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I can do whatever it is possible to do. That's a tautology.

 

As are Anselm's limitations. Why is weakness to be altered, to be physical, to burn oneself? They are defined as weakness because they are properties not ascribed to God. Then, in turn, that they are weakness is used to explain why they are not properties of God. It's all circular and arbitrary, like the Best of All Possible Worlds. The world is the way it is because that is the best possible state for it to be. We know this state is the best possible state, because it is the state that is. Etc.

 

And yes, people say meaningless and/or self-contradictory statements all the time while not realizing they are meaningless and/or self-contradictory. I can come up with a whole vocabulary describing the rest frame of a photon, but that wouldn't make what I'm describing valid concepts. It would just mean that what I think I am conceiving of is not what I am actually conceiving of. So too with unstoppable forces and immovable objects. Upon reflection I can see that the question is meaningless, but that doesn't mean those words cannot be spoken non-rhetorically.

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No. Not at all. At the beginning of Christianity(Jesus, His disciples, and their disciples), the Law was very much important. They were, after all, Jews. In fact, keeping the Law was a big part of Jes

This is quite a famous debate in the early church. I think the best answer, as you and ydoaPs have demonstrated, is that the Bible contradicts itself on this point.

I tried to cover as broad a spectrum as possible using the smallest amount of space.   Now, in retrospect, I see that I could have just stated: anyone that doesn't believe precisely what I believe a

What of the case of complete transhumanism? Should I transcend biology and no longer need the biological form, would I then be a god? At that point, I'd be the immortal consciousness of the universe.

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I can do whatever it is possible to do. That's a tautology.

You can do whatever it is physically possible to do. Nobody can do what is logically impossible, so it is pointless to describe logically impossible actions as actions.

 

As are Anselm's limitations. Why is weakness to be altered, to be physical, to burn oneself? They are defined as weakness because they are properties not ascribed to God. Then, in turn, that they are weakness is used to explain why they are not properties of God. It's all circular and arbitrary, like the Best of All Possible Worlds. The world is the way it is because that is the best possible state for it to be. We know this state is the best possible state, because it is the state that is. Etc.

No, here's Anselm's argument against physicality:

 

  1. Physical objects can change.
  2. To change involves losing one property and gaining another; for example, losing the property of redness and gaining the property of purpleness.
  3. If the being loses a property that contributes to its perfection, it is now imperfect.
  4. If the being loses a property that contributed nothing to its perfection, it had superfluous properties, which make it imperfect.
  5. If it loses a property that made it imperfect, well, it was imperfect.

 

So anything that can change cannot be perfect. Material bodies can change, so they can't be perfect.

 

(Note that "perfect" means "perfect across all time", because a truly perfect being can't just become imperfect later)

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You can do whatever it is physically possible to do. Nobody can do what is logically impossible, so it is pointless to describe logically impossible actions as actions.

 

 

No, here's Anselm's argument against physicality:

 

  1. Physical objects can change.
  2. To change involves losing one property and gaining another; for example, losing the property of redness and gaining the property of purpleness.
  3. If the being loses a property that contributes to its perfection, it is now imperfect.
  4. If the being loses a property that contributed nothing to its perfection, it had superfluous properties, which make it imperfect.
  5. If it loses a property that made it imperfect, well, it was imperfect.

 

So anything that can change cannot be perfect. Material bodies can change, so they can't be perfect.

 

(Note that "perfect" means "perfect across all time", because a truly perfect being can't just become imperfect later)

Does creating not involve changing?

 

Prior to the creation, the creator exemplifies the property of not observing its creation.

 

After the creation, the creator exemplifies the property of observing its creation.

 

Either that means the creator is necessarily imperfect, or I'm not buying #4.

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Does creating not involve changing?

 

Prior to the creation, the creator exemplifies the property of not observing its creation.

 

After the creation, the creator exemplifies the property of observing its creation.

 

Either that means the creator is necessarily imperfect, or I'm not buying #4.

 

You could use that for anything God does. You'd end up splitting hairs with this one; "observing" implies God has eyes, and he doesn't: he merely knows everything about the universe.

 

So you could say he goes from the property of knowing that it doesn't exist to knowing that it does, but one might respond "no, he simply had the continuing property of knowing everything about everything in existence."

 

I don't think this kind of stuff is very helpful, though, which is why I'm skeptical about Anselm's work.

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I can do whatever it is possible to do. That's a tautology.

 

Make a star then. It is possible to make stars; there's in fact trillions upon trillions of them.


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And yes, people say meaningless and/or self-contradictory statements all the time while not realizing they are meaningless and/or self-contradictory.

 

But that's not what I said. What about self-contradictory definitions for words? The only time those would make sense is for when they don't (ie, for humor). That there are self-contradictory statements is a necessity of any vaguely good language.

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  1. Physical objects can change.
  2. To change involves losing one property and gaining another; for example, losing the property of redness and gaining the property of purpleness.
  3. If the being loses a property that contributes to its perfection, it is now imperfect.
  4. If the being loses a property that contributed nothing to its perfection, it had superfluous properties, which make it imperfect.
  5. If it loses a property that made it imperfect, well, it was imperfect.

 

It is perfect for me to have the property of redness yesterday and the property of purpleness today. Problem solved. Or perhaps it's perfect of me to appear as a burning bush one day and become embodied as a human another. Why not?

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It is perfect for me to have the property of redness yesterday and the property of purpleness today. Problem solved. Or perhaps it's perfect of me to appear as a burning bush one day and become embodied as a human another. Why not?

 

Well, here's how my professor treats this question in his notes:

 

(Perhaps one can argue that being perfect means having X at one time and Y at another time. But that is something that would have to be argued.)

 

Later, he says:

Related to the idea that what changes is imperfect is the idea that what changes is not completely itself. The reason is that when a thing changes, it is one thing, say, green, at one time, and something else, red, at another. So an apple, that is the entirety of the apple, is both green at time t1 and red at t2. But at no time is the apple red and green even though being red and being green are aspects of its complete existence. One reason this observation is important is that some people think that some things, say, a certain apple when it is green or red, or perhaps that apple when it is green and also when it is red, is perfect at that time. Medieval philosophers would point out that they are not talking about peretion-at-a-time, but perfection at all times or perfection without reference to time. They are interested in perfection simpliciter.

 

Also, another related argument:

1. If something S can change, then something T can affect S.

2. If T can affect S, then S is not self-sufficient.

3. If S is not self-sufficient, then S is not perfect.

4. Something is perfect.

Therefore,

5. If something is perfect, it cannot change.

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"That is something that would have to be argued?" Why? The contrary is simply asserted, on the grounds of there being no other possibility. The other possibility has nevertheless been raised, making the previous assertion retroactively arbitrary. That is what I'm arguing. Not that it is in fact "perfect" for the apple to be green at t1 and red at t2, but that declaring it to be perfect or not on those grounds is arbitrary, that "change" is not a valid criterion.

 

1. If something S can change, then something T can affect S.

 

Says who? I say that all things only affect themselves, that each thing is the best possible state that it can be at any point in time, because it is the best possible state. The cue ball rolls not because of the stick, but because it is appropriate. (This is in fact what some later philosophers will argue.)

 

2. If T can affect S, then S is not self-sufficient.

3. If S is not self-sufficient, then S is not perfect.

 

And what counts as "sufficient?" S is what it is, without reference to time. It is not self-contained in the sense that it has a recognizable relationship to other entities, but then, so would a Creator. To have an effect or to be affected in terms of causality are only different in the direction of time. Without reference to time, there is no difference. A being that creates is not self-sufficient - it has interaction.


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Make a star then. It is possible to make stars; there's in fact trillions upon trillions of them.

 

It is possible for stars to be made. It is not possible to conjure one up instantaneously. ("I" will be participating in the process eventually, though.) A being that could do that would be very powerful!

 

But that's not what I said. What about self-contradictory definitions for words? The only time those would make sense is for when they don't (ie, for humor). That there are self-contradictory statements is a necessity of any vaguely good language.

 

I'm saying that "omnipotent" is such a word. Where does it come from if it's not meaningful? Well, it's easy to observe that some things are more powerful than others. It's not a big leap to "most powerful," and from there to "so powerful it is impossible to be more powerful," heading off claims of "but my concept can beat up your concept." What is really meant is "as powerful as we need it to be."

 

What difference does it make if it's a word or a phrase? If you can say a meaningless phrase (and not realize it), you can make a meaningless word that "means" that phrase. It is not trivial that "omnipotent" is a compound word. Omni has meaning. Potent has meaning.

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3. If S is not self-sufficient, then S is not perfect.

 

That argument seems very arbitrary. One could equally well say "if S is self-sufficient, then S is not perfect," if one views self-sufficiency as undesirable.

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That argument seems very arbitrary. One could equally well say "if S is self-sufficient, then S is not perfect," if one views self-sufficiency as undesirable.

I agree, I don't see the logic in the imperfection statement either.. it seems to me that self-sufficiency is preferable, if not perfect.

 

Which got me thinking by the way. I'm not too sure I know what "perfect" is, or if we're all in agreement on the definition of perfection. I mean.. isn't "perfect" subjective?

 

Self sufficiently sounds to me as beneficial, so I would consider something that's not self sufficient *not* perfect; on the other hand, I know a few cultures where self-sufficiency isn't as important as community dependence, or the cooperation between the people in the group - so in those cultures the dependency on one another (mutual trust, cooperation, etc) is considered a step towards perfection.

 

Shouldn't we define what we think perfect is before we put what we think god(s) is/are into the definition?

 

~moo

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Sure. We think God is perfect. ;)

 

I know you meant this to be flippant, but I think this has to be a Christian's working definition. In other words, by definition God's actions are good, and any action He makes perfect.

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I know you meant this to be flippant, but I think this has to be a Christian's working definition. In other words, by definition God's actions are good, and any action He makes perfect.

So a perfect being in your opinion is one that is always good?

 

I don't disagree with this, but I am not entirely sure I necessarily agree, either. First off, if in philosophy we deal, then we should also discuss what "Good" means, since it definitely has some subtleties that are different from person to person.

 

Here's an example off the top of my head - killing is considered not good. I don't think you'll find many (specially christians) who will disagree with that. I agree with it too. However, what if a situation arises when killing is actually preferable to not killing? For example, you see a woman being raped by an armed soldier. Assuming you are armed too, you might have no other option but to kill him -- but is that not "being good"?

 

Also, lying is generally considered bad (or at least 'not good'). There's the famous dilemma, though - a woman knocks at your door, bloody and beaten with her clothes torn. She begs you to help her hide from her murderous boyfriend. You agree and send her down to hide in the basement. A moment later, another knock on the door - the boyfriend, his hands bloody, holding a knife and with murder in his eyes - asks you if you've seen his girlfriend. Ethically, you should probably lie - either tell him you didnt see her, or tell him you saw her running down the other direction.

 

Is that not "being good"?

 

Is that moving someone away from perfection or towards perfection, and if "good" is the measure for perfection, then if God does neither of those, is he good at all? is he perfect?

 

~moo

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Also, lying is generally considered bad (or at least 'not good'). There's the famous dilemma, though - a woman knocks at your door, bloody and beaten with her clothes torn. She begs you to help her hide from her murderous boyfriend. You agree and send her down to hide in the basement. A moment later, another knock on the door - the boyfriend, his hands bloody, holding a knife and with murder in his eyes - asks you if you've seen his girlfriend. Ethically, you should probably lie - either tell him you didnt see her, or tell him you saw her running down the other direction.

 

Is that not "being good"?

 

Is that moving someone away from perfection or towards perfection, and if "good" is the measure for perfection, then if God does neither of those, is he good at all? is he perfect?

 

The Anselm of Canterbury response is that your lying in that situation is a result of a lack of power; that is, you lack the power to adequately defend yourself against the murderous boyfriend, since he has a knife and you don't, so you are forced to lie.

 

A more powerful person would be able to, say, pull out a gun and shoot the bastard, so lying wouldn't be necessary.

 

Thus, lying isn't a good thing. It results from your weakness.

 

That's what Anselm would say, at least.

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The Anselm of Canterbury response is that your lying in that situation is a result of a lack of power; that is, you lack the power to adequately defend yourself against the murderous boyfriend, since he has a knife and you don't, so you are forced to lie.

 

A more powerful person would be able to, say, pull out a gun and shoot the bastard, so lying wouldn't be necessary.

 

Thus, lying isn't a good thing. It results from your weakness.

 

That's what Anselm would say, at least.

Interestingly enough, it seems to me that both options imply you will resort to other actions that are considered "not good" themselves, though... For that matter, using your power against a less-powerful being by itself can be considered not-good, and specially when/if you resort to violence, which, sometimes, you must (so the claim purports).

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Violence comes out of your inability to erect a force-field with the power of your mind, so...

 

Since a good being always uses its power for good purposes -- such as preventing evil -- there's no question of abuse of power.


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Let me add this: Both your side and Anselm's side have the option of just making up new scenarios to prove the other side wrong. "What about violence?" "Well, instead of violence, you could do ______." "What about free will?" "Ah, well, a truly powerful being would ______." And so on.

 

I don't think examples will help here since each side can weasel its way out of problems. That's probably why Anselm thought his idea worked so well: he could come up with excuses for everything.

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Christian God is supposed to stand on the human side. I mean He is the one who created Mankind at his own image. I understand: imperfect.

Ancient gods were also imperfect, they had human behaviours and human weakness.

There is a difference between almighty & perfect.

In the middle ages, God (His Son) were pantocrator, terrible personnage giving life, judging & killing at will.

Today, He is considered as a Good God. He was not always so friendly, read the scriptures.

All depends on the way humans see things, through which situation, which epoch, which society. If God exist, He didn't change. It simply shows that if He exist, all that human desire to understand His nature* is hopeless. Maybe it should be better to forget Him for a while and take a look at what we can do here without His help.

 

 

*don't forget, in christianity, there are 3 of them. The Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity

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So a perfect being in your opinion is one that is always good?

 

I don't disagree with this, but I am not entirely sure I necessarily agree, either. First off, if in philosophy we deal, then we should also discuss what "Good" means, since it definitely has some subtleties that are different from person to person.

 

I think you are missing my point. God's actions are the definition of good. So it doesn't matter what your philosophy says or the outcome of your discussion, if you come to the conclusion that any of God's actions are not good, then you are in error.

 

Now of course, no-one really thinks that way - even the bible tells us that God has given us an in-built sense of right and wrong, so we would be very uncomfortable declaring something as good that we thought (deep down) was really evil. But this philosophy is self consistent and well defined (though admitedly sometimes a little difficult to use in practice).

 

Here's an example off the top of my head - killing is considered not good. I don't think you'll find many (specially christians) who will disagree with that. I agree with it too. However, what if a situation arises when killing is actually preferable to not killing? For example, you see a woman being raped by an armed soldier. Assuming you are armed too, you might have no other option but to kill him -- but is that not "being good"?

 

Actually, my intellectual view on this is a little separated from my probable actions. I think the "good" option is to confront the rapist with love (brotherly love, not sexual love) - to try and make him stop by persuading him that what he is doing is wrong and he can be better than that. If he refuses to listen, then firmly but non-violently pull him off. If he kills you and continues the rape, that is his sin, not yours.

 

In practice, I would probably kill him. But I recognise that that would be a sinful act.

 

Also, lying is generally considered bad (or at least 'not good'). There's the famous dilemma, though - a woman knocks at your door, bloody and beaten with her clothes torn. She begs you to help her hide from her murderous boyfriend. You agree and send her down to hide in the basement. A moment later, another knock on the door - the boyfriend, his hands bloody, holding a knife and with murder in his eyes - asks you if you've seen his girlfriend. Ethically, you should probably lie - either tell him you didnt see her, or tell him you saw her running down the other direction.

 

Again, the correct action is not to lie, but to confront him with love. Tell him that you are not going to tell him where his girlfriend went and persuade him to calm down.

 

I think sometimes our fear is what prevents us from doing the right thing.

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I think you are missing my point. God's actions are the definition of good. So it doesn't matter what your philosophy says or the outcome of your discussion, if you come to the conclusion that any of God's actions are not good, then you are in error.

Wait, but God (at least in the old testament) has occasions where he regrets his actions. So.. are the actions still good?

 

Also, I'm not sure that follows either.. God is all knowing and all seeing. So every time a woman is raped, for example, God is allowing for this to happen. We can argue back and forth whether or not there's a problem "of evil" with this question, but my current point is that if you claim that God is the example of good, then ignoring someone suffering is good?

 

Not sure I'd take the God of the old testament as "good", honestly.

 

Now of course, no-one really thinks that way - even the bible tells us that God has given us an in-built sense of right and wrong, so we would be very uncomfortable declaring something as good that we thought (deep down) was really evil. But this philosophy is self consistent and well defined (though admitedly sometimes a little difficult to use in practice).

Not all of us have that, though, and also, many different nations have a different approach to right and wrong. It's quite "right" in african tribes to mutilate the female genitalia. I would consider that morally appalling. It's quite right in Iran to stone to death a woman who committed adultery - a quite horrifying public death. I would consider that horrifically unethical.

 

I personally think that there are some basic concepts that are 'evolutionary ethics' - murder (not killing, that's different) is considered unethical in most societies because it comes against the group safety (and hence against the individual safety), rape is an act that threatens the safety of the sperm of the husband (if his wife is raped, she may bear a child that isn't his) so it makes sense in an evolutionary/development stage *on top* of the moral standpoint of seeing someone suffer, etc.

 

But there *ARE* things that seem to be subjective, and different between societies..

 

Actually, my intellectual view on this is a little separated from my probable actions. I think the "good" option is to confront the rapist with love (brotherly love, not sexual love) - to try and make him stop by persuading him that what he is doing is wrong and he can be better than that. If he refuses to listen, then firmly but non-violently pull him off. If he kills you and continues the rape, that is his sin, not yours.

 

In practice, I would probably kill him. But I recognise that that would be a sinful act.

I do agree that we should reform criminals. While my gut reaction is total repulsion from rapists, and my emotional immediate reponse is to want to castrate them, I don't really view that as the moral response. Castration in the chemical sense, perhaps, might be moral, if the rapist has a disease that needs fixing, and some forms of chemical castrations are shown to work.

 

I do believe in reformation, but there's a limit; I wouldn't release said rapist to the world. I would lock him (or her) up in jail and away from society for as long as they live, or as long as I (and professional doctors) are convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are never going to do anything like this again, and that they repaid their debt to society and to the victim. And even then, some restrictions should be put on the person (like not working as a security guard.....).

 

So in essence, I think we agree. I just don't call it 'sin', I call it 'unethical' or 'wrong'. But the principle is the same.

 

Again, the correct action is not to lie, but to confront him with love. Tell him that you are not going to tell him where his girlfriend went and persuade him to calm down.

And when he stabs you in the gut out of rage? The entire point of the scenario is to draw a situation where this is an obvious action to come - it's very clear the person in front of you intends on violence, does not care about consequences, etc. So when he stabs you, and then proceeds to stab his girlfriend -- are you still "good"? *knowing* he will kill his girlfriend?

 

I think sometimes our fear is what prevents us from doing the right thing.

Well, sure. I would prefer not dying. I would prefer to lie not only to not die, but to not have another person die. The scenario about the boyfriend/girlfriend wasn't just about how to prevent your own death it was about protecting someone else. If you know for a fact that this guy just killed 10 people in cold blood, he's crazy, he will stab you before you start talking if you tell him you know where his gf is ---- that is, if you KNOW you will both die if you tell the truth -- is it still sinful to lie? And are you really a 'good person' for not lying when the girlfriend is now dead as a result?

 

~moo

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if you KNOW you will both die if you tell the truth -- is it still sinful to lie?

 

I don't have time right now to respond to your entire post, but let me respond to this bit.

 

Yes, it is still sinful. The fear of your own death is causing you to sin.

 

If you remember Jesus on his way to the cross, he never fought (and rebuked Peter fighting) or lied. All he had to say was that he was not the son of God and he wouldn't have been killed.

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