Friday, July 22, 2011

Response to Rhology re: theodicy and stuff

Background: So a bloke named Rhology initiated a twitter conversation with me, regarding abortion. In that conversation I asked him about my recent post on theodicy. He replied, and he also attacked a previous post I made. I'll reply to both of those after the jump.

First, the debunking of my smacking down of ShockofGod's nonsense. The comment he made had a lot of nitpicking (so what the book of Genesis didn't say "all snakes"?) some purely irrelevant commentary that masqueraded as relevant (yes, I know "proof" isn't the same as "persuasion", that's why I didn't bring up persuaded demographics), a bit of ignorance (he suggested all diseases are fatal...) and at an inability to grasp a joke (no, I don't expect any single article to end all religious debate). But there was some stuff worth replying to. He asked, in reply to my mention of the idea of "stupid design", eight questions. I'll repost, and have my answers bolded and in parentheses.

1) Prove it. Do it yourself and let's see how far you get.
(I don't have to do it myself to prove that I could do it better, given the tools and abilities your god is said to have. Just looking at his chosen species, I'd give us a blowhole, make it impossible for us to choke over food, strengthen the lower back to prevent the back problems that are so prevalent in our species, make our knees much stronger for the same purposes, eradicate allergies, and give us a set of gills too, just so we can avoid drowning. There. Better.)
2) How do you know what trade-offs the Creator had to make during the creation?
(There are none, if he's truly omnipotent)
3) Once you've accounted them (I'd guess they'd be in the quadrillions, so you better drop everything and get started soon. Pack a lunch, too), how would you do better?
(I could do anything at all. I could re-write the laws of physics if I wanted to, and the laws of thermodynamics. There's one big one for you: I'd make it impossible for the heat death of the universe to happen. And I'd turn black holes into portals to Candyland, because that's more pleasant than being crushed to death. I'm totally serious, I'd do something a lot like that)
4) Once you've figured how you'd do better, could you produce a prototype for the rest of us to examine? You know, subject it to peer review?
(Why would I have to?)
5) Make sure to use your own raw materials, by the way. Don't use God's.
(In this hypothetical situation I am god.)
6) How do you know the purpose of the Creator in creating the given "stupid design" that way, that you know that it was "stupid"? Do you know His mind such that you can know He had a good idea but implemented it poorly, or had a bad idea?
(There's a good question with a simple answer. I have access to the same bible you do, and it does describe your god's character pretty well. From that, we can gather a sort of purpose in the design of the universe.)
7) If naturalism is true, to precisely what standard, what teleology, do you compare this? There is no designer, therefore no design. There is no "good" design and therefore no "bad" design. If the designer had _____-ed the _____, who are you to dictate that that would definitely be better than the way it is now?
(It's funny, talking with someone who has a completely different view of reality than I do. It's like, I see a car and I say "that's a car" and you'd say "no, that's the essence of the colour green". If naturalism is true, and it is, then we put the judgements on everything. But there are some cold, hard facts that are true regardless of teleology, like "more humans choke to death than dolphins". So clearly dolphins are better at "not choking to death".)
8) Maybe the designer tried really hard and managed to design life more or less as it is but couldn't get all the minutiƦ down pat, like he wanted. (Not a Christian view, but you can't overturn it.)
(And thus, it would be an imperfect designer, which is my point.)

Later on, he questions me on my statement that if any creator liked life, there would be more of it, or less empty space. The only one of those questions raised that's a good one is "What if the Creator wanted humanity to multiply of their own actions and fill up more space gradually?" That's actually a good question, but easily answered, in fact I believe I answered it in the post itself when I asked why there's so much uninhabitable space both on the planet and off. The answer from Rhology was "B/c God wanted there to be", and that there are 6 billion people living on a tiny fraction of the planet earth. Wait, he missed that last part. And that was included when I asked why there is so much uninhabitable space. I probably should have been more clear, but what's done is done. But the fact is, we're edging dangerously close to overpopulation, if we aren't already overpopulated. And we only really inhabit a small percentage of the landmass of this planet, which itself only covers about a third of the surface. So no, this planet isn't optimal for humanity.

Anyway, the post he made about my last post was kind of irrelevant since he's a Calvinist and doesn't believe in free will. I didn't know that when I asked him to answer that post. I had no way to know, really. But anyway, he did attack the Riddle of Epicurus. Let's look at that:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
--He is able.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
--Unless He has a perfect plan that includes the pouring out of His grace on sinners to redeem them, and also pouring out His perfect wrath and justice on other sinners, to show the justice of His righteousness.
This question assumes that humans are neutral or even good, and that's just not the case. Humans are wicked and sinful.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
--Answered already.

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
--Good question; ask a Mormon.

The first question asked if your god is able to prevent evil, but not willing. So simply answering "
He is able" without commenting on willingness is lazy.
The second question has nothing to do with human morality at all, and I have no idea why you mentioned it. Either way, the only way that evil can be justified is if it's to stop a greater evil. Your god created evil, and everything else. So what greater evil can there be, unless someone improved upon the evil your god created?


  1. "Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    --Blah blah blah Humans are wicked and sinful."

    Um, how on earth do you say "God is able to prevent evil but unwilling to do so because humans are evil." That makes NO SENSE at all.

  2. That makes NO SENSE at all.

    Thanks for your opinion!
    I have to admit, though, I prefer arguments to mere statements of opinion.

    Thanks Ben, I'll reply soon.

  3. But she's right, it is a nonsensical conclusion to reach based on the question. And saying "it makes no sense" is not an opinion when you can demonstrate why it is nonsensical when you can clearly show how it's nonsensical.

  4. And saying "it makes no sense" is not an opinion when you can demonstrate why it is nonsensical when you can clearly show how it's nonsensical.

    How can we know that until she actually does so?

  5. Rhology has set up his own fallacy trap to prove his Theodician arguments. First the challenge of “pretend you were God, how would you do it better”, but then intellectually cheating by saying “but you cannot use anything you possibly know of, because that’s God’s property.” It would be comparable to disproving numbers are infinite by saying “Think of any number possible, so long as I can’t think of it.” All Rhologies arguments prove when he reiterates Leibniz that God is all-powerful, all-benevolent and omnipotent is disproved when he demonstrates that humans cannot imagine any notion of God beyond their own limited abilities to comprehend. So if God is omnipotent, then He exceeds human comprehension, and if He exceeds human comprehension then He cannot be omnipotent, because omnipotence is something we can comprehend. And to further it, God cannot be super-omnipotent, because that is something we can also conceive. Ultimately assigning God any attribute is humanistic and sub-Godly, because omnipotence is something which cannot, by definition, even exist.