The right of God to judge

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Alaric, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    Lets say there was a guy named Jack who, instead of jumping to conclusions and blindly accepting everything his parents and society told him, actually made an effort to understand the world around him and the way people think, and why they believe in so many radically different worldviews. He read up on science, he read all the main holy books of the different religions, he studied philosophy and he discussed issues of ethics and metaphysics and science with all manner of people and educated himself about the changing patterns of beliefs through the ages. He then came to the conclusion that religion was a social construct derived from a society's need to describe the world and unify a people under a common system of moral beliefs and common history, as well as satisfying an individuals need to there to be a higher purpose to life. He declares himself an atheist who is determined to live a life of according to his own moral principles, dedicating his life to the enrichment of his own life and the lives of others is the way that he believed would provide the most benefit to humanity. He actively promoted open discussion on all issues so that mankind may get closer to determining the actual nature of the world around them and developing a universally accepted ethically system, in as far as it were possible.

    Let's also say there was a guy, Jim, who, out of respect for his parents and society and his own wishes to get ahead by not challenging the status quo, unquestioningly believed in the religion (which indeed required true faith, trust, and respect of authority) he had been brought up in, and unquestioningly followed all its precepts, without thought to their value to the greater society.

    And lets say there was a guy James, who, as curious and independent as Jack, pursuing the same line of inquiry, comes to the conclusion that Jim's religion is in fact true.

    Who is of greater value to society? Imagine that Jim and James happened to be correct in their belief - what should this God do with the three once they're dead (assuming that James' and Jim's religion includes reward for believers in the afterlife)?

    The God could, for example:
    Reward Jim the most for unquestioning obienence. Thereby declaring that you should blindly accept whatever you are told and hope your religion is the right one.
    Reward James the most for understanding the religion. Thereby declaring that only smart people who are capable of understanding the religion are worthy of reward, and contradicting the religion's value of faith and trust.
    Reward Jack the most for the good he attempts to accomplish in the world, dedicating his life to his fellow man instead of God. Thereby declaring that the precepts of his own religion were false and misleading, given that there would be no need of the religion if Jack's example was what God actually admired most.
    In any case, if God were fair, he would be declaring that it was equally possible for either Jack, James or Jim to arrive at the 'right' solution, and that those that were punished did something 'wrong'.

    What would be the most moral response by God (not just among these responses)?
    Is there anything required by a religion for James' example to be realistic?
    Can God reward or punish as He wishes, or are there certain courses He must take in order to be a 'just' or 'good' God?
    What, if any, is the distinction between 'evil' and 'sin'?
    Are good deeds most important, or is it belief in the right religion, or is belief in the right religion required to do good deeds? If the last one, how do we know they are good deeds?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    Sounds a little like me.

    Then he continues with the same religion, only replacing God with himself...
    - and then he dies, rich and influential, or poor and unhappy.
    Sounds like an idiot, or just incredibly selfish.

    That depends on whether they were of any value to God. Of course, all three were equally valuable to Him, but did they follow a dead god or a living One? Did they accept that whatever they did in this life, and however they came to their conclusions, they would be held accountable for every thought and action. Did they live their lives for God, or for themselves? Because if they just gave it to the world, it would have greedily eaten up everything they gave and afterwards left them rotting in the grave.

    He could ask Jim why he never listened to what he was told, why he didn't serve God out of gratefulness rather than duty, or God could commend him for holding on to his faith in the face of much opposition, because he had a living relationship with Him and knew his God was the right one - the one who had forgiven his sins and accepted him as a son.

    Or expose his hypocrisy because even though he knew so much, he never loved, proving he never understood what he thought he knew. Maybe he took more pride in his own knowledge than in God's wisdom, who chose to use the foolishness of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). Or maybe he used his knowledge to his own advantage and he never strengthened anybody's faith or trust in God. Then all his knowledge meant nothing.

    Reward Jack for putting the world first and God second? I don't think so. Jack merely proved that God's will was good, but refused to give God credit for it. He stole his own life from God even while building God's kingdom.

    In all fairness, God would say that genuine faith was all He desired, declaring that neither Jack, James or Jim had any excuse to have more faith in themselves than in God. What they did wrong was to take away faith in others, not realizing the true needs of people weren't material, but spiritual.

    He has to be true to himself. A just God cannot be unjust. That means that every deed and every life will be weighed and judged. But God can show mercy on whom He pleases by substituting himself in the place of their punshment - not because He is more able to bear it, but because He makes it possible for them to bear it.

    You don't believe in a religion, you believe in a God. Religion can't save you. Because belief is really just faith in that which will justify you, and faith that your case will be handled by someone who cares for your rather than someone (or something) than has no knowledge of you, like a law. If nature can't prove your innocence when tested, then it's no use having faith in it. If like with Job, Satan accuses someone of not having genuine faith, who will testify for him, if only God can judge what true faith is like?

    Good or evil are things judged by a moral law (just like right and wrong are things judged by a legal system). Something might be "right" in your eyes, but still evil to society. But ultimately, sin or righteousness are things judged by God, and they take precedence over all the others. Something might be "good" in the eyes of the world, but still considered sin by God.

    From the commandments we learn what God considered right and wrong, from that we can learn their moral counterparts, and that's what exposes sin. That's all the commandments could do: it could never expose what is truly "good", because only God is good. That's what Jesus helped to rectify: he showed us that God considers faith an acceptable sacrifice for what we don't know, and also that it's no substitute for what we do know. That's why by doing "the right thing" you only expose that you know the difference between right and wrong, but without faith you aren't willing to admit that you might not know everything required to perfect it. So you just succeed in condemning yourself with no hope of salvation.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2004
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    The real question is, whose judgement matters? If the Christian God didn't appreciate my actions, I wouldn't give a damn, given the biblical accounts of his version of 'good'. However, if Nelson Mandela criticized me, I would feel devastated.

    ...But the world would be better off - whether the world rewards him for it or not is not important for a true philanthropist. Actions solely for God, however, get you to heaven, so these actions committed with no regard for the world around you are therefore purely selfish. (Fortunately doing good for others usually benefits yourself.) Given that belief in God is a matter of faith, while people are for all intents and purposes undeniably real, living for yourself and your fellow humans makes a lot more sense than each living for their own particular Gods, resulting in actions that conflict with one another. I doubt you would appreciate it if someone were to jeopradize you or your loved ones' safety by doing something they believed was demanded by Zeus.

    Why should anyone do anything out of gratefulness? Surely a good God would not be so vain as to demand servitude for good deeds. If someone helps you in any way, you say 'Thank you', hopefully make friends, and move on. Also, what right does any God have to forgive sins? Forgiveness is only relevant between the wrongdoer who is remorseful of the wrong committed, and the person wronged - noone else.

    I never said he 'never loved' or 'shamed the wise'.

    Explain to me how we are 'owned' by God. Is this moral? If you created your own little world, would you demand complete subservience from your creations? Hopefully not. If you were good, you would want the best for them and therefore endow them with the necessary qualities to figure it out for themselves.

    Faith is blind, unquestioning belief - like Jim.
    Remember, Jack came to an honest decision that God didn't exist based on the evidence. Unless you can prove that every human being can and should easily come to the conclusion that the Christian God is real, then having more faith in themselves (whatever that means) is perfectly justifiable.
    I don't even know what this means. I thought you were against having faith in others and that you should only have it in God?

    But we can't be true to ourselves? We have to be punished for honestly making up our own minds?
    This tautology explains nothing - He is not just because He says He is. Define justice.
    If God is just, He must show it by treating everyone fairly, not arbitrarily granting leniency when He feels like it. A core part of justice is consistency.

    You are simply saying that you have faith (i.e. blind belief) that your actions will be 'OK' in the eyes of some greater power. Why do you care? If blessings and eternal life are all you care about, you cannot be good.

    Good and evil may well be judged by a moral law, but if so, then God must obey that law. If He does not, then God is evil. If God determines morality, then there is no moral law. If only God knows the moral law, then we cannot be responsible for our actions, because we cannot know any better.

    Lets say I believed in a God different from yours. He then 'came to me in a vision' and commanded that I kill you, for being a heretic. Do I: a) comply without question, as God determines all right and wrong, and if people object then thats OK because God takes precedence; b) question the orders and apply some test to ensure the validity of the message, or c) flatly refuse because it violates my own personal moral code and assume it was the Devil or the amphetamine I was taking when I received the 'message'? Anything other than a) requires your own judgement, not blind faith.
    Good requires compassion for your fellow man. If you do good, and God punishes you for it, then God is not good. Even if there was the remotest possibility that the Christian version of God exists, I would happily go to Hell with a snow-white conscience, should He send me there, as it would prove that good and evil have nothing to do with acceptance to Heaven. Of course, the very existence of a Hell would prove that God was sadistically cruel.

    This makes no sense to me. The whole problem with faith is that you are unwilling to admit that you might be wrong about the existence of God - you do not question it. How do you know what 'the right thing' is? How do you know you're following the right Holy Book? Etc etc.

    The simple fact is, to deem God just, you must judge Him according to your own moral standard. If you do not have a moral standard, you are a psychopath, a zombie, oblivious to the consequences of your actions and mindlessly performing acts according to how you think your God would want. Because you must take responisibility for your own actions, no matter who or what is commanding you, in effect God is not needed. You don't not kill because God says so; you don't kill because you understand the value of life that others have, recognise the damage done to their loved ones, and understand that society will unravel if anyone could just kill as they pleased. In which case, it doesn't matter what God feels about the matter - you simply don't do it. We don't need God to determine right from wrong, indeed we are immoral if we rely entirely on Him. Ergo, a God has no right to judge us at all.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2004
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    Yet if Nelson Mandela was threatening and criticizing your freedom, back when he was a political activist, you might have been in the front of the line to put him into prison. It's only in retrospect that you will admit that his version of 'good' outweighed yours. But ignorance didn't make you right. If your actions lead to Mandela's imprisonment, I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate it either. Then his forgiveness would mean more to you.

    If a person can do something good without any benefit to himself, ir only means that its possible. But does the pleasure he gets from it mean he being insincere? Even a true philantropist dies like the meanest criminal. Then what did his good deeds help him? Can he prevent anybody else from dying? Only God can do that. And if he believes only God can do that, it doesn't make him any less human, or less sincere. It only increases his responsibility towards others. To the extent that he might be called to help others even if it doesn't have any reward - not even personal satisfaction.

    Because sins are against God. It's doing wrong to God. Helping strangers in need without expecting a reward isn't something special - it's the minimum God expects! Doing any less than that is a sin. "Love your neigbour as yourself", remember? That's a law. What God rewards is faith and perseverance. Good deeds add nothing to your salvation, they just confirm that you know what's the right thing to do.

    He gave us life, He created us - in only that sense we are His. But then his creation disowned Him, and He gave us over to our own wills. When we took our lives for ourselves, we actually stole it from God - but even while He could forgive that, He warned us that our way of life leads to death and notback to Him as He intended it to. So He bought our lives back from the world. Jesus payed the price with his own life. That means you owe your life to Him. How do you say thanks to that? By insisting that it never belonged to God in the first place? I don't think so...

    Look, for a person to come to any kind conclusion, their faith should be greater than their doubt in that area. You can't prove that God doesn't exist, or find evidence that this life is all there is. On the other hand, you know for a fact that you will die no matter what you believe. That's a major contradiction right there: you're alive for a moment, but you're dead in the grand scheme of things. As far as the universe is concerned, you don't even exist - it pays no attention to life, it doesn't provide any evidence for life. If another being investigated the universe, it would find no reason to believe 'life' even existed, except, of course, for life itself.

    So what you need is "living" proof. Just like another living being can testify that you do, in fact, exist, so our existence can testify that God exists. And Jesus was the testimony. The conclusion is as easy or as hard as you wish to make it - because, frankly, you are the best evidence there will ever be. That's what I meant with having faith in yourself: if you never could, can you grant yourself life, now or ever? All Jack did was accept that his death as the only reality worth believing in.

    Not having faith in others, but strengthening the faith of others. To reduce people to chemical accidents is to deny that they're more than that. That's all we can understand about ourselves through science, the rest we understand by faith in ourselves. For instance, we know true love is possible, because we know we can exercise love even if we don't feel like it, that means other people can make the same decision, so we can have faith in their ability to love.

    We have to be true to ourselves - and that means admitting that we believe somethings in spite of doubt, or that we're trying to conform to justice system that we have no idea what it would look like if it were perfect. The "punishment" is there for all to see: death. What leads to it is injustice, immorality, hatred, at the root of which is deceit and selfishness. It's life we're unsure of. Can we expect eternal life? Can we expect justice, or mercy?

    We're not punished for making up our minds - it's just that "making up our minds" entails either accepting our guilt before God, or denying it. And that determines whether we can be forgiven or not.

    It wasn't meant to explain anything. Our system of justice tries to restore what we lost when we were separated from God. As Paul said: when you rebuild a building, you admit you were wrong when you broke it down.

    But God is treating everyone fairly. If He simply ignores sin, He is not being consistent. Maybe this will help:
    Romans 8
    3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.​

    Faith doesn't make the actions OK, it makes them eligble for forgiveness. But a person who persists in actions that are not OK because he cannot be justly forgiven - by placing himself outside the law, he is rejecting the principle on which he was forgiven. Sins are forgivebale, but not pardonable - that's the difference.

    If blessings and eternal life are all that you care about, then you will miss it, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." That's repeated twice in Luke, twice in Matthew, once in Mark and once in John - so obviously that's not considered "faith".

    Moral laws reflect God's nature. He "obeys" them by being who He is. Remember, we were created by Him. We only know justice as it is because of that. God's laws exposed His nature in fallible human terms, then Jesus came to explain what it meant in complete terms, by fulfilling the law as a human himself. We know God's justice by his laws, his morals by his character, and his character through Jesus. He made sure we "know better". If God was evil, then evil would have been "right" in His eyes, wouldn't it? It would probably be morally right in our eyes as well, being his creations. But it isn't. That's why Satan is called the prince of this world, and those who do evil his children - because they certainly don't belong to God.

    That's why God chose only faithful and righteous people to establish His authority among people and "among the gods". You sure could kill me for your god, but it wouldn't be based on your love for him, or based on anything he asked you before - therefore your god would just prove himself unmerciful, even if he had reason to take my life (say, if he was in fact my creator). But what would he gain from my death? Zilch, unless you were somehow representative of his authority. But we're arguing in circles now.

    Let's borrow from our other discussion a bit. God promised only good things for Abraham: life, prosperity, descendents, a nation and a country of his own. And God delivered on His promise: He gave Abraham a son against all reason or expectation. If God decided to take away what He had given, who was Abraham to object? It was obvious Isaac belonged to God and not tom him. He belonged to God himself. What God ordered was to demonstrate love, not evil.

    Abraham was a righteous man - he would never have followed a god who held lower standards than himself. And neither should you (so much for killing me on divine orders, eh?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ) Israel was supposed to be equally righteous, yet they tolerated evil that God wouldn't. So God took away Saul's kingship. That should give a clue to His nature.

    And the whole problem with unfaithfulness is that you are unwilling to admit that I might be right about the existence of God. Doubt is a big part of my faith. It's just that my faith is bigger than my doubt, just like God is bigger than my conscience. If my conscience can determine what's right and wrong, how much more can't God, who created me? The Bible confirms what my conscience suspects. And Jesus provided what I was unable to achieve. Therefore I owe Him my life, literally and spiritually.

    The difference between you and me is that you think your moral standards are higher than God's, and I don't. I'm aware of my shortcomings, morally, mentally and physically. I serve the God of love, and loving can never be mindless, no matter how blindly you practice it. I don't kill because it's not my prerogative - it's God's. If I were in the army I might think differently, but I'd be no more or less guilty of sin than I am now. Before Jesus came, it might have been necessary to apply capital punishment to fulfill the law, but since then it's become clear that we're crucifying God every time we kill someone on our own authority - it has become excluded. God gave the authority to Jesus, and He has asked us to show mercy as God has shown me mercy. I don't know if that applies to someone who desires death rather than mercy (such as shooting a suicide bomber before he can detonate), but I have faith that I will know what to do when I'm faced with such a decision.

    To summarize: God did not give me the ability to reason and choose just so that He could make them obsolete again. But I will subject my reason and my judgment to the same high standards I expect He subjects me to, with the knowledge He will forgive me when I fail. I just hope I don't cause anybody harm when I do.

    By the way, similar questions and answers in Heidelberg confessions might prove useful.
  8. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    As long as we are not all endowed with an inherent, unabiguous moral compass, we have to develop our moral standards as we gain knowledge and experience. Where we deem that we are wrong, we must understand why we made the mistake, how to avoid it in the future, make restitution as necessary, and move on.

    But if he doesn't believe in God, and doesn't believe that it is possible (or perhaps even desirable) to stop people from eventually dying, his actions to make the world a happier place for people while they are alive is still sincere and good, right? If he does believe that there is a God that will save them, fine, he may indeed have a responsibility to help them gain immortality at God's side, but you have a lot of gods and even versions of Christianity to choose from, and you will always end up justifying your particular faith by some standard that is removed from God, because even proving that He exists doesn't prove He is good, or that what He commands is desirable.

    Regarding personal satisfaction, if you don't have it when you do something, you probably shouldn't do it. If you truly understand why what you are doing is good, you must derive personal satisfaction from it. Again, don't trust, understand.

    How do you know what's the right thing to do, compared to, say, the Islamic laws? By what standard to you compare and judge the different religions and interpretations? Don't you think it would be better if we did good deeds for the pleasure of seeing other people happy, rather than for satisfying God's expectations?

    If you built an artificially intelligent robot that was self-aware and fully capable of disobeying you, what rights do you have over it? Answer: none. You can suggest that it do this and that for its own sake, you can describe undesirable consequences should it hurt you or others, but you cannot expect it to do what you tell it to do, nor judge or punish it for doing otherwise except by referring to a moral standard that treated all sentient beings equally, that is, one that was not simply based on your will.

    Coming to a conclusion requires understanding, not faith.
    The rest makes the same flaw as Pascal - worshipping God as some kind of insurance policy and disregarding the fact that there are tons of very different proposed paths to 'eternal life'. A life followed by eternal oblivion isn't that bad, you know. I certainly wouldn't mind if humanity could find a way of immortalising itself, fulfilling its potential, dominating the universe etc, but I don't like the idea of individuals living forever. Take what you get and make the most of it. The fact that others can get in the way is why sound sensible universal morality is so important.

    Our existence proves nothing about there being a God. Whether you should choose the most reasonable worldview, or the most optimistic, is another interesting discussion. However, we all still have to live with each other, meaning we need people to have beliefs that are based on logic, not faith, otherwise we can't justify anything that we do, with suicide bombings being the only arguments.

    This I agree with - at least to the extent that we fill in the gaps in our scientific knowledge of ourselves with what experience teaches us, and that we belief that other people are not radically different from ourselves. But science can never denegrate love or other feeling, only help us understand them.

    There isn't any proof that anyone has lived on after death (I believe the immaterial soul to be an impossibility, but that is beside the point here). We need a reason why certain deeds are rewarded during life or after death.

    Why should someone who has honestly made up his mind and chosen the path he deems most correct, like Jack, be either punished or not forgiven? It's certainly not as though your beliefs are obvious.

    We are trying to figure out the rational method of determining sinful deeds from others. It doesn't help referring to God's law - then someone else refers to their God's law, ad infinitum, and we don't get anywhere. How do you judge right faith from wrong? And because people arrive at different conclusions with all honesty, how can God punish one and reward the other?

    I don't understand this.

    We have a good idea of good and evil because their consequences directly affect us, positively or negatively. I believe we can use these guidelines to determine an objective guideline for determining good vs. evil, in which case we don't need God. If we find it, and He slaps Himself on the forehead and says "I told you so," it doesn't matter - what matters is that we understand it ourselves. Personally, I don't think turning the other cheek or killing fig trees are very good examples of moral behaviour, and certainly not stoning blasphemers or putting whole cities to the sword. I demand logic for a moral law to mean something.

    Faithful, yes, but to determine their righteousness we need something to go by.

    Yes but its an example of faith that ends up almost killing a boy. Abe trusted the vision or voice, but it was on authority, not understanding of the morality of it. Would you really accept it if you weren't Christian?

    I wouldn't flood the world for not worshipping me, for example. I do therefore have higher standards than your God. I mean, with books like Joshua you can't blame someone for not quite trusting God's good nature, can you?

    Christianity doesn't make rational sense; common sense explains everything for me. However, what I am interested in here is the morality of belief, and the moral constraints of God, where He possible. See, I can very easily defend my worldview - I can't decide not to believe what I believe. The fact is that it is impossible for God to judge me wrong, as I have merely used what I have. To be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever, I need solid, rational, justifiable reasons that counter my current views. I have no reason to have faith in your particular belief, given all the beliefs there are in the world. Your belief is not 'obvious' in any way, and doesn't exactly comply with modern day morality (the aforementioned book of Joshua is just one example). Neither God, Allah, Buddha or Zeus could possibly blame me for believing what I believe. The only way your views could be valid is if God had no control over what happened to us because of our beliefs, and was warning us - and if the Bible is how He does it, He's not particularly good at it.

    Wouldn't you rather base your actions on good reasons? Again, I have no choice righht now but to trust that you will behave in the way that I think is right. I'm sure we basically agree on many things, but others may not, and all the atheist can do is hope that the different religious people with faith aren't totally screwy.

    You simply have to acknowledge that you have decided - chosen - to believe in God etc. You define good as what God commands, not from some personal conviction or your own experience. You have therefore renounced your right to judge whether my moral standards are higher or lower than God's, as you simply trust that God's are highest.

    Sounds good, but one day I'm going to give you a run-down of my views of objective morality, and show you what I mean about the necessary moral consequences of imperfect knowledge.

    This is very interesting, but next time I'm going to have to make my answers a lot shorter and sticking more rigorously to the point - this has taken hours.
  9. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    I agree, we should try to make it shorter.
    But we are endowed with a moral compass: humanity is trying to align to it like metal filings to a magnetic field. But why do we fail if the goals - peace and harmony, etc. - are so clear and seem so simple? Because there is injustice, immorality, selfishness, lack of self-control... lack of moral alignment.

    The reason that my faith is so strong is that my personal compass - my own moral aligment - corresponds to the alignment Jesus and his disciples taught: where God is the pole, even though it doesn't come close to what God expects. It's a learning process that will never conclude (or at least, only conclude with my death), but the correspondence is enough to convince me that Jesus and his disciples weren't scheming liars, and in turn that God doesn't have a hidden agenda behind false love.

    But aligning ourselves morally and being holy before God isn't the same thing. Morality is just a testimony to Him as our Father, it reveals us as His children, but it doesn't mean we aren't still lost, or don't still need to seek Him. Sure, we can expose evil without God, but that just means we have that ability - it removes the excuse of ignorance. And you have to admit that it isn't because morality is ultimately logical (otherwise there wouldn't be brilliant minds committing murders, for example) but because it's intuitive - human.

    The greatest philantropist on earth could still lie on his deathbed and wonder why on earth he was doing it, why it felt so "right". But chances are that on his mission to do the right thing he had come into contact with God and dismissed Him. He saved others, but he couldn't save himself. Incidentally, this was what people said of Jesus - yet guess what? God saved him. Why? Because He had faith that God could.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2004
  10. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    No no no - morality must not be simply intuitive. If I saw an injured cat on the street and took it to an animal shelter or the vet, I am perfectly well aware of why I do it - I empathise with the cat, I understand that it is suffering and I declare by my actions that I wish that it becomes a rule that others should also attempt to alleviate suffering in the same manner.

    Psychopaths, that is, those who cannot empathise with others, may commit acts we consider wrong, but they are in fact often behaving illogically, because they don't think of the consequences of their actions. The great thing about empathy is that it helps us to act in a way that is good for ourselves and society without having to be great philosophers and work it all out logically. Many well-intended acts are often also illogical if we really examine them, but it often doesn't matter as much. But just think about how different raising children is today - parents may love their kids as much as in the past, but today's parents would be horrified by the way their decendents behaved. We have thought about it a lot more.

    It is by understanding the motives and consequences of my actions that I judge right from wrong, and therefore also judge the rightness or wrongness of a religious doctrine like Christianity. I think you do the same - you say that your moral compass is aligned with Jesus & friends. However, I think that you justify this not by demonstrating the validity of the morality that Jesus espoused, but instead by your need for approval by a governing power. You need to trust your own ability to determine right from wrong; then you can stand before Jesus at your Second Coming with an absolutely clean conscience. Honesty should be the only thing that matters to God. (That way if the actual God is a god that humanity forgot eons ago, and the Christian God is a perversion of the other 'true' God, you're still safe if that God is just).

    I would like you to answer the question about the robot from my last post. What rights does a creator have over its creation (assuming the creation has free will)?
  11. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    It's not only intuitive. The intuitive aspect is only the seed of what it should become. If there wasn't such a common seed, then the phrase "do unto other as you would have done to yourself" wouldn't have had any moral recognition. How many people seriously grow up thinking it means kill other people because you would like to be killed, or steal from others because you would like to be stolen from...

    I'm reminded of the phrase from Hamlet, "Nothing is either right or wrong, but thinking makes it so". Not quite a universal truth, but it gets you there. The truth is, logic doesn't justify anything - especially not morally. Logic is a tool - it doesn't do anything by itself, but it can be used for good or for evil. The initiator of logic determines what it's used for - morality just helps determine what the initiator would use logic for. On the other hand, love isn't always logical (as Mr Spock would say), especially selfless love. Does that mean it has no moral or redeeming value?

    You learn to understand motives only later. Some people never do. You learn the principles first, sometimes from your parents, sometimes from your peers. It's quite true that you might perfectly understand why your friends think busting the liquor store is right, but if it was never brought under your attention that stealing is wrong you might not understand the other side of it. Most acts are only "wrong" because they cause damage. It's a good way to know if something is wrong, but "right" doesn't have such visible reference points. A wrong act will stilll be wrong even if you didn't realize the consequences. Some people are so able to suspend their conscience that they don't feel guilty anymore. They still lie and cheat with all honesty and sincerity available to them. That's what most people do with sin and their relationship with God - they're not willing to admit they could be guilty before Him, and therefore they feel no guilt. Does that mean the consequences disappear? Even if they understand the consequences, they would rather rely on their own moral awareness - in fact, they blame God for the consequences of sin. It's just easier to ignore if the consequences aren't immediate, isn't it? It's easier to live with the guilt (or to feel no guilt) of having stolen something if you never get caught.

    It's not my need for approval of a governing power that motivates my morality, it's what justifies it. It's where I learnt it from.

    The difference is I expect to get caught. I expect to be held to the laws I live by. That doesn't demean my moral responsibility, it heightens it. But it also guarantees my guilt, because the standard is nothing less than perfection. And that's why it's important for me to know that God can justify much more than I can, because He knows me.

    The right to be recognized as its author, for one. We have a big © on our lives.

    Now my question to you is: if that robot decides it's not content with being the loving robot you intended it to be, but wants to become an evil terminator that rules all your other creations with death and destruction, obscuring and depriving them from life under the love you would give them, do you have the right to judge it? Knowing that the chip that enables hate also enables love, and knowing that removing it would disable your robots, do you have the right to separate the bad influence from the good?
  12. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    I agree that logic/reason is a means to an end, a tool - but as a way of tying together different desires. We like to eat, drive fast, have lots of sex, be respected, have interesting lives etc, but some of those desires might be mutually exclusive, at least to some extent. Especially if you are unfortunate enough to have antisocial desires. They are also ranked - some are more appealing than others. Logic helps us reconcile them, and this becomes morality when we try to reconcile our actions with those whom we have to live with. We can understand the point of not stealing, even if we wanted to - society would break down if everyone did it. You might reason that you have a right under your specific circumstances, and you might be right in certain cases, but even then you have to be careful that your desire does not override your common sense. I'm talking here about a morality as a guideline for social behaviour, a set of rules for how a society works best. People have proven time and again that the individual's gut instincts aren't nearly good enough to rely on them.

    Also, the different moral guidelines are technically relative - not stealing is good only if you assume that a well-ordered society is a good thing, which is up to each person to decide. Few would want otherwise, but perhaps that's only because the majority are weak and can't handle chaos and the survival of the fittest. Those who can, and who actively strive for that state of affairs, are not 'wrong' in any objective sense because there is no universal set of rules governing that. They might also be just ignorant of the consequences and change their mind once the chaos begins, but that is beside the point.

    The thing is, this is true whether God exists or not. All God can do is add some consequences to certain actions - 'If you do this, I will embrace you and you will live forever with me; if not, you will die.' This doesn't help us determine right from wrong, it just makes some actions more appealing than others. In effect, it hinders us from developing our moral sense, because we can just stop thinking and do what God tells us to do, instead of really analysing our way of life, understanding others and acting accordingly.

    This is even more important when we realise that Christianity is a choice; part of our responsibility involves analysing the moral implications of our choice of faith. So, you are morally required to think like an atheist no matter what!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    But if there are no negative consequences of an action that you are aware of, then there is likely nothing wrong with it! The thing that determines right from wrong are the consequences, both to yourself and others. I can understand that many actions have positive or negative consequences that are very well hidden, and may not reveal themselves for a very long time, but that's why its so good to talk to older people, get advice etc. But you have decide that it is bad, and understand why - think how many poor people felt guilt-ridden over masturbation throughout the centuries, asked God to forgive them etc, even though noone was hurt by it at all, since its perfectly natural, even beneficial. If they were hurt by the guilt, it was only because they believed that is was bad without ever understanding the reasons why (of which there are none).

    Making yourself and others happy should be justification enough, don't you think? Your desire for accountability is also interesting, but do you really need God for that? If others don't tell you when you're doing something wrong, your conscience will. Perhaps your God and my conscience are the same thing. I can't hide from myself - if I do something wrong, I feel bad, and can't just escape it. My sense of self worth is dependent on how I rate my actions. We learn, we develop, make mistakes etc, but the ultimate test will be when I'm on my deathbed. Will I feel proud and satisfied, or drown in regrets? That is my right and mine alone - people and Gods can form their own opinions about what I should or should not have done, but if they think I should be feeling guilty for this and that, then they should have convinced me of that earlier.

    If he wants to be credited for it, its up to him to prove it to the robots, and its their decision to believe it or not. You can't blame them for not believing something that they feel sounds rather outlandish. You still haven't said why he should be able to demand anything of them. Imagine if you were created to run errands for Dr. Frankenstein, but decided this was an inane waste of your precious life, why shouldn't you be able to rebel? If the Dr. just wanted us to be happy, he should let us go! And if we did, and he decided that he would only reward his creations that stayed with him when he could just as easily give all his creations the same reward no matter their independent choices that derived from their own minds that he himself had created, that would be just plain mean.

    Well, as the creator you could just admit you screwed up and rewire them to love you. Some might, some might not, so it would be just a matter of making them all the way you wanted them to be. Whether they love you or not is simply a matter of their understanding of the world given the resources that you endowed them with, so its all your fault. If you knew that some had decreased ability to live the kind of lives that would make them most fulfilled, its up to you to repair your flaw.

    However, the problem is that they are living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings, and you have no right to determine their fate based on your own ideas of what they should and should not do. If you wanted automatons, make automatons. If you created them with the ability to reflect on their own lives and make their own decisions, then you have to treat them as such, not like automatons. Love them or loathe them as they are, suggest that they do certain things rather than others to make them happier. That is - treat them with respect!
  13. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    There's a good example of relative morality in today's news:
    Steal from whites
    - The leader of a Pretoria-based youth organisation has issued a controversial statement by telling youth to go and steal from white people in the suburbs.

    Faraday Nkoane, the leader of Uhuru cultural club, told 100 youngsters who attended the Human Rights Day celebration at Lebanon township park to go and steal from the whites because "it is the right thing to do".
    As for consequences:
    "Stop stealing from black people because they will deal with you in an African way. They will bewitch you and you will go crazy."

    Sure, they have the choice to decide whether the Christian morality of "do not steal" applies to them, but they can't choose whether a just God exists or not. They're still accountable, even if they become a majority and make their "morality" lawful. And they don't have to feel guilt either - they can justify it:
    "Taking from whites is not a crime because you repossess what belongs to you. But make sure you are not caught," said Nkoane, addressing the youth, most of whom were in Rastafarian colours.

    As you can see, they're not interested in making anybody but themselves happy. And in case you were wondering, it makes perfect common sense to them as well.

    God just doesn't allow us to be ignorant of the consequences - not just locally, but cosmically. I have the same moral capacity as an atheist - we're all equally human after all - but I contend that they have the same ultimate accountability before God their creator than I do. It's just right that justice should apply to everybody, and not only to those who believe in it.

    You didn't screw up, they did! As you said, I didn't want automatons. You can't force something to love you - then it's not love. Your robots might even pretend to love you while sowing destruction. But you have the right to protect those who love you. The point is, if they don't act in your image (and as their creator you will be their highest moral guideline - what else would?). You can't programme love, and therefore you can't programme moral behaviour. You can just enforce it. If you don't agree then why do we have a legal system?

    To put it another way. If you just leave them they will all end up in hell, both the good and the evil robots. They will drag each other to their own destruction. So you have a moral responsibility to determine that those who exemplify the life you created them for see justice. You have a moral responsibility to show them which decisions will destroy them.

    Of course, that's only if you loved them in the first place. Otherwise you could just let them do as they please until there's nothing left. But that's not respect, that's apathy.
  14. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    That article was hilarious and depressing, but I think it also supports my argument better than yours.

    This, and any glance at history, shows that people's inherent moral capacity is pretty weak. We are filled with conflicting emotions, and prioritizing respect of private property is not obviously 'better' than prioritizing justice - which is exactly what they are doing in the article. Their social positions and beliefs about that position make them swallow whole any argument that they have a right to enrich themselves by depriving a wealthier group that they don't like of their property. This is justice to them - they feel wronged, and want to take it back. They may be under the false impression that there is a fixed amount of wealth in the country and the whites own most of it, which is simply a misunderstanding of how the economy works. So what would change their minds? Firstly, we have to get them to accept that we aren't just trying to deprive them of their 'rights' to reclaimation by convincing them otherwise. We could give them a primer in economics, showing that wealth is created, and that capitalism is not a zero-sum game. We could explain that while some redistribution of resources is a good idea, they need that money to be spent on improving their opportunities and their ability to earn a living, rather than giving them a short taste of a rich lifestyle; and that everyone benefits from respecting the law, including themselves. And then you start getting moral, about the consequences to the people from whom you steal. Then they may well be inspired to change their attitudes (those that actually believed in the youth leader). What does Christian morality mean to them? They will simply understand it as the white man trying to use white customs to keep the blacks down - stay poor, and go to God. Don't you agree that they need logical reasons why they should not steal, and to feel empathy? 'What God wants' is not a good argument, even if you can prove that God actually exists. If someone wanted to rob me, I want them to change their mind because they realise why its bad for me, not because they fear punishment or voodoo.

    Actually I think we have to be careful here - we might be confusing morality with good social behaviour (or maybe its just me). However, the purpose of morality is to ensure good social behaviour. If you feel like treating others with respect, great (and you have to admit that not all people are equally able to do this), but its better to understand why you should (and again, some people are just stupid). I am not 'good' because I force myself to behave, or think of God - I don't have an urge to treat others wrongly. And the fact that it my reasoning supports many of my gut instincts makes me even more convinced.

    Any view on justice must necessarily apply to everyone, but what justice is is not agreed upon. People sometimes talk about the severity of punishment as being just or unjust; others would say that justice is merely everyone being equal in the eyes of the law (my view). Still others say that its unjust when people starve when others are wealthy. These are all very different. All we can agree on is that justice is something inherently good. When you say justice, what are you talking about? My whole point with this thread was the fact that its unjust (=unfair) for God to judge different free people with different abilities!

    But love is automatic. Its not a choice. [Actually I want to correct something I said last time - I said that Christianity is a choice, which undermines my whole argument. Belief, as with love, is not a choice. You automatically put together the pieces of information and wind up with the worldview that makes most sense. The choice is whether to investigate further, to open your mind, question the consequences to yourself and others, and so develop your views.] What you end up loving is beyond your control. Its hardwired into your system. So you can't blame them, only yourself, the creator. Your view is disturbing - enforcing love?

    The legal system is based on respect and authority. Agreed? But its only right if it is just and moral and democratically amendable. People must understand it. Not just assume the laws as they are are all for the best. God should come down and answer all our questions regarding His views on right and wrong, for example - He can't just demand obedience, any more than a dictator could.

    Again, the justice problem. I agree completely with the last sentence, however. The creator is the one with the responsibility.

    Why not just settle for the advice? Of course, when you come down and say these things, the people who find it difficult are going to be pretty angry with you. In summary: its immoral to create life with a purpose.
  15. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    Which is why we have a legal system. To inforce a system of morality (I didn't mean we can enforce love, although it looks like it in my sentence). Even a perfectly understood and agreed upon moral system cannot ensure love.

    You can educate and reason with them all you want, but it won't convince them of the principles of love. They grew up in a culture where love and respect was something earned, not given. Christianity, whatever else it might be, is a different culture (more often called a "kingdom"). Only a paradigm shift can change their views on what comprises "justice". My argument was that it's doesn't end internally, although it starts their. It needs guidance, and we find that in common law.

    But even laws suggest some kind of greater responsibility - a common good. The end of the law is to achieve a completely just system for all life, but to what effect? It won't eradicate trespassing, only expose, judge and punish it. Evil is a cancer of the heart, and it needs a change of heart to remove it. Not because there's something wrong with your intentions, but because they don't work towards the ultimate goal of justice - in fact they sabotage it. Just like those youths will sabotage the economy by enforcing their "justice" on it.

    But justice is something that is good only because it defines what is "good". And it tries to enforce it, because what use is knowing the difference between right and wrong if it makes no difference? But by your argument, it's immoral for justice to have such an agenda - because it suggests a direction life must take despite different preferences and abilities (like the preference to be insanely rich and the ability to hack into bank accounts). It has a purpose - to reconcile individual freedoms with a general one, while preserving the integrity of both. It's a delicate balance, but it certainly isn't unfair!

    By doing this, we are imitating God - we are acting like rational human beings, which He created us to be. He didn't create us for evil, and just like we judge it, He will too. We can only emulate justice over a completed life. We can sentence a murderer to life in jail, we "redeem" his crime by punishing it to the best of our abilities, but we can't redeem his life. We can't provide the miracle that could change him, and even if we observe such a miraculous change in his life, only moral considerations give us the authority to pardon him and consider him redeemed - because justice is blind, remember? But mercy isn't.

    Morality isn't just "good social behaviour", it's more. It has to be more. Good social behaviour is something everybody can learn in a loving environment. It sets a standard for being a good, law-abiding citizen, which sets the standards for a legal system that protects such behaviour. But moral behaviour suggests that even people who didn't grow up with a sense of respect and self-worth can be held to the principles learned by more enlightened people. Social order is distilled from love, love sets the precedent for morality, which sets the precedent for justice. It's not an on-off thing, which brings me to the next point:

    It's only automatic for people who know what it is and what it feels like. When your little sister hits you, it's love that prevents you from hitting her back - not justice, not even morality. But for a while there might be a time where your parents have to teach you what love does and doesn't do (usually accompanied by a good spanking). Punishment wouldn't be right if it had no redeeming value. But it only helps so much. If you just didn't listen, does that mean you have no choice but to hit back? If your dad's reasoning didn't make sense to you, can you just establish your own version of morality? Just like God, your parents have both a responsibility and an authority to teach you - again, one that should be governed by love, or be useless. They're establishing a culture.

    If they truly believed love is automatic and moral behaviour is relative, then they have no business telling you what to do. Of course they should tell you why, how it works, etc. to open your mind to enable you to make your own moral decisions. Is "what you end up loving" within their control?

    Christianity has a "parentage" that essentially goes back thousands of years. Believers learned what God's love means over time as well. It didn't come automatically. There is always a choice whether to exercise love or not - especially when it doesn't come naturally. If I could only hope that my parents or girlfriend loved me out of impulse, then what expectance could I have that they would still love me under different circumstances? Or that they would be able to forgive me if I did something that hurt them? I just don't think love comes any more "automatically" than any kind of moral behaviour.

    Can we only live meaningful lives if it doesn't have a purpose? Does being purposeless ensure morality? I doubt it.

    Advice is good and well, but can it save us? You don't just give someone advice about an oncoming car they don't see, or advise a chained-up slave of his freedom, do you? Advice just doesn't cut it. If someone has the knowledge to give sound advice, it follows that he also has the ability to lead us to that conclusion. And if he is the only qualified leader, I would expect him to take up that responsibility with seriousness. If my life depends on it, I won't expect advice, I expect leadership and decisive action.

    Most people resent being led, and they get angry when you give them "advice" without any authority to do so. I don't claim to see the whole picture, but I have this great message that would be unthinkable not to tell. I have to tone it down to "advice" so that people less willing to listen might at least be able to. After all, it's something most people already suspect, I'm just giving a different twist to it.

    I can give you the "advice" to believe in God, but that won't be enough, will it? Why should you believe, and why should you believe in your Creator? Because it's his love you're denying, and it's sin that is driving people away from Him - to their deaths. You're not a robot, and you won't ever become one. But by recognizing the principles of love you are already obeying Him. Is it really that bad? The only problem is that you're surfing on a wave that He started, and that He will end. Where will you be then, and who will you complain to then? Since you asked, He did come down to explain, and demonstrate it, but you didn't believe that either. Really, what more do you expect God to do before you would believe in Him - without making you a robot?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2004
  16. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    I have to admit, now I'm totally lost.

    J-Even a perfectly understood and agreed upon moral system cannot ensure love.

    So what?

    J-They grew up in a culture where love and respect was something earned, not given.

    Love and respect are earned (except perhaps between family members). Behave like a bastard, and you won't be loved or respected, and rightly so. The need for love and respect helps keep people obeying the attitudes of society, for right or wrong.

    J-The end of the law is to achieve a completely just system for all life, but to what effect? It won't eradicate trespassing, only expose, judge and punish it. Evil is a cancer of the heart, and it needs a change of heart to remove it. Not because there's something wrong with your intentions, but because they don't work towards the ultimate goal of justice - in fact they sabotage it.

    What is evil? What is justice? It is Christianity that sabotages morality by abandoning reason for faith. If must understand why something is considered good or bad.

    J-But justice is something that is good only because it defines what is "good".

    You haven't even defined justice yet! But whatever it is, justice does not define good. Otherwise we couldn't say that justice was good without being guilty of circular reasoning!

    J-...what use is knowing the difference between right and wrong if it makes no difference?

    Things are right and wrong only if they do make a difference. That's the whole point. If people weren't affected, why discuss morality at all? If you need a reward of eternal life and praise from God to do good for your fellow man, then that's a shame. 'Virtue is its own reward,' remember?

    J-But by your argument, it's immoral for justice to have such an agenda - because it suggests a direction life must take despite different preferences and abilities.

    Laws are there to allow society to function in such a way as to allow people to take different directions. A law telling me what to aim for in my life is not moral, its a violation of my freedom.

    J-By doing this, we are imitating God - we are acting like rational human beings, which He created us to be.

    No, we would be acting irrationally. Explain to me what God's laws say, His views on justice, morality etc, and tell me why these are a good idea for us to obey. Then you will be using rational arguments.

    J-We can sentence a murderer to life in jail, we "redeem" his crime by punishing it to the best of our abilities, but we can't redeem his life.

    We sentence him to life to keep him away from us, and to deter others. What matters is only him understanding why what he did was wrong - in which case, we can let him out again to make restitution. People go to jail because they violate other people's freedoms, not because they don't have 'love'.

    J-But for a while there might be a time where your parents have to teach you what love does and doesn't do (usually accompanied by a good spanking).

    Nobody has the right to decide what love does or doesn't do. If you do something, the motives determine the morality of the action, the consequences determine the right- or wrongness of the action, and justice determines how others should react. Spanking doesn't help - it only reinforces them to behave on threat of punishment rather than because their actions hurt people.

    J-If your dad's reasoning didn't make sense to you, can you just establish your own version of morality?

    Yes. Its your responsibility to understand right and wrong. If your dad is an evil nut, you don't want to end up like him.

    J-Of course they should tell you why, how it works, etc. to open your mind to enable you to make your own moral decisions.

    ...exactly. Yet you consistently argue against this reasoning.

    J-Is "what you end up loving" within their control?

    They'll have some indirect influence, but they certainly have no right to tell you what to love.

    J-Believers learned what God's love means over time as well.

    To me, it seems every Christian has a different take on it. I barely know what Christianity is anymore.

    J-If I could only hope that my parents or girlfriend loved me out of impulse, then what expectance could I have that they would still love me under different circumstances?

    None except experience and common sense.

    J-I just don't think love comes any more "automatically" than any kind of moral behaviour.

    Love does come automatically by its very nature; morality shouldn't. You could, of course, decide to learn more about a particular God, and discover that He's a great guy and that you love Him, but even then, that love is still a consequence of your knowledge of Him and your independent interpretation and reaction.

    J-Can we only live meaningful lives if it doesn't have a purpose? Does being purposeless ensure morality? I doubt it.

    No, but that's not the point. The point is freedom. 'Give me freedom, or give me death!'

    J-If my life depends on it, I won't expect advice, I expect leadership and decisive action.

    This contradicts what you've said previously. What's the point if judging if God is supposed to avoid giving us advice and act for us?

    J-I can give you the "advice" to believe in God, but that won't be enough, will it?

    Not unless it makes sense. And even then, loving or worshipping or obeying Him is a whole other kettle of fish, for all the reasons I've given so far.

    J-The only problem is that you're surfing on a wave that He started, and that He will end. Where will you be then, and who will you complain to then?

    Who says I'll complain? Again, 'virtue is its own reward.'

    J-He did come down to explain, and demonstrate it, but you didn't believe that either. Really, what more do you expect God to do before you would believe in Him - without making you a robot?

    So did Buddha and Mohammed - why don't you believe in them?

    I have to admit I'm getting a little impatient, although this discussion has been fascinating, making me think about many core issues - thanks for that. But its time to crack the core issues or we'll be going on forever.

    The simple fact is that we are all born into this world and raised to live in amongst other people, who all compete to fill our heads with whatever they believe. People have vastly different views on morality, justice, and reality. All we can do is to process all the information and form a worldview that fits with the facts. I can easily see how and why religions developed in the first place, why people believed in them back when they didn't know what was beyond their horizon, but nowadays its just silly. I hope at least you can see why I'm an atheist. Not believing in God is exactly like not believing you are an alien pretending to be a human - its just common sense to me.

    However, the interesting thing is the moral dimension of religious belief. It isn't just about whether or not God exists, because even if He did, that doesn't necessarily mean we should like him. It doesn't mean He has any rights over us. It doesn't mean He is the sole arbitor of morality and justice. It doesn't mean He has the right to judge, punish, reward or even to intervene in our lives in any way. It doesn't mean He has responsibilities to us, or that we have responsibilities to Him. These issues are crucial, because just assuming that we have to obey is causing people to do horrible things in the name of religion. Not because they don't understand their religion, but because the don't understand their fellow man.

    In fact, morality has no meaning unless God also obeys it. It must be universal. If He wants us to be moral, He must make sure that we experience positive results when we behave morally. The crucial thing that you have to deal with if you want to make sense is how to use the capabilites available to us. None of us knows anything absolutely. We have to figure it out ourselves. For some reason you think Christianity is right; I don't know why, but you need to admit that God might not exist, and more relevantly to this discussion, God must admit that everyone is entitled to think that. Indeed, the evidence is so compelling against the existence of the Christian God, the reasons not to believe so many, that if He existed God should almost complain when people do believe in Him! Every time I talk to Christians, it comes down to love, and faith. Not reason. I just can't see how you justify it to yourself.

    My challenge is: Make Christianity reasonable. Morally justifiable. Explain the moral rights of God and people, free being to free humanity. You should use a generic god to start with, then work your way to the Christian God by showing how the arguments necessarily follow. And could people live without God, like the atheist claims? Can society function without Christianity?
  17. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    I'd like to answer you question in detail, but as you've said: we're getting nowhere. Besides, I think if run through this argument about 10 times in these forums. I can't justify God to you - that's not my place. But I can tell you how I understand it, pray that God works in your heart, and leave it up to you to think about it.

    I don't believe in a generic god - such a god doesn't exist. It's like trying to explain someone specific's personality bying starting off with a "generic human being". "Our Creator" is about as generic as I can get, but that also solves the moral problem: our morality is based on His love. People can live without God, everybody has the faculties He created us with after all, and are able to employ them. But the real issue is that without God we end up dead - not just physically, but spiritually.

    At it's most basic, Christianity is a Noah's ark. Death is a free-for-all, but salvation isn't.
  18. rainbow__princess_4 The Ashtray Girl Registered Senior Member

    You didn't say which god is doing this judging. If Jim and James chose Hinduism when the god you mean is the Islam one then he ain't gonna be happy... or if its the Hindu god he will. Define god, as you have to, before we define his opinion because all gods are very VERY different.
  19. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    Yes, this seems to be the real divide between us. For me, whether non-existence after death is desirable or depressing is beside the point, because I could never get past the logic barrier in order to believe that there was a Christian God up there to 'save' me. Not now, and not even in the gutter, the foxhole or the deathbed. Surely, hope, fear, depression & need for love aren't the tickets to God's kingdom?

    I'm actually reading an introduction to Kierkegaard, to be able to get more out of Fear and Trembling, and I think he deals with these sorts of issues, since he emphasizes the individuality of experience and the personal responsibility of each person to come to his own conclusions; yet he was also a strong believer in Christianity, so it'll be interesting to see was he has to say on it.

    Well technically, it shouldn't matter. My point is that no matter what, no god can just be happy that someone happened to get it right - otherwise judgement day would be like some kind of raffle: "And the winning religion is - Scottish Calvinist Christianity as it was preached in the vicinity of Aberdeen from 1680-1740! Will all the winners please step this way. For the rest, better luck next t- oh right, just eternal damnation for you. Too bad!" He cannot reward you for believing; the only remotely fair way would be to reward some kind of attitude or sense of personal responsibility or morality, and even then, we are not all equipped with equal abilities in that way, we're not all exposed to the amount of information to be able to make a choice, and some don't even make it past infancy.

    I'm no authority on Hinduism, but as far as I know, the Hindu gods don't punish you in the Abrahamic God's way - they just take care of certain aspects of the world, perhaps advising people through the gurus how to live, the gods not having any power over the consequences of people's actions themselves. That is something else - here, I'm talking about gods with the power to judge, punish and reward.
  20. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    Well, you have your own seeking to do. I just try to help where I can. But I would like to know, what makes you come to "there is no God able to judge or save" as a logical conclusion?

    True, He must be happy with something else then...

    But if the reward or punishment for attitudes or personal responsibility is already received in this life, what's left to collect on? I would say it seems to be just death. "But surely that isn't fair?" Now we're getting somewhere...
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2004
  21. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    Reasons I don't believe, very very briefly:
    Logical (omnipotent God is a logical impossibility, see my last 'why a creative god cannot exist' post. Holy books also contradict themselves)
    Rational (religions are easily understood as social constructs to explain the world, to ensure social hegemony, as a mechanism to empower priests, to make people accept the social hierarchy and be happy when poor. They are also contradicted by scientific evidence, and even if not conclusive, the there is no reason to believe an old belief with no evidence over one that is supported by evidence - common sense)
    Moral (God is evil in most religions, He has no rights over me, each person is personally responsible, faith is a suspension of reason and morality and thus irrational and immoral, etc etc as I've argued in this thread)

    What is wrong with 'virtue is its own reward'? Just think of it like this - humanity develops sensible moral standards, prospers, develops to its full potential and become near-all-powerful as they dominate the universe. I don't mind if I don't live to see it, just as long as I have contributed to it. The future of humanity could be very interesting indeed.
  22. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    My comments:
    As Raithere has been trying to get you to define: what do you mean by omniscience and "everything". If you mean the Greek philosophic omnipotent god, I totally agree with you (even though they might have thought that logic necessitated such a property). If the Greeks were right about such a god, Paul wouldn't have had to preach to them. The truth is that the bible describes God as almighty. Shouldn't you at least consult the Bible when you try to define the Biblical God? Maybe that was the problem.

    So God is not limited to your theoretic omniscience, and therefore not unable to create.

    I'll repeat what I posted in your thread:
    God can be creative because His will and knowledge is not limited to Himself. He could imagine more than there was, and could make His imagination a reality. Isn't that what an artist does?​
    Religion used to be the same thing as science. What science did was free religion from having to explain the world, so that it could focus on explaining God's will. Which, by the way, confirms common sense.
    And you're quite content to base this on a deviated understanding of God, denial of of His authority as creator, and misdirected faith?
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2004
  23. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    If He is less than omnipotent, that's fine, most Christians seem to think He is.

    No, religion and science are two diametrically opposed ways of understanding the world. Again, since we all start out knowing nothing, and have to make up our minds about reality, we need evidence and reason to support the different propositions. Religion was a stop-gap until science came around. In fact, atheists didn't even exist until the beginnings of science.

    Firstly, I doubt you agree with many other Christians about the nature of God. Secondly, my lack of faith is justified. If there is a God up there, He can't blame me for believing as I do.

    I actually thought of a question to ask you:

    Imagine two other people having this kind of discussion; only, the believer was pretty stupid, and the atheist was super-intelligent. The atheist then manages to explain to the believer why he should be atheist; he counters all the believer's arguements to the extent that he agrees and becomes atheist.

    Then imagine the other way around - a smart believer convinces a dumb atheist about God, and he's a believer from that day on.

    You have pretty well-developed views on your belief, much more than the average Christian. You would have to agree that many wouldn't have thought about it to the extent you have. What do you think will happen to them? Surely God can't blame someone who was honestly convinced to be atheist, since many Christians would be able to be convinced if the atheist was smart enough. How should God judge them all?

Share This Page