Open Question to Theists and non-Theists


Thank you Jason.

I don’t see how I ever shifted to anything else.

And you have always gone back quickly afterward to defend something you wrote in a book you recommended to me (an argument you used against annihilationists, in that book you wrote before we ever discussed this issue.)

I believe it’s a flawed argument, and actually undercuts one of the main arguments against eternal conscious torment.

And when I brought the subject up, I wasn’t speaking or thinking of someone attempting to improve their existence by ceasing to exist.

You read that into the question, assumed I was suicidal, and attempted to dissuade me from suicide by convincing me that no state of existence is any better than non-existence–and that still seems to be what you’re saying.

So you’re saying that all health care providers who don’t believe in some kind of afterlife are giving family members a load of BS when they say their loved one’s “quality of life” should be factored into their decisions?

By your reasoning, wouldn’t “quality of life” be meaningless in deciding whether to prolong a suffering patient’s existence, as it would be a fallacy to consider their continued existence (in a state of suffering) any worse than non-existence?

And when the owners of a thorough bred filly named Ruffian had her put down because she broke her leg in a race against Secretariat (and was in constant pain) they really did the animal no kindness?

I remember that race because dad bet on Secretariat, and even though he won a lot of money as a result of the accident, he cried for that horse

Even so, I think he would have done the same thing the owners did–but you’re saying that’s just because he shared their foolish fallacy, right?

The idea that there’s some cruelty in letting an animal go on existing in pain is just a human fallacy, because ceasing to exist would be no better for the animal than existing in pain, right?

Isn’t that the position you’re defending here?

Then God knows I’m a fool when I say my daily prayers, because the office for morning and evening prayer has a prayer of general thanksgiving, where we thank God for our existence, and all the blessings of creation.

**But according to you the only beings that could be blessed by creation were those who already existed, so God could only blessed Himself by bringing us into existence–that is what you’re saying, isn’t it?

I deny “knowing” any such thing.

The only time I ever come close to agreeing with what you say here is when I’m in a very dark, nihilistic mood, and could easily stop taking the pills that keep my heart beating normally (or caring about anything.)

Aren’t you actually playing semantics here?

“…doesn’t even have the condition of being someone”?

Not even in the mind of God, where all possible worlds, and all the beings who could inhabit them exist as possibilities?

**Not even in the mind of such an omnisient Being?

If person X exists, wasn’t it always possible for him to exist?

And don’t all possibilities exist in the mind of God?**

Your argument seems purely semantic to me, if you’d agree that anyone who does exist can exist?

When you say (as I think you occasionally did, before repeating the kind of thing you again repeat here) that “existence is principally better than non-existence,” what do you mean?

And why do you always go on to deny that “the condition of someone in existence can be better or worse off compared to the condition of someone who doesn’t exist”?

Are you just trying to make a semantic point?

Are you trying to say it would be better English to say “existence is better than non-existence,” than it is to say “Jason is better off now that he exists than ‘he’ was before ‘he’ existed”?

If that’s all you were ever saying, why did you always find it necessary to repeat such a minor point to someone who was greiving and confussed?

And isn’t even your semantic argument questionable if we consider possibilities?

Can’t we say that a sensless Jason Pratt (who exists merely as a potential in the mind of God) is any better or worse off than an actualized Jason Pratt (existing in a sensible state, in the world God created)?

Your answer seems to be “no,” but I don’t see why?

Are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you’d be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?

Is that really what you believe?

Is that the position you’re defending here (and the position you were defending in the pm’s we exchanged when I had only recently lost my mother)?

If an actualized Jason Pratt is no better off existing in a world created by God (even enjoying the bliss of the highest heaven) than a Jason Pratt who never lived, I fail to see how God creating Jason Pratt could be viewed as an act of love.

And if an actualized Jason Pratt could suffer conscious eternal torment in hell without really being any worse off than one who never lived, what’s wrong with the idea of double predestination?

By your logic, isn’t any moral repulsion anyone here might feel at the thought of double predestination based on a category error?

Because wouldn’t the damned be no worse off suffering eternal conscious torment then they would be if they were never created?

In fact (given your logic) God couldn’t really be accused of hate if He created all of us knowing we’d suffer eternal conscious torment, because, in the final analysis, none of us would really be any the worse of than we would be if He never created us at all.

Isn’t that right?

And (conversely) if the saints are no better off in heaven than they would be if they had never lived, God couldn’t really be credited with acting out of love when He created them, could He?

These seem to me to be the inescapable corollaries of your logic.

Given your logic, that’s the only thing you’ve said that might make sense–but only if you assume God was stuck with His own existence, and needed creatures to improve His condition.

Is that what you believe?

I don’t see how this makes any sense, from your stated point of view.

How can God actively love someone He’s brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities.

And why not let their conditions permanently degrade if they’d really be no worse off in any condition.

It seems to me that the only point creation could have, given your logic, would be to make God’s necessary existence more bearable, and then creation becomes a selfish act, not an act of love.

That’s a thought I find very depressing, and I believe the enemy of my soul has used it (and words you’ve repeated here) when I’ve been tempted to give up on everything.

I don’t think you’ll ever talk anyone out of suicide (much less just letting themselves die, if their in need of daily medication to go on living) by trying to convince them that no state of conscious existence is any better or worse than non-existence.

But whether a created being could improve his condition by choosing to cease his own existence was never my question.

Even though you repeatedly chose to clumsily try to answer that question while ignoring the one I was actually asking.

**Actually, you have Jason.

And that is what you’ve been arguing here.

And you again tried to convince me that you’re right when you said**

**I again deny knowing any such thing, and all you’ve done in your conclusion here is to contradict yourself.


Even though a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, is no better off than a Jason who never lived?

Which is what you clearly implied here.

How is possible for you not to see the contradiction?


Even for an animal who has nothing to learn from this life, no life beyond this, and is suffering in constant pain?

(Assuming for the moment, just for the sake of argument, that there’s no afterlife for animals.)

**Putting Ruffian out of her misery was no act of mercy?

And letting her go on in pain wouldn’t be an act of cruelty?

And creating immortal souls destined for conscious eternal torment wouldn’t be an act of cruelty either?**

Existing in constant pain, without any hope of improvement, would be existing in the worse possible condition, would it not?

**And you’re saying here that existence, even in such a condition, would be better than not existing.

Aren’t you?

And you don’t see how that totally contradicts everything else you’ve said?**

But you just said it has a negative value when compared to existence.
You said

That would mean non-existence has negative value when compared to existence (and you yourself make the comparison here.)

I thank you for that Jason.

Now can see see the many ways you’ve contradicted yourself?

Forgive me Jason, but that sounds like total double talk to me.

And how is it existence itself has value if not compared to non-existence?

I think what you’re saying is that different states of existence can have positive or negative value when compared to each other, but have no value at all when compared to non-existence.

So, in your opinion, does this include the existence of God Himself?

Does His existence have no real value when compared to non-existence?

Does His existence have value to Him only because He already exists (and really has no choice in the matter)?

And did He need us to give His existence value?

Given your logic, who is the giver, and who is the receiver?

I believe you’re totally wrong, and contradicting yourself right and left here.

And are you sure you’re telling us what you really believe?

Once again, are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you’d be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?

Is that really what you believe?

And can you show me where I’ve committed category errors here?

Or where my logical fallacy lies?

P.S. I apparently read over the last part of your post here the first time I read it, and neglected to reply to some of your comments.
For this I apologize.


Fictional characters, as such, have a pretend existence, and so have pretended conditions of existence. At best they’re like memories of persons that once existed, being remembered by persons with actual existence – although they aren’t even that, because fictional persons never existed at all to begin with.

So there is no comparison possible except by category error, or by hypothetically comparing conditions of existence if the characters actually existed – which still wouldn’t be comparing conditions of existence with non-existent conditions of a non-existent existence to see which existent persons (the existent persons or the non-existent existent persons) would be “better off” compared to each other.

“I” can be better off or worse off compared to past or future conditions of my existence, so long as “I” still exist to have comparative conditions of existence. If I ever cease to exist, so does the only method of comparison except by the psychological confusion of other people who are imagining I still exist because they can’t conceive that non-existent persons do not really exist anymore to compare states of existence between.

“I” can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to the conditions of the existence of other persons. My existence has value, and so in that sense has ‘more’ value (by having value at all) compared to the non-value of non-existence, but even then I’m having to cheat a bit for the comparison by imagining a zero level of value when non-existence is not even zero numerically compared to positive or negative real numbers. Non-existence is not a neutrally zero state of existence which can be considered better off comparatively than negative states of existence. (This is the error of people who regard annihilation as mercy, or suicide as still being an improvement of their condition if they ceased to exist afterward. They’re thinking of non-existence as though it’s a neutral state of existence and so relatively better than existing in negative inconvenience.)

“I” can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to hypothetical conditions of myself or other persons, and so compared to proposed fictional characters whose pretended existence has pretended characteristics. But existent persons have value, regardless of their conditions of existence, that non-existent persons don’t have; which is why there is an ethical duty to improve the conditions of existent persons and not the pretended conditions of pretended existence of pretended persons. And even that comparison only works by positing pretended characteristics of fictional persons for sake of hypothetical comparison.

Our existence would have value even if we were in eternal conscious torment and the pretended characters were living happily ever after in a pretended heaven. Which is why our conditions, of the really existent persons, ought to be improved, as an ethical duty, whereas at best improving the conditions of fictional characters only counts as practice or perhaps as an illustration of principles. And that comparison is only possible by the non-existent fictional characters borrowing a sort of secondary existence from the existence of real persons. To ask if we’re better or worse off than something that doesn’t even have enough secondary existence to talk about, and so to ask a comparative question about, is a category error. It would be like snipping off the end of the sentence before getting to the It wouldn’t even be like asking whether we’d be better or worse off than Thursday or the hypotenuse of a triangle, because those at least conceptually exist whereas the totally non-existent does not even conceptually exist anymore (if it ever once did).

And our existence would have value, by the way, and more value as real persons, compared to the mere conceptual existence of Thursday or a hypotenuse (either of which borrow whatever secondary value they have from the value of existent persons), even if we were living in eternal conscious torment, which is why there would be an ethical duty to improve our conditions but no ethical duty to improve the condition of the hypotenuse of a triangle – if that was even possible, but I don’t think the conditional existence of a hypotenuse can be improved or degraded. So is the value of our existence somehow threatened because a hypotenuse only has value thanks to the existence of real persons? Or would our existence in perfectly convenience conditions be comparatively unimportant somehow because a hypotenuse cannot have its conditions of existence (so far as it exists) improved or degraded? Of course not either way!

I can go even farther than that, and argue that a real person annihilated out of existence ought to be brought back into existence, because the real person has real value. But it would be nonsense for me to try to argue that an annihilated persons ought to be brought back into existence because their condition of existence currently as non-existent ought to be improved; although I could coherently argue that they ought to be brought back because their condition of existence before they ceased to exist ought to be improved.

Because you’re still imagining that the non-existent Jason had conditions of existence that could be improved by loving Jason. God acted to give me existence at all, thanks to which reality I now can have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded. When I didn’t exist, I didn’t have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded; consequently my condition of existence didn’t improve by my starting to exist and so to have conditions of existence.

It’s a nonsense question confabulated out of English grammar and confusion of thought. There is no answer except to correct the confusion of thought. The value of a person’s real existence does not depend on an impossible improvement in the conditions of existence of something that doesn’t exist yet to have conditions of existence (and so which isn’t even “something that doesn’t exist yet”). The value of an existent person comes into existence with that person, and is why that person’s conditions ought to be improved – and not falsely improved by annihilating the person out of existence either. Which is one (although not the only) answer to why double predestination would be ethically wrong. Its wrongness isn’t due to God taking a person with completely neutral conditions of existence (which is what is being imagined for comparison as non-existence) and then hopelessly degrading that person’s conditions of existence – although that would be wrong, too, if a non-existent person actually existed to have conditions of existence to be degraded. But that’s a nonsense proposition, perhaps confused with a sequence of events describing a person actually coming to have existence.

Only if they’re only basing it on a category error. The moral repulsion doesn’t need to depend on the non-existent non-characteristics of non-existent persons being somehow degraded.

An uncreated person doesn’t exist to have conditions of existence to degrade or improve. The perma-damned would be worse off than if they were not perma-damned, and they would be worse off than existent persons who are not perma-damned, and if hypothetical non-permadamned persons existed instead of non-existed the perma-damned would be worse off than them, too.

The perma-damned would not be worse off than Thursday, or better off either, although they would have positive value which Thursday does not have (from which value Thursday derives whatever secondary value it does have); nor would they be worse off than fictional persons who only have a non-personal secondary existence; nor would they be worse off than utterly non-existent persons who do not even have fictional existence to even make a hypothetical comparison with if they existed, any more than the perma-damned would be worse off than the non-existent end of a It’s a category error to draw any of those comparisons.

No, He would be accused of hate for creating people He intended to suffer hopelessly. Their moral value does not depend on the nonsense of them having previously existed in non-existence to have existent conditions to degrade or improve, instead of non-existent non-conditions which cannot be improved or degraded because they don’t exist. Non-existent persons do not improve or degrade their conditions of existence by coming into existence: non-existent persons do not have conditions of existence at all. Existent persons are not better off or worse off than their previous existence as non-existent persons, and their value (including their moral value) does not depend on that nonsense being true.

But as long as you just feel in your heart that non-existent persons still somehow exist for their condition to improve or degrade by coming into existence, and that that nonsensical impossibility is the only way existence can have any value (so that if the nonsense is denied and rejected as nonsense then the value of a person’s existence must also be being denied), then you’re going to keep panicking about this non-problem. (And blaming me for your panic about it.)


As someone who has a masters in psychology and a lifelong friend of a brilliant, Greek Orthodox woman (M.S. counseling - University of Chicago, PhD in biblical Archaeology - Oxford), with here own counseling practice - I have this to add. Michael - talk to the right people. They could be:

Crisis lines - you can get numbers from your local public library, adult reference
Family physician
Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy

I know there are good medicines and therapies (i.e cognitive behavioral) around, to address such issues.


I completely agree, and have tried to get Michael to get professional medical help before. I was hoping he was doing so (and my previous condition for talking to him again is that he have gotten medical help to cure his suicidal depression.)

Metaphysics, even perfectly valid, is not going to help for certain kinds of depression. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s like trying to freestyle climb the Empire State Building while bungie cords anchored to the ground are sunk into your flesh. It doesn’t matter how much you want to climb the building, it doesn’t matter how good you’d be at it under normal and healthy conditions – the conditions are fatally weighed against even trying to climb it, and the moreso the more you try. First the bungie hooks have to be removed, and then some time (maybe extended time) spent successfully healing (not time spent unsuccessfully healing). Climbing the building is not the solution to the problem.


Hi Jason.

Let me start with where I disagree with you (and it’s not because I’m mentally ill.)

You say

If something has real value, it would have that value even if no one could recognize it.

A Monet is still beautiful in a room full of blind men, and a Beethoven piano sonata is still beautiful in a room full of deaf men.

I believe God values things like love, loyalty, and courage because they have intrinsic value.

I don’t believe He could create a hell where all His creatures suffered endless, needless, and purposeless pain, and somehow give it value, because He valued it “in His personal judgment.”

That sounds like pure relativism to me.

That’s what Hilary Greaves (Associate Proffessor of Philosophy at Somervile College in Oxford University) calls “the incoherence argument” against existence comparativism, and there are those who disagree with it.

Is it your personal judgment that Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve are too psychologically confussed to get your point?

I understand what you’re saying Jason, and I disagree with you.

Prof. Greaves herself says that your argument is

Is she psychologically confussed, or mentally ill?

It’s true that since I first pointed out the problems with what you said in some book you wrote (that you recommended to me when I was grieving), you have occasionally said that existence has some value–but you always immediately contradict yourself in some way, deny the contradiction, and then complain about being misunderstood.

Here’s an example:

This is the closest you’ve come to actually saying something meaningful, and I do thank you for that.

But it would be much easier (and clearer) to say your existence has value compared to non-existence, then to throw in extra words like “the non-value of non-existence,” and then to try to argue that the “non-value” isn’t equivalent to the numerical concept of zero.

Why isn’t “non-value” zero value?

You contradict yourself Jason, and I don’t misunderstand you.

I know what you’re saying, and I disagree with you.

And so do others.

I agree with Holtug.

The questions I asked you were not nonsense, and you’re the only one confused here (unless you’re confusing others, as you did me once, and I hope to prevent that.)

**The things we’re discussing would be meaningless if there were no God, no possible worlds for God to evaluate, and no possible people He could bring into existence–but than we wouldn’t be here having this discussion.

But the fact that we are here having this discussion is sufficient proof that there are possible worlds for God to evaluate, possible people He can create, and meaningful comparisons that can be made.

It is either better or worse for you to exist than not to exist, and God knows whether it’s better or worse for you.

As long as there’s some quality to your life–or the possibility of some quality of life here or hereafter–it’s better for you to exist than it is for you not to exist.

And if God is good, He must know it’s better for you to exist than it is for you not to exist–even if you’re suffeing now.

That’s the reason to go on when you’re suffering.

That’s the reason not to take the easy way out by committing suicide.**

I’m overwelmed by your charity here Jason.

But suicide is not what I want,

Do I sound suicidal?

No, that’s not the reason I disagree with you Jason (and never was, even when I was at my lowest, and struggling, and you were of no help.)

It may suite your pride to think that’s the only reason someone could disagree with your position here, or see any flaws in your logic, but do Fleurbaey, Voorhoeve, Holtug, and Greaves disagree with you because they’re suicidal?

Are they mentally ill?

Here’s what I find interesting.

After arguing that “A” would be no worse off in Dante’s Inferno than he would be if he were never created, you seemingly contradict yourself by saying that creating him would be an act of cruelty if that destiny were intended by his creator–but instead of explaining why you see no contradiction (as you might be expected to do here), you go on to make some comments about annihilationism.

This whole discussion between us started because you used an argument like that against annihilationism in a book you recommended to me
(Sword to the Heart, I think) at a time when I was greiving–and when I disagreed with the way you worded your argument all you seemed concerned about was defending yourself.

I felt betrayed then, and I do now.

I was vulnerable at the time, and if not for the Grace of God, some of the things you said could have been extremely harmful.

It had to be by the Grace of God because I don’t think my Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science, the Psychology and Sociology courses I took in college, or the schools of therapy I studied (Freud, Jung Adler, Erickson, Frome, Rogers, etc.) really helped at all.

But as someone who has a Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science, and who was working on a Master’s when my world fell apart, I can tell you again (as I’ve told you before):

**For someone grieving, and facing the ultimate questions in life, it’s actually very important to believe there are states of existence that can be better or worse than non-existence.

Without that belief, hell (whether regarded as eternal or temporary, punitive or remedial) offers no deterent to suicide, and heaven offers no incentive to carry on here.

Nothing could be more dangerous than to convince yourself, or someone else, that existence has no real value when compared to non-existence.

If someone is considering euthanasia, convince him that there are reasons not to put people out of their misery in the same way we shoot horses–but don’t try to convince him that there’s no cruelty in allowing an animal to go on existing in needless pain.

If he’s grieving the loss of a loved one, and considering suicide himself, convince him that the hope of being reunited with his loved one in heaven is worth hanging in here for–but don’t try to tell him that he and his loved one will be no better off in heaven than they would be if God had never created them.

I write this mainly for the benefit of those who may be reading along, and may be struggling with grief themselves.

Hang on through the pain, and trust that God brought you into existence as an act of love–and that He knows you’re better off existing than not existing.**

And I again thank Geoffrey, for writting


Thank you Geoffrey.

I think even Jason would agree with that.

I even think he’d agree that if people could have some conception of the joys of heaven, and if they knew that any suffering they experience here (or in some temporary hell hereafter) would lead to heaven, they’d all choose existence over non-existence.

But I’m afraid that to defend a specious argument he used in “Sword of Justice,” he would find it necessary to add something totally irrelevant about people not being able to make that choice if they didn’t already exist.

That’s true of course, but what difference does it make?

Particularly to someone who’s suffering, and in grief?

It only means that if they didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be able to recognize the value of what God’s made possible for them by bringing them into existence–not that existence doesn’t have such things to offer.


Michael: let me briefly respond to some of your statements:

Mental illness is based upon statistical models, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , used by mental health professionals. It takes a qualified professional (someone with the right degree, training and passing the approximate board licensing exams) to evaluate a person and match a diagnosis, to a corresponding category. Neither Michael nor Jason are qualified to do that.

Are you familiar with Grief Share, which is facilitated at various churches, in the US and around the world?

I remember a Star Trek, Next Generation episode. Wolf had somebody in a bar, play a Klington opera piece. To a Klingon, it was beautiful. I thought it was horrible. But Spock or Mr. Data could probably correctly argue, it had intrinsic value - in and of itself.


Perhaps not, but I have used the DSM IV to do bio/social/ psych intake intervies at Bowling Green Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in Pennsylvania (when I was doing my internship there–sorry I can’t remember the name of the town right now), and I doubt Jason has.

So of the two of us, I’m probably the more qualified.

I know you said you have a Master’s, but do you feel qualified to make such diagnosis over the internet?

I believe it’s “Worf,” not “Wolf,” and Spock and Data were fictional characters who saw little intrinsic value in anything.

Do you deny the existence of anything with intrinsic value?

Are you a licensed counsellor, with actual clients?

And do you recommend “Zen” Buddhist medition, and perscribe “homeopathic medicines” for those clients?


“While the DSM has been praised for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria, it has also generated controversy and criticism. Critics, including the National Institute of Mental Health, argue that the DSM represents an unscientific and subjective system.[1] There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from “normality”; possible cultural bias; and medicalization of human distress.[2][3][4][5][6] The publication of the DSM, with tightly guarded copyrights, now makes APA over $5 million a year, historically totaling over $100 million.[7]” - from a Wiki I happened across.

I’ve been told that DSM has ‘evolved’ to the point of being almost useless, since, looked at a certain way, no human being is ‘normal’ :laughing: - everything is a symptom of something - is that a valid criticism?


Michael - To a address your concern, I don’t claim to be 'qualified" to diagnose anyone as mentally ill - as I am NOT licensed. Nor would anyone who is properly qualified and licensed, make ANY diagnosis - over the Internet. They must meet with them in person.

Now someone once attacked me and claimed to be a prophet. But I am correct in saying that organic disease and mental illness, should first be ruled out - as a factor (an historical case is Ellen White, a Seventh Day Adventist historical prophet). Then one needs to apply the proper spiritual tests, like - can then prophesied something and we can see, if it comes true.

I was:

a volunteer at a crisis center
Worked as a supervisor, at a mental health, housing facility
Worked as a volunteer, at an adult social program, for mentally ill people

But I don’t go around arguing, who’s “closest” to being an “expert” on mental illness. Unless we are licensed to make that determination, we are NOT the “proper” experts. PERIOD :question:

Dave - the DSM might not be perfect, but it’s the closest thing we have, to a working tool, for classifying mental illness. And the fact they are now on version 5, means it’s a work in progress.

P.S. to everyone - since I look to historical figures from the Holy Fools tradition as “role models”, I don’t expect any of them, to be classified as sane. :laughing:


For the sake of those reading along, I’d you to clarify the fact that you’re not talking about me here, as I’ve never claimed to be a prophet, and I haven’t attacked you.

I agree, and I don’t believe I attempted to make any such diagnosis here.

Someone who doesn’t meet your qualification standard may have attempted to stigmatize me with such a diagnosis, but all I did was to make a general statement about the inadvisabilty of trying to convince someone you deem suicidal that he’s making a category error if (even in his grief) he holds onto the belief that life is a gift, and that there are states of existence that are better than non-existence.

It’s totally counter-productive to try to convince him there’s no cruelty in allowing an animal to exist in needless pain, because the animal would be no better off if it didn’t exist, and that even at his happiest moments here on earth (and in some future bliss in heaven) he himself is really no better off than he’d be if he never existed.

If you deem someone to be suicidal, and you have reason to think he believes in God, it’s far better to try to convince him that God is good, and that in the end he and those he loves will be better off than they’d be if they were never created, and (even if he’s seen loved ones suffer, and he himself is suffering now) they will have every reason to be truly grateful to their Creator for bringing them into existence when they’re reunited in heaven.

That’s Pastoral counselling 101.

And even if you’re dealing with a client who doesn’t believe in God, it would still make more sense to try to convince him that whatever good times his loved one had, and whatever good times they shared together, and whatever good times he may still be able to look forward to as long as he continues to exist, somehow make existence worthwhile.

Depending on the individual circumstances, that may be a much weaker argument, but it still makes more since than semanticly arguing to him that there’d be no “him” to be better or worse if he didn’t exist.

It would be gross malpractice for any licensed therapist to subject a client to that kind of nihilistic (and in my opinion, poisenous) thinking.

In the former Soviet Union, Psychological diagnosis were used to margenalize, stigmatize, and institutionalize political dissidents.

And here in the U.S. homosexuality has been classified as a disorder, and is now declassified.

And I’m pretty sure that when I was using the DSM IV, there was something in there called “gender identity disorder.”

Does anybody know if that’s still in there?

Does Caitlyn Jenner have a Psychological disorder by today’s diagnostic standards?

I don’t know, but that’s really beside the point here.

The real question is whether anything has any real, objective value.

All I’m saying is that there are conceivible states of existence that are better than non-existence, and that there are things with intrinsic value (totally independent of whether we are consciously able to recognize their value, or of any personal judgment on our part.)

And in answer to that question, I submit these learned opinions.


No, Michael - I don’t refer to you, as the prophet. That person no longer belongs to this group (or if they do, it is under another name and personally).

Our medical and psychological diagnostic systems are not perfect. And each person can be an expert or sounding board. For an approach to disease, I might consult a Native American medicine man or woman, conventional medical doctor and a homeopath. And it wouldn’t be contradictory, to work with all these experts.

And if medical tests can’t reveal a disease cause, i might consult an expert in Oriental Pulse Diagnosis or a medical intuitive.

And i would refer a person to talk to seminary trained and ordained clergy - on theological matters, academic professors with a PhD in philosophy - on philosophical matters, trained and licensed counselors, therapists and psychiatrists - on psychological matters and licensed medical doctors - on disease matters.

Now the experts and I, might see things differently. The theologians - for example - might say don’t hang around the Native American, spiritual healing practices and ceremonies. Don’t practice Zen and Mindfulness. And don’t emulate historical figures, in the Holy Fools traditions. Even if these things bring fresh light and depth, to traditional Christian theology.


Thanks for clarifying that.

You could have been easily misunderstood (especially after some of the things said on this thread by another poster), and I wanted anyone reading along to clearly understand that you weren’t refering to me.

I thank making that plain here.

Would a Franciscan, seminary trained and ordained, Anglican Catholic Priest (who teaches Physics and Theology, and also happens to be a hopeful universalist) meet your criteria?

I’ve been in contact with such a man for five or six years now, and he’s been very helpful.

And he’s never found it necessary to qualify the statement that there are states of existence that are better than non-existence.

Do you mean like Dr. Hilary Greaves, of Somerville College in Oxford, who wrote the paper I’ve been quoting here?

And the sources she cites in her paper (like Holtug, and Fleurbaey, and Voorhoeve)?



I always find a big difference between reading an expert, watching them on video, listening to them on audio - and talking to them in person.

For example:

My friend Dora has a PhD from Oxford in biblical Archaeology from Oxford and a masters in counseling, from the University of Chicago. One of her sons is a leading pioneer in genetic modeling and a professor at Harvard. I had many conversations over the years wit them.
I liked to talk with College of Dupage philosophy professors, who have PhD degrees in philosophy - when I took courses there. They have refreshing perspectives on philosophical matters
My favorite professor was a psychiatrist, who used to teach courses in abnormal psychology. He was also an expert in existentialism, phenomenology, and Zen.
Of course, hanging out with Indigenous medicine men and women, over the years - provided me with a wonderful learning experience.

Become friends with the experts and try to experience positive things - like a vision in the Lakota tradition, the satori experience of Zen, or a mystical experience of Christianity. Then come back down to earth and talk with the locals - like the folks on the forum here.

Probably I’ll continue this dialogue tomorrow.

And if you can find them - like the TV and movie A-Team - hang out with folks from the Holy Fools tradition A-Team,.:smiley:

Probably I’ll continue this dialogue tomorrow.


For face to face counselling I have my local parish priest, and for really deep Theological and Philosophical matters, I have my Franciscan friend in Sydney Australia.

Unfortunately, we have to communicate via email because I live on the other side of the world, but he’s a truly outanding Theologian (and Scientist), and I’m fortunate to able to exchange emails with him.

And, of course, there’s God (and the communion of saints.)

I think I asked for prayers for my dad in my opening post here.

Have you prayed for him?

Have you prayed for me?

I have nothing against the prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, the rosary, or a mystical experience of Christianity–but I’m not into yoga, the satori experience of Zen, or sweat lodges.

Didn’t some people out in California (or Arizona) die pursuing mystical experiences in sweat lodges not too long ago?

And don’t such native American practices often involve using peyote (or other mind altering drugs) to induce mystical experiences?

Do you reccomend that?

If yoga, or zen, or these native American practices have any thraputic value, couldn’t the same effects be acheived (much more scientifically, and safely) using biofeedback?

I will grant you one thing though.

I did know a medical doctor back in the eighties (in New Jersey) who’s daughter was a chiropractor, and whenever I threw my back out he could adjust it by using a trick he said he learned from her.

It probably took less than a minute, and worked every time.

It was really amazing.

BTW: You never answered a question I asked you–do you deny the existence of anything that has intrinsic value?

Someone here said “Value is always a personal judgment”–do you share that opinion?

Do you consider all things relative?

Is there (in your opinion) no intrinsic, objective value to existence in a state of beatitude?

How do you feel about vivisection?

Maybe that’s a bad example, because those in favor of it hope it will serve some higher purpose.

But is it true to say that it would be objectively wrong to do it for no purpose but to inflict pain on the animal?


And if you say it’s wrong, is it wrong simply because that’s your personal judgment, or mine, or God’s–or is it wrong because some things have real, objective, intrinsic value?

Is causing another being to suffer for no purpose not wrong in itself, because existence in a state of suffering (for no purpose) is undesirable?

Or is comparing existence in pain to non-existence meaningless?

Would it be true to tell the owners of the famous race horse who was euthanized after that race with Secretariat

Did these poor misguided humans do what they did only for themselves, when they thought they were doing it for the horse?

That’s clearly what Jason is saying here, and I disagree with him.

Do you believe there would have been nothing wrong with the owners letting Ruffian go on suffering, as long as it didn’t offend human sensibilities (or the angels, or God)?

Is it meaningless to say that a vivisection that served no higher purpose would still be wrong even if it didn’t offend the sensibilities of anyone watching (human or divine)?

Would it be wrong to bring an animal into existence to perform such a vivisection, if you knew in advance that it would serve no higher purpose?

Would it be wrong to bring Ruffian into existence in a permanent state of suffering?

If you say “yes,” and if you think the animal is in no meaningful sense any worse off existing in needless pain than it would be not existing, please explain why it would be wrong to bring it into that kind of existence.

These are philosophical questions, and this part of the forum is supposed to be a place where we can discuss philosophical questions.


But it really shouldn’t be about your education and job experience, my mental health (or the lack of it–or my education and job experience either for that matter), or Jason’s mental health, qualification (or lack of qualification) to make psychological diagnosis, or personal failings.

It should be about the philosophical issues raised by the questions asked–and I’d like to know where you stand on some of them.

Do you agree with Richard Hooker, who said

Or do you agree with the poster here, who said

I agree with Hooker, and if we continue this dialogue tomorrow, maybe you can tell me which statement you agree with?

Till then (as my Franciscan friend and priest would say), Pax Et Bonum.


To answer your questions, I always pray for people who request prayers. And I might direct folks to other sources for prayer:

Catholic sources, like Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal or the Shine of Saint Jude
To the new thought source Silent Unity
Or the Protestant site Guideposts

Would you have a surgeon preform surgery on you, who took a correspondence course on surgery and got his approval from someone - like Donald Trump?

The person pouring the lodge you mentioned, was a new age person. They covered the lodge completely with a tarp. Anyone who knows anything about building lodges, knows you keep the bottom portion uncovered - so the lodge can get fresh oxygen and not have a
nitrogen buildup. Lodges should only be poured and supervised by either indigenous people, trained in how to do them. Or folks trained and approved, by the appropriate indigenous people.

As far as what people call peyote and “mind altering drugs”, such things have been around for thousands of years. I neither endorse - nor condemn - such practices. Provided such ceremonies are done by an appropriate indigenous person, trained and approved to conduct such ceremonies. And such ceremonies are in accordance, with the federal laws, of the host country. But I am more familiar with such practices and ceremonies (I would never admit whether I ever participated), then probably anyone here is.

Yes and no.

If scientific gadgets can replace these traditions, then why is there a whole school of psychological therapy, devoted to mindfulness?
And why does the medicine man in the Native Healing video, report so many healings of things like cancer? And a 100% success rate, for those who follow his directions?

For answers to questions like these, go talk to:

Ordained seminary trained theologians, in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant traditions
Academic professors of philosophy and theology, with PhD degrees.
Folks of other religions, like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Bahais, and Sikhs

In most cases, they will guide you to historical and contemporary philosophical and theological experts to read - if they are the academic type. Or to church teachings, if they are affiliated with a particular church.

In answer to questions like these, I shared this at the beginning:

It reminds me of a famous Zen story at Zen Story: A Cup of Tea - the best answers come from the silence

The key is to find what Zen masters, Holy Fools, indigenous holy and medicine people, and other such folks - find in the silence - that would help sustain them under all circumstances. It’s internal - not external. Then you can sing like Brian does (Note: Monty Python is expressing artistic and historical comedy. It’s NOT necessarily making fun of Christianity and the Crucifixion).



But if peyote is a purple powder, I have seen it used.

I remember pulling a shift once with a guy who was using something he said was peyote, and I don’t think he was native american.

I probably should have reported him for using an illegal substance on the job, but I didn’t.

And since you seem to only be interested in talking about native americans, and their practices, when you’re not talking about Buddhists and alternative medicine, I’ll tell you about the only time I was ever traveled outside the United States.

It was when some friends and I were invited to a wedding on a Mohawk reservation in Ontario.

I’ve never seen an American reservation, but I’ve heard a lot of negative things about them, and I was impressed by how well the Canadians seemed to be treating their indigenous population in comparison to the way I had heard we were treating ours.

The Island of Cornwall is a beautiful, green, wooded area dotted with cottages, where the Mohawk enjoy year round hunting and fishing rights (and where their actually is game to hunt, and fish to catch.)

We were staying with the brides brother, and after the wedding reception, where we all probably had a little too much to drink (but no peyote), he wanted to show us a pig he said he was fattening up for some kind of spring fair.

He took us out to the barn, and when he opened the door this huge thing tried to kill us.

As a city boy, I never knew pigs could get so big, or be so angry, and I figured he must have known what our friend was planing to do to him in the spring.

Anyway, I know something about the Mohawk, and the eastern tribes, and I think what Andrew Jackson did to the Cherokee was a national disgrace–especiall when you consider he did it in defiance of the supreme court, was never impeached, and the Cherokee were a peaceful tribe of people living on farms and growing corn.

Davy Crocket was the only one who stood up for them in congress, and he lost re-election and ended up at the Alamo.

But so it goes.

I’ve been a registered Republican since Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the house (and travelled to Syria when the state department asked her not to), but I’m hoping for a brokered convention, because I wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump if he were running for dog catcher.

Some say a brokered convention would be ignoring the voters, but I’ve never understood why Democrats and Independents are allowed to vote in so many of our primaries (and I believe in all the early states that gave Donald Trump his lead in the delegate count), and I see no reason not to ignore the votes of Democrats and Independents who probably wanted us to have a weak candidate in the general election.

But I’m derailing my own thread here, aren’t I?

Or did you do that–I forget.

Anyway, I like the Mohawk and the Cherokee, and I believe “Nvwadohiyadv” is a Cherokee word meanng much the same thing as “Shalom,” or “Pax Et Bonum.”

So I’ll say “Nvwadohiyadv” to you.

And if anyone reading along is actually interested in the correct answers to the questions raised on this thread, I’ll again submit these learned opinions (from trained Philosophers, with PHD’s in Philosophy):

Hilary Greaves.

Fleurbaey and Voorhoeve

Roberts, Holtug


– Shakespeare from Macbeth

When someone wishes to discuss the above soliloquy, along with the ramifications and bearing it has on their own life - a forum is NOT the proper place. The proper place is to defer them to:

Theologians in a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant church setting
Academic philosophers with PhD degrees
Licensed mental health professionals, with advanced degrees in counseling, psychiatry or psychology
Licensed medical doctors

And if they are “remotely curious” regarding that soliloquy, then they should be directed to read contemporary and historical figures on philosophy, psychology, religion and theology - to find the answers for themselves.


For your information, that soliloquy is from Hamlet–not Macbeth.

And Hilary Greaves et al are contemporary athorites on Philosophy.

I don’t know if you have a Master’s in psychology (as you say you do), but you certainly don’t seem to know much about Shakespeare (or Philosophy), and dating someone who has a PHD in something doesn’t make you an expert in anything.

I’m curious as to why you jumped into the discussion to begin with.

Did someone ask you to?

(If so I would suspect they’re somewhat disapointed in your performance about now, and you probably should have asked them to fight their own battles.)


My Masters in Psychology is from Norwich University. finished in August 1995.

And I had my share of philosophy courses, from Aurora University and the college of Dupage. Considering I usually got A’s in the courses, must mean the professors thought I was learning something regarding philosophy,.

It’s easy for me to make mistakes in things like Macbeth vs Hamlet, as I like to Multitask. And sometimes I multitask in different languages, like French, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

And I don’t date someone with a PhD. I hang around folks with PhD degrees, as well as uneducated, blue collar workers. I often find the blue collar workers, the wiser of the lot.

And I jumped in, because Jason asked if anyone else, had anything to say to you.

And it would appropriate, in accordance with the Holy Fools tradition. And I’m too weird and strange, for anyone to normally upset or rattle me. :exclamation: :laughing:


That speech is one of the most famous in western literature, and it wouldn’t be easy for anyone who’s actually read Shakespeare to somehow confuse Hamlet with Macbeth.

Hamlet strugles with avengering his father’s murder, and MacBeth is himself a murderer.

The plays are entirely different, and in different settings.

One is set in Scotland, and one is set in Denmark.

I’ll have to take your word on that (and, as I believe you’re anonymous here, on your academic and professional credentials too.)

But you should at least recognize an associate Prof. of Philosophy at Somerville College in Oxford University as a contemporary figure in Philosophy.

And recognize the sources she cites in a published paper as contemporary figures.


I misunderstood you here.

My bad.

But why aren’t Greaves, Fleurbaey, Voorhoeve, and Roberts the right people?

I thought so.

Thank you.