Best of All Possible Worlds

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Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Multum in Parvo on August 12th, 2018, 4:08 pm 

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz made the following argument:

1. There is an all-powerful and perfectly good God,
2. God always has a reason for choosing one thing over another
3. Therefore, God has created the best of all possible worlds.

This argument has earned plenty of ridicule, in his time as well as ours. The ancient problem of evil remains compelling: If there is an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God, why is there unchecked evil and suffering in the world?

While there is a lot to be said for the view that the simplest answer is to throw away the premise, an argument has occurred to me that it may be interesting to debate. It runs as follows:

1. The value of the world is the sum of the values of the conscious beings in it.
2. The number of conscious beings that have ever existed, currently exist or will exist in the future, is infinite.
3. On average, the value of a conscious being's life is positive.
4. Therefore, the value of our world is infinite.

The second premise requires space, or time, or both, to be infinite, and this may be assuming too much, but it has not been ruled out. For example, if the universe begins with a bang, ends in a crunch, and spawns a new universe with another bang, with the cycle repeating forever, then the entire argument might be plausible, and both the problem of evil and the best of all possible worlds might be answered (with a cold dispassion to our finite suffering).
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Braininvat on August 12th, 2018, 8:00 pm 

Another counter to Leibniz is that the best world, to a hypothetical deity, is one in which sentient beings have free will. And free will, of course, leaves the door ajar to choices that are not optimal for the general good. IOW it changes the implications of line 3. Finite beings are capable of error, hence options may be chosen that lead to suffering.

Your 4 line syllogism seems to need a more clear and thorough definition of "value." It seems to conflate numeracy and the highly subjective concept of value.

Minor digression, but this all reminds me how much I love Bernstein's overture to "Candide. "
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby zetreque on August 12th, 2018, 10:05 pm 

I agree. Value to what or who.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby mitchellmckain on August 12th, 2018, 11:09 pm 

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 3:08 pm wrote:Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz made the following argument:

1. There is an all-powerful and perfectly good God,
2. God always has a reason for choosing one thing over another
3. Therefore, God has created the best of all possible worlds.

This argument has earned plenty of ridicule, in his time as well as ours.

It is not sound for a good many reasons. This is somewhat in line with BV's comment but the hidden premise here is...
2.5 God is the only one responsible for what the world is like.
And the premise behind that...
2.25 God would never do anything which relinquish power over what the world is like.
The implications of this is...
2.25b God is one who values power and control over anything else.

But I also have a hard time with number 3, because I see no reason to believe that the phrase "best of all possible worlds" is anything meaningful. I am inclined to suggest an alternative:
3': God did the best that could be done.
The problem is that even this doesn't work very well when other people (whose reactions we cannot predict) are involved. Because then we can wish we did things otherwise no matter how good our reasons were for doing them the way we did.

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 3:08 pm wrote: The ancient problem of evil remains compelling: If there is an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God, why is there unchecked evil and suffering in the world?

Indeed. But this also rests on the same premises above 2.5, 2.25 and 2.25b. An alternative possiblity is that God values love and freedom more than power and control and thus being capable of love, limiting Himself, taking risks, giving up control, and letting others make important decisions. Only such a being would create life, which is a self-organizing process, so that what the world becomes depends not only upon the acts of God but also the choices of living things. In this alternate, open theist approach, the problem of evil and suffering doesn't work anymore.

Of course, none of this means that God exists. It only means that, there is an idea of God which does not suffer from the same logical problems. It also opens up a whole new can of worms in this idea of free will.

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 3:08 pm wrote:While there is a lot to be said for the view that the simplest answer is to throw away the premise, an argument has occurred to me that it may be interesting to debate. It runs as follows:

1. The value of the world is the sum of the values of the conscious beings in it.

I don't know if I can buy into the premise that the value of conscious beings can be giving numerical values which can be added together. This leads straight to a utilitarian view which I do not think works too well.

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 3:08 pm wrote:2. The number of conscious beings that have ever existed, currently exist or will exist in the future, is infinite.

The second premise requires space, or time, or both, to be infinite, and this may be assuming too much, but it has not been ruled out. For example, if the universe begins with a bang, ends in a crunch, and spawns a new universe with another bang, with the cycle repeating forever, then the entire argument might be plausible, and both the problem of evil and the best of all possible worlds might be answered (with a cold dispassion to our finite suffering).

Doesn't that means you need to change your argument to...
2. It cannot be ruled out that the number of conscious beings that have ever existed, currently exist or will exist in the future, is infinite.
3. On average, the value of a conscious being's life is positive.
4. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the value of our world is infinite.
[/quote]
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Brent696 on August 19th, 2018, 8:19 pm 

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 4:08 pm

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz made the following argument:

1. There is an all-powerful and perfectly good God,
2. God always has a reason for choosing one thing over another
3. Therefore, God has created the best of all possible worlds.

This argument has earned plenty of ridicule, in his time as well as ours. The ancient problem of evil remains compelling: If there is an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God, why is there unchecked evil and suffering in the world?


The context, when God is applied to the universe as a Creator, is one in which Evil is the primary state just as is darkness or chaos.

The action of a Creator is to bring forth order from chaos, light from darkness, good from evil, existence from non-existence.

According to the religious model this world is only the first of two possible world, this present one possessing a mixture of the primordial chaos, with the first appearance of order. But it can be noted the work of the Creator is not complete without factoring in that world which is said to come in which all chaos is removed.

It is only as one factors in both states of existence, this temporal one within a mixture, and a permanent one that is free from all chaos, that a true value might be established.

1. The value of the world is the sum of the values of the conscious beings in it.

All things limited to this present world possess a value of 0, birth and death, consciousness to non-consciousness, if consciousness focuses merely upon a subjective experience of itself while ignoring such that existed before and after itself, so we might value our own existence, but ultimately in the full scheme of things this would be a self deception. The reality is we will shortly cease to be, and shortly after that we are forgotten forever, and shortly after that it will be as if we never were.

2. The number of conscious beings that have ever existed, currently exist or will exist in the future, is infinite.

"Assuming" Infinity in the face of such a definitive finite construct would be self deceiving, neither were value possess any meaning simply because there is no consciousness to value you it (life). Besides, an infinity of passing the baton has no value if you never reach a destination, it is as meaningless for the first as the millionth runner.

3. On average, the value of a conscious being's life is positive.

Once again, only as we narrow our focus can we deceive ourselves that there is value, if you have a fish to eat today, and so you can survive for one more day but you die tomorrow, that value which you only seemed to have, tomorrow returns to 0.

4. Therefore, the value of our world is infinite.

Or, if there is an Infinite world into which consciousness might transition to. The argument here is the same as it is as to whats real, only a true reality can attain any value, that which is finite, for a moment, gives the illusion of value, but if it does not exist infinitely, that any invested value is illusionary.

Any value that might be applied to this universe can only be validated as this reality might present itself to be a stepping stone to an infinite one. Basically, an incubator for consciousness and Identity.
Last edited by Brent696 on August 19th, 2018, 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 20th, 2018, 10:25 am 

It's the usual self-contradiction in terms, isn't it?

1. There is an all-powerful and perfectly good God,

is the crux of the problem.
2. God always has a reason for choosing one thing over another

The only 'things' to choose between must have been created by the same perfectly good entity, who would never* choose to make bad 'things' and if he were all-powerful, he could easily have excluded the chaos and evil : everything he made must be good.
And if evil wasn't put into the world in the first place, then even if the god, for some very good reason of his own, made imperfect creatures, they only had good things to choose, no matter how free their will.

*unless -
the god desired evil to be in the world and had his own reason for putting it there.
If that is true, we have to question our definition of "good". If the perfectly good god's concept of 'good' includes suffering, disorder and sin, what, then is "evil"?
And, in that case,
3. Therefore, God has created the best of all possible worlds.

is patently false. (Put aside for now the unasked questions "What would second-best look like?", and "How does an all-powerful being even assess the limits of possibility?")
An all-powerful god could have made a perfect world, and chose not to.
So, a better world is possible - which, of course is heaven. To get there, you have to leave this 'best of all possible' worlds for an even bester of possible worlds. If imperfect creatures went to heaven, it would become tainted and cease to be the ultimate best world. To prevent that, all the imperfection has to be burned off your soul before you're allowed entry. Of course, god could have just made us all perfect in the first place, and chose not to. He chose the burning.

You can dance around the issue all you like - and a thousand great learned tomes have done so - but can't undo the internal contradiction of omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Braininvat on August 20th, 2018, 11:45 am 

Thanks for the revision, Brent.

Will the OP author consider returning to his thread and addressing the various replies?
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby davidm on August 20th, 2018, 2:46 pm 

It is difficult, for me at any rate, to see how a world exactly like our own in every detail, with the exception that one less baby dies of brain cancer, would somehow not be a better world than “the best of all possible worlds” in which the baby does die of brain cancer.

But there are other problems. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect, several conclusions seem logically to follow.

If God is omnipotent, he created exactly the world that he wished to create. It could not differ at all from his intentions; for if it did, he would not be omnipotent.

If he is omniscient, then he knows everything that is going to happen in the world that he creates, to the end of time. More, if he is omniscient, he knows all the outcomes of all logically possible worlds, which means he knows what would have happened in different worlds, had he created them. So God has perfect knowledge of all possible but non-actual worlds; i.e., all counterfactual worlds.

If he is morally perfect, one must presume he wishes that there be no evil in the world that he creates. Yet there is.

Why might this be? To God, free will might be of paramount value, because otherwise his creations would be puppets, and arguably not worth creating at all. But God also knows that free agents will do evil, so evil is unavoidable if free will is to exist.

But is human will actually free, inside of God’s creation? One line of thought is that God’s foreknowledge of the future excludes human free will. That is, since he knows in advance what you will do, you must do that thing, and cannot do otherwise.

The philosopher Norman Swartz has written extensively on this topic, including at the Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy, here. His answer, and I agree with him, is that no, God’s infallible foreknowledge of the truth values of all future contingent propositions does not preclude free will. To argue that it does constitutes a modal fallacy, as Swartz explains. What we should say instead is that human free acts supply the truth grounds for what God infallibly foreknows. If Adam and Eve eat the apple, God foreknows that fact; but if they refrain from eating the apple, God foreknows that fact instead. Adam and Eve can do as they wish, they just can’t escape God foreknowing what they will do. This is also the solution to the problem of future contingents, mooted by Aristotle. William Lane Craig deployed the modal fallacy argument to advance a solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

But God also created the world, and now the free will problem is not so tractable. If God simply foreknows what will happen, then Adam and Eve can freely choose: it is their choice that makes the non-apple-eating world counterfactual; it was within their power to make the apple-eating world counterfactual instead, but they freely chose not to.

But once we say that God created the world, then it was God who rendered the non-apple-eating world counterfactual, not Adam and Eve. So while human free will is compatible with an all-knowing God, it does not seem to be so with an all-knowing God in conjunction with an omnipotent God who created a single world out of an infinitude of counterfactuals.

What about if God were to blind himself to the future? I take it this is the open theism account. God does not know the future, because there is nothing for him to know. Humans are back to having free will, and God finds out about their free choices as they make them.

Unfortunately, this carries a number of problems in its own right.


For example, if God doesn’t know the future, how can he be sure that the world he creates will evolve the humans he presumably has a special interest in?

A further question is whether God is able to blind himself to the future in the first place. The aforementioned Swartz addresses this issue in his proposed solution to the riddle of whether God can make a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it. It seems, at first blush, that if God can create such a rock, he surrenders his omnipotence; but if he cannot create such a rock, he also surrenders his omnipotence.

Swartz argues that if omnipotence is an essential property of God, as it is commonly thought to be, then, no, God cannot create a rock too heavy for him to lift — but this does not mean that God surrenders his omnipotence, by failing to able to create such a rock. Rather, it means that even God cannot bring about a logical contradiction — and it would be a logical contradiction for him to create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it. It is generally agreed that God’s omnipotence does not extend to violating the laws of logic. No one thinks that even God can make it be that 2+2=5, or that God can make four-sided triangles. Just so, God cannot make a rock he cannot lift, but even so, he remains omnipotent.

Applying this logic to God’s omniscience: if that omniscience is an essential property of God — a necessary property — then God cannot fail to foresee the outcome of all future events. This is a blow against open theism, it seems. He cannot blind himself to the future, on pain of logical contradiction.


Given all of the above, it seems God wanted there to be evil in the world — for some reason. Maybe it’s a good reason, but no one knows what it is or even could be.

Finally, God’s foreknowledge, but only in conjunction with the fact that he created the world, seems to rule out free will. 
So if it’s true that God created the world and cannot (logically) fail to foresee the outcome of his creation, then humans do not have free will. It appears that on this line of argument, then, God cannot logically create agents with free will, any more than he can logically create a rock that he can’t lift.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby davidm on August 20th, 2018, 3:32 pm 

Given the above — if the arguments go through, and I’d be happy to have anyone punch holes in them — God, if he exists, is indeed a predestinationist God. He is logically constrained from failing to foresee the future and logically constrained from creating freely willing agents. But now we come to a further problem: If God is so logically constrained, then his act of creation is logically inconsistent with his supposed moral perfection. A morally perfect God, realizing that any act of creation on his part would logically entail unearned suffering by untold billions, would have done the morally perfect thing and declined to create a universe at all — an ability certainly logically within his powers. The upshot is that omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection, in conjunction with a God-created world, constitute a logically inconsistent state of affairs.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Braininvat on August 20th, 2018, 5:35 pm 

Well done. I wonder if one could say more broadly that terms like omnipotence are the linguistic equivalent of mirages - they appear to refer to some condition but in fact do not and are illusory in their meaning. The word omnipotent never succeeds in referring to a state of affairs. It fails in a causal account of reference (Kripke territory?). Even without a God, I can imagine that it would be quite difficult to assign the condition of omnipotence to any real entity. Indeed, the speaker of any such assertion would have to have omniscience for it to be meaningful. And for any determination that that speaker was omniscient, we would in turn need to be omniscient...and I think that leads to an infinite regress. Mirage words. Square circles.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby someguy1 on August 20th, 2018, 8:22 pm 

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 2:08 pm wrote:
1. The value of the world is the sum of the values of the conscious beings in it.


What is the value of a conscious being? Is it a real-valued function? Nonnegative real? An integer? A quaternion? Better tell us else the your formula is not well defined.


Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 2:08 pm wrote:2. The number of conscious beings that have ever existed, currently exist or will exist in the future, is infinite.


I understand that you waved your hands a lot to try to make this work, but it's false according to known science.

Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 2:08 pm wrote:3. On average, the value of a conscious being's life is positive.


What does that mean? Earlier the value of a conscious being's life -- let's call this v(b), the value of a being -- is a single number that can be added to all the other values of conscious being's lives.

Now it sounds like v(b) is a function of time, v(b,t), and the average value over a life can be computed as some integral perhaps. You need to make this explicit, as your conception of v() differs from its earlier usage.


Multum in Parvo » August 12th, 2018, 2:08 pm wrote:
4. Therefore, the value of our world is infinite.


You owe us a clear and precise definition of v() just to make your idea mean anything. Especially since v() was used in two different ways.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby mitchellmckain on August 20th, 2018, 9:01 pm 

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:It is difficult, for me at any rate, to see how a world exactly like our own in every detail, with the exception that one less baby dies of brain cancer, would somehow not be a better world than “the best of all possible worlds” in which the baby does die of brain cancer.

But there are other problems. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect, several conclusions seem logically to follow.

If God is omnipotent, he created exactly the world that he wished to create. It could not differ at all from his intentions; for if it did, he would not be omnipotent.

I would argue that an omnipotent God can only remain omnipotent if he chooses to value power and control over everything else. Indeed I would argue that such a God must be incapable of love. Love makes sacrifices and hands over power and some of the control to others to share life and the responsibility which is a necessary part of it with others.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:If he is omniscient, then he knows everything that is going to happen in the world that he creates, to the end of time. More, if he is omniscient, he knows all the outcomes of all logically possible worlds, which means he knows what would have happened in different worlds, had he created them. So God has perfect knowledge of all possible but non-actual worlds; i.e., all counterfactual worlds.

The same which I said of power also goes for knowledge for knowledge is a form of power. But let's say it again with these words in order to be clear. I would argue that an omniscient God can only remain omnicient if he chooses to value power and control over everything else. Indeed I would argue that such a God must be incapable of love. Love makes sacrifices of power and control and thus gives a minimum of privacy to others, especial when it comes to the knowledge what they will do before they choose what to do.

The God you describe is not very remarkable. It describes every human author when he writes a novel. Everything that happens, in the world he creates, happens because of what he chooses to write. But there is no life or consciousness in a novel. It is just a story. There is no moral implications when the author creates bad guys and lets bad things happen in the story he is writing. Nor does any of this change when you add the technology to make this a holo-novel with the senses of touch, sound, taste and smell.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:If he is morally perfect, one must presume he wishes that there be no evil in the world that he creates. Yet there is.

And yet the morally perfect God you have envisioned is incapable of love.

To go beyond this, you need to ask, how can the creation of life (in which suffering is necessary component) be a moral act? How can it be moral to have children when you know that they will suffer and eventually die? There is only one thing which makes this ethical and that is when you do it for love -- i.e. when you offer your unconditional love and are ready to comfort them in the suffering that is a part of life.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:Why might this be? To God, free will might be of paramount value, because otherwise his creations would be puppets, and arguably not worth creating at all. But God also knows that free agents will do evil, so evil is unavoidable if free will is to exist.

Freedom of will is a quantitative feature of life itself -- the phenomenon self-organization where these being grow, learn and evolve in a process of self creation. If God knows what they will do and remains an active force in the world then he cannot avoid being in absolute control over everything thus he must withdraw from the world as in Deism or give over some of the control as in open theism.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:But is human will actually free, inside of God’s creation? One line of thought is that God’s foreknowledge of the future excludes human free will. That is, since he knows in advance what you will do, you must do that thing, and cannot do otherwise.

In the case of the author/dreamer God who remains in control of everything, I do not believe free will, life, or consciousness exists. The most you will have is a holo-novel.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:The philosopher Norman Swartz has written extensively on this topic, including at the Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy, here. His answer, and I agree with him, is that no, God’s infallible foreknowledge of the truth values of all future contingent propositions does not preclude free will. To argue that it does constitutes a modal fallacy, as Swartz explains. What we should say instead is that human free acts supply the truth grounds for what God infallibly foreknows. If Adam and Eve eat the apple, God foreknows that fact; but if they refrain from eating the apple, God foreknows that fact instead. Adam and Eve can do as they wish, they just can’t escape God foreknowing what they will do. This is also the solution to the problem of future contingents, mooted by Aristotle. William Lane Craig deployed the modal fallacy argument to advance a solution to Newcomb’s Paradox.

This is the incompatibilist point of view.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:What about if God were to blind himself to the future? I take it this is the open theism account. God does not know the future, because there is nothing for him to know. Humans are back to having free will, and God finds out about their free choices as they make them.

correct.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:Unfortunately, this carries a number of problems in its own right.


For example, if God doesn’t know the future, how can he be sure that the world he creates will evolve the humans he presumably has a special interest in?

If God doesn't foreknow the future then He can participate in events without being in absolute control. But this doesn't mean that He cannot accomplish anything. We accomplish a great number of things we set out to do without knowing for certain. A God which values love and freedom rather than power and control is thus willing to take risks and accept the uncertainty just as we do in living our lives. That is the price of sharing your lives with others (and characters in novels don't count as others).

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:A further question is whether God is able to blind himself to the future in the first place. The aforementioned Swartz addresses this issue in his proposed solution to the riddle of whether God can make a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it. It seems, at first blush, that if God can create such a rock, he surrenders his omnipotence; but if he cannot create such a rock, he also surrenders his omnipotence.

Swartz argues that if omnipotence is an essential property of God, as it is commonly thought to be, then, no, God cannot create a rock too heavy for him to lift — but this does not mean that God surrenders his omnipotence, by failing to able to create such a rock. Rather, it means that even God cannot bring about a logical contradiction — and it would be a logical contradiction for him to create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it. It is generally agreed that God’s omnipotence does not extend to violating the laws of logic. No one thinks that even God can make it be that 2+2=5, or that God can make four-sided triangles. Just so, God cannot make a rock he cannot lift, but even so, he remains omnipotent.

Yes, a God confined to human theology which defines Him as omnipotent is incapable of this. This is because such a God has no power over Himself -- all power is in the hands/words of the theologians or people who created him. But a real God who is truly omnipotent has power over Himself as well as other things and thus most certainly can make sacrifices of power and choose love and freedom over power and control.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:Applying this logic to God’s omniscience: if that omniscience is an essential property of God — a necessary property — then God cannot fail to foresee the outcome of all future events. This is a blow against open theism, it seems. He cannot blind himself to the future, on pain of logical contradiction.

All you have shown is that making omnipotence and and omniscience an "essential property" of God -- makes him a slave of theology and thus a creature which has no power over Himself and no ability to love. Indeed I think you shown that this theological God lacks logical coherence and it is only the open theist view which remains rationally viable.

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 1:46 pm wrote:
Given all of the above, it seems God wanted there to be evil in the world — for some reason. Maybe it’s a good reason, but no one knows what it is or even could be.

Finally, God’s foreknowledge, but only in conjunction with the fact that he created the world, seems to rule out free will. 
So if it’s true that God created the world and cannot (logically) fail to foresee the outcome of his creation, then humans do not have free will. It appears that on this line of argument, then, God cannot logically create agents with free will, any more than he can logically create a rock that he can’t lift.

But then the God of this theology is also the one which creates a torture chamber in which to subject people to an eternity of torment for refusing to believe in a bunch of incoherent nonsense. In that case, my god is Sisyphus who can only roll his rock up a hill endless fighting for what is right against the injustice of a whole pantheon of irrational monsters which people choose worship as gods. (smiley face)

davidm » August 20th, 2018, 2:32 pm wrote:Given the above — if the arguments go through, and I’d be happy to have anyone punch holes in them — God, if he exists, is indeed a predestinationist God. He is logically constrained from failing to foresee the future and logically constrained from creating freely willing agents. But now we come to a further problem: If God is so logically constrained, then his act of creation is logically inconsistent with his supposed moral perfection. A morally perfect God, realizing that any act of creation on his part would logically entail unearned suffering by untold billions, would have done the morally perfect thing and declined to create a universe at all — an ability certainly logically within his powers. The upshot is that omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection, in conjunction with a God-created world, constitute a logically inconsistent state of affairs.

I don't know if there is any such thing as moral perfection except in the imagination of loveless control freaks, but I do believe that is possible for a being to be motivated by love alone, indeed what motivation is really left to a being who already has everything else.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby DragonFly on August 20th, 2018, 10:25 pm 

mitchellmckain » August 20th, 2018, 8:01 pm wrote:…I do believe that is possible for a being to be motivated by love alone, indeed what motivation is really left to a being who already has everything else.


Well, given God's Perfection, one would think that His emotional system would be the ultimate of Him being infinitely able to shower forth His unconditional love, yet, many religions have Him to be conditional by His requiring of our acceptance and adoration in order for us to get into Heaven.

I noted yet another presentation of such non-humility in a church bulletin: "We were created to worship…"

Would I want to be saved?

No, controllers are bad role models to follow, much less worship. He even breaks his own commandments, etc.

'God' hasn't even been established, so anything further is moot. RIP.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby DragonFly on August 20th, 2018, 10:30 pm 

Now, the best of all worlds via naturalism is a different story.

The food chain is a necessity, but along with it comes all kinds of insects and organisms and disease.

Water is good, but too much at once makes problems, etc.


P.S. Do we have to have mosquitos?
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 20th, 2018, 11:17 pm 

DragonFly » August 20th, 2018, 9:30 pm wrote:
P.S. Do we have to have mosquitos?

Maybe we don't, but you do! So do tadpoles.

This whole "best of all possible worlds" thing is so perspective-dependent as to be philosophically meaningless.
What's "good"? Well that depends: for whom?
What's "better"? Well that depends: than what?
What's "best"? Well, that depends: by what standard?

How does anyone tell what's possible?
For Big Omni, presumably nothing is impossible (I've seen that on a billboard), so "possible" is not a limiting factor for him, but is for anyone evaluating his work. But the little, limited creatures for whom so very much is impossible, is in no position to judge what the worst, mediocre, pretty fair or best possible might be.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Brent696 on August 21st, 2018, 12:00 am 

Perhaps we should consider that our subjective experience of life itself creates a “conflict of interest” that nullifies any attempt we might make to judge, measure, or rationalize any act of a Creator.

Any attempt at a moral argument can only reveal the level of our own self-deception.

As human beings, our subjective experience is one of pain and pleasure, the merely fight for survival has conditioned our minds to avoid one in while desiring the other. Every time we make a judgment, “this is good, that is worse, such and such is better”, such judgments are determined by our subjective experience as we desire to avoid pain.

Reason and logic are bases sole on equalization, 2+2=4, the logic is inherent in the (=) sign, so unless the death of a child from cancer poses to you the same value as the birth of a child, or even a child cured from such cancer, you do not possess the unbiased difference to create any sense of morality much less think to judge a Creator by it. A sane judge understands his bias, an honest judge thus recuses himself because of it.

Whether there is freewill or not under a Creator, without a Creator there is definitively no room for freewill. The fact that we are bias when it comes to pleasure or pain, if we possess any preference in the slightest, means we are conditioned, and so we cannot freely choose because we maintain a state of preference. “Desire” will drive us one way as easy as a bit in a horse’s mouth turns the horse into a direction.

Even our thoughts and theories, our ideologies can be influences by this same subjective conditioning, how we interpret certain facts can be influenced, certainly certain thoughts and belief systems carry with them a degree of comfort, after all this is the argument made often times of the religious, but it holds just as true for the unreligious as they also are effected by their subjective conditioning.

Freewill can also be negated by the materialistic POV wherein it is believed that consciousness is merely a result chemical/neural activity. In such a reality there is no abstract gestalt of identity that can choose one way or the other, there is merely a direction determined by whatever side of the chemical or neural dice happen to land on. If one believe “randomness” to be a principle of the Universe, then that same principle would also rule their supposed choices.

(It can also be noted that criticisms and judgments against those who believe in God cannot be made justifiable as those beliefs would merely be the random choices of those people, so for an atheist to judge the religious would merely be another form of insanity as they seek to impose a different rule upon another human being than they accept of themselves.)

Before we leave our inability for morality judgments aside, judgments about a Creator, where our own biased subjectivity is further diminished by factoring in the subjectivity as bias of others, as if one could make judgments about God based upon the actions or non-actions of other subjectively biased individuals, possessed a note of double insanity. We, being biased in our morality, attempting to judge others who are biased in their morality as they also are subjective to the conditioning of pain and pleasure, and then trying to infer something of a Creator as we make ourselves twice removed from any true position of equal determination.

Setting aside any moral argument we can now look at Being and the nature and limitation of “perception” itself. As finite Beings, our very sense of reality, if we believe ourselves to be real, is biased towards the finite. Our senses, the channels through which we think to receive knowledge, tend to be focused on only that which is finite as we attribute “reality” merely to finite existence.

The eyes look out across space and perceive space as if it is nothing, despite its inference to infinity, and rather that which obstructs that space, even though it is of a finite relation, that we consider to be the reality. Space is not real, but rather the glass, the ball, the brick, it is those finite “things” wherein we invest our sense of realism.

This is also true of the ears, the silence might extend from one side of the universe to the other, but what the ear is drawn to is that which is finite, sounds, words, those “things” which begin and just as quickly end, to those do we invest reality but the silence goes unnoticed.

Science, knowledge, math, all speak to limitations, a circle is not a square and a square is not a circle and neither are triangles, clay is clay and not ceramic, and neither are organic. Knowledge, as we perceive it, is just as much about what something is not as it is about what it is. Every “THING” has a definition, and it is these “things” that we invest with reality, despite the fact, the absolute fact, they are merely temporal constructs even as the Universe itself is a temporal construct. All of this, including ourselves, do we invest with reality despite the fact, they are mere shadows on the walls of Infinity.

How is it, that anything of a finite nature, who by conditioning is biased to invest reality only to that which is also finite, understand, and much less judge the reality of that which is Infinite by nature? Infinity is like the sun, finite merely shadows on the wall of nothingness, Infinity is the Being of ever lasting silence, sound is but a momentary disturbance, quickly swallowed up once more by the silence of infinity.

We, as finite creatures, simply do not exist like such a Creator would. What seems real to us is in fact unreal, our finite perceptions of reality are upside down, backwards, inverse. We think of God as if He were merely ONE MORE THING, but He, by definition as an infinite Creator, would be the only True thing and all that is finite, all that once was not, and only now seems to be, and will shortly pass away, by definition, is not real. And any sense of reality we invest in finitude would be our own deception as we seek to invest VALUE, into that which inherently has none.

Philosophical speaking of course...................................
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 21st, 2018, 12:04 pm 

Brent696 » August 20th, 2018, 11:00 pm wrote:Perhaps we should consider that our subjective experience of life itself creates a “conflict of interest” that nullifies any attempt we might make to judge, measure, or rationalize any act of a Creator.

Which instantly nullifies any characterization of a Creator, such as "all-powerful" and "perfectly good".
Or, indeed, anything you can possibly think of to say about such a creator.

Any attempt at a moral argument can only reveal the level of our own self-deception.

Exactly! No divine commandments. No attribution of 'sin'; no concept of 'redemption'.

... unless the death of a child from cancer poses to you the same value as the birth of a child, or even a child cured from such cancer, you do not possess the unbiased difference to create any sense of morality much less think to judge a Creator by it.

So, if no human is capable of judging the value of human life and suffering, there is no basis for human morality, other than human experience. Then, a supra-moral god is superfluous.

Whether there is freewill or not under a Creator, without a Creator there is definitively no room for freewill.

With free will, there is definitely no room for a Creator.

.. judgments about a Creator, where our own biased subjectivity is further diminished by factoring in the subjectivity as bias of others, as if one could make judgments about God based upon the actions or non-actions of other subjectively biased individuals, possessed a note of double insanity.

Which is why we don't do that. We simply reiterate:
Whatever you say about a god or creator or supreme being you may believe in is your opinion, unsupported by evidence. If you put that opinion out in public, it will be evaluated by others. If you don't want it judged, don't publish it.

Philosophical speaking of course...................................

Of course. Very.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Brent696 on August 21st, 2018, 4:33 pm 

Serpent » August 21st, 2018, 12:04 pm

Brent696 » August 20th, 2018, 11:00 pm

Perhaps we should consider that our subjective experience of life itself creates a “conflict of interest” that nullifies any attempt we might make to judge, measure, or rationalize any act of a Creator.


Which instantly nullifies any characterization of a Creator, such as "all-powerful" and "perfectly good".
Or, indeed, anything you can possibly think of to say about such a creator....................

Exactly! No divine commandments. No attribution of 'sin'; no concept of 'redemption'.

Then a supra-moral god is superfluous.

With free will, there is definitely no room for a Creator.


First agree you cannot characterize, then you do nothing but characterize, logic seems to have escaped you as you are manifesting a clear bias.

..(Brent) judgments about a Creator, where our own biased subjectivity is further diminished by factoring in the subjectivity as bias of others, as if one could make judgments about God based upon the actions or non-actions of other subjectively biased individuals, possessed a note of double insanity.


(Serpent) Which is why we don't do that. We simply reiterate:
Whatever you say about a god or creator or supreme being you may believe in is your opinion, unsupported by evidence. If you put that opinion out in public, it will be evaluated by others. If you don't want it judged, don't publish it.


Once again you miss the point as you continue to preach from your soapbox, demanding as fact that which you have no evidence to support. What you claim not to do you do continuously, this is not rational.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby davidm on August 21st, 2018, 4:53 pm 

mitchellmckain » August 20th, 2018, 7:01 pm wrote:All you have shown is that making omnipotence and and omniscience an "essential property" of God -- makes him a slave of theology and thus a creature which has no power over Himself and no ability to love. Indeed I think you shown that this theological God lacks logical coherence and it is only the open theist view which remains rationally viable.


I’ve run a reductio of the standard omni god concept. My point was to show that somewhere along the way, there crops up logical contradictions that make omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection and a god-created world logically inconsistent. In a sense, I agree with what you write above. My point was that a God who is Omni as mooted above would not create a world at all. If my argument goes through, such a God would be compelled, of his own necessary properties, to create a world in which he was a control-freak God, and a world in which untold numbers would suffer through no fault of their own. Thus, to maintain his moral perfection (his love), he would not create a world at all — more: given his moral perfection, one might say that logically, he would not be able to create any world at all.

It is interesting to think about the idea that an Omni God would be a prisoner of his own properties. We could talk more about that, but above I said that I agreed with you “in a sense.” Judging by what you have written, it seems incumbent upon you to now find some flaw in my reductio, or to abandon any belief in any Omni God.

For example, above you are saying, or at least strongly implying, that an Omni God can give up his Omnis. He does this, I take your meaning, in the name of love. But can am Omni God surrender, in whole or in part, any of his Omnis? That was one of my key points.

If omniscience and omnipotence are necessary properties of God, then God cannot surrender these properties, unless one also to wishes to argue that God has the power to make four-sided triangles and married bachelors.

Modal logic shows that necessary truths are necessarily necessary, and contingent truths are are necessarily contingent: the modal status of truths cannot change. So if even God is bound by logic, he cannot change his necessary properties to contingent ones; i.e, he cannot give up, in whole or in part, either his omnipotence or his omniscience — in the name of love, or for any other reason.

There remains that possibility that God is only contingently omnipotent and omniscient, but of course this opens up a huge can of theological worms. If God lacks necessary properties, can it even be said that he necessarily exists? If God lacks necessary properties, is he even God at all, or just some super being, like an advanced alien? Maybe he’s actually incompetent? That would explain the huge botch that this world actually is. Maybe he’s evil? If not, why not?

Which, of course, gets to the true crux: How can anyone ascribe properties to a being that never shows itself, and for which we have zero data? What grounds do we have to suppose that God, or a creator of some sort, is good rather than evil? Or simply a committee of bungling demiurges, as Borges maintained?
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 21st, 2018, 5:34 pm 

Brent696 » August 21st, 2018, 3:33 pm wrote:First agree you cannot characterize, then you do nothing but characterize, logic seems to have escaped you as you are manifesting a clear bias.

I didn't agree with anything. You said those things about the putative creator.
Everyone has a bias - at least mine is clear.

Once again you miss the point as you continue to preach from your soapbox, demanding as fact that which you have no evidence to support. What you claim not to do you do continuously, this is not rational.

I have demanded nothing. I have preached nothing (and it's a blue recycle box).
I don't judge your deity. I don't even judge you. I judge what you have written.
The right to do that is automatically granted to me, and every other forum member, by your act of posting a proposition. Okay, it's not rational, but you posted it anyway.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Brent696 on August 21st, 2018, 6:13 pm 

Serpent » August 21st, 2018, 5:34 pm

I don't judge your deity. I don't even judge you. I judge what you have written.
The right to do that is automatically granted to me, and every other forum member, by your act of posting a proposition. Okay, it's not rational, but you posted it anyway.


(Your deity???) This is a philosophical thread, I said nothing one way or the other as if to prove or disprove the existence of a God,

My post was to examine the limitations of the instrument (the mind) in its ability to make certain determinations.

I promoted no God, and your continual assertions one does not exist, a fact you have no evidence for, come from your soapbox. Just in case you forgot I can remind you of some of your statements,

Which instantly nullifies any characterization of a Creator, such as "all-powerful" and "perfectly good".
Or, indeed, anything you can possibly think of to say about such a creator....................

Exactly! No divine commandments. No attribution of 'sin'; no concept of 'redemption'.

Then a supra-moral god is superfluous.

With free will, there is definitely no room for a Creator.


Perhaps you are not sure what judgments are, but rather than argue we'll just call these your beliefs.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 21st, 2018, 6:28 pm 

Brent696 » August 21st, 2018, 5:13 pm wrote:Perhaps you are not sure what judgments are, but rather than argue we'll just call these your beliefs.

Let's do that.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby mitchellmckain on August 21st, 2018, 8:17 pm 

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » August 20th, 2018, 7:01 pm wrote:All you have shown is that making omnipotence and and omniscience an "essential property" of God -- makes him a slave of theology and thus a creature which has no power over Himself and no ability to love. Indeed I think you shown that this theological God lacks logical coherence and it is only the open theist view which remains rationally viable.


I’ve run a reductio of the standard omni god concept. My point was to show that somewhere along the way, there crops up logical contradictions that make omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection and a god-created world logically inconsistent. In a sense, I agree with what you write above. My point was that a God who is Omni as mooted above would not create a world at all.

I don't think this follows. I would agree that such a God would not create life. But it seems that some of the religious conceive of God as being like the author or dreamer, which I don't see how you can prove is impossible -- there doesn't even have to be a coherent motivation for such an action. It is only that I don't see how you can say what this being creates is alive or conscious let alone responsible for anything. On that we can perhaps agree.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote: If my argument goes through, such a God would be compelled, of his own necessary properties, to create a world in which he was a control-freak God, and a world in which untold numbers would suffer through no fault of their own. Thus, to maintain his moral perfection (his love), he would not create a world at all — more: given his moral perfection, one might say that logically, he would not be able to create any world at all.

Well, that is one way of resolving this bundle of contradictions, I will grant you that. But perhaps we should make a list of all the ways in which they can be resolved... Before we do lets recall the traditional list for the classic POE argument.
1. God doesn't exist.
2. Evil doesn't really exist.
3. God isn't omnipotent/omniscient (at least not to a degree which can be called logically incoherent because of the POE). But instead God can be said to be omnipotent/omniscient to a degree which is still reasonable.
4. God isn't such a benevolent loving being, or somehow these judgements do not apply him.

Now in this light lets consider the observations we have made, which are really versions of these same solutions.
1. We have agreed that the theological God does not create life so that evil does not exist. But this is really a pretext for (both of us) saying that this sort of God does not exist.
2. Another way which might be a favorite of the compatibilist determinists and believers in predestination, is that the God/author/dreamer can create/write/dream whatever he likes without the slightest moral implications because it is just a holo-novel after all. In other words, evil doesn't really exist, because its all really just a story.
3. The traditional open theist solution is to say that the future doesn't exist to be known except perhaps as a superposition of possibilities. Or there is my suggestion that God does not technically remain omnipotent/omniscient but being capable of love must sacrifice these things in order to love others. Though one can say these chosen limitations are ultimately an expression of his omnipotence/omniscience.
4. But the most frequent Xtian approach is to make a lie out the claim that God is good by painting him as a sadistic creature who sounds a great deal like what the devil is supposed to be -- obsessed with his own power, control, glory and right to the love and worship of his creatures that he will treat anyone brave enough to defy him in any way with an eternity of torture.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:It is interesting to think about the idea that an Omni God would be a prisoner of his own properties. We could talk more about that, but above I said that I agreed with you “in a sense.” Judging by what you have written, it seems incumbent upon you to now find some flaw in my reductio, or to abandon any belief in any Omni God.

I think we agree that there is a bundle of contradictions in the way God is frequently pushed and I am certainly not shy about tossing out things which clearly do not work. I certainly have no interest in worshiping a devil so I reject the fundie solution of number 4. I am an incompatibilist so I reject solution number 2. But while you are probably happy with stopping at solution 1, I would point at the absurdity of confining God to such theological limitations and see more value in solution 3.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:For example, above you are saying, or at least strongly implying, that an Omni God can give up his Omnis. He does this, I take your meaning, in the name of love. But can am Omni God surrender, in whole or in part, any of his Omnis? That was one of my key points.

If omniscience and omnipotence are necessary properties of God, then God cannot surrender these properties, unless one also to wishes to argue that God has the power to make four-sided triangles and married bachelors.

Yes, and my response was to say this is mere artifact of confining God to a human definition. It would be like saying marine creatures cannot evolve into land creatures because that would contradict the definition of marine. It is an absurd argument.

Like I said above the implication is that God has no power over Himself because all that power lies in the hands of the theologian definers of God. How is any more justifiable/sensible than the creationist denying the ability of species to evolve because it violates their idea that each species is perfect artistic creation of God.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:Modal logic shows that necessary truths are necessarily necessary, and contingent truths are are necessarily contingent: the modal status of truths cannot change. So if even God is bound by logic, he cannot change his necessary properties to contingent ones; i.e, he cannot give up, in whole or in part, either his omnipotence or his omniscience — in the name of love, or for any other reason.

But that is the difference between real beings and arbitrary linguistic categories created by language. The artificial boundaries of language are just lines drawn in the sand for the convenience of a moment. This is why languages change - because the things and our understanding of them are always changing.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:There remains that possibility that God is only contingently omnipotent and omniscient, but of course this opens up a huge can of theological worms. If God lacks necessary properties, can it even be said that he necessarily exists? If God lacks necessary properties, is he even God at all, or just some super being, like an advanced alien? Maybe he’s actually incompetent? That would explain the huge botch that this world actually is.

Ah... well now you seem (maybe) to be crossing over from attributes of God into proofs for the existence of God. I have already stipulated repeatedly that I don't believe any of the latter and thus can be called an agnostic with regards to objective knowledge of the existence of God.

But I think that I would argue that the connection between the necessary existence of God and the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience does have any implication of an eternal temporal continuum. Indeed the traditional conception has God as timeless and unchanging. Which is frankly another of these absurd limitations upon God adding to the incoherence of this traditional claim of omnipotence. I mean come on... God is all-powerful therefore He cannot do any of the things that we do.... does that really make any sense?

As for time... once the absolute conception of time is discarded then there is the possibility for time to be something one can use however and for whatever one requires. This resolves a multitude of inconsistencies in the traditional conception of God because it means God can think and act in his own pocket of time -- as well as change however he chooses.

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:Maybe he’s evil? If not, why not?

Then I call the creature to which you refer by a different name/word and offer no regard or worship but only my defiance regardless of the cost (thus my reference to Sisyphus above).

davidm » August 21st, 2018, 3:53 pm wrote:Which, of course, gets to the true crux: How can anyone ascribe properties to a being that never shows itself, and for which we have zero data? What grounds do we have to suppose that God, or a creator of some sort, is good rather than evil? Or simply a committee of bungling demiurges, as Borges maintained?

Well obviously people believe in God for a vast variety of reasons. But one of them is personal experience. It provides no reasonable expectation that others should agree with them, but that is after all our most basic and immediate contact with reality. The most you can say is that if God exists, then since He does not provide such personal experiences to everyone then making people believe in Him is not as big a priority as many of the religious often suggest.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Multum in Parvo on August 25th, 2018, 7:04 am 

It's nice to see how much thinking can be provoked by a few simple statements.

I have never been convinced by the usual apologies for a good God's creation of a world with needless suffering. Not all the bad things that happen to us are due to free will (disease, fires and floods, etc.), and even the things that are could often be a lot less horrific. Whether God sees through to a meaning beyond the happiness and suffering of mortals, or is perhaps allowing life to go on a journey to a paradise of its own invention, or if this world is irrelevant because of the heaven that is to come; I think all of these excuses are cold comfort for billions of victims of injustice.

My own idea is a hypothetical. It wasn't my intention to argue for the truth of the premises; my intention was only to point out the conclusion that seems to follow from them. Namely, if the universe (or multiverse) is infinite in time or space (which I do not claim except to say it's possible), and if good and bad come in objectively measurable quantities (which is debatable), then, for the world to be infinitely good, it is not necessary that every part of it is good; there only has to be more good than bad. On this view, God does not mind our brief or local suffering because this world is still a world of endless happiness.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Braininvat on August 25th, 2018, 9:28 am 

Infinity, however, cuts both ways. If only one percent of the life experiences in an infinite universe is suffering then there is still infinite and endless suffering.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Brent696 on August 25th, 2018, 11:44 am 

Multum in Parvo » August 25th, 2018, 7:04 am

Namely, if the universe (or multiverse) is infinite in time or space (which I do not claim except to say it's possible), and if good and bad come in objectively measurable quantities (which is debatable), then, for the world to be infinitely good, it is not necessary that every part of it is good; there only has to be more good than bad. On this view, God does not mind our brief or local suffering because this world is still a world of endless happiness.


Such a view would be good for nothing, for none would ever attain such a goodness. Infinite would mean nothing to those who suffer and die, if suffering exceeded the good in their life then their universe would be evil, they would know nothing of the good to come as time continues.

Furthermore in an infinite time stream there is forever peaks and valleys and no finality to judge good or evil, you cannot have "More" in a never ending cycle. Perhaps you live in a privileged society and suffering in your life is "brief and local", yet still the only way it seems to leap from there to endless happiness is through denial, but there are many other whose lives are most assuredly an experience of greater evil.

How would a 13 year old girl, stolen from her home, and sold into the sex slave trade, and then killed in her twenties as her looks and usefulness gave out, fit into your model, God would not mind her brief and local suffering because the "universe" ultimately tips towards goodness?

Your model seems only to benefit and justify a privileged life.
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Multum in Parvo on August 27th, 2018, 12:44 am 

So a hidden assumption has been uncovered! God would need to assess the balance of happiness over suffering in each specific time and place, and add them together as the terms of the series.

So not, for example:

1 + 2 + 3 + ...
-1/99 - 2/99 - ...
which cannot be determined

but instead, something resembling:

(1-1/99) + (2-2/99) + ...
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Re: Best of All Possible Worlds

Postby Serpent on August 27th, 2018, 1:03 am 

God would need to assess the balance of happiness over suffering in each specific time and place,

You can save him the trouble. Both are infinite, or at least potentially infinite, in any possible world. So, there is no value comparison of worlds: there cannot be a best or worst possible world. All possible worlds created by this god are infinitely good and bad, just like their creator.
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