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Does God Punish People Through Natural Weather Events?

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. […] I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish." - Genesis 6:13, 17

“This flood is from God. It’s a judgment on America.” - Jim Bakker

 

Harvey. Irma. Katia. Jose. This is turning out to be an active hurricane season. And predictably it gives rise to those would-be prophets like Jim Bakker who boldly proclaim that these severe weather events should be interpreted as God’s judgment.

One may question such pronouncements both for their pastoral wisdom and accuracy. But they do force us to ask: how do we know Bakker is wrong?

After all, the Bible regularly describes God as rendering judgment with the hammer of severe weather events: storms, floods, and droughts are all described in punitive terms. And with no clear Biblical evidence that God has declared a moratorium on the practice, the question inevitably presents itself: does God punish people through the weather in our day? In short, while Jim Bakker may be wrong, could he possibly be right?

In this article I will briefly outline three considerations that support the conclusion that God would not punish people by way of severe weather events and thus that Bakker could not be right.

Definitions

First, let’s begin with definitions for three key terms: God, severe weather events, and punishment.

When I refer to “God” I mean a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.

When I refer to “severe weather events” I am thinking not of limited events that have discrete effects like a single lightning bolt striking a particular individual. Instead, I am thinking of complex and expansive systems and processes that affect potentially hundreds, thousands, or even millions of human beings and other sentient creatures: for example, a devastating flood or a scorching heat wave.

Finally, when I refer to “punishment” I mean the act of imparting a penalty to an individual for an offense committed.

Thus, my core claim is that God would not inflict punishment by way of severe weather events. To support this claim I will identify three characteristics of severe weather events which make them unbefitting as modes of punishment.

Discriminate Punishment

To begin with, God would employ modes of punishment that discriminate the guilty from the innocent while restricting punishment to the former. Furthermore, God would employ modes of punishment that adjust the intensity of punishment relative to the culpability of the individuals being punished.

By contrast, severe weather events are indiscriminate in their effects. In other words, the very complex and random nature of these events is such that they do not distinguish the culpable from the innocent or the more culpable from the less culpable. Instead, they destroy homes, wreak carnage, and inflict injuries and grave emotional suffering seemingly at random.

Consider the recent flooding that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. That flooding did not discriminate the morally wicked. Nor was the experience of flooding proportional to the guilt of individuals who suffered.

For example, one of the first and most horrifying tragedies resulting from the flood occurred when four children and their great-grandparents drowned after their van plunged into a raging torrent while trying to escape the flood. At the same time, the children’s great uncle escaped the van. Should we conclude that the children (including a six year old) and their great-grandparents were justly drowned as punishment for some actions while the great uncle was properly spared?

To be sure, it is logically possible that God could employ a severe weather event which discriminates in the way we expect of proper punishment. For example, picture a severe thunderstorm which pelts only the guilty with hail and which hits those who are most guilty with the largest hail pellets.

While this is a logical possibility, it is not how (punitive) severe weather events are described in the Bible. Nor is it how severe weather events seem to occur today.

Unambiguous Punishment

Second, God would employ modes of punishment that unambiguously link the punishment to the offense. Doing so is important for deterrence, reformation, and punition.

Imagine, for example, that Billy steals a cookie from the cookie jar. His parents observe his deceptive action but they say nothing. Then, six months later, Billy’s parents suddenly inform him that he cannot watch any television or play video games for the day. Billy’s parents intend this prohibition as punishment for Billy’s deception six months earlier, but they never tell him their actions are punishment for his deception. 

This seems quite improper. It would be wrong for Billy’s parents to punish him without explaining what the punishment was for. Proper punishment requires the one being punished understand the link between his/her indiscretion and the resulting punishment.

Needless to say, natural disasters like hurricanes and floods lack the interpretive context necessary for proper punishment. Apart from the occasional alleged prophet who typically addresses a relatively small subset of the affected population, there is no clear link between a specific severe weather event and some particular indiscretion.

Proportional Punishment

Finally, punishment ought to be proportional to the offense and thus should not be cruel and unusual.

By contrast, if the suffering that is produced by natural disasters were classified as punishment, much of it would surely be categorized as cruel and unusual. Consider the recent flooding in Houston as a result of Hurricane Harvey as an example. From elderly people in a retirement home slumped over in their wheelchairs, waist-deep in fetid, sewage-laced water to terrified children being pulled to their watery grave in a raging current, the suffering produced by the floods in Texas is anything but a proportional response to an offense.

To drive the point home, we should reflect in particular on the horror of drowning. A decade ago at the height of the controversy over water-boarding as a means of interrogation, Christopher Hitchens submitted himself to be water-boarded — a process that simulates drowning — to see if it really qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. The memorable title of the article he wrote of his experience was titled “Believe Me, It’s Torture.” It is worth quoting his account at some length:

“In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.”

Now, if you dare, try to imagine the experience of four small children and their great-grandparents being pulled under those swift-moving floodwaters. Is there any condition under which such deaths could be considered just punishment?

Conclusion

If I am correct that God would only exercise punishment that is discriminate, unambiguous, and proportional, and severe weather events have none of these properties, then it follows that God would not punish by way of severe weather events. From this it follows not only that Jim Bakker is probably wrong, but that he must be wrong.

While this is a reassuring conclusion, it does stand in tension with the straightforward Biblical accounts of God utilizing severe weather events for the purposes of punishment. So one must choose. Should one reject the three hallmarks of punishment listed in this article? Or should one find another way to read the Biblical texts in question?

Dr. Randal Rauser

Written by

Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary where he has taught since 2003. He is the author of many books including What on Earth do we Know About Heaven? (Baker, 2013); The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails (InterVarsity, 2012); Is the Atheist My Neighbor? (Cascade, 2015); An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything (Prometheus Books, 2016); and his most recent book, What's So Confusing About Grace? (Two Cup Press, 2017)"Randal also blogs and podcasts at RandalRauser.com and lectures widely on Christian worldview and apologetics.

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  • Logike

    It is interesting to note that though God may not punish, he certainly indiscriminately *allows* natural disasters to befall good and bad people alike, which is still a problem (though probably outside the scope of this article).

    • Mike

      maybe natural evils are necessary given the kinds of things we are; if fire didn't hurt it wouldn't provide us heat.

      • Kerk Lastnameless

        Not enough data available to speculate either way. Maybe yes, maybe not.

        • Mike

          i, naturally, disagree.

      • Logike

        ? Having the capacity to feel pain (heat) is necessary to survive given what we are. But surely natural disasters that kill people, viz., explosive volcanoes and hot lava, are not necessary to survive, since these very things kill people in droves, and hence are contrary to what you are talking about. And even if volcanoes were "necessary" for some other broad ecological purpose, in the very least God could prevent a tragedy by warning people beforehand so that they have a chance to move away from the dangerous area.

        • ClayJames

          This would only be a problem if God's primary consideration was to make sure people didn't die.

          Given the existence of a Catholic concept of God, It makes perfect sense that we live in a world where natural death is a normal part of life.

          • Logike

            Saving people from natural disasters doesn't have to be a primary consideration in order for that to be the right thing to do. My primary consideration right now is my job. That doesn't mean it is ok to let people die that I could easily save with little or no cost to myself, like doing nothing while walking by a swimming pool witnessing a child start to drown. Or are you saying that it is impossible for God to pursue his primary considerations without also letting people die? If so, then he would be even LESS powerful than human beings.

            And surely happiness is possible without the occurrence of terrible tragedies. To contend that tons of suffering brought about by natural calamities is necessary for a better world is really pushing the limits of reason. "The more suffering the better" is not obviously true. It is more likely false. I am not saying you actually believe this. But if the excuse for God allowing tons of suffering is always "he allows bad thing to happen because there is always some countervailing good that comes of it," then it follows that none of us should prevent bad things from happening, because doing so would interfere with the design of a better world that God has in mind. But this is crazy.

          • ClayJames

            Or are you saying that it is impossible for God to pursue his primary considerations without also letting people die? If so, then he would be even LESS powerful than human beings.

            I am saying you have shown no reason to believe there is an inconsistency between God´s attributes and allowing people to die. It is possible that God´s ultimate plan requires that people die or that it can´t be achieved without people dying. At the most, you are simply asking if God can make a rock so heavy that he can´t lift it and at the least you are saying that you see no reason why an omniscient being would allow people to die. The former is logical impossible and the latter you have no way to justify because of your epistemic limitation.

            But if the excuse for God allowing tons of suffering is always "he allows bad thing to happen because there is always some countervailing good that comes of it," then it follows that none of us should prevent bad things from happening, because doing so would interfere with the design of a better world that God has in mind. But this is crazy.

            This does not follow because we are not omniscient like God. It makes no sense that if an omniscient being sees a reason to allow suffering that therefore limited beings should allow suffering on the same scale. We certainly allow suffering on a much smaller scale (because of our limitations) and I actually did so last week when I allowed my 1 year old to get pricked by a needle. But if his life is in danger, I have the moral responsability to do everything possible to keep him alive.

            Another error here is that you are throwing the burden of proof to me when it is you who are trying to argue that there is an inconsistency between an omniscient and benevolent God and the existence of suffering. I am just saying that you have yet to meet the burden of proof.

          • Logike

            "I am saying you have shown no reason to believe there is an inconsistency between God´s attributes and allowing people to die."

            --But I never contended that there was an "inconsistency" between these two things. I am offering an *evidential* (or probabilistic) argument against the existence of God, not a proof by contradiction. Also, I asked if YOU believed there was an inconsistency or incompatibility between God pursuing his primary considerations, on the one hand, and saving people from death, on the other hand, since you seemed to think God could not, or would not, do both. Am I missing something here?

            " It is possible that God´s ultimate plan requires that people die"

            --It's possible. But in the absence of telling us in what ways you think God's reasons would actually be *morally justified,* for all we know, God's reasons could be just as malicious and immoral as the devil's, in which case God's "reasons" together with his "ultimate plan" would be damnable.

            "This does not follow because we are not omniscient like God."

            --But neither omniscience nor omnipotence is necessary to bring about good from evil. We do it all the time. Sometimes our allowing evil is morally justified, sometimes our allowing evil is not morally justified, and we can provide clear cut cases illustrating the two. Therefore, even though we "can" bring about good from evil, it is not always permissible to allow evil because of this. You, on the other hand, think it is permissible for God to allow evil *at any time* because presumably the good that God would bring about would be *overriding.* But in the absence of a clear cut example about which most reasonable people could agree so that we can unanimously say, "yes, this would be an instance where allowing a child to drown would be ok since the good is sufficiently overriding," there is no reason to think there *is* such a good in the first place, other than by begging the question.

            "It makes no sense that if an omniscient being sees a reason to allow suffering that therefore limited beings should allow suffering on the same scale."

            --What reason?? You need to show that God *would,* in fact, be morally justified allowing certain kinds of evil that we would not be morally justified in allowing. You haven't demonstrated this. You just keep positing it like it were some obvious truth, which it is not.

            Also, everyone would grant that God would have powers that we don't have, but that doesn't mean God is held to a different set of moral standards than us, which is a kind of moral relativism.

            " But if his life is in danger, I have the moral responsability to do everything possible to keep him alive."

            --Yes, and God also has such a responsibility, unless you think that a different set of moral standards applied to God, or that God's goodness cannot be known, in which case you are either a Moral Relativist or an Agnostic/Skeptic about God's alleged "goodness."

          • ClayJames

            --But I never contended that there was an "inconsistency" between these two things. I am offering an *evidential* argument against the existence of God, not a proof by contradiction. Also, I asked if YOU believed there was an inconsistency or incompatibility between God both pursuing his primary considerations and saving people from death since you seemed to think God could not, or would not, do both. Am I missing something here?

            An evidential argument that requires you to make probabilitic statement that you have no epistemic warrant to make. It would help if you put this argument into a syllogism so I could point out exactly where I think the problem is. [I see you did this later on]

            I do not believe there is necessarily an inconsistency between God both persuing his primary considerations and saving people from death but I do think it is possible in certain situations, something that you seem to reject without giving a reason why.

            But independent of telling us in what way you think God WOULD BE morally justified in allowing people to die that he could easily save, your thesis is just smoke. For all we know, God's reason for allowing people to die could be just as malicious and immoral as the devil's, in which case an all-good God would not exist.

            What thesis goes up in smoke? That was a response to you saying God probably does not have a good reason for allowing people to die.

            For the purposes of this conversation just assume I am an atheist, who doesn´t believe that God exists but is just pointing out that your evidential argument from evil is invalid. If at the end of this conversation I have simply refuted your argument without giving one of my own, then I have done my job because that is all I am trying to do.

            1. We should always pursue the better course of action. (common sense premise)
            2. For every possible evil in the world, God will bring about some overriding future good, making the world better than if the evil existed without such a future good. (your premise)
            3. A world where evil exists is better than a world where evil does not exist. (from 2)
            4. Therefore, we should allow evil (from 1, 3)
            The argument is valid.

            First to clarify, I don´t necessarily disagree with premise 2 as long as you are talking about natural evil. I don´t think this would be the case for all evil.

            There are 2 mistakes with your conclusion. You can´t get from ¨it is better that God can bring about good from evil than evil existing without good¨ to therefore we should allow all evil. Actually, for your conclusion to be half way right (Ill get to the other half later), premise 2 would have to say ¨For every possible evil in the world, God will bring about some future overriding good, making the world better than if the evil did not exist in the first place.¨ This is clearly not what I am saying.

            Also it is important to define what you mean by ¨better¨. For example, for God it might be the case that a world with free will, people helping those in need, etc. is better than one without and that maximizing what is ¨better¨ can only be achieved by allowing some evil.

            But more importantly, at the most, your conclusion should be ¨Therefore, God can allow evil¨. If you are talking about non man-made natural humans are very limited to not allow these. If you are talking about all evil, then clearly this doesn´t follow from the premises.

            Exactly, which is precisely why there is something wrong with your thesis, premise 2.

            Once again, this is not my thesis. I am just saying that your argument refuting God because you can determine the probable intentions of an omniscient being is invalid. If after this we are both left with agnosticism, my work is done.

            Yes, and God also has such a responsibility, unless you think that a different set of moral standards applied to God, or that God's goodness cannot be known, in which case you are either a Moral Relativist or an Agnostic/Skeptic about God's alleged "goodness."

            No, he does not. This is like saying if I prick my baby with a needle on the arm then therefore my baby is morally justified to prick my newborn in the arm. This is clearly not the case. The problem is that you keep judging God by the same non-theistic limited human point of view. Ironically, if the Chrisitian God actually did everything possible to keep humans from dying then it would refute the existence of a Christian God.

            In the grand scheme of things, this life is only a negligible millisecond compared to the totality of our existence which is actually only attainable by dying. This does not mean that we get to play God and start killing people because our creator gave us certain human specific duties such as ¨do not kill¨ or ¨save someone´s life¨.

            Because of my superior knowledge, I am justified in telling my baby ¨do not prick your brother in the arm¨ and then take him to the doctor and prick him in the arm. There is nothing morally inconsistent about this and both actions come from a place of love. The difference between our knowledge and God´s is infinetly greater than that of an adult and a baby.

            Looking at your syllogism again, it seems this is not exactly your evidential argument from evil. Can you put that argument in a syllogism so I can comment? Thanks.

          • Logike

            "If after this we are both left with agnosticism, my work is done."

            --So you admit your intention is to beg the question of agnosticism. How constructive for philosophical debate. Your understanding of the conditions of knowing together with your almost zero grasp of epistemic probability is rather rudimentary anyway since you continue to imply throughout your meanderings that "having an epistemic limitation" is somehow synonymous with "impossible to know" as if the former criticism were some sort of devastating defeat to my argument. Even if I had an epistemic limitation with regard to some proposition P (which is not obvious that I do), it doesn't follow that I don't know that P. For example, take P=the Earth is round. I may not have access to all possible evidence that the Earth is round since I haven't been able to catch a satellite and orbit the Earth high above, but I still have access to some of that evidence, namely, calculations about the Earth's curvature found in geological surveys together with seeing a different set of stars when traveling to the southern latitudes. So I have some epistemic limitations with respect to knowing that the Earth is round, but it doesn't follow that I don't know the Earth is round. Duh.

            You have also wrongly supposed that lacking a reason for believing P entails lacking a reason for believing not-P. This confusion is implicit throughout your skepticism. Notice, I can lack reasons for believing God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering. But that doesn't mean I lack reasons for believing God does not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing suffering. That you still can't see the difference between these makes you a dunce. Example: I don't see an elephant in my room. So I lack reasons for believing that an elephant is in my room. But I still *have* a reason for believing that an elephant is not in my room, namely, if an elephant *were* in my room, it is likely that I would see one. So an elephant is probably not in my room. I've offered this example several times. Your skeptical thesis has ridiculous consequences for ordinary knowledge. If you were right that the absence of evidence is, in principle, never evidence of absence, then we should never believe no elephants are in our rooms. But this is highly implausible. Therefore, your skeptical thesis is probably deeply misguided and wrong.

            "An evidential argument that requires you to make probabilitic statement that you have no epistemic warrant to make."

            --Explain. This accusation so far is groundless. Are you sure you even know what "epistemic warrant" means in a probabilistic context?

            "I am just saying that your argument refuting God because you can determine the probable intentions of an omniscient being is invalid."

            --Wrong. The epistemic judgment I gave about God's existence being improbable is read off from the logical space of possibilities, not from some presupposition about God's intentions. To be even more dry, let's just say that after considering all the logically possible ways--known or unknown--that a bad event could either be overridden by some good, or stay bad, there is 1/3 chance that a bad event is overridden by some good, and there is a 2/3 chance the bad event stays bad. But if God is omnibenevolent, in the very least we should expect that for any known bad event where there is no known countervailing good, the total goodness of that event would outweigh the total badness of that event, known or unknown. But the contrary is the case, namely, the badness of that event outweighs the goodness of that event, known or unknown. Therefore, an omnibenevolent God probably does not exist. See below.

            "I am justified in telling my baby ¨do not prick your brother in the arm¨ and then take him to the doctor and prick him in the arm."
            --Disanalogy. Actually, you are not justified in pricking the baby in the arm if you have no overriding reason for it. But you do have an overriding reason, namely, to give him a vaccine and spare him future sickness. So causing a little pain is justified. However, the disanalogy is found in the fact that the good-making feature in your example is *known,* whereas such a good-making feature in classic problem of evil cases is *not* known (or it simply doesn't work, depending on the answer). Therefore, there is no reason to suppose there is such a feature. You are back to the drawing board since your analogy with the baby doesn't help.

            Tailoring your example to better mirror our own epistemic situation would go like this:

            A father smacks his child across the face causing a large bruise, but the father is silent about his reasons. So no one knows what that reasons are, and know one knows whether they are morally justified, and as far as anyone can tell, the father's action looks particularly cruel.

            Based on the example as illustrated, may we conclude that the father has a good enough reason for smacking his child across the face, and that his violence is ok? Absolutely not, because the only evidence that we have, absent of any known reasons that would justify his action, is a hurt child.

            No reasonable person would excuse the father's abuse without knowing the morally sufficient reason for it. Neither should we conclude God's reason for allowing certain kinds of suffering is particularly "good" or "moral." However, notice, not only is any known morally sufficient reason lacking, but also for every possible unknown bad and good-making feature there is one known bad-making feature. The action is therefore more likely bad than good all thing considered. In short: the odds are against the father's goodness, particularly in his silence.

            Since there is only one known feature, a bad-making one that causes suffering (-1), let's list all logical possibilities known and unknown together with this one bad-making feature and assess the probabilities of his action being good or bad all things considered. Let's even suppose a possible reason is SO good that it deserves +100:

            1. The father has an (unknown) good reason. 100 + -1 = +99
            2. The father's (unknown) reason is neither good nor bad.
            0 + -1 = -1
            3. The father has an (unknown) malicious reason -1 + -1 = -2

            Of the 3 logical possibilities, the chances that the good counterbalances (or overrides) the bad in this event, given features both known AND unknown, is 1 - 2/3, or 1/3. Notice, the large amount of "good" in the first possibility is irrelevant. Therefore, the father is probably just needlessly abusing his child. We are in the same epistemic situation with regard to God since, in the absence of a reason for thinking otherwise, God is either good, malicious, or neutral. And since the bad outweighs the good, an omnibenevolent God probably does not exist. Again, you can see this argument fleshed out in much better detail in section 3.5 of the following Stanford article. I don't do it justice. But the idea is essentially the same. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/#IndLogEviArgEvi

            " do not believe there is necessarily an inconsistency between God both persuing his primary considerations and saving people from death but I do think it is possible in certain situations"

            --Then why did you offer "primary considerations" as a reason for not saving the drowning child? I gave you a counterexample showing that this reason doesn't work: My primary consideration is my job. But if I happen to walk by a swimming pool one day and see a child fighting for his life drowning, yet I choose not to save him even though the cost of doing so is minor, most people would agree that I was a moral bastard.

            "No, he does not. This is like saying if I prick my baby with a needle on the arm then therefore my baby is morally justified to prick my newborn in the arm."

            --Yes, he does. The moral standard is the same for both you and the baby (and God); only your respective contexts are different. It is still true that you are NOT allowed to prick the baby in the same way that the baby pricks you, if you didn't know what a vaccine was. And when the baby grows up, it would be ok for the baby to prick you in the same way that you prick him if he DID know what a vaccine was. The same standard universally applies to everyone. There are not two distinct moral standards here about what is permissible to do. There is one. The only difference is that the condition of *knowing* what a vaccine is, is not satisfied in one of those contexts, making the action therefore impermissible--not just for the baby, but for you and God as well. The rule wouldn't be:

            R: It is ok to stick needles in people arms.

            True for you, but false for the baby. The rule would be,

            R1: It is ok to stick needles into people's arms only if one is trying to help them in some way (ceteris paribus).

            Which is true for everyone.

            Though your example has a nicely formed context that explains why the father is justified pricking the baby's arm, your consideration of the possibility that it is ok for God to allow babies to drown does *not* have a context that would explain why God is justified in doing nothing, so there is no sense in which anyone *could* make out that God would be justified.

            "The problem is that you keep judging God by the same non-theistic limited human point of view"

            --Lol. So what is "God's" point of view? Since not even YOU know what it is, your argument is therefore an argument from ignorance:

            1. We don't know why god allows babies to die of drowning (i.e., "Humans can't know God's point of view.")
            2. Babies dying of drowing is bad.
            3. Therefore, God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing babies to die of drowning.

            3 is not consistent with 1. Logically, it is no different than saying, "Ted Bundy's reason for raping women was moral (3), but I don't know what that reason was (1)." You cannot possibly know his reason is moral without knowing what his reason is.

          • VicqRuiz

            " Therefore, God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing babies to die of drowning."

            Not only is this an argument from ignorance as you say, it is an implicit acceptance of divine command theory and the second horn of the Euthypro dilemma.

            God allowing babies to die of drowning is good because (a) God is the one who allows it, and (b) God is, of course, good.

          • Logike

            Well said. It could very well be Divine Command Theory. I honestly don't know what Clay James thinks God's reason is for allowing babies to drown. He never provided one. He just posits that it is possible there is one, never says what it is, and then accuses me of "not allowing that God's point of view might be different."

            He doesn't actually contend with my arguments. He avoids them by stipulating, not demonstrating, that "your epistemic limitations prevents you from knowing what you think you know about God." His poor analogy about the baby and the needle-prick is a great example of this.

          • BCE

            Most atheists use syllogism.
            However one should begin with what is true.
            The Universe, the laws of physics, gravity, chemistry, biology allows
            suffering.

          • Logike

            "What thesis goes up in smoke?"
            --The thesis that God's reason for allowing babies to drown would be morally sufficient. Again, what reason is that? Do tell! I'm still waiting . . .

            "That was a response to you saying God probably does not have a good reason for allowing people to die."

            --Because there probably isn't such an objective reason. It's analogous to looking around expecting to see an elephant in my room and not actually finding one. The elephant probably isn't there. I don't have to pretend to know the elephant's intentions to be justified in believing it doesn't exist. The fact that I don't see one when I should is enough. Yes, I lack a reason for believing the elephant exists. But I also *have* a reason for believing the elephant does not exist.

            Similarly, I lack a reason for believing God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing suffering. But I also *have* a reason for believing God does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing suffering. You continue to not see the difference often enough through the eyes of your rudimentary epistemology.

          • Logike

            "God it might be the case that a world with free will, people helping those in need, etc. is better than one without and that maximizing what is ¨better¨ can only be achieved by allowing some evil."

            --No. We don't compare worlds with and without free will and charity. We compare worlds with and without horrendous suffering while holding everything else constant. It is still possible to create a world where people's wills are free, where people help one another, while at the same time God prevents bad people from really, really hurting others (like raping and murdering). There is nothing logically inconsistent about this world. Suppose a pedophile uses the internet to prey on 10 year old girls by persuading them to give him their phone number and addresses. And suppose no one else has the ability to stop him because no one else knows about it except God. God could easily make the pedophile's computer crash every time the pedophile tried to talk to girls online, thus preventing the rape of 10 year old girls. God hasn't taken away the pedophile's free will. He has simply reduced his options. And people are still free to help one another in this world. They are just unable to help *those* people for which they are not aware need help. God is required in such a world to stop these kinds of tragedies everyone else is powerless to prevent. So I fail to see how your world where God allows rape to happen would be better than the world where God actually stops rape before it happens.

          • Or god could have just created a world where there are no pedophiles.

            He could easily do that by making a world in which no sperm and egg combination would result on a person who sexually desires children. It violates no one's free will.

          • VicqRuiz

            "The problem is that you keep judging God by the same non-theistic limited human point of view."

            That's almost a foregone conclusion, given that adjectives like "good" and "benevolent", which have a fairly specific connotation when we use them in describing our fellow humans, are repeatedly used to describe God.

            Francis of Assisi, Florence Nightingale, and Albert Schweitzer are three humans whom I think are generally considered "good". Were we to learn that they allowed children who easily could have been rescued to suffer and die (sometimes slowly and in excruciating pain) in natural disasters, it's reasonable to suspect that their historical reputations would be somewhat besmirched.

          • Rob Abney

            Who are you blaming for allowing children who could have easily been rescued to die? If they could have been easily rescued then it is us who should be blamed. Each one of us should be a Francis or a Florence or an Albert or we should have besmirched historical reputations.

          • Logike

            "Who are you blaming for allowing children who could have easily been rescued to die? If they could have been easily rescued then it is us who should be blamed."

            --Of course. But I think you missed the point of this analogy. If you agree that Francis and Florence would be to blame in this scenario since they could have prevented suffering for which they did nothing, and if Vic's analogy holds, then God should also be to blame for those sufferings that *he* could have prevented that no human being could have prevented. Duh.

          • Rob Abney

            I didn't miss the analogy, I rejected it as "passing the buck".

          • Logike

            Huh?

          • BCE

            The article points to the problem of anthropomorphism.
            Both theists and atheists can understand its social and psychological use but don't often acknowledge its theistic premise.
            In debate, atheists will hold your feet to its fire(since Christians define God as a person)
            it's not a debate of atheism vs theism
            but rather using what they think theist believe about man and God(as persons) and turning that against them.
            So if you say God is a divine and good person, then God should act that way
            That is basically the root of their argument.

          • Logike

            "I do not believe there is necessarily an inconsistency between God both persuing his primary considerations and saving people from death but I do think it is possible in certain situations"

            --? So you think it is possible that there is an inconsistency between the two in "some" situations. That doesn't make sense. If something is inconsistent in some situations, it is inconsistent in all situations. Inconsistent = logically impossible. Therefore, your contention is that pursuing both is logically impossible. Anyway, again, this is false, because I gave a simple example showing how pursuing both is possible for humans, and therefore, there is no inconsistency.

          • Logike

            "It is possible that God´s ultimate plan requires that people die or that it can't be achieved without people dying."

            --Wait, I thought your contention was that human beings, given their limitations, could not know what is possible/moral for God. So how you do know it is possible that God's plan requires people to die? You are cherry-picking how far you think our epistemic limitations go.

            "At the most, you are simply asking if God can make a rock so heavy that he can´t lift it"

            --Huh? I don't see the connection. This famous question presupposes that a paradox is true. And I never said anything about paradoxes. You missed the target on this one.

            "and at the least you are saying that you see no reason why an omniscient being would allow people to die."

            --Innocent babies, yes.

            "The former is logical impossible"
            --Not necessarily. Saying such depends on a particular interpretation of the paradox.

            "and the latter you have no way to justify because of your epistemic limitation."

            --You lost me again. True, I don't see any reason for thinking God has a good reason for allowing babies to die. Similarly, I don't see any reason for thinking there is an elephant in my room. But I am warranted in believing that there is probably *not* an elephant in my room, because if there were, I would likely see it. I am also warranted in believing that an all-good God, if he existed, probably does *not* have a good reason for allowing babies to die, because if he did, that reason would likely be known (see my argument elsewhere). Therefore, that I lack a reason for believing P does not mean I lack a reason for believing not-P. Duh!

            Also, even if I had an epistemic limitation with regard to P, it doesn't follow that I don't know P. For example, I may not have access to all possible evidence that the Earth is round since I haven't been able to catch a satellite and orbit the Earth from outside, but I still have access to some of that evidence, namely, calculations about the Earth's curvature found in Geological surveys and seeing a different set of stars in the southern latitudes. So I have some epistemic limitations with respect to knowing that the Earth is round, but it doesn't follow that I don't know the Earth is round! Double Duh. Lol.

            You wrongly think that "having an epistemic limitation" is synonymous with some sort of radical skepticism as in "impossible to know." Not true.

          • TheAtheistMissionary

            Don't hold your breath waiting for Randal to respond to this (excellent) comment.

          • Logike

            "It is possible that God´s ultimate plan requires that people die or that it can´t be achieved without people dying"

            --All this talk about "possible plans" is a red-herring to my argument, which derives conclusions from our epistemic situation in the actual world independent of other possible worlds. The crux of our impasse is that an implicit, but false, assumption about epistemic warrant is driving your responses: you think that I am epistemically required to disprove all possible ways God *could* have a good reason for allowing suffering prior to concluding there is no good reason for his allowing suffering in *this* world. But this is wrongheaded for the following simple illustration of a case of ordinary knowledge:

            If there were an elephant in my room, it's likely that I would see one. But I don't see an elephant in my room, therefore, there probably is none.

            This is a perfectly legitimate way of knowing that no elephant is in my room. Now it's certainly possible there is an elephant in my room that I do not see. I could be mistaking myself for being awake when I'm actually asleep. Or I could be so high on drugs that I can barely pay attention to my surroundings so that I tend to miss noticing things in my field of perception. This is all possible. But I don't have to disprove these "mere" possibilities as a condition for being epistemically *warranted* in believing the conclusion that no elephant exists in my room. Also, I am not lacking reasons for believing an elephant does not exist. I have reasons. And those reasons are sufficient for believing what I do.

            The same holds for the argument against the existence of God. Though it's possible that we are like the baby being pricked by the father in your example, so that the father has good reasons about which we know nothing which explains our suffering. But that doesn't mean this example of the baby is *actually* our epistemic situation. We have reasons, independent of disproving the possibilities that you present, for believing God does not exist. And it is *those* reasons that you need to address if you want to be an honest interlocutor.

            Problem: your epistemic assumption entails that most things we think we know we don't actually know. It entails that I do not know that an elephant does not exist in my room. But this is absurd. Therefore, if you want me to take seriously your replies, you need to do a lot more work defending your belief.

            Notice, my conclusion has not been "necessarily, God does not exist" or "God does not exist" but "probably, God does not exist." Like I have reiterated several times over, I have been offering a *probabilistic argument* for God, and it is one which it seems you are not ready to understand.

          • What concept is that precisely?

          • ClayJames

            The classical definition of God given in the OP along with the Bible and Catholic tradition that teaches of a God who sent his only son to be tortured and executed for the salvation of mankind that we may receive when we die.

          • Okay. I think that the issue is with the pains people undergo while living, not that they die at all.

        • Mike

          God warns us all the time but we don't listen! that's the recurring story of humanity; God says stop doing this we reply nah forget you we know better.

          • Logike

            Stupid 6 month old babies. You're right, if they just listened better to God's prior warning about impending natural disasters, there would never be any tragedies.

          • Mike

            why you assume a 6 month old baby can heed a warning is beyond me.

          • Logike

            Why you assume that all tragedies due to natural disasters are caused by failing to heed God's warnings is beyond me.

          • Mike

            not all.

          • Logike

            "Not all"

            --So, "most"? Then your answer to the problem of evil doesn't stick, since it only takes one instance of an innocent person dying of a natural disaster having not been warned to call into serious question God's goodness.

            Also, due to instinct, people tend to escape disasters when warned beforehand, so "failing to heed God's prior warning" as an explanation for "most" of those deaths due to natural disasters is truly a bad one.

          • Mike

            natural evils are evils to us but they are not positive evils they are parasitic on goodness.

            but aside from that i don't know if there are too many or too few natural evils. a hurricane is not 'evil' itself neither is an earthquake.

          • Logike

            "a hurricane is not 'evil' itself neither is an earthquake."

            --Agreed.

            "natural evils are evils to us"

            --That's all that matters.

            "they are not positive evils they are parasitic on goodness."

            --Even if true, the problem of "evil" still arises with reference to suffering--and given the lack of sufficient reasons for that suffering--gratuitous suffering. Suffering is still bad. But some suffering is justified if there is some good that excuses it. But if there is no countervailing good that justifies suffering, then it is gratuitous suffering. Whether suffering is also "evil" is a deeper question probably having to do with the malicious intentions of agents. Hurricanes are not evil in themselves. They are not bad in themselves. But they are "bad for" humans when they destroy our lives and property. This much is obvious. And if the devil had control over a hurricane and sent it our way with the intention of destroying humans, THEN we might say the hurricane was "evil."

            The core question as it pertains to God, is not whether God sent the hurricane (making him malicious or punitive), but why God allows such suffering to befall people, or why God does nothing to prevent such tragedies. So the question typically centers around the presence or absence of God's "reasons." Either there is no reason, and God does not exist, or there is a reason, and that reason is either morally justified and the problem vanishes, or the reason is not morally justified, and God does not exist.

            The question could also be centered around the possible unknown good- and bad-making properties of a known bad event (which is my preferred approach). If the bad event is bad all things considered, then God probably does not exist. If the bad event is good all things considered, then the problem vanishes.

            That's how to go about framing the issue...

            "but aside from that i don't know if there are too many or too few natural evils."

            --The problem of evil isn't that the total bad in the world outweighs the total good, although some might frame it that way. The problem is whether there exists any suffering at all that is gratuitous (excessive, unnecessary, pointless) because it lacks a countervailing good.

          • Mike

            yes i agree the existence of sheer grat evil is a problem but to my mind it points back to God. it transgresses something divine a deep sense of cosmic justice. suppose a loving parent decides to torture his baby boy to death for fun; literally for fun to see what might happen to himself as a sort of sick experiment. does that event have any cosmic implications/consequences? we feel sick about it but is that it? i think it offends something out there in the world some cosmic divine rule.

            plus christianity offers a unique emotional solution to the problem: christ crucified. God has been through it, he gets it, he suffers alongside us, he loves us that much.

          • Logike

            "God has been through it, he gets it, he suffers alongside us, he loves us that much."

            --This is nonsense. Suppose female FBI agents are aware of a particular man going around raping little girls and that they have enough evidence to arrest and prosecute him. That's like saying the "most loving" way for female FBI agents to handle the situation would be to allow themselves to be raped by the same man in the future, even though it would be better if they just arrested guy on the spot, thereby preventing the future rape of any girls from happening.

            Psychologically, you Catholics confuse your own empathic feelings with what the right thing to do is. It's self-indulgent. We all feel for people who needlessly suffer, and joining alongside them might make us feel like we were "comrades in arms." But if it is within your power to stop the needless suffering of the rape of little girls, you should stop it. You don't do nothing and just "suffer alongside them." You help them by stopping or preventing their suffering if you can.

            You need to watch Scorcese's latest movie "Silence." It's about Jesuit Missionaries, and it explores this same wrongheaded self-indulgence of Christians who choose their own martyrdom over actually alleviating other people's suffering.

          • Mike

            again the RCC is trying to do that. your issue is why didn't God just create a world w/o sin altogether. my answer is he did but we messed it up. then your retort is ok so what if we did we still don't deserve this so prevent sin/suffering anyway. my answer to that is he sent us Christ and the laws and the RCC to help with that. but that's a cop out to you.

            i get it. why not just create a perfect world w/o possibility of original sin and be done with it. to my mind the only plausible answer to that is: love, dirty scummy difficult up and down love. but i digress.

          • Logike

            "to my mind the only plausible answer to that is: love, dirty scummy difficult up and down love. but i digress."

            --But go back to my FBI example. Doesn't love entail that you should also rescue little girls from being raped if you have the power to do so? Do it in a "dirty" and "scummy" way. It doesn't matter. But you should still help them.

            I don't think you do "get it."

            "why not just create a perfect world w/o possibility of original sin and be done with it."

            --Dude, it's still possible to create a world where people have the capacity to sin, yet God also rescue little girls from being raped before it happens. Think of how current criminal law works in terms of prevention. People have free will. The law allows liberty, but only within certain constraints. People are still able to mess up their lives and self-inflicted suffering still exists as a consequence of people's dumb mistakes. But if the law is working properly, it also does a good job taking rapists off the streets to PREVENT FUTURE RAPES FROM HAPPENING. I would expect God to do even more so, in fact, perfectly so. The presumption is that God is perfectly Just, no? Maybe before the rapists commits his first rape, God could allow the rapist to get hit by a car, permanently paralyzing him so that he can't rape girls at all? Wouldn't it have been better if God allowed Adolf Hitler to get hit by a car killing him at 16 years old so that he couldn't grow up later to massacre 6 million Jews? Think about it. There are countless ways this world could be better than it is if the God you say exists actually existed. It's so obvious some of you theists lack an imagination.

          • Mike

            yes you should rescue that little girl if you have the power and God does have the power but chooses not to. are there any reasonably good reasons for that? that's a question that's preoccupied ppl for ages.

            eleanore stump in her discourse for paul draper re God and the amalekites says that God 'tried' to wipe out the bad ppl etc but that it never worked in the long term that always the same evil came back. she says that God was trying to impress upon the ancient israelites that the law has consequences and that humans should enforce the law and that somethings DON'T work and that we often learn more from what doesn't work than what does. God eventually shows through christ's atonement that it's union of wills that solves the age old riddle or per rene girard it's christ's work on the cross that finally exposes violence for what it is, something that is ultimately bankrupt.

            i think what you're doing is saying if the world were just a bit better then it would make God more likely. but for some there is so much goodness that it makes God certain to exist. i think the fact that there is beauty truth and goodness AT ALL proves there is God. but perhaps my standards are low or my understanding of God is more philosophical.

            anyway imagining the most depraved evils is a supreme test of one's belief in God. the way around it that i found is that i realized that those evils pre suppose God and a standard of goodness that must exist.

          • Logike

            "God 'tried' to wipe out the bad ppl etc but that it never worked in the long term"

            --What do you mean by "not work"? Are you saying God destroyed the bad people but that other bad people kept coming back? Destroying bad people works, it's just that you have to keep destroying those who are bad. If I can prevent one future rape by throwing a rapist in jail, then I should just keep doing the same thing the next time another rapist comes around. I don't instead try to make some "point" by letting girls be raped, when I could have just easily stopped it. I would be a sadistic bastard if I did that kind of thing.

            "she says that God was trying to impress upon the ancient israelites that the law has consequences and that humans should enforce the law"

            --I'm presuming you are talking about situations where humans have the power to stop cases like rape, but choose to do nothing. Again, the problem of evil is not addressing cases like that. We are talking about instances where GOD chooses to do nothing to stop tragedies that humans themselves were powerless to prevent.

            "God eventually shows through christ's atonement that it's union ofwills that solves the age old riddle or per rene girard it's christ's work on the cross that finally exposes violence for what it is, something that is ultimately bankrupt."

            --But exposing violence for what it is doesn't actually stop the violence (obviously).

            "i think what you're doing is saying if the world were just a bit better then it would make God more likely."

            --No, I'm not. The amount of suffering is irrelevant. I'm saying that if gratuitous suffering exists at all, the existence of God would be just as unlikely.

            "but for some there is so much goodness that it makes God certain to exist."

            --Goodness exist. Yes. But it doesn't work just to ignore the gratuitous suffering that exists. That's like saying "Hitler was a good man because he solved the unemployment problem of Germany. Don't mind that he killed 6 million Jews."

            "i think the fact that there is beauty truth and goodness AT ALL proves there is God."

            --Which is invalid. Many philosophers, such as Plato, thinks it only proves the existence of Forms.

            "but perhaps my standards are low or my understanding of God is more philosophical."

            --I would say your standards for God are even lower than what you hold over humans. They aren't high enough.

          • Mike

            well there you have it. i know we could keep going round and round like this.

            ok thought experiment; imagine the WORST possible evil. then ask yourself if it doesn't cry out to heaven for justice?

          • BCE

            Why not argue, you don't believe weather is evil, because there is no God, and there are no evil people, there is a range of behaviors, favorable and unfavorable, depending on circumstance.

            The laws of physics, ie gravity etc. and processes ie chemistry, biology, they are not evil, though they don't always support life.

            Why if the Universe allows entropy, destruction, suffering, death
            do you think the interplay between the Universe and life is
            malicious or neglectful.
            Where did the Universe go wrong?

          • Logike

            "my answer is he did but we messed it up"

            --Even assuming that's true, the problem is that it doesn't suddenly excuse God from preventing cases of rape that he could have otherwise prevented.

          • Mike

            see that i don't agree with. God doesn't have to do anything for us besides not actively thwarting our good efforts which he doesn't. he has given us all that we need to flourish i believe and then some with laws re morality etc and our intellects and some control over our passions which we can develop over time etc. but to say he's obliged to stop the worst evil i disagree with especially considering we have heaven waiting for those of us who strive for it.

          • Logike

            "but to say he's obliged to stop the worst evil i disagree with"

            --So you hold that God is held to a different set of moral standards than us. How is that not a form of moral relativism?

          • Mike

            God IS the moral standard; to speak of God 'acting most perfectly' is all backwards. brian davies points this out that the scholastics ruled out that God had any obligations re goodness. He is the standard himself he is perfect in all respects. see ed feser's posts on this too.

          • Logike

            "God IS the moral standard"

            --I see. So what is moral for us is not necessarily more for God. This is moral relativism. It's like saying that Ted Bundy's rape of women is moral for him, but not moral for most people.

            "to speak of God 'acting most perfectly' is all backwards."

            --Why is it backwards? I thought God was perfect in those ways which were moral, knowledgeable, and powerful.

            "brian davies
            points this out that the scholastics ruled out that God had any
            obligations re goodness. "

            --Look, I know of Brian Davies and Stump, and I'm just objecting to whatever interpretation, correct or incorrect, of their text that you deliver. Just because they said something doesn't mean it's right. And just because you say that they say something, that doesn't mean they actually said it.

            If you want to familiarize yourself with good arguments against all of above, both against Davies AND Stump, you need to check out Michael Tooley's entry in the Stanfornd Encyclopedia of Philosophy online titled "The Problem of Evil." I personally did my own Masters Thesis under Tooley since I live in Colorado, and no philosopher to my knowledge has yet to refute his probabilistic argument.

          • Mike

            God is morally perfect; why he chooses to not save that poor girl from torture is an issue i don't disagree but it does nothing to disprove his existence or to make it any less likely and it doesn't touch his moral perfection at all.

            bc God is his own standard of moral goodness; there is no other. he is perfect in relation to himself his essence. hence the love in the trinity etc.

            probabilistic args against God attack a protestant straw man not the God of the scholastic s.

            anyway generally the more ppl have suffered the more they are likely to believe in God; the rich white comfortable and bored west is dying bc it doesn'tbelieve in God anymore; so maybe you're wrong maybe suffering is somehow good for us.

          • Logike

            "God is morally perfect"

            --If he is morally perfect, then he should prevent the rape of little girls before it happens.

            "why he chooses to not save that poor girl from torture is an issue i don't disagree but it does nothing to disprove his existence"

            --Yes it does disprove his existence, because a morally perfect being who knew about everything before it happend, if it existed, would not allow such a thing to happen.

            "probabilistic args against God attack a protestant straw"

            --How so?

            "God is his own standard of moral goodness"

            --So it's ok that God allows little girls to be raped?

            "anyway generally the more ppl have suffered the more they are likely to believe in God"

            --That's what psycholgists call the persecution complex and it's not healthy. You're just short of saying "the more suffering the better" which is probably false.

            "The rich white comfortable and bored west is dying bc it
            doesn'tbelieve in God anymore"

            --huh. I actually agree our culture is dying, but I don't think it's because of a lack of a belief in the Christian God. I think it's due to a lack of belief in ANY sort of higher purpose or direction. i believe such "higher" things exist, like Plato would before us. I just don't think our culture's sickness demonstrates that an all-powerful, all good, all knowing God exists.

            "so maybe you're wrong maybe suffering is..somehow good for us"
            --But I never claimed that NO suffering is good for us. I am talking about apparently gratuitous suffering. I can see how the little suffering I am willing to undergo by exercising on behalf of preserving my own heath is good for me, but it doesn't follow that the suffering of a rape victim is good "for her." You have to be sadistic asshole to believe this, Mike. My God. Only narcissists and psychopaths say things like "The suffering of a rape victim is good for her." Come back to REALITY, my friend.

          • Mike

            suffering in general is a good thing we agree but too much is not and God has the power to stop it but doesn't we agree.

            if he stopped all extremely violent rape would we then think that mildly violent rape should also be stopped? if so what about just unwanted sexual touching and if he stopped that too what about unwanted sexual attention. then if he stopped that too would we think that the possibility of unwanted sexual thoughts would be too much?

            what would the end point be? now i am NOT saying that not stopping tiny babies from being chopped into bits is a good end point i am just saying that stopping the worst suffering would automatically push the next worst suffering into that position.

            to my mind given the kind of thing we are those evil things are necessary part of this existence given our bodies etc. suppose you're in a car crash and the engine catches on fire and the fire begins to burn your face and your 6 year old sons face bc you can't get away. should God perform a miracle and prevent the fire from hurting at least? YES. but will he, almost certainly no.

            suppose you survive and you tell ppl that a miracle occurred and the fire didn't burn bc God really performed a miracle. what would that do to ppls' perception of safety while driving at high speeds? maybe if word got out that he would perform a miracle ppl would drive like maniacs? maybe not if the miracle was a rare occurrence as in daniel and the fire story in the OT.

            in the end all i can say is that God must have some good reason for not stopping the worst evils/suffering from happening. and the clue is that generally speaking we agree that some even alot of suffering is generally a good thing for us.

          • Logike

            "what would the end point be?"

            --Uh, because it's the right thing to do?

            "i am just saying that stopping the worst suffering would automatically push the next worst suffering into that position."

            --So we should stop fighting the rape of little girls and just allow it to happen? I really don't think the inevitability of evil is a good argument for doing nothing to stop it when we can.

            "in the end all i can say is that God must have some good reason for not stopping the worst evils/suffering from happening."

            --Your only reason for believing that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing little girls to be raped, even though you don't know what that reason is, is because you already believe in God. But that's just begging the question.

            What so many of you theists forget is that, not only do we lack any reason for believing God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing the rape of little girls, we also have a evidence to believe there is no good reason. For all we know, God is just as malicious as he is good. Take the serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. Let's even suppose he gave to charity a couple times in his life. You can tell me all day long until you are blue in the face that Jeffery Dahmmer had a moral reason for murdering and skull fucking his victims. You could even tell me that Jeffery Dahmer followed an entirely different set of moral standards so that he wasn't exactly obligated in the same way we are obligated to refrain from skull fucking dead people. But still, we have good evidence to believe Jeffrey Dahmer was a total creep. You theists can be deliberately stupid sometimes just to preserve your pet idea. I'm sorry for my ferociousness, but give me a break. Pay attention to the EVIDENCE.

          • Mike

            1. we know God exists.
            2. we know he is 100% good
            3. he MUST have some reason to allow the worst suffering

            also don't forget that we know the human person survives the death of the body so the story doesn't end here for us. but for you you have to beg the question in order to work yourself up into a lather.

          • Logike

            Are you not aware that many of your responses sound psychopathic? In a nut shell, this is how they look:

            "Getting raped was for her own (greater) good."
            "God wanted to make a point about how bad people were behaving by allowing innocent children to drown."
            "What's the point of stopping evil? It's going to happen anyway. God has some other purpose in mind."
            "The more people suffer, the more they are likely to believe in God. [Or, the more suffering the better.]"

            I am having serious trouble finding anything "moral" in these replies. They are more evident of mental sickness.

          • Mike

            mental sickness :)? you cray cray. anyway if you don't feel like engaging my points that's cool.

          • probabilistic args against God attack a protestant straw man not the God of the scholastic s.

            What does Protestantism have to do with it? This is from a memory that may be faulty, so forgive me if I am mistaken, but you have a tendency to use Protestant as a dirty word. What is the "protestant straw man" you speak of?

          • Michael Murray

            Protestants have "stars upon thars"

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPhOZzsi_6Q

          • Mike

            theistic personalism/atheist fundies who sound like luther.

          • Logike

            Aside from babies, your assertion is not plausible since the probability of someone dying of a natural disaster having been warned is much less than the probability of someone dying of a natural disaster having not been warned. In other words, due to our natural survival instincts people tend to escape natural disasters when warned. This should be prima facie obvious.

            Another way of looking at it, is that the probability of at least *one* person dying of a natural disaster having not been warned approaches 1, since the contradictory hypothesis, namely, that *everyone* dying of a natural disaster was warned approaches a probability of 0 since the probabilities of each person dying having not listened to God's warning are independent, so they must by multiplied.

          • Mike

            if they weren't independent they they would be added?

            anyway not sure where you're going with this. God warns all of us to stay safe via our natural faculties; special magic from God not required.

            however he does warn us about mucking around without his guidance but we generally don't give a crap and ignore him which causes problems in the future.

          • Logike

            "God warns all of us to stay safe via our natural faculties; special magic from God not required."

            --Sure. But the question isn't why God allows that kind of suffering humans themselves could easily prevent by using their own faculties. The question is why God allows that kind of suffering over which people are powerless to prevent.

            "however he does warn us about mucking around without his guidance"

            --Sure. Of course some people are idiots, don't listen to wisdom, and are responsible for their own suffering. No reasonable person would deny this. Their own suffering is understandable. There is a reason for it. The question is whether God is justified in allowing that kind of suffering to befall people that is not obviously a result of their own mistakes, like a 10 year old girl getting raped, or somebody getting murdered by some stranger, or a volcano suddenly erupting killing thousands with no prior warning or indication that it was going to happen.

          • Mike

            that's a broader q about the existence of unavoidable evil and the a perfectly good God. is there a morally sufficient reason for God to allow that kind of thing.

            are familiar with eleanore stump? you should check her out if you're interested in these qs.

            for my part i've never seen a problem with suffering even the worst imaginable bc to my mind it inadvertently 'proves'/points to God.

      • maybe natural evils are necessary given the kinds of things we are

        That could be a contingent necessity. It is not a logical necessity.

        if fire didn't hurt it wouldn't provide us heat.

        Nothing that we need has to be capable of hurting us in order to help us.

        • Mike

          this gets back to whether we could be entirely the things we are....in paradise. well apparently we were in paradise and were entirely the things we are except that bc of our free will we chose to go it alone hence the consequences. so it seems to me the cause is on our side. now in this new world is there too much evil or just enough or does only some of it seem totally in congruent with said loving God. to my mind it all seems to fit ie i don't find any of it grotesque etc especially the natural evils however some moral evils are imho so nasty that they do not 'fit' and are really totally out of all proportion. some of the things that the atheist mentions in brothers karamazov are of this variety. so that leaves the problem to my mind of the worst of the worst but i've found what i think is a neat solution to that problem.

          as to the more mundane evils i think that its true that we only grow through adversity and what can the man who has not suffered really know anyway.

          • this gets back to whether we could be entirely the things we are....in paradise.

            It does raise that question. It doesn't tell us whether the answer offered in Genesis is credible. Of course, if we presuppose the truth of Christian dogma, then almost by definition any biblical answer is a credible answer.

            so it seems to me the cause is on our side.

            Blaming the victim is always an option. Unlike some people, I would agree that sometimes it really is the victim's fault, but in this case I'm not so sure.

          • Mike

            i only presuppose the existence of an all powerful all good God. but the biblical story makes sense to me; it seems to fit my experience of reality of life.

            is the thief who stole from you a victim? i think he's the perp. and you're the victim no?

            ps the over arching narrative makes sense to me: we were innocent we rebelled and now God's trying to get us to come to our senses and come home.

          • is the thief who stole from you a victim?

            My comment was not about who the victim is. It was about who is to blame. If I leave something valuable in a place where any thief can easily see it, and easily take it without anybody seeing him, then I am the victim, but I am also to blame for my misfortune. This does not mean that the thief should not be punished if he somehow does get caught. All it means is that my misfortune is as much my fault as it is his.

          • Mike

            God should've made the choice less free or maybe he should have made it clearer to us that disobeying him was really really REALLY not worth it. i suppose but i don't know. aquinas has something to say about the state of our minds/wills at that time which i can't recollect. basically he says we weren't totally innocent so it wasn't unfair on God's part.

            i liked this tweet a while back that said that all of this reality is just God explaining to A and E why they shouldn't eat the apple.

          • now God's trying to get us to come to our senses and come home.

            He's not trying very hard. I'm not hearing anything from him. I'm only hearing from people who tell me about him, and they're not giving me any good reason to believe what they say.

          • Mike

            excellent point. some ppl say God doesn't 'intervene' but every time i manage to get myself to confession i feel like he intervened not only by prompting me to go but by somehow making sure that there is a church down the street and a pastor ready to advise. again depends on what you have in mind, what your define of intervene is.

            somehow to me all of life is 1 giant intervention into the nothingness. when i stop to consider that i am alive and know it and i ponder all the wonderful beauty and order of reality i am struck that it all reverberates with some sort of divinity/transcendence.

            well ultimately the choice is personal you inside you heart of hearts already know what you want. there's no person on earth who hasn't heard the sound of God's voice; most of us hear it as a cry for justice for the good the equitable etc etc; that's all fairly stories w/o God imho.

          • there's no person on earth who hasn't heard the sound of God's voice

            Many believers say so. I know whose voices I have heard.

          • Mike

            that's only bc you insist on being pedantic about it. whenever you thirst for justice for the good to triumph over evil for order to be restored for beauty to win etc you 'hear' the voice of "God" in your heart your conscience. you may think that that's only some evolutionary cue or whatever but that's non sense. come on why in the hell would evolution care 1 bit about child labor or women's suffrage or whatever.

            anyway at least on your view you absolutely have to admit that all those 'voices, yearnings' etc literally originate in atomic particles in neutrons and protons etc which as you know is insane. so either we're all literally insane or God exists and is trying to communicate with us.

          • that's only bc you insist on being pedantic about it.

            Is that so? People who claim that God is talking to them can reach no agreement on what he is saying. You will tell me that God is saying one thing, and another Christian will tell me that God is saying the exact opposite, and neither of you can give me the slightest reason to think you're the one who's gotten the correct message. That is a fact, and it is not pedantry for me to give it due consideration.

          • Mike

            that's bc you're still thinking of God as some superman spaghetti thing with super powers, but i hear you. then again we can't seem to get consensus on many earthly things either. we fight about how to interpret scientific theories about economics sociology about climate change etc about how best to rid the world of poverty or whatever.

            maybe it isn't supposed to be 'easy' maybe the point is not only to mature physically and intellectually but also in some sense spiritually/psychologically. maybe part of the point is to wrestle with hard issues and doubts etc maybe that's literally part of the point. eleanore stump always points out that if it's God's will in us then it isn't a free choice so perhaps in order for it to be a free choice there has to be some of that struggle.

            anyway i hear you though.

          • that's bc you're still thinking of God as some superman spaghetti thing with super powers

            How I think about God is irrelevant. I'm not claiming anything about what he possibly could do. I'm telling you what my personal experience tells me about whether he actually has done one particular thing, and whether I would be justified in taking any man's word for it that he has.

          • Mike

            he's brought you here. and that's not a bad start if you ask me.

          • he's brought you here.

            You say so.

          • Mike

            well it sure as hell wasn't the result of some random atoms bouncing around your head!

          • well it sure as hell wasn't the result of some random atoms bouncing around your head!

            I agree. It wasn't the atoms that are in my head now that brought me into existence.

          • Mike

            no God brought you into existence-you have a unique form a unique soul that is ever lasting and only God could do that. so at least he created you and sustains you right now.

            unless you believe that the random accumulation of dna in your cells is just some accident that by fluke results in a walking talking thinking person?

          • You're trying to argue about evolution. That has nothing to do with whether I should take your word for it when you say God has been talking to me.

          • Mike

            i had a feeling you would say that, almost right after i wrote down my last response ;).

            how about the passion story does that speak to you? apparently according to eleonore stump that's how the atonement of christ is supposed to start working: step 1 is us, stopping resisting his entreaties. and the most fitting way to get that to happen in us was for God to prove to us that he loves beyond all comprehension ie the passion.

            you probably have but have you read mere christianity? in like the first page you realize that christianity is just another way of saying morality.

          • step 1 is us, stopping resisting his entreaties

            I'm not resisting anything. Your dogma says I am, but your dogma is wrong.

          • Mike

            glad to hear you're not, honestly!

            seek and ye shall find i guess, eventually.

            take care.

          • you probably have but have you read mere christianity? in like the first page you realize that christianity is just another way of saying morality.

            Some Christians say so, and others say otherwise, but they all say God is talking to them.

          • Mike

            there are as many opinions as people.

            think 'talking' as a metaphor.

          • and what can the man who has not suffered really know anyway.

            It is only because evil exists that we even need to know the things we can learn only through suffering. You might as well argue that we should be grateful for headaches because otherwise nobody would have invented aspirin.

          • Mike

            you're asking why there should be evil at all, in the first place. my answer is there wasn't.

    • Alec

      How is that a problem? If both good and evil people are hurt indiscriminailty, that shows God's fairness in not picking and choosing people to live and die. God would be awfully inconsistent if he allowed certain people to live, so the most consistent and fair thing to do is let nature take its course regardless of who dies.

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    In addition to the tension between the deliverances of systematic theology and the deliverances of biblical theology that are elaborated in the OP, I would just note that -- systematic theology aside -- there is also intra-Biblical tension on this point: e.g. Luke 13:1-5 should already give us pause about adopting a naive interpretation of Genesis 6:13-17.

  • James Chilton

    The notion that divine punishment is effected through natural weather events or earthquakes, etc., is a gross superstition.

    • Jim (hillclimber)

      I share your distaste for the claims of Jim Bakker and the like, but I don't think it's a simple or easily dismissed matter.

      Any semiotic worldview -- Biblically based or otherwise -- that admits of ontic meaning is at risk of Jim Bakker-style perversions. From one perspective, the trick is to find the proper balance between, on the one hand, foregoing all belief in ontic meaning and, on the other hand, believing in ontic meaning but making very careless inferences about what those meanings are.

      As Pope Francis has put it:

      The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with human certainty and arrogance: ‘God is here.’ We will find only a god that fits our measure.

      I think the alternative is not to dismiss the search for meaning tout court but rather to do the hard work of reflecting carefully on what might plausibly be the meaning of things, the sort of work that Dr. Rauser has exemplified in the brief sketch he provided here.

  • Mike

    God giveth and taketh away; when he causes the death of a person he doesn't commit positive evil but takes away a good that is his to take away.

    Did God send those plagues on Egypt; sure sounds like it. Are there lessons to be learned from collective calamity like hurricanes, damn right. It's contro to say it but lots of good can come out of something like that; ppl forget their petty differences and come together in a renewed sense of solidarity and purpose and commonality.

    Given the tense pol situation in the US these hurricanes may offer the nation an opportunity to step away from the heated rhetoric and wonder anew at how blessed and lucky it is.

    • You wrote, "...lots of good can come out of something like that..."

      Apparently, easy for Christians, Muslims, and other such thinkers, if it wasn't their infant who was thrown 200 yards, slaughtered by an angry god.

      And think of the 3 pre-schoolers left without their 33 year old mother?:-(

      etc.

      • Logike

        Yeah, such justifications wouldn't even hold up in a court of law. I can imagine a mother offering a similar excuse for not saving her infant from drowning "I let my baby drown because I believed there was a higher purpose and a greater good to be fulfilled by allowing the baby to die rather than live." Would not Social Services take her child away for neglect? Though it is *possible* there will come a time when some amount of future goodness will outweigh the present badness, that doesn't mean it is *probable.* And that someone *can* offer a divine forecast like this is certainly not a reason for believing this forecast is true.

        • ClayJames

          ... unless the being offering the forecast is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

          Your last sentence shows the difference between god and that woman.

          • Logike

            I'm pretty sure you are just reiterating what I said. Since we are in the same epistemic position as the woman (and the imagined jury forced to listen to the mother's excuse for letting her baby die), there is no reason, given the (absence of) evidence, to think all the bad now will be outweighed by some future good. True, we are *not* omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent, which is why we have no reason to think God's proposed "plan"--whatever that is, no one knows--justifies his failing to act in the first place.

          • ClayJames

            I'm pretty sure you are just reiterating what I said. Since we are in the same epistemic position as the woman (and the imagined jury forced to listen to the mother's excuse for letting her baby die), there is no reason, given the (absence of) evidence, to think all the bad now will be outweighed by some future good.

            Exactly. The problem is that you are the one claiming that the death and suffering being allowed cannot possibly be outweighed by the good. I am not saying simply by looking at the suffering that it exist for a good reason. You are right, this would be as fallacious as the claim you are trying to make. I am simply saying that it could be allowed for some good and you have yet to show how it cannot.

            True, we are *not* omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent, which is why we have no reason to think God's proposed "plan"--whatever that is, no one knows--justifies his failing to act in the first place

            Right, we cannot make this conclusion by simply looking at the suffering itself but we can get to this conclusion if we have reason to believe God has revealed the reason for allowing suffering in this life.

          • Logike

            "The problem is that you are the one claiming that the death and suffering being allowed cannot possibly be outweighed by the good"

            --No. It's possible that a good can outweigh suffering. It happens whenever we are willing to bear small costs to achieve better outcomes. It happens whenever I am willing to suffer a little bit by exercising to maintain my health, for example. I am saying there is no reason to believe that a future good *would* (not "could") outweigh the suffering in the case of the drowning child since you have failed to specify what that future good would be. You keep saying "X would outweigh the evil and suffering of a drowning child" yet, strangely enough, you are unable to tell us what "X" is, so that the statement isn't even capable of being evaluated.

            You have also made it clear in your remark about "primary considerations" that you think preventing a child from drowning AND achieving certain goods (whatever they are, we don't know) are mutually exclusive for God so that he couldn't or wouldn't achieve the latter without also letting the child die. If this were true, then God is not all powerful and/or not all good.

            "I am not saying simply by looking at the suffering that it exist for a good reason"

            --I didn't say you were saying this.

            "but we can get to this conclusion if we have reason to believe God has revealed the reason for allowing suffering in this life."

            --And what exactly *is* God's reason for allowing suffering in this case? You have not only failed to specify what this reason is, you are also begging the question. That it is possible God exists and has a sufficient reason for allowing suffering doesn't entail that God exists and has a sufficient reason for allowing suffering. Flying dragons are also possible. That doesn't mean I have a reason to believe that they exist. In fact, I have good reason to believe flying dragons do not exist, since if they did exist, it's likely I or someone else would have seen one by now. But we haven't. So they probably don't exist. The same reasoning applies to God's alleged "reasons for allowing suffering," reasons for which no one can provide, and so, suffering, which for all practical purposes appears to be gratuitous in the absence of such reasons.

            I said elsewhere that you don't quite understand epistemic probability: We don't have to disprove the possibility that God *might* have sufficient reasons for allowing suffering in order to conclude such a God probably does not exist. We only have to show that probably there *are* no sufficient reasons given the evidence. In the same way, I don't have to disprove the possibility that an elephant *might* exist in this room in order to conclude that no elephant exists. I only have to show that there probably *is* no elephant in the room given the fact that I don't see one.

            The problem is evidential, not logical. I am actually not confident there is logical problem of evil because Alvin Plantinga has done some good work showing there is not. As for the evidential problem of evil, you can read about it here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

        • Yeah, think of all of these people claiming that disasters bring goodness writing a short article, "A Modest Proposal for Bringing Good"
          Not! 'Swift';-)

      • Mike

        no even if it was yours, same thing applies. if you haven't suffered you know nothing about life.

        life is a tragedy a beautiful bitter sweet tragedy.

  • Anyone looking at this map of where hurricanes occur can clearly see god doesn't use them to punish anyone. Why would god be sending so many hurricanes off the west coast of Mexico where no one lives?

    And why are the people of South America almost untouched by god's punishment? There's plenty of gay sex going on south of the equator.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rlj_uatcG58/Uj4EF9PJV0I/AAAAAAAACRo/J0WS1Z1Gahc/s1600/6elWF.jpg

    • Great picture!

      "Why would god be sending so many hurricanes off the west coast of Mexico where no one lives?"

      The claim of people like Jim Bakker is not that all hurricanes/cyclones (or severe weather events) punish people but only that some do. So the fact that many serve no discernible purpose of punishment is irrelevant.

      The real lesson, I think, is that this picture provides fodder for Ockham's Razor: i.e. the simpler explanation, is not that God uses some hurricanes/cyclones for purposes of punishment but rather that all hurricanes/cyclones are natural phenomena which follow clearly discernible patterns wholly unrelated to human conduct.

      • The point is that since the vast majority of hurricanes have little to no effect on people and that they only occur where natural conditions allow for them, they clearly don't exist for people in any way.

        • Yes, what I said in my final paragraph.

        • Logike

          Though God may have not "sent" the hurricanes people's direction, he still allows hurricanes to kill tons of people. That's the problem as most philosophers see it: God has the power to stop the tragedy from happening, like directing the hurricane away from people, or warning everyone beforehand of an impending disaster so that they have a chance to escape, yet he does nothing of the sort.

          • ClayJames

            First, you have given no reason to believe that god actually does not warn or help people escape the impending disaster.

            It seems your problem is that god clearly does not prevent the loss of all life but I fail to see why we should expect him to.

          • Logike

            Wait, so you think God *has* warned everyone throughout history each time there is an impending disaster? Such a contention seems manifestly false. After all, tons of innocent helpless babies die in natural disasters too. A baby who cannot speak or walk would not be able to heed God's warnings in the first place.

            And yes, I would expect God to prevent the loss of life in the same way that I would expect a mother who was both able and willing to save her child from drowning. Call me old fashioned.

          • ClayJames

            Wait, so you think God *has* warned everyone throughout history each time there is an impending disaster? Such a contention seems manifestly false.

            This is not what I said. I said you have given to reason to believe he hasn´t warned or helped people escape disaster. It is possible he has warned many, it is possible he has warned more who didn´t listed and it is possible he has not warned some. The burden of proof is on you since you are making the claim. For all we know, he has warned many but once agian, like you said, we have no epistemic warrant to make the claims you are making here.

            And yes, I would expect God to prevent the loss of life in the same way that I would expect a mother who was both able and willing to save her child from drowning. Call me old fashioned.

            You refuted this view above when you said that we do not have the epistemic warrant to make claims like this. Not only does God and a mother are on different epistemic footing but they also have different moral duties. A mother has the moral duty to save her child and God actually sent his child to die for the forgiveness of our sins. Clearly they are different.

          • Logike

            It appears you don't understand falsifiability and epistemic probability. I don't need to maintain that God has failed to warn *everyone* killed by a disaster for my argument to work. I only need to maintain that there is at least *one* person God failed to warn who was killed by a disaster (since a single instance of such an all-good god behaving badly is enough). And the probability of God *not* warning at least one person who ended up getting killed is close to 1 because the probability of the contradictory hypothesis being true is very low. The contradictory hypothesis is that God gave *everyone* who was killed a prior warning, which is very unlikely since our survival instinct amply shows that we tend to survive, not die from, disasters when given prior warning. (I can't believe you are actually trying to argue against this. You may want to review what a "counterexample" is. And see Aristotle's square of opposition. An O-proposition is the contradictory of an A-proposition. That means if one is true, the other must be false, or, if one is probable the opposite is improbable. And the two hypotheses above are certainly not "equally probable." )

            "I would expect God to prevent the loss of life in the same way that I would expect a mother who was both able and willing to save her child from drowning.--You refuted this view above when you said that we do not have the epistemic warrant to make claims like this."

            --No. This is a moral claim, not an empirical one. I hold God to the same moral standards as I hold people, namely, standards like, you *should* save someone's life when doing so poses little or no cost to oneself. To say God is not obligated to follow this rule is to say there is a different set of moral standards which hold for God, which is a kind of moral relativism. And I don't think you want to assert that. The relevant difference for our purposes is that you think there is an exception to this rule, that is, if one can provide a sufficiently "weighty" or "overriding" moral reason for disregarding it. I have no problem with exceptions to rules. The problem is that you have failed to tell us what that moral reason could be, for humans or for God, that would justify anyone to break it.

          • Alec

            If God saved people from weather disasters, he then becomes a being who arbitrailty decides who lives and dies. If he saved one person from, say, drowning, then why not everybody who's in the same situation? He would be obligated to save everyone at every point in time, save natural deaths, and then everything becomes completely pointless. It's likely that even the Crucifixion would be rendered meaningless if human suffering and pain was taken away.

            It seems the Christian God acknowlegdes and even embraces human suffering, as those two things are intrinsically linked to Christ's death on the cross. In theory, the Christian God can only empathize with our pain, because he went through it too.

            "I feel your pain."

          • If god exists, god must arbitrarily decide who lives and dies.

          • Alec

            Not really. If God exists, I think he leaves nature as is. If you die, you die. If you live, you live. What would be arbitrary, is if He chose to save some peoplee from dying, but not others. Human free will and random natural occurrences cannot logically be stopped by the Judeo-Christian God.

          • God controls nature, so if you die naturally, god did that. To say that nature is random is to say that god has no control over nature, when he designed it. That's absurd.

          • Alec

            That's a non sequitur. Just because you designed something doesn't mean you control everything within it. Just because God may have created conditions that allow certain things, doesn't mean that if those things happen they're all ordained by God. Randomness and chance are, in my opinion, allowed to exist in the system God created.

          • Nope. If

            (1) God (an omnipotent, omniscience, omni-benevolent being) exists.
            (2) Natural evil exists.
            (3) God is the creator and designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it.

            then...

            (4) Natural disasters, and the evil they cause, are a direct byproduct of the laws that govern our universe.

            God is not some regular designer. He knows everything that comes from his invention. And this prove god designs natural evil into his invention.

          • Alec

            Fine tuning the laws so that certain things may happen, doesn't mean they necessarily happen. If I created a video game where random occurrences were allowed to happen(but, in theory, didn't necessarily have to happen or effect any person), but I had no control over when or where they appeared, would I be responsible for the death of NPC's? I think the point I'm trying to get across is that everyone in the world has an equal chance of dying by random occurrence, so it isn't unfair of God to allow nature to take its course.

          • The laws of physics entail that certain things will necessarily happen on earth, like hurricanes and disease since they give rise to them. No one can say that god didn't design them right into his plan, supposing a god exists.

          • Phil

            The laws of physics entail that certain things will necessarily happen on earth, like hurricanes and disease since they give rise to them. No one can say that god didn't design them right into his plan, supposing a god exists.

            This gets tricky because there is a distinct difference between God directly causing something and God allowing something. Obviously, God allows certain things to be possible because of the material cosmos He holds in existence.

            But a proper Christian understanding realizes that things are not as God intended them to be because of Original Sin.

            So it would be most proper to say that everything exists as it does right now with the exact purpose of bringing us back into relationship with God, the relationship that was broken off with Original Sin.

          • I don't care what "a proper Christian understanding" is, I care about what's coherent given a set of starting points. If god fine tuned this universe this way, there is no free will because physics rules that out, and everything that happens was destined to happen - including all hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and natural disasters. God doesn't allow them, he built them. No original sin nonsense is going to change that.

          • Phil

            A few points:

            (1)

            If god fine tuned this universe this way, there is no free will because physics rules that out, and everything that happens was destined to happen - including all hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and natural disasters.

            You are assuming materialism is true here and trying to use science to prove that (double uh-oh). Science cannot confirm or falsify the metaphysical theory of materialism, since science deals with science and not with metaphysics. To try and do so would be like trying to use a metal detector to find diamonds and then concluding that diamonds don't exist when it doesn't find any. Pretty incoherent.

            So you would need to show through metaphysical arguments that materialism is true first.

            Here is an article I wrote some time ago on the topic of materialism, free will, and truth:
            https://strangenotions.com/irreconcilable-differences-the-divorce-of-materialism-and-truth/

            (2)

            there is no free will because physics rules that out

            This ties into my article above. If you yourself believe this to be true, then you have no reason to believe that your belief that this is true (i.e., that there is no free will) is actually true or only an illusion. Because you have no free will to seek the truth of things.

            If the universe is not deterministic towards truth, then you have no reason to believe anything you believe is actually true or merely appears to be true. If the universe is deterministic towards truth, then you and I must both be correct, even when we disagree, which is incoherent.

            So your belief that there is no free will is self-underming where you saw off the very branch you are sitting on.

            (3)

            No original sin nonsense is going to change that.

            To be clear, God did absolutely create the world with the ability to exist as it does. What Original Sin helps to illuminate is that God created the world in such a way that it would exist so as to most perfectly bring us back to him when we turned away from Him (i.e., Original Sin).

            So when it comes down to it, Original Sin makes the way the world exists make a lot more sense!

          • You are assuming materialism is true here and trying to use science to prove that (double uh-oh).

            Not at all. The laws of physics rule out free will. Full stop. If god created the laws of physics (which of course is not the case), but if he did, he created a universe with no free will since those laws rule that out.

            Science cannot confirm or falsify the metaphysical theory of materialism, since science deals with science and not with metaphysics.

            Science can show there is nothing outside the physical forces at play in everything in the universe, that rules out any kind of soul or such entity. Also some metaphysical views make physical claims, meaning, they cross over into the domain of science.

            Here is an article I wrote some time ago on the topic of materialism, free will, and truth:
            https://strangenotions.com/...

            I'm sorry, I don't have time to read all of it but skimming it I can see it (like all posts on this site) makes a number of mistakes and is ultimately wrong.

            This ties into my article above. If you yourself believe this to be true, then you have no reason to believe that your belief that this is true (i.e., that there is no free will) is actually true or only an illusion. Because you have no free will to seek the truth of things.

            Wrong. It's actually the exact opposite. See here.

            If the universe is deterministic towards truth, then you and I must both be correct, even when we disagree, which is incoherent.

            That's a complete non-sequitor. Your brain can be determined to be false and mine towards truth. The universe isn't one single thing where all brains are moving towards the same thoughts. Come on, this is common sense.

            So your belief that there is no free will is self-underming where you saw off the very branch you are sitting on.

            Actually it's the exact opposite. See link above. This is a common misunderstanding the free will believers have. Free will is actually self refuting and incoherent.

            To be clear, God did absolutely create the world with the ability to exist as it does. What Original Sin helps to illuminate is that God created the world in such a way that it would exist so as to most perfectly bring us back to him when we turned away from Him (i.e., Original Sin).

            Thing is, this is all false. Since eternalism is true, god can't create the world since it's eternal. And since free will is incoherent, even god - if it exists - can't have free will.

            Furthermore, you're basically saying original sin makes sense on a worldview where there is a need for original sin, which is circular.

            So when it comes down to it, Original Sin makes the way the world exists make a lot more sense!

            Except it doesn't. No version of original sin does.

          • Phil

            Not at all. The laws of physics rule out free will. Full stop. If god created the laws of physics (which of course is not the case), but if he did, he created a universe with no free will since those laws rule that out.

            How do you show that the deterministic laws that govern your mind have not destined you to always be wrong while thinking that you are correct?

          • 1+1=2.

            There.

          • Phil

            Is 1+1=2 actually true, or is it illusion to your deterministic mind? A mind that is oriented towards believing as true things that are actually false?

            If you are deterministically destined to believe false things that appear true to you, then one is in trouble with every thing one says/believes.

          • It's actually true, of course.

          • Phil

            But if you are deterministically destined to hold false beliefs that appear true to you, then everything that appears true to you is actually false.

          • Sure. But I have no reason to think my cognitive faculties are doing that.

          • Phil

            Sure. But I have no reason to think my cognitive faculties are doing that.

            How do you know if your cognitive faculties aren't deterministically destined to make you falsely believe that your cognitive faculties aren't doing that?

          • The same way anyone truly knows anything. How do you "know" what you think you know is true?

          • Phil

            The same way anyone truly knows anything. How do you "know" what you think you know is true?

            And that is the point I'm making:

            (A) If the mind is purely material and/or deterministic, then you have no reason to believe that anything you think is actually true.

            (B) If the mind is not purely material and can freely seek the truth (i.e., free will), then we can actually freely reason to truth.

            In short, determinism or materialism undermines your ability to believe that anything you think is actually true and not simply an illusion of truth.

          • And the point I'm making is that your (A) is false, in fact the exact opposite is true, as my link demonstrated, and that means your (B) of course is false.

            In short, it's actually libertarian free will that undermines your ability to believe that anything you think is actually true and not simply an illusion of truth.

          • Phil

            How do you know that you are not deterministically destined for determinism and materialism to appear true to you but actually be false?

          • Phil

            See, so that's the issue. With any belief in materialism or the abolition of a free will, one can never answer the question, "How do you know that you are not deterministically destined for determinism and materialism to appear true to you but actually be false"?

            In point of fact, I have no reason to believe anything you've said is actually true rather than simply being false and appearing true to you.

          • But in point of fact, the opposite is true. Free will is actually what leads to you not being able to trust your beliefs. How does one "know" anything? Free will requires that your beliefs have no cause, lest they'd be determined by something else that isn't you. And you cannot by definition have control over something uncaused, so by definition, on free will, you have no control over your will. It must be a spontaneous fluctuation of random thoughts, that'll have no necessary connection to reality. And there'd be no reason to trust that.

            If determinism is true, things you do or say have a causal effect on people who hear them. However, it's only if free will is true — where your thoughts are uncaused and thus have no connection to anything that happen before them — that it makes no sense to convince anyone of anything.

            Make sure not to confuse determinism with fatalism. On fatalism, things happen regardless of whether they're caused. On determinism, things only happen if they're caused. Trying to convince someone determinism is true will increase the likelihood they will accept it because you might be that causal force that changes their mind, and nobody knows the future with certainty. So it makes perfect sense to try and convince someone of something on determinism, but it makes no sense whatsoever to do so on free will.

          • Phil

            On determinism, things only happen if they're caused.

            Correct, so your belief that determinism and materialism are true comes from outside sources, not from the free will and intellect seeking the truth.

            If that is the case, then you have no way to tell whether something from the outside deterministically destined you for determinism and materialism to appear true to you but actually be false.

            Free will is actually what leads to you not being able to trust your beliefs. How does one "know" anything? Free will requires that your beliefs have no cause, lest they'd be determined by something else that isn't you.

            This is because of a misunderstanding of free will. One's beliefs with a free will are not "uncaused". Their cause is the free will in concert with the intellect itself. The intellect freely seeks the truth; that is its very nature and end.

          • Correct, so your belief that determinism and materialism are true comes from outside sources, not from the free will and intellect seeking the truth.

            But since free will logically requires that your will be uncaused, you cannot by definition have control over anything uncaused, and hence your thoughts are even less trustworthy.

            If that is the case, then you have no way to tell whether something from the outside deterministically destined you for determinism and materialism to appear true to you but actually be false.

            I do. I can compare my belief with my other senses. However on free will your thoughts have no connection to reality since they must be uncaused.

            This is because of a misunderstanding of free will. One's beliefs with a free will are not "uncaused". Their cause is the free will in concert with the intellect itself. The intellect freely seeks the truth; that is its very nature and end.

            That makes no sense. What causes the intellect? It either has a cause or it doesn't, this is a true dichotomy. If it is caused it isn't free, if it in uncaused you have no control over it. This is why free will is logically incoherent.

            I challenge you to outline for me a chronological order of events that happen when you do something "free" and show me what causes what.

          • Phil

            That makes no sense. What causes the intellect? It either has a cause or it doesn't, this is a true dichotomy.

            I'll explain:

            What causes an electron to act like an electron? We wouldn't say that the fact that it "acts like an electron" is uncaused. No, it is simply because it is an electron, it acts like an electron.

            So to with the free will and the intellect. Simply because of what they are--i.e., free will and intellect--they do what they do: the former seeks what we are to do, and the latter seeks the truth.

            They are caused to exist simply by the fact that a rational animal exists, as that is simply what a human being is (and rationality is free will + intellect). So they are caused to exist simply as that which seeks what we are to do (will) and that which is the truth (intellect).

            So, the existence of the intellect and will is caused by the existence of a rational animal (i.e., a human being).

            I do. I can compare my belief with my other senses.

            But you use your reasoning power to reason about things that come into *all* your senses.

            So if you can't trust your reasoning powers, then you can't trust anything you believe.

          • So to with the free will and the intellect. Simply because of what they are--i.e., free will and intellect--they do what they do: the former seeks what we are to do, and the latter seeks the truth.

            That's a complete avoidance of the dilemma. All things are either caused or uncaused. That's it. There's no third option. The will and the intellect either have a cause or they don't. Neither option allows you to have free will. Period.

            They are caused to exist simply by the fact that a rational animal exists, as that is simply what a human being is (and rationality is free will + intellect). So they are caused to exist simply as that which seeks what we are to do (will) and that which is the truth (intellect).

            This is just a word salad - which is what Thomism basically is: a really sophisticated word salad. The will needs a cause. If the intellect causes it, then the intellect needs a cause. If the soul causes the intellect, then the soul needs a cause to cause the intellect. Otherwise you must admit that when a thought arises in consciousness, it has no cause whatsoever, and literally begins to exist without a cause, which of course violates the law of causality, and the "principle of causality" which says only what does not have existence on its own must have a cause.

            So your whole view is incoherent and self-refuting.

            So, the existence of the intellect and will is caused by the existence of a rational animal (i.e., a human being).

            And what causes the rational animal to cause their will and intellect in any given instance?

            But you use your reasoning power to reason about things that come into *all* your senses.

            So if you can't trust your reasoning powers, then you can't trust anything you believe.

            I can trust my reasoning powers. You're assuming, like all free will believers falsely do, that if I'm determined I will always be determined to be false and never be able to tell otherwise. Clearly, this assumes that what I'm determined to believe has no connection to the truth. That's an unjustified assumption on your part. That's actually what would happen on free will since it requires your thoughts be uncaused and something uncaused will have no necessary connection to reality, nor can you have control over anything uncaused by definition.

            Hence free will is incoherent and would be the least reliable way to know truth.

          • Phil

            That's a complete avoidance of the dilemma. All things are either caused or uncaused. That's it. There's no third option. The will and the intellect either have a cause or they don't. Neither option allows you to have free will. Period.

            I tried to explain several times what causes the will and intellect...the existence of a human being.

            The will and intellect are not "uncaused" because nothing is uncaused.

          • But that answers nothing given your view, because human beings are technically made of atoms and all atoms follow the laws of physics. The brain is made of atoms, and so then, what you'd in effect be saying is that the fundamental physical laws governing all the atoms that make up a human are what causes the will and intellect. Welcome to materialism!

          • Phil

            You are assuming that materialism is true. And we know what happens when we assume. You need to prove that materialism is true first.

            The will and intellect are not purely material, they have immaterial components.

          • No, you're assuming materialism is true. You made no argument that the will and intellect are caused by immaterial things. If a thought begins to exist, does it not need a cause? Saying the human causes it only pushes the issue back one step: what caused the human to cause the thought? Do you see your problem?

          • Phil

            If a thought begins to exist, does it not need a cause?

            The problem with assuming that the human mind is purely material is that the human mind then *is* reduced to atoms. Which means that the atoms are what bring about our thoughts. What causes atoms to act as they do, the "laws" that guide them. Therefore our thoughts are subject to laws. Do there laws always lead to true beliefs? Do they always lead to false beliefs? Do they lead to both true and false beliefs? If so, how do we tell the difference between a true and false belief?

            Saying the human causes it only pushes the issue back one step: what caused the human to cause the thought? Do you see your problem?

            Yes, this is one of the proofs for an immaterial intellect and will. We can think about our thinking, which can think about our thinking, which can think about our thinking about thinking...etc onto infinity.

            Our self-consciousness can infinitely "double-back" upon itself. It thought was purely material this would not be possible.

          • The problem with assuming that the human mind is purely material is that the human mind then *is* reduced to atoms. Which means that the atoms are what bring about our thoughts. What causes atoms to act as they do, the "laws" that guide them.

            Asking whether a thought needs a cause is not assuming materialism. It's only acknowledging that things can only either be caused or uncaused. Everything exists in that category. And for the sake of argument I could even assume your understanding of causality and still make this point.

            Therefore our thoughts are subject to laws. Do there laws always lead to true beliefs? Do they always lead to false beliefs? Do they lead to both true and false beliefs? If so, how do we tell the difference between a true and false belief?

            They of course lead to both true and false beliefs and you tell the different by testing the belief against evidence.

            But you still haven't answered the question: If a thought begins to exist, does it not need a cause?

            Yes, this is one of the proofs for an immaterial intellect and will. We can think about our thinking, which can think about our thinking, which can think about our thinking about thinking...etc onto infinity.

            There is no proof there for an immaterial intellect and will.

            Our self-consciousness can infinitely "double-back" upon itself. It thought was purely material this would not be possible.

            The mind is not capable of conceiving an actual infinity of things, so no, you're wrong.

            Still waiting for the answer to the question: If a thought begins to exist, does it not need a cause?

          • Phil

            If a thought begins to exist, does it not need a cause?

            I've stated multiple times, the human will and intellect are not uncaused, just like an electron is not uncaused.

            Just like an electron acts like an electron because it is an electron. The human will and intellect acts like a will and intellect because it is a will and intellect.

          • An electron acts like an election because it behaves according to an electromagnetic field; it is physically caused by something. So your analogy fails.

            The human will and intellect need a cause for every instance of will or thought. You seem to acknowledge this. But then you say the will acts like a will because it is a will. That does not explain what causes it.

            Fire acts like fire because it is fire. That would not explain what caused a forest fire. Do you see how paltry your attempt at an explanation is? It's circular reasoning at best.

          • Phil

            An electron acts like an election because it behaves according to an electromagnetic field; it is physically caused by something.

            (To clarify, it is the electron field that electrons rise out of. It is photons that arise out of the electromagnetic field.)

            I proposed the electron example assuming this would be the answer, to which we follow up and ask:

            What causes an electron field to act like an electron field?

          • It's irrelevant to the topic. At some point something will be fundamental or there will be an infinite regress. Those are your only two options. Now when it comes to the will, the same thing applies. Whatever is fundamental will have no cause, and if the will itself is fundamental it has no cause and you cannot by definition have control over it. If it has an infinite regress of causes that chain extends far beyond you, and so you are caused and determined. Neither option gets you free will. You're still in denial about your problems.

          • Phil

            If it has an infinite regress of causes that chain extends far beyond you, and so you are caused and determined. Neither option gets you free will. You're still in denial about your problems.

            That is because you and I disagree about the nature of the mind. That is ultimately what it comes down to.

            If I am correct about the nature of the mind (that it is not able to be purely reduced to matter), then everything is perfectly reasonable. If you are correct that the mind is purely composed of matter, then I am wrong.

          • Not at all. My view that free will is incoherent is not reliant at all on materialism. I can grant you that we have a non-physical soul and the same exact argument can be made. That's because this is an a priori argument, not an aposteriori one. That's why I love it so much.

            So bring up materialism is completely irrelevant.

          • Phil

            My view that free will is incoherent is not reliant at all on materialism.

            So you would say that even if ultimately the mind and will is immaterial in its existence, free will is still incoherent?

            If so, can you explain why?

          • I've already explained that to you a half dozen times.

            All things are either caused or uncaused. That's it. There's no third option. The will and the intellect either have a cause or they don't. Neither option allows you to have free will. Period.

            You mentioned materialism. I didn't. It's irrelevant to debate free will.

          • Phil

            All things are either caused or uncaused. That's it. There's no third option. The will and the intellect either have a cause or they don't. Neither option allows you to have free will. Period.

            Yes, free will is caused. We as a person are the cause of our free choices. That is what it means to have free will. And if the will and intellect is immaterial (part of the "soul" of the person), then this is perfectly reasonable.

          • What causes the person to cause the choice? You just pushed the step back once. No matter what you will hit a dilemma. There will be an uncaused first cause - which you can't have control over, or an infinite regress of cause, which means you're determined. Stop pretending like you do not see this dilemma.

          • Phil

            What causes the person to cause the choice?

            The person itself has the power of free will. The power of free will is the cause of free choices.

            That is the cause of the power of free will? The nature of human being. What is the cause of the nature of human being? The rational soul. What is the cause of the rational soul? God.

            It is a self-contained power just like any other. And can be shown forth by the power of the mind to "double back" on itself. To be aware that it is aware, that it is aware, etc., on infinitely without end.

          • Sorry that answers nothing. In any specific instance of free will, what causes it? What's the chronological order of events that happens?

          • Phil

            In any specific instance of free will, what causes it? What's the chronological order of events that happens?

            Can you throw out a specific example you want me to describe? I want to make sure it is to your liking.

          • A person "freely" decides to steal something and then does it. Show me a full chronological order of all relevant events and detail what causes what.

          • Phil

            A person "freely" decides to steal something and then does it.

            Sure. The person uses their power of reason and will to decide to steal food when one sees what s/he believes to be food.

            It really is that simple. That is what a self-contained power is. You can be the cause of your actions through your reasoning powers.

          • 1) What causes the person to use their power?

            2) And what "power" is that? Is it a physical force in physics? Is it a supernatural force? If the latter how does it influence physical atoms in a way that cannot be detected?

          • Phil

            1) What causes the person to use their power?

            They do, that is what the power of free will is. It is one's own use of the power of free will. If they didn't cause it, it wouldn't be free will.

            2) And what "power" is that? Is it a physical force in physics? Is it a supernatural force? If the latter how does it influence physical atoms in a way that cannot be detected?

            As I mentioned above the body, soul, intellect, and free will form a single substance, so the interaction problem doesn't make much sense since it is only a single substance we are ultimately dealing with.

            It does influence atoms (i.e., the material body we can see) in a way that we can see. The fact that a human person is alive and reasoning shows forth immaterial intellect and free will.

          • They do, that is what the power of free will is. It is one's own use of the power of free will. If they didn't cause it, it wouldn't be free will.

            But the Aristotelian principle, a foundation of Thomism says that "Whatever is changed is changed by another" and it negates the metaphysical possibility of a first cause that isn't god, which of course negates libertarian free will itself.

            So saying "they do" answers nothing. It's like saying the universe causes itself.

            As I mentioned above the body, soul, intellect, and free will form a single substance, so the interaction problem doesn't make much sense since it is only a single substance we are ultimately dealing with.

            It does influence atoms (i.e., the material body we can see) in a way that we can see. The fact that a human person is alive and reasoning shows forth immaterial intellect and free will.

            That makes no sense because only material causes are in effect in a human being. There is nothing outside of the standard model and gravity that has any effect on a human being, and the existence of a new force would violate all of physics. So to say that there's a single substance is the say there's only a material one. Nothing about being alive or reasoning requires anything other than physics. The burden of proof is one you to show otherwise.

          • Phil

            But the Aristotelian principle, a foundation of Thomism says that "Whatever is changed is changed by another"

            Correct, the cause of the power of free will comes from outside the human person (i.e., God's sustaining it in existence). But the power to freely choose is perfectly self-contained in each individual human being.

            That makes no sense because only material causes are in effect in a human being. There is nothing outside of the standard model and gravity that has any effect on a human being, and the existence of a new force would violate all of physics. So to say that there's a single substance is the say there's only a material one. Nothing about being alive or reasoning requires anything other than physics. The burden of proof is one you to show otherwise.

            Again, you are assuming the truth of materialism here rather than proving it. Science can't prove or disprove materialism, materialism is a metaphysical theory that must be proved or disproved using metaphysical proofs/argumentation.

            (Remember my analogy of trying to find diamonds with a metal detector, and not finding any and concluding that diamonds don't exist?)

          • Correct, the cause of the power of free will comes from outside the human person (i.e., God's sustaining it in existence). But the power to freely choose is perfectly self-contained in each individual human being.

            That makes no sense. The power exists in god, not the person. All events have a chain of causality and according to you, they all terminate in god. So no free will.

            Again, you are assuming the truth of materialism here rather than proving it. Science can't prove or disprove materialism, materialism is a metaphysical theory that must be proved or disproved using metaphysical proofs/argumentation.

            That's not true. If everything about you can be accounted for by physical means, then that can show materialism to be true. If science can rule out all forces or causes outside of the physical ones we know of, then that can show materialism to be true. We have that evidence now. Anything outside of the physical forces would violate physics, and your metaphysics requires that. So we've effectively shown your metaphysics to be false. (Mind you, metaphysical views can cross over into physics and when they do they can become falsifiable.)

          • Phil

            I could throw a whole bunch of writing on the topic of the incoherency of a materialist metaphysics but he is one writer:

            "The impossibility of materialism

            Now, the reason why intellectual activity cannot in principle be reduced to sensation or imagination is, as it happens, related to the reason why intellectual activity cannot in principle be reduced to, or entirely supervenient upon, or in any other way explicable in terms of material processes of any sort. For like mental images, the symbols postulated by cognitive scientists (“sentences in the head,” “maps,” or what have you), and any other possible purported material embodiments of thought, (a) necessarily lack the universality that concepts have, (b) necessarily lack the determinacy that concepts have, and (c) generally have exactly the loose and non-essential connection to the concepts they purportedly embody that the word “law” has to the concept law or a mental image of Alonzo Church has to the concept logical consistency.

            There is no way the materialist is ever going to square this circle. To “explain” intellectual activity entirely in terms of material processes is inevitably at least implicitly to deny the existence of the former, or of some essential aspect of the former. For instance, if you identify thought with material processes, you are necessarily committed to denying, implicitly or explicitly, that our thoughts ever really have any determinate content. A number of materialists have seen this -- Quine, Dennett, and Bernard Williams are three examples -- and have decided to bite the bullet and accept that the content of all thought and language is inherently indeterminate. (This is, for instance, the upshot of Quine’s famous “indeterminacy of translation” and “inscrutability of reference” theses and of Dennett’s “two-bitser” example.)

            But such claims are indefensible, for reasons James Ross has trenchantly spelled out. First, if you deny the determinacy of thought, there is no way you will be able to make sense of the vast body of knowledge embodied in mathematics and logic, all of which presupposes that we have determinate concepts. And there will in that case be no way you will be able to make sense of empirical science, which presupposes mathematics and logic, and in the name of which these materialists endorse their indeterminacy theses. Second, if you deny the determinacy of thought, then you are committed to denying that we ever determinately think in accordance with valid forms of inference -- modus ponens, modus tollens, etc. -- or that we ever really add, subtract, multiply, etc. You have to hold that we only seem to do so. But that entails that we never in fact reason logically or in mathematically sound ways. This not only (once again) makes science unintelligible, but it also undermines absolutely every argument anyone has ever given, including every argument for materialism. Third, even to deny that our thoughts ever have a determinate content -- for example, to deny that we ever determinately employ addition as opposed to Saul Kripke’s notion of “quaddition” -- you first have to grasp what addition is and then go on to deny that we ever do it. But that means that you must have a thought with a certain determinate content even to deny that you ever have thoughts with that specific content.

            So, anyone who thinks that thought can even in principle be entirely material hasn’t thought carefully enough about the nature of thought. The materialist refutes materialism every time he so much as tries to argue for it.

          • For like mental images, the symbols postulated by cognitive scientists (“sentences in the head,” “maps,” or what have you), and any other possible purported material embodiments of thought, (a) necessarily lack the universality that concepts have, (b) necessarily lack the determinacy that concepts have, and (c) generally have exactly the loose and non-essential connection to the concepts they purportedly embody that the word “law” has to the concept law or a mental image of Alonzo Church has to the concept logical consistency.

            There is no way the materialist is ever going to square this circle.

            (a) is irrelevant, (b) is irrelevant, and (c) is irrelevant. Words, symbols, or pictures that represent or correspond to concepts need not have any of those things for the concept to be represented materially in the brain. We know that once you change the brain, you change the way one can think about certain things. If you damage the Intraparietal sulcus region of the brain, people cannot do math as well, or not at all. We also have had the ability to read brain states to know at a rudimentary level what people are thinking, and can even predict some basic decisions before they're aware of them up to 80% accuracy.

            And the utter failure of dualistic interactionism (of which Thomism is a variety) demonstrates this. Not only would it require violations of the laws of physics like the conservation of energy which we know doesn't happen, in order for the physical brain to inform the soul, non-physical mind, or intellect, it has to encode that information in a physical state that represents the concept. Thus, by proposing any kind of dualistic interactionism (which you are) you're failing to see that it requires the brain do the very thing you claim it can't.

            Not only that you have the well known interaction problem which can't be solved. To quote from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "To suppose that non-physical minds can move bodies is like supposing that imaginary locomotives can pull real boxcars."

          • Phil

            When you think about the concept "triangle" are you thinking about all triangles?

            A physical perfect triangle cannot exist in material form, how do we have the concept of a perfect triangle and how can we think about it if it can't even exist in material form?

            And the utter failure of dualistic interactionism (of which Thomism is a variety) demonstrates this.

            Thomism is hylomorphism, not dualism.

          • When you think about the concept "triangle" are you thinking about all triangles?

            A physical perfect triangle cannot exist in material form, how do we have the concept of a perfect triangle and how can we think about it if it can't even exist in material form?

            Forms like triangles are just perfected abstractions from particulars. They are something we make up since they don't really exist.

            Thomism is hylomorphism, not dualism.

            It still involves a non-physical "intellect" having causal power on a physical body. That's why I said Thomism is a variety.

          • Phil

            Forms like triangles are just perfected abstractions from particulars. They are something we make up since they don't really exist.

            And these abstractions (like a perfect triangle) you are speaking of are material or immaterial?

            It still involves a non-physical "intellect" having causal power on a physical body. That's why I said Thomism is a variety.

            It wouldn't quite be right to say "causal power on a physical body". The soul and body form a single unified substance, so it isn't like a ghost in a machine. That is why hylomorphism doesn't have the interaction issues that a dualistic view has.

          • And these abstractions (like a perfect triangle) you are speaking of are material or immaterial?

            They only exist as a brain state as are all thoughts, and they obviously do not exist in reality.

            It wouldn't quite be right to say "causal power on a physical body". The soul and body form a single unified substance, so it isn't like a ghost in a machine. That is why hylomorphism doesn't have the interaction issues that a dualistic view has.

            It does, because the intellect makes the body do things and the intellect isn't physical. As Edward Feser himself writes in his book The Last Superstition: "When the intellect determines that a certain course of action is the best one to take and the will follows it, the body proceeds to move in a way that constitutes the action. The operation of the intellect and will constitute in this case is the formal-cum-final cause of the action, of which the firing of the neurons, flexing of the muscles, etc. are the material cause." (127)

            This is intellect → will → brain/neurons → muscles. This chronology is testable, and, as you have it, it turns out to be false.

          • Phil

            They only exist as a brain state as are all thoughts, and they obviously do not exist in reality.

            Are brain states material or immaterial?

          • Material of course.

          • Phil

            Material of course.

            Gotcha, so to recap:

            Above you said that the triangle exists as a brain state in the mind. You then stated that the brain state in the mind is material.

            Therefore the triangle exists as a material brain state in the mind. This means this perfect triangle in the mind must be material (because brain states are material). But above you agreed that a perfect triangle cannot exist in a physical reality because it is an abstract geometrical object.

            How do you rectify this apparent contradiction?

          • Sure, very easy. The concept of a triangle exists in the brain as a physical state, and it doesn't require an actual perfect triangle of atoms to do so. Thinking of shapes doesn't come from physical shapes in the brain.

          • Phil

            Sure, very easy. The concept of a triangle exists in the brain as a physical state, and it doesn't require an actual perfect triangle of atoms to do so.

            Are you saying that the physical state of the brain represents something beyond it (namely the perfect geometrical triangle in our example)? Is that what you are saying here?

            If so, is this representation physical or non-physical since the brain state is obviously not physically equal to a physical triangle?

          • The physical brain state produces the concept of a triangle, and that brain states does not need to have a physically perfect triangle in it. Why you would think so makes no sense to me.

          • Phil

            The physical brain state produces the concept of a triangle

            And the concept of the perfect geometrical triangle that the brain state produces is physical or non-physical?

          • Concepts have no ontological existence apart from physical matter that can produce them. They are ideas, and all ideas are created physically in a brain or some other physical system.

          • Phil

            This:

            Concepts have no ontological existence apart from physical matter that can produce them.

            seems to contradict this that you said above:

            The physical brain state produces the concept of a triangle.

            If the brain state produces something, what is it producing and to produce something implies it is something different from the brain state producing it? But then in the first quote you say it doesn't produce anything apart from the physical matter?

          • There's no contradiction there. The concept of a triangle is a physical brain state which we consciously experience as knowledge of a triangle. The brain state produces the conscious experience, and the conscious experience is what it's like to be a particular brain state.

          • Phil

            The concept of a triangle is a physical brain state which we consciously experience as knowledge of a triangle.

            Correct me if I'm misunderstanding you:

            A perfect geometrical triangle (or any mathematical/geometrical truth) is simply a physical brain state, as you said above?

          • Perfect shapes don't actually exist. The idea of one exists in our mind as a physical brain state.

          • Phil

            Perfect shapes don't actually exist. The idea of one exists in our mind as a physical brain state.

            But the idea of a perfect triangle does exist, correct? If so, where does the idea of a perfect triangle come from?

          • We created them from abstracting perfections of particulars. The only thing involved is sensory data and different brain states.

          • Phil

            We created them from abstracting perfections of particulars.

            Okay, and so these "abstracted perfections" exist somehow in the particulars? But the particulars are physical and are imperfect, so how do we get the perfect abstractions from the imperfect particular? (The A-T argument would be the the form of "triangle" actually exists in the particulars, and that is how we get it from the physical particular triangle.)

            And then these "abstracted perfections" exist in the mind as what you called "ideas". And so this abstracted perfection=ideas=physical brain states; Correct?

          • The idea of perfections just exist in our brain as a brain state. It's no different from us looking at a jagged line and then thinking, what if it were perfectly straight? It doesn't mean a perfectly straight line exists anywhere, it's just our imagination - due to brain states. Much like Godzilla and Mothra.

            And then these "abstracted perfections" exist in the mind as what you called "ideas". And so this abstracted perfection=ideas=physical brain states; Correct?

            All ideas we have are physical brain states without exception.

          • Phil

            All ideas we have are physical brain states without exception.

            Gotcha, so the idea of a triangle is simply a physical brain state.

            What then is the connection between the physical brain state of the idea of a triangle and a real triangle (i.e., a physical triangle)? How does a physical brain state connect to a physical triangle? Is there any connection at all between the two?

            In other words, I see no connection between a physical brain state and a physical triangle. Since all that exists is the physical.

          • What then is the connection between the physical brain state of the idea of a triangle and a real triangle (i.e., a physical triangle)? How does a physical brain state connect to a physical triangle? Is there any connection at all between the two?

            In other words, I see no connection between a physical brain state and a physical triangle. Since all that exists is the physical.

            This is just a failure of your critical thinking skills. The answer is obvious. The brain state is informed by sensory data from the eyes when it seems something triangular. That sensory data is of course physical. And that brain state then has knowledge of the idea of a triangle. This is how we come to know most things.

          • Phil

            Another follow-up question is, is the idea of a triangle then different from a real triangle? How do they have any real connection?

            In other words, if, as you say, a perfect geometrical triangle is simply a physical brain state, how does physical brain state=physical idea of perfect triangle?

            But how could that even be possible as we both agreed that a perfect triangle can't be physical. It seems clear that a physical brain state can't in any way have anything in common with a perfect triangle.

          • In other words, if, as you say, a perfect geometrical triangle is simply a physical brain state, how does physical brain state=physical perfect triangle?

            I've already answered that days ago, and so it seems you're not retaining information and/or not listening. Or you don't want to listen.

            Your question makes the false assumption that for us to think about something, the object (or object's shape) has to physically be in our brain. That's nonsense. When you think of sunglasses, the physical shape of sunglasses do not appear in your brain. This is akin to a child's understanding of how the brain works. It's like thinking there are little people inside your TV as a way to explain how TVs work.

            Also I never said "a perfect geometrical triangle is simply a physical brain state". I said the thought of a perfect geometrical triangle is produce by a physical brain state.

            But how could that even be possible as we both agreed that a perfect triangle can't be physical. It seems clear that a physical brain state can't in any way have anything in common with a perfect triangle.

            You start with a ridiculous and false assumption on what you think is the case and then draw an apparent absurdity from it. It's the old case of GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Religious thinking like Thomism hinders your ability to actually think rationally about things. That's why it's so poisonous.

          • Phil

            Also I never said "a perfect geometrical triangle is simply a physical brain state". I said the thought of a perfect geometrical triangle is produce by a physical brain state.

            Yes, and you said that the thought is not something above and beyond the physical brain state. In other words the thought equals the physical brain state, correct? Or is the thought some other physical entity that the brain produces? (Since the thought can't be immaterial because you are working from a materialist metaphysics.)

            Your question makes the false assumption that for us to think about something, the object (or object's shape) has to physically be in our brain. That's nonsense

            I agree 100%, which is why I then ask what does a physical brain state of a perfect geometrical triangle have to do with a real triangle? Anything at all?

            In A-T metaphysics the mind is connected to the real triangle by the immaterial abstracted concept/form of "triangle" that the mind can contemplate and exists in real particular triangles to varying degrees.

            But on your materialistic metaphysics, immaterial abstracted concepts/forms are not allowed.

          • Yes, and you said that the thought is not something above and beyond the physical brain state. In other words the thought equals the physical brain state, correct? Or is the thought some other physical entity that the brain produces? (Since the thought can't be immaterial because you are working from a materialist metaphysics.)

            Yes the thought equals the brain state, although I'm open to the possibility that thoughts are an epiphenomenal non-physical property on physical brains.

            I agree 100%, which is why I then ask what does a physical brain state of a perfect geometrical triangle have to do with a real triangle? Anything at all?

            I already answered that.

            In A-T metaphysics the mind is connected to the real triangle by the immaterial abstracted concept/form of "triangle" that the mind can contemplate and exists in real particular triangles to varying degrees.

            But on your materialistic metaphysics, immaterial abstracted concepts/forms are not allowed.

            But what really happens is you see natural, imperfect triangles via your sense data, which creates a brain state, which then allows you to think of triangularity, and further physical brain states which result in thinking, then think of perfect triangles. All of this is a physical process, and no need for forms is required or needed.

          • Phil

            But what really happens is you see natural, imperfect triangles via your sense data, which creates a brain state, which then allows you to think of triangularity

            Is triangularity in the sense data? And would you say that "triangularity" exists somehow in the external physical imperfect triangle? If not, how do we get triangularity from it, if it doesn't exist out there in the physical triangle somehow?

            If triangularity doesn't exist outside our mind somehow, it would destroy any real connection between the mind to that outside physical triangle.

          • Is triangularity in the sense data? And would you say that "triangularity" exists somehow in the external physical imperfect triangle? If not, how do we get triangularity from it, if it doesn't exist out there in the physical triangle somehow?

            Triangularity is threesidedness. You learn about it via sense data. But threesidedness is not a thing that exists in anyway independent of us. It's just a description we give to things. It's akin to saying things that have three sides.

            If triangularity doesn't exist outside our mind somehow, it would destroy any real connection between the mind to that outside physical triangle.

            The idea of threesidedness comes from our sense data of things with three sides. There's no "form" of any kind that exists in things or apart from things.

          • Phil

            Triangularity is threesidedness. You learn about it via sense data. But threesidedness is not a thing that exists in anyway independent of us. It's just a description we give to things. It's akin to saying things that have three sides.

            Gotcha, so "threesidedness" doesn't exist in anyway outside our mind? How does our description in our mind have any connection to the outside thing we are trying to describe unless "threesidedness" exists in the external object in some way?

            And if "threesidedness" doesn't exist in any way in the sense data, how are we labeling it as "threesidedness" if the sense data really doesn't show forth "threesidedness"? It seems like the mind is just arbitrarily making things up here (which would ultimately lead to the destruction of truth and knowledge).

            The idea of threesidedness comes from our sense data of things with three sides. There's no "form" of any kind that exists in things or apart from things.

            Does something that has three sides have "threesidedness"?
            For example, does the triangle drawn on the page in front of my have threesidedness existing in it?

          • Gotcha, so "threesidedness" doesn't exist in anyway outside our mind?

            No, because a mind is required to think of such things. Threesided things exist apart from our minds, not threesidedness.

            How does our description in our mind have any connection to the outside thing we are trying to describe unless "threesidedness" exists in the external object in some way?

            We see things that are three sided. That causes a brain state of the idea of threesidedness. Not that complicated. No impossible interaction problem like with what you have to deal with.

            And if "threesidedness" doesn't exist in any way in the sense data, how are we labeling it as "threesidedness" if the sense data really doesn't show forth "threesidedness"? It seems like the mind is just arbitrarily making things up here (which would ultimately lead to the destruction of truth and knowledge).

            Not at all. Threesided things exist in the world. We both agree on that. We know of this due to sense data, which is of course all physical. That physical data enters our brain via electrical signals through the senses, like our eyes. It causes a brain state that produces the thought of things with three sides.

            Some of our categorization is arbitrary of course. That's why we have demarcation problems galore.

            Does something that has three sides have "threesidedness"?
            For example, does the triangle drawn on the page in front of my have threesidedness existing in it?

            No, because threesidedness is a description, a label we created and use to categorize things. There is no independently existing property of the thing existing in it.

          • Phil

            Threesidedness is a description, a label we created and use to categorize things. There is no independently existing property of the thing existing in it.

            How do we evaluate if our description is true or false?
            In other words, does the mind impose descriptions or do we get the description from how the object actually exists apart from our mind?

            Threesided things exist apart from our minds, not threesidedness.

            Threesided things exist without having the property of threesidedness existing in them? That seems quite incoherent.

            We know of this due to sense data, which is of course all physical. That physical data enters our brain via electrical signals through the senses, like our eyes.

            To confirm, Threesidedness does or doesn't exist in the sense data that is coming from a threesided object?

            Because if it does, then threesidedness somehow exists in the object and/or sense data. If it doesn't, then we are imposing threesidedness on things outside our mind.

          • How do we evaluate if our description is true or false?
            In other words, does the mind impose descriptions or do we get the description from how the object actually exists apart from our mind?

            We get the description from our sense data, which is data stemming from objects that exist apart from our minds.

            Threesided things exist without having the property of threesidedness existing in them? That seems quite incoherent.

            It isn't incoherent if you understand my point of view. There are only physical properties. We create descriptions of things and label them (sometimes arbitrarily) according to words. Threesidedness is a label we've made up to describe things that have three sides. The problem here that you have is you're confusing human language with a thing existing externally.

            To confirm, Threesidedness does or doesn't exist in the sense data that is coming from a threesided object?

            It doesn't. Sense data is just electrical particles. The idea of threesidedness is a concept we made up to describe things that have three sides. There is no "threesidedness" in nature. There's just fermions and bosons.

            Because if it does, then threesidedness somehow exists in the object and/or sense data. If it doesn't, then we are imposing threesidedness on things outside our mind.

            If it doesn't, it doesn't mean that we're "imposing" threesidedness in the sense that there are no physical objects that have three sides. It's just that we're creating a label and putting it on things that have three sides. The concept doesn't exist externally to us. We make it up to describe things.

          • Phil

            It's just that we're creating a label and putting it on things that have three sides.

            But does that property we are labeling (e.g., threesidedness) actually exist outside our mind? If it doesn't you are noticing a property (namely, threesidedness) that doesn't exist out there in reality.

            The problem here that you have is you're confusing human language with a thing existing externally.

            Does threesidedness actually exist in the triangle outside your mind or not? If it doesn't, then you are calling something threesided that doesn't actually have the property of threesidedness.

            If our language isn't describing something that exists apart from our mind, then language falls into incoherent babble. So if when you say "threesided", if isn't referencing a real thing (namely "threesidedness") that exists outside your mind then what are you talking about?

          • But does that property we are labeling (e.g., threesidedness) actually exist outside our mind? If it doesn't you are noticing a property (namely, threesidedness) that doesn't exist out there in reality.

            Only physical things exist. If a property is physical, then properties exist. If the property is conceptual, then no it doesn't exist since no concepts exist outside.

            Does threesidedness actually exist in the triangle outside your mind or not? If it doesn't, then you are calling something threesided that doesn't actually have the property of threesidedness.

            Not true. Threesided things exist apart from our minds. Threesidedness is an idea we've created that does not exist apart from our minds.

            If our language isn't describing something that exists apart from our mind, then language falls into incoherent babble.

            That's exactly what I think all the Thomistic talk about god is: incohrent babble.

            The truth is sometimes our language talks about real things that exist apart from our minds, sometimes it doesn't. But don't confuse the concept with a thing actually existing outside our minds. That's one major flaw in Aristotle's and Plato's philosophy: Making concepts ontologically real and extant apart from minds.

            So if when you say "threesided", if isn't referencing a real thing (namely "threesidedness") that exists outside your mind then what are you talking about?

            It references threesided things, which are real.

          • Phil

            That's one major flaw in Aristotle's and Plato's philosophy: Making concepts ontologically real and extant apart from minds.

            This would be a misunderstanding of Aristotle's metaphysics. Plato does believe this, Aristotle does not.

            A-T hold that the concepts exist in our mind and we abstract the concepts from the physical objects. The concepts don't exist exactly in the external objects like they do in our mind. But they must exist in that physical object in some way if our mind is to have any real connection to the outside world. So triangleness exists in triangles and we abstract it from those triangles and it exists in our mind as the concept of triangleness.

            Again, the flow of info is from the world to our mind, not from our mind to the world.

            Threesided things exist apart from our minds. Threesidedness is an idea we've created that does not exist apart from our minds.

            And we disagree on where the concept comes from. I hold that we get the concept of threesidedness by abstracting it from the actually externally existing object. You believe we impose the concept upon the externally existing object.

            In other words, we believe in two different directions. You, from the mind to the object. Me, from the object to the mind, where the mind is conforming to how reality exists, i.e., truth.

          • This would be a misunderstanding of Aristotle's metaphysics. Plato does believe this, Aristotle does not.

            Aristotle's view is definitely more rational than Plato's on this topic, but his view still holds that forms exist apart from our minds. I say they don't; they're a concept we've made up, sometimes arbitrarily, that are made up perfections of particulars.

            Again, the flow of info is from the world to our mind, not from our mind to the world.

            I don't deny that info goes from the world to our mind, but sometimes we make up stuff and try to impose it on the world, just like we do with gods that don't exist, and concepts that have no bearing in reality.

            And we disagree on where the concept comes from. I hold that we get the concept of threesidedness by abstracting it from the actually externally existing object. You believe we impose the concept upon the externally existing object.

            I believe we create the concept from abstracting it from externally existing particulars, but that concept doesn't exist in reality. Therefore it makes no sense to talk about the "form of squirrel" or the "form of human" as a real thing.

            In other words, we believe in two different directions. You, from the mind to the object. Me, from the object to the mind, where the mind is conforming to how reality exists, i.e., truth.

            Then how do you explain the fact that we often make stuff up and claim it exists externally to our mind, like ghosts, spirits, gods, and other things? If you agree that we sometimes create things in our minds and try to impose it on reality, then you agree with me. I'm saying that's exactly what you're doing with the AT notion of forms.

          • Phil

            I don't deny that info goes from the world to our mind, but sometimes we make up stuff and try to impose it on the world, just like we do with gods that don't exist, and concepts that have no bearing in reality.

            Okay, so in what type of form/substance is this info that is going from the world to our mind in ?

            For example, we look at a physical triangle and obviously that physical triangle doesn't exist in our mind. So the info can't be physical. Therefore the info that came from the triangle that now exists in our mind is non-physical. This seems pretty clear.

            I believe we create the concept from abstracting it from externally existing particulars, but that concept doesn't exist in reality.

            To abstract something is to "extract or remove something". What is being abstracted from the physical external object? It isn't the physical object itself.

            Then how do you explain the fact that we often make stuff up and claim it exists externally to our mind, like ghosts, spirits, gods, and other things? If you agree that we sometimes create things in our minds and try to impose it on reality, then you agree with me. I'm saying that's exactly what you're doing with the AT notion of forms.

            Concepts can exist in our mind that don't actually exist in the world. Just as forms can exist in phyiscal objects that don't exist in our mind.

            For example, even if all physical triangles went out of existence, we could still think about the concept of "triangle".

            And before we encounter a new physical object that form only exists outside our mind and does not exist in our mind until it is abstracted. "Under normal circumstances, nothing is in the mind that is not first in the senses." -Aquinas

          • Okay, so in what type of form/substance is this info that is going from the world to our mind in ?

            It isn't anything like a form or substance. It's just physical data. All things are physical. That's it.

            For example, we look at a physical triangle and obviously that physical triangle doesn't exist in our mind. So the info can't be physical. Therefore the info that came from the triangle that now exists in our mind is non-physical. This seems pretty clear.

            That's nonsense. And we've been over this already. A physical triangle doesn't have to be in our brain for the information about a triangle to be physical. Information about shapes aren't the shape of the object. Why you would think this is the case is childish.

            And since you can never get around the unsurmountable interaction problem, you can't have immaterial things interact with physical things.

            To abstract something is to "extract or remove something". What is being abstracted from the physical external object? It isn't the physical object itself.

            Simple. It's an idealized perfection. It's no different from how we can see an animal, and then make up a monster based on that animal: we're making something up based on a real physical thing.

            Concepts can exist in our mind that don't actually exist in the world. Just as forms can exist in phyiscal objects that don't exist in our mind.

            Um no, the only thing that exist in physical object are physical things.

            For example, even if all physical triangles went out of existence, we could still think about the concept of "triangle".

            Sure but that's mainly because we got the idea of triangles from physical ones.

            And before we encounter a new physical object that form only exists outside our mind and does not exist in our mind until it is abstracted. "Under normal circumstances, nothing is in the mind that is not first in the senses." -Aquinas

            Aquinas is mostly right. Most of are ideas and concepts come from our senses. But all things are physical. Every thought and every concept is a brain state. That's it. At most, if a non-physical thing could "exist," it would have to be a n epiphenomenon.

          • Phil

            That's nonsense. And we've been over this already. A physical triangle doesn't have to be in our brain for the information about a triangle to be physical. Information about shapes aren't the shape of the object. Why you would think this is the case is childish.

            Yes, so you are saying that the information is physical, so what specifically is this physical info/data you are speaking of? What is this information that both exists in the physical triangle and in our mind?

            I guess I'm asking you to describe and locate the physical substance of "info".

            Simple. It's an idealized perfection. It's no different from how we can see an animal, and then make up a monster based on that animal: we're making something up based on a real physical thing.

            Okay, so this abstraction that comes from the physical object is physical or non-physical? If physical can you point to exactly what this physical object of the "abstraction" is?

          • Yes, so you are saying that the information is physical, so what specifically is this physical info/data you are speaking of? What is this information that both exists in the physical triangle and in our mind?

            Obviously, the physical information is made up of elementary particles.

            I guess I'm asking you to describe and locate the physical substance of "info".

            Information is carried in the physical substance, as all information is. No physical substances, no information.

            Okay, so this abstraction that comes from the physical object is physical or non-physical? If physical can you point to exactly what this physical object of the "abstraction" is?

            It's physical of course because it's a thought, and all thoughts are ultimately physical. The physical object is a brain state. The neurons are where the memories are stored in various parts of the brain. We can see memories being formed in real time in the brain and have known this for years: thoughts and memories are physical.

          • Phil

            Information is carried in the physical substance, as all information is. No physical substances, no information.

            Is the physical info perfectly equal to the physical substance then? Or is information something above and beyond the physical substance carrying it?

            It's physical of course because it's a thought, and all thoughts are ultimately physical. The physical object is a brain state. The neurons are where the memories are stored in various parts of the brain. We can see memories being formed in real time in the brain and have known this for years: thoughts and memories are physical.

            I was trying to get at what this abstraction physical is because if the physical object, the abstraction, and the brain state are all physical, I still see not connection between the three. They are very different objects which having nothing in common.

          • Is the physical info perfectly equal to the physical substance then? Or is information something above and beyond the physical substance carrying it?

            The information is equal to the physical substance carrying it, but mind you as photons enter your eyes they are turned into electrical signals that are carried into the brain, and those electrical signals activate neurons, and so the medium changes at different steps.

            I was trying to get at what this abstraction physical is because if the physical object, the abstraction, and the brain state are all physical, I still see not connection between the three. They are very different objects which having nothing in common.

            They do have something in common. As I mentioned before, as photons enter your eyes they are turned into electrical signals that are carried into the brain, and those electrical signals activate neurons, and so the medium changes at different steps, but the basic information contained within them is the same. Just like your computer data can be analog, fiber optic laser, and radio waves before it gets to your computer.

          • Phil

            The information is equal to the physical substance carrying it, but mind you as photons enter your eyes they are turned into electrical signals that are carried into the brain, and those electrical signals activate neurons, and so the medium changes at different steps.

            Gotcha, so the same info of "triangleness" exists in a physical triangle, in the sense data, and in the brain states that are the thoughts of "triangleness". Would that be correct on your view?

            As I mentioned before, as photons enter your eyes they are turned into electrical signals that are carried into the brain, and those electrical signals activate neurons, and so the medium changes at different steps, but the basic information contained within them is the same. Just like your computer data can be analog, fiber optic laser, and radio waves before it gets to your computer.

            Sure, but what is similar between the matter that make sup the physical triangle on the paper with a pencil, the matter of the sense data, and the matter that makes up the brain states which is the thought of the concept of triangle?

          • Gotcha, so the same info of "triangleness" exists in a physical triangle, in the sense data, and in the brain states that are the thoughts of "triangleness". Would that be correct on your view?

            Physical information about triangles goes into your brain via the senses, that causes a brain state about triangles. That's where triangleness resides.

            Sure, but what is similar between the matter that make sup the physical triangle on the paper with a pencil, the matter of the sense data, and the matter that makes up the brain states which is the thought of the concept of triangle?

            It's all made of particles described in the Standard Model. Their pattern is what conveys the information. Just like if I shredded the paper with the triangle, it's information is lost.

          • Phil

            To put it another way, if information is perfectly equal to the physical substance then the physical substance of paper and ink, is not the same as the physical substance of photons, which is no the same as the physical substance of the brain and neurons. So how can that info of "triangle" all the same in all those cases? They are obviously very different physical things. They are not the same.

          • It's no different than how the information of these words on your screen exist in different mediums, yet are about the same thing. Your question would be like asking: how can the info of "triangle" be the same in different languages?

            You're naively thinking that the information is made of the same substance that it's about. I never said that. This would only be true at the most fundamental of levels since everything is made of quarks and electrons. But at higher levels this is obviously false because the information on your computer is not the same physical thing that it's about. The information is carried in different mediums.

          • Phil

            It's no different than how the information of these words on your screen exist in different mediums, yet are about the same thing. Your question would be like asking: how can the info of "triangle" be the same in different languages?

            Yes!! And that is part of the proof for the ontological existence of forms! The existence of the same thing in radically different physical mediums!

            How can the written word, the picture on a screen, the digital 1's and 0's, the paper and ink of a triangle, the sense data, and the thought in the mind all the be about the same thing? The information carried in each of these goes beyond the mere physical medium because they are all radically different physical yet they carry the same info. Information comes from form (in*form*ation)!

          • Yes!! And that is part of the proof for the ontological existence of forms! The existence of the same thing in radically different physical mediums!

            That's not a proof of forms, that's a proof of different physical things. And they aren't technically radically different. They're all fermions and bosons.

            How can the written word, the picture on a screen, the digital 1's and 0's, the paper and ink of a triangle, the sense data, and the thought in the mind all the be about the same thing? The information carried in each of these goes beyond the mere physical medium because they are all radically different physical yet they carry the same info. Information comes from form (in*form*ation)!

            Form makes no sense here since they are all physically different. Especially since you think form is instantiated in particulars. The reason why they are about the same thing is because for most of those things, we made and designed them to be about the same thing. We just scribbled some ink, or made a noise and said that thing → something else.

          • Phil

            Form makes no sense here since they are all physically different. Especially since you think form is instantiated in particulars.

            The form we are talking about is *the information of the concept of triangle*. The information of the concept of triangle is present in the written word, the picture on a screen, the digital 1's and 0's, the paper and ink of a triangle, the sense data, and the thought in the mind! The concept/information is the same, while the physical medium is different.

            And how is this possible to carry the same information via completely different physical substances? Because the information/concept is immaterial, not material!

          • The form we are talking about is *the information of the concept of triangle*. The information of the concept of triangle is present in the written word, the picture on a screen, the digital 1's and 0's, the paper and ink of a triangle, the sense data, and the thought in the mind! The concept/information is the same, while the physical medium is different.

            The medium and information is all physical. Hence immaterial forms make no sense as a concept. They're made up - technically they're just physical brain states, like everything else is.

            And how is this possible to carry the same information via completely different physical substances? Because the information/concept is immaterial, not material!

            Nope. That would make no sense on Thomism because forms are instantiated by particulars, and the particulars here would be different. How could 2 different particulars have the same form? Information is always physical. It makes no sense to say information isn't physical. It's like saying nothing is information.

          • Phil

            The medium and information is all physical

            So the information of "triangle" is physical, is that what you are saying?

            Nope. That would make no sense on Thomism because forms are instantiated by particulars, and the particulars here would be different. How could 2 different particulars have the same form? Information is always physical. It makes no sense to say information isn't physical. It's like saying nothing is information.

            Sorry, I'm not being clear. It is the same concept that it abstracted from different formed matter.
            And how is this possible? Because concepts are not reducible to pure matter. If they were then saying one can abstract the same concept from all those differently informed matter makes no sense.

          • So the information of "triangle" is physical, is that what you are saying?

            All information is physical. It seems that we're going round and round in circles in your attempt to show my view is incoherent. Is that your goal?

            Sorry, I'm not being clear. It is the same concept that it abstracted from different formed matter.

            And concepts are physical, so there are no immaterial forms.

            And how is this possible? Because concepts are not reducible to pure matter. If they were then saying one can abstract the same concept from all those differently informed matter makes no sense.

            Sure it makes sense. It seems that the central crux of our disagreement is over the notion of "information." Information is a tricky thing to define. If a picture of a tree carries information and it can be reducible to two completely different formats - like binary and paper, then we have no reason to think that concepts cannot also be reducible to two different kinds of matter. Technically we're not even going down to the fundamental level of the standard model. When you do down that far everything reduces to quarks and electrons. We're really focusing at a level above to chemistry.

          • Phil

            The primary question I'm getting at is if the information of "triangle" is physical, this means that we have the written word "triangle", the audible word "triangle", the picture of a triangle, the 1's and 0's of a digital triangle, and the brain state of a triangle. These are all completely different physical entities, how can they be the same physical information?

            This is what is called the problem of "the one and the many". This is a big reason why Aristotle and thinkers that followed him realized that reality cannot be reduced to purely material.

          • These are all completely different physical entities, how can they be the same physical information?

            You have the same alleged problem. How could different entities have the same form? Isn't it like saying a triangle and a square have the same form?

            Many made information, like words, and the bits of binary, we created. And so the information in them is given by us. We just say a certain scribble or certain noise means triangle.

            This is what is called the problem of "the one and the many". This is a big reason why Aristotle and thinkers that followed him realized that reality cannot be reduced to purely material.

            I see no reason to adopt such a conclusion, especially when one learns of emergence, which I think is unavoidable given what we know of science.

          • Phil

            You have the same alleged problem. How could different entities have the same form? Isn't it like saying a triangle and a square have the same form?

            To solve this problem is exactly why the ancient Greeks, like Aristotle, even proposed the existence of "form".

            How can two completely different physical entities both be "trees" or "square" or "triangle"? It is because the form is the same, while that matter that is informed is different. They are all form-matter compositions.

            Triangle and square are two completely different forms.

            I see no reason to adopt such a conclusion, especially when one learns of emergence

            I'm all about proper understanding and that a sort of "emergence" can happen. But I don't believe in emergence when it is irrational to believe in such.

            For example, no matter how much "dead matter" you put together, it "coming alive" will not happen. This is simply because of what the nature of "inert/dead" and "alive" is. If the potential to be something doesn't exist already in something, then it can't magically "emerge".

          • Phil

            Here is a paper that I enjoyed some years ago that speaks about one reason why there are parts of thought that are necessarily immaterial.

            http://www.newdualism.org/papers/E.Feser/Feser-acpq_2013.pdf

          • Thanks, but unfortunately I just don't have the time to read all that right now. If you can quote a paragraph you think solidifies the case, please copy and paste.

          • Phil

            I really don't support intellectual laziness. If you are interested in seeking the truth, have at it. If not, I won't hold it again you.

            (It's perfectly okay if you don't have the time now, but then save it for a later date.)

          • I'm familiar with other arguments he's made elsewhere, and I assume this is most likely a deeper instance of those arguments. I was not impressed by what I've previously read about this subject. What does Feser mean by "the determinacy of thought"?

          • Phil

            I would invite you to read the essay when you get a chance to get exactly what it being spoken about as that will give you a better overview than I ever could.

          • I asked what does Feser mean by "the determinacy of thought"?

          • Phil

            As I mentioned above, reading the essay will give you a more complete answer than I ever could in a comment section:

            http://www.newdualism.org/papers/E.Feser/Feser-acpq_2013.pdf

          • I'm just asking a simple question that should be easy for you to answer.

          • Phil

            I absolutely could, but I am leaving this up to you. It is your choice to try to seek out truth or not. I leave it in your free and capable hands (well, maybe not "free" based on our other discussions!).

          • Seeking truth involves asking questions, does it not? Aren't you asking me a hundred questions on our other thread? Seems that by not answering you're making it harder for me to get potential truth.

          • BCE

            Your free will comment aside......."everything that happens was destined to happen"
            do you stand by that?
            Based on our past use of fossil fuel we can predict global warming
            but was the rate predestined?

          • Phil

            I think that Thinker's bigger problem with his belief that "everything that happens was destined to happen" is that he has no way to tell whether anything that he believes is true or false. Is he destined to believe false things? Is he destined to believe true things? Was he destined to believe falsely that everything that happens was destined to happen?
            Is he destined to believe falsely that he can even tell the difference between true and false beliefs correctly?

            Once one gets rid of free will or truth, one is sawing the branch off that one is sitting on. One falls into incoherency and where his belief in determinism is shown to be false through "proof by contradiction",.

          • Nope. And I already refuted that. Free will requires your thoughts be uncaused (lest they wouldn't be free) and you cannot by definition have control over anything uncaused. So there is no "freely" coming to conclusions on free will; they'd all be random fluctuations.

            However, if your thoughts are caused they can have a connection to what happened before it. This allows the possibility that your thoughts are correct. This shows that free will is actually what denies being able to tell what you believe is true or false.

            You make the same elementary mistake all people do on the issue of free will vs determinism.

          • Given the laws of physics in our universe, yes.

          • BCE

            So asking humans to modify their use of fossil fuel is just futile .
            Our past use of fuel was predestined?
            And so to future human population, global use of fuel, co2, particulates in the air, and the global temp 2030, 2110 etc is predetermined?

            And Richard Dawkins' claim that our evolved intelligence allows us
            to create alternative memes beyond just our evolved genetic nature, is false?

          • Nope. You were referring to past events and asking if they were determined to happen. I said yes they were. Then you shift to the future about supposed future events and say we shouldn't do anything because they're destined. No. You don't know the future. No one does. Thinking a future event is destined no matter what is called fatalism. This is different from determinism. Most people who don't know any better make this common mistake.

            On determinism (which again, is different from fatalism) it makes perfect sense to try and change human behavior. If determinism is true, things you do or say have a causal effect on people who hear them. However, it's only if free will is true — where your thoughts are uncaused and thus have no connection to anything that happen before them — that it makes no sense to convince anyone of anything. Trying to convince someone determinism is true will increase the likelihood they will accept it because you might be that causal force that changes their mind, and nobody knows the future with certainty. So it makes perfect sense to try and convince someone of something on determinism, but it makes no sense whatsoever to do so on free will. Free will requires your thoughts be uncaused (lest they wouldn't be free) and you cannot by definition have control over anything uncaused. So there is no "freely" coming to conclusions on free will; they'd all be random fluctuations.

          • BCE

            No I knew the difference that's why I used ...*past* fossil fuel use
            *and (a prediction) future* ie when I said year 2110
            You said... everything that happens ... destined to happen
            (no tense)
            I wanted your elaboration

          • BCE

            That's beautiful
            You almost sound like a prophet of 2000 year ago
            your allegory could read...

            ...fear not, though thou art slave, hope in the future, as once your ancient father hoped in your generation, yet he be dust, one day may move mountains.

            optimism means I'm going to continue to recycle, own a fuel efficient car, ride share, and sit in the dark when I respond to you. No kidding I support climate research, personal and corporate responsible use. ....together we can prevent the shrinking polar ice cap.

            Later
            goodnight for now

          • Continue to continue to recycle, own a fuel efficient car, ride share, and all those good things. Doing them will cause the future to be a better place.

          • Alec

            Hurricanes; they're a by product of certain natural circumstances that just so happened to come together on their own. Again, making the game and allowing certain things to exist doesn't mean you're in control of those things. You've just created the conditions for those things to maybe come into existence.

          • Since god knows everything he knows that creating a universe with physical laws X will create hurricane Maria in 13.7 billion years. It's built into the design. It isn't something god has no knowledge or control over. Stop trying to reduce your god's power to a mere creator of universes.

          • Alec

            I don't except your interpretation of God's omniscience. Your version of God makes him a slave to future events, and I don't think that's the case.

            Obviously, God has control and knowledge over everything that happens...well everywhere. I'm not sure where I've disputed this. My point is, is that God allows natural events to strike because stopping them would necessitate stopping everything else that could potentially harm humans. So, in a sense, everyone has an equal opportunity at dying and not being saved. There is no partiality on God's part.

          • Slave to future events? That makes no sense. If I design a computer program the simulates a universe to result in a hurricane a certain time later, then I am not a slave to that event, I am the creator and designer of that event.

            My point is, is that God allows natural events to strike because stopping them would necessitate stopping everything else that could potentially harm humans.

            That's absurd. Human's didn't even exist for the first 4.53 billion years that the earth did, and yet there were countless natural calamities.

            So, in a sense, everyone has an equal opportunity at dying and not being saved. There is no partiality on God's part.

            Clearly that's not the case, given how in extremely poor countries the life expectancy even today is 50-60, whereas in the developed world it's 80+, and natural disasters and disease are a huge part of that.

          • Alec

            God is omnipotent; humans are not. If his foresight saw something, by necessity it would have to happen.

            Your second paragraph, I'm afraid, didn't quite answer my point. If God saves one person from dying, he's essentially obligated to save everyone from dying.

            There's still no partiality on God's part. We all exist in this chaotic world where we all can die at literally any moment. The randomness is what makes dying "fair." We all have a equal chance of dying by way of nature or human negligence, as I'm sure you would even agree.

          • God is omnipotent; humans are not. If his foresight saw something, by necessity it would have to happen.

            Then god is determined and has no free will.

            Your second paragraph, I'm afraid, didn't quite answer my point. If God saves one person from dying, he's essentially obligated to save everyone from dying.

            Why? Obligated by what? An outside force of thing?

            There's still no partiality on God's part. We all exist in this chaotic world where we all can die at literally any moment. The randomness is what makes dying "fair." We all have a equal chance of dying by way of nature or human negligence, as I'm sure you would even agree.

            So innocent children dying of lukemia and evil dictators living pain-free into their 90s is "fair"? Logically prove that it is.

          • Alec

            Yes, that's why I reject that view of God's omnipresence.

            Obligated by consistency? There's no reason why an omnipotent God couldn't literally save everyone from everything; so if he saves one person, why not everyone else? If he stops one case of evil here, why not stop ALL instances of evil?

            It's fair in the sense that God didn't predetermined the dictator to live a long life or for the child to die of cancer; both situations arose naturally out of a vacuum free from outside influence.

            Personally, my views on God and His foresight and omnipresence differ from your typical orthodox Christian understanding.

          • God couldn't literally save everyone from everything; so if he saves one person, why not everyone else? If he stops one case of evil here, why not stop ALL instances of evil?

            Sure god could. Is there a heaven? Are people there suffering and dying? If they are, it isn't heaven. If they aren't, then it is logically and metaphysically possible for a god to create a world where no one suffers and dies.

            Problem solved.

          • Alec

            Theologically speaking, our world CAN'T be a perfect sinless world. Otherwise, Christ's death at the cross would be utterly meaningless. Like I said, the Christian God has embraced human suffering and pain when he came to Earth and experienced it first hand. In that way, the Christian God can empathize with mankind, because He feels our pain.

          • Theologically speaking, our world CAN'T be a perfect sinless world. Otherwise, Christ's death at the cross would be utterly meaningless.

            By that logic we all should sin as much as possible in order to make Christ's death worthwhile.

            And of course, even by your own logic, if it was sinless, god would not have to send his son to die.

            But of course a human sacrifice makes no sense as atonement for anything.

            Like I said, the Christian God has embraced human suffering and pain when he came to Earth and experienced it first hand. In that way, the Christian God can empathize with mankind, because He feels our pain.

            But god would already have knowledge of what that feels like without Jesus. So your view makes no sense.

          • Alec

            What? Where do you get "Sin as much as possible" from "Jesus died for our sins?"

            I don't understand your second statement. Who or what is "it" in this context? The world? Jesus?

            Yes, even the Bible would agree with you. No human could be a worthy sacrifice for an all powerful God...

            Would he though? God does not live in us, so how could he experience and feel the human condition firsthand?

          • If I die for your freedom and you don't exercise your freedom, I died for no reason. If Jesus died for our sins and we don't sin, then he died for no reason.

            The it refers to the world. God could have made a sinless world, no sacrifice needed on your view.

          • If I die for your freedom and you don't exercise your freedom, I died for no reason. If Jesus died for our sins and we don't sin, then he died for no reason.

          • Alec

            But freedom is not to continue sinning; in fact, an important theme of the Bible is that we are slaves to sin, and only in Christ can we be truly free.

          • So what? The more I sin the more Christ's death will be meaningful.

          • It's fair in the sense that God didn't predetermined the dictator to live a long life or for the child to die of cancer; both situations arose naturally out of a vacuum free from outside influence.

            How? Your view entails god has no control over anything in the universe.

          • Alec

            Or, perhaps God has willingly let nature take its course with a hands off approach to everything but the Messiah's birth.

          • Do you believe that god is the creator and designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it?

          • Alec

            Undecided. I think, perhaps with things that have to do with the birth of the Messiah he stepped in to make sure the necessary conditions would arise for his birth. Which would obviously include things like creating a physical world with laws that made sure it didn't fall into complete chaos. But anything beyond that, I'm unsure if God himself fixed things into place.

          • In theory, the Christian God can only empathize with our pain, because he went through it too.

            Whose theory is that?

          • It is possible he has warned many, it is possible he has warned more who didn´t listed

            And therefore, what? Must I believe all X for which "possibly X" is demonstrably true?

          • ClayJames

            Of course not, the comment you quoted was a response to the claim that God does not warn anyone of life threatening disasters.

            But even if true, to say that God should warn anyone or save anyone from death is a requirement that limited minds are in no position to set.

          • the comment you quoted was a response to the claim that God does not warn anyone of life threatening disasters.

            And my point was that "It's possible he did" is not a valid counterargument.

          • ClayJames

            And my point was that "It's possible he did" is not a valid counterargument.

            Yes it is. He said that the fact that people do not espace natural disasters (which is obviously not true) means that God did not warn them. This is clearly not true since it is possible that God did warn them even if they didnt escape. So yes, if it is possible that his conclusion does not follow from the premises then the conclusion is invalid.

          • So yes, if it is possible that his conclusion does not follow from the premises then the conclusion is invalid.

            No, only arguments are valid or invalid. Conclusions (and premises) are either true or false. Validity is a characteristic of arguments, not of the statements that comprise them.

            He said that the fact that people do not espace natural disasters (which is obviously not true) means that God did not warn them.

            What is obviously not true is that no people ever escape natural disasters. Many do escape. But many others do not, and they are the ones the argument is about.

            I agree with you that "If people do not escape, then they were not warned" is an invalid inference, but only because it requires an unstated premise for its validity. That premise is: "All people who are warned of natural disasters escape them." If that premise were included in the argument, then it would be a valid argument, but it would also be unsound because the premise is demonstrably false. No argument proves it conclusion just because it's valid. It also needs to have true premises.

          • ClayJames

            No, only arguments are valid or invalid. Conclusions (and premises) are either true or false. Validity is a characteristic of arguments, not of the statements that comprise them.

            And the conclusion is an inference of the argument which in this case, would be an invalid invalid one.

            I agree with you that "If people do not escape, then they were not warned" is an invalid inference, but only because it requires an unstated premise for its validity. That premise is: "All people who are warned of natural disasters escape them." If that premise were included in the argument, then it would be a valid argument, but it would also be unsound because the premise is demonstrably false. No argument proves it conclusion just because it's valid. It also needs to have true premises.

            Correct, this is exactly what I have said regarding the post I was responding to which you, at first, interpreted as me saying that one should ¨believe all X for which "possibly X" is demonstrably true¨. You then turned to showing the difference between validity vs. truth based off a misinterpretation on your part regarding what I was saying (which was completely irrelevant to the point).

            I think its fair to say that nothing else needs to be said about this matter.

          • I think its fair to say that nothing else needs to be said about this matter.

            I agree that further discussion would be pointless.

          • Oh it's even worse than that. God does not merely "allow" hurricanes to develop and kill tons of people (and animals). He designed them right into his fine tuned universe. Because if...

            (1) God (an omnipotent, omniscience, omni-benevolent being) exists.
            (2) Natural evil exists.
            (3) God is the creator and designer of the physical universe, including the laws that govern it.

            then it entails that..

            (4) Natural disasters, and the evil they cause, are a direct byproduct of the laws that govern our universe.

            So it's not like hurricanes and other natural disasters "just so happened to arise" and god allows them. No, he knowingly built them right into the system.

          • Logike

            I would be inclined to agree with your conclusion. God would, in effect, be partly responsible for tragedies in this case. We wouldn't say he was "punishing" people, though. And I guess that's all I mean by "allow," as in, "doing nothing to stop it." But you're right, he also created the conditions that make tragedies inevitable, which calls into question his omni-characteristics.

          • God would be fully responsible. If I fined tuned an explosion to occur, I'm fully responsible for all the ensuing mayhem. And that's especially true if I'm omniscient and know in advance exactly what will result from said explosion. If someone was brutally injured from the explosion, I didn't "allow" it, I ultimately caused it intentionally. Whether this is done as a punishment or some sick sadistic game, or whatever, there is no "allowing."

          • Logike

            I'm not disagreeing with you. My only hesitation for finding God "fully" responsible has to do with the question of truly random events in the world (indeterminism). He would be fully responsible only if the natural world were fully deterministic, and I'm not sure that it is. It's an open question. The difference is between God creating a world in which the initial conditions make natural disasters *possible,* and God creating a world in which the initial conditions make natural disasters *probable* or *necessary.* One can fine tune the conditions needed to make an explosion occur, but that doesn't mean the explosion "must" occur or even that it "will" occur. For an explosion to actually occur, you also need someone or something to detonate it, and it's not obvious God would have anything directly to do with the detonation if there were random events in the world.

            Also, we are just addressing the issue in different contexts. You are talking about God's responsibility prior to his creating the initial conditions of the universe or the world. I am talking about his responsibility *after* creating those initial conditions. So I think God is responsible for creating the initial conditions that make it possible for future natural disasters to occur. I also think he is responsible for doing nothing to save people from those disasters when they *do* occur. He would be doubly responsible.

  • Ben

    From a Catholic perspective, we live in a fallen world. The harmony and order of
    creation has become disordered because of Original Sin. I have always felt that
    evils like natural disasters, disease and even some of the brutality of animals
    are the result of Original Sin. Paragraph 400 in the Catechism says “Harmony
    with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.
    Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay’” Scripture
    also gives us a hint, “…that creation itself would be set free from slavery to
    corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know
    that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;” (Rom 8:21-22). In
    the Catholic view, the evil found in nature mirrors the evil in the human
    heart.

    • The harmony and order of creation has become disordered because of Original Sin.

      The obvious question, raised here many times previously, is why floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, disease-causing bacteria and viruses, poisonous snakes, cancer, and so many natural evils—allegedly the result of original sin—were already present in nature before the existence of human beings on earth.

      • Ben

        Disordered in relation to man, so man would be in the mix.

        • I'm unclear as to your point. Those of us who are not fundamentalists believe we know a great deal of what the world was like before humans came on the scene. If all the natural evils I mentioned existed before the advent of the human race, and the order of creation was good, then it the introduction of human beings into the world that makes them "disordered." It sounds to me like you are saying that God created human beings in a world where they didn't belong. Sure, you can maintain that a tsunami or an erupting volcano wasn't a natural evil 100 million years ago. But I don't see how you can claim that it is anything human beings did that caused them to be natural evils to human beings in their path. I suppose you can claim that Eden was a special place set apart from the rest of the world, but even so, the world itself was filled with natural evils to human beings.

          • Ben

            Main point is that at some point man's harmony with creation was broken because of sin. Perhaps this is unclear because it is a spiritual reality that cannot be proven empirically or historically, just as other realities cannot, like objective morality for example.
            You mention man being introduced...many forget that both man and animals were introduced on the same "day" or period of time, Day 6. Man was called to leave the animals behind in Day 6 and "rest" with God (in relationship) in Day 7, but it didn't work out.

          • Logike

            I think the issue at this point is not the need for empirical proof, but the need for explication as to what it is that you are even talking about. You claim something "changed" in man's relationship with nature when man's sin arrived on the scene. Yet know one knows what more that could possibly be after David provided potential examples that you rejected. The assertion appears empty as far as I can tell.

  • So one must choose. Should one reject the three hallmarks of punishment listed in this article? Or should one find another way to read the Biblical texts in question?

    It seems to me that if one must find a way to reinterpret "straightforward biblical accounts" in such a way that they convey something other than what they plainly say, then the obvious conclusion is that the Bible is a human document just like any other human document, and should not be considered "inerrant."

    • First, this is a question of hermeneutics, not inerrancy.

      Second, of course the Bible is a human document. More correctly, it is a collection of human documents written in various genres and literary styles and set against various historical contexts. That diversity should caution the reader against assuming that readings which seem "straightforward" are necessarily correct.

      • First, this is a question of hermeneutics, not inerrancy.

        Not really. Or at least it doesn't seem so to me. Your assumption, and the official Catholic assumption, is that biblical texts are inerrant. Dei Verbum says, for example:

        Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. . . .

        Now, granted, it does go on to say:

        However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. . . .

        Nevertheless, despite those non-fundamentalist "concessions," the working assumption of the "orthodox" Catholic exegete is that biblical texts must be, in some way or another, true. So it is not open to the "orthodox" Catholic interpreter to say, "Well, the biblical authors had an understanding of God's actions (or God's justice) that we believe to be mistaken today."

        So, yes, in a sense it is a matter of hermeneutics, but "orthodox" Catholic hermeneutics is limited by the assumption that, if it's in the Bible, it's true. It may not be literally true, but it is nevertheless necessarily true in some way or another.

        • Thanks for providing those quotes. This is particularly important: "what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. . . ." What God intends to communicate is not necessarily what the human author intends to communicate. For example, there may be vestigia trinitatis in various OT texts which God intended to communicate wholly apart from the intentions of the human author.

          By the same token, even if the human author did intend to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events, it doesn't necessarily follow that God ultimately intends for the texts to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events.

          • flan man

            Whoa, whooooooa. *record scratch*

            ""what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. . . ." What God intends to communicate is not necessarily what the human author intends to communicate."

            This HAS to be something very close to heresy, if not outright heresy. You're suggesting that "what God wanted to manifest" means "what God wanted to manifest but may or may not have been successful in doing so"? There can be a gap between what God wants and what actually happens?

            "For example, there may be vestigia trinitatis in various OT texts which God intended to communicate wholly apart from the intentions of the human author."

            This is the exact opposite. This is God manifesting something the author was not aware of. The prior part is God's meaning not coming through correctly at all.

            "By the same token, even if the human author did intend to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events, it doesn't necessarily follow that God ultimately intends for the texts to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events."

            I can see things like God physically walking, his hind parts, etc being explained allegorically, being an example of the author's limited understanding of God. I can see something like Genesis being an allegorical statement of creation, a poetic summation. This, though, this is saying "the Bible doesn't necessarily mean what it actually says". I don't see how that could be anything outside straight up Heresy. You're literally saying, "Even if the human author of the Bible says X, it doesn't follow that that's what God says". Then how do you know what any of it ACTUALLY says? That stuff about sexual immorality?, that's just Paul talking, he got the message garbled from God, you can ignore that part.

            Actually I know the answer: Randall Rauser is the one who's going to tell us. He knows what God Actually says, and is here to tell us how that differs from what the mere Bible says.

          • ClayJames

            This HAS to be something very close to heresy, if not outright heresy. You're suggesting that "what God wanted to manifest" means "what God wanted to manifest but may or may not have been successful in doing so"? There can be a gap between what God wants and what actually happens?

            I´ll let Randal defend his own line of reasoning which I agree with 100% but I don´t see how you conclude that he is suggesting this from what you quoted.

            Also, there is often a gap between what God wants and what actually happens. That gap is called sin.

          • People throw around terms like "heresy" with such flippancy. It's so irresponsible and destructive to the body of Christ. Instead, what folks like "flan man" should do is begin with a definition of heresy (with supporting documentation) and then show that a position allegedly satisfies that definition.

            But apparently that's too hard. So people instead just leap to making a wholly unmoored accusation.

          • I write: "What God intends to communicate is not necessarily what the human author intends to communicate."

            I then give an example with vestigia trinitatis. You reply: "This is the exact opposite. This is God manifesting something the author was not aware of."

            Yes, the author was not aware of it. Hence, God communicated something the human author didn't to communicate. Which is what I said.

            The imprecatory psalmist says that God laughs at the wicked (Ps. 37:13). Do you agree? Does God laugh at the wicked and their impending destruction?

          • By the same token, even if the human author did intend to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events, it doesn't necessarily follow that God ultimately intends for the texts to describe God as literally punishing people through weather events.

            This certainly implies that an "orthodox" Catholic has a tremendous amount of "leeway" in explicating a text. If, under divine inspiration, a biblical author said (and believed) God did X, the "orthodox" Catholic exegete may possibly conclude that not only didn't God do X, but X is the kind of thing God would not—and presumably by his nature could not—do. Consequently the divinely inspired author may have believed and written something untrue so that later interpreters would see that not only wasn't it true, but if understood as the biblical author intended it to be understood, it would be a misrepresentation of God.

          • "This certainly implies that an "orthodox" Catholic has a tremendous amount of "leeway" in explicating a text."

            In other words, interpretation is complicated. And indeed, sometimes it is.

            "If, under divine inspiration, a biblical author said (and believed) God did X, the "orthodox" Catholic exegete may possibly conclude that not only didn't God do X, but X is the kind of thing God would not—and presumably by his nature could not—do."

            Keep in mind first that the Bible does not give us a theory of what divine inspiration is. My account appeals to divinely appropriated human discourse (courtesy of Craig and Wolterstorff).

            In Psalm 37:13 the psalmist says God laughs at the coming destruction of the wicked. Did the psalmist mean to affirm that God does indeed laugh at the coming destruction of the wicked? Possibly so. Does that mean God does, in fact, laugh at the coming destruction of the wicked? Certainly not.

            I devote a couple chapters to that topic in my book "What's So Confusing About Grace?"

      • If what you allege is true, just how do you explain every one of the precisely fulfilled prophecies it holds?

        You're not suggesting we are able to truly foresee the future with 1000% accuracy, are you?

  • F.Nazar

    Logike below got the point: God-allowed natural disasters are an indiscriminate burden on the good and the bad (just as good weather is a blessing for the bad).

    The article does not understand the economy of salvation. It does not understand that:
    1. After original sin, nature is not at the service of man. The more sin (disorder), the more natural disorder, the more damage caused by disasters.
    2. Sin creates a debt to Justice, and therefore has 4 types punishments: spiritual and physical, individual and collective (we all belong to the same "mass", we are all co-responsible for our brother's sin in different degrees according to proximity)
    3. God is infinite Mercy but also perfect Justice: if we reject his Mercy, we have to pay our debt to Justice
    4. Charity (prayers, 7 spiritual works of mercy, 7 physical works of mercy, etc.) proportionally collects His infinite merits at the Cross and pays for the debt of sin to Justice: atonement
    5. Nothing without God, nothing without us: God is omnipotent but chose to act in the world through our merits.
    6. Good deeds are multiplied one hundred fold by God's Grace while bad ones only cause 4x damage

    Think about Abraham's negotiation to save Sodom and Gomorrah: God didn't say if there is only 1 just man it will be saved: maybe one holy man was not enough to pay for the sins of a complete city.

    The worst sins are the ones that claim to heaven: abortion (remember all non-barrier contraceptives are abortifacient), homosex, exploitation of the poor

    The more of those sins, the more natural and supernatural disasters.

    Read the book of Saint Faustina "Divine Mercy": everything is so clear there. It's free to download in the internet or you could write to me f.nazar at gmail .com

  • Kerk Lastnameless

    I get an impression that Christians love to forget the moment from the NT, where Jesus cures an old woman on Sabbath and claims that it was his duty to free her from Satan's grasp. So what gives? You have your answer right there -- natural evils are Satan's grasp on the world, not God's punishment. Yet, Christians seem so apprehensive to grant this. I suspect it's because of the good old tradition from the OT, according to which, everything, good or bad, comes from God.

    • BCE

      Please consider changing the name you're using

      • Please actually try refuting my arguments with evidence and logic instead of making silly unevidenced pronouncements and then patting yourself on the back.

    • The Bible is not clear on suffering. It gives several different possible answers. Some books in the Bible (like Amos) say that suffering comes from god's punishment for disobeying him, others (like the Book of Daniel) say that there are evil forces in the world that tempt you to do evil and disobey god, and these forces cause suffering, and yet others (like Ecclesiastes) say that we should live with the focus on our current life and enjoy it as much as we can since there is nothing after this. It's all over the map.

      • Alec

        I don't see why any of those have to be mutually exclusive.

        • If one is looking for a single consistent explanation for suffering, there isn't in the Bible.

          • Alec

            They seem pretty consistent to me.

          • How?

          • Alec

            Well, it seems to me that suffering does not necessarily have to have just one origin.

          • So god can punish people for being bad, but also good people can suffer from demons?

          • Alec

            Yes?

  • Doyle

    /Offtopic

    In this article I will briefly outline three considerations that support the conclusion that God would not punish people by way of severe weather events and thus that Bakker could not be right.

    Better?

    I will outline three arguments that support the conclusion that God would not punish people by way of severe weather events.

    It just struck me as a turgid sentence construction. I'd change it if I were you.

  • Biblical writers also regularly describe God as having a body, gaining knowledge, acting in time, experiencing emotional changes, and having regrets. And yet, Christian theologians have regularly interpreted these many passages as anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms. Moreover, they adopt such idiomatic readings in large part based on philosophical reflection.

    You are free to retain a literalistic reading about whichever passages you like. But it is naive and historically uninformed to think that being a Christian requires one to accept your reading tradition.

  • I see, so you're just going to ignore the point I just made. That's unfortunate.

    As for "Marcionism," that is a view which restricts the biblical canon to portions of the New Testament, which denies Israel's unique election, and which denies the virgin birth and incarnation based on gnostic impulses. None of that has anything to do which the position I've outlined here. Consequently, it seems you are merely interested in smearing others with a verboten label.

    But here's the irony: according to Origen, Marcion rejected the Old Testament in part because he rejected appeal to allegorical interpretations of biblical violence, dismissing them as rationales which attempt to explain away the literal meaning of the texts.

    Consequently, if anything, what I've proposed here is precisely at loggerheads with Marcion's literal reading of the texts.

  • "You reject the Old Testament by dismissing it as allegory"

    I haven't appealed to allegory. Once again, you show little concern for the proper definition and use of terms.

    I presume you are unaware that Gregory of Nyssa famously advocated interpreting the killing of the firstborn in the Egyptian plagues non-literally because, as he concluded, a literal interpretation was morally intolerable.

    So by your logic, Gregory of Nyssa, one of the pillars of Christian orthodoxy, was in fact a "heretic" and indeed a "Marcionite".

    But why stop with Gregory? Indeed, by your logic, most theologians throughout history are "heretics" since they "dismiss" descriptions of God as having emotions, gaining knowledge, having a body, etc. by interpreting those descriptions non-literally.

    • VicqRuiz

      Whether Gregory of Nyssa's position was heresy or no is a question that I, not a theologian, don't feel equipped to answer.

      Whether it's true or false, heretical or orthodox, I think we can all agree that dismissing's Yahweh's reported crimes as non-literal is certainly a -comfortable- position. It requires much less hard thought about what it means to be good and to do good than does a more literal reading,

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    This seems to me exactly backwards. The heresy of Marcionism lay in severing the Gospel story from its Jewish roots. Insofar as you are proposing (maybe this is not what you are proposing, but it seems this way to me) to sever the text of Genesis from its interpretive tradition, that is a lot more Marcionistic in spirit than anything Randal has proposed.

    How did the Jewish people themselves read Genesis in the time of Jesus? We can look, for example, at Paul's discussion of Ishmael and Isaac in Galatians chapter 4. It does not seem that Paul was especially focused on literalistic readings. And he was, by all accounts, a very competent interpreter of the Jewish tradition.

  • Sorry, I don't follow. Are you saying that the Exodus is "obvious poetry"? Or are you saying Gregory of Nyssa was a heretic?

    • Is a literal interpretation of the Old Testament compatible with Yahweh being infinitely good?

  • Contra Randal, this is not a case of merely reading texts differently. It is a matter of upending an entire biblical world view that assumed in story after story and psalm after psalm that Israel's high god was in direct personal control of the natural world and all forces of nature, a pervasive worldview assumption throughout the ancient world. THE THEOLOGICAL WORLD VIEW OF THE ANCIENT ISRAELITES IS WHAT RANDAL IS QUESTIONING. See https://books.google.com/books?id=tO0EsMfyFD0C&lpg=PP1&dq=Disturbing%20Divine%20Behavior%3A%20Troubling%20Old%20Testament%20Images%20of%20God&pg=PA151#v=onepage&q&f=false

    If Randal's "core claim" is that "God would not inflict punishment by way of severe weather events." he is claiming that moral philosophy trumps a well attested biblical world view. And what is one to make of the Bible's other well attested world view that God employs nature to specially bless individuals and nations? If one is going to argue that punishments that afflict whole cities or nations are indiscriminate and immoral what of divine actions that bestow natural blessings on whole cities or nations? Both are part and parcel of ancient worldviews of Israel and surrounding nations.

    If Randal wishes to delve even further he will be forced to note just how deep the divide and wide the gap is between the Ancient Near East and the wealth of modern knowledge/Information https://edwardtbabinski.us/scrivenings/2015/the-cultural-divide-between-ancient.html

  • "The real heresy of Marcion was not so much that he offended the Jews or interpreted Scripture differently than they did; it was that he put himself in the position of judging God and of redefining God when God didn't meet Marcion's standards."

    According to this analysis, "judging God" and "redefining God" are Marcionism. But that's not, in fact, how Marcionism is defined at all. To be sure, you're free to invent new definitions if you like, but such idiosyncrasies merely exclude you from the mainstream conversation.

  • Incorrect yet again. The denial of the Hebrew scriptures and the Hebrew God as a demiurge is indeed one of the hallmarks of Marcionism.

    As I already noted, you appear to use terms like "Marcionism" merely as derisive labels with no concern for their historical meaning. That's unhelpful.

  • Oh, and I'm still waiting to hear whether you think Gregory of Nyssa is a heretic, and if not, why not. Avoiding the question is cowardly.

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    If you were looking for an interpretive position that would make a lie of all of Judaism and Christianity, it would be hard to find a better candidate than "God does not make the innocent to suffer along with the guilty."

    Well-argued, and I have somewhat reluctantly come around to you on this point. The section in the OP about discriminate punishment does seem to be on shaky ground, from a Biblical perspective. From what I can tell, if there is a recurring Biblical theme on this question, perhaps it is more that we are "all in this together". The whole human family, innocent and guilty alike, is collectively enmeshed in the consequences of sin.

  • Kshos23

    What's important to keep in mind, though, is that the societies in ancient times were collectivistic and agonistic. To them, such a punishment would not have been unreasonable at all, and God did act in a way people expected Him to as well, at least expected in principle. Today, the social situation is different, and as such it may be the case that God chooses to respect contemporary developments in how society operates, so the recent series of hurricanes most likely is not anything like a divine punishment of some sort.

    And let's not forget that God exercised such punishments only if it also regarded His chosen people. Exodus happened because He had to free His people. The destruction of the Amalekites occured because they were agressors to Israel for centuries, and not just Israel but to it's neighbors as well. Israel was punished when it's people collectively and in a majority went against Him. Pretty much every time God actually intervenes in the world to punish anyone in a visible and obvious way, it has something important to do with the chosen people of Israel. Everyone else that didn't have anything to do with Israel was ignored.

  • Does God Punish People Through Natural Weather Events?

    I'm an atheist. I don't believe there is a God who punishes anybody by any method.

    • Husky Fan in Mass

      "And Scene"

    • Can you prove God does not nor cannot exist?

      • Can you prove God does not nor cannot exist?

        No.

        • Then why are you an Atheist?

          • Then why are you an Atheist?

            Because I don't think my inability to disprove a proposition obliges me to believe the proposition.

          • And that means you are ready to accept proof of God's necessary existence, yes?

          • And that means you are ready to accept proof of God's necessary existence, yes?

            Whether I will accept it depends on whether it's really a proof. If you show me an argument for God's existence, I won't believe it's a proof just because you say it is a proof.

          • Do you accept all evidence or just scientific evidence?

          • Do you accept all evidence or just scientific evidence?

            If it's truly evidence, then I would call it scientific evidence.

          • So historical evidence, for example, is scientific proof? How about evidence that raping a kid to death is evil? Would you deem such to be scientific evidence also?

          • So historical evidence, for example, is scientific proof?

            Whether there is such a thing as "scientific proof" depends on what you think it means for a fact to be proven.

            How about evidence that raping a kid to death is evil?

            Evidence applies to matters of fact. Issues about right and wrong are issues of value, not of fact.

          • What you think it means for a fact to be proven?

          • It means our reasons for believing it are of such a nature that it would intellectually perverse for us to believe otherwise.

          • Fantastic! Now, take a look at this: https://maxximiliann.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/are-bible-prophecies-vague-and-contemporary-daniel-9-24-27/

            In accordance with the hard facts presented, is it intellectually perverse to maintain that God absolutely does not nor simply cannot exist?

          • I don't believe that every sentence on that page is a statement of fact.

            As for God's existence, I'm not interested in claiming that anybody is being intellectually perverse. I have never said that God cannot exist, and I think those who do say it are mistaken, and I see no point in attempting any harsher judgment of them than that.

            I do not believe God exists, not because I think he cannot exist but because I have found no good reason to believe he does. Consequently, I think those who believe he does exist are mistaken. Whether their mistake is due to some intellectual perversion is of no concern to me, but I do not suspect it of most theists.

            We are all mistaken in some of our beliefs because we are human. No perversion is necessary, but in some cases it is contingently at work.

          • Exactly what factual errors did you discover within it?

          • Exactly what factual errors did you discover within it?

            Why should I bother? If I quote something and say it's a factual error, you'll just say, "No, it isn't."

          • If it's debatable doesn't that make it an opinion, not a fact?

          • If it's debatable doesn't that make it an opinion, not a fact?

            The history of science is a history of debates about matters of fact. Any purported statement of fact is either true or false, regardless of anyone's opinion, but reasonable people may have opposing opinions as to which is the case, and their efforts to defend those opinions are what constitutes debate.

          • So things like gravity, rain, cold and wind are not facts?

          • So things like gravity, rain, cold and wind are not facts?

            Is anybody arguing about whether they are?

          • Which means you concur that facts are undeniable realities of the real world, yes?

          • It means I think deniability by any human being is irrelevant to whether anything is or is not a fact.

          • Great!

            https://maxximiliann.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/are-bible-prophecies-vague-and-contemporary-daniel-9-24-27/

            So, with that settled, can you point out any of the errors you alluded to earlier?

          • can you point out any of the errors you alluded to earlier?

            Your article presupposes, and so by implication asserts, that the book of Daniel was written by its central character. I don't think that is a fact. I believe the book was a compilation of stories produced during the Maccabean period.

          • Even if correct, how exactly does that refute the reality of the book's prophetic content material?

          • how exactly does that refute the reality of the book's prophetic content material?

            I didn't say I was trying to refute that. But if your argument that there is such content doesn't have true premises, then you haven't proved your conclusion, and that's all the reason I need to not believe it.

          • Excepting that the information referred to is not a syllogism.

            Much rather, it is actually a discussion of every concrete historical fact which undeniably confirm both the certainty as well as the accuracy and reliability of meticulous prophecies, all of which happen to have been published many centuries before their unambiguous fulfillment, I may add.

            Unless, of course, you actually have unquestionable evidence which compels you to discount these. Do you?

          • Excepting that the information referred to is not a syllogism.

            I didn't say it was.

            it is actually a discussion of every concrete historical fact which undeniably confirm both the certainty as well as the accuracy and reliability of meticulous prophecies,

            They're not facts just because you say they are facts. I knew you'd try this, which is why I didn't want to get started, and I'm not going to continue until you offer a reason -- other than your say-so -- for me to believe that they are facts.

            Unless, of course, you actually have unquestionable evidence which compels you to discount these.

            The claim is yours to defend, not mine to refute. Until you give me a reason to believe, my unbelief is justified.

          • You're not making sense.

            It’s not a fact that many centuries in advance, Daniel’s prophecy pinpointed the exact year of the Messiah’s arrival?

            It’s also not a fact that hundreds of years ahead of time, Daniel’s prophecy identified the precise year of the Messiah’s murder together with the ensuing devastation of Jerusalem as well as its temple?

          • It’s not a fact that many centuries in advance, Daniel’s prophecy pinpointed the exact year of the Messiah’s arrival?

            You say it is. Tell me why I should believe you.

          • Take a closer look at each one of the particular elements of historical evidence for yourself: https://goo.gl/hZxPuL

          • Take a closer look

            All I see is more of the same. You say that such-and-such is a fact, and you say no more.

            We are where I said we would be. I say "That is not a fact," and you say, "Yes, it is." If you think your say-so makes it so, then further discussion will be a waste of everyone's time.

          • What is not a fact? Can you be a little less vague and more precise?

          • What is not a fact?

            I've already given you one example: your implied assertion about when and by whom the book of Daniel was written.

            Can you be a little less vague and more precise?

            Not until I have some assurance that you are prepared to offer a better defense than your say-so.

          • Are you perhaps hinting that the textual content of the book of Daniel was contemporary with Jesus?

          • Are you perhaps hinting that the textual content of the book of Daniel was contemporary with Jesus?

            I'd be hinting at my own ignorance if I tried that. Several copies, or fragments therefrom, were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some were paleographically dated to the late second century BCE.

            Among scholars not committed to scriptural inerrancy, the consensus seems to be that Daniel was written sometime during the Maccabean period. I have no problem questioning authorities, but on this particular issue, I have yet to find a reason to question them.

          • Given you recognize that the messianic prophecies documented in Daniel were in actual fact penned several centuries prior to Christ's anointing as the Messiah and ensuing murder, precisely how are they not concrete examples of fulfilled prophecy?

          • The author of Daniel made a prediction about what would happen to some "anointed one." In the Jewish nation, all kings and priests were anointed. His prediction was thus not sufficiently specific to count as foreknowledge of a particular event.

            Furthermore, Jesus of Nazareth, if he existed, was neither a king nor a priest. Orthodox Christianity, many years after his lifetime, declared him to be both, but the church's say-so didn't make it so.

          • Not "what would happen to some "anointed one"" but the exact year of the anointing and then murder of a potentate who would "put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place." (Daniel 9:24) The Gospels demonstrate precisely how Christ satisfied every one of these functions.

            What's more, he also expressly prophesied hundreds of years in advance the correct year of the proclamation of Jerusalem's reconstruction together with its holy Temple and then its later desolation by forces the Israelites would certainly see as revolting.

            Incidentally, the Roman governor of Judae right at that time, Pontius Pilate, recognized Christ's royalty as stated at John 19:19.

            In other words, try again ...

            Seriously, any kind of rationally oriented response would be warmly welcomed. Anything that just makes sense. Your posturings thus far are, in fact, looking dismal and quite pitiful at the moment ...

          • The Gospels demonstrate precisely how Christ satisfied every one of these functions.

            No, that is precisely how some Christians have interpreted the gospels.

            What's more, he also . . . .

            We're not ready for more yet.

          • That's your blunder, right there. Neither The Gospels nor the Bible was provided to us to be interpreted but to be examined carefully and put into practice.

          • Neither The Gospels nor the Bible was provided to us to be interpreted but to be examined carefully and put into practice.

            You say so. Why should I believe you?

          • Why not?

          • Because unbelief doesn't need a reason. Belief needs a reason.

          • But disbelief does.

            What exactly is behind your persistent incredulity despite all of the self-explanatory evidence that confronts you?

          • What exactly is behind your persistent incredulity

            A keen awareness of human fallibility.

          • Oh good. I thought you were going to point out some fatal flaw with the facts presented ...

            I guess it's true what they say:

            "Unbelief is as much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn't require much of anything at all." - F. Buechner

          • I thought you were going to point out some fatal flaw with the facts presented

            The flaw that I have attempted to point out is your failure to present any reason, aside from your say-so, for me to believe that they are facts.

          • So what exactly would you call confirmed ancient historical accounts?

          • I have no idea what you think "confirmed" means. Until you tell me, I can't answer that question.

          • 1. You've confirmed that Daniel was not composed contemporary to Jesus.
            2. The ancient historians John, Matthew, Mark, Luke confirm that Jesus was anointed in 29 CE, was murdered in 33 CE, as well as that he was called "King of the Jews ."
            3. The ancient historians Nehemiah and Ezra confirm that the proclamation to restore Jerusalem was emitted in 455 BCE after which it was fully rebuilt.
            4. Seeing as every one of these events were prophesied in Daniel before they occurred, its amanuensis is a prophet

          • 1. You've confirmed that Daniel was not composed contemporary to Jesus.

            I justifiably believe it. That is different from confirmation.

            2. The ancient historians John, Matthew, Mark, Luke confirm that Jesus was anointed in 29 CE, was murdered in 33 CE, as well as that he was called "King of the Jews ."

            I don't consider the gospel authors to have been historians.

            3. The ancient historians Nehemiah and Ezra confirm that the proclamation to restore Jerusalem was emitted in 455 BCE after which it was fully rebuilt.

            I have not confirmed the identities of the authors of those two books. I therefore do not know whether the events they reported actually happened.

          • So what exactly would you call an ancient writer who compiles a chronological record of past occurrences personally witnessed and/or witnessed by numerous contemporaries?

          • I might call them a historian if I knew who they were, but I have no reason to think the gospel authors used any information from any witnesses.

          • Shouldn't you, at a minimum, examine them before leaping to such bizarre conclusions?

          • Shouldn't you, at a minimum, examine them before leaping to such bizarre conclusions?

            Aside from my disagreeing with you, what makes you think I haven't?

          • Your lack of awareness and comprehension indicates you've never diligently examined the Bible in its entirety. If you had, you would most likely not be struggling with such elemental realities.

          • Your lack of awareness and comprehension indicates you've never diligently examined the Bible in its entirety.

            You call it "lack of awareness and comprehension," but it boils down to just my disagreeing with you. I know what I'm aware of, I know what I comprehend, and I know how much I've examined the Bible.

          • Then why are you having such a hard time with these basics?

          • I'm not having a hard time with anything. You are having a hard time understanding how anybody in his right mind could think you have made a mistake.

          • Sure you are: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/does_god_punish_people_through_natural_weather_events/#comment-3634641069

            This is pretty basic for those of us who have actually examined the Bible in full.

          • What mistake?

          • What mistake?

            Whenever someone disagrees with you, they must think you have made a mistake. Either that, or they think you're lying, but I am not accusing you of lying.

          • Then to what mistake of mine are you referring?

          • Have you been paying any attention at all? Have you not noticed anything that I have disagreed with you about?

          • And I'm still waiting for you to prove any of your specious claims ...

          • My only claim is that you have provided no support for your claims. It is as if you think yourself infallible, that whatever you say must be true just because you say it.

          • “Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ―myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ―myth’ theories.” ―The New Testament Documents, F. F. Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, England

            "No one. No one in scholarly circles dealing with ancient Judaism and early Christianity, of any religious or non―religious persuasion holds the view that Jesus never existed. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own truth.”—Larry Hurtado, former Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology (University of Edinburgh)

            "Jesus did more than just exist. He said and did a great many things that most historians are reasonably certain we can know about today. .... A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today ― in the academic world at least ― gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat." ―M A Powell

            "Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3―year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity." – Unknown

            "There is something so pure and frank and noble about Him that to doubt His sincerity would be like doubting the brightness of the sun." ―― Charles Edward Jefferson

            Infallibility not required :D

          • Infallibility not required :D

            But changing the subject apparently is.

          • It goes to refute your specious claim that the Gospels amanuensis were not historians.

          • In several ways D.S. here and A.G. at https://www.str.org/blog/was-jesus-just-great-teacher-video#.Wh_ZFEqnFPY offer the same sort of uneven-handed applications of historicity, which spills over into other topics, as per the provided links in the comments.

            As for the actual topic of R. Rauser, the conclusion presented by Rauser fits for the reasons he gives, which is fine as far as it goes. However, his conclusion is in fact necessary. The reason is that one must juxtapose the ontic weight of “….a tree fell on so-and-so’s house…” one the one hand and the ontic weight of All Sufficiency’s Self-Outpouring, as per the all-encompassing cosmic significance of Christ, on the other hand. Now, IF one is claiming that God punishes – achieves Justice – via Broken-Roof, well then one is aligning that alongside of Christ and in both counts one is claiming that God is providing an actual Means – a broken roof vs. Christ and so on – to an actual End – Perfect Mercy & Perfect Justice. The absurdity of the clearly false identity claim there is immediately apparent. One must so dilute and equivocate on the word “punish” in order for that identity claim to work that one is, in the end, unintelligible.

            That is all on the term “punish”.

            However, there is more, such as the term “gratuitous”. Given the Christian’s metaphysic there is no possibility of the finally purposeless, or we can also call it the non-transcendental, given the reality of God's Hand, or, simply, given the reality of God. That is the missing substrate in all Non-Theistic attempts in their own paradigm to provide metrics for the term gratuitous, as Non-Theism is a paradigm in which vectors cannot be other than thoroughly non-transcendental or finally gratuitous on all fronts. At some ontological seam somewhere all claims of Good trade upon cosmic indifference such that the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals is finally illusory.

            Whereas, given the Triune God and the whole of the Christian metaphysic – as opposed to, say, the metaphysic of Islam or Pantheism or Non-Theism and so on – yes one must do one’s homework – and given God’s Decree of the Imago Dei, and given that He is the A to Z, we come upon a state of affairs in which *whether* He forces X *or* allows X, all X's cannot land in any other hard-stop other than that all-encompassing Meaning Maker alluded to earlier.

          • Your point?

          • Sorry, the 1st paragraph was simply an observation of the similarities between Doug & the linked items. The rest was then a few observations as to why Rauser’s conclusion is not just true but necessarily true.

          • It goes to refute your specious claim that the Gospels amanuensis were not historians.

            It does nothing of the sort.

          • Forgive me if I take the opinions of actual historians over your quaint musings ...

          • Forgive me if I take the opinions of actual historians over your quaint musings ...

            No problem, if you will forgive me if I don't think someone is a historian just because you say they are a historian.

          • David Nickol

            It goes to refute your specious claim that the Gospels amanuensis were not historians.

            According to the Merriam-Webster (Online) Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of amanuensis is as follows:

            one who is employed to write from dictation or to copy what another has written : secretary

            You statement doesn't make grammatical sense unless you meant "Gospel's amanuensises," that is, the amanuenses (plural) who wrote the Gospels down. But I don't think you believe somebody dictated the Gospels.

            Maybe the word you intended is redactor, which means (basically) "editor." Almost every biblical scholar believes the Gospel authors engaged in some redaction—that is, in editing material passed down to them.

            The evangelists (as the very name implies) were not historians. They were preachers. This is the case whether every event in the Gospels happened exactly the way the evangelists described it or not.

          • "For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit." - 2 Peter 1:21

            "All Scripture is inspired of God." - 2 Timothy 3:16

            So, yes, all 40 of the Bible penman were, in fact, Jehovah God's amanuensises, thus making Him its Divine Author.

          • I have not confirmed the identities of the authors of those two books. I therefore do not know whether the events they reported actually happened.

            [sic]

            Then get to work :)

          • I've been working at this for over 50 years. If you think I've missed something, you'll have to tell me what.

          • To repeat a claim is not to support it.

          • Gary Torkeo

            No. It is your need to win overriding your search for truth.

          • I know what I need and I know what I'm searching for.

          • Gary Torkeo

            Then we agree. Thank you.

          • David Nickol

            Neither The Gospels nor the Bible was provided to us to be interpreted but to be examined carefully and put into practice.

            The only way to deal with any text, from the Bible, to the Constitution, to a grocery list, is to interpret it. Aren't you aware that you are giving us interpretations of the Bible in practically every message you write? Claiming Mary had more than one son because Jesus is referred to as her "firstborn son" is nothing if not an interpretation. And an incorrect one, too! And your interpretation of Daniel 9, besides being an interpretation, is an interpretation of Daniel interpreting Jeremiah.

            There was an interesting scene on The Good Doctor this week in which a robber has three people in a convenience store (plus the owner) at gunpoint, and the first thing he says to them is, "Keep your hands where I can see them or I'll shoot?" Then he says, "Hand me your cell phones and your wallets!" The doctor, who is autistic, is paralyzed by confusion because, as he explains, he can't take out his cell phone or his wallet without putting his hands somewhere the gunman can't see them. (One can imagine Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory in a similar situation.) The point is that the two statements of the robber have to be interpreted. The second demand to hand over cell phones and wallets obviously is an exception, but the only exception, to the demand to keep hands where they can be seen.

          • Gary Torkeo

            If you question whether Jesus existed you have just lost all credibility.

          • I'm not offering my personal credibility as a reason to believe anything I say.

          • David Nickol

            Contemporary biblical scholars do not read Daniel the way you do. Here is a small example from the NAB—text and notes for Daniel 9:25-27:

            25 Know and understand: From the utterance of the word that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt* Until there is an anointed ruler, there shall be seven weeks. In the course of sixty-two weeks it shall be rebuilt, With squares and trenches, in time of affliction.

            26 After the sixty-two weeks an anointed one* shall be cut down with no one to help him. And the people of a leader who will come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. His end shall come in a flood; until the end of the war, which is decreed, there will be desolation.

            27 For one week* he shall make a firm covenant with the many; Half the week he shall abolish sacrifice and offering; In their place shall be the desolating abomination until the ruin that is decreed is poured out upon the desolator.”

            * [9:25] From the utterance…to be rebuilt: from the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Anointed ruler: either Cyrus, who was called the anointed of the Lord to end the exile (Is 45:1), or the high priest Jeshua who presided over the rebuilding of the altar of sacrifice after the exile (Ezr 3:2). Seven weeks: forty-nine years, an approximation of the time of the exile. In the course of sixty-two weeks…rebuilt: a period of four hundred thirty-four years, roughly approximating the interval between the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile and the beginning of the Seleucid persecution.

            * [9:26] An anointed one: the high priest Onias III, murdered in 171 B.C., from which the author dates the beginning of the persecution. Onias was in exile when he was killed. A leader: Antiochus IV.

            * [9:27] One week: the final phase of the period in view, the time of Antiochus’ persecution. He: Antiochus himself. The many: the faithless Jews who allied themselves with the Seleucids; cf. 1 Mc 1:11–13. Half the week: three and a half years; the Temple was desecrated by Antiochus from 167 to 164 B.C. The desolating abomination: see note on 8:13; probably a pagan altar. Jesus refers to this passage in his prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in Mt 24:15.

            The figures you associate with Jesus (and use translations that incorrectly translate "anointed one" as "Messiah") are identified by the NAB as historical figures from well before the time of Jesus. What you call "prophecies" written by Daniel are actually Daniel's accounts of historical events.

            ADDED LATER: Your task, it seems to me, in responding to this, is to cite some respected scholarly sources that do not identify the "anointed" referred to in Daniel as historical figures.

          • “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place." - Daniel 9:24

            Seventy weeks of years works out to 490 years.

            When you take a couple of minutes to simply do the arithmetic for yourself, you'll quickly discover that the only explanation that fits is the one made available to you earlier: http://prntscr.com/hezut1

          • David Nickol

            Seventy weeks of years works out to 490 years.

            Daniel is expounding on a prophecy of Jeremiah (25:11-12):

            This whole land shall be a ruin and a waste. Seventy years these nations shall serve the king of Babylon; but when the seventy years have elapsed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation and the land of the Chaldeans for their guilt—oracle of the LORD. Their land I will turn into everlasting waste.

            The Jewish Study Bible note to Daniel 7:24 reads as follows:

            Seventy weeks [of years], that is, 490 years, the true prediction of Jeremiah according to this interpretation (see v. 2 and n). This interpretation is based on reading a single word in Jer. 24:11-12 in two different ways, as "shav'ium" (weeks) and "shiv'im" (seventy). Such close textual study and revocalizations of texts for interpretative purposes would characterize later rabbinic interpretation.

            I will reproduce Jer. 7:2 and its footnote here:

            . . . in the first year of his [Darius son of Ahsuerus] reign, I, Daniel, consulted the books concerning the number of years that, according to the world of the Lord that had come to Jeremiah the prophet, were to be the term of Jerusalem's desolation—seventy years.

            [Note]: The author grapples with the prophetic prediction in Jer. 25:11-12 that Babylon would fall after seventy years. . . .

            So be it 70 years (Jeremiah) or 70 weeks of years (Daniel), how do we determine the starting point? If the starting point is in the time of Jeremiah, as it would seem logical to assume, he belongs to the 7th century B.C. Even 490 years does not get you from the time of Jeremiah to the time of Jesus.

          • With the exception that God doesn't make use of language to obfuscate.

            In the framework of their writings, both Jeremiah's as well as Daniel's words and phrases signify just what they say.

            Why insist on trying to find the cat's fifth paw?

          • So you don't believe in moral facts?

          • So you don't believe in moral facts?

            No, I don't. I believe in moral values. It is a fact that we have values, but values themselves are not facts. They are judgments.

      • Yes.

        In order to even consider the possibility that a god exists, we first need a coherent concept of god. The traditional notion of god in classical theism is that of a timeless, changeless, immaterial mind, who also must be infinitely good, infinitely wise, and can do anything logically possible. There are some variations on this concept, but almost all traditional or classical theistic gods have these basic characteristics. The problem is that a timeless, changeless being by definition cannot do anything; it's necessarily causally impotent and nonfunctional. Change requires time, and time requires change. This is logically certain. And to create something, one must do something. Doing requires a change, regardless of whether that change is mental or physical. A being that cannot do anything cannot be omnipotent. As a result, the traditional notion of god is self contradictory. The theist's only resort here is special pleading. That's why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. That is, god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible. Once a theist agrees with this, they've cut themselves off from special pleading as an option. Some theists think god is atemporal before creating the universe, and temporal after creating the universe. But it isn't logically possible to exist timelessly and then suddenly jolt yourself into time out of your own will, because your will was timeless and frozen. It couldn't change into the state to want to change.

        The failure of theists to come up with a coherent description of god is enough by itself to warrant atheism, but there's many more reasons to think no gods exist.

        • This conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time. This glaringly misguided reductionistic perspective ignores the reality that a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterward, entirely devoid of any material occurrence. That is to say, there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity, regardless of whether that instance is not in material time.

          • No, it has to do with the fact that change requires time, and time requires change. This is logically certain. Special pleading will not rescue you out of this.

          • Our prehension of time is the perception of time as a continual stream which is without interlude and is as a result immeasurable. It is the perception of movements and of time’s flow (Ever hear the expression "a watched pot doesn't boil"?).

            In effect, timepieces really do not detect time. “Time” per se is a metaphysical conception which means it simply cannot be identified by any physical measurement neither is it be modified in any form or manner by a physical effect.

            Clocks operate by simply monitoring the perpetual relationship between mass and space termed the conservation of momentum together with angular momentum. Time absolutely does not move the universe, but as you see the movement of the universe can be quite beautifully universalized into the metaphysical perception of time.

          • You aren't refuting the logical fact that change requires time and time requires change, and to do something, requires change. This is true regardless of what metaphysics you hold on to. All your word salad answers will not change that fact.

          • Rob Abney

            Are you using timeless to describe eternity or infinity? Classical theism doesn't describe God as timeless.

            But since God is infinite, comprehending in Himself all the plenitude of perfection of all being, He cannot acquire anything new, nor extend Himself to anything whereto He was not extended previously. Hence movement (or change) in no way belongs to Him.

            Thus eternity is known from two sources: first, because what is eternal is interminable--that is, has no beginning nor end (that is, no term either way); secondly, because eternity has no succession, being simultaneously whole.

          • Are you using timeless to describe eternity or infinity? Classical theism doesn't describe God as timeless.

            Yes it does.

            But since God is infinite, comprehending in Himself all the plenitude of perfection of all being, He cannot acquire anything new, nor extend Himself to anything whereto He was not extended previously. Hence movement (or change) in no way belongs to Him.

            So god cannot acquire a physical body in the form of Jesus?

            Thus eternity is known from two sources: first, because what is eternal is interminable--that is, has no beginning nor end (that is, no term either way); secondly, because eternity has no succession, being simultaneously whole.

            That means that god cannot do anything since to do something requires a change, even if it's mental.

          • Rob Abney

            Yes it does.

            Can you show me where God is described as timeless?
            I think you have an interesting objection about Jesus' physical body but before discussing that you have to to have the qualifying terms defined.

          • What kind of source would satisfy you? Every classical theist knows god has traditionally been defined as timeless.

          • Rob Abney

            If you don't have a source then just give your definition of timeless.

          • Doesn't exist in time, changeless, non-temporal.

          • Rob Abney

            Your definition needs further definition. Aquinas' definition of infinity says that God is infinite it meaning that He doesn't change because He's already extended to every possibility so it is not possible to change to another. Aquinas' definition of eternity means, similarly, that all possibilities exist at once to Him.
            And he explains why and how these are attributed to God.

          • Gary Torkeo

            Come on "thinker"...think. Don't just try to win. Seek truth. He wouldn't be God if he changed. Been proven time and again.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Thinker is confusing causation with change.

            "The problem is that a timeless, changeless being by definition cannot do anything; it's necessarily causally impotent and nonfunctional. Change requires time, and time requires change. This is logically certain. And to create something, one must do something."

            Yes, change in the form of motion requires time in the physical cosmos. But, if one is not a total materialist, he would realize that it is the effect that is created or changed, not the Cause.

            As eternal NOW, God creates from all eternity whatever He wills to create. All such effects take place in the creature and entail neither change nor becoming on the part of the Creator.

            This makes God, not impotent, but omnipotent.

          • Then god isn't god.

          • Gary Torkeo

            You're right...but God is God.
            Thanks for the help.

          • You're being asked to embrace [god] = [God] for no good reason. http://disq.us/p/1p3pk0i

          • Gary Torkeo

            Thank you. You've proved my point. Anyone who can shrug off thousands of years of monotheistic wisdom and the ocean of Christian brilliance as simply "no reason" is obviously dug in and not truly seeking...you are just splashing around in the puddle of atheism.
            You are no more open minded or rational than the "young earthers". Just the other side of the same coin. No talking or reasoning with you. Your regurgitating factoids that have been spoon fed to you and trying to disguise it as thought.
            It may be harder for you than some but please keep trying.
            As for me...I'll shake your dust off my boots and not look back.
            Thanks again.

          • Agree. T-Thinker's straw-man "god" is unnecessary given the easy availability of and coherence of the Trinitarian metaphysic within Christendom. He'd do better to actually interact with the actual *GOD* of said metaphysic.

          • No god or "God" is god or "God".

          • Interesting. It seems you're being asked to unjustifiably believe that no "A" is "Non-A" and no "Non-A" is "A" and presumably because neither "A" nor "Non-A" exists. We are apparently supposed to carry on "as-if" the concepts, linguistics, perceptions, and contingent frames of reference are all themselves not also in the mix of that which is far, far wider.

            Well, not to worry. If the Non-Theist's straw-man exists, and it does, well then there is that which it is a straw-man of. And so we have come back to where we started: Two differing sets of concepts, linguistics, perceptions, and contingent frames of reference which are themselves also in the mix of that which is far, far wider.

            As in: All logical progressions are forced into the lap of the Conscious Observer, whether such is Necessary & All-Subsuming or else Contingent & All-Eliminating, and, therefore, our Non-Theist friends must be sure, again, to reconstruct for us that particular Reference Frame. How uncanny that the Absolute’s Own Reference Frame necessarily sums to Self-Reference and, also, how curious that the Non-Theist to often misses the unavoidable fact that the Absolute houses a fundamental relationship with — not SOME — but ALL frames of reference whether Possible or Actual.

        • As I'm sure you're well aware, all of matter is present in a state of continuous flux. This is particularly observable at the atomic level. Given that this uncaused cause is immaterial it is not governed by the same forces that alter matter, and so, is unchanging relative to our material universe.

          • This is a logical principle not a material one. So saying god is immaterial means nothing.

          • And yet it is God's immaterial nature which makes his changelessness completely logical.

          • No it doesn't because to do something still requires time, even if that doing is all mental and immaterial in nature.

          • Change IS time and time IS change. You're making a distinction without a difference. Try again.

          • Is it logically possible to do something without change?

          • When creating or evaluating whether or not a concept is rational, it’s imperative that you take inventory of what type of possibility you are looking to demonstrate.

            If you confuse your categories, you’ll very likely discount meaningful logical propositions simply because they’re causally extravagant, or dread doubtful causal scenarios when they make logical sense.

            Which means that, obviously, relatively speaking, it is definitely possible to do anything without relative change.

          • Forget relative change, what about any change?

            Is it possible to do something without any change?

          • Yup. Take you, for instance, we've been having this debate for years yet you still haven't changed :)

          • Oh I've gotten smarter. But I recall you telling me the world was going to end by now, looks like another failed prophesy. Seems like my question is too hard for you.

          • Nope, wasn't me. Try again.

          • You're Joseph Polanco, stop lying.

            Still can't answer my question?

          • Then feel free to quote me. Time to put up or ...

          • Still can't answer my question? Looks like you can't answer it. I thought so..

          • BCE

            You're right, but do you sacrifice logic and science for atheism?
            First all things, you've said, have matter. Thoughts, arise from
            the physical brain, and electrons have physicality(act as particles).
            Once there is more than one particle, you have space/time.

            But God, is not gravity, electro-magnetism, the strong, or week force.
            God is not a particle
            You need not concede there is a god(s).
            Say there is no god, and concede what god is is up to those who believe.
            Reverting to..."still requires time" [even if] "mental and immaterial" seems to betray the fact that there is no "immaterial" and you don't recognize anything without matter.

          • This is a deep confusion on your part. I'm simply saying, if an immaterial thing could exist, my logic still applies, because it is not dependent on materialism being true. A square circle cannot exist, regardless of materialism/immaterialism. Do you realize that I don't have to concede materialism in order to show that even an immaterial being - should it exist - cannot do the logically impossible? Do you get this?

          • BCE

            What I get is an insult, which I expect.
            I understand the premise.
            I get your modal
            as though I said *if* true red and yellow makes green, then green minus yellow makes red
            I understood your statement, and that you are making a logic statement
            and valid syntax
            But You don't except Maxx's premise nor the immaterial
            so ya it matters because you're arguing your own premise, from
            what you know as valid physics and general and special relativity, you are not arguing an immaterial god.
            Now you can do that, but you are not arguing Maxx's point

          • I think you got an explanation. Maxx's premise is that god is immaterial, I told him, and you, that that's irrelevant. I'm not arguing from physics, I'm arguing from logic. It's a priori, not a posteriori. And that's exactly what I just explained in my last comment that I thought you got. Seems after my last comment you're still not getting it.

  • But Gods previous acts of mass destruction seemed unproportuonal and indiscriminate.

    It seems unlikely that all humanity and other life on earth was so bad that it needed to be drowned. Except for those married to or descended from the Noah clan. Noah's siblings, parents, cousins. Deserving of watery death. Kids betrothed, worthy of saving. Newborns? Watery death. And what did the animals in Australia ever do?

    It doesn't seem that all those Egyptian children or Hebrew kids whose parents didn't wipe the blood of a sacrificed animal were so wrong that they cannot be suffered to live.

    Or that when Uzzah dared to be so evil that he steadied the ark of the covenant he was struck down dead for his lack of ... why was he killed again?

    In any event there are thousands whos deaths seem indiscriminate and unproportional in the Bible. Indeed this is the case of all suffering. It seems quite often gratuitous and cruel given God can prevent it with no effort. Yet we are assured there are good reasons to faithfully trust that it is all necessary for ultimate good that your cat got cancer and Buddy Holly died in a fiery crash.

    So by what secret knowledge can anyone advance that THESE seemingly indiscriminate and unproportional weather patterns are not perfectly discriminate and proportional to some unknown evil that must be punished?

  • I mean is not Sodom and Gomorrah evidence that God indeed would punish unproportionally and indiscriminately? Did he not talk to Abraham about how many innocents it would take for him to spare the cities? Did he not spare Lot's daughters who then went on to commit incest with their father?

    • Rob Abney

      is not Sodom and Gomorrah evidence that God indeed would punish unproportionally and indiscriminately

      That doesn't prove indiscrimination or non-proportionatness, it actually supports both. Abraham was unable to find as few as 10 righteous men in the whole place, Lot's wife was given the grace to leave but couldn't decide to go definitively with God, then the daughters proved to be unrighteous also.

      • Oh so god didn't know lots daughters didn't deserve to be saved?

        How do you know the same isnt...

        Actually, who cares? I don't think anyone on this site from either side thinks this weather is god's wrath and maybe Jim Baker and his barrels of mushroom soup aren't worth our attention.

        • Rob Abney

          I was interested in discussing the Sodom and Gomorrah story because it has a lot to teach us, but I agree with your sentiment about this current event and wanted to be careful not to seem to pass judgement on anyone, especially those in tragic circumstances.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            "...because it has a lot to teach us..."

            Please tell me that the pun was intended!

          • Happy to discuss that, is what it has to teach that a righteous man who is worth saving should offer his daughters up as fodder to a crowd of rapists to save men who are strangers from that fate?

            Or that sometimes the best thing to do is to destroy whole cities if they are bad enough?

          • Rob Abney

            If we were to discuss it then we would probably need to go deeper than that. Why would anyone come away with such an interpretation unless he just wanted to be hostile to the story.

          • It's the plain reading of the story. God decides he is going to nuke two cities because they are so bad. He sends two angels for some reason to save Lot and his family. The men gather outside lot's house ask for the two angels to be sent out so they can have their way with them. Lot says take my virgin daughters instead, the mob says no.

            Lot is saved because he is a righteous man, despite his offer. They leave, god kills everyone in the city. The daughters get Lot drunk and have sex with him.

            I dont think any of this happened. Rather it is a story told to malign some group said to be descended from Lots daughters.

            It's an awful story and no one behaves well in it.

            What's your take?

          • Rob Abney

            My take is that the unrighteous had turned against God and would even try to do harm to His messengers. Lot and his family were spared by an act of mercy but still had a difficult time accepting the need to align with God.

            If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. —Matthew 10:14-15

          • I'm sorry, there is virtually nothing in the story about people turning away from God. We are never told what the citizens did that was wrong or why god had to kill every man woman and child.

            Sure that is part of the story but the offer to get be your daughters to a mob to be raped overshadows all of that as does the daughters drugging and procreating with their father.

            Give me a break.

          • Rob Abney

            Have you read the book of Genesis? Of course it is about God, that's what the whole bible is about.

          • so what is the point of Lot offering up his daughters to be raped and then God sparing him? Why mercy for that monster, but for his wife who dared to look back, instant death?

          • Rob Abney

            Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac also. In both cases Abraham and Lot chose God over family. God wants sacrifice, for us to be willing to give up what is most dear to us at the moment. That is what all sacrifice is and sacrifice almost always ends up improving us. Lot's wife was presented as being unsure that she wanted to give up everything.

          • So it is sometimes good to offer your children to be raped?

            God condoned and approved of this act?

            Do you really not think this is monstrous?

          • Rob Abney

            I do think that it is monstrous, but maybe it is less monstrous than sacrificing God's messengers to a mob.
            What about Lot as God's child, he has been offered as a victim to the unrighteous of Sodom, so you would consider God monstrous for allowing that in the first place. But in the end the message of the story is to trust in God.

          • But it wasn't a Sofie's Choice situation! He had the option to just to deny this mob anyone to rape. But he had the idea of not sacrificing but offering his children. Notice he did not offer himself. Notice his girls were not volunteering. He thought of them as property Worse he thought of them as meat to be sent to satisfy wolves until he could save his own hide.

            If god cared about Lot and his family and wanted to save them, he could have just whisked them away. He could have done what he did in Egypt and just kill those he wanted to. God was never in danger of losing Lot to this mob. Instead God seems to have some interest in letting this sick drama play out.

            This is what confronts you with this story. It is no surprise that when it was recently dramatized for television this part was left out and replaced with the two angels killing the inhabitants with swords and Kung fu.

            its a myth and like many myths it's pretty messed up by today's standards.

          • Rob Abney

            its a myth and like many myths it's pretty messed up by today's standards.

            If it's a myth then it should have something important to teach us in a universal way, but you call it a myth and yet read it as if it is a modern report from your local newspaper.
            In my opinion it is the most difficult lesson of the bible, deny everything that you hold the most dear in this world to follow God.

          • If it's a myth then it should have something important to teach us in a universal way,

            Not necessarily. What myths teach us is what their creators believed about the origins of their society.

          • Rob Abney

            I'm not an expert on myths but what I understand is that a truth exists and a myth is one way to convey that truth.

          • what I understand is that a truth exists and a myth is one way to convey that truth.

            Many people share that understanding. It seems to be quite popular, actually. But many others disagree, and I think they have the better arguments on their side.

          • But in the end the message of the story is to trust in God.

            The message I get is: Do what you are told; do exactly what you are told.

          • Rob Abney

            We both got the same message, just worded differently.

          • When an authority gives me an order that I'm disinclined to obey, my willingness to comply could depend on how much I trust the authority. But when the authority is a man who says, "This order comes from God," I'm probably not going to trust him at all.

          • Rob Abney

            You might be surprised at who you would trust when your life depended upon it.

          • If I perceive that my disobedience will result in my certain death, then I'll probably do what I'm told, but it won't be because I trust the authority. It will be because in such a situation, I'll have nothing to lose.

          • Rob Abney

            That pretty much sums up the story. But Lot's wife still chose the more dangerous way.

          • That pretty much sums up the story. But Lot's wife still chose the more dangerous way.

            The story gives me no indication that she had any reason to suspect that looking back would cause her immediate death.

          • Lot's wife was presented as being unsure that she wanted to give up everything.

            The story says not a word about her motivations for looking back. All it says is that she did look back after being told not to. The plain reading is that she was punished for a trivial disobedience, nothing more.

          • Rob Abney

            Why would a story that has withstood the test of time, that has been told for thousands of years include someone being punished for a trivial disobedience? If its not an important part of the story it could just be omitted many years ago.
            Instead of a plain reading try a lectio divina approach.

          • Instead of a plain reading try a lectio divina approach.

            Lectio divina presupposes that the Bible is God's word. That is not an option for atheists.

            Why would a story that has withstood the test of time, that has been told for thousands of years include someone being punished for a trivial disobedience?

            I think there are several possible explanations. The one that comes first to my mind is that the story was preserved and transmitted by people in positions of authority with an interest in promoting the idea that obedience to authority was A Good Thing.

          • Rob Abney

            The story was not only transmitted by those in authority but also by those who recognized that there was an ultimate authority.

          • The story was not only transmitted by those in authority but also by those who recognized that there was an ultimate authority.

            That's the orthodox account of its transmission. It presupposes some facts that I don't think are in evidence.

          • Sample1

            Do you think it is moral to demand that someone kill their child as an expression of love to them? I cannot believe that you do.

            Do you think it is moral to demand that someone forsake their family as an expression of love to them? I cannot believe that you do.

            Lastly, do you think your own parents would have killed you as a demand to express their love to God? If not, what would have happened to them? And if so, what would you have thought about that?

            Mike
            Edit done

          • Rob Abney

            Do you think it is moral to demand that someone kill their child as an expression of love to them? I cannot believe that you do.
            Do you think it is moral to demand that someone forsake their family as an expression of love to them? I cannot believe that you do.

            I do not propose that it is a moral act for a human to demand such actions. But, I think what you are really asking is, if it is moral for God to demand such actions.
            Morality is about ordering our actions according to our nature as human beings, it doesn’t apply to animals because they have different natures. In the same way it doesn’t apply to God because His nature is much different than humans.

            Lastly, do you think your own parents would have killed you as a demand to express their love to God?

            It’s surprising to me that you would ask such personally probing questions when you expressed such moral outrage previously when I asked a poster at EN how he was feeling now that he had not harmed himself.

            But the answer to your question is that I have no idea how they would respond, and I don’t think anyone can say how he/she would respond in a similar situation.Even Jesus Christ was reluctant to complete His great sacrifice. Sacrifice is very difficult even when great things will result from it.

          • Sample1

            In much the same way as our ancestors claimed (wrongly) that our planet was at the center of creation I believe the current investigations into non-human animal behaviors will someday be shown that morality isn't patented by man alone. I believe our morality comes via evolution and arguments by philosophers and scientists are being made that the rudiments of morality (empathy and fairness) if not the core principles, can be seen in other animals as diverse as orangutans to chickens and mice to elephants.

            We do agree that actions taken by the Islamic/Jewish/Christian God would not be moral actions if taken by human beings. Full stop. Of course, I don't believe in gods or God but if I did I'm pretty sure I'd not want any part of them or Him. My morality requires that. A morality that is claimed (by people here) to be grounded in the Almighty yet a morality that finds no expression in the Almighty.

            I suppose one way I could pretzel-logic an understanding would be to admit and acquiesce to that I was created, quite literally, a slave. Yes, a slave would work. And yet I'm told I'm made in the image of my master?

            It's a pickle. The image of God. It's a pickle that makes instant sense anthropologically but one that is still taking millennia to sort out theologically. All said, it's not my problem though I live with the consequences of those whose problem it is.

            I don’t think anyone can say how he/she would respond in a similar situation

            Perhaps. But what can be said is how one would hope to respond and how one would hope to be asked (or not asked). An answer, though, is already given by your uncertainty and for that you've done much better in my eyes than either Abraham or his God.

            Mike
            Edit done

          • Rob Abney

            You seem to say that someday in the future we will understand non-human animal morality although we don't now; yet at the same time you seem to say that we do understand God's morality already. Why the preference, why not say we don't understand either one because the natures are so different from ours?

            I was created, quite literally, a slave. Yes, a slave would work. And yet I'm told I'm made in the image of my master?

            If you have intellect and will, the ability to reason and to love, then yes you were made in the image of your master but you are enslaved in this material existence for now.

          • BCE

            The bible as cultural anthropology psychology, philosophy and spirituality, its style, intensity, etc. are intended to draw the reader into exposing their own complicated relationship, sufferings, sacrifices, excuses, longings and fears.
            The themes are often repeated.
            People(good/bad) making choices( selfless and self-serving) reflex and reflective.
            As was, and is, the people are flawed, that's important.

            Rob is very generous. You might consider that.

          • There is nothing complicated going on in the story of Sodom and Gommorah. It is a story told by ancients about two cities God destroyed because they had done something he didn't like. We aren't told what because this God doesn't care so much about substance, its disobedience He has an issue with.

            The myth contains the story of Lot which is a justification for later Hebrews to war with the Moabites. I.e. Is okay to war with these Jews they come from a city god destroyed from two evil girls Lot tried to throw to the wolves.

            Like all of Genesis it is hobbled from multiple sources which explains why there are seeming contradictions.

          • BCE

            You don't get it( not necessarily the interpretation, while I do disagree)
            but your tenacity and bulling.
            Your response lacks insight, your no Joseph Campbell
            It's an admission, you're mocking the content, and style of ancient Semitic text, thought, and culture. You can't escape, you're mocking Semites.
            But I actually don't even believe that's your intent, despite that's what you are actually doing; if you were engaging a Navajo instead of Rob, in the same way, it would be plain.
            I get one thing from you, what I expected.
            So let's move on to 'Three Little Pigs' it has a wolf and a blow-hard.
            Now that's a moral lesson story you can sink your teeth into.

          • Well you are making personal attacks on me but not actually disagreeing with me.

            The fact of this story and it's place in the Bible it unavoidable.

            It's easily understandable in its context as myth and justification for conflict with the Moabites.

            What does not make sense is the story in the theological context of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent deity. The whole episode is irrelevant to a morality tale and the morality of the whole S&G narrative is extremely vague and confusing in the context of the OT and especially the NT.

            What are we to make of a morality that takes as a fundamental principle to love ones enemies but also that some conduct is so reprehensible that it deserves genocidal elimination. The claim that this is the prerogative of a creator is even more disturbing but fits well within the morals of antiquity in which slavery and parental authority to execute ones children for disobedience was not considered terribly problematic.

            For a truly interesting treatment of incest and hubris and responsibility we do not need to approach modern time. We find it in Oedipus. There is also disturbing events but unlike Genesis this is psychologically compelling.

            The kings misdeeds were unknown to him yet the discord causes harms until it is confronted. We find hubris, tragedy and accountability. We don't find that in Genesis. Rather we find confusing often repeated stories. A hodge podge of origin stories and cultural legends which as this exchange shows, is often very difficult to fit into present sensibilities and theologies.

          • BCE

            I'm challenging you, an atheist to argue or present something other than
            the same redundant...god is bad..he drowns children....god doesn't care...
            ..Newborns watery death..

            If in the face of a natural disaster, like the hurricane, Christians might claim it's a sign of Gods justified wrath...the article.
            As an atheist, can you discuss how insensitive that is to the victims,
            the psychological impact of blame.....
            Instead of baiting others into your discussion of ...if god was really good why would he... let me show you the 101 ways the bible is wrong....
            can you consider some other contribution other than you think the
            God of the Jews is irrational, unjust, uncaring...

          • Actually rob and I had that discussion and I expressly stated that I didn't think any of the theists or atheist believed this was divine retribution and that Jim Baker wasn't worth our time.

            Rob said he wanted to discuss Lot so we did.

            Rob suggested there was a good moral lesson in the story but agreed it was monstrous but maybe not as bad as Lot sacrificing himself. i argued that this does not redeem the story in any way.

            I don't know what point you are trying to make.

            I don't see at all what is wrong with pointing out the horrific conduct attributed to God in the Bible or in debating various apologetics that try to reconcile them with current interpretations.

            These arguments are not redundant. They are important. Many Christians want to ignore or whitewash these passages. They want to cherry pick those that fit their morality.

            I say these dark passages are troubling and problematic for Christians and the common response of "view it through the lens of everything god does is always somehow good" is a pretty desperate appeal to skeptical theism that really renders the whole Bible useless as a guide to God's nature and intentions for humanity.

          • BCE

            Then I apologize, I missed where Rob had solicited the thread.
            After a few comments I thought you were dogging him, rather than a friendly volley

          • Of course it is about God, that's what the whole bible is about.

            It conveys some ideas that its authors had about God. Why should I believe that those ideas were accurate?

          • Rob Abney

            Because the whole bible, which is more like a library than a book and with many different authors has one subject, GOD.

          • My local library has a section of several books by many authors on one subject: astrology. Compiling those books into a single volume would add zero credibility to astrology.

          • Rob Abney

            A better comparison would be all the love stories in the library, they have one central subject- Love, but many ways to tell the story.

          • A better comparison would be all the love stories in the library

            What makes it better? When I asked why I should believe the Bible, your response was simply: Because it was written by many authors on a single subject. Are you now admitting that that is not, by itself, a good enough reason to believe?

          • Rob Abney

            Actually you asked why you should believe the ideas in the bible are accurate. I think it is easier to write and to convey the truth about the most important ideas such as God and love especially in comparison to astrology.

          • Actually you asked why you should believe the ideas in the bible are accurate.

            My comment stands. Your response was simply: Because it was written by many authors on a single subject. It is obviously not the case that whatever is written by many authors on a single subject should be considered accurate for that reason alone.

            I think it is easier to write and to convey the truth about the most important ideas such as God and love especially in comparison to astrology.

            There is no correlation between the ease with which something may be written or conveyed and the likelihood of its being true.

          • Rob Abney

            Doug, as per usual, as your name implies, you have taken a razor to the words I've used to determine the exact meaning of each. But, the intent of my comment is that a love story conveys meaning in a manner wholly different than a book on astrology.
            Don't take that the wrong way, I love your comments.

          • Thank you for the kind words.

            But, the intent of my comment is that a love story conveys meaning in a manner wholly different than a book on astrology.

            And the intent of my reply was that, no matter what your intent was, the result did not constitute an answer to my question.

          • Alec

            My take is that your bias is changing the story into something it isn't. Lot is not praised for trying to sell his daughters; in the context of the story he's a desperate man trying to save his house from being torn down and his heavenly visitors from being raped. He had a moment of weakness and sinned, but we all do.

          • I can guarantee you I will never be so weak as to offer my daughters to rapists in any circumstances. Especially to heavenly visitors who can damn well take care of themselves. This is an abhorrent act and there is no negative comment on it in the story. For example why the heck aren't the heavenly visitors chastising Lot for this?

            In my opinion Lot's act here is far far worse than his wife's but his wife is killed immediately.

            I would say it is not me that is being biased here.

          • Alec

            You weren't in Lot's circumstance. He had the choice of, pretty much selling out God's messengers(debatably even God himself...but that's a debate for another day.), having his house torn down and potentially killed, or giving away his daughters. He was in between a rick and a hard place and he probably thought that the latter option would be the best. Of course, it was still wrong, and the fact that the Bible never praises him is important. I believe the story was presented as a desperate man going to desperate measures trying to do what he thought was right.

          • Wow. Ok good rationalization. I bet you could rationalize anything.

      • I would imagine that most modern biblical scholars would not read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah literally, but supposing we do.

        Assuming the cities to have been of reasonable size, certainly there must have been very young children. Presumably they were roasted along with the adults. Also, although some modern translations speak of "righteous people" instead of "righteous men," I do wonder if the biblical authors really intended to be gender inclusive, and if the account wasn't really concerned only with men. So if we are to imagine the story as literally true, it seems to me we must assume that God killed innocent children, and perhaps a number of innocent women, in addition.

        Regarding the incestuous behavior of Lot's daughters, what is there in the text that indicates their behavior is unrighteous?

        • Rob Abney

          I would imagine that most modern biblical scholars would not read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah literally, but supposing we do.

          Let's just read it as if its true, literal or not.

          it seems to me we must assume that God killed innocent children, and perhaps a number of innocent women, in addition

          If only all the unrighteous men were killed directly the women and children of that day and age would still most likely perish, so either directly or indirectly He did. But the story is there to warn against unrighteous living.

          Regarding the incestuous behavior of Lot's daughters, what is there in the text that indicates their behavior is unrighteous?

          I suspect that the deliberate induced drunkenness and incest initiated by the daughters points to unrighteous behavior.

          • But the story is there to warn against unrighteous living.

            Warnings are useless when they're not credible.

          • Rob Abney

            Nonetheless the warning may turn out to be true.

          • Nonetheless the warning may turn out to be true.

            Possibility is not probability.

            I could warn you that I have Mafia connections and will arrange for you to die a painful death unless you do what I tell you to do. That could turn out to be true, for all you know for certain, but you'd be a fool to take it seriously without some very good evidence backing it up.

          • Rob Abney

            I would heed the warning in the story of Lot because of a variety of pieces of evidence such as many trustworthy people credibly interpreting the story over many centuries.
            I dont know you personally so I couldn't judge your trustworthiness but I wouldn't totally dismiss the threat especially if I did something that might compel a mafia hit!
            I would appreciate it if you would give me enough time to go to confession before the hit though.

          • I would heed the warning in the story of Lot because of a variety of pieces of evidence such as many trustworthy people credibly interpreting the story over many centuries.

            Speaking of interpretation, I interpret your statement here as meaning that you take the story seriously because your religion tells you that you must take it seriously.

          • Rob Abney

            Not my religion but my church which has had many voices that I trust.

          • OK, you trust them, and I assume you have your reasons for trusting them. I have seen no reason why I should trust them.

  • VicqRuiz

    " does God punish people through the weather in our day?"

    My understanding of the Christian God is that he is eternally unchanging, and that no level of evil, even the most microscopic, is acceptable to him.

    Therefore it seems reasonable to conclude that either all those biblical accounts of God's meteorological punishments are simply wrong, or that it is possible that those punishments may continue into our current time.

  • Sample1

    Does God Punish People Through Natural Weather Events?

    This is a question that only a true believer can hope to ask and hope to have explained. Have a pause.

    It's not a question so much as an instant problem.

    Do you see it?

    Mike

    • Rob Abney

      True religion is that relationship, in accordance with reason and knowledge, which man establishes with the infinite world around him, and which binds his life to that infinity and guides his actions ... Tolstoy.

      Many of us don't have that relationship figured out completely and probably never will. It's not a problem only for believers.

      • Sample1

        Because of your reply I'm curious how you interpreted my comment.

        Would you mind rephrasing in your own words what it is you think I said?

        Thanks.

        Mike

        • Rob Abney

          Mike,
          I thought that you were saying that believers have the problem of wondering about how the material and spiritual world interact but that the non-believer does not have that problem, ostensibly because he doesn't believe that there is any interaction even possible between the two.
          And that "have a pause" means don't worry, be happy!

          • Sample1

            Pretty much. We atheists don't consider whether or not freakish storms are the will of God.

            Writing this title to other believers exposes a problem that doesn't exist for atheists. Furthermore, writing an article with solutions (his three categories) from my point of view is just an example of trying to find an answer to a non existent problem.

            In naturalism all of this goes away. The stress of storms may remain but there is no additional stress of trying to figure out why or why not such storms are deserved from on high.

            Mike, be happy.

  • A better question perhaps is, "Does God punish people through Donald Trump?"

  • Alec

    It would seem that the Christian God must allow human suffering, otherwise the Cross becomes pointless. So I imagine if God were to be asked by why we suffer, he could say "I feel your pain, too." He is the God who did lower himself to live and suffer with us, after all.

    Point being that the Christian God seems to acknowledge and even embrace human suffering. As suffering is directly tied to the ultimate act of redemption when Christ suffered and died on the Cross for mankind.

  • Alec

    My original post has been deleted, at least on my end, so I apologize if this is just a duplicate.

    It would seem that the Christian God must allow human suffering, otherwise the Cross becomes pointless. So I imagine if God were to be asked about the nature of human suffering and pain, He would say "I feel your pain, too." He is the God who did lower Himself to live and suffer with us, after all.

    Point being that the Christian God seems to acknowledge and even embrace human suffering. As suffering is directly tied to the ultimate act of redemption when Christ was crucified for the sins of humanity.

  • neil_pogi

    atheists believe that every natural disaster occurring in this planet is an ''act of god'', and yet they do not believe in this god? so convenient of saying this

  • neil_pogi

    without disasters, diseases, the earth's population will over-populate that's why regulations such as this natural disaster play a part of decreasing population for the greater good

  • Is it God's fault people insist upon constructing their homes in locations at risk from earthquakes, floods, or extreme climatic conditions?

  • When has God ever caused the death of an innocent?

  • Mrs. Harris

    I think the account of Noah and the flood generally meet the criteria. It is discriminate because Noah ( who is described as righteous) and his family are saved, God gives forewarning and his reason for the punishment so it is unambiguous, and it is proportionate because the text describes the complete depravity that is being punished.

    In the case of Mr Bakker, I think the question is can he be regarded as having received any sort of verifiable authority to speak on the matter as to whether these events are punishments from God. A far as I know he hasn't. And certainly all weather events need not be viewed as punishments from God.