Dead philosophers in heaven. Including the obviously necessary Nietzsche meeting the very god he called dead.
A bit immature at times, but fun times all the same.
I recommend this little site;
The games are mostly simplistic, but a few of them are fun.
Hmm. I just took the "Battleground God" quiz on that site and thought I'd share my thoughts on it. I came through OK except for getting this message:
"You answered True to questions 10 and 14.
These answers generated the following response:
"You've just taken a direct hit! Earlier you agreed that it is rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.
The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not."
I think there are three problems with this objection, respectively in it's metaphysics, it's epistemology and it's rhetoric.
1. The first problem (metaphysical) is that it equates the Loch Ness Monster with God. But not all faith based beliefs are created equal.
There are several major differences between belief in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and belief in the existence of God not the least of which is that the Loch Ness Monster is an entirely physical entity. The Loch Ness Monster is claimed to be part of the natural order, which you can photograph if you're lucky enough to see it. The Loch Ness Monster is definitely well within the reach of the scientific method and if it did exist, I'm sure some underwater scanners of some kind could detect it.
But apart from a miracle, you cannot give that same kind of evidence for the existence or nonexistence of God because, unlike the Loch Ness Monster, God is supernatural. There is no lake to scan. It is therefore not a logical contradiction to demand different standards of proof for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and of God, because different modes of existence could very well demand different standards of proof. So the error here is a failure to acknowledge the metaphysical problems that exist for an objector to God that don't exist for an objector to the Loch Ness Monster.
2. The second problem (epistimological) with this reasoning is that it divides beliefs into categories of "rational beliefs" and "faith based beliefs." These are useless categories because all beliefs are either justified by some faith based assertion in the end or are unjustified. Whether it's "I Am that I Am" or "I Think Therefore I Am" somewhere along the line, there's a faith based assertion at the back of any consistent position. See the Infinite Regress Argument which I resolve via Foundationalism. So the double error here is describing faith based beliefs as irrational and describing rational beliefs as not being faith-based.
3. The third problem (rhetorical) is in how this guy's questions are worded:
Question 10: "If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist."
Yes, believing that the Loch Ness monster doesn't exist in that situation is rational. But it doesn't follow that continuing to believe that the Loch Ness monster does exist is irrational, which is what the author seems to imply from one's answer to this question. It's quite possible to claim that both parties are rational in the great debate over the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, even though only one of them can be right.
Question 14: "As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality."
This question creates a, "When did you stop beating your wife?" dilemma. This would be a dilemma in which you've been asked a question that demands a range of possible answers that excludes the truth, because you've never started beating your wife and so couldn't have stopped doing what you never did.
Mad Hatter: "Alice, would you like a little more tea?"
Alice: "I haven't had any yet, so I can't very well have more."
Angry Mad Hatter: "THAT WAS A YES OR NO QUESTION! ANSWER YES OR NO!"
I would say that rational atheism is a matter of faith AND rationality, as is rational theism. But if you answer true, you're saying that atheism isn't a faith based position, and if you answer false, you're saying that atheism is irrational. Neither answer is correct. So the error here is rhetorically trapping the participant into answering falsely no matter which response (s)he chooses.
So I didn't transverse this guy's "battleground" entirely unscathed, but I'm not all that concerned because I've given three good reasons why this particular bullet is ineffective and all I need to stop the bullet is one.
I know you guys have nothing to do with this guy's site, it's just that it creates an interesting dilemma. All the other questions are mostly pretty good, I might word a few of them slightly differently to remove ambiguity. Other than that, a slightly adapted version of this little quiz would, I think, be great for seminaries to start using. It's obvious this guy is being pretty fair-minded and is interested in the truth, not in bashing people he disagrees with, which is great. I'm gonna look at some of the other stuff on there too :)
I usually get shot because I believe the traditional definition of God is contradictory and bending logic and morality should be one of his abilities since he is omnipotent, but that brings up a bunch of paradoxes and gets me shot.
For your problems;
1. Not Metaphysical so much as a difference in the nature of what is believed in. The Lockness monster is defined as a massive sea monster in Lock Ness. it occupies a strick spatial area and if you emptied out the lake, you would find it and be able to poke it with sticks. God on the other hand, is unprovable and cannot be disproven. This has been argued by countless philosophers, Sartre asserted that if you heard a voice compelling you to do something [perhaps give all your money to orphans and become a monk] a theist would likely assume God was talking to them [provided it was something in accordance to their interpretation of the bible and not murdering kittens] while an Atheist, no matter how many burning bushes he sees would claim it was just a delusion. If the sky lit up and said "I am your God, talking to you" it could just as easily be sufficently advanced aliens dicking around with us. Once you take the Cartesian Demon or Gnostic Demiurge into account, there is literally no way, no matter how much evidence you are presented with, of declaring God existent. This goes both ways of course that Atheists can never do anything more than reduce God to a deist concept and that would involve proving everything that happened ever was a strict matter of impersonal causality.
2. I think it is going by the Popperian model, where in there is a means to test it, then it is considered Scientific while if it is impossible to test, it is considered Unscientific.
Question Ten: This is Induction. The burden is on the new belief. See Hume for a solid refutation of this [and also an admittion that it generally works and we'd all be screwed without it].
Question Fourteen: The meaning of this question is where the onus lies, do Theists have to prove God before it gets induced to our system or is it a matter of faith until it is 100% proven? At least that's how I'd read it.
Yes my idea of God gets past all the paradoxes quite neatly at the expense of not being "omnipotent" in the popular sense, but that's fine because the popular sense is crazy. God's power is the power to do all that is intrinsically possible and no one, not even God, can accomplish a truly absolute logical impossibility because that would be just silly.
1. Naturalism and supernaturalism are metaphysical positions therefore it seems to me that the natural object believed in is metaphysically different from the supernatural one. I may not be using the term "metaphysics" correctly, I don't know but that's how it seems to me. Maybe I need a better definition of metaphysics.
2. That would be fine but that's not what he says. He uses the terms, "Rational" and "Faith-Based" which are not the same thing. I would be willing to concede the belief in the existence (or nonexistence) of God is not a scientific belief, but do not agree that it is therefore irrational.
3. Hume's is the new idea. Theism is old and the kind of atheism that's popular today is new. Lewis accused Hume of engaging in circular reasoning on the question of the supernatural/miracles when he wrote:
"The question, “Do miracles occur?” and the question, “Is the course of Nature absolutely uniform?” are the same question asked in two different ways. Hume, by sleight of hand, treats them as two different questions. He first answers, “Yes,” to the question whether Nature is absolutely uniform: and then uses this “Yes” as a ground for answering, “No,” to the question, “Do miracles occur?” The single real question which he set out to answer is never discussed at all. He gets the answer to one form of the question by assuming the answer to the other form of the same question.”
As to your statement about a determined atheist ignoring any possible sign of God's existence, I think you're quite right, but I don't think this shows that God is "unprovable" merely that a truly determined materialist will not be swayed by any possible proof or evidence of the supernatural no matter how obvious it becomes. (Not saying it's obvious now)
Some theologians believe there is a way for God to *force* knowledge of his existence onto a person, but I don't think so because that violates free will. It may be that at some point when everyone's free will has been fully spent or exercised, knowledge will then be unavoidable but whether that is the case or not, people aren't supposed to be forced to believe in God in the here and now. I think this is why we aren't provided with obvious proofs, having that kind of proof would be forcing.
There's a scene in "The Last Battle" in which a group of materialistic dwarves are in "Heaven" surrounded by every possible wonder but they continue to believe they're barricaded inside a smelly stable waiting for the next wave of attackers from the battle because that was the last purely naturalistic thing to happen to them. Aslan tries to give them things to make them happy but they do not believe that any of the things are real, such as when they believe a great banquet to be mud and straw from the stable even as they eat it. They refuse to believe in any of the supernatural events that are occurring around them and spend eternity trapped in a prison of their own making within their own minds. They are in "Hell" not because of any vindictive edict of a tyrannical god but because they've put themselves there and nothing that anyone can show them will make them see.
I don't mean to use this illustration as a critique of materialists in the here and now, today, and I don't think Lewis meant it that way either, but I think it shows there's something wrong with the kind of epistemology that refuses to accept anything outside our normal experience.
See The Golden Compas Triology for a refutation of that scene invovling a delusional group of monks who thought Hel [closer to Norse than Christian] was Heaven by deluding themselves.
God is a very loose term, especially without omnipotence. Especially with any sufficently advanced tech. It is impossible to know whether we are look at God, Decarte's demon or just sufficiently advanced aliens/the matrix. The typical minimal definition of a montheistic God relies upon being the ultimate good but because we are limited by nature, we can only know subjective good at which point God becomes a measure of power which I doubt you want to admit to.
Haven't read "The Golden Compass" though I probably need to, but that doesn't sound like a refutation. It sounds more like a corollary, particularly since "The Great Divorce" is full of people in the exact situation of being in hell but believing they're in heaven. The inverse of the "Last Battle" analogy can be equally valid. The point wasn't the specifics of who is where, but the type of delusion. I don't actually believe in the same ideas of heaven and hell that are popular but that's not relevant. The epistemological dilemma is the point there. Do you think the Golden Compass series is worth reading? I've heard that it was a cheap knockoff from various Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Eragon, Snicket and Harry Potter fans. They could all be wrong, I'd have to read it to find out.
I think I know what you mean and you're right about "God" being a very loose term, but if it was defined by the kind of "omnipotence" I reject, it would become incoherent.
Speaking of epistemology, I just watched "Inception" last night and now I've got a major headache. Spent all night having weird dreams that would force me awake because I tried to imagine what the room looked like after the people in the movie woke up. But the room wouldn't be there if they woke up, so I woke up. All these weird paradoxes going on in my brain. Even the Matrix didn't manage to do that. "Inception" is now somewhere very high on my list of favorite movies.
You're right, my point was mostly that, I felt the scene was supposed to be a reference to it. More directly, in the scene you could imagine the Monks as the main characters while the rest would be the Dwarves.
I think it tries to be a children's novel for Atheists, so that they have a choice outside of Narnia and the like which all have fairly strong Christian over-tones. It falls in to a lot of the fallacies of Narnia, in that it gets a little preachy. It has some interesting points [Panzer-Bjorn kicked ass] and an interesting amount of Greyness invovled but to be honest is fairly generic plot wise. It's mostly good for reading if you want a generic fantasy written from a new perspective and don't mind it getting a bit preachy.
Anyway, my point was that God is Omnipotent serves as a fairly decent way to define him without much dispute from any Monotheists [even Polytheists tend to have a God or Essence that they see as all a ruling force behind the Gods that is all powerful, ex. The Greeks and Fate.]
Final Note: I tried to set up a movie review corner here. So if you want to post your opinions on Inception, other movies or Novels or anything really, I'd love to debate you on a few points if I can find any. I promised Halc I'd watch inception a while ago but I've not had a moment of free time.
"God is Omnipotent" - well God is omnipotent in the only way that omnipotence can have any coherent meaning; omnipotence being the power to do anything that is intrinsically possible. The things which God can't do are not "things" but nonentities.
OK I might check it out sometime. On the subject of fantasy, I recommend the "James Potter and the Hall of Elder's Crossing" fanfic series for anybody who didn't get enough Harry Potter from Rowling's books. I also rather like some of it's politics.
I knew the movies review corner wouldn't go to waste.
I'd prefer mind-screwy stuff that we can argue implications over but if there's something you highly recommend, then I'm not going to stop you.