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    Thread: The Problem of Non-God Objects

    1. #1
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      The Problem of Non-God Objects

      I didn't formulate this argument at all (I heard it presented by a co-host of the Reasonable Doubts podcast), but it appears to be solid. It looks like it's part of a similar vein of arguments revolving around the problem of omniscience and the problem of evil (see P3 and the justification for P2).

      The problem of non-God objects asserts that if God is a maximally great being against which nothing could hope to compare, then God would never create any Non-God Objects.

      This argument is aimed primarily at Anselmian conceptions of God or Perfect being Theology. Proponents of Perfect Being Theology typically assert that properties like knowledge, power, love etc. are properties contributing to greatness. So if a god exists and is a maximally great being, then it must have the maximum possible amount of these properties.

      Consider the concept of "GodWorld," a possible world in which God never actually creates anything. If we presume that that God exists, we can assume that GodWorld could exist, since the act of creating the universe (or any non-God object) was a choice that was not borne of necessity.

      Proposition P1: If the Christian God exists, then GodWorld is the unique best possible world.
      Proposition P2: If GodWorld is the unique best possible world, then the Christian God would maintain GodWorld.
      Proposition P3: GodWorld is false because the Universe (or any non-God object) exists.
      Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God, as so defined, does not exist.

      Thoughts? Critiques? Here are the justifications for the premises.

      Justifying P1

      If God exists, he is an ontologically perfect being - meaning he has those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. A world comprised of only the maximally-great being for eternity would be a world comprised of all those great-making properties to their maximal compossible degrees and no such properties to any lesser degree. Unless there is some source of unique Goodness - Goodness that exists outside of and fully independent of God, GodWorld must be the unique best possible world. GodWorld eternally sustains the highest overall ontological purity and, therefore, overall ontological quality to which no other world can compare, therefore it is the unique best possible world.

      Justifying P2

      An omniscient being would be aware of the fact that himself existing alone for eternity as GodWorld is the unique best possible world that could ever exist, and because God is essentially morally perfect, he couldn’t have a motivating reason to intentionally alter the overall maximal purity and, therefore, the quality of the unique best possible world - because any alteration in overall purity by the introduction of a universe or any Non-God object, would, by necessity, be a degradation of overall purity and, therefore, overall quality. God wouldn’t introduce limited entities each with their own unimpressive set of degraded great-making properties like the creation myth of Genesis records. While Adam and Eve clearly do have great-making properties (knowledge, power), they have them to an unimpressive degree and so introducing such beings would result in a degradation of overall ontological purity and, therefore, a degradation of overall ontological quality. To suggest God is in the degrading business is to suggest he wasn’t maximally great in the first place.

      Justifying P3

      P3 is the easiest of the three to justify. It can be justified merely by a simple recognition that you, yourself, are not God.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    2. #2
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      P3 has been questioned in the book "Discover the Power Within You" by Eric Butterworth. The premise of the book is that not only was Jesus an incarnation of God, but each of us is as well, most of us just do not appreciate the divine power within us. The author was a minister in the Unity Church, and the book sold over 250,000 copies. When I bought this book I did not expect to find the premise remotely convincing, but he had more interesting food for thought than I expected to find. So you see, P3 is not as easy as you may think.
      You may say I'm a dreamer.
      But I'm not the only one
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    3. #3
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      This is rather confusing, but I think the general idea is this:

      God is supposedly the highest and purest form of good. Thus, a universe (or lack thereof) where only he existed would be the purest and best. If God is morally pure, he would not create anything because it would degrade the overall purity and goodness of everything. However, such a universe (ours) exists. Therefore, God does not exist.

      Is that it?
      ERROR 404: SIGNATURE NOT FOUND

    4. #4
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      That all makes sense, Blueline976, as logically and semantically it should, but can I offer a very easy alternative: God is not perfect, omniscient, or omnipotent.

      Perhaps He is seeking that perfection, and His version of that process includes making imperfect universes that incubate creatures like us that, through our sentience, free will, and random acts of evil, He can expose Himself to novelties that might lead him closer to perfection.

      I was going to say more as this idea evolves in me, but I just realized that it runs counter to your OP's premise, and I don't want to go there again today...

    5. #5
      Sleeping Dragon juroara's Avatar
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      Oh boy, humans and their silly ideas of perfection

      My cat threw up on the patio, it was gross. And no it wasn't a hairball, it was a giant splat of undigested cat food. I was too lazy to hose it down.

      Here come the ants. They think its a party. I watch them happily eat kitty's vomit. Hours later the entire thing is gone with the trail of ants. Not a crumb was left behind.

      If ants could tell you what perfection is, they'd say undigested cat vomit. Can we try a little harder to reconsider what perfection really means?

      But I realize the bulk of this argument is a philosophical argument of why God does not exist. It can however be easily counter argued with this philosophy - There Are No Non-God Objects. That is a legitimate spiritual faith dating thousands of years already.

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by BLUELINE976 View Post
      Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God, as so defined, does not exist.
      I feel I should point this out to everyone. This argument only seeks to disprove God as described in the Bible.
      ERROR 404: SIGNATURE NOT FOUND

    7. #7
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      I still maintain that the argument does not actually mean god is imperfect, it really shows our own understanding (or lack thereof) of God's plan. Assuming God is perfect and all-knowing, then when he created us, he did so knowing full well how we were going to turn out and the actions we would each make in our lives, thus he knows where Humanity will eventually go. He has a reason for our existence, a purpose for us. I say he is showing his perfection by allowing us to live our lives and choose our own fate, deciding whether to believe in and love him, believe in and hate him, or not believe at all. He could very well force it upon us, but he doesn't. He has something planned for us, a reason he created us in the first place, despite knowing the evil acts we would be capable of--probably because he also knows the incredible acts of love and kindness and selflessness we are all capable of as well.
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    8. #8
      Xei
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      I don't find the justification of P1 very convincing. The justification for GodWorld being the best seems suspect already, but let's grant that for now. I don't see how the property of uniqueness is established. I'm fairly fatigued and so could be wrong, but I can't even see a real attempt at establishing this important fact.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheSilverWolf View Post
      I still maintain that the argument does not actually mean god is imperfect, it really shows our own understanding (or lack thereof) of God's plan. Assuming God is perfect and all-knowing, then when he created us, he did so knowing full well how we were going to turn out and the actions we would each make in our lives, thus he knows where Humanity will eventually go. He has a reason for our existence, a purpose for us. I say he is showing his perfection by allowing us to live our lives and choose our own fate, deciding whether to believe in and love him, believe in and hate him, or not believe at all. He could very well force it upon us, but he doesn't. He has something planned for us, a reason he created us in the first place, despite knowing the evil acts we would be capable of--probably because he also knows the incredible acts of love and kindness and selflessness we are all capable of as well.
      This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the argument actually presented in the OP.

    9. #9
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      A little more context by those who might be confused.

      J.P. Moreland:

      ”To say that God is perfect means that there is no possible world where he has his attributes to a greater degree… God is not the most loving being that happens to exist, he is the most loving being that could possibly exist so that God’s possessing the attribute of being loving is to a degree such that it is impossible for him to have it to a greater degree.”
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    10. #10
      Xei
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      I don't think anybody was confused by that. What about the hole in the argument?
      Last edited by Xei; 08-29-2013 at 04:22 PM. Reason: retarded spelling failure

    11. #11
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      The justification for GodWorld being the best seems suspect already, but let's grant that for now.
      I see how that justification can seem lacking, so here are the words of the guy who formulated the argument:

      I am NOT saying that because the things that exist in such a world are perfect, therefore the world itself is perfect. That's not the inference I'm drawing. Because to infer that something is true of the whole simply because it is true of the parts of the whole would be to commit the fallacy of composition and I have no interest in doing that. Rather, I am inferring that something is true of the whole because it is true of something identical to that whole. The possible world is identical to God, and if God is perfect, it follows that that possible world is perfect.

      Full video (audio) here if you want to hear him present the entire argument.

      I don't see how the property of uniqueness is established.
      I think uniqueness is established in the last part of the actual justification.

      GodWorld eternally sustains the highest overall ontological purity and, therefore, overall ontological quality to which no other world can compare, therefore it is the unique best possible world.

      If no other worlds can compare to the purity of GodWorld, then by definition GodWorld is uniquely the best. It's unique...it's THE best...Makes sense to me. Maybe I'm missing something?
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    12. #12
      Xei
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      Yeah, I think it's complete semantic nonsense. Why is it better to contain less stuff? This is the critical point of the argument and it's totally glossed over. It's sophistry... it's just messing about with vague meanings of the word "best".

    13. #13
      Terminally Out of Phase Descensus's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Why is it better to contain less stuff?
      Well,

      If we take God to be the ONLY instance of essential and absolute moral perfection, moral grounding and the standard of all possible value, then a world where there exists something ontologically distinct from God is a world where there exists something that isn’t morally or ontologically perfect. A world containing just one non-god object is a world whose overall quality can now be improved as it has been degraded. In GodWorld however, it simply makes no sense to talk about the improvement of absolute ontological perfection.
      The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended. - Frédéric Bastiat
      I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves. - Christopher Hitchens
      Formerly known as BLUELINE976

    14. #14
      Xei
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      Like I say... semantics. It's playing with words and doesn't refer to anything tangible. If you think about it in different ways you can get any conclusion you want.

      For example, are we supposed to think of having a room containing an object with infinity "goodness points", and then chucking in an object with 10 goodness points? Then we still have infinity goodness points, not fewer.

      Or are we supposed to think of a room with a bright light shining in it, and then building a connected room containing a dim light, resulting in a house which is on average dimmer than the original room?
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    15. #15
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      I am not convinced that a perfect being necessarily means that the best possible outcome is to not have any other non perfect beings aside from it. Imperfect beings do not necessarily impoverish a world. A world can be improved through diversity, even if some of that diversity is imperfect and messy. A perfect being could realize that diversity would be an improvement.

      I know that Hitler's genocides were justified by saying that population would be more perfect if the imperfect people were eliminated. However, many of us do not share that definition of perfection.
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      But I'm not the only one
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    16. #16
      Xei
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      Also, whether something is not "the best" being implies that it's an "imperfect being" is dubious and again feels like fluffy thinking.

    17. #17
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      I just read through all this again, and I still have the same question:

      All semantics and clever turns of logic aside (and I agree with Xei on this, they seem no more than clever turns of logic), why can't a Godworld exist within, beside, or metaphorically above the known universe?

      Just as we imperfect humans have hobbies where we might for instance create objects for entertainment or edification -- objects that by definition are less perfect than we are -- a perfect God may have chosen to allow imperfection in His universe, for whatever reasons (perhaps to stimulate the development of a new perfect being from all those sentient, free-willed imperfect creations). And yes, I see no reason to imagine that God might care to be entertained, and that He may even have cause to learn, or be surprised by things that He did not previously know -- to assume that just because God knows everything in our reality means he knows everything in his reality seems a bit arrogant.

      Also, He also may consider the entire universe as His model for perfection, regarding its individual parts (like us) with about as much interest a builder might regard a single nail.

      For that matter, the universe might be His engine for further creation, or, perhaps, it is simply an engine, fueling the glory of the godworld.

      It just seems to me now that the OP is simply too narrow in scope, by assuming God is bound to our limited definitions of the omni's and perfection, that God can only exist in one state or condition (iniquity, perfection, etc), and, above all, that just because during the "My god is better than your god" era of early civilizations some proud scribe announced that God is omniscient and omnipotent, eternal, perfect, etc, that it is the only way in which God may be defined. That simply doesn't make sense, nor does using our definitions and logic to "prove" that God cannot exist.

      So, though the arguments are very pretty, and filled with lots of well-connected words, I think their foundation is extremely unsound. If God had a reason for surrounding himself with imperfect objects, I'm sure he'd figure out how to do it.

      This sounded better in my head, but I'll leave it up anyway.
      Last edited by Sageous; 08-29-2013 at 10:21 PM.
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    18. #18
      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      All semantics and clever turns of logic aside (and I agree with Xei on this, they seem no more than clever turns of logic), why can't a Godworld exist within, beside, or metaphorically above the known universe?
      I don't think this is a problem... I think that this retort is just as semantically meaningless as the original argument. "The universe" here means everything which exists. Whatever "imperfection" means, it's pretty clear that God can't get rid of imperfection by just shoving it all into his garden shed. "Beside", "within", "above"... none of these words actually means anything. Existence is everything. You can't chop it into separate existences. That's just a sentence. It doesn't actually mean anything.
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    19. #19
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      Fine.

      It was not a retort, BTW; it was a question.

      Forgive me for inserting an opinion -- I hadn't realized it was subject to peer review. I believe I said known universe, clearly signifying that our limited knowledge of everything might just be exceeded by God's knowledge of everything. By limiting the scope of the universe, metaphorically stating above, below, etc, has plenty of meaning. I'm not sure how you missed that.

      Also. If you hadn't noticed yet, by any measure this entire conversation has no real meaning.
      Last edited by Sageous; 08-29-2013 at 10:58 PM.

    20. #20
      Xei
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      Wow Sageous, had a bad day? I thought you were mature enough to handle intellectual criticism. I wasn't trying to insult you, I was just disagreeing with you. This is the theological discussion subforum... you probably shouldn't be surprised by disagreements; nor should you be insulted by them.
      Last edited by Xei; 08-30-2013 at 12:12 AM.

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