Sketches on Atheism

The Teleology Challenge

The_Pied_Piper_of_Hamelin_by_ChrisRawlinsSince its publication in June this year, not a single intelligible rebuttal has been offered to the general thesis presented in The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of Our Omnimalevolent Creator.

In its most trimmed down presentation, that thesis presents a diverse library of evidences which support the conclusion that this world was brought into existence by what a human mind would call a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose arousal and stimulatory 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. To these ends, the Creator has (demonstrably) structured His most notable of creations, the universe itself, to perform as a monumental pleasure-generating mechanism: an intelligently designed, deceptively natural, appallingly efficient complexity machine where the naturally unravelling consequences of its single instruction—to diversify and specialise—parents an increasingly complex variety of potential, physiological, and psychological suffering there to be experienced by those increasingly complex contingent things whose participation in existence was never solicited.

Now, some (InsanitybytesColourstormCitizen TomPraetoriusMadblog, Theancients, Tricia, James at the Isaiah 53:5 Project, Caroline, at and Brian Balke, to name just a few) have attempted to present something which might be confused for a rebuttal, but disappointingly, the sum total of these rather pedestrian efforts can be summarised as simply: “I don’t like this idea, therefore it is wrong.” I say disappointingly because emotional opinions about something do not, in any way, affect that thing’s veracity in the real world. One may rage all they like against gravity, but the truth of gravity cares not for even the most heartfelt protest. It simply is; measurable, demonstrable, but open to being falsified if the right evidence is presented. In the same way, the thesis of the Omnimalevolent Creator simply is; supported by hard observational data taken from Creation’s 13.8 billion year history. It draws its conclusions from physics, cosmology, astronomy, biology, geology, meteorology, genetics, chemistry, ethology, ecology, palaeontology, immunology, neurology, physiology, sociology, economics, and even traditional theology, and cites over 170 published papers to support its central arguments, which makes a recent post by the evangelical blogger, Insanitybytes, all the more disappointing. In this supposed rebuttal, Insanitybytes claims that one cannot look at the physical design of God’s Creation because the teleological facts of this world so clearly disprove her particular god, Yhwh. It is a hilarious, albeit baffling admission, but it effectively highlights the jejune attempts made (to date) to refute the proposition.

In the hope, therefore, of lifting the calibre of rebuttals, I think it’s necessary to formalise and structure the challenge presented by the thesis. Given past mistakes and misdirected attention, some things must however first be made perfectly clear. In approaching this challenge, we are assuming (via a host of traditional evidences) the existence of a Creator, but we are not, and never were, talking about the Middle Eastern god of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Yhwh. We are not prosecuting Zoroastrianism’s Ahura-Mazda, or accusing the Yoruba people’s Olódùmarè of being evil. We are not, in any way, dealing here with the Problem of Evil, nor are we litigating creative theodicies invented by human minds to explain the prevalence of evil in this world. In this exercise, we are not entertaining those excuses for why things are not as they should be if matter had been persuaded to behave by a benevolent creator who has (for one imaginative reason or another) lost total control of his creation, rather presenting a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator… a Creator who, for reasons not immediately obvious, so clearly cherishes His anonymity. God, by definition, is maximally competent, and to propose anything less is simply preposterous. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken. We must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator.

Now, for the sake of directedness, I will limit this challenge to the most noticeable and opinion-neutral of all proofs for the existence of the Creator: Creation itself, and to begin, we must consider this dangerously astute statement delivered by one of the greatest ever champions for the strength of the teleological argument, William Paley:

“Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”[1]

Know then the disposition, revealed as it must be through design, through the architecture, and one may know the designer.

These are the facts of this world.

Creation—this particular universe with a fixed serviceable life—is a vast entanglement apparatus, a complexity machine stitched along a few fiercely indifferent, ferociously faithful rules that set the stage for affinities that govern all things without sentiment or bias. Cooled gases become liquids, cooled liquids become solids, and solids arrange themselves into increasingly complex, ultimately self-replicating patterns, no driver required. Hydrogen fuses into the heavier and more complex helium, which in turn fuses into the heavier and more complex carbon. These are positive movements, and they are predominantly in one direction: towards greater and greater complexity. Single compounds bind to create molecules, molecules bind to create single-celled life, and single-celled life leaps naturally to multicellular activity… a transition witnessed on no less than 24 separate occasions on this planet[2]. Over hundreds of millions of years, antique action potentials (nerve cells so beautifully designed to be layered with more and more sensory tissue) become primitive nerve nets, which then further specialise into bilateral nervous systems that, in their turn, cannot resist the urge to then self-complicate into simple vertebrates with brains to register, sort, compile, remember, and anticipate (fear) pain over longer and longer periods as vast neuron fields are stacked one on top of the other. A mind is born… obsessed with a trillion fears, both large and small, real and imagined.

“As soon as it became cool enough for oxygen and hydrogen to unite into a stable compound, they did unite to form vapour of water. As soon as it became cool enough for double salts to exist, then the mutual affinities of simple binary compounds and single salts, variously brought into juxtaposition sufficed to produce double salts. And so on throughout the inorganic world … Here we obtain a hint as to the origin of organic life upon the earth’s surface. In accordance with the modern dynamic theory of life, we are bound to admit that the higher and less stable aggregations of molecules which constitute protoplasm were built up in just the same way in which the lower and more stable aggregations of molecules which constitute a single or a double salt were built up. Dynamically, the only difference between carbonate of ammonia and protoplasm which can be called fundamental is the greater molecular complexity and consequent instability of the latter.”[3]

From every vantage, and from every survey thereafter, one fact rings true: Creation flows from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where complexity 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. Although not cognitively aware of the sensation of pain, protozoa, can skirmish with that which threatens it, resisting organised and not-so organised assaults launched against its existence[4]. By this fact alone—by this animated attitude towards a menacing world—the observer of this world sees that this primordial expression of life knows it is suffering, yet it is simply incapable of any reaction that may be mistaken for love or altruism. Climb then above this first chorus of pain-aware life[5] and the experience of physical and emotional torment only deepens with each ascending rung. In matters of potential suffering and a preferentially scored portfolio of pain, a single 200,000 years old, 100 billion neuron human being stood against a 550 million years old, 800 neuron Narcomedusae jellyfish is the structural equivalent of comparing the convoluted majesty of the International Space Station to a child’s paper and stick kite, and to then stand the Narcomedusae against the far more ancient 1.5 billion years old protozoa is to weigh the complexity of the kite to a dust mote caught up in a lazy afternoon breeze.

Put simply, 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, spilling out from the simplest and lightest towards the heaviest and most complicated, birthing planets, weather, life, action potentials, predictive and abstract thought, societies, technology, culture, tangible and, more recently, intangible economic markets. 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 suffering, and by doing so, increasing the quantity and/or quality of the Creator’s harvests over time.

“The large scale history of the universe strongly suggests a trend of increasing complexity: disordered energy states produce atoms and molecules, which combine to form suns and associated planets, on which life evolves. Life then seems to exhibit its own pattern of increasing complexity, with simple organisms getting more complex over evolutionary time until they eventually develop rationality and complex culture. And recent theoretical developments in Biology and complex systems theory suggest this trend may be real, arising from the basic structure of the universe in a predictable fashion … If this is right, you can look at the universe as a kind of ‘complexity machine’”[6]

Given 1) the naturally self-complicating nature of this universe, and given that 2) complexity births a broader and deeper variety of accessible (quantifiable) suffering, the Challenge standing before anyone wishing to counter this most basic of proofs for the existence of the Omnimalevolent Creator is to present hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous, and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more. The challenge, therefore, is to present real-world examples (taken over Creation’s 13.8 billion year history) demonstrating these paradigmatic shifts that, in-turn, illustrate a clear and unmistakable reduction over time in the diversity and potency of suffering available to all contingent things.

If this cannot be done, if the evidence cannot be assembled in a meaningful and persuasive manner to prove otherwise, then regardless of how unpalatable it might be, one must conclude that this Creation is the work of a maximally powerful, malevolent being who has structured and instructed Creation to perform as an immense pleasure-generating mechanism. 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 stimulatory satisfaction must be blind to the nature of the world they inhabit so they may act freely, and suffer genuinely.

[1] Paley, William, Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, 1802, pp. 258

[2] [2] See M. Srivastava et al., 2010, The Amphimedon queenslandica genome and the evolution of animal complexityNature, 466:720-26

[3] Fiske, John, 1902, Miscellaneous Writings, Vol 2, pp. 364—365

[4] Lian-Yong Gao and Yousef Abu Kwaik, 2000, ‘The mechanism of killing and exiting the protozoan host Acanthamoeba polyphaga by Legionella pneumophila,Environmental Microbiology, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 79–90

[5] The Cambridge Declaration, 7th of July, 2012, written by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch. University of Cambridge.

[6] 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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267 thoughts on “The Teleology Challenge

  1. Yes, but is the universe ring doughnut (donut) shaped, as certain scientists have posited, or sausage shaped, as De Selby asserts in “The Third Policeman”? If the former, then the teleological thesis makes no sense as the universe has no end in space-time. If the latter, then clearly your detractors appreciate allegorical absurdities, and I can heartily recommend Mr. O’Brien’s volume to go along with their current reading material.

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    • Conceivably, this universe is just one of millions, billions, or even trillions in use, or used, but what is certain is that this particular universe will one day expend all the hydrogen that ever existed, and with that, the Age of Stars will cease to be. Will it then be recycled, or simply tossed on a Godly midden where all the other discarded, cold, dark, empty universes are piled, who knows? 😉

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      • Before the death of galaxies and stars, or at least before the disappearance of organized matter and energy into black holes, or AT LEAST before the eventual evaporation of black holes, the universe (a brane) could collide with another brane, causing yet another Big Bang. If and when that happens, the extrapolated (and sad) expansionary end of the good times is avoided. A parallel with mass extinctions. But unless this collision happens fairly soon, good times (multi-cellular life) will probably end on this planet because of a combination of the inefficiencies of the carbon cycle and other factors, including the occasional formation of super-continents. If this theory is true, it will happen in about 25% of the time between now and the time when the sun expands into a red giant, cooking the earth.

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  2. This may be a wild guess, but I’m betting the individuals you mentioned above who wrote “rebuttals” to your thesis did not read your book. This, to me, is proof of an all-malevolent god. The anger such disingenuous behavior creates in me is food for his malevolence. No, the god you write about is not Yahweh gone bad. He is his own god, the One True God, the Owner of All Infernal Names. And he just loves it when those who should remain silent on things they don’t comprehend choose to speak on them anyway just to hear the sound of their own voices. Ah, anger! Ah, idjitory! Ah, pain! These are the things the true god craves. These are the things his creation has provided for him.

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  3. Brilliant summary! Manifest complexity, indeed. “The universe is a ‘complexity machine’ …” indeed! The creationists would be howling … if … if they could read and comprehend. What we need is some equally mischievous rich person to put up a cash prize for the person who refutes your argument. That would put real teeth into the challenge.

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  4. I’m new here, but why do you believe there is a god at all? I’m an atheist and I feel the universe or universes just came into existence either due to some science we dont understand yet or these universes or what facilitates them (still science) has always been here and always will be. Complexity is just the “mover” to eventually destroy as it also is the “mover” to create in the early stages. It’s just the flow of coming and going probably ceaseless and eternal…nothing malevolent or good….just is…

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    • Hi Mary, thanks for commenting

      The thesis proceeds from the assumption that there is a creator, but that doesn’t mean I believe there is a creator. In one respect, this (the whole book) is a working example of Poe’s Law, but for the theist, they have to treat it as a rational proposition. Does that make sense?

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      • I made the mistake of writing the book before I had any idea how i would publish it. Or what the cover might look like. But I finished a while ago. But then I took a residential job and aftwer that started an MSc … So its parked in my Google drive awaiting a few additions.
        I like that terse review.

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      • I like it, too! I contacted him by email and he promised me a more formal rebuttal. Said he’d been thinking about. Sadly, that was months ago now, so I guess he gave up.

        It’s probably a good thing to have the work sit for a while. Astonishing how you can see something differently if you ignore it for a while. Either way, i’m looking forward to reading it the moment you let it out of the stable.

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  5. Just to clarify: As I state in my framing of the debate with John, there is no possibility of disproving a argument of deduction unless one is allowed to challenge its axioms. As I repeated again and again in our discussion, the only proof of the correctness of our axioms is in the relative power of the people that subscribe to our two points of view.

    I do not need to read his book, because the broad principles that inform his thesis held sway in my own mind for many years, and in my blog I offer my refutation of the precepts upon which John argues his position (extending even to modern cosmology). He has not engaged that material in a meaningful way, and any who would impugn my intellectual and moral integrity should do so.

    Understand: my intention was never to rebut John’s claims. My intention was to offer him an invitation to consider my testimony of the power expressed in my living in surrender to love. As I see it, my very existence is a refutation of John’s thesis. His only response to my “I am!” is to retort petulantly “No you aren’t!” Well, who the frick are you to pass judgment on me? Really, I’ll choose my own god!

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    • Hi Brian, I appreciate you popping in, but who are you writing this comment to? Did you perhaps copy and paste this from some earlier external thread? It appears to be written for another person.

      ”the only proof of the correctness of our axioms is in the relative power of the people that subscribe to our two points of view.”

      With all due respect, that is absolute nonsense. There is truth, and there is non-truth. There are not variations of truth that can be scaled. Does Geocentrism hold the same “power” as Heliocentrism? Of course not, and to propose otherwise is absurd.

      The post is titled, “The Teleology Challenge.” There is no room here for metaphysics or creative wordplays. I know you like that sort of mental adventure, and I appreciate that, but its meaningless here where hard observation data must take precedence over any and all esoteric flights of fancy.

      Either you take on the challenge, as detailed, or you don’t. Your choice.

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      • John: You dispute my statements (truth is proven in relative power), and then you illustrate my points (“Geocentricism” vs. “Heliocentricism”). Falsehood may have its day, particularly when it succeeds in creating fear, but its influence decays because attempts to propagate it are a form of insanity.

        You and your friends bandy about terms of modern cosmology that originate from meager observations through long flights of mathematical and philosophical fantasy. None of those terms has been proven to have anything to do with the concrete reality that we live in. I, on the other hand, look at the observations and point out that they contradict the theoretical framework at its very foundations. Not only that, I advance an alternative framework that seamlessly merges relativity and quantum mechanics.

        I offered this out to a collection of Christian scientists, and there was a brief flurry of activity on my site. These were working scientists, subscribers to my faith, and none of them came and said “Brian, here’s where you are going wrong.” They did not comment at all. I believe that there motivations are the same as yours: They want to publish papers in refereed journals. You have written a book. You want to sell copies. It’s not about truth. It’s about money and self justification.

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      • Hi Brian,

        If you don’t appreciate cosmology, you’re free to address the Teleology Challenge from the perspective of physics, astronomy, biology, geology, meteorology, genetics, chemistry, ethology, ecology, palaeontology, immunology, neurology, physiology, sociology, economics, and even traditional theology.

        Pick one, or all of them…. It’s your choice. You have 13.8 billion years from which to assemble your data and present your verifiable evidences that refute the general thesis.

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      • Teleology – the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.

        I have already advanced myself in this regard. In a universe that has no discernible moral structure, I manifest love. Unless you believe that you can convince me that I am in error regarding my purpose, I have made an honest response to your demand.

        Of course, you can dismiss me as evidence. But if you do, please have the courtesy to leave me out of your marketing efforts. I accept being ignored, but to borrow from Ray Bradbury, to misrepresent a writer’s words is to assault his soul.

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      • Hi Brian

        I’m sure you’re very special, and I don’t doubt you’re probably a nice person, but I’m afraid “You” do not matter to the thesis. “You” have not existed for 13.8 billion years. What “You” might be is a terrific case study to demonstrate how the Problem of Good is not a problem, but beyond that, “your” existence is meaningless to the general thesis.

        Let me demonstrate this.

        In the book I use an example of an individual who may be considered vastly superior to you and your achievements: the German chemist and inventor of synthetic fertilisers, Fritz Haber. It is estimated (See Smil, Vaclav, 2004, Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production, MIT Press) Haber is responsible for saving up to 3 billion lives with his work. I think you’ll agree, it’s 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 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 stimulatory satisfaction 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.

        More bodies doing more things over a longer time can only be scored as a breathtaking augmentation of resources.

        So, when you say “I have made an honest response to your demand” I have to say, no, you haven’t even begun.

        What is standing before you is a challenge (the Teleology Challenge) to present demonstrable, quantifiable, real-world examples of this Creation transitioning to less complexity over time, not more. What is standing before you is a challenge to present demonstrable, quantifiable, real-world, unambiguous examples of this Creation working towards a reduction, not enhancement, in potential and real suffering over time.

        The task can’t be presented any clearer.

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      • Hi Brian

        If and when you present it, I’ll be happy to review what hard evidences you have demonstrating this Creation working towards a reduction, not enhancement, in potential and real suffering over time.

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      • My evidence encompasses yours, but extends to the claim of the existence of the soul, which arises in every human culture. As I said, your response to my joyous “I am!”, is only “No you aren’t!” You deny my knowledge of my own self, of my soul, and thus (as I feel it) do not see value in my attempts to reconcile science and spirituality.

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      • Hi Brian

        Again, regardless of how meaningful it might be to you, “your” personal opinion/experience means nothing to the challenge as presented. Can you, yes or no, present hard evidences detailing impressive and unambiguous movements towards less complexity over time… Evidences that can then be shown to indicate an impressive, unambiguous and lasting reduction in the variety and potency of suffering?

        Yes or no?

        If yes, then present this evidence so we can review it. If no, then please stop wasting my time.

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      • John, you know, I honored your request to not dialog on this site. I am back here not because I am interested in disputing your thesis – it’s because you accused me of lying on another forum, and when I brought the discussion over to my site, you posted a link here that mischaracterized my writings. I am here to defend my reputation. If you don’t want me to participate here, then don’t mention me in your dialogs, and don’t attack my character or intellectual integrity.

        As for your evidence: hospitals, public schools, industrial hygiene, sanitation, democracy. And, of course, ultimately the end of life – either as you understand it, in the entropic death of the universe (no life = no suffering), or as I see it, in terms borrowed from the Buddhists, in release from samsara into the realm of the eternal.

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      • First up, I never told you not to comment here. You were not addressing the matter at hand, exactly as you are doing so here once again, and I called you on it… as I am doing so again. Second, I accused you of lying? That’s interesting. Evidence, please.

        hospitals, public schools, industrial hygiene, sanitation, democracy.

        What of them?

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      • John:

        That you for this entertaining dialog. I have accomplished my goals here, which was to identify the axioms that generate the different conclusion we draw about the nature of this reality. It appears that my acceptance and celebration of spiritual evolution is the only difference, which is really amazing to me, given how far our opinions differ.

        Enjoy your life.

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      • You also manifest a certain level of contempt (taken from the content of your comments). And right there is exactly the problem: both are true because 1 must exist in contrast to the other. But that is only true in evil. In omnibenevolence, love is love and peace is peace and neither is exaggerated, in terms of its qualia, by the existence of hate and war. Whereas, hate and war are exaggerated by the presence of peace and love. (“There can be no true dispair without hope”.)
        Your imperfect manifest of love is directly required for the maximisation of evil.
        It may be possible, and I implore JZ to investigate, what the optimal level of good is for the sake of maximising evil (through fear of loss and contrast and habituation and other odd quirks of psychology that appear tuned for the suppression of good). That would protect my assertion, that good is necessary to maximise evil, from the accusation of being to easily a varied explanation.

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      • I deal with this throughout the thesis, but this section which addresses William Paley’s disastrous attempt to explain how maximum evil could not exist, sums it up nicely:

        “If he [the Creator] has wished our misery he might have made sure of his purpose, by forming our senses to be so many sores and pains to us, as they are now instruments of gratification and enjoyment: or by placing us amidst objects so ill-suited to our perceptions, as to have continually offended us, instead of ministering to our refreshment and delight. He might have made, for example, everything we tasted, bitter; everything we saw, loathsome; everything we touched, a sting; every smell, a stench; and every sound, discord.”

        Self-evidently, for it to be intelligible and consequential, an animal must be capable of knowing it is suffering, and it cannot know this unless it has a peak point of pleasure established at some moment in the past against which it can gauge the depths of its misery in the present. If the Creator had made everything men saw loathsome, everything he touched, a sting, every smell, a stench, and every sound, discord, as Paley proposed evil would surely do, then neither men nor beast could possibly ever distinguish the beautiful from the deplorable, the warm caress from the sharp bite, the aromatic from the stench, and the sweet harmony from the obtuse noise.

        How could one be offended by bitterness if all liquids were bitter? How could the elderly experience the terrible blights of immobility, perennial pain, mental degradation and the noisy rampage of senility if they had not once run free as young men and women? How could a single human being recognise the unspeakable terror of cancer or total war if that same human being had not first savoured the joys of good health and peace? How could a lioness understand the dangerous agony and vicious loneliness of ostracism if she had not first experienced the thrill and safety of the pride? How could the long eared jerboa appreciate the anguish of drought if it had not first tasted the delights of the wet season? Could one of psychologist Harry Harlow’s doomed rhesus macaque monkeys have known the true and utter destructive horrors of being trapped inside his experimental ‘pits of despair’ if it had not first known the freedom of movement and the pleasures of communion? Indeed, how could a once healthy mind lose itself if it had not first known itself?

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      • Not to mention that the system of evil, in order to maximise evil, must be made as near-perpetual as it can. Thus, it must make sense in the context of evolution and the want to survive. If everything were sore and “continually offended us”, the duration of people capable of qualia would be bounded. There must be just enough good–(hope)–to encourage the continuation of life.

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      • Absolutely! Existential despair must be avoided at all costs, and I establish the ways that is achieved. I hope you read it… I have this feeling you’re going to thoroughly enjoy it for what it is.

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      • Apparently I’m a “party pooper” when I say “I’m not sure he likes that… no, really, you keep asking him if he likes that and I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘no’.”

        That just don’t get that a Rubik’s cube is not the high of hi jinx any more.

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      • Wisely and truly spoken!
        Although, accusing you of contempt wasn’t my goal. It was my goal to point out that love does not negate JZ’s point.

        A challenge I put to another blogger (elsewhere) is whether you could rebut ‘The Problem of Suffering’ from (from more traditional theology) more reasonably that JZ can address ‘The Problem of Goodness’ in his malevolent theology.
        That said, I think your response to my initial comment might be more interesting.

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      • If you read to the end of my dialog with him, you’ll find that I arrive at hope not be rejecting any of John’s axioms, but by adding one.

        In the end, though, we all run our own little experiment. Reality acts as a filter for our ideas. I, too, know what it means to be an iconoclast.

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      • Hope is necessary for greater evil. 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…

        None of these little thrills and delightful pleasures would be possible in the absence of hope. Without it, life, in all its varied expression, would be stunted. It would lack all creativity, and without inventiveness, without vision and imagination and ambition, the most tasteful pockets of Creation would quickly succumb to friction and fall into an antithetical malaise of inactivity.

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      • You express clearly the perspective of the Darwinian predator. I choose to put on the perspective of the engineer.

        My experience of life is that most “evil” is committed by people that are doing as was done to them until they find someone strong enough to show them how to heal. Someday TOOAIN will work his problems out.

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    • “Understand: my intention was never to rebut John’s claims. My intention was to offer him an invitation to consider my testimony of the power expressed in my living in surrender to love.”

      Now, why does every theist make this claim, after their rebuttal fails? There is no power expressed at all in your testimony, just one more theist making a claim that their version of their religion is the only truth.

      I’ve read the bible to refute it. It’s a shame that you refuse to actually read the book you claim is wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m currently writing several rebuttals to other rebuttals rebutting them, though I’ve not read them. Since I understand what rebuttals are, my new blog is called “REBUT THIS!”, I’ve no need of anything to rebut rebuttals. My own superior sense of self in all I say, do and think is enough for me to rebut any rebuttal, or original thesis, I choose, and, if you don’t like it, well, you’re silly. You see, my superior intellect allows my disingenuous actions to be as valued as those actions that aren’t disingenuous. Why, you ask? Because I say so. That’s why. So, to conclude: I do not need to read a thesis to rebut it. If I say I understand it, then I do. It’s too much work to read things and THEN critique them. I’m busy. And smart. So, to conclude a second time, it will deeply offend me if you rebut my stance on rebuttals because it will prove you don’t respect me for being disingenuous, and that’s just rude. So, don’t do it. Damn, rebuttal writing is a lot of work. Thank The Owner Of All Infernal Names I don’t actually have to read that which I’m rebutting as well. I’d never be able to leave the house. In conclusion, again, always remember, when writing rebuttals, do so whilst seated on your butt. It’s too hard to type while standing. Now, I’m off to write a rebuttal to every blog I’ve never read. Whew! Gonna be busy today.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Teleology Challenge | Christians Anonymous

  8. You know, John, I’ve found the posts you linked to quite enlightening. Everyone who’s attempted a rebuttal hasn’t read your work. The hubris they have for arguing from their ignorance is astounding.

    Oh, and I shall quote Durgalon for a rebuttal to your argument:

    “TENTACLE SEX ALWAYS HAS A HAPPY ENDING. THEREFORE SMERGIE IS LOVE. THOU MUST ACCEPT THIS AND LET HIM DRIP HIS SWEET JELLIED CHAOS ON THY FACE.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that, Sir, is a valid rebuttal!

      But yes, as Inspired has also pointed out, its interesting to see people address a thesis they’ve never read, but are certain they know what it’s all about. Brian, above, is a classic case. Means well, I’m sure, but impressively arrogant in his total naivety.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m also VERY critical of people’s wardrobe, even though I don’t really know them and have never seen many of them, even in a picture. As a matter of fact, the people whose wardrobe I’m MOST critical of are people I’ve never seen in person and have no way of knowing what they’re wearing. John, why, oh why are you wearing that shirt?! It makes you look FAT!!! Jeebus, my friend! And those shoes! WTF? Did you grow up in a mud pile? And get a friggin’ hair cut for god sake. You look like a dead beat hippie that’s been spit out of 1967. What’s the matter with people today?

        Like

      • I don’t think he means well at all. If he’s willing to read an apologist’s book, then intellectual integrity demands he reads your book as well. At the least, he’s showing he thinks less of you as a human being than people that agree with him.

        The same thing goes for the other links above. Every single one of them proudly announce how they’re right without even knowing what it is they’re speaking out against. If their deity radiates love, peace, and understanding, these people are not getting any of it.

        Like

  9. Dear John. Just read that the only reason you wrote your book is to make money. Funny, that is, as I only write rebuttals to books I haven’t read to make money. So far, I’m down about 600 dollars, but, with a little luck, by this time 78 years from now, I’ll be back to even. I just wrote 6 insulting reviews to articles on theoretical physics that I haven’t read. I’m hoping to get rich from this. I also demand respect for writing about things I haven’t read, and I expect people to respect the respect I demand for it. Those who do not are poopy brains. Tossing out insults about things I haven’t read is what I’m best at….well, that and being a disingenuous ass who can’t understand why his opinions are scoffed at just because they lack any semblance of merit. OK, that’ll be 45 dollars. You can send it via carrier pigeon if you wish, but please hurry. I’m starving.

    Like

  10. Just made 76 thousand dollars rebutting your post on “I Ain’t Read It.com”. Great site to criticize shit you haven’t read or seen. I’m writing several movie reviews for it for movies I’ve not seen, nor will ever see, and they’re paying me 85 thousand for each review. AWESOME!!!! Lordy be, I love being a disingenuous, self-righteous prick who can expect respect for my critiques of things I’ve not read or seen. God bless America, and God bless disingenuous people!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah. Right. You’ll probably say shit like this to anyone who critiques your shit without reading it. Right! Smart you are. Making fun of me! Ha! What disrespect! At least Brian SHOWS he’s an idiot by defending the fact he’s an idiot! But you, you make obscure references that demand a rebuttal I won’t make because I know what they are. So, THERE!!!! Eat that!!!! You anti-Yahweh mother fucker!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. A quiet period this evening allowed me to read the full post. Apart from being humbled by the exquisite use of so many fine words and expressions, the force of logic, as it comes to me, in favour of such a Creator takes some beating. Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Haven’t got past this bit yet—

    “We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken. We must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator.”

    And that one paragraph, by itself, suffices … we can now close the book, ring the bell, and douse the candle.

    Bingo~!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I find the central idea presented by the Abrahamic theologian thoroughly baffling… They are conceding their particular Creator is incompetent and has lost control of his creation. It’s ludicrous.

      Granted, this excuse is emotionally pleasing, placating, but patently absurd.

      Like

      • God’s three defining omnis shoot the whole thing into the realms of contradiction.

        Self-contradiction, which ices the cake; it boils down in essence to ‘What is God’s purpose?’ … could Good ol’ god be the only Guy in existence with no purpose?

        Liked by 1 person

      • What is God’s purpose?

        I love that question. Praetorius (i think it was Praetorius) posed that question this morning regarding TOOAIN, saying it made no sense that God would create beings for his own amusement and pleasure. Why not, I had to ask.

        About the Omni-problem… In the book, I posit that TOOAIN must suspend his omniscience, or else existence would be meaningless.

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      • “In the book, I posit that TOOAIN must suspend his omniscience, or else existence would be meaningless.” I LIKE that idea! Though, once suspended, I wonder how hard omniscience is to restart? Meant to ask, as I’ve not yet read the book (sorry, I will) is there any significance to the name TOOAIN? Did you simply make it up (something I’d NEVER do) or is there more meaning behind it?

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      • Ahhhh, that’s the interesting part. You can play with ideas here. Does he set a certain time limit? Does he forget himself so completely that he has no idea he is even the creator? You should read that chapter. it’s the last, and it’s a wild few pages 🙂

        Like

      • If She-He-It (ok, Sheit) can do anything, then of course Sheit can make Themselfs ignorant. Supremely so, in fact; otherwise nothing makes sense. Actually …

        Sheesh~!

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      • I’ve stated often enough that the Abrahamic ‘god’ is a colossal sadist … never yet been called on it. Methinks some folks just blush and look the other way …

        Liked by 1 person

  13. the caliber of the supposed refuters does explain how they fail so neatly. Such tiny little bullets. Their arguments are always the same “I don’t like it and how dare you ask me for evidence of my claims”. followed shortly by running away. Caroline is my favorite for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello John,

    If your argument is true then so be it. There is no Yahweh and there is no God(s).

    Our ancient ancestors must have then been visited by advanced beings and in their primitive state they mistook them as Gods. Even the Bible speaks about craft, “wheel within a wheel”, and “pillars of smoke”, etc. Even the Hindus Vedas tells about flying vessels and wars between the Gods.

    So what if the New Testament is not a telling of real facts. Would it hurt any of us to “have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    But NO – NEVER. There is wickedness in the world. There are those that will not take instruction to love and give and build and look inward for peace. There are many that have no tolerance to let others live in peace and worship and love the way they choose, even IF it is a made-up story. They have been hurt and they will cling to that hurt and bitterness to their dying day all the while trying to bring misery to as many people as they can. They are not here to give hope but to tear down..

    I find all the effort you put into this quite a waste of time. Do you really think any Creator cares one little bit about what you think? NO. Will you ever convince someone who God has branded His own that your nonsense makes sense? No. You are not His, you never were and most likely never will be.

    Liked by 1 person

      • What? You want me to “present hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous, and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more.”

        Like

      • Well, yes. Did you read the post? If you haven’t, perhaps you should, just so we’re on the same page.

        What is standing before you is a challenge (the Teleology Challenge) to present demonstrable, quantifiable, real-world examples of this Creation transitioning to less complexity over time, not more. What is standing before you is a challenge to present demonstrable, quantifiable, real-world, unambiguous examples of this Creation working towards a reduction, not enhancement, in potential and real suffering over time.

        Like

      • I think we are better off now than 100 years ago. I would agree we have problems but I would much more want to live in 2015 than in 1915. I think we grow everyday as humans, getting better and better. We have eradicated many diseases such as leprosy and polio. I think the brain God gave us will always grow and we will always get better and better.

        Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil (suffering) is that good men do nothing.”

        So much of the history of the struggle between good and evil can be explained by Edmund Burke’s observation. Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to wreck havoc far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right.

        In the parable of the talents, Jesus described a man who did nothing. When he received his Lord’s money, he “went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money”. When his Lord returned, he returned to the Lord just what he had been given. Notice, the servant did not do any outright evil, such as stealing the money, but then neither did he do anything good. He did nothing and he got nothing good accomplished. Jesus said he was a “wicked and slothful servant”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think we are better off now than 100 years ago.

        On many levels, many of us are, I fully agree. We have cured many terrible diseases, and we may celebrate our apparent mastery over the naturally corrosive effects of life. Medicine has reduced childhood mortality rates, and lengthened lives of those of us in developed nations. We prosper, and as we do, as we look at the larger picture, we become weaker. With wealth and an accompanying diet saturated in sugars and fats arrives the mostly non-communicable diseases of affluence, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, extraordinary cancers, thrombosis, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, alcoholism, addictions, depression, and a zoo of exotic allergies to the chemicals that sustain all industrialised societies. You are aware, Roy, your country is suffering an obesity epidemic. With affluence, however, also come the debased gifts born of abuse, misuse, and overuse. In the ten-year period from 1991–92 to 2001–02, addiction to opiate-based painkillers trebled in the U.S., and today twice as many Americans are dependent on or abusing prescription pain relievers as the number of people addicted to cocaine. Did you know, opioid overdoses now in fact kill more people than cocaine or heroin, yet these pungent blights which ravage the more chemically susceptible segments of any given population pales to the massive and non-discriminatory misery being brought about by the over prescription of antibiotics. This mindless overuse of the once almost magical corrective innovation has spawned, and is continuing to spawn, a garden of so-named superbugs: magnificent pathogens talented and virulent enough to decimate populations and ruin economies.

        Jim O’Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, was tasked to review this emerging horror, and his 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance report, he wrote:

        “Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could be more than 10 million. The economic cost will also be significant, with the world economy being hit by up to $100 trillion by 2050 if we do not take action.”

        In launching O’Neill’s findings, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, soberly remarked: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine.” In India, this ‘almost unthinkable scenario’ is not some future terror to be feared like some ghastly ghoul who might or might not arrive tomorrow, but an immediate hell that is already being lived. Across the gravely overpopulated south Asian continent a “tsunami of antibiotic resistance” is presently killing tens of thousands of new-borns every quarter because once-miraculous cures simply no longer work, and in their 2014 report, The Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy researchers warn of having already found India-specific superbugs such as New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase 1 (NDM1) around the world, including France, Japan, Oman and the United States.

        Now, shall we talk about Global Climate Change? What about income/wealth inequality? Are you aware of how many species are made extinct every day? Do you know what the current state of the oceans are?

        It’s important to note here, though, that 100 years is only a fraction of the canvas available for study. Trends, genuine trends, cannot be established in a single century, but as I have already demonstrated, we are not moving towards less suffering, rather more refined expressions of it. For example, speculative markets did not exist 100 years ago, and look at what happened in 2008. How fragile is this system? Has greed been eradicated, or simply become better dressed?

        But you mention improvements, and this is an important point. In the book I use many examples, so allow me to present one here:

        Take as a further example the automobile and all those abstractions connected to this mechanised horse. What was the end of the world for stable hands and buggy drivers was the beginning of prosperity for automobile manufacturers and oil refiners. The old gives way to the new, and with the new comes more vibrant families of pain.

        In 1889 a total of 26 road deaths were recorded in the United States. By 2013 that number had exploded to approximately 35,500 . Globally, that number stands at 1.24 million and the Impartial Observer notes that the World Health Organisation predicts the body of carnage will grow to 1.9 million by 2020 .

        Alone, the automobile has been an indisputable boon for suffering with deaths scattered across roads the world over, leaving physical, emotional and financial ruin in these little disasters wake. Safety innovations, however, such as airbags and seatbelts and better constructed cars and roads have seen many, many more bodies surviving these localised, personalised disasters. The result: in 2010, in the U.S. alone, 2,239,000 human bodies were shattered in road accidents , yet to the certain delight of The Owner of All Infernal Names, survived.

        In the final tally, instead of one dead motorist in 1990, there exists a living quadriplegic in 2014, forced to spend the rest of his life—decades—in a wheeled chair, unable to find work, and dependent on others for his very survival. In the mind of the Omnimalevolent Creator a cash cow has been created—a vigorous, energetic, sincere and dynamic product that will faithfully discharge all that which The Owner of All Infernal Names finds delicious, arousing, entertaining and, ultimately, fulfilling.

        The story does not however end with simple human ruin.

        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. The chronicler of this misery must also then consider the astonishing loss of habitat caused by new roads and highways, and the towns that have sprung up along them. The ombudsman of this engineered mayhem must also consider the billions of tons of pollution from combustion engines, the devastation of marine and coastal habitats caused by massive oil spills, and the killing of entire river systems through petrochemical dumping and runoff. Oil wars are yet another ledger altogether, its sickly black pages filled in by the biographer of this self-authored wreckage with the cases of societal turmoil and astonishing economic disparities that, ultimately, drives even more complex conflicts and political instability.

        So, Roy, has a genuine trend towards less complexity, less suffering, been established?

        Like

      • The Teleology Argument is the “argument from design”, or “intelligent design argument”. It is an argument for the existence of God or, more generally, for an intelligent creator “based on perceived evidence of deliberate design in the natural or physical world”

        Contrary to what you say, I see Creation transitioning to more complexity over time, not less.

        I see all around me Creation working towards enhancement, not reduction, in potential and real suffering over time. Sure we have problems but it is, and will get better.

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      • Contrary to what you say, I see Creation transitioning to more complexity over time, not less..

        Um, that is what I am saying. Exactly.

        I see all around me Creation working towards enhancement, not reduction, in potential and real suffering over time.

        Yes, exactly.

        Sure we have problems but it is, and will get better.

        You are limiting yourself to humans only here, we are just one species, but you’re certainly free to try and establish the grounds for this belief.

        Just note, I’m going out, so if you respond I might not be able to reply until tomorrow.

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      • “has a genuine trend towards less complexity, less suffering, been established?”

        I think so, from my perspective.

        You have to realize we are all not all on the same page. Some lag behind, some are less educated, some are less in-tuned and some have succumbed to the will of the flesh. Some have no tolerance for a different belief. Most take the easy route in life. Some choose to continue to smoke knowing it will kill them. Some drink three cokes a day knowing high-fructose corn syrup contributes to diabetes. They consume high carb diets creating obesity. They save nothing and borrow too much. They are a burden and tax the environment but they are people and they deserve a chance. It is not my job to execute those I might deem unfit to live yet I will fight those that wish to kill me and those others.

        Who throws out the baby with the bath water? No one. We have always taken two steps forward and one step back. We advance and we pull the others along with us. We create wealth and we use it to make things better.

        I can not make you, or any one else, do what is right. But I can do what is right. And I can do as much as I can to help do good and if I die trying then I die trying.

        You mention a lot of bad things but it in no way proves your argument. In layman’s terms, “Shit Happens, Always Has And Always Will”. Do nothing, sit on your ass steamed, and it only gets worse.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Roy

        Are you aware you’ve contradicted yourself? You wrote: “Contrary to what you say, I see Creation transitioning to more complexity over time, not less. I see all around me Creation working towards enhancement, not reduction, in potential and real suffering over time.” Firstly, that’s a baffling admission as you are simply confirming the thesis. But now you make this statement: “’has a genuine trend towards less complexity, less suffering, been established?’ I think so, from my perspective.”

        I’m assuming there’s an error somewhere here.

        It’s hard to continue without this confusion first being cleared up, but allow me to make a few notes on your recent thoughts. First, you’re looking at only the most recent handful of decades when Creation has existed for 13.8 billion years, and will exist for a trillion or few more until all the hydrogen that ever existed is exhausted and the Age of Stars ceases. The earth has a 4 billion year history, and a 5 billion year future until it is annihilated by Sol. Generally speaking, evolutionary/celestial time is the appropriate measure here. That said, our species truly is a magnificent case study, and you’re right to focus on it… understanding, of course, it’s just one tiny, albeit presently vibrant vein in a vast pleasure-generating mechanism. Let us, however, look at the human adventure and see the macro trend.

        Consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later. To the Omnimalevolent Creator, the cultured object is undoubtedly the more impressive, deceptively more vulnerable asset. Although seemingly blessed with some level of security unheard of to the wandering man (a primitive who shares his very living space with single-minded predators) the cultured man is, in the eyes of a degenerate being, a far more compromised stock that promises a greater return on investment. Dependency on systems entirely out of his control, and attachment to possessions from which he draws a sense of personal identity leaves the cultured man dangerously exposed to fluctuations in his living conditions whereby even tiny shifts in his circumstances are amplified in ways impossible for the wandering man to ever understand, or experience.

        As you can see, while complexity (here being cultural/technological/economic/societal) brings certain cherished gifts to be appreciate at superficial levels, it simultaneously serves to stratify the marketplace, creating a host of new markets previously unheard of. This is Creations impulse, to specialise and diversify. A population, after all, must be fattened before it can be starved. This is not, however, to say the Creator desires total civilisational collapse. He doesn’t, although He does not interfere in human affairs.

        Roy, you are a market trader, so look to Creation as a marketplace.

        “From the Creator’s tremendous perspective, product groups must therefore have a degree of freedom and time to establish a foothold in their environment. Localised populations, species, or even entire genuses require a blanket of early protection so as to begin the process of self-embellishment, and with some internal resiliency established these product groups may then self-experiment, adapt to strategic variables, and with any luck push through the more treacherous phases of market entry and early growth to the greater security realised when they mature into successful, robust, profitable cash cows flushed with compost-like potential.
        It stands to simple reason that a marketplace crowded with diverse profit-generating bodies could never be realised if that market was underwritten by turmoil alone. Small plagues and pandemics, for example, are permissible, if not delightful, but total civilisational collapse followed by centuries of economic, intellectual, and population decline is not the windfall it might initially appear to be. The clever market trader, observant of his or her medium to long-term investment strategy, does not, after all, ever wish for a complete market failure. Granted, there is great opportunity to be had when isolated markets do in fact collapse, the astute investor can always capitalise on momentarily distressed stocks and bonds, but overall, the mindful broker’s interests are best served by a general ballooning of the greater marketplace over time.”

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  15. With all due respect, the argument does not seem new to me: it was the central thesis of the Catha’s. The Catholic Church did not like it, and proclaimed a crusade against the huge County of Toulouse and surrounding areas. A million died, and the Cathars were exterminated to the last, and so were all their books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patrice, and thanks for the comment.

      I’m guessing you meant Cathars, but as far as I’m aware, they were dualists. The Owner of All Infernal Names does not share His creation with any other comparable spirit. There is not, and never was, 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.

      That is the thesis, but it is open to being falsified if one can present persuasive teleological evidence that demonstrates otherwise.

      Like

      • My understanding of the Cathar heresy is that while they were (are…they (Gnostics) are BACK!) dualists in one sense, there dualism lied in defining the physical universe as by definition debased and effectively evil. The physical universe was created by a fallen fragment of the transcendent Godhead, who exists outside of our physical universe. So, you are right, there is not really a battle in this Plane of Existence. The Cathars located the “good” OUTSIDE our physical realm, a physical realm they saw as irredeemably debased. Their goal was to leave the physical universe and join the transcendent godhood.

        Some Gnostics posited that the Demiurge is angry and aware of His fallen state. perhaps suffering is his way of getting back at the transcendent godhood?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps. As Patrice rightly says, though, this is not a new idea, its actually the most obvious, but we have very few traditions dedicated to it. Of course, this can be explained quite easily: no one wants to believe this. Existential despair doesn’t make money, imbue no power in the priest, and is just generally glum. What “sells” (emotionally) is the promise of redemption, of immunity, of escape. It’s all terror management in the end.

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  16. Oh my goodness, that’s almost as long as your book! From what I’ve read, your argument is water tight. I’m afraid those who attempted rebuttal probably aren’t equipped to deal with it. And anyone who is will likely shrug it off. It would be impossible to get someone of religious persuasion educated to the required level to approach your work with an open mind. If they dared open it at all …

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    • One professional apologist (Matt Manry) has promised me a formal rebuttal. He left a review on Goodreads (which I didn’t even know I was on) which simply read: “Very dark, not very good.” I contacted him and asked for clarification. He promised a formal essay, but that was months ago now, and he never replied to my follow-up email. so yeah, looks like he’s given up the effort. Wise guy, I guess 😉

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  17. Pingback: Book Review | ladysighs

  18. “You have written a book. You want to sell copies. It’s not about truth. It’s about money and self justification.”

    Using Brian’s logic, can we say, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Mike Murdock, Joyce Myers, etc, etc ???

    Not only did Brian not read your book, he didn’t bother to read where the proceeds would be going either. Another embarrassment for the Apologist Team.

    And they wonder why they aren’t taken seriously…………………….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Was wondering if Brian would ever realise this… But I’m not holding my breath. he is the classic example of “I don’t like this idea, therefore it is wrong.” All critical thought is shut down, if it was ever on at all. On Insanity’s blog he even said he didn’t have to read the thesis to know what is in it. You have to laugh.

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  19. Oh my John! Better you tackling this subject of Creator vs. No Creator, Design vs. Observer, Fields of Science vs. Human Imagination, etc, than me tackling it! Whew! (wipes forehead) 😉

    My human interactions are mostly with a much less educated, lower skills of articulation, less science-oriented ears and brains than you encounter and dialogue with and I like it that way! LOL

    What I do enjoy most about our ‘different approaches’ from different backgrounds, is that you and I — along with many, many other great minds interpreting a plethora of evidence, data, and unconventional open-mindedness — arrive at the same destination, i.e. the more we explore and learn BEYOND our tiny-blue-dot planet and how it operates within progressively understood Quantum Mechanics & Physics, as a species we deviate further and wider from ridiculously confining antiquated myths and conventions which simply put CANNOT fit in current and future paradigms, obviously! 😉

    To be determined” is my liberating life-view which you are a delightful contributor… and I LOVE IT!!! Thank you Sir. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that… To be determined, the court is out, Gone Fishing, Be Back in 5 🙂

      But let’s be honest… If one wants to posit a Creator, a concealed Creator no less, then one must look honestly at what was “created.” What does the design reveal? What is this machine programmed to do?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Completely agree John! And after 3 long years of ‘waiting’ for those POV’s, in the end I had to go do it myself. Hence 3-years of seminary at RTS Jackson, MS for the “cognitive side” of faithing and 9-years of obedient ‘works’ for the experiential side of this mysterious Lord. I did most everything the Scriptures asked of me for God/Yahweh/Allah to show His true colours and His faithfulness to me “stepping up”. And then when MORE questions arose during those 9-10 years, the patent answer was He reveals himself thru His Believers and their love and works. HAH!!! That only made my “faithfulness” weaker over time! What to do next? Well, that is when I removed myself, my ego, and my emotional tendencies to “fit in”… and examined ALL the various POV’s and soon realized I cannot teach and proclaim what I was living with any integrity discovering the many, many holes and flaws in the “Earliest Xian” history. Which naturally flowed back into Judaism — obviously the last Abrahamic religion fell by the wayside like a load of bricks.

        So my friend, your question(s) to me and those Creationists is beyond justified! I went through it with an open-mind wider than the Grand Canyon. I am now an extremely happy liberated Freethinking Humanist… or as I like to tell my religious peers: A human from planet Earth, plain & simple. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Applause!

        Hey, are you following the Dissillusionist? He hasn’t revealed his identity yet, but says he’s a major evangelical personality and is, yes, an Atheist. He is detailing how he has lost his faith and the process he is now on as he builds up to his final “coming out.”

        I think he would thoroughly appreciate your input.

        https://adisillusionist.wordpress.com/?utm_content=buffera3ffb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Is there somewhere to obtain your theory without having to pay you money first? Or are you asking people to give you money for the honor to engage you in debate?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. As I wait on email, John, and I work through your synopsis above I came across this in your basic premise:

    “Cooled gases become liquids, cooled liquids become solids, and solids arrange themselves into increasingly complex, ultimately self-replicating patterns, no driver required.”

    I occurs to me that very few solids in the universe actually arrange themselves into self-replicating patterns. Very, very few. You might want to consider this.

    “Hydrogen fuses into the heavier and more complex helium, which in turn fuses into the heavier and more complex carbon. These are positive movements, and they are predominantly in one direction: towards greater and greater complexity.”

    While I am no chemist, I am not really sure I concur that hydrogen is less “complex” than helium. Perhaps some ground rule definition of what you mean by “complex” would be helpful here.

    But would you consider that if I could provide natural processes that move (by design) to simpler rather than more complex states you may have a flaw in your underlying assumptions/logic?

    I have not gotten to you central theme as to why complexity=evil/suffering but I’ll get there eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Eric, thanks for the comment.

      ”I am not really sure I concur that hydrogen is less “complex” than helium.”

      Why not? Hydrogen has one proton, one electron, and an atomic weight of 1.00794 u. Helium has two protons, two electrons, one or two neutrons, and weighs 4.002602 u. By any measure, it is more complex.

      Complexity is simply the passage from the simple to more involved, the more embellished, more intricate, diverse, sophisticated. With complexity comes greater potential. Is a 1.5 billion years old single-celled protozoa more or less complex than a 550 million years old Narcomedusae jellyfish with 800 neurons? Which is exposed to a greater variety of suffering?

      I used this example for cultural complexity above, so I’ll just repeat it here:

      Consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later. To the Omnimalevolent Creator, the cultured object is undoubtedly the more impressive, deceptively more vulnerable asset. Although seemingly blessed with some level of security unheard of to the wandering man (a primitive who shares his very living space with single-minded predators) the cultured man is, in the eyes of a degenerate being, a far more compromised stock that promises a greater return on investment. Dependency on systems entirely out of his control, and attachment to possessions from which he draws a sense of personal identity leaves the cultured man dangerously exposed to fluctuations in his living conditions whereby even tiny shifts in his circumstances are amplified in ways impossible for the wandering man to ever understand, or experience.

      ”But would you consider that if I could provide natural processes that move (by design) to simpler rather than more complex states you may have a flaw in your underlying assumptions/logic?”

      I’m guessing it would depend entirely on what systems you’re talking about, but generally speaking, not at all. Markets fluctuate, and occasionally even collapse. Mass extinction events are a clear example of systems becoming temporarily less-complex. It can however be argued that such occasional catastrophes are demonstrably necessary to in fact spur growth and stimulate new shoots in much the same way an orchardist triggers growth in his trees through aggressive pruning. Here the orchardist purposefully targets diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, and structurally unsound or unwanted tissue so as to train and coax the plant to greater health, vibrancy and output. As noted by anthropologist, Roger Lewin:

      “…there have been tremendous bursts of innovation…in the history of life, mostly in the wake of mass extinctions. For instance, following the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago, in which an estimated 96 percent of existing species perished, the rate of innovation almost matched that of the Cambrian. But the innovation was principally variations upon existing themes; no major new themes were added. In the Cambrian, by contrast, innovation was largely at the level of producing new themes, with variations upon them being relatively minor.” (Lewin, R., 1993, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, University of Chicago press, pp.65)

      It might help here to consider Creation like a marketplace. As I wrote above: “The clever market trader, observant of his or her medium to long-term investment strategy, does not, after all, ever wish for a complete market failure. Granted, there is great opportunity to be had when isolated markets do in fact collapse, the astute investor can always capitalise on momentarily distressed stocks and bonds, but overall, the mindful broker’s interests are best served by a general ballooning of the greater marketplace over time.”

      Now, in time, this universe will, of course, slide into a state of less and less complexity. This particular universe has a useable service life. The Age of Stars will end. One may consider, then, this universe (this particular canvas) as a timed game. We are but one of perhaps multiple ‘games’ in play, but each of these games will end. Perhaps it will be a hot death in some great crush when all matter is recalled, or perhaps it will be a cold death when all the hydrogen that ever existed is eventually spent (as one day it will surely be) and the last stars extinguish for what the human mind perceives as forever. At that time, when the game is over, this once vibrant and vast cosmic sheet will conceivably be tossed aside, flung onto a pile where perhaps millions, billions, or even trillions of other discarded, empty, now cold and dark universes lie in an appalling Godly midden—a supernal mound of cosmic refuse.

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      • ”But would you consider that if I could provide natural processes that move (by design) to simpler rather than more complex states you may have a flaw in your underlying assumptions/logic?”

        I’m guessing it would depend entirely on what systems you’re talking about, but generally speaking, not at all.”

        An ever present natural force that constantly sorts and resorts to continually and persistently move matter to a more orderly and simple state – in an easily observable and understood timeframe, btw, not in cosmic ages by any means. There are many examples of such, btw. I can easily think of two.

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      • Regarding the simple Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer and your case (I think) that because he is less culturally complex he is open to a smaller variety of suffering than the modern man, I put forth two comments:

        1. The number and variety of threats to the well-being of the Palaelithic man FAR exceed the number and variety of actual threats to the well-being of the modern man. Its not even close.

        2. The modern man, however, very likely PERCEIVES a greater number of threats to his well being and likely worries about it (suffers) far more than did the hunter gatherer (but maybe not, our jumping at shadows survival instinct came from somewhere after all).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Eric

        Suffering may be taken to be physiological or psychological.

        To your first point, you’ve made a blanket statement here with no supporting evidence. I’d be interested to see if you can establish this point. Do you, however, truly think the hunter-gather is exposed to less physiological threats? Can he be run over by a car? Can he die in a plane or train crash? Can he cut himself on stainless steel knife, or lop his hand off accidently with a circular saw? Does he know terrorism, drone strikes, or long range artillery? The news today is filled with Americans being riddled with fear and anxiety. What about crime? Identity theft? Does he smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or take drugs? Is his air polluted with chemicals? How many exotic cancers is the hunter-gather exposed to? I could go on, but this is the challenge before you.

        Now, we must then consider the sweeter, more refined expressions of psychological suffering. I have mentioned the abstractions and anxieties of home ownership, but this of course extends to the work environment, broad scale economics, and political turmoil. Are our phobias more complex today? I would argue yes, but you might disagree, and I’d be interested to hear your case if you do. As Creation diversifies and specialises (here being cultural/technological/economic) we encounter ever more expressive forms of suffering, where even something as outwardly favourable as an abundance of choice is in fact a mechanism which drives the cultured man into an ocean of new and impressive anxieties, not pleasures, as it works against the individual, fuelling doubt and suspicion which ultimately decreases the cultured man’s overall satisfaction while he is busy constructing the illusion of comfort and plenty (See Simona Botti and Sheena S. Iyengar, 2006, The Dark Side of Choice: When Choice Impairs Social Welfare, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Spring, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 24—38).

        This is an extract from the Treatise:

        In 1830, the wandering French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, unwittingly spied exactly this phenomenon at work inside men, writing:

        “In America I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures.” (1841, Democracy in America)

        Unbeknownst to Tocqueville at the time, but what he had glimpsed in his moment of curious wonder was what psychologists some two-hundred years later would term, the paradox of choice: a rivulet in a convoluted delta of more modern expressions of uniquely human-only suffering whereby the seemingly desirable abundance of choice delivers obnoxious levels of anxiety in an individual set upon by fears of missed opportunities, suspicion, hesitation and doubt.*
        It is a contradiction in terms, a perverse reversal of intent, but an oversupply of choice undermines the very reason why men—and beasts—crave variety in the first instance: to amplify their happiness through the exercise of preferential decision-making. So pervasive is this heightened state of suspicion that satisfaction becomes an unattainable goal, an objective that drifts further and further away with the more opportunities men afford themselves. Like a heroin addict frantically chasing that ultimate high, men, no doubt to the delight of the Creator, have unwittingly ensnared themselves in a vicious downward spiral, racing headlong towards a forever receding ideal of happiness where more is in fact less, and abundance is a new species of want and deficiency.

        * See Iyengar, Sheena S.; Lepper, Mark R, 2000, ‘When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing?,’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 79 (6), Dec, pp. 995—1006

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  22. Your first paragraph says:

    “If we find a bomb carefully concealed in a kindergarten,
    primed and set to detonate when it would wreak the greatest
    possible carnage, we would assume, in all reasonableness, that
    someone vicious and vile—someone exquisitely evil—had designed
    the device and had purposefully put it there, positioned as such to
    maximise suffering and misery and mayhem.”

    …And you might very well be wrong. That is the problem with assuming that your observational point of view is sufficient to provide an accurate conclusion based on those myopic observations. Consider, to stretch example further, that the bomb in question was placed there by a time-travelling human and unbeknownst to you, the class room would (at the time of the explosion) be only occupied by a young Hitler and the future Reichsleiter. Given that these children would eventually exterminate some 6 million Jews, would it then be accurate to conclude that the bomb planter was vicious. vile, and exquisitely evil? Of course not. Since the bomb was planted by an entity with a frame of reference well outside and more advanced than yours, you have no way to accurately judge or characterize the motivations or morals of that entity. Such judgment is not within your ability. Any attempt on your part to draw such conclusions from such observations would be inherently flawed and invalid from the start.

    I will continue to read the four pages you sent me but this is not a very good start.

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    • So, I have read your Introduction, John, and I do applaud your prose. You are a fine and gifted writer. I do find your premise flawed and it is a shame. It seems your intent is to use your theory to demonstrate that the concept of a scientific basis to support Christianity (i.e., creationism) is absurd. I agree with you but you fell on your face as much as creationists do when they venture into this realm. Perhaps the entire book is nothing more than satire. If so, I am sure it is very funny. If not, I would suggest you go back to square one.

      What you are trying to do (IF you are really trying to do it) is not possible. You can no more understand the morals or motivations of a God of Creation through observation and scientific reasoning than the hunter gatherer could understand the morals and motivations of a stockbroker of today through observation. There may be ways to meet and understand God but as an equal is not one of them.

      Sorry, you really put a lot of work into this as well. Good luck.

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      • Hi Eric

        I completely disagree with you regarding knowing God. As William Paley said, “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.

        To understand the scope of the evidences, I suggest you read the Treatise. I will also note you haven’t yet presented a single fact to counter the general thesis. That is the Challenge.

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      • “I completely disagree with you regarding knowing God. As William Paley said, “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.””

        A creationist (essential) argues that one can know God through our own incomplete observation and you cite him to support your contention they you can know God through observation.

        Circulus in demonstrando.

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      • Hi Eric

        Who’s saying our observations of this world are “incomplete”? You? Based on what?

        If you think you can prove the thesis wrong, then prove the thesis wrong. I’m not claiming it can’t be falsified. That is the challenge before you.

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      • “I will also note you haven’t yet presented a single fact to counter the general thesis. That is the Challenge.”

        Indeed I have. I have referred to many natural processes that lead to ordering and simplified systems. You theorize that the Creator’s sole goal is ever more complex systems to create ever more variety of suffering. No such Creator would intentionally design a system that results naturally in simplification and order as a continual process. If diversity is the goal then stability of the environment would be an anathema. Your theory is disproved.

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      • Hi Eric

        “I have referred to many natural processes that lead to ordering and simplified systems.”

        No, you haven’t. You asked first if you could present something then would that stump the general thesis. Then you later wrote:

        “An ever present natural force that constantly sorts and resorts to continually and persistently move matter to a more orderly and simple state – in an easily observable and understood timeframe, btw, not in cosmic ages by any means. There are many examples of such, btw. I can easily think of two. “

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see a real world example here… Just words, and an allusion to two possible examples. I’d be happy to review these examples if and when you present them.

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      • No such Creator would intentionally design a system that results naturally in simplification and order as a continual process.

        So, you’re saying you know the mind of the Creator?

        Stable environment is a natural good. You are now talking about the Problem of Good, but let me just say, there is no problem. A stable environment spurs growth. It is, therefore, a means to a greater evil.

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      • Eric

        I’m signing off. If you chose to continue, and I hope you do, could you please start a new thread. It seems we have three of four going at once, so let’s try and streamline this.

        Cheers

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    • John,

      Concluding something “in all reasonableness” based on incomplete observation is still invalid and likely incorrect. Had you known the entire story of the bomb maker would not the conclusion OPPOSITE of your original then be made “in all reasonableness”?

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      • Occam’s razor only applies to a single set of observations not two different sets of observations (one being incomplete), John. Your premise is invalid at the core.

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      • No, John, the bomb in the classroom is only your incomplete observation. Another observer has another set of observations that you are incapable of perceiving. Occam’s Razor does not apply. Unless, of course, you would like to claim an ability to perceive creation from the viewpoint of the creator. You wouldn’t suggest such a thing would you now?

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      • Hi Eric

        No, it is the most likely assumption given the facts…. Those facts being: 1) a bomb in a school, 2) primed to detonate when it would cause the most damage. With these facts, and no others, we would assume, in all reasonableness, that
        someone vicious and vile—someone exquisitely evil—had designed
        the device and had purposefully put it there, positioned as such to
        maximise suffering and misery and mayhem.”

        You’re free to complicate the matter with any number of absurd hypotheticals, but your point is extremely weak.

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  23. “Indeed, could any sincere, honest observer foresee a time in
    this world when an organism’s success might in fact be dependent
    on its politeness in asking permission to consume another
    organism?”

    I can EASILY envision a future when an organism’s success is not dependent on consuming another organism at all. Can’t you? And politeness may very well be the key to securing more resources for oneself – perhaps already to a degree.

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    • Hi Eric

      I can EASILY envision a future when an organism’s success is not dependent on consuming another organism at all. Can’t you?

      I can, if we can master synthetic meats and persuade billions of people to change diet, and I hope we do, but we are only one tiny, albeit vibrant vein in Creation. You can’t limit yourself to just the human experience, although that experience, to-date, thoroughly supports the thesis. Do we give cows and sheep and chickens a choice? No, we impose their lot on them. Now, to the larger picture, are lions and tigers and bears on an evolutionary path to politeness?

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      • John,

        Two things, first you wrote:

        “An ever present natural force that constantly sorts and resorts to continually and persistently move matter to a more orderly and simple state – in an easily observable and understood timeframe, btw, not in cosmic ages by any means. There are many examples of such, btw. I can easily think of two. “

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see a real world example…”

        Erosion

        Second, to prove your “theory” wrong. The creator of the universe is obviously not set on nothing but the creation of suffering as there is very, very little suffering in his creation. Indeed, his creation is largely devoid of suffering apparently by design.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Eric

        Erosion

        Erosion is a process, and without it we’d never have rich, stunningly complex, fertile pockets of earth. Take as an example southern Italy. Due to a limestone foundation and resultant anaemic soil, the general ecosystem of this part of the peninsular is colourless and shallow. The region however around Mt. Vesuvius, which includes the population blooms of Naples and surrounding towns, is a postage stamp of fruitful vitality, the result of two immense eruptions 35,000 and 12,000 years ago that left the region blanketed with deep deposits of tephra, which has since chemically weathered (eroded) to plump rich soils. Here, forests, orchids, crops, pastures and human settlements are crammed into every square meter, making the region a stunning concentration of life surrounded by inhospitable tracks of virtually useless dirt, yet all of this will one day be wiped from the face of the earth. That is guaranteed, yet as an example of good birthing greater evil, life cannot resist the temptation, and willingly (happily) enters the Kill Zone. As Christopher Small, geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said:

        “If a volcano is quiescent for anything approaching a generation, people tend to think that a catastrophic event probably won’t happen to them… If you look at the settlement patterns in satellite imagery—and you can actually see farms and towns—there are a surprising number of people living in the throat of Satan.”

        ”The creator of the universe is obviously not set on nothing but the creation of suffering as there is very, very little suffering in his creation. Indeed, his creation is largely devoid of suffering apparently by design.”

        Apologies, not sure I entirely follow you here. Let me assume you’re talking about the general scale of the universe and the rarity of life, where you are assuming only life can suffer. To a degree, you are correct. As far as we presently know, life-bearing planets are rare, and where there is life there is a sharp uptick in the quality of suffering. Here on this planet suffering is very nearly omnipresent. Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering, and the signatories to the declaration stressed that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish.

        Now, based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance among neurologists of the Cambridge Declaration, and drawn from the conclusions of over 2,500 independent studies, Professor Marc Bekoff has since proposed an even broader declaration, a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience, where sentience—and by extension a total awareness of suffering—is defined as the “ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity.” It is a definition that would reach out to include even the modest protozoa.

        If, however, we take neuroscientists’ Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch Integrated Information Theory to be true, then we can say suffering is spread throughout the universe… a ubiquitous background noise that is everywhere. They assert that any system (organic or inorganic) that processes and integrates information experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, computer chips, even protons are all examples of such systems. Consciousness, Tononi and Koch assert, is integrated information, represented as Phi Φ, and the quantity—or body—of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information (Φ) generated above and beyond the information simply generated by its parts. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles.

        “Even simple matter has a modicum of Φ [integrated information]. Protons and neutrons consist of a triad of quarks that are never observed in isolation. They constitute an infinitesimal integrated system.”

        So, although physiologically incapable of suffering in a manner recognisable to human minds, with a non-zero Phi (Φ), hydrogen, for example, subjectively experiences the most ancient of all anxieties: the emergency to persist, to push back against those things which would, if given the chance, annihilate it. Certainly, if we take Tononi and Koch’s theory to be actual, to be reality, then inside the core of every star is an ocean of tumult where hydrogen (compressed and its electrons accelerated) struggles to hold onto its strange, strange, strange understanding of dear life. In this war which rages between gravity and electron degeneracy pressure, the hydrogen atom cannot however win. As temperatures and pressures inside the core pass a precise, unchanging threshold, its identity evaporates, and while briefly disguised as something new, hydrogen-2 (deuterium) and hydrogen-3 (tritium) fuse into a helium-4 atom, and what had been, ceases to be. The atom (as a thing unto itself) is annihilated. It suffered, and it died a peculiar death.

        Is this true? Perhaps. Perhaps this fundamental backdrop of suffering is real, spread throughout the entire universe. There is, of course, another possibility… or a dual explanation. The universe exists as it does, a reckless exploitation of proportion and scale, for no other reason than to abuse, denigrate, and humiliate the minds it was so expertly commissioned to birth. This would be malevolence on an unfathomable scale, expressed through immeasurable waste stretched out between distances and times that cannot be understood. It is cruel, but not hateful, depraved, but not vengeful. This is considered pain, carefully presented in careless proportions to blister and disgrace anyone—or anything—that might momentarily dare to ever privately contemplate it is in control.

        Here, of course, we’re talking about the quality of suffering. Is this not precisely how the universe should look if fantasied by a defiled overmind? Is this not exactly how the universe should be presented if shaped by the careful hand of pure but unforgivingly patient malevolence? Who but the immaculate embodiment of malice would design such a contemptible thing? Indeed, is not the vulgarity of scale proof of an Omnimalevolent Creator, greater even than the finely tuned universe itself? Only a thoroughly corrupted, wicked mind could conceive of such impossible proportions and be in possession of the boorish inclination needed to then dangle such an offense to all reasonableness in front of the eyes of a curious explorer—a tiny, living, thinking organic vessel whom through tuning and coercion the Creator had ensured would one day rise to stare out longingly from the shores of their home-world prison.

        ” Precisely as it should be if minted by a maximally debauched architect, the cruelty is unparalleled and immeasurable. Stars and planetary systems are seen, calling the explorative mind on like teasing sea nymphs on the beaches of Faiakes, yet at just 1 billion kilometres—the distance to Saturn only two planets away—the earth itself can barely be seen against the blackness of space. The dream of truly interstellar exploration and discovery is irrepressible, loneliness and a boisterous sense of adventure ensures that, but in the end any notion of serious exploration is nothing but imaginative runes thrown hopefully into the air.

        It is a merciless, sadistic, inescapable reality. The curious explorer is shown the prize, yet by the very laws that had fashioned her own mind is never permitted to take a single genuine step toward it. Her heart is shattered in a thousand ways, and then broken irreversibly upon learning that the entire incomprehensible thing is receding, pulling apart and disappearing at 275,000 kilometres per hour across every 100 billion trillion kilometre stretch.”

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      • John,

        Soil is not the end product of erosion. In fact, erosion destroys soil (with all it’s complexities) and ploddingly reduces, simplifies, and sorts it into its most basic elements then conveys those to a barren sedimentary rock. From more complex to less. Natural process that has no goal but to simplify and not resulting in an increase in life and diversity but instead a reduction in same.

        “Here on this planet suffering is very nearly omnipresent….”

        Absolutely not true. Unless, of course, you wish to redefine suffering to suit your theory. No the creator made so most living organisms on earth are incapable of suffering and made life (even on earth) to be a very rare thing. If your god’s goal was to create and harvest suffering it couldn’t have done a worse job. But go ahead and make something up to force your theory to survive.

        I find it interesting, however, that a self described aetheist would suddenly believe in an evil god… Why is that?

        Like

      • Hi Eric

        As I said, erosion is a process. When working on tephra it creates rich soils. In other situations it may indeed reduce the fertility of an area. This doesn’t negate the thesis. Firstly, if the erosion is bad enough, suffering will increase, and this will enrich the Creator’s harvest. Secondly, I’ve already explained that there are instances when systems do in fact become temporarily less complex (mass extinction events being one), but as long as the predominate tendency is toward greater complexity then Creation is performing as instructed. Now, if erosion was something permanent then you might have a point, but it is not. The earth’s tectonic plates ride on a visco-elastic asthenosphere, and like a giant yet leisurely conveyor, the crust is recycled, ensuring the old is reprocessed while the fresh is continuously fed to the surface.

        There’s no problem here.

        ”Absolutely not true. Unless, of course, you wish to redefine suffering to suit your theory.”

        Absolutely true, and I have already provided the evidence for it. Let me repeat: The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering, and the signatories to the declaration stressed that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish. Moreover, Professor Marc Bekoff’s proposed broader declaration, a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience, would enlarge the group of suffering aware life to include protozoa.

        If you have a problem with this definition of suffering then I suggest you take it up with the world’s leading neurologists.

        This is not, however, a particularly challenging thing to accept. When assaulted by the parasitic Legionella pneumophila, protozoa react, fighting back against their torture, and this fact notifies all observers that this most primitive breath of life knows it is suffering. Now consider this. Located deep inside the plant genome, isolated within the first intron MPK4, lay three ancient genes (PR1, PR2, PR5) that have revealed to researchers that MPK4 is devoted to negative regulation of the PR gene expression. What this means is that plants not only experience suffering (they have action potentials), they live in fear of it. This gene expression is anticipatory. It is what humans would identify with as a deep-rooted paranoia, a most ancient anxiety.

        So, as you can see, suffering is indeed very nearly omnipresent. It saturates this terrestrial theatre, and it was present for billions of years before the first stirrings of something that might be considered “happiness” was ever experienced. But, if we take neuroscientists’ Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch Integrated Information Theory to be true, then we can say suffering is spread throughout the universe.

        If your god’s goal was to create and harvest suffering it couldn’t have done a worse job.

        I’m starting to suspect you don’t read my comments. If you did, you would already know we should look on this Creation as a timed game that is free to unravel as it so choses. The Creator does not interfere. Ever. This, Eric, is a part of the thrill of His existence… to be surprised and entertained as Creation evolves in thoroughly unpredictable ways.

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  24. Let’s see…. Summa Theologica/Quinque viae thesis or John’s thesis?

    I’m sure if I tried to argue John would attempt to refute it with Richard Dawkin’s critique in “The God Delusion” only to conveniently omit that Dawkins has been refuted by philosopher Keith Ward, framing Dawkins argument as a strawman.

    Also, another modern philosopher, Edward Feser, has refuted Dawkins, Humes and Kant on the matter.

    I would surmise that if Ward and Feser showed up Zande would still tell them they’re wrong, heck, if Thomas Aquinas showed up Zande would still say, “Thomas’ has attempted to present something which might be confused for a rebuttal, but disappointingly, the sum total of these rather pedestrian efforts can be summarised as simply: “I don’t like this idea, therefore it is wrong.”

    So, yes, it’s pointless for me to try.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps. It more or less boils down to time.

        My method is not to appeal to authority in such a direct manner. Rather than using my own words to form an assertion. I am stating the arguments I believe to be more convincing as I find it more convenient to refer to those arguments and their authors rather than articulate and paraphrase them into my own words.

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      • You didn’t state any argument. You appealed to Aquinas, his magnum opus and other modern philosophers and declared victory over John’s thesis without attempting to refute it anywhere

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sure, whatever.

        The comment was to state that futility of creating such an argument due to the circular logic that would produced by any possible assertion.

        I wasn’t declaring victory, I was declaring how mind numbing misrepresentation of potential arguments and misconstruing of words would be apparent if such arguments were made even from those sources or by those men.

        However, I mistakenly failed to predict the tenacity and reach of such circular logic over any statements.

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    • Hi Phadde, great to see you, and I hope you’re doing well.

      Who’s saying I’m disagreeing with Aquinas? This is an extract from the thesis:

      ”Unless programmed in advance to do as such, machines do not contemplate their existence or speculate on their purpose. Machines lack instinct. They are constructed to perform the tasks prescribed to them by the mind of some external agency, and are incapable of deviating from that state of employment. In Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas attempted to unpackage this very thought in affirming that unthinking machines require direction, writing:

      “We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

      Only the most reckless, self-indulgent of men would deny Aquinas’s conclusion, God. Albeit a concealed one, the presence of an overmind is self-evident and necessary, yet in the same breath, only the most negligent and asinine would terminate the enquiry at such a premature rung, believing as the theologian William Paley believed that the earthly design is inherently beneficial.

      Upon what possible, reasonable, defendable grounds, asks the Impartial Observer, is such an outrageous claim made? Upon what possible foundation of observational data is such a fantastically lavish declaration advanced?”

      So, Phadde, in the future, it might serve you well to try and at least understand the basics of what you’re commenting on before commenting. 😉

      Now, if you’d like to start again, I’d be genuinely thrilled to read any articulate response to the Teleology Challenge you might be able to mount. I’m not saying the thesis can’t be falsified, but to date, no one has in any meaningful or persuasive way.

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      • Fair enough.

        I read it, I suppose I assumed, my bad, that since Aquinas in his Summa Theologica addresses the goodness of God, (as you thesis deals with malevolence) together with his proves of God, which I separated the reference, (as well as Augustine in Confessions etc.) you’d pick up on the reference. I would like to see you address his thesis on that point.

        I’m traveling right now, I can reference the sections later if you need, but I’d bet you’re familiar.

        I’ll admit, It’s a credit to you that you separate Paley and Aquinas. Many lump them together, when Aquinas would most likely disagree with Paley’s thesis.

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      • I suppose I have to ask what is your point or the point of me needing to answer it?

        It’s a bit like your question for Christianity, name something new it’s produced. Although you attempted to frame the Trimurti as the same as the Christian Trinity, which I find absurd. The example, of course, illustrates that ultimately you’ve decided you’re the final judge on the matter, so would you concede to any assertion, have you ever conceded to someone who differs in thought?

        Also, why do I have to differ to your definiton of malevolence?

        Anyway, what does it matter? Haven’t Christian writers, like C.S. Lewis, accepted that examinations of truths produced by pagans, simply are okay?

        On the issue at hand:

        If I’m adherent to Augustine’s religious philosophy of living in the City of Man for the City of God: “If I am asked what stand the City of God would take on the issues raised and, first, what this City thinks of the Supreme good and ultimate evil, the answer would be:She holds that eternal life is the supreme good and eternal death the supreme evil, and that we should live rightly in order to obtain the one and avoid the other. Hence, the Scriptural expression, ‘the just man lives by faith’

        You state:

        “The challenge, therefore, is to present real-world examples (taken over Creation’s 13.8 billion year history) demonstrating these paradigmatic shifts that, in-turn, illustrate a clear and unmistakable reduction over time in the diversity and potency of suffering available to all contingent things.”

        Again, If I believe in the philosophy of Augustine, which Augustine examines that the “eduction over time in the diversity and potency of suffering available to all contingent things” doesn’t occur in the City of Man, where you want me to provide the ‘hard’ evidence, but in the City of God, wouldn’t there be no need for me to accept your challenge?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Phadde,

        I suppose I have to ask what is your point or the point of me needing to answer it?

        Well, that is what the post is about, isn’t it: the Challenge. Why are you here if not to address the post?

        ”Again, If I believe in the philosophy of Augustine, which Augustine examines that the “eduction over time in the diversity and potency of suffering available to all contingent things” doesn’t occur in the City of Man, where you want me to provide the ‘hard’ evidence, but in the City of God, wouldn’t there be no need for me to accept your challenge?”

        City of Man? City of God? What nonsense are you going on about here, Phadde? We are talking about this world, the tangible, observable thing around you. You are aware of this world, right? I’ll assume the answer to be, Yes, and so it is to this world to which the Teleology Challenge stands. Now, as it appears you really haven’t read the post, I would suggest you read it, especially this part:

        In the hope, therefore, of lifting the calibre of rebuttals, I think it’s necessary to formalise and structure the challenge presented by the thesis. Given past mistakes and misdirected attention, some things must however first be made perfectly clear. In approaching this challenge, we are assuming (via a host of traditional evidences) the existence of a Creator, but we are not, and never were, talking about the Middle Eastern god of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Yhwh. We are not prosecuting Zoroastrianism’s Ahura-Mazda, or accusing the Yoruba people’s Olódùmarè of being evil. We are not, in any way, dealing here with the Problem of Evil, nor are we litigating creative theodicies invented by human minds to explain the prevalence of evil in this world. In this exercise, we are not entertaining those excuses for why things are not as they should be if matter had been persuaded to behave by a benevolent creator who has (for one imaginative reason or another) lost total control of his creation, rather presenting a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator… a Creator who, for reasons not immediately obvious, so clearly cherishes His anonymity. God, by definition, is maximally competent, and to propose anything less is simply preposterous. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken. We must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator.

        In case that’s not perfectly clear: If you mention Augustine, or Aquinas, then you are not addressing the Challenge. We are not litigating the naïve opinions of others, rather addressing the realities of the world around you, free of any and all creative excuses.

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      • I think you answered the question, I suppose I would say I will not be taking the challenge. In regards of Augustine and Aquinas, again, I personally take matters on faith. You may address their philosophy as naive opinions. I’m okay with it.

        However, I do not think one should dismiss it whole sale.

        Professor Walter J. Freeman, in the field of neuroscience, wrote this in the Journal of neuroscience “Mind and Matter”

        “The philosophical foundation from which the sciences grew is has vital roots in the works of Thomas Aquinas. The core concept of intention in Aquinas is the inviolable unity of mind, brain and body. All that we know we have constructed within ourselves from the unintelligible fragments of energy impacting our senses as we move our bodies through the world.”

        “The main accomplishment of Aquinas was to split off the concept of the will as
        a power of the Christian soul. His restricted doctrine of intention took root
        in secular science and medicine, and a case can be made that the explosive
        growth in education enabled the technical and managerial middle class of
        his time to adopt his concept of the will with its opportunities for choices
        and its responsibilities for its actions.”

        Regardless of your opinion of this thesis and its findings, to dismiss Augustine and Aquinas as naive opinions, when other science academics may seem a bit hasty.

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      • Their conclusions (expressly, that of a benevolent creator) were born of juvenile emotional needs, not intellectual honesty to the facts of this world. That is patently clear. But they were not alone, and their error is as old and as timeworn as natural philosophy. For the longest time, agile but fabulously naïve thinkers have looked carelessly at this world, studying its greater forms and lesser functions in meticulous half detail, never once suspecting that they might in fact be little more than the treasured playthings for another’s depraved amusement; trinkets cast across a board and encouraged to meditate on grand meanings of purpose, and then permitted to broadcast their reliably flawed conclusions back to anxious audiences desperate to hear that—despite all that they saw around them—all was in fact well in the universe.

        OK, so you can’t rise to the challenge. I understand. It is difficult for the likes of you. Impossible, even. I appreciate that.

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      • It is impossible for one who has been challenged to overcome a challenger when the challenger has already rendered in their minds what is the truth.

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      • “It is impossible for one who has been challenged to overcome a challenger when the challenger has already rendered in their minds what is the truth.”

        That was irony, right? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Phadde

        The challenge is a teleology challenge. There are no opinions in matters of what is observable in the real world. Are you incapable of dealing with hard facts? It would appear so.

        Does Creation transition naturally from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity? Does complexity birth greater potential suffering available to all contingent things? Given the answer to these questions, what does it reveal of the Designer?

        It’s really very simple, and there are no tricks. No metaphysics. No opinions. Just facts revealed through Creation’s 13.8 billion year history. If you can’t look honestly at this world, then that’s fine, I understand.

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      • John that’s Absurd, it’s absolutely metaphysical, which you either don’t see or won’t admit. “what does it reveal of the Designer?” The thesis stripped down is that God is evil which is not a new claim.

        However, it relies solely on the idea of morality and what is moral, which is ultimately metaphysical. You cannot physically show me ‘rights’, I cannot touch them and you cannot put them in my hands. You can show me an example in the world, but again it’s based on your metaphysical perception of it.

        You’re looking at evidence, and in the end you’re making a judgment, and the judgement is no different from what you’ve called juvenile of Augustine and Aquinas when they’ve answered the notion of God’s goodness (Aquinas) and the problem with evil (Augustine)

        Dr. William Freeman expressed that the brain, mind, and body which metaphysically you can interpret and claim, looking at the evidence, the function between the relationship does not change, creating a Irreducible complexity. Or you can believe it does evolve. If taking the position of the latter one could argue that the brain and its development has produced greater comfort. Although, I’d admit it could be argued for the opposite conclusion. Walter Freeman is a peer reviewed modern scientist at Cal Berkeley, it’s simply fraud to dismiss his work on such a whim.

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      • Phadde

        There is no room for metaphysics in teleology. Sorry. There are simply the facts of this world, repeating patterns observed and recorded. Does hydrogen fuse into the more complex helium? It’s a yes or no question, Phadde… No opinion required. So, if you can’t engage the hard facts of this world, then so be it. Makes me wonder why you even popped in.

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      • I popped in because your thesis cannot exist without metaphysics and the challenge, which is was my initial comment is absurd. You simply cannot say something is malevolent without metaphysics. It is impossible, which I presumed you knew.

        (like the sound in the forest, Does William Freeman exist, if I do not acknowledge his work)

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      • What judgments are made, are made from observed facts, which are defendable. Again, we are not proceeding from the conclusion that the Creator has lost total control of His creation… as your theology suggests. We must assume God to be mistake-free.

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      • That said, you could try and argue that the development of the brain has led to less suffering. I doubt you could successfully, but that would be interesting, and certainly within the purview of this teleological challenge.

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      • I doubt you could successfully argue that it’s led to more suffering… … … as what is and isn’t metaphysical seems difficult.

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      • So you want me to go over William Freenman’s thesis ?

        John, you must realize that logically speaking you’re asking me to debate an idea, that I agree with that is formulated by someone else. The reason is, of course, is that you believe that you can poke holes through my explanation far easier.

        Logically, it wouldn’t make my position, rather Dr. Freeman’s, wrong due to my lack expertise, which I’ve supplied through examples of Dr. Freeman’s work, an expert.

        What do you consider real world? Doesn’t the Brain operating within the world constitute as hard evidence? I suppose I can provided the example how Aquinas and neurological studies compliment; however, again, whether those are used for immoral, evil, or suffering experiences would be a metaphysical judgment.

        ” the forms in the material objects were replaced by the constructions in the mind, and the diversity of phantasms
        among diverse observers of the same object was the evidence that the singular form of the object is not accessed.

        ” The relevant experimental observation here is that the microscopic
        stimulus-driven neural activity pattern in sensory cortex is replaced by
        a mesoscopic abstraction and generalization that is transmitted through
        the brain, while the unknowable material event is absorbed and expunged.
        This transition from matter to phantasm is the key to understanding the
        relevance of Thomist intention to nonlinear brain dynamics. I know of no other philosophical doctrine
        that captures so effectively the neurobiological substrate of this interface between matter and mind.”

        “Aquinas passages demonstrate the unity of perception. They are consistent
        with the global organization of perceptions demonstrated by Gestalt
        psychologists, and of the chaotic electroencephalographic activity patterns
        in the primary sensory areas of the cerebral hemispheres in the alpha and
        gamma ranges.”

        Aquinas passages: Aquinas, St. Thomas (1272): The Summa Theologica, translated by Fathers of
        the English Dominican Province, ed. by W. Benton as Volume 19 in the Great
        Books Series, Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago 1952.p. 457 p. 461

        Observations of the electrical activity of the brains of human subjects
        has shown that changes in brain state linked to an act occur prior to the
        execution of a self-paced (voluntary) act, and even half a second before
        the subjects express awareness that they are about to move (Libet 1994).
        This finding conforms to Aquinas’ doctrine that humans know themselves
        by their actions, not by their thoughts.

        Interesting… …

        Aquinas was to split o the concept of the will as a power of the Christian soul. His restricted doctrine of intention took root
        in secular science and medicine, and a case can be made that the explosive
        growth in education enabled the technical and managerial middle class of
        his time to adopt his concept of the will with its opportunities (a positive) for choices and its responsibilities for its actions. Thereby emerged the metaphor of the body as a machine, which was
        crucial for the mathematization of human function by Descartes (the brain did what?). Theresult of the Cartesian revolution for neuroscience was the distinctionbetween automatic (re
        ex) and \voluntary” behavior drawn in 1558 by
        Sir Thomas Willis, the English neuroanatomist remembered by all medical doctors everywhere for his discovery of the \Circle of Willis” at the base
        of the brain. Textbooks in neurobiology and neurology carry these labels
        into the present day, even though they have been noted by Dewey (1914)
        and others to have religious rather than scientific origins. (Excuse me! This cannot be!)

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      • ”So you want me to go over William Freenman’s thesis ?”

        Not really, but if it provides verifiable teleological evidence for your hypothesis that the development of the brain has led to less suffering, then fine.

        ”John, you must realize that logically speaking you’re asking me to debate an idea”

        No, I’m asking you to present real world facts that demonstrate your idea.

        ”however, again, whether those are used for immoral, evil, or suffering experiences would be a metaphysical judgment”

        Nonsense. Suffering is quantifiable. Is a 1.5 billion years old single-celled protozoa exposed to less or more potential suffering than a 200,000 years old human being? Is the 200,000 years old hunter-gatherer exposed to less of more suffering than a modern human?

        ”This finding conforms to Aquinas’ doctrine that humans know themselves
        by their actions, not by their thoughts.”

        Wonderful… relevance?

        ”the explosive growth in education enabled the technical and managerial middle class of his time to adopt his concept of the will with its opportunities (a positive) for choices and its responsibilities for its actions.”

        Absolutely, we have (in the West, at least) significantly reduced the general instability of existence. Has this, though, actually reduced the depth and breadth of suffering, or merely enhanced it in more sophisticated ways?

        I used this example for cultural complexity above, so I’ll just repeat it here:

        Consider the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer: a simple human clansman boasting the same number of neurons as his modern counterpart, 100 billion, but whose possessions never exceeded that which he could carry and run with. For such an unembellished creature with his pocket-sized mobile culture it is impossible to comprehend the anguish of losing a home, for example, to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Although not entirely beyond his comprehension, the concepts of home and debt and repossession, and all the little anxieties so intimately bound to these abstractions, are not within his purview of total understanding, which is to say the experience is simply not available in the antediluvian world in which he inhabits. In a word, the primitive clansman is wholly immune to the robust grief known to, or at the very least available to, the more culturally entangled homeowner thousands of generations later. To the Omnimalevolent Creator, the cultured object is undoubtedly the more impressive, deceptively more vulnerable asset. Although seemingly blessed with some level of security unheard of to the wandering man (a primitive who shares his very living space with single-minded predators) the cultured man is, in the eyes of a degenerate being, a far more compromised stock that promises a greater return on investment. Dependency on systems entirely out of his control, and attachment to possessions from which he draws a sense of personal identity leaves the cultured man dangerously exposed to fluctuations in his living conditions whereby even tiny shifts in his circumstances are amplified in ways impossible for the wandering man to ever understand, or experience.

        You mention a greater variety of choice, and this is an important to thing to note, but it’s been revealed by researchers that even something as outwardly favourable as an abundance of choice is in fact a mechanism which drives the cultured man into an ocean of new and impressive anxieties, not pleasures, as it works against the individual, fuelling doubt and suspicion which ultimately decreases the cultured man’s overall satisfaction while he is busy constructing the illusion of comfort and plenty (See Simona Botti and Sheena S. Iyengar, 2006, The Dark Side of Choice: When Choice Impairs Social Welfare, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Spring, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 24—38).

        This is an extract from the Treatise:

        In 1830, the wandering French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, unwittingly spied exactly this phenomenon at work inside men, writing:

        “In America I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures.” (1841, Democracy in America)

        Unbeknownst to Tocqueville at the time, but what he had glimpsed in his moment of curious wonder was what psychologists some two-hundred years later would term, the paradox of choice: a rivulet in a convoluted delta of more modern expressions of uniquely human-only suffering whereby the seemingly desirable abundance of choice delivers obnoxious levels of anxiety in an individual set upon by fears of missed opportunities, suspicion, hesitation and doubt.

        It is a contradiction in terms, a perverse reversal of intent, but an oversupply of choice undermines the very reason why men—and beasts—crave variety in the first instance: to amplify their happiness through the exercise of preferential decision-making. So pervasive is this heightened state of suspicion that satisfaction becomes an unattainable goal, an objective that drifts further and further away with the more opportunities men afford themselves. Like a heroin addict frantically chasing that ultimate high, men, no doubt to the delight of the Creator, have unwittingly ensnared themselves in a vicious downward spiral, racing headlong towards a forever receding ideal of happiness where more is in fact less, and abundance is a new species of want and deficiency.

        Has education reduced wars, or merely refined its practice? Has education (and accompanying mechanisation of industry) favoured the Middle Class, or is it ruining it? What about the suffering of animals that has accompanied our astonishing success? What about the loss of habitat, pollution, and extraordinary cancers? Have we become stronger physiologically, or weaker? With wealth and an accompanying diet saturated in sugars and fats comes the mostly non-communicable diseases of affluence, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, extraordinary cancers, thrombosis, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, alcoholism, addictions, depression, and a zoo of exotic allergies to the chemicals that sustain all industrialised societies. With affluence, however, also come the debased gifts born of abuse, misuse, and overuse. In the ten-year period from 1991–92 to 2001–02, addiction to opiate-based painkillers trebled in the U.S., and today twice as many Americans are dependent on or abusing prescription pain relievers as the number of people addicted to cocaine. Did you know, opioid overdoses now in fact kill more people than cocaine or heroin, yet these pungent blights which ravage the more chemically susceptible segments of any given population pales to the massive and non-discriminatory misery being brought about by the over prescription of antibiotics. This mindless overuse of the once almost magical corrective innovation has spawned, and is continuing to spawn, a garden of so-named superbugs: magnificent pathogens talented and virulent enough to decimate populations and ruin economies.

        Jim O’Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, was tasked to review this emerging horror, and his 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance report, he wrote:

        “Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could be more than 10 million. The economic cost will also be significant, with the world economy being hit by up to $100 trillion by 2050 if we do not take action.”

        In launching O’Neill’s findings, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, soberly remarked: “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine.” In India, this ‘almost unthinkable scenario’ is not some future terror to be feared like some ghastly ghoul who might or might not arrive tomorrow, but an immediate hell that is already being lived. Across the gravely overpopulated south Asian continent a “tsunami of antibiotic resistance” is presently killing tens of thousands of new-borns every quarter because once-miraculous cures simply no longer work, and in their 2014 report, The Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy researchers warn of having already found India-specific superbugs such as New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase 1 (NDM1) around the world, including France, Japan, Oman and the United States.

        I’m afraid it gets even worse. Just today, Phadde, it was announced that researchers in China have discovered a superbug not only entirely immune to colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, but communicable between bacteria’s. The lead researcher said:

        “These are extremely worrying results which reveal the emergence of the first polymyxin resistance gene that is readily passed between common bacteria, suggesting the progression to pan-drug resistance is inevitable.”

        So, has education saved us from a global pandemic, or has it become, as Professor Jian-Hua Liu said, “inevitable”

        Now, in talking about our comfort we should, naturally, also talk about Global Climate Change. What about income/wealth inequality? Are you aware of how many species are made extinct every day? Do you know what the current state of the oceans are? We should, of course, also talk about the power of Predictive thought and the myriad of ills this has brought. Being able to anticipate future events has, of course, lead to greater fears, paranoia’s, anxieties, and apprehensions, which lead to superstitions and fantastic conspiracy theories that terrify people even more.

        So, without writing a whole essay, it’s quite clear that while success brings comfort, attached to the comfort comes a host of more sophisticated pains.

        If you like, we can go into ever-greater detail to demonstrate these points. Just name the subject, medicine if you like, and we can focus on that.

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      • The problem with most of your response is that suffering being absolutely quantifiable is nonsense without metaphysical concepts.

        For example, doesn’t a masochists enjoy what many would consider to be suffering?

        If there is a code for moral behavior, where does it originate? If there is no God, there is no code, only learned behavioral traits from society. Man, without God, only operates in the state of nature– taking anything with strength.

        Take Nietzsche’s idea of good and bad:

        bad=weakness
        good= growing power (This of course would generate others to suffer)

        The idea of suffering is certainly not a universally agreed concept by any means, articulating such is silly.

        Furthermore, what is also absurd is the idea that because humanity hasn’t completely eradicated all disease or some folks have become addicted to prescriptions drugs that it outweighs the good advancements, such as people no longer having to suffer from polio or another illness. Life expectancy has risen for humanity due to these advances as well has led lower infant mortality rates world-wide. Is it horrible in some places? Absolutely, should humanity quit or attempt to relieve suffering in those others places.

        A malevolent being wouldn’t allow an overall ease to any suffering or an option to consider changing it.

        The idea that relief brings on some sort of more sophisticated pain is fallacious as causation does not imply correlation, thus having admitted that the human mind has given comfort in some way, you’ve logically checkmated yourself against your own thesis.

        “it’s quite clear that while success brings comfort, attached to the comfort comes a host of more sophisticated pains.”

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      • For example, doesn’t a masochists enjoy what many would consider to be suffering?

        Why is that not quantifiable? Bear in mind, though, when we’re talking about suffering being quantifiable we are talking, in essence, about its availability and variety, as expressed in the hunter-gatherer example.

        The idea of suffering is certainly not a universally agreed concept by any means, articulating such is silly.

        Nonsense. We are more than capable of discussing, and measuring, the availability and potency of suffering. A 550 million years old Narcomedusae jellyfish with all of its 800 central nervous system neurons is simply incapable of experiencing the mosaic of fears and anxieties lived by the more recently evolved field mouse with its 70 million neurons so acutely tuned to the constant needs of its warm body, and the danger which inhabits its tiny, tiny world. In a preferentially-scored portfolio of pain, the apprehensive field mouse is a far superior product than the Narcomedusae whose most complex possible torment is limited to, at best, a caustic allergy to light.

        We can even measure the psychosis in prey animals. Of all predatory attacks on prey it is estimated only 19% achieve a success rate higher than 90%. The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).* What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley and his theologically-minded cohorts and accomplices were wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

        Life expectancy has risen for humanity due to these advances as well has led lower infant mortality rates world-wide

        Excellent point! By this achievement man may briefly, and deservedly, celebrate his apparent mastery over the naturally corrosive effects of life itself. Consider then the truth: More bodies doing more things over a longer time can only be scored as a breathtaking augmentation of resources.

        A general population dying at 35 cannot, by and large, produce the same quantity or quality of suffering generated through the extended life of a general population dying at age 80 or 90. Here man has added 30 years—an entire generation—to the duration of his potential suffering, which in the eyes of a debased being is to be applauded as not only a marvel of market optimisation, but an almost miraculous, self-inflicted diversification in the greater portfolio of potential pain.

        By permitting the development and maturation of innovative methods and practices which abet bodily longevity the Omnimalevolent Creator has positioned Himself to reap 20, 30, or even 40 years more pleasure from His game; drinking in the pang of creeping irrelevance, the pain of crippling arthritis, the emotional distress of immobility, mental degradation, senility, the anguish of seeing friends and loved ones die early, the anxiety of financial and perhaps political insecurity, and the hopelessness of a life bookmarked by death and conscious annihilation. In no uncertain terms, ruinous ageing is an abhorrent stain on even the most spectacular of lives lived, often robbing an individual of their most prized possession, their dignity, and this gradual drip of irreversible decay and the misery born of it can only be seen as a boon for a being who thrives on tapping into increasingly complex veins of suffering.

        ”A malevolent being wouldn’t allow an overall ease to any suffering or an option to consider changing it”

        Positively nonsense! The Creator desires, perhaps above all things, a flourishing of life and opportunity. Phadde, consider this simplest of all facts: If the operations of this world were underwritten by nothing but an outwardly reckless policy of uncapped destruction and mayhem—if all life defiled itself and everything around it without regulation—then it would very quickly bring about a reduction in suffering, not enhancement, as continuously savaged life systems would never be afforded the necessary time, space, and security to mature and internally enrich, and without self-enrichment, without diversification, the Creator’s harvests would be increasingly anaemic over time, and this would represent a failed, bankrupted Creation.

        Now, I will grant you the room for this error. Your concepts of how maximum evil would behave have been shaped by fantastic human fictions. Evil, though, is a meaningless word here. The Creator is merely thoroughly observant of His needs. True evil—conscious, calculating evil—does not seek to destroy life, but rather encourage it. True evil—malicious in every action—cheers life on. True evil—defiled in every pursuit—is not, as Max Andrews proposes, maximally selfish , rather full of restraint and accommodating in every way to the needs of men, mice, mushrooms, and microbes. True evil—debased in every motion—promotes, defends, and even admires life in its struggle to persist and self-adorn. True evil—known only to itself—urges life to grow more complex, more bold, more adventurous and more expressive, for only then is it at its most vulnerable, and when it is at its most vulnerable it is pregnant with possibility.

        You see, Phadde, in the final analysis, for the perversely minded, simply killing the trinkets of your greatest amusement and stimulatory 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, full bodily capitulation in a drama where warm survivors, not cold victims, are more valuable to the Omnimalevolent Creator.

        ”The idea that relief brings on some sort of more sophisticated pain is fallacious as causation does not imply correlation, thus having admitted that the human mind has given comfort in some way, you’ve logically checkmated yourself against your own thesis.”

        Sorry, but I have no idea whatsoever about what you’re trying to say here. I think, however, your confusion is in thinking there is a Problem of Good. Briefly, there isn’t. Good does not exist. Good has never existed, not as something distasteful or hurtful to the Creator. Good is not a wave of dissent, a rebellion growing inside Creation like some determined cancer, a tumour. Good is neither a disease nor a corruption, for good is not the equal and opposite of evil but rather an evil unto itself. It is a flavour of evil, a dialect, or perhaps more accurately, a variation in temperature there to be experienced in those moments when there appears to be a temporary reduction of perceptible suffering. Good, Phadde, is nothing but a mechanism to greater depths of suffering.

        Allow to demonstrate this with a working example:

        Take the automobile and all those abstractions connected to this mechanised horse. What was the end of the world for stable hands and buggy drivers was the beginning of prosperity for automobile manufacturers and oil refiners. The old gives way to the new, and with the new comes more vibrant families of pain.

        In 1889 a total of 26 road deaths were recorded in the United States. By 2013 that number had exploded to approximately 35,500. Globally, that number stands at 1.24 million and the World Health Organisation predicts the body of carnage will grow to 1.9 million by 2020.

        Alone, the automobile has been an indisputable boon for suffering with deaths scattered across roads the world over, leaving physical, emotional and financial ruin in these little disasters wake. Safety innovations, however, such as airbags and seatbelts and better constructed cars and roads have seen many, many more bodies surviving these localised, personalised disasters. The result: in 2010, in the U.S. alone, 2,239,000 human bodies were shattered in road accidents, yet to the certain delight of The Owner of All Infernal Names, survived.

        In the final tally, instead of one dead motorist in 1990, there exists a living quadriplegic in 2014, forced to spend the rest of his life—decades—in a wheeled chair, unable to find work, and dependent on others for his very survival. In the mind of the Omnimalevolent Creator a cash cow has been created; a vigorous, energetic, sincere and dynamic product that will faithfully discharge all that which The Owner of All Infernal Names finds delicious, arousing, entertaining and, ultimately, fulfilling.

        The story does not however end with simple human ruin.

        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. The chronicler of this misery must also then consider the astonishing loss of habitat caused by new roads and highways, and the towns that have sprung up along them. The ombudsman of this engineered mayhem must also consider the billions of tons of pollution from combustion engines, the devastation of marine and coastal habitats caused by massive oil spills, and the killing of entire river systems through petrochemical dumping and runoff. Oil wars are yet another ledger altogether, its sickly black pages filled in by the biographer of this self-authored wreckage with the cases of societal turmoil and astonishing economic disparities that, ultimately, drives even more complex conflicts and political instability.

        You see Phadde, we must always consider both the quantity and quality of suffering, and that is expanded and refined as Creation follows it one and only instruction: to diversify and specialise.

        That is the single instruction given by the Creator to His Creation: to change, to mix, to experiment, augment, mutate, embellish, develop, and to perfect before changing again, and for that to occur, order must be imposed. In the first instant, good therefore is a marshal of chaos, a tool that brings order to the universe in the guise of predictable natural laws that enable everything from hydrogen and planets, to nerve cells and minds riddled with a trillion fears both small and large.

        *See
        Geerat J. Vermeij, 1982, ‘Unsuccessful Predation and Evolution,’ The American Naturalist, Vol. 120, No. 6, Dec., pp. 701—720

        El Hage, et al., 2004, ‘Impaired memory following predatory stress in mice is improved by fluoxetine,’ Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry Vol. 28, pp. 123 – 128

        Zoladz, Phillip R. 2008, ‘An ethologically relevant animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder: Physiological, pharmacological and behavioral sequelae in rats exposed to predator stress and social instability,’ Graduate dissertation, University of South Florida

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      • “Good does not exist. Good has never existed” This is a metaphysical concept.

        The root of your error with your thesis is its heart resides not on any data rather your biased interpretation of what your perceived to be relevant data. It’s all a metaphysical construct, which you fail to understand.

        “You see, Phadde, in the final analysis, for the perversely minded, simply killing the trinkets of your greatest amusement and stimulatory 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, full bodily capitulation in a drama where warm survivors, not cold victims, are more valuable to the Omnimalevolent Creator” <— This is actually a form and example of Theology, based on a metaphysical belief system, you've created, even if it being satirical or made up to suit your purposes.

        You simply cannot assume to put yourself in the first person identity of your malevolent thesis, your concept is bogus.

        Therefore, I can say goodness exists as exemplified by Aquinas, one which you've deemed 'juvenile'… …

        Attempting to frame a malevolent being into some sort of Machiavellian creature, bent on pure evil, that would give a little ease to pain for far greater pain would be introducing your own variation of theology, another checkmate. In this case, contradicting your challenge, allowing me establish a benevolent being wishing to give salvation from suffering due to the fall of man.

        I mean, if you don't play by your quantified rules neither do I…

        Alas, you cannot hijack what is teleology. The concept of teleology is a reason or explanation for something for its end purpose or achievement of goals. In this regard, the brain, simply allows humans to adapt to whatever obstacle is presented. Determining whether this is or can be good or evil is entirely a metaphysical construct. Furthermore, determining whether allowing humans to overcome obstacles is given by either a benevolent God or malevolent would also be metaphysical.

        Thus being established what is metaphysical in the proposed challenge, it is certainly fair to allow theology to be present, for a God without theology is like a Judge without a court, neutered—but again, this is the concept that must be quantified on an island of a challenge and then re-quantified. John cannot allow the introduction of new ideas much like an island cannot allow new species to its environment. If one where to believe in God, the fall of man, God instituted morality and the idea of salvation, the purpose of the brain would ultimately to allow people the will to accept said salvation from Grace of God and aid others in their quest. If God created man originally in his image and man fell, it would be perceived by some to be benevolent to allow man to return to said image.

        Your "challenge's" foundation is built on sand as it's built on your metaphysical beliefs and construct of a sort of satirical example of your own pseudo-theology, while restricting others

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      • The root of your error with your thesis is its heart resides not on any data rather your biased interpretation of what your perceived to be relevant data.

        LOL! Yes, facts… they’re so inconvenient.

        This is actually a form and example of Theology,

        It’s not a form of theology, it is a theology. Plain and simple!

        You simply cannot assume to put yourself in the first person identity of your malevolent thesis, your concept is bogus.

        So you’re saying Aquinas and Augustine are, therefore, bogus. Interesting.

        The concept of teleology is a reason or explanation for something for its end purpose or achievement of goals.

        Well, yes, absolutely, and I have been giving you examples which you keep evading. Any reason for that?

        So, back to the challenge at hand. Phadde, are you going to present your teleological evidences that falsify the thesis? If you have no intention to, then please stop wasting my time.

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      • Facts!? You keep using that word, I do not think it means, what you think it means.

        You’ve always claimed no tricks, but everything you say is exactly that.

        Your may quote things that are factual, However, what they mean and how they operate in world is based on a metaphysical construct–Again the thesis and challenge are bogus.

        You perceive the concept of pain as evil, which first and foremost there is no hard evidence for this assertion, it’s again, metaphysical.

        And attempting to misconstrue my point lacks intergrity about your malevolent thesis with a false equivalence to Augustine and Aquinas or at the very least bad logic., but again, what is integrity to one living only in the state of nature?

        You’ve concocted a thesis of a malevolent being, you can’t cite expressed thoughts from this being, which is a metaphysical interpretations of how this being would operate within your ‘facts’.

        By doing such, You’ve create a concocted theology of John Zande, while not allowing others to discuss such. Ridiculous! which As you’ve expressed Aquinas, I can say well it based off his own juvenile interpretations of the world.

        I’ve given you two examples, you’ve dismiss as ‘juvenile’. I’ve always showed you were contradicted yourself time and time again, only to meet the response, “I don’t know what you’re trying to say here.” Of course you don’t!

        One idea by Aquinas and the other by a neurologist who supported Aquinas. You didn’t agree with what they said, so therefore it must be wrong.

        You’re entire premise is based nothing more on your own metaphysical concoction with a hijacking of your perception of ‘teleology’.

        When I discovered the sand, It suddenly becomes a waste of your time.

        The challenge is fraudulent in its nature. So if you think it’s a waste of your time. Fair enough, I agree that explaining what basic metaphysical constructions is also a waste of mine.

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      • Your may quote things that are factual, However, what they mean and how they operate in world is based on a metaphysical construct

        Not at all. The 40 years suffering of the quadriplegic car accident survivor (the ‘warm body’) is a quantifiable account that can be measured against the output of misery generated by the dead (‘cold body’) accident victim. These are simply real world figures, Phadde. Does data bother you? Now, what I will grant you is that the degree of suffering will vary between survivors, but that is essentially beyond the point. That point being, the good of safety innovations has meant nearly 2.5 million bodies surviving accidents every year in the US alone… accounts that live on to suffer (to some degree), which is an active product above and beyond a dead motorist. Good, as has been shown, is a deceptively dressed mechanism to greater suffering.

        You perceive the concept of pain as evil

        Not at all, and I’ve certainly never made that claim. Suffering is merely the Creator’s chosen stimulant. It is neither evil, nor good. It is simply a package of energy that the Creator consumes, and draws pleasure from. Because we perceive His diet as “evil” does not make it evil to the only protagonist who counts: The Creator.

        Phadde, do you consider the oxygen you consume “evil” or “repugnant”? To cyanobacteria, your consumption of oxygen would appear a filthy, grotesque, and unquestionably revolting diet. How else, after all, but with certain repulsion would one organism describe the dietary practices of another organism that consumes the first organism’s waste: its faeces? You, Phadde, are drinking in faeces, but does this fact alter your appreciation of oxygen? Of course not, and the same may be said of the Creators chosen diet… If one may call it that.

        You’ve concocted a thesis of a malevolent being, you can’t cite expressed thoughts from this being, which is a metaphysical interpretations of how this being would operate within your ‘facts’.

        Quite on the contrary. The Creator’s disposition and desires are revealed through the design. Again, we are not starting from the assumption that the machine has malfunctioned. What exists exists for a reason. The Creator is mistake-free. Therefore, I have arrived at a conclusion based on the evidence presented. It is a simple fact, Phadde, that this universe is a complexity machine, spilling out from the simplest to the most complex. It is a simple fact that complexity corresponds precisely to the degree and depth of potential suffering available to those contingent things whose participation in Creation was never solicited. As observed by the magnificent late 18th Century cleric, political-economic scholar and demographist, Thomas Malthus: “The greatest talents have been frequently misapplied and have produced evil proportionate to the extent of their powers.”

        Now, do these facts indicate (what we’d call) a benevolent or malevolent hand behind the design?

        The question must be answered: why has the Creator structured His most notable of creations, this universe, to perform as it does? You want to forward the proposition that the Creator is incompetent and has lost total control of his creation, but I reject that proposal outright. God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations. What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God. We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken. We must assume Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by its mistake-free Creator.

        By doing such, You’ve create a concocted theology of John Zande, while not allowing others to discuss such.

        Erumm, isn’t this post an invitation to discuss it? I’d encourage you to read the thesis in full, and I’d be thrilled if you wrote a coherent, intelligible formal rebuttal.

        I’ve given you two examples, you’ve dismiss as ‘juvenile’….One idea by Aquinas and the other by a neurologist who supported Aquinas. You didn’t agree with what they said, so therefore it must be wrong.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really didn’t see any example. The only point of relevance made was that education created the middle class. Now, that is not even a valid example, you didn’t cite any clear examples of how this has reduced the total exposure to suffering, but I addressed the notion that we have become more comfortable, which seemed to be your general point. Medicine, for example, has been a remarkable tool (a “good” that cannot be genuinely good) in expanding the general portfolio of pain: more bodies, doing more things, over longer times is a tremendous case of market optimisation. A general population dying at 35 cannot, by and large, produce the same quantity or quality of suffering generated through the extended life of a general population dying at age 80 or 90. Now, if you wish to present actual real world examples I’d be happy to review them. That is, after all, what I’m waiting for, Phadde.

        You’re entire premise is based nothing more on your own metaphysical concoction with a hijacking of your perception of ‘teleology’.

        Don’t get angry with facts, Phadde. “Facts are facts,” said Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, “They are enormously discourteous.” If, however, you think that way, then please address the Teleological Challenge and present your real world evidences that support a different teleological conclusion. Is that so difficult? How long are you going to dance around that which has been put to do? You have 13.8 billion years to review… I look forward to reading something coherent and meaningful.

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  25. Where does our sense of good and evil come from? Why would we even need a definition and would we know the difference? Would a malevolent god create anything remotely considered as good and why would it, and would it be in his power. A malevolent god of course being totally evil because it is his nature. This being the case if belief in a malevolent god was true. However it would be easier to believe in no god at all and our concept of good and evil sprang from the natural world. The dog eat dog world of the survival of the fittest. How? Life would survive only at the pleasure of the most powerful.

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    • Hi Tony

      “it would be easier to believe in no god at all and our concept of good and evil sprang from the natural world.”

      I’d certainly agree, but we’re starting from the assumption of a Creator.

      ”Would a malevolent god create anything remotely considered as good and why would it, and would it be in his power.”

      Great question, although it is quite removed for the challenge presented here, which I’d like to stick to as closely as possible. That said, it reveals the limitations of our language. We call the Creator “Malevolent” and “Evil,” but these words serve only human needs. We perceive the objectives of the Creator as malicious, as debased, but this is not necessarily the case. The Owner of All Infernal Names does not loathe what men, mice, mushrooms and microbes find enjoyable or desirable. The Creator is not necessarily hateful, vengeful, or even hostile, merely thoroughly observant of His needs, and despite being perilously unpalatable, it is simply the case that the often supercharged sensations of pain, misery, suffering, confusion and anxiety are more full-bodied than affection, more secure than enchantment, more faithful than veneration, and spectacularly more enduring than any emotional surge inspired by some fleeting and momentarily exciting curiosity. Pain does not lie or betray. Misery cannot be counterfeited. And while suffering in all its delicious variety can be cloned and shared, it can never be legitimately faked or forged.

      Now, good exists, and its presence appears to raise a tremendous problem: The Problem of Good. The problem, however, only exists until we realise that much like the words “evil” and malevolent,” the Problem of Good is also only a word problem, a lexical glitch, a squabble in definitions, and nothing more. There is no problem. Good does not exist. Good has never existed, not as something distasteful or hurtful to the Creator. Good is not a wave of dissent, a rebellion growing inside Creation like some determined cancer, a tumour. Good is neither a disease nor a corruption, for good is not the equal and opposite of evil but rather an evil unto itself. It is a flavour of evil, a dialect, or perhaps more accurately, a variation in temperature there to be experienced in those moments when there appears to be a temporary reduction of perceptible suffering.

      Good, it can be demonstrated, is a mechanism to greater expressions of evil. The first good was, of course, the standardisation of the natural laws. Without this tidiness, this regulation of what can happen, when and where, at quantum and atomic scales, Creation would be little more than another flavour of mayhem; incomprehensible and unknowable.

      Consider this simple fact: If the operations of this world were underwritten by nothing but an outwardly violent, reckless policy of uncapped destruction and mayhem—if all life defiled itself and everything around it without regulation—then it would very quickly bring about a reduction, not enhancement, of suffering as continuously savaged life systems (be they chemical, planetary, biological, cultural, economic, or technological systems) would never be afforded the necessary time, space and security to mature and internally enrich, and without self-enrichment, without diversification and specialisation, the Creator’s harvests would be increasingly anaemic over time, and this would represent a failed, bankrupted Creation. The chief purpose of Creation is not therefore 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 goods. A ship, after all, has to be floated and launched before it can be drowned and sunk. You see, in this drama, warm survivors, not cold victims, are more valuable to the Creator. Dreams are always to be favoured over nightmares, as it is dreams, and sweet hopes, that inspire all things to throw themselves willingly into a future they think they can manipulate.

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  26. Ultimately I don’t think your position can be defeated for an omnipotent and omniscient God. As I think I mentioned before a big part of the reason I don’t believe there is a God, at least in the way he is definite by judeo-Christian religions is that if there is a creator there must be intentionality. And if there is intentionality one cannot deny that there is both evil and good in the world. Even if you accept the presence of a devil or some evil agent, if God is truly omnipotent than there can be no moral grounds for God to not do something when he could. Thus the only answer is that God allows bad to happen and his morality must then deeply be questions as wholly good. You could of course redefine god into to not omnipotent, or that there is an evil agent out there equal in power to God such that both are unlimited enough in their power to cancel each other out in a ying and yang sort of way. Christians will always try to argue some sort of…”Well God wants to show us that we need him in our lives”, “or that God wants us to choose to love him”, but how can one reasonably make a choice to love some being that allows bad things to happen even though he has the power to stop it? Unless we were mentally damaged in some way this is not the criteria we would use to love another human, and we have laws that actually punish people for not acting to stop a crime when they reasonably could. I read some of the other comments from people who disagree with you and they act like you pulled out a premise from nowhere to build this deductive chain of arguments. But I don’t see it as nothing more than the Judeo-Christian premise of what God is, and then simply followed the logical chain of events that follows given what we observe in the world.

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    • But I don’t see it as nothing more than the Judeo-Christian premise of what God is, and then simply followed the logical chain of events that follows given what we observe in the world.

      Being the sole Creator, yes, but TOOAIN doesn’t interfere or dabble, ever. The thesis essentially contends (by observed facts, one being a world entirely free of any supernatural stains) that this creation is something like a timed game stitched along a few clear rules (that guarantee self-complication) and left to run as it pleases. To get a thrill from this adventure, it’s forwarded that TOOAIN suspends His omniscience, putting His eyes out, so every twist and turn is fascinating and genuinely new, unseen. Although only hypothesised towards the end, its proposed that this act of self-mutilation greatly amplifies the thrill of His existence. It’s even suggested that He might blind Himself so completely that He forgets Himself entirely, and is cast into Creation, spreading Himself out through the entire canvas, simultaneously playing both the roles of predator and prey, never suspecting He is the Creator. Both, after all, are thrilling from His perspective.

      Whichever way you look at it, the TOOAIN hypothesis is staggeringly more convincing than a benevolent creator who has lost control. It appears, however, the only reason why there isn’t a rich tradition studying this creature is simply because it isn’t emotionally satisfying. The closest any tradition has gotten is presented in Dualism, which has the sweet promise of success should those forces of light prevail.

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      • I see what you are saying now. But perhaps the reason why such a creature isn’t emotionally satisfying is because such a creature is so far from humanity and in the end, God as a human creation must take on human qualities as much as possible. No matter what powers we endow him with, we assign gender, we assign a human form, we have as a friend, an ally, a person who deals out justice, a giver and a taker, benevolent and cruel. Things that define the mosaic of humanity fairly well.

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  27. Hi John Zande… your challenge is interesting… I have summarised the challenge to read:

    Given 1) the naturally self-complicating nature of this universe, and given that 2) complexity births a broader and deeper variety of accessible suffering, the Challenge standing before anyone wishing to counter this most basic of proofs for the existence of the Omnimalevolent Creator is to present hard observational data detailing impressive, unambiguous, and irresistible movements towards less complexity over time, not more.

    First, I should say that I am not a fan of complexity theory (though I will use the term so as to not disenfranchise you). The term is essentially a description of human perception, i.e. a human relationship with Nature so the reification of complexity is a mistake.

    If I may, I shall simplify and generalise the challenge to read as follows:

    “All things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe. Observer participancy gives rise to information and information gives rise to physics/complexity.”

    This quantifies the a priori in the challenge.

    I shall use the search for the Higgs Boson and its relationship to the Large Hadron Collider to provide an example of observational data to show an irresistible movement towards less complexity over time, not more.

    First, I should point out to you that in physics terms your thesis is scientifically characterised and hypothesised in broad terms in these papers (you can get them on-line and they are written by very good physicists):

    Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya “Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal” and “Search for Future Influence From LHC”.

    These papers were written before the LHC went on-line. What they hypothesised using Bilking-Arguments was that the Higgs particle would never be found. Essentially, they used the idea of closed-casual loops, here the future directly affects the present; closed-casual loops would prevent the Higgs being measured. In effect they were saying Nature did not want the Higgs to be found.

    What they meant by this was though the physicists understood completely how the LHC operated bilking phenomena would always occur, in other words unfavourable events would always thwart the measurement every time they tried to measure the Higgs. These unfavourable events would increasingly become more complex and perplexing.

    In reality the hypothesis did have some basis of theoretical viability because in Feynman’s theory of positrons uncaused correlations are not improbable.

    Now, when the LHC was first used to find the Higgs an unfavourable event did in fact occur, a part of the LHC exploded. So, with the first use of the LHC the bilking prediction was correct.

    However, as we know the experiment events did become simpler and predictable not more complex and unpredictable; CERN found the Higgs, though the analysis of the data in itself was complex.

    However, that is not the end of the matter; recently it is being postulated that CERN did not find the Higgs but rather a techni-Higgs (a particle similar to the Higgs).

    Now, this summary of events concerning the Higgs and the LHC is enlightening. Though the LHC is a technically complex machine the underlying principle is simple and well understood, i.e. collide two protons together at an energy level that is equivalent to 14 times the energy produced when two mosquitos collide (with the LHC upgrade it is now 28 times the energy produced when two mosquitos collide). It is only because a proton is so much smaller than a mosquito that large collision energies are produced.

    However, what we can now say for certain is that uncaused correlations did not occur, i.e. the experiments did not become more complex as your thesis suggests they should; rather, they became less complex (the LHC routinely operates at high energy levels).

    But now, let’s concentrate purely on the LHC measurement itself.

    In effect the physicists were asking a qualitative question of Nature:

    “Does the Higgs particle exist?”

    That would be answered by Nature in a quantitative way.

    “Yes, I exist.”

    Making a measurement is a quantitative way of asking a question.

    In effect what we have occurring between the physicists and nature is an epistemological game, i.e. the physicists are questing knowledge and information from nature.

    However, what we know in physics is that in physical experiments much information hoarding from physical phenomena occurs. What occurs is that the physicist controls the choice of correlation, i.e. energy level used to find the Higgs and the phenomena being measured controls the degree of blur, (error) in the measurement, i.e. the protons colliding. The degree of blur is out of the hands of the physicists and is adjusted by nature. In effect, what is going on is a zero-sum game, i.e. any information acquired by the physicist is at the expense of the phenomenon, or nature in general. Then according to the rules of such a game, nature has the ‘aim’ of increasing the degree of blur.

    The physicists want to maximise the amount the amount of information gained while nature wants to minimise it.

    We can see this type of information hoarding game occurring regarding the status of the Higgs particle measurement, i.e. is the LHC measurement the Higgs or is it a techni-Higgs, this is the degree of blur.

    It is clear from the present status of the Higgs that the information transfer between the physicists and the Higgs phenomena is a result of a lossy information transfer between the observers and the phenomena under observation. The physicists aim of increasing information and knowledge is always frustrated because they always lose the game to the phenomena (or at best break even, i.e. zero-sum). Therefore, one can regard the phenomena as an all-powerful, but malevolent force: an information demon.

    The only problem with this information demon is that it undermines your entire thesis.
    Because observer requests for information for any type of phenomena from nature are effectively zero-sum at best.

    This means that scientifically and empirically one cannot determine whether the Creator is Omnimalevolent or Omnibelevolent.

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    • Hi Phillip, and thank you… Awesome and thoroughly fascinating comment! You might even have something here.

      First up, apologies for the time it took to clear your comment. First-time commenters automatically go to Moderation, and I’ve been out all afternoon. You’re free now.

      Please bear with me as physics is not my strong suit. When you say, “the experiments did not become more complex as your thesis suggests they should; rather, they became less complex” was it the matter or the trajectories? I’m not even sure if this matters, but I’d like to get it sorted in my head.

      Just a quick note. The thesis doesn’t say the shift from ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity is forever and always, rather being more the predominate trend (pattern) over time. Extinction events are a very clear example of a system becoming temporarily less complex, but as I explained above in another comment, it can be argued that such occasional catastrophes are demonstrably necessary to in fact spur growth and stimulate new shoots in much the same way an orchardist triggers growth in his trees through aggressive pruning. Here the orchardist purposefully targets diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, and structurally unsound or unwanted tissue so as to train and coax the plant to greater health, vibrancy and output. As noted by anthropologist, Roger Lewin:

      “…there have been tremendous bursts of innovation…in the history of life, mostly in the wake of mass extinctions. For instance, following the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago, in which an estimated 96 percent of existing species perished, the rate of innovation almost matched that of the Cambrian. But the innovation was principally variations upon existing themes; no major new themes were added. In the Cambrian, by contrast, innovation was largely at the level of producing new themes, with variations upon them being relatively minor.” (Lewin, R., 1993, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, University of Chicago press, pp.65)

      This point is really interesting: “The physicists want to maximise the amount the amount of information gained while nature wants to minimise it.”

      That’s wild, and here you’re certainly onto something. Curious, is this observed always, and is the loss of information due to the observer, and nothing else? Now, I’m assuming this occurs only at the sub-subatomic level… in the zoo of quarks and other exotic particles. As far as I’m aware, and correct me if I’m wrong, but this isn’t mirrored in the macro (Newtonian) world; the world in which emergent things (us) exist. In that world, our reality, hydrogen fuses to the heavier and more complex helium, single compounds bind to make double compounds, simple molecules bind to create amino acids, amino acids come together to form RNA, and so on, with each rung acquiring more and more complexity, or information, as you put it. We have eukaryotes before prokaryotes, primitive action potentials before nerve cells, bilateral nervous systems before central nervous systems, hunter-gatherers before complex modern societies, barter systems before derivative trading.

      Are you aware of neuroscientists’ Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch Integrated Information Theory? It’s pretty wild, but in it they assert that any system, organic or inorganic, that processes and integrates information experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, computer chips, even protons are all examples of such systems. Consciousness, Tononi and Koch assert, is integrated information, represented as Phi Φ, and the quantity—or body—of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information (Φ) generated above and beyond the information simply generated by its parts. Anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles.

      “Even simple matter has a modicum of Φ [integrated information]. Protons and neutrons consist of a triad of quarks that are never observed in isolation. They constitute an infinitesimal integrated system.”

      If I understand their theory correctly, and there’s every chance that I don’t, your example is made doubly valid, and even more fascinating, although I’m not entirely sure it affects the general thesis. I mean this in the sense of our actionable reality. Bear with me as I tease this thought free. I’d argue that our reality begins at the atom. Of course, there is a universe within that atom, but that universe doesn’t touch us. The level at which we start to comprehend reality in a genuinely meaningful manner is the atom, and it is the atom, let’s say hydrogen, that is the first “thing” (following IIT) that is capable of a peculiar caliber of death. Although physiologically incapable of suffering in a manner recognisable to human minds, with a non-zero Phi (Φ), hydrogen subjectively experiences the most ancient of all anxieties: the emergency to persist, to push back against those things which would, if given the chance, annihilate it. Certainly, if we take Tononi and Koch’s theory to be actual, to be reality, then inside the core of every star is an ocean of tumult where hydrogen (compressed and its electrons accelerated) struggles to hold onto its strange, strange, strange understanding of dear life. In this war which rages between gravity and electron degeneracy pressure, the hydrogen atom cannot however win. As temperatures and pressures inside the core pass a precise, unchanging threshold, its identity evaporates, and while briefly disguised as something new, hydrogen-2 (deuterium) and hydrogen-3 (tritium) fuse into a helium-4 atom, and what had been, ceases to be. The atom (as a thing unto itself) is annihilated.

      Although we can tear apart protons, it is at the atomic level (and above) where we can directly experience reality. Quarks can’t be touched, and I think this is an important point. No question, what you’ve presented confounds the lexical articulation of the thesis in much the same way mass extinction events confound it, I hadn’t delved into the quantum world until now, but to repeat, I’m not entirely convinced it affects the actual thesis as exotic particles don’t participate in our reality… In a manner of speaking, of course. As it is, until we have a unifying theory of quantum gravity, quantum mechanics and classical mechanics exist as if in two different worlds, and this might well be argued by the theologian (here being me) that this is the arena from which the Creator experiences His Creation.. from behind a curtain of improbability which (by design) we simply cannot access. Granted, that’s a Deepak Chopra word salad, completely unverifiable, but in the world of theology and apologetics entirely plausible… and entirely unsatisfactory 😉

      In your opinion then, does this distinction between the tangible, actionable, sensible, intelligible world, and the intangible, insensible world preserve the body of thesis? I’d argue yes, but I’m of course hopelessly biased.

      Now, as to your conclusion, I’m not entirely sure I follow your reasoning. Information loss at the sub-subatomic level doesn’t affect the world we experience, so I can’t see why that would invalidate observations of repeating patterns.. ie. the tendency toward complexity, where complexity births greater and greater potential for suffering. We are identifying the Creator (a Creator who chooses to remain anonymous) by these recorded tendencies, and those tendencies are true in the actual, sensible world. Perhaps, however, I’m missing something?

      Like

  28. John Zande… When you write:

    “We are identifying the Creator (a Creator who choose to remain anonymous)…”

    is my point, i.e. you want to identify a Creator but the result is “anonymous”.

    Your aim of increasing information and knowledge of the “Creator” is always frustrated because you lose the information game to the phenomena (or at best break even, i.e. zero-sum… this is the reason for the measurement “anonymous”).

    When I speak of “information”… I mean any form of measurement, be it classical or quantum… though it is not necessary with your model to consider micro-scale… classical scale is enough…. say, like turbulence…

    I do think your model is the best out of all these types of models by a longshot… you are the first person who has “seen” that the problem is dynamic and not static (all philosophers approach it as a static problem).

    I hate writing exposition…. but, correct me if I am wrong… but, this is how I see your model works.

    First, we look at a logical proposition:

    The earth orbits the sun; this is true. i.e. a piece of knowledge.

    Now, what I think your model works on (using the same proposition) is:

    The earth orbits the sun; this is good and bad.

    I can see how you want to use “complexity” here… you have to because “good” & “bad” form a dynamic feed-back loop… it is this feed-back loop you have cottoned onto that makes you model interesting…this does make your model useful because it can be extended and formalised… i.e. use of self-criticality, stable-paths, etc.

    I won’t go into anymore detail… as I fear readers of your challenge will either misconstrue what I write… or not understand… or both….

    But, it is an interesting model… though I would disagree with your final analysis concerning an Omnimalevent Creator (the model is much better than that)… I think, if one extends your model using a logical-formalism rather than pure logic… the results would be extremely interesting… and would offer a fresh aspect of the puzzle.

    For example, I think you could use ideas from information physics using a logical-formalism using Craig’s Theorem (not the W L Craig)…. If I am correct with the good & bad feed-back loop in your model… I could see the use of a Turing Diffusion equation to come up with some interesting takes on the model…

    Because, quite frankly the way the puzzle is handled by philosophers who do this for a living is so boring (I really don’t know how they can live in their heads).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Phillip

      I’m still not entirely sure I understand why you say the conclusion must be zero or anonymous. I know this isn’t how you’re using “anonymous” here, but a desire to remain anonymous doesn’t necessarily equal anonymity. As William Paley said, “Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.” Now, while Paley was a naïve buffoon on many fronts, there is a certain truth in those 16 words. The tendencies of the design should reveal the disposition of the designer (provided we’re positing a designer), and this is enough information to dress whatever vagaries exist due to the designer choosing not to be known.

      This is the basic argument of teleology, and I just can’t see how the actions of the observer in the present moment affect the existing (now unchangeable) pattern from which we’re drawing the conclusion. For example, 3.5 billion years of evolution has unravelled before either you or I arrived on the scene to assess its path here on earth. The only way we can affect that pattern (which is now history) is via our value judgment. Here we certainly get divergences (Paley, for example, believed that the earthly design is inherently beneficial), but our opinions on what has happened before us cannot alter the facts of what has happened before us. That is fixed, so the strength of the conclusion (here being malevolence, although that word can be confusing given the Creator’s desire for growth, which is the feedback loop I think you were referring to) must be judged then on how accurately it explains the historical pattern.

      That said, I do thank you for commenting. You’ve broadened and enlivened the discussion. If you ever get the chance to read the full treatise, I’d be genuinely thrilled to hear your critique.

      Like

  29. Maybe I’m thinking too simplistically but isn’t there an obvious alternative to having to come up with evidence supporting decreasing complexity through time in order to counter the idea of a malevolent Creator? That is, if some being did create the universe, (s)he or it simply set the whole thing up by building in the potential for both beauty and ugliness, joy and suffering. In this case the Creator would likely also give up all notions of either controlling or predicting the specific path through time of the universe. And anyway, the notion of time is probably irrelevant to such a being. On a more practical level, it’s a fact that, Creator or not, we control our own destinies to some extent, and we control completely the way in which we view the duality of good and evil in the world. While suffering can easily come without our bidding, two things need to be recognized: (1) a great majority of the time, if not all the time, we are our own worst enemies; and (2) humans have a built-in ability to cope and adapt. There is always beauty and mystery to contemplate once the episode of suffering is over. In other words, “this too shall pass”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In reading some of the comments I see I probably discounted one of your key assumptions, or starting points. That would be a 100% efficient Creator, otherwise stated as the universe is evolving the way it is because that’s the way the Creator wants it. So if I grant that assumption my point may be moot.

      I was raised in a Christian environment but I was never really taught (or at least I didn’t listen to those who wanted me to believe) that God is directly involved with all that goes on ‘down here’, including the suffering of humans. It was also explained to me that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” does not mean God is actively interfering in the way things happen. Rather it’s an expression designed to disabuse of us such a silly notion.

      Also I mentioned good and evil when I really wanted to stick to the concepts of complexity and suffering (you’re right, good and evil aren’t really relevant here). But I can’t help think of the rest of the life-forms that we share the world with. They don’t seem to suffer, even when they are being subjected to the same vagaries of a complex universe that we experience as suffering.

      So what gives? What is really true about the universe (and the Creator if there is one) and what is a creation of the human mind? Even time may be a creation of the human mind, and without that term in the denominator, there is no such thing as increasing complexity with time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael, hope all’s well. I’ll answer both posts here, OK.

        ”That is, if some being did create the universe, (s)he or it simply set the whole thing up by building in the potential for both beauty and ugliness, joy and suffering. In this case the Creator would likely also give up all notions of either controlling or predicting the specific path through time of the universe.”

        It’s not noted here, but the creator does not interfere or meddle. This universe may be considered a sort of timed game stitched along a few basic rules. It’s random, and both good and bad exist, although good can be shown to be nothing but a mechanism to greater evil.

        ”two things need to be recognized: (1) a great majority of the time, if not all the time, we are our own worst enemies;

        Indeed, and that no doubt marks us out as the Creator’s most cherish trinket of amusement and stimulation.

        ”and (2) humans have a built-in ability to cope and adapt.

        Precisely! The Creator desires growth across all systems. 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. Where hope is fertile the trinkets of the Creator’s amusement are compelled forward, and they move not because they are being instructed to move, but rather because they perceive from where they stand a degree of safety, security, and predictability ahead. Whether real or simply anticipated, safety and stability stirs in the more forward thinking of individuals thoughts of greater investments in future enterprises. Larger, bolder, longer-term investments are made (families, cultural infrastructure, exploration, empire building) and this appropriately services the Omnimalevolent Creator’s hunger to see the fields over which He will take his profit ripen and diversify in new and fascinating ways. Dreams, after all, must be erected before they can razed.

        “There is always beauty and mystery to contemplate once the episode of suffering is over. In other words, “this too shall pass”.

        Absolutely. For it to be intelligible and consequential, an animal must be capable of knowing it is suffering, and it cannot know this unless it has a peak point of pleasure established at some moment in the past against which it can gauge the depths of its misery in the present. If the Creator had made everything men saw loathsome, everything he touched, a sting, every smell, a stench, and every sound, discord, as Paley proposed evil would surely do, then neither men nor beast could possibly ever distinguish the beautiful from the deplorable, the warm caress from the sharp bite, the aromatic from the stench, and the sweet harmony from the obtuse noise.

        I go into some detail in the book discussing two programs that run through Creation, crisis and habitualisation. Crisis stirs the pot, so to speak, never letting anything truly rest (a type of torture in itself: the emergency of existence), while habitualisation corrodes even the most brilliant of behavioural adaptations. It is a triumph of the Omnimalevolent Creator’s design. As technique is improved, joy declines. Inevitably, talent degenerates too. Working in concert, crisis and habitualisation keeps things fresh.

        ”But I can’t help think of the rest of the life-forms that we share the world with. They don’t seem to suffer, even when they are being subjected to the same vagaries of a complex universe that we experience as suffering.”

        Really? As Steve Sailer said, “it’s moralistic fallacy to believe that what is good is found in nature.” For most living things existence has never been a stream of abundances, sweet distinctions, and trusted pleasures. Predation, disease, parasitism, thirst, starvation, intraspecific aggression, ostracism, and sexual frustration are endemic in what are called healthy ecosystems. I mentioned this to Phadde above, but it’s worth repeating here:

        Of all predatory attacks on prey it is estimated only 19% achieve a success rate higher than 90%. The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley was wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

        The sheer and utter abhorrence of the violence-laced macro-environment pales however to the miniaturised hell lived by insects. Incubated inside an inchworm, braconid wasp pupae, for example, climb out from their host only to then attach themselves to its exterior like foul branches, consuming the helpless worm alive over days. The stigmatomma oregonense ant will paralyse the earth centipede and feed it alive to its ravenous larvae. Hoverfly larva will capture the milkweed aphid and sink in their vacuum cleaner-like mouths, slowly sucking the creature’s living innards out while it struggles to hold onto life.

        Published on the 7th of July, 2012, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness firmly asserts that the absence of a neocortex does not preclude non-human animals from experiencing genuine suffering. The signatories to the declaration stressed, in fact, that the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish.

        These are the realities of the natural world: uncensored, untwisted, uncorrupted. As the uniquely qualified evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington, David Barash, noted:

        Although the natural world can be marvellous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering is built into the nature of things.”

        ”So what gives?”

        Poe’s Law 😉

        Like

      • Thanks John, I’m doing pretty well. I hope things are swimming along for you too.
        All this just makes me think there probably isn’t a creator then, although you probably already know I can’t totally discount the possibility, at least of some not-so-spiritual advanced intelligence that designed all of this.

        And I really do think, despite the reality of the bad stuff coexisting with the good, that it’s a wonderful universe full of fascinating and beautiful things. I know you do too! I also think humans inject suffering into it, and not all via their religion or belief in God. But it’s an interesting exercise you’ve come up with, definitely spurs thought.

        One thing I can’t agree with is that animals (including insects) experience suffering. They experience pain sure. But the sort of suffering that we experience, where the mental/emotional can easily get to the point of physical pain and even disability? I don’t think animals or plants ever get near that. Those acute reactions brought on by prolonged stressors (such as keeping an eye out for predators or, occasionally defending against attack), as you mentioned, I don’t think animals ever get there.

        In fact, we humans don’t experience debilitating stress symptoms when we’re put in sketch situations and have tools to do something about it. Fight or flight is completely innocuous when it’s a brief, intense episode (the way nature intended). It’s when we have no control, can’t do anything about it, and when it continues unabated that we get in trouble mentally and emotionally.

        Prey animals, or predators that are near starvation and “desperate” for a kill, they have the tools to do something about it. Their situations are constantly changing, and they’re nicely equipped to deal with their conditions without the burden of forethought or rumination.

        They aren’t like soldiers that develop PTSD after service. I have a couple uncles with PTSD (from ‘Nam, and it’s definitely POST TSD, unlike the TSD of recently returned vets). I strongly believe that PTSD is as much about the long periods of waiting as it is about the action. They’re left sitting around, with no control over where they can go, what they can do, knowing (forethought) that soon they may be in battle, where they must act to not only protect themselves, but also their comrades (for whom they’ve developed a sort of love). On top of all that, they know they must kill to fulfill their duty. Killing our fellow humans is a terrible thing to be made to do. It boils down to my belief that humans (biologists and otherwise) will always fall prey to the fallacy of attributing our own experiences and characteristics to our fellow creatures.

        Likely because of that big bulbous cortex that we still don’t understand very well at all, we are quite a strange animal, further from our ancestors than we realize. Thanks John, take care of yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. “Now, if erosion was something permanent then you might have a point, but it is not. The earth’s tectonic plates ride on a visco-elastic asthenosphere, and like a giant yet leisurely conveyor, the crust is recycled, ensuring the old is reprocessed while the fresh is continuously fed to the surface.”

    One word – craton. Sorry – the end products of erosion (especially clean sandstone and guartzite) are especially stable, devoid of diversity of life (especially relative to the original source material) and are largely not drawn into subduction zones. The “conveyor belt” model for plate tectonics is rather outdated.

    “…the required neurological apparatus for total awareness of pain—and the emotional states allied to that—arose in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod molluscs, such as octopus, Nautilus, and cuttlefish….”

    So let’s say that you STTRREEETTTCCHHH the definition of suffering as you suggest here. That means that a neurological apparatus is required to suffer. Even if we further STRRRREEEEETTTTTTCCCCHHHHH the definition of suffering to include ALL life on planet earth, the creator STILL did a very poor job of creating a universe to suit its needs. Well over 99.99999% of creation is incapable of suffering at any one time. Once you add the temporal dimension to the equation, one must conclude that for all intents and purposes, creation is 100% devoid of suffering.

    “The Creator does not interfere. Ever.”

    That is a very interesting statement. You have proof for this (not just citing someone else’s theory and then accepting it as fact to support yours as you did to sidestep the “suffering” issue)?

    So tell me, how does an atheist like you suddenly believe in a god?

    Like

    • Hi Eric

      Are you denying the earth’s crust recycles itself? Stand on any spot of the earth long enough and it will eventually be razed, folded, burned, ripped apart, shattered, eroded away, flooded, drowned, pressured-packed, and liquefied. Choose any square meter anywhere on the planet and that single spot will one day harbour life, and the next be its greatest, most appalling detractor.

      Erosion is a process, an eddy is a much, much larger mechanism.

      But this is beyond the point. Either way, your single example fails because 1) it’s temporary, and 2) it serves the design perfectly. That is the genius of the design. Erosion can and does create fat, rich soils where life blooms. Where severe erosion exists and is detrimental, life suffers, increasing the Creators harvest. And where the surface is devoid of diversity it serves only to coerce and drive great throngs of life into fertile pockets where obscene levels of competition is assured. Indeed, where geography, soil, water and temperatures are optimal, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, tropical storms of every ghastly flavour, and even volcanoes and tsunamis are guaranteed. Where geography, soil, water and temperatures are optimal, disease is at its happiest—pathogens of every virulent strain thriving on a vast stock of warm-bodied hosts inside which mutations and adaptation may occur rapidly and transmission is assured. Where geography, soil, water and temperatures are optimal, competition is at its peak, fuelling biological arms races driven by ancient paranoias and deep seated anxieties which, in turn, fan conflict and war, both little ones and large ones.

      You see, Eric, everything (the good and the bad) is working towards increasing the Creators pleasure. A dead zone only serves to channel and concentrate life into fertile kill zones. I have dedicated a chapter (an entire essay) in the book to this very subject: “The Earth, a Welcoming Kill Zone”

      ”So let’s say that you STTRREEETTTCCHHH the definition of suffering”

      It’s not me making the definition, rather the world’s leading neurologists and biologists. Like I said, if you have a problem with the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness then I suggest you take it up with these experts. If you have a problem with Professor Bekoff’s broader declaration, then do please take it up with him. Until then, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to accept that suffering is omnipresent.

      Here is a neat little article on a recent study concerning fear in flies.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150514132907.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

      ”the creator STILL did a very poor job of creating a universe to suit its needs. Well over 99.99999% of creation is incapable of suffering at any one time.”

      Eric, seriously, it would help greatly if you actually read what I write. It would save me having to go back over the same material. First, and to repeat, neuroscientists’ Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch Integrated Information Theory argues that subjective experience permeates the universe, and if this is true, then suffering (a peculiar caliber of suffering) is absolutely everywhere, starting with hydrogen. If you think you can challenge their theory, then I’d be happy to review whatever evidence you present.

      Second, and to repeat, what you call wasted space (literally) I call perverted genius. The universe might simply exist as it does (a reckless exploitation of proportion and scale) for no other reason than to abuse, denigrate, and humiliate the minds it was so expertly commissioned to birth. Scale and time are, after all, no hindrance to a maximally powerful being. As I wrote earlier:

      This would be malevolence on an unfathomable scale, expressed through immeasurable waste stretched out between distances and times that cannot be understood. This is considered pain, carefully presented in careless proportions to blister and disgrace anyone—or anything—that might momentarily dare to ever privately contemplate it is in control.

      So, it is either the case that suffering is everywhere, as IIT would argue, or the vulgarity of the universe’s scale is a type of deliberately conceived, expertly executed perverted joke… an offense to all reasonableness dangled in front of the eyes of a curious explorer. I have a chapter in the book on this, titled: “The Universe Absurd.”

      ”That is a very interesting statement. You have proof for this”

      Have you proof of supernatural intervention? Of course you don’t. This world is painted in impenetrable naturalism for the Creator does not seek to be known. This serves at least two purposes:

      1) Entertainment. Letting the game (a timed game) evolve in thoroughly unpredictable ways is a part of the thrill of the Creator’s existence. By indulging His game by giving it line and letting it run in unpredictable and creative directions the Creator has ensured both activity and pleasure. By letting His quarry run must not only be the source of enormous enjoyment for the Creator, but it must also constitute a great portion of the holy writ underscoring the operation of His creation. What greater possible pleasure is there, after all, than letting your prey hope for an alternative outcome? What greater thrill is there than letting your victim believe it can win?

      2) Existential despair is obviated. If sentient life recognised the futility of its existence, if it recognised that it had been born on the line and was eternally bonded to the perverted servitude of another who does not—and will never—hold council to discuss emancipation, then it is inevitable that birth rates among all self-aware creatures would plummet as reproduction itself would be viewed as an unconscionable and outrageous act of unforgivable selfishness. Being freely acting and presented with an insufferable reality, complex conscious life would find no option but to rebel, and to rebel completely by deploying the only weapon it had against the architect of its unforgiving world: a massive denial of service; self-administered, intentional extinction… Revolutionary suicide.

      For Creation to function as it must, there can be nothing to blame, nothing to indict, and the trick, if one can even call it that, has been practiced by magicians of every species, in every theatre, and on every street corner and river bend since tactfully-minded creatures discovered for themselves the utility of misdirection. The most effective way to make something disappear, to make something truly vanish, is to place that thing where everyone can see it.

      Eric, what is there to be prosecuted when both the innocent and the guilty suffer in equal measure? What is there to blame and accuse of injustice when both the hunter and the hunted inhabit the same appallingly violent, unforgiving space? Diseases do not discriminate, parasites know no bigotry, wild fires hold no opinion on what or who they incinerate, and a river will just as soon swallow up a fawn as it will drag down and drown the lioness chasing it. An avalanche does not single out which trees to level, what village to erase, or which body to mangle and bury. A drought disperses its ruin without care or concern for which organism in its terrible wake has been kind, or which has been unnecessarily cruel. The steady decay of old age has no regard for even the most spectacular life lived, defiling the incorrigible and the obedient with a horrendous and dispassionate efficiency. There is no creativity in the trajectory of volcanic bombs, and life-suffocating ash plumes will move carelessly with the careless winds. Death, be it swift and charitable, or protracted and hard, belongs to all, and here the Impartial Observer glimpses the conspicuous genius underwriting that which has been created: There is no lie.

      The world is presented as it is. Nothing is concealed, except for perhaps the identity of the Creator, which is not so much a lie, as it is a reasonable omission. No view is, however, disguised. No composition of the natural landscape is purposefully twisted or deformed so as to deliberately deceive, and no function of the natural world is dressed in sweet deception. No scream is muffled, no laceration sanitised, and the pain of hunger and thirst are naked for all to see and be sickened by. Diseases of every ghastly flavour are on loathsome display, the blights of parasitism are laid bare, and the crippling agonies of old age are public property. The terror of predation is revealed in every anguished look, the fear of infanticide written on every mother’s face, and the misery of earthquakes, landslides, cyclones, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, droughts, heat waves, and wild fires conferred uncensored upon stunned and appropriately intimidated audiences.

      Now, these things all constitute the government of the Creator, whereas we are supposed to be discussing teleology…. The Teleology Challenge.

      Like

      • “Are you denying the earth’s crust recycles itself? Stand on any spot of the earth long enough and it will eventually be razed, folded, burned, ripped apart, shattered, eroded away, flooded, drowned, pressured-packed, and liquefied. Choose any square meter anywhere on the planet and that single spot will one day harbour life, and the next be its greatest, most appalling detractor.”

        Your understanding of earth processes is obviously extremely limited. If this statement were true, there would be no Archean Sandstone. Yet there are. Please think how, if your model is true, we would have evidence of three distinct orogenies on the east cost of the US. Heck, just google geologic provinces of the world and you will find that orogeny zones only exist on the fringes of the continents and large swaths of these land masses (the majority in fact) are generally tectonically inactive shield and platform provinces. Go back to Geology 102 before you go an further with this discussion.

        First you say:

        “Now, if erosion was something permanent then you might have a point, but it is not.”

        I show you it is and you write:

        “But this is beyond the point. Either way, your single example fails…”

        Which means you are shifting rules and terms in your debate to justify your position and support your theory. You are not debating in good faith, though from what I have read I am hardly surprised.

        “”the creator STILL did a very poor job of creating a universe to suit its needs. Well over 99.99999% of creation is incapable of suffering at any one time.”

        Eric, seriously, it would help greatly if you actually read what I write. It would save me having to go back over the same material. First, and to repeat, neuroscientists’ Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch Integrated Information Theory argues that subjective experience permeates the universe, and if this is true, then suffering (a peculiar caliber of suffering) is absolutely everywhere, starting with hydrogen. If you think you can challenge their theory, then I’d be happy to review whatever evidence you present.””

        Oh no, I read your reference to another’s theory. Sorry, you can not cite another theory as proof for failures found in your theory. Let’s go back to the definition of suffering:

        To most, this would be close to the accepted definition of “suffer”:

        1. to feel or endure pain, illness, or injury

        Notice a couple things. One must first be alive to suffer, second one must be able to feel pain to suffer, third death in and of itself is not suffering. Finally, most who have grappled with the concept of suffering land on the conclusion that one must have enough central brain function to recognize one’s suffering before one actually suffers. This is actually a good summary of the concept:

        http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/372/lega/witn/shelly-e.htm

        “In other words, the only animals capable of feeling pain are those that can feel fear, anxiety, distress and terror, similar to what humans feel when we receive noxious stimuli.

        Almost all organisms, including bacteria, will attempt to escape from an aversive stimulus4. Because bacteria are not thought to be capable of feeling pain (e.g. they lack a nervous system), possessing an escape response to an aversive stimulus is not enough evidence to demonstrate that a species is capable of feeling pain. To infer that a non-human vertebrate (mammals, birds and reptiles) is in pain, researchers rely on the vocalizations and physiological responses (e.g. the release of stress hormones) that an animal produces when faced with an aversive stimulus2. Because these responses are similar to our own when we are in pain, researchers argue that, by analogy, animals showing these responses are also in pain.”

        Also an important concept:

        “Invertebrates show few, if any, of the behaviours that we would recognize as evidence of emotion6. Many invertebrates are cannibalistic, and many eat their young when given the chance. Most have no social behaviour. Although they can respond vigorously to noxious stimuli, even this response is inconsistent. Insects, for example, will continue with normal activity even after severe injury. An insect walking with a crushed tarsus (lower leg) will continue applying it to the ground with undiminished force. Locusts will writhe when sprayed with DDT. However, they will also continue feeding while being eaten by a praying mantis.”

        So we can draw a suffering line very easily – first requirement: living, Second requirement: a central nervous system. At a MINIMUM. Period. End of story. Pain (and usually ENDURING pain) is a primary requirement for non-human suffering under the commonly understood definition of the word. I do make the non-human distinction because it is clear that humans have an added capacity to create their own unique form of suffering that may not require actual physical pain. Nonetheless, the first two primary requirements stand – living and central nervous system.

        With this definition in hand, one can see that creation is 100% devoid of suffering. Even you can draw this simple conclusion.

        So I will summarize my proof against your “theory”:

        1. You are trying to draw conclusions on the motivations of a being that exists by definition outside your space and time-locked frame of reference. This is not possible because your observations are not complete and your theory fails from the start because of this flaw.

        2. If you choose to ignore number 1 as you apparently wish to do, there are natural ongoing processes that move creation from more complex and unstable (which you contend leads to increased suffering) which your creator would not likely have designed into its creation if its intent was maximum diversity and suffering. Erosion is just one such process. There are magma processes that natural sort atoms into the most simple and stable packing possible. Even our tectonically active earth is steadily slowing in its activity. See Mars and its stability over eons as our likely future. Not a lot of suffering occurring on Mars now nor for quite sometime in the past and future.

        3. A creator with a primary goal of creating suffering could not have done a worse job of its creation. The creator’s creation is currently 99.9999…% devoid of suffering which requires complexity of life. Even on earth, there was no capacity for suffering for nearly ALL of our 4.5 billion year history. When considered in the temporal dimension, the entirety of creation is 100% devoid of suffering.

        Even in a suffering human’s life, MOST of life is devoid of suffering from a temporal and population standpoint. Further, we have a very nice design characteristic of being able to block and ignore much of our enduring pain. Again, if we do not recognize our suffering, we are not suffering. We are now moving very close to some of the concepts involved in some religions that have to do with humans moving to an enlightened state where they are able (by nature or design, btw) to move outside of suffering completely. I will leave such arguments to the experts in these matters but even suffering humans are not designed for maximum suffering by your creator.

        Now you might cite the “theories” of others to refute these three points but that is not a valid argument. There are PLENTY of “theories” one can point to if ne wishes to argue that global warming does not exist or is not man-made. Citing the theories of others, however, does not mean your argument has validity. It is actually rather lazy.

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      • Hi Eric

        Look, I appreciate your efforts here, but you really aren’t advancing any viable position.

        ”Which means you are shifting rules and terms in your debate to justify your position and support your theory. You are not debating in good faith, though from what I have read I am hardly surprised.”

        Nonsense. I am trying to broaden your mind to consider the larger canvas. You want to talk about tiny eddies when the challenge before you is to demonstrate massive and permanent trends to less complexity, and therefore less suffering. Is the earth getting less and less and less complex/fertile due to erosion? Of course not! The earth’s rocky surface shifts and slides, transforming, bending, churning everything. Deep ribbons of vibrant life explode along veins. It will all shift in time, challenging life to adapt, to grow, to experiment, to self-embellish, and to become more complex

        These are observed facts, Eric. Of course, eventually the trend will end, and we may call that the end of this particular game, the market closed.

        ”first requirement: living”

        Not necessarily true. See Integrated Information Theory. Simply saying you don’t like this hypothesis is not enough, I’m sorry.

        ”Second requirement: a central nervous system. At a MINIMUM. Period. End of story”

        Absolutely, positively false. Even if we are to ignore the probability of IIT, in an organic-only survey, action potentials are all that is required. Now, I have already demonstrated to you how plants can suffer in complex ways. Let me repeat it:

        Located deep inside the plant genome, isolated within the first intron MPK4, lay three ancient genes (PR1, PR2, PR5) that have revealed to researchers that MPK4 is devoted to negative regulation of the PR gene expression. What this means is that plants not only experience suffering (they have action potentials), they live in fear of it. This gene expression is anticipatory. It is what humans would identify with as a deep-rooted paranoia, a most ancient anxiety.

        Any reason why you have ignored this?

        Now, just because you find it intellectually challenging to grasp the concept of something suffering in ways we wouldn’t ordinarily recognise does not make the organisms suffering less real, and I can demonstrate this.

        You mention an insect with a crushed leg not showing its suffering. This is a fantastic point, and I would urge you to read the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Ethics of Research Involving Animals, May 2005. This is an excellent paper, but let me detail one of the cruellest aspects of the natural world. More ruthless than being haunted by unseen terrors before being chased down and eaten alive, individuals in the wild are compelled to not even show their misery… their pain hidden by absolute necessity. Subject to relentless evolutionary pressure, predators (themselves one day prey) have evolved in such a way to seek out the sick and injured, the easier kills who lack the speed and agility and will to fight as intensely as their more able-bodied peers, and this favouritism has pushed all species to avoid at all costs drawing attention to their suffering, pretending instead to the world around as though nothing at all is wrong. A crippled, bleeding leg is compensated for by three relatively good ones. Smashed jaws and infected and broken incisors are hidden inside closed snouts, the blood and puss swallowed for fear of signalling distress to a hundred alert noses. Even the shockingly painful, debilitating leptospirosis kidney disease can be concealed for months if the ageing boar reduces its gait and moves at a slight angle to direction—the pain internalised, concealed, masked.

        That, Eric, is the truth of the natural world. Organisms hide their agonies out of evolved necessity.

        OK, to your summation

        ”1. You are trying to draw conclusions on the motivations of a being that exists by definition outside your space and time-locked frame of reference. This is not possible because your observations are not complete and your theory fails from the start because of this flaw.”

        I feel you lack a fundamental understanding of teleology. Although the Creator desires to remain anonymous, this does not mean He can remain completely concealed. The tendencies of the contrivance reveal His disposition. The fact that we find ourselves (uninvited) inside a complexity machine is evidence. We can study the performance of this machine and its many mechanisms, and on the strength of those observations we may draw conclusions, and test those conclusions.

        Do we observe nature favouring adaptations that promote good will and kinship through simplicity, or have we seen it heaping on of rewards to those organisms that developed more devious weapons, cleverer poisons, and massive and prohibitively expensive brains capable of envisioning discrete parcels of manufactured destruction that could be thrown anonymously over horizons?

        Can you, Eric, foresee a time in this world when an organism’s success might in fact be dependent on its politeness in asking permission to consume another organism? The thought is ludicrous. Creation is simply not orientated towards such outcomes. A lion will no sooner ask a gazelle for permission to eat it than a hoverfly larva will patiently await the milkweed aphid’s invitation to board its body and suck it dry.

        Now, the challenge presented before you was to try and demonstrate a genuine trend to less complexity. Your single example failed. Erosion can and does produce fat, rich soils, negating your point immediately. Indeed, once inhospitable mountain ranges are eroded into gorgeous, undulating hills flushed with life. Secondly, the effects of weathering are not permanent. Far larger forces act on the earth’s surface. Thirdly, as a mechanism in a larger scheme, it serves (when particularly forceful) only to drive life into fertile kill zones.

        ”3. A creator with a primary goal of creating suffering could not have done a worse job of its creation. The creator’s creation is currently 99.9999…% devoid of suffering which requires complexity of life. Even on earth, there was no capacity for suffering for nearly ALL of our 4.5 billion year history. When considered in the temporal dimension, the entirety of creation is 100% devoid of suffering.”

        First: The primary goal of the Creator is to increase His pleasure over time. Pleasure is derived from 1) the genuine and increasingly complex ways and means of experiencing and delivering suffering, and 2) the thrill and entertainment of this entirely random, natural process.

        Second: (and to repeat) Integrated Information Theory says your wrong… but there is an equally plausible alternative explanation, and we’ll get to that in point five.

        Third: Professor Marc Bekoff’s Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience (drawn from the conclusions of over 2,500 papers and studies) firmly asserts protozoa suffer, therefore definitively proving you wrong. It is clear, as such, that genuine, organic-only suffering existed the moment life existed. Is not the emergency of survival itself, the frantic urge to hold on, to persist, the most ancient of all anxieties?

        Why do prey run, Eric? Self-preservation, right? Fear. On that note, you seem to be of the rather odd opinion that animals generally do not suffer. This is a moralistic fallacy and smacks of William Lane Craig’s pathetic attempts to justify evil. I go into this in great detail, but I would direct you to Catherine Belzung and Guy Griebel’s, Measuring normal and pathological anxiety-like behaviour in mice: a review, Behavioural Brain Research Volume 125, Issues 1–2, 8 November 2001, Pages 141–149.

        The great majority of attacks either fail partially or completely, but experts orientated to studying brain functions and perennial anxieties have recorded that this repeated exposure to predatory stimuli produces severe cognitive changes in prey animals analogous to those seen in human patients with acute stress disorders (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). What is true then of the natural world is not as Paley and his theologically-minded cohorts and accomplices were wont to believe, happy animals blissfully going about their business unconcerned by a thousand eyes and claws and covetous mouths directed down on them, but rather great assemblies of frantic organisms beset with a sickening pathological anxiety forever working against any possibility of enjoyment, even in those brief times of plenty.

        If you want to go even further into the realities of animal suffering, I would point you to “The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering.”

        http://foundational-research.org/publications/importance-of-wild-animal-suffering/

        Fourth: you said “suffering which requires complexity of life.” And this has been realised, correct? You have confirmed the thesis here. We are in a complexity machine, and it is producing contingent things with greater and greater capacity to suffer. That is an observed fact.

        Now, who’s to say we are not the first strain in something that will continue to blossom over trillions of years? Who’s to say we’re the only strain? Neither you nor I can claim to know anything about the rest of the universe, or our position in the Creator’s game. We can only faithfully study and report on that before us, and that which is presented clearly confirms the thesis.

        Fifth: You keep ignoring the very real possibility that the unfathomable, absurd scale of the universe (and the earth forever positioned dead centre inside it) might be nothing but a perverted joke. Is not this thing that has so conspicuously conspired to commission thinking life little more than an obscene, yet deeply personal, private joke… a perilous vagary designed to thoroughly mistreat and abuse in every possible way the very instrument it was instructed to craft: the curious, explorative mind?

        How else can you explain the mind haemorrhaging enormity of it all? Isn’t this exactly what a maximally wicked mind would envisage? Isn’t the scale of the universe the humiliation to end all humiliations?

        You see Eric, you want to talk about quantity of suffering, which is fine, that is important under the right context, but you must also consider the quality of the pain. That quality is only increasing as life grows more and more complex.

        Even in a suffering human’s life, MOST of life is devoid of suffering from a temporal and population standpoint.

        That’s an absurd statement, but I would certainly challenge you to try and prove this with demonstrable facts. I would caution you, though… I have explored this subject to its finest detail, and already know you are wrong. As a species, we have done nothing but tumble forward into ever greater fields of more intimate, refined, complicated expressions of suffering.

        Now, you are free to read the whole treatise, and I’d welcome an honest, intelligible rebuttal. More than anyone else so far, you’re certainly capable of it. I’m not claiming the thesis is not falsifiable, but to-date, you have not even put a scratch on it.

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      • John, I am still interested to understand how an atheist like yourself has come to believe in a creator? This would seem to be incompatible.

        Like

      • “It will all shift in time, challenging life to adapt, to grow, to experiment, to self-embellish, and to become more complex”

        As it did on Mars? You lush and diverse Mars.

        “Not necessarily true. See Integrated Information Theory.”

        Sorry, John, inanimate objects do not feel pain. Suffering requires registering and enduring pain. Death is not suffering.

        “Now, I have already demonstrated to you how plants can suffer in complex ways.”

        You have demonstrated nothing of the sort. Reaction to stimuli is not suffering. When my iris contracts in response to bright light to protect my eye, it is not suffering nor am I.

        “Neither you nor I can claim to know anything about the rest of the universe, or our position in the Creator’s game.”

        Or by extension the creator’s motivations. Why! because you are only observing a very tiny sliver and transient of its creation.

        I have shown you to be completely and totally wrong in your “theory”. I am sorry but you don’t really believe your theory anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Eric

        ”As it did on Mars? You lush and diverse Mars.”

        Erosion didn’t ruin Mars. The mass of the planet wasn’t great enough to maintain a viable atmosphere.

        But again, as the Creator doesn’t interfere, experimentation is a fundamental aspect of this creation. Some experiments succeed, others don’t. One must assume there is a certain thrill for the Creator in both outcomes, although success must be the sweetest result as that serves to embellish and enrich the general landscape of what is possible. A ship, after all, must be floated and launched before it can be drowned and sunk.

        Sorry, John, inanimate objects do not feel pain.

        Pain, no, not as we understand it, but suffering is far, far, far more than physical pain. Nociception, to which you are referring, is the registration, transmission and processing of harmful stimuli by the nervous system. Suffering, however, includes any negative emotional state which derives from adverse physical, physiological and psychological circumstances in respect to the things life experience*

        If we consider Professor Bekoff’s proposed declaration on animal sentience (having the capacity of subjective experience) then not only do protozoa suffer, but according to IIT (which argues anything with even a modicum of information subjectively experiences its environment) then suffering is expanded to the entire universe.

        This, of course, is just one possibility… one that introduces fantastic and exotic levels of anguish that we, understandably, find it next to impossible to empathise with. I can appreciate that. If you, however, want to argue along the lines of pure biology, then you must consider the possibility that we might in fact be the first strain in this Game, a Game that will unfold over trillions of years, and to-date this Game is performing precisely as the thesis predicts. Hydrogen fuses to the heavier and more complex helium, single compounds bind to make double compounds, simple molecules marry to create amino acids, amino acids come together to form self-replicating systems where, according to the accepted basic paradigm of evolutionary biology, there is a continuum from simple to more complex organisms. This Game witnessed eukaryotes before prokaryotes, primitive action potentials before antique nerve nets, bilateral nervous systems before central nervous systems, talons and incisors before arrow tips and hydrogen bombs, hunter-gatherers before teachers and engineers, barter systems before derivative trading.

        Is this, or is this not, a faithful pattern?

        Now, is there one Game (in which case the obnoxious scale of this universe must be considered a perverted joke), or trillions upon trillions running simultaneously? We can only speculate, but in the end we can truly only score that which we directly experience, and that experience supports the thesis.

        Death is not suffering.

        Dying is, but I’m not sure I get your point here. Death is essential. Without it there would be no background anxiety, no fear, no anguish, no emergency to life. Organisms struggle to maintain, and this struggle (this fear and repulsion of oblivion) is universal. Death, after all, entered Creation some 500 million years after the beginning. With the age of stars, helium, as I explained earlier, suffered the first death, and it has been with Creation ever since.

        Reaction to stimuli is not suffering.

        It most certainly is. Why do you recoil from flame? You don’t even need to feel the flame to be terrified of it. Ask the torturer, the threat of being burned is enough to spark panic. In plants, though, the PR1, PR2, PR5 gene expression is not reactionary, it’s anticipatory. This is what has stunned researchers. We have long known plants suffer in the form of chemical panic, their action potentials transmit electrical signals along the plasmodesmata, but we did not know they lived in fear of suffering.

        ”Or by extension the creator’s motivations. Why! because you are only observing a very tiny sliver and transient of its creation.”

        Again, you don’t seem to understand the fundamentals of teleology. We can indeed know the Creators motivations by looking at the predominate tendency of His design. That tendency (the pattern) is towards greater complexity, and complexity father’s ever-greater expressions of how suffering can be experienced and delivered. The purpose of this challenge was for you, or anyone, to present genuine, permanent, and unambiguous examples of this not being the predominant, overarching tendency. Your single example of erosion is neither genuine, permanent, or unambiguous. Erosion is a mechanism in a larger scheme. In many ways it works towards greater complexity, but even more tellingly, in the end there are larger forces affecting the earth, so it is not permanent, merely a mechanism that serves a myriad of purposes in the greater contrivance.

        I have shown you to be completely and totally wrong in your “theory”.

        Really? Have you demonstrated any genuine, permanent, and unambiguous trends toward less complexity over time? Have you demonstrate nature favouring adaptations that promote good will and kinship through simplicity, or have we seen it heaping on rewards to those organisms that develop more devious weapons, cleverer poisons, and massive and prohibitively expensive brains capable of envisioning discrete parcels of manufactured destruction that can be thrown anonymously over horizons? Is the frantic field mouse exposed to more or less suffering than a jellyfish? Is the emergency of survival becoming less or more pronounced with greater cognitive power? Are the ways and means suffering can be delivered and experienced increasing or decreasing over time?

        *See Morton DB and Hau J (2002) Welfare assessment and humane endpoints, in Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science: Essential principles and practices, Vol I, 2nd Edition, Hau J and Van Hoosier GL (Editors) (Seattle, WA: CRC Press), Chapter 18, pp457–86.

        Like

      • “It would, yes, I agree. Are you a religious person, Eric?

        You need to be more specific here. How do you define “religious”?

        Like

  31. The last few days I’ve been reading about the teleological argument, why some believe it, and why others do not.

    The formation of the argument starts a long time ago, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, born about 500 BC, Plato and Aristotle, 384 – 322 BC. There are many philosophers opining and detracting right up to modern times.

    The teleological argument, also known as the argument from design, or intelligent design argument is an argument for the existence of God or, more generally, for an intelligent creator “based on perceived evidence of deliberate design in the natural or physical world”.

    The teleological argument, and those who believe differently, goes a long way back. The detractors criticize the idea of the teleological argument because they feel the world is not designed by a loving God because within nature there are cruelty and crimes that are unpunished. There is natural evil and human evil.

    For many scholars, the answer to the question of the Teleological Argument comes down to probability. Which is more probable, God as a designer or the universe as ‘accidental brute fact’?

    Even Hume, with all of his criticisms, accepts that the the teleological argument is more probable that the universe was designed and that therefore there was a designer. However, he argues that there is no proof that the designer is God. It may point to the existence of a conscious designing intelligence, but this is not necessarily the God of Classical Theism.

    According to J.S. Mill, the existence of evil challenges the success of the argument from Design. The existence of evil in the world suggests that the designer of the universe has limited power, knowledge or love and therefore cannot be the God of Classical Theism. Process Theologians, however, have argued that God suffers alongside us, and the existence of evil does not challenge the existence of a loving, powerful God.

    Peter Vardy states that the teleological argument will never be conclusive as it rests on probability and individual judgment. For example: there is no scientific explanation for why life should strive for greater and greater complexity and intelligence. This allows believers to use a Creator God to explain how the matter in the universe is being directed towards a goal or purpose. However there is no proof that this is in fact the case.

    Clearly, the conclusion you arrive at relies upon your personal conviction. If the accumulated evidence of the teleological argument is compelling enough, you may leap to the conclusion that God is the designer of the universe. For a theist, the apparent order and purpose of the universe increases the probability that God exists and provides support for his/her beliefs. An atheist, on the other hand, may believe that the argument is inconclusive.

    According to Paul Davies, it comes down to how you interpret the facts that science gives you. It is the role of science to explain how the universe got here and the role of religion to explain why. If you apply Ockham’s Razor, the simplest explanation for apparent design and purpose in the universe is most likely to be true. The simplest explanation for a theist will be God as the designer.

    But what is the simplest explanation for you, accident and coincidence, or design by a designer? Was our DNA blueprint written or did the complex code of all life write itself? Since there is no concrete tangible proof we can see it is left up the the individual to decide. Those like me are certain, our faith has been confirmed through blessings we’ve received and answered prayer.

    “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.” Psalms 14:2

    “If .. you shall seek the LORD your God, you shall find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

    Cosmologists have long known that if the universe’s laws were even slightly different, it would not have been possible to form molecules, let alone life. For example, the nuclear strong force has a value of .007. Were it .006, the universe would be entirely hydrogen, and were it .008 the universe would have no hydrogen at all.

    Is it all accidental that everything is PERFECT to sustain life on our planet. The surface of the earth at the equator moves at a speed of 460 meters per second–or roughly 1,000 miles per hour. The Earth travels around the Sun at 67,000 miles per hour. Our Solar system whirls around the center of our galaxy at some 220 kilometers per second, or 490,000 miles per hour.

    The galaxies in our neighborhood are also rushing at a speed of nearly 1,000 kilometers per second towards a structure called the Great Attractor, a region of space roughly 150 million light-years (one light year is about six trillion miles) away from us. This Great Attractor, having a mass 100 quadrillion times greater than our sun and span of 500 million light-years, is made of both the visible matter that we can see along with the so-called dark matter that we cannot see. If you think a grain of sand is small, compare that to us and the vastness of the Universe. We are moving at over at 1 million miles per hour.

    Like

    • Leroy, you write

      For many scholars, the answer to the question of the Teleological Argument comes down to probability. Which is more probable, God as a designer or the universe as ‘accidental brute fact’?

      which I don’t think is the real position of the matter. It isn’t a question of probabilities but rather whether we are justified to making such a claim in the first place. The argument tries to argue from effects to causes. There is nothing analogous to the universe that we know and as such any inference made about its origins are only conjectures.

      You continue to write

      Even Hume, with all of his criticisms, accepts that the the teleological argument is more probable that the universe was designed and that therefore there was a designer.

      citation please.

      This

      For a theist, the apparent order and purpose of the universe increases the probability that God exists and provides support for his/her beliefs. An atheist, on the other hand, may believe that the argument is inconclusive.

      is not true as we are all ignorant of the origins.

      When you write

      Cosmologists have long known that if the universe’s laws were even slightly different, it would not have been possible to form molecules, let alone life. For example, the nuclear strong force has a value of .007. Were it .006, the universe would be entirely hydrogen, and were it .008 the universe would have no hydrogen at all.

      I am tempted to believe you have said bye to reason completely and are wandering without a rudder. The cosmologists and anyone else all have no experience of any other universe. What they are doing is speculation and if their argument is to hold, they should consider all the features of the universe to arrive at such an extravagant conclusion.

      Like

      • Hello Mak,

        Everything in life is about probabilities. MIT teaches a course in probability. Nowadays, there is broad consensus that the ability to think probabilistically is a fundamental component of scientific literacy.

        During the last several decades a number of prestigious scientists have attempted to calculate the mathematical probability of the random-chance origin of life. The results of their calculations reveal the enormity of the dilemma faced by evolutionists.

        In the 1970’s British astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle set out to calculate the mathematical probability of the spontaneous origin of life from a primordial soup environment. Applying the laws of chemistry, mathematical probability and thermodynamics, he calculated the odds of the spontaneous generation of the simplest known free-living life form on earth – a bacterium.

        Hoyle and his associates knew that the smallest conceivable free-living life form needed at least 2,000 independent functional proteins in order to accomplish cellular metabolism and reproduction. Starting with the hypothetical primordial soup he calculated the probability of the spontaneous generation of just the proteins of a single amoebae. He determined that the probability of such an event is one chance in ten to the 40 thousandth power, 1 in 10 to the 40,000th. Prior to this project, Hoyle was a believer in the spontaneous generation of life. This project, however, changed his opinion 180 degrees. Hoyle stated: “The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40 thousand naughts [zeros] after it. It is enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.” Hoyle also concluded that the probability of the spontaneous generation of a single bacteria, “is about the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard could assemble a 747 from the contents therein.”

        ***

        You request citation on Hume…

        From plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/

        “It is not uncommon for humans to find themselves with the intuition that random, unplanned, unexplained accident just couldn’t produce the order, beauty, elegance, and seeming purpose that we experience in the natural world around us. As Hume’s interlocutor Cleanthes put it, we seem to see “the image of mind reflected on us from innumerable objects” in nature. (Hume 1779 [1998], 35). And many people find themselves convinced that no explanation for that mind-resonance which fails to acknowledge a causal role for intelligence, intent and purpose in nature can be seriously plausible.”

        So I might have inferred something Hume said that he really didn’t but as he states, (we seem to see “the image of mind reflected on us from innumerable objects in nature). We seem to see it but there is no proof.

        ***

        Your last objection relates to Strong Force. It is a real thing, and if it were just off by .001 then we wouldn’t be here. Get some education if you want to…

        aether.lbl.gov/elements/stellar/strong/strong.html
        hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/funfor.html
        britannica.com/science/strong-force
        home.fnal.gov/~cheung/rtes/RTESWeb/LQCD_site/pages/strongforce.htm

        Liked by 1 person

      • Again you miss something. You need a lot of education yourself. How does one assign the initial values in their calculations? Aren’t they arbitrary? What sort of sense experience or possible sense experience do they draw their knowledge? Do you realize that whatever the probability is, life is? Calculations can show how impossible it is for it to form, but it did and we don’t know how. Admitting our ignorance doesn’t give your god a chance.
        Ah so this is from dialogue on natural religion. I think in this dialogue, it is Philo who speaks for Hume. And even you realize you were making Hume say what he didn’t.
        So in essence, your argument about the strong force is you have finally discovered the one thing, without which life can’t exist! You Roy are a genius. Now let’s go back and create other life forms with a weaker force may 1% weaker than the strong force

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      • Just a couple of points here, Roy.

        Hoyle was an astronomer, not a biologist, so not exactly the first person you’d turn to as an authority on this matter. Secondly, the 1970’s. Seriously? Astonishing advancements have occurred since then. We have, for instance, captured complex amino acids in the tail of a comet, proving these building blocks of all life are found naturally in space.

        And for your information: in 2009, Dr. Gerald Joyce of the Scripps Research Institute and his graduate student, Tracey Lincoln, pretty much nailed primitive ‘life’ – a progenitor of life if you like – when they developed a molecule composed of nothing but RNA enzymes in a test tube that replicated and evolved, swapping genes for just as long as the conditions were right to do so. Doing what molecules do it Xeroxed itself by using its own basic structure as a scaffolding from which to build new copies from pairs of smaller molecules. Incredibly, when incorrect copies were made mutations arose and the molecule quite happily passed on those changes to the proceeding generation, and so it slowly evolved.

        Also in 2009 John Sutherland of the University of Manchester went even further when he successfully cooked up two of the four ribonucleotides found in both RNA and DNA molecules and by doing so created the first stirrings of life on earth. Unlike other researchers before him, Sutherland and his team did not jump right into sugars and nucleobases rather they started first with a host of simpler molecules most likely around in earth’s primordial goo. They diluted the molecules in water, heated the solution, and then allowed it to evaporate so as to replicate sequential changes in conditions which was then irradiated with ultraviolet light; a process which left behind hybrid half-sugar, half-nucleobase molecules. To this residue they again added water, heated it, allowed it evaporate, irradiated it, and repeated the process over and over. Remarkably, with each passing phase the molecules became more and more complex and when phosphates were added in the very last stage Sutherland found himself staring at two ribonucleotides; half a naturally built RNA molecule.

        Even more recently and perhaps even more remarkably researchers led by Phil Holliger at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge announced in early months of 2012 they’d successfully made the first synthetic RNA and DNA molecules which they called, XNA: xeno-nucleic acids. They achieved this mind-jarringly colossal leap in constructing artificial life by building synthetic versions of RNA and DNA’s nucleobase ladder rungs. By synthesizing enzymes (what they’ve called, polymerases) they could then bind the XNA molecules to DNA or reverse the process back to a single RNA strand; passing genetic information between the natural and synthetic molecules at will, leading MRC scientist, Victor Pinheiro, to observe “Thus heredity and evolution, two hallmarks of life, are not limited to DNA and RNA.”

        So you see Roy, life emerging is nowhere near as special as you think. In fact, it might be a process happening quite regularly right here on earth, but these primitive expressions fail to get a foothold and last only minutes, hours, days, or weeks. How many genesis’s have there been? We simply don’t know. What we do know is it doesn’t appear to be all that complicated, and when it gets a foothold it leaps quite naturally to multicellular activity… a process witnessed on earth on no less than 24 separate occasions.

        We look for the Creator but there are no supernatural stains to be found, and this is for a clear and distinct reason: our Creator does not seek to be known. He has purposefully painted His Creation in impenetrable naturalism, and because it is, there is nothing to blame, nothing to indict, nothing to accuse of injustice, and therefore nothing to rebel against.

        This is part of the Creator’s frighteningly ingenious design.

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      • My point is your argument against the Teleological Argument is nothing new. You bring nothing new to the debate. All your material is rehashed and from people who have already made the same point.

        The only difference really in them and you is you seem to have been hurt; “perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator, powerful being whose arousal and stimulatory needs are satisfied best by the suffering”

        Like I said before, Clearly, the conclusion you arrive at relies upon your personal conviction. If the accumulated evidence of the teleological argument is compelling enough, you may leap to the conclusion that God is the designer of the universe. For a theist, the apparent order and purpose of the universe increases the probability that God exists and provides support for his/her beliefs. An atheist, on the other hand, may believe that the argument is inconclusive. Those like me are certain, our faith has been confirmed through blessings we’ve received and answered prayer.

        Like

      • Hi Roy

        ”My point is your argument against the Teleological Argument is nothing new.”

        Who’s arguing against it? The presence of an overmind is clear and present. Vagaries as to the identity of that overmind however exist, as He, the Creator, the Designer, has so clearly chosen to remain anonymous.

        ”Clearly, the conclusion you arrive at relies upon your personal conviction.”

        Since when are observations of the natural world “opinions”? Does it require a personal conviction to understand/accept gravity? Is there an opinion anywhere in Edwin Hubble’s calculations of receding galaxies and conclusion the universe is expanding?

        Yes or No, Roy: does or does not Creation function as a colossal complexity machine?

        Yes or No, Roy: does or does not complexity father a forever broadening and deepening in the ways and means suffering can be experienced and delivered?

        If the predominant and natural course of Creation is toward the generation of greater expressions of suffering, then what does this reveal about the disposition of the Creator?

        Like

  32. John Zande

    Your question: Yes or No, Roy: does or does not complexity father a forever broadening and deepening in the ways and means suffering can be experienced and delivered?

    Is quite interesting… clearly, “pleasure” and “suffering” are not the output of this dynamic Omnimalevolent circuit, so in many respects these terms are meaningless (as they are not the output of the circuit, merely the driver)… the output is “complexity”… but what is interesting here…is that if complexity is evermore increasing…the complexity information game the Omnimalevolent Creator is playing is still deterministic, i.e. complexity will follow a saddle-point along the complexity curve; here I mean, at one time “pleasure” will be maximum and “suffering” will be minimum…and at another time “suffering” will be a maximum and “pleasure” will be a minimum… the complexity game no matter how complex it becomes will always follow this deterministic rule….if this is the case then it follows that the physical laws that govern the universe must evolve in becoming simpler as complexity increases…

    So the answer paradoxically, is both yes AND no…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Philip

      Here pleasure is not the opposite of suffering, as we’d generally hold it to be in our world, with our definitions. We are looking at this always from the perspective of the Creator, and in this equation, suffering (of contingent things) equals (His) pleasure.

      Interestingly enough, I did write an equation for this.

      Together with a chemist friend of mine, Steve Ruis, we messed around with this, but eventually decided against presenting it. Essentially, though, the equation is suffering = pleasure x (or squared) surprise, where surprise if the pleasure-amplifier. The Creator, of course, does not interfere in the operations of this world. Self-evidently, He stitched Creation along a few basic rules, and then let it run, watching it unravel in entirely unpredictable (and therefore thrilling) ways. An earthquake, therefore, is as much as a surprise to the Creator as it is to the organisms caught up in it. This amplifies His pleasure. The problem in writing the equation was that there was another variable, another amplifying factor which I wanted to include, anticipation, but we couldn’t get that neatly in.

      In the thesis I speculate that to amplify His pleasure the Creator self-harms and degrades Himself, suspending His omniscience for the duration the game, for if He didn’t He could not possibly find any pleasure in any event, regardless of how ghastly. No enjoyment can be extracted from any single event, an earthquake or a war for example, if one already knows with perfect clarity the totality of that event: the affairs leading up to it, the time of its happening, the actors, their emotions, and the sum total of effects that ripple out and away as the occasion recedes into a history that is, for the omniscient being, inseparable from both the present and the future. This fact appears to leave just one possibility: the Creator must self-harm.

      Here’s a little extract from that section explaining this act of wild sadomasochism:

      By denying Himself information—by purposefully starving Himself of foreknowledge—the Omnimalevolent Creator has made it so most, if not all future events are a mystery, and by doing so He maximises His debased harvest by riding a wave of mounting anticipation which surely must add unimaginable value to His vast and forever expanding, forever diversifying portfolio.

      It is a stroke of compounding brilliance.

      Mystery, the Impartial Observer sees, is the aggravating property in the pleasure-taking, pleasure-maximising equation—a cost-free injection of pure adrenalin into the heart of Creation. Surprise magnifies and exaggerates the core pleasure derived from calamities large and small, each and every little war, plague, earthquake and miserable life twist now a delightful, thrilling, unexpected windfall to be feasted upon at the banquette table of the maximally wicked Creator.

      Like

  33. Hi John…. that is an interesting equation: suffering =[ pleasure^2]*(surprise )

    … I am going to have a look at it during the weekend… it needs an invariance principle (this is why I am squaring the term, but this is how one would be able to link in “anticipation”.)

    I would say off the bat that the “surprise” variable is a quantified variable and “anticipation” is a qualitative variable.

    I get the impression that the essence of the Creator in your thesis: His Fear That He Does Not Exist.

    However, I would say that the thesis is missing another law in its formulation, you need a formula that describes what the Creator derived from the sufferring…off the top of my head… it would require three variables, “attention” being one, “stimulus” another… and “relief” the last…essentially, this is self-harm…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Philp

      Brilliant! I would certainly welcome any efforts to refine the equation. Presently, I’m working on a second installment which looks more carefully at the Problem of Good, and there is a spot in there for the presentation of this basic formulation. If you like, you can always contact me via email: johnzande@gmail.com

      you need a formula that describes what the Creator derived from the sufferring

      Do you think we can “know” this? In the thesis i use the word “nutrition” in places, but I’ve since withdrawn a little from this articulation, favouring more “stimulation,” and “entertainment.”

      “Relief,” however, opens a wonderful idea! Well done, that’s really very, very good. That would, however, bring us back to the idea of nutrition, so I’d have to work through my anxiety of having a maximally powerful being somehow being subject to external forces. You see the problem? This is why I saw the only way for this being to effect his existence (to participate in a meaningful way) was to degrade himself by suspending some of his talents…. which of course would be a thoroughly wicked thing to do, and therefore natural for such a debased entity. That said, you’ve just made my brain do little somersaults in excitement with the idea of “relief.” That’s something to work on.

      Like

      • One (underdeveloped) idea to consider is that even though He is Maximally Powerful, that very power (the three omnis) means that He is effectively insane. So, one can assume like Benjamin Craig at Rants Within The Unknown God that creation is the result of the decay, the thrashing about, of this insane entity.

        I like the idea of relief as well. TOOAIN creates in a paroxysm of pain because His own being is unsustainable logically.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Now this is getting interesting. I’ve proposed that TOOAIN suspends his omniscience for the duration of the Game, but this idea of agony/madness/relief opens up an entirely new field. Here he wouldn’t be thoroughly indifferent and hopelessly pragmatic, as I’ve suggested, rather truly, utter, mercilessly malicious. The only possible problem i can see is this: if his sole purpose was to gain some sort momentary relief from his suffering/madness, then he would have (as Eric argued above) structured the universe quite differently. Solar systems would be more plentiful, life would be everywhere, and probably no evolution as we have experienced it. For 3 billion years the earth was inhabited by the simplest of organisms before the great leap to complexity happened. I’d imagine that would be intolerable to an insane TOOAIN. Patience wouldn’t be high on his list of attributes. Of course, being a thoroughly debased being, he could take active pleasure in his own suffering, in which case we’ve entered another level altogether… even more complex than his self-harming by suspending his omniscience.

        What do you think?

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  34. Hi John Zande

    Looking more closely at the formulation of the model it has become apparent that the model is “phenomenalist”.

    Highlighted, so far is the relationship between material-thing language, i.e. complexity and sense-datum language, i.e. suffering, pleasure, anticipation, surprise.

    Are you saying that material-thing language (complexity) can be translated into infinitely long sense-datum language?

    I will email the results… so far, if complexity operates in a closed system, then an equilibrium state will arise… if complexity operates in an open system, then the “habitual” path will bifurcate at what you call “crisis” points…

    However, these results only occur if the sense-datum language is finite not infinite…

    Like

    • Hi Philp

      Are you saying that material-thing language (complexity) can be translated into infinitely long sense-datum language?

      Not sure if I completely follow you here, Philip, but if I’m reading you correctly, then yes, and this Game (one of perhaps trillions running simultaneously) is not infinite. It has a beginning (using traditional theistic arguments, such as the rules of causality and necessity), and it will have an end in some shape or another. Here the tendency to equilibrium (to inactivity) is obviated by naturally self-complicating mechanisms (principally being crisis and habitualisation) that influence all systems: celestial, biological, and cultural. These forces (impulses) which toss and churn Creation will not, however, work forever. Eventually all the hydrogen that ever existed will be spent and the age of stars (free energy) will cease. So, excluding such aberrations as mass extinction events, the equation will be generally faithful up until a point, trillions of years in the future, at which time the Game will slide into a permanent (deathly cold) paralysis.

      That, at least, is the conclusion we draw from current cosmology. Other outcomes can be speculated on.

      Like

  35. Reblogged this on Mass Delusions a.k.a. Magical & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking and commented:
    In this blog post John Zande focuses a hard nut to crack for all theists.

    In a way it all boils down to the biblical view that everything that happens in our universe is determined by the Creator of this universe, and therefore a part of His creation plan.

    This must lead to the conclusion that this same Creator, of course, have forseen all atrocities that has taken place around the world/universe from the start of this creation process.

    Or, in the words of the Holy Scripture: Psalm 139:16 (the New International Version, NIV):

    “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

    Can it be expressed in a more distinct and evident than in that Bible verse? (I would call that a rhetorical question.

    And now I quote directly from John Zande’s scholarly blog post (that is the I’m now going to reblog):

    God, by definition, is maximally competent, and to propose anything less is simply preposterous.

    God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations.

    What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God.

    We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken.

    [Instead w]e must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator.

    So what have theists to say in defence of their God/Creator? Do they worship a benevolent and loving divine entity or a malevolent and evil one?

    John Zande has, so far, received more than 260 comments to his post. But still no real answer to that question posed i the paragraph above this one. How come? Can’t those believing in the Abrahamic God distinguish between benevolence and malevolence?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hi John Zande

    I have not forgotten you… I have completed an interesting computer model concerning your thesis (I have been working on it off and on)…I am just running it… I should most likely email you some results/summary before Christmas… at first glance they appear interesting….

    Your thesis has been quite interesting to look at…. and I believe BBCNEWSAB’s question:

    “So what have theists to say in defence of their God/Creator? Do they worship a benevolent and loving divine entity or a malevolent and evil one? ”

    Has in fact a very scientifically paradoxical answer…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m seriously looking forward to it, Philip. If the equation pans-out as it appears to do quite convincingly (and predictably) in written form then the evil god theology is, as Stephen Law tweeted back in June, “developing.”

      Like

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