Religion's worst nightmares:
Last edited by Bluto Blutarsky; 5/10/2006 10:16am at .
I was in a Christian bookstore once (don't ask) and I saw some DVDs about animals that could not have possibly evolved naturally. Although the examples they used were pretty much perfect examples of evolution in action.
Originally Posted by JohnnyCache
So I punched someone and knocked out the entire store.
Intelligent design morons are up there on my pet peeve list.
Here is a brief of the arguement (its only thing I had saved on my comp):
The Supreme Automaton
One of the favorite topics of debate for philosophers is the topic of free will. Free will seems to be a key idea when discussing the problem of evil and moral responsibility. Without people being free to choose their actions it would seem we canít hold them morally responsible or evil could be present because God wanted humans to have free will and be able to make choices. According to Judaism, God created man in his image. I argue that this statement suggests that humans cannot have free will because God Himself does not have free will. Before understanding this argument, it is vital to discuss what exactly the qualities of God.
The normative western conception of God involves a being that is moral, personal, perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omni-benevolent among other things. For this argument the only three qualities of God we need are omnipotence, omni-benevolence and perfect. Omni-benevolence means that God is completely and entirely a good being. Omnipotence holds that no task is outside of Godís ability. Perfection means the being is complete but also entails that it is the best of its kind. It is a common belief that Godís omnipotence is limited in that he cannot do anything against his nature (or against logic but this is irrelevant for this argument). This seems to be stated and then simply passed over without other thought. There are consequences for holding this belief. Since God is omni-benevolent that means any action he performs must be a good action and since God is perfect this means any action he performs must be the best action. This means that God must perform the best good action possible and since he is omnipotent he will always have the ability to perform the best good action. This means that for any action God performs there was only one possible choice he could have made due to his nature and he will always have the ability to make that choice. This seems to go against the concept of free will. If God can only make one choice then it does not seem that he really made any choice. Furthermore, if God created humankind in his image then it should follow that humans are not free either.
The concept that Godís omnipotence is limited by his nature seems to create an image of God in which God does not possess a free will. This directly leads to the conclusion that if God does not possess free will, then those created in his image cannot possess free will either. Judaism does seem to try to claim humankind, by definition, has free will but this is an argument for a separate paper.
Very basic arguement. Enjoy.
My friend was talking about this in class a few days ago. He said it was ridiculous... but wow...
Any time people bring up questions out theological impossibilities regarding God I end up defending God, and I'm an atheist.
Of course, I also disbelieve in free will, so perhaps I'm just determined to do so.
God, being omnipotent, would not have his omnipotence threatened by either not being able to do something logically impossible (make a round square) because omnipotence only requires God to be able to exercise all possible powers. Making a round square is an impossible thing, and no being could have this power. Hence, it removes nothing from God's actual power to say that he can't make a round square.
Similarly, if God has a "nature," and by nature we mean a predisposition to do some things and not others, God has still not limited his omnipotence by not doing certain things. Let's say that it is God's nature to eat strawberry ice cream and not chocolate. The eating of strawberry ice cream is a possible power, and so is eating chocolate ice cream. However, God is not actually forbidden from eating chocolate ice cream -- he just chooses not to because he does not like it.
Now, if we add another stipulation -- that God cannot do something against his nature -- then it would seem that we have truly put a restraint on God's omnipotence. But God choosing not to do something and never deviating from this choice is functionally equivalent to God not being able to do something -- the two are indistinguishable.
As for God's free will, there's a problem with the definition of "free will." If we take a Hobbesian definition (which is a cop-out and no one should ever take Hobbes' arguments about determinism or compatibilism seriously), then God's will is free as long as God never has to act contra his own desires. Thus, if God always desires to do the what he does, his free will has not been violated. You raise an interesting point about God's omnibenevolence and omnipotence -- if God is restricted to always doing what is maximally good, can he be said to be maximally powerful? The answer, under a Hobbesian analysis, is yes. However, this doesn't escape the criticisms of the logical problem of evil, which I think are fatal to this type of argument.
If we take a libertarian definition of free will, then God has to always be able to act other than he did. But there is a problem regarding God and contingent acts, and God's omniscience. As a rational actor, I know what I am going to do before I do it. I rarely wake up at the grocery store and think, "Wow! I never knew I was going to the grocery store!" All premeditated action requires foreknowledge. God's knowledge, if he is omniscient, is perfect. This includes foreknowledge of his own actions. So, if God has foreknowledge of his own actions, then God cannot be mistake about what he is going to do. Hence, every action by God is a necessary consequence of what God knows in advance he will do.
Since God's foreknowledge is eternal by the standard definition of omniscience, then God knows what he is going to do at all points in time. Hence, God cannot change what he is going to do or else violate 1) his divine foreknowledge of self-action and 2) the necessity of his action which results from that foreknowledge. Therefore, God does not possess libertarian free will.
I think your argument was using the libertarian definition, and this is as it should be. Compatibilism and Hobbesian definitions are stupid, because that kind of "free will" isn't really free. It's just "free from impediments."
The best discussion of free will is found in Hume's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding." The idea of indeterminism is incoherent, because every choice that an actor makes is conditioned at least partly in response to some happening. My decision to eat is not made in a vaccuum -- it is made because I am hungry. Is my freedom of will broached by my feeling hungry? I contend that my choice to eat was necessitated by how I felt earlier -- hungry. But for my hunger, I would not have eaten. Therefore, my hunger caused me to eat. While this does not necessitate that every time I am hungry, I will eat, it does mean that my will was not truly "free" from anything which might condition it. Even if I "choose" to ignore my hunger, I have to do so for some reason. No choice is ever made without at least a pretext of reasoning, no matter how illogical. Therefore, I contend, nothing man does is ever "indetermined."
The logical conclusion to this is to see our action as part of a causal system, where each event in the system is a necessary result brought on by a sufficient cause.
Let's call a truce. Because this whole relgion as science; science as supreme truth needs to stop. All Jesus freaks think they have a unified theory of god: keep it to yourself. I hang my head in shame for all believers every where. Kirk, what are doing to yourself?
Last edited by mrblackmagic; 5/10/2006 8:54pm at .
Actually I have another paper discussing "divine foreknowledge", however; whether the paper works or not completely depends on your view of God and time. The end result of the paper is the term divine foreknowledge doesn't mean what you think it does because God can never have foreknowledge or a memory. Nice post btw Arahoushi.
You are very good at making me feel dumb.
Originally Posted by Arahoushi
Just thought I would let ya know.
SFE -- I can't claim credit for that.
Don't thank me. Thank Cory Juhl and Bryan Register at UT Austin. They taught me my religious philosophy.
Shaolinz -- are you at UT?
At any rate, I'm assuming you're using the God-is-outside-of-time argument? That God, because of his unique position of an eternally perfect being, exists equally at all points in time and so God always has present knowledge of everything no matter where in time we as finite beings are located?
I've used this argument with some success, but it is full of paradocies. First, the argument only looks attractive in light of cosmological arguments, which are all fatally flawed because they contain the assumption that everything has a definite beginning.
Second, this model of divine knowledge actually hampers omniscience. God only knows everything that's true at a present moment; but God is equally present at all moments for any given moment. This means that God knows some things that are false at our current moment, but aren't false for God because he's bi-located in at least the present moment and some moment where a fact is true. Consider the proposition, "It is May 10th." God knows this on May 10th, but God will also know it tomorrow, since God is still present at May 10th, even though you and I will be located at May 11th. So we'd have to say, at May 11th, that from our position God knows something that is false. This superficially imposes two time-scales, one relative to us (and epistemology is the study of knowledge, especially human knowledge) and one absolute that only God is subject to. Thus, while "yesterday was May 10th" is true for us, it's NOT true for God since for God the concept of "yesterday" is incoherent, since God doesn't notice the changing of time since he is present at every when.
In short, that model of divine existence as outside of time solves a cosmological problem, but it creates other problems when we try to say that God can't have advance or remembered knowledge, especially when remembered knowledge is such a huge component of epistemology, and advance knowledge is the aim of the natural sciences.
The best way to get around objections to omniscience, in my opinion, is to state that God, by having a perfect mind, is able to correctly surmise the outcome of the totality of states of affairs. God is the perfect designer of a deterministic system, and his inferences about what will happen are never wrong. It's a bit of a cop-out answer, and it will lock someone in to an absolutely determined universe, but as Einstein said, "God does not play dice."
All conjecture on the nature of God is just that.
My theory on the creation of this universe and all life in it is that it was authored by a super-being's retarded stepson as he muddled through his create-a-world chemistry set.
My theory is that this "God" is not omnipresent, omnibenevolent or omni-anything and is subject to the same laws of nature that we are.
Furthermore, we have merely created our image of God as a pathetic attempt to explain why the seemingly good creatures get gobbled up by all the bad ones and then even went so far as to invent a fairy-tale place called heaven where we will drink ambrosia and dance like nobody's watching.
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