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Anthropic Argument


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Mark Walker puts forth an argument that the mere existence of humanity is proof that God does not exist. Note that this works only for gods which are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.

 

If God is morally perfect then He must perform the morally best actions, but creating humans is not the morally best action. If this line of reasoning can be maintained then the mere fact that humans exist contradicts the claim that God exists. This is the ‘anthropic argument’. The anthropic argument, is related to, but distinct from, the traditional argument from evil. The anthropic argument forces us to consider the ‘creation question’: why did God not create other gods rather than humans? That is, if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect then why didn’t He create a world populated exclusively by beings that are perfect in the same way that He is—ontological equivalents— rather than choosing to create humans with finite natures and all the suffering that this entails?

 

This argument uses a moral scale. 0 is perfectly immoral and 10 is perfectly moral(humans are 5). S is the set of all possible worlds which is populated only by beings greater than 5 on the scale.

 

The argument:

 

(1) God is omnipotent

 

(2) So, it is possible for God to actualize a member of S

 

(3) God is omniscient

 

(4) So, if it is possible for God to actualize a member of S, then God knows that He can actualize a member of S

 

(5) So, God knows that He can actualize a member of S

 

(6) God is morally perfect

 

(7) So, a morally perfect being should attempt to maximize the likelihood of moral goodness and minimize the likelihood of moral evil in the world

 

(8) If God knows He can actualize a member of S, then every world in which God exists is a member of S

 

(9) Therefore, every world in which God exists is a member of S

 

(10) Therefore, if God exists in the actual world then the actual world is a member of S

 

(11) The actual world is not a member of S

 

(12) Therefore, God does not exist

 

 

 

I think this is a fairly interesting argument. Thoughts?

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OK, I'll completely analyze the issue of free will being incompatible with morality: 1) Suppose free will is incompatible with perfect morality. Therefore, any morally perfect being (such as God, if

That is an idiotic objection. You can obviously analyze a belief without actually holding such a belief. In fact: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepti

You do not believe in God: why should you now believe in Satan? Do you really believe Satan exists if God doesn't? If you don't, yours is no argument.

Can a being truly be autonomous if it has sufficient insight into its actions so they are always morally perfect? It would seem that, on the contrary, such a being would be entirely constrained at all times to do the single best thing in each situation, and so would not have free will. (Assuming that the world is sufficiently complex and varied that there could be no perfectly morally equivalent choices so there would be a real choice among perfections.) So if God had some good reason for wanting to choose only beings with free will among the created creatures around him, then the problem of evil human choice would be excused by that purportedly overriding reason for choosing to create entities with free will.

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Can a being truly be autonomous if it has sufficient insight into its actions so they are always morally perfect? It would seem that, on the contrary, such a being would be entirely constrained at all times to do the single best thing in each situation, and so would not have free will.

There are two giant obvious problems with the 'free will defense' which is sometimes used against arguments like this and the argument of evil:

 

(1)If free will and moral perfection are incompatible, it would mean that God would not have free will. This is a huge problem as it gives mere men an invaluable power that God does not. A being lacking the simple ability to choose is not a very likely candidate for omniscience let alone being the greatest being possible. Incompatibility of free will and moral perfection as a problem for theism in the context of the free will defense is discussed in depth by Schellenburg in his famous trilogy.

 

(2)The simplistic variety of free will required by the free will defense is incoherent. It is obvious that this kind of free will does not exist as we clearly have limitations to our free will. The limitation underlying here, though, is actually a part of the foundation of free will; free will is necessarily subservient to a being's nature. Indeed, for in what sense is a decision up to you if it is independent of your nature? Your nature-who you are-is an input into the weighing of your choice. The good thing about a reasonable variety of free will(a variety worth wanting, as Dennett would say) is that it removes problem (1).

 

 

So if God had some good reason for wanting to choose only beings with free will among the created creatures around him, then the problem of evil human choice would be excused by that purportedly overriding reason for choosing to create entities with free will.

But you just said free will is incompatible with moral perfection, so, according to your own line of reason, God could not possibly CHOOSE to create beings with free will.

 

What is the warrant for believing that free will is an overriding moral reason? If free will leads to an evil world, is it not itself immoral?

Edited by ydoaPs
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Doesn't this merely demonstrate that an extant God cannot be simultaneously omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect?

I thought I had specified that in the beginning. Yes, that's quite so. I apologize if I was not explicit enough on that front.
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I find the argument poor.

 

Argument points seven and eight seem flawed.

 

Why "should" a moral God seek to maximize moral goodness of a collective set of individuals if achieving a maximum in this set comes at a cost of something of greater net value? this argument seems to assume that moral goodness of a set of individuals is the ultimate goal. How can one be certain of this?

 

Why must God exist only in worlds that are a set of S? Is a moral God restricted from entering a world that is not a member of S? Why?

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Why "should" a moral God seek to maximize moral goodness of a collective set of individuals if achieving a maximum in this set comes at a cost of something of greater net value? this argument seems to assume that moral goodness of a set of individuals is the ultimate goal. How can one be certain of this?

It cannot come "at a cost of something of greater net value", since God is omnipotent and can achieve anything. Should maximal moral goodness of all humanity prevent God from achieving his ultimate goals, He is not omnipotent.

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It cannot come "at a cost of something of greater net value", since God is omnipotent and can achieve anything. Should maximal moral goodness of all humanity prevent God from achieving his ultimate goals, He is not omnipotent.

 

Tradeoffs are real are they not? Yes they are.

 

Omnipotence means ability to achieve anything that is possible, but it does not extend to the impossible. Can an omnipotent eternal God cause himself to cease to exist? Of course not, so an omnipotent God cannot achieve the impossible.

 

It is impossible to maximize all competing goods.

 

Therefore, since moral goodness can be mutually exclusive of another attribute of value then there is the possibility of competing goods, so argument seven is poorly constructed and your argument fails.

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My argument? It's not my argument; I've only heard of it when ydoaPs posted it.

 

Do you mean that an omnipotent God cannot achieve the logically impossible? There are many things we consider impossible (creating matter from nothing is a good one) that God is supposed to be capable of. I presume you mean that God cannot do such things as create a paperweight so heavy that He cannot lift it, because that is a logically impossible action.

 

If one defines goods as competing and mutually exclusive, then, maximizing them would indeed be logically impossible.

 

However, God as defined in the argument is morally perfect, and His moral perfection would be undermined if He valued anything else above moral perfection. That is to say, one cannot be morally perfect if one allows morally bad things to happen but also has the power to stop them. Perhaps there is some other unknown value that is greater than moral perfection that God seeks to achieve above moral perfection -- but then he is not morally perfect. He is perfect in whatever other value that is.

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Well if it isn't mentioned that it is morally perfect it must not be morally perfect and this argument is useless against a Christian/ Jewish[ /Muslim?] god as it may not be morally perfect.

 

If the religious stopped assuming god was morally perfect and accepted the fact the holy books never say anything about it being morally perfect they could justify sin and all the violence and immorality in the bible to those who use that as an argument against religion...

Edited by ProcuratorIncendia
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Well if it isn't mentioned that it is morally perfect it must not be morally perfect and this argument is useless against a Christian/ Jewish[ /Muslim?] god as it may not be morally perfect.

 

If the religious stopped assuming god was morally perfect and accepted the fact the holy books never say anything about it being morally perfect they could justify sin and all the violence and immorality in the bible to those who use that as an argument against religion...

I agree, but moral perfection is something very many theological arguments require. For example, why take moral laws (commandments, etc.) from a being that is not morally perfect? Many arguments for religious morality rest on the notion that God always knows what is right and wrong.

 

Or, in other words, a lot of theology depends on moral perfection. Throwing it out would mess up the foundations of those religions.

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I agree, but moral perfection is something very many theological arguments require. For example, why take moral laws (commandments, etc.) from a being that is not morally perfect? Many arguments for religious morality rest on the notion that God always knows what is right and wrong.

 

Or, in other words, a lot of theology depends on moral perfection. Throwing it out would mess up the foundations of those religions.

Futhermore, YHWH has cleansed peoples before for being immoral-He once even drowned all but 8 people. What was humanity's guide for morality, the Laws that YHWH gave them! Even if moral perfection is not explicitly mentioned in the OT(I don't know offhand whether or not it is), it is certainly implied.

 

edit:

 

"For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations."-Psalms 100:5

 

"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? [who] can shew forth all his praise? Blessed [are] they that keep judgment, [and] he that doeth righteousness at all times."-Psalm 106:1-3

 

"Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments [are] good."-Psalms 119:39

 

"Thou [art] good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes."-Psalms 119:68

 

Presumably, Holiness requires moral perfection.

"Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory."-Isaiah 6:2-3

Edited by ydoaPs
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My argument? It's not my argument; I've only heard of it when ydoaPs posted it.

 

Did you not make the argument that omnipotence implies the ability to anything?

 

If one defines goods as competing and mutually exclusive, then, maximizing them would indeed be logically impossible.

 

I don't recall defining all goods as competing, but logically it is possible that some goods are competing.

 

However, God as defined in the argument is morally perfect, and His moral perfection would be undermined if He valued anything else above moral perfection.

 

If God were both morally perfect and loving, how could one establish that moral perfection is valued above love?

 

That is to say, one cannot be morally perfect if one allows morally bad things to happen but also has the power to stop them. Perhaps there is some other unknown value that is greater than moral perfection that God seeks to achieve above moral perfection -- but then he is not morally perfect. He is perfect in whatever other value that is.

 

Is it logically possible to be perfect in every way (within the bounds of what is possible)?

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Did you not make the argument that omnipotence implies the ability to anything?

You said "so argument seven is poorly constructed and your argument fails", but argument seven is part of the OP, and is not part of my argument.

 

I don't recall defining all goods as competing, but logically it is possible that some goods are competing.

Right; I meant that if one defines a particular set of goods as mutually exclusive and competing, they cannot be maximized.

 

If God were both morally perfect and loving, how could one establish that moral perfection is valued above love?

Hmm. I think one might argue that love is a part of moral perfection, not a separate attribute, but the specifics aren't entirely relevant.

 

Here's what I meant by my argument: Suppose God does value love above moral perfection, and suppose these are competing properties. God takes certain actions that demonstrate his perfect love but are morally imperfect -- he can't achieve both at once because this is logically impossible. If this is the case, then God is not morally perfect.

 

However, the OP stipulates a morally perfect God. You're essentially saying "but that's not a God anyone believes in," or perhaps "God doesn't have to be morally perfect to be exceedingly good -- he may just be good at other things."

 

Is it logically possible to be perfect in every way (within the bounds of what is possible)?

I think Anselm would say so. Anselm (archbishop of Canterbury a thousand years ago) posited that God is perfect, and defined this to mean that God is that than which a greater cannot be conceived. Using this argument, he was able to describe God's attributes: omnipotent, omniscient, immaterial, eternal, unchanging, and so on. Now, he meant it differently than I think you do. He didn't say God is perfect in every way. For example, one might ask whether God is a perfect liar, but to Anselm lying represents a lack of power. To lie is to imply that you cannot get away with the truth, or that you are of weakened moral character, and so the perfect ability to lie is not perfection at all, but a weakness.

 

So Anselm would say it is quite possible for God to be perfect, but that does not require that he is perfect at everything.

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You said "so argument seven is poorly constructed and your argument fails", but argument seven is part of the OP, and is not part of my argument.

(7) is merely a rewording of (6). It's almost the very definition of moral perfection.

 

Hmm. I think one might argue that love is a part of moral perfection, not a separate attribute, but the specifics aren't entirely relevant.

That's exactly what we find when we look into modern Philosophy of Religion. Schellenberg even discusses this in Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason.
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Well first of all our picture of god is a poor one. We really don't understand him properly. I think one has to be very carefull while concluding the 11th argument "The actual world is not a member of S". It may be possible that god has created the world with beings who are very much capable of achieveing moral perfection. Just because humans appear finite and moderately evil from outside doesn't necessarily mean that they can not achieve moral perfection. They may be very much capable of achieveing moral perfection but god might have hidden their powers or omnipotence.

 

So god might have given all the powers for its worldy beings to achieve moral perfection but the powers might be hidden. A moral scale of 5 for humans is not a limit and one may possibly be capable of achieving more than that. So the worldly beings are very much capable of achieving moral perfection and also they might just be as perfect as the God who created them. So god has really created gods and not just absolute finite evil humans. So a god can be omniscient and omnipotent even though the scale of the world might look too immoral apparently

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ydoaPs: Your first argument assumes that having free will is a higher value than always having to make perfect choices, which is not clearly demonstrated to be the case. Omniscience alone, even apart from moral perfection, would seem to deny that type of free will which Kierkegaard describes as the pure wilfulness of a rationally imperfectly supported 'leap of faith.' If the God hypothesis were correct, he could have some overriding reason, not evident to us, for choosing to create beings who have the necessary degree of imperfection in knowledge and will so that they are not perfectly constrained in their choices by omniscience and moral perfection and are thus free.

 

God's creative options may be constrained by Leibniz's principle of compossibility, so that a world of morally and intellectually imperfect beings who for those reasons have free will is the best of all possible worlds which could be created.

 

Your second argument, that "free will is necessarily subservient to a being's nature," seems inconsistent with the existentialists' argument that for beings of the level of sophistication of humans, existence precedes essence, so that our 'nature' can only be defined by reviewing what we happen to have arbitrarily chosen as our identity, rather than, as is the case with everything else, our nature being definable in advance, and our choices then predetermined by what we are. Sartre and Heidegger develop this point in detail.

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If God were both morally perfect and loving, how could one establish that moral perfection is valued above love?

 

Unless you're claiming that moral perfection and love are mutually exclusive in some circumstances, then it is irrelevant. I seem to recall there being a certain word used in the two commandments that Jesus said fulfills all the law.

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I agree, but moral perfection is something very many theological arguments require. For example, why take moral laws (commandments, etc.) from a being that is not morally perfect? Many arguments for religious morality rest on the notion that God always knows what is right and wrong.

 

Or, in other words, a lot of theology depends on moral perfection. Throwing it out would mess up the foundations of those religions.

 

Reasons to worship a god that tells you to be morally perfect but is hypocritical:

 

-Fear, Hell is not a desirable place to go. The almighty has been 'DESTROY ALL SINNERS!!!' in the past...

-Greed, You want the prize...Heaven.

-You have little choice...god will smite you and punish you if you don't.

-You actually want to.

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Reasons to worship a god that tells you to be morally perfect but is hypocritical:

 

-Fear, Hell is not a desirable place to go. The almighty has been 'DESTROY ALL SINNERS!!!' in the past...

-Greed, You want the prize...Heaven.

-You have little choice...god will smite you and punish you if you don't.

-You actually want to.

 

Most of the arguments try to establish that you should follow God's word because God's word is always morally good. Throwing that out makes God rather less nice than many people would like Him to be.

 

A hypocritical and morally imperfect God is certainly plausible, and would not be affected by the argument in the OP, but would not be an attractive choice to many religions.

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Evil can sound like good...

 

Take a murderer...he is morally wrong...doesn't make what he says morally wrong.

He could be saying stealing is wrong, lying is wrong, and being envious is wrong.

 

...though I do agree that a religion worshipping an morally imperfect god would be unattractive to probably most people.

Edited by Incendia
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Hm. I think there's a loophole in this argument that allows us to have a morally good God.

 

Assuming the OP's argument is valid, we can't have a morally perfect omnipotent omniscient God. Jettisoning moral perfection is unattractive because God's moral perfection is the foundation of much of our current theology.

 

Suppose, however, consider the matter of justice rather than moral perfection. Is God perfectly just? Well, "just" might mean:

 

  1. Giving someone what is owed to them, as in repaying a debt.
  2. Correctly applying higher rules to reach a decision, as in a judge making a just decision.

However, neither definition clearly applies to God: God does not owe anyone anything, and there are no higher rules. God cannot be considered just or unjust.

 

Similarly, we might argue that God cannot be considered moral or immoral in his actions, because there are no higher standards. (Clearly one cannot accept Kantian morality for this argument to work.) Now, it might seem like we've just gotten rid of God's moral perfection, but doctrine could still hold that God's word is morally perfect: that is, God's commands are always good. God himself cannot be moral or immoral, and so whether or not he creates perfectly moral beings can't be held against him; but as a matter of faith, we could still hold that God always commands moral things.

 

(Just avoid reading certain bits of the Old Testament for that last part.)

 

Would this still be an acceptable perception of God, which avoids the OP's argument but is still theologically attractive? Or have I screwed up somewhere?

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