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 Post subject: Re: Can (a Christian) God Be?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 7:17 pm 
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Mashed Potato Jones wrote:
Please somone reply i wanna get in an argument.


If you've just come here to get in an argument, then you can kindly leave. Otherwise, please read the previous seven pages of this thread before trying to rejuvinate it.

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 Post subject: Responses 1 of 10
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:57 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
[God]'s not your grandpa, thinking "just let the young people have fun and do whatever they want."
But why can't he be? Is God just an intolerant despot?

He's not "just" anything. Is he tolerant? Yes! He allows people to perform all kinds of acts of which he doesn't approve, though he doesn't allow people to "get away with" them. The most powerful act in all of history is the Christian story of God's sacrificing his own son in order to "tolerate" sin.

To the second question, "is he despotic," I answer "yes" provisionally. Denotatively, he owns the Earth and everything in it by right of creation, and rules it. But the connotations of "despotism" were probably more of what you're getting at, wherein trivial offences against the despot are punished by execution. I don't really see it that way, and I don't think the presence of all the good things on Earth and the pleasant experiences in each of our lives attest to a bloodthirsty meglomaniac. In fact, though Jesus was the person in history with the most right to be proud, we see instead divine humility demonstrated at every opportunity! That profundity contradicts the generalization one would make by observing human despots and extrapolating to God.

"Benevolent despot" is a better characterization than "intolerant despot." But don't let the fact that he's nice and loving lead you to conclude that he's weak, spineless, and manipulatable. He is powerful, willful, and independant.

The problem is, I'm describing this all in terms of adjectives with abstract meanings. A better study of the character of God would be by understanding examples ("types") of God through stories. David, in 1 Samuel 25, had the power and good reason to kill a bad man, but because of a request for mercy, stilled his sword (the context of the passage in Israels' history is important). Jesus who drove out moneychangers in the Temple with a whip, but healed lepers and played with children. In this intellectual age, we pretend that abstract concepts are higher than narratives... but humans understand better from the inductive lead of stories and examples than from deductive reasoning originating in abstract rhetoric.

As to the "Why can't he [just let everyone do anything they want]?" which was the point of your question, I answer that he could, but doesn't. I mean, I could just as easily ask, "why don't you do make a habit of eating mud?" You certainly are able, but you don't want to, and you don't have to. The possibility does not dictate your behavior or preferences. God could be intolerant, but he isn't. God could be lackadaisical, but he isn't. God could be a jerk who eats people, but he isn't. He's let us know his expectations in his preferred method of revelation.

(part 1 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 2 of 10
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:58 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
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One thing to think about: the original rebels against Jehovah are demons, so you'll be in their presence in Hell (although they're co-victims, not rulers, of hell). God doesn't have to make hell bad, it'll get that way on it's own in very short order.
Although he could prevent that.

The context of my comment was "people in hell want away from God, want him to stop meddling with their self-will." By that Lewisian reasoning, God's interference in hell is therefore unwelcome! Your suggestion that God should intervene to make hell less bad is nonsequitur.

Upsilon wrote:
But if we're not aware of the existence of God, we can't make that choice. It's not neutrality towards God, because you can't be neutral towards something that doesn't exist.

If you start by assuming the non-existence of God, then you will probably conclude the nonexistence of God. If you instead start from a basis without a non-assumption of God (you don't even need an assumption of God), then you can be neutral!

Upsilon wrote:
Oh, I'll acknowledge that missionaries exist to spread God's word. But human word is a lot less reliable than a booming voice and a thundercloud.

That's why Christians are not to spread the good news with flapping jaws alone; we're to show compassion, help the hurting, gather in interdependent communities, live exemplary moral lives, and more! These kinds of things can't really be faked, so it amplifies the reliability of the witness. I could probably write a thousand lines enumerating the good things Christians have done around the world, but that goes back to talking... has no Christian ever done you any real good? If not, then I'm afraid we've lost the U.K and need to get back there quickly. If a Christian has done good, then that was a good start (though it probably takes more than a few acts of kindness to make a real difference). But do this throughout your life: look for the truly principled, good men -- not necessarily great men, but good people you know -- and give them a little trust.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Do you care about a billion Hindus in Asia? If so, what have you done about it? If it's so morally necessary that God care about them but you don't care about them, do you not condemn yourself?

I don't spread the word of God because I don't think the Christian god is any more real than the gods of Hinduism. I'm not condemning them, or myself, by leaving them be, because from a secular point of view, it'll make no difference which religion they choose to follow.

I was talking more generally about feeding and clothing them, giving them places to live, health care, and a sense of dignity. Not about witnessing to something you don't believe in. I was simply making a personal point (sorry if it comes off as an ad hominem) that I don't think you really do care about them except as a point to be made in an argument. If you really care about them, what have you done? I've taken food to hungry Badjao tribe in the Philippines, and raised money (not to mention the money and time I've spent myself) to bring food, sanitation supplies, medical help, and education to people in Africa and the Caribbean. I do care about these people that you talk about abstractly! I've helmed a 35,000 ton ship with food, construction materials, and medical aid through a storm with high swells just to help. I'm not trying to show off, and I'm not trying to insult you. I'm trying to make you introspect about your own level of concern about these faceless billions -- if you don't care about them then don't try to make an issue about their eternal destiny when you should be considering direct questions about your responsibilities.

Conclusion (the whole reason I brought the issue up): Their eternal fate should have no consequence on your perception of the reality of God.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Tell me: what group of people goes to India and reaches out to the untouchables with health care, education, and love?
Is the answer "Christians"?

Ding! We have a winner. But don't give Christians too much credit, because most of them would tell you that it's not so much them as it is Jesus acting through them.

(part 2 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 3 of 10
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:42 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
I was just pointing out that immorality is a highly subjective matter and I wouldn't want to take the blame for [victimless crimes].

And I was simply pointing out that immorality is not a subjective matter. People conclude that morality is a subjective matter because they observe that there exist different moral standards and can't or don't want to judge between them. But subjective morality isn't really all that moral! If someone motivated by pluralistic morality says, "Do whatever you want," that's the same point of view as immoral people.

The Bible discusses meta-morality (morally judging morality) late in Romans, among other places. The first sections of this passage (12:9-13:14) lays out some moral things expected of Christians. Chapter 14 then discusses why some different people have stricter behavioral guidelines in "disputable matters" and how Christians are expected to treat those variations on the moral code. It may seem a bit confusing at first, but a few weeks of study and discussion illuminates the author's intention. Romans 14:5 says that we are each to abide strictly by the moral code we have for ourselves. Verses 6-8 justifies this. Verse 14 discusses someone who morally chooses not to exercize a freedom granted by scripture, and 15 defines the response that someone who does exercize that freedom is to have.

But back to meta-morality. Us Westerners continually judge one person's morality as compared to another. Now, surely, each individual did what they justified morally, but we call Churchill a hero and Hitler a monster. Not because one did what he thought was right and the other did what he thought was wrong, but because we exalt and exonerate one party's morality, while we scorn and depricate the other person's morality. If you think "any old morality will do, they're all equivalent," then you're endorsing the carpet bombing of London by the Luftwaffe. Now, of course, I'm going to the most extreme application of your reasoning. I'm following it to a necessary, but emotionally charged conclusion. You certainly meant it in the "just let people be" voice. But since people interact with one another (both the most horrible and most wonderful part of being a human), it is necessary to compare moralities. And as I said somewhere on another thread, it's silly to judge someone else by a morality you simply made up (I was talking about Chronological Snobbery and Plato or something). Therefore, since comparison of moralities is necessary and requires an external standard, it certainly is fortunate that there is an external standard of morality! Without morality given by God, we could not choose between moral systems ourselves, nor decide who was a good person or not. It would be a philosophical impasse.

But I stop short of making that an argument for God's existence. Though it's interesting and pursuable, I prefer not to make demands for God's existence just because we need him so badly. Other people may, however, and they may not be wrong. (I discussed this yesterday on the Polygamy thread).

Upsilon wrote:
I didn't dream up my moral code on a whim. I came to it by logic and lateral thinking.

I'm sure you've started on that path, but from my understanding of developmental psychology, I'm going to insist that most of your moral code was simply passed on to you from the adult influences on your young life.

I'm not sure how lateral thinking applies. Do you mean, "taking extreme starting conditions and using unconventional lines of inference in thought experements," as a method to whittle out contradictions? Because if you mean the "Lateral Thinking" as used in those "Twenty Questions/What Caused this Result" games, the need for someone who already knows the answer is inherent to the game.

Upsilon wrote:
Furthermore, it doesn't explain in the Bible why it's wrong for a man to "lie with another man" and if there's no reason to assume that God exists, there's no reason to assume that it is wrong.

Close. If God doesn't exist, then there's no reason to assume it's wrong. If there's no reson to assume God exists, then the question is linearly dependent. That is, the question as to God's existence implies the answer, so it's an indeterminate. Like y=f(x) where I won't tell you f but demand you give me y's value for x="homosexuality."

As I stated in PM, the danger here for me is an either-or.
  • I prove that every sin is harmful, one by one, and conclude that you shouldn't sin based on purely practical means. Then I've wasted the space of this thread and the discussion has nothing to do with God (and I have actually reasoned away a necessity for his existence) by proving human reasoning can do everything God has in mind.
  • I prove that it's harmless, and that the only reason it's sin is because God says so. That makes God out to be an intolerant despot with no interest in helping us practically.
So I'd like to establish that my philosophy is not either-or, but "both-and." We Christians obey God because we have to obey him, and plus sin is harmful to us.

(part 3 of 10)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:51 am 
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Before anybody gets uptight about it, I'm disregarding the double-posting here just because Buz's posts are quite long (and not obnoxious).

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 Post subject: Thanks!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:02 am 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
Before anybody gets uptight about it, I'm disregarding the double-posting here just because Buz's posts are quite long.

I appreciate that. A number of thread readers actually wanted me to make many, small posts instead of one huuuuuuudge post. This makes each idea easier to follow, but it probably makes it harder to reply. Actually, one of the 10 promised posts is a prayer thread as suggested earlier, and breaking off these different ideas into different threads may clear some of the glaze over readers' eyes! Again, thanks for letting me break the rule to everyone's applause.

Continuing -- Response 4
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
The key phrase here is "on logical grounds". If I believe myself to be doing the right thing (or, indeed, not doing the wrong thing), is it really right to punish me? You yourself said a while back that "innocent intention is recognized even in Old Testament law" - why don't the victimless crimes fall under innocent intention?

Because, in victimless crimes, the perpetrator purposely commits the crime. ... Very different.

"In defiance of the law" is a very misleading phrase. Note that legality does not equal morality. Example: at our school we're only allowed to eat near or in the canteen, for some stupid reason .... Anyway, my friends and I eat by the Annexe (another part of the school) every lunchtime, without littering. In defiance of the rules. But that doesn't mean it's wrong. Eating at the Annexe is a typical example of a victimless crime: done purposefully with innocent intention (because by eating there we're not doing anything wrong).

You made up your own sense of the word "wrong" so that you weren't doing it, your school's administration has already defined it and you defy it. You don't see why it's wrong, so you conclude it's not wrong.

Let's play thought experement. Say the school had roach problems in the 80's, and had a $100,000 treatment throughout the annexe (sorry, I don't have the pound symbol on my keyboard). They have a warrantee from the extermination company that the company will maintain the roach-free status as long as the school conforms to certain sanitary rules, one of which is no eating in treated areas. Your eating voids the warrantee, and when the company comeas back out to treat, the district has to fork over another 100,000. Oops, you did wrong. Or, say, there's known vagrants in the neighborhood. The school posts security near the food court, but hasn't hired enough security to blanket the building through lunch. The vagrants have harassed students in the 80's for food, and see you eating your crumpets without a guard in sight.

The point is, if there's a law, whether you know the reason or agree with the reason, then breaking it intentionally is defiance. A 3-year-old child can not understand most of his parents rules, but things like "don't touch the hot stove element" are best obeyed. I know you think you're smarter than your school administrators, but really, you're probably not. And it's just as well that you gave me the example, because that's how we all can be toward God's law. If you make up your own definition of "right" and "wrong" based on your logic, and have a clean, innocent attitude toward breaking the rules, then you're going to burn your hand on the stove element. I've had my share of burns and it encourages me to be more humble toward them who makes the rules in my life.

Of course, if it turns out that there is no God, then any old set of rules and morality will do. As your next quote correctly asserts:

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
It's a very different thing to assert "I didn't know it was wrong to murder" and "I didn't know it was wrong to smoke pot" (indeed, without a god who says it's wrong in the equation, the latter can't be said to be wrong at all).

Without a God in the equation, murder can't be said to be wrong either.

Yes it can, because people figure out morality for themselves. It's not for the same reason as gay marriage that murder is illegal: there's a very justified secular reason why it's wrong.

As I discussed in the Polygamy thread, the only reason murder is wrong is because the golden rule is true. The only reason the Golden rule is true is because it's a principle of God. Without God, there's no REAL need for the golden rule. And then, even though your conscience tells you murder is wrong, without the golden rule it can be reasoned to be right. Jack the Ripper presumably murdered for the cleansing of London, a moral reason to him. But again, it's an ABP'D discussion.

(part 4 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 5 of 10
PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:01 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
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Fair and Just are two very different adjectives.
They are? I always took them as synonyms. Can you explain?

Fair has to do with equality. If I give you a cookie, and your little brother a bigger cookie, that's not fair! If your parents make 15,000 punds a year and your schoolmate's parents make 100,000, that's not fair. If you go to EuroDisney, and I go to jail, that's not fair. But justice has to do with what people deserve, what they've earned. If you're diabetic and your brother is not, then giving him a big sugar cookie and giving you a small morsel is probably a great idea. If your parents only work 8 hours a week and your classmate's parents work 80 as doctors, then they're getting what they deserve. If you've worked hard in school to get the best grades and you merit reward of going to the theme park, but I ran over a kid with my car, twice, then we're each getting justice.

We confuse the issue a little by saying it's fair to set the "same standards," meaning that equal standards yeild disparate treatments as people shape up differently on the evaluations. So, in a certain sense, fair standards lead to "unfair" treatment, but most people think the word "unfair" has too heavy a connotative distaste, and so euphemisms like "disparate" or "dissimilar" work instead.

The truth on Earth is that everyone is in a different situation! So even the conditions and standards are unfair. Lee Harvey Oswald was an orphan whose case worker not only couldn't find an adoptive parent, but couldn't even get one of the adoption agencies to take his case! Well, he grew up to murder a president of my country. His condition is certainly different than John Kerry's, who grew up to win just under half of the popular and electoral votes in a presidential race. So, is life fair? No. That seems to establish that God isn't fair (I hope someone stops me soon if this is heresy, I'm just reasoning here). Is God Just? Yes. He uplifts the righteous to eternal reward and condemns the wicked to punishment.

That's not to say I believe that there's a works-based judgement in the works for the afterlife. I'm saying that those who let God make them righteous are the ones who'll be rewarded, much like a father rewards an obedient son with ice cream (unless the son is diabetic). Again, the emphasis is on the relationship, but those outside the relationship can still be assured they get justice.

(part 5 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 6 of 10
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:29 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Take into account what happens if you don't form a personal, loving relationship with the wonderful and interesting God... I'd rather have the cold, impersonal tally of deeds than that, thanks.
You don't have to live like that, and those who say you do are mistaken.

I don't get your meaning here. What does "that" refer to – the tally of deeds or the personal relationship?

Oh, sorry! I was being terse. You don't have to live a life worrying about an auditor recordkeeping every action, scowling as he notches his tablet for your errors and smirking as he adds 1 to your good-count for every nicety. It's not a count, not a tally, not an impersonal accountant that determines your eternal destiny. You've seen accountants caricatured in movies, and you can't come out ahead with them. You don't have to live like that! I want to repeat that because the Catholic and Anglican superficial-level rhetoric can be mistaken for meaning that you do have to live like that.

You can live under the loving, watchful eye of a good father. I don't know if your father is good, so I hesitate to try to extrapolate. But imagine if you will, a good father who wants the best for his son, watching that the son does right as a youngster so that when he grows up he succeeds.

Upsilon wrote:
Personally speaking, I wouldn't be able to talk for five minutes without some sort of reply. But maybe that's just me.

Well, that's why I'm here! But of course, I took so very long to reply that perhaps I let you down. Sorry!

Sometimes when I pray to God I really wish he'd answer me in words I can process verbally (either sound or one level removed from sound, in words). He has answered a few times in that one level removed from sound, but characteristically has not for me. It's OK, I guess, most of the time I ask him such pointed questions that no answer I imagine that he could give me would satisfy my state. But that's personal and somewhat difficult to explain. He will probably deal differently with you because I actually have quite the bad attitude most of the time... again, unfair but just.

Upsilon wrote:
I'd write that off as their personal feelings, myself.

Actually, I wish more people in my local circle would. Some of them attribute their personal feelings to God's word, then go off and do something pretty crumby, blaming God for the idea. Discerning God's voice is a tender matter, more so than "what did my girlfriend REALLY mean when she said, '________' to me?" So I'll tell you what: if you hear from God, or think you do, feel free to run it by me and perhaps I can lend some experience. That's an open offer to any reader, but do it by PM rather than reply to the post.

Upsilon wrote:
Before someone sits down to pray, they'll often have some sort of notion as to what God would want them to do. After praying, they still think that, and in feeling that it's right, they believe that God has spoken to them. Sometimes they'll change their mind during prayer, which is probably because "telling" God about it gave them the chance to think about it, and come to their own conclusion.

As to the first, God very rarely does what I want. As to the second, you verify the meaningfulness of a silent listener that you earlier denied! Finally, God indwells Christians in the person of the Holy Spirit. It's less than posession that you see on the movies, but it is often manifested by thoughts that aren't different than normal thought except that their content isn't your accustomed content. Allow me to demonstrate.

My father's car was in the shop. My mother recently had eye surgery. My father needed a ride from work to the repair shop, and he needed it immediately (despite the fact that I was hoping to spend some time with my ladyfriend). My normal thoughts? (Insert Yosemite Sam-style grumbling/cursing). But that's not what happened at that moment! I cheerfully grabbed my jacket and went to drive my dad to the shop. The illuminated fact/thought that came to my head that was so revolutionary was that I'd have to do it whether I grumbled or not, and that he really needed my help. The cheerfulness was sincere, though oddly unnatural for me. I've had a number of years to get to know myself, and that's not my ordinary thinking there. The explanation the Bible gives for that kind of change is Romans 12:1-2, the Holy-Spirit indwelt and renewed mind.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Interesting that God uses such an indistinct method to give a response. Is there often a way of distinguishing between a God-given inkling and a natural inkling?

Yup. Learning his voice. ...Also, following when you know something is from God will help you follow him better, like exercize.

What is "the voice"? I assume it's not just a distinguishable audible sound – is it still just a gut feeling?

No, it's not a gut feeling either (see my note above about some local loonies). It's consistency. God has a certain way of looking at things, a certain personality, a distinct tendency to come up with unconventional but sage ideas that really work. When you read the Bible a lot, you begin to get a feeling for that personality. It's like getting a taste for curry: you can't explain it in words, but it's more than just a flavor, it's a change to the flavor of everything else. Or going through a scented candle store to choose a candle for your woman. Sure, there's different smells, but you want one to represent you in her memory. Even though God's word on paper is just words... you can still get to know him through it. Then, when he illuminates ideas (as I exampled above) or brings things to mind, or answers prayers by a situation, the one who knows God can say "yep, that was him." The only really good comparison is like when someone can tell a real van Gogh from a very good imitation, or when an antique dealer discerns an authentic piece of period furnature from a reproduction.

My usual caveat goes here: if a true student of theology needs to correct me here, I'm open to your input. Also, others' examples of feedback in prayer are welcome to lend interpersonal variety.

(part 6 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 7 of 10
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:11 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
If God made me do everything I did in my life, and I lived a horrible immoral life as a mass murderer, would it really be fair to condemn me to Hell?

Not fair, but just. Paul addressed your question a long time ago in Romans 9. I'm not sure you'll like his answer.

However, this is again something for the predestiny thread.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
And there are lots of reasons to believe our God exists (I don't assume it).

What I really need is an example.

Seriously, everything I'm abbreviating unsatisfactorally is written with great precision in Miracles. Here's a smidgen...
C.S. Lewis wrote:
Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true. (p. 23)

A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to belive that our thinking was valid, ... that theory would itself have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid ... I would have destroyed its own credentials. A proof that there are no such thing as proofs. (p. 24)

Every event in nature must be connected with previous events in the Cause and Effect relation. But our acts of thinking are events. Therefore the true answer to "Why do you think this?" must begin with the Cause-Effect [type of reasoning]. Unless our conclusion is the logical consequent from a ground it will be worthless and could only be true by a fluke... It looks therefore, as if, in order for a train of thought to have any value, these two systems [Cause-Effect and Ground-Consequent] must apply simultaneously to the same series of mental acts. But unfortunately the two systems are wholly distinct. To be caused is not to be proved... (p. 25)

For we can know nothing, beyond our own sensation at the moment unless the act of inference is the real insight that it claims to be. (p. 27)

It is not men with specially good eyes who know about light, but men who have studied the relevent sciences. (p. 29)

My belief that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another is not at all based on the fact that I have never caught them behaving otherwise. I see that it "must" be so. (p. 31)

...as the understanding of a machine is certainly connected with the machine but not in the way the parts of the machine are connected with each other. The knowledge of a thing is not one of the thing's parts. In this sense something beyond Nature happens whenever we reason. (p. 36)

...Nature is quite powerless to produce rational thought: not that she never modifies our thinking but that the moment she does so, it ceases (for that very reason) to be rational. (p. 37)

It is, frankly, a picture in which Nature (at any rate on the surface of our own planet) is perforated or pock-marked all over by little orafices at each of which something of a different kind from herself - namely reason - can do things to her. I can only beg you, before you throw the book away, to consider ... the hankering for a universe which is ... a continuity, a seamless web... is very deep-seated in the modern heart: in mine no less thatn in yours. But have we any real assurance that things are like that? (p. 38)

We are interested [in context of this argument] in man only because his rationality is the little tell-tale rift in Nature which shows that there is something beyond or behind her.

The book goes on, and he closes up all the loopholes apparent in my summary. He starts with this proof that there is a supernatural, and just as smoothly moves to reason the existence of a god.

You may not believe everything in the book, but it's a perfectly good example, which is what you requested.

(part 7 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 8 of 10 - Prayer Thread
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:17 am 
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My comments on prayer and praise ended up, as promised, on a new thread.

(part 8 of 10)

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 Post subject: Responses 9 of 10
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:33 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
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You already know this, and I suppose the prayer discussion has almost taken on a life of its own... perhaps we need to split it off from a discussion about reasoning about God's existence?

You're probably right. I'm good either way, though.

I've started it, for those reasons and since short threads are more inviting to newcomers.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Your analogy seems to stand, but it assumes the existence of the father.

Yes it does. The analogy hinges on (and describes) a benevolent father who initiates a relationship with his son.

And yet if the benevolent father does not exist, the videogaming little tyke can be excused for choosing satisfaction in Mario over disappointment in a greater power.

Yup. But he'll never know if he doesn't try. You do indeed have a little to lose in waiting for the Father, namely opportunity cost of all the other stuff you could be doing. But I conjecture there's more to lose if the world has a God and you miss out on it. I know that you're just waiting for the personal revelation.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
...if I doubt that the man exists, shall I (if I may extend the metaphor to breaking point) go out and stand in the rain outside waiting for him to turn up? Or should I just continue my gaming?

What would you tell the child who did? What would you tell the child who refused?

That depends entirely on whether or not the father is real.

OK, if you doubt the man exists, and the child also doubts the man exists, what would you tell the child who did? The one who refused?

I'm not trying to turn your question back at you to do violence to your entirely valid line of reasoning. I'm trying to see your values. If you value taking dire risks for great reward, you'll encourage the waiting child and scold the mundane one. If you value eeking out safety from what little you can be sure of, you'll try to "talk sense" into the wet child and probably sit down to a game with the vegging boy. Your value system, not mine, needs to be the basis for authentic action on your part. God is not safe, and he demands risk-taking all the time. The risks he puts me up to are clearly different than the risks with which he challenges you -- the risk of belief. It is a risk, and you do have something to lose if he doesn't come through. As do I: if he doesn't come through for me (and soon), then I lose everything. I have put everything on the table, witholding nothing of which I'm aware, investing in his way of doing things. If the investment (not money) goes bad, then it's curtains for Buz.

(part 9 of 10)

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Came across an interesting (if old) article by Richard Dawkins called "Snake Oil and Holy Water". My usual disclaimer applies. It has at least one very good quote, though: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

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 Post subject: Nice!
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:00 pm 
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We interrupt my long posting spree to make a short post!
InterruptorJones wrote:
Came across an interesting ...article .... It has at least one very good quote, though: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

A great article. Were I rich, I'd buy you all a copy of Miracles. I mean sheesh, it answers the exact things that this guy says religious people won't answer (the X, Y, and Z). And C.S. Lewis was a strong opponent of bending the meaning of words to include more meanings, for the same reason as this article's author: what word will you then use to cover the old meaning? Narrowing the meaning has the same problem.

So I'll not back down from scientific scrutiny (as the author suggests apologeticists do)!

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The author claims that miracles tread on science. He claims that miracles violate laws of science, as if there is some cosmic cop out there that's going to give falling objects tickets if they do not accellerate at exactly 32ft/sec squared. Even the notion of "violation" of natural laws implies that these laws must somehow be inforced.

Miracles are not violations of natural laws; they are simply abnormal variations in the natural order, variations brought about by the one who brought nature into being. His conclusion that religion must either bow to science or renounce science entirely is groundless. We have just as much right to invoke scientific evidence to support our claims about God as they do to support their claims. The article, therefore, is attempting to set up a false dichotomy between religion and science, when the only real dichotomy is between religion and atheistically-biased conclusions made by certain scientists.

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 Post subject: Responses 10 of 10
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 5:29 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
I'm a bit unnerved by what you said about subconscious rebellion. Am I to blame for what I have no control over?

You have control over your subconscious […] your subconscious is your responsibility.

Well, if my subconscious is omething I have control over, I'm fairly sure I'm not condoning rebellion against any god in it.

Not even rebellion in the sense of eating over by the annexe? Upsilon, even us Christians constantly have to fight our rebellious tendencies! The Holy Spirit (who knows me better than I know myself) is always showing me some way in which I've been accustomed to pride in my own ways that are contrary to the revealed material in the Bible. Far be it from me to accuse you of any specific wrongdoing, but do you mean that nothing in your natural mode of thinking has a streak of "I want my way and no one can stop me from that"?

Upsilon wrote:
Back in Moses's day nobody knew about quarks. There was no evidence that quarks existed, even though they did. It wouldn't have been fair if they'd gone to hell for denying the existence of quarks.

Science! I say Science again: What if someone insisted on washing and using (for his day) sanitary technique for surgeries, even though he lived in the age before microscopes and knowledge of bacteria? What if other doctors deprecated him and his cleanliness as rediculous superstition? The consequence is that most of his surgeries were survived and most of the other doctors' surgeries were followed by fatal infections. I'm sorry I can't find the doctor's name or the years in which he was a surgeon, but there were dire consequences for the patients of surgeons who didn't wash their hands before surgery because they had no evidence for believing in the existence of bacteria.

Fair? No. Consequences? Yes!

Upsilon wrote:
However, if I believe (as I do) that there is evidence for God's non-existence, we can arrive safely at my conclusion.

I guess that's what this thread is about! So, do you believe there is evidence, or do you have evidence very different claims? Those are different claims. I am very impressed that you didn't (as others would) say "proof," but said "evidence." Are you sure you're a mere secondary student? "I am, as you humans say, 'all ears.'" (a quote from a Ferengi on Star Trek, which is especially funny if you know what a Ferengi looks like)

Rather Dashing wrote:
i, personally think that the human mind is able to tell the truth, or at least want to think something is the truth when s/he hears it.

Upsilon, you criticized this at face value, in which you thought Rather Dashing was rather rash in believing what he wanted to believe for emotional (not logical) reasons. However, don't miss the subtleties of the wording here: "the human mind is able to tell the truth." That's the foundational observation to the first half of the Lewis book Miracles: that the human mind is not just chemicals and causal events, but can actually reason out something true! If you think that ANYTHING you think is actually true, then you believe this one thing in common with RatherDashing and I.

Mashed Potato Jones wrote:
In the beggining God created humas because he was lonely

You win my coveted Heresy of the Week!

Mashed Potato Jones wrote:
...if you are going by those standards why ever build legos? you know whatever you make isnt going to be perfect.

I love Lego bricks. They shaped my childhood as I shaped their form! Some of my Lego creations were penultimate, if not perfect. I still think of God's creative sense in terms of lessons I learned wrestling with little platic doohickeys.

Mashed Potato Jones wrote:
Please somone reply i wanna get in an argument. ok sorry if no one under stood me but i wanna get in an argument so i can try to help someones life be saved through Jesus Christ. Crapfully yours

No, I insist, crapfully YOURS. :) If you want to argue, argue with me. Bring it. But don't bother these nice people with your need to pugilize. You want to help save someone's life through Jesus Christ? Then do it his way: Isaiah 9:6, John 8, Acts 16:28-30, and the entire book of 1 John. You can not achieve God's ends apart from his means, because the means are actually more important than the ends in a Biblical worldview Matt 22:37-40, 1 Sam 15:22, Prov 15:1. I got a whole can to open if you want to bring it. Come in here talkin' trash, that be callin' the beat down from above

Didymus wrote:
His conclusion that religion must either bow to science or renounce science entirely is groundless. We have just as much right to invoke scientific evidence to support our claims about God as they do to support their claims. The article, therefore, is attempting to set up a false dichotomy between religion and science.

I don't know that the author was going quote that far, at least, I didn't read that much into his tone of voice. I merely appreciated his exposure of the fact that some people believe something for one reason, and then make up other reasons that they supposedly believe it when discussing. They set up their own straw men that the above author has to then deconstruct.

For example, Ken Ham. He (and I) believe in God and Genesis for philosophical reasons. He then bends his interpretation of science around those philosophical bases (he hasn't done anything wrong so far, by the way). The problem comes in when he presents his interpreted science as adequate motivation for Christianity, as if he himself came to Christ through looking at dinosaur bones saying, "there must have been a flood to bury these!" That is the kind of science that I think the above article rightly scoffs. Then again, perhaps I praised it too soon... maybe I should read more by the same guy to observe if my policy of "giving him the benefit of the doubt" failed me this time.

(part 10 of 10!)

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Wow, a lot to reply to here. Do you have any objection if I do it all in one post?

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 Post subject: Big responses
PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:53 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Wow, a lot to reply to here. Do you have any objection if I do it all in one post?

I don't personally mind... but I had some complaints when I posted really long. I have a feeling that comes from how long it makes each page when we post corpulent letter after corpulent letter for a newcomer to the thread to read. But I have a longer attention span when I'm already involved in the discussion.

And you need not feel compelled to address every detail I brought up, I won't feel bad.

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 Post subject: Not a double post
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 4:26 pm 
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This is on a different point, and weeks later than my last post, so please don't consider it a trival double-post.

Here's an article I'm currently reading about someone I'm told is one of the world's foremost defenders of rational atheism: Antony Flew.

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edsmilde wrote:
The fact that we have corrupted the earth is mostly because of Satan.


I'm no theologian, so someone who is (Didymus!:) ) can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not so sure about that point. I mean, yes, according to the story of creation, the devil tempted Adam and Eve, but isn't our naturally sinful nature what corrupted the Earth? Sure the devil had a hand in it, but we choose to be sinful....I think this topic may have been addressed in other threads...

[EDIT: after a search, it appears we've already covered the choice of sin in this very thread...]

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StrongCanada is right on this one. We cannot blame the fall of humanity or the corruption on the earth on Satan. While he was certainly an instigator, it was mankind's own sin that brought about the corruption of the earth.

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Thanks four correcting me on that. Yeah, you're right. But if it weren't for Satan, Adam and Eve wouldn't have sinned, right?

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 Post subject: What-if?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 6:09 pm 
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edsmilde wrote:
But if it weren't for Satan, Adam and Eve wouldn't have sinned, right?

A profound what-if lies in your challenge. I am not sure either way, a reformed theologian would say that they would have, an Armenian would probably say they would not have. I really don't know, as that issue is not addressed specifically in Scripture or any theological treatise to which I've been exposed.

The only Biblical principle that contributes insight into this is the fall of Satan himself. Lucifer, a high- ranking holy angel in the service of God had no external force tempting him to sin, and he fell. Satan himself fell without anyone else acting as a devil to him. So I am under the impression that Adam could have fallen, theoretically.

But there's probably no good answer as to whether he would have. Any more than "would you have done such-and-such" under radically different circumstances than you've ever been in.

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Or, you know, there is corruption on Earth because humans are only HUMAN! Greed and lust for power aren't influenced by any supernatural being or anything, it's human nature! Not sin, sin is only a buzzword made by the religious elite to make people fell bad about being human. It's all survival instinct. Survival by the fittest. Yes, it's a trait that we need to conquer to advance as a species, but as we've seen in the past 100 years, human nature can be changed.

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Dr. Zaius wrote:
...but as we've seen in the past 100 years, human nature can be changed.

I request substantiation; because as the statement stands, I don't believe it nor am I prepared to overlook it.

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 Post subject: Re: What-if?
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Buz wrote:
edsmilde wrote:
But if it weren't for Satan, Adam and Eve wouldn't have sinned, right?


The only Biblical principle that contributes insight into this is the fall of Satan himself. Lucifer, a high- ranking holy angel in the service of God had no external force tempting him to sin, and he fell. Satan himself fell without anyone else acting as a devil to him. So I am under the impression that Adam could have fallen, theoretically.


I agree that these what-ifs are difficult if not impossible to answer satisfactorily. However, as I think about it, I don't believe that Adam and Eve would have fallen without the temptation. My reason for thinking this is that before the fall, Adam and Eve were completely innocent. I don't mean this just in the sense that they were without guilt, but that they had no desire or inclination to do wrong. In fact, at that stage they were without the ability to know right from wrong. It was in fact the desire to have a knowledge of the difference between good and evil, joy and misery, that prompted Eve to partake of the fruit in the first place. I believe that without Satan's tempting, they would have remained in their innocent, paradisiacal, unchanging state indefinately.

Now to address the 2nd part. Satan required no devil to tempt him to rebel against God. This is true. So how come Adam and Eve required one? Let's look at their personalities. Satan, while living with God, knowing God's attributes perfectly, chose to rebel against Him. 1/3 of God's children sided with Satan. These spirits were not able to say "I didn't realize that God lives," or "I had no idea that God knows all truth." With a 100% perfect knowledge of the truth, those spirits chose to ignore truth and rebel. Adam and Eve did choose to follow God and truth. Not only did they choose truth, but it is my understanding that they were among the very most righteous children of God. I don't believe it was in their characters to rebel against God and truth, especially before their fall. It's a good thing that they fell, but I don't think it would have happened without the temptations of the devil.

This is my opinion, I truly have no idea, as the quote
Buz wrote:
But there's probably no good answer as to whether he would have. Any more than "would you have done such-and-such" under radically different circumstances than you've ever been in.

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 Post subject: Re: Responses 10 of 10
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:03 pm 
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Chapter 1: Tolerant or Despot (or both)?

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
[God]'s not your grandpa, thinking "just let the young people have fun and do whatever they want."
But why can't he be? Is God just an intolerant despot?

He's not "just" anything. Is he tolerant? Yes! He allows people to perform all kinds of acts of which he doesn't approve, though he doesn't allow people to "get away with" them.


I wouldn't call that tolerant. Tolerating it would be to let them "get away with it".

Quote:
To the second question, "is he despotic," I answer "yes" provisionally. Denotatively, he owns the Earth and everything in it by right of creation, and rules it. But the connotations of "despotism" were probably more of what you're getting at, wherein trivial offences against the despot are punished by execution. I don't really see it that way, and I don't think the presence of all the good things on Earth and the pleasant experiences in each of our lives attest to a bloodthirsty meglomaniac. In fact, though Jesus was the person in history with the most right to be proud, we see instead divine humility demonstrated at every opportunity! That profundity contradicts the generalization one would make by observing human despots and extrapolating to God.


Your comment about trivial offences being punished by execution sounds right on; although you probably wouldn't call lack of belief in God trivial, it makes little difference to how "good" I am, and "execution" is an apt summary of what I and billions of good people are facing for it. You mention what a nice bloke Jesus was; I would agree, if what's in the Bible is true, he was a champion fellow. And yet what he's advocating is a religion which preaches, essentially, "turn or burn".

I like to call this the Double-Deity problem. On the one hand, we have the typical representation of God: a loving father who will forgive you of your sins, welcome the prodigal son with a feast, find the missing hundredth sheep and so on. This is the side of God that most Christians talk about when trying to make converts. Conversely, we have the other God, who detests infidels and wouldn't think twice about throwing them into the eternal fire. This is the side of God that Jack Chick talks about when trying to make converts. God is a paradox; both loving and hateful, both kind and bloodthirsty. And what decides which side of the coin you receive after death? Whether or not you believed it was true. Execution for trivial offences? If I may make a pun: Heck, yeah.

Quote:
The problem is, I'm describing this all in terms of adjectives with abstract meanings. A better study of the character of God would be by understanding examples ("types") of God through stories. David, in 1 Samuel 25, had the power and good reason to kill a bad man, but because of a request for mercy, stilled his sword (the context of the passage in Israels' history is important). Jesus who drove out moneychangers in the Temple with a whip, but healed lepers and played with children. In this intellectual age, we pretend that abstract concepts are higher than narratives... but humans understand better from the inductive lead of stories and examples than from deductive reasoning originating in abstract rhetoric.


So if someone stuck up for me as god was about to send me to Hell ("Oh, come on, Lord… he's not a bad chap really… have you thought this through?"), would he reconsider? If not, where does that leave the David analogy?

Quote:
As to the "Why can't he [just let everyone do anything they want]?" which was the point of your question, I answer that he could, but doesn't. I mean, I could just as easily ask, "why don't you do make a habit of eating mud?" You certainly are able, but you don't want to, and you don't have to. The possibility does not dictate your behavior or preferences. God could be intolerant, but he isn't. God could be lackadaisical, but he isn't. God could be a jerk who eats people, but he isn't. He's let us know his expectations in his preferred method of revelation.


And so we reach the second level of the question: "Why can't he?" "He can, but he doesn't." So, why doesn't he?

Chapter 2: Charity and Neutrality

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
One thing to think about: the original rebels against Jehovah are demons, so you'll be in their presence in Hell (although they're co-victims, not rulers, of hell). God doesn't have to make hell bad, it'll get that way on it's own in very short order.
Although he could prevent that.

The context of my comment was "people in hell want away from God, want him to stop meddling with their self-will." By that Lewisian reasoning, God's interference in hell is therefore unwelcome! Your suggestion that God should intervene to make hell less bad is nonsequitur.


I can't hate what I don't believe in, and I know I don't "want away" from God. If God were to intervene with Hell in that way, I can assure you he'd be very welcome.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
But if we're not aware of the existence of God, we can't make that choice. It's not neutrality towards God, because you can't be neutral towards something that doesn't exist.

If you start by assuming the non-existence of God, then you will probably conclude the nonexistence of God. If you instead start from a basis without a non-assumption of God (you don't even need an assumption of God), then you can be neutral!


Right, but I "assume" that God is not real. The original point here is that I'm not making the choice to be with or against God. I don't see him sitting up there on his cloud and think "Hmm, should I side with him and get eternal bliss or the one the horns and get eternal punishment? (Tough decision…)" There is no decision to be made if there is no entity that the decision relates to.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Oh, I'll acknowledge that missionaries exist to spread God's word. But human word is a lot less reliable than a booming voice and a thundercloud.

That's why Christians are not to spread the good news with flapping jaws alone […] and give them a little trust.


I won't deny that a lot of good things have been done in God's name, but I'd put that down to incentive from the religion itself; not a moral force that God is sending into them, but the charity they feel obliged to do because Jesus said you should. Anyone who is set a good example by somebody can do this, regardless of religion. In Christians' case, the good example is often Jesus.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Do you care about a billion Hindus in Asia? If so, what have you done about it? If it's so morally necessary that God care about them but you don't care about them, do you not condemn yourself?

I don't spread the word of God because I don't think the Christian god is any more real than the gods of Hinduism. I'm not condemning them, or myself, by leaving them be, because from a secular point of view, it'll make no difference which religion they choose to follow.

I was talking more generally about feeding and clothing them […] if you don't care about them then don't try to make an issue about their eternal destiny when you should be considering direct questions about your responsibilities.


I think you should cut me some slack; bear in mind that I'm only thirteen, so I can't exactly hop on the next plane to Bali and hand over fistfuls of cash to those in poverty. In any case, I don't see that I have any responsibility per se to help those less fortunate than myself; in my book, if I haven't done anything bad to them, I don't owe them anything. (Don't get me wrong, I think charitable services such as yours are admirable; I just don't think there's any moral obligation for me, or for anyone.)

In any case, your point that I shouldn't be criticising God for sending them to Hell is fallacious for two reasons: firstly, I am completely powerless to save these people from anything at all compared to God. God, who bears infinite omnipotence, can bring millions living in favelas mansions and enough caviar to last a lifetime by hardly lifting a finger. Secondly, and more importantly, I am not the one who subjects poor people to poverty. It is not my fault that people are starving in Africa; I didn't cause their suffering. However, it is entirely due to God's intolerance that the billions who have no faith in him are going to be eternally tortured. You're comparing the neutral action of me not helping them (assume for argument's sake that I have never given to charity) to the immoral action of God damning them to Hell.

Quote:
Conclusion (the whole reason I brought the issue up): Their eternal fate should have no consequence on your perception of the reality of God.


I don't see why not. The God who loves all of his creation to a degree that we can't even comprehend seems a lot less plausible when he's absent-mindedly sending a large portion of his creation downstairs to burn eternally.

Chapter 3: Meta-Morality

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
I was just pointing out that immorality is a highly subjective matter and I wouldn't want to take the blame for [victimless crimes].

And I was simply pointing out that immorality is not a subjective matter.[…] (I discussed this yesterday on the Polygamy thread).


You raise some interesting points. To answer the Hitler question, I do hold someone else to blame when they do something that they believe morally correct but I believe morally wrong; however, I do normally explain to them why, using logic to explain my moral standing. If they won't listen to reason, it's fair enough to continue to hold them to blame. I believe it's the same with the Hitler case; although he may well have believed that what he was doing was right, I think he arrived at his conclusion via faulty logic (I think we can all agree that he was a mentally unstable man).

So… morals are subjective, but they're also subject to logic and reasoning. So, if you can back up what you think is wrong with a reason why it's wrong, it's probably legitimate.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
I didn't dream up my moral code on a whim. I came to it by logic and lateral thinking.

I'm sure you've started on that path, but from my understanding of developmental psychology, I'm going to insist that most of your moral code was simply passed on to you from the adult influences on your young life.


That's true, if only because people's morals are generally similar. "Thou shalt not steal," says the Bible, and I agree (through my own reasoning) that taking what isn't yours is ethically wrong. On the other hand, the Bible also says "do not lie with another man", but I can think of no logical reason why this should be wrong. But you're right; the majority of my moral code is the same as what my parents taught me, because under scrutiny, most of their values have held up.

Quote:
I'm not sure how lateral thinking applies. Do you mean, "taking extreme starting conditions and using unconventional lines of inference in thought experements," as a method to whittle out contradictions? Because if you mean the "Lateral Thinking" as used in those "Twenty Questions/What Caused this Result" games, the need for someone who already knows the answer is inherent to the game.


By lateral thinking, I mean approaching the problem from a neutral point of view and reaching a conclusion by applying logic and comparing it with my morals. Um, lateral thinking probably wasn't the best phrase to use.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Furthermore, it doesn't explain in the Bible why it's wrong for a man to "lie with another man" and if there's no reason to assume that God exists, there's no reason to assume that it is wrong.

Close. If God doesn't exist, then there's no reason to assume it's wrong. If there's no reson to assume God exists, then the question is linearly dependent. That is, the question as to God's existence implies the answer, so it's an indeterminate. Like y=f(x) where I won't tell you f but demand you give me y's value for x="homosexuality."


True. But if there's no reason to assume that God exists, I would argue that there's reason to assume that he doesn't, therefore no reason to assume it's wrong.

Quote:
As I stated in PM […] and plus sin is harmful to us.


By "sin" in the second part, do you mean all sin, or only some sin? Looking at it from an atheist point of view, that is (obviously, once God is factored in, all sin is harmful by definition).

Chapter 4: In defiance of the law

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
The key phrase here is "on logical grounds". If I believe myself to be doing the right thing (or, indeed, not doing the wrong thing), is it really right to punish me? You yourself said a while back that "innocent intention is recognized even in Old Testament law" - why don't the victimless crimes fall under innocent intention?

Because, in victimless crimes, the perpetrator purposely commits the crime. ... Very different.

"In defiance of the law" is a very misleading phrase. Note that legality does not equal morality. Example: at our school we're only allowed to eat near or in the canteen, for some stupid reason .... Anyway, my friends and I eat by the Annexe (another part of the school) every lunchtime, without littering. In defiance of the rules. But that doesn't mean it's wrong. Eating at the Annexe is a typical example of a victimless crime: done purposefully with innocent intention (because by eating there we're not doing anything wrong).

You made up your own sense of the word "wrong" so that you weren't doing it, your school's administration has already defined it and you defy it. You don't see why it's wrong, so you conclude it's not wrong.


And why not? With the axiom of my own sensible moral code, there's no reason why eating at the annexe is immoral; so I can safely conclude that it isn't immoral, unless my moral code is flawed.

Quote:
Let's play thought experement. Say the school had roach problems in the 80's, and had a $100,000 treatment throughout the annexe (sorry, I don't have the pound symbol on my keyboard). They have a warrantee from the extermination company that the company will maintain the roach-free status as long as the school conforms to certain sanitary rules, one of which is no eating in treated areas. Your eating voids the warrantee, and when the company comeas back out to treat, the district has to fork over another 100,000. Oops, you did wrong. Or, say, there's known vagrants in the neighborhood. The school posts security near the food court, but hasn't hired enough security to blanket the building through lunch. The vagrants have harassed students in the 80's for food, and see you eating your crumpets without a guard in sight.


What is the point of this speculation? If it was the case that there was a sensible justification like that for the rule, the obvious thing to do would be to eat in the designated area. However, the reason why we're not allowed to eat at the annexe is because they don't want any litter there. If we don't litter and don't get in trouble, I don't see the problem.

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The point is, if there's a law, whether you know the reason or agree with the reason, then breaking it intentionally is defiance. A 3-year-old child can not understand most of his parents rules, but things like "don't touch the hot stove element" are best obeyed. I know you think you're smarter than your school administrators, but really, you're probably not. And it's just as well that you gave me the example, because that's how we all can be toward God's law. If you make up your own definition of "right" and "wrong" based on your logic, and have a clean, innocent attitude toward breaking the rules, then you're going to burn your hand on the stove element. I've had my share of burns and it encourages me to be more humble toward them who makes the rules in my life.


The three-year-old in question doesn't know why it's unwise to break that rule because he lacks information; he doesn't know the hob is hot enough to burn him. Eating at the annexe is a different matter; we have all the information we need to come to the conclusion that eating there won't do any damage.

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Of course, if it turns out that there is no God, then any old set of rules and morality will do.


I don't think so. Even though I don't believe in any god, I still think that there are basic morals that everyone should follow, for the good of humanity.

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Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
It's a very different thing to assert "I didn't know it was wrong to murder" and "I didn't know it was wrong to smoke pot" (indeed, without a god who says it's wrong in the equation, the latter can't be said to be wrong at all).

Without a God in the equation, murder can't be said to be wrong either.

Yes it can, because people figure out morality for themselves. It's not for the same reason as gay marriage that murder is illegal: there's a very justified secular reason why it's wrong.

As I discussed in the Polygamy thread, the only reason murder is wrong is because the golden rule is true. The only reason the Golden rule is true is because it's a principle of God. Without God, there's no REAL need for the golden rule. And then, even though your conscience tells you murder is wrong, without the golden rule it can be reasoned to be right. Jack the Ripper presumably murdered for the cleansing of London, a moral reason to him.


Since I missed your last post in the polygamy thread, I'll confront the issue here.

Your logic is okay until "the only reason that the Golden Rule is true is because it's a principle of God". The reason that many secularists accept the Golden Rule is that harming others (to put it simply) has a detrimental effect on society and other people's feelings. Homosexuality (the example used in the other topic) does not affect society, nor does it do any damage to anything.

Chapter 5: Fair vs. Just

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Fair and Just are two very different adjectives.
They are? I always took them as synonyms. Can you explain?

Fair has to do with equality. […] He uplifts the righteous to eternal reward and condemns the wicked to punishment.


That doesn't seem just to me, unless I've always misunderstood the meaning of the word "just". Actually, the error seems to lie in labelling the "wicked" and "righteous". What does not believing in God have to do with being wicked? It's not a system of justice, it's one of discrimination. The American judicial system wouldn't decide to send someone to jail based on the colour of their shirt. You're absolutely right on one point: it's not fair that millions of good people perish in Hell on a completely trivial matter, and if it's just, then justice clearly isn't worth much.

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That's not to say I believe that there's a works-based judgement in the works for the afterlife. I'm saying that those who let God make them righteous are the ones who'll be rewarded, much like a father rewards an obedient son with ice cream (unless the son is diabetic). Again, the emphasis is on the relationship, but those outside the relationship can still be assured they get justice.


Well, I'm glad you think it's "just" that nothing I can do will get me out of Hell if I think that God doesn't exist. I'm not so glad that God thinks that.

Chapter 6: Prayer

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
Take into account what happens if you don't form a personal, loving relationship with the wonderful and interesting God... I'd rather have the cold, impersonal tally of deeds than that, thanks.
You don't have to live like that, and those who say you do are mistaken.

I don't get your meaning here. What does "that" refer to – the tally of deeds or the personal relationship?

Oh, sorry! […] watching that the son does right as a youngster so that when he grows up he succeeds.


The pity is, all we're given as reason that the father exists is a book which could have been written by anyone with a good imagination. And I don't think many people who are being burnt in Hell would assert that they wouldn't rather have the accountant. While our impersonal tally may not be a perfect method, it seems to work a lot better than God's real rule of thumb.

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Upsilon wrote:
I'd write that off as their personal feelings, myself.

Actually, I wish more people in my local circle would. Some of them attribute their personal feelings to God's word, then go off and do something pretty crumby, blaming God for the idea. Discerning God's voice is a tender matter, more so than "what did my girlfriend REALLY mean when she said, '________' to me?" So I'll tell you what: if you hear from God, or think you do, feel free to run it by me and perhaps I can lend some experience. That's an open offer to any reader, but do it by PM rather than reply to the post.


If I think I hear something of the sort, I'll let you know.

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Upsilon wrote:
Before someone sits down to pray, they'll often have some sort of notion as to what God would want them to do. After praying, they still think that, and in feeling that it's right, they believe that God has spoken to them. Sometimes they'll change their mind during prayer, which is probably because "telling" God about it gave them the chance to think about it, and come to their own conclusion.

As to the first, God very rarely does what I want. As to the second, you verify the meaningfulness of a silent listener that you earlier denied!


I didn't deny all worth of a silent listener; I said that it was equal to writing your thoughts in a journal – or, indeed, praying.

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Finally, God indwells Christians in the person of the Holy Spirit. […] the Holy-Spirit indwelt and renewed mind.


That seems scarily like messing with free will to me. Not quite the same, but worryingly close.

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Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
Interesting that God uses such an indistinct method to give a response. Is there often a way of distinguishing between a God-given inkling and a natural inkling?

Yup. Learning his voice. ...Also, following when you know something is from God will help you follow him better, like exercize.

What is "the voice"? I assume it's not just a distinguishable audible sound – is it still just a gut feeling?

No, it's not a gut feeling either […] or when an antique dealer discerns an authentic piece of period furnature from a reproduction.


This is getting abstract to the extreme. So… to recognise an answer that God gives to a prayer, you have to know which idea you think up would have been given by him. Is this anything to do with divine intervention any more? To me it seems more like detetctive work.

Chapter 7: Miracles

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
If God made me do everything I did in my life, and I lived a horrible immoral life as a mass murderer, would it really be fair to condemn me to Hell?

Not fair, but just. Paul addressed your question a long time ago in Romans 9. I'm not sure you'll like his answer.


That was an accurate prediction. Again, the "just" label seems like pedantic semantics – you can't seriously say it's just for God to say: "Hmm, what shall I make this free-will-less puppet do? I'll make him a saint and reward him infinitely! I'll make this one a mass rapist, though. Whoops, better punish him! Into the fire." The punishments-to-deeds aspect may be just, but it's not just that the puppets are punished for what they have no control over.

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Upsilon wrote:
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And there are lots of reasons to believe our God exists (I don't assume it).

What I really need is an example.

Seriously, everything I'm abbreviating unsatisfactorally is written with great precision in Miracles. […] which is what you requested.


If I can find a copy of Miracles anywhere in the physical world, I'll buy it. By the way, in light of your PM, I would seize the opportunity, but I don't have an Amazon account, and I don't think I have the means to obtain one.

Chapter 9: What happened to Chapter 8?

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Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
Your analogy seems to stand, but it assumes the existence of the father.

Yes it does. The analogy hinges on (and describes) a benevolent father who initiates a relationship with his son.

And yet if the benevolent father does not exist, the videogaming little tyke can be excused for choosing satisfaction in Mario over disappointment in a greater power.

Yup. But he'll never know if he doesn't try. You do indeed have a little to lose in waiting for the Father, namely opportunity cost of all the other stuff you could be doing. But I conjecture there's more to lose if the world has a God and you miss out on it. I know that you're just waiting for the personal revelation.


Yeah, if God is real after all, I must admit I'd be royally screwed. Again we've reached the point where it depends on the reasoning which justifies the father's (non-)existence. If, instead of a father, the alternative is to wait in the rain for a talking eagle (or, indeed, a purple alien) to fly you off to a theme park on the moon, the obvious answer is to stay inside and plug in that console.

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Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
...if I doubt that the man exists, shall I (if I may extend the metaphor to breaking point) go out and stand in the rain outside waiting for him to turn up? Or should I just continue my gaming?

What would you tell the child who did? What would you tell the child who refused?

That depends entirely on whether or not the father is real.

OK, if you doubt the man exists, and the child also doubts the man exists, what would you tell the child who did? The one who refused?


If we're assuming that it's either "stay out in the rain and get an opportunity to meet the dad" or "stay inside and never have the opportunity", I would let the waiting child stand outside if he wants to, by all means, but I don't see why I shouldn't try and reason with him (indeed, that's what I did by making the post which spawned all this!) I'd have no reason to debate with the one who stayed in, though.

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I'm not trying to turn your question back at you to do violence to your entirely valid line of reasoning. I'm trying to see your values. If you value taking dire risks for great reward, you'll encourage the waiting child and scold the mundane one. If you value eeking out safety from what little you can be sure of, you'll try to "talk sense" into the wet child and probably sit down to a game with the vegging boy.


Wow. Considering that I hadn't read this quote before making the previous comment, that second one's a scarily accurate prediction.

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Your value system, not mine, needs to be the basis for authentic action on your part. God is not safe, and he demands risk-taking all the time. The risks he puts me up to are clearly different than the risks with which he challenges you -- the risk of belief. It is a risk, and you do have something to lose if he doesn't come through. As do I: if he doesn't come through for me (and soon), then I lose everything. I have put everything on the table, witholding nothing of which I'm aware, investing in his way of doing things. If the investment (not money) goes bad, then it's curtains for Buz.


Do you think? Judging by what I've read in this topic, you've done a lot of great things in your life. Even if the god you believe in turns out to be make-believe, I still wouldn't think you've wasted your life.

Chapter 10: The thrilling conclusion!

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
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Upsilon wrote:
I'm a bit unnerved by what you said about subconscious rebellion. Am I to blame for what I have no control over?

You have control over your subconscious […] your subconscious is your responsibility.

Well, if my subconscious is omething I have control over, I'm fairly sure I'm not condoning rebellion against any god in it.

Not even rebellion in the sense of eating over by the annexe? Upsilon, even us Christians constantly have to fight our rebellious tendencies! The Holy Spirit (who knows me better than I know myself) is always showing me some way in which I've been accustomed to pride in my own ways that are contrary to the revealed material in the Bible. Far be it from me to accuse you of any specific wrongdoing, but do you mean that nothing in your natural mode of thinking has a streak of "I want my way and no one can stop me from that"?


I hardly equate the school faculty with God. Yes, I rebel in the sense that I don’t follow all the rules, but if the law of America forbade you from eating spaghetti for no good reason and there was no way you would get caught eating spaghetti, would you really abide by the rule?

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Back in Moses's day nobody knew about quarks. There was no evidence that quarks existed, even though they did. It wouldn't have been fair if they'd gone to hell for denying the existence of quarks.

Science! I say Science again: What if someone insisted on washing and using (for his day) sanitary technique for surgeries, even though he lived in the age before microscopes and knowledge of bacteria? What if other doctors deprecated him and his cleanliness as rediculous superstition? The consequence is that most of his surgeries were survived and most of the other doctors' surgeries were followed by fatal infections. I'm sorry I can't find the doctor's name or the years in which he was a surgeon, but there were dire consequences for the patients of surgeons who didn't wash their hands before surgery because they had no evidence for believing in the existence of bacteria.

Fair? No. Consequences? Yes!


Bacteria are not omnipotent or even very intelligent; it's not really their fault that the people in ye olden times died because they didn't know about them. And I'm certainly not going to create a topic called "Can (meningococcal) bacteria be?" based on the fact that they don't make themselves known. But God has control over whether or not he shows himself, and what happens to those who don't believe him, and it's not fair or just to allow the arbitrary consequences.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
However, if I believe (as I do) that there is evidence for God's non-existence, we can arrive safely at my conclusion.

I guess that's what this thread is about! So, do you believe there is evidence, or do you have evidence very different claims? Those are different claims. I am very impressed that you didn't (as others would) say "proof," but said "evidence." Are you sure you're a mere secondary student? "I am, as you humans say, 'all ears.'" (a quote from a Ferengi on Star Trek, which is especially funny if you know what a Ferengi looks like)


My evidence for God's non-existence is that which underlies this entire discussion: the contradiction of there being a benevolent God who sends people to Hell.

Quote:
Rather Dashing wrote:
i, personally think that the human mind is able to tell the truth, or at least want to think something is the truth when s/he hears it.

Upsilon, you criticized this at face value, in which you thought Rather Dashing was rather rash in believing what he wanted to believe for emotional (not logical) reasons. However, don't miss the subtleties of the wording here: "the human mind is able to tell the truth." That's the foundational observation to the first half of the Lewis book Miracles: that the human mind is not just chemicals and causal events, but can actually reason out something true! If you think that ANYTHING you think is actually true, then you believe this one thing in common with RatherDashing and I.


I'm not going to argue with that. I was just saying that it was a bit rich to say "I think the Bible is true because I want it to be true".

THE END

Hmm, that only took a month. ;)

Hang on...

EPILOGUE

Didymus wrote:
We cannot blame the fall of humanity or the corruption on the earth on Satan.


Is it any better to blame it on yourself?

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 Post subject: 13th
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:18 am 
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Upsilon-- are you sure you're thirteen? You reason more clearly than half my classmates did in a graduate philosophy class. I'm not trying to suck up to you or anything, I just hope you're planning on investing your life in something great. I'll need some time too :)

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Well, I'm nearly fourteen. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Can (a Christian) God Be?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 10:27 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
Don't forget that core to Christianity is that god is infallible and capable of everything.

Actually the story of Sodom and Gammorah was made to teach the lesson that "even God makes mistakes." This is what I was taught in Hebrew School being Jewish myself, but I realize that Judaism is really just the predecessor to Christianity, namely the Old Testament.

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However, it is entirely due to God's intolerance that the billions who have no faith in him are going to be eternally tortured. You're comparing the neutral action of me not helping them (assume for argument's sake that I have never given to charity) to the immoral action of God damning them to Hell.


I'd have to agree. If you're born into a family that is starving and doesn't believe in the "right" God, then are you condemned just because of what you're taught?

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