Monday, February 1, 2010

Failing to be a good samaritan

Imagine that I am a 200cm, 150kg young man, highly-trained in 3 forms of martial arts, and armed to the teeth with guns and knives.  I am out for a walk late at night in the city and see an average-sized man raping a petite woman in an alley.  Rather than help, I continue walking.  I don't even bother to call the police.  I am then summoned to court for the murder trial of the man, and have to explain why I allowed her to be raped and murdered, when I was easily capable of stepping in and helping, or even calling 911.  I explain to the court that I didn't want to interfere with the man's choice to rape and kill the woman.  What kind of person would that make me?  Should I be punished for failing to help?

Now what would you say if I was an omnipotent, omniscient god and failed to take action?  An omnipotent god is infinitely larger, infinitely more powerful, with infinitely more weaponry at its disposal than the man in the above scenario.  It knows everything, so it is well-aware that the woman is going to be murdered after being raped, yet it fails to help.  This is the quite-real scenario which Christians, Jews and Muslims attempt to shove down our throats every single day of our lives.  Yet they (mostly) claim their god is completely good.  Is it any wonder that I don't buy it?  And is it any wonder that I think they're stupid, disgraceful bitches and bastards for believing it, or why I call their god a monster?


Jim said...

What is even more appalling in the second scenario is that the god created the murderer knowing full well it would live to rape and murder. It could have created a well-rounded individual who devoted his life to helping others, but instead created a raping, murdering person.

And if this god did exist, he would have created millions of these people.

Cypher said...

This is the point I often reach where I hit the circular argument.
If it knows everything(omniscient, seeing all as in past/present/future), then it knows what it will do, and what I will do, so there is no free will.
Also, if it is all-powerful(omnipotent), then it has the power to change the future and past, and even what I am doing, so again there is no free will.
The paradox here is, can God know enough to predict himself, and if so, does he have enough power to change what he sees? Logically, no, so he isn't both.
The point was though, if everything we do is already written to a tee, or if our will can be changed by that of another, what right does it have to punish or reward us?
Simple example, you go to heaven if you pray, you go to hell if you're homosexual. (Didn't want a rhyme, its not the time.) So why does God decide to make 9 prayers and a gay person? And what's the point of commandments, or prophets, or Jesus?
Either im gonna do what he says anyway, or I don't need to.
And it really doenst seem like i need to.

cubew00t said...

Here's something I thought of that shouldn't fail to expose hypocrisy.

1. Country A has 100 people.
2. Country B has 100 people.
3. 50 citizens of Country A meet God's requirements to go to heaven.
4. 10 citizens of Country B meet God's requirements to go to heaven.
5. A citizen of Country B is statistically more likely to go to heaven.

They will accept this most certainly (you can substitute A/B with America, etc.)


1. Poor people on average tend to believe in god at a higher rate of frequency than rich people.
2. People who believe in god will go to heaven.
3. Since less rich people on average believe in god, given equal numbers of rich and poor people, fewer rich people will go to heaven.
4. Rich people are statistically less likely to go to heaven not because they are rich but simply because there are on average less believers per person.
5. Poor people are statistically more likely to go to heaven not because they are poor but simply because there are on average more believers per person.

They will never accept this interpretation, which on an elemental level is no different than the first hypothetical. The more personal it gets, the more they will resist and contradict themselves. Substitute women vs. men for example.

It is like two stones falling from a tower. They fall at the same rate, each time you drop them, you move them closer together until they eventually touch. The speed should be the same, but the religious say, "OOOH double size, double speed."

How sound is my logic (forget the hasty analogy)?

Cypher said...

Maybe I misinterpreted this, is point 5 in hypothesy 1 a given fact, or is your math wrong?
50/100 = 0.5
10/100 = 0.1
So any given citizen of A is more likely to he heaven bound.
Unless the different chances are part of your idea to do with hypocrisy, and I'm totally overshooting.
The rich and poor idea is good, since the bible does talk about how hard it is for the rich to get into heaven.
(Though the catholic leader has his own COUNTRY.)
And it is statistically true, though I can totally see how this, and especially men/women would be rejected despite the numbers backing it up.

Anonymous said...

Got those 2 mixed up.

About the poor thing, try as you might, no religious will accept that fact. Start with the rich poor example then move to the A/B example, they will contradict themselves every time

Feki said...

Out of all the explanations proposed by wikipedia on the "Free will vs Omniscience" issue, I thought this to the less abominable:

God can know all possibilities. The same way a master chess player is able to anticipate not only one scenario but several and prepare the moves in response to each scenario, God is able to figure all consequences from what I will do next moment, since my options are multiple but still limited.

This is actually an uncommon explanation from theists, as it requires a higher degree of intellect to imagine a real-time simulation with god recalculating the course of history every thousandth of a second.

Still it fails, because knowing "all posibilities" still implies that god would know "what will happen in the end" (else there is no omniscience) allowing only an "apparent free will" to which we are supposed to be grateful.

And that'd make god much more of a monster: he knows all the possible alternatives for murder (axe, gun, choke to death) and all possible variations of rape (won't explain myself here). He "foresees" all combinations and "allows" one to happen. What a jerk.

Jim said...

To expand, this god, being all-knowing, would also be supplying Hell with people. He would surely know that certain people were going to sin, and thus be banished to Hell for all eternity.

Seems pretty strange for an all-loving being to create people who he knows from before they are even created are going to suffer an eternity of pain and torture. As far as I can tell, Satan has never created anyone or banished anyone to a lifetime of abuse. Who is the real devil here?

Feki said...

Hell? great, god "made me" knowing I would grow up to doubt his existence and rant about his assorted religions on internet blogs... just so he could chuck me down Lake Inferno among the countless souls who also happened to dissent.

Yet, if I "freely choose" to believe in him, his son, and his ghostly-pidgeon I can save myself. Now, that's real samaritan-esque :)

Unknown said...

I've heard atheists express that they're "angry with God for not existing". I'm not sure if this applies here or not.

I'd like to offer everyone a Free Audio Download: The Problem of Pain.

It discusses many of the points that are discussed here, and provides a more detailed response.

I hope that it gives everyone a fresh perspective & deeper understanding of evil, pain, suffering, and the ramifications it has on each of our worldviews.

Again, this is simply an attempt to share, not an attempt to "convert".

I hope it offers more clarity.

Anonymous said...

Not trying to convert? Please. Your opinion(as in any) is expressed at any time to see who else has it and to make more have it. Saying 'I (don't) believe in (anything)' will just test the waters and open up a debate.
You lot are so full of hypocrisy it's grotesque.

Unknown said...

Daniel (Cypher),

I'm not interested in changing your mind about anything or trying to convert anyone. Even if that was my goal (which it's not) I would be wasting my time.

I believe Dale Carnegie said it best:

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"

Again, my intention was to Share *NOT* convert. Yes I have my own beliefs and opinions but that doesn't mean that by having an opinion I'm tyring to change yours.

I hope this makes my position more clear.

Most of the topics discussed in the comments are addressed in the free audio download. If you're interested, give it a listen.

Anonymous said...

As I JUST said, sharing an opinion is the first step in converting people to it.
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"
Really? Because if he has actually been convinced, despite not wanting to be, he has inherently changed his opinion. Like saying "A man killed without wanting to be is still alive."

Unknown said...


Are you saying then that *everyone* who shares an opinion is (in every instance) trying to convert someone?

It makes no sense - if that's what you're saying. You'll have to enlighten me if it's impossible to share an opinion of (any kind) without trying to convince, persuade, or convert anyone of anything.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are. That is what i have said before, but will say again. When you say 'I think that' or words to that effect you are opening the channel of conversation to attempt to bring others into your way of thinking. You may not actually get that far, but that is what subjective arguments are, expression and duelling of opinions.

Unknown said...


That's totally opposite to Carnegie's quote. The very fact that someone has been "convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still" means he's not convinced. I thought "of the same opinion still" made that clear.

If a theist -or- atheist has the perfect argument and it defeats any and all rebuttals does that mean that everyone is automatically convinced? Nope.

What about zealots that force people to convert to their way of thinking? Does that mean that they've actually changed their mind or have they just gone along with things? Probably Not.

what about a child saying "I like hugs". Taking that as intent to persuade others to like hugs too is (while plausible) is not definitive, provable, or absolute. There's no way to prove intent. Another possibility in (simplistic terms) is that the child just wanted to share that they like hugs.

My motivation for sharing the audio download was to help people (anyone) find answers to their questions about the issue of pain. I stated that. As I said the audio discussed many of the points that were brought up. I shared it because it was useful. End of story. If you don't find it useful - just don't download it. Problem solved.

Believe what you want. I'm not trying to change your mind dude. Let's move on.

Admin said...

Eillix, there is a huge difference between saying that you like something (subjective, opinion-based), and saying that your god exists and answers prayer (nature of reality, existence, factual claim).

"My motivation for sharing the audio download was to help people (anyone) find answers to their questions..."

That's right, answers! (supposedly) Factual answers! YOUR answers! If you are attempting to provide us answers, you are attempting to change our minds or convince us of the facts as you see them.

I too have wondered what exactly you're doing here. You may have noticed that you commented many times on this site before I ever answered. I was interested in seeing your intentions. You began just stating the fact that you're a Christian, and then CONSTANTLY mentioned that you had reasons. Seemed like fishing for somebody to ask. Then you came out with the prayer thing, and I had to jump in.

Why would you want to "share" here? There are plenty of Christian sites where you can share, sites where they won't laugh at you for it. Instead, you come here, where the people who disagree with you are, and you attempt to give us your answers to the nature of reality. Seems to me like preaching and attempting to sway people. I know your religion commands it, so it isn't surprising. The problem is that you aren't admitting it.

Anonymous said...

The fact that said man HAS BEEN CONVINCED means that he has changed his opinion.
'what about a child saying "I like hugs". Taking that as intent to persuade others to like hugs too is (while plausible) is not definitive, provable, or absolute. There's no way to prove intent. Another possibility in (simplistic terms) is that the child just wanted to share that they like hugs.'
Oh trying to undermine me? Hardly surprising. A child will be aware that when it says 'I like hugs,' that it will very likely be hugged by someone who likes hugs too. Almost everyone, but anyway... If someone was to say 'Well I don't like hugs, it is most likely that the child would ask why not, and then give a childish description of how good they are. I have had this experience from disagreements with various children in my family or friend's families. The point still stands.
'Believe what you want. I'm not trying to change your mind dude. Let's move on.'
Just because you're losing doesn't mean you can pull out of the race.

Anonymous said...

should be 'Well I don't like hugs,'

Anonymous said...

And to elaborate, this childish opinion is given to try and persuade the person.