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KD and 7up on ex nihilo, free will and evil

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  • #16
    Definition of free will

    Ok, I was doing some more thinking this morning and read some stuff about free will.

    Originally posted by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    ... we may think of a person as free when bound only by her own will and not by the will of another. Her actions then express her own will and not the will of someone or something else.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/#Aut
    Is this what you're saying, that having free will requires being an uncaused cause? That if someone is created by God, then to the extent that their desires, etc. come from God they are not free? And that in your view, you have free will because your soul "just was" and wasn't created by anyone else?

    Comment


    • #17
      I will respond now to the parts of your post that aren't directly related to your "no free will in ex nihilo" argument. Hopefully we will get somewhere new with the free will discussion.

      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
      Let's think of Adam/Eve. They were:

      1) ignorant (they did not know good and evil like God does)
      2) easily deceived
      3) disobedient
      4) irrational

      Are you telling me that out of any kind of creature possible from your God's infinite mind, that this is the kind of being that He came up with?

      ...
      How could they be blamed, when they did not even understand good or evil?
      Before you respond to my response, just think for a minute here about the purpose of this part of the discussion, okay? The point you're trying to make here is that God could have created people who were better than Adam and Eve, people who would at least have not eaten the forbidden fruit and lasted a while longer in Eden. Now, why are you trying to make this point? Is it because

      A. you want me to see their flaws and agree that God could have done better, and therefore be more likely to accept your view

      B. you're ultimately just testing out the veracity of your views and arguments, so you want me to try and fail to convince you that God did a good enough job creating them, thereby reaffirming in your mind that you're right and Adam and Eve's flaws are a solid point in favor of your view?

      Maybe it's some of both. In any event, if you wish to achieve goal A, you are going to have to first understand my view of Adam and Eve and then convince me that my view is wrong by pointing out the flaws in my view rather than the benefits of your view. I have no reason to even consider accepting your view when I think my view is totally fine.

      If your main goal is B, you should still try to understand my view on its own terms and determine if it's coherent in and of itself, because if it's not coherent or logically consistent then you can clearly reject it as something that isn't a worthy alternative to your current beliefs. B is, naturally, a much more attainable goal than A; but if you're focusing on goal B, you're certainly not going to achieve goal A.

      So, what is your goal, anyway?

      Meanwhile, while my overall goal is to convince you to reject those of your beliefs that I think are false, my immediate goal is to show that the problems you have with ex nihilo theology can be addressed, i.e. that there is a logically consistent, viable, Biblical ex nihilo theology, since you seem to think there isn't one and that appears to be one of the biggest reasons why you reject traditional Christian theology. Showing that such a theology exists and can be defended is IMO the first of many steps towards getting you to accept traditional Christian theology. If that's not the case, feel free to direct me towards what an appropriate first step would be.

      That being said, here is my take on the problems you bring up with Adam and Eve.

      1) Their ignorance was not necessarily ignorance of the general concepts of good and evil, but of particular things being evil. They knew what they needed to know in Eden: that God was good (i.e. that he was trustworthy and should be obeyed) and that they shouldn't eat the fruit of a certain tree or they would die. And they understood this, because in order to tempt them Satan had to argue that they wouldn't die if they ate the fruit.

      Yes, they were ignorant of things like nakedness vs. modesty; but I see that as being more innocence than ignorance of necessary knowledge. Eph 5:12 says "For it is shameful even to speak of the things that {evildoers} do in secret." So in a way there is a goodness in ignorance of evil. We're both parents -- while it's necessary to teach our children about "worldly" matters, there's something sweet about them being little and not knowing about all the ways that people can sin and hurt each other. Likewise, there's something sweet about God creating a new world that not only has no acts of sin, but whose inhabitants don't even know for the most part what sin is, apart from a general notion of it involving disobedience to God.

      4) Given that Eve was deceived, her decision was not irrational. Her decision to trust Satan, who she didn't know, versus God who had created her, the garden, etc. was naive but not illogical -- it was not due to a lack of intelligence or reasoning ability.

      2) and 3), yes, Eve was deceived, Adam failed to intervene and they both disobeyed. They made wrong choices. Those choices weren't due to a lack of necessary knowledge or reasoning ability. God wouldn't do that any more than he would tell them to tend the garden but create them paralyzed. I could expand here on my theory of the origins of evil; but I've probably given you more than enough to disagree with already.

      Originally posted by 7up
      Doesn't it make more sense instead to understand that the possibilities were limited by the intelligences that God had available to work with? I describe a theology that explains why the world is the way it is, and why we are the way we are.
      Sure, your theology makes sense. I can see where it would be very appealing. But that isn't a measure of its truthfulness. One would expect a man-made theology to be readily understandable and appealing on one or many levels (e.g. per Col 2:20-23). Fables and mythologies are understandable and at least entertaining if they aren't particularly appealing. Meanwhile, Jesus said things that seemed to be logical contradictions (how can the Messiah be both David's son and his Lord?) and told people a number of things that were upsetting, even revolting, to them. John starts his gospel out with a blatant contradiction (the Word was with God, and the Word was God).

      This is not to say that logical consistency, etc. don't matter when determining the truthfulness of a theology, but rather that a true theology of God, someone who is perfect and infinite, is not always going to make sense to finite, imperfect people. Just like God's perfect moral standard is going to rub us sinners wrong in some areas, and we're bound to disagree with it because our morals are flawed.

      Meanwhile, I see zero Biblical support for any of your notions of people being pre-existent intelligences that weren't created by God and whose inherent flaws limited God's work.

      Originally posted by 7up
      With Ex Nihilo, not only is evil done under God's supervision, it is done by God's will.
      I assume you understand the difference between God's sovereign/decretive will and his will of disposition?

      Originally posted by 7up
      It wouldn't be a "loaded" die. It is still actually a randomly rolling cube. However, since God has all of the possible of cubes to choose from, God decides which cubes to create, and therefore God is choosing which number combinations will exist in reality. It is too bad that you didn't get that from the video presentation. The illustration was quite clear on that.
      The way you stated it in your post:

      Originally posted by 7up
      one aspect of problem of ex nihilo includes the idea that, if God is going to decide to create one of these (knowing what will happen beforehand), which one would he create? Especially considering that amoral decisions will lead to eternal damnation.
      seemed to imply that God could create a die that rolled an even number every time it was rolled, which would be the equivalent of a perfect life. If you're talking about dice that are only going to be rolled five times total, then sure, God could set things up to have the five results he wanted. But the analogy breaks down when you're talking about actual human beings living lives where they make hundreds of decisions every day. It's extremely unlikely for a fair die to roll even numbers every time in a series of a million rolls.

      Your argument still seems to assume that God has the option of creating a perfect person. And I'm still saying I don't see that as a viable possibility. Even if you say they wouldn't be fully perfect but would happen to make the right decision in all the situations they were in throughout their lives, I would say they would still have to be perfect even to do that, because in an ordinary life they will be tested -- unless they are perfect, they will have finite willpower and it will run out.

      Originally posted by 7up
      Originally posted by Kind Debater
      For someone to be good all the time, even when tested, wouldn't they have to be God?
      No. Your assertion here is especially wrong in "classic theism". Don't you believe in an ontological divide between God and man? That would distinguish you from God even if you become morally perfect. Do you believe that we will be morally perfect in the next life? Does that make us God?

      Furthermore, do you believe that we will have free will after the resurrection? How will our morality be then?
      We won't sin in heaven, but that's because all sources of sin and evil will have been removed, not because we will be perfect in the sense that God is perfect (e.g. able to resist all forms of temptation). Which is why I stated explictly in my OP:

      Originally posted by Kind Debater
      2. I hypothesize that God "could not" create someone who would be morally perfect in their life on Earth (that is, in a life outside of heaven where they are subject to temptations and physical weaknesses).
      The moral perfection we'll have in heaven -- where it's "easy" to be moral -- is not like God's moral perfection and doesn't imply we will have the divine characteristic of true moral perfection (i.e. equivalent to God's).

      Originally posted by 7up
      This is the classic part of this discussion where people make the false assumption that God MUST create morally flawed beings in order for them to be free.
      Why, because they would have to be able to choose to sin in practice in order to be free? I don't believe that. Is that what you were getting into here:

      Originally posted by 7up
      Do you believe that God has free will?
      I believe he does, but since he is perfectly good he does not use his freedom to sin.

      Originally posted by 7up
      In fact, if you simply take the point that sinning is irrational, especially when you take into consideration the consequences involved. Therefore, beings who are rational would not choose to sin.
      There are plenty of people who are fully aware that they're making a irrational, morally wrong choice, yet choose to do it anyway. I would even venture that all people do this sometimes. Everyone eats something they know is purely junk, or doesn't exercise when they know they should, etc. The problem of sin can't be reduced to one of irrationality.

      In fact, people with greater reasoning ability can be more capable of sinning because their higher intelligence allows them to rationalize their sin. My DD's therapist told me that it's harder to work with kids with above-average intelligence for this very reason -- they can argue with what the therapist is saying and defend their way of doing things, whereas a kid with below-average intelligence is more likely to accept the therapist telling them they need to change.

      Originally posted by 7up
      I agree that physical limitations are not the same as moral flaws. However, I believe that one of the reasons God gives us physical limitation is BECAUSE we have moral flaws. That is not the same as saying someone gets cancer specifically because they made a specific sin. We all need humilty to be taught to us, because we are by nature, lacking in that characteristic. Sometimes individuals need to be taught how to be charitable to others who have physical limitations.
      Ok.

      Comment


      • #18
        7UP: God does not force change upon an individual. God COULD prevent scenarios where they would make wrong choices, but then those individuals would never learn the consequences of making mistakes. There is little opportunity for progress and learning in such a scenario.



        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post

        So individuals can learn and change. In this case, for the better. In some cases, for the worse, per Romans 1, since they can make choices that either bring them closer to God or take them further away. Either way, they change -- they don't remain the same as when they started.

        Even if when they started was when God created them ex nihilo.

        If you're going to say that if God created ex nihilo, then he should have created mini-Gods who would never change because they couldn't improve and would never make a wrong choice, then I guess this isn't going to go anywhere.
        Remember that from the Evangelical view, God is unchanging/immutable in some kind of metaphysical sense. That is not the way that LDS view God. That is not the way that we would view God's creations either.

        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
        If you can at least say that God could create ex nihilo someone who wasn't perfect but, in theory, had the tools to obey the finite set of commands God gave him -- which is what I'm going to argue was Adam and Eve's original state -- then don't you agree that such a person could change, for better or for worse? That they could have experiences, learn, decide to do things differently the next time -- or make mistakes?
        Why didn't thy make the right choice the first time? What were they missing? What characteristics (or lack) caused the mistake?

        Blake Ostler put it this way,

        "[Evangelicals assume] that God must create morally fallible persons if he creates them free. However, that is not true given the evangelical view of creation ex nihilo, for if God creates ex nihilo, then he can create any persons that it is logically possible to create. He certainly could have created more morally sensitive and rational persons than we are. Richard Swinburne has argued that a perfectly rational being is necessarily good. There is no logical reason that God could not have created perfectly rational beings who are perfectly good even though they are free to choose evil if they wish. If Swinburne is correct, the fact that a person always rationally chooses to do what is right is not incompatible with libertarian free will. Given the creedal view, there is no reason that God could not have created perfectly rational persons who would always see by the light of reason that choosing what is right is the most rational course. Thus God had open to him the possibility of creating more intelligent and morally sensitive creatures who would bring about less evil (or no evil at all) than we do through our sheer irrationality."


        -7up

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post

          Before you respond to my response, just think for a minute here about the purpose of this part of the discussion, okay? The point you're trying to make here is that God could have created people who were better than Adam and Eve, people who would at least have not eaten the forbidden fruit and lasted a while longer in Eden. Now, why are you trying to make this point?
          The point in this part of the discussion, as I explained in the last post, is to help you realize that moral fallibility is not requisite in order for an individual to have free will.

          A flawed machine with erroneous calculations with no free will can logically exist, and a person with free will with perfect morality can logically exist. God creating from nothing has any logical option available.

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          Meanwhile, while my overall goal is to convince you to reject those of your beliefs that I think are false, my immediate goal is to show that the problems you have with ex nihilo theology can be addressed, i.e. that there is a logically consistent, viable, Biblical ex nihilo theology,
          Side note - Ex nihilo theology is not "Biblical". I have other video presentations which address that, but that is another topic I suppose.

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          since you seem to think there isn't one and that appears to be one of the biggest reasons why you reject traditional Christian theology. Showing that such a theology exists and can be defended is IMO the first of many steps towards getting you to accept traditional Christian theology. If that's not the case, feel free to direct me towards what an appropriate first step would be.
          There are many issues with traditional Christian theology. Did you see the "Mormon Trinity" thread? But again, that is another topic. I agree that this Ex Nihilo issue is a big one for me. It was the initial reason for my rejection of Christianity, even as a teenager. Remember that the Ex Nihilo concept and free will tie closely together with "The Problem of Evil and Suffering", which is perhaps the most detrimental criticism of Christianity (and Classical Theism) from a philosophical viewpoint.

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          That being said, here is my take on the problems you bring up with Adam and Eve.

          1) Their ignorance was not necessarily ignorance of the general concepts of good and evil, but of particular things being evil. They knew what they needed to know in Eden: that God was good (i.e. that he was trustworthy and should be obeyed) and that they shouldn't eat the fruit of a certain tree or they would die. And they understood this, because in order to tempt them Satan had to argue that they wouldn't die if they ate the fruit.

          Yes, they were ignorant of things like nakedness vs. modesty; but I see that as being more innocence than ignorance of necessary knowledge.
          Does God know about nakedness? Is it inherently wrong to have this kind of knowledge?

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          Eph 5:12 says "For it is shameful even to speak of the things that {evildoers} do in secret." So in a way there is a goodness in ignorance of evil.
          So, are you arguing that God is ignorant, or are you arguing that God is not good?

          "Man has become as one of us, to know good and evil."

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          We're both parents -- while it's necessary to teach our children about "worldly" matters, there's something sweet about them being little and not knowing about all the ways that people can sin and hurt each other. Likewise, there's something sweet about God creating a new world that not only has no acts of sin, but whose inhabitants don't even know for the most part what sin is, apart from a general notion of it involving disobedience to God.
          Was existence NOT sweet before God decided to create, because God knew what sin would be?

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          4) Given that Eve was deceived, her decision was not irrational. Her decision to trust Satan, who she didn't know, versus God who had created her, the garden, etc. was naive but not illogical -- it was not due to a lack of intelligence or reasoning ability.
          I am sorry India, but you are contradicting yourself. You wrote in this post:

          KD: "Their ignorance was not necessarily ignorance of the general concepts of good and evil, but of particular things being evil. They knew what they needed to know in Eden: that God was good (i.e. that he was trustworthy and should be obeyed) and that they shouldn't eat the fruit of a certain tree or they would die."

          Tell me what is rational about listening to the serpent, rather than listening to the counsel from God, a trustworthy source which they know should be obeyed (and all the while understanding the consequences).

          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          2) and 3), yes, Eve was deceived, Adam failed to intervene and they both disobeyed. They made wrong choices. Those choices weren't due to a lack of necessary knowledge or reasoning ability.
          So, is God capable of creating a person who is not so easily deceived?

          Again, creating a person who can be fooled is not requisite for free will.

          -7up

          P.S. If you wish to continue in the Adam and Eve discussion, please remember that I have a 3 part series concerning the implications of Ex Nihilo theology concerning Adam and Eve compared to my point of view. I have already answered most of the questions that you bring up, and others that you have not brought up yet, and even others that you may not have even thought of.
          Part 1
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHMuWB2xrvo
          Part 2
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ozuVPRKwp4
          Part 3
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga55WgUhQkc
          Last edited by seven7up; 05-29-2014, 03:25 AM.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            Sure, your theology makes sense. I can see where it would be very appealing. But that isn't a measure of its truthfulness.
            It certainly is helpful to have a theology that makes sense, but do you want to know something interesting? I began investigating and praying about Mormonism and received a spiritual confirmation BEFORE I even knew that my questions about Ex Nihilo creation, free will, and suffering/evil were resolved by Joseph Smiths revelations. Amazingly, I had the benefit of having personal revelation by humbling myself before God and asking if the religion was true, and THEN my questions began to resolve as I studied the religion more deeply.

            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            One would expect a man-made theology to be readily understandable and appealing on one or many levels (e.g. per Col 2:20-23). Fables and mythologies are understandable and at least entertaining if they aren't particularly appealing.
            What wasn't appealing is realizing that I had been living in sin and had to face up to an absolutely Holy God with humble repentance. That process continues today.

            However, please don't attempt the Trinity type argument whereby "we don't understand it, so it must be true."

            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            Meanwhile, Jesus said things that seemed to be logical contradictions (how can the Messiah be both David's son and his Lord?) and told people a number of things that were upsetting, even revolting, to them. John starts his gospel out with a blatant contradiction (the Word was with God, and the Word was God).
            I don't find any of the things that Jesus says to be contradictory. My theology makes it quite clear. Jesus, even from a pre-mortal existence, was the superior of David and the Lord. David's being a mortal ancestor does not contradict that.

            From my view, Jesus was spiritually perfect prior to creation, and therefore is considered Deity even prior to mortality. Jesus is not the same being as God the Father, therefore was "with God". So again, Jesus was with God (with the Father) and Jesus was God (Jesus was, himself, Deity).

            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            This is not to say that logical consistency, etc. don't matter when determining the truthfulness of a theology, but rather that a true theology of God, someone who is perfect and infinite, is not always going to make sense to finite, imperfect people.
            I think this conversation concerning Ex Nihilo is at a level whereby we can comprehend some of the implications. I don't have to understand EVERYTHING. Like I said, the exact nature of God's foreknowledge and therefore the exact kind of free will that we have (compatibilism, libertarian, etc) is unknown to me. But there is a lot that we can understand.

            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            Meanwhile, I see zero Biblical support for any of your notions of people being pre-existent intelligences that weren't created by God and whose inherent flaws limited God's work.
            As I mentioned previously, Adam and Eve are a literal representations of pre-mortal existence for all men and women. Those inherent flaws are what resulted in mortality, and this is representative of all of us. How is that for a start?

            Furthermore, the Evangelical viewpoint is limited to the pages of text in the Bible alone. It is "against the rules", so to speak, for you to go outside the text of the Bible and declare Ex Nihilo. However, for LDS, additional scriptures have been revealed, and Ex Nihilo is denied in the Doctrines and Covenants.

            This is game changing theological insight into the Problem of Evil and Suffering and the other problems previously discussed. Brigham Young put it this way:

            “You can understand, from the few remarks I make with regard to the Gospel, that many things which were revealed through Joseph came in contact with our own prejudices: We did not know how to understand them. I refer to myself for an instance. … My traditions were such, that when the Vision came first to me, it was directly contrary and opposed to my former education.” - Brigham Young

            From my perspective, Joseph Smith's revelations were provided by God, in part, in order to help the world understand that He is not the monster that people imagined Him to be, but is truly Holy, Fair, Just, etc. Joseph explained:

            "I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world." - Joseph Smith

            I have humbly asked God whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet and an instrument of God in order to lay the foundation of God's kingdom on earth.

            Have you?

            -7up

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by seven7up View Post
              Originally posted by Kind Debater
              So individuals can learn and change. In this case, for the better. In some cases, for the worse, per Romans 1, since they can make choices that either bring them closer to God or take them further away. Either way, they change -- they don't remain the same as when they started.

              Even if when they started was when God created them ex nihilo.
              Remember that from the Evangelical view, God is unchanging/immutable in some kind of metaphysical sense. That is not the way that LDS view God. That is not the way that we would view God's creations either.
              My point was that since people change, they can change into something different, in some respects, from what God originally created them to be.

              Originally posted by Blake Ostler
              "[Evangelicals assume] that God must create morally fallible persons if he creates them free. However, that is not true given the evangelical view of creation ex nihilo, for if God creates ex nihilo, then he can create any persons that it is logically possible to create. He certainly could have created more morally sensitive and rational persons than we are. Richard Swinburne has argued that a perfectly rational being is necessarily good. There is no logical reason that God could not have created perfectly rational beings who are perfectly good even though they are free to choose evil if they wish.
              1. I said already that I don't believe that people must be morally fallible in order to be free.

              2. I already argued that the problem of sin cannot be reduced to a problem of people being irrational:

              Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
              There are plenty of people who are fully aware that they're making a irrational, morally wrong choice, yet choose to do it anyway. I would even venture that all people do this sometimes. Everyone eats something they know is purely junk, or doesn't exercise when they know they should, etc. The problem of sin can't be reduced to one of irrationality.

              In fact, people with greater reasoning ability can be more capable of sinning because their higher intelligence allows them to rationalize their sin. My DD's therapist told me that it's harder to work with kids with above-average intelligence for this very reason -- they can argue with what the therapist is saying and defend their way of doing things, whereas a kid with below-average intelligence is more likely to accept the therapist telling them they need to change.
              Going along with the above, in order for a perfectly rational person to be perfectly good, they would need more than perfect rationality in order to put their knowledge into practice. They would also need more than perfect rationality in order to make the right decision every time: they would need omniscience. "Rational" refers to cognitive ability. A person can have outstanding cognitive abilities, yet have wrong information or lack information and therefore still come to a wrong conclusion.

              Even if someone knows the right thing to do in a situation, they may lack the perseverance, courage, etc. to do it -- even if rationally they know that the consequences of doing wrong are not worth the gain, they may not have the inner strength necessary to resist the immediate gain of doing wrong. Is rationality alone enough to keep a starving person from stealing the food that's right in front of them?

              A perfect mother would have to have a perfect memory, not get distracted, and be omniscient and omnipotent, because she would have to know what her kids were doing at all times, even when she couldn't see them. She'd have to be able to accomplish more than is humanly possible. My friend who has three kids and homeschools tells her husband, "Every day, one of three things happens: the housework gets done, dinner gets made, or your children are educated. The one thing that was accomplished today was ___."

              What are the two greatest commands? To love God and our neighbors. Is rationality alone enough to enable one to fulfill those commands perfectly?
              If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

              Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

              Does perfect rationality enable one to be kind? One needs empathy as well. Does perfect rationality enable one to have perfect control over one's feelings and reactions? Even if you argue convincingly that it does, it doesn't prevent wrong feelings/desires from coming up in the first place (which is already sin) -- it doesn't provide one with perfect purity of thought. Does it enable one to believe all things and hope all things about someone? One needs perfect compassion in order to love perfectly.

              You cannot equate a perfectly rational person with a perfectly good person. A perfectly good person would need to be omniscient (or be pretty close, depending on whether or not your argument allows God to create people who can sin on accident), perfectly patient, perfectly compassionate. If you think God, creating ex nihilo, should allow no evil to occur, then people would have to be omnipotent (or pretty close) in order to perfectly execute their perfect moral decisions. You cannot say, "If God just tweaked people and made them a little better, they wouldn't sin." The only options besides the current world are a) God creates heaven and its permanent residents only (i.e. a world without any testing or trials) or b) God creates beings that have all divine characteristics except eternal existence.

              Only God is good. Only God can withstand moral testing and pass every time. For God to create a world with intelligent life and keep it free from sin, he would have to make those beings virtual deities, so they too could pass any moral test, or he would have to keep the world free from tests.

              We can argue over whether or not a) and b) are themselves viable options, but can we at least narrow it down to those two?

              Originally posted by seven7up View Post
              I agree that this Ex Nihilo issue is a big one for me. It was the initial reason for my rejection of Christianity, even as a teenager.
              Originally posted by seven7up View Post
              It certainly is helpful to have a theology that makes sense, but do you want to know something interesting? I began investigating and praying about Mormonism and received a spiritual confirmation BEFORE I even knew that my questions about Ex Nihilo creation, free will, and suffering/evil were resolved by Joseph Smiths revelations. Amazingly, I had the benefit of having personal revelation by humbling myself before God and asking if the religion was true, and THEN my questions began to resolve as I studied the religion more deeply.
              That is interesting. Just out of curiosity, what was your thought process when you started investigating and praying -- why were you doing that when you thought that if there was a God, he must be responsible for evil?

              Originally posted by seven7up View Post
              Does God know about nakedness? Is it inherently wrong to have this kind of knowledge?

              So, are you arguing that God is ignorant, or are you arguing that God is not good?

              "Man has become as one of us, to know good and evil."
              There are different kinds of good. Is God, in his omniscience and other divine attributes, good? Certainly. Was the world when it was first created, without sin, good, even though its inhabitants lacked God's perfections? God called it "very good."

              "There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory." (1 Cor 15:40-41)

              Originally posted by 7up
              Originally posted by Kind Debater
              4) Given that Eve was deceived, her decision was not irrational. Her decision to trust Satan, who she didn't know, versus God who had created her, the garden, etc. was naive but not illogical -- it was not due to a lack of intelligence or reasoning ability.
              I am sorry India, but you are contradicting yourself. You wrote in this post:

              KD: "Their ignorance was not necessarily ignorance of the general concepts of good and evil, but of particular things being evil. They knew what they needed to know in Eden: that God was good (i.e. that he was trustworthy and should be obeyed) and that they shouldn't eat the fruit of a certain tree or they would die."

              Tell me what is rational about listening to the serpent, rather than listening to the counsel from God, a trustworthy source which they know should be obeyed (and all the while understanding the consequences).
              What I'm trying to get at is that Eve had the necessary tools (knowledge and cognitive ability) for making the right decision. It was up to her to use them or not. Having the ability to be rational doesn't mean that one always is rational or always puts into practice the most rational decision. A strong person can choose to be lazy and not use all their strength to lift something.

              I will concede that it was not strictly logical to trust the snake over God. But Eve had the cognitive ability to figure that out. She didn't choose to do that, though; it was likely more appealing to her to believe the snake so that she could eat the fruit. She chose what she wanted because she wanted it, not because she lacked understanding. Satan knows God is omnipotent and that he (Satan) will end up being punished -- even the demons in the NT knew that -- but he chose to rebel anyway.

              You will say that God gave her the desires she had and should have/could have created her such that her desire to obey God would be greater than all other desires. And that's a fair question. But if we look at what the Bible says about desire, it's clear that desires for evil originate within us and are not from God:

              "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." --James 1:13-14

              "For all that is in the world—-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." --1 John 2:16-17

              There are other passages that refer to the believer's responsibility to put evil desires to death and to unbelievers "following their own sinful desires", e.g. 2 Peter 1:4, 3:3, 1 Cor 10:6.

              Romans 7 seems to shed some additional light on this:

              For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

              What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

              Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:5-20)

              I see this saying that a) sin, sinful desires, etc. are something separate from our core being, the "us" that God originally created; b) sin comes as an indirect result of God's commands. The parallel is that Eve would not have known what it was to wrongly desire the forbidden fruit if it had not been forbidden. (Yet God is not at fault for giving commands, for his commands are good.) This would support my hypothesis that sin is something that originates within us and is not something that God either put in us directly or caused us to have by not creating us "good enough".

              Can we at least agree that the Bible teaches that God does not directly create evil?

              And, in the wildly unlikely, hypothetical scenario where your daughter pours chocolate syrup on her pancakes and you decide that God created ex nihilo, can we agree that since God didn't create evil, we would simply have to take the Bible's word for it that evil originates within us?

              Originally posted by 7up
              As I mentioned previously, Adam and Eve are a literal representations of pre-mortal existence for all men and women. Those inherent flaws are what resulted in mortality, and this is representative of all of us. How is that for a start?
              Given your views, I can understand your seeing Adam and Eve's fallibility as evidence for your view. But I have no reason to see it that way.

              Originally posted by 7up
              Furthermore, the Evangelical viewpoint is limited to the pages of text in the Bible alone. It is "against the rules", so to speak, for you to go outside the text of the Bible and declare Ex Nihilo. However, for LDS, additional scriptures have been revealed, and Ex Nihilo is denied in the Doctrines and Covenants.
              ...
              From my perspective, Joseph Smith's revelations were provided by God, in part, in order to help the world understand that He is not the monster that people imagined Him to be, but is truly Holy, Fair, Just, etc.
              On God being a "monster" -- Just so you know, one of my pet peeves is people having just this sort of wrong view of God, e.g. thinking that the God of the OT is wrathful and the God of the NT is loving. I'm just giving you advance warning that a good way to get a ten-page post out of me is to bring up objections of this sort.

              Anyway. If these supposed revelations of Smith were so necessary for a proper view of God, I have to think there would be support for them in the OT and NT. Just as there is support, very early on in the OT, for the afterlife, the Messiah, etc. When Jesus came and ushered in the New Covenant, that was absolutely revolutionary for the Jews of that time -- and yet once their eyes were opened, they saw all the evidence for it in the OT. The NT is necessary, but it builds on the foundation of the OT and Jesus and the apostles quoted the OT frequently to back up what they were saying.

              So when you have this "new revelation" that contradicts the previous revelation and tries to discount and discredit it to some extent -- "the Bible is correct insofar as it is 'correctly translated'" -- and comes up with ideas that aren't even hinted at in the previous revelation, that sounds particularly sketchy to me.

              Obviously this brings up a lot of off-topic issues which we don't need to get into on this thread. I'm just saying, if God really wanted people to know they weren't created ex nihilo, I think he would have made that clearer a lot sooner, and would not have so clearly implied that he made us and not just our physical bodies.

              Originally posted by 7up
              I have humbly asked God whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet and an instrument of God in order to lay the foundation of God's kingdom on earth.

              Have you?
              Nope. I also haven't asked God if I should become a Jehovah's Witness, if Mohammed was a true prophet, if Jesus was not the Messiah and I should convert to Orthodox Judaism, etc. We were just talking about the rationality of Eve doubting God and deciding to trust the snake, who offered to help her become like God. Why would I want to repeat her mistake?

              When you asked God about Joseph Smith, you were theologically single. I'm theologically married -- I am committed to God. And it sounds to me like the God you're talking about is not my God, because my God is eternal and unchanging. Asking if some other god might be the true God would be like dating other men to see if they're better than my husband, when my husband is loving and faithful and has given me zero reason to divorce him.

              BTW, you did not respond to this post.
              Last edited by Kind Debater; 05-30-2014, 09:25 PM.

              Comment


              • #22
                Sorry for the delay. I have a lot of things going on with the kids out of school for the summer etc.

                Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                Ok, I was doing some more thinking this morning and read some stuff about free will.

                Quote Originally Posted by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
                ... we may think of a person as free when bound only by her own will and not by the will of another. Her actions then express her own will and not the will of someone or something else.


                http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/#Aut

                Is this what you're saying, that having free will requires being an uncaused cause? That if someone is created by God, then to the extent that their desires, etc. come from God they are not free? And that in your view, you have free will because your soul "just was" and wasn't created by anyone else?
                I would say yes. In order to have free will, some aspect of our personal being must be uncaused. If every single aspect of who and what we are comes from God Himself, then we are exactly what God created us to be; nothing more and nothing less.

                However, I am not sure if I agree with the Stanford Encyclopedia. You cannot have a person of free will that is completely independent of the wills of others. If a man loves a woman, and wills to have a life with that woman and get married and so forth, that outcome is dependent on the woman's will as well. In that sense, the man's will is bound by the will of the girl, because it involves her participation as well.

                -7up

                Comment


                • #23
                  7UP: Remember that from the Evangelical view, God is unchanging/immutable in some kind of metaphysical sense. That is not the way that LDS view God. That is not the way that we would view God's creations either.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  My point was that since people change, they can change into something different, in some respects, from what God originally created them to be.
                  And I would say that, in the Ex Nihilo scenario, if they changed into something different from what God originally created them to be, it is because God knew what they would change into before God decided to create those people to begin with. Each individual will end up being what God created them to end up being.

                  Quote Originally Posted by Blake Ostler
                  "[Evangelicals assume] that God must create morally fallible persons if he creates them free. However, that is not true given the evangelical view of creation ex nihilo, for if God creates ex nihilo, then he can create any persons that it is logically possible to create. He certainly could have created more morally sensitive and rational persons than we are. Richard Swinburne has argued that a perfectly rational being is necessarily good. There is no logical reason that God could not have created perfectly rational beings who are perfectly good even though they are free to choose evil if they wish.


                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  1. I said already that I don't believe that people must be morally fallible in order to be free.
                  Do you have a good reason why God would purposefully create morally fallible persons and then turn around and punish those persons for being morally fallible?

                  Certainly you can see the philosophical and theological downfalls with such a position.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  2. I already argued that the problem of sin cannot be reduced to a problem of people being irrational:

                  Going along with the above, in order for a perfectly rational person to be perfectly good, they would need more than perfect rationality in order to put their knowledge into practice. They would also need more than perfect rationality in order to make the right decision every time: they would need omniscience. "Rational" refers to cognitive ability. A person can have outstanding cognitive abilities, yet have wrong information or lack information and therefore still come to a wrong conclusion.

                  Even if someone knows the right thing to do in a situation, they may lack the perseverance, courage, etc. to do it -- even if rationally they know that the consequences of doing wrong are not worth the gain, they may not have the inner strength necessary to resist the immediate gain of doing wrong. Is rationality alone enough to keep a starving person from stealing the food that's right in front of them?

                  A perfect mother would have to have a perfect memory, not get distracted, and be omniscient and omnipotent, because she would have to know what her kids were doing at all times, even when she couldn't see them. She'd have to be able to accomplish more than is humanly possible. My friend who has three kids and homeschools tells her husband, "Every day, one of three things happens: the housework gets done, dinner gets made, or your children are educated. The one thing that was accomplished today was ___."

                  What are the two greatest commands? To love God and our neighbors. Is rationality alone enough to enable one to fulfill those commands perfectly?
                  Let's break it down in a simple way. What is the consequence of sin? Death, separation from God, eternal damnation, etc.

                  Assuming that an individual knows the difference between right and wrong and has a complete understanding of the consequences, why would someone who is rational choose eternal damnation rather than eternal life?

                  Whatever characteristics you think that it takes in order for a person to make moral choices, why do you think that God is unable to instill those characteristics into a being that God is creating entirely from God's infinite imagination?

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Quote Originally Posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  There are plenty of people who are fully aware that they're making a irrational, morally wrong choice, yet choose to do it anyway. I would even venture that all people do this sometimes. Everyone eats something they know is purely junk, or doesn't exercise when they know they should, etc. The problem of sin can't be reduced to one of irrationality.
                  See above. Do those individuals truly understand the full extent of the consequences to such morally wrong decisions? They may try to justify the decision in some way, but it is irrational to think that coming up with justifications will take away the consequences of those decisions.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Quote Originally Posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  In fact, people with greater reasoning ability can be more capable of sinning because their higher intelligence allows them to rationalize their sin. My DD's therapist told me that it's harder to work with kids with above-average intelligence for this very reason -- they can argue with what the therapist is saying and defend their way of doing things, whereas a kid with below-average intelligence is more likely to accept the therapist telling them they need to change.
                  I would say that intelligence and rationality are not necessarily the same thing. The below average intelligence kids in your example are making a rational judgement, which is to accept that someone with much more knowledge and experience knows what is best for them.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Does perfect rationality enable one to be kind? One needs empathy as well.
                  Is God incapable of creating a being who can understand the position of another human being?

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Does perfect rationality enable one to have perfect control over one's feelings and reactions?
                  It works for Spock. Well, most of the time. He is half human after all.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Even if you argue convincingly that it does, it doesn't prevent wrong feelings/desires from coming up in the first place (which is already sin) -- it doesn't provide one with perfect purity of thought.
                  Where do these wrong feelings/desires come from? Who came up with the circuitry and design of our body and mind which would result in the formation impure thoughts?

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  You cannot equate a perfectly rational person with a perfectly good person. A perfectly good person would need to be omniscient (or be pretty close, depending on whether or not your argument allows God to create people who can sin on accident), perfectly patient, perfectly compassionate. If you think God, creating ex nihilo, should allow no evil to occur, then people would have to be omnipotent (or pretty close) in order to perfectly execute their perfect moral decisions. You cannot say, "If God just tweaked people and made them a little better, they wouldn't sin."
                  Not just a little better ... a LOT better. As we both agreed previously, it is not requisite to be morally fallible in order to be free. So, God had some options when creating any kind of being from absolutely nothing.

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  The only options besides the current world are a) God creates heaven and its permanent residents only (i.e. a world without any testing or trials) or b) God creates beings that have all divine characteristics except eternal existence.
                  If God is creating superior beings, would there be a need for testing and trials?

                  Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                  Only God is good. Only God can withstand moral testing and pass every time. For God to create a world with intelligent life and keep it free from sin, he would have to make those beings virtual deities, so they too could pass any moral test, or he would have to keep the world free from tests.

                  We can argue over whether or not a) and b) are themselves viable options, but can we at least narrow it down to those two?
                  So in your view, when all Christians go to heaven, will there be no sin because they all have become virtual deities, or because God will keep people free from tests/temptations?

                  -7up
                  Last edited by seven7up; 06-11-2014, 05:29 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by seven7up View Post
                    Sorry for the delay. I have a lot of things going on with the kids out of school for the summer etc.
                    Obviously I'm not doing much better at responding, for the same reason. My DD has camp in the mornings the next couple weeks, so I will be hanging out at the coffee shop and can post.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
                      Originally posted by Kind Debater
                      Is this what you're saying, that having free will requires being an uncaused cause? That if someone is created by God, then to the extent that their desires, etc. come from God they are not free? And that in your view, you have free will because your soul "just was" and wasn't created by anyone else?
                      I would say yes. In order to have free will, some aspect of our personal being must be uncaused. If every single aspect of who and what we are comes from God Himself, then we are exactly what God created us to be; nothing more and nothing less.
                      So are you saying that a consciousness with free will can't be created, essentially by (this) definition of free will?

                      Suppose it turned out that the pre-existing intelligences you believe in were not created per se by an intelligent being, but just sort of came about by some randomized physical process. Like a primordial soup that spawns intelligences rather than cells. Would you still have free will, or would you say your will was really the "will" of the random process that spawned your intelligence?

                      What about animals? Do you believe they had pre-existing intelligences as well, or do they not have free will?

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      However, I am not sure if I agree with the Stanford Encyclopedia. You cannot have a person of free will that is completely independent of the wills of others. If a man loves a woman, and wills to have a life with that woman and get married and so forth, that outcome is dependent on the woman's will as well. In that sense, the man's will is bound by the will of the girl, because it involves her participation as well.
                      I assume they meant "will" in terms of mental decisions and "action" in terms of independent steps that could be taken to bring about a desired result. E.g. the man can freely will to get married to the woman he loves, and can freely choose to work towards the desired result by asking her out, proposing, etc. but he cannot guarantee that his desire will be fulfilled. But this is a secondary issue.

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Do you have a good reason why God would purposefully create morally fallible persons and then turn around and punish those persons for being morally fallible?
                      God does not punish people for having the ability to sin, or even the propensity to sin. He punishes them for the sins they actually commit, which they theoretically have the capacity to not commit.

                      Yes, God does purposefully create people he knows are morally fallible. He doesn't create them as sinful, but he does create them as less than perfect because he "can't" create a being who would essentially be another God. Which is what I said in my OP. Basically, my argument is:

                      A. God is a being who possesses all "good" or "desirable" attributes to an infinite degree, e.g. a being who is omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, perfectly righteous, etc.
                      B. There is only one God.
                      C. God is the only one who is good.
                      D. Any being who possesses all such attributes to an infinite degree must, by definition, be divine, i.e. be God.
                      E. To be perfectly good in all circumstances, that is, to be able to pass all trials/tests, one must possess infinite knowledge, strength, etc.
                      F. From B and C, it follows that in order to be perfectly good, one must be God. This also follows from D and E. In other words, there are two separate proofs of F.
                      G. From F, if God created a being that was perfectly good, this being would therefore have to be God. But this is a contradiction of B (and also a contradiction of A if we include "eternal" and "unchanging" as divine attributes, per verses like Is 57:15).
                      H. From G, God cannot create a perfectly good being.

                      But also:

                      I. From A and various Bible passages, God has a divine glory due to his divine attributes.
                      J. God does not share his (divine) glory with others (Is 42:8)
                      K. If God created another God, then from I, this created God would have divine glory. But this contradicts J. Therefore God cannot create another God.
                      L. From F, if God created a perfectly good being, that being would have to be God, but this contradicts K.

                      In other words, this is a second proof of H: God cannot create a perfectly good being.

                      I believe there are yet further ways to prove or argue for H or K (God cannot create another God). For instance, whatever God creates, he owns (Ps 100:3, 95:5). If God created another god, he would own that god. That god would be created for God's glory (Is 43:7, 21) and God would have rights over him as he does over all his creation (Is 29:16, 45:9). Furthermore, if there was a created God, then Isaiah 40:13-14 would not apply to him (i.e. he would be a god who had gained his wisdom from his creator; Is 40:13-14 implies that God is wise in and of himself and that that's one reason why he is God and deserves worship).

                      So far you have responded primarily by attacking premise E. You did address premise J, and a copy of that discussion follows. But first let me point out that even if you destroy premises E and J, premise F still follows from B and C, and therefore premise H still stands.

                      KD: Furthermore, if God did create a morally perfect person, that person would be deserving of glory for their innate righteousness -- yet God does not share his glory with others (Is 42:8)

                      7up: Would you say that the God you believe in purposefully creates amoral persons because He does not want to share glory with anyone else? God purposefully creates inferior beings, even though He could potentially create better ones?

                      KD: No, I'm saying his choice was to create people as they are or not create them at all. If my hypothesis is true, God couldn't create a morally perfect person any more than he can create a square circle, because only someone with divine characteristics can be morally perfect, and in my theology, a being with divine characteristics must be God and God can't be created. The fact that God doesn't share his glory with another is just one more reason why his creating another god is not an option. (I then quoted Isaiah 45:24.)

                      7up: The glory that Christ was given by the throne of His Father is the same glory that He will share with us (see Rev. 3:21) and God gains more glory when we are glorified in Christ. A God of gods is more glorious and superior than a God of feeble mutts.

                      1. As you probably noticed, I am saying that Isaiah 42:8 refers to God's divine glory, i.e. the special glory he has due to being God and being perfectly holy and having all the other divine attributes. As I noted elsewhere, 1 Cor 15:40-41 says there are different kinds of glory. Some glory God shares with us (John 17:22*). Some glory he doesn't. Unless you're seriously going to argue that Isaiah 42:8 is false, what glory do you think it is that God doesn't share? If that non-shared glory is not his divine glory, why would he share his divine glory and not this other kind? What glory is more special and unique than divine glory?

                      *Rev 3:21 doesn't prove a whole lot. Yes, we will reign with Christ in heaven. That does not mean we will be equal in power, glory, etc. to Christ or to God the Father. I happened to remember that passage in John where Jesus talks about sharing glory, which is a better text to prove your point than Rev 3:21, so I am answering that verse instead.

                      2. God is already a God of gods. God the Father is the God of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17) and the "god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4). Whatever glory God the Father has from being both Father and God of Jesus, do you think it can be surpassed? I believe you said that Jesus was eternally divine. A created God or an exalted man would not be eternally divine and would not be giving God as much glory as Jesus does -- both the length of time to glorify God by being one of the gods that he is God of, and the special glory of having always been divine and not needing to be created or exalted, would be less.

                      Oh, and by the way, if you're going to talk about bringing God glory, Isaiah 60:21 makes a lot more sense and brings God a lot more glory if all the good parts of us are God's direct creation:

                      Your people shall all be righteous;
                      they shall possess the land forever,
                      the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
                      that I might be glorified.


                      But back to the main point: How can God create someone who is perfectly good without violating Isaiah 42:8, Mark 10:18, Psalm 115:1, etc.?

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Let's break it down in a simple way. What is the consequence of sin? Death, separation from God, eternal damnation, etc.

                      Assuming that an individual knows the difference between right and wrong and has a complete understanding of the consequences, why would someone who is rational choose eternal damnation rather than eternal life?
                      Pride. I know atheists who say that even if it turns out the Bible is true, they would still refuse to worship God, even if it meant eternal damnation. And the real bottom line reason is pride. They don't agree with God; they think they can stand in judgment of him and that their ways are better than his.

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Originally posted by Kind Debater
                      There are plenty of people who are fully aware that they're making a irrational, morally wrong choice, yet choose to do it anyway. I would even venture that all people do this sometimes. Everyone eats something they know is purely junk, or doesn't exercise when they know they should, etc. The problem of sin can't be reduced to one of irrationality.
                      See above. Do those individuals truly understand the full extent of the consequences to such morally wrong decisions? They may try to justify the decision in some way, but it is irrational to think that coming up with justifications will take away the consequences of those decisions.
                      Seriously, 7up? You have never done something and later said (or said at the time), "Yeah, I know I shouldn't have done that"?

                      Do you know that junk food and sugar are bad for you, and that your body is supposed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you ever eat junk food or food high in sugar? Do you exercise every day that you're not sick?

                      Do you know that staying up too late and not getting enough sleep will affect you the next day? Do you always go to bed on time and get the recommended amount of sleep?

                      Do you ever procrastinate and put off things you know you're supposed to do? Do you ever waste time? Are you ever late in getting somewhere because you lost track of time?

                      That's just ordinary stuff that everyone does. I freely admit to eating junk food even though I know it's bad for me, staying up late even though I know it will affect me the next day, etc. And I'm not even getting into more serious sins. Are you going to claim that you never consciously sin? Are you ready to be exalted?

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Originally posted by Kind Debater
                      Does perfect rationality enable one to be kind? One needs empathy as well.
                      Is God incapable of creating a being who can understand the position of another human being?
                      In order to perfectly understand all others, one would have to either be omniscient or have experienced the equivalent of thousands or millions of lives. I've been through stuff that only someone who has been through something very similar could truly understand -- not because I am so special and my feelings are so refined or whatever, but because the situations and resulting feelings were truly that bizarre. I wouldn't be able to understand the feelings of people in similar situations if I had not been through my own situations. You may well have unique experiences or feelings that I or others wouldn't be able to truly understand without experiencing them ourselves.

                      You're married. You have kids. Do you always understand why your wife and kids feel and act the way they do? Don't you ever just not get it, and they get angry with you for not understanding and reacting appropriately? i know I sometimes lose patience with my daughter because I don't know what it's like to be her and don't remember everything about being ten years old, and I don't always respond to her the way I should.

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Originally posted by Kind Debater
                      Does perfect rationality enable one to have perfect control over one's feelings and reactions?
                      It works for Spock. Well, most of the time. He is half human after all.
                      Um...was that a serious rebuttal or are you just being humorous?

                      Originally posted by 7up
                      Originally posted by Kind Debater
                      The only options besides the current world are a) God creates heaven and its permanent residents only (i.e. a world without any testing or trials) or b) God creates beings that have all divine characteristics except eternal existence.
                      If God is creating superior beings, would there be a need for testing and trials?
                      To me, that's kinda like asking "If God is creating square circles, would some of them be blue?" But to answer your question, I would guess there might be. E.g. Hebrews 2:10, Jesus was made perfect through suffering.

                      If you're trying to get at why I don't think a) is a viable option, I think there are some benefits to having tests. It brings glory to God when people choose to follow him despite being tested/tempted. Our faith is put into action when we trust God in a trial -- it's more real. Just like God's love is proven by his choosing to love sinners.

                      So in your view, when all Christians go to heaven, will there be no sin because they all have become virtual deities, or because God will keep people free from tests/temptations?
                      "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace." (Mt 13:41-42)

                      When Christians go to heaven, all our needs will be met, there will be no causes of sin and there will be no evildoers to tempt us. Therefore we will be able to live with God and not sin.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        This section of Mark Hausam's paper is important her, therefore, I will repost it.

                        "Creation ex nihilo implies a radical metaphysical dependence upon God, one that logically guarantees that the creature will not be independent from God or be capable of independent contributions to reality in the ways envisioned in Arminian thought. In fact, creation ex nihilo logically leads directly to Calvinistic determinism. So, there is a conflict between ex nihilo creation and some of the central features of the Arminian universe. The concept of “free will” allows the force of creation ex nihilo to be effectually negated so that the independence Arminianism requires can exist. It does this by creating a “causal gap” between God’s creative activity and the actual essence of our will and choices. Whatever God did in creating humans and their free agency, in the Arminian view, he did not create an unbroken causal chain from himself, or from his act of creating us and our agency, to the actual choices made by his creatures. Those choices are still undetermined by God. The reason for their existence, since they are undetermined and first-causal, cannot be anything God has done. They are not traceable to any creative action of God, but are wholly self-originated in their nature. To put it another way, the explanation for the particular choices free creatures make, in the Arminian view, cannot be found in the fact that God gave his creatures free agency. God’s act of creation was a cause that had some effects. By definition, an effect is something that exists by means of having been determined by some preceding action as its cause. If our choices are undetermined by God and first-causal by nature, they therefore cannot be effects of God’s creative activity. They cannot be explained by it or traced back to it. They are wholly self-existent or self-originated. God cannot create uncaused choices, directly or indirectly. He cannot create them directly, nor can he start in motion a chain of causes and effects that eventually leads to them, for the very simple reason that they are, by definition, uncaused or self-caused. And the choices here cannot be separated from the person choosing. Since the choice is uncaused, the will that produces the choice must be uncaused. Since God did not create (even indirectly) any of the actual choices of the will, he did not create whatever it is in the will that is the cause of the actual choices we make. Even proponents of libertarian freedom will admit, although paradoxically, that the choices we make are the results of the motivations, desires, loves, values, priorities, beliefs, etc., that constitute who we are, that make up the real essence of our actual being. That is why our choices reveal who we are. If our choices were not produced from the essence of our being, they would not be our choices fundamentally and would not reveal anything about who we are. Therefore, if God were the creator of our being or the essence of who we are, as a logically consistent account of creation ex nihilo would affirm, he would also be the creator and cause, at least indirectly, of the actual choices we make. But since these cannot be causally traced back to God, in Arminianism, the essence of who we are that our choices flow from, and thus reveal and express, must also be unable to be traced back to God or his creative activity. Whatever God created ex nihilo when he created human beings, he thus did not create that which constitutes the real essence of our being and character. So we can see that, in Arminian theology, the main implications of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo are negated and the doctrine itself is thus, in effect, relegated to practical unimportance, since the most important part of who we are, that which defines our primary essence, is not created by God, but is self-existent or self-created."
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                        Remember, the main arguments I made on this topic, which addresses my points as related to this issue are found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxOiYvKDack

                        First, I start out with the idea that even IF, choices were entirely random (like random dice) and had nothing to do at all with our created characteristics, God still determines outcomes by deciding which random cubes would exist, and which would not, .... thus simply by that creation, would determine which "choices" would be made. However, as you already admitted yourself, choices are not simply random. So, on to the next part.

                        Second, I argue that God has power over outcomes by designing every single aspect of who and what we are, as Hausam explains above, "the choices we make are the results of the motivations, desires, loves, values, priorities, beliefs, etc., that constitute who we are, that make up the real essence of our actual being. That is why our choices reveal who we are. If our choices were not produced from the essence of our being, they would not be our choices fundamentally and would not reveal anything about who we are. Therefore, if God were the creator of our being or the essence of who we are, as a logically consistent account of creation ex nihilo would affirm, he would also be the creator and cause, at least indirectly, of the actual choices we make."

                        7UP: In order to have free will, some aspect of our personal being must be uncaused. If every single aspect of who and what we are comes from God Himself, then we are exactly what God created us to be; nothing more and nothing less.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        So are you saying that a consciousness with free will can't be created, essentially by (this) definition of free will?

                        Suppose it turned out that the pre-existing intelligences you believe in were not created per se by an intelligent being, but just sort of came about by some randomized physical process. Like a primordial soup that spawns intelligences rather than cells. Would you still have free will, or would you say your will was really the "will" of the random process that spawned your intelligence?
                        It isn't creation "out of nothing", so it isn't the same kind or concept either way.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        What about animals? Do you believe they had pre-existing intelligences as well, or do they not have free will?
                        Yes. Same concept.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        ...whatever God creates, he owns (Ps 100:3, 95:5). If God created another god, he would own that god. That god would be created for God's glory (Is 43:7, 21) and God would have rights over him as he does over all his creation (Is 29:16, 45:9). Furthermore, if there was a created God, then Isaiah 40:13-14 would not apply to him (i.e. he would be a god who had gained his wisdom from his creator; Is 40:13-14 implies that God is wise in and of himself and that that's one reason why he is God and deserves worship).
                        Just apply all of these from God the Father related to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is begotten from God the Father. Does God "own" Jesus Christ? No. It is a relationship, but certainly Christ glorifies the Father. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in a certain sense, yet Christ was the creator of the Universe, and is an eternal intelligence above and beyond all the other spiritual sons of God. These scriptures do not hold up as an argument against me in the way that perhaps you had hoped, as it is comparing the wisdom of Deity against to wisdom of man.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        Pride. I know atheists who say that even if it turns out the Bible is true, they would still refuse to worship God, even if it meant eternal damnation. And the real bottom line reason is pride. They don't agree with God; they think they can stand in judgment of him and that their ways are better than his.
                        Why create ... from nothing, a being with such immense pride. Especially when knowing that creating such a being would have such detrimental results for that individual.

                        7UP: Do those individuals truly understand the full extent of the consequences to such morally wrong decisions? They may try to justify the decision in some way, but it is irrational to think that coming up with justifications will take away the consequences of those decisions.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        Seriously, 7up? You have never done something and later said (or said at the time), "Yeah, I know I shouldn't have done that"? ...
                        Do you know that staying up too late and not getting enough sleep will affect you the next day? ... Do you ever procrastinate and put off things you know you're supposed to do?
                        Yes. I make those errors. And the choices I make in those cases are entirely irrational, when considering the implications / consequences.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        In order to perfectly understand all others, one would have to either be omniscient or have experienced the equivalent of thousands or millions of lives.
                        Do you have to be a smoker in order to understand that you shouldn't smoke?

                        7UP It works for Spock. Well, most of the time. He is half human after all.


                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        Um...was that a serious rebuttal or are you just being humorous?
                        A small amount of humor. Not much.

                        7UP: If God is creating superior beings, would there be a need for testing and trials?

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        To me, that's kinda like asking "If God is creating square circles, would some of them be blue?"
                        Right, because your point of view, an omniscient and omnipotent God, who can create any kind of being from an infinite imagination, and with no limitations other than His own mind, ... sometimes a serial rapist is the best He can do.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        But to answer your question, I would guess there might be. E.g. Hebrews 2:10, Jesus was made perfect through suffering.
                        He was made perfect in suffering because he had people to suffer for. If there were no other imperfect beings to suffer for, then Jesus would still have been perfect from eternity.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        If you're trying to get at why I don't think a) is a viable option, ....
                        The reason that it isn't viable, is because God is not creating Ex Nihilo.

                        Problem solved. Let go of this non Biblical and man made dogma.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        ... I think there are some benefits to having tests. It brings glory to God when people choose to follow him despite being tested/tempted. Our faith is put into action when we trust God in a trial -- it's more real. Just like God's love is proven by his choosing to love sinners.
                        I agree with all of that. Except it would not be real in the Ex Nihilo theological framework.

                        7UP: However, I am not sure if I agree with the Stanford Encyclopedia. You cannot have a person of free will that is completely independent of the wills of others. If a man loves a woman, and wills to have a life with that woman and get married and so forth, that outcome is dependent on the woman's will as well. In that sense, the man's will is bound by the will of the girl, because it involves her participation as well.

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        I assume they meant "will" in terms of mental decisions and "action" in terms of independent steps that could be taken to bring about a desired result. E.g. the man can freely will to get married to the woman he loves, and can freely choose to work towards the desired result by asking her out, proposing, etc. but he cannot guarantee that his desire will be fulfilled. But this is a secondary issue.
                        My point is that beings of free will in reality are not entirely "independent". The choices available depend on many different factors.

                        7up: Do you have a good reason why God would purposefully create morally fallible persons and then turn around and punish those persons for being morally fallible?

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        God does not punish people for having the ability to sin, or even the propensity to sin. He punishes them for the sins they actually commit, which they theoretically have the capacity to not commit.

                        Yes, God does purposefully create people he knows are morally fallible. He doesn't create them as sinful, but he does create them as less than perfect because he "can't" create a being who would essentially be another God.
                        Before going into all of your letters, you did not answer a previous question that I gave you. Let me rephrase.

                        In the next life will you continue to sin? In the next life, will you have free will?

                        You kind of answered by saying this:

                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        When Christians go to heaven, all our needs will be met, there will be no causes of sin and there will be no evildoers to tempt us. Therefore we will be able to live with God and not sin.
                        So, would you then say that God COULD have avoided original sin (committed by Adam and Eve) , simply by "meeting all of their needs" and by taking away temptations?

                        Why not just do that from the beginning? From the picture you are painting, man ends up right where he started, from a spiritual perspective, but God just changes the environment.

                        -7up

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                          Basically, my argument is:

                          A. God is a being who possesses all "good" or "desirable" attributes to an infinite degree, e.g. a being who is omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, perfectly righteous, etc.
                          B. There is only one God.
                          C. God is the only one who is good.
                          D. Any being who possesses all such attributes to an infinite degree must, by definition, be divine, i.e. be God.
                          E. To be perfectly good in all circumstances, that is, to be able to pass all trials/tests, one must possess infinite knowledge, strength, etc.
                          F. From B and C, it follows that in order to be perfectly good, one must be God. This also follows from D and E. In other words, there are two separate proofs of F.
                          G. From F, if God created a being that was perfectly good, this being would therefore have to be God. But this is a contradiction of B (and also a contradiction of A if we include "eternal" and "unchanging" as divine attributes, per verses like Is 57:15).
                          H. From G, God cannot create a perfectly good being.

                          But also:

                          I. From A and various Bible passages, God has a divine glory due to his divine attributes.
                          J. God does not share his (divine) glory with others (Is 42:8)
                          K. If God created another God, then from I, this created God would have divine glory. But this contradicts J. Therefore God cannot create another God.
                          L. From F, if God created a perfectly good being, that being would have to be God, but this contradicts K.

                          In other words, this is a second proof of H: God cannot create a perfectly good being.
                          Isaiah 48:2 is arguably speaking about false idols, and not God's children. I have several scriptures that trump your misused citation with ease. Let me post just a couple:

                          Rom 8:16-17 "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be GLORIFIED with him."

                          2 Cor 3:18 "we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."


                          Now with your letters.

                          Most of them come down to this:

                          Your version of God is immutable, immense, metaphysically unchanging, literally omnipresent, the only substance which is uncreated, etc.

                          Therefore, even a morally perfect human being with free will would not be God, due to these attributes which classic theologians consider to be impossible for God to give to creations. So, you still would not have more than one God. So, your arguments still fall short for explaining why we live in the kind of world we live in. This is a significant reason why Christianity, as is taught in the "mainstream", is being thoroughly rejected in modern society. It cannot explain why the world is the way it is.

                          You, I suspect, will continue to contribute to the downfall of Christianity in the public sphere, because you continue to hold on to the man-made doctrines of the "creeds".

                          Have you had a debate with an agnostic/atheist on a forum lately? If so, provide me a link. In the mean time, consider this pod cast of LDS folks addressing the problem of evil and suffering:

                          http://mormonmatters.org/2012/08/15/...and-suffering/

                          -7up
                          Last edited by seven7up; 06-18-2014, 03:53 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by seven7up View Post
                            This section of Mark Hausam's paper is important her, therefore, I will repost it.

                            [COLOR="#4B0082"]"Creation ex nihilo implies a radical metaphysical dependence upon God, one that logically guarantees that the creature will not be independent from God or be capable of independent contributions to reality in the ways envisioned in Arminian thought. In fact, creation ex nihilo logically leads directly to Calvinistic determinism. So, there is a conflict between ex nihilo creation and some of the central features of the Arminian universe. The concept of “free will” allows the force of creation ex nihilo to be effectually negated so that the independence Arminianism requires can exist. It does this by creating a “causal gap” between God’s creative activity and the actual essence of our will and choices. Whatever God did in creating humans and their free agency, in the Arminian view,

                            [snip]
                            7up,

                            You need to stop responding with video clips and quoting articles as your argument. Nobody here wants to or can argue with a video clip or someone else's article. They are not here to respond.

                            Make your own arguments, and feel free to support them with quips from articles, but don't go pasting entire passages AS your argument.

                            We have a rule here at tweb against arguing by weblink and you are breaking it.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                              7up,

                              You need to stop responding with video clips and quoting articles as your argument. Nobody here wants to or can argue with a video clip or someone else's article. They are not here to respond.

                              Make your own arguments, and feel free to support them with quips from articles, but don't go pasting entire passages AS your argument.
                              Since it's the two of us on this thread, I don't mind if he posts articles. What I do mind is 1) posting the same lengthy quote for the bazillionth time and 2) argument by video/podcast. Especially when it's like three hours of podcast.

                              7up, I have already gone out of my way to listen to/watch your videos. In our previous discussion, I painstakingly went through and responded in detail to at least one of them, stopping every minute or two to write down your main point so I could respond to it on the forum. Since I have to respond in writing here, the least you can do is put the argument you want me to address in writing instead of pointing me to your video and effectively asking me to do part of your work for you.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Mark Hausam

                                If our choices are undetermined by God and first-causal by nature, they therefore cannot be effects of God’s creative activity. They cannot be explained by it or traced back to it. They are wholly self-existent or self-originated. God cannot create uncaused choices, directly or indirectly...Since God did not create (even indirectly) any of the actual choices of the will, he did not create whatever it is in the will that is the cause of the actual choices we make....if God were the creator of our being or the essence of who we are, as a logically consistent account of creation ex nihilo would affirm, he would also be the creator and cause, at least indirectly, of the actual choices we make.
                                I think you and Hausam are setting up a false dichotomy, where the only choices are a) we are uncaused causes and have free will or b) we are created by God and don't have free will.

                                I don't think we have to be an uncaused cause in order to have free will. I think God is the indirect cause of the choices we make, since he did after all create us and foreknew us and what we would do. But there is a world of difference between his being an indirect cause and a direct cause.

                                Originally posted by 7up
                                Second, I argue that God has power over outcomes by designing every single aspect of who and what we are, as Hausam explains above...
                                Why are you saying the same thing for the 10,000th time? If you think I haven't understood something about your argument, then why don't you rephrase your argument?

                                Meanwhile, I have been trying to respond to your argument, but you keep falling back to this response of "You haven't understood me, so let me say yet again that if God created every aspect of us, he must be responsible for everything we do." Have you understood my responses? If so, please demonstrate that by stating my argument in your own words.

                                7UP: In order to have free will, some aspect of our personal being must be uncaused. If every single aspect of who and what we are comes from God Himself, then we are exactly what God created us to be; nothing more and nothing less.

                                KD: So are you saying that a consciousness with free will can't be created, essentially by (this) definition of free will?

                                Suppose it turned out that the pre-existing intelligences you believe in were not created per se by an intelligent being, but just sort of came about by some randomized physical process. Like a primordial soup that spawns intelligences rather than cells. Would you still have free will, or would you say your will was really the "will" of the random process that spawned your intelligence?

                                7UP: It isn't creation "out of nothing", so it isn't the same kind or concept either way.

                                I am asking these questions because I'm trying to understand your viewpoint better. I would appreciate you going into a bit more detail here.

                                So by "caused" and "uncaused" in regards to your first statement, do you really mean "designed" and "undesigned"? So far we have, in your view:

                                Soul/intelligence "just is" -> free will
                                Soul/intelligence purposefully created by God -> no free will

                                So if the soul/intelligence wasn't, technically speaking, an uncaused cause, but came about in some fashion that didn't involve intelligent design, would it have free will? And would it have free will because it wasn't purposefully designed (i.e. no one else's will was involved in its creation)?

                                Originally posted by 7up
                                Originally posted by KD
                                What about animals? Do you believe they had pre-existing intelligences as well, or do they not have free will?
                                Yes. Same concept.
                                Yes what? In your theology, do animals have pre-existing intelligences?

                                I don't have a lot of time left this morning, so let me answer your question here briefly:

                                Originally posted by 7up
                                Before going into all of your letters, you did not answer a previous question that I gave you. Let me rephrase.

                                In the next life will you continue to sin? In the next life, will you have free will?

                                You kind of answered by saying this:

                                Originally posted by KD
                                When Christians go to heaven, all our needs will be met, there will be no causes of sin and there will be no evildoers to tempt us. Therefore we will be able to live with God and not sin.
                                So, would you then say that God COULD have avoided original sin (committed by Adam and Eve) , simply by "meeting all of their needs" and by taking away temptations?

                                Why not just do that from the beginning? From the picture you are painting, man ends up right where he started, from a spiritual perspective, but God just changes the environment.
                                I did mean to answer your question; I wasn't trying to be evasive. In heaven, people won't continue to sin but will have free will. (Not sure about people in hell.)

                                As for Adam and Eve, I think they were tested by God (the tree) and tempted by Satan. If they weren't tempted, I don't know if they would have eventually failed the test on their own or not. If they were in heaven (no temptation or tests) then they wouldn't sin.

                                Why didn't God do that from the beginning? I will have to go into more detail in my next post, but I explained it before when I was going into my theodicy. God demonstrates his love for us by proving that he loves us even when we sin, in fact and not just in theory. God puts his perfect attributes into action by forgiving, being patient and merciful, punishing sin, etc.

                                All that is something I first had to address many years ago, back in the late 20th century when I first ventured onto alt.atheism.moderated and got interested in apologetics. One of the first hard questions I got was "If we have free will in heaven, why didn't God just create heaven?" I've been evolving my theodicy since then. I haven't gotten around to rewriting it lately, but you can see the current version on my website at http://rationalchristianity.net/evil.html (as well as a whole bunch of other stuff, like my article on hell which I'm also in the process of revising: http://rationalchristianity.net/hell.html).

                                Originally posted by 7up
                                Have you had a debate with an agnostic/atheist on a forum lately? If so, provide me a link.
                                No, not lately; the last debate with an atheist I had was in email over a year ago. I've been debating you instead, and slowly working on revising some stuff on my website. Why do you ask?

                                I will respond to the rest of your post later.
                                Last edited by Kind Debater; 06-18-2014, 11:33 AM.

                                Comment

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