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RD Extra: The Problem of Non-God Objects

This RD Extra is a lecture delivered by Justin Schieber to CFI Michigan on August 22nd 2012

Discription: In this week’s presentation, Justin Schieber will present – and defend from possible objections – an argument against a Christian view of the divine that insists upon God’s perfection while maintaining that God alone is responsible for intentionally creating non-god objects.The Christian scriptures seem clear; John 1:3 says ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.’ They are equally clear about this God’s ontological and moral perfection. But, are these beliefs compatible with the existence of non-God objects?

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Comments

  1. Stefan says

    It was good and I liked the Q&A quite a bit…I’m almost done and I want to ask: was there a slide show with this? The argument was a bit difficult to follow for a visual person like myself, I couldn’t keep the premises stored in my working memory (so to speak) long enough to follow it all comfortably.

    In any case, thanks – good listen!

  2. Greg Esres says

    I think you may have committed the fallacy of division when you countered the argument that the world that God created was equally as perfect as when God existed alone; you countered that the world could not be perfect since human beings did not meet the standard of perfection that God did.

  3. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    It just happens because of the way that he is. Not because of a desire actually. [...] First, creation was not a free act. And the most important act of god seems to be creation, so if god is a free being, it kinda seems a bit silly for god to have his most important act not be a free act.

    Free act? What’s the distinction between personality and situational/external influence in a universe that contains one mind and nothing else? Wouldn’t every act be free there? If it’s a compositional influence, there’s a euthyphral physics/psychology problem.
     

    We don’t really congratulate machines when they do things just because of their nature. We congratulate things when they intentionally have a goal and they achieve it. We don’t pat a frog on the back because he’s green.

    The distinction between desire and compulsion can get murky. Hmm, corporeal dualists could handwave compulsions as failures of their uninfluenced spirits to inhibit their body’s impulses, so a non-physical being might be exempted.

  4. jakemetzger says

    I think there’s an equivocation happening in this argument between two notions of a perfection as they are applied to worlds. The first notion of perfection involves the the lack of imperfection (or flawlessness) at the world. The second notion involves the insuperability of that world. While these two notions are perhaps identical in discussions of perfection as applied to beings, I don’t see why they are identical in discussions of worlds, unless we’re simply decreeing it so by fiat. It seems obvious to me that a world with God alone, sans creation, lacks any imperfection at that world, but it is not so obvious that such a world is insuperable. God, as the being which maximally exemplifies the broadest possible set of co-instantiable goods, is still a single being. A world may consist of many beings and thus, for example, incompatible properties may be simultaneously instantiable at worlds but not in beings. Thus at worlds with non-perfect beings, many goods may be exemplified that are not co-instantiable by the same being along with other goods. For example, being a skilled surfer is not co-instantiable with being imminent in the world, though both qualities are both arguably goods. In short, I don’t see why a world that is flawless (perfect in the first sense) must be insuperable (perfect in the second sense), and similarly I don’t see why an insuperable world must be flawless.

  5. John McSorley says

    Hello – I was listening to your talk on the way home last night and i thought of a possible objection. I am not a philosopher so please forgive me if this has already been addressed and i failed to appreciate that.

    My objection concerns the creation of non perfect objects being undesirable and my concern was the possibility of the desirability of imperfection. The example that went through my mind was the cracked glaze on a vase that makes the vase look ‘better’ than if it had been perfect.

    Can an argument be made that an artisitic creation can be better appreciated and perfection enhanced(?) by knowledge and examples of imperfection?

  6. says

    @John McSorley

    “My objection concerns the creation of non perfect objects being undesirable and my concern was the possibility of the desirability of imperfection.”

    But taking this into account, the vase would have maximal perfection. Thus the vase would, in the first place, not qualify as non-perfect (with the crack) since the vase (with the crack) is perfect.

    Also

    The problem I have, not so much with this argument, but with ontological arguments involving God, is that the term ‘perfect’ is spurious.

    I can only understand perfect as a goal-directed adjective such that A is perfect for B, or this catapult is perfect for getting this stone over the wall in such and such a manner.

    Now, one could say that God is perfect at being God, but this implies an infinite regress or circularity.

    The other problem is that perfection of a being involves multiple aspects such that, as the classic problem goes, God cannot be perfectly just AND perfectly merciful. With all of these characterisitics which conflict, the theist retreats to maximal perfection. But this becomes arbitrary and subjective. One more ounce of mercy and one less ounce of justice might be perfect for a God wanting to achieve A, but vice versa might be better for wanting to achieve B.

    Therefore, we need to establish, without circularity or incoherence, what God is to be perfect FOR, before establishing whether God is or can be perfect. To have a timeless God sitting there and label it perfect is, to me, meaningless (as a stand-alone descriptor).

    Therefore, and given the subjective nature of appraisals of perfection, I see any argument using the term perfection as incoherent.

    I think (though I may need to thinkon this some more)…

  7. Steve says

    @Jonathan, Aristotle has an interesting two step that he does at the beginning of the Nichomachean Ethics. He’s seeking to define the ideal (or “virtuous” as he puts it) human being. He notes that all things have a purpose and perfect things fulfill their purpose perfectly. A hammer, for instance, is for pounding nails, a flute for playing music. Good ones have a specific form, substance and area of application in which we can assess their perfectness. A hammer shaped properly and used to pound nails but made of foam rubber ain’t perfect. All three things have to come togther.

    He then asks what is the purpose of a human being, assuming that it is absurd to think a flute or a hammer has a purpose but human being does not. Note: nowhere does he establish that a human being has a purpose. He just assumes it and begins to build his argument for what such a person needs to be.

    Your idea about first establishing God’s purpose (his telos) seems to be running along the same lines. In order to say whether God is perfect, we first have to know what his purpose is. And that leads to some problems (incompatibility of attributes for one thing and problems of why a perfect being would need to do anything else than be perfect).

    An interesting question I’ve considered is what if the creation of non-God objects was unintentional? Call this a spandrel theory of God. In architecture, when you set out to make arches you unintentionally create spandrels (a sort of inverted chevron space between the arches. There just a by-product of something else.

    Indeed, such an unintentional creator might even be consonant with a universe that appears purposeless. Of course nothing would prevent this hypothetical creator from coming to love the unintentional byproduct of its act. We do it all the time (as, to cite an earlier idea, when a painter comes to appreciate the unintentionally created cracks in varnish on an oil painting). I’ve even heard scientists talk of our love of music as a kind of spandrel of evolutionary biology. Imagine that: Mozart, Bach and Louis Armstrong thrown up by accident. I know I would find it a poorer universe if this uninteional accident had never happened.

    And then, if you think like Boethius, God had such a superabundance of love that it kind of spilled over and loved a world he never sought to make. To intervene to fix this imperfect world would be to alter the very thing he loved; it would be to remove Mozart.

    I don’t believe this, of course, but I do find the idea of a loving, unintentional and even hapless God a rather sad and hauntingly beautiful notion.

  8. says

    @Steve

    Interesting points, and I have written of this before. To deal with your unintentional byproduct:

    A perfect God would never have anything that could be unintentional – perfect foreknowledge would put pay to that (although all of this intention and deliberating without time is nonsense anyway).

    Secondly, I don’t think humanity can have ‘objectuive’ purpose unless there is a God or creator to give them purpose. Purposing requires a purposer. The purpose of a spade is in the design, and its perfectness is in fulfilling the criteria – set out by the creator. For example, a bird might find the spade perfect for a perch, and if sentient, the spade might say “I don’t want to dig, my puspoe is to hang out in the shed and chat up the hoes!”

    So, though the designer may have a purpose for its creation, that cannot be anything but a subjective purpose set out by the designer. Both the created (if sentient and rational) and other entities can assign their own equally valid purposes. I set this out here:

    http://atipplingphilosopher.yolasite.com/the-meaning-of-life.php

    What this means is that God cannot have an objective purpose, but only a self-reflective subjective one. And the purpose for the world and any non-God object is subjective too, from God’s point of view.

    The perfection of such can only be seen in the context of the person appraising and conceiving perfection.

    For God, he can only be perfect by his own standards about himself for a purpose he sets himself. However, this is still only subjective.

    I don’t think it matters that God is all that and a bag of chips – I don’t think that qualifies as objectifying standards which are his alone (ie subjective), if you get me.

  9. Steve says

    Well my idea was less an argument and more a poetic conceit. Omniscience would indeed rule out the possibility of unintentionality.

  10. Greg Esres says

    I have to admit that my eyes glaze over whenever I encounter the idea of “God exists outside of time”. That’s an expression without meaning; there’s nothing that we understand as thought that can take place without the existence of time.

  11. zzwarszz says

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  12. warchimps says

    youtube.com/watch?v=gHbYJfwFgOU

    which WORLD-VIEW will not exist, sh*thead?

    ___________

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet

    how the divine pen of Michel N. crushed the international atheist movement

    skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18660

    youtube.com/watch?v=s3lwG4MytSI

    one applicant right here…

    get the POINT, Randi….

    for lies on top of lies

    youtube.com/watch?v=bbmXpNEFipE

    do you think you can threaten my right to FREE SPEECH?

    what if I told you that I am not who you think I am….

    Not Dennis Markuze – but a FAN!

    youtube.com/watch?v=nvatDdOWcLw&lc

    you’re not the center of the universe!

    youtube.com/watch?v=3yRpSNIOwA4

    a dishonest liar

    ____

    youtube.com/watch?v=ruQFh_TkPto

    WHINE WHINE WHINE

    ______________

    BRING IT ON!

  13. Leon says

    As much as I enjoyed the podcast, I grow tired of arguments against the theist, for how long must one prove that the world is round before it is simply fact? Can we not move on to deistic arguments, however collosal the task? I am fully aware of the claimed implausibility of a valid argument against a deistic god, for how long must we kick a downed opponent?

  14. says

    @Leon
    Is this not an argument against the deistic God? The ontological argument only allows us to arrive at a conception of the greatest conceivable God. It is other (historical) evidence which supposedly leads to a narrower conception of a particular God. Most logical arguments attempt to refute a nondescript conception of a God. Here is my take on the argument, as linked above:
    http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/09/03/argument-against-a-perfect-being-creating-the-world/

  15. gryphaea says

    Hi.

    I agree that the argument is only relevant deployed against a particular theology. It isn’t of universal significance, though I would say this is down to theologies generally mushy nature. I cringe a little when anyone says they prefer Chopra’s argument since I have never heard the man say anything that isn’t just a colourful word jumble designed through selection to make his audiences make cooing noises.

    Anyway. A nugget of an idea formed while listening to this podcast and I wondered whether you thought there was any usefulness in pursing ‘souls’ as non-God objects? If God knows everything a human soul is going to do, but still creates the non-God object anyway and injects it into the body (as in the case of say Hitler etc) to go on this path that God knows it will do even prior to its creation then this extends the problem of the moral implications of non-God objects into the theology of the soul.

    I think what is leading me towards an objection around this is the notion of free-will being about our actions on the human level, but that the ‘soul’ is somehow different and a more magical thing. But the soul, which religions romanticise, is an idea that I wish was taken to task more. Perhaps I have just been pushed over the edge by the usefulness religions have found in differentiating between the soul and biological evolution.
    If even as a sort of disembodied lump of energy prior to performing even a single action by ‘free-will’ (or actioning free-will) this magical entity is imperfect; if even prior to its creation and while still just an idea of Gods an individual soul is imperfect, such as Hitlers soul prior to the point it was manifested, then what does this say about the (realm of?) perfection of God – even prior to the creation of space and time etc?

  16. says

    Good speech. I fear that you’re most likely to get pushback from theists if you use it in a debate, with your definition of a non-god object. If they already feel as though god is omnipresent, you’re already running into the possibility that there could be something that literally resides in, well, everything, that is god.

    Also, knowing how some theists like to twist scientific discoveries to suit their own ends, the recent announcement that a subatomic particle with Higgs-like properties could fit this agenda quite neatly. This will only be magnified by the unfortunate term “god particle” for this boson. If this particle can literally be found in every atom, then, yes, god is everywhere and as a consequence, there’s no such thing as a non-god object.

    Of course, if they do go down that road, then you can challenge the “perfection” definition of god itself, so you’ve basically won the argument anyway.

  17. Trace says

    If I understood the objection at min 49 to your argument (that this world has existed eternally within God’s mind and therefore there never was world P) then there’s a number of implications. If there was never a creation of our world or a decision to make our world distinct from world P or preferable to any other potential world, then all possible worlds are equally a part of God’s consciousness and there’s an infinite multiverse being played out in God’s mind. This would make our world no more special, perfect, or deliberate than any other world, and there are significant theological complications that follow from that.

    I think Jeremy (?) was right when he pointed out that the only way to get around this problem would be to limit God’s omniscience so that he could only conceive of our world (since in this framework conceptualization is equivalent to existence). Which is kind of funny because that means I have a greater imagination than God, the supposedly maximally great being.

    This also suggests that God’s free will was limited such that our actual world is the only truly possible world. If He literally could not conceive of any other world, and did not make a deliberate choice to bring our world into existence, then that would again make the universe a necessary being. and then we run into the same problems you articulated before about God being merely mechanistic.

  18. John McSorley says

    Hi – thanks for your prompt attention in reply 9.

    I am afraid that since I am too dumb to know when I am beaten I want to try pushing this further.

    To remind you my comment was about.

    My objection concerns the creation of non perfect objects being undesirable and my concern was the possibility of the desirability of imperfection.

    Now whilst that sentence certainly adds support to the comment made about theology being mental masturbation i have kept at it (mentally) and think i would like to phrase it diffrently in order to see whether my point was unclear or if i did not understand your reply.

    To rephrase – is it possible that there is no ONE perfect state of perfection? That in order to be the one perfect being you must exist in multiple states? Is there a state of perfect solitude AND a state of perfect harmony?can they both exist at the same time? To go back to my original simile is the vase perfest with a perfect glaze and simaltaneously perfect with a pretty pattern of flaws?
    Could then god be merely moving between these multiple perfect states?

    Thats one point. I dont think it would be hard to move from that position to a discussion about the trinity and using that to ‘support’ multiple perfection.

    My second point or rephrasing then gets to non god objects themselves.

    This may need rephrasing but since this is my first attempt to put it down it may be garbled. Assuming there is multiple perfect states and using the example of a vase with a cracked glaze then is at least one type of perfection being observed and loved? Could you then take this to mean a form of perfection that requires non-god objects in order to be perfect? I think there is an argument there and it could be extended to then say that there are so many non god objects that he needs to be viewed in that many ways to see all the ways he is perfect?

    or was that whole point just more mental fiddling?

    I think your argument rests entirely on ther being A perfect state of perfection rahter than MULTIPLE states of perfection.

    Or this was the ramblings of a moron who is not getting what you said.

  19. DSimon says

    I have a question about your introduction. You said that there are two classes for atheology: incompatibility between God and the world, or incompatibility between two of God’s attributes.

    What about the empirical argument? i.e. that the burden of proof for God’s existence is on theists, that they have presented no good evidence, and therefore belief in God is not justified.

    I guess you could say that it’s of the first class since the evidence, if it existed, would be in the world. But that seems not quite right to me, because it skips past the part where even belief in non-interventionist gods is unjustified, even though the we doesn’t have evidence to contradict them. Russell’s teapot and all that.

  20. says

    I discuss objections relating to there being more than one perfect state of affairs (And so creation was a horizontal rather than a vertical move) starting at minute 30:20.

  21. says

    @John McSorley

    Ah, a good bit of self-deprecating humour always makes me smile. I think I get you now; however, I think it still problematic. This is because it seems to defy the law of non-contradiction such that State A and non-A are simultaneously perfect (of that perfection rests in both existing). The former defies logic, the latter means that simply everything in conception must exist in order to satisfy perfection.

    In order to say perfection exists in a certain number of perfect states, you still potentially have the problem of establishing that those states in particular achieve perfection over and above other states. To get round this, you would have to argue that some kind of omni-existence satisfies perfection.

    I think it is also important to explain what you mean by “existing in different states.” Does this mean, ‘before’ time, God existed in different states / multiple states? This needs some unpicking.

    “Could you then take this to mean a form of perfection that requires non-god objects in order to be perfect? ”

    This defies the Ontological Argument upon which Justin’s argument depends somewhat – that God is the greatest possible entity in conception. Thus a being which needed an imperfect non-God entity to be perfect seems intuitively less perfect than a God which has that perfection intrinsically. In other words, God is better than God + 1 !

    It’s late, and I am struggling to make sense to myself.

  22. says

    @gryphaea

    I agree: souls are an incoherent concept and need to be dismantled and unpicked. Theists get away with falling back upon this nebulous and ill-defined term.

    I created a few videos some time ago showing that souls cannot exist:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynPIPE1ZGhA

    I also formulated an argument against the soul called The Argument from Format about which I would be interested to see what you think:
    http://atipplingphilosopher.yolasite.com/soul-descartes-essay.php

    The essay looks at defending premise 2 to this syllogism:

    P1 – An entity which exists has properties and identity.

    P2 – In order for the entity to be recognised with such properties and identity it must have a format which exists within a framework of deterministic laws and behaviours.

    P3 – The soul, if it exists, is the originator of free will (a la Descartes).

    P4 – If the soul exists, it must have a format and a framework of deterministic laws to enable it to be identified as such.

    C – Therefore, either the soul does not exist, or it is not the originator of free will (it is deterministic).

  23. Scott Hines says

    Just listened, and I will read through the comments carefully and offer critique if I think of any, but I must express my extremely positive emotion!

    A wonderful talk Justin!!!

    You are an unsung hero as an atheologist, I love your contributions to Reasonable Doubts, and this was a crowning achievement :-)

    You are truly a theo-philosophical-atheological Teen Idol :-)

    Thank you for a great talk and for a boat load of hard work and careful thought!

  24. Llewelyn says

    i listen to the reasonable doubts podcast because it amuses me

    i come from the uk and in my 42 years, i doubt i have met more than 3 believers in my life

    this is almost definitely a cultural issue, but is it really necessary to tangle yourselves into verbal knots to disprove an absolutely nonsensical premise?

    i found the presentation to be a train wreck

    surely when somebody argues that god exists all you have to do is ‘lol’

    there are so many more important issues in the world to devote your time to..aren’t there?

  25. Llewelyn says

    You are welcome…

    What I think I’m trying to say is that there are more serious issues to test your intellect on than whether gaawd exists..surely any right minded person realises the question is absurd in the first place..

  26. says

    I am not one of those people. I find the question to be pretty important, interesting and worth taking seriously.

    Ultimately, I think the answer is probably no but I didn’t get that way by being dismissive.

  27. says

    Llewellyn,
    I am a Brit too. However, I recognise the danger right-wing religio-political thought poses to the world. It is rife in the States and affects policy decisions greatly.

    I am also a teacher who is very frightened by childhood indoctrination. The education issues involving science in the States are creeping over here. You only have to look at the Conservatives silly push for “Free Schools” to realise that it is not just silly, but downright dangerous. When there is a remit for any organisation, religious or otherwise, to start running our schools irrespective of the National Curriculum, then you have a huge worry.

    And this is directly as a result of people believing in Gawd.

    I spoend my days arguing with them in the UK and in the US, and many hold positions of reponsibility and importance.

  28. says

    As long as the pressure of the fluid being contained does not exceed the contact stress of the O-ring The physical sealing performance of Square rings in static applications is superior to that of O-rings increase in dimensions and the overall build-up of charge within rubber that may cause it to behave like a capacitor electrostatic dissipative Dynamic examples include rotating pump shafts There are variations in cross-section design other than circular rubber components

  29. andrewviceroy says

    Fun lecture and I couldn’t wait to see your take on this subject. When I argue from this angle, I usually focus on insisting how the theist describe a non-god object as not being from god- more of a “where did god get the raw materials and how does he separate himself from them?” approach (turning the “Deepak Chopra question” on its head). I also use that Matt.7:13-14 verse quite a lot when getting into consequentialist thinking and evaluations in this context (because majorities burning in hell as a result are very salient). I also use the Trinity a lot to take the place of any secondary good produced by the world that could have occured in that relationship.

    I think is that most Christians frame the subject in a “triumph” paradigm; just like w/ the POE, the triumph is always considered more valuable than ‘not triumph’ and the atheist is perceived as lacking nuance in her version of perfection. We have no difficulty finding examples of temporarily deferring pleasure for a greater good and that goes into play here. Thus, the hazy equivocating of ‘perfection’ becomes irrelevant. Somehow, sucking time out of it in ‘the beginning’ seems to allow for that beginning version of god to be a seed that is still the tree, with its many branches of worlds. It’s a more open/process theism direction, but there you go. And that is why these discussions are important: they can help turn theists into deists, which everyone benefits from!

  30. andrewviceroy says

    @ Jonathan Pierce. I am so happy to read your link concerning what you call The Argument from Format. I wrote a book that has a chapter that argues against contra-causal dualism in much the same way (the chapter is called The Causal Vacuum). Free pdf here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/109894045/The-Right-Track-The-Track-That-s-Left-Exploring-Predispositionalism Yours is clearer and better laid out than mine (with a formal version that mine lacked), but you can see where they overlap in places. I tried to focus on the intersection between phenomenal aspect of it and the inherent properties of the definitions themselves (and what they require to be accessed)- what you, in a somewhat similar (but admittedly better!) explanation, called “format” (which I also prefer). In that book, I drew off some of the psychological evidence for the old Sapir Whorf hypothesis, such as that which has been revived by people like George Lakoff.

  31. says

    I do not believe in any interventionist kind of god, but I must admit I rarely meet (anti-religious) atheists who have a good argument against such religious root-ideas at all. The problem is usually our reading of religious books and ideas with Westerner’s eyes – and in the context of the bible it usually means adopting the bible literalist (or even fundamentalist) point of view and criticizing religion on the basis of these fundamentalist or biblicist premises.

    The problem is already visible in the name of this blog (“Debunking Christianity” presupposes a conflict-based approach) and the title of this article (“The Universe Disproves…”). What does the Universe disprove? It disproves nothing at all, it cannot disprove anything.

    But then, the argument itself. I don’t know well Justin Schieber, but a quick glance makes it clear that the argument presumes a world created by God in a pretty deistic kind of way. And it suffices to read a book like, let’s say, E. Richard’s “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes” in order to understand that the whole Western World – including Christianity (and of course most of its atheists too) have come to understand God as the famous master Watchmaker – winding up the world then letting it run on its own. This was never the Hebrew / Jewish idea of god to begin with. The Hebrews were no Gnostics, they could only think of God as actively maintaining the world ever since. This is actually closer to pantheism than Gnosticism – but the West has much more of a crush for Gnosticism – just ask Dan Brown fans. And so do Christians – probably more subconsciously than they would be willing to admit.

    So one of the central point in the argument (point 7: “Non-God objects exist in the actual world”) would never make any sense to the original authors of the God-creator idea. Of course, for us Westerners, from the Torah on we will all too eaily feel disconnected from the ‘Abrahamic’ god (assuming that god would exist – for the sake of simplicity here). Yet, those very scriptures start with the creation story, long before Torah, making the whole thing universal from the start – and this is why the Jews were almost ‘doomed’ (sic) to become Universalists – although they didn’t have the courage until St Paul made that happen, obviously based on the teachings of Jesus (in the earliest, probably still oral versions of the gospels of Mark & Matthew).

    And then there is Jesus, the Jew who never judged people known as ‘sinners’ to the ‘politically correct’ world of his days. This is possible because the roots of this approach were already embedded in Genesis, this idea of God who made mankind “in imagio Dei”. And for those who think “The Fall” breaks this unity, I think I should point out that Genesis 3 does not speak of “The Fall” – this is a doctrine fabricated by one of the early Church Fathers – it is no more Jewish than J.N. Darby’s “Rapture” fabrication has ever been Jewish.

    Now let’s see where we stand. One doesn’t have to believe in a god in order to understand how religion makes sense in a certain, ‘metaphorical’ way, in the language accessible to the mind for those who can still understand such language. Even while there are oh so many flawed aspects in religion, or let’s say human aspects – that doesn’t mean the human beings who made religion flourish in the past were all idiots or ill-willed people. They had the same cranial capacity, 30 billion brain cells and no doubt many good folks were honestly trying to search for meaning, they ware partaking in this human quest, just as we still do today. The fact that they came up with the god-idea is related to the fact that most people always realize there has to be something “beyond us” to give authority to our social structures – today many of us may not call it god anymore but we still can’t judge individually how to ‘rule’ the social landscape that we are, all of us together. Common sense is always a gift for those who do exceed their personal wants, including all into the big picture of Life – which means becoming inclusive, not exclusive. It means becoming human.

    The god idea is essentially an expression of this, and no matter how you look at it, there cannot be “Non-God objects” – and in this I would always agree with my Christian friends. The problem is not in theism versus atheism (those are just “bloatware” terms, they are a cover-up of something underneath which is no so hard-wired to conflict as so many tend to think it is). Our Western mind tends towards exclusivism today – as in radical Islam, as in Christian fundamentalism, and as in the ‘new atheism’. Too bad, because we have a long secular tradition of engaging, and seeing ourselves as part of the whole, not as standing apart and seeing all error at the far end of our pointing finger.

    The problem with many atheists is probably that they so want to be “Non-God objects” that they don’t see the growth path of religions anymore (maybe that’s a “nine eleven complex”). So while many Christians today do NOT think of their world as filled with “Non-God objects”, there are the ‘militants’ of atheism who want to be exactly that. They cannot make themselves acquainted with an idea of “the divine” which is more abstract, and therefore more intellectual and more spiritual and more “inclusive” than what they are used to think of as atheists. Christianity needs reform, and so does Islam – but so does atheism as well. I wish atheism becomes less of a Richard Dawkins thing and more of an Alain de Botton thing and a Thomas Nagel thing. The World would only become a better place for all of us.

  32. Justin Schieber says

    Thanks jcmmanuel but the argument was explicitly aimed at ansmian theism as I said in the lecture.

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