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Moshe Callen
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Once again the trope is being trotted out in a couple of RSP threads that if G-d exists as described in the Christian Bible, He would be evil. So far this merits a yawn from me but as a Jew I tend to get a good bit of fall out from this one too. So I'm going to give my take on it FWIW. I don't see it convincing the knee-jerk atheists but perhaps a good conversation could come out of it whether anyone changes their mind about anything.

Here are some basic principles for understanding the world from a traditional Jewish perspective:

1. There is a principle in Torah "'Ain 'od milvadp". Stated without explanation it says literally that "Nothing else exists apa1rt from G-d Himself." The concept behind it is difficult to explain but I'll do my best.

G-d is Immutable, Unchanging. He has to be because time is a creation, part of the world. From G-d's perspective, this real physical world is something He imagines. WE are characters in that imagined world. regardless of the world exists or does not, G-d is unchanged.

2. G-d Created the world in His mind to have it function first and foremost. As much as G-d has compassion on each and every portion of the world, having a functioning world comes first and foremost. It is why when G-d is described in Jewish philosophical literature as questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world, the words ascribed to G-d almost always begin, "Do you want me to unmake the world?"

3. G-d is One. There cannot be more or less of G-d. He cannot be more or less present.

One should notice that the Torah was given to the Jewish people as a nation. The seven Noachide laws govern what Jews should expect from non-Jewish nations. Nations serve a role in the functioning of the world and people serve a role in the functioning of their society.

Yet G-d does care about the state of individuals, including individual paramecia and weeds.Ultimately though each one is balanced against the other within the context of maintaining a functioning world.

Questions like "Is G-d moral or benevolent?" are at best ill defined and highly superficial.
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Re: "Ugh, not that shtick again.…" or atheist troeps about G-d that unconsciously reject genuine monotheism
whac3 wrote:
2. G-d Created the world in His mind to have it function first and foremost. As much as G-d has compassion on each and every portion of the world, having a functioning world comes first and foremost. It is why when G-d is described in Jewish philosophical literature as questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world, the words ascribed to G-d almost always begin, "Do you want me to unmake the world?"

I don't understand that. "Hey, Moshe, it seems like it would be better if you didn't misspell 'tropes' in the subject." "Do you want me to delete the thread?"
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kuhrusty wrote:
whac3 wrote:
2. G-d Created the world in His mind to have it function first and foremost. As much as G-d has compassion on each and every portion of the world, having a functioning world comes first and foremost. It is why when G-d is described in Jewish philosophical literature as questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world, the words ascribed to G-d almost always begin, "Do you want me to unmake the world?"

I don't understand that. "Hey, Moshe, it seems like it would be better if you didn't misspell 'tropes' in the subject." "Do you want me to delete the thread?"

The analogy would be more to, "Moshe, I just want something talking about the Christian concept of a deity in terms of Western philosophy."
 
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Sorry but thats your view (in the sense of the Jewish) faith - It may or may not be more sophisticated and internally consistant than the christian faith, I can't argue those points with you I'm not qualified I don't know your faith.

It however suffers from the same fundamental flaw as all religion. You are starting from the premise yours is the one true faith and is therefore correct. That is the nature of faith based religions.

You may indeed be correct but there is no way of proving \disproving it in this life, this world - here we are concerned that elements of a faith claim here is literally a document authored by an omnicenst all knowing being that claims this details what actions it took and what it wants.

Why shouldn't we hold it accountable and find fault if we are so inclined?

If I understand what you have said correctly - it seems that the jewish faith\law is a living negoiated contract people your deity and the people. So if you dont like the terms you can ask G_D to change them. Of course you have to take it on faith he ever actually answers.
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growlley wrote:
Sorry but thats your view (in the sense of the Jewish) faith - It may or may not be more sophisticated and internally consistant than the christian faith, I can't argue those points with you I'm not qualified I don't know your faith.

It however suffers from the same fundamental flaw as all religion. You are starting from the premise yours is the one true faith and is therefore correct. That is the nature of faith based religions.

That's your assumption. When did I state any such thing?
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You may indeed be correct but there is no way of proving \disproving it in this life, this world - here we are concerned that elements of a faith claim here is literally a document authored by an omnicenst all knowing being that claims this details what actions it took and what it wants.

The author of the Torah was a human being.
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Why shouldn't we hold it accountable and find fault if we are so inclined?

Well, for one, from G-d's perspective, you're nothing but a figment of His imagination. You're not real except insofar as G-d makes you real. It's like asking if J. K. Rowling is evil because of all the people who died at the hands of Voldemort.
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If I understand what you have said correctly - it seems that the jewish faith\law is a living negoiated contract people your deity and the people. So if you dont like the terms you can ask G_D to change them

It's a perpetual contract.
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and so we come full circle - I undertsand that your are detailing the point of view your faith holds but from my point of view Your Faithful invented both your concept of God and the contract. He\she\it is a figament of your collective imagination.

Thats why the belief you are correct is implicit within the holding the faith.

Sorry I wasnt clear I was refering to the bible - not the Torah.
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Hey Moshe,
I don't usually participate in 'God is evil' discussions because they are pretty barren. In principle any charge against God in Christian mythology can (and is) meet with mysticism and faith.
'Ineffable plan / it all gets sorted out in the afterlife.'

I do want to ask you about your position here though - particularly 'do you want me to unmade the world?' bit.
It seems to imply that the world as-is is the *only possible* world - which is certainly consistent with it being a dream/mental statr of the only possible God.

Saying it is so, however, denies much of the agency to the God. They remain a 'creator' in a sense in which I am a creator of my head (it certainly grew out of my shoulders and neck and is part of me) but he can not change it any more then I can change some feature of my physiognomy that happens to be ugly/undesirable (do you want me to cut off my head?).

From here one can go two ways.
Either you say that given there is only one possible head/world, there is no sense in labeling it pretty/ugly/good/evil - it simply is.

Alternatively you go back to giving God agency but reserve the notion that some potential improvements to the world that occur as obvious to us moral agents living in the world (elimination of childhood cancer for example) are in fact not so, for the reasons that we can not concieve - which returns us to the ineffable plan argument.
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it could be for G_D all worlds are possible but once the world is given a 'shape' or an 'arbituary' set of rules for the inhabitants of that world the rules have to be fixed else it wouldn't be the same world.

If some one asked G_D to take away oxygen and he obliged them it would certainly change this world.
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The idea is that G-d is trying to give over agency of Creation to people within Creation.
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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growlley wrote:
it could be for G_D all worlds are possible but once the world is given a 'shape' or an 'arbituary' set of rules for the inhabitants of that world the rules have to be fixed else it wouldn't be the same world.

If some one asked G_D to take away oxygen and he obliged them it would certainly change this world.

This is basically my understanding.
 
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whac3 wrote:

Well, for one, from G-d's perspective, you're nothing but a figment of His imagination. You're not real except insofar as G-d makes you real. It's like asking if J. K. Rowling is evil because of all the people who died at the hands of Voldemort.


That is a terrible argument - human beings have self awareness and agency that makes them moral agents in a way that literary characters do not. Even if our meta-state *is* in some sense a dream of a God that does not change our moral worth.
In other words - if Rowling made her stories with characters who have actusl hopes, dreams etc... and then killed them for the sake of the story - then yes, she would be evil - even if 'reality' of those characters was in some sense contingent on her.

Denying the moral worth of people on the basis of their metaphysical status would is some sense make God worse then evil - it would make him essentially into something out of Lovecraft's universe.

Not to mention that if life is a tale in God's mind - it is a tale 'told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.
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growlley wrote:
it could be for G_D all worlds are possible but once the world is given a 'shape' or an 'arbituary' set of rules for the inhabitants of that world the rules have to be fixed else it wouldn't be the same world.

If some one asked G_D to take away oxygen and he obliged them it would certainly change this world.


That is an argument over efficacy of prayer - it says nothing about why the world is the way it is.
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I think you missed my point , the point wasn't the prayer itself but GOD could take away the oxygen or rewrite the laws of time\space , physics any time he chose and still allow us to live \ breath etc but it wouldn't be this world , with this set of rules.

A religous person could argue the multiverse theory is God dreaming every single possible world \outcome set of rules simultaneously . After all he is supposed to be G_D.
 
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whac3 wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
whac3 wrote:
It is why when G-d is described in Jewish philosophical literature as questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world, the words ascribed to G-d almost always begin, "Do you want me to unmake the world?"

I don't understand that. "Hey, Moshe, it seems like it would be better if you didn't misspell 'tropes' in the subject." "Do you want me to delete the thread?"

The analogy would be more to, "Moshe, I just want something talking about the Christian concept of a deity in terms of Western philosophy."

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world," because I'm imagining something relatively minor like "how come God made a fish that burrows into my urethra" or "of all the places for that piano to land, how come God let it land on Mister Snuggums," but it sounds like you're talking about more fundamental stuff like "how come people God made people need food." Someone who feels that management is performing that poorly might well want the world unmade.
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growlley wrote:
I think you missed my point , the point wasn't the prayer itself but GOD could take away the oxygen or rewrite the laws of time\space , physics any time he chose and still allow us to live \ breath etc but it wouldn't be this world , with this set of rules.

A religous person could argue the multiverse theory is God dreaming every single possible world \outcome set of rules simulanteously . After all he is supposed to be G_D.


How is that addressing either morality or, agency of God?
If God is indeed passively dreaming all possible universes then what is the epistemic value of God hypothesis in the first place?

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Well that is partially the point isn't it what is the agency of GOD - why would it need to dream at all?

The problem with morality is it circles back to the very trite and over used argument you do not understand the mind of god, there is a plan and eveything has a reason.

If you give god agency we cannot know its morals except by our own frame of reference or if its true natue is to be capricious then is it immoral or evil if it knows it is capricious and doesn't change its nature is it evil and round and round the wheel goes.

The problem of morality is defined by whose view point you use.

Edit it seems to me at the moment that god gets nothing out of this except a bung of people defining what they think he wants. If they want \ need anything at all.
 
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kuhrusty wrote:
whac3 wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
whac3 wrote:
It is why when G-d is described in Jewish philosophical literature as questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world, the words ascribed to G-d almost always begin, "Do you want me to unmake the world?"

I don't understand that. "Hey, Moshe, it seems like it would be better if you didn't misspell 'tropes' in the subject." "Do you want me to delete the thread?"

The analogy would be more to, "Moshe, I just want something talking about the Christian concept of a deity in terms of Western philosophy."

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "questioning how something horrible could happen or be in the world," because I'm imagining something relatively minor like "how come God made a fish that burrows into my urethra" or "of all the places for that piano to land, how come God let it land on Mister Snuggums," but it sounds like you're talking about more fundamental stuff like "how come people God made people need food." Someone who feels that management is performing that poorly might well want the world unmade.


I certainly wouldn't accuse you of being a creationist, but I think the question "How come G-d made a fish that burrows into my urethra" suggests a creationistic view of G-d. My view is that G-d created life on this Earth through the mechanism of evolution - turns out that in this one tiny part of the globe, evolution led to a fish that burrows into your urethra.

Now, maybe G-d should have said, the moment before lighting the Big Bang "Wow, I think this whole Universe thing is gonna turn out pretty good, I got all the physical laws, the distribution of matter and anti-matter, normal and dark matter, all that jazz is looking about how I want it, and about 13 billion years from now there should be a pretty cool little ball of life floating around.

"Oh shit, turns out that evolution thing on Earth is going to result in some critters with a penchant for Rusty's urethra. Well, back to the drawing board I guess." I'm actually surprised by how well Moshe's quote "Would you have me unmake the world?" sums up my feelings on the matter.

I suppose I'm trying to say that if you think about the Big Bang as being the start of G-d's super sweet 13 billion year-long trick shot, this world starts to look pretty amazing, despite some flaws here and there. Just as I wouldn't give Yo-Yo Ma advice on his fingering, I would hesitate to give the Lord of All Creation my notes on what He could have done better.

Incidentally, just think about all the places on our great planet where you live in no fear at all of fish with an over-abiding fondness for your very most intimate of spaces.
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Moshe Callen
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bramadan wrote:
whac3 wrote:

Well, for one, from G-d's perspective, you're nothing but a figment of His imagination. You're not real except insofar as G-d makes you real. It's like asking if J. K. Rowling is evil because of all the people who died at the hands of Voldemort.


That is a terrible argument - human beings have self awareness and agency that makes them moral agents in a way that literary characters do not. Even if our meta-state *is* in some sense a dream of a God that does not change our moral worth.
In other words - if Rowling made her stories with characters who have actusl hopes, dreams etc... and then killed them for the sake of the story - then yes, she would be evil - even if 'reality' of those characters was in some sense contingent on her.

Denying the moral worth of people on the basis of their metaphysical status would is some sense make God worse then evil - it would make him essentially into something out of Lovecraft's universe.

Not to mention that if life is a tale in God's mind - it is a tale 'told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.

No one is denying anyone's moral worth. I'm simply saying that people are a manifestation slightly removed of G-d. Therefore the question is not so simple.
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growlley wrote:
Well that is partially the point isn't it what is the agency of GOD - why would it need to dream at all?

The problem with morality is it circles back to the very trite and over used argument you do not understand the mind of god, there is a plan and eveything has a reason.

If you give god agency we cannot know its morals except by our own frame of reference or if its true natue is to be capricious then is it immoral or evil if it knows it is capricious and doesn't change its nature is it evil and round and round the wheel goes.

The problem of morality is defined by whose view point you use.

Edit it seems to me at the moment that god gets nothing out of this except a bung of people defining what they think he wants. If they want \ need anything at all.

Exactly. G-d needs nothing at all. He wants a functioning world. He therefore wants us as human beings to use ethics in dealing with each other and to not totally screw up the environment.
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toku42 wrote:
I certainly wouldn't accuse you of being a creationist, but I think the question "How come G-d made a fish that burrows into my urethra" suggests a creationistic view of G-d.

Well, it's an example of the sort of question I thought Moshe might be talking about.

toku42 wrote:
Just as I wouldn't give Yo-Yo Ma advice on his fingering, I would hesitate to give the Lord of All Creation my notes on what He could have done better.

Shrug. It doesn't matter how great Yo-Yo Ma is if he's playing a song you don't enjoy.

toku42 wrote:
Incidentally, just think about all the places on our great planet where you live in no fear at all of fish with an over-abiding fondness for your very most intimate of spaces.

Shoot, my urethra isn't my most intimate space; you know what lives there? Toxoplasma gondii.
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God did't ( or indirectly if he did ) Michael Crichton did - 'Life finds a way!'.

Obviously you had a vacum in your bladder and nature abhored it.

just be glad they arent velociraptor or monkeyswhistle
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As unsatisfying as it may be to some, I believe Bojan is approaching the matter from a humancentric angle, which makes it not work. Human is the only point of view we have, but thst doesn't mean it is particularly effective at answering the questions. It might be all you have is a bit of string to measure the galaxy, but it won't nessecarily be up to the task.

This is a slight twist on 'G-d moves in mysterious ways' Being that G-d's set of moralistic rules and values is of a different scope and priority set than your standard Aetheistic Canadian might have developed. When you take the narrow view 'why me/him/her' then you're missing a lot.

As for judging G-d go right ahead, and judge the Sun while you're at it, you might have more of an effect.
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Shadrach wrote:
As unsatisfying as it may be to some, I believe Bojan is approaching the matter from a humancentric angle, which makes it not work. Human is the only point of view we have, but thst doesn't mean it is particularly effective at answering the questions. It might be all you have is a bit of string to measure the galaxy, but it won't nessecarily be up to the task.

This is a slight twist on 'G-d moves in mysterious ways' Being that G-d's set of moralistic rules and values is of a different scope and priority set than your standard Aetheistic Canadian might have developed. When you take the narrow view 'why me/him/her' then you're missing a lot.

As for judging G-d go right ahead, and judge the Sun while you're at it, you might have more of an effect.


I understand that argument but find it vacuous.
If someone claims, like Christians and Muslims always do, that "God is Good" (compassionate, merciful, loving etc...) it seems to me that they must be using those words in a way that has recognizable meaning.

On the face of it - this is manifestly not the case because on the face of it world has many aspects that do not appear as if they have been designed by the merciful/compassionate/good creator. Now I accept that one can invoke the mysticism and/or sheer faith ("you don't understand how it all turns out for good in the end when afterlife is taken into account") and I can not argue against that.

What I can argue against is the notion that there is separate 'God morality'. If there was then God may well be Hastur, Yog-Sototh or Kali and still be considered 'Good' which is the perversion of the word.

Ever since Homer humans have taken into themselves to render moral judgements on Gods. Regardless of our metaphysical beliefs - being able and willing to do so is a cornerstone of reasonable ethics.

Edit:
As for judging the Sun, it is mindless and therefore not a moral agent. If someone told me that Sun is Hellios or Apolo and tools me stories about him raping Daphne - you better believe I would be judging him.
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What I am arguing is simply that applying human morality to G-d is a fundamentally absurd effort.
1. From G-d's perspective, it's as if we are not real.
2. Ethics describe the interaction of beings within the world. G-d is not within the world. If anything, the world is within G-d.
3. Whatever G-d does, He does in His own mind.
Talking about G-d as a moral agent only makes sense if there exists G-d and people and these are distinct as well as operating within the world. Neither of those premises is in fact the case.
 
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whac3 wrote:
What I am arguing is simply that applying human morality to G-d is a fundamentally absurd effort.
1. From G-d's perspective, it's as if we are not real.
2. Ethics describe the interaction of beings within the world. G-d is not within the world. If anything, the world is within G-d.
3. Whatever G-d does, He does in His own mind.
Talking about G-d as a moral agent only makes sense if there exists G-d and people and these are distinct as well as operating within the world. Neither of those premises is in fact the case.


That seems like a very Jewish perspective. I doubt Christians share your view. I think that's partly why we continue to have these conversations because it's pretty typical for Christians to tell you that God loves them, not that "from God's perspective, it's as if we are not real" or "God and people are distinct."
 
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