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Topic: The Awesomesauce with Religion (Read 121242 times)

  • Frenzie
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The Awesomesauce with Religion
I suppose we need one of these.

Edit (20-02-2014): maybe a more positive title will make some difference? :)
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-20, 18:13:52 by Frenzie

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #100

@Frenzie, my long post is a response to the Euthyphro dilemma.

Right, I suck at names of aggregate things again. Internet life is way too virtual for me.

The dilemma is not Euthyphro dilemma, but of course this one, attributed to Epicurus:
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Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able, and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God.

This is what Harris essentially cited in his from neoatheist point of view laudable ramble. This is what String asked about from me, but I have tended to glide over it because I never saw what the whole fuss was about. I won't fix my references above, because I addressed the substance of the issue correctly and adequately. Let it stand. My sincere apologies though to Euthyphro and Epicurus for getting their names wrong.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #101
Atheists tend to believe that the dilemma is a knock-down argument against theism.

No they don't.

You implied that the dilemma should involve an intellectual struggle for theists like Craig. Sam Harris emphatically presents the dilemma as such. String also seemed to believe so and asked for my response.

For me personally the dilemma was always a non-issue. I can see how it may upset one's sensibilities, but intellectually it's completely uninteresting. I have only elaborated the response over time in discussion with others who had an issue with it.

Craig says that God is good and just. Yet as Harris said, according to Craig's own beliefs God is sending billions to Hell just for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. You discount that as irrelevant because Christianity means nothing to you. With fatalistic, apocalyptic thinkers at or near the metaphorical launch buttons of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, I'd say maybe it should.

And how is it atheists' business to complain about God they don't believe in anyway? It isn't. It only makes sense to issue complaints and demands regarding someone or something if that someone or something exists. This last thing was crystal clear to me when I was atheist (or agnostic), so I didn't issue such complaints. The so-called problem of evil is irrational at its core. Only irrational people make a problem of it.

People who hold false beliefs make bad decisions about the world they live in. Sam Harris isn't issuing complaints about God; he's trying to show a certain type of believer that they're wrong. Things are slightly different in Belgium than in The Netherlands and the United States. Doubtless it's far more different in Estonia still. The Dutch Bible Belt had a polio epidemic recently because they believe God's will shouldn't be interfered with by using vaccines. What's irrational is your stance that we should just politely shut up about it as if these ideas had no consequences. Because contrary to what you indirectly implied, these Dutch Reformed Protestants are not choosing to be evil. They are doing what they falsely believe to be good.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #102

Atheists tend to believe that the dilemma is a knock-down argument against theism.

No they don't.

Watch Harris again.


You discount that as irrelevant because Christianity means nothing to you. With fatalistic, apocalyptic thinkers at or near the metaphorical launch buttons of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, I'd say maybe it should.

Intellectually and philosophically speaking it doesn't move me at all and shouldn't move you either. If it does, then for reasons other than intellectual and philosophical.

Philosophically, only truth matters. What fatalistic and apocalyptic thinkers such as Harris and, less so, Craig falsely think, doesn't matter. It may socially matter, if you are easily pissed by events in your neighbourhood, but neither Harris or Craig are in my neighbourhood, nor any of their likes, so I don't care. The issue may politically matter, if you are a politician, which I am not.

Do you have socio-political ambitions? The rest of your post points that way.

Edit:

contrary to what you indirectly implied, these Dutch Reformed Protestants are not choosing to be evil. They are doing what they falsely believe to be good.

No. What I pretty directly implied in my section on moral psychology, it's a form of evil to not inform oneself as to the true nature of what is good. Both self-deception and seemingly innocent ignorance are evil.

The right way is: Think, then act. It's unreasonable to try to busy oneself with things that one can't change. That's what I mean when I say in a more blunt way: I don't care. It's because the issue is out of my hands. Let powers that be deal with it. How is it my responsibility to convert apocalyptic thinkers like Harris or groups like Dutch Reformed protestants?

Edit 2: an anecdote
One Finn in WWII to another: "Okay, buddy, cover me. I'll go surround the Russians."

Should we try this against the Dutch Reformed protestants who annoy you so much, Frenzie?
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-18, 09:52:55 by ersi

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #103
You're all wrong. Starting with the title.
Me too.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #104


Atheists tend to believe that the dilemma is a knock-down argument against theism.

No they don't.

Watch Harris again.

He routes a particular type of Christianity, not theism. Harris rather explicitly said so himself later on if you have any doubts:

Quote
Craig: But that's exactly your retort, Sam, that God has not issued such a command, and therefore, you're not morally obligated to do it.
Harris: No, if God did, he would be evil. So I can get behind that God (emphasis mine). If God is issuing that command, he's an evil bastard.


Do you have socio-political ambitions? The rest of your post points that way.

Telling people to shut up and preserve the status quo is just as much a socio-political ambition. And accepting the status quo doesn't square with choosing to do good. It's a bit like lying by omission.

Quote
No. What I pretty directly implied in my section on moral psychology, it's a form of evil to not inform oneself as to the true nature of what is good. Both self-deception and seemingly innocent ignorance are evil.
And yet it is somehow wrong to make it easier for them to inform themselves or to spur them into at least thinking about their beliefs?

The right way is: Think, then act. What is irrational is to try to busy oneself with things that one can't change. That's what I mean when I say in a more blunt way about myself: I don't care. It's because the issue is out of my hands. Let powers that be deal with it. How is it my responsibility to convert apocalyptic thinkers like Harris or groups like Dutch Reformed protestants?

Yes, it would be largely irrational for you to engage with Americans or Dutch people instead of Estonians. Sam Harris is, however, an American. It's rather easy for you to wonder what all the fuss is about if everyone in Estonia is properly vaccinated and informed about contraception.

Should we try this against the Dutch Reformed protestants who annoy you so much, Frenzie?

They don't annoy me.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #105
I've seen Harris in action and have come to the conclusion that He is God

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #106

Quote
Craig: But that's exactly your retort, Sam, that God has not issued such a command, and therefore, you're not morally obligated to do it.
Harris: No, if God did, he would be evil. So I can get behind that God (emphasis mine). If God is issuing that command, he's an evil bastard.
You can get behind the evil God, if he exists. As long as he doesn't, behind whom can you get?

To Craig, Craig's version of God matters. To Harris, no version of God should matter. If he makes other people's gods his own business, he has to inform himself about other people's versions, not make up his own and think he is refuting other people's gods.

What is the form of his reasoning supposed to be? Maybe:

1. My God is evil, therefore yours is too.
2. Evil God does not exist because no rational person can like an evil God.
3. Ergo: Your God does not exist. Neither does mine. Theism is irrational.

Can you help him out here? 

Do you have socio-political ambitions? The rest of your post points that way.

Telling people to shut up and preserve the status quo is just as much a socio-political ambition. And accepting the status quo doesn't square with choosing to do good. It's a bit like lying by omission.

We are fundamentally divided on this issue. For you a philosopher must be a social reformer and activist. You are effectively asking me to be like Martin Luther King or the good old original Martin Luther, a preacher, mover of masses and of heads of state. You seriously have not had your fill of those? Want another one?

For me, a philosopher is one who has found the truth, and lets truth merge with his own nature. It takes time and it's a strictly individual thing. Nobody outside can tell the philosopher at what stage his merger of truth is and if he is ready to come shine the light to the world or not. Nobody can tell if this is his mission on earth in the first place. Maybe it is, but who are you to tell? If he lets someone outside shout orders at him, he is not a philosopher. My view is in keeping with Plato's insights on philosophers (maybe you disagree that Plato was a philosopher, but hopefully you still agree that he knew some close enough). Some quotes from the allegory of the cave:
Quote
Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
[...]
And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

Indeed, I do not, he said.

And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.
[...]
[There are] States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.

So, even if a philosopher accepted the political or social task, he would go about it reluctantly and without advertising himself. He may be having his social impact or not, you would not know about it either way nor should you, because it's not up to you to dictate tasks and roles to philosophers. For any lesser philosopher, self-improvement and self-perfection is the most important task above all other tasks, regardless of any objections citing pressing social issues. A wise man in the right role is good of course, but only the wise man knows his right role.

Instead of lying by omission, it's avoiding mistakes. It may seem overly cautious to you, but a wise man knows better how much caution he needs. I, for example, mixed up Euthyphro's dilemma and Epicurus' paradox yesterday. This means I crossed the intellectual speed limit suitable for me.


And yet it is somehow wrong to make it easier for them to inform themselves or to spur them into at least thinking about their beliefs?
If you believe that rational arguments spur irrational people towards reason, be ready for surprises. Lots of surprises. The last thing that irrational people care about is informing themselves. Vide Harris' view of Christianity (for him the Pope is Taliban), Dawkins' concept of God (he takes it for granted that only the skydaddy version matters, because it's handy to refute it quoting Russell), etc. No improvement throughout their public career.

The tricky thing is that irrational people are full of themselves. To get along with them, the wise philosopher has to pretend he is one of them, or preferably a bit lesser than them. Not everybody can pull off this acting, and when the deception is uncovered, the immediate consequences are devastating. Caution is strongly advisable...

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #107
What is the form of his reasoning supposed to be? Maybe:

1. My God is evil, therefore yours is too.
2. Evil God does not exist because no rational person can like an evil God.
3. Ergo: Your God does not exist. Neither does mine. Theism is irrational.

Can you help him out here?

You're just being silly. One could summarize the argument by saying that if God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it, but I think the underlying point is more accurately paraphrased by saying that any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent.

We are fundamentally divided on this issue. For you a philosopher must be a social reformer and activist. You are effectively asking me to be like Martin Luther King or the good old original Martin Luther, a preacher, mover of masses and of heads of state. You seriously have not had your fill of those? Want another one?

More like the Buddha, who advocated sapere aude. But yes, I think it's about time for another Martin Luther King. :P

Caution is strongly advisable...

CAVTE, the inscription on Spinoza's gravestone. Beware, indeed. :)

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #108

One could summarize the argument by saying that if God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it, but I think the underlying point is more accurately paraphrased by saying that any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent.
Sorry, but none of this rises to the level of any kind of argument. At best, I can detect some kind of reactionary pressing point, but no complete idea or self-sustaining reasoning.

Let's try to proceed slowly. "If God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it" -- If not these properties, then what other properties and why?

"any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent." -- How did the good get into you so that it can come from you, even will have to come from you? Good by whose definition?

We are fundamentally divided on this issue. For you a philosopher must be a social reformer and activist. You are effectively asking me to be like Martin Luther King or the good old original Martin Luther, a preacher, mover of masses and of heads of state. You seriously have not had your fill of those? Want another one?

More like the Buddha, who advocated sapere aude. But yes, I think it's about time for another Martin Luther King. :P
A global one this time, right? Anything wrong with the Pope? And I am not being silly here. Do you have a shortage of authorities, past and present, spiritual, clerical, political, military, etc? Harris is not good enough, I gather. Why?

Looks like the thing is that you are actually yearning for someone you could unreservedly idolise. Like God, you know. Looking for such among fallible people is a bumpy road to take, but take it, if you must...

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #109
Gods are galore!!!
The favic looks nice!

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #110
Looks like the thing is that you are actually yearning for someone you could unreservedly idolise.

I'm available.
==============================================
On a slightly more serious note, is anybody here aware of a discussion between a person who follows some sort of religion and a person who thinks that religion is bollocks that has led one of them to say, "Damnation, you're right! I'm changing sides now!"

I haven't.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #111
Let's try to proceed slowly. "If God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it" -- If not these properties, then what other properties and why?

[...]

"any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent." -- How did the good get into you so that it can come from you, even will have to come from you? Good by whose definition?

If God sends billions of people to Hell for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time, "good" is not an epithet I would apply. Would you?

Obviously God isn't going to do anything about, say, helping the victims of *insert the latest natural disaster*, whatever the reasons may be.

A global one this time, right? Anything wrong with the Pope? And I am not being silly here. Do you have a shortage of authorities, past and present, spiritual, clerical, political, military, etc? Harris is not good enough, I gather. Why?

Harris is a bit of a xenophobe. The Pope? Let me know when it's a gay woman and I'll think about it.

Looks like the thing is that you are actually yearning for someone you could unreservedly idolise.

Nah, I'd always have Spinoza if I wanted to do that. I actually wanted to write that I think it's about time for another movement in some sense like Dolle Mina, but you'd already brought up Martin Luther King so I figured I'd go with it. And no, it doesn't need to be global. Perhaps it'd be more appropriate somewhere else this time around, like in the Arab world or China. Perhaps the Internet is actually it and we're already witnessing a new Respublica Litteraria. Well, as long as it doesn't all become a Facebook-style walled garden, anyway.

I haven't.
I have. :) It's about planting the seed of doubt; it might take ages to come to fruition. It's also not just about the participants, but also about the onlookers. Admittedly, over here that's slightly less the case.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #112
I have.  It's about planting the seed of doubt; it might take ages to come to fruition.

I grew up in a Catholic family but upon leaving home doubts began to slowly take hold. It took a couple of years before I made the split to something like atheism, then something like agnosticism, until I've finally slipped into cringe mode when I read the Facebook postings of my wife's children, grandchildren and related spouses.

Have you been a godless swine from birth?

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #113
Were you a godless swine from birth?

According to Christians, I suppose. Being Dutch, I gravitated mostly between ietsism, a kind of wishy washy New Ageist agnosticism, and apatheism. However, being Dutch I was also friends with a Jehova's Witness, a few black sockers (a Dutch type of Orthodox Calvinists), more generic Protestants, a  Bahá'í, a Muslim or two, and even a couple of Catholics.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #114

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #115
Most of us here doubt that.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #116

On a slightly more serious note, is anybody here aware of a discussion between a person who follows some sort of religion and a person who thinks that religion is bollocks that has led one of them to say, "Damnation, you're right! I'm changing sides now!"

I haven't.

I have - when Colonel Rebel over at the old site clashed with Bantay. It was with a slight modification: "Damnation, you can't be right! I'm changing sides now!"


If God sends billions of people to Hell for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time, "good" is not an epithet I would apply. Would you?
No, I wouldn't call it good. But when did he do that? I have seen this claim only from hardcore militant atheists - and the likes of Gainsboro Baptist Church. Talk to them. You have a lot in common.


Obviously God isn't going to do anything about, say, helping the victims of *insert the latest natural disaster*, whatever the reasons may be.

But when natural disasters occur, lives must be in danger. Otherwise, how can you call it a natural disaster?

Didn't I explain adequately enough in my long post why and how non-intervention makes sense? It would not make sense to intervene miraculously and destroy causal links in the world. Causal links are how this world makes sense. This is what "makes sense" means. Or is it that when we say "explain" and "to make sense", we mean something totally incompatible with each other?

Seriously, your remarks explain nothing to me. They come out of the blue and change shape all the time. The statements you had earlier were: "If God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it" and "any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent." You did nothing to explain them. You only added other claims without any apparent link.

The first statement looks to me stemming from this idea: "Hey, let's attach some random contradictory properties on God. After all, this is what theologians do, hehe. And then we can declare God is evil or self-contradictory and thus refuted. QED!" If not, please explain.

The second looks like "Let's say that the source of good is anywhere else than God, so God has no reason to exist, hence he doesn't. QED!" If not, please explain.

If I suspect rightly and this is indeed the rationale behind the statements, then imagine Sam Harris applying the same reasoning at his own job: "Okay, here's a nerve cell. Looks like a totally random purposeless thing to me, but here I am getting paid to do something with it, so let's feed it to Mr. Schrödinger's cat. If the cat eats it, we'll say this project has been completed successfully and celebrate. If he doesn't, we'll say we need more funding for research." However, if Harris doesn't work this way in his own area of expertise, but instead approaches matters with a sense of purpose, trying to reveal the links and relations between the object and its surroundings, then on what basis does he adopt a different approach whenever God is the topic? Isn't this like double standards?

It doesn't trouble me if you have different ideas. Differences by themselves don't matter at all. What matters is the consistency, scope, and explanatory power of your ideas. They have to serve a purpose. They have to be workable theories, as complete as possible. For example, for any theory to be relevant in my view, I expect it to ANSWER its own WHY and HOW. If this condition is not met, the theory or statement under scrutiny lacks explanatory power and most likely it also lacks purpose. In such case, either further elaboration is called for or it must be discarded. Which way will it be? 

It doesn't trouble me if you have different ideas. It troubles me when you say things that are not ideas in the first place, You say things that have no context, no source, no aim, things that do not explain anything, things that don't make sense in any way. If you think this is okay, if you think that rationality should take a free fall in you when this topic is brought up, answers must not exist in this area, then, well, point taken. Just that it would be nice of you to say so too. Something like: "Hey, I am just fooling around. Hope you have fun too!"

Well, evidently I must accept that these kinds of explanations work for you. Sorry but they don't for me. This is not a cultural gap. It is a methodical gap, systemic gap.
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-18, 19:52:34 by ersi

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #117
I have - when Colonel Rebel over at the old site clashed with Bantay. It was with a slight modification: "Damnation, you can't be right! I'm changing sides now!"

That explains a lot. You both talk the same language. (I knew I've seen that before!)

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #118
No, I wouldn't call it good. But when did he do that? I have seen this claim only from hardcore militant atheists - and the likes of Gainsboro Baptist Church. Talk to them. You have a lot in common.

I think you mean Westboro. This is the mainstream Protestant God in both its Calvinist and Lutheran incarnations.

But when natural disasters occur, lives must be in danger. Otherwise, how can you call it a natural disaster?

Didn't I explain adequately enough in my long post why and how non-intervention makes sense? It would not make sense to intervene miraculously and destroy causal links in the world. Causal links are how this world makes sense. This is what "makes sense" means. Or is it that when we say "explain" and "to make sense", we mean something totally incompatible with each other?

None of which has anything to do with anything. Talk about remarks coming out of the blue.

Quote
Seriously, your remarks explain nothing to me. They come out of the blue and change shape all the time. The statements you had earlier were: "If God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it" and "any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent." You did nothing to explain them. You only added other claims without any apparent link.

Craig says God is good, yet his God also sends billions of people to hell for no good reason.

God doesn't help victims of a disaster, ergo we must. I could go into more detail, but your longer text above gave me the impression you understood the principle.

The first statement looks to me stemming from this idea: "Hey, let's attach some random contradictory properties on God. After all, this is what theologians do, hehe. And then we can declare God is evil or self-contradictory and thus refuted. QED!" If not, please explain.

The second looks like "Let's say that the source of good is anywhere else than God, so God has no reason to exist, hence he doesn't. QED!" If not, please explain.

Both are obvious straw men. What's there to explain? No atheist has said anything even remotely like that, ever.

It doesn't trouble me if you have different ideas. Differences by themselves don't matter at all. What matters is the consistency, scope, purpose, and explanatory power of your ideas. They have to serve a purpose. They have to be workable theories, as complete as possible. For example, for any theory to be relevant in my view, I expect it to ANSWER its own WHY and HOW. If this condition is not met, the theory or statement under scrutiny lacks explanatory power and most likely it also lacks purpose. In such case, either further elaboration is called for or it must be discarded. Which way will it be?

Well, evidently I must accept that these kinds of explanations work for you. Sorry but they don't for me. This is not a cultural gap. It is a methodical gap, systemic gap.

You're not making much sense. If you want to be informed, a debate is a very bad place to go. Read a book or two. I believe Harris' is called The Moral Landscape.

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #119
"that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world."?

Course not, such phrase is the demonstration of ignorance. Tomas of Aquino has demonstrated why it is wrong centuries ago.
A little bit of reflexion is enough to understand that there's no "incompatibility".
A matter of attitude.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #120

Looks like the thing is that you are actually yearning for someone you could unreservedly idolise.

I'm available.
==============================================
On a slightly more serious note, is anybody here aware of a discussion between a person who follows some sort of religion and a person who thinks that religion is bollocks that has led one of them to say, "Damnation, you're right! I'm changing sides now!"

I haven't.

*raises hand* Me.

Macallan and some others made some very excellent points, back when I still believed, as @Ersi has pointed out to you.
That led to some serious thinking for a while on my part, which led to the lack of beliefs I currently hold.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #121

No, I wouldn't call it good. But when did he do that? I have seen this claim only from hardcore militant atheists - and the likes of Gainsboro Baptist Church. Talk to them. You have a lot in common.

I think you mean Westboro. This is the mainstream Protestant God in both its Calvinist and Lutheran incarnations.

Thanks for correcting the name for me. Sorry for the inconvenience.

So, you say "God sends billions of people to Hell for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time" is mainstream Christianity. Then I suppose it won't be too hard for you to dig up an actual reference for this claim by a theologian you consider mainstream, right?

Also, I note that you make this a case against Christianity rather than against religiousness as such. Christianity is our culturally traditional downtrending religion, already submissive and doesn't resist much. If you think that by refuting one easy victim among religions you refute them all, I disagree. It would be thinking like by refuting Newtonian physics one refutes all physics, or perhaps even all science.

Craig says God is good, yet his God also sends billions of people to hell for no good reason.
Or maybe you didn't listen to the reason. Such as, if good and evil people exist, and God is just, then appropriate reward and punishment for the people also exist. Where would you put Hitler? In heaven? With Hitler there, how can you call it heaven?

The more serious question to you is this: What is a good reason for you? Good according to whom? Good according to hippies? Religions are well-rehearsed in defining good and evil. Let's see you perform better right now.

Of course I am perfectly aware that you won't define anything. As long as this is so, it's dishonest of me to accept any of your judgements that some things are good or evil. You have to make the concepts of good and evil intelligible first, then it will be intelligible to judge. Your judgements thus far are unintelligible.

God doesn't help victims of a disaster, ergo we must. I could go into more detail, but your longer text above gave me the impression you understood the principle.

The principle is that human beings are agents who according to their free will perform good and evil acts, thus defining themselves as good or evil. However, this obviously does not mean that the good, evil, free will, etc. are rooted in the agents severally. The properties and attributes such as free will, capacity to act, etc. are common to the entire humanity and are derived from a common source wherefrom we all acquire.

For example, we have life. We are alive. Does this mean that I have one life and you have a second life, and some other person has a third life? No, life is common to all and it predates us. We can be born because life was already here. We are born into it. The same with free will, etc.

Everybody have parents who enable their birth. We don't enable our own birth. The same way, the entire humanity has a parent or guardian. Without it, the common properties and concepts shared by all humans, such free will, responsibility, good and evil, etc. don't make sense and should provide no topic.

Both are obvious straw men. What's there to explain? No atheist has said anything even remotely like that, ever.
This is what you said and you already saw the questions that I had:

- "If God does exist, he/she/it does not have the properties Craig ascribes to it" -- If not these properties, then what other properties and why?
- "any good will have to come from you--regardless whether God is actually being good, bad, indifferent or nonexistent." -- How did the good get into you so that it can come from you, even will have to come from you? Good by whose definition?

But I don't need these answers any more. You already basically answered by strawmanning Christianity above. If you produce the relevant quote I asked from you, we'd see what you consider mainstream Christianity.

Even though Christianity never was at issue for me. I was seriously interested in how you manage to find these sentences meaningful and purposeful - in the most basic sense, quite apart from any religion.

How does the semantics of these statements work for you? What is the theoretical concept system that provides the background against which you read them? The answer appears to be that since these staments make a mockery of theological definitions, then this is for you a sufficient reason for accepting them, nevermind that at the same go they violate any and all logical definitions, including the rules of scientific terminology and taxonomy. I am simply baffled how this is all okay for you. But okay, I just take note and move on.

You're not making much sense. If you want to be informed, a debate is a very bad place to go. Read a book or two. I believe Harris' is called The Moral Landscape.

First, when I say you don't make sense, I also explain what specifically does not make sense and what further clarifications I require. In your case, you see it often possible to dismiss me without any explanation. When you do not make sense to me, I go about it in a qualitatively different manner.

Second, I define terms all the time. I ask questions. When I pass judgement, I explain the relevant terms. To me it's intellectually dishonest to pass judgement without verifying if the basis of the judgement is intelligible or not. I give answers. I clearly know what I want from this debate. You, on the other hand, never define, you dismiss casually, and your explanations are not even rephrasings, but outright topic-changers.

Third, you refer me to that book, but I am too familiar with it already. The atheist consensus verdict on it is that it alleges to be a moral theory, but isn't. The verdict is supported even by other neoatheists, such as Dennett. The only one who disagrees with the criticism is the author.

Fourth, my aim with this debate was to get to learn about your world view, fairly personally. Harris has nothing to say on this. At least hopefully not too much. Based on the previous points, you see how I have drawn some conclusions that hopefully at least clarify your character, if not much else. As to your world view, it appears to be splintered. Above you casually mentioned something called apathism to Jim. This sounds like it could explain much. I don't feel like being informed about it further, but if I would, another debate with you is precisely the way. Thank you very much.

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #122
Ersi MUST be wrong - just because he "needs" so way too many words to "explain" "the truth".
Once upon a time, there lived Occam. End of the story.

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #123
I would not say that ersi is wrong, just that he cannot claim he is RIGHT.



@ersi - I managed to get some time to read your post and the posts of others that followed it. Many points have been made in reply, but I would like to make some observations.

It's clear that there is a certain amount of mismatch in our discussions of "God" in that you look at the concept from a much wider perspective than do the religions that we use as our basis for agreement/disagreement and belief/disbelief.

Because of our collective background we tend to refer to the God/s of those Religions with which we are passingly familiar, mostly the Abrahamic religions, which supposedly follow the same God at the same time as convincing themselves that only they have THE TRUTH. In that context it is perfectly valid to question such issues as variations, even incompatibilities, in moral attitudes and disenfranchisement of those not born within the boundaries of a particular religion and therefore condemned for all time.

You, on the other hand, describe your "God" concept as being above all that, allowing humans to find their own way and intervening or not (mostly not) in human affairs according to a separate decision process which has nothing to do with human thought or reasoning.

So to some extent we are at cross purposes here. But it is an interesting consequence of your concept of an aloof God that it rather rubbishes the idea of any religion based on its own conception of God. No religion is correct (because correctness is not a human prerogative), nor is it important which one is followed, nor does it matter anyway because "God" will continue to ignore what is done. To assign consequences to acts one needs to enter into religions again, which is a futile act because none can ever be correct.

If one compounds that with the essential infinity of worlds out there with, presumably, many sentient beings then one is not surprised that "God" doesn't bother to intervene in anything, that is assuming that "God" made it all.

However throughout your note, there is the assumption that God exists.  The "Epicurus Dilemma" does not exist if there is no God except as an academic plaything. And so it goes with the rest of your arguments.

The God you describe is a "Virtual God", a construct of imagination and "logical extrapolation" from one supposition to another. That is why I refer to the "Real World" to distinguish it from your construct. We've clashed over the matter of evidence for God, or rather the lack of it, and the answer always amounts to "don't expect physical proof, the proof lies in properly applied reasoning and my reasoning is better than yours, therefore there is a God". I'm sorry but that remains not very convincing.

But, as an agnostic myself (with, I admit, atheist leanings) I am comfortable with the idea of positing alternative God Concepts and exploring what it would mean, as long the result is not put forward as "THE TRUTH", the same as in all those defunct Religions.

Philosophy is a wonderful thing, it allows free rein to thoughts and suppositions and stimulates the imaginations and it can lead to practical, observable, results not least in applied science. However Philosophy is not confined to mental Gymnastics alone.

Finally, you ask: "How is it atheists' business to complain about God they don't believe in anyway?"

Well, you should be the first to acknowledge that all things can legitimately be thought about and argued, but more than that, Religion has been responsible (and still is) for all kind of atrocities and wasted lives. Reason enough I would think.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #124
The huge amount of Philosophy required to make an argument for the existence of God is, by itself, an evidence against it. God should be self-evident.