If You Build It, They Will Come.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Sweet. It's go time.

Remember before I said I wanted to argue with an athiest? Well, I can now do so. The following is a logical argument broken down by an athiest pertaining to a flaw in the idea of god.

Two qualities which are often attributed to people's gods is that of perfection and that of "creator" - at least of the universe, if not also directly of this planet and all the plants and animals on it. To what degree, if any, are these qualities compatible or incompatible? There are two very good arguments which suggest that they are incompatible; and to the degree that they are valid, the existence of such a god is improbable at the very least, if not impossible.

The first argument is based on the idea that a perfect being quite simply has no need to create anything at all:

1. God is perfect.
2. God deliberately created the universe.
3. Perfection entails the lack of needs or wants.
4. Being perfect, God does not now nor ever has nor ever will have any needs or wants.
5. Deliberate creation entails an effort to satisfy some need or want.
6. Being a creator, God at one time had some need or want.
7. It is impossible to have some need or want and also to never have any need or want.
8. Conclusion: God, if it exists, is either not perfect or has not created anything.

So we can see, if God is perfect, then God can't have any needs or wants and, hence, wouldn't bother creating something. On the other hand, if God deliberately created something, it must have been because of some need or want - even if it were as simple as curiosity.

Before I start, let me say I am not at all religous. Honestly, I've been to church like twice in my life. But I find this debate fascinating. My position is that I believe in a god. Not the God, a god. My views on religion are really different from just about everyone's I've ever met. But I'm not an athiest. I think there is actually more proof for the existance of god. Let me restate that. I think that the arguments that god doesn't exist, are as flawed as the ones that say he does. This one for example.

Premise three is unacceptable. Perfection does not necessarily entail the lack of needs or wants, unless you are perfect at not needing or wanting anything.

per·fect Pronunciation Key (pûrfkt)
1 Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind.
2 Being without defect or blemish: a perfect specimen.
3 Thoroughly skilled or talented in a certain field or area; proficient.
4 Completely suited for a particular purpose or situation: She was the perfect actress for the part.

Perhaps creating the Universe is part of what makes god perfect. There's this dude with all this power, and he decides to use it to make all these worlds and stars and things. He creates this glorious work as only the most perfect of artists could. He starts at least one planet filled with people, plants and animals, as only a perfect creator could. Keeping all that power to himself would, in my opinion, make god selfish, stagnant and lonely, and to rid himself of that and top out at perfect, he made stuff.

Free Will. Religion teaches that God gave us free will, so that we may make our own decisions, decide our own futures, with no coercion from God. If we do good things or bad things it is entirely down to us, God just sits back and watches over us.

This makes no sense at all.
If God knows all things throughout time (as he must, if he is omniscient), then he knows every action I perform, every decision I make throughout my life, before I have done them. If God knows exactly what I am going to do on 10th July, 2030, then how can I do anything other than that?

God, however, being the Creator, had prior knowledge of your actions at the time of the Creation, billions of years ago. He set the universe in motion, knowing all that would happen throughout time.

Try it for yourself.
Right now, this minute, exert your free will.
Do something, anything at all, that you don't think God could have possibly known you were going to do.

Can you do it? Can you surprise God?

If you can, then God is not omniscient - he is not all-knowing. And if he is not omniscient, then how can he be omnipotent - unlimited in his ability?

If you cannot, then how can you think you have free will? You cannot do anything other than that which God already knows you are going to do.

This is so retarded it's almost funny. First of all, I find that most athiests are angry christians or catholics. They use arguments like, "there is no god because Jesus Christ was never divine. He wasn't a prophet, he wasn't the son of God, because... (insert reason here)." Great, you're athiest because you don't think Christ was divine. Way to go brainiac. Jews believe the same thing, but they aren't athiest. Buddhists don't buy into the Christ figure, but they aren't athiest. Your argument boils down to, "There is no god because Christianity is wrong." You are the people who are white bred midwestern small town Americans who have no idea that there is an entire world outside the village limits. And now, onto the compatibility of omniscence and free will.

Ever see that guy stare down the tank at Tienemen Square? That famous video byte of the guy in sandals playing chicken with a ten ton tank and basically winning? That is free will, because I sure as hell wouldn't have done it. "But Joe, maybe God already knew that was going to happen." Yeah, and everytime the video byte starts on the National Geographic channel, I know how its going to end. So now let's say I can go back in time, like the ghost of christmas past, and watch it live as it happened. The guys still got free will, but he's going to do the exact same thing, because you only get free will once. I can't flip a coin and call heads AND tails. I have to pick one. I can't sit here and say, "You know what? Instead of taking Erin to the prom, I'm going to ask Amy... four years ago." You get one chance. You as a human have a singular timeline. You can take it anywhere, but you can't change where you've been. The idea that god is omniscent through time is really the only conceivable way to rationalize his omniscence. Maybe to god, this is all a rerun.

Then does god have the power to change our minds? Sure. But why would he want to? Everything that happens works. There is a reason, there is a purpose, there is a meaning, there is an answer. It's hard to see, I'll give you that. People asked "Where was god on September 11, 2001?" The only way I can answer that question is with another question. What makes you think god is an American? Athiests say that because god is all seeing, all knowing, all powerful, and all caring, then there shouldn't be evil in the world. But there is, so god doesn't exist. Hmm... Good one. Well thought out. But what is evil? Name something evil. Osama bin Laden? Is he evil? To us. To the Afghanistan people who were parading in the streets on Sep 11, not so much. Evil is subjective. It's opinionated. I could say Marilyn Manson is evil, and athiests would take offense saying he's just misunderstood. (I don't think Marilyn Manson is evil, for the record.) So I think the question is really, why do bad things happen to good people. And I'll be damned if I know. I think it's because we cannot see the whole picture. We in the grand scheme of existence, are children. We're the kids screaming "Billy can go to Disney World with his parents, why can't I go too?" or "Kelly's parents let her get her ears pierced, and when I do it, I get grounded! It's just not fair," to the heavens while god is probably saying, "when you're older you'll understand." But we now, like we then, choose not to hear it and proceed to pout and hold our breath until we're blue. Did your parents ever spank you? Ever ground you for "no reason"? Think that's because they didn't love you?

So now I've bashed organized religion, and I've bashed athiesm. If you don't understand where I stand now, then I guess you never will.

My only thought about god is, whatever his name is, he's a utilitarian philosopher.


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