I am going to outline an idea that I'm sure is not original. But, I want to bring it up to see if there are any new perspectives and for those who may not have considered it.

All over various religious texts the god in question will often be described as a creature that can be "provoked," made--by us--to feel some emotion or take some action.

Do some internet searches on phrases like "make god angry," "make god happy," "provoke the lord," etc., etc. and you'll find thousands of references in religious texts and other literature. But here's just one little diddy from 1 Kings 16: "Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him." (It's a whole other issue as to why god go so super pissed at Ahab!--"all the kings of Israel before him"...really?)

My issue is this: If the god in question is supposed to be "all powerful," etc., why do we actually have the power to control god's actions and emotions? Apparently, if you want to make god mad, you can do it by taking any one of hundreds (or thousands) of actions or simply having certain thoughts. You can also make god happy, we are told. And we can do these things so easily, too. It doesn't take very much.

WTF? Is this guy in control of himself or are we the puppet masters pulling his strings?

Also, If we are all doing things at the same moment that make god both angry and happy (and who knows what else), what is he supposed to do? Go back and forth all the time, alternating his emotional output like a computer's CPU sharing processing time between simultaneous tasks? (Sorry for the 'geek' reference, but it's all I could think of at the moment. Fourteen years of doing computer work...) Geez. The guy must be totally fucked up! Talk about ADHD! Plus, what kind of time does he give himself to generate his own emotions and thoughts?

There's my most recent two cents. Spend it wisely ;)

Views: 10

Comment by Doug Reardon on October 11, 2009 at 11:01am
When one tries to make sense of an impossible being, one will run upon contradictions.
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 11, 2009 at 11:57am
Imagine God as a human for a moment - and you know exactly what would make them happy with you or mad at you - this maybe because they want what's best for you, or because they want you to obey them. Or both.
So of course knowing the rules, you can provoke him.
And just because you do, doesn't mean he habours any resentment on another person for it. It's the same for you or me, just because some asshole upsets me, doesn't mean I would take it out on a friend... we all alternate out emotional output.
ALthough I agree that God should not be a puppet, I don't think your argument is fully formed on this one - as I said above, if you know the rules from anything - e.g. in school, you know you can provoke a reaction, because of the rules that are in place.
I would think more along the lines that it is more us controlling or trying to control God when people assert that God would be for or against an issue that is not addressed in the bible directly - this is when people get a picture of God that may or may not be entirely correct of his character but because this idea spreads about his character it becomes accepted by lots of people, and then the whole face of God changes according to us... not him.
Comment by Nix Manes on October 11, 2009 at 1:27pm
Alison, thanks for your post.

My problem is the notion that anything can be "all powerful," as some gods are claimed to be. I'm playing with an idea to express that notion. To me--and many others, going back at least to Epicurius--the idea itself is not possible because of the inherent contractions and oxymoronic situations which make an "all powerful" being impossible. The idea of omnipotence is flawed at its most basic.

With that in mind, I was playing with the idea of power over oneself or (one's self). To explain it another way, if a god wanted to be happy, but I wanted that god to be mad instead, I have the power to override god's wishes. I just need to do or think one of the things outlined in that god's religious texts that claim to make god mad. In those cases, I've never read of a caveat. We do X, god responds with Y. No exceptions. He can't or won't change his mind or ever take anything else into account. In this way, I have power over him. I get to control his emotions. If that's true then he's not all powerful, and for those who claim that to be one of his attributes, means he's not god.

This is just one 'mind exercise,' if you will, about the idea of omnipotence. Trying to apply it to human behavior can be done, of course, and we can learn some things. But this idea I'm playing with shouldn't be compared to humans, I don't think. It's not a human trait I'm trying to explore and anologies to human behavior can be misleading if we're not careful. This is god, right? Not a human. We need to explore those attributes described as being that of a god on their own merits, IMO.

I do understand the ideas you've put across, though. I just think it's one of the flaws of a god-believing mindset, is all.

Thanks again!
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 11, 2009 at 1:42pm
You're reply explains your idea/argument much better I think - however I would still argue that God is mad or happy with an individuals behaviour and so his more general emotions I'm guessing aren't effected. You of course have the power to change God's opinion on you - after all you have the "free will" to do whatever you want. (Lets not get into the Free Will arguement.... LOOOOOOOOOOONG argument, lots of flaws).
Comment by Danielle on October 11, 2009 at 3:08pm
I've never heard this argument before - very interesting!
I do, however, think Alison has a point in saying that god's feelings towards an individual could be said to be different than his feelings (or lack thereof) in general, since every single person must make god feel differently it would be odd I think to try to balance all of those feelings towards every individual into one conglomerate specific "feeling" at any given moment. This could just turn into a circular argument though, like any omnipotent argument. ("Can god make a taco so spicy he can't eat it? Or a rock so heavy he can't lift it? etc)
Comment by Nix Manes on October 11, 2009 at 5:43pm
Hey, Danielle.

I agree that if I thought a god existed then I could attribute having feelings toward one person independently from others (groups or individuals). However, I think, in that aspect of the idea my ponit still stands. I still have control over that god's emotions toward me.

Nowhere in any religious texts do I know of a case where a god says something like, "do this and I'll be pissed at someone else entirely." The person being addressed is included in there somewhere.

There is a similar idea in the realm of S&M (please, bear with me...and, no, this is not from personal experience!). The submissive one is actually the one in charge. They have the control because it is they have possess the "safe word," the command to call a halt to everything. They submit, but everything is done at their insistence and under their ultimate control.

Now, this is not exactly like my initial idea, but it's close. It's not offered as a measure of proof of anything either. It's only to try and clarifiy my idea. (Analogies don't prove anything...but that's another topic.)

In both cases there is a situation set up where rules are established and are rigidly followed. But the person applying the force or taking the action is not the one in control. It's the one who is the focus of that action because with one command, or one action, or one thought, that person can move the other in whatever direction they choose.

In the case of an omnipotent god, he is the one who is being controlled by the actions of the human. We can use the rules set up by that god to get that god to act against/for us as we desire. We are in control.

Some say "fine" to that. God set it up that way and that makes perfect sense. We should be in control of our own destiny. But they then can't claim that god is omnipotent because the ideas are mutually exclusive. So, either the person has to live with this dicotomy somehow, or admit that their god is not omnipotent because that trait is flawed as a concept. The idea of god has to be transformed in that person's mind where, in the end, the idea of a god that is acceptable as a god and who is also not omnipotent brings into question the whole idea of god.
Comment by Shine on October 12, 2009 at 1:27am
This reminded me of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Granted, it is not completely applicable as sins make god feel angry rather than inferior. Nonetheless, it captures the idea of a provoked emotional response to an action placing control in the hands of the provoker. If god is omnipotent and mankind is completely subservient to his will, then it is fundamentally illogical for us to ever be able to have any control by provoking an emotional response.

I remember debating similar points as this in philosophy class last semester. I think the same paradox runs deeper to the actual defining of god. The main points that my philosophy teacher stated as the traditional definition of god were ultimately dependent upon the existence of their oppositions; if god is defined as "infinite," then this presupposes the existence of something that is finite. God may have existed before there was anything finite, but he could not have been described as "infinite" at that point as it is nonsensical to describe something as opposing something that does not exist. I cannot remember the entire argument and am probably butchering it in a incoherent fashion, but the ultimate gist was that the entire concept of god is ultimately dependent upon the existence of a conceptualizer.

I love the S&M metaphor; god, if anything, is surely a dominatrix.
Comment by Prazzie on October 12, 2009 at 12:06pm
Alison Rufus: I'm guessing

It shows. Look at the construction of your "argument": Imagine - and you know exactly - maybe - So of course - And just because - I would think more along the lines...

You're just making stuff up there and then you had the gall to tell Nix: "I don't think your argument is fully formed". Sheesh. Nix's argument is simplicity itself - God is supposed to have all the power, yet we insignificant humans can affect him so much that he totally loses his cool, often.

Nix Manes, great post, thanks! It's been pointed out to me before that we project all our dearest wishes onto our gods, and because we're so primitive, if we try to come up with the most perfect being ever, it's basically a dude who knows everything and can fly! Your post shows how laughably inadequate and fragile God is.
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 12, 2009 at 6:09pm
Prazzie - you're arguing semantics, this is how I communicate. There is nothing wrong in me saying those phrases. It's called drawing a parallel - one that people can relate to. This is an atheist site and after all if we're going to go reductio ad absurdum anytime we discuss the God we're simply making it up ourselves.
Furthermore - for me to TELL you that God's general emotions DEFINITELY aren't effected... would be a great assertion on my part that I have that knowledge, and I don't. The truth is, I don't know for sure. I'm not God.
And note, I didn't say that Nix's argument wasn't a good one, just that it wasn't fully formed... it can be explored a lot further and I think Nix should expand on it. Plus - please note that Nix and I discussed his idea a little in the comments which made his idea clearer to me.
Comment by Prazzie on October 13, 2009 at 2:04pm
Alison, I'm not arguing semantics, hon. I'm asking you to either support your statements with facts or as near as you can get to that, or admit that you simply don't know. Your assertions aren't based on Biblical theology, you're preaching your personal Jesus here. If you managed to convince me to convert to Christianity through your comments or blog posts, where could I go to find the information you've provided so far?

Not in the Bible. Must I then email you for guidance as to what God requires/feels/is? I'm just asking for some consistency. As you said in your last post, you don't know. So why are you "explaining" to Nix that God doesn't harbour resentment when the reality is that you don't know whether He does or not?

An argument can be fully formed (premise + conclusion) without expansion. Nix's argument was "God is omnipotent" is false because Scripture indicates that humans (and animals and trees) are able to provoke anger reactions, ie we exert control over the controller. That is fully formed. Sure you can discuss it further and add to it, but the basic premise is very simple and complete.

So to conclude, I don't take issue with how you communicate, I take issue with what you're trying to communicate. It's all hand-waving woo that you can't substantiate in any way.


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