Ask a Christian Theist

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Lev Muishkin
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by Lev Muishkin »

Immanuel Can wrote:
Omnipotence admits to no other agency by god.
This is definitive.
Actually, your allegation is a non-sequitur: it doesn't follow logically.

For example, suppose you "have power" to beat your spouse...does that mean you *do* it too?

Omnipotence implies, "having all power." It doesn't mean "always using it."
Omni means in all things in all places, at all times
That means all actions are gods actions. And that is exactly what is meant by it. Omnipresence means not only that god is present, but is all things; you me, the garbage can and Alpha Centauri.
To use your own word;"it means having all power". ALL POWER means no other can wield any power as all power is in god. Thus all use of power is gods power.
uwot
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by uwot »

Immanuel Can wrote:Well, I certainly wouldn't want to force anyone to make an advance on answers obtained as an undergraduate. :D
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Given your whingeing about ad hominem arguments, I can only conclude that you are too dim to realise that is exactly what the above is, or you are a hypocrite.
Immanuel Can wrote:I think the answer you were taught is pretty clearly untrue. Richard Swinburne, for example, in The Existence of God, has made a very good case that it is logically incoherent to posit that any human libertarian freedom could exist in a world in which either human beings themselves or the environment in which they lived were Deterministically constrained.
What exactly is the argument he makes, or are you making an argument from authority?
Immanuel Can wrote:To put it more simply: if human beings can't choose, they aren't free. And if they are granted the theoretical potentiality to choose, but are forcibly confined to a world that is Deterministically constrained, then their "freedom" is only potential and theoretical and not actual at all. It's fake freedom.
Then your god cannot make a better world than we have, and you are stuck with some Leibnizian, Panglossian 'best of all possible worlds'.
Immanuel Can wrote:Not even God creates square circles, unmarried bachelors, rocks He can't lift, or constrained freedom -- not merely because such things are in some sense "hard" or "unlikely," but because they are actually irrational and self-contradictory concepts. As C.S. Lewis once said, "Nonsense is nonsense; even when one uses it to talk about God."
Like I said, it is not about logical oxymorons. You are committed to believing that god could not have made the universe a better place. Either you or your god are woefully unimaginative.
Immanuel Can wrote:P.S. -- I thoroughly DO understand what Lev said: but I wonder if the true implications of what he said are evident in everyone's mind. From his ensuing claim, I would think not.
I really don't think you do. If you understand the point, then either you agree that if there is another agency in the universe, then the power is not all your god's, or you offer an argument to support an alternative. Any fool can claim to understand, but just saying it doesn't demonstrate it.
Immanuel Can wrote:In short, I think Swinburne is right. But reading his book, you will discover, will take you well, well beyond the normal reading and thinking capacities of the average undergraduate. :wink:
Ad hominem again. Like I said: if you think you understand Swinburne's argument, present it and, without going beyond the normal reading and thinking capacities of the average undergraduate, I will demonstrate why it is utter nonsense.
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

uwot wrote:an almighty god could have created a world in which all his beloved humans made the appropriate choices and were saved. Your god didn't, either because it couldn't, or it doesn't care for the majority of human beings.
False dilemma. There are a number of alternate theories that are not incoherent. (And let's all be honest here. That second option is a pretty obvious strawman.)
uwot
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by uwot »

ReliStuPhD wrote:False dilemma. There are a number of alternate theories that are not incoherent.
Then let's hear one.
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

uwot wrote:
ReliStuPhD wrote:False dilemma. There are a number of alternate theories that are not incoherent.
Then let's hear one.
A world in which all humans made the right choices and were saved is a world in which free will is not maximally present. Such a world is not the best world God was capable of creating.
Mind you, you don't have to like this third option, but it is at least as viable an option as "God couldn't [create such a world]" or "doesn't care for the majority of human beings." A dilemma is not about excluding the options we don't like. It must show that these are the only two options from which one may choose, and such simply is not the case here. Hence the false dilemma.

EDIT: Allow me to admit an error on my part. I responded the first part of your argument and not the dilemma you presented itself. Shame on me. That said, it's still easy to show that you've presented a false dilemma because there is the third option that God did create the world to which you refer and humans are mistaken with respect to the contention that not everyone is saved. I'll leave my original reply up because it provides its own food for thought, but as far as my objection that your dilemma was a false one goes, this edit should be taken as the proof of its falseness.
Last edited by ReliStuPhD on Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by Immanuel Can »

That's good, and is in some ways pretty much a very condensed version of what Swinburne says. (Anyone who wants to seriously engage with that argument could not do better than reading his book on the subject.)

I would add this: that in any world we considered genuinely good, "freedom" would have to be very high in value. I say that because we can empirically observe that people do generally agree that freedom is of great value -- of such great value, in fact, that people frequently even give up their own lives in order either to provide that good to others, or even simply to affirm the necessity of it. How many wars have been fought so people could be free? And how many protests are raised in the name of human freedom? "Give me liberty, or give me death," we say.

You see, we think it's awfully important -- so important that people would literally rather die than not have it. And we don't even find that strange.

So if there were a world in which evil was eliminated completely, but thereby so was freedom, then that world would not be what we would ever consider a "maximally-good world."
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

Immanuel Can wrote:That's good, and is in some ways pretty much a very condensed version of what Swinburne says. (Anyone who wants to seriously engage with that argument could not do better than reading his book on the subject.)

I would add this: that in any world we considered genuinely good, "freedom" would have to be very high in value. I say that because we can empirically observe that people do generally agree that freedom is of great value -- of such great value, in fact, that people frequently even give up their own lives in order either to provide that good to others, or even simply to affirm the necessity of it. How many wars have been fought so people could be free? And how many protests are raised in the name of human freedom? "Give me liberty, or give me death," we say.

You see, we think it's awfully important -- so important that people would literally rather die than not have it. And we don't even find that strange.

So if there were a world in which evil was eliminated completely, but thereby so was freedom, then that world would not be what we would ever consider a "maximally-good world."
Right. i think this holds. That said, I realized that I actually replied to uwot's initial premise and not the actual dilemma he presented. I have edited my reply to include a response to the dilemma itself, so it's probably worth reading that.
Last edited by ReliStuPhD on Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

<Double post>
Last edited by ReliStuPhD on Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by Immanuel Can »

I see.

Well, and in view of "freedom" as a value, we might well consider an additional alternative he's left out -- namely that "freedom" is conceptually impossible in a world where all choices are constrained to be good, and yet "freedom" itself is of such extremely high value as to be worth risking even the loss of the individual to an eternal destination he/she has freely chosen.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

I think there's wisdom in that.
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

Immanuel Can wrote:Well, and in view of "freedom" as a value, we might well consider an additional alternative he's left out -- namely that "freedom" is conceptually impossible in a world where all choices are constrained to be good, and yet "freedom" itself is of such extremely high value as to be worth risking even the loss of the individual to an eternal destination he/she has freely chosen.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
With the caveat that I don't necessarily find the Christian position compelling myself, I can nevertheless agree with this sort of thinking. If we assume that being created is better than not being created (I imagine some don't), then it seems that being created with free will is better than being created without it (we can also see this when we speak of computers insofar as we seem to consider a "true" AI to be a greater achievement than a "cleverly-programmed" one). So if being created is better than not being created, and having free will is better than not having it, it really does seem to me that, at least on one level, this is the best of all possible worlds "God" could have created.

Where I think Christians (at least most of them) go wrong is in maintaining something like "you better get it right in this life, because there ain't no second chances." In this regard, I much prefer those theologians who argue for a God that continues trying to "convince" humans, even after death. Otherwise, I do find myself in agreement with the atheists who hold this "eternity of punishment of a lifetime of sins" God up as example of deity created in the image of "Man."
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by Immanuel Can »

And I guess this too tilts on the question of how much we should value "freedom".
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ReliStuPhD
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by ReliStuPhD »

Immanuel Can wrote:And I guess this too tilts on the question of how much we should value "freedom".
Right, and I think this a problem atheists have to deal with. There seems to be something an automatic response of revulsion at the implications of a god who creates humans with free will, and yet atheists value free will highly (or so it seems to me). There is a certain cognitive dissonance to value it so highly and yet hold free will up as some sort of sign that God has not created the best possible world. It would seem that, at least on that point, there would have to be some sort of begrudging acceptance that "god" (if he or she existed) got it right.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by Immanuel Can »

Well said.
uwot
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by uwot »

ReliStuPhD wrote: it's still easy to show that you've presented a false dilemma because there is the third option that God did create the world to which you refer and humans are mistaken with respect to the contention that not everyone is saved.
You're right. I hadn't considered that.
thedoc
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Re: Ask a Christian Theist

Post by thedoc »

ReliStuPhD wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:Well, and in view of "freedom" as a value, we might well consider an additional alternative he's left out -- namely that "freedom" is conceptually impossible in a world where all choices are constrained to be good, and yet "freedom" itself is of such extremely high value as to be worth risking even the loss of the individual to an eternal destination he/she has freely chosen.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
With the caveat that I don't necessarily find the Christian position compelling myself, I can nevertheless agree with this sort of thinking. If we assume that being created is better than not being created (I imagine some don't), then it seems that being created with free will is better than being created without it (we can also see this when we speak of computers insofar as we seem to consider a "true" AI to be a greater achievement than a "cleverly-programmed" one). So if being created is better than not being created, and having free will is better than not having it, it really does seem to me that, at least on one level, this is the best of all possible worlds "God" could have created.

Where I think Christians (at least most of them) go wrong is in maintaining something like "you better get it right in this life, because there ain't no second chances." In this regard, I much prefer those theologians who argue for a God that continues trying to "convince" humans, even after death. Otherwise, I do find myself in agreement with the atheists who hold this "eternity of punishment of a lifetime of sins" God up as example of deity created in the image of "Man."
I started looking at these e-mails several years ago but it wasn't until I read this one that I started reading them again regularly. The bolded section seems to explain what I have bolded in the above quote.

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Mutual Indwelling

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Quantum Entanglement


"God is creating Real Presence, just as Eucharistic practice always said, which is probably why the images of an intimate bride and bridegroom are used throughout the Bible. Mutual presence, even intimacy, is clearly the ultimate goal. Bride and bridegroom are together just for the sake of being together! Presence is the naked language of union, of being lost and found in the face of the other, or in Jesus, the very breath of the Other (John 20:22). If that is the core meaning of eternal life, then why wouldn’t we practice it now, enjoy it now, choose it now? How you get there is where you will arrive. Why has so much of Christian history settled for a courtroom instead of a bridal chamber? It is really quite disturbing how this has corrupted the whole Gospel.

You don’t have to figure it all out or get it all right ahead of time. You just have to stay on the journey. All you can do is stay connected to the Source, which connects you to everything else. We don’t know how to be perfect, but we can stay in union. “If you remain in me and I remain in you,” says Jesus, “you can ask for whatever you want and you’re going to get it” (see John 15:7). When you’re connected, there are no coincidences or accidents anymore.

Union realigns you with everything, and synchronicities, coincidences, and “providences” just keep happening. Science now calls this “quantum entanglement,” and it is even provable! I myself cannot explain the physics of it all. All I know from my side is that “the branch cut off from the vine is useless” (John 15:5), and connected to the vine it bears much fruit (15:5, 7). The False Self is fragile, needy, and insecure; the True Self is endlessly generative, in touch with its Source, and inside the Big Flow. If you want to read of someone who really lived this, treat yourself to Thérèse of Lisieux’s memorable biography, The Story of a Soul. It has “entangled” many a life for God and for good."

Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality, pp. 214-215
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