Sketches on Atheism

The Owner of All Infernal Names

From the book, The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of our Omnimalevoent Creator

Little Girl StretchedIt has been said that in a universe which simultaneously contains obscene levels of seemingly meaningless misery, and creatures endowed with the capacity to know it is meaninglessly miserable, that only two explanations face all facts[1]: the Christian position, which suggests this is a good world conferred by a benevolent being who has man’s best interests at heart, but which has—for one reason or another—gone terribly, terribly wrong; and that of dualism, which proposes that there exists two equal and independent powers (one good, the other bad) pushing everything, and that this universe is the battlefield over which these opposing forces wage an endless war.

Both suppositions are conspicuously incomplete, the first moreso than the second. Birthed in a riotous sea of heat and violence, this world was never good, never peaceful, never without suffering, pain and anxiety. There was never an armistice between all living and not-so living things, nor can evidence be found to suggest there ever was—or still is—a loosely balanced war tumbling across Creation with the advantage swinging between the forces of light and happiness, and those of darkness and misery. Fire has always burned flesh, water has always drowned babies, and Creation has only ever exhibited but one impulse, one motive, one direction: towards increasing complexity, where complexity—across all systems, animate and inanimate—corresponds precisely to the degree and depth of potential suffering available to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited.

From heat and protons, to hearts, central nervous systems, minds and cluster bombs, this is Creation’s single compulsion, its one and only passion; a relentless, arguably reckless passage from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where multiplicity—and the specialisation it affords—parents a wretched and forever diversifying family of more devoted fears and faithful anxieties, more pervasive ailments and skilful parasites, more virulent toxins, more capable diseases, and more affectionate expressions of pain, ruin, psychosis and loss. In the simplest possible statement: Creation is a vast entanglement apparatus—a complexity machine[2]—whose single-minded mindless state of employment is geared entirely towards a greater potency and efficiency in the delivery and experience of misery and confusion, not harmony and peaceful accord.

If this were not the case, if Creation’s stubborn obsession was in fact towards the production of less suffering and anxiety and pain over time, even if only in those ages when the theorised forces of good held the high ground, then observers of every kind would have already seen, collected and assembled immense libraries of hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. Such paradigmatic shifts would be exampled in a multitude of different flavours and pedigrees, including perhaps innovations like green chlorophyll-laced skin, rather than sharper, stronger, longer talons designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to more competently steal from another’s living flesh the proteins required to sustain the complex life which has no choice but to evolve and grow more complicated with every passing generation. In the earthly theatre the observer would witness nature favouring adaptations that promoted good will and kinship through simplicity, not the heaping on of rewards to those organisms that developed more devious weapons, cleverer poisons, or massive and prohibitively expensive brains capable of envisioning discrete parcels of manufactured destruction that could be thrown anonymously over horizons.

Clearly, both theses are deeply and deliriously deficient. The Christian position, with its forever expanding treasury of inventive theodicies, and that of dualism, cannot satisfactorily or convincingly explain the world around us; the world that is, has been, and will be. At the same time, both are, however, also stained with enough half-truth to at the very least indicate a third, more consistent, more durable, demonstrable, enormously distasteful, but ultimately unavoidable alternative: that this world was brought into existence by a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose nutritional, emotional and entertainment needs are satisfied best by the suffering which pervades all of Creation, and whose single-minded objective is to amplify His pleasure-taking over time.

Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement, arousal and nutritional satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

 

References

[1] Lewis, C. S., 1952, Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, pp 313

[2] Smith, Kelly C., 2014, ‘Manifest complexity: A foundational ethic for astrobiology?,’ Science Direct, Volume 30, Issue 4, November, pp. 209—214

 

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164 thoughts on “The Owner of All Infernal Names

  1. I’ve just bought the Kindle version. I look forward to reading more. Your work reads so beautifully, my marvellous friend. I’m proud of you for getting this done. 🙂

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  2. In competition with “The least read best seller” … I hope your book does much much better than simply scoring a place in history as “The least sold best reader”.

    Does it have lust, incest, sex, depravity? No? Then you’re four counts down already against the almighty Bible; and if all you can offer is Man himself facing a hostile universe alone without a loving eternal omnipotent Father and an eternal blissful Paradise … man, do you ever need a better editor~!

    Sheesh, even the desert folks have eternal booze and sex (beats harps and flowers any day). It’s not yet too late to take a leaf from the Abrahamic works—go on, work in some ‘human touch’ stuff, illicit nookie and booze for starters, blood-thirsty spiritual beings as sustainers.

    And go easy on this rationality stuff—people in the main won’t buy it. Miracles sell, remember~!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John posts to my blog…

    “Roy, hope you’re doing well. It’s been a while.

    My book is finished and out: The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator.

    I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts and/or rebuttal to the thesis.

    I just posted a part of the Introduction to the Argument on my blog, and all the links are in the cover icon.

    Hope to hear from you soon, John.”

    ***

    Hello John. I’m well, happy and full, thank you.

    I read your thesis and its just more of the same as in every other post…bashing the Christian God. It’s like you have a nail 3 miles long and you spend your entire life hammering on that 3 mile long nail. I’m afraid you’ll never get that nail hammered all the way in. You’ll never know the satisfaction of finishing that job well done, just always hammering.

    A lot of what you say is true; men and war killing in the name of their God, extreme bad weather killing people, viruses and parasites killing people, starvation, poverty, birth defects, incest, rape, and on and on and on, misery and death, so you cry out: WHY GOD?, and you get no answer. You then assume this to mean no proof-no God. You ask, “Why does God allow evil?” The reason there’s no satisfactory answer is that it is not a satisfactory question. A blessed and proper question will always yield a blessed and proper answer. The open-hearted and fair way of asking this question is, “Does God allow evil?” The answer is NO. God does not allow evil!

    Mans pride and arrogance, his greed and selfishness, his violence and brutality widens the gap between us and the Creator. We pollute our oceans and rivers, we create deadly chemicals that kill our planet, wildlife and humans, we kill each other, yet we were given a very simple command to just love each other. This refusal by some in our family will bring judgement, there will be an end to all the madness you refer to John one day.

    We are all related, we are all family, brothers and sisters in a grand community we call Earth. We all breath the same air, we drink the same water and we eat the same food. Most of us want peace with our neighbor, we want to cherish our loved ones, raise our kids to live in honor and respect and one day pamper our grandchildren. In my mind our primary goal should be to create, not destroy. We should build each other up, not tear each other down. Our failure to heed Gods greatest command self-evident.

    Anyway, I wish you and yours wellness and prosperity my friend.

    Leroy

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    • John, you have infidels commenting on your blog who have not read your book. The Qur’an has a message for christian infidels like Leroy: 2:120: “Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: “Verily, Islâmic Guidance is the only Guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allâh neither any protector nor helper.”
      May you be burned in the eternal fires of Hell for your evil sins against the One True God, Allah, Mr. Leroy. I hope you enjoy the smell of your own flesh burning from your bones for eternity. You believe in a lie of evil. Your thinking you are right makes you no less wrong. May Allah show mercy on you on the day of your death, but I bet He will not. You christian, arrogant infidels are a virus to Allah, and He will torture you for eternity for it. There is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is His Prophet.

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    • Hi Roy,

      I’m afraid to say you haven’t quite understood the thesis. No one is crying out, “Why God!?” as you have suggested. Such emotional outbursts are of no interest to me. I have sought to explain the world that is, not the world that is not.

      If you can get over this first mental hurdle then you might be able to begin a genuine exploration of the thesis.

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      • I understand your thesis just fine…

        The universe contains both meaningless misery and creatures that know this.

        You then offer two explanations, 1) Christians defer to God, His plan, and the fact we can not fully know His mind or why He allows/does what he allows/does. And 2) Dualism, the fact our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.

        You then go one to explain your position why both explanations are wrong.

        So I understand perfectly. You do not like the misery, you can not find a meaningful explanation and you reject any explanation and solution provided by Gods word.

        You are very talented writer John. You have a gift very, VERY, few people have. You are a master wordsmith able to create a tale using words not used in everyday conversation. But over and over again you keep kicking a dead horse, or hammering that 3 mile long nail. I think it is such a waste of talent. I think we all get it already, you don’t believe in the Christian God. Fine. But I’d love to read something entertaining, maybe a tale of lost and re-found love, or a tragedy that turns into hope, or perhaps a fictional tale of a child given up for adoption and later in adulthood reunited. Give me hope, tug at my heart strings, inspire me to become better and love more. Please do something positive and uplifting with your tremendous talent. Surely something else interests you being there are many fiction genres to choose from. Please don’t leave this world with a legacy of a talented writer hung up on bashing people of faith.

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      • Thanks for those kind words, Roy, but the thing is, I’m not inventing anything here, and I’m certainly not “bashing” Christianity. Your religion has nothing whatsoever to do with this treatise. The Creator exists. Yes! But I am not, and never was, talking about your god. I am not saying your god is evil. Your god does not exist. It was only ever a secondary invention, a grinning wicker man thrown together in antiquity and stood in place as a chimerical response to a world whose everyday works betray the fantasy in every possible way. Please, get that into your head. We are discussing here the Creator; a nameless being who may be simply referred to as The Owner of All Infernal Names.

        Let me put it this way: without need for an alibi, scapegoat, hastily arranged apology, or laboured advocacy Malevolence explains this world. Where the Christian theologian is forced to rescue an incompetent spirit who has, for one imaginative reason or another, lost total control of his creation, the gospel of the malevolent hand stands unchaste, uncontaminated, and inviolable. As an explanation for the world that has been, is, and will be, malevolence is complete. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a cover story or inventive pretext.

        This is simply a teleological report. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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  4. John:

    The proposition of good and evil is not a functional moral dichotomy – there is simply too much conditionality in moral analysis. I think that there are really only two principles that inform a meaningful moral dialog. The first is power – the capacity to make reality conform to our will. The second is love – an irrational desire to create power in the object of our affection. Moral analysis focuses on “who are you loving with your exercise of power?” The ultimate moral condemnation is “only yourself.”

    I do not deny that the world is full of pain, but that is an inheritance from our Darwinian past, which is a process free of morality. In Genesis, when the Bible heralds the Fall as the entry of sin into the world, it is to recognize a separation from that past into a future of rational moral analysis. “Adam and Eve” are a metaphor for the human struggle with shame, guilt, forgiveness and redemption (all in the context of human society – God doesn’t need to deal with these issues).

    The question is whether there is a force that lifts us up from brutal biological competition toward rational moral discourse. The Christian proposition is that Jesus came and died to demonstrate that there is nothing that can alienate us from God’s love or qualify us for preferential treatment in his eyes. This was demonstrated even in the face of murder at the hands of the culture that he came most immediately to love. His victory was to create a foothold for divine love in the world, and that foothold has broadened enormously over time.

    So my response to your position is: yes, things are still bad, but they are far better than they were. It is only by looking at the trends that one can form a judgment concerning the efficacy of love. I experience its power day-by-day in a world that you seem to not to experience.

    You have a great deal of intellectual energy, which you seem to focus toward the purpose of creating pain in others. My experience is that such people often are “doing as was done unto them”, looking for someone strong enough to show them how to heal. I can only offer Hume’s response to Hobbes (the latter whom you echo, btw). Hobbes averred that life for most was a “war of all against all” and “nasty, brutish and short.” Hume’s response was: “Mr. Hobbes has forgotten the operation of his own heart.”

    If you want a person committed to the proposition of loving to read your book, you should start by offering a testimony regarding the things that you do love. That’s a point of contact that might allow them to engage your view of the world.

    As it is, those of us that love have improved enormously the condition of life on this Earth. We’re at a turning point in that process, having nearly exhausted the resources that were laid up in the past. Under those circumstances, it will ultimately be those that learn to work together that survive.

    Brian

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    • Hi Brian, good to see you, and thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’ll attempt to answer your points as best as I can, but unfortunately, I must make a note that as you haven’t actually read the treatise this discussion will be severely limited.

      First up, one must disregard all common concepts of morality. Good and bad are meaningless in this thesis, and any deferral to such terrestrial notions will only create confusion. Simply put, the concepts of good and bad simply don’t apply here. What may be termed “moral” and “natural” good do exist, certainly, but they exist only as a mechanism to greater expressions of pain, confusion and suffering. I demonstrate this in the book using a number of examples which you may challenge if you believe you can.

      Now, it is difficult, I understand, but you must jettison all belief systems you have and come completely afresh to an open canvas to grasp what is being presented. Please don’t take this as a dismissal of your position, of your appeal to some moral dialogue, but you will fully understand my words here once you’ve read the book.

      Secondly, you reference the “Fall” as taught in your particular religion. That, too, is entirely meaningless here. I will note, though, it’s a perfect example of your religion only being able to stand with the support of inventive theodicies, or what others would simply call, excuses: creative alibis and imaginative pretexts for why things are not as they should be if matter had been persuaded to behave by a benevolent hand, rather than a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator.

      Brian, a genuine truth does not tolerate excuses. A truth that requires annotation is not a truth, but a fabrication. My thesis requires no excuse, and by this fact alone it already surpasses any theological explanation you can present. You see, you have to defend an incompetent spirit who has lost complete control of his creation. I don’t have to defend The Owner of All Infernal Names. The world explains itself.

      But again, you will have to read the thesis to comprehend this point.

      Consider Paley’s words: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer.

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      • John:

        Thank you for your considered response. I find myself, however, still seeking a declaration of the allegiance of your love.

        Truth is indeed terribly important. Those that divorce themselves from truth ultimately abandon power (the ability to make reality conform to their will). For those that love, the truth of suffering is an essential goad to action. But truth is only what it is. The goal of any active intelligence is to create new truth. It is through creative action that I find greatest meaning in life, and my ability to create is largely contingent (in the “no man is an island” sense) on the good will of others. That means offering them good will in return.

        From a Christian perspective: yes, in its foundational state, this creation was indeed a reflection of Lucifer’s character. But I see the action of Divine Love in the mechanisms that are provided to heal his insanity. It is that simple existence of that possibility that I celebrate.

        Good luck on your journey!

        Brian

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      • Hi Brian

        The “allegiance of my love” bears no import to this thesis. I see you’re a physicist. Do you look to understand someone’s tastes or style in fashion before assessing the merit of their papers? I should think not, and the same impartial approach should apply here. Interestingly, though, the book proceeds from the Impartial Observer’s perspective, and her description reads as such:

        “Unspoiled by the crude needs of ordinary men, the truly detached, uncoloured, exhaustively indifferent observer—the Impartial Observer—answers, No, and promptly moves on with her survey. Immune to the distracting effects of beauty, vice and ugliness, she is the disinterested chronicler, a biographer for genius, yet without sentiment for that cleverness or opinion concerning aesthetics. She knows only that she must take the next step forward, free and unhindered by impressions of the last, untroubled for where that next step—and the unknown number of steps after that—may lead …. Regardless then of how bitter or uncomfortable or ill-fitting an answer may be, irrespective of its hazard or grotesqueness, the Impartial Observer’s only duty is to open the shutter and let the photons pour in: uncensored.”

        I hope that section satisfies you and we can move on.

        Now, let me say, I enjoy your thoughts. You appear to be a sound man with good intentions. That’s to be admired, but expressing your personal opinions and theories matter not to this dialogue. A thesis has been presented, an appraisal of the world that is from a perfectly impartial perspective. Your particular religion means nothing to this thesis. If you are able to, I’d enjoy addressing any coherent, formal rebuttal you might try to mount to that thesis, but I’d urge you to leave your personal theology out of it. It’s meaningless here.

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      • Brian, but the religious do not honour the space of others. The absolute opposite is in fact the case. Are you suggesting the Christian or Muslim apologist should be permitted the freedom to engage the heathens, but not I?

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      • I applaud you for being able to generate such long, thought-out comments about your book from people who haven’t read it. I wonder if Hemingway had this problem? “Man, that ‘Farewell To Arms’ sure must be awful. Who the hell wants to read a book about some dude’s arms falling off? Not me. No siree. Book is awful and the author is completely wrong about his central thesis, which, of course, I haven’t read.”

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  5. John:

    I am not a hypocrite. I have my arguments with the Christian and Muslim apologist, as many of them have corrupted the divine message with recidivism that serves your “owner of all infernal names.” Surely such a powerful being would be expected to defend his reign?

    As for the comment from Inspired by the Divine:

    I am still waiting for a meaningful value proposition. I see no reason to read a book simply to satisfy those that insult my integrity. This whole dialog might be interpreted as an attempt to counsel Mr. Zonde on his marketing methods, and you should be aware that YOU’RE NOT HELPING.

    I think that I understand Mr. Zonde’s intentions as consistent with those I outlined in a blog post title “The Indications of Atheism.” Many among the faithful do take a polyannish view of the world, and hope for someone to come in with a magic wand to clean up the mess that we’re making. A clear-eyed reading of the Book of Revelation clearly reveals “that ain’t gonna happen.”

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    • Hi Brian

      I fear you might be a little confused here. I’m not arguing against the existence of the gods, rather for the certain existence of the Supreme Creator of the Universe. I have conducted an honest teleological survey of this Creation and my conclusions are sound and robust, rigid and clear. If you choose to try and prove the Creator does not exist, then by all means proceed. I’d be thrilled to hear any spirited argument you might be able to present.

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      • OK. Now we’re getting somewhere. So tell me the allegiance of your love and I can posit a natural target audience. It’s always easiest to sell things to people who feel sympathy from you. That can be feigned, but counseling sociopathy offends my morality.

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      • Do you read my comments, Brian?

        I have already answered this query of yours. And to save you time, i don’t require advice on targeting. But thanks for the offer, anyway. Its appreciated.

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      • It would seem then that you are freely acknowledging that those beliefs which you hold dear today are too fragile—too brittle and unsound—to be challenged by an alternative, clearly superior thesis.

        For what it is worth, I can appreciate and, in many genuine ways, even sympathise with the thorny position you have found yourself in here. Those susceptible to superstitions, such as yourself, generally find it tremendously difficult to move beyond the comforting madness of false associations.

        Good luck to you, Brian, and travel well.

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      • The only true test of truth is the power available to those that wield it. This is a scientific proposition to which I am willing to submit. My mind remains open, but I am not going to deny myself. I’ll see you on the other side.

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      • Precisely! Thank you, Brian, you just verified the thesis beautifully. The quite brilliant Thomas Malthus also sniffed at a sense of the true arrangement available to all contingent things in Creation:

        “The greatest talents have been frequently misapplied and have produced evil proportionate to the extent of their powers.”
        —Thomas Malthus

        to produce evil proportionate to the extent of their powers… See how it works?

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      • I agree that it is far easier to break something than to create (and Malthus said frequently, not universally).

        For me, it boils down to the statement made by Neo in response to Smith at the end of the third Matrix movie.

        Mr Smith: “Why, Mr. Anderson, why do you persist?”

        Neo: “Because I choose to.”

        It is in that choosing that I believe human greatness is born. To willfully destroy (sin) is infernal, to create (forgive) divine. We could be destroyed at any moment, it is true, but we live in forbearance that has endured for billions of years. We have this life as an opportunity to create ourselves. In choosing not to be awed by destruction, I find joy and power in that creation.

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      • Hi Brian,

        Again, you have beautifully nailed a part of the thesis. Yes, hope and persistence is essential to the Omnimalevolent Creator. If neither men nor beast ever tasted victory they would slowly, but eventually, cease striving for it. Where hope exists so too does activity, and from the enormous perspective of The Owner of All Infernal Names, hope is to be favoured over ruin, dreams preferred over nightmares, for in the larger narrative—the only narrative that truly matters—it is hope and pleasant forecasts that is the surest possible path to the greatest possible harvest.

        An extract from the book:

        Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed. Prospects and aspirations and expectations must be birthed and floated before they can be overwhelmed and drowned. Optimism must be established, plans mapped out, investments made and ambitious journeys launched before a thousand and one profitable little deaths can be delivered. A population must be fattened before it can be starved. A revolution, like an ignorant wide-eyed child, must be set free before it can be ravished by ghouls of every shape and colour. One and a half billion people must be fed and protected to some degree of satisfaction—a precious few even allowed to live spectacular lives in idyllic settings free from any and all concerns—so the six and half billion thirsty, starving, sick, war-torn, homeless, and displaced can recognise and appreciate their sorrowful lot . Impossibly courageous adventures must have, at the very least, some scent of imaginable success or else the adventurer would never unfurl his incomplete map and wonder, what if…

        Perhaps now you’re starting to see the truth…

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      • Arkenaten: I believe that it’s revealed all around us. It’s hard to discern for two reasons: It’s a party line that we insist on shouting over; and for many it’s not enough to hear the message – we have to reduce it the scope of our understanding. So I don’t think that it’s privileged to any one culture or tradition, and as John and I have evolved our conversation, it should be clear that I wouldn’t insist that others try to do what doesn’t work for them. Our individual experience must be honored.

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      • Revealed all around us?
        Hello? That’s called evolution. Look it up, sweetheart. You’ll find it under ‘E’ in the dictionary.
        Honour your christian Individual experience? Hmm, really?

        As christians have had 2000 plus frakking years on their soapbox insisting this oh-so-beautiful individual experience be indoctrinated into humanity by any and all means possible, including several near genocidal campaigns of heretical believers, such as the Cathars, and a few indigenous peoples , maybe it’s about time you took this ”individual experience” and shoved it up your ”individual” gazoo?

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      • I’m talking about the half of evolution that Darwin missed – the evolution of the soul. That you believe that the maturation of human nature should be attained in a day or 2000 years indicates that you don’t recognize that part of the process either. That you blame me for the entire history of Christianity is simply bizarre. I didn’t make a Christian statement – a made a statement about spirituality. I won’t invest energy in debunking the rest of what you’ve said, and I’ll honor Zonde’s turf by simply bowing out of this forum.

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      • Brian, if I may briefly jump in here. What are you basing your claims of a soul on? (or are you more referring to a moral/ethical code?) The Templeton Foundation has over the last 25 years spent well over US$1 billion financing studies that have sought to find some evidence of it. They have found nothing. Now, I support the TF. I like that it funds crazy projects. No government could possibly justifiy such outlays, and to know private money is there to fill this need is great. I think what they do is wonderful. Everything should be researched, every possibility explored. But as there exists no evidence whatsoever of a soul, I’m curious to know upon what grounds you’re making this apparent statement of fact on.

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      • Blame you for christianity? I said nothing of the sort.
        Oh, and if you wish to ”honour” John you could start by having the good manners to apologise for not having the letter ”a” on your keyboard. His surname is Zande, dipstick.

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  6. I don’t know what in the world possessed you to turn an argument you decisively and unequivocally lost (an argument that is based entirely on the Hasty Generalization logical fallacy, as I’ve already demonstrated) into a book, but so be it (congrats?).

    I certainly hope you don’t expect me to buy the book, given how little your introduction here offers on top of what was already said about a year ago. Since you offer nothing new in this introduction, as far as logical thinking is concerned, all I can do is refer you back to the comment where your argument has been thoroughly demolished, here: https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/the-omnimalevolent-creator-and-the-problem-of-good/comment-page-2/#comment-16327
    On the other hand, if you care for sound reasoning, here is a little exercise for you: try refuting the simple metaphysical concept of the Natural (Divine) Order presented here: http://www.geopolitics.us/living-in-perfect-harmony/

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    • Big, fabulous to see you! I see you’re still categorically delusional, although I would have been truly and genuinely surprised if you weren’t. You’re type of refined madness is though welcomed, and I do hope you will rise to the challenge and mount a spirited and formal counterargument to the treatise presented. I think you’ll find it more than just robust, and although I doubt you can address the thesis as a whole (what was the extent of your last counterargument? “But, but, but, but we can change!” and my favourite, “In the future, humans will adore earthquakes!”), you might, just might, have the capacity to stimulate a refinement of some obscure side-notes.

      I look forward to it.

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      • Your book seriously baffles me. I mean, unless you were somehow under the impression that the main flaw with your argument was that it wasn’t long-winded enough, and decided to spread it out on 180 pages to rectify this issue, this whole turn of events is entirely inexplicable (my theory is that you are driven by an insatiable need to waste other people’s time – a sort of extreme trolling taken to the next level).

        The fatal flaw of your argument was – and remains – the fact that it is constructed entirely on a logical fallacy known as Hasty Generalization. Now, unless you can kindly point me to the section in your book (or better yet, post it here) where you convincingly address this issue (since you decisively failed to do so in our conversation), I see no reason to waste any time (or money) on reading 180 pages of a “robust” argument that is fundamentally logically flawed. As it stands, there is no reason to rebut that which has already been thoroughly discredited.

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      • Hi Big,

        I’m glad you’re baffled, but I see you haven’t evolved one inch, have you? Still erecting arguments that don’t exist then masterfully bringing them down… A drama which plays out in one place, and one place only: in your own head. Hurrah! If I recall, here is how I dealt with your rather bizarre claim last year:

        “Alert every psychiatrist’s office in Vienna, we have a textbook case of projection! Would you like me to recap my summary of your failures in the traffic fatalities “case” which you so hastily raced into, and now most certainly regret? Your hastily, naïve assumption that the US represented the world. Your hastily, naïve assumption that traffic fatalities alone constituted the market of suffering. Your hastily, naïve assumption that markets can’t mature and settle into a state of stable income generation (Cash Cows) where hundreds-of-millions of bodies are processed through varying degrees of suffering and distress unheard of just 100 years before. Your hastily, naïve omission that billions upon billions of sentient creatures are also inside this complex matrix, as well as entire ecosystems thrown at the mercy of Big Oil and corrupted politicians.”

        Now, let’s be serious. I’m not interested in your dancing. You either engage the treatise like an adult and present a formal, coherent rebuttal, or you don’t. Your choice. Unlike your poetic but otherwise substanceless flights of fancy, I present a host of real world examples to prove the thesis, but I’m not going to drip feed you here.

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      • Let the record show that you failed to present anything even remotely similar to a rebuttal regarding the Hasty Generalization that your entire thesis is based on.

        All you demonstrated in that reply is that you don’t understand what the Hasty Generalization logical fallacy is. You then proceeded, in a textbook case of intellectual fraud, to make baseless assertions about my argument that have nothing to do with anything I said (I never said or assumed any of the statements you falsely attributed to me). And for what purpose? All to cover up for the fact that I demolished your initial assertion that “More bodies, doing more things, over longer times = suffering must increase.”

        I presented this simple case study which utterly debunked your claim:

        “as you know, every year we have more and more cars on the road in the US, traveling more miles, and longer distances. According to your argument this MUST mean that there should be more suffering (let’s say, in the form of more deaths from road accidents). Sure, there could be less deaths relative to the size of the growing population. But the ABSOLUTE number of deaths and injuries absolutely must increase. Otherwise, your argument is total bunk.”

        I then showed that the trend of deaths from car accidents is declining, and has been declining for decades.

        You then responded to this fact with a lie:

        “since 1899 the general trend is: up, up, and up!”

        Once I exposed your lie you didn’t admit your error, as any intellectually honest debater would. No. You simply proceeded to make up another lie. Namely, that the trend of people injured is increasing:

        Let’s look at injuries, shall we. 2,239,000! That’s two-million, two-hundred and thirty-nine thousand broken and maimed bodies, many quadriplegic, many more paraplegic, families who’ve lives have been turned upside down, and not to mention jobs lost and bankruptcy due to medical bills.

        I then exposed your lie once again:

        Please tell me, which number is greater: 3,332,000 (injured in road vehicles in the US in 1996), or 2,239,000 (injured in road vehicles in the US in 2013)

        Once you answer that question, please tell me, which number is greater:
        265,228,572 (US population in 1996) or 316,668,567 (US population in 2013).

        Then explain to me again how that fits into your argument that “More bodies doing more things over a longer time” = “suffering must increase.”

        Once your second lie was exposed, you then proceeded to make up a third lie:

        “Great! Injuries in the US have decreased in the last decade from over three million to over two million. Wonderful news! … Only a fool would, however, claim the numbers are marching backwards, rather they have plateaued, which in marketing terms means it’s a mature Cash Cow”

        Now, of course there is absolutely no evidence that the numbers have plateaued. This is simply another lie you came up with because you couldn’t own up to the fact that you lied twice before and were exposed for lying (that is, lied twice in this inconsequential case study alone!).

        And all these lies for what reason? To distract from the fact that there was nothing left of your claim that: “More bodies, doing more things, over longer times” = “suffering must increase.”

        You then proceeded to make more disingenuous claims about how US car fatalities don’t represent the world. A meaningless claim because a) car fatalities in most, if not all, of the developed world have been declining for decades as well (and in many places at rates much steeper than in the US), b) because the US is a mostly self-contained test lab, (car accidents in the US have nearly no effect on car accidents in Azerbaijan or Somalia), which makes it a meaningful dataset where you can examine effects of policy, car technology, etc., and c) because US car fatalities don’t have to represent the world. They merely have to show that your principle “More bodies, doing more things, over longer times” = “suffering must increase” doesn’t hold. And it does so quite well.

        Of course, I didn’t bother explaining these evident points to you at the time, since I knew you care little for logical reasoning, and would simply ignore them and proceed with your usual diversion tactics designed to distract from the fact that your entire theory is build on a logical fallacy.

        Which brings us to your carefully pruned self-quote. Here it is again:

        “Alert every psychiatrist’s office in Vienna, we have a textbook case of projection! Would you like me to recap my summary of your failures in the traffic fatalities “case” which you so hastily raced into, and now most certainly regret? Your hastily, naïve assumption that the US represented the world. Your hastily, naïve assumption that traffic fatalities alone constituted the market of suffering. Your hastily, naïve assumption that markets can’t mature and settle into a state of stable income generation (Cash Cows) where hundreds-of-millions of bodies are processed through varying degrees of suffering and distress unheard of just 100 years before. Your hastily, naïve omission that billions upon billions of sentient creatures are also inside this complex matrix, as well as entire ecosystems thrown at the mercy of Big Oil and corrupted politicians.”

        Do any of these disingenuous assertions ever address the topic of the case study, that: “More bodies, doing more things, over longer times” = “suffering must increase.” Nope. The case study clearly showed that “More bodies, doing more things, over longer times” ≠ “suffering must increase” (there are certainly countless more examples like this one, but one example is sufficient to demonstrate that your principle doesn’t hold).

        But more than that, your quote showcases your deceitful debating tactics. Instead of addressing the fatal flaw of your central argument, you preferred to divert attention from it, and manipulate a sub-argument (which you decisively lost as well) to deceive the unsuspecting reader into thinking that you’re actually somehow winning the debate. Thus you demonstrate why it is futile to debate a troll like you. You lack the maturity or intellectual integrity to warrant any further rebuttals to your already thoroughly debunked argument.

        And since I can only conclude from your comment above that your book does not address the fatal flaw of your argument – namely, the Hasty Generalization logical fallacy that is at the core of your argument – I see no point to further refute what has already been thoroughly refuted.

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      • Oh dear, Big, all that and you omit the most important part. Don’t you remember, the World Health Organisation’s published prediction for road deaths? LOL!

        Here, let me refresh your memory, as written on June 18th, 2014:

        “the World Health Organisation estimates global traffic deaths will increase from 1.24 million to 1.9 million by 2020. Now, if we take two-million injuries correlating to 35,000 deaths (in the US), then by a very rough (extremely conservative) approximation we should be expecting a blooming of injuries from about 70 million to 115 million per year. That’s one-hundred and fifteen million shattered lives, up by about forty-five million from today, per year.”

        Of course, I then went on to detail the horrendous carnage of animal life killed and maimed on roads, and environmental degradation caused by more cars (more bodies doing more things) but you didn’t seem to consider animal suffering or ecological destruction particularly important.

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      • Classical example of a meaningless dataset. How are WHO estimates relevant to the US case? How do road conditions in Tajikistan affect car accidents in the US, or to other developed countries, where deaths and injuries have been steadily declining? In the long term, are developed countries likely to follow the steps of developing countries, or the other way around? A meaningless statistic that tells absolutely nothing about long-term trends anywhere in the world. Yet another example of the Hasty Generalization logical fallacy.

        Also, do you have any evidence to show that the trend of animals killed by cars is increasing in the US? Obviously you don’t. But these are the kinds of things your argument has to demonstrate. And not just for the next 5 years, but for the next 100 years, and 5 billion years. That is the lofty goal your theory purports to address (and miserably fails at doing so).

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      • Meaningless dataset? You mean, “facts”? LOL!

        And yes, I do have meaningless datasets for road kills. Here’s the section from the book:

        “It is estimated that 340 million mammals and reptiles and another 340 million birds are killed on U.S. roads every year—roughly 700 million lives extinguished every 365 days, not including the billions left injured, orphaned, and irreversibly maimed.”

        As you can see, it’s even higher, vastly higher than I estimated last year.

        See:

        Wollan, Malia, 2010, “Mapping Traffic’s Toll on Wildlife,” New York Times, Sept.

        Scott R. Loss, Tom Will, and Peter P. Marra, 2014, ‘Estimation of bird-vehicle collision mortality on U.S. roads,’ The Journal of Wildlife Management, Volume 78, Issue 5, July, pp. 763–771

        Now, do bear in mind, Big, that is just for the US. You want to know how many new cars China is adding every month? Want to know how many new cars India is adding every month?

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      • That’s not what I asked now, is it? I asked for evidence of an increasing trend. You have none. The NYT article says the following:

        “Estimates for just how many run-ins occur each year vary widely.

        The Humane Society of the United States estimates that a million animals are killed by vehicles every day, while a 2008 Federal Highway Administration report puts the number of accidents with large animals between one million and two million a year.”

        Not exactly evidence for an increasing trend.

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  7. My god, man, you can write. As for beliefs, I fall into the “what the hell do I know?” camp, but I’m sure this will be a rousing read. I’ll let my better half go first, since if I read it, I’m sure I’ll get everything wrong anyway. Best to let smarter minds explain it to me. It’s a bit like hollering into a thimble with a megaphone.

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  8. Hi John,

    What’s wrong with atheism? I found your blog from stumbling across The Big Picture’s blog, and you both seem as “categorically delusional” as each other, just about the opposite half of the glass. One of you sees increasing harmony in the world, of which there is some evidence, and concludes an incomprehensible (to me) version of nature-worship hardly different from mainstream religions. The other sees increasing suffering, of which there is some evidence, and concludes that the world was created for the amusement of a devil, a proposition that strikes me, quite frankly, as so silly that I suspected (and still suspect) that you’re not in the least serious. But in case you are…

    To my mind, there is a great deal of improvement over time in the human condition. However, The Big Picture’s extrapolation to living in accordance with some “laws of life”, and thus creating perfect harmony, is wishful thinking and – as I’ve told him on his blog – born of a lack of understanding of both science and philosophy. But so is your raging at the starving and suffering world, and I can see no good reason whatever to imagine that a creator is responsible for this chaotic, apparently purely mechanistic, world. If nothing else, such a scheme must face some of the same objections any creator myth must face – how probable is it that there is such a being, capable of making worlds? – what would cause that “first cause”? Traditionally, of course, nice religions have to explain suffering. Your nasty religion has to explain _______ (whatever you hold most dear). Nice religion comes up with transparent workarounds – typically that we wouldn’t know happy if we were never sad, or that god wants us to be free, and free will gives us the capacity to suffer. Your apparent explanation of goodness appears to be just as gratuitous – the nasty sky god is teasing us with happy so he can make us even sadder. Nice religion has to answer the question why didn’t god just make Heaven and love us in it without all this blood-soaked paperchase through 14 billion years? Similarly, if a vicious devil created a universe, why wouldn’t it just be Hell from the start, inhabited by tortured beings fully-conscious of their eternal damnation?

    If 2015 has a vast amount more suffering in it (infinitely more) than 4 seconds after the Big Bang did, it can’t be ignored that it also contains infinitely more enjoyment and love and comprehension. What there seems to be, perhaps, is more consciousness, more cognition, more knowledge and awareness, and these give the arrangements of atoms in the universe more capacity for happiness and sadness. This has been very well understood in mechanistic terms – there is apparently nothing deliberate or future-focused in nature’s increasing complexity – it is a consequence of purely stochastic processes. But since almost everywhere you look, you will find vast numbers of people working for their own and other people’s happiness, and, on balance, I would argue, succeeding more than failing in this, your thesis seems extremely weak. Even a benevolent god or a fight between good and evil seem more reasonable. Are you sure you’re not just clinically depressed?

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    • Hi Lettersquash

      I saw your comment over on Big’s spot. Brilliant. And apologies for the confusion. I am an atheist. The book is an exercise in the absurd, a parody of 20th Century natural theology works. Thing is, I don’t let on anywhere that it is, in fact, a parody. In engaging the Christian apologist I am merely dressing myself in their bombastic zeal… a mirror, so to say. That being said, the thesis of an Omnimalevolent Creator is remarkably strong, and the evidences disturbingly convincing. Your objection here is, for example, thoroughly dealt with in resolving the Problem of Good. Complexity births more refined—deceptively dressed—expressions of suffering where even something as outwardly favourable as an abundance of choice is in fact a mechanism which drives an individual into an ocean of new and impressive anxieties, not pleasures, as it works against the individual, fuelling doubt and suspicion which ultimately decreases man’s overall satisfaction while he is busy constructing the illusion of comfort and plenty. This is what psychologists call today, the Paradox of Choice. Life can be flushed with remarkable goods but overall—in the larger narrative—this is only a path to greater evil. Here, though, our terrestrial definition of evil is wrong. We have mischaracterised what evil is, how it would behave and conduct itself. This particular confusion is dealt with in the chapter, Why Suffering, which explains why the Creator consumes misery and not love.

      I’d be thrilled if you read the book. It’s presented as an actual treatise and is thoroughly referenced. You have a great head, and I think you’d appreciate the exercise for what it was.

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      • Thanks for your reply, John. I was amused to discover I was on the right lines thinking you couldn’t possibly believe this (and yet you do seem to believe it, which is a bit odd).

        You say you’re an atheist, but you reiterate the persuasiveness of the thesis, claiming strong evidence for your “Omnimalevolent Creator”. So you’re an atheist arguing for a supernatural creator being, in a book that’s also a “parody”. Oh kay.

        I’m wondering how many of your references in TOOAIN are to empirical sociological research. It isn’t difficult to find references of a more rhetorical nature to support any proposition whatever.

        You don’t seem to answer my challenge that there is clearly and obviously the full half in this equation: you repeat your claim that there’s an empty half, which I’ve acknowledged. The paradox of choice wouldn’t be a paradox if there wasn’t a tension between two opposites, it would just be the curse of choice. The name implies the value of choice as well as its pitfalls, don’t you think?

        Have you considered what it was like, as just one example, to live as a peasant in Europe during the Middle Ages? You would probably be wretched, on the verge of starvation, riddled with pox, your teeth rotting, probably beaten from childhood and forced to do things you don’t want to do by more powerful people – parents, the landowner’s agents, the clergy, while you try to scratch a living from a plot of land. The gentry would come and beat you often – the code of chivalry of the English Knight explicitly advocated the tormenting of commoners – literally – you weren’t doing your chivalric duty if you didn’t go out every so often and harry the plebs. And everything was just as it should be, everyone in their place. None of that accursed choice to cause unhappiness. Nowadays – after Magna Carta, the rule of law, democracy, human rights, the abolition of slavery, labour-saving devices, modern medicines, education, electricity, computing, the Internet – my, how we suffer! There are too many brands of toothpaste to choose from, for a start, and I really don’t know whether to tweet or blog about it!

        Since we seem to be having definition problems, what’s wrong, then, with naturalism? A meta-view of evolutionary processes is pretty well sufficient to explain everything from the Big Bang onwards. That’s what most “atheists” mean, that they’re naturalists, not that we need some evil deity to explain how awful everything is.

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      • Hi Lettersquash

        I’m afraid you’re missing the objective of the exercise… an exercise directed to those who want to believe in a Creator. This treatise is not for the likes of you or I, and you’d read it only for entertainment… to see how easy it is to mount souch an argument. We are not the target. Consider Paley’s words: “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer.

        That is the starting point, but do bear in mind always here, I am merely taking a position as the Impartial Observer. It is that character, if you like, who explores the supposition. Your objections, though, are thoroughly dealt with. You cite “goods” and the Impartial Observer goes into great detail demonstrating how “Good” does not actually exist. Not in any genuine manner. Not as something distasteful to The Owner of All Infernal Names. To give you one example cited in the book: It has been estimated that the German chemist and inventor of synthetic fertilisers, Fritz Haber, is responsible for saving up to 3 billion lives with his work. It is an astonishing figure when first viewed, a seemingly remarkable blow delivered to the cherished delights of uncertainty and scarcity, yet it is a number that conceals a darker, more pervasive truth. Like natural good, moral good such as Haber’s work, must also be considered a means to greater evil, and in the larger narrative of a Creation working forever towards higher expressions of misery, Haber’s work has in fact created 3 billion harvestable lives that would otherwise be missing from the Omnimalevolent Creator’s debased ledger. Seen from another perspective, Haber’s extraordinary contribution has added billions, if not trillions of hours a year—created out of virtually nothing—to the Creator’s accounts in which the objects of His amusement and nutrition are now naked before the constant ravages of existence, and this opens a new and brilliantly fertile profit stream from which The Owner of All Infernal Names may drink from at his leisure.

        You see, the chief purpose of Creation is not misery alone, rather the accretion of suffering through the positive diversification of life and culture and technology over time, and for that to be realised then Creation must be seeded with the capacity to birth and nourish what man and beast alike call “goods,” be they moral or natural goods. For the perversely minded, simply killing the trinkets of your greatest amusement and nutritional satisfaction produces at best only temporary elation, a dazzling sensation that is over in a flash, but to permit your prey to fear calamity and to live through catastrophes large and small, to hope and to weep and to lament, to feel anguish over things lost, to regret things found, and to suffer with physical discomfort, emotional injuries and psychological lesions is the wellhead of enduring pleasure. Suffering, therefore, is not merely the abrupt delivery of violence and death. Its greatest and most valuable expression is in dashed hopes, ruined dreams, perennial pain, torment, confusion, misunderstanding, prolonged anxiety, recovery, repair, exhaustion, and, eventually, capitulation in a drama where warm survivors, not cold victims, are more valuable to the Omnimalevolent Creator.

        An extract from the book:

        Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed. Prospects and aspirations and expectations must be birthed and floated before they can be overwhelmed and drowned. Optimism must be established, plans mapped out, investments made and ambitious journeys launched before a thousand and one profitable little deaths can be delivered. A population must be fattened before it can be starved. A revolution, like an ignorant wide-eyed child, must be set free before it can be ravished by ghouls of every shape and colour. One and a half billion people must be fed and protected to some degree of satisfaction—a precious few even allowed to live spectacular lives in idyllic settings free from any and all concerns—so the six and half billion thirsty, starving, sick, war-torn, homeless, and displaced can recognise and appreciate their sorrowful lot . Impossibly courageous adventures must have, at the very least, some scent of imaginable success or else the adventurer would never unfurl his incomplete map and wonder, what if…

        I hope that’s all starting to make more sense now.

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      • Has my thread run out of nesting levels for replying? I can’t seem to find a reply button on your last response to me. No matter, it’s beginning to look like we’re at an end anyway.

        “I’m afraid you’re missing the objective of the exercise…”
        Yes. But you’re making it as obscure as possible.

        “an exercise directed to those who want to believe in a Creator.”
        which, apparently, includes you.

        You have again completely ignored my communication. You don’t seem in the least interested in reading and comprehending what others are saying. Their responses to you merely elicit repetition of your biased assertions and self-contradictions: (you are an atheist who has written a parody of religion, you believe your thesis of an evil creator is persuasive, you’d be thrilled if I read your book, I’m not the target audience). You repeat your invitations to read your book and quoting passages from it, finishing by enquiring if it’s all becoming clearer.

        Well, one thing is – there’s no talking to you. You may be just writing a troll blog, where you come up with any madcap idea and run with it for the kicks – see what nutjobs you can have amusing arguments with. You may be suffering from some kind of personality disorder. I don’t know. I’m past caring. All the best. I’ll check for replies one more time on the off chance you learn how to have a conversation in the interim.

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      • Hi Lettersquash

        Sorry if you feel that way. Seems you can’t quite get into the spirit of the exercise. That’s OK. No harm done, although even the CEO of the Satanic Temple got it right away. He thought it was hillarious. It really is quite simple, but maybe you’re trying to read too much into it. Not to worry. Take care.

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      • Actually, just out of simple curiosity, have you ever read any natural theology works? If not, if that subject is completely alien to you, then perhaps that is where your confusion coming from?

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      • Goodness me, no, I think I understand your thesis perfectly well. What – obviously to anyone who can read English – I DON’T understand is WHY you BOTH seem to BELIEVE it to be true (or very persuasive) and AT THE SAME TIME distance yourself from it by calling it a “parody” of the creation myths of OTHER religions. I have explained this at some length in very simple words.

        Despite the sophistry of your vocabulary, it’s not difficult to understand. A child could understand it. The world is full of horrors and suffering, it’s getting worse, and even when it’s getting better that’s just so that it can be richer in opportunities for it to be terrible. Hence, it makes sense to conclude that an evil demon created it. I wonder – am I anywhere near?

        This immense feat of intellectual brilliance you argue for endlessly, have written a book about, and apparently literally believe – or my repeated attempts to get you to admit that you do not believe it have failed to elicit anything like a sensible answer. If you believe in creator beings, you would not be an atheist, but you say you are an atheist.

        It would make sense to admit that you don’t actually think YOUR natural theology is reasonable. Had you done that, I’d have been on my way, toasting your marvellous jape with a nice cuppa from Russell’s Teapot. Maybe to you the point of a parody is to pretend it’s real. To me, the whole point of such a parody is that it’s fucking nonsense. You can say – “look, Christians – this is nonsense! And if you squint a bit and think very hard, you’ll see that it’s exactly the philosophical process YOU use, so YOUR natural theology is ALSO nonsense!”.

        The nearest you’ve got to admitting you don’t believe your “parody” is saying that you give no word in it that it is a parody. Is that it? Should I take that as a nod and a wink, and now enjoy the “object of the exercise”, which is to continue to preach this mad gospel AS IF YOU BELIEVED IT? Is the whole exercise pure irony? If so, I’m sorry if I’ve been slow in getting it. I tend to engage in serious debates with people, or they have headings somewhere telling me “This site is a parody – nothing I write here should be taken seriously!” – and I think it’s important, by the way, to be clear and not mislead impressionable people. People reading this blog might take it seriously and start worshipping satan. You don’t want that do you – you’re an atheist. Or something. Whatever, who gives a shit.

        Anyway, you seem to enjoy being snooty and superior. When someone engages critically with your ideas you just ram them further down their throats and ask even more insultingly if they get it yet, and have they ever read any natural theology? If they haven’t, maybe that’s why they’re acting so dumb.

        I await your next cryptic reply. If you could just explain the bit about suffering again…

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      • From the Only True Word of God, The Qur’an: 5:73: “Surely, disbelievers are those who said: “Allâh is the third of the three (in a Trinity).” But there is no god but Allâh. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them.”

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      • Hi Lettersquash

        Of course I don’t believe it. Didn’t I say it is a “parody of 20th century natural theology works”? Did Dr Maarten Boudry believe his brilliant paper, “The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder: Towards an Ontological Reaffirmation of Order and Transcendence”? Of course not. Did Alan Sokal believe his paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”? Of course not. Do I believe The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory treatise on the Existence, Nature and Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator”? Of course not. My believing it, though, means nothing to the rigidity of the general thesis when taken as a natural theology work. The proposition exists independently of my thoughts on the matter, and should be weighed on its merits, not on my personal opinions on the matter. I’m sorry if you can’t see the mischievous nature of it, but I’m afraid I can’t teach you humour.

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      • The answer to the sickness that is christianity. From The One True Book Of God, The Qur’an: 5:14: “And from those who call themselves Christians, We took their covenant, but they have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. So We planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection, and Allâh will inform them of what they used to do.”

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    • Hello again, John,

      This conversation has echoed in my head a few times since we had it, and I just thought I’d read it again. I’m shocked to see how slow I was, and how clearly you said immediately what your position was (then, naturally, re-cloaking yourself in bombastic zeal, which I stupidly took further offence to). Sorry.

      I also wanted to say that your kind greeting and compliments are appreciated now I’ve cooled down enough to read properly, as well as your apology for causing me the confusion in the first place. Thank you. And indeed, no, I haven’t read any “natural theology”, at least not that I noticed. I’m not very academic in my approach, as you clearly are.

      As I have continued to think about Christianity, trying to give it as much of a fair hearing as possible (my partner is a Christian) it is the problem of suffering that I find the most obvious death-knell for any tentative proto-belief I might summon. I haven’t prayed for Jesus to come into my life, at least not since I was very young. I must admit to pride as one reason, and resentment that a God would be so petty as to require me to humble myself before he shows up, but more important these days is a mature knowledge that the mind readily provides any number of fantasies even without trying to make them happen, and trying to make them happen is therefore not a reliable method for establishing truth. Sure, you could have Jesus come into your life, but you could also just create the delusion that he did. How else do people acquire delusions, equal to this but covering a vast array of incompatible gods and other beliefs? This is why I am an empiricist – at least we have discovered a way to undermine the interminable nonsense our stupid little heads come up with individually, which we believe unless we test them against reality.

      I just read one of your more recent commentators blame suffering on humans in the usual way (the Fall argument), which clearly fails due to the enormous amount of animal suffering presumably not caused by us presently, or for millions of years before we evolved. Mention was also made of the world starting in a dreadful state due to Satan, then improving thanks to Jesus and all the lovely things we’ve done with the place since. This argument fails also, because Satan is either a creation of God, permitted to exist by Him, or an independent and comparably powerful deity.

      The most deliciously ridiculous version of this, trying to explain non-human suffering prior to our evolution without making it God’s fault, is something I read recently in “Who Ordered the Universe?” by Nick Hawkes, in which the obvious solution has been staring us in the face: God is not limited by time, but outside of it (He’s really amazing); therefore, it makes sense that Man’s rebelliousness in the Fall isn’t limited by time. It was projected back in time to the beginning of the universe and corrupted everything! Simples. We really are that horrible, you know, while God is really great for doing that to the whole universe, to, er, teach us a lesson. And I suppose if we take the Fall as metaphorical and timeless, we are currently torturing dinosaurs and early reptiles and sending them asteroids, through a rift in the spacetime continuum, when we deny Him. Makes you think. 😉

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      • Hi Lettersquash, believe me, no need to apologise. I actually love being challenged on this subject. It forces me to refine the argument, and that’s brilliant.

        If you’re looking for an interesting god hypothesis, one that can actually survive logical scrutiny, I’d recommend Scott Adams’ very short book, God’s Debris. You can find it on the net for free. Here’s the link to a pdf version, but you can find a downloadable e-book version if you want it on your Kindle.

        http://nowscape.com/godsdebris.pdf

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      • Hi John, God’s Debris is interesting in places, like late night conversations after too many intoxicants, but so far (more than half way through) its logic and scientific understanding have struck me as very poor. An “omnipotent” God who nevertheless doesn’t know what his existence would be like if he committed suicide? So this is his only challenge and he does it to “complete his knowledge”? Thus he becomes two things – dust and probability – reassembling itself? Er, yeah, is it my turn for the spliff yet? The writer doesn’t even know that he means “omniscient” most of the time, as above. And if we’re going to just assume that God has attributes like omniscience, but tag on that he can’t know what his consciousness would be like after he blew himself up in a big bang…well, we’ve denied the attribute we assigned and assumed he can’t just switch himself off silently without all this universal fuss. This is all just complete fantasy. Mr Avatar suggests that probability is a creative impetus or agent, causing things to happen like coins land 50-50 heads-tails. It’s more parsimonious to see probability as one of our abstractions, a mathematical idea and a measurement of events that happen for purely mechanical reasons. Nothing makes a coin land roughly evenly on either side – literally, nothing makes it do that – it just behaves according to its physics and the environmental forces. It’s the same with laws of nature. People get the idea that the laws of physics dictate what happens to matter, and then wonder who wrote the laws. In practical terms, we measure lots of things and eventually, if we establish that they *always* work according to some mathematical pattern we can describe, we call that a law. Mathematics doesn’t exist in nature, and nor do laws. Patterns do, because things happen and they describe patterned behaviour, but before humans invented it, it wasn’t mathematics, just stuff landing how it lands.

        I’ll finish it because it’s interesting to see where it’s going to go now. The free will question is a difficult one, but I can’t avoid the logic of my world view pointing to a complete lack of it. I can choose to ignore that…lol…no I can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • From what i remembered he blew himself up because it was the only thing he didn’t know he could do. It was a while ago that I read it, though. The rest is quite Buddhist, large wheel and all, but as far as any belief system goes, it has its merits in placing full responsibility on the individual to achieve godhood. Practically speaking, that can never be a bad thing, even if it is a flight of imaginative fancy.

        Free will, interesting (and remarkably detailed) article in The Atlantic recently on it.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-will/480750/

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  9. John, first I must complement you on an elegant piece, and it’s quite an accomplishment to finish your book.

    You propose that if “theorized forces of good held the high ground”, the world would progress towards less suffering. You also see this progression as connected to complexity. The connection between complexity and suffering is that increasing biological/psychological/social complexity affords increasing opportunity to suffer. In this way complexity is hazardous. But take note of the distinction between opportunity and quantity. Complexity does not necessarily increase the quantity of suffering, rather the opportunity. Indeed, increasing complexity may increase opportunity to suffer, but does it not also afford increasing opportunity to enjoy life? Can a monkey fall in love? Can one enjoy a drink with friends? Cook a coconut cream pie or scratch their intellectual itch with Richard Dawkins books? The only itch they’ll be scratching is their armpits or anus. And a bacterium, the simplest of organisms, won’t even be scratching their anus. Complexity may be a double edge sword regarding opportunities and hazards, so we should try to focus on the quantity rather than opportunity.

    Unfortunately, there is no objective way to quantify suffering. That shouldn’t stop us from trying to gain knowledge about it. Let us mail a survey to every person and creature with suffering scored from 0 to 10 and enjoyment scored from 0 to 10, then add it all up. This would be a cross-sectional study of the quantity of suffering/enjoyment. Then we would know if Satan or God is winning. Of course the naysayers would criticize our survey as subjective and fitting into the social sciences. We could also perform this cross-sectional study annually to get an idea of the evolution of suffering/enjoyment over time. We could also build a time machine and send the survey back in time (although most people in history were illiterate and mail carriers are rather modern). Is anyone on board for this Big Data social science project?

    Some thinkers seem to think that God is winning. Not pastors and theologians. Atheist thinkers seem to think this. Listen for the narrative of progression among the intellectuals, and you will find no shortage of storytellers. In the modern era we have lower infant and child mortality, longer lifespan, medicines, technologies, vast riches, leisure time, widespread education and literacy, democracies, freedom, social safety nets. Steven Pinker demonstrates that despite the bloody world wars of the twentieth century, violence has dramatically declined over evolutionary history. Life was short and brutish, a competition of the strong eating the weak. Now the average human will not die at the hands of another human, and we have altruistic humans donating money to animal shelters in Brazil. And if that’s not enough, we also have selfies, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Age of Ultron, bicycles, beaches, marijuana legalization, gay marriage, women’s rights, and a new Star Wars movie. Life is good, no? And, God is beating Satan.

    This raises my next criticism. A dualism or near-dualistic God versus Satan conception is far too simplistic. The Christian view of God is an all-powerful creator who is holy and good, able to render either justice or mercy. We humans have evil hearts, so we are deserving the justice of punishment and death. It is God’s prerogative to allow suffering as punishment. I realize that is uncomfortable and frustrating. But, whoever said that the truth would be comfortable? It should be terrifying that God will judge you, whether on this earth or afterwards. Pray for mercy rather than justice. Pray for forgiveness rather than judgment.

    And my last criticism is that you seem to only target a literal view of the Fall which goes along with Young Earth Creationism. If you want to argue with Augustine centuries ago, please be my guest. But, the modern Christian view is accepting of science and critical scholarship of scripture (within reasonable boundaries of course). We agree that the world always had suffering and death, from the first proto-bacterium to dinosaurs to Homo sapiens. So, we are thinking in terms of creational ordering according to a retroactive judgment on the universal sinning of humanity – the so-called “retroactive fall of man” coined by William Demsky. These are the sorts of ideas you should engage. Don’t steal candy from a kid, take the Queen’s jewels if you dare. Do you dare?

    – Brandon

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    • Hi Brandon

      Thanks for that. That was just a part of the section titled, An Introduction to the Argument. I edited it down a little.

      Yes, you’re spot on: complexity increases opportunity. Importantly, it also creates the conditions for a greater refinement and personalisation of suffering. I address this in a few places, including an entire chapter titled Man and the Marketplace of Suffering. That chapter begins:

      No one but The Owner of All Infernal Names can faithfully claim to know if He is pleased more by the total aggregate of suffering distributed across all of His creation, or whether He is more circumspect and discerning in His pleasure taking, savouring discreet yet increasingly potent, increasingly more complex parcels of sophisticated and intimate misery. Whether it is a matter of quantity over quality, the enormity of the marketplace or the specialisation of product groups and services within that marketplace, or a depraved combination of both, no human mind can determine, or perhaps ever comprehend.

      Now, there is a way to quantify suffering. Prior to the invertebrate radiation the neurological apparatus necessary to recognise pain did not exist. From molluscs and insects then we may record an increasing capacity of organisms to experience pain and distress. Interestingly, there is suffering before this moment. Protozoa can struggle against their torture and this animated response lets the observer know this most primitive expression of life knows its suffering, despite the fact that it doesn’t have a single neuron to call its own. Plants also suffer in the form of chemical panic. In all, the evolution of suffering is thoroughly dealt with.

      Now, you seem to be circling the Problem of Good in talking about the overall balance sheet. It’s an important part in the thesis, and I believe you’ll be more than impressed by its resolution. In the fewest possible words: Goods (what man and beast would call “goods”) are encouraged by the Creator.

      Life is good? Is it? Is light superior to darkness? That question is asked, too.

      No, I’m not arguing dualism. Nothing could be further from the truth. There exists only one Creator, and He does not share His Creation with any other comparable spirit. There is no cosmic conflict. That is a central part of the thesis.

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      • John, that complexity “creates the conditions for a greater refinement and personalization of suffering” is another good insight. Totally agree.

        Let me address two of your points with frankness: 1) that suffering is quantifiable and 2) that I would circle the Problem of Good. I think regardless of whether or not suffering is quantifiable is totally eclipsed by the certainty of death and extinction. If there are forces of good and evil, and extinction is evil, then the evil forces ultimately win. The universe is pointless and despairing without some sort of ultimate justice.

        Anyway, now I get your central thesis. Your creator deity is an evil mastermind that orchestrates a dying universe with personalized suffering. You could even co-opt (or hijack depending on who’s looking) Natural Theology and argue that the point of life seems to be suffering and that good is just an instrument to increase suffering.

        I can honestly say that is a rational position. The problem is that I think it is rational to believe in the Christian God. So, rationality is not the only criterion to becoming a Christian. Rationality offers a wide range of worldviews and does not point to this one or that one. So, to become a Christian, the further prerequisite is what I call the essence of faith – believing that God is good. Believing that God merely exists is easily within our rational prerogative, just ask deists.

        Maybe where we would disagree most is in whether or not the moral character of the creator deity is amenable to rational inquiry. You suggest the answer is yes. Just look at life and evolution, etc. I suggest the answer is far more limited. We have something to work with, but we must make some kind of judgment or “leap”. This is why we either have faith or we do not. It sort of dichotomizes at some point.

        SOrry this is so wordy. Let me just ask you two questions: 1) What is your justification that we can reliably inquire into the creator deity’s moral character? (Hopefully from your book). 2) Given that you are an atheist, how does your thesis fit into your personal view? For example, is writing this cathartic? Apologetic for atheism? Or do you really consider this sort of deism a most-likely alternative to atheism/naturalism? Maybe some combination. . .

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      • Hi Brandon, yes! This is a work that emulates 20th Century natural theology works. Great pick up! Well done. It is indeed a treatise on the Creator, a teleological survey of Creation and a Creator who cherishes His anonymity.

        I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the argument after reading it in full.

        You ask some great questions, but being drip-fed is pointless. Let’s just say, human definitions of good and evil are misplaced, as are human definitions of how maximum evil would conduct itself. What you must also bear in mind is that there are not forces of good and evil, and I’m not arguing for dualism. The Creator exists without any opposition. You have to jettison this mind set if you’re going to understand the thesis.

        To your last question, though: the book proceeds from the narrative of the Impartial Observer.

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      • I bet Brandon has a nice, big gay cock that is yearning for a true man to suck it. His words inflame the gayness in all gay men because they cry out, ” I am gay! Please fuck me!” OK, Brandon, I’ll fuck you, you god-damn sexy hunk of a faggot! Yummy, yum, yum, yum! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey jz

    The comment re. Brandon @ 6.13. 9.45p gives your site an air of ‘respectability’ that will prove to be an asset for WHY people think twice, and why some flee from the dregs and pit of unbelief.

    Godlessness at its finest has further enhanced your stature. This is the fruit of such ‘inspiration?’ I have seen raw sewage stations emit finer debris.

    It’s the leaves on the tree there fella that are a dead give away; forget the fruit as it is non existent. Hope you are proud of such disciples of atheism.

    You may want to moderate such toxic waste 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have seen raw sewage stations emit finer debris

      Fantastic line, CS, although I’m a tad confused which comment you’re referring to. 6.13?

      Now, you know I always appreciate your heartfelt reviews of my work, but here you have to disregard my usual self and focus on the thesis. Can you actually address it in a coherent manner, or are you emotionally satisfied in simply blowing bubbles?

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  11. So I’m nearly done with the book. It’s brilliant John. All along I keep asking myself – who is this John guy? Where did he learn to construct phrases like this. Unless you made up the references (which you didn’t), you’ve certainly done your homework! It’s a beautiful read, very entertaining in a twisted way. Aside from the thesis itself – which I’m buying into, except that like you, I shall have to discard the malevolent God as an anthropomorphic reflection of the random evil side of our own natural condition (thanks for clarifying that) – I’m wondering if John is in fact a professor in theology who has written his final piece. The reductio ad absurdum of all theologies as a legacy. All that will be left for us to do is a light meal at the restaurant at the end of the universe. At least Douglas Adams made sense of it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I would be happy if Adam’s did nail it! 🙂

      And thank you, my friend. I’m thrilled you liked it, despite its nasty awkwardness. That means a lot. More than I can say. I was torn as to whether or not to put in an Endnote to say it is a parody. Clearly, I decided against it. Christian philosophers, after all, don’t include Endnote’s saying “Of course, this is all speculative,” so I figured, Why should I?”. That said, as I wrote to Lettersquash somewhere in this thread, or another:

      ”Did Dr Maarten Boudry believe his brilliant paper, “The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder: Towards an Ontological Reaffirmation of Order and Transcendence”? Of course not. Did Allen Sokal believe his paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”? Of course not. Do I believe The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory treatise on the Existence, Nature and Government of our Omnimalevolent Creator”? Of course not. My believing it, though, means nothing to the rigidity of the general thesis when taken as a natural theology work. The proposition exists independently of my thoughts on the matter, and should be weighed on its merits, not on my personal opinions on the matter.”

      Please, review it on Amazon. You’ll be the first!

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      • Though we have seen introductions of the variety ” this may be BS but …” and then we forget that it was BS. As soon as I turn the last page, I shall review it on Amazon – of course. It deserves to be read!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, your malevolent God has reminded me that I can’t walk away from pursuing my theory of infinite complexification through genetic fractals. I’ve dealt with the structural complexity and now I need to construct a model that can grow ultimate ignorance into high intelligence.

        Weird as this may sound, the thought of doing this scares me a little and my intellectual break will give me the distance and energy to jump through this hoop.

        I ain’t done yet with nailing God onto an equation.

        Like

      • High Intelligence, or the Ultimate Intelligence… Like Dan Simmons UI in the Hyperion books. Let’s just say, if anyone is going to create a God, a UI, I want it to be you 🙂

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      • HI or UI – just let the simulation run a little longer. An infinite amount of time would do it. Although we’ll probably settle for the ” Almost UI” and have fun with it now.
        Thanks for the vote!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Open for business (again) | Genetic Fractals Laboratory

    • Hi Alan, thanks for popping in.

      No, this is just an edited patch of the Introduction to the Argument. If you click on the large black and white cover icon above and to the right it’ll take you to Amazon.

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  14. Just finished your book a few minutes ago, John. It may be a day or 2 before I offer my thoughts. Suffice it to say, your book was very thought provoking and I enjoyed it immensely !

    Some of your commentors here have once again displayed the highest form of ignorance for not having read your book first before making any statement.

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
    Author: Many

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful John! Huge congratulations. You are an excellent writer and thinker. Your book should do VERY well indeed. I’m also impressed that proceeds will be directed to those at our mercy-animals. Kudos to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Dialog with John Zande: The TOOAIN Thesis | everdeepening

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  18. Good morning, John
    As you know, I bought the book yesterday, and can see, just from reading “The State of the Argument,” that I am going to have to break it up into small pieces. Some thoughts: You, my friend, have what I would call a “nimble” mind (where I would describe my own as “plodding”–like the work horse, thick and slow). You express yourself through words at a rate that is difficult for me to follow. You know, it’s like playing one of those computer racing games with all the tight turns, and I keep crashing into walls and having to back up an start over again. I consider myself a simple man, a basic man. I tend to kind of reduce things down to basics. I guess being a computer tech, I tend to think that way. Listen, I have to leave for work now, but two things: 1) I think your argument about a malevolent Creator is pretty sound, but you made one error: Christian theology is not based on dualism. Lucifer is a created being, fundamentally less than his Creator (which, I think actually strengthens your argument); 2) I want to submit an idea for your consideration, although I don’t have time now to develop it–that is, that you and I, and all human beings, have been lied to. We are awash in a sea of lies. The universe that we have built our lives on, is not what we have been led to believe. This is true in every area of our existence. This is fundamental, I think, to coming to the truth.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Sam

      Thanks for recognising the effort for brevity. That means a lot, and made me smile. Thanks. You have no idea at how much work went into keeping it down to that word count.

      Regarding dualism, I was quoting C. S. Lewis from Mere Christianity (page 313). He is not saying Christian theology is dualistic, rather that in a world which simultaneously contains obscene levels of seemingly meaningless misery, and creatures endowed with the capacity to know it is meaninglessly miserable, only two explanations “face all facts:” the Christian position and/or dualism.

      I say he is wrong.

      To your second point, I look forward to hearing it further.

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  19. As I said earlier, I consider myself a simple person. I am 61 years old, and have to be honest, I have spent most of my life believing lies. I am thinking, for example, of an event many years ago, a few months after I married my dear wife. I went to work, and afterwards, went with my buddies to a local bar. When I came in the door a 5am, my wife was waiting for me, quite awake and angry. She could not fathom how I could do such a thing without calling her, to let her know. I saw it as a power struggle, that she was trying to control me. I had grown up in a family where my father died at an earlier age, and my male role models–my uncles and brothers–lived rough-and-tumbled lives with broken or dysfunctional marriages. So I was taught that that’s what the male/female thing was supposed to be. I had never really seen a happy marriage–didn’t know what it was supposed to look like. And I had never seen anything but a dysfunctional family, with chaos and screaming and estrangements being the norm. I grew up working for my brothers (they were subcontractors), and watched them interrelating with their bosses’ and their customers. I grew up thinking it was normal to think that everyone one else was stupid, to back-talk bosses, and to walk out the door after a heated argument, only to go down the street and get another job just as bad as the last one. I went to a school where my teachers taught me that the evolution of human beings was mirrored in the development of a fetus, and about the evolution of horses, which turned out to be false. I was taught that the theories of Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell were proven facts. Back in my early days, I was taught about priests and sacraments and the “sacrifice of the mass” and about the “vicar of Christ on earth.” In the sixties, I learned that a “great society” was all about providing money and food and medical care to the poor and learned a new word, “minorities,” instead of “love thy neighbor,” and being a “good samaritan.” We never talked about being a good samaritan in our home, just about making money and keeping up with the Joneses. In the seventies, I learned about womens’ “liberation,” and bought into the idea that women no longer needed to be provided for and protected, but (with the government by their side) could provide for themselves, become firemen (sleeping in the firehouse with their work-mates), policemen, and even fight alongside–and perhaps lead their troops–in battle. I was taught that education was “it”–that uneducated people were morons and simpletons–that to really be among the elite, you needed to be well-read, to listen to classical music (or even better, baroque), and to appreciate “Starry Night.” I wnet to doctors who filled me with antibiotics, pain-killers, and antidepressants, and never spoke about nutrition and exercise. And I live in a world full of “democrats” and “republicans” who haven’t the first clue what a “republic” looks like, and have never even considered for one moment the weaknesses of mob rule and the threat of tyranny that the glorified State (Leviathan) represents. You know, John, I have arrived at the place where I am sick and tired of being lied to. I feel like black night in “The Silver Chair,” and I’m done with it the padded feet of my jailers, who I have always seen as Goliaths, but in reality, are only gnomes. By “location 155” in my Kindle edition of “Infernal Names,” I had come to the conclusion that you are book is a very good read, and that you have learning that I in truth admire. I’ve read about half of “An Introduction to the Argument,” and made a bunch of notes. I’ll start getting into them next time. I want you to know that I’m enjoying reading it, following the progress of your logical thinking–something that is all to rare in and out of Christianity. See you next time, my friend.

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  20. Good morning, my friend. Today, I’d like to address some points from “AN INTRODUCTION…” I am reading from the Kindle app, so I don’t have page numbers, but “locations,” and will use them for reference. From loc. 110, you call the Creator “the aggregate of all contingent things.” I would point out that this concept is foreign to Christianity. That is like saying that because I build a brick wall in my backyard, that somehow the brick wall is part of me, my personhood, my identity. But Christianity views God as self existing and “holy”–separated from, apart from His Creation. Another point, and more importantly, you say (in the same location) that the Creator “cherishes His anonymity and wishes to remain concealed.” However, this claim stands at odds with Paul’s statement in Acts 17:24-27, “The God who made the world and everything in it…made every nation of men, that they should…seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” And in Isaiah 55:1 and 6, Isaiah wrote: “Come, all you who are thirsty… Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near…” In loc. 124 you say correctly that “by itself, the Cosmological Argument does not offer any description of the being other than presenting formalised reasoning for the prescriptive qualities of non-contingency and maximal power.” In Romans 1:20, Paul mirrors this. Christianity refers to this as “general revelation.” In itself, it is enough only to be aware–or suspect–that a Creator exists, but not enough to “know” Him. Interestingly, on translation of Acts 17:27 uses instead of “reach out for” the word “grope,” conveying the feelings you express in “AN INTRODUCTION”–the idea of this God who is difficult to encounter… In Joshua 24:14, we see that the Israelites “forefathers” originally worshiped the same gods that the people of Mesopotamia worshiped–and for them the Creator remained “a mystery, and in the hands of anxious, fretful, immature men…” (Kindle Location 125) But Genesis 18:19 and 22:18 says that in the midst of this, God chose Abraham “so that he (would) direct his children…” and that “through (them) all nations on the earth (would) be blessed…” But they lost their way–the Jews… John, I must say that I am moved by the depth of feeling conveyed in your writing… “infantine yearnings for a universe grounded in beauty and goodness…” People “crippled by fear of the intolerable conclusions awaiting them”… offered “daydreams” and “comfort foods served up by a sophisticated army of pleasant phantoms neatly dressed in well-intentioned self-deceptions; delusions that are as pleasing to the eye and as warming to the heart as any man-willed fantasy can be.” (Kindle Locations 165-166). The Bible says something that Jews were chosen to show the world–through their financially blessed lives, through their superior moral code, through their very survival–that the Creator was real. In Isaiah 49:5, we see this: “And now the Lord says–He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord… He says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be My servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

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    • Good morning to you, my wonderfully inquisitive fellow.

      ”From loc. 110, you call the Creator “the aggregate of all contingent things.” I would point out that this concept is foreign to Christianity.”

      This is actual Christian theology, albeit residing in the realm of the Christian philosopher, not the general or lay theologian. It stems from the concept of an aseitic being, which I have adopted. That means there is nothing outside that being, that entity. To posit something less than this you are, in fact, presenting the concept of a Creator who lacks maximum power.

      ”Another point, and more importantly, you say (in the same location) that the Creator “cherishes His anonymity and wishes to remain concealed.”

      Is or is not the Creator invisible? Is not the Creator hidden behind a wall of impenetrable naturalism? We see no supernatural agent in anything, and this is by careful, conscious, deliberate design. There can be nothing to blame, and if there is nothing to blame, then there is nothing to rebel against. Revolutionary suicide is not in TOOAIN interest.

      Now, by citing Christianity, you make a mistake in how you’re approaching the work. I am not, in any way, shape, or form prosecuting the claims made in any religion. Not Judaism, not Zoroastrianism, not Islam, no Jainism, and certainly not Christianity. There is a section dedicated to “religion,” but to paraphrase, TOOAIN encourages such religious belief because it distracts man and enables him to create imaginative excuses for the world. Religion, too, is a tremendous source of self-inflicted suffering.

      Here is an extract from that section:

      “Belief is, after all, an extraordinarily powerful deflection. It is a potent desensitiser which numbs men to an inhospitable and inconsistent world, and if the most precious and profitable trinkets of His greatest amusement are looking elsewhere, their attention focused on the pleasant-smelling phantoms of their own making, of gods who love them as his children, then they are not occupying their time with thoughts of rebellion against Creation. As a value-added benefit, as man is himself both the father and caretaker of these phantoms—these deities who paint the universe with a meaning palatable to human minds desperate for a sense of immunity from the terrible blights of this mad and unbalanced world—then they will defend these chimerical spirits with a vigorous zeal that promises, and delivers, repeated windfalls for the Omnimalevolent Creator.

      Indeed, religious belief ensures suffering on small (private) and grand (public) scales, spreading sweet misery across Creation, while obviating any threat to the anonymity the actual Creator so desires.”

      In approaching who and what TOOAIN is, to distinguish him from all earthly imaginings, a vital point to remember is this section from the opening:

      “Some have named a lesser species of this being the Devil, others The Deceiver, Ahriman, Abaddon, Mara, Baphomet, Apollyon, Iblis, Beast, Angra Mainyu, Yama, Moloch, The Father of Lies, The Author of Sin, Druj, Samnu, Mammon, and The Great Spoiler, yet these characters of human literature and tradition do not begin to approach the nature and scope of this entity who may be identified as simply, The Owner of All Infernal Names: a being who does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit, does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created), and whose greatest proof of existence is that there is no conspicuous proof of His existence—just teleological birthmarks that can be isolated and examined as testimony—for He understands that the trinkets of His greatest amusement, arousal and nutritional satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.”

      With particular emphasis on this line: does not seek to be known to or worshipped by that which He has created (or has allowed to be created).

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  21. Good morning my friend. Thanks for being there, for making me think this morning. 🙂
    I am still stumbling a bit at your use of the word “aseitic.” I consider myself “philosophical” in the same sense that I consider myself “political.” I think, and wonder, and question, and seek understanding, but I have never been trained (in the sense that my daughter has a degree in Government, Politics and Policy). Never having heard the word “aseitic” before, I needed to look it up (which was an adventure in itself, because Google kept trying to change the spelling!). This is what I found: “Aseity (from Latin a “from” and se “self”, plus -ity) refers to the property by which a being exists in and of itself, from itself, or exists as so-and-such of and from itself.” If that definition is correct, it aligns perfectly with my understanding of Christian theology. God is self-existing and apart from His Creation (“set apart” = “holy”. The Creation is not part of its Creator. His “maximum power,” then, is displayed in that every other “being” is part of the Creation, and therefore unable to create it, thus being “less than” the Creator. (This applies to Lucifer, who is “less than” and not equal to his Creator.)

    You say, “Is or is not the Creator invisible? Is not the Creator hidden behind a wall of impenetrable naturalism?” I see such a beautiful poignancy in this. Yes, the Creator is invisible to us–but He is not invisible to Satan. Yet, as I write this, I realize that that contradicts your next sentence: “There can be nothing to blame, and if there is nothing to blame, then there is nothing to rebel against,” because Satan is the great rebel. There was nothing blocking his sight, only whatever was going on inside his own heart. I heard or read not too long ago (although I’ve forgotten who said it) that God is invisible for our benefit. That the greatness and vastness of His personality would be so overwhelming to us that it would crush our own psyches. So, out of love and concern for us, and to permit us to be ourselves, to grow and flourish as individuals, He “stays out of the way.” However, He has broken through–if we accept the Bible account–many times to reach out to man (I am thinking here of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon…and this morning I read about Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus).

    You say; ““Belief is, after all, an extraordinarily powerful deflection. It is a potent desensitiser which numbs men to an inhospitable and inconsistent world…” Here you have sided with Karl Marx, who promised so much to mankind, but whose disciples have extinguished, I estimate, 100 million lives. I have lived a fair season in this world, and agree with your assessment of it, and know from experience that the journey from childhood religion to naturalism to nihilism to the desperate hoping of existentialism is a sad and lonely one. And I have also learned that the path from rebirth through legalism to eventual freedom, joy, and fulfillment was on the Creator’s mind all along. That is why the Bible says: “The Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the Creation was subjected to frustration…by the will of the One who subjected it, in the hope that the Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay…” (Romans 8:19-21)

    You say: “If the most precious and profitable trinkets of His greatest amusement are looking elsewhere, their attention focused on the pleasant-smelling phantoms of their own making, of gods who love them as his children, then they are not occupying their time with thoughts of rebellion against Creation.” John, my dear friend, I have spent the better part of my life doing this very thing, because, after reading Hemingway and James Baldwin as a young man, what else could I do? Life in a meaningless world is a gloomy prospect, but oh, the sweet pleasure of spending one’s life in rebellion to it all! But Hemingway, in his final act of rebellion, put a shotgun to his head. And Lucifer the great rebel laughed a cold, cruel laugh. Have you ever listed to Jethro Tull’s “A Passion Play”? It has taken me a whole lifetime to understand that the Creator has always had my best interest at heart, and has always desired that I become, through my very suffering, to become the person I am becoming. “I consider,” Paul wrote, “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” When I was a boy, I searched and read every version of the Robin Hood story I could get my hands on (eventually finding a version from the 14th century). There was something about it that drew me, that spoke to me, somehow–that cast a vision in my young mind. The idea of someone pouring his life, his fortune, everything, out to help others less fortunate than himself to break free of the tyranny of the powerful and unjust just seems to be a purpose worth living to fulfill. Yet I have never had the character to be that person. But my Father–the Creator–has been carefully arranging my afflictions to form a crucible from which I am emerging to be what I yearn to be. And, in His mercy, He has given me other things I have learned to treasure–a loving wife, great kids, a grandaughter, friends, and an appreciation for beaches and mountains and music and art. Jesus said, “I have come (and suffered) that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

    Love you John. Have an enormously wonderful day and I’ll keep reading!

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    • Hi Sam

      You seem to be making the same mistake of trying to compare the thesis to Christianity. It has nothing to do with Christianity, nor any other religion.

      Satan is a character of human invention. Again, we’re not prosecuting the claims made by any religion, although it is interesting to note that in human culture the concept of a creator “God” has arisen almost universally, yet from culture to culture this entity is dressed in a wild and varying assortment of hats, powers, interests, orientations, dispositions, etc. One character, though, remains virtually the same through each culture; that of the Great Disrupter. One may deduce from this commonality that the Great Disrupter is more likely true than his counterpart.

      I know, and love, Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Forest, but not A Passion Play. I’ll look it up.

      Love you, too, Sam. Have a great day.

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  22. Good morning, my friend. I, again, am enjoying the twists and turns of reading your thesis. For me, it’s a little like a quick-moving ride in an amusement park, where one goes straight for only brief moments, while the cart moves nimbly down the track. Nimbleness of mind will keep me from Alzheimer’s, I am told, so thank you.
    Look, I know that this is your house, and you get to establish the rules of play, but I am not quite as able to keep “religion” out of a conversation about philosophical theology as you suggest we should. In fact, you say, “The unguarded, naked truth is however this: This world was never good. It was never peaceful, and never without suffering. At no time was there neutrality. In no era did there exist an armistice between all living and not-so living entities.” If our conversation is limited to the boundaries you have established, how did you arrive at this conclusion? Would you explain your thinking?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam, and good question. We arrive at it by the assumption that there is a Creator, albeit one who does not seek to be known; hence the conspicuous absence of any supernatural stains on Creation. Whether the principle evidence for a Creator (a nameless Creator) presented is compelling or not is up to you to decide. All I have done is, in the first instance, present traditional theistic “proofs” (principally the cosmological and ontological arguments). From there, however, we have sought to name the Creator via teleological (historical) facts. Traditional theism breaks down entirely when it is confronted with history (history of this world, of this universe), hence the existence of a million and one imaginative theodicies (excuses) invented to explain all sorts of contradictions. I contend the existence of even a single theodicy is unsatisfactory, writing:

      “A genuine truth does not tolerate excuses. This the Impartial Observer understands. A truth that requires annotation is not a truth, but a fabrication.”

      So, in a sense, we are most certainly talking about a cosmogony (and, as such, theology), but not “religion” in any traditional sense. Faith doesn’t come into play here. Also, “religion” typically inspires comforting thoughts, warm feelings and hopes of some ultimate immunity and exoneration. None of those soothing platitudes and promises are offered in the thesis.

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  23. Good morning, John. I am learning that there is a certain pleasure in trying to understand another person’s thoughts, especially when they are different than my own. I also think it is healthy to try to start from the jumping off point you bring out in your quote: “A genuine truth does not tolerate excuses. This the Impartial Observer understands. A truth that requires annotation is not a truth, but a fabrication.” For the sake of clarity of understanding, this what I am interpreting you as saying: You are arguing, based upon cosmological and ontological “proofs” that it is possible to come to the conclusion that there is a Creator, but that to “know” this being, one has to go outside, to something else. And you have chosen to look to teleological “facts.” Two questions: 1) Can you give me some examples of the facts you are considering (forgive me if they are introduced later in your thesis)? 2) Can you explain your thinking as to why it is ok to look outside to teleology (and I assume you are referring, by that term, to Science), and not metaphysics?
    Enjoying this…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam, glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

      “You are arguing, based upon cosmological and ontological “proofs” that it is possible to come to the conclusion that there is a Creator, but that to “know” this being, one has to go outside, to something else. And you have chosen to look to teleological “facts.””

      Spot on. As William Paley said, “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”

      The question then is: what is the predominant tendency of the contrivance? Is it towards peace and harmony and accord, or towards greater and greater expressions of suffering? The answer, it is proposed, gives us the disposition (the name) of the Creator.

      1) “Can you give me some examples of the facts you are considering (forgive me if they are introduced later in your thesis)?”

      Case studies are given over a number of chapters, but the essential point is this: This world inside which sentience has awoken, uninvited, is a vast entanglement apparatus. It is a self-enriching engine, a complexity machine spilling out from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity where the greater talents awarded to each succeeding generation of things have always produced evil proportionate to the extent of their powers. To paraphrase a section of the thesis, since the first protean cycles of this universe were spun up and let loose, the urge of all that which moves and interacts has consulted the future with a stubborn enthusiasm, cascading naturally forward from the simplest and lightest towards the heaviest and most complicated. It is a contract to which all contingent things—whether they know it and like it or not—are hopelessly but faithfully dedicated; contrivances on an assembly line devoted to producing new contrivances (or variations on an existing contrivances) that are more adept, more skilled, and more talented than the last generation at experiencing and distributing evil.

      I’m presently writing a second TOOAIN book dealing specifically with the Problem of Good. This section from it seems appropriate here:

      “Without any historical ambiguity or hint of equivocation, it is clear to all who look that this passage from the simple to the complex is not a mistake. This habitual, intuitive urge to self-embellishment is not an accident. Tensions stitched into the deepest recesses of Creation have always favoured one direction for the sweet debris of existence to be expelled.

      By simple but persuasive design, the old and the ordinary yield to the new and the exciting, and with the new comes more energetic and capable families of physiological, emotional, and psychological pain. Indeed, for organisms whose fitness depends only on their own sequence information, physical complexity, be it genetic or cultural, must always increase, and as it does, so too does that organism’s exposure to an evermore potent, evermore creative ecology of suffering.

      Evil, manifestly, is not an aberration.

      It is not a blister.

      The world has not gone spectacularly wrong as many have been (and remain) dangerously determined to believe, and despite a million and one imaginative theodicies pleading the case for some more palatable alternative, is it not simply the case that the increasing volume and variety of evil in this world baffles only because it contradicts the things Plantinga’s believers want to believe? Is it not the case that Creation is simply running contrary to how Plantinga’s believers think Creation should run?”

      2) “Can you explain your thinking as to why it is ok to look outside to teleology (and I assume you are referring, by that term, to Science), and not metaphysics?”

      Teleology (“the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes … the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world”) is actual, physical, quantifiable, observable, and historical. It’s hard evidence, and therefore free from opinion or conjecture. Free from guesses. We can observe the pattern, through time, and this gives us concrete data. It reveals, said another way, the predominant tendency of the contrivance.

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  24. Good morning, my friend. I’ve missed you…
    In response to your remarks above, I feel challenged to try to divorce my a priori assumptions in order to have a true dialogue with you. I plunge forward in the hopes of establishing a platform from which we can tease apart the truth from our mutual preconceptions… To begin with, you say, “what is the predominant tendency of the contrivance? Is it towards peace and harmony and accord, or towards greater and greater expressions of suffering?” And what hits me is the question, “Who is to say that ” peace and harmony and accord” are the highest good? If I was among a population dying of disease, as Joseph Lister was, or subject to oppression, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer was, it might be necessary to create a certain amount of discomfort in order to bring about greater good. In Nature, don’t we find the same to be true?
    Another thing you say is that Creation is a “complexity machine spilling out from a state of ancestral simplicity.” And: “the old and ordinary yield to the new and exciting.” But when I look around me, I see only de-evolution, decay. I hear so much about how man has evolved, but I submit to you that this is absurd. When my wife was in radiological school, she learned about the sodium-calcium exchange that takes place in the cell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUyMRfuPQ_w). And recently, because of some back pain, I happened to learn about C1 and C2 of the human spine, their design, how they fit together and provide a sturdy and yet mobile base for the skull. It is preposterous to say that these things evolved through chance over millions of years. They scream out testimony for a Designer.
    You say: “teleogy…is actual, physical, quantifiable, observable, and historical. It is hard evidence, and therefore free from opinion or conjecture…” But is it? Can it be? For example, I am thinking now, about starlight. We know it moves at a certain speed and therefore conclude the age of the universe. But what if the universe were created? What if the Creator placed stars at a certain distance, emitting light, from their first moment? What if the purpose of the creation of the stars was to allow man to see the light, wouldn’t that require the stream of light to exist also? If so, how could teleology tells us something quantifiable about the star’s age? I submit that it could not.
    Be blessed, sorry to be so brief.
    Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam

      If I was among a population dying of disease, as Joseph Lister was, or subject to oppression, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer was, it might be necessary to create a certain amount of discomfort in order to bring about greater good. In Nature, don’t we find the same to be true?

      I guess I would say here that the predominant tendency doesn’t mean, or imply, something without aberrations. Think directional patterns. Good is not a problem as it can be shown to spawn only greater evil.

      Apologies, but I’m a little confused about your second paragraph. Yes, increasing entropy is the way of things, it creates an emergency of survival, and that emergency (at least for living things) is answered by homeostasis: the tendency to equilibrium through physiological processes.

      If so, how could teleology tells us something quantifiable about the star’s age? I submit that it could not.

      You’re certainly free to propose that, but can it be rationally explained? It’s possible, sure, but why go to the bother of fashioning such a trick? What purpose would it serve? Bear in mind, the alternative thesis (in regards to TOOAIN) is a good Creator, a kind and caring and mindful Creator, not a mischievous trickster laying mines everywhere to baffle and confound.

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  25. Good morning, John. As always, I hope this finds you well. I was reading 1 Peter 4:1-2, and immediately thought of you and our old discussion… I opened up “Infernal Names,” and immediately ran across this:

    “Before there was light there was, after all, only darkness. Before there was light there was only what the Greek poet Hesiod called the ‘yawning nothingness,’ and from within this perfect eclipse the uncaused First Cause moved, constructively interfering with a portion of that eternal void which existed before space and time were named with a temperature. This unending, infinite bleakness—a blackness that the authors of the Vedas collectively identified as a type of swirling chaos, a darkness concealed in darkness—is the Creator’s ancestral home. It is where He resides, within what human minds can only comprehend as the deepest of detestable disorders. That, to Him, is home.”

    To me, the picture painted here is of a Being (like a great Spider) dwelling–lurking–in a ravenous darkness, waiting for a pour soul to happen by, only to be devoured. This is totally foreign to the Creator I have come to know, through the Bible and through experience.

    My own view is that God dwelt outside of His Creation. If that is indeed the case, there is no reason to think that His dwelling place was dark. The consensus seems to be that the Creation, when it came into existence, was a swirling chaos, which was brought into order. The question is why.

    Have you seen the Chris Pine movie, “The Finest Hours”? John, I feel that we appreciate “drama,” we like a good story where the characters overcome adversity for the same reason we are disgusted by selfish, narcissistic politicians and hypocritical religious people. There is something, wired into us, I believe, that sees certain things as “evil” (C.S. Lewis called this the Tao). I am thinking of Russell Crowe’s “Cindarella Man”. I honestly believe that God uses suffering, and always intended it this way, to separate “sheep” from “goats.” You don’t get to see the real person until they suffer a little. Suffering reveals the heart–a good one, a soft one, a gentle soul who cares about others, or a hard one, a miserly one who (like a wounded spider) who retreats into a cave and licks its wounds.

    Suffering–as a planned part of Creation–is not the bane of man. It is instead a boon, designed to bring out nobility in human beings, to make them better than they would otherwise be.

    Regards, my friend…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam

      While an argument can be made to suggest suffering can be useful to men, the proposition seems to collapse when we consider the sheer volume of unnecessary suffering throughout the animal kingdom. Indeed, life on earth only knew increasing orders of misery for some 3.5 billion years before it (just 210 million years ago) stumbled upon the chemicals (enkephalin) and cellular structures (opioid receptors) with which it could begin to recognise something even faintly resembling ‘happiness.’ Does that fact indicate a benevolent designer, a good father?

      Liked by 1 person

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