If there were no God


This doesn’t have to do with the point, but I wanted to add that the pain was manageable for all the kids my wife birthed - and one was sans epidural.

Just want to toss that out to somewhat counter the popular notion that birth is this near-impossible thing that young ladies should dread doing.

Just want to add that in no way will I defend “design” as an idea that exists separate from the scientific understanding of evolution.


There is a difference. This isn’t an example of of meta-anything, however.

It is when it defines a particular ethical system. :wink:

We’ll go with this one, since it’s easiest to see where you’re mistaken in this case.

If, in mathematics, I made a statement something like “there is absolutely no set of positive integers that contains a negative number”, then that is not a “meta-mathematical” statement, but a mathematical one. I have just provided a definition of the null set.

That’s what the definition at hand has done. It’s a definition that attempts to posit a null set. Therefore, it’s about ethics, not something you want to call ‘meta-ethics’.

What’s really funny about it is that, in the attempt to define the set of “ethics systems that are absolute”, and in attempting to define it as a null set… it places itself in that set! So, by definition, it’s attempting to call a set with cardinality 1 as “null”!

So, no… this doesn’t fly. We can talk about whether there’s such a thing as an absolute ethical code, but the statement at hand neither disproves its existence nor clumsily proves that it does exist. It simply fails to demonstrate anything. :man_shrugging:

Sorry, my friend. You really need to study what you wish to argue about. Because all you display here is your ignorance. Now, ignorance is not a problem - per se. The problem is digging in your heels and refuse to learn.

Yep. So, as a statement of opinion, it has value. As an attempt to create a definition… not so much.


But how is it the result of free moral agency?

That’s a most astonishing statement. It is so free from any contact with what I would regard as morality that I can’t find any of the common ground that would enable me to reply to it.


And this might seem a pedantic point but the black mark is given to the person who says that his God is goodness Himself where there is zero evidence in the real world that this proposed deity gives a rat’s buttocks for the entities that inhabit it.

If God exists, and creation doesn’t have to exist, I’d say mere existence itself is point #1. We sound a bit whiny. I’m guessing most of the atheists posting here have rather comfortable lives in the West. Meanwhile, some of the most horrid conditions are also marked by intense faith in God. Think of the third world. The point is, if God exists, then every good thing is indeed from God. Even mere existence, even the favorite song you hear on the radio.

But also, point #2:


The tooth decay as opposed to cancer was merely an example, to show that the pain - as a warning sign of an impending problem - is extremely poorly implemented. Not to mention that it is an inferior mechanism compared to the regeneration. Moreover, most of the pain humans experience has nothing to do with a “warning mechanism”.

What nonsense. Most of our responses to the outside world are fast, and we all rely on the duck principle. We don’t need to set up a hypothesis that a rabid dog with a foaming mouth is “really” something to be avoided. But even as a starting point of an analysis it is the best tool there is.

Well, I guess some retrospect is in order. I will just quote here.

Your words:

My reply:

So you said:

And my reply was:

And your reply was what I already quoted above. Sorry, you are hopeless. Not ALL pains are the result of some moral agency. Not every Catholic here of CAF believes this.

So you are WRONG on too many levels to even enumerate.

Then your standard is too low. My powers to help others is much lower than I would like it to be.


Yes, that WOULD be a valid argument. Unfortunately God is silent, and does not explain what were the advantages of the genocides. In the lack of explanation we use the “duck principle” as a HYPOTHESIS, and conclude that there is no valid reason to allow the evil to happen.

Looks like that you do not understand the “duck principle”. It goes: “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and tastes like a duck then it is VERY PROBABLY a duck”. It might be that this "seemingly duck-like entity is not “really” a duck… just VERY MUCH like a duck. Are you happy now?

So now the onus is on YOU, to show us the benefit of allowing the Holocaust and allowing the tsunamis which mow down uncountable random people. To say that this “next-to-unlimited-free-will” is intrinsically good - regardless of the outcome - is untenable. Free will is good, if it is used correctly. Free will is bad when it is abused. Is this not obvious?

It depends on the value of the theft. If the thief happened to take the final dosage of a life saving medication then it is very serious indeed. Allowing the terrorist to blow up a dirty bomb is exactly as bad as doing it yourself. And the law does NOT disagree.


Of course it is. There are several ethical systems, namely: “virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics, and deontological or duty-based ethics.” The point is that different people subscribe to different “schools” - therefore there is NO universal ethical system acceptable by everyone. This denial says nothing about the system that someone in particular happens to accept.

What you say is just another variant of “atheism is a religion”. Atheism is NOT a religion, just like “baldness is NOT a hair style”, or “health is not a disease, it is the LACK of a disease”. Just think about it.

Which it does not. You need to show that the lack accepting any particular ethical system actually involves a set of rules which define an ethical system.

Both you and Vonsalza keep on repeating that what we say is not a “fact”, merely an “opinion”. Of course it is an opinion - just like what you keep on asserting. But we are willing to admit it, while you don’t.

All you did was come up with an incorrect example.


And again, you don’t seem to be right about this. Lots of cancer can take years - even decades - to develop and kill you. An infection in your teeth needs weeks or months.

Your claim of poor implementation is just more pseudo-religious hand-waving.

You’ve been shown to be clearly wrong here, but obviously you’re not letting rationalism interfere with your ideology.

Which is entirely different from the process of establishing facts, or “truth”.

Simply; you’re all over the place, here.

No. Some Aquinas is in order.

And more subjective hand-waving…

As such, the only empirical solution we can draw is “Dunno…”. But you don’t seem to let that fact hold you back. :wink:

The problem here, for the umpteenth time, is that the test you employ to jump from hypothesis to conclusion is nothing more than your own intuition. Which is different from my intuition. Which is different from the intuition of that guy over there…

No it isn’t. I didn’t assert that there was a benefit to the Holocaust. I just asserted that a god that values free moral agency above most other things would do little-to-nothing to stop it.

You just wish I needed to show that holocausts are beneficial in a way you subjectively accept (another impossible task as your appeal here is emotional, not rational).

Oh yes it does, you’re just in denial.

It’s why one man may be charged with the crime and his pal will be charged with aiding and abetting.

Your handle wouldn’t have been Vera_Ljuba once-upon-a-time here, would it? :thinking:


That wasn’t the claim, however. Let me refresh your memory:

See? He’s not asserting that there’s no universal moral code – just that there is no moral code which is absolute. (That’s why your argument fails, here – you’re arguing a different case than that which is being discussed. :man_shrugging:)

Except that, when the claim is “there is no absolute …”, it’s a truth claim – not of ‘opinion’, but of ‘fact’. :wink:

Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur… :wink:


Quote, please.

The first step is always using our senses. The next step is trusting what we have established using them. That is the duck principle.

In other words, I quoted your own words back to you, and you don’t like it. Not everyone here at CAF and elsewhere agrees that ALL suffering is due to human actions. Did Aquinas state that somewhere? I can’t really believe that Aquinas could have said something so far in the future.

Uh-oh. What does “most other things” entail if genocide is A-OK with him? Genocide means nothing in the face of “free will”? Fortunately we do not have such a horrible value system. We (as humans) do not “value” the freedom of sociopaths and psychopath, we curtail them as much as we can. Ever heard of jails and prisons?

The point was that gratuitous pain and suffering is incompatible with a loving deity. From that principle it follows that you - as the self-proclaimed apologist - must establish that allowing the Holocaust was “better” than preventing it. At least try to be somewhat consistent in your arguments.

Depending on the circumstances. Also in the current legal system in the US. Allowing something (like the Holocaust) to happen that you could have prevented is equally despicable as doing it yourself.

No. Why? I frequently use a public computer in our public library. And I log off every time, so that no one else can use my avatar.


The discussion has progressed since that. The point is the difference between “ethics” and “meta-ethics”. And they are STILL not the same.

Are you aware of the plethora of ethical systems “out there”? I presented a few. Is “atheism a religion? is baldness a hairstyle? is health just another disease?” I suggest you print this out and put it above your computer, so I don’t have to repeat it all the time. I would appreciate your courtesy.

In that case just present an refutation. Purported but incorrect facts are easy to refute. Of course a “truth claim” can easily be “just an opinion”… just look into a mirror and say something.


Re the toothacbe (I can’t be bothered cutting and pasting - not easy on a tablet), you’re looking at a period that represents a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of human existence. We need to look at timescales when we were in our infancy. Agriculture is very, very recent in those terms.

And the default position is not ‘I have an idea of what a designer should be’. The default position is: ‘This is what it is’. All those with explanations please take a ticket.


The assumption is different. It is: “I have an idea of what a rational, all-knowing, all-powerful and all-benevolent designer would/should have otherwise done”. Whether one actually believes that there is such designer / creator - is irrelevant. It is just a thought experiment.

From the all-knowing aspect it follows that this hypothetical designer knows about the pain and suffering.
From the all-powerful aspect it follows that this hypothetical designer can remove all the pain and suffering, except those which would lead to a logical contradiction.
From the all-benevolent aspect it follows that gratuitous pain and suffering could not exist. Pain and suffering could exist if that pain would be logically necessary to achieve some specific greater good, which could not be achieved if that pain and suffering would be removed, or even lessened even a miniscule amount.

Of course you try to have your cake and eat it, too.

There are two, diametrically opposite defenses against the “problem of evil”. One is the “free will defense”, which says: “the (nearly) unlimited free will is so valuable in the eyes of the designer, that gratuitous evil is accepted as a corollary of the freedom”. The other one is the “greater good defense”, which says: “there are SEEMINGLY gratuitous evil events, but they are really not gratuitous, because they are logically necessary to bring forth that unspecified, nebulous greater good”.

Neither of them “works”. The unlimited free will is only valuable in the eyes of an evil or indifferent designer. The greater good defense is an empty proposition, UNLESS the apologist can establish that every piece of suffering is logically necessary to achieve that specified and “greater” good. Which leads to the necessity to have a valid and sound argument to establish both that “greater” good, AND that removing a miniscule amount of the suffering would jeopardize that “greater” good.

It is childishly simple to see that the amount or suffering shows a decline with every advancement of medical science.

So the apologist has no defense.

Moreover, it is also childishly simple to design a world without pain and suffering. Use heaven as a prototype. :slight_smile:


I guess Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t that big of a deal then. The pain just ‘was.’ Not much of a sacrifice, since the pain he felt was not ‘bad.’


Someone said a long time ago that Jesus’ death was just a temporary inconvenience. Its human equivalence would be a “bad hair day”.


If you’re too lazy to keep up, then I’m too lazy to spoon feed. I’m guessing 2 or 3 exchanges ago, above?

Absolutes are like swordsmen. You only need one exception/thrust to get through in order to kill it.

It’s also “confirmation bias”…

The duck principle is mean by which you form a hypothesis. If you want to call the outcome “truth”, then more testing is needed. You know this.

Yes, actually… thus why I raised the point that some Aquinas is in order. So rather than quoting my own words back to me, you’ve issued a dodge. Fair enough.

Where did I say that genocide was A-OK to a possible god?

Despite your darnedest to move the goal-posts, here, you’re still stuck at the suggestion that perhaps the theoretical god values free moral agency more than the lives of its actors.

And, again, it’s only incompatible if the loving deity doesn’t place a higher value on the free moral agency than it does the possible negative outcomes of its enacting. You just don’t have an answer for that.

Thank you for the rational concession.

He/she has presented all your arguments before in roughly the same way. They’ve been absent for awhile now.


It’s our increased consumption of agricultural goods that made toothaches as common as they are. When we were on the “paleo” diet as a species, they were almost certainly a far more rare occurrence.

If you don’t take a presupposition of what the designer “ought”, then you have no basis on which to levy your critiques. All you can state is that “what is, is - whether there’s a god or not”.

That does nothing to tip the scales either for or against.

As you still present an argument, this mean there’s a disharmony between the defaults (this and yours).


And what you consistently refuse to admit is that the theoretical god’s rational basis and your rational basis do not have to match. As I’ve pointed out above, my wife and I approach dcertain issues with different rationales. ON that basis, would you like to argue that she also does not exist? Or that I don’t exist?

If, and only if, the value of the “gratuitous pain and suffering” was greater to that god than the value of the existence of free moral agency.

Since you can’t measure any of that for comparison, the very very best you actually have is “Well, I disagree!!!” And fine with me.

I’m tired of telling you this. There’s more than two. Stop trying to force a false dichotomy in order to suit your views.

Sure they do. You just don’t like the implications so you dismiss them as “not working” when all that’s really happened is you’ve just had another disagreement.

Who’s referring to “unlimited free will”? Certainly not me.

I can’t spontaneously fly. Or buy a billion dollar island. My will is quite limited.

Maybe you need to use “free moral agency” and readjust your arguments to suit?

It’s childishly simple to see that our advances in medical science and agriculture have spiked populations on this planet to a point where there’s many more people that suffer. You just don’t want to see the other side of the coin because your pseudo-religion ideologically blinds you to it.

And annihilate moral agency in some way…


I would imagine that the value of Christ’s death lies in who it was that died and why. Not how painful the death was.

I’m certain there are people who suffered worse deaths than a man who was crucified and died over one afternoon. Some unlucky fellows have been recorded hanging on a cross for days before perishing.

If you gave me the choice between dying/dissolving from radiation burns over three weeks or crucifixion, I pick crucifixion.


Yet, under most all Christian teaching, the Russian boy who tortuously died slowly from the radiation from Chernobyl, or the Japanese girl, who’s skin melted until she died in agony from the A-bomb, are now at the blink of beginning of their life (and death) sentence of roasting for all of eternity because they didn’t accept the crucified man from a few thousands of years prior, as their Lord and Savior. Sick, utterly sick.

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