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moonbeam
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50 posted 12-22-2008 04:28 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam



quote:
Moonbeam,

If God is absolutely "omnipotent", able to be or do anything, then you must also grant  that he and his will are just as omnipotently able to be fallible.  He would need to be limited in ability if he and his will and choices were only able to be infallible.


Lol Ess.  Yes, the God paradox that Ron has pointed out.  He (God not Ron) does indeed have to have the infallibleness to be fallible, but then again he could have had the infallibleness to ensure that when fallible he could make himself infallible again, and so it goes on.  The so called paradox is probably worthy of a thread a hundred times this length - or more likely, no thread at all!
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51 posted 12-22-2008 06:18 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

    quote:I'd need an example of how an entity could offer irrefutable proof. To me that conjecture is so far out of the realm of possibility that it makes the question baseless.
Do you mean that it’s impossible for anyone to truly believe in god? Or simply that it’s impossible for you personally to believe in god?


I meant neither of those things. I meant what it says...what would irrefutable proof be? Yes, of course, there are those who would accept God with very little evidence, using faith, but those were not your words, which refer to "irrefutable proof".

Also, which God are you referring to? Would it be the Christian God, Allah, Zeus, Ra, or which? Would it be a God you believed in or another one?

If it were your God and you saw the irrefutable proof, why would you not do anything He or She would say? That's the entity that opens the gates to Heaven or sends you to Hell for eternity. How could you refuse? Because of your morals? Don't a large part of the basis of your morality come from the belief and teachings of your God? How could it possibly be immoral to do as he commands?

Too many gray areas to make your question valid......
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52 posted 12-22-2008 06:28 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
what would irrefutable proof be?


For me?

quote:
If she took me to witness the start and the end of the universe, created a new life form before my eyes, held the sun in the palm of her hand and convinced Denise that Obama is a natural born citizen I’d be well on my way to believing.


I presume though that the evidence would need to be different for different people, it doesn’t really matter what it is though,as long as it’s convincing.

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53 posted 12-23-2008 12:56 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Moonbeam:
quote:
Stephen tries evades the issue by focusing on the quality of the evidence, but by calling into doubt any evidence as to God's veracity which ran counter to his personal sense of right and wrong he is effectively answering in the negative to the first question.

The conclusion is that either you know better than God Stephen, or alternatively there is nothing God could say or do to make you trust Him.

Or maybe I am wrong?  Perhaps there is a benign proof he could offer you so that you accepted Him over a coffee and burger on Monday, thus allowing you to acquiesce to His instruction to kill 2 years olds on Tuesday?


You bring up a good point to explore ... which is the question of the nature of God's authority.  Does God have absolute and arbitrary authority, or is he bound to some standard of goodness which is independent of and above himself?  The orthodox Christian answer is interesting in that it is a bit more subtle than either of these choices.  


God's goodness is not arbitrary in the sense that if God called evil good then it would follow that it was.  It's hard to imagine a universe where we would begin to admire base qualities and actions which we now universally condemn, simply because God decided to rearrange.  That kind of god could not be called just or good in any meaningful sense.


On the other hand, God is not beneath some transcendent standard that is independent of him.  To say so would necessarily guarantee that he was not God, but dependent upon another source for his goodness.


The orthodox belief is that God himself is the very epitome and essence of goodness.  He IS goodness in its purest form.  Therefore the standard emanates from him according to his nature and character.  And yet his nature is not arbitrary, since we cannot imagine God acting against his own nature, which is goodness itself.


The tricky part is that even if we have a universal "sense" of what is good and evil, we can still get it wrong.  And that is where authority comes in.  In spite of a huge common ground between our derivative sense of morality and God's character, there are unique times when we might be called to simply trust, and accept God's authority.  If not, then as you have pointed out Moonbeam, WE become our own standard, telling God what is good and evil.  (and interestingly, that is the very definition of 'The Fall' in the garden where the "Knowledge of Good and Evil" represents a sad venture into human autonomy).


As to your astute observation that I seemed to duck the question ... perhaps, but not really.   The huge amount of common ground I mentioned, is still reliable if one is in serious question about the voice of God.  This is not incompatible with the giving of the oracles of God through the Law of Moses, the Ten commandments, the sermon on the Mount, and in a real sense the "law written on our hearts".  So there's probably not going to be a wholesale imitation of wicked men, on the part of God.  He is not going to command us to play the part of Herod.  He's already told us so much that would contradict that command.


However, God does reserve the right to test our faithfulness, and our recognition of his authority ... and so you get the unique and interesting account of Abraham who willing offered up for sacrifice his seemingly willing son Isaac.  But there's a couple of caveats to keep in mind, when considering this story.  First of all, Abraham knew God.  It was no first time experience for him to hear God in this intimate way.  So I don't think Abraham was relying on content alone to know who he was talking to.  He knew who he was talking to.  Secondly, the only time in scripture God asks such a bewildering thing of a man, the plans end up being cancelled, and the whole story ends up being a typification of God's most radical love (the very opposite of what the command may have seemed at first glance).  For though Abraham felt for a few moments what it might be like for a father to offer up his beloved child in sacrifice, God the Father felt the same kind of pain, only much more, concerning his own son.  And this greater sacrifice was not called off by an angel (though 10,000 or so were ready to do so, by some accounts).  The depth of Abraham's struggle revealed the greatest depths of God's benevolence to humankind.  It only goes to show you that justice and injustice are blurred at the cross, the place of paradox, where the blameless one suffered for unrighteous people like you and me, so that we might have forgiveness and life.  Abraham simply had a deep revelation of the cross, from a God he already knew.


This story in Genesis is sometimes brought up to cast doubt upon the goodness of God.  The irony is that this exceptional interchange between God and Abraham reveals the strange goodness of God in a superlative way.


The difference between this, and the counterfeits is this ... in a religious tradition where killing and vengeance is the rule rather than the exception, you can safely know its not God.  In a tradition where kindness is the rule, and exceptions are well ... exceptional, God cannot be ruled out.  


Lastly, its important to note the difference between Abraham being tested, and someone who doesn't (yet) know God, speculating about God appearing out of nowhere and commanding the ludicrous.  I imagine our main task (after recognizing and confessing that we never really can) is to try and be good in the ways we do understand.  The big benign enigmatic tests that came to the likes of Abraham, aren't likely to come to those who still have their training wheels.  It's similar to what C.S. Lewis said about Jesus telling his disciples that they must "hate" mother and father to follow him.  It would be dangerous for someone either to embrace or criticize that doctrine too rashly (the doctrine that the love of God takes precedence over even the most beloved human relationships) when they haven't yet learned to really love mother and father and neighbor.  (insert alphabet song here)


Stephen
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54 posted 12-23-2008 01:32 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Grinch,


quote:
Why not question the persistent use of “he”?


Because we all know that one: males are superior.  


Bob,


quote:
Should you wish to pray, I suspect you'd like the prayer to go further than the language and actually reach some more exalted destination, should there in fact be one.


Yes, I would.  But  if all I do is pray, and accept the air around me as air, the sky as sky, etc, and don't imagine god, then I may not distinguish any god.  But when I imagine god artistically, then I may distinguish a god in my imagination.  


Moonbeam,


quote:
Lol Ess.  Yes, the God paradox that Ron has pointed out.  He (God not Ron) does indeed have to have the infallibleness to be fallible, but then again he could have had the infallibleness to ensure that when fallible he could make himself infallible again, and so it goes on.  The so called paradox is probably worthy of a thread a hundred times this length - or more likely, no thread at



No, the point itself was not a paradox.:  Being able to make mistakes is an ability too and if God were not able to make mistakes that would be a limitation of his ability.

Where it would be a paradox is if you say God is omnipotent, able to be or do everything, but then turn around and say he is not able to make mistakes.   That is not what I am saying though.  I am saying if he and his will are able to be and do everything, they are also able to make mistakes too.
 
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55 posted 12-23-2008 01:40 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
If he and his will are able to be and do everything then he and his will are also able to be fallible and make mistakes.
Essorant, isn't that like saying in order for God to be omnipotent, he must be able to be not God, or to be wicked?  You have to draw the line somewhere, or you end up in absurdity.  Omnipotent may include the enigmatic and paradoxical (as Ron always points out) but I don't think it includes the absurd.  (a mitigating truth for my own argument:  we are very likely to be mistaken about what is truly absurd from time to time)

Stephen
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56 posted 12-23-2008 04:29 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

That is all fascinating stuff Stephen which I simply must come back to you on.  I may not have time today, and tomorrow I plan to leave my heart, uh I mean my computer, at home for a day or two and go cook some culinarily incompetent relatives a couple of Christmas lunches.  So while I'm tucking into my soya substitute turkey I shall think of lots of awkward questions to ask you.  Have a lovely and peaceful Christmas.

M
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57 posted 12-23-2008 04:34 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam



quote:
I am saying if he and his will are able to be and do everything, they are also able to make mistakes too.

Yes and also able to undo those mistakes, or more pertinently, as Stephen said, make "bad" = "good".
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58 posted 12-23-2008 11:37 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

One must make the distinction between permitting evil and causing it.  For God to bring good out of evil that he is not directly causative of, is very different than just making up for personal mistakes or foibles.

Stephen
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59 posted 12-23-2008 11:38 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos & Moon,

I am not the one stipulating omnipotence.  I am just defending my belief that God is able to make mistakes, or more accurately, that it is not a given one way or the other, and showing you that the belief of omnipotence doesn't rule that out.  All beings I know of are able to do both to some extent, and we judge according to the evidence, not according to who it is that is involved.  Saying God may not make mistakes because he is God would be the same as saying the president may not make mistakes because he is the president.   God being God commanding murders wouldn't make it right anymore than the fact of being president would for the president.  We need to judge good and evil by the evidence of the deed, not by who does the deed.  

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60 posted 12-23-2008 11:46 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

I don't think you understand the implications.  If God fails, then he is not living up to a higher standard, which necessarily means he is not only subordinate to something else, but imperfect ... by definition, not God.  

If you say his perfection is not a given, you're not really saying that God may be imperfect, but that you don't really believe in the biblical God, but something more like a demiurge bound in and subordinate to nature time and circumstance, rather than the other way around.

Stephen  
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61 posted 12-23-2008 01:13 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:
Regardless of the answer, regardless of your belief system, regardless of your faith or doubt,

you have to make the decision.


Brad, ol' friend, it's been a while since we've gone around the block on this stuff ...

I guess my response to this would be that in the Christian faith, there is promised help.  And so much has been revealed, that in many ways we don't have to constantly question what is right, though it isn't all spelled out in detailed terms (and it seems that's the way it was meant to be).  Of course I recognize that an atheist may still rely on tradition or intuition, and care not whether he has any basis for his moral assumptions.

Thoughful Christians would not deny the intractable nature of the existential dilemma (It's actually part of the Theology about fallen life on Earth), but they do think they know something (someone) who mitigates it.


Stephen
  
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62 posted 12-23-2008 07:27 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Praying to one's own imagination has been know to yield results.  In AA they say you can put the God of Your Understanding in a light bulb, as long as you are willing to consider that light bulb a Higher Power.

     My understanding, though, was that you wanted to talk with George Burns.
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63 posted 12-24-2008 02:07 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob,

Do you suspect there have been (are) those in the world who have really known something of God that is not just inside their own cranium ... or do you ever secretly hope for, or concede such a possibility?  If you're no hard agnostic (I myself don't know, but perhaps someone else may) then why the ridicule?

Stephen
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64 posted 12-24-2008 12:54 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

quote:
I don't think you understand the implications.  If God fails, then he is not living up to a higher standard, which necessarily means he is not only subordinate to something else, but imperfect ... by definition, not God.  

If you say his perfection is not a given, you're not really saying that God may be imperfect, but that you don't really believe in the biblical God, but something more like a demiurge bound in and subordinate to nature time and circumstance, rather than the other way around.


Well that may be true.  I don't accept the biblical God that drowned almost every living thing, destroyed whole cities of people, and slaughtered Egyptian newborns, as being "perfect".

I think you overlook your morals by far Stephanos to assimilate those into "perfect" because they are in the context of "God" and in the book called "The Holy Bible". A similar principle leads a wife to deny that her husband does anything wrong even if he beats her, because it is in the context of "love" or "marriage", overlooking it for tomorrow's flowers and kisses, or for some notion that it is a given that her husband is perfect no matter what he does.  

Indeed, far more willing am I to call my cat "perfect" that behaves a lot better than the God of the Old Testament.

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65 posted 12-25-2008 02:27 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Dear Stephanos,

           My last post here was to Essorant as a reply to his post # 54 on this thread.  I felt that the sort of God that Ess was addressing was not actually anything but some sort of personal linguistic construct.  You might review the exchange to get a clearer idea of the back and forth, which was more complex than that.  After looking at it, you might agree with me or might not, I can't predict.

     My own thoughts about my agnosticism are simply that I don't know.  I have never tried to tell you that you don't know, or that the basis of your knowledge is insufficient to pass some sort of Turning test of divinity.  As far as I'm concerned, you do know, and you live a live as befits a man of belief, and I'm pleased and happy to know you.

     There is no ridicule intended.  I've worked with many many alcoholics where the denial of the existence of God is a major problem in their recovery.  Usually it comes down to their inability to admit not so much God but anything at all in the world is grander or more instrumental in the world than they are.  The work-around that AA uses in this situation has to do with not focusing on the name of God — blasphemy, anyway, in some religions — but on the admission that the person him/herself isn't the most powerful thing in the world.  That their attempts to run their own world have put them in pretty terrible shape.  And that they need to admit that there is something that is a Higher Power that they must acknowledge.  Once the alcoholic does that, and starts to pray, things almost always improve.  It simply has to be something, and the alcoholics joke that it can be a lightbulb.

     I was making a joke about getting outside one's own head, and looking for a more conventional external notion of God — George Burns, in this case — instead of getting all wrapped up inside one's own head and personal linguistic idiosyncrasies.  That is the extent of the humor intended.  Certainly no ridicule.  

     Agnostic, yes; that I certainly am.  I have no personal knowledge or revelation of God, and I have no clear reason to believe or disbelieve.  I resist pressure from either direction that tells me that I do, since I know my own experience and others can, at best, guess or empathize.  I find my position reasonable, but you won't hear be try to sell it other places, simply because other people know what their experience is better than I do.

     I have certainly had spiritual experiences.

     Does that clarify anything?  No disrespect is intended.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven


          
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66 posted 12-25-2008 12:34 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
Well that may be true.  I don't accept the biblical God that drowned almost every living thing, destroyed whole cities of people, and slaughtered Egyptian newborns, as being "perfect".


I'm sorry for that Essorant.  But that's probably because you don't accept the reality of human sin and iniquity ... nor do you accept the prerogative that God has the right to judge and impose death individually or corporately.  And though he offers eternal life to believers, God has not changed in this regard.


quote:
think you overlook your morals by far Stephanos to assimilate those into "perfect" because they are in the context of "God" and in the book called "The Holy Bible". A similar principle leads a wife to deny that her husband does anything wrong even if he beats her, because it is in the context of "love" or "marriage", overlooking it for tomorrow's flowers and kisses, or for some notion that it is a given that her husband is perfect no matter what he does.


That's simply because, Essorant, you try to view God as a kind of peer rather than a transcendant Judge.  Do you honestly think you're going to die simply because God is beating you like a bad husband?  Or do you ever suspect there is something more to death, perhaps related to your own depravity?  Don't get me wrong, there is much more to death than that.  There are definitely positive strands in death ... death as deliverance, emancipation, and an end to futility (and the prospects of resurrection and new beginning).  But one can hardly take comfort in these, if the basic reason for death is denied.  Or as Peter Kreeft put it, Death cannot be friend until it be reckoned with as adversary.  And it's not just the Old Testament:  "For the wages of sin is death ..."  (Romans 6:23).  And it's not just the Bible either.  It is our very World.  


quote:
deed, far more willing am I to call my cat "perfect" that behaves a lot better than the God of the Old Testament.


Well I guess if you expect God to behave on the level of a pet which is subordinate to you (you've let his peer status slip), then such a statement could be reasonably made.  But again, there is much you're leaving out of the context, such as the reality of the wickedness of those that God punished and the forbearance with which was given.  You must remember too, that what is said in a line of scripture sometimes makes it sound like it happened suddenly ... but the reality is that God is patient and gives opportunity to repent.  Pharaoh had many chances to relent.  Cities and peoples went hundreds of years before disaster fell.  Our own is facing a similar future, I fear, if things don't change.  

Lastly I think you overstate the difference between Old Testament and New Testament in this regard.  Or if I may put it this way ... Mercy and grace is certainly given in greater measure through the New Testament, and yet Justice and Judgement, where that mercy is rejected, is not abated in the least.  Consider the New Testament passage below which contrasts an Old Testament economy with the New:

"See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.'  The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain." (Hebrews 12:25-27)

The difficulty with what you're saying Essorant, is that you remain the judge of God.  He is at the bar, rather than you.  I disagree with your hasty disapproval of God's actions of judgement in the  Old Testament ... but the more notable thing to me, is that if God is compared with an abusive husband ... you are implicitly denying that he is God, since he has become subordinate to your standard.  In other words, if there is some higher better standard, where does it come from?  Where is the authority for it?  Who will correct God?

Stephen
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67 posted 12-28-2008 09:44 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I know this much: Never shall I look up to or encourage anyone else to look up to such a God that leaves examples of murder and torturing as his "perfect" way of dealing with problems such as sin, even (as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah) something that is not even a sin, such as homosexuality.  All I may and encourage others to do is admire the good where the good is ,and have sympathy where the outrageous and ridiculous parts are in this mythical portrayal of a "perfect" God.  It is like other myths about other gods: in some myths the gods are charming, then in others they are ridiculous, cruel and outrageous.  The irony in such ancient myths is that we may greatly appreciate the masterly skill at imaginitive art, but at the same time we admire that art and skill, we face the expression of extremisms and absurdities of mentalities long ago that we often shall not admire, that are far from the understanding of better justice and human rights we have today.  None of these myths should be blamed for being "crude" in mentality, and expected to live up to today's much more humane and democratic manners of justice.  But I think our weak judgement should be blamed if we don't acknowledge that great difference.  The bible's "God" shows that "distance" very clearly.  Such a God's manners of justice and punishing are far from being as democratic and respectful to human dignity as those we have today in our society.  

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68 posted 12-30-2008 09:46 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

Okay guys.

My thoughts on this is how can we follow something we aren't for sure about? So we would follow blindly into something we're not totally sure about. I wouldn't go killing babies under two.. or any young child for the matter of fact. Sure I believe in God but Satan has tricked humans for years. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Devil lied to you saying he was God. so I'm agreeing with Serenity on this one.

-Zach  

So together but so broken inside

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69 posted 12-31-2008 11:25 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
I know this much: Never shall I look up to or encourage anyone else to look up to such a God that leaves examples of murder and torturing as his "perfect" way of dealing with problems such as sin



All I can say, is that if you think the Bible teaches such means of punishment as "perfect" then you haven't read it all the way through. God's means of punishment in the Old Testament "under law" is plainly said to be provisional and incomplete, until the covenant of Grace came through Jesus Christ.  But it was necessary, and underscored something that is universally true ... namely that sin is destined only to cause death and destruction.  Secondly, such harsh methods of punishment are still used and endorsed by the majority of Governments on planet Earth today, even if it is reluctantly done as a "necessary evil".  It's part of the reason your street is safe in America.  But no, its not perfect, and its not the end of the story.  But rejecting God's Grace, and change of heart that comes through the gospel, it is all there is, and will never go away simply by being more humanitarian minded toward criminals.


quote:
, even (as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah) something that is not even a sin, such as homosexuality.


According to God, homosexuality is sin.  It is against his created order and purpose.  By saying it is not a sin, you are merely rejecting the divine standard by which sin may be judged, and setting up your own (which pretty much encompasses the original sin in the Garden), in the same way that some say that adultery isn't sin, or pederasty, or ...

quote:
It is like other myths about other gods: in some myths the gods are charming, then in others they are ridiculous, cruel and outrageous.


A god who never punished the wicked is ridiculous cruel and outrageous.  There is an aspect of human nature which identifies with just deserts, as much as in mercy.  I've already explained that in God's character this is portrayed as his "strange work" when compared to salvation, and yet provisionally necessary.  But the fact that even within yourself, you've likely identified with both feelings at one time or another, tells me it is not at all ridiculous.  But I grant that anything that is caricatured by misconception may seem so.      

I have to deal with the fact that such difficult passages of scripture may be misjudged and used to malign God.  The fact that you have to deal with is that up until now, you've identified no authoritative standard by which to judge the evil from the vile, other than ever-fluxing human sensibility.  In your approach, who is god but you?  

        
quote:
... Such a God's manners of justice and punishing are far from being as democratic and respectful to human dignity as those we have today in our society.



Two responses.

1) That's a bit politico/ethno-centric for someone as big as God isn't it?  He has to be God by democratic election?

2)  Even under the democracy in which you live, men and women are fined, locked up in barred prisons, and even put to death.  So you can't use democracy as a shining comparison against Old Testament pre-Christian Theocracy ... Democracy faces the same twisted realities, and in spite of it's Athenian Nobility, has dealt with them in ways that you would doubtlessly call too harsh.  If you're going to argue this, you need to argue accurately regarding democratic ideals, which itself does not seek to guarantee happiness, but merely the pursuit.

Stephen
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70 posted 01-22-2009 01:21 PM       View Profile for OwlSA   Email OwlSA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for OwlSA

Though these details are unchronicled, they seem very obvious to me.  The ultimate test of Abraham's faith is not that he was prepared to kill his son.  It is that he had the unwavering faith that God would let his son live, even if only at the last minute.  

Owl
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How much more "indisputable proof" can you get than Christ dying for the sins of the world, in front of hundreds of people?

Owl
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     I'm sorry, Stephanos, but what you're saying sounds more and more procrustian as you go on.  I understand you believe it, and I understand you have made it work marvelously for yourself and your family, and that it works wonderfully within your community of believers.

     But near as I can tell, God punishes the innocent as well as the wicked, and allows the wicked as well as the innocent mercy, and that when we pretend to impose understanding upon this, we merely look silly.  In order to have this make sense we have imposed contrasting Ptolomaic epicycle on epicycle on the events of the world and on our philosophy.  One must be an ardent believer indeed to keep them all straight; anybody who isn't doesn't have the energy or motivation to do so.  Being such a believer has many rewards, and I have no wish to sell it short.  Anybody who can manage to believe in such a fashion by all means should do so.  Threadbear in another forum has praised the deep peace that such belief offers, and I can only echo his words in this regard.

     No God, however, that I could believe in, would allow the Bible to be used in the fashion that I see you using it, as a sword against those that you should love.  The Bible used in this way becomes its own form of idol in the way my heart sees the world, and I don't believe the the Bible or any Holy Book is meant for this sort of use.

     This is not the sort of discussion I enjoy engaging in, I'm sorry to say, and I'm trying to put it in as respectful a fashion as I can, because I do respect you and the way you lead your life, and because in so many ways I do see you as a model for others.

Sincerely yours, Bob Kaven
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73 posted 01-23-2009 11:52 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

BobK:
quote:
But near as I can tell, God punishes the innocent as well as the wicked, and allows the wicked as well as the innocent mercy, and that when we pretend to impose understanding upon this, we merely look silly.


I don't disagree with what you say about God “punishing” his people, or extending mercy to those who are not.  Though I would say there is an important Theological distinction between chastisement and condemnation (though that point was not even addressed in the general discussion between Essorant and myself)  Nor am I pretending to have all understanding of these dynamics, as I have ever admitted mystery.  I was only making the point that faith inevitably involves an element of trust and authority and personal commitment, alongside whatever may be rationally understood.  Hence, one can look at Old Testament passages of divine punishment and come to an orthodox understanding, or decide that either God is unjust or that these passages are merely human claims to divine words.  I choose to believe that the passages about God’s punishment are as real and as true as those which more obviously set forth his mercy, and that all of it fits within the portrait of divine love.  Since pragmatically we all impose punishments, boundaries, or limitations on others to varying degrees and kinds (even sometimes with those most loved by us) my argument is that the concept is not a foreign one, nor one to be rashly condemned ipso facto.  In fact, the whole difficulty is imposed by our fallen human nature clashing with divine light.  


quote:
No God, however, that I could believe in, would allow the Bible to be used in the fashion that I see you using it, as a sword against those that you should love.


Bob, could you quote something I said that makes you think I’m using the Bible as a sword against “those I should love”  (implications of ‘should’ being that I am showing contempt?)


I think you’ve slipped off the rail a bit, either in your reading of my replies, or in your perception of my intent, or in your understanding of Biblical Theology.  Firstly, even the extreme example of punishment, hell itself, is never portrayed as due to a lack of God's love.  But rather, it is the effect that absolute love has on whatever humanity will not ultimately accept grace.  Secondly, belief that divine punishment is just, does not mean that I think it is my place to punish.  The New Testament did introduce a radical change in what role God's people play in the drama of sin and punishment, not to mention the role of God himself in the incarnation.  “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  “And the greatest of these is Love”.   If you only knew how pacifist I am.  Of course, what I have been opposing in this thread is a specific idea and position, not a person.  Don't confuse not maligning God (God as the Biblical text presents) with maligning people.  While you may call my Theodicy a rationalization, I would call the view I am addressing as a defamation of character based upon partial information and distortion.  If a lack of understanding renders me silly, then know that my main point was to show that defaming God's actions is silly for the same kind of reason.  If it comes down to a wager, if our agnosticism says anything about caution and prudence, I’ll be with Pascal on this one.  (Though you know I don’t believe it’s all so nebulous to warrant a blind leap ... neither did Blaise).

quote:
The Bible used in this way becomes its own form of idol in the way my heart sees the world, and I don't believe the the Bible or any Holy Book is meant for this sort of use.


I am the first to admit that Bibliolatry is a real danger, especially when it comes to pet doctrines.  But the belief that God is just, even in his punishments, is orthodox to Judaism, and both orthodox and dominical to the Christian Faith.  And all we're talking here, Bob, is whether God has been just when he has punished according to the Bible itself ... not whether its okay for me to smite or even insult my enemies (much less my piptalk friends whom I sometimes disagree with).  On the latter, we are in harmony.     Unless of course you would like to quote me, where specifically you think I've breached your sensibilities?

quote:
This is not the sort of discussion I enjoy engaging in, I'm sorry to say, and I'm trying to put it in as respectful a fashion as I can


Should I point out that the particular interchange you are responding to (as far as I can tell) was between Essorant and myself?  In particular I was responding to Essorant's premise that the Bible has recorded actions on God's part which are less than moral and without justification ... that we should accept the "imperfections", grow past them, and have a more enlightened democratic view of God.  I have been responding to that problematic Theological idea only, not maligning Essorant or anyone else.


quote:
because I do respect you and the way you lead your life, and because in so many ways I do see you as a model for others.


Bob, it is mutual, as far as I can see.  Don't feel that you must offer praise on the heels of every sharp disagreement.  I already feel and know this respect you give.  And it is appreciated, if not altogether deserved.  God is good.

later,

Stephen  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (01-24-2009 12:33 AM).]

Bob K
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74 posted 01-24-2009 03:12 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Stephanos,

           I've struggled hard for a very long time to see people as wholes, constructed of plusses and minuses that only together show a full and harmonious image.  Sometimes my ability to maintain that whole image falls apart, and I'm left with only partial and contrasting images of a person, good and bad, and the result is discordant for me.  I've not yet reached the point where I can comfortably say something critical without making a point of including the balancing aspect as a reminder to myself and as a reassurance of what I'm working to maintain in this world.  Should I ever get comfortable enough with my ability to hold a person entire in my consciousness, I'd probably be able to skip the second part.  I don't mean to be doing what the analysts call "undoing," that is to make a criticism and then take it back a moment later in word or deed.  I don't think I've done that.  I do mean the critiques; I simply mean them exactly as I state them, and not in larger terms that that, if you follow what I'm saying here.

     In this case I was speaking about the conjunction of the term "homosexual" and the word "wicked."  I find this simply wrong-headed, and I don't particularly care what the bible says about it.  It's entirely at odds with the basic message of the gospels, and it speaks to some of the most savage and murderous impulses that people have.  It's been used to justify some of the most savage behavior I can imagine.

    ( I understand that the exchange was between Essorant and yourself.  You should understand that the fact of the exchange being between yourself and Essorant is probably a polite fiction, otherwise it would have been via e-mail and nobody else would have been party to it.  A public forum is a difficult place to maintain a private exchange, isn't it?)

     It certainly does fit with the notion of a tribal Judaism whose concerns included making sure that there were enough men for soldiers and to ensure the continuation of the patriarchal blood lines.  This they had in common with the Rome of Augustus Caesar, whose thoughts about homosexuals were very close to the most restrictive expressed in the Torah.

     This would be an example of using the Bible as a sword against those whom you should love.  Wicked to my ear is an expression of contempt, unless of course your a Bostonian and can get away with saying, "That's wicked awesome."  I can do that, for example, having spent a wicked long time in Boston.  For you, however, wicked is pretty much straight Theology.  That's a wicked pity, I must say.  

     I am glad by respect for you is appreciated.  I maintain that it is entirely deserved.  My best to your family.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
 
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