Saturday, August 18, 2012

Degrees of Perfection and the problem of Christ

 In my previous post I wrote about a number of problems with the argument from, and thus the difficulties of applying a yardstick of, Degrees of Perfection (DOP). The argument assumes that "degrees of perfection" implies the existence of a "perfect being" that can be called God. This assumes, of course, that “degrees of perfection”  is not only objectively real, but culminates in the embodiment of God.  A question that the argument fails to answer, however, is why we must assume that “degrees of perfection” indicates a "perfect being" any more than degrees of temperature indicates a perfect temperature. 
The DOP argument assumes that, at some point, we can reach the ultimate perfection of God, or that perfection, by being infinite in degrees, should be called God. Either conclusion is problematic, however. If we say the DOP can reach an "ultimate perfection" then we are reducing an infinite God to some finite standard. On the other hand, if we say that perfection itself is infinite, then we are handicapped by being finite ourselves, and have no need or reason to call it God. Indeed, our limitations prevent us from determining if one is any different from the other.

Ultimately, this argument, like so many other arguments for the existence of God, miraculously transforms an infinite DOP into an infinite G-O-D, without explaining why the former requires us to accept the latter. Numbers are real, for example, and can stretch into infinity as easily as degree of perfection, but that does not lead us to believe in a perfect number that we should call the "God - number" any more than that we should call the sum of all numbers God.

What do we mean by "perfection" anyway? What standard should we be using to measure "perfection?"  Do we mean perfection in an animal sense, a human sense, or in some divine sense? And how can we compare? A human cannot run, throw, or see as far as a camel, a gorilla, or a God, so a perfect human cannot be measured against the "perfection" of any of these.  Humans cannot hear on the same frequency as dogs or see ultraviolet light like Bees, or even see the farthest planets without a telescope. The octopus and the horned owl, for that matter, have more "perfect" eyes than humans, but humans have better eyes than bats. Bats, however, have better sonar than humans. Does this mean Christ had eyes like an owl and the sonar of a bat? The point is, we can no more measure the "perfection" of a dog, a bee, or a telescope, by comparing it to a man, than we can compare the perfection of a man by comparing him to a God. Even comparing a man to other men poses the problem of what, exactly, we should compare and how should its "perfection" be defined in a vacuum, and by whom.

Christ was supposedly the "perfection" of both man and God (he had to be for his sacrifice to be "perfect"), but does that mean he had ears like a dog, eyes like a bee, and sight like a telescope?  Does it even mean he could leap tall buildings in a single bound or run faster than Usain Bolt? Or are we saying that all human beings, upon reaching the level of "perfection" that Christ embodied will have the power to walk on water and raise the dead? And if humans can never reach such a perfection, because Christ was supposedly perfect man and perfect God, then we're saying that that kind of perfection is not one that we can or will ever reach, so what's the point of using such a measure at all?

Furthermore, when we say something is "perfect" we must ask not only "perfect for what," but "perfect" in what sense, and compared to what? For comparing imperfect people to a perfect God is like comparing my laptop computer to the entire universe, which is a perfectly ridiculous thing to do.

Finally, imperfect beings are not made "more perfect" simply by accepting that a "perfect" being exists. Even if an objectively perfect being does exist, it would still be imperfectly interpreted by an imperfect being. The true perfection of a perfect being could only be interpreted "perfectly" by another perfect being. An imperfect being, such as ourselves, is too imperfect to truly know the perfect perfectly. As such, the question of whether a perfect being exists is perfectly ridicules. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

It is truly amazing to think about how much our religions, which all claim to come in the name of peace and love,  prefer war and violence t...