Sketches on Atheism

Why? A Challenge to All Believers

It is a question that should possess every believer in an all-powerful creator spirit. It is a question that should haunt their every waking hour and occupy their every thought. It is a question they should obsess over, maddened by its dazzling conspicuousness, and embarrassed beyond all measure that it even exists. It is a question that should consume every believer’s life, tying them up in ferocious knots of disquiet and affording no genuine peace until a definitive answer is found… And yet it is a question few theists ever ask, and even fewer ever attempt a possible, maybe, perhaps, never-quite-certain answer:

Why_Your

If all things (the past, the present, and the future) are contained within a maximally powerful being, the Catalogue of Catalogues who existed in a state of perfection, then why did it consciously create the physical universe? What possible purpose does this machine, this contrivance, serve?

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367 thoughts on “Why? A Challenge to All Believers

      • Not sure if you’ve heard of this before: Philippine Creation Myth

        In the beginning, the great god Kabunian decided that he was lonely. He came up with the idea of shaping a man out of clay that he could bring to life and talk to. He would then be able to put man in charge of the other beings on the Earth every now and then. He decided that he would make the clay man look like himself.

        He took some clay from the Earth, molded it into the shape of a man, and then placed it inside his oven. While he waited for the clay man to solidify, he toured the Earth and amused himself, but alas, Kabunian lost all track of time.

        When he remembered that he had left something in the oven longer than was ought, his first clay man was all burnt already. It was black as coal all over and its hair curled tightly from the heat. Kabunian thought it a grand creation anyway, and therefore breathed life into it. But it was not yet the kind of man he wanted at the start.

        So, Kabunian, decided to give it another try. He placed his second clay man into the oven. But this time, Kabunian became so eager to see what would come out, and he brought the clay man out while it was not yet fully baked. The second clay man was so pale that now we would call it raw, but it was solid enough. Kabunian liked it well, and he then breathed life into it. But, it was still not yet the kind of man he wanted at the start.

        At his third and final try, Kabunian resolved to be careful. He guarded the time while his third clay man baked to perfection. When his clay man was finally drawn from the oven it was a perfect brown, its hair was straight and dark, and there was laughter in its cheeks. Kabunian loved this third clay man, and happily breathed life into it.

        But in the end Kabunian came to love the three Races of Man equally. He began to encourage the three Races to get along – for the truth is they had all come from the same clay, and are therefore brothers.

        source: http://www.bakitwhy.com/articles/ancient-philippine-creation-myth-legend-three-races

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: On the Goodness of the Material World | Truth and Tolerance

  2. Even if we had the ability to communicate it to him, do you think your dog has the capacity to understand the reason we built a school or the Capitol? Does this fact, make him any less prone to worship you?

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      • Indeed, you are correct and so is your metaphor. It seems as if the father/son relationship presented in the bible might be better if it were a owner/dog sort of thing. Such a religion, however, might have a tough time gaining followers, eh? Wouldn’t take into account to ego of the devout.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, actually, if we had the capacity to communicate with him. Certainly. And as the theist (you being a Yahwehist) believes your particular Middle Eastern god can communicate (and has communicated) with us, then it’s only reasonable to assume the reasons why it created this physical contrivance could be understood.

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      • I disagree. We CAN communicate with them but they do not even have the capacity to understand the concept of time, let alone government. Try mathematics.

        You have a real problem with accepting the error of your arguments, you know.

        Why do you attempt to label me? You know nothing about me.

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      • True, I don’t. Are you a Yahwehist?

        And you said, if we had the ability to communicate with him. Please don’t go and shift the goal posts now to suit your needs. The point stands: theists believe their gods can and do communicate with them. Yhwh even writes physical words, twice in the bible.

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      • I can’t say I have ever identified myself as a Yahwehist. Further I certainly do not believe the bible is the unadulterated word of the creator.

        I moved no goal posts. Your dog can not conceive of something as simple as time nor 2+2=4 and you think you could explain a public school system to him? You think you have the capacity to comprehend the motivation of a god that created our universe? Just like your last post. Your hubris is astounding.

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      • Well, do you believe in the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, or not?

        And you most certainly did move the goal posts. You said, quite clearly, if we could communicate. This implies full “communication.”. You then danced back your statement by adding subtext, stating this communication would not include the capacity for abstract thought. That, Troll, is moving the goal posts.

        But to the larger part of your point. The entire foundation of the Abrahamic faiths is the steadfast belief that Yhwh could, and has communicated, without ambiguity. Like I said, he even writes in human words, twice! So, if the creator you are positing is the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, then your metaphor is absurd in the first instance, because the message that is presented is that this particular god can most certainly communicate with humans.

        Now, to the question presented: why do you think Yhwh created this physical contrivance? There is no right or wrong answer, just varying degrees of plausibility.

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  3. “Well, do you believe in the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, or not?”

    I doubt the creator of the universe identifies himself as Middle Eastern. The creator may very well accurately be described as “I am what I will be” or any one if the many variations I have read. I really don’t know nor do I believe does any other human being.

    I did not move any goal posts. My analogy was plain and simply. I am sorry you were incapable of understanding it – perhaps intentionally. Nevertheless, my metaphor stands. In fact, we are likely far lower on the scale than are our dogs to us when compared to the creator. We will never be able to comprehend his motivations.

    “But to the larger part of your point. The entire foundation of the Abrahamic faiths is the steadfast belief that Yhwh could, and has communicated, without ambiguity.”

    Now it is YOU who moves goal posts. Nothing in your post in any way refers to Yhwh.

    “Now, to the question presented: why do you think Yhwh created this physical contrivance?”

    I never said anything about Yhwh. But why should I care. Do our dogs attempt to understand why we build schools. It is simply not our place to know. You could never conceive correctly. I know that idea hurts your ego. Do try to accept it, however.

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    • Well, yes, it is a Middle Eastern god, Yhwh. Temporally speaking, the god of the Pentateuch is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 6th Century BCE failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet. It didn’t materialise independently in mainland Europe, emerge unassisted on the British Isles, or rouse a single word across the entire Far East. It inspired no one in any of the 30,000 islands of the South Pacific, energised nothing across the African continent, stirred naught in North America, and didn’t move anything or anyone in Central or South America. No one across the vast Indian Great Plains or Russian steppes ever heard of it. No Azorean fisherman suddenly spoke of it, no Scandinavian shipwright carved its name in a stone, no Japanese mother ever thought she’d heard it speak in whispered tones, and no Australian aborigine ever dreamed of it. Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

      ”Nevertheless, my metaphor stands.”

      No, your metaphor does not stand. Your metaphor is absurd. Do you ever write notes for your dog? Do you then tell that dog to copy those notes and pass them on to his puppies? Do you expect thousands of generations later the decedents of those puppies to then translate those notes into other languages?

      Now it is YOU who moves goal posts. Nothing in your post in any way refers to Yhwh.

      Merely using Yhwh as an example as I’m assuming you believe in Yhwh. Do you, or don’t you? Is that such a hard question to answer for you? What are you afraid of? Just tell me: Yes, or No?

      “Do try to accept it, however.”

      Um, how does “No” sound? Is no good for you? You see, Troll, you’re purposely ignoring the point here that your god, Yhwh (yes, your god until you tell me otherwise) communicated to humans (so the story goes). Your god, Troll, wants to communicate with humans. Your god, Troll, even writes (physically writes) in human language, using human words. Your god, Troll, even popped down for a sojourn, allegedly, in the guise of a human being who spent three years wondering around talking about all sorts of things, even abstract notions, like heaven.

      So, the question stands. Now, as I said, there’s no right or wrong answer, just variations in plausibility. So, Troll, why do you think your god created this physical contrivance? What purpose does it (this machine) serve?

      Liked by 1 person

      • John, I want to “like” your last comment, but I’ve found the only way I can do that is through the reader. I tried scrolling back to this particular post, but it’s too far back.

        I think under Settings/Discussion, there is a box that gives you the option to include a “like” box on your postings.

        Anyway, I definitely LIKED this last comment of yours.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Awww c’mon, John! If you can use words the way you do and write amazing books, surely you can go into the bowels of WP and make this tiny change! I have confidence in you so go forth and conquer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • If there is no way to “like” a post, then obviously you wouldn’t get an email. So it seems logical that if you check that box, the “like” option will be added. Yes? Guess all you can do it try. ;-).

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      • You are confusing (intentionally, I believe but you might just be dense) the creator and a common belief system that invokes the creator (Middle Eastern Yhwh-centric religions). I have already told you I do not believe that their bible is the unadulterated word of the creator but that does not mean that these religions were originally inspired by the true creator of the universe. I have no way of knowing.

        But my metaphor applies to the creator and our relationship with it as does your post. It has nothing to do with Middle Eastern religions much as you wish to move your goal posts to make it about them. My metaphor stands – your post says nothing about Yhwh or writings or middle eastern mythologies. So sorry. Do try to keep it together.

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      • Troll, your metaphor does not stand… although you are living up to your Avatar’s namesake.

        Let’s just forget that you first said “if we had the ability to communicate it to him.” This (the “if”) implies a level of communication above and beyond that which we already enjoy with our dogs. Like a typical apologist, you then moved the goal posts. But like I said, let’s ignore your shiftiness here. Your metaphor is absurd in the first instance because, as I asked you, do you write notes to your dog? Do you dictate ideas to him? Do you then urge him to write these ideas and apparent truths down? Do you then encourage your dog to pass those words onto future generations, demanding he even translate those ideas and truths in other languages hundreds of generations down the line?

        Let me answer that for you. No, you do not. Hence, the absurdity of your (fluidly defined) metaphor is revealed.

        Now, let me get this straight. By your convoluted, bashful explanation, I’m guessing you are a deist who simultaneously believes Yhwh, Ahura-Mazda, Olódùmarè, and every other creator spirit is, in fact, one being. Fine. If you believe that, Troll, then you also believe Yhwh, Ahura-Mazda, Olódùmarè, and every other creator spirit has communicated with humans, in words and concepts which humans understand. If they didn’t, Troll, we wouldn’t have doctrinal, scripture-based religions, would we? So, you see, Troll, the only point you’re actually making here is that you are, in fact, a Troll… and a boring one at that.

        Now, if you, however, don’t believe the creator (the creator you believe in) has ever communicated with humans, and the bible, for example, is utter nonsense from beginning to end, then say so…. Say so, so we know where you’re coming from.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Now, let me get this straight. By your convoluted, bashful explanation, I’m guessing you are a deist who simultaneously believes Yhwh, Ahura-Mazda, Olódùmarè, and every other creator spirit is, in fact, one being.”

        Please stop trying to tell me what I believe. What I believe has nothing to do with the serious flaws in your posts. You know, the idea that you have the ability to understand the motivations of the creator or the universe. You don’t, period.

        “Fine. If you believe that, Troll, then you also believe Yhwh, Ahura-Mazda, Olódùmarè, and every other creator spirit has communicated with humans, in words and concepts which humans understand.”

        Do we or do we not communicate with dogs in words and concepts that they understand? Does this mean they understand math, time, or why we build schools? No, of course not.

        “If they didn’t, Troll, we wouldn’t have doctrinal, scripture-based religions, would we?”

        The existence of a creator does not mean that world religions are accurate or correct. Go back to your post (before you moved your goal posts). You asked about the motivations of the creator. You said nothing about the accuracy of world religions. My answer to your post (which you are too intentionally obtuse to get) is you can’t understand the motivations of the creator. Plain and simple.

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      • “Please stop trying to tell me what I believe.”

        I would if you just told me what you actually believe, rather than making me guess. So, do you, yes or no, believe in the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh? Do you, yes or no, believe the bible is truthful, or pure nonsense?

        “What I believe has nothing to do with the serious flaws in your posts.”

        Flaws? What flaws? Is asking believers what they believe flawed? Odd…

        You know, the idea that you have the ability to understand the motivations of the creator or the universe.

        Errrum, am I telling, or asking? Think about that one for a second, Troll.

        “Do we or do we not communicate with dogs in words and concepts that they understand? Does this mean they understand math, time, or why we build schools? No, of course not.”

        And Yhwh giving Noah detailed schematics for the Ark he was to build was what, exactly?

        “My answer to your post (which you are too intentionally obtuse to get) is you can’t understand the motivations of the creator. Plain and simple”

        Great! There’s your particular answer. Most theists, of course, disagree with you, but thank you. That’s all I was asking.

        Bye.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Troll, you wrote: “What I believe has nothing to do with the serious flaws in your posts. You know, the idea that you have the ability to understand the motivations of the creator or the universe. You don’t, period.”

        Are you implying that YOU have the ability to understand?

        Liked by 1 person

      • “So, do you, yes or no, believe in the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh? Do you, yes or no, believe the bible is truthful, or pure nonsense?”

        I have no way of knowing if the creator I believe in is the same creator that inspired Middle Eastern religions. I told you what I thought about the bible. In case you missed it, it is not, IMO, the unadulterated word of god. That does not mean there are no truths in it or it is nonsense. Our challenge is one of discernment.

        “You know, the idea that you have the ability to understand the motivations of the creator or the universe.

        Errrum, am I telling, or asking? Think about that one for a second, Troll.”

        You are asking people to tell you what they think about something they could not possibly understand. The premise of your question is flawed.

        “And Yhwh giving Noah detailed schematics for the Ark he was to build was what, exactly?”

        Which would be the equivalent of us saying “Stay, Spot!”

        “Great! There’s your particular answer. Most theists, of course, disagree with you, but thank you. That’s all I was asking.”

        I disagree. One is taught to blindly trust God, to not test God, and to not question the motivations of God in most religions. There is wide recognition that God is all knowing and we are myopic. We simply do not have the ability to understand the creator’s motivations when it comes to things like “why did he create the universe.”

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      • “We simply do not have the ability to understand the creator’s motivations when it comes to things like “why did he create the universe.””

        I see. And you know this how, precisely?

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      • Unfortunately, we are not like our dogs in one area in that we can discern some of what we can not know. All it takes is for you to step out of you human-centric frame of reference and observe the creator’s work. Abandon your hubris and even you can see your folly.

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      • “Unfortunately, we are not like our dogs in one area in that we can discern some of what we can not know.”

        I see. What, Troll, can we not know, and how do you know this, precisely? Please don’t dodge the question for a third time.

        “All it takes is for you to step out of you human-centric frame of reference and observe the creator’s work.”

        I have. I wrote a book on it. You’re free to purchase it and read it, then critique the thesis, if you like. I, as I’m sure Professor Peter Millican (Oxford) and Dr Stephen Law (University of London), would be thrilled to see if you can present a coherent counterargument. All proceeds go to animal rescue here in Brazil.

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      • Nan, no I am not saying that at all.

        John, I have no need to buy your book (nor any desire). I read your premise in the teaser you sent me. Your book is based on the same flawed basis that this post is – and I told you this in the prior thread.

        A being whose complete frame of reference isrestricted to the current space and time (with perhaps a smattering of the recent past) can never understand the motivations of a being that first is present not just across all space and time but also all dimensions (dimensions we can not observe at all – ones we may not even know exist) and most importantly CREATED that entire universe to begin with. If that is not plainly evident to you, then there is no hope for this discussion to progress further.

        I await your screed on your own intellectual prowess.

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    • How do I know, John? Logic dictates it. Just like we could never have understood quantum mechanics in a pre-Newtonian era. I can not think of a simpler way to say this.

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      • Logic dictates it? You mean like its intuitively obvious that the sun revolves around the earth?

        “Just like we could never have understood quantum mechanics in a pre-Newtonian era”

        Really? And here I was thinking Newtonian models had to be discarded to understand QM.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Logic dictates it? You mean like its intuitively obvious that the sun revolves around the earth?”

        Only you would equate logic with intuition.

        “Really? And here I was thinking Newtonian models had to be discarded to understand QM.”

        Intentionally obtuse yet again.

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      • Interresting conversation, though in the end it was not getting much anywhere. The question as to why a god would create a universe is an unknown, much like it is an unknown why the universe exists. Positing that a god made it does not really answer the question why a universe exists? It only removes the question to why did this god do it and how. If we can then conclude that we do not know answer to either, then the creator god becomes totally unnecessary suggestion.

        It is the same as positing that trolls have stolen my sock. If I claim, this I have yet to answer where did these trolls appear, how did they steal my sock and why, before nobody should take me seriously. It could be that trolls stole my sock, but before I actually have any evidence, that this is true, the suggestion is unnecessary and frankly unlikely. Certainly my socks disappearing does not prove there are trolls out there. Does it?

        Quantum mechanics existed already in the pre-Newtonian times, but nobody was warranted to posit them in them days. Why? Because they did not know about them, or how they work. Same applies to any particular god claims. We may claim a particular god exists, but without any verified observation, nor objective information about them, we are not really warranted a firm belief, that they exist any more than we are warranted firm beliefs about pixies, or trolls to exist. Infact less, because trolls and pixies are less extraordinary suggestions than any sort of gods.

        As to the dog not understanding why a school is built there are several differences to human understanding of the universe. For example: A dog can observe humans building a school, but if it has not observed this much, it is not warranted to believe the school exists because humans build it, wether if they did or not. Is it? In fact the dog should not jump to such conclusions, if it has no information about how the shcool came to be. Right? A dog might jump into a lot of false and potentially harmfull conclusions about humans by such a method of assuming and having faith in any particular human. A dog has the advantage of actually being able to verify, that humans exist. If it has observed humans building the school it still may not fully comprehend why they did it, but it is in a clear advantige to humans assuming a god built the universe, because there simply exists none what so ever evidence, that a god did it, nor that any god exists in the first place. Or is there such evidence?

        Liked by 2 people

  4. From https://en.support.wordpress.com/likes/

    By default, all WordPress.com blogs display the Like button (and the gallery of Gravatars for bragging rights) under each post.

    You can also choose for Likes (and other sharing buttons) to display on your pages, your media files, and/or on the front page, archive pages, and search results of your site. Go to Settings→Sharing in your blog’s Dashboard. Next to Show buttons on, select where you want Likes (and other sharing buttons) to be displayed:

    Note: Choosing “Front Page, Archive Pages, and Search Results” means that the Like button will show on your blog’s front page below each post, rather than only if a reader clicks through to the individual post.

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    • Nan, had to drop the Likes. As an experiment, at least. Since hitting it I haven’t been getting any notifications, and replied comments are taking well over a day to show up in my drop-down thingy. (Or have you been having these problems this week, too?)

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      • That’s strange, John, because no … as far as I can tell, nothing has essentially changed in my notifications.

        Having said that, I will admit that OCCASIONALLY, I’ll get notification of responses before the actual post notification arrives, but that’s the only anomaly I’ve noticed.

        I really hate the idea that you’ve had to remove this feature. 😦 It’s so useful for us readers.

        Like

      • I’ll put it back in, and see what happens. I’m not getting anything, not even this comment from you. I can see it in my email, but not here on that drop down thingy. I hope this is like polio and it get’s better with time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi John Zande… I am just writing up my results… I can only do this on and off… so it is taking longer than I thought… plus, I am trying to make it as clear as possible and as short as possible…

    But, just an interesting point… when you ask:

    “So, the question stands. Now, as I said, there’s no right or wrong answer, just variations in plausibility. So, Troll, why do you think your god created this physical contrivance? What purpose does it (this machine) serve?”

    Your own model gives the answer: “To quest knowledge.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Philp,

      Which model are you talking about? The TOOAIN thesis? I’m not defending that thesis here in this post. This, instead, is a straightforward question to all traditional theists. And there really isn’t any right or wrong answer. There is no trick or hidden agenda. I’m not asking so i can mock an answer.

      To quest knowledge, though, is an interesting suggestion. It fits well with the whole “We are the universe made conscious” idea: the universe trying to understand itself. Not sure if this fits into any traditional theistic models, but the reasoning is most certainly sound, and both emotionally comforting, and intellectually satisfying.

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      • I was referring to the Malevolent Creator thesis of yours John … the model does hinge on the idea of “complexity”… and complexity is one of the consequences of the interaction between the primary variables, “pleasure” and “suffering” in the universe…

        So, as complexity increases in the universe… the Malevolent Creator’s knowledge increases, i.e. knowledge of good and evil get increasingly complex for the Malevolent Creator to view, i.e. his perspicuous view of this good/evil interaction within the universe… perhaps a better word would be “information” instead of “knowledge”… but, essentially they are pretty much equivalent…

        So, for the Malevolent Creator the “purpose” of creating the universe was to watch this growing complexity of suffering in the universe; ergo the purpose of the Malevolent Creators creation is a “quest for suffering”… and “suffering” is a form of “knowledge”, or “information” at its most basic level.

        Therefore, “To quest knowledge” is the bottom line function of the Malevolent Creator’s rationale to create the universe, i.e. that is why the universe exists.

        This is a consequence of your Malevolent Creator thesis.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So, for the Malevolent Creator the “purpose” of creating the universe was to watch this growing complexity of suffering in the universe; ergo the purpose of the Malevolent Creators creation is a “quest for suffering”… and “suffering” is a form of “knowledge”, or “information” at its most basic level.

        Well put, and yes. I think that is a fairly good summary. An emotional response to something, or a fear or anxiety, might be hard to quantify as a package of information, but it is a product of information. So yes, as information increases (as Integration Information Theory holds), the potency of potential suffering increases in-step.

        The TOOAIN thesis explains Creation easily. It’s demonstrable. Have you read the thesis, yet?

        Like

  6. Especially given our relative impact within such a large universe.. I would postulate that given that, and the disparate revelations given amongst just the loose groupings of sentient, “intelligent” life on this planet, that the universe is probably just a giant experiment. We happen to be a faith vs evidence component but I’m unable to conceive what mind-bogglingly vast vault-tec like manipulation must be taking place throughout the universe, assuming there’s a god, which I don’t 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exellent. You have succesfully opened up the often used aplogetic, that a god does what is in the “nature” of this god. In effect, this god has no free will, but follows a preset program of it’s “nature”.

      Then again, perhaps the alledged creator god does not rigidly follow any particular “nature”, as a destiny, has free will, but like any old geezer, simply likes re-runs. Or maybe it is in the preset “nature” of this god to like re-runs, so it actually has no free will on the matter, regardless wether it has a conception of free choise to look at re-runs of the billions of worlds it has created. Most of those are sending rather bleak content, as it would seem, when looking at the planets in our solar system alone.

      How could we possibly know? Exactly like how could we possibly know, if there infact exists a breed of fairies, that steals socks, for reasons as unfathomable to us as our human reasons for building schools are to a dog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Opened up an apologetic? For a non-existent being? Hogwash.
        If the Christian used such an apologetic I would then ask them “Then why pray?” Do you think he would or even could change the course of events for you?
        As far as socks disappearing… I have found one area where they may go… check your pant legs… if they are not there then perhaps another realm?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Repost: On the Goodness of the Material World | Truth and Tolerance

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