Greyarcher wrote:In that light, the response "I don't know" is compatible with the theme of the doubter, because it is about the contradiction and the subsequent cognitive dissonance kickstarting a critical examination of one's religious beliefs and their bases.
The "I don't know if God is an asshole" camp is different than the "God is an asshole" camp. I was referring to people in the latter when I talked about weak arguments. If you're in the former, then I'd say your position is better supported.
Greyarcher wrote: For someone to instead think something like, "I'll have faith that this apparent contradiction isn't a contradiction at all" is...painfully close to glossing over a reasonable point of doubt with unthinking trust.
This is only true if the person didn't actually think. Faith isn't about wrapping up answers neatly so we can bypass thought. I believe faith is about faithfulness, and it stems from the fact that we don't deal well with uncertainty, especially when the answer critically affects how we make choices.
Let me try an analogy. Suppose your good friend Tom has been accused of rape by your other friend Sally. The evidence isn't strong enough to know the truth without taking someone's word for it (maybe it happened too long ago and it's just coming to light). If you know Tom so well that you know he wouldn't do that, then you have faith in Tom. On the other hand you could have faith that Sally wouldn't make something like that up. And this is an area where remaining neutral is difficult (though I don't say impossible) since that would just offend both of them. You can't simply treat them both like nothing happened because they each want you to turn your back on the other. The answer is unknowable based on evidence but critical in how you treat them.
Now to change it up, suppose that Tom is your father and the accusation is that he behaved inappropriately with Sally's children. Now you have to decide if you want to let your kids hang out with Grandpa over the weekend. For most parents it's nearly impossible to put their kids in a situation where they perceive even a small amount of risk, so it would take a solid faith in dad to leave the kids with him. And if you have such faith, it doesn't mean you didn't spend some serious time critically pondering whether he was really guilty.
This is the same idea with a faith in God. Many Christians have come to know a God that's consistent with the all loving being described in the Bible. And when they ruminate over the more challenging parts of the Bible, they apply what they know about who God is to help fill in why God would do things like kill Egyptian babies or allow Job to be tortured. Having faith isn't about programming facts into one's head without thought, rather it's just applying what one believes to be true. And just because someone applies their faith that God is all loving doesn't mean that they didn't spend a lot of time pondering if that's actually true. Having faith != Lack of thought.
One more point on faith. As I said, I believe faith is really about faithfulness. Some roads are difficult to walk and our mind will seek out excuses to take the first exit. Faith is about building up a resolve to stay on the road. It's harder to do what the Bible says if you're not sure if God cares about you. It's an example of where usefulness helps inform our belief in truth. This mechanism certainly plays a role in religion, but I think it's actually something that permeates our culture and stems from how our brain is wired.
Grayarcher wrote:At any rate, I do apologize for any vehemence of tone. I, mysteriously, tend to be unusually passionate when I enter religious discussions.
No worries. I didn't detect anything needing of apology in your tone.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:If there's no human scale on which to judge God's actions or attitudes than how are you certain he's Omni benevolent or even just benevolent?
Is it Faith? Because ultimately it seems that not only does the concept of God not need empirical justification for his existence (and one might be perfectly ready to concede there's no possible empirical evidence) but to also disregard any rational justification (taking as a given any religious dogma) seems to place the concept of God completely outside the realm of reasoned discussion?
Having faith doesn't mean disregarding rational justification. There's a lot to debate regarding God. My point was specifically in regards to morally judging him. My claim is this:
1) Our moral intuition isn't built to handle perfect beings, which is evidenced by the fact that ethical hypotheticals that involve perfect information and the perfect ability to act often cause us to give very unintuitive answers (i.e. it's sometimes OK to kill babies even though we'd never actually endorse a real moral policy of infanticide).
2) If we try to leave our intuition aside to rationally judge cause and effect of God's actions, we'll get stuck because we don't know what would have happened if God had taken different actions. Key information is completely unknowable.
3) If we try to judge God by his character, we have to know what his character is. If you build up an personally profile of God that's not based on Biblical sources and then proceed to bash what a lousy guy he is, this doesn't present a challenge to people that believe in a God that's Bible-based.
If you find a flaw in my argument, please let me know. And by the way, this is exactly the type of situation where I'd expect to see a lot of people expressing faith-like beliefs. The answer is unknowable but critically important in how we make choices.
lati0s wrote:You seem to have missed my point. You point out free will and growth through hardship as reasons that suffering is not minimized but never did I say that I would expect god to create a world that minimized suffering at the cost of these things. I said I would expect a world without gratuitous suffering that is suffering that does not further the cause of good.
My point wasn't simply that pain helps build character, but also that we're biased to seek a lack of pain. This means that no matter how much suffering existed in the world, we would think it was too much. If the worst thing that ever happened to people was that they had to wait in long shopping lines around Christmas time, then that would be enough to fill them with moral outrage and a sense of cosmic injustice. It only sounds ridiculous now because we can compare that to real examples of children starving to death. It's a perception that's referenced to the worst thing we know to exist.
The fact is that we have no clue how much suffering is required. Maybe if we all lived on easy street (i.e. everyone has a fulfilling and holistic life), our culture would stagnate in a mind numbingly simple existence. Maybe it takes huge calamities to get people to organize into groups and to really accomplish the things that we now regard as defining humanity's greatness. Is it worth a world of pain and suffering to achieve this? I'm not troubled by the notion of a loving God thinking it is.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.