The Implausibility of Satan

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The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Monster » Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:50 am

While listening to the Atheist Experience, I heard Matt Dilahunty read this text from Paul Doland. I thought it was brilliant so I'm posting it here.

http://www.infidels.org/kiosk/article310.html

Summary as written by Doland:

Let me summarize. I don't believe an all-good God could have created a powerful, supernatural being that turned evil. But even if I am wrong, I don't believe an omniscient God could not have known it would happen, or at least make contingency plans. If somehow this evil Satan did come to exist, I don't think that an all-good God would let Satan continue to do evil. But if God did let Satan continue to do evil, I don't think an all-evil super-being would be restrained or act surreptitiously--he would use his supernatural powers openly. But even if this evil being were for some reason at least somewhat restrained, the fact that he, having supernatural powers, could have influence over us mere mortals would mean that we don't truly have free will. So, from start to finish, the concept of an all-evil, super-being Satan is untenable.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Sultan » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:05 pm

The concept of satan in Islam is different in a lot of key areas from Christianity, and also does not fit into the contradictions that you stated. If you want I can explain how, just let me know through a reply. Im new to this forum and dont want to post something that people are generally not interested in.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Monster » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:45 pm

Sultan wrote:The concept of satan in Islam is different in a lot of key areas from Christianity, and also does not fit into the contradictions that you stated. If you want I can explain how, just let me know through a reply. Im new to this forum and dont want to post something that people are generally not interested in.

Post your thoughts.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby OlegTheBatty » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:55 pm

Sultan wrote:The concept of satan in Islam is different in a lot of key areas from Christianity, and also does not fit into the contradictions that you stated. If you want I can explain how, just let me know through a reply. Im new to this forum and dont want to post something that people are generally not interested in.

Post what you like. We have a Belief, Nonbelief and Philosophy subforum for a reason.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:00 pm

I don't believe an all-good God could have created a powerful, supernatural being that turned evil.


Is this premise is assuming that moral values are universal, internally and externally? Perhaps satan can only "turn" within this universe, and outside of this universe the idea of satan as opposed to god is meaningless.

Is this premise assuming that all-good entails never-evil? If so, where does the justification for that assumption come from?y

But even if I am wrong, I don't believe an omniscient God could not have known it would happen, or at least make contingency plans.


Omniscience doesn't necessaries necessitate across all possible futures. There seems no inherent reason why an omniscient god couldn't exist in a universe with quantum randomness, for example.

God might know all facts whilst there still being potential facts in the future.


If somehow this evil Satan did come to exist, I don't think that an all-good God would let Satan continue to do evil.


Maybe god would value freewill as much in his angelic creations as he might in his human creations.

But if God did let Satan continue to do evil, I don't think an all-evil super-being would be restrained or act surreptitiously--he would use his supernatural powers openly.


Satan's greatest triumph was convincing us he doesnt exist, yada yada.

But even if this evil being were for some reason at least somewhat restrained, the fact that he, having supernatural powers, could have influence over us mere mortals would mean that we don't truly have free will.


The conclusion doesn't follow, at all.

So, from start to finish, the concept of an all-evil, super-being Satan is untenable.


I don't see it is any less plausible or consistent than the concept of an all-good super being.

If the world is some kind of arena of souls, why, I think Satan would be nigh on mandatory....of should that be womandatory:p
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby bigtim » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:55 pm

the Koran's view brings forward the Persian pagan mythology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaitan
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:19 am

salomed wrote:I don't see it is any less plausible or consistent than the concept of an all-good super being.


Absolutely true. No rational person believes in either.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Major Malfunction » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:50 am

Monster wrote:While listening to the Atheist Experience, I heard Matt Dilahunty read this text from Paul Doland. I thought it was brilliant so I'm posting it here.


It just seems like a paraphrasing of the Epicurus paradox.

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 (c. 341 - c. 270 BC)
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Sultan » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:06 pm

The following is some interesting points regarding Sunni Islam's view of Satan:

* He is not an angel, he is a Jinn. Jinn's are similar to humans in that they have free will, whereas angels are always obediant and cannot disobey God (although they sometimes debate with eachother and discuss God's judgments, but in the end they cannot be disobedient). This means that Satan (Iblis) becoming evil and going against God's will is not something that is 'against the order of things' or anything that would have surprised God.

* His major sin was not disbelieving in God; in the Quran Satan refers to God as 'My Lord'. His sin was refusing to submit to Adam after Adam was created. God ordered Iblis (Satan or Lucifer) to submit to Adam being a superior creation and he didnt understand the logic in that because he, being a Jinn, was made of fire, and Adam was made of Clay.

* There is no 'war in heaven' in Islam. Lucifer has absolutely no power over God, he is a creation just like everything else that God created. After he is cursed he petitions Allah (saying "Oh my Lord...") to let him have a delay in his punishment so that he can test the progeny of Adam in their faith and obedience to Allah. God allows him this delay until the appointed day of judgment, where he will be the first one to enter hell.

* Satan has no real power over human beings except to whisper to them evil thoughts. The human being (sons and daughters of Adam) have their free will to follow such thoughts or to go with their angelic natures. In Islam, there is no original sin, or any belief that the human spirit is tainted or evil by nature. The Quran says that the essence of man is angelic, and the word for that is 'Fitrah', which means 'essential good nature'. Satan tries to work against man's angelic 'fitrah' to persuade him to do evil, and sometimes he wins and sometimes he loses. In the end though it is man's responsibility to do good, despite these 'satanic whisperings'.

If you read this carefully it answers every point, and even more.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:04 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
salomed wrote:I don't see it is any less plausible or consistent than the concept of an all-good super being.


Absolutely true. No rational person believes in either.


I think you are confusing rational with reasonable Lance. It is entirely rational to believe in these things if your value system is faith based. If your value system is reason based, then....

FYI:

Rational = value preserving
Reason= truth preserving
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Austin Harper » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:15 pm

No,
Dictionary.com wrote:Rational
agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:22 pm

To Sultan

A few questions.

1. Do you believe in the Sunni Islam idea of Iblis?
2. How does the Shiite version differ?
3. Bearing in mind that I am a skeptic, and rely on evidence, is there any empirical evidence you can offer either way?

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Monster » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:23 pm

Sultan wrote:
* There is no 'war in heaven' in Islam. Lucifer has absolutely no power over God, he is a creation just like everything else that God created. After he is cursed he petitions Allah (saying "Oh my Lord...") to let him have a delay in his punishment so that he can test the progeny of Adam in their faith and obedience to Allah. God allows him this delay until the appointed day of judgment, where he will be the first one to enter hell.

Looks like Allah and Iblis are a pair of douches.

I don't have any kids, but if I did, I wouldn't allow an evil person to whisper evil words to my kids.
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The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:35 pm

Austin Harper wrote:No,
Dictionary.com wrote:Rational
agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible


No, that's a dictionary definition, what's called "nominal". The meaningful definition is what we philosophers should use. I'm sure you won't trust me on this.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:54 pm

"Winners write the history."

Satan won the war in Heaven.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Flash » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:47 pm

If he did and decided to hide it from us we wouldn't even know and for centuries we would worship Satan. This would explain the problem of evil in the world wouldn't it? Allah, Yahweh and Jesus all gone, beat up by Satan. Bad news for the religionist/fantasist crowd.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Gord » Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:02 am

Why are you guys being so mean to Santa Satan oh okay I see it now.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Sultan » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:32 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:To Sultan

A few questions.

1. Do you believe in the Sunni Islam idea of Iblis?
2. How does the Shiite version differ?
3. Bearing in mind that I am a skeptic, and rely on evidence, is there any empirical evidence you can offer either way?


1. Yes I do, I'm a believing Sunni Muslim.

2. I'm not really sure how the Shiite differ, there are so many different sects of Shi'ism. Sunni Islam is much more monolithic in creed. I just wanted to point out this was the Sunni view in case other sects are different. About 85% of all Muslims in the world are Sunni.

3. Philosophically Muslims are dualists when it comes to the issue of consciousness. We definitely do not believe that the mind = the brain. There is an otherworldly entity in us called the spirit or the soul that is really in control. However, for this otherworldly entity to function in this world (which is NOT its natural world) it needs the brain to manifest itself. Almost like a radio signal from a station needs a radio to manifest the signal. So damage to the brain will affect the manifestation of the soul through consciousness, but the brain is not the source.

Once you establish this 'spiritual' reality of a spirit or soul within a human being, you can more easilly look for evidence of evil spirits influencing your soul because you do not automatically dismiss people's accounts of these evil whispersing or even visions. Millions of peoples encounters with these evil entities are explained away by scientists and skeptics because they do not believe in the spirit to begin with, much less some other spiritual force that is trying to influence it. So any of these millions of accounts are explained as hallucinations or some kind of mental trauma, if not outright forgeries.

One of the most interesting examples of this was a radio show I was listening to regarding the science behind these types of accounts of 'evil spirits' that people seem to report at an almost constant rate all around the world. Both the host and the scientific guest were of the skeptical persuasion. The guest was describing one incident where he was interviewing a woman who claimed to be visited by these evil spirits (like millions of people around the world) and of course he explained it away as a psychological projection, a type of illusion in her own brain. What was interesting was at one point in the interview the guest said he asked the lady what this evil spirit was doing to her now, and she said his hands were around her neck. At that moment he looked at her neck and found clear red marks of what looked like fingers around her neck. The host was shocked, but the guest simply explained that the only amazing thing about this incident was how her psychological state had so much power over her physical body so that it actually produced those marks as if real fingers were around her neck!

The evidence is there, by the ton. But the bigger question is whether your world-view chooses to take them seriously or explain them away. Islamic theology would argue that the most fair response would be to take each individual case seriously and not to automatically explain them away as impossible because of a materialistic world-view. If you take that approach there is evidence of spiritual realties that transcend the physical attempting to guide individuals to immoral activity.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby TrueSkeptic » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:06 pm

I am an athiest, or to be more accurate, 90% athiest and 10% agnostic because I can never be completely sure. :?

I have read a lot about religion, and I have to say, that if I had to pick a version of god/satan, good evil that makes the most sense to me, it would have to be Judaism.

In Judaism, there is no separation between the source of good and evil - it all comes from God. I think the Hebrew bible confirms this in Isaiah 45:5-7.

From a Jewish perspective, christians have apparently wrongly translated the hebrew word "ra" to mean calamity or disaster when infact it means evil.

It seems christianity may have got their ideas of good and evil from Zoroastrianism rather than the Torah.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:20 pm

Sultan wrote:

Once you establish this 'spiritual' reality of a spirit or soul within a human being, you can more easily look for evidence of evil spirits influencing your soul


There is, of course, a sticking point right there. This being a skeptic forum, most of us engaged in these discussions will want stronger evidence than this. Your belief in a soul appears to be the result of a faith based decision more than any real evidence.

As I keep telling everyone, as a skeptic, I require credible, empirical, and objective evidence. Credible means the evidence needs to be strong. Empirical means it must come from the real world - not from something inside your mind or emotions, or a conclusion based on some personal calculation. Objective means it must be the kind of evidence that is equally real to all rational people - not just meaningful to one person.

Faith may be important to you, Sultan, but it will not be convincing to we skeptics.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:27 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Your belief in a soul appears to be the result of a faith based decision more than any real evidence.


Not always, he may have evidence from his experience, testimony of others, reasoning out the purpose of life and paranormal claims like NDEs and suck like.

As I keep telling everyone, as a skeptic, I require credible, empirical, and objective evidence.


How do you determine the credibility threshold for something like a soul?

What is objective evidence? Especially as a skeptic?

Empirical means it must come from the real world


But if we have souls then are they not part of the real world? You need be careful to avoid circularity here.

Objective means it must be the kind of evidence that is equally real to all rational people - not just meaningful to one person.


Surely objective means its real irrespective of if anyone believes it or experiences it?

Faith may be important to you, Sultan, but it will not be convincing to we skeptics.


What would it take to convince you that Sultan has a soul?
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:52 pm

salomed wrote:What would it take to convince you that Sultan has a soul?


Ironically, an attempt has been made to do this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_MacDougall_(doctor)
The result was ostensibly a measurement of an average weight of 21 grams per soul. Sadly, that experiment has never been repeated, and the result is tarnished by the fact that the experimenter was out to prove his point, meaning confirmation bias.

To convince me that souls existed, I would need to see suitable experimental results, replicated by those without that bias.

If a soul has mass (21 grams), then it must have other physical properties, which would be detectable by instruments.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:44 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
salomed wrote:What would it take to convince you that Sultan has a soul?


Ironically, an attempt has been made to do this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_MacDougall_(doctor)
The result was ostensibly a measurement of an average weight of 21 grams per soul. Sadly, that experiment has never been repeated, and the result is tarnished by the fact that the experimenter was out to prove his point, meaning confirmation bias.

To convince me that souls existed, I would need to see suitable experimental results, replicated by those without that bias.

If a soul has mass (21 grams), then it must have other physical properties, which would be detectable by instruments.


Yea, I am aware of this. It always struck me that the soul is immaterial thus cant have any material quantities (ye olde mind body problem...)

So, (barring quantum dissophestries), it would seem that a priori there can be no experiment to directly test for a soul. Can you imagine a test for the weight of the color green? I can't!

So where this leaves us is that there can be no meaningful expectation of evidence of a soul. At best, we might be able to get evidence of past lives or paranormal phenomena that might be explained by a soul, a very different kettle of fish.

I think that the existence of the soul is a genuine imponderable. I used to be militant about the non existence of the soul, I see now I was mistaken and dogmatic. I cannot know, nor can you.

But I think there is wisdom in meditating upon the idea that all is not as it seems.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:59 pm

salomed wrote:Can you imagine a test for the weight of the color green? I can't!


I can imagine all sorts of other tests for various properties of green light, though.

Our hypothetical soul may not have weight, but if it exists, it should have measurable properties. None have been discovered.

Sure, there is a faint possibility that the soul exists, and humanity simply has not yet found a way to detect it. But that strikes me as improbable.

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The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:58 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
salomed wrote:Can you imagine a test for the weight of the color green? I can't!


I can imagine all sorts of other tests for various properties of green light, though.

Our hypothetical soul may not have weight, but if it exists, it should have measurable properties. None have been discovered.

Sure, there is a faint possibility that the soul exists, and humanity simply has not yet found a way to detect it. But that strikes me as improbable.


One of the key qualities of a soul in its various guises is that it is nonextended and immaterial, I don't think you can be thinking of this soul if you think it has properties. This is one of the big problems with dualism: how can a soul interact with a body or mental events? Equally for any instrument.

So the fact none have been discovered doesn't mean anything to the idea of a soul- none should be discovered, by definition.

Equally you can't ascribe probabilities to the existence or not of souls without commuting this error.

Personally I think the best you can do is say that we seem on an evolutionary continuum and so do bacteria and they done seem to have souls. But that is not very good reasoning , either.

The soul is deeply imponderable, much like what came before or lays beyond the universe. The moment we bring them in, we are not speaking about what they are, if they are at all.

I have faith that if god exists he cares not if I masturbate but I can't have faith that there is or is not a soul. Sometimes the reasonable thing to do is suspend judgement.
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:12 am

salomed wrote:This is one of the big problems with dualism: how can a soul interact with a body or mental events? Equally for any instrument.


You hit the nail on the head there. If a soul can interact with, and even live inside, a material human brain, it has properties that are detectable with material things.

Now, I said I believed souls to be improbable - not non existent. I consider the likelihood to be low enough that for all intents and purposes I act as if there is a surety that souls do not exist.

If, when I die, I discover that I have a soul, I will be considerably surprised.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby OlegTheBatty » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:08 am

salomed wrote:So, (barring quantum dissophestries), it would seem that a priori there can be no experiment to directly test for a soul. Can you imagine a test for the weight of the color green?


There are other tests. Wavelength between 520 - 570 nm for instance. If you click the 'font color' icon, and hover the cursor over a bit of green, you will see a hex triplet, such as '00FF00'. They are another test for green under specific conditions.

If a soul can interact with the material world, there can be a test for its existence. If it cannot interact with the material world, then what good is it? It certainly could not interact with your very material self. It cannot be your 'life', as life very definitely interacts with your material self.

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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby Gord » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:22 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
salomed wrote:What would it take to convince you that Sultan has a soul?


Ironically, an attempt has been made to do this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_MacDougall_(doctor)
The result was ostensibly a measurement of an average weight of 21 grams per soul. Sadly, that experiment has never been repeated, and the result is tarnished by the fact that the experimenter was out to prove his point, meaning confirmation bias.

There was also an alleged study done in East Germany by Drs. Becker Mertens and Elke Fisher. However, there is no reason to believe this study was actually done. The only report seems to come from one of those magazines that just makes {!#%@} up (the Weekly World News). The names of the doctors aren't recorded anywhere else. Even the person who questioned the findings in the article, Gerard Voisart, appears to have been invented -- he certainly was not "the leading French pathologist" as the magazine claimed, nor have any books or papers by such a person been found.

Check out the Weekly World News article yourself, for a laugh: haha!

And for another laugh, I found a mention of Gerard B. Voisart in a later edition of the same magazine! Bwah ha ha ha!

"I don't care if you believe me or not — I had dinner with aliens from outer space," Gerard B. Voisart, 52, told reporters in Bastia, France.

And in case no one has ever heard of -- or mercifully has forgotten about the previous existence of -- the Weekly World News, I remind you of one of their top stories:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_Boy_(character)

Bat Boy!

Image


Remember the magazine nowwwww? :mrgreen:
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Re: The Implausibility of Satan

Postby salomed » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:42 pm

OlegTheBatty wrote:If a soul can interact with the material world, there can be a test for its existence.


Not if the interaction is anisotropic. hence:

If it cannot interact with the material world, then what good is it?


Well, perhaps if all is conciousness, then it is just that, experince structured. If every point in the universe is a point of experince then all could be soul. These is the gist of what many of the world's religions hint at, some explicitly.

It certainly could not interact with your very material self.


It wouldnt interact with you, it would just be the experience of you.
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