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A Word to Mr. Harris and those who hold similar views:
Posted: 03 August 2007 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 361 ]  
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I see in the news this morning that an Arkansas couple just had their 17th child, and are ‘looking forward to more.’  I forget the dollar figure that it takes to raise a child in the U.S. these days, including a college education, healthcare, etc. but mulitply whatever-it-is by 17 and pass the hat for this happy couple.  No, pass the wheelbarrow.  No, pass the Brinx truck.  In the photo, the mother looked bright and cheerful and seems serious about starting on the next one.

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Posted: 03 August 2007 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 362 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]
An omniscient God would know that pain (as well as all human pain in its full intensity) as an immediate present experience.  There is no question of “well, I’ve had enough of this, time to turn it off and go back to bliss.”  The entire argument that Ted gives, and as you interpret it, revolves around a false understanding of what omniscience means.  The medieval scholastics worked this out in detail in what they called sciencia dei (the knowledge of God): everything in full intensity, all at once, all the past, all the possible futures, without mediation.

So you’re saying that God—the supposedly Supreme Omnibenevolent Being (how’s that for an acronym) who exists eternally in a state of complete and utter joy and bliss—would have had experience with ‘pain’ and evil? Where would he get that experience from? What in the whole of his perfect existence would even lead him to feel a moment of it, much less whip up a large batch of it for the purposes of intentionally passing it on to all his children, and even his own angels? As a father, how could a Perfect God perpetuate the miseries which he 1) has the power to exclude, and 2) has deemed destructive to souls?  Does not compute, burt.

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Posted: 04 August 2007 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 363 ]  
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Burt Wrote:

Unfortunately, Ted’s argument fails—the appeal to logic is the problem. At best, it counts against only very trivial conceptions of God.

I think that’s Ted’s whole point.  The God of the Bible IS a trivial conception of God.  If ever the source of life is to be discovered, it will not be confined to the definition provided in the Bible.  I don’t see that Ted’s argument proves that there is NO God; it proves that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist.

One form of response could come out of considering animal suffering, for animals that are not self-conscious. We humans have an ego-identity that suffers, but that also acts as a buffer against suffering (at the very least, it can tell itself that it is suffering for some cause or other and so mute it a bit). Animals without self-consciousness don’t have that. When they are in pain, there is simply the presence of pain. An omniscient God would know that pain (as well as all human pain in its full intensity) as an immediate present experience. There is no question of “well, I’ve had enough of this, time to turn it off and go back to bliss.” The entire argument that Ted gives, and as you interpret it, revolves around a false understanding of what omniscience means. The medieval scholastics worked this out in detail in what they called sciencia dei (the knowledge of God): everything in full intensity, all at once, all the past, all the possible futures, without mediation.

Your whole argument here is based on the assumption that pain and suffering are synonymous.  They’re not.  While pain can be experienced throughout the animal kingdom, suffering may be a wholly human experience, and that is one of the points Ted’s arguments makes.  God may be able to experience pain, but since there is no intensity of fear attached to it, he can not understand suffering to the same extent that humans do.

In the end, your argument here merely serves to point out that the God of the Bible, if he were to exist, lives on the same level of awareness as an animal. 

Looks like the medieval scholastics missed a few of the details.  The mediation continues ...

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Posted: 04 August 2007 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 364 ]  
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[quote author=“VicM”]...you stated that evolution is a fact. It is not.

Actually, it is. But this is irrelevant. This is nothing more than the same tired ass fallacy that’s been vomited out by believers since evolution was identified - that being the equation of atheism and evolution. All you have to do realize the idiocy of this straw man is simply realize that atheists were around long before evolution was conceptualized.

And the fact that there are atheists, few though they may be, who do NOT acknowledge evolution as a fact.

And those Christians who are back-peddling on this issue are weak in their belief in the word of God.

No. They’ve simply realized that there’s no reason a god and evolution cannot coexist.

God created all things as they presently are. In six literal days. Just as the Bible records it.

You are insane.

The branch of “science” that deals with these questions is not real science at all. It is pseudo-science, nothing more.

The irony laughs for itself.

Men are men, apes are apes, fish are fish, birds are birds, dogs are dogs, cats are cats, etc. What this “science” heavily relies on speculating. Nothing in this arena can be duplicated in a science laboratory and observed, which is what real science is about. These “scientists” find a couple of bones, and what do they do, in the figment of their imagination, create a whole new belief system, designed to deny the existence of God, to give credence to that belief system. That is what is happening. And all of you people who have bought the lie, are it’s sheep.

Well, it’s like she always says, “If I misunderstood evolution the way christains do, I wouldn’t believe it either.”

Everything has design…

I don’t suppose it would do any good to point out that if this is the case, your god was designed… by whom or what?

Enter woefully inadequate special pleading.

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Posted: 04 August 2007 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 365 ]  
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Jack Huberman, in his intro to “The Quotable Atheist”, says it better than I can:

“We should view willful ignoarnace and stupidity as—I almost said a “sin”; call it an offense against life. And to my mind, to fail to learn about and feel reverence for what science has discovered—to refuse to see in teh 100-trillion-mile, 100-billion-galaxy extent of the observable universe, the strange-beyond-comprehension subatomic universe, and the possibility of other universes (separate God for each or same one for all?)—to refuse to recognize there the proper objects of our religious attention, if you will, and instead continue to hold barbaric tribal myths as sacred—I call that willful ignorance and stupdity. I call it unpardonable ingratitude toward the generations of scientists over the centuries who have labored to discover, bit by painstaking bit, real, verifiable knowledge about the world we live in; actual, precious facts that have not only made our lives longer, healthier, safer, and more pleasant, but are in and of themselves worthy of profound respect, if not, as I said, reverence.”

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Posted: 04 August 2007 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 366 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“burt”]The medieval scholastics worked this out in detail in what they called sciencia dei (the knowledge of God): everything in full intensity, all at once, all the past, all the possible futures, without mediation.

oooh. yeah. they totally worked it out. fer shur. they had proofs.

As if all that is actually supposed to mean something. Besides a pipe dream, that is.

Actually, if you read the first (historical part) of Hedegger’s book The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic  he gives a good history of the way that the work of these medieval scholastics motivated the advances in logic that occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as people tried to see how close human cognition could come to this “knowledge of God.”  The scholastics set the bar pretty high, too.  So don’t fall too far into the “error of scholars.”

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Posted: 04 August 2007 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 367 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”][quote author=“burt”]
An omniscient God would know that pain (as well as all human pain in its full intensity) as an immediate present experience.  There is no question of “well, I’ve had enough of this, time to turn it off and go back to bliss.”  The entire argument that Ted gives, and as you interpret it, revolves around a false understanding of what omniscience means.  The medieval scholastics worked this out in detail in what they called sciencia dei (the knowledge of God): everything in full intensity, all at once, all the past, all the possible futures, without mediation.

So you’re saying that God—the supposedly Supreme Omnibenevolent Being (how’s that for an acronym) who exists eternally in a state of complete and utter joy and bliss—would have had experience with ‘pain’ and evil? Where would he get that experience from? What in the whole of his perfect existence would even lead him to feel a moment of it, much less whip up a large batch of it for the purposes of intentionally passing it on to all his children, and even his own angels? As a father, how could a Perfect God perpetuate the miseries which he 1) has the power to exclude, and 2) has deemed destructive to souls?  Does not compute, burt.

Well, first off I’m just criticizing a poor argument.  The catch here is the supposition that an omnipotent, omniscient, etc., deity would have human traits like wanting to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  Or would even “want” anything.  If God “knows even the sparrow’s fall” (if I got that line right), then the implication is that God (avoiding the gender projection of he) has immediate cognizance of everything that was, is, will, or possibly ever could be; in all its bliss or pain.  That’s the immanence part of things.  To assume that God is off somewhere in a blissful heaven without being immediate in the world is to latch on only to the transcendent part, and a pretty poor version of that at best. 

Of course, the various religions all make these sorts of anthropomorphic projections and most theologians do as well.  The people who get it right don’t talk about God all that much, they have better things to do.  (“If the moon faced one has time to spare, drink gloriously deep/for brutal time will strike you down with never a warning yell.” Omar Khayyam)

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Posted: 04 August 2007 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 368 ]  
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[quote author=“Rasmussen”]Burt Wrote:

Unfortunately, Ted’s argument fails—the appeal to logic is the problem. At best, it counts against only very trivial conceptions of God.

I think that’s Ted’s whole point.  The God of the Bible IS a trivial conception of God.  If ever the source of life is to be discovered, it will not be confined to the definition provided in the Bible.  I don’t see that Ted’s argument proves that there is NO God; it proves that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist.

One form of response could come out of considering animal suffering, for animals that are not self-conscious. We humans have an ego-identity that suffers, but that also acts as a buffer against suffering (at the very least, it can tell itself that it is suffering for some cause or other and so mute it a bit). Animals without self-consciousness don’t have that. When they are in pain, there is simply the presence of pain. An omniscient God would know that pain (as well as all human pain in its full intensity) as an immediate present experience. There is no question of “well, I’ve had enough of this, time to turn it off and go back to bliss.” The entire argument that Ted gives, and as you interpret it, revolves around a false understanding of what omniscience means. The medieval scholastics worked this out in detail in what they called sciencia dei (the knowledge of God): everything in full intensity, all at once, all the past, all the possible futures, without mediation.

Your whole argument here is based on the assumption that pain and suffering are synonymous.  They’re not.  While pain can be experienced throughout the animal kingdom, suffering may be a wholly human experience, and that is one of the points Ted’s arguments makes.  God may be able to experience pain, but since there is no intensity of fear attached to it, he can not understand suffering to the same extent that humans do.

In the end, your argument here merely serves to point out that the God of the Bible, if he were to exist, lives on the same level of awareness as an animal. 

Looks like the medieval scholastics missed a few of the details.  The mediation continues ...

See my reply to Mia.

I’m not disputing that the picture of the biblical God is pretty poor (although, perhaps a bit better than Zeus).  But even with the distinction of pain and suffering, a God who is truly omniscient will experience the suffering as well as the pain. 

The question that comes up, however, is the extent to which it is proper (from a spiritual rather than a religious point of view) to criticize another person’s conception of God (or, in the case of atheists, non-conception).  The internal idea that somebody has of God acts as an organizing center for much of their life and people will react very defensively if that is attacked.  If a person is spewing dogma that causes social damage then it seems to me correct to oppose it, but best to do so in ways that don’t alienate believers, unless you are looking for converts yourself and want to start a fight.  Otherwise, it is usually a bad idea to tell somebody that they are stupid, ignorant, and their god is on par with the tooth fairy, even if you believe this true.  Better, from an operational perspective, is to try and improve their conception of God, and lead them to understand the significance of religious freedom.

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Posted: 04 August 2007 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 369 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Better, from an operational perspective, is to try and improve their conception of God, and lead them to understand the significance of religious freedom.

I can’t manage it. Anyone’s conception of god is a lot like a quotient whose numerator is god and whose denominator is self. Self is said to vanish when consciousness of a real, rather than imaginary, god is present (assuming self is real), which is why self cannot serve as the numerator; in the latter case the result is trivial, unless god also vanishes, in which case calculus is called for to work out the result. The best you can do to make sense of it is to have a finite real-valued god with a vanishing imaginary-valued self, in which case you get some complex sort of infinite bliss. If the expression yielding god blows up into some sort of infinity, and self vanishes, you still have to use calculus to see what the quotient works out to be. In the best of all possible worlds (the one we have) both (real) self and (real) god remain finite approaching consciousness of god, and you get the trivial result yielded by the medieval scholastics, which just works out to a hard day at the office. Or else, I guess you could have an infinite imaginary god and a non-vanishing real self, which again yields a comfortable infinite bliss (complex), with no messy need for calculus, just some complex algebra.

That last is my version. God is infinite, certainly. Just an infinite amount of nonsense one can know about nothing. It certainly gives one a heady sort of bliss, and no threat of a vanishing self (at least for the time being). My conjecture that self is real-valued and god is pure imaginary is not yet proven, but I still get the benefit of a very complex bliss, which is all that really counts. The problem of a complex infinite or finite god and complex infinite or imaginary self is left as an exercise for the reader.

rolleyes

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Posted: 05 August 2007 01:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 370 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”] God is infinite, certainly. Just an infinite amount of nonsense one can know about nothing. It certainly gives one a heady sort of bliss, and no threat of a vanishing self (at least for the time being). My conjecture that self is real-valued and god is pure imaginary is not yet proven, but I still get the benefit of a very complex bliss, which is all that really counts.

Haven’t you put yourself in the same category that you have created for theists -  the “feel good” box? 

Your propostion of a quotient analogy to explain the relationship between God and self assists you in making God infinitely meaningless. But God just won’t go away.  He keeps interjecting himself into the equation with some very real numbers.  Whether you use arithmetic, algebra or calculus, He just won’t cooperate, will he?

I disagree with Burt when he says that the ones who really get it don’t talk much about God.  IF God exists and IF he encounters someone, how could that person talk about much of anything else?

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Posted: 05 August 2007 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 371 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]God—the supposedly Supreme Omnibenevolent Being (how’s that for an acronym)...

Good one. LOL

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Posted: 05 August 2007 02:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 372 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I disagree with Burt when he says that the ones who really get it don’t talk much about God.  IF God exists and IF he encounters someone, how could that person talk about much of anything else?

I know exactly what you mean. When I worked in psychiatric services, there were a few people who had encountered God, and they talked about it all the time. Also, space people and CIA agents. They put cameras in the shower head and control you with lasers, you know. Careful!

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Posted: 05 August 2007 02:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 373 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I disagree with Burt when he says that the ones who really get it don’t talk much about God.  IF God exists and IF he encounters someone, how could that person talk about much of anything else?

I know exactly what you mean. When I worked in psychiatric services, there were a few people who had encountered God, and they talked about it all the time. Also, space people and CIA agents. They put cameras in the shower head and control you with lasers, you know. Careful!

You and all your other CIA buddies on this forum need to get back up in your space ship and stop watching me. I have my laser protection gear on, so you can’t control me. YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME!!!

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Posted: 05 August 2007 03:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 374 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I have my laser protection gear on

Silly Earthling, we don’t use lasers anymore. Old school! And don’t worry about that microchip we implanted in your brain, the tumors won’t start growing for, oh, a few more years, maybe. But by then we’ll be done with you! Muhahahaha!

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Posted: 05 August 2007 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 375 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]You and all your other CIA buddies on this forum need to get back up in your space ship and stop watching me. I have my laser protection gear on, so you can’t control me. YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME!!!


Funny, rolling with it and all, and I appreciate your sense of humor and your general demeanor (we’ve throw some hard balls at you for sure), but what about the implications of the fact that religious belief is indistinguishable from psychosis other than for the fact that religious beliefs are more popular? Doesn’t that tell you (or at least suggest) something?

Byron

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