1. Joined
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    14 Oct '05 04:521 edit
    select excerpts from possibly the single worst (most confused) essay i have ever read, "The Absurdity of Life Without God," by William Lane Craig:

    "But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently support women's rights. For if God does not exist, then natural selection dictates that the male of the species is the dominant and aggressive one. Women would no more have rights than a female goat or chicken have rights. In nature, whatever is, is right. But who can live with such a view?"

    Translation: Craig, like many theists, labors under the misconception that typifies the Naturalistic Fallacy. he thinks that if evolution is true, then certain normative claims necessarily follow. he thinks that if evolution says the world IS this way and the world IS that way, then it necessarily must follow that the world OUGHT to be this way and the world OUGHT to be that way. this is a fallacy, and Craig presumes to burden the evolutionist with the fallacy and then to chide the evolutionist for it (basically no better than a straw man). note that Craig also labors under the false assumptions that his particular God of Christianity and evolution are the only two options available and that they are mutually exclusive. note also how ridiculous Craig's argument really is: he fallaciously asserts that normative claims necessarily follow from evolution, and that, in light of these claims, evolution should be dismissed because man "cannot live" with such depressing conclusions. thus craig is arguing here only for a practical necessity for the belief in his God (and only his particular God); he is not even interested in determining whether or not his God actually exists or whether or not evolution is really true (at least in this essay; i have read others essays written by Craig where he does attempt to demonstrate God in fact does exist). therefore, Craig's argument here has no more content than that of Blaise Pascal.

    "The atheistic world view is insufficient to maintain a happy and consistent life. Man cannot live consistently and happily as though life were ultimately without meaning, value, or purpose. If we try to live consistently within the atheistic world view, we shall find ourselves profoundly unhappy. If instead we manage to live happily, it is only by giving the lie to our world view."

    Translation: Craig hasn't the first idea what atheism really is in general form. Craig also presumes to burden all of mankind by projecting in all directions his own personal inability to find happiness when he confines his intellect to certain possible worlds. Craig should speak for himself.

    "[Under atheism] Each person's life is therefore without ultimate significance. And because our lives are ultimately meaningless, the activities we fill our lives with are also meaningless....This is the horror of modern man: because he ends in nothing, he is nothing."

    Translation: do you see what Craig is trying to slip by us there? he is assuming that it follows seamlessly that if there is no ULTIMATE meaning to life (which Craig would uncompromisingly define in terms of immortal fellowship with his particular God) then there can be no meaning to life on any level whatsoever. that is not an obvious transition at all, but Craig just takes it for granted. he is going to have to fill in the wide gaps there before i take that conclusion seriously.

    "You can't change the truth (simply) because you don't like what it leads to."

    Translation: here Craig is just being ironic to a fault. did he not just attempt to make the case that evolution should, on practical grounds, be rejected out of hand simply because he doesn't like what it leads to? methinks so.
  2. Standard memberKellyJay
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    14 Oct '05 05:361 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    select excerpts from possibly the single worst (most confused) essay i have ever read, "The Absurdity of Life Without God," by William Lane Craig:

    [i]"But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently suppor ...[text shortened]... grounds, be rejected out of hand simply because he doesn't like what it leads to? methinks so.
    [/i]Didn't you and I talk about this a little while back? Maybe not in this
    context, but what meaning is there to life without God, and with God?
    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value
    than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues
    any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning
    can only be found here, so if you pass up a chance at something big
    to care about someone else, you may have passed up your big chance
    and maybe your only chance at something big. If this is all the life
    there is, the only time meaning and value will be found for you will be
    when you make a value judgment or put meaning on something in
    the here and now. After you die you are gone, you take nothing
    with you, your good deeds so called are as important to you as your
    bad deeds so called! It affects you no way, nothing you did to make
    your life better carries on, nothing you saved goes with you, it is all
    nothing, how you choose to affect other people will not add to or
    take away from your new state, because your new state after death
    is again, nothing.

    If meaning requires a purpose or a reason, than without something
    beyond this little sliver of time we have here there is nothing! This
    would than mean that all meaning, all purpose, all reason would
    simply rest in this life time, here today, gone tomorrow. With no
    purpose beyond the values we put on whatever we put on things, be
    they pleasures in what we call good things, or bad things, it wouldn't
    matter to us once we are gone. All satisfaction in anything done
    would also simply be gone, so all we do will be for vanity!
    Kelly
  3. Joined
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    14 Oct '05 06:282 edits
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    [/i]Didn't you and I talk about this a little while back? Maybe not in this
    context, but what meaning is there to life without God, and with God?
    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value
    than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues
    any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning ...[text shortened]... atisfaction in anything done
    would also simply be gone, so all we do will be for vanity!
    Kelly
    yes, we discussed that topic before and, as i recall, vistesd (as is his nature) had a very interesting and engaging post during that discussion which made it pretty clear to me that the lack of "ultimate" meaning to life is nothing for me to lose sleep over. in short, i am not interested in debating that with you: i am willing to concede that if God doesn't exist, then there is no "ultimate" purpose to life, in the sense of how Craig defines that term.

    i am interested in debating whether belief in God is a practical necessity as Craig claims, and i am also interested in debating whether normative claims necessarily follow from the non-existence of God. for example, you say

    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning can only be found here...(emphasis added with italics)

    therefore, you are saying that if immortality and God do not exist, then certain claims about the value (or rather lack thereof) of human life necessarily follow. this is also basically what Craig states as well. but, sorry, i just don't see the connection. you must be relying on an extra assumption that moral considerability (or morality in general) depends critically on whether or not God exists. i don't follow that thinking. could you explain in more depth how you draw the conclusion that life has no intrinsic value if God and immortality do not exist? Craig does not explain it well because he relies on the Naturalistic Fallacy in his attempts at explanation.
  4. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Oct '05 14:311 edit
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    [/i]Didn't you and I talk about this a little while back? Maybe not in this
    context, but what meaning is there to life without God, and with God?
    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value
    than is placed [b]only in the here and now.
    Which ultimately devalues
    any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and m ...[text shortened]... atisfaction in anything done
    would also simply be gone, so all we do will be for vanity!
    Kelly[/b]
    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning can only be found here, so if you pass up a chance at something big to care about someone else, you may have passed up your big chance and maybe your only chance at something big.

    Hi Kelly. I see you’ve been reading Ecclesiastes. 🙂

    I have difficulty accepting that you really believe this. If you were to wake up tomorrow with the certainty that there is only this life, and that’s all, I do not think you would stop loving your wife or your children, or caring about them or others. I doubt that you love people because you “should” or only because you think it’s commanded by God or only because you anticipate eternal life.

    Do you really think that when “all meaning or value is placed only in the here and now” that love and compassion and community and communion have no place in the richness and fullness of that life? That a purely solipsist way of living is not in itself shallow? I love my wife passionately and deeply, but here and now is the only time I have in which to do that—from my perspective—and that makes it more precious, because I don’t have “forever” in which to do that. Every chance that I miss to make what a wise friend of mine called “magic moments” in life is a moment that I can’t get back. But those magic moments seldom seem to have anything to do with grabbing immediate gratification at the expense of a deeper and fuller way of living, which includes loving. That would be to me a shallow and unfulfilling way to live.
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Oct '05 14:341 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    select excerpts from possibly the single worst (most confused) essay i have ever read, "The Absurdity of Life Without God," by William Lane Craig:

    [i]"But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently suppor ...[text shortened]... grounds, be rejected out of hand simply because he doesn't like what it leads to? methinks so.
    [/i]Hi LJ.

    Is not Craig also arguing the flip side: from an ought to an is? That is, in his mind, without a God, etc., there is no ultimate meaning in life, or ultimate ground for morality; there ought to be an ultimate meaning to life and an ultimate ground for morality; ergo, there must be one, there is one?
  6. Standard membertelerion
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    14 Oct '05 17:291 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning can only be found here, so if you pass up a chance at something big to care about someone else, you may have passed up your big chance and maybe your ...[text shortened]... living, which includes loving. That would be to me a shallow and unfulfilling way to live.[/b]
    Didn't Schopenhaur, recognizing the temporality of life, argue that the infinite scarcity of our conscious life made the here and now that much more valuable?

    It seems that if an eternity in heaven awaits us, then conditional on having done the proper things now to gain admittance into heaven, this life's worth vanishes in the limit of the infinite horizon.
  7. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Oct '05 17:49
    Originally posted by telerion
    Didn't Schopenhaur, recognizing the temporality of life, argue that the infinite scarcity of our conscious life made the here and now that much more valuable?

    It seems that if an eternity in heaven awaits us, then conditional on having done the proper things now to gain admittance into heaven, this life's worth vanishes in the limit of the infinite horizon.
    Didn't Schopenhaur, recognizing the temporality of life, argue that the infinite scarcity of our conscious life made the here and now that much more valuable?

    Yes, but I think Schopenhauer was pessimistic about our ability to do that.

    What do you mean by “infinite scarcity?”

    It seems that if an eternity in heaven awaits us, then conditional on having done the proper things now to gain admittance into heaven, this life's worth vanishes in the limit of the infinite horizon.

    That’s the way I see it, but a theist might be able to mount the arguments that (1) since the reward is of infinite worth, that makes this life worthwhile, and/or (2) that the “proper things” themselves are of such a nature as to lead to a full and worthwhile life (e.g., love, justice, etc.—depending on the theist’s perspective on such things).
  8. Standard membertelerion
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    14 Oct '05 17:572 edits
    That’s the way I see it, but a theist might be able to mount the arguments that (1) since the reward is of infinite worth, that makes this life worthwhile, and/or (2) that the “proper things” themselves are of such a nature as to lead to a full and worthwhile life (e.g., love, justice, etc.—depending on the theist’s perspective on such things).

    I think that by addressing what I mean by infinite scarcity, I can also address these counterarguments.

    "Infinite scarcity" was probably a poor choice of words. It basically means what I said later. In comparison to eternity in the future, the measure (in a mathematical sense) of this life is zero. So even if the payoff of those "proper things" is infinite (which seems unlikely), the measure of this life being zero means that the total worth is zero. Given that heaven is infinite in duration, we can assign to it a measure 1 (without loss of generality I'm restricting the support to the unit interval). Given that the payoff of heaven is infinite, the total value is infinite as well.

    As for (1), I was assuming that away by saying "given that we do the proper things to enter heaven." Once we're in, then I think there is no value to this life (from this perspective). Only an infintesimal wait time.
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    14 Oct '05 18:50
    Originally posted by telerion
    [b]That’s the way I see it, but a theist might be able to mount the arguments that (1) since the reward is of infinite worth, that makes this life worthwhile, and/or (2) that the “proper things” themselves are of such a nature as to lead to a full and worthwhile life (e.g., love, justice, etc.—depending on the theist’s perspective on such things).

    I ...[text shortened]... I think there is no value to this life (from this perspective). Only an infintesimal wait time.[/b]
    In comparison to eternity in the future, the measure (in a mathematical sense) of this life is zero…

    But doesn’t this kind of comparative analysis depend on two distinct alternatives? I mean, the point is (and I am arguing against myself here) that you have to get through this life first. I think the usual viewpoint is that the choice is between a serial life that is absolutely truncated (by death) versus life that is an infinite series of moments, so to speak (we’re not talking about the heaven/hell issue here), but that that infinite series includes everything from birth on…?

    Once we're in, then I think there is no value to this life (from this perspective). Only an infintesimal wait time.

    Now I think that you may be getting back to Schopenhauer. His “will to life” was no more than the survival impulse/desire. And his ultimate question was, what do we do with the “wait time” until we die? He suggested reading good books and listening to good music, I believe, to relieve the depressing-ness of it all.
  10. Joined
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    14 Oct '05 21:025 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [/i]Hi LJ.

    Is not Craig also arguing the flip side: from an ought to an is? That is, in his mind, without a God, etc., there is no ultimate meaning in life, or ultimate ground for morality; there ought to be an ultimate meaning to life and an ultimate ground for morality; ergo, there must be one, there is one?
    Hi. nice to see you found your way to this thread. your first post in the thread was really lovely.

    concerning from ought to is, as usual you have given me something interesting to consider. by way of first impression, consider the following closing remarks that Craig makes (i have added emphasis in bold):

    "Now I want to make it clear that I have not yet shown biblical Christianity to be true. But what I have done is clearly spelled out the alternatives. If God does not exist, then life is futile. If the God of the Bible does exist, then life is meaningful. Only the second of these two alternatives enables us to live happily and consistently. Therefore, it seems to me that even if the evidence for these two options were absolutely equal, a rational person ought to choose biblical Christianity....As Pascal said, we have nothing to lose and infinity to gain."

    therefore, (and considering the rest of the essay as well) in his attempt to show the practical necessity of belief in the Christian God, i would break Craig's argument down along the following line of thought:

    1. There can be meaning to life if and only if the Christian God exists. (in support of this premise, he commits the Naturalistic Fallacy.)

    2. Man can only live happily and consistently if his world view entails the existence of meaning to life. (if i have correctly characterized Craig's thoughts, another objection that can be raised with respect to this premise is that for happiness and consistency, it may only be necessary that the world view permits the possibility of meaning to life -- then, even accepting Premise 1 as true, many forms of weak atheism and agnosticism permit the existence of the Christian God as a possibility and hence would satisfy the criterion.)

    3. All things equal, man OUGHT to choose to live happily and consistently. (this premise walks and talks like the Pascal Wager).

    4. From 2 and 3, man ought to choose a world view that entails the existence of meaning to life.

    5. From 1, the only world view that entails the existence of meaning to life is the Christian world view.

    6. Finally, from 4 and 5, man OUGHT to subscribe to the Christian world view.

    so it seems to me, at least at first glance, that he is arguing from ought to ought, namely from "man ought to choose to live happily and consistently" to "man ought to subscribe to Christianity." as Craig says, he is not interested in this essay in arguing to the "is" claim that the Christian God does in fact exist.

    the reverse arguing from is to ought does occur, however, and seems to show up mostly in his support of Premise 1 above.

    having read some of Craig's other essays, one of his arguments for the existence of God is similar to the argument you describe. the argument runs as follows:

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    this argument does end with the "is" conclusion, but it does not contain any "ought" claims (ie, instead of saying "2. Objective moral values SHOULD exist," Craig is claiming that they do in fact exist).

    so, my first impression to your question is that Craig does not try to argue from ought to is, but i may have to think about his argument some more and whether or not my outline of bolded premises above is accurate.
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    14 Oct '05 21:11
    Originally posted by telerion
    Didn't Schopenhaur, recognizing the temporality of life, argue that the infinite scarcity of our conscious life made the here and now that much more valuable?

    It seems that if an eternity in heaven awaits us, then conditional on having done the proper things now to gain admittance into heaven, this life's worth vanishes in the limit of the infinite horizon.
    hi tel. interesting that you should bring up Schopenhauer. i was just about to sit down with his "On the Vanity of Existence." hopefully i'll be able to add something to this discussion once i read his essay.
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    14 Oct '05 21:51
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value
    than is placed [b]only in the here and now.
    Which ultimately devalues
    any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning
    can only be found here, so if you pass up a chance at something big
    to care about someone else, you may have passed up your big chance
    and maybe your only chance at something big.[/b]
    What is the "big chance" you are talking about? I would say that if you have the chance to care about others, that is a big chance you shouldn't miss. It gives both pleasure and meaning in the here and now. Somehow, many Christians make it sound like caring about others would be a nuisance which keeps us from doing fun things like hurting others, and the only reason why anyone would do it is that we can expect a reward (going to heaven). They are surprised that I can be a nice person without believing that life has a meaning (in the sense of some sort of ultimate goal). I find this both baffling and a bit scary. If the only thing which keeps them from doing bad things is their faith, what if they lose their faith? What would you do if you'd lose your faith? Would all your ethical values go together with it?
  13. Standard membertelerion
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    15 Oct '05 00:04
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    hi tel. interesting that you should bring up Schopenhauer. i was just about to sit down with his "On the Vanity of Existence." hopefully i'll be able to add something to this discussion once i read his essay.
    His essay "On Religion" is pretty interesting too. Two philosophers argue over the role and value of religion in society.
  14. Standard memberKellyJay
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    15 Oct '05 14:041 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]I can see that if there is nothing beyond this life, all meaning or value than is placed only in the here and now. Which ultimately devalues any reason for caring about others, since all pleasure and meaning can only be found here, so if you pass up a chance at something big to care about someone else, you may have passed up your big chance and maybe your ...[text shortened]... y of living, which includes loving. That would be to me a shallow and unfulfilling way to live.
    [/b]I really believe there is meaning to this life, and it goes way beyond
    the current borders of our existence here too. I did not become a
    Christian until I was 25 years old, I’m 49 now. Before I got saved I
    had next to no contact with Christianity. My experiences with
    Christian pastors were limited to marriages, funerals and a few
    minutes of Christian programming before the football games started
    growing up on TV. I visited a church maybe 3 times that I can
    remember before I got saved, if there was more I don’t recall. I can
    recall my mindset before I got saved and afterwards.

    I did not say that all life would lose all meaning, or that my ability to
    care for my wife and kids would go away, only that all caring would
    be diminished for everyone if they lived only for the here and now.
    When I was growing up I was brought up in an alcoholic family, I
    was into drugs early on. I lived for the moment most of my early life,
    there was nothing else. My friends and I sought out pleasure with
    parting, music, the girls we ran around with, there was some restraint
    but it didn’t take much for some of the people I ran around with to
    cross the line, and when that happen the worst, had one going to jail
    for murder, and a few others ended up there for other things, a few
    of them died doing stupid things too.

    If you have a planet living only in the moment, you tell me what
    keeps them living up to a moral code, someone else made up? When
    they know they can get away with breaking it, or just as bad thinking
    they can get away with it? As it stands now you see rejections from
    many people refusing the moral codes of religion, do you think any
    that are substituted will be accepted completely, or will all attempts
    to form another code for all, will also be equally rejected instead of
    revered?

    I’m not saying that some commitments to others or things cannot
    be strong, but in the very end so what if they are if there is nothing
    beyond this life? Your value you have placed on your wife is an
    outstanding thing, believe me. I do honestly believe that, but I’m
    simply speaking about if there is nothing else after this, your value
    you have with your life, with your wife goes away after the two of
    you die, and then it no longer carries meaning beyond if there is
    nothing else. So too the life of someone who cheats on his wife every
    time they can, his cheating will carry with it pleasure and pain for
    him here too, but nothing beyond. So where is the scale of what is
    better between a life that cheats and one that is committed to their
    spouse?
    Kelly
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    15 Oct '05 19:34
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I did not say that all life would lose all meaning, or that my ability to
    care for my wife and kids would go away, only that all caring would
    be diminished for everyone if they lived only for the here and now. ...


    If you have a planet living only in the moment, you tell me what
    keeps them living up to a moral code, someone else made up? ... I’m no ...[text shortened]... nnot
    be strong, but in the very end so what if they are if there is nothing
    beyond this life?
    Hello. I rec'd your post because I like your questions and appreciate the opportunity to participate here, if I may.

    Let me disclose that I found my spiritual home in the practice of Zen. Whether I qualify as a religious Buddhist is a complex question. At any rate, Zen teaching instills a sense of questioning and open-minded skepticism about any religious claim, including those of Buddhism. Speculations about what is beyond this life get short shrift, and great importance is invested in awakening to this present moment. As you may already be thinking, this raises a question about the basis of moral conduct.

    The emphasis on complete awakening or "enlightenment" is an interesting angle from which to consider the question. Intially, it moves in a direction that - from the concerns you express in your posts - would seem to lead to nihilism: we not only dispense with a need to assume that there is anything beyond this life - we even dispense with the need to believe in an autonomous, fixed identity. Oh no, now what? Why should we value anything or anybody if there isn't even a 'self' to be held accountable for its actions? How can moral conduct emerge from emptiness?

    A mature understanding of no-self, however - and I speak of an actual experience of emptiness, not a philosophical theory or intellectual idea - means understanding that the barrier between self and other is arbitrary; it is an intellectual distinction, with important uses and yet no more than an intellectual distinction. When the emptiness of self and other is truly realized, harming you makes no more sense than choosing to harm myself.

    That experience requires effort and time, alas, but its ramifications are profound and validate the wisdom of moral precepts while, also, discouraging a rigid or literal attachment to rules - there may be a circumstance in which following the letter of the precept actually causes harm. The authority is not an external judge, but compassion in the true sense of that word. When you and I are one, it hurts me to cause you suffering; and it is in my interests to care for us both. Indeed, to care for all sentient life. As one contemporary teacher says (I paraphrase), morality without awakening is not complete morality; and awakening without morality is not awakening.

    This awakening is not limited to "living for the here and now," a phrase that implies rootlessness. You mentioned your own experience early in life, when you were into drugs, and you and your friends sought pleasure in partying, music, and sex, leading to tragic choices by some of your friends. This, however, does not appear to be an example of people truly awake to who they are in this moment; it sounds like the opposite. You and your friends invested a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money into not being there.
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