Religion: The Deuce

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nitePhyyre
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:02 am UTC

Thirty-one wrote:I do see the logic there. Until I look a bit closer at the situation.
Heaven is supposedly populated by nothing but believers, good or bad, plus God (a guy who doesn't strike me as all that likeable).
Hell is populated by non-believers, good or bad, plus the devil (?) (a guy who doesn't strike me as all that likeable, but at least doesn't pretend to be).

Apart from a slight change in temperature, I don't see the vast gain here.

Actually, the devil doesn't seem like all that bad of a guy. Unless I'm mistaken pretty much all the devil ever does is say "Stop worshiping that guy, he's no god, he's an asshole!" Which (a) makes you the most vile creature in a religious setting, and (b) in this case, is pretty sound advice.

mmmcannibalism wrote:
As for God doing whatever he wants with us, he created the universe and everything(42) from a single point(Big bang) and put all, or most life, on the planet. Considering that we are little specs of imperfection in his eyes, the fact that he hasn't outright destroyed us yet is what you could call... merciful. He created us as a means to an end, populating his kingdom. If we don't make the cut, then he sees no reason to keep us. Would you keep a magnet if it didn't do it's job? Would a computer be worth keeping if it used legacy technology? Get the point now?


So I can kill my children if they aren't the means to a wealthy retirement I desired from them?

I think children might be a little grandiose. He made the whole god damn universe, what are humans compared to that? Bacteria in a petri dish maybe?

guenther wrote:
Thirty-one wrote:Personally, for this story, predicting what would have happened if God didn't let Satan have Job as his plaything seems to be rather easy. He'd have been stuck with his original family until they all died from whatever. Basically what I imagine what later happened to family 2.0.

Well, for Job personally, he came away with a deeper relationship with God. He learned he should love God and submit to his will even in the face of seemingly unjust suffering. So that's a win for Job, at least according to the Christian perspective.

And more broadly, it seems reasonable to think that Job's family and friends would be impacted by his deeper relationship. Perhaps Job helped foster a greater faithfulness among his community. And even broader still, we wouldn't have the book of Job if the story didn't take place. It's impossible to know how many people throughout the ages were inspired by it to better follow God's plan.

God could have done all this to Job solely so that in the future, when people asked "If God is good, why do bad things happen?", believers could point to the story of Job and keep faith. If God exists, then he is supreme and his judgement should not be questioned. You would be a fool to not be a bible literalist.

duckshirt wrote:
Killing every first born Egyptian boy? Swell for them, I'm sure they'd done lots to deserve that.
That's probably harder to answer than Job, but I'll note that contrary what we're used to thinking now in the modern world of rights and prosperity, no one is entitled to anything, even existence. Non-Israelites before the Messiah were not part of God's chosen people, nor did they have any entitlement to be, nor did God ever promise they were, and assuming God is creator, simply being created was already more than they "deserve."

So anyone not part of the master race chosen people, don't deserve existence and genocide is thus a welcome solution to any problems they may or may not be creating? Wow... Just Wow. Tell me, do modern day Jews think the same about the rest of us worthless human cattle, considering they do not believe the messiah is come? Or are they just being bad Jews?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kurushimi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:53 pm UTC

Aldighieri wrote:As for God doing whatever he wants with us, he created the universe and everything(42) from a single point(Big bang) and put all, or most life, on the planet. Considering that we are little specs of imperfection in his eyes, the fact that he hasn't outright destroyed us yet is what you could call... merciful. He created us as a means to an end, populating his kingdom. If we don't make the cut, then he sees no reason to keep us. Would you keep a magnet if it didn't do it's job? Would a computer be worth keeping if it used legacy technology? Get the point now?


Well sure, all of that is true. But then he wouldn't be a loving god and it would be utterly ridiculous to worship him (unless it could sway him to keep us around, but then if he cares so little about us, we may just look like kiss-ups and he would ignore us). If he cared so little about us then it would be best that we go about our days and just hope he doesn't destroy the earth to make some interstellar highway.

If God behaving like that seems reasonable to you then you are not a Christian.

Aldighieri wrote:As for Christians trying to convert other people. Genuine Christians(Not the television ones or the fakes who make tons of money, try street corner preachers.) honestly believe in hell-fire. So converting other people would mean that person won't go to hell. See the logic there? Personally, I don't feel a need to condemn anyone who doesn't agree with me. In fact, most of the time I won't even bring it up. Trying to force someone to join you is wrong, and ineffective. If the person truly wants to join, then they will do so willingly. So what those Christians on street corners preaching of hell-fire are doing is noble, their methods on the other hand, somewhat less than pleasant. Trust me, I get somewhat annoyed by them sometimes as well. 'tis why I don't affiliate with churches. I should also point out that saying you're Christian doesn't make you Christian. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with that title that is somewhat ignored by a large portion of the followers.


I'd like to point out that, if hell was real, I wouldn't see a problem with trying to force someone into your beliefs, other than the fact that it might just not be very effective. Any amount of minor annoyance would be worth it if you avoided eternal suffering. The fact is, however, hell isn't real, so doing so just hurts and doesn't help.

Sorry, I don't really have a thesis, I was just rambling a bit about my beliefs. Carry on. ^_^

@nitePhyyre: According to the bible, the devil is all bad. He wants to see us suffer. And wants to take God's place.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kewangji » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:10 pm UTC

Kurushimi wrote:@nitePhyyre: According to the bible, the devil is all bad. He wants to see us suffer. And wants to take God's place.

Examples, please? The way I've heard it, in the bible Satan is just a 'tester'.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby BotoBoto » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Kurushimi wrote:@nitePhyyre: According to the bible, the devil is all bad. He wants to see us suffer. And wants to take God's place.

Examples, please? The way I've heard it, in the bible Satan is just a 'tester'.


That's why he says: according to the bible. He did not hear it, he probably read it.

And fairy tales are open to interpretation, of course.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kurushimi » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:32 pm UTC

"You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies.” (John 8:44)

“Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him.” (1 Peter 5: 8-9)

He tricks us with lies to see us suffer.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:07 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
duckshirt wrote:
Killing every first born Egyptian boy? Swell for them, I'm sure they'd done lots to deserve that.
That's probably harder to answer than Job, but I'll note that contrary what we're used to thinking now in the modern world of rights and prosperity, no one is entitled to anything, even existence. Non-Israelites before the Messiah were not part of God's chosen people, nor did they have any entitlement to be, nor did God ever promise they were, and assuming God is creator, simply being created was already more than they "deserve."

So anyone not part of the master race chosen people, don't deserve existence and genocide is thus a welcome solution to any problems they may or may not be creating? Wow... Just Wow. Tell me, do modern day Jews think the same about the rest of us worthless human cattle, considering they do not believe the messiah is come? Or are they just being bad Jews?

What do they deserve, and why? There is no single objective reason why every homo sapiens that ever lived had some inherent right to a happy life. You're only judging God based on your own standards, which you're not really in a position to do since God created everything, including morals, and only by his mercy would anyone exist in the first place.

I can't speak for Jews today, but any practical system of ethics they adhere to is for practical reasons; i.e. agree not to kill others so they won't kill you, protection of rights, etc. But I'm not sure they'd have a moral problem with going to war if they wanted.

icanus wrote:
duckshirt wrote:So Job isn't capable of figuring out what's right for himself? Your relationship abuse analogy isn't quite right because it compares a situation of a lot of abuse and a small token of redemption with relatively small abuse and far greater blessings.

Substitute a single punch in the face and buying the victim a carribean island. Its still abuse. Moreso because if you accept the premise of the story, there is no shelter Job can go to, since god has the power to keep coming after him however far he runs.

Well, that's because you keep using actions normally associated with sexual abuse, but the analogy is still missing the element of using someone for sex. You could apply the same logic to say parents should shelter their kids and never let them suffer any remote hardship...
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:49 am UTC

You're only judging God based on your own standards, which you're not really in a position to do since God created everything, including morals, and only by his mercy would anyone exist in the first place.


You mean the morals created by the guy who tortures people if they don't talk to him enough right?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:55 am UTC

You are assuming god has the same measure of morals we do. A single person on one of several planets in one of hundreds of billions of star system in one of hundreds of billions of galaxies is about as significant to a universe-creating mega-thing as a single atom would be to us. Sure, a few lucky (or unlucky) atoms might be observed in detail by curious scientists, but for the most part virtually all individual atoms are insignificant to us.

The idea that a super-being would be immoral for ignoring the troubles of what amounts to dust is a bit harsh.

And no, if you ever read the original bible, god does not punish people for not talking to him in the right manner; he/she/whatever just doesn't reward them.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby lati0s » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:08 am UTC

It may be perfectly justifiably for god to not care about people but if that is the case then it contradicts the oft held ideal that god is all loving and makes it questionable why someone would want to worship him.

The bible claims that god will send non-believers to hell, that is indeed punishment.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:32 am UTC

Can you show me in the original bible where it says that? Not the "new testament", mind you.

As for reasons to worship, assuming that god exists, the only real reason is to thank god for your existence. Not to pray for material wealth, or to wish harm upon your enemies, or anything anyone prays for these days. Or prayer for just about ever, really. If you want something actually done, better get off your knees and start working.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:07 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:You are assuming god has the same measure of morals we do. A single person on one of several planets in one of hundreds of billions of star system in one of hundreds of billions of galaxies is about as significant to a universe-creating mega-thing as a single atom would be to us.


Judging by the bible he seems rather focused on this planet.
And if we're made in his image, he would obviously know how we'd end up judging his crazy actions.
If he wanted us to perceive him as even moderately reasonable, he could have created us differently.

duckshirt wrote:
icanus wrote:
duckshirt wrote:So Job isn't capable of figuring out what's right for himself? Your relationship abuse analogy isn't quite right because it compares a situation of a lot of abuse and a small token of redemption with relatively small abuse and far greater blessings.

Substitute a single punch in the face and buying the victim a carribean island. Its still abuse. Moreso because if you accept the premise of the story, there is no shelter Job can go to, since god has the power to keep coming after him however far he runs.

Well, that's because you keep using actions normally associated with sexual abuse, but the analogy is still missing the element of using someone for sex. You could apply the same logic to say parents should shelter their kids and never let them suffer any remote hardship...


I don't think the sex bit is relevant to what he's trying to say. Exchange the relationship abuse to an abusive father or something. Someone who for the most part is an abusive asshole, but for shorter periods of time can provide some sort of comfort.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kurushimi » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:08 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:You are assuming god has the same measure of morals we do. A single person on one of several planets in one of hundreds of billions of star system in one of hundreds of billions of galaxies is about as significant to a universe-creating mega-thing as a single atom would be to us. Sure, a few lucky (or unlucky) atoms might be observed in detail by curious scientists, but for the most part virtually all individual atoms are insignificant to us.

The idea that a super-being would be immoral for ignoring the troubles of what amounts to dust is a bit harsh.

And no, if you ever read the original bible, god does not punish people for not talking to him in the right manner; he/she/whatever just doesn't reward them.


"I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation;"
Mark, chapter 3, verse 20 something.

"Blaspheming", or calling the lord a jerk, is apparently a very serious offense. You'd think the creator of the universe wouldn't be so touchy.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:23 pm UTC

Thirty-one wrote:Keep in mind that these are still answers to the question "why wouldn't one want to believe in God?", posed earlier in the thread.
I can see that if you already do, you might cut him some more slack. When you don't tough, there's no reason why you'd scrutinize
him less than you would a human being, especially given that he supposedly has every chance to impose his will, if he wants to. Humans don't.

As I said before, it's poorly defined how we could morally assess God. Maybe he disgusts you or fills you with an urge to punch him, but our moral gut was built to react to fallible humans, not perfect deities. Can we then rationally judge his deeds? I'd say no since we lack his perfect information. What about his character? Well, if we accept for the sake of argument the Bible's tale about Job, why wouldn't we also accept the Bible's account of God's perfect character (i.e. loving, honest, dependable, faithful, just, merciful, etc.)? If we build a hypothetical God out of only pieces of the Bible, then we can really come to any conclusion we want. But that isn't very helpful.

And let me point out that I'm not actually arguing that you should want to believe in God. If you don't want to, that's your prerogative. I'm simply responding to the claim that we can judge God by human standards.

lati0s wrote:It may be perfectly justifiably for god to not care about people but if that is the case then it contradicts the oft held ideal that god is all loving.

I agree. The Bible talks about about a God that wants to know us intimately, not one who can't be bothered by such tiny creatures. But just because God has perfect love for us, doesn't mean that we are entitled to X number of years on this earth, or really any sort of freedom from suffering.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Thirty-one wrote:Keep in mind that these are still answers to the question "why wouldn't one want to believe in God?", posed earlier in the thread.
I can see that if you already do, you might cut him some more slack. When you don't tough, there's no reason why you'd scrutinize
him less than you would a human being, especially given that he supposedly has every chance to impose his will, if he wants to. Humans don't.

As I said before, it's poorly defined how we could morally assess God. Maybe he disgusts you or fills you with an urge to punch him, but our moral gut was built to react to fallible humans, not perfect deities. Can we then rationally judge his deeds? I'd say no since we lack his perfect information. What about his character? Well, if we accept for the sake of argument the Bible's tale about Job, why wouldn't we also accept the Bible's account of God's perfect character (i.e. loving, honest, dependable, faithful, just, merciful, etc.)? If we build a hypothetical God out of only pieces of the Bible, then we can really come to any conclusion we want. But that isn't very helpful.

And let me point out that I'm not actually arguing that you should want to believe in God. If you don't want to, that's your prerogative. I'm simply responding to the claim that we can judge God by human standards.


For a non-believer, what other standards than human would you use to judge his actions?
If as a non-believer you're to decide whether or not you want to believe it seems to me that you take a look at the (claimed) actions of the guy,
then judge it by your own standard, not swallow the book's every claim.

And the claim is that God, through divine inspiration, wrote the thing himself.
If he can't present himself in a manner that doesn't make him look awful to his audience (by their standards, it's the only standards his audience has, surely), then his struggling self image gets no pity from me.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:19 pm UTC

Kurushimi wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:And no, if you ever read the original bible, god does not punish people for not talking to him in the right manner; he/she/whatever just doesn't reward them.


"I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation;"
Mark, chapter 3, verse 20 something.

"Blaspheming", or calling the lord a jerk, is apparently a very serious offense. You'd think the creator of the universe wouldn't be so touchy.


Mark isn't part of the original bible. Neither is Jesus et al.

As for blaspheme, that is an action. Saying nothing is inaction. God doesn't punish for inaction (according to the original bible), only withholds reward.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Oregonaut » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

But still, calling YHWH a jerk, since the "Holy Spirit" referenced would include Patri, et Filli, et Spiritus Sancti, would earn you condemnation, as would calling Jesus a jerk, because the one is three and the three is one.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Kurushimi » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:56 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Kurushimi wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:And no, if you ever read the original bible, god does not punish people for not talking to him in the right manner; he/she/whatever just doesn't reward them.


"I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation;"
Mark, chapter 3, verse 20 something.

"Blaspheming", or calling the lord a jerk, is apparently a very serious offense. You'd think the creator of the universe wouldn't be so touchy.


Mark isn't part of the original bible. Neither is Jesus et al.

As for blaspheme, that is an action. Saying nothing is inaction. God doesn't punish for inaction (according to the original bible), only withholds reward.


Oh, I thought by "not talking to him in the right manner", you meant actually speaking to him incorrect. The action of talking improperly. But God also punishes for disobedience, that is, NOT doing what he says. He even hurts people from being AROUND people who sinnned.

Also, if by "orignal Bible", you mean "Old Testemant", then say that. The New Testament is just as original. Its just a continuation.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

Thirty-one wrote:For a non-believer, what other standards than human would you use to judge his actions?
You can't, that's the point. It's sort of like asking what scale are you supposed to use to measure the IPK in France...
If as a non-believer you're to decide whether or not you want to believe it seems to me that you take a look at the (claimed) actions of the guy,
then judge it by your own standard, not swallow the book's every claim.
Where are you supposed to get these moral standards, then? Why do you believe it's wrong to kill? Do "harm" and "pain" mean anything "bad" from an absolute, nontheistic standpoint? Even if you come up with them yourself, they were no doubt influenced by something you read, heard, and saw. If you were to judge every piece of information by your own standard for your whole life, you would never actually be able to obtain any standard, unless you made something completely random and arbitrary.
And the claim is that God, through divine inspiration, wrote the thing himself.
If he can't present himself in a manner that doesn't make him look awful to his audience (by their standards, it's the only standards his audience has, surely), then his struggling self image gets no pity from me.
But not everyone has the same standards as you - they aren't absolute, and every culture and individuals' standards are different. Therefore, it is impossible to please everyone's guidelines for what they think should be and not impose any absolute guidelines.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:51 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:You can't, that's the point. It's sort of like asking what scale are you supposed to use to measure the IPK in France...


So you're saying God's morals is an arbitrary set of morals that everyone just agreed upon for ease then?

Where are you supposed to get these moral standards, then? Why do you believe it's wrong to kill? Do "harm" and "pain" mean anything "bad" from an absolute, nontheistic standpoint? Even if you come up with them yourself, they were no doubt influenced by something you read, heard, and saw. If you were to judge every piece of information by your own standard for your whole life, you would never actually be able to obtain any standard, unless you made something completely random and arbitrary.


I don't see how any of that makes any sense.
My morals have been formed through interaction with my peers. Through discussion and reflection on different situations.
Situations I have been in myself, situations I've seen others in, ones found in books.
Did you lift yours wholesale from the Bible? Do you apply all of them?
Are you seriously saying that if you hadn't seen it on paper, you'd be unable to come up with the golden rule on your own?
Where's the emoticon for baffled?


But not everyone has the same standards as you - they aren't absolute, and every culture and individuals' standards are different. Therefore, it is impossible to please everyone's guidelines for what they think should be and not impose any absolute guidelines.


So in conclusion, if God was interested in me believing in him, he'd have hard-coded into me his twisted morals upon birth?
Is he still going to be pissy about my lack of belief when I die then?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:59 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:
Thirty-one wrote:For a non-believer, what other standards than human would you use to judge his actions?
You can't, that's the point. It's sort of like asking what scale are you supposed to use to measure the IPK in France...
So instead of dealing with real pain and suffering in the world and causes for it and acting in a way to lessen those things, I should behave in a accordance with a law set forth by a entity that we can't be sure exists, despite that it can and frequently does cause real pain and suffering to complete these laws set forth by the entity I must have faith in.

No thanks, I'd rather treat people, who I know are real, well rather then adhere to a moral code that results in more suffering, pain and magical thinking.

Where are you supposed to get these moral standards, then? Why do you believe it's wrong to kill? Do "harm" and "pain" mean anything "bad" from an absolute, nontheistic standpoint? Even if you come up with them yourself, they were no doubt influenced by something you read, heard, and saw. If you were to judge every piece of information by your own standard for your whole life, you would never actually be able to obtain any standard, unless you made something completely random and arbitrary.
From reality. From psychology, sociology, history, political science, economics and game theory (the humanities) we can understand the suffering of people. Looking at real science and functionality of the world and its inhabitants guides my morals. The result is something quite far from being random and arbitrary, and in fact I can give real answers to questions rather than throwing up 'because God says so' and people and discuss or even debate me on my stances, something that they can't really do with morals created by religion as it inevitably ends up with you having to defend your stance with saying something akin to 'just have faith in God.' This also allows my perception of morality and what is ethical to grow and adapt based on new information, knowledge or technology.

I haven't read the book but I assume that Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape probably makes many of my arguments much more eloquent than I'm able.

But not everyone has the same standards as you - they aren't absolute, and every culture and individuals' standards are different. Therefore, it is impossible to please everyone's guidelines for what they think should be and not impose any absolute guidelines.
Unless your judging what's moral by real human suffering and progression rather then by various systems of faith that have no validity on reality. Besides the magical thinking aspects all of the differences in ethical framework come down to a game of semantics and various levels of understanding those concepts; that is to say they are remarkably similar in how we should treat each other and the world around us.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Aldighieri » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:19 pm UTC

Added my comments in bold:

Kurushimi wrote:
Aldighieri wrote:As for God doing whatever he wants with us, he created the universe and everything(42) from a single point(Big bang) and put all, or most life, on the planet. Considering that we are little specs of imperfection in his eyes, the fact that he hasn't outright destroyed us yet is what you could call... merciful. He created us as a means to an end, populating his kingdom. If we don't make the cut, then he sees no reason to keep us. Would you keep a magnet if it didn't do it's job? Would a computer be worth keeping if it used legacy technology? Get the point now?


Well sure, all of that is true. But then he wouldn't be a loving god and it would be utterly ridiculous to worship him (unless it could sway him to keep us around, but then if he cares so little about us, we may just look like kiss-ups and he would ignore us). If he cared so little about us then it would be best that we go about our days and just hope he doesn't destroy the earth to make some interstellar highway.

If God behaving like that seems reasonable to you then you are not a Christian.

The point is that we were here to be tested. Tempered like steel(I think that is a quote, but I don't remember where), if you will. The only reason we are still alive is because he has some level of compassion for us. Keep in mind that this isn't me speaking(Take care in quoting that... I'm not schizophrenic ) I am just trying to imagine the perspective of an infinitely powerful being that is practically a force of nature.

Aldighieri wrote:As for Christians trying to convert other people. Genuine Christians(Not the television ones or the fakes who make tons of money, try street corner preachers.) honestly believe in hell-fire. So converting other people would mean that person won't go to hell. See the logic there? Personally, I don't feel a need to condemn anyone who doesn't agree with me. In fact, most of the time I won't even bring it up. Trying to force someone to join you is wrong, and ineffective. If the person truly wants to join, then they will do so willingly. So what those Christians on street corners preaching of hell-fire are doing is noble, their methods on the other hand, somewhat less than pleasant. Trust me, I get somewhat annoyed by them sometimes as well. 'tis why I don't affiliate with churches. I should also point out that saying you're Christian doesn't make you Christian. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with that title that is somewhat ignored by a large portion of the followers.


I'd like to point out that, if hell was real, I wouldn't see a problem with trying to force someone into your beliefs, other than the fact that it might just not be very effective. Any amount of minor annoyance would be worth it if you avoided eternal suffering. The fact is, however, hell isn't real, so doing so just hurts and doesn't help.

Like we both pointed out, doing so would be fruitless and would only serve to fortify the idea that Christians are all violent and annoying fanatics. Because you don't believe hell is real, the threat doesn't exist in your mind. Also there is the whole "love your neighbor" thing that comes to mind. Judgement isn't ours to make, it is best left in His hands.(Because human judgment is rarely unbiased.) I don't have a list of who is going to hell or not, and I don't try to keep track. Nothing is set in stone until you die, so plenty of time to change if you wish to. Shoving my beliefs down your throat(rather than calmly explaining them) will make it that much less likely that you will reconsider. Basically, it comes down to <Chance of converting> increases as <appeal/good feeling of religion x> increases. Even if the chances of such are low, and completely dependent on the choice of the individual. In older ages, fear of hell-fire was enough. But with minds becoming more independent, fear-mongering is ineffective and, IMO, annoying, pointless, stupid, and obsolete method of getting ANYONE to agree with you. Plus I personally find debating(over any topic) to be a satisfying past-time

Sorry, I don't really have a thesis, I was just rambling a bit about my beliefs. Carry on. ^_^
Very well.

@nitePhyyre: According to the bible, the devil is all bad. He wants to see us suffer. And wants to take God's place.

An addendum, this is comparable to Hitler being the world ruler, with everyone being Jewish.


Zcorp wrote:From reality. From psychology, sociology, history, political science, economics and game theory (the humanities) we can understand the suffering of people. Looking at real science and functionality of the world and its inhabitants guides my morals. The result is something quite far from being random and arbitrary, and in fact I can give real answers to questions rather than throwing up 'because God says so' and people and discuss or even debate me on my stances, something that they can't really do with morals created by religion as it inevitably ends up with you having to defend your stance with saying something akin to 'just have faith in God.' This also allows my perception of morality and what is ethical to grow and adapt based on new information, knowledge or technology.


Not all Christians have blind faith. I have reasons for believing what I believe. I have gone through several difficult debates with myself, and have resolved most of my issues. Though I keep learning, I am of the opinion that I am a better person than I was because of these resolutions.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby lati0s » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:48 am UTC

guenther wrote:
lati0s wrote:It may be perfectly justifiably for god to not care about people but if that is the case then it contradicts the oft held ideal that god is all loving.

I agree. The Bible talks about about a God that wants to know us intimately, not one who can't be bothered by such tiny creatures. But just because God has perfect love for us, doesn't mean that we are entitled to X number of years on this earth, or really any sort of freedom from suffering.

Perhaps not an entitlement per say but if god was loving he would not want people to suffer and since god is capable of anything he would be able to create a world where not only does every bit of suffering accomplish good but every bit of suffering accomplishes good that could not have been accomplished without that suffering. Since a loving god would not want to see people suffer we would expect that he would do this. This does not agree with my observations of the world and thus I reject the concept that an all loving god exists.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:18 am UTC

guenther wrote:As I said before, it's poorly defined how we could morally assess God. Maybe he disgusts you or fills you with an urge to punch him, but our moral gut was built to react to fallible humans, not perfect deities. Can we then rationally judge his deeds? I'd say no since we lack his perfect information. What about his character? Well, if we accept for the sake of argument the Bible's tale about Job, why wouldn't we also accept the Bible's account of God's perfect character (i.e. loving, honest, dependable, faithful, just, merciful, etc.)? If we build a hypothetical God out of only pieces of the Bible, then we can really come to any conclusion we want. But that isn't very helpful.
It's not like all folks will accept the entire Bible as completely true all at once. And if belief is advanced only provisionally and partially, a line of thought like "Don't worry about contradictions between God's reputed character and his actions" is going to get tossed aside early.

One morally assesses God normally according to basic logic and the morals one possesses. God does something apparently evil? Permits a lot of evil? Supposedly all-loving? Demand an explanation.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:07 am UTC

Thirty-one wrote:For a non-believer, what other standards than human would you use to judge his actions?
If as a non-believer you're to decide whether or not you want to believe it seems to me that you take a look at the (claimed) actions of the guy,
then judge it by your own standard, not swallow the book's every claim.

If you really want to assess the Christian God, then I'd suggest becoming more familiar with the guy that Christians actually believe in. But if you simply want to defend your personal dislike of the Bible story, I don't think you need to build up a moral case at all. We all are entitled to our own subjective take on it. For me the story is very compelling and it's an emotional thing. Of course, you can still morally judge God's actions by any standard you want; I simply claim that such a judgment isn't worth very much.

Thirty-one wrote:And the claim is that God, through divine inspiration, wrote the thing himself.
If he can't present himself in a manner that doesn't make him look awful to his audience (by their standards, it's the only standards his audience has, surely), then his struggling self image gets no pity from me.

Considering how many in his audience don't think he looks awful, I'm not sure he has an image problem. But regardless, the Bible doesn't make any claim that everyone in the world will openly embrace God and his word. In fact, it's quite clear that Christians will struggle with people that don't like their message.

lati0s wrote:Perhaps not an entitlement per say but if god was loving he would not want people to suffer and since god is capable of anything he would be able to create a world where not only does every bit of suffering accomplish good but every bit of suffering accomplishes good that could not have been accomplished without that suffering. Since a loving god would not want to see people suffer we would expect that he would do this. This does not agree with my observations of the world and thus I reject the concept that an all loving god exists.

God could have designed a world with minimal suffering, but maybe this is in conflict with a world where humans have free will. Deep spiritual growth is often linked with times of great hardship. I don't think we have any reason to believe that a loving God would optimize the world based on our perspective on how minimal suffering should be. We have a bias to avoid pain, so no matter the level we would always think it's too much. I don't see any conflict with a God that wants to help us minimize pain and with a God that designed a world where great pain exists.

Greyarcher wrote:It's not like all folks will accept the entire Bible as completely true all at once. And if belief is advanced only provisionally and partially, a line of thought like "Don't worry about contradictions between God's reputed character and his actions" is going to get tossed aside early.

One morally assesses God normally according to basic logic and the morals one possesses. God does something apparently evil? Permits a lot of evil? Supposedly all-loving? Demand an explanation.

Demand away. Shake your fist at the sky if you want. But you still won't get the information you need to rationally evaluate God's choices. Sometimes when the data's not there, we simply need to say "I don't know". Or you can take other people's approach and fill in the gap with faith. But if you fill the gap with stuff that sounds right in your head (rather than what's in the Bible) and then go on to refute that incarnation of God, then that's not really much of a challenge against the God that Christian's believe in.

And I never said that we shouldn't worry about contradictions. Rather, a faith in God's character can help resolve those issues so that they're not contradictory.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:09 am UTC

guenther wrote:If you really want to assess the Christian God, then I'd suggest becoming more familiar with the guy that Christians actually believe in. But if you simply want to defend your personal dislike of the Bible story, I don't think you need to build up a moral case at all. We all are entitled to our own subjective take on it. For me the story is very compelling and it's an emotional thing. Of course, you can still morally judge God's actions by any standard you want; I simply claim that such a judgment isn't worth very much.


The problem with becoming familiar with the guy Christians actually believe in is that a lot of them don't seem to have read the Bible much themselves.
In my view, actually reading what the book has to say, then judging that, beats going by hearsay.

I'm also aware that I'm free to dislike it for whatever reason or no reason at all. Simply answering a question posted earlier in the thread.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:07 am UTC

guenther wrote:Demand away. Shake your fist at the sky if you want. But you still won't get the information you need to rationally evaluate God's choices. Sometimes when the data's not there, we simply need to say "I don't know". Or you can take other people's approach and fill in the gap with faith.
You miss the point; granted, I did not express myself thoroughly nor precisely for brevity's sake. "Demand an explanation" was casual speak, and something of an exhortation amounting to "doubt and re-examine your beliefs; require reasonable belief". I was, one could say, clumsily representing the theme of the doubter.

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. And the "have faith" response, in that theme, misses the point and is a tad farcical.

But at any rate, my post was mainly answering your query as to how one could morally assess God. The answer was: "as one who advances belief provisionally" (e.g. as a non-believer, as a doubter, as a critical thinker, as a questioning child). Provisionally as in: one has not yet accepted the Bible as absolute truth, and thus one is applying one's usual intellectual and moral standards.

guenther wrote:And I never said that we shouldn't worry about contradictions. Rather, a faith in God's character can help resolve those issues so that they're not contradictory.
Faith does not resolve a contradiction; it handwaves it away. Or, more precisely, it tries to quell doubt with trust that somehow one's beliefs are true and that there's a resolution that one doesn't have access to.

I see no reason that one should ever have faith, as it seems rather anti-thetical to reasonable intellectual standards. If there is a contradiction that one cannot resolve, one probably ought to do something like mentally file it away as an unresolved black mark against whatever view that contradiction exists in. 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. Painfully close to uncritical self-righteousness.


Admittedly, I could possibly understand a small instance of faith if there was a whole host of clear evidence and reasons in favor of some view with counterpoints soundly, clearly, and thoroughly defeated. But religious views are nowhere near so uncontroversial.

--actually, no, I still couldn't really see why faith would be sensible even then. If there were a problematic contradiction with a position, one would simply acknowledge it as an unresolved problem, not apply such a phrase as "have faith" with all its problematic baggage.


At any rate, I do apologize for any vehemence of tone. I, mysteriously, tend to be unusually passionate when I enter religious discussions.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:19 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:But at any rate, my post was mainly answering your query as to how one could morally assess God. The answer was: "as one who advances belief provisionally" (e.g. as a non-believer, as a doubter, as a critical thinker, as a questioning child). Provisionally as in: one has not yet accepted the Bible as absolute truth, and thus one is applying one's usual intellectual and moral standards.


Thank you for expressing what I was seemingly unable to.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:So instead of dealing with real pain and suffering in the world and causes for it and acting in a way to lessen those things, I should behave in a accordance with a law set forth by a entity that we can't be sure exists, despite that it can and frequently does cause real pain and suffering to complete these laws set forth by the entity I must have faith in.

No thanks, I'd rather treat people, who I know are real, well rather then adhere to a moral code that results in more suffering, pain and magical thinking.
And still, I don't see any objective reason to think your way is 'better.' Also, if you accept the premise that God and his kingdom are real, which we have for the sake of this argument, then your way wouldn't actually result in less suffering, pain, or magical thinking...

Greyarcher wrote:I see no reason that one should ever have faith, as it seems rather anti-thetical to reasonable intellectual standards. If there is a contradiction that one cannot resolve, one probably ought to do something like mentally file it away as an unresolved black mark against whatever view that contradiction exists in. 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. Painfully close to uncritical self-righteousness.
Do you know what faith means? Every time you step outside of your house, you have faith that someone isn't waiting outside your door ready to shoot you... When you spend thousands of dollars going to a college, you're also doing so with the faith that it's the best choice. None of this is blind faith, nor is a belief in God, but it's a confidence in what one believes in, enough so to act on those beliefs, even if there is some inherent risk.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

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?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:51 pm UTC

Thirty-one wrote:Thank you for expressing what I was seemingly unable to.
Glad to be of service. :)

duckshirt wrote:
Greyarcher wrote:I see no reason that one should ever have faith, as it seems rather anti-thetical to reasonable intellectual standards. If there is a contradiction that one cannot resolve, one probably ought to do something like mentally file it away as an unresolved black mark against whatever view that contradiction exists in. 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. Painfully close to uncritical self-righteousness.
Do you know what faith means? Every time you step outside of your house, you have faith that someone isn't waiting outside your door ready to shoot you... When you spend thousands of dollars going to a college, you're also doing so with the faith that it's the best choice. None of this is blind faith, nor is a belief in God, but it's a confidence in what one believes in, enough so to act on those beliefs, even if there is some inherent risk.
Hmm, from your description it doesn't seem that I misunderstand the theistic usage of "faith". Also, I disagree with your analogies. First I shall clarify myself on faith and doubt, then I shall explain my problems with the analogies and how you give faith a role in them.

Then, on faith/doubt. I did say I was operating from the theme of the doubter, yes? In that theme I was encouraging such things as "question one's beliefs", "seek reasonable beliefs" and suchlike. Thus, if a problem in one's beliefs arises--like an apparent contradiction--saying "have faith" as in "have confidence in what you believe in" in contradistinction to "question one's beliefs" and "seek reasonable beliefs" misses the point. I am not denying that a theist may have other reasons to believe. I am, rather, encouraging the hypothetical person to be critical and thoughtful when they are faced with an apparent problem (i.e. contradiction) rather than merely trusting that their beliefs--and its bases--are sound and putting the problem out of their mind (i.e. have confidence in their beliefs).

You see, if one holds "reasonable belief" as valuable and a goal, the doubter's exhortation seems simply natural for either a theist or a non-believer. Be doubtful, because giving credence to the possibility of error and acknowledging problems keeps you from being self-righteously blind to possible mistakes. If one faces a problem such as "God is supposedly all-loving; yet apparently her permits evil", naturally take the time and scrutinize one's beliefs.
These are points why I mention that, "have faith" or "have confidence in your beliefs" is contrastingly unthinking trust. It is a remark that, in contrast, encourages precisely that.

On to the analogies.

The first analogy requires no faith. It's merely practical decision making. If there is no information to suggest a gunman--or other danger--then one can assign a negligible probability to that event and practically ignore it for purposes of deciding conduct. To give credence to imaginary dangers of unknown probability (like armed killers behind every corner) would impair functionality for no clear gain, so most people just automatically don't do it.

The second analogy requires no faith. It's simply an investment based on expected returns. It needs no more faith than, say, rolling a pair of dice that you suspect are weighted to land on 6s. An informed gamble.

At any rate, I propose that the arguments from analogy of this type don't work. The reason is this: scenarios of uncertainty such as you present can be viewed and understood using a variety of concepts; you simply see faith's presence in scenarios of uncertainty because religion made that concept a part of your mindset. As I have demonstrated, if "faith" is not a prominent part of our mindset then we simply don't use employ the concept, and instead understand the scenarios differently.

Thus, to try and give credence to faith via this analogical train of thought, you would need to argue that understanding these scenarios needs to involve using a "faith" concept that is relevantly similar to the faith employed in "have faith" remarks. And I am relatively certain that's futile.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby lati0s » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:15 am UTC

guenther wrote:
lati0s wrote:Perhaps not an entitlement per say but if god was loving he would not want people to suffer and since god is capable of anything he would be able to create a world where not only does every bit of suffering accomplish good but every bit of suffering accomplishes good that could not have been accomplished without that suffering. Since a loving god would not want to see people suffer we would expect that he would do this. This does not agree with my observations of the world and thus I reject the concept that an all loving god exists.

God could have designed a world with minimal suffering, but maybe this is in conflict with a world where humans have free will. Deep spiritual growth is often linked with times of great hardship. I don't think we have any reason to believe that a loving God would optimize the world based on our perspective on how minimal suffering should be. We have a bias to avoid pain, so no matter the level we would always think it's too much. I don't see any conflict with a God that wants to help us minimize pain and with a God that designed a world where great pain exists.

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.

Perhaps if everyone in this world lived a fulfilling and holistically happy life I could accept that there is no gratuitous suffering but this is not what I observe. thousands of children starve to death every day their lives are filled with pain and hopelessness and they die before this can ever be made right.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby thorgold » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:37 am UTC

In order to avoid the seemingly endless mire of doctrinal debate regarding Christianity (why is it the most hotly debated, anyway?), I'll simply delve into the existance of a God for now.

The problem I find with many modern thinkers is that the idea of an overarching power, like God, is written off as fantasy. Yes, religion has been used throughout history to explain the momentarily unexplainable, but there are basic flaws in reality that necessitate the serious study of a higher, benign being. The existance of a God is undeniable, and the proofs of which can be thus summarized:

1. Going back far enough, the universe is paradoxical: In order for the universe to exist, the laws which define it are broken. At some point, all matter and energy had to come into existance - physical entities cannot be eternal. But matter can't just come into existance - no matter what your theory on the origin of our current universe (Big Bang, whatever), going back far enough there is the undeniable truth that the universe, at some point, started existing.

2. The universe shows a pattern of order, where observation has shown disorder and chaos to be the tendency of matter and energy to enter. The second law of thermodynamics applies to matter and energy - things do not become more orderly without outside interference. A box of legos won't become a scale model of the Taj Majal unless you assemble them. Likewise, the Universe, which consists of orderly bodies and orderly laws, can not be the result of random chance.

3. Humans have morals, all humans have, on some level, a conscience. Our consciences have conviction - unless we make concerted, focused effort, we want to follow the commands of our moral compasses. The thing is, morals must come from God because they can come from nowhere else, given the power our morals have over our decisions. If morals are natural products of evolution or nature, how come we cannot simply say "I'm not an animal, I'll do as I want." If morals are a product of our own minds, how come we can't change our minds? If morals are a product of society, how can we not rebel? The only explanation for the irrefutability of the human conscience is that it comes from a higher power.

4. Listen to Beethoven. Tell me there is no God.

I will add more later, but sleep deprivation is making my eyes go crazy right now, to the point where I can no longer type.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:23 am UTC

thorgold wrote:In order to avoid the seemingly endless mire of doctrinal debate regarding Christianity (why is it the most hotly debated, anyway?)


I would guess because it's by far the most common in the societies most the forum users here live in. You rarely run into run into people who proclaim to believe in a thoroughly non-specific god. Well, I rarely do anyway, you might.

I don't see how 1 works to your favour. If the matter can't have existed since the beginning of time, why is god given a free pass?

As far as I've understood it, the 2nd law says that on the whole the universe will tend towards less order, not that higher order
cannot occur in pockets.

None of 3 computes at all for me. First off, not all people arrive at the same morals. Second people do rebel against them, I doubt you'll find
many who manage, throughout their lives, to act completely moral all the time.

As for 4, listen to Justin Bieber and tell me there is a god? :)
(I kid, I kid, I have only heard one song of his, once, and it didn't bother me much more than most other pop music.)
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jimmigee » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:00 am UTC

In response to thorgold:

1) How did the god come into existance? I don't know why the answer to that can't apply to the universe too. Please give me the answer and we'll see.

2) The second law of thermodynamics is with respect to the tendancy of an entire system, stating that entropy of that system will tend not to decrease. Unless you've measured a tendancy in the entire universe for entropy to decrease then this point is invalid.

3) Morals: Some people do indeed do as they want, this is why there is a legal system. We can change our minds, this is called having intelligence. People do rebel against society- I don't even know where to begin on this one- Did you know people once kept slaves?!

4) I have listened to Beethoven and I can tell you there was a Beethoven. The general opinion was that he was quite good at what he did.

More of these are welcome, but please look at the responses and consider them. A claim that "the existance of a God is undeniable" is so strong that I'd like to hope you'll take time to check that it follows from what you say, rather than dodging the questions and issues that arrise.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:00 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:And still, I don't see any objective reason to think your way is 'better.' Also, if you accept the premise that God and his kingdom are real, which we have for the sake of this argument, then your way wouldn't actually result in less suffering, pain, or magical thinking...
Um, I certainly didn't accept the premise that God and his Kingdom are real, in fact thats half the argument. Because we can not reasonably accept that God and his Kingdom are real, we can instead look to factors we know to be real to determine our morals. And groups of people that accept God and his Kingdom to be real have consistently throughout history ignored things we know which to be real for there faith in something that we can not reasonably accept to be real. They are choosing to augment their perceptions and in doing so hurt real society and other people to perpetuate their own faith.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:40 pm UTC

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.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:07 pm UTC

To go with your rape analogy, here's what it looks like to someone looking at the Bible from outside (well, me):

Tom tells you he's raped Sally (or killed some Egyptian children), in a tone that implies he thinks he was right to, no less,
then tells you he's otherwise a nice guy. You avoid Tom like the plague, because he's obviously a loon.

If you knew God to be a nice guy before reading the Bible, then that's closer to your original analogy IMO, but for me that's not the case.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:51 pm UTC

This is only true if the person didn't actually think. Faith isn't about wrapping up answers neatly so we can bypass thought.

In the case of religion and other beliefs that require you to believe without knowing, this is overwhelmingly the case. That people cannot live without this uncertainty is a symptom of that, and that people do not try to understand what is going "under the hood" of religion is another.

Anyway, that is certainly a well-written post (but not thoughtful, it justifies intellectual laziness for specific cases), but I could use a few examples. What do Christians think of the Egyptian Babies incident? Job's?

Also, if you could have video evidence as well as acquaintance confirmation for your friend, would you be more or less faithful?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:25 pm UTC

Thirty-one wrote:If you knew God to be a nice guy before reading the Bible, then that's closer to your original analogy IMO, but for me that's not the case.

That makes sense. First impressions matter. :)

infernovia wrote:In the case of religion and other beliefs that require you to believe without knowing, this is overwhelmingly the case. That people cannot live without this uncertainty is a symptom of that, and that people do not try to understand what is going "under the hood" of religion is another.

I'm not convinced that this is a problem that affects religious people any more than anyone else. Thinking critically is a challenge and people struggle with opening their mind beyond their own perspective. Look at politics. You give people a world of information to challenge their beliefs, but instead they just surround themselves with ideas that support their own preconceptions. So this is a symptom of our brain, not religion. And in religious settings (e.g. in church, Bible studies), I see people actively trying to challenge it and motivate people to really dig deep and give thought to the more challenging areas of the Bible.

infernovia wrote:What do Christians think of the Egyptian Babies incident? Job's?

Also, if you could have video evidence as well as acquaintance confirmation for your friend, would you be more or less faithful?

For the first question, I'll give a broad answer. A common explanation I've seen is that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament. Not because God changed, but we did. In our spiritual infancy, we needed a stronger divine hand guiding us. But as the people of God spiritually matured, we were show how to live by faith instead of laws. So is it OK that God smote people back in the day? It seems harsh, but if it's part of a maturing process that brings about a better future, then I would say it's acceptable.

For the second question, is that referencing the Tom and Sally analogy? If so, then more evidence would certainly impact my faith. Faith isn't about ignoring evidence. Rather it's about certainty in the face of unknowable information (and in particular where that certainly provides some utility on behavior). And this effect will be vary from person to person. Someone else will need a different amount of extra information before their faith crumbles. And the same is true with a faith in God. I believe goodness is defined by God, but if he came down tomorrow and said raping women is good, then that would certainly be a challenge for me.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Thirty-one » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:31 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Thirty-one wrote:If you knew God to be a nice guy before reading the Bible, then that's closer to your original analogy IMO, but for me that's not the case.

That makes sense. First impressions matter. :)


That has me wondering where you first met the guy though, if not through the Bible?
If you had a vision of some kind, what was the tell for you that it was in fact the god of the Bible and not some Norse god or something?

And can you see why people whose first contact with God is the Bible would be less than impressed with his morals?
Do you find it strange that he kills people based on deals he made with their ancestors?
Would you be held to a deal your grandfather struck on your behalf?
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