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Impotent or Evil

 
LarryP
 
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LarryP
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14 June 2016 05:32
 

In light of conversation about the Orlando massacre, I looked up Sam’s “impotent or evil” quote, and keep seeing references (many in memes) to the following:
“Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.”

I’ve seen this quote in many speeches/debates, and written in Letter to a Christian Nation, but I have never seen him add “or he doesn’t exist”,  “or imaginary” or the entire last sentence.  The last sentence seems pointless and stupid and out of character (unless it was said sarcastically in a debate).

Does anyone know if he actually said/wrote this?

 
Hitchslap101
 
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Hitchslap101
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14 June 2016 06:22
 

I’ve never heard him say it with the entire last sentence, or the “or he doesn’t exist” part.

However, I’d say whomever made the meme, thought it looked weird out of context - people wouldn’t know the context at which this was said; without which, people might have thought Sam was actually suggesting God does exist.

[ Edited: 14 June 2016 06:25 by Hitchslap101]
 
 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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14 June 2016 09:52
 

@ LarryP & Hitchslap101

Yeah, I’ve never seen or heard Harris add that last piece either. I’d agree with Hitchslap that it was probably someone’s attempt to clarify context. The first time I heard Harris use the line was in his first debate with William Lane Craig. In that debate, he used the line within the context of assuming the premise that Craig had offered - namely, that God was the source of objective morality.

 
jdrnd
 
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14 June 2016 15:07
 

Whether Harris said it or not,
I’ll go with “God doesn’t exist”.

 
Poldano
 
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14 June 2016 22:36
 

“Imaginary” and “does not exist” seem to me to express the same semantics. Yet the nuances of the first term and that of the second term seem to be substantially different.

Anyway, the quote cannot be completely true without the non-existence qualification, although that might have been implicit.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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14 June 2016 23:26
 

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

 
 
Poldano
 
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15 June 2016 00:05
 
GAD - 14 June 2016 11:26 PM

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

Ah, but He does attempt to remove evils. He sends us to do it, which means we’re every one of us on a Mission from God like the Blues Brothers. The problem with us is, we’re limited both in the information we have access to and the capability to process that information. That means we screw up a lot, and a lot of us have to undo the messes that others of us make. It also takes time, which is no problem for Him, being eternal, but a really big deal for us, being mortal. Now that mortal quality is a bummer, but it’s got its bright side, because it means we only have to do this stuff—cleaning up messes or making messes for others to clean up—for a limited time.

wink

 
 
GAD
 
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15 June 2016 01:08
 
Poldano - 15 June 2016 12:05 AM
GAD - 14 June 2016 11:26 PM

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

Ah, but He does attempt to remove evils. He sends us to do it, which means we’re every one of us on a Mission from God like the Blues Brothers. The problem with us is, we’re limited both in the information we have access to and the capability to process that information. That means we screw up a lot, and a lot of us have to undo the messes that others of us make. It also takes time, which is no problem for Him, being eternal, but a really big deal for us, being mortal. Now that mortal quality is a bummer, but it’s got its bright side, because it means we only have to do this stuff—cleaning up messes or making messes for others to clean up—for a limited time.

wink

Agreed, the problem is us.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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15 June 2016 03:31
 
Poldano - 14 June 2016 10:36 PM

“Imaginary” and “does not exist” seem to me to express the same semantics. Yet the nuances of the first term and that of the second term seem to be substantially different.

Anyway, the quote cannot be completely true without the non-existence qualification, although that might have been implicit.

I suppose something can exist in ones imagination, so perhaps God is imaginary is more accurate.  God is a fictional being is also true.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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15 June 2016 12:47
 

In a way, I admire the ancient pagan belief in Zeus and the cadre of gods and goddesses that occupied Mount Olympus.

There was never any question about whether or not the gods did evil acts; they simply did what they felt like doing.

If Zeus got up on the wrong side of the bed, he just might send a lightning bolt to split your cranium and fry your brain just for giggles.

There was at least an honest acceptance in paganism that the gods were capricious and you could never know what they would do next.

The Judeo/Christian/Muslim God causes a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance for those that believe in him. Horrible natural catastrophes, terrible diseases, plagues, parasites, birth defects; all must be stuffed into the feeble explanation: “God works in mysterious ways… but he loves you.”

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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15 June 2016 13:00
 

Classical Greek and Roman deities are not so much the focus of religion as the cast for a soap-opera. Their primary job was always to provide entertainment in return for being worshipped.
I think the people back then got more value for their prayers than we get today.

 
 
Poldano
 
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15 June 2016 21:42
 
Twissel - 15 June 2016 01:00 PM

...
I think the people back then got more value for their prayers than we get today.

They got free meals using leftovers from sacrificial animals, so yeah.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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16 June 2016 11:33
 
GAD - 15 June 2016 01:08 AM
Poldano - 15 June 2016 12:05 AM
GAD - 14 June 2016 11:26 PM

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

Ah, but He does attempt to remove evils. He sends us to do it, which means we’re every one of us on a Mission from God like the Blues Brothers. The problem with us is, we’re limited both in the information we have access to and the capability to process that information. That means we screw up a lot, and a lot of us have to undo the messes that others of us make. It also takes time, which is no problem for Him, being eternal, but a really big deal for us, being mortal. Now that mortal quality is a bummer, but it’s got its bright side, because it means we only have to do this stuff—cleaning up messes or making messes for others to clean up—for a limited time.

wink

Agreed, the problem is us.

Lesson learned, never attempt to pin any negative stuff on God - he’s to receive only accolades!

 
 
Poldano
 
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16 June 2016 20:36
 
icehorse - 16 June 2016 11:33 AM
GAD - 15 June 2016 01:08 AM
Poldano - 15 June 2016 12:05 AM
GAD - 14 June 2016 11:26 PM

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

Ah, but He does attempt to remove evils. He sends us to do it, which means we’re every one of us on a Mission from God like the Blues Brothers. The problem with us is, we’re limited both in the information we have access to and the capability to process that information. That means we screw up a lot, and a lot of us have to undo the messes that others of us make. It also takes time, which is no problem for Him, being eternal, but a really big deal for us, being mortal. Now that mortal quality is a bummer, but it’s got its bright side, because it means we only have to do this stuff—cleaning up messes or making messes for others to clean up—for a limited time.

wink

Agreed, the problem is us.

Lesson learned, never attempt to pin any negative stuff on God - he’s to receive only accolades!

Both negative and positive can only be known to humans anthropocentrically, so I suppose it’s either or both with respect to pinning stuff on the primal cause. Still, if being is supposed to be universally preferred over non-being, then there is at least one accolade that’s unavoidable. On the other hand, if non-being is to be universally preferred, then there is one negative criticism that’s unavoidable. Take your pick.

By the way, the previous assumes that God is the first cause of all being, as in the self-definition I am that am. According to one poster in the Is Karma True thread (https://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/68042/), even some Hindus like this definition. Therefore we can’t just dismiss the notion as an oddity of Abrahamic religions. It seems to be an artifact of human cognition, and a fundamental one at that.

wink

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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18 June 2016 16:53
 
Poldano - 16 June 2016 08:36 PM
icehorse - 16 June 2016 11:33 AM
GAD - 15 June 2016 01:08 AM
Poldano - 15 June 2016 12:05 AM
GAD - 14 June 2016 11:26 PM

Epicurean paradox

The “Epicurean paradox” is a version of the problem of evil. Lactantius attributes this trilemma to Epicurus in De Ira Dei:

  God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?

Ah, but He does attempt to remove evils. He sends us to do it, which means we’re every one of us on a Mission from God like the Blues Brothers. The problem with us is, we’re limited both in the information we have access to and the capability to process that information. That means we screw up a lot, and a lot of us have to undo the messes that others of us make. It also takes time, which is no problem for Him, being eternal, but a really big deal for us, being mortal. Now that mortal quality is a bummer, but it’s got its bright side, because it means we only have to do this stuff—cleaning up messes or making messes for others to clean up—for a limited time.

wink

Agreed, the problem is us.

Lesson learned, never attempt to pin any negative stuff on God - he’s to receive only accolades!

Both negative and positive can only be known to humans anthropocentrically, so I suppose it’s either or both with respect to pinning stuff on the primal cause. Still, if being is supposed to be universally preferred over non-being, then there is at least one accolade that’s unavoidable. On the other hand, if non-being is to be universally preferred, then there is one negative criticism that’s unavoidable. Take your pick.

By the way, the previous assumes that God is the first cause of all being, as in the self-definition I am that am. According to one poster in the Is Karma True thread (https://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/68042/), even some Hindus like this definition. Therefore we can’t just dismiss the notion as an oddity of Abrahamic religions. It seems to be an artifact of human cognition, and a fundamental one at that.

wink

There is the view that before the big bang, as it were, the plan was laid out in full, and the clockworks is merely winding down.  It is what it is, as we sometimes say.

 
 
Poldano
 
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18 June 2016 21:12
 
bbearren - 18 June 2016 04:53 PM

...

There is the view that before the big bang, as it were, the plan was laid out in full, and the clockworks is merely winding down.  It is what it is, as we sometimes say.

That’s structurally equivalent to Deism. It’s also worth talking about from a completely physical point of view. For example, did the Big Bang or something before it initiate the causality that is currently responsible for the apparently random events in Quantum Mechanics?

 
 
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