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Old 04-29-2012, 17:12   #1
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Clever Arguments

I have long maintained that reason is merely a data-processing engine; good at things like logic, inference, deduction, analysis, and synthesis. But cannot perceive truth. Reason can be fooled with stuff like this:

Max is a cat;
all cats are green;
THEREFORE, Max is green.

Perfectly good syllogism, but clearly a false conclusion. Here's another example:

If God is good; and
if God is omniscient; and
if God is omnipresent; and
if God is omnipotent,
then why is there pain (or evil) in the world?

I think the problem is in the first premise: God is not "good". That is, God is not the sort of thing that does what I like, necessarily. Those who "eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" are people who act on the basis of their own understanding of what they like ("good") and what they dislike ("evil"). Jesus, of course, stands this definition on its head:
Quote:
Then a ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what am I to do to inherit life eternal?" Jesus said to him, "Why call me, 'good'? No one is good, no one but God."
Lk 18:18-19. The principle Jesus applies is basically what God said to identify himself for Moses: "I am that I am, tell them that the I AM sent you." God is what God is, and God is the only definition of what is "good", by Jesus' standard. Any deity that can be conjured to do what I like, merely because I think what I like is "good", is not God. So if the tsunami kills hundreds of thousands, that must be "good". It's how I condition my thinking about it based on my identification with the people killed and my own desire for self-preservation that's "evil".

And, as to that latter point, Jesus consistently points out that the drive for self-preservation is the thing that will kill us spiritually: "He who would save his life shall lose it, but he who would lose his life for my sake, shall gain it."; and, "From him who has not, what little he has shall be taken away."; and, "He would be my disciple must die to self daily, take up his cross, and follow me."

But this is not a matter of intellect or reason. Self-absorbed, self-important, self-worship is fed by clever argument and intellectual word games. The fact that some folks have an amazing capacity for rhetoric and argument has absolutely nothing to do with their spiritual health or their ability to guide others. Such people are too busy eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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Confucius said to Lao Tzu, 'Some people try to grasp the Tao through argument. They try to make what is impossible seem possible. They try to make what is not seem as if it is. Like debaters, they make pointless distinctions and then claim they are actually significant — as real as this roof! Can such people as this be called sages?'

`Such people are like workers kept in bondage,' replied Lao Tzu,`wearing out their bodies and bringing anxiety to their hearts. Like the dog who is tied to a leash because he catches vermin, or the monkey which is brought down from the mountains because it is skilful. Confucius, I'm telling you, telling you something you have not heard of and cannot discuss. Those who have heads and feet but no heart and no ears are numerous. Those who have their bodies but who value that which is without body or form, are virtually unheard of? Life stops and starts, is born and dies, grows and declines, and there is nothing which can be done about this. People think the ruler of all this is humanity. Forget that, forget Heaven and be known as one of those who forget self. The person who forgets self can be known as the one who enters Heaven.'
Excerpt fr/"The Book of Chuang Tzu", Martin Palmer, trans.; 1996 by Penguin Books, NY NY., pp. 97-98.
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Old 04-29-2012, 17:47   #2
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Quote:
Max is a cat;
all cats are green;
THEREFORE, Max is green.

Perfectly good syllogism, but clearly a false conclusion.
You might want to review this a little more.

Perhaps you meant:

All cats are green.
Max is green.
Therefore, Max is a cat.

-ArtificialGrape

Last edited by ArtificialGrape; 04-29-2012 at 17:52..
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Old 04-29-2012, 18:30   #3
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Originally Posted by user View Post

But this is not a matter of intellect or reason. Self-absorbed, self-important, self-worship is fed by clever argument and intellectual word games. The fact that some folks have an amazing capacity for rhetoric and argument has absolutely nothing to do with their spiritual health or their ability to guide others. Such people are too busy eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I'm a speck of complete insignificance here for only a short time with no purpose other than to understand what I can while I'm here simply because it pleases me to do so, according to my beliefs.

But it was all created for you, and the master architect has a deep interest in your diet and sex life and if you play your cards right things will get even better when you die, according to your beliefs.

Who's self absorbed and self important again? Seems to me like you may be a bit butthurt that your camp isn't as good at making a coherent argument backed by facts for your perspective as the other camp is so now you're poo pooing the very concept of making a coherent argument as... EVIL?


Pu-leeze.

Maybe would've been a whole lot more honest to just say, "You know those guys that always make more sense than us? Well that's just the devil's sharp tongue doing their talking for them." Sure is easier than considering that maybe your made story was made up with way too many holes in it.

Keep trying to comfort yourself with the lie that your belief system is the one concept that lies outside the requirement to be reasonable and logical to be understood. Not like you've got anything else.

Last edited by Gunhaver; 04-29-2012 at 18:32.. Reason: Oh yeah, I toned it down a bit believe it or not.
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Old 04-29-2012, 18:33   #4
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You might want to review this a little more. [ ... ]
Religious Issues
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:46   #5
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What's funny in this is that my original post was really directed at the "orthodox" who rely on Aquinas' system to justify their religion on the basis of "authority", and the "fundamentalists" who think that the Bible is a science textbook. It wasn't an attack on reason, but an attempt to show that reason, like all human faculties, is designed for a purpose and it doesn't do well outside the scope of its employment. Eyeballs, for instance - mine don't see in the infrared or ultraviolet ranges so well, though I have reason to think those frequencies exist. In fact, I don't see "red" so well, either, being color-blind. Reason is a useful tool, but it does not create the perception of truth. It only makes conclusions based on what one already believes is true.

There are people who have spiritual awareness who do have an ability to perceive truth in ways not dependent on the time/space/dimensionality universe. And some of you may think this is nonsense because you no personal experience of that perception, which proposition to me is identical in structure to my saying that "red" does not exist because I've never seen it.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:34   #6
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I haven't seen the Easter Bunny but am pretty sure he doesn't exist, same applies for any god people think exists. Modus Ponens.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:09   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user View Post
I have long maintained that reason is merely a data-processing engine; good at things like logic, inference, deduction, analysis, and synthesis. But cannot perceive truth. Reason can be fooled with stuff like this:

Max is a cat;
all cats are green;
THEREFORE, Max is green.

Perfectly good syllogism, but clearly a false conclusion.
Well, one of the premises there is false. Why would you expect the conclusion to be true?

Quote:
Here's another example:

If God is good; and
if God is omniscient; and
if God is omnipresent; and
if God is omnipotent,
then why is there pain (or evil) in the world?

I think the problem is in the first premise: God is not "good". That is, God is not the sort of thing that does what I like, necessarily.
The point of the argument is that one of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent cannot be true because the fact that evil exists leads to a logical contradiction if all of "omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient" are true. Stating "God isn't omnibenevolent" doesn't invalidate the argument, it just removes one of the conditions that bring about the logical contradiction. Which in a way is validating the argument.

In other words, the argument is actually that if you take the following four premises:

1) God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful).
2) God is omniscient (that is, all-knowing)
3) God is perfectly good.
4) Evil exists

You can derive the statement "God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good" (i.e. "not (1 and 2 and 3)") *and* the statement "God is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good" (i.e. "1 and 2 and 3"), and those two statements contradict each other, meaning that premises 1 through 4 cannot all be true at the same time. Since we know premise 4 *is* true, one of the other three has to be false.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:45   #8
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Originally Posted by void * View Post
Well, one of the premises there is false. Why would you expect the conclusion to be true?



The point of the argument is that one of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent cannot be true because the fact that evil exists leads to a logical contradiction if all of "omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient" are true. Stating "God isn't omnibenevolent" doesn't invalidate the argument, it just removes one of the conditions that bring about the logical contradiction. Which in a way is validating the argument.

In other words, the argument is actually that if you take the following four premises:

1) God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful).
2) God is omniscient (that is, all-knowing)
3) God is perfectly good.
4) Evil exists

You can derive the statement "God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good" (i.e. "not (1 and 2 and 3)") *and* the statement "God is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good" (i.e. "1 and 2 and 3"), and those two statements contradict each other, meaning that premises 1 through 4 cannot all be true at the same time. Since we know premise 4 *is* true, one of the other three has to be false.
You haven't shown that the existence of evil necessarily precludes an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:49   #9
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Originally Posted by WS6 View Post
You haven't shown that the existence of evil necessarily precludes an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God.
Well, first off, that doesn't change my point (that stating god is not omni-benevolent does not invalidate the argument, because the argument actually states that one of omni-benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent cannot be true). In other words, I am not necessarily arguing here that it is necessarily true that the argument is valid, I am saying that calling one of the premises false is not an invalidation of the argument, because the argument is actually that one of those premises has to be false.


Second, I might as well just link to the full thing:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/

Which leaves us with:
(1) God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful).
(2) God is omniscient (that is, all-knowing).
(3) God is perfectly good.
(4) Evil exists.
(5) A set of statements is logically inconsistent if and only if: (a) that set includes a direct contradiction of the form “p & not-p”; or (b) a direct contradiction can be deduced from that set.
(6) If God is omnipotent, he would be able to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.
(7) If God is omniscient, he would know about all of the evil and suffering in the world and would know how to eliminate or prevent it.
(8) If God is perfectly good, he would want to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.
(9) If God knows about all of the evil and suffering in the world, knows how to eliminate or prevent it, is powerful enough to prevent it, and yet does not prevent it, he must not be perfectly good.
(10) If God knows about all of the evil and suffering, knows how to eliminate or prevent it, wants to prevent it, and yet does not do so, he must not be all- powerful.
(11) If God is powerful enough to prevent all of the evil and suffering, wants to do so, and yet does not, he must not know about all of the suffering or know how to eliminate or prevent it—that is, he must not be all-knowing.
(12) If evil and suffering exist, then God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good.

9->11 give you 12 (which is basically "^(1 & 2 & 3)"), you derive "1 & 2 & 3" just by taking 1 and 2 and 3.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:06   #10
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From your linked article:
Quote:
The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world.
Okay.
Quote:
If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering.
Okay.
Quote:
Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it.
Okay.
Quote:
And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering.
Okay.
Quote:
These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists a perfectly good God.
How so?
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:06   #11
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Originally Posted by user View Post
I have long maintained that reason is merely a data-processing engine; good at things like logic, inference, deduction, analysis, and synthesis. But cannot perceive truth. Reason can be fooled with stuff like this:

Max is a cat;
all cats are green;
THEREFORE, Max is green.

Perfectly good syllogism, but clearly a false conclusion.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:10   #12
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Originally Posted by WS6 View Post
From your linked article:

Okay.

Okay.

Okay.

Okay.

How so?
Well, before we get into that, are you okay with:
(6) If God is omnipotent, he would be able to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.
(7) If God is omniscient, he would know about all of the evil and suffering in the world and would know how to eliminate or prevent it.
(8) If God is perfectly good, he would want to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.

Actually, just read the whole thing. It gets into the argument, and counterarguments, what has to be true for the argument to be false, etc. My only point was that saying "this premise is false" where the premise in question is 1, 2 or 3 is not actually a counterargument, because the argument's whole point is that one of those premises has to be false. There are formulations of the entire argument that lead to it not contradicting, the problem is we don't know if the premises that lead to those formulations are true or not.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:13   #13
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[ ... ]Second, I might as well just link to the full thing:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/

Which leaves us with:
(1) God is omnipotent (that is, all-powerful).
(2) God is omniscient (that is, all-knowing).
(3) God is perfectly good.
(4) Evil exists.
(5) A set of statements is logically inconsistent if and only if: (a) that set includes a direct contradiction of the form “p & not-p”; or (b) a direct contradiction can be deduced from that set.
(6) If God is omnipotent, he would be able to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.
(7) If God is omniscient, he would know about all of the evil and suffering in the world and would know how to eliminate or prevent it.
(8) If God is perfectly good, he would want to prevent all of the evil and suffering in the world.
(9) If God knows about all of the evil and suffering in the world, knows how to eliminate or prevent it, is powerful enough to prevent it, and yet does not prevent it, he must not be perfectly good.
(10) If God knows about all of the evil and suffering, knows how to eliminate or prevent it, wants to prevent it, and yet does not do so, he must not be all- powerful.
(11) If God is powerful enough to prevent all of the evil and suffering, wants to do so, and yet does not, he must not know about all of the suffering or know how to eliminate or prevent it—that is, he must not be all-knowing.
(12) If evil and suffering exist, then God is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, or not perfectly good.

9->11 give you 12 (which is basically "^(1 & 2 & 3)"), you derive "1 & 2 & 3" just by taking 1 and 2 and 3.
What necessitates the curtailment of evil immediately in the here and now, to prove that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being?
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:19   #14
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Originally Posted by user View Post
Max is a cat;
all cats are green;
THEREFORE, Max is green.
...
Yes, Max is green.

Lols. The thread that proves exactly what it set out to disprove.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:27   #15
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What necessitates the curtailment of evil immediately in the here and now, to prove that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being?
If he can't curtail it in the here and now (actually, to be more precise, if he couldn't curtail it long, long ago), how is he omnipotent?
If he didn't want to curtail it long, long ago, how is he omnibenevolent?
If he didn't know how to curtail it long, long ago, how is he omniscient?
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:09   #16
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The Riddle of Epicuris again.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:34   #17
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user, I read another post in another thread that leads me to think you are not actually saying 'omni-benevolence is not true', but that 'evil does not exist'. Is that accurate, or am I missing something?
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Old 04-30-2012, 18:41   #18
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I reckon that proves my point about "clever arguments". People go on and on about what makes sense logically, based entirely on reason, and having no perception of truth through the Holy Spirit. Or "gut instinct", "intuition", or "Henry", or whatever you choose to call the communications link between our spiritual awareness and the Mind of God - it doesn't care what you call it, it works the same for everyone who uses it. Thing is, unless one "knows" the truth value of the proposition, "all cats are green", one is led to a false conclusion by the syllogism.

The point of the good and evil thing is summed up in the story from Genesis: Adam and Eve "ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"; in other words, they consumed the product of their ability to distinguish between what they like and what they don't like. Both "good" and "evil" are products of one's worldview, his own personal model of the Universe he keeps in his head that provides a software interface to the hardware of reality. People who start talking as if "good" and "evil", the products of their own imagination, had an existential reality in and of themselves, are simply indulging in self-absorbtion. In other words, they're "eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." And to assert that The God is somehow limited by constructs of their own mental databases suggests that the god they recognize is also a construct of their own imagination. I'm convinced that some people who call themselves "atheists" are simply reacting to the hogwash other people parade around as "god", and assert that, because no such entity has shown up in their own models, it does not exist. Sort of like the Easter Bunny, in one person's example.

The real problem here is the failure to recognize that one's personal model of the universe is merely a model, and not the "real" universe. In Hinduism, this error is called, "Maya", the "wall of illusion". We indulge in the illusion that our personal world is real and that there is no reality apart from it. We assume that things that are bad for people are "evil" because we identify with the people who suffer. The eruption of Vesuvius, for example.

Unless one can recognize that God is the source of all reality and the ground of all being, and that whatever God does is "good", whether we like it or not, he is merely indulging in self-worship. That's the way original sin is, "eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil": self-indulgence, self-absorbtion, self-worship, due to an ego-centric worldview. Such people will not survive the transition, regardless of their clever arguments or religious mumbo-jumbo.
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Old 04-30-2012, 18:54   #19
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So, is that a yes or a no to my question?
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Old 04-30-2012, 18:55   #20
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user, I read another post in another thread that leads me to think you are not actually saying 'omni-benevolence is not true', but that 'evil does not exist'. Is that accurate, or am I missing something?
Uh, sorta. If by "omni-benevolence is not true", we mean that God's operative principle is not love, then you're right, I'm not saying that. On the other hand, God is not a human, and my use of the word, "love", to describe or attribute a characteristic to God is merely an analogy. But it's as close as I can get to expressing the truth in human language.

On the other hand, I don't really believe that "evil does not exist"; what I think is that what we think of as "evil" has no independent existential reality, it's a construct of the mind, and means, "that which I dislike". On the other hand, Jesus redefined the word, "good", in a way that creates new meaning for "evil": "I wonder why you call ME 'good', for no man is 'good', only God is good.", he said. Lk. 18:19. When he makes that statement, he's asserting that our personal values that we call "good" and "evil" are pointless, futile, void, useless. If only God is "good", then that which we do that keeps us apart from God is the only "evil". Doesn't matter whether we like it or not, it is what it is. Exodus 3:14.

People who worship a "good" god are merely worshipping an idol, a creation of their own mind, a being that only does what they like.
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