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Defeaters for (Christian) Theism

 
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Old 01-Mar-2010, 11:16 PM (23:16)     91        37757
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I sort of agree with you here, it seems ironic that they're different but really not so much. In Buddhism, suffering is being stuck in illusion, which is what categorization of good and evil seems to be, a human construct. Where is good and evil in nature? What's good for the lion is suffering for the antelope, things grow and change and cycle.
Why does something have to be "in nature" in order to be real?

*Can of worms and tin-opener at the ready.*
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Old 01-Mar-2010, 11:29 PM (23:29)     92        37759
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Depends on your definition of reality. To objectively materially "be real" yes things have to exist in the physical world.
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Old 01-Mar-2010, 11:39 PM (23:39)     93        37761
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Depends on your definition of reality. To objectively materially "be real" yes things have to exist in the physical world.
OK, so do you think there are any things that are "real" and yet not (purely) material?

My definition of reality is simply "that which is" or equivalently "that which actually exists."
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 12:25 AM (00:25)     94        37768
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Objective reality remains the same fairly much regardless of things I think about. Okay let's use "that which actually exists" rather than what I said about nature.

Does good or evil actually exist?
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 12:47 AM (00:47)     95        37773
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Objective reality remains the same fairly much regardless of things I think about. Okay let's use "that which actually exists" rather than what I said about nature.

Does good or evil actually exist?
Oh, so I have do answer, do I! Then I will answer with another question:

Since good and evil are properties, we have to ask: What does it mean for a property to be real?
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 01:40 AM (01:40)     96        37776
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Generally speaking it's going to have dirt.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 02:14 AM (02:14)     97        37779
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My property has half an acre of dirt, so I believe it is real. But what is a property? How about something like size, pretty objective. My half acre isn't a very big property, unless you're an ant. Does 500 acres sound like a big property? Is big a property of the 500 acre property? An asteroid of 500 acres is small, unless it's hurtling from the sky toward my property, then it's big.

YAy, I like trading questions.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 02:18 AM (02:18)     98        37780
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You can get a lot of strawberries out of half an acre, though.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 10:15 AM (10:15)     99        37785
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Originally Posted by alicat View Post
My property has half an acre of dirt, so I believe it is real. But what is a property? How about something like size, pretty objective. My half acre isn't a very big property, unless you're an ant. Does 500 acres sound like a big property? Is big a property of the 500 acre property? An asteroid of 500 acres is small, unless it's hurtling from the sky toward my property, then it's big.

YAy, I like trading questions.
I like this game.

Properties are things that objects have which are necessary in order to be able to tell them apart. Some properties must be real, because more than one object exists, and two objects are different if and only if they exemplify different properties. For example: the ant and the asteroid. What is it that makes them different objects? One thing would be that the asteroid is bigger than the ant. But in order for that statement to be true, there must be some real standard of "bigness" that can be applied to both the ant and the asteroid. Do you agree? If yes, why does the argument fail if we replace "the ant" with "stealing from the poor", "the asteroid" with "giving to the poor", "bigger" with "better", "bigness" with "goodness"?
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 08:15 PM (20:15)     100        37795
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There is a difference between a physical value (ant and asteroid), because you can see, feel, touch, taste, or smell it, and a moral value (good and evil), because you cannot. Trying to say the same standards necessarily apply to both would be fundamentally flawed because of that.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 08:34 PM (20:34)     101        37796
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I find no problems reconciling evolution with Christian belief. For me original sin is simply that people's sin affects those around them, and so when we are born we are negatively influenced by our surrounding environment. Thus our characters become warped very early in life (you could call this our "sinful nature"). This seems to me to be very natural whether you read human history from a theistic or an atheistic perspective (replacing sin with immoral action).
Understanding the sacrificial system properly really requires looking at it in its ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) context, which I can go into if you like. It is in this context that we can then go on to understand what it meant for Jesus' to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.
I'm not aware that the Bible teaches people no to "worry about earthly things" - in fact it seems to me that it teaches quite the opposite.

Bold mine.

So, am I correct in my understanding that in this post you are positing that human beings are corrupted due to the influence of original sin? Yes or no, please.

Also, I'd like to point out that very little in the Bible gets taken in context, so asking to take the sacrificial system into context, IMHO, is just another form of cherrypicking.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 08:55 PM (20:55)     102        37798
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I find no problems reconciling evolution with Christian belief. For me original sin is simply that people's sin affects those around them, and so when we are born we are negatively influenced by our surrounding environment. Thus our characters become warped very early in life (you could call this our "sinful nature"). This seems to me to be very natural whether you read human history from a theistic or an atheistic perspective (replacing sin with immoral action).
Understanding the sacrificial system properly really requires looking at it in its ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) context, which I can go into if you like. It is in this context that we can then go on to understand what it meant for Jesus' to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.
I'm not aware that the Bible teaches people no to "worry about earthly things" - in fact it seems to me that it teaches quite the opposite.

Bold mine.

So, am I correct in my understanding that in this post you are positing that human beings are corrupted due to the influence of original sin? Yes or no, please.
Due to the influence of human sin in general, yes. A generation's sin affects the condition of the next generation.

Quote:
Also, I'd like to point out that very little in the Bible gets taken in context, so asking to take the sacrificial system into context, IMHO, is just another form of cherrypicking.
Are you talking about context (the historical and cultural situation at the time a passage is written) or cotext (the text that surrounds a passage)? Whichever, I try to interpret the Bible based on both, and I am very keen to be corrected when I misunderstand either of these. The reason it is important to look at sacrifices, in particular, in context is because it is difficult to understand why they thought sacrifices "did anything" from our 21st century standpoint. We need an understanding of what sacrifices meant to ANE peoples.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 09:38 PM (21:38)     103        37802
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The standard should have some mathematical basis to really apply to reality. If we say a "big property" or "lots of strawberries" from cultural cues and context we usually get what the speaker means. A "big property" is pretty variable between Tokyo vs. Texas, a half acre property same both place, 5 bushels of strawberries is "a lot", but so is 1 ton. So we can find ways to apply math to "bigness", but I don't see how we can apply math to "goodness." We can't assign consistent numerical values to moral values, so it will always have a "big" (now we really can't say how big in this instance) subjective element.

I like this thread because I think it's getting to be a good demonstration of what screwy things words really are.

We need to look at what sacrifices meant to god! Now why would god get to the point at this time where he decided he didn't want animals anymore?- and this basically happened across the whole hemisphere around this time, other cultures found other reasons to stop these practices. My opinion is the culture was changing and religious practices changed because we, as humans, found reasons to change them.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 10:13 PM (22:13)     104        37804
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There is a difference between a physical value (ant and asteroid), because you can see, feel, touch, taste, or smell it, and a moral value (good and evil), because you cannot. Trying to say the same standards necessarily apply to both would be fundamentally flawed because of that.
Isn't that simply making the same equivocation of reality and the physical, material world? Why are experiences of physical objects (by sight, hearing, etc.) any different to experiences of moral actions (by moral sense)?
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 10:27 PM (22:27)     105        37808
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The standard should have some mathematical basis to really apply to reality.
As much as I love Maths, why is this true? What is special about a mathematical basis (I presume you mean that quantities have to be involved?).

Quote:
I like this thread because I think it's getting to be a good demonstration of what screwy things words really are.
This is definitely true, and we probably need to start being more precise with our language if we're going to take this much deeper.

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We need to look at what sacrifices meant to god! Now why would god get to the point at this time where he decided he didn't want animals anymore?- and this basically happened across the whole hemisphere around this time, other cultures found other reasons to stop these practices. My opinion is the culture was changing and religious practices changed because we, as humans, found reasons to change them.
Slightly confused by the comment in bold??

I agree with you comments about culture changing: which is precisely why we need to look at what sacrifices meant to the people at the time in order to interpret their motives.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 10:36 PM (22:36)     106        37810
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What else can't be distorted or influenced by mind-stuff (perception)?
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 10:57 PM (22:57)     107        37813
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Originally Posted by Makbawehuh View Post
There is a difference between a physical value (ant and asteroid), because you can see, feel, touch, taste, or smell it, and a moral value (good and evil), because you cannot. Trying to say the same standards necessarily apply to both would be fundamentally flawed because of that.
Isn't that simply making the same equivocation of reality and the physical, material world? Why are experiences of physical objects (by sight, hearing, etc.) any different to experiences of moral actions (by moral sense)?
Before I answer that, where is my moral sense located? Last time I checked, I didn't have one of those.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 11:03 PM (23:03)     108        37815
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Originally Posted by Makbawehuh View Post
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I find no problems reconciling evolution with Christian belief. For me original sin is simply that people's sin affects those around them, and so when we are born we are negatively influenced by our surrounding environment. Thus our characters become warped very early in life (you could call this our "sinful nature"). This seems to me to be very natural whether you read human history from a theistic or an atheistic perspective (replacing sin with immoral action).
Understanding the sacrificial system properly really requires looking at it in its ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) context, which I can go into if you like. It is in this context that we can then go on to understand what it meant for Jesus' to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.
I'm not aware that the Bible teaches people no to "worry about earthly things" - in fact it seems to me that it teaches quite the opposite.

Bold mine.

So, am I correct in my understanding that in this post you are positing that human beings are corrupted due to the influence of original sin? Yes or no, please.
Due to the influence of human sin in general, yes. A generation's sin affects the condition of the next generation.
Thank you, I will return to this later.

Quote:
Quote:
Also, I'd like to point out that very little in the Bible gets taken in context, so asking to take the sacrificial system into context, IMHO, is just another form of cherrypicking.
Are you talking about context (the historical and cultural situation at the time a passage is written) or cotext (the text that surrounds a passage)? Whichever, I try to interpret the Bible based on both, and I am very keen to be corrected when I misunderstand either of these. The reason it is important to look at sacrifices, in particular, in context is because it is difficult to understand why they thought sacrifices "did anything" from our 21st century standpoint. We need an understanding of what sacrifices meant to ANE peoples.
I meant context, but since you bring it up, both apply. *You* may be an exception, but my observation was general of Christians and applies to the vast majority of those who claim to share your faith.
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Old 02-Mar-2010, 11:59 PM (23:59)     109        37825
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There is a difference between a physical value (ant and asteroid), because you can see, feel, touch, taste, or smell it, and a moral value (good and evil), because you cannot. Trying to say the same standards necessarily apply to both would be fundamentally flawed because of that.
Isn't that simply making the same equivocation of reality and the physical, material world? Why are experiences of physical objects (by sight, hearing, etc.) any different to experiences of moral actions (by moral sense)?
Before I answer that, where is my moral sense located? Last time I checked, I didn't have one of those.
Wherever your consciousness is "located."
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Old 03-Mar-2010, 12:54 AM (00:54)     110        37829
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I'll excuse your smartassery if you'll excuse mine, there. Go look at the other thread, my last post applies here as well as there.

Last edited by Makbawehuh; 03-Mar-2010 at 12:57 AM (00:57). Reason: what a typo... >.>
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Old 05-Mar-2010, 01:49 AM (01:49)     111        37872
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OK, I have been away from this thread far too long. My apologies. So much going on at this time it all makes me terribly slow and haphazard.

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..... Gurdur made a number of points: (1) if God exists, we should only worship him if he is worthy of worship; (2) the sun shines on the good and wicked alike;
....
The flow of the argument seems to be as follows: he seems to imply from (2) that God is unjust
That is one possible interpretation, but that is not what I was driving at. I am saying that the fact that the sun shines on the good and the wicked alike means that any god does not adequately at all judge in this world. All action, all ethical choice, is left up to humans, and any putative reward for doing good could only come in the afterlife. And the afterlife is more than dubious.

So I was not saying God is unjust, but that God is immaterial right at the moment when you choose how to act, even if God exists. You must choose by your own conscience and your own choice of conscience.

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So far, this just seems to be a form of the problem of evil argument.
It is. In a way.

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(4) then adds that even if God is good, then it makes no difference to us if we believe in him or not, so long as we try to live good lives.
And this is also the argument behind Universalism inside Christianity. C.S. Lewis made much the same argument in The Great Divorce.


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We don't believe things based on whether they make any difference to us, but on whether or not there are good reasons (logical, empirical, moral, etc) to believe them.
Not really. We tend to believe a good many things simply because it makes some sense, and until proof comes along against it. I believe Brazil exists, though I have never been there. We make assumptions.

We also tend to have God beliefs because they are useful or programmed into us via childhood (see Fizzle's point on that). Useful beliefs here are ones that help us cope with our emotions.

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So in terms of offering a defeater for theistic belief, it seems to me that the argument is not attacking in the right direction. But perhaps I have misunderstood the argument?
Well now. I am not sure what would be the "right" direction of attack. You see, religion for me is immaterial. That to me is a pretty big defeater, because it means if I want to worry about things that matter, I can easily afford to put religion and gods to the side, and only worry about them when I am relaxed and have some free time. That's a pretty big defeater in my eyes.

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... This, then, really leads to us to ask what it means to "worship" God.
Good. This question should be faced by believers much more; most don't face it.

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Worship (by my understanding from a Christian perspective) means to devote one's life to something
This is a very idealistic stance, far more idealistic than the usual everyday Christian stance. Worship usually means just that to most Christians -- basically, if you will forgive the turn of phrase, bowing and scraping. Naught else. Your own stance is more mature and has more potential for good.

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It seems to me that a necessary (and sufficient?) condition for a God to be worthy of worship would be that his purposes for the world (and human life in particular) were wholly good. Would you agree?
On moral terms, exactly. If God is only a Cosmic Bully, a Cosmic /b/tard as Fizzle said, then why the hell worship the psycopathic monster? Why not simply give the bully the big A finger even if that Cosmic Bully exists?


Quote:
Firstly, I fail to see why this is incompatible with theistic belief. Why should God "look after" his believers more than non-believers? One can think of plausible reasons why he might not.
But then that gets back to my point about God being immaterial. If I need to worry, God is then one of the things I do not need to worry about.

Quote:
Secondly, in my experience people have said that God does "look after" them - not by preventing pain, but comforting them in it and sharing in it.
They say this; but this on the whole is the psychological mechanism of "letting go", and simultaneously having faith everything will turn out well in the end even though one lets go. It's an incredibly useful mechanism, and sometimes very damned important to do; but it can be done on secular terms too, without God.

Quote:
So I fail to see why this is a (factual) defeater for theistic belief. To me, it seems that the standard problem of evil is a stronger contender to be a defeater for theistic belief.
It's not a "factual" defeater; it's a "logical + moral + practicality" defeater. If God and belief in God are immaterial to me, I really do not need to worry. You brought up the "letting go" angle, which is a very damned important one; but I can do that on a secular basis too, I can "let go", have faith in my unconsious psyche that everything will turn out OK in the end, and I can move forward. Without believing in a God.

Quote:
As for (3), that a proposition leads to hard questions is a weak reason not to believe it. For example, the existence of free will leads to many difficult questions and dilemmas,
Good point. But free will means you have a choice, so if you refuse to choose, you must then carry responsibility. That is damned material and important.

But an afterlife that diddles around without meaning anything real in the here and now? Gets immaterial again.

Quote:
I also don't see why an afterlife is necessary in order for God to be just; for example, perhaps the "reward" for leading a good life is being remembered well-of, or that it is a meaningful life,
That is a very mature viewpoint, and a very good stance. Good point.


Quote:
... It really depends on whether they are of any value or not in the here-and-now,
Bingo.

Quote:
which brings us back to the questions you asked me. What does faith mean? Does it have any real effect in people's lives now. I will be writing a lot more about these questions soon,
Great! I do not know if you saw it, but in my most recent blog post I referred to your blog and to this thread; I also referred to a lot of others here too.

Quote:
but for now let me simply say this: in my experience faith (not just in God) has a real effect (both good and bad) on the way that people live. And for my part, all my experiences of faith (which at heart is trust that God is good) have been immensely positive intellectually, emotionally, morally and practically.
I look forward to your sharing more on this topic.

I shall slowly move now through the rest of the posts in this thread. Again, my apologies for my delay and tardiness.
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Old 12-Mar-2010, 12:10 AM (00:10)     112        38159
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I don't believe that a "defeater", as such, exists.

I believe in god because I suddenly thought that I needed to, that it would help me. And I felt able to "decide" to believe in god, "just like that", because I believed in free will and my power over my thoughts/beliefs; I trusted to the power of belief, and when I "used" it, by saying a few times over, ( with faith in the power of belief ), "I believe in god", I discovered god was "there", I felt immediate intense relief, like arriving somewhere totally safe after wandering for years in enemy territory.

Soon afterwards my belief in free will evaporated, and I had another "peak" experience of feeling loved, the way I am, forgiven by that love, accepted exactly as I am; I "know" that I am already doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

This is all subjective stuff.

For quite a while I believed that my belief was having an effect on the way that I behaved, now I believe that it is simply that the belief is a "symptom" of the state that I am in after two and a half years gluten-free, an expression of my body. The belief is a manifestation of my physical state.

As such I might lose my belief in god if I started eating gluten again, for instance, ... but what would make me do that? The sum of my genes, my past, my environment now, which includes food aswell, the universe, ( which I perceive as a vast living creation/"being" animated by god that is within it, everything is god's will ), would determine it.

Nothing "in theory" could do it, only something real/existent could. So there is no defeater which can be posited, except by saying "god"s will". God willing I will continue to believe in god. God willing I would stop.

By the way, both Derk Pereboom and Ted Honderich, among others, do very good jobs of showing that we do not need to believe in free will in order to have morality.

And belief in an after life ( which I don't believe in ) is no more unsubstantiated than belief in none. In the East people believe in an after life the way most westerners believe in free will. See Martin Southwold's "Buddhism in Life".

I think that one reason why so many atheists do get upset and excited about belief in god is because so many of them deny the existence and importance of subjective reality and of belief. But plenty of believers do too; witness my own belief in god being described as no different to belief in unicorns by a Christian a couple of months ago, because according to them I should be basing it on belief in the historical resurrection of Christ, and moral issues, the good way of living modelled by Jesus Christ etc. Whereas I don't see a connection between ethical/moral behaviour and theistic belief, not when so many believe in god like I believe in India, because they have been told it exists.

PS. I "got" the god which goes with trusting in pure belief/subjective reality and expressing/feeling need, the NT one by and large I think, ( of love ), whereas when I did the same thing several years previously, because I wondered what it felt like to believe in god, I found myself with a very different one, which seemed ok to start with but gradually became more and more demanding and severe/authoritarian and somehow "heavy"/menacing that I decided to stop believing in it.

.

Last edited by ouinon; 12-Mar-2010 at 12:44 AM (00:44).
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Old 12-Mar-2010, 02:09 AM (02:09)     113        38160
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Yes, if it was rational and objective no faith would be involved, it all comes down to faith and perception. Faith as far as something "out there" can neither be proven nor disproven by objective criteria, it is what it is.
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Old 16-Mar-2010, 12:05 AM (00:05)     114        38355
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Hmm. I read this thread earlier from beginning to end. Quite a trip that was. A few comments:

I agree with Gurdur that the moral defeaters are usually the most convincing for Christians. My favorite is to prove to Christians that they, in fact, have higher moral standards than the Gods they worship, which is not hard to do when you start asking them if they would commit the acts commanded by God in the Old Testament (infanticide).

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Originally Posted by logika View Post
The thread is primarily about belief that God (as I attempted to define) exists and secondarily (and less importantly) about the generally Christian conception of God (Trinitarian, ontologically necessary, etc).
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Originally Posted by logika View Post
For example, I am an Open Theist, which means that possibilities for future events are actual and God does not know which possibility (which humans as free agents are able to choose) will occur. So God, in a sense, really does "learn" as the future unravels.
Logika: I think it would have been a lot easier to understand what you wanted if you had made it clear from the beginning that your God is purposefully ignorant of the future and therefore learns/adapts over time. That goes against everything I have ever heard any Christian say.

This helps you get around the moral defeater of whether God deserves to be respected as it takes away any responsibility for all the horrible shit he did in the Old Testament because he was learning and didn't realize collective punishment is wrong.

It was a bit dishonest on your part to wait until the 59th post to drop this bomb that your personal God has an attribute which none of us could have considered when answering your questions and highlights a problem of God belief (ultimately you define your god however you please).

I'll echo what many others have said. There is no defeater. This is not because God is hard to define or we can't come up with good arguments, but because when you invent an idea you can constantly re-form it to make any defeater irrelevant. It appears that you don't actually want defeaters, but you want help reforming your idea of god to make it a little more workable than it was yesterday. It was an enjoyable read, but I can't help you. I'd rather spend my time coming up with defeaters for the celestial teapot to test my own beliefs.
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Old 16-Mar-2010, 12:25 AM (00:25)     115        38356
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Ah, but Logika didn't say that God was learning. Logika said that God willfully didn't look at any possible futures so that he wouldn't know what the possibilities were.

That still strikes him from "worthy of worship", IMHO.
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Old 16-Mar-2010, 01:16 AM (01:16)     116        38360
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Good point. Learning or not, he's a God that is not aware of the future. Everything I've ever heard is that the Christian God is not only aware of the future, but actually present in the future at this exact moment some how (omnipresent geographically and temporally). It would have been helpful to know that of logika's god from the beginning of the discussion.

Edit: I was surprised I made a mistake like that so I went back to read it over again. Actually, logika does say God learns:

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Originally Posted by logika View Post
So God, in a sense, really does "learn" as the future unravels.
Though it's still unclear whether this god "learns" in a moral sense or just a "finding out what happens" sense.

Last edited by homo hirsutus; 16-Mar-2010 at 01:31 AM (01:31).
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Old 16-Mar-2010, 01:50 AM (01:50)     117        38361
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He "learns" because he remains willfully blind to the plethora of futures; this is willfull ignorance as opposed to actual ignorance. Rather that learning, he's allowing himself to see one thing or another because it's happening. Forgive me for saying so, but that doesn't anything -like- learning.
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Old 16-Mar-2010, 02:16 AM (02:16)     118        38362
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Forgive me for saying so, but that doesn't anything -like- learning.
No need. That makes sense. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around what lobika's God looks like. It seems to have even more contradictions than the Christian God I grew up hearing about.
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Old 19-Mar-2010, 05:09 PM (17:09)     119        38421
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Well, and logika says that human beings already had the ability to discern right from wrong... But if they did, then how come they suddenly realized they were (*heheinsertjuvenilejokehere*) NEKKID only after they ate the fruit? I mean, if being nekkid was evil and they already had the knowledge, they should have already been covered up with fig leaves.
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