Suffering, prayer and god's will

fortitude
Science Freak
fortitude's picture
Posts: 64
Joined: 2009-11-19
User is offlineOffline
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


FurryCatHerder
Theist
FurryCatHerder's picture
Posts: 1253
Joined: 2007-06-02
User is offlineOffline
Atheistextremist wrote:That

Atheistextremist wrote:

That I'm really enjoying this thread. It's fascinating to 'watch' the thought processes and feel the natural biases that always have to creep into such arguments.

In some ways they are most telling...

It's a trainwreck, but at least it's a very intellectual trainwreck?

"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."


FurryCatHerder
Theist
FurryCatHerder's picture
Posts: 1253
Joined: 2007-06-02
User is offlineOffline
NoDeity wrote:SapphireMind

NoDeity wrote:

SapphireMind wrote:
Your theory has the same problem.  What was there before there was god?  God always was?  then why can't the universe have always been? 

My take on that: if something must have always existed and if we must choose between God and matter/energy in some form, then I think it's more likely that matter/energy in some form (not necessarily in the form of the universe as we know it) has always existed.  After all, we have no testable evidence supporting the idea that God exists or has ever existed whereas it's pretty clear that matter/energy does exist.

There's no requirement that matter =or= energy has always existed.  And until we know exactly what Higgs is, it may well be that the existence of "space" is all that's needed.

As I understand symmetry breaking experiments, since something and anti-something can arise spontaneously, the fact that symmetry is "broken" means that something and anti-something can become some other something -- WITHOUT THE CORRESPONDING ANTI SOME OTHER SOMETHING -- and all of that can originate from nothing.

"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."


FurryCatHerder
Theist
FurryCatHerder's picture
Posts: 1253
Joined: 2007-06-02
User is offlineOffline
BobSpence1 wrote:Nothing can

BobSpence1 wrote:

Nothing can produce itself.

There is reason to believe from observations of quantum phenomena, that quantum scale energy in the form of virtual particle pairs can appear spontaneously, and as long as they disappear within a certain time period, no laws of conservation are violated, since we cannot determine the energy levels of anything with perfect precision.

The properties of energy are somewhat mysterious, but it is capable of measurement and empirical study, unlike God, which is intrinsically unknowable, even if It exists. Energy is much simpler, since it does not display any attributes of purpose or intention, nor would it make sense to attribute such things to it. It can be falsified, and is certainly detectable.

I don't think you're right about virtual particle pairs.  Give this -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP-violation -- a read and tell me what you think.  Because these paragraphs, in particular, tells me that the creation of a very real something from a complete nothing is already possible according to existing understandings of Physics.

Quote:

The Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter if CP symmetry was preserved; as such, there should have been total cancellation of both. In other words, protons should have cancelled with antiprotons, electrons with antielectrons, neutrons with antineutrons, and so on for all elementary particles. This would have resulted in a sea of photons in the universe with no matter. Since this is quite evidently not the case, after the Big Bang, physical laws must have acted differently for matter and antimatter, i.e. violating CP symmetry.

The Standard Model contains only two ways to break CP symmetry. The first of these, discussed above, is in the QCD Lagrangian, and has not been found experimentally; but one would expect this to lead to either no CP violation or a CP violation that is many, many orders of magnitude too large. The second of these, involving the weak force, has been experimentally verified, but can account for only a small portion of CP violation. It is predicted to be sufficient for a net mass of normal matter equivalent to only a single galaxy in the known universe.

"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."


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5849
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
FurryCatHerder

FurryCatHerder wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Nothing can produce itself.

There is reason to believe from observations of quantum phenomena, that quantum scale energy in the form of virtual particle pairs can appear spontaneously, and as long as they disappear within a certain time period, no laws of conservation are violated, since we cannot determine the energy levels of anything with perfect precision.

The properties of energy are somewhat mysterious, but it is capable of measurement and empirical study, unlike God, which is intrinsically unknowable, even if It exists. Energy is much simpler, since it does not display any attributes of purpose or intention, nor would it make sense to attribute such things to it. It can be falsified, and is certainly detectable.

I don't think you're right about virtual particle pairs.  Give this -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP-violation -- a read and tell me what you think.  Because these paragraphs, in particular, tells me that the creation of a very real something from a complete nothing is already possible according to existing understandings of Physics.

Quote:

The Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter if CP symmetry was preserved; as such, there should have been total cancellation of both. In other words, protons should have cancelled with antiprotons, electrons with antielectrons, neutrons with antineutrons, and so on for all elementary particles. This would have resulted in a sea of photons in the universe with no matter. Since this is quite evidently not the case, after the Big Bang, physical laws must have acted differently for matter and antimatter, i.e. violating CP symmetry.

The Standard Model contains only two ways to break CP symmetry. The first of these, discussed above, is in the QCD Lagrangian, and has not been found experimentally; but one would expect this to lead to either no CP violation or a CP violation that is many, many orders of magnitude too large. The second of these, involving the weak force, has been experimentally verified, but can account for only a small portion of CP violation. It is predicted to be sufficient for a net mass of normal matter equivalent to only a single galaxy in the known universe.

CP-violation is a separate issue from mass-energy conservation (the  First Law of Thermodynamics). It determines how the energy in the BB 'condenses out' into matter particles.

There are some ideas around that with gravitational potential energy considered negative, the net mass-energy of the Big Bang Universe may be zero, or close to it.

I understand that the life-time of VPP's is governed by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, allowing temporary violating of the First Law.

The BB 'singularity' could arise from some process like VPPs, except that it involved positive and negative energy. Some random factor could allow the separation to persist and grow instead of collapsing. It involves no permanent violation of the First Law, so is not as constrained as VPP's.

Just some thoughts...

The only quite unnecessary hypothesis in origins is anything involving sentience/purpose/intentionality as would be implied by anything meaningfully labelled as 'God'.

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

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


jumbo1410
Theist
Posts: 166
Joined: 2009-07-25
User is offlineOffline
There are a lot of posts

There are a lot of posts again, I lack the discipline to answer them all. Out of courtesy:

Quote:

You missed this earlier (I completely understand, you've got multiple paragraphs pointed at you):

 

Okay, I understand going from one thing to the next.  I understand that, yes, god could exist.

 

As for my never statement, I am confused.  How can god be real and supernatural?  I thought 'natural' as a concept covers everything in existence, meaning if god were supernatural, he wouldn't be real.  Similarly, how can we EVER observe a natural phenomenon, and then attribute it to a supernatural source?  We certainly couldn't do it in a scientific context, unless we simply get to the point where science gives up.  To me, god, as a scientific answer to unknown questions, is a final acceptance that humans cannot understand how it happens, so then something supernatural has to be the cause.  This is where I see humans never giving up on science, even if it takes an eternity.

Well, it really depends on what theory you ascribe to. "Natural" may mean some pretty weird things. Take 10D theory for example. It says that matter is travelling in all sorts of directions in time - forward, backward etc. If matter is doing this, then that aspect of nature is certainly indetectable by the average human process. That is, if 10D theory proves to be correct, that is one example of a natural process beyond human appreciation. God does not need to be bound by our laws of nature to exist, it is quite possible tha he is an 11D entity - completely beyond our 3D world, yet completely able to interact with all ten lower dimesnsions.

 

Quote:
I think this is an important distinction.  Even if science comes to the point where it has to conclude that energy is the basic, infinite, eternal aspect of the universe, it will have done so in a way that would seriously be 'giving up.'  Calling the 'unknown basic element of the universe' god does nothing.  Like I said, anything science finds in reality receives a name, and, to me, it seems that the only thing calling something 'god' does is just muddle the concept of god.

This is similar to Nodeity's post, so I will adddress them both as one.

The point I think you are making is that even if energy is the one unexplained thing, it does not entitle us to give it the attributes of omnipotence, omnscience etc etc. This is a very specific point, and a completely valid one. I am not aware of any argument to the contrary. Indeed, I do not believe any argument can be mounted against this objection (yet).

All I can say is that most theists bridge this gap with personal experience of God. I, unfortunately, have not had any such direct revelation, nor would I consider this a valid argument if I did (too many fallacies to list). I believe in God because of a whole bunch of reasons (like cognitive dissonance, convenience etc etc). But its a conscious and reasonably well informed decision. I would like to think that I have been consistent with my posts from first to last - I have come a full circle. This is the point I brought up in my first thread.

Well, this brings me to a close. Even if I successfully argue science into a corner, it won't change a thing. The above point is where I believe all arguments about belief will eventually terminate.  Even if a God was proven to not exist, I would still believe in one out of spite anyway Sticking out tongue

 


Atheistextremist
atheistSilver Member
Atheistextremist's picture
Posts: 5102
Joined: 2009-09-17
User is offlineOffline
Honesty - nice.

jumbo1410 wrote:

The point I think you are making is that even if energy is the one unexplained thing, it does not entitle us to give it the attributes of omnipotence, omnscience etc etc. This is a very specific point, and a completely valid one. I am not aware of any argument to the contrary. Indeed, I do not believe any argument can be mounted against this objection (yet).

All I can say is that most theists bridge this gap with personal experience of God. I, unfortunately, have not had any such direct revelation, nor would I consider this a valid argument if I did (too many fallacies to list). I believe in God because of a whole bunch of reasons (like cognitive dissonance, convenience etc etc). But its a conscious and reasonably well informed decision. I would like to think that I have been consistent with my posts from first to last - I have come a full circle. This is the point I brought up in my first thread.

Well, this brings me to a close. Even if I successfully argue science into a corner, it won't change a thing. The above point is where I believe all arguments about belief will eventually terminate.  Even if a God was proven to not exist, I would still believe in one out of spite anyway Sticking out tongue

 

And I loved that giggler of a last line, jumbo.

 

 

 

 

 

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