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HolyGround >> A couple things about Hell...


10/26/11 7:57 PM
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Lahi
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A couple thoughts I've had thinking about Rev's thread on Hell, and some of the comments there. I know some of the things I bring up are pretty sick, but its stuff I think we have to consider when we're talking about Hell:

The idea of burning people alive forever is something that I think we are used to hearing about, and don't really think through what it would mean.

If you think of the worst people in the world - Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Manson - would we really want a society where people like this were punished by being burned to death? What if we could somehow keep them alive so that they could literally experience that pain forever. No doubt there would be some people who would say "they deserve it, let's do it." But I think in our clearer moments we would say this is wrong, and that we wouldn't want to become the kind of people who did something like that even to our worst enemies. Not to mention it's not how Jesus taught us to treat our enemies, and its not how he treated his own.

Burning somone alive is so sick of a thing to me that I categorize it with things like rape, and other kinds of torture - things that are terribly painful emotionally, psychologically, and physically, and that are also horribly de-humanizing. It made me wonder why we are ok with a place where God burns people forever, but would (I hope) think twice if those who rejected God were supposedly raped, or skinned alive, forever in the after life. You might say that's crazy, but is it really any crazier of a thing than people litterally burning alive forever?


The other thing on my mind is how I can only think of one place in the Gospels (the parable of Lazerus and the rich man) where it seems like Jesus is speaking about a special place in the afterlife where people are being burned but don't die from it. It seems very obvious to me that Jesus is not speaking literally. The parable doesn't make sense that way. If anyone can explain why they believe that Jesus' other teachings are about a literal place in the afterlife where people burn forever, I'd be interested to discuss the verses with you. I'm not so much interested in a text war, as in trying to understand what these texts meant in their context.

Just some thoughts.
10/26/11 8:08 PM
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Lahi
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If I'm off here feel free to tell me:)
10/26/11 11:22 PM
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Workman
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Lahi - If I'm off here feel free to tell me:)


Hey Lahi, you seem sincere so I'll gladly take part in an open discussion with you.

However, I feel it is important to set a couple of simple ground rules, which should serve to keep things respectful considering our diametrically opposed positions?

If I provide a reasonable answer for you, is it possible that you are able to remove the emotional responses, and just stick to the rationale for each respective point(s)?

Can we also agree to stick to attacking points, gently of course, and not persons?
10/27/11 10:07 AM
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Workman
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Genital Ben - It is pretty easy to prove, biblically, there is no place where the damned are burned and tortured forever. Or that souls are immortal and cant die. In fact, jesus himself debunks it as clear as day. If jesus does say your soul dies in lake of fire...would you agree with him?


G Ben, this is a question for Lahi as well...are you open to the possibility that you may have overlooked something in your interpretation of Jesus' statement in Matthew 10:28?

If you are convinced, then you clearly do not require any further explanation, and we can conclude the discussion from going any further.

If you are open, let me know, and I will provide another view on what it means to kill the soul, as spoken in Matthew 10:28.
10/27/11 2:01 PM
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Lahi
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Workman - 
Lahi - If I'm off here feel free to tell me:)


Hey Lahi, you seem sincere so I'll gladly take part in an open discussion with you.

However, I feel it is important to set a couple of simple ground rules, which should serve to keep things respectful considering our diametrically opposed positions?

If I provide a reasonable answer for you, is it possible that you are able to remove the emotional responses, and just stick to the rationale for each respective point(s)?

Can we also agree to stick to attacking points, gently of course, and not persons?


I'll do my best. Just to be upfront, I don't think that talking about an emotional or moral reaction to something attributed to God should be out of bounds in religious debate; I think its an important part of it.

I know I've taken things personally here before and over reacted, I'll try not to do that, and keep things from getting personal. Hell is a topic its a challenge for me to do that with for sure.

10/27/11 2:04 PM
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Lahi
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Adding to my first sentence above, I think the nature of an eternal hell, and the kind of torture it represents, are important things to address.

10/27/11 5:00 PM
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Juijitsuboxer
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Not just burning Lahi, there are lots of early descriptions of the tortures that await, though they are extra biblical:

The Apocalypse of Peter:

31. And other men and women were being hurled down from a great cliff and reached the bottom, and again were driven by those who were set over them to climb up upon the cliff, and thence were hurled down again, and had no rest from this punishment: and these were they who defiled their bodies acting as women; and the women who were with them were those who lay with one another as a man with a woman.
10/27/11 5:04 PM
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Juijitsuboxer
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Clement of Alexandria appears to have considered the Apocalypse of Peter to be holy scripture. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae (VI.14.1), describes a lost work of Clement's, the Hypotyposes (Outlines), that gave "abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures, not even omitting those that are disputed, I mean the book of Jude and the other general epistles. Also the Epistle of Barnabas and that called the Revelation of Peter."[10] So the work must have existed in the first half of the 2nd century, which is also the commonly accepted date of the canonic Second Epistle of Peter.[11] Although the numerous references to it attest to its being once in wide circulation, the Apocalypse of Peter was ultimately not accepted into the Christian canon. Thus the disappearance of every single manuscript of the work is perhaps not entirely coincidental.
10/27/11 10:38 PM
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Workman
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Lahi - 
Workman - 
Lahi - If I'm off here feel free to tell me:)


Hey Lahi, you seem sincere so I'll gladly take part in an open discussion with you.

However, I feel it is important to set a couple of simple ground rules, which should serve to keep things respectful considering our diametrically opposed positions?

If I provide a reasonable answer for you, is it possible that you are able to remove the emotional responses, and just stick to the rationale for each respective point(s)?

Can we also agree to stick to attacking points, gently of course, and not persons?


I'll do my best. Just to be upfront, I don't think that talking about an emotional or moral reaction to something attributed to God should be out of bounds in religious debate; I think its an important part of it.

I know I've taken things personally here before and over reacted, I'll try not to do that, and keep things from getting personal. Hell is a topic its a challenge for me to do that with for sure.



Lahi, I am very encouraged to get past this 1st stage, as we come to an agreement on the nature of discourse we'd like to engage. Thank you for that!

So to begin, I'd like to ask you if you are aware that the Bible speaks of the term "death" in more than one sense, or way.

Are you aware of this? If not, please let me know so I can show you some examples, as your understanding of this is crucial to gaining an accurate interpretation of Matthew 10:28.
10/28/11 11:44 AM
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colubrid1
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How can we know why God does certain things. Why did not just have all of us individually born in the Garden instead of inheriting the curse through our super parents?

Answer. God can do whatever He wants
10/28/11 12:18 PM
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inlikeflynn
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colubrid1 - How can we know why God does certain things. Why did not just have all of us individually born in the Garden instead of inheriting the curse through our super parents?

Answer. God can do whatever He wants


This isn't much of an answer. Yes, God can do whatever He wants, but can He do whatever He wants AND still be considered good/loving/just? In other words, if it is true that God is good/loving/just etc., and I believe it is, does that not put some limitations on what He does, i.e. He can't act in ways that are unloving, unjust, etc?
10/28/11 12:20 PM
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prof
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The question of our fate in the afterlife is obviously contentious among the various Christian sects.

But one thing I'd say for certain: If you DO accept a doctrine of hell, that is any conception in which the "unsaved"
are doomed to SOME FORM of eternal misery (even if not literal flames), then your moral compass is simply broken.

There can be no reconciling a Good God with that God condemning, or allowing, the eternal torment of any moral being.

Prof.
10/28/11 12:27 PM
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Ridgeback
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prof - 
The question of our fate in the afterlife is obviously contentious among the various Christian sects.

But one thing I'd say for certain: If you DO accept a doctrine of hell, that is any conception in which the "unsaved"
are doomed to SOME FORM of eternal misery (even if not literal flames), then your moral compass is simply broken.

There can be no reconciling a Good God with that God condemning, or allowing, the eternal torment of any moral being.

Prof.

 Baww.  In order for a person to even be a moral being in any meaningful sense he must have free will.  If a person uses his free will to make choices that slowly shape him into the kind of person that feels like an alien in a world of justice and peace then this is God's fault how again?  Take a man who is a racist.  Let us say that he is caught in a hurricane and is bedridden.  Let us say that no family or friends can get to him for days, but a loving black family comes to his home and feeds him and takes care of him and looks after all his needs.  But he is so full of hate for these people that he refuses their help and is miserable because he won't let go of his hate despite the glaringly obvious example of everything counter to his erroneous beliefs about black people.  According to your argument, this man should be allowed to go on being a racist and hating forever and everybody else should work around it, never wanting a world without racism or a world with real justice because it is no home for him.  

I accept a doctrine of hell not because I believe God has any interest in punishing the irredeemable, but because he makes us free moral agents who make real choices in this life with real significance in terms of the kinds of people we will be in enternity.  
10/28/11 12:48 PM
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Ridgeback
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 BTW Prof, if you merely meant that a person who is damned to hell forever simply for having the wrong ideas about God or who never heard of Jesus is morally reprehensible then I agree.  But of course that is nothing like what Jesus actually taught about the Last Judgment.  He goes out of his way to say that it is agape love that will be the test of a person, and I don't think anybody is off the hook for that unless they have some kind of disability that doesn't allow them to perceive what they are doing.  A better way to look at it is who would actually be at home in the Kingdom of Heaven.  If you are a slave to your appetites you won't be at home.  If you feed off other lives emotionally and physically you won't be at home because you will have no ability to do so.  Jesus clearly points out that some people who call him Lord won't be at home in his kingdom because they possessed no real love in their hearts.  It is the great diqualifier above all religious pedigrees.  

In Eastern Orthodoxy a very old and traditional view we hold is that every person is raised from the dead.  And every person will exist in the direct and unmitigated presence of God.  Those who have made themselves at home in this fallen world by thriving on injustice and selfishly feeding their own appetites at the expense of others will find the Kingdom of Heaven to be a miserable place.  Whether they can repent at that point I have no idea.  Eastern Orthodoxy certainly appears to allow for repentance after death, and we pray for the "saved" and "unsaved" alike, wishing no one to be in torment at the end.  
10/28/11 1:06 PM
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colubrid1
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prof - 
The question of our fate in the afterlife is obviously contentious among the various Christian sects.

But one thing I'd say for certain: If you DO accept a doctrine of hell, that is any conception in which the "unsaved"
are doomed to SOME FORM of eternal misery (even if not literal flames), then your moral compass is simply broken.

There can be no reconciling a Good God with that God condemning, or allowing, the eternal torment of any moral being.

Prof.


Guess what Prof. god kills people. That is a fact. We will all die. While it was never meant to be that way. It is now a fact.

To assume that we need to die just to end up in foreever bliss seems to me that our compass is broken.


We just have to know that our minds are tainted. We don't think like God. Therefore trying to get into His eternal mind and figuring out why He does things the way He does is useless.

10/28/11 1:12 PM
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colubrid1
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Ridgeback -  BTW Prof, if you merely meant that a person who is damned to hell forever simply for having the wrong ideas about God or who never heard of Jesus is morally reprehensible then I agree.    <br type="_moz" />



Rom 1:20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse
10/28/11 2:11 PM
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prof
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Ridgeback -
Baww. In order for a person to even be a moral being in any meaningful sense he must have free will. If a person uses his free will to make choices that slowly shape him into the kind of person that feels like an alien in a world of justice and peace then this is God's fault how again?


Uhm..because God CREATED human beings. Remember?

That's the part of the equation that Christians with their "free will" this and that conveniently ignore. (Actually, that's only one of the many issues Christians like yourself ignore with this problem).

You whip out this "free will" as if it operated in a vacuum all by itself. Free will is the the purported ability to choose between actions...but WHAT is it that is providing the impetus for our actions in the first place? The impulse to "want to do X" is the issue. And that comes from human nature - which is complex and varied among persons.

You can not control all your desires by "free will." That is, you can not simply stop having every desire you do not wish to have simply by "free willing them away." And even Christianity understand that, in noting we ALL have the tendency toward sin (except Jesus). We all have some "bad" desires or tendencies, and the issue of free will as it relates to morality concerns WHICH desires or tendencies we will act upon - "That guy left the restaurant, leaving his iPhone on the table. I sure DESIRE to have that iPhone, but I also DESIRE to be a good person, and a good person would not take the iPhone." (The desire to be good fits any moral theory: if you are Christian the desire to be good may equate to doing as you believe is consistent with God's moral character as an example, or whatever).

So it is generally acknowledged that we all grapple with positive and negative desires, and that morality involves our navigation of our good and bad desires to make the "right" choices. So the issue is NOT ONLY free will..but from where come the very desires and proclivities we have to navigate? In other words: were does human nature come from?

The problem of human nature falls straight onto God's lap, as God is purported to have created us. It has been observed for ages that people have had "in-built" desires and impulses, and also that these tendencies vary. And we now know know scientifically that this is the case: so many cognitive/sociological/psychological studies have detailed why some people are BY NATURE more likely to be violent or sociopathic, or more compassionate...and also many in-built biases, for instance the tendency to racism, have been elucidated as being general attributes of human beings.

Hell, anyone with kids can observe just how much genetics, or in-built personality is at play. It's astounding how different my two boys are, despite being raised by the same parents.

So God as our creator..and Omnipotent and Omniscient creator who could make any being He desires, with foresight to the consequences, is responsible for human nature and hence bears significant moral responsibility for the human situation. Why would He make us such that we would be so naturally inclined toward sin?

Even if you took the Adam and Eve story literally OR metaphorically, this free will defense doesn't work. God may not have made the specific choices for Adam and Eve, but he laid ALL THE GROUNDWORK for their sin and for their falling. He made them with certain needs and proclivities that would play out in their doom. That included their innocence, curiosity, gullibility, desire for eating fruit, desire for knowledge etc. And then God allows a serpent in the garden who God KNOWS will play on the very proclivities he has built into Adam and Eve. You can not escape an All Knowing, Omnipotent God as engineering the fall of Adam and Eve.

It's like me making a pit in a room, placing a sheet over the pit, and placing candy on the sheet. When my 4 year old son goes for the candy and falls into the pit, can I say "Well...it wasn't MY fault. It was my son's free willed action that resulted in his problem. Without his free willed choice to try to reach the candy, he wouldn't have fallen."

This is of course idiotic as any half-wise person would KNOW the proclivities of his child to want to eat candy and would therefore KNOW what would happen in the above scenario. I would obviously be morally responsible. And with God it goes even further, He was not simply aware of his "children's" proclivities...he ENGINEERED them into his children!

And, as pointed out above, this problem permeates not just some literal reading of Adam and Eve, but ANY attempt to absolve God for human misery by appealing to human free will.

So...please...enough with playing the free-will card. I suggest thinking it through further.

Prof.
10/28/11 2:11 PM
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prof
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Ridgeback -

Take a man who is a racist. Let us say that he is caught in a hurricane and is bedridden. Let us say that no family or friends can get to him for days, but a loving black family comes to his home and feeds him and takes care of him and looks after all his needs. But he is so full of hate for these people that he refuses their help and is miserable because he won't let go of his hate despite the glaringly obvious example of everything counter to his erroneous beliefs about black people. According to your argument, this man should be allowed to go on being a racist and hating forever and everybody else should work around it, never wanting a world without racism or a world with real justice because it is no home for him.


I don't see how this addresses what I said, and it seems you are trading on your standard cartoons-in-place-of-real-people schtick.

I said that IF you accept punishment or banishment to ETERNAL TORMENT of any moral being (humans being an example of moral beings), then your moral compass is broken.

ETERNAL TORMENT for finite sins/crimes is unjustifiable, and anyone who would wish eternal torment upon anyone at all is, in that instance, acting as morally monstrous as any earthly despot/serial killer can act.

Because there is literally nothing worse than ETERNAL TORMENT. Nothing anyone on earth can do, no finite visiting of suffering on anyone, can hold a candle to the concept of ETERNAL TORMENT.

And unlike your cartoon versions of humans, no one would choose to remain in eternal torment. It's a contradiction to even float the idea. Because having our desires fulfilled tends to reduce torment and promote our happiness.
Being in eternal torment essentially means having our desires thwarted. Because if we were fulfilling our desires, we would not be "in torment" and therefore this would not amount to eternal suffering.

Thus to say we might "choose" to remain in torment is to essentially say we would choose to have our desires eternally thwarted. But this makes no sense since our desires are behind why we make ANY choices. So to say we would "choose" to remain in eternal torment thwarting our desires is simply nonsensical.


Ridgeback -I accept a doctrine of hell not because I believe God has any interest in punishing the irredeemable, but because he makes us free moral agents who make real choices in this life with real significance in terms of the kinds of people we will be in enternity.


Which is ludicrous.

Your choice of the word "irredeemable" is telling, as it runs along the lines of the cartoon version of humans one finds in the bible, and in much of Christianity.

First you want to say we all have free will to make choices.
But on the other hand you want to portray some people as "irredeemable." What can this mean but that a person who is "irredeemable" is ONLY EVER GOING TO CHOOSE to do evil or sin?

To think of people...actual people...this way is to make cartoons out of human beings. Like they become cartoon villains who can never choose to do otherwise, forever.

Now, if someone truly were irredeemable, in any REALISTIC understanding, why would this be? If someone always had the tendency to choose to sin, or to choose a particular sin, then it's clear this person has a proclivity toward making that choice, and you have to ask what might be causing that proclivity. Studies on violence, for instance, point to all sorts of factors that can influence proclivities for violence: social factors, substance abuse factors, mental illness factors...and often enough it is not something someone "chose" to have as some physical component of their genes. For instance some tendency for anti-social behavior and Oppositional Defiance Disorder can be linked to a child's mothers alcohol abuse during pregnancy and it's effects on the child's biology. Would a mother who KNOWS her drinking while pregnant will cause her child a proclivity to anti-social behavior be morally blameless? Of COURSE we could blame her (not for all her child's choices, but certainly she bares some real moral blame for her role in how her child came out). For the same reason, a God who engineered human beings, knowing full well the failings He was introducing into our biology, would be morally culpable as well. Free will does not get around this.

Further, I suggest a compassionate, wise, moral Being would not simply give up hope on someone for ETERNITY. Such a Being ought to continue to provide guidance, and good example, and keep the doors open for anyone's redemption.
Not slam the doors shut for eternity.

The fact you think that the brief time on earth suffices as judgment for anyone's ETERNAL fate shows you just have not thought closely about this issue. Really...just ponder for a while that ratio: a lucky life of, say, 100 years, against eternity. There isn't even a way to measure how brief 100 years is against eternity. 'Blink of an eye" doesn't come close. I'd say it's like offering your child one minute to make a decision what he'll do for the rest of his life...but even that can't hope to match the absurdity of what you propose.

Then introduce more reality...the reality that a great many lives are vastly shorter, with terrible inequalities in term of people's choices and social influences, and freedoms. Some are fortunate to have 100 years in relative peace in which to forge their "choice" about how they will live eternally. They never had to "choose" whether to kill another person, in any imperative scenario. Others are born into war torn, violent societies, facing STRONG imperatives toward violence that others luckily escape. Many humans die in their 20s, or their teens, or as children, or as babies. That's a real "wise," equitable system your God has going there. Some have a relatively easy road to forging a moral self that determines their eternal fate; others have a horrible, pernicious road much more likely to produce immoral behavior. But, these are just inconvenient details to the Big Picture you like to accept.

Further...your tendency to think of people as convenient cartoons that can be condemned to eternal torment, or who would (LOL) "choose" to exist in eternal torment, is completely obviated by examples of real people, like myself.

I do not believe at all in your God. But not believing in God is not "choosing" eternal torment. I would NEVER knowingly choose such an existence. So you can't peddle your "the unsaved choose their eternal torment" stuff with me.
It's pure B.S...a desperate attempt on your part to reconcile the irreconcilable problem of Hell.

Prof.
10/28/11 2:29 PM
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prof
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colubrid1 - 

Guess what Prof. god kills people. That is a fact.


Sure. But then I hope you won't in the next breath try to say God is "good" or deserving of our moral admiration.

colubrid1 - We will all die. While it was never meant to be that way. It is now a fact.


"never meant to be that way?"

How is it an Omnipotent, Omniscient Being creates scenarios "he never meant" to be? Rather a contradiction, there.

Of course, maybe you don't think God is the Know-It-All that other Christians believe in.


colubrid1 -

To assume that we need to die just to end up in foreever bliss seems to me that our compass is broken.


I don't understand that sentence.


colubrid1 - We just have to know that our minds are tainted. We don't think like God.


And who made us with this limitation?


colubrid1 - Therefore trying to get into His eternal mind and figuring out why He does things the way He does is useless.



Then I presume I can ignore anything else you might want to tell me about this God?

Prof.
10/28/11 2:48 PM
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colubrid1
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prof - 
colubrid1 - 

Guess what Prof. god kills people. That is a fact.


Sure. But then I hope you won't in the next breath try to say God is "good" or deserving of our moral admiration.

colubrid1 - We will all die. While it was never meant to be that way. It is now a fact.


"never meant to be that way?"

How is it an Omnipotent, Omniscient Being creates scenarios "he never meant" to be? Rather a contradiction, there.

Of course, maybe you don't think God is the Know-It-All that other Christians believe in.


colubrid1 -

To assume that we need to die just to end up in foreever bliss seems to me that our compass is broken.


I don't understand that sentence.


colubrid1 - We just have to know that our minds are tainted. We don't think like God.


And who made us with this limitation?


colubrid1 - Therefore trying to get into His eternal mind and figuring out why He does things the way He does is useless.



Then I presume I can ignore anything else you might want to tell me about this God?

Prof.





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGR4SFOimlk&feature=player_detailpage
10/29/11 3:11 PM
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Ridgeback
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 Prof.

I will respond briefly since I am short on time.  You seem to want to have your cake and eat it when it comes to the nature of humans.  Either we are free moral agents who make real moral decisions in some meaningful sense or we are not.  If we are not then there is no condemnation or salvation since mere animals have no moral culpability and therefore no agency in what they become over time.  No one that I know of would deny that each person's genetic make up and environmental experience will be mitigating factors in moral decisions, but there is still a decision.  Most pedophiles prey on children because they were molested.  Of course they never asked for it.  And of course the decision not to pass that on to another generation is a very hard and heroic one, but we still expect pedophiles not to act out on their desires even if their desires came about because someone else preyed upon them.  Lots of Christian writers have pointed out that since we don't know the internal reality of a person it is very hard to judge the significance of their decisions.  What is easy and of no merit for one person may be the most monumental decision of another person's life.  All of this has always been taken into consideration.

If God is a Trinitarian life of self-giving love, and he makes certain creatures that he wishes to share that life with, then there is something that he won't be able to force.  They can't freely choose to give of themselves and join in that life unless they are really free.  But that real freedom means people are capable of choosing themselves as a first priority over the concerns of others and the communal life of God.  We see this all the time.  People choose themselves over others in a million ways and commit great evil in the process.  Lots of people on their death beds are full of hate, reject reconciliation and forgiveness with their loved ones, and die in a state of hardened bitterness.  Because you can't decide if humans are really free you want to blame God for what turns out bad but simultaneously give credit to humans who make decision that turn out good.  You can't have it both ways.

As I noted in my previous post, in Orthodoxy we don't believe in cartoon versions of a loving God who would simply give up on people at some arbitrary point.  But he will bring evil to an end and for some people that might mean their chance to repent is over.  If people have made enough free choices that have formed them into self-directed people and then they are placed in a reality in which the strong can no longer prey upon the weak, that doesn't mean they will internally accept that reality.  In Orthodoxy we believe that all humans are raised on the last day and all humans have the material conditions of paradise, but what they have freely done with their internal state through many free choices is not something God is going to change by force because that would eliminate the possibility of any creature joining in his Trinitarian life.  
10/29/11 5:27 PM
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prof
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Ridgeback,

Ridgeback - Either we are free moral agents who make real moral decisions in some meaningful sense or we are not. If we are not then there is no condemnation or salvation since mere animals have no moral culpability and therefore no agency in what they become over time.


You'd actually have to provide an argument for that assertion. At the moment it's a non-sequitur. That we are "animals" does not explain how we would lack of moral culpability. So at the moment you are using the all too common tactic of deflationary language. It's like me making an argument by stating: "The Bible is just a book." It's true the Bible is a book. But to say it's "just a book" is to miss the important details, what the words on the page actually mean to people, that separate the significance of the Bible from, say, a Nancy Drew mystery.
Anyone using the "it's just a Book" language to ignore the characteristics that give the Bible it's significance is just being dumb. You don't wanna use the same tactic do you?

Similarly, yes we are animals. But that says nothing about the obvious, real differences that exist between animals. Mice can not construct cars, jets, computers, the internet, do physics, write poetry, etc. And the specifics become EXTREMELY important depending on what capability we are debating: moral deliberation being a rather important difference between us and many animals.
So you don't get to just assert we as animals would not have moral culpability.

Ridgeback -
No one that I know of would deny that each person's genetic make up and environmental experience will be mitigating factors in moral decisions, but there is still a decision.


I know. I already said that. The "choice" half of the equation we already agree on.

Of course we condemn a criminal's actions despite whatever is in her/his history. That person remains morally responsible for her/his actions. But if there were ALSO someone who had freely chosen to perform an action that he knew would cause later criminal, immoral behavior in someone else, THAT person would ALSO be morally culpable for his actions. (So as to your example: Both the paedophile AND his abuser are morally guilty for their actions).

The question is: Given some portion of human nature inclines people toward sin/evil, is a God who created humans not culpable as the knowing cause of human nature? (And for much of the environment that creates, or feeds, human nature, including our foibles and our sinning?)

You haven't answered that question. I don't see how you can get around an All Powerful, All Knowing Creator God as not being responsible for our nature.

We KNOW that humans are BORN with in-built cognitive biases that reliably cause us to make false attributions - self confirmation bias, observer effects, etc, and that these biases can have awful results that lead us to harm one another (e.g. racism, tribalism and more). How would a God who created us not be culpable for all the influences on our behavior that we did not freely choose to have? (And must often strive to work against)???!!!

(A naturalistic account, for instance evolutionary histories, can offer plausible accounts of the types of biases we have inherited. I've yet to see a theistic account do so).


Ridgeback -
What is easy and of no merit for one person may be the most monumental decision of another person's life. All of this has always been taken into consideration.


But you don't give the answer. So after all this "consideration" what is the answer for the origin of our tendencies, proclivities to sin, etc? Will it be the devil, perhaps?

Ridgeback -

If God is a Trinitarian life of self-giving love, and he makes certain creatures that he wishes to share that life with, then there is something that he won't be able to force.


What that apologetic/theology totally misses is that God clearly does not do enough
to "share" that life with Him. Leaving a tenuous written "record" by largely anonymous authors from an ancient desert tribe has obviously failed to make most of humanity connect with the Christian God, for most of history. I can't accept the love of a God I can not believe even exists, which is the case for many non-religious. Then there are all the other non-Christian religions, and non-Christian supernatural or pagan-like beliefs that God's method of revelation has allowed to flourish...all this confusion. The influences of where and when you are born on your chances of becoming a Christian are simply inarguable. Hence God has to remain responsible for setting the ball rolling on a scenario of such inequity.

Pointing out that God would not want to "force" Himself or His love (which, btw, is not very biblical) no more addresses these problems than me allowing 1/2 my children to die of starvation because I don't want to "force myself" into their lives.

On the issue of Hell: You seem unsure as to whether an eternal fate awaits the (currently) unsaved. Whatever the answer might be, I'd hope you agree that if the answer IS that the unsaved are condemned to eternal suffering, that is morally troubling (and in my view,indefensible).

Prof.
10/29/11 6:08 PM
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RoidsGracie
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Edited: 10/29/11 6:10 PM
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If hell as a place of eternal punishment is actually real, I would curse my parents for bringing me into this world. Even the smallest possibility of being punished for all eternity would be enough for me to prefer to not have been born at all. Now, I realize the need for justice but I wouldn't even wish eternal punishment on the worst rapist or mass-murderer.
 
10/31/11 1:47 PM
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RoidsGracie - If hell as a place of eternal punishment is actually real, I would curse my parents for bringing me into this world. Even the smallest possibility of being punished for all eternity would be enough for me to prefer to not have been born at all. Now, I realize the need for justice but I wouldn't even wish eternal punishment on the worst rapist or mass-murderer.
 

 Let us say that a human has made free choices to the point that he has to prey upon other humans to be happy.  You can say that he dominates them or robs them or rapes them or murders them.  It doesn't matter.  The point is he puts his own desires above the concerns of others.  

Now there are three possible ways a God could deal with this person while not stripping him of his freedom.  And some may argue that a good God would simply annihilate a bad person who won't choose to use his freedom the right way, but that is the same as not having any freedom since there are no real choices and real consequences. 

So this God could:

1. Leave this person in a world where real moral choices are made but others will always suffer at his hands. Therefore, it is a world without justice, which is the one we live in.

2. Recreate the world such that everything is in the light and people are powerless to prey upon each other.  This is the Christian conception of paradise, but it will be Gehenna for our man because he will hate a world where he can no longer feed off of his fellow humans.

3. Create a false reality in which the person thinks he is preying upon real people, but it is all a delusion in his mind.  Since he still has freedom, however, he either discovers that the world is a fake and is in Gehenna of another kind or he continues to become more of a monster and creates his own Gehenna.


Can you think of any other possible outcomes where people remain free, where justice is achieved (not Justice in the sense of punishment but justice in the sense of the poor and weak not being preyed upon) and which won't be a hell for a person like that?  I will be interested in you answer.
10/31/11 4:16 PM
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prof
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Almost all the propositions there are dubious.

But what gets to the heart of the matter I have raised for you resides here:

Ridgeback - 
 Let us say that a human has made free choices to the point that he has to prey upon other humans to be happy.  You can say that he dominates them or robs them or rapes them or murders them.  It doesn't matter.  The point is he puts his own desires above the concerns of others.  



So how do you account for this person having those desires in the first place?

No one fully "chooses" his nature. (And by nature in this sense, I mean something akin to our "constitution").

Something about this person's nature makes him desire to rob and rape people. Something in his nature desires it and it satisfies SOMETHING in his nature to do those things (which is, of course, why he would do them).

Now what you have yet to answer is how this is so, in a way that does not make God morally culpable for our predicament.
Why would God make beings with the impulses and proclivities and desires we have, which combined with our environment, inevitably seem to lead to significant numbers of people trying to fulfill those desires?

Why would the Author Of Human Nature...MAKE us with such a nature?

Apparently you have access to sophisticated answers to such questions. Perhaps you could share these answers?

Prof.



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