Theodicy (Introduction)

by dhw, Monday, October 12, 2020, 14:27 (13 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: And I reject your 'freedom' approach as defining a God who wishes to give up control.

dhw: Since according to you your God wished to give up control over humans to see how they would respond to his challenges, how do you know he did not do the same with all the organisms that preceded humans?

DAVID: They all act with purpose. What is your point?

You reject “freedom” because it means God wishes to give up control. He has given up control by giving humans freedom, so why should he not have done the same for other organisms? Please answer.

DAVID: I've told you it is my belief He cannot design an error-free system due to the speed of reactions required.

dhw:[…]. […] but I’m suggesting that he wished to create the system we have, as opposed to having no choice.

DAVID: Rejected by noting all of God's editing systems to control mistakes.

dhw: Some of which failed. So he tried to correct the errors he couldn’t prevent because he didn’t want us to be harmed, and yet he deliberately designed harmful viruses and bacteria and you don’t know why. […]

DAVID: Confused. We are discussing molecular errors. Not the same subject as bad bugs.

We are discussing theodicy! Your molecular errors are one form of “bad”, which you say he tried to correct because he wished us no harm. Bad bugs are another form of “bad”, and you say he designed them but you don't know why. They hardly fit the image of a God who wishes us no harm, do they? I suggest he didn’t attempt to correct the errors, but the attempts were made by good free cells trying to fight bad free cells, just as good free bacteria might try to fight bad free bacteria, while God watches with interest as they all try to master the challenges to their survival.

dhw:… it wouldn’t be very interesting if he already knew how we and every other organism would respond to challenges, and the only way he would NOT know how we/they would respond would be if he gave us/them the freedom to work out our/their own responses?

DAVID: Give us the brain and challenge us. Good point!

That was your proposal for humans, but you refuse to say why he wouldn’t have given the same freedom to ALL organisms to meet his challenges.

dhw: You have offered the very human explanation that he wanted to challenge us – which can only mean he likes watching how we respond to particular circumstances. You see how nicely that fits in with your other theory – he didn’t want a dull Garden of Eden. And there you have the simplest possible explanation of evolution and theodicy, all in one go. He likes watching how ALL organisms find their own different ways (freedom to act) of meeting the challenges he has set them in the struggle for survival (Darwin), which they conduct through the cooperation of their intelligent cells as well as cooperation with one another (Shapiro and Margulis). The result for all organisms: good and bad ways to get what they want (survival). For humans: good and bad ways to get what they want (survival, power, money, gratification of desires etc.).

DAVID: Except your your persistent 'intelligent' brainless cells a fine acceptable summary.

dhw: I’m delighted that you accept this summary of how evolution works and of the origin of evil. All that remains is for you to tell us 1) how he could retain his interest if he actually organized the responses of non-human organisms, and 2) how he could avoid knowing the responses in advance without giving these organisms the freedom to work out their responses on their own.

DAVID: You are back to humanizing God who has to have gimmicks to retain interest. My view is that God has no need for it.

First you reject intelligent cells, then it’s back to your silly “humanizing”. You have said that your God probably has thought patterns, emotions and other attributes similar to ours, and you have always said that he must be interested in his creations, and it was you who suggested that he wanted to challenge us. Why are the challenges to humans not humanized “gimmicks” but challenges to other organisms are? And how do you know what God needs?

Under “Bacteria fungus symbiosis”:

DAVID: Happily working it out by mutual adaptation using modifying mechanisms that I believe are God designed.

dhw: I’m again delighted to see you acknowledging that they “work it out” using a mechanism designed by your God. The mechanism would have to be what I call “cellular intelligence” – how else can any organism happily work anything out, if not by using its intelligence?

DAVID:True intelligence and automatic programmed responses are never the same. Are you now modifying the meaning of your term 'cellular intelligence'? Do cells think?

Of course they’re not the same. What “modifications” are you talking about? I’m with Shapiro: "Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth and proliferation. They possess sensory, communication, information-processing and decision-making capabilities."
Being able to work things out autonomously does not mean they philosophize about the origin of life, its purpose, the existence of God, etc., if that’s what you’re getting at.


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