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Absurd Theologians and Atheists
Posted: 06 June 2008 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 706 ]  
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Well,  It is time to admit that I am banging my head against a wall.

Silenus does not want to understand or to communicate.  He wants to play Gotcha.


Should I just keep reiterating the points that he has, yet again, failed to understand?  I really don’t see the point. 

I would, however, like to respond to the claim that I am contradicting myself.  I did say that I was working on an argument that gives Silenus everything he wants and that, nonetheless, proves my point that The Divine Character Theory entails that morality is arbitrary.  All of the arguments over the past few weeks have been a side issue to the main point.  Silenus and I have been arguing about possibility and necessity.  The reason I have been inclined to continue the conversation is that his understanding of these notions is woefully inadequate.  I thought that it would be possible to at least reach a consensus on what these words mean and that thus reached, this consensus could lead to a recognition that the points that Silenus continues to make about God’s being necessary or that His character traits are necessary are entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand (which is, again, that the DChT entails that morality is arbitrary).

Now, I tried to produce this argument by speaking in a perfectly typical manner about necessity and possibility.  And I described a scenario that I deemed (and still maintain) is possible; namely the scenario in which Hewhay exists.  Silenus seems to think that I have to come up with some kind of an explanation for how this scenario could be actual.  But, once again, I will reiterate that the scenario is only a possibility, not the actuality.  It is the fact that it is a possibility that matters, and it is this fact alone that matters.  And, importantly, this scenario is one in which Yahweh does not exist.  Now, by describing a scenario in which Yahweh does not exist, I am not violating our assumption that Yahweh does exist.  Because, as I have continued to reiterate, the assumption that Yahweh does exist is the assumption that Yahweh exists in the actual world.  But this assumption does not imply that there are not possible worlds in which Yahweh does not exist.  I maintain that there are such worlds.  Since these worlds are only possible and not actual, I do not have to explain how they could be actual.  To suggest that I do, as Silenus has done twice now, is to miss the point.

All of this discussion was intended to correct some rather pernicious errors in Silenus’ understanding of necessity and possibility.  It was only tangentially related to the over-arching point about arbitrariness.  I have been careful (at least I have tried to be) to suggest only that if God is necessary, then we MIGHT have a response to the Euthyphro Dilemma.  I never said (at least I never intentionally said) that if God is necessary that we have defeated the Euthyphro argument.  If I made that impression, than it was an error on my part.  Again, I have been trying to correct Silenus’ misunderstandings about possibility so as to demonstrate that, in my view, all his hemming and hawing about God’s nature and His necessity are really beside the point.  But in order to show this, and have a productive argument, we have to agree about what the words ‘necessary’ and ‘possible’ mean and what these meanings imply. Once there, we can turn to the very interesting question of whether any of that stuff about necessity really matters. Alas, I have failed to make an impression on him and so I think the thing to do is to quit this tack.

I readily admit that I have not devoted the kind of time to this discussion that might be necessary for it to be more fruitful.  But, nor, I suspect, has Silenus.  I wish I knew why Silenus continues to come back to the thread even after periods of long absence.

In any event, let me reiterate the main point about arbitrariness, and hopefully show that it in no way depends on possibility.

First off, Silenus is wrong.  The Euthyprho Dilemma unequivocably demonstrates that the “morality” that stems from the Divine Character Theory is arbitrary.  Why?  Here it is, one last time:

There is no particular reason why God’s character is the way it is.  Period.  It does not matter whether God’s character could have been other than it is or whether it is a necessary feature of Him.  There is no reason why His character is the way it is. At least there is no MORAL reason.  Why?  Well, because, by definition, God’s character is logically prior to moral properties.  Morality is logically constrained by God’s character, not the other way around.

Even if God’s existence is necessary, which it is not, and even if His character traits are necessary features of Him (which they are not) and even if God never changes (which would contradict the core teaching of Christianity that God became flesh; a point I earlier made and to which I don’t think Silenus responded) it still remains the case that there is no moral reason for why His character is the way it is. 

Now, to say that something is arbitrary, in the relevant sense, is just to say that there is no particular reason for it.  And, there is no particular reason for why God’s character is the way it is.  If Silenus disagrees with this, I invite him to offer a reason.  Thus, God’s character is arbitrary.

But if His character is arbitrary, then any alleged moral constraints that flow from His character are, for the same reason, also arbitrary.  So, on the Divine Character Theory, morality is arbitrary.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 06 June 2008 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 707 ]  
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silenus - 06 June 2008 12:39 PM

However, you are saying that Heyday is a possibility, given Yahweh’s existence.  I ask you to provide me a scenario where, given Yahweh’s actual existence, heyday is still possible, and you choke under the demand.  It doesn’t matter whether we say they both exist together together or not.  I say again As you have previously admitted, Yahweh’s existence is assumed under the conditions of the discussion, I have no need to provide a scenario unless you are proposing changing the discussion.
You are trying to assert that it is still possible, even with Yahweh as an existing entity, that heyday could have existed . . . you say, these are your exact words,

We are imagining an alternate scenario in which creation would have been very different than it is in the universe that includes Yahweh.  So, Yahweh did not and does not create or realize or have anything to do with Heyday’s possible world.

“you are imagining an alternate scenario”  So, please, share with me the alternate scenario that, given Yahweh, heyday is possible.  You said you imagined a possible scenario, share the scenario.  Otherwise, I still have no reason to think of something I am imagining, heyday, as possible within the parameters of this discussion.  How, if we assume an entity that is eternal, and therefore, without origin and without change, could this other being have a chance at existence?  How would he have a chance to get off the ground?

Very simple.  This entity that is eternal blah blah blah does not exist and another entity (named Hewhay) does exist.

Again, because I know what you are going to say, I am most assuredly not contradicting the guiding assumption that Yahweh exists.  To say that Yahweh exists is just to say the He is actual.

Now, for the last time:

To say that a being actually exists is not to say that it exists in every possible world.  Thus, even if we grant that a being is actual, this does NOT imply that there aren’t other possible worlds in which this being does not exist.

***Please read that bold sentence again, and then read it again, and then read it once more, and then, if you still think I am wrong, please write a PM back to me indicating that you do not understand my point but that you would really like to and then I will try to think of another way to make my point.  And then read the sentence again. 

When I describe a possible world in which Yahweh does not exist, I am NOT describing the actual world.  So there is no contradiction in saying (1) Yahweh exists in the actual world and (2) Yahweh does not exist in some other (non-actual) possible world.

Thus, when I describe a world in which Hewhay exists, I am not contradicting our assumption that Yahweh exists in the actual world.  I am only reiterating the point that you need to prove that Yahweh exists in every possible world.  And once again, this remains something that you have not even tried to do.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 06 June 2008 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 708 ]  
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Oops. I accidentally hit the edit button instead of the quote button.  And I lost Silenus’s most recent post.  The above is my response to his now deleted (accidentally) post.  My apologies, Silenus

Apparently, I shouldn’t be trusted with Moderator powers.

*EDIT UPDATE*

So as to avoid the confusion of having one of my posts be listed under Silenus’ name, I have deleted the post and reposted it myself.  It now appears below.  The post immediately above this one is my own. 

Unfortunately Silenus’ post is now gone for good, as far as I am able to determine. I feel very bad about that and again wish to express my apologies.  I will endeavor to be more careful.  I hope Silenus has the time and patience to repost the gist of what he was saying.

[ Edited: 06 June 2008 09:19 PM by waltercat]
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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 06 June 2008 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 709 ]  
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Should I just keep reiterating the points that he has, yet again, failed to understand?  I really don’t see the point.

aAlso, as Fletch quoted you as saying earlier

Now we can just assume that God is necessary.  That would serve to block the Euthyphro dilemma.

You just said that would serve to block the dilemma.  Are you now denying that statement?  Maybe Fletch misquoted you . . . did he?

No, that is what I said, but if you read the entirety of my most recent post, you would see that I admitted that I might have misspoken at times.  This is one of those times.  I should have said, that it *might* serve to block the dilemma.  At the very least, if we could demonstrate that God is necessary, we could have the very useful discussion of whether that would block the dilemma. For the record, my considered opinion is that it would not. 

But again, I do admit that I left the wrong impression with that comment.  A symptom of the fact that I have not been devoting enough time to this forum. 

And also for the record:

Necessity is fairly easily explicable.  To say that a being is a necessary being is to say that it exists in every possible world.  Possessing Eternality, being the ground of being, etc. do not entail that a being exists in all possible worlds.

So, let me restate the challenge:  Prove that Yahweh exists in all possible worlds.

For something to be metaphysically possible (because epistemological possibility is, as has been shown before, outside of the realm of discussion) it must have the ability or had the ability to become actual.

What would make you think this.  This is not a matter of my missing the point.  You are putting forward a genuine (and controversial) metaphysical claim here.  And I would like to see you support it. 

it must be able to become actual if things had been different.

Well, that’s kind of a misuse of the term ‘actual.’  The actual is not counterfactual.  The actual is the actual, at least on my understanding.  So it doesn’t really make sense to speak of what would have been actual had things been different.  When we want to speak of what would have been, we are speaking of the possible, not the actual. 

If something can never become actual it is not metaphysically possible.

Again, please provide argumentation for this thesis.

Are you saying something is a metaphysical possibility if it never had a chance of actually being?  That is an obvious absurdity.

Well, its not obvious to me.  Again, insert argument here.

Again, God not changing would not contradict at all the core teachings of Christianity, and if you think so, your philosophical education obviously didn’t include the history of Christian theology.  And if it did, ask for your money back.  I would be more than willing to clear up how the incarnation fits with the concept of the Godhead

Nice boast.  I am sure you cannot deliver.

we have to assume yahway is real, so how is it possible for him to be not real in some other universe when the universe itself is contingent on Him.

What about this is so hard to understand??  In a possible world in which Yahweh does not exist, the universe of this world would not be contingent upon Him. 

Its not an issue of whether it does or does not exist, its an issue of, given the facts of existence we know, could this state have obtained . . . was there a chance.

This is most certainly NOT the case.  If it were the case, then it would make no sense to speak of the possibility that Franklin did not invent bifocals.  It is a fact that Franklin invented bifocals (in the actual world) and given that fact nobody else did it.  But nonetheless, there are possible worlds in which Franklin did not invent bifocals.

But I will not allow you to pretend you are staying within the confines of the discussion when you are not.

I am not pretending anything.  You do not understand necessity and possibility.  You are putting forward very unorthodox views about what is required for something to be possible and you are not backing any of them up with argument.  I will listen to your arguments.  But until we have the arguments, I will not allow you to pretend to know what you are talking about.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 08 June 2008 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 710 ]  
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This post represents a new effort on my part, a new tack.  I am testing this idea, maybe it is not well-founded; we’ll see.

Silenus,

I would like to know your reaction to the following statements.  Do you think that they are true? Meaningful?  Nonsense?  Ill-founded? Any other thought about them?

Here they are:

(1)  If God did not exist, then there would be no objective moral truths.

(2)  If God’s nature were such that he approved of rape, then rape would be morally acceptable.


I’ll put them in the present tense just to cover some bases (does anything ride on the use of the present rather than the subjunctive?):

(1a)  If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral truths.

(2a)  If God’s nature is such that He approves of rape, then rape is morally acceptable.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 23 June 2008 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 711 ]  
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This is most certainly NOT the case.  If it were the case, then it would make no sense to speak of the possibility that Franklin did not invent bifocals.  It is a fact that Franklin invented bifocals (in the actual world) and given that fact nobody else did it.  But nonetheless, there are possible worlds in which Franklin did not invent bifocals.

This quote shows that you did not catch my meaning.  Perhaps you missed my use of both past and present tense verbs.  My definition in no way disqualifies the aforementioned possible world.  I said, that for something to be possible, it must have or have had the ability to exist.  To be possible it could have happened, can happen, or will have the ability to happen.  This is actually a fairly common definition that can be found in the dictionary.

Definition one of dictionary.com defines it as “that may or can be, exist, happen, be done, be used, etc.: a disease with no possible cure.”  So, by that source, my usage is standard and common. 

Definition two of that source is obviously an epistemological concern, and outside of the scope of argument. It reads, “that may be true or may be the case, as something concerning which one has no knowledge to the contrary: It is possible that he has already gone.”

So, my use of the word possible is far from unique.  Merriam Webster’s reads very similarly except the definition I am using, which is most appropriate to a discussion with an established ontological assumption, is 2a which reads, “2 a: being something that may or may not occur <a >”

I like the other definition, however, because it highlights potentiality to be in the past, present, and future.

Now, again, with the assumption of Yahwey’s existence, there is no way that I can see that heyday could have, can, or will exist so I have no reason to think of this imagined being as having possibility ontologically. 

Now, to anticipate any possible ways that this might not be satisfying, since you asserted yet again that my use of a common dictionary understanding is strange, I tried to anticipate if there is any philosophical underpinning or debate or specialized definition that you might be using that is not the same as the common use.  The only thing I could think of was the possible world’s theory, based on model logic expressed recently by such peoples as David Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, and Saul Kripke.  I have not read much if any of the original documents of these writers and would need schooling on their beliefs, the little I know is from second hand reading.  I think what they find as necessary for all possible worlds would be something like logic because they would claim that I can’t imagine a possible world without logic.  I’m not sure if this is true, I can definitely imagine a world where language fluctuations or beliefs about language are to such a degree that a married bachelor could exist at the same time and the same moment.  It would probably be a chaotic and rigged society to say the least, but I can imagine it.  We can call it Derrida’s paradise if you like.  What I do know from what little I read is these theories are criticized because of their lack of ontology, or at least some of them are.  In any event, I’m not sure how these theory impact our discussion, their theories take place without ontological assumptions.

The other thing I noted from my readings is David Lewis, in “counterfactuals” speaks of possible worlds as ways things could have been, which is in line with my thinking on the subject.

In light of all this, I’ll ask you to show me how my understanding of possible worlds is strange.


I’m not sure how your two questions represent a new tack in the discussion because they have been asked and answered already . . . but whatever . . . I’ll answer them again . . .

(1a) If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral truths.

As of now, although I didn’t always think this, yes I would agree.  The fact that you have yet to provide any basis for an objective moral truth in this long discussion verifies that my new thinking may be correct.  Please remember that there is a thread of argument here that I had the last word on before you moved onto to something else.  Please do not bring it back up unless you also pick it up where we left off.

(2a) If God’s nature is such that He approves of rape, then rape is morally acceptable.

Are we dealing with humans as we know them with the moral intuitions we are accustomed to seeing?

Again, I’m having trouble seeing how this has anything to do with how you have defined objective morality.  Once yahwey exists and creates, morality is objective in the manner in which you defined it.  It is not up to anyone’s opinion and it applies to everyone.

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Posted: 27 June 2008 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 712 ]  
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LOL DEAR Sam, I just finished reading your book,‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION”. I intend to write a rebutal book. It shall be called “a letter to a Sam Harris. My library is full of christian books, and worth every cent I paid for them. E t first I thought well you just wasted your money to an atheist. I couldn’t of been more wrong. Your book was worth every pennny. It is a farce. It is way out there in the ozone.It is a comedy. I laughed thrrough the whole thing. I’m an avid reader, so I read it in one sitting. I swear, it was so funny , I could not put it down. When I get some free time, I will let you know WHY it is so funny. Until that time, all I can say is ,“thanks for the laughs Sam”. And God bless you. Connie Carty.

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Posted: 27 June 2008 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 713 ]  
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bgr788 - 27 June 2008 03:38 PM

LOL DEAR Sam, I just finished reading your book,‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION”. I intend to write a rebutal book. It shall be called “a letter to a Sam Harris. My library is full of christian books, and worth every cent I paid for them. E t first I thought well you just wasted your money to an atheist. I couldn’t of been more wrong. Your book was worth every pennny. It is a farce. It is way out there in the ozone.It is a comedy. I laughed thrrough the whole thing. I’m an avid reader, so I read it in one sitting. I swear, it was so funny , I could not put it down. When I get some free time, I will let you know WHY it is so funny. Until that time, all I can say is ,“thanks for the laughs Sam”. And God bless you. Connie Carty.

You may be an avid reader Connie but no one here will accuse you of being an avid speller.
If your brain is as barren of content as your post suggests I don’t think Sam will be all that worried about your planned rebuttal.

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“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

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Posted: 28 June 2008 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 714 ]  
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silenus - 23 June 2008 01:53 PM

(1a) If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral truths.

As of now, although I didn’t always think this, yes I would agree.

I am going to take this as a yes.  This means that you believe that (1a) is true.

But how can it be true?  On your account, it is impossible for God not to exist. 

You have expressed so much skepticism about

(2a) If God’s nature is such that He approves of rape, then rape is morally acceptable.

And I have inferred that you object to (2a) because it is impossible for God’s nature to be other than it is.

Well, if you object to (2a) you need to object to (1a) for precisely the same reasons.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 17 October 2008 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 715 ]  
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sigh

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 27 November 2008 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 716 ]  
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I decided, much out of curiosity to venture back to the site that has sucked many hours out of me.  Watercat, I was wondering if you could address your last point with some more detail, that is if you are still around?  I believe Silenus objects to the premise that rape could ever be acceptable because Christ’s nature disapproves of rape.  If Christ’s nature disapproves of rape than it is morally wrong and will always be morally wrong.  God’s character will always be what it is and always has been what it is.  This is why the question, “What makes God’s character what it is?” mute.  Something that is arbitrary must be something that is finite or changable, God is neither one of those things. Therefore (2A) is explained. Pertaining to (1a) there is a difference (1a) doesn’t presupposes God where (2A) does.  In fact (1a) presupposes the exact opposite.  Considering this is the case can you explain your line of reasoning from your following statement:

Well, if you object to (2a) you need to object to (1a) for precisely the same reasons.

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Posted: 04 December 2008 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 717 ]  
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Neither (1a) nor (2a) presuppose the existence of God.  Consider:

(3a) If the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s nature is such that he despises Chow mein, then eating Chow mein is morally wrong.

If morality depends on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, then (3a) is true.  And it is true even if the FSM does not exist.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 05 December 2008 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 718 ]  
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(2a) If God’s nature is such that He approves of rape, then rape is morally acceptable.

Objection by Silenus: It is impossible for God’s nature to be other than it is.

(1a) If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral truths.

Objection by Silenus: It is impossible for God’s nature to be other than it is. (This is what it would look like according to your quote below).

Waltercat:
well, if you object to (2a) you need to object to (1a) for precisely the same reasons.

(1a) and (2a) have two different presuppositions.  You stated that none of the claims presuppose God but 2a presupposes God, as shown in bold, where 1a presupposes the non-existence of God, as shown in bold.  Again, why would Silenus need to respond the same way when the presuppositions are at an antithesis to one another?  (1a) doesn’t need a similar response as (2a).

[ Edited: 05 December 2008 02:06 PM by fletch_F_Fletch]
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Posted: 05 December 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 719 ]  
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Fletch,

I don’t know what you mean by “presupposes.”  A conditional statement can be true (in fact is trivially true) even when the antecedent is false.  Thus no conditional presupposes that its antecedent is true.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 05 December 2008 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 720 ]  
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I don’t know what you mean by “presupposes.”

When I say presuppose I’m referring to the giving of a first principal that, for the sake of the argument, doesn’t need a justification.  For instance when you state,

If God’s nature is such that He approves of rape, then rape is morally acceptable

In this statement you are presupposing God to justify the claim that God’s nature of approving rape would make rape morally acceptable.  Of course by presupposing something doesn’t make one believe that it is true. 

Jefe-

Because Silenus presupposes the existence of god and then projects onto god this inability to be antithetical to it(s) nature - a nature, I might add, that is subjective at best.

Why?

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