If there is anything in nature which the human mind, which human intelligence, energy and power could not create, then the creator of such things must be a being superior to man. But the heavenly bodies in their eternal orbits could not be created by man. They must therefore be created by a being greater than man ...Only an arrogant fool would imagine that there was nothing in the whole world greater than himself. Therefore there must be something greater than man. And that something must be God.I’ve got a great argument against this one. These arguments are founded on the same erroneous principles as Zeno's, for he does not define what is meant by being better or more excellent, or distinguish between an intelligent cause and a natural cause. Okay, I’ll admit it. I stole that last sentence. You’ll never guess where it came from, though. Are you ready? It’s the very next line in De Natura Deorum (search in page for "The arguments of Chrysippus appeared to you of great weight"). Not only that, it’s spoken by Cotta, who is Cicero’s mouthpiece for Stoicism. Context. It’s kind of important. And, seriously, trying to figure that out confused me for about 20 minutes. Either way, it’s a stupid argument to try to make in the 21st Century, anyway. No one is going to tell you that humans made the heavenly bodies. We’re also not going to claim that those orbits are eternal. What we’re really looking at is a modified ontological argument. The standard ontological argument says that if you can imagine something as good as god, then there must be a god. In this case the situation is reversed and says, “I can’t imagine something without god, therefore god.” I can’t imagine being able to wake up tomorrow without a naked Kristen Bell in my bed. I also can’t imagine going to work in anything other than my brand-new Corvette ZR1. I’ll, uh, I’ll let you know how that works out for me. Either way, this chapter keeps pulling me in two different directions. I want to point out how dumb Bill Cooper’s arguments are. But in doing that I have to ignore the purpose of his arguments. So let’s regroup and remember. He’s not trying to say that the ancient Greeks were right or wrong. He’s trying to say that the smart ancient Greeks were that way because they somehow knew the Bible. So it doesn’t matter whether I agree with Epicurus, Zeno, or Cicero. What matters is that they don’t agree with the ancient Jews. Actually, even that isn’t the case. What matters is that they didn’t get their philosophy from ancient Judaism. Even though Cooper does his best to not-argue the Jews in to the equation. Of course, he does this by insulting the Greeks. What other way is there to do things? In reference to the Chrysippus quote I’ve already brought up, Cooper claims, “This may be a good place to briefly reflect upon the somewhat mysterious source of such endearingly plain logic, a plainness of logic indeed that is quite uncharacteristic of Greek philosophy.” I’m not actually sure how to respond to this one. I mean, just because Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, and probably the horse crap Xenophon scraped off his sandal on the shores of the Black Sea were way smarter than Bill Cooper, that doesn’t mean anything. Just because Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, and Xenophon are still smarter than Bill Cooper even though they’ve been dead for nearly as long as Cooper thinks the Earth is old, that doesn’t mean that this quote makes a damn bit of sense in any context. Endearingly plain my left foot. The reason you think it’s endearingly plain, Mr. Cooper, is because you think it sounds kind of like an argument you would make. “I don’t have to twist the words beyond all meaning to make them say what I want them to say,” is not “endearingly plain.” Our author might actually want to go with an “endearingly plain” argument from Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.” Of course, Cooper would probably get that wrong, too. Socrates’ statement was one of the most self-aware philosophies in human history. I think that self-awareness is in precariously short supply in the six-day, 6000 year-old Earth crowd. Either way, he goes on with this endearingly plain bit of stupidity:
The Christian faith had yet to be born, its influence on Greek thought still lying some centuries into the future. So could it perhaps have been through the agency of the recently Hellenized Jews who, albeit they horrified the orthodox of their faith by mingling much of Judaism with Greek thought and practices, unwittingly carried with them into the Greek camp an inherent knowledge of the God of Genesis in a kind of theological Trojan horse?Not a lick of this makes sense. And it’s not just because Cooper apparently can’t be bothered to learn the sorting method to choose between “albeit” and “although.” Merriam-Webster tells me that “although” is actually a meaning of “albeit,” but I pretty much refuse to believe that. And there’s no way that’s not clunky in the above sentence. Anyway, there are any number of problems with this line of thought. Fortunately, I don’t have to point them out because Cooper helpfully follows his previous thought with, “[t]he answer is no, for apart from the fact that one can hardly claim that Jewish philosophical thought was any less complex and sophistic than that of the Greeks, there are also strong historical and chronological grounds for denying Jewish influence in the sphere of Greek philosophy at this particular point in history.” Yeah. You saw that. Cooper just accused the Jews of sophistry. Probably because they had the audacity to not accept Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior even though it’s right there in the Bible. Specifically, it’s page 176 in my version. Right there, in bold face in the middle of the page. Poor Jews. Always getting shat upon for not believing things other people claim are in their texts. Then again, if it’s apparently possible to read the Christian god in to the texts of Plato and Zeno, I guess you can read the guy in to any book. Anyway, next time around I’ll try not to put a knife through my skull while I try to parse Cooper’s thoughts on the Hellenization and Romanization of the Jews. And, I promise, I’ll get to the world’s earliest watchmaker analogy next time. Pinky swear.