Statesboro, GA, USA
given your world view, is it possible for you to disagree with God based on your moral system?
Yes, it is possible. Indeed it is probable. But I guess that would be more like a 12 year old music student who is sure that a virtuoso is breaking a "rule" of composition. That doesn't make rules unnecessary, it makes them limited and provisional. For example, was God being "just" in punishing his own sinless son for my sins? The rule of justice was suspended for a higher law of mercy. And yet on further reflection, the law of justice was not left unsatisfied.
I think you may be speaking of something that applies to a smaller segment of humanity. But honestly, I feel that most of our transgression against God comes from less noble motives than those "based on a moral system". Most of the time we violate our own consciences, or our own "moral system". According to Paul, that's actually one important function of the moral conscience, to show us our inability to keep it, even when we agree with it ... underscoring the need for forgiveness and divine help.
So the question of nobly disagreeing with God, lies on a plane where few of us have arrived. Not that it's impossible. Actually when you read about the history of the Prophets in the Old Testament, you get a lot of this, and it brings up some interesting questions of theodicy. The kinds of things I'm thinking of point to an incarnational theology ... and make me think that God gives us oppositional truth, to lead us to even higher truth, even if he has to play the adversary.
You may have no idea what I'm trying to describe. But there are many passages of scripture which illustrate what I'm hinting at.
Of course this difference between "noble" and "ignoble" disagreement is a tricky one. Often times rebellion can be rationalized and cloaked under "ethical" considerations too.
I don't think absolute knowledge is required to determine a moral act or not. You need a sense of right and wrong and that's it.
I think it depends on whether you mean by "absolute knowledge" an exhaustive omniscience, or a more limited knowledge with an absolute source.
I think God as an absolute source is needful lest egoism erode true morality into an elaborate form of self-serving.
Of course from the Christian perspective morals are not central, though they are important. If the goal is mere "niceness", then no, God is not required. But if one's morality is to have any ultimate significance beyond egoism, then God must come into play somewhere.
Stephen's point is that an aetheist, insofar as he or she accepts morality, is being inconsistent. In other threads, he's talked about an innate sense of right and wrong. I'm interested in which side of the fence is more important.
Following God's word (via Scripture, a preacher, or voices in your head) or following that innate sense of right and wrong?
Well from a Christian perspective, our moral conscience is a God-given, but presently damaged apparatus because of the Fall. (Don't mean to make that sound so cold). In other words, it is useful as being generally reliable. It is also useful to clue us in that there is a real "right/wrong" moral question in life, which is very important. Even Pagan literature portrays the terrors of conscience upon men who have violated its stronger leadings. So if that is the case, it can both insightful, and yet need a higher guidance to keep it in check. That's where scripture (Sola Scriptura), and the Holy Spirit come into play. And preaching also may be helpful in this matter, though it needs to be scrutinized and tested against apostolic teachings and in a prayerful attitude.
Excuse me for getting into Christian practicality, though in very simplistic terms that's how it works.
To try to answer your question about atheistic inconsistency, I would say that question is not so much about the atheist's practice of morals, but his confidence that his "innate sense of right and wrong" is reflective of a morality that is not the result of arbitrariness and subjectivism, in light of his own philosophy.
The innate sense, I'm sure you would say, functions quite apart from such questions, and so makes them superfluous. But as the Christian believes that beyond practicality, moral conscience is a faithful clue and initial connection point to the divine, the moral question extends to what one does with well laid gifts, and whether we will desire to know the one who gave them.
But once again, I would reiterate that morals as mere morals are not central to the Christian, but derived and provisional ... leading ultimately to a personality.
Sorry, if I explained poorly.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (08-17-2006 12:00 AM).]