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7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 12:45PM #11
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
[QUOTE=brburl;498133][i]

Of course a creator god is explanatory. It is a major function of such an idea.[/quote]

A fundamental difference of opinion, and indeed probably the basis of this disagreement.  I will agree with you the concept of God does a fairly poor job at explaining it all.  I myself would have a hard time to find a person whose God I believed in.  But to evaluate the concept on that criterion is to miss the point entirely.   You still labor under some particular misconceptions regarding the free moral act as determined by the spark of creation and by the creator's knowledge of the act.  Knowledge does not determine the known, as you imply but the other way around, whether the knowledge is perfect and complete or not.  But I'd rather not go around and around on the particulars any more, because they are beside the point.  The question is does a belief in God preclude one from being considered a Buddhist? 

Speaking of failure to explain, cosmological explanations are hardly the Buddha's strong suit.  But obviously Buddhism offers something other than explanation on cosmogeny.  In Buddhism it is argued that such explanations are beside the point.  And I would argue that this is the case for religion in general, whose point is salvation and not intellectual satisfaction.  And in the fairly rare case where some natural phenomena is explained in the suttas, it seems we can be fairly certain the explanation is faulty and useless by the kind of evaluation you give here (there are rain-cloud gods that make it rain?).   So clearly, the ability to explain is not what you are after.   And as I said, nor should it be. 

in friendliness,
V.
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7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 1:52PM #12
brburl
Posts: 132
You still labor under some particular misconceptions regarding the free moral act as determined by the spark of creation and by the creator's knowledge of the act.

No laboring, no misconception. It is the logical consequence of an omniscient, omnipotent god notion that free will is meaningless.

Knowledge does not determine the known

Except where an all-knowing, all-powerful god comes into the picture. What exists exists because of god’s power, god’s knowledge, which is pretty basic Western theology. If it was not the way god wanted it to be, it would not be, it could not be, particularly given god’s all-knowingness and all-powerfullness, which would be complete knowledge of and power over how its creation would unfold.

But I'd rather not go around and around on the particulars any more, because they are beside the point.

Depends upon which point.

The question is does a belief in God preclude one from being considered a Buddhist?

That an individual might hold idiosyncratic and contradictory views is not unknown.

Speaking of failure to explain, cosmological explanations are hardly the Buddha's strong suit. But obviously Buddhism offers something other than explanation on cosmogeny. In Buddhism it is argued that such explanations are beside the point.

And this last sentence may be why “cosmological explanations are hardly the Buddha's strong suit.” Duh.

And I would argue that this is the case for religion in general, whose point is salvation and not intellectual satisfaction.

Certainly the idea of god is not intellectually satisfying, but it used by theists to explain and justify existence and why we must act and believe this way or that.

And in the fairly rare case where some natural phenomena is explained in the suttas, it seems we can be fairly certain the explanation is faulty and useless by the kind of evaluation you give here (there are rain-cloud gods that make it rain?).

Not that you have shown, simply because I have made no comment about the nature of what finds in the suttas.

So clearly, the ability to explain is not what you are after. And as I said, nor should it be.

Not what I am after? The fact that god is put forth as an explanation is simply a fact of the matter and has nothing to do with what "I am [supposedly] after."
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7 years ago  ::  May 15, 2008 - 12:12PM #13
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
[QUOTE=brburl;498991]
No laboring, no misconception. It is the logical consequence of an omniscient, omnipotent god notion that free will is meaningless.

...

Except where an all-knowing, all-powerful god comes into the picture. What exists exists because of god’s power, god’s knowledge, which is pretty basic Western theology.  If it was not the way god wanted it to be, it would not be, it could not be, particularly given god’s all-knowingness and all-powerfullness, which would be complete knowledge of and power over how its creation would unfold.[/quote]

Western theology elaborates well beyond these limited notions of yours and has been fully aware of the "problem" of free will since inception.   The idea has been fairly hammered out as far as humanly possible.  You ignore a number of important theological points, and persist in making logical errors.  The principle and original one being that there is no reason why an omnipotent and omniscient God cannot permit free will in his creatures, and still no proven connection between God's knowledge of a particular moral act and controlling that act. Beyond pointing that out, I think the topic has departed significantly from Buddhism and so I've got to cut myself short.  Maybe you can debate your view with theists in one of their debate boards.  I'm sure there are plenty who have intelligently studied the matter. 

in friendliness,
V.
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7 years ago  ::  May 15, 2008 - 4:34PM #14
brburl
Posts: 132
Western theology elaborates well beyond these limited notions of yours and has been fully aware of the "problem" of free will since inception.

And it never has been able to offer a solution to that problem. It either tries to some way or other limit god’s knowledge, or it simply dissolves into it-is-a-deep-mystery sort of thing.

The idea has been fairly hammered out as far as humanly possible.\

Which nicely nails the problem on the head. The idea of god is a human construct and one could reasonably argue that it is driven by a need derived from the idea that we have this self sort of thingie:

"The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everthing is impermanent and subject to suffering." Abhidharmakosha  5, 8 vol IV, p 19

You ignore a number of important theological points

Not at all.

and persist in making logical errors.

Not that you have shown.

The principle and original one being that there is no reason why an omnipotent and omniscient God cannot permit free will in his creatures, and still no proven connection between God's knowledge of a particular moral act and controlling that act

So you say.

a] Since god is an absolute, god is beyond the created, temporal conceptions and relative considerations of time. The notions of past, present, and future would have no limiting bearing on god; otherwise god could not be omniscient.

b] Since god is an absolute with absolute knowledge and is not limited by the concept of time, there is nothing past, present and future that is not fully known by god as an "eternal nowness" -- omniscience cannot mean anything less.

c] Since god is an absolute with absolute power, there is no action beyond god's purview, except that limitation of being all-good. God cannot do evil.

d] Since there can be "no creature without a Creator," all that is, is because god allows it to be, setting in motion its existence. Being absolute, with no limitation except being unable to do evil, god could also not allow something to be.

e] The physical world is god's creation. Its handiwork is not only the blue sky and the majestic mountain, but also the TB bacillus, AIDS virus, the earthquake, and any other natural phenomenon one cares to point to.

f] Since god is omniscient there can be no question that not only does god know the results of a process that god has absolute atemporal knowledge of and absolute control over, but what is, is because god wanted it to be as it is, and what is, is what is in what we call past, present and future, is fully known to god.

g] We can grant that god may have not created the TB bacillus or AIDS virus directly, but given omniscience and omnipotence, it is a necessary argument that god, setting into motion the processes of nature that would give rise to the TB bacillus and the AIDS virus, that god had full atemporal knowledge of AND control of the results of god's creation ("Whatever happens is His will”) --- the AIDS virus, the TB bacillus.

h] Being omnipotent there is no question that god could have done otherwise, since god is without limit.

i] If I were to build a dam, knowing even before it was being built that it would fail due to its design, then I would be held legally and morally responsible for the damage, suffering, and death caused by the dam's failure, and my failure to get the downstream inhabitants to safety.

j] Occurrences of natural disasters, disease and other natural phenomena that cause suffering can be seen as following from god's design. God is, therefore, liable for the suffering caused by god's design. This is particularly the case since god has absolute control over god's creation and god knows absolutely that a natural disaster, part of the process god set in motion, is going to happen -- killing and causing suffering. Since god is omniscient there can be no question that not only does god know the results of a process that god has absolute atemporal knowledge of and absolute control over, but what is, is because god wanted it to be as it is, and what is, is what is in what we call past, present and future, is fully known to god. So much for natural phenomenon.

k] Since god is all-good what god wills is all-good.

l] Human freedom of will to be meaningful must mean freedom to act contrary to god's will; otherwise, we would be just automata following the programming set for us -- god's will.

m] Since god's will is the Good, action contrary to god's will is absence of the Good, that which can be called evil.

n] The ability to make choice -- the will not to choose the Good -- is god's creation.

o] As a creation, will is something that god would have absolute knowledge of and control of, for there is no question that an atemporal god who is capable of absolute knowledge will have absolute knowledge of what choices humans will make. Even before the rise of life (creation?) god knew with absolute certainty that Hitler would arise and do his great absence of Good -- omniscience demands no less.

p] It is possible to conceive that Hitler could have acted differently, but the fact is he didn't, and given the absolute atemporal knowledge of god, there is no question that god could not have known that the human nature god set into motion could not but given arise to Hitler and the Holocaust.

q] Human nature being god's creation is god's responsibility, since god knew even before he set any creation in motion how human nature would unfold -- that is, it would do evil, Hitler would arise.

r] Therefore: "God, as the Creator of all things ['Whatever happens
is His will'], is the creator of evil through man as His Instrument, as creator of man's will to do evil."

s] If I were to make a robot that was capable of making free choices and one of those choices was to kill, it would be hard not to hold me responsible for a death committed by that robot. If I knew without question that it would kill and I set it loose anyway, it would be no different from my killing directly, and there would be no way I could absolve myself from responsibility.

t] Whatever is evil that is to be done by humans, it IS known by god -- omnipotent, omniscient -- and it IS the result the nature of the creation god set in motion. God, therefore, is responsible for the evil done by god's creations. Since god is omniscient there can be no question that not only does god know the results of a process that god has absolute atemporal knowledge of and absolute control over, but what is, is because god wanted it to be as it is, and what is, is what is in what we call past, present and future, is fully known to god.

u] If humans' have free will, then god is not all-good, or god lacks omnipotence or omniscience. Or if god is omniscient and omnipotent, humans lack free will.

v] God, being omniscient, knows as an eternal truth each choice, each action, that each human will decide; how then can we say that we have a choice to act contrary to how god knows we are going to act? That would imply god is ignorant, not omniscient. How can we say we have free will when we cannot act other than how god knows we are going to act, which is to say act according to how god created us?

w] If god has chosen to limit the absoluteness of god's being in someway, there is still no absolution from responsibility.

x] Through the creation of natural phenomena and through the creation of human nature, god, who has absolute atemporal knowledge and power, IS responsible for the pain and evil that arise from these creations.

y] As r] states god is the creator of evil, which is in direct contradiction to the notion that god is all good. We have then a major incoherence: the evil creating nature of god and god being all good. God is a self-contradictory notion. And as we see in v] the notion of free will falls prey equally to the problematics of omniscience and omnipotence.

Beyond pointing that out, I think the topic has departed significantly from Buddhism

Not necessarily.

and so I've got to cut myself short.

There is a good in that here, but I’ll pass.

Maybe you can debate your view with theists in one of their debate boards. I'm sure there are plenty who have intelligently studied the matter.

Been there done that. It always ends up that god is a mystery that we can never hope to understand.
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7 years ago  ::  May 16, 2008 - 5:34PM #15
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
As intellectually tempting and frankly popular as your position is, the same mistakes that were merely latent in your argument before show up all the more glaringly when you spell it out point by point.   The reasons you can't see them are beyond scope. 

But at this late stage, it is no longer my place to point the errors out.  I already have in essence, but all you say in reply is flatly that I didn't and go on to elaborate the same argument only in more detail.  That's okay.  You've clearly laid out your thinking on the matter and that's the best that we can do, so my commendations to you on that.  Besides, Apology for the existence of God is not and never was my intention. 

in friendliness,
V.
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7 years ago  ::  May 16, 2008 - 6:11PM #16
brburl
Posts: 132
As intellectually tempting and frankly popular as your position is, the same mistakes that were merely latent in your argument before show up all the more glaringly when you spell it out point by point. The reasons you can't see them are beyond scope.

Now there is an eye-roller. “Gee, you have made all these mistakes, and I don’t understand why you cannot see them, but I am not going show what they are or refute them.” As if that is really a valid comment on your part.

But at this late stage, it is no longer my place to point the errors out.

It is to laugh. Now, I always stand to be corrected on anything I say; however, you have yet to show that anything I have said here is in error, and at best you are offering this rather cheesy posturing as a response.

I already have in essence, but all you say in reply is flatly that I didn't and go on to elaborate the same argument only in more detail.

Nice try at dodging the issue.

You've clearly laid out your thinking on the matter

Which is far more than you have done.
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7 years ago  ::  May 16, 2008 - 11:55PM #17
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
BrBurl

Excellent display and defense of the Buddhist way of looking at god and such things of absolute conceptual nature.

My congratulations BrBurl

Well done.

A old well hashed argument for you I know.
Nevertheless finely presented.
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7 years ago  ::  May 19, 2008 - 2:03PM #18
vacchagotta
Posts: 298
[QUOTE=brburl;504313]As intellectually tempting and frankly popular as your position is, the same mistakes that were merely latent in your argument before show up all the more glaringly when you spell it out point by point. The reasons you can't see them are beyond scope.

Now there is an eye-roller. “Gee, you have made all these mistakes, and I don’t understand why you cannot see them, but I am not going show what they are or refute them.” As if that is really a valid comment on your part.

But at this late stage, it is no longer my place to point the errors out.

It is to laugh. Now, I always stand to be corrected on anything I say; however, you have yet to show that anything I have said here is in error, and at best you are offering this rather cheesy posturing as a response.

I already have in essence, but all you say in reply is flatly that I didn't and go on to elaborate the same argument only in more detail.

Nice try at dodging the issue.

You've clearly laid out your thinking on the matter

Which is far more than you have done.[/QUOTE]

I explicitly pointed out the fundamental gap already, but most of the errors occur in the area of not understanding the premises which go together in theodicy with God's omnipotence, with how it is precisely defined (for example you utterly ignore the concept of divine decree, which the allowance of free will is considered a divine decree).    You can figure them out, but will never admit your mistakes anyway, so I will not play this game with you.  Like I said the theodicies have been done, and by those more learned in theology than I.  And not being a theist, I haven't much reason to continue going in these circles of denial and belittlement with you.  So go ahead and declare victory and smugly diminish what I have to say if you will, and be happy at Ron's congratulations.   

in friendliness,
V.
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7 years ago  ::  May 19, 2008 - 3:14PM #19
brburl
Posts: 132
I explicitly pointed out the fundamental gap already, but most of the errors occur in the area of not understanding the premises which go together in theodicy with God's omnipotence, with how it is precisely defined (for example you utterly ignore the concept of divine decree, which the allowance of free will is considered a divine decree).

More accurately, you explicitly asserted all of that. You offered no reasoned argument. I spelled out how “divine decree” is not logically tenable. The theistic position devolves to “It’s all a mystery,” which is essentially the basis for "divine decree." Free will, as I have shown, is quite meaningless in face of the “fact” that what is, is because god allows it to be.

You can figure them out, but will never admit your mistakes anyway, so I will not play this game with you.

Which is to say, like the theists, you really have no reasoned argument for the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent god and free will.

Like I said the theodicies have been done,

And they are all susceptible to the same sorts of argumentation.

and by those more learned in theology than I.

That is for sure. You might want to read such as Barth.

And not being a theist, I haven't much reason to continue going in these circles of denial and belittlement with you.

That you are responding, and have responded, is your choice. That you have you have not presented any real argumentation, again, is your choice.

So go ahead and declare victory and smugly diminish what I have to say if you will, and be happy at Ron's congratulations.

There is nothing to diminish, and certainly no reason to be smug, and if you want to see this in terms of victory and defeat, that is your choice.
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7 years ago  ::  May 23, 2008 - 1:17PM #20
bshmr
Posts: 14
Outside of BrBurl's tagline, which is a translation of poetic commentary, not canon, I don't see much that approaches Dharma/Dhamma.

I have heard that Gotama eschewed such topics as 'furthering nothing'; and, I notice such most often are  unskillful   proselytizing.
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