a dungeon, you went through a similar process - though the "rules" may have been explained to you in explicitly religious terms (I don't know your personal history), I would argue that a very similar set of rules are necessary for any human cooperation at all.
I didn't describe my childhood moral development to try to talk other people into imitating it: I described it to show how obvious and necessary it was. That you would think I was trying to coerce/cajole/preach shows how alien our thought processes are from each other.
***

DISCUSSION 2: RADICAL SOLIPSISM
>if you actually started dealing with my questions the first time around, instead of requiring that I keep digging at you to get you to deal with the real issue!
If you'd stated up front that morality was relative in the same way evidence vs fortune cookies is relative, we could have saved some time. See proposed resolution 2.
>Morality is defined as "what one OUGHT TO do", basically. How else to explain that besides an authority, a source of normativity?
>You're assuming that "getting along" is an ought. I keep asking you to PROVE IT. Here's another chance.

Yeah - that's your definition of morality, though. Its ground floor is "your religion as the only alternative to solipsism", which I see as absurd, and that's why I created these two discussions.
As Damion and I have mentioned, we have a different definition: rules to enable cooperation. And it's possible to frame a logically coherent set thereof that rules out rape, genocide, murder, etc, while simply ignoring the "problem" of solipsism. Which I did.
I see morality as dealing with systems of interaction between living beings. If you'd like, you can put quotation marks around morality when referring to my definition, or call it morality2 or something.
But as you've stated it, your morality should apply to every possible activity: how do we know we OUGHT to drink water when we're thirsty? There's no a priori reason to value refreshment over parchedness, therefore atheists can't say drinking is better than dying of dehydration.
That's what I mean by "fantabulous": it's a pointless argument.

Maximum Awesome said...

ODDS AND ENDS
***
>Oh, do tell. How precisely do you take an IS and turn it into an OUGHT?

That's not what the naturalistic fallacy is.
From wikipedia (feel free to name an alternative source):

"The naturalistic fallacy ... was described and named by British philosopher G. E. Moore in his 1903 book Principia Ethica. Moore stated that a naturalistic fallacy is committed whenever a philosopher attempts to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definitionof the term "good" in terms of one or more natural properties (such as "pleasant", "more evolved", "desired", etc.) ... The naturalistic fallacy is related to (and even confused with) the is–ought problem, which comes fromHume's Treatise."
***
>This "if that was what God wanted, would you do it?" may sound sophisticated and trenchant, but it's actually 100% irrelevant. God's morality and laws exist above any obedience from His creation. Even if nobody ever obeyed His law at any time in any way, His law would be no more or less righteous and just than it is now. 

I think you've misunderstood my question: I was asking if you, Rho, would cause random suffering (torture and rape little girls, say, or value fortune cookies above evidence, insist that 2+2=5 if the bible said so) if it was what god wanted. I wasn't asking if the laws need to be obeyed to exist.
***
>(ME)The term "good", in that sense, just seems empty and uninteresting to me.  (YOU)Then why did you frame your initial comments to me using those terms?

I used the term in the sense I understood it. In the sense the naturalistic fallacy means it, it becomes empty and absurd. Whenever I put "good" in quotes, it's to show that I'm using it in the naturalistic fallacy sense (like "fantabulous").
***
>here's my problem, and maybe what I should have said in the first place - "the BLAH" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*. Any person that did that would be BLAH - but somehow it's BLAH when god does it.

In the past, you've asked me why I put terms like "good" and "bad" in quotes: it's to avoid precisely this confusion: when I put quotes around words, it's to show I'm using your definitions.
You've stated "scapegoat human sacrifice" is what god does. I'm also assuming you'd see it as wrong for a person to do (feel free to correct me). Therefore, the entity you hold up as ultimately good is doing something which would not be good if a person did it. My use of the terms is in quotes to indicate I'm using your definitions.
Let's make this an official proposal:
Max 9: Just because I don't believe in your terms, doesn't mean I can't use your terms to show what I see as an inconsistency in the system you're proposing.
If you disagree - and you seem to - please explain how.
If I say dying of thirst is fantabulous, and you disagree, you'll probably have to use the term "fantabulous" to express your disagreement - so, by definition, you won't accept that term in the sense I'm using it.
***

Maximum Awesome said...

>You didn't say how He is above the law, so there's nothing to do here.
>To explain what I think you're saying: Since God is justified in putting anyone to death at any time, He obeys His law perfectly, since the law is "Don't unjustifiably kill". 
>Such is not true of humans. We're not God.

Napoleon drafts a law that "nobody may non-napoleonically kill." Is he placing himself above the law?
***
>MINI-DISCUSSION 4 - Odds and ends
>If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical >tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million. "

>1) Even if that were true, it still requires much more effort to kill 100 million than to kill 100.

There are more killers and more killed, but a smaller percentage of each. It's an absolute increase, but a proportional decrease.

>2) You forget that y'all education-idolaters like to claim that, with education, anything is possible and massive advances are just over the horizon. Has the entire world ever been at war before?

No. But even when it wasn't, a larger percentage of people died in the wars that did happen.

>3) More than just "war" occurred during the 20th century. Remember the massive genocidal projects, beyond the scope of anything attempted before. Done in the name of "scientific progress"?

a) There were also beneficial scientific projects.
b) Not everything done "in the name of" something is done for that thing, as I'm sure a self styled christian knows (ie, would you agree with everything done in the name of jesus?).
c) My point in bringing this study up, which you haven't refuted, is that the 20thC actually involved less wholesale slaughter, by percentage (ie any one person had a lesser chance of death by war/genocide etc) than life in the past had.
***
Zilch: your characterisation of Rho's approach is about right, but I think you may be selling us non-Rho-ists short by saying we don't see an objective difference between rape and consensual sex. Your thoughts?

Maximum Awesome said...

*edit: To rephrase, because I think this is an important point you're not getting: I'm not trying to come up with a new set of rules out of my own head: I'm trying to explain what the preexisting rules that we already follow have in common.

Maximum Awesome said...

Stuff I forgot to mention:

>Morality is defined as "what one OUGHT TO do", basically

Ought I find 2+2 to equal four?
Ought I value evidence over fortune cookies?
Ought I drink water when I'm thirsty?
If these are not worthy uses of ought, why not?
As I've said, "ought" is simply a grammatical form: it's not an attribute of concepts/behaviours that can be found in the world. There is no "ought" in the same way there is no "have" (ie I have gone to the bank) - it's just a consequence of the way our language is set up. It does not refer to external/nonlinguistic reality.

>I know He has those attributes b/c He spoke and revealed them.

How do you know you haven't misinterpreted/hallucinated? I've heard you try to turn the question around, and I've dealt with it in my first comment on this post (negative vs positive statements - radical doubt/last tuesdayism doesn't need formal disproof, just a lack of reasons to be taken seriously)- but how do you deal with the question of how you can be sure states in your brain represent the world in any sense, besides by trying to turn the question around when it's asked of you?

At some point, your brain interfaces with the means by which you deduce god's existence/plans/whathaveyou: how can you trust that mental joining point?

I read your post about how questioning your interpretation of the bible is equivalent to questioning the basis by which we can have a shared language: but you're just turning the question around again.

Rhology said...

zilch,
I "ignored" your question because that's what the whole post was about. Why in the world would I simply repost the contents of that post in a comment when you didn't read it or care enough to understand it?


what exactly are these "objective morals" of yours? Are they a set of words?

From the post:
I think WL Craig's explanation of what he means by "objective moral values" is very helpful. Paraphrased from memory, it's "by objective moral values I mean that they are true independent of whether anyone believes them or not". So that would more closely align with your former proposition: if it is a statement which accurately describes the arrangement of objects in time and space. Close, that is, b/c although obviously I quibble with the "time and space" part of it, the truth value of the statement "I am sitting on a chair right now" (which has to do with the arrangement of objects in time and space) is equal to the truth value of the statement "idolatry is never morally justifiable"...
Anyway, it's also interesting that the moral statements to which I refer, ie God's moral laws/commands, are also decisions in the mind of God, so in a way, they are both.

No they are not a "set of words". That's how they're communicated, but that's not their ontology.

Yes, they are thoughts in God's mind.

They REFER TO and JUDGE actions. They are not in their ontology actions.

Yes, they are information.

They are conceptual. They are standards.
So yes, they are in the Bible, yes they are things God tells us, both, because the Bible is God telling us stuff.
No there is no way to know who has the right interp of them in EVERY case. Just in most cases.


How can anyone be sure they understand them correctly?

Because words mean things.


Unless you can answer all these questions, I suggest giving up any claim for possessing "objective morality".

OK. Fortunately, I did answer them all.


there are no easy answers

On atheism there are no answers at all, easy or hard.


But none of them can be shown to be absolute

What does this sentence mean?


there is no set of rules or religion that will guarantee a perfect society (whatever that might mean)

I love it - you object and then in the same sentence you admit you have no idea what your own objection means. This is funny stuff.
Fortunately, the Christian does know what a perfect society is, and when and under what circumstances it will occur. Revelation 21-22.

Providing you an example would be useless since you just told us you don't know what a perfect society would be.

Rhology said...

Hi Maximum Awesome,

The central element of all the behaviours you bring forth as examples of badness is a disregard for the wishes of some conscious entity

Yes, but so what? Who says that "wishes" have some moral value?
Remember, we're discussing morality ON POSSIBILIANISM.
Asking moral questions of Christianity is totally different.



you must accept that Max1 is a sufficient rule against every human behaviour you see as bad

Even if there were some matchup there, I don't recognise your authority to dictate moral precepts to the rest of us.



The radical-solipsism argument you're putting forward attacks the foundations of math, science, hygiene ... literally every human endeavour

Argument from unsavory consequences.
Besides, that's hardly my problem - Christianity provides the sufficient preconditions for all of those things. I'm challenging you to do the same for your own worldview.



we have NO REASON TO BELIEVE (last Tuesday-ism) IS TRUE.

You also have no reason beyond blind faith to believe it ISN'T true.




a) Kiddie porn can't be made without nonconsenting adults.

Yes they can. The kids involved aren't adults. I'm surprised this missed you.



>>By what standard and authority do you simply write them off and arbitrarily exclude them?

I don't. I suppose a corollary is that "no moral system is perfect".


So how do we know when it is operating correctly and when incorrectly, if you don't have a standard for correction?
Yet you later said:
it's possible to formulate an ideal

So what is the ideal?




If you want to criticse me for the wiggle room, I can only criticise you for the scapegoat human sacrifice and genocide you've explicitly stated are sometimes justified:

You simply must stop this.
I don't have the same kind of wiggle room that you do. You can't tell me whether these things are good or bad.
Your cited examples of genocide and sacrifice are not morally bad; you have to prove they are. Don't merely repeat yourself. Give an argument.



>(Rho, last post) There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified,

Yes, and wwwwhhhhyyyyy were those instances justified?


Napoleon drafts a law that "nobody may non-napoleonically kill." Is he placing himself above the law?

Above that law, yes.
This is not hard to grasp; I don't know what your problem is.



Why should people accept a standard that's the most likely to get them what they want, by definition? The question kind of answers itself.

Yes, it tells us what people want, not whether what they desire is morally right.
It also doesn't tell us why they SHOULD. At most it tells us why they WOULD.
All this time and you're still not really close to figuring out your problem.



But, note, I'm not "foisting": I'm articulating what we both already know.

Oh, really? You're not laying out "should"s and such without any moral authority? I think I've seen you do that a few times.

Rhology said...

(2nd)
You've said that my moral system comes from your religion, only I don't acknowledge that origin:

Yes, and that's the problem - you don't acknowledge the constant plagiarism in which you're engaging.
You have no reason to think these things are bad, but you do. Why? Because you bear the image of God and a conscience from Him, so, though twisted up and marred, you still recognise things are bad and veer away from them.
Given your stated morality you have no reason to reject them, but you do reject them anyway. It's because you keep stealing from my worldview.



Not just me: it's more comfortable to everybody. By definition.

Again you arbitrarily exclude those who don't fit into your box.
Yet you haven't even thought about this - much of moral theory is based around protection from others and what we should not do to each other.
There are those whom we call criminals and those who oppress. It's not more comfortable FOR THEM, neither in practice nor by definition.
Account for EVERYTHING, not your specific subset of the data.



I think this is an important point you're not getting: I'm not coming up with rules out of my own head.

Now you're just pulling wool over my eyes, but I'm not going to accept the lie you're peddling. It's clear that's precisely what you're doing.



I simply don't care. Why would I? There's no reason to care - by definition: I can't care about my lack of an a priori reason for caring, so I don't.

OK, then I don't care about human sacrifice and child torture and genocide. Fair's fair, right?



Apartheid and segregation were bad moral systems because they dissatisfied people.

1) I simply don't care. Why would I? There's no reason to care - by definition.
2) They dissatisfied the minority. More people were dissatisfied by their removal.
Again your ideals fail.




>6) You say "the 'bad' behaviours" I listed. how do you know they are bad? Isn't that the very question at hand? Which you're, here, begging?

If we walk through a forest and come out itching, we can admit that we don't know why and still try to find out: which plant was it?


Another argument from unsavory consequence.



As Damion and I have mentioned, we have a different definition: rules to enable cooperation.

But when are you going to tell me how you know that 'cooperation' is morally praiseworthy?

Rhology said...

(3rd)
your morality should apply to every possible activity: how do we know we OUGHT to drink water when we're thirsty?

It's so funny that you do that.
But now you're just back where we started, so I'll answer you the same way.
The whole "if" thing you've set up doesn't differentiate between "if"s - that's the problem. You have no way to know whether my "if"s are better than yours, even if my "if"s are based around (to take approximately the worst thing I can imagine) how I can achieve power over the maximum number of girls so as to rape and kill them whenever the mood strikes) and your "if"s are about feeding and clothing starving children and elderly.


Ought I find 2+2 to equal four?

On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.


Ought I value evidence over fortune cookies?

On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.


Ought I drink water when I'm thirsty?

On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.

Now, how about this?
Ought you kill an old lady for her wallet?
On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.

Ought you not torture little girls for fun?
On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.


There is no "ought" in the same way there is no "have"

So it's not true that one ought not commit genocide or commit human sacrifice. Right?



How do you know you haven't misinterpreted/hallucinated?

1) Here's one side of it. I know because Jesus is trustworthy and He has made it clear to me that He is real.
2) How will I explain TO SOMEONE ELSE that what I know is true is in fact true?
See here.
See here.
See here.

In short, the impossibility of the contrary. It quite literally does not matter if this is true, if this is true.
Nothing matters, and that includes the statement "atheism is true", if atheism is true.


how can you trust that mental joining point?

B/c of God's promises.
What do you have that even comes close?
Don't bother answering - we both know it is precisely nothing at all.

Maximum Awesome said...

Rho,

I think we've reached the resolutions I predicted earlier. I'll list them, then clear up some misconceptions.

>Ought I find 2+2 to equal four?

>On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
>Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.


>Ought I value evidence over fortune cookies?

>On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
>Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.


>Ought I drink water when I'm thirsty?

>On atheism, no, for that would be committing the naturalistic fally.
>Neither is it true that you ought NOT. There is no overarching ought.
"

RESOLUTION 1: the point you've been trying to make over the course of our exchanges is "secular moral values - that is, the maximisation of the degree to which moral systems provide agreeable results to all parties - are just as objective as truth values in mathematics, the valuing of evidence over fortune cookies, and the value of a glass of water when thirsty."
I can accept that phrasing. Sound right to you?
***
>(me) The central element of all the behaviours you bring forth as examples of badness is a disregard for the wishes of some conscious entity (you) Yes, but so what? Who says that "wishes" have some moral value?
Well, can you give me an example of an immoral act (as you define it) that doesn't involve one entity acting in a way that is not mutually beneficial to other entities? You haven't yet.
If you can't, I claim
RESOLUTION 2: Morality concerns interactions between living beings: moral actions are mutually beneficial, immoral actions are not.
As resolution 1 establishes, you can say that there's nothing fantabulous about mutual beneficiality - but you can't say that the rule of "mutual beneficiality amongst consenting adults" is a) not objective, or b) does not rule out any act that you would call immoral.
If you feel these resolutions, as phrased, give you a victory, I can only say that we were not aiming for the same target from the beginning.

Maximum Awesome said...

ODDS AND ENDS
>a) Kiddie porn can't be made without nonconsenting adults.

>Yes they can. The kids involved aren't adults. I'm surprised this missed you.

I spoke unclearly: what I should have said was "kiddie porn is immoral because it involves people who are not consenting adults."
***
>6) You say "the 'bad' behaviours" I listed. how do you know they are bad? Isn't that the very question at hand? Which you're, here, begging? 

>If we walk through a forest and come out itching, we can admit that we don't know why and still try to find out: which plant was it? 

>Another argument from unsavory consequence. 

No - what? If we admit we both itch, after walking through the same forest, we can try to figure out which tree *made* us itch.
If we admit we share a moral system, we can try to figure out why that system makes sense without presupposing a reason for it to make sense.
***
>I don't. I suppose a corollary is that "no moral system is perfect".

>So how do we know when it is operating correctly and when incorrectly, if you don't have a standard for correction?
>Yet you later said:
>it's possible to formulate an ideal

>So what is the ideal?

This is what I was trying to get across with my example of shades of gray: we can still say one shade is lighter than another (more like white) even if it isn't pure white.
There's a standard (white) that is reached, to greater or lesser degrees, by varying shades of gray.
There's a standard (mutual beneficiality) that is reached, to greater or lesser degrees, by varying human moral systems.
If there's no 100% answer, the best one is the one that is the closest to 100% - the most mutually beneficial.
There can be more or less without necessarily being zero or infinity. Objectivity can exist on a gradient.
***
>(Rho, last post) There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified,

>Yes, and wwwwhhhhyyyyy were those instances justified?

I'm not sure what you mean by this: I don't think genocide's ever been justified. I was quoting you.
***

Maximum Awesome said...

>we have NO REASON TO BELIEVE (last Tuesday-ism) IS TRUE.

>You also have no reason beyond blind faith to believe it ISN'T true.

Do you know what I mean by the difference between positive and negative claims? You don't seem to.
Just because a radically skeptical challenge can be phrased, doesn't mean it requires an actual disproof if it has nothing to recommend it.
I can only refer you, and any third parties, back to the point you're responding to.
In any case, a corollary of resolution 1 is that your accusations that my morality is relative are just as meaningful as your accusations that I can't be sure the universe was not created last tuesday. *Just as* meaningful: no more, no less.
***
>Napoleon drafts a law that "nobody may non-napoleonically kill." Is he placing himself above the law?
>Above that law, yes. 
>This is not hard to grasp; I don't know what your problem is.

Yes, by "the" law I did mean "that" law.
Now let's say he phrases every law in that way: nobody may non-napoleonically steal, rape, commit arson, etc.
Now he's above every law.
How is that not what god does? By prefacing every prohibitive commandment with "unjustifiedly", he's definitionally placing himself above them.
And if that is what god does, he's not just above all laws - he's above all laws, by definition.
I agree that it's not hard to grasp. I don't understand why you were saying that god wasn't above the law. You've been saying that he's above them all, by definition.

I can still ask you what you consider good even if you don't think I can judge things to be good or bad myself, right?

So if god raped a little girl, would you be okay with it? Please note that my lack of a basis for moral judgments is not the question: I'm asking you if you would consider it good/justified/etc if god raped a little girl.
***
And lastly, and perhaps most amazingly:
RHOLOGY HAS NO CONCEPTION AT ALL OF WHAT SOLIPSISM EVEN IS.
>(ME) How do you know you haven't misinterpreted/hallucinated?

>(YOU) 1) Here's one side of it. I know because Jesus is trustworthy and He has made it clear to me that He is real.
...
>(ME) how can you trust that mental joining point?

>(YOU) B/c of God's promises.

How has he made it clear to you? Why is clear more useful for your conclusion than unclear? How do you know god's promises are what you think they are? How do you know any experience you've ever had, or ever could have, reflects anything other than noise in your head?
My answer to soliptic challenges like these is simple: the burden of proof is on the person proposing them, and I haven't seen any yet.
Your answer is the one that's really lacking: you know your experiences reflect something beyond yourself because ... of the data you've received from something beyond yourself.
The "argument from solipsism" is literally the only argument you've put forward, and you don't even seem to understand it.

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maximum Awesome said...

>(ME) you must accept that Max1 is a sufficient rule against every human behaviour you see as bad

>(YOU) Even if there were some matchup there, I don't recognise your authority to dictate moral precepts to the rest of us.

I'm not dictating rules people SHOULD follow.
I'm describing the reasons for the rules you and I (and many others) ALREADY follow.

Why can't you grasp the distinction?

If you and I both say we like watermelons and cantaloupes, and I say "hey, maybe it's because those are both melons", I'm not dictating to you that you should like melons.


>Yet you haven't even thought about this - much of moral theory is based around protection from others and what we should not do to each other.
>There are those whom we call criminals and those who oppress. >It's not more comfortable FOR THEM, neither in practice nor by definition.

>(ME)Apartheid and segregation were bad moral systems because they dissatisfied people.

>(YOU)They dissatisfied the minority. More people were dissatisfied by their removal.

Fair questions. I have answers.

Oppression by mob rule doesn't satisfy the oppressed.
Criminal behaviour doesn't satisfy the victimised.

If a person's satisfaction depends upon depriving another person of satisfaction, it violates the rule I'm proposing as an objective moral standard.

If what you want is to give someone else what they want, then okay.
If what you want is to give someone else something they're just okay with, then okay.
If what you want is to give someone else something they don't want, that's the problem.

The moral reasoning isn't applied after the act ("let's vote on that rape").

Or, to put it another way: democracy is, in itself, good. Slavery was not. Just because a good thing (democracy) is layered over a bad thing (slavery) doesn't mean the situation, overall, is okay.

Chemist said...

This caught my attention...

Ought I find 2+2 to equal four?
Ought I value evidence over fortune cookies?
Ought I drink water when I'm thirsty?
If these are not worthy uses of ought, why not?


Of course they are worthy uses of "ought", but you are using them in different senses. The point here is a moral ought. Other versions of ought, such as aesthetic or rational, should not be conflated with this sense.

The crux of the issue is that morality should be able to do three things:

1. Give us moral values. That is, a good theory of morality should provide us with a way of distinguishing good from evil.
2. Give us moral duties. It must tell us what we ought and ought not do. Note that I am not speaking of things like, "to have maximum rhythym in this music you ought to start the drum beat now" or "you ought to brush your teeth given the findings of the American Dental Association". Those are examples of aesthetic and rational "oughts", respectively.
3. Give us moral accountability. There must some reason why moral rules should be followed.

The argument that Rhology is giving is that on aetheism there is no morality, for it is incapable of distinguishing good and evil. Furthermore, there simply is no good reason to believe that there are any moral duties on atheism and there certainly isn't any overarching moral authority, especially in light of the eventual heat death of the universe. I agree with this assessment. There is no foundation for morality on atheism, especially materialism.

This conversation has been rather rambling, so I haven't read through all of the comments. I gather you aren't a moral skeptic and certainly not a Christian. Do you claim some version of materialism or Platonism? You may have already stated this, but I didn't catch it my quick skim of these posts.

Chemist said...

I also am interested in the claim that we can use evidence to define a moral system. This needs fleshed out for me. What type of evidence and evidence of what?

Again, may be elsewhere, but it is buried.

Maximum Awesome said...

Hi Chemist,

I'm sorry to hear that our exchange is as unreadable to nonparticipants as I'd feared.

I've tried to address your concerns here, to avoid cluttering up Rho's comments:

http://maxawesomestuff.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-does-morality-require-oughts.html

chemist said...

Not unreadable. Just long, and I am too lazy to digest through the threads fully.

Maximum Awesome said...

Well, not literally unreadable, just too repetitive to be worth reading. Inaccessible.

In any case, I've tried to address your objections in a more linear way on the post to which I've linked.

Rhology said...

RESOLUTION 1:
the point you've been trying to make over the course of our exchanges is "secular moral values - that is, the maximisation of the degree to which moral systems provide agreeable results to all parties - are just as objective as truth values in mathematics, the valuing of evidence over fortune cookies, and the value of a glass of water when thirsty."

No, not at all.
That's what YOU have been saying more or less. You've been posting OUGHTs and I keep asking you to back them up with evidence that these things are true, that you have more than either:
-an IS, or
-a proclamation made by nothing more than your own authority, stemming from nothing more than your own personal preferences.

You have repeatedly failed to give such a substantiation, though you have ignored the request a few times and also merely dismissed the question b/c you thought Hume was wrong (w/o providing an argument as to why Hume was wrong).

What I'm saying is that atheism (and possibilianism) lacks any mechanism by which to derive an OUGHT from an IS.
Therefore, to be consistent, any attempted OUGHT statement is to be met by continued requests for evidence.



can you give me an example of an immoral act (as you define it) that doesn't involve one entity acting in a way that is not mutually beneficial to other entities?

1) The problem is that you haven't given us any reason to think your Papal Bull carries any authority. Why OUGHT anyone accept your moral standard? I've given you numerous challenges along those lines; when will you answer them?
2) You snuck in "mutually beneficial", when "beneficial" is itself a moral value claim. You're begging the question at hand.



I spoke unclearly: what I should have said was "kiddie porn is immoral because it involves people who are not consenting adults."

1) Now you're moving the goalposts. You have so far only said "adults".
2) This is just another Bull from Pope Maximum Awesome. Badge, please.




No - what? If we admit we both itch, after walking through the same forest, we can try to figure out which tree *made* us itch.

Now give me some reason to believe that the "itching" carries some negative moral value.



If we admit we share a moral system,

I'm not sure you're understanding here.
I'm not concerned about whether someone shares a moral system. I want to know whether that system is TRUE.
The KGB shared a moral code, as do mafiosi.
So does Tkalim's tribe in my moral quandary for atheistic morality. Are they justified in what they do?



There's a standard (white) that is reached, to greater or lesser degrees, by varying shades of gray.

begs the question that the standard at hand is actually good.

Rhology said...

>(Rho, last post) There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified,

>Yes, and wwwwhhhhyyyyy were those instances justified?

I'm not sure what you mean by this: I don't think genocide's ever been justified. I was quoting you.


You were pointing out that I said that some instances of genocide were justified, and criticising me for it, charging me with inconsistency. No inconsistency exists.
I'll spell it out for you. God is always justified in whatever He says and does, by definition. He ordered certain genocidal acts because He desired to pour out His justice on certain ppl groups at a certain time and place. Those acts were justified b/c they were direct commands from God.
God is, however, not issuing such commands today, and the standing order is "do not murder", with provision implied for gov'tal execution of capital criminals and protection of the weak and helpless.
That's why, no, if someone claimed they'd heard God tell them it's OK to genocide another ppl group, I would not believe them. I would fight them.




Do you know what I mean by the difference between positive and negative claims? You don't seem to.
Just because a radically skeptical challenge can be phrased, doesn't mean it requires an actual disproof if it has nothing to recommend it.


OK.
Positive claim: "The world has existed for quite some time in more or less its current form."

What I'm trying to show you is that you say "we don't have a good reason to presume omphalism", and that statement is true but doesn't go far enough. You don't have any good reason to presume it or not to presume it. W/o any overarching standard by which to judge, you're left 100% clueless on the question. You just have blind faith.




your accusations that my morality is relative are just as meaningful as your accusations that I can't be sure the universe was not created last tuesday. *Just as* meaningful: no more, no less.

CORRECT.
THEY ARE BOTH MEANINGLESS. If atheism/possibilianism are true.
Only if Christianity is true do they carry meaning.



Now let's say he phrases every law in that way: nobody may non-napoleonically steal, rape, commit arson, etc.
Now he's above every law.


Correct, every one OF THOSE laws.




How is that not what god does?

Oh, I suppose it's a decent analogy, but like all analogies it breaks down at a certain point. Specifically, God is justified in killing, but He never steals (b/c He owns everything). He never rapes (for He has not sex organs nor sex drive nor need to augment power over others since He is already all-powerful).
So if you want your analogy to hold, make it according to what the Bible reveals about God, not your imaginary pagan god.

Also, notice how now you're just complaining or something, as if you had some sort of standard by which to judge. So far, you haven't given us one. You're the arbitrary dictator shaking your fist at another whom you perceive to be an arbitrary dictator. The irony is thick.


I can still ask you what you consider good even if you don't think I can judge things to be good or bad myself, right?

Sure. Just remember that I judge nothing good or bad except based on God's revelation.

Rhology said...

So if god raped a little girl, would you be okay with it?

That's like asking "if God created a square circle, would it have 5 sides?" It's an impossible question.
A better question is how you know that rape is bad.



I'm describing the reasons for the rules you and I (and many others) ALREADY follow.

And I've told you already that you've arbitrarily excluded those who don't.



I'm not dictating to you that you should like melons.

Then why use words like "reprehensible" and make moral value judgments like you have been?



Oppression by mob rule doesn't satisfy the oppressed.

But it satisfies MORE because the majority practices the oppressing.



If what you want is to give someone else what they want, then okay.

Like kiddie porn. Cool.




RHOLOGY HAS NO CONCEPTION AT ALL OF WHAT SOLIPSISM EVEN IS.

OK. Let the reader judge.



How has he made it clear to you?

Revelation and a transformation of my heart and mind. The Gospel of John, chapters 6 and 10.



Why is clear more useful for your conclusion than unclear?

Hmmm...b/c if they were UNclear, they wouldn't be understandable, right?



How do you know god's promises are what you think they are?

Revelation.



How do you know any experience you've ever had, or ever could have, reflects anything other than noise in your head?

Revelation.
Now, your turn.
How is reality clear to you? Why is clear more useful for your conclusion than unclear? How do you know your sensations are what you think they are? How do you know any experience you've ever had, or ever could have, reflects anything other than noise in your head?
My answer to soliptic challenges like these is simple: the burden of proof is on the person proposing them, and I haven't seen any yet.
Your answer is the one that's really lacking: you know your experiences reflect something beyond yourself because ... of the data you've received from something beyond yourself.

And what I've been telling you is that you have indeed had experiences and data from sthg beyond yourself but based on your professed worldview you have no reason to think that is in fact true. You're borrowing from my worldview and then denying my worldview is true, which is cheating.




Now, the Chemist made reference to sthg that he found a bit confusing, and your clarification missed the point.
When I said that you OUGHT to find 2+2=4, that is because this is God's universe. I was expressing the Christian view.
Discovering, correctly processing, and stating truth is an objectively good thing if Christianity is true.
But if atheism/possibilianism is true, that is not the case. At least, MaxAwe has so far not given us any reason to think that there is any such thing as objective good. So that means that even knowing truth, love, searching for truth, helping others, and saying "possibilianism is true" or "atheism is true"... none of those are good. They merely ARE.

Maximum Awesome said...

Rho,

My resolutions stand.
To the degree that you disagree with them, you have been misled by their phrasing. I'm prepared to rephrase.

RESOLUTION 1: "the maximisation of the degree to which moral systems provide agreeable results to all parties can be pursued in a purely secular spirit without invoking more need for blind faith than the truth values in mathematics, the valuing of evidence over fortune cookies, and the value of a glass of water when thirsty." 

You took issue, here, with my use of the term "just as objective": you insisted on replacing it with "just as meaninglessly nonobjective":

>(ME) your accusations that my morality is relative are just as meaningful as your accusations that I can't be sure the universe was not created last tuesday. *Just as* meaningful: no more, no less.

>(YOU) CORRECT.
>THEY ARE BOTH MEANINGLESS. If atheism/possibilianism are true.
>Only if Christianity is true do they carry meaning.

But the thing about the phrasing "just as objective" is that it still works, even if you don't accept the objectivity at all: that is, "just as objective" also means "equally inobjective" and "equally objective". You maintain the former, I maintain the latter. Your argument does not distinguish between them. That was why I phrased it that way.

>What I'm trying to show you is that you say "we don't have a good reason to presume omphalism", and that statement is true but doesn't go far enough. You don't have any good reason to presume it or not to presume it. W/o any overarching standard by which to judge, you're left 100% clueless on the question. You just have blind faith.

My point is that if you insist that your argument applies equally to secular mathematics, secular engineering, secular hygiene, etc, as it does to secular morality, then you aren't saying morality is more or less relative than any of those things. And I'm okay with that. I never meant to argue against that position, because it never occurred to me that it was strong enough to be worth maintaining.

To reiterate: I am not arguing, and never meant to argue, that the means by which a secular moral system can provide results agreeable to all parties is more objective than secular mathematics. If you insist on maintaining they're equally objective, we're done here. Unless you can explain how the formulation of rules by which secular humans can interrelate in mutually beneficial ways is less objective than the formulation of rules by which consistent mathematical proofs can be developed, you're arguing against a position I never meant to take.

I do have a point to be made about your use of this argument-from-solipsism, but all I'm trying to do here is show that the argument-from-solipsism does not *target* secular morality more than secular math. This is the point I was trying to make by separating our discussions into 2.

Maximum Awesome said...

OTOH, you have, at other times, raised some relevant arguments. To differentiate between those arguments and the irrelevant one above: let's say the year is 1900 and I'm trying to build an airplane. You, on the other hand, don't believe humans can fly.

There are two types of criticism you can level against my experimental airplane:

1. Humans are not meant to fly.
2. You forgot to tighten that bolt.

Now, whenever you raise the first point, it's refuted by resolution 1, above: I'm just going to ignore you and keep on trying to improve my plane. If I don't get it right, somebody else will. Whenever you raise the second point, though, you're only strengthening the progress humans are making towards flight.

You talk about how I'm "moving the goalposts":

>1) Now you're moving the goalposts. You have so far only said "adults". 

I'm prepared to accept that my phrasings are becoming more robust under your criticism: but that process, of my views *evolving*, is how ideas improve.

Spotting a loose bolts does not disprove human flight.

Clinging to a fragile, brittle dogma that can't change, adapt or improve is religion, not science.

Maximum Awesome said...

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPLANATIONS AND RULES.

I'm still amazed at how thoroughly you've misinterpreted, or pretended to misinterpret (it's not doing you any favours), my argument about us both itching after walking through the same forest. You've even begun to argue apples against oranges regarding it:

>(ME) No - what? If we admit we both itch, after walking through the same forest, we can try to figure out which tree *made* us itch.

>(YOU) Now give me some reason to believe that the "itching" carries some negative moral value.

Let me break it down, very simply, into a fable:

You, Rho, normally eat at the same restaurant - the credobaptistcalvinist Diner. One day, though, you decide to try the Moral Relativism Restaurant. You order eggs benedict, an omelette, and two poached eggs. Later that day, you throw up violently. You write about it on your blog: "I ate eggs at the Moral Relativism Restaurant and got sick! It must be supernatural!"

I read this, and remember that I, too, have gotten sick from ordering eggs at the Moral Relativism Restaurant. So I write to you, saying "hey, Rho, that restaurant's eggs have also made me sick. There's also an article in today's paper about a bunch of people from the Egg Appreciation Society went there, and they also got sick. Maybe it's the eggs that make people sick?"

"How dare you!" you roar back at me: "you don't have the authority to tell anybody that eggs should make them sick, or that they shouldn't eat eggs! No, it must be supernatural!"

"What?" I respond, perplexed. "That's not what I was saying at all - I was just noticing that you and I both got sick after eating eggs there, and thought we might be getting sick because of the same thing. Have you ever gotten sick there after eating something other than eggs?"

"I can't think of any examples, but I still don't accept your authority to tell me not to eat eggs!"

"I'm not claiming authority - I'm not saying you *should* get sick, or even that you *shouldn't* eat eggs there: I'm just trying to come up with an explanation as to why we are both *already* having the same reaction, not proposing a new rule that everybody must follow."



Do you get it now?

Explanations and rules are different. If you have a rule, and I have an intuition, and I suggest that the intuition - common to me, most societies, and even most mammals - may be responsible for the rule, and maybe we could phrase the rule to express this more clearly.

Maximum Awesome said...

HUME'S IS OUGHT PROBLEM AND THE REDUCTIONIST FALLACY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS

>also merely dismissed the question b/c you thought Hume was wrong (w/o providing an argument as to why Hume was wrong).

You think the reductionist fallacy and Hume's is/ought problem are the same thing.
They are not.
I mentioned this earlier and you did not process it.
Here's what I wrote in my original refutation:

"The naturalistic fallacy ... was described and named by British philosopher G. E. Moore in his 1903 book Principia Ethica. Moore stated that a naturalistic fallacy is committed whenever a philosopher attempts to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definitionof the term "good" in terms of one or more natural properties (such as "pleasant", "more evolved", "desired", etc.) ... The naturalistic fallacy is related to (and even confused with) the is–ought problem, which comes fromHume's Treatise."

- and here's my link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

Feel free to provide your own reference.

Maximum Awesome said...

GOD'S MORAL PARADOX: LITTLE GIRL RAPE

>Oh, I suppose it's a decent analogy, but like all analogies it breaks down at a certain point. Specifically, God is justified in killing, but He never steals (b/c He owns everything). He never rapes (for He has not sex organs nor sex drive nor need to augment power over others since He is already all-powerful). 

I'm not talking about god's tastes, preferences, or hobbies. I'm talking about his theoretical potentialities.

Even if he *would* never rape a little girl, the question is whether he *could*.

Obama or Bush may not have wanted to rape little girls either, but there's still a law against it if they try.

Because they're not above the law (at least not that one).

[Incidentally, bear in mind that a blasphemous atheist little girl who got run over by a truck would presumably then spend eternity thereafter in hell. Personally, I'd much rather be raped than go to hell.]

To formally present my paradox - either:

1. God is incapable of raping a little girl: therefore he is not omnipotent (did he forget how to make penises or something?).
2. God would never allow himself to rape a little girl: therefore he has a moral code to which he must adhere. But why does it rule out rape, and not genocide or scapegoat human sacrifice?
3. God would be justified in raping a little girl because of original sin, the same way he would be justified in sending her to hell or doing anything else to her or anyone else. Therefore, there is no conceivable law god is not above.

Therefore: either god is not omnipotent, or he's not completely free, or he's above all laws.

(Incidentally, if the only reason evidence, consistency, parsimony, etc, work is god's interest in them working, he could presumably wiggle out from under any conviction simply by changing the laws of logic. If you find this argument absurd, please bear in mind that reductio ad absurdum is actually a valid form of argument, "in which a propositionis disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence", and is thus the opposite of the "argument by unsavoury consequences" you've referred to, but of which I can't find mention of anywhere else on the net.)

Maximum Awesome said...

YOUR LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF SOLIPSISM CONTINUES TO AMAZE ME


I don't mean to be ruder than I have to, but it's been more than a little annoying trying to hold a conversation with someone who insists on trying to yank the rug of "all possible rules of argument" out from under me whenever they find it convenient.

It would be more direct to simply plug your hands in your ears, shout la la la, and claim that you can't decipher my non-jesusy comments until I accept that He gave me the access card to His dictionary (ironic capitalisation, yes).

But I'm blown away by your continued inability to understand how unlimitedly powerful the argument from solipsism is. It's your main argument, it's an unstoppable hurricane that destroys any truth claim: and you use it to push toy boats around in a pool you built on a beach.

It's not a socratic method: it's a five year old endlessly, emptily repeating why. There is no end to it, and nobody has any more claim to it than anybody else. Let me continue to demonstrate.

>(ME) How has he made it clear to you? 

>(YOU) Revelation and a transformation of my heart and mind. The Gospel of John, chapters 6 and 10.

How do you know the gospel exists in any form outside your perceptions? How do you know your revelations aren't inaccurate? By what revelation do you validate your revelations? Is it "turtles all the way down"? Do you know what an "infinite regress" is? That's what happens if you have a revelation to validate the revelation that validates your revelation that validates your revelation ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_regress

By what revelation do you rate your revelations above the revelations of all other mutually exclusive religion's revelations?

>(ME) Why is clear more useful for your conclusion than unclear? 

>(YOU) Hmmm...b/c if they were UNclear, they wouldn't be understandable, right?

Why is understandable better than not understandable? What makes you think your subjective sense of understandability reflects reality in any way? How do you know the sense of understandability isn't just a trick implanted in your brain by demons, like a moth flying to a flame?

You then go on to present the same challenges to me: but I've already explained why they don't work: positive vs negative claims. We don't need to turn to philosophical matters to see this: why do you believe I'm not a flying elephant? Why do you believe mickey mouse isn't doing jumping jacks on the far side of the moon? Why do you believe there isn't a teapot orbiting the sun? Why do you believe there isn't someone lurking behind you right now? When you turn your head to check, why do you believe they aren't moving quickly to stay out of your sight?

The term "believe" isn't relevant: there has never been any reason to do anything *other* than disbelieve these claims. Just because they can be phrased doesn't mean they carry any weight. The use of the word "blind" in the context of rejecting them is the opposite of appropriate: it would be blind faith to believe any of them.

Maximum Awesome said...

MY TWO MAIN RESOLUTIONS, AGAIN, REPHRASED TO REFLECT JUST-EXPRESSED MISUNDERSTANDINGS:


>(ME) RESOLUTION 1: the point you've been trying to make over the course of our exchanges is "the common secular moral values of the average first world - that is, the maximisation of the degree to which moral systems provide agreeable results to all parties, and the attempted minimisation of negative impact to all parties to an interaction other than nonconsenting adults - are just as objective, and no less as truth values in mathematics, the valuing of evidence over fortune cookies, and the value of a glass of water when thirsty." 

As to resolution 2: you've just offered an argument against it that is literally, point by point, refuted by its original context. Here it is again:

"
>>(me) The central element of all the behaviours you bring forth as examples of badness is a disregard for the wishes of some conscious entity (you) Yes, but so what? Who says that "wishes" have some moral value? 
Well, can you give me an example of an immoral act (as you define it) that doesn't involve one entity acting in a way that is not mutually beneficial to other entities? You haven't yet.
If you can't, I claim
RESOLUTION 2: Morality concerns interactions between living beings: moral actions are mutually beneficial, immoral actions are not.
As resolution 1 establishes, you can say that there's nothing fantabulous about mutual beneficiality - but you can't say that the rule of "mutual beneficiality amongst consenting adults" is does not rule out any act that you would call immoral.
"

I realise you object to resolution 2. But until you provide me with an example of an immoral action that doesn't meet its definition, we're done.

Incidentally, on a non-combative note - I don't dislike you personally and I do appreciate your taking the time to criticise my views. It's been interesting, and many have been valid: the thing is just that, I don't have a problem with coming up with a provisional argument and modifying it in response to criticism - that's your phobia, not mine.

Maximum Awesome said...

>(YOU) "Discovering, correctly processing, and stating truth is an objectively good thing (only under Rho's religious views)."

>(YOU) that means that even knowing truth, love, searching for truth, helping others, and saying "possibilianism is true" or "atheism is true"... none of those are good.

They aren't fantabulous, or awesometastic either. Who cares? They're all equally self-evidently preferable to their alternatives to anyone who doesn't want to be a hunted forest hermit (which is most people), just like drinking a glass of water when thirsty to anyone who isn't a suicidal water-phobic (which is, again, most people).

When there's no reason to believe rape would be great, there's no need for anti-rape elves and leprechauns.

When there's no reason to believe there's a teapot orbiting the sun, there's no reason for the No Teapot Goblin.

Maximum Awesome said...

>That's like asking "if God created a square circle, would it have 5 sides?"

No it isn't.

God can kill her.
God can torture her.
God can send her to hell.

What force is stopping him from forcing sexual contact on her?

If you're saying she would automatically consent to the sex because that's how great god is, he could just conceal the fact that he was god for the purpose of my thought experiment.

Incidentally, I'm not "complaining" about god being able to rape little girls: I'm trying to get you to either admit that god is above all laws (he can rape little girls), or to point out an inconsistency in your view (there are some things you don't want to imagine your imaginary friend justifying by doing them, because they make him ridiculous instead of scary - but you have to admit that god would justify little-girl-rape automatically if he ever did it).

Maximum Awesome said...

*edit: Do you get it now?

Explanations and rules are different. You have a rule, and I have an intuition/code/set-of-behaviours, and I'm suggesting that the intuition/c/s-o-b - common to me, most societies, and even most mammals - may be responsible for the rule, and therefore maybe we could phrase the rule to express the basis behind the intuition more more clearly."

Maximum Awesome said...

>(YOU)But it satisfies MORE because the majority practices the oppressing.

This is not a difficult point to refute: let me phrase it in (what I presume are) your moral terms:

1) is it good for you to donate money to charity?

Yes.

2) Is it good to kill a family and take their belongings and pawn them?

No.

Is it good to do 2 in order to do 1?

No.

What if you get a whole lot of money? What if the charity really likes it?

Still no.

We don't even need to turn to morality to see this: is it healthy to eat bread? Sure. Is it healthy to eat crap? No. Is it healthy to eat crap in order to eat bread? No. What if you eat more bread than crap? The crap is still the problem.

Maximum Awesome said...

>I'm not sure you're understanding here.
>I'm not concerned about whether someone shares a moral system. I want to know whether that system is TRUE.

The only standard you'll accept for truth, as you've said, is your own.
Therefore, I appeal directly to your moral system: can you provide me with an example of an immoral act that does not depend on one party causing harm to a nonconsenting, or non adult, other party?

You can count god as a party: ie, it's bad to take his name in vain because it bothers him, etc.

Rhology said...

RESOLUTION 1: "the maximisation of the degree to which moral systems provide agreeable results to all parties can be pursued in a purely secular spirit without invoking more need for blind faith than the truth values in mathematics, the valuing of evidence over fortune cookies, and the value of a glass of water when thirsty."

1) For the 6th time, why should I hold to it?
2) You forgot to tell us about valuing evidence over other things beside "fortune cookies". I'm not prepared to grant w/o argument that dismissing longstanding worldview systems, especially not my own, which is robustly consistent, with a wave of a hand and a pithy "meh, it's fortune cookie" is justified.
3) Fortune cookies are intelligently designed.
4) You seem to be appealing so some sort of felt need - water when thirsty.
What about murder when angry?
Rape when horny?
Theft of money when hungry and broke because of crack addiction?
You're still just pulling things out of the air, and it's getting worse and worse for you, especially as you leave piles of unanswered questions on the table.



I am not arguing, and never meant to argue, that the means by which a secular moral system can provide results agreeable to all parties is more objective than secular mathematics.

I didn't think you were arguing that they were MORE objective.
What I'm telling you is that they ARE objective, as much so as mathematics, but your system does not allow for ANY objectivity or universal normativity.



Unless you can explain how the formulation of rules by which secular humans can interrelate in mutually beneficial ways is less objective than the formulation of rules by which consistent mathematical proofs can be developed, you're arguing against a position I never meant to take.

I never made that argument, b/c I'm still waiting for you to explain your moral system without viciously circular question-begging such as using "beneficial".



Airplane

I don't really see how that's applicable.
It's not that you need to tighten a bolt. You're living in God's world, where aerodynamics and related physical forces are the most relevant to human flight, and you're trying to figure out how to breathe under the liquid methane on Uranus.


Clinging to a fragile, brittle dogma that can't change, adapt or improve is religion, not science.

I see. Yes, it's far better to make mistakes and be corrected over and over again by the "brittle fragile dogmatist" about your view's internal inconsistencies than to "improve". You don't know toward what you need to improve. You have no teleology, no purpose, no goal, no destination. You have no way to know whether any movement you make is good, even if you make your view more internally consistent. So what if it's more internally consistent? Don't say "well duh, it's self-evident that views should be internally consistent", you beg the question AGAIN.



egg parable

I have zero idea what you're talking about. I don't recognise myself in there, so maybe you meant to argue against Westboro Baptist or a 5 year old or something.



You think the reductionist fallacy and Hume's is/ought problem are the same thing.
They are not.


So you violate 2 philosophical maxims and not one.
That helps your view how?



Even if he *would* never rape a little girl, the question is whether he *could*.

OK, fine.
No, He could not.

Rhology said...

Obama or Bush may not have wanted to rape little girls either, but there's still a law against it if they try.

God is not analogous to the President of the USA.



[Incidentally, bear in mind that a blasphemous atheist little girl who got run over by a truck would presumably then spend eternity thereafter in hell. Personally, I'd much rather be raped than go to hell.

That's just another statement of personal preference, which is all you've given us this entire discussion.
And that would be fine if I'd been asking you "hey, Maximum Awesome, what do you personally prefer?"
Of course, I haven't been asking that, have I?
And you haven't been labeling your statements as statements of personal preferences, either. You've been using words like "good", "beneficial", "reprehensible". Give me a reason to think that you are adding any value to this discussion, either on atheism or on Christianity.



1. God is incapable of raping a little girl: therefore he is not omnipotent (did he forget how to make penises or something?).

1) This is just idiocy. Forget how to make penises? Do you think God is a man or something?
2) God is incapable of many things that language can state, b/c language can say absurdities that are not actually possible. He can't cease to exist. He can't create a square circle. There is no challenge here.



2. God would never allow himself to rape a little girl: therefore he has a moral code to which he must adhere. But why does it rule out rape, and not genocide or scapegoat human sacrifice?

1) He adheres always to His character, by definition.
2) Rape is actually wrong.
3) Those other two things are not wrong, not w/o more careful specificity, which I've already explained at least once. I don't plan to repeat myself.




3. God would be justified in raping a little girl because of original sin,

Biblically speaking, the penalty for sin is not rape, but death.
Maybe try your hand at arguing against Zeus, or Elohim of the Mormons. You're not making any progress here.



he could presumably wiggle out from under any conviction simply by changing the laws of logic

Nobody claims God can change the laws of logic.



If you find this argument absurd, please bear in mind that reductio ad absurdum is actually a valid form of argument, "in which a propositionis disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence"

Yes, I know.
Now you just need to show how your reductio is valid given the fact that you're not operating on Christian presuppositions.



the "argument by unsavoury consequences" you've referred to, but of which I can't find mention of anywhere else on the net.

The argument from unsavory consequences is as follows:
1) X
2) Max Awesome doesn't like X
3) Ergo, X is false.
That's been your stock and trade this whole time with these moral questions.

Rhology said...

It's not a socratic method: it's a five year old endlessly, emptily repeating why.

The argument from name-calling. Who's acting like a five year old?



How do you know the gospel exists in any form outside your perceptions?

B/c I know God exists and is as He has revealed. This is independent of my perceptions.



How do you know your revelations aren't inaccurate?

The impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is literally absurd.



By what revelation do you validate your revelations?

The revelation is self-authenticating b/c it is foundational.



Do you know what an "infinite regress" is?

Yes, I do.
Hopefully the reader will notice that I've asked you numerous questions, which you have evaded, and those would reveal that YOU are guilty of an infinite regress.
I'm glad my position is not. The buck stops with Jesus.



By what revelation do you rate your revelations above the revelations of all other mutually exclusive religion's revelations?

The revelation of its truth.

Now, your turn.
How do you know ANYTHING exists in any form outside your sensations? How do you know your sensations aren't inaccurate? By what sensation do you validate your sensations? Is it "sensations all the way down"? Do you know what an "infinite regress" is? That's what happens if you have a sensation to validate the sensation that validates your sensation that validates your sensation...

By what sensation do you rate your sensations above the sensations of all other mutually exclusive possibilians' or any other persons' sensations?

Have fun!


Why is understandable better than not understandable? What makes you think your subjective sense of understandability reflects reality in any way? How do you know the sense of understandability isn't just a trick implanted in your brain by demons, like a moth flying to a flame?

Jello blues no bones and further the they fly the much 56.



You then go on to present the same challenges to me: but I've already explained why they don't work: positive vs negative claims.

Oh, so you're not claiming that your cognitive faculties do reliably produce true beliefs?
What precisely do you believe, exactly?
This is a load of garbage.
You see, all your 'questions' that you can't answer don't get you anywhere. You throw them out there b/c you think I can't answer them, but I can in fact answer them. Can you answer your own questions?
No, you can't. If you disagree, prove it.



I realise you object to (Morality concerns interactions between living beings: moral actions are mutually beneficial, immoral actions are not). But until you provide me with an example of an immoral action that doesn't meet its definition, we're done.

It's really kind of sad how many times I've asked the same questions. I'm not going to ask them again.



They're all equally self-evidently preferable to their alternatives to anyone who doesn't want to be a hunted forest hermit (

Again you arbitrarily write out those who aren't like you. You're a fascist in disguise.

Rhology said...

What force is stopping him from forcing sexual contact on her?

Asked and answered. Look, I appreciate that you're courteous and all, but you're woefully ignorant of Christian theology.
Until you get a little more knowledge about it, kindly refrain from foolish, irrelevant criticisms, especially after you've been corrected.


The only standard you'll accept for truth, as you've said, is your own.

LOL. Let the reader judge who's making it up as he goes along (despite claims to the contrary) and who's appealing to one, single, foundational standard for knowing and morality, which is precisely what he claims. IOW, who's consistent and who's not.



can you provide me with an example of an immoral act that does not depend on one party causing harm to a nonconsenting, or non adult, other party?
You can count god as a party: ie, it's bad to take his name in vain because it bothers him, etc.


B/c you've really gone off the deep end in this last batch of comments in terms of depth of inanity, I refuse to answer this until you answer the first challenge I made to you.
No more running me around like a rabbit. Tell me how you know this is right, and don't give me a self-referential, circular answer.
One more failure to do so, and I'll thank you for your time and it will be clear that you don't have any idea. You are in rebellion against your Creator, and you will even take the most absurd positions possible in order to avoid having to repent and trust Him instead of yourself. You're a fool, but there is still hope for you because you are still alive and Jesus is still Lord. Turn away from your clueless, foolish, self-refuting position and ask Jesus to forgive you and order your life.

Maximum Awesome said...

>(ME)Even if he *would* never rape a little girl, the question is whether he *could*.  >(YOU)OK, fine. No, He could not.

>(YOU)Rape is actually wrong.

Thank you.

So you're saying there are things god is theoretically capable of doing that he still cannot do.

There are laws that bind him.

His rights - his duties to others, or to rules about how to treat others (tomayto, tomahto) - restrict him in ways his sheer power does not. And not by his choice.

He's not infinitely free to do whatever he pleases to anybody - he answers to rules beyond himself. He's not the final judge in the land. There are acts within his power that he could not justify if he committed them.

He is not above all laws: there is a linchpin behind morality, a reason moral things are moral beyond "because god said so". To say that god "has to" adhere to a system that only works because he holds it up, like Atlas, is circular: it means no more than saying I adhere to my own whims.

To say that god is constitutionally incapable of having "bad whims" just makes me wonder why you personify him at all: he sounds more like a windmill or a battery. To say that he's subject to laws that originate inside him is like saying I'm a slave to myself.

But if morality is a system that makes sense in itself, like math, without resting solely on god's fiat, we don't need supernatural backing to discover those rules.

If god has made us a world in which math, hygiene, and the-results-of-various-systems-of-interpersonal-interaction are all equivalently amenable to objective study, then we can work out how to act respective to those systems without some supernatural creature's because-I-said-so. We can find out the results of our actions and make our own decisions.

Maximum Awesome said...

The distinction between a "coherent system" vs. "a set of rules" is one you've seemed to elide: the idea of a principle behind the various rules that ties them together the way the principle of addition ties together "2+2=4" and "2+3=5": you wouldn't say those two equations are separate rules which are true "because of god's will" any more than you *should* say rape is bad "because of god's will".

But you maintain that both the principles of math and morality work because god wants them to. So why do we need to appeal to him for answers in one more than the other?

If you simply feel we need to appeal to him for answers in both, I merely point out that mathematicians disagree and still seem to get good results - I don't notice bridges falling apart or airplanes dropping from the sky because of "baseless, merely personal-preference based" equations done by secular engineers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_mathematics

From wikipedia on the foundational crisis in math: "In a sense, the crisis has not been resolved, but faded away: most mathematicians either do not work from axiomatic systems, or if they do, do not doubt the consistency of ZFC, generally their preferred axiomatic system."

And hey, look: math still works.

Principles in this sense are more than a mere signature by an authority figure at the bottom of the page, or the "system" of the authority figure's judgement/personality/taste-in-rules.

Maximum Awesome said...

>(ME)How do you know the gospel exists in any form outside your perceptions?

>(YOU) B/c I know God exists and is as He has revealed. This is independent of my perceptions.

What a beautifully perfect circle, and done so quickly.

>(ME) How do you know your revelations aren't inaccurate?

>(YOU) The impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is literally absurd.

Why is absurd worse than non-absurd? How can you be sure the idea of impossibility rules anything out in nature?

>(YOU) The revelation is self-authenticating b/c it is foundational.

Nice word. Is the revelation fantabulous too?

Maximum Awesome said...

>(YOU)Hopefully the reader will notice that I've asked you numerous questions, which you have evaded, and those would reveal that YOU are guilty of an infinite regress. 
I'm glad my position is not. The buck stops with Jesus.

Of course I've evaded them. They're irrelevant. I've been asking them of you to show how meaningless they are, and I've evaded them in the same way I evade questions like "why aren't you looking out your window all the time in case birds are arranging themselves in patterns on your lawn that reveal winning lottery numbers?"
***

Maximum Awesome said...

CONCLUSION

My analogies clearly missed their mark: I'm sorry you were bored by the inanity - I was aware I was going on at length, but it was a good faith (ironic expression) effort to be absolutely clear.

Obviously it hasn't worked, and whether your misunderstanding was in good faith or not, I'll have to leave it there, as I doubt the ideas can be broken down into smaller chunks: but suffice to say you've missed the point of all of them, especially the evidence/fortune cookie one (*you* said that, I used it as an example of your radical doubt, I wasn't saying you were the cookie ... oh, never mind).

I realise you feel I haven't answered your questions about a basis for avoiding infinite regress. My answer is simply, as I've said, that we don't need to avoid it: it's a non-problem.

We can look at what happens when we don't wash our hands, and make handwashing mandatory amongst surgeons, without elves telling us to.

We can decide to value consistency in mathematics, and make it mandatory for engineers to follow that set of math rules when building bridges and airplanes instead of a system of math they make up on their own based on astrology, without goblins telling us to.

And we can decide to cooperate, and make it mandatory to avoid trespassing on other people's personal boundaries (or some such phrasing - basically, a lawyer-proof articulation of what the first world already largely does in practice), without god telling us to.

The question of whether the rules we come up with can be verified to an arbitrary, abstract degree doesn't matter in any of those instances. Or ever.

That's what I mean by "fantabulous": it's a stamp-of-approval that's definitionally unnecessary.

If I'm a fascist for thinking humans have the right to work out amongst themselves how to interrelate - in the same way they work out for themselves how to solve equations, build bridges, and cure diseases - you're simply a superstitious fascist.

Incidentally, I leave it to the reader to work out what it means that you've explicitly stated that you *would not* like the establishment of an objective moral rule:

>(ME) would you like it if such an objective standard were to be formulated, without recourse to supernatural claims about any particular god? (YOU) No, I don't suppose I'd like it, but it wouldn't be the death knell for my position.

- presumably you'd be happier if epilepsy was still treated as demonic possession? What if priests had the answer sheets to most practical equations and engineers could only ask permission to consult them, thinking - because they were told to - that math was simply ineffable divine will?

Who cares about human suffering when you've got an argument-from-ignorance to make.

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

My answer to your perennial question about the basis for nonchristian morality is simply that your question is as meaningful, and as meaningless, as the "question" about nonchristian math, nonchristian hygiene, and nonchristian physics.

If you think it's a strong question, you're welcome to it: I've stated many times that I don't consider it a threat and have not intended to argue against it.

***

I doubt we have much more to say to each other. I really had thought we could come to a closer understanding of each other's position. If I've been personally rude beyond the need for clarity, I apologise.


Thanks for your time,
Best wishes,
Max Awesome

Rhology said...

A few quick comments here.
God is "limited" in the sense that He is defined by His nature and character. Yes, there are things that language can express that He can't do. Nobody denies that. Check the archives of this blog; I've said it many times.
He can do anything that is possible to do.


You said:
you maintain that both the principles of math and morality work because god wants them to. So why do we need to appeal to him for answers in one more than the other?

They work because God created the universe.
He made the universe in a way that corresponds to His nature and character - according to logic. Math is a form of logic. Morality in terms of His holiness.
We need to appeal to Him for answers in ALL of them, not one more than the other, in the sense that He is foundational, a necessary precondition for their existence.

No, you haven't been rude. I appreciate your courtesy, though your unfair non-answers are not commendable.


What a beautifully perfect circle, and done so quickly.

One could only wish you'd answer the questions put to you as I answer those put to me.

But tell you what: As to the rest of your challenges and questions, I'm going to go ahead and quote you back to yourself. I've evaded them. They're irrelevant.

Maximum Awesome said...

I should really stop this:

>(YOU)Yes, there are things that language can express that He can't do ... He can do anything that is possible to do.

Rape is impossible to do?

Rhology said...

Impossible for God to do, yes.
Just like it is impossible for Him to create a square circle or to make it so that He never existed.

Maximum Awesome said...

Humans can rape.
God can't.
Therefore, god cannot do everything that it is possible to do.

Rhology said...

Yes, humans can do certain things God can't, such as sin, repent of sin, receive forgiveness, etc.

And God can do things humans can't do, such as give eternal life, love perfectly, create ex nihilo, etc.

One of the things God can't do and men can do is rape.
This is not an issue of you seeing something missing in Xtian theology; this is you being ignorant of it and foisting your own twisted opinion of it onto it without any justification or argument. You could make an argument, but you have yet to do so.

Maximum Awesome said...

>(RHO) Yes, there are things that language can express that He can't do ("but"?)He can do anything that is possible to do.

>(RHO) Impossible for God to do, yes.

>(RHO) Yes, humans can do certain things God can't,

Oh, I get it now?

>(RHO) This is not an issue of you seeing something missing in Xtian theology; this is you being ignorant of it

True.

I'm also ignorant of UFO abductions and bigfoot.

Rhology said...

And the argument is...?

zilch said...

And the argument is one you've heard before: why should we believe in the GOTB any more than we believe in leprechauns? There's no more evidence for one than the other, and we know (don't we?) that people make up stuff.

Rhology said...

zilch,

What do you think my response would be to that?

zilch said...

I'm guessing that your response would be something along these lines: "The Bible is the Revealed Word of God, and the Mabigonion is the work of the Devil". Am I close?

Rhology said...

No, you're not close. I'm disappointed; all this time I figured that you were at least sort of paying attention.

zilch said...

Well, what is the difference between Jehovah and leprechauns, then, other than that Jehovah is perhaps more popular nowadays? They're both undetectable miracle-wielding beings, and I don't see any essential difference between pie in the sky and pots of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Rhology said...

Yeah, you know, now that I think about it, other than that there's that whole really-long-Bible thing to tell us about Jehovah and very little beyond a cereal box and a few movies to tell us about leprechauns, you're right: there is no essential difference.

David said...

"Very little beyond a cereal box and a few movies to tell us about leprechauns."

???

You think that our knowledge of leprechauns comes from cereal boxes and movies? I think that you need to learn a little more about Irish folklore. The history of leprechauns extends back for thousands of years.

So, this is your argument? The Bible is longer, so that makes it different?

Rhology said...

Nope.

David said...

"Nope."

You said, "other than that there's that whole really-long-Bible thing to tell us about Jehovah."

In this sentence, the only thing that distinguishes the Bible stories from stories about leprechauns is "really-long". Leprechaun stories (which include much more than cereal boxes) are not as long as Jehovah stories. This is what your sentences says, right?

I don't know, maybe I shouldn't read things so literally, right?

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

Strictly speaking, I brought up leprechauns to show that "knowledge" of a fake subject (leprechauns, theology) doesn't excuse a basic grammatical-logical error:

1. Anything humans can do is possible to do.

2. Humans can do things god can't.

3. Therefore, god cannot do anything that is possible to do.

Maximum Awesome said...

The statement "god cannot sin" can mean two very different things:

Version A: Activity X is not a sin when god does it.

Version B: Activity X is impossible for god to do.

You've used version A before with regards to ending human lives: but you've now used version B with regards to rape.

Version A actually enhances god's power, but version B diminishes it.

And version B is incompatible with the statement "god can do anything that is possible to do".

Rhology said...

Neither of those work, MA.
A: I can't think of anything that isn't a sin when God does it but is when man does it.
As I've told you numerous times already, only men are capable of murder b/c only men can kill unjustifiably. God cannot kill anyone unjustifiably b/c His ending the life of any sinner is by definition justified, since the penalty for sin is death.

God has never raped anyone. There is no justified/unjustified aspect to forcing someone to have sex with you, so yes, it is impossible for God to rape, just as much as it is impossible for God to create a square circle or to make it so that He never existed.
It is an absurdity of language that is possible to say but not possible to perform.

I guess Version B is pretty close to the truth, yes, but you need to argue for this:
version B is incompatible with the statement "god can do anything that is possible to do".

I'm sorry, but you have to take God's immutable nature and character into account when you analyse this question. You haven't shown any evidence of doing so yet.

zilch said...

If God cannot rape because of His nature, but Man can rape, then God is not omnipotent, because He cannot do something which is possible to do. Is that what you're saying, Rho?

Rhology said...

Asked and answered - see above please.

zilch said...

Yes, Rho, I read your answer, and I don't see how it can be construed as anything other than a limitation on God's power: there are things that are possible to do (i.e. not illogical or otherwise somehow outside of the realm of possibility), such as rape, which men can do, and which God cannot do. It doesn't matter why God cannot do them; whether it's because of His "nature" or "immutable being", the fact remains that there are things (according to you, anyway), that are things that are in the power of man's nature to do that God cannot do. Thus, God is not omnipotent. Or do you perhaps have a different definition of "omnipotent" than the usual?

The only answer I can imagine is that God could rape, but chooses not to. Then I suppose one could say that He was omnipotent, but chooses not to exercise His omnipotence. But if you say that He's incapable of rape, then I don't see how that is not a diminishing of His power, as MA said.

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "I can't think of anything that isn't a sin when God does it but is when man does it."

Ending the life of a human, solely on the grounds of original sin.

>RHO "it is impossible for God to rape, just as much as it is impossible for God to create a square circle or to make it so that He never existed.
It is an absurdity of language that is possible to say but not possible to perform."

Square circles:

- impossible for humans
- impossible for god.

Rape:

- POSSIBLE for humans
- impossible for god.

Therefore god cannot do anything that is possible to do.

zilch said...

MA- yep. This is just one of the myriad examples of the logical pickles on gets into when one insists on perfection of various sorts: the very concept of "omnipotence" is self-undermining. Imho, the authors of the Bible didn't really think through the logical ramifications of such claims, but merely attributed their god with being the biggest and the bestest. The fact that it doesn't really make sense that, for instance, we supposedly have free will, but God (being omniscient and omnipotent) has created us in exactly such a way that we will do as He sees us doing, seems to have escaped them.

Rhology said...

RHO "I can't think of anything that isn't a sin when God does it but is when man does it."

Ending the life of a human, solely on the grounds of original sin.

OK, yes, I think you're right about that.

Rape:

- POSSIBLE for humans
- impossible for god.

Therefore god cannot do anything that is possible to do.


Again, you're leaving out the subject. It is possible for humans to rape, but impossible for God to rape.
God can do anything that it is possible for God to do. That's supposed to be understood when I say "God can do anything that is possible", but since you've not grasped it yet, I have to spell it out more explicitly.



zilch,

I missed where you set out a rigorous case that logically disproves compatibilism. I'd appreciate a link if you have one.

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO> "OK, yes, I think you're right about that."

Thank you.

>RHO> "God can do anything that it is possible for God to do. That's supposed to be understood when I say "God can do anything that is possible", but since you've not grasped it yet, I have to spell it out more explicitly."

That's a tautology.

I can do anything that is possible for me to do too.

So can anybody and anything.

Rhology said...

So it all comes down to the definition of one's nature, abilities, and character, when discussion what one can and can't do, right?

Maximum Awesome said...

I wouldn't include "character".

"Can't" and "won't" are different.

***

So you admit the following?

1. there are acts sinful for humans that are not sinful for god.

2. there are acts sinful for humans that are not even possible for god.

3. the statement "god can do whatever it is possible for god to do" is a tautology.

Rhology said...

1. Let me say this - there are acts that God is justified in doing that humans are not necessarily justified in doing. Putting humans to death, for example.

2. Yes, such as rape.

3. Definitions are, by definition, tautological. (Hey, look! Another tautology!)

Rhology said...

"Can't" and "won't" are different FOR HUMANS, but not for God. This is b/c God has an eternal and perfect purpose and plan. To change it would be to entail that the original version were not perfect and eternal, that God somehow learned something.

zilch said...

Rho- like God, I too can do anything that is possible for me to do. I guess I'm omnipotent too, then, following your reasoning. If not, why not?

zilch said...

And as far as "compatibilism" goes, I've posted on that here too. I don't see why I need a link: it seems self-evident to me that if God knows exactly what I'm going to do (omniscience), and moreover, He created me in exactly such a way that I would do what He knows I will do (omnipotence), then no matter what feelings I might have about "making decisions", it's an illusion: God has made all my decisions before I was born, and thus "free will" is impossible. It seems perfectly simple and airtight to me.

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "Can't" and "won't" are different FOR HUMANS, but not for God. This is b/c God has an eternal and perfect purpose and plan. To change it would be to entail that the original version were not perfect and eternal, that God somehow learned something.

This is a genuine question: in what sense is god an entity?

What you're putting under the term "god" seems more like a collection of forces, or laws.

Maximum Awesome said...

>ME 1. there are acts sinful for humans that are not sinful for god.

>RHO 1. Let me say this - there are acts that God is justified in doing that humans are not necessarily justified in doing. Putting humans to death, for example.

>ME 2. there are acts sinful for humans that are not even possible for god.

>RHO 2. Yes, such as rape.

You're welcome to rephrase my points, but I'm not sure why you chose to.

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "Definitions are, by definition, tautological. (Hey, look! Another tautology!)"

The statement "god can do anything that is possible to do" is not a definition.

Neither is the statement "god can do anything that it is possible for god to do".

***

Furthermore - I can do anything it is possible for me to do.

You can do anything it is possible for you to do.

A flea can do anything it is possible for a flea to do.

These statements are more tautological than a definition such as "shoes are protective foot coverings".

And none of them constitutes a definition of what I am, or what you are, or what a flea is.

Rhology said...

Tell you what. Please read this post.

Matthew Martellus gave me a hand on this one, so I'll include his thoughts in the next comment (he has limited time these days):

On Matthew Martellus' behalf said...

In particular, the definition of omnipotence that I defend there: "An agent A is omnipotent if for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the power to bring X about."

The next piece is to demonstrate that for God to rape (from immediate agency, just as human rape is a result of immediate agency) is a logically impossible state of affairs. One way to argue this is from God's immaterial nature:

Bx := "x has a body"
Rx := "x is able to rape"
g := "God"

1. ◻(x)(Rx ⊃ Bx)
2. ◻¬Bg
3. ¬◇Rg

Premise 1: By definition, ability to rape (as a result of immediate agency) requires having a body.
Premise 2: God's nature is spirit. Therefore, immateriality is an essential property. Therefore, it is impossible for God to have a body.
Conclusion (3): It is impossible for God to be able to rape (as a result of immediate agency).

The proof is as follows:

4. Asm: ¬¬◇Rg
5. ◇Rg
6. W:Rg
7. W:(x)(Rx ⊃ Bx)
8. W:(Rg ⊃ Bg)
9. W:¬Bg
10. W:¬Rg
QED (6 contradicts 10)

Hence, God being able to rape is a logically impossible state of affairs. Therefore, God's inability to rape does not contradict omnipotence.

Another way to prove this is from God's inability to act contrary to His own nature:

Ux := "x has committed an unrighteous act"
Rx := "x has committed a rape"
g := "God"

1. ◻(A)((Ag ⊃ Ug) ⊃ ¬◇Ag)
2. ◻(x)(Rx ⊃ Ux)
3. ¬◇Rg

Premise 1: As an essential property of God's nature (His self-consistency), if performing some action entails unrighteousness, then it is logically impossible for God to perform that action.
Premise 2: Necessarily, for all agents, committing an act of rape entails unrighteousness.
Conclusion (3): It is impossible for God to rape.

The proof is as follows:

4. Asm: ¬¬◇Rg
5. ◇Rg
6. W:Rg
7. W:(x)(Rx ⊃ Ux)
8. W:(Rg ⊃ Ug)
9. W:(A)((Ag ⊃ Ug) ⊃ ¬◇Ag)
10. W:((Rg ⊃ Ug) ⊃ ¬◇Rg)
11. W:¬◇Rg
12. W:◻¬Rg
13. W:¬Rg
QED (6 contradicts 13)

Hence, God's having committed a rape is a logically impossible state of affairs. Therefore, God's inability to rape does not contradict omnipotence.


Since God is omnipotent, inability for God is equivalent to logical impossibility. Since man is unable to do many things that are logically possible, man is not omnipotent. Hence, zilch's attempted reductio fails.

zilch said...

Sorry, rho, no cigar here. If you can be omnipotent but incapable of doing many actions because of your nature (raping, tying your shoes, etc.), then any flea or atom can also be "omnipotent". Do you really want this meaning for "omnipotent"? It's a rather peculiar one, and it's also one that every entity possesses, by your definition. The addition of logical symbols doesn't save this argument from vacuity.

Rhology said...

Neither does your failure to show which point is false demonstrate its vacuity.

zilch said...

Not only that, rho, but if God being immaterial would logically entail that God cannot rape, then it also means that God cannot have any other influence on the physical world. Can God cause earthquakes, but not rape, if He's immaterial? Can He push stones around, but not people? If so, how do you know which interactions with the physical world are possible, and which are impossible, to God? Good luck trying to get out of this one.

zilch said...

The problem is with your definition of "omnipotent", which you have not shown to be anything other than "capable of doing anything possible based upon one's nature"; in other words, "capable of doing anything that it is within your power of doing", which is within my reach, yours, and that of any cockroach. Again- is that really the way you want to define "omnipotent"?

Rhology said...

It helps that the definition of rape is very specific - sexual violation.
This requires corporeal form, by definition.
"Pushing" stuff around, as you indelicately put it, is not the same.

I don't need you to restate omnipotence, since Matthew and I have stated it already. Go ahead and quote us instead of paraphrasing, OK?

zilch said...

It helps that the definition of rape is very specific - sexual violation.
This requires corporeal form, by definition.
"Pushing" stuff around, as you indelicately put it, is not the same.


How is it not the same? Can you push stones around, or set a bush aflame, or cause the Sun to stand, without being material, but not rape? I really don't get it. Are you claiming that rape is impossible for God because He is not "endowed" for it, but that He is "endowed" for causing earthquakes (for instance)? Do you have Scriptural evidence for exactly what God is "endowed" to do or not?

Maximum Awesome said...

Zilch says it all. I'll say it again:

1. Unable to do logically possible things = not omnipotent. Showing me that your conception of god can't rape is identical to showing me that your conception of god is not omnipotent.

2. Why is a bodiless god less able to rape than he is to move physical objects? How did he hold and dump the flood waters? With what did he ignite the burning bush?

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO/Matt "By definition, ability to rape (as a result of immediate agency) requires having a body (...)Hence, God being able to rape is a logically impossible state of affairs. Therefore, God's inability to rape does not contradict omnipotence."

So ... god has no body, therefore he can't rape, therefore he can still be omnipotent and not be able to rape.

... huh?

I have no wings, therefore I can't fly, therefore I can still be omnipotent and not be able to fly?

Rhology said...

Unable to do logically possible things = not omnipotent.

OK, but for God to rape is logically impossible, as noted above.


Why is a bodiless god less able to rape than he is to move physical objects?

If by "less" you mean "not", then He is unable to sin and able to move material objects by His power, b/c He created matter.

Maximum Awesome said...

Incidentally, we're still 3 for 3 on this list, right?

1. there are acts sinful for humans that are not sinful for god.

2. there are acts sinful for humans that are not even possible for god.

3. the statement "god can do whatever it is possible for god to do" is a tautology.

Maximum Awesome said...

>ME, quoted by you: "Unable to do logically possible things = not omnipotent."

>YOU "OK, but for God to rape is logically impossible, as noted above."

OK?

Are you admitting your conception of god is not omnipotent?

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "He is unable to sin and able to move material objects by His power, b/c He created matter."

Sorry - are you saying god is UNable to move material objects?

How did he cause the flood? The burning bush? The ten commandments?

OTOH, if you're saying he is able to move physical objects - then he can either form himself a penis, use a proxy penis, or simply displace the area to be penetrated in a penis-like-shape without the intervention of an object (think "parting the red sea").

Sorry this is getting gross, but you insisted on being literal.

zilch said...

OK, but for God to rape is logically impossible, as noted above.

What do you mean by "logical" here, rho? If it's "logically impossible for God to rape because He's immaterial, then I would say that it's likewise "logically impossible" for Him to, say, cause it to rain for forty days and nights. You seem to have some mighty idiosyncratic definitions for "omnipotent" and "logical" here.

Maximum Awesome said...

Also, Rho,

If everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen is already set in stone - including all the rules that govern how god behaves in response to those events - if everything is on rails and god couldn't change it if he wanted to - in what sense is god an entity?

zilch said...

Excellent question, MA. In aspecto aeternitatem, our human lives can be seen as worms pinned immovably down to a space-time matrix. If God cannot change His mind or make new plans, then He, too, is pinned down, even if He is a much larger worm than we are. In any case, the God's eye view of our spacetime worms, and His creation of them, precludes any logical meaning for "free will". We may feel we have free will, but God has already written our script, and neither He nor we can deviate from it.

Rhology said...

The main problem here is that you are slyly attempting an external critique of the Christian concept of God but pretending like it's an internal critique.

I'm sorry, but you have to grant my premises if you want to create a valid internal critique. Else you're merely begging the question unless you can give us some means, on your own worldview, to know aught of which we're speaking.

And zilch has already told us that he can't be certain of most anything, so... that's going to be a tough deal.

The definition of God is to be derived from the Bible, and God is a higher authority than your puny brains' (puny relative to God) reasonings, not to mention a source of knowledge much deeper and higher and wider than you are.

Other things:
No, I said God is ABLE to move material objects.
Taking on human appendages, however, is another matter, and using them to perform a sinful action is yet more different.


if everything is on rails and god couldn't change it if he wanted to - in what sense is god an entity?

1) B/c He Himself is the one who decided how it would go.
2) B/c I've yet to see your definition of "entity" that somehow involves the necessary inclusion of libertarian free will. Please feel free to provide it.


If God cannot change His mind or make new plans, then He, too, is pinned down

1) It's always funny to me when atheists complain about free will. You yourself have no decision-making power, since any thoughts you have or think you have are reducible to mere chemical reactions. The chemical makeup of your neurons determine not only your thoughts but your memories, your personality, and thus your actions.
2) God is "pinned down" in a perfect plan. He won't change it b/c it's already perfect; why bother? As I said before, "can't" and "won't" are different FOR HUMANS, but not for God. This is b/c God has an eternal and perfect purpose and plan. To change it would be to entail that the original version were not perfect and eternal, that God somehow learned something.

Maximum Awesome said...

Rho,


Do you concede that your conception of god is not omnipotent?

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "you have to grant my premises if you want to create a valid internal critique."

Leprechaun coats are both "every colour of the rainbow" and "essentially green".

Criticising that statement does not require acceptance of the reality of leprechauns.

Furthermore, if the only way to criticise Leprechaun Theory is by becoming a leprechaun believer - there is no way to criticise Leprechaun Theory.

OTOH, if you're simply referring to my habit of talking about "god" without prefacing it with "your idea of god", that's just to save space and time. But if you'd like me to go on record: I have yet to be convinced by any religious or supernatural claims of any kind.

>RHO "The definition of God is to be derived from the Bible, and God is a higher authority than your puny brains' (puny relative to God) reasonings, not to mention a source of knowledge much deeper and higher and wider than you are."

You're defending your claims about god on the basis that one of those claims is that he's smarter than me.

>RHO "No, I said God is ABLE to move material objects.
Taking on human appendages, however, is another matter,"

For the purposes of this discussion, I've said he can also use an inorganic object as a penis proxy to commit rape (broom, dildo, cucumber, etc), or simply open the area to be penetrated without touching it directly.

These two examples disprove your claim that god's lack of a body is sufficient to prevent him from raping.

The only thing now preventing your idea of god from committing rape is the principle/law that rape is unjust.

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "B/c He Himself is the one who decided how it would go."

You've said that god could never have made morality any differently, that he cannot currently change the rules of logic, and that he cannot now act outside of the principles governing his own nature.

By using the word "decided", are you suggesting that there was a time window in the past when he had the option to make things differently, but that everything that's happened since - including all of his own actions - are choicelessly predetermined consequences?

If god chose his own nature, what basis did he have for choosing it?

If no such past time of choices ever occurred, has god never been capable of making a choice?

>RHO "I've yet to see your definition of "entity" that somehow involves the necessary inclusion of libertarian free will. Please feel free to provide it."

Does god have less, more, or the same amount of free will as humans? He seems to me to have zero.

But I don't see any possible definition of "entity" or "being" that your conception of god could meet, even leaving out the idea of free will.

Would you object to an impersonal characterisation of god?

People used to talk about the god of gravity, the god of lightning, the god of the waterfall, etc.

There is no god of the waterfall - there is just the waterfall.

There is no god of higher values - there are just higher values?

zilch said...

MA has already covered most of what I would say here. I'll just add this- rho says:

It's always funny to me when atheists complain about free will. You yourself have no decision-making power, since any thoughts you have or think you have are reducible to mere chemical reactions. The chemical makeup of your neurons determine not only your thoughts but your memories, your personality, and thus your actions.

Hmmm... so decisions, being reducible to atoms, are not really "decisions". Just like food is reducible to atoms, and thus it's not really "food", and skateboarding is reducible to atoms, and thus not really "skateboarding". Heck, everything is reducible to atoms (except subatomic particles, I hasten to add), and thus, nothing is really anything.

Your vitalism is showing here, rho. Even if determinism is true, it's also true that we go through processes we call "skateboarding", "eating", and "making decisions", and we don't know with any certainty the outcome, even if it is somehow determined. Thus, we have "free will" in the only way the term can have meaning: we go through a process of weighing alternatives, and make a choice based on our emotions, reasoning, and experience. What more do you want?

Matthew C. Martellus said...

Unable to do logically possible things = not omnipotent. Showing me that your conception of god can't rape is identical to showing me that your conception of god is not omnipotent.

I have no wings, therefore I can't fly, therefore I can still be omnipotent and not be able to fly?

Statements such as these evidence a failure to grasp and/or an unwillingness to honestly deal with the import of my arguments that Rho posted. Asserting such things as "God partakes in sexual intercourse" or "God does gymnastics on parallel bars" entails a general assertion of the form: "a necessarily unembodied entity performs a necessarily embodied action." Such an assertion is no less absurd than saying "this circle is square" or "two plus two equals five." All denote logically impossible states of affairs. If someone wants to assert that, on Christianity, that "God commits a rape" denotes a logically possible state of affairs, then that person needs to 1) provide an argument as to why that is the case, and 2) show how the previously-posted arguments are unsound. Short of this, there is no reason to accept that the assertion that "'God can rape' denotes a logically possible state of affairs" is anything more than wishful thinking on the part of the atheist.

On the other hand, the propositions "this human being is flying" or "this human being is walking on water" do not denote logically impossible states of affairs. Indeed, Jesus was a human being and did both of these things (His ascension, and walking on the Sea of Galilee, respectively), which confirms that such propositions do not denote logically impossible states of affairs. The fact that we do not possess the means to actualize these states of affairs is simply evidence of our lack of omnipotence. Examples of logically possible states of affairs that humans are unable to bring about could be multiplied ad nauseum.

Moreover, physical impossibility, given our current understanding of the universe, does not entail logical impossibility. It is logically possible that I be on Earth today and somewhere in another galaxy tomorrow, though there are no known available physical means of affecting such a displacement in so short a time. This is another example which demonstrates the human lack of omnipotence, while remaining consistent with the aforementioned definition of omnipotence.

zilch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zilch said...

Asserting such things as "God partakes in sexual intercourse" or "God does gymnastics on parallel bars" entails a general assertion of the form: "a necessarily unembodied entity performs a necessarily embodied action." Such an assertion is no less absurd than saying "this circle is square" or "two plus two equals five." All denote logically impossible states of affairs.

Okay, Matthew, if it is logically impossible for an "unembodied entity" to perform on the parallel bars, then it seems to me it would also be "logically impossible" for an "unembodied entity" to perform any action affecting the physical world- for instance, to make the Sun stand still or to walk on water- or for that matter, to show Moses His backside. Why would there be a difference? It all comes down to moving stuff around in the world, doesn't it? How does it "logically" follow that God, as an "unembodied entity", can impregnate a woman, but cannot rape?

Again- this is the sort of problem you can get into when words are uncoupled from the world, especially with powerful words such as anything starting with "omni". Special pleading for God's inability (in contrast to puny humans' ability) to perform on the parallel bars, or to rape, or to change His mind, as somehow not impinging upon His omnipotence, renders the word "omnipotence" rather peculiar. All this goes to show that the very notion of "omnipotence" is incoherent.

Rhology said...

it seems to me it would also be "logically impossible" for an "unembodied entity" to perform any action affecting the physical world

Equivocating on the term. MCM has spoken explicitly of embodiment, and you're talking about sthg else entirely - affecting the physical world.


Why would there be a difference?

B/c they're not the same.
One requires a body, the other does not. Pretty simple, unless one lets one's bias get in the way.


How does it "logically" follow that God, as an "unembodied entity", can impregnate a woman, but cannot rape?

You're referencing the Incarnation now, a specific event, and you need to be more precise. Jesus was placed inside Mary's body as (presumably) a zygote, and thus obtained a body.
God, generally speaking, is spirit and so, as non-embodied, can't perform sexual activity.
If you want to ask whether Jesus could have raped, that's an age-old question - could Jesus have sinned?
The answer is no, for rape is a sin. The physical capability was present for Jesus (ie, the requisite anatomy) but not the ability to perform moral wrongness. There's more to a man than just anatomy.


Special pleading for God's inability (in contrast to puny humans' ability) to perform on the parallel bars, or to rape

You say "special pleading"; I say "defining". Everyone begs the question when it comes to their fundamental axioms. I'm sorry that letting me define my own terms means that your argument bites the dust, but that's not my fault; get a better argument.

Rhology said...

Do you concede that your conception of god is not omnipotent?

No.


Leprechaun coats are both "every colour of the rainbow" and "essentially green".

According to what?


Criticising that statement does not require acceptance of the reality of leprechauns.

It does if leprechaun-tales claim to represent ultimate reality and claim a higher truth value and authority than empirical observation.
Do they? If yes, what makes you say that?


Furthermore, if the only way to criticise Leprechaun Theory is by becoming a leprechaun believer - there is no way to criticise Leprechaun Theory.

It's the only way to perform AN INTERNAL CRITIQUE.
You can perform an external one IF YOU HAVE A VALID WORLDVIEW FROM WHICH TO ARGUE. Which you, as an atheist, don't. If you disagree, go ahead and answer the myriad of logical problems I've brought up on this blog, such as the problem of other minds, the problem of the one and the many, the problem of induction, the problem of no normative moral authority, and the problem of the EAAN.
Good luck!


You're defending your claims about god on the basis that one of those claims is that he's smarter than me.

Correct. Now please show us all why that has no relevance.


I've said he can also use an inorganic object as a penis proxy to commit rape

It's a good thing I haven't restricted my answers only to His lack of a body, then isn't it?


The only thing now preventing your idea of god from committing rape is the principle/law that rape is unjust.

If you mean "rape with an object", OK, I can agree with that.


By using the word "decided", are you suggesting that there was a time window in the past when he had the option to make things differently, but that everything that's happened since - including all of his own actions - are choicelessly predetermined consequences?

No. At no "time" (even logically before time existed) did He think any differently about this issue (or any issue, really).


If god chose his own nature, what basis did he have for choosing it?

I don't say that God chose His own nature. It's how He is.


If no such past time of choices ever occurred, has god never been capable of making a choice?

This I'm not 100% sure about since it's quite mysterious. God hasn't really given us a ton of info about this particular question, but my partly-speculative answer is that no, not like we make choices, where we weigh alternatives in a temporal framework.
He's always known the perfect and always intended to perform the perfect, which is His plan.


Does god have less, more, or the same amount of free will as humans? He seems to me to have zero.

Hmm, I'm not sure really.
And when you get down to it, the question is entirely uninteresting to BOTH OF US.
TO ME because that which is good is more important than "freedom", if "freedom" means a possibility of evil.
TO YOU because in your worldview there is no such thing as good and evil, nor does freedom have any meaning, since you can't assign an objective "good/evil" value to anything, including freewill.



But I don't see any possible definition of "entity" or "being" that your conception of god could meet, even leaving out the idea of free will.

Sorry, that would be your problem, not mine.


Would you object to an impersonal characterisation of god?

Yes, for that is irrational, and it's also not my position.

David said...

I may have missed the answer, but I still don't understand why a cockroach is not omnipotent. A cockroach can do everything that a cockroach can do. It can do what is in its nature to do, it can't do what is not in its nature to do. It's as omnipotent as God.

Rhology said...

Yes, you missed the answer.

David said...

So, what's the answer. In English, not in logic symbols.

Rhology said...

That comment also includes English words and sentences, as do the comments following.

David said...

Those comments don't really solve the problem. It looks to me like you're just playing games with the word "logic" and with other words as well.

Your claim is that God cannot do certain things because it's "not in His nature". Well, a cockroach is also not able to do certain things because it's not in the cockroach's nature. God is no more omnipotent than a roach.

zilch said...

I didn't get the answer either. As far as I can see, rho and matthew are saying "God is omnipotent because He can do anything, as long as it's within His nature". That would apply to you, me, and cockroaches too.

I guess I have to ask exactly what "unembodied" means. Do you mean "not having human form", or "not being physical"? If the former, how could Moses see God's backside, and how could Jesus be God? If the latter, how can something non-physical affect something physical? How could Jesus be placed inside Mary's body as (presumably) a zygote, and thus obtain a body, if not physically? And if God is able to do this, but not to, say, change His mind or rape, then again, I say that you have a mighty peculiar definition of "omnipotent".

Rhology said...

That's just the thing - a roach and you CAN'T do anything that's within your nature AND CHARACTER to do.
There is no logical impossibility, as Matthew already pointed out, in you flying. It turns out that you lack some necesssary equipment, but it's not logically impossible. Ie, you're encased in a physical body, and physical bodies fly all the time, as long as they're equipped properly.

But God is a spirit and so that's not the same.
Also, Jesus always keeps His own laws, by definition, and so can't rape. You don't always keep God's laws and so can potentially rape.

Unembodied means both what you said, yes.
Moses saw God's figurative backside, that is, he saw a manifestation of His glory. Didn't really see God qua God.
Jesus can be God b/c God took on human flesh.
God can affect physical reality b/c this is His creation. How? I don't know; He didn't tell me the exact mechanics, but that's irrelevant.


I say that you have a mighty peculiar definition of "omnipotent".

What you think is peculiar doesn't matter ot me. What I care about is the argument, which you've tried and failed to substantiate.

zilch said...

Rho- again, you're using the word "logical" in a rather idiosyncratic way. I cannot fly because it's not within my nature: I don't have bird nature, and I cannot achieve bird nature. God cannot rape because He doesn't have human nature, or because He is "unembodied", or because it's sinful. These are all limitations on what I and God can and cannot do. How can God be said to be "omnipotent" if He cannot do things which are possible for other living beings to do?

I get that you believe that God can do lots of stuff we can't do- that's fine. But to defend His supposed omnipotence with your special definition of what "logical" means renders the terms meaningless outside your particular parochial interpretation of them.

Rhology said...

I cannot fly because it's not within my nature

1) How do you know that? You're an atheist. Where does your definition of "nature" come from, anyway?
2) It's not AGAINST your nature to fly. It's just beyond your abilities. That's perhaps the major diff between you and God w.r.t. this question.


your particular parochial interpretation of them.

"Parochial", "peculiar", blah blah blah.
You can keep repairing to the thesaurus, or you can start making a coherent case.

Maximum Awesome said...

>MM Asserting such things as "God partakes in sexual intercourse" or "God does gymnastics on parallel bars" entails a general assertion of the form: "a necessarily unembodied entity performs a necessarily embodied action." 

God can manipulate a dildo to satisfy my definition of rape.

Therefore, the argument against rape from physical impossibility is closed, as Rho acknowledges.

But, regarding the form of your argument in itself, as Zilch and David argue, to say that an entity is "necessarily un-X" and it is therefore not a reduction of their omnipotence for them to be unable to do "X related activities" is a logical form that can be applied to any entity and attribute: a cockroach lacks frontal lobes, and is therefore "necessarily incapable of doing logic": can we then say that a cockroach's inability to solve logic problems does not imply cockroaches are not omnipotent?

Incidentally, did god not incarnate in Jesus, in such a way as to be able to have sex or do gymnastics?

>RHO "Jesus was placed inside Mary's body as (presumably) a zygote, and thus obtained a body."

This is not part of my argument, just an interesting question: was there a divine sperm cell at some point? Or was Jesus' DNA half divine?

You've protested the idea of god taking on human appendages in the context of rape:

>RHO "Taking on human appendages, however, is another matter,"

Is god therefore incapable of taking on a penis for the purpose of rape, but fully capable of taking on sperm cells - or at least DNA - for consensual reproduction?

Was not therefore god, who is "essentially unembodied", at least partly embodied?

If not - if the sperm cell that produced Jesus was not god's, or if half of Jesus' DNA was not god's - Jesus was no more god's biological son than anyone else is.

Was the term "son" just a metaphor?

Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO "It's the only way to perform AN INTERNAL CRITIQUE. 
You can perform an external one IF YOU HAVE A VALID WORLDVIEW FROM WHICH TO ARGUE. Which you, as an atheist, don't."

You've been responding to my criticisms so far. If this internal/external thing were a deal breaker for you, you might as well have exercised it before you even started interacting with people who don't share your beliefs.

If I criticise the internal logic of the belief in leprechauns, is that internal or external critiquing?

>ME, quoted by RHO "You're defending your claims about god on the basis that one of those claims is that he's smarter than me."

>RHO "Correct. Now please show us all why that has no relevance."

The accuracy of your claims about god depend on the accuracy of your claims, not on any attribute that you claim god has.

Let me demonstrate: I have a leprechaun that cannot be criticised. If you criticise him, you are wrong by definition.

>ME The only thing now preventing your idea of god from committing rape is the principle/law that rape is unjust.

>RHO If you mean "rape with an object", OK, I can agree with that.

Thank you.

Maximum Awesome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maximum Awesome said...

>RHO my partly-speculative answer is that no (god could never make a choice), not like we make choices, where we weigh alternatives in a temporal framework.

OK. Speculativeness acknowledged.

>ME Would you object to an impersonal characterisation of god?

>RHO Yes, for that is irrational, and it's also not my position.

Why speculate that god isn't impersonal if "he's" never been able to make a choice?

Why not say there's a god of the waterfall? This god is immutably in accordance with the principles of the waterfall, to the point where, not only could he not change the waterfall's behaviour if he wanted to - he is even incapable of wanting to.

Why can't we just live in a universe which features the laws that you claim govern god - justice, truth, beauty, whatever - without the "god" who, as you've partly exegesised and partly speculated, is definitionally incapable of acting outside of those laws anyway?


God can't make choices outside of a set of impersonal laws, but he is not impersonal.

The god of gravity can't make choices outside of the laws of gravity, but he is not impersonal.

I am not arguing that there is a gravity god. I am demonstrating that there is no meaning to the idea of a "not impersonal" entity accounting for a set of laws when said entity is definitionally incapable of acting outside of said laws.

Maximum Awesome said...

If god's lack of an embodied nature means he can be incapable of performing certain actions while still being omnipotent, would not an entity lacking nature of any kind - and therefore being unable to perform an action of any kind - be equally omnipotent?

Could an entity lacking mental nature be unable to think, and still meet your definition of omnipotence?

zilch said...

MA- actually, as far as I can figure out, rho's definition of "omnipotence" means something like "maximally awesome". But I may be wrong here.

rho- you say:

1) How do you know that? You're an atheist. Where does your definition of "nature" come from, anyway?
2) It's not AGAINST your nature to fly. It's just beyond your abilities. That's perhaps the major diff between you and God w.r.t. this question.


My definition of "nature" comes from "nature": it's "the real world, minus fantasies". And what's the exact diff between "against my nature" and "beyond my abilities"? I think you mean some sort of difference between mental and physical inabilities, but for us atheists, it's all physical, and while there are lots of occasions where it's convenient to make this distinction, it's an artificial one. For instance, if I'm a recovering alcoholic taking antabuse, is taking a drink now "against my nature" or is is "beyond my abilities"?

"Parochial", "peculiar", blah blah blah.
You can keep repairing to the thesaurus, or you can start making a coherent case.


Whew, I was beginning to worry that you'd gone soft on us, rho- you were really toning down the invective for a while there. And for your info- I do have a Roget's here, but I don't need to repair to it often, certainly not for the vocabulary I use here. Anyone here not know what "parochial" means? C'mon.

David said...

I see that your use of the word "nature" is as vague and squishy and as poorly defined as your use of the word "logic".

Physical nature, spirit nature...it's all "nature". Nature is nature.

What difference does it make it an entity is limited by its physical nature or its spirit nature? Either way, the entity is limited by its nature. Either way, cockroaches and gods can do anything that is within their nature to do, and neither can do something that is not in their nature to do. Gods and roaches are equally omnipotent.

David said...

"This is not part of my argument, just an interesting question: was there a divine sperm cell at some point? Or was Jesus' DNA half divine?"

You know, I've always wondered about the genetics of Jesus! Oh, wait, I know. It's a mystery.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

ZILCH SAID:

Okay, Matthew, if it is logically impossible for an "unembodied entity" to perform on the parallel bars, then it is also "logically impossible" for an "unembodied entity" to perform any action affecting the physical world

Only if such actions affecting the physical world are necessarily embodied actions. Inasmuch as God is creator and sustainer of the universe, there is at least one immaterial being that has the ability to create and sustain material objects through the immediate exercise of his will. Therefore, simply changing the properties of material objects is not a necessarily embodied action. If you want to defeat our position, you need to deal with the arguments I have made, not misconstruals of those arguments.

As far as I can see, rho and matthew are saying "God is omnipotent because He can do anything, as long as it's within His nature". That would apply to you, me, and cockroaches too.

What I originally said: "An agent A is omnipotent if for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the power to bring X about."

As far as I can see, zilch has a problem dealing honestly with our position.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

MAXIMUM AWESOME SAID:

God can manipulate a dildo to satisfy my definition of rape.

I will grant the point that it is not logically impossible, based on God's immateriality, to commit "object rape." However:

1. Most usages of the term "rape" denote an act of sexual intercourse, which is a necessarily embodied action. That was the sense in which I was using the term.

2. Defining rape in this manner does nothing to defeat the second argument, based on God's necessary self-consistency.

Incidentally, did god not incarnate in Jesus, in such a way as to be able to have sex or do gymnastics?

Jesus is not identical to the triune Godhead, so it does not follow that "If X is true of Jesus, X is true of God." More on this here and here.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

a cockroach lacks frontal lobes, and is therefore "necessarily incapable of doing logic": can we then say that a cockroach's inability to solve logic problems does not imply cockroaches are not omnipotent?

If god's lack of an embodied nature means he can be incapable of performing certain actions while still being omnipotent, would not an entity lacking nature of any kind - and therefore being unable to perform an action of any kind - be equally omnipotent?

Could an entity lacking mental nature be unable to think, and still meet your definition of omnipotence?


These kinds of replies are predicated upon a gross misconstrual of my original arguments.

My formulation: "An agent A is omnipotent if for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the means to bring X about."

The straw man: "An agent A is omnipotent if for every logically possible state of affairs X that A is capable of bring about by virtue of direct agency, A possesses the means to bring X about."

The two are completely different ideas, yet for some reason our detractors feel completely fine imputing the latter to us while ignoring the former. This evidences a gross failure to deal honestly with our position.

Perhaps I can make things painfully clear, with the following examples:

CX := "A material entity has come into existence ex nihilo, such that the total mass of the universe is increased"
SC := "A square circle has come into existence"
GI := "God has acted inconsistently with Himself"

CX denotes a logically possible state of affairs. Indeed, CX holds true with respect to the creation of the material universe (which confirms its possibility).

A rock does not possess the means to bring CX about. Therefore, rocks are not omnipotent.

A cockroach does not possess the means to bring CX about. Therefore, cockroaches are not omnipotent.

A mere human being does not possess the means to bring CX about. Therefore, mere human beings are not omnipotent.

God possesses the means to bring CX about. Therefore, God's abilities with respect to CX are consistent with His omnipotence.



SC denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

A rock does not possess the means to bring SC about. Since SC is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of rocks.

A cockroach does not possess the means to bring SC about. Since SC is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of cockroaches.

A human being does not possess the means to bring SC about. Since SC is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of human beings.

God does not possess the means to bring SC about. Since SC is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of God.



GI denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

A rock does not possess the means to bring GI about. Since GI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of rocks.

A cockroach does not possess the means to bring GI about. Since GI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of cockroaches.

A human being does not possess the means to bring GI about. Since GI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of human beings.

God does not possess the means to bring GI about. Since GI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of God.

David said...

"It does not follow that "If X is true of Jesus, X is true of God."

Correct. One must remember that Christianity is tritheistic.

David said...

Matthew,

You keep repeating the same thing. God can do what is within his nature or capacity to do. God cannot do what is not within his nature or capacity to do.

The same is true for roaches.

zilch said...

I said:

As far as I can see, rho and matthew are saying "God is omnipotent because He can do anything, as long as it's within His nature". That would apply to you, me, and cockroaches too.

Matthew replied:

What I originally said: "An agent A is omnipotent if for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the power to bring X about."

But you still haven't explained the difference between "logically impossible" (in this very special sense of yours) and "not within the nature", thus our confusion on this point. I don't really see the analogy between square circles and rape here, for instance. A square circle is logically inconceivable within itself, with no need of an agent who can or can't "do" it. Rape, or flight, are not logically inconceivable; and I don't see how a being who can't do both can be considered "omnipotent".

Inasmuch as God is creator and sustainer of the universe, there is at least one immaterial being that has the ability to create and sustain material objects through the immediate exercise of his will. Therefore, simply changing the properties of material objects is not a necessarily embodied action.

Okay, fair enough. What you're saying here is "God can do some magic stuff and not other magic stuff, because of His particular magical nature", which I can't argue with, for the same reason I can't argue about the relative strengths of gnomes and elves. This is beyond the reach of evidence or logic, so I will have to bow out at this point.

cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

Matthew C. Martellus said...

DAVID SAID:

One must remember that Christianity is tritheistic.

One must remember that David tendentiously fails to deal honestly with Christianity.

Matthew,

You keep repeating the same thing. God can do what is within his nature or capacity to do. God cannot do what is not within his nature or capacity to do.

The same is true for roaches.


David,

You keep repeating the same thing, and ignoring the arguments that refute your vapid objections. If the natural abilities of roaches precludes them from bringing about logically possible states of affairs, how is it any injury to my position to claim (as I did in the last post), that this proves that roaches are not omnipotent?

Are you actually going to address the arguments that I've presented, or are you going to persist in refusing to deal honestly with our position?

David said...

"One must remember that David tendentiously fails to deal honestly with Christianity."

I'm sorry, but Christianity is tritheistic. That is an honest appraisal, and it's hardly an appraisal that is uniquely mine. How is it "dishonest" to say what I've said? I disagree with you on this point. But I'm not being "dishonest".

David said...

“You keep repeating the same thing, and ignoring the arguments that refute your vapid objections. If the natural abilities of roaches precludes them from bringing about logically possible states of affairs, how is it any injury to my position to claim (as I did in the last post), that this proves that roaches are not omnipotent? Are you actually going to address the arguments that I've presented, or are you going to persist in refusing to deal honestly with our position?”

I AM trying to deal “honestly” with your position. What’s with the accusations of dishonesty? Is this something that you learned from Jesus?

The problem has to do with your very slippery use of words like “logic” and “nature” and “natural abilities”. This has been all word games and unsupported assumptions on your part (Rho’s, too), so it’s often very difficult to pin down exactly what you mean by your statements.

Ok, let’s look at the limits on God’s “omnipotence.” You say that it’s “logically impossible” for God to rape, and since it’s “logically impossible”, you seem to dismiss that fact that this limits God’s alleged omnipotence. Humans can rape, so humans can do something God can’t do. God can’t rape, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t omnipotent, because raping people is not a “logically possible state of affairs” for God.

We next ask the question, WHY is it logically impossible for God (or a penis-packing Jesus) to commit rape? WHY is raping people is not a “logically possible state of affairs” for God

Well, we are told “it not in God’s nature” to rape. That’s it. That’s the key assertion, that’s what this all turns on. It is not logically possible for God to do those things that are not of, or beyond, or contrary to God's nature.

Now, putting aside for moment that that it is merely an unsupported assertion to say that God wouldn’t do anything “sinful” like rape, what have we learned?

We’ve learned that God can do what is within his nature or capacity to do. God cannot do what is not within his nature or capacity to do.

The same is true for roaches, and here's why.

You appear to be claiming that roaches are not omnipotent because there are things that roaches can’t do, like making stars. And you appear to be claiming that something like making stars would be a “logically possible state of affairs” for roaches.

But "star making" is NOT a logically possible state of affairs for roaches, just as it’s not a logically possible state of affairs for God to rape. It is beyond the “nature” or capacity of roaches to make stars, so it is not a “logically possible state of affairs” that roaches can make stars. It is logically impossible for roaches to make stars because this is not in the nature or capacity of roaches.

You’ve cleverly change “nature” to “natural abilities”, but this is just playing with words. We’re talking about the nature of roaches, just as we were talking about the nature of gods. Nature is nature is nature. Changing the words doesn’t change what we were talking about it. It’s just a clever trick.

It still comes down to entities can do what is in their nature to do and they can’t do what is not in their nature to do. It’s the same for gods and roaches.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

ZILCH SAID:

But you still haven't explained the difference between "logically impossible" (in this very special sense of yours) and "not within the nature", thus our confusion on this point.

There is nothing special about the sense in which "logically impossible" is meant, and inasmuch as you assert that I have used it in a special sense, you need to make an argument to that effect.

It is logically impossible for a circle to be square, by virtue of the essential properties of a circle. In the same sense, it is logically impossible for God to act contrary to His own character, by virtue of the essential properties of God. In the same sense, it is logically impossible for a necessarily embodied being to perform a necessarily embodied action.

How these logical impossibilities apply to rape was demonstrated in the arguments Rho posted originally, which you have not dealt with.

Rape, or flight, are not logically inconceivable; and I don't see how a being who can't do both can be considered "omnipotent".

If you honestly can't see the logical absurdity of the proposition that "a necessarily unembodied entity performs a necessarily embodied action," then there's nothing further I can do to help you understand.

Okay, fair enough. What you're saying here is "God can do some magic stuff and not other magic stuff, because of His particular magical nature"

Not that it will really make a difference to say this, but that is not at all what I said. Feel free to keep reframing the discussion in fantastical terms in order to avoid having to deal honestly with Christianity, but don't think that such an approach carries any probative force.

This is beyond the reach of evidence or logic, so I will have to bow out at this point.

If it is beyond the reach of logic, you need to demonstrate how. Christians have been reasoning about the creative and sustaining powers of God for centuries, which shows that such abilities are not "beyond the reach of logic."

Neither are such things "beyond the reach of evidence," as these attributes are revealed to us in Scripture by God Himself. Looking at things under a mindset of methodological naturalism, one will not be able to conclude anything about God's abilities, as such a mindset rules out the supernatural from the start, rendering such a claim rather vacuous.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

DAVID SAID:

I'm sorry, but Christianity is tritheistic. That is an honest appraisal, and it's hardly an appraisal that is uniquely mine. How is it "dishonest" to say what I've said? I disagree with you on this point. But I'm not being "dishonest".

Okay, fair enough. But if you really have honestly evaluated Christianity, one would expect you to have the following:

1. Arguments that demonstrate why a Bible-believing Christian should reject trinitarian monotheism, in spite of the arguments made for it by orthodox trinitarians.

2. Arguments that demonstrate why a Bible-believing Christian should accept tritheism, in spite of the objections raised against it by orthodox trinitarians.

So, what are you arguments in this regard?

Matthew C. Martellus said...

DAVID SAID:

I AM trying to deal “honestly” with your position. What’s with the accusations of dishonesty?

If you were dealing honestly with my position, one would expect you to address the arguments I have put forth, on their own terms, instead of ignoring them and attacking straw men.

The problem has to do with your very slippery use of words like “logic” and “nature” and “natural abilities”. This has been all word games and unsupported assumptions on your part (Rho’s, too), so it’s often very difficult to pin down exactly what you mean by your statements.

This is an unsubstantiated assertion that I reject. What is your argument?

You say that it’s “logically impossible” for God to rape, and since it’s “logically impossible”, you seem to dismiss that fact that this limits God’s alleged omnipotence.

In raising this objection, you seem to dismiss my definition of omnipotence in the first place, which does not concern logically impossible states of affairs. One would not expect such a dismissal if you were dealing honestly with my position.

Humans can rape, so humans can do something God can’t do.

Which is not a problem, given my definition of omnipotence. If you want to assert that this is a problem, on Christianity, then make an argument to that effect.

God can’t rape, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t omnipotent, because raping people is not a “logically possible state of affairs” for God.

This wording of this statement could be construed to imply relativism, which Christianity rejects. I would simply say, as I've said before, that "God commits a rape" denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

Well, we are told “it not in God’s nature” to rape. That’s it. That’s the key assertion, that’s what this all turns on.

"It's not in God's nature to rape" is a statement that lacks precision, and one which I have avoided. What I have asserted is that committing a rape is logically incompatible with two of God's essential properties: His immateriality and His self-consistency.

Now, putting aside for moment that that it is merely an unsupported assertion to say that God wouldn’t do anything “sinful” like rape

Such an assertion is not unsupported, on Christianity, given the Scriptural declaration of God's holiness (Is. 6, Ex. 15:11, 1 Sam. 2:2) and righteousness (Is 45:21, Ps. 145:17, 1 Jn. 2:29) and self-consistency (Ex. 3:14, 1 Sam. 15:29, Mal. 3:6, 2 Ti. 2:13, Heb. 6:18, Jas 1:17). If you want to deal honestly with my position while maintaining that this is "merely an unsupported assertion," you need to show why a Bible-believing Christian ought not to believe this.

We’ve learned that God can do what is within his nature or capacity to do. God cannot do what is not within his nature or capacity to do.

This is correct, inasmuch as it refers to immediate agency. But it says nothing, in and of itself, about God's omnipotence.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

(continued)

You appear to be claiming that roaches are not omnipotent because there are things that roaches can’t do, like making stars.

Here is precisely what I am claiming with respect to roaches:

CX := "A material entity has come into existence ex nihilo, such that the total mass of the universe is increased"

1. If an agent A is omnipotent, then for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the means to bring X about.
2. If a roach is omnipotent, then for every logically possible state of affairs X, a roach possesses the means to bring X about.
3. CX denotes a logically possible state of affairs.
4. Therefore, if a roach is omnipotent, it possesses the means to bring CX about.
5. A roach does not possess the means to bring CX about.
6. Therefore, a roach is not omnipotent.

If you disagree with this argument, state which step and why.

And you appear to be claiming that something like making stars would be a “logically possible state of affairs” for roaches.

But "star making" is NOT a logically possible state of affairs for roaches, just as it’s not a logically possible state of affairs for God to rape. It is beyond the “nature” or capacity of roaches to make stars, so it is not a “logically possible state of affairs” that roaches can make stars. It is logically impossible for roaches to make stars because this is not in the nature or capacity of roaches.


What you have asserted is a completely different proposition from what I asserted in my examples. What you are asserting as impossible is a proposition of the following form:

CXR := "A roach brings CX to pass by immediate agency based upon its own nature"

CXR pertains to CX, but is a different proposition. I would agree that CXR denotes a logically impossible state of affairs, but that has no bearing on whether or not CX demonstrates the non-omnipotence of roaches. This is due to the simple fact that CX makes no reference to the cause of the material entity coming into existence; it only asserts that the coming-into-existence has occurred. You are conflating CXR with CX, which fails to do justice to my previous examples.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario. Let CS := "A star has come into existence ex nihilo." Now suppose that God were to resolve that whenever a roach walked in three consecutive counter-clockwise circles, God would create a new star somewhere, ex nihilo. In that case, a roach would possess means to bring CS about - namely, walking in three consecutive counter-clockwise circles. Such a result of utilizing such means would not be the result of immediate agency based upon the nature of a cockroach, but rather the result of mediate agency, through the agency of God.

Such an example simply goes to show that while CXR denotes a logically impossible state of affairs, this does nothing to show that CX does not denote a logically possible state of affairs, and thus does nothing to defeat my previous examples concerning the consistency of this concept of omnipotence.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

(continued)

Now, if CXR denotes a logically impossible state of affairs, then God's inability to bring it about says nothing more about his omnipotence than His inability to bring GI about, or His inability to create square circles. None of these say anything about His omnipotence, since all denote logically impossible states of affairs.

(For review, GI := "God has acted inconsistently with Himself")

If you want to convince me of my wrongheadeness, you need to do one or more of the following:

1. Demonstrate why a Bible-believing Christian ought not to accept this concept of omnipotence, on its own terms.
2. Demonstrate why a Bible-believing Christian ought not to accept that GI denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.
3. Demonstrate that a Bible-believing Christian who accepts this concept of omnipotence and accepts that GI denotes a logically impossible state of affairs ought to accept that God is not onmipotent.


You’ve cleverly change “nature” to “natural abilities”, but this is just playing with words.

If you're going to make these kinds of assertions, you need to quote the statements in question and show how this is the case.

We’re talking about the nature of roaches, just as we were talking about the nature of gods. Nature is nature is nature. Changing the words doesn’t change what we were talking about it. It’s just a clever trick.

We're not just talking about nature, but about omnipotence. If you think a particular concept of "nature" defeats my concept of omnipotence, you need to make that argument explicitly.

It still comes down to entities can do what is in their nature to do and they can’t do what is not in their nature to do. It’s the same for gods and roaches.

Actually, it come down to what means of actualizing logically possible states of affairs that entities possess, and it is possible that such means involve mediate agency. Restricting the discussion of means to immediate agency only is unreasonable and fails to do justice to my position.

Maximum Awesome said...

>MATT I will grant the point that it is not logically impossible, based on God's immateriality, to commit "object rape."

Thank you.

>MATT Jesus is not identical to the triune Godhead, so it does not follow that "If X is true of Jesus, X is true of God."

Accepted.

Incidentally, would it be possible to assign a percentage value to Jesus' divinity? Could god then be said to be 30% capable of performing a parallel bars routine?

Maximum Awesome said...

>MATTHEW (numbering system mine - MA)

> 1. GI := "God has acted inconsistently with Himself"

> 2. GI denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

> 3. God does not possess the means to bring GI about. Since GI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of God.

By defining god as both "unembodied" and "incapable of acting outside of the range of a set of impersonal laws", you're insisting that he is definitionally limited in ways that other entities, such as cockroaches or humans, are not limited.

With those limits in place, you can then specify which acts are or are not "consistent with god", granting or denying him any and all capacities without violating the supposed links of the above logic chain.

Reductio ad absurdum:

1. LI := "Leprechaun King has acted inconsistently with Himself"

Leprechaun King is an inherently non-mental entity, and therefore thinking is inconsistent with Leprechaun King.

2. LI (in this case, thinking) denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

3. Leprechaun King does not possess the means to bring LI about. Since LI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of Leprechaun King.

The problem is the gap between step 1 and step 2.

***

Incidentally, Matthew, do you agree with Rho's speculation that god cannot make a choice? You don't have to, of course - I don't agree with everything the other hecklers on here say:

>RHO my partly-speculative answer is that no, not like we make choices, where we weigh alternatives in a temporal framework.

I'm just baffled at the idea of an entity incapable of choice also being omnipotent. Couldn't the god of frying pans be omnipotent too, if we define him as being incapable of acting outside the impersonal laws governing the nature of frying pans?

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

Incidentally, while of course nobody is compelled, I still invite response to the unaddressed points in my last batch of posts.

Maximum Awesome said...

>MATT Defining rape in this manner (object rape - MA) does nothing to defeat the second argument, based on God's necessary self-consistency.

I wouldn't want to defeat it - it's what I've been pushing for.

It has never been my intention to argue that god should logically be able to commit rape (with an object, if you like): what I've been trying to show is that god's very inability to rape demonstrates his lack of omnipotence.

zilch said...

Matthew said:

There is nothing special about the sense in which "logically impossible" is meant, and inasmuch as you assert that I have used it in a special sense, you need to make an argument to that effect.

It is logically impossible for a circle to be square, by virtue of the essential properties of a circle. In the same sense, it is logically impossible for God to act contrary to His own character, by virtue of the essential properties of God. In the same sense, it is logically impossible for a necessarily embodied being to perform a necessarily embodied action.


I did make an argument to the effect that you are using "logically possible (or impossible)" in a special sense- to wit:

A square circle is logically inconceivable within itself, with no need of an agent who can or can't "do" it. Rape, or flight, are not logically inconceivable; and I don't see how a being who can't do both can be considered "omnipotent".

Do you see the difference here? If you say that God cannot rape because He cannot sin, that makes sense within your belief system. But to upgrade rape to a "logical impossibility" for God seems to me to be a special use of "logical" at odds with the usual; and moreover, seems to be solely motivated by a desire to preserve God's supposed omnipotence. Otherwise, I could say the same of myself: because of my character (or nature), it is likewise impossible for me to rape, or to fly, or to create worlds. You've not shown any principled way to draw a line between all the various things that I, or God, or cockroaches cannot do because of "logical impossibility" as opposed to "simple incapability", other than special pleading.

As soon as you postulate the existence of such things as "unembodied entities" which can somehow interact with matter, then your fancy is untrammeled; you can make up whatever "logical" strictures you want, and there is no way to seriously debate them, because they are simply assertions of belief, rather than observations that can be substantiated or not.

zilch said...

The real problem here, as I've said before, is that unfettered notions such as "omnipotence" (or "absolute truth", or "objective morality") are incoherent in themselves. Thus, there is no way, as far as I can see, to define "omnipotence" in such a way that you don't run into logical problems.

I said:

This is beyond the reach of evidence or logic, so I will have to bow out at this point.

You replied:

If it is beyond the reach of logic, you need to demonstrate how. Christians have been reasoning about the creative and sustaining powers of God for centuries, which shows that such abilities are not "beyond the reach of logic."

I believe I have demonstrated how these beliefs are beyond the reach of evidence and logic. The mere assertion that Christians have been reasoning about them for centuries is not a demonstration of the logical coherence of these ideas- or would you say that the centuries of Muslim reasoning about Allah is also logically coherent?

This is another example, imho, of sinning in haste and repenting at leisure (in a logical sense): the Bible was written by people who simply wanted their God to be the biggest, the baddest, and the bestest, and thus tossed around superlatives like there was no tomorrow: their God was of course omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, and they didn't stop to work out the logical ramifications of all these unbounded attributes. That task was left to the centuries of theologians who followed, who labored to squoosh these logically incoherent notions into a plausible sounding framework. Whether they have succeeded or not is of course up to everyone to decide for themselves.

To conclude- you are of course welcome to entertain whatever beliefs you have about the nature of God's omnipotence. I don't have a better idea about what "omnipotence" "really" means, because I don't think it's a coherent notion. But to defend God's inability to rape, or change His mind, as being "logically impossible" in the same way that a square circle is logically impossible is a very special use of "logical", as MA, David, and I have shown.

cheers from overcast Vienna, zilch

Matthew C. Martellus said...

MAXIMUM AWESOME SAID:

Incidentally, would it be possible to assign a percentage value to Jesus' divinity? Could god then be said to be 30% capable of performing a parallel bars routine?

I've written on this type of question here.

By defining god as both "unembodied" and "incapable of acting outside of the range of a set of impersonal laws", you're insisting that he is definitionally limited in ways that other entities, such as cockroaches or humans, are not limited.

Inasmuch as an entity has some set of essential properties, there will be a corresponding set of properties that it is logically impossible to predicate of an entity of that essence. At the very least, these are the negations of the essential properties. Any essence entails logical limitations, and this applies to God as well as to man. Since this is unavoidable, perhaps you can explain why this is a problem.

With those limits in place, you can then specify which acts are or are not "consistent with god", granting or denying him any and all capacities without violating the supposed links of the above logic chain.

With the limits of the essence of circles in place, you can then specify which acts are or are not "consistent with circles," granting or denying them any all capacities (within those limits) without violating the supposed links of the above logic chain.

Reductio ad absurdum:

1. LI := "Leprechaun King has acted inconsistently with Himself"

Leprechaun King is an inherently non-mental entity, and therefore thinking is inconsistent with Leprechaun King.

2. LI (in this case, thinking) denotes a logically impossible state of affairs.

3. Leprechaun King does not possess the means to bring LI about. Since LI is logically impossible, this says nothing about the omnipotence of Leprechaun King.

The problem is the gap between step 1 and step 2.


I would agree that the impossibility of an essentially non-mental entity thinking says nothing about the omnipotence of such an entity. However, this does not entail that there is nothing that does pertain to the omnipotence of such an entity, such as the postulated Leprechaun King (LK). This objection is of the same form that David raised above, and it fails for the same reasons. Consider the following:

TX := "An idea has been thought"
TXL := "Leprechaun King brings TX about by thinking a thought"

Inasmuch as LK is essentially non-mental, I would agree that TXL denotes a logically impossible state of affairs. Thus, TXL does not have any bearing on the issue of the omnipotence of LK. However, this does not mean that there is nothing that has such bearing (such as TX), as the following argument demonstrates:

1. If an agent A is omnipotent, then for every logically possible state of affairs X, A possesses the means to bring X about.
2. If LK is omnipotent, then for every logically possible state of affairs X, LK possesses the means to bring X about.
3. TX denotes a logically possible state of affairs.
4. Therefore, if LK is omnipotent, he possesses the means to bring TX about.
5. Being essentially non-mental, LK does not possess the means to bring TX about.
6. Therefore, LK is not omnipotent.

Thus, one can quite easily conclude that LK is not omnipotent, using this concept of omnipotence, and yet account for the ideas behind your attempted reductio.

what I've been trying to show is that god's very inability to rape demonstrates his lack of omnipotence.

So what is the argument, then, given my definition of omnipotence?

Matthew C. Martellus said...

zilch,

Let me know when you're ready to deal seriously and honestly with my arguments on their own terms. Until then, I don't really have anything else worth saying on this particular matter.

zilch said...

Let me know when you're ready to deal seriously and honestly with my arguments on their own terms. Until then, I don't really have anything else worth saying on this particular matter.

Matt, where have I been dishonest? You've also accused David of being dishonest, and I don't see it. But I will admit to not always being perfectly serious- these discussions tend to get pretty grim without a bit of levity. But I have tried to deal with your arguments seriously too. If I've somehow offended, my apologies.

That said, I don't think I have anything to add here either. We've reached an impasse, as I've explained. As far as dealing with your arguments on their own terms goes, I've done that too, for instance in saying that I understand that, on your belief, God cannot rape because He cannot sin. But when you claim that your obviously special sense of words such as "logical" is not special, then you are asking me to accept your terms as my terms, and that I cannot do, without sharing your belief.

In any case, cheers from time-for-lunch Vienna, zilch

Rhology said...

But when you claim that your obviously special sense of words such as "logical" is not special, then you are asking me to accept your terms as my terms, and that I cannot do, without sharing your belief.

Precisely. Let me translate:
Since you keep insisting that I perform a proper internal critique, I've got nothing.


And Maximum Awesome, about "God can't make a choice", you didn't properly represent my position. Surprise, surprise.
The position is that God has already made the choices.

zilch said...

Since you keep insisting that I perform a proper internal critique, I've got nothing.

rho- since when have I insisted that you perform a proper internal critique? As I said to Matthew, it's fine with me whatever you want to believe. The problem comes when you insist that my position is untenable, based on my criteria, which is exactly what you have done.

Rhology said...

No, your critique of MY position is untenable, b/c you can't
1) perform an internal critique, and
2) are uncertain of everything (thus nullifying your ability to perform an external critique).

David said...

Rho,

What's with this obsession with "internal critique"? In you mind, what's the significance of "internal critique"?

David said...

I’m going to try to be brief, because as Zilch says, the fundamental problem it that…

“Your fancy is untrammeled; you can make up whatever "logical" strictures you want, and there is no way to seriously debate them, because they are simply assertions of belief, rather than observations that can be substantiated or not….Unfettered notions such as "omnipotence" (or "absolute truth", or "objective morality") are incoherent in themselves. Thus, there is no way, as far as I can see, to define "omnipotence" in such a way that you don't run into logical problems.”

…and eventually, even I get tired of playing games with castles in the air. I’ll go around the circle one more time, but that’s probably enough.

A partially short answer to the trinity question is Luke 22:42, but I’m going to skip over the trinity question, because it’s a matter your faith. You’ll reject my points, and you will inevitably fall back on what I consider unconvincing arguments about the definition of “person” and “entity”. I understand the arguments, but I find them very unsatisfying and I’m tired of word games.

“In raising this objection, you seem to dismiss my definition of omnipotence in the first place, which does not concern logically impossible states of affairs.”

No, I’m not dismissing it. What I’m saying is that for roaches, there are also “logically impossible states of affairs”. Yes, your definition of omnipotence IS tied to LISA. You’ve tied the question of omnipotence and LISA to the question of the “nature” of the entity for which a LISA exists. THAT’s the key point.

“What I have asserted is that committing a rape is logically incompatible with two of God's essential properties: His immateriality and His self-consistency.”

Same thing I said, just with more word.


“Such an assertion is not unsupported, on Christianity, given the Scriptural declaration of God's holiness…”

Ah, I see that we have different definitions of “supported”. In your case, if someone writes something down over two thousand years ago, and you believe it, that’s enough for you. You know, one can be “holy” and “righteous” and still sin.

“If you disagree with this argument, state which step and why."

You said it yourself. A roach does not possess the means to bring CX about. It is not in the nature of roaches to be able to make stars. Same thing as not in the nature of God to commit a rape. Roaches are still as omnipotent as gods.


“CX makes no reference to the cause of the material entity coming into existence; it only asserts that the coming-into-existence has occurred. You are conflating CXR with CX, which fails to do justice to my previous examples.”

Special pleading. In discussing the question of bringing material entities into existence, we’re just talking about the difference between the (alleged) nature of God and the nature of roaches. God can (allegedly) bring materials into existence, because it’s in God “nature” that God can do this. But it is not in the nature of roaches.
Therefore, the inability of a roach to bring material entities into exists says nothing, in and of itself, about the omnipotence of roaches. Remember, you tied omnipotence to LISAs and the nature of entities. I’m just following through.


“Such an example simply goes to show that while CXR denotes a logically impossible state of affairs, this does nothing to show that CX does not denote a logically possible state of affairs.”

CX is a LISA because it’s not in the nature of roaches to create material entities out of nothing. See how the game is played?

“We're not just talking about nature, but about omnipotence. “

But you’ve tied omnipotence to nature. These are your “Bible-believing” definitions. I just took this to its “logical” conclusion.

Rhology said...

Ooops.

David,
Dealt with here and here.

David said...

So, if something is internally consistent, it's true?

I've seen what it takes to maintain that the Bible is internally consistent. Such twistings and turnings!

zilch said...

My only critique of your position here, rho, is in your usage of "omnipotent" and "logical". As I've shown (along with David and MA), you have special meanings of the two words which are at odds with the usual meanings. But as I've also said, there's not much point in debating what "omnipotent" means, because it's internally incoherent; so I'll gladly leave the working out of the "true" meaning to you and yours.

And as far as my "nullified ability" to perform an external critique goes, because of my uncertainty, that's simply a bald assertion of yours. Is my ability to teach children that 2+2=4 also "nullified"? Or my ability to give workshops in medieval music practice? If not, why not? Again, unless you can show that my uncertainty incapacitates me somehow, or that your alleged certainty really obtains, this is just a barefaced claim.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Rhology said...

Is my ability to teach children that 2+2=4 also "nullified"? Or my ability to give workshops in medieval music practice? If not, why not?

Yes, b/c you assume Christianity in order to teach those things. There's no way to say you have anything substantial to offer, on atheism.
You ASSUME you do, but that's hardly my problem.

David said...

"Yes, b/c you assume Christianity in order to teach those things."


We're back to this assertion? All my life's a circle.

zilch said...
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zilch said...

zilch: Is my ability to teach children that 2+2=4 also "nullified"? Or my ability to give workshops in medieval music practice? If not, why not?

rho: Yes, b/c you assume Christianity in order to teach those things. There's no way to say you have anything substantial to offer, on atheism.
You ASSUME you do, but that's hardly my problem.


So rho, when I say that 2+2=4, is it not true? Or do you mean that I shouldn't teach it? Please clarify this point. And: are Muslims who teach 2+2=4 also borrowing from Christianity? What about Aristotle teaching 2+2=4? Sorry, this is just too silly.

Maximum Awesome said...

>ME If no such past time of choices ever occurred, has god never been capable of making a choice?

>RHO This I'm not 100% sure about since it's quite mysterious. God hasn't really given us a ton of info about this particular question, but my partly-speculative answer is that no, not like we make choices, where we weigh alternatives in a temporal framework.
He's always known the perfect and always intended to perform the perfect, which is His plan.

>RHO I don't say that God chose His own nature. It's how He is.

>RHO The position is that God has already made the choices.

If god can only act within his nature, and if he didn't choose his nature, then he's never been able to make a choice. Anything that might look like a choice to an outside observer is just the automatic expression of the impersonal principles immutably governing him.

Maximum Awesome said...
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Maximum Awesome said...

Matthew, 


Would an entity (LK) that "possessed the means to bring about any logically possible state of affairs", but whose nature precluded them from acting in any way, meet your definition of omnipotent?

"LK has brought about any state of affairs whatsoever" would be a logical impossibility, and therefore LK's inability to bring it about would not reflect upon his omnipotence.

***

"A woman has been raped by an object" is a logically possible state of affairs.

Does your god possess the means to bring it about?

***

A butterfly flapping its wings causes a storm across the globe.

Does a butterfly "possess the means to bring about" a storm?

Maximum Awesome said...

You're having your cake and eating it too - god has "the means" but not "the nature".

But at the end of the day, whether he meets your definition of omnipotent or not, god is incapable of doing certain things.

And the reason I went down this path originally was to argue that morality is binding upon god - as it turns out, even more binding upon god than upon humans - and that morality therefore has an objective existence that is not dependent on god.

Or: the principles of morality exist objectively in the same way the principles of math exist objectively, and both can be studied without direct recourse to god.

There can be non christian math academies, and there can be non christian morality academies.

***

(Sorry about the deleted comments.)

Maximum Awesome said...

On another note - and this is straight question as to what your beliefs are, not an attempted demonstration of their inconsistency - since you agree that god can manipulate objects, with what does he manipulate them? Does he make himself partly material, or does he temporarily and very selectively suspend/violate the laws of physics?

Maximum Awesome said...

Matthew,


One more hypothetical scenario:

Your god creates a machine that generates a parallel reality when a button is pushed, in such a way that, within said parallel reality, every logically possible state of affairs can be expected to occur - eventually.

I push the button.

Have I, at any point in this process, "possessed the means to bring about any logically possible state of affairs"?

Would I possess said means if god gave me the machine to keep and use whenever I wanted?

If you argue that my lack of any ability to affect the multiverse(s) thus created after pushing the button reflects upon my omnipotence, I would reply that it's not in my nature to be able to influence parallel realities beyond the pushing of a button to create them, therefore my inability to do so "by direct agency" does not reflect on my omnipotence - any more than your god's inability to commit rape-with-an-object "by direct agency" reflects upon *his* omnipotence.

zilch said...

MA- I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an answer. The basic problem here is that your analogies are based on the real world: machines, switches, and other observable phenomena. The theist's world is based on immaterial, unembodied beings. Since they are not observable, anything goes that words can convey. And words decoupled from observations of the world can be thrown like a top and spin whatever fantasies one wishes.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Maximum Awesome said...

>ZILCH anything goes that words can convey. And words decoupled from observations of the world can be thrown like a top and spin whatever fantasies one wishes.

You may be right about the lack of responses from their camp, but I think you're letting them off too easily.

I'd agree with you if we were talking about a claim like "leprechauns can fly using blarney power".

But "leprechauns possess the means to fly, yet their nature is essentially gravity-bound" doesn't quite qualify. It should be subject to what Rho would call an internal critique.

Incidentally, this blog is the top google result for that term.

zilch said...

Max- I get what you're saying, but I'm afraid an internal critique, at least on the qualities of immaterial and unembodied beings, is not likely to get anywhere, because believers can make up whatever rules they want, for instance in defining the nature of interactions between immaterial God and the material world. All you can do is ask them for real-world evidence for this God, and they don't have any, other than personal revelation and/or anecdotes.

You can, of course, make internal critiques about inconsistencies in the Bible, but believers have heard all these before, and have elaborate rationalizations to explain them.

Maximum Awesome said...

If you're right, there may be no point to interacting with people across the Superstition Line at all - but I think the definition of "omnipotent" presented here is anchored to objective terms sufficiently that it can't be handwaved away into mystical mystery.

That, and I can't rest when someone is Wrong On The Internet:

http://xkcd.com/386/

zilch said...

Hehe that's my rationale for being here too. But I'm afraid there are too many falsehoods out there to get them all.

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