The Invisible God

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 8, 2010 in Video

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Haukur January 9, 2010 at 4:07 am

Wow, a montage of how “chaos reigns” and how awful the world is and how awful human beings are – I find it amazing how often Christians and atheists are in complete agreement on this. Then some incoherent complaint about the Bible requiring translation and a list of different English translations presented as if somehow damning or outrageous. Finally, a Nietzsche(!) quote.

The worldview being argued for in this video looks to me like a sort of Christianity without a god and without hope. How about some enchanted naturalism instead, Luke?

And what is the target audience even supposed to be here? This doesn’t look to me like it would convince anyone of anything.

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Hermes January 9, 2010 at 8:42 am

Haukur, first off, the word ‘worldview’. Why not just use perspective? Why not ‘point of view’? Reality is not an interchangeable world as easy to pick as a storybook.

We share the same planet — the same reality — no matter what your perspective and understanding of it is. In your case, it (your perspective) seems to be strangely distorted.

Distorted? In what way? In your diatribe, you conflate — mangle actually — many things;

* Facts.

* Cynicism.
* Skepticism.

You do this while breezing past the actual point of the video. As if it is not there, spelled out for you. So, I’ll reword it for you;

*** There is no proof of existence of the Christian deity, and plenty that contradicts it being at all. ***

The rest of the video details some of the examples of that lack and you attribute that to cynicism as opposed to skepticism. That you see it disjointed — a montage — is strange since it looks organized and uncluttered to me. Then again, I actually watched the video and followed it from point to point regardless if I agreed with them in whole or in part or not.

The absence of a reply from you — one that actually addresses the point of the video — is as tangible as the absence of the Christian deity.

As homework, I leave you with an assignment; address the Euthyphro Dilemma, and tell me how you would resolve it;

“Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?”^^

Note that the above is not an invitation to go on a tirade about the sins of man and the fallen world. Go stick people on a small blue dot floating in space for a moment, and turn your focus to the deity itself in isolation. Where did it get it’s morals from? Now, when you have that answer, does it reflect reality? Does it match the facts — some of which are listed in the video you did not pay much attention to?

While no fan of Nietzsche myself, the quote speaks to your own perspective when dealing with what anyone else actually is saying. Do you have any obligation to speak the truth? The truth — lower case t … not a Christian concept confined to a ‘worldview’ that makes everyone with a different storybook or even simple observations about reality automatically wrong by biased fiat.

For the record, I personally am a skeptic but not a cynic. I think highly of the human species as well as many other creatures. Keeping with just the humans, a majority consider your deity to be just as the video describes; non-existent, not credible, and simply the deity of someone else’s religion. Get over yourself and deal with reality. Deal with facts.

^^ Euthyphro: http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/christian-ethics/divine-command-theory/the-euthyphro-dilemma

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ayer January 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Hermes: As homework, I leave you with an assignment; address the Euthyphro Dilemma, and tell me how you would resolve it;

I know this was not my “assignment,” but the Euthyphro “dilemma” is (to use one of Barack Obama’s favorite phrases) a “false choice,” as William Lane Craig has explained, e.g. here in his debate with Corey Washington:

“As for objective moral values, Dr. Washington proposes the Euthyphro dilemma, that either the good is what God wills, or else whatever God wills is good. I would say that this is a false dilemma. You split the horns of the dilemma by saying that the good is the very nature of God and that the commands of God flow necessarily out of His moral nature. Because God is just, He commands things that are for us just. So the good is neither arbitrary, nor is it something outside and above God. Rather the good is the moral nature of God Himself, which is expressed necessarily in His moral commands, which become for us our moral duties”
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/washdeba-craig3.html

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Haukur January 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hermes, your post looks like a reply to something completely different than what I wrote. You say that my ‘perspective’ is ‘strangely distorted’ because I have ‘mangled’, among other things, ‘facts’, ‘cynicism’ and ‘skepticism’. I have no idea what you’re getting at here and the same goes for most of the rest of your post.

You want me to answer the Euthyphro Dilemma. Well, for one thing it’s a false dichotomy. For another thing, we can do our best to live a pious life while admitting that there are deep philosophical questions we don’t know the answer to. Socrates didn’t offer an answer to the dilemma and went on to be condemned to death – but his last actions were pious religious acts (request to pour a libation, prayer, request that a sacrifice be carried out).

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Hermes January 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Haukur: Hermes, your post looks like a reply to something completely different than what I wrote.

Then we are even. You replied to the video in the same manner. That you did not understand my reply is in line with your original post. Additionally, I take your lack of consideration for Euthyphro in the same vein as your original post.

As I do not struggle with futile discussions, I bid you a good day.

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Hermes January 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Ayer, I know Craig’s answer. I’ve actually had it regurgitated at me many times. That’s actually part of the problem. Instead of considering the question yourself, nearly all replies that I’ve gotten on Euthyphro are rehashings of what someone else said.

As I said, it was homework. Homework in the same sense that a 10 year old doing his maths is not being asked to find an answer that someone else has already gotten for them and simply filling in the blanks. If that was what I was asking, I would just say look it up on Google or Yahoo.

That Craig’s answer is also invalid as an answer for the Christian deity — and only applies to some more nebulous generic deity or set of deities — also only shows how little thought is being done. It is brushing off a valid question to impress his followers and to assure those Christians that the generic deity concept they hold in one moment can morph into Yahweh of the Christian religious text as need be.

Yet, if you have not struggled with Euthyphro yourself then you will miss what it actually covers. Someone with a background in philosophy can take days to weeks to unwrap it. If they can keep from turning their head from the spoon attached to the hand that intends to feed them the answers, that is.

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Haukur January 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Hermes: As I do not struggle with futile discussions, I bid you a good day.

That’s fine with me, you don’t seem to be saying anything relevant or interesting.

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ayer January 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Hermes: As I said, it was homework. Homework in the same sense that a 10 year old doing his maths is not being asked to find an answer that someone else has already gotten for them and simply filling in the blanks.

That’s silly. An answer is only valid for a philosophical question that is 2,500 years old if the individual (instead of consulting the work done over that 2,500 years) comes up with an answer from scratch? Please come up with a new “dilemma” and then you can expect a new answer.

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Jeff H January 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

ayer:
You split the horns of the dilemma by saying that the good is the very nature of God and that the commands of God flow necessarily out of His moral nature. Because God is just, He commands things that are for us just. So the good is neither arbitrary, nor is it something outside and above God. Rather the good is the moral nature of God Himself, which is expressed necessarily in His moral commands, which become for us our moral duties”

*sigh* I get sick of pointing out that this does not avoid the horns of the dilemma, but here we go again. Unless you are willing to admit that either 1) God somehow created his own character, or that 2) he got his character in some other non-arbitrary fashion, the dilemma still stands.

In order to posit that God is all-good, his actions must be constrained by his character (which, apparently, includes goodness). Therefore, he can only act in ways that are good. In other words, his character can be thought as being “above” him, in the same way that our own characters influence our actions in a predictable fashion. You could deny this, but then you’d be undercutting any ability to depend on God doing good things.

So, if God’s actions are dependent on his character, and if morality is based on God’s character, then we need some explanation for how God’s character came to be the way that it is in order to avoid the charge that it is completely arbitrary. (After all, if something simply is the way it is for no reason, it seems that there’s nothing to point to – no reason – why it couldn’t be some other way.) So either God created his own character – which takes us into the realm of absurdity – or else someone or something else created his character the way it is. If it’s a someone, then there’s someone that created God, and we push the whole discussion back a step. If it’s a something, then there is some law or rule that exists outside and above God.

So there you have it. Either 1) deny that God is dependable, 2) admit that God’s character is entirely arbitrary, and thus morality is as well, or 3) posit the existence of some power or law higher than God himself.

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ayer January 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Jeff H: we need some explanation for how God’s character came to be the way that it is

God, by definition, is not a being that “comes to be”; he is by definition that being greater than which nothing can be conceived. God’s character IS that “law” that we call “the Good.” There’s just no dilemma here.

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Hermes January 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm

ayer, it seems as if you you are unaware of the meaning of the word “homework” and also ignore the actual reasons why Craig’s response is invalid. As such, I take it as a tacit agreement with my comments and I thank you for the concession.

While I am at it, as Jeff H may not be feeling as bold, I will be his proxy and thank you for tacitly agreeing with his comments as well by ignoring them in your reply to him.

Note that if your comments have any merit, they only apply to a non-Christian deity. I commend you for this tactic since the Christian deity is a bad bet. It can’t even answer prayers unambiguously — such as but not limited to the case where amputees are healed. Who would follow such a deity? One that is not only arbitrary but no different from the luck non-Christians everywhere seem to encounter.

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ayer January 10, 2010 at 5:48 am

Hermes: ayer, it seems as if you you are unaware of the meaning of the word “homework” and also ignore the actual reasons why Craig’s response is invalid. As such, I take it as a tacit agreement with my comments and I thank you for the concession.

Fine, I take your obvious failure to comprehend my comment as tacit agreement with it.

Hermes: While I am at it, as Jeff H may not be feeling as bold, I will be his proxy and thank you for tacitly agreeing with his comments as well by ignoring them in your reply to him.

I similarly take your failure to understand my response to Jeff H. as tacit agreement with it.

Hermes: Note that if your comments have any merit, they only apply to a non-Christian deity.

Since Christian theism is in agreement that God is that being than which nothing greater can be conceived, you appear to be misinformed.

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Hermes January 10, 2010 at 6:24 am

ayer, it is a sign of flattery to say in effect “oh yeah! Well, me too!” Thanks. Your submission in both cases to me is acknowledged.

As for Christian dogma, it can cure anything — even pesky contradictions with itself and the morphing from ‘Christian deity Yahweh’ to ‘generic deity that’s not the Christian one’ as is convenient. Wonderful oil of the snake.

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Jeff H January 10, 2010 at 10:34 am

ayer:
God, by definition, is not a being that “comes to be”; he is by definition that being greater than which nothing can be conceived.God’s character IS that “law” that we call “the Good.”There’s just no dilemma here.  

I think you fail to see my point, and I’m honestly not sure by this point whether you’re being willingly obtuse or not. It seems that you often end up simply dismissing what people say without actually engaging it, or at least explaining your reasons for dismissing it. I don’t see how positing a being “greater than which nothing can be conceived” somehow gets around the question of how that being “comes to be”. The two aren’t even logically connected. I can have the best cheese sandwich that could ever be conceived, but that doesn’t mean that it is an eternal cheese sandwich.

But I will grant that my language at that part was not exact. I did not mean by it to imply that God “came to be”, but rather that we must explain why God’s character is the way it is and not some other way. Even something eternal can have characteristics or parameters that are one way and not another way – even if they’ve been that way for all eternity. But if you offer no explanation for why they are one way and not another way, then the charge of arbitrariness still stands. It is entirely logically possible that God could have an entirely different character than he does have.

But at any rate, you seem to want to take the second option that I listed. Can you explain how God can have a specific character (that he is all-good and not all-bad, that he is a Trinity and not a Quadrinity, that he is a being that chooses Hebrews and not Canaanites, etc.) without referring to some other law or rule that avoids this character being arbitrary? Even the greatest being that can be conceived could have preferred the Chinese or the Canaanites instead of the Hebrews. He has other characteristics that aren’t covered under the neat category of “greatest”.

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ayer January 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Jeff H: I don’t see how positing a being “greater than which nothing can be conceived” somehow gets around the question of how that being “comes to be”. The two aren’t even logically connected. I can have the best cheese sandwich that could ever be conceived, but that doesn’t mean that it is an eternal cheese sandwich.

Because a being greater than which nothing can be conceived is a being which exists necessarily and eternally in all possible universes; it does not “come to be”.

Jeff H: But if you offer no explanation for why they are one way and not another way, then the charge of arbitrariness still stands. It is entirely logically possible that God could have an entirely different character than he does have.

“Goodness” is a great-making property; God is that being greater than which nothing can be conceived. Therefore God’s character is the paradigm of “Goodness.”

Jeff H: Even the greatest being that can be conceived could have preferred the Chinese or the Canaanites instead of the Hebrews.

That is not an attribute of God, but an action of God. Since God’s character is by definition all-Good, all of his actions flow out of that character and are thus good actions.

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Jeff H January 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm

ayer:
“Goodness” is a great-making property; God is that being greater than which nothing can be conceived.Therefore God’s character is the paradigm of “Goodness.”

My God you’re like a broken record. Didn’t we deal with this like maybe a month ago? Well, I suppose I dealt with it, and you didn’t. But seriously…this ontological argument you keep spouting off really isn’t as strong as you seem to think it is. I really just don’t have the time nor the energy to type out the same sort of stuff I already said last time you said this.

Remind me not to waste my time on you and your silly little “greatest-being-that-can-be-conceived” argument. You just give me headaches with your refusal to actually deal with anything that anyone says about it.

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ayer January 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Jeff H: this ontological argument you keep spouting off really isn’t as strong as you seem to think it is.

The definition of God given by Anselm can be used independent of an ontological argument that claims that the definition itself establishes God’s existence. The definition of God as that being greater than which nothing can be conceived is just the definition of classical theism. The definition is not controversial (whether it implies existence is, of course).

It’s hard to tell what you are really arguing–maybe that Goodness is not a great-making property? I think that may be what you claimed last time. If so, I think it is absurd, but we will just have to agree to disagree.

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Hermes January 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Jeff H: My God you’re like a broken record. Didn’t we deal with this like maybe a month ago? Well, I suppose I dealt with it, and you didn’t. But seriously…this ontological argument you keep spouting off really isn’t as strong as you seem to think it is. I really just don’t have the time nor the energy to type out the same sort of stuff I already said last time you said this.

Yep. Reminds me of other questionable lapses in memory that show up with other evangelists. Personally, if I’m wrong I’d like to know it. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the realm of those who push apologetics.

Then again, Ayer is welcome to drop by the WWGHA forums and look me up. I have done some research on theistic dishonesty and would appreciate either a subject to check my current ideas against or to be corrected on any mistakes I’ve made. I doubt that will happen, though.

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