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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mailvox: the existence of evil

JB has a question:
I have never heard this question answered before.  If there is no God (or Devil) why is there evil?
The reason you haven't heard it answered before is because most atheists shy away from explicitly revealing the true extent of their beliefs.  I've pinned a few atheists down on this, and to a man, they have admitted that they don't actually believe in the existence of evil.  Of course, this doesn't prevent them from making rhetorical use of the concept and insisting that it is the Christian concept of God that is truly evil and so forth.  In doing so, they are either being deceptive or inconsistent.

But the only position on evil that is consistent with rational materialism is that there is no such thing as essential evil or essential good, these are merely subjective labels that are inconsistently applied to various human behaviors and natural events.  Of course, this is not an aspect of atheism that most atheists are eager to advertise, since so many people already tend to consider them amoral or even immoral by definition.

This is one of the reasons I entitled my book on the subject "The Irrational Atheist".  Most atheism is irrational, as the atheist attempts to reconcile his continued belief in the existence of some sort of objective good or evil while simultaneously denying the existence of its only possible source.  Of course, it's not the irrational atheist one has to worry about, it is the rational atheist who realizes that in the absence of a lawmaker, there is no law except that which he wills.

That is the reality, though.  If there is no God, there is no good or evil.  This is also the core of my argument for the existence of God; because we materially experience evil, we must logically conclude that God exists.

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104 Comments:

Anonymous onejohn512 October 27, 2012 11:53 AM  

Good answer. From one who like all are in need of redemption from the mystery of lawlessness a.k.a. evil.

Blogger Bill Honsberger October 27, 2012 12:02 PM  

At least Nietzsche was a consistent atheist on this point - although he couldn't live it out consistently. None can - Russell, Sartre and others all fail at this point - wonder why?...
Somehow the bumper sticker "Yucky happens" doesn't quite grab you. Somehow the argument "God is all powerful so he could stop yucky - God is all loving so he would stop yucky - yucky exists - therefore God does not exist, seems to lose a bit of its traction recited in this way doesn't it?
William Rowe tried to be consistent as an atheist here - but all he did with his "robust evil" was provide a open door to a new reductio - appreciate the help Bill...

Anonymous antonym October 27, 2012 12:25 PM  

If you consider the irrational atheist a nuisance and the rational atheist truly dangerous, why is the majority of your atheist-bashing directed at the irrational variety? Do you simply enjoy fucking with them, or is there a more complex reason? This is not a loaded question, I'm just curious

Anonymous Daybreaker October 27, 2012 12:31 PM  

For Political Correctness, Hitler is the Devil, and all who refuse the rites of Political Correctness secretly serve him. (Hence it is appropriate to toss around "Nazi!" and "Fascist!" as all-purpose attacks.) Communist mass killers can be saints, e.g. Che Guevara. As the Swastika is the sign of the Devil, so the Hammer and Sickly is a sign of transcendent Good: those who fight under it are idealistic, and at worst confused by "dizziness due to success". Right-wingers, that is Satanists, who change sides are treated with "strange new respect" - yesterday's Uncle Tom Neocon can be tomorrow's patriotic hero, and his chief of staff can go from generic warmonger to truth-telling man of integrity overnight if he endorses the Left's preferred candidate and damns Republicans as "racists".

Such, more or less, is the sacred world-map of the Left, which has a great overlap with doctrinaire atheism.

If that is where you want to get to, morally speaking, atheism is fine. A consistent, logically defensible doctrine of Good and Evil would not help you to do anything you wanted to do and could only get in your way. So why even start that?

Anonymous aero October 27, 2012 12:31 PM  

All that is evil and good is controlled by the state and the state of your own mind.

Ones believe of dealing with the unborn is an example of how the individual looks at evil and good.

The state has the authority to determine wither your belief is evil or good. The state can give you no credit for your good deeds and forgive your evil ones.

The fact that the state is in control and the individual still has freewill to obey or disobey the state is proof that there is a superior being and good and evil exist.

Anonymous Jake-the-Rake October 27, 2012 12:32 PM  

I found the ultimate atheist argument in an aphorism by Emile Cioran: "All is pathology except indifference" - The minute an atheist starts to care...

But then again, the minute a theist starts to care...

Anonymous the abe October 27, 2012 12:38 PM  

Are humans not capable of creating other value judgements outwith the existence of a metaphysical final arbiter?

Anonymous VD October 27, 2012 12:40 PM  

If you consider the irrational atheist a nuisance and the rational atheist truly dangerous, why is the majority of your atheist-bashing directed at the irrational variety? Do you simply enjoy fucking with them, or is there a more complex reason?

Because the nuisances are a lot more numerous and vocal. And what is there to argue about with the dangerous variety? Except for our differing postulates, we basically agree with each other. What could I say, except that I disagree with the postulate... at which point the rational atheist would say, "yes, I know, and I disagree with yours."

It isn't the rational atheists who are proselytizing. If they ever did, I would oppose those efforts too.

Anonymous VD October 27, 2012 12:41 PM  

Are humans not capable of creating other value judgements outwith the existence of a metaphysical final arbiter?

Of course they can... but such value judgments are subjective and therefore hold no weight with other humans who have the same ability to create competing judgments.

Anonymous 691 October 27, 2012 12:49 PM  

If there is no God, there is no good or evil.

What exactly do you mean by this statement? In what sense would good and evil not exist?

Anonymous antonym October 27, 2012 12:50 PM  

It isn't the rational atheists who are proselytizing. If they ever did, I would oppose those efforts too.

Fair enough.

Anonymous Alan October 27, 2012 12:51 PM  

By definition, there can be no objective good or evil, no right or wrong, without an objective teleology. There can be no objective teleology without God. Therefore, there can be no objective good or evil without God. All that can exist is subjective preferences. As a society, we can (and do) behave and think otherwise, but that just means we are irrational.

Anonymous stg58 October 27, 2012 12:51 PM  

Many Christian today don't believe in hell, or the concept of evil. That opens up the Christian to all kinds of deceit and mushy headed thinking.

"There is a spark of good in everyone..."

Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 12:55 PM  

People have been saying things like this for a long time but I'll go with Hume and ask why should we do what God says? Why is what God says any more moral than anyone else? The way people seem to be constructing their objective moral systems starts from basic axioms, in your case everything God says is moral. But there is no justification for the basic axioms. It makes it objective in the same sense as me saying everything I do is moral and that is a basic axiom of my objective morality. Now if you mean objective less in a rigorous unchanging sense and more in the sense that its free from subjective personal influences, isn't God just as much as a subjective personal being as any of us? This idea that the existence of God gives us objective morality has zero philosophical weight. All the existence of God would give us would be an arbitrary omnipotent tyrant. The sycophants would go along with it but everyone would be able to tell it was wrong. There is no mathematics of morality floating around out there, morality is an innately human thing and exists only with us. Many people have drawn a connection between ethics and aesthetics and how they use much the same arguments and evoke the same sense of "rightness". But no one would claim an objective sense of aesthetics.

Blogger Gilbert Ratchet October 27, 2012 1:00 PM  

Come on man! You don't need to believe in God to be moral! Christopher Hitchens said so.

Anonymous VD October 27, 2012 1:02 PM  

What exactly do you mean by this statement? In what sense would good and evil not exist?

I mean that in that case, there is no good and no evil. Neither good nor evil would exist in any objective sense.

People have been saying things like this for a long time but I'll go with Hume and ask why should we do what God says? Why is what God says any more moral than anyone else?

Because He is the Creator. Because He alone has the right and the ability to define good and evil.

But there is no justification for the basic axioms.

Of course there is. It is not only self-evident, it is also a logical imperative. The definition can only be provided by the definer. Sans any definer, there can be no definition.

All the existence of God would give us would be an arbitrary omnipotent tyrant.

No, not necessarily omnipotent nor tyrannical. But arbitrary, most certainly. The universe is arbitrary. It is the way it is, and not any other way. So too is God arbitrary. Neither He nor His Law can be judged, any more than the force of gravity can be judged.

There is no mathematics of morality floating around out there, morality is an innately human thing and exists only with us.

That's where you are wrong. If it exists only with us, it does not exist.

Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 1:09 PM  

By definition, there can be no objective good or evil, no right or wrong, without an objective teleology. There can be no objective teleology without God. Therefore, there can be no objective good or evil without God. All that can exist is subjective preferences. As a society, we can (and do) behave and think otherwise, but that just means we are irrational.

This type of philosophizing with the dictionary was laughed out of the house with Scholasticism. If you set up the definitions so that you get the result you want you're not proving anything. And here is an incredible insight you seem not to have had yet, the definitions you use are as arbitrary as anything. Here is a fun one:
1. We call the set of everything that exists nature.
2. Supernatural is something outside of nature.
3. Since the supernatural is outside of the set of everything that exists, the supernatural
does not exist.



Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 1:20 PM  

But there is no justification for the basic axioms.

Of course there is. It is not only self-evident, it is also a logical imperative. The definition can only be provided by the definer. Sans any definer, there can be no definition.


I have no idea what you mean here. Why should we care what God's definition of right and wrong is? Thats the fundamental problem. How do you end the stream of whys?

All the existence of God would give us would be an arbitrary omnipotent tyrant.

No, not necessarily omnipotent nor tyrannical. But arbitrary, most certainly. The universe is arbitrary. It is the way it is, and not any other way. So too is God arbitrary. Neither He nor His Law can be judged, any more than the force of gravity can be judged.


And this is what defense of God as the definer of objective moraility turns into. A comparison of it with the laws of physics. No more moral importance than that. The idea that the connection between sin and hell is the same as that between mass and gravitational force. For all of of anti-science posturing in the end you espouse as just a materialistic view of the world as any of them. And I don't even need to point out that the laws physics are understood and observed but there is no evidence of God besides your "feeling" that evil exists. Its like that movie Time Bandits where they find a piece of evil. Funny movie.


Anonymous the abe October 27, 2012 1:24 PM  

Question is conflating logical possibility and physical possibility. David Lewis made a career dealing with this.

Blogger Foster October 27, 2012 1:25 PM  

" Of course, it's not the irrational atheist one has to worry about, it is the rational atheist who realizes that in the absence of a lawmaker, there is no law except that which he wills."

Enter Michel Onfray.

Anonymous 691 October 27, 2012 1:28 PM  

I mean that in that case, there is no good and no evil. Neither good nor evil would exist in any objective sense.

I find this definition lacking. As I understand it, you argue for the existence of God because of the observable phenomenon of evil. You and others have witnessed/committed evil actions and been the victim of evil actions.

Now, for the sake of argument, let's take a list of all human actions and divide them into three sets: good actions, evil actions and neutral actions. Perhaps these distinctions have been chosen by God or perhaps they are some arbitrary partition. Then, if I observe some action, I can classify it according to this list. It must belong to one of these three.

So let's say I observe a murder. I look it up on God's classification and see it listed under "evil." So I can now say I have observed "evil." But perhaps, again for the sake of argument, I look it up on 691's immoral atheist classification of good and evil and see that it's "good". The observable phenomenon is the same, but it's characterization is different.

Now, suppose God didn't exist and never came up with a classification of good and evil. We only have 691's immoral atheist classification that I made up myself. In what sense does murder not exist?

Anonymous Titicaca October 27, 2012 1:35 PM  

VD said In doing so, they are either being deceptive or inconsistent.

No, it's more of a "for the sake of argument" kind of thing.

Anonymous aero October 27, 2012 1:36 PM  

It has been said, that what is right today will be wrong tomorrow and what was wrong will be right.
Who has the authority to do this?
How does a child born and raised by a house thief s knows that stealing is wrong? Is the child rewarded for stealing from the house of thief s or punished? How does the child raised there feel when they steal from him?

Anonymous Sam Scott October 27, 2012 2:03 PM  

Vox,

Although I don't have the time or the philosophical knowledge to get into a good discussion personally, I just wanted to pose a question because I like reading the threads here.

First, don't we need need to define "good" and "evil" before we answer the question that you cite? To have a rational discussion, one must first agree on the premises and define the terms. If two different people have two different definitions of "good" and "evil," then any logical discussion is useless.

Wasn't it Socrates who first said, "If you want to argue with me, first you need to define your terms."? I forget...

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 27, 2012 2:06 PM  

"because we materially experience evil, we must logically conclude that God exists."

I believe in God, but I have to say, this is not a good argument nor a sound one, nor even a logical one (not that I think logic matters with respect to God, but still). Who says that we materially experience evil? Is evil just any sort of thing which we don't happen to like at the moment? Nazis and Communists both murdered millions of people, but in our culture, as it so happens, Nazis are "evil," while Communists get a pass. (At best they were "mistaken.") To prove this, look at the viability of displaying the swastika in public, as opposed to displaying the hammer-and-sickle, which is to this day still used as an acceptable fashion motif. So what do we say about "evil" in that regard? Apparently who murdered whom, ethnically speaking, provides us with the basis for our allegedly moral definition. Nazi pagan Europeans murdering Jews = Evil. Jewish Bolsheviks murdering European Christians = "Socialism hasn't been correctly tried yet."

Or look at slavery. Is "slavery" inherently morally "evil," or is it simply the case that it kind of sucks to be enslaved? Why are reparations for slavery deemed morally tenable for blacks, paid for by whites, but no one speaks about reparations to blacks paid for by Arabs (who plundered Africa for slaves far more widely than whites did), or reparations for whites paid for by Turks and Arabs and Jews, all of whom enslaved whites for far longer than whites did to blacks (and actually continue to do so today)?

Is a spider drinking the blood of a fly caught in its web "evil"? If so, why? Because we find it distasteful? If not so, why not?

I don't see how the question either proves or disproves the existence of God. In fact I find logical arguments about God to be silly. God is beyond logic, logic doesn't apply to God; logic is simply a paltry tool that we humans use, to make our way through the cosmos as best we can.

Anonymous Alan October 27, 2012 2:09 PM  

@Question said: If you set up the definitions so that you get the result you want you're not proving anything.

Basic logic was laughed out of the house? - certainly not by anyone who truly understood Scholasticism.

What I stated cannot not be true. Good and bad only exist in relation to an end, a purpose, a goal. No ends, no good or bad. Any ends created by man cannot be objective. Objective ends can only be defined by the one who created. We can ascertain those ends through observation, reason, and revelation... but anything we make up will be merely subjective and others need not agree.

By your definition of nature, of course there is no supernatural. We likely disagree on what exists.

Anyway, I thought the whole point of the current zeitgeist is that there are no objective morals so why the fuss unless it is really a matter of what those objective ends should be.

Anonymous scoobius dubious October 27, 2012 2:21 PM  

"We like the world because we do."
-- Stevens

Anonymous Stephen J. October 27, 2012 3:06 PM  

"This is also the core of my argument for the existence of God; because we materially experience evil, we must logically conclude that God exists."

This is a rephrasing of the same argument C.S. Lewis makes in MERE CHRISTIANITY: the idea that if there truly was no justice or meaning in the universe, then we as part of the universe should never have found this out, because we would have no referents enabling us to understand the issue -- like eyeless creatures in a cave who cannot conceive of themselves as being "in the dark"; both "dark" and "light" are meaningless terms to them.

Lewis also had a great (to me) demolishment of the idea that we call "evil" only that which is inconvenient to us: "If a man accidentally trips me up on the bus, I am not angry with him, except perhaps for a second before I come to my senses; I am angry with a man who *tries* to trip me up even if he does not succeed. Yet the first has hurt me and the second has not."

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 3:10 PM  

Question October 27, 2012 1:09 PM

1. We call the set of everything that exists nature.
2. Supernatural is something outside of nature.
3. Since the supernatural is outside of the set of everything that exists, the supernatural
does not exist.


This is extremely flawed reasoning.
First:
1. We call the set of everything we can detect nature.

This is where it starts to break down:
2. Since the supernatural is outside what we can detect we can not measure it.

Now:
3. Simply makes no sense at this point.

Because:
We could not detect Oxygen.
Until we could.

We could not detect X-Rays.
Until we could.

This list could go on for pages and pages.

Anonymous Richardthughes October 27, 2012 3:13 PM  

Evil is highly equivocal, I think.

Anonymous Richardthughes October 27, 2012 3:16 PM  

Also, related: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=1387

Anonymous HH October 27, 2012 3:20 PM  

"I believe in God, but I have to say, this is not a good argument nor a sound one, nor even a logical one"

Yeah...its a clever slight of hand that VD loves to use and has great "gadfly effect" -- and I don't really think that VD really believes argument either. He just likes the challenge of arguing from the weaker position.

Anonymous Impraxical October 27, 2012 3:36 PM  

This argument may be comforting to believers, but it doesn't add anything to the discussion. Atheists either believe evil doesn't exist, or they believe you don't need a supernatural arbiter to define evil. Either they say there is no evil and you are just experiencing something you have subjectively decided is bad, or they say your experience of evil isn't proof of God.

As far as the atheist is concerned your deference to the supernatural arbiter is subjective, because they don't admit the supernatural arbiter's existence. You may say the atheist who believes in evil without God is wrong because the evil will always be subjective, but this is just differing definitions of evil.

Anonymous VD October 27, 2012 3:47 PM  

I believe in God, but I have to say, this is not a good argument nor a sound one, nor even a logical one (not that I think logic matters with respect to God, but still).

Do feel free to explain how it is none of those three things. You did nothing of the kind in the rest of your comment.

Who says that we materially experience evil? Is evil just any sort of thing which we don't happen to like at the moment?

I believe you will find some declarations to that effect in the Bible. And no, evil is not "just any sort of thing which we don't happen to like at the moment".

Now a question for you. Do you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil?

Yeah...its a clever slight of hand that VD loves to use and has great "gadfly effect" -- and I don't really think that VD really believes argument either. He just likes the challenge of arguing from the weaker position.

Not at all. Speaking of sleight of hand, I always find it amusing when people make unsupported assertions concerning an argument. What seems to be escaping some of you is that it is an entirely conditional argument... or to understand what it is ultimately an effective argument against.

This argument may be comforting to believers, but it doesn't add anything to the discussion.

Totally incorrect. It is extremely useful for exposing certain beliefs, demonstrating inconsistencies, and undermining specific atheist arguments.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 3:49 PM  

@ Kriston: The problem with your x-ray and oxygen analogy is that their discovery was just a matter of time, technology, and paradigm, whereas we have no way to detect that which is outside of nature unless it somehow interacts with nature. By definition, it's just not possible.

1. We call the set of everything that exists nature.
2. Supernatural is something outside of nature.
3. Since the supernatural is outside of the set of everything that exists, the supernatural
does not exist.


Question's first statement is just warmed over positivism. We cannot possibly know whether anything exists or doesn't exist outside of nature. Statement #2 is correct, but because #1 is bogus, #3 does not follow.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 4:12 PM  

You could be right, but we don't actually know that.

Everything we know about nature is due to interactions in three spacial dimensions. But we postulate more. A four dimensional being who interacts with us on extremely rare occasions would be supernatural by the definition that we have used.

We don't know what we don't know until we know it.

Blogger Devil's Advocate October 27, 2012 4:13 PM  

Rational atheists are dangerous in what they might do, but not dangerous in who they might convert. After all a rational atheist is basically a me first douchebag, that isn't going to be compelling to many people.

An irrational atheist may be a very good person. The problem is would they not be an even better person if they were a believer. I think the answer is yes.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 4:15 PM  

The other point is that many things have been considered supernatural until we understood them. What's to say that we will never be able to see outside what out senses detect at some future time?

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 27, 2012 4:15 PM  

"Do feel free to explain how it is none of those three things. You did nothing of the kind in the rest of your comment."

Ah, you're letting me down, monsieur. Did you think that those were three separate discrete things, instead of (absent proper rhetorical style) one thing? An argument that is not good is also not sound, and vice versa. We can quibble over whether there are good, sound arguments that are not "logical" but which are nevertheless good and sound (I happen to think that much theology rides upon this premise, which bothers me not a whit), but that doesn't really matter. As Carlyle said of Muhammad, mere quibbling theology is always trumped by true religion.

"I believe you will find some declarations to that effect in the Bible."

I believe you are correct, yet appeals to the Bible are appeals to authority (logically speaking). They may indeed turn out to be correct (as I said before, I believe in God) but you were trying to make a logical argument, and an appeal to the authority of the Bible is not logical. I'm on your side in the long run, chief, but nevertheless: FAIL.

"And no, evil is not "just any sort of thing which we don't happen to like at the moment""

Well please explain, as you have not done so before.

"Now a question for you. Do you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil?"

Since I don't reject the idea of evil, I merely reject the idea that it is possible to "plug it in" to a coherent logical system, I don't find your question relevant nor interesting. In New York a day or two ago, a hired Dominican nanny stabbed to death a pair of beautiful white children. Some people are claiming that she was suffering a mental breakdown. I have no idea what the facts are, which is to say, what her motives were. If this (objectively) evil act (and considered more "evil" to white people, I would hazard, than to brown people) is played out by the DSM and considered an act of insanity rather than a criminal act, which may well be the case, what is the Tribunal's ruling on the nature of "evil" in this case?

You see how it could become a problem.

Now ask me something that I might find interesting.




Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 4:18 PM  

Devil's Advocate October 27, 2012 4:13 PM

Rational atheists are dangerous in what they might do, but not dangerous in who they might convert. After all a rational atheist is basically a me first douchebag, that isn't going to be compelling to many people.

An irrational atheist may be a very good person. The problem is would they not be an even better person if they were a believer. I think the answer is yes.


The one way that they would be better people is if they would simply stop trying to remove God from the public square. They can clearly see how much better off most people are with God in their lives, yet these people still try to remove Him.

OpenID infanttheology October 27, 2012 4:23 PM  

Vox,

Right on. Not only this, but there is no such thing as a person either:

http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/this-is-personal/

+Nathan

Anonymous Impraxical October 27, 2012 4:23 PM  

Totally incorrect. It is extremely useful for exposing certain beliefs, demonstrating inconsistencies, and undermining specific atheist arguments.

I wasn't specific enough. It doesn't add anything to the discussion of whether or not God exists. I agree with your point that it can be useful as a rhetorical argument.

Anonymous Noah B. October 27, 2012 4:29 PM  

I don't know that we can definitively state that there are no objective definitions of good and evil apart from those with supernatural origins, although it's hard to imagine what forms such objective definitions might take. I've seen many people attempt this, and all have failed miserably.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 4:30 PM  

A four dimensional being who interacts with us on extremely rare occasions would be supernatural by the definition that we have used.

No, it would not. Supernatural means beyond nature, i.e. beyond the universe. It's entirely possible that nature contains more spatial dimensions than we can immediately perceive, but that still wouldn't make extra-dimensional phenomena supernatural.

The other point is that many things have been considered supernatural until we understood them. What's to say that we will never be able to see outside what out senses detect at some future time?

This is the problem with the word "supernatural." What people often mean when using this word is something beyond what's materially observable, like spirits or ghosts. And there was indeed a time when people commonly attributed all kinds of phenomena to spirits or whatever. But that's not the strict definition of the word, and it's not what Question was referring to with his little argument. Supernatural is that which is above or beyond nature -- that's literally what the word means. We cannot possibly know what is above or beyond nature, because we are bound to this universe -- we have no causal relationship with the supernatural except to the extent that the supernatural interacts with nature.

Anonymous 691 October 27, 2012 4:45 PM  

Vox, I'm still trying to understand your argument. So, let's try a different approach and start simple. What is your evidence for the existence of evil?

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 4:46 PM  

OK, I'm guessing we are using the same words in slightly different ways. Spiritual interactions are supernatural, but do exist. They just don't leave any material evidence.

And my real point is that just because we can't prove the existence of the supernatural doesn't mean that it does not exist. Some day we may be able to move outside material existence and measure it.

Would that then make it all natural?

I still say that if nature is everything that exists, then supernatural is simply that we can't detect, and may or may not exist. At least that which we call supernatural today.

Anonymous Logan October 27, 2012 5:03 PM  

"That is the reality, though. If there is no God, there is no good or evil. This is also the core of my argument for the existence of God; because we materially experience evil, we must logically conclude that God exists."

William Lane Craig uses pretty much the exact same argument for the existence of God, though I believe he would disagree (or has disagreed in the past) with the notion that God/God's laws are arbitrary. I'll quote at length from God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist since I have nothing better to do at the moment:

"...it seems to me that an appropriately formulated divine command morality... eludes the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma by forging a third alternative: our moral duties are grounded in the commands of a holy and loving God. God's very nature is what Plato called the 'Good': He is essentially kind, just, generous, and so forth. Just as it made no sense prior to 1960 to ask whether the standard meter bar at the Bureau de Poids et Mesures in Paris was actually a meter long (since its length determined what a meter was), so it makes no sense to measure God's moral character against some abstract standard, since His nature is determinative of what goodness is. His nature expresses itself toward us in the form of moral commands which, issuing from the Good, become moral duties for us. Thus, God's commands are not arbitrary." (pg. 68-9)

"Arbitrary" seems to mean more or less the same as "contingent": x is arbitrary iff x could have been otherwise; (for example, if y could have happened instead.) Craig seems to mean that God's nature could not have been otherwise. What is that famous line in the NT: "I am what I am." Since it is his nature to be perfectly good, just, etc., He didn't choose to have the nature that he has; so his nature is not arbitrary. And since his laws and commands are extensions of his nature, then his laws and commands cannot be arbitrary either.

Okay, now I have to go deadlift. Everyone have a nice day.

Anonymous VD October 27, 2012 5:22 PM  

Vox, I'm still trying to understand your argument. So, let's try a different approach and start simple. What is your evidence for the existence of evil?

That's not the correct place to start. This is: do you believe in the existence of evil?

Craig seems to mean that God's nature could not have been otherwise. What is that famous line in the NT: "I am what I am." Since it is his nature to be perfectly good, just, etc., He didn't choose to have the nature that he has; so his nature is not arbitrary. And since his laws and commands are extensions of his nature, then his laws and commands cannot be arbitrary either.

I disagree with Craig's argument, as does his example. A "meter" could have been anything, just as God could have defined good however He chose. I don't see any reason to conclude God had to do things as He did any more than the NFL had to declare that 10 yards, and not 8 or 12, would be a first down.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 5:27 PM  

Spiritual interactions are supernatural, but do exist. They just don't leave any material evidence.

I believe they can leave material evidence. Genesis is, after all, an account of God's interaction with the natural world. And didn't Jacob wrestle with an angel?

And my real point is that just because we can't prove the existence of the supernatural doesn't mean that it does not exist.

Agreed. And that's why Question's little argument falls apart.

Some day we may be able to move outside material existence and measure it.

People do move outside material existence, if you believe the many, many accounts of near-death experience.

I still say that if nature is everything that exists, then supernatural is simply that we can't detect, and may or may not exist. At least that which we call supernatural today.

No, if Question is correct and nature is everything that exists, then the supernatural by definition cannot exist.

Anonymous Bobo October 27, 2012 5:33 PM  

God's very nature is what Plato called the 'Good': He is essentially kind, just, generous, and so forth.

God isn't kind or good, God is goodness itself. God isn't full of love, God is love itself. Love of course means willing the good of the other and not a pleasant heart warming feeling, although that can be a secondary byproduct, in the way acting virtuously leads to blessedness = happiness = eudaimonia which can also generate that emotion. When we empty ourselves of unnecessary distractions (anything which separates you from God) i.e. when we're poor in spirit (who said that?), we can focus on God and come closer to eudaimonia. After death, if we're worthy we can attain the beatific vision of God. This is what we should strive for.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 5:33 PM  

That would mean that God is not supernatural, then.

Then his argument really falls apart.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 5:35 PM  

What is that famous line in the NT: "I am what I am."

Is it in the NT? I know something similar to this statement appears in Revelations, but the phrase appears in Exodus and is actually more accurately translated as "I will be that which I will be." Gerald Schroeder argues in God According to God that this is consistent with the dynamic God described in the Bible.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 5:36 PM  

Maybe it is because I use natural in the manner that the atheist does in this case.

But, then again, if God created all we can detect then nothing we can see is "natural" by that definition.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 5:37 PM  

That would mean that God is not supernatural, then.

How so?

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 5:41 PM  

If natural is all that exists, and God exists, would that not make God natural by that definition?

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 6:10 PM  

If natural is all that exists, and God exists, would that not make God natural by that definition?

Oh, I see. If God exists, yes.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 6:23 PM  

This is where I see the arguments from logic for the non-existence of God break down. So many times I have heard that science would break down if the supernatural exists. I point out that science would only break down if the supernatural interfaces with the natural (by their definition) on a regular basis. The occasional interface would be considered an observation error since it would not be repeatable. And I know of no scientist who believes that there has never been an observation error before.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 6:24 PM  

The other point is that WAY too many people confuse natural with material, and use the terms interchangeably.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 6:46 PM  

I point out that science would only break down if the supernatural interfaces with the natural (by their definition) on a regular basis.

Science would only break down if the supernatural interfaces with the natural in such a way as to make the physical world unknowable and unpredictable.

The other point is that WAY too many people confuse natural with material, and use the terms interchangeably.

The natural world is by definition the physical world, so I don't see how you can argue that the natural is not the material.

Anonymous Kriston October 27, 2012 6:58 PM  

OK, Question's definition was that natural was all that exists. And then proceeded to use it as all that was material. There are many things that are immaterial, but we assume natural.

Is thought material?
Is spirit material?
Is love material?
Is emotion material?

I know that action based on any of the above is, but is the actual thought or feeling material? Or am I just going over into the philosophical?

And if these things ARE material, what would be the problem with thought crimes?

Anonymous Passerby October 27, 2012 7:18 PM  

Definition of evil:

1 a: the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing


I'm an atheist and going by Merriam-Webster's def. of evil above, I say evil exists.

According to VD, my stance is irrational. Prove it. Anyone. Show your work. Lay out the steps proving my logic is flawed. You'll fail. I will crush you.

Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 7:26 PM  

Wow talk about flying over your heads. The whole point of my little proof was the ridiculousness of making your own special definitions and then acting like they it proves something when they work out the way you want to. Of course the way I have nature defined there is not the way most people use it, most people make a distinction between natural and unnatural in their daily lives and that distinction would not make sense if there was only nature. But there is nothing at all wrong with my argument, the only possible problem some one could have with is the definition of nature used in it. Definitions are arbitrary and that was my original point in responding to Alan's post:

By definition, there can be no objective good or evil, no right or wrong, without an objective teleology. There can be no objective teleology without God. Therefore, there can be no objective good or evil without God. All that can exist is subjective preferences. As a society, we can (and do) behave and think otherwise, but that just means we are irrational.

Anonymous Stickwick October 27, 2012 7:35 PM  

But there is nothing at all wrong with my argument, the only possible problem some one could have with is the definition of nature used in it.

There is nothing wrong with the logic of your argument, but your first statement demonstrates the limitations of logic in arriving at the truth.

Definitions are arbitrary ...

In what sense?

Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 7:37 PM  


1. We call the set of everything that exists nature.
2. Supernatural is something outside of nature.
3. Since the supernatural is outside of the set of everything that exists, the supernatural
does not exist.

Question's first statement is just warmed over positivism. We cannot possibly know whether anything exists or doesn't exist outside of nature. Statement #2 is correct, but because #1 is bogus, #3 does not follow.


This is silly. Using the definition of nature provided of course we know whether anything exists outside of nature, since nature is defined as the set of things that exist we know nothing outside that set exists. Thats just basic set theory. There is no way #1 can be bogus because all it is is a definition. Take it as a macro that whenever it comes across the word 'nature' it inserts the words 'set of everything that exists'. Your problem is that your understanding of the word 'nature' means something more like that which we know and interact with and that is not the definition I'm using. Which was the whole point of the little proof, cherry picking your definitions proves nothing.

Anonymous Question October 27, 2012 7:53 PM  

Definitions are arbitrary ...

In what sense?


Gah in what sense!? In the sense that you can define anything to be anything. Definitions have no truth value. When people take issue with definitions its when the definitions contradict previous definitions. To go back to the original post of Alan:

By definition, there can be no objective good or evil, no right or wrong, without an objective teleology.

Rofl I don't care what goofy little definition he read in some pseudo-intellectual apologetics. It has as much relevance to me as me defining nature the way I did and ruling out the supernatural's existence in three lines has to you.

Blogger Markku October 27, 2012 8:23 PM  

Using the definition of nature provided

He said "we call". But we don't call. Only he does, and only at that particular time. If he had said "if we called", then it would have been valid.

Anonymous The Great Martini October 27, 2012 8:24 PM  


Many people have drawn a connection between ethics and aesthetics and how they use much the same arguments and evoke the same sense of "rightness". But no one would claim an objective sense of aesthetics.


Or, as Sam Harris does in The Moral Landscape between goodness and a state of health. There is no one state of good health just as there is no one peak of moral goodness. There is a landscape of highs and lows. This sidesteps the objection that being non-objective, or really non-absolute, just degenerates into moral relativism ruled by pure subjectivity.

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 27, 2012 8:49 PM  

"Question" has made a series of objections that are, philosophically speaking, pretty silly; personally I find them too ridiculous to respond to, but if somebody really wants me to do it for the record or something, I will.

Meantime I find that Vox has somehow still not got round to responding to my own (well I would think at least) more substantial objections.

Hi Vox! Wassup?


Anonymous Elmer Fudge (friend of Sexual Chocolate) October 27, 2012 10:41 PM  

"And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man." -- Luke 17:26

There will come the day when all the ontological gymnastics will cease, in favor of real evidence. Possibly sooner than we think...



------------
* No, Slayer has neither the balls, nor the proper comprehension of context to present such.

Blogger Huggums October 27, 2012 10:47 PM  

What does "materially experience evil" mean?

Blogger IM2L844 October 28, 2012 12:38 AM  

God is beyond logic, logic doesn't apply to God; logic is simply a paltry tool that we humans use, to make our way through the cosmos as best we can.

Nonsense. Logic applies to everything. Since without logic any coherent thought process would be impossible, your belief in God's existence would be, by definition, unreasonable and irrational.

So, tell me, without using logic, how you came to the conclusion that God exists without using logic?

Blogger Crude October 28, 2012 2:55 AM  

But no one would claim an objective sense of aesthetics.

Philpapers survey of philosophers says otherwise, at a glance:

Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?

Accept or lean toward: objective 382 / 931 (41.0%)
Accept or lean toward: subjective 321 / 931 (34.5%)
Other 228 / 931 (24.5%)


This idea that the existence of God gives us objective morality has zero philosophical weight.

Many philosophers disagree, though the specifics of 'why' vary. It does depend on what metaphysical view you're coming from.

This sidesteps the objection that being non-objective, or really non-absolute, just degenerates into moral relativism ruled by pure subjectivity.

As Sam Harris unfortunately found out in the fallout after his book, arbitrarily saying 'Health is good! And don't ask me to define health, we know it when we see it!' doesn't solve much. Harris' arguments are pretty rotten where they're original, and where they're not original, it's just a bland and uninformed utilitarianism.

Now, if he came at it from an Aristotilean perspective, he'd get a lot further. He'd also be sacrificing naturalism upon the instant.

Blogger Crude October 28, 2012 3:07 AM  

This type of philosophizing with the dictionary was laughed out of the house with Scholasticism.

Also, this is a profoundly stupid statement. Scholasticism wasn't "laughed out of the house" - for one, it was an extremely broad set of views, and is still around today as a major tradition. 'Philosophizing with the dictionary', in the sense of starting with axioms and proceeding from there, is still done today - often in ridiculous ways (see Harris), but some ways are more reasonable than others.

Anonymous Question October 28, 2012 3:31 AM  

This type of philosophizing with the dictionary was laughed out of the house with Scholasticism.

Also, this is a profoundly stupid statement. Scholasticism wasn't "laughed out of the house" - for one, it was an extremely broad set of views, and is still around today as a major tradition. 'Philosophizing with the dictionary', in the sense of starting with axioms and proceeding from there, is still done today - often in ridiculous ways (see Harris), but some ways are more reasonable than others.


Give me a break Scholasticism has no prescence in modern philosophy outside of a few apologists who have managed to worm their way in and the Catholic church. I can tell that you are partial to it but seriously it is dead and claiming underwise just reveals bias. I'm far from being an expert but I don't know of any anything in the analytic or continental veins that even claims any connection. In fact the modern university system is pretty much founded on the rejection of the Scholastic tradition.

Blogger Crude October 28, 2012 3:56 AM  

Give me a break Scholasticism has no prescence in modern philosophy outside of a few apologists who have managed to worm their way in and the Catholic church.

Yes, Question - aside from the modern scholastic philosophers, there are no moderne scholastic philosophers. Derp.

It may not be some overwhelmingly popular position, but it continues to this day - and if you broaden the term from mere neo-scholastics to 'people rejecting modern mechanistic metaphysics in favor of classical views', it gets even larger still. You may not like them, you may wish they were gone, you may disagree with them - but they're there, and your knowledge of what 'scholasticism' even is comes across as embarrassingly limited.

I can tell that you are partial to it but seriously it is dead and claiming underwise just reveals bias.

Nah, it's not dead, and claiming otherwise reveals ignorance. There are metaphysical views I regard as incoherent dead-ends (eliminative materialism) which have small followings (EM again), but to say they're 'dead' would be wrong.

I'm far from being an expert

No kidding.

In fact the modern university system is pretty much founded on the rejection of the Scholastic tradition.

The modern university system is a joke and a sham, so if you want to claim it, be my guest. The university system, period, was largely developed *by* scholastics. Man, what a pitiable response on your part. Quick, follow it up by pointing out there are no scholastic philosophers running for freaking president.

Anonymous Question October 28, 2012 4:17 AM  

Give me a break Scholasticism has no prescence in modern philosophy outside of a few apologists who have managed to worm their way in and the Catholic church.

Yes, Question - aside from the modern scholastic philosophers, there are no moderne scholastic philosophers. Derp.


Quick name a modern scholastic philospher thats not a catholic priest. The only one I can think of is Edward Fesser and he teaches at a community college. William Lane Craig mentioned earlier is in the analytic camp. There is no modern research or interest in Scholasticism besides those with a theological axe to grind.

Anonymous Log October 28, 2012 4:30 AM  

"Because we materially experience evil...."

When I was an atheist, I would have rejected that assertion. Given that evil does not exist, unpleasantness, pain, sickness, and so forth, would be no more and no less evil than health, pleasure, and pleasantness - which is to say, they would not be evil at all - even if we have strong preferences for some over the others. Thus, Vox, up against a consistent atheist you'd lose; the proper response is "We don't materially experience evil." But, then, a consistent atheist wouldn't bother arguing the point with you.

The only sure "argument" for the existence of God is direct revelation, which, by definition, is a non-transferrable proof unto oneself.

Blogger Crude October 28, 2012 4:42 AM  

Quick name a modern scholastic philospher thats not a catholic priest.

Just hit the freaking wikipedia and you'll find more. David Oderberg, Ed Feser (oh gosh a community college, he doesn't count), Anthony Kenny (agnostic, but still represents the tradition), to name a few. Thomas Nagel and others are in a scholastic trajectory with their thoughts, even if they don't explicitly identify as such.

There is no modern research or interest in Scholasticism besides those with a theological axe to grind.

This is like that old atheist canard of 'the only people who find theistic arguments convincing are theists.' Because what would really make sense is an atheist who finds a theistic argument convincing, right? Freaking think it through.

Scholasticism continues to this day. You may not like it, but you can't wish or sneer it away. If that worked, Dennett and the Churchlands would be in some cornfield right about now.

Anonymous Question October 28, 2012 4:50 AM  

Quick name a modern scholastic philospher thats not a catholic priest.

Just hit the freaking wikipedia and you'll find more. David Oderberg, Ed Feser (oh gosh a community college, he doesn't count), Anthony Kenny (agnostic, but still represents the tradition), to name a few. Thomas Nagel and others are in a scholastic trajectory with their thoughts, even if they don't explicitly identify as such.


Hitting the wikipedia like you suggest I come on this nugget:

Kenny initially trained as a Roman Catholic priest at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he received the degree of S.T.L. He was ordained in 1955 and served as Curate in Liverpool 1959-63

And some how roping Nagel into the Scholastic camp is intensely amusing. Like I said before there is no interest in Scholasticism outside of a few apologists and (ex)-catholic priests.

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 5:01 AM  

"So, tell me, without using logic, how you came to the conclusion that God exists without using logic?"

I haven't "come to the conclusion" that God exists. I simply believe in God. I hope that I am right, but of course I may not be. 'One never knows, do one?' Logical proofs that God does or does not exist don't impress me. I see no reason why God ought to be bound by the confines of human logic. A lot of the things God ostensibly tells humanity through scripture don't strike me as particularly logical from my point of view, but I just shut up about it because I'm not the one who created the heavens and the earth, so there's probably a few things that are beyond my understanding.

One of the funny things about the question is that only one party can ever be satisfied. If God exists, then presumably one of these days you'll find that out. But if God doesn't exist, you'll never know it. It'll simply be lights out, and you'll simply pass out of being without even noticing.

Anonymous VD October 28, 2012 5:17 AM  

Meantime I find that Vox has somehow still not got round to responding to my own (well I would think at least) more substantial objections.

I don't find your "more substantial objections" either relevant or interesting.... If you don't answer my questions, I don't even read your comments. See how it works?

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 5:34 AM  

I did answer your questions. You simply don't happen to like my answers.

That's fine. There's nothing vital at stake.

Cheers.

Blogger Crude October 28, 2012 6:07 AM  

And some how roping Nagel into the Scholastic camp is intensely amusing. Like I said before there is no interest in Scholasticism outside of a few apologists and (ex)-catholic priests.

Kenny is no longer a priest, and he's still a scholastic philosopher. I said outright he's an agnostic.

You were wrong, Question. Scholastic philosophy continues to this day. You've just after-the-fact amended your standards to be "not enough people that I, Question, arbitrarily determine adequate". But hey, continue to get agitated when folks point out that scholastic philosophy survives to this day. It'll continue to be funny to watch your reaction. ;)

Anonymous Anonymous October 28, 2012 7:39 AM  

Question, ' This is silly. Using the definition of nature provided of course we know whether anything exists outside of nature, since nature is defined as the set of things that exist we know nothing outside that set exists.'

You have chosen the definition that suits you. A better definition is:

Natural - Things that exist that are bound by the laws of the universe.

Supernatural - Things that exist that are not bound by the laws of the universe.

James Stephenson

Anonymous VD October 28, 2012 7:57 AM  

I did answer your questions. You simply don't happen to like my answers.

No, that is not true. I asked you a straightforward Yes/No question.

Question: "Do you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil?"

Answer: "Since I don't reject the idea of evil, I merely reject the idea that it is possible to "plug it in" to a coherent logical system, I don't find your question relevant nor interesting."

That is not an answer. That is an assertion and an evasion. I still do not know if you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil. Answer the question first, then further explain your answer or express your opinion about the relevance of the question as you like. But first, answer the question in an unambiguous manner.

If you can't manage to do that, well, then we know your capacity for honest and intelligent discourse is too limited to indulge.

Anonymous DaDenMan October 28, 2012 8:25 AM  

What is Evil to some is Good for others. Conditions of determination being strictly based on situational conditions. There is no true explanation other than the concept of 'good and evil' being a method of control and denial of our origins and history. To state there is good and evil places man above all others - regardless that this justification only applies 'In His Mind Solely'. Therefore, there has to be an understanding for society, group/tribe mentality and working in a social norm, rules needed to be established and enforced for the 'success of all', especially at the beginning of the societal formation.
Man kills to survive. When Man kills to succeed, it becomes 'evil' in the minds of those who pay the cost, yet 'Good' for those who benefit. But for the 'Good of Society' we claim to define what is considered 'Evil'. So the question is truly 'Do you believe the mind control used to define how you understand 'good and evil' events and how this control is exerted to modify and contain individual behaviour'

Anonymous Passerby October 28, 2012 8:26 AM  

An explanation for the existence of evil is only a problem for believers in God -- i.e., the most popular deity in the world attributed as being all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good. It's not a problem for atheism/atheists whatsoever. It's also not a problem for believers who accept dropping at least one of those attributes.

People who deny this are lying/deluded/unintelligent/haven't given it enough thought, which in my estimation is about 99% of theists. It's a rare, honest theist who admits it.

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 8:43 AM  

"No, that is not true. I asked you a straightforward Yes/No question."

You asked a question. Whether it is a 'straightforward Yes/No question' is not solely yours to declare.

Nevertheless, since you insist on being a reductionist, I don't mind, if it gets anywhere.

"Do you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil?"

No, I don't believe that that is impossible, since as I admitted earlier, I am open to the idea that evil does in fact exist, and so it must be possible for us to experience it. Whether we indeed really know what we are experiencing at one time or another, or how we can know that, and what uses we are legitimately able to make of the things we experience or think that we "know", is an interesting question. But for your purposes, my answer is plainly No, that is not impossible.

There, I've answered your question, and on your terms. Now go ahead and spring whatever little trap it is you had in mind. I can't wait to see what form it takes.


Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 9:04 AM  

As an aside in aiding you to get a sense of what I think in general, I'll add this. I'm a believing Christian, but I have never to my knowledge had the experience of having the Holy Spirit speak through me, at least not in a way that I've recognized. I suspect that there are people who frequent this blog who have had such an experience. If, through my voice, the Holy Spirit declared that such-and-such an action or a person were "evil" then I would be very highly disposed to believe that judgement. Similarly if a person that I was seriously convinced was speaking through the Holy Spirit were to level such a claim, well I would give it its due worth.

But if we are speaking simply about logic (and the ways of God, I think, are not necessarily subject to logic) then we have other questions to consider.

Think of the terrible thing that just happened in New Jersey: a beautiful 12-year-old white girl was strangled to death by two feral teenage negroes. Now we could say that what they did was evil, and it may be true. We could also say that, given low negro IQ, low negro impulse control and poor future time orientation, and the negro propensity for oversexuality and violence, that their crime was not "evil", strictly speaking, but more or less what is biologically expected of them.

Which is true? I don't know. In the context of your earlier question, "Is it impossible to materially experience evil?" I would say two things: 1) if someone philosophically admits (as I do) that evil exists and is real, then it follows that it must be possible to experience it, but 2) it's a tough time trying to figure out what is genuinely "evil" and what is simply things we find repulsive or abhorrent. There are many abhorrent things in the world which aren't "evil." If you have spiders in your house then you have seen the dessicated corpses that are left in their webs. Smallpox and polio are bad and tragic for humans, but you can't say that they're "evil."

And yet I do affirm that evil exists and is real. How do I know what it is? Basically, I don't; I find it very hard to say. But I won't say that it doesn't exist. Why? Maybe because I'm just stubborn, or an idiot, or a God-fearing man, take your pick.

Anonymous Toby Temple October 28, 2012 9:35 AM  

You asked a question. Whether it is a 'straightforward Yes/No question' is not solely yours to declare.

~facepalm~

The question -

"Do you believe it is impossible to materially experience evil?"

IS a straightforward YES/NO question.

To help your feeble mind understand, it is as straightforward YES/NO question as "Do you eat babies?"

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 9:49 AM  

"To help your feeble mind understand, it is as straightforward YES/NO question as "Do you eat babies?""

Everyone knows what the words "eat" and "babies" mean.

The words "believe", "impossible," "materially", "experience", and "evil" are all, I am afraid, rather more complicated than "eat" and "babies", and may be parsed with a great deal more flexibility.

You were saying something about "feeble minds."

Do go on.

Anonymous Question October 28, 2012 10:40 AM  

Kenny is no longer a priest, and he's still a scholastic philosopher. I said outright he's an agnostic.

You were wrong, Question. Scholastic philosophy continues to this day. You've just after-the-fact amended your standards to be "not enough people that I, Question, arbitrarily determine adequate". But hey, continue to get agitated when folks point out that scholastic philosophy survives to this day. It'll continue to be funny to watch your reaction. ;)


Hey I've ammended nothing I'm just responding to your first statement:

Also, this is a profoundly stupid statement. Scholasticism wasn't "laughed out of the house" - for one, it was an extremely broad set of views, and is still around today as a major tradition.

Scholasticism is not around today as a major tradition. It exists today amoung a handful of what amounts to academic trolls who are contrarian for the sake of being contrary. And amoung Catholic priests trolls of a different sort. Implying that its a living and active part of modern philosophy is a desperate lie to gain respect for something that was passed over close to 400 years ago. You mentioned eliminative materialsim earlier, much more has been said by respected philosophers in the past twenty years about it than Scholasticism but in your own words EM has a small following. People don't even bother saying Scholasticism is wrong headed, that was done by Francis Bacon a long time ago.

Blogger IM2L844 October 28, 2012 11:02 AM  

I haven't "come to the conclusion" that God exists. I simply believe in God.

I see this is going to be like pulling teeth. You have come to a conclusion whether you understand that's what you have done or not. That's okay. We'll take baby steps.

How do you believe something/anything?

Anonymous Dr. J October 28, 2012 11:16 AM  

their crime was not "evil", strictly speaking, but more or less what is biologically expected of them.

You must be relatively new here. This is rank intellectual laziness. Reason cannot apply to God? That's your excuse for refusing to utilize reason when discussing divine topics? Are you going to argue that blacks don't have eternal souls now? That, because of biology, they have no concept of right/wrong? You may claim God, but you argue like an atheist.

Refusing to accept that some degree of rationality applies to God rejects man's nature. You understand that the entire field of scientific inquiry grew out of the following line of thought:

1. Man was made in God's image.
2. Man is a rationale creature capable of reason
3. The universe was likely constructed in a rationale way that could be materially investigated?

Read some Isaac Newton at some point for an example of a man who successfully applied reason to both scientific inquiry and theology.

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 4:00 PM  

"You have come to a conclusion whether you understand that's what you have done or not."

Oh, great. Now I'm in an argument with Neil Peart. Pass.

"Are you going to argue that blacks don't have eternal souls now?"

There's always a risk with this type of discussion that at any moment it will sort of just snap, and devolve into hysterics. Guess we're finally there. Pass.

Cheers, all.


Anonymous Dr. J October 28, 2012 4:41 PM  

Guess we're finally there. Pass.

You're blaming me for addressing a point that you made? But it's fine if you want to beat a hasty retreat. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging, right?

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 5:00 PM  

"If you find yourself in a hole"

Uhhhh.......................................... no.

Blogger IM2L844 October 28, 2012 5:14 PM  

"You have come to a conclusion whether you understand that's what you have done or not."

Oh, great. Now I'm in an argument with Neil Peart. Pass.


Well, at least you are smart enough to recognize you lost the argument before you wasted any more of your time trying to defend such an nonsensical position.

None taken, apology accepted and you're welcome.

Best regards,
"Blind Lightnin' Watermelon Slim"

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 5:14 PM  

"You're blaming me for addressing a point that you made?"

His mother told him, Someday you will be a man,
And what other people write you may actually u--uu-understand.
Many folks will come to you from miles around,
To hear you understandin' stuff when the sun goes down.
Maybe someday you will see your name in lights,
Saying "Dr. J understandin' stuff tonight!"

But not today, laddie, not yet. You've still got a lot of work to do. Bit of advice, at your cognitive level, I wouldn't go around using the title "Dr." There are state and federal laws against misrepresenting your abilities.

Anonymous Procol Harumph October 28, 2012 5:22 PM  

"None taken, apology accepted and you're welcome."

Smug wrong internet windbag is smug and wrong.

Actually, now that I think of it, arguing with Neil Peart would be rather pleasant compared to this churlishness. "Tom Sawyer" is not a bad little tune when you go back and listen to it. Ciao.

Anonymous righteous gobbler October 28, 2012 7:08 PM  

I just love these posts/threads having to do with objective, timeless, God given morality vs. subjective style-the-day based morality.

The atheists keep getting their clocks cleaned but they just dirty them up again and come back for another cleaning.

Blogger IM2L844 October 28, 2012 7:13 PM  

Smug wrong internet windbag is smug and wrong.

Actually, now that I think of it, arguing with Neil Peart would be rather pleasant compared to this churlishness.


Har! It's good to know that you didn't lose your sense of humor along with some of those other functions usually performed by one's prefrontal cortex.

Anonymous Stickwick October 28, 2012 7:54 PM  

@ Question: ... definitions are arbitrary in the sense that you can define anything to be anything. Definitions have no truth value. When people take issue with definitions its when the definitions contradict previous definitions.

Then your definition of definitions is arbitrary and has no truth value, so why should I care how you define it?

Anonymous Toby Temple October 28, 2012 8:57 PM  

The words "believe", "impossible," "materially", "experience", and "evil" are all, I am afraid, rather more complicated than "eat" and "babies", and may be parsed with a great deal more flexibility.

No. They are not.

Consider that another help for your feeble mind.

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