Quote on suffering

Given all the discussion lately on the topic of suffering, and as I continue to (wait for enough time to) put some finishing touches on a larger article that takes a closer look at that subject, I thought this quote was timely.

“While Western atheists turn from belief in God because a tsunami in another part of the world caused great suffering, many brokenhearted survivors of that same tsunami found faith in God. This is one of the great paradoxes of suffering. Those who don’t suffer much think suffering should keep people from God, while many who suffer a great deal turn to God, not from him.”

Food for thought. http://a315.co/Z5BZu8

Advertisements

About Paul Buller

Just some guy with a variety of eccentric interests.
This entry was posted in Objections, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Quote on suffering

  1. donsevers says:

    Yes, it’s known as Stockholm syndrome.

    • Paul Buller says:

      Thank you, Don, you have inspired me. After your flood of contributions in the past week or two I have finally got around to updating our guidelines. It would be well worth your time to read them and take them seriously if you would like to continue contributing comments at our blog.

      https://whyjesusblog.wordpress.com/welcome-and-guidelines/

      • donsevers says:

        Huh? What have I said?

        I care about ideas and their consequences. I post here because it seems you and I care about some of the same ideas. If you’d like to discuss them with me, great. If not, you don’t need to catch me in an infraction. Just say so, and I’ll go elsewhere.

      • donsevers says:

        Huh? What did I say?

        I care about ideas and their consequences. I’m here because it seems we care about some of the same ideas. If you want to discuss them with me, great. If not, just say so and I’ll go elsewhere. You’re the admin. You don’t need to catch me in an infraction to ban me.

        • Paul Buller says:

          The point is that your initial comment, like too many of your other previous comments, is only half a thought with no explanation. Your conclusion, never mind your premises, are never spelled out, nor are the connections between them. Furthermore, whatever your specific conclusions, it appears clear that you are equating God with a hostage taker. In the absence of a clear line of reasoning this smells precisely like drive-by philosophy with a dash of rhetorical flourish aimed at making God look like the bad guy. This adds absolutely nothing to the conversation.

          On the other hand your second response is a delightful example of what a positive contribution to a conversation ought to look like. You spell out your argument, clarify your line of reasoning, and explain yourself in a way that is fairly easily understood. It also lacks any apparent attempt to paint God as the bad guy without proper justification. Nobody opposes you saying God is the bad guy, just make an effort to back it up, that’s all.

          It is obvious that you are capable of having a healthy, respectful conversation. I would be delighted to have you continue to contribute to the comments, so long as you continue to keep the bar high. We all know you are capable.

          And, no, I will not exercise raw power simply because I am an admin. If you get banned it will be because of an infraction, not in spite of one. Keep the bar high and we’re all good.

          • donsevers says:

            >is only half a thought with no explanation.

            My first post was sent from my college commencement exercises. BA in Phil, Drake.

            I elaborated later when I was at my PC at home.

            You have nothing to fear from incomplete thoughts. We all post them. I enjoy the challenge of making my point in fewer words when I’m mobile. If you’re unclear on something, all you have to do is ask for elaboration. No high dudgeon required.

            • Paul Buller says:

              “You have nothing to fear from incomplete thoughts.” And I would suggest you add little or nothing to the conversation with incomplete thoughts. Wait until you get home, spend some time and respond with a bit of clarity that isn’t going to leave everybody scratching their heads. You may enjoy the challenge of making your point in few words but it leaves everybody else with the challenge of figuring out what the heck you meant. We then have to further waste our time asking questions of elaboration when you could have just been clearer from the start.

              I am asking politely, please refrain from knowingly posting incomplete thoughts. Nobody minds if you wait a day or two until you have time to properly address a point. Patience is a virtue, after all.

              • donsevers says:

                Please notice that you are changing the subject. You can do that, but the intent of the post has been lost. I’d like to bring it back:

                The idea that God is an abuser and hostage-taker is a common one among atheists, and many Christian apologists who engage atheists are aware of it.

                Alcorn’s comment is about the state of mind of the strawmen “Western atheists” and “many who suffer a great deal”. Their states of mind give us information about them, not God, so Alcorn’s quote is irrelevant to God’s character. Concerning the Problem of Evil, the appropriate response to Alcorn is, “So what?” In this light, my first post was too long.

                Stockholm syndrome shows how wrong-headed Alcorn really is regarding the Problem of Evil. It is well-known that hostages sometimes wish to stay with their abusers. So what if ‘many who suffer’ turn to God? This shows only that they are attached to their abuser.

                To engage the Problem of Evil, we have to address God’s character. “Could he do better?” is all that is at issue. How frail, frightened humans react to God’s treatment is irrelevant.

  2. donsevers says:

    My point on this post was this: God set up natural law. The way he configured natural law determined how much and what kinds of suffering are possible. People drown easily. There is no contradiction in the idea that God could have made humans much more waterproof. Since he could have and didn’t, he is implicated in all accidental drowning deaths.

    Stockholm syndrome occurs when people bond with their captors. Since they are captive, their captors are their only source of comfort. So, even though they are victims of their captors, they have no choice but to also seek comfort from them. It’s sad but a predictable part of human nature. We need other people, even when the only people in our lives are abusers.

    This seems to happen in religious faith. Here’s just one example:

    http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eliselambert

    This mother is losing her child to cancer. She leans on God for support, even though she knows God could cure her child. It’s wrenching. As a former Christian, it is one of the high costs of faith that led me away from God.

    • Paul Buller says:

      You may shake your head at those who seek comfort from God in times of trouble, like the mother who is losing her child to cancer, but did you actually read the story? The child was given 6-18 months to live and has survived three years so far! I spent a bit of time skimming through their journal entries and I am amazed by how many times words like “blessed,” “happy,” “great,” “awesome” and so on come up. They talk about laughter and smiles; things we might not notice in our mundane, cancer-free, lives. The looming reality of death in their little girl has given far greater significance and richness to those three years of their lives than most other people will ever experience during their entire 80 years or so on this earth.

      Can you not see the beauty in that? Everybody dies some day, but this child and her family have discovered a richness to life that most of us could never fathom. Because of the ever-present reality of death, life now means a whole lot more. That is somewhat similar to what our family has been going through, even though my wife has survived and is napping comfortably upstairs right now. Is a life saturated with a deeper and richer love (even if it is a shorter life) not morally good? In fact, is that not a moral good that would only be possible in a situation such as theirs?

      Everybody dies, but this little girl’s life will have been far richer than the lives of most other human beings precisely because of the circumstances of her upcoming death. Brevity with significance is better than longevity with indifference.

      • donsevers says:

        >The looming reality of death in their little girl has given far greater significance and richness to those three years of their lives than most other people will ever experience during their entire 80 years or so on this earth.

        This approach means God is weak or constrained in some way.

        God’s omnipotence means that he COULD give that family any richness he desires in any way at all. He would never have to play with a little girl’s life to do it.

        Are all the families whose kids grow up in good health deprived in some way? Nick Vujicic says having no arms and legs is a gift. Well, I don’t see people lopping their limbs off to get their own blessings.

        No, this sort of thing is post-hoc rationalization. Humans are great at capitalizing on a bad situation and getting some good out of it. But we never induce suffering, especially in someone else’s little kid, to get those benefits.

        If we could find God, we’d have to throw him in jail. This poor family has no other source of comfort than the guy who saw to it that their daughter got a brainstem tumor, while sparing almost every other child the same fate.

        To say playing with her life is a gift is simply to deny suffering, saying ‘Some suffering is the only way to get some really wonderful things!’ The ONLY way? You make God too small. He could do better. In fact, he does do better, for all the kids who don’t have brainstem tumors.

        • Paul Buller says:

          “Concerning the Problem of Evil, the appropriate response to Alcorn is, “So what?””

          To which I imagine he might point out that there is a world of difference between being an armchair quarterback and actually staring down a defensive line. It’s easy to snipe from the sidelines, not so easy to actually get in the game. Alcorn is simply pointing out that actually suffering provides a perspective that those who sit in the comforts of their safe homes and wax eloquent about the suffering of others simply do not have. Those who suffer are not stupid, but they reach conclusions that are vastly different from the sideliners.

          “Stockholm syndrome shows how wrong-headed Alcorn really is regarding the Problem of Evil.” Your use of Stockholm Syndrome is as misguided as your previous use of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. First of all, the captors have no intention of winning the hearts of the captives. That’s is a bizarre side effect, not their goal. To claim this is God’s goal immediately makes the comparison invalid. It’s not like the captors go into this looking for love. Second, you are (once again) trying to anthropomorphize God. As I explained before there are expectations we have of God that we would NEVER expect of other humans; expectations that you strongly implied you also have. He is in a unique position that no other human enjoys. To assign labels of human phenomenon to God (not a human) is inherently misguided as I previously explained.

          “Could he do better?” Define “better.” I assume you are still pining for the effortless-maximized-pleasure world I previously described that you conveniently evaded and dismissed as an “odd question.” It’s not in the least bit odd, it’s perfectly legitimate. You don’t like this world, offer an alternative. Justify your alternative. It takes no great courage to criticize God, it takes unprecedented courage to actually propose a better alternative and allow that alternative to be subjected to scrutiny. All I’ve seen from you is a constant stream of “God could do better,” “God could have been kinder,” “God should be put in jail” without a single attempt to take seriously the question of what the alternative ought to look like. I have offered the only alternative that I think your objections will allow you to embrace as a “morally acceptable world;” defend it or come up with something better. Stop criticizing, start being serious about how this world should have looked.

          Is it any wonder movie critics are almost never movie directors? Get behind the camera and let’s see what you can come up with. No need to rush a response; I’m patient.

  3. donsevers says:

    >It’s not like the captors go into this looking for love.
    Some do. Read the news. Spurned boyfriends do it every day.

    Besides, if someone takes me hostage or allows me to be tortured, I don’t care if they are seeking my love. It’s not loving to allow someone to be drowned. God needs to back up his claim of love with loving actions.

    And if we say God is loving no matter what he does, then ‘loving’ means nothing.

    >Define “better.”

    Better is the kind of things doctors do. The way your wife was recently treated in the hospital, for instance.

    >I previously described that you conveniently evaded and dismissed as an “odd question.”

    That’s not all I said. I also pointed out that God created a perfect world before The Fall. And he intends to restore paradise at the end of time.

    But we can’t blame earth’s horrors on The Fall because God determined the consequences for The Fall. He could have been harsher and he could have been kinder. Sure, man is sinful. But God could have caused the wages of sin to accrue to each sinner, rather than to flow down the generations, to future infants with heart defects, for example.

    >It takes no great courage to criticize God

    My courage has nothing to do with it. God’s actions and inactions speak for themselves. He would fail to meet the normal human definition of ‘loving’ even if I didn’t exist.

    >without a single attempt to take seriously the question of what the alternative ought to look like.

    I have provided alternatives: God’s own pre-Fall world and Heaven.

    After your scoldings, I’m tempted to chide you for not reading my earlier posts carefully, but I won’t. You and I and our failings are not the topic! God’s character is at issue. It is possible to discuss ideas without commenting on the personalities of the speakers. I think the present topic deserves the whole stage.

    • Paul Buller says:

      “I have provided alternatives: God’s own pre-Fall world and Heaven. ”

      And I have explained, previously, how your theology is flawed. You may be tempted to scold me for not reading earlier posts but the reality is that I did read and respond, albeit briefly.

      You keep bringing it back to “God’s character is at issue” which I do not deny, but how one interprets God’s character will be directly connected to their concept of what they think God ought to have done instead of this. You only ever hint at an answer but never address it seriously and I think the reason you keep sidestepping the issue is because you can foresee the conundrum that attempting to answer the question puts you in. You keep saying that God “could have been kinder” after the Fall. Fine, so imagine that a woman’s pain in childbirth was 80% of what it is now. That is kinder, by definition so is God off the hook? No, because he could have been kinder yet. 50%? Still, He could have been kinder. 10%? Not there yet. 0%. That would seem to be the kindest possible response, but no, it is not. Instead of pain, and instead of a total lack of pain, God “could have been kinder” by making childbearing pleasurable. What if having a child was an experience even more enjoyable than the process by which a woman becomes pregnant in the first place? Well, it’s hard to imagine how God could have been kinder than that!

      What if that one child you talked about who is dying of cancer wasn’t dying of cancer. Could God have been kinder? Still, yes, because there are other kids dying of cancer. Ok, so what if no kids died of cancer? God still “could have been kinder” because adults still die of cancer. Ok, so what if nobody died of cancer? Still not there, in a “kinder” world nobody would even get cancer. Ok, so we eliminate cancer. God still “could have been kinder” by eliminating other diseases. Ok, so we get rid of all diseases. Now we’ve got it.

      But what about that person who drowned, suppose they never drowned? Not good enough; other people drown therefore God “could have been kinder.” Ok, so what if nobody ever drowned? Still not good enough, people die of other means. Alright, so what if nobody ever died of any reason? Now we’ve got it!

      But people still experience unpleasantness. Sometimes I get a cramp in my leg, I get headaches, I even get hangnails. Frankly, God “could have been kinder.” Alright, so what if God eliminated all pain of any kind? Better, but still, God “could have been kinder.” How? Because, like the earlier example of the woman in labor, even if I am not experiencing pain I am not necessarily experiencing pleasure. Alright, so what if God created the world with a lot of pleasure in it. Still, he “could have been kinder.” Alright, absolute pleasure, all the time, for every single human being. No pain, no discomfort, no death or disease. Now we’re there. Finally. This is the only logically possible world in which it could not be said that God “could have been kinder.”

      The alternative world that I proposed was not some abstract (or even “odd” as you dismissively called it) mental exercise but was, frankly, the logical conclusion of the line of reasoning you keep relying on. Even in the Garden of Eden and in the New Earth (I’ll explain this a second time) we had responsibilities and we had to work for our food. Those are quite likely just two examples of various forms of “pain” that we had to endure (nothing like here, obviously, but still not effortless-perpetual-bliss either). After Jesus rose from the dead his body was a foreshadow of what we can expect and he still ate food. Therefore we will need to eat. Before you go misinterpreting Revelation recall that it speaks in metaphorical language, so when it says it will eliminate pain, that represents real suffering, not merely feeling a little famished. Genre is everything.

      This is why the effortless-perpetual-bliss alternative is the only logical conclusion one can draw from your demand that “God could have been kinder.” As soon as you define God’s character one-dimensionally through the simplistic concept of “kindness” and you filter everything in this life through that one parameter then you logically end up with the alternative that I described. It’s simply a matter of definitions.

  4. donsevers says:

    >This is why the effortless-perpetual-bliss alternative is the only logical conclusion one can draw from your demand that “God could have been kinder.”

    Excellent point but easily remedied. Christianity should say God is only maximally kind, or as kind as he can be, not that he is infinitely kind. That would be impossible even for God.

    So, all we need to ask is “Is God as kind as he can be?”

    Well, humans reduce suffering with Tylenol. If we can do it, it seems God could.

  5. donsevers says:

    It helps to look at it this way: God left some horrors out of creation, right? We can’t kill with only our thoughts. He could have given us this power, but didn’t, yet we still have free will. God could have made the world to be more horrible than it is.

    Likewise, he could have made it a little better. We know he could have because new diseases crop up from time to time. Since he DID make a world without that disease initially, it seems he could have made a world without it entirely.

    And we don’t have to worry about the slippery slope of endless improvement, because that slope ends in ‘maximal goodness’.

    Is the present world the best God could do? No, it has AIDS in it, which has killed thousands of innocent infants. We know God could have set things up so that AIDS did not kill innocent kids because he DID set up that world. It was our world prior to 1970.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/don-severs/the-lucky-people/10150368609164005

    • Paul Buller says:

      “Christianity should say God is only maximally kind…” Even a maximally kind God could have made any world other than the effortless-perpetual-bliss world “kinder” according to your definition. That move remedies nothing. You still end up with the effortless-perpetual-bliss world I described even if you change the question to, “Is God as kind as he can be?”

      “And we don’t have to worry about the slippery slope of endless improvement, because that slope ends in ‘maximal goodness’. ” – define maximal goodness. Does maximal goodness include any trace of suffering at all? Does maximal goodness include the death of even a single person? Is there even a single disease in a world of “maximal goodness?” Will a single person ever have to work for their food in a “maximally good” world? Will a “maximally good” world include any effort, challenge or difficulty? If so, what makes that world “maximally good” relative to world without any of that (assuming we are working with your standard of measure for “good”)? Just saying that the slippery slope problem disappears does not cause it to disappear.

  6. donsevers says:

    >Just saying that the slippery slope problem disappears does not cause it to disappear.

    Well, it is at least possible for God to be maximally good, whatever that turns out to be. It isn’t possible for him to be infinitely good, or ever-better, as you pointed out. So, that’s progress. We can rule that out.

    Leibniz concluded that a perfect God could ONLY create one world, the best one. So our world MUST be the best he could do. He was ridiculed for that view, but IF God is perfect, it seems he must be right.

    What he didn’t consider was that there might not be a god. Removing God solves the Problem of Suffering. On naturalism, suffering is natural and it’s expected. We humans do our best to help each other, but we can only do so much, and we often don’t even do our best.

    But if God exists and set up the food chain, then he’s a sadist. UNLESS he could do no better. So, there is one way out for God:

    THIS present world is the best God can do. Every instance of suffering is already at the minimum. Because he is perfectly compassionate, he spends a lot of time weeping with us, impotent to help us because that would be against his nature. In this view, humans who reduce suffering are only doing so because of their fallen nature! They are making this world deviate from perfection, so they are actually doing harm. The best things humans can do in this scenario is to lie motionless until they die.

    The world in this view is not impossible, but I can find no reason to believe it is true. It is one of the endpoints in our search for a God who fits the facts. What we end up with is a locked-in, bystander God who can only watch willful humans act out subject to natural law. Humans have more freedom than God because we are not constrained by perfect goodness.

    Any god is either too weak to reduce suffering further, or doesn’t care to. There are no other options I am aware of.

    • Paul Buller says:

      “It isn’t possible for him to be infinitely good, or ever-better, as you pointed out.” – Excuse me? Is this like the time when you started responding to the idea that the world is maximally evil even though nobody said that? Please be more cautious in representing what I actually say.

      And you still have not defined a “maximally good” world. So I will ask again the same questions that I asked before. Does maximal goodness include any trace of suffering at all? Does maximal goodness include the death of even a single person? Is there even a single disease in a world of “maximal goodness?” Will a single person ever have to work for their food in a “maximally good” world? Will a “maximally good” world include any effort, challenge or difficulty? If so, what makes that world “maximally good” relative to world without any of that (assuming we are working with your standard of measure for “good”)?

      Still waiting…

      • donsevers says:

        Maximally good would look something like earth before the fall.

        • Paul Buller says:

          So a morally good God would have created the Garden of Eden.

          God did create the Garden of Eden.

          Ok, well I guess we’re done here.

          • donsevers says:

            Well, we would be done if God had stopped with Eden. But more about his character was revealed by The Fall. There are many ways he could have been kinder after The Fall while still being Just:

            1. Sin could accrue to each person. It is immoral to punish the children for the parents’ crimes if it can be avoided.
            2. God could have expelled only the sinners and let the others stay, or even created additional Adams and Eves in Eden.

            And all this is taking the Bible at its word. If we value science, we have to notice that animals suffered horrendously before man even arrived on the scene. Their suffering could not even serve the purpose of helping us to become more compassionate because man didn’t exist yet.

            The buck stops with God. I know your predicament. I gave up my faith grudgingly, and only after I saw the options:

            1. Believe and follow God and accept the suffering of my fellows. Keep the first great commandment.

            2. Believe and reject God for the sake of my neighbors. Keep the second great commandment. Hope God will let me serve water in hell, and work for parole for Gandhi and Buddha.

            3. Call God’s bluff. Live in the natural world, accept my mortality and that humans have only each other.

            • Paul Buller says:

              So, just to be clear, then, you don’t actually have any problems with a world in which we have to work for our food (and therefore might feel famished on occasion), a world in which we are assigned duties and responsibilities instead of sitting around all day, a world with some elements of discomfort (after all, God “multiplied” Eve’s pain in childbearing – Gen 3:16), and most importantly, a world in which we have authentic moral freedom and the opportunity to exercise that freedom with no undue limitations on whether we choose right or wrong.

              You are ok with this world? We can deal with God’s response to our moral choices and stuff about animals later, but you kind of breezed over the part where you agree that God was morally justified to create precisely the world that he did create. I’m just clarifying some common ground here.

              • donsevers says:

                I’ve always been interested in philosophy, but only in the last several years have I disciplined my thinking. For me, part of the discipline of thinking clearly has been giving up the need to hold a position. It’s enough to examine one position after another and notice its consequences.

                It seems to me that, if I am interested in the truth, I had better not hold on to any view very firmly.

                So, this thread has a topic and it’s not me, so my own view is irrelevant. In fact, I’m not even sure if I have one. I am interested in what gods are possible, which ones fit the facts, etc. In that search, what seems to be the case to me has changed many times. Usually, I make progress by ruling something out, not by finding solid ground. In any case, what I find acceptable at a given moment is wildly unimportant.

                It is possible to discuss ideas and their relations without considering personalities at all. That’s what I’m interested in.

                • Paul Buller says:

                  “For me, part of the discipline of thinking clearly has been giving up the need to hold a position.” If you don’t even have a position on the subject then we haven’t anything further to discuss. Good luck in your philosophy and congrats on your graduation.

                  • donsevers says:

                    >If you don’t even have a position on the subject then we haven’t anything further to discuss.

                    That doesn’t follow at all. If it did, we could ONLY talk about views we actually held!

                    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

                  • donsevers says:

                    And please notice that I didn’t say I held any views. I said I may not have a view on the issue you specified.

                    • donsevers says:

                      This should say:

                      And please notice that I didn’t say I didn’t hold any views. I said I may not have a view on the issue you specified.

              • donsevers says:

                So, let me rephrase your question:

                “Would God be considered as kind as he could be in the pre-Fall earth?”

                My answer is I don’t know. To say “yes”, there would have to be constraints on God (his nature, e.g.) that prevented him from creating us in the blissful, pleasurable state you described earlier. That’s not impossible. But absent such constraints, we can imagine a world that is better than pre-Fall earth. But it is possible that God couldn’t do better.

                But this much is solid: It does not seem possible that God could not have done better in his reaction to The Fall. Even taking into account his nature as a perfectly Just being, it is hard to see why he had to punish future infants and animals because of Adam’s sin.

                Leibniz worked backwards from the conclusion that God is maximally good, so this earth has to be the best of all possible worlds. In my inquiry, that view is not fixed.

                But in Christianity, it is fixed. God is omnibenevolent, all-loving, maximally loving or whatever. I would agree that the pre-Fall earth, as I understand it, is closer to the best God could do.

  7. donsevers says:

    If you want to end this conversation, you can do so at any time. Simply don’t reply. Don’t feel that you have to have a reason! Life is precious and you can spend it in any way you like. I’m just another weak human groping for the truth.

    But if these ideas matter to you, you won’t be able to stop thinking about them. That’s my predicament!

    • Paul Buller says:

      It’s not about me wanting to end the conversation, but from a purely pragmatic point of view I see no motivation to continue. If you don’t hold a position on this issue then you have nothing to offer. By definition. All you could possibly do is snipe from the sidelines and criticize but you just don’t have anything of value to contribute as an alternative.

      Maybe I’m too practical-minded but I understand philosophy as the “love of wisdom.” The very concept implies there is something there to be loved. An object of our affection if you will. The scepticism you’ve been offering is strictly about eliminating possible truth claims but it is not about offering any truth claim. It gets us no closer to something that we might consider wisdom; something we might love. Without some truth claim that is being put forward there is nothing there about which we could decide whether it warrants our love.

      Because this is horridly off topic I’ll just end by saying that I am quite happy to continue the conversation the moment you begin your reply with, “I now have a position, here it is, here is my justification for it and I am ready to defend it.” You are welcome to post just about anything you like (keep it respectful, etc) but I am completely unmotivated to engage in anything that lacks any substance at all. If your approach is nothing more than to offer a philosophical black hole then I will politely decline.

      Cheers.

      • donsevers says:

        >If you don’t hold a position on this issue then you have nothing to offer.

        Would you say this to a judge before a trial? No. It is precisely because he doesn’t already hold a position that he is qualified to be a judge.

        One of the reasons I discuss things is to refine my position. What my position is at a given moment is dreadfully uninteresting and irrelevant to God’s character.

        Hume identified two main kinds of statements:

        1. Matters of fact, like all swans are white.
        2. Relations of ideas, like all bachelors are unmarried.

        Neither require that we hold a position. We can make both types of statements without committing. In fact, committing in advance of discussion gives the impression that I am not persuadable. And I am. I am open to God, I just haven’t yet found one worth worshiping. I am genuinely trying to find out the facts about any possible god. So, I’m discussing what any creator god must be like, given the facts of creation.

        You can limit your discussions to opinions of people. But then you’re just swatting flies. I’m interested in things that are true whether anyone believes them or not.

        I think God’s character is a very important topic. But it’s your page.

        • donsevers says:

          >Neither require that we hold a position
          oops, this should read:

          The first type does not require us to hold a position. We can keep an open mind while investigating.

          The second type are necessarily true, by definition. Here’s one:

          IF God is all-powerful, then he could have created a world with less suffering in it than we observe in this world.

          • Paul Buller says:

            “One of the reasons I discuss things is to refine my position.” – So now you do have a position?!?! Do tell. And if your position is,

            “IF God is all-powerful, then he could have created a world with less suffering in it than we observe in this world.”

            … then yes, that is a dreadfully uninteresting position precisely because it is a truism. Nobody, not even Christian Theists, deny that self-evident fact. The interesting question is not “could” but “should.” Do you have a position on that? If so please explain, justify and defend.

            And if you do not have a position on that then we are still done here. It would be unreasonable to demand that everybody think that have everything figured out before a conversation can begin, obviously, but if one’s only contribution to the conversation is a constant tearing down of other people’s perspectives without any serious effort to offer a viable alternative, then that is simply time-wasting no matter how shiny the packaging.

            • donsevers says:

              >then that is simply time-wasting

              What? Eliminating ideas is gold! If we can rule out an option, that is real progress. Much of philosophy proceeds by narrowing the field by ruling out impossible positions, or positions that don’t fit the facts.

              If we are interested in the truth, we will welcome snipers. Even drive-by trolls are right some of the time. Yes, they’re annoying. But if we’re after the truth, we still have to evaluate each claim they make. When Hitler said 2+2=4, it was still true. There are no bad sources, only bad claims.

            • donsevers says:

              >“IF God is all-powerful, then he could have created a world with less suffering in it than we observe in this world.”

              This isn’t MY position. It’s a position and I’m pointing it out. It is a Type 2 idea (relations of ideas). That means it holds for everyone. It’s a necessary relation. But it is one that is not often heard from the believers I know. It’s vitally important, especially for theists, that it is brought out. Here’s why:

              If we follow a God who abandons our fellows, we are doing what Jesus told us to do in Luke 14:26. We are choosing God over our fellows. IF we value our human family, this is a ghastly betrayal. But it is one that theists can not avoid. It is a Sophie’s Choice, and if it was not necessary for God, then it is even worse.

            • donsevers says:

              >The interesting question is not “could” but “should.” Do you have a position on that?

              Again, we can evaluate the situation regardless of what my view is. Not all claims are compatible with one another. So, no matter what I think, if a given claim is true, it says something about other claims. Some will be compatible with it and some will not.

              So, SHOULD God create a world with less suffering? That depends on your other values. If we value kindness, then Yes, God should reduce suffering where he can.

              WLC says that happiness is not the purpose of life under Christianity. But it could be. God COULD have created a world where the happiness of his creations is paramount. He just didn’t.

              So, whether God should reduce suffering depends on what we value.

              • donsevers says:

                But choose carefully. Under WLC’s view, Goodness loses all meaning. Because whatever God does is deemed ‘good’, ‘good’ can mean anything. So, it means nothing.

                Christianity requires us to follow God no matter what decisions he has made or will made. That kind of blank check is not something we can sign and remain moral ourselves. If we follow such a god, we are following mere power, because goodness has lost all meaning.

                The remedy is to hold God to some standard of goodness, other than himself. By every standard of goodness I have heard of, God comes out looking like a controlling boyfriend, demanding our love and punishing us for turning him down. He uses children to teach other people lessons. Kant said we should never use a person as a means to an end, that people are ends in themselves. I agree with him. But God doesn’t.

  8. donsevers says:

    Perhaps we’re at a good stopping point. Readers can learn more by listening to Wm Lane Craig’s debates or googling ‘theodicy’. Here’s a good place to start:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/don-severs/no-one-was-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-religion/10150354124964005

    Yahweh of the OT was odious but sort of believable. But then Jesus said God is Love. That idea appeals to our wish for a comforting father god but is agonizingly at odds with the facts on the ground:

  9. Paul Buller says:

    Don, I removed your “usual signoff” for a number of reasons. First the majority of it was horribly off topic. Second it was an example of unadulterated proselytizing. I fully endorse free speech and I would encourage you to get a blog or something. I know you already write notes at Facebook. In fact, I so encourage free speech that I will help you set up a wordpress blog if you would like assistance. I don’t know the other blogging programs.

    But you are a guest here. Your comments are supposed to contribute to a conversation in the comment box instead of you turning it into a soap box. If you want to rant about your opinions you are more than welcome to, by using your own internet resources, but it is stunningly undignified to leech off the internet resources of others in order to advance your personal agenda at their expense.

    All future comments from you will be held for moderation. Any comments that do not contribute to whatever conversation we are having will be deleted. You can post such comments at your own blog but you will stop abusing ours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s