A perfect God?

November 21, 2008

The three mainstream monotheistic religions make a common claim. They claim their god is perfect. Apart from the obvious issue that the concept of perfection is subjective I have been thinking about this idea, the idea of a perfect god.

Since Christianity is the main religion that I come into contact with I would like to consider the concept of “the Christian god is perfect”. The actual existence of such a perfect being is not within the scope of this discussion because it is a discussion all on its own.

What is perfection? Perfection means it cannot be better, for if something could be better, then it would not be perfect. We can look at biological organisms and their functions. Human eyes for instance are not perfect. Why? Well, a squid’s eyes are closer to optimum. We only see three colours, namely red, green and blue. A mantis shrimp has the ability to see eight. Seeing eight colours is better then seeing only three colours. There is therefore no way we can claim that human eyes are perfect since we have examples of better eyes in other animals.

But comparing gods is a bit more difficult. The reason is that gods cannot be differentiated from mere ideas that humans have. We have not caught any god(s) so we cannot study them/it. Searching for a god’s interaction in our universe has also proven to be fruitless so far. But perhaps we can compare ideas to see if an idea is better than another one and therefore closer to perfection. The better something is, the closer it is to perfection. To a certain extend one can evaluate a god in the same way we evaluate ideas. There is no other way to evaluate a god and his/her/it’s worth, as far as I know. We can only compare ideas and opinions.

So the Christians make a claim about their god. They claim he is perfect. But, if I can think of a god with better properties, then my idea of a god is closer to perfection than their idea or concept of god. Since a perfect god has perfection as a property it should therefore be impossible to think of better properties or attributes for such a god. If it could be better, then it is not perfect. If a person can think of better properties or attributes then the first concept of god no longer has any claim to perfection.

We see this concept of perfection active in the Christian concept of god. All-mighty. Yes, that sounds perfect. Omni-present. Yes, that also sounds also very perfect to me. All-knowing would also be a requirement for a perfect god. All-good would be a requirement for a good god if it is also claimed that he is perfect. Since I cannot improve on concepts such as all-mighty, all-knowing and all-present it means that I cannot imagine a more perfect god. On the surface, the Christian god appears to be a perfect god.

The Christians also have another claim, apart of the claim for a perfect god. The claim is that the Bible tells us something about this perfect god and his actions. There are also references in the Bible describing God as all-mighty, all-knowing etc. But the Bible goes into more detail. At certain places it describes god’s motives behind some of his actions. In other places only actions are discussed without the motives behind them. The Bible is full of concepts about god, his actions and his motives. Jesus was send because the all-good god had a plan to sacrifice his son to save mankind. This is the basis of the Christian faith.

There is a problem though. By reading the Bible and its alleged revelation about god we can continue to think about the concept of the perfect Christian God and compare it to the concept of perfection. So, let’s start at the beginning.

According to the Christian holy book, the Bible, God made everything (universe) in six days. Why six days? Would a perfect god not have made everything in the blink of an eye? If we compare two gods: One makes the universe in six days and the other god makes the universe in a split second, who is the better god? Well, the one who created in the least time of course.

The Bible says that god rested on the seventh day. Now, people claim it was done that way so that humans could understand that the seventh day is a holy day and a day of resting. But does that really mean god rested? If god did not rest, then the Bible is lying because it clearly says that god rested on the seventh day. A better god would simply not require rest.

It is claimed that Adam and Eve lived in a perfect garden. No death, no maintenance required and not even clothes required. It sounds pretty perfect to me. But there was a tree planted by god. That tree had the potential to cause major disaster. This does not sound like a perfect idea to me. Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat the fruit from that tree. We all know the rest. Satan came, chatted to Eve and convinced her to eat from the forbidden tree. Adam followed suit and God promptly kicked them out of the perfect garden. This story is the so called “fall of man” or original sin. Yet, looking at the story as a whole we find some problems ascribing this god’s action in the light of perfection. A perfect garden with a temptation (evil) is not perfect. Since a perfect god is all-knowing, he would have known Adam and Eve would have eaten from the forbidden fruit, so why plant the damn tree there in the first place? Did he expect a better outcome? Would a perfect god not have been smart enough not to plant the tree causing the majority of humanity to be condemned to eternal torture? A perfect god would have avoided this pitfall that allegedly caused humanity all its suffering. In short, humanity’s suffering is the direct result of the actions of this god who planted the tree that made this big mess possible in the first place. A better god would have done better since the situation is clearly a bad one. Any situation ending up in the majority of people having to suffer is a bad one.

The Christians claim there must have been a choice for evil else there could be no free will. Free will is a requirement for perfection and it is claimed that Adam and Eve was made perfect. One has to wonder if their eyes were perfect too, way back then, able to see at least as many colours as the mantis shrimp. And yet, if they were perfect then why did they have the tendency to fall for temptation? The very first temptation that came along they fell for. Would a perfect god not have left out this obvious error in his design? It is like building an aeroplane and deliberately building in the possibility that the engines could overheat, causing the plane to crash. Such a plane would not be perfect, since a better property could be imagined, i.e, the property that it would have a fail safe not to overheat. A better design, in short and therefore the first design cannot be described as perfect.

One also has to wonder about the Noah’s flood story. God drowned all the people on Earth except for eight of them. It is claimed that all people on earth (except the Noah eight) was just too evil and the only resort was to murder them all. Are these the actions of a perfect god? Would it not have been better to do something else? Surely an all-powerful god could not have had as a last solution the murder of all humanity, except for a chosen eight people. Could he not have thundered a voice from heaven? The Christian god, it is claimed, interfered with a Pharaoh’s attitude. It is said that he hardened the heart of Pharaoh, leading to the deaths of all first-born Egyptian children (innocent). Could he not have used a reversed tactic and softened the hearts of the people in Noah’s time? And if he was really committed to killing them all, then why not just make them disappear into total non-existence, instead of having them (children too) suffer the horrible death of drowning? Could he not have given them a more merciful death, like teleported an overdose of sleeping tablets to the intestines of the ones he disliked? Why the whole drama of a flood? Could he not just have disintegrated the people and things he had an issue with, sterilising the earth from evil? Since I can conceive how a better god could have handled the whole flood drama in a better way, can the Christian god still be claimed to be perfect?

Now, people might say: “Whoa, wait a minute. Our idea of perfect is not God’s idea of perfect so we cannot judge what is perfect or not”. If so, then *you* cannot claim your god is perfect, since you invalidate your concept of perfect in one blow and therefore cannot lay claim to a concept of perfection at all. If only your god knows what is perfect, then you cannot claim to know he is perfect. You cannot claim we don’t know what perfect is and then claim you know god is perfect.

Looking at the whole story of Jesus having to suffer as a sacrifice for our sin I also have some questions. If god is all-mighty then why did he need a scapegoat in order to forgive humanity? Punishing the wrong person for a transgression committed by another is a really bad/poor law system. Why did he not just say “You are all forgiven and have a clean slate as result”? Would a god that simply forgives not be better than a god that needs to see something innocent suffer in order to forgive? It would by any reasonable standard. Punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty cannot be an attribute of a perfect god. We can even ask if the need to punish belongs to the concept of a perfect god at all. Would a better god not be free from a desire or even need to punish? Would a perfect god not be free of any needs, even self imposed ones? So why this need to see something suffer?

Now, Christians say that God is all-just and all-lawful, and therefore he requires that a wrong deed be punished. Sure, but then he is bound by this need, he cannot violate it, right? A perfect god would not be bound by anything and least of all self-imposed restrictions. His concept of law is also questionable. Even humans don’t allow an innocent person to be punished for the crimes of another. It is like crucifying the neighbour’s child if your own has been up to mischief. Or, more in line with the Biblical story, it is like crucifying your own child because the neighbours’s kids stole your apples. And somehow torture is also required by this just god, simple death is not enough. Jesus was tortured and if you don’t accept his torture as your own fault, well, then you will be tortured in fire for all eternity. This is not “just” in any reasonable sense of the word. A perfect god could do better, like simply forgive or simply rectify the situation once and for all so that no more people need to suffer or be tortured. My concept of a perfect god is that such a good and perfect god would have found a way to deal with the issues to everyone’s satisfaction. Or, even better: A perfect god would have planned well enough so that all this torture and suffering was never *required* in the first place.

Christians claim that only a small percentage of humanity will escape eternal damnation or in other words, eternal torture in hell. If Jesus was God’s plan to save humanity from hell and only a small percentage is saved, then one has to question whether the plan was really a good plan after all. A better plan would have saved more than a small percentage, lets say 50% at least. An even better plan would have saved more, say about 80%. Yet it is clear that a perfect plan would have saved 100%. Since 100% is not saved by god’s plan it leaves us to conclude that his plan was not perfect. A perfect god would have had a perfect plan for salvation. Actually, no. A perfect god would have planned well enough so that salvation was not required in the first place. The doctrine of salvation is after all very simple. God made man, and made him curious. God planted tree and said: “Man, do not eat from that tree”. Curious man ate from the tree, as was to be expected. Suffering and mayhem follows. God tries to rescue man by torturing his own son. Son dies. Son is alive again. Man is only rescued if man believes all of this. Why? Why does man have to believe that innocent Jesus was tortured by God in order to be saved? After all, Jesus was tortured as was required and so the deed is done. God’s requirement to see someone suffer was fulfilled. God’s torturing requirement is fulfilled. Why then another requirement, the requirement for man to believe all this *and* worship the god? Why not just do the rescue plan and leave it at that? It’s like handing out food to the dying hungry, but only if they worship you. Not a moral act at all.

Speaking about worship. Why would a perfect god require to be worshipped anyway? Would a god that does not require anything and worship in particular not be a better god? It would. Person A wants to torture everyone that does not worship person A. Person B does not require people to worship him and have no desire (or demand on himself) that people be tortured. Person B is the better person. Since I can conceive of a better god than the Christian god that requires worship and total submission, well, then my concept of god is closer to perfection and therefore the Christian concept cannot lay absolute claim to perfection anymore.

It is assumed by the Christians that their god is good. If there are two options to us: A god who deceives people and a god who has no deception. What option would be the better option and therefore closer to perfection? Yes, the honest god is the better god. Yet, the Bible says this about the Christian god:

1 Kings 22:23
Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.

2 Chronicles 18:22
Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets.

Ezekiel 14:9
And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.

2 Thessalonians 2:11
For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

A better god would not deceive people in a bad way or in any way for that matter. Plain and simple. I mean, it’s hard enough trying to figure out this life. A god that complicates things by deceiving us and causing us to harbour falsehoods is not a good thing, not a good thing at all. Even worse is the problem that people who get confused about what god wants might just end up in hell for it. God wants good works. No, god wants you to accept Jesus. No, god wants you to love other people above all. No, god wants you to love him above all. What if the whole Jesus thing was just a clever deception by the Old Testament god so that he could punish the people? After all, based on the above scripture you cannot claim that god would not deliberately deceive you! Maybe Christianity was the Judean god’s revenge on the Romans for conquering the Israelites?

Looking into detail at various parts of the Bible it is easy to see ways where the god could have been a better god. There are a multitude of examples to be found. Killing children with bears because they laughed at an old prophet is a bit extreme, even for an uptight god. Ordering the murder of woman, children, males and even animals is not the perfect way to deal with anything. In fact, humanity has recognised this for many years now and are trying their very best to stop these type of murderous practices. Are we perhaps more compassionate than the Christian god? Yes, we are. Who wishes guilty people to suffer an eternity? Not even the worst of human evils deserves an infinite punishment, because their crimes are simply finite. A perfect god would be better than us, would have more mercy and goodness, not less. We don’t torture people who steal and yet god is fine with torturing people simply because they do not worship him. You can say, yes, he is god, so he is allowed to. Why would you praise in your god that which you would hate in yourself? It simply shows that you are better than your concept of god.

There is therefore no good reason why any person would claim the Christian god is a perfect god. A perfect god would leave us in awe of his every action. It would leave us unable to wish for something better because he would simply be the best. But this doctrine of heaven for a few and eternal torture for the vast majority leaves us with the conclusion that it would be better (for humanity) if there was no god at all instead of the Christian concept of god actually existing. Since it is preferable to have no god than the Christian god, it is clear that having nothing is better than having the Christian god. A perfect god however would not leave us wishing that he did not exist. In all fairness, the things humanity would wish away are the more “evil” things in life. If a god is wished away we could perhaps wonder if there is any good in the concept to begin with.

One also cannot help but note that Christians claim their god is fair. Why do they claim this? It is based on the assumption that god is good and perfect and therefore perfectly fair. Any evidence to the contrary (as is found in the Bible) is argued away by saying we are not perfect and therefore cannot judge god’s actions. The assumption is that a perfect god would be perfectly fair. Since we established that the Christian concept of god is not perfect I am left to wonder why they assume he would be fair towards them, once they are dead. If there was a perfect god, and he was perfectly good, then one also has to wonder what his reaction would be to people who attributed evil deeds, such as killing an innocent (Jesus) to satisfy his own bloodlust, as good deeds to him? Would he perhaps be perfectly upset? A non-existing god is preferable to an upset god. Pascal’s wager is not the safe bet it seems at all. Can there be such a thing as perfect at all, let alone a perfect god?

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16 Responses to “A perfect God?”

  1. Weetie, Glo net said

    Haai Renier

    Ek verteenwoordig die Christene( Ek dink), kan ek maar my 2c werd kom gee hier?

    Ek wil nou weer gevloek of bestempel word as mal omdat ek ‘n gelowige is nie, ek sal graag wil debatteer op ‘n beskaafde wyse, is dit die tipe blog vir ouens soos ons? Ek sal ook nie disrespekvol wees nie.

    Koos

  2. Renier said

    Hallo Koos. Welkom.

    Sal dit in die haak met jou wees indien ons in Engels gesels, of verkies jy Afrikaans?

    Ek sal graag jou perspektief wil hoor. Gesels/debateer gerus.

  3. Renier said

    Weetie wrote: “Ek wil nou weer gevloek of bestempel word as mal omdat ek ‘n gelowige is nie”

    I think you might be referring to the Prometheus thread where the Shofarians popped up, spouting Bible verses as if it was magic words and a substitute for rational discourse. One cannot reason with such people because they are unreasonable. The only thing left to do is mock them. If you are willing to discuss these topics (I think you are) in a rational manner then we will both benefit from the discussions.

  4. Weetie, Glo net said

    No problems

    I’ll start tomorrow….

  5. Cachtice said

    Good morning Weetie,

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    Lastly, please note that we can not and should not be held responsible for how other people react, thus, if someone else swears we can politely ask them not to, but I for one will not enforce such a rule.

    I hope all is in order with the aforementioned.

    Cachtice

    PS. Please note that these are my views and opinions but not necessarily those of the other admins/editors.

  6. Weetie, Glo net said

    Hear you load and clear, but I’m sure that if we are mature and reaslly whanting to find answers, we will probably maintain gentlemanly conduct

  7. Weetie, Glo net said

    My spelling is terrible

  8. Weetie, Glo net said

    First and foremost, the bible and the books it comprises of was put together at the council of Nicea approx 300 AD and written over thousands of years and most of these stories and profecies were handed over by word of mouth as folk tales, the bible cannot be proven in any way, the bible is not perfect in any way, the god(s) in the bible are also not perfect in any way, it is not a history record or a scientific handbook, it is a spiritual book and gives guidance on various matters of life it self.

    The preconcieved ideas of good and evil was brought on for political reasons to ensure the survival of certain tribes and to preserve governments and monarches over the ages of the history of the so-called Israel state.

    To understand the holy bible one has to understand the origens and the reasons why it was written and preserved for so many years.

    However the bible and the gods are actually not to blame for any strife and inconvenience experienced by mankind, but most humans have them selfs to blame and of course natural disasters, the emphisis of blame needs to be shifted to people rather then on their gods, idols or avatars they worship, I’m sure by now we know that people wil justify anything they do wrong and for selfish reasons, as devine conformity, sothat people may accept their actions without questioning their motives, religeon only then serves as a tool or a drug to influence the masses into conformity.

    Why are we sceptical of the gods instead of people?

  9. Weetie, Glo net said

    “What is perfection? Perfection means it cannot be better, for if something could be better, then it would not be perfect. We can look at biological organisms and their functions. Human eyes for instance are not perfect. Why? Well, a squid’s eyes are closer to optimum. We only see three colours, namely red, green and blue. A mantis shrimp has the ability to see eight. Seeing eight colours is better then seeing only three colours. There is therefore no way we can claim that human eyes are perfect since we have examples of better eyes in other animals.”

    A question: Is it about perfection or functionality?

  10. Renier said

    Weetie wrote: “My spelling is terrible”

    Oh, I spell check and proof read multiple times and still often make a mess of my posts. My grammar is even worse. Not to worry, the self appointed spelling police will be sworn at 😉

    Weetie wrote: “First and foremost, the bible and the books it comprises of was put together at the council of Nicea approx 300 AD and written over thousands of years and most of these stories and profecies were handed over by word of mouth as folk tales, the bible cannot be proven in any way, the bible is not perfect in any way, the god(s) in the bible are also not perfect in any way, it is not a history record or a scientific handbook, it is a spiritual book and gives guidance on various matters of life it self.”

    Holy crap! It is very seldom that I encounter a Christian that has gained that level of understanding regarding the Bible and the origins. I have to ask you though. Is there such a thing as a spirit? What does the spirit/soul do that the brain does not do? The reason why I ask is that I think a spirit is assumed before the “spiritual” value of the Bible is mentioned. Look, there are some good morals and such in the Bible, not everything in it is bad or false. I just wonder what worth it has to any “spirit”. What is your view on this?

    Weetie wrote: “The preconcieved ideas of good and evil was brought on for political reasons to ensure the survival of certain tribes and to preserve governments and monarches over the ages of the history of the so-called Israel state.”

    I think the concepts of good and evil had it’s origin in human culture and social interaction long before civilisation started. But it is an interesting topic. My view is that good and evil are human constructs. The things that do us good and the things that do us harm. Yet, a lion that attacks a human cannot be called “evil”, it does not have “evil” intent. It might help to do a bit of research to see of Chimps show any signs of such a concept. But you are very right of course, humans have manipulated the ideas of what is evil and what is good for their own purpose. We see this even today, where infidels (non-believers) are seen as evil and true believers are seen as good in certain religions.

    Weetie wrote: “To understand the holy bible one has to understand the origens and the reasons why it was written and preserved for so many years.”

    Is this any different from other holy books and myths, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or Homer’s Iliad? Something that was written a long time ago does not mean it is right about spiritual things. Even when a book that has had huge cultural influence it does not mean that such a book is correct about anything. Have you heard of the concept of “memes” before?

    Weetie wrote : “However the bible and the gods are actually not to blame for any strife and inconvenience experienced by mankind, but most humans have them selfs to blame and of course natural disasters, the emphisis of blame needs to be shifted to people rather then on their gods, idols or avatars they worship, I’m sure by now we know that people wil justify anything they do wrong and for selfish reasons, as devine conformity, sothat people may accept their actions without questioning their motives, religeon only then serves as a tool or a drug to influence the masses into conformity.”

    This is well said, I agree with it. But I have to point out that some people do things *because* of what is written in their holy books. Sometimes they do the bad things and sometimes they do the good things. The holy books do have the influence to make a good person do bad things by convincing him it is the will of some deity. Not all people in the crusades were there for the land and the money, some really were killing the enemies of god. Suicide bombers today are classic examples. I am not saying *all* suicide bombers are doing it because of the religion, but at least some do.

    Another example of why holy books and religion can be dangerous is the cases where religious parents withhold medication from their children because they believe in the power of prayer. Every once in a while the child dies due to lank of medication, like insulin for instance. In these cases the blame can be laid at the door of the religion that preaches the power of prayer.

    Weetie wrote: “Why are we sceptical of the gods instead of people?”

    Is it not the same thing, after all?

    Weetie wrote: “A question: Is it about perfection or functionality?”

    Does it matter? The human eye is functional, yet not perfect. The light has to travel through a lot of blood vessels etc, making it functional but not optimal. It could have been a lot better, yet it is not. If something works, yet it could have worked better, then it is not perfect, only functional. A perfect god would not slack on the perfection, how could he, he is perfect, he can do no else but the perfect, else he would not be perfect.

  11. Weetie, Glo net said

    “Is there such a thing as a spirit? What does the spirit/soul do that the brain does not do? The reason why I ask is that I think a spirit is assumed before the “spiritual” value of the Bible is mentioned.”

    I believe so, but that’s my personal belief, I will not impose it on other people, the same “spirit” that Einstein was talking about when he was referring to energy, now evolution and any prosess for that matter simply cannot happen without energy, in saying that, a believe humans to be more spiritual, as we do not have defence mechanisms if you like, like a dog for instance, canine teeth, claws, fur etc. If humans didn’t have their spiritual intellect we will not survive a month on earth, we are just too refined.

    “My view is that good and evil are human constructs. The things that do us good and the things that do us harm. Yet, a lion that attacks a human cannot be called “evil”, it does not have “evil” intent. It might help to do a bit of research to see of Chimps show any signs of such a concept. But you are very right of course, humans have manipulated the ideas of what is evil and what is good for their own purpose. We see this even today, where infidels (non-believers) are seen as evil and true believers are seen as good in certain religions.”

    I don’t call it Good and evil, I call it wanted and unwanted.

    Now our defence mechanism is fear, fear has two reactions: fight or flight, if you think of every crime in the world known to mankind, it will always stem from fear, be it lust, vanity, murder etc. Fear is always the drive behind wrong doing, that’s why I believe that jail sentences doesn’t fix or reabilitate criminals.

    “Is this any different from other holy books and myths, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or Homer’s Iliad? Something that was written a long time ago does not mean it is right about spiritual things. Even when a book that has had huge cultural influence it does not mean that such a book is correct about anything. Have you heard of the concept of “memes” before?”

    …I like the bible best

    “Weetie wrote: “Why are we sceptical of the gods instead of people?”

    Is it not the same thing, after all?”

    Not for me really..

    “Does it matter? The human eye is functional, yet not perfect. The light has to travel through a lot of blood vessels etc, making it functional but not optimal. It could have been a lot better, yet it is not. If something works, yet it could have worked better, then it is not perfect, only functional. A perfect god would not slack on the perfection, how could he, he is perfect, he can do no else but the perfect, else he would not be perfect.”

    I think it’s perfect in terms of fuctionality, what would we do with more, yet I wonder sometimes what the capabilities of our intellect really is? have we stagnated or is it still untapped?

    By the way, I really enjoy your blog

  12. Writers Block Star said

    There are a couple of things at play here.

    If you consider humans as imperfect, their perspective has to be imperfect too. In which case, their writings regarding God have to be imperfect as well. Our limited understanding can bring about an implication of imperfection in its expression, but that doesn’t mean that God is imperfect, just that we lack the means to articulate that imperfection.

    The problem with most religions in the first place is that they are a fixed idea (dogma/doctrine) on a supposedly infinite subject (God). So I don’t see religious writings as a legitimate means for pointing out God’s imperfection when the writings are imperfect themselves. Just look at the gospels, one flaw is the story of the Centurion. In one gospel Jesus meets the Centurion in person, in another the Centurion sends representatives.

    So the bible is flawed source material. Not entirely without worth, but definitely flawed.

    Also, the inherent contradiction of a perfect God being able to create imperfection is not a conundrum that is easily satisfied. If everything in the universe is perfect you can poke holes in God by saying God is not all-mighty because God can’t create imperfection (the old can God make a rock so big argument) and if you have an imperfect universe then the argument becomes why didn’t God make the universe perfect if God could see what was going to happen.

    But we have a basic premise of free will in many religions and as a practical observance by the non-religious. The underpinning is that you can’t have love without free will. Love without free will is slavery or servitude, which cannot be love by definition.

    So, if free will is free, then it can be free of God’s all knowing foresight by God’s own free will.

    Perhaps you and I place a different premium on love, but as the Christian faith (at its best) articulates that God is love, then that is the highest state of perfection, but which you can’t have without free will. Free will means God has to be hands off, in which case we are free to be imperfect.

    I don’t see how that necessarily shows God as being imperfect though.

  13. Renier said

    Weetie wrote, concerning spirit: ” I believe so, but that’s my personal belief, I will not impose it on other people, the same “spirit” that Einstein was talking about when he was referring to energy, now evolution and any prosess for that matter simply cannot happen without energy, in saying that, a believe humans to be more spiritual, as we do not have defence mechanisms if you like, like a dog for instance, canine teeth, claws, fur etc. If humans didn’t have their spiritual intellect we will not survive a month on earth, we are just too refined.”

    I should point out that Einstein did not believe in a personal god. He was closest to deist and almost atheist in his views. Yet I need to ask. If you talk about energy, then how do you see “spirit” in it? I see only natural forces, nothing supernatural. To me, energy and the various forces between different types of energy is all that exists. The Big Bang after all was nothing but energy. Now, you say you believe humans to be more spiritual than other animals. This is true of course in the sense that animals don’t have weird spiritual rituals. But one has to wonder if you are not simply calling our intellect and more complex though processes “spirit”? What is this spirit you are talking about? Are you not just naming natural things as “spirit”? Why do you call our intellect “spiritual”? Our brain is a physical organ that produces thoughts, imagination, understanding etc. How does “spirit” fit into this? Is “spirit” something apart from our brain and its various outputs?

    Weetie wrote: “Now our defence mechanism is fear, fear has two reactions: fight or flight, if you think of every crime in the world known to mankind, it will always stem from fear, be it lust, vanity, murder etc. Fear is always the drive behind wrong doing, that’s why I believe that jail sentences doesn’t fix or reabilitate criminals.”

    I disagree with this. First off, lust is not a fear, it is a desire that has biological process behind it. Greed is not fear. Vanity is not fear. We are human and as such the result of various biological processes that interacts with one another with various chemicals (like hormones) etc. Testosterone makes men more aggressive. There are biological reasons (and nurture reasons) why people act the way they do.

    Weetie wrote: “…I like the bible best”

    The Elder Edda is better :-p

    Weetie wrote: “Not for me really..”

    Would there be a god or even the concept of god if there were no humans?

    Weetie wrote: “I think it’s perfect in terms of fuctionality, what would we do with more, yet I wonder sometimes what the capabilities of our intellect really is? have we stagnated or is it still untapped?”

    Agreed the human eye works (most of the time). Sometimes people become colour blind or various other malfunctions can occur. But I have a suspicion that if our maximum range of sight was only 1km, then you would still be making the argument that the human eye is good enough. As for the capabilities of our intellect, I really don’t know. We have to work together collectively as we do with science in order to progress. I suppose it might really depend on the memes that we host to tap or suppress our capabilities as a species. It is fascinating to look at feral children, children that grew up in the wild etc. They display animal behaviour and in some cases never learn to talk etc. It is clear that we learn most of the things that make us human, like speech, social behaviour and perhaps even our “intelligence” to a certain extent.

    Weetie wrote: “By the way, I really enjoy your blog”

    Thanks man. Good to have you here for a decent chat.

  14. Renier said

    Writers Block Star, welcome dude. Thanks for the input.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “If you consider humans as imperfect, their perspective has to be imperfect too. In which case, their writings regarding God have to be imperfect as well. Our limited understanding can bring about an implication of imperfection in its expression, but that doesn’t mean that God is imperfect, just that we lack the means to articulate that imperfection.”

    And in the same breath we would not be able to claim to know what is perfect and what not, being hampered by our own imperfection we cannot see perfection? We have to discuss this in human terms (imperfect?) since we are after all human. That is why I mentioned this part: “Now, people might say: “Whoa, wait a minute. Our idea of perfect is not God’s idea of perfect so we cannot judge what is perfect or not”. If so, then *you* cannot claim your god is perfect, since you invalidate your concept of perfect in one blow and therefore cannot lay claim to a concept of perfection at all. If only your god knows what is perfect, then you cannot claim to know he is perfect. You cannot claim we don’t know what perfect is and then claim you know god is perfect.”

    Writers Block Star wrote: “The problem with most religions in the first place is that they are a fixed idea (dogma/doctrine) on a supposedly infinite subject (God). So I don’t see religious writings as a legitimate means for pointing out God’s imperfection when the writings are imperfect themselves.”

    I am not making the claims that the bible is perfect, fundamentalist Christians do. If you deny the Bible as reliable source on matters relating to god then the claims of God’s perfection is also no longer valid. And that leaves us without this discussion. A lot of the things in this post are “for argument’s sake”. After all, I don’t even believe in a god.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “Just look at the gospels, one flaw is the story of the Centurion. In one gospel Jesus meets the Centurion in person, in another the Centurion sends representatives.”

    Agreed, as well as many other contradictions and downright preposterous claims. I see the Bible as just another mythology book. But my whole point of this blog entry was to look at the claims made by religious people that god is perfect and that the Bible is a source of knowledge concerning god. I don’t think there are any gods, never mind perfect ones.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “So the bible is flawed source material. Not entirely without worth, but definitely flawed.”

    Its worth is about the same as any other old texts.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “Also, the inherent contradiction of a perfect God being able to create imperfection is not a conundrum that is easily satisfied.”

    Yes, it is a tricky one that I thought about too. If a god is perfect, he is all-mighty by definition. If he is all-mighty, he can do anything. Can he be imperfect? If not, then he is not all-mighty and therefore not perfect. Tricky tricky.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “But we have a basic premise of free will in many religions and as a practical observance by the non-religious. The underpinning is that you can’t have love without free will. Love without free will is slavery or servitude, which cannot be love by definition.”

    Religions and even many other non-religious people have the assumption of free will. The fact that we are able to see alternatives and choose between them does no mean we have free will. Our choices are determined by factors. These factors include nurture (upbringing, experience, social interaction, culture etc) and nature (DNA based, hormone levels, determined interaction of chemicals in the brain etc). To have free will, one would have to be able to make a choice without these things/factors that influence the choice.

    Classic example is the hormone oxytocin. It plays a major role in human bonding and motherly love for instance. If oxytocin levels are too low, then woman reject their children and fail to bond with them. No free will or any choice for that matter even if they realise the options. There are hormones (vasopressin I think) that regulates how faithful we are towards our mates etc. If a male has low levels of this hormone then the chances are big that he will be unfaithful. When all these things that influence us are taken into consideration then I cannot help but conclude that free will is merely an illusion.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “Perhaps you and I place a different premium on love, but as the Christian faith (at its best) articulates that God is love, then that is the highest state of perfection, but which you can’t have without free will. Free will means God has to be hands off, in which case we are free to be imperfect.”

    Problem is that love is just chemical reactions with various biological structures in our bodies. We can even manipulate love by manipulating the chemicals and hormones that drive it, like the oxytocin example I mention above. To therefore say that god is love is saying god is the interaction between various chemicals and a biological structure. It is perhaps even a bit more complex than that but I must point out that we do not observe any acts of love outside of biological beings, such as humans and even animals. To claim a god is love is like claiming a rock is love, or the wind is love, or the universe is love. It is interesting as far as humans and their concepts of gods go that gods always have functions that we only observe in other biological creatures, such as ourselves. Anger, love, hatred, jealousy, remorse and intent as well as all the common sense that biological creatures have like sight, touch, hearing and smell. A human being cannot think without a brain yet the gods always think but do not have a brain. And somehow this does not bother people.

    Writers Block Star wrote: “I don’t see how that necessarily shows God as being imperfect though.”

    Not if you reason that imperfection might have been a willed act of perfection. And as you pointed out, is perfection still perfect if imperfection can come from it? But as I pointed out, would a perfect god not have been able to give free will without designing imperfection into it?

  15. Cachtice said

    Sorry for my late post, I was under the impression I did send it. 🙂

    Concerning Weetie’s post on 18 December:

    You claim that humans do not have “defence mechanisms” such as other animals, for instance as dogs have. Furthermore, you claim that we would not be able to survive without an apparent “spiritual intellect” on earth.

    Do you have any proof of these claims? I cannot help but think you are cherry picking your examples, especially concerning humans not having defence mechanisms.

    Sure, we do not have canines (which are used for tearing tough meat mostly), but this does not mean we can’t use our mouth to bite in defence. We do not have claws as you stated, but how does this stop us from defending ourselves with our legs and arms? Your claim (in my head at least) would be just as affective in claiming that a dolphin should not be able to survive, because it has no apparent defence mechanism for survival, yet they survive. Does this imply they also possess a spiritual intellect?

    Perhaps it would be best if I first asked you to define spiritual intellect for me as you see it, then I would like you to provide me with an example where it helped a human being to survive, as well as an example of where it did not work/was not present and thus caused the death of a human being.

    You also claim that we use fear as a defence mechanism, but I can’t help to think that this is just a word game, where we pick a favourable word for our cause/idea and redefine everything to fit into our predefined picture. To me fear is an emotional response to external stimuli, combined with internal experience and stimuli, thus it can be that something that is fearful to one person is not fearful to another.

    Interesting that you think that jail sentences and so forth will not solve criminal behaviour. It’s always pertinent to ask, if one denies the efficacy of a certain established system/practice such as sentences for crimes, as determined by a country’s prevailing legal system, what would you then suggest we use to replace/improve the system? Its one thing to claim a system is bad, but it’s quite another to give an improved or replacement system.
    Why exactly do you like the bible the best? Have you read any of the other mythological sagas, if so, which ones?

    You claim the eye is perfect in its functionality, yet there are people that cannot read without aid and cannot see far without aid. How exactly is this functional?

    It’s quite interesting that you bring up the old’ “untapped intellect”-theory. I assume it’s along the same lines of the old myth that we only use about a pinkie-worth (or 10%) of our brain’s potential at any given time?

    You might wish to read this excellent snopes.com article concerning the brain myth:
    http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp

    Concerning Writers Block Star’s post of 18 December:

    I always like to point out that any argument about god and his perfection is generally a variation of one of St Thomas Aquinas’ five proofs for the existence of god, namely the proof for the existence of god by degrees of perfection. This proof dictated that for us to know any intermediate degree of something we must firstly know the perfect condition/degree of that something. An example along this line of thought would be that we must be aware of something that is perfectly warm, to use as a milestone, to judge how close to the perfect warmth the object we are trying to determine the warmth of is.

    This is easily refuted in that it claims that if god provides these perfect degrees it would necessitate that he is equally perfectly warm and cold at the same moment, this is obviously not an acceptable premise. It would also necessitate that if we were to judge whether something exists we’d use god’s “perfect” existence as milestone, and inversely we’d have to use god’s “perfect” non-existence as a milestone for the non-existence of something. My head goes like this: +1 (warmth) -1 (cold) = 0 – No use for the god since he’d cancel himself out by necessity. +1 (existence) -1 (non-existence) = 0 – Same story as aforementioned.

    IMO any argument that makes claims of absolute truths or perfections is generally open to ridicule and not scientifically verifiable, because such an argument already runs towards the unfalsifiable-camp.

    I assume you are positive for the existence of free will? Can you please tell me how you define free will and provide me with a suitable example of how free will is enacted?

    I am of the opinion that love and affection is mostly a biological concept. (see articles concerning studies on Oxytocin and Vasopressin)

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