Monday, July 07, 2008

The Logical Conclusion Of Atheism

According to atheists, there is no creator behind the universe. So, following Carl Sagan, the material universe consisting of molecules and atoms is all there is, all there ever was, and all there's ever going to be. Forever and ever, amen. Immaterial things, like souls, and spirits, and gods, etc. simply do not exist.

Which brings us to logic. In particular, boolean logic. You know, stuff like,

a or (a AND b) = a

a or NOT a = 1 (true)

a or 0 (false) = a

a or 1 (true) = 1 (true)

That kind of stuff.

These logical constructs seem to be true, and seem to exist, whether human brains are around to conceive of them or work the logic or not. And logic seems to be immaterial -- pure thought, one might say. So, does logic really exist? Did it exist before human beings, or is it a product of the human mind?

Let me put it this way. Did a) human brains invent boolean logic, or, b) did human brains discover boolean logic? The distinction is an important one. I want you to think about it.

If you answered b) we discovered boolean logic, then my question is, since logic is immaterial, how could it exist in a purely material, unintelligent universe -- unless there is in fact an intelligent creator behind the universe who put it there for us to discover and use? And, if it does exist, then we must conclude that the universe consists of both material and immaterial realities -- opening the door for all kinds of things that materialists and atheists want to deny.

Which means, if you are an atheist, you are now probably scrambling over to b) -- we invented it.

OK, we invented it. It's a product of our minds, or, to be more specific, our undesigned, evolved brains. If human beings didn't exist, logic wouldn't exist. Hey - logic probably evolved gradually, along with the human brain's development -- at first it was just a or 1 = 1, and logic kind of grew from there.

But if we created it, why should we trust it? We ourselves are undesigned. And, in a purely materialistic world, our thoughts can be nothing more than the undirected, purely mechanical collision of molecules inside our undesigned brains. Why, as C. S. Lewis so pointedly asked, would we put any confidence in anything coming out of an undesigned brain, boolean logic and rational thought included?

Which brings me to what I consider to be the illogic of atheism.

Atheists claim to be rational. They claim to trust in reason. It is their cause celebre. Indeed, it is why they are atheists and the rest of us are dupes.

We can only trust the logic of atheism if logic itself is trustworthy. But Logic is only trustworthy if it has a source outside of human beings, beings who sprang to life and evolved through mindless, purely mechanical, and wholly materialistic processes.

The logical conclusion of atheism is that it's conclusively illogical.

* * *

And why do atheists strive so hard to make sense of the universe which, if it is undesigned, has no sense?

Their very striving to make sense of it presupposes a Creator; maybe, deep down, they think that just maybe the universe was planned, does have a purpose, and maybe human beings really do have significance -- naaah. They actually prefer to think we are organized scum, no better than a slug. They actually prefer to think this!

said his there fool heart god The has in is no.

Maybe someday, given enough time and random mutations, these words will self-organize into a sentence. But you know what? Even if they do, by purely random means, -- there would still be intelligence behind them.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

75 comments:

Strong Conservative said...

I still love laminin.

Great logic though, very CS Lewis...

Lore_Weaver said...

Logic are the rules of tautology.

You've made no great epiphany here.

Lore_Weaver said...

In easy-to-understand-terms...

you are saying 1 = 1, and you then conclude that atheists think 1 = 2, but you provide no proof or evidence for your conclusion.

You've basically stated that order comes from God and only God, and there can be no other source for order.

This is where your fallacy is. This is your assumption that's faulty. You've given no proof or irrefutable evidence that God is the source of order.

If the above was true, you'd be right. But it isn't, so you're not.

Good try... but all you've done is turned a blind eye to the faults of the ontological argument and posted it, yet again.

Gonna take more than that to out wit the thnkkaman.

MIkhael said...

Meh. Cleverly constructed pretzel logic and semantics.

I have no trouble accepting that my life is but an insignificant spark in a universe which knows nothing and cares nothing more for me than it would care for any other random collection of atoms.

It's neither pathetic, nor worrisome. It simply is. It doesn't trouble me. I live my life from day to day, I plan for my and my children's future, and I accept that I will eventually die and I wonder how I will deal with that when if comes. I hope to do it with dignity.

I think that most of the religious instinct in people is their fear that once their life, it's gone and it probably mean nothing. They are not humble enough to accept this. Their own self importance will not let them accept this.

To my thinking, the need to believe that some all powerful entity is responsible for your existence, because your existence is so miraculous, is nothing more than self-indulgence and self-importance.

RkBall said...

"Logic are the rules of tautology."

Lore - "rules"? Where do rules come from? Why should there be "rules" in an undesigned, unintended universe? And, aren't the "rules" of logic immaterial?

Plus -- I gotta research boolean logic a bit more. I suspect that it is more than merely tautological, but I would have to check.

Ever had baked eggs?

RkBall said...

"you are saying 1 = 1, and you then conclude that atheists think 1 = 2"

Lore - no, I don't. I say 1=1 and atheists think 1=1. Everybody who accepts boolean logic believes 1=1.

What I am saying is that, in doing so, atheists are employing an immaterial tool of thinking, a set of rules, if you will, that pre-existed in the universe before there were human beings able to make use of it.

Rules of thought are getting pretty close to the concept of intelligence.

It all comes back to the Logos behind the universe.

Did you see my previous post on killing?

RkBall said...

"I still love laminin."

Hey, I looked it up. Better than a star of David or a crescent moon, or, -- what is the symbol for atheism, anyway?

But, what I really love is the Cross -- God's garbage dump where He took all the garbage within humanity and incinerated it and destroyed it. Christ identified with the deepest, darkest, dankest parts of me so that I can be free. What an exchange -- my life for his, his life for mine.

Don't get me started!

PS - if you have a minute, check out www.firesong.ca.

Kevin said...

If you look at the work being done in particle physics you will see that the current line of thinking is that the big bang created the rules of our universe and that other universes may have different rules. That fact that we strive to uncover the rules that govern the universe are neither here nor there as far as god is concerned. The rules are merely a tool we use to get a consistent result.

Lore_Weaver said...

"Plus -- I gotta research boolean logic a bit more. I suspect that it is more than merely tautological, but I would have to check."

I've taken several upper-year philosophy classes, you can take my word for it :P You can get into "possibility" modifiers, that's about as complex as it gets.

It all still boils down to what is sound and what isn't.

The interesting thing is logic can be interpreted differently based on the language used (English vs French for example). It has a lot to do with the "verb copula" and it's placement in the sentence.

This affects prepositional calculus and how premises can be combined.

Time for you to read up Aristotle :D 120pg softcover book for $80, might want to look in a Library for this one!

RkBall said...

" the big bang created the rules"

Kevin, you are using the word "created". First problem. The appearance of creation and design appears inescapable, even among those denying it.

Secondly, if you think like a materialist that all that exists is matter, you have mindless matter creating immaterial rules of thought.

So, you have the material begetting the immaterial, just like you have non-life begetting life.

Both are repulsive to logic.

Finally, in all of known human history and experience, when did a big bang or explosion of any type create "rules"? You are postulating an unobservable reality that has no correspondence to human experience, is unobserved, and is completely unrepeatable by experiment -- that's science?!

RkBall said...

"I've taken several upper-year philosophy classes"

And this is why I respect your opinion.

RkBall said...

mik -- your argument needs to rise above the merely ad hominem.

"I accept that I will eventually die and I wonder how I will deal with that when if comes. I hope to do it with dignity. "

I hope you do as well.

However, as soon as you say "dignity", you have strayed into the immaterial realm. In a purely material universe, concepts such as honor, integrity, dignity, etc. are absurdities.

The longings for something beyond the purely material atoms-and-molecules in a human heart is deep and persistent. According to an atheistic worldview, they are absurdities, and, to the extent that they persist in human beings, human beings are absurdities.

The simpler, more logical, more likely, and more satisfying answer is that there is a God.

RkBall said...

"Their own self importance will not let them accept this."

Theists believe that humans are important because they are created by God. Christians and Jews believe that humans are important because they are specifically created by God in God's (moral/rational/creative/spiritual) image.

It is atheists who have an inflated sense of importance. Because, if atheism is true, we are of no more worth or value than a slug or a blade of grass -- yet most atheists think it is somehow "wrong" to kill a human being. It would be no more wrong than it would be to kill a blade of grass, or to destroy an inanimate object like a rock, for that matter.

So, to the extent that atheists attribute any worth or value whatsoever to the human species, it is they who are suffering from an exaggerated sense of importance.

And the concept of "human rights". Don't get me started. What right does a rock have?

Please see my previous post on Is It OK to Kill.

Thanks.

Samuel Skinner said...

How does this prove God exists? After all, if God made the rules of logic, than they are arbitrary. But they aren't, so...

Honestly, this is the same as the problem of morality. However, as Plato pointed out 2500 years ago you can't use God as an answer for that. Using magic doesn't work as it is a logic problem.

It is called the Euthyphro dilemma.

As for your argument, it is known as the transcendental argument.

You can look up the refutation using a search engine.

Mike said...

Yes laminin.

Indeed CS Lewis - easily refuted and illogical.

Listen to Lore, your not even in his league.

MgS said...

Writes Mr. Ball:

It is atheists who have an inflated sense of importance. Because, if atheism is true, we are of no more worth or value than a slug or a blade of grass -- yet most atheists think it is somehow "wrong" to kill a human being. It would be no more wrong than it would be to kill a blade of grass, or to destroy an inanimate object like a rock, for that matter.

You are confusing moral and ethical issues with logic.

An atheist's denial of the theistic has nothing to do with formal logics. (Mathematics in general is not bound by either a moral or ethical compass that humans would recognize)

Worse, you make the classic theist error of presuming that in the absence some kind of theistic morality, an atheist must be completely amoral, and devoid of any binding ethics. This is arguably not the case.

RkBall said...

"How does this prove God exists?"

I never said it proves God exists.

"After all, if God made the rules of logic, than they are arbitrary. But they aren't, so..."

1. I never said the rules of logic were arbitrary. I said that in a purely material universe, they don't exist.

2. Does not follow. God is not an arbitrary being.

RkBall said...

"You are confusing moral and ethical issues with logic."

I don't think so. I am arguing along two lines: a) logic ought not to exist in a purely material universe, and b) objective morality cannot exist in a purely material universe.

"An atheist's denial of the theistic has nothing to do with formal logics."

Well, he uses logic and gives it great authority. Where did it come from?

"Worse, you make the classic theist error of presuming that in the absence some kind of theistic morality, an atheist must be completely amoral...."

I did no such thing. In fact, I believe the opposite -- that atheists are hopelessly moral, like the rest of the human race, and that morality is a deeply persistent characteristic of human beings -- even the Mafia have a developed moral code.

What I am saying is, that without a divine Lawgiver to breathe a moral sense into humans, human morality is just a meaningless quirk of evolution, and it has no objective existence outside of the purely material human brain.

In a godless world, there can be no "right" and "wrong", there can only be atoms colliding.

Kwil said...

You need to learn what logic is.

Logic is merely the expression of truth, it allows us to communicate truth from one to another in a way that is repeatable, predictable, and provable. We trust it because precedent has shown that it works. Repeatably, predictably, and reliably. When it stops working, we'll stop trusting it and start putting faith in an arbitrary God.

Truth is discovered. It is the cold hard facts that logic was invented to express.

The problem you're having is that you're conflating these two concepts.

Your argument that logic can only be trustworthy if it came from beyond humanity neglects the idea that logic, as developed by humanity as a means of expressing truth, has had any errors in it ironed out.

Evolution occuring through a series of random mutations does not mean evolution itself is random. Rather that the random mutations that survive and propogate are better suited for survival in that environment than the random mutations that did not.

This also applies to morality. Morality evolved because those humans who act in a moral manner tend to survive better (as it allows them to rely on each other and thus devote less energy to watching their own back) than those who don't.

Solenadon said...

I did no such thing. In fact, I believe the opposite -- that atheists are hopelessly moral, like the rest of the human race, and that morality is a deeply persistent characteristic of human beings -- even the Mafia have a developed moral code.

What I am saying is, that without a divine Lawgiver to breathe a moral sense into humans, human morality is just a meaningless quirk of evolution, and it has no objective existence outside of the purely material human brain.




So, um, where does this "Divine lawgiver" get the laws?

If the "Divine laws" are merely proclimations of the lawgiver, then they are indeed arbitrary in that there is no logic behind them. They are just some beings mind farts, and IMO hardly worth taking at face value.

Now if the "Divine Laws" are not arbitrary but reside independently of the "Divine Lawgiver", then one does not need a deity to find out what they are. In this case it is probably beter to ignore said deity, as one would be stuck with ITS misinterpretations.

This, of course, leaves aside the question of who or what created the "Divine lawgiver", and just from where IT recieved its morals.

In a godless world, there can be no "right" and "wrong", there can only be atoms colliding.

Well, lets ask the Amalekites about living in a God-filled world.

What, we can't. Why not?
Because your Deity, your source or "Morality", ordered "Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey"

Fine morality there. Where is the "Love your enemy as yourself"?

RkBall said...

"Morality evolved because those humans who act in a moral manner tend to survive better (as it allows them to rely on each other and thus devote less energy to watching their own back) than those who don't."

I'm familiar with the argument. I find it unconvincing and frankly diminishing of what it means to be human.

In a purely material world, "right" and "wrong" cannot, objectively, exist. Moral sense can be nothing more than (by your admission) a purely utilitarian quirk of amoral evolution.

So, just as a cosmos emerges from a mindless bang, life emerges from non-life, consciousness from non-consciousness, now morality emerges from amorality.

At some point the improbabilities add up to the point that it becomes easier to believe that perhaps God does in fact exist, and that He is responsible for both the material and immaterial aspects of human existence.

David said...

Quantum systems do not obey strict logic. There is no "A or not-A" assertion for a quantum system, for example. It is possible for the system to be in the "A and not-A" state.

This is so riddled with factual errors and unfounded assertions that it is complete nonsense by the end.

Lore_Weaver said...

"In a godless world, there can be no "right" and "wrong", there can only be atoms colliding."

And they do it in such precise beauty that our frail, time constrained, and extremely fallible evolved minds find it easier to attribute to divine interference.

I suppose we'll call this round a draw Rick. Can we hit up Quantum Mechanics next? *hugglebunnyhug*

RkBall said...

"You need to learn what logic is.

Truth is discovered. It is the cold hard facts that logic was invented to express."

So the rules that underly logic didn't exist before humans came along and invented them, is that what you are saying?

You're saying that the boolean expression

a or 1 = 1 was a human invention and requires human beings to exist?

I'm saying that a or 1 = 1 exists and is true whether humans are around or not. And that this fact points to the existence of immaterial things, such as logic.

And, in a purely darwinian universe, immaterial things do not exist.

Furthermore, if all human beings died out, a or 1 = 1 would still be true. The immaterial rules of logic exist, whether humans do or not.

My point is that the universe as we know it consists of both material and immaterial things, and all attempts to refute this seem to glance away from the central argument.

Kwil said...

"I'm familiar with the argument. I find it unconvincing and frankly diminishing of what it means to be human."

Okay. But that's a statement of belief on your part, not a statement of fact or logic. In essence, this reduces the entirety of your post to, "I don't believe in an atheistic universe," which is entirely your right -- but it is a statement of belief, not an argument against atheism.

Personally, I also find it diminishing of what it means to be human -- but I consider that a good thing. IMO, The sooner humanity realizes that it really is nothing all that special in the universe, the sooner we can start to celebrate our accomplishments on their own merit and the sooner we start to realize that the only thing we really can trust to save us is ourselves.

As for your most recent post, you're still conflating truth (1=1) with the expression of that truth (logic). To say that the expression exists irrespective of human existance is obviously folly. The truth will still exist. The expression? No.

RkBall said...

"If the "Divine laws" are merely proclimations of the lawgiver, then they are indeed arbitrary in that there is no logic behind them."

Does not follow. If a mother says, "don't touch a hot stove because you'll burn your hands" is this statement necessarily arbitrary and without logic"?

"Now if the "Divine Laws" are not arbitrary but reside independently of the "Divine Lawgiver", then one does not need a deity to find out what they are."

The apostle Paul makes exactly this argument, with the caveat that, as fallen creatures, our ability to know the law of God instinctively is degraded. And this is why, my friend, God can justly judge each human being, whether they are familiar with the Bible, or have heard the gospel or not. Paul. Romans.


"This, of course, leaves aside the question of who or what created the "Divine lawgiver", and just from where IT recieved its morals."

This gets us into the issue of cause and effect. The material universe is a chain of causes and effects; God stands outside of it. God is eternal -- was, is, is to come.

"Well, lets ask the Amalekites about living in a God-filled world. What, we can't. Why not? Because your Deity, your source or "Morality", ordered "Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey"

Fine morality there. Where is the "Love your enemy as yourself"?"

short answer: The Amalekites didn't live in a God-filled world; they lived in a world in a state of rebellion against God. The God who gave life is entitled to take life. The God who gave the divine law is entitled to act as Judge over human beings. The Amalekites were ripe for judgment -- a judgment that only God can make.

RkBall said...

"Quantum systems do not obey strict logic. There is no "A or not-A" assertion for a quantum system, for example. It is possible for the system to be in the "A and not-A" state."

I'm familiar with this. And so what do you conclude -- that boolean logic is a crock? That argument based in boolean logic is bogus?

The rules of boolean logic may not apply in the quantum world, but there is so much about the quantum world we don't understand, I wouldn't use quantum theory to blow apart boolean logic.

If anything, the quantum world should leave atheists with less confidence in the certainty about their purely mechanistic view of the universe.

If A and Not A can be simultaneously true, then there is more to the universe than human reason can easily comprehend or master -- room for mystery.

Room for God?

RkBall said...

"you're still conflating truth (1=1) with the expression of that truth (logic). To say that the expression exists irrespective of human existance is obviously folly. The truth will still exist. The expression? No."

I'm saying that boolean logic is not just used to express truth. It is itself truth. And it is immaterial. It is not like, for example, saying that atoms exist, which are material. Boolean logic is an immaterial thing and it exists, just as much as atoms exist. It, and other forms of logic, are the foundation for rational human thought. It is, ultimately, the foundation for atheistic assertions. And it is immaterial. And darwinian atheists, if consistent, cannot accept the reality of anything immaterial.

Lore_Weaver said...

We kinda drifted into the quantum world, it should have it's own post, with a restated premise and argument :D Get on it Rick! *hugs*

The Quantum world still follows a strict order, (what?) which is no order at all, (huh?) which is illogically logical. (aroo?)

All possible states must be described as all taking place, that isn't to say it can "break the rules". The physics of the really-small just happen to have some different rules.

Quantum mechanics just seems illogical because most people don't understand the prepositional "possible" operator.

MgS said...

What I am saying is, that without a divine Lawgiver to breathe a moral sense into humans, human morality is just a meaningless quirk of evolution, and it has no objective existence outside of the purely material human brain.

Why is there a necessity for a "divine lawgiver"? I don't find it in the least bit troubling to consider human morality to be a natural outcome of human development.

RkBall said...

"I don't find it in the least bit troubling to consider human morality to be a natural outcome of human development."

Not sure what you mean by human development, but under darwinism, any kind of development upwards is a no-no. Under darwinian assumptions, progress and ascendancy are illusions, and humans are no higher or better as creatures than those creatures who, for example, eat their young.

Lore_Weaver said...

"Under darwinian assumptions, progress and ascendancy are illusions, and humans are no higher or better as creatures than those creatures who, for example, eat their young."

This is incorrect. Evolution by Natural Selection takes incremental steps upward and constantly better. The worse are slowly bred away. Speaking of creatures who eat their young, make sure you include Humans in there. We are "higher" (depending on definition) because of sentience.

Now you're going to argue that "God made sentience". Then we get into an existential realism debate. I'm not sure you want to go there with me! *giggles*

mikmik said...

You don't have a clue as to what I think or believe outside of the fact that I don't think there is a god. It is all straw-man conjecture that you ascribe to us, or any individual

RkBall said...

"You don't have a clue as to what I think or believe outside of the fact that I don't think there is a god. It is all straw-man conjecture that you ascribe to us, or any individual"

I don't know you, and we've never met as far as I know. So, yes, I have no idea what you think or believe.

But I do have good grounds for assuming that atheists are materialists, because most of the articulate ones have said so. They deny the reality of immaterial things. The universe is all that exists.

If you think differently, by all means express yourself.

RkBall said...

" Evolution by Natural Selection takes incremental steps upward and constantly better. "

In a mindless darwinian world, there is no basis for saying something is higher or better. There's simply no criteria -- unless you want to posit the existence of immaterial "criteria".

If a slug survives, and a human survives, that's it. One is neither higher or better than the other.

Ascendency, like design, must be illusionary.

RkBall said...

"Evolution by Natural Selection takes incremental steps upward and constantly better."

Even committed evolutionists are saying there appears to be something going on in evolution beyond chance mutation and blind, indifferent natural selection.

MgS said...

Not sure what you mean by human development, but under darwinism, any kind of development upwards is a no-no. Under darwinian assumptions, progress and ascendancy are illusions, and humans are no higher or better as creatures than those creatures who, for example, eat their young.

For starters, I'm not so arrogant as to assume that humanity is any better than other creatures on this planet. Dominant, perhaps, but I would be cautious about assuming that dominance means "better".

You still haven't addressed the fundamental point I was starting frame, namely that you haven't provided any reason that it is necessary that there be some 'lawgiver' being that imparted morality to humanity.

MgS said...

Minor typo correction:

You still haven't addressed the fundamental point I was starting frame,

Should read: You still haven't addressed the fundamental point I was starting from,

my bad.

Handyman said...

lore_weaver, I hope you don't mean that evolution "takes incremental steps upward and constantly better" in a teleological sense, and that this is just a semantic problem. Rkball's statements on evolution are more accurate.. Evolution has no goal, no end point it is striving for. If a species would better survive in its environment by 'devolving' - becoming simpler, more specialized, then that's what may happen. (In one of his wonderful books on evolution, Steven Jay Gould gives an example of a parasite that has lost its digestive system and its mobility - but survives just fine without it.) I say 'may' because evolution is contingent. There is no plan - rewind the tape and you may get entirely different results.

No, there is nothing going on in evolution beyond chance mutation and blind, indifferent natural selection.

Having said all that, lore_weaver, I'm with you on your other comments and philosophical approaches.

David said...

I conclude that you don't know what you're talking about, and that you're haphazardly mixing fields of study and making assertions that are nonsense. It really doesn't matter what I believe about the "nature" or "reality" of logic. Even if we grant you the false dichotomy you offer, the rest of the reasoning is flimsy, and the connections are silly. The topic is almost laughable on its own.

Just stop trying to justify your faith with appeals to reality, logic, or science. You are not going to succeed where countless of your intellectual superiors have not. It is a pointless endeavour that always ends badly. At the very least, you should stick to things that you know about. That means that you should probably stay away from evolution and quantum physics, at least.

Lore_Weaver said...

Handyman, it's all in how you define "better". The organism more able to reproduce and produce little ones just like itself is "better", therefore it's traits pass to it's offspring.

There's a pair of Carl Sagan "Cosmos" clips somewhere on the intertubes that explains these ideas.

Rick, here's what you said, and I'll explain it using us hoomans.
===
If a slug survives, and a human survives, that's it. One is neither higher or better than the other.
===

I have Red Hair. Lets argue that because I have Red Hair, the ladies don't wanna get wit me. (come on ladies!)

Thusly, I don't have any children. Also, the ladies don't like the Red Headed men, and don't select them. Thus, there become fewer and fewer humans with Red Hair over time. Eventually, Red Hair is completely non-existent in Humans.

(I'm happy to report that I've got 4 little ones with my Red Headed Gene! Take that world! *giggles*)

The point is, over VAST amounts of time, these changes can make big differences in speciation. If, for example there were two islands, and some finches flew out to those islands, and lived there. The birds were quite content. On one island, there were Oranges. On the other island, there were coconuts.

Overtime, the birds living on the Orange Island would become adept at eating Oranges, and their beaks would reflect this. This would be true because only the birds best able to eat Oranges would survive. The birds would get better and better at eating Oranges over time, as the birds that were better at eating oranges could provide for more offspring.

The same would happen on coconut island, but with coconuts.

Eventually, you'd get a bunch of orange eating birds that couldn't eat coconuts, and coconut eating birds that can't eat oranges.

This effect has been proven with E.Coli bacteria through several generations, as shown by a microbiologist, and peer reviewed in Nature. Pretty cool stuff, he managed to change an environment and bacteria began to evolve to live in the new environment.

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

E.Coli experiment link

http://tinyurl.com/ecoli

This well describes evolution.

Handyman said...

Lore_weaver,

I know exactly what you are saying - however, Rick took your original use of the word 'upward' to imply some kind of goal, as opposed to simply 'better within their environment'. And when he stated that humans are no better than than creatures that eat their young, you said that was incorrect, but your answer depends on his context, which I believe you missed. He is looking for some transcendent purpose for humanity, which evolution does not provide, thus my comments.

Let me make it clear that I understand the idea of natural selection 'choosing' organisms with traits better adapted to their environment for survival. (I use the word 'choosing' advisedly - I don't wish to imply an intelligent agent here.) To ask the question "Are humans better than fish?", you have to make clear what 'better' means. Am I better at living in water than a fish? No - my ability to breathe water is severely limited, to put it mildly. In that sense a fish is better than I am. On the other hand a fish is not so great at breathing air. I beat the fish hands-down in that case.

Further, I should point out that evolutionary mechanisms such as genetic drift neither improve nor harm an organism's chance of survival, again within the contest of its environment. Some genetic changes are neutral as far as natural selection goes.

I was just concerned that you were giving Rick ammunition to say things like, "Even committed evolutionists are saying there appears to be something going on in evolution beyond chance mutation and blind, indifferent natural selection." By indifferent he (and I) means, "Not guided by intelligence".

Teilhard de Chardin, for example, was a theistic evolutionist who held that human evolution had a goal - that humanity was evolving towards the angelic - which implies an intelligent guiding hand behind evolution. This is a concept that neither I, nor the typical evolutionary biologist, buy into. If our environment changed radically (severe glaciation, nuclear war, something out of H. G. Wells "The Time Machine"), angelic is not where evolution driven by natural selection would take us.

Are we on the same page with this?

DJeffery said...

Shigella is still E. Coli. "...the traditional concept of species doesn't fit bacteria very comfortably" Carl Zimmer

RkBall said...

"you haven't provided any reason that it is necessary that there be some 'lawgiver' being that imparted morality to humanity."

A lawgiver is not necessary under darwinian/materialistic assumptions -- morality could pop out of the slime just as easily as intelligence, consciousness, free(?)-will, beauty, love, justice, etc. So, the presence of morality in human consciousness does not "prove" the existence of God -- and I am not trying to do that.

A divine source is necessary for morality to ultimately mean something. Otherwise, if a moral sense emerged from an unthinking, amoral source, it's an absurdity not to be taken seriously. We may think that there is right and wrong because evolution wired us this way, but if mindless, amoral evolution is all there is, then objective morality doesn't exist.

RkBall said...

"Eventually, you'd get a bunch of orange eating birds that couldn't eat coconuts, and coconut eating birds that can't eat oranges."

Agreed.

This effect has been proven with E.Coli bacteria through several generations, as shown by a microbiologist, and peer reviewed in Nature. Pretty cool stuff, he managed to change an environment and bacteria began to evolve to live in the new environment.

Agreed. Exciting stuff.

Lore_Weaver said...

"Are we on the same page with this?"

Sure are Handyman. Thanks for pointing out the context, I had missed the exact meaning of my words given that context.

I think I'm going to move part of this debate over to my place :D It's also Science Wednesday, so I'll be posting that anyway.

MgS said...

A divine source is necessary for morality to ultimately mean something. Otherwise, if a moral sense emerged from an unthinking, amoral source, it's an absurdity not to be taken seriously. We may think that there is right and wrong because evolution wired us this way, but if mindless, amoral evolution is all there is, then objective morality doesn't exist.

Again, I come back to the fundamental question - "Why?"

You assert that anything that emerged out of an apparently random process must be "an absurdity", but you provide me with no reason whatsoever to accept that claim.

Why is it inconceivable that a group of social beings could not derive a mutually agreed upon sense of morality with respect to one another?

For that matter, is it even the case that there is an "objective morality" at all? Or is morality entirely subjective and bound to the context in which it exists?

RkBall said...

"You assert that anything that emerged out of an apparently random process must be "an absurdity", but you provide me with no reason whatsoever to accept that claim."

It would be like throwing a can of paint onto the ground and morality popping out of it. Even less than this. Because "throwing a can of paint" implies an Actor. According to materialistic evolution, there isn't even an Actor throwing the paint.

"Why is it inconceivable that a group of social beings could not derive a mutually agreed upon sense of morality with respect to one another? "

If that's all it is, a social contract, then, sure, once you get past the idea of social beings emerging from mindless soup, we could develop that -- we do that all the time. But, most people think that morality is far more deeply ingrained than that, and, in fact, darwinists insist on it. In fact, a sense of "ought", a sense of right-and-wrong is universal among humans. We differ as to what the "ought" is.

"For that matter, is it even the case that there is an "objective morality" at all? Or is morality entirely subjective and bound to the context in which it exists?"

That's my point. If it is not given by an authoritative source, and is entirely subjective, moral sense itself has no ultimate authority or criteria and Hitler's is as good as Mother Teresa's.

Consistent atheists, when pressed, concede as much.

Solenadon said...

If the "Divine laws" are merely proclimations of the lawgiver, then they are indeed arbitrary in that there is no logic behind them."

Does not follow. If a mother says, "don't touch a hot stove because you'll burn your hands" is this statement necessarily arbitrary and without logic"?


Interesting this. But this is because there is a clear consequence to that action. What happens if mother says "Don't touch the stove"? Now it becomes arbitrary.

What if the divine lawgiver decides "Sand is bad. Stay off the sand"? Should we listen? And is this now a moral imperative?

"Now if the "Divine Laws" are not arbitrary but reside independently of the "Divine Lawgiver", then one does not need a deity to find out what they are."

The apostle Paul makes exactly this argument, with the caveat that, as fallen creatures, our ability to know the law of God instinctively is degraded. And this is why, my friend, God can justly judge each human being, whether they are familiar with the Bible, or have heard the gospel or not. Paul. Romans.


That's only because he had to add that caveat that humans are "fallen". Leaving aside the problem introduced by an omniscient, omnipotent and perfect Deity screwing up so monumentally as to create something that COULD FALL (really throws into sharp relief the bogusness of your argument), if these laws are external to said deity, said deity is not needed. And if we need a monumental screwup like that to interpret external morals...well...it seems we'd be better off ignoring the middle man...if said middle man existed.


"This, of course, leaves aside the question of who or what created the "Divine lawgiver", and just from where IT recieved its morals."

This gets us into the issue of cause and effect. The material universe is a chain of causes and effects; God stands outside of it. God is eternal -- was, is, is to come.


Outside existance, eternal, and yet a monumental screwup. This is not helping your case that we need a deity to have morals. Why do we have need of an eternal (proof of this please), outside the material universe (if it is outside why do we need to even consider it) to be moral?

As I asked, it's only your assumption that the deity is eternal. But since another piece of Christian logic is that all things require a creator, well...you have a problem. Who created this deity of yours?

"Well, lets ask the Amalekites about living in a God-filled world. What, we can't. Why not? Because your Deity, your source or "Morality", ordered "Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey"

Fine morality there. Where is the "Love your enemy as yourself"?"

short answer: The Amalekites didn't live in a God-filled world; they lived in a world in a state of rebellion against God. The God who gave life is entitled to take life. The God who gave the divine law is entitled to act as Judge over human beings. The Amalekites were ripe for judgment -- a judgment that only God can make.


The Amalekites didn't live in a god filled world? Isn't your deity everywhere? What was he doing, off in Tahiti that day?

And interesting, arbitrary morals there. A deity that gives life can simply take it on a whim. So, according to your logic of needing this diety to interpret for us...morals allow us to kill what we create. Hey, we have the deity's interpretation to go with.

RkBall said...

"What happens if mother says "Don't touch the stove"? Now it becomes arbitrary."

It still isn't arbitrary. The recipient of the law may be merely ignorant of the lawgiver's intentions; it may appear arbitrary but it is not.

"What if the divine lawgiver decides "Sand is bad. Stay off the sand"? Should we listen? And is this now a moral imperative?"

Perhaps God knows there is quicksand. Perhaps he is simply testing us to see if we will obey a command we do not understand. If God says it, we should listen and obey.

"an omniscient, omnipotent and perfect Deity screwing up so monumentally as to create something that COULD FALL (really throws into sharp relief the bogusness of your argument)"

Not really. God, in his wisdom set things up this way. One reason -- freewill. In a reality in which love is the highest value, love which is not freely chosen is bogus. In order to have creatures who would freely love him, he had to set things up so that creatures could truly disobey, truly reject him, truly rebel. And that, my friend is the screw-up.

"if these laws are external to said deity, said deity is not needed."

1. The lawgiver is needed to give the laws.
2. The lawgiver's Spirit is needed to help us interpret these laws.
3. Now that we are fallen, the image of God in us is marred -- we need a lot of help. The lawgiver is needed to re-write these laws in our hearts.
4. The deity is needed to enforce the laws, judge those who disobey, and reward those who follow them. You wouldn't be offended if the lawgiver punished Hitler or a child rapist, would you?
5. Finally, the deity is required to ensure that, eventually, the rebellion that was unleashed on Earth is one day brought to an end, quashed, stopped. That is why Jesus is coming back, and why it will be catastrophic for many.

"But since another piece of Christian logic is that all things require a creator, well...you have a problem. Who created this deity of yours?"

This question has been asked, and answered a million times.

Christians do not say that all things require a creator. They say that the universe requires a Creator because it is finite and was brought into existence. More formally, a logical argument states that, in all of human experience, "anything that begins to exist has a cause". The key word is begins. God did not begin to exist. He is uncaused. He is eternal. That's just one of the many things that makes him God and us, not God.

"The Amalekites didn't live in a god filled world? Isn't your deity everywhere? What was he doing, off in Tahiti that day?"

No, he was busy rolling up the rims from the thousands of Tim Horton's coffees he had consumed the day before (just kidding) -- if you're not Canadian, you're not going to get this one.

God is present everywhere, but his felt presence is not. Let me ask you this. Is God in you? Does he fill you? Does his love and compassion direct your every thought and action? If not, then God may in one sense be everywhere, in another sense, not.

"And interesting, arbitrary morals there. A deity that gives life can simply take it on a whim. So, according to your logic of needing this diety to interpret for us"

There certainly could be a deity who was arbitrary and acted on whims -- the gods of the Greeks and Romans certainly were. And this would not be a God I would want to worship -- we would be under a tyranny.

One of the first things I noticed, many years ago, when reading the Hebrew Scriptures, was that the God depicted in the pages of the Jewish Scriptures was so unlike the depictions of gods of surrounding religions: he was neither arbitrary nor acted on whims. It was the first thing I noticed, the first thing that attracted me, and the first in a long series of steps that culminated in me bowing the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the highest points of worship in my life was when I realized that God, of all the things or persons he might have been - tyrannical, disinterested, arbitrary, etc., was in fact who He was -- kind, just, loving, etc. -- the eternal I Am.

"...morals allow us to kill what we create. Hey, we have the deity's interpretation to go with."

Does not follow. Unless you think you yourself are God. God has prerogatives that his creatures do not have. It could be argued that if you created a painting, it might be your right to destroy it. In Atlas Shrugged, "Howard Roark laughed", the architect destroys his building.

To the contrary, God makes it clear that he will destroy those who seek to destroy his creation. It is his, not ours. You are his, not your own. And, if you spend eternity apart from him, it will not be his choice, it will be yours.

MgS said...

That's my point. If it is not given by an authoritative source, and is entirely subjective, moral sense itself has no ultimate authority or criteria and Hitler's is as good as Mother Teresa's.

When you proceed from false assumptions, you tend to wind up with equally false conclusions.

You have thoroughly muddied the distinction between a need for a moral structure that seems to be a common human attribute with the valuation of those moral structures.

When viewed as a social contract, any given moral structure has a certain degree of validity to those who are participants in that contract, and they may well go as far as to declare it "good", regardless of how it appears to an outsider.

In fact, your example of Hitler makes that point for me in some respects. Reprehensible as they were, Hitler was able to persuade a surprising number of people to subscribe to his ideas.

The problem I have with your reasoning is that you continue to argue "from credulity". You find it so improbable that the human need for moral (and ethical) structure could have occurred through a perfectly natural sequence of events that you find it necessary to declare that some metaphysical being must have "provided" that need, and (in your claims) then provided the moral code itself.

Sadly, I don't think you have yet made the case that there is a logical necessity or precondition of a metaphysical "lawgiver" being part of the story. I will accept that the possibility exists, but I do not think that you have produced the evidence necessary to support that it is necessarily the case.

RkBall said...

" You find it so improbable that the human need for moral (and ethical) structure could have occurred through a perfectly natural sequence of events that you find it necessary to declare that some metaphysical being must have "provided" that need"

That is not what I am arguing. I am arguing that, in a purely materialistic universe consisting only of mindless atoms and molecules, morality cannot objectively exist, there can be no such categories as right and wrong. Morality can be nothing more than either an invention of mindless amoral evolution, in which case it is an absurdity not to be taken seriously, or a human invention, like the concepts of buying and selling. Now, humans could construct or invent morals, and they could even have great utilitarian value, but, the evidence is that morality is NOT a human invention -- there is a persistent moral sense that dwells in every human being in every culture; that is why darwinians insist that "evolution did it".

My point is not just that human morality could not exist without a creative moral source behind it (although I think that is reasonable to think that), my point is this:

If warm, compassionate morality is the product of mindless, unfeeling evolution, then it is an illegitimate absurdity.

It is an absurdity, has no objective weight or value, and ought to be discarded at will by humans as it suits them -- just like we feel free to cut our hair. Evolution is mindless. Mindless, mindless, mindless. If morality comes from evolution, morality has no more legitimate weight than toenails. And killing a human being is of no more consequence than cutting one's toenails -- all that exists is atoms and molecules.

Have a great day.

MgS said...

If warm, compassionate morality is the product of mindless, unfeeling evolution, then it is an illegitimate absurdity.

Given that the universe around us is a series of interacting systems, and of a surprising degree of complexity, I still argue that your claim lacks a compelling reason why a reader should accept it at face value.

Why is it beyond credulity for you to accept that a long series of interactions could have resulted in a creature with basic instincts that would form the foundation of what you call morality?

As for morals being a somewhat human invention, like commerce. That is actually quite a natural outcome for a creature that is highly social in the first place, and second also has numerous times of life where it is highly vulnerable. Some shared set of mutually protective instincts is going to evolve quite naturally, and on that foundation it is entirely conceivable that as the creature becomes more sophisticated that social rules such as morality will emerge from that foundation.

My point being, that while you claim that morality that emerges in a purely evolutionary fashion is "absurdity", one cannot simply dismiss out of hand the probability that it could well have emerged from precisely that course - unless you have amazingly strong evidence to show that it is impossible.

RkBall said...

"Why is it beyond credulity for you to accept that a long series of interactions could have resulted in a creature with basic instincts that would form the foundation of what you call morality?"

Either the universe makes sense, or it is absurd.

If moral sense of right and wrong, good and evil, emerged from amoral, mindless evolution, it is absurd. If it is absurd, there is no point even thinking about it further. All is absurdity, just like consciousness arising from a soup of atoms and molecules.

"Why is it beyond credulity for you to accept that a long series of interactions could have resulted in a creature with basic instincts that would form the foundation of what you call morality?"

I'm not saying its beyond credulity. I'm saying that if morality emerged from unthinking, unfeeling, uncaring, mindless evolution, it has no real legitimacy; it is fake, at best, utilitarian, but, push come to shove, their is no such thing as objective good and evil, right and wrong.

"Some shared set of mutually protective instincts is going to evolve quite naturally"

That is quite a stretch. It didn't evolve in rocks. It didn't evolve in wolves. It didn't evolve in pumpkins. It didn't evolve in trees. Since evolution is directionless, and since, to your way of thinking there is no moral sense to the universe itself, there is no reason to expect an immaterial moral sense to develop in anything or anyone. It is much more easily argued that it is unnatural and improbable.


"and on that foundation it is entirely conceivable that as the creature becomes more sophisticated that social rules such as morality will emerge from that foundation."

You are now using the term evolution in two different senses of the word -- be careful of this.

In one context you are using it in the sense of mindless, directionless darwinian evolution, where, if there is no goal, there can be no progress, and all that happens "just happens".

When it comes to humans and "more sophisticated" morality, you are using the term evolution in the sense of development, or improvement, in a progressive sense.

Remember, in darwinian evolution both design and progress to a goal are illusions.

* * *

Plus, you are holding me to a higher standard of proof than you are holding yourself. For my argument against yours you say, "prove that my view is impossible".

However, you have done absolutely nothing, nothing, on your part to prove that the existence of a God who gave us a moral sense is impossible.

If it comes down to probabilities, I believe that when all the evidence is taken into account, including innate moral sense, that an all-powerful Creator, who is Himself conscious and moral is the most probable (not to mention most satisfying) explanation.

In other words, God is the more likely explanation.

MgS said...

Plus, you are holding me to a higher standard of proof than you are holding yourself. For my argument against yours you say, "prove that my view is impossible".

Remember, I'm not the person postulating the necessity of a metaphysical being to impart some kind of moral code upon humanity.

I'm not asking you to prove that my position is wrong, but rather to substantiate your claim of necessity.

However, you have done absolutely nothing, nothing, on your part to prove that the existence of a God who gave us a moral sense is impossible.

I haven't claimed that a metaphysical being is impossible at all. What I am doing is insisting that you provide your readers with a coherent reason to accept your claim of that being as a "necessary part" of the world with respect to the existence of human morality.

My complaint is that you are using essentially the same reasoning that Michael Behe did in "Darwin's Black Box": "Look at how complex/perfect/irreducible X is, therefore it must have been designed".

To which, I must ask the logical question - Why must that be the case? Is it not possible that other causal explanations are valid?

Same thing here - asserting that some arbitrary X implies the intervention of a metaphysical being in the conscious behaviour of humanity does not provide me with a compelling reason to accept that assertion - it is purely an assertion.

DJeffery said...

To expand my previous post I don't think it's particularly noteworthy that E. Coli have a healthy appetite. In 1928 Frank Griffith while investigating a pneumonia epidemic found that live pneumococci acquired the genetic traits of dead pneumococci, so to say that bacteria are enormously supple would be an understatement. Prior to this happenstance it was generally accepted that the foundation of genetics lay in the proteins of chromosomes. Shigella is still E. Coli and pneumococci still causes pneumonia.

RkBall said...

A msg to mgs:

Here's a link I stumbled upon:

http://www.gto.org/question/morality.htm

Covers some of the same ground we have been covering!

MgS said...

http://www.gto.org/question/morality.htm

Nice try, but it suffers from the same basic presuppositions that I have been taking exception to in the first place.

If you are going to do so and invoke the rigor of formal logics as you do in your opening post, then you can and will be held to demonstrating the validity of both your conclusions as well as the suppositions from which you draw those conclusions.

RkBall said...

"My complaint is that you are using essentially the same reasoning that Michael Behe did in "Darwin's Black Box": "Look at how complex/perfect/irreducible X is, therefore it must have been designed"."

My argument is not based on either necessity or complexity.

1. It is based on absurdity. Would you trust or accept as legitimate a constraint on your life that was proposed to you by a mentally defective, enfeebled mind that knew nothing about your situation? I doubt it. Well, in the case of darwinian evolution, it's much worse than that. Darwinian evolution is not just mentally feeble, it is mentally dead -- there is no intelligence at work in darwinian evolution. So, it is not just a leap, it is a huge leap to propose that a legitimate or authoritative moral sense would be given to us by mindless evolution, and even more idiotic to think that thinking, sentient beings would submit to it for even a moment. Would you submit to a speed limit imposed on you by a random number generator that could propose values from 0 to 1,000 mph? Or would you say, you know what, that's just a random number generator, I'm going to over-ride it. Same with any in-built moral sense IF EVOLUTION IS THE SOURCE OF IT, as evolutionists insist it is.

2. The immateriality of the concepts of good and evil. I argued this fully earlier. Immaterial things like morality ought not to exist in the nuts-and-bolts world of atoms and molecules. Would you expect the nuts and bolts inside a handyman's tool chest to somehow, over eons of time, to develop a moral sense? The existence of immaterial senses, like moral sense within humans, is more easily explained, and more likely explained, by positing a Source who is himself personal and moral.

3. Either there is objective morality, which, in a purely material universe requires a Law-giver outside of the universe, or all morality is subjective within humans and one person's is as good as another's.

If the source is evolution, if evolution had "told us" that it's right to kill competing humans, steal their kids, and rape their wives, then that would be right and good, and the opposite, caring for people, would be evil.

I wouldn't want to live in a universe where the highest moral authority is not just mentally-challenged, not just mentally-enfeebled, but mindless and itself morally indifferent.

And, thank God, I don't.

MgS said...

Point #1: Fundamentally, this is argument by credulity. You find it beyond believable that human morality could have evolved through a series of natural events, therefore you conclude it could not have.

Point #2: This is essentially the complexity argument that you have postulated, mixed with a certain amount of 'argument by credulity' as in Point #1

Point #3: Repeats the notions of necessity that I have previously criticized.

The problem with your line of argument is that it ignores the reality that the world around us is a series of interacting systems that influence each other. Further, you fail to recognize that living creatures on this world learn and adapt socially based on the circumstances in which they exist.

Given sufficient time and energy, most of what you are criticizing as "absurd" can in fact be described through a variety of evolutionary paths - whether they are purely biological evolution, or we are talking about the evolution of society as it responds to the pressures around it.

In your own argument, you have invoked the rigor of formal logics, and I claim that if you are going to use that to trash what you perceive as a rival viewpoint, then you can expect to find others insisting (as I do) that you provide compelling evidence back up your assertions.

Solenadon said...

"What if the divine lawgiver decides "Sand is bad. Stay off the sand"? Should we listen? And is this now a moral imperative?"

Perhaps God knows there is quicksand. Perhaps he is simply testing us to see if we will obey a command we do not understand. If God says it, we should listen and obey.


Lets see now...did I say quicksand?
Hmmm...no I didn't.

If this deity of yours says "stay off the sand because its bad" is this now a Moral Imperitave? Yes or No?

"an omniscient, omnipotent and perfect Deity screwing up so monumentally as to create something that COULD FALL (really throws into sharp relief the bogusness of your argument)"

Not really. God, in his wisdom set things up this way. One reason -- freewill. In a reality in which love is the highest value, love which is not freely chosen is bogus. In order to have creatures who would freely love him, he had to set things up so that creatures could truly disobey, truly reject him, truly rebel. And that, my friend is the screw-up.


Wow...what total BS.

Why does this infinite being need us to love it? This is something never revealed in that book of yours. WHY? What was it missing?

And when they do rebel...why is he so pissed off? If he knew it could happen, and as a omnicient being he KNEW it would happen, then it's the height of hypocrisy to be PISSED about it.

And isn't this guy supposed to be in touch with MORAL LAWS? If this being is the filter through which we are to know Morality...well...idiocy.

1. The lawgiver is needed to give the laws.

Is it now? Really? Now your implying that morality is an arbitrary descision of the "lawgiver". And such things are not moral in and of themselves, but only because the "lawgiver" decides arbitrarily that it is.

2. The lawgiver's Spirit is needed to help us interpret these laws.

You have never proved this because you expect me to accept your basic premise. I do not. I can interpret laws using INTELLIGENCE. YOU have to show that a) this spirit actually exists
b) exists in this realm
c) and is actually something that can be trusted to not screw up it's interpretation.

And thats just the start of it.


3. Now that we are fallen, the image of God in us is marred -- we need a lot of help. The lawgiver is needed to re-write these laws in our hearts.

I do not accept the fallen bit. Fallen from what? A messed up creator deity?

As I have been pointing out and what you stubbornly refuse to face is that we have no requirement for an intermediary interpreter, especially when your proposed interpreter has done highly suspect things.


4. The deity is needed to enforce the laws, judge those who disobey, and reward those who follow them. You wouldn't be offended if the lawgiver punished Hitler or a child rapist, would you?

Really? So the only reason to be moral is because of
a) a fear of punishment or
b) being rewarded.

Hmmm. That's not morality.


5. Finally, the deity is required to ensure that, eventually, the rebellion that was unleashed on Earth is one day brought to an end, quashed, stopped. That is why Jesus is coming back, and why it will be catastrophic for many.


The deity is required to sort out what he either short-sightedly allowed to happen; allowed to happen out of ignorance; or just plain allowed to happen even though it had the chance to stop it.

And this is they being you claim we should have as an interpreter of moral laws?

Christians do not say that all things require a creator. They say that the universe requires a Creator because it is finite and was brought into existence. More formally, a logical argument states that, in all of human experience, "anything that begins to exist has a cause". The key word is begins. God did not begin to exist. He is uncaused. He is eternal. That's just one of the many things that makes him God and us, not God.


And of course you have very little logic, or indeed evidence, for this assertion. And since you have none, my question still stands...who or what created this being?

As for the rest of your response...yeesh. Not arbitrary? Who had a pissing contest with Satan over Job? Who arbitrarily allowed innocents in that story to be KILLED, just to test one mans "faith"?

Who hardened Pharaoh's heart?

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart"

Hmmm.

This is the being we're supposed to get moral laws from?

Don't think so.

RkBall said...

"Lets see now...did I say quicksand?
Hmmm...no I didn't."

And neither did God. In fact, He said the opposite. We should build our house (lives) on a rock, not on sand.

Your hypothetical is based on false ideas about God. God is not an arbitrary being. The laws He gives are good because He is good; they flow from His perfect moral character.

"Why does this infinite being need us to love it?"

He doesn't. He is completely self-sufficient and self-fulfilled.

"I do not accept the fallen bit. Fallen from what?"

Fallen from our original creation in the unmarred image of God; fallen from moral perfection and innocence regarding good and evil.

"And since you have none, my question still stands...who or what created this being?"

I've answered this many times. An eternal being outside of the material universe requires no creator.

"Who arbitrarily allowed innocents in that story to be KILLED, just to test one mans "faith"?"

Not arbitrarily.

"Who hardened Pharaoh's heart?"

Yes. Without violating Pharaoh's own will one whit.

The god you portray in your post is a product of your imagination involving mischaracterizations of what the Bible actually teaches; you set up a distorted image of God and then say either "I do not believe in him", or, "I hate him" -- take your pick. This is idolatry, a very harmful, destructive and yet common thing.

You were commenting on fallenness. Idolatry is associated with our fallenness, so if you want evidence of it, look no further than your own thinking regarding God.

The work of the Bible is to take us out of idolatry into the knowledge of the true God.

Thanks for the discussion. If you have anything you would like me to pray about, please let me know.

solenadon said...

"Lets see now...did I say quicksand?
Hmmm...no I didn't."

And neither did God. In fact, He said the opposite. We should build our house (lives) on a rock, not on sand.


I don't care. Answer the question, you poseur. If this deity decided that sand was bad, woudl avoiding it be a moral imperative. Yes or no.

Your hypothetical is based on false ideas about God. God is not an arbitrary being. The laws He gives are good because He is good; they flow from His perfect moral character.


Wow. Your basing your idea on a hypothetical that this deity is NOT an ARBITRARY deity. You are just asserting that this being is good and moral. I have been pointing out instances in your own book where this being is an irrational braggart.

Labelling it as Good and moral inthe face of that is handwaving.

"Why does this infinite being need us to love it?"

He doesn't. He is completely self-sufficient and self-fulfilled.


So, why bother creating anything. You never answered that.


"I do not accept the fallen bit. Fallen from what?"

Fallen from our original creation in the unmarred image of God; fallen from moral perfection and


Again, only in your assertion. You only assert that this hypothetical creation was"perfect". Hell, even the creator called it perfect...a perfect bit of short-sightness in a supposedly perfect being.

As for creation, which story are we to believe...the first creation story of the second on in Genesis? Considering they have contradictory orders of creation, which one is the true one?

"And since you have none, my question still stands...who or what created this being?"

I've answered this many times. An eternal being outside of the material universe requires no creator.


No, you haven't. Your dancing around it. The question stills stand.

"Who arbitrarily allowed innocents in that story to be KILLED, just to test one mans "faith"?"

Not arbitrarily.


NOT ARBITRARY????

They were killed for what reason? Punishment? Nope, they were innocent. They were caught in the middle of a pissing contest and were arbitrarily offed in a test.

Your lack or morals is really showing here.


"Who hardened Pharaoh's heart?"

Yes. Without violating Pharaoh's own will one whit.


Really. His heart wasn't hardened before they deity hardened it. It would seem that Pharaoh, through his own free will, had a soft heart and the deity didn't like that, so Pharaoh's "free will" was violated.


The god you portray in your post is a product of your imagination involving mischaracterizations of what the Bible actually teaches; you set up a distorted image of God and then say either "I do not believe in him", or, "I hate him" -- take your pick. This is idolatry, a very harmful, destructive and yet common thing.


Really? How so? I'm using examples right from the Bible itself.

And you really have to look up idolatry. In no way am I idolizing a book.



You were commenting on fallenness. Idolatry is associated with our fallenness, so if you want evidence of it, look no further than your own thinking regarding God.



Again with the idolatry. And it is my thinking about this deity that got me here today. You will not agree, drunk on the kool-aid that you are, but it is really you that's hiding here, not me.


The work of the Bible is to take us out of idolatry into the knowledge of the true God.

Thanks for the discussion. If you have anything you would like me to pray about, please let me know.


And you are avoiding the problems raised by your own assertions. Why do we need this deity when

a) The deity can act arbitrarily, therefore anything Laws it states can be arbitrary and not based on morality.

b) morality is external to the deity, and we can be moral without recourse to said interpreter who, it must be said, has made questionable descision and done questionable things.

c) there are moral people who act moralwithout recourse to a sky ghost interpreter. Buddists cone to mind.

So far, all you have done is make an unfounded assertion, that atheism somehow cannot lead to morality and that atheists are fools. And you have avoided actual discussion by simply proselytizing and goal post moving.

But I've long since come to expect that.

Anonymous said...

Okay, okay, newcomer here, but I need to step in. Solenadon, you're missing some key things here.

"If this deity of yours says "stay off the sand because its bad" is this now a Moral Imperitave? Yes or No?"

YES. And here's why.

(First of all, keep in mind that YOU suggested "sand" specifically as the hypothetical good-or-not-good subject, so while moral laws regarding sand seem preposterous, it's only being discussed because you chose an inherently trivial point.)

Alright, so yes, if God - no, let's not say God, as that presupposes the Judeo-Christian God, which has a lot of baggage attached - if a Creator theoretically made a universe over which he had complete control, and filled it with little human beings, who is in charge? Who of anyone, if moral laws are indeed created, would be most qualified to make the rules? It would have to be the Creator, simply because he could do anything he is the highest being and therefore the highest authority, and human beings would best be advised to follow his rules.

Now, in this hypothetical situation, those laws COULD be completely arbitrary. The Creator might be a completely jerkass (pardon the vulgarity) individual who killed his human creations left and right - but who are we to complain? He makes the rules, and if we object we very well might end up dead. Now, fortunately, as Rick understands it, the Creator is supposed to be a being that loves his creation, and even though the Old Testament has people dying (Why, by the way, do you think death is a bad hing?) by his hand, it is because he judged that to be what was called for. That's his call, and who are you to question him, if indeed you are just a puny mote of his creation.

I know what your thinking, and I KNOW THIS ALL PRESUPPOSES THAT MORALITY IS CREATED BY A CREATOR. But your question was, to begin with, asking whether a hypothetical creator's will is moral imperAtIve. You posed a hypothetical question, which deserves a hypothetical answer.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"Your basing your idea on a hypothetical that this deity is NOT an ARBITRARY deity. You are just asserting that this being is good and moral. I have been pointing out instances in your own book where this being is an irrational braggart."

Arbitrary? Irrational? By whose standards? Yours? If a deity does exist, whose will calls the shots? Not yours. And who says what he does is "wrong"? You are now the one presupposing. Tell us why anything the Old Testament God does is objectively wrong, then tell us why what the heck "objective wrongness" is. If it isn't objectively wrong, then it must be subjectively wrong - either relative to God or relative to us "theists". In those cases, we can't have a legitimate argument, since we're playing by two different sets of rules.

"So, why bother creating anything [if He doesn't need our love]. You never answered that."

Because a God of infinite power would sensible want to do stuff, and if he's the only thing in existence, then exercising his infinite power would necessarily entail creation - you can't move unless there's space to move through, you can't interact unless there's matter to interact with, you wouldn't speak unless there's somebody to hear you.

Does that answer it for you?

"You only assert that this hypothetical creation was "perfect". Hell, even the creator called it perfect...a perfect bit of short-sightness in a supposedly perfect being.

"As for creation, which story are we to believe...the first creation story of the second on in Genesis? Considering they have contradictory orders of creation, which one is the true one?"

Define perfect, by your standards. If we take a cue from Aristotle, "good", "better", and "perfect" are the degrees to which any given thing fulfills its specific function. Human beings are engines of free will; we do that pretty darn well, if you ask me. The universe... well, what is the function of the universe? If, by Christian standards, it is the temporal setting in which humans can grow and exercise their free will and choose their ultimate fate... it does that quite nicely (could you suggest an alternative BETTER than this world?). The function of Hell is a place apart from Paradise for the damned souls to inhabit. I've never been there, but since I personally can't imagine a fate worse then eternal punishment, the descriptions I've got seem to indicate it fulfills its function perfectly. If you have a different definition of "good" or "perfect", then please let us know.

And I'm SO GLAD you brought up Genesis 1 and 2, since very few people ever give a good explanation of this. I know this probably deserves a topic of its own, but in simple terms, Genesis 1 was written right about the time of the Babylonian captivity, where little Babylonian schoolchildren were taught the Babylonian version of creation, which has many similarities to Gen 1. Somebody born and raised in Babylon would have this as his template for understanding Creation, and so, even though he was a Jew, he told the Jewish creation story in a different sequence, though ultimately maintaining the actual content.

Genesis 2 actually predates Genesis 1, and is a more traditional Jewish telling of the tale. Whether or not either version is a literal transcript of the events of Creation is unknown, but given how ancient Jews knew very little about spacetime, astronomy, and how the world was shaped, we ought to give them a break for explaining it as best they could.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"No, you haven't. Your dancing around it. The question [Who created the Creator?] stills stand."

He did answer it. A cause-and-effect chain either begins or is infinite. On one hand, if it began at some point, there needed to be a first cause to start the chain. If it's the first cause, then nothing caused it. It's an uncaused cause. So, if the universe is that chain of events, the uncaused cause is either within or without the universe. It is logically unsound for the universe to be started within the universe (a baby can't bear itself). So, the cause must exist outside the universe. If the uncaused cause is outside the universe, then the impetus to cause the universe was either chosen (meaning it's a being) or random (meaning it is probably not a being). Random actions are by definition disorderly, though they can possibly create order. Chosen actions require order. While both are arguably possible, what is more likely: that an intelligence chose to create our incredibly ordered universe, or that a completely random force created that universe? Both are arguably possible (or arguably not; want to take it from here, Rick?) but if we're going to bet our lives on it, I'm gonna go with the more likely.

OR, you're probably thinking, THE CHAIN OF CAUSE AND EFFECT EXTENDS INFINITELY INTO THE PAST, and THERE IS NO UNCAUSED CAUSE. If this is the case, then it is absolutely impossible to ever comprehend the scope of the universe. No man or machine could ever explain the universe, because it is too vast to map. But, by the rule that simple things are more likely to occur than complex things (do you debate this?), wouldn't a universe that is infinite be infinitely unlikely?

Whereas, God, by virtue of being a being, is finite. INFINITELY POWERFUL, yes, but by being an individual He is not everything in existence. He may have the power to control absolutely everything in existence, but He doesn't act on the universe in every possible way, so far as we can determine; thus, existence has infinite potential but not infinity manifest. By virtue of being limited, an existence with God (or a Creator, I've forgotten to make that generalization) is more likely than the infinitely unlikely causeless scenario.

This is mostly off-the-cuff, so feel free to criticize it and I'll patch it up where necessary.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"NOT ARBITRARY????

"They were killed for what reason? Punishment? Nope, they were innocent. They were caught in the middle of a pissing contest and were arbitrarily offed in a test.

"Your lack or [sic] morals is really showing here."

Again, more of this dying-is-bad stuff. Look, what yardstick are you using to make these bold judgments of morality and immorality? Yours? Mankind's in general? Some inherent moral code implicit in nature's design (cough, I mean composition [cough, I mean structure (is there no word that doesn't imply causation?!)])?

If yours, then why do you find it so wrong that others can operate by other moral codes? Isn't that prejudiced, assuming your moral code is better than that of the theists (or, supposedly, God)?

If mankind's in general, let me remind you that most of mankind will happily assign moral code to God's handiwork; they're the majority, does that make them right? No? Then why are you using the "right and wrong" part of their morality and not the "morality comes from God" part of their morality?

If some sort of natural morality, then who do we trust to comprehend that natural morality better? You? I don't think so. Me? You don't think so. We each disagree fundamentally as to what it is. Plus, since it would necessarily be an inherent component of nature, and nature is by your estimation randomly here, what good can it really be? I personally don't trust a moral code left here by nobody, and I think you'll have some difficulty selling that to most of the population.

Yeah, I know, I didn't answer your question. But your question presupposes too much. Try rephrasing it, with less of this good-bad stuff.

"Really. His heart wasn't hardened before they deity hardened it. It would seem that Pharaoh, through his own free will, had a soft heart and the deity didn't like that, so Pharaoh's "free will" was violated."

For the purposes of answering your question I'll assume, as you do, that the Bible literally means God acted upon Pharaoh to incline him against freeing the Jews.

Lots of things affect our free will. I might make a choice differently based on what the weather looks like. If Satan tempts me, he is not violating my free will, he is predisposing me to act a certain way, though I may still freely resist it.

Same here; God predisposes the Pharaoh to act a certain way. Why? Because God made a covenant with the Jews - he made lots of covenants with them - and he promised them a land of their own. They wouldn't get that unless they left Egypt. Would Pharaoh have let them leave without the heart-hardening? Perhaps. We don't know what would've happened in that case, but it certainly would've been easier for Moses. As it happens, though, it was very tough for poor Moses to rally the Jews and ultimately convince Pharaoh to let them go. This difficulty was a sort of crucible for Moses' moral character, and he passed with flying colors. Would he have been the same super-fly prophet if things had been different? We will never know.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"Really? How so [concerning idolatry]? I'm using examples right from the Bible itself.

And you really have to look up idolatry. In no way am I idolizing a book."

While I disagree with the conclusions you draw from the good book, I have to question Rick's use of "idolatry" here. Don't worry, doesn't make sense to me either.

"Again with the idolatry. And it is my thinking about this deity that got me here today. You will not agree, drunk on the kool-aid that you are, but it is really you that's hiding here, not me."

This isn't an argument, this is vituperation. Bad dog.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"And you are avoiding the problems raised by your own assertions. Why do we need this deity when[...]

"a) The deity can act arbitrarily, therefore anything Laws it states can be arbitrary and not based on morality.

"b) morality is external to the deity, and we can be moral without recourse to said interpreter who, it must be said, has made questionable descision and done questionable things.

"c) there are moral people who act moralwithout recourse to a sky ghost interpreter. Buddists cone to mind."

A. Again, an immoral god is an oxymoron. A god is the supreme moral arbiter in a monotheistic reality. Maybe if he really was arbitrary when it came to OUR rules, I'd concede some fault with the idea. But the only rules the Judeo-Christian God sets for Himself are his covenants, all of which he fulfills. If you have another god, gods, or divinity in mind, let me know.

B. Now you're making unproven assertions. Since when is morality "exterior" to God? And again, you may question God's actions, but you cannot impugn him - if you do, then by whose morality are you judging him?

C. Okay, sorry, gotta clean this up: "who act moralLY_without" and "BuddHists coMe".

There are two possible answers to this.

FIRST: people act morally all the time, but show me one who did so without guidance. You, sir, and everybody else, were born and raised in a society with culture, laws, and norms that are DEFINED by Christian and Neo-Platonic concepts of goodness, justice, etc. You wouldn't have that little spark of indignation in your gut right now if it weren't for the years and years you've spent being told what's right and wrong. We all believe in good or evil, or if you don't use such terms, value, because the nice men in cassocks went to barbarian Northern Europe and war-torn Asia and inhospitable North Africa and taught in some measure that God wants us to act one way and not another. So, you product of your environment, don't cast your moral and ethical judgments without tipping your hat to the ones that made you that way.

And SECOND: look at Rick's initial argument. He argues that while it is preposterous for an atheist to ascribe a natural morality to the universe, there is indeed objective morality in the world - by his logic, created by God. Something objective doesn't NEED to be taught; indeed, in most cases, someone has to stumble upon it on his own first. But since so many people seem to have trouble with the whole morality thing, I'm sure glad that we do have our most Holy Sky Ghost Interpreter and his Handbook to help us out.

The second is nicer.

CONTINUED...

Anonymous said...

"So far, all you have done is make an unfounded assertion, that atheism somehow cannot lead to morality and that atheists are fools. And you have avoided actual discussion by simply proselytizing and goal post moving."

Let's be honest: the unfounded assertion card has been played by both sides. The purpose of discussion is to point out what is left to be answered and then answer it. So far, Rick has done an admirable job of answering all your questions, but for some reason - I dare not speculate what - you've decided that they aren't quite explicit enough. That's understandable, since when you have two wildly different worldviews it's easy to forget that what I might take as a given you might think unfounded, and vice versa. Lore has been pretty darn good at addressing this, you aren't quite. I don't say this as an insult.

And he hasn't moved any goal-posts; from the beginning the direction of his claim has remained the same: logic is an inherent, immaterial trait of the universe, does not depend on the existence of humans. The discussion that followed led to many, many tangents, including the whole issue of morality (you, I think, have been the main proponent of this issue, though I do believe it ties in with the initial conversation in many ways). So give him some slack, use a little less derision and a little more cross-examination.

I'm done. Fire away!

RkBall said...

Hi Anon,

Happy Palm Sunday! We are heading to an Orthodox church this morning for some traditional, formal worship.

You used some creative arguments, which I appreciated. Will have to read through them again!

Please post again with some kind of identifier or "handle" so I will be able to distinguish you from all the other Anons.

Thanks.

Giancarlo said...

Hullo, Rick.

Happy Palm Sunday yourself! I'm personally more of the Papist persuasion, though I hope that won't get in the way of our getting along!

Ah! My bad, in splitting up my gigantic response I forgot to affix a handle. There we go.

Thank you!

RkBall said...

Hi Giancarlo,

Thanks for pointing out my unclear use of the word idolatry. I was using it in the sense of a false conception of God. I think when John says to the church, "beloved, keep yourselves from idols", he is getting pretty close to this sense. A God of our fallen or twisted imagination, rather than the true God. We are all prone to idolatry -- especially atheists who practically rely on strawmen caricatures to assist their argument and to avoid facing the God who was present in Jesus Christ.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"