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Old September 2nd, 2018, 11:16 AM
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Joseph Sweeney Joseph Sweeney is offline
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Re: Food for Thought: A Discourse on Deities


I want to touch on this first quote, before I tackle the preceding paragraphs.

For me, I accept that it is different people being different and I respect their right to make those choices without it forcing any sort of judgment from me about who they are as a person. And make no mistake, that is the result of the method you propose. If everyone is either more or less rational than you, you are making value judgments about how "good" of a person someone is based on their decisions relative to your understanding of them. You make yourself the ultimate adjudicator of right and wrong. Seems like an awfully heavy burden to me. I prefer to accept others as my full equals even when I disagree with decisions they have made.
Of course, I accept the proposition that people make different choices than me, based on past experience and knowledge. When you say right and wrong though, or how good a person is, these terms by no means are applicable to moral standards (although I do believe by nature morality is subjective).

That said, I am making judgement calls based on objective standards, which yes, does allow me to determine how "good" someone is at a specific task. In the same way I can judge someone for being worse than me at riding a bike, or reciting the alphabet based on objective standards, so can I make a judgement call based on objective standards that someone is not making as rational decisions as I am.

This doesn't necessarily entail that a person is "better" or "worse" as a whole, merely that in the given subject matter someone is better than the other.

The final sentence I agree with in terms of morality, the ability for intellectual growth and so forth, but it's not useful when discussing the prowess one possesses in a given subject. Take a computer programmer and a pediatrician disagreeing on the diagnosis of a child. I would, as I am sure you would as well, take the authority of the pediatrician over that of the programmer as they do not have equality in the same field of expertise. Likewise, some people are better at rational process, and some people are worse. But just like the computer programmer and the pediatrician, where the pediatrician excels in pediatrics, the programmer excels elsewhere. Is one superior to the other? I would say not on the whole of it, but one is superior in one respect to the other, and vise-versa.

Doesn't that do a pretty good job of describing the world you see around you - lots of people who are fully capable of living their lives making a bunch of decisions that are different from the ones you would make? Does it seem more likely to you that it is a function of everyone being either more or less rational than you, or does it seem more likely it is simply the result of different people being different?
Well, yes, it is people being different than me. But what is the difference? The difference is some people are more or less rational in a given subject, and others are not. I am agreeing there is a difference, the difference is the ability to reason through something. Some of my friends can reason through mathematics phenomenally well, whereas I'm lucky I passed calc. That said, when it comes to other subjects, I can grasp the subject matter and process is more firmly and quickly than they can. The difference is the ability to process and reason things in a superior or inferior way.

Do I think my choice of God is better than choosing "not God"? Absolutely. But that doesn't make me better, smarter, cleverer, more clear-headed, or anything than the person who chooses "not God". They have their reasons and I respect that. Given the opportunity, I am happy to discuss those differences with the hope of showing them how wonderful the choice of God is, but that isn't the same thing as rejecting their ability to reason because they are in a different place from me with respect to that belief.
So to be clear, you do not see your set of beliefs as rationally superior to another set of beliefs?

Existential belief, as I define it, relates to the belief in the existence of a thing in a non-abstract manner. One has or lacks existential belief in their wife, one has or lacks existential belief in god, one has or lacks existential belief in the universe. The reason I exclude abstract concepts for my definition is that a unicorn exists abstractly, but not in reality. Existential belief is not a choice.

On to Lucifer and the angels -- So do you hold that it is entirely possible that Lucifer and the fallen angels where created without freewill, and instead were forced into hell not of their own accord, but by god? I think to deny angels freewill (which you haven't explicitly done, but haven't rejected either) leads to a number of problems pertaining to the concept of hell, suffering, the intellect as defined by Aristotle and Aquinas.

Finally, I retract my example of the avalanche, as you have rightly identified -- where I had failed to -- that the avalanche is correlation and not causation. (Oh boy. Maybe we should go into Hume and causation now )

I'm really not entirely clear on where you were going with these. It seems you may be allowing for non-deterministic choice, but I'm not certain. Can you clarify?
The first one is simple, if you agree Satan and his angels had freewill, then your argument that god revealing himself to humans would hinder our freewill becomes inconsistent. God, by his nature is unable to hinder freewill, yet we know god revealed himself to the angels, so if they have freewill and if he revealed himself, then knowledge does not hinder choice, it merely informs it.

I do not believe I am allowing for non-deterministic knowledge. Non-deterministic choice I think is fine. I have been arguing that knowledge is not a choice, but rather a set of givens we use to inform choice. So choice is non-deterministic, but knowledge is deterministic (e.g. we know or do not know if god exists without choice, but given the knowledge of his existence, we can choose to love him).

For my argument, I am granting that knowledge once obtained is not a choice. Choices are informed by knowledge.

That said, I can also accept a purely deterministic worldview, as that just invalidates freewill all together and takes god down as well. But the argument I am presenting grants freedom of choice. Without freedom of choice the argument is no longer necessary as the god presented by most monotheistic religions becomes irrelevant.

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