Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada
If you wanted to take that logic all the way, Essorant, we should say that religion shouldn't be more important than any expression of human life ... which would lead to the rather obvious question of why have religion at all?
But why would I treat other expressions differently? A picture of a beautiful woman is just as much not the beautiful woman as a religious belief about life is not life. Surely you wouldn't say the picture of the woman is more important than the woman herself? Likewise the religious expression is not more important than life itself. Both are equally as less than what they represent as they are representations instead of what they actually represent.
The principle that God is more important than any human life, is a right principle, especially if God is source of human life, and the hope of its ultimate justification and restoration
Remember that you are talking about a "principle" or belief. Therefore it is not actually God himself, just as the picture of the beautiful woman and the religious expression of life are not what they represent. It an artistic expression of someone or something, or a confusion, but not the actual being or thing itself. It is inferior to beings and life because it is just a representation or an expression not the being or life itself.
Let me ask you a question. If someone promised to let you live only if you would spit on your mother and insult her with unheard of expletives, would you do it? How about assault her, or rape her? Could you even be sure they would follow through with their promise? My point is, you draw a line too, which could be questioned just as much as the line drawn by Christian Martyrs ... since anything within one's life can be deemed less important than life itself. However I don't think most people deem sheer existence as the most important thing. In other words, there are things worse than dying.
When I was at work the other day I was thinking about that and began to rue taking my arguments and statements a bit too far. Indeed I have a line as well. I wouldn't do and adopt anything just for survival. I somewhat lost focus bringing up the aspect of what one may be willing to adopt instead of something he is willing to give up. One specification doesn't necessary demand the other. The main point is about the willingness to give up an ideal or religion for survival, not the willingness not to be able to choose what you will do without your religion or what you will have instead of it. Of course we have lines about what we would be willing to do. But I am pointing out that putting the line at giving up religion itself is an extreme in the other direction For not being a Christian, or Muslim, etc, is not something horrible. The choice to give up being Christian, Muslim, etc to save your life or someone else's from death, would be just as honourable as many other kinds of sacrafices one may make to save life. Therefore I would argue there is much more by which it would be right than wrong.
1) By calling it "imaginary" you are simply telling me you don't believe it. Which accounts for our difference. If you knew it were true, beyond doubt, would you feel the same way?
I do believe in it so far as I believe it is imaginary. But there isn't anything to suggest it is otherwise. The transientness of the things is much more convincing. Generally things eventually change and move on. Therefore, it doesn't seem very likely that any kind of "eternal life" is coming our way. Unless you consider being "recycled" into different compounds in the universe, as "eternal life". But as far as being able to keep our soul, personalities, etc. I can't see any likelihood. All I can grant is that it is "imaginary" and may be "possible", but not probable by anything that life itself suggests.
2) If an "eternal future" is imaginary until it actually happens, so is any future that hasn't happned, including the future of the lives you say should count more than religion. Using this standard does violence to your own argument as well.
But I am not talking about a life that is not already known and had. This present life is already known and had. It is not a question that it is the kind of life one has. But the eternal life is a question. And there is nothing to make it seem more likely that that is what the future shall have instead of the transient kind of life the present has. All you are going by is the bible. But how well do lifeforms themselves and life-conditions suggest that "eternal life" shall be coming in the future?
The biggest "If" I see now, has to do with your own point. I thought a lover of literature might be able to appreciate the power of parable, pathos, and metaphor to convey historical and spiritual truth, especially if one understands something of the characteristics of Ancient-Near-East writings. Genealogies were seledom, if ever, comprehensive. There's certainly exegetical room in the text to view the Universe and Earth as much older than 6000 years. But instead you are acting as if Genesis should be read like a Western contemporary analytical account of chronology ... not realizing perhaps that an anachronism like yours is the only reason for rejecting it with any seriousness.
Don't you think that further confirms why the bible ought not be taken so seriously? If one doesn't know exactly what it is referring to, the "days" referred to are not actually "days", the amount of years referred to are not actually "years", Eve was not actually a woman, Adam was not actually a man, the flood was not actually a flood, etc, etc, but these representations of some misty profundities, why should he be willing to take it seriously as a reference (instead of predominately art), let alone give up his life for something it speaks about as "eternal life"?
You're only reiterating what I said about your religious relativism trivializing religion altogether. For you "religion" is a great generality, and does not in any way transcend or over-arch human existence. It's the difference between "God as Art" and "God as Creator". It's the difference that gives rise to the different sum we keep getting.
But you are avoiding the context. If it weren't up against life, then your point would stand for many things. Poetry is very important to me too. But it would be ridiculous to try to say it is more important than life or that it is not worth giving up if giving it up meant saving life.
I don't think there is much difference between "God as Art" and "God as Creator" unless you give evidence to distinguish one from the other. Without giving evidence "God as Creator" refers to things we only learn from art and religious texts just as much as "God as Art".
From now on, it seems we're in repetition mode. Wouldn't you agree with my last statement?
Indeed. Nothing wrong with repetition. Do lovers get tired of repeating love?
[This message has been edited by Essorant (10-26-2009 04:41 PM).]