221 thoughts on “THE moral code

  1. keiths,

    I am assuming God to be wise, since, by definition, he is everything, perfect, which means wise. Your objection that God could be intelligent but not wise implies an incomplete god, a demigod, a less than perfect god. This would go against every definition of God we have today. That’s why the Old Testament God is so ridiculous, depicting God as jealous, petty and mean spirited. That God is no different than the Olympian gods who acted out of jealousy, vengeance, petty rivalry etc. Those are all human attributes which were pasted on their conception of God out of sheer inability to imagine a perfect God. If we are going to talk about God at all, it has to be a perfect God, otherwise we could imagine another God more perfect than the last one, and so on.

    The only thing worth arguing about is the nature of evil. Is there such a thing as evil, or a person who is pure evil? I don’t think so. In fiction writing classes, for example, one of the first things they teach you is that you can’t make the antagonist purely evil. More importantly, the antagonist doesn’t think he is evil. He thinks he is doing right. It is his perception that is faulty. Even if he realizes that it is his fear of being killed, or hurt in some way, that drives him to do something abhorrent, he will convince himself that it is the only thing he can do to survive. There is no person, unless he is mentally deranged, that decides he is going to do something evil for the sake of it. He will always convince himself that he is in the right, that he has ample justification for what he is about to do.

    Now, there are people who don’t buy that. They think there is such a thing as pure evil. The idea of Satan was created to embody pure evil. But that, too, is ridiculous on its face. Satan, as the myth goes, was a good angel, God’s favorite, who became either jealous or whose feelings were somehow hurt (sic), so he went against God. Now, how stupid is that. If he was an angel, he must have known God’s omnipotence. So how stupid is he to go against an omnipotent power? Another idea is Satan’s words to the effect that he’d rather rule over hell than be a servant in heaven. That, too, implies a childish view of heaven. Are all angels, humans, etc, slaves in heaven? What kind of heaven did these authors envision? And what is an angel, anyway, if not an entity that has wisdom? This is all such childish drivel that it is not even worth discussing.

    These are all inane stories created by inadequate writers of fiction dealing with their own psychological demons and fears. But having said that, realizing those stories to be childish says nothing about whether God exists or not. We should not make the error in logic of punching holes in old myths and then arriving at the conclusion that God does not exist. God, if He does exist, will exist whether we have an accurate image of Him or not. And if He does exist, He must be perfect, by definition, therefore wise, and therefore not evil.

  2. billmaz,

    I am assuming God to be wise, since, by definition, he is everything, perfect, which means wise. Your objection that God could be intelligent but not wise implies an incomplete god, a demigod, a less than perfect god. This would go against every definition of God we have today. That’s why the Old Testament God is so ridiculous, depicting God as jealous, petty and mean spirited. That God is no different than the Olympian gods who acted out of jealousy, vengeance, petty rivalry etc.

    Those examples actually undermine your point, because they show that perfection isn’t a necessary attribute of God. The OT God is unquestionably a god, and so are the Greek deities, yet they are obviously not perfect. Imperfect gods are logically coherent, and they are much easier to reconcile with a world full of evil and suffering.

    If we are going to talk about God at all, it has to be a perfect God, otherwise we could imagine another God more perfect than the last one, and so on.

    Why is that a problem? An imperfect God doesn’t lead to any contradictions, it fits the evidence better, and it avoids the pitfalls associated with an “Omni-God”, such as the contradiction between perfect justice and perfect mercy.

    You might not regard an imperfect God as worthy of worship, but that wouldn’t negate his godhood.

    I think you and William are making the same mistake. You’ve gotten used to thinking about God in a certain way, and that has led you to believe that the characteristics you habitually ascribe to God are necessary characteristics.

    Perfection isn’t necessary.

  3. keiths,

    God has to be the ultimate source of everything. If we have an imperfect “god” then you would ask “Who made him?” You would have to propose another god who made him, and so on, until you got to the source of everything. It is a matter of finding the ultimate being, or energy, or whatever, who does not need another being behind it to have created it. That is the definition of God. In his new book, Why Does the World Exist, Jim Holt examines the age-old question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” He follows the history of philosophy and religion in the quest for a definition of God, the ultimate, eternal source of everything. Anything less than that would not be God, by everyone’s definition.

    My examples of imperfect Greek “gods” and the OT “God” was to make the point that they weren’t gods at all, but simply worshipped as such by primitive beings who thought lightning, the sun, the moon, etc. were gods, or who saw God as a reflection of themselves. No, they do not qualify as gods, even though they were worshipped as gods.

    In the end, it comes to definitions. In our quest for God, we have come to the realization that if there is a God, He has to be perfect by definition, otherwise He wouldn’t qualify as God.

  4. llanitedave,

    It’s not a matter of who provides the definition. It’s philosophical logic. In order to prevent the argument of who created the world, and then who created him who created the world, you have to have a beginning, the One who does not require anyone to have created Him.

  5. The absurdity of infinite regress demonstrates that you do not need a beginning of existence. It’s irrefutable logic.

    Anyone who thinks you solve the problem by inventing a sky fairy who doesn’t require a beginning, is either irrational or insane.

    A first mover sky fairy is certainly one of many possibilities, but it isn’t parsimonious. It’s much simpler to say that a beginning isn’t necessary. It is also consistent with the findings of physics.

    When premises led to absurdities (such as infinite regress) it seems reasonable to suspect your premises are wrong.

  6. petrushka,

    The absurdity of infinite regress demonstrates that you do not need a beginning of existence. It’s irrefutable logic.

    I think it’s the other way around. If an infinite regress is ruled out, then a beginning is a logical necessity.

    However, an infinite regress makes perfect logical sense, just as an infinite progress does (think of the natural numbers). Whether there is a beginning is an empirical question, not a logical one.

    The mistake that theists make is in asserting that if the buck stops somewhere, then that “somewhere” must be God.

  7. It’s not logic, it’s your starting assumptions.
    1. There’s no reason to begin your thought with a “who”.
    2. There’s no reason why the who, even if it exists, must be “perfect”. How do you know it didn’t create a flawed world?

    Philosophical logic has a notable tradition of being beautiful, compelling, and wrong.

  8. billmaz,

    God has to be the ultimate source of everything. If we have an imperfect “god” then you would ask “Who made him?” You would have to propose another god who made him, and so on, until you got to the source of everything.

    Why couldn’t the “ultimate source of everything” be imperfect? Imperfection doesn’t preclude the ability to create.

  9. llanitedave,

    2. There’s no reason why the who, even if it exists, must be “perfect”. How do you know it didn’t create a flawed world?

    And even if the world were perfect, that wouldn’t imply that its creator was also perfect.

  10. I suppose I expressed myself badly.

    The question lurking behind this is whether every event has a cause. This is an untenable position. It forces a choice between infinite regress and the big magical poof.

    If there was a magical poof, than every event does not require a cause.

    If something can exist without a beginning, there is no particular reason to call it god or assign attributes that conveniently correspond to one’s culture bound deity.

    It’s more parsimonious to assert that the concept of causation is somehow defective. The word doesn’t mean what we think it means. Intuition is not satisfactory.

  11. Philosophical logic has a notable tradition of being beautiful, compelling, and wrong.

    Unlike SCIENCE!!! SCIENCE!!! is always right.

  12. You don’t solve the “why something rather than nothing?” question by defining into existence a being who must exist for everything else to exist.

    Personally I don’t think there is anything to that question anyhow. The answer is why not? That nothing is somehow a default state is an intuition of creatures adapted only to the macro world. The reality revealed by science tends to have no respect for common intuition.

  13. Science is never right or wrong. It is provisional.

    Although it is certainly righter than any of your nonsense.

    Logic, wherefore art thou?

  14. Davehooke,

    Personally I don’t think there is anything to that question anyhow. The answer is why not? That nothing is somehow a default state is an intuition of creatures adapted only to the macro world.

    I absolutely agree. There is no philosophical reason why the default should be something rather than nothing. But the question is certainly important, because if you require a reason for something rather than nothing, then you need an explanation, a cause, a primal force. For all we know, everything could have come about on its own, for no reason at all, just because.

  15. I doubt it. I have noted WJM tends to use “not” as a mantra. The use of open-ended questions “what religion do you follow, William?” may be the best approach but I suspect William may be the founding member of the Church of William J. Murray. He clearly (and recently 🙂 ) said “I haven’t read the Bible” at UD.

    William is of course welcome to clarify and I will correct any error.

  16. William J. Murray:My argument only requires that whomever wishes to take up the argument and I agree that a single self-evident, objective (transcending varying conceptual frameworks) moral truth exists.

    I’m not trying to bring a list of do’s and don’ts down from some mountaintop. I leave that to individuals to figure out on their own. I’m just pointing out the glaring flaw in most atheist’s belief systems when it comes to morality.

    Compare Murray’s comment above to one everyone here knows from our good friend William A. Dembski,

    William A. Dembski:As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

    The ideological right of our culture wars have the common theme of attacking other’s models, systems, what have you but never wanting to demonstrate why their own models, systems are somehow better. Very telling that is.

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