On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
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14-03-2017, 06:57 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 05:45 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  This is something I've been tinkering with off-and-on, and I thought I'd share it for whatever it's worth. It's my own approach to the presupposition of God's goodness based on formal logic.

One of the theistic fallacies that's always seemed especially obvious to me is the circularity of arguing that any particular passage that makes God look less than perfectly virtuous must be either figurative or taken out of context. The question that we immediately want to ask is, for instance, "Well, how do you know that the Levitican condemnation of homosexuality is literal but the genocide of Noah's flood is figurative?" The typical response is something to the effect of, "Well, God is good, so he would never commit actual genocide." If asked how they know God is not genocidal, the theist often refers back to the Bible, bringing us right back to square one, even if we skeptics are the only ones who actually realize that we're back at square one.

Whenever we ask how theists know which passages are straightforward and which ones are not, the theists often evade or miss the underlying point being made, so this quasi-syllogism is my attempt to make that point more explicit. As you can see, the final conclusion is already presupposed in the initial premises, which is a textbook case of question-begging.

P1: God is purely and absolutely good.
P2: The Bible (or Koran, etc) accurately portrays God's nature.
C1: Any biblical passage that would cast doubt on God's infallible virtue if interpreted literally must be interpreted figuratively and/or re-contextualized.
P3: Given C1, there can be no biblical passage of which the correct and properly contextualized interpretation casts doubt on God's infallible virtue.
C2: Given P2 and P3, God is purely and absolutely good.

Since "God's infallible virtue" is synonymous with P1 being true, we can substitute P1 into the rest of the argument, and the fallacy becomes even clearer.

P1: God is purely and absolutely good.
P2: The Bible (or Koran, etc) accurately portrays God's nature.
C1: Any biblical passage that would cast doubt on P1 if interpreted literally must be interpreted figuratively and/or re-contextualized.
P3: Given C1, there can be no biblical passage of which the correct and properly contextualized interpretation casts doubt on P1.
C2: Given P2 and P3, P1.

The problem, of course, is that theists baldly presuppose P1 and use that assumption to guide their interpretation of scripture. I don't think it ever occurs to the typical theist that P1 itself needs justification until and unless they're confronted by a non-believer. So when they are finally challenged to justify it, I don't think they really know any other way to do so besides appealing to how they interpret scripture. In a sense, they have no choice but to be circular.

I've realized that Christianity is a post-hoc rationalizing religion. This fallacy is practiced in the bible, for example- why did the Babylonians kick our asses and end our nation? Because we were bad and god was punishing us.

Fast forward to new testament- why did your alleged messiah get himself killed and humiliated when Jewish prophecies stated he would rule over all of the nations? Because he ascended to heaven and is ruling at the right hand of his father, and he'll come back at some future date and rule over the nations.

It's a pattern that repeats itself over and over in the bible, post-hoc rationalizations permeate the mythology and post-hoc rationalization is taught formally under the guise of hermeneutics. If something is pointed out that is bad in the bible, simply pick your translation of words to construct your rationalization around the criticism.

You live, breath, meditate and study the art of post-hoc rationalization in this religion.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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14-03-2017, 08:01 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 06:18 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Isaiah 45:7
God is the self proclaimed creator of evil.

Depending on which version you want to use and I think this version suits me fine.

If they want to cherry pick the verses they like, I'll cherry pick the versions of the bible.
In an argument, I can even make up versions that don't even exist and they won't know the difference.

"In the early hemispheric texts, it clearly says the exact opposite of your translation. God was never seen as a good deity until the more recent versions came along despite the clear genocidal stories like the ones written in the plastocene era."

Don't you agree ?

I would agree, in fact I love this entire thread and all the comments on it so far that I've read.

I would like to point out that there are a special sect of religious folk that are pretty ok with a god that we would be well justified as being evil. Their definition of right and wrong is based on what their god defines as right and wrong. These are the folks you sometimes hear saying that raping and/or murdering children is ok. I forget the exact verse but I've heard a number of very bad apologetics try and justify it as being ok because god ordered it (they often follow it by trying to say "in the context of") which of course any reasonable person would consider reprehensible. I'm just saying that while all of this is true about many, there are still even more extreme positions out there where these arguments, and analysis will fall flat on, and it can often be hard to know which kind of believer you're dealing with.

DLJ Wrote:And, yes, the principle of freedom of expression works both ways... if someone starts shit, better shit is the best counter-argument.
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14-03-2017, 08:27 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
Asking the general question of what is good:

In the abstract, that which possesses the property of being good, is that which we ought to desire. (Yes, goodness is an ought rather than an is.) This covers quality of the object (a good computer) as well as morality (good behavior) character (a good person), and so on.

WHAT we ought to desire, and hence what counts as good or not-good, is a subject for extensive disagreement. Just like any "ought" claim.

If a particular theistic world view holds that God is the source of all oughts, it could easily thereby define God as the origin and definition of all goodness. (And possibly badness.)
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14-03-2017, 08:40 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 06:23 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(14-03-2017 05:45 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  P1: God is purely and absolutely good.
(14-03-2017 06:09 PM)mordant Wrote:  P1 is so compelling to Abrahamic theists because it's really the main value proposition of their religious faith.

Is this true? Jews and Muslims too?
I am probably being too kind. Christianity pushes omnibenvolence more than Islam in practice from what I've seen. "Allah loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" is not exactly what you'd find in a fundamentalist Muslim tract. On the other hand the Quran does say, e.g., "Limitless is your Lord in His mercy". Among the appelations of god in Islam are "the Compassionate", "the Loving", "the Forbearing One", "the Most Gracious", etc.
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14-03-2017, 10:56 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
On a more fundamental level the entire argument presupposes God. Precious little point in trying to show that "God is good" if you can't even demonstrate that "God is."

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14-03-2017, 11:02 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 06:09 PM)mordant Wrote:  P1

Is that a new text messaging method for the word, pun? Huh

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14-03-2017, 11:08 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 11:02 PM)Banjo Wrote:  
(14-03-2017 06:09 PM)mordant Wrote:  P1

Is that a new text messaging method for the word, pun? Huh

It's an abbreviation for "Premise #1," a shorthand for presenting syllogistic arguments. The 'C' stands for "Conclusion."

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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14-03-2017, 11:10 PM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 11:08 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  
(14-03-2017 11:02 PM)Banjo Wrote:  Is that a new text messaging method for the word, pun? Huh

It's an abbreviation for "Premise #1," a shorthand for presenting syllogistic arguments. The 'C' stands for "Conclusion."

In Australia, C, stands for something else entirely. Sadcryface

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15-03-2017, 01:16 AM (This post was last modified: 15-03-2017 02:54 AM by Cheerful Charlie.)
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
(14-03-2017 06:38 PM)Alla Wrote:  P1: God is purely and absolutely good.
My question: What is "good"?

Christian do represent God as being good, perfectly good

But then there are problems. Various verses of the Bible support the claim God's goodness has sub-goondesses. God is just, God is fair, God is merciful, God's judgments are righteous, God is compassionate and others.

But the actions of God in the Bible are none of those things. Romans claims God, the Great Potter, makes some vessels to honor, some to dishonor. Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated. Got decides from the beginning of time who will be the elect and saved, and who will not. And so on. Which is not merciful, just or compassionate.

We have some deep contradictions here. I call this the sub-goodness argument, the Bible does not support the concept that God is good by it's own internal claims about God's moral qualities.

Nor is the Bible ambiguous as to what these sub-goodnesses mean.

I have had Christian play the old God is incomprehensible and inscrutable move on me, trying to argue that the term Good is not something we mortals can judge when discussing God, but the sub-goodness argument blows that away by pointing out the sub-goodness attributes God supposedly has. If God is not merciful, just or compassionate, he cannot be said to be good.

I object to that intellectual nihilistic attempt to strip the word good of meaning to save appearances. To pretend with God "good" is some mysterious quality we cannot judge.

If God decides Jane is of the elect and will be saved, but John is not, and will be damned, arbitrarily and not based on "works", God is not just, merciful, compassionate, loving and thus is not good. End of argument.

And if one argues for divine command theory, God is amoral, not moral at all. Most certainly not compassionate, merciful, just or fair.

As an atheist, I will on this issue hold Christian apologists feet to the fire here. Good means good with all the explicit Biblical sub-goodness god has, it's not a word I will allow them to redefine to avoid the issue of God's lack of sub-goodnesses.

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

Cheerful Charlie
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15-03-2017, 01:27 AM
RE: On the Circularity of Presupposing God's Goodness
If god is indeed incomprehensible, then it's ludicrous to say that it is "good". We would have no idea about its intentions.

People want an imaginary friend, so the friend has to be nice. Or at least, to be aligned with their personal bigotries.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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