View Poll Results: If you are atheist, would you prefer that a god exist or not?
I would prefer that there be a god 22 19.47%
I would rather that there not be a god 78 69.03%
I am not atheist 13 11.50%
Voters: 113. You may not vote on this poll

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  #51  
Old 09-07-2019, 01:19 PM
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Prefer not. The gods as depicted by all religions I've come across are either jerks, idiots, or both.

If the OP had asked about an afterlife, or grand purpose or whatever, then that's a more interesting and nuanced discussion, at least for me.
But it's just tradition, and our tendency to anthropomorphize, that means people associate philosophical questions like that with a daddy figure(s).
  #52  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:47 AM
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I'm not exactly an atheist (too much work), but definitely prefer the no-god option.

Otherwise we're stuck with a deity(ies) that are either blithely and lazily omniscient, or actually enjoy watching or facilitating suffering and death.
  #53  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:50 AM
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  #54  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:01 AM
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What kind of God? How about a personal god who would smite my enemies and help me out of jams? That would be pretty cool.
  #55  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
"Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be - hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin."
-Deteriorata

Personally I wouldn't mind it if one of the trickster gods(Loki, Coyote) were around to put purpose to the madness of this world.
I like this one best so far

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The dodgy part is reconciling that with reality, of course. Unless you take the question as letting you not only will the god into existence but also remake the entire world in the same fell swoop.
Um, wouldn't that make you, in fact, god?
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  #56  
Old 09-08-2019, 01:48 PM
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But, if it were the second option, and you effectively have the hypothetical power to will a better world into existence along with a compatible god, wouldnít you rather just cut out the middle man and will a better world into existence?

Instead of (and these are my words here) "if I could make a world that is not demonstrably incompatible with a just god, then I would want there to be a just god to protect the innocent," why not just make it "I would like to make a just world where the innocent are protected"?

Because I donít see how even a world that is compatible with a just god, demands said god's existence. Wouldnít just having all around better people who didnít treat each other like shit and cared enough to look after the innocent serve the same end? While it might be fantastical, I mean... we are talking about a god here. Reality went out the window as soon as we entertained that notion.
Welllll, if you have a universe that somehow knows who is innocent and has the ability to alter events to protect them, then you have a universe that it demonstrating intelligence and awareness. I think it would be fair to say that that such a universe either is or contains some aspect or agent within it that is (a) actively benevolent towards the innocent, (b) actively aware of what happens to the innocent, and c) powerful enough to intervene for all the innocents.

I would posit that it's entirely fair to declare such a universe, or the innocent-saving aspect of that universe, to be a god.

This of course presumes that the innocent-saving system involves active and discerning intervention on the part of the universe. If the system is achieved by locking everybody in a box so that nobody can interact with anybody and thus no innocents can be imperiled, then the amount of active benevolence and awareness on the part of the universe is zero, and no god would be implied.
  #57  
Old 09-08-2019, 01:50 PM
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Um, wouldn't that make you, in fact, god?
I'm already a god, thanks for asking.



(I'm an author. As far as my characters are concerned I'm a god - and not a benevolent one either.)
  #58  
Old 09-08-2019, 03:32 PM
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I'd be open to a god that wasn't all powerful. Some loving creator that was sad about how miserable life can be. Some god who tried to compel us to be better people but didn't have the power to force biological life to be good.

But an all powerful god who felt that all the evil and pain was somehow 'worth it'? No fucking way. That'd be like living under Hitler with no possibility of escape. Evil and pain are built into biology, and life is a zero sum game in many ways. If this is the best a creator could do it is very evil and inept.
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  #59  
Old 09-08-2019, 03:56 PM
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I'm not exactly an atheist (too much work), but definitely prefer the no-god option..
I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist. What part of your worldview makes you not an atheist?
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  #60  
Old 09-08-2019, 05:34 PM
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I would posit that it's entirely fair to declare such a universe, or the innocent-saving aspect of that universe, to be a god.
And yet such a universe would STILL not require a god. Either by modeling of the universe, the availability of resources, evolutionary psychology, etc., or just plain old Big Brothering. Whether a universe with such control over human behavior would truly be desirable, particularly if due to the latter, is certainly debatable. Either I don’t really want such a universe, or such a universe doesn’t necessarily need a god, the point is I personally am satisfied that I don’t want a god, even a god of my choosing in a universe of my choosing (more on that below).

As DorkVader notes, and I’ve been trying to heavily imply in my last couple posts, if you are allowed so much creative control over the universe as to choose the universe to suit the god, you are effectively yourself god in at least a deistic sense, with the power of creation and of determining the course the universe will follow, as if no other will but your own matters, and all physical laws will be made to comply with your vision of the universe.

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  #61  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:50 PM
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Not voting, because it makes a huge difference what kind of god is meant.
I agree that, without knowing what sort of god we're talking about, the answers are meaningless.

But I do want to address one issue that you, and many other people, have brought up, that being this:


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Would I prefer there to be a god who could have made people so nobody wants to torture anybody but thought it was funny to make a percentage of people who think that it's fun*? Most definitely no.
...
*I know that the standard argument isn't that god did that because god thinks it's funny, but that god did that in order to allow free will. I just don't see why allowing free will requires making people who enjoy torture. Wouldn't making people who enjoyed the "wrong" kind of food have been enough? Or, for that matter, making people -- as we are -- so that our short-term desires for perfectly reasonable things are likely to cause long term damage to somebody else.
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I answered the first question, and voted "no", because if there is a God that God must be awfully nasty. (Or not powerful enough to prevent evil, in which case, maybe it doesn't matter.)

This highlights why the "What sort of God?" question is critical, because I could imagine a god who allows evil to exist in this world, because it is an essential feature to some other, ultimately greater good, that we simply cannot see or understand in our current state.

I'm reminded of a bit from Robert Heinlein's book "Job: A Comedy of Justice", in which one god-like being takes the protagonist in to see another, even more god-like being. He analogizes it to a human taking a pet to the vet's office. I'm sure my cat thinks I'm being evil when I take him to see The Guy Who Sticks Needles In Me For No Damn Reason, but that's because the cat doesn't understand things like disease, or vaccinations, or surgery.

Maybe this life is akin to the movie "Defending Your Life":

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Defending Your Life is a 1991 American romantic comedy-fantasy film about a man who dies and arrives in the afterlife only to find that he must stand trial and justify his lifelong fears in order to advance to the next phase of existence; or be sent back to Earth to do it again.
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Daniel Miller, a Los Angeles advertising executive, dies in a car accident on his 39th birthday and is sent to the afterlife. He arrives in Judgment City, a Purgatory-like waiting area populated by the recently deceased of the western half of the United States, where he is to undergo the process of having his life on Earth judged.

...

His defense attorney, Bob Diamond, explains to Daniel that people from Earth use so little of their brains (only three to five percent) that they spend most of their lives functioning on the basis of their fears. "When you use more than five percent of your brain, you don't want to be on Earth, believe me," says Diamond. If the court determines that Daniel has conquered his fears, he will be sent on to the next phase of existence, where he will be able to use more of his brain and thus be able to experience more of what the universe has to offer. Otherwise, his soul will be reincarnated on Earth to live another life in another attempt at moving past his fears.


Perhaps all the suffering of Earth is needed for some purpose we can't understand. I don't know if I'd want such a god to exist, but I might not hate it either.

Of course, that's unlike pretty much all of Christianity, so even if such a god existed, the Bible thumpers would still be annoying and wrong, but there you go.
  #62  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:53 PM
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Perhaps all the suffering of Earth is needed for some purpose we can't understand. I don't know if I'd want such a god to exist, but I might not hate it either.
I donít buy it. Some of it, as a necessary consequence of dealing with human beings capable of moral agency? Okay. But all of it? No. That it is not ALL necessary, even if (and thatís if) there is a greater good for some of it means that, at the very least this world is not compatible with an omnibenevolent, omnipotent god.
  #63  
Old 09-09-2019, 02:12 AM
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This highlights why the "What sort of God?" question is critical, because I could imagine a god who allows evil to exist in this world, because it is an essential feature to some other, ultimately greater good, that we simply cannot see or understand in our current state.

I'm reminded of a bit from Robert Heinlein's book "Job: A Comedy of Justice", in which one god-like being takes the protagonist in to see another, even more god-like being. He analogizes it to a human taking a pet to the vet's office. I'm sure my cat thinks I'm being evil when I take him to see The Guy Who Sticks Needles In Me For No Damn Reason, but that's because the cat doesn't understand things like disease, or vaccinations, or surgery.

Maybe this life is akin to the movie "Defending Your Life":


Perhaps all the suffering of Earth is needed for some purpose we can't understand. I don't know if I'd want such a god to exist, but I might not hate it either.

Of course, that's unlike pretty much all of Christianity, so even if such a god existed, the Bible thumpers would still be annoying and wrong, but there you go.
You have stumbled onto the best of all possible worlds theory. It fails if just one baby killed in a tsunami didn't have to die, if the survival of that one baby wouldn't make the world better.

BTW, if you weren't aware, the claim that we use just a small part of our brain is wrong. We use almost all our brain. Brains take lots of energy - wasting it would be evolutionarily disadvantageous.
  #64  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:23 AM
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You have stumbled onto the best of all possible worlds theory. It fails if just one baby killed in a tsunami didn't have to die, if the survival of that one baby wouldn't make the world better.

I'm not sure I see your point here. This is the "ineffable" part of "the ineffable plan", as most theists would describe it. The point I'm making is, yes, this might seem like insurmountable problem to us puny humans, but to someone with greater ability to see and understand, a "god" if you will, the apparent contradiction would vanish. Not only are we too stupid to see the solution, we're too stupid to even see the correct problem.



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BTW, if you weren't aware, the claim that we use just a small part of our brain is wrong. We use almost all our brain. Brains take lots of energy - wasting it would be evolutionarily disadvantageous.

Yes, I know that. There was something else going on, but they were clearly dumbing it down for us.
  #65  
Old 09-09-2019, 12:57 PM
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I'm not sure I see your point here. This is the "ineffable" part of "the ineffable plan", as most theists would describe it. The point I'm making is, yes, this might seem like insurmountable problem to us puny humans, but to someone with greater ability to see and understand, a "god" if you will, the apparent contradiction would vanish. Not only are we too stupid to see the solution, we're too stupid to even see the correct problem.
I saw a clip of a creationist minister say that if the Bible told him that 2 + 2 = 5, he'd believe it. That's kind of what's going on here.
There is also a dual, the worst of all possible worlds theory. Say that the world was created by an evil god to be as bad as possible, and that every event in it contributes to its evil. Anything, no matter how good it seems, actually makes things worse.
Just as unfalsifiable as the best of all possible worlds theory, isn't it?
  #66  
Old 09-09-2019, 12:58 PM
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I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the universe. That fulfills the spiritual void for me good enough.
  #67  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:13 PM
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I'm not sure I see your point here. This is the "ineffable" part of "the ineffable plan", as most theists would describe it. The point I'm making is, yes, this might seem like insurmountable problem to us puny humans, but to someone with greater ability to see and understand, a "god" if you will, the apparent contradiction would vanish. Not only are we too stupid to see the solution, we're too stupid to even see the correct problem.
Just to be clear, the "insurmountable problem" in question is "coming up with some sort of explanation that explains how the world as it currently is is literally the best possible world ever, when even a child can think of ways to improve it."

Such an explanation would also how to explain how the past is exactly as good as the present is, because otherwise why did the God not instantly transform the past into the present?
  #68  
Old 09-09-2019, 04:22 PM
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...Perhaps all the suffering of Earth is needed for some purpose we can't understand. I don't know if I'd want such a god to exist, but I might not hate it either...
From Catch 22:

ďWhat the hell are you getting so upset about?' he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrive amusement. 'I thought you didn't believe in God.'

I don't,' she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. 'But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make Him to be.'

Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. 'Let's have a little more religious freedom between us,' he proposed obligingly. 'You don't believe in the God you want to, and I won't believe in the God I want to . Is that a deal?Ē
  #69  
Old 09-09-2019, 07:29 PM
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I'm not sure I see your point here. This is the "ineffable" part of "the ineffable plan", as most theists would describe it. The point I'm making is, yes, this might seem like insurmountable problem to us puny humans, but to someone with greater ability to see and understand, a "god" if you will, the apparent contradiction would vanish. Not only are we too stupid to see the solution, we're too stupid to even see the correct problem.
Problems with that argument include that if the plan is "ineffable", then you can't at the same time argue that you know that it's a well-meaning plan, and that for an omnipotent god there's by definition no need for such a plan at all. They can just do it.
  #70  
Old 09-10-2019, 08:27 AM
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I do not care one way or the other about "if gods there be." I often ask the rah-rah's I talk to "How is acknowledging a "god" going to help me?" So far, I've yet to get a logical answer.
  #71  
Old 09-10-2019, 08:48 AM
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Just as unfalsifiable as the best of all possible worlds theory, isn't it?

Well yes, but once you're discussing gods, you pretty much have to accept the fact that things are unfalsifiable, otherwise we can't have any kind of discussion. It's a "don't fight the hypothetical" situation.


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Problems with that argument include that if the plan is "ineffable", then you can't at the same time argue that you know that it's a well-meaning plan, and that for an omnipotent god there's by definition no need for such a plan at all. They can just do it.

But I'm not arguing that I "know" this is true. I'm just pointing out that this proposed interpretation solves "The Problem of Evil" that seems to worry so many people. They insist that the existence of evil disproves almost any kind of benevolent god you can imagine, and I'm pointing out that I (and at least the people who made the movie I linked to) am quite capable of imagining a god that solves the problem of evil quite easily. That doesn't mean I believe it exists, it just means I don't accept their argument as the slam-dunk they think it is.

As for the "They can just do it" argument, again, maybe they have what they consider to be a valid reason to let us do it ourselves. Just because they can do it that way doesn't mean they have to. Also, while they might be considered omnipotent in the reality we see, there's no reason to suppose that omnipotence exists in whatever "higher plane" they might be operating in. It's like video games. Just because I can make a character fly in a game doesn't mean I can just jump out a window in real life.
  #72  
Old 09-10-2019, 01:12 PM
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Well yes, but once you're discussing gods, you pretty much have to accept the fact that things are unfalsifiable, otherwise we can't have any kind of discussion. It's a "don't fight the hypothetical" situation.
Not at all. The proposition that there are no gods can easily be falsified by a god showing up and doing god things. We've had several threads on this. Sure you might not be 100% sure there is a god, even then, but you would be sure to the level that there is a Paris.
Are unicorns scarce because unicorns are very sneaky beasts who can hide in your garage, or because there aren't any? Same thing.

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But I'm not arguing that I "know" this is true. I'm just pointing out that this proposed interpretation solves "The Problem of Evil" that seems to worry so many people. They insist that the existence of evil disproves almost any kind of benevolent god you can imagine, and I'm pointing out that I (and at least the people who made the movie I linked to) am quite capable of imagining a god that solves the problem of evil quite easily. That doesn't mean I believe it exists, it just means I don't accept their argument as the slam-dunk they think it is.
As I said, you are just repeating the best of all possible worlds argument - evil that god apparently does isn't really evil, since it all works out best in the end. Which is begging the question, since the only way you can demonstrate that God does what is best is by assuming that all God's actions are for the best since he is omnibenevolent. As I said - and which you didn't really respond to - is that this can't be correct since you can "prove" that god is omnimalevolent using the same argument.
  #73  
Old 09-10-2019, 01:27 PM
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With the assumption that my preference isn't actually creating The Almighty in the image I most prefer, I voted no.

Given the way the world is today, the way it appears to have evolved over time, the way the universe seems to be constructed, the state of religion on the Earth, whatever God could possibly exist under those conditions is of no use to me.
  #74  
Old 09-10-2019, 01:43 PM
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But I'm not arguing that I "know" this is true. I'm just pointing out that this proposed interpretation solves "The Problem of Evil" that seems to worry so many people. They insist that the existence of evil disproves almost any kind of benevolent god you can imagine, and I'm pointing out that I (and at least the people who made the movie I linked to) am quite capable of imagining a god that solves the problem of evil quite easily. That doesn't mean I believe it exists, it just means I don't accept their argument as the slam-dunk they think it is.

As for the "They can just do it" argument, again, maybe they have what they consider to be a valid reason to let us do it ourselves. Just because they can do it that way doesn't mean they have to.
If they are omnipotent there by definition can be no other reason than their own desires. For an omnipotent, omniscient creator god - the one people normally talk about - all evil happens for the sole reason they want it to happen; every last rape, murder and case of cancer happens solely because they planned for it to happen. There is no such thing as necessary evil or necessary anything else for an omnipotent.

And it doesn't solve the Problem of Evil because God being all powerful is one of the basic premises that make it a problem in the first place. "I can't" is a perfectly justifiable reason for not doing something after all. The POE only applies to an omnipotent and omniscient god.
  #75  
Old 09-10-2019, 04:56 PM
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But I'm not arguing that I "know" this is true. I'm just pointing out that this proposed interpretation solves "The Problem of Evil" that seems to worry so many people. They insist that the existence of evil disproves almost any kind of benevolent god you can imagine, and I'm pointing out that I (and at least the people who made the movie I linked to) am quite capable of imagining a god that solves the problem of evil quite easily. That doesn't mean I believe it exists, it just means I don't accept their argument as the slam-dunk they think it is.

As for the "They can just do it" argument, again, maybe they have what they consider to be a valid reason to let us do it ourselves. Just because they can do it that way doesn't mean they have to. Also, while they might be considered omnipotent in the reality we see, there's no reason to suppose that omnipotence exists in whatever "higher plane" they might be operating in. It's like video games. Just because I can make a character fly in a game doesn't mean I can just jump out a window in real life.
The only possible way to "solve" the problem of evil is to either weaken the attributes of the diety so it no longer qualifies as tri-omni, or to change the definition of one or more of the "omnis" so that it varies from that of the people employing the PoE.

For the god to think there is a "valid" reason to let us take centuries killing and enslaving each other rather than intervening is to say that the god isn't benevolent by the usual definitions, because we'd expect a benevolent human to intervene in such circumstances. By definition a god that stands idly by has to be prioritizing something else higher than benevolence to earthly humans. This makes the diety non-tri-omni --and also makes me highly doubtful that it gives the tiniest crap about earthly humans as anything other than test subjects or objects of amusement.

And whether or not the god is omnipotent in its own sphere has literally no bearing on their omnipotence on earth. I'm a mere mortal on earth, but despite that I'm omnipotent from the perspective of the stories I write. My earthly impotence has no impact there.
  #76  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:07 PM
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Based upon the vengeful and hate filled psychopaths that are presented as gods in various religious dogma, I'm very sure I would not want a god to exist.
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  #77  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:24 PM
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As I said, you are just repeating the best of all possible worlds argument - evil that god apparently does isn't really evil, since it all works out best in the end. Which is begging the question, since the only way you can demonstrate that God does what is best is by assuming that all God's actions are for the best since he is omnibenevolent. As I said - and which you didn't really respond to - is that this can't be correct since you can "prove" that god is omnimalevolent using the same argument.
Iíve gotta say, Iíve never come across this particular counter to the "best possible world" dargument, but I like it. And it makes sense. Because how do we know that every step humanity seems to take towards flourishing, to achieving more happiness for more people as it really has been in spite of all the doom and gloom, isnít really just a prelude to a fall? God only knows, and heís been known to smite mankind just for kicks in the past.

Random aside, there actually was a branch of early Christianity, one of the gnostic cults, that called themselves the Cainites because they identified the god of the Old Testament as an evil NFBSK, an entity that was in fact a god and did in fact create the material world we are cursed to live in, but was not the supreme, spiritual god (who would have of course recognized that Abel was being a dick and totally got what was coming to him for trying to show up good, honest, hardworking Cain). They believed that Jesus was associated with the supreme god and party of the mystery about him, the mystery the Gnostics sought to understand, was what would help them to cast off the corruption of the material world and achieve a sort of spiritual victory over the evil creator god.
  #78  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:48 PM
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I am an atheist who has no preference, which is not one of the poll answers though 'I am not an atheist' is for some reason.
Would I like someone to blame all this evil on? Only if I could make them stop.
  #79  
Old 09-10-2019, 07:36 PM
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Iíve gotta say, Iíve never come across this particular counter to the "best possible world" dargument, but I like it. And it makes sense. Because how do we know that every step humanity seems to take towards flourishing, to achieving more happiness for more people as it really has been in spite of all the doom and gloom, isnít really just a prelude to a fall? God only knows, and heís been known to smite mankind just for kicks in the past.
I got the omnimalevolent argument from book by a philosopher with detailed refutations of theistic arguments. Borrowed it from the library - I have no memory of the author or title.
I looked up omnimalevolent in Google to see if I had coined the word. I hadn't. Alas.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:39 PM
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The only possible way to "solve" the problem of evil is to either weaken the attributes of the diety so it no longer qualifies as tri-omni, or to change the definition of one or more of the "omnis" so that it varies from that of the people employing the PoE.

For the god to think there is a "valid" reason to let us take centuries killing and enslaving each other rather than intervening is to say that the god isn't benevolent by the usual definitions, because we'd expect a benevolent human to intervene in such circumstances. By definition a god that stands idly by has to be prioritizing something else higher than benevolence to earthly humans. This makes the diety non-tri-omni --and also makes me highly doubtful that it gives the tiniest crap about earthly humans as anything other than test subjects or objects of amusement.

And whether or not the god is omnipotent in its own sphere has literally no bearing on their omnipotence on earth. I'm a mere mortal on earth, but despite that I'm omnipotent from the perspective of the stories I write. My earthly impotence has no impact there.
Worse than that, a god who is omnibenevolent by nature cannot be omnipotent, since he has lost the power to do true evil. A non-omnibenevolent god would definitely be more powerful than an omnibeneovent one, so the omnibenevolent god would not be a god by the theists' own definition.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:35 AM
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I am not sure how to describe my religious leanings, or general lack of. I can't say that I would prefer that a god exists, al;though this raises the interesting point as to whether or not I have any say in what this god is and does. At any rate it would be nice to know that a god actually exists, if he/she/it actually exists, and this beats out belief, which always struck me as somewhere between self-deceptpon and wish fulfillment. In short, I prefer certainty to belief. And by that I mean: certainty either way. If there is no god, then I suppose we all to get along with that, unless some nut decides that a god needs to be invented to fill some intellectual or emotional void. And what would all the holy warriors say when they found they were fighting about nothing? And no 72 virgins either.

If god does exist.. that reminds me of the song. "if god had a face, what would it look like?"Assuming that there really is a Hairy Thunderer and I get to meet him in person, my first question (and perhaps only question, before being zapped for gross lese majeste) would be: if you are so #$%@ing omnipotent, what is with all the evil and the bad things in the world?
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:13 AM
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If god does exist.. that reminds me of the song. "if god had a face, what would it look like?"Assuming that there really is a Hairy Thunderer and I get to meet him in person, my first question (and perhaps only question, before being zapped for gross lese majeste) would be: if you are so #$%@ing omnipotent, what is with all the evil and the bad things in the world?
"My ways are so mysterious, even I don't know."

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Old 09-11-2019, 06:41 AM
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If there is an omnipotent god, it would mean all the evil in the world happens on purpose, and I don't know if I could go on in a world like that.
"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."
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"My ways are so mysterious, even I don't know."

Then why should I worship you, ya useless git?

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Old 09-11-2019, 10:14 AM
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Not only are we too stupid to see the solution, we're too stupid to even see the correct problem.
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I'm just pointing out that this proposed interpretation solves "The Problem of Evil" that seems to worry so many people.
It's perfectly possible that humans are just unable to understand the universe, whether or not there's a god involved.

But, in addition to how multiple others have answered this, that doesn't "solve The Problem of Evil" because "We don't and can't know what the answer is" is not an answer.

And if our understanding is that poor, we can't possibly understand what any god means us to do, or if that god means us to do anything in particular at all, or if that god has even noticed us. Anything we take for instructions might equally well have been meant for some other purpose altogether. There isn't anywhere I can see* to go from 'god's purposes are ineffable' other than 'there's no possible way to tell what god might want, so we may as well act as if god's not there'.


*obviously, mileage varies.
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:32 PM
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Worse than that, a god who is omnibenevolent by nature cannot be omnipotent, since he has lost the power to do true evil. A non-omnibenevolent god would definitely be more powerful than an omnibeneovent one, so the omnibenevolent god would not be a god by the theists' own definition.
Nah. I consider raw capability regardless of intention to be what omnipotence talks about. Wouldn't ≠ can't, in other words.

Similarly I don't require an omnipotent entity to be able to satisfy both A and ¨A simultaneously. If the definition required that it could be proven to be impossible handily, which isn't the point of the term.
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:45 PM
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Specifically I presumed that you meant for this god to be existing concurrently with the reality we currently exist in ... If we're talking about a being that somewhat resembles the Christian god ...
I was going to say these things. One cannot answer this question without agreeing on these assumptions.

Given these statements, I vote that I prefer there be no god. If there is a Christian-type god, a personal god who is omniscient and omnipotent, and given our experience of the world, then this Christian-type god would have to be a malevolent being.
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:58 PM
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Nah. I consider raw capability regardless of intention to be what omnipotence talks about. Wouldn't ≠ can't, in other words.
The only reason I don't square the circle is that I don't want to.
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Similarly I don't require an omnipotent entity to be able to satisfy both A and ¨A simultaneously. If the definition required that it could be proven to be impossible handily, which isn't the point of the term.
Omnipotence doesn't fail by not doing the logically impossible - so the inability of god to make a taco too big for him to eat isn't a problem. That he might not want to do this isn't the reason that it is not a problem.

What God wants to do has nothing to do with this issue. We are being theoretical here. Omnibenevolence isn't a choice by god, it is a part of his nature. Ditto for omnipotence.
Say we have God A and God B. God A is tri-omni, God B is just omnipotent and omniscient. I include omniscience so that they know the consequences of their actions. Gods A and B, if both omnipotent, should be able to do exactly the same things. God B challenges God A to do something that would decrease the happiness of the world.
If God A does this, he is no longer omnibenevolent. If God A cannot do it, he is no longer omnipotent, and God B, who can, is more powerful. The question of can God A do it or not has nothing to do with if God A wants to do it.
You might as well say that God is omnibenevolent, that God knows that earthquakes increase unhappiness, but chooses not to do anything about it.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:08 PM
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Omnipotence doesn't fail by not doing the logically impossible - so the inability of god to make a taco too big for him to eat isn't a problem. That he might not want to do this isn't the reason that it is not a problem.

What God wants to do has nothing to do with this issue. We are being theoretical here. Omnibenevolence isn't a choice by god, it is a part of his nature. Ditto for omnipotence.
Say we have God A and God B. God A is tri-omni, God B is just omnipotent and omniscient. I include omniscience so that they know the consequences of their actions. Gods A and B, if both omnipotent, should be able to do exactly the same things. God B challenges God A to do something that would decrease the happiness of the world.
If God A does this, he is no longer omnibenevolent. If God A cannot do it, he is no longer omnipotent, and God B, who can, is more powerful. The question of can God A do it or not has nothing to do with if God A wants to do it.
You might as well say that God is omnibenevolent, that God knows that earthquakes increase unhappiness, but chooses not to do anything about it.
Omnibenevolence is a statement about choice. It's a statement about how the god chooses to act. Omnipotence, on the other hand, is about how the god could act, absent him choosing to act otherwise. It's not reasonable to say that because somebody chose not to do something, that means that they didn't have the physical capability to do other things.

I'll just note here that I'm a compatiblist regarding free will, which is relevant - I choose to use common-sense definitions of 'choice' and 'ability' (and 'will' and 'free') which just so happen not to be troubled by the fact that when all is deterministically said and done, choice still happened and alternatives could still have been considered possible prior to the choice. Applying such definitions to the omnipotence/omnibenevolence discussion causes conflicts to dissolve there too.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:37 PM
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There are other mythological figures that would be awesome if they were real. Santa Claus, for instance; how much more joy there would be in the world!

But God? Nah. I don't want anybody that moody, vindictive, and judgmental in charge of anything, let alone the entire universe.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:23 PM
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I am an atheist who has no preference, which is not one of the poll answers though 'I am not an atheist' is for some reason.
Same here. What the fundamental nature of reality should be with regard to supernatural entities is not a matter I waste time having an opinion about.

I do have an opinion (because I've had it ever since it emerged in my early adolescence, not because I thought I should have one) about what the fundamental nature of reality is with regard to supernatural entities. Namely, I believe that there aren't any.

But I don't have a specific preference about the desirability or otherwise of their existence, and I wish that this somewhat ill-thought-out poll included an option for indicating my views.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:45 PM
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It would be interesting to pose the same question to theists. I wonder if anyone said that they are so terrified by the god(s) they were told about/believe in that they rather wish that gods didn't exist. Or would be horrified by the thought that after 3x1027 or so years of eternal bliss, they'd go mad from boredom.
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  #92  
Old 09-12-2019, 12:44 PM
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Omnibenevolence is a statement about choice. It's a statement about how the god chooses to act. Omnipotence, on the other hand, is about how the god could act, absent him choosing to act otherwise. It's not reasonable to say that because somebody chose not to do something, that means that they didn't have the physical capability to do other things.
Cite? What I've seen says that omnibenevolence is moral perfection. An entity which can do evil, but chooses not to, is not morally perfect. Certainly the concept of salvation involves that a person who chooses to never do wrong still must be saved because that person is not morally perfect.
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I'll just note here that I'm a compatiblist regarding free will, which is relevant - I choose to use common-sense definitions of 'choice' and 'ability' (and 'will' and 'free') which just so happen not to be troubled by the fact that when all is deterministically said and done, choice still happened and alternatives could still have been considered possible prior to the choice. Applying such definitions to the omnipotence/omnibenevolence discussion causes conflicts to dissolve there too.
Human free will is not relevant. An omnipotent god must have free will - the problem arises not from omnipotence per se but restrictions from other characteristics.
An omnipotent god can make any choices and change them at any time. However an omniscient god knows what choices are ultimately made and when they are changed, so changes are constrained by foreknowledge that they will be changed. We also have the problem of when the knowledge and the choices start. If God is eternal it is -infinity, but are the choices made before or after the knowledge of them?
You talk of prior to the choice, but this is a meaningless term for an omniscient deity. Works fine for a non-omniscient entity.
Human free will, if it exists, is not an issue since the human can make a decision and god know which decision the human makes. Since god's knowledge is not an input to the decision, it is not really constrained.
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:51 PM
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Why isn't there an option for "no preference"? I would prefer that there is a benevolent god, but since I don't know anything about our hypothetical deity I can't say if I would rather have one just to have one.
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:54 PM
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Cite? What I've seen says that omnibenevolence is moral perfection. An entity which can do evil, but chooses not to, is not morally perfect. Certainly the concept of salvation involves that a person who chooses to never do wrong still must be saved because that person is not morally perfect.


Human free will is not relevant. An omnipotent god must have free will - the problem arises not from omnipotence per se but restrictions from other characteristics.
An omnipotent god can make any choices and change them at any time. However an omniscient god knows what choices are ultimately made and when they are changed, so changes are constrained by foreknowledge that they will be changed. We also have the problem of when the knowledge and the choices start. If God is eternal it is -infinity, but are the choices made before or after the knowledge of them?
You talk of prior to the choice, but this is a meaningless term for an omniscient deity. Works fine for a non-omniscient entity.
Human free will, if it exists, is not an issue since the human can make a decision and god know which decision the human makes. Since god's knowledge is not an input to the decision, it is not really constrained.
I didn't say "human free will". I said "free will". You adding "human" to the term is you setting up a strawman to knock down - can't you see that?

You are deciding which definitions you want to use, which is fair - you do you. I'm just saying that I recognize definitions of "free will" and "choice" which are compatible with determinism. Which, if you'll think about it for a moment, you'll realize also automatically makes them compatible with both omniscience and also omnibenevolence. And, since I assess omnipotence through the lens of those definitions, means that just because I don't choose to swear at you, doesn't meant that I'm not capable of swearing at you.

Last edited by begbert2; 09-13-2019 at 03:57 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:31 PM
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As an atheist, I necessarily hold that no god(s) exist in this current reality. That's the definition. So the OP query necessarily implies some other, putative reality in which I hold that some god or another exists -- not "this reality we're in, but plus a god." Right? We're necessarily speaking of a thought experiment. If things were different, ... things would be different.
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Sidestepping the age-old debate of whether a god exists or not, I would like to ask: If you are atheist, would you prefer that a god exist or not?
(my emphasis in Roman bold, bold italics in original)

And the OP also specifies, explicitly, that it's not necessarily the Abrahamic god, nor any other hitherto described anywhere:
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(Not going to elaborate about what such a god might be like - could be up to your own description or imagination, although I would prefer that this not turn into a "well I would want him to be a genie who grants me wishes" type of thread)
Coming from that standpoint, sure, I'd like to see what a universe with a god in it might be like. I'd probably enjoy hanging out with a god like the Big Lebowski. Down a couple oat sodas, maybe roll a string or two.

But would I prefer that the universe I'm in actually contain the Abrahamic god, contrary to my belief? Nope. That wasn't the question, though.

So I voted "yes."
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Last edited by mjmlabs; 09-13-2019 at 04:35 PM. Reason: one typo, one add'l sentence, fixed orthography
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:43 PM
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As an atheist, I necessarily hold that no god(s) exist in this current reality. That's the definition. So the OP query necessarily implies some other, putative reality in which I hold that some god or another exists -- not "this reality we're in, but plus a god." Right? We're necessarily speaking of a thought experiment. If things were different, ... things would be different.
Most atheists allow for the possibility that they're wrong. (Moreso than any theist that I've met, even.) I myself don't believe in any* god, but it's theoretically possible that there are all sorts of gods out there that I'm unaware of or haven't been given reason to believe in. ("All sorts" clearly not including triomni ones or anything similar, obviously.)



* besides that styrofoam cup I spoke of
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:55 PM
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Most atheists allow for the possibility that they're wrong. (Moreso than any theist that I've met, even.) I myself don't believe in any* god, but it's theoretically possible that there are all sorts of gods out there that I'm unaware of or haven't been given reason to believe in. ("All sorts" clearly not including triomni ones or anything similar, obviously.)



* besides that styrofoam cup I spoke of
Right. I'm as fallible as anyone, and more so at times. But by addressing the query specifically and exclusively to those who are convinced that this reality is deity-free (inexplicable "I am not an atheist" poll-response option notwithstanding), OP is posing a thought experiment.

"Atheists: Would you *prefer* that a god exist contrary to your conviction, here in this Universe or not?" would be a different question. It may in fact have been the question OP intended to ask, but once we get the explicit invitation to define such a god according to our own whims, we're clearly in the realm of Speculative Fiction.

Not that any of that really matters all that much. <shrug>
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:19 PM
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Right. I'm as fallible as anyone, and more so at times. But by addressing the query specifically and exclusively to those who are convinced that this reality is deity-free (inexplicable "I am not an atheist" poll-response option notwithstanding), OP is posing a thought experiment.

"Atheists: Would you *prefer* that a god exist contrary to your conviction, here in this Universe or not?" would be a different question. It may in fact have been the question OP intended to ask, but once we get the explicit invitation to define such a god according to our own whims, we're clearly in the realm of Speculative Fiction.

Not that any of that really matters all that much. <shrug>
I assumed that the OP is a theist, and thus that when he thinks about gods existing he thinks of them as existing concurrently with known reality, so I did interpret his question as "Atheists: Would you *prefer* that a god exist contrary to your conviction, here in this Universe or not?"

I didn't think he was asking anything like, "Atheists, imagine up a perfect utopia of endless happiness that is exactly what you want in every way, and which happens to have a deity curating it to continue to perfectly satisfy your desires and preferences. Would you like that?"
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:41 PM
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For clarification: It was hard to set the parameters in my OP. I wanted atheists to be able to define a god as they wanted (i.e., "I want a god who operates according to my ideas of justice and what is fair and right,") but at the same time, I wanted to filter out the sillier posts such as "I want a god who gives me the winning Powerball numbers, caters to my whims, gives me yachts and legions of fans, makes me the best martinis, etc."


Edit: Basically, you are free to define such a god as you like, in this thread, but don't turn the thread frivolous.

Last edited by Velocity; 09-13-2019 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:53 PM
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For clarification: It was hard to set the parameters in my OP. I wanted atheists to be able to define a god as they wanted (i.e., "I want a god who operates according to my ideas of justice and what is fair and right,") but at the same time, I wanted to filter out the sillier posts such as "I want a god who gives me the winning Powerball numbers, caters to my whims, gives me yachts and legions of fans, makes me the best martinis, etc."


Edit: Basically, you are free to define such a god as you like, in this thread, but don't turn the thread frivolous.
But is the god supposed to be one that could, in theory, coexist with the current world?

Like, would a god that has an irresistible compulsion to turn everything purple be under consideration?

Last edited by begbert2; 09-13-2019 at 05:53 PM. Reason: Or a god that prevents me from making typos?
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