The Malicious Titans Theory

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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:15 am

Problem of Evil. Epicurus. Look it up.

There is more than just one contingency.

1) The Titans are not all-powerful abut are well-intentioned. So it is not fair to assign all the blame to them if that is the case.
2) They are not all-knowing but are well-intentioned. Arguably this is a subset of #1. Again, blame cannot be assigned
3) They are malicious.
4) They are indifferent and their actual involvement and motives are anyone's guess.
5) They don't actually exist.

MarbitChow wrote:Does anyone have an non-evil explanation for why non-allied units in the same hex MUST attack each other until only one side remains? Defenders with zero move cannot leave the hex, but why can't the attackers retreat if they are not lead?


It's a gamey abstraction to represent what unlead soldiers are going to do when left near enemies. Fight. Presumably they wouldn't have to if they were allied or neutral. It may also be how they enact their "Loyalty" to their standing orders. In any case, it's a lizard-brain sort of situation where soldiers act on their aggression and therefore aren't going to step-back and take into account the big strategic picture.

It's like that one scene in Apocalypse Now with the cut-off outpost being attacked by unseen assailants. "Who's in charge?!"

Now for my blunt politically incorrect statements:
"Judeochristian" is a sanitized PC word stemming from the longstanding cultural guilt from the Holocaust. Hearing the word makes me roll my eyes. Historically, Jews and Christians did not get along.

There is also no such thing as "Judeochristian" morality. Most values involving things like free speech, liberty or democracy stemmed from the Enlightenment. Things like not murdering or stealing are just pragmatic components of a social contract that humans had invented long before any religion came along to claim special competency in these matters.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Kreistor » Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:38 pm

I'm sorry, ParsonisOP, but your position on Judeo-christian isn't really supportable. Christianity is a descendent of Judaism, and uses much of the Torah in the Bible. The foundation of the Judeo-christian morality is the Ten Commandments, which both religions recognize.

Yes, they did not historically get along. But, no, the moral structure is very close. Because of that tight history, few Christians I know have a problem with the term, since it merely points out the shared origin.

On the issue of auto-attacks, no, there is no "Neutral" state. You are allies or enemies, and unlead troops in a Hex with enemies must attack. It is unclear if that is a Natural Thinkamancy, or merely that all troops that pop have a natural inclination to that choice, but that is the end result.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:20 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:Problem of Evil. Epicurus. Look it up.

Epicurus' problem of evil attempts to reconcile a benevolent, omniscient god with the existence of evil. We're not assuming benevolence, so the arguments there don't really apply here.

ParsonIsOP wrote:
MarbitChow wrote:Does anyone have an non-evil explanation for why non-allied units in the same hex MUST attack each other until only one side remains? Defenders with zero move cannot leave the hex, but why can't the attackers retreat if they are not lead?
It's a gamey abstraction to represent what unlead soldiers are going to do when left near enemies. Fight. Presumably they wouldn't have to if they were allied or neutral. It may also be how they enact their "Loyalty" to their standing orders. In any case, it's a lizard-brain sort of situation where soldiers act on their aggression and therefore aren't going to step-back and take into account the big strategic picture.

It's like that one scene in Apocalypse Now with the cut-off outpost being attacked by unseen assailants. "Who's in charge?!"

Rob has stated that Erfworld is a game-like universe, but it's not a game. If it were a game, it would require abstractions to be able to resolve, but in a 'real' universe, no such short-cuts are required.

If hex-level conflicts were always resolved by decisions of the units involved, the ability to retreat would exist even without leadership, at least on the part of the attacker. Suffer enough losses and pulling back to another hex seems like a perfectly plausible option. However, based on the description Parson was supplied, that cannot happen - and that fact is considered part of the 'natural order' of Erfworld.

The idea of willingly dying to the last man seems to go against 'human' nature, so either only warlords, casters, and overlords are human, or the action is imposed upon the units. Since Stanley was a regular unit before he became a Warlord, I have a hard time buying that human-acting units aren't 'human'. So, since fighting to the death appears to be enforced upon the inhabitants, can we infer anything about the creators of the realm based on that?

ParsonIsOP wrote:Now for my blunt politically incorrect statements:
"Judeochristian" is a sanitized PC word stemming from the longstanding cultural guilt from the Holocaust. Hearing the word makes me roll my eyes. Historically, Jews and Christians did not get along.

There is also no such thing as "Judeochristian" morality. Most values involving things like free speech, liberty or democracy stemmed from the Enlightenment. Things like not murdering or stealing are just pragmatic components of a social contract that humans had invented long before any religion came along to claim special competency in these matters.

If I had stated 'Western Values', then that would have introduced all of the laws of Western Civilization, and I didn't want to introduce the possibility that the Titans had Incorporated in order to shield themselves from the repercussions of their actions. :)

I'm mostly trying to avoid the 'moral relativist' arguments that there are no such thing as 'good' or 'evil' by requiring that some form of 'objective' morality should be used to judge them. I'm not saying that moral relativism is wrong necessarily, but I am saying that if you embrace it, there's not much to debate here. :D
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:47 pm

MarbitChow wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:Problem of Evil. Epicurus. Look it up.

Epicurus' problem of evil attempts to reconcile a benevolent, omniscient god with the existence of evil. We're not assuming benevolence, so the arguments there don't really apply here.

No it doesn't say that. And yes, the problem directly addresses your thread. You either didn't read it or didn't understand it. Erfworlders believe the Titans are benevolent and you believe that they should be.

Epicurus is stating that theodicy is impossible. He's not trying to reconcile or defend it. He's being critical.

Rob has stated that Erfworld is a game-like universe, but it's not a game. If it were a game, it would require abstractions to be able to resolve, but in a 'real' universe, no such short-cuts are required.

Read: Game-like abstractions are a reality in Erfworld.

People pop instead of being born. Pigs on farms de-pop and re-pop as pork in slaughterhouses, even though Erfworlders perfectly understand the concept killing beasts for food. Money is literally exchanged with the universe for stuff and so there's no need to actually chop down trees, quarry stone or in any way shape the raw stuff of the environment to get what you need. Erfworld takes short cuts all the time.

If hex-level conflicts were always resolved by decisions of the units involved, the ability to retreat would exist even without leadership, at least on the part of the attacker. Suffer enough losses and pulling back to another hex seems like a perfectly plausible option. However, based on the description Parson was supplied, that cannot happen - and that fact is considered part of the 'natural order' of Erfworld.

It's also possible they could not physically leave the hex in that event.

The idea of willingly dying to the last man seems to go against 'human' nature, so either only warlords, casters, and overlords are human, or the action is imposed upon the units. Since Stanley was a regular unit before he became a Warlord, I have a hard time buying that human-acting units aren't 'human'.

Or you're fighting because you're physically near a bunch of aggressive and well-armed men.

So, since fighting to the death appears to be enforced upon the inhabitants, can we infer anything about the creators of the realm based on that?

No.

Long answer: No, because we don't really know what the Titans were actually responsible for creating, what their motives were or even how well they have accomplished their agenda (if any).
Last edited by ParsonIsOP on Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:13 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:53 pm

Kreistor wrote:I'm sorry, ParsonisOP, but your position on Judeo-christian isn't really supportable. Christianity is a descendent of Judaism, and uses much of the Torah in the Bible. The foundation of the Judeo-christian morality is the Ten Commandments, which both religions recognize.

And Islam is loosely based on the other two while Judaism is itself a descendent of polytheism. What's your point?

Yes, they did not historically get along. But, no, the moral structure is very close. Because of that tight history, few Christians I know have a problem with the term, since it merely points out the shared origin.

Their moral structure is close because they typically participate in the same secular cultures. That and they're human. If your only criterion are some shared morals then the term is exactly as meaningless as I have established.

However, if you then you look at the moral differences, you will find that they come entirely from their religions. What is common might as well be universally so outside of any religious distinction.

I also explained why they don't have a problem with it. It stems from a false sense of solidarity, which may partially based on a genuine human connection, but is mostly just feel-good bunk. If you want to celebrate human camaraderie, great, but you don't need some made-up hokum word to do it. And the reality is probably that it's still part of an insular "us-versus-them" mentality.

On the issue of auto-attacks, no, there is no "Neutral" state. You are allies or enemies, and unlead troops in a Hex with enemies must attack. It is unclear if that is a Natural Thinkamancy, or merely that all troops that pop have a natural inclination to that choice, but that is the end result.

And how do you know that?

Even so, most people don't feel comfortable having foreign soldiers parked in their backyard because it is an implicitly aggressive act.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:28 pm

Given the incompleteness of Parson's tutorial, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some mechanic by which unled units can be pre-ordered not to attack. If it wouldn't have come into play in the Battle for Gobwin Knob (e.g. neutral side status - the other sides were not neutral, no other sides present), it's quite reasonable for it not to come up.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:09 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:Erfworlders believe the Titans are benevolent and you believe that they should be.

Actually, I've argued all along that the Titans *aren't* benevolent. The question in my mind is between indifferent or callous vs. actually malign. That's what I mean by the fact that it doesn't apply here. I'm not trying to reconcile a benevolent, omnipotent god with an imperfect creation that has evil in it, I'm trying to discuss what part of Erfworld is 'evil' due to human nature, and what part is actively forced upon the inhabitants by the environment, and whether the Titans are consciously responsible for that portion of maliciousness.

ParsonIsOP wrote:People pop instead of being born. Pigs on farms de-pop and re-pop as pork in slaughterhouses, even though Erfworlders perfectly understand the concept killing beasts for food. Money is literally exchanged with the universe for stuff and so there's no need to actually chop down trees, quarry stone or in any way shape the raw stuff of the environment to get what you need. Erfworld takes short cuts all the time.

But 'kill everyone to the last man' isn't a short-cut. The fight still plays out. I'd lend more credence to your assertion if, when two sides met, the victorious side watched the other side just pop out of existence, along with an appropriate number of losses on their own side. Given that they allow decisions to play out in order to determine the result of the fight, why is 'retreat' eliminated as an option unless a commander is present?

ParsonIsOP wrote:Or you're fighting because you're physically near a bunch of aggressive and well-armed men.

But if you retreat, you're no longer near them. 10% casualties in a conflict in our world - where both sides are comprised of aggressive, well-armed men - is considered a serious loss. Yet Erfworld conflicts are resolved with 100% losses regularly, and this appears to be by design.

ParsonIsOP wrote:Long answer: No, because we don't really know what the Titans were actually responsible for creating, what their motives were or even how well they have accomplished their agenda (if any).

The thread was started stating that the assumption was that the Titans created everything except certain portions of the magic system (like summoning Parson). If there is no intelligent creator in Erfworld, then the creator is obviously not evil.

drachefly wrote:Given the incompleteness of Parson's tutorial, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some mechanic by which unled units can be pre-ordered not to attack. If it wouldn't have come into play in the Battle for Gobwin Knob (e.g. neutral side status - the other sides were not neutral, no other sides present), it's quite reasonable for it not to come up.

If they're pre-ordered not to attack, but they are attacked (from ambush, for example), can they flee? The phrasing seems to indicate that they cannot leave the combat until one side is eliminated. However, it's possible that this is a result of 'the standard way of doing things' - the sides just have standing orders to kill or be killed all the time, in which case it's not the Titans' fault, but the collective rulers' faults.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Kreistor » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:18 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:And Islam is loosely based on the other two while Judaism is itself a descendent of polytheism. What's your point?


My point is that the term has a recognizable meaning and is not considered derogatory to Jews and Christians.

However, if you then you look at the moral differences, you will find that they come entirely from their religions. What is common might as well be universally so outside of any religious distinction.


No, it isn't. Buddhism, for instance, does not profess the existence of a God. Hinduism professes the existence of many. Islam professes different treatment for men and women.

I also explained why they don't have a problem with it. It stems from a false sense of solidarity, which may partially based on a genuine human connection, but is mostly just feel-good bunk.


Solidarity? Hardly. Jews and Christians didn't invent this term. "Judeo-Christian" is an attempt to explain Western morality based on its roots in the Roman and later Holy Roman enforcement of Christian values which traces its origins to Jewish values.

And how do you know that? [Referring to no "neutral" state]


Because it has never been mentioned nor demonstrated. And here is a quote for you:

[quote="Klog 4"]Stacks without a leader are forced to autoattack when in contact with units from non-allied capitals.[quote]

That says "non-allied", not "enemy". If there is a neutral state, they will still autoattack because they are not allies.

So even if there is a Neutral state, you will need to identify a mechanic to characterize it different from preventing autoattacking.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:31 pm

Kreistor wrote:My point is that the term has a recognizable meaning and is not considered derogatory to Jews and Christians.

I didn't say it was derogatory. I said it was disingenuous.

No, it isn't. Buddhism, for instance, does not profess the existence of a God. Hinduism professes the existence of many. Islam professes different treatment for men and women.

Christianity and Judaism also professed different treatment for men and women. Buddhism did too. Many in all of three of those religions still do. As cheesy as it sounds, what changed is the progress we've made as a civilization.

You're also talking around my point. Those cosmological differences do generate different moral outlooks, but my entire point was that that difference stemmed entirely from the religions themselves. In spite of the common origin of Judaism and Christianity, one of those two saw fit to decide that pork is not kosher. (I'm not entirely clear on the why. Something about how pigs are filthy and will stain the soul?)

If however, you try to establish "do not murder" as being uniquely "Judeochristian" you're going to have a hard time of it.

Solidarity? Hardly. Jews and Christians didn't invent this term. "Judeo-Christian" is an attempt to explain Western morality based on its roots in the Roman and later Holy Roman enforcement of Christian values which traces its origins to Jewish values.

Tries and fails to explain. It's a bad explanation. A lot of modern morality claimed as "Christian" wasn't always particularly considered such and most of it can be traced to boring old secular changes in civilization or already exist in all other cultures predating Christianity.

MLK was a minister who preached against slavery and racism. What people forget or fail to mention is that there were a lot of white supremacist preachers. And trying to explain that away as them not being "True Christians" just smacks of absurdity.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:10 pm

MarbitChow wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:Erfworlders believe the Titans are benevolent and you believe that they should be.

Actually, I've argued all along that the Titans *aren't* benevolent. The question in my mind is between indifferent or callous vs. actually malign. That's what I mean by the fact that it doesn't apply here. I'm not trying to reconcile a benevolent, omnipotent god with an imperfect creation that has evil in it, I'm trying to discuss what part of Erfworld is 'evil' due to human nature, and what part is actively forced upon the inhabitants by the environment, and whether the Titans are consciously responsible for that portion of maliciousness.

Except the Problem of Evil is not about reconciling anything. It's saying that you cannot have all three qualities of being omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent at the same time if evil exists.

Clearly you still don't understand it because another possibility is that the Titans *are* benevolent but just not all-powerful.

But 'kill everyone to the last man' isn't a short-cut. The fight still plays out. I'd lend more credence to your assertion if, when two sides met, the victorious side watched the other side just pop out of existence, along with an appropriate number of losses on their own side. Given that they allow decisions to play out in order to determine the result of the fight, why is 'retreat' eliminated as an option unless a commander is present?

No, but "lock them into the hex" and "force them to autoattack" still is a short-cut. As stated, it could be that they're physically unable to leave anyway, in the same way that Parson could not leave GK as a garrison unit.

There may be a strange logic to it in that it's supposed to be what soldiers are supposed to do when other soldiers are near them who don't have special diplomatic protections in place. By strange logic, I mean that this is what soldiers are generally expected to do, attack armed forces who aren't supposed to be there. (Or attack if you're the one that's not supposed to be there.)

As such, it's hard not to see this as a "short-cut."

ParsonIsOP wrote:But if you retreat, you're no longer near them. 10% casualties in a conflict in our world - where both sides are comprised of aggressive, well-armed men - is considered a serious loss. Yet Erfworld conflicts are resolved with 100% losses regularly, and this appears to be by design.

So the question really is "why don't they retreat?" I speculate that they cannot leave and do what aggressive men always do when confined to a space with other aggressive men. And maybe they just *really* hate outsiders.

That said, we don't really know, so speculation is moot.

ParsonIsOP wrote:The thread was started stating that the assumption was that the Titans created everything except certain portions of the magic system (like summoning Parson). If there is no intelligent creator in Erfworld, then the creator is obviously not evil.

Or there is a creator who is intelligent but not evil. See above.

If they're pre-ordered not to attack, but they are attacked (from ambush, for example), can they flee? The phrasing seems to indicate that they cannot leave the combat until one side is eliminated. However, it's possible that this is a result of 'the standard way of doing things' - the sides just have standing orders to kill or be killed all the time, in which case it's not the Titans' fault, but the collective rulers' faults.

As above, we don't know.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Sieggy » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:11 pm

This is uproarious . . . when you play Risk. do you care when your spy gets caught? When you play Battleship, do you feel for the cruiser sunk? If playing Axis &Allies, for whom do you bleed? If you don't, are you immoral? Amoral? They're UNITS . . . and who cares what units think - they're YOUR constructs - do you feel responsible for them? Feel their dying breath? GAMERS create realities. Players play the game. Units reflect the will of the Players. All are subject to The Rules. Units live to serve - live or die. How many of you get upset losing that bishop? It might have been a BRILLIANT bishop! Curse you for your lack of insight!

The Titans are beyond such things; they're not Players, they're Gamers! And . . . . this is where the SPW spell overdid it. It didn't summon a player, it summoned a gamer. Crucial difference - a Player operates under 'the rules' even though they might spend many hour scouring for exploits and loopholes. Gamers write rules. Parson's not a Player, he's a Gamer. Titans beware . . . You are now facing someone who knows WHY reality is as it is.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby drachefly » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:48 pm

Sieggy wrote:This is uproarious . . . when you play Risk. do you care when your spy gets caught?


A, I think you're thinking of Stratego, and B, yes, because those guys are important.

and C... Erfworld is not a game. It's a game-like world.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:47 am

ParsonIsOP wrote:Except the Problem of Evil is not about reconciling anything. It's saying that you cannot have all three qualities of being omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent at the same time if evil exists.
Clearly you still don't understand it because another possibility is that the Titans *are* benevolent but just not all-powerful.

It's not that I'm failing to understand. It's that you're missing the point. The Question of Evil only states that the creators cannot be all of Omniscient, Benevolent, and Omnipotent. We *know* they're not omniscient: one accidentally dropped a gem, so evil CAN exist in the world. Therefore, we *know* that evil *can* exist in this world. But the creators are not required to be any of the three at all. We can already eliminate omniscient, and it's likely that they're not omnipotent.
The world appears to be designed for continuous warfare, and to encourage killing for the sake of killing. The question is: based on how the world appears to be made, can we glean anything about the Titans' intentions and disposition?

ParsonIsOP wrote:There may be a strange logic to it in that it's supposed to be what soldiers are supposed to do when other soldiers are near them who don't have special diplomatic protections in place. By strange logic, I mean that this is what soldiers are generally expected to do, attack armed forces who aren't supposed to be there. (Or attack if you're the one that's not supposed to be there.)

As such, it's hard not to see this as a "short-cut."

Initiating the attack is perfectly reasonable. I have no issues with that. It's the whole "until one side is dead" part that I'm having trouble viewing in a neutral manner. When those actions - complete annihilation - occurs on Earth, we call it 'slaughter' or 'genocide', depending on the scale, rather than 'combat', and we typically judge it to be wrong - thus evil. If it is the nature of all free-willed inhabitants of Erfworld to behave as such, then it is not the Titans' fault. But the way it is described, it sounds like it is 'built into the system'.

ParsonIsOP wrote:So the question really is "why don't they retreat?" I speculate that they cannot leave and do what aggressive men always do when confined to a space with other aggressive men. And maybe they just *really* hate outsiders. That said, we don't really know, so speculation is moot.

We *know* units can leave a hex while engaged in combat - Stanley did it to flee TV and Jillian. The restricting factor is move. From the description we have been provided, it sounds more like 'natural thinkamancy' prevents them from disengaging. If so, then it is by design, and if that is the case, what does that say about the designers?

ParsonIsOP wrote:Or there is a creator who is intelligent but not evil. See above.

We know that the creators *could* be benevolent. Since we *know* they are flawed, evil is certainly possible to exist without their intent. But based on what you have seen of Erfworld so far, if you were forced to render judgment, what would you decide, and why? What criteria would you weigh to determine whether the creators were malicious or benevolent?
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Kreistor » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:07 pm

ParsonIsOP wrote:I didn't say it was derogatory. I said it was disingenuous.


Not certain how it can be disngenuous. All it does is match similar morality between two related things.

Christianity and Judaism also professed different treatment for men and women.


No, Christianity preached that men and women's souls were equally vital.

There is one section in one of Paul's letters that is frequently misused to "prove" Christianity repressed women. It stems from the sudden inclusion of women in weekly services. Jewish women were not allowed into the inner sanctum, nor taught to read the scriptures, and so had no knowledge of services. When they and their husbands converted, the women were now attending services where before they had been excluded. They were not familiar with what was happening, and in one city, they were loudly asking their husbands to explain why they were performing certain rituals. Paul was merely telling them that like their husbands, they should be silent during the service, and ask their questions afterward. This got misused by the Roman Catholics and some Protestant churches to suggest women should not take part in services (by leading prayer, being ministers, singing, etc.), but like many the misinterpretation is simply based on the loss of historical context. Remember, Paul wasn't writing that letter to us in general, but to a specific Church undergoing specific problems.

Buddhism did too. Many in all of three of those religions still do. As cheesy as it sounds, what changed is the progress we've made as a civilization.


Which is irrelevant. We are discussing the term "Judeo-christian", not religion in general. I was merely pointing out that you would get different morality overlaps with other religions. You could invent a term "Judeo-Buddhism" if you really wanted, but it would take a lot more work to find the details in the overlapping morality.

You're also talking around my point. Those cosmological differences do generate different moral outlooks, but my entire point was that that difference stemmed entirely from the religions themselves. In spite of the common origin of Judaism and Christianity, one of those two saw fit to decide that pork is not kosher. (I'm not entirely clear on the why. Something about how pigs are filthy and will stain the soul?)


Very wrong. Most of the determination of what was acceptable (kosher, or clean) stems from health issues. Pork was banned because eating it was killing people. Pigs are omnivores like us, and we share many of the same parasites. Eating undercooked pork killed people, so it was banned, along with many other dangerous (and merely repulsive looking) creatures. Many disease ridden species (like vermin and bats) are unclean.

Making it acceptable again took two events. The first was a vision given to Peter. He was made hungry, and all the unclean animals placed before him. God told him to take and eat, but Peter refused because they were unclean. God said, "Nothing I have made is impure. Take and eat." the vision came three times. After this, Peter interpreted the dream to ean, "Take Christianity to all people, not just the Jews." The literal interpretation was acknowledged, but not seen as vital.

Centuries later, in the region of Yugoslavia, the Muslims were invading frequently. Tehy would take all animals... except those called unclean. Faced with starvation, a local Priest realized that the vision could also be taken literally, and he solved the starvation issue with pork. The literal interpretation and the eating of pork spread from there across Europe.

If however, you try to establish "do not murder" as being uniquely "Judeochristian" you're going to have a hard time of it.


Why do I need to? That it is also held as moral by other religions doesn't mean it doesn't match up between Judaism and Christianity, and therefore, Judeo-christian.

Tries and fails to explain. It's a bad explanation. A lot of modern morality claimed as "Christian" wasn't always particularly considered such and most of it can be traced to boring old secular changes in civilization or already exist in all other cultures predating Christianity.


This is not about Christian bashing. This is about the term "judeo-christian". That Christian values were perverted during the early middle ages does not change the fact that thee is similar morality between Jews and Christians. It's a distraction and irrelevant to the subject matter.

MLK was a minister who preached against slavery and racism. What people forget or fail to mention is that there were a lot of white supremacist preachers. And trying to explain that away as them not being "True Christians" just smacks of absurdity.


Again, you are bashing Christians for being a broad spectrum religion, not discussing the similarity between the morals of Christians and Jews. Those "White supremicist preachers" also preached anti-semitism, and that makes their preachings definitively non-judeo-christian.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:57 pm

It's not that I'm failing to understand. It's that you're missing the point. The Question of Evil only states that the creators cannot be all of Omniscient, Benevolent, and Omnipotent. We *know* they're not omniscient: one accidentally dropped a gem, so evil CAN exist in the world. Therefore, we *know* that evil *can* exist in this world. But the creators are not required to be any of the three at all. We can already eliminate omniscient, and it's likely that they're not omnipotent.
The world appears to be designed for continuous warfare, and to encourage killing for the sake of killing. The question is: based on how the world appears to be made, can we glean anything about the Titans' intentions and disposition?

And I stated: No, we cannot glean or render any kind of judgment because not enough is known. If they're not omniscient or all-powerful, they can clearly make mistakes or be subject to outside influences. In this case, they'd be gods in a very human and fallible sense of the term.[/quote]

Initiating the attack is perfectly reasonable. I have no issues with that. It's the whole "until one side is dead" part that I'm having trouble viewing in a neutral manner. When those actions - complete annihilation - occurs on Earth, we call it 'slaughter' or 'genocide', depending on the scale, rather than 'combat', and we typically judge it to be wrong - thus evil. If it is the nature of all free-willed inhabitants of Erfworld to behave as such, then it is not the Titans' fault. But the way it is described, it sounds like it is 'built into the system'.

Basically, I have no opinion here because I don't rightly know enough. I don't know what the extenuating circumstances of Erfworlder psychology are. And we already know that Erfworlders have somewhat alien moral standards.

However, Erfworlders are pretty much popped with their personalities and motivations nearly fully-formed (as we saw with Wanda). An Erfworlder's character may be their own responsibility, but that doesn't mean the Titans aren't also culpable in making Erfworlders pop the way they do (though I am not saying that the Titans *are* culpable).

We *know* units can leave a hex while engaged in combat - Stanley did it to flee TV and Jillian. The restricting factor is move. From the description we have been provided, it sounds more like 'natural thinkamancy' prevents them from disengaging. If so, then it is by design, and if that is the case, what does that say about the designers?

Stanley counts as Leadership though.

We know that the creators *could* be benevolent. Since we *know* they are flawed, evil is certainly possible to exist without their intent. But based on what you have seen of Erfworld so far, if you were forced to render judgment, what would you decide, and why? What criteria would you weigh to determine whether the creators were malicious or benevolent?

I wouldn't render any judgement at all. I don't know why you find this a difficult thing to grasp. You can decide to be undecided. You don't have to believe anything just for the sake of believing it.

It's more laudable to have no opinion about things you don't know than too many opinions about things you don't know.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:06 pm

You are all drifting off point. You can discuss the historical and cultural contexts of the religions of the Book and compare them to other world religions in a different thread.

This thread is about whether or not the Titans are intentionally malicious. And I say that they are not.

First, the question of Evil is tangential. Evil is a product of definitions, something that Stanley himself pointed out quite accurately. WE view the 'mechanic' (for lack of a better word) that forces unaligned, unled forces to fight to the death as evil because that is our point of view. What we as readers have failed to take into account, even though Drachefly has pointed it out more than once, is that Erfworld is not a game. There are divided opinions on whether or not that is evil within Erfword itself. Certainly Janis would believe it is, but when Wrigley was dying as an unled spearman, he didn't believe it was. He saw it as glorious and right; dying as the Titans intended. We as readers have no grounds to judge it as Good or Evil anymore than Parson has grounds to judge Stanley as Good or Evil.

Second, how do we know that the Titans aren't omniscient? Consider the following quote carefully. (emphasis mine) Link Here

Book 1, Page 1 wrote:Ages ago, when the Titans of Ark forged Erfworld, they left behind one extra gem, buried deep inside the Misty Mountains.


Nowhere does it actually say that it was dropped by accident. While the picture implies it, it doesn't say it. We don't KNOW. It could have been intentional. Or it could have been known that it was dropped and they just left it be. We don't know. We don't know if they are omniscient, or if they aren't. What we do know is that Erfworld works as a system. So far, we have not seen a confirmed incident of the Titans taking an active hand. I won't invoke Occam since he is overused, but it makes sense to assume that a system is in a base state unless we have proof to the contrary. So I'm going to assume that the system is in a base state, meaning no direct Titanic interaction, meaning that Erfworld works similar to Ben Franklin's Clockwork world. The Titans set up the rules and started the motion and let it run.

That's not the argument, of course. The argument is about whether or not it follows from those rules that the Titans are malicious. I believe that they are not. When a Zen Master beat his students, it was not because he enjoyed beating them. When a good father spanks his children, it is not because he wants to give them pain. It is because they want them to grow. Raw iron is brittle. It can be used for tools and buildings, but it isn't very good at it. It breaks far too easily. Good steel must be mixed with other things, forged in the fires and shaped on the anvil. But when it comes out, it is hard and strong and proud. Strong enough to bear a load and supple enough to bend much further without breaking. Much, much better than raw iron.

I believe that the Titans set in shape Erfworld as a teacher for their children. A place for them to learn who and what they are, and to come out better than they were. You give students hard problems not because you want them to fail, but because you want them to succeed. They gave the Erfworlders a world with rules and regulations. Systems that run according to patterns that can be determined and exploited with thought and observation. Systems that can ultimately be defeated. I believe that Erfworld as it is now is a zero sum game, but I don't believe that's all it has to be. I believe that the Titans put the Arkentools there so that their children could use them to shape their imperfect world into a better place.

Of course... free will is a pesky thing. That's the problem with turning your creation loose and stepping back. Sometimes it backfires and sometimes you just watch as they run in circles, and sometimes the outcomes you want are not the outcomes you get. But when it comes down to it, I don't believe the Titans were malicious. I believe you could make an argument for misguided, but not malicious.

Granted, we have nothing to support any of these theories either way, and material from Canon can be interpreted any number of ways. So I doubt we are going to come to a consensus on this issue. But I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring for the the benevolent Titans side of the argument. Erfworld is a way to teach by experience. Whether you consider that evil is a matter of perspective. That's a religious argument that can cause people to come to blows irl, so... As always, your mileage may vary.
"All warfare is based on deception" - Sun Tzu, Chapter 1, Line 18, The Art of War

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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:19 pm

Kreistor wrote:No, Christianity preached that men and women's souls were equally vital.

Buddha was supposed to have said that everybody should be able to attain Enlightenment and was also said to have female disciples. It didn't keep sexism out of the religion though.

There is one section in one of Paul's letters that is frequently misused to "prove" Christianity repressed women. It stems from the sudden inclusion of women in weekly services. Jewish women were not allowed into the inner sanctum, nor taught to read the scriptures, and so had no knowledge of services. When they and their husbands converted, the women were now attending services where before they had been excluded. They were not familiar with what was happening, and in one city, they were loudly asking their husbands to explain why they were performing certain rituals. Paul was merely telling them that like their husbands, they should be silent during the service, and ask their questions afterward. This got misused by the Roman Catholics and some Protestant churches to suggest women should not take part in services (by leading prayer, being ministers, singing, etc.), but like many the misinterpretation is simply based on the loss of historical context. Remember, Paul wasn't writing that letter to us in general, but to a specific Church undergoing specific problems.

So basically, you don't know because of "missing context." Great.

Now explain the bits where people also used it to justify woman's subservience to man. That and a creation story where a woman was at fault for Man's fall. But I'm sure I'm just taking those "out of context." And explain how it's only recently that women priests are becoming more common (and even then, are relatively rare).

None of these "true intentions" excuses how the religion *has* behaved because that just goes into the usual accusation of orthodox/conservative believers by more liberal/progressive believers as not be True Scotsman. If you get to use that excuse, so do Muslims.

Which is irrelevant. We are discussing the term "Judeo-christian", not religion in general. I was merely pointing out that you would get different morality overlaps with other religions. You could invent a term "Judeo-Buddhism" if you really wanted, but it would take a lot more work to find the details in the overlapping morality.

And I'm pointing out that a term like "Judeo-Buddhism" would be equally forced and artificial as "Judeo-Christian." One has slightly more overlap than the other, but ideas like the "Golden Rule" are hardly uncommon (and even then I don't find the Golden Rule all that impressive as far as moral insight goes).

Very wrong. Most of the determination of what was acceptable (kosher, or clean) stems from health issues. Pork was banned because eating it was killing people. Pigs are omnivores like us, and we share many of the same parasites. Eating undercooked pork killed people, so it was banned, along with many other dangerous (and merely repulsive looking) creatures. Many disease ridden species (like vermin and bats) are unclean.

Actually, you don't know that. There's speculation that pigs bear an eerie resemblance to humans in many ways and so it felt uncomfortable like cannibalism. That and burnt human flesh smells a lot like ham (which would explain why some fire fighters dislike the smell of ham). Evidently we also taste like pork (hence the euphemism "Long Pig").

But that's irrelevant because none of those health reasons actually are the stated reasons for not eating pork. Religion provides a supernatural explanation for why you shouldn't eat pork, not medical ones. We know that it's not medical motivations that drive contemporary kosher practice.

Making it acceptable again took two events. The first was a vision given to Peter. He was made hungry, and all the unclean animals placed before him. God told him to take and eat, but Peter refused because they were unclean. God said, "Nothing I have made is impure. Take and eat." the vision came three times. After this, Peter interpreted the dream to ean, "Take Christianity to all people, not just the Jews." The literal interpretation was acknowledged, but not seen as vital.

Centuries later, in the region of Yugoslavia, the Muslims were invading frequently. Tehy would take all animals... except those called unclean. Faced with starvation, a local Priest realized that the vision could also be taken literally, and he solved the starvation issue with pork. The literal interpretation and the eating of pork spread from there across Europe.

I honestly don't care about the theology given about eating pork, it's still a supernatural explanation, not a medical or scientific one.

Why do I need to? That it is also held as moral by other religions doesn't mean it doesn't match up between Judaism and Christianity, and therefore, Judeo-christian.

This is not about Christian bashing. This is about the term "judeo-christian". That Christian values were perverted during the early middle ages does not change the fact that thee is similar morality between Jews and Christians. It's a distraction and irrelevant to the subject matter.

Again, you are bashing Christians for being a broad spectrum religion, not discussing the similarity between the morals of Christians and Jews. Those "White supremicist preachers" also preached anti-semitism, and that makes their preachings definitively non-judeo-christian.

And there's basically my point. If it's "broad spectrum" then you can claim nothing as being particularly unique morality-wise about "Judeochrisanity." You don't get around it by pretending that some "true intent" was perverted.

I will also point out that while "Judeochristianity" has a prohibition against murder, it is sometime very immoral about what constitutes sanctioned killing and not murder. There are lots of objectionable bits about genocide and it God does some killings, nobody can call him out on it on the assumption that he's got some "mysterious plan."

Oh to be fair, there are plenty of modern Christians who don't think those bits ought to be "taken literally" but it does take the idea that they have some unique system of morality and put it through a wood chipper. And I certainly don't think Jews and Christians have that much in common except that which they were going to have in common anyway outside of any religious considerations.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby ParsonIsOP » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:45 pm

Housellama wrote:First, the question of Evil is tangential. Evil is a product of definitions, something that Stanley himself pointed out quite accurately. WE view the 'mechanic' (for lack of a better word) that forces unaligned, unled forces to fight to the death as evil because that is our point of view. What we as readers have failed to take into account, even though Drachefly has pointed it out more than once, is that Erfworld is not a game. There are divided opinions on whether or not that is evil within Erfword itself. Certainly Janis would believe it is, but when Wrigley was dying as an unled spearman, he didn't believe it was. He saw it as glorious and right; dying as the Titans intended. We as readers have no grounds to judge it as Good or Evil anymore than Parson has grounds to judge Stanley as Good or Evil.

Irrelevant. As long as we can all agree upon a definition for the sake of discussion, we can substitute whatever we like for "evil." And it certainly didn't keep Tramennis from speculating why the Titans would perpetrate a system where people die in uncertainty and pain. Clearly the concept of an unjust universe is something that registers with Tramennis and other Erfworlders.

Lord Firebaugh also recently complained about how warfare *should* be the arena of honor, while viewing Casters as an unwelcome intrusion into a test of character. But he implicitly realizes the universe isn't catering to his particular sense of fairness. He might rationalize a "mysterious plan" or simply not give it any thought, but even he understands the basic problem on some level.

If there's a powerful patron of creation, then why does that creator's creation seem to lack my sense of justice or fairness? The uncomfortable answer is that either this agency lacks your sense of fairness, is just not very good its job, didn't care enough to improve your situation or simply that creator(s) didn't exist..

Second, how do we know that the Titans aren't omniscient? Consider the following quote carefully. (emphasis mine) Link Here

Book 1, Page 1 wrote:Ages ago, when the Titans of Ark forged Erfworld, they left behind one extra gem, buried deep inside the Misty Mountains.


Nowhere does it actually say that it was dropped by accident. While the picture implies it, it doesn't say it. We don't KNOW. It could have been intentional. Or it could have been known that it was dropped and they just left it be. We don't know. We don't know if they are omniscient, or if they aren't. What we do know is that Erfworld works as a system. So far, we have not seen a confirmed incident of the Titans taking an active hand. I won't invoke Occam since he is overused, but it makes sense to assume that a system is in a base state unless we have proof to the contrary. So I'm going to assume that the system is in a base state, meaning no direct Titanic interaction, meaning that Erfworld works similar to Ben Franklin's Clockwork world. The Titans set up the rules and started the motion and let it run.

Basically, I agree. We don't know.

I also wonder if you actually understand what Occam's Razor is. The idiot's definition is "simplest explanation." But it's more precise to say that you shouldn't work on too many assumptions which require extraordinary proof or manufacture new theories when existing ones account for something just fine.

Recently, this could be applied to the Juice discussion in a recent thread where I stated that it's more likely that Turnamancers didn't save Juice above a maximum because:

1) This assumes a special exception for Turnamancers for which we have no evidence or proof.
2) We basically accept that Casters operate on the same Juice mechanic, making any extra explanations simply speculative and redundant.

There *could* be a special exception for Turnamancers. But there could also be a teapot in orbit around Saturn. And Leprechauns which nobody has seen. Or a Flying Sphagetti Monster. At this point, you'd just be guessing at an explanation to reconcile something you don't understand yet. Generally speaking, this is bad form. Occam's Razor is a rule to prevent you from manufacturing an explanation just because it feels good to do so.

That said, I think the Razor isn't particularly useful here. The account cannot be relied upon since we don't know if it's artistic license or intended to be a literal event. If it *is* a literal event, then it's easier to say that the gem was an accident than to speculate special omniscience when all the visual cues indicate otherwise. The whole thing was written to imply that some overlooked detail had enormous consequences, which is a major theme in the first book (i.e. Parson is not *exactly* the Perfect Warlord that Wanda and Stanley imagined and Parson's statement that asymmetric warfare relies on overlooked details).

That's not the argument, of course. The argument is about whether or not it follows from those rules that the Titans are malicious. I believe that they are not. When a Zen Master beat his students, it was not because he enjoyed beating them. When a good father spanks his children, it is not because he wants to give them pain. It is because they want them to grow. Raw iron is brittle. It can be used for tools and buildings, but it isn't very good at it. It breaks far too easily. Good steel must be mixed with other things, forged in the fires and shaped on the anvil. But when it comes out, it is hard and strong and proud. Strong enough to bear a load and supple enough to bend much further without breaking. Much, much better than raw iron.

I believe that the Titans set in shape Erfworld as a teacher for their children. A place for them to learn who and what they are, and to come out better than they were. You give students hard problems not because you want them to fail, but because you want them to succeed. They gave the Erfworlders a world with rules and regulations. Systems that run according to patterns that can be determined and exploited with thought and observation. Systems that can ultimately be defeated. I believe that Erfworld as it is now is a zero sum game, but I don't believe that's all it has to be. I believe that the Titans put the Arkentools there so that their children could use them to shape their imperfect world into a better place.

Of course... free will is a pesky thing. That's the problem with turning your creation loose and stepping back. Sometimes it backfires and sometimes you just watch as they run in circles, and sometimes the outcomes you want are not the outcomes you get. But when it comes down to it, I don't believe the Titans were malicious. I believe you could make an argument for misguided, but not malicious.

Granted, we have nothing to support any of these theories either way, and material from Canon can be interpreted any number of ways. So I doubt we are going to come to a consensus on this issue. But I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring for the the benevolent Titans side of the argument. Erfworld is a way to teach by experience. Whether you consider that evil is a matter of perspective. That's a religious argument that can cause people to come to blows irl, so... As always, your mileage may vary.

That's a rationalization.

1) If you're all-powerful testing people is unnecessary. Just make them perfect. You have that ability and you don't need to resort to trial-and-error training to get what you want out of people.
2) Assuming you're not all powerful, this behavior is actually just abusive. Tough love doesn't involve having your kids murder each other to strengthen their character. And if anything, it seems to accomplish the opposite. It makes them neurotically insular and xenophobic. They try to obtain special privileges at the expense of others. It makes them treat underlings like disposable tools. And so on.

As stated, I have no opinion on what the Titans are and I maintain that this skepticism is really the best position on it.
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby MarbitChow » Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:27 pm

Housellama wrote:First, the question of Evil is tangential. Evil is a product of definitions, something that Stanley himself pointed out quite accurately.

Which is why I tried to specify judging them using Judeo-Christian definitions. :D Based on that criteria, Evil can (in theory) be judged.

Housellama wrote:Second, how do we know that the Titans aren't omniscient? Consider the following quote carefully. (emphasis mine) Link Here

I'm assuming that they aren't, but if they are both omniscient and omnipotent, then they cannot be benevolent, as ParsonIsOP has pointed out.

Housellama wrote:When a Zen Master beat his students, it was not because he enjoyed beating them.

If the same Zen Master killed some students so that others might learn, would you then be able to judge him as evil?

Housellama wrote:Granted, we have nothing to support any of these theories either way, and material from Canon can be interpreted any number of ways. So I doubt we are going to come to a consensus on this issue. But I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring for the the benevolent Titans side of the argument. Erfworld is a way to teach by experience. Whether you consider that evil is a matter of perspective. That's a religious argument that can cause people to come to blows irl, so... As always, your mileage may vary.

How you teach is as important as what you teach, but a couple lessons that the Erfworld appears to teach:
Individual life is valueless, unless it is an Overlord. (You can pop 20+ pikers a turn. Crunch all you want, we'll make more!)
Violence is the easiest way to succeed. (Leveling by killing is much faster than levelling by training.)
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Re: The Malicious Titans Theory

Postby Housellama » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:22 pm

MarbitChow wrote:
Housellama wrote:First, the question of Evil is tangential. Evil is a product of definitions, something that Stanley himself pointed out quite accurately.

Which is why I tried to specify judging them using Judeo-Christian definitions. :D Based on that criteria, Evil can (in theory) be judged.


Conceded. I never argued that.

MarbitChow wrote:
Housellama wrote:Second, how do we know that the Titans aren't omniscient? Consider the following quote carefully. (emphasis mine) Link Here

I'm assuming that they aren't, but if they are both omniscient and omnipotent, then they cannot be benevolent, as ParsonIsOP has pointed out.


Granted. Never argued that either. I said we didn't have proof. I never stated one way or another on what they know or didn't know or what kind of power they had.

MarbitChow wrote:
Housellama wrote:When a Zen Master beat his students, it was not because he enjoyed beating them.

If the same Zen Master killed some students so that others might learn, would you then be able to judge him as evil?

If a tree falls in a forest and hits an emu, is God crazy? I can make up absurd hypothetical situations too.

The first tenant in every Buddhist sect is to strive not to kill any living thing. Pain, however, is everywhere. Life is suffering is the first belief of pretty much every Buddhist sect. And the ones where it isn't the first, it's pretty high up there. So inflicting pain on a student to teach would be acceptable. A man who intentionally killed a student would, by definition, not be a Zen master. Period. He may call himself a Zen master, but calling yourself a priest does not make you holy.

There is a koan about a master who struck a student and the student died, but there were circumstances that lead to that consequence other than just the strike. His intent was never to kill the student. In fact, his intent was never even to harm the student, but to teach. If you wish to read it yourself, it's here.

MarbitChow wrote:
Housellama wrote:Granted, we have nothing to support any of these theories either way, and material from Canon can be interpreted any number of ways. So I doubt we are going to come to a consensus on this issue. But I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring for the the benevolent Titans side of the argument. Erfworld is a way to teach by experience. Whether you consider that evil is a matter of perspective. That's a religious argument that can cause people to come to blows irl, so... As always, your mileage may vary.

How you teach is as important as what you teach, but a couple lessons that the Erfworld appears to teach:
Individual life is valueless, unless it is an Overlord. (You can pop 20+ pikers a turn. Crunch all you want, we'll make more!)
Violence is the easiest way to succeed. (Leveling by killing is much faster than levelling by training.)


Those are the lessons some people learned. Janis learned that it is possible to strive for peace in a world full of war. Tram learned that there's more ways to win a war than killing people. The Thinkamancers and Predictamancers learned how to summon Parson. Parson is learning that there may be a way to make a positive-upkeep side.

The lessons you learn are based on the things you seek to find. You seek to find evil in the Titans, and so you will. I choose to see the possible positive outcomes of Erfworld. Like I said, your mileage may vary. I never said my way was the right way. I simply said it was one way. Take it as you will, or leave it by the roadside.
Last edited by Housellama on Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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