Author Topic: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .  (Read 1286 times)

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Offline ButterFlavoredPam

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a theist. I study, I listen, and I evaluate opinions and I have found a somewhat plausible way for "God" to exist and be all the things the theists claim.   Well . . . most of them.

God creates a deterministic universe with a specific goal in mind . . . to wit . . . the maximum happiness for its occupants.  God wants this particular life form in his creation (this time) so he is constrained to create a universe that follows these natural laws (anthropic principle).  He creates the universe from scratch (big bang) and, because it is a deterministic universe following predictable laws, he is aware of all the consequences of the creation (omniscience).   In order to achieve the maximum amount of happiness for all occupants the creation must be "tweaked" from time to time because, left to its own devices, the creation would not generate optimal happiness (God changes his mind).  He can make ANY changes he wishes (omnipotence) but only makes those changes which further the goal of maximum happiness (omniscience, omni-benevolence) .  The creation would, therefore, be perfect in that the maximum possible good would be generated with the minimum possible suffering given the constraints of this particular form of life.   

Thoughts?

btw - Shoot me down.  I am NOT saying this is the gospel (pardon the pun) truth.  I will defend this opinion to the best of my ability and invite theists to do the same (if they agree with my representation of God).
“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.”
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Offline Nam

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2014, 11:41:21 PM »
(cough)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Foxy Freedom

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2014, 12:15:59 AM »
Disclaimer:  I am NOT a theist. I study, I listen, and I evaluate opinions and I have found a somewhat plausible way for "God" to exist and be all the things the theists claim.   Well . . . most of them.

God creates a deterministic universe with a specific goal in mind . . . to wit . . . the maximum happiness for its occupants.  God wants this particular life form in his creation (this time) so he is constrained to create a universe that follows these natural laws (anthropic principle).  He creates the universe from scratch (big bang) and, because it is a deterministic universe following predictable laws, he is aware of all the consequences of the creation (omniscience).   In order to achieve the maximum amount of happiness for all occupants the creation must be "tweaked" from time to time because, left to its own devices, the creation would not generate optimal happiness (God changes his mind).  He can make ANY changes he wishes (omnipotence) but only makes those changes which further the goal of maximum happiness (omniscience, omni-benevolence) .  The creation would, therefore, be perfect in that the maximum possible good would be generated with the minimum possible suffering given the constraints of this particular form of life.   

Thoughts?

btw - Shoot me down.  I am NOT saying this is the gospel (pardon the pun) truth.  I will defend this opinion to the best of my ability and invite theists to do the same (if they agree with my representation of God).

There is a big problem. We don't live in a deterministic universe.
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Offline Traveler

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2014, 12:28:49 AM »
Another big problem ... no way does this planet have anything near maximum happiness. Disease, hurricanes and other weather related catastrophes, drought, starvation ... this "maximum happiness" god is doing a rather piss poor job of it.
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 04:11:39 AM »
Another big problem ... no way does this planet have anything near maximum happiness. Disease, hurricanes and other weather related catastrophes, drought, starvation ... this "maximum happiness" god is doing a rather piss poor job of it.

Is this missing the point? Surely for maximum happiness people need training so we are presently in training for the place of maximum happiness after we die.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 04:14:03 AM by wheels5894 »
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Tero

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2014, 06:46:30 AM »
You cannot have happiness without some unhappiness. No matter who is creator. How would you know you are happy? You would get bored...and unhappy.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2014, 06:56:02 AM »
You cannot have happiness without some unhappiness. No matter who is creator. How would you know you are happy? You would get bored...and unhappy.

I see your point - we need contrasts to be able to appreciate the good. That's quite true. However, if we think of the world as it is and the world as it was in a centuries before we had done much in the way of medicine, it is clear that there is hugely more suffering in the world than is needed for contrasts with good. Even the 1918 flu pandemicWiki which killed more people than we managed in the 1st World War is a pretty good example. Do we really need to see 50 - 100 million deaths, 3 - 5 % of the world's population in order to feel good about a great day out to a theme park?

I still say that this world / universe is not maximised for good and that rather suggests it is naturally occurring and not the result of a creator god.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline penfold

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 08:51:06 AM »
...the maximum happiness... 

What does this even mean?

Are all types of happiness fungible? (How many Twinkies are there to a short weekend break? How many Sudoku's must I solve to equal the pleasure of becoming a father?)

What is the metric of happiness?

If there is a metric, why does it have a maximum?

If you talk of 'maximum possible', then 'possible' in reference to what?


The 'maximal good'[1] was a silly idea when Plotinus suggested it, it was a silly idea when Origen used it, it remained a silly idea when Leibniz took it up; even the modern theologian John Hick was unable to reduce its silliness. I am afraid it remains a really very silly idea.
 1. whether that be 'happiness', 'pleasure', 'preference', or any of the other 101 other indistinguishable versions you may prefer...
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 08:56:26 AM by penfold »
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2014, 09:15:09 AM »
I quite see the point, Penfold, it is rather hard to classify 'happiness'. Yet, silly it might be, it is the sort of argument needed to explain why the 3 omni god created a universe where most of it is hostile to life and even the bits we inhabit aren't that great always. of course, in the context of the NT is hardly makes any sense given that they were expected the end of things and the return of Jesus in their lifetimes so there wasn't time for happiness while preparing to 'meet you maker'!

I is certainly one of the hardest arguments in theodicy to sustain as even a flu epidemic can negate it!
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline penfold

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2014, 09:42:41 AM »
I quite see the point, Penfold, it is rather hard to classify 'happiness'. Yet, silly it might be, it is the sort of argument needed to explain why the 3 omni god created a universe where most of it is hostile to life and even the bits we inhabit aren't that great always.

I suppose, but then the whole project of scholasticism, to try and unite the idiosyncratic God of the bible with the rationality of Greek philosophy seems pointless to me. The 'omni-God' is really very remote from the God of faith, which is why these kinds of arguments have so little success in persuading anyone of anything...
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Xero-Kill

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2014, 09:44:15 AM »
So,  why create anything at all? If the goal is maximum happiness and minimal suffering then doesn't never having existed seem the optimal state? Which was worse, the infinite expanse before you were born or the brief moment known as life? Personally, I enjoyed the silence and the stillness; it wasn't until I found life that I learned to suffer.

 Edit: Words... Stupid tablet.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 09:52:26 AM by Xero-Kill »
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Offline Wasserbuffel

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2014, 01:28:40 PM »
Quote
You cannot have happiness without some unhappiness. No matter who is creator. How would you know you are happy? You would get bored...and unhappy.

I don't agree with this. One can certainly be happy without knowing unhappiness, or at least not unhappiness in the extremes of poverty, starvation, torture, rape, etc.

I rather think my dog is happy. Certainly she doesn't live in a 24/7 world of steak, walks, and napping, but she's given good food, soft bedding, and the communication skills to get her human to let her outside, play with her, or take her to do something fun. (I don't always obey, but then neither does she.)

I don't feel any need to kick her once a month to remind her how good she has it.

Granted, a dog's cognition is not the same as a human's, but with our capacity for abstract thought it would bee even easier for us to understand our happiness even without knowing just how bad it could be.

Online dloubet

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2014, 07:42:32 PM »
Besides, you're saying the god cannot create a thing that is happy-without-knowing-suffering. The god is thus not all powerful, and is operating under constraints it cannot ignore or subvert to satisfy its supposed omnibenevolent quality.

The argument that happiness requires contrast, even if true, should only apply to this universe. The god, being all powerful, should be able to create a universe where contrast is unnecessary for happiness. This would be the maximal happiness universe. Creating the universe in which contrast is necessary for happiness is deliberately creating unnecessary suffering.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2014, 07:47:59 PM by dloubet »
Denis Loubet

Offline ButterFlavoredPam

Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2014, 08:22:19 PM »
I'll try to cover these points as best I can. Again . . . disclaimer . . . I am positing a possible explanation from a theist point of view.  A possible explanation for the seeming contradictions inherent in an omni-max god.   I would welcome any true theists input (positive or negative).

Foxy Freedom  - You cannot simply say "We do not live in a deterministic universe" and expect me to take you on your word.  This universe in quite obviously deterministic.  So much so, in fact, that there is some discussion as to whether we have free will at all.  We have a "will" but it is not free.  Check out Sam Harris on Youtube.  Good stuff. 

Traveler - I agree that this universe does not have maximum happiness . . . yet.    Quite clearly, however, this universe is not finished.  It is a "work in progress".  This explains how an omniscient God would still need to tinker with his creation.  To make beer you cannot simply plant beer seeds.  You first plant barley but you know the end result you are working towards before you even till the ground.   Any creation is a process.

Tero - There are no solutions, only tradeoffs"  Steven Horwitz

Xero-Kill - Not the point.  I refer you to the anthropic principle  The existence of this universe with these laws makes it obvious that God made this universe for this type of life.  This question makes no sense in the absence of the questioner.  The Universe is here.  Given that it is here, what steps are needed to make it the best universe possible for all of its inhabitants? 

dloubet - Yes and no.  An all powerful God could do anything but anything that God did would have ramifications to his creation.  I reference the butterfly effect.  An omniscient god would be able to see the effects of those changes and plan accordingly.  An omni-benevolent god would only make changes that, in the aggregate, would eventually be good.  In this way we can eliminate the seeming contradictions in an omni-max creator.
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Offline Foxy Freedom

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2014, 08:42:14 PM »
Foxy Freedom  - You cannot simply say "We do not live in a deterministic universe" and expect me to take you on your word.  This universe in quite obviously deterministic.  So much so, in fact, that there is some discussion as to whether we have free will at all.  We have a "will" but it is not free.  Check out Sam Harris on Youtube.  Good stuff. 

That is a good imitation of a theist when you say "this universe is quite obviously deterministic". Are you sure about that? Do you know why the idea of "free will" does not answer the question about the universe being deterministic?
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2014, 09:48:04 PM »
Disclaimer:  I am NOT a theist. I study, I listen, and I evaluate opinions and I have found a somewhat plausible way for "God" to exist and be all the things the theists claim.   Well . . . most of them.

God creates a deterministic universe with a specific goal in mind . . . to wit . . . the maximum happiness for its occupants.  God wants this particular life form in his creation (this time) so he is constrained to create a universe that follows these natural laws (anthropic principle).  He creates the universe from scratch (big bang) and, because it is a deterministic universe following predictable laws, he is aware of all the consequences of the creation (omniscience).   In order to achieve the maximum amount of happiness for all occupants the creation must be "tweaked" from time to time because, left to its own devices, the creation would not generate optimal happiness (God changes his mind).  He can make ANY changes he wishes (omnipotence) but only makes those changes which further the goal of maximum happiness (omniscience, omni-benevolence) .  The creation would, therefore, be perfect in that the maximum possible good would be generated with the minimum possible suffering given the constraints of this particular form of life.   

Thoughts?

btw - Shoot me down.  I am NOT saying this is the gospel (pardon the pun) truth.  I will defend this opinion to the best of my ability and invite theists to do the same (if they agree with my representation of God).

Sounds intriguing but based on my limited understanding of God, I am at a loss to explain the apparent disconnect between maximum happiness and all the deaths due to war and suffering through the centuries.  How is "maximum possible good" measured or defined? 

Does this particular model allow for life on other planets? 

Ever curious,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline superfly

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2014, 12:03:51 AM »
The Earth wants to kill you, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, earthquakes, etc. About 71% of the Earth is covered in water, yet only about 1% is drinkable water.
Most of the wild plants are inedible or poisonous.
Venomous animals, and the fact that without weapons Humans are not at the top of the food chain (and weapons don't always help).
Shall we even discuss viruses and bacteria?

The rest of the known Universe is just as hostile.

MAXIMUM HAPPINESS? Really?

How do you describe "maximum happiness?"

How would you describe "maximum happiness" if you were born 10,000 years ago.

 
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Offline Xero-Kill

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2014, 12:14:28 AM »

Xero-Kill - Not the point.  I refer you to the anthropic principle  The existence of this universe with these laws makes it obvious that God made this universe for this type of life.  This question makes no sense in the absencce e of the questioner.  The Universe is here.  Given that it is here, what steps are needed to make it the best universe possible for all of its inhabitants? 


I think it hits the point precisely if you assume, as you did, that suffering is required in contrast to happiness in order to appreciate it. Remember, you're the one that is presuming that the end goal of this being is that of maximum happiness and were this the case then my original question stands. Why create anything if you want it to have maximum happiness as opposed to never exposing the creature to any of it. Oblivion is the perfect balance between happiness and suffering as the nonexistent have both qualities in equal amounts.

Are you suggesting that this omni-max being is constrained to having to create awareness or that it must impose dichotomy in order to achieve its goals? All these rules must be a bother. I argue the anthropic principle in this application because we are talking about an omni-max being that had the only true choice in existence. To be, or not to be?

In reality, I get the anthropic principle and agree, but in your presupposition this being has an opportunity from the outset to eliminate suffering or the need to experience it to any degree or to experience anything at all... any other choice negates the omni-max quality of the being in question in one way or another.

Can he end suffering but chooses not to? Then he is not omnibenevolent.
Does he want to but cannot? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why even consider him?

So I am arguing against the premise of omni-maxitude itself in that if suffering is a requirement for happiness then either god is a dick for making us in the first place or he is not omni-max.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 12:18:37 AM by Xero-Kill »
"Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen."

~Tyler Durden

Offline Foxy Freedom

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2014, 12:16:20 AM »
Here is another way to think about "free will" which you might not have thought about before. It is not meant to answer any wider question about whether the universe is deterministic. That should be obvious from Superfly's list above.

"Free will" means that all choices are equal. "Non free will" means that all choices are unequal. Do either of these sound remotely realistic?
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Offline penfold

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2014, 03:57:10 AM »
Foxy Freedom  - You cannot simply say "We do not live in a deterministic universe" and expect me to take you on your word.  This universe in quite obviously deterministic.  So much so, in fact, that there is some discussion as to whether we have free will at all.  We have a "will" but it is not free.  Check out Sam Harris on Youtube.  Good stuff. 

Not to knock Sam Harris[1] but just as you cannot assert "we do not live in a deterministic universe" you cannot simply assert the opposite. In fact Foxy is more likely to be correct at a physical level, our current best model, quantum theory, predicates that the universe is probabilistic not deterministic.

As for "free will" and the capacity to make moral decision, it strikes me that the modern ‘neurological’ approach of figures like Harris and Dennett falls into error. The most developed statement of this approach is Dennett’s Elbow Room[2]. He tries to build up a compatibility account by changing the reference of the term 'free will' from the idea of 'could have done otherwise' to 'acted on the basis of reasons' (in turn he then reduces 'reasons' to neurology and provides an evolutionary sketch as to their origins). Harris' argument is essentially the same. What both assume is that questions of the form "does Free Will exist?" are meaningful. They are wrong.

It seems to me the whole debate is far better served by paying close attention to how the words surrounding 'free will' are used (as opposed to how philosophers like Harris, would like them to be used!) What we quickly notice is that for the most part when describing our actions, or the actions of others we do not qualify them with respect to freedom at all. We say things like “I went to the shops” or “she ate an apple”; we almost never say “I freely went to the shops” or “she ate and apple by choice”. Ordinary language does not normally touch on the question of whether an action is free, the fact we do not qualify it as such should start to make us suspicious.

So when do we use words related to freedom? When we want to designate something out of the ordinary. Think of phrases like “the prisoner was set free”, “I did it unhindered"; or in a related but opposed sense “she conceded, under duress”, “I was forced to say that”. Similarly we possess a whole range of words which delineate really subtle degrees of responsibility for actions; compare the following: “I chose to do it”, “I did not mean to do it”, “I did it mistakenly”, “I did it by accident”, “I did it deliberately”, “I did it thoughtlessly”, “I did it poorly”, “I was not myself when I did it”, “I did it hesitantly”. Clearly in the ordinary course of things, we can distinguish between really fine degrees of freedom.

You may think this tells us little about whether “Free Will Exists”; but I would contend, that is a spurious question only of interest to philosophers. Our language with its myriad subtle distinctions and sensitivities to degrees of responsibility clearly shows that not only do we know we are free but we are sensitive enough to the varying degrees of our freedom that a whole suite of words have evolved to cope with it. It seems to me the claim “Free will does (or does not) exist” is an absurd abuse of language – it a meaningless question which serves no purpose other than a salt mine for academic philosophers looking to get published.
 1. Actually, f**k it, I will knock Sam Harris a wee little bit: while he is an excellent popularizer of philosophy and neuroscience he is a truly mediocre philosopher in his own right who has done little more than stand behind Dan Dennett saying "I agree".
 2.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_Room_(book)
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 03:58:43 AM by penfold »
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2014, 04:06:08 AM »
So far as the universe is concerned and our little corner, Earth, it could be argued that the conditions on earth are very much favourable to life. The price of getting to that stage, though, involves Plate tectonics and a core structure as we have which allows the heat from the inside to percolate to the surface and, of course, provides a magnetic shield to the planet. The certainly maximises our chance of avoiding the dangerous radiation from the sun.

The price for this is earthquakes and eruptions. These are often cited as 'natural evils' and do kill quite a lot of people and wildlife. Yet without the conditions on earth that give rise to these, we would probably not be here. One only has to look at the challenge of having people stay on Mars even for a short time to see how hard it would have been to have life evolve into us with no magnetic shield. So we could argue that the Earth is maximised for life - and human life at that. The oceans, though huge, need to be large in order for there to be lots of fish for us to eat.

On the other hand, some people will start to think I have gone to 'the other side' after reading the above. No, I haven't because the killer blow, so to speak, is that, according to the various holy books, god has created a heaven / paradise in which there is not more suffering, death etc. A place of peace and goodness. So the only question I have is, "If god can create such a place as heaven, why bother with the universe - a place so large we can't even measure it and a place we spend a very short time before death. Why not just have heaven to start with and give Satan the 'naughty corner' in case some humans misbehave?"
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Foxy Freedom

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2014, 06:26:16 AM »
Foxy Freedom  - You cannot simply say "We do not live in a deterministic universe" and expect me to take you on your word.  This universe in quite obviously deterministic.  So much so, in fact, that there is some discussion as to whether we have free will at all.  We have a "will" but it is not free.  Check out Sam Harris on Youtube.  Good stuff. 

Not to knock Sam Harris[1] but just as you cannot assert "we do not live in a deterministic universe" you cannot simply assert the opposite. In fact Foxy is more likely to be correct at a physical level, our current best model, quantum theory, predicates that the universe is probabilistic not deterministic.

As for "free will" and the capacity to make moral decision, it strikes me that the modern ‘neurological’ approach of figures like Harris and Dennett falls into error. The most developed statement of this approach is Dennett’s Elbow Room[2]. He tries to build up a compatibility account by changing the reference of the term 'free will' from the idea of 'could have done otherwise' to 'acted on the basis of reasons' (in turn he then reduces 'reasons' to neurology and provides an evolutionary sketch as to their origins). Harris' argument is essentially the same. What both assume is that questions of the form "does Free Will exist?" are meaningful. They are wrong.

It seems to me the whole debate is far better served by paying close attention to how the words surrounding 'free will' are used (as opposed to how philosophers like Harris, would like them to be used!) What we quickly notice is that for the most part when describing our actions, or the actions of others we do not qualify them with respect to freedom at all. We say things like “I went to the shops” or “she ate an apple”; we almost never say “I freely went to the shops” or “she ate and apple by choice”. Ordinary language does not normally touch on the question of whether an action is free, the fact we do not qualify it as such should start to make us suspicious.

So when do we use words related to freedom? When we want to designate something out of the ordinary. Think of phrases like “the prisoner was set free”, “I did it unhindered"; or in a related but opposed sense “she conceded, under duress”, “I was forced to say that”. Similarly we possess a whole range of words which delineate really subtle degrees of responsibility for actions; compare the following: “I chose to do it”, “I did not mean to do it”, “I did it mistakenly”, “I did it by accident”, “I did it deliberately”, “I did it thoughtlessly”, “I did it poorly”, “I was not myself when I did it”, “I did it hesitantly”. Clearly in the ordinary course of things, we can distinguish between really fine degrees of freedom.

You may think this tells us little about whether “Free Will Exists”; but I would contend, that is a spurious question only of interest to philosophers. Our language with its myriad subtle distinctions and sensitivities to degrees of responsibility clearly shows that not only do we know we are free but we are sensitive enough to the varying degrees of our freedom that a whole suite of words have evolved to cope with it. It seems to me the claim “Free will does (or does not) exist” is an absurd abuse of language – it a meaningless question which serves no purpose other than a salt mine for academic philosophers looking to get published.
 1. Actually, f**k it, I will knock Sam Harris a wee little bit: while he is an excellent popularizer of philosophy and neuroscience he is a truly mediocre philosopher in his own right who has done little more than stand behind Dan Dennett saying "I agree".
 2.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_Room_(book)

Probabilities are not just at the physical level but also in daily life. What is the chance I can reach the other side of the road without being killed? Will my car break down? Will I have to wait for a tow truck in the rain? Well, yes, the weatherman said it would be sunny, but he has been wrong before. I see "human will" as operating in the way the universe usually chooses, constrained freedom within a range of probabilities of decision. The constraints are genetics and environment. You can't choose sexual preference or to believe in a god. On the other hand you can completely change your life with a totally free decision if you have an equal liking for two jobs in two different places. In many decisions you will have a preference of one outcome over another but not always.
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Offline ButterFlavoredPam

Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2014, 09:42:28 PM »
OK, so this is my LAST disclaimer.  After this, is anyone joins the party late and doesn't take the time to read the previous posts . . . tough luck.  Please don't attack my “beliefs”.  Attack my model.

Before I respond to the previous posts I want to clarify something.  I am attempting to build a model for the universe that incorporates what I was taught about God while  simultaneously offering a plausible explanation for the apparent paradoxes those beliefs seem to create.  I don't need ALL the answers to do this.  I do need a workable model that can be expanded to incorporate new data as it is presented.  The failure of this model would be evidence (EVIDENCE, not theory) that would directly refute my model.  I am trying to build a falsifiable model of theist thinking.  A falsifiable model that has not been disproven can be considered a working theory. 

Foxyfreedom – Perhaps it was too early in this discussion to raise the specter of free will.  The model of the universe I am proposing does not need to be completely deterministic to be correct.  We know, for example, that water cooled to 0 degrees Celsius will freeze.   We know what type of actions to apply to water and what tools to use to achieve this result.  In that respect the universe is deterministic.  We do not need to know how each atom reacts independently.  I am proposing an omniscience of results.  An “omniscient” God is defined, by my model, as a God who knows what has happened in the past, what is happening now, and what will happen (based on the current state of the universe) in the future.  More of a “Harry Seldon” omniscience. 

Actually, I quite like that.  Lets call it “Functional Omniscience”.

Old Church Guy Superfly - I would define “Maximum Possible Good” or “Maximum Happiness” as the maximum amount of happiness for the maximum number of living organisms within the constraints of the laws of this universe.  Yes, I would include all life everywhere.  The fact that I cannot measure “happiness” or “good” does not mean that it is not quantifiable.  Burning alive  is much lower on the happiness scale and is much worse than an orgasm.  Wouldn't you agree?

Xero-Kill – You attributed Tero's post to me.  I never said that suffering was needed to appreciate happiness.  I cannot defend other people's posts.  My response to Tero's post was meant to convey the theory that, given the laws of the universe we live in, there may be a balance between good and bad, pain and pleasure, etc.

As to your main point . . . I will admit that it is a puzzle.  I do not, however, agree that your three questions and answers represent all possible questions and answers.  The universe exists, as it is, because that is how this universe was created by God.  The questions you are asking make no sense in the absence of this universe. 

Let me ask you something . . .  Have you ever been happy in this universe?  Have you ever been sad?  Are you suggesting that, because you have been sad it would have been better for you not to exist?  Are you mad that you were created?  Why is God a dick for creating you?  It would not be possible to have created “you” in your present form anywhere else.  Shouldn't you thank God that you are alive to ask these questions?

The point to Xero-Kill also covers “why not create heaven first?”.  The answer, but simply, is that it wasn't.  Anthropic Principle again.  This discussion has no merit in Heaven.  As to the “Free Will” questions, I introduced that too early in the discussion.  Lets nail that down if my model holds up under the net set of questions.  Theists, how am I doing?
         
“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.”
 Heinrich Heine

Offline Jesuis

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2014, 12:19:38 AM »
Disclaimer:  I am NOT a theist. I study, I listen, and I evaluate opinions and I have found a somewhat plausible way for "God" to exist and be all the things the theists claim.   Well . . . most of them.

God creates a deterministic universe with a specific goal in mind . . . to wit . . . the maximum happiness for its occupants.  God wants this particular life form in his creation (this time) so he is constrained to create a universe that follows these natural laws (anthropic principle).  He creates the universe from scratch (big bang) and, because it is a deterministic universe following predictable laws, he is aware of all the consequences of the creation (omniscience).   In order to achieve the maximum amount of happiness for all occupants the creation must be "tweaked" from time to time because, left to its own devices, the creation would not generate optimal happiness (God changes his mind).  He can make ANY changes he wishes (omnipotence) but only makes those changes which further the goal of maximum happiness (omniscience, omni-benevolence) .  The creation would, therefore, be perfect in that the maximum possible good would be generated with the minimum possible suffering given the constraints of this particular form of life.   

Thoughts?

btw - Shoot me down.  I am NOT saying this is the gospel (pardon the pun) truth.  I will defend this opinion to the best of my ability and invite theists to do the same (if they agree with my representation of God).
I like your thinking, but what if God has no mind.
We think of God with our minds and our minds experiences and place God in that concept of humanizing God -- what if we are wrong with the first concept?
According to Theists: Theists know God, Atheists don't.

Offline Jesuis

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2014, 12:38:39 AM »
Theists, how am I doing?
 
I also have given much thought to these questions and done further reading than most religious folk and apparently more than your average atheist. I have critically questioned the beliefs of both sides of the argument. Unable to express them like you have and granted you are doing a fine job. However, because God has eluded me thus far I remain an atheist until a Theist(one who knows God) shows me God or where I have gone wrong.. I also hate beliefs so it is not about a believer it is more about information. I like to think of myself a V-GER in the Star Trek Movie, where the v-ger unit wants to join with the creator, but I detest killing out all of creation because the creator would not answer.
 
However I can throw some light on this problem of explanations. Its called the Body, Mind and Spirit problem.
Unless you understand and express that wisdom to your audience and that they have the background knowledge it will end in a lost quest to enlightenment. I wish you luck.
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Offline penfold

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2014, 05:04:59 AM »
I would define “Maximum Possible Good” or “Maximum Happiness” as the maximum amount of happiness for the maximum number of living organisms within the constraints of the laws of this universe. 

This is not a definition, it is a re-arrangement of words.

Quote
The fact that I cannot measure “happiness” or “good” does not mean that it is not quantifiable. 

That is exactly what it means, to quantify is to divide into quanta, ie to put into measurable units.


You keep saying you want your system 'tested' but until you provide any kind of working definition of 'maximum happiness' you don't have a system at all! Put in scientific terminology your theory is seriously under-defined, and like any under-defined system it will make any number of predictions and so is effectively untestable.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 06:46:55 AM by penfold »
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2014, 05:17:26 AM »
I would define “Maximum Possible Good” or “Maximum Happiness” as the maximum amount of happiness for the maximum number of living organisms within the constraints of the laws of this universe. 

You keep saying you want your system 'tested' but until you provide any kind of working definition of 'maximum happiness' you don't have a system at all!

I concur.  Unless you can quantify happiness, how can you be sure you are working towards maximum happiness for the most people?  Because the implication there is that you may have to make some people unhappy so more people can be happy. 

But what if one person is made VERY unhappy, so that ten people can be made slightly happier?  How unhappy would the one person have to be, before the trade off becomes unworkable - and maximum happiness would actually be acheived by having the ten be slightly less happy, and the one being a lot more happy?

- - -

What makes it harder, of course, is that hapiness is sometimes a zero-sum game (I/You are only happy when we beat the other at tennis), and sometimes not (I/You are both happier when we are together).  And sometimes both at once (when my two bracketed statements coincide).  Is my increased happiness at being with you balanced with the loss in happiness when you beat me at tennis?

I don't believe happiness IS quantifiable, not least because the same inputs will give different outpute for different people.  So Utilitarianism becomes a "best guess", with all the dangers of one person saying "I know what is best for you".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline ButterFlavoredPam

Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2014, 04:19:45 PM »
Fair point and fair questions but there seems to be a double-standard in play here. 

Traveler commented that “In no way does this planet have anything near maximum happiness”.  Wheels5894 commented that “ . . . this world is not maximized for good”.  Penfold, your comments immediately followed these two but you did not take them to task for claiming to know these things without a way to quantify “happiness” or “good”.  Can you please explain this?  How could Wheels5894 possible know that the we are not near maximum happiness?  Why aim your comments just at me?

Now, to be fair, I understand your question and, as it ties in with Anfauglir, I will answer you both in the following response.

We do not “need” a way to quantify maximum happiness until the very end.  There is no reason to specifically quantify happiness until you need to “prove” that the top of the curve has been reached.  All I need to do to advance my model is to say that happiness (or good) is increasing.  We are certainly better off (read more happy in aggregate) as a race now than we were 4000 years ago.  All I need to show is an upward curve.  God's plan is working.  Perhaps not as quickly as we would like but it is working.

To your last point, Anfauglir, the speed of light was not quantifiable 400 years ago.  The distance between the stars and Earth was a non-sense question 1000 years ago.  An algorithm to measure the  aggregate happiness is conceivable even if it cannot be realized at this time with this level of technology.
“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.”
 Heinrich Heine

Offline ButterFlavoredPam

Re: I try to think like a theist . . . so riddle me this . . .
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2014, 04:29:26 PM »
Unless you understand and express that wisdom to your audience and that they have the background knowledge it will end in a lost quest to enlightenment. I wish you luck.

Thank you for the comments but I disagree with this point.  There is no evidence to support that this universe is anything but physical.  God made the universe this way and set it on this course.  Presumably the course needs to be altered from time to time but that is not unreasonable.  A cook often alters temperatures and ingredients throughout the cooking process.  If souls exists, under the model I am suggesting, they are (ie we are) observers,  Riding, watching, and experiencing this universe.  Jesus said to love your enemy.  What better way to love your enemy than to realize that they are merely observers as well?
“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.”
 Heinrich Heine