Sketches on Atheism

Why there is something rather than nothing.

Adapted from my new book, On the Problem of Good, available through Amazon and Createspace.

Curiosity is a stubborn power.cover_A

In the hands of a sufficiently motivated man, mystery can inspire great epics, or birth equally great madness. In the mind of an uncreated aseitic being it, inferably, spawns worlds; entire universes orientated to seeing behind that hill an aseitic being cannot see behind, and exploring the far side of that ocean an uncreated being could never cross.

An uncreated aseitic being cannot not be.

Alone, and with an eternity bottled in a single timeless moment to contemplate this defect (this incompleteness in what should have been rigorously complete), such an unexpected curiosity could not help but grow into a fat, noisy obsession; a category of madness, but not insanity. Not at first. Not completely. Not something chaotic. Not something uncontrolled. In its infancy, not being able to not be could only be classified as a dangerously alluring seed, the mother of all “Wet Paint” signs, and the irrepressible urge to ‘touch’ the analogous paint is, it appears, not only the reason for why there is something rather than nothing, but why that something is shaped the way it is.

This world was inevitable.

Ultimately, there was no choice.

Unable to die, powerless to be no more, incapable of even experiencing the thrill of the fear of approaching annihilation, it was inevitable that a non-contingent aseitic being (that seminal consciousness: God) would come, eventually, to gather and focus His impossible powers to contrive artificial environments fixed between concepts He, the Creator, could never touch, but could impose on a synthetic scape: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Inside these sealed-off worlds (these self-complicating petri dishes) profoundly ignorant avatars could be cultivated and grown to probe and explore this extraordinary curiosity; evolving surrogates raised like experimental animals, and through whom He, the Creator, could taste the fear He alone could never savour, feel the suffering He alone could never know, and meet every pedigree of oblivion denied to Him by dying vicariously.

Is this no more unreasonable than a man walking to the top of a hill, or traversing a mountain range, or crossing an ocean just to see what was on the other side?

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128 thoughts on “Why there is something rather than nothing.

    • I wish John only understood that hallucinations from old books have more value. I agree that this is a failure in his thesis. If you’ve found a hallucination you already prefer to believe is true, then this book simply isn’t for you.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I agree. And John is an atheist. I think he would agree. His argument is too demonstrate how logical frameworks can be applied to many lines of thinking, even though they have no bearing in reality. It seems the very point of his work is to show that logic and hallucination aren’t necessarily divorced from each other when you base that framework on unverifiable premises.

        Liked by 3 people

    • That’s what it says. You can’t begin to explain the Problem of Good until you first undertsand why Creation (this artificial world) was enacted. Why was this world created? For what purpose was it forged?

      By assessing the 13.82 billion years of cosmic history we have to study and draw conclusions from, it is clear that St. Thomas Aquinas was emphatically, hopelessly wrong. It was not goodness that spilled out into the world, shaping that which had no shape, bonum diffusivum sui, but (from our perspectiver, inside looking out) a spectacular weave of perversion born of a simple but ultimately irresistible compulsion to explore and experience through evolving proxies that single thing an uncreated aseitic being—God—could never alone explore or ever directly experience: death, and all the exotic abstractions associated to it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • John,

        An example of artificial is margarine in place of butter or plastic in place of wood or steel.

        The universe we live in is not a substitute for another.

        We know that because it is obvious.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never said it was a substitute. I said it was “created,” which is precisely what your narrative even says. What is natural is the aseitic being. So, the question you have ask is: why was this world (this petri dish) created?

        As Paley observed in a flash of surprising clarity,

        “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 the design (through the predominant tendency, or output of the contrivance), and one may know the designer. Know the designer, and one may faithfully address the Problem of Good.

        Liked by 4 people

      • I think ol’ SOM is a very clever and lucid person, just a wee bit off the rails, and actually teasing out some good arguments.

        I love these exchanges—a bit like being a survivor from a sunk destroyer bobbing about in a wee rubber raft, at night, watching battleships still slugging it out just beyond the horizon.

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  1. Reminds me of Scott Adams’ (creator of comic strip Dilbert) book, “God’s Debris” where God sees if he can destroy himself.

    I look forward to your book, John. A book which is thought provoking is good exercise indeed. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great observation! Adam’s thoughts are the very seed of this. In TOOAIN I didn’t even raise the question as to why there is something rather than nothing. Adam’s god is aseitic, and nothing exists outside it, hence when it blows itself apart the reassembly of its essence is always fully contained inside that original set. This evolved adaptation recognises that this world is an artificial construct, a contrivance not part of the actual world.

      In total, this is not a huge part of the book, but it is critical.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, and the “why” of “creation”? simple, YHWH created the universe to support the Earth on which he planted a Garden, for which He need a gardener (Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.). We are God’s Mexican.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I had to read it twice. The first time I didn’t know what “aseitic” means but your handy link solved that second time round. It’s hilarious and as clever as all the tricky words and long sentences would have led me to believe! I guess I just need to persevere with your prose, or not have Dinosaur Train running full blast in the background while attempting to process it. I’m almost inspired to buy a copy but feel I have to finish the first one before I do so. Is SOM a major influence? It reminds me of him. Nice that he’s first to comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • VioletWisp,

      Regarding SoM, you’ll learn pretty quickly — like many other fair-minded inquisitive people/commentors who’ve tried — that his primary (only?) function is simply to troll non-Xian blogs and be an incessant cymbal. He has never shown any desire or intention of engaging in any in-depth dialogue about Xianity, nor will he answer any significant, productive questions you may try to ask of him. He merely wants to bash his cymbal. LOL 😉

      There is a concept/passage in John 17:14-15 where the Believer is admonished to “be in the world, but not OF the world.” SoM is neither. He cares only for those “identical” to himself. He’d rather insult and heckle the “real world.” You’ll see that’s what he does best, sadly. :/ I do sincerely hope he’ll change and engage in meaningfull lengthy discussions, but don’t hold your breath. [fingers crossed] 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Complete thoughts (and brevity) require longer sentences 😉 And why does no one know what aseity means? It’s the fundamental theology of Christianity/Judiasm/Islam. The god, God, is an aseitic being. Just think “uncreated.” You don’t, though, need to have finished the first to understand this. It’s stands on a different continent.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait, when are all these divine experiences occurring?
    Cuz if God is completed…
    Hmmm, I guess you could say there is God-time, which is precisely analogous to time-time – so much so that we can make deductions from the analogy – and at once completely different from time-time, as the need may be.
    Ok, God-time.
    There, that was easy.
    Now I can move on to moral arguments.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. ” Inside these sealed-off worlds (these self-complicating petri dishes) profoundly ignorant avatars could be cultivated and grown to probe and explore this extraordinary curiosity; evolving surrogates raised like experimental animals, and through whom He, the Creator, could taste the fear He alone could never savour, feel the suffering He alone could never know, and meet every pedigree of oblivion denied to Him by dying vicariously.”

    Terrific. Brother, reading this gave me a chubby. Finally, I get the “meaning” of it all and the fundamental, inarguable, nature of “God”. I LIKES it! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ruh-roh! It looks like that somewhat less than divine and prolific arbiter of His word, SOM, has blessed this fine blog with an appearance. God help us all!

    Would it be appropriate to see aseity as: 1) the ultimate and unassailable statement of affirmation, or 2) a pathetic attempt to dissuade unanswerable criticism?

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1 and 2 seem to exist simultaneously. I can appreciate the thought behind the idea, but it does raise this problem of not being able to not be, and if you have an entity that is everything, but isn’t, but should be, it creates some problems 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  7. “a dangerously alluring seed, the mother of all “Wet Paint” signs, and the irrepressible urge”

    … not only spot-on, it’s pure poetry. Boom boom!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t know, the aseitic being seems to me a non starter. Its existence appears to have risen from some philosophical necessity to explain why a supposed god exists. And/or why it does the things that have been claimed were done by it/them. (with no real evidence shown) Since these gods have not been proven to exist save in the minds of the believer, what exactly is the point?

    Any and all discussion on the matter, it seems to me, is akin to the dog that chases its tail.

    Or am I missing something?

    Liked by 2 people

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  10. One of the most wonderful features of organized religion is that it defines its own axioms and then use them to proves its unique truth. Thank God there is a word for it that you have put into my consciousness.

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  11. My learned friend, I’m curious and doubtful if your eloquent arguments will have any effect on the majority of people. We are and will always be cognitive misers.

    Also your “problem of good” sounds more like you mean the “problem of evil.” I am convinced that what we call God and what we call the Devil refers to the same entity and “pain” is what drives the evolutionary process established by such entity. But it’s not all pain. Happiness, though transitory is an interruption. Pain is a feeling, nothing more. Death is not painful. Psychology provides very interesting answers to the origin of existence or the notion thereof.

    Maybe I have to read your entire book, but I live in an African jungle, that’s the problem, and my community is technologically impaired.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Poet

      The Problem of Good is the opposite to the Problem of Evil in that it (seemingly) negates the thesis of a maximally wicked Creator, whereas the Problem of Evil negates the thesis of a maximally good Creator.

      Yes, reading the book would help you grasp it all a little better. Send me an email: johnzande@gmail.com

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      • I see. To me, both concepts seem to fade into a null hypothesis – there is no difference. It’s like looking through a telescope, one looks through with two eyes but ends up with same view. Anyway I cannot hasten to conclude until I’ve read the entire book. Thanks for your email address.

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  12. Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?

    Because “a nothing” can never transform into “a something”.

    Does the universe need to really have a cause?

    It is clear that causal explanations are a vital part of the scientific method. Various processes in the universe can be displayed as a succession of states in such a way that the preceding state is a cause of the succeeding one. If we look deeper at such processes, we see that there is always a dynamical law prescribing how one state should generate another state. But dynamical laws are expressed in the form of mathematical equations, and if we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about a cause of the mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the Great Blueprint of Gods thinking of the universe.

    When asking your question John, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes.

    When thinking about science as deciphering the Mind of God, we should not forget that science is also a collective product of human brains, and the human brain is itself the most complex and sophisticated product of the universe. It is in the human brain that the world’s structure has reached its focal point with the ability to reflect upon itself.

    Science is but a collective effort of the Human Mind to read the Mind of God from question marks out of which we and the world around us seem to be made. To place ourselves in this double entanglement is to experience that we are a part of the Great Mystery.

    Another name for this Mystery is the Humble Approach. The true humility does not consist in pretending that we are feeble and insignificant, but in the audacious acknowledgement that we are an essential part of the Greatest Mystery of all of the entanglement of the Human Mind with the Mind of God.

    ***

    To take an academic look at your question let’s list the possible options.

    Why Something?

    There Are Only Six Options Too Choose From

    1) Nothing Created It.
    This fails since out of nothing, nothing comes. An infinite number of temporal events going into the past is a formal absurdity. Going backward, no matter how far you travel in time, you would always have an infinity to go. Going forward, we would never get to the present moment because we would have an infinite amount of time and causes and effects to traverse to get here.

    2) Chance.
    This fails as well since chance has no being, nor power of active creativity. Mere chance is a logical absurdity. It would be like creating a square triangle. It’s impossible. A triangle by definition cannot be square. So creation cannot create itself as it would have to pre-date itself to create. The pre-dated form would then need a sufficient explanatory cause, ad infinitum.

    This option is a slight of hand option that amounts to nothing. The fact is that chance has no being. This option implies that “chance” itself has quantitative causal power. The word “chance” is used to describe possibilities. It  does not have the power to cause those possibilities. It is nonsense to speak of chance being the agent of creation of anything since chance is not an agent.

    3) Illusion.
    If so, where does our illusion come from? I know, it’s dumb times one hundred, but it’s been proposed. Obviously, and completely, self-defeating.

    4) Eternal.
    Infinite time going backwards: impossible. The problem here is that it is either a restating of option #1 (nothing created something) or fails due to the irrationality of #2. In our current universe, the law of cause and effect cannot be denied with any sanity. While we often don’t know what the cause of some effect is, this does not mean that it is causeless. When we go to the doctor looking for an explanation for the cause of our neck pain, we don’t accept the answer “There is no cause. It came from nothing.” When there is a fire, the fire investigator does not come to a point where he says, “Well, we searched and we searched for a cause to this fire. Our conclusion is definite: the fire came from nothing.” In both cases, we would assume that the person who gave such answer is better fit for a straight-jacket than a respected professional of his field.

    5) Self-created.
    This is the idea that the universe and all that is in it did not have its origin in something outside itself, but from within. The universe did come into being, but it came from itself. It is self-created. Here, we may suppose that while we don’t understand how this could happen, advancements in scientific theory will eventually produce an answer. Like with the previous four options, we have created a logical absurdity.

    6) From Transcendence.
    A transcendent being (God) created all that there is out of nothing.

    This is the last option that I know of. Here we recognize the impossibility of the first five. Realizing that the universe must have come into existence a finite time ago, we know that there must be a sufficient cause. Here is how it might look:

    a) Whatever comes into existence has a cause.
    b) The universe came into existence.
    c) Therefore the universe has a cause.

    The question now is what is that cause? It can’t be “chance” or “nothing” as we have shown that they don’t have causal power. As well, it cannot have relation to time, space, or matter in its actual being as that would make it subject to the laws of cause and effect (then we would be infinitely stuck in the trap of “If God created everything, who or what created God?). Therefore, this being is transcendent (above, beyond, without ontological relation to…) to the universe. This causal agency must be “all”-powerful or else the grandeur of the effect would eclipse the grandeur of the cause (then we are back to absurdities). This causal agent must have a will (i.e. be personal) or else there would not have ever been a time when the universe was not created (i.e. it would always be being created—again, an absurdity) since it would not be a willful decision to create, but simply a natural aspect of the transcendent cause.

    This creator had to have created all things ex nihilo (out of nothing). In other words, all of matter could not be eternal since material itself is, by definition, not transcendent and subject to the law of cause and effect. This creator, being transcendent to the laws of our universe in which the saying “out of nothing, nothing comes” applies, must create time, space, and matter out of neither himself or preexisting material. He creates it all out of nothing. He brings all of existence into being by his power. While it is beyond our understanding how transcendence can create immanence, it does not form a logical absurdity.

    In fact, existence itself demands that it is a logical necessity.

    All other options, I believe I have shown, are self-defeating, formally absurd, and irrational. In short, the only logical explanation for existence is that a transcendent, powerful, and personal being (God) created all that there is out of nothing.

    Acknowledgments:

    Richard Webb
    newscientist.com/article/mg23130890-400-metaphysics-special-why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/

    Rev. Robert P. Imbelli
    commonwealmagazine.org/why-there-something-rather-nothing

    The North
    able2know.org/topic/165446-1

    C Michael Patton
    reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/03/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing-the-only-six-options/

    November 11, 2016
    theconversation.com/answering-the-biggest-question-of-all-why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing-65865

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    • Thanks for the essay, Roy.

      Any particular reason why not a single word addressed the content of the post?

      If you notice, the title of the post is not “why is there something…”, rather, “Why there is something…”

      Liked by 1 person

    • You only recognize the list of possibilities as being impossible because of your own presumptions. For each you state that it’s impossible, then go on to propose a reason that is presented as an obvious fact or argument. And all the while I’m thinking, why is he thinking about that so narrowly? I think it’s because you presume that this world we live in was “actively created” by a being. Now it’s possible that a being or beings are responsible, at least in part. But if you go into a line of inquiry with strong presumptions, you’ve predetermined your destination. It seems a great waste of time to me. By the way, it seems to me that you don’t understand how causation is properly regarded and used in science.

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    • Excellent, Ken. Regarding the challenge, did anything pop immediately to mind? I’ve tried to solve it but haven’t found anything I’d be completely confident about. A fresh set of eyes might though see mountains I’m missing.

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  13. “Regarding the challenge, did anything pop immediately to mind?”

    I always like a challenge, but unfortunately in all honesty I couldn’t come up with a single word.

    Leroy couldn’t either so he had to belittle your “new” book by saying it only had 1 review and that people stopped commenting on it, followed by the same old apologetics babble they all use when they don’t want to answer the question at hand.

    I listened to someone on a talk show the other day who said that humans will most likely not be around when our star burns out but a new evolved creature. How fascinating ! Will they look back at us and wonder how we existed as long as we did ? 🙂

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    • Roy (who doesn’t even know what the challenge is) seemed to have forgotten it was only released last Friday, and it takes people a little time to read, not to mention wait until it’s actually delivered and in-hand 😉 His Christian spirit just floweth over, doesn’t it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s a lot like the last “book”, which has a grand total of 16 reviews.

        https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/the-owner-of-all-infernal-names/

        Posted here on 6/8/15, last comment 10/2/16. Dead thread now I suppose…

        On that post you stated to my reply, “I’m afraid to say you haven’t quite understood the thesis”. June 9, 2015 at 10:05 am

        So here we are again, me still not understanding.

        Is it fear John? Or laziness? Do you look at yourself in the mirror? I’m mean really look? Do you look past the skin and wrinkles and the eyebrow hair that might be a little too long? Wonder how it is that you are even here? A cosmic accident? A one-in-a-billion-to-the-billionth-power chance? Ever wonder how nice it would be if your parents never meet and never conceived a John Zande?

        I did not really want to belittle your book, or the time you wasted writing it. Your a big boy, right? After all, scholars will never source your work. Historians will never mention the philosophical arguments of John Zanda. Right? It was never meant to be an academic study.

        @realtalk

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      • So here we are again, me still not understanding.

        Well, yes, precisely. That often happens when someone hasn’t read the material being discussed. When you know what you’re talking about, and have something coherent to say, do please re-engage. I’d enjoy reading a formal rebuttal, especially one that addresses the explicit challenge presented.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. John, it’s rather obvious you spent a lot of time doing research. What’s important here is that your detractors will do little research of their own when challenging your claims.

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    • Don’t worry about Roy. He’s a little unstable and often posts under different monikas, pretending to be different people. It’s rather odd behaviour. I am though hoping for some formal responses. Was promised a few from professional and amateur apologists alike for the first book, but none materialised.

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      • Your a funny man John. Not the ha-ha humorous kind of funny, more like the guarded don’t-want-to-play kind of funny. If your waiting for a professional apologists to take this challenge I’m afraid you’ll be waiting as long as the last time. Suppose?

        As per: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/thesis-statement

        noun
        1. a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.

        If you are so sure your new book can weather a critique by an “amateur” what is your thesis? Or shall it ever remain a mystery only know by you and a dozen others who have read the book?

        A one or two sentence thesis-statement summarizing your work…it can’t be that hard.

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  15. John,

    How is your picture of God any better than any other? From the beginnings of human history men have created mythologies about God and about Gods. He is, She is, They are as mankind has imagined God, or wanted him, her, they to be. You have imagined God to be this flawed being.

    All believers in a Creator have to come to grips with why there is evil. Ancient religions explained it with multiple Gods, some of whom are evil. Judeo-Christianity explains it with Lucifer. You do not use multiple Gods or Godlike beings to account for evil. Your device is that the Creator is evil. He creates just enough good for there to be something for evil to attack. The purpose is to keep the creator from becoming bored with eternity.

    Atheists say there is no God because physically he cannot be proven. All evidence they observe supports that all reality is a random accident with no one at the helm. If an Atheist challenged your idea of a Creator, you could not prove that he is any more than your imagined version of the Christian God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alan, thanks for your thoughtful comment, and apologies for the delay in answering.

      If by “better” you mean more accurate, more credible, then I would say that is principally because of two things:

      1) the thesis is excuse-free, which is to say it does not require a manmade theodicy for it to make sense
      2) it is verifiable and demonstrable through the historical continuum.

      You say that I propose “the Creator is evil,” but is this is a critical mistake. I make no such claim. What is actually said is that from the perspective of all contingent things inside Creation looking out the Creator appears evil.

      Here is a brief section that touches on that and may explain it a little better:

      ”Who else but the perfect expression of debasement could set the conditions of a universe where suffering is not only inescapable, but growing, only to then cast Himself into that Creation, not to observe like some docile voyeur, but to experience directly? Who else but the embodiment of corruption would choose not only to inflict pain but also suffer pain by simultaneously playing the role of both predator and prey?

      Would not this act of perverted self-abuse be the very definition of absolute madness; of maximum evil?

      At one earth atmosphere the accusation might therefore indeed be profoundly meaningful, but this does not, however, necessarily mean the world-shaper, God, is in fact something that may be called mad, evil, wicked, or even malevolent.

      Not in actuality.

      Not in the only reality that matters: that of the Creator’s opinion of Himself, of His interests and His palate. The impression (be it accurate and faithful or not) is however undeniably cogent and immediate to all things outside the mind of God.

      An opinion, after all, is all that stands between pragmatism and hostility. A sentiment is all that differentiates entertainment from cruelty. An impression is the only thing that separates the stimulating from the terrifying. And a judgment, ultimately, is the only thing that disentangles the appalling from the delicious.”

      When you say, “He creates just enough good for there to be something for evil to attack”, is, I’m afraid, fundamentally wrong. The Creator neither creates good nor evil. Neither good nor evil actually exist. What exists (what has always existed) is suffering, and both “good” and “evil” produce suffering.

      You write, “The purpose is to keep the creator from becoming bored with eternity”. An aseitic being cannot become bored. Such a being exists in a timeless moment. If you think about it, the only experience actually available to an aseitic being is curiosity stemming from the one thing it cannot do: an aseitic being cannot not be, and that is reason for why there is (for us) something rather than nothing.

      This a brief section that touches on that:

      ”Unable to die, powerless to be no more, incapable of even experiencing the thrill of the fear of approaching annihilation, and yet blessed with all the powers necessary to explore this fantastic anomaly, it was inevitable that a non-contingent aseitic being (that seminal consciousness: God) would come, eventually, to gather and focus His impossible powers to contrive artificial environments inside which He could cultivate all those things He, the Creator, could never directly experience in the actual world. Incapable however of even knowing the depth and scope of fear and terror and annihilation, such environments (tourable theme parks, in a manner of speaking) could never be built complete; not as some pre-packaged pits of despair inside which readymade sentient avatars could be released to suffer the full force of every ill imaginable.

      Such things would be unknowable, and being unknowable these artificial worlds could only ever be fashioned in such a way that they could self-experiment and freely evolve from some basal expression fixed between concepts He, the Creator, could never touch, but could impose on an artificial scape: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

      Inside these sealed-off worlds (these self-complicating petri dishes) profoundly ignorant avatars could be cultured and grown; evolving surrogates raised like experimental animals to probe and explore this extraordinary curiosity. And through these proxies, these naïve stand-ins, He, the Creator, could taste the fear He alone could never experience, feel the suffering He alone could never know, and meet every pedigree of oblivion denied to Him by dying vicariously.

      That is the social contract history informs us of, and it is a contract even Plantinga seemed to have recognised, stating:

      “God does not stand idly by, coolly observing the suffering of His creatures. He enters into and shares our suffering.”

      Albeit imagining a dramatically different relationship, one no doubt stitched-through with genuine compassion and sympathy, Plantinga’s observation appears accurate by every meaningful measure. The Creator enters into and shares our suffering, tapping into those veins, experiencing directly through surrogates what He alone could never experience directly.”

      Interesting last point. You say “If an Atheist challenged your idea of a Creator, you could not prove that he is any more than your imagined version of the Christian God.”

      Quite on the contrary. Even though the Creator cherishes His anonymity, I can demonstrate His near certain existence through the fundamental workings of this world, which is a 13.82 billion years old complexity machine. That is why Paley’s observation is critical to the thesis:

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

      The predominant tendency of the contrivance does not lie, it is historical, it is quantifiable, and that is why I have concluded this book with a challenge open to anyone, theist or atheist. Alan, I would be genuinely interested to see if you could answer the challenge.

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      • John,
        You overwhelm me with content. Let me stay within a few of your points. If the discussion becomes too broad I will go off on too many tangents.

        ” . You say that I propose “the Creator is evil,” but is this is a critical mistake. I make no such claim. What is actually said is that from the perspective of all contingent things inside Creation looking out the Creator appears evil. ”

        I don’t know that the Creator appears evil to the life inside so much as the created universe is filled with evil. All life must consume other life to exist. On Earth at least life sees all other life as either food, or evil. Eat or be eaten. Humans so far as we know are the only life that are even aware of a Creator.

        Humans do not as a rule blame the Creator for the suffering they experience or the evil they witness and participate in. You are the first person I have met who makes that point. It is a hard point to dispute since God made creation, how can he not be held responsible for the evil that causes suffering?

        Which goes back to your point that there is no good or evil, only the perception of good or evil by life within creation. Certainly to live is to suffer. That seems to be a central point.of your case.

        You say that God allows suffering so that he can observe it and experience it, so as to satisfy his curiosity. ” Who else but the embodiment of corruption would choose not only to inflict pain but also suffer pain by simultaneously playing the role of both predator and prey? ”

        If God is so omni knowledgeable he would already know what pain is. He could merely create his own pain and allow himself to experience it if he wanted to.

        I am sorry, I am getting into a confusing line of reasoning. For me it comes down to whether we who are inside of God’s creation are merely what we appear to be, physical beings with no souls. Do you say that is all we are? When we are dead, we’re dead. no afterlife? Is God the only being outside of creation?

        If there is an afterlife then an alternative explanation to creation becomes apparent. If God is not the only immortal being then creation has an alternative purpose than what you believe. Then the suffering in this World is to test the souls of those who will share eternity with God. If there is no afterlife then it is hard to dispute what you say.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Alan, I appreciate your effort here.

        We might have gone off on an unnecessary tangent regarding “evil.” In the book, evil is defined not necessarily as a personality disposition, but rather as the ways and means by which suffering can be delivered and experienced. “Evil,” therefore, not only exists, but its capacity, variety and potency is increasing as God’s Creation faithfully fulfils its elemental instruction: to diversify and specialise, to migrate, to augment and to grow more complex over time.

        Humans do not as a rule blame the Creator for the suffering they experience or the evil they witness and participate in.

        This is true, but is it not true simply because virtually all human god hypotheses posit a “Good Father”? That is why all religions are erected around elaborate (forever evolving) theodicies: works of terrestrial imagination there only to rescue a pantomime Creator from the charge of incompetence while presenting an emotionally appealing apologia for why things are not as they should be had matter been persuaded to behave by a benevolent hand, rather than a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator.

        If God is so omni knowledgeable he would already know what pain is. He could merely create his own pain and allow himself to experience it if he wanted to.

        Great points, and I salute you for actually thinking about it. That’s commendable. This gets into some heavy theology, but you have to really try and wrap your head around the entire concept of aseity. What does it actually mean? If you think about it, there is only one thing an uncreated aseitic being cannot do: it cannot not be. It cannot die. This world (creation) is not, therefore, of that being. It is artificial. How do we know this? Because our world is sealed between the three concepts an uncreated aseitic being could never touch, but could impose on an artificial scape: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

        Here is a brief section from the book talking about just this:

        “This is the corporeality of this world, and from that mark it takes no more intellectual effort than that exercised in choosing a pair of socks, or slicing a piece of cheesecake, to understand that the Dominican friar, St. Thomas Aquinas, was emphatically, hopelessly wrong. It was not goodness that spilled out into the world, shaping that which had no shape, bonum diffusivum sui, but a spectacular weave of perversion born of a simple but ultimately irresistible compulsion to explore and experience through evolving proxies that single thing an uncreated aseitic being—God—could never alone explore or ever directly experience: death, and all the exotic abstractions associated to it.

        This world inside which sentience has awoken, uninvited, is the stuff of all nightmares, a living daymare, a defiled experiment draped in ethical ugliness…”

        Is God the only being outside of creation?

        Awesome question. We can never know. I present the case for an uncreated aseitic being, a solitary entity, but in all honesty, a curious child with “god-like” powers (god like to us) could be responsible for this petri dish.

        If there is an afterlife then an alternative explanation to creation becomes apparent.

        Agreed. That raises lots of questions, like does this thing which continues on evolve over time and eons? Or perhaps is this “afterlife” a coalescing of consciousness, which is what panpsychism (and Buddhism in many respects) holds to be probable. Those question, though, are not raised in the thesis.

        Like

  16. John,

    ” That is why all religions are erected around elaborate (forever evolving) theodicies: works of terrestrial imagination there only to rescue a pantomime Creator from the charge of incompetence ”

    That there is imperfection in the workings of the created universe and great suffering to it’s inhabitants does not mean God is incompetent. The universe taken as a whole is a great success. It is a complex functioning piece of engineering. Stars and supernovas and black holes are converting matter to energy and back again, renewing the entire masterpiece constantly. Hardly the work of an incompetent uncreated aseitic .

    On the third planet of one of these stars conditions are suitable for billions of semi intelligent beings to have the opportunity to live out their lives. Some of them even consider themselves happy most of the time.

    Granted many of them are quite miserable and even the happy ones will endure great suffering during their short lives.

    ” Is God the only being outside of creation? ”

    ” Awesome question. We can never know. I present the case for an uncreated aseitic being, a solitary entity, but in all honesty, a curious child with “god-like” powers (god like to us) could be responsible for this petri dish.”

    Inside of God’s imperfect creation we are part of the physical. I believe we are also part of that ” uncreated aseitic “. This is probably blasphemy, but It is the only way I can reconcile the created and the uncreated. I do not believe God creates Souls. Eternity has to be exactly the same backwards as forwards. If our Souls live for eternity after death, then they would also have to have always existed beforehand as God does. It is only in this imperfect creation that existence has a beginning and an end.

    I believe that creation is not so that God can experience suffering through the creatures inside of it. I believe that existence is a testing ground for Souls. Suffering is part of the test. The question I have no answer for is why there is unequal testing. Some Souls have great lives and some have far more suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alan,

      That there is imperfection in the workings of the created universe and great suffering to it’s inhabitants does not mean God is incompetent.

      From your perspective, that of a traditional theist, I really don’t see how you arrive at this conclusion, Alan. I am by no means litigating the claim made by any religion, but this deserves a few lines.

      From your own narrative, your god, the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, lost total control of his creation when Lucifer (Yhwh’s most “beautiful and perfect” creation) went haywire. For reasons never explained, Yhwh then creates an organic creature, man, and casts that creature into this already failed and diseased and corrupted creation. That act alone speaks to one of two things:

      1) Stunning incompetence
      2) A deliberate (conscious) act of evil.

      The universe taken as a whole is a great success. It is a complex functioning piece of engineering.

      Although we don’t have another universe to compare ours against and gauge its engineering prowess, I would however say Absolutely! The machine appears to be working beautifully, producing greater and ever more vibrant (personalised) expressions of suffering. That is what 13.82 billion years of history informs us of.

      This world is a complexity machine, spilling out from a state of ancestral simplicity to contemporary complexity, where the greater talents awarded to each succeeding generation of things have always produced evil (suffering) proportionate to the extent of their powers.

      That, Alan, is the central point in the thesis.

      I believe that creation is not so that God can experience suffering through the creatures inside of it. I believe that existence is a testing ground for Souls. Suffering is part of the test.

      And there is your theodicy, your excuse why things are not as they should be had matter been persuaded to behave by a benevolent hand, rather than a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator.

      That is the strength of the thesis. It requires no excuse, no scapegoat, no apologia, no laboured advocacy, or inventive pretext. It explains yesterday, today and tomorrow without a cover story.

      The question is then: which explanation for this world is stronger; the one that requires an elaborate excuse just for it to be vaguely plausible (although still riddled with unignorable contradictions), or the one that doesn’t?

      If you really want to try to put a dent in the thesis you’ll have to address the presented formal challenge.

      Like

      • John,
        You demand a perfect universe because God as a perfect being should have created nothing less.. God should have made the universe as he did Heaven with harps and clouds and angels all floating around and no evil and especially no suffering. That he chose to add in evil and suffering is proof to you he is incompetent.

        As long as the acid test for you is suffering and there is no denying that suffering exists, I see no point in going further. I’ve given my theory for suffering being to test souls to be worthy of sharing Heaven after death.

        The only thing that is left is how do we live out our lives. My path is laid out by my beliefs. To live or try to live according to the tenets of Christianity. How are you to live? You do not deny God’s existence, only that he is incompetent. What is your path in a universe full of suffering?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Alan

        I demand nothing, and I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this before you understand, but if it helps, here it is one more time. The work is primarily historical. It proceeds from Paley’s observation:

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

        Your explanation for the existence of suffering is fundamentally flawed, and it is so on two fronts:

        1) it fails to explain 13.82 billion years of pre-human cosmic and biological evolution.
        2) it thoroughly negates the thesis of the character of the god you are proposing exists.

        In science, when a hypothesis has been falsified it is discarded.

        Like

  17. John,

    ” Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”

    That assumes that the person examining the watch is impartial.

    Like

    • The Impartial Observer is the principle vehicle through which the first book is relayed.

      It’s not difficult to be perfectly impartial when observing history. We are simply looking at hard evolutionary facts. These are not in question. They are not open to interpretation.

      Like

  18. That you see yourself as impartial is something I can’t accept.Then, that is not your problem. I believe impartiality is well nigh impossible. We all grind our axes.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am sorry for the delay in answering. I did not want to give you an answer that I had not put the proper effort into. I have other distractions and finding the time lately has been difficult.

    ” The predominant tendency of the contrivance does not lie, it is historical, it is quantifiable, and that is why I have concluded this book with a challenge open to anyone, theist or atheist. Alan, I would be genuinely interested to see if you could answer the challenge.”

    I am trying to get my arms around the point we are arguing with out endlessly repeating myself. I had to look up your Paley quote because I am not familiar with his writings. You are perhaps more intellectual than me, because frankly I have problems understanding your reasoning which defeats my trying to find flaws within it.

    When I read Paley, other than your ” Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”, I find that you and he have nothing else in common. Again please correct me, if I am in error.

    You would seem to have taken this one statement from Paley and used it to theorize a totally different Creator than Paley was defending. Paley used this Watch Maker’s analogy to defend belief in God at a time in history when the sheer pace of new scientific discovery was shaking the religious foundations of Western Civilization. In this vein he was using similar arguments that Renee Descartes and Isaac Newton had used.

    These men, starting from a basic belief in God and a belief in his goodness, used the observed workings of the mechanical universe to justify their beliefs. Even the flaws in the mechanics which required Divine Intervention from time to time were seen as proof of God’s love for his creations.

    Atheists can make a pretty good argument that with all of the constant disasters and accidents and suffering inherent in the universe, there can’t be a creator or anyone else in charge.

    Both groups above are looking at the exact same historical evidence you are looking at. They have arrived at their beliefs because of their biases. I make the case that you also arrive where you are because of your preconceived notions, which are your biases. That is why I question your claim of impartiality. I do not claim it. I cannot understand how anyone could be impartial when discussing God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry for the delay in answering.

      No problem at all.

      When I read Paley, other than your ” Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.”, I find that you and he have nothing else in common. Again please correct me, if I am in error.

      Well, Paley was a Christian apologist.

      These men, starting from a basic belief in God and a belief in his goodness, used the observed workings of the mechanical universe to justify their beliefs.

      Absolutely. This was Christian natural theology, and it was (and remains) deeply, deeply flawed by way of persuasive argumentation. Paley, for example, wrote: “A bee amongst the flowers in spring is one of the most cheerful objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to be all enjoyment; so busy, and so pleased.” I say flawed because under the microscope, the bee’s outer body is found to be infested with the ferocious varroa mite, their airways riddled with impatiently greedy acarine (tracheal) mites, their intestines ravaged by the veracious nosema apis, and their hives, where some degree of safety should at least be expected, is instead crowded with gluttonous bacillus larvae and the hideous Brood Disease.

      Natural theology was naturally blinded. It looked at the “natural world” but did not, actually, look at the natural world. That world is as 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.”

      That suffering is built into the nature of things is precisely what Paley, and others, simply ignored.

      I cannot understand how anyone could be impartial when discussing God.

      Being impartial is easy when we are not actually starting with the conclusion. I start from the point that a god, a Creator, exists. That’s it. I assign no characteristics to the figure. No personality traits. Nothing. Then I look at 13.82 billion years, and assess that according to Paley’s observation: Contrivance proves design, and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer.

      The predominant tendency of the contrivance does not lead to a conclusion of mindful, kind, generous, caring, benevolent Creator. The natural tendency of this world (this complexity machine) to produce ever greater expressions of suffering (of evil) negates that thesis at a fundamental level.

      Like

      • John,

        I agree with your interpretation of the bee analogy with this addition. Paley is seeing the bee as he wants to see it. He sees a creature happy in it’s work. He sees an industrious creature going about it’s created purpose, finding joy in it’s task. That likely fits his ideal of middle class values.

        In reality the bee is no better than the common housefly feeding and breeding on manure piles. Both species have merely evolved different ways to make a living and the differences are in the biases of the observer. I doubt that the bee is happier than the fly. Both have a short life span and generally end up as another creature’s supper.

        To get back to the Creator. All life must die. Imagine if at the creation all life was immortal? Nothing died. You might have a universe of angels such as in Milton’s Paradise Lost before Lucifer’s fall. It would not be so bad, except there is nothing new. Angels do not breed. If they did even the unlimited scope of the universe might get really crowded.

        So God creates life that breeds and changes over time. Therefore after it breeds all life must die. How do you allow death without suffering? How do you force life to evolve into ever greater diversity with out forcing it to struggle? How do you force the struggle on individual life with out suffering?

        Liked by 1 person

      • So God creates life that breeds and changes over time. Therefore after it breeds all life must die. How do you allow death without suffering? How do you force life to evolve into ever greater diversity with out forcing it to struggle? How do you force the struggle on individual life with out suffering?

        Exactly! And so you’ve concluded The Owner of All Infernal Names.

        With regulated existence came non-existence: obliteration. On was coupled to Off. In the book, this is the First Good, and the First Good fathered the first and the greatest of all consequences: death. It is the first repulsive force, the first line of code, the first fear, and although physiologically incapable of suffering in a manner recognisable to human minds, it is argued that with a non-zero Phi (Φ), atoms, such as hydrogen, subjectively experience this most ancient of all anxieties: the emergency to persist and to push back against those things which would, if given the chance, annihilate it. That urge to maintain itself is a fixture in every material thing; a template that has been replicated and passed on through increasing orders of complexity. It is everywhere, and since the commencement of the age of stars nothing with even a whit of organisation (integrated information) has gone quietly into the night, silently rolling over into the abyss of conscious liquidation.

        That, Alan, is the work of being we would call evil.

        Like

  20. John,

    Thank you for tolerating me. You and I could not be more unalike in our views, yet this has not degenerated into disrespect. I do not know how much further I wish to pursue this discussion as neither of us is likely to budge on principle. Every time I look for an exit you seem to bring up a fresh point worth commenting on. I am confused by ” it is argued that with a non-zero Phi (Φ), atoms, such as hydrogen, subjectively experience this most ancient of all anxieties: the emergency to persist and to push back against those things which would, if given the chance, annihilate it. “. This is beyond my understanding of physics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, my apologies. In isolation that would seem thoroughly odd.

      I’m referencing Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which states that any system—organic or inorganic—that processes and integrates information experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Consciousness, they say, 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. Zircon crystals, cells, plants, even protons, they argue, are all examples of such systems. Indeed, anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience, and this includes subatomic particles.

      In short, IIT is a modern expression of panpsychism, and people like Professor Max Tegmark (MIT) are pushing very, very hard to prove it to be true. I use Tononi, Koch, and Tegmark’s work to establish that homeostasis (the tendency to equilibrium through physiological processes) is not a unique physiological program cherished only by those things that tend to meet the criteria we ascribe to so-called ‘living’ things. This being true, then inside the core of every star exists an ocean of tumult where hydrogen (compressed and its electrons accelerated) struggles to hold onto its peculiar understanding of dear life. Here I am demonstrating that suffering (evil) was present at the very beginning.

      Alan, it’s been fun, but truly, if you want to actually engage the subject I’d suggest you read the book/s.

      Like

      • John,

        What you are saying defies what I believe about live matter and dead matter. Since we were at an impasse anyway, this is a good place to exit. Thanks again for your time..

        Like

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