A Response to Religious Philosophy
I received this response to my questions on religious philosophy on 28 July 2005. It attempts to explain why god is omnipotent, omniscient, and good, yet still so many bad things happen.
A Response from Micah on 28 Jul 2005
An all knowing, almighty, good God, like a good parent doesn't keep you from stumbling and scraping your knee when you learn to walk, nor does he prevent you from getting into an accident when you drive drunk, nor does he protect you from murderers, and tsunamis. An all knowing, almighty, good God knows that human beings have to learn for themselves how to walk, drive, protect themselves, and plan against natural disasters. God's job is just to offer you a tool, or a crutch with which you can learn to do all these things. The tool or crutch he offers is found in the bible, but you won't understand it if you just read it, you have to think about it, and use the information before you can understand it's value. Then when you truly have the ability to use information correctly then you can solve more complex problems like global hunger, poverty, disease, and terror. Of course God is not the only way to learn how to use information correctly, but he is at least one way.
Consider yourself stoned Goliath, please post this reply as acknowledgment that someone has met your challenge. Or else prove to me that my logic is in error.
An Answer from Me on 29 Jul 2005
OK, first I have posted his reply (without any changes apart from correcting some spelling mistakes) even though I think the logic is in error. Naturally, I don't accept that I have been stoned. Here's why...
For a start off, this reply is largely in the form of an analogy of a parent and child. Analogies are dangerous things, and really shouldn't be used as a serious defence of anything, because they are rarely a good representation of the original subject. For example, he equates scraping your knee while learning to walk, with the huge death toll of a tsunami. Well, that's just a little bit different. Its like saying a parent shouldn't try to stop a school bus crashing and killing all the kids in it, because they want the accident to be a learning experience for the driver. OK, see how analogies can be so easily twisted?
Another factor is responsibility. God has the power to control everything - parents don't. If a parent not only could stop a horrible accident happening to a child, but also directly created that accident, what would we think of them? We wouldn't think they were good, would we?
So really this response is just a variation on the feeble "free will" answer Christians customarily give. If they thought about it a little bit, instead of just parroting this stuff over and over, they might see how weak it really is.
A Comment by Micah on 31 Jul 2005
The short answer to your response to my reply is that God, as all knowing and all capable is obviously not all responsible, as he wants to be has decided that he has done enough for humanity, up until the point he does something else. As you might note God's personal interest is in creating, his secondary interest is in friendship, he sets his subject's free to be either wise, or to be foolish, with only the knowledge that they will be held accountable to their actions.
A good leader doesn't micro-manage every detail, he allows his managers to do their jobs, and his associates to do theirs. But God is not even our leader he is just our creator, our ideal, our standard of measure, and our ultimate judge. God is above the position of leadership. Like a law of nature God cannot be changed.
Even though you twisted my analogy, the analogy is still true as long as you understand that the burden of responsibility for life on this planet has been transferred to human beings since day one. In the mythology it was our choice to defy God that led us from the Easy Environment. It was our choice to appoint leaders who would be responsible for our tribes, cities, and children. It was our choice to fight for our survival over the centuries, to test and learn the laws of nature, of the road, and of mankind. Now if God was truly responsible for everything, then we would be responsible for nothing.
So obviously being all knowing, all seeing, and all capable does not equate to all responsible as you seem to infer and believe.
BTW that Spiderman movie, with great power comes great responsibility, that is a socialist dream. It is for you people who believe that your brother is your keeper, and you can be worthless your entire life and still have a right to survive. Even if you don't have great power you still have great responsibility to yourself, and if you have great power your first responsibility is still to yourself. Of course the mystic of muscles argument to that is that you don't have the right to take at other peoples expense. Obviously they are trying equate all hard work and gain as being at the expense of people who do not work, this is a fallacious principle. The idea that the rich can only be rich at the expense of the poor. If the poor did the same kind of thinking and work as the rich, their would be no divide in wealth, any claim that says they are not capable of the work of genius is fallacious as well. The poor is a class containing both the capable and the incapable, the rich class is the same way. But a man's refusal to work or think does not make him incapable and therefore not responsible for his own life. The socialist dream ironically shares it's roots with God, Jesus etc... Yet it denies them to place the burden of responsibility on other men (other than yourself).
The point is that you are responsible for yourself first, and by extension the objects and subjects you care about. This responsibility does not however remove the responsibility your subjects have to themselves first, and to you if they care about you as well. Thus you should not give without receiving some return. This is why we have money, and why we say please and thank you.
BTW, if as your premise God is all knowing and all capable, you must assume first that his logical reasoning is therefore is superior to your logical reasoning, thus you must conclude by the evidence of his lack of apparent responsibility for the tsunami, that God as you surmised him to be is not responsible for the things he takes no responsibility for. This means that your premise of equating all knowing, and all capable, with all responsible is wrong.
In reality there are no contradictions, if you find one, check your premises again. At least one of your contradicting premises is wrong.
A Comment by Me on 2 Aug 2005
You seem to say that god has no responsibility for us. Yet he created us, and the Bible keeps telling us about how he loves us. I don't expect him to "micro-manage" by protecting people from every little incident in their lives, but surely he should take responsibility for the big things. God created the Universe the way it is - he created an environment where natural disaster, war, and disease happen. How can he accept no responsibility for this, yet still be labeled "good"? I don't think he can.
You talk about "our" decision to defy god. But how am I personally responsible for something that happened thousands of years ago? (or didn't happen, since its just a myth anyway) Its like someone being blamed for a crime of their distant ancestor. Again, how can this be reconciled with a good god?
Clearly the definition of the word "good" will vary from one person to another. My definition of a good god would be one who takes responsibility for something he created and has the power to influence. Apparently your definition allows god to create people, create disease and all the other problems in the world, then forget about the whole thing.
I'm not even going to respond to your nonsensical rant against socialism, because that isn't really what we are discussing here. I'll just say I don't agree with you about that, either.
You should also realise that I don't think god is evil, or that he isn't good, or that he isn't omnipotent or omniscient. I simply believe he doesn't exist. My whole point was that showing that those three attributes don't apply to god, means believing in a god of that type isn't sensible, because the presence of an omniscient, omnipotent, good god should be obvious. Well it isn't. God is conspicuously absent from the world. The logical conclusion is he doesn't exist.
A Comment by Micah on 10 Aug 2005
I was talking about the law of non-contradiction there.
I see now how you meant to show how God does not exist as you understand God to be. I agree with you that God as you see him makes no sense.
If your aim is to prove, show, or demonstrate how God is not possible, or how God doesn't exist, should you at least try to figure out how god could exist first, I mean by removing all the contradictions to what is essential for a god to have dominated the so many minds through out history? I mean what is the essential non-contradictory understanding that keeps god alive and supported by so many powerful and influential groups? Shouldn't you be able to define god better, more clearly, and more correctly than all the God's believers combined before you say god doesn't exist?
A Comment by Me on 10 Aug 2005
So what, exactly, is "the law of non-contradiction"?
Excellent, so we agree that god in that form doesn't exist! That is the type of god most Christians think exists though. Most people believe in a god who is omnipotent, omniscient, and good.
The believers can't define god particularly well, themselves. In the discussion forums I participate in, I have been asked to prove god doesn't exist. I say, define your god first. I have yet to hear the same definition from two people, even if they theoretically believe the same thing! To me, this in itself suggests god doesn't exist, because if he did he should be easier to describe.
The lack of definition of what god is makes it impossible to prove god doesn't exist, but of course it also makes it impossible to show he does exist! You keep talking about contradictions, but its religion which is full of contradiction!
A Comment by Micah on 13 Aug 2005
As far as the Law of noncontradiction, look it up on Google, or try Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
We agree that your understanding of God is impossible, we don't agree that this is the type of god most Christian's think exists. Omnipotent, Omniscient and Good can apply to a body of concepts called God, they cannot apply to an invisible superman in the sky.
I have heard tons of people define god as Omnipotent, Omniscient, and the definition of Right.
What other things exist that are not "easier to describe?" If you don't hear the same definition of anything repeated by two or more people can you still believe it?
The bible is full of contradictions, if your premise is that something in the bible is true, then you have to eliminate the contradictions if you want to understand it. Eliminating contradictions is about separating the important from the simply urgent.
You can say "The masses understanding of God is in apparent contradiction" Considering that you are an unbeliever it just might be your understanding that is mistaken. However it would be silly to say "The proper and correct understanding of God is not proper and correct!"
If your premise is that everything in the bible is false, then there are no contradictions are there? If your premise is that the bible is complete nonsensical gibberish, then how is it that a book of complete nonsensical gibberish has remained at the center of many powerful cultures for thousands of years, and continues to influence powerful leaders today?
Wouldn't a book of complete nonsensical gibberish be irrefutable as a book of complete nonsensical gibberish? I mean if you couldn't even read the page, how could a President of America who believed in such a book gain re-election? Do you really think all Christian people are dumb as shit? If you do, then isn't it silly to argue with people who are dumb as shit?
I certainly wouldn't argue with such a person.
A Comment by Me on 15 Aug 2005
So the law of contradiction you are talking about is just the law described by logic? OK, but I don't think that's really relevant here.
Whatever else the Christian god is, I think omnipotent, omniscient, and good would be amongst his characteristics according to most Christians. Whatever other attributes he has is irrelevant, because I've shown these three don't fit what we see.
Just about everything else can be described consistently. If I ask a scientist to explain a difficult, abstract object or process, they will agree on what they describe (apart from minor details, in some cases, where there is still ongoing research). For example, absolutely all biologists agree on the basics of evolution, even though some details are still being refined. We know exactly what it is - that's why we can research it in a meaningful way.
Its possible that my understanding of believers' definition of god is confused, but I don't think that's likely. I would be interested in hearing your definition, for example. It might be harder than you think to define just what god is.
I certainly don't think everything in the Bible is false. Many parts are based on real historical events and places. But the important parts, such as creation, the flood, and the life of Jesus are almost certainly wrong.
You are right that the Bible has had a major influence for a long time. Cultural influences are strong, even if they are based on false stories. In the past, other theologies have had a strong influence on society: Greek myths, for example. But they weren't true. I think there is a lot of good philosophy in the Bible as well, unfortunately many Christians fail to follow it.
I don't think all Christians are "dumb as shit". I have debated with some really thoughtful and intelligent Christians. They aren't stupid - they're just wrong. I do think George Bush is "dumb as shit", as are many of the people who voted for him.
Comment by OJB on 2006-07-17 at 22:37:03: The trick some believers invoke to get around this problem is by using the subjective nature of the word "good". Since different people see good as meaning different things its possible to say that a god who is responsible for everything (being omniscient and omnipotent) can still be good even when he allows children to die of cancer, allows thousands of innocents to die in natural disasters, etc. In my opinion this just doesn't add up. If any person acted that way we would never say they were g...
Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-13 at 13:31:22: I just read your blog about what you have as a religion. You asked if the world was a good place, well it isn't. Its a sin filled world and God is in heaven waiting for us to except [sic] him into our hearts. You ask if God is 'good'. Well, God is loving enough to send his only son (Jesus) down to deliver us from sin. I would think he is a GREAT God. You say a loving God wouldn't kill children with cancer, illness, etc... But its Adam and Eve (check Genesis) that has caused it to be allowed ...
Comment by OJB on 2007-03-13 at 15:31:46: So you think its OK for god to mercilessly torture innocent kids because of a single (alleged) mistake someone made thousands of years ago? He doesn't sound like a very nice god to me! And if Satan exists (which he obviously doesn't) why does god let him do these evil things? Is god not omnipotent - is Satan too powerful for him? Why does god let Satan do so many evil things to his creation (humans). The whole thing just makes no sense. Its clearly a myth.
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