A Mega-Argument from Evil
“By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16
"The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him." Proverbs 20:23
Prerequisite reading (and comprehension):
Abstract Entities and Atheism
Morality and Atheism: 50 Q and A’s
The following is my inventory of arguments from evil against the existence of an omnipotent, ethical and personal god. Obviously none of these arguments here rule out an evil god or a god who isn’t all powerful. It is my contention that there is no respectable human standard of ethics that makes any sense out of the Biblical God’s supposed moral choices throughout Biblical history or the general history of the world. The only standard that "works" is the morally indefensible, "whatever God does" standard. However each of these line items makes the most sense if no deity of any kind is involved at all and thus we have an ethical disproof and an argument to the better explanation (BE:) in one neat package. At the very least we should be able to get the Christian worldview on false advertising. :p I’m going to avoid of course every instance that is debatable and stick to generalizations that I think hold most true and are most telling. If we are created in the image of God and that is where morality comes from then it follows we have an opportunity for “checks and balances” on the system. There is no way to undercut that basic point with any kind of philosophical speculation. Surely we know morality better than we know of anything transcendental. And further each of these line items is juxtaposed with Bible verses that condemn the principle in use. Thus, no appeal can be made to, "an atheist doesn't have a standard to condemn my God by" since I'm using the standard they use. If that's not good, then what is?
I should note that I am basing these contentions from an understanding of apologetic answers from Christian apologists and from the scriptures themselves. I’m not saying I have everything right here, but please consider I am not quibbling about the details of anyone’s life. I’m not whining that the drapes don’t match the carpet in heaven. I don’t hate a god that doesn’t exist. This is merely a full dispassionate onslaught of all the pivotal reasons it is probable that if the Biblical god exists, he is evil according to all the standards he himself lays out for an ethical person to follow. An amoral god that is dissassociated from all ethical concerns certainly isn’t a person and therefore not a god. He (or rather "it") is a thing. A god that follows the rules half the time and not the other half is a moral monster. Even if God is the definition of morality and we are sure that absolute morality exists in some non-squiter transcendent sense, we would for these reasons have to go looking for a different god that matches up. If every indication pointed to evil from any number of unpopular gods would you give each and every one of them as much the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to “divine wisdom?” Would you forever hold out on "we don't know the whole story?" Me thinks you would never. You're going to find that any excuse made compromises something else critical to a viable moral outlook. You can't flub on one thing without affecting the rest of a coherent ethical system.
Almost all of my points aren’t about complaining about human suffering or general arguments that ubiquitous evil exists in the world…though I think that basic point holds up anyway all things considered. Ultimately there’s no excuse for any evil especially from a god that demands not even a hint of it from us. I’ll accommodate the “Fall of man” apologetic into my argument and show that at each level no matter how much ground is given, the picture is still incoherent from a loving theistic perspective if you care to look directly at it. I focus virtually every argument on the incompetence of what the biblical God says is his reason for allowing evil in the first place…I argue about human suffering the context of saint cultivation (1 Timothy 2:4). Many apologists will try to get God off the hook with “honorable intentions” given the god of Abraham was born in an honor/shame society. Perhaps they are counting on you not knowing anything about it and therefore you’ll accept any “apparent” discrepancies in ethical standards…even if they go overboard and are irrational even in that system. I didn’t grow up in an honor/shame society, but if what this God has done is honorable…I’m glad I didn’t. You can get a guilt and innocence system wrong so I don’t see why the same wouldn’t hold true in any other system. How can even the "trials of life" be a test as other theologians would assert if most of us can’t even agree on what constitutes “home room?”
The overall point of this intro is, don’t insult my intelligence. I know what good and evil are and I certainly don’t need the help of the bible to figure it out. Try preaching the content of this post (assuming it is accurate) every Sunday and see how many Christians maintain their confidence in God’s goodness. Put your excuses where your mouth is and proclaim this list as the pinnacle of God’s goodness to all the nations! I dare you… The validity of moral objectivity in an atheist’s worldview is one thing…but theists still fail to make a coherent moral picture out of their own view. They must realize on some level that Yahweh isn’t bullet proof to any moral criticality and thus they attempt to sabotage the gun being fired. I don’t know who they think they are fooling.
If I’ve actually made some critical error in moral judgment here by some reasonable standard, of course I want to know. If there is some plausible reason to give a god the benefit of the doubt in any of these line items, I’m listening. If there is some bit of information I don’t seem to know about that makes the picture a little brighter…by all means clue me in. But if all you got is incoherent defensiveness that could literally smokescreen the actions of even the most heinous deity imaginable…just keep that to yourself.
If you are wondering if there is anything I would accept…I’m wondering what you wouldn’t accept. But since you asked, I have in fact thought out what an ideal version of a coherent relationship with an ethical God could be like. And…I’ve even taken the time to think of what a meaninglessly worse God might be like. Thus, I’ve finally covered my bases with this post.
So, here we go:
1. Inappropriate Choices.
"Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—'Let us do evil that good may result'? Their condemnation is deserved." Romans 3:8
"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17
"And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:39
Does God have evil options? No? Then why does he give his neighbor evil choices and put his eternal security on the line?
If God’s excuse for allowing evil is that he cares about free will…why does it have to include evil options? Why not a selection from all good options? When someone chooses not to love you…do they have to go off and be evil? Or can they simply love someone else instead? If you believe this is impossible for some reason, consider what heaven will be like. Isn’t that exactly going to be the case? And consider what we will do when we beget A.I. Will we not program them to be as human as possible…but yet exclude evil options? Will they not be better people than we are? Will we have robbed them of something worthwhile? I think not.
BE: The latitude of choices we have makes perfect sense in an amoral atheistic context.
2. Unmediated Reproduction.
Perhaps we can ignore the first level for some reason, but when we come to the next, there seems to be no reason why God would have to allow Adam and Eve to beget children. Why not make child-bearing conditional upon obedience? God has no problem closing wombs throughout the Bible (ex: Genesis 20:18). One might almost call it a hobby of his. Why not do this when it actually matters? Wouldn’t it make so much more sense to let individuals screw themselves over on equal opportunity starting conditions? Especially when so much is on the line? Isn’t this principle more in line with Ezekiel 18? God isn’t bound by the same rules as a human as some apologists say, but apparently he isn’t bound by the rules he’s bound by either.
BE: Ancient people needed a way to make everyone to blame even though they couldn’t possibly be to blame. And then when it came to practical matters later...they changed course.
3. Beyond Building Character and Virtue.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
Christians often say that evil exists in the world to build our character and make us better people as a result of learning from our mistakes. This presupposes we know that character can’t be built from all good options as elaborated on in number 1. And what good is this character if we aren’t going to need it in heaven? What good are all the lessons of hacking your way through the jungle of sin if there won’t be a jungle for the rest of eternity? We would be like the hardened soldier that knows how to kill you in 84 different ways, but is relegated to serving you tea instead long after the war. It’s effectively meaningless at great expense of the billions of damned 10 zillion years into paradise.
Christians say that just as a father might let his daughter see a little bit of blood while tending her wounds in order to solicit a healthy measure of fear…so God allows bad things in life to teach us important lessons. But an impartial inventory of the entire spectrum of evil yields much more than this providential demographic. It also includes letting your daughter’s arms be torn off and feeding them to her while shouting out the most belittling insults in addition to executing friends, pets, and other loved ones before her very eyes. I don’t think it’s a bad inference to say that people really do get entirely run over in life and they don’t have a chance to learn from it…or that the extremes of life are as likely to backfire as they are to solicit a positive response. Let us do evil that good may result?
If God allows for the creation of Christian homosexuals and nymphomaniacs, hermaphrodites, and everything in between, I just don’t see a valid reason to suppose someone somewhere isn’t drowning under impossible circumstances beyond their control internal, external, and both. God has bound us to disobedience (Romans 11:32) and yet Christians always have a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13)? Isn’t this like saying, “I’m going to attach this leg weight to you, but you’ll always be able to run at top speed?” It is an extraordinary claim to say that no Christian ever has been tempted beyond their measure to resist…not even just one wittle time… Oh wait…I know. You just define them as non-Christians right? [eye roll] Scamtastic!
4. Self-Refuting Biblical Excuses for Extreme Disasters.
Jesus says that the extremes of random evil happen not for a personal reason, but for a general reminder of the flames of hell (Luke 13:1-5). Hmm…interesting. Somehow I suspect people get the wrong message more often than not. This makes an awful lot of sense to an apocalyptic Jewish mind…but what about to a Native American animist? EVERYONE in between? Sorry, I can think of much more constructive ways to warn people about hell to where they are sure to get the message…like uh…lemme think: showing up and telling them? Jesus’ clarification is self-refuting. We should be telling the Bible this upon its silence…not the other way around. This just looks like a solipsistic 1st century Jewish excuse for random chance that’s more impotent in "message" than not.
BE: Ancient Jews noticed that bad things happened and tried to come up with a lame excuse and put it in Jesus’ mouth. Or...if this isn't supposed to be a universal explanation as some have pointed out, Jesus is just seizing the moment and being a cold-hearted opportunist for his sick doctrines.
5. Some People Obviously Aren’t Being Tested.
If life is really a test, then we mustn’t forget the extreme other end of the spectrum either…the select few that really had no troubles in life. Surely they exist. Was it their fault? Will they be held accountable for not going out to find trouble building character? What if there simply wasn’t any trouble to found 3,400 years ago in South Africa in one tranquil village? Is there any demographic that doesn’t exist in this unshepherded world? You’d be screwed…not because you did anything wrong, but because there wasn’t any evil to overcome. Perhaps it seems petty to bring up, but the emphasis here is trying to find a coherent picture and whether Christian salvation and apologetic rhetoric actually map onto the real world...or if its just narrow minded nonsense.
BE: A full spectrum of whatever makes perfect sense in an unmanaged non-theistic world.
6. Low Maintenance Relationships?
A magic book to be taken on faith or presupposition…mystical experiences that can’t be qualified against any others…prayer that is as effective as praying to a milk jug (aka: yes, no, or wait works with anything) as far as chance, self fulfilling prophecies, and confirmation bias will take you, prayer studies that turn up nil and sometimes detrimental effects, miraculous healings that are never as obvious as the healing of a severed limb for all to verify… and a whole world filled with other religions running the same feeling scams but based on different uncorroborated metaphysical propositions. Apparently all God is required to do is not destroy the world with water (Genesis 9:11, which leaves just about every other means available to an omnipotent deity for world destruction, like say fire…or even chocolate milk if he were so inclined), to allow religion to flourish in some form…even if it is in the most meager amounts possible (Isaiah 10:22 and the rest of the prophets seem all about “remnants”)…these are extremely low objective expectations of a so-called loving “personal” relationship with Jesus and virtually any context you can conceive of in history has all the latitude it'll ever need. You can ignore the plasticity of all this and say, “it could still be true,” but you miss my point that God basically doesn’t have to do anything in order to fulfill his end of the bargain. Why would he when apparently most Christians will accept it as is anyway? If your girlfriend would always interpret your apartment as being cleaned up despite all the evidence of junk laying around…would you bother being tidy? On the other hand, if a significant other purported to not be able to tell if you loved them or not…would you not be horrified? Are meaningful relationships always just a complete subjective matter of imposed interpretation that someone else might entirely miss even if they were right there next to you the whole time? Honestly what metaphysical interpretation of experience (fate, karma, providence, random chance, etc.) doesn’t work on these terms?
To compound the matter further, we have a god who doesn’t mind waiting thousands of years to act (2 Peter 3:8), 400 years to answer prayer (Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 3:7), who isn’t accountable to any complaint (Romans 9:20-22), who might be punishing you for what your great, great, grand father did (Exodus 20:5), or letting you know that your greatest grandparents sinned (Romans 5:12), or testing you via a wager with Satan over your ability to resist for no reason whatsoever (Job 1:6-12), etc. etc. In my opinion all of this conspires together to give you no basis for having any way of knowing what God really thinks of you in this life since establishing personal context is impossible. The spectrum of terms is way too obtuse for a real relationship. In all likelihood to make your religion work for you, you're just accepting something random when dozens of other interpretations apply. Anyone that notices this is completely SOL in terms of making Christianity work for them. Anything goes and God doesn’t have to clarify. With all of these Biblical scapegoats in the mix God’s love is as intimate and trustworthy as random chance. The effects of such disconfrontational amoral "relationshipping" are quite obvious.
What is the natural dividend of the imaginary friend niche? The abundance of false religions…even of atheists and agnostics…even believers in the correct religion that are that much less psychologically stable for lack of reality checks. The roller coaster of faith…where sometimes it’s really good…and sometimes really bad…and then back again. When the terms are not clear as crystal, people get things way wrong, they settle for less, they’re unstable, they achieve inappropriate levels of confidence (and all the bullshit that implies). Being something other than a dead-beat deity matters. Your excuses don't.
BE: God doesn’t exist and thus to run these scams the lowest possible interactive standards have been set.
7. Admitted Sins of Omission.
“If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”
“If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.”
God really does hate fags (1 Corinthians 6:9)…the only thing missing from these people’s salvations were reality checks… Surely this lends credibility to the fact that when dozens of people you and I know say they would believe if they had reality checks…at least some of them actually mean it. Surely “doubting” Thomas was not the only person in history to need a little hands on evidence (John 20:29). The Gospel of Mark portrays the disciples as being complete idiots (Mark 6:30-38, 51-52, 7:18, 8:1-4, 15-21, 9:10)! I wouldn’t listen to these numskulls either if I were him…obviously for more reasons than one. Asking a seemingly dead-beat deity to be merely real is not the same as “an evil generation asking for a sign” (Matthew 12:39) or asking God to “jump through hoops.” One simply can’t have a relationship on the basis of agnosticism or confusion. I’m sure demons would know that God exists and shudder at the thought (James 2:19)…but could they even do that if they didn’t know he existed? What good is the fourth (?) hand testimony of yet another mythical creature?
BE: The gospels weren’t written by geniuses, but they were written by self righteous pricks who wanted to vicariously lord it over their neighbors who disagreed with their moral and religious choices through their imaginary figure head, Jesus. Hence the grandstanding speeches to towns who couldn't possibly be listening.
Note, I have an extension of this general category (sins of omission) on the post "Jephthah's Vow and Sacrifice of His Daughter."
8. Admitted Sins of Commission.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." Matthew 23:15
And the opposite, why does God confront people he knows he will damn more? God would never do that you say? You just read my last point…you know I know the Bible better than you do (John 15:24)…why not just give up while you are ahead? Lol
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.”
“If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.”
What the hell is Jesus thinking? I have no idea what moral philosophy he is practicing…other than “do whatever the hell I feel like.” I guess the proverbial unconscientious atheist really is more Christ-like than the Christians! Who cares if Jesus says he came to save and not damn…we have a word for this kind of juxtaposition between words and deeds…it’s called hypocrite! (Romans 2:21-23) It follows also that lots of people could have been better off in the end without the aide of these religious "truths".
BE: Same as 7.
9. Evil Evangelism.
"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light." Luke 16:8
This leads to our next point; Spreading the good news is really more about spreading the bad news. It is quite obvious that despite whatever good intentions an omniscient God has for the “good news” overall, not only is it the bad news for most people but it actually serves in sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way to make it worse for all the people that reject the message…and most people will. The link given lays out the full case. Obviously you aren’t responsible for how other people respond, but you are responsible for what you do and knowing that you are doing more harm than good even with the free will of others in the equation doesn’t absolve you from evil. What other context do you get off for good intentions despite your knowledge you are doing more harm than good? How is that not contradictory?
"Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?" Luke 19:23
Does counterproductivity sound good to Jesus? Christians know what common sense is except for when they think of their own ethical implications of their own beliefs. Even if atheists like Sam Harris happen to be hurting the situation by calling people to renounce irrationality in a context where Muslims will simply hate us more…nothing can possibly compare with the moral negligence of the Christian’s Not-So-Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).
BE: Religion is fake and thus doesn’t occupy the whole beliefscape…thus finding yourself in an extreme “us vs. them” mentality to the point where it makes sense that only your tiny cult will be saved makes "perfect sense." But on the flip side, you can’t hold back your desire to want everyone to believe as you do after all. Thus the collision of principles and the ridiculous output.
10. Big Biblical Shepherding Disasters:
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
Apparently David didn't read the Bible. Here are some prime examples of Biblical mal-shepherding that do not seem malleable to the “benefit of the doubt.” You hear a story about someone you know who shot someone in a grocery store parking lot…obviously you don’t need to jump to the conclusion of murder, necessarily. There could be more to it, right? I don’t think these stories qualify in that regard. It seems we know too much:
A. Though at least two thirds of the angels decided to stay loyal to god (Revelation 12:4, not bad, eh?), one wonders if God was busy introducing himself on day four of creation (or whenever) when somewhere in the crowd of angels, Lucifer cries out, “God damn I’m so beautiful! So beautiful in fact, I can kick anyone’s ass! Who’s with me!?!” (Revelation 12:7) If only a few moments later…God could have introduced himself as the omnipotent creator of the universe and stopped Satan’s blatant insanity before it started. But apparently it only took five seconds for his perfect creation to have a mental spike of logic killing pride. Surely humanity hasn’t benefited from having the conspiring demonic plot element in the mix for its entire history.
BE: The Bible wasn’t written by believers who believed the same thing and thus God probably wasn’t an omnipotent anything originally, but just their most favorite and powerful tribal deity who had some then plausible "administration troubles" early on.
B. But the mismanagement doesn’t stop there, apparently (depending on your interpretation of Genesis 6), God allowed Satan and company to wreak genetic havoc on nearly the entire human race at the time (1 Peter 3:19-20). Even if the “sons of god” and the “daughters of men” meant something else other than fallen angels manifesting in human form (like good angels do elsewhere) in order to get it on with those hot human chicks…these are still horrible shepherding stats. It takes two to tango and whatever God did or didn’t do effectively screwed over everyone not in Noah’s family to the extent that God had to resort to the most drastic cataclysm of human history to correct the mistake…the global Flood (Genesis 7:20). Wow. I’m impressed. What are the odds out of 10 million people (as Creationists estimate) that only 8 individuals (all in the same family I might add) would be willing to get with the program? Is that even the least bit intelligible? I would think you could accidentally convert more than that. Even Tom Cruise can get more Scientologists under his wing. Sheesh. We could also mention that if the water didn’t kill everything on the planet…all that radioactive decay sure would have. I’m sure glad this negligent megalomaniac would be at the helm of my salvation. Yikes. I don’t know why God owes it to the demonic world to allow them to molest humanity at all. They must have signed some kind of immutable contract…but why does god get himself into these things in the first place? Why are we always the collateral damage of his honor and ego?
BE: Its just a narrow-minded "be a holy person, serve our god or else something bad is going to happen" morality tale that never happened but did make sense to credulites years later that didn’t directly experience the events to notice how idiotic they would really be if true.
C. Now it is said that God let Joseph be sold into slavery for the good of many (Genesis 50:20, but for all we know this is merely the mistaken interpretation of Joseph…didn’t he know about this “prophecy:” Genesis 15:13) and yet the famine itself (Genesis 41:54) that he was providentially storing up grain to prepare for in those seven years was caused by God (Genesis 41:25,32)…and as if that dysfunctional mechanism wasn’t bad enough…this inevitably dovetails into the Hebrews being enslaved in Egypt for 400 years…only to be exposed to all the abuse and illicit practices of the Egyptians which seems to have tainted them for the rest of the OT (see the endless bitching of the prophets). Having all sorts of expectations of them after you’ve neglected them for 4 centuries is a bit like expecting a crap cake to not stink when it comes out of the oven. Even animal caretakers know not to expect positive results from abused creatures. And yet the first thing God does is drop a zillion laws on them. Brilliant. And Moses resorts to murder basically the whole trip (Exodus 32: 27-28). I wonder why the “Prince of Egypt” didn’t end on this note?
"Deliver us"...to something just as bad! It was the next logical scene. What's wrong with giving a nod to theistic fascism?). Not to mention that those Hebrew slaves that came out of Egypt during the Exodus all got ran into the ground intentionally to the extent that only two (Numbers 14:30) of the original population of 3 million managed to “get it.” Notice that they finally get forgiven after they've all kicked the bucket because of God's tyranny. Wait...didn't I see that in Empire Strikes Back, too?
God has some fucked up people skills. Could you imagine letting anyone off the hook for such massive amounts of failure? Even Moses is a little self conscious of God’s destructive behavior (Exodus 32:12). If this isn’t the definition of a dysfunctional relationship…I’m not sure what would be. With the Exodus as its precedent (and all the things before it), from start to finish, the Bible is a shepherding disaster. It’s interesting to see the NT try to spin a moral to this story for us (1 Corinthians 10:6) when it’s pretty clear the only moral of the story is “what not to do” if you are a loving god. You don’t set this kind of stage and expect good results. Instead of trying to instill amorphous fear in our hearts with stories of questionable reality (Numbers 16:28-29)…how about showing us some respectable behavior? Is there something horrendously wrong about a resume that is actually full of success stories? And not back to back travesties because of how fundamentally incompatible you are with humanity and how inept you are at crossing that gap humanely?
BE: I’m not really sure on this one. Depending on if the Exodus even happened, it could be anywhere from this being a reflection of incidental events and Moses’ immaturity, or it might be the convoluted fear mongering of priests years later in order to solicit religious obedience...or a bit of both.
D. An evil precedent for history; Divinely approved ethnic cleansing.
Why did God give Joshua a permit for ethnic cleansing and genocide when he could have (for instance) supernaturally made Saudi Arabia a land “flowing with milk and honey” instead of giving every tyrant for the next 4,000 years a license to do as much evil with God's supposed seal of approval?
Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that there really was some ultra context-inherent reason why ethnic cleansing was absolutely necessary in just this one wittle case. Without some objectively stipulated means of discerning a good any religion abusing tyrant is going to be able to claim the exact same thing:
The only tool we have to combat this is war and logic…and you know how much emphasis God places on logic in the Bible (see here for Richard Carrier’s overview on NT mystical standards, and here and here for my rebuttals to Glenn Miller’s insistence that the Bible condones skepticism).
BE: Just like apologists will say now of evil people who take advantage of religion…that’s probably exactly what was going on back then either at the time, or years later for political control at that time.
E. This is a general line item I’d like to see a Jewish historian fill out. There are a number of abusive ingredients I think that were put into the mix in Jewish history and culture by their religion. Tracing out the naturally expected consequences could make quite an interesting study. Just the whole constant prophetic routine of Israel being punished for worshiping false gods could have been easily routed by merely God showing up and giving a power point presentation on the non-existence of any other god. How effing hard is that? And what idiot is going to hit up the block of wood or stone after such a reality check? Perhaps they won't all be perfect followers, but they sure wouldn't go back to the inanimate objects would they?
BE: It is no surprise the Jews continually turned to "false" gods because all gods are false and thus a matter of your mood swings and random inclinations towards credulous factors. Why show preferential treatment to one over the other? Thus the senseless ping pong we find almost constantly in the OT.
11. Beyond Human Measure.
There’s a concept I’d like to call attention to that points to the natural tolerance ranges of the human system. It is all well and good to say that there might be some other context you don’t know about that might put an apparent shepherding disaster in different light. I have an outrageous example to offer merely in order to call attention to the general category without someone apologizing for it long before they register the idea. Certainly we can crank it back and still find its merit in the world around us. Here goes:
It is rather like aliens coming upon us and threatening to make a thousand people suffer horrendously for a thousand years if you don’t rape a little girl just once. Let’s pretend like you happen to be certain that these psychotic aliens are well known for doing this…that they actually will torture people for a long time if you don’t comply and that they actually won’t do it if you do comply and that if you don’t comply they’ll make you watch the thousand people be tortured for the rest of your life. But the point is if you did have to rape a little girl even though there might be some “other context” that justifies this apparent evil situation…it doesn’t matter. As a human being…you aren’t capable of coping with having to rape any little girl for any reason EVER! The greater good might be being served but you yourself are entirely compromised as an individual. And we’re not even talking about the little girl’s world either. I’m not trying to justify utilitarianism here, I’m only pointing to the limits of human constitution and how everything under the sun seems to be fair game on God’s green earth. It would be no surprise to learn that despite whatever God’s mysterious “greater good” might be…human measure on the local scale is being compromised to an extent that no other context could possibly justify it. Just remember the idea of this little tolerance range next you try to objectively assess God’s providential care. When someone claims, “It was too much for me to handle,” they very well may have meant it. Obviously there are people in insane asylums with extreme theistically themed delusions, apostates that had horrible experiences, struggling believers that never seem to get off the launch pad, etc…are we to imagine there are no transitional forms? All I’m saying here is that despite the Bible’s wishful thinking (Romans 8:28 and 1 Corinthians 10:13), if you look for disconfirming evidence instead of defining these people out of the salvation paradigm (aka “once saved always saved”), you will find plenty of it.
BE: Everything goes under the sun unchecked by divine providence because God doesn’t exist.
12. Product Inconsistency.
"This is good, and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3-4
"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." 1 Corinthians 14:33
Everyone knows we live in a world full of all sorts of mutually exclusive religions. And in each of those religions there are endless sects and denominations still… I’m sorry, even McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have better product consistency than this. And these are selfish human institutions. They know the obvious merit of being consistent…it completely suits their ends. And yet when it comes to God…God doesn’t seem to give a fuck. Perhaps he doesn’t have to set up shop in each and every country…perhaps it could be more like cell phone towers intermittently spaced amongst different clusters of countries…so that when history came to a climax instead of having dozens of cultures caught with their pants down harboring mutually exclusive metaphysical scams, we’d have half a dozen "Israel’s" across the world all preaching Jesus Christ independently. That’d be crazy, huh? We’d actually have an argument to the better explanation on behalf of a religion…but instead all we have are endless justifications for wars fought over imaginary plot devices…and even Christians have to accept there are honest people out there that believe whole-heartedly in what must be a lie. Surely we can’t unilaterally claim this is for the best. Assassinating a pope or two would cut out the Catholic and Protestant schisms…God is certainly willing to kill everyone else under the sun for little or no reason…why not when it counts? Why not actually have the Book of Mormon be true and make it seem like God knew about the Americas before the Spanish arrived?
BE: God doesn’t exist to run his salvation business appropriately.
13. God’s Shirking on General Middle Ground Responsibilities.
Let’s say we accept all this for whatever reason thus far…but we can still ask the question: why doesn’t God take care of his own responsibilities in personal affairs? Surely he can let man go against man for whatever contrived earthly reasons…but why doesn’t he step in and correct a ruler in front of everyone who claims to be waging a war on behalf of God…if in fact he is not? We can grant that evil has to exist for some reason or another but still presume that God should take care of his wedge of the pie when it comes to things concerning his own business…things that only he can do. Someone might get innocently sucked into a cult…why doesn’t Jesus send an angel to this person pointing to the nearest orthodox Christian church? They can still ignore the angel, right? Free will is still intact (not to mention respected). But at least God’s responsibilities are taken care of and we’d have no way to blame him. God should settle God-related disputes. And probably dozens of examples of this could be further provided…I hope you get the idea.
BE: The standards are set low because a non-existent God can’t accomplish even a minimum of responsibilities.
14. Bad Parenting in General.
"Start a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
Before I get to the most significant damning point of all, I should point out it is entirely common sense that good parenting requires certain obvious expectations be fulfilled…that no parent expects to fail utterly if they do all that they can to provide a good childhood for their offspring regardless of the free will variable of their kids. The Bible even testifies against God on this point in Proverbs 22:6. No one subjects their children to child abuse and sexual abuse hoping for some counter-intuitive perk 10 years later. Sure bad apples come from good households and good apples come from bad households, but the generality that most good people come from good households and most bad people come from bad households I would think still holds true. If not…then why give a shit about how you raise your children? This should be evidence at face value of divine negligence…the only thing God can do in this landslide is change the places of rocks when no one is looking…but overall the net damage is still going to be the same. People may find faith later in life after a horrific childhood, but the damage is still there at some level. They could have been mentally healthy people in a fuller sense, but they aren’t. They’ve been set back and may never get over it fully and are left with a life of damage control even if they can never admit it. The only thing this makes theists good at is pathological credulity and an unhealthy love affair with disaster. Even the most ighonest theolosopher can’t plead the fifth on this one. It is perfectly obvious you reap what you sow and thus God can’t get off the hook for not giving everyone the best opportunities possible.
BE: God doesn’t exist to look out for anyone. Some people have it good…others don’t.
15. The End Result.
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6
I’m sure you were thinking all along…it just seems bad…but maybe it’ll all turn out right in the end? However at this critical juncture we come to the most damning point of God’s goodness of all…the outcome of all of this supposed counter-intuitive providence. Matthew 7:14 says that few will be saved.
I’m sorry…isn’t this the outcome we would expect from random chance alone? God must have done something wrong along the way. If I told you that I’m a transcendent basketball coach and that of the trillions of humans ever born only a few would qualify for a professional basketball team…would you suspect I had any part in making that happen? Most of Jesus’ parables about sowing the seed of the Kingdom of God seem to imply happenstance, not providence. The seed is spread out everywhere…who knows what will happen (Mark 4:1-8)? God commands the wind and the waves (Mark 4:41) and yet is powerless to stop his “enemy” or supernaturally zoink out of existence the “weeds” without affecting the “crop” (Matthew 13:24-29)? Puuleeeease! If this were a bad plot device in a movie…I’d let it slide, but I can’t just let this go when most people are damned to eternal suffering for the primary crime of being born. I don’t know what could be worse than that. We consider a shepherd negligent if he brings home only 10% of the flock. We consider a teacher incompetent at her job if she fails 90% of her class on a routine basis. We consider a general a sadist if he has omnipotent weapons and brings home only 10% of the army. And yet God is so good when most people will burn in hell for all eternity?
BE: Same as 9.
16. Infinite Punishment for Finite Crimes.
"eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," Exodus 21:24
Even the barbaric OT is more humane! And it’s not just this monumental failure of providence to consider…God has to keep the damned around for all eternity like trophies of his own negligence…as though we will merely exist to suffer for whatever contrived reason. I’m sorry…Hitler was evil…but he doesn’t deserve eternal punishment…just a really long punishment. And presuming Hitler is the worst case scenario (which is probably false, but who knows?), what does that say about everyone else who will be right there with him? They may have been bad, but they don’t deserve this either. Even if you suppose damnation isn’t about a judgment of this life, but about sins people will continue to commit while in hell (in their spare time apparently, Mark 9:48), hasn’t God ever heard of a mercy kill? If souls can’t cease to exist…how about an induced experiential-less coma? Even if you believe in some kind of post Judgment Day universalism where all souls eventually find their way to God…which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the character of hell in Scripture (Matthew 25:10), why in the world did things start off on earth? If it’s just more of the same after death…the whole point of this testing ground just seems to fall flat and the entire charade is contrived. No matter how you cut this, its just plain sick and/or stupid.
BE: A non-existent deity has only so many notes to play. Thus trying to make you a deal that you can’t refuse and prey upon your fear and ignorance is no surprise…even to such infinite extents. People accept it because they don’t think they are going there even though the odds are against them.
17. God’s Love is Coercive.
"Jesus, the Godfather" wants to make you an offer you can't refuse:
"For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." Romans 11:32
Extortion anyone? Could it be anymore explicit? With hell on the table as the only alternative to heaven, free will isn’t being respected. In a coercive situation like “love me or burn,” normally we say something like “Well I guess I have no choice.” When someone has a gun to your head, we normally don’t consider them to be an avid advocate of free will. They are abusing choice. This is the kind of behavior we expect from the mafia…not from a good God. Someone once said to me, “Its not coercion if you accept Jesus as your Savior.” Yeah…just like there won’t be any of those “little accidents” if you pay the mafia protection money. Sorry folks…still extortion. Even the definition presented for what constitutes friendship with Jesus is...a bit scamtastic:
"You are my friends if you do what I command." John 15:14
For those of you that subscribe to the “being in the presence of God’s uncreated energies” theory where supposedly categorically there are only two options in the afterlife…either your heart reflects goodness or evil…and you enjoy or suffer as a result…the obvious problem is that God can create other options. We don’t have to be left naked to God’s innate presence. Exhibit A: Earth. It still boils down to the prophet professing that he didn’t rape the girl, but that she just happened to trip and land squarely on his dick. Not his fault, right? Dumb bitch should have looked where she was going…over…and over…and over…and over again...forever. That's much more humane than torturing her forever for being an unrepentent prostitute...that is if you are a moron.
BE: Desperate little holy men with a desire for the whole world to see things their way found themselves entertaining the utmost evil nonsense at their neighbor’s hypothetical expense.
And some managed to scamboozle themselves into a more sophisticated version of the same cruelty.
18. Unethical and Inhumane Laws.
Note, this is the only section I didn't do myself.
"You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good." Nehemiah 9:13
Even in the “Do as I say not as I do,” category, Yahweh still isn’t off the hook. For some general examples, Richard Carrier cites: “It was no surprise, then, to find that this same cruel God orders people to be stoned to death for picking up sticks on Saturday (Numbers 15:32-36), and commands that those who follow other religions be genocidally slaughtered (Deuteronomy 13:6-16). Indeed, genocide (Deuteronomy 2:31-34, 7:1-2, 20:10-15, and Joshua, e.g. 10:33) and fascism (Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Leviticus 20:13, 24:13-16, Numbers 15:32-6) were the very law and standard practice of God, right next to the Ten Commandments. Instead of condemning slavery, God condones it (Leviticus 25:44, cf. Deuteronomy 5:13-14, 21:10-13). And so on. Nothing could be more repugnant.”
“And the New Testament was only marginally better, though it too had its inexcusable features, from commands to hate (Luke 14:26) to arrogantly sexist teachings about women (1 Timothy 2:12), from Jesus saying he "came not to bring peace, but the sword," setting even families against each other (Matthew 10:34-36), to making blasphemy the worst possible crime, even worse than murder or child molesting (Matthew 12:31-32). It, too, supported slavery rather than condemning it (Luke 12:47, 1 Timothy 6:1-2).”
Any idea that God was slowly introducing humanity to better morality does away with any pretension to superior ethics (care to put a disclaimer on the 10 Commandments?), is indistinguishable from human error, leaves the “objective morality” Christians brag about undefined for our era, and makes no sense of the fact that the original humans (Adam and Eve) were supposedly more on the ball than us, given that we are the degraded copies.
Here's a word on the Bible's questionable outlook on sex borrowed from A Whore in the Temple of Reason:
19. Negligent Rhetoric of Jesus
"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." Matthew 12:36
Even if it is conceded that Jesus didn’t really mean to cut off limbs, to hate your family, and that all sexual desire is wrong…the gospels hit a wide audience. It should be no stretch of the imagination to note that not everyone is going to understand the ANE norms of hyperbole. If I knew I were going to be on stage for a few millennia of readers (with about a 2 and a half hour speech on ethics and salvation in terms of those "red letters") who weren’t all going to have access to apologetic resources, I’d try to keep things as simple and unencumbered by cultural nuances as possible to avoid extreme misunderstandings and the like. People go crazy over this stuff…and Jesus doesn’t seem to show any forbearance in the matter. We need to be able to read the gospels and if someone gets the wrong idea, not be able to legitimately blame the gospels because of how well they align with the dysfunctional behavior. Of course no work can communicate perfectly to everyone, lest we set an impossible standard (of course this begs the whole “personal” relationship with Jesus question) but when we see that someone gets something drastically wrong…and then EASILY see why from the Biblical text…we can’t pass it off as mere subjectivity or an evil person reading a good book. Instead of this...why doesn’t Jesus come to each person and explain exactly what the situation is so that everyone knows what is up and what they can do about it in terms they can't get wrong?
BE: I’m going to have to appeal to that cultic tunnel vision again…so entrenched on wringing the good out of people at any expense; they expend the care it could have taken to make a truly humane piece of literature.
20. Catch All Omni-Forbearance.
If the theolosopher can concoct an improbable reason for each of these damning points, and for whatever reason there simply isn’t a humane destiny for humanity no matter what God (the “lover” of humanity) choose to create by speaking it into existence (Genesis 1:3)…why would a good god create anything at all? I guess God had to create the Theotokos (Jesus’ mother, Mary) in order for him to be told, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say [create] anything at all.” But by that time it was too late, eh?
BE: God doesn’t exist, but a big uncaring universe does…and it doesn’t give a shit about you or me just as you would expect from stark impersonal existence.
21. Making Credulity a Virtue.
"A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps." Proverbs 14:15
Man if only that previous verse was an actual pervasive theme in the Bible and not the exception to the rule...that the author probably never intended to be applied to belief in God...but only day to day worldly things.
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16
Apparently as long as you buy the scam, turning on your snake wisdom is kosher. But boy when it comes to buying the snake oil (believing your religion), its a whole different story:
"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
"'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' " Luke 16:27-31
"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:29
For the record, taking these verses seriously is about as profound as this:
What's the number one problem that religious folk can't face up to in this day and age that folks like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens endlessly harp on? Epistemic accountability. Prioritizing questionable beliefs over the real suffering of people in the here and now in matters of public policy in all of its ugly manifestations because Christians are under the distinct impression that they don't have to own up to reality in any objective way that the rest of us can validate for ourselves. Shouldn't knowing that the important personal things you believe are actually true and being able to reasonably prove it be fundamental to morality?
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD." Jeremiah 23:16
Epistemic accountability is ground zero for moral judgment. And that is the place where God drops the ball most. How many horrible things have gone on that even modern Christians will condemn, simply because some other Christian in some ignorant time period believed something that wasn't true? If witches, magic, and Satan are real...then the Dark Ages were mislabeled. Why couldn't God JUST TELL THEM!? What law of the universe does that violate? What deal with Satan did he sign? What excuse could there be? Communication is the number one fundamental thing of any serious relationship and thus this is probably the most grievous of God's sins...that is, after eternal hellfire of course. That one is hard to beat.
22. God is Not Love.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Patient? Or negligent? Check those 400 years of the cruel slavery in Egypt. (Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 3:7)
Kind? Eternal hell? (Revelation 14:7-11) Is there something less kind than that?
Jealous? His NAME is Jealous…hello. If someone says their middle name is “Danger” we expect to be in an action movie…if a god says his FIRST NAME is jealous, we expect to be in a maltheistic holy book: “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (and all the other times.) Exodus 34:14
Brag? Arrogant? Tell that to Job. (Job 38)
Unbecomingly? Um…genocide…(Deuteronomy 13:6-16, Deuteronomy 2:31-34, 7:1-2, 20:10-15, and Joshua, e.g. 10:33). Is that becoming of a loving deity?
Seek its own? God’s all about the personal glory-mongering.
Angered? Define “easily.” (I'm sure he took his time getting angry in each and every instance)
Record of wrongs? Hello! Judgment Day! “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” Revelation 20:12
No rejoicing in unrighteousness? How about just redefining unrighteousness…(see apologetics in general).
Rejoices with the truth? lol, silly meta-scam.
Bears all things? Restraining yourself from pushing the big green “instant world peace” button sitting on your desk in heaven must be very tough work, I’ll admit. I couldn’t do it.
Never fails? God totally meant to fail miserably: Biggest OT precedent, Numbers 14:30 and the grand finale, Matthew 7:14.
BE: Um...a few thousand years and a few dozen authors had a tough time keeping their imaginary friend's character consistent.
Hopefully you can all tell out there that I did pay attention in Sunday school. I know, I know...someone out there wants me to admit that maybe just maybe...its all a BIG misunderstanding and that despite all this good judgement, common sense, and careful reasoning, there's the slightest chance in hell that maybe God is more like Optimus Prime than Saddam Hussein (who apparently even had a lighter romantic side; think Song of Songs, lol).
It's true...I'm fallible. I admit it. It's soooooooooo hard to tell the difference in behavioral patterns from a true, good-willed hero archetype who has humanity's best interests always in mind to a Middle Eastern genocidal negligent tyrant and control freak. My species did evolve over billions of years...so who knows how valid my thoughts are, right? If that's what you need to hear to keep on meta-scamming, so be it.
However, for those of us that believe in objectivity and calling it like it is, clearly God’s priorities aren’t about love or even about salvation. If I had to guess at God’s motivation, I’d say it’s glory-profiteering at literally any expense via the least effort on his part. One wonders why it is not more to God’s glory to be considerate of humanity. It’s not even clear that God is doing anything for anyone other than "graciously" leaving them to their own theistically friendly delusions and confirmation bias. The outcome according to Jesus is horrific beyond imagination and there are dozens moral contingencies that have been entirely by-passed. The only ethical standard God seems capable of measuring up to is the “whatever God happens to do ‘standard.’” Fine…but why attempt to maintain the pretense to God’s goodness if it doesn’t actually mean anything objective? I simply can’t relate my “image of god” to this negligent deity in any way.
-Of course there’s always the “God had to be such a hard ass on camera” idea. I’m sorry. I don’t see any good precedent setters here. All I see is negligence then…now…and in the end. What in the world is under control? Believers don’t take these passages seriously…non-believers don’t think they even happened…and then there’s the people in between that either get tortured by their good will investment in Christianity and the atheists that will endlessly point these things out and be thoroughly disgusted by it. About five people are actually “warned” and inspired to good deeds. All it seems to cause on average are unnecessary convoluted extremes when a more moderate approach that was reality based and not fire and brimstone hearsay based would be more successful. I understand the whole, “Act like a mean teacher at first or they’ll walk all over you,” routine…but did it work? We expect the class to be well behaved and most students to get good grades at the end of the semester…but alas. Not so in God’s class.
It’s not like he even has to show up in his “Piss me off and die” form. Supposedly the direct presence of God solicits steeper rewards and punishments according to some apologists. Maybe that's true. Let's take two seconds to think of other options: There’s Jesus…angels…saints… God, the petulant Father can stay at home and let his more modest entourage do the “dirty work” of actually loving the world into salvation. All in all this explanation fails especially because the formula works much better in terms of religious authorities who want to attempt to over control the masses routine with extremist stories and unsubstantiated threats…because they don’t have a real god on hand to actually do something simple, humane, and effective.
-Calvinists will try to claim that “even an iota of mercy is more than God has to provide…” Okay…so instead of proclaiming you have a moral god…you just set the bar infinitely low? Riiiiiight… I think any god can meet this “standard” including a non-existent one. And this requires humanity to be wholly evil…which we aren’t. Thus one cannot grant that piece of the puzzle. I don’t know anyone that can be objectively said to be “totally depraved” and I certainly can’t say that everyone is that way. Any being that says otherwise is truly a bigot and that doesn’t help the matter…especially given that God let us be this way and we didn’t choose it. One wonders why even Calvinists think they are going to make it to heaven. Isn’t God still in the clear if the only means of salvation is happening upon a single and certain lucky pebble in your shoe like a raffle ticket? It would be the only one that exists in the universe (that incidentally might be found anywhere in the universe…). The coherence of your God’s ethics is still intact even in that event. Even long standing denominations like the Eastern Orthodox Church reject the doctrine of total depravity as a self abusive gross exaggeration that contradicts experience and common sense. They themselves will try to claim it’s all this “apparent” evil is a big “mystery.” The only mystery is how they can avoid coming to obvious conclusions when they are so sensible otherwise. It’s like Toto has pulled back the curtain but we are still required to believe we can’t see the wizard.
-Oh...and let's not forget the avid morons that say, "You can't use the Bible to refute the Bible," as though we are somehow obligated to accept their ridiculous axiomatic appraisal of its ontological status because they say so. Not to mention...I just did use the Bible to refute the Bible. Missing any major appendages, good sir knight? Asserting your conclusion without an argument doesn't hold up well there, buddy. Anyone that says crap like this is dropping the ball on a full system of checks and balances on the vitality of their paradigm. One tiny wittle questionable philosophical conjecture is wagging a HUGE ontological dog all the while circumventing all other means of epistemic accountability. Red flag, anyone? How likely is their worldview to be true? It should work both ways...axiomatically as well as in terms of internal consistency without special pleading and question begging. You can't use one to absolutely turn over the other...since you may well be wrong about it's axiomity. It is a significant part of your own worldview that you are a fallible being...maybe its not such a bad idea to, oh I don't know...double check your nonsense from a different perspective? Heresy, right? Lest you basically be stuck holding the "I didn't bother making sure my religion was ethical before I bought it hook, line, and sinker" bag.
The best explanation is that a supposedly good god has been badly jury-rigged into a non-theistic amoral world in various ways. It is the result of an unquestioning commitment to an idealistic and desirable but ultimately false idea. You want a good god, but one doesn’t exist and all you have is an amoral world? What you gonna do? See Bible. Whatever measure of moral competence can be found in the barbarism of the OT or the insanity of the NT is simply what we would expect to find of any human invention. There’s always some meager perk to any law or act done. That doesn’t make it ethically supreme. Of course apologists will settle for even the faintest of positive validation and claim ultimate moral victory.
Perhaps you can understand when my unapologetic reaction to Jesus’ crucifixion is, “Gee, that’s a good start.” We are in no position to say that “God so loves the world,” as such a claim is a complete farce and Jesus showing a bit of compassion to the sick and lame in the first century is a slap in the face to the rest of human history.
To close with, Richard Carrier writes:
“…wise men speak clearly, brilliantly, their ability at communication is measured by their success at making themselves readily understood.”
“Though called a wise father, there is not a single example in the Old Testament of God sitting down and kindly teaching anyone…”
“It does no good to try in desperation to make excuses for it. A good and wise man's message would not need excuses. It follows that the Bible was written neither by the wise nor the good.”
I will get back to your shortly.
I do appreciate all of the careful padding you do to your statements. I’ve been quite conversationally abused of late and it is refreshing.
I don’t really have a lot to disagree with for the first half of your comment. It could be a viable description of something good if given an appropriate (though missing) context. I have about five basic things to *add* however to it that drastically effect the coherency of the Calvinist definition of God.
-Even if coherent, does this system exist? I don’t see why “the best of beings” has any inherent ontological pull. Its just an idea. An idea is just as good regardless of whether or not it has literal representation in reality.
-Is the definition of “greatest and best of beings” too anthropocentric? Why are consciousness and many (no matter how generic) human qualities relevant to the definition?
-If the above two contentions are conceded, is Edward’s definition of the best of beings actually the correct definition? We seem to be inescapably in a relationship with this being whom we may or may not know even exists. Now, in my world, not everyone is subject to paying homage to my status, no matter how significant or insignificant I may think I am. They can merely be apathetic and somewhere else and that isn’t a sin against my ego. I don’t consider it a step up no matter how awesome or good I could possibly become to start expecting otherwise. We don’t seem to be being treated as autonomous individuals, we seem to be being treated as though we are neurons in God’s brain that have to get with the program or else. As I mentioned in my previous comment, not only is this petty, but seems to contradict some of the more “live and let live” parables like the prodigal son which would take on serious ethical problems if we actually insert Edwards definition into it. “If you love it let it go” seems entirely foreign to this God and yet we would consider such a thing to have the utmost respect for interpersonal autonomy. Somehow at the end of this definition most people are burning in hell for all eternity and that’s very close to the worst thing I can imagine and I don‘t think *anyone* deserves it. One would think that would clue us in to perhaps having gotten something grossly wrong along the way. As I said in the post, giving a choice (believe or burn) is not the same thing as respecting free will.
-Even given the Edwards definition, it is still subject in action to virtually all of the points I’ve brought up in this post as it is clear we are not at the mercy of what we would expect from the “best of beings.” I’ve done my best to compare to what I think is a robust definition of the “best possible moral behavior” and clearly I’m not talking past such a definition as given. Valuing oneself even infinitely does not mean we or even our own way should not be valued appropriately. God seems to have the egoism down, but what is missing is sufficient empathy for others no matter how minute that might actually end up being in comparison to him. Given that, selfishness still isn’t off the table. You may say that our happiness and God’s glory are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but its pretty clear most of the time they are and not for good reasons.
-Our status in the system is labeled “vanity” and yet somehow our trifledge factors into something meaningful on behalf of this “best of beings?” We’re not even lint in God’s pocket and somehow we have a seemingly serious relationship. Although that might explain why the human race is treated like such shit. Though again, I would think the “best of beings” would be able to do a lot better for the human race than getting executed 2000 years ago and saving only a few of us from eternal damnation by some spiritual act of free association. Perhaps there is an answer to this, but how can we as finite beings hypothetically give God the infinite honor he supposedly deserves?
Now, to answer your questions:
1. I would say there is hope for man to get better. There is also grounds for suspecting things could get very messed up…even irrevocably so. Will science one day solve all our problems and bring us into that Star Trekish utopian age? I don’t know. Will Islam conquer the world by out breeding everyone long before that happens? I don’t know. Will some major natural disaster befall us? I don’t know. There is hope and danger and how that will play out only time will tell. I personally only hope to leave the world better than I found it and I hope to see at least history going off in the right direction. I don’t have some ideological predisposition that overrules common sense and ignorance. In terms of evolution, my initial impression is I don’t see enough competition for our evolution towards improvement to not stagnate. The reproduction is there, the genetic drift is there…but the competition is lacking for technological and humanitarian reasons. I’ve read articles that seem to think otherwise. I could be wrong or just partially right. Though scientists can be quite narrow-minded non-philosophers and come to some pretty ridiculous conclusions at times. This isn’t an argument for fascism or genocide of inferior gene carriers, but it is incentive to step up to the plate and become good stewards of our gene pool is clever and humane ways.
2. The mind creates beauty as a filter from what the universe has to offer though given its utility in terms of mental efficiency, I would not be surprised if it were more universal than the confines of our species. I’m sure many other mammals have a very similar experience though we can’t ask them and I’m sure alien races may very well stumble upon beauty via convergent evolution. You still seem to be locked into your false dichotomies and I think I have already answered this question. In all probability that didn’t register since I answered on my terms and not yours. The normal course of this it seems for the theistic mind is to say that if it isn’t universal in an absolute transcendent ontological sense, it doesn’t mean anything. And yet it obviously does mean something to everyone and they take that as evidence that a physicalist definition of beauty must be wrong. And the only problem here is that they shipwrecked their objectivity with absolute terms. “Things that are meaningful have to have an absolute ontological status or else,” is just a subjective emotionally immature and unnecessary unspoken premise and overreaction, in my opinion. Beauty’s ontological status is as deep and meaningful as we need it to be.
3. I would disagree with your statement concerning the immoral status of the majority of people. My moral system recognizes the limited viability of every moral system to whatever degree. I would consider everyone *morally inefficient* including myself, but not immoral in a harsh black and white sense. From my perspective such a dichotomy of immoral vs. moral is immature and dangerous. This naturally leaves room for adjustment and improvement. I don’t know what world you live in but not everyone is that fucked up. Even the most devious people I’ve met are capable and do engage in moral behavior. And if you are tactful you can cultivate more of it in them. There are many fucked up things about the world and people are imperfect and stupid to varying degrees, but I certainly don’t consider everyone to be seriously fucked up as Calvinism would seem to require (I‘m still not quite sure on your version of total depravity). We don’t all need a savior though sometimes one would be nice. You seem to have an overly generalized “news-eye view” that conforms to your Christian sensibilities. I think the phrase for that is “confirmation bias.” Perhaps there is more depth to your understanding than that which is represented here, however it seems a little too convenient to deep six all of humanity (just because of absolutist categorical distinctions) for the sake of the dangling carrot of God‘s goodness that is outside of the system entirely. With slightly less tone deaf distinctions, the world looks a lot better and you can see the good despite the bad. A lot of good goes on in the world that has very little to do with Jesus and Calvinists routinely use their definitions to merely define out the competition. I would hope you would be more sensible than your brethren.
In regards to the second part of this question, chance has unequally distributed the basis for my moral paradigm which would be natural interests, empathy, and intellect. The actual articulation of it in abstract terms is my own design though of course I press for the utmost of dispassionate objectivity. Thus the ingredients are evolution, the end result is from me. The distinction does have limited significance, but perhaps you didn‘t mean much by implying evolution created the abstract of my moral system. Of course, if I’ve done my job correctly, I should be merely reflecting the obvious in generic universal terms without any contrived ideological hang-ups. I should be merely saying, “Hey, this is the best way to ratify the deal evolution gave us.“ Talent is unevenly distributed and many many things get in the way of the obvious. Such oversight can be very difficult and simply isn‘t necessary enough to expect to surface in everyone though it is obviously not impossible either. Hopefully my moral paradigm works with what is already present in each individual instead of merely trying to absolutely override it and thus I do consider a viable percentage of it to exist in everyone whether they understand or appreciate it or not. When you drop all pretensions to the cosmic scale moral paradigms of religion, such important distinctions become quite obvious and the atheist view is infinitely more sensible. In order to overcome all the impending disasters of such mutually exclusive dogmas of the world colliding there will be more and more a need to get the facts *completely* straight and those few like-minded secularists may find their voice being heard to a greater and greater degree. Only time will tell.
Hey, sorry that I still haven't responded. I'm fairly swamped right now. Just a quick question. Could you recommend a book that isn't agenda driven (it can have some agenda, of course, but just not agenda driven) that will explain the currently accepted evolutionary theory in detail? If you could recommend such a book, I'd really appreciated it.
Oh, and I found a book that you might be interested in. It's called "Habits of the High Tech Heart" by Quentin Schultze. It's basically talking about morality in a technological age. It's written from a Christian perspective, and so I'm sure that there's a lot that you will disagree with, but its base issue is morality, and it's standards of morality that we both agree with. He raises a lot of good points. Anyways, as a blogger and an internet conversationalist I think that you would really enjoy it.
Wow, ARU's still at it!