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Learning Morality from Bill and Ted

BillTed

Early in this review series, I mentioned how Sean Carroll's new book, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (Dutton, 2016), gradually becomes weaker as you move through the chapters. It starts off strong and invigorating as he talks about cosmology and fundamental physics, his specialities. But as he moves into the philosophy of mind, meaning, and morality, he gets a bit wobbly.

Moving From Ought to Is

That's evident especially in his chapter on "What Is and What Ought To Be." The chapter starts off fine. Carroll agrees with David Hume, the famous skeptic whom Carroll deems a "forefather of poetic naturalism", that we can never derive an "ought" from an "is." In other words, we can never take a description of the world (how the world is) and logically deduce a prescription (how we ought to behave in response.) Why? Because for naturalists like Carroll and Hume, "is" is all there is. There's nothing outside the natural world to tell us how we ought to behave in response to the natural world. But maybe the natural world itself can offer guidance? Unfortunately no, says Carroll. He writes, "The natural world doesn't pass judgment; it doesn't provide guidance; it doesn't know or care about what ought to happen" (396).

Some atheists disagree, such as Sam Harris. Harris tries to defend objective morality on scientific grounds, suggesting that moral acts ("oughts") are those which bring about the flourishing of sentient creatures. In other words, we ought to do things that bring about the most flourishing. And on this view, it's true that science can tell us what brings about the most flourishing (at least some types of flourishing, that is.) But bracketing the vaguely defined concept of "flourishing" (who decides what counts as flourishing?) the big problem with Harris' view is the hidden premise that we ought to prefer and promote the flourishing of sentient creatures. On what authority does this rest? Is it an objective principle or just Harris' personal belief, one that many people may share, but not all?

Science can only provide us guidance about what to do if we want to attain a specific goal (e.g., sentient flourishing). But science can never reveal moral values or duties suggesting we ought to pursue those specific goals. This is a major reason why Harris' proposal fails.

Carroll understands all of this. He denies that morality can be grounded within science. However, he does think we can discover moral duties using the "tools of reason and rationality" (401).

“Be Excellent to Each Other”

Here's where things get a little wonky. Strangely, Carroll quotes (approvingly) a moral axiom from the 1989 cult classic, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Be excellent to each other." Carroll writes, "As foundational precepts for moral theorizing go, you could do worse" (402). But not much, I would add. It's not clear who determines what "excellent" means. Is abortion excellent? Is murdering one person to save five more excellent? Is it excellent to leave your spouse if you find a more appealing partner?

Another problem with the Bill and Ted morality is why we should obey it. Even if we determined precisely what excellent behavior entails, why should pursue this standard of excellence? Who or what says we ought to follow this axiom? Whether it's Bill, Ted, or Sean Carroll, why should we follow their moral beliefs?

Although Carroll perhaps quoted this line as a joke—though I don't think he did, given his commentary above—it displays the same problems that Hume identified over a century ago.

Other Moral Theories

Throughout the chapter, Carroll surveys several other moral theories, seeming to settle on a form of moral relativism. He says:

"Hume was right. We have no objective guidance on how to distinguish right from wrong: not from God, not from nature, not from the pure force of reason itself....Morality exists only insofar as we make it so, and other people might not pass judgments in the same way we do." (411)

Many people would find this conclusion troubling, and Carroll doesn't shy away from its implications:

"The lack of an ultimate objective scientific grounding for morality can be worrisome. It implies that people with whom we have moral disagreements—whether it's Hitler, the Taliban, or schoolyard bullies who beat up smaller children—aren't wrong in the same sense that it's wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe....But that's how the world is." (402)

This chilling quote suggests that Carroll does not believe Hitler or the Taliban were objectively wrong in their actions. It seems he just personally disagrees with their actions because has has a different opinion of how to "be excellent". Moral relativists like Carroll have no objective basis to condemn obviously immoral acts like the Holocaust or 9/11. They're only left with strongly felt and loudly expressed opinions.

A More Judgemental Moral Relativist

It's worth noting Carroll's contention that poetic naturalists are not moral relativists, but instead moral constructivists. The primary difference, according to Carroll, is that relativists don't feel enabled to critically judge the moral decisions of others (especially those deriving from other cultures), whereas constructivists are perfectly happy to do so, even while admitting their moral frameworks are only attempts to systematize their own personal/cultural intuitions about how to act.

But in my mind, this doesn't separate moral constructivism from moral relativism; it just makes the moral constructivist a type of moral relativist. He's still a relativist, but one that is just more judgmental and critical than other relativists.

It's also worth noting that despite examining several different moral theories in his book, from constructivism, to instrumentalism, to consequentialism, to virtue-ethics, to utilitarianism, Carroll never gives serious consideration to the theistic view. He never considers God to be the objective ground of morality. This is likely because Carroll presumes poetic naturalism is true, and thereby precludes God from the outset.

But that would only enforce my earlier criticism, that Carroll's cosmic picture is not big, as his book title suggests, but is in fact too small. In his moral exploration, he fails to find a satisfying answer in part because he needlessly restricts his pool of options!

In the next post we'll wrap up this series with a look at Sean Carroll's “Ten Considerations” for naturalists. Stay tuned!

Brandon Vogt

Written by

Brandon Vogt is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. He's also the founder of StrangeNotions.com. Brandon has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. He converted to Catholicism in 2008, and since then has released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), and RETURN (Numinous Books, 2015). He works as the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children in Central Florida. Follow him at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

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  • Valence

    The problem with grounding morality in God is that we have 5000 years of attempting to do this, with no solid and lasting results. The oldest well documented attempt was the Code of Hammurabi, which was supposedly handed down from the god of justice, Shamash. No doubt grounding moral codes in something greater than individual opinion is helpful to get people to embrace it, but does anyone here really think Shamash was communicating with Hammurabi? How about Muhammad or Joseph Smith? Even if we agree that the Bible is the word of God, we get all kinds of points of view on morality. We even have God basically changing his mind on divorce, Mark 10

    2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
    3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
    4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
    5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    Didn't Moses get the Jewish law from God? Did God really change "objective" morality just because the Jews hearts were hard? If so, the God's morality is dependent upon people's hearts. The change in view of whether slavery is moral is quite similar, and there is no divine command against that, that I'm aware of. In my view, divine command moral theory amounts to following the whims of an individual dictator, God.

    • Valence

      A question for theistic moral theorist. Does God have anything to say about patent law? Certainly it's a question of morality (a subset of personal property) and patent infringement is considered stealing. I'd be curious if there is any way theism could help with this current moral dilemma. Large tech companies spend billions each year suing each other over patents, and it amounts to a huge economic inefficiency. Patent trolls also basically steal millions from innocent people (in my mind) by abusing loopholes in current patent law.

      http://www.unitedforpatentreform.com/

      Here is an example of absurd patent law suit....suing over using a scanner:

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/meet-the-nice-guy-lawyers-who-want-1000-per-worker-for-using-scanners/

      • "Does God have anything to say about patent law? Certainly it's a question of morality (a subset of personal property) and patent infringement is considered stealing. I'd be curious if there is any way theism could help with this current moral dilemma."

        I'm not exactly clear what you're asking. Are you asking whether God has divinely revealed his view of modern patent law? If so, then the answer is clearly no.

        But God has revealed certain moral principles, both through the natural law (which is evident to everyone) and through divine revelation (Scripture and Tradition), and we can apply these principles to any pressing moral issue, including patent law.

        • Valence

          Can you explain how you apply them to patent law? You can use the scanner case if you'd like.

    • Another problem, (leaving the enormous problem of moral epistemology aside) God can say: "I command that it is moral to do X", or "I command that it is immoral to do Y" but what grounds "it is moral to follow Gods commands"..?

      http://spot.colorado.edu/~morristo/DoesGodGround.pdf

      • Valence

        It seems to boil down to might makes right. Who's mightier than God?

        • Rob Abney

          It would boil down to might makes right if the divine command theory was the classical theist's view of God. But it is not, so unfortunately you are arguing against a view that is not the view of the Church.

          • Valence

            Again, can you explain why? These vague statements get us nowhere.

          • Valence

            It seems you are factually incorrect

            Numerous variants of the theory have been presented: historically, figures including Saint Augustine, Duns Scotus, and Thomas Aquinas have presented various versions of divine command theory; more recently, Robert Merrihew Adams has proposed a "modified divine command theory" based on the omnibenevolence of God in which morality is linked to human conceptions of right and wrong.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_command_theory

            Both Augustine and Aquinas are Catholic figures. Do you think wikipedia is in error? If so, you would need to present an argument, or at least a good source.

          • Daniel

            The catholic church has no official position on divine command theory. Most Catholic philosophers today are virtue ethicists and nearly all will group Aquinas as a virtue ethicist.

          • Rob Abney

            I don't think that wikipedia article says that Aquinas supports divine command theory, I don't understand what the article claims Augustine is supporting.
            But classical theists hold that Will follows upon Intellect, so that God always acts in accordance with reason, not with Will only.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        Thanks. I was going to make the same point. Often we read criticisms of one moral system or another that are along the lines "But why ought we adhere to moral system X?" It's a fine criticism, but it is then assumed that theistic morality solves this problem. But I don't see how it does. Why ought we adhere to a moral system grounded in God?

        • Daniel

          "Why ought we adhere to a moral system grounded in God?"

          Because we owe God. He in his love created us, sustains us, redeemed us, gave us the possibility of heaven, etc. Perhaps following God's commands are good in themselves and good for us.
          There are other explanations under divine command theory and they could be sufficient to explain obligation individually or conjunction, but, again, this is under the assumption that some type of divine command theory is true.

          • David Nickol

            Because we owe God.

            Isn't it more like God will punish us if we don't obey his commands?

          • Daniel

            Obligation is logically prior to punishment. Traffic laws are in place for safety first, not to punish the public.

          • David Nickol

            But if there were absolutely no consequences for violating traffic laws, what would it mean to say people "ought" to obey them?

          • Daniel

            I ought to be careful and not hurt innocent pedestrians.

            I ought to take be conscious of my safety.

            Do you disagree with any of that? And that is with the assumption that we're living in a Beyond Thunderdome world.

          • David Nickol

            I ought to be careful and not hurt innocent pedestrians.

            I don't personally disagree with it, but I think those who believe naturalists can have any moral views would expect naturalists to ask, "What does ought even mean? Why should i be careful not to hurt other people as long as I can get away with it?"

          • Daniel

            "What does ought even mean?"

            Under a naturalistic or Theistic reality?

            If the former I would agree it makes no sense to speak of ought or must as true modal statements. As for the latter I would tell them they have no sense and cannot understand simple statements like:
            Too much ice cream will make you fat.
            Torturing babies for fun is wrong.
            Eat healthy to live longer.
            Don't exceed the speed limit to avoid police fines.

            All the statements use ought or must in a way or another. The is, ought gap is a remnant of the 18th century empiricism where everything was a truth of fact or a relation of ideas. Facts are contingent and cannot be necessary in any way or form and our ideas are all "impressions" of different degrees of "vivacity"

            It would make sense to say that there's no ought or right or wrong if every statement is based on vague impressions that lack any definite content or that, by default, reject certain modalities (ought, must, etct.) from the relation of ideas umbrella.
            But I see no compelling reason to think and believe in the above manner.

          • adam

            "Why should i be careful not to hurt other people as long as I can get away with it?""

            To support the system which reduces the chance that we will not be hurt, where we survive.

            Selfishness.

          • MNb

            Hammer, nail.
            "I don't need to care if I hurt other people as long as I can get away with it" is beneficial to me on short term, but not on long term.
            "I care not to hurt other people because it increases the chance I won't get hurt either" is a small investment with long term benefits.

          • we owe God"

            Why is repaying a debt good? What grounds that?

            Perhaps following God's commands are:
            good in themselves

            Hello Euthyphro!

            and good for us.

            Religious types tell me that's not good enough to ground my morality, so it must cut both ways.

            To be honest, I can't stand the hyper-skepticism that surrounds discussions of morality. It's like we all know exactly what we're talking about, but just waiting for the other guy to make a normative statement so we can crap all over it. The is-ought can't be overcome, by anyone, because we can always play this game. So now what?

          • Daniel

            "Why is repaying a debt good? What grounds that?"

            And I said, "He in his love created us, sustains us, redeemed us, gave us the possibility of heaven, etc."

            Apparently these are not good reasons for paying a debt. Why you might think so? I don't know. Remind people whom you borrow money from that you doubt that there are grounds to repay their good-will .

            I said, "Perhaps following God's commands are good in themselves and good for us."

            And you replied, "Hello Euthyphro!."

            Apparently you did not make it to the next sentence. "There are other explanations under divine command theory and they could be sufficient to explain obligation individually or CONJUCTION."

            Euthypro's "dilemma" is not necessarily an all or nothing affair. As for the religious types you follow, well, learn to asses the merits of their arguments on their own, not solely because you think you ought to follow them.

            "The is-ought can't be overcome, by anyone, because we can always play this game."

            Can't be overcome? Follow the law to avoid prison. Eat healthy to avoid heart disease. Vote for Hillary to put her in the white house. All these sentences use 'ought' in a way or in another. What's incoherent about any of them?

          • Your examples are if-ought, not is-ought.

          • Daniel

            My examples are If-ought and there are no 'is' or true statements nowhere to be found in my examples? So apparently there IS no such thing as laws, healthy food, or voting process. Am I reading you correctly?
            To be clear, the examples I gave presuppose that there's such thing as law, healthy food, and voting process. That there's an if is not relevant to my point. To make it simple: "There's healthy food and health is good so you ought to eat healthy."

            Where's the fallacy?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I don't think he understands the is-ought problem.

          • Daniel

            I already explained the nature and origin of the is-ought argument when answering to Mr. Nickol's a bit above.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            And you don't understand it.

          • Daniel

            And I must believe that because...

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You don't have to believe anything. The fact remains that your examples are not relevant to is-ought

          • Daniel

            Reilly, in case you missed it, I put forth those examples as normative statements, "eat healthy to avoid heart disease."
            Do you understand now?

            As for those who think there's no ought or should in eating healthy, I will just say that good (as in eating healthy food and having good health) justifies the modal shift to ought.

            Imagine commanding, "in order to be healthy, let a shark eat you." Getting eaten by a shark is not good and people instinctively know that the jump to ought is ridiculous in this case. My point is that people understand, use and benefit by bridging the is-ought distinction all the time .

            People that argue that there's no ought, despite using ought, forbidden, must etc. all the time, should show where the fallacy lies rather than repeating that the is-ought argument is impossible to solve or that one doesn't understand the 'problem' or typing 'fallacious reasoning' over and over.

          • adam

            "Apparently these are not good reasons for paying a debt."

            No, not without evidence of said being, doing said creating.

            Scammers live well and prosper off the same kind of scam.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            But its still the same question, just pushed back a small step: If we "owe" God, why ought we pay him back, so to speak? You're talking about an "is" but there is still no "ought."
            Same goes for your other explanations: Why ought we follow what is "good for us" (This is not any different than Sam Harris' "human flourishing.") Why ought we follow God's divine command?

          • Daniel

            Let us assume that there's no argument to bridge is to ought, the following statements would still be true:

            fulfill your promises.

            repay your debts.

            Be grateful to those who do good to you.

            But where's the argument to bridge is to ought? well, the very fact that these normative statements are intelligible and make sense to nearly everyone are themselves evidence that reality is value laden. The skeptic should provide heavier evidence to justify his skepticism, otherwise, he's begging the question far more than the opposite side.

            But of course there are reasons to justify the so-called gap: to achieve an end you should pursue the means.
            Want to get to Japan fast? you ought to take a plane.
            Want to learn how to cook? Get a recipe book.
            Now, what justifies shoulds and musts with regards to God? Gratitude is itself good and so is paying that which we owe (my life, gifts, circumstances are God's providential gift). The other reason is that if you want some end, such as heaven, you must follow the commandments

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            ....... I think I can only echo Ignatius Reilly: "I don't think he understands the is-ought problem."

          • Daniel

            You got me overlappingMagisteria. I have no idea of what I am talking about. I mean, for example, how in the world would I justify is to ought by appealing to ends and reasons for action?

            1-Water is needed for living.
            2-A person wants to live for x reasons.
            3-He ought to drink water. (to fulfill 2.)

            Step 1 is the 'is' and step 3 the 'ought.' What bridges 1 and 3? Just like you, I am crushed by the mystery of it all.

          • Valence

            well, the very fact that these normative statements are intelligible and make sense to nearly everyone are themselves evidence that reality is value laden. The skeptic should provide heavier evidence to justify his skepticism, otherwise, he's begging the question far more than the opposite side.

            Why isn't this just evidence that humans have a social instinct for reciprocity? It seems a huge leap to conclude that reality itself is value laden from the behavior of a single species, homo sapiens. I'm sure lions, apes, and ants think their values are in reality too, but it makes much more sense to say that the values originate in the organism itself as part of their evolved social instincts.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(social_psychology)

            Clean altruism is a bit harder to explain via biology, but certainly possible. Evolution would also predict that altruism towards kin is much more likely than altruism towards strangers, and that is exactly what we find in humans and other species.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

            The evolutionary explanation also easily accounts for sociopaths, and the evidence keeps getting stronger much of the risk for the disorder is heritable:

            Getting back to your question about inheritance though, right now it looks like about half of someone’s risk of becoming a sociopath comes from heritable factors. Some of that risk is linked to the genes we get from our parents.

            http://genetics.thetech.org/ask-a-geneticist/sociopath-genetics

            Unlike ants, humans don't acquire all of their behavior from genes, much is learned, so someone with a high risk genome may not show symptoms in the right environment. In my view this approach has much greater explanatory power than the idea that morality is "in reality", so no one is begging the question if that's how they account for it.

          • Daniel

            To attach value to something (I think UFC is better than baseball for x reasons ) the person needs rationality. Same goes with universal values (killing babies for fun is wrong).
            I will not get into this big subject, since it takes us away from morality and into philosophy of mind and the nature of abstract objects.

            I'll merely say, and many atheists will agree, that rationality cannot be explained through biology, and that universal propositions about morality are abstract and not-dependent on human minds in order for them to exist, anymore than 2+2= 4 or triangles being three-sided require human minds to be true.

          • Valence

            I'll merely say, and many atheists will agree, that rationality cannot be explained through biology, and that universal propositions about morality are abstract and not-dependent on human minds in order for them to exist, anymore than 2+2= 4 or triangles being three-sided require human minds to be true.

            The difference is that everyone agrees on the axioms of mathematics, they do not agree on the axioms of morality. Mathematics can still be viewed as a construct of the human mind

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peano_axioms

            I'm much more open to scientific and mathematical realism than I am to moral realism, but here are two examples of coherent anti-realist mathematical philosophy

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics#Formalism

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics#Fictionalism

          • David Nickol

            . . . . universal propositions about morality are abstract and not-dependent on human minds in order for them to exist, anymore than 2+2= 4 or triangles being three-sided require human minds to be true.

            Going from last to first . . . .

            I'd say that triangles being three sided is a matter of definition. The reason there are no four-sided triangles is because triangles are by definition three sided. So I would say that your example of triangles is purely dependent on human minds. The concept of the triangle is a human concept. Euclidian geometry is a human invention. There are no planes or lines in reality. And there are, of course, non-Euclidian geometries.

            Perhaps more controversial, I'd say that 2 + 2 = 4 is also a human intervention.

            For human morality, I think you have to have humans. It would seem strange to maintain that rape (to take one example) was wrong before there were any beings like us. Rape would not be wrong among extraterrestrials who did not reproduce sexually. Rape, lying, murder, and so on are all human concepts and would make no sense without a human race. To truly articulate moral laws that are independent of human beings and human customs and practices would seem to be difficult if not impossible.

            If there is a God, it seems to me that rape, lying, murder, and other acts we name when we catalog moral offenses were basically created. If there are such things as angels, they don't rape and murder, because those are meaningless concepts to them.

            In the absence of any minds at all, 2 + 2 would not equal 4 because there would be no mind to look at the world in that particular way. There have been isolated cultures in which the counting numbers have been (if I recall correctly) 1, 2, 3, and many. I don't think it would be true to say that for them 2 + 2 = 4.

          • George

            "good for us" just sounds like consequentialism again.

          • Daniel

            God is no more consequentialist anymore than he's a virtue ethicist. God does not have moral obligations like people.

            Also, after writing "good for us," I said that there might be multiple reasons as to why a commandment exists, and not just because it is good for us.

          • adam

            " God does not have moral obligations like people."

            How not?

            He obviously expressed regret creating so many people with free will who woundnt do with that free will what it wanted/

          • MNb

            "God does not have moral obligations like people."
            Then morals are subjective - they depend whether the subject is divine or human.

          • adam

            "Because we owe God."

            kInd of a one sided agreement isnt it?

            I took out no loan.

            Sounds more like the Mob.

          • MNb

            I don't owe god anything. I was created by my parents about 9 months before my birth. They sustained me until I could sustain myself.
            I never asked for redemption, the prospect of Heaven makes me shiver as much as the prospect of Hell.
            Divine Command Theory turns your god in an immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental version of Hitler.

        • ClayJames

          Because it reflects reality and there is a hidden premise within all of our conversations that we want our conclusions to reflect reality.

          If someone says that they do not want their views to reflect reality and therefore A is not A or they decide to reject basic logical precepts, then we can stop talking to them and talk to someone else who wants to talk about what really is the case.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            I'm not sure I understand. Does murdering someone (which would be an example of not adhering to God's morality) not reflect reality? I'm not sure what that even means for an action to not reflect reality.

          • ClayJames

            Murdering someone and thinking it is a good thing to do does not reflect reality.

            I am not talking about the action reflecting reality, I am talking about the moral truth regarding that action.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Thanks, that clarifies it. So as I understand, it becomes "ought we believe true things and not false things" (ie. believe that murder is wrong, assuming that morality is objective). An interesting idea that I'll have to give some thought.

            My initial thoughts are - well, you could still ask the same question: why ought we believe true things? I personally think its useful and it certainly seems like a good idea, but is it objectively true that we ought to believe true things? Sure, if morality is objective, that you can say "believing X about moral precept Y is objectively wrong." But can you say "you ought to believe what is true"?

            Also, this seems to only require that morals are objective, whether they are theistic or not.

            And reducing it to just a question of holding accurate beliefs seems strange. Murdering someone is on par with believing the Earth is flat? It's just about holding accurate beliefs?

            thanks again for the thought prodding!

    • LHRMSCBrown

      While we are glad Non-Theists agree with the Christian metanarrative's definitions of such horrors, their inability to comprehend what just is the amalgamation of privation, possibility, and necessity and just how it is that, according to both the OT and NT, God *both* hates X *and* yet regulates X within Moses, is once again more evidence that they have *no* understanding of the Christian metanarrative. Just to get started in the OT the Non-Theist may want to Google the concept of case law, and what it isn’t, and, if he so much as hurts even a tooth, he’ll have to read it all over again. More importantly, he may also want to get busy defining the OT's moral ontology according to the aforementioned metanarrative, which he unwittingly affirms with each of his own complaints. Even worse, the Non-Theist’s ignorance of the word "condone" is troubling, especially when mixed in with his demonstrable unawareness of that pesky metanarrative. To borrow from GM, "*IF* God is morally at fault in “endorsing” slavery, the job of the critic is to demonstrate the premise of God’s future-oriented, creation repairing agenda as a falsehood, and that the Sinai covenant represents His ideal for all mankind, forever. Until the critic does *that*, trying to force “endorse” into the key hole of a temporary tolerance of what [we're told He hates] is dialectical wishful thinking."

      Further, *if* the Non-Theist leveling love’s demands actually was wholly and thoroughly indifferent to suffering or any other contour of evil, or *if* he actually counted all such things as irreducibly horrific, factually (ontologically) laced through and through with that which sums to love's relentless call of ought-not-be, we could (given one of those two postures on his part) have a discussion in fact shaped by the rational, which justifiably pursues reality *as* reality. But that never happens for when reason as truth-finder demands the real, the irreducible, the fundamental nature of the particular state of affairs on the table, we find the Non-Theist unmasked in the midst of a disconnect, in this dishonest and irrational twilight zone of anger at the sight of suffering (on the one hand), and the relentless cosmic indifference defining his reason’s cherished mistress (on the other hand). Again we're glad he agrees with us about such horrific pains, but it's far more productive, and rational, to have these discussions with the likes of Carroll and Hume than with, not all, but a large swath of the contingency of Non-Theists here who are lost in some kind of bizarrely autohypnotic and unintelligible twilight zone.

      As for Moses, that Ministry Of Death, well again it’s nice that the Non-Theist agrees with the Christian metanarrative, only, the relentless cosmic indifference which is his reason’s delight makes of all his claims at best a kind of Wittgenstein-esc language game of self-refusal which maps to foci termed we know not where all awash in an ultimate unintelligibility amidst a self-negating presuppositionalism soaked through with the curious flavor of an indecipherable solipsism.

      Genesis’ uncanny proto-evangelium finds the triune landscape of what D. Hart terms love’s timeless “one-another” forcing all definitions within scripture’s singular metanarrative. Such reveals the very lucidity behind the cosmic means which are actually necessary should God in fact annihilate the horrific amalgamation of privation, possibility, and necessity. From the get-go all definitions testify within both the OT and the NT just how and why it is that God *both* hates X *and* yet regulates X within Sinai.

      Unfortunately for our Non-Theist friends, within scripture’s definitions of Sinai’s ministry of death (on the one hand) and within scripture’s definitions which the bulldog of logic forces upon all vectors through that auspicious proto-evangelium (on the other hand) the Non-Theist’s rationally available explanatory contours afford him no such thing as a moral fact and hence reason as truth-finder hears only the sound of her own mutable voice, itself contingent upon nothing more than reality’s four fundamental forces whereby reason hears what always was, and is, and always will be vis-à-vis reality’s irreducible indifference. Painfully, reason finds there within her own voice no possibility whatsoever of a fact termed the morally *un*reasonable. Therein the term “rational” foisted upon the moral must first beg the question, and then follow with an equivocation on bended-knee, and, even then, haven gained no possible entry, must take its frantic dive into thin air all while wrenching its flimsy syllogisms in a wild flurry in its last grasp at moral flight before plummeting – as all illusions must – into absurdity’s abyss.

      Reason as truth finder has every (justified) prerogative to chase after reality *as* reality. The rational is (therein) perfectly seamless with the *non* moral. Given Non-Theism. Whereas, given the triune God, reason justifiably carries us into the fundamental nature of all things per the Christian metanarrative as we find the unending processions constituting reciprocity's timeless "one-another" (D.B. Hart) via Trinity – or – if the syntax helps – the unending processions constituting reciprocity’s abiding “self/other” via Trinity, in what just is the singularity of "unicity" (again via Trinity). Those three contours are, simply put, unavoidable, irreducible. Love is not God, though love is triune as she constitutes the beloved’s knower and known. Indeed, love’s timeless self-giving in and of and through reciprocity’s immutable processions awaits reason at all ends of all vectors such that should reason chase after some other constitution amid one-another, some other form, or procession, or contour, she would then (factually) be contra-reason, or *un*reasonable. The rational is (therein) perfectly seamless with the moral.

      We find within moral ontology what we find within love's ontology, which is what we find in all ontologies, the whole of Man amid the rational, motioning towards reason's impossibly extravagant appetite:

      ".....if reason’s primordial orientation is indeed toward total intelligibility and perfect truth, then it is essentially a kind of ecstasy of the mind toward an end beyond the limits of nature. It is an impossibly extravagant appetite, a longing that can be sated only by a fullness that can never be reached in the world, but that ceaselessly opens up the world to consciousness. To speak of God, however, as infinite consciousness, which is identical to infinite being, is to say that in Him the ecstasy of mind is also the perfect satiety of achieved knowledge, of perfect wisdom. God is both the knower and the known, infinite intelligence and infinite intelligibility. This is to say that, in Him, rational appetite is perfectly fulfilled, and consciousness perfectly possesses the end it desires. And this, of course, is perfect bliss.” (David Bentley Hart – The Experience of God)

  • Brandon has criticized the moral framework advanced by Carrol on the basis that it is "chilling" and "troubling" and subjective. However he has not advanced any argument to demonstrate that it is wrong.

    He complains that Carroll does not consider theistic alternatives, but does not explain how theism allows us to be objective in our moral values or assessments.

    At the end of the day both theistic and non-theistic moral frameworks rely on intuition. The problem for atheistic morality is that we have not just that we have no way to assess what counts as flourishing, we have no way to justify that flourishing is more moral than suffering. This is also troubling to some atheists, most atheists I have met cling to non-theistic moral objectivism, but I think this is unfounded. I do not find it particularly troubling for the reasons set out below.

    But theists are in no better position. They too have either intuitive moral values and assessments or deontological ones, deriving from scripture or tradition. On the theist side, they believe that these rules or intuitions derive from a perfect deity and this warrants them to trust that they are "moral". However, this requires being able to prove that this deity actually exists, and that it has associated our moral intuitions with actual absolute objective morality. I think these things have not been even close to being demonstrated. There are additional problems as well such as the fact that much of scripture is morally abhorrent to us in this century (whereas I do not think it would be when written). How is one able to reconcile the idea that genocide was objectively morally good for the Jews in the circumstances of the Old Testament, but objectively morally wrong in any circumstances now? This sounds like moral relativism, if not arbitrariness to me. Further, we see incredible differences in what the "oughts" are among theists, that I would suggest are just not present among non-theists to the same extend.

    The moral constructionist on the other hand can be practical about this and accept that even if objective morality did exist, given our own human limitations, we would not be able to determine we are correct about them. What we can do in this circumstance is look to our most fundamental intuitive moral values. We actually find that these are, in general, suffering is bad, relieving of suffering and freedom are good. And, that we should assess moral issues with respect to these values, again intuitively to some extent gauging which outweighs which. Yes, this is basically utilitarianism, and I suggest that everyone does this in their moral decision making irrespective of their beliefs in theism. But as these values are more or less universal, there generally is no need to justify them to be moral according to them.

    • "Brandon has criticized the moral framework advanced by Carrol on the basis that it is "chilling" and "troubling" and subjective. However he has not advanced any argument to demonstrate that it is wrong."

      I was clearly arguing via reductio ad absurdum. If the conclusion of an argument is so absurd that no reasonable person would accept it, then the argument itself is absurd.

      I think that applies here. I don't think any reasonable person would actually refuse to say, "Hitler's massacre of 6 million innocent people was truly wrong, regardless of individual opinion." Sure, a small handful of individuals may personally disagree, but the rest of can say, with assurance, that those personal opinions are simply wrong (just as the small handful of people who personally believe the earth is flat are factually wrong, despite their opinion.)

      Carroll seems to recognize, however, that moral relativism indeed leads to such absurdities as saying "I personally think Hitler was wrong, but others might disagree, and maybe they're correct."

      The absurd consequences of moral relativism are strong indicators that the moral theory itself is absurd.

      "He complains that Carroll does not consider theistic alternatives, but does not explain how theism allows us to be objective in our moral values or assessments."

      That simply wasn't my purpose here. I'm only reviewing Carroll's own stated positions in this single book. I have explained how theism allows objective morality elsewhere, as have many other writers here at Strange Notions.

      My purpose in this post was not to make a case for theistic morality but to show (1) why Carroll's moral theories are defective and (2) that he didn't consider all plausible alternatives, including theism, which is held by the majority of the world. You'd think he would have engaged it, if only to dismiss it.

      "At the end of the day both theistic and non-theistic moral frameworks rely on intuition."

      This isn't true. Indeed, some versions of some arguments in favor of objective morality depend on moral intuition, but not all. Many rely solely on philosophical reflection, deducing that (1) there must be a God, (2) this God must be the embodiment of perfect goodness, and (3) objective moral values and duties exist and are grounded in his nature.

      "They too have either intuitive moral values and assessments or deontological ones, deriving from scripture or tradition."

      Again, it's not clear you're aware of theistic moral theories which depend on rational reflection beyond the Bible or tradition. There are several, and they are widely held.

      The rest of your post is a stream of red herrings, most of which have been answered here several times (e.g., that moral disagreement somehow undermines the existence of objective moral values and duties.) I'd encourage you to read back through our many posts on God and morality.

      "What we can do in this circumstance is look to our most fundamental intuitive moral values. We actually find that these are, in general, suffering is bad, relieving of suffering and freedom are good."

      This of course raises many questions, the answers to which will expose so many hidden assumptions. For example, how do you define suffering? Is suffering always bad? Is it always morally good to reduce suffering?

      "Yes, this is basically utilitarianism, and I suggest that everyone does this in their moral decision making irrespective of their beliefs in theism."

      I could hardly disagree more. Classical theistic morality is the antithesis of utilitarianism.

      "But as these values are more or less universal, there generally is no need to justify them to be moral according to them."

      But what if they aren't universally held? How would you therefore defend them? What would you say if, in the example of Nazi Germany, the opposite moral view was held by the majority? On what grounds could you disagree? These are all troubling (and ultimately unanswerable) questions for the moral relativist.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        Carroll seems to recognize, however, that moral relativism indeed leads to such absurdities as saying "I personally think Hitler was wrong, but others might disagree, and maybe they're correct."

        That is not what a relativist would say. Under relativism, there are not "correct" answers to morality, so you wouldn't say "and maybe the are correct." It should be:
        "I personally think Hitler was wrong, but others might disagree."

      • With respect to the reductio ab absurdum, I do agree with that statement about Hitler. It is not inconsistent with moral constructivism. i believe it is truly wrong with respect to the axioms of my morality. That does not mean these axioms are absolutely objective. So agreement with that statement in no way entails agreement with an independent objective moral standard, constructivists agree with it on the basis that it is objectively wrong with respect to a subjective moral standard.

        But ultimately this comes down to the usage of "morality". For myself I use the term morality to refer to decisions involving suffering and flourishing and consider moral those which support flourishing etc. In this context there is no need to say the Nazis might be right. They could not have been. The challenge for the theist is to identify moral questions that do not invoke these values. If you cannot, it makes more sense to use morality in this narrower sense, about which we can be objective.

        You have made a valid but unsound argument from philosophy as opposed to intuition. However, even if it were sound how does the human know his conduct conform or violates objective morality? He must invoke intuition, scripture, or tradition to make the moral assessment.

        The disagreement does not undermine the existence of any absolute objective moral standard, it undermines the ability to objectively apply it. what I am saying is that by contrast, atheists share the inability to demonstrate their moral axioms are objective, but gain the ability to objectively apply it.

        Sure I define suffering as physical or emotional pain. It is generally bad, but in some circumstances it is worth enduring, or causing, to avoid more suffering, or to allow flourishing. In most circumstances this assessment will be obvious and we can be objective about it, but sometimes we are unable to make to assessment and sometimes we regret the assessments we make.

        If you do indeed disagree that we all invoke utilitarianism, please present me with a moral issue that does not involve assessing the outcomes with respect to human flourishing and suffering.

        If these moral intuitions were not nearly universal, I might think differently. But I would put it to you that they are. I do not think that in Nazi Germany the opposite moral view was held. I believe that they were mistaken as to the facts about Jews. After reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, it is very clear to me that the Nazis perpetrating the holocaust really did believe that Jews were significantly different that Aryans and were worth less. They believed this based on erroneous views of biology and culture. They formed the view that all of thier problems, from the loss of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, the German financial crisis were engineered by a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. They considered race to exist, they believed that a contest between races was inevitable, and if they did not fight in favour of their race, they would lose or face a much longer period of suffering and war in defeating them. And so on. They believed all these things and thought that exterminating the Jews would on balance lead to less suffering. And, likely they considered Jews and other sub-human and less worthy of moral consideration, if at all. Again I think they were completely and demonstrably wrong in this but they were applying an analysis of human suffering vs flourishing.

        It is awful, but it is actually the same analysis that is used by apologists to justify the genocide of the Amalakites. This people would not leave the Jews alone, forever they caused war and would not stop. nothing would stop them and unless the were completely exterminated the suffering would be worse than executing them all.

        Could go on but if you think theists do not do this, nor do they apply deontology, please explain how a theist would resolve a moral issue. What is the process?

        • Sorry, but while I enjoy dialoguing with you, there's simply way too much to read, digest, and respond to in this comment, Brian. Can you make your point more concisely? Or is there, perhaps, a specific follow-up question you'd like to ask me?

          • Sure. Generally I see no absurdity in moral relativism being true. May be troubling but many facts about reality are.

            Theistic morality is portrayed as superior due to is assertion of an objective basis. That may be the case, but assertion of objectivity is also made by most atheists. In either case, even if there is an objective basis, this stardard is not know. To the extent that theist can articulate what the standard is, I soul suggest that it is the same as what moral constructivists do, avoidance of suffering and furtherance of flourishing and balancing of these when they compete.

            I put it to you to articulate a different moral standard or values that do not fall within this standard. What moral decisions do not try to avoid suffering and promote flourishing?

          • Mike

            "no absurdity in moral relativism being true" none at all? seems like a big stretch as most reasonable ppl think that it is at least extremely precarious given how fickle we can be about what we like today aka fads and trends.

            "studying hard" is not interested in avoiding suffering in fact suffering is kind of supposed for just 1 example but life's full of them. if you eat too much and feel really good you'll feel really bad if you eat anymore. if you love something set it free even though it hurts like hell to set it free. no pain no gain and on and on and on.

          • I do not think there is anything absurd about morality simply being what people feel is right or wrong.

            I do not understand your second paragraph. Are these supposed to be moral issues?

          • Mike

            fascinating that you don't think morality just being strong feelings is absurd.

            anyway they were supposed to point out that suffering is a normal healthy part of being human.

          • Ok we disagree on whether it is absurd.

            I do not disagree that suffering is a normal part of the human condition. On naturalism this makes great sense. There would be no way for much massive suffering to be avoided. But doesn't make sense on Catholic theism where God could easily prevent all of it.

          • Mike

            God could easily prevent it all in which case we wouldn't be the things we are; we'd be robots wouldn't you agree?

          • MNb

            We already are. That you dislike the idea is a bad reason to reject it.

            https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/26/Appeal-to-Consequences

            Plus in your case it results in circularity.

            We are no robots --> God doesn't prevent all suffering --> God created us as non-robots.

          • Will

            We already are. That you dislike the idea is a bad reason to reject it.

            What definition of robot are you using to claim that humans = robots?

          • MNb

            Ask Mike. He is the one who introduced them.

          • Mike

            do you think that we are robots then?

            plus i'd say we are free to some extent and with freedom comes suffering which makes sense of why God is silent about much of it.

          • adam

            So is not there freedom in Heaven?
            Or is there suffering?

          • Mike

            yes there is freedom. no there is no suffering but the possibility i suspect may exist.

          • adam

            " and with freedom comes suffering which makes sense of why God is silent about much of it."

            So which is it?

            And why would a loving God be silent about much of it?

          • Mike

            which is what?

            silent but not distant. suffering led me to God and does most ppl not vice versa. plus extreme evil points to God not away and is evidence FOR God imho.

          • adam

            "which is what?"

            You said
            " and with freedom comes suffering which makes sense of why God is silent about much of it."

            So is Heaven not free or is there suffering in Heaven?

            "plus extreme evil points to God not away and is evidence FOR God imho."

            Well of course, as the character God in the bible brags about creating evil.

            King James Bible
            I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
            Isiah 45:7

            Why would anyone worship an evil God?

          • Mike

            heaven is free but there is no suffering bc we choose not to suffer but we ain't in heaven. we were once but rebelled. will we be able to rebel again in heaven, seems to me yes in some sense. why didn't God create adam/eve such that they wouldn't have take the bait? bc if you love something you set it free.

            what is an evil God? you're very confused: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

          • adam

            " bc we choose not to suffer but we ain't in heaven."

            Then why dont we all just choose NOT to suffer?
            Why dont we have that capability?

            Why does a rapists have free will to rape a child and kill that child, while the child has no free will not to be raped?

            "why didn't God create adam/eve such that they wouldn't have take the bait? bc if you love something you set it free."

            AGAIN, its not free, when it comes with a threat.

            "what is an evil God?"
            One that creates evil

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca...
            TLDR

            What is your point?

          • Greg G.

            heaven is free but there is no suffering bc we choose not to suffer but we ain't in heaven.

            If your god is capable of that, why does suffering exist now?

          • Mike

            bc we're fallen.

          • Greg G.

            That doesn't answer the question.

            You are back to a benevolent omnipotence who could do whatever suffering is supposed to do but without the suffering but chooses for it to be there. That makes it a sadistic being.

          • Mike

            you probably think that prisons are by defn 'sadistic' places. anyway we are the kind of thing that can 'grow'/'flourish' via direct relationship with God or if we choose which we did via the long and harder but perhaps more fruitful path of slogging through the mud so to speak.

            btw why do you think that extreme suffering is so bad? on what basis would you make that claim? in your opinion are humans special in some sense so that violating them is 'worse'? does it in a sense upset the universe when great moral evil happens?

          • Greg G.

            We are talking about the actual suffering of sentient beings which could be in prisons, hospitals, homes, or anywhere else. Where the suffering occurs is irrelevant.

            btw why do you think that extreme suffering is so bad? on what basis would you make that claim?

            Are you a sentient being or a machine? Do you lack emphathy? I am not referring to some idea of suffering from an armchair philosopher, I mean real suffering, anything from a bruise to sympathy for a loved one to the most severe torture by the Inquisition to being eaten alive by predators. Suffering is a bad thing. The end result of some suffering may be a good thing but that is not the case for all suffering. The positive results of suffering are logically possible so a weakly omnipotence could achieve those same results with or without the suffering so the suffering is unnecessary.

            in your opinion are humans special in some sense so that violating them is 'worse'?

            Suffering is suffering no matter who or what experiences it.

            does it in a sense upset the universe when great moral evil happens?

            I mean real suffering experienced by real sentient beings. Forget about your "pretend suffering".

          • Mike

            i agree empathy is good but i don't understand how you can ground it if humans are no more special than a beetle say and if the universe doesn't 'care' about our suffering.

            what put that feeling of empathy in your heart? is it only the result of evolution and if so do you take evolution to have a goal in mind or is it in a sense random?

            again i don't think the problem is suffering generally speaking but extreme stuff which i think points to God as it violates something sacred like a child's body or a marital bond or an oath or whatever. somethings are sacred and only their violation stirs in us these deep deep deep feelings of injustice that things OUGHT to be different.

          • Greg G.

            i agree empathy is good but i don't understand how you can ground it if humans are no more special than a beetle say and if the universe doesn't 'care' about our suffering.

            We are not talking about an inanimate universe. It is about the existence of suffering of one beetle, one human, or all sentient beings and the existence of a benevolent omnipotence or a benevolent anything capable of preventing suffering and doing whatever desired outcome of suffering. This is only a problem for a theist who claims there is a benevolent omnipotence.

            what put that feeling of empathy in your heart? is it only the result of evolution and if so do you take evolution to have a goal in mind or is it in a sense random?

            Yes, evolution. You take a random sampling of genes and those that promote greater reproduction also produce more copies of itself. Genes that promote empathy in a social species will promote greater reproduction. A similar gene in an asocial species would not promote greater reproduction and may be detrimental so its frequency would be reduced in the gene pool and eliminated. Empathy has nothing to do with the heart.

            again i don't think the problem is suffering generally speaking but extreme stuff which i think points to God as it violates something sacred like a child's body or a marital bond or an oath or whatever. somethings are sacred and only their violation stirs in us these deep deep deep feelings of injustice that things OUGHT to be different.

            Why does justice require suffering? Why would justice be required if no suffering was involved? A being capable of preventing the rape of a child, but doesn't, shares some of the culpability. But that is not the argument.

            If a being could prevent all suffering, then all suffering is unnecessary. An omnipotence could prevent all suffering by definition. Since there is suffering, either there is no being capable of preventing suffering or the capable being has decided in favor of unnecessary suffering, making that capable being a sadist, not a benevolent being.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Still conflating Eden and Privation and Heaven and still leaving out all those pesky transcendentals, and still foisting logical impossibilities like one sided coins, and still no employment of distinctions amid necessary and necessarily possible and necessarily impossible, and still believing that contingency can saturate privation's hollow, and all these things you're still doing among all of the above. No wonder you think you make so much sense. Are you aware that there are Non-Christian blogs for those such as yourself who enjoy discussing Non-Christian metaphysics?

          • Greg G.

            You are still lighting strawmen on fire to distract from the inability to address the argument, let alone refute it.

            Are you aware that Christians have different beliefs about their God? Many believe their God is strongly omnipotent, man-made philosophy be damned. Some believe their God is weakly omnipotent. Some equate God with the universe. Most Christians seem to be completely unaware of the variety of concepts of God within Christianity.

            My argument addresses any concept of a benevolent being that is capable of preventing suffering. That includes the concept of God of most Christians. If your concept of God does not fit that description, stop worrying about it. If your concept of God does fit the description, why do you still hold it?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Oh dear. I thought another attempt would reveal in error on my earlier assumption about you. Clearly not. You're not even aware that God both can and does expunge evil by the only logically possible means for such ends there in what cannot be less than the semantics of saturating privation's hollow with nothing less than the Necessary -- to the bitter ends of time and physicality -- within the syntax of nothing less than incarnation. But you've made it clear you care neither for logic not for those pesky affairs of transcendentals and necessity. Would you like a list of some Non-Christian blogs where you can discuss Non-Christian metaphysics?

          • Greg G.

            I have presented one argument and one argument only. It's an argument about three things: suffering, benevolence, and some type of potency anywhere between "sufficient" and "strongly omnipotent". You cannot address it. This is a discussion group but you cannot discuss the implication of a common Christian belief? If an argument upsets your concept of God, shouldn't you alter your concept?

            The topic interested me and thought this angle should be considered. I have not been belligerent, at least no more than was directed at me.

            If you don't respond to me, it will reduce my responses to you, if that is what you are afraid of.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Heaven, Eden, and Privation are necessarily and irreducibly different, which is why your complaint isn't coherent. Worse, those many transcendentals (which you've banned from this discussion since they "don't matter") and the syntax of incarnation and logical necessity are also foreign to your Non-Christian premises. Given the things you say don't matter I don't see how you really care about anything more than arguing against your own Non-Christian premises and counting it all as a logical success. As for sort-of-Omni vs strong Omni, again, a repeat of the same given that it needs to ignore all of the above.

          • Greg G.

            You haven't explained why transcendentals excuse suffering. You haven't explained anything. The argument is about past, present, and future sentient beings, not Heaven, Eden, or Privation.

            Unnecessary suffering happens to many humans and animals. Why? Benevolence means something. Omnipotence means something. How are you reconciling unnecessary suffering with a benevolent omnipotence? Unnecessary suffering is not a logical problem in an indifferent universe. It is not a logical problem for an indifferent omnipotence because "benevolent" would not apply. It is not a logical problem for a sadistic omnipotence. Unnecessary suffering is not a logical problem for a benevolent being that is helpless to stop the suffering. Humans fit that description and we can alleviate some suffering but we are not gods.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit at 45 minutes) The metanarrative of Christianity which subsumes Heaven, Eden, and Privation being deemed irrelevant to the Christian narrative of Man, God, and reality by one demanding that Christian vectors weigh in is telling. Quite telling. And the same can be said for the wide array of Christian transcendentals many of which are logically and necessarily transfigured with respect to Eden, and with respect to Privation, and with respect to Heaven. You don’t seem aware of Christianity’s metanarrative with respect to logical necessities, especially with respect to the Non-Christian premise of “necessary privation” as it all reveals a conflation on your part with respect to the terms necessary, unnecessary, necessarily possible, and necessarily impossible with respect to Eden, and with respect to Privation, and with respect to Heaven, all of which are necessarily and irreducibly different. Again, Heaven, Eden, and Privation are necessarily and irreducibly different, and that matters with all of the above. All of that plays into why your complaint isn't coherent and, as stated before, I’ve no interest making up *that* much ground in *this* format to help someone disposed to telling the Christian that his transcendentals and therein his premises and therein his metaphysical logic are not welcome in any of his replies.

            On top of all of that, you’ve obviously not thought things through here for more than about two minutes when it comes to the breadth of what privation means vis-à-vis worlds, on what your (all of humanity's, all of Christendom's) complaint’s demand (love ought expunge evil) actually – make that necessarily requires. Assuming one cares about logic, love, necessity, the hard fact of evil, and the hard fact of good one is forced into the topography not of nations or states or centuries but of – again – worlds such that but for “God” the very concept of such a need, such a work, dies the death first of absurdity and finally of illusion and therefore the bulldog of logic forces all hands to the obvious and logically unavoidable: the Non-Theist’s perception of the need for love’s expunging of suffering – just like his perception of said suffering, lack, want, privation – dies the death of his own reductio ad absurdum. There are no other options: Being Itself, that is to say, *God*, and nothing less, is obviously and unavoidably the very lucidity which gives life to such reasoning with respect to suffering, itself the very constitution of privation, of the Good minus something. On point of fact it is *God* and nothing less wherein and whereby the necessary and sufficient can even be found pouring Himself – first into and finally through and through – the hollow that is an entire world and this to the bitter ends of time and physicality. It is factually the case that suffering, evil, lack, and, lest the Non-Theist means only to play games here, the ontology of irreducible lack vis-à-vis suffering, in what factually is nothing less than actual/irreducible evil, carries us into the semantics of privation. And those semantics (privation) cannot evade the semantics of God dissolving said hollow, said privation, by filling it with Himself, that is to say, such cannot avoid the semantics of saturation, of His pouring-out, of His in-filling, to the bitter ends of time and physicality.

            In a word – incarnation.

            In a proposition: the only logically possible means and, also, the only necessary and all-sufficient means.

            God both can and does expunge evil by the only logically possible means for such ends there in what cannot be less than the semantics of saturating privation's hollow with nothing less than the Necessary – and again to the bitter ends of time and physicality – within the semantics of nothing less than incarnation. The unavoidable syntax of incarnation and the unavoidable affairs of logical necessity and the unavoidable affairs of love’s timeless “one-another” amid reciprocity’s self-giving and the unavoidable affairs of the hard fact of evil and the unavoidable affairs of the hard fact of good are – all – given the complaint on the table – entirely foreign to what just is a litany of Non-Christian premises. Such (Non-Christian) premises are, apparently, not only very dear to you but also provide you with the only logical scapegoat satisfactory to your intellectual and moral pursuits.

            Christianity’s metaphysical moral landscape finds the ontology of love’s eternally sacrificed-self and carries us into reality’s irreducible geography of egalitarian self-giving for we find “always” and “already” in the triune God that outpouring which is “….. a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness." (D.B. Hart) Such immutable processions juxtaposed with the unavoidable semantics of incarnation reveal the why and the how of the “…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself…..” (Fischer)

            It seems that regardless of how many possible worlds God sets before the Adamic, there is (given the triune God) no possibility in all such worlds of avoiding love's eternally sacrificed self. From the foundation of all worlds, Privation or not, Eden or Heaven, nothing can change the fundamental, timeless, and immutable contours of reality, and in fact such ultimately, eventually, defines all other levels.

            It is not “Totality”, nor is it “Chaos”, nor is it distinction achieved only by violence among converging equals, but rather it is the compositions of the triune where all vectors of being ultimately converge. “Nietzsche prophesied correctly: what now always lies ahead is a choice between Dionysus (who is also Apollo) and the Crucified: between, that is, the tragic splendor of totality and the inexhaustible beauty of an infinite love.”

          • Greg G.

            Essentially your answer is:

            It seems that regardless of how many possible worlds God sets before the Adamic, there is (given the triune God) no possibility in all such worlds of avoiding love's eternally sacrificed self. From the foundation of all worlds, Privation or not, Eden or Heaven, nothing can change the fundamental, timeless, and immutable contours of reality, and in fact such ultimately, eventually, defines all other levels.

            I understand that as saying that your religion thinks that God's handiwork would collapse into requiring Jesus to be sacrificed no matter what.

            Instead of making Adam who would eventually sin, why not just make Jesus first and call him Adam? Would Jesus eventually lead to requiring a sacrifice, too?

            But even if the eventual sacrifice for atonement required suffering, all other suffering is unnecessary. An omnipotence could do a billion logically possible miracles per nanosecond for every living sentient entity as easily as not doing them or could do a billion times more if necessary to prevent every instance of suffering.

            So you are still at square one. Your usual apologetics don't address this apparently. You'll have to start thinking for yourself.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            And there you go. Conflating Eden for Privation for Heaven. So you really think Eden and Privation and Heaven are the same after all. You probably think Man in Eden need never traverse insufficiency's infilling with respect to the Necessary. You were just told of irreducible differences between the three worlds in question and yet you press on, head down, eyes closed, ears closed, teeth clenched, foisting the same old Non-Christian assumptions. It's hopeless. My initial impression was correct. As for what is and is not addressed, given your disposition against logical necessity and love's unavoidable geography, it's (again) demonstrable that you must avoid thinking that you understand anything about any of the things you're claiming. All bolds is merely embarrassing for you. Highlighting your own intellectually misguided repeats of the same-ol-thing may be something you'd want to avoid.

            This of yours is unfortunate: "I understand that as saying that your religion thinks that God's handiwork would collapse into requiring Jesus to be sacrificed no matter what.Instead of making Adam who would eventually sin, why not just make Jesus first and call him Adam? Would Jesus eventually lead to requiring a sacrifice, too?" Clearly you don't understand. And so you are back to square one all over again, demanding that God create one sided coins and getting all your statements just now completely wrong. Here's square one and square two:

            One:

            You've not shown that [1] Evil (Suffering) is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized, and, [2] Evil (Suffering) is logically impossible, and [3] Evil (Suffering) is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse. Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei. Nor have you approached that entire array with a coherent and Christian accounting of those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality applied across the board. So you've presented no relevant questions with respect to Christian truth claims about Man, God, privation, heaven, Eden, and the metaphysical geography of what cannot be less than (given the triune God) what D. Hart terms love's timeless "one-another".

            Two:

            The metanarrative of Christianity which subsumes Heaven, Eden, and Privation being deemed irrelevant to the Christian narrative of Man, God, and reality by one demanding that Christian vectors weigh in is telling. Quite telling. And the same can be said for the wide array of Christian transcendentals many of which are logically and necessarily transfigured with respect to Eden, and with respect to Privation, and with respect to Heaven. You don’t seem aware of Christianity’s metanarrative with respect to logical necessities, especially with respect to the Non-Christian premise of “necessary privation” as it all reveals a conflation on your part with respect to the terms necessary, unnecessary, necessarily possible, and necessarily impossible with respect to Eden, and with respect to Privation, and with respect to Heaven, all of which are necessarily and irreducibly different. Again, Heaven, Eden, and Privation are necessarily and irreducibly different, and that matters with all of the above. All of that plays into why your complaint isn't coherent and, as stated before, I’ve no interest making up *that* much ground in *this* format to help someone disposed to telling the Christian that his transcendentals and therein his premises and therein his metaphysical logic are not welcome in any of his replies.

          • Greg G.

            There you go, throwing Augustinian theodicy at a problem where it doesn't apply.

            You are stuck at Square One. You have not figured out that not all suffering is necessarily evil, as it is a consequence of a necessary benefit of a short-term pain for a long-term good. I have shown that the bad part (the short-term pain) is unnecessary if there is a benevolent omnipotence of any kind, or any "potent enough" being.

            We humans know how to reduce suffering with pain-killers. Dogs are said to eat grass to relieve stomach ailments. A being that could do it but won't, should not be called "benevolent".

            That is why invoking theodicy is the wrong approach. Even if all you say is true, you still have not justified the adjective "benevolent" as an appropriate description. You would have to be quite obsequious to insist on using it. It's like a company that releases a product that will cause a few deaths but the analysis shows the profit would exceed the payouts.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Love ought expunge evil. Your mantra, while affirming Christendom's mantra, keeps running off into Non-Christian bushes. That disconnect is probably what's causing trouble here. I'm not sure who you're speaking to, as no one on this end said evil, or suffering, or privation, is necessary. Unfortunately, 50 comments in you're still asking why it's necessary, and asking Christians to justify its necessity. That's an impressive work of perseveration upon Non-Christian premises on your part. You should read about Christianity some time. Specifically about logic, necessity, and (irreducible) love. We're glad that you agree with our definitions about love's demand of ought expunge evil. But merely agreeing with Christians about love's demands isn't going to fix your beliefs in contradictions and Non-Christian religions. Oh, BTW, the bit about eternal life coming through pills or fruit and digestion was cute. From gonads to Heaven....yep... that's Christian reductionistic premises all right. That's the "means" whereby an entire universe, world, hollow, privation, is going to be "filled" and therein annihilate said hollow. Gonads and brains. Yep. That'll getterdone. Well.... Your necessary and sufficient means and ends obviously have no Christian premises in them, and, just as importantly, they ignore the breadth of the work under consideration, and also they jettison countless lines of logic, necessity, and love along the way. Didn't you know? Have you never heard? Loveless contradictions just won't do.

          • Greg G.

            Your argument is just the assumption that there is an omnipotent creator who is also benevolent. But there is suffering in the world, which you blame on the assumption of Evil, so you assume that there just was no other way to create the world without evil and suffering. That concept weakens the weakened definition of omnipotent further.

            But you have no proof of an omnipotence, no proof of a creator, no proof of Evil as anything but unfortunate events and mean, selfish people, no proof that there would be no way to have a world without that Evil with a benevolent omnipotence, and no proof that suffering is necessary.

            The suffering in the world is just as explainable if there is an omnipotence who is not benevolent, or a creator that is not omnipotent, or there is no creator.

            If a creator would have kept things simple, it would not be necessary for physical needs, desire, greed, or hate. But if God bit off more than he could chew, it means a lack of omnipotence. By saying there was no possible way to make a universe that would not have Evil and suffering, you must jettison the omnipotence aspect.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Christian: Evil isn't necessary.

            You: "So you assume that there was just no other way to create the world without evil or suffering..."

            Okay. You can't read. And demonstrably so.

          • Greg G.

            I did not say evil was necessary.

            In http://disq.us/p/1bgnkda , you said:

            It seems that regardless of how many possible worlds God sets before the Adamic, there is (given the triune God) no possibility in all such worlds of avoiding love's eternally sacrificed self.

            I take "no possibility... of avoiding... sacrificed self" to imply that the existence of evil and suffering was inevitable in Christian-think.

            Now read again the sentence you just quoted.

            You attributed a meaning to me that I didn't express.

            Edit: changed hastily type "words" to "meaning" in the last sentence at the 2 minute mark.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            So you assert (or perhaps believe??) that our self-giving and self outpouring and self-sacrifice amid our beloved is evil or painful or suffering? That's insane. Heaven is said pouring amid love's timeless reciprocity. Think: Trinity. Think: Imago Dei. Think: all worlds. A core problem is that your Non-Christian premises conflate and/or equate the ontological condition of Man (with respect to his own self, logical necessity, and love) across Eden and Privation and Heaven. Just because you agree with the Christian on love ought expunge evil doesn't mean knowing so will free you of your generally Non-Christian premises.

          • Greg G.

            You seem to be arguing against what you wish I said instead of what I actually said. That is the insane part.

            no possibility in all such worlds of avoiding love's eternally sacrificed self

            I read that as Christianese for the crucifixion in this world but it may have been some other method of self sacrifice in other possible worlds. But would it not be some remedy for inevitable evil? Would it not involve suffering?

            But you turn it around into self-sacrifice, which is different from a sacrificed self. I never mentioned "self-sacrifice" but you apparently wish I had.

            But if self-sacrifice does not involve suffering, you may not be doing it right. You don't "give 'til it hurts"? Does some non-Christian allow you to use his/her computer? Have you not sold all you have and given it to the poor?

            Luke 18:22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

            Maybe you have trouble reading since you plucked your eye out, according to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. How do you type with just one hand? Or do you assume things in the Bible you don't want to do is metaphor and hyperbole?

            But to get back on track, you admit that Evil is not necessary. Is suffering also not necessary? That would be in my original statement.

            But what would evil be without suffering?

            You keep talking about "Non-Christian premises" but you haven't established any of your Christian assumptions.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            “..some other method of self sacrifice in other possible worlds….”

            Love’s acquiescence of the self, thy and not my, and far more, is (at the very least) housed within Eden, Privation, Heaven, and Trinity.

            “But would it not be some remedy for inevitable evil? Would it not involve suffering?”

            Huh? No love unless privation? And you left out the peculiar transcendentals of *weddings* and of *births* and of out pouring and of in-filling. You probably think there’s none of those unless privation too.

            “But you turn it around into self-sacrifice, which is different from a sacrificed self. I never mentioned "self-sacrifice" but you apparently wish I had.”

            I have no idea what that means.

            “But if self-sacrifice does not involve suffering, you may not be doing it right.”

            Huh? No love unless privation? And you left out the peculiar transcendentals of *weddings* and of *births* and of out pouring and of in-filling. You probably think there’s none of those unless privation too.

            “Giving to the poor….”

            Huh? No love unless privation? And you left out the peculiar transcendentals of *weddings* and of *births* and of out pouring and of in-filling. You probably think there’s none of those unless privation too.

            “….Evil is not necessary. Is suffering also not necessary?”

            Huh? Evil is privation is lack is want is suffering is void is hollow….. Good-minus-some-thing. I thought you knew that.

            “But what would evil be without suffering?”

            Huh? Evil is privation is lack is want is suffering is void is hollow….. Good-minus-some-thing. I thought you knew that.

            “You keep talking about "Non-Christian premises" but you haven't established any of your Christian assumptions.”

            I’m still waiting for you to fuss about actual Christian premises.

            Of course, if you ever actually do, well we won't get much farther than these superficial tidbits given that you've deemed from the get go that the Christian's transcendentals, and hence premises, and hence metaphysical accounting, just don't matter to this discussion.

            That is being granted you. Permanently. Shadows and edges and halves given that that is all that *can* be given without stuff that just doesn't matter.

          • Greg G.

            Are you trying to pull a "Who's on First" routine here, Costello?

            My argument is that suffering is not necessary. Do you accept that? If so, I show that it is not necessary if there is a being that is sufficiently powerful to prevent it. A sufficiently powerful being that allows unnecessary suffering is not benevolent.

            There is no need for me to rant about Christian premises when they are just assumptions. You cannot have a conclusion that is true without a valid logical structure and true premises. You have never attempted to establish your assumptions. So your argument is worthless.

            Your argument assumes a benevolent omnipotence. My argument shows that assumption is false.

            You spew out a great deal of Christianese without making a point. If I try work it out, you say "He's on first!" If you are going to use specialized terms, define them. I know what "heaven" means when most Christians use it but it is not clear what you mean by "Heaven". I know what "Eden" usually means but it seems to means something else to you. I know what "privation" means but what the heck is "Privation" to you? But more importantly, what do those words have to do with my argument. It just looks like you are using Cargo Cult logic. You have seen people use polysyllabic words in arguments that you don't understand so you throw out an argument that once worked for someone when it addressed a different topic.

            Please make your points and explain how your points address my argument.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Christian: evil isn't necessary. Evil is lack is suffering is hollow is privation is "The Good minus something"....

            You: why are you being evasive? Why the games? Is suffering necessary or not?

            So we're back to "can't read".

            And we've always known that the Christian's premises don't matter to his metaphysical and logical structures. According to you.

            [1] Premise: eggs are from the moon

            [2] Etc...

            [3] Conclusion: suffering isn't necessary wrt the Imago Dei and possible worlds.

            I told you, that is being granted you. Permanently.

          • Greg G.

            Great. We have established that all suffering is unnecessary in your paradigm. Yet suffering exists and it is all unnecessary.

            Is your God powerful enough to prevent all unnecessary suffering?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit at 20 min) Reality expunged of evil by *God*? Privation saturated with and therein annihilated by *God*? The emancipation of nothing less than *reality*? So you're still conflating those three worlds. I see you're still leaving out necessity's pesky transcendentals too. And they are pesky. Logical necessity is like that. Proportionate causality. Weddings. Births. It's a big mess on your end. Why? Well, the aforementioned conflation on your end and logical necessity on reality's end play a role, and there is this: You also seemed to have forgotten what per you doesn't matter. Here's a hint:

            1] Premise: eggs are from the moon

            [2] Etc...

            [3] Conclusion: suffering isn't necessary wrt the Imago Dei and possible worlds.

            I told you, that is being granted you. Permanently.

          • Greg G.

            So God had an option to create a world without suffering or to create a world with suffering.

            Since suffering exists, God chose to have suffering, the least benevolent of the available choices.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            That only goes through if one demonstrates that Eden is unnecessary. That is, if one can show that Power can create a one sided coin. Conflating Eden, Privation, and Heaven, and, then, that combined with expunging an array of transcendentals, seems to be what's happening. Eden isn't Heaven. It's Insufficiency. Nor is Eden Privation. Man was never going to stay in Eden. Man couldn't stay there. It's not obvious that Man evades love's triune topography, which is to say it's not obvious that Man evades the semantics of in-filling, and outpouring, and traversing, and love's acquiescence, and the semantics of weddings, and of births, and of incarnation. Further, Privation hasn't been shown to be necessary. Scripture presents us with a necessary Eden, an unnecessary Privation, and the necessary semantics of all of the transcendentals just described. Bride and Groom. The Infinite poured out to the bitter ends of worlds, and insufficiency in-filled..... and so on.... Speaking of weddings:

            “[The] very action of kenosis is not a new act for God, because God's eternal being is, in some sense, kenosis – the self-outpouring of the Father in the Son, in the joy of the Spirit. Thus Christ's incarnation, far from dissembling bling his eternal nature, exhibits not only his particular proprium as the Son and the splendor of the Father's likeness, but thereby also the nature of the whole trinitarian taxis. On the cross we see this joyous self-donation sub contrario, certainly, but not in alieno. For God to pour himself out, then, as the man Jesus, is not a venture outside the trinitarian life of indestructible love, but in fact quite the reverse: it is the act by which creation is seized up into the sheer invincible pertinacity of that love, which reaches down to gather us into its triune motion.” (D. B. Hart)

          • Greg G.

            That only goes through if one demonstrates that Eden is unnecessary.

            Suffering was unnecessary whether Eden was necessary or not. Suffering exists. God chose that unnecessary suffering exists.

            Or maybe there is no god.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            God creates things that don't exist? Except for your logical errors built atop Non-Christian premises you might be able to push that through. Unfortunately I see no hope for any such push. We're not talking about a Non-Christian landscape (for one thing), and, (for another thing) we all know that creating things that don't exist is a logical impossibility. In case you forgot, we were talking about Christian premises (the ones that don't matter per you and therefore are, by definition, not necessary for this discussion about Christianity) about reality, causalities, irreducible volition, proportionate causality, God, Man, evil, marriage, love, births, power, logical necessity, outpouring, infilling, possible worlds, and incarnation.

            But for all that, your hodgepodge of Non-Christian premises about, well, all of the above, seems to be working for you.

          • Mike

            but i've already said that this God wouldn't be benevolent if we couldn't suffer bc we are the kind of thing that 'grows' via 'suffering'. heck most of life is spent 'suffering': pain of high school romance; school work; struggling to fit in; existential angst; goals; old age, we are aware of our suffering like no other creature. yet somehow we sense that things ought to have been different and lo and behold we discover it once was different and again will be.

            so those genes have the goal of greater fitness greater and more life?

            again God created angles which are i think incapable of suffering but we are not angels. he wanted to create us as us not as dinosaurs or angels or viruses but us. apparently once a very proud angel rebelled and apparently so did we. maybe if you truly love something you really do set it FREE. for whatever his reasons maybe God created us to be the kind of thing that can be free and choose the good over the evil and be able to grow inspite of it who can participate in the struggle against evil.

            again your just assuming that all suffering is bad when it's clearly not.

            don't forget that the arguments have ZERO to do with whether God himself/itself is "Good" as for catholic theology God is perfect goodness for other independent reasons as covered by ed feser in the evil God challenge. i'd recommend reading it to get a flavor for the kind of metaphysics we're working with.

            great moral evils such as those described in the grand inquisitor chapter of brothers karamazov are very serious but they ultimately upon great reflection point distinctly back to God imho. and i think you think so too, otherwise you like so many atheists wouldn't be so worked about 'evolution' just working things out which is the only way you can honestly view massive moral evil.

          • Greg G.

            but i've already said that this God wouldn't be benevolent if we couldn't suffer bc we are the kind of thing that 'grows' via 'suffering'. heck most of life is spent 'suffering': pain of high school romance; school work; struggling to fit in; existential angst; goals; old age, we are aware of our suffering like no other creature. yet somehow we sense that things ought to have been different and lo and behold we discover it once was different and again will be.

            All that is perfectly understandable if there is no god. If suffering produces growth, then the growth is logically possible to achieve. A powerful enough god could then produce the growth without the suffering. The suffering is unnecessary. A god that would then produce the growth while including suffering for no real reason anyway is not benevolent. It is a sadistic choice.

            But then there are still living deer being ripped apart by wolves everyday. When there are people trapped in the rubble of an earthquake, finding a survivor after several days makes the headlines. Think of all those who were trapped alive during that time that were found a day too late or never found. What growth comes from that suffering?

            Suffering is not compatible with the existence of a benevolent sufficiently powerful being. You must choose whether god is not benevolent, not omnipotent or neither benevolent or omnipotent. Then you must choose whether that god would be worth worship. Or you can drop the whole charade.

            again God created angles which are i think incapable of suffering but we are not angels. he wanted to create us as us not as dinosaurs or angels or viruses but us. apparently once a very proud angel rebelled and apparently so did we. maybe if you truly love something you really do set it FREE. for whatever his reasons maybe God created us to be the kind of thing that can be free and choose the good over the evil and be able to grow inspite of it who can participate in the struggle against evil.

            So God could have made us incapable of suffering, too, but chose to make torture possible. Did God decide he would enjoy watching a planet full of people and animals suffering?

            again your just assuming that all suffering is bad when it's clearly not.

            I make no such assumption. Suffering is a consequence of the pain and discomfort motivators in animals that help keep the animal alive so it can reproduce. When you try to throw in a benevolent omnipotence, it no longer makes sense. An omnipotence should be able to create all necessary motivations free of pain. If the omnipotence cannot do that, then omnipotent is the wrong word choice.

            don't forget that the arguments have ZERO to do with whether God himself/itself is "Good" as for catholic theology God is perfect goodness for other independent reasons as covered by ed feser in the evil God challenge. i'd recommend reading it to get a flavor for the kind of metaphysics we're working with.

            This only says that there cannot be a being that is both benevolent and sufficiently powerful enough to prevent suffering, which includes all reasonable definitions of omnipotence.

            great moral evils such as those described in the grand inquisitor chapter of brothers karamazov are very serious but they ultimately upon great reflection point distinctly back to God imho. and i think you think so too, otherwise you like so many atheists wouldn't be so worked about 'evolution' just working things out which is the only way you can honestly view massive moral evil.

            You don't need gods to explain morals. Your rant on evolution shows you should probably read more books like Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin instead of The Brothers Karamazov.

          • Mike

            i think you're asking why we aren't angels or some other creature. as what we are, suffering makes sense to me at least, at least most suffering. again i think you're just confusing us with some imaginary creature.

            if it weren't for ppl trapped in quakes we wouldn't value our lives as much. but how many ppl are too many ppl trapped in quakes? is 1000 too much but 100 ok or is 1 too much? and why are 1000 too much to begin with if there is no God?

            again you equate suffering with torture which shows that you haven't thought things through enough imho.

            i've never heard of inner fish. anyway i've enjoyed the back and forth but i think we're not repeating ourselves take care and read feser's evil God challenge when you can.

          • Greg G.

            if it weren't for ppl trapped in quakes we wouldn't value our lives as much. but how many ppl are too many ppl trapped in quakes? is 1000 too much but 100 ok or is 1 too much? and why are 1000 too much to begin with if there is no God?

            If we live in a godless universe, there is nothing to prevent quakes or to do a miracle to keep people alive until they are rescued. That is just the way things are and we have to build earthquake resistant buildings to deal with the problem proactively. Because shit happens. The issue arises when a miracle worker is proposed that could prevent such things or make sure everybody escapes. In that case, one is too many.

            I remember valuing life before I could read simply because death was explained to me after coming across some road kill while crossing a street. Why should one person's, a hundred people's, or a thousand people's suffering be required to make people appreciate life?

            You have reservations about evolution. I don't know how seriously you take the Adam and Eve tale but if knowledge of good and evil can be gained from ingesting fruit, then why can't other knowledge be had in similar ways instead of having to learn through suffering. We could have knowledge of not sticking your hand in a flame in cherry and banana flavors. If Knowledge of Good and Evil can be passed down to offspring, so could any other type of knowledge. The fruit would have to be able to rearrange neurons in the brain and DNA sequences in the gonads. But if God was able to encode certain knowledge into fruit and other knowledge as instinct such as spiders knowing how to weave a web, then growth through suffering is not necessary.

            again you equate suffering with torture which shows that you haven't thought things through enough imho.

            The whole point of torture is the suffering. I do not equate them, because torture is just one example a cause of suffering. Your cognitive dissonance is trained to find a reason to shut down your brain before you can think it through. The most sensitive areas of the body are not vital organs, so torture can be performed on a person for months. The Inquisition produced masters at it. Scary movies don't bother me but reading an article on the practices of the Inquisition with pictures of their devices gave me nightmares. Why would God allow that in his name?

            i've never heard of inner fish. anyway i've enjoyed the back and forth but i think we're not repeating ourselves take care and read feser's evil God challenge when you can.

            All quadrupeds came from fish. Shubin shows how many features in land animals and fish are from the same structures. Nerves to fish gills were a direct run in fish without necks but as the gill structures became useless as they evolved into air breathers, the gill supports became throat structures, inner ear bones, and shoulder supports. The nerve that controls the throat happened to be on the wrong side of a gill support that became the clavicle and it could not be rerouted through the clavicle so the nerve comes out of the back of the neck, goes down around the clavicle and back up to the throat, not just in humans, but all mammals including giraffes. I think is the case for all land vertebrates. Maybe not snakes.

          • Mike

            ok well i've enjoyed the discussion but i think we're just talking past each other.

            exist question: do you want a God who will wipe away EVERY tear to exist? in your heart of hearts do you wish someone like that existed?

          • Greg G.

            exist question: do you want a God who will wipe away EVERY tear to exist? in your heart of hearts do you wish someone like that existed?

            YES!!!! My mother was like that for a few years. It was a great time to be alive.

            I would even settle for a real Santa Claus. Or functional wishing wells. But they only work as well as prayers.

          • Mike

            glad to hear it. your heart is already in the right place.

            take care and all the best.

          • adam

            are we not as 'God' has made us?

          • Greg G.

            Suffering also comes without freedom.

            Will there be freedom in your concept of heaven?

          • Mike

            not the kind of suffering that i think you like many atheists are outraged by. extreme moral evils are what makes us cry out for justice.

            yeah there has to be otherwise we wouldn't be the kind of thing we are.

          • Greg G.

            I mean any kind of suffering. What would be the point of it? You said above that "with freedom comes suffering", so do you think there is no freedom in heaven or do you think there will be an infinite amount of suffering resulting from freedom for eternity?

          • adam

            "God could easily prevent it all in which case we wouldn't be the things we are; we'd be robots wouldn't you agree?"

            You mean just like in Heaven?

          • Mike

            i don't think heaven will be God 'preventing' all evils. but if heaven came first then yes we'd not be the kind of things we are.

            if you love something, set it free.

          • adam

            "if you love something, set it free."

            And torture it for eternity if it doesnt come back?
            Hardly free,then.

            So you think there is evil in Heaven?
            Why?

          • Mike

            hell won't be torture for those who want it. c hitchens i suspect is enjoying his existence if he's in hell but 'enjoying' the way an addict enjoys his drug or something like that. some ppl heck many ppl enjoy a life of sin!

            there is i suspect the possibility of rebellion again like when satan rebelled and like when we did with adam and eve but we won't 'choose' the wrong thing in heaven. but we'll always be free i suspect as that's the kind of thing we are.

          • adam

            "hell won't be torture for those who want it."

            Who wants to burn eternally?

            "Mark 9:43, 48-49 “And if your hand causes
            you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than
            with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm
            does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted
            with fire.”"

            "but we won't 'choose' the wrong thing in heaven."

            Why not?
            Why do we now?

            "but we won't 'choose' the wrong thing in heaven. but we'll always be free i suspect as that's the kind of thing we are."

            So, it is your claim that God can make people like this, but it makes most not like this, so he can torture them for eternity?

          • Mike

            many MANY ppl don't want God to exist.

            now we choose the wrong thing bc we are fallen.

            God didn't create us to be robots; if he'd wanted robots he would have creates us like all the other animals.

          • adam

            "many MANY ppl don't want God to exist."

            Well especially the monster of the OT.

            "God didn't create us to be robots;"

            That sounds what Heaven is like.

            "but we won't 'choose' the wrong thing in heaven.

            "Why not?

            So, it is your claim that God can make people like this, but it makes most not like this, so he can torture them for eternity?

          • Greg G.

            Will suffering exist in your concept of heaven?

          • Mike

            maybe only a certain specific kind that is more like when you love your child so much it hurts.

          • adam

            "maybe only a certain specific kind that is more like when you love your child so much it hurts."

            You mean Pride?

          • adam

            "i don't think heaven will be God 'preventing' all evils."

            Why create evil in the first place, if you are just going to torture for eternity those so fall for it.

            Sounds more like a trickster god, like Loki

          • Rob Abney

            who created evil?

          • adam

            In the bible God claims he did.

            Isaiah 45:7King James Version (KJV)

            7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

          • Rob Abney

            Isaiah attributed that to God.
            What's your opinion?

          • Greg G.

            Isaiah attributed that to God.

            It is a logical consequence of the concept of a creator god. If there is nothing but a god, then there is something, then there is evil, it had to have been directly or indirectly created by the god.

            What's your opinion?

            Isaiah's assumptions were based on a poor understanding of the evidence.

          • Rob Abney

            So do you believe that God either directly or perhaps indirectly created evil?

          • Greg G.

            No, I think that is something like what Isaiah believed. I think God is imaginary.

          • Rob Abney

            No real God, so who created evil?

          • Greg G.

            We call things we don't like "evil". It is a concept but not a real thing.

          • David Nickol

            No real God, so who created evil?

            Are you saying the existence of evil proves that God is the creator? I thought the Catholic position was that evil was not created by God. Evil is allegedly a privation of good, analogous to darkness being an absence of light. Good and light are "real," but evil and darkness are an absence of good and light, respectively.

            I am certainly not convinced, but this is the Catholic position, isn't it?

          • Rob Abney

            I would agree that that is the Catholic position. What part are you not convinced of?

          • David Nickol

            What part are you not convinced of?

            The question is what you are not convinced of. You asked if there was no "real God," then who created evil. That, to me, implies that you believe there is a "real God," and he created evil. But the Catholic position is that God did not create evil. Evil is not a created "thing." I am asking what you believe.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I hope Rob won't mind if I jump in here ...

            On Catholicism, God "creates" suffering in the same sense that a man who has not finished pouring a beer "creates" the emptiness that remains in the glass. Which is to say, he doesn't so much "create" it, but rather, he just ain't done yet. On theism, the pint will only be full "in the fullness of time".

            The complete cannot engage in the act of completion. The infinite cannot journey towards the infinite. That which is already free cannot know the joy of being set free. Hence creation is subject to finitude precisely so that it/we can know the dynamics of the journey toward freedom, toward the infinite, toward the fullness of the pint, toward ultimate belonging. If you start at the finish line, there are no dynamics, only stasis. Finitude and time are what shape of the journey of love. Finitude is also the shape of suffering. Put the two together and you see why there can be no compassion without passion, i.e. without suffering. Hence The Passion. To prevent finitude and suffering would be to withhold the dynamics of love. They are two sides of the same exact coin.

            P.S. As I've mentioned before, the connection between finitude and love is convincingly explored in the recent movie Her, which is (unwittingly, I am pretty sure) an excellent theodicy of sorts. If you haven't seen it (spoiler alert), the guy is dating an OS, who appears to be a very suitable companion in life. But problems arise because the OS becomes practically unlimited by matter and finitude. Having in a sense surpassed finitude, the OS is no longer able to relate to the protagonist with a love that is properly shaped, with a love that is properly vulnerable, specific and intimate. Another nice job by Spike Jonze.

          • Rob Abney

            David, I agree with the Church, there is a real God, He did not create evil - since it is a diminishment of Good and not a "thing" to be created. I also believe that man created evil by doing acts that are less than good from the theistic viewpoint, or from defining it as he desires from a relativistic standpoint.

          • adam

            Isnt the real question:

            Why did Isaiah believe these were God's words?

          • adam

            I'll side with Epicurus

            Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he
            able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and
            willing? whence then is evil?

          • Rob Abney

            If the epicurus position disproves God then I agree with his query, whence then is evil (if that means where does evil come from).

          • adam

            While it may disprove nothing, it is a most valuable question when choosing a 'God'.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47968c2eaefa4f9181b4646021475ab8c462db74ae5a77412b54c606bae95068.jpg

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Necessary evil? Creating evil? The Non-Christian’s failure to account for the Christian claim of evil as privation (lack, suffering, want, hollow, void, “the good minus something”), Magian facts, Isaiah’s 150 year-old predictions in his letter to Cyrus, Cyrus’ god, world history, and exegetical science isn’t the Christian’s problem.

          • adam

            "The Non-Christian’s failure to account for the Christian claim of evil as privation "

            Like cancer in babies.

            " isn’t the Christian’s problem."

            Of course it is

            It was Jesus/Jehovah who claimed to be the source of such evil.

            I can only imagine what it must be like to worship such a monster depicted in the OT.

            King James Bible
            I and my Father are one. John 10:30

            So I can understand your reluctance to delve into the subject, but all your dancing around betrays you.

            "King James Bible
            I and my Father are one.
            "

            "The Non-Christian’s failure to account for the Christian claim of evil"

            There is no unified 'christian claim of evil'

            None of you can seem to agree on what christianity means, because christianity is SO DIVISIVE.

            So dance all you want....

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You've asserted that round squares exist, you've argued as if Occasionalism were in play, you've argued as if a claim regarding pain warning one of some danger being (here in privation) helpful to life is equivalent to stating that baby cancer is helpful too, and you don't seem to understand the many associations of necessity, possibility, and proportionate causality. Do you really think you're being..... Scratch that ~~ You're not being taken seriously. Sorry.

          • adam

            "You've asserted that round squares exist,"

            No, I've done something you've failed to do, I've demonstrated it.

            You can see it yourself and experience it yourself.

            "you don't seem to understand the many associations of necessity, possibility, and proportionate causality."

            AGAIN, you've failed to demonstrate this with all your dancing around and dodging.

            It is that you CAN'T demonstrate it, or that you understand that the consequences of the question undermines YOUR whole brand of 'christianity"?

          • Rob Abney

            Understanding good and evil is a great start to discovering God.

          • adam

            Absolutely!

          • Rob Abney

            Rather, look in the mirror and see a creature made in the image of God, but full of shadows and holes. That creature is the one who was created not the one who did the creating. But that creature (not necessarily you) is the one who created evil, which is a lack of good.
            Those are cute cartoons but they only emphasize a small point, theology is much deeper.

          • adam

            "Rather, look in the mirror and see a creature made in the image of God"

            If true, everyone should see the same God.
            But what they see is the God they create in their own minds.

            Evil is not a lack of good.

            "theology is much deeper."

            Actually it has no depth at all. Theology explains nothing but the wishes of those humans to believe in magic.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/61ff657dd660df8183b62e79c7a4271093e6ac7176ddbe1b9087c9385b68f922.png

          • Rob Abney

            And if the flashlight doesn't illuminate the cat, science will declare it doesn't exist.

          • adam

            "science will declare it doesn't exist"

            Nope, science will declare that there is no evidence of a cat.

            A cat that theist CLAIM to have found, but cant demonstrate.

          • Rob Abney

            What if there are cat tracks everywhere, fresh cat feces, and no way a cat could leave the room, and yet the flashlight still somehow didn't illuminate the cat so that the scientist could say definitively that the cat was there? Would the scientist claim that the evidence doesn't support the existence of a cat?

          • adam

            " Would the scientist claim that the evidence doesn't support the existence of a cat?"

            Sounds like evidence of a cat that is no longer around.
            Certainly fresh cat feces supports a cat, or a trickster dropping feces and making prints.

            In the same manner, claiming the universe is God's feces and pawprints, doesnt really apply unless you can demonstrate what God feces and pawprints really are.

          • Rob Abney

            "Sounds like evidence of a cat that is no longer around"
            What scientific evidence can support the claim that something is "no longer around"?

          • adam

            The evidence you presented, cat tracks and cat shit
            DNA can confirm that both came from a cat.

            However, if no cat is in the room, the evidence supports the cat is no longer around.

          • Rob Abney

            Just because you didn't see the cat doesn't conclude that the cat is not there, you just have inadequate tools for discovering Him.

          • adam

            No, we have the tools to understand IMAGINARY 'Hims', and even why people IMAGINE that it is there.

          • Rob Abney

            You seem to have changed the subject. What happens if the cat cannot be discovered using a flashlight? Are there other tools available? Can you in any way conceive that you could convince someone that the cat exists and if even still in the room even though you cannot find him with the flashlight?

          • adam

            "You seem to have changed the subject."

            Let's see

            "Just because you didn't see the cat doesn't conclude that the cat is not there, you just have inadequate tools for discovering Him."

            Is 'Him' God or the cat?

            " What happens if the cat cannot be discovered using a flashlight?"

            How so?
            We know what a cat is.

            "Can you in any way conceive that you could convince someone that the cat exists and if even still in the room even though you cannot find him with the flashlight?"

            You are talking a deliberate deception?
            Well of course, that is what the whole art of Illusion and people looking to scam people depend on.

            IF we assume that someone has deceptively hidden a cat, then probably any good illusionist could find the cat with a flashlight, it wouldnt even take a scientist.

            Or are we talking about Schrodinger's cat?

            That would be a different conversation from me.

          • Rob Abney

            There is no deception in this scenario, the cat is in the room, maybe the flashlight is not bright enough to illuminate him clearly, then you have inadequate tools.
            So can you convince someone of his existence (the cat's existence)?

          • adam

            "maybe the flashlight is not bright enough to illuminate him clearly"

            No the flashlight is plenty bright enough to illuminate him clearly, even unclearly, it would still illuminate a cat in a room.

            Even in your imaginary scene, all they would need to do is follow the cat tracks.

            UNLESS there was deception involved.
            Even then, KNOWING a cat would in the room, it would be found. The cat has a very limited capability to hide.

            "So can you convince someone of his existence (the cat's existence)?"

            I certainly doubt that I could, but this is what Theology is all about, CLAIMING to find a black cat that is not there, in the dark room.

          • Rob Abney

            This discussion, in my mind, was designed to see how you would respond to a very specific question. You can't change the variables since there made up for a specific reason, unless you just don't want to play along. This is not about an analogy for God, I shouldn't have capitalized the H in him earlier as that confused everything. Also, the cat is not immaterial, it is real.
            So if you can accept these parameters then tell me what the outcome would be. At first you said it is evidence of non-existence but I think you backed off of that.
            The point is, the cat is in the room but is undetectable by the scientist with the flashlight, it seems the tools are inadequate for the task of detecting the cat. So he needs other ways to deduct the existence of the cat.

            Maybe it can be an analogy for how we find God, but it may have too many differences to be applicable.

          • adam

            Then you should straight up ask the question.

            You've changed the parameters.
            Flashlight not bright enough, cat feces, cat tracks.
            The cat is undetectable.
            YOU'VE changed the parameter.

            The point is that scientists will use tools to search for the cat.
            Being a dark room, light is the illuminator that makes the room not dark.

            If after the room is no longer 'dark' the inability to find such a cat is diminished to the point where one can logically conclude that it is just a lie and there is no cat.

            Same with God.

            A God who WANTS to be found, has no reason to hide.

            However, there is a whole group of politicians for whom a hiding God is their greatest asset.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/54c8d1c0c0ee69b482e4c8d13f5c2fb8b2c0eec3f40b07115fd17a69716ed936.jpg

          • Rob Abney

            OK, you love science, There is No Way the scientist couldn't find the cat!!!
            What are the tools that can be used to discover God?

          • adam

            "OK, you love science, There is No Way the scientist couldn't find the cat!!!"

            Again, assuming no deceptions and that the cat is real.

            "What are the tools that can be used to discover God?"

            The IMAGINATION...

            God is a character in a set of stories.

            Not unlike Spiderman or Sherlock Holmes.
            You find out about these characters from reading what the authors wrote. But in reality what you find out is more about the imagination of those authors.

          • Rob Abney

            imagination of those authors

            imagination is based on images, sense data
            Spiderman and Sherlock are images of justice, there is no sense data for justice.
            What is the concept(s) that you think theists are trying to convey when they use their imagination to reveal God?

          • adam

            "What is the concept(s) that you think theists are trying to convey when they use their imagination to reveal God?"

            Hyperactive Agency Detection
            and
            Scientific ignorance.

          • Rob Abney

            You didn't answer the question.

          • adam

            "What is the concept(s) that you think theists are trying to convey when they use their imagination to reveal God?"

            Scientific ignorance

            Here is science behind NDAs.
            http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers/extreme-gravity.html

            Theist use their Hyperactive Agency Detection and ignorance to claim this is a demonstration of agency, when it is a property of the brain.

            It is an experience beyond the normal human experience, but it is not death, just chemistry in the brain.

            Religion is POLITICS.

            Let's assume, for the sake of argument that Jesus was a real person, that he was an itinerant preacher who started a political movement to help the poor, misrepresented and underrepresented.
            What The Church did was form a political party with political power, and got unbelievably wealthy from it,. They have a need to maintain this wealth and power, so they use this (along with Crusades/Inquisistions and witch burnings to maintain and increase their power.

            So they exploit this Hyper Active Agency Detection for their own benefit.

            Individuals looks for explanations of their own Hyper Active Agency Detection system and through their own ignorance and the power that the Church has implemented by violence and coercion to implement "God" in to the language and culture of the world, people 'believe' they have found 'God'. When they have only found their own minds and fail to understand that.

            Here is yet another path:
            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340425/

            Of course there are other natural ways to experience this effect as well. Stress, starvation, dehydration and of course, most likely with Paul in the bible, epilepsy.

            I hope this more thoroughly answers your question.

          • Rob Abney

            I appreciate you trying to answer the question, but you still did not. When a theist uses his imagination to reveal God it means that the theist has some idea of God but it is only intellectual, there can be no sense data. To use his imagination he must have some image of God.
            So your answer gives a lot of (unsupported) reasons but never tries to focus in on what the intellectual concept was that he used his imagination to convey.
            This may be more thinking than you want to do, but it is more fruitful than simply making accusations.

          • adam

            "To use his imagination he must have some image of God.",

            yes, from the imagination

            HAAD, you find what seems like agency.

            You examine and no agent is present.

            So you IMAGINE, it is something beyond perception

            Hence spirits, demons and Gods

            HIstorically, it was animals spirits, people spirits, this narrative evolved by those seeking power into 'Gods' which of course those in power had the ability to 'communicate' with, as science explained why Thor wasnt necessary for lighting, the Gods starting dying out to be replaced by a singular "God" which, AGAIN, is just the gap in the scientific knowledge.

            "This may be more thinking than you want to do, but it is more fruitful than simply making accusations."

            I gave you how science is able to create 'God Experiences', so my claims are supported, so I didnt JUST make accusations, I gave you the history. I provided a link so that you could understand HAAD and DMT and the "God Experience"

            I have been thinking and studying about this for almost 50 years

            I have read and studied the Bible, Koran, Vedas and a wide range of religious literature, as well as a wide range of scientific inquiry into religious experience and the history of "God". I have had the "God Experience" many times and studied not only my experience, but the experience of others.

            So what other 'thinking' do you think would be more fruitful?

          • Rob Abney

            ok, I hope you stick around here at SN for awhile, to discuss lots of these issues.

          • adam

            Why not discuss them now?

            SN may not allow me to stay.

          • adam

            " there can be no sense data. "

            But which ones do not use emotions about experiences that dont understand as sense data?

          • Greg G.

            Are there any cats that cannot be illuminated by a flashlight? Religion will still claim the cat is there but is invisible.

          • Rob Abney

            I don't know of any such immaterial cats. But immaterial substances are by definition invisible.

          • adam

            And as immaterial substances they dont leave evidence.
            Like feces and paw prints

          • Rob Abney

            are you and Greg G the same person?

          • Greg G.

            No, I am much better looking.

          • adam

            No,

          • adam

            No, I dont post under multiple names, I am only 'adam'

          • Greg G.

            "Immaterial" and "substance" are contradictory terms so it would be invisible by a lack of definition. Only a perfect vacuum would be immaterial but even that appears to be imaginary under quantum theory.

          • Rob Abney

            please tell me how substance and immaterial are contradictory?

          • Greg G.

            One is physical, one is not.

            sub·stance
            ˈsəbstəns
            noun
            1.
            a particular kind of matter with uniform properties.
            "a steel tube coated with a waxy substance"
            synonyms: material, matter, stuff
            "an organic substance"
            2.
            the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists and which has a tangible, solid presence.
            "proteins compose much of the actual substance of the body"
            synonyms: solidity, body, corporeality;

            im·ma·te·ri·al
            ˌi(m)məˈtirēəl/
            adjective
            1.
            unimportant under the circumstances; irrelevant.
            "so long as the band kept the beat, what they played was immaterial"
            synonyms: irrelevant, unimportant, inconsequential, insignificant, of no matter/consequence, of little account, beside the point, neither here nor there
            "the difference in our ages was immaterial"
            2.
            PHILOSOPHY
            spiritual, rather than physical.
            "we have immaterial souls"
            synonyms: intangible, incorporeal, bodiless, disembodied, impalpable, ethereal, insubstantial, metaphysical;

            EDIT: Had to rush out without checking my work. I had intended to have the definition of "immaterial" instead of "substance" twice.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            You should also consider using some less parochial dictionaries, or perhaps reading past the subsection titled "Simple Definition". There is nothing wrong with the definitions you provided, but broader contemporary usage also includes the classical and philosophical usage, something like "the essential nature underlying phenomena, which is subject to changes and accidents" (New Oxford American Dictionary), or "ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change" (Merriam Webster), or "a foundational or fundamental entity of reality" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Just for kicks, you could also look at the etymology.

            For example, even if you don't believe there is any such thing as a "substantial form", you will still have a hard time arguing that the expression is incoherent, unless you go and live on an island where you get to define for yourself what words mean.

            More generally, if you actually have a sincere desire to engage ideas that arise within a global community with a long history, it's a bad idea to assume that your narrow parochial semantics apply.

          • Greg G.

            1. the immaterial essential nature underlying phenomena, which is subject to changes and accidents

            2. immaterial ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change

            3. an immaterial foundational or fundamental entity of reality

            Using those definitions seems to make the combination with the word "immaterial" even more imaginary.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Whether immaterial substances are real or imagined is a separate debate, but let's first establish that the expression "immaterial substance" is not an oxymoron. The terms "immaterial" and "substance" do not contradict, as you claimed.

            As for the reality of immaterial substances, well, Carroll's "Laws of Nature" are pretty close cousins with "substantial forms" in the classical sense, i.e. in both cases we are talking about fundamental immaterial forms / patterns that persist and define the essential nature of entities (which meets the definitions I provided pretty well). I'm probably oversimplifying a bit, but I think, more or less, if you take "substantial forms" and then tack on a dogmatic opposition to the existence of organic wholes, i.e. a dogmatic commitment to the mechanical philosophy, then you get the modern conception of "Laws of Nature". It's not at all obvious to me why "Laws of Nature" are not considered to be immaterial "substances" (again, in the classical sense of the word "substance").

          • Greg G.

            OK, I retract my contradiction in terms claim for "immaterial substance".

            However, "patterns that persist and define the essential nature of entities" interests me. That seems to me to be psychological and/or language concepts more than something inherent in the entity. It's like my grandfather's ax, I've replaced the handle six times and the head twice but it is still the same ax. Some people say a screw and a bolt have the same essential natures because they don't know the differences. That is only within the mind of the user.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            It's like my grandfather's ax, I've replaced the handle six times and the head twice but it is still the same ax.

            Exactly. So, I am one of those kooky throw-backs who would say that your grandfather's axe is a fundamentally real thing, a real entity that has forever shaped the world. Others, including Carroll and, apparently, you, hold that your grandfather's axe has no "fundamental" existence, but rather exists in our minds (which are just complicated constellations of quarks, etc). That's not the craziest thing in the world, but I see no reason to buy into that. Again, I don't see the value of the dogmatic opposition to the existence of organic wholes.

          • adam

            "who would say that your grandfather's axe is a fundamentally real thing"

            but of course.
            But it is not the original axe.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            If at some point you determine that it is not in sufficient continuity with the original, then fine, it's not the original axe. That doesn't change the fact that there was, for some period of time, sufficient continuity to say that the form "grandfather's axe" subsisted. That form "stood firm" for some time. There was substantial, or essential continuity with the original, even across what I imagine were multiple minor changes to its material constitution. The form "grandfather's axe" was therefore, over some duration at least, a substance.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            From what I can tell, the semantics of emergentism simply fail given Carroll's requisites. Oderberg and Hart seem to agree with him given non-theism. It's odd, and still evolving, but it may be the case that at some point in this journey away from contingency Non-Theism may have to expunge even any hope of layers. It's not apparent that Christianity is committed to that given that it can accommodate (irreducibly real) causation, contingency, and so on.

          • adam

            "That doesn't change the fact that there was, for some period of time,
            sufficient continuity to say that the form "grandfather's axe"
            subsisted. "

            As long as grandfather owns it, it is grandfathers axe.

            "over some duration at least, a substance."

            At any time was it not a substance?

            When is the axe ever 'immaterial'?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I did not claim that the axe in toto was ever immaterial but rather that the form of the axe, the configuration of the matter, the way the matter was patterned and organized, that was immaterial. If you want to disagree with that, then take your pick: do you want to deny that it had a form at all, or do you want to claim that the form itself was material? (And if form and pattern are themselves material, then please tell me what it means to change the form, or the configuration, of matter.)

            As to whether the form of the axe was ever not a substance, I don't think I have any dogmatic convictions, but I'm inclined to say that the specific form "grandfather's axe" did not subsist prior to the manufacture of that particular axe.

          • adam

            " but rather that the form of the axe, the configuration of the matter, the way the matter was patterned and organized, that was immaterial."

            No, the axe and all its parts were never immaterial

            ONLY the THINKING about it, the concept of 'grandfathers axe' could even remotely be considered immaterial, but that is the structure of the brain, which is MATERIAL

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Wait, the structure of the brain is material ??? Is structure a special type of material then, or is structure just equivalent to matter, full stop?

            It's an interesting irony: Greg G. initially wanted to argue that a form could not be a substance, on the mistaken impression that "substance" and "matter" were interchangeable terms. Now you want to argue that form is matter (while also arguing that forms are not real substances).

            Do you think all patterns exist only in our brains? How about the laws of physics? Or are they composed of matter as well?

            I honestly have a very hard time unpacking what you might mean by all this.

          • adam

            "Do you think all patterns exist only in our brains? "

            Every single one that we observe is

            "How about the laws of physics? "

            A physical law or scientific law is a theoretical statement "inferred from particular facts, .... Baaquie

            Theoretical statements are not matter, although matter can be vibrated to produce the statements, or they can be expressed in a physical medium such as a book.

            But the concepts of physics are not matter, but an explanation of matter.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            We can focus on "theories" instead of "forms", but hiding behind another layer of language isn't going to change anything. A physical theory expresses a mathematical relationship, i.e. a formal relationship, i.e. a relationship among abstract forms. A physical theory can be sensibly said to be true if the formal relationships that it expresses correspond (approximately, at least) to formal relationships that actually exists "out there". What else could it mean to say that a physical theory is true?

          • adam

            "A physical theory expresses a mathematical relationship, i.e. a formal relationship, i.e. a relationship among abstract forms. "

            I guess I am missing something you are trying to make a point of

            Simple Definition of physical
            existing in a form that you can touch or see

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I have no problem with that definition of physical. I guess I'm missing your point as well?

          • adam

            physical vs abstract per your statement.

            'a relationship amoung abstract forms'

            Isnt a physical theory about the relationship between physical objects?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, it is about the form of that relationship between physical objects. That's what allows us to express the relationship in terms of mathematics.

          • adam

            please define 'form' for the sake of your argument.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            For the sake of this argument, I would happily use "form" interchangeably with any of the following: pattern, structure, configuration, arrangement, organization.

          • Will

            Information should work too. Combine the information about the axe with new axe raw materials, you should get something that can't be distinguished, physically, from Grandfather's ax. Of course our knowledge that the matter never came in contact with Grandfather's hand might make us think the ax isn't his, it doesn't seem to matter if the handle is replaced later as long as their is some continuity with the original. Being the closest continuer ax preserves the identity, as we would prefer the one that has simply had the handle replaced to the one created from scratch with the information about the ax. Of course, without someone pointing out which one is the closest continuer, no one would be able to tell the difference. In other words, the information about which ax is the closest continuer isn't actually in the ax, it's external.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            That's a good connection to make, but if you'll forgive me splitting hairs, I would stop short of trying to use "form" and "information" interchangeably. A form is abstract-able, i.e. capable of being abstracted and then represented abstractly symbolically, whereas in-form-ation is itself an abstract representation of form abstracted form, which can be re-presented either symbolically or through reinstatiation of the form in new material substrate. It makes sense to say "I see the form of the concentric ripples around the spot where I threw the rock", and it makes sense to encode abstract representations of those ripples (amplitude as a function of radial distance, etc) and call it information refer to that as a symbolic representation of the information, but it would be unusual, and I think even incorrect, to say: "I see the information in the concentric ripples, ...".

            Still, as I said, it's a great connection to make. The fact that the form of a thing can perdure as information is "proof" that the form of a thing and the material substrate of a thing are separable.

            It's interesting to see what happens when one makes a sort of pantheist / nominalist move to conflate form and matter. Paracelsus, an early modern critic of scholasticism who was especially disdainful of the Aristotle's hylemorphism, famously came up with the idea of the homonculus and theories of preformationism. It's not hard to draw a plausible causal arrow that begins with the conflation of matter and form and ends with preformationist silliness.

            EDIT: after a bit of reflection I realized that what I wrote about information didn't quite capture what I wanted to say. See strikethroughs.

          • adam

            OK

            Simple Definition of structure

            YOU were talking this:
            : the way that something is built, arranged, or organized

            I was thinking this:
            : something (such as a house, tower, bridge, etc.) that is built by putting parts together and that usually stands on its own

            Explains our disconnect

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Ahh, I see.

            But with that usage, the web page you linked to did not include a brain structure, but rather "the structure (in the sense of 'form') of a brain structure (in the sense of 'structured matter')".

          • adam

            Of course a physical representation of brain structure.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, a re-presentation of [something] that was present in the original thing. That [something] that is re-presented is not the matter of the original thing. So that [something] which was present in the original matter, and which is re-presented symbolically using the material of ink on the page, is not material.

          • adam

            Of course.

            Is there a more far reaching point that I am missing?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Maybe not. I was under the -- perhaps mistaken -- impression that you did not believe in immaterial substances. But now it's clear that you believe in information, and that it has immaterial continuity of existence, i.e. you believe in the existence of immaterial substance. Sorry if I misunderstood.

          • adam

            Obviously depending on which definition one uses it can be either.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, absolutely. Sorry if I now step on my soapbox for a second ...

            The thing is, if one really wants to reap the fruits of our intellectual heritage, one has to engage the intellectual tradition on its own terms, making an effort to work within the semantic ecosystems in which ideas were put forward and developed, and not just within the narrow parochial semantics of contemporary colloquial usage.

            What really puts the frosting on the cake for me is when someone:

            1. Decides that a naive contemporary interpretation of a classical statement is "just reading the plain meaning of the words", and then
            2. Declares the idea to be silly (which in fact it probably is, according to the semantics they have applied), and then
            3. When guided toward a more historically grounded interpretation, dismisses that more correct interpretation off as "playing word games" and "twisting the meaning of words". The irony at that point is just too much to bear ...

            ===
            Now, you haven't really done all that, so I must apologize that I have unfairly directed some pent-up frustration at you. That was actually a very reasonable and civilized conversation that we just had, and I thank you for that.

          • adam

            "Now, you haven't really done all that, so I must apologize that I have unfairly directed some pent-up frustration at you. "

            Which I did not detect.

            Thank you as well.

          • adam

            " so I must apologize that I have unfairly directed some pent-up frustration at you"

            At the point I realized my own frustration, that's when I decided to ask for definitions, to make sure we could converge again on the subject.

            Dictionaries are the great equalizers.

          • adam

            "Wait, the structure of the brain is material ???"

            http://www.indiana.edu/~busey/Q301/BrainStructure.html

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, perfect. A web page that reveals the structure of the brain without physically reproducing the matter of which brains are composed. What more evidence do you want that structures and forms are immaterial?

          • adam

            Simple Definition of structure Merriam Webster

            : the way that something is built, arranged, or organized

            "A web page that reveals the structure of the brain without physically reproducing the matter of which brains are composed."

            The image is a physical reproduction of the structure of the brain

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, physically reproduced using completely different material substrate. Therefore the essential form (or aspects of it, at least) has perdured, untethered to the original matter.

          • adam

            Of course, it is a physical representation of the physical structure of the brain.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Wait, when you say "of course", do you mean you agree that a structure can perdure untethered to the original matter in which that structure was first recognized?

            If so then you would seem to agree on my two fundamental points:

            1. Structures / forms exist
            2. Structures / forms are not tethered to any particular material manifestation. They therefore subsist independently of any particular material manifestation, which also implies that they are immaterial.

          • Greg G.

            But it is more psychological than a matter of continuity. If you get a new car and replace the floor mats, it is still the same car to you. Eventually you replace the windshield wipers. then the tires. Then other things. At some point, you have to question whether it is the same car but at each step no real change is perceived.

            You end up with your car with no original parts and a pile of parts. If you reassembled the old parts, which is the car you bought.

            The molecules that make up our bodies are sometimes replaced. If every atom that you were composed of at birth has been replaced, are you the same person? But when you were born, every atom was once part of your mother's body, so would you be you or your mother?

            Then there is the Ship of Theseus.

            The form of something is a vague mental construct. The something may well change over time.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            See, I would go further than that. I would actually say that it really is still the same car. I know this will sound really far out, but there actually are a lot of people who share this bizarre philosophy that I'm laying out.

            I absolutely agree that formal continuity is vague. The concept of species, for example, is made vague by the existence of ring species of birds. Nonetheless, our lack of clean demarcation lines doesn't mean that we can't differentiate species. Most important concepts are vague, if you look deeply enough. That doesn't mean that the referents of those concepts are any less real. If you refuse to tolerate the vagueness of formal continuity, then you end up with the nominalism of Heraclitus: "You can't step in the same river twice". There's a part of me that's very sympathetic to that view, as I do want to savor each moment of existence in its own unique glory. However, if you really can't step in the same river twice, well, there goes the whole notion of scientific replication (and with it, any hope experimental confirmation).

            So take your pick: do you want to assent to the existence of formal continuities, or do you want to jettison the notion of scientific replication?

          • adam

            " But immaterial substances are by definition invisible."

            But cats arent invisible by definition.

          • Greg G.

            Chesire cats can be mostly invisible.

            Oh, wait... they are imaginary.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            It's just too obvious isn't it ;-)
            As is the critic's dance of equivocations........

          • Greg G.

            Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)
            7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

          • Rob Abney

            Ok, thanks, I just got that same answer from adam.
            In your opinion, who created evil?

          • Greg G.

            I replied to the question under adam's reply before this one popped up in Recent Comments.

          • Greg G.

            If suffering serves no purpose then an omnipotence that allowed it would be a sadist and not benevolent. If suffering serves a purpose then it does something that is logically possible to do. An omnipotence under the weak definition of omnipotence could also achieve whatever suffering does so suffering is superfluous in that case as well, making that God sadistic, too.

            I would venture that there are benevolent beings on earth that are not omnipotent. If there is an omnipotent being, it is sadistic and not benevolent.

          • Mike

            "could also achieve whatever suffering does"

            you're someone who thinks that if God can't make 2+2=5 then she's not God.

          • Greg G.

            I used the weak definition of omnipotence - having the ability to do anything that is logically possible. Do you prefer a definition of omnipotence that means "not omnipotent"?

          • Mike

            ok so it's not possible to create a creature like us for whom suffering generally is good and then turn around and take all that suffering away and still maintain that the creature is the same.

          • Greg G.

            The creature would be different. So what? No two creatures are exactly alike.

            There would then be no unnecessary suffering. If there was an omnipotence all suffering would be unnecessary.

            Why wouldn't a benevolent omnipotent being do a billion miracles per nanosecond per sentient being to prevent unnecessary suffering? It could do a billion times more as easily as not doing them.

          • Mike

            "So what?" so that makes all the difference. all humans are alike in terms of their nature meaning nature in the aristotelian thomistic sense. but i suspect you deny that there are universals which is incoherent but that's another issue.

            bc obviously having many things done for us isn't good for us given the kinds of things we are. no pain no gain.

            but that's not a big deal what is a big deal is extreme moral evil that's what causes some ppl to enter the seminary others to take drugs and others to lose their minds.

            why is there extreme moral evil? on naturalism it's an illusion.

          • Greg G.

            Humans are the product of an evolutionary process. Pain and pleasure are great motivators in place of an omnipotence that can do things for us.

            no pain no gain

            That would not be the case if there was a benevolent omnipotence. You are making excuses for God.

            why is there extreme moral evil? on naturalism it's an illusion.

            You are changing the subject? You are assuming a god. There are some acts we like and some we dislike and some we dislike very much. We call such things "extreme moral evils". It is the same under naturalism.

          • Mike

            "Humans are the product of an evolutionary process."
            our bodies are the efficient cause is but not the formal cause. but that's a whole other discussion. needless to say you're beg the question.

            i think you're confusing "goodness" with "painlessness".

            a man raping a little girl and hacking her to death for fun say just for s*its and giggles is so evil that it screams out for justice to high heaven. naturalism has to say that that's just his genes doing their thing or whatever but can't account for the moral revulsion we feel. MANY MANY atheists see many social issues as MORAL evils as if somehow the universe 'cared' about us.

          • adam

            "a man raping a little girl and hacking her to death for fun say just for
            s*its and giggles is so evil that it screams out for justice to high
            heaven. "

            And yet, high heaven provides none.

            IN FACT, according to the bible if the man believes and repents he could be in Heaven and the little girl could be in Hell.

          • Greg G.

            The evolution of social beings from creatures that care for their young, with a sense of fairness and revulsion for pain accounts for what you call "moral revulsion". A grown man causing pain to a child raises anger. Raping a little girl raises anger. Killing a child raises anger and by a painful method raises anger. An unfair act that was done for gits and shiggles raises anger. Combine them all and you have an outrage. You don't need a god to explain that.

            Why would a benevolent omnipotence allow a man to do that to a child? You assume he had some reason, some mysterious ways. That the man's free will to do that trumps the girl's free will to not have that happen. If God doesn't see such a thing as being any worse than the man lusting for the girl's mother in his heart, why should you have moral outrage?

            But you are running away from my argument. How can suffering exist if there is a benevolent omnipotence?

          • adam

            " no pain no gain."

            What does a baby gain from cancer?

          • adam

            "ok so it's not possible to create a creature like us for whom suffering
            generally is good and then turn around and take all that suffering away
            and still maintain that the creature is the same."

            So YOUR "God" does not have that power.

          • adam

            "you're someone who thinks that if God can't make 2+2=5 then she's not God."

            So you dont that she could make 2+2=5?

            Why not?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You've not demonstrated any contradiction between omni/omni/omni. You're conflating possible worlds and equating them ta'boot. You're also demanding that God remove one side of a two sided coin. After all that, you're leaving out from all those possible worlds the unavoidable transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality. Then, after said reasoning, you're asking the Christian to explain and/or defend the unrecognizable nonsense you've invented. If that's confusing, then you know why we're scratching our heads and staring in amazed bewilderment.

          • Greg G.

            I only used the weak definition of omnipotence. There are no other omni involved. I am not omnibenevolent but I am benevolent enough to prevent all suffering if I was sufficiently powerful to do it.

            See, I can abandon omnipotence completely and the argument still stands that there is no being that is sufficiently benevolent and sufficiently potent to prevent all suffering.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Persistence while one is lost within the aforementioned errors (which one is now demonstrably unware of) while leveling what one thinks are solutions to his own imagined problems not only has no hope of addressing that array of errors and transcendentals but further solidifies the fact that he clearly isn’t talking about any logical possibility within said errors and transcendentals, much less the Christian *God*.

          • Greg G.

            A sufficiently powerful god would transcend trancendentals. You are making excuses for a lack of omnipotence but you want to still you the word.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Demands and shouts screaming for round squares and one-sided coins is, apparently, all we're going to hear from you. At least so far.

          • adam

            Well you could demonstrate how the bible God is still onmi, onmi, onmi based on what Greg is saying

            The bible God claims that it creates evil.
            Does it not have the power to eliminate evil, or does that take another kind of God that has that power?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            The contradictions, non-Christian premises, and logical absurdities we've been given to work with, and which we've been told to claim as our own, don't merit the effort. Round squares is a no-go. Full stop.

          • adam

            What contradictions?

            Doesn't omni, omni, omni mean omni?
            Or does it just contradict the story line in the bible?

            Not following you

            Can God not create a world without evil?
            Is not Heaven such a place?
            Then why evil?

            How is this a round square, unless evil=love?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            What contradictions? You're not even aware that you're unaware. As already pointed out:

            [1] You're conflating possible worlds. Do you know how many? Is it two? Three? More? Less?

            [2] and you're equating them ta'boot

            [3]You're also demanding that God remove one side of a two sided coin.

            [4] You're leaving out from all those possible worlds the unavoidable transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality.

            [5] Then you're asking the Christisn to explain and/or defend the unrecognizable nonsense you've invented.

            [6] The difference between necessary, necessarily possible, possible but not necessary, and logically impossible is lost in your muddled non-Christian premises -- you know -- the premises you're arguing against.

            [7] Even worse, the Non-Christian’s failure to account for Magian facts, 150 year-old predictions, Cyrus’ god, world history, and exegetical science isn’t the Christian’s problem.

          • adam

            So you are going to ignore my question?

            1. With an omni, omni, omni, why would there be limitations
            2. With an omni god why arent they equal in such a God's eye?
            3 No, I dont believe in the supernatural, but is all these worlds are possible, then it is not a two sided coin and you are artificially constraining the argument
            4. Im not leaving those out, and why wouldnt an Omni transcend those?
            5. No it is the Christians who invented nonsense, that they cant seem to demonstrate or justify.

            "The difference between necessary, necessarily possible, possible but not
            necessary, and logically impossible is lost in your muddled
            non-Christian premises"

            And what makes YOU the authority of what is necessary or possible?

            What is necessary that a God creates evil?
            What is necessary about a Heaven void of the same evil?

            Then what is necessary about suffering?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Why are there limits on Omni X 3? Oh dear. Round squares. More than one possible world isn't constraining, it's widening. Necessary suffering? Creating evil? Wow. When you actually have a question about Man/God that doesn't presuppose premises which fail in [1] through [7] (my previous post etc.) let us know.

          • Greg G.

            What is "necessary suffering" if a weakly omnipotent being exists? If suffering does something that is necessary, a weakly omnipotent being could do that thing because it is logically possible to do. That makes the suffering part of it superfluous. The fact that the omnipotence chooses to do the thing with unnecessary suffering means that it is a sadistic being... or the being doesn't exist.

          • adam

            I did, you avoided.

            And you avoided addressing where I fail.

            But if that is the best you've got, I understand.

          • Greg G.

            You didn't qualify "omnipotence" to mean "able to do the logically possible" so he jumped to "round squares" rather than address your argument head on.

          • adam

            Well if 'God' created everything that would include logic, so I dont see why that is a deal killer.

            Besides my questions were not about the illogically impossible anyway.

            He just ducks.

          • Greg G.

            I started out with the weak definition of omnipotence and he still cried about round squares. I showed the argument was no different even if the being was "sufficiently powerful" with no implication of omnipotence and he was still bringing up round squares.

          • adam

            And the problem with round squares is exactly what?

            Here it is demonstrated:
            https://youtu.be/oWfFco7K9v8

          • adam

            "Round squares."

            Yes, round squares

            https://youtu.be/oWfFco7K9v8

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Logical impossibilities combined with non-Christian premises within your questions are all you’ve demonstrated so far. You've not presented any questions to answer. Not about Christianity, that is. You've not shown that [1] Evil (Suffering) is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized, and, [2] Evil (Suffering) is logically impossible, and [3] Evil (Suffering) is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse. Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei. Nor have you approached that entire array with a coherent and Christian accounting of those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality applied across the board. So you've presented no relevant questions with respect to Christian truth claims about Man, God, privation, heaven, Eden, and the metaphysical geography of what cannot be less than (given the triune God) what D. Hart terms love's timeless "one-another".

          • LHRMSCBrown

            *If* you mean to assert that you really do believe in a round square which exists somewhere, or that such a thing can exist in some possible world, that is fine. It would certainly explain your misguided approach to presuppositions, proposition and logic, syntax, and Christian premises.

          • adam

            "*If* you mean to assert that you really do believe in a round square "

            And yet it is clearly demonstrated, you can see it with your own eyes, you can experience it directly.

            It is a matter of perspective.

            And yet, you want to deny it for a set of stories in a book written by men who didnt know where the sun went at night.

            THAT explains YOUR misguided approach, and all the dancing you are doing AROUND the subject.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            An assertion of the logical possibility of a round square. Hence Non-Theism.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Are you trolling?

          • Will

            I've gotten the impression that he really thinks he's saying something profound, though it's pretty clear to me that he isn't usually even saying anything coherent (except on occasion).

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Merely refuting the claim of round squares it seems. It's not profound at all. More like elementary.

            While clearly not elementary in that sense (by any standard) I'm still not sure what to do with pointing to illusions of causes and calling them causes.

          • adam

            "I've gotten the impression that he really thinks he's saying something profound"

            I've demonstrated round circles, to counter ......Browns avoidance dance.

            I am saying something VERY profound.

            And I have demonstrated that it is very coherent.

          • adam

            NO, a DEMONSTRATION of a round square.
            Demonstrating that it is a matter of perspective, which apparently YOUR BRAND of christianity, has a severely limited perspective.

            "Hence Non-Theism."

            Interesting how a scientific demonstration negates your theism.

          • Greg G.

            The illusion of a round square was demonstrated. Hence theism.

          • Rob Abney

            I see a square and a circle but not a round square! Am I missing the round square? Where is it!?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            :-)

          • adam

            Watch the video and watch the squares turn into circles and the circles turn into squares.

          • Rob Abney

            I did watch it. The mirror image is unexpected but the square itself does not become a circle.

          • adam

            Visually it does when rotated.

          • adam

            Visually it does either by the mirror or by rotation.

          • Rob Abney

            That is a cool illusion but which object would you call a round square?

          • adam

            They can all be displayed as both.

          • Greg G.

            The shapes are neither square not circle. Each is an illusion from a certain perspective.

          • Greg G.
          • LHRMSCBrown

            Yep. [X] = [Non-X]

          • adam

            Yet clearly demonstrated so that even someone like you can observe it.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I didn't observe that. If you don't know the difference though, well I'm not surprised.

          • adam

            Well you should have watched it, it is clearly demonstrated.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Droll. [X] = [Not X]

          • Rob Abney

            It's not a round square, its a square with rounded corners.

          • adam

            It clearly displays both round and square, from the same object.

          • Rob Abney

            I went to youtube to watch the video. There is another video demonstrating how the square object has rounded corners to give the perception of being a circle.

          • adam

            Yes, I know how it works.

            It clearly displays both round and square, from the same object.

          • Rob Abney

            Please give me your definition for square and for circle.

          • adam

            Simple Definition of circle
            a perfectly round shape

            Simple Definition of square
            : a four-sided shape that is made up of four straight sides that are the same length and that has four right angles

          • adam

            No, it is I who am surprised

            " to watch and sometimes also listen to (someone or something) carefully" Merriam Webster

            If you can claim original sin and Hell as acts of love, this should be easy.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Hell is lovelessness, privation. God wills all to have otherwise. The reason you don't nderstand the absolute nature of that is because you don't believe in the law of non-contradiction, that [X] = [Not X] is in fact false.

          • adam

            "Hell is lovelessness, privation. God wills all to have otherwise."

            Yes, I understand just how impotent God is.

            It obviously doesnt have Free Will.

            Just as easy as eternal punishment for a temporal act is love.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            See the other location in this thread with this same exchange. This double-location nonsense is (IMO) rude.... clutter etc..... I'll not post in this section again. I did reply in the other location in this same thread though.

          • adam

            "Hell is lovelessness, privation"

            Not what Jesus said in the book:
            Matthew
            13:41-42, 49-50 “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashingof teeth.”

            Mark
            9:43, 48-49 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell,to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”

            "God wills all to have otherwise."

            Then your "God" has no Free Will.
            Or is just impotent?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Oh. I see. One verse theologies. Well, just FYI, It's God's will that all men come to repentance, that all men find life. It requires reading the Bible as a singular metanarrative - hence one verse theologies just won't do. They're good soundbites though. Impotent? Oh, yes, that again. God should be able to make round squares and one sided coins. One of these days you may actually ask a question or make a comment that is actually about, you know, Christianity.

          • adam

            No, not one verse theology.

            A supposed quote from the character Jesus in the book the bible, that contradicts what you wrote.

            Yes, of course I understand under Revealed ReligionTM, EVERYONE's metanarrative is unique to them. Hence metanarratives that are unique just wont do.

            Good soundbites, obviously for some quotes from Jesus are meaningful, for other meaningless - metanarrative strikes again.

            " God should be able to make round squares and one sided coins. "
            Only if it is OmniX3, but that is obviously someone elses metanarrative.

            " One of these days you may actually ask a question or make a comment that is actually about, you know, Christianity."

            If there was only some way to separate out all the different metanarratives and discover its core, then it might be meaningful.

            But at the rate christianity is dividing and splitting from itself, that seems more unlikely every day.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I keep waiting for you to actually talk about Christianity. I've no interest in your Non-Christian religion, or whatever it is you keep describing, and so there's never really been anything to even say other than, "Huh?" and stare in wide-eyed amazement at your colorful collocation of Non-Christian delights.

          • adam

            "I keep waiting for you to actually talk about Christianity. "

            Well then, it would be up to you to define what YOU mean by 'Christianity', and how that differs from the tens of thousands of other "Christian" belief systems.

            Such a problem with Revealed ReligionTM, everyone creates there own version.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I've learned lots of mine from large swaths of mainstream Christendom. Nothing fancy. Eden. Heaven. Privation. Trinity. Love. As I said, I'm just not interested in your Non-Christian religion, or whatever it is you're talking about. I don't see any obligation on my part at all..... other than perhaps to simply keep pointing that out. If I told you that your Atheism means you are forced to conclude that the moon is made of cheese, and then demanded justification for your belief (on an Atheist blog no less) you'd be perfectly justified just sitting back and replying, "Huh? I've not idea what you're talking about." And then just keep repeating that every time even the faintest whiff of this or that cheese/moon juxtaposition arrived on scene.

          • adam

            " As I said, I'm just not interested in your Non-Christian religion, or whatever it is you're talking about."

            The God of Abraham and it lack of Omniism.

            The basic question is the same one Epicurus postured

            Why worship a non Omni 'God'?

            " If I told you that your Atheism means you are forced to conclude that
            the moon is made of cheese, and then demanded justification for your
            belief "

            Yes, I could justify that I dont believe the moon is made of cheese.
            And it would take less effort than ad hominem and ranting about round circles, but that's just me interested in truth.

            But what I have done is ask questions about the God of Abraham, Jesus who claimed to be that 'God'.

            I dont know if you are a non-God of Abraham christian like Thomas Jefferson, or a Creationist who 'God' is Omni Max.

            But it makes no matter, since you are apparently have no interest in the conversation or defining your own brand of christianity.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Of course one can justify and clarify and unpack. But in order to do so one would have to actually care. The very fact that an atheist would tell a Christian something that is (as equally as) unthinking as cheese/moons isn't motivating. It just fosters indifference.

          • adam

            " The very fact that an atheist would tell a Christian something that is
            (as equally as) unthinking as cheese/moons isn't motivating. It just
            fosters indifference."

            I dont believe I have done that, and you have born false witness against me on at least two occasions.

            Seems you really do like to discuss non-Christian subjects.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Someone telling me they saw a round square is someone telling me about Non-Christian subjects.

          • adam

            A subject that YOU brought up, not me.

            Thanks for making my point, and TRYING to blame me.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You implied a logical contradiction to God. I equated your misstep to asking of God that He make round squares. That's what I brought up.

            I didn't make you go on and on telling me that there are round squares. You did that all on your own. Videos and all.

          • adam

            "You implied a logical contradiction to God."

            Maybe to your unspecified 'god', but not to an Omni Max God.

            "I equated your misstep to asking of God that He make round squares."

            I dont ask imaginary characters from stories in books to make anythingl.

            "That's what I brought up."

            Of course, YOU BROUGHT IT UP,
            I answered it.
            Video and all, explaining that it is all a matter of perspective.

            But in the end, this is how you witness to me.
            You TRY to blame me.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I'm blaming you again here: Asserting [X] = [Non-X] isn't a matter of perspective. If your perspective is telling you that you and the moon are identical then follow logic, not your perspective. In the same way, logical contradictions asked of God is the same: follow logic and realize the error in your Non-Christian premise about God. Carroll has to abandon logic for the illusion, else God, but the Christian is under no intellectual obligation to dance to nonsensical tunes. -Cause [you] ain't the [moon]. Not in any possible universe.

          • adam

            "Asserting [X] = [Non-X] isn't a matter of perspective"

            AGAIN, my assertion is [Non-X]=[Non=X] is a matter of perspective
            AGAIN bearing false witness

            And bearing a small perspective.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Since you claimed that a video made it appear as if there really were an object that was both round and square and that the question is a matter of perspective, I'll repeat myself:

            Asserting [round] = [square], which just is asserting [X] = [Non-X], *isn't* a matter of perspective and to foist "perspective" into logical contradiction isn't helping you. If your perspective is telling you that you and the moon are identical then follow logic, not your perspective. In the same way, logical contradictions asked of God is the same: follow logic and realize the error in your Non-Christian premise about God. S. Carroll has to abandon logic for the illusion, else God, but the Christian is under no intellectual obligation to dance to nonsensical tunes. -Cause [you] ain't the [moon]. Not in any possible universe.

          • adam

            "Since you claimed that a video made it appear as if there really were an
            object that was both round and square and that the question is a matter
            of perspective”,"

            Not only did I claim that, the video CLEARLY demonstrates EXACTLY that.

            " I'll repeat myself:
            Asserting [X] = [Non-X] isn't a matter of perspective. "

            I'll repeat myself, you bear false witnesss against me.

            And you bear a small perspective.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            So the demonstration led you to believe that [X] vs. [Not-X] is a matter of perspective. That in fact there just may be an [X] which is also a [Not-X]. In other words, you may be you, or you may be the automobile parked outside, and the truth of the matter is that it's all a matter of perspective.

            Okay then.

            Granted.

          • adam

            "So the demonstration led you to believe that [X] vs. [Non-X] is a matter of perspective."

            Nope.

            Just like I said - AGAIN, my assertion is [Non-X]=[Non=X] is a matter of perspective

          • LHRMSCBrown

            In other words, you may be you, or you may be the automobile parked outside, but the truth of the matter is that it's all a matter of perspective. As for the non-information from the cartoon, well, cartoons are fun, as was that one, but, even still, you may want to avoid defining reality by cartoons.

          • adam

            "Why are there limits on Omni X 3? Oh dear. Round squares."

            Yet, even a simple human being can demonstrate what your deity cannot...

          • LHRMSCBrown

            [X] = [Not X]

          • adam

            No, it is (Not X) = (Not X)

            It is a matter of perspective.

            Easier than claiming Original Sin and Hell are acts of "love'

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Hell is lovelessness, privation. God wills all to have otherwise. The reason you don't nderstand the absolute nature of that is because you don't believe in the law of non-contradiction.

          • adam

            "Hell is lovelessness, privation. God wills all to have otherwise."

            Yes, I understand just how impotent God is.

            It obviously doesnt have Free Will.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            QED on morality on Hume vs. the triune. Tanks-man. Don't worry. I don't expect you to understand.

          • adam

            "you don't nderstand the absolute nature of that is because you don't believe in the law of non-contradiction."

            But you've FAILED to demonstrate this ad hominem, but I understand if that is the best you've got.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You believe that [X] = [Not X]. That's not a move against you. It's a move against a claim. It's like the Trinity in a way, given that simplicity helps to reveal the error of your propositional logic. For example:

            Simplicity reminds us that distinction is not division, not amid Logos in God, nor Logos with God, nor Logos God. The Divine Mind carries us there into the Divine Communique just as the Divine Communique carries us into love’s elemental diffusiveness of the good wherein, again, distinction is not division. Truly it is the case that Pure Act void of both formal and final causes, void of potentiality, constitutes all such distinctions – necessarily void of division.

            Now, on your proposition, you're not referencing distinction within simplicity, void of division, but rather you are referencing characters assigned meaning in the context of logic. You want to try to say things in a way which forces us into the ocean of Wittgenstein-esc language games, and that is fine if you want to do that. But then you're not reading these words if that is the case given that "these" and "reading" actually referent "Airplanes" and "Swimming".

          • adam

            "You believe that [X] = [Not X]."

            Nope, thats just you bearing false witness, AGAIN.
            Christian hospitality

            " It's like the Trinity in a way,"

            Yes, in a way, a deceptive perspective.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/48f64686cc56c93e340da908278a26b5ca4234795178a430344b7c7698c95824.jpg

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Sorry. I thought you believed you actually found a round square. My mistake.

          • adam

            I certainly demonstrated round squares

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Okay thanks ~

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Brown doesn't care much for mathematics, apparently.

          • adam

            Brown seems to be stuck on some Post-Modernism word salads for the most part..

          • Ignatius Reilly

            And as expected no theist calls him out on his silliness

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Yep. That pesky [X] = [Not X] gets me every time :-(

          • adam

            Yes, just like eternal torture for a temporal indiscretion = love gets me every time.

            Yes, just like the penalty of death, or eating a magic fruit, while not having the knowledge = love gets me every time.

            Yes, just like a God creating sin, becoming human so it would die for that sin, for a few days, to relieve the punishment that same God imposed.

            Get's me everytime.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I can't help if you can't read scripture. An eternally evil world? Really? And those pills really do give us our eternal life through our digestive tract. Creating evil, yeah, a few skeptics like to attempt that fallacy.

            Yawn......

            One of these days you're actually going to talk about Christianity. Of course you'll have to read a few books first. Or just love someone. Either way, the irreducible emerges.....

          • adam

            I've read the bible,

            " An eternally evil world?"
            What are you talking about?

            Apparently you dont understand what you are spouting about enough to explain it.

            That's what I've come to understand about christians and Christianity.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Sorry. Thought you mentioned hell. My mistake.

          • adam

            I did mention Hell, so my mistake, not sure I understood you.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            ~ Okay thanks ~

          • adam

            "What contradictions? You're not even aware that you're unaware. As already pointed out:"

            No, like with God, you make the CLAIM, you've not demonstrated that I am unaware of being unaware.

            Demonstrate this 'unawareness' that I possess.

          • Greg G.

            Nope. I started with the weak definition of omnipotence and lowered the bar to sufficiently powerful. If suffering serves a purpose, it is logically possible to do whatever suffering does. If a being cannot do that logically possible thing, then it is not even weakly omnipotent nor sufficiently powerful.

            All you have done is handwave "transcendentals" to muddy the waters to say "nothing to see here". There is nothing like round squares that you wish you could argue against.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Droll repeats seem necessary:

            You're not even aware that you're unaware. As already pointed out:

            [1] You're conflating possible worlds. Do you know how many? Is it two? Three? More? Less?

            [2] and you're equating them ta'boot

            [3]You're also demanding that God remove one side of a two sided coin.

            [4] You're leaving out from all those possible worlds the unavoidable transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality.

            [5] Then you're asking the Christisn to explain and/or defend the unrecognizable nonsense you've invented.

            The difference between necessary, necessarily possible, possible but not necessary, and logically impossible is lost in your muddled non-Christian premises -- you know -- the premises you're arguing against.

          • Greg G.

            [1] You're conflating possible worlds. Do you know how many? Is it two? Three? More? Less?

            [2] and you're equating them ta'boot

            I am talking about this universe and other ways it could have been.

            [3]You're also demanding that God remove one side of a two sided coin.

            No, I'm asking why one thing cannot be removed when its purpose could be replaced by a logically possible thing. Pain is not the absence of pleasure. Pleasure is not the absence of pain. Those are different things. They are not the opposite sides of a coin.

            [4] You're leaving out from all those possible worlds the unavoidable transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality.

            Suffering is not a requirement for any of that. If it was, it could be replaced by an omnipotence.

            [5] Then you're asking the Christisn to explain and/or defend the unrecognizable nonsense you've invented.

            Nope. I'm pointing out the logical consequence of the theology of a being that is supposed to be benevolent and potent.

            The difference between necessary, necessarily possible, possible but not necessary, and logically impossible is lost in your muddled non-Christian premises -- you know -- the premises you're arguing against.

            Nope. The argument is simply that suffering is either not necessary or not necessary. If it is necessary, it does something that is logically possible. If it is logically possible, an omnipotence could do it and the suffering is unnecessary. Either way, suffering is not necessary which implies that any being capable of preventing suffering is sadistic or sadistically negligent for permitting it.

            Therefore, suffering is incompatible with the existence of a benevolent being who is capable of preventing it. Suffering exists, therefore there is no being that is benevolent and sufficiently powerful enough to prevent suffering.

            You have thrown smokescreens of obfuscation. You have not addressed the very simple argument.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Do you make a habit out of repeating the same errors? Determinism isn't helping your thinking. "I'm talking about this universe..." You're stuck. Maybe you should try reading scripture? No? And why do you keep conflating possible worlds? You've not shown that [1] Evil is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized, and, [2] Evil is logically impossible, and [3] evil is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse. Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei. Those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality fill in far more, necessarily even, but as for those unavoidable arrays of transcendentals laced throughout all of the above, oh dear, well we can just leave all of *that* out given your desire to argue against Non-Christian straw men and Non-Christian landscapes.

          • Greg G.

            I didn't bring up evil. I am not arguing evil. I am arguing suffering.

            Suffering does exist. If suffering exists in any world, it betrays the assumed existence of any imagined benevolent omnipotence.

            The transcendentals you keep trying to divert to are irrelevant. I have no idea what weddings, births, and causality have to do with the existence of suffering if there was a benevolent omnipotence. You keep bringing them up without showing how they relate to the argument.

            This argument only addresses theologies that propose a benevolent being that is powerful enough to prevent suffering.

            It does not argue against completely indifferent deistic theologies or war gods and such that like watching suffering.

            There are no straw men. If your god is supposed to be sadistic, I am not arguing against your god. If your god is supposed to be benevolent and weakly omnipotent, then I am arguing against your god.

            If your god is supposed to be benevolent but not powerful enough to prevent suffering, I am not arguing against that but are you sure you want to spend eternity putting up with that and praising him?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You've not presented any questions to answer. Not about Christianity, that is. You've not shown that [1] Evil (Suffering) is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized, and, [2] Evil (Suffering) is logically impossible, and [3] Evil (Suffering) is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse. Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei. Nor have you approached that entire array with a coherent and Christian accounting of those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality applied across the board. So you've presented no relevant questions with respect to Christian truth claims about Man, God, privation, heaven, Eden, and the metaphysical geography of what cannot be less than (given the triune God) what D. Hart terms love's timeless "one-another".

          • Greg G.

            You've not presented any questions to answer. Not about Christianity, that is.

            I have presented an argument against any theology that proposes a benevolent omnipotence that you have voluntarily engaged. You do not seem to have grasped the entire problem as you seem to be thinking solely in human terms rather than all sentient creatures.

            [1] Evil (Suffering) is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized,

            This is not about "Evil" with a capital "E". It is about suffering. Have you never felt pain? Suffering exists. Carnivores are not evil but practically every meal they eat involves pain and suffering of ther prey.

            [2] Evil (Suffering) is logically impossible,

            Suffering exists, therefore it is logically possible.

            [3] Evil (Suffering) is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse.

            Suffering exists. What world do you live in?

            If you have doubts about the existence of unnecessary suffering, you can prove it to yourself. Put your finger on a brick and hit it with a hammer. You will discover that suffering is logically possible and actualized.

            Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei.

            I have shown that suffering is unnecessary if an omnipotence exists. I have shown that suffering is unnecessary if a being sufficiently powerful enough to prevent suffering (and to do what suffering does) exists. Just making the statement makes it obviously clear.

            Nor have you approached that entire array with a coherent and Christian accounting of those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality applied across the board.

            Baby moose don't have weddings but they suffer while they are being ripped apart by wolves. Those transcendentals are irrelevant.

            So you've presented no relevant questions with respect to Christian truth claims about Man, God, privation, heaven, Eden, and the metaphysical geography of what cannot be less than (given the triune God) what D. Hart terms love's timeless "one-another".

            Do you deny that suffering exists? Do you deny that some suffering serves some purpose that is logically possible? Do you deny that a sufficiently powerful entity could perform that same purpose? Does that not make the suffering part unnecessary and superfluous? How can a being that could prevent unnecessary suffering but does not be called benevolent?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Suffering is real so it's possible? Oh dear. You're still equating (and even conflating) the three worlds I see. So you think a world without evil (or suffering) is logically impossible?

            Wow. I see you've (not) really thought things through.

            Moose and weddings. Oh. I see. You thought I meant weddings between people.

            Wow. I see you've (not) really thought things through.

          • Greg G.

            Nice strawmen you have there. They make funny diversions. Do you plan to address the argument at any point?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You mean "Baby moose don't have weddings but they suffer". How is that an argument when we agree? And since the transcendentals don't matter (Christian premises don't matter in this discussion), and since you like to conflate and/or equate possible worlds, and since weddings between people are more fun with the Moose present, I think the Moose and Squirrel routine is the way to go. Actually, the following two:

            [1] The transcendentals don't matter
            [2] Baby moose don't have weddings

            told me all I need to know about your (now demonstrable) lack of understanding. I think we're done here as there's no way this format can make up *THAT* much ground on your end.

          • adam

            "Maybe you should try reading scripture?"

            That's what generated these kinds of questions, you know the ones you avoid answering like they are the plague.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You've not presented any questions to answer. Not about Christianity, that is. You've not shown that [1] Evil (Suffering) is necessarily possible, though not necessarily actualized, and, [2] Evil (Suffering) is logically impossible, and [3] Evil (Suffering) is actualized, are worlds which the Imago Dei cannot freely traverse. Nor have you shown that either world is unnecessary given God's decree of the Imago Dei. Nor have you approached that entire array with a coherent and Christian accounting of those pesky transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality applied across the board. So you've presented no relevant questions with respect to Christian truth claims about Man, God, privation, heaven, Eden, and the metaphysical geography of what cannot be less than (given the triune God) what D. Hart terms love's timeless "one-another".

          • Greg G.

            After all that, you're leaving out from all those possible worlds the unavoidable transcendentals constituting weddings, births, and the principle of proportionate causality.

            You are leaving out all the possible worlds without suffering. A being that chooses one of your options while leaving out the ones you left out appears to be one of your own making.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            See my last reply which begins with: "You've not presented any questions to answer. Not about Christianity, that is. You've not shown.....

          • Greg G.

            Answered here:
            http://disq.us/p/1bg087u

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Mike, in MNb's comment (to Lazarus I think) he rejected determinism and affirmed freedom, and here he just affirmed we're robots. It's all very akin to Carroll. We're free, but not really. Or something. It's fuzzy. Given the fundamentally illusory status of causation, perhaps even of motion, these answers may in fact be the best you (we) can hope for. "We choose, but we can't choose what we choose" as Harris echoes these sorts of dives into Wittgenstein-esc language games. The cosmically opaque emerges as the illusory is foisted as evidence of the reality while the reality is foisted as evidence of the illusory. Such is both the source of and derivative of the at-bottom irrational processes to which reason herself is enslaved. We're even "assured" by our Non-Theist friends that such is the case. -Cause evidence "!"

          • No. I my child is terminally ill and a doctor cures her, this does not turn me or her into a robot. Why would it be any different if God cured her?

          • Mike

            bc if she could never get cancer or any other suffering she wouldn't be what she is.

          • This doesn't make sense, and I think you know it. It is no longer really possible for me to get smallpox, but that has no effect on my identity.

          • Mike

            but you can get other things can't you. imagine not being able to get hit by a car or getting your heart broken or having your spouse cheat on you or your kids abandon you.

            with freedom comes responsibility. but it wasn't meant to be this way but we apparently wanted to go it alone. but who ever loves us didn't give up on us but came after us to try to bring us back. and those of us who want to be "good" will return to that original state of 'equilibrium'. and those who don't won't.

            i don't think life makes any sense w/o suffering in general. the bigger problem is extreme moral suffering but it imho points to God very strongly if not clearly.

          • "imagine not being able to get hit by a car or getting your heart broken
            or having your spouse cheat on you or your kids abandon you."

            Hmm, sounds like Heaven! Do you think you no longer are who you are in Heaven? That you do not have free will?

            "i don't think life makes any sense w/o suffering in general. "

            You seem to be saying that without the Fall, life would not have made sense for Adam. Really? If not then you need to accept that God could have designed a world which would be meaningful, in fact ideal, but in which no suffering was possible. Now, if you say that this ideal is only available to conscious agents who have freely chosen it, what of angels?

            And, there is another issue. I am talking generally about suffering from natural causes, disease and disaster. Like you say there could be plenty or room for suffering from human decisions, but why does God not eliminate suffering from disaster and disease?

          • Mike

            peter kreeft would disagree about heaven. he says it's not that we can't do those things but that we somehow won't we'll maybe consider doing bad things and then just laugh at how silly it would be to do them. he says something like we'll stub our toe and think oh that was good for me. i suppose there won't be natural evils either no earthquakes etc. to sum up we'll still be free to choose but just won't choose evil.

            life would have made sense to adam but in a different way. we wouldn't KNOW what there was to know. funny how the bible characterizes it as eating from the tree of KNOWLEDGE of all the possible ways of putting it - seems uncanny to me. we would've been like us only more perfectly in harmony. notice that God didn't create us in this state of decay, that's very important.

            natural evils are a different sort i think you'd agree from the way you put it. but natural evils as harsh as they are are i think 'understandable' for alot of ppl they seem to be of a different kind than moral evils. we don't have the same outrage attached to natural evils like cancer. they seem to be part of the deal. maybe bc we are physical creatures and the tendency of matter is always towards decay maybe that's why natural evils are just necessary. apparently though before the fall there was supposed to be no natural evil either; God kept everything sustained at some 'optimal' level or whatever.

            having said all that remember that we believe and testify via our personal lives/experiences that God does NOT abandon us totally but accompanies us in our sufferings. most christians would point to tragedy/low points in their lives when they most felt the presence of a loving creator most. in fact that's kind of the main point of christ that he came to suffer with us to be humiliated like us to basically answer your questions the best way he could not with philosophy but with Love.

          • Yes, I am aware of that argument, but it doesn't make sense. If a state of affairs is possible in which free will-possessing agents have the real option of committing wrongs, and perpetrating evil, but never would, then God would have created that state of affairs. Because if that is the case, again, all the evil perpetrated by earthly humans is unnecessary.

            "life would have made sense to adam but in a different way. we wouldn't
            KNOW what there was to know. funny how the bible characterizes it as
            eating from the tree of KNOWLEDGE of all the possible ways of putting it
            - seems uncanny to me. we would've been like us only more perfectly in
            harmony. notice that God didn't create us in this state of decay, that's
            very important."

            I do not understand this paragraph. Genesis does not say tree of knowledge, but tree of knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL. If we would have been like us but in more perfectly in harmony, why the hell not just create us that way?

            "we don't have the same outrage attached to natural evils like cancer."

            Not true, especially on theism. If a god exists he could cure my mom's cancer right now, instead she will almost certainly experience a long and painful death which I would not have sentenced the worst criminal to. Not only that but He will not allow her suffering to be cut short. On this very site we have had theists speak of how they have raged against God for not saving their infants plagued with disease. But absent theism, my sadness is not lessened, but I am not outraged, cancer makes perfect sense on naturalism, it is harder to explain on theism.

            "maybe bc we are physical creatures and the tendency of matter is always
            towards decay maybe that's why natural evils are just necessary."

            This is a description of naturalism. The question is when you insert a doctor with a cure, such evil is no longer necessary but was avoidable. When you add an omnipotent ominbenevolent God, it at least seems avoidable, I can think of no reason to not avoid it.

            "God does NOT abandon us totally but accompanies us in our sufferings." Neither did Joseph Fritzl totally abandon his daughter. Failure to totally abandon someone is not inconsistent with being utterly cruel.

            "most christians would point to tragedy/low points in their lives when they most felt the presence of a loving creator most."

            I do not think this is at all true. I think it is quite the opposite.

            Nothing in the passion story explains any of this. Quite the opposite. If Jesus' suffering was to deal with sin, why is sin continuing unchanged afterwards? If it was to lessen our suffering, why do we continue to suffer unchanged afterwards?

            There has been tremendous love before and since the execution of Jesus, but I see no change in our situation.

          • Mike

            God did create that state it's called 'before the Fall' the point is that he intention originally was what you think it should be, except we were "free" and "tempted" etc and things got all scrambled but ORIGINALLY his state was achieved.

            again he created us as "free" not as robots who always give their God a kiss whenever he presses the kiss button. if you love something set it free and all that.

            if you are outraged by natural evils then you kind of presuppose God imho by reasoning that things could've/should be different. you can easily imagine there not being natural evil, it's contingent on the good stuff it feeds like a parasite on the good which is exactly what the church teaches.

            but we live in a physical world subject to decay and disorder so to me it's not surprising in the least that there should be natural evils but evils presuppose the good which on atheism to my mind is incoherent bc atheism can't get to an OUGHT.

            i can think of a million reasons to not avoid all suffering but i agree that there is a special kind of suffering that is very very strange to say the least.

            you're comparing pure goodness itself to a person who raped and tortured his own daughter so i think you might be bringing more emotional baggage to this then you realize i don't know but rest assured God is goodness itself not just some charlatan who's pretending to be good.

            i do see a change and i see it in my life everyday. but that's your subjective appraisal of reality and mine. to me a life w/o God is literally pointless and a dream w/o any purpose or meaning what so ever. thankfully we can be sure God does exist and loves us imho.

          • David Nickol

            "The Fall" is no longer a credible explanation for the human condition. To the extent that the Catholic Church still teaches that the "first parents" of the human race committed some sin that altered all of human history, to that extent the Church still clings to biblical fundamentalism of the most extreme kind. To try to change the mind of an atheist by appealing to the story of Adam and Eve is basically just foolish.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            To the extent that the Catholic Church still teaches that the "first parents" of the human race committed some sin that altered all of human history, to that extent the Church still clings to biblical fundamentalism of the most extreme kind.

            I'm a bit surprised by how strongly you state this. I am sorry to re-hash well trod ground here, but I am curious if you would deny that any of the following statements are factual?

            1. Non-human animals -- at least all the ones we know of -- are incapable of moral evil.

            2. At some point in the history of the world, there were only non-human animals, and we can therefore reasonably suppose that there was no moral evil either.

            3. At present, there is moral evil in the world, and its existence is ubiquitous amongst humans (and is still seemingly not present in non-human animals).

            I'm sure there are reasonable folks who would refuse to accept the facticity of one or more of those statements, but those surely aren't outlandishly crazy statements.

            For those who do accept the facticity of those three statements, it seems to follow by inference -- no Book of Genesis or catechism necessary -- that some actual historical event must have happened in between the time when there was no moral evil in the world and the present day, and that whatever actually happened, the consequences of that balance-upsetting event still mark the whole human race, and nothing but the human race.

            Does any part of that completely non-Biblical argument seem crazy to you?

            Now, if you want to argue that Catholic teaching, or the Book of Genesis (even when read figuratively), is affirming something subtantially more specific than what I have laid out, I can appreciate that. But however one fiddles with the edges of the argument, the basic features of the theological-historical inference seem to me to be about right, or at least not absurd.

          • David Nickol

            Now, if you want to argue that Catholic teaching, or the Book of Genesis (even when read figuratively), is affirming something subtantially more specific than what I have laid out, I can appreciate that.

            As I understand Catholic teaching, as found in the Catechism, there were two "first parents," the first two human beings in the world, from whom all present-day humans are descended. If you can actually read the Catechism in some other way, I would like to know how.

            I will grant that there are many capacities and abilities that human beings possess that are not found—fully formed—in other animal species. But many of those capacities and abilities are found in nonhuman animals in rudimentary form. It does not seem at all implausible to me that in the course of human evolution, rudimentary traits such as morality, abstract reasoning, language, and so on developed gradually. And of course morality is largely a cultural development, although the development of the mind/brain certainly had to occur for morality to become a human reality.

            I don't see a need to posit, as the Catechism does, that because mankind is imperfect, there must have been perfect humans at the start who "fell." I think it would be foolish to argue that nonhuman animals were perfect at some point in the history of evolution, and at some point they "fell." I don't see why it is any more reasonable to assume that tracing humans back generation by generation to a point where we would all agree they were not yet human, we would have to find moral perfection anywhere along the line. We would of course find a point at which it made little sense to describe ancestral behavior as moral or immoral, but it seems to me quite reasonable to expect a continuity of some kind in the behavior of our ancestors all the way from their existence as tree shrews up to the present day.

            If you want to think of the story of Adam and Eve as figuratively describing the moment immorality entered the world, I see no problem with that. But why do we have to imagine the first humans (however many of them there were) as existing in a state of moral perfection from which they "fell." Certainly in some sense immorality entered the world as soon as creatures became capable of making moral decisions. But then morality and immorality arrived at exactly the same time. There is no need to assume that morality reigned prior to immorality.

            As for the story of Adam and Eve, it is interesting to note that after Genesis, it is never again mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Jews have never made a big deal of it. And currently, the Catechism wants to have it both ways—it is a story told in figurative language, but the most implausible parts are factual/historical. I simply don't see how the story of two "first parents" can be reconciled with modern genetics.

            As part of a creation myth, the story of Adam and Eve is extraordinarily impressive, open to many fascinating interpretations. But one of the interpretations I think that we must rule out is that two "first parents" gave birth to the entire human race.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I don't think the catechism says anything about two first parents, so it seems to me that "first parents" can potentially be interpreted fairly loosely. As you very nicely summarized at some point in these pages, Genesis is not to be read as a roman a clef as if there is some clean one-to-one correspondence between events and people in the story and events and people in real life. In any case, it seems to me that the essential faith content (*) is not in the numerical analysis, but in the affirmation that all of humanity (and not just specific subpopulations) is touched by the event. We are all in this together.

            It does not seem at all implausible to me that in the course of human evolution, rudimentary traits such as morality, abstract reasoning, language, and so on developed gradually.

            I completely agree. Not only is it not implausible, but it seems very likely. But the fuzziness of a demarcation line between two distinguishable states does not invalidate the meaningfulness of the distinction. Again, we had a world, at one time, in which it would have made no sense to speak of moral evil. We have a world now in which it clearly does make sense to speak of moral evil. Somewhere in there, a meaningful transition occurred.

            I don't see a need to posit, as the Catechism does, that because mankind is imperfect, there must have been perfect humans at the start who "fell."

            Is it affirmed anywhere that they were perfect? I have always understood the story to imply, not that they were perfect, but that they existed in a state of natural grace, much in the same way that a great blue heron or a brown trout exists in a state of grace. They suffer, but they go through life with an athletic grace that is untainted by moral evil and alienation.

            I agree that there is no evidential need to posit that humans once existed in a state of grace, but neither do I see why the idea is absurd. It comes down to whether one thinks our existence in a state of moral evil is intrinsic to our being, or just circumstantial. I see no reason to think that it is not just circumstantial, and every reason to hope that it is.

            EDIT to clarify - see asterisk

            (*) I don't mean to imply that this is the essential faith content of the entire teaching on Original Sin, but rather that this is what is theologically and anthropologically at stake in when we discuss polygenism & monogenism in the context of the teaching on Original Sin

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Well stated. Eden isn't (wasn't) the ontic-equivalent of Heaven. Nor Privation. Such are three irreducibly distinct realities. According to Scripture.

          • Valence

            First, the catechism on original sin:

            III. ORIGINAL SIN

            Freedom put to the test

            396 God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" spells this out: "for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die."276 The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"277 symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.

            Man's first sin

            397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of.278 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.

            398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully "divinized" by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to "be like God", but "without God, before God, and not in accordance with God".279

            399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.281

            It clearly talks about the Genesis story and Adam and Eve. There are 2 first parents in the catechism.

            I completely agree. Not only is it not implausible, but it seems very likely. But the fuzziness of a demarcation line between two distinguishable states does not invalidate the meaningfulness of the distinction.

            I would say you are introducing a false dichotomy. It's like the pile/heap problem. Keep adding grains of sand, and it's arbitrary as to what point the pile of sand becomes a heap. More relevant, at what point is a child capable of moral evil? Certainly babies aren't, how about 3 year olds. 5 year old's a little, ect.
            I would argue that a chimpanzee is at least as capable of moral evil as a 2 year old human, both have similar intellectual capabilities.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Well, of course the catechism refers to the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, but the lines of the catechism that you cited do not stake out a position on the historical content of the story, which is what is at issue. The lines of the catechism that do stake out a position on the historical content say that the passage "affirms a primeval event" in "figurative language".

            If you want to argue that there is no meaningful distinction between a non-human animal's ability to commit moral evil and a human's ability to commit moral evil, I respect that argument. I just don't think it is absurd to claim that there is a meaningful distinction.

          • Valence

            I think there is a current distinction between adult humans and adult chimpanzees, but not one as intelligence develops (as in the child developing or humans evolving greater intelligence), if that helps (so I agree it's not absurd).

            It seems most Catholic websites claim it's heretical to deny 2 parents:

            It is prohibited to believe that there were multiple first parents, many sets of Adams and Eves. This position is called polygenism. It is a teaching of the Catholic Church that there was one set of parents, and it was they who committed an offense against God, and that offense has had lasting effects for mankind. This is the doctrine of original sin, the sin that occurred at the origin of the human race. C. S. Lewis argued that the existence of original sin is perhaps one of the most obvious facts of human life, even to non-believers.

            http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/given-the-evidence-for-evolution-are-catholics-required-to-believe-adam-and-eve-exist

            It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

            In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: "When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own" (Humani Generis 37).

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution

            Is Pope Pius in error about this?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            The views expressed on self-proclaimed "Catholic websites" can be helpful guides sometimes, but every person ultimately has to come to his own conclusions on whether those websites are adequately conveying the essential faith content of Catholic teaching.

            The term "polygenism" hasn't always been sufficiently distinguished from "multiregionalism". Perhaps because of a failure to make this distinction, it was "in no way apparent" (to use the exact phrasing from your excerpt) to Pius XII how essential Catholic anthropology could be reconciled with polygenism, such as he understood that term. Subsequent theology has suggested suggested possible reconciliations between polygenism (understood in the more precise sense of "uniregional polygenism") and the essentials of Catholic anthropology.

            The following is a worthwhile read: http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

          • Valence

            I'll look into that paper, monogenism is certainly plausible, but I think multiple generations are required to reach full human intelligence/responsible. Of course, one could propose a sudden act of God that forces a jump, but that would be on faith.

            How do the effects of Original Sin work? Did the laws of physics suddenly change? Also, isn't there a moral problem with punishing children for the mistakes of their parents? It seems the punishment is making the children more likely to make mistakes, which seems absurd to me.

            402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."

            This is very much like punishing Jews just for being born Jews. My conscience is very much put off by the entire idea. I'm also aware that Jews claim Original sin is an erroneous interpretation of the text (historically it begins with Paul, no record of the idea before him). I certainly find no evidence of it when I read Genesis.

            http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Original_Sin.html

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I'm not trying to punt to an external source, but I think we could argue more productively if you look at the paper first before we go on in this vein. The paper is not arguing for monogenism. It is arguing for a reconciliation between polygenism and Catholic anthropology.

            Are you the same as "Will" ?

          • Valence

            Are you the same as "Will" ?

            Yes, I made the mistake of engaging LBrown who basically trolls my "Will" account. He leaves this one alone so far...hopefully he doesn't catch this comment, lol!

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I have a somewhat different impression of the exchanges between you and LHRMSCBrown, but I really don't want to get sucked into that drama. In any case, I really dislike the idea of communicating to the same person under two separate guises. If it all possible, please try to avoid that when communicating with me. Thanks.

          • Valence

            Of course you have a different impression of Brown, as he consistently passes you compliments while he is constantly insulting non-theist. At this point SN has the same moderation level as outshine the sun. I made it a point to complain over there, but no theist other than Laz does that over here...not surprising, of course. It would be nice if there were a good website for philosophical conversation, but most forums open to the public turn into a mess.
            It was an accident that I responded with the other account, as I used mobile for the one response. Sorry for any confusion.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I agree that humans below a certain level of maturity are not capable of moral evil, but that does not make them any less human. What makes them human is not just their current state, but the entire range of "four dimensional shapes" that may eventually characterize the totality of their lives. If you can convince me that the possible future trajectories of a chimpanzee include that same range of possibility, then I will welcome that chimp to the club of "theological humans" and start trying to explain the Gospel to him.

          • Will

            I was just using the child as an analogy for the evolution of intelligence. Think of each individual in the evolutionary chain as getting slightly older. Just as one can't claim there was on moment in the child's development when he became fully morally responsible, there can be a single generation that suddenly makes a huge jump in intelligence that allows for full moral responsibility.
            Would you group a mentally handicapped person with chimps? They never reach normal intelligence and thus full moral responsibility. They are human, aren't they?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I was just using ...

            Wait ... Will = Valence ?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            They have similar writing tells

          • David Nickol

            I don't think the catechism says anything about two first parents, so it seems to me that "first parents" can potentially be interpreted fairly loosely.

            From Humani Generis:

            For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. [Emphasis added.]

            Also note that while the Catechism doesn't say "two first parents," it does footnote its statement about "our first parents" as following:

            265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654.

            I don't think there is any ambiguity in the pertinent documents from the Council of Trent on in "DS 3897" (Humani Generis) about there being two and only two first parents.

            Is it affirmed anywhere that they were perfect? I have always understood the story to imply, not that they were perfect, but that they existed in a state of natural grace, much in the same way that a great blue heron or a brown trout exists in a state of grace.

            According to pretty standard Catholic theology, Adam and Eve were rather extraordinary creatures, endowed with preternatural gifts. (Note in particular the "Terminology" section in the linked document.)

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            OK, I obviously have to concede the point about what the Church has taught with respect to number of first parents. I actually remember reading that now, but clearly my active memory is selective.

            I would still argue that if we want to get at the essential faith content of the teaching, we should ask why Pius XII held so strongly to that numerical recipe. What did he think was at stake? Whether it was two first parents or many, the need for redemption would still be there. I've already proposed that I think the emphasis on the numbers has to do with the fact that all of humanity is in the same morally compromised boat, and I won't push that idea any further for now, but I think the "what's at stake" question is worth considering in interpreting the teaching.

            Anyway, let's say for now that the numerical piece is an irreformable and essential bit of the teaching. The bystanders who are keeping score can go ahead check the heretic box for me and then let's move on with our conversation. What I am saying is that, all Catholic teaching and Biblical literature aside, the occurrence of some sort of fall from grace is a a nearly unavoidable inference in view of the two facts that: 1. There was once was no moral evil, and 2. Now there is. Do you agree or disagree on that point?

          • Will

            Is it accurate to say that you've committed a mortal sin with your heresy? I applaud that you are trying to make sense of something like this, but according to this article you've put yourself in danger of hell unless you are forgiven for you thoughts:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin

            Perhaps you find this as absurd as I do, Jim going to hell for thinking about history? When does it become heresy vs just thinking?

          • Michael Murray

            It's probably not really a heresy as that article defines it as

            "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same"[27]

            I'm not sure Jim's misbelief qualifies as obstinate.

            I'd hold off on any punishment more severe than the soft cushion or perhaps the comfy chair.

          • Will

            So as long as he recants and doesn't continue with his project? Seems fair.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Your clemency is deeply appreciated.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I'll give you two answers Will. The first is a very simple sort of answer that I find completely satisfactory for my own purposes. My second answer will be a half-hearted attempt to give the sort of analytical and litigious answer that many others seem to demand.

            My simple "Cave-man Catholic" answer is that my relationship with the Church is like a relationship with a person. The most important thing, in my mind, is to love that person and to keep working at the relationship. If we disagree, we disagree. I refuse to terminate my relationship with that person, even if they want me to, because I am convinced that I have come to know God, and have a relationship with God, through my relationship with this "person" of the Church. It's as simple as that. Augustine has my back on this: "Love, and [then] do what you will ... let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.".

            With that said, onward to the litigation ... for a sin to be mortal, it has to be a grave matter, and I have to have full knowledge of the gravity of the matter. If someone can explain to me how the number of "first parents" is relevant to how I should shape my hopes and actions, how that bit of the teaching should inform my understanding of the nature of Christ, or the nature of redemption, or anything like that, then I may start to worry about the gravity of my "heresy" (or, to be more technical, my "incredulity", since I am not going around trying to convince people that my view is the teaching of the Church). Until then, I think I have plenty of bigger fish to fry as I work out my relationship with God.

            After all that has been said here about Catholic teaching on hell, I am dismayed that you still think the Catholic view entails people going to hell "for what they believe". In Catholicism, people "go to hell" for refusing to respond to God's grace in faith and action. If I haven't been given the grace of perceiving the truth of this teaching, or if I haven't been given the grace of understanding the gravity of the teaching, then exactly what grace would I be refusing?

          • Will

            My simple "Cave-man Catholic" answer is that my relationship with the Church is like a relationship with a person. The most important thing, in my mind, is to love that person and to keep working at the relationship. If we disagree, we disagree. I refuse to terminate my relationship with that person, even if they want me to, because I am convinced that I have come to know God, and have a relationship with God, through my relationship with this "person" of the Church. It's as simple as that. Augustine has my back on this: "Love, and [then] do what you will ... let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.".

            Can't fault you there. I thought it was interesting, however, that Augustine certainly believed hell was a place of torment.. Many of his ideas follow from Tertullian, who has an interesting quote about it:

            Tertullian speaks of "the greatness of the punishment which continueth, not for a long time, but forever." He was the first of the Church Fathers to emphasize the idea which reappears from time to time in the history of the subject that hell would be a joyful spectacle to those who are saved. He says in his De Spectaculis "How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult when I behold so many proud monarchs, and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates, who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians."

            http://www.ccel.us/buis.ch4.html

            Tertullian's view here was nothing short of sadism. Augustine ended up going with torture for heretics, just fyi. If these guys were wrong about hell and torturing heretics, why not original sin? Here is a relevant Augustine quote:

            He who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. "In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them" (St Augustine in Psalm. LIV, n.19). And this indeed most deservedly; for they who take from Christian doctrine what they please lean on their own judgements, not on faith; and not bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ (Cor. X,5), they more truly obey themselves than God. "You, who believe what you like of the gospels and believe not what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel" ' (St Augustine, lib. XVII., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3).

            http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/heretic.htm

            After all that has been said here about Catholic teaching on hell, I am dismayed that you still think the Catholic view entails people going to hell "for what they believe". In Catholicism, people "go to hell" for refusing to respond to God's grace in faith and action. If I haven't been given the grace of perceiving the truth of this teaching, or if I haven't been given the grace of understanding the gravity of the teaching, then exactly what grace would I be refusing?

            Can you provide a source to back up this claim? I've seen the claim here, but nothing to make me think it is accurate.

            1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."616

            Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."617

            1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;618 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance":619

            Aren't heresy and apostasy mortal sins? They are on the wikipedia list (and I can quote Popes saying they are grave sins). Is there an official list somewhere?

            If I don't believe Catholicism is true, surely my "turning away" becomes willful, as I could just surrender my judgment and thinking to the Church. Of course, how would that be rational if I think the religion isn't true. I'm a skeptic, so don't take it personally if I don't take your word for it. This is why I source most of my claims, plus it helps me fact check :)

            I will safely say that I am often appalled by Church fathers like Tertullian. How could I believe in a religion that claims to be good when it has let such sadism stand in the past? Apologist's denial of these things borders on lying from where I sit. The Catholic Church certainly hasn't claimed Tertullian's view to be heretical...that tells us something very important, or at least it tells me something important about the organization.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            He who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith

            I actually don't technically disagree with Augustine on that specific point, but one has to distinguish between divinely revealed truth per se and human articulations of divinely revealed truth. The Church teaches that no articulation of dogma is ever perfect, but that it is always merely "the least imperfect expression that is morally possible".

            This distinction is necessitated by the first commandment, which forbids us from embracing false absolutes, including the false absolute of the Church on earth. So, in a neat irony: in the very moment that I assent to the totality of Church teaching, I am logically compelled to demote that same teaching to a status of less-than-absolute-truth; only the trinitarian God himself is the fullness of truth.

            I'm obviously not an Augustine scholar, so I hesitate to interpret him, but he certainly does seem to fail to make the distinction that I want to make in order to avoid false absolutes. To the extent that that is true, I would say this vein of his thinking has never been formally adopted into Church teaching.

            However little the Church may advert to it, all of Her teachings are just pointers in the direction of God. Some pointers are more reliable, and hence "more dogmatic" than others, but they are all just pointers in the right general direction.

            Can you provide a source to back up this claim?

            Check out all of the "God's Salvation: Law and Grace" section of the catechism: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a2.htm . See also the very old heresy of Pelagianism, which (errantly, in the Church's view) claimed that we could merit our own salvation, e.g. by dint of what we chose to believe.

          • Mike

            when in doubt throw out the fundie card, well played.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I disagree with what David wrote, but I don't think it would be fair to characterize his comment as "playing the fundie card". To my knowledge, the teaching office has never been particularly helpful in helping the faithful understand what it might mean to "affirm a primeval event in figurative language", and there is no doubt that some Catholics interpret that section of the catechism as requiring an almost roman a clef type interpretation, an interpretation that would clearly be at odds with what we know with a high degree of confidence about human evolution. There are plenty of well-meaning and well-informed Catholics who struggle to interpret the teaching in a sensible way. If I may be so presumptuous, I think the magisterium could and should do better.

          • Mike

            ok but david knows all this that's why i said he played that card; he's feigning ignorance when this topic has been discussed at length.

            plus what we know about evo is compatible if we consider we're talking about the first metaphysical humans not the first biological humans which are not exactly the same.

            btw have you ever read this, it's excellent:
            http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

            btw some ppl say it should do 'better' as in do more interpreting while others mean 'better' as in it should do less and leave more for ppl to mull over.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            You're right that we have all discussed this at length, but as part of those discussions David has raised reasonable objections to O'Flynn- and Kemp-style resolutions, e.g. they require necessary bestiality. So, I don't think he has so much ignored those arguments as rejected them.

            (To which I say: fine, I can see the technical grounds on which one would reject those (avowedly hypothetical) resolutions, but I still don't see how one can reject the basic facts on the ground, namely that there once was no moral evil and now there is. The fact that we don't have a totally satisfactory theory to explain those facts doesn't mean that a sensible person can deny the facts.)

          • Mike

            my point was just that he knows better than to say the church no options left but to be fundamental about genesis bc he clearly knows some of those options. anyway that's neither here nor there.

            yeah good point at some point no one denies we weren't Morally blameworthy for eating our young or whatever as we were like other animals and then at some later point we did become morally responsible. well what happened btw 1 and 2? the church says God created the first metaphysical human and materialists say Nature increased our brain complexity ie an 'emergent property' emerge or some such hand waving.

            maybe both are on the same path but don't know it or prefer to ignore each other.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How is this comment accurate or helpful? How is David wrong about the content of the Catholic view of the fall?

          • Mike

            he's saying that if the church teaches 2 first parents it is a fundie church but he knows better than that. the church only teaches that the first 2 were metaphysical humans.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            First of all, it is commonly taught and has been commonly taught that Adam and Eve were literal first parents and that all humans descend from them without any interbreeding. It is perfectly acceptable to criticize that teaching. Secondly, while you can create enough ambiguity in official Catholic statements to allow in your beastiality theory as a possibility, I can only imagine that the authors of those documents would find your theory abhorrent. Thirdly, you are being a Catholic fundie by deeming heretical other theological explanations of the Genesis story. Fourthly, you have complete missed the more powerful evolutionary criticism of the fall.

          • Mike

            i don't think that bestiality is that strong of an objection as in the beg the 2 types would have been VERY similar probably and also PHYSICALLY identical.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How would it be any different from a modern human sleeping with an Ape?

            Isn't it a little odd that the same God who is so puritanical today would create a world in which the first humans would have to have lots of sex with animals? Isn't it odd that God would want metaphysical humans to have an animal as a parent?

          • Mike

            apes and human are not the same biological species whereas early humans and non humans would have been identical biologically.

            puritanical about sex? you seem to have some emotional baggage there? an animal as a parent? really? you mean my mother isn't an animal! whoa if true.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            apes and human are not the same biological species whereas early humans and non humans would have been identical biologically.

            So that would make sex between metaphysical humans and their merely biologically counterparts okay? There are multiple theological issues with you trying to blur the difference between metaphysical humans and animal humans.

            Firstly, it is inconsistent with what theists usually claim about the human soul. Supposedly, according to theists it elevates us above the animals and gives us reason and will. Einstein without a soul would have had the intelligence of a chimpanzee.

            Secondly, a being similar to an ape ( so similar that it would be okay if they had sex), but with a metaphysical soul, could not have made a choice that would have condemned all of his descendents to a fallen state. A direct implication to you claim is that the fall is due to the sin of a creature much more similar to modern apes than modern man. This would be unjust of God. Furthermore, this directly contradicts the teachings of the Church which depicts Adam as a better human.

            If on the other hand, metaphysical humans are more like modern humans than modern apes, then your theory involves bestiality.

            puritanical about sex?

            Most definitely. Thinks like masturbation and birth control are grave sins that are deserving of everlasting torment according to the Catholic paradigm.

            you seem to have some emotional baggage there?

            Always with the insinuations. Grow up, Mike.

            an animal as a parent? really? you mean my mother isn't an animal! whoa if true.

            Nice equivocation. The point is would an Orangutan make an appropriate parent for a metaphysical human?

          • Mike

            my point is that it wouldn't be 'bestiality' we they would both be bio humans. plus the new rational human probably would be quite similar to the bio human at least in the beg. in terms of the way they acted.

            the choice made by that first 'human' was not the choice of one tool or technique over another i suspect but something well more supernatural. before the fall adam would have made the choice to 'know' good and evil but "how" geez who knows. the language is rightfully i think metaphorical there.

            bestiality is not possible with animals from the exact same bio species.

            birth control is not 'bad' according to the church but you're again pretending you don't know this and masturbation is simply not rational if done alone etc but again you know that but pretend otherwise.

            he was saying very very rude things so i think maybe he was carrying emo baggage.

            i thought evolution was supposed to work slowly and gradually. from what i know our earliest ancestors would have been very similar to their off spring so an ape didn't just give birth to a human.

          • David Nickol

            An "animal human" (if we posit such a creature) at the time of the "metaphysical humans" Adam and Eve would have had no moral capacity, no abstract thought, no language, and therefore no ability to consent to marriage and no ability to consent to a moral act of sexual intercourse (according to the Catholic requirement that sex must be both within marriage and must have both a procreative and unitive purpose). Also, imagine how such a creature would function as a mother or a father to a human child, or a "husband" or "wife" to a human spouse? Attempt to imagine a society made up of a mixture of "animal humans" and "metaphysical humans." Say human males choose to mate with animal women. According to your theory, their offspring would be human children. But say your animal "wife" (who has no capacity to make moral decisions) mates with an animal man while you are off hunting and gathering. Your animal "wife" then quite possibly will have both human and animal children.

            In Genesis, when Adam is presented with Eve we have the following (with the words in quotes being Adam's):

            “This one, at last, is bone of my bones
            and flesh of my flesh;
            This one shall be called ‘woman,’
            for out of man this one has been taken.”

            That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

            As noted above, it is impossible to have an animal "wife." Animals cannot consent to marry today any more than they could have thousands of years ago. (You even object to two members of the same gender marrying, and yet you seem to imagine the human race began with humans mating with animals!)

          • Mike

            so bestiality it wouldn't be but it would be sex outside marriage and sex w/o consent.

            but do animals consent to sex with each other? if a squirrel became a meta human would it not be able to have licit sex with another squirrel? maybe you're imagining all animals as meat puppets totally bereft of imagination memory and emotions.

            ok so it wouldn't be in marriage. but christian marriage is the plan/ideal of human society so why couldn't ppl have babies outside marriage in the very beg.? plus that women wouldn't be committing adultery as she wouldn't understand what it means.

            again you seem to have a fundie interpretation that you're working with.

            for the millionth time i do not object to 2 ppl of the same sex marrying, i simply recognize that they CAN'T marry each other metaphysically it's impossible but that's another discussion-these ppl 'solemnize friendships' but that's it to me

          • David Nickol

            if a squirrel became a meta human would it not be able to have licit sex with another squirrel?

            No it would not, according to Catholic principles, if the "elevated" squirrel endowed with intellect, will, abstract thought, and moral capacity had sex with an "unelevated" squirrel.

            so why couldn't ppl have babies outside marriage in the very beg.? plus that women wouldn't be committing adultery as she wouldn't understand what it means.

            The woman certainly wouldn't be committing adultery, because she had no capacity to marry, and she had no capacity to make moral judgments. My point is that "animal" women, according to your theory, could have both "animal" children and "human" children. How could anyone tell the difference? And how could an "animal" mother or father raise human children? What would the social arrangement have been like?

            Another point, perhaps pertinent, is that when Jesus spoke against divorce, he went all the way back to "the beginning" and cited Genesis:

            Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and
            be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

            So according to Jesus, marriage has been the plan for humans from the very outset, not after a period where human men mated with animal women, and human women mated with animal men, until there were enough "metaphysical" mates to go around.

            It astounds me that anyone can think of the plan for Adam and Eve or their children to mate with animals. And of course there is not the slightest hint of it in Catholic teaching. Once again, I challenge you to cite any authoritative Catholic teaching that even hints at your interpretation. The argument here is about what the Catholic Church teaches, not about clever ways to come up with "add-ons" to Catholic teaching to attempt to reconcile the story of "first parents" with the findings of modern genetics.

            The question here is, again, "What does the Catholic Church teach about human origins?" It seems very clear to me from both the Catechism and Humani Generis teach that there were two (and only two) "first parents" from whom the entire human race descended. Period.

          • Mike

            "or their children to mate with animals" news flash we're still animals.

            yeah we agree there were 2 and only 2 from which we all descend? where do you see the contradiction? there was a first human male and human female and they interbred and viola.

          • David Nickol

            news flash we're still animals

            Have you ever had sex with an animal? Yes or no.

            yeah we agree there were 2 and only 2 from which we all descend? where do you see the contradiction?

            According to modern genetics, the "first parents" from which all human beings have descended must be in the neighborhood of 10,000, not two. I am not going to argue science here. Anyone truly interested in genetics and human origins can easily educate themselves.

          • Mike

            yes, my wife is an animal but then again so am i, in fact all human beings are animals.

            you're still pretending like you don't understand the diff btw a metaphysical first human and the first group of biological humans.

          • David Nickol

            you're still pretending like you don't understand the diff btw a
            metaphysical first human and the first group of biological humans.

            I understand what the people are saying who argue about metaphysical humans versus (merely) biological humans. My point is that it is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. It is not a teaching of the Church that biological humans evolved and God "ensouled" two of them (although I believe something along these lines is allowed as a possibility). But it is definitely not a teaching of the Catholic Church that metaphysical humans (Adam, Eve, their offspring) could or did mate with (mere) biological humans. It is also not a teaching of the Church that the offspring of a metaphysical human and a (mere) biological human would be a metaphysical human.

            What I am interested in is what the Catholic Church teaches about human origins. As I believe I have done before, I challenge you to find even a hint in official Catholic teaching that the sons and daughters of our "first parents" mated with (mere) biological humans.

          • Mike

            i think you're just hiding behind what's "official" now. the RCC leaves alot of this up to interpretation until better science/reasoning allow it to make a more definitive pronouncement. anyway thx for the exchange.

          • David Nickol

            i think you're just hiding behind what's "official" now.

            I am not "hiding" behind anything. I repeat, I am interested in what the Catholic Church teaches about human origins and Adam and Eve. Is that so difficult for you to understand? What kind of Catholic do you claim to be that you would accuse someone of "hiding" who wants to know what the Church teaches? I am not interested in Mike's made-up version of Catholicism. I am interested in what the Church teaches. Why should that be considered a negative in a forum run by Catholics?

          • Mike

            ok well as far as i know the official position is that we are all descended from 2 original parents the rest is up for interpretation.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I think you are interested in more than just what the Church teaches though. You already know, probably better than most of us, what the Church teaches. Your interest is clearly not just in what the teachings are, but also whether they could plausibly be reconciled with the deliverances of science. Distinctions between biological humans and metaphysical humans and related hypotheses, speculative as they may be, surely tell us something about whether that reconciliation is theoretically possible. The fact that such distinctions are not found in Catholic teaching seems to me to be beside the point. The point is that the distinctions, if valid, would resolve the apparent contradiction. The fact that those distinctions find no support in Catholic teaching does not mean that Catholic teaching disavows them.

            Additionally, you seem to be just generally interested in what is in fact true. Given that, isn't it important to ask not just what Church teaching is, and whether it is correct, but also -- if you deem that a given teaching is not correct -- whether something like that teaching is correct?

          • David Nickol

            Your interest is clearly not just in what the teachings are, but also whether they could plausibly be reconciled with the deliverances of science.

            Yes, absolutely.

            Distinctions between biological humans and metaphysical humans and related hypotheses, speculative as they may be, surely tell us something about whether that reconciliation is theoretically possible.

            I disagree. As I have repeatedly said, there is not even a hint having to do with this kind of speculation in any Catholic teaching. I should qualify that by adding "any Catholic teaching that I know of." With luck, someone may come up with something relevant I have never heard of. If "official" Catholicism would consider God's plan for the origin of the human race to require the mating of human beings with animals an abomination, as I do, then the fact that we can speculate about it says nothing more than we can make stuff up (as fundamentalists so artfully do) to hang on to a quasi-fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis. As I have also said, I can invent any number of "work-arounds" to reconcile two and only two "first parents" with current genetic findings. But there would be no more reason to find them credible than the "metaphysical human" speculations.

            This may be of interest. Years ago I asked Father Komonchak, a theologian and contributor to the Commonweal blog, if Original Sin was a dogma. This was in the context of a discussion about human origins. He said:

            I believe that there is a dogma with regard to original sin, founded scripturally in particular on Rom 5:11-21. What elements in the obviously symbolic scriptural account in Gen 2-3 are to be interpreted literally, that is, historically, seems to me to be in good part an open question, upon which paleo-anthropology and genetics will have something to say.

          • David Nickol

            Edward Feser sees no great obstacles to accepting the "metaphysical human" scenario. I disagree with him. As I said, it is an abomination.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks. The Father Komonchak quote is helpful and aligns reasonably well with my own "bare bones" opinion. Forgive me for sort of repeating myself, but the only thing that is relatively obvious to me is that non-human animals enjoy a sort of grace / balance / harmony that has been upset within the human sphere. I can only assume that some sort of event in the course of human evolution corresponds to that "upsetting of the balance". I would balk at trying to defend the historical content of "The Fall" in any greater specificity than that, though I do think that Genesis hints at some very plausible factors that would have contributed to that upsetting of the balance.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit of "[2] evolution's tooth and claw..." at 1 hr.) Jim I’ve got this for use outside of SN etc. but thought I’d paste it here as well given the overlapping real estate. It's addressed to another audience, not to "you", and that feature is left unedited for the sake of time. A bit less knotty, less esoteric: Adam, Eve, and Trinitarian termini.

            Quote:

            It has been shown by geneticists that all living human beings on the face of the earth today, based on their mitochondria in our cells, are descended from the same woman. There is literally a mother somewhere in the distant past of the entire human race. Scientists have called her the Mitochondrial Eve. They don’t think that this is the Eve of the Old Testament because they would say this woman was just one of probably thousands of women who existed at that time but remarkably if there were all these other thousands of women their descendants have all died off somehow in the course of history and everybody that exists today is a descendant of this woman who actually lived at some time in the prehistoric past. Moreover, an examination of the Y-chromosome that we men bear also indicates that there is a single man from whom everyone on the face of the earth is descended and he is called, again facetiously, the Y-Chromosomal Adam. Not because they think that this was the original Adam. There were probably, again they think, thousands of men, but at least everybody on the earth is descended from this same man. …….[It] has been now discovered by geneticists that these two persons were apparently roughly contemporaneous according to the evidence. Let me read you from the article from Science News:

            “The largest analyses to date of the human Y chromosome suggest that modern men can trace their family tree further back in time than previously thought. One of the studies, an analysis of 69 men from nine populations worldwide published in the Aug. 2 Science, finds that their most recent common ancestor lived 120,000 to 156,000 years ago. That’s roughly the same time that the last common ancestor of women is estimated to have lived, researchers report. The Y chromosome, passed down from father to son, and mitochondrial DNA, passed down from mother to child, are useful in retracing ancestry because they don’t undergo genetic reshuffling as the rest of the genetic instruction book does. Researchers analyze mutations in these parts of the genome to assess when groups split apart. The hypothetical common ancestors of these genetic lineages are sometimes called Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. We’re not saying they’re exact contemporaries or they actually met or all men and women descended from the same couple,” says study coauthor Carlos Bustamante of Stanford University. Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve aren’t the first man and woman either, but they are real people whose Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA have been passed down with modifications to every living male and female.”

            So remarkably now the evidence seems to be perfectly consistent with the idea that all human beings are descended from an original human pair. These are real people that actually lived in the past and now roughly they are seen to be contemporaneous, which would be consistent with their actually being the historical mother and father of the entire human race.

            That puts quite a different perspective on things, I think, and goes to make the doctrine of the ancestry of the human race in an original historical Adam and Eve I think even more plausible.

            Erin Wayman, “Y chromosome Adam gets older: male and female ancestors were roughly contemporary,” Science News, September 7, 2013. Dr. Craig is referencing an older version of this article which can be found at http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Y+chromosome+Adam+gets+older%3a+male+and+female+ancestors+were+roughly...-a0342677018 (accessed September 30, 2013). For the latest version of this article, see http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/352058/description/Y_chromosome_analysis_moves_Adam_closer_to_Eve (accessed September 30, 2013).

            End quote. [ ….taken from http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s10-14 which has a few layers of reinforcing data at http://www.nature.com/news/genetic-adam-and-eve-did-not-live-too-far-apart-in-time-1.13478 and also at https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/03/26/genetic-adam-and-eve-may-have-lived-around-same-time-study-shows/ and also at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s10-11 and a bit of a replay at http://www.livescience.com/38613-genetic-adam-and-eve-uncovered.html ]

            StrangeNotions / SN has an essay which comments on a few related topics at https://strangenotions.com/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice/ and here’s a brief quote:

            Dr. Coyne's primary error seems to be a quantifier shift. He appears to hold that the statement:

            A: "There is one man from whom all humans are descended"

            ...is equivalent to the statement:

            B: "All humans are descended from [only] one man."

            But this logical fallacy hinges on an equivocation of "one," failing to distinguish "one [out of many]" from "[only] one." Traditional doctrine requires only A, not B: That all humans share a common ancestor, not that they have no other ancestors.

            End quote.

            As with time giving way to timelessness, as with the cosmic T-zero of our particular (of many possible) world/universe, as with the nature of reality being such that the syntax of “X brought Y back to life” in today’s medicine is the “miracle” of 500 years ago, and as with so much more, science affirms that Scripture’s syntax converges with its own – over time. Such is never overnight and is always in flux – over generations even – which is why physics will always be the slave of metaphysics and logic, as illusions and forced absurdities never really have a chance. Along with countless other voices, that same essay from SN (in the next quote) reminds us that, once again, though we see science over time catching up with Scripture, we must always put logic and heavy-meta up front and allow the natural state of “flux” that “is science” to casually ebb and flow and simply, merely, nonchalantly, even dispassionately welcome all new information as all final invoices and payments must, by force of logic, converge:

            “The mythos of Adam and Eve still makes sense when read in the traditional anagogical manner, not in spite of evolutionary learnings but because of them. Of course, Christians must always be wary of concordism, as atheists rightly point out. Being compatible with consensus science is a tricky thing — just ask the clerics who defended long-established geocentrism. If it ain't falsifiable, it ain't science; so we must allow the possibility that what we think we know about evolution [as it relates to Christian metaphysics] is all wrong. That is why it is not a good idea to get too chummy with science, since you never know when she'll pack up her bags and leave you holding the bills.”

            Of course, the Non-Theistic nonsense about concerns of bestiality is just that: nonsense. Why? Because *if*

            [1] evolution’s tooth and claw is pre-fall then we find Genesis naming mankind, the male and female singularity, “Adam” and hence the "problem" with "inbreeding" is nonsense given that whatever was “a” kind just is that which can reproduce successfully and "that" would be the line in question. We have this silly notion that there were radical differences from what we find today, namely, very clear and un-merge-able lines between branches all sitting around together. For example, if "today's human" was that first line, there are zero, none, branches for us to merge with as we look around us. The error is that in our minds we compress multiple thousands of years into a day and pretend that, say, "three or four" merge-able branches are (were) just all hanging out together, alive and well. But that's nonsense. Tens of thousands of years of branches are not all hanging out together around the table inter-mixing. We don't see that today and, honestly, we can just grant that unscientific nonsense to the critic and casually remind him that all that is needed of either God or Genesis is an application atop one complete "merge-able" [set], one branch in its entirety on planet Earth, and, therein, all at once, birth dualism within [that] entire merge-able [set]. The Adamic is there wholly accounted for and all without this silly and unscientific concern about interbreeding and all without that which maps only to covalent bonds. Or, if

            [2] evolution’s tooth and claw, the whole show, is privation literally from the ground up. I mean neither Eden nor Heaven, but Post-Fall. Of course *privation* need not be *post-fall* in every sense, but here I'm defining such as Post-Fall. Well then once again there is no “problem”. Or, if,

            [3] within either [1] or [2] we find that God creates mankind and names it Adam, and then takes the man Adam (the individual), and then (after that event) places him in Eden (whatever that was), well then we are, in either scenario, back to our ever more contemporary (at least scientifically speaking) mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam.

            IMO, as discussed at length elsewhere, we find [2] pressing in given the apparent evil within tooth and claw, laced through with both good and lack, with suffering, and with (therefore) the force of logic behind the teleological, whereby we find our EAAE, Evil’s Argument Against Evolution (against evolution void of final causes, void of the seamless amalgamation of good and good-minus-some-thing) pressing in from the ground up, which, akin to Plantinga’s EAAN, carries the whole show. But, of course, that is an entirely separate – and theological – discussion and one which the (purely) physical sciences cannot subsume. Our Non-Theist friends can be guests at such discussions, but they need never suppose they’ve the means to start defining various ends.

            The path of “dirt-to-man” is, like so much else, that which science is catching up with and whatever that path turns out to be it can’t be the path of immaterial/material. [Dirt/Man] (in total) just isn’t [Immaterial/Material] (in total). Oddly, the Christian term "God" references that which is immaterial, and that which quite easily, and naturally, impinges upon the material. Hence, we seem to find a few Non-Theists who (as they assert that dualism of the immaterial/material isn't possible) have ipso facto changed that which the Christian is referencing when he speaks of "God" and hence also of that which said "God" breathes into existence with respect to the principle of proportionate causality. The immaterial clearly impinges upon, effects, the material given the *God* of Christianity. Physicalism and scientism are fine if one doesn’t mind the pains of (eventual) absurdity, but when it comes to Christianity’s necessarily dualistic landscape amid the Necessary/Contingent ontic-interface or (if it helps) the God/Man ontic-interface “…..one simply can’t cram these kinds of questions into a scientific model. The entire point of what the theist is saying is that there are things which don’t fit that model. One is free to disagree, but it makes no sense to argue against the truth of those claims by pointing out that science doesn’t find them. Of course it doesn’t – that’s the theist’s point. The debate is over whether or not science gives us an exhaustive picture of all reality....." (Debilis)

            That there is that which Informs (….the immaterial, which outlives the body, and different dualisms can fuss over degree and timing and other particulars as they don’t change the landscape in question…) and there is that which is the informed (the material). Degree and timing and other particulars with respect to the interface of such worlds is entirely a theological question. Indeed, the particulars of that interface find no metrics by which the (purely) physical sciences can meaningfully apply demands upon it.

            The vectors of “dirt-to-man” all take place within material vectors and therefore (obviously) cannot comment on that which outdistances (its own) purely corporeal vectors. If the Adamic (in total) was 100% material, then such vectors could rationally lay claim to the whole show. But the whole show of the Adamic necessarily houses vectors which precede and outdistance purely material lines.

            If we want to toy with, say, number [3] from earlier, we find that Mankind (male and female) are, as a collective whole, named Adam in Genesis and therefore the individual man Adam is of necessity created twice in Genesis as interfaces abound and he is brought from outside of Eden into Eden. Whatever that means. Apparently Adam names all the animals on the planet, and finds no suitable mate, and so on. Odd stuff about the mate there. Well, not for the Christian but for the Non-Theist's nonsense of bestiality. The Non-Theist is stuck with his own misperception that Man as 100% material and therefore wants to assert (it would seem) that the affairs of naming animals all over the planet (whatever that was about) probably happened in a few days or months or years or decades and probably took place from a wooden canoe or something that Adam hacked out of a tree and took all over the planet, and that swallowing pills into the gastrointestinal system is the metaphysical means into eternal life there in Eden, and that the interface of said Pills and said Adam was also 100% material, just like the Pills and just like the man Adam. Of course we wish the Non-Theist some metaphysical luck in pushing that nonsense through as he's going to need it.

            Speaking of luck, tediously the concept of "meta" in "metanarrative" escapes far too many of our Non-Theist friends. That’s the problem which philosophical naturalism’s metaphysical baggage is statistically weighted towards – the sort of thinking willing to embrace such forced (final) absurdities on one ontic-front after another…. after another…. is demonstrably at risk for worse outcomes on.... yet more fronts.

            As for the part of the show which sums to “dirt-to-man”, which some call particle in motion, and others call evolution, and still others call creation, we arrive (as in those fancy Pills which the Non-Theist is forced to embrace) with a bizarre notion by Non-Theists that the “rate of change” in those (particle) cascades (which cannot lay claim to the whole show) is somehow “important”. Of course they can't explain why it matters given that “rate of change” is just as irrelevant as the material cascades they describe when seeking the Adamic in total. The corporeal cascades of molecular structures can transpire over a nano-second or over a billion years for all the Christian cares. Why? Because irrelevancy is, well, irrelevancy. Dirt to Man? Well of course. But dirt to the Adamic? Well, except for being logically impossible, sure. But it’s better to go with logic and heavy-meta and (thereby) with Christianity’s actual definitions.

            Still today (per Christianity) the same ontic-interface amid dualistic vectors defines reality by a radically different metaphysic of socio-physical laws vis-à-vis the Decree of the Imago Dei and that timeless “one-another” constituting the Trinitarian processions by which that Image finds all definition. And yet the Non-Theist is missing the whole show for some Non-Christian show. All such ontic interfaces are, on Christianity, from the get-go and such is still the case today and, yet, inexplicably, that interface is wholly expunged from all of the Non-Theist’s premises as he awkwardly tries to discuss Christianity’s metanarrative. Where that metanarrative starts and where it ends just is the Imago Dei wherein the wellspring of all self-outpouring “…..is not a venture outside the trinitarian life of indestructible love, but in fact quite the reverse: it is the act by which creation is seized up into the sheer invincible pertinacity of that love, which reaches down to gather us into its triune motion.” (D. B. Hart) We therefore justifiably marvel that the Non-Theist actually thinks himself informed on Christianity’s metaphysical termini. Leithart, Peter J. has his “Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, Mission”, and there is a chapter titled, “The Physics of The Old Creation”. A brief quote:

            “The apostle Paul shows little interest in the natural world or its hidden parts and processes. He does not catalog plants and animals or attempt to penetrate to the basic particles that compose the physical world. He rarely uses the terminology of Greek physics or metaphysics, and when he does he no longer uses them as Aristotle or Greek scientists had. Paul is more sociologist than scientist, more priest than philosopher, and this is nowhere more obvious than in his knack for “humanizing” and “socializing” terms borrowed from Greek philosophy and science. This chapter begins our excursion into atonement theology by examining two related Pauline terms, “nature” and especially “elements,” physis and ta stoicheia. Paul transforms both terms by relocating them in the history of Israel, the law, the arrival of faith and the gospel. Instead of being permanent features of the physical world, as they are in Greek philosophy and science, the elements are re-described as features of an old creation that Christ has in some way brought to an end. This chapter works at a fairly high level of abstraction. Only later will we examine in detail what the elements are or how they work. It will be some time before we venture a theory about how Jesus disassembled and reassembled the world. All that will have to wait. But if the particular pieces of the puzzle come later, this chapter gets the shape of the final picture in front of us. That picture looks, in general, like this: Prior to the coming of Jesus, the social worlds of Jews and Gentiles were both organized by practices, structures and symbols to which Paul assigns the label “elements of the world.” Minimally, these involved distinctions between purity and impurity, between sacred and profane, and practices that both enforced those distinctions and, to some degree, provided sacrificial pathways of transfer from one to the other. My principal aim will be to show that Paul gives a socio-religious meaning to the phrase “elements of the world,” so that, having made that case, we can assemble a Periodic Table of Old Creation Elements in the following chapters. Over the course of the book, we will find that, according to the apostle, Jesus delivered Jews and Gentiles from the elemental world into a new social world that operates by different sociophysical laws.”

            End quote.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks.

            I support the notion that we should let science "casually ebb and flow and simply, merely, nonchalantly, even dispassionately welcome all new information as all final invoices and payments must, by force of logic, converge" (to put it in Teilhard's words, "everything that rises must converge"). But I think it is not entirely clear to any of us in what sense general revelation and special revelation will converge. It is not clear because both are ongoing projects. We affirm that the dogmas of the Church point to some essential faith content, but exactly what is wheat and what is chaff in our dogmatic articulations is something that we work out over time, at least partly in consultation with the deliverances of general revelation, e.g. science.

            To my mind, the "wheat", or the "essential faith content" with regard to Original Sin seems to be (though again, this is an ongoing project) that:

            1. We humans -- all of us -- are living in a way that is not quite right, and it has something to do with the fact that we were born into a world where things were already "out of balance", and that has something to do with the fact that our parents generation was born in to a world that was already out of balance, and that has something to do with the world their parents were born into, and on and on back to "the first humans" (whatever that means). And:
            2. This lack of balance is not intrinsic to our nature. It is curable. If the wrongness of our current state was an avoidable historical contingency, then it can also be set right through historically contingent events. The corruption is not at the level of our being, but at the level of our relationships.

            That's about it. To summarize even more briefly: we as a human family are in need of redemption, and that redemption is possible. The other elements of the teaching seem to me to be subtle and peripheral. That we are in need of redemption is an empirical fact, and that redemption is possible is a "certainty of faith". I accept those "facts", whether or not I have a theory that is consistent with them. Theories are supposed to bend to facts, not the other way around.

            To suggest some correspondence between Mitochondrial Eve and Biblical Eve, or between Y chromosome Adam and Biblical Adam, is to suggest a pretty specific -- to my mind, overly specific -- type of convergence between scientific knowledge and biblical knowledge. I think it is in reference to this sort of thinking that the word "concordism" finds its meaning. I can't see why convergence with that degree of specificity is important. I can't see what is at stake in those discussions.

            I need more time to digest your argument regarding the bestiality stuff. I will try to follow up on that in the future.

          • Valence

            The argument here doesn't work for the Christian because mitochondrial Eve, if she exists, wasn't the mother of all homo sapiens, just the mother of current living homo sapiens. Eve in the Bible was the mother of all our species.

            http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/no-mitochondrial-eve-not-first-female-species-180959593/?no-ist

            The existence of mitochondrial eve and/or Adam would represents a sad fact that all of the other homo sapien lines have died off along with other species in the genus homo, such as neanderthal.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            The SN quote again: "But this logical fallacy hinges on an equivocation of "one," failing to distinguish "one [out of many]" from "[only] one." Traditional doctrine requires only A, not B: That all humans share a common ancestor, not that they have no other ancestors." A bottleneck of covalent bonds consisting of one Eve and one Adam etc., of the corporeal anyway. Apparently contemporaries of each other. Christianity can take it or leave it. Covalent bonds just aren't enough regardless of the path.

          • Valence

            Genesis 5 gives a clear record of descent from Adam to Noah. We've dated the Mesopotamian flood to 2900 B.C. (consistent with the Sumerian myths), so that record is clearly in error, since over 100,000 years passed after the possible existence of mitochondrial eve. 100,000 years is in incredibly long time for God to wait before giving humans the "true" religion of Judaism, around 1500 B.C. at best? Is there any theological reason for this delay, which is 50 times the temporal distance between us and Jesus Christ?
            Human were engaging in some spiritual practice around 10,000 B.C., demonstrated by Gobekli Tepe, Hinduism shows up around 4000 B.C. along with Sumerian and a bit later Egyptian religions, and we don't get "true" religion until 1500 B.C. Something seems off with that picture...what possible motive could God have for allowing false religion to dominate human life for such a long period of time?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Edit at 40 minutes: I'll add this: It is irrelevant whether or not Adam is mankind (as Genesis states), or a specific man (as Genesis also states) or if such is the result of a genetic bottleneck of material/physical lines summing to modern man's physical lines in the proverbial mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam, for the reasons I stated in my original comment. And then the initial part: God was delayed in being God? There were no moral lines anywhere in mankind before Sinai? Sinai is God's ideal for all of mankind, forever? What about Eden? Is swallowing pills (which grow on trees in Eden..... or something....) into the gastrointestinal system the metaphysical means into eternal life there in Eden? Do the Pills grown on trees? Do you consider the interface of said Pills and said Adam to be 100% material? Do you consider the Pills and the man Adam to be 100% material?

          • Valence

            Is this your way of saying you forgot to take your pills?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            It's my way of telling you that it is irrelevant whether or not Adam is mankind (as Genesis states), or a specific man (as Genesis also states) or if such is the result of a genetic bottleneck of material/physical lines summing to modern man's physical lines in the proverbial mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam, for the reasons I stated in my original comment.

            How about answering the question about Eden and gastrointestinal tracts and eternal life.

          • Valence

            How about answering the question about Eden and gastrointestinal tracts and eternal life.

            Even though you failed to answer my question, I'll answer yours out of courtesy, assuming I understand it correctly. It is courteous not to evade questions, just fyi ;)

            No, it's pretty clear pills alone will not grant eternal life unless they utilize some form of advanced nanotechnology to actually repair dna and cell degradation. Even if we could repair dna (including telomeres that shorten as cells divide), we would only be amortal...we could still be killed by some sort of trama.
            There are some pills that one can potentially take to lengthen one's life. Curcumin and green tea seem to be helpful, and new ideas are showing up like this:

            http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/discovery-reverses-aging-of-mouse-hearts-could-it-work-in-humans-too-201305136241

            I hope that answers your question :)

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Yes, in a true materialist's fashion ;-)

            Just FYI: Sinai isn't (wasn't) God's ideal for all mankind, for all time.

          • Valence

            For an interesting add-on there are some organisms that are immortal

            Daniel Martinez claimed in a 1998 article in Experimental Gerontology that Hydra are biologically immortal.[11] This publication has been widely cited as evidence that Hydra do not senesce (do not age), and that they are proof of the existence of non-senescing organisms generally. In 2010 Preston Estep published (also in Experimental Gerontology) a letter to the editor arguing that the Martinez data support rather than refute the hypothesis that Hydra senesce.[12]

            The controversial unlimited life span of Hydra has attracted the attention of natural scientists for a long time. Research today appears to confirm Martinez' study.[13] Hydra stem cells have a capacity for indefinite self-renewal. The transcription factor, "forkhead box O" (FoxO) has been identified as a critical driver of the continuous self-renewal of Hydra.[13] A drastically reduced population growth resulted from FoxO down-regulation, so research findings do contribute to both a confirmation and an understanding of Hydra immortality.[13]

            While Hydra immortality is well-supported today, the implications for human aging are still controversial. There is much optimism;[13] however, it appears that researchers still have a long way to go before they are able to understand how the results of their work might apply to the reduction or elimination of human senescence.[14].

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_(genus)

            So Hydra escaped the effects of original sin? They never have to die, after all :)

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Man is 100% material? And when the sun cools..... the Hydra? Eternal life you say?

            Again, spoken like a true materialist ;-)

            Which is fine....but it trips you (... us...) up when you (...we...) try to force Scripture's metanarrative into such thinking.

          • Valence

            I'm a monist, but man certainly isn't completely material...unless energy is material (according to quantum field theory matter is actually made of fields). The direction of energy is critical to what we call life...disrupt the energy processes and death occurs. Wouldn't you agree that death comes from material causes? If so, shouldn't preventing death focus on those?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Are you referencing Hawking's God Particle (my previous comment to you about Eternal Life up-thread a bit....) as that which your subjective value of flourishing is fated to go up against? Don't you think reality should define realistic goals? Or do you really mean to speak of eternal life? You know, like the Christian speaks of it and therefore finds "ontic-coherence" in assigning "ontic-value" to "ontic-longevity" (life matters irrespective of the mind of man and its claims etc...) unlike his naturalist friends who must play the role of the ostrich as the god of cosmic indifference laughs.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Eternal life? Are you sure?

            Quote:

            Eschatology is no longer simply a field of theology. Eschatology is now a field of astrophysics, specifically it is part of cosmology. Cosmology is the study of the large-scale structure of the universe. It comprises two sub-disciplines: cosmogony (which is about the origin of the universe) and eschatology (they actually use that word, which is about the future and the end of the universe).

            What Hawking is talking about here is a particular eschatological scenario about what might lie ahead in the future of the universe. The hypothesis is: suppose that the universe is not in its lowest energy vacuum state – the quantum vacuum is this sea of energy that underlies all of physical reality. He is imagining that the universe is hung up in a false vacuum state – it is not at the lowest vacuum energy it could be at. It is at a higher energy state called a false vacuum. Such a state is inherently unstable. Therefore, the universe could suddenly transition down to the true vacuum state.

            If the universe were to undergo such a transition, everything would change. It would result in a change in the law of nature. Everything would be destroyed. There would be a new universe that would emerge on the other side of such a transition.

            Hawking is not original in speculating about such a physical eschatological scenario. In their book, The Five Ages of the Universe, two cosmologists (Fred Adams and Gregory Laughlin) describe this possibly future apocalypse. This is what they say:

            “The shock wave began at a particular but rather undistinguished point of space-time and then traveled outward at blinding speed, rapidly approaching the speed of light. The expanding bubble then enveloped an ever larger portion of the universe. Because of its phenomenal velocity, the shock wave impinged upon regions of space with no advance warning. No light signals, radio waves, or causal communication of any kind could outrun the advancing front and forewarn of the impending doom. Preparation was as impossible as it was futile.

            Inside the bubble, the laws of physics and hence the very character of the universe were completely changed. The values of the physical constants, the strengths of the fundamental forces, and the masses of the elementary particles were all different. New physical laws ruled in this Alice-in-Wonderland setting. The old universe, with its old version of the laws of physics, simply ceased to exist.

            One could view this death and destruction of the old universe as a cause for concern. Alternatively . . . as a reason for celebration. Inside the bubble, with its new physical laws and the accompanying new possibilities for complexity and structure, the universe has achieved a new beginning."

            This reminded me so much of 2 Peter 3:8-10 where Peter talks about how the heavens and the Earth will be burned up like fire and God will usher in a new heavens and a new Earth in their place. It is incredibly analogous to the scenario that physical eschatology possibly says could happen.

            I find this to be a very intriguing parallel between theological eschatology and physical eschatology. This is what Hawking is talking about in this article.

            End quote. (...from Hawking’s God Particle ....)

          • Valence

            You might be proud to learn that you have generated an entire post at the site of the banned, outshine the sun.

            http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2016/09/misunderstanding-and-misrepresenting.html#disqus_thread

            It even references you by name :)

            After reading more about this Craig is clearly getting his science wrong.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit complete at 3 hr) Stanford researchers might be stupid in the eyes of Outside-The-Sun but I’ve no good reason (yet) to discount their numbers out of hand. It seems there’s data for the proverbial X/Y Adam/Eve "zone" to have been around 125K years ago. Stanford is linked below.

            Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” Craig further defines his assertion and notes, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.” That qualification has all the traction in the world as Craig reminds us elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple" that the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, that assertion. Stanford also affirms a noticeable trajectory when comparing yesterday’s data to more recent data.

            The obvious imprecision in Outside The Sun's approach to Craig is there, but first:

            It is unfortunate that neither you nor they (your friends at the other blog) noticed the pesky number [7] here (see below). It’s just easier avoiding the real point in play perhaps, which is simply that either way on this particular body of data the Christian’s metaphysical landscape can take it or leave it. If there is data which places them far apart, fine. Now there’s data which places them as overlapping. Well that’s fine too. At least for the Christian, who isn’t afraid to soak up new data. In fact, I’ve had to re-direct you to that point twice now about it not being relevant to the metaphysical claims in play. I think that says something about both you and your other blog friends.

            Stanford did some research: [1] https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2013/08/common-genetic-ancestors-lived-during-roughly-same-time-period-scientists-find.html some of which is discussed, perhaps at [2] http://www.nature.com/news/genetic-adam-and-eve-did-not-live-too-far-apart-in-time-1.13478 or perhaps at [3] https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/03/26/genetic-adam-and-eve-may-have-lived-around-same-time-study-shows/ or perhaps at [4] http://www.livescience.com/38613-genetic-adam-and-eve-uncovered.html or perhaps at [5] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s10-14 or perhaps at [6] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s10-11 or perhaps at [7] ….Always be open to new information, and, either way on this particular body of data, the Christian’s metaphysical landscape can take it or leave it, as I’ve had to remind you of a few times. Perhaps you'll remind Outside-The-Sun of the actual point in play, and, perhaps you can suggest to them that since they've some sort of cause to discount Stanford's numbers out of hand, perhaps they'd like to take it up with Stanford's research team.

            For completeness:

            Egypt really is part of the Middle East, despite OTS's fussing. Craig could have edited that out, but his statement later that the whole field was not his area of expertise, and that his point was about assumptions and trajectories vis-à-vis models, and that the professional evolutionary geneticist would not be convinced by this foray seemed to qualify the content peripheral to the topic of mathematical assumptions and what appear to be changing trajectories. Andrew's use of "bulls___ting" is another way to go, though Craig's obvious concessions and delineations reveal it to be misapplied.

            Perhaps Outside-The-Sun feels the data at Stanford is flawed as it maintains the previous narrowing of humanity's proverbial parents from tens of thousands to far, far fewer and then narrows that down to overlapping time periods? Sort of like the study Craig referenced alluded to indirectly.

            But why does Outside-The-Sun put words in Craig's mouth? They state, "Third, he claims that variation in mutation rate could change the results; but the change required is more than three orders of magnitude, and this discounts the fact that there are several techniques for estimating minimal population sizes and most don't depend on mutation rate."

            But Craig didn't' say that. He was quoting a genetic research project and its methods/conclusions.

            Even better, the study Craig references is the study Craig references and not some other study. And they, not Craig, using the models specified, and not other models, realized that their assumptions exceeded the predictions made by the models under review by up to a factor of 4.

            The researchers, not Craig, said, "Consequently, if these same models were used to estimate the effective sizes of the ancestral population from the measured genetic diversity at any point in time, they would have overestimated the original population size as much larger than two individuals."

            Craig was merely summarizing a real study which used real models and which measured real data and then made real conclusions. Perhaps Outside-The-Sun feels the data at Stanford is flawed as it maintains the previous narrowing of humanity's proverbial parents from tens of thousands to far, far fewer and then narrows that down to overlapping time periods? Sort of like the study Craig referenced alluded to indirectly.

            Neither Craig nor myself are unaware of the fact, nor care about the fact (given the topic at hand) that Eve isn't the first woman and that she had ancestors, who are also in our genetic makeup. I don't recall Craig stating otherwise ("more plausible" compared to what yesterday's data permitted isn't a claim of said "otherwise"). Rather, the point is merely that there is data which places that narrowing quite wide among, say, tens of thousands of "parents", and which places the male and female very far apart. And, of late, that data is morphing such that the number needed is only a few, perhaps even only two human beings (...in theory perhaps such could provide today's genetic makeup, having gotten it from their ancestors... perhaps not...), and that the male/female of that proverbial narrowing are (it seems) in overlapping timeframes. Data changes. There's no need to panic. It's a simple matter of trajectory among evolving data points. In the real world with the real sun, that is. Not outside the sun.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            BTW, why does Outside-The-Sun imply that Stanford researchers are stupid? Is their logic/metaphysic so tenuous that every little flux in the day's or year's or decade's latest data send them into a tailspin whereby we see such reactions? See, that's why I stated in my comment that logic and heavy-meta have to be out front.

          • Valence

            Nothing at outside-the-sun contradicts anything at Stanford.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit done at 60 min) Actually it does because Stanford is a demonstration of Craig's assertion (edit: as discussed more fully in other comments). And we know that Egypt really is part of the Middle East.

            Perhaps Outside-The-Sun feels the data at Stanford is flawed as it maintains the previous narrowing of humanity's proverbial parents from tens of thousands to far, far fewer and then narrows that down to overlapping time periods? Sort of like the study Craig referenced alluded to indirectly.

            But why does Outside-The-Sun put words in Craig's mouth? They state, "Third, he claims that variation in mutation rate could change the results; but the change required is more than three orders of magnitude, and this discounts the fact that there are several techniques for estimating minimal population sizes and most don't depend on mutation rate."

            But Craig didn't' say that. He was quoting a genetic research project and its methods/conclusions.

            Even better, the study Craig references is the study Craig references and not some other study. And they, not Craig, using the models specified, and not other models, realized that their assumptions exceeded the predictions made by the models under review by up to a factor of 4.

            The researchers, not Craig, said, "Consequently, if these same models were used to estimate the effective sizes of the ancestral population from the measured genetic diversity at any point in time, they would have overestimated the original population size as much larger than two individuals."

            Craig was merely summarizing a real study which used real models and which measured real data and then made real conclusions. Perhaps Outside-The-Sun feels the data at Stanford is flawed as it maintains the previous narrowing of humanity's proverbial parents from tens of thousands to far, far fewer and then narrows that down to overlapping time periods? Sort of like the study Craig referenced alluded to indirectly.

            Neither Craig nor myself are unaware of the fact, nor care about the fact (given the topic at hand) that Eve isn't the first woman and that she had ancestors, who are also in our genetic makeup. I don't recall Craig stating otherwise ("more plausible" compared to what yesterday's data permitted isn't a claim of said "otherwise"). Rather, the point is merely that there is data which places that narrowing quite wide among, say, tens of thousands of "parents", and which places the male and female very far apart. And, of late, that data is morphing such that the number needed is only a few thousand, perhaps even only two human beings (...in theory perhaps such could provide today's genetic makeup, having gotten it from their ancestors...perhaps not...), or that the changing rate of diversification can account for what we see -- or not -- and that the male/female of that proverbial narrowing are (it seems) in overlapping timeframes. Data changes. There's no need to panic. It's a simple matter of trajectory among evolving data points. In the real world with the real sun, that is. Not outside the sun.

            Egypt really is part of the Middle East, despite OTS's fussing. Craig could have edited that out, but his statement later that the whole field was not his area of expertise, and that his point was about assumptions and trajectories vis-à-vis models, and that the professional evolutionary geneticist would not be convinced by this foray seemed to qualify the content peripheral to the topic of mathematical assumptions and what appear to be changing trajectories. Andrew's use of "bulls___ting" is another way to go, though Craig's obvious concessions and delineations reveal it to be misapplied.

            Edit: Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” Craig further defines his assertion and notes, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.” That qualification has all the traction in the world as Craig reminds us elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple" that the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, that assertion. Stanford also affirms a noticeable trajectory when comparing yesterday’s data to more recent data.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edited at 3 hr.) Andrew G / Outside The Sun had a relevant reply to that comment. Unfortunately, they've missed the obvious.

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read Craig in whole. Only in part. It’s about trajectories and assumptions in evolving data points, which the Stanford data show narrowing when compared to yesterday’s data. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” As he states elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple", the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." As Stanford demonstrates.

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read any of my comments in this series as a whole. Only in part. Physical vectors aren’t a problem for me, which is what makes it so bizarre that he states this: “Second, the problem for Christians isn't just that MEve wasn't the first woman and had ancestors, the problem is that she had contemporaries—thousands of them—who are also our ancestors. This is exactly what both the Catholic church and the biblical-literalist Protestant fundamentalists deny; both insist that the Biblical Eve was the only woman, and the Biblical Adam the only man.”

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read Craig in whole, but only in part, as Craig (and me) is not asserting anything which that quote of Andrew just claimed Craig (or me) ought to be busy asserting. Rather, it’s simply a question of whether or not the data points are widening over time or are narrowing over time and how such a trajectory might impact the topic at hand: “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.”

            Neither Craig nor myself are unaware of the fact, nor care about the fact (given the topic at hand) that Eve isn't the first woman and that she had ancestors, who are also in our genetic makeup. I don't recall Craig stating otherwise ("more plausible" compared to what yesterday's data permitted isn't a claim of said "otherwise"). Craig stated, first, “….obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep…“ – and he stated, second, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.”

            My driving point in my series of comments as to the Christian metanarrative being happy to take/leave any path of “dirt-to-man” and how Craig and Sanford apply to that driving point stands intact, and is left entirely unaddressed by Andrew. I'd be happy to discuss that driving point of mine with him here. As I've stated a few times: "It is irrelevant whether or not Adam is mankind (as Genesis states), or a specific man (as Genesis also states) or if such is the result of a genetic bottleneck of material/physical lines summing to modern man's physical lines in the proverbial mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam, for the reasons I stated in my original comment. And BTW, on Adam, Eden, and materialism, swallowing physical pills which grow on trees into the gastrointestinal tract isn't Mankind's means to eternal life."

            Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” Craig further defines his assertion and notes, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.” That qualification has all the traction in the world as Craig reminds us elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple" that the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, that assertion. Stanford also affirms a noticeable trajectory when comparing yesterday’s data to more recent data.

            The point about Stanford/Craig is merely that there is data which places the path of “dirt to man[…which I clearly differentiated from “dirt to the Adamic”, a distinction that Andrew never addresses…] on a trajectory which is quite wide among, say, tens of thousands of "parents", and which places the male and female very far apart in time, and that the Christian’s metaphysical landscape is happy to take that. Or leave it. Hence, Craig/Stanford: Of late, that data is morphing such that the number needed is only a few thousand, perhaps even only two human beings (...in theory perhaps such could provide today's genetic makeup, having gotten it from their ancestors... perhaps not... hence Craig’s foray…), or perhaps rate of change in population genetics can provide what we see today – or not – hence Craig's foray once again – and that the male/female of that proverbial narrowing "couple" are (it seems) in overlapping timeframes. Once again, for anyone who actually read my series of comments, the Christian’s metaphysical landscape is happy to take that. Or leave it. Data changes. There's no need to panic. That's why, for anyone who actually read my series of comments, I stated that logic, necessity, and heavy-meta vectors have to be kept out front, as our data points within contingent/mutable vectors of time and physicality will necessarily change over time. It's a simple matter of trajectory among evolving data points with respect to man's corporeal constitutions. In the real world with the real sun, that is. Not outside the sun. It’s also a matter of reading my series of comments in whole, not in part, and of reading Craig in whole, not in part. That Andrew did neither is obvious.

          • Michael Murray

            Just in case you don't realise Andrew G cannot post here. Like most of the atheists posting over there and a bunch more who have just left after their banning he was banned from Strange Notions as part of its commitment to theist / atheist dialogue. So you could just go over there and reply to him directly. It's "Outshine the Sun" by the way by an English rock band called "All about Eve". You can find it on youtube.

            http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Given that Andrew didn't read me in whole (but only in part) and given that he didn't read Craig in whole (but only in part), it seems plausible that dialogue could have, or did, over time, become problematic in such a setting. But then I've only my own (very few) data points in this brief experience by which to extrapolate. Few though they be, they do seem to map along said trajectory.

            Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” Craig further defines his assertion and notes, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.” That qualification has all the traction in the world as Craig reminds us elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple" that the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, that assertion. Stanford also affirms a noticeable trajectory when comparing yesterday’s data to more recent data.

            As discussed more fully in other comments........

          • Valence

            There is no evidence that Andrew read you are Craig only in part. You are simply making up bad excuses to cover up your cowardice, an refusal to admit you were propagating misinformation that started with Craig. I've read enough of Craig to know he does this a lot, making him generally lack much intellectual creditability because he keeps getting s misleading errors up for people to keep reading. I get the impression that both you and Craig only care about your agenda's, not the truth. Of course, the same could be said of many atheists and has nothing to do with theism or atheism.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” Craig further defines his assertion and notes, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.” That qualification has all the traction in the world as Craig reminds us elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple" that the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, that assertion. Stanford also affirms a noticeable trajectory when comparing yesterday’s data to more recent data. And there’s more, so, for the sake of completeness:

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read Craig in whole. Only in part. It’s about trajectories and assumptions in evolving data points, which the Stanford data show narrowing when compared to yesterday’s data. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said, this is an area in which I have only a surface knowledge. So I am sharing with you some of this information to just give you a familiarity with the issue. But you can bet that obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep on Haute Island.” As he states elsewhere when referring to this and to the now overlapping time frames of the proverbial "couple", the issue in play is that data changes and their trajectories change because there is ".....uncertainty of these dating approximations. They are based on mathematical models, and they are subject to...revision." As Standford demonstrates.

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read any of my comments in this series as a whole. Only in part. Physical vectors aren’t a problem for me, which is what makes it so bizarre that he states this: “Second, the problem for Christians isn't just that MEve wasn't the first woman and had ancestors, the problem is that she had contemporaries—thousands of them—who are also our ancestors. This is exactly what both the Catholic church and the biblical-literalist Protestant fundamentalists deny; both insist that the Biblical Eve was the only woman, and the Biblical Adam the only man.”

            Clearly Andrew didn’t read Craig in whole, but only in part, as Craig (and me) is not asserting anything which that quote of Andrew just claimed Craig (or me) ought to be busy asserting. Rather, it’s simply a question of whether or not the data points are widening over time or are narrowing over time and how such a trajectory might impact the topic at hand: “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.”

            Neither Craig nor myself are unaware of the fact, nor care about the fact (given the topic at hand) that Eve isn't the first woman and that she had ancestors, who are also in our genetic makeup. I don't recall Craig stating otherwise ("more plausible" compared to what yesterday's data permitted isn't a claim of said "otherwise"). Craig stated, first, “….obviously evolutionary biologists who study population genetics will not be persuaded by the example of the sheep…“ – and he stated, second, “What I think we can say is that given this data the traditional view is defensible. But I am not suggesting that this proves it. It is just that we are looking here as to whether it is defensible in light of the data.”

            My driving point in my series of comments as to the Christian metanarrative being happy to take/leave any path of “dirt-to-man” and how Craig and Stanford apply to that driving point stands intact, and is left entirely unaddressed by Andrew. I'd be happy to discuss that driving point of mine with him here. As I've stated a few times: "It is irrelevant whether or not Adam is mankind (as Genesis states), or a specific man (as Genesis also states) or if such is the result of a genetic bottleneck of material/physical lines summing to modern man's physical lines in the proverbial mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam, for the reasons I stated in my original comment. And BTW, on Adam, Eden, and materialism, swallowing physical pills which grow on trees into the gastrointestinal tract isn't Mankind's means to eternal life."

            The point about Stanford/Craig is merely that there is data which places the path of “dirt to man[…which I clearly differentiated from “dirt to the Adamic”, a distinction that Andrew never addresses…] on a trajectory which is quite wide among, say, tens of thousands of "parents", and which places the male and female very far apart in time, and that the Christian’s metaphysical landscape is happy to take that. Or leave it. Hence, Craig/Stanford: Of late, that data is morphing such that the number needed is only a few thousand, perhaps even only two human beings (...in theory perhaps such could provide today's genetic makeup, having gotten it from their ancestors... perhaps not... hence Craig’s foray…), or perhaps rate of change in population genetics can provide what we see today – or not – hence Craig's foray once again – and that the male/female of that proverbial narrowing "couple" are (it seems) in overlapping timeframes. Once again, for anyone who actually read my series of comments, the Christian’s metaphysical landscape is happy to take that. Or leave it. Data changes. There's no need to panic. That's why, for anyone who actually read my series of comments, I stated that logic, necessity, and heavy-meta vectors have to be kept out front, as our data points within contingent/mutable vectors of time and physicality will necessarily change over time. It's a simple matter of trajectory among evolving data points with respect to man's corporeal constitutions. In the real world with the real sun, that is. Not outside the sun. It’s also a matter of reading my series of comments in whole, not in part, and of reading Craig in whole, not in part. That Andrew did neither is obvious.

          • Valence

            I will repeat, nothing Andrew G is saying contradicts Stanford. An intellectual honest person would debate him over there, where he can respond. I have other things to do today.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, as discussed in my comment opening with,

            "(Edited at 3 hr.) Andrew G / Outside The Sun had a relevant reply to that comment. Unfortunately, they've missed the obvious....."

            Your use of the word "debate" is referencing the logically impossible given Andrew's inability (so far) to read in whole, and not in part. I've no time for "that". I have other (better) things to do today.

          • Valence

            I'm glad you have better things to do today than to post more misinformation from people like Craig. I find misinformation to be a big problem in the world today. Enjoy!

          • LHRMSCBrown

            That's not a rebuttal of the points raised in my comment beginning with, "Stanford is a proof of, a demonstration of, what Craig was actually asserting, and therefore is not relevant to what Craig wasn’t asserting. Evolutionary biologists shouldn’t be convinced by Craig’s foray into speculation based on only one study, at least according to Craig himself: “As I said........"

          • David Nickol

            Covalent bonds?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Right. The Adamic just isn't 100% material. Hence, whatever the path of material turns out to be, it still won't be, cannot be, the whole show.

            "A covalent bond, also called a molecular bond, is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. These electron pairs are known as shared pairs or bonding pairs, and the stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms, when they share electrons, is known as covalent bonding."

          • David Nickol

            I come from a family of chemists and know what a covalent bond is in chemistry. (Also, I know how to use a dictionary.) What I was questioning was your use of the concept, which still makes no sense to me.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Man is not 100% material. The story of covalent bonds just isn't the whole story of God building Man. The vectors of “dirt-to-man” all take place within material vectors and therefore (obviously) cannot comment on that which outdistances (its own) purely corporeal vectors. If the Adamic (in total) was 100% material, then such vectors could rationally lay claim to the whole show. But the whole show of the Adamic necessarily houses vectors which precede and outdistance purely material lines. Dirt to Man? Well of course. But dirt to the Adamic? Well, except for being logically impossible, sure. But it’s better to go with logic and heavy-meta and (thereby) with Christianity’s actual definitions.

            If you point at any particular physical path and tell me "that's the whole show", I'll tell you I'm not a materialist and that it isn't the whole show.

          • David Nickol

            From Humani Generis:

            When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as
            from the first parent of all,
            or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to
            original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

            As I understand the Catholic position on Adam and Eve, Adam had to be the first man, and Eve had to be the first woman. Mitochondrial Eve and Chromosomal Adam, even if they lived at the same time and mated with each other, would have had human ancestors, human contemporaries, and their children would have mated with existing human beings who were not descendants of either Mitochondrial Eve and Chromosomal Adam. So this is another version of the first two (and only two) "metaphysical humans" living among "animal humans," with their children mating with "animal humans."

            I think the concept of the most recent common ancestor is more difficult to grasp than it may at first appear and perhaps is not as significant as one might think. For example, all women are descended from Mitochondrial Eve, but they are also necessarily descended from Mitochondrial Eve's mother. The only significant difference between Mitochondrial Eve and her mother is that Mitochondrial Eve is one generation closer to us. The same is true of Mitochondrial Eve's grandmother, great grandmother, great great grandmother, and so on.

            By the way, it is not known for an absolute fact that all women alive today are descended from Mitochondrial Eve. It is possible that long-isolated peoples have among them women who are not.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            It is irrelevant whether or not Adam is mankind (as Genesis states), or a specific man (as Genesis also states) or if such is the result of a genetic bottleneck of material/physical lines summing to modern man's physical lines in the proverbial mitochondrial Eve / Y chromosomal Adam, for the reasons I stated in my original comment. And BTW, on Adam, Eden, and materialism, swallowing physical pills which grow on trees into the gastrointestinal tract isn't Mankind's means to eternal life.

          • Sample1

            Huh?

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Help me out Mike. I don't know which part strikes you as strange or incomprehensible.

          • Sample1

            I know a nurse who believes that if she puts a dash of turmeric in a gallon of water and then dilutes that water hundreds of times, the original drop of turmeric will still remain in the gallon and become more potent. I know another nurse who thinks that massaging the head of a baby will help with latching on (during breast feeding) but massage isn't enough, the reason for being successful is the manipulation of the infant's cranial sutures by one's hand.

            When they tell me these things, I say, "huh?" as I have no clue what they are talking about. It's so askance my own understanding of reality.

            Likewise, I am left with "huh?" after your paragraph discussing sorts, balances, harmonies, etc.

            I just have no idea where to begin. As one who does not think like you do, I am just letting you know that your words evoke the same confusion I feel when nurses talk about what I put forth above.

            I don't have this confusion with others here.

            Mike
            Edit done

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            It's so askance my own understanding of reality.

            Ah, well, say no more then. Maybe if I stop inserting words that I don't understand into my sentences, people will start to understand me better.

          • Sample1

            The thing is, I don't see your opinions as being bare bones. You're making a lot of personal thoughts known that have deep theological significance (if I am to believe theologians). Moreover, you say that things are even further hinted at and well, that just adds to the whole thing.

            And that Fr. Komonchak quote, it's exceedingly vague to me. He's basically saying I believe X, but cannot show you why except that science-based contributions will have a say.

            So is that where you are at?

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I meant "bare bones" in the sense of asserting a minimum of specific details. The "bare bones" of the doctrine of Original Sin are, in my view:

            1. At some point in evolutionary history, there was no wrongness. This would be, in my mind, the so-called "original blessing". You would have presumably had things like eagles killing and eating fish, and there is suffering involved in that, but that's not *wrong*; that's just eagles being eagles.

            2. Then at some point, plausibly coinciding with the dawn of what we now call humans, some animal (let's call it a "human", for simplicity) did something that really was just flat out wrong, with full awareness of that wrongness. That bad thing didn't need to happen, but it happened.

            3. Whatever happened, it affected all of humanity. My life is a little bit screwy at least in part because I was brought up by parents whose lives were already a little bit screwy, and it wasn't totally their fault either, because they also were born into a screwy world, and on and on back to "the first humans".

            I consider that to be "bare bones" because it doesn't assert any specific narrative of exactly what went wrong; it doesn't assert any particular number of individuals involved in the original muck-up; it doesn't assume any particular mechanism by which the effects of the bad event have reached their way down to me, and so forth. It just says, very simply: something bad happened a long long time ago, and we living humans are still enmeshed in the consequences.

            Now, with Humani Generis, the Church seems to have taught something a whole lot more specific than that. But there is the question of what, in Humani Generis is really essential (or "dogmatic") to Catholic thought, versus what was just Pius XII rambling on. The way I read that Fr. Komonchak quote, he seems to believe that there is some dogmatic nugget in there (perhaps along the lines of the "bare bones" features that I laid out), but he stops way short of saying that I need to wake up every morning and affirm some very specific phylogenetic tree. I think it's fair to call that a "vague" view, though it does involve a few broad brushstrokes that seem to be non-negotiable. And, yeah, I think that's about where I'm at.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Non-Theists *seem* to view Man as co-eternal with God. Hence the term "original" trips them up. The same view seems to impact their definition of "sin" as well. It's just basic logic that non-eternal beings could not possibly have always been doing X. The term Original? The term Sin? Such ontic-seams obtain on force of logic. As always, our assumptions and empirical data points ebb and flow and morph, which is fine. It's why we keep logic and heavy-meta out in front at all times.

          • Sample1

            1. At some point in evolutionary history, there was no wrongness.

            Manifestly a statement of blind faith this. It's a faith claim because I cannot in good conscience allow your using the words evolutionary history. I can't allow it because I mean something different by it than you and your church. Your church is at (and I know everyone overuses this word) fundamental odds with the scientific understanding of evolution. So right out of the gate we are in deep disagreement about reality.

            Your church (or cult's) model requires gods.

            The scientific model does not require anything like your gods.
            -----

            Where do we go from here?

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            We don't have to go anywhere from here Mike. If you want to understand where I am coming from, you could further our engagement by telling me specifically why you disagree with what I wrote (e.g. do you think moral wrongness existed in the Paleozoic era? Can trilobites be morally wrong?), or you can ask me to clarify what I mean about something specific, or you could tell me why you think anything that I wrote in that comment requires what you call "gods". But I am not going to do all the heavy lifting. You have to do more than just rant on about my biases and incomprehensibility if you really want to have a conversation.

          • Sample1

            What you call a rant, I call pointing out errors with your views in point number one (your understanding of evolution is mistaken; no godly guidance required for the theory). If I'm wrong about you, all you have to say is, "Mike, my model and my authority's model does not require a god for evolutionary theory." Is it heavy lifting to be clear on that? It's not my fault that you've chosen a crappy starting point!

            Moving on to point number two. Edit: you know what? Not moving on to point number two yet. That would be cheating you. Let's clear up one first.

            Mike
            Edit done.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            What on earth. Where did I even mention "godly guidance"? Why do you think that anything I said assumes "godly guidance"?

          • Sample1

            You're a Catholic. You believe that your God and evolution are inextricably paired. I'm just trying to have you be open and honest about your position.

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I believe that God is inextricably paired with everything , but I am not relying on that in any way in my argument. Why not just address my argument. Why do you insist on bringing "God" into the discussion? I would prefer to stay away from terms that we are likely to understand in very different ways.

          • Sample1

            Too late. You used the words evolutionary history and I immediately noticed we are going to have problems. Like those wacky nurses, you can't just throw out the words evolutionary history and expect the privilege of a science based understanding when you don't hold to the science based understanding.

            Mike

          • LHRMSCBrown

            "....the topic of morality takes on a different, and I would say rightful or, at the least evidence-based, trajectory....." Trajectory? Ontic-ought? You've not the intellectual privilege. Semantic gamers can't just throw out words. Better/worse, teleology / dis-teleology aren't your friend. Illusions being, well, un-ontic, so to speak.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I see. So there is no hope of arguing with me because I am a theist who used the term "evolutionary history", and a theist can't possibly hold to a science-based understanding. Therefore I am clearly showing bad faith by using scientific terminology. OK, so all scientific discussion between us is off the table, I guess. What else do you want to talk about?

          • Sample1

            On the contrary. You can realize that theistic evolution is a non-starter and abandon it for the strictly scientific approach. Once you're an atheist we will have scads of things to talk about.

            I'm about to climb a mountain and my running partner is late. Perhaps I'll think of something else today and get back to you.

            Mike

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I'm not even sure what theistic evolution means, but I'm pretty sure I don't believe in it, and I know I have never proposed it as an explanation. I believe in scientific accounts of evolution. I'm still scratching my head as to why you think otherwise.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            A few broad brush strokes: I think the responses we see are at times really just psychological projection on their part. They think they can use words like trajectory, teleology, dis-teleology, better/worse, and so on http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/03/conjuring-teleology.html in their own causal paradigm soaked through with S. Carroll's illusory, but of course they don't want to find man's genesis awakening in a paradigm soaked through with final causes, with good, with good-minus-some-thing, and so on. It seems they sort of project what they know to be their own at-bottom ontic-illusion onto the Theistic claims of trajectory and so we see the fussing about nonsense like "godly guidance".... God's finger and all that even as they speak of some mysterious ontic-illusion of the irreducibly ontic-moral, or of an ontic-illusion of an irreducible ontic-trajectory into love's timeless one-another.... or something. It's all a bit of a X-Box Semantic-Gamer phenomenon. Our Non-Theist friend has got his epistemic rehearsed well for the semester’s final shot at a passing grade – in fact he rehearsed it so well and so long that he forgot it had nothing to do with the actual examination. Expect equivocations and a sort of semantic dance before too long on the make-up examination. The red of tooth and claw is strong evidence, undeniable evidence, affirming a creation straining towards reciprocity and all within a world soaked through with teleology/dis-teleology, with good / good-minus-some-thing, with better/worse, and which through its own constitutions never can finish the work at hand. It's evil's argument against the naturalistic brand of evolution, or the EAAE as I've discussed elsewhere which is in several vectors akin to Plantinga's EAAN. No finger of God needed of course. Merely the divine decree of the Imago Dei as causal paradigms obtain, or fail to obtain, solvency. If such pains are from the ground up, well then Eden's possible worlds easily subsume such. The bare bones frame you mentioned works either way. Palindromes are like that. I mean, it's not like the possibilities were infinite. Eden, Privation, and Heaven traverse *one* landscape in total with respect to "the Adamic" even as each is found within its own distinct topography. Power cannot create one-sided coins after all, because weddings aren't like that. Sooner or later the Adamic awakens and the face of the Divine breaks through the sky as the light of day fills the morning, love's timeless reciprocity ultimately defining all processions. We can believe the evidence as, apparently, according to scripture there's an ontic-seam somewhere beyond which things with teeth and things without teeth will abide in peace together. Whatever that means. Material and immaterial, it all converges. Therefore God.

          • Valence

            It seems that many animals are capable of some moral decision making, and apes have a somewhat similar mixture of selfish and altruistic instincts. More intelligent creatures are certainly capable of more advanced morality, but that doesn't mean that less intelligent creatures don't have some form of morality.

            http://mobile.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html

            Even if we don't want to call ape decision making morality, it gets harder if we include neanderthal who buried their dead, made tools, ect.
            http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25465102

            Add to that that many humans today are part neanderthal or other non sapien human

            https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160526-neanderthal-denisovan-dna-modern-humans/

          • Sample1

            Thank you for taking on point 2 onward. As you can probably tell, if we drop the theistic evolution (which I believe is nonsensical) that Catholics are obliged to adopt as their worldview, the topic of morality takes on a different, and I would say rightful or, at the least evidence-based, trajectory.

            Mike
            Edits done

          • Valence

            I've never seen any explanation as to why God would use a blind search process like evolution in the first place unless it wants to bring into existence anything that's possible. If that's the case, humans would be very misguided in thinking the universe was made for them.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Merely agreeing with the Christian's metaphysical landscape on the brokenness and ought-not-ness laced throughout eons of the red of tooth and claw grinding towards reciprocity's irreducible contours isn't enough. You need to demonstrate that your words actually reference something fundamentally real, something irreducibly true with respect to reality. But you've not done that. You've merely strung words together without telling us what they referent, where their ontic or cosmic or ultimate meaning-maker can be found. If you actually had the ontological (irreducible, non-illusory) Good which was "to some real degree missing", and could therefore reference "it would have been better if", then you'd have a point. But you don't. Whether we traverse such landscapes from the top down or from the bottom up makes no difference to the Christian's wherewithal, hence he's happy to just follow the data points and connect the dots. But that's his intellectual right. Not yours. Not in any of your possible universes.

          • Valence

            I see nothing relevant in your post I can respond to, just fyi. There is a comical irony that you mention someone stringing words together :)

          • LHRMSCBrown

            We know you can't see anything. Neither can S. Carroll. That's the whole point of Poetic Naturalism. QED-1. The awkward part for said poetry is that said poets still run about making claims on the fundamental nature of things. QED-2.

          • Valence

            Who is this "we" again?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Carroll and anyone else who knows that such poetic syntax is forced upon us and in fact constitutes ignorance of reality's fundamental nature.

            You need to demonstrate that your words actually reference something fundamentally real, something irreducibly true with respect to reality. But you've not done that. You've merely strung words together without telling us what they referent, where their ontic or cosmic or ultimate meaning-maker can be found. If you actually had the ontological (irreducible, non-illusory) Good which was "to some real degree missing", and could therefore reference "it would have been better if", then you'd have a point. But you don't.

          • Valence

            You say: "We know you can't see anything."

            I ask: "Who is we?"

            You respond: "Carroll and anyone else who knows that such poetic syntax is forced upon us and in fact constitutes ignorance of reality's fundamental nature."

            Are you suggesting Carroll is reading my posts? If not, why not just admit that "we" just refers to you. I mean, if you can't even get something that simple correct, what's the point of discussing something complex?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            What is the fundamental nature of the history of the ontic-becoming of "Dirt-To-Man"? What is the fundamental nature of the history of the ontic-becoming of "Dirt-To-The-Adamic"? Where in your paradigm's seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion do you differentiate the fundamental nature of said continuum from the fundamental nature of humanity? Point to where those fundamental natures irreducibly part ways. If you can. Then tell us what's broken, or lacking, if anything, in said ontic-becomings. What is your metaphysical (ontic, irreducible, etc...) referent for "broken", for "lacking"?

          • Valence

            Are you unable, or simply unwilling to admit to error in using the pronoun "we" when the correct pronoun was I. Can't you see the futility of any discussion with someone who can't even do that? What would be accomplished by answering any of your questions if this isn't a two way street of me admitting error if it's found, and you doing so as well? Is engaging in futile and pointless activities wise on anyone's paradigm?
            In general, what do you think you have accomplished with your posts on this thread? I've enjoyed and learned some things with my conversations Jim Hillclimber, for example, but I see nothing of value or coherence in any of your posts. I don't mean this just to be insulting, and I am genuinely curious as to your motives, especially as they relate to your inability to admit error. Another example was your quite wrong definition of causal closure.
            Within your paradigm, isn't intellectual honesty a virtue? It is in mine. Openly admitting error and correcting it in the future is a key part of that, and you have repeatedly used "we" inappropriately and completely ignore the facts when it is pointed out that you are in error.
            Again I see nothing of value to discuss we you if we can't agree on basic conversational and intellectual ethics.

            P.S. I will not be distracted by additional irrelevant questions. I inclined to believe that you are using them as a distraction which is a standard tactic of a deceptive person.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Three items: [1] "We" includes me, Carroll's illusory, and you, and a wide array of published Theists. Your lack of means here is evidence of the same. The "we" of a wide array of Theists who affirm that you've not the means to defend your claim via answering my questions asked of you in my previous comment is easy enough to find. Would you like some quotes of Feser and Hart which agree with Carroll's "useful rather than true" nuances? I'm a bit surprised that you're not aware of the problem at hand. Please explain where I'm mistaken here.

            [2] BTW, you never did answer me when I asked you what my theme was within the Stanford/Craig combo, and why Craig stated that evolutionary biologists need not be impressed with his reference. Please explain my theme there and also where I'm mistaken.

            [3] As for causal closure, a purely physical system ought to be able to demonstrate such, but I don't think a materialist (or anyone) can demonstrate it. Why? Because the immaterial weighs in "also", and, so, without that included the loop can never be coherently closed. My metaphysics predict that such will result. Evidence is affirming such predictions. Incoherent closure is easy enough, and that's all that was given, in a very Carroll-esc fashion. Please explain where I'm mistaken here.

          • Valence

            Let's try this one last time, I'll start further back:

            Me: "I see nothing relevant in your post I can respond to, just fyi. There is a comical irony that you mention someone stringing words together :)"

            You: "We know you can't see anything."

            Anyone who knows I can't see anything would have needed to read both your comment and mine. No one in your listings of who "we" is have read my comment. Again, your error is obvious and still you try to rationalize it. Sad really.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            If you could see far enough to justify your claim you'd justify your distinctions. Materialism / Non-Theism, and therefore your paradigm, and therefore your reasoning, and therefore you, cannot see far enough to answer the following questions and therein justify your distinctions. Plenty of published Non-Theists and Theists agree, as you're well aware. In fact many Non-Theists are quite forceful in said agreement about drawing "ontic-distinctions". Here's the questions one more time:

            What is the fundamental nature of the history of the ontic-becoming of "Dirt-To-Man"? What is the fundamental nature of the history of the ontic-becoming of "Dirt-To-The-Adamic"? Where in your paradigm's seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion do you differentiate the fundamental nature of said continuum from the fundamental nature of humanity? Point to where those fundamental natures irreducibly part ways. If you can. Then tell us what's broken, or lacking, if anything, in said ontic-becomings. What is your metaphysical (ontic, irreducible, etc...) referent for "broken", for "lacking"?

          • Valence

            Perhaps you just don't understand me. In either case, pursuit of further discussion is obviously futile. Have a good one.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            I understand your means preclude you from seeing far enough to close the loop. Several loops even seem to force absurdity. The "we" which agrees is wide and diverse, and includes Non-Theists. In some ways it's reminiscent of thematic lines in the Stanford/Craig combo. Ultimately gaps are just not impressive to me or to you, as we all know our knowledge is incomplete. However, an ever widening array of the forced reductio ad absurdum presents philosophical naturalism with a metaphysical baggage which [1] makes it untenable and [2] affords those who disagree with its means/ends the intellectual luxury of a justifiable claim about PN's own implausibility and of Christianity's more robust plausibility.

          • Rob Abney

            http://www.epsociety.org/userfiles/art-Chaberek%20(AquinasEvol-Final).pdf
            Here is the summary statement from this paper.
            "These arguments show a substantial incompatibility between Thomas Aquinas’s teachings on the origin of species and the concept of theistic evolution"

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Sure, there is grey area. But, as has been discussed before, the fuzziness of a demarcation line doesn't imply that there is no real distinction. I don't quite know where the property line is between my yard and my neighbor's yard, but I know when I am clearly in his yard, and I know when I am clearly in mine. As an example of something in the grey area, dolphin males seem pretty nasty when they engage in gang rape of female dolphins, but I'm not ready to propose putting them on trial for their crimes. But anyway, go ahead and put dolphins and primates and whatever else on our side of the line if you want. It doesn't seem to me that that changes the fundamentals of the argument that I am making. The point remains that at some point in the history of the universe, there were no creatures who were capable of doing wrong in any meaningful sense.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            That all of creation strains towards love’s timeless reciprocity, and groans in the pains of its absence, such isn’t new http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/07/liberalism-and-five-natural-inclinations.html though some of our Non-Theist friends seem quite excited about it. That excitement stems (most likely) from difficulty employing the concept of metanarrative when approaching reality within the Christian’s causal paradigm.

          • Valence

            Let's use dogs instead of dolphins. Is it wrong to kill a fog for no reason? How about if the dog maimed a child?
            You probably see where I'm going. If it's ok to kill a dog after it has maimed a child, isn't it now justified because it has done something we regard to be wrong?
            We aren't very concerned with what dolphins do to each other, but if one harms a human... It's probably also justifiable to put a dog down for killing another dog though we only care about that if the slain dog belongs to a human, usually. Shouldn't objective morality have some place for all minded beings (with a more important place for more intelligent ones)? If not, isn't it just an anthropocentric morality?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            This seems to be getting very far afield from the points that I was trying to make about Original Sin, but I'll follow you here if you want ...

            I think in the situation you mention we generally don't assign any moral culpability to the dog for what he or she did. You may have to put the dog down for reasons of human safety, but we generally don't spend much time worrying about whether the dog was morally blameworthy. Now, my dog undoubtedly has some dim sense that he is not supposed to chew on my flip flops, and his body language makes that clear. But I still don't assign to him the level of agency where it would make sense to say that any of his actions are immoral.

            As to your more general question, I think: yes, what we call "morality" in the human sphere is just the apotheosis of a more general teleology in which all creation participates. As LHRMSCBrown just alluded to, we read in Romans 8 that, "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" and "creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God". In other words, when we act as we should, we are acting on behalf of all of creation, funneling it all back toward God, completing that trajectory that all creation has been participating in since the beginning of time. So, to me, anthropocentric morality is creation-centric teleology.

          • Valence

            What if we suddenly find ourselves in the presence of music h more intelligent entities, artificial, genetically enhanced or alien? Perhaps they will think we lack significant moral agency especially if the have a morality specific to their kind. If we find ourselves in that situation we will certainly hope they have a more open moral approach. I think the assumption that we are the pinnacle of intelligence is a common, but flawed assumption. Taking that into account changes ones perspective.

            http://www.seti.org/seti-institute/a-seti-signal

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I don't think I'm really hanging my hat on an assumption of the supremacy of human intelligence. My anthropology relies on humans having sufficient intelligence to support moral agency, but it also relies on the fact that we are sufficiently unintelligent to preclude perfect moral judgement. Moral fallibility is essential to my understanding of what it means to be human, so finding an ET that is less morally fallible than I am wouldn't cause any great crisis of faith.

            What might cause a crisis of faith, or at the very least would cause a radical re-evaluation of my Christology, would be if this super-intelligent ET species had a credible tradition of God becoming historically incarnate as a member of their species. I don't know what I'd do with that. Maybe I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

          • Valence

            What might cause a crisis of faith, or at the very least would cause a radical re-evaluation of my Christology, would be if this super-intelligent ET species had a credible tradition of God becoming historically incarnate as a member of their species. I don't know what I'd do with that. Maybe I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

            Interestingly enough, the same new information would have me leaning much stronger in the direction of Christianity, though perhaps not orthodox Christianity. Even if they agreed that objective morality exists, it would certainly push me in the direction of a thinking God (as opposed to the monist verions). In any case, an intelligent but nonhuman perspective would allow for a lot of theory testing and new theorizing, assuming we could understand their concepts. I suppose it might be hopeless if the intelligence is advanced enough...we would be like insects trying to understand the ways of humans. I suppose that's why God's ways are so mysterious, if he exists.

          • David Nickol

            yes, my wife is an animal but then again so am i, in fact all human beings are animals.

            An interesting question, to which I am not certain of the answer, is whether in the Bible itself or in biblical times, human beings were considered animals. I think the answer is almost certainly no. In both creation accounts, animals and humans are created separately. Below are five OT verses on bestiality, and none makes a distinction between human and non-human animals. Of course, were the original Hebrew examined, I suppose there might be a word for animal that included both human and non-human animals. I rather doubt it.

            Exodus 22:19 "Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.

            Leviticus 18:23 'Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.

            Leviticus 20:16 'If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

            Deuteronomy 27:21 'Cursed is he who lies with any animal.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'

            Leviticus 20:15-16 'If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal. 'If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

          • Mike

            right. so is that why you don't think catholics can identify as animals?

          • Alexandra

            According to modern genetics, the "first parents" from which all human beings have descended must be in the neighborhood of 10,000, not two. 

            I'm afraid I'm going to disagree. It has not been scientifically proven it "must" be 10,000.

            A working model in anthropology, which the "10,000" theory is, is not the same as scientific consensus in genetics, or in science.

            Because of the scant material evidence available for early humans, there is a significant limitation on what science can prove and disprove about human origins. For example, relationships, including about genetic information, among early human- like populations, are inferred, not scientifically proven.

            There currently is no scientific understanding/model that has actually disproven the "two parent" model.
            There are competing models of human origin excluding the two parent model- that is distinct from actually disproving it.

            The 10,000 model itself, doesn't contradict (or validate) the two parent model. It does not take many generations, evolutionary speaking, to go from two to 10,000.

            What is your source for the 10,000 model? I have seen references to the Relethford analysis, but nothing beyond that.

            Edit: added word

          • Will

            As far as we can currently tell, homo erectus is the ancestor species that led to homo sapiens, homo neanderthalensis, and homo floresiensis (possibly others). So how do we get from homo eructus to homo sapiens? Many genetic changes. Typically any mutation that is beneficial will only occur in an individual organism, and spreads through population in subsequent generations. To get to humans, however, many, many mutations are required, which would accrue over a substantial number of generation. To postulate that homo erecti suddenly gave birth to two drastically mutated children that were suddenly a new species is quite contrary to anything found in science. One could postulate a miracle, of course, so certainly science could never disprove it, as it can't disprove miracles (if they exist they would be outside of the scope of science).
            I think the moral/theological arguments against original sin are stronger than the scientific issues, but I'll leave that alone for this discussion. It's interesting that we now know that many living humans contain neanderthal DNA, i.e. they aren't pure humans (if such an idea as "pure human" even makes sense). Neanderthal were also capable of primitive language (we think) and we know they built tools, so they similar minds to human sapiens, just not as intelligent. The point is that there isn't a sharp distinction between humans/non-humans, as witnessed by human/neatherdal people that live today. Most evidence suggests that homo sapiens killed off the neanderthals and other humans (non sapien humans), so that we are the only ones left. Natural selection...they were competing for resources.

            https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/neanderthal/

          • Alexandra

            I'm fine with this description. I have no general disagreement with this.

          • Will

            I don't expect an answer to this, but another theological question evolution raises is as follows:

            Humans began around 115,000 B.C., but Judaism got it's start around 1300 B.C. by the most conservative estimates. The flood was around 2900 B.C. and was first recorded in ancient records of Sumeria. Why did God allow false religion to be the only game in town until 1300 B.C...that's 100 millenia...a huge amount of time by human standards? Why is there no record of Adam and Eve in anyone's history (though Enuma Elish says God made man out of a rib which was a joke because the Sumerian word for rib was also the word for life)? Why does no one before Paul talk about original sin, and the concept is still rejected by Judaism to this day? Why is there no mention of original sin in the text of Genesis, and specific punishments of only increased pain for women, and a curse on the ground to make it harder to farm...man himself wasn't even cursed? Evolution is just one of a host of problems with original sin, not the least of which is the morality of punishing children for the mistakes of parents. When is it ever right to punish someone for something they had no control over?

            FWIW More and more Christians are rejecting the idea, here is blogpost from one (obviously protestant, but still)

            https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/276-original-sin-and-a-misapplied-passage

            Edited to fix link

          • Alexandra

            Evolution cannot directly inform us about original sin, original sin cannot directly inform us about evolution. Very independent concepts.

            Since Catholicism is not a "Bible only" religion the comments about original sin mentioned by Paul, and not mentioned in Genesis is inconsequential.

            If you want to know why Judaism doesn't have a concept of Original Sin, you probably should ask a Jew. For Catholics, doctrine develops. (See Cardinal Newman's An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine ).

            Very few ancient manuscripts survive. We can't know the totality of what the ancients did or didn't write or have knowledge of. Our information is limited.

            I'm not following what the "false religion" questions have to do with original sin, or my comment about human origins.

            That some Protestants are shifting their beliefs, shows aspects of instability in Protestantism. I don't view that as a good thing. Catholicism is secure in it's beliefs.

            OK, hope I covered most of it. :)

          • Will

            Fair enough. You and I approach this from such a radically different perspective there probably isn't much to be said. Thanks for the response :)

          • LHRMSCBrown

            "Evolution cannot directly inform us about original sin, original sin cannot directly inform us about evolution..." Well stated. I never have figured out why Non-Theists seem to suppose that covalent bonds or other material vectors are where the Christian's metaphysic points to in order to account for immaterial vectors (such as sin). It's like they think the Christian paradigm is fundamentally materialistic or something. It's very bizarre.

          • Alexandra

            Thank you Brown.

            You are right that we can come from vastly different points of view, and that does present a challenge when conversing with each other.

            I guess we are learning the virtue of patience from one another.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            True. It takes multiple steps just to get to agreement on this: "Okay, so what I *heard* you say is ABCDEF. Is that correct?" :-)

          • Alexandra

            :D. That's very funny Brown.

          • Valence

            I never have figured out why Non-Theists seem to suppose that covalent bonds or other material vectors are where the Christian's metaphysic points to in order to account for immaterial vectors (such as sin). It's like they think the Christian paradigm is fundamentally materialistic or something. It's very bizarre.

            So you are saying that Adam and Eve did not have a material existence? If they did have a material existence, of course we can use the study of the material existence (science) to determine if it's plausible that they existed. You just tried to do this and failed, now you pretend that science has nothing to with it. Such appears to be intellectually dishonest, yet again. If you had thought, from the beginning, that science had nothing to do with it, you would not have brought up William Lane Craig's conjecture. Is it too much to ask for some intellectual consistency and rigor as opposed to changing to story to make it completely immune to falsification?
            Original Sin also makes this falsifiable prediction:

            Augustine articulated his explanation in reaction to Pelagianism, which insisted that humans have of themselves, without the necessary help of God's grace, the ability to lead a morally good life, and thus denied both the importance of baptism and the teaching that God is the giver of all that is good. Pelagius claimed that the influence of Adam on other humans was merely that of bad example. Augustine held that the effects of Adam's sin are transmitted to his descendants not by example but by the very fact of generation from that ancestor. A wounded nature comes to the soul and body of the new person from his/her parents, who experience libido (or concupiscence). Augustine's view was that human procreation was the way the transmission was being effected. He did not blame, however, the sexual passion itself, but the spiritual concupiscence present in human nature, soul and body, even after baptismal regeneration.[32] Christian parents transmit their wounded nature to children, because they give them birth, not the "re-birth".[33] Augustine used Ciceronian Stoic concept of passions, to interpret St. Paul's doctrine of universal sin and redemption. In that view, also sexual desire itself as well as other bodily passions were consequence of the original sin, in which pure affections were wounded by vice and became disobedient to human reason and will. As long as they carry a threat to the dominion of reason over the soul they constitute moral evil, but since they do not presuppose consent, one cannot call them sins.

            It's quite clear that Augustine was wrong, and Pelagius was right, those who haven't been baptism or, in any way Christian, can live a very moral life, much more so than many Catholics in some cases. Also the idea that sex drive appeared only after the "fall" is completely contrary to the very core of evolutionary theory and everything we actually observe in reality. Add to it that original sin doesn't appear in Genesis, first only in Paul's theorizing, and you get every reason to reject the idea, and no plausible reason to accept it.
            None of this means Jesus did not rise from the dead, of course, or that God doesn't exist. God's existence seems fairly plausible to me, and there is at least some reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Original Sin is quite irrational, in comparison.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            What was my driving theme in the Craig/Stanford combo? Everybody, including Craig himself, knows that evolutionary biologists will not be impressed by the study he referenced. So it (his theme) isn't that. Meanwhile, the Stanford study affirms Craig's theme. My theme was half-Craig and half something else. Since you've got it all figured out, please explain. Failure to read leads one into odd journeys outside of the sun.

            Man isn't co-eternal with God, so the definition of [1] sin and of [2] original are both easy to accommodate and both logically necessary regardless of the trajectories and substances in question. "Original". Well that's not hard, as man isn't co-eternal with God. And "sin", well that's not complex either given the necessary and sufficient metaphysical substrate. At some ontic-seam somewhere both terms obtain. That's just simple logic. Also, we all know that swallowing a mutable and contingent Pill into one's mutable and contingent gastrointestinal tract cannot sum to All-Sufficiency's self out-pouring, to Insufficiency's in-filling. To love's timeless reciprocity.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Hi Alexandra,

            I'd love to understand your position on this a little better. I would readily agree that the doctrine of Original Sin is primarily a statement about the origin of sin (duh), and that sin, having as it does an inherently teleological dimension, is something that the dysteleological study of evolution just doesn't attempt to, or pretend to, study.

            That said, once we move from generic statements about Original Sin to the specific teaching in Humani Generis it certainly seems that there is, shall we say, a strong preference for certain types of phylogenetic trees. So, when you say that Original Sin and evolution are very independent topics, are you :

            0. Intending to speak in general terms, without addressing the particular challenges of Humani Generis, or are your saying that
            1. [This would seem to me to be a very hard argument to make ... ] The intent of Humani Generis was actually not to rule out certain types of phylogentic trees after all, or that
            2. Insofar as Humani Generis did rule out certain types of phylogentic trees, those particular statements were prudential judgements that can be fenced off from the dogmatic content of the encyclical [still not an easy argument to make, but at least you are no longer on the black diamond trails], or
            3. Something else?

            Thanks,
            Jim

          • Alexandra

            Hi Jim,

            I'm delighted to speak with you, you always make such beautiful comments. :) And you just taught me a new word- "teleological".

            I was speaking in general terms about the specific concepts- the theory of evolution vs. the concept of original sin. (So option 0).

            Bishop Sheen wrote:
            "As man did not come wholly out of nature, for man with his mind has a mysterious x which is not contained in his chemical and biological antecedents, so Christ did not come wholly out of humanity."

            So even if science could explain everything about our material being, it doesn't directly inform that " mystery" of the totality of who we are.
            But you make an excellent point, that the concept of original sin is inextricable from the nature of man; of which his material nature science does speak to. So there is not a complete separation between the two concepts, since each speaks to the truth of man.

            I do think it fair to say that there is a scientific prediction inherent in Humani Generis : "For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents."
            Therefore you would expect a specific phylogenetic outcome.

            It is interesting to me that, although polygenism is mentioned, Eve is not. And from this and from the catechism, it seems the teaching is we all must be descendants of Adam, since it is from him Original Sin propagates. I don't know what this means for Eve, biologicaly speaking. She's not included. The first male human parent does have to be one man which we all descend from.

            Edit: added words

          • Sample1

            The first male human parent does have to be one man which we all descend from.

            Or else what?

            Mike

          • Alexandra

            Sorry for the delay in responding. I was trying to find a specific quote from Pope Benedict for you...and didn't find it. :(

            Or else what?

            That is a very good question....of which I don't know the answer.( I also tend not to speculate on unknowns.)

            However, at least three Popes have spoken on the matter, in one way or another, in response to our current scientific understanding. Since intrinsic science (as opposed to scientific philosophy or theory) is very limited on the subject of human origins, there is so far not much to specifically address.

            (I delayed long to give you a non answer, didn't I? ;) )

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I don't know what this means for Eve, biologicaly speaking. She's not included.

            That's an intriguing observation, one that I haven't heard before, and one which would seem to have some important implications. If we are going to imagine something like a literal Adam and Eve, then Eve presumably did not take her origin through natural generation from Adam (if she did, then we have some other problems to worry about). It would seem to follow that biological descent from Adam is not a sufficient mechanism to underwrite the metaphysical unity of the human race, and in particular it is not sufficient to explain why we are universally enmeshed in relationships that are out of balance. If we have at least one creature, Eve, who was both human and sinful yet without descending from Adam, that might strongly suggest that "propagation" (in the Council of Trent sense) must mean something more general than "biological descent".

            I should say that for my part, I am not all that interested in defending the technical correctness of Humani Generis, but I am more generally interested in how our out-of-balanceness, which seems to be uniquely and universally human, might be reconciled with polygentic origins. The former seems to me to be a pretty secure deliverance of the Catholic faith (apart from any quibbles about the technicalities in Humani Generis), and the latter seems to me to be a pretty secure deliverance of science.

            EDIT: btw, thanks for the kind words!

          • Lazarus

            Hi Jim

            You and Alexandra can maybe both have a look at Michael Chaberek OP's newish book "Catholicism and Evolution" - it really raises a lot of these questions. It certainly is not for everyone, but it's worth the read.

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks Lazarus,
            Here is a paper available online from Fr. Chaberek.
            http://www.epsociety.org/userfiles/art-Chaberek%20(AquinasEvol-Final).pdf

          • Lazarus

            Thank you, Rob

          • David Nickol

            I note the following in the Acknowledgments to Catholicism and Evolution:

            I am also greatly indebted to Professors Jonathan Wells and Michael Behe, who helped me—a non-biologist—accurately discuss the scientific matters treated in this work. Special thanks should also be given to all those who provided me with technical and moral support during the most intensive work on the manuscript, especially the staff of the Discovery Institute and my Dominican community in Seattle.

            I haven't had a chance to view this all the way through yet, but there is a debate between Michael Behe and Stephen Barr titled

            Should Intelligent Design Be Taught as Science? I can tell you, though, that Barr (who has contributed at least one article to Strange Notions) argues that the Intelligent Design hypothesis (while he is open to believing it may be true) is not a scientific hypothesis and therefore should not be taught as science.

          • Lazarus

            Hi David

            I am with Barr on this one. Fr. Chaberek's book is just so interesting, partly because it is so controversial. It brings, at least to me, a freshness to what I regarded as a dead and buried topic.
            If for nothing else, the book is an important one simply because it collects an array of documents, encyclicals, opinions etc from the Church on the various related topics over the years.

          • Peter

            I cannot imagine intelligent design being true. For a start it would undermine my belief in theism. How can a God who creates a universe to produce life be so incompetent as to have to tweak it now and again in order for it to achieve the desired result? Second, if there is life on billions of other planets across the universe, would God have had to tweak all those as well and continue to do so for the lifetime of the universe?

            The only rational answer to both is a universe where life doesn't need tweaking, either to start in the first place or to advance in complexity, but occurs and evolves naturally through the unwinding of latent process built into the universe at its inception.

            Intelligent designers say that DNA which provides instructions cannot replicate without the action of proteins, but that proteins cannot act without the instructions of DNA they contain. Since neither could have come first, they say, both must have been intelligently created at the same time. However, RNA could have been a natural precursor to both, providing instructions like DNA and at the same time acting as a protein, so that it could replicate itself.

            Critics say that even RNA is too complex to have occurred spontaneously because it cannot be achieved in laboratory experiments and therefore must have been intelligently created. But as Dawkins says in Ch.6 of Blind Watchman, life may be very improbable. It may take a billion years to take hold on one in a million planets, so a handful of failed experiments over a several years by a few chemists does not mean that it is not naturally possible.

            The main argument against intelligent design, however, is that it is a god of the gaps argument. Any theist who champions ID will have egg on their face if and when a simpler replicating molecule is discovered as a precursor to RNA, since that will significantly increase the probability of it having occurred spontaneously from prebiotic matter. Any Catholic who proclaims ID risks bringing the Church into ridicule.

            EDIT: Only last year Nasa were able to synthesise two of the four bases of DNA and two of the four bases of RNA by subjecting complex carbon molecules found in meteorites to ultraviolet radiation. And only last month it was discovered that these same complex carbon molecules are themselves built up by ultraviolet radiation within a nebula. If in practice the latter, and in theory the former, can be created in outer space conditions of ultraviolet radiation, this means that all four bases of RNA and DNA could have come to earth already pre-formed. The only gap that would remain, then, is the gap between these and the assembly of RNA itself,

          • Lazarus

            Yes, let's keep all options, all theories and all possibilities open to explain these questions....except the God hypothesis. Can't have that.

          • Peter

            I'm only following the evidence where it leads. If an animal looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a duck. The universe (increasingly) looks like a great big plan and operates like a great big plan, so it's a great big plan.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks for the great recommendation Lazarus.

          • David Nickol

            Evolution cannot directly inform us about original sin, original sin cannot directly inform us about evolution. Very independent concepts.

            Nobody is looking for a scientific explanation of original sin. However, the Catechism says the following:

            390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents. [Emphasis in original]

            The emphasis on a historical aspect, and the mention of "first parents" quite naturally raises the question whether there were, in actuality, "first parents" at "the beginning of the history of man." Catholic discussions of "first parents" often seem to be implying something that is at odds with contemporary science—the descent of the whole human race from two (and only two) human beings. The questions raised cannot be dismissed out of hand. While it is true that the Church claims infallibility on matters of faith and morals, certain faith claims are inseparable from matters of historical fact. If Jesus was not crucified, for example, all of Christianity teaches something false. Here and elsewhere, faith and history are inseparable.

          • Alexandra

            I basically agree with everything you've said.

            There is currently nothing in evolutionary science that is "problematic" for the Church. The two parent model is not at odds with contemporary science.

            There are some evolutionary explanatory models that, if shown to be true, would be problematic for the Church. Or at least harder reconcile. In the same way that if we found out Peter never existed, that would be problematic too.

            But as of right now, the Church and science are in harmony.

          • David Nickol

            But as of right now, the Church and science are in harmony.

            That is going way too far. What I would say is that there is no direct conflict between science and Catholicism on the issue of human origin because the Church has made no definitive pronouncements that the entire human race descended from two and only two people. However, that is what the Church seems to be saying in referring to "first parents," especially in the matter of original sin. Pope Pius XII made no definitive statement in Humani Generis, but he came very close:

            37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[12]

            The human species could not have originated with two and only two individuals whose offspring mated only with each other. The story of Noah makes things worse (if taken literally) since it means that the human race started with two and only two persons, and sometime later, restarted from seven and only seven.

          • Alexandra

            That is going  way  too far. 

            Ouch....Words hurt you know... ;) - yes, thank you for pointing out "harmony" was a poor word choice. I meant " not in conflict", I wasn't trying to imply agreement.

            I agree with your church comments. You might find this interesting, being that Humani Generis is an encyclical.

            https://www.franciscanmedia.org/ask-a-franciscan-is-every-encyclical-infallible/

            I'm perfectly fine with whatever workings models science proposes. It just needs to be specific and clear what science has and has not proven so far, - about evolution, about human origins. I know no scientist who would have it any other way.

          • Michael Murray

            What do you mean by "proven" ? If interpreted rigidly then science has never proven anything and makes no claim to do so. Or do you mean "overwhelming evidence in support of a model" or something like that ?

          • Valence

            I'm waiting to see someone "prove" original sin. It's not even in the book of Genesis for Christ's sake...

          • Alexandra

            What do you mean by "proven" ? If interpreted rigidly then science has never proven anything and makes no claim to do so. Or do you mean "overwhelming evidence in support of a model" or something like that ?

            I do mean evidence in support of the model.

            a) The "stronger" a particular line of evidence the better (e.g. direct observation is stronger than estimation, or an estimation with a low standard deviation is stronger than an estimation with a high one), b) the more lines of evidence (whether weak or strong) the better, c) the less contradictory evidence the better, etc.

            So there's a minimum threshold of evidentiary support, where we gain confidence in the model as a good scientific description.

            (An estimation with a high standard deviation, alone, doesn't meet the threshold.)

          • Valence

            That some Protestants are shifting their beliefs, shows aspects of instability in Protestantism. I don't view that as a good thing. Catholicism is secure in it's beliefs.

            I'd just say that the fact that science shifts it's beliefs in light of new evidence demonstrates it is progressing to greater truth and a more accurate understanding of the world. It's baffling as to how Catholics can be so confident in something like original sin, when the fact is that it was a theory that started with Paul and got better developed with Augustine. Does the Catholic Church assume that every time Paul wrote letters he was speaking for God? How can it be confident in this assumption?

            Augustine articulated his explanation in reaction to Pelagianism, which insisted that humans have of themselves, without the necessary help of God's grace, the ability to lead a morally good life, and thus denied both the importance of baptism and the teaching that God is the giver of all that is good. Pelagius claimed that the influence of Adam on other humans was merely that of bad example.

            Look at the world around you. Clearly many non-Christians live quite moral lives, some much better than Catholics (think pedophilic priests which is quite awful). Obviously Augustine's prediction, derived from original sin, is in error. I can post statistics that show countries like Japan where there is a 2% population of Christians, have much lower crime rates than many Catholic countries, for example. In science, if a theory gets significant predictions wrong, we can consider the theory to have been falsified, so we develop new theories. So far, any approach to evolution that has all humans coming from 2 parents is false from a scientific viewpoint, but you'd be correct if you retorted that such a view might change one day, though I doubt it.

          • David Nickol

            I'm afraid I'm going to disagree. It has not been scientifically proven it "must" be 10,000.

            The number 10,000 is not all that important. I think, however that there is a clear scientific consensus that the genetic diversity of the human race is such that it is impossible that all people living today are the direct descendants of two and only two "parents." I don't think it is even worth arguing about here unless you can point to serious scientific work that argues otherwise. Invented scenarios about "metaphysical humans" (or "theological humans") interbreeding with "biological humans" are neither science nor (in my opinion) religion. Yes, of course, if you believe in an omnipotent God, you can invent any story you want to reconcile a true Adam and Eve with today's genetic evidence about human diversity. You can go the "theological humans mated with animal humans" route, or you can go with my proposal (which I have just decided to name genetic inflation) that the human race really did begin with one man and one woman, and God miraculously added new genes to the first few generations of offspring to yield the genetic diversity we see today.

          • Alexandra

            I think, however that there is a clear scientific consensus that the genetic diversity of the human race is such that it is impossible that all people living today are the direct descendants of two and only two "parents."

            By "genetic evidence", if you are referring to the effective population size (Ne) studies (only), then what you are saying is simply not the case. (Effective population numbers are neither scientific evidence nor consensus. They are an estimate - one "notoriously difficult to estimate". http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16048783. )
            Or are you referring to something else?

            We currently have no scientific proof how any species actually transitioned from one to another in the past, population-wise, - much less humans. Thus, the two parent model cannot be ruled out.
            Aliens did it can't be ruled out either ;), but you know what I mean. The two parent model still fits within the evidence we do have.

            If someone wants to argue that a population model over a two parents model is more likely, that's fine, there's arguments to be made on both sides. My quibble is with saying the two parent model is disproven, or impossible, or contradicted by evolution or genetic data. That is simply not the case. We simply don't know.

            I don't think it is even worth arguing about here unless you can point to serious scientific work that argues otherwise.

            From my initial point, the science on this is extremely limited one way or the other.
            However I don't find anything that " hurts" the two parent model, the mitochondrial eve or Out of Africa theories , for example.

          • David Nickol

            We currently have no scientific proof how any species actually transitioned from one to another in the past, population-wise, - much less humans. Thus, the two parent model cannot be ruled out.

            In essence, it seems to me that you are saying the theory of evolution is unproven. Is this correct? You are calling into doubt the central point of The Origin of Species. If you are simply going to dismiss modern science as unproven, then of course there can be no conflict between science and religion!

            One indirect way to think about the Adam and Eve issue is to imagine that the United States (or some other country or group) decides to colonize a planet so distant that there can never be commerce or communication between earth and that planet again. Would it be sufficient to send a new "Adam" and "Eve" to be the "first parents" of a new human colony in which everyone would be the offspring of only two people? (This would, of course, require incestuous relations in the first generation born on the planet.) I have seen estimates no lower than 70 as the minimum number to avoid genetic catastrophe. Nobody proposes two individuals would be sufficient to populate a planet or (in case of an unimaginable catastrophe) to repopulate the earth. This is why we have laws (both written and unwritten) against marrying or having sex with close relatives.

          • Alexandra

            In essence, it seems to me that you are saying the theory of evolution is unproven. Is this correct?

            That is incorrect.

            Note I was speaking about the process POPULATION-WISE.
            How admixture occurs between different species is an open question.

            The minimum viable population is very interesting. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

          • David Nickol

            Let me add that I think one of the obstacles to a "scientific" argument about Adam and Eve is that I have never seen anyone on the religious side allow him- or herself to be pinned down on a time frame. One of the suggested themes in the story of Cain and Abel is the antagonism between agriculture (Cain) and animal herding (Abel). This situates the story far, far too late in human history to be possible.

          • Alexandra

            Cute.
            And let's not forget "Adam" and "Eve" are very modern sounding names. ;)

          • Valence

            Adapa is definitely more esoteric :)

            Adapa was a mortal man from a godly lineage, a son of Ea (Enki in Sumerian), the god of wisdom and of the ancient city of Eridu, who brought the arts of civilization to that city (from Dilmun, according to some versions). He broke the wings of Ninlil the South Wind, who had overturned his fishing boat, and was called to account before Anu. Ea, his patron god, warned him to apologize humbly for his actions, but not to partake of food or drink while he was in heaven, as it would be the food of death. Anu, impressed by Adapa's sincerity, offered instead the food of immortality, but Adapa heeded Ea's advice, refused, and thus missed the chance for immortality that would have been his.

            Vague parallels can be drawn to the story of Genesis, where Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, after they ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus gaining death.[2] Parallels are also apparent (to an even greater degree) with the story of Persephone visiting Hades, who was warned to take nothing from that kingdom. Stephanie Dalley writes “From Erra and Ishum we know that all the sages were banished ... because they angered the gods, and went back to the Apsu, where Ea lived, and ... the story ... ended with Adapa's banishment” p. 182.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapa

            So the mistake of Adapa was not eating the fruit, as he listened to the voices that said it would kill him. Adam ate the fruit, as he listened to the voice that said it wouldn't kill him. The writers of the Torah were certainly brilliant, but so were the inventors of Sumerian/Babylonian religion.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The question here is, again, "What does the Catholic Church teach about
            human origins?" It seems very clear to me from both the Catechism and Humani Generis teach that there were two (and only two) "first parents" from whom the entire human race descended. Period.

            I agree with this assessment. I can only imagine that my high school theology teachers would have looked upon the "Adam mating with animals" theory with absolute horror. In Catholic circles evolution was either a questionable theory or resolved by stipulating that at some point God intervened and created two humans with immortal souls.

            Now, my more liberal university professors would have dispensed with the fall altogether or considered it to be symbolic of a group of humans. This teaching would be heretical in my understanding of Catholicism.

          • David Nickol

            It seems to me that the Catholic Church has wisely (or some might say cleverly) come very close to saying there had to be two and only two "first parents" (Adam and Eve), but has stopped short of making it a dogma (or even a doctrine). So Catholics who feel that two "first parents" are ruled out by scientific findings don't have to consider themselves to be rejecting Church teaching as long as they don't propose a definite alternative, such as, "Adam represents not a single individual, but a group." This is the relevant (and frequently quoted) passage from Humani Generis:

            37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

            As has been pointed out by others, the phrase "it is in no way apparent" leaves enough wiggle room to keep this from being a definitive statement. So a faithful Catholic can say, "It looks to me like the scientific evidence weighs heavily against two and only two parents, so I don't believe that, but I can't pretend to know what actually happened. But I believe in the doctrine of Original Sin as taught by the Church."

            I think faithful Catholics can say, "The Church teaches faith and morals, not science, so no one should expect the Church to endorse any particular theory of human origins. The Church is not obligated to solve this apparent conflict."

            Nevertheless, the conflict is a real one, and if one reads almost any Church document touching on the subject, the language is such that it appears the Church is speaking of two and only two individuals as the "first parents." Adam and Eve are depicted as real individuals.

          • David Nickol

            he's saying that if the church teaches 2 first parents it is a fundie church but he knows better than that. the church only teaches that the first 2 were metaphysical humans.

            That whole "metaphysical humans" nonsense is not the teaching of the Catholic Church. I challenge you to show me any authoritative document (Catechism, encyclicals, documents from Church councils, etc.) that even hints at the theory the human race began with two and only two "metaphysical humans" (Adam and Eve) whose biological children mated with "physical humans" who lacked souls. I have stumbled across at least one scholarly journal article which entertains the theory, but speculations in a scholarly journal do not amount to official teachings of the Church.

            I did not say the Catholic Church was a "fundie" church. I said,

            To the extent that the Catholic Church still teaches that the "first parents" of the human race committed some sin that altered all of human history, to that extent the Church still clings to biblical fundamentalism of the most extreme kind.

            I was trying to be careful in my wording to limit the charge of fundamentalism to this particular teaching. I acknowledge that in general Catholicism rejects biblical fundamentalism. But to maintain that Adam and Eve were the "first parents" of the human race is fundamentalism on that particular point.

            As I have pointed out before, if you want to simply "make stuff up," a better theory of human origins, more consistent with Genesis, is that Adam and Eve were indeed the two and only two first humans, and God miraculously enhanced the genetic diversity of their offspring. Surely that is within the power of the Creator of the universe, and it involves no invention of animal humans vs. metaphysical humans.

          • Mike

            oh you mean that original sin entered through an actual person oh sorry i miss interpreted. well yeah it still teaches that. Adam a real person did something which 'spread'. why is this a fundie position?

            "make stuff up" I am not sure what you mean. the point is to try to find the truth where ever it may lie. after all bio evo scientists don't deny that maybe there was that 1 miraculous 'mutation' that started the chain reaction to our brains so to me the 2 theories seem compatible at least have always seemed that way.

            maybe God created the first meta human 'adam' and also in the same group the first meta human 'eve' and they looked at each other and were like whoa you're just like me and they had kids and that's how they came to spread? or maybe after they had their first kid all other children of animal humans had souls infused into them but only after adam and eve?

          • Sample1

            It was never a credible explanation, was it?

            Mike

          • By "that state" I was referring to the state you identified as:

            "it's not that we can't do those things [sin - evil acts] but that we somehow won't we'll
            maybe consider doing bad things and then just laugh at how silly it
            would be to do them. he says something like we'll stub our toe and think
            oh that was good for me. i suppose there won't be natural evils either
            no earthquakes etc. to sum up we'll still be free to choose but just
            won't choose evil."

            Now you are saying that that was the state of affairs before the fall? This doesn't make sense, because Adam did sin.

            I am not outraged by suffering caused by natural events, I only get outraged if there is someone who could easily have prevented them and did not for some inconceivable reason.

            "atheism can't get to an OUGHT."

            You are right. Atheism is not a worldview or a moral system. But it is easy to get to an ought without any gods. If you do not want to suffer, you ought not cause suffering. and so on. Yes it is contingent. Yes valuing non-suffering is subjective. This morality only works for those who value human flourishing. Which seems to be just about all humans.

            I was just pointing out how incredibly low of a bar for "pure good" it is to say that God has not "totally abandoned" humanity.

            "thankfully we can be sure God does exist and loves us imho"

            IMHO this is simply wrong.

          • Mike

            adam did sin yes and yet he was in a state of total grace? if in total grace how could sin be possible for him, why didn't he just say nah i'd rather not know good and evil and tell the serpent of take a hike? i don't know but i am sure aquinas has some thoughts on this and so do many theologians. why didn't God "protect" us from that powerful evil spirit satan? why didn't he "protect" adam? well like i said, if you truly love something you set it free. maybe it had to be that way bc that's how we were created, free and yet to some extent not free as in totally 'connected' to God. maybe the best analogy is kids to their parents i don't know.

            i am sorry i thought you were outraged. maybe we agree on this point then that natural evils are evil but 'understandable' in some sense.

            you say it's easy to get to an ought and yet many atheists say you can not get to an ought from an is, doug shaver and brandon agree on that point except brandon thinks there is more than just 'is'.

            i disagree strongly that atheism is not a worldview as if it isn't it isn't worth bothering about imho.

            i don't know i mean He apparently did send in his only Son to fight for us and he died and suffered for us when he could have sat up on a throne and philosophized. that's your pov but obviously billions of ppl see Jesus mission and sacrifice as the ultimate show of love as i do.

          • "adam did sin yes and yet he was in a state of total grace?"

            I have no idea, the question is, is it possible for God to create persons in a state in which they could sin or commit evil, but never chose to. You have agree that such a state of affairs is not only possible but likely for many humans. Why not just create them in that state? It cannot be because in such a state they would not have free will.

            "well like i said, if you truly love something you set it free."

            But surely angels are free? The saved are free? But never sin. Why create this danger room of the material world?

            I fully agree natural evils make sense, I am a naturalist. The idea being that they are not prevented because no one could prevent them. On theism God could prevent them, this makes no sense that he does not.

            If atheism is a worldview, what are its tenets? Secular humanism is a worldview, but you can believe in no gods and not be a secular humanist. People who lack a belief in any gods can disagree about everything except whether a god exists. They can be materialists, substance dualists, humanists, hedonists, philanthropists, they can believe in supernatural or not. They can value only themselves or value the well-being of others.

            He sent His son to fight for us? What did he fight. Honestly it is nonsense to say he sent his son or that he suffered. How could the ground of all being suffer and die? If Jesus died on the cross, AND he is God, and God is the ground of all being, was the ground of all being dead for two days? None of this makes sense.

            And no he could not "philosophize" he already knows everything he knows all truth. He transcends time and knew already "before" he created anything that Adam would sin. He knew he would wait thousands of years and kill us all in a flood, burn Sodom and Gommorah, tell Saul to kill the Amalkite children, or that the people he was preparing for his human arrival would believe he told them to commit genocide. And he knew that when he arrived he would be rejected and the Jews he prepared for his arrival would more or less not accept his sacrifice or that he was God. That two thousand years later two thirds of humanity would ignore his message and reject his gift.

            And yet the best he could do was take human form, get himself killed, and life would continue pretty much unaltered for most of humanity for centuries.

            None of this story makes sense to me.

            But I ramble and digress!

          • Mike

            i think you're asking what's the diff btw pre fall and heaven if both are in state of grace yet free EXCEPT in one we won't sin whereas in the other we may sin. if you can create the one at the end why not just start with that one?

            the easy answer is that pre fall wasn't heaven. i know you think this sounds like a cop out but i think it's clear that it simply wasn't meant to be heaven. well why not still skip the middle part. i don't know i haven't read the summa and studied theology but to me again the answer seems to be that we weren't created to be angels but something called 'human beings' with all the freedom etc. and as 'human beings' God took the risk like all parents do that we'd reject him.

            i think it does make sense that God does not directly prevent all/many of them but we disagree on that point. probably bc to you God is still some demiurge or some superman.

            about Jesus dying you still seem confused about substantial form vs accidental and you're still assuming that you are your body only. anyway he didn't "die" like you think he did; he's still alive as you and i will be.

            many ppl have heard Jesus story and found it grotesque but i think most of them have been staunch atheist types. i don't know you have a visceral reaction that i've never shared but i've known ppl like you. to me the story is beyond beautiful in fact it's its audacity that i take as further evidence that it's true.

          • No I get it, pre-fall is different than how people will be in heaven (in heaven, human souls are in a "state of grace"?)

            Yes, the question is why not create in a state of grace? I can think of only pro's and no con's to doing this.

            Pro's - there is never any sin, suffering, or evil, though all conscious agents retain their free will and ability to do these things, they never happen. Although there is no real possibility for anything bad happening and everyone knows this, no one cares because we are perfectly fulfilled. This state is perfect and infinite.

            - no one is damned, there is no Hell or it is empty.

            Potential Con's - we do not enter into a state of grace by way of a free choice. No one would care as everyone is in a perfect state of infinite fulfillment

            - our existence has less value or meaning absent actually suffering or sinning, or committing evil. This cannot be the case. This would mean to have perfect meaning and value, our existence requires not just the potential to suffer and be evil, but that this actually happens. God would never create such a state of affairs, if some actual suffering or evil is required for full meaning and value, this must be a necessary fact of the cosmos as God would never choose this if it was not necessary. Which means, if this is the case, God had no choice to create differently, which means God did not design the cosmos. Which means He is not God.

            Fair enough on the dying clarification. I do not understand the God of Catholicism to be a demiurge or superman. Rather the ground of all being that is also 100% a human being.

            In terms of whether the story is grotesque, it is what it is. There is no avoiding that the solution to sin was to have god being tortured to death, in what can only be called a blood sacrifice. I think this imagery is upsetting to anyone who really thinks about it. This story was emulated by many Christians for centuries. I cannot get the image of the saint, I think it was in La Paz at the Cathedral, there were these paintings of her Santa Rosa, displayed in the tour. She would deprive herself of sleep and put on a crown of thorns, and wrap barbed wire around her naked breasts, all in emulation of Jesus' pain why? We have this in hair shirts, self-flaggelation and so on. It seems to me that the idea that hurting yourself for God is only seen as a bad thing by Catholics recently.

            No, it was Lima. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_of_Lima

          • Mike

            i can think not of cons only but certainly "risks" but those are different i think as nothing risked nothing gained. if you truly love it set it free again.

            "God would never create such a state of affairs" i hear you but obviously he did create such a state and maybe he MEANT for us not to be like angels but these quasi animal quasi angel hybrids. i think what you're mistake in conceiving God is is that you think that an all Good God doesn't himself have the freedom to do things that may become subject to 'corruption' but i don't see why that must be. or at least doesn't have ANY will/intention to do that but again i think that's assuming too much. if God who is all Good can create angels with the potential to become Satan are you saying he created Satan? that's like YOS pointed out accusing a general of killing his soldiers bc he ordered them into battle - i can see how the 2 can confuse but they are different. Obama is not guilt of the murder of those marines in syria.

            yes apparently God is not a simple 1 dimensional thing but 3 in 1 which is what you'd expect or i would if God were real ie he'd be weird to us.

            don't worry we hurt our selves lots when we resist sin and go to confession lol. cultural mores shift obviously. personally i don't see any issues with the blood sacrifice theory as he was considered the final perfect sacrifice so no more smearing blood on alters or throwing babies into fire pits but ppl have different views on that.

          • ""God would never create such a state of affairs" i hear you but obviously he did create such a state..."

            Well this is the big question isn't it? The idea with this argument, loosely included in the argument from evil, is that the fact of such a state of affairs is inconsistent with the existence of the God proposed. It is not at all obvious that such a God exists, rather the state of affairs we find ourselves indicates quite the opposite.

            "MEANT for us not to be like angels but these quasi animal quasi angel hybrids"

            No doubt if he exists he did mean this. But this means he meant us to suffer and for evil to exist. It means he created evil, he didn't need to, but he wanted us to suffer, this is a contradiction to a benevolent, much less perfectly benevolent God.

            "you think that an all Good God doesn't himself have the freedom to do
            things that may become subject to 'corruption' but i don't see why that
            must be"

            Because if such corruption is not necessary and justifiable for some other good, the God is letting people suffer unnecessarily which means he is either not all-good or not all-powerful.

            "are you saying he created Satan" obviously, what else, on theism, could have created Satan? (needless to say I do not think Satan or Lucifer ever existed. The idea of this is, with all due respect, laughably ridiculous. Any angel would know directly that God exists and is omnipotent. It would know inherently that any rebellion would be utterly futile. Any angel that would rebel would either do so as part of God's plan or have been created so stupid as to not realize this obvious fact.)

            But what does that mean for a god to be 3 in 1? This is barely coherent. Is god three persons or one person? Can 1+1+1= 1? Also the Bible has zero references to the Trinity. It makes no sense from any reasonable theological perspective. It makes great sense to explain why the character in the Old Testament is nothing like the one in the New, and that while no one ever sees God or talks to him directly, we can still have a relationship with him through his amorphous third "person" or ghost.

            Note cultural and social mores do change, theological ones should not should they? Why did Catholics with all the wisdom of Aquinas, the church fathers and hundreds and hundreds of years to figure it out still consider if saintly to torture yourself to an early death? What we see is the Catholic church change drastically along with secular society, never the other way round. I put it to you that Pope Francis is not asking the church to re-think its approach to gays and the divorced because he finally understood what Aquinas or Augustine were on about. Or that he finally really understood Jesus' message. I put it to you because secular societies have changed their view in this regard, contrary to what the church has been telling us for millenia is moral.

            Consider alternative narratives to the blood sacrifice story. Jesus comes to Earth and does not issue his message in Aramaic in Jerusalem and get killed for it. Rather, he visits all cultures, societies and civilizations around the world at once. He doesn't hide who he is, or play games, getting himself tortured and spending a really bad weekend, only to let us go on killing each other and debating whether he existed or was God, for centuries, and leaving the vast majority of the world ignorant of the Gospel story at all. Rather he just appears at once, to everyone, he tells us that he forgives us if we accept him, directly.

            He could do this to every human once in their lives. He can do anything. Do you really think He, if He exists, would decide the way to fix sin is to sacrifice himself, to himself, to create a loophole to a rule he designed? That really is what the Passion story is saying. And do it once in a language known to virtually no-one. Recorded by four people decades later? Ignored by the very people he had been preparing for this for millennia?

            That story is ridiculous. What does make sense is that in Jerusalem, a charismatic preacher was summarily executed after challenging the Jewish order and blaspheming in the Temple. Some of his followers believe he was divine, that he could not have died so easily. A few start telling stories that the saw him, that he didn't die. His message was too beautiful that we are all equal and valuable in Gods eyes, (echoing what Cicero was saying in Rome a few decades earlier) that divinity is not the vengeful maniac of scripture that asks strikes down the faithful for touching his ark. Not to mention that if we believe we will live forever in perpetual bliss, rather than as shades in Hades.

            Stories among these followers grow of his still being alive. Some begin to call him the son of God. Saul of Tarsus, a faithful Jew ,recognizes this for what it is: blasphemy, he torments and persecutes this growing sect. But he is a zealot with temporal lobe epilepsy, he has a seizure on the way to Damascus. He believes, as many with that condition do that he has been visited by the divine. He interprets this to mean that indeed this God he was persecuting was actually God. he tries to reconcile how God could be killed, he decides the only way was if it was not God that died, but sin. He builds and works with churches. And so on.

            This story makes great sense. We see it happen again and again. People are gullible, they want to believe. They believed Mohamed, they believed Joseph Smith. The Jesus story is very appealing, eternal life, infinite Justice, Love is the answer, not power and authority.

            But I digress! Procrastinate really.

          • Mike

            the inconsistency depends alot on expectations obviously. to me i think i would be on your 'side' if there was no fall and no before the fall. if learning about this religion i was told that there was no satan falling and no paradise before the fall i'd think why create things like this from the beginning, then i think i might agree with you.

            so he created free creatures which could choose to 'disobey pure goodness ie him' but that in no way means he created evil.

            "not necessary and justifiable for some other good" there's the crux of this discussion.

            again he didn't create satan he created an angel which chose pride and "fell"; God created something VERY good which then chose something VERY bad.

            "It would know inherently that any rebellion would be utterly futile" i wonder how much experience you have with people who are VERY proud of themselves.

            "Also the Bible has zero references to the Trinity" i'll leave this alone as the RCC would obviously have a VERY different view ;)

            you think francis is a liberal bc the media want you to think that. i'd watch his lectures on tv while he was archb of buenos aires.

            "That story is ridiculous." depends on what kind of God you have in mind; apparently God is humble patient and wise, not proud, impatient and frantic?

            if you were God you'd have done it differently, got it. or you at least think you could improve on his script or editing, got it. to you it makes much more sense as so much superstition and human longing gone overboard or whatever. and actually i don't think that's all that bad of an assessment. to you the whole thing is a really really silly mistake. but to you i suspect obv bc it helps billions of ppl 'get through' life you tolerate it but still wish to enlighten them to the 'real truth' which is that there is nothing 'out there' no gods no God no 'ultimate reality' no bearded old man who 'cares for us' just us in this vast universe and it's best to get on with it and let go of 'childish' fantasies.

            but alas to me that's too simplistic but i used to think something similar. to me that assessment is too thin too underwhelming. to me it takes the human drama and makes it cartoonish glib waves it away - to be honest it's very new atheist style but i suspect you think it so silly that it isn't worth the effort.

            btw it is a strange story i agree but i would expect nothing less from the ground of all being itself.

          • Ok. But do you see how you are putting the cart before the horse? You are saying that if there was no fall I would be right, but the whole point of this is if I am right, there was no fall!

            '"That story is ridiculous." depends on what kind of God you have in
            mind; apparently God is humble patient and wise, not proud, impatient
            and frantic?"

            The Passion story is ridiculous on a god that is omnibenevolent, ominipotent and has the intelligence of at least a four year old human.

            "if you were God you'd have done it differently, got it.'

            No, if God existed he would not have had himself killed in a blood sacrifice to make a loophole in his own rule that sin means death and damnation. If I were God, I would not have created that rule in the first place.

            "again he didn't create satan he created an angel which chose pride and
            "fell"; God created something VERY good which then chose something VERY
            bad."

            But this VERY good thing was also created to be incredibly stupid if not insane.

            ""Also the Bible has zero references to the Trinity" i'll leave this
            alone as the RCC would obviously have a VERY different view ;)"

            Actually I put it to you that it is because you have no idea how the theology of the Trinity arose.

            "you think francis is a liberal bc the media want you to think that. i'd
            watch his lectures on tv while he was archb of buenos aires."

            I do not think he is a liberal I think he is a radical conservative. My point is that he is looking at becoming more liberal because he is realizing the church is on the wrong side of history on this one, rather than concluding this based on 2000 years of Catholic scholarship.

            "to you it makes much more sense as so much superstition and human longing gone overboard or whatever."

            Basically yes, just like you think explains the rise of every other religion. Not a silly mistake, a mistake.

            "you tolerate it but still wish to enlighten them to the 'real truth'
            which is that there is nothing 'out there' no gods no God no 'ultimate
            reality' no bearded old man who 'cares for us' just us in this vast
            universe and it's best to get on with it and let go of 'childish'
            fantasies."

            No. I think most theists have not thought very deeply about the foundations for their belief in Gods. I think that when they do they apply very different standards than they do to just about every other question in their lives. I think belief in gods is wrong, that if results in some religions that do tremendous good and fulfilment to billions. But it is also divisive and often leads to violent extremism that cause enormous harm. But that ultimately it is mistaken and unnecessary to obtain the pro-social goals virtually all humans agree with.

            I do not think it is simplistic, but in many respects there are aspects that are obviously absurd. I have been a bit glib with you and I probably shouldn't have. But sometimes the watching intelligent people who I am sure shares most of the fundamental values as I do, to justify patently absurd stories that often are in direct and enormous conflic with our shared values.

            For example, I note that you did not question the fact that the central story of Christianity is patently absurd. There is no getting around the fact that if sin results in dead (of the soul, damnation, in hell or oblivion) that was a rule that God decided to impose but did not have to.

            If he did not design this rule, then it is a brute fact or necessary truth that required no god to exist. Furthermore if he did not design this rule, he could not be said to have found any solution to it.

            There is nothing good about this rule, rather it offends our best moral intuition. That the decedents of a person are held to account for the decisions of their ancestors, is immoral. And yet visiting punishment on descendants is required by the ten commandments.

            Secondly, why is the only consequence for really any

          • Mike

            i say that the narrative would make less sense if it started w/o any fall just God creating sinners as some new atheist types like to insinuate. but God first created us in paradise, to me that is a crucial difference.

            "But this VERY good thing was also created to be incredibly stupid if not insane." ok but that's the RISK of freedom to me anyway; have kids but don't complain too much if they grow up to reject you.

            "francis becoming more liberal" i don't see that but again i think you do bc of the media which wants you to see him as 'becoming more liberal'.

            i don't think all religions arose just bc of a mistake btw although i do think they are in error they express profound human truths in inchoate ways that seem to me best expressed by the RCC.

            "patently absurd stories" i smile when i read this bc it so neatly encapsulates the dominant mental space of liberal elites in our society! you folks honestly believe that we're all deluded i mean you really honest to goodness do ;) just puts a smile on my face bc it's so ironic to me. btw i think you folks mean it not out of spite but in a sincere concern for poor deluded souls.

            yes i agree God didn't have to create humanity at all. but he decided to risk it all and paint a majestic beautiful picture of sorts.

            if you view the human species as an extended family the sin of adam makes more sense. we are literally all related one giant gaggle of cousins. we are a big family. btw the sin resulted only in God withdrawing that which was not due to us naturally or by our nature not anything that was due to us; iow he only withdrew that which was not properly ours to begin with.

            that last part got cut off.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            "It is no longer really possible for me to get smallpox, but that has no effect on my identity." (B. Adams)

            I agree here.

            Privation (or evil, or suffering, or lack, our current state of affairs) is a lack of Good, and going about “filling up” said hollow with more lack, more want, more hollow, is logically impossible, an outright contradiction. And, besides, "necessary privation" is both contrary to scripture and to the requisites of love and necessity with respect to Man/God. That said, we are, now, in privation, so, which semantics to use?

            Though God did not cause evil (our privation streaming out of Eden) He can and does use, place His Hand upon, "All Things" and use them for, well for what? Well, "The Good" of course. And there it is. On the ultimately purposeless (gratuitous), whether one takes the route of “The Greater Good” (Cannot do otherwise in Eden, Calvinism, perhaps others…. Perhaps…) or whether one takes the route of free will and consequential freedom-bearing worlds (Can do otherwise in Eden, perhaps Arminianism, perhaps others... Perhaps…), we find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by "The Good", and – therefore – wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but anything, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

            It is *not* the route which makes that an irreducible "ontic-fact", but God. In other words, it is not the Greater Good route nor the free will and freedom-bearing consequential world route which makes the difference. The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed is the irreducibility of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

            Now, the irreducibility (non-illusory, ever present, that which precedes all) of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God* is exactly what Non-Theism has rejected. Hence it has embraced, for some unstated reason, that all things are ultimately, cosmically, gratuitous.

            Given Non-Theism: We find that [All Things] end in the gratuitous for all "purpose" is non-ontic, illusory.

            Whereas, if the Christian God: We find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by "The Good", and, therefore, wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but anything, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

            The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed isn't Man's path into this world, rather, it is the irreducibility of love vis-à-vis Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            The following is meant to provide context to my reply to Brian:

            "If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence." Granting gratuitous evil, in a manner of speaking:

            It’s either “The Greater Good” route into this world or it’s the freedom-bearing consequential world route into this world. Two PDF’s which are available are “THE NECESSITY OF GRATUITOUS EVIL” by William Hasker and also “The Existence and Irrelevance of Gratuitous Evil”, by Kirk R. MacGregor [ http://www.kirkmacgregor.org/uploads/pc_14-1_macgregor.pdf ].

            A brief excerpt: “The absurdity of the Greater-Good Defense is multiplied by its transformation of the universe into a philosophically overdetermined system….. Gratuitous evils are simply a logically unavoidable necessity of contingent living in a freedom-permitting world…… While God can [and does] surely use [even all] of those individual acts of evil for our good, it does not follow that every act of evil that God allows, He allows for the purpose of accomplishing some greater good….. He allows acts of evil, even gratuitous acts of evil, because He values and honors the freedom of our will.”

            Now, what he is referring to there with "gratuitous" is that which is not caused by God (rejecting Occasionalism), and has no bearing on the fact that God does still use All Things and therein, by the ground of Being, of Good, of Love, as in God, we find no such possibility of the gratuitous in the wider sense (as discussed in my initial reply to Brian).

            Before the quote looking at consequential freedom bearing worlds, one more point:

            First, moves which equate the ontological condition of Man in Eden, Privation, and Heaven, are simply fallacious (at worst) or uninformed (at best). My last reply and this comment are conditioned primarily by privation and the semantics "therein" and simply are not meant to (meaningfully) address Man in Eden nor Man in Heaven. So then:

            Scripture affirms possible but not necessary evil given God's decree of the Imago Dei with respect to “Man’s” volitional authority to choose not only possible *worlds* with respect to Eden (apparently) but also (obviously) actions. Regarding those actions: clearly Man is contingent and therefore his choices are not infinite, but constrained (limited), however real freedom amid a few million real possibilities will do just fine. Minus God we find that the proverbial box called [All Things], whether good or evil or any amalgamation thereof, which stream out of those acts/choices (on Eden’s implications we can even say worlds apparently) *are* fundamentally and ontologically gratuitous "at bottom" in the relevant sense (ultimately or cosmically illusory meaning-makers). Indeed, but for God and His Hand, “purpose” finds no grounding, and hence “Minus God” leaves all lines gratuitous. However: But God. Full stop. Therefore, whether one takes the route of “The Greater Good” or whether one takes the route of free will and consequential freedom-bearing worlds, we find [All Things] taken and used by *God*, by "The Good", and, therefore, wherever we may find not only evil, not only good, but anything, we cannot find the ultimately gratuitous.

            It is not the route which makes that an irreducible "ontic-fact", but God. In other words, it is not the Greater Good route nor the free will and freedom-bearing consequential world route which makes the difference. The difference-maker with respect to gratuitous/purposed is the irreducibility of Being with respect to The Good, namely, *God*.

            Then there is this: "If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence." That's from the following:

            Quote:

            The second theodicy is the free-will theodicy. According to the free-will theodicy, God is justified in permitting evil and its consequences because “he has to do so if he is to bestow on some of his creatures the incommensurable privilege of being responsible agents who have, in many areas, the capacity to choose as they will, without God, or anyone else (other than themselves), determining which alternative they choose.”

            When Adam partakes of the fruit in Genesis 3, the most severe charge brought against God is not that he caused Adam to sin, but that in making Adam significantly free God brought about the possibility that Adam might misappropriate his freedom and choose a course of action that is morally wrong. God is not responsible for Adam’s choices given that Adam was endowed in creation with self-determining free will.

            The ground for denying God’s causing evil is that human freedom is conceptually incompatible with divine determinism (not divine sovereignty).

            Otherwise stated, determined choices are not free. Solidifying a free-will theodicy usually requires assent to the idea that being significantly free is intrinsically valuable rather than fleshing out the value of freedom from how people exercise it, that is, from freedom’s instrumental value. If it is intrinsically better to be significantly free than not, then questions concerning divine decisions in creation are asked and answered; objections from the abuse of freedom are derived from a category confusion regarding freedom’s intrinsic value with the ends that come as a result of misappropriating it. Even so, we value human freedom instrumentally in that it enables us to choose a path for our lives, allows for unique contributions to the human story, and is the source and origin of relationship development. The dissonance about freedom is that we love its benefits and hate its deficits, at least as far as instrumental value is concerned.

            If we center the discussion on the consequences of freedom rather than what freedom is, it is far from clear that God has not faltered in his providence. After all, God could allow immoral actions and then remove the harmful consequences of those actions. Freedom is preserved, and intense suffering is avoided. While such a view agrees that freedom is valuable, it denies that allowing actions to have harmful consequences justifies permitting the free act. For example, if I freely burn down my neighbors’ house while they are on vacation, God can miraculously rebuild the house so that my neighbors never knew or dealt with the ramifications of their house being burned down. Freedom is preserved, and consequences are avoided. Consider the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl. There is nothing logically problematic with asserting that God permits the rapist to commit the rape and to succeed in her subsequent murder, during which God disables the girl from ever being conscious of her rape and strangulation— and revives her upon her death without her ever knowing anything happened to her. Freedom is preserved, and consequences are avoided. Since the visceral reaction against the free-will theodicy centers on the negative consequences of freedom’s application, let us call this new construal of God’s activity a “nonconsequence world.

            Several problems attend a nonconsequence world. First, the objection does not address the free-will theodicy at all but questions the lack of divine intervention. Notice that each suggestion indicates something God can do to mitigate the effects of free decisions, which says nothing at all about the nature of human freedom or the agent performing the act in question. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we allow the question about divine intervention to remain, and we suggest that God override the consequences of our actions while still permitting our freedom to exist full force. The scenario envisioned here makes our world much like the famous pleasure machine scenario — where all of our experiences are either directly pleasurable or transformed into a pleasurable experience. In such a world we would not have any recourse from committing horrendous evils because we would not know the seriousness of the ensuing harm from acting in such a way.

            Admittedly the moral status of actions is not governed solely by the ends of our actions; however, we certainly deliberate about the consequences of our actions upon the well-being of others and ourselves. In other words, the suggestion that God stamp out bad consequences, albeit a freedom preserving proposal, undermines our ability to make significant moral choices. Proponents of a nonconsequence world should expect God to make acts such as rape a pleasure for the victim either directly through the sex act or indirectly through psychological manipulation. In doing so, another critique is leveraged; the proposal effectually strips the moral accountability between the perpetrator and his victim [*relational* contours are expunged of *love*] as well as what the definition of rape entails. To use a less chafing example, suppose I steal my neighbor’s birdfeeder after a squirrel breaks my own. Before choosing to steal the birdfeeder I recognize that my action is morally wrong — I am not confused about the moral status of the action. Sometime after I steal the birdfeeder, my conscience gets the better of me; I return the birdfeeder to my neighbor (with a bag of birdseed as a gesture). The only discernible response I should receive from my neighbor upon my returning the birdfeeder is one of utter perplexity; for if God replaces the stolen birdfeeder to prevent the material and emotional harm caused by the action, then my ability to set things right will be completely undermined. My neighbor will have no concept of ever having been wronged or perceive any need for apology or remuneration.

            What is more, it is hard to see how I could ever actually discern that my action was worthy of reproach to begin with, for if God “undoes” the negative consequences of evil choices, then presumably the wrongdoer will benefit from this undoing as well. The line of thought is as follows: one of the harmful consequences of my choices is the effects these choices have on me. Not only is it true that malformed decisions adversely affect my character; the ability to concede one evil action makes it more probable that I will make another concession in my future deliberations and choices. In an effort to stall this decline of character, God must undo the harmful effects of my own choices on me. Such an action would be a literal divine recreation of my character such that any of my future wrong decisions would have nothing to do with my previous deliberations and choices. For this suggestion to pass muster, God would have to be the ultimate revisionist historian. These reasons, and more, provide compelling grounds to question the claim that God can undo the harmful nature of free decisions while guarding the integrity of freedom itself.

            End quote. Evans, Jeremy A. (2013-03-01). The Problem of Evil: The Challenge to Essential Christian Beliefs (B&h Studies in Christian Apologetics).

          • adam

            anyway they were supposed to point out that suffering is a normal healthy part of being human.""

            yep, cancer in babies, normal 'healthy' part of being human...

            Belief in a cruel god, makes a cruel man....TPaine

          • Mike

            ok you seem like you have an axe to grind. bye for now.

          • adam

            "ok you seem like you have an axe to grind. "

            Right now it is YOU dodging my questions based on your claims.

            But if you can't back up your claims, I understand.

          • Mike

            glad you understand. take care.

          • adam

            Sorry, but I do think claiming cancer in babies is a normal 'healthy' part of being human.

            That seems unnecessarily cruel under a loving God.

            But if it is your claim, that this is God's work and it is good, then you should be able to justify it.

          • Mike

            ok take care.

          • Greg G.

            Brave Sir Robin.

          • adam

            Will nobody take up the noble battle that cancer in babies is a 'healthy' thing?

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Mike did the right thing. Inside of privation pain from fire is helpful for life, and that you equate that line to babies with cancer tells us what we need to know. There's no point in discussing topics with critics who [1] attribute Non-Christian premises to the Christian and [2] argue against Non-Christian premises and act as if they're making headway against Christian premises. Necessary evil? Creating evil? Please. The Non-Christian’s failure to account for the Christian claim of evil as privation (lack, suffering, want, hollow, void, “the good minus something”), Magian facts, Isaiah’s 150 year-old predictions in his letter to Cyrus, Cyrus’ god, world history, and exegetical science isn’t the Christian’s problem. Even worse, you seem to assume that God cannot use real-facts which He Himself does not cause (we reject "Occasionalism"), that such real-facts cannot be ultimately / cosmically used for "the good" even though such real-facts were not necessarily actualized (that is, they were possible but not necessary) nor caused by God. All of this is just one more layer of your own invented brands of (Non)-Christian "premises". Mike's move is the right move, and is my move: demand some coherence and some actual understanding of what one is arguing against or else don't engage. It's tedious but it serves to demonstrate that you don't understand the Christian's metaphysical landscape and hence are arguing against some other “invention-of-your-own”.

          • adam

            "[1] attribute Non-Christian premises to the Christian "

            You mean to YOUR brand of 'christian'
            You do understand that due to the nature of Reveal ReligionTM, virtually every christian has as different view
            There are over some 50,000 or more various sects and denominations

            And you claim to speak for them all.

            THAT tells us what we need to know

            "[2] argue against Non-Christian premises and act as if they're making headway against Christian premises."

            And yet, nobody addressed what a baby benefits from having cancer.

            So you are arguing why you wont argue.

            " Even worse, you seem to assume that God cannot use real-facts which He Himself does not cause"

            NO, I dont assume that, but you appear to.
            You SEEM to view God not as omnix3

            What happens that God does not cause?
            I thought the story was that it creates EVERYTHING.

            Your claim is that it does not?

            " It's tedious but it serves to demonstrate that you don't understand the Christian's metaphysical landscape "

            It appears that YOU dont understand the Christian's metaphysical landscape well enough to discuss it and answer a few simple questions.

            All of your dancing around doesnt hide that.

            It appears that it is YOU who are arguing from an 'invention-of-your-own.

            But isnt that how Revealed ReligionTM works in the first place.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Once again: You've asserted that round squares exist, you've argued as if Occasionalism were in play, you've argued as if a claim regarding pain warning one of some danger being (here in privation) helpful to life is equivalent to stating that baby cancer is helpful too, and you don't seem to understand the many associations of necessity, possibility, and proportionate causality. Do you really think you're being..... Scratch that ~~ You're not being taken seriously. Sorry.

          • adam

            "Once again: You've asserted that round squares exist"

            Once again, I demonstrated such.

            "you've argued as if Occasionalism were in play, "

            No, I think gods are imaginary

            "you've argued as if a claim regarding pain warning one of some danger
            being (here in privation) helpful to life is equivalent to stating that
            baby cancer is helpful too,"

            No, the statement was made, numerous times "no pain no gain"

            Hence the question you keep dancing around like spit on a griddle

            What is 'gain' for a baby having cancer?

            "nd you don't seem to understand the many associations of necessity, possibility, and proportionate causality."

            I do understand many, but you've not explained yours.
            Dancing doesnt explain anything.

            "You're not being taken seriously. "

            Then why all the dancing, just address the question, IF it is so simple.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Yes. We know. You showed us a round square. They exist.

          • adam

            Then why all the dancing, just address the question, IF it is so simple.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Since you believe in round squares, the answer to the riddle is over inside of the color of math.

          • adam
        • George

          "They formed the view that all of their problems, from the loss of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, the German financial crisis were engineered by a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world."

          This is a very important point you've hit on, which apologists don't demonstrate an awareness of. A large part of Nazism was a *narrative*. They didn't just make false claims about what the Jews were, they made false claims about what the Jews DID. They beat the drum to a narrative that the german citizen was the victim of oppression by an entire culture. Revenge, justice, and preventative action were all rolled into one motivation for the ghettos, the roundups, the mass shootings, the gas vans, the extermination camps, the invasions.

          Brandon, when you kick off a discussion about the Holocaust, it's a valuable service when folks like Brian provide the important details on that topic. Demonization of groups, and conspiracy theories are something we still deal with today.

          • And it also we may very well have viscous circles of hate feeding confirmation bias feeding hate and so on.

          • adam

            So again demonstrating no objective morality.

      • Doug Shaver

        I think that applies here. I don't think any reasonable person would actually refuse to say, "Hitler's massacre of 6 million innocent people was truly wrong, regardless of individual opinion."

        It was closer to 11 million. Everybody seems to forget about the Holocaust victims who didn't happen to be Jewish.

      • MNb

        "I don't think any reasonable person would actually refuse to say, "Hitler's massacre of 6 million innocent people was truly wrong, regardless of individual opinion."
        Between 1940 and 1945 quite more than a small handful of individuals personally totally disagreed. Plus you present an argumentum ad populum.

        "are factually wrong"
        Is-ought fallacy.

        "I personally think Hitler was wrong, but others might disagree."
        That you think it absurd is not exactly a criterium for the incorrectness of any statement. I think the entire concept of god absurd. Most people think space contraction and quantum entanglement absurd.

        "On what grounds could you disagree?"
        Happiness.
        Something ironically most defenders of the Argument from Morality think very valuable as well.

      • adam

        "Sure, a small handful of individuals may personally disagree, but the
        rest of can say, with assurance, that those personal opinions are simply
        wrong "

        So it is not objective, but subjective as you state.

        " "Hitler's massacre of 6 million innocent people was truly wrong, regardless of individual opinion.""

        Just like the character God in the bibles massacre of millions with The Flood.

  • Valence

    We can infer from the historical success and failure of various cultures that some moral approaches are more effective at allowing a civilization to thrive than others. Obviously, "thriving" is ambiguous word, but I hope most of us would agree that the U.S. thriving much better than Afghanistan. It's sensible to compare moral and social structures to buildings...there are all kinds of ways they can be built, but some are sturdier than others, and some ways just won't work...

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      The US has existed for just over 200 years; Afghanistan for around 1300. It may be too early to determine thrivitude versus a sudden but transient blossoming. Besides, neither the US nor Afghanistan is a "culture." Each is a polity within a larger culture; viz., Western Christendom and the House of Submission.

      • Valence

        Did I say either was a culture? No. I'd agree that a larger time slice would be useful, consumerism may not end well. If we are long term survival, India and Hinduism have been around for 7000 years.

  • Valence

    Here's where things get a little wonky. Strangely, Carroll quotes (approvingly) a moral axiom from the 1989 cult classic, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Be excellent to each other." Carroll writes, "As foundational precepts for moral theorizing go, you could do worse" (402). But not much, I would add. It's not clear who determines what "excellent" means. Is abortion excellent? Is murdering one person to save five more excellent? Is it excellent to leave your spouse if you find a more appealing partner?

    John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Love one another compared to be excellent to each other...I think it's pretty close. Bill and Ted might be able to answer the other questions, but they require additional axioms. No one can say much with a single moral axiom.

    Question, if God sacrificed Jesus (by having him brutally murdered) to save billions of people, isn't there a bit of consequentialism involved? If morality is objective, shouldn't it apply to every being, including God? Otherwise, it's really a subjective morality, grounded in God's whims (quite unlike physics), isn't it?

    • Rob Abney

      "If morality is objective, shouldn't it apply to every being,...?"
      That is correct.
      But we don't consider God within the category of "every being".

      • Valence

        Why not?

        • Rob Abney

          This is from Bp.Barron here at SN:
          To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of "being." But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual—however supreme—among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas's pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.

          • David Nickol

            Nixon once said something like, "If the president does it, it's legal." Are you applying this to God? Can God be unjust because he's allegedly "being itself" and not a mere being?

          • Rob Abney

            No, I'm saying that God cannot be unjust because he is perfect justice.

          • Valence

            As I mentioned to Ye Older Stat, if God is being itself, then everything that exists is part of God. Pantheism, basically. Important Christian thinkers like Alvin Plantinga reject it as incompatible with the personal God of the Christian faith. I actually like the idea that is everything, but you could also just call it Nature

          • "As I mentioned to Ye Older Stat, if God is being itself, then everything that exists is part of God."

            And as Ye Olde Statistician explained, this simply doesn't follow logically--it's a non sequitur.

            God doesn't have parts; he's absolutely simple and indivisible.

          • Valence

            So you are saying something can "be" apart from being? Something can exist apart from existence itself? It's like saying something can be light, apart from light itself. Light doesn't have parts, and light quanta are indivisible (just to strengthen the analogy). Here is a philosophical proof first philosopher to really develop the PSR. I like the PSR, I'm just not so sure that everything has an explanation. It's a good assumption though.

            http://www.faculty.umb.edu/gary_zabel/Courses/Spinoza/Texts/Ethics,%20Part%201.htm

            Theists claim the universe couldn't exist without God, thus it's existence is obviously dependent upon God. What reason is there to believe that existence is apart from God?

          • Raymond

            "God doesn't have parts; he's absolutely simple and indivisible."
            How does the doctrine of the Trinity fit into that statement?
            How does the description of God as "absolutely simple" fit into the notion that God is not understandable to us humans?

          • "How does the doctrine of the Trinity fit into that statement?"

            Great question! It's actually one I've been exploring recently, and it's fascinating. It's too much to get into here, but the best book, which I'm reading now, is God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's Absoluteness.

            (Note that many theists, particularly Protestants, do not embrace divine simplicity, although it was the consensus theological view for at least ten centuries. For example, William Lane Craig is often held to task by Catholic theologians for rejecting divine simplicity.)

            "How does the description of God as "absolutely simple" fit into the notion that God is not understandable to us humans?"

            Two things. First, I don't see why there's necessarily a conflict between those two ideas or anything that needs reconciling. Second, the latter part is simply not the view of classical theists. God is understandable, at least in some ways. He's just not comprehensible.

          • Mike

            i've added the book to my amazon shopping cart.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        So are you saying that morality does not apply to God?

        • Rob Abney

          He is not subject to the moral law, He is the moral law

          • Ignatius Reilly

            He is the moral law

            Just because you can put the words together to from a sentence does not mean the sentence has any meaning.

          • Rob Abney

            That would be true if just originated with me, but it has been explained and expounded upon here at SN often and for centuries by philosophers.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So what? Philosophers have thought all sorts of things that doesn't make any of it true or meaningful.

          • Rob Abney

            More specifically, I have learned it by reading the Summa Theologica but I will not be able to explain it in a combox.
            Why would you not agree that He is the moral law?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Where in the Summa does it say that "God is the moral law"?

          • Rob Abney

            Try the First Part, Question 19

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It doesn't say "God is the moral law."

          • Rob Abney

            What does it say?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Various things about God's will. Where did you get "God is the moral law?"

          • Rob Abney

            Here's where I understand it from:
            Divine simplicity entails that God’s will just is God’s goodness which just is His immutable and necessary existence. That means that what is objectively good and what God wills for us as morally obligatory are really the same thing considered under different descriptions, and that neither could have been other than they are.

          • David Nickol

            Why would you not agree that He is the moral law?

            For starters, is this literal or metaphorical? We might imagine a sheriff in the Old West saying, "I am the law." But he would be saying something like, "The law in this town is whatever I say it is." But I sense you are saying something that is to be interpreted more literally. (Literally is no doubt an inadequate word to get at the meaning here, but it is the best I can come up with.)

          • Rob Abney

            It is literal. He wills both Himself to be, and other things to be; butHimself as the end, and other things as ordained to that end; inasmuch as it befits the divine goodness that other things should be partakers therein. Aquinas.

          • Raymond

            How does God "will Himself to be"? Doesn't something have to "be" before it can have "will"?

          • Rob Abney

            You can find that question answered by Aquinas in his explanation of the uncaused cause or unactualized actualizer.

          • Raymond

            I'm sorry. Aquinas is the master of circular reasoning. He knew what conclusions he wanted to draw and his "logic" got him there. Hence statements like "He wills Himself to be" seem reasonable to some but nonsense to others.

          • Rob Abney

            How do you know that he knew what conclusion he wanted?

          • Raymond

            How do you know his conclusion was valid?

          • Rob Abney

            I can know if his conclusion is valid by reading the argument. You could only know what conclusion he wanted by reading his mind, or is there another way you know?

          • Raymond

            I read the argument too, and he uses assumptions and assertions and treats them as logical conclusions.

          • Rob Abney

            Are you referring to the unactualized actualizer? Please point out some of the assumptions and assertions, I'll be glad to discuss it with you.

          • Valence

            Is the moral law identical to existence itself?

          • Rob Abney

            He wills both Himself to be, and other things to be; but Himself as the end, and other things as ordained to that end; inasmuch as it befits the divine goodness that other things should be partakers therein. Aquinas.

          • Valence

            That doesn't answer the question.

          • Rob Abney

            He wills both Himself to be, and other things to be: existence

            but Himself as the end, and other things as ordained to that end: moral law

            correct me if I'm understanding that wrong but it seems like the answer to your question is yes

          • "Just because you can put the words together to from a sentence does not mean the sentence has any meaning."

            And just because you fail to understand a sentence it doesn't make it meaningless.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That's not very helpful, Brandon.

          • George

            Can the moral law torture me and be good by doing it, in your opinion?

          • Rob Abney

            Not in any way that I can imagine. Do you have something in mind?

    • Not to mention creating the serpent in Eden, drowning all of humanity except one drunk and his family, confounding our language, telling Abraham to kill his son, torturing Job. Killing all the Egyptian first born, the population of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ordering the slaughter of the Amalakites and on, and on. These acts were not done because they are inherently good, surely they can only be justified in furtherance of some greater good.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      1. God is not a being. God is being;that is, "Existence Itself."
      2. "Love" means to desire the good for another person precisely as other. As such, it is an act of intellect rather than of will.
      3. The "good" is whatever perfects and completes the nature of a being, as can be easily seen in expressions like "He's a good archer" or "She's a good doctor." ("Bad" is simply the absence or deficiency or imperfection in a good.)
      4. By dint of the equivalence of the transcendentals (being, beauty, truth, the good), God is deduced to be not only Being itself, but also the Good itself. As such, morality neither applies to God nor is "commanded" by God, but simply is God. In somewhat the same manner, the laws of physics are grounded in God's truth and beauty.
      5. "Whim" does not apply unless you subscribe to the occasionalism of Hume or al-Ghazali.
      6. God did not have Jesus murdered. The Romans did, at the threats of civic disorder by the local ruling class.
      7. We ought not confuse morality with a legal code. Although ideally, the latter ought to depend on the former, something may be legal without being moral and moral without being a legal obligation. Given how prone folks are to correctly judging the Good, this is almost inevitable.

      • Valence

        If I exist, then am I not part of existence itself, or part of God. This idea seems to lead to pantheism, or at least God is everything that exists.
        I'm guessing you don't think God commanded anyone to do anything in the Bible, is that heretical? I've read it, and God does quite a bit of commanding, starting with "don't eat the fruit". Eating fruit could only be objectively wrong if God says so, right?
        Mark 14
        35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[f] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

        Jesus says specifically that he doesn't want to die, but God wills it. Do you think that part of the gospel is mistaken? Much of Christian says that Jesus's death was an important part of God's plan...isn't thinking otherwise also heresy? (On mobile, apologize for formatting)

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          If I exist, then am I not part of existence itself, or part of God

          If your parents gave you a bicycle for your birthday, would that make you a bicycle?

          I'm guessing you don't think God commanded anyone to do anything in the Bible, is that heretical?

          cf. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm

          • Valence

            If your parents gave you a bicycle for your birthday, would that make you a bicycle?

            To I have the property of bicycleness? If they take the bicycle back, do I stop existing? Could God take existence back...how can that existence property be separate from existence itself? I have the property of existence, right (assuming existence is a property). I posted this proof that nothing can exist apart from God to Brandon. You are saying I can exist apart from existence itself. If that's possible, I could exist without God, right?

            http://www.faculty.umb.edu/gary_zabel/Courses/Spinoza/Texts/Ethics,%20Part%201.htm

      • Raymond

        What about the statement "God is in control"? Jesus himself stated that his crucifixion and death were God's will.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          There's no need to interpret that in the socialist sense of 'control.'

          • Raymond

            There isn't? That is not a universal opinion. And what about the second statement? Isn't Jesus contradicting the statement that God didn't kill Jesus?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Since when does an opinion have to be universal? Not all physicists agree on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, either.

            Do you suppose that when a commanding officer sends a man on a dangerous mission among a hostile population and he is captured and killed that the commanding officer "murdered" or "killed" the soldier?

          • Raymond

            So....God is the commanding officer and Jesus is the soldier?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            They should never have dropped the analogy portion from the SATs and IQ tests.

            A:B::C:D does not mean that A≡C or B≡D.

          • Raymond

            I'm sorry, but your diagram is not relevant to this discussion. The analogy is Giver of Orders and Taker of Orders. Sergeant is to Private as God is to Jesus. At least in your analogy.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Most people on this forum probably took their SATs before analogies were dropped, but don't let that get in the way of your amateurish snark

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The reason they were dropped is that too many people were getting the questions wrong.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            They were removed because they were biased towards certain socioeconomic groups.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Which ones? I signed a confidentiality agreement, but I can probably tell you if you are wrong.

            And are you claiming that "certain socioeconomic groups" are unable (or less able) to reason analogically?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It had to do with the content of the analogies being more familiar to certain socioeconomic groups. For instance, a question about boating would be easier for upperclass kid living on the coast than an inner city kid, due to the familiarity the upperclass kid has with the subject.

            I don't have a list of questions. I remember reading from multiple sources that that was the reason they removed analogies. I've also read that they removed it because men as a group outperformed women as a group on those types of questions.

            Personally, I don't remember thinking the analogies were difficult. It was vocabulary and basic thinking, but I went to prep schools....

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            It had to do with the content of the analogies being more familiar to certain socioeconomic groups.

            Nope. No socioeconomic group was involved.

            For instance, a question about boating would be easier for upperclass kid living on the coast than an inner city kid

            Who of course would have no notion from the common culture around him what a "boat" is.

            The criterion for removing questions is differential scoring, tested for statistical significance. The actual content of the question is irrelevant. This is done btw on each exam. (ETS does not want questions that anyone can answer correctly, nor questions that only a few can answer correctly.)

            AFAIK, I may not tell you if you guess right.

            Personally, I don't remember thinking the analogies were difficult. It was vocabulary and basic thinking, but I went to prep schools

            So you were one of those bicoastal upper class kids? Heck, I went to working class schools and still dealt with them handily, because we were taught analogical reasoning and drilled in extensive vocabularies. You don't have to be a preppie to know what a regatta is. I sure didn't.

            http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/16/vocabulary-is-to-obsolete-as-the-sats-should-bring-back-analogies/

          • Mike

            look up the soft bigotry of low expectations.

          • David Nickol

            Clearly—or at least as I understand it—according to Catholicism, God the Father required that Jesus suffer the horrible death of crucifixion. Jesus prayed that he might be spared, but nevertheless willingly accepted a horrific death because it was the Father's will. Of course, that is not the end of the story for Jesus. He was raised from the dead. But he was in essence a human sacrifice, like Isaac was to be sacrificed by Abraham, only Isaac got a reprieve.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            God did not require that. The Romans did. They could have accepted the commandment to love their neighbors and break the cycle of violence.

            The thing is, sending someone, even yourself, into a probably fatal mission is not the same thing as willing that person's death.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Didn't Jesus die in order to forgive sins? Are you saying that sins could have been forgiven without his death, or that his death was necessary to forgive sins but God was not required to forgive our sins?

          • Seems absurd to say "gods hands were tied, this was the only way"

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I am saying that sending someone into deadly peril is not the same thing as killing them.

            Also, the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his buddies is in much the same situation regarding lives as Jesus was wrt sin. To say that Jesus died for our sins is to say that our sinfulness was responsible for his death. Sometimes, it takes the death of an innocent to rub our noses into it. And not just once, but over and over:

            "Reasons Why Christ Suffered"
            "Furthermore men of all ranks and conditions were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. Gentiles and Jews were the advisers, the authors, the ministers of his passion: Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, all the rest deserted him. ... In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ the Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the Son of God, as far as in them lies, and make a mockery of him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the ancient Jews, since according to the testimony of the same Apostle: if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him.”
            Catechism of the Council of Trent, XVI cent.

          • David Nickol

            God did not require that. The Romans did. They could have accepted the commandment to love their neighbors and break the cycle of violence.

            Then what would have been the "perfect sacrifice" required to reconcile God and mankind?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I don't think there was ever any question but that the interests of the day were not going to persecute him and kill him. The Romans weren't about to become all fluffy bunnies. But the thing is they did not have to do it. As the Council of Trent said, if they had known who he was, they would never have done it. So you might take that up with the Council Fathers.

          • David Nickol

            601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The thing is, sending someone, even yourself, into a probably fatal mission is not the same thing as willing that person's death even though you know what kind of folks the Romans are. Quoting elsewhere from the Council of Trent: if they had known who he was, they would never have done it.

          • David Nickol

            The thing is, sending someone, even yourself, into a probably fatal mission . . . .

            Jesus wasn't sent on a "probably" fatal mission. He was sent to die as a "sacrificial lamb." It was the mission of Jesus to die. And to die horribly. Based on 12 years of Catholic education and everything I have ever read on the subject, I don't see how that can be denied. Jesus is even depicted in the Gospels as believing himself that his mission was to be killed (and rise again).

  • How would you go about demonstrating that Hitler and the Taliban were objectively wrong?

    I can appeal to a cross-cultural moral near-consensus to say they were very very wrong, but surely you mean something stronger(objective) than that..

    • "I can appeal to a cross-cultural moral near-consensus to say they were very very wrong, but surely you mean something stronger(objective) than that.."

      Indeed I do, since that's not objective at all. It's morality by democracy, which typically devolves into morality by might. Both systems have proven disastrous.

      It's also worth noting that in 1940's Germany, it was the moral near-consensus that exterminating Jews was fine. Again, supposing you lived in that culture and you were a moral relativist, all you could do is shout loudly that you personally disagreed with their genocidal plan. But you could give no serious reason why any Nazi sympathizers should accept that opinion.

      • David Nickol

        It's also worth noting that in 1940's Germany, it was the moral near-consensus that exterminating Jews was fine.

        This is a matter of history, and an in-depth discussion would take us too far off topic, but I strongly disagree with the statement.

        Part of what makes the Holocaust so profoundly disturbing is that so many who participated in it, or who stood by and let it happen, knew perfectly well it was wrong. When we look back in history, we make allowances for those who did something we now consider wrong but was accepted at the time. To claim that "in 1940's Germany, it was the moral near-consensus that exterminating Jews was fine" is to let the perpetrators of the Holocaust off the hook. They knew what they were doing.

      • Doug Shaver

        But you could give no serious reason why any Nazi sympathizers should accept that opinion.

        They would not have found my reasons persuasive. It would not follow that I had none to give them.

      • Seems like you're answering a different question, but I'll point out that what you're describing sounds exactly like the world I find myself in

    • Mike

      objective morality is what ppl who wanted the defn of marriage opened up used to brow beat traditional folks as bigots etc. they said that redefining marriage was about basic justice not about democratic consensus hence it took 5 judges to overturn one of the oldest institutions in the world.

      • In the U.S., one only needed to appeal to constitutional law to make their case. However it's true that appeals to human rights are often invoked in the SSM debate, and I can see why one might think that is equivalent to objective morality. I'm not sure. Human rights are probably just what a group is willing to fight for. I do think appealing to human rights or objective morality does the same amount of good when you're the one on the torture table, 0.

        • Mike

          the proponents to my mind didn't say it's unconstitutional to say 2 men can't marry but that it was a fundamental travesty of justice of their inborne rights as homosexuals to not have the law recognize their relationships as marriages. all i am saying is it's a very powerful tool that we have certain inborne natures/rights as a result of the kind of things we are. for better or worse we all act certainly as if we have inborne natures/rights.

  • David Nickol

    Strangely, Carroll quotes (approvingly) a moral axiom from the 1989 cult classic, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Be excellent to each other." Carroll writes, "As foundational precepts for moral theorizing go, you could do worse" (402). But not much, I would add. It's not clear who determines what "excellent" means.

    So is "Be excellent to each other" really so off base as a moral dictum that you couldn't do much worse? What about "Do whatever you want as long as you can get away with it?" Or "As God is my witness, if I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill, I'll never go hungry again?"

    It is not that far off from the Golden Rule, formulated in various ways by various religious (and nonreligious) leaders, for example:

    Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: "That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah,
    and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

    • ClayJames

      "Do whatever you want as long as you can get away with it?"

      I don´t see how this is worse, if anything, given naturalism, it is the best possible way to maximize your own happiness assuming that getting caught is not part of that happiness.

      Actually, if I became a naturalist, this is the foundational moral precept that I would follow and I have yet to find a good reason why I shouldn´t.

      • David Nickol

        The following is not dispositive, but it's interesting. I was reading yesterday that in the United States, atheists are underrepresented in the prison population. One in 100 Americans self-identify as atheist, but only 1 in 1000 incarcerated men and women self-identifies as atheist. Maybe atheists commit as many crimes as Catholics, but they just don't get caught.

        Actually, if I became a naturalist, this is the foundational moral precept that I would follow and I have yet to find a good reason why I shouldn´t.

        Could you give us three or four examples of the behavior you would engage in if you become convinced naturalism is true? What is it you really want to do that your religious faith is preventing you from doing?

        • ClayJames

          I feel like that prison stat was thoroughly discussed a while back and like you seem to admit, it is completely irrelevant to my point.

          Could you give us three or four examples of the behavior you would engage in if you become convinced naturalism is true?

          Sure. If I were one of the wall street executives that knew that their failure to act leading up to the 2008 crash would negatively affect millions of people but benefit them financially while being sure they wouldn´t get in trouble, I would have acted the same way.

          If i was in a position to steal something I wanted while knowing I would not get caught, I would do it.

          I probably wouldn´t give to charity since I can use that money to buy something instead for myself.

          There are many other things that could easily fit my naturalistic moral framework.

          What is it you really want to do that your religious faith is preventing you from doing?

          None of these things I would want to do. Given theism, this is because these things are objectively evil and we are aware of that. However, given naturalism, this would only be a result of a byproduct of the socio-evolutionary process and naturalist me would see no reason to act on every moral feeling the same way I don´t have to act on every sexual feeling.

          • David Nickol

            I am not exactly clear on what you are saying. Suppose I were to make such a brilliant argument here for naturalism that this very day, you converted to atheism. Would you start stealing and stop giving to charity? Would you stop caring about the suffering of others, and instead inflict suffering on them if you could benefit by it?

          • ClayJames

            Lets say you did just that.

            My new moral precept based for my new naturalistic worldview would probably be something like ¨do what brings me pleasure¨. So does that mean I would steal? Based on my new moral framework it depends. Since getting caught probably would be worse than the benefit of what I am stealing, then I would only do so in situations where I can be fairly sure I would not get caught (like in the examples above). I would definetly fight the urge to care about the suffereing of others the same way I fight most other urges (as long as they would not benefit me) since they are just byproducts of evolution. Would I inflict suffereing on others if I could benfit by it, yes probably taking into account that the chance of getting caught would go into the benefit equation.

            Let me ask you a question now. Why should naturalist me not act this way?

          • David Nickol

            Let me ask you a question now. Why should naturalist me not act this way?

            Because you have feelings?

            I make no claims to sainthood, but when I do something like give to charity, it is because I feel a genuine sadness that people are without food, or without shelter, or without medical care, and I want to help. I don't feel obliged to help others, although I could (and probably would) make arguments that I am. I act out of sympathy and empathy. I do not have some intellectual explanation for why I ought to feel empathy. I just feel it. It pains me to see people suffer. I don't need any complex moral theories to motivate me to help when I can. I feel I am lucky to be in a position to be able to.

          • Rob Abney

            Morris Albert theology
            "Feelings, nothing more than feelings
            Trying to forget my feelings of love"

          • David Nickol

            I said nothing about theology. I made a personal statement about what motivates me to try to help, and not hurt, other people. As an agnostic (perhaps leaning to some kind of theism), I don't think a change to theism (Catholicism, say) or all-out atheism would change my behavior in any significant way.

            I don't think empathy is to be dismissed as "nothing more" than a feeling.

          • ClayJames

            But surely you see the problems with this argument.

            As humans we feel all sorts of things. For example, one of the situation that makes people feel the most fear is public speaking and this is because we have evolved in such a way as to confuse it with an actual dangerous situation. But no one would say that because we feel fear in that situation that we should act according to that feeling. We wouldnt say that a person that feels like fleeing a speech should do it. Most people make it a point to try to not act according to that feeling, to control it and to overcome it.

            But most importantly, we also have feeling of hate, envy and anger. Should we act according to those feelings? It makes no sense to say that a naturalist should not act in a way to maximize their pleasure because they have feelings, when the desire to maximize pleasure also comes from feelings. Surely if we can suppress feelings of envy we can also suppress feelings of empathy. It is true that altruistic feelings have helped us and many other animals during the evolutionary process but this is also the case with feeling of fear or sexual desire and as conscious human beings, we have the capability to suppress certain feelings as we see fit.

            Therefore it makes no sense to say that a naturalist should not act according to what brings them pleasure and against their feeling of empathy simply because they have feelings.

          • David Nickol

            But surely you see the problems with this argument.

            A pretty devastating response, I admit. Well argued!

          • George

            Is the difference under theism that we don't think we'll get away with being selfish?

            Are we ever acting morally, or are we still just driven by perceived consequences?

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          It could also be that the experience of being caught and imprisoned has led some people in penitentiaries to become repentant; some people in reformatories to reform. It could also be that those who claim a religion find additional benefits within the prison experience; e.g., time off for worship and so forth. That is, even if there is the correlation being claimed here, it is not a statement of cause and effect.

          • Daniel

            I once knew a guy that had been in prison. He would joke that he had come recently from bible school and people would ask if he had enjoyed seminary. Apparently many prisoners would read the bible and the Koran once in prison. I think Ye olde Statistician is about right.

        • Mike

          cheat on my wife, lie about my financial position/talk my self up, if i could then embezzle some money from some rich financial institution that i might work for, worship money/lose my self in material pursuits, take interesting drugs, booze more.

          in no particular order but how's that?

          • David Nickol

            So it is only the existence of God that keeps you from cheating on your wife?

          • Mike

            that's much too simplistic a way of putting it but if i was convinced there was no God if i honestly believed that naturalism was true then i wouldn't see any good reason why what happens in vegas couldn't stay in vegas.

            i would be a strong atheist if i was one.

          • Valence

            From my reading of you and ClayJames, it's pretty clear that some people really need religion, even if it isn't true. I'm a naturalist but certainly not a new atheist. Of course, if God is the main reason you are moral, it's a serious mistake to assume that's the same reason other people are. I'm moral out of selfishness, if I behave in a way I think is wrong, I will regret it and be unhappy. We get to choose how we live, and I also take pride in the fact that I'm a person of principles. I'm moral out of pride and selfishness, just enlightened selfishness :) Sociopaths are obviously not wired like me, so certainly fear of God could be very helpful there.

          • Mike

            the church is a hospital for sinners not a resort for saints. it collects the dregs of society in a manner of speaking and turns them i believe into paris, rome and london ie into great civilization and peace and prosperity but that's another topic.

            well to be clear i think ALL ppl live as if there was God or at least SOME moral law somewhere lurking in the bushes. no one can truly live w/o principles from 'outside' themselves as it were.

            yeah i am moral for selfish reasons too but a thought experiment always occurs to me: i go to vegas and cheat on my wife and she never finds out and i never do it again and i get no stds whatever. is what i did still wrong in and of itself? if i am a naturalist i believe i can't account for it. but i am convinced it is wrong it violates some kind of invisible bond oath which i think doesn't make sense on naturalism. suppose i kill a homeless man that no one remembers for fun and no one ever finds out and i never get caught and never do it again and never feel the urge to do it again. was what i did wrong in and of itself and if there are no consequences how can it be? say the man is also 88 years old and dying of cancer. i don't think naturalism can coherently maintain that what i did was very wrong in and of itself. but theism can.

            now that's a crude example but it highlights in my mind serious deficiencies with naturalism which can't account coherently for certain things. on naturalism might makes right full stop imho.

            anyway i don't think it's shameful to say i need God but i'd say i more WANT God really really want justice for the children starved in the ukraine in the 20s for the children abandoned by their fathers in chicago for the men who can't find honest work are laughed at by society etc etc. we all have that thirst for justice which can only make sense if there is God.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I hope his wife doesn't read this blog. I think I'd be a little hurt if I had a long time partner whose only reason for not cheating on me was God

          • David Nickol

            take interesting drugs, booze more

            It is not 100% clear to me that Christians may not take
            interesting drugs—that is, it is not clear to me what the moral case against drugs is—although for Catholics, the Catechism seems very
            clear:

            2291 The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

            Alcohol is still a drug, even if it has been used for thousands of years. It seems to me that Mormons (and some other Christian denominations) are more consistent on the drug question than Catholics.

          • Mike

            i think there are differences btw beer wine and cocaine that are very clear if you've ever tried either. either way debauchery is a serious sin.

          • David Nickol

            Who's talking about "debauchery"? Why would it be acceptable to drink coffee to stay up all night finishing a term paper but wrong to take Ritalin or Adderall for the same purpose? Why would it be wrong for truck drivers to use such drugs for long hauls when it is acceptable for military pilots to use them for long flights?

          • Mike

            i think the church is talking about cocaine ecstasy pot etc.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What is wrong with pot?

          • Mike

            it's the gate way that everyone uses to harder stuff (i did everyone i know did); it rots young brains; its potency can't be controlled; it causes lung cancer even in moderation as all smoking does; its bad for second hand smoke; its effect on psych are worse than alcohol in that it causes a person to become more jaded/sarcastic and conspiratorial among other things; it's not a fun thing that brings ppl together but something that separates ppl and isolates them in their own world - ie it can't be enjoyed around the dinner table with good food it kills a fun atmosphere; its culturally alien in the west; it stinks literally and the ppl who use it regularly change and can't remember things AND are proud of their changes whereas drunks aren't proud. i think i could go on.

            btw i am not a fan of pot as i've only ever seen it take fun out going ppl and turn them in to self righteous lumps of smug vanity or something like that.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            it's the gate way that everyone uses to harder stuff (i did everyone i know did);

            False.

            it rots young brains

            Im not advocating young brains smoke it

            it causes lung cancer even in moderation as all smoking does

            This is unknown. You don't have to smoke it though - you can make brownies.

            its effect on psych are worse than alcohol in that it causes a person to become more jaded/sarcastic and conspiratorial among other things

            Nice assertion. Pot is better than alcohol in numerous ways.

            it's not a fun thing that brings ppl together but something that separates ppl and isolates them in their own world - ie it can't be enjoyed around the dinner table with good food it kills a fun atmosphere

            You need new friends.

            the ppl who use it regularly change and can't remember things AND are proud of their changes whereas drunks aren't proud

            Some of the smartest people I have ever met used quite a bit of pot. You are painting with a really broad brush.

            i am not a fan of pot as i've only ever seen it take fun out going ppl and turn them in to self righteous lumps of smug vanity or something like that.

            You need new friends and you need to stop reading conservative fear mongering.

          • Mike

            how did i knew you were a pot defender? anyway i have enough experience with pot and other drugs i don't need anymore. either way this is way off topic.

      • Raymond

        "Actually, if I became a naturalist, this is the foundational moral precept that I would follow and I have yet to find a good reason why I shouldn´t."

        I truly enjoy statements like this from theists. So you would rape, murder, steal, defraud, lie, take candy from babies, shoplift, and all manner of other "evils" if it weren't for God's moral law. There are thousands and thousands of atheists out there that do no such things, despite believing that there is no God.

        • ClayJames

          There are thousands and thousands of atheists out there that do no such things, despite believing that there is no God.

          And how does this, in any way, contradict something that I said?

          • Raymond

            It isn't meant to. It is intended to state that, if your would truly behave in the way you describe, it is due to some mental defect or depravity on your part. Many people behave morally and don't believe in a god.

          • ClayJames

            That doesn´t follow. A mental defect is not required to behave in such a way and to say that it is due to depravity is simply stating what you are trying to prove, that such behavior is morally corrupt. You have yet to show why, given naturalism, one ought not behave in such a way.

          • Raymond

            I'll settle for the statistics. Many atheists exhibit "moral" behavior and many theists exhibit "immoral" behavior. Belief in God or in objective moral standards has nothing to do with it.

          • ClayJames

            For the third time, this is irrelevant to what I am saying.

          • Raymond

            What you were saying is that if you weren't a theist (A THEIST) that you would engage in all sorts of destructive behavior if you could get away with it, and what I am saying is that if that were true it would indicate that there is something wrong with you.

          • ClayJames

            I said if I were a naturalist, which is different than not a theist, I would do what bring me the most pleasure. Yes, sometimes that would entail doing things that you might consider to be morally bankrupt but that is your subjective moral framework, it wouldn´t be mine and you have given me no reason why I should adopt your framework and reject my naturalist one.

            Saying that there is something wrong with me is nothing more than a silly ad hominem. It would be equivalent to me telling you that if you really believe I would be wrong, given naturalism, to reject the golden rule then your brain doesn´t function correctly. I have given reasons why I would have that naturalist framework and why criticisms of that framework are invalid given naturalism. You have failed to even attempt to show that my moral framework would be invalid or at least that it shouldn´t be held.

          • Raymond

            OK. Broadly speaking, your moral framework is not invalid, nor can I say that it shouldnt be held. Most (all) people from time to time behave in a way that leads to the most pleasure. However, the golden rule is a social contract that helps people get along with one another and tends to preclude behavior that provides you pleasure at the expense of others. To the extent that people follow the golden rule we have what civilization we have, and to the extent that people do not follow the rule we have the chaos that we have. You can do anything you want that brings you pleasure subject to civil law, but if your actions cause suffering to others, you are breaking the social contract, and it is reasonable to say there is something wrong with you.

          • yeah but he's free to reject the social contract.

            At best we could say that lacking empathy and sympathy are outside the norm for homo sapiens, his brain is malfunctioning according to the standard of the distribution of these traits across the population. We call these disorders sociopathy and psychopathy.

          • Raymond

            Don't do to others what you would not want done to you

        • Ignatius Reilly

          I'm just happy they are theists, otherwise they would exhibit quite a bit of anti-social behavior. If believing in God keeps you from being a moral monster, please keep believing in God.

          • ClayJames

            Luckily for you and me, most theists that become naturalists do not fully comprehend the change in their moral framework that this entails and therefore fail to fully embrace the subjectivity of their morality. This is why most atheists incorrectly determine certain moral precepts to be invalid even though they have no foundation to make such claim.

          • "If believing in God keeps you from being a moral monster, please keep believing in God."

            Without God, there would be no way to identify a moral monster.

            (Note: Not without belief in God, but without God.)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This is often claimed by theists on this board, but it hasn't yet been demonstrated. There are famous philosophers who have been both moral realists and atheists.

      • Valence

        I don´t see how this is worse, if anything, given naturalism, it is the best possible way to maximize your own happiness assuming that getting caught is not part of that happiness.

        Why do you assume that pleasure is the key to happiness? Evidence for normal humans doesn't support many of your ideas, perhaps you need to back up a bit and think a bit more. Here is one interesting study that shows spending money on other people brings about greater happiness than spending it on oneself. There is a lot of evidence that altruism can bring happiness (usually as long as the altruism is appreciated). Obviously none of this applies to sociopaths...just "normal" humans

        While much research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be at least as important as how much money they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. Providing converging evidence for this hypothesis, we found that spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field
        study of windfall spending). Finally, participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.

        http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/application_uploads/norton-spendingmoney.pdf

        Many psychologist support that Buddhist idea that suffering (which is the opposite of happiness and should be distinguished from physical pain) is caused by desire. Most outwardly selfish activities (stealing, for example) are rooted in desire. Excessive pleasure often turns into pain, especially in something like drug use, but it can also apply to vacation (sadness that the pleasure is gone). If one examines the net happiness effects of many of the behaviors you suggest naturalists should engage in, the net effect is likely to be negative on happiness in the long run, especially if they end up feeling guilty over it. It's probably true that naturalism isn't for the dimwitted that would just pursue whatever random pleasure they felt like and end up in jail (where they often find Jesus to help them out). I'm certainly not one of those naturalists who things religion has no place in society, as it would simply be replaced with ideologies that are almost the same thing.

        • ClayJames

          It is also de case that ¨normal¨ humans treat altruism as an end in and of itself instead of a means to an end. I think the majority of people that care for others and behave altruistically don´t do it primarily for what it gives them, but because they believe it is the right thing to do. It is fair to say that this research is probably done with people that view giving to others in this light as opposed to those that view it simply as a way to be happy.

          Secondly, even if this is the case, people often suppress acting in a way that will bring them happiness because of beliefs derived from their moral framework. For example, even though research shows that increasing one´s income beyond a certain amount does not necessarily make someone happier, money does buy happiness at low income levels. However, the vast majority of people that live in poverty suppress this desire for happiness since they value other moral precepts above it. Even if there was no punishment for theft, most poor people would not steal even if it increased their happiness. So you have not shown why someone should prioritize happiness over pleasure to begin with (or anything else for that matter).

          Most importantly, if my goal is happiness over pleasure then my naturalistic moral framework can easily accomodate. Instead of doing what brings pleasure, one would just do what makes them happy. Now imagine you live in a developed country where laws and society is built in such a way that anti-social behavior that hurts others is punished so that acting this way would limit your happiness in the long run. Then in this society, you would probably act altruistically most of the time, but would act anti-socially in situations where happiness can be obtained without it being sacrificed in the long run. If you were to live in a developing country or your actions were over the law for whatever reason, your anti-social behavior would would be even greater.

          I keep hearing naturalist say that altruistic behavior is important because it brings happiness. But if happiness is the goal, then just eliminate altruism altogether and focus on happiness. Unless the naturalist wants to argue that there is a perfect correlation between happiness and altruism, simply focusing on happiness (or pleasure) is the best way to maximize what you are looking for.

          • Valence

            I keep hearing naturalist say that altruistic behavior is important because it brings happiness. But if happiness is the goal, then just eliminate altruism altogether and focus on happiness. Unless the naturalist wants to argue that there is a perfect correlation between happiness and altruism, simply focusing on happiness (or pleasure) is the best way to maximize what you are looking for.

            My point is that there is a certain level of happiness that can only be achieved via altruism, helping others. One can't eliminate it because it is necessary, thanks to biology. I concur with theists that we have an instinctive conscience (though it's certainly malleable through culture and environment) and that conscience can prevent happiness if one behaves badly. I differ in that I think it's a product of blind evolutionary processes, ants and other colonial insects are a related example. Certainly our social instincts are much more flexible than ants, but it's the same kind of thing. The book of Proverbs even suggests we look to ants as a model of diligence, and the fact that social organization can make up for strength, Proverbs 30

            24Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: 25The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;

            Saying the ants are wise is a pretty good compliment :)

  • David Nickol

    It sometimes seems to me that what Catholics believe is the flaw in any moral proposals by atheists is that there is no "enforcement mechanism." It doesn't really matter how sensible a moral approach is if wrongdoers will go unpunished.

    • ClayJames

      That is not the case, at least not for me. My problem with naturalistic moral frameworks are not necessarily the subjective moral precepts they decide to hold but rather, the subjective moral precepts that they decide to reject. The vast majority of naturalist would say not only that Hitler was wrong but that anyone who thinks he was right is wrong. I would be perfectly ok if most atheists and naturalists embraced the subjectivity of their morality instead of trying to have their cake and eat it too.

      • David Nickol

        But you would say that whatever morality atheists subscribe to is a castle in the air. It has no real foundation. It is fortunate that they believe in it, but they have no reason to believe in it. And, I dare say, you would be comforted by the thought that atheist who are amoral and get away with it "in this life" will be punished in the next.

        • ClayJames

          My problem is not that it has no foundation, it is that atheists act as though it does have a foundation. This has nothing to do with comfort, it has to do with people being consistent within their framework and in my experience, naturalist are usually not consistent with their framework when talk about morality.

        • "And, I dare say, you would be comforted by the thought that atheist who are amoral and get away with it "in this life" will be punished in the next."

          That's a serious accusation that demands evidence or support. You've provided none. Yet you've essentially painted, with a broad brush, all Catholics as pouty toddlers who won't be content unless atheists are well punished. This is simply calumny.

          • David Nickol

            Yet you've essentially painted, with a broad brush, all Catholics have pouty toddlers who won't be content unless atheists are well punished. This is simply calumny.

            Woah! The message was directed to one and only one person—Clay James—who responded quite rationally and did not spout wild accusations of calumny against even himself, let alone against all Catholics.

            Notice, also, that I said "atheists who are amoral and get away with it." I did not in any way imply any Catholic would enjoy seeing an atheist punished just for being an atheist.

            You shot from the hip here and did me an injustice.

            The issue, as I believe many Catholics see it, is justice. How can it be that some are wicked their entire lives and never suffer for it, yet some who are innocent suffer their entire lives? To some, this makes atheism unthinkable, because it means the universe would be unjust. Consequently, there must be a God who metes out reward and punishment in the next life. Mike, who frequently posts here, is a major proponent of this view. Judgment, reward, and punishment is a fundamental tenet of Catholicism.

          • "Notice, also, that I said "atheists who are amoral and get away with it." I did not in any way imply any Catholic would enjoy seeing an atheist punished just for being an atheist.

            You shot from the hip here and did me an injustice."

            I see now you are right. I'm sorry! I didn't realize you were only replying to Clay James--I thought you were making a general assessment of all Catholics. Please forgive me!

          • Raymond

            "Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue." Does calling a poster a liar meet this criterion?

          • Mike

            i think david is just getting to the point quickly plus kind of simplistically actually but i agree with him generally speaking. yes of course i hope 'ultimate justice' will be done.

          • VicqRuiz

            I don't think that all, or even many, Catholics would enjoy seeing atheists punished. But it does seem to me that this Catholic expects to enjoy it:

            I answer that, A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly.

            Aquinas, Summa, Question 94, Article 3

      • Arthur Jeffries

        For what it's worth, a number of atheists (Sam Harris and Richard Carrier are two of the more prominent ones who come to mind) have argued for the existence of objective moral truth from a naturalistic perspective, although I don't find their arguments convincing. Perhaps a critical analysis of their views will take place in a future series of articles here.

        • ClayJames

          I have read Harris´ Moral Landscape (have not read anything by Carrier on the matter) and I found Sam´s defense of objective morality embarrassingly lacking for many reasons including some that Brandon alluded to.

      • I think you're overlooking that morality is not subjective in the sense that it's completely arbitrary. Our morality is intersubjective, depending on our shared biology and culture. Thus we're naturally repulsed by genocide as we are to rotting meat or incest. That's an is, not an ought. Of course, these aversions can be overcome through (ir)rational reflection, or they may be missing in some people.

        • ClayJames

          Like I said before, we are also naturally disuaded to do many things but we decide to act against this for another reason. I gave the example of public speaking, which for most people is a great fear. But most people in that situation fight their fear (which is simply a product of socio-biological evolution) because they value something enough to attempt to overcome that natural disposition. Similarly, someone would just have to value something enough to overcome genocide or any other natural aversion.

          Of course, these aversions can be overcome through (ir)rational reflection

          How is overcoming such aversion irrational? I dont think you are using that word correctly.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Well stated. On the nature and question of reason as truth-finder in what must be an ontological sense: “The lack of an ultimate objective scientific grounding for morality can be worrisome. It implies that people with whom we have moral disagreements—whether it's Hitler, the Taliban, or schoolyard bullies who beat up smaller children—aren't wrong in the same sense that it's wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe....But that's how the world is..." (Carroll) is seamlessly one with “-Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. -Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. -Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Hume, Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6).

    • "It sometimes seems to me that what Catholics believe is the flaw in any moral proposals by atheists is that there is no "enforcement mechanism." It doesn't really matter how sensible a moral approach is if wrongdoers will go unpunished."

      Why do you think this is true, especially in light of my article? Never once did I even hint at this reasoning. I never suggested moral relativism is wrong since evil acts would go unpunished.

      • David Nickol

        Why do you think this is true . . . .

        To say "it sometimes seems to me" is quite different from saying "it is true that."

        • Mike

          i agree then again in don't see how punishment is all bad. i WANT to be punished if i am doing wrong and i HOPE to be punished; i am convinced it would be good for me.

  • David Nickol

    It could have been much worse. Harold and Kumar, for example. Or Cheech and Chong.

    • Valence

      You forgot Bevis and Butthead ;p

      • Lazarus

        Hillary and Donald

  • Doug Shaver

    Carroll agrees with David Hume, the famous skeptic whom Carroll deems a "forefather of poetic naturalism", that we can never derive an "ought" from an "is." In other words, we can never take a description of the world (how the world is) and logically deduce a prescription (how we ought to behave in response.) Why? Because for naturalists like Carroll and Hume, "is" is all there is.

    Carroll explains rather carefully why we cannot derive "ought" from "is," and the reason he gives isn't the reason you state. The reason is that it is unavoidably fallacious to do so without the inclusion of at least one premise, in addition to any "is" statement, affirming some "ought" statement. But the inclusion of such a premise means you are no longer deriving the "ought" solely from an "is."

    It seems to me that your real disagreement with Carroll is over the ontological status of moral principles, i.e. with what there "is" in the universe. I can't believe you actually deny "is" is all there is. What you deny is the materialist assumption of most naturalists that "is" is limited to the observable universe. If I correctly understand your Aristotelianism, you affirm the actual existence of certain abstractions such as moral principles -- their ontological equivalence, in some sense, with the material world perceptible by our ordinary senses. And in that sense, any "ought" really is an "is."

    Have I misunderstood anything?

    • "Have I misunderstood anything?"

      Yes. For some reason, you think the description of the "ought/is" problem I attributed to Carroll is somehow different than the one you proposed. But first of all, they're essentially identical, and second, the line I used about "'is' is all there is" is a line straight from Carroll's book (though I don't have it in front of me right now.)

      Anyways, we're all on the same page here--you, me, Carroll, Hume, everyone--that you can't derive an ought from an is.

      Therefore, I struggle to see the relevance of this critical comment.

      • Doug Shaver

        I could attempt to explain the relevance as I perceive it, but I don't think it would accomplish anything that would justify the effort.

        Anyways, we're all on the same page here--you, me, Carroll, Hume, everyone--that you can't derive an ought from an is.

        Yes, we all accept that.

        • Great! I'm happy we all agree on this point. Mark it down as a victory for fruitful dialogue!

    • "I can't believe you actually deny "is" is all there is."

      Believe it! Indeed I deny that principle, as have the majority of people throughout history and the majority of people living today, all of whom are convinced that there are moral "oughts" which we must follow, oughts derived not from the way the world is, but the way it was designed to be.

      I'm honestly surprised that you would think I'd accept that principle, which is essentially naturalistic.

      • Doug Shaver

        "I can't believe you actually deny "is" is all there is.

        "Believe it!

        Then we must disagree on the meaning of "is."

        there are moral "oughts" which we must follow, oughts derived not from the way the world is, but the way it was designed to be.

        But in your worldview, there is a way it was designed to be, is there not?

      • Valence

        If something is part of the the design of the universe, it "is". In principle this should be the same as the laws of physics, just derived in a different way.

  • George

    God says to me: "do X".

    Why should I do X?

    • "God says to me: "do X". Why should I do X?"

      Because God is the Supreme Good, or to say it another way, the locus of goodness itself. He only commands good things.

      Also, from Christian revelation we know that God is a loving creator who wills the good for all his creatures. HIs commands ultimately lead to the highest form of human flourishing.

      • George

        So there's good consequences in it for me?

        • Rob Abney

          The means justify the ends.

  • Jersey McJones

    I think the problem here is that some religious people seem to sometimes be under the illusion that religion begat morality. The reason "why" to behave a certain way can be secular or sectarian or both or neither, in any tangible sense. Monogamy was not a Judeo-Christian precept. It came from Roman culture. Democracy from the pagan Greeks. The Golden Rule was already widely known and appreciated in south and east Asia at the time of Christ, and again among the Greeks.

    I see no historical evidence that religion is a prerequisite for morality.

    JMJ

    • Rob Abney

      Religion is not the prerequisite, God is.

      • Jersey McJones

        That's religion, Rob.

        JMJ

    • ClayJames

      Brandon is not claiming that religion is a prerequisite for morality. You are not understanding the argument.

      • Jersey McJones

        I understand. What I'm saying is that belief in God is provably not necessary for moral behavior.

        JMJ

        • ClayJames

          Once again, I don´t think anyone is disagreeing with that point.

          • Heh. Rob Abney disagreed with exactly that point, in a comment that appears just below this one for me.

  • David Nickol

    Most atheists, apparently, are to dumb too be amoral.

    • Alexandra

      This certainly isn't the Catholic position.(I mean, we don't single out Atheists.) Who are you addressing this to?

      Every person is imbued with a God-given conscience to discern right from wrong. This is distinct from intellectual capacity.

      CCC 1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."

      Edit: added words

      • David Nickol

        This certainly isn't the Catholic position. Who are you addressing to?

        I am addressing it to many of the commenters here, some of whom openly claim that if they were to convert to atheism, they would do whatever immoral things they could get away with if it was to their advantage. They are, of course, pleased that most atheists don't abandon conventional morality. But they argue that without God, there is no grounding for any moral code. "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted."

        Of course, if someone is an atheist, he or she doesn't care what the Catechism says about people having a God-given conscience!

        • Alexandra

          OK. The grounding of morality is an important and serious question. Person A thinks doing X is wrong. Person B thinks doing X is right. How does an Atheist discern who's right?

          Regarding a converting Atheist's moral behavior;
          This is one approach: If I could 100% prove that God does not exist , that there is no Heaven, and no afterlife- would any of your behavior change?

          • David Nickol

            If I could 100% prove that God does not exist , that there is no Heaven, and no afterlife- would any of your behavior change?

            There would be a few minor changes. I might stop wearing the crucifix around my neck, but then again, my interest in Jesus is not necessarily based on him being God incarnate. I think I would still be interested in the Gospels, for example. Biblical scholarship is fascinating whether or not there is a God.

            The biggest change, probably, is that if you had 100% proof of those things, I wouldn't spend any more time on Strange Notions arguing about them!

            I don't believe I would cheat on my partner, stop giving to charity, cheat on my income taxes, lie when it was to my advantage, shoplift, play dirty tricks on people whom I didn't like, or stop pointing out to cashiers that they had made a mistake in my favor when that was the case.

          • Rob Abney

            "I might stop wearing the crucifix around my neck, but then again, my interest in Jesus is not necessarily based on him being God incarnate"
            What is your interest in the crucifix? It seems that that symbol is very specific to God incarnate whereas if someone just likes Jesus' moral teachings then a symbol other than a crucifix would be chosen.

          • David Nickol

            What is your interest in the crucifix? It seems that that symbol is very specific to God incarnate . . . .

            Even if you don't believe Jesus was God incarnate, unless you are a mythicist (or something along those lines) it's a fact that Jesus, lived, taught, and was crucified. As I have mentioned many times, I went to Catholic school for 12 (elementary school through high school). Shortly after graduating from college, I became interested in modern biblical scholarship and the historical Jesus. I am not merely interested in the moral teachings of Jesus, but in the man himself.

          • Alexandra

            I find it so interesting that you wear a crucifix. :) I'm bemused that if God really didn't exist, I would remove my scapular that I currently wear around my neck - but you really could keep wearing your crucifix. :)

            The biggest change, probably, is that if you had 100% proof of those things, I wouldn't spend any more time on Strange Notions arguing about them!

            HeHe :) Oh no! Not that. Brandon could tweak a word here or there. A "does" to a "does not". The conviviality must continue!

            I don't believe I would cheat on my partner, stop giving to charity, cheat on my income taxes, ...

            It's interesting you mainly listed things you wouldn't change. When I tested the question among Catholics, everyone could list things that would change.

            So I will modify the question for next time to - would your behavior or attitude change, about yourself or the actions of others? Are there any moral actions that would be now be acceptable in others, even if you wouldn't take part? And so forth.

            There are many reasons why your behavior wouldn't change. You could still be arrested if you don't pay your taxes, or you'd be unhappy or make someone unhappy if you cheated, etc. But it doesn't really address the question of the source of your behavior/morality.

          • David Nickol

            I find it so interesting that you wear a crucifix. :) I'm bemused that if God really didn't exist, I would remove my scapular that I currently wear around my neck - but you really could keep wearing your crucifix. :)

            I may be an agnostic when it comes to the existence of God, but not when it comes to the existence of Jesus or his impact on the world.

            So I will modify the question for next time to - would your behavior or attitude change, about yourself or the actions of others? Are there any moral actions that would be now be acceptable in others, even if you wouldn't take part? And so forth.

            The only thing that comes to mind is suicide or assisted suicide. Whether or not we have the right to take our own lives seems to me heavily dependent on whether there is a God. I have never been in a position where I have had to support or oppose assisted suicide, so I am not sure what I would do if there were a referendum or some such forced choice in New York.

            Of course, having been raised and educated as a Catholic, and grown to maturity in an almost totally Christian environment, it's difficult to say what are truly "my" values and the values that are the result of socialization, indoctrination, and (in Catholic elementary school) brainwashing. :p

    • "Most atheists, apparently, are to dumb too be amoral."

      I wouldn't say dumb. I would say "understandably inconsistent." I'm convinced of two facts that would be true if atheism was true: (1) there would be no objective moral values or duties, and therefore morality is only subjective opinion, and (2) no reasonable person can live as if that were true.

      To be sure, I can understand why an atheist would want to live as if objective moral values and duties exist, even at the cost of holding inconsistent beliefs. But that doesn't resolve the conflict--it just ignores it.

      • ClayJames

        Regarding number (2), is ¨reasonable¨ the operative word here? It seems like a reasonable atheist would be consistent and therefore would accept (1). I undestand what you are trying to say and I agree with your point, but I question the word selection.

      • Doug Shaver

        if atheism was true: (1) there would be no objective moral values or duties,

        Where is the contradiction between "Belief in God is unjustified" and "Objective moral values and duties exist"?

        • neil_pogi

          evolution says that it is the game of 'the fittest'.. therefore, no moral values exists in evolution. if humans are the by-products of evolution, therefore, humans have no morality, whatsoever!

          i can say boldy that atheists are moral creatures too because they are also made in the image of God. there is no true atheists if atheists are observing morality!

          • Doug Shaver

            evolution says that it is the game of 'the fittest'.

            No, it doesn't. And you would know that if you had ever studied it seriously.

          • neil_pogi

            'survival of the fittest' is the mantra of evolution. how come that preys got on the scene?

          • Doug Shaver

            how come that preys got on the scene?

            Your habitual conduct in this forum is inconsistent with a good-faith attempt to find answers to questions of that sort.

          • neil_pogi

            just make a good argument about my claim: 'how come that preys got on the scene?'

            and that's make you a better person

          • Doug Shaver

            A question is not a claim.

          • neil_pogi

            just please explain how preys got into the scene?

          • Doug Shaver

            Please explain the relevance of that question to the subject of this thread.

          • neil_pogi

            even if the topic is off this thread, it is still relevant because all the discussions on this SN is about atheism and theism.

            now just please explain how preys got into the scene?

          • Doug Shaver

            it is still relevant because all the discussions on this SN is about atheism and theism.

            OK. So how is your question relevant to atheism and theism?

          • neil_pogi

            i have already told you. why not just answer my arguments against your belief system?

          • Doug Shaver

            So how is your question relevant to atheism and theism?

            i have already told you.

            Was that when you said, "all the discussions on this SN is about atheism and theism"?

          • neil_pogi

            of course.

          • Doug Shaver

            Then you have not answered my question. I asked you explain how the existence of prey animals is relevant to theism and atheism. All you have done is reassert that it is relevant.

          • neil_pogi

            it is relevant because evolution never explained as to how and why preys got into the scene. remember, atheists' major belief is evolution

          • Doug Shaver

            remember, atheists' major belief is evolution

            No, it's not. Most of us do accept it, but so do most theists, and so it cannot be definitive of atheism.

          • neil_pogi

            some theists accept evolution-guided...

            anyway you still ignore why prey came despite evolution's mantra: 'survival of the fittest'... another headache for evolutionists: it never explain the 'arrival of the fittest and weakest'

          • Doug Shaver

            some theists accept evolution-guided...

            And some accept evolution unguided. Evolution is not an obstacle to belief in God. It is an obstacle to certain particular dogmas about God.

            anyway you still ignore why prey came

            And you still ignore the fact I just gave you: You cannot defend theism by discrediting evolution.

          • neil_pogi

            i'm not discrediting evolution because it is already dead in the water.. why discredit it when the fact is, it 's just a theory, no, not but hypothesis!

            i can't answer for theistic evolutionists on why they accept it as 'facts'...

          • Doug Shaver

            it is already dead in the water

            Not just because you say so. But, whether it is or isn't has nothing to do with God's existence.

            i can't answer for theistic evolutionists

            You don't have to. Until you can prove that they contradict themselves, by quoting something that they actually say, their mere existence is enough to disprove your implication that evolution is inconsistent with theism.

          • neil_pogi

            by evolution, many former christians became atheists. richard dawkins admits that thru learning evolution, he became an atheist- a solid one. evolution, according to evolutionists has replaced the need for God, or total disregard for God's existence. i hope my answer is loud and clear.

            if theistic evolutionists believe in some kind of evolution, like 'chemical evolution', i think they are not truly christians in some respect, because they think the chemicals are all there is to jumpstart the process of creating a life. they credit more to those chemicals than to God.

          • Doug Shaver

            i hope my answer is loud and clear.

            What you have made perfectly clear, for as long as you have been posting here, is the depth of your ignorance about both evolution and atheism. Scientifically literate people don't ask the kinds of questions you ask about evolution. And the way you repeat your questions about atheism shows that you have paid no attention to the answers you've already gotten.

          • Sample1

            Reminds me of the movie Memento.

            Mike, poetic naturalist with a dash of fun

          • neil_pogi

            the answers you provided? i have no recollections that you presented evolution as the 'scientific' explanations for the origin and thriving of life on earth. they're mainly 'make-believe' stories (sorry for repeating and repeating this phrase).. my demand is very clear: 1. do you have any observable evidence from the past, today and for the future that evolution really happened? (one single organism evolving into several multi-organism?) 2. evolutionists never explained how the non-living matter became living matter, all are merely, again, i would like to say 'make believe' and 'just so' stories. 3. evolutionists claim that the super star SRM is all there is! how would it survive the early earth's environment? how it thrives is never explained. do you really know how scientists spend many hours just making possible the single cell survive on its own? you have no idea!. after many theories of the origin of life (pre-biotic soup, panspermia, the creative power of a 'nothing', and the 'self replicating molecules'), they all failed the very simple question: can it survive in just a day or two?

          • Doug Shaver

            And the way you repeat your questions about atheism shows that you have paid no attention to the answers you've already gotten.

            the answers you provided? i have no recollections that you presented evolution as the 'scientific' explanations for the origin and thriving of life on earth.

            Of course not. I don't answer questions about atheism with comments on evolution.

            my demand is very clear:

            I'm not here to comply with your demands. I'm here to participate in a dialogue between Catholics and atheists. Since you are neither, what are you here for?

          • neil_pogi

            i'm a christian and wants to participate in this SN. this is a christian site and what business atheists are doing here?

          • Doug Shaver

            i'm a christian and wants to participate in this SN.

            Fine by me.

            what business atheists are doing here?

            We were invited.

          • Michael Murray

            i'm a christian and wants to participate in this SN. this is a christian site and what business atheists are doing here?

            Even by your standards that is plumbing the depths of idiotic remarks. Read the About link at the top of the page.

            StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

          • neil_pogi

            i already said that i am not a catholic.. sure the SN has known it. and if that is so, then why SN still allows me to post comments on this site?

          • Michael Murray

            I am replying to your question

            what business atheists are doing here

            by pointing out that the site was set up with the intention of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. So that is why atheists are here.

          • neil_pogi

            agnostics and deists are here too.

            i was really wondering what are the real goals or motives of atheists here? atheists believe evil and good are just illusion. then why atheists are questioning God about His 'evil' works (ex: killing of children, drowning the world with flood, etc) when they don't believe that 'evil' is not real?

            crusaders, inquisitions, etc were all evil according to christian standards. and what the heck atheists are condemning the past activities of 'christians' during those time when they believe that evil is just an illusion?

          • Doug Shaver

            if theistic evolutionists believe in some kind of evolution, like 'chemical evolution', i think they are not truly christians in some respect,

            You illustrate my point. You don't disagree with those people about God's existence. You disagree with them about what is required for someone to be a Christian.

          • neil_pogi

            because true christians teach that 'God is in control', that 'God is all there is'

      • LHRMSCBrown

        I agree with Clay James on the word reasonable. Reason as truth-finder will (rightly) chase after either the sound of her own mutable and contingent voice, as per Hume, for such is as real as real can be short of dissolution, or else Reason as truth-finder will chase after reality's irreducible contours of love's timeless self-giving vis-à-vis Trinity. Given the Imago Dei we find Reason on all counts chasing (given privation) both vectors, with Non-Theism unable to lay claim to the later, embedded in the former, while Christianity's landscape subsumes both. Hence the disconnect you speak of combined with what we observe in the overlap of Reason and her two diverging delights.

        We find within moral ontology what we find within love's ontology, which is what we find in all ontologies, the whole of Man amid the rational, towards reason's impossibly extravagant appetite:

        ".....if reason’s primordial orientation is indeed toward total intelligibility and perfect truth, then it is essentially a kind of ecstasy of the mind toward an end beyond the limits of nature. It is an impossibly extravagant appetite, a longing that can be sated only by a fullness that can never be reached in the world, but that ceaselessly opens up the world to consciousness. To speak of God, however, as infinite consciousness, which is identical to infinite being, is to say that in Him the ecstasy of mind is also the perfect satiety of achieved knowledge, of perfect wisdom. God is both the knower and the known, infinite intelligence and infinite intelligibility. This is to say that, in Him, rational appetite is perfectly fulfilled, and consciousness perfectly possesses the end it desires. And this, of course, is perfect bliss.” (David Bentley Hart – The Experience of God)

  • Mike

    i would just add that culturally we have been trained not to judge others for fear of being called judgmental and mean spirited. it also seems to many ppl that if we aren't judgmental we'll be able to get along better with different kinds of ppl and different lifestyles - you do your thing i'll do mine. its for practical reasons that our culture values relativism as non relativism scares the pants off of it. the mere mention of some objective moral standard freaks ppl out emotionally. you can say math is objective physics gives you an objective view of actual reality but apply that to the world of morality and you're automatically suspect. this is especially true for matters of personal morality which we all pretend doesn't even exist. societal morality is still pretty hip what with governments which ought to fight for this or that and companies which must never do this or that. but for individuals and families it's you do your thing and i'll do mine.

    but don't exceptions prove the rule? otherwise it wouldn't be an exception. so maybe the only rule is there are no hard and fast rules especially not where very difficult issues are concerned; don't think too much about stuff seems to me to be a very popular attitude where i live - just keep the funny good times rolling. and yet we as ppl do almost nothing except argue about who's right and wrong. just take a look at any of the threads on here - it's all you're wrong i am right! and the ppl who seem most emotionally invested in proving that others are wrong on here anyway are atheists many of whom don't believe in obj morality! or maybe they do, deep down, perhaps unconsciously.

    i think science is wonderful and beautiful but we live not in a material universe but a moral one. we are more than anything else moral agents the rest is just window dressing.

    • David Nickol

      How do you explain things like the nearly unanimous reaction to Ryan Lochte? Did anybody in the United States say, "Hey, he was doing his own thing. Nobody got hurt. Go easy on him. There is no God, and so there is no reason to condemn lying." Why did he lose his endorsements?

      • David Nickol

        Yes, there some misguided people who say it is "wrong" to make moral judgments, but what can they mean by that?

        • "Yes, there some misguided people who say it is "wrong" to make moral judgments, but what can they mean by that?"

          Good point. You've identified a circular argument: they judge others (negatively) for not agreeing that judging others is wrong.

          • David Nickol

            Father Komonchak, a contributor to the Commonweal blog (among many other things) made this comment to someone else's post over a year ago, and it stuck in my head.

            A colleague once reported that when he began his first class of a course on Christian Ethics and said that it was designed, among other things, to help them make moral judgments, a student erupted: "We're not supposed to make moral judgments!"

            Mary Midgley begins Chapter 1 of her book Can't We Make Moral Judgments?(1993) as follows:

            "But surely it's always wrong to make moral judgments?"

            This is the manifesto that I once heard someone lay down in an argument about the duty of toleration. It was spoken ardently and confidently, with no expectation that it might be questioned. It was not said as a new discovery, but as a moral platitude, something so obvious that it need only be mentioned to be accepted. And the speaker was not being at all eccentric in pronouncing it; this confidence is normal today. In the last few decades the word "judgmental" has been specifically coined and is used, along with the slightly older word "moralistic," to describe and attack this particular form of wrongdoing.

            Nevertheless, I would still maintain that being judgmental, as defined by Merriam-Webster Unabridged ("2: characterized by a tendency to judge people harshly") is undesirable and is, in fact, against the teachings of Jesus. But obviously there is a difference between saying a person makes moral judgments (as we all do and must) and saying a person is judgmental.

      • Rob Abney

        I think Mike's complaint about a hesitancy to make judgements is interesting. I agree that people don't make judgements in situations were they should, that is, where they have some authority -like for close friends, family members, etc; but then there is a tendency for journalists and internet users to make judgements where they do not have authority. Lochte may not even be guilty but the unanimous consent of journalists is that he is guilty.

        • David Nickol

          Lochte may not even be guilty but the unanimous consent of journalists is that he is guilty.

          He admitted he lied, and he apologized (in his own bizarre manner). Even in the absence of his own admissions, the evidence against him is overwhelming. I would be the first to warn against trusting everything you see in the media or read on the internet, but my skepticism does not extend so far as to doubt things for which the evidence is overwhelming. If you can't believe the consensus reporting on the Ryan Lochte story, then you can't believe anything.

      • Mike

        i would attribute that believe it or not to rich white guy denigrating 'noble' poor brown/black folks from 'oppressed' hemisphere in ppls' minds. plus the olympics are still held in very high esteem. if he had done that in germany at some high end restaurant during some world championship ppl would be much more forgiving - boys being boys, young men who got carried away but bc he said he was robbed at gun point when he wasn't ppl were offended. to be honest so was i. how dare he perpetuate the 'myth' that all rio is a gang land and that it's so bloody violent that ppl get killed over nothing all the time and all that.

      • neil_pogi

        because lying is a form of sin. have you committed lying? if so, how did you deal with it? did you experience regrets? for example, you lied to your friend that you are going to 7-11 store. and because you'd just said to your friend that you're going there, she went there too after several minutes, then, unfortunately your friend was hit by a speeding car, and she died. what will be your reactions? feel guilty that you lied to her? why experience guilt?

  • I'm pretty sure Carroll didn't just "presume" that naturalism is true, but gave many reasons for that view (whether or not one agrees with it). As to morality, I don't see how invoking God automatically solves these issues either. It's a very old debate.

  • Lazarus

    Pardon my laziness in not quoting much out of it, but for one of the best recent layman's expositions of the basis of morality and morality without God I really recommend "How to be an atheist" by Mitch Stokes.

    • neil_pogi

      even if someone became an atheist, he can't deny himself that he is still a creature of God. he is still know good and evil.

  • VicqRuiz

    "Moral relativists like Carroll have no objective basis to condemn obviously immoral acts like the Holocaust or 9/11."

    'Condemnation' saves no lives.

    Was it morally right to hasten the end of the Holocaust by destroying German industries through aerial bombardment?

    Would it have been morally right to assassinate Hitler in the 1930's, as some German officers planned to do?

    Would it have been morally right to use a time machine to return to 1889 and smother the infant Hitler in his crib?

    Is there room for disagreement on these questions between two persons, both of whom believe in an absolute, God breathed morality??

    • Rob Abney

      I would say that there is more room for misunderstanding between two people than there is room for disagreement when discussing the subject of justice and just war theories. But the first question to be agreed upon would be "do all means justify the preferred outcomes?"

      • VicqRuiz

        What I am trying to get at is this:

        It's a common meme of theist apologists to claim that "on atheism, all morality is relative, and that means no way to say that Mister Rogers is a better person than Hitler".

        But in the world in which we live we must make moral choices that are not nearly so clear cut. We have to decide whether to support Stalin against Hitler (or vice versa)....Mister Rogers may be a nice man, but he commands no divisions.

        And I do not see how possessing a belief in objective morality makes those sort of decisions any easier, or likely to be more consistent across a wide selection of individual decision makers, than lacking such a belief.

        To answer your challenge, no, I do not believe the ends always validate the means. But ... I still can endorse some pretty drastic means, in a situation which I think calls for them.

        • Rob Abney

          If your point Is that choices are tough and not always obvious, that seems like the best reason to know an Objective morality exists.

  • neil_pogi

    my friend and i saw the beautiful sunset at Manila bay. He said to me: 'neil, that sunset is the most beautiful in the world. you see the sun is perfectly round as it sets down into the sea'.. i answered him, 'yes indeed, that's why many hotels can be found along this boulevard, so that tourists will observe it'

    the concept of 'beautiful' 'ugly' 'good' and 'evil' are absolute, no matter what you believe in (atheism or theism). it's always there! how can someone say 'that is beautiful' and 'that is ugly' if there is no objective value of it?

    how can we justify 'that is evil' if there is no good?

    how can God declare Himself 'good and just' if evil is not existing?

  • LHRMSCBrown

    Convergence: “[S]choolyard bullies who beat up smaller children aren't wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe..... But that's how the world is." (S. Carroll)

    Carroll and Hume converge. Within Non-Theism’s rationally available explanatory contours we find no such thing as the moral fact and hence Reason as truth-finder hears only the sound of her own mutable voice, itself contingent upon irreducibly impersonal forces/interactions, and she finds there within her own voice no possibility whatsoever of a fact termed the morally *un*reasonable. Therein the term “rational” foisted upon the moral must first beg the question, and then follow with an equivocation on bended-knee, and, even then, haven gained no possible entry, must make its dive into thin air and try like hell to fly before plummeting – as it always does – into absurdity’s abyss.

    • LHRMSCBrown

      (Edit at 7 hr) Speaking of the aforementioned abyss, and for a bit of levity, it seems the world's sociopath emerges. Perhaps, then, a proper definition of the ontology of the moral sociopath? On *Non*-Theistic terms, that is. The proper diagnosis needs only to find the sine qua non of the moral sociopath which just is that moral frame which refuses reason's relentless demands for lucidity and therein refuses reason herself. Contrary to the Non-Theist's uninformed (there is no other explanation) claims, we do not find the sociopath, in fact cannot find him, in Carroll's calm and rational, “[S]choolyard bullies who beat up smaller children aren't wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe......" nor can we find him in Hume’s calm and rational “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger…

      The Non-Theist’s question begging dance of equivocations is forever misdiagnosing reality’s “contra-reason sociopath” as located somewhere other than inside his own skull's ontic calculus. Indeed, he thinks himself the great physician for it is inside of the aforementioned abyss that we find reality’s sociopath, but we do not find him in Hume’s calm and rational “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger…” for therein Reason as truth-finder beckons to that which was, and is, and always will be and chases after the sound of her own mutable voice, itself contingent upon reality’s irreducible indifference as Reason finds there within her own voice no possibility whatsoever of a fact termed the morally *un*reasonable. No, it is not there where we find contra-reason’s sociopath, but rather we find the ontological sociopath refusing reason's hard demands, tirelessly bawling his obscenities and vomiting his expletives amid the irrational foist of his autohypnotic “rational” upon his wish-fulfilling “moral”. The sight would be comical if it were not for the fact of him ripping out his own deductions (the word "entrails" was just too strong) in the midst of the insanity of his own question begging tirade of equivocations. The seething intellectual mess is forever conjuring up and inhaling his own teleological vapor as his intoxicated thrashes free him from his own mind. Just as we think his perverse anti-intellectual spectacle is about to end he surprises us all with the last mark of – not the merely uninformed – though we wish that were all – for such has a cure – but no – rather he surprises us all with what is a spine-chilling fury…. perhaps even an evidence-free psychosis of sorts….. and takes his dive into thin air – oh -tis is a brain-cramping fright to behold – wrenching his flimsy syllogisms in a wild flurry in his last grasp at moral flight before plummeting – as all illusions must – into absurdity’s abyss.

      -Tis not Hume where we find morality's ontic sociopath, for Reason is (sort of) on his side (in mind's irrationally derivative sense). –Tis not the Theist/Christian where we find morality's ontic sociopath, for Reason is on his side (in mind's rationally derivative sense). Rather, morality's ontological sociopath is found in the moral ontology of the reason-free, in the irrational illusion of something that is neither *god* nor *God* but a counterfeit in between, in what is nearly ipso facto found within the modern brand of today’s New Atheism, today's brand of Non-Theistic autohypnosis which is forever question begging amid a dance of equivocation all the while foisting the term “rational” upon the term “moral” and all while intoxicated with its own conjured up teleological vapor. OH! –Tis a sight to see, these Non-Theistic ontic shams!

      “[S]choolyard bullies who beat up smaller children aren't wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe......"

  • LHRMSCBrown

    After several hundred posts, it's the standard array of Non-Theistic reason-free missing-of-the-points:

    [1] Objective moral facts exist apart from God and we *know* this *because* (the logic goes) only sociopaths like to break them and *that* is true *because* moral facts exist apart from God and we *know* this *because* (the reason goes) only sociopaths like to break them and we *know* this *because* (the logic goes) moral facts exist apart from God and *that* is true *because* only sociopaths like to break them and *that* is true *because* moral facts exist apart from God and we *know* this *because* (the logic goes)....... In short "Reason/Rational" has to be a "broken" truth-finder (....Uhm.. -Cause teleological-vapor-some-how....) if and when Reason chases after "bullying little children in schoolyard", or chases after "preferring the destruction of the world to the scratching of my finger"..... Uhmm.... -Cause objective moral facts.... -Cause objective covalent bonds.... -Cause, uhm, objective photons.... See, -Cause reason as truth-finder really does have these real-things called "moral facts" which "exist" and which she is to "find" and "discover", uhmm... -Cause Carroll is wrong with his “[S]choolyard bullies who beat up smaller children aren't wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe..... But that's how the world is." And, uhmm, Hume is wrong with his “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger…

    [2] Don't need Da-Bible to be nice to da-folks

    [3] The Double-E-E, -Cause, uhmn, Evolution / Empathy

    The Non-Theist’s endless equivocations, question begging, dodges, and missing-of-the-points are in part (there aren’t enough gigabytes) captured in a quote from https://fidedubitandum.wordpress.com/ The phrase "in part" cannot be stressed enough.

    Quote:

    Overwhelmingly, there are two basic responses to the moral argument that one is likely to encounter. (But, as a side note, I’m not sure whether the atheists who happen by would rather I made these responses sound calm and thoughtful or punchy and full of memes. I’ll go with the typical New Atheist version I hear, but apologies in advance to the more genteel and thoughtful atheist.)

    The first response usually reads a lot like this: “I don’t need the Bible to tell me to be moral! It’s full of awful, terrible things, and only a complete sociopath would need that anyway. Are you a sociopath? I can’t believe how messed up you religious types are if you can’t be moral except because God threatens you with Hell. I do the right thing because it is right–not (like you) because I’m trying to avoid punishment.”

    I don’t think there’s a book long enough to deal with all of the errors in this paragraph, but for those inclined to agree with it, let me point out the main issue.

    Simply put, the argument isn’t for sociopaths. It is for people who agree that there is such a thing as moral truth. This is how reasoning to a conclusion works – we see something that is, then wonder how it could be explained. In this case, we see morality, then reason to the conclusion that God is the best explanation for it.

    Of course, there are some wild claims about the Bible (and why theists are moral) here as well, but I’ll not get into that because it is beside the point. An attack on a very particular (and bad) interpretation of the Bible neither offers us a secular basis of morality, nor shows us that there isn't such a thing.

    But what of the claim that the atheist does what is right because it is right? That always struck me as a bit self-righteous, but the bigger issue is the second typical response: “Morality is simply the result of empathy, which was put into people by evolutionary pressures. This kind of herd thinking helped our ancestors to survive, and it still helps us today. Cooperation is very powerful, and being good to others is what is best for you, in the long run.”

    This is a pretty blatant contradiction of the first response, which is why I’m so often surprised to run across people who give me both responses in the same conversation – often in the same paragraph.

    To say that morality is what is best for one is to deny that one does what is right because it is right. It is, specifically, to claim that one has selfish motivations for doing what is right. It is also to deny that there is any objective morality at all. That’s fine, if one wants to do this, but this is precisely what the theist was claiming: that theism is the best explanation for objective morality. To respond with “well, as an atheist, I don’t believe in objective morality, but only that people have empathy” is to concede that point.

    But, of course, the proponents of this response like to underline that empathy is “good enough”, and that nothing else needs to be explained. But I find that impossible to square with another claim these same persons make.

    Namely, that we shouldn’t believe things without a rational reason to do so.

    To say that we should have all kinds of moral attitudes, not because those things are really true, but simply because we feel a certain emotion (empathy), is to deny outright that one only believes based on reason and evidence.

    At this point in the conversation, I’m usually treated to long and increasingly impatient descriptions of how empathy might have arisen in the human species – as if proving that would counter anything I’ve said here.

    One can reject objective morality in the name of atheism, or reject atheism in the name of morality. What one can’t rationally do, however, is claim that “are you a sociopath”, or “evolution made us empathetic” has much of anything to do with the moral argument for God’s existence.

    End quote.

    “[S]choolyard bullies who beat up smaller children aren't wrong in the same sense that it’s wrong to deny Darwinian evolution or the expansion of the universe..... But that's how the world is."

    “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. -Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. -Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than for the latter.” (Hume, Treatise of Human Nature 2.3.3.6).

    • Will

      After several hundred posts, it's the standard array of Non-Theistic reason-free missing-of-the-points:

      It's pretty clear to me that you are incapable of understanding the implications of defining the soul as the form of the body. You clearly missed my points in our conversation about it.

      The Non-Theist’s endless equivocations, question begging, dodges, and missing-of-the-points are in part (there aren’t enough gigabytes) captured in a quote from https://fidedubitandum.wordpre... The phrase "in part" cannot be stressed enough.

      How can you possibly be confident in this if you don't even know what I'm talking about? It's fascinating how suddenly snarky and condescending you suddenly become when you are here babbling to yourself. It's like a chatbot stringing together Feser snark, lol...similar to deeptrumpf.

      http://www.techinsider.io/donald-trumps-artificial-intelligence-bot-is-getting-smarter-heres-why-2016-3

      If you can't even talk intelligently about the soul, what business do you have discussing philosophy here at all? You clearly don't get it.

      • LHRMSCBrown

        Why are you quoting me as if I'm referencing the soul and the topic of Survivalism / Corruptionism? I wasn't addressing your comments about the soul here. That is another thread. The "human" survives death. Hence the link to Feser on Survivalism/Corruptionism http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/03/so-what-are-you-doing-after-your-funeral.html in that other thread.

        Here, in this thread, I was addressing the issues of moral ontology.

        Regarding the other thread, it is my view that there are components of man, right now, and of man, right now, which both *are* and which also *do*, right now, and which also outlive the body (survive death). And I don't see you disagreeing. So there's that. If you have a quibble with Feser, perhaps you can visit one of his com-boxes and take it up with him.

        Regarding missing your points, it's more a matter of disinterest as my interest is, in these threads, in following Poetic Naturalism to its logical conclusion(s), and, surely you must know I'm not a physicalist/materialist. Hence my quote of Feser and the "human" surviving death over inside of the arena of Survivalism/Corruptionism just was enough given the focus of my comments in that thread. I appreciate your desire to take it out wider out of Poetic Naturalism there in the thread on Free Will. If you and Feser want to agree or disagree about the soul being only material, or not, and that, per Feser, the human being outlives the body, or not, that is fine with me. I told you my view on what is in-play in the human being, such not being entirely materially constituted.

        • Will

          My entire point was that talking about the soul as the form of the body accounts for the difference between a brick house and a human on naturalism and theism! God simply facilitates the future resurrection.

          Regarding missing your points, it's more a matter of disinterest as my interest is, in these threads, in following Poetic Naturalism to its logical conclusion(s), and, surely you must know I'm not a physicalist/materialist.

          Yes...and Poetic Naturalism doesn't reject form/structure. It fully embraces it, which is my point! You are obviously only interested in information you can use to direct snark at naturalism, not understand it and discuss it. Having an open conversation is certainly not a motive, especially in light of our conversation.
          It's completely critical to have a full understanding of what a soul is to talk coherently from a Christian philosophical standpoint. If you don't understand that, you don't have a coherent theory.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            You seem to think layers of material (form? structure?) adds something to my toolbox of both material/immaterial causation, in impersonal vs. personal determination. It sounds like you embrace emergent causes and mean to equate them with personal causation (or something). Vogt pointed out that on Carroll's view, "....fundamental reality does determine everything, but we're forced to use emergent language and concepts only because we don't have access to this fundamental information. Thus for Laplace's Demon, there would not be such a thing as baseball....."

            On personal causation, we're going to outlive the body, just as, on moral ontology, we're going to outdistance the body.

          • Will

            Isn't form a cause? A square peg won't fit in a round hole because...

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit at 15 min) Per Non-Theism, what causes are in-play in the body (form)? Nature's four fundamental causes alone as far as I can tell. Nothing there that contributes to personal causation after the body dies.... as far as I can tell. And yet the ontology of love's timeless reciprocity outdistances impersonal determination, and hence the body.... hey it's a thread about moral ontology after all...... just saying....

            Regarding the body and soul and the impersonal and personal, well perhaps final causes and teleology vis-à-vis Being Itself with respect to The Good and so on might help you if you want to borrow some... I've got some around here somewhere to spare.

            Hume and Carroll seem content without them given that Reason as truth-finder finds no moral facts, and rightly concludes, “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger…

          • Will

            Can personal causation be, at bottom, a formal cause? Why can't the form of the human brain be the cause of the moral order when interacting with other humans? Let's think about Aristotle's 4 causes

            The material cause: “that out of which”, e.g., the bronze of a statue.
            The formal cause: “the form”, “the account of what-it-is-to-be”, e.g., the shape of a statue.
            The efficient cause: “the primary source of the change or rest”, e.g., the artisan, the art of bronze-casting the statue, the man who gives advice, the father of the child.
            The final cause: “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, e.g., health is the end of walking, losing weight, purging, drugs, and surgical tools.

            In many ways, material cause reduces to formal cause as everything is made out of energy (matter was formed from energy).
            If the form of something allows it to direct energy (we call this agency) it can become the efficient cause, but at heart, energy itself is always the efficient cause.
            Final causes are only relevant to life, unless God exists, so the naturalist really only has a problem with objective (i.e. not dependent on an individual organism) final causes.

            If personal causation is a formal cause, then there is not problem for the naturalist. We know that a change in form of the brain can radically alter personal causation, so we have a clear relationship here.
            So formal causation gives rise to personal causation, and humans become the efficient cause of morality, though much of the structure of morality is derived from the form of the human mind (Christians call this conscience).
            Do you not see how poetic naturalism is at least coherent, and doesn't require God except to save objective final causes?
            I actually like Aristotle's system of causes, though I don't think they are fundamental. Quite useful, though :)

          • LHRMSCBrown

            We seem to agree, for, as I already said, regarding the body and soul and the impersonal and personal, perhaps final causes and teleology vis-à-vis Being Itself with respect to The Good and so on might help you if you want to borrow some... I've got some around here somewhere to spare. But then we find ourselves with those pesky incorporeal faculties and powers.

            Hume and Carroll seem content without them given that Reason (in Non-Theism's irrationally derivative sense) as truth-finder finds no moral facts, and rightly concludes, “– Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger…

            Of course, given the absence of those pesky incorporeal faculties and powers, well, you've overreached, and that after having borrowed in the first place.

            Edit: I don't need formal or final causes simply because you've not shown any causal sense yet. I don't see that you've anything *but* nature's four fundamental forces, and those are entirely contingent, hence your move to claim causal closure on *any* X within the universe is grossly misguided. Once you get inside some sort of non-illusory causal ball park then maybe baseball can actually take place.

          • Will

            If my above account of the cause of morality is correct, then Hume and Carroll are correct in a way...reason isn't the source of morality without axioms we don't find outside of human beings (unless God exists). If God doesn't exist, humans are the efficient cause of morality and there would be no moral facts outside of a person. In fact, that's basically what we would observe before humans existed. Where would one find moral facts during the reign of the dinosaurs?
            We know that humans create all kinds of facts. Did congress or government exist before humans? How about an automobile? Certainly the possibility existed, but potency is not actuality. There seems to be the possibility for all kinds of coherent moral constructs and only a few of these have been actualized throughout human history.
            One can talk about naturalism very coherently via Aristotle's system. I'm just asking for a reduction in snarky comments about it. They simply aren't warranted. The question is whether the naturalistic account is better than the theistic one, but personally I like the Spinozan hybrid (I've seen you mention). Don't you think these conversations would be better if we at least come at them with some basic respect for each others views? I respect Aristotle enough to learn a lot about him and his philosophy (which basically underpins classical theism). I disagree with Christianity in that I don't think anything can exist apart from, or independent of, existence itself...i.e. God...which does imply pantheism. If we say God=Nature (but God may be more than just the universe because more than the universe could easily exist) then we are naturalists, though perhaps a theistic variety.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Interestingly your comments create a nice segue into a moral ontology of an irreducible, non-eliminative, kind:

            You stated, “..then Hume and Carroll are correct in a way...reason isn't the source of morality without axioms…”

            Axioms are not relevant given that the Roman Blood Sports satisfy such. One is still within relativism. And that’s the whole point. No objective moral facts exist for reason to even find. We have to just go on our own wish fulfillment. The term autohypnosis is not snarky, and, if we really believe we invent moral facts, such that Hume is wrong, and Carroll too, then it is accurate. I know you don't believe we invent moral facts in that sense, but believe it or not some folks do.

            You stated, “Where would one find moral facts during the reign of the dinosaurs? ….We know that humans create all kinds of facts….”

            Axioms are not relevant given that the Roman Blood Sports satisfy such. One is still within relativism. And that’s the whole point. No objective moral facts exist for reason to even find. We have to just go on our own wish fulfillment. The term autohypnosis is not snarky, and, if we really believe we invent moral facts, such that Hume is wrong, and Carroll too, then it is accurate. I know you don't believe we invent moral facts in that sense, but believe it or not some folks do.

            You said, “…I'm just asking for a reduction in snarky comments about it…”

            It is not snarky to point out the fallacious move of asserting that we invent axioms and then changing the term to moral facts. I know you did not mean that in that sense, but, too often, many folks do. It’s reasonable to define such things. It is not snarky to then conclude that on the terms of “axiom/fact” that in fact Roman Blood Sports are morally good and Hume is right that after all “on Non-Theism”. Something akin to privation could change that as such would provide the Non-Theist with a whole new array of metaphysical transcendentals “in-play” but, on Non-Theism, there is no such thing.

            You stated, “…They simply aren't warranted….”

            Well, we just looked at Axiom/Fact and we are still inside of relativism. One can try, along with Carroll, to claim that moral constructivism is *not* moral relativism. If one did make that move, I won’t bother arguing the point as it seems obvious enough that Carroll is (it seems) doing what many folks seem to try: [Invented Axiom] = [Objective Fact]

            That would be (maybe) a false identity claim given that reason cannot find it, on Hume’s terms, which you agreed with. Or perhaps it’s an equivocation if we mean to change the definition of “moral fact”. Or, if we’re assuming *any* teleological “irreducibility” off of which to launch, then it would be (it seems to me) begging the question. Such terms often apply, pending clarification etc.

            “Moral relativism” isn’t helpful for answering Vogt’s analysis with respect to “moral fact”. Roman Blood Sports suffice at the end of the day and, on top of that, there isn’t anything akin to the metaphysical Exemplar, or the metaphysical equivalent of Moral Excellence out there – such as the immutable love of the Necessary Being – for us to ever grow into, motion towards, become, or by which any current state of affairs can be (justifiably) described as “Part Good, part Good-Minus-Something”, as it were (privation). It’s all just good’ol Hume (and now Carroll).

            You stated, “Don't you think these conversations would be better if we at least come at them with some basic respect for each others views?”

            I respect Carroll and you. Easily. I don’t respect statements which read as follows: “X and Not-X are both the same.”

            You stated, “If we say God=Nature (but God may be more than just the universe because more than the universe could easily exist) then we are naturalists, though perhaps a theistic variety.”

            Spinoza seems to leave us within what just is a metaphysical armistice amid eternally colliding ontological equals and thereby we’ve no means by which to find any (ontic) moral *distinction*. David Bentley Hart tells us that – on simplicity – on beauty – on goodness – it is not “Totality”, nor is it “Chaos”, nor is it distinction achieved only by violence among converging equals, but rather it is the compositions of the triune where all vectors of being ultimately converge. “Nietzsche prophesied correctly: what now always lies ahead is a choice between Dionysus (who is also Apollo) and the Crucified: between, that is, the tragic splendor of totality and the inexhaustible beauty of an infinite love.” His book, “The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth” in part explores such contours – a brief excerpt:

            Quote:

            Within Christian theology there is a thought – a story – of the infinite that is also the thought – the story – of beauty; for pagan philosophy and culture, such a confluence of themes was ultimately unthinkable. Even Plotinian Neoplatonism, which brought the Platonic project to its most delightful completion by imagining infinity as an attribute of the One, was nonetheless compelled to imagine the beauty of form as finally subordinate to a formless and abstract simplicity, devoid of internal relation, diminished by reduction to particularity, polluted by contact with matter’s “absolute evil”; nor could later Neoplatonism very comfortably allow that the One was also infinite being, but typically placed being only in the second moment of emanation, not only because the One, if it were also Being, would constitute a bifid form, but because being is always in some sense contaminated by or open to becoming, to movement, and thus is, even in the very splendor of its overflow, also a kind of original contagion, beginning as an almost organic ferment in the noetic realm and ending in the death of matter.

            Christian thought – whose infinite is triune, whose God became incarnate, and whose account of salvation promises not liberation from, but glorification of, material creation – can never separate the formal particularity of beauty from the infinite it announces, and so tells the tale of being in a way that will forever be a scandal to the Greeks. For their parts, classical “metaphysics” [rather than rigorous metaphysics] and postmodernism belong to the same story; each, implying or repeating the other, conceives being as a plain upon which forces of meaning and meaninglessness converge in endless war; according to either, being is known in its oppositions, and oppositions must be overcome or affirmed, but in either case as violence: amid the strife of images and the flow of simulacra, shining form appears always only as an abeyance of death, fragile before the convulsions of chaos, and engulfed in fate. There is a specular infinity in mutually defining opposites: Parmenides and Heracleitos gaze into one another’s eyes, and the story of being springs up between them; just as two mirrors set before one another their depths indefinitely, repeating an opposition that recedes forever along an illusory corridor without end, seeming to span all horizons and contain all things, the dialectic of Apollo and Dionysus oscillates without resolution between endless repetitions of the same emptiness, the same play of reflection and inversion. But the true infinite lies outside and all about this enclosed universe of strife and shadows; it shows itself as beauty and as light: not totality, nor again chaos, but the music of a triune God. Nietzsche prophesied correctly: what now always lies ahead is a choice between Dionysus (who is also Apollo) and the Crucified: between, that is, the tragic splendor of totality and the inexhaustible beauty of an infinite love.

            End quote.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Don't you think these conversations would be better if we at least come at them with some basic respect for each others views?

            It's a shame you weren't here about a month ago to communicate this to the other Will, the one who wrote:

            Perhaps calling something ridiculous when it is ridiculous is a sign of intellectual maturity ... It's fair to ridicule those who come to class without having done their homework.

          • Will

            Have you forgotten why I kick you around? You should know exactly why:

            I agree with you as regards prioritization, but to be clear: I do think that what we believe, at a cognitive level, matters. What we think shapes who we are. It just doesn't completely define who we are. I think many people manage a high level of competence in the way that they live their lives, in spite of very muddled thinking at the conscious level. Nonetheless, it is best to correct errant thinking where we find it.

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/what_do_you_think_of_the_fine_tuning_argument_for_god/#comment-2588547042

            In context it is clear that you are accusing non-theists of "very muddled thinking" which is quite ironic in your case.

            I responded to your statement here, and you didn't even have the guts to admit what you were saying and back it up.

            Please clarify what you mean by muddled and errant thinking. If you mean what I think you mean...

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/what_do_you_think_of_the_fine_tuning_argument_for_god/#comment-2589503929

            Insulting and cowardly together. Are you sure it was a good idea to start this again? Not very Christian of you, is it?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            it is clear that you are accusing non-theists of "very muddled thinking"

            It is not clear at all, unless one has a chip on one's shoulder. I have, on many instances, done my best to correct what I saw as the errant thinking of theists as well as non-theists. I meant the statement very generically.

            I would hope that everyone feels the obligation to try to correct muddled thinking, wherever they find it. Of course I think non-theists have muddled thinking in some respects, and I know they think I have muddled thinking is some respects. That should not be considered offensive, in either direction.

            Not very Christian of you, is it?

            Well, it's probably not very wise of me, since I have many other things to do, and this risks sucking me back into fruitless conversations. But as far as whether it is Christian, well I think I do have some obligation to stand up to unfairness, when I see it.

          • Will

            But as far as whether it is Christian, well I think I do have some obligation to stand up to unfairness, when I see it.

            Fair enough, that's exactly what I thought I was doing (whether either of us was actually doing that or not is a messy complicated affair). I apologize for being so harsh.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            whether either of us was actually doing that or not is a messy complicated affair

            Well said. I apologize for my snippiness as well.

          • Will

            Can you answer the question (unless you just want to play indignant over an insult game which you started, I just showed exactly where, 5 months ago), is personal causation a formal cause? If so, naturalism/determinism don't matter. A formal cause is due to the form...

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edit) Will, I'm sorry but I don't need formal or final causes yet simply because you've not even begun to make causal sense. Without the Good, nor final causes, nor the Human Being which outlives the body, the term "personal" (in Non-Theism) can never mean inside of A-T Meta, or any Theistic dualism, what it means inside of Non-Theism. Non-Theism is left with the fallacy of emergentism, a syntax which is, per Carroll it seems, useful only because of ignorance for in fact the fundamental "it" or "its" *DO* define the rest of the show, the higher levels. And so Form/Structure are illusory. Useful, but not real. Not actual. And thus not ontic. Whereas, the Christian has the wherewithal to rise above the fallacy of emergentism and yet claim all that emergentism claims and more assuming one means form/structure. But it takes all the requisite transcendentals to push it through to the non-fallacious. And, even there, the human being outlives the body, and so, even there, there is a *doer* which is not purely corporeal. The incorporeal faculty, power, *doer* is unavoidable. Survivalism/Corruptionism are looked at in http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/03/so-what-are-you-doing-after-your-funeral.html ~~ That which outlives the body is not impersonal and static, but personal and in motion.

          • Will

            Without The Good, nor final causes, nor the Human Being which outlives the body, the term "personal" (in Non-Theism) can never mean inside of A-T Meta, or any Theistic dualism, what it means inside of Non-Theism. Non-Theism is left with the fallacy of emergentism, a syntax which is, per Carroll it seems, useful only because of ignorance for in fact the fundamental "it" or "its" *DO* define the rest of the show, the higher levels. And so Form/Structure are illusory. Useful, but not real. Not actual.

            This is a non-sequitur, unless you can show formal causes are directly dependent upon final causes. Can you show that? You keep referencing that same Feser blogpost that doesn't help at all. Feser even says that here (full of snark for New Atheists...and no I'm not a new atheist)

            (Postscript for the New Atheist reader: I am well aware, of course, that skeptics wouldn’t agree in the first place that the soul in any sense survives the death of the body, or that there even is such a thing as the soul. But that’s not what this post is about. So, please don’t waste your time or mine with idiotic comments to the effect that this is all superstition, that I haven’t proved that there is a soul, etc. I have, in many other places, given arguments for the claims that the human intellect is incorporeal, that this entails that it can persist beyond the death of the body, etc. -- see e.g. this article, chapter 4 of this book, some of the posts collected here, and so forth. What I am addressing in the above post is merely a question that arises after one is already convinced of arguments of the sort I’ve defended elsewhere.)

            I've given direct arguments using the same definition of soul that Feser is using (soul is the substantial form) that form is drastically altered during the process we call death, and God is only relevant to facilitate a resurrection, and that the form still exists in the past whether God exists or not. I'm just asking that you engage my arguments and approach, but it seems that you can't. If you respond, please only tell me how formal causes require final causes to exist. I can mount an argument as to why a final cause might require a formal cause, though that gets complicated. If you can't tell, I'm quite comfortable using this causal framework.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Formal/Final causes? I don't need formal or final causes yet simply because you've not even begun to make causal sense. And yet you haven't answered my question as to a causal reality, a *doer*, the human being which persists after death. That which outlives the body is not impersonal and static, but personal and in motion. I don't see the point of your point given that it can't account for this. You agree with Feser it seems on this point.

            "Do you not see how poetic naturalism is at least coherent, and doesn't require God except to save objective final causes?"

            Poetic Naturalism is coherent when it comes to causal closure. Oh dear. We'll just grant final causes, and, then, you say, you can take a human being and give us the causally closed map. Wow. I don't see that you've anything *but* nature's four fundamental forces. And those are entirely contingent, so your move to claim causal closure on *any* X within the universe is grossly misguided.

            As for causal closure, are you serious? Materialism? Nature's four fundamental causes are all I see. You've claimed you've accounted for the causal stream of an X within the universe, but you haven't done anything of the kind.

            Since you have causal closure in the A-T Heave Meta Sense all mapped out, where is the evidence that either the universe or the *god* which begets her overcomes both contingency in the weaker sense and contingency in the stronger sense?

            It's not that I mind you borrowing, but, really, "this part matches your part, so therefore my part wins!!"

            Seriously? Here's *your* part:

            “Fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions in physical systems that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four conventionally accepted fundamental interactions—gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Each one is understood as the dynamics of a field. The gravitational force is modelled as a continuous classical field. The other three are each modelled as discrete quantum fields, and exhibit a measurable unit or elementary particle. The two nuclear interactions produce strong forces at minuscule, subatomic distances. The strong nuclear interaction is responsible for the binding of atomic nuclei. The weak nuclear interaction also acts on the nucleus, mediating radioactive decay. Electromagnetism and gravity produce significant forces at macroscopic scales where the effects can be seen directly in everyday life. Electrical and magnetic fields tend to cancel each other out when large collections of objects are considered, so over the largest distances (on the scale of planets and galaxies), gravity tends to be the dominant force.”

            As for the *doer* that outlives the body, please explain what that is on Feser's terms.

          • Will

            It's not that I mind you borrowing, but, really, "this part matches your part, so therefore my part wins!!"

            This causal system belongs to Aristotle! It's not yours, it's not mine, it's not even Christianity's! Christianity borrowed it from a pagan Greek.
            The fact that you just repeat yourself and tell me "my" part even though I haven't said anything of the sort, means to me that this conversation is utterly hopeless. I asked for a simple answer, how do formal causes depend on final causes, and you give me this. Have a good one, I'll try some other time with someone I can communicate with.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            (Edited at 3hr) I don't need formal or final causes yet simply because you've not even begun to make causal sense. I don't see that you've demonstrated *any* of what you say you have. So far, you and Poetic Naturalism are both causally incoherent. Your causal paradigm is fraught with holes, even what appear to be some self-negations, whereas, not the "A" meta, but the A-T Meta, which you are borrowing from (or at least that is what the Christian employs) isn't. So just foisting "Energy" and using "it" as "all the different causes" doesn't work. In fact that is one of the primary deficiencies of your paradigm. It's sort of stuck out there in mid-causal-air. Do you even have a first cause by which to have the others? And, again, as for the *doer* that outlives the body, please explain what that is on Feser's terms. The parts match, say you, so they should be there in your part too. Unless you're talking about some different kind of human being, or, perhaps you're simply missing far too many parts.

            "Energy" seems to be the only "cause" you actually pointed to. Then you foisted what sums to nothing more than Energy X Energy X Many Layers = Agency. (You stacked up layers of energy, called it a Form, and then renamed it Agency). Given the fallacy of emergentism, your syntax of distinction here seems illusory.

            Do neurons *do* anything? I don't see that they do, on Carroll's terms. The fermions which make up the neurons *are* the neurons, and *they* are subject only to nature's four fundamental forces. This is why Carroll seems to allude to the fact that the higher levels are illusory. We can see how, causally speaking, we have no distinct (ontological, non-illusory) first cause nor other causes, but we do have those four fundamental forces. Carroll seems to think that eventually they will define all the other layers, such that there won't actually be baseball.

            I say all this to say that you're making some grand, sweeping claims.... even that Poetic Naturalism is causally coherent and does not need God but for final causes. The truth is, I don't see that you've demonstrated *any* causes other than the following, and you (your paradigm) can't even get *those* out of the box coherently without those pesky self-contradictions:

            “Fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions in physical systems that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four conventionally accepted fundamental interactions — gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Each one is understood as the dynamics of a field. The gravitational force is modelled as a continuous classical field. The other three are each modelled as discrete quantum fields, and exhibit a measurable unit or elementary particle. The two nuclear interactions produce strong forces at minuscule, subatomic distances. The strong nuclear interaction is responsible for the binding of atomic nuclei. The weak nuclear interaction also acts on the nucleus, mediating radioactive decay. Electromagnetism and gravity produce significant forces at macroscopic scales where the effects can be seen directly in everyday life. Electrical and magnetic fields tend to cancel each other out when large collections of objects are considered, so over the largest distances (on the scale of planets and galaxies), gravity tends to be the dominant force.”

          • Will

            From what you are saying, you don't seem to understand my approach here, but I'll let it go. Just fyi, Aristotle makes it pretty clear that the soul is inseparable from the body

            A key question for the ancient Greeks (as it still is for many people today) is whether the soul can exist independently of the body. (Anyone who believes in personal immortality is committed to the independent existence of the soul.) Plato (as we know from the Phaedo) certainly thought that the soul could exist separately. Here is what Aristotle has to say on this topic:
            . . . the soul does not exist without a body and yet is not itself a kind of body. For it is not a body, but something which belongs to a body, and for this reason exists in a body, and in a body of such-and-such a kind (414a20ff).
            So on Aristotle’s account, although the soul is not a material object, it is not separable from the body. (When it comes to the intellect, however, Aristotle waffles. See DA III.4)

            https://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/psyche.htm

            Aristotle thinks the intellect might survive because he doesn't realize it is bound to the form of the brain. Aquinas changes this to the entire soul survives because:

            The soul is indeed capable of existence apart from the body at death. This incorruptibility results from the actualities of understanding and willing that are not the actualities of any bodily organ, but of the human animal as such distinguished by the rational form. However, Thomas merely concludes from this fact that the soul is a “particular thing” and thus a subsistent after the death of the body.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/#BodSou

            Talking about deficiencies and errors, that's a pretty big one, in my mind. I'm quite close to Aristotle, I just disagree about the binding of the intellect to the form of the brain, and I have EXCELLENT evidence to support that claim. We even can prove genetic relationships to intelligence, such is the deep bind between the formal cause that is the form of the human body, and the intellect.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Will, I'm sorry, but I don't need formal or final causes simply because you've not even begun to make causal sense yet. Not even close. Causal closure? Please. As for interactions (brain damage, etc.....), dualism predicts that too, so it's a wash. As for the rest of what you said, what part of the following did you not understand:

            "Do you not see how poetic naturalism is at least coherent, and doesn't require God except to save objective final causes?" Oh dear. Causal closure. Seriously? We'll just grant final causes, and, then, you say, you can take a human being and give us the causally closed map. Wow.

            I don't see that you've demonstrated *any* of what you say you have. So far, you and Poetic Naturalism are both causally incoherent. Your causal paradigm is fraught with holes, even what appear to be some self-negations, whereas, not the "A" meta, but the A-T Meta, which you are borrowing from (or at least that is what the Christian employs) isn't.

            Just foisting "Energy" and using "it" as "all the different causes" doesn't work. But that's all you've done. In fact that is one of the primary deficiencies of your paradigm. It's sort of stuck out there in mid-causal-air.

            "Energy" seems to be the only "cause" you actually pointed to. Then you foisted what sums to nothing more than Energy X Energy X Many Layers = Agency. (You stacked up layers of energy, called it a Form, and then renamed it Agency). Given the fallacy of emergentism, your syntax of distinction here seems illusory. I don't see that you've anything *but* nature's four fundamental forces. And those are entirely contingent, so your move to claim causal closure on *any* X within the universe is grossly misguided.

            I say all this to say that you're making some grand, sweeping claims.... even that Poetic Naturalism is causally coherent and does not need God but for final causes. The truth is, I don't see that you've demonstrated *any* causes other than the following, and you (your paradigm) can't even get *those* out of the box coherently without those pesky self-contradictions:

            “Fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions in physical systems that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are.........."

            Lastly: Where is the evidence that either the universe or the *god* which begets her overcomes both contingency in the weaker sense and contingency in the stronger sense? Also, where is the QED? What we get, have gotten, so far at least, is not an answer but merely just-so-hints that there is, if we only allow the possibility, lurking somewhere in the recesses of the Non-Theist’s mind, a secret body of evidence. But what we never see is the actual evidence itself, the actual QED/demonstration itself.

            Since we have not seen those three – and reason rightly demands all three – then reason and science and the evidence assure us that it is the Christian, and not our Non-Theist friends, for whom this entire affair is “…not an expression of blind faith but precisely a condemnation of blind faith…”

            I hope you can see that your paradigm can't do magical things, like invent forces. I'll repeat myself: I don't need formal or final causes simply because you've not shown any causal sense yet. I don't see that you've anything *but* nature's four fundamental forces, and those are entirely contingent,hence your move to claim causal closure on *any* X within the universe is grossly misguided. Once you get inside some sort of non-illusory causal ball park then maybe baseball can actually take place.

          • LHRMSCBrown

            Perhaps you should talk about baseball. Is it real? I hope you can see that your paradigm can't do magical things, like invent forces. I'll repeat myself: I don't need formal or final causes simply because you've not shown any causal sense yet. I don't see that you've got anything *but* nature's four fundamental forces, and those are entirely contingent, hence your move in this thread to claim causal closure on *any* X within the universe has been grossly misguided. I'm not sure you're aware of just what sort of baggage Poetic Naturalism is under within causal reality. Stacking up "Energy" levels (E X E X E X E) just doesn't go through. That you claimed earlier that it was coherent (causally speaking) for everything except final causes is inexplicable. I'll just grant you final causes. Heck. You can't even get off the ground, even with that gift, regarding Poetic Naturalism's "complete but for final causes" assertion of yours (and that hold for *any* X in the universe). It's not that you're missing parts and have huge holes in your causal paradigm. You are and you do. But that is only a "sort of" problem. The real problem comes in the array of various reductio ad absurdum-s that come from allowing you to foist your attempt at a causal paradigm. It's costly. So costly that it cannot self-pay. That's the reason I don't need formal or final causes yet. You've just not done the work you think you've done.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, persons are both formal causes (the "form" of my life is part of what determines who I am) and, very importantly, they are also efficient causes, which is to say, people can cause things to happen. The essential divergence with Carroll's flavor of naturalism is that, on Catholic anthropology, the form of a person is an irreducible efficient cause. It can not be reduced to the four fundamental forces. It is an irreducible cause in its own right.

            By the way when you write things like this:

            The forms (I use plural because the form of 20 year old person is noticeably different from the form of the same 60 year old person) of the living person exist, but only in the past.

            You are missing the essential point that the soul is the shape of the totality of one's life. It is a "four dimensional form", not a three dimensional one. It's not like Aquinas and others didn't realize that bodies change shape, both in life and in death. This is not some shocking finding of modern physiology.

          • Will

            The essential divergence with Carroll's flavor of naturalism is that, on Catholic anthropology, the form of a person is an irreducible efficient cause.

            In a way, it is on naturalism too. The fact that a human is an efficient cause is due to it's formal causation (structure). If that structure is changed in any appreciable way, the nature of it's efficient causation (decisions and actions) changes as well. Split brain patients are a great example. We could say that we have reduced the brain to two halves, but what have done to the agent's efficient causation? It's drastically altered, and thus not the same efficient cause (though similar in many ways)

            You are missing the essential point that the soul is the shape of the totality of one's life. It is a "four dimensional form", not a three dimensional one. It's not like Aquinas and others didn't realize that bodies change shape, both in life and in death. This is not some shocking finding of modern physiology.

            Are you familiar with philosophy of personal identity? Breaking the person into time-slices is very important in many approaches. If I'm not mistaken, Aquinas thought ones 30-35 year old form would be what's resurrected in heaven, not the form of a child. Is there any way the entire 4 dimensional soul could be resurrected (except via a complete set of memories of one's entire life). The 4 dimensional form is a series of 3 dimensional time slices, which can be analyzed individually.

            This is not some shocking finding of modern physiology.

            Obviously not, but it is a critical part of understanding personal identity, and I don't thi We don't hold children accountable in the same way as an adult because it's form is not fully developed. The perfect form (a 25-30 year old adult) begins to degrade as one ages, and senile persons aren't held responsible the same as a normal adult either. Trying to say all of the slices in the series are the same form becomes deeply problematic to say the least, but clearly there is a relationship between the slices. I like the closest continuer approach myself. Closest continuer does have problems in certain (unrealistic) thought experiments, but that's true of every approach to personal identity.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-ethics/

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            In a way, it is on naturalism too.

            Maybe on some forms of naturalism it is, but it sounds to me like Carroll is saying that personal causation (and even causation itself!) is reducible to four fundamental forces, give or take some fuzz around the edges that our physical model refinements may eventually subsume.

            Are you familiar with philosophy of personal identity?

            Nope, not really. Thanks for the links. Looks like some interesting stuff there.

            If I'm not mistaken, Aquinas thought ones 30-35 year old form would be what's resurrected in heaven

            I've heard this as well, though I've never gone back to the sources to try to uncover his reasoning. On the surface it sounds like a conclusion that I would be highly suspicious of, but it's possible this is because I don't have a very precise understanding of what he is trying to convey.

            Is there any way the entire 4 dimensional soul could be resurrected?

            I don't see how it would be possible in time, but the general resurrection is thought to be something that will happen "at the end of the age", i.e. when time has been "integrated out", so to speak. As for the resurrection of Jesus, that was (on Gospel accounts) experienced in time, but it was it was an event that was "not limited by space and time" (per the RCC catechism, emphasis mine).

          • Will

            Maybe on some forms of naturalism it is, but it sounds to me like Carroll is saying that personal causation (and even causation itself!) is reducible to four fundamental forces, give or take some fuzz around the edges that our physical model refinements may eventually subsume.

            Carroll basically rejects causation because it's not found in fundamental physics, and the fact that for any event, almost everything involved is a cause (i.e. the previous state of the universe in it's entirety). He also rejects both upward and downward causation, thus he doesn't have much to say about causes, except they are useful.
            Leaving all of that aside, I don't think it matters what a formal cause is composed of (the matter). Maybe this is helpful:

            Aristotle defines X's matter as "that out of which" X is made.[1] For example, letters are the matter of syllables.[2] Thus, "matter" is a relative term:[3] an object counts as matter relative to something else. For example, clay is matter relative to a brick because a brick is made of clay, whereas bricks are matter relative to a brick house.

            Change is analyzed as a material transformation: matter is what undergoes a change of form.[4] For example, consider a lump of bronze that's shaped into a statue. Bronze is the matter, and this matter loses one form (that of a lump) and gains a new form (that of a statue).[5][6]

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hylomorphism

            Thus, even if the matter in the hylomorphism is, at root, only the 4 forces of physics, the formal cause still exists because of the form structure. There are various ways to interpret hylomorphism, but the one I'm using resolves some serious objections to the concept like this one:

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-psychology/suppl1.html

            Appealing to the structure of the cells themselves resolves the change at death, the form truly is radically different it just isn't completely apparent to person looking at the outside of the body. It's pretty clear, scientifically, that the form of each human being is quite unique, even signficant differences can be found in the brains of identical twins. This form really is irreducibly unique, in my mind.

            I don't see how it would be possible in time, but the general resurrection is thought to be something that will happen "at the end of the age", i.e. when time has been "integrated out", so to speak. As for the resurrection of Jesus, that was (on Gospel accounts) experienced in time, but it was it was an event that was "not limited by space and time" (per the RCC catechism, emphasis mine).

            Will there be a new form of time? I find the idea interesting, but if there is no time, isn't their no change? Heaven would be pretty boring if we were all frozen. In fact, physics predicts time will end when entropy reaches equilibrium in the universe (unless there is some mechanism to reset it, which is possible). Realizing that entropy may be critical for time to exist is pretty interesting. Could there be time without entropy (which is related to chaos, and typically considered a bad thing)? Maybe, but it would be drastically different than ours. Who knows, maybe there is some relationship between entropy and evil, but now I'm rambling :)

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Just taking your first point for now:

            Carroll basically rejects causation because it's not found in fundamental physics

            The argument for that that I've seen is (paraphrasing) : "you don't see causation in the equations". But just because you suppress something in your notation doesn't mean you've extricated it from your conceptual reasoning. If you focus on the equations and not on how the equations reference reality, you can deceive yourself. Consider the following alternative viewpoint from Judea Pearl:

            For example, Ohm's law (V=IR) asserts that the ratio between the current (I) and the voltage (V) across a resistor remains constant for all values of I, including yet-unobserved values of I. We usually express this claim in a function or a hypothetical sentence: "Had the current in the resistor been I (instead of the observed value I_0) the voltage would have been V = I (V_0 / I_0)," knowing perfectly well that there is no way to simultaneously measure I and I_0

            http://ftp.cs.ucla.edu/pub/stat_ser/R269.pdf

            When people need to be explicit about their causal reasoning, they employ notation such as is used in Rubin's causal model notation (analogous to what you see in the quote above) or in Pearl's structural causal model notation.