The paradox of omnipotence

Do you know how long people have know that omnipotent gods are illogical? This long:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
—Epicurus 341–270 B.C

God and skeptics

Is God fair? The Christians say that God damns forever anyone who is skeptical about truth of bunkistic religion as revealed unto the holy haranguers. What this means is that a God, if any, punishes a man for using his reason. If there is a God in existence, reasons should be available for his existence. Assuming that such a precious thing as a man’s eternal future depends on his belief in a God, then the materials for that belief should be overwhelming and not at all doubtful. Yet here is a man whose reason makes it impossible for him to believe in a God. He sees no evidence of such an entity. He finds all the arguments weak and worthless. He doubts and he denies. Then is a God fair in visiting upon such a skeptic the penalty for his inevitable intellectual attitude? The intelligent man refuses to believe fairy tales. Can a God blame him? If so, then a God is not as fair as an ordinarily decent man. And fairness, we think, is more important than piety.

[E. Haldeman-Julius, “The Meaning Of Atheism”]

What good is God?

Over at Pharynula, Caine wins the thread with today’s quotable quote:
“How does injecting your particular nasty ass god into my life make me better?”

Posted in religion. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Found: author of this quotation

I’ve been wondering who said this, which has been floating around the Internet for a while. It turns out to be Stephen F. Roberts:

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Other quotes from Stephen Roberts:

The ‘100%’ Problem

…A popular ploy by theists is the 100% problem. It goes something like this “you cant be an atheist, since you cannot be 100% sure there is no god”.

…Well, of course I cant be 100% sure there is no god. I also cannot be 100% sure that gravity wont stop in 15 seconds, but I can behave as tho I was 100% certain it would not (BTW: it didn’t).

…By the same token, theists can not be 100% sure the universe or the world or their lives will continue for the next 24 hours, and yet they always speak of “tomorrow” and “next week” as if they are certain that such things will happen.

…So yes, I freely admit that I am not 100% sure there is no god, however, lacking any evidence to the positive, I can behave as tho I was 100% sure of that. Just as I act as if I was 100% sure an elephant wont jump out in front of my car and kill me on the drive home, and I can act as if I was 100% sure menacing alien forces wont take control of my mind in the next few hours…

There are many many things we are not 100% sure of and yet every day we behave as if we were. We do so because we have evidence and observations.

To put it more succinctly, Clarence Darrow said

I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.

Confucius says…

  • To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
  • “The superior man undergoes three changes. Looked at from a distance, he appears stern; when approached, he is mild; when he is heard to speak, his language is firm and decided.”
  • What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.
  • The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
  • The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.
  • By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.
  • Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.
  • He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
  • Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
  • The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete.
  • The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
  • The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.
  • The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.
  • Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue.
  • By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
  • What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
  • If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.
  • If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
  • In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
  • Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, see to be worthy of being known.
  • Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself!
  • No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
  • Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
  • Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
  • The faults of a superior person are like the sun and moon. They have their faults, and everyone sees them; they change and everyone looks up to them.
  • The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.
  • The object of the superior man is truth.

—K’ung Fu-tzu, known as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

See the life and teachings of Confucius.

Quick quotes on religion

“A thing isn’t necessarily true because a man dies for it”—Oscar Wilde

… and other fortune-cookie quotes

Quoting George Gaylord Simpson

George Gaylord Simpson, Life of the Past:

“Man stands alone in the universe, a unique product of a long, unconcious, impersonal material process with unique understanding and potentialities. These he owes to no one but himself, and it is to himself that he is responsible. He is not the creature of uncontrollable and undeterminable forces, but his own master. He can and must decide and manage his own destiny.”