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fellside

Why Early Christians Would Die for a Lie

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These days I am teaching high school math (trying to teach it anyway - boy is it hard to help some kids grasp this stuff some days) in wine country and loving it.

That sounds really, really nice. I'd love to have a stable job in a nice part of the country. But the philosophy job market has me moving around the country...

Also, I am trying to convince the school where I work to let me teach a logic class next year, which would be super fun (I know I am a dork).
If you google my name, you'll find my academic website. And there's a link there to the course website for the logic class I've taught a couple of times. And if you email me, I can send you lots of electronic copies of logic textbooks that I have.

How is teaching going for you, buddy? Do you get much time to research / write? Can I expect a copy of your Presence at a Distance paper in a journal anytime soon (or hook me up with an email even? ;) )? I read an abstract of it somewhere, and it sounded fascinating.
Well, you can find some papers on my academic website. I've had some pretty good luck publishing so far. "Presence at a Distance" still needs some work...

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If God did not want mankind to fall into sinful chaos and destruction, an easy step would be to get rid of the tree and do something with that pesky snake as well. I don't know how anyone can argue that God didn't want the fall to happen when he made it so easy for such (apparently foolish) people to sin.

I think we might have reached a bedrock disagreement. I agree that God foresaw the Fall, and permitted it with an eye towards greater goods that would be accomplished by it. He willingly permitted it. You'd like to say that he therefore wanted it to happen. Alright, so long as we're clear on what we mean here by "wanting," we can agree: God foresaw the Fall, and willingly permitted it with an eye towards the greater goods it would accomplish.

The question, though, is whether God is somehow blameworthy for this. Whether he did something immoral in this. I don't think he did. Merely foreseeing and permitting a bad consequence of an action doesn't make that action immoral. My daughter, again. And the dentist, again.

I don't think that "permit" is a strong enough word considering the circumstances that God set up. Genesis looks more like a trap than a cosmic accident of free will.

Something I've been meaning to mention for a while is that it's always open to you to read this bit of Genesis as cosmogony, which I believe it was. Everything that it intends to teach is true, but perhaps it was not intended to teach that there really was a tree, a garden, a snake, etc. In its structure and content, Genesis 1-3 look most clearly like a rejoinder to other Ancient Near East cosmogonies, e.g. the Enuma Elish. I'm of the opinion that that's how the original audience would have heard it.

That might solve a lot of your problems with Genesis, for what it's worth.

In any event, I don't think the story sounds like the Garden was a trap. Adam and Eve were adults. Fully rational, fully responsible. Read from a purely objective standpoint, they both did something seriously irrational. The guy who you know created you and everything else tells you not to eat the fruit. That should pretty much be case closed. Some weirdo snake comes up and says "Psshh, don't listen to him. Listen to me, the talking snake you've never met." To go in for that is pretty inexcusable. Now, had God allowed the snake to look and act like God, so that Adam and Eve thought God himself encouraged them to eat the fruit, that would be substantially different. That would look more like entrapment.

If your daughter eating chocolate ice cream would lead to the eternal suffering of billions of people and YOU left her locked in a room with chocolate ice cream and a talking dog hell bent on getting her to eat it... I think that would make you at worst immoral and at least guilty of some sort of neglect.

That's probably right. But let's not put the daughter example to uses it wasn't meant for. I presented having my daughter as an example of an action I performed which wasn't immoral, even though I foresaw that it would lead to evil. That's all the example was meant to show: even if God permitted something to happen that he foresaw would lead to evil consequences, that all by itself doesn't show that God did something immoral.

So reflecting on our own relationships with our children can shed some light on God's relationship with us. But of course there's a large disanalogy: we're not children, we're adults. We're rational and responsible in a way that little kids aren't. So locking my little daughter in a room with ice cream isn't really on a par with what Genesis says God did to Adam and Eve, if only because Adam and Eve were rational and morally responsible in ways that kids aren't.

Also, as far as I know Adam and Eve weren't locked in the Garden (plausibly they wouldn't want to leave, even if they could). And though the fruit on that tree looked really good, it's not as though that was the only fruit around. They could have eaten from any other tree in the Garden. So, again, it doesn't look like they were coerced, or tricked, or trapped. So I'm still not seeing how God did something immoral on the pages of Genesis.

If it took you 4,000 years to solve the problem of your daughter eating chocolate ice cream, would it still have made more sense to simply make it harder for your daughter to eat chocolate ice cream in the first place?

Yes, if God intended only to solve a problem created by the Fall, it seems like an awful waste of time. Like intentionally allowing a pipe to break and flood the basement, only so that one could fix the pipe and drain the basement. That might be pretty dumb, I think. But I think the view of most Christian theologians is that the Fall allowed for goods that could not have been accomplished otherwise. It allows us to end up better off than where we started. Heaven will contain people whose characters have been genuinely formed through trials and temptations, who developed virtue in the fires of pain and suffering. That couldn't have happened in Eden.

By the way, I think that eternal damnation is far worse than the luxury of having certain beneficial experiences.
That might be right. But that sounds like a reason to take universalism seriously, not a reason to give up Christianity. Maybe Paul was serious when he said that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. Lots of Christian philosophers these days are universalists, including Plantinga, Robert Kane, and Keith DeRose. And maybe Peter Van Inwagen.

I think things like the holocaust or the raping of Nanking are worse than the luxury of being able to see a deity walk on earth for 30 some odd years.
I think you're right. But I hope you don't think that I believe the only good accomplished by the Fall would be the good of watching Jesus walk around.

As for your answer on God's immutability, if God is not outside of time, how could he create time?
I don't know that he created time. I don't know if time is the sort of thing that could be created. But maybe that's just because I have no idea what time is...

If God did not create time and time is something that just goes back infinitely, then why couldn't an atheist just adopt the same view and say that the universe exists alongside time going back infinitely.

Maybe the universe is infinitely old. That would certainly defuse some cosmological arguments, like the Kalam. But many other cosmological arguments were designed with an infinitely old universe in mind. Aquinas, for example, wanted his cosmological arguments to work even supposing the universe was infinitely old.

But then again, maybe the Kalam could still work even if the universe were infinitely old. We still have good evidence that all matter and energy began to exist at the Big Bang, even if time never began. And we'd still wonder why that was so. Where'd all that stuff come from, and why?

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First of all I'd like to say I'm glad you're back and posting. You liven up the issues section a bit and it's always welcome to hear your informed thoughts on these things.

Also I really do appreciate the time and effort you put into this. There are days I wake up and wish I could call my family and tell them I believed in Christianity again. So I don't take the things you say lightly.

I think we might have reached a bedrock disagreement. I agree that God foresaw the Fall, and permitted it with an eye towards greater goods that would be accomplished by it. He willingly permitted it. You'd like to say that he therefore wanted it to happen. Alright, so long as we're clear on what we mean here by "wanting," we can agree: God foresaw the Fall, and willingly permitted it with an eye towards the greater goods it would accomplish.

I'm not arguing that because God foresaw the fall he therefore wanted it to happen. The Bible tells us that we judge peoples desires by their actions. So I'm following that same logic and applying it to God's actions. He created Eden, created a tree with forbidden fruit, commanded Adam not to eat it and allowed a deceiver to live with Adam and Eve. Those actions tell me that God's ultimate goal was for mankind to fall.

Would you at least agree with this statement: If God did not want the fall to happen, it would have been less likely to have taken place if he did not provide the opportunity (i.e. the tree, the command not to eat of it, and the deceiver).

Something I've been meaning to mention for a while is that it's always open to you to read this bit of Genesis as cosmogony, which I believe it was. Everything that it intends to teach is true, but perhaps it was not intended to teach that there really was a tree, a garden, a snake, etc. In its structure and content, Genesis 1-3 look most clearly like a rejoinder to other Ancient Near East cosmogonies, e.g. the Enuma Elish. I'm of the opinion that that's how the original audience would have heard it.

If you do not really believe that there was a tree, garden or snake, then what do you believe caused the fall of man?

Also, the words of Jesus and Paul in the New Testament make it seem as though those two believed Adam to be a real person. Would you agree that Adam was a real person but the garden was not?

In any event, I don't think the story sounds like the Garden was a trap. Adam and Eve were adults. Fully rational, fully responsible. Read from a purely objective standpoint, they both did something seriously irrational. The guy who you know created you and everything else tells you not to eat the fruit. That should pretty much be case closed. Some weirdo snake comes up and says "Psshh, don't listen to him. Listen to me, the talking snake you've never met." To go in for that is pretty inexcusable. Now, had God allowed the snake to look and act like God, so that Adam and Eve thought God himself encouraged them to eat the fruit, that would be substantially different. That would look more like entrapment.

Perhaps trap is too strong a word. But why make it that easy for the world to fall into rebellion? Why have the tree in the first place? I think you're saying God put the tree there to accomplish greater goods. I disagree that those goods outweigh the negatives of the fall.

That's probably right. But let's not put the daughter example to uses it wasn't meant for. I presented having my daughter as an example of an action I performed which wasn't immoral, even though I foresaw that it would lead to evil. That's all the example was meant to show: even if God permitted something to happen that he foresaw would lead to evil consequences, that all by itself doesn't show that God did something immoral.

Sorry I realize it didn't fit in the analogy you proposed. I just brought up another analogy and that was on the top of my head since you already mentioned it.

So reflecting on our own relationships with our children can shed some light on God's relationship with us. But of course there's a large disanalogy: we're not children, we're adults. We're rational and responsible in a way that little kids aren't. So locking my little daughter in a room with ice cream isn't really on a par with what Genesis says God did to Adam and Eve, if only because Adam and Eve were rational and morally responsible in ways that kids aren't.

Adam and Eve read very much like children. Like children they didn't have the experiences an adult would have. Like children they weren't aware of things like nakedness. Like children they were expected to obey despite not being taught properly on the consequences of their actions. Despite the fact that they were blameless in God's eyes at the time, they appear to be two of the worst possible individuals to put the fate of all humanity in. Unless of course God wanted them to sin so that he could accomplish a greater good.

Also, as far as I know Adam and Eve weren't locked in the Garden (plausibly they wouldn't want to leave, even if they could). And though the fruit on that tree looked really good, it's not as though that was the only fruit around. They could have eaten from any other tree in the Garden. So, again, it doesn't look like they were coerced, or tricked, or trapped. So I'm still not seeing how God did something immoral on the pages of Genesis.

The point of using the analogy of locking the daughter in the room is to emphasize that God put the temptation right in front of his children. He didn't put the tree outside Eden and tell them not to go looking for it. He just put it where they lived and told them not to eat it.

And again, the question of whether God did something immoral on the pages of Genesis has to include the consequences of the fall. We're not simply discussing the eating habits of Adam or the desire to eat chocolate ice cream. We're talking about all the suffering this planet has ever seen. God put all of that suffering on the table simply by placing a tree in the Garden of Eden. Despite the fact that you can say (by somewhat of a formality) that God did not cause human suffering, I think you would have to say he didn't go to great lengths to prevent it.

Would you at least agree with this: If God had no intentions of a greater good (the incarnation, the atonement, making human experience credible in the afterlife, etc) then his actions at the Garden of Eden were immoral? I think your next comment below confirms this but I want to make sure.

Yes, if God intended only to solve a problem created by the Fall, it seems like an awful waste of time. Like intentionally allowing a pipe to break and flood the basement, only so that one could fix the pipe and drain the basement. That might be pretty dumb, I think. But I think the view of most Christian theologians is that the Fall allowed for goods that could not have been accomplished otherwise. It allows us to end up better off than where we started. Heaven will contain people whose characters have been genuinely formed through trials and temptations, who developed virtue in the fires of pain and suffering. That couldn't have happened in Eden.

You say that if God intentionally allowed something to happen only to solve it, that would be a waste of time. Would you go one step further and say that such would be immoral? If we can agree on this then we can move on to the next part: How the fall allows for greater things that could not have happened otherwise.

That might be right. But that sounds like a reason to take universalism seriously, not a reason to give up Christianity. Maybe Paul was serious when he said that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. Lots of Christian philosophers these days are universalists, including Plantinga, Robert Kane, and Keith DeRose. And maybe Peter Van Inwagen.

Perhaps we can cross that road when we get there. But there do seem to be an awful lot of references to eternal suffering in the Bible. I can imagine one believing in the inerrancy of scripture and believing something like annihilationism. But universalism seems pretty unlikely.

But I will say that this thing we're discussing isn't my only reason for giving up Christianity rather than looking towards other answers within Christendom like universalism. But as you said, it will be nice to discuss those things later on. Better to deal with things one at a time.

I think you're right. But I hope you don't think that I believe the only good accomplished by the Fall would be the good of watching Jesus walk around.

I'm just saying I think a lot of your argument is going rely on having people in heaven with real trials and temptations. Because the incarnation could have happened apart from the fall and the atonement is simply fixing the problem that God allowed to happen in the first place.

I don't know that he created time. I don't know if time is the sort of thing that could be created. But maybe that's just because I have no idea what time is...

Maybe the universe is infinitely old. That would certainly defuse some cosmological arguments, like the Kalam. But many other cosmological arguments were designed with an infinitely old universe in mind. Aquinas, for example, wanted his cosmological arguments to work even supposing the universe was infinitely old.

But then again, maybe the Kalam could still work even if the universe were infinitely old. We still have good evidence that all matter and energy began to exist at the Big Bang, even if time never began. And we'd still wonder why that was so. Where'd all that stuff come from, and why?

Fair enough. Time is certainly a head twister.

Edited by fellside

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The question, though, is whether God is somehow blameworthy for this. Whether he did something immoral in this. I don't think he did. Merely foreseeing and permitting a bad consequence of an action doesn't make that action immoral.

I don't know if I agree, and our legal system in the US views this differently.

In California, a person is liable for child endangerment if the person: 1) places a child in a dangerous situation, or 2) allows a child to be placed in a dangerous situation without taking steps to protect the child.

Note, an individual may be liable for child endangerment even when the child suffers no actual injury.

Here, God placed Adam and Eve (1 John 3:2 - "Dear friends, now we are children of God") in the garden with the forbidden tree, and with a snake hell-bent on getting them to eat from the tree. This sounds like as dangerous a situation as any, given what was at stake - the fall of mankind. And rather than take steps to protect Adam and Eve, God permitted a snake to roam around in the garden to try and convince them to eat from the tree.

Sounds like a case for child endangerment.

And under a tort law negligence claim (it's not necessary for me to run through a detailed analysis of every element of a negligence claim here), one is negligent if he or she fails to exercise due care to avoid injury. In general, people have a duty to exercise due care when they act to create a risk. To show breach of duty, it must be reasonably foreseeable that the accident/event would occur by the defendant's action(s).

With respect to duty, a person has a duty of care to avoid foreseeable harm to likely victims.

Was the harm foreseeable? The harm was arguably foreseeable. People tend to be tempted to do things which they are not supposed to do, particularly when there is outside influence. And as fellside explained, Adam and Eve were adults, but fairly childlike in nature. Therefore it was foreseeable that Adam and Eve would eat from the tree.

Were Adam and Eve likely victims? See as they were the only people in the garden, and the snake was targeting them, they were arguably likely victims.

Did God create the risk? By placing the talking snake in the garden and allowing it to roam around unfettered, one can reasonably conclude that God created the risk.

Our legal system would seem inclined to hold God blameworthy for this. It's ultimately irrelevant, however, because God will not be judged, we will.

By the way, although I'm not a Christian, I'm on your side of the argument here.

Edited by Jainn

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The Bible tells us that we judge peoples desires by their actions. So I'm following that same logic and applying it to God's actions. He created Eden, created a tree with forbidden fruit, commanded Adam not to eat it and allowed a deceiver to live with Adam and Eve. Those actions tell me that God's ultimate goal was for mankind to fall.

Well, you might consider also how much more God could have done, had he really wanted the Fall to happen. He could have planted not one but one thousand forbidden trees (cleverly disguised to look like permitted trees). He could have permitted not one but one thousand talking snakes. He could have permitted the snake to resemble himself, rather than a suspicious looking snake. He could have gotten Adam and Eve a little tipsy. Etc., etc. God certainly could have done these things; he's omnipotent, after all.

So you *may* be right that the evidence you point to confirms the God-wanted-the-Fall hypothesis. But there is other evidence which counts against that hypothesis. And it seems to me that the evidence against the God-wanted-the-Fall hypothesis outweighs the evidence for it.

And, again, even if we were to prove the God-wanted-the-Fall hypothesis, it doesn't follow that God did anything morally blameworthy here.

If you do not really believe that there was a tree, garden or snake, then what do you believe caused the fall of man?
Sin, I suppose. You don't need the tree, the garden, or the snake for sin. You just need immoral decisions.

Also, the words of Jesus and Paul in the New Testament make it seem as though those two believed Adam to be a real person. Would you agree that Adam was a real person but the garden was not?

I'm inclined to think there was a first man and a first woman. My understanding is that's scientifically defensible.

But why make it that easy for the world to fall into rebellion? Why have the tree in the first place? I think you're saying God put the tree there to accomplish greater goods. I disagree that those goods outweigh the negatives of the fall.

Well, try to look at the big picture, and keep in mind that our fallen state will be an infinitely small fraction of our existence in the long (long, long) run. And if you add a generous view of salvation (or even full-blown universalism), it looks even less like the cons outweigh the pros.

Despite the fact that you can say (by somewhat of a formality) that God did not cause human suffering, I think you would have to say he didn't go to great lengths to prevent it.
That's true, he easily could have prevented it. But, again, I think the incarnation, the atonement, and allowing us to be creditable for our perfected characters in heaven were worth it. Well worth it. Especially, again, when you consider that the new Earth described in Revelation will last *forever*. All this suffering is just a (relatively) brief labor pain, though it certainly seems intense while we go through it.

If God had no intentions of a greater good (the incarnation, the atonement, making human experience credible in the afterlife, etc) then his actions at the Garden of Eden were immoral? I think your next comment below confirms this but I want to make sure.
That's not very clear to me. I'll have to think about it some more. I guess right now I'm inclined to say no, God's actions wouldn't be immoral even then. He gave Adam and Eve very clear instructions. They were rational adults. They knew they were doing something wrong. Sure seems like it's their fault, not God's. Edited by anreizen

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JAINN:

In California, a person is liable for child endangerment if the person: 1) places a child in a dangerous situation, or 2) allows a child to be placed in a dangerous situation without taking steps to protect the child.

Note, an individual may be liable for child endangerment even when the child suffers no actual injury.

Here, God placed Adam and Eve (1 John 3:2 - "Dear friends, now we are children of God") in the garden with the forbidden tree, and with a snake hell-bent on getting them to eat from the tree. This sounds like as dangerous a situation as any, given what was at stake - the fall of mankind. And rather than take steps to protect Adam and Eve, God permitted a snake to roam around in the garden to try and convince them to eat from the tree.

Sounds like a case for child endangerment.

Well, of course there are multiple senses of "child." Here are the two relevant ones:

child   [chahyld]

noun

1. person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl

2. a son or daughter

Someone can be guilty of child endangerment only with respect to people who meet the first definition. But we are (and Adam and Eve at the time of the Fall were) "children of God" only on the second definition.

So what happened to Adam and Eve, two full-grown adults, just cannot be child endangerment in the relevant sense.

one is negligent if he or she fails to exercise due care to avoid injury. In general, people have a duty to exercise due care when they act to create a risk. To show breach of duty, it must be reasonably foreseeable that the accident/event would occur by the defendant's action(s).

With respect to duty, a person has a duty of care to avoid foreseeable harm to likely victims.

This seems like a pretty bad definition of criminal negligence. (So much the worse for California tort law, I guess.)

The death penalty is still legal in California, right? Well then it seems like anyone who executed a criminal in California would be guilty of criminal negligence. The executioner fails to exercise due care to avoid injury. The executioner acts to create a risk (injecting the criminal with deadly substances), and it's foreseeable that the injury would occur by these actions.

And this probably goes with any member of the criminal justice system who executes a sentence that leads to injury. Like handcuffing, solitary confinement, imprisonment, etc.

Also, it looks like every parent is guilty of criminal negligence on this definition, just in virtue of being parents. For it's no doubt foreseeable that some injury or other will occur in a child's future. And parents create this risk for the child by creating the child. And parents don't try to stop the creation of the child; indeed, many of them intentionally create children.

So, again, this definition looks pretty bad. (Let me know if I'm missing something though! I've had to write this in haste.)

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Well, you might consider also how much more God could have done, had he really wanted the Fall to happen. He could have planted not one but one thousand forbidden trees (cleverly disguised to look like permitted trees). He could have permitted not one but one thousand talking snakes. He could have permitted the snake to resemble himself, rather than a suspicious looking snake. He could have gotten Adam and Eve a little tipsy. Etc., etc. God certainly could have done these things; he's omnipotent, after all.

So you *may* be right that the evidence you point to confirms the God-wanted-the-Fall hypothesis. But there is other evidence which counts against that hypothesis. And it seems to me that the evidence against the God-wanted-the-Fall hypothesis outweighs the evidence for it.

This doesn't make any sense to me. If I bring to you evidence that your defendent committed a murder and you respond by adding all of the hypothetical things the defendant could have done if he wanted to commit murder, it doesn't refute or even speak to the original evidence.

That God could have done even more to bring about the Fall says nothing to what he actually did do to bring about the Fall. God created Eden in such a way that the Fall was at least probable and at worst inevitable. As rational as you say Adam and Eve were, the Bible itself admits that they were foolishly innocent. They had no real experience of decision making and knew very little of the consequences of their actions.

Also it looks as though you're making two contradictory arguments. On the one hand you say God did not want the Fall to happen. On the other hand you say that the Fall needed to happen for all of these good things to take place. If God did not want the Fall to happen, then he did not want all of those positive byproducts to happen either. If God did not want Adam and Eve to sin, that means he wanted to continue having a blissful relationship with them in Eden. He did not want them to have a credible perfect state without trials and sufferings. He did not want the atonement to happen.

I don't see how you can hold on to both of these arguments. If you want to say that the Fall was good for mankind, you should also argue that God wanted it to happen.

Sin, I suppose. You don't need the tree, the garden, or the snake for sin. You just need immoral decisions.

And why do these immoral decisions lead to children being born sinful? Surely you believe it is immoral to punish children because of their parents actions. How is it not immoral for God to carry the burden of sin past the guilty party?

I'm inclined to think there was a first man and a first woman. My understanding is that's scientifically defensible.

The Bible doesn't just speak of a first man and a first woman and a symbolic story. It gives a very specific geneology from Adam all the way to Abraham and beyond. If Genesis 2 is not intended to be history, why have a geneology?

Well, try to look at the big picture, and keep in mind that our fallen state will be an infinitely small fraction of our existence in the long (long, long) run. And if you add a generous view of salvation (or even full-blown universalism), it looks even less like the cons outweigh the pros.

I think you will have a great problem adding either a generous view of salvation or universalism.

In Matthew 25 Jesus says that many follow the path to destruction and few follow the path to life. Revelation 20 goes in great detail to explain those in the book of life and those in the book of death who will be thrown into the lake of fire. 2 Thess 1:9 says that people will be punished with eternal suffering. Jude 6 speaks of eternal punishment.

You say that we should compare our temporary suffering to the long run and see how small a fraction it is. What about comparing the eternal bliss of the few to the eternal suffering of the many? To me, eternal punishment is worse than anything that has happened on this planet. Punishing someone eternally for temporal crimes is unfair and cruel. And to suffer forever is worse than to suffer for a moment. So sending people to Hell is worse than killing 6 Million Jews. It's worse than torturing your enemy. It is the most awful thing that can be done.

To argue that it is just a necessary byproduct so that people can be even happier and better off than Adam was in his utopia... that's awful.

And that is exactly what Paul does. His argument is very similar to yours:

Romans 9:22-23 "22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory"

That's true, he easily could have prevented it. But, again, I think the incarnation, the atonement, and allowing us to be creditable for our perfected characters in heaven were worth it. Well worth it. Especially, again, when you consider that the new Earth described in Revelation will last *forever*. All this suffering is just a (relatively) brief labor pain, though it certainly seems intense while we go through it.

For those select few who get there. The vast majority who end up in Hell would clearly disagree with you.

That's not very clear to me. I'll have to think about it some more. I guess right now I'm inclined to say no, God's actions wouldn't be immoral even then. He gave Adam and Eve very clear instructions. They were rational adults. They knew they were doing something wrong. Sure seems like it's their fault, not God's.

At the very least I think God would have had a moral obligation to either start over with mankind or end the race entirely. Leaving the suffering and destruction of billions of people up to a pointless tree is cruel.

Edited by fellside

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Well, of course there are multiple senses of "child." Here are the two relevant ones:

child   [chahyld]

noun

1. person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl

2. a son or daughter

Someone can be guilty of child endangerment only with respect to people who meet the first definition. But we are (and Adam and Eve at the time of the Fall were) "children of God" only on the second definition.

So what happened to Adam and Eve, two full-grown adults, just cannot be child endangerment in the relevant sense.

But it is, given how childlike Adam and Eve were. Fellside already addressed this, but Adam and Eve didn't have the life experiences that a full-grown adult would have had. They had no real sense of consequence, because they had never experienced it. Adam and Eve knew they were not supposed to eat from the tree, but they were unaware of the exact consequences of eating from the tree, and they had a talking snake telling them it would be awesome and delicious and an otherwise great idea.

They behaved similarly to how a child would have had you instructed them not to touch the pan on a stovetop "because it's hot" (except here, the child doesn't have a talking animal telling them that touching the hot pan is a great idea).

This seems like a pretty bad definition of criminal negligence. (So much the worse for California tort law, I guess.)

The death penalty is still legal in California, right? Well then it seems like anyone who executed a criminal in California would be guilty of criminal negligence. The executioner fails to exercise due care to avoid injury. The executioner acts to create a risk (injecting the criminal with deadly substances), and it's foreseeable that the injury would occur by these actions.

And this probably goes with any member of the criminal justice system who executes a sentence that leads to injury. Like handcuffing, solitary confinement, imprisonment, etc.

That's because it's not a definition for criminal negligence, but for tort negligence.

At any rate, an executioner who executes a criminal (though it's never just one person, as there are multiple people involved in the process) does not commit a statutorily-recognized crime or tort.

Also, it looks like every parent is guilty of criminal negligence on this definition, just in virtue of being parents. For it's no doubt foreseeable that some injury or other will occur in a child's future. And parents create this risk for the child by creating the child. And parents don't try to stop the creation of the child; indeed, many of them intentionally create children.

So, again, this definition looks pretty bad. (Let me know if I'm missing something though! I've had to write this in haste.)

Again, that's a definitiion for tort negligence.

Your objections wouldn't work under tort negligence anyway, because the link between the cause (the parents creating the child) and the effect (the child suffering some unspecified future injury) is too attenuated.

Edited by Jainn

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So what happened to Adam and Eve, two full-grown adults, just cannot be child endangerment in the relevant sense.

But it is, given how childlike Adam and Eve were.

Are you telling me that an adult can be a victim of child endangerment?

Adam and Eve didn't have the life experiences that a full-grown adult would have had.

They were full grown adults. So whatever experiences they had were exactly the sort of experiences a full grown adult would have had.

They had no real sense of consequence, because they had never experienced it.

Well surely they had experienced some consequences of their actions before. They pet a cute dog, and it felt soft. They walked off the edge of a rock, and they fell to the ground. They knew that actions had consequences. And they were explicitly told what the consequences of eating from the tree would be.

Sure, they had never experienced those consequences for themselves, but that doesn't exculpate them. That defense wouldn't work in a criminal trial, for example. "Your honor, I don't deserve to go to prison for murder. Sure, I knew that murderers go to prison when I committed the murder, I freely admit that I committed the murder, and I understand what murder is. But I couldn't really understand the consequence of my action when I performed the action since I myself have never been to prison. Therefore, it would be immoral for you to send me to prison."

I'm guessing that wouldn't fly. But then why think it flies in the case of Adam and Eve?

That's because it's not a definition for criminal negligence, but for tort negligence.

Well I don't know the difference, because I'm not a fancy pants lawyer. ;-)

Actually, I guess I sort of know the difference between tort law and criminal law. Is the definition of criminal negligence substantially different?

Anyway, it seems like a bad definition of tort negligence.

At any rate, an executioner who executes a criminal (though it's never just one person, as there are multiple people involved in the process) does not commit a statutorily-recognized crime or tort.

I agree that they don't, or at least that they clearly should not. But my point was that it sure looks like they do according to the definition you provided. So it's a lousy definition.

All the reasons you gave to think that God was negligent seem to apply perfectly well to a state executioner. But since we know the state executioner isn't being negligent, let's conclude that the reasons you provided are insufficient to show that God was being negligent.

Your objections wouldn't work under tort negligence anyway, because the link between the cause (the parents creating the child) and the effect (the child suffering some unspecified future injury) is too attenuated.

I didn't see anything about attenuated links in the definition you provided. So I suppose we can agree that the definition you provided is, by itself, a bad test for negligence. So we shouldn't worry if it happens to issue to the verdict that God was negligent, since it's a bad definition of negligence.

Also, what exactly do you mean when you say the link was too attenuated? I mean, I know what the word "attenuated" means, I'm just wondering why this link between parents and children is too attenuated to count as negligence. After all, it's no doubt foreseeable that some injury or other will occur in a child's future. And parents create this risk for the child by creating the child. And parents don't try to stop the creation of the child; indeed, many of them intentionally create children. That sure looks like it meets the definition of negligence that you provided.

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This doesn't make any sense to me. If I bring to you evidence that your defendent committed a murder and you respond by adding all of the hypothetical things the defendant could have done if he wanted to commit murder, it doesn't refute or even speak to the original evidence.

Well, it doesn't refute the original evidence, no. And it doesn't really speak to the original evidence either. What it might do, however, is disconfirm the hypothesis that the defendant is guilty.

Say the defendant is a doctor who also owns an incinerator. This doctor is super smart and has access to drugs that kill quickly and painlessly. The doctor's wife was murdered on the side of a road with a hatchet, and then buried in a shallow grave.

The doctor's fingerprints are on the hatchet. That evidence confirms the guilty hypothesis. No doubt about it.

But I think a sensible defense attorney would point this out: had the doctor wanted to commit the murder, why wouldn't he have used those drugs he had access to, and why wouldn't he have disposed of the body in the incinerator? It just wouldn't make any sense for him to commit the murder with a hatchet on the side of the road, given the tools he had access to. I think this counts as disconfirming evidence. Don't you? (If you don't like this particular example I just made up, can you make up a better one? There must be one out there...)

But if that's right, then we can agree that some considerations can disconfirm a hypothesis even without refuting or even speaking to some body of evidence that confirms the hypothesis.

(Maybe this is a better, and much simpler, case: The doctor's fingerprints are on the hatchet. That confirms the guilty hypothesis. But we have 1,000 eyewitnesses and video evidence confirming that the doctor was elsewhere when the murder occurred. That strongly disconfirms the guilty hypothesis, without even speaking to the fingerprint evidence.)

As rational as you say Adam and Eve were, the Bible itself admits that they were foolishly innocent. They had no real experience of decision making and knew very little of the consequences of their actions.

I'm not doubting you (you know your Bible!), but I'm wondering which verse(s) you're referring to.

Also it looks as though you're making two contradictory arguments. On the one hand you say God did not want the Fall to happen. On the other hand you say that the Fall needed to happen for all of these good things to take place. If God did not want the Fall to happen, then he did not want all of those positive byproducts to happen either.

Seems like you're reasoning this way:

(1) Subject S did not want event E to happen.

(2) Consequence C is possible only if E happens.

(3) Therefore, S did not want consequence C to happen.

But that's an invalid inference from (1)-(2) to (3). Here's a counterexample. The soldier who jumps on the live grenade to save his buddies does not want to die. Proof: should the grenade fizzle, it's not like the soldier would find some other way to die. Yet saving his buddies is possible only if the soldier jumps on the grenade and dies. By your reasoning, it should follow that the soldier doesn't want to save his buddies. But he clearly does want to save his buddies. Therefore, your reasoning is invalid. </robot philosopher talk>

So I don't think I'm advancing two contradictory arguments, as you say.

If God did not want Adam and Eve to sin, that means he wanted to continue having a blissful relationship with them in Eden. He did not want them to have a credible perfect state without trials and sufferings. He did not want the atonement to happen.

I just don't think that stuff follows. :-/

And I'm saying "creditable" not "credible." I think our perfected characters in heaven will be creditable to us only if we go through something like this present life, full of self-forming, genuinely free actions, in contexts that allow for various sorts of virtues that would be impossible to develop in Eden (bravery, compassion, generosity, etc.).

I don't see how you can hold on to both of these arguments. If you want to say that the Fall was good for mankind, you should also argue that God wanted it to happen.

Think about chemotherapy. Nobody wants to go through chemotherapy. It's *awful*. People tolerate it because they want the positive consequences. It's not as though, should some other treatment render chemotherapy obsolete, people will still line up for the chemotherapy. So here's another example of an action people perform, even though they don't want to do it, and even though they want the consequences of the action. Maybe God was in a situation like that.

And why do these immoral decisions lead to children being born sinful? Surely you believe it is immoral to punish children because of their parents actions. How is it not immoral for God to carry the burden of sin past the guilty party?

Well, I don't think God is punishing children for their parents' actions. I think that God is permitting consequences of parents' actions to persist to the children.

Say you're a school teacher. You try to convince little Adam to stay in school. He drops out, has some kids, and the kids grow up in poverty. Have you thereby punished the poverty-stricken children? I can't see how. They're just suffering as a result of their parents' actions.

Now suppose you're a parent with a lot of land in a nice part of town. You invite your children to live on your land and raise families. Your son Adam decides to sever his relationship with you and move to the crappy part of town. He has some babies there, and the babies now live in poverty. Are you punishing the babies? I don't think so. It's Adam's fault, not yours.

I guess this is a lot like the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

You might think "Well hey man, if that were my kid, I'd go rescue him!" But that's exactly the story that the Bible tells, right? God came down and rescued us. He paid our debts, he's regenerating us from the inside, and he'll soon regenerate the fallen Earth.

The Bible doesn't just speak of a first man and a first woman and a symbolic story. It gives a very specific geneology from Adam all the way to Abraham and beyond. If Genesis 2 is not intended to be history, why have a genealogy?
Yeah, that's a good question. I guess I'm not sure what to make of the genealogies. Here's one thought off the top of my head. Isn't there a consensus that those genealogies skip some generations? I thought Matthew, for example, had some interest in having 40 steps from Jesus back, even though there weren't 40 generations. "Father of" was transitive. Your grandfather counts as the "father of" you on this reading. And we can sort of hear that in English; your grandfather did beget you, indirectly.

So maybe there are some pretty big jumps in those genealogies, all the way back to the first humans (which, again, I believe existed).

I think you will have a great problem adding either a generous view of salvation or universalism.
Maybe. Do you mind if we set this issue to one side for the moment? Seems like we've already got lots of irons in the fire, as they say. Edited by anreizen

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in what ways are we shown that adam and eve are completely rational, logical, adult human beings?

asking this again because Anreizen seems quite content in the view that Adam and Eve were fully grown adult human beings capable of making complex decisions and understanding the consequences of such actions.

just so we can get on the same page, I think it's silly to assume they are, and they should be likened to "adults" who are not mentally capable of taking care of themselves. In fact, after eating from the tree they recognize their nudity and try to hide from God. Think about that, they try to hide from the person they know sees, hears, and knows all. They don't sound like people of sound mind, let alone the ones I want the fate of humanity to be put in.

Edited by haverchuck

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[Well, it doesn't refute the original evidence, no. And it doesn't really speak to the original evidence either. What it might do, however, is disconfirm the hypothesis that the defendant is guilty.

Okay but you listed all of the things that God could have done to make the Fall more likely. You did so to show that what God actually did in Genesis didn't make it nearly as likely as he could have made it.

I don't think this is a strong argument because you could always do this. Let's say God did do the things you listed (created thousands of trees, made the snake look like God, etc)... God still could have done more to make it more certain. He could have also given Adam and Eve a hunger for the forbidden fruit that was never satisfied no matter how much they ate. So even if God did all those things you said, you could make the same argument that God ddin't want the Fall to happen because he could have made it more likely. But I think you would agree that making 1,000 forbidden trees and making the serpent look like God would be enough to show God wanted the Fall to happen.

So I'm going to go back to a question I asked before: Why do you think God created the forbidden tree if not to bring about the Fall of man?

I'm not doubting you (you know your Bible!), but I'm wondering which verse(s) you're referring to.

I'm referring mainly to Genesis 3:1-12. In it Eve talks to a serpent, trusts it and then Adam and Eve realize that they're naked. Then they try to hide from God. Doesn't seem like intelligent behavior.

So I don't think I'm advancing two contradictory arguments, as you say.

Fair enough. I thought I might be using some flawed reasoning. However...

]]If God did not want Adam and Eve to sin, that means he wanted to continue having a blissful relationship with them in Eden. He did not want them to have a credible perfect state without trials and sufferings. He did not want the atonement to happen.

I just don't think that stuff follows. :-/

I said something in here that I think you have to agree with.

If God did not want the Fall to happen, that means he wanted Adam and Eve not to sin. Right? God wanted Adam and Eve to be obedient and not eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. If that's the case then that means God wanted to continue having a relationship with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

Either God desires the relationship he has with Adam and Eve in the garden or he doesn't. If he does that means he enjoys having a relationship with Adam and Eve where their characters are not creditable to them.

And I'm saying "creditable" not "credible." I think our perfected characters in heaven will be creditable to us only if we go through something like this present life, full of self-forming, genuinely free actions, in contexts that allow for various sorts of virtues that would be impossible to develop in Eden (bravery, compassion, generosity, etc.).

Gotcha.

Think about chemotherapy. Nobody wants to go through chemotherapy. It's *awful*. People tolerate it because they want the positive consequences. It's not as though, should some other treatment render chemotherapy obsolete, people will still line up for the chemotherapy. So here's another example of an action people perform, even though they don't want to do it, and even though they want the consequences of the action. Maybe God was in a situation like that.

This is a great example. People choose to go through chemotherapy. They do not enjoy it, but in some sense they desire to do so because that's their decision. They desire chemotherapy more than they desire having cancer.

I'm trying to get you to say that God wanted the Fall to happen so that people's character could be creditable to them. So that the atonement could take place. So that the incarnation could happen. That while he took no pleasure in the Fall of man, God felt it a necessary event in order to better his creation with those three things.

The chemotherapy example fits with what I'm saying.

Well, I don't think God is punishing children for their parents' actions. I think that God is permitting consequences of parents' actions to persist to the children.

Right but is original sin merely a consequence or a punishment? After Adam and Eve eat of the fruit, God curses them with labor pains, banishes them and changes his relationship with them. I think the reason sin passes to children is because God chose to set it up that way.

Yeah, that's a good question. I guess I'm not sure what to make of the genealogies. Here's one thought off the top of my head. Isn't there a consensus that those genealogies skip some generations? I thought Matthew, for example, had some interest in having 40 steps from Jesus back, even though there weren't 40 generations. "Father of" was transitive. Your grandfather counts as the "father of" you on this reading. And we can sort of hear that in English; your grandfather did beget you, indirectly.

So maybe there are some pretty big jumps in those genealogies, all the way back to the first humans (which, again, I believe existed).

Alright but that wasn't my point. I'm not arguing about how long ago Adam existed and whether or not jumps in geneologies would fix that. I'm wondering why the author(s) of Genesis mean for the story of Adam and Eve to be symbolic if they treat him as a historical figure.

Maybe. Do you mind if we set this issue to one side for the moment? Seems like we've already got lots of irons in the fire, as they say.

That's fine with me.

Edited by fellside

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Are you telling me that an adult can be a victim of child endangerment?

They were full grown adults. So whatever experiences they had were exactly the sort of experiences a full grown adult would have had.

No, an adult cannot be a victim of child endangerment, and yes, technically, Adam and Eve were full-grown adults. However, Adam and Eve were a special case, and distinct from the average full-grown adult, because they were created as adults.

You suggest that because they were full-grown adults that they are, therefore, like an average adult. However, the average person does not come out of the womb as an adult; they start out as infants and then become adults after many years of life experience. Adam and Eve were unlike the average adult, because they weren't afforded these life experiences.

Well surely they had experienced some consequences of their actions before. They pet a cute dog, and it felt soft. They walked off the edge of a rock, and they fell to the ground. They knew that actions had consequences. And they were explicitly told what the consequences of eating from the tree would be.

I don't think they had an appreciation for the negative consequences of their actions in the same way that an average adult does. God told Adam that he would die (did he even have a conceptual understanding of death?) if he ate from the forbidden fruit. Would you agree that the average, rational adult person would NOT eat something if God told them not to, and said that it would kill them?

Well I don't know the difference, because I'm not a fancy pants lawyer. ;-)

Actually, I guess I sort of know the difference between tort law and criminal law. Is the definition of criminal negligence substantially different?

Anyway, it seems like a bad definition of tort negligence.

Hah, I wasn't trying to be a smart alec, and I'm not a lawyer, but negligence is a different concept in tort law and in criminal law.

Anyway, it's my fault here, since I didn't give you all the elements of a tort negligence claim.

I didn't see anything about attenuated links in the definition you provided. So I suppose we can agree that the definition you provided is, by itself, a bad test for negligence. So we shouldn't worry if it happens to issue to the verdict that God was negligent, since it's a bad definition of negligence.

Also, what exactly do you mean when you say the link was too attenuated? I mean, I know what the word "attenuated" means, I'm just wondering why this link between parents and children is too attenuated to count as negligence. After all, it's no doubt foreseeable that some injury or other will occur in a child's future. And parents create this risk for the child by creating the child. And parents don't try to stop the creation of the child; indeed, many of them intentionally create children. That sure looks like it meets the definition of negligence that you provided.

It's not a bad definition, but an incomplete one. An important element of a tort negligence action that I left out earlier is causation, or specifically, proximate cause. The Defendant's culpable conduct has to be the actual cause of the Plaintiff's injury.

Proximate causation requires: 1) a reasonably foreseeable result or type of harm, and 2) no superceding, intervening force.

You're right that it's foreseeable that "some injury or other will occur in a child's future," but you haven't specified an injury, and even if you were to do that, you'd have to show that there was no superceding, intervening force.

Here's a helpful explanation:

Cohen v. Petty, 62 App. D.C. 187, 65 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1933), illustrates how the doctrine of intervening cause works. In Cohen, Jeanette Cohen sued Joseph Petty for permanent injuries she suffered as a passenger in a vehicle when Petty drove it into an embankment.

At trial Petty argued that he had become sick without warning and had fainted while driving. The sudden sickness and fainting spell were, Petty claimed, an intervening cause that relieved him of liability. Petty testified that he had never fainted before and that he was feeling fine up to the point of the sudden illness. Petty's wife, Theresa Petty, who was sitting in the front passenger's seat, testified that just before the accident, Petty said, "Oh, Tree, I feel sick." Cohen herself testified that shortly before the accident, she heard Petty exclaim to his wife that he felt sick.

The trial court agreed with Petty and entered judgment in his favor. On appeal the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia affirmed. According to the appeals court, the sudden illness was an intervening cause. Petty had had no reason to anticipate the illness, and because he had not been negligent in any way prior to the accident, the illness relieved him of all liability for Cohen's injuries.

Under your line of reasoning, the court should have held for Cohen, because it's foreseeable that some kind of injury would occur from driving a car. A court would reject this.

The question, though, is whether God is somehow blameworthy for this. Whether he did something immoral in this. I don't think he did. Merely foreseeing and permitting a bad consequence of an action doesn't make that action immoral.

I'm just putting this here to remind you and myself of the point I initially took issue with.

You're saying that God is not blameworthy for The Fall, and I'm arguing God is blameworthy for The Fall.

I don't think you need to spend too much time trying to defend this particular point, because what difference does it make? Does God wanting The Fall to happen vs God permitting The Fall to happen make a big difference one way or another?

To me, it makes no meaningful difference because the result was the same.

Edited by Jainn

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Okay but you listed all of the things that God could have done to make the Fall more likely. You did so to show that what God actually did in Genesis didn't make it nearly as likely as he could have made it.

I don't think this is a strong argument because you could always do this. Let's say God did do the things you listed (created thousands of trees, made the snake look like God, etc)... God still could have done more to make it more certain. He could have also given Adam and Eve a hunger for the forbidden fruit that was never satisfied no matter how much they ate. So even if God did all those things you said, you could make the same argument that God ddin't want the Fall to happen because he could have made it more likely. But I think you would agree that making 1,000 forbidden trees and making the serpent look like God would be enough to show God wanted the Fall to happen.

i agree with you, but i think your focus is too narrow. why stop at the Fall for God's culpability? if, as Christians posit, God is both omniscient and omnipotent and is indeed the sole Creator of the universe, how can they, or we, be assumed to make free decisions at all? i hate to derail the current thread, particularly with an argument that has been discussed before among the various contributors here, but it seems as though the mode of logic you're using could more readily be applied to that larger question. God, after all, designed the universe ex nihilo to be the way it is; exactly, it would seem, the way it is. forget about trees and snakes and naked people (all possibly allegorical even within broadly Christian theology), and think of the unfolding of the universe as we understand it, or a contemporary person's life, their decisions and so-called moral choices.

God didn't merely permit, or even want, the Fall to happen: he, by definition, designed the Fall to happen!

it's only when one begins to ponder that idea that one really begins to question the base foundations of Christian theology: what is the point, after all, in this twisted narrative of God's design and decisions?

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Right. I guess I'm just making a softer argument that skips over those debates we've had. I used to labor over whether or not caused sin and what that meant for Christian ethics. My argument is that regardless of the outcome of that debate, God either did something very foolish or very evil in Genesis 3 if those events are meant to be taken literally.

But there is certainly use for the argument you're referring to. That's certainly the case if a Christian accepts that Genesis 1-3 are allegorical. Although I think that in itself opens up many more problems for the Christian.

Edited by fellside

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Okay but you listed all of the things that God could have done to make the Fall more likely. You did so to show that what God actually did in Genesis didn't make it nearly as likely as he could have made it.

I don't think this is a strong argument because you could always do this. Let's say God did do the things you listed (created thousands of trees, made the snake look like God, etc)... God still could have done more to make it more certain. He could have also given Adam and Eve a hunger for the forbidden fruit that was never satisfied no matter how much they ate. So even if God did all those things you said, you could make the same argument that God ddin't want the Fall to happen because he could have made it more likely. But I think you would agree that making 1,000 forbidden trees and making the serpent look like God would be enough to show God wanted the Fall to happen.

i agree with you, but i think your focus is too narrow. why stop at the Fall for God's culpability? if, as Christians posit, God is both omniscient and omnipotent and is indeed the sole Creator of the universe, how can they, or we, be assumed to make free decisions at all? i hate to derail the current thread, particularly with an argument that has been discussed before among the various contributors here, but it seems as though the mode of logic you're using could more readily be applied to that larger question. God, after all, designed the universe ex nihilo to be the way it is; exactly, it would seem, the way it is. forget about trees and snakes and naked people (all possibly allegorical even within broadly Christian theology), and think of the unfolding of the universe as we understand it, or a contemporary person's life, their decisions and so-called moral choices.

God didn't merely permit, or even want, the Fall to happen: he, by definition, designed the Fall to happen!

it's only when one begins to ponder that idea that one really begins to question the base foundations of Christian theology: what is the point, after all, in this twisted narrative of God's design and decisions?

I don't know if I agree that God designed the Fall to happen, or designed everything to happen in a particular way. I would agree that God, being omniscient, knew the Fall would happen, and knows of everything that was, is, and will be, and of all possibilities and impossibilities.

The reason that's troubling to me is because it seems to render existence a meaningless charade, since God already knows the outcome. That's not enough to make me renounce my beliefs, but it is enough to make me think that the actual human experience is unnecessary (and ultimately kind of pointless, from my perspective).

Edited by Jainn

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I would agree that God, being omniscient, knew the Fall would happen, and knows of everything that was, is, and will be, and of all possibilities and impossibilities.

and this is my point: in what sense could we realistically frame God as merely a "bystander" to the Fall, if God both created the universe and "knew" the Fall was going to happen since before Creation?

in my view, immutable knowledge + creation = design.

The reason that's troubling to me is because it seems to render existence a meaningless charade, since God already knows the outcome.

that should indeed be troubling. in such a world don't all our "decisions" become illusory; as our actions are already predetermined by God's immutable knowledge of the universe?

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and this is my point: in what sense could we realistically frame God as merely a "bystander" to the Fall, if God both created the universe and "knew" the Fall was going to happen since before Creation?

in my view, immutable knowledge + creation = design.

that should indeed be troubling. in such a world don't all our "decisions" become illusory; as our actions are already predetermined by God's immutable knowledge of the universe?

I seem to recall a very similar debate you and anreizen were having on some iteration of this message board, and I remember agreeing with anreizen here (though I could see your side of the argument - which I think I still remember in pretty good detail).

I haven't taken any philosophy or rhetoric courses, so I don't know if I can present the argument as sophisticatedly, but I think the gist of it was: there is a distinction between knowing something will happen and causing it to happen (which seems to be the logical conclusion from saying that the event was predetermined).

Let's say I were omniscient, and I had you roll a pair of dice. I know that you will roll a 3 and a 5. And lo, you roll the dice and you roll a 3 and a 5. I think your argument would be that because I'm omniscient, you could not have rolled anything other than a 3 and a 5, because then you would have acted contrary to my knowledge, and I wouldn't be omniscient. Therefore, because I knew that you were going to roll a 3 and a 5, I caused you to roll a 3 and a 5.

But I don't agree. The way I see it, my foreknowledge of your roll of the dice just means that it was more or less pointless of me to ask you to roll the dice, since I knew the outcome. I didn't cause you to roll a 3 and a 5, I just knew that you would.

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blows my mind how intelligent i used to think anreizen was as a kid vs how insane his replies are to perfectly rational questions. its like he (or you, tom, if you're reading this) isnt even reading the responses or thinking about anything (at least logically with some depth). my mind is literally blown... i dont know if i was just really dumb and gullible as a kid or what, but every seemingly rational point brought up seems to illicit some bizarre off-base reply from anreizen and i dont get it at all. sorry if it seems like an insult, tom, but it just sad to read your responses. its like you're grasping for anything to keep your arguments alive, but nothing has any weight or makes any real sense.

fellside, i think you make a lot of good points. not that anyone really wants me on their side, but i think you make a lot of sense and these are things i also think about. if anreizen ever makes you feel like you're crazy or dont make sense, just realize the problem is him, not you. he seems to be purposefully pretending certain points werent brought up (or just naively skipping over.)

one of my favorite being "Adam and Ever are adults!!!!" sure he didnt say it with such child-like enthusiasm, but the fact that he just stated that with no proof, while much on the contrary was posted seems to make him look like a child who just isnt paying attention to the facts.

Edited by prince zachary

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Let's say I were omniscient, and I had you roll a pair of dice. I know that you will roll a 3 and a 5. And lo, you roll the dice and you roll a 3 and a 5. I think your argument would be that because I'm omniscient, you could not have rolled anything other than a 3 and a 5, because then you would have acted contrary to my knowledge, and I wouldn't be omniscient. Therefore, because I knew that you were going to roll a 3 and a 5, I caused you to roll a 3 and a 5.

But I don't agree. The way I see it, my foreknowledge of your roll of the dice just means that it was more or less pointless of me to ask you to roll the dice, since I knew the outcome. I didn't cause you to roll a 3 and a 5, I just knew that you would.

this is precisely the point anreizen made in response. i'd simply say that the person declaring such would need to be very careful as to just what their definition of free will is; after all, if we define "free will" broadly as "the ability to choose otherwise", i think you'd find that seriously negated by the sort of intelligence in your example. how, after all, can we "choose otherwise", if our "choices" are already predetermined? the answer is that you cannot choose other than what God knows you will choose; and that inability to choose otherwise i think poses some serious questions to the concept of free will.

however, this grows even more pointed in the case of the conception of a monotheistic Creator God who also is responsible for the genesis of the universe, as you have not just a being who is all-knowing (Laplace's demon) at a particular time but a being who created the universe to be a particular way; i.e. had full knowledge of all the events that would unfold in our universe since "before" Creation and choose to bring them into being. it is this responsibility for creation, coupled with the immutable knowledge of what would occur within that particular universe, that makes God fully culpable for what happens within our universe, the one God chose from infinite possible universes to enact.

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Fellside,

I STILL don't have time for an extended reply, as work has been incredibly busy. I will try to respond in detail this weekend.

Blackstar,

Can you help me see why foreknowledge would eliminate a person's ability to have freewill? (cause THAT, not preDETERMINATION is the relevant issue when discussing freedom and God's knowledge - after all, many theists would deny that God determines the future) How does foreknowledge conflict with an agent's having genuine alternate possibilities?

If I went back in time and told George Washington the details of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, then Washington would know what Booth was going to do. Would Washington's knowledge leave Booth's actions not free in the sense relevant for moral responsibility? I don't see how; if you think it does, could you explain it to me? Thanks :)

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I'm trying to get you to say that God wanted the Fall to happen so that people's character could be creditable to them. So that the atonement could take place. So that the incarnation could happen. That while he took no pleasure in the Fall of man, God felt it a necessary event in order to better his creation with those three things.

The chemotherapy example fits with what I'm saying.

Well, maybe we could reach an agreement if we introduce a distinction. Nobody wants chemotherapy as an end in itself. (It's not as though, if they didn't have cancer, they would still seek out chemotherapy.) People only "want" it as a means to an end. They don't want its bad effects (losing hair, nausea, infertility, etc.), though they do foresee those bad effects. They allow chemotherapy to be administered to them so as to (hopefully) bring about a good effect: destroying their cancer, restoring their health. And they may even facilitate its happening (say by driving to the hospital, rolling up their sleeves for the needle, etc.).

So maybe God was in a similar position. He didn't want the Fall as an end in itself, but he did "want" it as a means to an end. He didn't want its bad effects (pain in childbirth, spiritual death, alienation of humans from God, etc.), though he did foresee those bad effects. He allowed the Fall to happen so as to bring about various good effects: the Incarnation, the atonement, and creditable characters in heaven. And God may have even facilitated its happening (say by putting a forbidden tree in the Garden, allowing a deceptive snake to crawl around, etc.).

Can we agree on that?

If so, maybe we can move on to an argument (from you) for the conclusion that what God did was morally blameworthy.

This argument won't work: God wanted the Fall to happen, allowed it to happen, and facilitated its happening. The Fall brought about really, really terrible effects. Therefore, God did something morally blameworthy.

After all, I'll say that God only wanted the Fall as a means to an end. But then there are counterexamples to the main inference in the above argument: I wanted my wife to have a natural birth, I allowed it to happen, and I even facilitated its happening. Her natural birth brought about really, really terrible effects. But it doesn't follow that I did something morally blameworthy. For I wanted it only because she wanted it, I didn't want the bad effects as ends in themselves, and the bad effects were vastly outweighed by the good effects.

So what is the argument, exactly?

Edited by anreizen

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blows my mind how intelligent i used to think anreizen was as a kid vs how insane his replies are to perfectly rational questions...

one of my favorite being "Adam and Ever are adults!!!!" sure he didnt say it with such child-like enthusiasm, but the fact that he just stated that with no proof, while much on the contrary was posted seems to make him look like a child who just isnt paying attention to the facts.

So, you think that it's insane to say that Adam and Eve were adults. Or, if not literally insane, at least false.

Really? Do you think they were children (according to the story)?

I had never considered that possibility. I guess that the text is silent on their ages, so maybe they were children. Then it would start looking like it was pretty messed up for God to punish them so severely for disobeying.

But of course it's also consistent with the text (and in line with tradition!) to think they were adults. Then it's not so clear that God did something morally blameworthy.

And I guess I should point out that it's not really up to me to prove that they were adults. It's up to the person making the charge that God did something morally blameworthy. That person can't just assume that Adam and Eve were children, since the text doesn't say that.

Regarding the other stuff you said, I'm sure a lot has changed in the last 10 years (or however long it's been). But I don't think it's immodest to claim that I've become more informed and a clearer thinker on these issues over the last 10 years (I'm sure you have as well! It sure would be sad if we both became less informed and less clear over the passing years.). So if I used to sound persuasive and I now sound insane, I'm thinking that this is due to a change in you. You were at a place where what I was saying sounded pretty plausible, but now you're at a place where what I'm saying sounds nuts. I guess we just have to do our best to determine whether this was progress or regress on your part. And probably the best way to do that is to think carefully through some arguments, like the argument you've given above. If it really is insane to claim that Adam and Eve were adults, well then you've made progress. So let's try to establish whether that really is insane...

Edited by anreizen

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in my view, immutable knowledge + creation = design.

that should indeed be troubling. in such a world don't all our "decisions" become illusory; as our actions are already predetermined by God's immutable knowledge of the universe?

We've certainly talked about this quite a bit. I'm willing to give it another try, if you'd like to talk about it some more.

How about I try a new approach? Check out this article: http://dl.dropbox.co...%20Fatalism.pdf

Susan Haack there argues that theological arguments for fatalism are no better than purely logical arguments for fatalism. So, if you don't like a logical argument for fatalism, you'll not like any theological arguments for fatalism.

It's said that many Britons expounded a purely logical argument for fatalism in the face of the potentially paralyzing despair brought on by the Battle of Britain in WWII. They reasoned thusly: "Look, don't worry about whether you'll be hit by a bomb or not. After all, either a bomb has your name on it or it doesn't. If it does, there's nothing you can do to avoid it. And if it doesn't, well then you're home free. Either way, nothing you do matters. So no need to worry, it's out of your hands."

Here's a way to formalize that purely logical argument for fatalism:

(1) If it was true [false] at some time t1 that some event e would occur at some later time t2, then at t1 it was not within the power of any person to prevent [bring about] e's occurrence at t2.

(2) But it is either true or false at t1 that e will occur at t2.

(3) So at t1 either it is not within the power of any person to prevent e's occurrence at t2, or it is not within the power of any person to bring about e's occurrence at t2.

This argument, if sound, would have us believe that ALL of our actions are out of our control. We're not free with respect to ANY future event. That's fatalism.

Do you believe the conclusion of this argument, Blackstar? Are you a fatalist?

If not, what goes wrong with this argument? Exactly which premise is false? (Aristotle famously denied premise 2 to avoid fatalism.)

Here's what I'll try to convince you of: whatever escape hatch you open to avoid this logical argument for fatalism will be open for the theist to escape any theological argument for fatalism. As Haack argues in the article I linked to above, it looks like any theological argument for fatalism is just an elaboration on a purely logical argument, and any additional theological premise is inessential.

So either both you and the theist are committed to fatalism, or neither one of you is.

Edited by anreizen

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