God , the Moral Wizard?

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God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on February 8th, 2018, 8:10 pm 

French existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus understood this, too. Sartre portrayed life in his play No Exit as hell—the final line of the play are the words of resignation, "Well, let's get on with it." Hence, Sartre writes elsewhere of the "nausea" of existence. Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus's hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

Thus, if there is no God, then life itself becomes meaningless. Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.

-- William Lane Craig (1994) ch.2 from Reasonable Faith.

Please do some footwork on Mr. Craig before continuing this thread. It will give enormous insight that I will not repeat here.

The question we will face in this thread is that if God is required to give any meaning to life, in what way does he do that, exactly? What is the mechanism of Meaning-Giving by God?

Ironically, this question is never answered by WL Craig, not in chapter 2, and nowhere else in his book does he finally answer that question. For those who doubt me, go ahead and read it yourself http://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil3600/Craig.pdf

Instead Mr. Craig just keeps asserting "Life has no meaning without God" over and over again like a parrot, or a stuck record. He never lays out specific logic for why this is the case. He most definitely never describes the mechanism by which God gives life meaning. Page after page, I wanted Craig to make specific testable claims about the history and evolution of homo sapiens and other animal and plant species. He never does so. Instead of making direct claims about the world , the universe, and its history, he merely keeps parroting the theory of evolution as "the conclusions reached without God". Is Craig meaning to claim that the theory of evolution would not be reached as a correct theory with God? He never answers that either, anywhere.

What does Craig even mean by the phrases "With God" and "Without God"? What exact states-of-affairs do these phrases intend to communicate? As you can guess, these questions are left completely un-answered as well.

Francis Crick halfway through his book The Origin of the Genetic Code begins to spell nature with a capital "N" and elsewhere speaks of natural selection as being "clever" and as "thinking" of what it will do. Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer, attributes to the universe itself the qualities of God. For Carl Sagan the "Cosmos," which he always spells with a capital letter, obviously fills the role of a God-substitute. Though all these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces.


Rest assured, Crick , Hoyle and Sagan do not adopt these assertions due to their inability to "bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces". So we can cut off Craig immediately on that angle.

But more importantly, for this thread, what in the world does William Lane Craig mean by impersonal forces? If impersonal forces are not what is happening in the universe, then is there an alternative type of force--- an opposite kind -- a "personal force" ?

The universe we inhabit and the universe we observe is ruled by forces that follow the laws of physics. No literate person of the 21st century doubts this. The above quote is the only in-road I was able to find in Craig's writing where he seems to implicitly claim that this God thing actually intervenes in the universe in a real physical way... via his "personal forces" -- unlike those pesky "impersonal forces" that we all hate.

Now I have set the stage for where I want to go with this article and this thread. What is the mechanism by which God imbues life with meaning? Some plausible answers go like so:

1. God and his entourage of invisible disembodied angels leave the universe alone and leave humanity alone as the physical forces of the universe play out. Wars, famine, genocide, and death camps -- God and his angels sit and watch quietly as this happens. But there is an afterlife, and that's where God and angels get really busy to interact with deceased humans. They don't bother with the afterlife of insects, plants, or birds or fish. Just humans. But outside this afterlife moral courtroom drama, the rain goes where physics dictates, and the blood of wars washes off the sidewalks.

2. God interacts directly with the universe physically -- but obviously these interactions are extremely rare in occurrence. (adopting Craig's verbiage) God does these direct interactions with the universe by means of 'personal forces' , which are very different in nature than the "impersonal forces" that so horrify Crick, Hoyle, and Sagan.

Since we have no indication that Craig wants to describe an afterlife moral courtroom, and we do have evidence that Craig asserts the existence of "personal forces" -- I will concentrate solely on number 2.

This rare, often absent, God that very rarely interacts physically with the physical universe is the picture we have. We might also say that this God is also the entity which authored the laws of physics of this universe, and then put those laws into affect by actually creating the universe we inhabit. (add Craig quotes here if you need them)

That particular God is inept and shortsighted. Why? Because that God was unable or unwilling to create a universe that has intrinsic meaning. He was unable to author the laws of physics in such a way that morality is intrinsic to its operation. Instead, the inept sophomoric God could only muster the creation of a universe that ticks away by "impersonal forces" -- and then on occasion, whenever he feels like it, he shows up to intervene in the universe to correct or change something. He does these mid-course corrections by some kind of magic that operates by "personal forces".

That God is not the God of Einstein. The god of Einstein was the author of the laws of physics.

Craig's god is a bearded ghost wizard. He waits on the sidelines until his flawed, meaningless clockwork physics universe does something he doesn't want, wherein he suddenly intervenes in it using magic. His magic is the subversion of the laws of physics, which would normally play out in spacetime without God's intermittent interventions. By William Lane Craig's own admission : this is the only means by which God imbues this meaningless universe with meaning. By waving a magic wand at it!

His magical interventions are never well-timed. He likes to wait until the last minute, just to keep things dramatic. To make sure Act III has a nice climactic plot arch. So not until the death camps are stacked with dead bodies, and the burning ovens are full, does he leap up from his throne to cast a moral-correcting spell.

Craig's God is like an inept software developer who pushed a buggy product on unwitting consumers, only to correct those bugs as He goes along.

William Lane Craig's God is a Ghost King on an invisible Throne. He sits on his throne holding a magic wand that can subvert the regular laws of physics, if in some rare event he feels like intervening. He was so inept , so stupid, and so shortsighted that he simply could not make a better universe than the one we find ourselves in.

That's okay though. God can make mid-course corrections if need be, as we go.

Craig's God is , at first, not worthy of anyone's worship. Second, the whole concept is bankrupt. A bearded magical King on a sky throne is a fairy tale. It is the product of archaic , magical thinking that should have disappeared in the late middle ages.

No literate person in the 21st century could possibly take these ideas seriously. Not given what we now understand about biology, about physics, and about the cosmos and galaxies.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on February 21st, 2018, 6:24 pm 

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote:
French existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus understood this, too. Sartre portrayed life in his play No Exit as hell—the final line of the play are the words of resignation, "Well, let's get on with it." Hence, Sartre writes elsewhere of the "nausea" of existence. Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus's hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

Thus, if there is no God, then life itself becomes meaningless. Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.

-- William Lane Craig (1994) ch.2 from Reasonable Faith.

Please do some footwork on Mr. Craig before continuing this thread. It will give enormous insight that I will not repeat here.

The question we will face in this thread is that if God is required to give any meaning to life, in what way does he do that, exactly? What is the mechanism of Meaning-Giving by God?

The trouble I see is how any mechanism by which God gives meaning to things will not also work for people, unless you reduce people to no more than tools which does seem to be what a lot of Christians (and other theists) end up doing. They often talk about the purpose of life as if we were created by design with a function for the designer just as tools are. This is very convenient for those who use religion as a tool of power and the God they described seems just as obsessed with power and control as they are. It is as if they cannot imagine why anyone would ever relinquish power and control over everything and the implications of this for human life as well as parenthood is frightening.

The truth is, of course, that meaning is conferred by any person in a completely subjective manner -- whether the context is theology, evolution, or something else.

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote: Ironically, this question is never answered by WL Craig, not in chapter 2, and nowhere else in his book does he finally answer that question. For those who doubt me, go ahead and read it yourself http://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/phil3600/Craig.pdf

Instead Mr. Craig just keeps asserting "Life has no meaning without God" over and over again like a parrot, or a stuck record. He never lays out specific logic for why this is the case. He most definitely never describes the mechanism by which God gives life meaning. Page after page, I wanted Craig to make specific testable claims about the history and evolution of homo sapiens and other animal and plant species. He never does so. Instead of making direct claims about the world , the universe, and its history, he merely keeps parroting the theory of evolution as "the conclusions reached without God". Is Craig meaning to claim that the theory of evolution would not be reached as a correct theory with God? He never answers that either, anywhere.

Of course, he doesn't. That would light up the dark underside of his theology. It is a theology of pure authoritarianism, dominance, threat and fear. Morality and meaning requires dictation from an authority. Why? Frankly the only real reason is because this is how a religion of power operates -- conferring authority on those who wish to exercise power over others.

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote:What does Craig even mean by the phrases "With God" and "Without God"? What exact states-of-affairs do these phrases intend to communicate? As you can guess, these questions are left completely un-answered as well.

I don't see a problem with this. His thinking is apparently that if we imagine a universe without God then according to him this would be a universe "logically" without meaning and without morality -- not that we would agree with his assessment.

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote:Francis Crick halfway through his book The Origin of the Genetic Code begins to spell nature with a capital "N" and elsewhere speaks of natural selection as being "clever" and as "thinking" of what it will do. Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer, attributes to the universe itself the qualities of God. For Carl Sagan the "Cosmos," which he always spells with a capital letter, obviously fills the role of a God-substitute. Though all these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces.

I think you are overreaching here somewhat. One can derive meaning from a context like evolution without turning nature into a deity -- unless you actually define deity in this way which is rather circular. That is not to say that you can do it without some element of subjective judgement, for on that I would entirely agree. Certainly we can agree that just as an explanation of origins always has to start somewhere, whether with God by the theist or with laws of nature by the naturalist, so also does any rational argumentation have to begin with some set of premises somewhere.

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote:Craig's god is a bearded ghost wizard.

... at best ...

Throw in some of the other elements of his theology like his eternal torture chamber into which he throws anyone who dares to challenge his arbitrary dictates and what you have looks more like a devil.

hyksos » February 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm wrote:
No literate person in the 21st century could possibly take these ideas seriously. Not given what we now understand about biology, about physics, and about the cosmos and galaxies.

This is manifestly incorrect. Since literate people in 21st century do take these ideas seriously.

To correct this you may want to focus on the science angle a little more to ask how anyone can understand and respect the method of honest objective inquiry in science and yet embrace such an authoritarian basis for meaning and morality without some measure of cognitive dissonance.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on February 25th, 2018, 7:21 pm 

mitchellmckain,

There is so much material here it is hard to go in any particular direction without robbing the oxygen from the other directions. Anyways, let me return to this angle. Craig quotes a number of different european philosophers who have concluded that the universe is meaningless. Craig does this without explicitly stating his sophistry tactic out loud. The persuasiveness of his argument boils down to : "Look at all these esteemed writers, philosophers, and scientists of Europe have drawn the same conclusion as I have!"

WL Craig wrote: Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus's hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

I think this statement is in need of some cross corroboration and fact-checking. Does the protagonist in The Stranger really refer to a universe specifically without a god? Or is that a fancy hook suffix that Craig threw in to make The Stranger more relevant to his own theological bloviating?

You know why I'm asking this, (but to be more explicit for passersby ) is the protagonist of that novel really wrestling with the fact that an Craig-inspired God not exist? Is the protagonist of the novel really primarily concerned with the lack of existence of some American-styled authoritarian Bible-belt like God?

William Lane Craig has not only identified the problem in The Stranger, but with his sneaky sophistry, seems to also imply The Stranger contains the solution too. At the end of the day, Craig's sophistry is really communicating something like this :

"Albert Camus wants an authoritarian moral sky wizard just as much as I do!"
. . . "and so does Nietzsche, and Sartre, and all these scientists that I name-drop in my little theology paper!"

A short skimming of an article about L'Etranger raised my eye brows. There is apparently nothing in the novel about God, at all. Or religion. WL Craig makes it seem like the protagonist is "crying out to God to give meaning to the universe" or some such gobbledegook. There is nothing in the contents of the novel itself that is even remotely near that interpretation.

Image

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stranger_(novel)

I would ask, just to throw it out there.. is WL Craig being factually disingenuous with his sources?

The most anyone could glean from L'Etranger is that the protagonist (Mersault) believes his own life is meaningless. Not that "life" (the biological phenomenon on earth's surface) is meaningless.

This shines a very bright light on what WL Craig is actually attempting to argue in his little theology article. Craig is not referring to a type of "meaning of life" which refers to plants, mammals, fish, birds, and so on having a cosmic grand meaning. By "life" Craig seems to be talking about the life which appears in the conversation that two working people have on a subway ride. "So how's your life?" This is the version of "life" that mean career, wife, children, and a house with a dog. Craig is not making a statement about the "meaning" of bacteria and fungus.


To express some thoughts in the back of my mind about this without too much committal. At this point I don't even think that Craig is writing theology at all. This looks more like an evangelical sermon written in text and published with a date on it to make it all officially-looking. I feel this is true because Craig is instead talking about giving meaning to the "Struggles of life" meaning the struggles that come with work, career, and wife-and-kids type of things. The 'struggle' that Mersault has at his mother's funeral in L'Etranger.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on February 25th, 2018, 9:14 pm 

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:mitchellmckain,

There is so much material here it is hard to go in any particular direction without robbing the oxygen from the other directions. Anyways, let me return to this angle. Craig quotes a number of different european philosophers who have concluded that the universe is meaningless. Craig does this without explicitly stating his sophistry tactic out loud. The persuasiveness of his argument boils down to : "Look at all these esteemed writers, philosophers, and scientists of Europe have drawn the same conclusion as I have!"

WL Craig wrote: Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus's hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

I think this statement is in need of some cross corroboration and fact-checking. Does the protagonist in The Stranger really refer to a universe specifically without a god? Or is that a fancy hook suffix that Craig threw in to make The Stranger more relevant to his own theological bloviating?

I don't remember such a comment in the book. But it would not be inconsistent with his other books, so I would not be terribly surprised if it was there.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:You know why I'm asking this, (but to be more explicit for passersby ) is the protagonist of that novel really wrestling with the fact that an Craig-inspired God not exist? Is the protagonist of the novel really primarily concerned with the lack of existence of some American-styled authoritarian Bible-belt like God?

No, the protagonist spends no thoughts about God that I remember. The book does show the hypocrisy of the religious basis of society, however. But what I remember most of the protagonist in the end is his willingness to embrace the totality of his life experiences, even the bad ones.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:William Lane Craig has not only identified the problem in The Stranger, but with his sneaky sophistry, seems to also imply The Stranger contains the solution too. At the end of the day, Craig's sophistry is really communicating something like this :

"Albert Camus wants an authoritarian moral sky wizard just as much as I do!"
. . . "and so does Nietzsche, and Sartre, and all these scientists that I name-drop in my little theology paper!"

And I say "balderdash" to him! What Camus, Sartre, and even Christians like myself want is a morality based on objective reasoning rather than upon arbitrary dictates of supposed "authorities" whether human or divine, especially if they are to be enforced by law in a free society. This doesn't preclude personal moral commitments and prohibitions like vegetarianism and other religious fetishes as long as those are understood to be no more than your own preference and not a basis for condemning others. It is just plain unreasonable to expect other to accept your claims, moral or otherwise, if you have no objective evidence that such things are in any way harmful to any sentient beings.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:A short skimming of an article about L'Etranger raised my eye brows. There is apparently nothing in the novel about God, at all. Or religion. WL Craig makes it seem like the protagonist is "crying out to God to give meaning to the universe" or some such gobbledegook. There is nothing in the contents of the novel itself that is even remotely near that interpretation.

Well we are all quite familiar with the way many of the religious filter their perceptions through the dictates of their religion. This is not only frustrating to those of science but I think was frustrating to Jesus also with his frequent laments about those who close their eyes and ears and thus refuse to see or hear anything which they don't want to acknowledge or believe.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:I would ask, just to throw it out there.. is WL Craig being factually disingenuous with his sources?

One thing we see the religious frequently doing is repeating the claims of others in their religion as if they were the irrefutable truth.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:The most anyone could glean from L'Etranger is that the protagonist (Mersault) believes his own life is meaningless. Not that "life" (the biological phenomenon on earth's surface) is meaningless.

But I don't think Mersault believes any such thing -- quite the opposite. This is more like the judgement of others both in his society and among his readers who are deciding that his life is meaningless.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:This shines a very bright light on what WL Craig is actually attempting to argue in his little theology article. Craig is not referring to a type of "meaning of life" which refers to plants, mammals, fish, birds, and so on having a cosmic grand meaning. By "life" Craig seems to be talking about the life which appears in the conversation that two working people have on a subway ride. "So how's your life?" This is the version of "life" that mean career, wife, children, and a house with a dog. Craig is not making a statement about the "meaning" of bacteria and fungus.

Of course. That is the kind of meaning which religion generally addresses.

hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:To express some thoughts in the back of my mind about this without too much committal. At this point I don't even think that Craig is writing theology at all. This looks more like an evangelical sermon written in text and published with a date on it to make it all officially-looking. I feel this is true because Craig is instead talking about giving meaning to the "Struggles of life" meaning the struggles that come with work, career, and wife-and-kids type of things. The 'struggle' that Mersault has at his mother's funeral in L'Etranger.

Well, is his audience for this particular writing academia or the general public? If the latter, then like Dawkin's book, "The God Delusion," it is more a work of mere opinion and solicitation than scholarship.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on February 26th, 2018, 7:48 am 

mitchellmckain » February 26th, 2018, 5:14 am wrote:
What Camus, Sartre, and even Christians like myself want is a morality based on objective reasoning rather than upon arbitrary dictates of supposed "authorities" whether human or divine, especially if they are to be enforced by law in a free society.

I do see that you identify as a Christian.

Here is a little ironic note about the title I chose for this thread. Re: God , the Moral Wizard?
Consider what the pope has recently said about this issue.

Pope Francis wrote:When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.

My title matched his sentiment closely. The coincidence was totally unintentional.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on February 26th, 2018, 2:18 pm 

hyksos » February 26th, 2018, 6:48 am wrote:My title matched his sentiment closely. The coincidence was totally unintentional.


I have often made the comment that many "literalist" Xtians in their opposition to evolution make the creator in Genesis sound like an ancient necromancer making golems of dust and bone. And yet I would also not go so far as many of the more liberal theologians as treating the whole story as merely metaphorical -- saying that Adam represents early man in general or something like that. I think it is clear from the context that the story is meant to be taken as historical in nature. And yet for me, nothing shouts symbolism in the Bible louder than the names of those two trees in the Garden. Thus I chart a course between the extremes.

On the one hand I take this story as talking about two people who really existed and telling us about an event that explains how we got where we are. On the other hand, I point out that there is no such things as magical fruit which imparts either knowledge or eternal life. If this story is to have great meaning for our lives then it must be talking about things which are a part of our lives. Thus I see the things which God does in the story in terms of a parent dealing with children and all the elements of the story as representing things in real life. There is only the most basic premise of the whole Bible that there is a spiritual side to our existence epitomized in a spiritual being who created everything.

So while I do not metaphoricalize the whole story away, I do not take the story at face value either (what I tend to refer to as childish literalism), and as with everything, science remains the filter through which I see the world. So, although I see Adam and Eve as historical people I do not take them to be the first of the species, and in fact would interpret the phrase "formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" to mean that God created the species from the stuff of the Earth (and thus by its own rules and natural law) and then he spoke to one of them (with His "still small voice" to provide the inspiration or memes which created the human mind).

Thus I do not see the God of the Bible as an ancient necromancer or magician using magical powers in a time long ago that we see no evidence of in our lives today, but as a motivating influence acting within the laws of nature which makes as one the miracles of the past and the miracles of the present, which can certainly be dismissed as coincidence by the skeptical scientist.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby Asparagus on February 26th, 2018, 2:44 pm 

hyksos wrote:Instead Mr. Craig just keeps asserting "Life has no meaning without God" over and over again like a parrot, or a stuck record. He never lays out specific logic for why this is the case.

The disturbing notion that life is fundamentally meaningless appears in the oldest known work of literature (the Gilgamesh epic.) It appears again in an astonishingly beautiful work known as Ecclesiastes (found in the Old Testament).

Christianity has a streak of teleology to it which is particularly vibrant in Protestant sects. It's actually not true that the Christian God necessarily provides a solution to nihilism, but since the Protestant version is dominant at this point, I think we can forgive someone who omits mentioning that.

Forget Craig. Step a toe into Nietzsche. :)
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on February 28th, 2018, 4:31 am 

Asparagus » February 26th, 2018, 1:44 pm wrote:
hyksos wrote:Instead Mr. Craig just keeps asserting "Life has no meaning without God" over and over again like a parrot, or a stuck record. He never lays out specific logic for why this is the case.

The disturbing notion that life is fundamentally meaningless appears in the oldest known work of literature (the Gilgamesh epic.) It appears again in an astonishingly beautiful work known as Ecclesiastes (found in the Old Testament).

It seems that the lesson people learn from the same works can be vastly different. For example, what I learned from Camus was not that life is meaningless but that the opposite is the fundamental existentialist faith. Do not however confuse faith with dogma as the Gnostics calling themselves Xtians often do. It is not the dogma of existentialism that life has meaning but the question of existentialism. "Existence precedes essence" means that we have to find meaning in life for ourselves. We have to confront the question of whether life has meaning and find our own answer to it. It is only in this way that we can find a meaning to life which is authentic.

And all of this shows that meaning in life is a matter of faith -- a matter of our own choice, because if we expect it to be handed to us or demonstrated to us, then we will be disappointed. We can sift through the evidence for meaning all of our lives and find nothing but ashes. I see this in the thoughts and feeling of Mersault at the end of "The Stranger." In Camus' essay, "The Myth of Sisyphus," it is a matter of having such faith in our convictions that we can defy unjust gods even if it is hopeless. This idea of the meaning of life being a matter of faith is the message I also see being told in Ecclesiastes as well.

Much in Ecclesiastes is in many ways inapplicable to the modern era, because rather than nothing new under the sun we actually see new things every day, and many of the things the author claimed that man cannot understand are actually things that we are beginning to understand now. Of course, you can suggest that this just means that the applicability of Ecclesiastes has narrowed. Thus we often say that the more things change the more they stay the same, because there are some ways in which nothing has changed, and everything new and great in modern times hints ominously that we only have that much farther to fall. Our advances stand on rather precarious ground.

Of course, someone like Craig, will just see confirmation of his own idea in Ecclesiastes, that meaning for life is only found in a relationship with God. But for me, being both Christian and existentialist, this is just a reason to see an equivalence between the faith of the theist in God and the the simple faith of many others that life is worth living.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on March 4th, 2018, 6:52 pm 

Ecclesiastes reads like Albert Camus transported himself back into the ancient Levant. In chapter 2, you can practically see the author sitting on bar stool leaning on the counter;a half-smoked cigarette perched between his fingers. He whirls his brandy in a glass with ice cubes and muses to himself :

I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 30th, 2018, 11:40 am 

mitchellmckain » February 25th, 2018, 8:14 pm wrote:
hyksos » February 25th, 2018, 6:21 pm wrote:mitchellmckain,

There is so much material here it is hard to go in any particular direction without robbing the oxygen from the other directions. Anyways, let me return to this angle. Craig quotes a number of different european philosophers who have concluded that the universe is meaningless. Craig does this without explicitly stating his sophistry tactic out loud. The persuasiveness of his argument boils down to : "Look at all these esteemed writers, philosophers, and scientists of Europe have drawn the same conclusion as I have!"

WL Craig wrote: Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus's hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

I think this statement is in need of some cross corroboration and fact-checking. Does the protagonist in The Stranger really refer to a universe specifically without a god? Or is that a fancy hook suffix that Craig threw in to make The Stranger more relevant to his own theological bloviating?

I don't remember such a comment in the book. But it would not be inconsistent with his other books, so I would not be terribly surprised if it was there.


I found a text of the book online and searched it for the word "God." First I found his discussion with the magistrate.

I started to tell him that he was wrong in insisting on this; the point was of quite
minor importance. But, before I could get the words out, he had drawn himself up to
his full height and was asking me very earnestly if I believed in God. When I said,
"No," he plumped down into his chair indignantly.

That was unthinkable, he said; all men believe in God, even those who reject Him.
Of this he was absolutely sure; if ever he came to doubt it, his life would lose all
meaning. "Do you wish," he asked indignantly, "my life to have no meaning?"
Really I couldn't see how my wishes came into it, and I told him as much.

Here we see that W. L. Craig is practically a character in Camus' book. Isn't that hilarious?

Craig is certainly wrong in his summation. Mersault does not come to the conclusion that God does not exist. He never believed in a God and couldn't see what this belief of some people had to do with anything. We see in both the magistrate and in Craig this attitude that belief in God is the default, and I find this just as obnoxious as the common atheist attitude that atheism is the default.

Next I found the following from his discussion with the priest after he was convicted.

It might look
as if my hands were empty. Actually, I was sure of myself, sure about everything, far
surer than he; sure of my present life and of the death that was coming. That, no
doubt, was all I had; but at least that certainty was something I could get my teeth
into — just as it had got its teeth into me. I'd been right, I was still right, I was always
right. I'd passed my life in a certain way, and I might have passed it in a different
way, if I'd felt like it. I'd acted thus, and I hadn't acted otherwise; I hadn't done x,
whereas I had done y or z. And what did that mean? That, all the time, I'd been
waiting for this present moment, for that dawn, tomorrow's or another day's, which
was to justify me. Nothing, nothing had the least importance and I knew quite well
why. He, too, knew why. From the dark horizon of my future a sort of slow,
persistent breeze had been blowing toward me, all my life long, from the years that
were to come. And on its way that breeze had leveled out all the ideas that people
tried to foist on me in the equally unreal years I then was living through. What
difference could they make to me, the deaths of others, or a mother's love, or his
God; or the way a man decides to live, the fate he thinks he chooses, since one and
the same fate was bound to "choose" not only me but thousands of millions of
privileged people who, like him, called themselves my brothers. Surely, surely he
must see that? Every man alive was privileged; there was only one class of men, the
privileged class. All alike would be condemned to die one day; his turn, too, would
come like the others'. And what difference could it make if, after being charged with
murder, he were executed because he didn't weep at his mother's funeral, since it all
came to the same thing in the end? The same thing for Salamano's wife and for
Salamano's dog. That little robot woman was as "guilty" as the girl from Paris who
had married Masson, or as Marie, who wanted me to marry her. What did it matter if
Raymond was as much my pal as Celeste, who was a far worthier man? What did it
matter if at this very moment Marie was kissing a new boy friend? As a condemned
man himself, couldn't he grasp what I meant by that dark wind blowing from my
future? ...

From this we can perhaps see how Craig might have come up with his conclusion, but in truth Craig is like a cut out stick figure from Camus' book in his nearly mindless response to this. The point Mersault is making that we all die and nothing we do or believe is going to make any difference to that. But he doesn't say this makes it all meaningless. On the contrary he says all men alive are privileged to be alive, and I think the reason he says this is because he does see life as worthwhile even when it ends in execution. To be sure, a great deal of life is absurd. But we don't have to rush from that either to a desperate belief in God or to the despairing conclusion that life has no meaning or value. Indeed, we see in Mersault's final hours a determination to enjoy every last minute of the life he has been given.

But it is also interesting that in this soliloquy of Mersault I also feel like I am reading from Ecclesiastes. And it makes me laugh how Craig can contrive such a different meaning to the two writings which sound so much the same.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on April 10th, 2018, 2:40 am 

And it makes me laugh how Craig can contrive such a different meaning to the two writings which sound so much the same.

The real paradox is what I brought to light in the crux of this thread. W-L Craig is repeating and fully admitting that the universe he sees him around him is "default" meaningless.

Logically, this means the God that created this universe could do no better than what we see. As much power as He is purported to have, He simply could not insert meaning into it de novo. He has to lord over the universe and "attach" meaning and morality onto it from the outside -- like a person trying to fix a leaking roof.. with duct tape.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2018, 6:46 pm 

hyksos » April 10th, 2018, 1:40 am wrote:
And it makes me laugh how Craig can contrive such a different meaning to the two writings which sound so much the same.

The real paradox is what I brought to light in the crux of this thread. W-L Craig is repeating and fully admitting that the universe he sees him around him is "default" meaningless.

Logically, this means the God that created this universe could do no better than what we see. As much power as He is purported to have, He simply could not insert meaning into it de novo. He has to lord over the universe and "attach" meaning and morality onto it from the outside -- like a person trying to fix a leaking roof.. with duct tape.


I think I sort of understand what you are saying, though perhaps I would say it differently... like this...

It is only natural and logical that God would make the universe in such a way that it serves the purpose for which he made it. It that case this purpose should be evident in what he has made rather than requiring an authoritarian dictation that seems rather far from evident and maybe even contrary to the way of things. Then even worse than fixing a faulty creation it would be like forcing square pegs into round holes, expecting everyone and everyone to fulfill his "purpose" contrary to their own nature. More than simply inept it would suggest this creator is a bit perverse.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 10th, 2018, 9:00 pm 

typo...

expecting everyone and everything to fulfill his "purpose" contrary to their own nature.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on April 30th, 2018, 2:26 pm 

It is only natural and logical that God would make the universe in such a way that it serves the purpose for which he made it. It that case this purpose should be evident in what he has made rather than requiring an authoritarian dictation that seems rather far from evident and maybe even contrary to the way of things. Then even worse than fixing a faulty creation it would be like forcing square pegs into round holes, expecting everyone and everyone to fulfill his "purpose" contrary to their own nature. More than simply inept it would suggest this creator is a bit perverse.

I expect that Braininvat is going to have a coronary when he reads this.I pretty much expect him to either delete this post, lock the thread, or both.

Somehow this thread has digressed from a discussion of W L Craig -- and now has turned into a completely distinct debate about theology. The claim I actually made was about meaning-- not about fairness, logic or naturalness. I have no reason to attribute "goodness" to a creator of the Universe one way or another. Nor to attribute "fairness" nor to attribute the lack of or presence of "authoritarian dictation". All these attributes are completely on-the-table as far as I'm concerned.

But now another person is in this thread, now going-on-the-defense, describing what the actual God of this universe would Actually be like. I will remind the forum participants that Mr McKain is not speaking from a position of factualness or evidence. Rather he seems to be saying "Well, wouldn't you prefer the God creator to be natural and logical, and to not be an authoritarian dictator?"

My first response (to such salesmanship) is that : My opinions and my preferences mean nothing at all to this subject. The creator of the Universe could be a psychopath dictator for all I know. Perhaps he is a "bit perverse" and perhaps He's not. How would I know one way or the other?

{{ More interestingly -- how would Mr. McKain know this , one way or another? }}

The thread has turned on a dime. No longer discussing "Religion" , which is the title of this section of the forum. We are no longer even discussing W L Craig. We are no longer discussing Camus and L'Etranger. We are now just two men banging heads discussing detailed theological musings.

I don't have any privileged access to any creator, or his intentions, or his "purposes". I do have access to the universe that He created and I can likely surmise things about it from that viewpoint and perspective. I come to a philosophy forum to discuss Religion as a sociological and cultural phenomenon. A PHILOSOPHY FORUM should never approach religion from outside those boundaries.

In short, this is not a theology forum. There may be places on the internet for theology debates -- but this is likely not one of them.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on April 30th, 2018, 2:30 pm 

In any case, questions along the lines of . . .

+ "What is God really like?"

+ "What are his intentions?"

+ "How would God have created a universe so good triumphs over evil in the end?"

Such topics are fine grist for a theology forum. I'm pretty sure this website is not that place.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on April 30th, 2018, 2:34 pm 

hyksos » April 10th, 2018, 10:40 am wrote:
And it makes me laugh how Craig can contrive such a different meaning to the two writings which sound so much the same.

The real paradox is what I brought to light in the crux of this thread. W-L Craig is repeating and fully admitting that the universe he sees him around him is "default" meaningless.

Logically, this means the God that created this universe could do no better than what we see. As much power as He is purported to have, He simply could not insert meaning into it de novo. He has to lord over the universe and "attach" meaning and morality onto it from the outside -- like a person trying to fix a leaking roof.. with duct tape.

Somewhere the wires got crossed. This post is not me capriciously opining about the Nature of God from my own personal perspective. Rather, if you read carefully what I actually wrote .. what that post above actually says is : "If we agree to everything that W L Craig has said, then it follows logically that etc_etc_etc" .

This is a corner that Craig has painted himself into with his own logic -- not my "personal theology about God". Somehow, wires got crossed in the communication there. I will try to be more clear next time.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby TheVat on April 30th, 2018, 3:07 pm 

hyksos » April 30th, 2018, 11:26 am wrote:
It is only natural and logical that God would make the universe in such a way that it serves the purpose for which he made it. It that case this purpose should be evident in what he has made rather than requiring an authoritarian dictation that seems rather far from evident and maybe even contrary to the way of things. Then even worse than fixing a faulty creation it would be like forcing square pegs into round holes, expecting everyone and everyone to fulfill his "purpose" contrary to their own nature. More than simply inept it would suggest this creator is a bit perverse.

I expect that Braininvat is going to have a coronary when he reads this.I pretty much expect him to either delete this post, lock the thread, or both.

Somehow this thread has digressed from a discussion of W L Craig -- and now has turned into a completely distinct debate about theology. The claim I actually made was about meaning-- not about fairness, logic or naturalness. I have no reason to attribute "goodness" to a creator of the Universe one way or another. Nor to attribute "fairness" nor to attribute the lack of or presence of "authoritarian dictation". All these attributes are completely on-the-table as far as I'm concerned.

But now another person is in this thread, now going-on-the-defense, describing what the actual God of this universe would Actually be like. I will remind the forum participants that Mr McKain is not speaking from a position of factualness or evidence. Rather he seems to be saying "Well, wouldn't you prefer the God creator to be natural and logical, and to not be an authoritarian dictator?"

My first response (to such salesmanship) is that : My opinions and my preferences mean nothing at all to this subject. The creator of the Universe could be a psychopath dictator for all I know. Perhaps he is a "bit perverse" and perhaps He's not. How would I know one way or the other?

{{ More interestingly -- how would Mr. McKain know this , one way or another? }}

The thread has turned on a dime. No longer discussing "Religion" , which is the title of this section of the forum. We are no longer even discussing W L Craig. We are no longer discussing Camus and L'Etranger. We are now just two men banging heads discussing detailed theological musings.

I don't have any privileged access to any creator, or his intentions, or his "purposes". I do have access to the universe that He created and I can likely surmise things about it from that viewpoint and perspective. I come to a philosophy forum to discuss Religion as a sociological and cultural phenomenon. A PHILOSOPHY FORUM should never approach religion from outside those boundaries.

In short, this is not a theology forum. There may be places on the internet for theology debates -- but this is likely not one of them.


If you read Marshall's guidelines, you would be aware that theology is included in the range of topics and that any philosophic approach - including those outside your sociological perspective - is allowed.

Please do not comment on the moderator's state of health, meta-analysis of how the chat is going, or state what is off-limits topically when you haven't read the forum-specific guidelines. Also, note the complete forum title, on the PCF main page.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 30th, 2018, 5:03 pm 

When someone supplies the words to both sides of a discussion, I have to wonder if it is just blatant dishonesty or a confusion about what a discussion consists of (though I also cannot help be reminded of the behavior of schizophrenia). On the other hand, it is a lot like writing a book, where it is completely natural for Camus to supply both sides of the exchange between Mersault and the other characters in The Stranger, or between the doctor and the priest in The Plague. Then it is just an amusing Kismet when someone like W. L. Craig comes a long and practically plays one of these roles by echoing the same words. But when you use their actual name in your book then it looks more like a self-flattering fantasy (if not outright slander) which makes it quite clear that you don't care in the least what they really have to say but only what role in your delusions you want to cram them into.
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Re: God , the Moral Wizard?

Postby hyksos on May 2nd, 2018, 2:06 pm 

If you read Marshall's guidelines, you would be aware that theology is included in the range of topics and that any philosophic approach - including those outside your sociological perspective - is allowed.

Please do not comment on the moderator's state of health, meta-analysis of how the chat is going, or state what is off-limits topically when you haven't read the forum-specific guidelines. Also, note the complete forum title, on the PCF main page.

If you believe your little rules list somehow forces my hand to expose myself unwillingly to proselytizing and religious evangelism -- you're in for a big surprise.
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