(But Bull Remains Bull)

(If you want to see the full logs of discussions quoted on this page, please contact me at and I shall do my best to accomodate you.)
Yers made two reply e-mails to this page:
Yers's first reply e-mail
Yers's second reply e-mail

"Honey is Vodka.  For honey comes from a beehive, and a beehive is a bee holder, and a beholder is a spectator, and a specked 'tater is a rotten potato, and vodka comes from fermented potatoes."

On the evening of Saturday, September 11, 1999, Yerserv and I had a discussion on DALnet #atheism on the topic - how could a loving and just god allow people to be tortured forever?  The following is part of that discussion:

<JJA> Yers - all you have to do is demonstrate to me that love = torture and justice = torture.  Then I might concede that you have won your point.

(part of log omitted)

<YerServ> JJA - love allows freedom of the loved - freedom carries risk of self-harm - the risk of self harm implies that some will harm themselves (so, what do we conclude?)

Yerserv later amended this to read:

<YerServ> JJA - love allows freedom of the loved - freedom carries risk of self-harm - the risk of self harm implies that some will harm themselves - self-harm is a form of self-torture - self-torture is a form of torture (so, what is the conclusion?)

Yerserv then challenged me to point out the logical flaws in this chain.  As it was getting on to 2 AM, I told him I'd work on it tomorrow and get back to him.  Away we go...

Link 1: Love allows freedom of the loved.

Often it doesn't, but we'll let that pass.  A mother loves her child, but that child is certainly not completely 'free'.  Love is not equal to freedom, but freedom can allow love a greater expression.  And love often demands slavery of one form or another...

Anyway, love  allows  freedom is not the same thing as love is  freedom, so the argument dies here.  But I'll proceed anyway.

Link 2: Freedom carries a risk of self harm.

Freedom of action does carry with it the risk that you will trip over a rock and hurt yourself.  This is a consequence of properties of our natural and morally and ethically neutral universe; which, as I have stated before, is an extremely poor model for a just and loving god.

Yerserv's strategy is to get you to agree with him that being free can lead to your being hurt - then he pulls a switcheroo when you aren't looking between "hurting yourself" and "being abandoned to hopeless torture for eternity," which are not similar operations.  It is vitally important to Yers that god not be responsible for any torture, since he holds that torture is evil, and he thinks that god is only good.

Anyway, freedom can lead to self harm, but freedom is not self harm, nor does freedom necessitate self harm.  Argument dies here too.  But let's continue.

(As an aside - the function of pain in our natural universe is to tell us that we'll be harmed if we don't stop what we're doing.  But what purpose does the torture of hell provide?  It can't be meant as a warning, since Christians say there is no way out of hell - once you're feeling the pain of hell, it's too late to avoid it.  You can lead a very happy and pleasurable life on earth, and suddenly be chucked into hell because you didn't listen to a group of old myths about a magic sky fairy.  Pain in the Christian hell has no function aside of vengeance.)

Link 3: The risk of self harm implies that some will harm themselves.

Just as the risk of hell implies that some people will go there?  Isn't this deterministic on god's part?  The fact that god built a hell certainly means that some of his creation will wind up in it, doesn't it?

An implication isn't an 'is equal to' either.  Have I mentioned yet that this argument is dead?

Link 4: Self harm is a form of self torture.

Now Yerserv is  trying to slip volition into it without anyone noticing.  Most harms that happen to the 'free' are accidental or unforeseen.  But we're jumping now from 'people experience pain sometimes' to 'people deliberately hurt themselves.'  We're leaping from "I might break a toe on a rock if I run along that path" to "I will slice myself open with knives and burn my flesh, 'cause I'm free."

'Is a form of' is also not 'is equal to.'  From reason's chain, whatever link you strike...

Link 5: Self torture is a form of torture.

In the same way that suicide is a form of murder, I guess.  But you can't punish the person who takes his/her own life, whereas we do punish murderers when we catch them.  Torturing yourself of your own volition is not the same as having another person torture you.

By the way, is self-harm equal to self-torture?  No?  Well, guess what, kids...

So, what is the conclusion?

The above statement becomes quite appropriate with some altered punctuation, as below:

"So what?"  is the conclusion.

I also conclude that Yerserv, by trying to hold two contradictory models of god in his head at once, is damaging his ability to construct a logical argument.

As an additional demonstration, I append the following:

Goodness most often finds expression through Love.  Love allows freedom of the loved - freedom carries risk of self-harm - the risk of self harm implies that some will harm themselves - self-harm is a form of self-torture - self-torture is a form of torture.  Torture is Evil.

By slightly extending Yerserv's argument, I have just demonstrated that Good is Evil.  Yers, I think, will not dispute that goodness is expressed through love, and he definitely agrees that torture is evil, and so if there's something wrong with this linkage, it has to be all that stuff of his in the middle, which I have left unchanged.

And now, Yerserv, I have a logical chain for you:

God loves everyone - he wants us all to be saved.
God is all powerful - no one and nothing can stop God from getting just what he wants.
So what is the conclusion???


I'll append here a few things that Yers is likely to say, and my responses:

Item 1: People make bad choices all the time, and get hurt for it.  So don't you see that if you don't accept my loving god, you will be hurt for it and it will be entirely your fault?

Nope.  First of all, the worst punishment you can suffer on Earth for a 'bad choice' is prolonged suffering or death.  The first of these is not permanent; Death appears to be permanent, but this is part of what's under debate.  You can suffer badly due to Nature, but nothing approaching the Christian concept of eternal Hell.
But Nature doesn't care about you.  Nature is entirely neutral.  Nature does not love, nor show compassion, nor bestow justice.  We expect of a just, loving and compassionate god that S/He/It show love, compassion and justice.  So Nature is the worst possible model for such a god.   Nature rewards the evil and bestows boils on the behinds of the good.  Nature doesn't care about you as an individual, and will not listen when you cry for mercy.  We expect far better than this from a good and just god.

Item 2: So you want god to make you into a silly robot, devoid of free will?

No...  Do YOU want god to let people burn forever in hopeless torment?

Item 3: God doesn't have a choice - but you do.  You rejected him, and he allowed you to do so, so you will have to live with the consequences.

I thought that God has free will?  And he doesn't have a choice - he's forced to wring his hands as hordes of his children stumble into a big fiery pit he dug for them?  How does it fall to you to put such limits on God?  Why does this not make sense?

Item 4: Let's change the subject...  Do you want to be robbed of your free will?  You can't have free will without the infinite reward of heaven and the infinite punishment of hell...  God gave you infinite freedom, so infinite good and infinite evil are the only possible consequences.

If the smoker smokes and gets cancer, and we cure the smoker of his cancer, does the smoker turn into a mindless robot?  Have we destroyed the smoker's free will?
How is it that pain is necessary for free will?  Can you prove this?  Or is it just something you say because Nature bestows a lot of pain and you feel that god must mimic Nature?
How a being of infinite good could plan a scheme of free will that includes as a necessary element an infinite amount of evil is utterly beyond me.  Again, who are you to place such limits on what God can and cannot do?

Item 5: But it isn't god's fault...  It's your fault, because you rejected him.

God didn't make the hell?  Does this mean that God is not all powerful, or that the universe has another creator who made all the evil?

Item 6: God did make the hell...  But god does nothing evil.

If a man builds a torture chamber and stocks it with torture instruments, knowing full well that it will be used to commit torture (an evil act), has not that man committed an evil act?

Item 7: That depends on a lot of things...  But anyway, are you willing to take full responsibility for your denial of my god?  I need to know this before I can dismiss your arguments as the ravings of a damned sinner and fit you into my cosmological scheme.

I do in fact take full 'responsibility' for what I have said, and I do stand behind it.  If it really pleases you to think that I have thereby signed a contract allowing God to let me languish in horrible torments forever, rejecting my screams for mercy and forgiveness because he loves me and wants to 'protect my free will,' then I guess there's nothing I can do to stop you.  I wish you the maximum possible amount of satisfaction from this fantasy.
If god does exist, and he is good, and there is no hell, are you prepared to stand before him and take full responsibility for slandering him so nastily, and telling such horrible lies about him and his plans for souls in the afterlife?

Yers's first reply e-mail
Yers's second reply e-mail

Yerserv admits that Torture is Evil:

Session Start: Sun Mar 28 19:29:51 1999
*** Now talking in #atheism
<JJA> Yers - do you consider torture to be an evil act?

(part of log omitted)

<YerSrve> JJA - yes torture is an evil act