God – Benevolent; malevolent; indifferent or non-existent?

People fanatically argue their religious beliefs, including the anti-religious views, how do we justify believing in a deity? How do we define the deity we believe in? I’m not wanting to cast doubt on peoples’ views, but here’s an interesting argument against theism.

How does one answer arguments of God’s non-existence based on suffering in the world? The argument goes something like this:

If the creator of the universe (I use this term loosely to describe deity) loves his/her creation, then the creator would prevent pain & suffering.
There is pain and suffering.
The Creator does nothing.
Therefore this deity doesn’t exist.

The obvious answer is that this would at best provide evidence for an indifferent deity, not necessarily a non-existent one, so this would generally be accompanied by other arguments, such as the argument from absence of evidence, or the argument by induction, both of which are beyond the scope of this discussion.

Another counter-argument would be that since the people who usually make this argument project the idea that they actually care about those who are suffering, then one could use their argument as a premise. Adding the premise that in many of the cases the argument is being made by someone who has things they don’t need, TV; smartphone; sound system or they consume cigarettes and alcohol, or even soft drinks, or other non-essential, possibly harmful foodstuffs. They are aware of suffering, they have things they don’t need, so they really aren’t doing what they can to alleviate suffering in the form of malnutrition. This would leave the argument with two possible conclusions, firstly, they don’t exist. Secondly, they aren’t benevolent enough to care, and their argument is insincere, but this wouldn’t necessarily make it incorrect.

Obviously, to get from a disinterested deity to a caring one is as difficult as getting from a disinterested deity to a non-existent one. The counter argument that the proposer of the argument is non-existent, is an interesting thought experiment which can lead to the realm of radical scepticism, in the form of “perhaps I don’t exist,” but the “not being benevolent enough to care argument” is more reasonable, though most would rather not admit to that.

I personally find atheism very implausible (based on mathematical probabilities), and have reasons for accepting Christianity over other religions, but I’m interested here in how others would respond to this, not only other Christians, but people with other views too. If you don’t want to leave a name, because you’re shy or whatever, just make a name up and comment. I’m just interested to know how people view deity, and how they defend their beliefs, should they feel the need. Opinions won’t be judged, but I, or other commentors may ask for clarity, you are free not to answer. I’ll do follow up posts, so if you’re interested check the box after the comment box, I’ll post links, or you can subscribe.

I’ve posted a follow up to this post:
Suffering; God and moral awareness

Advertisements

59 thoughts on “God – Benevolent; malevolent; indifferent or non-existent?”

  1. Um… I’d like to point out that atheism is HIGHLY plausible… just by your reasoning very likely to be wrong πŸ˜‰

    Semantics I know… but lets get that bit right.

    As for the rest a good question. But on the other hand, getting some to define something that they haven’t honestly questioned before is quite a challenge.

    1. I find it implausible due to the probabilities against it. If someone said to me they could land ten tails on a coin flip at will, I would consider their statement implausible based on probability.

      1. The belief or lack there of can never be plausible/implausible. It simply is.

        You may argue the reasoning of such a statement… sure. But it remains about as absolute at can be. Not plausible or implausible a fact.

        By your understanding… it would be therefore implausible for you to be Christian/Hindu/Other base on the improbability of one god trumping any of the others.

        Again, no… I’m going to say that’s wrong. I’m going to say sure you think X (be it a belief, a faith… or lack thereof) however I find you reasoning lacking in probability. I can’t say that your stance is implausible (because you have difined it quite clearly), just your reasoning. πŸ˜‰

        Your flip of a coin makes no difference when we’re simply saying that there is a coin.

      2. The probability argument, at least for me, comes down to existence or non-existence. Beyond that, examination of religious discourse & personal experience would then become part of the equation, and reasoning takes over, but since I find reasoning, like the above, for atheism falling rather short, and I’ll cover other arguments in future, I have little choice lefct but to turn to probability. Your argument of which god, will be noted and covered too.

        I’m not arguing the existence of the coin, I’m arguing which side it’ll land on, something or nothing, but this coin is seriously weighted against nothing. I’ll cover absence of evidence being evidence of absence in the near future.

  2. πŸ˜‰ again… I’m just arguing the structure of the statement. By saying you find a stance implausible you’re saying that you don’t belive I have the coin to toss despite the fact that I’m standing with it in MY hand (you don’t have to believe that it’s any particular type, just that it’s a coin).

    We’ll argue which side it’ll land on later. That becomes subjective to not-bloody-likely which is what your arguing.

    You’re going to have to explain the statement:
    “I find reasoning, like the above, for atheism falling rather short”
    Because I’ve not mentioned anything for/against or otherwise above. I’ve simply stated a stance, not reasoning. πŸ˜‰

    Please review my points and explain that point because it makes NO sense to me. πŸ™‚

    1. I was refering to the blog post when I referred to the reasoning above, sorry, not your points. Ok, I’ll give you a coin, I never said you didn’t have one, just that I think you tossing against such terrible odds that I find it implausible, you obviously find it more plausible than there being some sort of deity, and that is based on a different set of reasoning, not necessarily mathematical.

      1. And I was referring to the blog post, “I personally find atheism very implausible”. You cant find a stance implausible, again just the reasoning behind it.

        Ultimately you’re saying, atheism is wrong because the reasoning for no god is implausible (based on mathematical probabilities).

        You’re arguing several different points as one. In the example you’re arguing that stance and justification are one – they aren’t and that is a very big mistake.

        What you’ve basically said is that “I don’t belive Osama Bin Laden was Muslim because I find Islam implausible”. Fact Osama was Muslim (or at least very much portrayed that way), I do however find the god of Islam to be improbable and subsequently implausible. That doesn’t change the fact that Osama (and many others) ARE/WERE Muslim. That’s a fact. Again the reasoning is the debatable part.

        Stance and justification are again two very different points. I don’t have to belive in god to accept that others will. I can however reject their reasoning behind why.

        So I’ll say it again, I’d like to point out that atheism (or belief or lack of belief) is HIGHLY plausible… just by your reasoning very likely to be wrong.

      2. Ok, you are correct, my wording was out, the fact that I find neither this post’s argument nor any other argument against the existence of a deity to really be plausible based on serious logical flaws, in this one it’s assuming that the deity must be benevolent, immediately atheism falls down, many agnostics believe in a disinterested deity. Obviously we would have to cover all the issues, but I really don’t think it is plausible, based on probability, and the lack of a good supporting argument. So as we go through the different issues, you can comment, but for the mean time, can you make the above argument work in favour of atheism, or does it simply support agnostic ideas of indifference, or uncertainty?

  3. My exact wording may be off.. Its been a while since I was studying… Since everyone argues from a personal perspective why not look at it from a scientific point of view.. Science supports atheism right? The first law of thermodynamics states that all matter and energy exists in a closed system, matter or energy cannot be created or destroyed, matter can become energy and energy converted to matter, but a finite amount of both have existed from the beginning of time.. If matter or energy can’t be created.. How was it created in the first place? If you argue against the existence of a deity who is in fact capable of creating matter or energy then you are in fact arguing against your own existence..

    1. Science by the definition laid out by Scholars such as Hume is the study of natural causes for natural phenomena, with no search for the absolute. Even Bacon, who was a Christian, would’ve accepted that definition. But the issue with this is that as soon as science starts delving into origins, it is looking for an absolute cause, which would deviate from the understanding of the early philosophers of science. Once science started looking for absolute cause, the definition automatically swayed in favour of atheism, since it was now looking for a natural cause which had always been attributed to a supernatural being, and which the early science writers inherently knew was out of their reach, even atheists like Hume recognised the beginning as being out of reach for science.

      The First Law doesn’t result in an argument that is against your own existence. The fact that you exists because of energy that is already there means the law is valid. The sun is loosing energy, which plants harness, which ultimately provides us with food. The issue which confronts all people is where did it all come from. From the Christian perspective of “in the beginning God,” to the atheist view of, “in the beginning a singularity.” I doubt there is a viewpoint which can get past this problem.

  4. You’re changing the point… πŸ˜‰

    And, the wording is very important because… you’re lumping several points of discussion as one. Again, that’s just wrong. Break it down to where it should actually be, point by point. You do after all eat an elephant one bite at a time.

    Actually science supports nothing. I just is… whether that supports a particular stance or not is a whole OTHER discussion. But if you think it does, please explain why.

    “a finite amount of both have existed from the beginning of time” Just how much did we start with? If you can give me that I’ll work on a solution. What’s to say it’s not exactly the same as we began just in a whole new form?

    “If matter or energy can’t be created.. How was it created in the first place?” Arguement can also be replaced with, “If nothing can be, until it is created, who created the creator”. This is a non-point to the discussion, so dumping it.

    “in fact arguing against your own existence” – Well done, now you’re getting it. Fact is that we can’t know for sure that we do actually exist. If anything remains possible (because a negative can’t be disproven) then we may indeed just be a thought experiment. I hope not… but hey, can’t dismiss it entirely or… any less so that I would a deity of any kind. I’m however calling this whole point implausible from thought experiment to deity but I can’t deny someone the fact that that is their stance on the matter. That is the whole point.

    1. By its own laws science proves the existence of a power greater than it can explain… science being able to explain all things naturally occurring.. Can’t explain how the matter and energy we are was created.. So then must have been created by an influence outside of science’s reach.. And is then far beyond the comprehension of the average human mind.. So the argument of there being nothing doesn’t hold much weight, I’m sure scientists would have got to that by now.. As far as the thought experiment… Maybe.. Who’s exactly? Maybe a Deity?

      1. Scott you obviously know something that NOBODY else does. Science is hardly a know all. In fact it’s because science open admits that it knows but a fraction of what it wants to (and might some day) that creationists continue to argue. πŸ™‚

        Never mistake the fact that something has not yet been explained to being proof of “a power greater than it can explain”. That’s like handing a lighter to a 3 year old and saying that you’re god. Doesn’t work that way.

        Science can’t explain all things naturally occurring – Or we’d have concrete proof on evolution by now πŸ˜› (but that is a whole other discussion).

        It would seem that anything that can’t be explained is a godly act? Nope, just can’t be explained, well, not yet at least.

  5. I haven’t denied science still has a lot to learn but simply stated one of its most basic laws.. The universe has always contained the same amount of energy/matter from the beginning (or the big bang if you’d prefer) and by sciences laws that energy/matter could not have created itself.. So either science is wrong and someone is going to change one of the most fundamental laws on which all science is based when they discover how to explain “godly acts”
    Or something beyond science controls it all…

    1. And… you’re saying that energy is being created? Please provide some evidence of this.

      What is to say that there isn’t the same volume of energy as there was billions (or 10,000 depending on how you see it) years ago?

      1. Not being created… Was created billions (or 10,000 depending on how you see it) years ago.. By those laws energy cannot be created in the first place..

      2. Or quite simply it always was? Or never is?

        The idea of absolutes or that there HAS to be a creator simply don’t have to be.

        No laws need be broken.

      3. You guys seem to be missing the real issue here. As I pointed out, it’s either “in the beginning God,” or, “in the beginning a singularity.” The traditional big bang model doesn’t allow for the 1st Law to be broken, the inflationary universe model does, which is why I tend to ignore it when arguing against big bang, it feels like I’m taking a cheap shot. The problem of where it all came from, God or the singularity, is also one I tend to ignore, since everybody shares that problem, so it’s hardly an argument one group could use. The interesting thing is that people teach that God created from nothing, I don’t know if this is true or not, but it isn’t in the creation story, so where the idea came from beats me.

      4. Not at all… I believe the fact that I’ve pointed out that there doesn’t have to be a “nothing” to start with agrees with you.

        The fact that the universe is seen to expand simply states that it’s expanding. What’s to say that this energy hasn’t alway been about? Much of the theory of the expanding universe also has it contracting at some point (when the expanding energy runs out?).

        There’s just way too much that I don’t know… but makes for interesting reading and discussion. πŸ™‚

  6. If one’s daughter were in an abusive realtionship, her parents could do little more than to try to talk her into getting out of the relationship.
    Unfortunately, it is most likely that she will need to be hurt enough to realize that this type of relationship is not good for her–to realize that if she got OUT of that relationship then she would be hurt less.
    Therefore, because the parents left her to learn her own lesson (did nothing), they don’t exist.

    I don’t know why everyone thinks that the major purpose of a diety is to save our butts from the trouble we get ourselves into. It annoys me when I hear people praying to God, asking him to get them out of something they themselves caused. And will likely continue to cause over and over because they can’t understand that THEY are responsible for their actions -those that got them in trouble as well as those that got them out (which they fanatically attribute to God and take little or no responsibility for the problem at all).

    About God “controlling” everything…that is just humanity trying to find a scapegoat that ultimately can’t be denied. The need to control is driven by fear, I doubt God is fearful. Additionally, the Bible states that humans were given FREE WILL…this means that we do what we do and God just sits where he/she is grumbling about how silly, stupid, arrogant, cute, >enter your own adjective here<

    Ok, one last point…If you have a giant aquarium in your livingroom…and dozens of beautiful fish that live in it, are you going to reach in that tank everytime one of them bumps into a wall, gets stuck in the castle or annoys one of the others until that annoyed one nips it's fin? No, probably not…it's really not even possible for you to sit and watch that tank so diligently…what if those fish have named you God? What if they EXPECT and PRAY to you to do just that? Does it make you any less THEIR God???

    I think not.

    1. Thank you for your reply, thus far, you are the only person who has broached the actual issues I was asking about. Just a few points though I’d like to look at though.

      How does free will relate to starving infants? Since Robert is bound to raise this question. Secondly, within Christianity itself, there is Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, which argues that we have no choice in our salvation, since then God couldn’t have all the glory. I do not agree with this teaching, but would be interested to know where the Bible says we have free will, so far as I can tell, it is only implied, but should there be such a text, I would love to have it in my arsenal.

      The example at the end would only be valid if you constantly watched your fish tank, since God (in the Bible) is all knowing, and thus wouldn’t know exactly what is happening in His fish tank at all times. You are correct on at least one point though, you would be unlikely to step in every time there was an issue. I keep horses, when they fight, they fight, I don’t step in as a general rule, since that would be interfering with their system of hierarchy. This doesn’t mean I don’t love them, just that I love them all enough to let them work it out as a group. The question is, at what point does one step in?

    2. Kimberly possibly the best reply I’ve had so far on this issue… EVER πŸ™‚ Thanks.

      My counter to that would be however… if a god isn’t paying that much attention and leaves everyone to their own devices, then it’s not much of a god. Why bother the the praise? If after all I’m to blame for all the bad then I’m also to congratulate on all the good… ultimately the god remains null and void?

      Peter you bring up the point that I’m still at a loss for (hence my absolute lack of any faith) and that is where do you draw the line and step in.

      How can that be justified in any means. If anyone can offer me an honest reason as to how they can justfy a god doing that. Well…

  7. So apparently I missed the point? But questioning gods existence because there is suffering is a new concept to me..
    If the there was no suffering what would be the point of this world? Why not just create us straight into heaven? Personal suffering is due to our own bad choices a lot of the time, suffering is caused by our own sins, if god stepped in every time we needed saving from ourselves we would have no choice but to believe in him therefore taking away our ability to choose god of our own free will…
    As far as the suffering in the rest of the world.. God put man in charge of this world… He gave us the ability to choose right from wrong… We allow the suffering… We are all called to use our free will to do great things as well as small things, to solve problems, to find cures and answers. It is our job to pray, to seek solutions: not to just beg God to intervene and we do nothing.

    1. “If the there was no suffering what would be the point of this world?
      The world was created perfect, with no suffering, according to the Bible, if this is the case, what was the point of the creation in light of your statement?

      1. It was indeed created perfect.. And man was in gods presence.. Until man of his own free will, committed sin… And god introduced us to suffering…

      2. Peter: Very good point.

        Scott: Nothing quite like punishing everyone for one person’s wrong doing. Why not execute EVERY person on earth because one person commited murder… seems fair to me. You first πŸ™‚

      3. So Robert….maybe you’re onto something…. ( Sorry Smidoz I’m going on a bit of a tangent here)
        So I’ll play along.. There’s no god and humans hit the genetic jackpot… What happens when we die? That’s it its over for us? No judgment? No punishment? Just End…

      4. The world is not perfect. It has never been perfect. If it was perfect it would never change. It would stay in a constant state of perfection. The world, universe etc is constantly changing, moving, evolving. It is a completely unbalanced system constantly trying to survive.

        As long as there has been life & self awareness in any form there has been suffering.

        A parasitic plant, slowly suffocating the life out of its host. A fly getting digested alive inside a Venus Fly Trap. A gisele getting ripped limb from limb by a hungry lioness. That same lioness slowly starving to death after breaking a tooth during the hunt, rendering it unable to hunt… the list is never ending. And thats all before humans rocked up and started feeling sorry for ourselves.

      5. The simple answer to this is that no body knows that what you are saying is valid. It would be valid within an evolutionary paradigm, but not within a fundamentalist Abrahamic paradigm. I can simply reject it on the grounds that evolution is both illogical, and contradicts certain empirical evidence. The apparent burden of proof that evolution has accumulated over the years, really amounts to layering of dirt & creatures, which have petrified, nobody really knows how long this took, or how long these have been there. The second major stack of evidence, is known as homology, which is illogical, and thus I reject evolution as a proof on the grounds that it isn’t a valid academic form of enquiry, but an act of faith, and therefore holds no position greater than what I believe.

        It really comes down to, that you believe what you said, just as I believe what I believe, but we can’t say we know. We can discuss it, I’m willing to work from within a naturalistic framework, where ideas are transposable, but I’m not willing to accept any ideas based on evolutionary thinking as proofs, for them to be used, I expect proof for evolution.

    2. Ah Scott… the great unknown. Don’t know really… and no that doesn’t scare me at all. Ironically and also off on a tangent, why are so many god fearing people (I actually hate that term but includes all that have a deity of some kind) so terrified of dying?

      To best answer your question, I would guess it’s all pretty much like “The Force” (you know from Star Wars). At some point we are all one… and for a short while we’re who we are only to return to the collective at the end of this run. Does conscious carry through? Doubt it, but as we can’t really prove/disprove it we’ll never know in this life time.

      Ultimately I don’t know. But NO, I’m not expecting judgement and punishment.

      Um… you not keen on the mass executions?

      1. haha… not at all… still no god πŸ˜‰

        And ultimately, energy just transitioning or… Evolving?

        Bazinga πŸ˜€

      2. Funny you should mention star wars… Which force? The good or the dark side? Depends how you lived your life?
        More to the point… so no judgment?
        No matter how bad you are?
        If I shared your views why would I care about mass executions? As long as its not me…. If there’s no need to fear judgement there no need for a moral conscience right?

      3. Hmmm, did God give people free choice so he could scare it out of them, or so they could choose right just because it’s the right thing to do?

      4. Roberts got a point here, such enlightening episodes as the inquisition & crusades, kinda robbed Christians of the moral card.

  8. The Force has no dark or light side, it’s what it was used for. Either side, still simply used the Force.

    “Jedi refer to the β€˜light side’ and the β€˜dark side’, but really, these are only words, and the Force is beyond words. It is not evil, just as it isn’t goodβ€”it’s simply what it is.”

    Ultimately when Anakin was corrupted… it wasn’t the Force but himself that was corrupted. Anger, hate… these all lead to the path of the dark side, but ultimately the same Force.

    No, no judgement. I’ve said NO god… therefore there is nothing to judge me. Think about that and let it sink in. I’m saying NO. πŸ™‚ I’m trying to be consistent here.

    It’s not you sharing my views… but rather me pointing out how EVERY PERSON on this planet now, before and still to come are all being punished for a single act of a person you’ve never met. Ultimately it’s like having every person executed because one person commited a murder. That’s your good book saying that, not me… Do you agree with this sentiment?

    And… please don’t try the “moral” card when it comes to religion. I think that anyone of an intelligence above an amoeba knows that religion doesn’t control morality any more than it controls airplanes (or more specifically directs them into buildings).

    No… accountability in THIS life and this life alone ensure that decisions I make now affect the ONLY life I have. Why then would I wish to do something that would leave me jailed for the rest of it? When that’s it? No… I fear you simply don’t understand how precious each day is… and subsequently can’t comprehend why anyone would cherish that.

    Again, please think about that, let it sink in. But honestly… leave that moral point at the door. Morals are at the best part subjective and have no place in a discussion that includes reglion… because we can really start throwing stones on that one.

    1. Apparently you’ve taken offence.. None was intended.. As someone who’s explored a lot of options when it comes religion I find it difficult to understand settling on none… My apologies again… My understanding was that in all religions there are guidelines on how to live ones life.. Both what not to do and what should be done to ensure a happy afterlife… The idea of there being nothing and nothing to strive for is a bit difficult for my amoeba intelligence to comprehend…
      That said I still believe all people are born with a moral compass leading us to search for a system of beliefs that shows us we are on the right path.. Hence the reason for this entire discussion… Some of us take part to confirm our beliefs and other perhaps are still searching for the reason we are here..

      1. Not at all… no appolgy required and not at all offended. πŸ™‚

        Morals… again, please read all of the previous points and ralise that morals are so subjective that you can’t caim them at all in any discussion. I’m not claiming invalid, simply invalid for discussion or even a point of reference.

        Religion does however allow a rapist to simply marry the victim to absolve everyone in the situation. Yup… even the victim. That simple example disolves any “morality” that you can try to argue for religion. End of discussion really.

        Nobody’s ever claimed to there being nothing to strive for? Please provide and example. The fact that I reject the idea of a god and judgement hardly conclude that there is nothing worthwhile? You might want to rethink how you see things.

      2. I was trying to find the text that you’re referring to on the rape issue, but I can’t at the moment. The verb to seize is used often to refer to taking that which is not yours to take. Before you jump down my throat about people as possessions, consider the term, “this is my husband” it doesn’t denote ownership, simply that there is a right of entitlement to exclusivity, especially sexually. A man who “has his way” with a woman, even of she is consenting, would be taking what he is not entitled to. So the text can be interpreted in such a way so as to not mean rape.

        The principle of charitable interpretation is a commonly accepted philosophical device. To interpret what people are saying in the worst possible light so that you can take cheap shots at it, is actually frowned upon, so please bear that in mind when taking cheap shots like that. As Karl Popper stated, “It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.” Perhaps you should give things the benefit of the doubt when they can be interpreted in a different way from that which justifies your disbelief.

      3. Actually pointing out the worse possible light… well, that was the point actually. The point being:

        “You can do anything and justify it through religion”

        Point it out was exactly my intent. It’s a perfect counter arguement to the whole “moral compass” arguement – really. Ultimately I won’t blame religion for these things but people themselves as I tend to hang onto that self accountability thing. Once again trying to keep consistent on that bit too.

      4. Fair enough, but misuse doesn’t prove any religion wrong, it simply proves that misuse is bad, and we agree on that much. πŸ˜‰

        I do think that religion can act as a moral compass, but it’s still personal choice. You could have a good compass and a detailed map, and still not find the way home if you misuse them. So really, it does come down to choices, but that doesn’t remove religion as a compass.

        What you’re arguing against is the idea that religion doesn’t make people good people, which I agree with, but it does provide a moral compass, which has profoundly influenced the moral awareness of most people in western culture today, even atheists.

      5. Agreed on most parts.

        However the “moral compass” as is often touted is hardly a good thing (or bad for that matter). It all comes down to the individuals. I’d argue that religion simply offers a “get out of jail free card” and actually gives people a licence to do things knowing full well that they can simply ask forgiveness and move on. Those without that option remain accountable

        But as I’ll argue forever (and on every subject) that morals are so very subjective you can’t really argue for or against them… but rather the acts that you find.

      6. Obviously we won’t agree on whether or not it’s subjective, but that’s another issue, I smell another follow up. I do think people use it as a get out of jail free card, but that doesn’t mean they have the right idea.

  9. I love deities & surround myself with a variety from different religions:mailnly posters, pictures, crosses & statues. I have no fixed religion but do benefit from the belief that masses of people on this earth, past & present have found a security of the unknown with their commitment to worshiping a deity. I feed off this ancient practise of others & hope that there will always be a new deity that surfaces every few thousand years or so, until the human race has gained the confidence to exist without them. The negative obsessions that religion & the worship of deities can create, is unfortunate, I vote for a mass conscious movement towards self love & no religion.

  10. If I were forced to have an opinion on this from a creationist point of view i would say the following :

    it is mathematically improbable for the universe to be created by accident so there must be a creator
    the creator of the universe has done nothing to prevent pain and suffering .
    There is no point in creating something and not caring for it.

    Therefore the Creator of the universe is a scientist.

    The creator is indifferent about the health and happiness of his creations but rather the results for his test. therefore the deity is neither of your choices.

    1. I would disagree God not caring, but then I do believe the Bible, so we’ll never really agree.

      But since you’ve brought this up, let’s examine mathematically improbable. We could look at the odds of all the particles being in the right place at the right time to get to where we are today, & we could multiply that by the odds that life just happened (the odds that 20 different amino acids came together in the right chemical combination, and that 19 of those amino acids separated their L-types from their D-types, joined themselves together in just the right way, and then there was something – who knows what – that made them come alive, in an environment completely unsuitable for life.) Your odds are already so far out that “mathematically improbable” is an understatement. Instead, I’m going to use Martin Rees’ 6 numbers. These six numbers, if changed very slightly, could have rendered the current universe impossible. There are an infinite number of values that these numbers could occupy, with a minutely small window that would produce our universe. So, the odds against just one of these 6 being right, is infinite. The odds that the universe just happened are technically infinity to the sixth, a mathematically impossible figure, since infinity is a value that can’t be factored into mathematical equations, if you add 1 it’s still infinity. So there is actually no English word available for how the odds are stacked against atheism, since unlikely and improbable are more than understatements.

      1. There’s no such thing as “Mathematically impossible” πŸ˜‰ Much like you can’t can’t to infinity. We’re just talking really big, thus superly improbable. Mathematically speaking (playing odds) yeah, it’s still possible.

        Moving on. One could quite easily argue that you are both rigth on this point. The odds aren’t good, so there has to be a creator. Fair enough… but, as we have a look around and things are far from perfect. If you think about the evil of man that too was created by the creator (well, those who believe in the bible).

        So… sure, there was a creator, but it just doesn’t care. Think it was one of those grey guys that the rednecks keep seeing?

        Then again, thinking about this whole point… perhaps scientology’s ideology is plausible?

      2. It’s infinitely improbable, is about the best way to define it, but I still don’t think that really sinks in.

        “If you think about the evil of man that too was created by the creator”

        No, God is good, the absence of Godliness (good) is evil. God didn’t create light and dark, He created light, darkness is simply an absence of light. So, Biblically speaking, God did not create evil, it’s an incidental in the absence of good. one might argue that the Devil is tangibly evil, but this just comes down to a complete rejection of Godly principles.

        Allow me to point out that good and evil are only relevant terms in with an objective moral framework.

      3. “It’s infinitely improbable” – fair enough. πŸ™‚

        I’m not sure I agree on your “absence of good” being a fair enough definition of evil. The absence of good is simply that… the absense of evil isn’t good… it’s simply the absence of evil.

        “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” – I had to look this one up (but did recall something along these lines). But seems that Isaiah 45:7 would claim that god does both.

        Translations vary, but every thing I can find would agree that good or peace are not the opposite of evil or calamity in this context.

      4. This could go to a very silly level of abstraction, if we take my evil as absence of good definition, and then your absence of evil statement, we get, absence of absence of good, which would be nonsensical, like an empty of emptiness statement. This is why you can’t really turn it around like that. I’ll still stick to evil as an absence of good. Of course, you believe in a subjective morality, so there’s no evil. πŸ˜‰

        The Isaiah piece, you’d have probably been better to use the KJV, since it makes your point better. It does show a causal chain though “The One forming light and creating darkness,” In the context of the Hebrew creation model, “God said let there be light,” darkness was never created, but came into being as a consequence of light, since you can’t have an absence of something without a presence of the thing for which the absence is described.

        The same causal chain could be argued for here, “Causing well-being and creating calamity.” Calamity (KJV = evil) isn’t an issue if it is mearly the status quo, but if there is well being (KJV = peace) then calamity (evil) becomes an issue.

        This is cumbersome, but it displays why a charitable interpretation is needed, since we are far removed from the authors, and the Hebrew words used have quite complex meanings, according to Strong’s:
        calamity – ra ra ah bad or evil (naturally or morally) adversity; affliction; calamity.well-being – peace – shalom shalom safe, that is (figuratively) well, happy, friendly; (abstractly) welfare, that is health, prosperity peace.

        These aren’t exact opposites, but the point is, all the bad stuff isn’t bad, without the good, it was by putting in the good that the bad became a possibility. God made everything, and it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and Adam and Eve screwed up, and all the bad stuff started (Genesis 3.) So we didn’t invent the bad, God didn’t make it either, He created the good, and the bad simply became possible, it was Satan’s and human’s defection that realised the badness.

        We probably won’t agree on this, but it is my understanding.

      5. I think you’ve missed the whole point of my point of morality being subjective. I’ve never claimed there was NO evil… just that your definition and mine are likely to differ as too does everyeone else’s. Hence it’s hardly absolute because nobody has a definitive list of what is right and wrong.

        Actually as you’re now referring to other versions actually aiding either side, I think this point is put to rest. EVERYTHING is subjective depending on how YOU wish to interpret the text. In this case you’re saying that darkness is the absense of light… but, there’s text that states darkness was created.

        Um… yeah. πŸ™‚

      6. “I think you’ve missed the whole point of my point of morality being subjective. I’ve never claimed there was NO evil… just that your definition and mine are likely to differ as too does everyeone else’s”

        In which case evil is nothing more than an invention of the mind, like a unicorn. Besides, check a dictionary, it’ll give you a definition of evil, which is objective, so I’d like to see the evidence you have to support subjective morality, but not here, on the relevant post.

        Actually, only one interpretation of the Bible can be right (2 Peter 1:20.) The method I’m using to interpret involves looking beyond just one text and getting an interpretation that suits the overall creation issue, you are deliberately making an the text contradict itself, if you did this in a philosophy class, you’d fail. You should take as many passages on an issue and try to reach a non-contradictory interpretation if it is possible, this is charitable interpretation, a philosophical method of text analysis. It is also Biblical (Isaiah 28:10.)

        But consider this, when a baker makes a dognut, he makes a confectionery item, the hole in the middle comes into existence via lack of dognut, yet it was the baker who created it.

      7. Only one interpretation can be right…
        http://www.evilbible.com/

        I’ll use that one? πŸ™‚

        Picking and choosing hardly seems objective. Why discount so many other interpretations? Are they all simply wrong? And with so many wrong options how are you so very sure that you’re on the right track?

        Quite simply as you’ve picked the version that you most agree with, you have already made it subjective. Whether right or wrong (again this is never the issue at hand).

      8. The website you gave, picks and chooses…

        “Picking and choosing hardly seems objective.”

        This guy would fail a philosophy exam, for a couple of reasons, mainly, he only takes the texts that support his viewpoint, and ignores any text, or interpretation, that supports the goodness of God, Psalm 137:9 is a classic example, it is poetry, so an non-literal translation is well acceptable, secondly, they never quote verse 8, which refers to the daughters of Babylon, frequently in the Bible daughters and brides are used to describe religious systems and churches. The offspring of these religions would be doctrines. So this could very easily, via cross reference to Jeremiah, which pre-existed this psalm, be referring to destroying bad religious teachings. I’m not going to go through all his bad examples, but this is just one example of how the author here isn’t using the principle of charitable interpretation.

        I like this one:
        “If more people would actually sit down and read the Bible there would be a lot more atheists like myself”

        He clearly isn’t bright enough to work out that Abrahamic religions and atheism aren’t the only options, on that kind of reasoning, I’m not sure we can deduce that his interpretations are likely prone to poor reasoning.

        Here’s another:
        “Just about every other page in the Old Testament has God killing somebody!”

        Seriously? This is either a lie, or he has failed to read the whole thing, just go and check how many pages you have to turn in a Bible, starting at the beginning, before someone gets put to death, we looking at about 6 chapters. Then there’s the longest book of the OT, Psalms, not much killing there. There’s Daniel, not many killings there. There’s Ruth, who does God kill there. How about Song of Song; Ecclesiates and Proverbs, or Esther? Seriously, does he even know what he’s talking about?

        You’ve claimed I’ve just picked the version I’ve most agree with, therefore it must be subjective. Not so, if one looks at as many angles as possible, and then makes a decision, it would be objective. Also, if the decision is not made on feelings, or emotions, it isn’t subjective, at least according to dictionary.com. I have a usefull way of working out how good a denominational interpretation is, I simply ask for an explanation of Romans 6:23, about 99% of denominations interpret this text in such a way as to not only contradict itself, but a huge number of other texts too, which means I can immediately write off their overall view of the Bible as wrong. This doesn’t stop me from examining other parts of their doctrines to see if they have better ways of interpreting things, such is objectivity.

      9. You’re doing exactly what you’re accusing him of doing. Picking and choosing. πŸ˜‰

        And… πŸ˜€ you’ve discounted their entire view on a single point that YOU’VE decided is the correct version.

        Objective… yeah, that appears to be so.

      10. I’m not doing what he’s doing, I’m viewing in the wider context.

        I still look at their views, I stated that I still examine their views for better interpretations of other issues. I can’t really accept a church that can’t get the fate of the wicked right, since it is regarded as one of the most important points in Christianity. Just go and read that verse, and see if you can resolve it to never ending suffering. There are other verses, that present the same problem, for example, Obadiah v16 and Ezekiel 28:19. The fact that people cling to the “forever and ever” in Revelation, blinds them to the fact that forever is an indefinite period of time in most instances in the Bible, not an infinite period of time. Here’s an example, I’m typing this reply in the post office, and there’s such a long queue, that it will take me forever to get to the counter.

        It’s certainly more objective than the view promoted in that website by someone who literacy or honesty is in question.

      11. “It’s certainly more objective than the view promoted in that website by someone who literacy or honesty is in question.”

        Agreed, but then again that’s how I feel about religion on the whole.

        I like your post office point. But here’s a counter point, at which point do you take something literally or figuratively? Where do you draw that line? On what appears to make sense?

        I’d say that everything requires context… but at that point you’ve removed objectivity and give it some subjectivity. Forever is a long time, but I don’t believe anyone has actually been stuck in line forever. πŸ™‚

      12. “Agreed, but then again that’s how I feel about religion on the whole.”

        That’s not very objective.

        Consider Jonah 2:6 for an interesting “forever.” By examining the Bible, one finds that the vast majority of forevers, are indefinite, while some are infinite. The text from Jonah it’s neither. It’s not really about making it subjective, it’s about interpreting the ambiguous terms according to the rest of the text, that is, objectively. One shouldn’t be basing one’s beliefs on the ambiguous terms, for example, 2 Peter 2:9, can be translated in two ways, which actually oppose each other (check the NIV, it has a footnote on that verse, or compare the KJV to a modern translation.) It would hardly be worthwhile just picking one version out of a hat, one needs to examine which one fits the text. Since forever is ambiguous, it needs to be examined objectively.

        Adding context is the objective approach, since it involves checking different angles.

What do you think?

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