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Author Topic: "omnipotence"
Pete at Home
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On another thread, http://www.ornery.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=009575;p=17 , Seekingprometheus said:

quote:
It sounds like you and Dawkins agree on the point under discussion: There is no such thing as a distinct, omnipotent Creator. Now if you'd just convince the other 99% of Christians who don't understand this, I'm sure Dawkins would be happy to address the issue of demigods.
I replied:

quote:
Seekingprometheus, if you read "Omnipotent" simply as meaning that God can do everything that can be done, then God remains "omnipotent." I've spent far more time trying to persuade my fellow Christians to accept God as the Bible describes him, i.e. the one who created "everything that was created" rather than everything period. I find that many, when confronted with the evidence, simply admit that they may be wrong about what God can or cannot do.
seekingprometheus said:

quote:
Personally, I've got no problem with a little watering down of the concept of omnipotence. (As long as you remain in the appropriate realm of pantheism, of course [Wink] ).
I recognize the winky as some token of a joke, but jokes usually have some sort of referent to reality. Humanizing God is a step away from pantheism. But if you're as familiar with LDS theology as you seem to be with obscure 19th century turns of phrase [Frown] , then you know that. Are just going through LDS theology and selectively inverting a few aspects here and there in order to bait a response?

quote:
The flaw I see is positing the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent entity within a world within which evil is averred to exist--unless the a priori parameters you dub "eternal laws" are extended so far as to encompass fatalistic determinism--or the term "omnipotent" is rendered so strangely as to have no meaning.
I absolutely reject fatalistic determinism, and I challenge you to take that argument to another thread and explain why you see determinism as necessary. I see Free Will as one of the laws that God does not violate. That our ability to choose for ourselves predates God's creation.
quote:
To wit: If for any given entity "Good" is attaining Salvation or Exaltation or Apotheosis (to take a Mormon conceit I view with fondness), and said entity is really capable of attaining this telic state of being--then it follows that "potence" is capable of achieving this "Good" thing. This "Good" thing is capable of being "done" according to the eternal laws which bound omnipotence. If there really were an omnipotent, omnibenevolent entity, then it should follow that the omnipotence would bring this "Good" thing to pass for each and every entity (unless, of course, omnibenevolence is tempered by omni-apathy). It is a thing which can be done, and it is a "Good" thing, and since we have a being who can do anything that can be done and does all good things which can be done, it is certain to get done--right? If any single one of these "Good" things which are capable of being done remains undone, then some sad condemned entity is left to confusedly reassess our definitions of the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of our God-entity in damned misery (an "Ungood" thing, it would seem).
That turgid language evades my comprehension. En anglais, s'il vous plais?

Setting aside what you call the straw man until I at least understand the argument. I don't recall talking about salvation/exaltation here. I was talking about God as limited creator of this imperfect world.

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Redskullvw
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is this where someone inserts some reference to SSM and derails the thread?
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Pete at Home
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but when Red misbehaves, it's only for the common good.
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Redskullvw
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Very observant Pete.
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0Megabyte
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"Omnipotence. Gotta get me some of that!"

Cookie for those who get the reference.

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Jordan
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quote:
Pete:
That turgid language evades my comprehension. En anglais, s'il vous plais?

It's Christmas Eve, so here's an early present: the gift of misinterpretation:

quote:
If the definition of good for any being is "attaining to a higher state" (for example, in LDS theology, godhood), and any being is capable of attaining this higher state, it follows that power can be exercised to do good things. Therefore[?], this good thing can be done within the laws which govern all-powerful beings. If there is an all-powerful and all-good being, it should compel other beings to do good things: it is a good thing which can be done by exercising power, and since this being can do anything and does all good things it can do, it is certain to do this. If any single good thing is not done, then some being is left condemned (which is not a good thing).
The "therefore" in the second sentence is highly speculative, but I put it in because if it is intentional, it exposes a particular assertion which I feel is incorrect. (But don't make too much of that now, because I'm just as likely to be interpreting SP badly!) Incidentally, except for that, I thought the rest of what he was saying was pretty clear. Especially:

quote:
SP:
It is a thing which can be done, and it is a "Good" thing, and since we have a being who can do anything that can be done and does all good things which can be done, it is certain to get done--right?

You'll notice that all I did was gently abridge that sentence. I particularly liked the repeated motif of "can be done"—IMO a very nice literary and rhetorical device.
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KnightEnder
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Omnipotence. Don't they make a little blue pill for that?

KE

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Pete at Home
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Point, KE.

Thanks Jordan. Assuiming that's what he meant:
quote:
It is a thing which can be done, and it is a "Good" thing, and since we have a being who can do anything that can be done and does all good things which can be done, it is certain to get done--right?
As I've pointed out before, passive voice covereth a multitude of fallacies. Prometheus' construction becomes absurd by ignoring the simple question of who is scratching whom. If I get an itch in my ass, it might be a "good thing" for me to find a private place to scratch it. One might argue that it was still a "bad thing" for someone else to walk up unbidden and scratch my itch.

[ December 24, 2006, 05:59 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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seekingprometheus
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Sorry for the lack of promptness in response. I am currently a-christmas-travelling, and will have limited internet access for the next coupla days.

Jordan: ...kind of.

I didn't intend to define "Goodness" except in terms of a particular instance of hypothetical "Goodness". (Personally, I believe that "Good" is properly conceived of as an entirely subjective concept, but that is a whole 'nuther ball of wax). Neither did I speculate on the operations necessary to accomplish "Goodness".

...called away from computer--will continue when I get a chance...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If I get an itch in my ass, it might be a "good thing" for me to find a private place to scratch it. One might argue that it was still a "bad thing" for someone else to walk up unbidden and scratch my itch.
I think the dividing line here is drawn across the issue of urgency. While a scratchy butt isn't something that you might want someone else to scratch if you can't get to it -- although even that is questionable, depending on circumstance -- I'd wager that, say, someone else's intervention at a crucial moment when you're about to be shot would not be frowned upon.
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Pete at Home
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True, Tom, but here again passive voice casts its numbing effect on the discussion, obscuring the question of who is doing the frowning or questioning. One might also ask "urgent to whom?"

If I'm taking a timed test, and don't know the answer, I feel an urgent need to get an answer. If one of my fellow-students, or a proctor, steps in and gives me information that I should have worked out on my own, I might be grateful. It still does not follow that the fellow-student or proctor did the right thing.

Like you said, it depends on circumstances.

And sometimes one point of view fails to take in all of the circumstances.

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seekingprometheus
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Merry Christmas!

Pre-dawn hours locally means that I probably have at least least 20 minutes before little nieces (aged 7, 5 and 2) rouse the world with importunities--eager little living alarm clocks set to an absurd hour once a year. (A glance in the living room informs me that Santa was amenable to the task of pimping the materialistic orgy that shall begin anon). So we shall see if I can't compose a response before the frenzy begins.

My argument is that a being whose attributes include omnipotence and omnibenevolence cannot exist in a world characterized by the persistence of "Ungood."

You may insert "Evil" for "Ungood" if the latter term seems too turgid to be intelligible, but I'll submit that such a term requires a discussion of teleology which would be tangential to our topic. (For those who find find my constructions bombastic: dat means we'd haf to git to talkin 'bout a whole 'nuther matter to use the word "evil" right and proper).

Here is what Amer. Her. dict. has for "omnipotent":
quote:
om·nip·o·tent (ŏm-nĭp'ə-tənt) Pronunciation Key
adj. Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful. See Usage Note at infinite.

n.
One having unlimited power or authority: the bureaucratic omnipotents.
Omnipotent God. Used with the.

...but here (at Pete's request) we are using a qualified definition which places the limitations of "eternal laws" upon potence...
quote:
Originally by Pete at Home:
Seekingprometheus, if you read "Omnipotent" simply as meaning that God can do everything that can be done, then God remains "omnipotent."

Hence for the terms of this discussion, an entity is "omnipotent" if it can do everything that can be done.

"Omnibenevolence" is not a real, lexicon-certified, according-to-Hoyle word. This apparently confusing term was MacGyvered together out of "omni" and "benevolent" and a little literary duct tape to convey a superlative sense of the word "benevolent." For the purposes of this discussion, I've been using the term to mean "perfectly expressive of 'Good'." In my book, it's a handy way of saying that "God" is perfectly "Good." Everything an omnibenevolent entity does is Good and an omnibenevolent entity does not fail to do Good that can be done. (If we have problems with this term, let me know--but I'll not countenance a concept that allows the absence of Good actions through passive, neutral inaction to be included in the concept; at least not in this discussion).

...ahhh, it seems I am going to be wrested from the computer again--please forgive me for rudely hopping out of bed after this premature ejaculation:

The example I have been using as an act of "Good" is the attainment of the putative "purpose of existence" for any given entity. According to the mormon theology for which it seems Pete is apologizing, this purpose is "exaltation" which is an ultimate good for any individual (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). As I understand it, exaltation is a state of being that can theoretically be attained by any given son or daughter of God. An example of the "Good thing that can be done" is therefore: "John Doe attains exaltation." John Doe's attainment of a state of exaltation hypothetically can be accomplished within the limitations of power Pete has called "eternal laws." As this is a "thing that can be done," if it is not done, then Pete's God is either not Omnipotent or not perfectly Good, because He either cannot do this "Good thing which can be done" or he chooses not to do this "thing which He can do."

Pete: As for the scratching-ass absurdity (SP coughs to the side) if the Good thing that can be done is "attaining a state of non-itchiness" then implying that an act of sexual harassment might occur concurrently is a red herring. Sexual harassment is a Good or Ungood thing in its own right, thank you very much, let's not conflate issues.

As for whether I'm cherrypicking tenets and baiting...sorry if you feel baited, but you raised the topic of a mormon view of God's omnipotence. I'm merely pointing out the inconsistencies that come in tow.

Oh yeah--and the fatalistic determinism: I'm not a proponent either--glad we agree. I'm simply suggesting that writing fatalism into the "eternal laws" might be a creative way to circumvent the mistake of believing that a (quasi)omnipotent omnibenevolent being exists with "Ungood" in our world.

EDITED to add an "of".

[ December 25, 2006, 11:46 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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I did not ask you to use my limited version of omnipotent. I simply explained how some people might construe the word differently.


You are also mischaracterizing the discussion when you suggest that I'm trying to make a grand defense of LDS theology in general. I realize that it makes it more convenient for straw man purposes to deal with ideas in some stereotyped package, but I'm simply addressing the idea of a God that operates according to laws. Mormons did not make up that idea. Do you have anything to say that's specifically pertinent to the idea of a God operating according to eternal laws?

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
I did not ask you to use my limited version of omnipotent. I simply explained how some people might construe the word differently.

...And for the purposes of this discussion, I have accepted this limited version of the term.

I'm assuming that by this:
quote:
You are also mischaracterizing the discussion when you suggest that I'm trying to make a grand defense of LDS theology in general.
...you are referring to this clause: "According to the mormon theology for which it seems Pete is apologizing..."

And I heartily disagree that this mischaracterizes the discussion. What it does is make an assumption--a fact that is made fairly explicit in my use of the words "it seems." There are several assumptions that I am making in this discussion. I'm assuming that the hypothetical omnipotent entity we are referring to is not pantheistic. I'm assuming that Good is not conceived of as a subjective term. I'm assuming the "God" we are referring to is a being alleged to be perfectly Good. I'm assuming that the world this Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent being inhabits is acknowledged to express "Ungood." All assumptions, none of which is founded in statements you have explicitly made. But there are reasons for these assumptions and these assumptions are germane to this discussion.

This discussion is a spin-off from another thread, in which the arguments made in [i]The God Delusion[/b] are the topic. This discussion was born here:

Originally by Pete at Home:
quote:
I've rebutted a few of Dawkins' "arguments" before. For example, the last time that someone came through here trumpeting Dawkins, all the arguments linked to depended on the assumption that if God is not omnipotent, then God cannot exist. If you live in Utah, then you know that there are people who believe in God that that is subject to eternal laws, e.g. that matter/energy can't be created or destroyed, etc.
...
quote:
That would be dandy if Dawkins admitted that he was arguing against certain Christians, rather than rebutting the idea of God, period. Any formal education will teach you that if you want to attack an idea, you should attack as many elements of the idea as possible. Since Dawkins focuses all of his efforts rebutting the weakest and obviously mistaken "element" of what some people consider to be God, I'm not sure why you could take his argument seriously.
...to which I replied...
quote:
I haven't read the book myself, and I don't know exactly what argument you are discussing, but surely Dawkins is arguing primarily against the traditional monotheistic conception of a Supreme Being, no? Is he really required to disprove the existence of every distinctive polytheistic deity that exists? The title is "The God Delusion" not "The Demigod Delusion" after all.

I'm sure that adherents of polytheism require disproofs unique to their particular theologies, but the vast majority of the modern occidental demographic which this book targets conceives of God as an omnipotent Creator--not simply a superpotent manipulator of pre-existent materials.

Again, I haven't read the book or the specific argument in question, but it seems to me that you are most probably taking a single argument intended to refute the concept of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent Creator-entity, replying that such an argument doesn't address a particular minority belief and then dismissing the whole kit and caboodle as inane.

I'd like to see this argument to which you've alluded. It seems likely to me that Dawkins is making a specific argument against the existence of God as traditionally conceived, not for the moment against every distinctive claim ever made about the nature of God. To utilize a topical cliche which overuse has perhaps rendered more than slightly obnoxious--if he proffers proof that Flying Spaghetti Monsters do not exist by disproving the existence of Monsters, believers in the less pervasive cult of Flying Spaghetti may smugly observe that such arguments are useless against their beliefs, but that doesn't mean that the argument is inane.

I think that phrases such as "if you read "Omnipotent" simply as meaning that God can do everything that can be done, then God remains "omnipotent." I've spent far more time trying to persuade my fellow Christians to accept God as the Bible describes him..." coupled with a lack of interest in a pantheistic conception of God (a concept to which omnipotence can be properly applied) supplies adequate reason to believe that the "traditional monotheistic conception of God"--upon which my aforementioned assumptions are founded--is smack dab in the middle of this here table of discussion.

As for my assumption that you seem to be apologizing for the mormon theology, this bit: "If you live in Utah, then you know that there are people who believe in God that that is subject to eternal laws" led me to that assumption. If my assumption is mistaken, then *shrug* sorry. Mormon theology is just an example of a demigod theology with its own logical flaws--I read you as using it to rebut Dawkins' arguments against a more traditional concept of God and was simply pointing out that such theologies have their own contradictions and need not feel jealous that Dawkins hasn't paid them adequate attention.

I'll agree with you that Dawkins' arguments are quite possibly woefully inadequate for refuting polytheistic traditions...but frankly, I think that this is beside his point.

Now, as to the idea of God operating in accordance with laws, I think that it is silly to capitalize such an "operator." Capital "G" God would properly seem to be the "eternal laws" themselves, and the hypothetical guy to which you refer seems to be just another demigod like the rest of 'em. I'd certainly say that such a limited being can't really make any authorial claims regarding the purpose of existence for us mortals.

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Pete at Home
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English tends to capitalize all proper nouns, SP. If you want to capitalize "Omnipontent," then dandy, but I'm not sure why you are trying to get me to force me into bizarre capitalization cult.
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ngthagg
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Exaltation can be attained by making choices of your own free will. Forcing someone to exercise their free will in a particular fashion is one of those things that cannot be done (the choice ceases to be a choice of free will), and so is outside the bounds of omnipotence. Therefore, God cannot force us to become exalted, despite his omnipotence and omnibenevolence.

ngthagg

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
English tends to capitalize all proper nouns, SP. If you want to capitalize "Omnipontent," then dandy, but I'm not sure why you are trying to get me to force me into bizarre capitalization cult.
Snarky. [Smile]
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seekingprometheus
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ngthagg--
quote:
God cannot force us to become exalted, despite his omnipotence and omnibenevolence.

Uh-uh. God cannot make us become exalted, therefore God is not omnipotent. (And, as a mere demigod, he can't really be omnibenevolent either).

I've actually already obviatingly addressed your point, but we have jumped threads so I'll re-post:
quote:
Aha! the strawman might say--but this is where I misunderstand the nature of eternal laws! For our omnibenevolent quasi-omnipotent deity cannot do for another entity what only that entity can do for itself. Such a caveat is clearly written in the fine print of the eternal constitution. But you and I would scornfully dismiss this strawman as absurd, realizing that such a definition of omnipotence would render a term that merely meant "capable of doing whatever a particular entity is capable of doing in accordance with predetermined eternal laws" a definition too watered down for even those of us cavalier with definitions of omnipotence--since it leaves our damned wretch as an omnipotent in his own right, along with each and every entity in the world--each capable of doing whatever they themselves can do in accordance with eternal laws.
This form of God you describe is not omnipotent in any meaningful sense of the word. He can't even do everything that can be done in accordance with the special limitations of "eternal laws." He's just somebody who can't do any more than what he personally can do. Other individuals can do things which this God cannot do. This is not omnipotence. This is the Blockbuster clerk who can't waive my late fees:

"I'm sorry sir, I just don't have the authority--it's corporate policy, you see?"

Fine God, do you have a supervisor I could talk to, please?

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Carlotta
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SP - does the following perspective change your argument at all?

If God is the source of all Reason, then to be irrational would be against his nature. Therefore an omnipotent God who was the source of all Reason could not be irrational because that is against his nature. The restrictions on what he can and cannot do come from his own nature and are not externally imposed by the universe.

Or, you could define omnipotent as having all things occur by his will. In this case you could have things happen which are not directly willed by God (people not achieving exaltation) yet are made possible by his will (to give people free will). If you accept this definition of omnipotence as meaningful you could then have a God who was both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. CS Lewis had a good illustration of this in the mother who would like the child's room to be clean but decides she is not going to clean it for him, so that he can learn to clean it himself. She goes into his room one day and sees it a mess. It is not her will that the kid's room be a mess, but it is her will that has made it possible. (I would add, yet I don't think anyone would argue that she does not have the power to make the room clean.)

What do you think?

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seekingprometheus
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Carlotta--

No.

Omnipotence means "all-powerful" or effectively, "able to do anything." If God is incapable of doing something (even if that something is irrational), then he is not omnipotent.

As for the room cleaning example, if the mother is capable of cleaning the room, but chooses not to in order that the kid may learn for himself, then questions of the mother's benevolence arise, based on whether a clean room is a good or bad thing and whether the kid actually learns to clean his room.

In other words: if a clean room is a Good thing and an unclean room is an Ungood thing, then the persistence of an unclean room indicates a lack of Goodness in the house. Setting aside for the moment the limitations this analogy already places upon potence of the mother (who is apparently limited to teaching through the single didactic mode of "let's see if the kid figures it out") the fact remains that if the child does not learn to clean his room, then the Ungoodness remains in the house, and the mother appears to be someone who is unwilling to do a Good deed that will not otherwise get done.

The only way that we can claim that the mother remains omnibenevolent (in a qualified sense) after she makes this choice is if the kid will assuredly learn to clean his room. If there are multiple children in the house and she makes this same decision in all cases, then her omnibenevolence is contingent upon each and every child successfully learning to clean his/her room. If any child is unsuccessful in learning this, and the room remains unclean, then the persistence of Ungood in the house of the mother renders her "not-Omnibenevolent."

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seekingprometheus
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The real fallacy behind these ideas of benevolence actually lies in the mistaken belief that Good can be objective. Good is actually a purely subjective concept. Good is good only because it is positive for someone.

The mistake believers in Omnibenevolence commit is seeing the coincidence of good for distinctive subjects (that deed was good for me and for you) and then assuming that they can extend this idea of coinciding positivity infinitely.

Logically, omnibenevolence is only possible in the perfect absence of "Ungood."

Likewise, omnipotence necessitates the absence of any separate, distinctive power.

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Pete at Home
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I repeat, I'm not interested in debated your misconstructions of the LDS exaltation doctrine, particularly if you insist on channeling Iregiray's incoherence.

Do you have anything relevant to say about the omnipotence argument, or not?

quote:
[sp quotes HIMSELF, and then says to ngthagg,] This form of God you describe is not omnipotent in any meaningful sense of the word. [and then goes on to rant insultingly about clerks and corporate policies without once connecting to anything that I or ngthagg or anyone else has said.
I don't know where you are cutting and pasting these ghastly arguments from, but do you know or care that they don't connect to the discussion at hand?

[ December 26, 2006, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
The real fallacy behind these ideas of benevolence actually lies in the mistaken belief that Good can be objective. Good is actually a purely subjective concept. Good is good only because it is positive for someone.

If God is sufficiently powerful, and sufficiently stable in his definition of good, then God's goodness would provide enough of a reference for us that we could deal with it as a reference.

quote:
Likewise, omnipotence necessitates the absence of any separate, distinctive power.
Only if you take the rediculous broken version of omnipotence which takes in everything that isn't as well as everything that *is*. Perhaps that's why, when I confront you with a version that makes more sense, you respond by changing the subject and throwing around insulting terms.
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Richard Dey
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The Appropriate Agony of Birth/.../Death

I would have said that Pete's claim that "Humanizing God is a step away from pantheism" is quite the opposite of what happened in the transition from prehistory to history. Far more mytholographers are convinced that the mother goddess was/is/will whilst the gods of pantheism were once men. In short, humanizing gods is a step towards pantheism, not away from it.

Herakles, 'the Glory of Hera', was not a man's name but, rather, a title indicating what he was to become: a victim of human sacrifice to the momgod -- in his case, donning the sacred cloak of poisoned barbs and dying in a public agony which beatified him. It was appropriate that the birth/death scenario reenact the labors of childbirth. To be reborn of the heavenly mother means that we must die in agony -- and not be whimps about it.

Only in life can we take a few minutes out of our ultimate birth-death labors for a cruller, coffee, and cigarette break.

The Enigma of Infinite Orgasms

I got into trouble on the radio once for claiming that "women can have infinite orgasms"; I was technically correct but misread by the largest radio show in the Caribbean, and nearly crucified for making the claim. Since 'infinite' came to refer to '... or a very large number ...", there is the religious and mathematical meaning of the term -- and then there is the degenerated mall-mob definition of "fantastic!", "kewl!", "knobby", and "orgasmic!".

What I should have added was that brain scans indicate that females have more-intense orgasms besides! That would have delighted the audience.

The MIT enigma stands here:

¶ Is god omniponent, all-powerful?
¶ Is god all-powerful most of the time in most situations, but not all of the time?
¶ Is god sometimes powerful and sometimes not?
¶ Is god weak, often helpless, and typicallly indifferent?
¶ Is there any god at all?

Pick one.

Well, obviously, if god is ominoponent we can flirt with Puritanical predeterminism with no ability to disprove it. We can scrap 'free will'. We can scrap Christ's disappointment on the cross. We can all become Unitarians and still call ourselves Christians. Or we can shake our fist at God, like Beethoven, and drop dead.

If we hold that this omnipotent god can be changed with prayer or divine worship or with the blowing of chauffeurs (sp? [Wink] ), then god is indeed not omnipotent. The Roman Catholic Church does not believe in an all-powerful god any more than LDS does, and never has.

The Pagans believed in gods of process; the Hebrews believed in a god of absolutes. Meir's phrase comes to mind, "God in his ultimate wisdom and infinite forgiveness foresook the Jews, and hurled them headlong into his Holocaust wherefore we bow to the Almighty. Or what does forgiveness mean?"

The ability to eff-over? Is that potency means? We know what the all in Almight means; but what is might and by who's right? The Almighty's right is the only logical conclusion. Even I in my madness can write a better bible than that [Mad] !

Why do Daoists try to become one with the infinite union of opposites before they are dead? Somebody ought to ask them.

Thus we have the 3-D Mobius strip of mutable t and fixed c in relation to the self-cancelling E=M equation. If matter and energy are are interchangeable events, what is missing that accounts for "god"? Hmmm, the "weak force" [Wink] ?

Could we narrow what this "god" is by a process of elimination? or must we continue in the arguments that God = the Unknown? or that god is subject to the laws of Mother Nature? or that God is inscrutible? or continue down the pagan path of divining that god and all gods and goddess are made in our own image (by us)?

Meanwhile, I'll give my money to research into a neat, convenient multi-orgasmic pill for males.

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Pete at Home
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Whether humanizing God is a step towards pantheism or away from patheism depends on your starting point, I suppose.

quote:
We know what the all in Almight means; but what is might and by who's right? The Almighty's right is the only logical conclusion.
Alrighty. [Cool]
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ngthagg
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"Everything an omnibenevolent entity does is Good and an omnibenevolent entity does not fail to do Good that can be done."

The first part is fine: the mother is not going to purposefully make the room messy. The second part is tricky. If we are going to use it (in real world or metaphorical situations) we need to have some objective idea of what is good and what is bad. Obviously, we could have a dozen threads discussing what is good and what isn't and not get anywhere.

But as sp says, good is subjective. Labelling a particular thing as good gets us nowhere, because it does not take into account any of the subjective factors. To look at the example above from a different angle:

If a clean room is a good thing and a messy room is a bad thing, then they must be good and bad regardless of their association with the child. In fact, we must conclude that putting a child in said room (a child who is likely to mess things up) is a bad thing, so there is no reason to even have the child there at all.

However, if a child cleaning up the room is a good thing, then we could say that a messy room is a good thing (because it gives the child a chance to do a good thing). If the child does not learn and the mother steps in and cleans up the room, has she done a good thing or bad thing? Returning the room to the state it was in before the child was put there hasn't changed anything, except the mother knows not to trust the child to clean up after himself. That could be called good.

I guess the point of this rambling section is that the second part of omnibenevolent above is useful, as long as we can cooperatively agree on what things might constitute a greater good. If the mother discovers that one of her three children won't clean up, is she lacking in benevolence even though two of her children have demonstrated responsibility? Is it better to have two of three children clean up after themselves, or better to have no children in the first place? We cannot rule on omnibenevolence until we decide which is the greater good.

Regarding irrationality: if God is omnipotent and the source of all reason, can he do an irrational act? There is no correct answer to this question. It is of the same form as "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" If I say yes, then God is not the source of all reason. If I say no, then God is not omnipotent. The problem here is not with such a God, the problem is with the question. There is an unstated assumption that such an irrational act exists.

Consider the classic "can an omnipotent God make a rock he cannot lift?" question. When we say omnipotent, then we mean God can make all rocks and God can lift all rocks. So if God makes something that He cannot lift, it must not be a rock. And if there is a thing that He cannot make, then it is not a rock. So whether you answer yes or no, you are assuming that there is a rock which is not a rock. This leaves only two choices: there are no rocks which are not rocks and God is omnipotent, or there are rocks which are not rocks and God is not omnipotent.

Getting back to irrationality, the problem is trying to imagine an act which is not an act, or imagine an irrational act which is rational.

(My apologies for two rambling posts. I hope they make sense on the whole.)

One final note: although I agree that good is subjective, I don't believe it is purely subjective. Although good is good because it is positive to someone, that doesn't preclude the possibility of some things being good to all people or bad to all people.

ngthagg

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Consider the classic "can an omnipotent God make a rock he cannot lift?" question. When we say omnipotent, then we mean God can make all rocks and God can lift all rocks.
You could also say yes, but he avoids making rocks so heavy that he cannot lift them, and thus remains God.

A fundamentalist atheist might respond that such a construction makes God analogous to a clerk that operates by corporate policy. But that's typical postrational gibberish, because there remains nothing that God cannot lift. The fundamentalist atheist is simply pissed that God chooses not to do what the FA wants him to do. The fundamentalist atheist's impotence does not limit God's omnipotence.

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Tom Curtis
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Pete, do even you consider your ramblings to actually constitute an argument?
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Pete at Home
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I consider my ramblings to constitute ramblings, and my arguments to constitute arguments. Is there anything else I can help you with, Tom?
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Richard Dey
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NG:

Bank of Boston Rule #3: Orderly desk, disorderly mind, et vv.

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Richard Dey
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Pete:

Having reread my statements, and admitting that I rarely do [Embarrassed] (since I don't know how to edit, thereby making it a futile exercise), I do hold to Graves' contention that the Heberews got it backwards. It was not god who invented man in his own image but man who invented gods in his (man's) own image -- just so the pronomial isn't misconstrued as some pseud-freudian slip.

Is not Ng's comment about irrationality an issue here? Is not the issue behind man's invention of god the problem of rationality? I mean, there are mirror gods fashioned by the rational and mirror gods fashioned by the irrational. The resultant gods might not look a lot alike or act alike.

That jealous god of yours, for example, might be really jealous of science which some here have argued is being worshipped like a sacred stone draped in the devil's black cloak!

Surely Christianity wouldn't have any difficulties demonstrating that this almost-all-powerful god is good.

I still like best the example of the sole-surviving woman who crawled out of that tornado-toppled church in Florida with the comment, "Thank you, Lord, almighty! God is Good!"

Dawkins was not slipping Freudianly; and I thought 'is language wasn't even ambivalent. In the Ornery Court of Justice, is it not intent the deciding factor?

Does not this albenevolent god (I accept the coinage but not the prayer), notwithstanding, plan to kill every one of us? and, by His Grand and Glorious Expansion into unruly realms that even He in his Omnipotence has yet to conquer, does he not plan to render everything and everybody and everything everybody's ever done in the physical world meaningless? Pete, we need some demonstrative, earthly proof that this God really does have a spirit world for dead spirits to inhabit before taking a lease without an option to buy.

Who wouldn't want a piece of heaven? Who isn't sick of being mere stewards of this dangerous planet he's put us on. Who wants an eternal rental agreement?

Why do I get the idea every time JWs knock on the door that they're trying to sell me a parrot wired onto a stick? What's wrong with man seeking his independence from this omnipotence -- first and foremost by noting that neither he nor King George III is or ever was eternal and omnipotent?

It is not sufficient for free men to have declared the King and his Bishops no longer God's representative on earth but to banish God and his Bishops from the realms of men. Noone has done a worse job at creating and maintaining freedom, after all, than God's chosen men. They it was who sought to rule over men by threat and intimidation and demanding a tithe of their efforts.

By banishing God from our deliberations, perhaps we shall discover what goodness men have, and what good they can accomplish for themselves with it. In the governance of man, man alone is necessary or why else declare our own Sovereignty as We the People ...?

If God be banished, then he shall not be taking the blame for what are, if he his omnipotent, are not albeneficient but the greatest atrocities man has ever known!

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Pete at Home
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The fact that God created man in his own image hardly prevents man from returning the favor. If Nietzche had access to viagra, he'd probably never have claimed that God was dead.
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seekingprometheus
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Pete:

quote:
you respond by...throwing around insulting terms.
Insulting terms? What insulting terms? Are you talking about my "snarky" comment? Your comment was snarky. I appreciated the snarkiness. I thought the comment was delightfully snide and sarcastic. I thought that was your intention. I put a smiley face after the "Snarky" to convey my appreciative amusement. [Smile]

I'll not deny your right to feel insulted by whatever terms you fancy offensive, but I fail to see where I have directed intentional pejoratives at anyone.

Here's an example of an intentionally insulting term being thrown around: "...these ghastly arguments..." but it ain't me doin' the pitchin'.

Perhaps you're insulted because I'm calling an entity which is clearly conceptualized as a demigod a demigod. If this is the case then it would appear that your insult is taken at the fact that I don't follow you down the rabbit hole to the wonderland of inappropriately used terminology. *Shrug* Again, ye can take offense as it pleases ye--but insult is not intended.
quote:
Only if you take the rediculous broken version of omnipotence which takes in everything that isn't as well as everything that *is*. Perhaps that's why, when I confront you with a version that makes more sense, you respond by changing the subject and throwing around insulting terms.
Welcome to fatalistic determinism, Pete. I thought we agreed to reject such a concept. If your "fixed" version of omnipotence limits effective power to events which "are" or "will become" in actuality, dismissing the possibility of potence effecting events which do not become actual, then you are a fatalist, Jacques.

By the way, "...a version that makes more sense...": such a version of omnipotence = potence limited by predetermined laws to the actions that a given entity is capable of effecting. Frankly, I'll give you that the idea makes more sense since acknowledging multiple entities and limiting their individual powers to their personal abilities is more reflective of reality than the traditional concept of omnipotence, but such an idea just isn't remotely "omnipotence."
quote:
I don't know where you are cutting and pasting these ghastly arguments from, but do you know or care that they don't connect to the discussion at hand?
quote:
You are also mischaracterizing the discussion...
quote:
...you respond by changing the subject...
*Sigh* I'm aware that you are the author of this thread, so if you wish to play topical taskmaster I suppose you can continue cracking the whip whenever anyone steps outside the bounds of the solipsistic conversation you seem to be enjoying. But you linked to this thread because we (that's you and I, see?) were meandering off on a tangent in another thread, so this here dance floor seems like tango space to me, beggin' your pardon. My arguments have been topical, relevant, germane, pertinent and on-subject, and plainly so--thank ye kindly.
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seekingprometheus
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Ngthagg:

I'll respond to you anon.

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Pete at Home
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You know very well that I was not refering to the snarky term. I was referring to your cheap shots at my religion, and to your accusations that I'm a "determinist" that worship as "demigod." False, irrelevant, and devoid of substance.


quote:
I'll not deny your right to feel insulted by whatever terms you fancy offensive, but I fail to see where I have directed intentional pejoratives at anyone.
Oh? Are you claiming that you did *not* intend to insult me when you used the terms "determinist" and "demigod"? [Eek!]
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Richard Dey
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Hey wait a minute! I'm the demigod! I get to determine who gets to be god and who gets to be not god! [Mad]

Cripes, give these mortals a shepherd's crook and they start walking around like bishops!

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Does not this albenevolent god (I accept the coinage but not the prayer), notwithstanding, plan to kill every one of us? and, by His Grand and Glorious Expansion into unruly realms that even He in his Omnipotence has yet to conquer, does he not plan to render everything and everybody and everything everybody's ever done in the physical world meaningless? Pete, we need some demonstrative, earthly proof that this God really does have a spirit world for dead spirits to inhabit before taking a lease without an option to buy.
If you're suggesting that trusting God is a more serious test of faith than merely believing that God exists, then I absolutely agree with you.
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ngthagg
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RD: I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but my desk is a disaster area right now. Hope that helps.

And: "That jealous god of yours, for example, might be really jealous of science which some here have argued is being worshipped like a sacred stone draped in the devil's black cloak!"

You are confusing jealousy and envy here, I think. God is jealous of people, in that He doesn't want to see them worshipping something else (science or whatever).

Pete: I disagree. I could claim to be the fastest man alive, because no one has ever beaten me in the 100m dash. But that claim depends more on my lack of running 100m dashes than on my actually speed compared to other living men. I don't see any reason to limit the definition of omnipotence.

ngthagg

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ngthagg
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sp: What's going on? It's half past anon already and you haven't posted.

ngthagg

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PanHeraclitean
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I haven't heard mention of the fact that our omnipotent God is outside of time. The omnibenevolence cannot be sensed from a temporal perspective.

If you place God in time you run into a lot of problems. Not that eternity removes all problems.

If God is in Eternity, there is only one action of God. This doesn't diminish that act though. God's act is his existence and in turn it would suggest that it is likewise our existence. This reaches toward my pet theory of Christianity as panetheism. This is supported by Augustine and several other Christian thinkers.

The hardest thing to justify in the case of God in eternity is how God's one act can be so dissipated throughout time. Plotinus handles this objection by saying that time is the division of eternity into countless little eternities. It would seem as though God would be able to act in the eternity of the temporal moment.

So how does this have anything to do with omnipotence? God's existence, single act, creation, omniscience already knows at the beginning of time the possible courses taken and knows the best track for the highest possible good (talk about obvious tense problems and changing the level of convoluted metaphysics).

In other words God can't make a square circle because he already chose the bounds of everything. There's no "God can't do this." He's already doing and anybody thinking that he should do differently is thinking from a very fixed point. He could have made square circle already by his thought. The thing is we're on the temporal end of the decision.

More mumbo-jumbo later...

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