Friday, February 22, 2008

What if...

WOW, what a battle of the minds that has taken place this past week. I have refrained from commenting because, honestly, it would be like a JV player joining the defensive line of the Panthers. Well bad example, the Panthers need help, but you get the point.

Very interesting posts have been left both on
Rob's Rants and on The Barefoot Bum’s blog. This intellectual tennis match has made me become a “free thinker”. Hey wait, I was one before. Anyway, point in here somewhere; I started looking around “the net”, which I am very skilled at, and I found the fab four of atheism, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. And guess what? They filmed a 2 hour round table discussion on their atheistic, theistic, and secular views as well as their experiences in interacting with each of those groups. Now I know I cannot watch this and expect totally understand all the intracies of why atheists believe what they believe but I can gain more insight into the mind of an atheist. Very interesting stuff.

To me one question loomed high above all others, what if we are wrong. Now “we” can apply to any of the three basic groups, atheistic, theistic, and secular, but I want to focus on “my” group, the theistic. I personally have no problems asking the question “what if I am wrong”. From what I gathered one of the “rubs” that the fab four had was the vehemently persistent opposition from theists to question their faith. Admittedly, that probably accounts for more than half of those professing to be Christian. What I am suggesting is that, much like the rise of free thinking atheists seen in society, there is also a growing movement of free thinking Christians and non-Christians. There are groups out there willing to ask some of the same questions that atheists ask. I propose that the people that are getting the most attention are the “squeaky wheel” fundies. I myself have encountered them from all three aforementioned groups.

Bottom line, I am willing to have open, non-defensive discussion on a wide range of philosophical and social topics. I also hope that we move towards having a society where the sensitivity in the discussion of these topics diminishes. The question still remains,
what if you are wrong and I am right?


bookjunky said...

Why is it that Xians love Pascal's wager so much? It is the single most asinine "argument" in your artillery.

You could be wrong about millions of things but the probability is close to zero on most of them, and it's pretty obvious which those are. Christanity is among those with close to zero probability.

Atheists are fully willing and able to look at any evidence Xians present. Most of us have in the past, and continue to be open-minded. The evidence is just not compelling to anyone who doesn't already have "faith".

John Morales said...

I've just read BB's post on this, and feel inclined to address your question.

"The question still remains, what if you’re wrong, but what if I am right?"

Well, if you're right, there's an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent deity. If you're right, this deity chose for my atheistic beliefs to be what they are, which means I'm going to Hell.

See the contradiction? :)

Jake & Elwood Blues said...

What about free will John? That was your choice, not His. Read this I left with BB.

No really Barefoot, I was being serious about the Darwin Award. You don’t know some of the people I associated with in college. Some probably have, or at least should have voluntarily removed themselves from the gene pool. ; )

To be perfectly honest I was not specifically citing Pascal's wager per say but thank you atheist, and the others who have responded here and on my blog, for pigeonholing my blog. Thank you Barefoot for not jumping on that bandwagon, your patience is appreciated.

It seems pretty weak to just say, "Yeah. Pascal's Wager, (i.e. believing in God solely because you are afraid of roasting), is pretty much the lamest thing ever."

Do you really realize how "lame" and over simplified that statement sounds?

Not that I am an expert on Pascal but the wager also highlights benefits of believing in God as well. One point of contention that I noticed was that Pascal believed the creator to be a Judeo-Christian God. I agreed with most of the postings that I read that one could "get it wrong". It is quite a dilemma which leads me to several questions and one statement / question:

1. Is it easier to say there is no God and therefore not have to make a choice or be concerned about the possible consequences of said decision?

2. For argument sake, what if one did get it wrong, assuming there is a creator, what then?

3. Statement: God does not require anyone's belief in Him to exist. If there was a creator would you agree with that statement and what would you postulate from that statement?

Anyway, as I have said before, in my posts I have been stating what my beliefs are and trying to gain more insight into those of others.

To fdqpink/Baal's Bum, and other bloggers here, why is it a waste of a real life hoping for an imaginary next life? What do you think I am I wasting? (time posting here ; ) No seriously, I would be interested to hear your views on this. Something besides just saying believing in God is "lame" dude. Something else besides the obvious all to "well known" answers. (wasting time, energy, money, etc.)

John Morales said...

"What about free will John?"

There is no free will if you're right. Omniscience and omnipotence, remember?

The first means everything that I think, and every choice I make and will make, were known to your proposed deity before I was even born. The second means nothing that happens is other than what it wants.

Note your god-construct, given those attributes, has no free will either (think about it).

Jake & Elwood Blues said...

Your first statement is correct. Everything you will do in your life is already known by God. He does not say, "I didn't see that coming".

Your second statement is incorrect. IMO "It" would probably prefer a perfect world, which was what we had at one point, again according to my beliefs. "It" would have created automatons that care about noting but pleasing their creator.

john morales - "Note your god-construct, given those attributes, has no free will either."

Given your attributes then yes, there would be no free will.

John Morales said...

"Your second statement is incorrect. IMO "It" would probably prefer a perfect world [...]"

Interesting. You don't believe your deity is omnipotent?

Jake & Elwood Blues said...

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Acording to the definition on wikipedia of omnipotence, and would I agree, yes, God is omnipotent. Now you can delve deeper and look at positions such as dipolar theism and Charles Hartshorne who argues further that: (also from Wikipedia)

"Power is influence, and perfect power is perfect influence ... power must be exercised upon something, at least if by power we mean influence, control; but the something controlled cannot be absolutely inert, since the merely passive, that which has no active tendency of its own, is nothing; yet if the something acted upon is itself partly active, then there must be some resistance, however slight, to the "absolute" power, and how can power which is resisted be absolute?"

The argument can be stated as follows:

1) If a being exists, then it must have some active tendency
2) If beings have some active tendency, then they have some power to resist God
3) If beings have the power to resist God, then God does not have absolute power

Man, I can get several posts from this stuff. : )

debbyo said...

So your God knows everything - but can't do anything about?

debbyo said...

If you really wanted to know if you were wrong, you would have thought about this before.

Instead - first you disagree that God is all-powerful. Then you say he is - and present an argument (from Wiki) that says that free will cannot coexist with an all-powerful God. You don't seem to really care whether it adds up or not. Is god omnipotent or do we have free will?

John Morales said...

I too am bemused by the response.

I've said nothing in response because I'm hoping there'll be further posting(s) clarifying the author's belief.

I presume, from what's been written, that J&E hasn't considered what possible rationale there might be for a deity to bother to create a universe in which event and outcome therein from its genesis to its end is known. This seems odd given the attributed benevolence of said deity, for without such a creation no souls need be sent for eternal torture.

Jake & Elwood Blues said...

Debbyo - One word to lead into my response, context. I stated that my belief is that God is omnipotent, however I postulated that one such as yourself could dig deeper and argue different viewpoints. Hence the references from wikipedia of dipolar theism, etc. I apologize for perceived duality of my response.

With that being said, I present for your consideration that omnipotence and "free will" are not mutually exclusive.

Back to wikipedia. There were 5 points in the definition of omnipotence that I have condensed below:

1. God is able to do anything.
2. God is able to do anything that is logically possible for God to do
3. God is able to do anything that God chooses to do.
4. God is able to do anything that is in accord with His own nature.
5. Hold that it is part of God's nature to be consistent and that it would be inconsistent for God to go against His own laws unless there were reasons to do so.

Again I see no reason to infer from those points, and my belief, that omnipotence and "free will" are mutually exclusive.

That leads me to one of other my points that I have said from the start of "all this". When I posted here and on Larry's blog, I agreed that we all have and will continue to have varying opinions on different subject matter. I know that goes without saying but hear me out. What I proposed is that, compared to other theists that you all may have encountered in the past, I am willing to stop, look, listen, and consider a good deal of said varying opinions that are "out there". When I say "out there" I do not mean whacked out "out there", I mean like circulating on the net, in the media, etc. I am not proposing that anyone change their beliefs based on anything that I say. I am just sharing my and other people's views, beliefs, and theories and also reporting what "works for me" as a human being.

John - Very interesting presumption. I have considered that line of thought, not to it's end of course ; ) and I will include a specific response addressing that in my follow blog up to "what if". The way this week is going it may be next week before that happens. Have a good one!

John Morales said...

J&E, of your five distinctions on omnipotence, #5 is categorically distinct from #1..4.

Note the paradoxes multiply as attributes are added to the god-construct: you now append "consistency" ad-hoc.

I note the attribute of "omnipresence" is yet to be considered.


John Morales said...


Hold that it is part of God's nature to be consistent and that it would be inconsistent for God to go against His own laws unless there were reasons to do so.

Translates to:
"God is only able to do that which is not inconsistent to God's laws, unless God has reasons other than God's law".

Now it's phrased just like #1..4, it is no longer obfuscated.