Judging God from a limited perspective....

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Pineal, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    If you can't acknowledge the distinction between category mistakes based on personal desire and achievement of ideals you can't begin to understand the issue.
    I wish you would quit flogging dead horses in order to subvert the examples I give (and you wonder why I insist on such extreme examples when discussing things with you?) .

    (IN fact its quite common - a person sets out to try a natural therapy and dismiss Chinese medicine because it tastes bad - I even know one Chinese girl who used to cry when she had to go see the Chinese doctor pleading with her parents to give her injections instead ^^ )

    If they are not willing to accommodate bad tasting medicine, period, as a necessary reversal in the pursuit of the ideal (ie better health) it most certainly does.
    If a child chooses to take green pills it is not at all irrational - it is (in most cases) a category error based on green lollies.

    The reason I choose such extreme examples to expand on points I make is because you fertiley invest your brain in accompanying them with a host of other conditions in order to remove them from the context that I made them in - therefore I am forced to find examples to curb this habit of yours.
    You miss the point.

    "The stuff that actually makes you better" is the authority - to cite another (what you will no doubt label irrational) example, drinking water is the authority that governs issues of bodily hydration - one's "personal" needs ("its gotta be green, it's gotta be salty, its gotta be mixed with alcohol etc") only move towards solving the issue of hydration when they are compliant with the authority. (Please don't say "oh but you could have it IV or channeled through the rectum")
    If you don't have a requirement for persons to be parents in order to discuss issues of parenthood or americans in order to discuss amercian issues of state, you shouldn't have a problem with this.
    (IOW the length and breadth of this forum is made up of persons representing categories of knowledge beyond their authority)

    Its a common theme of science fiction and clear example of personal desire combing with issues of astronomy/science that clearly distinguishes itself (on account of its personally driven nature) from the later.
    The idea is to help you understand the distinction between authoritative knowledge categories but I am starting to think that you simply have a hang up with the word authority.
    There are more pertinent examples from "real life" - like the asian doctor (I think?) a few years back who botched splitting stem cells in order to fool the world - but I chose this scenario because it is not so open ended and open to extrapolation
    which is all part of "engineering a god/guru to fulfill one's insignificant needs " (whether for the sake of critique or protecting one's faith), which, as mentioned earlier on, cannot take one anywhere except the wrong direction.
    I would say understanding that there are issues that surround personal happiness that go beyond one's personal body is a key ingredient of adult life - never mind whether one is opening a gross materialist or theist.

    My point is that sense gratification and renunciation are dead end careers since its all about the body (which as we all know takes a predictable course). IOW if one accepts either of them as the final last word in spiritual pursuit they both lead to conflation of desire etc. Sure there are some schools that tend to favour one approach over the other but its not too hard to see spiritual personalities acting in both forms (for instance i think jesus only had one renounced disciple - the others were all married)
    You also find spiritually established persons with wife children etc doing the same thing.

    If you think the epistemological challenge is about renunciation/sense gratification you are barking up the wrong tree

    I think it was you who introduced the notion of renunciation.

    I was talking about how issues that are ontologically superior to one's self occur on a platform of an authoritative system of knowledge. Even when such models are found to be lacking or built on an incorrect platform (as is the case with many scientific lines of thought) the ideas are ALWAYS refined/updated/superseded on the said platform.

    Common enough to warrant a safety label .... obviously aimed at persons capable of making the correct knowledge authority judgement as opposed to those that can't ....

    But they are not doing precisely the same thing. Everytime I provide you with a clear example to illustrate the distinction between working under an authority of knowledge and working in accordance with one's own whim you either invest the scenario with extra details to explain how the two can meet or declare it void.
    Well of course but that is just how knowledge works.
    For instance repeated criticisms of pill choice based on colour could be justified as a very rudimentary introduction to responsible adulthood

    Whatever hope of launching into a valid criticisms of a deity by a non-theists certainly doesn't entail extrapolating one's bodily experience to god ("If I was god I would ... yada yada").
    Much like whatever hope of launching into a valid criticism of medication certainly doesn't entail extrapolating one's experience of lolly colors to pharmaceuticals ("The red ones are good for you and the green one's give you minty breath").

    The reason is because both are category errors (Humans aren't omni and lollies are not medication)

    the ability is simply to entertain the knowledge categories as they are given - IOW the notion of active ingredients in drugs radically confounds issues of colour and taste that establish the categories of lollies ... much like the notion of being omni and the summum bonum radically confounds operating out of a limited self hood in a potentially hostile/sustaining environment populated with other similarly limited entities
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's the traditional problem of evil. The problem I have with the kind of 'see-no-evil' theistic casuistry that you describe is that it basically makes human moral language and concepts meaningless. If God's ordering the Hebrews to commit genocide is interpreted as good, then it's hard to imagine what bad might be. Another problem is that if we hold God to a weaker moral standard than we hold ourselves, then we would seem to be suggesting that God is our moral inferior and not a suitable object for our worship. God needs to be better than we are, not worse.

    They embrace their myth. Then they insist that everything else in life must revolve around the myth, with the myth as the universe's rock-solid center, because the myth is about what's supposedly the highest being there is.

    So if human concepts of right and wrong conflict with the mythical stories, then too bad for our human concepts of right and wrong. But they don't typically say it quite so bluntly, they say instead that God is a higher standard, beyond human comprehension, so that we mustn't try to judge him by our standards. But he's still good though, the word still applies to him somehow.

    Actually, there are theological tendencies that would say that God is Power and God is Will, and that he's beyond good and evil entirely. We see hints of that in some Protestant theology (and secularized, in Nietzche). Good and evil are God's law for mankind, God's creations, and don't apply to God himself, who does entirely as he chooses.

    But most Christians still want to believe in a God of love, and still want to believe in their hearts that God is the essence of good.

    What many theists can't bring themselves to accept is that not only does God supposedly judge man, but man simultaneously judges God.

    We live in a world in which there are multiple religious paths. We must choose which one to follow, or perhaps we might choose not to follow any religious path at all. That's an existential choice and can't be avoided. Even if we mindlessly go with our parents' religious tradition, the one we were born into, that's still ultimately our own choice.

    So how should we go about choosing from among candidate religious traditions? What standard can we use?

    We can't use a transcendental standard, because we are finite human beings. The only standard that we have, the only standard that we can possibly use, is the Earthly human standard of our hearts and our intellects. So we have no choice but to judge God according to our human understanding of what 'good' and 'evil' mean.

    God may indeed be incomparably greater than that, but he has to be at least that.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It doesn't. We need to look at the whole picture.
    God is also defined as the One Who Gives Life - God is the only one who can kill your body, and then give you another one.
    So even if God kills people, He also gives them new bodies.

    Let's not forget what happened to the Hebrews afterwards.

    Countless universes emanate from Him. How could He not be better than us.

    A big part of the problem may be simply the politics of interpersonal communication between the theists and the non-theists.
    In the sense that current personal issues direct or overshadow the theological arguments.

    God is defined as the source of everything. Thus, He is the source of good too.

    We can be sure that we are judging concepts of God, but I'm not sure we can judge God.

    My suggestion is: By being in the present moment, as much as possible.

    Being aware of the many existing religions as is the default in our multicultural, multireligious world, we are put into a virtual, abstract place that takes us away from our actual present life.
    It is impossible to solve virtual problems or virtually make real decisions.

    I think that if one currently does not have a strong pull toward a specific religion, then one is in a place where a decision about choosing a specific religion simply cannot be made.

    IOW: One's situation can be that one is head over heels involved in contemplation and discussion of religiousness, but does not have a real personal interest in religiousness.

    This is the essence of religious addiction: one is using religion as a way to distract oneself from one's present problems.
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  7. Pineal Banned Banned

    In specific you may be correct. In general I disagree. IOW I think theists need to makes space for reactions to the problem of evil and not simply dismiss them. Which in fact some religious do do. I have encountered religious people who will say that they do not understand how things are really OK, but they move forward on faith, sometimes adding 'given the feelings that have about God being good'. At this point the theists is acknowledging that they also do not feel in a position to judge from a knowledge base, let alone explain it to others. Another position is that the theist can say that they will try to relay the understandings presented in scripture or by their leaders, since this is in line with being a member of the religion, but that this knowledge they are relaying is not something they can take responsibility for. This often takes the form of quoting scripture and/or leaders. IOW this information is presented not at their personal knowledge but as part of the religion that they love and consider true to the best of their abilities. Again this is not taking the position that they can evaluate God and the way things are and decide they are fine while not allowing theists this same ability, since they are not making the claim this is their own knowledge or explanations, but rather is something they are passing on.

    The ones who will not do these things have, I think, committed epistemological hypocrisy, unless they are willing to take a stand as a special case, which few will do, though perhaps Knowledge91 would.
  8. Pineal Banned Banned

    Of course, but it seems to me you are missing the point. They are saying that non-theists or theists who are critical cannot have these abilities.

    It would be like me saying that you Wynn, in this precise disagreement with me here, are limited and cannot judge this issue - while I go on an explain it to you.

    They are not merely disagreeing, they are saying that I am a fallible limited human being so I cannot judge and explain, AS IF evaluating and coming to a positive conclusion is not judging and explaining.

    Again my dictator example. It would be like those who like what the dictator does or just leader does can explain why the leader is good and do this. When critics of the leader are critical, those in favor say, Oh, you cannot judge, you are a limited person who cannot judge a great man like our leader.

    I don't consider LG's disagreement as a failure on my part. Nor, I am quite sure, does he consider mine a failure on his part.

    I haven't read it. I am not saying they should stop. I am pointing out the hypocrisy in that Shut up and formally or publically not accepting the poor philosophy behind it. Sometimes, I have found, saying something out loud to a relevent person or writing it as I have done here can set a boundary in my mind from that point forward. I am less likely to be penetrated by such hypocrisy.

    Of course I can still be surprised when people don't change their minds, but this is not really what my goal is. That others on the side might find something interesting is a hope, but again not a goal.
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It could help.

    My impression of what is happening in some of your exchanges with esp. theists here is that you are saying No to them and simultaneously expecting that they would acknowledge you and your justifications for saying No.
    Perhaps with a secret hope they would say "Yes, we see now, you are right to reject us." (Of course, if they actually would say that, it likely wouldn't count for you, because you are rejecting them.)

    As for the epistemological problems you bring up: They can be turned right back at you.
    You are just as sure of your epistemological foundations as they are of theirs.
    You criticize them for that surety and accuse them of hypocrisy.
    But the same can be done to you.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I wrote:

    Wynn writes:

    My point is that if God is portrayed by the tradition as doing things that would make even Adolph Hitler recoil in horror, then insisting on calling those actions "good" empties the word 'good' of its meaning. 'Good' becomes consistent with any action whatsoever, and therefore 'good' no longer marks any moral distinction with 'evil'.

    I wrote:

    Wynn writes:

    It's hard to see how human beings can be held to a higher moral standard than God. If God's supposed to be a suitable object for our worship, then God has to satisfy a higher standard than we meet, not a lesser one.

    Well, our concepts of God either truthfully refer to something beyond themselves, or else they don't. But either way, we still have to decide whether the thing that we are conceptualizing, real or not, is a suitable religious object.

    My point was that we can only make that judgement by applying our finite human standards. Obviously God (the concept and whatever it refers to) doesn't have to be limited by our standards, but a deity has to at least satisfy them. As a minimum condition, God has to meet the kind of moral expectations that we humans have for each other.

    If he fails at that, then he's not a proper god at all. If such a being exists as anything more than myth, then it would be more akin to a super-powered space-alien out of science-fiction. Humanity's most noble course of action might be to bravely if hopelessly stand in opposition to the space-monster in the name of higher moral principle.

    Seen in that light, Satan may be the most sympathetic character in the tradition, the noble one who is prepared to stand up and say 'No!' to omnipotent evil, even in full knowledge that the stand is suicidal and ultimately hopeless.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I see no need to limit myself to the popular versions of the Abrahamic religions, so theodicy and the suitability of the Abrahamic conceptions of God as a "worshippable religious object" are not obligatory issues for me.

    However, even from the perspective of the popular versions of the Abrahamic religions, it remains that individuals are defined as being fully dependent on God (ie. dependent on God for the air they breathe, the food they eat, the metabolism in their body, the quality of their consciousness etc.).
    It is not logically possible that a fully dependent entity could offer valid criticism of the one they are fully depending on.
  12. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    So children cannot criticize their parents?
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Children do not depend on their parents as fully as living beings depend on God, so the comparison doesn't hold.

    And the issue is valid criticism, not just any criticism.
  14. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    So people have no legitimate complaint if God should do or command an immoral act?
  15. Pineal Banned Banned

    I disagree with them on some issues. I have not said they cannot really know because they are in some category. You are weighing in with an evaluation of me as if it fits with my specific issue here, but it does not. You are merely using this as an opportunity to get out your judgments of me. I see nothing connecting your criticism of me with what I wrote about one group granting itself an ability the other group, per se, cannot have, even though both are fallible humans. This is different from merely disagreeing.

    No, they do not have admit that I am right to reject their answers to the problem of evil, something you seem not to do either. I wish they would admit that they cannot simply dismiss me since I have a negative evaluation on grounds that should also dismiss their ability to have a positive one. I have no problem with them being satisfied with their solutions to the problem of evil.

    Actually no. You are still not getting the issue I raise in the thread. I am not saying they cannot be certain or correct. I am saying that their grounds for dismissing me apply to them also.
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Your grounds for dismissing them can be applied to you also.

  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    How is that question supposed to make sense?
  18. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Are you saying it's impossible because God is beyond morality?
  19. Pineal Banned Banned

    The topic of the thread has to do with an argument on their part that I am critical of. Address that argument if you want to be on topic.
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It's impossible because we are not beyond God.
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I am addressing it. Apparently in a way that you don't like.

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