Monday, 8 December 2008

Carr - Round 6 April 12 2003

Pate continues to be extremely inconsistent. I think he is genuinely unable to see how he is wrecking his own case.

He claims there is a being, who is keeping things from us for motives which we can never know about, and which we can never criticise. If there is such a being, then Pate cannot also claim to have reliable knowledge about that being. That being might be keeping back from Pate the fact that Pate does not have any reliable knowledge.

So his claims that there is a huge epistemic gulf, and that this huge epistemic gulf has been reliably crossed are self-contradictory. If a being is keeping back very important knowledge from us, then we cannot say that what that being has revealed to us is the last word on the subject. By definition it cannot be the last word.

This is especially true when what Pate claims is being kept from us is, among others, why this being allows millions of children to die horribly for no reason that we can see. If such a being is keeping back from us his motives for letting millions die, then there are very good reasons to distrust what that being says on other subjects.

As I pointed out, God's talk about Heaven, salvation etc may be just God's way of getting us to behave better, just as we tell our children about Santa Claus as a way of getting them to behave better. Pate agrees that there is a much bigger gap between God and us than between us and our children.

Pate has never refuted this claim. He wrote 'I don't think that this is possible in context of the Christian hypothesis that we are evaluating. But OK, just for the sake of an argument, let us assume that this is true. So what? This is merely a red herring. It does nothing to help Steven to establish his contention that suffering gives good grounds to deny God's existence.'

'I don't think this is possible' is not a refutation. Pate simply asserts that what I said is not true, because it contradicts his beliefs. He gave no refutation at all. He cannot, because he is also arguing that there are many things his being has not told us.

In fact, Pate has dug himself into such a hole with his repeated claims that there are many things we don't know about his being, that even if Pate showed that we can't find a reason for such deception, that would not help his case at all.

Pate wrote 'The fact that we can't find a reason for some suffering is not good evidence against the hypothesis that God has reasons for allowing such suffering.'

So the fact that we can't find a reason for some deception is not good evidence against the hypothesis that God has reasons for allowing such deception.' This is Pate's own logic!

All Pate could do was claim that I have set up a red herring by pointing out that, for all Pate claims we know, talk of Heaven might be pure deception by Pate's secretive being (and Pate is
stridently adamant that this being is keeping secrets from us.)

Of course, Pate would not be Pate if he did not go on to contradict himself.

After conceding that he has no way of showing that there are no reasons why his being would not deceive us about Heaven, Pate wrote about a child who dies of cancer at the age of three 'Of course, it seems very sad that some children die at such a young age, but God is more than capable of adequately compensating this to them after their death.'

So after claiming that it was a mere red herring that talk of Heaven could be pure deception, Pate goes on to make Heaven an important part of his case.

So Pate now has to show that there is a Heaven (after claiming that I had set up red herrings by talking about Heaven). He also has to show that children who die of cancer at an early age go to Heaven - a claim that he will never find in his so-called reliable revelation. I certainly would be interested if he can find a passage which says that salvation comes to all who die young from illness.

He might like to tell us how the child will ever achieve this so vital moral and spiritual growth if there is no suffering in Heaven. Or will Pate now claim that suffering is not necessary for moral and spiritual growth, or that moral and spiritual growth is not so vital after all?

Pate's full paragraph read 'Steven knows perfectly well that I did not mean that the moral and spiritual growth in these cases must happen to the child herself. I was talking about the total amount of moral and spiritual growth in the world. Of course, it seems very sad that some children die at such a young age, but God is more than capable of adequately compensating this to them after their death.'

Amazing that Pate thinks that if a child dies of illness, that is a price worth paying if it helps his moral and spiritual growth.

I also found it amazing that Pate is claiming that it would have been wrong for his being to interfere with the Nazi's freedom to gas and work to death millions of Jews and Gypsies.

Pate wrote 'So, once again, there's no implausibility in the idea that actualizing this world where Holocaust happened, was optimal for God in the sense that in this world, the total amount of suffering is as good as can be achieved without God's limiting severely our freedom, but not optimal in the sense that if large enough number of humans would have freely chosen the morally right course of behaviour often enough, then preventing Holocaust without compromising human freedom could have been possible.'

The sentence makes no sense. A world cannot both be optimal and not optimal, but from what I could make of it (and English is not Pate's mother tongue - I am not criticising), Pate states clearly that a world where the Holocaust happened was optimal for God! I also think Pate is claiming that we humans could have stopped the Holocaust , but his omnipotent being was powerless , once the Nazis had freely decided to murder millions.

Perhaps I will be saved after all. I just have to tell God that I have freely decided to enter Heaven, despite not having Jesus as my Saviour , and God will be unable to stop me without severely limiting my freedom.

To sum up, Pate cannot make his epistemic gulf defence work consistently, and it leads to horrible moral consequences, such that Pate thinks the lives of children can be cut short if it helps Pate to grow morally and spiritually.

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