Saturday, December 09, 2006

God exists does it?

God either does not exist, is sadistic or hardly worthy of the title “God”
^
I don’t know who once said it, but the point came to me reading about Josie Grove in The Times.
^
She is:
- 16 years old;
- A champion swimmer and apparently talented artist;
- Has leukaemia;
- Has endured two unsuccessful bone marrow transplants and a course of anti-cancer drugs. One transplant from her 8 year old brother.
- Has decided that since the cancer is terminal, she would rather not undergo further treatment that means she spends long periods in hospital feeling sick. She’d rather spend what little time she has with her family.
^
So go on, defend that god followers. PROVE how much love and compassion your God has, how much mercy that God gives to a talented happy young woman that she has to endure invasive surgery and drugs, to have to die. Defend it by saying how much “good” she brought her family and friends, and how much “hope” she offers with her bravery – in other words, defend her sacrifice. Defend it by saying that, despite her suffering, her short life, the short time she spends with people who love her, despite her parents and siblings going through this, it is all fucking worthwhile, because there is “heaven”, though you can’t really say anything about this except it’s “really really good” and I should just “believe” this, even though there is not a shred of evidence for it. There is just a desperate hope that there should be “heaven” because if there isn’t, then surely it proves that God is weak or sadistic for letting this young woman go through hell.
^
It is rather simple you see either:
- God does not exist, meaning this is a tragedy, but all the best of science and technology has been applied to extend this young woman’s life and help her enjoy what time she has; or
- God does exist, but does not have the power to change anything on earth – but somehow created it, life etc. This is entirely contradictory. God by definition is all powerful, after all if God created the universe (except himself which means God created less than the universe), it is illogical for God to be unable to destroy cancer cells in one person, or indeed all people. You can start creating new theories as to why this may not be, but they are not consistent with any religion; or
- God does exist and is all powerful, but chooses not to intervene. This is either because God likes human beings suffering (which is immoral) or is nonchalant towards human beings suffering (which is also immoral), and likes holding out, through some ancient texts and the utterings of large numbers of questionable people, some hope of “heaven” without directly presenting the opportunity to those who are suffering (and those who are not), In short, God has a perverted sense of morality. The same sense of morality of those who get pleasure out of punishment, a God who hates human beings and plays them as toys. If true, then the universe is bleak and those who follow God do so out of fear, not out of an objective belief in the morality of God.
^
So which one is it? Methink non-existence is the most logical.

8 comments:

Ara Pehlivanian said...

Well it is in fact possible that God created the universe and not Himself. Just because our understanding limits us to believe that everything that "is" was once created and exists within spacetime doesn't mean it applies to the creator of all that "is". God can in fact exist beyond the universe, especially if He created it. After all you don't live in the canvas you paint on, or in the code you write, do you? What's more, this would automatically mean that the laws governing His existance are unlike anything we know or understand since our frame of reference is the universe itself. Thus all abilities attributed to Him are therefore plausible.

Second, if God exists and did create us and the universe, then it stands to reason that His creation could never surpass Him in either power, virtue or capacity to love and care for people. So then the question is, if He is real and is morally superior to us, then why is there suffering?

Well, if we are to accept that God exists (if only to bash Him) then we must also accept that there is evil in this world. If we are unwilling to do so, then any attack on God self-destructs because we aren't framing the attack correctly. So if evil exists, then it is to blame for the hurt and suffering in this world, not God.

Then of course the question arises, "so is God powerless against evil?" and the answer is a resounding "no". Why? Well, if evil exists (as is evident) and God is powerless against it, then the world we know would be overrun by it and our existence would truly be hell. But it isn't, so it means that evil is being kept in check. However it's still active. Why then is it allowed to remain active but only so much and not more?

To answer that, we need to ask another question. If there is a God, and we were created by Him, then why are we even here to begin with? To suffer? That can't be since if we're able to have compassion for the suffering and we were created by Him, then He must have all the more compassion than we do. So then why are we here and why are we suffering? The short--and seemingly unrelated answer--is free will.

I think that we can all agree that there is such a thing as free will regardless of whether you believe in God or not. We practice it every day to a greater or lesser degree. In the context of our arguement, if God exists and created us and we're able to practice free will then He must have allowed it for one reason and one reason only. So that if we were to choose to have a relationship with Him that it would be real and not forced (e.g. if simply made us to do so).

So what's free will have to do with suffering? Well a lot of the suffering that we experience comes from our own doing. And if God is just, and respects our free will, then He has to allow us to choose to do things that He doesn't like or agree with. Otherwise, what value would a choice to believe in Him have? But not all suffering is of our own hand. Some of it comes from "nature" or rather, the state of things as we know them to be in the world that we live in.

So why does God choose to intervene in one case and not another? Why does He allow one to suffer and not another? Why do some die and some live? At this point I think it's necessary to put things in perspective. If God created the universe and all that is in it, and we're a part of that and He gave us free will in order for us to choose a relationship with Him, but at the same time our lives are here and gone in no more than a blink of an eye for one who exists beyond spacetime, then it also stands to reason that we must exist beyond spacetime ourselves in one form or another for that relationship to somehow continue on once we die in this world. And so, it also stands to reason that if you exist beyond the physical universe once you've died in body, then God must be more interested in you in that form than in the one you're in now. That doesn't mean of course that He takes pleasure in your suffering as it would contradict our first arguement that He has more compassion than we do since we are the creation and He is the creator and we can't surpass Him.

So to sum up, God in His infinite capacity (and therefore wisdom) chooses to allow evil (however checked) to continue on in this world if only to respect our free will since He's really interested in pursuing an eternal relationship with us on a plane that far outextends the one that we know in spacetime and the only way to do that is to allow us to choose Him by being given the right and the choice to do so, or to choose otherwise.

libertyscott said...

1. The term universe means absolutely everything, so it is illogical to say that something other than everything created everything. Simple as that. What created God? Naturally you have no answer. You prefer to think you can't know, which is also illogical. Don't assume I can't know, it is insulting, especially since human beings know quantums more about the universe today than they did 200 years ago. I suggest it will be the same 200 years from now. The mind constantly reduces the sphere that faith-followers think cannot be "known". A few centuries ago the idea that what separates life from inert matter would be discovered would have seemed absurd, now we know it is one chemical: DNA.

2. "if God exists and did create us and the universe, then it stands to reason that His creation could never surpass Him in either power, virtue or capacity to love and care for people" what nonsense, God could be sadistic. The Bible is full of examples of this. It is far from beyond reasonable doubt that if God exists that it is virtuous or loving, in fact the mere notion that God creates rational creatures, then denies presenting evidence that rational creatures could deduce that God exists, and punishes those who use their minds is quite cruel. In other words, if my mind means I will burn in hell, then I will do so unconvinced God is loving.

"then we must also accept that there is evil in this world."

Why? I don't accept it, I know it exists, but I don't accept it. Why accept something that is unacceptable?

"So if evil exists, then it is to blame for the hurt and suffering in this world, not God"

Oh, I'm sorry, I thought God created everything.

"Well, if evil exists (as is evident) and God is powerless against it, then the world we know would be overrun by it and our existence would truly be hell. But it isn't, so it means that evil is being kept in check." Tell that to the person murdered on average every 6 seconds, the person raped each 2 seconds. Yes it is in check, for some! Was it in check in Nazi Germany for the Jews? Didn't quite notice that.

"since if we're able to have compassion for the suffering and we were created by Him, then He must have all the more compassion than we do." Yes and people commit suffering too, so God must have all the more evil than we do. Horses for courses buddy.

"if God exists and created us and we're able to practice free will then He must have allowed it for one reason and one reason only." Hold on, is evil in check, or is there free will? Make your mind up. Cancer is often nothing to do with free will, so explain that?

"So that if we were to choose to have a relationship with Him that it would be real and not forced "

Actually I could choose if evidence was provided, not the contradictory ramblings of people who range from the honest to the downright despicable. I have free will and a brain, but evidence has not been provided to convince me that, on the balance of probabilities, a god/gods exist.

"then it also stands to reason that we must exist beyond spacetime ourselves in one form or another for that relationship to somehow continue on once we die in this world."

No it doesn't, you simply asserted that once you die, you must still exist. You might wish it, but it does not stand to reason for one moment. It is plausible if a god exists, but far from essential.

"once you've died in body, then God must be more interested in you in that form than in the one you're in now"

Why?

"That doesn't mean of course that He takes pleasure in your suffering as it would contradict our first arguement that He has more compassion than we do since we are the creation and He is the creator and we can't surpass Him."

"He" does ignore it though clearly, since "he" has the power to stop it. Why does god have male genitalia by the way?

"chooses to allow evil (however checked) to continue on in this world if only to respect our free will since He's really interested in pursuing an eternal relationship with us"

In which case, let's ignore life, live fast die young and focus on death - you know like suicide bombers do. You go tell that to young cancer patients that God loves them so much he lets them go through absolute hell because he "can't wait" to give a damn about them when they die.

In other words it is the worship of death. Death matters more to god than life - you DO realise the implications of this? Baghdad gives you a clue.

It's unbelievably despicable and immoral.

James said...

A debate worthy of this great site.....

http://nogodzone.blogspot.com/

Kane Bunce said...

Well, said, Scoot! Good post. I, too, think non-existent is the most logical.

Ara, your comment is totally illogical. The universe is existence. As Scott said, "The term universe means absolutely everything". How could God of existed before existence? How could he exist outside of absolutely everything? The answer to both: he couldn't. It's impossible and as such illogical and irrational.

Also, our children, which we created, can surpass us in power, virtue, and capacity to love and care for people, even though we are the Creator and they the Creation. The the same would apply to to God.

Also, good CAN defeat evil without God's help, just as long as it is willing to fight. The West defeated the evil of Imperialist Japan and Nazi Germany.

Also free will is not the source of suffering. Disease, accidents, and the lack of morals in some people is. Also the existence of free will is a moral thing. Moral things cannot lead to suffering, only gain. Besides how does free will apply to the poor woman? She didn't choose to have a bone disease. A God that creates a system that can harm us so much is immoral and uncaring plain and simple. Certainly God as the Bible says is immoral and uncaring.

If God doesn't fight evil then he is allowing it, thus he is also sanctioning it. To not fight evil, to allow it, to sanction it, are all immoral and evil acts. And thus is God evil and immoral. Or at least would be if he existed, which he doesn't, as reason (non-contradictory logic) makes clear. The free will of the evil should never be protected. By being evil they forfeited the right to it.

Evil and free will are incompatible, so you cannot logically say God allows evil to survive in respect of our free will.

Scott, I agree with all of the points you made in your comment. Especially, "In other words it is the worship of death. Death matters more to god than life - you DO realise the implications of this? Baghdad gives you a clue." Well said, Scoot. Very true.

But even more agreeable is, "It's unbelievably despicable and immoral."

Ara Pehlivanian said...

Scott/Kane:

I appreciate your candor. What would be the true definition of free will if you weren’t allowed to express yourselves in such harsh and biting words? Unfortunately, I feel your anger towards the pain and suffering in this world is truly (if only through misunderstanding and blindness) misplaced. I also don’t believe that anything constructive will come from our discussion as I get the feeling that you’re not interested in actually exploring the possibility that God may exist or the implication it may have on your lives. Or is it that you’re afraid of said implications? I get the feeling that all you’re interested in doing is bashing without really considering the lack of evidence of your own argument. Yes, lack of evidence. Simply pointing to a supposed lack of evidence in my argument doesn’t suddenly make yours true. The absence of evidence does not equate to evidence of absence. You still have to empirically prove that God doesn’t exist as you’re asking me to prove that He does.

As far as my proof goes, the only solid evidence that I have is one of experience. Throughout my life I’ve had experiences where I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was in them. It’s also quite possible (in fact highly likely) that God’s communicated to you in some way yet you’ve chosen to either ignore or dismiss it. And again that’s your choice, and again, God respects it.

You keep talking about morality and despicableness as though you have a monopoly on their definition. Tell me, where does your perception of morality come from? Who put it in you and don’t tell me that it’s societal as fundamental morality and ethical behaviour has been demonstrated to exist beyond the confines of one society or any given culture, across borders, across time.

On that note, where does your notion of right and wrong come from and once again, who made you the sole definer of what is right and what is wrong? Don’t tell me that we define right and wrong based on the greater good because often times what’s right has nothing to do with the greater good. Nor does it have to do with self preservation. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll eventually come to a “gut feeling” and an innate knowledge of what’s right and wrong. At that point, I ask you, who put it there and once again, how do you explain that it’s the same for people around the globe throughout history without any direct communication between them?

As far as science goes, I don’t believe that quantum physics, the discovery of planets and galaxies or neutrinos does anything to disprove the existence of God. All it does is explain “what”, but not “why”. If anything, it goes toward proving that He does exist. Looking at such a finely tuned universe with such balance in all of its seeming chaos ultimately coming together to foster the conditions for life tells me that there must have been some intelligence behind it. You don’t have to look very far at all to find similarities in our own human experience. To tell a Sysadmin that a server just happened to randomly come into existence, or a programmer that his code just came into being would make you the laughingstock. And forget just the idea of “code coming into existence”, but it has to be written correctly or it would never compile!!! Compare THAT to the infinitely more complex balance of the human body, the ecosystem, the solar system, the galaxy, and beyond. To simply attribute it all to randomness just because the scope of the universe is extremely vast is as silly as saying that if you look hard enough you’ll find a Ford Mustang on a distant planet that just evolved there. And pointing to the mechanics of the universe is insufficient, you of all people, should know that. Everything that we’ve built is the product of our ingenuity and creative ability. Therefore, taking the idea of creative ability and ingenuity to their logical conclusions in the context of our existence—that we too were created—is a sign of humility. To think otherwise is a sign of foolhardy arrogance. Thinking that everything around us just “happened” is not just silly, but illogical as there is nothing to support your claims. You see, science in all of its experiments and proofs ultimately depends on axioms which are simply accepted as fact and taken for granted. Look it up, you’ve got faith and you don’t even know it.

As far as the universe goes, I find it highly illogical that you, the ones who place all your faith in science cannot conceive of an entity existing outside of our known universe when even your own scientists are positing the existence of multiverses and who knows what else beyond the confines of our own universe. To think that all that is can only be defined by what we perceive is nearsighted and illogical. Now you stand accused of explaining away what’s unknown by what you know (like you accuse the faithful of attributing the unknown to God).

As far as my referring to God as “He” goes, I do it for several reasons. The first being one of language as it would be inaccurate (not to mention disrespectful) to refer to Him as “it” as it would reflect a non-thinking, non-personal entity. There is also the reason of history. I refer to the God of the Bible and since He was described through a paternalistic society and because doing so would also reflect the intended hierarchy of our relationship with Him via the use of said society as a model (e.g. Father = head of the household etc…) it thus compels me to use the male “He” in referring to him. But I’m sure you’re not interested in the explanation as simply bringing up my referring to God as “He” smacks of looking for a fight at any cost. Regardless of how silly it is.

In fact, how can we even begin to discuss the problem of suffering and pain in this world when our basis for doing so is completely at odds? You won’t even ascribe to the existence of the God of the Bible. Your arguments against Him are ill informed at best as well as skewed by your anger, personal opinion and shortsightedness. So how could we possibly discuss anything constructively? After all, you accuse me of “death worship” which is the farthest thing from the truth. But then again, I don’t even know what your idea of truth is, so you see, we can’t really deal with any of this constructively.

Finally, in as far as evil goes, you can’t explain it apart from God. Philosophers who are much smarter than you or me have and have come up short. You see, you can’t define evil without good. You can’t define good without a moral lawgiver (or else the definition of good becomes relative and thus self-destructs). Therefore, the existence of evil points to the existence of good which in turn points to the existence of God. Pointing to that and saying that God is evil is as stupid as saying that because computer viruses exist that all software is bad. What’s more, if God decided to tolerate evil for whatever reason, who are we to question it? Especially when you haven’t even taken the time to actually, sincerely and honestly take a look at what God is all about except maybe to try and badmouth something you don’t fully understand.

libertyscott said...

Ara, please don't assume my motives. If someone can prove god to me, I am happy to be proven "wrong. I spent most of my childhood going to a religious school with religious teaching, and also had a very good friend who became a convert to evangelical Christianity.

The idea I have to prove God doesn't exist is patently absurd. I don't have to prove that there isn't a Santa Claus, tooth fairy or Zeus do I? I don't have to prove there isn't a microscopic spaceship filled with aliens the shape of elephants orbiting the moon singing the greatest hits of Led Zeppelin either.

The burden of proof is on you, asserting that something exists, rather than me to prove its absence. Especially since you are asking me to believe something exists that you cannot describe as a form or matter or energy, point to evidence of its presence. God cannot be seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelt or the evidence detected either. However, please feel free to prove me wrong, I did believe - once.

"where I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was in them."

Explain further please.

"It’s also quite possible (in fact highly likely) that God’s communicated to you in some way yet you’ve chosen to either ignore or dismiss it."

Well it is also quite possible you are wrong, and if God wants to communicate me then please feel free. I DO listen, but it should be clear. Is it too much to expect communication to be clear?

"where does your perception of morality come from"

My values are life and happiness, and the pursuit of those without interfering with the free right of others to pursue the same. Respecting the bodies and properties of others. It isn't a perception, it is an ethical framework constructed by reason and values.

"Who put it in you" I did, like I read what I choose and eat what I choose. It is rational in and of itself.

"who made you the sole definer of what is right and what is wrong"

I never said I was, but equally who made you. The only way to break a deadlock on morality is through thought and reason, and understanding the underlying values. Once values are agreed and reason is applied, the answers should follow.

"you’ll eventually come to a “gut feeling”" Well I am sure murderers, rapists and thieves have gut feelings too, but I actually believe it is reason based on values.

"tells me that there must have been some intelligence behind it."

or that it is impossible to have matter or energy exist that doesn't actually follow reason. There is no intelligence involved in chemical processes, or birth, it is reason. It is like saying intelligence is needed for 2+2 to equal 4. It just does.

"Everything that we’ve built is the product of our ingenuity and creative ability"

Indeed, but a rock isn't exactly creative. It's a random collection of atoms.

"that we too were created—is a sign of humility. To think otherwise is a sign of foolhardy arrogance."

Only if you are convinced a ghost exists that made everything and you must fear it. The emotions you describe are irrelevant to causation, don't emote when you are talking science. Humility may matter to you, but I have no reason to have humility for things I did not do, or pride in them. Why does this matter?

"Thinking that everything around us just “happened” is not just silly, but illogical as there is nothing to support your claims"

Why illogical? There are plenty of theories linking events of the evolution of the universe quite logically. There is nothing to support your claim of a god, you can't prove it, you can only "feel" it.

"science in all of its experiments and proofs ultimately depends on axioms which are simply accepted as fact and taken for granted"

Nonsense, they are constantly challenged until those doing so exhaust possibilities and they become accepted. Religion is the framework of thinking based on axioms taken for granted, it does not once adopt any framework of reason to prove existence of god. Indeed its primary maxim is "believe in me or perish", which is just scare tactics from those who write such nonsense. Scientists are constantly changing their views on many aspects of the universe, because they have to - they all have the incentive to get things MORE right and prove each other wrong. Rather robust process I would say.

"you, the ones who place all your faith in science cannot conceive of an entity existing outside of our known universe when even your own scientists are positing the existence of multiverses and who knows what else beyond the confines of our own universe"

Please don't insult me by using the word faith. I do not blindly accept science, I accept reason and evidence. It is not faith. The multiple universe theory is interesting, but again illogical - it is a tangent to the key point.

"To think that all that is can only be defined by what we perceive is nearsighted and illogical"

Perceive or calculate. So prove to me there isn't a species of teapot shaped people living on a planet near Andromeda. I have an open mind about what may exist, but I wont believe that something exists without evidence.

Indeed, the "he" point is a tangent, and I'll ignore it.

"You won’t even ascribe to the existence of the God of the Bible."

How dare I! The Bible is just a book, there are other religious books, in fact many. Why is yours right and the others not? Why are you so arrogant that your god, the Judeo-Christian one originating from writers in the Middle East is superior to those originating in Asia or the Americas? Why would god allow such religions to flourish without people being aware of the "true god"? Bizarre indeed.

"Your arguments against Him are ill informed at best as well as skewed by your anger, personal opinion and shortsightedness. So how could we possibly discuss anything constructively"

Well personal opinion is something you are expressing, shortsightedness is easy to throw at someone who thinks a certain book holds the answers to the universe, when I choose many books, and my anger is simple.

You can't justify an omnipotent god letting children suffer appalling diseases that are not the fault of people. Either god is not omnipotent or god likes suffering on earth because "he" prefers happiness after death. I am angry because of human suffering, which is contrary to my values. I find it abominable and I am pleased that thousands of people have discovered, using their minds, ways of delaying death, alleviating pain and suffering and disease. They didn't do it through faith, they did it with their minds.

"I don’t even know what your idea of truth is, so you see, we can’t really deal with any of this constructively"

Truth is this, it is one example but:
- A talented young girl is dying of leukaemia and suffering;
- This is intolerable;
- Why does an omnipotent loving god LET her get the disease, let her die and let her suffer?

You fail to defend this. The statements you made before indicated that god valued people more after they die, which is why I said "death worship". The girl should cheerfully endure the pain because it will be better after she dies - I find that disgusting.

"as far as evil goes, you can’t explain it apart from God."

Yes I can, and Ayn Rand did too. It is anti-life, anti-reason.

"You can’t define good without a moral lawgiver"

Rubbish, I have. There is a rational basis for morality without being told what it is. Otherwise we are mindless brutes, children who need to be told what is best for us, rather than thinking beings who can reason what is best.

"is as stupid as saying that because computer viruses exist that all software is bad" If there was a god of all software who created all software, then he would create all viruses too and would be evil. Presumably being a god, it would all be deliberate.

"What’s more, if God decided to tolerate evil for whatever reason, who are we to question it"

Thank you, you've proven me right. Go tell the girl that, make her day, tell her the loving god has thrown the dice and said she will die young and suffer in the process, while letting Kim Jong Il live a long life in enormous wealth running a slave state. Who are we? Mere stupid brainless idiots to question it. It is so mindnumbingly obvious to me that I should put up and shut up and just accept things for how they are.

You really honestly don't know how much of a complete moral copout it is. It IS a worship of death - who are you to question allowing the holocaust? You're a thinking human being with reason and hopefully a belief in life and benevolence for others.

I see NO love in a supernatural being that either causes or tolerates such unspeakable injustices. If you simply believe you can't question it, then you have abandoned being a human being - surrendered your mind to tolerate evil, a slave to your faith. It is like how African slaves were taught - don't question your master, who are you to know better than he? Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil - blank out.

while rivers of blood run.

I don't doubt your faith is sincere and you believe it is moral, I personally find it unconscionable, irrational and contrary to my nature. I cannot conceive how anyone can believe in a loving all powerful being which allows mass murder, torture and suffering. It is simply irrational

Ara Pehlivanian said...

I think Ravi Zacharias does a far better job of explaining the issue in a lecture he gave entitled "Is There Meaning in Evil and Suffering" here:

http://media.gospelcom.net/rzim/LMPT/MP3/212-1.mp3
http://media.gospelcom.net/rzim/LMPT/MP3/212-2.mp3
http://media.gospelcom.net/rzim/LMPT/MP3/212-3.mp3
http://media.gospelcom.net/rzim/LMPT/MP3/212-4.mp3

If you'd like I'm more than interested in continuing our discussion here, but like I said I think he does a far better job of tackling the issue.

Oh, and just for the record, I hate violence and injustice and just because I can't explain it all as artfully as some doesn't mean there isn't an answer to the question. :-)

libertyscott said...

Ara

I listened to the first one, and the fundamental difference is that Ravi does not believe there can be an objective basis for morality without "someone" telling you what it is. I believe there is.

Try this:

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_intro

Then ask questions. Besides, "God" is simply a secondhand interpretation of what someone else thinks "God" said - it isn't some conclusive supernaturally drawn set of laws. For some reason "God" never likes to grant certainty to "his" actions.