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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 7:21 am 
Jeremiah Smith wrote:
sun tzu wrote:
Quote:
Say, I wonder how many times somebody was "called by God", but then refused to go through with it?


Well, there was this guy...God fed him to a fish (whale. Whatever.)


All of which goes to wonder... why didn't God just ask someone who wouldn't mind going to Nineveh?


If there was such a person. Nineveh wasn't a great place to be at the time, I think...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 8:13 am 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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sun tzu wrote:
If there was such a person. Nineveh wasn't a great place to be at the time, I think...


Well then God should have thought of that before creating the universe, now shouldn't he?

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:56 pm 
Jeremiah Smith wrote:
sun tzu wrote:
If there was such a person. Nineveh wasn't a great place to be at the time, I think...


Well then God should have thought of that before creating the universe, now shouldn't he?


Not sure it's a fair argument...Just because my computer drives me crazy (and Jona Smith, the tech support guy, doesn't want to deal with it), that doesn't mean I don't want a computer at all...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:24 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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sun tzu wrote:
Not sure it's a fair argument...Just because my computer drives me crazy (and Jona Smith, the tech support guy, doesn't want to deal with it), that doesn't mean I don't want a computer at all...


If you had the power and the knowledge to make your computer exactly how you wanted it, I don't imagine that you'd make one that would behave in a way you didn't want.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:18 am 
Jeremiah Smith wrote:
sun tzu wrote:
Not sure it's a fair argument...Just because my computer drives me crazy (and Jona Smith, the tech support guy, doesn't want to deal with it), that doesn't mean I don't want a computer at all...


If you had the power and the knowledge to make your computer exactly how you wanted it, I don't imagine that you'd make one that would behave in a way you didn't want.


Fine, but what if I wanted a self-aware computer that I could have interesting conversations with? If it has free will, it might make decisions I'd rather it doesn't make. And if I remove its ability to make them, then I'm restraining the AI.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:19 am 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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sun tzu wrote:
Fine, but what if I wanted a self-aware computer...


Okay, I'm dropping the computer analogy. It's just awkward.

The free will argument presumes to state that even though he is the omnipotent and omniscient creator of everything, God is absolved of responsibility for the things that humans do because they have free will, and therefore it's their decision. But the argument still fails.

First, assuming that God is the creator, then God created the free will of humans. He defined how free will reacts to the environment, he set in motion every influencing factor in the universe. He creates every reward, every temptation, every pain and pleasure. He knows in advance how humans will react to external factors, regardless of their free will: to deny this is to deny God's omniscience. He specified every parameter of existence. Therefore, when God created free will, he knew in advance what the results would be (i.e., immorality, suffering), and then went ahead and handed out free will anyway. To bring the computers back briefly, if a mad scientist created a bunch of robots with AI, knew that some of those AIs would go on a mad rampage of fleshling destruction, and then made them anyway, it's still his responsibility when the mob comes with the torches: he knew the results his actions would have, and he did those actions anyway. It's even more ridiculous to say that the robots are going against the mad scientist's wishes: unless the mad scientist wanted the robots to kill humans, there is no reason to create or release robots with the sort of AI that leads to homicide. Likewise, God must have been perfectly happy with the version of free will he came up with, with all its sins and flaws, or else he would have used his omnipotence and made it without those flaws. Sticking free will into the picture only creates an additional link in the chain going back to the all-powerful, all-knowing creator, but in the end the responsibility falls once more on him.

Second, it presumes that free agents are capable of going against the will of God. In other words, it presumes that an omnipotent, omniscient creator god is incapable of getting what he wants. Absolutely ridiculous. If God wants humans to be moral, and yet also have free will, why aren't all humans totally moral free agents? There is no inherent logical contradiction between morality and free will. Saying that God is incapable of creating a moral free agent, or that free agents are somehow out of his control, is a denial of his omnipotence. Saying that God wants to value free will above all else, and yet without making sure that unpleasant results don't happen, necessarily means that God must want the unpleasant results alongside free will: if he didn't want immorality, then he shouldn't have created a free will capable of it.

Third, the argument assumes that God is forbidden somehow from restricting free will, or denying it totally. This claim is mindless, because free will is already restricted by the laws of physics or innate behavioral instincts. You can't will yourself to fly without mechanical aid. You can't will your limbs to grow back. You can't stop yourself from feeling pain and hunger, at least not without drugs. There are some acts which would be immoral if they weren't impossible: stealing others' thoughts, for instance. Absolute free will would, in fact, be a disaster, because no punishment could have an effect on influencing an absolute free agent's behavior: they simply would not care what happens to them. The theist is left to argue why, if God values free will too much to prevent immoral acts, why certain acts are already prevented by the universe he created.

Fourth, the theist is also left to explain why free will is a virtue for God in the first place. We value free will because we have it, but in a universe where nothing had free will, there would be no such values. In the novel by Voltaire, Candide, there is a character, Dr. Pangloss, who believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, and that the universe could have been created in no other way. Saying that God had to create free will is a panglossian error; assuming that the characteristics, values, and morals of the universe we live in are somehow the best of all possible worlds. What objective reason is there for God to create free will, particularly if it's going to be a thorn in his side? We assume God must appreciate free will because we do, but what a priori argument could one make to argue in favor of free will? In a universe with no free will, there is no inequality or oppression because no one has it. It would be like saying rocks are oppressed, or that denying free will to computers is somehow morally wrong. There are some who would argue that our love of God must come from free will to be meaningful, but this is silly. God knew in advance how the universe would interact with people and how people would interact with people to influence their behavior and traits. He set up every parameter of existence in accordance with his wishes, and in doing so he knew that his actions would necessarily lead to people loving him. He knows who will love him and why, and he ordained these things at the moment of creation. To God, our free will would have to be an illusion, a relic of the fact that we can't percieve everything, and therefore our love would be no more an expression of free will than that of a puppet.

Fifth, the doctrine of Heaven, where all who dwell within lead happy and all-moral lives, refutes the argument. If there is free will in Heaven, then it is possible for free will to co-exist with morality according to God's will, and the theist is left to argue why God made the living world any different. If there is no free will in Heaven, then God does not value free will as much as the theists claim he does, and the theist must then argue why the living world has free will while the perfect world of Heaven does not. The only response is to admit that Heaven is imperfect -- that there is unhappiness, immorality, and violation of God's will going on. But I doubt you'll hear that. A similar argument to the previous is whether God has free will or not. If it is assumed that God is all-moral, then the existence of a God with free will denies the notion that a free agent cannot be all-moral in accordance with God's wishes.

In conclusion, free will does not remove any culpability from God for the existence of suffering and immorality.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 3:26 pm 
Quote:
First, assuming that God is the creator, then God created the free will of humans. He defined how free will reacts to the environment, he set in motion every influencing factor in the universe. He creates every reward, every temptation, every pain and pleasure. He knows in advance how humans will react to external factors, regardless of their free will: to deny this is to deny God's omniscience. He specified every parameter of existence. Therefore, when God created free will, he knew in advance what the results would be (i.e., immorality, suffering), and then went ahead and handed out free will anyway. To bring the computers back briefly, if a mad scientist created a bunch of robots with AI, knew that some of those AIs would go on a mad rampage of fleshling destruction, and then made them anyway, it's still his responsibility when the mob comes with the torches: he knew the results his actions would have, and he did those actions anyway. It's even more ridiculous to say that the robots are going against the mad scientist's wishes: unless the mad scientist wanted the robots to kill humans, there is no reason to create or release robots with the sort of AI that leads to homicide. Likewise, God must have been perfectly happy with the version of free will he came up with, with all its sins and flaws, or else he would have used his omnipotence and made it without those flaws. Sticking free will into the picture only creates an additional link in the chain going back to the all-powerful, all-knowing creator, but in the end the responsibility falls once more on him.


But what if the flaws are a logical consequence of free will?
I can imagine a universe with different laws of physics, but I don't think a universe with different laws of mathematics is possible even in theory - it simply doesn't make sense. Regardless of how the universe came to be, it seems to me that logic works in the same ways. If the ability for evil was an inherent part of free will, a logical result, then no amount of power, even infinite, could remedy to it - except by making no free will.

Quote:
Second, it presumes that free agents are capable of going against the will of God. In other words, it presumes that an omnipotent, omniscient creator god is incapable of getting what he wants. Absolutely ridiculous. If God wants humans to be moral, and yet also have free will, why aren't all humans totally moral free agents? There is no inherent logical contradiction between morality and free will. Saying that God is incapable of creating a moral free agent, or that free agents are somehow out of his control, is a denial of his omnipotence. Saying that God wants to value free will above all else, and yet without making sure that unpleasant results don't happen, necessarily means that God must want the unpleasant results alongside free will: if he didn't want immorality, then he shouldn't have created a free will capable of it.

I dunno...Maybe it's possible to create perfect minds, with no evil tendencies; maybe it isn't. I don't understand good and evil well enough to decide. But if it's contradictory, then a creator might consider that having agents in the system with free will is important enough as to outweigh the damage caused...

Quote:
Third, the argument assumes that God is forbidden somehow from restricting free will, or denying it totally. This claim is mindless, because free will is already restricted by the laws of physics or innate behavioral instincts. You can't will yourself to fly without mechanical aid. You can't will your limbs to grow back. You can't stop yourself from feeling pain and hunger, at least not without drugs. There are some acts which would be immoral if they weren't impossible: stealing others' thoughts, for instance. Absolute free will would, in fact, be a disaster, because no punishment could have an effect on influencing an absolute free agent's behavior: they simply would not care what happens to them. The theist is left to argue why, if God values free will too much to prevent immoral acts, why certain acts are already prevented by the universe he created.

Free will is the ability to think in certain ways, not to act in certain ways. My human frailities don't restrain my free will (though one might make a case that my hormones do).

Quote:
Fourth, the theist is also left to explain why free will is a virtue for God in the first place. We value free will because we have it, but in a universe where nothing had free will, there would be no such values. In the novel by Voltaire, Candide, there is a character, Dr. Pangloss, who believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, and that the universe could have been created in no other way. Saying that God had to create free will is a panglossian error; assuming that the characteristics, values, and morals of the universe we live in are somehow the best of all possible worlds. What objective reason is there for God to create free will, particularly if it's going to be a thorn in his side? We assume God must appreciate free will because we do, but what a priori argument could one make to argue in favor of free will? In a universe with no free will, there is no inequality or oppression because no one has it. It would be like saying rocks are oppressed, or that denying free will to computers is somehow morally wrong. There are some who would argue that our love of God must come from free will to be meaningful, but this is silly. God knew in advance how the universe would interact with people and how people would interact with people to influence their behavior and traits. He set up every parameter of existence in accordance with his wishes, and in doing so he knew that his actions would necessarily lead to people loving him. He knows who will love him and why, and he ordained these things at the moment of creation. To God, our free will would have to be an illusion, a relic of the fact that we can't percieve everything, and therefore our love would be no more an expression of free will than that of a puppet.


Loved "Candide" (which I have at times described as the Dilbert of the 18th century), but...I can imagine a few reasons free will would be valuable. Without sentient beings to appreciate the universe, what point does it have? And a hypothetic creator might have wanted company...

Quote:
Fifth, the doctrine of Heaven, where all who dwell within lead happy and all-moral lives, refutes the argument. If there is free will in Heaven, then it is possible for free will to co-exist with morality according to God's will, and the theist is left to argue why God made the living world any different. If there is no free will in Heaven, then God does not value free will as much as the theists claim he does, and the theist must then argue why the living world has free will while the perfect world of Heaven does not. The only response is to admit that Heaven is imperfect -- that there is unhappiness, immorality, and violation of God's will going on. But I doubt you'll hear that. A similar argument to the previous is whether God has free will or not. If it is assumed that God is all-moral, then the existence of a God with free will denies the notion that a free agent cannot be all-moral in accordance with God's wishes.

Ah, there it is. This is actually a very good argument, IMO, against the Christian cosmogony. If free will automatically means imperfection, and thus evil, then either Heaven has evil in it, or no free will.
I see no flaw in this argument. Which doesn't really bother me, considering I don't believe in Heaven anyway (or God, for that matter).


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:09 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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sun tzu wrote:
But what if the flaws are a logical consequence of free will?


How? What about free will would logically lead to immorality, suffering, and whatever else are perceived as flaws?

And this is no retreat. If free will logically entails flaws, and God creates free will anyway, then God is still responsible for the flaws and the results of such flaws.

Quote:
I dunno...Maybe it's possible to create perfect minds, with no evil tendencies; maybe it isn't. I don't understand good and evil well enough to decide. But if it's contradictory, then a creator might consider that having agents in the system with free will is important enough as to outweigh the damage caused...


Then the creator needs to get his priorities straight: which is more important, the will of free agents or his own will? If he can't have his cake and eat it too, that's the result of his actions regarding the creation of free will.

Quote:
Free will is the ability to think in certain ways, not to act in certain ways. My human frailities don't restrain my free will (though one might make a case that my hormones do).


Okay then. Can you think in four spatial dimensions? Can you visualize microwaves and gamma rays? Can you imagine what it's like to not have self-awareness? (I.e., be dead?) And the things you think can still be out of your control; that's the point of behavior-modifying drugs.

Quote:
Loved "Candide" (which I have at times described as the Dilbert of the 18th century), but...I can imagine a few reasons free will would be valuable. Without sentient beings to appreciate the universe, what point does it have? And a hypothetic creator might have wanted company...


First, you're doing a Pangloss again: assuming that appreciation and company are a priori good things. We like them. But why would God? God didn't have the same social and evolutionary pressures that direct humans to enjoy company or beauty. (Although there's a theology I'd like to see.)

Second, the argument that God created the universe for the appreciation of sentient beings appears to be contradicted by the fact that so much of the universe goes unappreciated, unless there are sentient beings in the middle of the sun, the earth's core, the bottom of the ocean, and out in every reach of the universe.

Third, we're back at the puppet argument. If God creates free agents and the universe they occupy, he necessarily sets up all the parameters of their existence, and his omniscience means he knows in advance that the free agents will be influenced by the universe and other free agents in such a way that they end up appreciating nature. When these agents do appreciate nature, how could God consider it as anything other than a puppet saying what he wanted it to say in the first place? Everything that happens in the universe would necessarily be part of the creator's will: his omnipotence means that anything he wanted, he has no obstacles to getting, and anything he didn't want, he has no obstacles to removing, and his omniscience means that he knows in advance what results will happen from his acts, and by allowing them to happen, he gives his acceptance of these acts.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 8:45 am 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
Vorpal Bunny Slipper

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From the Schlock Mercenary thread 21 Dec Intelligent Design Open Letter:

FrankNorman wrote:
Ah yes, the old "argument from evil". Goes back at least as far as some ancient Greek thinkers.


Epicurus. Just think, you guys still don't have a good answer.

Quote:
Standard Theist response is that of Free Will - God gave us the ability to choose our actions, with there being a range of actions possible to us, good or bad.


As I repeatedly pointed out earlier in this thread (you should go back and read it if you haven't already), if God created free will, then he knew the consequences of human free will -- immorality, suffering, and so on. He knew what would happen if he made free will how he did, and he created human free will anyway. Knowing what the consequences of an act will be and doing it anyway is pretty much the definition of "responsibility". An omnipotent, omniscient God can not weasel out of responsibility for the events of his creation: he knew what would happen even before he created, and he could have avoided those events easily by tweaking the parameters of the universe. But instead, he deliberately chose the parameters of this universe, knowing what those parameters entailed. How could he not be responsible?

Quote:
If He stepped in all the time to over-ride our choices whenever we made the wrong ones, our choices would be meaningless, as they would be without consequences.


Um, having God step in is a consequence. But more importantly, our choices are meaningless anyway in a universe governed by an all-powerful God: God will always get his way. Unless you want to assert that the free will of humans somehow is more powerful than the will of an omnipotent God, and I don't think you do, there is no way for our choices to go against what God had in mind from the beginning. You could say that God wants to let us have free will, and that he puts his own will aside. But this is ridiculous. If God wants us to have free will, even if that free will includes immorality and suffering, then our expressing free will would be part of his will, and all the resulting immorality and suffering would also have to be part of his will. Saying "God wants us to have free will, even if it goes against his will" is essentially saying "God wants X, even if he doesn't want X". Guh?

I should point out that, in the Bible at least, there's nothing about God respecting free will (and a couple places where God seems to override it, such as his repeated hardening of Pharaoh's heart in Exodus). The free will argument, and the notion that God respects free will, comes up only as a response to the problem of evil. Indeed, why would a deity give a damn about free will in the first place? We value it because we have it. Why would an all-powerful creator have the same values that we do? It's the Panglossian error I describe early in the thread. A creator God can make the universe in any way he wants, with any characteristics, moral values, and standards of beauty that he desires. What about free will makes it desirable for a deity to create?

Of course, I've been completely ignoring a bigger question: why the hell would a supposedly perfect being want anything? Wanting implies a lack, that something is missing that should be there. An imperfection, that is. Why would God want to make free will, to have people behave morally, to even make a universe at all?

Quote:
The demand for choices without consequences, to be able to do whatever you want with no bad effects (at least to yourself) often shows up in people who are in rebellion against God.


Oddly, the idea that Christ will forgive everything, no matter how horrible, even on your deathbed, seems to indicate to me that Christians don't want consequences either. Perhaps they just like consequences for other people and not themselves.

It's also unusual that you seem to think that consequences on Earth don't matter; after all, even atheists accept the realities of the legal system and social rejection. Those involve consequences too, you know. Please tell me you're not the sort of person whose only reason for behaving morally is the threat of hell, and who has absolutely no empathy for other human beings that would cause them to treat others well, regardless of belief in the afterlife. The word for that sort of person, one without any empathy or regard for others, is "sociopath". We tend to characterize it as a severe mental disorder.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 1:20 am 
Deuteronomy 29:19
'If anyone should think to himself, "I will do well enough if I follow the dictates of my heart,"...

Deuteronomy 29:20
'...Yahweh will not pardon him. His wrath shall burn against him


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 8:49 am 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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Darius Rhiannon wrote:
Deuteronomy 29:19
'If anyone should think to himself, "I will do well enough if I follow the dictates of my heart,"...

Deuteronomy 29:20
'...Yahweh will not pardon him. His wrath shall burn against him


Excellent. God showing wrath! You know what wrath is, right? It's an emotion. Specifically, it's an emotion expressed when situations get out of your control and bad things happen and you can't stop them. An all-powerful deity getting worked up because of things he can't control! Hilarious!

This just goes to demonstrate a point I've been pondering for a while.

Science fiction can be divided into two genres: hard science fiction and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction is stories that start with some basic premise, usually scientific advances, and go on to explore the ramifications of such a thing. For instance, Larry Niven's stories are considered hard sci-fi. Schlock Mercenary is too. Howard started with a few basic scientific advances -- annie-plants, gravitational control, teraports -- and then built his stories around what happens with those technologies, mostly teraports. He examines how teraports will affect society, commerce, warfare, all kinds of things. You start with the premises, the science, and go from there. In soft science fiction, on the other hand, the science is subordinate to the story. The science need not be accurate, the story does not need to explore what goes on with these new technologies. They're just vehicles. The science is just plot devices. Star Trek and Star Wars are the canonical examples of this. When the Enterprise needs to track a cloaked Romulan warbird, the writers don't examine the science behind cloaking devices or the Enterprise's sensors to find a plausible method. They just have Geordi reverse the polarity of the scanner array tachyon field induction coils. Voila! Now we can find Romulans! But no mention is made of how Geordi's discovery affects the Star Trek world. This information is not disseminated to Starfleet. No mention is made of the Romulans finding out. No mention is made of the diplomatic problems that would undoubtedly arise. Geordi's discovery, which should realistically be one of the most important events in the Star Trek time line, which could perhaps even be given its own episode focusing on the ramifications, is instead whipped out in five minutes and never used again. It's just there to move the plot along. From a writer's standpoint, the Romulan cloaking device is there to provide suspense and surprise, a plot device of its own, and we can't let Geordi get rid of it for good! We have to make the science follow the story, and not the other way around.

Now, take God. He's supposed to be omnipotent. He's supposed to be omniscient. He's supposed to be omnimoral and omnibenevolent. These properties, taken as a group, are sometimes called God's omnimax attributes, and God is called an omnimax God. But when I look at how Christianity (and other religions based on similar premises) treat these traits, I come to one conclusion.

God's omnimax attributes are the reversed-polarity scanner array tachyon field induction coils of Christianity.

Christians claims these attributes for its deity, but as I and others keep showing, they never really examine these traits to the fullest extent. Why? Because they would ruin the story. Christianity, and its ancestral Judaism, treat God as a father figure. He's a personal God; he's got emotions and feelings, just like us. He has the same moral values, the same standards of beauty and moral character. He loves us all, but punishes us like a father would. He created the universe we all live in, with all its suffering and immorality and death, but he had his reasons. And we're all very very special to him. It's easy to see how such a story would arise, but we're not here for that. The depiction of God as a loving, caring father figure is central to Christianity.

And, yet, God's omnimax attributes would ruin this. An omnimax God can't have emotions: they're reactions to new information, to things beyond our control. There's no such thing for an omnipotent, omniscient God. An omnimax God who really wanted a universe without evil would have just made one like that from the start. Christianity makes excuses for suffering and death, but if God were truly omnimax there would be nothing to make excuses for in the first place; the world and life in it would be staggeringly different. God's omnipotence, his omniscience, his omnibenevolence, they're just plot devices. They're brought up when God stops storms, or gives the gift of prophecy, or sends his son to die, and then put back away until needed. Christianity tries to shoehorn these traits into the concept of God it already has, and it's not working. They have to fit the world as we know it together with these omnimax traits of God, and it's not working.

It's like the Matrix. It's a basic premise of the Matrix universe that the machines are intelligent and smart, perhaps more so than humans, and capable of all kinds of amazing feats. But if we start with this premise, we discover that the Matrix movies as we know them would never happen. Sticking humans in virtual-reality batteries is just a horribly stupid and inefficient method of generating power. Matrix fans can spout off dozens of excuses why using humans as batteries is a smart thing for the machines to do, but the entire movie is based on a mistake: it's profoundly idiotic to use humans as batteries. But the science takes a backseat to the story: it's more important to have Neo bounce around and kick ass than to explore the real ramifications of the basic premise, the intelligence of the machines. Similarly, for God, it's more important for the religion to correspond to the facts of the world as we know them, rather than to start with a basic premise, the premise of an omnimax God, and see what world would arise from that. Just as the Matrix universe is flawed because the basic premise (intelligent machines) doesn't logically correspond with what is known of the Matrix universe (inefficient human VR batteries), the Christian universe is flawed because the basic premise (all-powerful, all-knowing, all loving God) doesn't logically correspond with what is known of the real world that the Christian universe has to incorporate (death, pain, immorality).

So, please. Continue to make excuses about how an omnipotent God has to be subordinate to human free will, or make threats about Hell and God's wrath for those who don't buy the story. Make up explanations about why an all-powerful God just has to allow free will, or why he just has to create humans, or why he just has to burn sinners for all eternity. In the end, it just becomes more and more apparent: the all-powerful, all-knowing God is just a plot device, and the God of Christianity is not some transcendent unlimited being but just a celestial father figure.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 1:13 pm 
Actually, the point which I forgot to add :drinking: , was why did god bother to include free will in the "design package", if he intends to punish it so harshly.

I would recommend to you the www.bricktestament.com. I think you will enjoy it. I know I have.

In a way your response has flattered me, Jeremiah. It has to be one of the longest, most interesting and most coherent responses I have ever received on the internet. Unfortuneatly, the effort is largely moot, as I already agree with your positions, but I must say your analysis of the Matrix and the Star Trek plot devices was masterful.

Good post.

But since the this text window is open I wonder if you would mind if I ran a ethical situation I am currently experiencing past you.

There is this woman, who I have now know for 6 years. I have always been attracted to this woman, and I believe there is also some attraction from her side. However, until recently she has been involved in relationships with others. So nothing could happen as a result.

Now onto the issue itself. She belongs to a fundamentalist christian church. I consider myself a "professional sceptic". So something of a problem. I have no problem with her faith, but some of the beliefs that other members of her church have given her (such as the convincing that a great many things are satanic or evil, including Harry Potter, that AIDS is an invented disease and that the illuminati/free mason conspiracy controls the world) worry me. I am not sure if these are actual doctrine points, or simply the beliefs of individuals.

But there are also some of the doctrine points of the faith that I find abhorrent, such as the subordination of females to the male.

It seems that she is very vulnarable to manipulation, and is not a critical thinker. Few people in my country are. But this religion is very important for her, and it is how she deals with what sometimes seems to be a very harsh reality.

Now for the ethical decision I need to take. Can I justify stripping her of the "comfort zone" she has found in religion or in her other beliefs.

I could justify it by saying that the "truth is worth it", but is it really. And is it possible in our postmodernist age to even really know the truth, especially with the advances in propoganda techniques and "spin" that have recently been made.

So in short, how can I take from her that which seems to make her happy but exposes her to harm, and replace it with something that might make her unhappy and in the end still cause her harm. So in short, will I help or will I harm.

I have waffled on making a decision for a while now, but it seems that she is getting more fervent every day. The thing is, she is a genuinely good person and I fear for her safety and I do not know if there is anything I can do?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:23 pm 
Funny coincidence. I just read quotes from dunes, and in particular, this one:
Quote:
* My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. "Something cannot emerge from nothing," he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable "the truth" can be.
o from Conversations with Muad'Dib by the Princess Irulan


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 5:58 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
Vorpal Bunny Slipper

Joined: Sun May 12, 2002 2:54 am
Posts: 2707
Darius Rhiannon wrote:
I would recommend to you the www.bricktestament.com. I think you will enjoy it. I know I have.


Way ahead of ya, man. :)

Quote:
In a way your response has flattered me, Jeremiah. It has to be one of the longest, most interesting and most coherent responses I have ever received on the internet. Unfortuneatly, the effort is largely moot, as I already agree with your positions, but I must say your analysis of the Matrix and the Star Trek plot devices was masterful.


See, I had no idea of your religious stance, and I thought you were maybe posting those verses as a way of saying "Hey, buddy, stop thinking too much or God is gonna get Planck-epoch on your ass." It's not unheard of. Still, I'd had that notion bonking around in my head for a while, and it felt good to get it out.

Quote:
Good post.


Thanks.

Quote:
But since the this text window is open I wonder if you would mind if I ran a ethical situation I am currently experiencing past you.


I really haven't had much real-life interaction with fundamentalists since I stopped being one. I've never had the situation come up.

You could try talking with her about your beliefs, and try to talk about hers, and skepticism and why Harry Potter is not going to send us all to hell and that. If she seems interested in learning more, go for it. If she doesn't want to listen, well, at least you tried. But take it slow. If you just go storming in going "God is dead!", that's probably going to end poorly. Teach, don't preach.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 4:13 pm 
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Official Village Idiot
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Joined: Sat May 11, 2002 3:08 am
Posts: 822
Location: Room L, Hotel Raffles, Luna City
Darius Rhiannon wrote:
So in short, how can I take from her that which seems to make her happy but exposes her to harm, and replace it with something that might make her unhappy and in the end still cause her harm. So in short, will I help or will I harm.


I'm in a very similar situation, Darius, and what I've found is that <i>you</i> cannot take her beliefs away. She can only do that herself. You can influence her, you can inform her, but in the end it's up to <i>her</i>.

This is actually pretty central to the debate in this thread - it's a matter of free will. We are free to believe or disbelieve whatever we happen to believe or disbelieve - but how to we come to believe or disbelieve it?

Can we choose what we believe, or are our beliefs imposed on us - either by God, our surroundings, our families, or even by our own subconciousnesses? I'm not sure if it's possible to say "I choose to believe in such-and-so" and have it work, unless you were already inclined to believe it anyway.

Concious thought and inductive logic can certainly <i>influence</i> belief, but it takes more than that to <i>change</i> it. Take Mr. Tayler's words on intelligent design, quoted above. He is in possession of the facts - facts that are often used as arguments against theism (or at least doctrinal Christianity) - and integrates them with his religious beliefs. This is a case of science influencing belief without fundamentally changing it.

<digression>
That's always been one of my biggest issues with the traditional Western picture of God. We are given free will, which includes the ability to disbelieve, but are expected to believe unquestioningly. That feels like a dirty trick, and I don't buy it. It's hard to believe that a mind mature enough to create such a well-ordered universe would be to immature as to use said universe to play silly little mind games with its occupants.
</digression>

Darius, all you can do is try to guide your friend. In the end, it's up to her (and whatever factors that influence her belief) whether she'll change her way of thinking. Don't try to be forceful, though - that'll only breed resentment.

And if nothing else, you may find that getting there is half the fun. Some of the most stimulating discussions I've ever had have been with my staunchly Christian friend Rachel. Neither of us has changed our beliefs as a result of our debates, but we've both used them to organize our thoughts on deity, religion, evolution, and other topics, and we've also learned about each other's viewpoints. What's more, we're closer as a result of these debates than I think we would be if it was a matter of one of us trying to convert the other.

Sometimes an opposing viewpoint can be better than complete agreement.

_________________
"Vox populi? Vox humbug!"
- William Tecumseh Sherman
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