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Post The Biggest Immorality: Murder in the Name of God
Created by John Eipper on 01/10/18 4:34 AM

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The Biggest Immorality: Murder in the Name of God (Istvan Simon, USA, 01/10/18 4:34 am)

Maybe I am missing something, and if so I'd appreciate being enlightened, but to me it seems that the split between the Sunni and the Shia in Islam is pretty much the same as the split of Christendom under the Reformation.

Further, I see the murderous instinct of today's Islam against others who believe slightly differently, be they Sunnis, or Shia or other sects of Islam, not altogether that different from the attempt by Rome to extinguish the Protestant Reformation by murder and war. The only difference is that Islam is a few hundred years late in its disgraceful murderous acts.

To my mind there is no worse or more immoral murder than murder in the name of God. It is ironic to me that so far, the religious discussion in WAIS seems to have overlooked this obvious but important observation.

Though this comment is in response to A. J. Cave's very interesting post of January 9th, I'd like to also address Tom Hashimoto's comments about Science and God, as well as some sequels in that discussion.

Tom said that science has not proved the non-existence of God. He is partially correct about this. First, I can assure Tom, as a scientist, that this question is not of any particular importance to science. So, one reason for what he says is simply a lack of interest.

But there is a second more subtle reason which I would like to now address. It is impossible for Science to prove the non-existence of God, because it is not clear what God is. God is an ill-defined concept, and different religions visualize what God is or is not in different ways. A Buddhist's view of God is very different from the Jewish point of view, which is similar but still different from the Catholic God, which is different from Allah of Islam, which is certainly very different from Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, etc., which are different from Isis and Osiris, and so on. What Science can do is to prove that certain properties that God is supposed to have in the monotheistic religions are inconsistent, and therefore a "being" or "power" with those properties cannot exist. I can prove this to Tom, because in fact I teach this in Discrete Mathematics. It is a theorem that God does not exist with the following 4 properties:

1. God is all-powerful and is aware of everything everywhere.

2. God is loving and good and is a Moral Being.

3. God cares about what happens to human beings, like Tom and me.

Morality as taught by the monotheistic religions requires that if I see something immoral about to happen, say I and a friend are exchanging ideas, and I see a man approaching my friend from behind with a butcher knife raised to stab my friend, I am obliged by morality to intervene to try to stop the immoral act of murder. So I must risk my own life perhaps to hold the murderer's arm, preventing the immoral act from occurring. It therefore seems reasonable to me that religion require the same from God that is supposed to be loving and good and a Moral Being by property 2. So the fourth axiom is this:

4. If a Moral Being X is aware of an immoral act about to happen that X can prevent, then X must prevent it.

I can prove by mathematics and logic that the 4 properties above are inconsistent. So I can prove that there is no supranatural power with these 4 properties. They are logically inconsistent, and therefore cannot exist.  So if Tom believes that his God has these 4 properties, then mathematics can and does prove that Tom's God does not exist.

As a personal note about this, I first proved the above theorem when I was 10 years old. I am now much older and perhaps wiser, but my proof of so many years ago was and is 100% correct.

JE comments:  Goodness, Istvan Simon was pondering deep theological and philosophical questions at 10?  I stand in awe.  My goal at that age was building a killer collection of Hot Wheels.  I still have it.

Seriously now, theologians have long struggled with Istvan's second and third assumptions.  Doesn't the notion of Free Will give the Almighty an "escape clause," if you will?  We are allowed to choose our actions, even when they are evil.

Finally, didn't the Shia-Sunni split occur at the very beginning of Islam?  The disagreement had to do with Muhammad's successor.  I hope A. J. Cave will clarify.

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  • Do Buddhists Have a God? From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 01/11/18 4:36 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:

    Istvan Simon wrote on January 10th:  "A Buddhist's view of God is very different from the Jewish point of view."

    May I point out that a Buddhist has no view of a god?  Buddhists have really no god, contrary to the belief that a mythic jolly fat man is their depiction of god. But like many beliefs (religions?), people lose sight of the original pure teaching.

    Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BCE.

    The Buddha can be compared to the Christian Holy Spirit, which is symbolic of enlightenment.

    But returning to Istvan's main point, that of the schisms within religions. There is a giant schism that everyone seems to not touch on. That is the schism between a motley crew of Jewish disciples and the Jewish religion. Did Jesus really intend to start a new religion, or did he seek to enlighten us and free us from the bonds of religious micro-managers? It seems that when I read His teachings, that He was always pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

    In the movie The Shack (quite a comical movie really), Octavia Spencer (one of my favorite actresses, whose starring roles include The Help and Hidden Figures) plays God. The movie indeed did get it right with a real Semitic Jewish actor playing Jesus (sorry, no dirty-blond blue-eyed surfer dude here). I liked the Holy Spirit character. She was played by a beautiful Asian actress. But I digress. There was one line in the movie, where the main character asked Jesus about religion. Jesus's responded with a smile: "Ah, religion, hmmm." Those words and the way he said it says it all.  This Jesus did not think much about religion (although he was indeed greatly knowledgeable in the Jewish law).

    The journey continues, following the WAIS of enlightenment.

    JE comments:  The Buddhist non-god is very difficult for monotheists and culturally monotheistic folks to understand.  Buddhist practice suggests the existence of a deity--they have temples, monks, and conduct chanting prayers and meditation.  But Buddhism self-identifies as a philosophy rather than a religion.  This explains how Buddhist societies can combine a variety of religions/philosophies.  Consider Japan, for example, with Shintoism, Buddhism, and elements of Christianity impacting people's spiritual lives.

    A random thought:  Adrian College has a single department of Philosophy & Religion.  WAIS of late has really dissected the Science vs Religion distinction.  How about the difference between Religion and Philosophy?

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    • Religion, Philosophy, and the Jesuits (John Heelan, UK 01/12/18 4:53 AM)

      JE asked on 11 January: "How about the difference between Religion and Philosophy?"

      Regrettably, philosophy was hijacked by religionists from Medieval times onwards, using their intellectual domination of the then universities to promulgate their beliefs and arguments. It was not until the Enlightenment (some 300 years later) that their religious-influenced philosophy was challenged.

      Of the Oxbridge colleges, the first houses were monastic halls. Of the dozens established during the 12th-15th centuries, none survived the Reformation. Campion Hall (Oxford) still maintains its Jesuitical overtones, perhaps the best arguers in the business?

      JE comments:  What came first, Philosophy or Religion?  More or less at the same time?  Can't we see religion as an applied philosophy?  We need to pose this question to the Buddhists, as well as to the Jesuits.

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      • Religion, Philosophy, Chickens and Eggs (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/15/18 5:10 AM)
        What came first, the chicken or the egg? Obviously the chicken came first because it had to contribute the first-chicken genetic material for the first egg. The environment changes the species over time to produce a hopefully more successful evolved species. Nevertheless, one can imagine that an egg of a prior species could be zapped by some rays and muted to produce the first chicken immediately after hatching. Possible but unlikely?

        Which came first philosophy or religion?  (See John Heelan, 12 January.) Once a cave person thought that fire was a god or from the gods, a modern professor would have called this process philosophizing, producing "the first philosophy."

        John Eipper and I are both right; Madame Currie knew about radioactivity but not enough to save her life. That is a major reason why I wrote my book God for Atheists and Scientists: we must take science more seriously because sooner or later our lives and welfare will depend on it. No time for laziness and time-wasting.

        JE comments:  In our chicken-religion-egg-philosophy analogy, is religion the chicken or the egg?  For his part, John Heelan places myth as the progenitor of both philosophy and religion.

        Whew, this is heavy stuff.  Let's turn our attention instead to hoaxes.  Eugenio Battaglia (next) gets the ball rolling.

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  • Free Will is a Cop-Out (Istvan Simon, USA 01/15/18 4:29 AM)
    In his comments to my post of January 10th, John E spoke about God's escape clause of "free will," by which God like Pontius Pilate can just "wash his hands" on human affairs.

    I cannot allow religion such a ridiculous escape clause. First of all, it does not apply to acts of nature like earthquakes or floods that kill sometimes half a million people. Do Plate Tectonics have "free will"? So this business of free will is a cop-out. But in any case, suppose that God decided in her infinite wisdom to give us free will to murder each other as much as our little evil hearts desire.

    The first obvious question is, why would God do that? For what purpose? Was not Adam expelled from Paradise for "bad" behavior? And how can it be claimed that God is good and loving and a Moral Being when God acts like Pontius Pilate, using us as mere little ants to be watched to see what we would do with our "free will"?

    I'm afraid I'm not convinced, and the cop-out of "free will" sounds like the desperate attempt to save the "ether" in physics when we discovered contradictory evidence measuring the speed of light. Along came Einstein with a much better idea, and voilà the ether is tossed into the garbage can.

    I propose we do the same with the "free will" cop-out.

    JE comments:  Can we will away Free Will?  Aquinas must be reeling in his tomb, Istvan! 

    These theological questions are beyond my skill set, but there any way other than free will to explain the simultaneous existence of a benevolent God and acts of human evil?

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