Suffering, prayer and god's will

fortitude
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Suffering, prayer and god's will

I ceased to believe in god when I finally let go of the idea that somehow suffering can be part of god's long term plan.  After quite a lot of other sh1t happening, my 30 year old husband of 10 years suffered permanent nerve damage to his lower spine due to cancer.  While he appeared to everyone else to be reasonably healthy, he was in fact unable to urinate.  He also lost sexual function and partially lost bowel function.  He had to self catheterize for the rest of his life.  Which turned out to only be another year due to proliferation of tumours in his brain. 

I am no philosopher.  I find that when people are talking about hypothetical occasions of suffering and god's will, they can always come up with hypothetical ways that God could be working in the situation.  So therefore, apparently, we have no right to judge it as unacceptable for an omnipotent god.  I could dismiss hypothetical suffering as not being in conflict with an omnipotent god.  I did for over a decade.  I could, however, not dismiss the private indignity and pain he suffered daily as being somehow beneficial to something.  No possible benefit could come of my husband being unable to urinate.  Noone will be inspired by a situation like that, and even if they were, it is abhorrent to think that it would in any way justify the suffering and indignity he went through.  It was a humiliation that brought him to depression.  I lost my belief in prayer then, and my belief in god followed along accordingly.

The christians in my life had many things to say about the situation.  At the time, the things were often hurtful, even as they were trying to be encouraging.  Things like 'it's all part of god's plan and god is always in control.  You just have to trust in him.'  It rang hollow.  More than hollow.  Horrifying really.  It was better for us to just admit that 'sh1t happens' to everyone, believer and unbeliever, worthy and unworthy.  He and I faced what came with courage.  And I was proud of the depths of courage he and I found in the horror that came.  He died almost two years ago.  And it was my strength that saw the situation through to it's conclusion.  Not god's grace.  I was there for our two children through all of it.  We came through it.  There was no'Footprints' poem moment where I realized that when my strength failed, that a magic daddy carried me.  I found depths to my humanity I didn't know I had.  I found wisdom in many situations that saw us through.  I was proud of myself for that.   And I was pround of my late husband for his dignity in facing death.  I became an atheist at peace with the choices I had made given a tragic situation.

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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I think it is safe to say

I think it is safe to say from all of us here, sorry for your loss.

There is no magical fight between a super hero and super villain that lead to his health problems or death. Illness and death happen every day and will always eventually affect everyone. It makes sense that this happens from a scientific level. Bad is part of our natural world. That doesn't mean we want it affecting us, but merely a recognition that it does happen.

On the other hand, when postulating a super hero who has control and is all powerful who could, but doesn't stop things like this, is a sickening thought. What if a parent stuck their kid in a house full of asbestos, cockroaches, H1N1, broken glass all over the floor, and then blamed the kid for any harm that happened to it? Any sane person would have such a nut arrested for child endangerment.

Life on this planet is full of danger from the time we are born to the time we die. We can be born with genes that predespose us to  cripling desease. Babies are born with downs syndrome. We can be hit by a car. We can be robbed and murdered. We can catch a deadly bacteria. All sorts of things from crime to war or desease or accidents can get us at any moment.

BUT that is not to lose hope because we simply recognize life is not magic. You still  had good times in your life and with him. We all have ups and downs and we all lose people we love.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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I am very sorry for your

I am very sorry for your loss.

I also am very respectful of the strength you found to get yourself and your children through such an ordeal.

I really can't understand why some people think that it is encouraging to believe that these things are part of God's plan. How does it make it any better that it was done on purpose? Surely it as easier to accept that although it is undeniably tragic, it is just a random accident?

I find it encouraging that if I want to get through things I need to do it myself. Sitting and praying aren't going to do anything, I've got to pick myself up, go to family and friends for support and get on with my life by myself. It will still be hard, but God won't help that.

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Jesus said, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division." - Luke 12:51


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Thank you for sharing with

Thank you for sharing with us your courage and your rationality.

fortitude wrote:
  It was better for us to just admit that 'sh1t happens' to everyone, believer and unbeliever, worthy and unworthy.  

My parents, both devout Christians, reached a similar conclusion as they coped with the fact that my father had a rare, untreatable, fatal illness.  Our family had about five years' notice of his death so all of us had some time to think about these things.  My parents wondered, "Why us?"  The answer they finally came up with was, "Why not us?"  I'm proud of them for getting that despite their religion.

 

fortitude wrote:
   I was proud of myself for that.   And I was pround of my late husband for his dignity in facing death.  I became an atheist at peace with the choices I had made given a tragic situation. 

Many theists speak of their faith being a source of hope and courage in such situations.  I've known believers who have crumbled under the weight of tragedy.  You embody the fact that the courage is grown from the strength of the person involved, not from some childish belief in gods.

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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fortitude wrote:The

fortitude wrote:

The christians in my life had many things to say about the situation.  At the time, the things were often hurtful, even as they were trying to be encouraging.  Things like 'it's all part of god's plan and god is always in control.  You just have to trust in him.'  It rang hollow.  More than hollow.  Horrifying really. 

And they're probably the first to condemn stem cell research that may prevent this kind of suffering in the future. What phony compassion.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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It's pretty difficult to read

 

The stuff you posted without tearing up, Fortitude. What you say sounds right to me. My evangelist father took ten years to die after being bedridden with parkinsons disease and i listened to my mother rationalise it to him over and over. It must have helped him but one of the last complete sentences he ever said before he could no longer speak was: "Why is god punishing me?" I never forgot it.

I agree that the only way this hard world can be rationalised is without god. We are all just here. We have only each other. 

Hugs, eh.

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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thanks for the support you guys

Awww... guys...  Thanks for the e-hug.  It is appreciated.  It is a good sign that such irreverent 'grumpy' atheists can support a fellow human with an integrity that a 'church community' was never able to do really.

One of the things I saw was that all the christians giving credit to god for getting them through situations did the opposite of empowering those people.  It made them feel weak and inadequate.  This in consequence I think leads to failures in their ability to 'take care of business'. 

There were so many people who wanted to help and they did so by praying.  I appreciated their desire to help.  Just not so much their way of doing it. 

I had a wise moment I think on the night he died.  I was sitting in his palliative care room trying to rock our toddler son to sleep.  Little tyke had an ear infection and needed to be with me.  I thought about how very strange it was to be doing this, given our modern way of dealing with death.  I felt very aone in my situation.  But then I thought about the generations upon generations of wives and mothers who had cared for their children while watching their children's father struggle to breathe.  While it was still excruciating, I did not feel so alone.  I was in good company - the company of many strong mothers.

Things are good now.  The strength I found in myself has given me the confidence to move resolutely on with my life, rather than wallowing in unhelpful questions like 'why'.  'Why not' is indeed the answer.  I am grateful (to noone in particular) that I was better prepared intellectually, mentally, financially and emotionally than most women would be in a similar situation.  And letting go of the compartmentalized faith that persistent in my brain was an important part of that.

I have to deal with a daughter who wants to know if her Daddy is in heaven or if she will see him again.  She also wants to know whether he can see her.  I just tell her what I can with the honesty and integrity of a caring mom.  I tell her that I don't really believe in such a thing as heaven, but since I have never died, I don't know for sure what happens.  And I tell her that if her Daddy could see her that he would be very proud of her.  She's adjusting to it. 

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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Sorry to hear of your loss.

Sorry to hear of your loss. From reading your post, I'd say you have heard a lot in defence of (a) God or Christianity in general.

 

I like the point you make about philosophy also, it is... heartfelt, for lack of a better word. I must say that it is hard for a philosopher as well, they are still human. Sometimes they can seem distant or removed but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean no disrespect whatsoever.

 

You mentioned "humanity". I am a firm believer in humanity. Above and beyond anything else, we are all human - that is one of the only things you, I or anybody else actually have in common.

Personally, I believe that we have the potential, as humans, to cure any and all diseases we wish. What would that take? Time, to a degree. Patients, yes. Co-operation, money... and all talk of humanity ends after this point.

Being an atheist released you. For me, it is a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire....", for if we stop blaming God, then who else is there but ourselves?


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I admire your balanced theism, Jumbo

jumbo1410 wrote:

Sorry to hear of your loss. From reading your post, I'd say you have heard a lot in defence of (a) God or Christianity in general.

 

I like the point you make about philosophy also, it is... heartfelt, for lack of a better word. I must say that it is hard for a philosopher as well, they are still human. Sometimes they can seem distant or removed but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean no disrespect whatsoever.

 

You mentioned "humanity". I am a firm believer in humanity. Above and beyond anything else, we are all human - that is one of the only things you, I or anybody else actually have in common.

Personally, I believe that we have the potential, as humans, to cure any and all diseases we wish. What would that take? Time, to a degree. Patients, yes. Co-operation, money... and all talk of humanity ends after this point.

Being an atheist released you. For me, it is a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire....", for if we stop blaming God, then who else is there but ourselves?

 

But why does there have to be any blame at all? I don't think Fortitude blames god or is angry with god she just thinks he isn't there and that these things happen and we have to deal with them as best we can.

There's a line in that silly movie Lars and the Real Girl where when there's a death, the ladies of the village come around and sit with Lars. And they don't say anything, they don't moralise or preach, they don't look for ways that god might be using the suffering

caused to fortify his trenches. The ladies sit with Lars.

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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fortitude wrote: I could,

fortitude wrote:

 I could, however, not dismiss the private indignity and pain he suffered daily as being somehow beneficial to something.  No possible benefit could come of my husband being unable to urinate. 

Quote:

 

The belief that needless suffering is ok aslong as whoever  is allowing it  is "bigger/smarter/stronger" than us is one of the main things that makes me so angry with theists.  I often have this converstaion with them, and they will list their pre-fabbed awnsers to the suffering question.  But as you articulated perfectly, they can make all the hypotheticals they want about global suffering, when your standing there watching your husband unable to urinate their is just no justifying something so petty and pointless to be a beings will beyond our understanding.  My sister was born with leukemia/down syndrom.  In and out of the hospital, eventually died in a blood tranfusion at 3, she was a baby born to die, she barely had a chance to make it to 5.  She was an addorable little girl, im suire her story inspired someone, but the quiet behind door suffering she endured surely did not inspire anyone.  When i'm told i'm not inteligent enough to understand gods will i think of my little sister and try my hardest to not swifly lay them down.

 

My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss, you seem to have more strength than most and have dealt with it well.  Atleast now as an athiest you understand your husbands death to be no-ones fault, no strange unethical divine purpose, and simply nature doing what it does.        

 

fortitude wrote:

  There was no'Footprints' poem moment where I realized that when my strength failed, that a magic daddy carried me. 

Quote:

 

Be proud you dealt with the pain of reality and didnt comfort yourself with delusion.  Religion is like a drug, it softens wounds like death of loved ones, but in the end it only causes more questions and problems.  I believe it is better to get off the drugs, deal with the withdrawels, and comeout the other end free/strong/content as you've done, good job. 

 

fortitude wrote:

I found depths to my humanity I didn't know I had.  I found wisdom in many situations that saw us through.  I was proud of myself for that.   And I was pround of my late husband for his dignity in facing death.  I became an atheist at peace with the choices I had made given a tragic situation.

Quote:

 

props...


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Quote:But why does there

Quote:
But why does there have to be any blame at all? I don't think Fortitude blames god or is angry with god she just thinks he isn't there and that these things happen and we have to deal with them as best we can.

There's a line in that silly movie Lars and the Real Girl where when there's a death, the ladies of the village come around and sit with Lars. And they don't say anything, they don't moralise or preach, they don't look for ways that god might be using the suffering

caused to fortify his trenches. The ladies sit with Lars.

 

Is that anything but an illusory world?

 

I have no problem with not assigning blame. But what does that actually mean? If I knock over a glass of milk, am I to "Blame" for it? If I run a sweatshop exploiting small children, am I to "blame"? A synonym of blame is responsibility. I can take the blame for a lot of things, or nothing.

I am not confident in the whole "sitting around saying nothing" thing. Have I misunderstood your point at all, or have you misunderstood mine?


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he's right, Jumbo

I didn't blame god.  Because any god incapable or unwilling to act on the situation was no god that I was interested in.  Once you stop giving credit to god for good things, expecting god to do something about the bad things, and blaming god for the sh1t that falls, all that's left is you.  You and your decisions.  You have no future.  You have today and it's decisions.  Each day is a gift (as hokey and trite as that sounds).  If I have a chance to reflect on my life before I do die, I want to be able to look back on a life that my children can be proud of.  And one that will contribute to their well-being.  Does that count as atheist morality?   

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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Maybe, maybe both

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
But why does there have to be any blame at all? I don't think Fortitude blames god or is angry with god she just thinks he isn't there and that these things happen and we have to deal with them as best we can.

There's a line in that silly movie Lars and the Real Girl where when there's a death, the ladies of the village come around and sit with Lars. And they don't say anything, they don't moralise or preach, they don't look for ways that god might be using the suffering

caused to fortify his trenches. The ladies sit with Lars.

 

Is that anything but an illusory world?

 

I have no problem with not assigning blame. But what does that actually mean? If I knock over a glass of milk, am I to "Blame" for it? If I run a sweatshop exploiting small children, am I to "blame"? A synonym of blame is responsibility. I can take the blame for a lot of things, or nothing.

I am not confident in the whole "sitting around saying nothing" thing. Have I misunderstood your point at all, or have you misunderstood mine?

 

In your original post you suggested that while Fortitude may have been released by her non belief, for you that would be a case of 'out of the frying pan...for if we stop blaming god who else is there but ourselves' (Paraphrased).

I assume you meant this was a bad thing and was defending the value of 'ourselves'.

My response was simply what's with the mention of blame at all. Sickness happens - no one is to blame. There's no meaning, no punishment and nothing to be gained by sheeting anything to blame or punishment or a god-plan at all.

Fortitude said earlier that there was a lot of praying done and no doubt a lot of rationalising was served up to her about god's plan in her difficult time. And my point was that discounting blame or wider meanings sometimes simple human gestures like sitting

with a grieving person quietly can have more meaning than trying to invent a meaning that is not there.

I know christians get into the relationship with jesus they get comfort from but as an atheist I prefer to deal with actual live people. In the case of Lars, the people who loved him, just came over and sat there with him while he cried. It was by no means

illusory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Quote:I didn't blame god. 

Quote:
I didn't blame god.  Because any god incapable or unwilling to act on the situation was no god that I was interested in.  Once you stop giving credit to god for good things, expecting god to do something about the bad things, and blaming god for the sh1t that falls, all that's left is you.  You and your decisions.  You have no future.  You have today and it's decisions.  Each day is a gift (as hokey and trite as that sounds).  If I have a chance to reflect on my life before I do die, I want to be able to look back on a life that my children can be proud of.  And one that will contribute to their well-being.  Does that count as atheist morality? 

I have become accoustomed to speaking in riddles, and I apologise. I have my reasons.

Quote:
I didn't blame god

No, I am not talking specific blame, but rather the proposition. My reasoning is as follows:

Quote:
Once you stop giving credit to god for good things, expecting god to do something about the bad things, and blaming god for the sh1t that falls, all that's left is you

I assume this means taking responsibility for your actions, good and bad.

 

Quote:
You have today and it's decisions

Exactly. But I think we could extend that definition a little further. We are responsible (take blame) for our decisions (actions) and omissions (inaction).

The emphasis I am putting on blame is actually with respect to the latter, and socially rather than individually. For example, we would all agree that if I beat an animal to death, I am resposible for that action. But we would be remiss to think that if I saw someone beating an animal to death (and was able to stop them) that I was not somehow responsible for the outcome.

In a sentence, the proposition would look something like this:

"If God does not exist (or does, it really is irrelevant to the point) then we are to take responsibility for our actions or inactions"

The real question is (if you grant that we are to take resposibility for our indecision) whether, we as humans, are responsible (i.e. to blame) for, say, not feeding the starving massess or curing cancer; by our inaction.

 

Because this is such an emotional topic for all involved, forums are not really the most ideal place to keep discussing ethics and meta-ethics. If you are interested, though, you are welcome to e-mail me. I, for one, am not sure that much good can come of continuing.

 

Once again, I am sorry for your loss, and I mean no disrespect.

 


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It's good, honest human morality, Fortitude

fortitude wrote:

I didn't blame god.  Because any god incapable or unwilling to act on the situation was no god that I was interested in.  Once you stop giving credit to god for good things, expecting god to do something about the bad things, and blaming god for the sh1t that falls, all that's left is you.  You and your decisions.  You have no future.  You have today and it's decisions.  Each day is a gift (as hokey and trite as that sounds).  If I have a chance to reflect on my life before I do die, I want to be able to look back on a life that my children can be proud of.  And one that will contribute to their well-being.  Does that count as atheist morality?   

 

Taken from our side of the fence it's obvious that moral humans invented religion. Religions didn't invent morality - they trademarked it.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Quote:Taken from our side of

Quote:
Taken from our side of the fence it's obvious that moral humans invented religion. Religions didn't invent morality - they trademarked it.

I appreciate your passion, but a degree of delicacy and diligence is required - one which I fear that the Internet cannot convey with any certainty.

"Morality" was invented by humans as well, just like God (apparently *Smiley*). The term "Moral Humans" beggs the question, for it is morality in mild contention here.

I do not for one second think that there is even an "our side of the fence", as if someone can be an arbiter on the way people feel. There is no "us and them", only dialogue - and a lot of it.

As I have mentioned in other threads, no one wins a moral debate in my experience. Almost all of my training has been in this field. If it were solved, it would be a moot point. Relgating it to irrelevance diminishes one's understanding, without adressing the question.

 

EDIT: It takes me a while, but I think I understand what you mean:

Quote:
My response was simply what's with the mention of blame at all. Sickness happens - no one is to blame. There's no meaning, no punishment and nothing to be gained by sheeting anything to blame or punishment or a god-plan at all.

If you put that into context with what I have said, then you answer your own question. Spelling it out a bit more:

If a certain disease were curable, and humans were able to cure it but did not, would there be someone to blame? Now if said cure were prohibitively expensive, does it not raise a sense of indignation within, given the amount of expenditure on efforts to kill off other humans? Since we are talking about our sense of humanity, is it not a sensible question to ask exactly what humanity is?

When you seriously look at it, is there no-one on this planet that is responsible for the aforementioned, blatant contradiction?

Keep in mind, these are questions, not statements. Ask yourself if an African gets the same treatment as an actor, then ask if that constitutes justice in the eyes of humanity or not. I really don't know.

 


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Sotto voce

 

(let's discuss this one somewhere else...)

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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jumbo1410 wrote:  for if

jumbo1410 wrote:
  for if we stop blaming God, then who else is there but ourselves? 

False dichotomy.  Many things happen for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with any decisions made by any conscious being.  

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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It's OK

 

I suppose the point for me posting was to start a discussion, and I completely understand the need to defend god in the face of 'apparent' contradications.  So we can have a discussion here.  It may be instructive for other people who read this. 

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
Taken from our side of the fence it's obvious that moral humans invented religion. Religions didn't invent morality - they trademarked it.

I appreciate your passion, but a degree of delicacy and diligence is required - one which I fear that the Internet cannot convey with any certainty.

"Morality" was invented by humans as well, just like God (apparently *Smiley*). The term "Moral Humans" beggs the question, for it is morality in mild contention here.

I do not for one second think that there is even an "our side of the fence", as if someone can be an arbiter on the way people feel. There is no "us and them", only dialogue - and a lot of it.

As I have mentioned in other threads, no one wins a moral debate in my experience. Almost all of my training has been in this field. If it were solved, it would be a moot point. Relgating it to irrelevance diminishes one's understanding, without adressing the question.

 

EDIT: It takes me a while, but I think I understand what you mean:

Quote:
My response was simply what's with the mention of blame at all. Sickness happens - no one is to blame. There's no meaning, no punishment and nothing to be gained by sheeting anything to blame or punishment or a god-plan at all.

If you put that into context with what I have said, then you answer your own question. Spelling it out a bit more:

If a certain disease were curable, and humans were able to cure it but did not, would there be someone to blame? Now if said cure were prohibitively expensive, does it not raise a sense of indignation within, given the amount of expenditure on efforts to kill off other humans? Since we are talking about our sense of humanity, is it not a sensible question to ask exactly what humanity is?

When you seriously look at it, is there no-one on this planet that is responsible for the aforementioned, blatant contradiction?

Keep in mind, these are questions, not statements. Ask yourself if an African gets the same treatment as an actor, then ask if that constitutes justice in the eyes of humanity or not. I really don't know.

 

In my late husband's situation, there was almost no chance that anyone would find a cure to his cancer, as it was extremely rare, fast and unusual.  I can wish there had been a cure.  But I would not 'blame' anyone else's action or inaction for his troubles.  I had to think about it in terms of that he had an earlier expiry date than most of us.  Basically he had a self destruct mechanism, which was likely there from when he was born.

 

<p>The surgeon did all he could to help in four surgeries.  We used all the recommended therapies.  There truly is noone to blame.  And turning myself in knots trying to find someone to be the recipient of 'blame' seems to be the basis for much of the long mourning process.  By coming to terms with the futility of that line of thinking, I found a lot of peace.</p>

 

<p>As far as taking responsibility, I think it is only of any use to dwell on the things we can do today.  If I have done something I am not proud of, I can try to make reparations.  If there's nothing I can do to rectify my failing or it affects noone but myself, then wallowing in guilt or finding a god balm for that guilt is unhealthy. </p>

I think most of the need to place blame comes from feelings of personal guilt, whether reasonable feelings or unreasonable ones. I could have easily convinced myself that God took him from me because I wasn't committed enough to God and I loved my husband too much.  How unhealthy would that be.  And yet many people tie themselves in knots in their grief looking for the 'why'.  It's a trap. 

 

 

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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A few years ago, my father

A few years ago, my father died of a rare and untreatable disease I'd never heard of until he was diagnosed with it.  As I was first learning to deal with all that, I was angry but there was nobody on whom to focus that anger.  I found that frustrating.  I'd been an atheist for quite a while by then and I half-jokingly told people that I almost wished I could believe in God so that at least there'd be someone to blame.  

Perhaps that sort of response has something to do with why humans invented gods in the first place.  I'd hypothesize that, because we're a highly social species, we're used to things happening because of other individuals and so we rightly or wrongly tend to associate effects with causes that are conscious agents.  That is, when something happens, it's natural for us to feel as if somebody did it.  We find it easier to think that somebody did a bad thing than to think that a bad thing happened just because it happened.  I'm just guessing, though.

fortitude wrote:
And yet many people tie themselves in knots in their grief looking for the 'why'.  It's a trap. 

Hell yeah it's a trap.  Sometimes there is no "why", except for the "what" and "how" of the blind, naturalistic workings or the universe.

My way of dealing with it all was to dwell for a time on the fact that all of us are dying -- no exceptions, no escape.  Then, having accepted death as inevitable, to love and value life for as long as it is still available to me.

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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Forgive me, but without

Forgive me, but without "Why" there is nothing else. "Why" has lead to all the greatest discoveries of mankind. It is the very ability to question that defines us as conscious beings - as human.

"Why" is reason, without reason there are no arguments, just assertions that cannot be right or wrong. "Why" has led you here, a site devoted to rational responses (some less so than others).

"why" is a journey, not altogether enjoyable but nevertheless vital.

 

Yeah, OK. Over the top I know. I have a question:

Why did you stop believing in God?

 

 


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jumbo1410 wrote: Forgive

jumbo1410 wrote:
 Forgive me, but without "Why" there is nothing else.

Ever heard of "How"?

But, more seriously, "why", as it relates to the death of a loved one, is, in my experience, usually not about the empirically testable reasons for the event but, rather, has to do with what place the event holds in some imaginary "divine plan".  For example, "Why did God allow this to happen?"  

In saying that there is no "why", I think most of us are saying that some things happen just because they happen and that there is no greater inherent meaning than that to such events.  When we say, "There is no why!", we're not saying that the event was uncaused but, rather, that it didn't happen for a purpose.  "Why", when it does not translate to "how", acts to block acceptance of the reality of the situation and, by blocking such acceptance, it hampers rather than assists the healing process.

My dad died prematurely because he had a rare disease for which there is no known treatment.  That is the rational "why".  The religious "why" is something that I find is not worth pursuing.  The "how" is interesting and it can be helpful in that it helps me understand and, eventually, accept the event.

 

Quote:
"Why" has lead to all the greatest discoveries of mankind. It is the very ability to question that defines us as conscious beings - as human.

"Why" is reason, without reason there are no arguments, just assertions that cannot be right or wrong. "Why" has led you here, a site devoted to rational responses (some less so than others).

 

 I think you're committing the logical fallacy of equivocation.  See my previous paragraph.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Yeah, OK. Over the top I know. I have a question:

 

Why did you stop believing in God?

For me, the answer is that there is no good reason to think that any such critter exists or has ever existed.

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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Yes - "Why" conflates two

Yes - "Why" conflates two ideas: the actual causes for some outcome, and the idea of purpose or intentionality, which assumes some 'agency' with discretionary ability to intervene or affect the outcome.

So "How" is better, because it concentrates on the 'mechanical' cause/effect aspects.

Just like the standard insistence that "everything happens for a reason" is mistaken, in that it implies some identifiable teleological cause, which simply is NOT necessarily present in any given outcome.

it is that ancient intuitive idea of 'final cause' that should be discarded here, along with any introduction of supernatural agency, which simply wraps such ancient errors in religious clothing.

Once the contribution of any one person's action or inaction to some result goes through more than a couple of  levels of combination with other contributing 'causes', either from other intentional agents or other brute facts about the situation, then it rapidly becomes futile to attempt to calculate a level of 'blame' that can be assigned to them.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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I was actually

I was actually addressing fortitude, but thats ok.

Quote:
"Why" has lead to all the greatest discoveries of mankind. It is the very ability to question that defines us as conscious beings - as human.

 

"Why" is reason, without reason there are no arguments, just assertions that cannot be right or wrong. "Why" has led you here, a site devoted to rational responses (some less so than others).

 

Quote:
I think you're committing the logical fallacy of equivocation.  See my previous paragraph.

Possibly, but you would have trouble definitively proving that.

Quote:
"why", as it relates to the death of a loved one, is, in my experience, usually not about the empirically testable reasons for the event but, rather, has to do with what place the event holds in some imaginary "divine plan".  For example, "Why did God allow this to happen?"

Well done. You have gone further than Bob ever would with this idea...

Yes, and this is my point. If we are asking "Why did God allow this to happen?" and this was the reason you stopped believing in God , then I would like to see how this is not assigning some form of blame, since that is the real contention I have with the OP:

Quote:
I ceased to believe in god when I finally let go of the idea that somehow suffering can be part of god's long term plan

Hence the question (directed at Fortitude):

Quote:
Why did you stop believing in God?

 

Your answer, although unecessary, does not in fact address the question:

Quote:
For me, the answer is that there is no good reason to think that any such critter exists or has ever existed

That addresses why you do not believe in God, but says nothing about why you stopped believing in God.

 

The equivocation charge is good, but I wonder if it is applicable in this context, as it is possibly the "Why" that led to the formulation that God does not exist, but I don't know for sure. That is why you would have trouble proving f/o equivocation definitively. What is your opinion on this?

 

To blobspence:

Quote:
Once the contribution of any one person's action or inaction to some result goes through more than a couple of  levels of combination with other contributing 'causes', either from other intentional agents or other brute facts about the situation, then it rapidly becomes futile to attempt to calculate a level of 'blame' that can be assigned to them.

That is probably why I asked. I guess it's a wait-and-see scenario.

 


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jumbo1410 wrote:Quote:I

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
I think you're committing the logical fallacy of equivocation.  See my previous paragraph.

Possibly, but you would have trouble definitively proving that.

I'm glad that you at least seem to agree that it's plausible.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Yes, and this is my point. If we are asking "Why did God allow this to happen?" and this was the reason you stopped believing in God , then I would like to see how this is not assigning some form of blame, since that is the real contention I have with the OP: 

(see my last paragraph in this message)

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Your answer, although unecessary, does not in fact address the question:

Quote:
For me, the answer is that there is no good reason to think that any such critter exists or has ever existed

That addresses why you do not believe in God, but says nothing about why you stopped believing in God.

In my case, the reason that I stopped believing in God is essentially the same reason that I don't believe in God today.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
The equivocation charge is good, but I wonder if it is applicable in this context, as it is possibly the "Why" that led to the formulation that God does not exist, but I don't know for sure. That is why you would have trouble proving f/o equivocation definitively. What is your opinion on this?

If I understand correctly (I'm guessing here -- I don't know for certain what fortitude had in mind), the answers to "Why", where the question relates to pain and suffering as part of a Divine Plan, were so contrary to what one would expect of a omniscient and omnibenevolent deity or were so absurd that it didn't make sense to continue believing that such a being exists.  Or something to that effect.

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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NoDeity wrote:If I

NoDeity wrote:

If I understand correctly (I'm guessing here -- I don't know for certain what fortitude had in mind), the answers to "Why", where the question relates to pain and suffering as part of a Divine Plan, were so contrary to what one would expect of a omniscient and omnibenevolent deity or were so absurd that it didn't make sense to continue believing that such a being exists.  Or something to that effect.

When I was very little, I bowled with the "bumpers" down on the lanes so I never made a gutter ball.  Eventually that got really old, I never bowled much above the 50's or 60's, and I started bowling without bumpers.  That got me up to about 120.  Finally I went all-out and bought my first "finger-tip" bowling ball -- the sort that in the proper hands can make all sorts of interesting hooks and physics-defying last minute jumps all over the place, which put my high game around 250.

When I was carrying a 120 average, bowling was easy.  Aim for the "pocket", hope for the ball goes straight.  It wasn't until I was using a finger-tip ball that I had to start visualizing where the oil on the lane was, and convert that into rotational speed, angle of release and expected curve across the lane that things got to be very hard, and my scores sometimes quite high.  If I visualized wrong, or if the skin of the ball was saturated in oil that I hadn't removed, my scores fell into the ditch and bowling life sucked.

Personally, I'm glad that "life without bumpers" exists.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Quote:If I understand

Quote:
If I understand correctly (I'm guessing here -- I don't know for certain what fortitude had in mind), the answers to "Why", where the question relates to pain and suffering as part of a Divine Plan, were so contrary to what one would expect of a omniscient and omnibenevolent deity or were so absurd that it didn't make sense to continue believing that such a being exists.  Or something to that effect.

Aha. Good. We are getting somewhere. You don't by any chance have some formal training in philosophy at all do you?

Anyway, if this is indeed the contention, then the following applies:

 

It does not logically follow that an omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent being would or could alleviate pain and suffering. Logically speaking, it is consistent with the omni-attributes of God that suffering and pain could occur. In the above case, your premises do not support your conclusion - it is a non-sequitur.

If we probe this a little further, I think I could make a fairly good case that people of this opinion blame(d) God, subconsciously or explicitly. According to proponents of the view, it is God's responsibility to alleviate suffering given his nature and promises. For if they did not hold God responsible, no contradiction would occur between their beliefs and reality, and hence they would still believe in God. But this is not the case.

It is my understanding that either the above reason for rejecting God is not the real reason behind the decsision, or it is the real reason. I can understand that  one may think such a contradiction should not occur, thereby appointing responsibility or blame to alleviate the cognitive dissonance associated with the apparent contradiction between their belief and the new information.

 

Of course, this is all speculation. I do not presume to know the real reasons behind one or anothers' decisions. I barely know why I do anything for instance. But intuitions left unprobed are mere assertions.

Quote:
In my case, the reason that I stopped believing in God is essentially the same reason that I don't believe in God today

If it is "He does not exist" then you have answered the ultimate question, rather than the the penultimate question. Since it is the latter and not the former that I am asking, how is it that you have answered the question at all?

If I run the risk of equivocation, you run the risk of question begging, since existence (or lack thereof) is the contention, not the conclusion.
 


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jumbo1410 wrote:Quote:If I

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
If I understand correctly (I'm guessing here -- I don't know for certain what fortitude had in mind), the answers to "Why", where the question relates to pain and suffering as part of a Divine Plan, were so contrary to what one would expect of a omniscient and omnibenevolent deity or were so absurd that it didn't make sense to continue believing that such a being exists.  Or something to that effect.

Aha. Good. We are getting somewhere. You don't by any chance have some formal training in philosophy at all do you?

No, no formal training in philosophy here.  I'm essentially a high school drop-out who likes to read.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Anyway, if this is indeed the contention, then the following applies:

 

It does not logically follow that an omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent being would or could alleviate pain and suffering. Logically speaking, it is consistent with the omni-attributes of God that suffering and pain could occur. In the above case, your premises do not support your conclusion - it is a non-sequitur.

I disagree.  I think the argument from evil, despite the various theodicies I've encountered, is a pretty good one.  I think that the existence of a wholly good and all-powerful God is incompatible with the existence of gratuitous evil (including evil in the sense of suffering and pain).

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
If we probe this a little further, I think I could make a fairly good case that people of this opinion blame(d) God, subconsciously or explicitly. According to proponents of the view, it is God's responsibility to alleviate suffering given his nature and promises. For if they did not hold God responsible, no contradiction would occur between their beliefs and reality, and hence they would still believe in God. But this is not the case.

It is my understanding that either the above reason for rejecting God is not the real reason behind the decsision, or it is the real reason. I can understand that  one may think such a contradiction should not occur, thereby appointing responsibility or blame to alleviate the cognitive dissonance associated with the apparent contradiction between their belief and the new information.

From my perspective, it's got nothing to do with responsibility.  Rather, it has to do with the contradiction between the supposed nature of God and the existence of evil.  For me, though, the existence of pain and evil isn't the reason I stopped believing.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Of course, this is all speculation. I do not presume to know the real reasons behind one or anothers' decisions. I barely know why I do anything for instance. But intuitions left unprobed are mere assertions.

Fair enough.

 

jumbo1410 wrote:
Quote:
In my case, the reason that I stopped believing in God is essentially the same reason that I don't believe in God today

If it is "He does not exist" then you have answered the ultimate question, rather than the the penultimate question. Since it is the latter and not the former that I am asking, how is it that you have answered the question at all?

If I run the risk of equivocation, you run the risk of question begging, since existence (or lack thereof) is the contention, not the conclusion. 

Perhaps you misunderstand what I'm saying (partly because I didn't explain myself very thoroughly, I suppose).  The primary reason that I don't believe in God today is that I find that there are no good reasons to think that such a being exists.  The reason I stopped believing in God is that I started exploring what I thought were good reasons to think that God exists and, finding none, I eventually stopped believing.  (I'm giving you several years of exploration in one sentence -- please don't think it was something I did quickly or lightly.) 

I think that what was also happening at the same time is that I shifted some of my values.  Where I had valued faith, I began to more strongly value reason and evidence.  I was becoming interested in rational skepticism (eg. the work of the likes of James Randi and Michael Shermer) and one probably had something to do with the other.

Reality is the graveyard of the gods.


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Quote:I disagree.  I think

Quote:
I disagree.  I think the argument from evil, despite the various theodicies I've encountered, is a pretty good one.  I think that the existence of a wholly good and all-powerful God is incompatible with the existence of gratuitous evil (including evil in the sense of suffering and pain).

You are quite within your rights to disagree. However, it is a hard position to defend without invoking intuition or something similar.

 

Quote:
Rather, it has to do with the contradiction between the supposed nature of God and the existence of evil. 

But that is the point. The contradiction is the reason for disbelief for proponents of the view.

The contention is that if the contradiction is solved, the disbelief (or lack of belief etc.) remains.

Quote:
The primary reason that I don't believe in God today is that I find that there are no good reasons to think that such a being exists.  The reason I stopped believing in God is that I started exploring what I thought were good reasons to think that God exists and, finding none, I eventually stopped believing.  (I'm giving you several years of exploration in one sentence -- please don't think it was something I did quickly or lightly.)

I think that is a perfectly reasonable reason to stop believing in God. Some will look and not see, others will hear and not understand.

Was it anything specific or just a general lack fo cohesiveness?

 


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jumbo1410 wrote:Forgive me,

jumbo1410 wrote:

Forgive me, but without "Why" there is nothing else. "Why" has lead to all the greatest discoveries of mankind. It is the very ability to question that defines us as conscious beings - as human.

"Why" is reason, without reason there are no arguments, just assertions that cannot be right or wrong. "Why" has led you here, a site devoted to rational responses (some less so than others).

"why" is a journey, not altogether enjoyable but nevertheless vital.

 

Yeah, OK. Over the top I know. I have a question:

Why did you stop believing in God?

I'm back - been busy for a couple of days.  In case you didn't see this, this blurb is my introduction to the group, and it might clarify a bit. http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/18933

 

As I suggested in my introduction, I had lived with a lot of cognitive dissonance about god for many years.  Values I had did not match up with so much of either 'god's word' or 'god's body' - the church.  I defended my faith on the ammumption that while I may not understand it now, one day I would be satisfied with an explanation in heaven.

I am familiar with CS Lewis' argument about pain, suffering and the existence of god.  I skimmed his defense of god, denying that a god who exists is responsible to alleviate suffering.  I threw it in the pile with the other tripe that spent more literary effort defending god than giving me any helpful way of seeing my situation.  All this effort was spend defending god in the face of suffering.  I guess I decided god had enough defenders.  I would not be among them anymore.  My loyalty to that 'faith' was done.

Once I allowed myself to open my mind just a little and start reading things not on the 'approved reading list', I started my reason moving with a momentum that I was unable and unwilling to stop.  As I said, I gradually and painfully peeled away all the layers of assurances and trust.  I also They dulled and confusticated the pain of reality, but I needed to think clearly.  It was like finally getting clean of a drug and being able to view things as they really are.  I needed to be able to think clearly in order to make plans and decisions. 

NoDeity wrote:

Ever heard of "How"?

But, more seriously, "why", as it relates to the death of a loved one, is, in my experience, usually not about the empirically testable reasons for the event but, rather, has to do with what place the event holds in some imaginary "divine plan".  For example, "Why did God allow this to happen?"  

I agree with this perspective on the 'why' question and also BobSpence's more philosophical and logical breakdown of the concept.  While inuition is not really a logical argument, my need to survive and function in the face of incredible horror and tragedy seemed to lead me to straighter paths of thinking than I had been used to.  I knew I did not have the extra emotional and physical energy to build up a defense for god at the same time as I was trying to hold my family together.  The 'why question' would have to fall to someone with the time amd emergy for such trivialities and arguments.  Now it is my turn to ask for your forgiveness in trivializing something that you value very highly.  I certainly mean no disrespect.

I understood very well how.  As well as it was possible for me to understand.  I read research papers about his type of cancer.  The 'how' was vitally important for me to understand his treatment options and outlook.  Since there were no lifestyle causes for his disease, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it happening.  Any other 'why' question was irrelevant.

You don't want to hear that in my extremity, 'why' was irrelevant.  It's basically the 'no atheists in fox holes' assertion: that in our utmost extremity, the usefulness of 'faith' will be vindicated.  It was not vindicated.  

It was like an umbrella with no fabric.  You can tell me that I was less wet with my faith umbrella.  I tried to convince myself of the same thing.  Ultimately I threw it away.    

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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Since God, even if it

Since God, even if it existed, is so totally beyond anything we have experience of, anything about its motives or intentions or actions is purest speculation. 

So it is possible to come up with a speculative 'argument' to justify any action or lack of action on its part. Intuition is inherently useless when dealing with something which resembles nothing we regularly encounter in a directly observable manner. This is why I agree with Sam Harris in the quote in my sig about Theology.

We have no reference book on God, just a collection of earlier such open speculations by a bunch of people writing about such matters a few thousand years ago, who knew even less than we do.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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omniarbitrary?

Jumbo wrote:

It does not logically follow that an omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent being would or could alleviate pain and suffering. Logically speaking, it is consistent with the omni-attributes of God that suffering and pain could occur. In the above case, your premises do not support your conclusion - it is a non-sequitur.

It appeared to me at the time (and still does), with my rather straightforward, untheological way of thinking, that such a god would have to be omniarbitrary in order to really fit the description. You would not have anyone question god's 'decisions' or suggest that their apparent arbitrariness is contradictory to his omnibenevelence. At least the greeks and romans had the courage to admit that their gods were arbitrary and capricious, which to them provided an explanation of undeserved suffering. They were polytheistic, so they could afford to have one or another god having PMS. There were still others to call on for help. The monotheistic religions place the blame squarely on humanity and on the 'fallen world' concept. 'God' is rubber and we are glue. Whatever bounces off of him sticks to us.

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


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I was listening to the radio

I was listening to the radio a few days ago in my truck and was skimming through stations trying to find something good, when I happened upon a Christain talk show or something going on.  People were calling in asking questions as to the nature of God, etc.  One woman, who sounded very emotional at the time, asked the guest speaker (forget his name but he had written a book about God so apparently that made him an expert) why God would allow innocent children and babies to be killed.  His answer was something to the effect of "He's God.  He can do whatever He wants."  and then went off on some tangent that had nothing to do with the question she asked.

 

I can't imagine that was comforting at all for the woman who called.  From her voice it sounded like she was in some pain.  But rest assured, lady, that God tears our babies out of our arms because He can. 

 

 

 

 


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Once you assume God has any

Once you assume God has any of these omni- attributes, and is infinite, etc, you open the way to all sorts of logical difficulties - like how can you possibly go against the will ( ie 'sin' ) of an omnipotent being? -  so it is all but impossible to draw logical conclusions about such an entity.

Such difficulties have been pointed out by philosophers down the centuries.

It makes it worse that the believers can't even logically demonstrate why even a creator being need have any of these attributes.

So you are right, the Greek gods make a lot more sense, if you must imagine someone having power over us all.

Probably a matter of those tribes in the Middle East wanting to believe their God was stronger than all other Gods, so omni- is as powerful as it gets.

The psychology of it all is so freaking childish...

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:Probably a

BobSpence1 wrote:

Probably a matter of those tribes in the Middle East wanting to believe their God was stronger than all other Gods, so omni- is as powerful as it gets.

The psychology of it all is so freaking childish...

 

Haha that's funny I just pictured two kids arguing saying "oh yeah?  well my idea times two!" second kid says "hmph, mine times infinity.  I win!"


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Well there are certainly

Well there are certainly enough replies, but I'm not sure I can get to the bottom of all of them.

Quote:
Once I allowed myself to open my mind just a little and start reading things not on the 'approved reading list', I started my reason moving with a momentum that I was unable and unwilling to stop.  As I said, I gradually and painfully peeled away all the layers of assurances and trust.  I also They dulled and confusticated the pain of reality, but I needed to think clearly.  It was like finally getting clean of a drug and being able to view things as they really are.  I needed to be able to think clearly in order to make plans and decisions.

What I don't understand, Fort, is why you didn't read some more o those "forbidden" articles while you were a christian? Nothing prevents you from educating yourself (assuming you are free and not, say, in prison etc). Why did you have to give up God to open your mind?

Quote:
I am familiar with CS Lewis' argument about pain, suffering and the existence of god.  I skimmed his defense of god, denying that a god who exists is responsible to alleviate suffering.  I threw it in the pile with the other tripe that spent more literary effort defending god than giving me any helpful way of seeing my situation.  All this effort was spend defending god in the face of suffering.  I guess I decided god had enough defenders.  I would not be among them anymore.  My loyalty to that 'faith' was done.

I don't think you are being entirely accurate when you say "defending God". Strawman, is all I will say.

Quote:
I agree with this perspective on the 'why' question and also BobSpence's more philosophical and logical breakdown of the concept.  While inuition is not really a logical argument, my need to survive and function in the face of incredible horror and tragedy seemed to lead me to straighter paths of thinking than I had been used to.  I knew I did not have the extra emotional and physical energy to build up a defense for god at the same time as I was trying to hold my family together.  The 'why question' would have to fall to someone with the time amd emergy for such trivialities and arguments.  Now it is my turn to ask for your forgiveness in trivializing something that you value very highly.  I certainly mean no disrespect.

Hey, look, do whatever it takes to get you through. That is all anyone can expect, regardless of what is said. There are no right or wrong answers here, it is a subjective concept. You cannot prove "How is better than why", or vice versa. Thats just silly. Why works for me, how works for you.

Quote:
I understood very well how.  As well as it was possible for me to understand.  I read research papers about his type of cancer.  The 'how' was vitally important for me to understand his treatment options and outlook.  Since there were no lifestyle causes for his disease, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it happening.  Any other 'why' question was irrelevant.

You don't want to hear that in my extremity, 'why' was irrelevant.  It's basically the 'no atheists in fox holes' assertion: that in our utmost extremity, the usefulness of 'faith' will be vindicated.  It was not vindicated.  

It was like an umbrella with no fabric.  You can tell me that I was less wet with my faith umbrella.  I tried to convince myself of the same thing.  Ultimately I threw it away.

I'm not sure what you mean here, but I'm not sure if I really need to either. I am not trivialising "How", or what when if etc.

It is one thing to know how a bird sings, and another to know why. Which one you place emphasis on is up to you. Personally, I prefer the latter - it is one thing to know how a man dies, and another to know why...

 

EDIT: Clarity.


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"Why" can imply both a

"Why" can imply both a query as to the physical causal chain, which, at least in principle, is discoverable, and a 'teleological' aspect, as to what purpose did this event serve in some plan, which mostly simply does not exist, ie there is no purpose being served, it is just a consequence of a series of events which were not in any sense directed by any agent to some end.

It is this latter aspect which many people have in mind when asking "why".

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Logical?

jumbo1410 wrote:

It does not logically follow that an omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent being would or could alleviate pain and suffering. Logically speaking, it is consistent with the omni-attributes of God that suffering and pain could occur.  

So you think that a being who cares about us all, knows everything that is going on and has the power to do anything would logically allow us to suffer?

Once again you prove that theist "logic" is a bit different to what most of us would call logic.

My todler is at the top of a tall flight of stairs and is about to fall... I am within easy reach, but logically I should just let the kid fall.

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Quote:So you think that a

Quote:
So you think that a being who cares about us all, knows everything that is going on and has the power to do anything would logically allow us to suffer?

Once again you prove that theist "logic" is a bit different to what most of us would call logic.

My todler is at the top of a tall flight of stairs and is about to fall... I am within easy reach, but logically I should just let the kid fall.

As convincing as it sounds, the argument from "suffering" is actually not as straight forward as it seems. This question, to my knowledge, is over a thousand years old.

 

1. God is omnipotent

2. God is omniscient

3. God is omnibenevolent

---

4. "Suffering" exists

 

I suggest you research the argument a little more diligently.

I also do not think your analogy is accurate. At what point will you let your toddler fall? Obviously not now. What about a child? A teen? An adult? If your analogy were accurate, then you are omni-available to stop all attempts a human could make at falling (or failing) - even against their will, for it is your omnibenevolent nature that dictates you will. But at what point does alleviating suffering encroach upon autonomy? These are some of the questions that would be relevant to the discussion.

Anyway, there is enough literature out there to chomp on, so there is no point in debating it here, unless either one of us has something new to offer - which I seriously doubt is the case.


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Actually it seems pretty straight forward...

So your argument seems to be that God exists and has these atributes and suffering exists so therefore it fits?

I would research, but I do not have the time to spend hours looking these things up, or in fact the time to visit this forum regularly.

I don't think preventing accidental suffering encroaches on autonomy, or on fact the prevention of disease (that God must have created in the first place, or preventing someone from willfully abusing an inocent child etc etc.

As I haven't read all of this literature and don't have the time (or interest, because I don't believe in god anyway), how about you quickly give me some good pointers?

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jumbo1410 wrote:Quote:So you

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
So you think that a being who cares about us all, knows everything that is going on and has the power to do anything would logically allow us to suffer?

Once again you prove that theist "logic" is a bit different to what most of us would call logic.

My todler is at the top of a tall flight of stairs and is about to fall... I am within easy reach, but logically I should just let the kid fall.

As convincing as it sounds, the argument from "suffering" is actually not as straight forward as it seems. This question, to my knowledge, is over a thousand years old.

 

1. God is omnipotent

2. God is omniscient

3. God is omnibenevolent

---

4. "Suffering" exists

 

I suggest you research the argument a little more diligently.

I also do not think your analogy is accurate. At what point will you let your toddler fall? Obviously not now. What about a child? A teen? An adult? If your analogy were accurate, then you are omni-available to stop all attempts a human could make at falling (or failing) - even against their will, for it is your omnibenevolent nature that dictates you will. But at what point does alleviating suffering encroach upon autonomy? These are some of the questions that would be relevant to the discussion.

Anyway, there is enough literature out there to chomp on, so there is no point in debating it here, unless either one of us has something new to offer - which I seriously doubt is the case.

That isn't an argument. That is a non-sequiter.

The problems that arise if one assumes that God actually has all those attributes are also long established, as are the devious attempts to find a way around them.

The many logical problems that the assumption of God gives rise to are easily resolved by the application of Occam's Razor: reject the idea of God completely. Everything becomes much more understandable.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Quote:That isn't an

Quote:
That isn't an argument. That is a non-sequiter.

The problems that arise if one assumes that God actually has all those attributes are also long established, as are the devious attempts to find a way around them.

The many logical problems that the assumption of God gives rise to are easily resolved by the application of Occam's Razor: reject the idea of God completely. Everything becomes much more understandable.

It is a non sequitur. The argument is designed to bring out the contradiction between the attributes of God and the existence of evil. However, if you are familiar with this argument then you already know that it fails. That is the point. If you have a definitive response, I would like to see it.

 

 

Quote:
So your argument seems to be that God exists and has these atributes and suffering exists so therefore it fits?

As pointed out in this thread, I need not prove something exists before I discuss it's attributes, if that is what you mean. What I would have to do is prove the second half of the sentence, i.e. that suffering exists and it does not contradict God's nature.

 

Quote:
I don't think preventing accidental suffering encroaches on autonomy, or on fact the prevention of disease (that God must have created in the first place, or preventing someone from willfully abusing an inocent child etc etc.

Well, briefly, if someone was willfully abusing a child, you say that God is entitled to step in and stop that person. This idea assumes several things:

1. Man has a will

2. There is a distinction being made between action, omission and accident

3. Abuse is a bad thing, hereafter called "Evil"

4. God should intervene in evil situations.

 

Once again, briefly:

 

1. God can overide the will of man.

2. God's omnibenevolence and omnipotence dictates that he should prevent all evil.

3. By evil we just mean pretty much anything that would go against God's omnibenevolence.

4. Mankind's inclination is almost entirely against God's omnibenevolence

----

5. God should override the inclination of mankind.

 

I would like to see how this is not giving up our autonomy. I'm sure the argument will balloon out some, but the conclusion will remain the same.

Now all that is left is accidental suffering. I will avoid the traditional arument that "First Order Evi" (pain and suffering) enables "Greater Goods" (bravery, fortitude, benevolence etc); and refer back to the speculation above about humanity and ethics.

 

Take disease for example, the assumption is, it is random, accidental and unintended, placing its eradication squarely at the feet of God, for its elimination would not void our autonomy as it is not an act of will. However, what constitutes an act of will? If you extend actions beyond intention and into omission, then I believe humans could be responsible for (some) disease. If we intentionally avoid a cure or prevention for, say, AIDS/HIV+, then is it still God's responsibility to eradicate it? Consider how HIV is usually transmitted (via needles and/or through intercourse). This is not to say that everyone with AIDS deserves it (that is an over-application of the rule), but it makes the problem of disease more complex, especially when you consider how AIDS came to be in the first place.

 

Quote:

As I haven't read all of this literature and don't have the time (or interest, because I don't believe in god anyway), how about you quickly give me some good pointers?

 

Well I have said too much already, but I'll continue. The problem of Evil centers around what Mackie calls an "Inconsistent Triad":

 

1. God is omnipotent

2. God is omniscient

---

3. Evil exists 

 

The key to understanding the argument is not in the argument itself, rather the "quasi-logical" rules added to the argument to avoid the non-sequitur Bob pointed out. An example of a quasi-logical rule is:

 

2'. An omnipotent being is able to actualise any state of affairs that is not logically impossible.

 

Keep in mind these are examples, I don't want you getting my education for free Sticking out tongue

Now if you add 2'. to the argument, and in turn 4'., 5' and so on, one after the other, you realise that in fact, the triad is not inconsistent. IOW, it is consistent that God is omni-whatever and evil exists.

 

If you are truly interested, you will find the time to study it yourself. I find it mildly amusing that you strongly oppose the idea without even knowing what you are actually talking about. I wonder if you represent most Atheists here lol.

 

EDIT: Omitted antagonism.


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jumbo1410 wrote:Quote:So

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
So your argument seems to be that God exists and has these atributes and suffering exists so therefore it fits?

As pointed out in this thread, I need not prove something exists before I discuss it's attributes, if that is what you mean.  

That's not what I meant, I am quite aware that you can't prove God.

jumbo1410 wrote:

Quote:
I don't think preventing accidental suffering encroaches on autonomy, or on fact the prevention of disease (that God must have created in the first place, or preventing someone from willfully abusing an inocent child etc etc.

Well, briefly, if someone was willfully abusing a child, you say that God is entitled to step in and stop that person. This idea assumes several things:

1. Man has a will

2. There is a distinction being made between action, omission and accident

3. Abuse is a bad thing, hereafter called "Evil"

4. God should intervene in evil situations.

 Once again, briefly:

 1. God can overide the will of man.

2. God's omnibenevolence and omnipotence dictates that he should prevent all evil.

3. By evil we just mean pretty much anything that would go against God's omnibenevolence.

4. Mankind's inclination is almost entirely against God's omnibenevolence

5. God should override the inclination of mankind.

 

According to your definition of God, He created everything, is responsible for everything, can change anything He wants and knows everything that is going to happen. Evil is what is against mankind's morality. God created evil, and could remove it if He so chose. God put the evil inclinations in mankind. He could quite easily have the worst inclinations in mankind being theft and grumpiness, however he made people who assault, rape and murder people, even in His own churches. It is not about the freewill argument and autonomy, it is about God creating it in the first place and then allowing it to continue.

jumbo1410 wrote:

Take disease for example, the assumption is, it is random, accidental and unintended, placing its eradication squarely at the feet of God, for its elimination would not void our autonomy as it is not an act of will. However, what constitutes an act of will? If you extend actions beyond intention and into omission, then I believe humans could be responsible for (some) disease. If we intentionally avoid a cure or prevention for, say, AIDS/HIV+, then is it still God's responsibility to eradicate it? Consider how HIV is usually transmitted (via needles and/or through intercourse). This is not to say that everyone with AIDS deserves it (that is an over-application of the rule), but it makes the problem of disease more complex, especially when you consider how AIDS came to be in the first place.

Once again, God created disease, He inflicted this on us (and all living things). Did He create disease and let millions of people die every year from disease (most non-STDs) just to give us an insentive to improve our science and try to find cures? Even though diseases were around for millions of years  before we even had a chance to prevent the simplest of them?

I'm not even going to ask what whacky AIDS theory you subscribe to, it is not what we are talking about here.

jumbo1410 wrote:

2'. An omnipotent being is able to actualise any state of affairs that is not logically impossible.

I thought your omnipotent being could do what is logically impossible, isn't that the point? In fact he did several times in the Bible. Actually the omnipotent being is a logical impossibility in the first place.

jumbo1410 wrote:

If you are truly interested, you will find the time to study it yourself. I find it mildly amusing that you strongly oppose the idea without even knowing what you are actually talking about. I wonder if you represent most Atheists here lol.

As I said, not that interested as I don't believe in God anyway. I just find it amusing to discuss these things. As far as not knowing what I am talking about; I don't need to do lots of research to discuss a basic concept. 

I don't represent anyone here other than myself. If you want to be arrogant with me that is your business, but don't extend it to others. There a quite a few here who do extensive research. 

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ronin-dog wrote:jumbo1410

ronin-dog wrote:

jumbo1410 wrote:

If you are truly interested, you will find the time to study it yourself. I find it mildly amusing that you strongly oppose the idea without even knowing what you are actually talking about. I wonder if you represent most Atheists here lol.

As I said, not that interested as I don't believe in God anyway. I just find it amusing to discuss these things. As far as not knowing what I am talking about; I don't need to do lots of research to discuss a basic concept. 

I don't represent anyone here other than myself. If you want to be arrogant with me that is your business, but don't extend it to others. There a quite a few here who do extensive research. 

 

Wow jumbo I don't know if you realize it but you just came off as incredibly ignorant.  How many of us do you think grew up without some kind of religious training?  I'm sure a lot of us know just as much about your God as you do, and even if nobody did ronin-dog is correct in saying he doesn't need to research it because "God can do anything" is a pretty easy concept to understand.  What the issue is here, as far as I can see, is the fact that while He is supposedly omnipotent, He fails to intervene when tragedy occurs. 

Your argument is (if I gather correctly) that if God were to intervene and prevent the "evil" that is to occur, this would somehow override the will of Man.  Well, YEAH.  If God cares so much about whomever the "evil" is being acted upon, then (because He can do anything) He is more than capable of overriding the "inclination" of the one doing the "evil" so that he/she may do no such thing. 

 


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ARGH!  STUPID PEOPLE!How

ARGH!  STUPID PEOPLE!

How many of you still live at home with your parents?  How many of you still allow your parents to make all of your decisions?  How many of you would allow your parents to interfere in your life each and every time something even remotely "dangerous" happened?

Replace "parents" with "G-d" and tell me that you'd really want G-d treating you like some kind of child who doesn't know what they are doing or can't be responsible for their own life.

God-as-puppet-master is just as horrible as god-as-super-nanny.  If you don't believe in G-d because G-d doesn't give you free ponies or keep you from getting an ouwie when you fall down, you've got bigger problems than you imagine.  Since most children eventually up and leave the protective cocoon of their parents' home, I can only assume that being protected and smothered all the time is not really part of the plan.  And I don't think it's part of the plan whether G-d does or doesn't exist.  Because Theist and Atheist kids alike all seem to agree that being able to make ones own mistakes and suffer the consequences, or enjoy the rewards, is a good way to be an adult.

So all these "omnibenevolent" arguments are bogus.  And they are bogus whether or not G-d exists, which is usually the best way to determine that an argument about G-d is or isn't valid.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Actually I don't believe in

Actually I don't believe in God because there is no reason for me to believe.

I am arguing against omnibenevolent to show that that supposed facet of God is inconsistent with reality.

You are right that a parent shouldn't protect their child from every "ouwie". But if they had a chance to they would protect their child from rape, assault, disease, birth defect, cancer... and the child would be thankful for it.

What is with G-d? Do you have an objection to wirting God?

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ronin-dog wrote:Actually I

ronin-dog wrote:

Actually I don't believe in God because there is no reason for me to believe.

I am arguing against omnibenevolent to show that that supposed facet of God is inconsistent with reality.

You are right that a parent shouldn't protect their child from every "ouwie". But if they had a chance to they would protect their child from rape, assault, disease, birth defect, cancer... and the child would be thankful for it.

What is with G-d? Do you have an objection to wirting God?

The "G-d" thing is something some Jews are into.  It's a reminder not to casually toss G-d around in conversations.  I can be fairly irreverant at times, so I try to be extra careful.

I disagree that a parent even COULD protect a child from all those negative life experiences, just short of being so restrictive on their life that the child would rebel.  Which is actually the normal development process by which children learn and eventually gain independence.  I've actually been actually raped.  As much as I'd prefer to have never had the experience, one thing I'm very clear on is that the events that led to being raped as an adult couldn't have been prevented, short of keeping me locked up in the house.  Not to say it was my fault in any way, just saying that the phrase "overly protective" exists in the parenting lexicon for a reason, and is widely viewed as having harmful affects on a child's development.

So I'm going to see your objection to the abstract concept "omnibenevolent" and raise you "necessary for human development".  And that's going to be "necessary for human development ... whether or not G-d exists."  Which, if G-d exists and is All-Knowing and All-Wise, G-d would know.  Even if G-d doesn't exist.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Replacing 'God' with "G-d"

Replacing 'God' with "G-d" achieves nothing but draw attention to how many times you are referring to God - it just becomes an alternative spelling.

To actually believe in the magic of completely spelling out a name is really silly and primitive superstition.

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I wasn't aware of the

I wasn't aware of the G-d/Jewish thing. I do agree with Bob though, just replacing letters doesn't make a difference, you are still casually tossing his name around. Some people believe if they write F*k, frig, frak etc they aren't swearing, but it is they meaning that you apply to letters that make it a word. Calling him G-d, Allah, Jehovah or Jonny makes no difference if you mean God.

I am sorry for your suffering, but you don't get my meaning. God is omnipotent. A parent is restricted to isolating their child and that does not work, you are correct. But God would have the ability to stop to rapists etc without restricting the child. He could even remove any tendency for any human to want to have non-consenting sex. My other argument is that God actually created the tendency for rape, violence etc in the first place, seeing as he is the creator of everything.

Allowing someone to fall over and skin their knee is one thing, but how is disease and being a victim of assault necessary for human development?

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:Replacing

BobSpence1 wrote:

Replacing 'God' with "G-d" achieves nothing but draw attention to how many times you are referring to God - it just becomes an alternative spelling.

To actually believe in the magic of completely spelling out a name is really silly and primitive superstition.

The magic "works" -- whether or not G-d exists.

I know you're going to have a really hard time with me.  Free advice -- a lot of my arguments with Atheists are based on whether or not the argument works, regardless of G-d's existence.  If spelling it "G-d" is a functioning mechanism for me (and you can't argue against "for me" -- that's the Mind Reading Fallacy), it's not "magic".  So, when you prepare a response to me, feel free to also check your argument against how an Atheist would respond.

I noticed that as with many Atheists, you dodged the issue -- do you or don't you refer to your parents by their first name?  Do you allow your child(ren) to refer to you by yours?  Do you think that "respect" is an essential part of human existence, regardless of the existence of G-d?

Respect -- good idea, yes or no?

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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FurryCatHerder

FurryCatHerder wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Replacing 'God' with "G-d" achieves nothing but draw attention to how many times you are referring to God - it just becomes an alternative spelling.

To actually believe in the magic of completely spelling out a name is really silly and primitive superstition.

The magic "works" -- whether or not G-d exists.

I know you're going to have a really hard time with me.  Free advice -- a lot of my arguments with Atheists are based on whether or not the argument works, regardless of G-d's existence.  If spelling it "G-d" is a functioning mechanism for me (and you can't argue against "for me" -- that's the Mind Reading Fallacy), it's not "magic".  So, when you prepare a response to me, feel free to also check your argument against how an Atheist would respond.

I noticed that as with many Atheists, you dodged the issue -- do you or don't you refer to your parents by their first name?  Do you allow your child(ren) to refer to you by yours?  Do you think that "respect" is an essential part of human existence, regardless of the existence of G-d?

Respect -- good idea, yes or no?

I referred to my parents as "Mum" and "Dad". It wasn't so much a matter of respect, it was a matter of custom, convention, just as "G-d" is for you.

But it is still not a good analogy.

And of course I regard respect as essential part of human existence, but tying the concept to such a custom as God/G-d devalues genuine respect. As I said, if I wrote "M-m" it would be a more valid comparison.

Do you pronounce 'G-d' differently from 'God' when you speak it?

Because if the distinction does not come across in speech, it makes it even more ridiculous.

A practice that would make more sense would be to actually use a different 'familiar' name in casual use, which would be directly analogous to the way I addressed my parents.

I can see how this particular convention might have arisen, because I understand ancient Hebrew did not use vowel symbols?

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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