Thirty proofs that god exists

Before Ark asks, no I don’t follow these people.

Assuming for a split second that the god of the believer is an omni god,

2. The Teleological Argument (Design). The obvious design (complexity) of the world “proves” the existence of a “Designer.” Science has estimated that the odds that intelligent life exists on the Earth as the result of non-directed processes to be around: One in 102,000,000,000 [Cited in Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, 2004, p. 179]

cannot hold because design involves elimination. The believer has claimed god spoke the world into existence. To believe in design would entail a contradiction ab initio.

This second proof is contradicted by our lived experiences

3. The Moral Argument. The existence of a universal morality among humans “proves” the existence of a universal “Lawgiver.” If the evolutionary worldview were true, we would be advanced animals acting on chemical impulses. Absolute moral standards would not exist. But they do exist!

This is special pleading

4. The cosmological argument. The principle of cause and effect “proves” the existence of an “uncaused Cause.”

This is just absurd

6. The Great Pyramid

This was covered on Nate’s blog a while back

9. The Shroud of Turin

It appears god, a loving all powerful god predicted the WTC bombing but did nothing to avert it.

10. America 9/11 terrorist attack predicted. The link between the 9/11 attack in America, and the attack on ancient Israel (Isaiah 9:10), is uncanny.

Nan, I don’t know how you will feel about this proof.

16. Donald Trump’s election and 7s. God’s hand was clearly present in Trump’s election. For example, he was 70 years, 7 months and 7 days old on his first full day as president of the United States, and he defeated Hillary Clinton by 77 electoral votes…etc.

John Z should tell us if any of the end time prophecies have been fulfilled

22. End-time prophecies fulfilled. Bible prophecy is a fantastic proof for God’s existence

For these and other jokes, go here

What Does It Mean to Have Free Will?

Freedom is a mystery ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Is the title of a post by Joseph Laporte.

Since the post by Joseph is quite long, I will only attempt to respond to the first section. the second section where he tries to reconcile Scotus and Aquinas, I will leave to theologians, but I encourage you to read it if you have time. But before I do that, I would want to define freedom of will as other philosophers have done.

While not defining freewill, Sam Harris in his book, Freewill, writes

Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have.

and for the moment we will leave it at that.

In a prize winning essay on Freewill, Schopenhauer defines freedom as

simply the absence of everything that impedes or obstructs

He goes further to note there are three distinct notions of freedom, viz;

  1. physical freedom- which is the absence of material obstacles of any kind. In this physical meaning, animals or humans are free when no physical, material obstacle impedes their actions
  2. intellectual freedom
  3. moral freedom- is simply whether we act out of necessity

Schopenhauer in his exposition on freedom, argues further that

a free will would be one that was determined by nothing at all.

Leaving Schopenhauer momentarily, I turn to Chapman Cohen, who says of the freewill believer, that they hold

intentional action is the unconditioned expression of absolutely free beings, and is what it is because of the selective action of an undetermined will.

You will allow two more instances to refer to Schopenhauer and D’Holdbach before we look at the post by Joseph. D’Holdbach writes

Man’s life is a line that nature commands him to describe upon the surface of the earth, without his ever being able to swerve from it, even for an instant. He is born without his own consent; his organization does in nowise depend upon himself; his ideas come to him involuntarily; his habits are in the power of those who cause him to contract them; he is unceasingly modified by causes, whether visible or concealed, over which he has no control, which necessarily regulate his mode of existence, give the hue to his way of thinking, and determine his manner of acting. He is good or bad, happy or miserable, wise or foolish, reasonable or irrational, without his will being for any thing in these various states.”

while Schopenhauer in almost the same line of thinking, writes

[A]s little as a ball on a billiard table can move before receiving an impact, so little can a man get up from his chair before being drawn or driven by a motive. But then his getting up is as necessary and inevitable as the rolling of a ball after the impact. And to expect that anyone will do something to which absolutely no interest impels them is the same as to expect that a piece of wood shall move toward me without being pulled by a string.

I have gone to great length in defining what other philosophers who have written about freewill have written to help give the issue some clarity. We can now look at the work by Joseph.

He, while referring to tradition by St. Augustine, says to act freely is to act without constraints. He says, per Augustine,

the mark of freedom is to be able to bring about an effect as an “uncaused cause.”

The question we must ask at this point is whether such is possible? Do you know of a scenario in your life or of your neighbour’s life when an act of will was without cause? That there was no desire, no motive? You acted without cause or does ignorance of proximate cause translate to no cause?

The same originalist position, Joseph tells us, is shared by Dons Scotus, who argued

we are “total cause” of what we freely will.

To this statement of Dons Scotus, I, following Schopenhauer must ask, can we will what we will?

The other school of thought is represented by Thomas Aquinas who Joseph tells us argued that you choose to act but god causes you to make that choice. The school that has developed for an interpretation of this line of thought has become known us

“freedom-for-excellence” — freedom understood as acting virtuously for true human happiness.

I find it quite illogical, as Joseph writes about Aquinas, that

 God causes me to choose whatever I choose to do, but I still do what I do freely.

In which universe would one call this freedom? Introducing god to the equation does not make it any easier. How does one know their choice is the action of a god? To be truly free, as the volitionist would have us believe, we would have to be the causa sui of our actions.

How does acting virtuously for true human happiness amount to having free will as Joseph would want us believe when he writes

Here behavioral scientists could appeal to freedom-for-excellence as an example of one genuine kind of freedom that seems compatible with my being caused to act as I do

Keep in mind freedom for excellence is where god does the choosing and you do the acting. In this causal chain, whatever the outcome, one must be a contortionist to see this as a case of freedom.

I am not sure, when Joseph writes that

Freedom-for-excellence is a genuine kind of freedom; it is a kind of freedom worth having

if he is still talking about freewill or, he, like compatibilists Marvin and Dennett, is arguing for a freedom worth having. Freedom worth having brings us no closer to an understanding of freewill. It tells us nothing of what freewill is.

I don’t see how Joseph, can still maintain he is talking about freewill when he believes

 [P]inckaers says we act freely when we act virtuously to achieve excellence, even though we are forced to conform to moral laws. These laws enhance freedom, rather than spoiling it, because by conforming our behavior to them we are able to achieve excellence, in the same way that by conforming our behavior to grammar rules we are able to achieve linguistic excellence.

For, by accepting the effect of laws on our actions or as would say, manifestations of the will, he is moving over to the determinists’ position. In this case, therefore, there is a contradiction in his position that he should address. If we are, as he argued earlier, originalists, then the action of laws are irrelevant. On the other hand, if there are laws or even a god influence in our actions, the argument for uncaused cause is no longer be sustainable.

It is quite evident in Joseph’s and the church fathers’ insistence on freewill comes from this theological problem, that

 if God is the cause of my actions, and if I choose to do evil, then it appears that God is the cause of my evil actions. How, then, could anyone be allowed to suffer punishment, much less eternal punishment? We’re just victims of circumstances and events outside our control.

As I said at the beginning, I see no need in trying to respond to his attempts at reconciling Dons Scotus and Aquinas for both positions do little to advance the cause of free will. I contend further that Joseph has not only failed to tell us what freewill is, but has also failed to demonstrate that it is possible. He has instead tried to reconcile the theological problem stated above which it is my contention he cannot get away from without altering the meaning of words, that is, talking gibberish.

If you have read this post up to this point, know you could not have acted otherwise than you did.

on relationship between the sexes

In the movie take the lead, Antonio Banderas tells the students that through dance, they will learn to respect and trust each other. He tells them, ballroom dance requires trust and respect. Now, people, you have often heard it said the African is in rhythm, they didn’t mean me, for I can’t dance to save my neighbour’s life.

In stories I have read about my ancestors, young people went around naked. Adults had loin clothes. I can understand people in colder climes requiring full body cover. This could apply to those in the desert too.

If you are still wondering where I am going with this, worry no more. This discussion and the #MeToo movement has got me thinking about how we are socialized on matters sexual relationships and nudity. Why do we have a lot of predation at work places and here include those of clergy from different faiths abusing young ones?

What is the way forward? In the post on nudity, Rautakky and Bob argue the issue with changing rooms is cultural relic that ought to go.

My second question is, has it historically been this way? That is, have we always been prudish about nudity and changing rooms? And how do we improve relationships between the sexes so we don’t have a scenario like that of Nassar ?

In the face of death

These two questions intrigued me. What would be your course of action in each and why?

In the Face of Death: Cannibalism at Sea

Scenario 1: The Mignonette Case

In May 1884, the British yacht Mignonette set sail for Sydney, Australia with four crew on board. On July 5, disaster

struck, the yacht was lost, and the crew were forced to take to a small lifeboat. For eighteen days, they drifted around the ocean more than 1000 miles from land. By this point, things were desperate: they had been without food for seven days and water for five. All crew members were in a bad way, but worst off was 17 year old cabin boy, Richard Parker. He was barely conscious, if indeed he was conscious at all.

At this point, the captain of the ship, Tom Dudley, suggested they ought to draw lots to select one of them to be killed, thereby giving the others a chance of survival. The thought was they could use the body of the dead person as a source of food and liquid. This idea was in the first instance rejected by one of the crew members, Edmund Brooks, but Dudley didn’t let the issue drop, and later the same day discussed the matter with Edwin Stephens, the fourth member of the crew. He pointed out that it was overwhelmingly likely that Richard Parker, the cabin boy, was going to die whatever happened, but if they killed him – which was the best way of ensuring his blood would be in a fit state to drink – there was a chance that he and Stephens would see their wives and families again.

The following day, with no prospect of rescue, Dudley, with the assent of Stephens, killed the boy. The three remaining crew members then fed on his body, enabling them to survive long enough to be rescued on July 29th. Dudley later described the scene as follows: “I can assure you I shall never forget the sight of my two unfortunate companions over that ghastly meal we all was like mad wolfs who should get the most and for men fathers of children to commit such a deed we could not have our right reason.”

The facts in this case are well-established. Richard Parker was killed by Tom Dudley, with the consent of Edwin Stephens, because they genuinely believed there was no immediate prospect of rescue, that Parker would likely die regardless of what happened, and that all of them would die if he was not sacrificed.

The question is were they morally justified in killing him?


Second scenario

In the Face of Death: I Killed All the Children

Scenario 2: The Warsaw Ghetto Doctor

In the late summer of 1942, 22 year old Adina Blady Szwajger was working as a doctor at Warsaw’s Children’s Hospital. It was no ordinary summer, though. Some 18 mnonths earlier, the Nazi occupiers of Poland had shut the gates on Warsaw’s Jewish population creating what is now known as the Warsaw ghetto. As a result, Szwajger had for at least a year worked in conditions of almost unimaginable suffering as the hospital filled with children dying of starvation and tuberculosis. In her memoir, she talks of “famished skeletons” lapping up the slops of a spilled soup pot from the floor; and of the attempt to live a “principled life” in circumstances of the utmost moral depravity.

But in August 1942, it became impossible to go on. The Germans had begun to round up the Jewish population, loading them into cattle trucks and shipping them off to the death camps, where their fate was to meet a grisly end. By this point, the hospital was no longer functioning as a hospital – there were “no children’s wards, just the sick, the wounded and the dying everywhere.”

The moment which came to define Szwajger’s life arrived when the Nazis turned up at the hospital, and began the brutal process of shutting it down. A nurse begged Szwajger to end her elderly mother’s life: “Doctor…I can’t do it. I beg you, please. I don’t want them to shoot her in bed, and she can’t walk.” Dr. Szwajger administered morphine, first attending to “families of staff.” Then she went to the ward which housed the smallest infants, and one by one gave each child a lethal dose. “Just as, during those two years of real work in the hospital, I had bent down over the little beds, so now I poured this last medicine into those tiny mouths…And downstairs, there was screaming because the…Germans were already there, taking the sick from the wards to the cattle trucks.” She told the older children “that this medicine was going to make their pain disappear…So they lay down and after a few minutes – I don’t know how many – but the next time I went into that room, they were asleep.”

Adina Szwajger took the lives of her young patients as the final act of what she saw as her duty of care, in order to spare them ignominious and certain death at the hands of the Nazis. But, of course, the infants and children did not and could not have consented. The issue, then, is whether she did the right thing. Was she morally justified in taking the lives of her patients in order to save them from their fate at the hands of the Nazis?