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Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Thanks for your earlier response, Plot. Makes sense to me! Oh and just so you know, I'm not reading Russell's history as a serious history, but more just because I enjoy reading Russell's critiques. Incidently, I'm making this post as a form of procrastination to avoid writing a paper on Russell's Referential Theory in On Denoting :lol:

    Have you read Peter van Inwagen's Problem of Evil? I haven't, but he's a highly respected contemporary metaphysician and philosopher or religion arguing that The Problem of Evil fails... I'd be interested in hearing your viewpoint on him in the case that you have read it.
     
  2. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    A million gold stars to Plot for this thread. :goodjob:

    Wild fun question: How much of an impact did Roman theology have on Christian theology?
     
  3. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Of course one can say that free will is so great that it cancels out all suffering. But there are two problems with that. The first is that if you simply assert it then the argument isn't very strong: it just collapses back into "God must have his reasons but we don't know what they are." And that may satisfy someone who already believes in God, but it doesn't resolve the evidential argument, which is that the existence of evil makes God's existence unlikely to someone not already committed to believing in God. You'd have to show that it is at least likely that free will is so fantastic that it's worth having even at the cost of all suffering ever. And the second problem is that it needs to be shown that free will, of the kind required by this argument, is possible or even coherent in the first place. I'm not at all convinced that it is.

    Besides all that, there's still the first part of my objection, to which I've never seen a good answer.

    In that case, this defence is not an independent one at all, but just part of the free will defence. It is one thing to say that God uses evil to bring about a greater good; it is quite another to say that evil is caused by us as an unavoidable side effect of our use of free will. On the first view, God would actually want evil - the world would be worse without it. On the second, God would not want evil - the world would be better without it - but God either can't or won't do anything about it. When you first stated this argument, it sounded like you were going for the first view, but now it sounds like the second.

    I think I have read it, many years ago, but I don't remember what his argument was! This is what comes of being out of philosophy for so many years. I'm all ears if you want to restate it though...
     
  4. PrincepsAmerica

    PrincepsAmerica Nothingness made flesh

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    Yes I suppose the point is mainly reserved for those who believe. I guess of all the doubts I've seen about Christianity the problem of evil, though emotionally difficult, seems least logically threatening.

    Yes I was stating the second argument. That evil exists as a consequence of free will and as such is used, even as everything is used, to the salvation of mankind.

    Anyway, you're definitely my kind of guy Plotinus, and are on the path that I almost went down a couple years ago. Let's just say I've been a little more hung up on the possible truth of what I'm informally studying.:)
     
  5. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Well I can somewhat an argument from it (which may or may not be similar to Dawkins'). As I see it, it's part of this whole "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality. Prior to evolutionary theory the idea of an engineer-God creating life as an elaborate machine was quite possibly the best explination for the way life was structured. Indeed, thiking of life parts as an engineered machines is still quite comman today. Under empirical mentality God a becomes scientifically understandable thing. We can use organisms to predict how God creates and then test them by looking at other organisms to see if thier mentality predictions worked.

    Evolution shatters this notion and pulls God away from biology (and all empirical sciences), leaving little for someone with the "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality to work with.
     
  6. Taliesin

    Taliesin Puttin' on the Ritz

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    Even as a Christian I don't find this idea very convincing. I am free to go find a goat and commit unspeakable deeds with it, for example. But not only do I have no inclination to do so, it simply never occurs to me as a possibility. If a goat were to barge into my room right now, the range of reactions that I'd entertain would not include seducing it; however, I would indubitably be free to do so. It seems to me that God could easily have created us so that all evil actions were of a similar nature.

    I think a better theodicy, at least intuitively, is that reunion with God is better than simple union with him: that God thinks it better to create something separate from himself and have it join him, and that heaven is better for those who have fallen life to compare it to.
     
  7. PrincepsAmerica

    PrincepsAmerica Nothingness made flesh

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    I don't know maybe my use of inevitable was improper but I don't disagree with any of that in principle. You seem to be more or less restating what I was pointing to. Namely the fact that separation, Creation, and free-will are all intertwined such that evil necessarily come to as a possibility in the whole process.
     
  8. CCA

    CCA Chieftain

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    How much is the average salary of a Theologian and who will be my employers if I decide to go into Theology
     
  9. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Well, you couldn't have read it many yrs ago, as it just came out last August (you probably have it mixed up with some other book by the same title, I'm sure there are many). I haven't read it, but I probably will if and when I take an advanced phil. of religion course.
     
  10. Turner

    Turner Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    Have you ever read the book Job: A Comedy of Justice? If so, what did you think of the personifications of the deities, and if you haven't, why not?
     
  11. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    That depends on what you mean by "Roman theology"...

    If you mean the theology of followers of pagan Roman religions, such as the cult of Sol Invictus or Jupiter or Mithraism, then virtually none.

    If you mean the philosophical theology of movements within the Roman world such as Middle Platonism or Stoicism, then a lot.

    If you mean the theology of Roman Christians such as Tertullian and Augustine, then an immense amount!

    I'm not sure about that. On the contary, I would say that even if you happened to like evil, its existence would still be a bar to believing in God, since if God is both able and willing to eradicate evil then, if he existed, we would expect there to be none, or at least an awful lot less than there is.

    Thanks!

    Right. The fact of evolution by natural selection certainly undermines the teleological argument, at least the biological part of it. In fact even the possibility of evolution by natural selection undermines that argument, irrespective of whether it really occurs or not. And of course the teleological argument was destroyed pretty effectively by Hume, for other reasons, before Darwin ever came along. But none of that is an argument against God's existence, just the removal of an argument for it.

    Right, and I'd agree with you. In The miracle of theism, which is the best book I know of on arguments for and against God, J.L. Mackie puts it nice and simply. I'll restate the argument more formally to make it plain:

    (1) If God exists, God can bring about any logically possible situation.

    (2) A world where free creatures do only good deeds is logically possible.

    (3) If God exists, God could bring about a world where free creatures do only good deeds. (From 1 and 2.)

    (4) If God exists, God would want a world where free creatures do only good deeds.

    (5) If God wants to bring about a situation, and he can bring it about, he does bring it about.

    (6) If God exists, a world would exist where free creatures do only good deeds. (From 3, 4, and 5.)

    (7) Such a world does not exist.

    (8) God does not exist. (From 6 and 7.)

    Now, as it stands, that is (I think) a formally valid argument. That is, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true too. So are the premises true? In this case the premises are 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7. 1 is true by definition. I think 2 is clearly true. 5 is surely true. It may be the case that, sometimes, people want to do something and are able to do it, but don't; weakness of will (acrasia) is an example. But God shouldn't suffer from such problems. 7 is obviously true. That leaves just 4. I would say that 4 may not be true. It may be the case that God has some good reason for wanting free creatures to commit evil acts (note that this is not the same thing as saying that God wants there to be free creatures, who then commit evil acts). God actually wants people to do what is wrong. Possible? Certainly, since he may have some higher reason for it that we don't understand. Probable? Well, that's another matter.

    Note, again, that if you want to argue against (4) then you've basically given up the free will defence and collapsed it into another sort of defence, one where you argue not that evil is an unavoidable side effect of the misuse of creaturely free will, but that it is forms a positive part of God's plan for the world.

    That sounds interesting!

    Actually I think Taliesin's point was that God could have created free creatures who don't commit evil, in which case he was disagreeing with you.

    The same as any other academic discipline. That is, not very much, and whoever you can get.

    Ah - I was thinking of an earlier book by him. See, I'm not up to date in philosophy of religion (which is what all that stuff about the problem of evil has been, not theology)!

    No, because I don't have time to read many novels and there are already too many on the list that I haven't read yet! That one looks quite fun though. The best comic treatment of that sort of thing that I've read is Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
     
  12. Taliesin

    Taliesin Puttin' on the Ritz

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    Plotinus, do you intend to return to England to teach once you have your doctorate, or do you wish to stay in Singapore? Or do you think it likely that you'll have to move to the U.S. somewhere to find a teaching position?
     
  13. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't know what I'll do. I'll probably want to be in Britain somewhere, but it depends a lot on what my girlfriend is doing (she is changing career right now, so it's very uncertain). I don't think I'd want to live in the US. But I don't know if I even will get a teaching position at all - it's so difficult now, especially if, like me, you're not clearly a specialist in a narrow field. Plus I'm older than many fresh PhDs would be, and that makes a big difference nowadays too. I may end up going back into publishing... what a thought...
     
  14. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Now, I could dispute this. I can imagine a being that is legitimately divine, yet cannot bring about everything that is logically possible. In fact, this is what I do in fact believe and is part of my answer to the problem of evil.
     
  15. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    The Problem of Evil is also a bound collection of essays on the topic, and is many years old (at least, I read it many years ago).

    There are many answers to the problem of evil; each not fully satisfying in itself. However, apologists will often barrage a critiquer with multiple answers, overwhelming previous critiques.

    Now, what I've noticed though, is that the answers are not internally consistent within themselves - they assume different premises amongst themselves, some of which contradict themselves.

    This is one of many reasons why it has not be publically deemed to be 'solved'. I'm sure that within a few decades of the problem being solved (if it can be), I'll find out about it ... so I'm not too worried about rehashing the arguments and going over why people are holding conflicting premises.

    Keep in mind that many concepts of 'God' include personal revelation; the idea that God speaks or communes with faithful, especially during times of prayer. This means that people can achieve a mindset that allows them this sense of communion which (understandably) constitutes proof to them that God exists. Of the CFCers, I find Eran to be the most prominent in espousing this view for his personal belief.

    And this moves into the next point. There are hosts of people who read Genesis, pray, and are 'moved' to believe that God created the universe 6000 years ago, yadda, yadda, yadda. While Evolution does not disprove the ephemeral 'God', it does prove that the entity that these people are communicating with is not what they believe it to be. There are many theories with regards to what their prayers are doing to them, and who those prayers are communicating with, of course.

    Okay, my question:
    I note that you're writing a thesis on the thoughts and works of an individual. Do you find it strange that we're devoting so many man-years to deducing what an ancient person meant when he wrote what he wrote? I'm not talking about studying his writings in order to add to them (this beautiful ability is what allows us to advance as a species), but studying into the man himself.

    If I were to guess; I would think that more man-years have been devoted to deducing the man's thoughts than the man actually lived. In the sum of things, isn't it inefficient to do it this way?

    Does that question really make sense? To me, it makes sense to learn what the man's contribution was, and then add to it. It doesn't make sense to spend more research-time on his life than he actually spent on it himself. It's not like he's a super-human, and we can only hope to appreciate all the wisdom he gave us with years of study; he's merely a man, and so we should be able to glean wisdom from him faster than he was able to give it.

    Did he alter society so much that it's worth examining him in such great detail?
     
  16. Turner

    Turner Chieftain Retired Moderator

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    You should pick a copy up for when you can read it. I always read before going to bed, so that's when I do a large part of my reading.
     
  17. classical_hero

    classical_hero In whom I trust

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    I would like some proof backing these things you just said. The main problem with the Septuaguit is the fact that they are written in Greek when clearly the OT was either written in Hebrew or Aramaic. And this brings me to the Apocrypha, because if they are to be part of the Jewish cannon, then why do we not see any Hebrew or Aramiac originals?
     
  18. Bill3000

    Bill3000 OOOH NOOOOOOO! Supporter

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    He is not arguing what is, or what isn't, Christian canon. He's talking about what actually happened in history. If you read his previous post:

    If you're disturbed by this fact, that's fine. You're also disturbed by the idea of evolution. That doesn't mean that you have the right to deny it for the sake of keeping your beliefs, however. Your agenda is quite clear in your post, that of trying to deny the canonity of the Septuaguit, despite the fact that all he is talking about is the actual process of how it was considered canon or not canon, not if it is actually canon. In such a context, asking for the proof of his claims is irrelevant, any more so than asking for proof of a scientific consensus is irrelevant. It may be a natural response, and if you would be fine if he did offer empirical evidence rather than arguing over if such a claim is true, that would be fine. However, your posting record says otherwise.
     
  19. mangxema

    mangxema I

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    Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but isn't the primary definition of a cult any sort of strong and organized religious following? I know nowadays there is the added assumption that a cult is crazy or strange, but I thought this wasn't always the case. (Kind of like how 'queer' has a different definition now...)

    I've never been able to read much of the Bible either; I'd start at different point and lose interest after a dozen chapters. I asked because in my opinion there are some entertaining stories, as God seems much more willing to open up a can. From what little I've read, I'd say the beginning of Exodus (the showdown part, not the history of Moses) was a good read.

    But is merely a superior being still divine? I think before I've ementioned that we do have some similar belief (namely, the non-omni-everything creator).
    However, I don't see how I could worship a being who simply smarter than me, stronger than me. Respect, yes. But a god who can't do everything seems like a contradiction. (That probably could have been worded better, but I'm not that familiar with religious lingo, and the dictionary has me running in circles..)
     
  20. Sidhe

    Sidhe Chieftain

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    If God does or did exist what would he have done differently, in your opinion.

    In other words Hypothetically speaking if you knew for sure that God doesn't exist in this world and then you were transported to universe B, where God absolutely and provably exists, what difference do you think there would be.

    Make the assumption that in this real situation now God absolutely does not exist. And that tomorrow you will be transported to a universe where he does exist and then back to here.

    When you've worked out what the question means:eek: sorry I'm sure I could of put it more clearly, what would have happened do you think?:)
     
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