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Why God?

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Christopher
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25 posted 12-13-2006 06:27 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

quote:
Seeing that you are fallen and sinful (as I) I didn't expect you to be "comfortable" with the idea of a holy and righteous judge and creator.      

Seriously though, Christians often have pointed out the disconcerting truth that any denial of God is ultimately based upon an avoidance of his "prickly" nature against our fallen flesh.  That's not to say there's not a degree of honest doubt, or a transitional period of innocent agnosticism.  It just means that self deception is real.  And that atheism as a conclusion, as a final choice, is ultimately rebellion.
I don’t believe the level of comfort has so much to do with avoidance as it does with not recognizing the offering as valid in the first place. Rebellion. I’m tasting that word because it doesn’t fit; in order for there to be a rebellion, one has to recognize a ruling organization under which they “suffer” and wish to be free from. I bypass that whole part and see no logical reason to recognize God in the first place, much less need to form a spiritual rebellion… any more than I would rebel against your parents grounding me; since they’re not my parents, they have no sway over me. I can’t rebel against them because I don’t recognize in them a power to affect my life.

I think, as a mild aside, one of the things that bother me the most about ideas such as “fallen flesh” is the implied notion that we must “pay for the sins of our fathers.” It’s a concept similar to asking me atone for those ancestors of mine who held slaves. It’s asking me to feel guilty for having an ancestor who committed crimes. It’s asking me, in other words, to live life not as my own, but in service of another idea, in service to God to atone for Adam and Eve picking some fruit as if my worth couldn’t be judged by its own merit, but must be weighed against a past I had no influence over.
quote:
Creation can and has been readily explained without a creator.
quote:
But only with "faith-like" elements that make Christian theism appear reserved.  Proposing an orginating singularity (where the known laws of nature are dissolved) still falls within the realm of speculative "religion" and metaphysical assertion.
Using the term “creator” implies an intelligent intent. That’s a far cry from a metaphysical occurrence and much less likely. There are things that cannot be explained. While that doesn’t rule out a god, it in no way requires one. To me, it seems much more likely to break a few laws of nature than to stretch even farther and propose an alien intelligence. On one, you’re reaching just a little (from a relative perspective). On the other, you’re reaching much, much farther. I’m more inclined to believe the theory that stretches credulity the least.
quote:
Never felt once that death is absurd? ... that there's something wrong? [quote]No.

Does that mean I want to die? No it doesn’t. Had I my druthers, I’d live forever (or at least until it got boring). That’s because I see so much value in this life, in this existence… not because of some proffered nirvana based on my unconditional acceptance of an unseen and improvable force that requires me to forego my freedom in this life for a pocketful of gold in the next. Death is a balance to life. Death must exist for life to have any value. That same immortality I’m joking about would remove the contrast that makes life so worth living, that shows the colors to eyes that would otherwise be blind. Life, limited life, gives that contrast, gives that immediacy to appreciate your existence as it is, not as it may be.[quote]A mere "change" does not adequately explain the dread and numinous which surrounds death.  And the fact that the godly fear death sometimes as well, only underscores the fact that we are fallen... that there is a root to our fear.  There is the fear of unlimited pain, insignificance, and of being condemned for our evil thoughts and actions.
Death is death. Annihilation, as you put it, is nothing more than an alternate form of life, a change. I don’t necessarily believe that’s what happens myself, but even if it is, that doesn’t detract from the value one has while here on this planet. If anything, it makes all they (we) do all the more valuable because, hey, that’s it, that’s all you get – make a good showing while you have the chance.
quote:
The difference is, some may hope (through Christ) to overcome this fear ... to ultimately discover (or rediscover) that such fear is groundless because of divine promise.
The fear of pain is not necessarily grounded, as that is something dependent on the circumstances of an individual’s death. The fear of whether a “hereafter” exists? Well, a divine promise is faith based. Faith based concepts don’t require (and often negate) logical pathways. One can have all the faith they want in any given thing. They can have that faith reaffirmed by old and wise men. They can have peers to also reinforce that faith… and in the end find it unfounded. If I stand at the edge of a cliff and you, Ron, and other people whose opinions I respect tells me to go ahead and jump because someone will catch me, that faith might not be founded, eh?
quote:
What atheism can never explain, is the pathos surrounding death.  And that involves the dramatic desire for continuance, significance, reunion, and for love to endure.  Nor can it explain our devotion and sympathies with such, without reducing them to chemical psychology, and ultimately to an illusion imposed upon matter by who-knows-what.
The desire for continuance, significance, etc., isn’t answered by a deity. It can promise to deliver in response to such desires, however… if you have faith.

You know what comes to mind at this point (I’ve been writing this thing all darn day… work keeps interfering, so pardon any stilted conjunctions): I think of the old adage that effectively says that a person doesn’t sit on their death bed wishing they had spent less time with their family and more time at work. I think life as a whole is much the same – I don’t want to sit on my death bed thinking that I shouldn’t have wasted my life gambling on the unfounded promise of a divine hereafter, but instead should have enjoyed the life I had while I had it.

Peace Stephen. I too am enjoying our interchange.
Ron
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26 posted 12-13-2006 06:50 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I think, as a mild aside, one of the things that bother me the most about ideas such as “fallen flesh” is the implied notion that we must “pay for the sins of our fathers.” It’s a concept similar to asking me atone for those ancestors of mine who held slaves. It’s asking me to feel guilty for having an ancestor who committed crimes. It’s asking me, in other words, to live life not as my own, but in service of another idea, in service to God to atone for Adam and Eve picking some fruit as if my worth couldn’t be judged by its own merit, but must be weighed against a past I had no influence over.

I'm curious, Chris, why you don't seem to be equally bothered by the color of your eyes or the fact that you were born in America, both of which were beyond your control and both of which were direct consequences of decisions made by distant progenitors?

Cause and effect doesn't begin anew with each human birth.
Christopher
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27 posted 12-13-2006 08:25 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

So it's immoral to have been born in America with blue eyes?

There is no recognizable ability to choose in those matters, Ron. A clearly definable difference between enslavement, murder, etc.
quote:
Cause and effect doesn't begin anew with each human birth.
No, Ron, but choice does.

I'm not really arguing about control itself, anyway. I'm arguing about culpability, about the need to atone for some distant transaction. If you can tell me you find I'm wrong in some way for the location of my birth or the color of my eyes, then I guess we'll take this conversation in that direction. As it stands, though, the "sins of our fathers" doesn't typically focus on traits such as birthplace or apparent genetics, but rather in deeds. Actions are something that should be judged on an individual, not an ancestral basis. I am not my father. You are not yours. We may bear some traits to them, but the choices we make are ours alone. Are our actions influenced by our ancestors? Quite likely. Does that give us any real culpability for any of THEIR actions? Absolutely not.

Besides, I like the color of my eyes.
Huan Yi
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28 posted 12-13-2006 08:44 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

“Death is a balance to life. Death must exist for life to have any value. That same immortality I’m joking about would remove the contrast that makes life so worth living, that shows the colors to eyes that would otherwise be blind.”


ZARDOZ

.


Lying In A Hammock At William Duffy’s Farm
In Pine Island, Minnesota

[Edit Copyrighted poetry removed. Please respect the rights of others. - Ron]

James Wright

.................


Dead


[Edit Copyrighted poetry removed. Please respect the rights of others. - Ron]

Rhoda Coghill

................


Think about how the notion of God(s)
has evolved as man himself
has moved in time and place.  


.

[This message has been edited by Ron (12-13-2006 08:56 PM).]

Ron
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29 posted 12-13-2006 09:50 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
So it's immoral to have been born in America with blue eyes?

Some in this world certainly seem to think so, Chris.

In truth, of course, being born in American doesn't make you evil, but it absolutely has a very profound effect on the choices you make. And that's no different at all from the concept of Original Sin.

Let's explore two hypothetical scenes.

Scene one. You're ten years old, walking down the sidewalk in a quiet residential neighborhood, hand-in-hand with your father who towers at your side. He asks you not to spit on the sidewalk.

Scene two. Same quiet neighborhood, but you're now walking alone, an orphan who barely remembers his parents. Across the street is a group of other kids, raucously seeing who can spit the farthest.

You have the same exact choices in both scenes, Chris, but the likelihood of what you decide to do is markedly different. In scene one, you are offered direct guidance. In scene two, there is no guidance beyond, perhaps, a distant memory that your parents told you not to spit in public, and you can't even be too sure of that. You didn't ask not to be guided. That impediment was placed there for you, maybe by the father who is no longer there. Obviously, though, that doesn't change reality or shift the responsibility of your choices to someone else.

The important point is precisely the one you made, Chris. The choice to spit or not spit is still yours and yours alone. You don't have to spit just because there's no one there directly telling you that you shouldn't. You don't have to spit just because the other kids are all doing it. The choice is yours. Even if you don't know any better. And the consequences of your choice will be yours, too. Now multiply that choice to spit by the two trillion seconds in an average man's life and that's a good estimate of how many times you and I have to get it wrong.

Original sin doesn't predetermine your choices. If the Bible is to be believed, at least one man in history supplanted direct guidance with absolute faith and managed to never get it wrong. But you don't get to reclaim the direct guidance that was lost, either, even if you weren't the one to eat a rotten apple. That was a birthright that was lost before it could be passed to you. It should have been yours, but it never was.

Just like you didn't get brown eyes or a French accent.


Stephanos
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30 posted 12-14-2006 12:15 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Good replies from all ... I don't have time to respond right now, but I think I will leave you with this thought.


We've all spit, quite a bit.  So it's now beyond the "choose to be good" phase.


Actually it's worse than that.


Stephen.
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31 posted 12-14-2006 02:02 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Maybe we are trying to spit out something a snake talked us into eating?
Brad
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32 posted 12-14-2006 07:26 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

"Without God, everything is permissible"
--Dostoyevsky

One of the problems that surface in that article you posted Stephen is what that means exactly.

On the one hand, Craig seems to argue that it means aetheists can do what they want and this includes people who are sadistic, psychopathic, or sociopathic. We can follow our evil impulses, to revel in them as one Communist puts it.

On the other, he criticizes aetheists for being 'inconsitent' if they act or applaud things that a Christian would generally consider to be good.

To put it another way:

It doesn't matter, so you can do anything you want.

and

It doesn't matter, so how can you act or applaud what you want?

As far as I can tell, Stephen, you see it as the former and I agree, but until Craig sees it that way, his charge of inconsistency rings hollow.

And that's just the beginning.

Stephanos
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33 posted 12-14-2006 08:22 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
As far as I can tell, Stephen, you see it as the former and I agree, but until Craig sees it that way, his charge of inconsistency rings hollow.

I'm sorry Brad, I'm not sure I'm understanding what you are saying.  Are you saying that he can't see both points you brought up ... that in doing so, he is being inconsistent?


If so.  I'd like you to explain a bit.  From a theistic standpoint, I'm not sure that one can't cogently see the downside of atheistic relativism and the inconsistency of atheistic moralism at the same time.  


But maybe I'm misunderstanding you.


Stephen.
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34 posted 12-14-2006 08:26 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
It doesn't matter, so you can do anything you want.

and

It doesn't matter, so how can you act or applaud what you want?


I'm sorry Brad, after rereading, I think I see what you're getting at.  


I think Craig's argument is not that atheistic morals can't "applaud" what they want and be consistent.  Because applause has to do with preference, rather than universals.  I think his argument is that even atheists who decry what is "immoral" do so with the language of the universalist, as if it were more than merely preferential, and therefore obligatory to more than just themselves.


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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35 posted 12-14-2006 10:42 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

In truth this seems like so much
counting angels on the head of a pin.

A doctor once told me that one third
of all medical expenditures in the United States
are involved with the last few weeks of life.
That tells me that for all the talk
few if anyone is all that confident there is anyone
or anything after.

The most confident seem to be those
who blow themselves up killing others
in the name of their God, (whom they are convinced
by virtue of words written and taught will reward their sacrifice).

.
Stephanos
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36 posted 12-14-2006 10:57 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John:
quote:
A doctor once told me that one third
of all medical expenditures in the United States are involved with the last few weeks of life.  That tells me that for all the talk
few if anyone is all that confident there is anyone or anything after.

As an RN who works in an ICU where people die daily on Ventilators and various other kinds of "life support", I just have to point out that most end-of-life medical decisions are made by family members, who have their own motives for wanting to keep the loved one alive.  So these expenditures (in reality) don't necessarily reflect the wishes of the incapacitated who have often been in prolonged pain.


However, it is well conceded that even those who have faith are not always beyond great attachment to earthly loves.  But I really don't see how that casts doubt upon God's existence one way or the other.  When he created the world we now see, he said "behold it is very good".  


Lesser loves will often be embraced rather than greater ... After all we do see "as in a glass darkly".  And even the great Apostle Paul who risked life and limb for the Gospel, said that he was torn between this life and the next.


And I've always said the Zeal of extreme religionists is to be admired.  The problem is not their certainty or devotion to God, but their ideas about his nature, which leads them to commit atrocities.  We only lament the ability of a car (or driver) to race at 70 MPH when it crashes into another one.  


Stephen.  
LeeJ
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37 posted 12-19-2006 01:01 PM       View Profile for LeeJ   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for LeeJ

I believe since the beginning of man's time, he has had this uncontrollable desire to worship something much more powerful then himself and perhaps stems from fears of violent weather, natural disasters, etc.  But also, to believe in something greater then himself.

Something, mystical and something that must be the creator of man and his world.  

Brad
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38 posted 12-19-2006 07:05 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
I think Craig's argument is not that atheistic morals can't "applaud" what they want and be consistent.  Because applause has to do with preference, rather than universals.  I think his argument is that even atheists who decry what is "immoral" do so with the language of the universalist, as if it were more than merely preferential, and therefore obligatory to more than just themselves.


Sorry it took so long to get back to this.

I disagree with your reading, but even if what you say is true, I still don't get it.

quote:
For the atheist there can be no reason. And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action. Indeed, one will probably never find an atheist who lives consistently with his system. For a universe without moral accountability and devoid of value is unimaginably terrible.


From your point, I am allowed to praise a person's selfless action but that that is a mere preference on my part. And you are allowed to praise a selfless action and it has some meat to it because you believe in God.

But if you're world view is wrong, then yours is a mere preference too. If mine is wrong, my preference is still correct.

I guess I'm stuck with the same question again. If God tells you to do something that your 'mere preference' tells you is wrong (I don't know, how about killing your firstborn?), what do you do?

But back to the article.

We are told that aetheists believe in a world without reason. This is incorrect. We have reason and we have reasons, they just aren't Ultimate Reason or ultimate reasons. Believers don't have these either (They are, as far as I can tell, reserved for God.). So, how do you live with a Father who tells you what to do but leaves his justification in reserve.

How long do you, we go before starting to ask questions?

The hidden assumption, I think, is something we've touched on before. Foundationalism and Foundationalists believe that if you attack that one reason, that one rock everything will fall apart. We attacked, you (meaning religious folk)moved the rock and the world did not fall apart because maybe, just maybe, you don't need an ultimate foundation to have reason or to have reasons for living a decent life.

Huan Yi
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39 posted 12-19-2006 08:12 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

or Pascal’s wager . . .

After all, what can you lose?


“And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action.’

Yet, (as I’ve quoted before from an introduction to Aesop’s Fables in support), is an
evolution in human morality.  Before Christianity, kicking a man while he was down
was the accepted laudable wisdom.

“Even if you don't know any better.”

Can there then be true choice?
B.F. Skinner would have doubts.

John
.
Brad
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40 posted 12-19-2006 08:39 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Humanitarianism, at least in the form we recognize today, didn't really arise until the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It corresponded to rise of quasi-deism eventually leading to fullfledged deism, and at the same time a more concentrated view of morality in the Churches.

Stephanos
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41 posted 12-20-2006 12:51 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
From your point, I am allowed to praise a person's selfless action but that that is a mere preference on my part. And you are allowed to praise a selfless action and it has some meat to it because you believe in God.



I didn't say it was mere preference on your part ... you too are inwardly compelled by God's law.   You even criticize your own moral failures, as do we all.  What I did say was that given your worldview there's no reason to think that it amounts to anything more than personal preference.  It at least would not warrant the kind of moral indignation, or ethical admiration that you feel and express from time to time.


quote:
But if you're world view is wrong, then yours is a mere preference too. If mine is wrong, my preference is still correct.

Pascal turned on his head?  I have to admit that's the first time I've heard that one attempted.    


Your preference is still correct.  Yes.  But given the Christian worldview, what does that ensure?  It's not as if you always choose what you morally admire, or live up to even your own standards.  I imagine that self-censure is as real for you as it is for me.  And just imagine unmitigated censure of a holy and righteous God.  From the Christian view of things, that you might often agree with God about moral behavior (imago dei) is a given.


Remember, I am not saying that recognition of moral absolutes is the culmination of Christianity.  Rather it is the beginning of a road.  Or to the atheist, a clue of a great mystery.  


quote:
I guess I'm stuck with the same question again. If God tells you to do something that your 'mere preference' tells you is wrong (I don't know, how about killing your firstborn?), what do you do?


It goes without saying that Abraham’s test was an exception rather than a rule.  However, there are notable things about that incident which are often slurred over, which might intimate an answer for you.  Firstly, Abraham had faith in some kind of intervention (The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that at the very least he reasoned that God was able to raise the dead), else he never would have answered Isaac’s questioning by saying “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering”.  


Secondly, the sacrifice was prevented, vindicating Abraham’s trust.  The bottom line is, Abraham felt that to disobey God would bring about a greater evil than what he could conceive in the death of his own son.  


And lastly, such a questionable justice (as an exception) served only to illustrate that God himself might one day do something which could technically be called a perversion of justice, in order to demonstrate an even greater mercy ... ie, the sacrifice of his own son for the sins of the world.  At least the request to sacrifice one’s own beloved may give somebody like you pause, that something else is afoot.  The demand to kill one’s enemies is much too congruent with a selfish lust for blood.  


At any rate Brad, I’m quite sure that this example cannot easily be compared to the ruthless killing by religious extremists ... examples that you have brought up in the past, of divine submission gone awry.  It’s very different when the incident is exceptional rather than common, and when the potential sacrifice is beloved rather than hated, and finally disallowed.  If not fully satisfactory to your mind, still less an example to be thrown up as a certain perversion of goodness, or as a barrier to faith.  


quote:
We are told that aetheists believe in a world without reason. This is incorrect. We have reason and we have reasons, they just aren't Ultimate Reason or ultimate reasons. Believers don't have these either (They are, as far as I can tell, reserved for God.). So, how do you live with a Father who tells you what to do but leaves his justification in reserve.



But believers do have revealed reasons, which are absolute, even if not exhaustive.  It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if something isn’t known comprehensively, it cannot be known. The difference is, with atheism, reason is logically reduced to egoistic pragmatism ... which doesn’t really have to be reasonable at all.  And though reason in Christian theology is a handmaiden rather than a queen (that is, having significant limitations), she still has a pedigree and purpose beyond herself.

As to how I live with a Father like that ... The best of human fathers exhibit the same.  No parent answers the question “why” ad nauseum, or when it becomes an excuse for disobedience.

quote:
How long do you, we go before starting to ask questions?


How long does God forbear when questions become means of avoidance?  I’m not saying it’s true of you Brad, but it may become so with anyone.  No one is saying questions aren’t allowed.  Even Mary asked, almost incredulously “How can this be seeing I am a virgin”?

quote:
The hidden assumption, I think, is something we've touched on before. Foundationalism and Foundationalists believe that if you attack that one reason, that one rock everything will fall apart.


Brad, you seriously haven’t noticed that the world is falling apart?

    

quote:
We attacked, you (meaning religious folk)moved the rock and the world did not fall apart because maybe, just maybe, you don't need an ultimate foundation to have reason or to have reasons for living a decent life.


Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning?

I simply refer you to the likes of Nietzsche, and others who have seen the horrors of becoming surrogate gods.  And while I know you don’t subscribe to what he said concerning this, I don’t feel that you’ve really given convincing reasons why he was wrong.  


But again, moral recognition, or even meeting expectations of common “decency” is not the summation of Christianity.


Stephen.  
Brad
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42 posted 12-20-2006 01:12 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
It goes without saying that Abraham’s test was an exception rather than a rule.


Yeah, I knew that one would be too easy. What can I say? I was pressed for time.

Kitherion
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43 posted 12-20-2006 04:58 AM       View Profile for Kitherion   Email Kitherion   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kitherion

Now, now children play nicely ! Who says that it is a God and not a Goddess? I don't mean to offend - especially not Stephanos, my faithfull and slightly knowledgeable rival - but who is to say that the pantheon of Gods does not exist? Who in their right mind would believe in a single God, and yet they disbeleive in a multitude of Gods/Goddesses who are united and set the same goals for human kind? And no, do not misunderstand me by quoting the Greek or Roman Gods/Goddesses (and neither the Nors or Egyptian... I hope you get my point) and their squabbles. I speak about a personal belief within oneself which stems from a need and spiritual desire for acceptance.

Within the path of the Goddess I walk, she guides my every step.. into the oblivion called life.

Brad
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44 posted 12-21-2006 07:03 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Pascal turned on his head?  I have to admit that's the first time I've heard that one attempted.


I suppose if I'm adding anything new here, that would be it. And I suspect if I reviewed our conversations over the years, it wouldn't be all that new.

But it's not just a reversal trick.      

quote:
Your preference is still correct.  Yes.  But given the Christian worldview, what does that ensure?


Nothing. A moral choice, if it is indeed moral, can't ensure anything. Kant again -- though I would never call myself a Kantian.

quote:
It's not as if you always choose what you morally admire, or live up to even your own standards.  I imagine that self-censure is as real for you as it is for me.  And just imagine unmitigated censure of a holy and righteous God.  From the Christian view of things, that you might often agree with God about moral behavior (imago dei) is a given.


No, of course I don't live up to these moral standards, they are a conceptual ideal. But the point isn't that so much as what happens when moral concepts and God's word (whether through revelation or a reading of the Bible) conflicts with that conceptual ideal.

What do you do?

quote:
Remember, I am not saying that recognition of moral absolutes is the culmination of Christianity.  Rather it is the beginning of a road.  Or to the atheist, a clue of a great mystery.


True, in fact the emphasis on moral standards really only began in the seventeeth century -- cullminating in the Second Great Awakening in America. That is not the be all, end all of Christianity. But, at the same time, that emphasis, I think, creates a rift between what you call God's inner compulsions (what I'm talking about when I say moral decision.) and what certain Christians, not all to be sure, call God's word.  

That the right choice ensures something more than being moral, you see, clouds the sincerity of that decision.

That sounds too abstract. If I can find the time I'll try to be more specific later.

Stephanos
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45 posted 12-21-2006 09:04 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
But the point isn't that so much as what happens when moral concepts and God's word (whether through revelation or a reading of the Bible) conflicts with that conceptual ideal.

What do you do?


I think instances where "conscience" would not be harmonious with God's word, would be rare indeed.  But if it's God, you are safer with him than with conscience alone.  That's where personal guidance comes in.  I don't know of anything in the divine history (other than the exceptional story you've already pointed out) where obeying God would be considered immoral.  But I am aware of the possibility of actions being misunderstood by others based upon magnifying certain moral principles to the disregard of others.


quote:
True, in fact the emphasis on moral standards really only began in the seventeeth century -- cullminating in the Second Great Awakening in America.


Have you read the same New Testament that I have?  If you are referring to an ethical monomania, you might be right.  If you are saying that morality has not been of vital importance in the Judeo-Christian history (from Moses till now) then I think you're simply mistaken, judging from the texts we have.


quote:
That is not the be all, end all of Christianity. But, at the same time, that emphasis, I think, creates a rift between what you call God's inner compulsions (what I'm talking about when I say moral decision.) and what certain Christians, not all to be sure, call God's word.



Can you give me an example?


quote:
That the right choice ensures something more than being moral, you see, clouds the sincerity of that decision.

How so?


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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46 posted 12-21-2006 09:14 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

Stephen,

You argue for a Christian version of a single God
full of love and compassion that is pretty young
in human view.  Would you be just as comfortable
with one of many that was capricious with lightning bolts
and occasionally took on the guise of a bull
to get the girl?

John

P.S. Namu Amida Butsu
.
Stephanos
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47 posted 12-21-2006 09:32 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John,

Of course not, I am only speaking of the Biblical God.  Since the Bible spans all of human history (covering briefly even what we consider to be prehistory, in the revelation given to Moses), I am more inclined to think that such "gods" you make mention of are later perversions and fragmentations of the one true religion.  This makes more sense to me than the theory that monotheism "evolved" out of many disparate religious ideas.        


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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48 posted 12-21-2006 09:47 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Stephen,

Yet the “Biblical God” was the faith of a very small minority
and didn’t until relatively recently spread out for the chance
to be perverted by anyone.

This gets into Dante’s First Circle.

John


.
ChristianSpeaks
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49 posted 12-22-2006 04:41 PM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

quote:
I don't think existance needs to be justified.


Going back to Ess' comment. I think that existance always has to be justified if not at least proven. Without a higher power what is the reasoning for your belief in your own existance? Can you prove you exist?I think many look to God for the proof/justification. That way we may see it as something that was done to/for us rather than something that is random and then perhaps meaningless. Just a thought.

CS
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