Saturday, December 8, 2012

If You Have to Talk Yourself into It....

While reading Sarah O'Leary's "12 Reasons Why God is Nice" I got the distinct impression that she wasn't really writing something for others to think about. It sounded more like an attempt to convince herself of things she feels she should and/or wants to believe. In any case, her rationalizations are as naive as they are ridiculous. Nearly all of her twelve "reasons" outright conflict with the most basic definition of God. This is, of course, without establishing whether she accepts the Bible as having any authority or not. If O'Leary accepts the Bible even on symbolic terms her reasons become even more tortured but I'll set that aside.

Sticking with the basic definition that God is the supreme being who is perfect, all-powerful, and the creator of all things all but a few of her 12 reasons fall apart after only the slightest scrutiny.

1.God is NICE, 4.God loves everyone, 5.God doesn't get angry, or hold grudges, 11.God is a huge fan of kindness, compassion and generosity
In each of these O'Leary relies predominantly on the assumption that God has emotional states. How can that be the case when emotions are most certainly flawed. In order for God to experience emotions such a being would have to be flawed and therefore by definition not be God. It can not occur otherwise and still be an emotion. Human emotions are largely understood and experienced in comparison with other known emotion so you cannot have a perfect emotion. Her #1 is also interesting since it seems to imply that there can be no connection between God and hate. Where does hate come from? Wouldn't this suggest that God is not the source of all things?

A few of the above also share a few aspects in common with the next set I found to be inter-related.
2.God doesn't want us to feel threatened by Him, 6. God wants us to find peace, and be happy, 7. God doesn't like people who act like they are closer to Him than the rest of us
These all depend on the idea that God wants or doesn't want us to feel certain ways or  to behave in specific ways. The biggest problem with this formulation comes from the notion of "want." If we as humans want something what does that really mean? Either we lack something or we do not have enough of something. If you have that something then you don't want it. More to the point you can't really want it if you already have it since that would be a contradiction of terms. If God is both perfect and the source of all things what can God possibly want? Nothing.

Again, the above leads into the next point which regards free will. God doesn't have to want anything because everything that is, is a direct result of God. This is also true of our behaviors. If God exists there can be no free will since that would negate God's perfection. God is all knowing and therefore would know what was, is, and will be. God cannot lack any knowledge and still remain perfect. Similarly, as the source of all things God would also be the author of all our ideas and behaviors which means the following are pretty much null and void.
3. God isn't a control freak, 8. God is the only one wearing a watch that matters, 9. God doesn't keep a score.
I should probably clarify #9. Without free will there is no morality which means we really can't be held responsible in any meaningful way. Any ideas about a final judgement with preceding punishments or rewards is moot.

Only two of her reasons cannot be completely refuted by definition.
10. God isn't relaxing in Heaven, He's everywhere, 12. God never leaves us
Even if you are a believer the last two standing are not all that impressive considering how vague and superficial they are. It seems somewhat redundant and unnecessary. To my way of thinking it is the equivalent of simply stating that existence exists. Yes, it does. And? Where is this train of thought going? You have to take the statement further otherwise what is the point of making it.

O'Leary concludes with,
"I believe God lives in our human-to-human connections. The God that is in us is the love that feeds us.
Yes, I'm certain, God is Nice."
It is a pleasant enough sentiment but where does she want to go with it? It really does seem to be a sort of motivational letter to herself.

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