How to be an Atheist apologist?

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Re: How to be an Atheist apologist?

#201  Postby Mick » Jan 10, 2012 8:58 pm

Angra Mainyu wrote:Would the Thomist objection you have in mind claim that moral perfection follows from the other properties included in the definition of "God" in Jeffery's (or even in Swinburne's) definition?


Yes, but only because, on classical theism, God's Omniscience just is his Omnipotence which just is his Goodness, etc. God is not composite in any way-he is simple. Thus, one deduces every other. Of course we only know that once first figure out that God is goodness itself by way of metaphysical demonstration.
Christ said, "I am the Truth"; he did not say "I am the custom." -- St. Toribio
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Re: How to be an Atheist apologist?

#202  Postby andrewk » Jan 10, 2012 10:04 pm

chairman bill wrote:So if 'God' is morally perfect, we can discount the bible as offering any insights into God's nature, 'cos clearly that deity is anything but morally perfect
Well apparently not, because it seems that
For the Thomist, it [moral perfection] is that he is pure actuality or being itself which makes him morally perfect--goodness itself.
This definition has no connection whatsoever with morality as the term is understood by English-speaking humans. I don't know what the definition is intended to mean, for example 'pure actuality' and 'being itself' sound to me rather like 'the sound of one hand clapping'. But maybe if there are any Thomists on the forum (I haven't become aware of any to date) they can attempt to put some coherent meaning into those terms (and yes I know that Aristotle used the term 'actuality' but the fact that he used it doesn't entail that he provided a coherent definition of it, or that it makes sense).

But whatever may be intended by the Thomist definition of morally perfect, it is so far from human conceptions of morals that one could with equal aptness use the term 'perfectly flat', 'perfectly sticky' or 'perfectly blue'. I don't find it difficult to conceive that a perfectly blue being might order the OT genocides.
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Re: How to be an Atheist apologist?

#203  Postby Mick » Jan 10, 2012 11:20 pm

andrewk wrote:
chairman bill wrote:So if 'God' is morally perfect, we can discount the bible as offering any insights into God's nature, 'cos clearly that deity is anything but morally perfect
Well apparently not, because it seems that
For the Thomist, it [moral perfection] is that he is pure actuality or being itself which makes him morally perfect--goodness itself.
This definition has no connection whatsoever with morality as the term is understood by English-speaking humans. I don't know what the definition is intended to mean, for example 'pure actuality' and 'being itself' sound to me rather like 'the sound of one hand clapping'. But maybe if there are any Thomists on the forum (I haven't become aware of any to date) they can attempt to put some coherent meaning into those terms (and yes I know that Aristotle used the term 'actuality' but the fact that he used it doesn't entail that he provided a coherent definition of it, or that it makes sense).

But whatever may be intended by the Thomist definition of morally perfect, it is so far from human conceptions of morals that one could with equal aptness use the term 'perfectly flat', 'perfectly sticky' or 'perfectly blue'. I don't find it difficult to conceive that a perfectly blue being might order the OT genocides.


It is actually quite common to catholic thought, Andrew.
Christ said, "I am the Truth"; he did not say "I am the custom." -- St. Toribio
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Re: How to be an Atheist apologist?

#204  Postby Angra Mainyu » Jan 11, 2012 12:36 am

Mick wrote:
Angra Mainyu wrote:Would the Thomist objection you have in mind claim that moral perfection follows from the other properties included in the definition of "God" in Jeffery's (or even in Swinburne's) definition?


Yes, but only because, on classical theism, God's Omniscience just is his Omnipotence which just is his Goodness, etc. God is not composite in any way-he is simple. Thus, one deduces every other. Of course we only know that once first figure out that God is goodness itself by way of metaphysical demonstration.

But when assessing the probability in this context, the question is an a priori one.

ETA: To be clearer, when I said "a priori" I was including things like conceptual analysis. In reality, that requires evidence about how the words are used, so if you consider them separately, let's add semantic evidence to a priori arguments.

The words "omnipotence" and "omniscience" have different meanings, and the same goes for "moral perfection".

What Swinburne tries to do is to get moral perfection from omniscience plus perfect freedom by means of conceptual analysis (well, conceptual analysis and some metaethical assumptions, so there is some more or less hidden ontology perhaps, but I can grant that too; you can find more details in my reply to Swinburne's arguments).

The points I made in the post I linked to are meant to show precisely that there is no such semantic entailment, or any entailment that can be found a priori, and that's all I need to make the probabilistic objection.

If you disagree and you think you have an a-priori and/or semantic argument from omniscience (and omnipotence, if you like) to moral perfection (I don't include "perfect freedom", since it entails change in God, and the Thomist denies that - besides, that's not part of Jeffery's definition -, but it's fine with me if you add that too), I'd like to know what your arguments objecting to my arguments are.

In brief, it's not enough that if Thomism is right, then omnipotence is moral perfection, etc. For that matter, if Thomism is true, so is theism, and no further argument is required. But my point is that the scenario in which an omnipotent, omniscient being isn't morally perfect is not ruled out a priori and/or on semantic grounds. If you want to argue otherwise, you'd have to argue - a priori - why my scenarios fail. Else, the probabilistic objection can be raised as I did.
In case anyone is interested, I wrote a couple of non-theistic arguments and posted them here. :)
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