Friday, July 27, 2012

Owned - Debunking Christianity: James Holmes and the Perpetual Miracle Objection

John Lofus has continued his series of blog posts in which he tries to judge God for allowing James Holmes to a massacre and injure innocent people at the premiere of the movie Dark Knight Rises at a movie theater in Aurora,Colorado. His basic contention is that if God is what Christianity says God is, then horrible tragedies should not happen leading him to the conclusion that God does not exist. In this series he tried to argue against why God didn't intervene. Before going through is post, I think it's important to remember that the fact that more people did not die in that theater is due that God did intervene. However God did not intervene in the way many of us think God should have, but we don't have all the facts or know what God's purposes are in this to judge God.

When it comes to the problem of suffering for a good omnipotent God, in my books I argue for the possibility of perpetual miracles from God that alleviate suffering among his creatures. I call it the Perpetual Miracle Objection. David Hume didn't use this exact phrase when he objected that the ordering of the world by general natural laws "seems nowise necessary" for God, but it's the same concept. Link. Let's apply this line of argumentation to what Holmes did and see another preemptive way God could have averted the massacre from happening if he exists and if he cares. 

I think scripture upholds that that God could indeed perform miracles continuously so that no one would ever suffer, but would that be really helpful? I don't think so. For example, what if it was impossible to fall off a cliff, building, or bridge because God perpetually changed physics because it would be impossible to die that way and each time it happens God delivers the person differently. If this were true, how would we be able to do science if we didn't know how nature would respond to what we do?  That's a huge show stopper. 

The other thing why is there a mutually exclusive choice between God being obligated to avert the massacre and the idea that if God does not avert it then he does not care or does not exist? Be real. Why would it follow that if God exist or cares that he should have stopped James Holmes. The choice that God would have a sufficient purpose for allowing is just left aside because Loftus has made up in his finite mind that there is no way that could make sense - something that John Loftus could not even begin to substantiate or explaln because he does not know everything.

Does anyone think God could not have created our world in such a way that some kinds of inventions could never be made? 

Sure God could have created our world so that some kinds of inventions could not be made. 

Nuclear weapons would be the most obvious example. If this universe didn't contain uranium (U-235) or plutonium (Pu-239) they could never be made. If such a universe could not be created or be self-sustaining without uranium and plutonium, then what's the problem for God? He could still perform one or more perpetual miracles after the fact, by making this world appear fine-tuned as it does without them. He could have created this universe as it now is and then later performed several perpetual miracles. What is there about an actually existing fine-tuned universe such that it is preferable over constant divine maintenance with the appearance of being fine-tuned? Is God lazy or something? He could even perpetually keep scientists from discovering how to make these kinds of weapons. But he either didn't think about these possibilities, or he cannot do what is required, or he doesn't care. You pick. 

There is no way that Loftus could know what possibilities God did or did not consider when God created our universe. I think it is really silly to suggest that the universe isn't fine-tuned because weapons grade uranium and plutonium exists. Again we don't know all the purposes for them and I'd argue that they may be very necessary for our very existence. As for the suggestion that God could have prevented scientists from discovering how to make nuclear weapons, I'd argue that God did exactly that. Ever wonder why the Nazis failed to develop the atomic bomb first? I mean given that all the best work in nuclear physics was being done in Germany. Why did they fail? Two major issues. Many of those German scientists were Jews and they went to work for the United States. The other problem was the Nazi scientists overestimated the amount of Uranium-235 needed to sustain an explosive nuclear reaction. They incorrectly concluded that there would be no way to extract enough U-235 for uranium ore to get the amount needed (about 15 kg). However, our scientist figured out how to do it (and it isn't easy) and that is one reason why not just any country can make nuclear weapons. And a plutonium bomb is even more difficult to make. God does indeed know what Gos is doing and we don't.

Weapons, that's what I'm talking about here.

But it was because of the same nuclear technology that made the bomb possible, also made the nuclear power plants possible. 

Let's weigh the advantages of the invention of gunpowder with the disadvantages of the human carnage it has caused. Would we be better off? Would the advantages be worth the human carnage?

And just how would anyone of us begin to judge or weigh that?

Would we be able to have roads, railroads, and bridges without it? Would we be able to mine gold or silver without it? Conversely, would we discover other means to kill large numbers of people just as easily? While these questions deserve more than simplistic answers I don't think there would be anything problematic in living without gunpowder.

 Gee, I wonder how would John Loftus go about proving that that is true.  Being finite and limited, no once could honestly believe that we don't need gunpowder.

 After all, human life flourished without it until it was discovered in the 9th century by the Chinese. The lack of gunpowder would inhibit the rise or modernity but why is that important to a God who merely wants to test our souls for an eternal reward or punishment? 

I wonder why John Loftus cannot see why God would want human beings to gain the technological knowledge that we have reached? Who says that God only wants to test our souls for eternal reward or punishment? God already knows that our souls are only worthy of punishment without God's intervention. The Bible tells us what God's purpose for God's people and it's not test our souls because God already knows how crappy we are. (see Romans 8:28,29). Regardless of whether you agree that it is true or not, you have to agree that God's purpose is not to test our souls for eternal reward or punishment.

This could go for such explosives as C-4 too, perhaps others.

Yes, it does. 

Without gunpowder James Holmes would only have a spear, sword and/or a knife. He would not do as much damage. He would not kill or maim so many people.

Not in a short time, but given that the other people in the theater were not armed, the loss of any life is not any less tragic even if there had been fewer people hurt of killed. It also would not change the thrust of the question for why God allowedJames Holmes to kill anyone. We don't know but what we cannot conclude is that God does not exist or that God does not care, no matter how much you want to assert it.

Debunking Christianity: James Holmes and the Perpetual Miracle Objection
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