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HolyGround >> Reconciling the OT and NT Biblical God's character

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3/9/11 1:34 AM
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prof
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Thank you Grakman.

Grakman -  prof,
If Rush Limbaugh made such a claim right now, I'd agree with you. He is probably insane.


Great.

So notice what you are doing, then.

You think it's rational, justified, to use your own powers of judgement and inference in assessing the claim that Rush Limgaugh is an All Knowing, All Powerful, All Good God.

If someone says "But IF Rush Limbaugh IS God, then you'd have to be omniscient and omnipotent in order to justify your judgements about this claim."

You are not going to buy that reasoning. It simply isn't, in fact, a good reason to refrain from judging Rush Limbaugh's claim.

And yet you seemed to want to deny people that ability only when it comes to YOUR (or, the Bible's) claim about a God.
When an atheist (or any human) starts criticising the God of the bible and inferring that God isn't All Knowing or All Good, THEN suddenly you raise the "But IF that Christian God is true who are we to judge?" objection. As if that really ought to shut down our ability to judge the claims of the Bible.

See how hypocritical it is to do so? If you agree that the exact same objection should not stop us from being able to judge the claims of a Rush Limbough, then for precisely the same reasons we can judge the claims of an ancient desert tribe, that they've written about a real God.

Do you see my point now?



Grakman -

But what happens if we say he is crazy and then he heals a person crippled from birth? Or he actually makes <i><b>live</b></i> <i>again </i>a person we know for a fact is medically dead? What if he himself were killed in a car accident or overdose of Oxycotin and then he lived again, and many people witnessed this and talked to him. What if he then claimed that God sent him and all of his messages were divinely inspired? Would it give you pause at all, or would you a priori assume that anyone who said such a thing was mistaken and they were all committing fraud, even if you knew the doctors who had pronounced him dead and saw him dead on the table with your own eyes? <br type="_moz" />


That's great. It's what I'm talking about. Here you are implying we are quite entitled to look at the evidence and make rational inferences. We don't have to stop ourselves saying "Darn it we aren't omniscient! We can't come to any conclusions here."

If we "knew for a fact" (had extremely good evidence) that Rush had died, and then ressurected, you bet I'd pause. It would be extraordinary and need some explanation. We shouldn't immediately rule out a naturalistic explanation because we can hardly say we know everything about the possibilities of the natural world at this point. But if Rush continued to exhibit powers, or knowledge that could only be best explained as coming from the Christian God, then yes I'd certainly think we'd have to seriously consider the conclusion that God exists.

I don't think the Christian God exists, because there is no good evidence for that God, and the claims about that God are generally incoherent and carry all the ear-marks as being a fiction created by humans.

However, some people mistake simply coming to a conclusion with being being close minded. It's not. Being close minded is not being open to changing your mind and saying "Looks like I was wrong." I'm entirely open to finding out my conclusion is wrong.

Prof.
3/9/11 2:12 AM
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Grakman
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 prof,
I believe there is sufficient evidence  to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. You differ. We both use our judgment to decide whether we think the claims of the Bible (or any religion for that matter) are true or false. I have no problem with you claiming that you have weighed the evidence and found it lacking. I won't even accuse you of being close-minded, it looks like you've considered the arguments and found them wanting. I see things differently. Maybe its the acceptance of a lower threshold of evidence (preponderance instead of reasonable doubt?) on my part than yours, I don't know, but I think we hit an impasse because I don't accept your arguments as valid or overcoming my objections or points.

Like the story about the purple popsicle, in my opinion I turned that story on its head and used the same analogy to justify belief in the resurrection. But your reply was 'I'm not sure what that had to do with what I wrote." To me, it had everything to do with what you said. I used the same analogy, same type of argument, switched the roles and it was done. It was very easy to do, it was almost funny. But I realize, maybe I'm ignorant, maybe I do not grasp that I commited a number of logical fallacies, and that I look like a buffoon to anyone reading it. I apperciate that you have been taking the time to continue to reply, but at this point I don't believe you have refuted anything or given sufficient evidence to support your case, despite claims to the contrary.

I do thank you though for taking the time to reply; I apologize for my rude behavior.
3/9/11 2:19 AM
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Lahi
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Prof,

I think there are legitimate questions we have to ask when addressing the different pictures of God the Bible presents us with. While I agree that the Bible is the work of different authors with different perspectives and even belief systems, I don't think that makes it somehow worthless just because some of them have a clearer understanding than others.

I don't think that most Christians throughout history have thought the Bible was anything but this kind of book. The modern American Evangelical belief that is was perfectly inspired and infallible from start to finish seems to be a fairly modern view.

As far as Jesus being the lens through which the Bible must be interpreted - I don't see this as a cop out in order to explain away the uncomfortable aspects of the Hebrew Scriptures. Rather, it is something Jesus himself made painfully clear throughout his ministry. He came to speak into a system of doctrine and praxis that He believed was in need of radical upheaval. Look at the numerous direct challenges Jesus made to some of the most deeply held traditions of his culture. I would offer that the Christians who don't think his teaching comes into conflict with the older Jewish teachings are the ones reading their own views into the Bible. It seems very clear that part of Jesus message wasn't that He came to make up for the bad the Hebrew God had done, but to show people what God was really like, and to show them that they had gotten much of it very wrong.

The problem with the Ted Bundy comparison is that all relationships dealing with one who is (in some sense at least) higher, and another who is lower, involve things that aren't readily obvious to the lower. True, sometimes this thinking is used to justify bad beliefs, but sometimes its a necessary aspect of profitable relationships. I'm not suggesting that we should blindly follow anyone. But whether you're going to a ju-jitsu school, studying classic music, of going through boot camp, there are things your instructors will throw at you that you aren't going to get. Some of it may seem awfully uncomfortable, maybe even threatening and offensive. I have a teacher who people on the outside have called some colorful names for his hard nosed educational style. But the longer I study under him, the more I appreciate it. So I don't think there is always a clear line there...sometimes we follow people we don't understand and are right in doing so, sometimes we're not. I would have problems following a God who I believed literally decreed some of the things found in the Hebrew scriptures. But I see a difference in this, and the fact that I follow Jesus even though there is a lot I don't get, and much that makes me uncomfortable. The non-violence part is very hard for me for starters. I fought it kicking and screaming when I became a Christian again, and I'll do whatever I can to forget about it. The surrender of my finances, the daily call to actively forgive...I could go on. These are not easy things, and often I don't think them very fair or sensible. But I believe I have other solid ground for following Jesus even though I struggle with certain things he teaches. And the fact remains that Jesus also directly challenges many of the views others (including some Christians) hold about God that I find so reprehensible I could never accept.
3/9/11 2:28 AM
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prof
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Grakman,

What is frusterating is that I've been patiently making a specific argument, addressing a claim you had made. But you are in effect ignoring it and moving on to other questions.

THIS is what I've been arguing against, that you wrote:

Grakman -

if God exists and it's His world, it doesn't matter whether we think something is fair or not. Without being omnipotent and omniscient we can't say that what happened in the OT was not the best possible outcome at the time anyway.


I have given reasons and examples explaining why your claim is false. We don't have to be omniscient or omnipotent in order to make assessments of the biblical claims, be it the Old Testament or the New Testament.

Your response to my Rush Limbaugh scenario, which uses precisely the same reasoning you gave, shows you don't even accept your own principle. Except that you won't, as yet, explicitly acknowledge this fact.

Do you at least agree I've made a valid point, showing that the type of reasoning in your quote above has problems?

Prof.
3/9/11 2:28 AM
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Lahi
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Edited: 03/09/11 2:29 AM
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Also I'd add that the way Jesus and his early followers used the Jewish Scriptures to support Jesus' teachings, shows just how radically they believed these Scriptures had to be re-interpreted through Him. There is no way that these Jews, obviously very familiar with Jewish religion and culture, could ever think they were literally interpreting many of the Scriptures that Jesus and the early Church taught pointed the way towards Him.
3/9/11 2:52 AM
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prof
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Edited: 03/09/11 2:59 AM
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Lahi -
.As far as Jesus being the lens through which the Bible must be interpreted - I don't see this as a cop out in order to explain away the uncomfortable aspects of the Hebrew Scriptures. Rather, it is something Jesus himself made painfully clear throughout his ministry. He came to speak into a system of doctrine and praxis that He believed was in need of radical upheaval. Look at the numerous direct challenges Jesus made to some of the most deeply held traditions of his culture. I would offer that the Christians who don't think his teaching comes into conflict with the older Jewish teachings are the ones reading their own views into the Bible. It seems very clear that part of Jesus message wasn't that He came to make up for the bad the Hebrew God had done, but to show people what God was really like, and to show them that they had gotten much of it very wrong.


So...much of the OT is "very wrong" in it's claims and depictions of God?
Why then put stock in a book so filled with untrustworthy information?

And why are you picking the NT as the "right" version of God? Both OT and NT make claims about God's behavior and character, so why can't the OT have
depicted God correctly and the NT have gotten "much of it very wrong." Seems to me it's because you like the NT God better.

Further, if the Bible was going to be God's lasting message to mankind, what possible sense does it make that it would contain so much misrepresentation and false information about God? (As you claim, the OT got "much of it very wrong")?

That is hardly wise or rational behavior.

If you were dictating a message about yourself, would you accidently add...or knowingly allow...false claims included that you were, say, a serial killer?
Of course not. This is why it makes no sense God would leave us with a message so marred with wrong information about Him. (And, remember, the assertion that the wrong parts are due to fallible humans getting it wrong is no excuse...no more than a boss knowing his secretary was writing falsehoods into his message, but he let's it get sent out anyway).**

See, no matter how one approaches it, no matter how much sensitivity or nuance one attempts to bring to the task, holding the bible up as representing the reality of contact with a God is a fools errand from the start. Which is why I made the analogy to trying every which way to support the claim Star Trek represents the knowledge of an advanced, future alien race. No matter what talent you bring to the task, the fundamental irrationality of the claim is unavoidable.


Prof.

** (This is an analogy. It's not to say you have to believe God "dictated" the bible like a lawyer...but the analogy is that the Bible was clearly going to act as God's message, or a recording of his message, to mankind, and hence it makes no sense God would allow so much misrepresentation about Himself in this message)

3/9/11 9:18 AM
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dabigchet
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Edited: 03/09/11 9:21 AM
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Grakman -  However, the effects of the sins themselves are what actually bring punishment, even to many generations of children. Think about children who come from broken homes where they are abused; this child will likely grow up and abuse his own children, and so on down the line. Or generation after generation of people living on welfare or being drug abusers. In one sense God 'decreed' that this be so because he is ultimately responsible for the world; on another it is the fault of the sinner himself who has wrought these terrible effects on the lives of his descendants.

Sobering thought.


you would have to take tremendous liberty to say that god is not actually personally administering punishment to the children, as opposed to saying that future generations will be paying the price due to their ancestors mistakes in life. not only is god - who is directly being quoted, by the way - saying that the kids will be punished, but he is saying the method in which they will be punished, in this case famine and plague, as opposed to dying by the sword which is the punishment for their parents.

and, of course, this is not the only time in which such punishment is mentioned in the OT by a longshot. on some occasions is it clarifying that god does, in fact, punish children as in the 10 commandments, in others it is the wholesale destruction of populations including children, in which the children are painted with the same brush.

the only reasonable conclusions to reach, imo, are:

1. the OT is completely unreliable as an account of god's character, but that creates problems for accepting the NT at all, imo

2. at one time, god punished kids for the sins of their parents, and could certainly do that tomorrow as well (if he isn't already doing it today). this must mean that god could starve YOUR kids, and be completely morally justified in doing so.
3/9/11 9:19 AM
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dabigchet
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Grakman -  
I believe there is sufficient evidence  to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.


do you think there is sufficient evidence to believe that the angel moroni visited joseph smith?
3/9/11 10:21 AM
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Grakman
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dabigchet - 
Grakman -  However, the effects of the sins themselves are what actually bring punishment, even to many generations of children. Think about children who come from broken homes where they are abused; this child will likely grow up and abuse his own children, and so on down the line. Or generation after generation of people living on welfare or being drug abusers. In one sense God 'decreed' that this be so because he is ultimately responsible for the world; on another it is the fault of the sinner himself who has wrought these terrible effects on the lives of his descendants.

Sobering thought.


you would have to take tremendous liberty to say that god is not actually personally administering punishment to the children, as opposed to saying that future generations will be paying the price due to their ancestors mistakes in life. not only is god - who is directly being quoted, by the way - saying that the kids will be punished, but he is saying the method in which they will be punished, in this case famine and plague, as opposed to dying by the sword which is the punishment for their parents.

and, of course, this is not the only time in which such punishment is mentioned in the OT by a longshot. on some occasions is it clarifying that god does, in fact, punish children as in the 10 commandments, in others it is the wholesale destruction of populations including children, in which the children are painted with the same brush.

the only reasonable conclusions to reach, imo, are:

1. the OT is completely unreliable as an account of god's character, but that creates problems for accepting the NT at all, imo

2. at one time, god punished kids for the sins of their parents, and could certainly do that tomorrow as well (if he isn't already doing it today). this must mean that god could starve YOUR kids, and be completely morally justified in doing so.
At the risk of further breach of Internet debate etiquette, I'm going to post a link rather than post my own words. I essentially agree with most of what he says in this article, so it should suffice. 

 Do children pay for the sins of their fathers, or not?
3/9/11 10:21 AM
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Grakman
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dabigchet - 
Grakman -  
I believe there is sufficient evidence  to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.


do you think there is sufficient evidence to believe that the angel moroni visited joseph smith?
Sure.
 
3/9/11 10:29 AM
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Grakman
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prof - See how hypocritical it is to do so? If you agree that the exact same objection should not stop us from being able to judge the claims of a Rush Limbough, then for precisely the same reasons we can judge the claims of an ancient desert tribe, that they've written about a real God.
I believe that I would judge Rush's claim in the same way I judge the ancient desert tribe, as you say. If Rush came back from the dead, and there were hundreds of people who saw it, wrote about it, and they started a religion of neo-Conservatism, I'd have to sit up and pay attention and weigh the evidence, the same way that I did for the claims about Jesus Christ.

As far as I know, Rush hasn't done that yet.
3/9/11 11:08 AM
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prof
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Grakman -  Here is an easy to read article about '<a href="http://www.tektonics.org/lp/outrage.html">Argument by Outrage</a>' that talks about some of the points made in this thread.


Just wanted to mention that I read that article. That article is full of strawmen, just as the criticisms by Christians against us atheists on this thread have been full of strawmen. The article is full of terrible arguments, with Special Pleading lurking in every corner.

Prof.
3/9/11 11:13 AM
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prof
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Grakman -
prof - See how hypocritical it is to do so? If you agree that the exact same objection should not stop us from being able to judge the claims of a Rush Limbough, then for precisely the same reasons we can judge the claims of an ancient desert tribe, that they've written about a real God.
I believe that I would judge Rush's claim in the same way I judge the ancient desert tribe, as you say.


Right.

So do you now understand you were wrong when you claimed we have to be Omniscient and Omnipotent to evaluate the claims about God in the Bible?

I'm not asking you to give up on Christianity.

But if we can at least remove one fallacy from our reasoning isn't it a step in a better direction?

Cheers,

Prof.
3/9/11 12:14 PM
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Grakman
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prof - 
Grakman -
prof - See how hypocritical it is to do so? If you agree that the exact same objection should not stop us from being able to judge the claims of a Rush Limbough, then for precisely the same reasons we can judge the claims of an ancient desert tribe, that they've written about a real God.
I believe that I would judge Rush's claim in the same way I judge the ancient desert tribe, as you say.


Right.

So do you now understand you were wrong when you claimed we have to be Omniscient and Omnipotent to evaluate the claims about God in the Bible?

I'm not asking you to give up on Christianity.

But if we can at least remove one fallacy from our reasoning isn't it a step in a better direction?

Cheers,

Prof.
I'm not sure I see the connection between what I said and what you're saying I said, but I do agree with the rest of your statement lol.
 
3/9/11 5:34 PM
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prof
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Well, since I can not conceive of how to make the connection any clearer than I have, I'll abandon this as futile.

Thanks for the discussion.

Prof.
3/9/11 6:05 PM
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Ridgeback
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 Prof,

If you describe your biblical reading in terms of "I am morally superior to all the authors and characters of the Bible" then how is it an ad hominen for me to both point out your hypocrisy (you aren't morally superior you just think you are) and also point out the flaw of approaching literature with one's superiority firmly in mind?  I think this does address your argument about reconciling the various descriptions of the divine in the OT and NT.  

You have a long history of the partial suspension of disbelief when it comes to approaching the Bible (which you always do like a fundamentalist).  You will play along with the narratives on the level of God being a character, but you won't actually allow certain attributes of God to play a role in your reading of the narrative.  So you will let him be a tyrant who orders the Jews around in the desert, but you won't allow that if he created and sustains the universe then no one in the narrative has life or existence apart from him anyway.  That is why you are taken aback by the notion that he might have the right to mete out death as he deems fit, given that no creature has life apart from him in the first place.  This is simply more of the same.  You are a like a person who approaches Animal Farm as if all its readers believe in real talking animals and then claim that when they are talking about totalitarian regimes they are being dishonest in their reading of the text and trying to avoid the embarassing bits about talking animals.  Since the first Christians did read the OT through a lens of Jesus (and were not in any way fundamentalist sola scripturists) it is actually perfectly historically significant for me to do the same.  It isn't a cop out or an attempt to make the scriptures fit something they don't.  Nor would my reading of Animal Farm as an argument against totalitarianism be innaccurate no matter how many times you insisted it was really a about talking animals and I was just reading things into the story.  

The Bible has nothing to offer a person who has no belief in human sin.  Your superior response to it (and obviously your approach to stepping foot into a church at all) will forever verify what you want to see.  In the meantime, do you find yourself being more forgiving of people who harm you, more concerned about the poor, and more sacrificially loving in your relationships with others?
3/9/11 7:20 PM
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Ridgeback
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LoveToChoke - Come off it Ridgeback,

Are you really suggesting that we are morally worse off than in biblical times? How does that apply to women? Are they worse off now? would it be better if they were still considered to be chattels?

The idea that biblical times were " the good old days" is a sham, and only possibly true if you weren't a woman, or a homosexual, or in a neigbouring tribe, or an any other form of outsider.

 I didn't make that argument.  The ancient Hebrews were just as human as us.  We have the benefit of having been highly influenced by Christian values and that does take the edge off of a lot of human wickedness, but influence was cut off in the 20th century.  And yes I think the 20th century saw more evil and bloodshed than at any other time in human history.  

So all that to point out that it is ridiculous to assume we are the moral superiors collectively of any of the Bible's authors or characters.  
3/9/11 7:23 PM
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Ridgeback
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Lahi - Also I'd add that the way Jesus and his early followers used the Jewish Scriptures to support Jesus' teachings, shows just how radically they believed these Scriptures had to be re-interpreted through Him. There is no way that these Jews, obviously very familiar with Jewish religion and culture, could ever think they were literally interpreting many of the Scriptures that Jesus and the early Church taught pointed the way towards Him.

 The scriptures were not viewed in the same way as American fundamentalists do (which could only have happened with a printing press and a high concentration on the individual) either and I have yet to meet an atheist critic of Christianity who seems capable of understanding this.  I suspect this just goes back to fundamentalism being the easiest target.
3/9/11 8:45 PM
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prof
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Ridgeback - Prof,

If you describe your biblical reading in terms of "I am morally superior to all the authors and characters of the Bible"...


Not just me; WE are morally superior to the biblical God. And we avail ourself of more enlightened ethics, overall, than evidenced by that ancient desert tribe who wrote the bible.

Ridgeback - Prof,
then how is it an ad hominem for me to both point out your hypocrisy (you aren't morally superior you just think you are)


Because you are concentrating on attacking ME and not my arguments. You have again avoided the arguments I gave in rebuttal to your previous post. You just asserted "Prof just THINKs he's morally superior but he isn't" without showing why, or rebutting my previous arguments.

For instance, when you pointed to morally questionable actions that go on today I pointed out that to do so assumes we currently accept the moral principles on which you condemn those actions. I pointed out that I, as a modern civilized person, like many others, DO find killing of people with missiles, child slave labor and sweat shops to be morally troubling.

If I didn't care about those things then you'd have a point. But the fact I recognize such things as morally undesirable, and so do many other modern people, only underlines my point - that people today can bemoan BOTH what remains immoral today AND condemn what ancients didn't realise was immoral - and does not support yours.

Ridgeback - Prof

and also point out the flaw of approaching literature with one's superiority firmly in mind?


So when you read Silence Of The Lambs and point out Hannibal Lecter is the bad guy
based on his behavior, should I criticize you as "approaching the literature with your moral superiority in mind?" as if this were a legitimate attack on your reading of the text?

No. That would be silly. I'd say: Yes, you are right, based on the criteria most civilized people hold for good people, the Lecter character is a bad person. We agree.

If I stayed with only accusing you of moral superiority, rather than addressing the arguments for evaluating Lecter's behavior, like you I'd be engaging in ad hominem.

But if you say "Hannibal Lecter is actually a morally admirable character" I'm going to say: Whoa, that's really inconsistent with the expectations based on how we normally apply moral criteria. Please explain how you are evaluating Lecter and why I should believe he's a good person. You seem to be inconsistent, so can you justify what appears to be an inconsistency?

That's not simply "moral superiority." It's just how we reason about things.

Now, as I keep pointing out, reason requires consistency. No special pleading. If you or I want to make the case "You ought to accept X proposition" you'll have to base this on other acceptable principles, or your argument fails.

When I say "God ordering the slaughtering of the Amalekites, or making Job suffer, is immoral" I will appeal to consistency with other accepted moral principles. For instance,
we would condemn the morality if anyone else in this age did such things. Consistent with this principle we can condemn the Biblical character Yahweh as immoral.

Now, if you want to say that the Biblical God, or the Biblical Authors upheld ethical principles that are superior to todays, I wonder how you will make that argument. What principle will you appeal to? If you start appealing to principles we accept today to do so, then it suggests the
value of the principles we hold today to ratify older values, which undermines your claim.
If you appeal to ancient ethical reasoning that are not supported by principles we accept today, then, again, you'd be failing to make your argument. You'd be special pleading.

So I'd like to see how you are going to do this.


Ridgeback - Prof

You have a long history of the partial suspension of disbelief when it comes to approaching the Bible (which you always do like a fundamentalist). You will play along with the narratives on the level of God being a character, but you won't actually allow certain attributes of God to play a role in your reading of the narrative. So you will let him be a tyrant who orders the Jews around in the desert, but you won't allow that if he created and sustains the universe then no one in the narrative has life or existence apart from him anyway.


That is simply false, and it's disheartening you always make that false accusation.

I do not make up God claims or claims for Christian theology all by myself. I take God claims as they come. Christians make different arguments, all the way from fundy literalists, to almost deist-like versions, with all sorts of theological, moral arguments in between. I take WHATEVER you as a Christian will give me and I critique the reasoning. You know very well that I've engaged in lengthy critiques of your own theology. I don't ignore your claims; I examine and have found grounds to reject your arguments.

Here, I'll do it again so you can't accuse me of not considering your theological arguments. This isn't me making something up. It's not me echoing some fundy. This is a line of reasoning YOU have introduced so we are going to look at it.

Ridgeback -

That is why you are taken aback by the notion that he might have the right to mete out death as he deems fit, given that no creature has life apart from him in the first place.


I claim that God can not "mete out death" HOWEVER he deems fit and remain a moral Being.
God would have to work within the same moral rules we do. If not morality becomes incoherent with the inclusion of Special Pleading.

If you agree with this, then you'd have to show how, for instance, God ordering the wholesale slaughter of the Amalekites (or so many other examples...making Job suffer...giving commandments to kill people for offenses we'd never kill people for today) would be "good," consistent with how we evaluate persons today.

If you disagree that God is beholden to the same moral rules we are, and insist instead that God is a special case where we can not condemn Him for reasons we'd condemn one another (and this is what your quote seems to imply)....then I'm going to ask to see your argument for why this exception is made for God.

What principle, based on other acceptable maxims, are you going to appeal to?

Your quote suggests that God can do as He wishes with us BECAUSE he sustains our life and we owe our existence to God. Would that be correct? If so, I don't think you can justify that proposition. I've seen many attempts to justify it - all have ended in special pleading or begging the question. I can show you why. (I'm not aware of any good argument that goes from "If you have the power to create sentient, moral creatures" to "it is therefore moral to treat those creatures as well or badly as you wish" that is successful.

But if you have a good line of argument, I'm all ears.

Prof.
3/9/11 10:45 PM
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dabigchet
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Grakman - At the risk of further breach of Internet debate etiquette, I'm going to post a link rather than post my own words. I essentially agree with most of what he says in this article, so it should suffice. 

<a href="http://www.tektonics.org/lp/paydaddy.html"> Do children pay for the sins of their fathers, or not?</a>


this is article is completely lacking a reasonable explanation, almost humorously so. while i accept that what i am pointing out could more correctly be called "corporate punishment" instead of substitutionary or vicarious, pointing that out doesn't absolve the god character. neither "vicarious punishment" NOR "corporate punishment" as justification to kill children is considered moral by our standards. what difference does it make that ancient people did not have the concept that only the guilty individuals (rather than their children) should be held accountable? why would god be beholden to their ancient moral standard?
3/9/11 10:58 PM
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Grakman
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I am left mouth agape that anyone can say we are morally superior to the Hebrews.  Like the prof said, further discussion at this point is futile.



3/9/11 11:35 PM
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Ridgeback
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 Prof,

While I understand how my posts do focus on you, my point is that you are wrapped up in your approach to scripture.  Your narrative of being in a church and looking over a Bible comes across as smarmy and the tale of a man looking to build up his own ego by reasserting his presuppositions.  Being a person somewhat wrapped up in literary theory, I find it revolting for anybody to approach any narrative with the a priori assumption that he is morally superior both to the author and the characters.  There is simply no way to enter a story when one does that.  My point is that your assumption of your moral superiority destroys your ability to read the Bible.  It is a total waste of time just like it would be a waste of my time to read Animal Farm when I am insistent that "animals can't talk so I know this is going to be stupid" before I pick up the book.

I simply take it for granted that a lot of our so called morality in terms of our real behavior is both socially constructed and socially mediated.  It is easy to not be a racist slaveholder in a time when holding slaves is illegal.  You don't know and I don't know that we would not have owned slaves if we were raised in a time when it was normative and we were given the means to do so.  That is why I don't think either of us is morally superior to the Hebrews.  I would agree that it is better to not own slaves (seems to be easily summed up in "do unto others") but that is different from the real world of human moral systems and actions.  

My whole point about you judging the actions of God in the OT is that you simply have no basis for measuring the meaning of those actions considering the ontological distance between you and God.  As TheStewedOwl pointed out on the other thread, you play this game whereby God is just a human character in the narrative rather than the actual creator and sustainer of the universe.  It is a dishonest approach plain and simple.  You are welcome to read it that way, but it points to a willfullness in how you judge God rather than an attempt, at least, of entering the narrative and meeting it on its own terms.  This, I believe, comes from your assumption about your own moral superiority which, I argue, is based largely on the convenience of your life and your situation historically.  For all you know, you would have been a monster in OT times, sacrificing your children on the altar of Baal to please him.  Your assumption that you have transcended all of that is why you can't read the Bible with any kind of empathy or understanding and I think that does get back to your argument about the attempts of Christians to reconcile the deity or deities in the various books of the Bible with Jesus.

Couple this with what I pointed out early in this thread about the Hebrews writing within their own language, cultural assumptions, and experience and that leaves a lot of room to say that the God of the Bible that the Hebrews experienced in OT narratives is also the God that became Incarnated in Jesus Christ.  This is further confirmed when one actually reads the OT (rather than taking select passages off of atheist websites) and sees a pervasive concern with righteousness, the care of the poor and powerless, and the insistence on becoming far more than a life spent simply living for animal instincts would lead us to.  It is not as if traditional Christians pull out an OT and try to take one small part of a narrative and use it as a code to live by.  It is understood that many of the proscriptions of the OT have to do with time and place and are not general commandments like "do unto others" and "forgive your enemies" and "true religion is caring for widows and the homeless" etc. etc.  
3/10/11 1:18 AM
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LoveToChoke
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Edited: 03/10/11 1:25 AM
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Grakman,
Do you think it morally superior to have your son stoned to death if he is disobediant, or drunk or profligate?

Is it morally superior for bastard children to be exempt from "the house of the lord" for ten generations?

Is slavery a morally justifiable position for you?

Sure I'm focusing on the "bad" parts, but that doesn't negate the fact that the above would be considered morally abhorent now.
3/10/11 1:38 AM
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Ridgeback
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LoveToChoke - Grakman,
Do you think it morally superior to have your son stoned to death if he is disobediant, or drunk or profligate?

Is it morally superior for bastard children to be exempt from "the house of the lord" for ten generations?

Is slavery a morally justifiable position for you?

Sure I'm focusing on the "bad" parts, but that doesn't negate the fact that the above would be considered morally abhorent now.

 This is not what I mean by morally superior.  I mean that a person in any given situation might do all kinds of things he takes it for granted he wouldn't do simply because of his moral conditioning, social pressure, and things like having a full belly.  

And of course your types of questions could be directed at our own time.  Is it morally superior to drop a bomb on a house full of women and children rather than seeking out your enemy with a sword in your hand?  
Is it morally superior to kill off the next generation for material benefits?

Is it morally superior to keep letting the rich get richer generation after generation until the poor have no chance of getting out of their poverty?

Is it morally superior to use up resources simply for comfort and entertainment even if it means endangering future generations?  
3/10/11 3:27 AM
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LoveToChoke
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Ridgeback,
I'm unsure as to your first point - can please explain again?

I agree with your last statements you've made around materialism. However, those are not laws, or a code of ethics or pointed to as the way we should live. They are the way the world is, and people are attempting to change those things.

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