[FoRK] A Bit of Religion - response by the original person

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Sun Jan 8 14:54:24 PST 2006

At 16:54 -0600  on  1/6/06, Corinna wrote:
>... who has been following the discussion of his writing with interest.
>He's not really interested in tech-related things, or else he'd subscribe.
>It's up to you all to say if you'd mind a non-tech interloper on this list,
>making waves by writing about controversial arguments :)
>At any rate, I said I'd post a response by him, and if any of you want to
>talk with him directly, he can be reached at (frond) at sbcglobal dot (net).
>I wish to say up front that I respect your [Kevin Elliott's] response  (and
>those of the
>group as a whole).  I can see that your response is characterized by a
>serious regard of the problem.  It has been stimulating and, I believe,
>helped me improve the quality of my reasoning.  While I first found
>myself wondering whether there was something to the argument regarding
>free will (which argument I have suspected before has merit), upon
>consideration, I do believe the original argument sustains with
>unaltered force.  Let me explain.

It's certainly been interesting!  I've enjoyed it as well.

Let me offer one general comment as well on the "Proof of no-God" 
concept. By the same token, I think all "Proofs of God" are destined 
to fail because of similar holes in our knowledge.  Assuming God's 
existence, it's clear that he did not what this question to be 
settled in this universe.  I think these arguments are doomed to fail 
from the start because to some degree all such proofs must rest on 
the conception of God's motive, something the bible has very little 
to say about.

Indeed, the world can be a quite horrible place, but if God's goal is 
to prepare for a life beyond where far greater trials await, then the 
worst the world has to offer may be quite justified.  Indeed, 
something that has been written about extensively is the 
"concentrating" power of eternity.  The difference between Heaven and 
Hell may be nothing more than how well we've learned to overcome our 
failing and vices.

>First, a question: Are you firmly convinced that in every conceivable
>manner the world is as good as it can be.  Are there no improvements, no
>matter no trivial, which could be made to the order of existence?  Is
>each and every element of the real precisely the best it can be?  I hold
>that any negative answer will confirm the argument, and that any
>positive answer will, effectively, refute itself.

Nope, and I don't think it matters.  Again, it assumes that god was 
have been given a very, very good world and that all true evil that 
exists in it we made.  I.E.  I don't believe hurricane Katrina was 
evil, but certainly much that happened in it was.
  morally obligated to create a "good" world and that's just plain 
silly.  I do believe that we
>I would also like to observe that freedom is a morally, materially, and
>psychologically bounded concept:

>    Criminals are executed or incarcerated,
>    I can not depose Bush from office (a good very much to be desired), and
>    The pope could not on the morrow convert to Buddhism.
>Freedom is a concept already deeply infringed upon by the nature of our
>existence, and in a rather thorough manner.*  It requires little
>imagination to grant G the powers of infringement already intrinsic to
>reality, without substantially - if to any degree - altering the
>character of an already subordinate value.
>*For a counterrgument about the absolute nature of freedom, consider the
>kind of absolute freedom identified by Sartre.

I'm not sure what your trying to get at here, but I think your 
abusing the word freedom.  To borrow from dictionary.com it defines 
it as "The condition of being free of restraints.".  And indeed, your 
not be restrained.  You are free to attempt and perhaps achieve 
anything you desire.  To paraphrase Heinlein, you can't enslave a 
free man- you can only kill him.

>It is a crude example, but take the Twentieth-century's favorite
>bogeyman: Hitler.  Imagine Hitler had been struck (by G) with a kidney
>disease which was either crippling or incapacitating (or fatal), to
>whatever degree necessary to prevent either a) his rise to power or b)
>by alteration of the psychological environment, his particular ambitions
>and ideology.  As you have already claimed that disease is not in itself
>an evil, and as I doubt any defender of G will deny G's sovereignity to
>afflict his creation, such an example seems apropos.

And requiring god to take such action assumes that A) the horrors of 
the earth are truly as horrible as we think from Gods perspective 
(something we have not evidence for) and B) that free will truly 
doesn't matter to god.  I can just as easily turn the argument on 
it's head by saying that the state of the world truly shows just how 
MUCH free will matters to god- after all, if it didn't he wouldn't 
have let as make such a mess of it!

>Since I am not a member of this list (and my only interest, really, is
>this kind of conversation), this will be my last response.  If you or
>anyone else would care to take up the issues in another forum, I would
>be very interested.
>I can be reached at frondBUTIsbcglobalDON'TdotLIKEnetSPAM.

I've CC'd you on this- hopefully my parse of your email address was accurate.
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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