Natural disasters- Does permission equal causation?

by nvrgnbk 28 Replies latest jw friends

  • MsMcDucket

    I remember watching black and white movies about people on islands sacrificing a virgin to the "about to erupt" volcano thinking that this would calm down the volcano's wrath! People believe in crazy things! The earth is ever evolving and revolving! When it hiccups, everyone notices it! Maybe California will become like the lost city Atlantis; and there will be tales about the great wealth in that city. They'll talk about the fairies, and the great city of Hollywood, and the stars, and the Great Governor Arnold. They shall look for remnants of this great culture!

    To quote George Carlin: "The earth isn't going anywhere. We are!"

  • truthseeker

    God is too powerful to give consideration to fairness

  • M.J.

    Here's the key question!

    Does God WILLINGLY or UNWILLINGLY permit such things?

    If God unwillingly permits it, then God is yielding to a force greater than himself.

    If he willingly permits it, then He's responsible for it.

  • M.J.

    Check out Augustine's take on the issue:

  • VoidEater

    Now [the Babel Fish] is such a bizarrely impossible coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God. The arguement goes something like this:

    "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    "But," say Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't though of that" and promply vanishes in a puff of logic.

    -Douglas Adams

    (sorry, not quite on topic...)

  • BurnTheShips
    Check out Augustine's take on the issue:

    Thanks for that, I enjoy Augustine. I wish someone would interact with my post on page one.

  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog

    Isa 45:7

    The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

    Amo 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?
  • journey-on

    Isn't it strange how it takes a very very MAJOR DISASTER to get people in the world focused on an area.

    Katrina, for instance. Suddenly, we focused on the drug-infested poverty stricken crime-ridden city of New Orleans with

    its political corruption and stupidly planned infra structure. We suddenly realized this city was more than just fun and

    The French Quarter with great jazz clubs and excellent cuisine. A major catastrophe was like a huge slap in the

    face that made us wake up and smell the Community. (That's a coffee brand in Louisiana for those that don't know.) We

    became aware of the elements of its deepseated sickness and depravity and neglect. It desperately needed focused attention and

    Katrina did it. That was like a cry for help.

    Tsunami. Suddenly, the world was talking about Thailand. After the initial news coverage of the devastating Tsunami

    itself, we began hearing more about the country, the drug money laundering and sex slave trafficking, its mortality rate

    due to the prevalence of AIDS, and a host of other horrendous living conditions. We suddenly realized that Thailand was

    not just a vacation hot spot with beautiful beaches and beachfront hotel resorts. This horrible catastrophe hit us upside

    the head and made the world.....people.....look at this place....really look at it.

    It seems to me, PEOPLE turn a blind eye to their own humanity by neglecting ecological, social, and economic cancers on the planet

    and sometimes these terrible disasters are a kick in the head to get us to wake up and realize the reality behind the front on display.

    My 2cents.

  • VoidEater

    I wish someone would interact with my post on page one.

    OK! The post seems to deal with the issue of "omnipotence" and quickly transition into a supposition of why God, an omnipotent being, would choose to not make use of his great power. There are some presumed underlying comments that seem to assign a moralistic framework to God's sensibilities that are not made evident (e.g., justice), but that's not the main thrust.

    1. Y is absolutely omnipotent means that Y "can do everything absolutely. Everything that can be expressed in a string of words even if it can be shown to be self-contradictory," Y "is not bound in action, as we are in thought by the laws of logic."[9] This position is advanced by Descartes. It has the theological advantage of making God prior to the laws of logic, but the theological disadvantage of making God's promises suspect. On this account, the omnipotence paradox is a genuine paradox, but genuine paradoxes might nonetheless be so.

    I think this equates to the premise that God can do anything imaginable. Corollaries include that God is not limited by anything.

    2. Y is omnipotent means "Y can do X" is true if and only if X is a logically consistent description of a state of affairs. This position was once advocated by Thomas Aquinas.[11] This definition of omnipotence solves some of the paradoxes associated with omnipotence, but some modern formulations of the paradox still work against this definition. Let X = "to make something that its maker cannot lift". As Mavrodes points out there is nothing logically contradictory about this; a man could, for example, make a boat which he could not lift.[12] It would be strange if humans could accomplish this feat, but an omnipotent being could not. Additionally, this definition has problems when X is morally or physically untenable for a being like God.

    I think this equates to the premise that God can do anything that is observed. It seems to not speak to possibility (of things not yet observed or not observable), which is tidy. By this definition, God could logically be argued to not exist (not being directly observable, there is no "logically consistent description" of Him). It does not speak to the morality or physicality of God, which is actually rather more freeing than being problemmatic in this particular conversation.

    3. Y is omnipotent means "Y can do X" is true if and only if "Y does X" is logically consistent. Here the idea is to exclude actions which would be inconsistent for Y to do but might be consistent for others. Again sometimes it looks as if Aquinas takes this position.[13] Here Mavrodes' worry about X= "to make something its maker cannot lift" will no longer be a problem because "God does X" is not logically consistent. However, this account may still have problems with moral issues like X = "tells a lie" or temporal issues like X = "brings it about that Rome was never founded."[9]

    Since the very existance of God is at question, what He may or may not logically do is moot. We need a range of premises not put into evidence to effectively engage with this.

    4. Y is omnipotent means whenever "Y will bring about X" is logically possible, then "Y can bring about X" is true. This sense, also does not allow the paradox of omnipotence to arise, and unlike definition #3 avoids any temporal worries about whether or not an omnipotent being could change the past. However, Geach criticizes even this sense of omnipotence as misunderstanding the nature of God's promises.[9]

    This becomes unwieldy. There is no basis to assert that God "will" do anything, therefore no basis to assert that God "can" do anything. It's a highly rarified view that, while an interesting approach, lacks a foundation in the practical.

    5. Y is almighty means that Y is not just more powerful than any creature; no creature can compete with Y in power, even unsuccessfully.[9] In this account nothing like the omnipotence paradox arises, but perhaps that is because God is not taken to be in any sense omnipotent. On the other hand, Anselm of Canterbury seems to think that almightiness is one of the things that makes God count as omnipotent.[14]

    "Cogito ergo Deus" is still the begging question. I think this premise could be stated "that which is most powerful happens to be God." Confessedly, however, though using logic as the engine, the fuel is still inspiration and imagination. I like Anselm, though I also like Gascoyne - wonderful surrealists both?

    If God ordained Free Will, he ordained a domain where he cannot act by definition.

    We've moved on to why an omnipotent God allows suffering. In essence, God set up a huge meat grinder but abstains from interaction (and perhaps responsibility?). Using Occam's Razor, it is simpler (and one might say more logical) to assert that a creator God has no will or interest regarding His creation, that God is absent, or that God is dead. We quickly run afoul of the purported care and justice of God, allowing him to create and then merely look upon His creation.

    The assertion of a "hands off" creation doesn't seem any more "logical" than any other possibility one might offer. Including that there is no God.

    It seems to me that it must be true that either God cannot or will not exert his power in the context of Free Will:

    (This coming from the premise that God ordained free will and does not/will not/cannot interfere with Man's exercise of free will - but I fear it may be equally logical to assert that God just doesn't care...).

    If cannot, because Free Will cannot be forced and remain Free or a Will at all---it is because it is a logical impossibility, and logic binds even God on this plane, and he cannot make a square circle.

    I bet God could make a square circle. It would merely "get round" through an extension into an additional dimension. ;-) Seriously, this is just boiling down to arbitrarily saying God places limits upon himself. It's the same as asserting He's unfathomable.

    If will not, it is because the violation of Free Will would be a greater evil than any suffering it would relieve. In which case we should be grateful despite doloris, as we live in the best of all possible worlds, in which we can be divine within our own domains of the Will. Perhaps even suffering has a salvific power that is not immediately evident to us, but I digress.

    Therefore, the conclusion seems to be that there are ways to define God's power, and ways to define God's setting up events to not exercise His power.

    Functionally, then, there is no need to posit God at all, omnipotent, almighty, or otherwise.

    If we assert God, we see a rationale for why He might not interfere, though this does not on the surface let Him off the hook for creating things as He did.

    Regarding natural evils, we only know how we would act in a given situation. If two men see a robbery in progress, and they vary among themselves in power, goodness and knowledge, it is reasonable to surmise that they will act differently. Let's assume equal power and goodness between the two characters but a variance in knowledge. The first man might know that he can easily wrestle the armed robber to the ground and defuse the threat. The second might know the same, but he also knows that the robber has a semtex belt and would choose to self detonate if he is physically restrained. The first man would take action, and the second would not.

    God certainly knows we have The Bomb, but is it reasonable to think that he fears man might become the ultimate suicide bomber should He choose to set things right?

    My point is that we cannot know how an omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being should act without being all these things ourselves. How does such a being respond to a natural evil like the Myanmar disaster? We cannot know that a OOO being would prevent such a thing, we cannot even know the probability of such an action. Only human hubris could assume to know such a thing. The OOO being knows about the semtex belt. The human cannot.

    Therefore: We can never understand God so don't even try. That is functionally the same as God might be evil, or God is drunk somewhere sleeping it off - interesting mental exercises, all equally valid, all having some degree of intellectual interest.

    Logically, from observable information, it is much simpler to say there is no God.

    The bizarre thing is that I agree with the conclusion: that any God that may be out is not causing nor salving disasters or pain.

    One difference is that BTS here goes through an exercise positing why a sentient (for lack of a better word) God would ignore suffering, while I posit a non-willed God that has no cognition of suffering.

    Another difference is that a sentient God is still culpable (in my human opinion) for setting up this place we call home, while a non-willed God didn't ever "do" anything.

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