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Gordon Tubbs

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The Superman Fallacy
« on: June 30, 2016, 11:06:19 am »
Introduction
The Problem of Evil is one of the more common arguments utilized by the agnostic community to rationalize the non-existence (or amorality) of God. There are multiple ways to logically formulate the problem but many of them seem to put God in an unwinnable scenario, that, or when an agnostic thinks about God they are making God out to be this kind of superhero. My opinion is that making this equivocation is like comparing God to Superman, which I am calling the Superman Fallacy.

Try it out for yourself...
Take any argument against the existence of God and replace God with "Superman" and see what happens. It doesn't always work, but I think we can find some interesting parallels nonetheless.

The Problem of Evil
1. Superman is the penultimate Hero.
2. Superman has superhuman abilities that enable him to defy the laws of physics.
3. Superman would try to minimize or prevent as much evil and destruction as possible, because he cares about humanity and because he is the penultimate Hero.
4. Gratuitous amounts of evil and destruction persist, some even caused by Superman himself.
5. Therefore, Superman is either unwilling or unable to help OR doesn't actually care about humanity.
6. Conclusion, Superman is not the penultimate Hero.

Sound familiar?

The Problem of a Better World
1. I can imagine several actions (X, Y, and Z) that Superman could take that would not violate human free will that would make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.
Quote
For example...
X = Set up a massive Food Bank where people can store food in shipping containers, so that he could take these containers to people dying of hunger.
Y = Take justice into his own hands by setting up his own personal Court, which he has the power to create because no authority on Earth can stop Superman from doing so. This Court would enable Superman to be his own Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He could then go around the world and imprison or execute criminals who commit crimes against humanity.
Z = Go to the Middle East and destroy ISIS.
2. Superman has not done these things, even though they are simple and easy enough for him to do.
3. Therefore, Superman is not trying to make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.


Rejecting Superman
If Superman is unwilling or unable to help, or doesn't care about humanity or even making the world a better place to survive and thrive, then Superman is a False Hero. He may exist, but he is not worthy of being called a Hero, and therefore does not deserve my worship, nor should I listen to anything he has to say.
Ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament (PCUSA)
Regent University, Master of Divinity (Chaplain Ministry)
US Navy (Active 2004-2009, Reserves 2012-2018)

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Atheist in Louisiana

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2016, 02:06:57 pm »
Can you describe a god in a way that wouldn't just be another version of Superman?
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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2016, 04:04:51 pm »
Great question. I think this topic makes for great conversation because I think our conception of God as a Hero is influenced by heroic icons we see today.

To answer your question off the top of my head, I would say that Superman is:
1. a finite and contingent being
2. he can only be present in one location
3. kryptonite can weaken or kill him
4. his intelligence is limited
5. his power comes from the Sun

It's easy to conceptualize a being that surpasses Superman. We're basically getting into Maximally Great Being territory, no? I don't think that's the point though. I suppose what I was getting at was that if a MGB actually existed, would it be a Hero in the first place? If it isn't a Hero, does that not make it a MGB?

That's what I'm trying to convey with the Superman Fallacy: God doesn't need to be a Hero, so it's a false equivocation.
Ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament (PCUSA)
Regent University, Master of Divinity (Chaplain Ministry)
US Navy (Active 2004-2009, Reserves 2012-2018)

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alex1212

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 08:48:55 am »
Can you describe a god in a way that wouldn't just be another version of Superman?

Uh, yeah. It's called Classical theism.

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Atheist in Louisiana

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2016, 02:51:20 pm »
Great question. I think this topic makes for great conversation because I think our conception of God as a Hero is influenced by heroic icons we see today.

To answer your question off the top of my head, I would say that Superman is:
1. a finite and contingent being
2. he can only be present in one location
3. kryptonite can weaken or kill him
4. his intelligence is limited
5. his power comes from the Sun

It's easy to conceptualize a being that surpasses Superman. We're basically getting into Maximally Great Being territory, no? I don't think that's the point though. I suppose what I was getting at was that if a MGB actually existed, would it be a Hero in the first place? If it isn't a Hero, does that not make it a MGB?

That's what I'm trying to convey with the Superman Fallacy: God doesn't need to be a Hero, so it's a false equivocation.

Sure, if you consider the actual comic book character Superman.  But what of a Super-Superman?  Wouldn't that just be an infinite and necessary being, who is can be everywhere at the same time (omnipresent), cannot be weakened or kills (immortal/eternal), has unlimited intelligence (omniscience), and already has unlimited power so doesn't need the sun (omnipotent)?  See how a god is just an extension of the superman concept?

Can you describe a god in a way that wouldn't just be another version of Superman?

Uh, yeah. It's called Classical theism.

See above, Super-Superman is the god of "classical theism".
Had the magazine not published these cartoons, they would not have been specifically targeted.
Consequences, AiL, consequences. - Jenna Black

Hey, if you want to, I'm more than ok with it.  :)  I love the attention. - Questions11

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2016, 08:45:26 am »
I don't think it matters really.

If we can rationally reject Superman, who is just a little bit greater than ourselves, then I don't think the problem is with Superman, it's with us. The world isn't perfect, so who's to blame? That's the rationale where the Problem of Evil and the Problem of a Better World come from, in my opinion.

"Well, if I were God, I would do X, and X hasn't happened, therefore I reject God."

"If God wanted everyone to believe in Him, he should do X, and X hasn't happened, therefore I reject God."

I suppose we could say that comic-book Superman is a hero with amazing powers who uses those powers for the good of all. Because God is a Super-Superman, there's no reason why he couldn't use those powers for the good of all as well. The fact that Superman is less powerful than God, but is actively trying to do something, means he is better than God, because God hasn't done anything remarkable since Jesus.

Is that more or less accurate?
Ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament (PCUSA)
Regent University, Master of Divinity (Chaplain Ministry)
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jayceeii

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Re: The Superman Fallacy
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2019, 10:44:58 am »
Introduction
The Problem of Evil is one of the more common arguments utilized by the agnostic community to rationalize the non-existence (or amorality) of God. There are multiple ways to logically formulate the problem but many of them seem to put God in an unwinnable scenario, that, or when an agnostic thinks about God they are making God out to be this kind of superhero. My opinion is that making this equivocation is like comparing God to Superman, which I am calling the Superman Fallacy.

Try it out for yourself...
Take any argument against the existence of God and replace God with "Superman" and see what happens. It doesn't always work, but I think we can find some interesting parallels nonetheless.

The Problem of Evil
1. Superman is the penultimate Hero.
2. Superman has superhuman abilities that enable him to defy the laws of physics.
3. Superman would try to minimize or prevent as much evil and destruction as possible, because he cares about humanity and because he is the penultimate Hero.
4. Gratuitous amounts of evil and destruction persist, some even caused by Superman himself.
5. Therefore, Superman is either unwilling or unable to help OR doesn't actually care about humanity.
6. Conclusion, Superman is not the penultimate Hero.

Sound familiar?

The Problem of a Better World
1. I can imagine several actions (X, Y, and Z) that Superman could take that would not violate human free will that would make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.
Quote
For example...
X = Set up a massive Food Bank where people can store food in shipping containers, so that he could take these containers to people dying of hunger.
Y = Take justice into his own hands by setting up his own personal Court, which he has the power to create because no authority on Earth can stop Superman from doing so. This Court would enable Superman to be his own Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He could then go around the world and imprison or execute criminals who commit crimes against humanity.
Z = Go to the Middle East and destroy ISIS.
2. Superman has not done these things, even though they are simple and easy enough for him to do.
3. Therefore, Superman is not trying to make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.


Rejecting Superman
If Superman is unwilling or unable to help, or doesn't care about humanity or even making the world a better place to survive and thrive, then Superman is a False Hero. He may exist, but he is not worthy of being called a Hero, and therefore does not deserve my worship, nor should I listen to anything he has to say.
gt: 1. Superman is the penultimate Hero.
2. Superman has superhuman abilities that enable him to defy the laws of physics.
3. Superman would try to minimize or prevent as much evil and destruction as possible, because he cares about humanity and because he is the penultimate Hero.
4. Gratuitous amounts of evil and destruction persist, some even caused by Superman himself.
5. Therefore, Superman is either unwilling or unable to help OR doesn't actually care about humanity.
6. Conclusion, Superman is not the penultimate Hero.

jc: Critically, the humans do not apply similar practical arguments regarding the Deity. The reason for this is very important. They have come to the religion for private benefit, each conceiving himself privately justified against a world of enemies (strangers). The religionists have never held God to practical standards, the religions supported by vague rumors circulating about this or that prayer being answered or promises of future benefits nobody can verify, and where no one is looking very hard.

If the humans attempt applying practical standards to God, soon they are accusing themselves, because as they’d guess how God would end poverty, they should do it.

gt: 1. I can imagine several actions (X, Y, and Z) that Superman could take that would not violate human free will that would make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.

jc: God has not demonstrably stopped one war, one murder, or one crime of any kind. I think the religions have drawn humanity away from crime generally, but no actions have proceeded from the Invisible God against the human race. God must know the source of every dictator, so all the crimes of totalitarian societies should’ve been so easy to prevent.

gt: X = Set up a massive Food Bank where people can store food in shipping containers, so that he could take these containers to people dying of hunger.

jc: The example illustrates unholistic thinking, and is a solution that could not succeed, so I am glad that gt is not superman. The solution ignores the cost to the resources to set up these shipping containers in large quantities, as well as the fact no one has been able to notice, when you throw food at poverty the result is a multiplication of people needing food. Such charity can be called blind, failing to face any long-term consequences responsibly. God has not helped or hindered man, but we see man cannot help himself.

I regard Thomas Malthus to be “the angel with a censor” from the book of Revelation, revealing a critical truth regarding Judgment that is taught in every biology classroom, but nowhere understood. Men are unable to think about global resources, as a whole.

gt: Y = Take justice into his own hands by setting up his own personal Court, which he has the power to create because no authority on Earth can stop Superman from doing so. This Court would enable Superman to be his own Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He could then go around the world and imprison or execute criminals who commit crimes against humanity.

jc: Yes, God could nip evil in the bud with His real powers, but has not done so before now. God has allowed humans to retain control of the globe, manifesting incredible evil.

gt: Z = Go to the Middle East and destroy ISIS.

jc: The terrorists are a consequence of another human sin, of which Christians are guilty.

gt: 2. Superman has not done these things, even though they are simple and easy enough for him to do.

jc: Again, nobody has tendered this argument against God, only gt putatively against superman. No one in history has complained God should start punishing men directly, and gt might wonder if he’d be punished too, if the way of righteousness is not known.

gt: 3. Therefore, Superman is not trying to make the world an objectively better place to survive and thrive.

jc: This ignores the possibility God may be working in indirect ways, and no one can argue with the technological flowering for which the human race is responsible, only with the extremely wasteful way it was achieved, without a moment’s thought to sustainability. In general the flaw of the argument is tying God to specific standards without acknowledging He may still be present and following standards humans don’t see.

gt: If Superman is unwilling or unable to help, or doesn't care about humanity or even making the world a better place to survive and thrive, then Superman is a False Hero.

jc: As gt shows inability to diagnose humanity’s problems or to find lasting solutions, it is seen God must work in indirect ways rather than approaching humanity by useful scriptures. If there is a God then all in the end submit to His rule, even if they don’t know it.

gt: He may exist, but he is not worthy of being called a Hero, and therefore does not deserve my worship, nor should I listen to anything he has to say.

jc: This last little bit is important, for it is seen the human will cast down God after upholding his private standards. This is the fall of man indeed, how men choose to make themselves the standard for good and evil, unwilling and unable to take guidance from God. Humans aren’t going to listen, but Judgment is not about trying to make them listen. Could they rise to objective standards, they’d accuse themselves of the evils God sees.