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CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 01:30 PM
wibur and TNO worship AWG at the feet of the High Priest Al Gore.

Maybe so.
But seriously..for me that's the hardest thing about faith, in that there's so many choices, it's like how should I know which one is the ''right'' choice? They can't all be right since they all contradict each other. I mean even the 3 most closely related religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) contradict each other on some very important details.

wilbur
02-25-2010, 01:41 PM
Well, I typed a reply for the other thread - and it was closed - Not wasting the typing, so here it is:



The evidence that God not exists is equally inconclusive.


There's no conclusive evidence against the existence of evil invisible gremlins - but we presume they do not exist. Our background knowledge is such that we have powerful reasons to disbelieve in them, even though we have no direct evidence against.

In the case of God, one might try to argue that we do have background information, such as spiritual experience, that corroborates His existence (ie, nobody beleives in Gremlins, but many believe in gods). Note, that I also believe there is good reason to doubt those sorts of experiences.



What caused the big bang and started expansion?


Thats a race that isnt finished yet - so we don't know. We have multitudes of potential explanations, but no real clear best explanation. That being said, because naturalism has won a million races, one should feel compelled to place their bet on naturalism as the broad category in which the true explanation will reside.



God operates in many ways and is not held to one way of revealing himself. Do you eat the same meal everyday?


Then God is simply not interested in truth, and has ensured that the vast majority of beliefs about him are false. A good reason to doubt most religious belief, and a good reason to look for alternate explanations.



And this relates to the existence of a creator how?


It implies that our intuitions regarding creator beings are highly suspect, though that does not directly refute the possibility of a god. So therefore it gives us reason to doubt beliefs about God, including beliefs about His existence.



Actually the existence of a creator is much closer to ockham's razor (since that is your appeal here) than an accidental creation because of all the variable that need to be satisfied in order for life to arise.


Multiverse hypotheses are more parsimonious and are good explanations for tuning - there are others, too. A disembodied, all-knowing, all-powerful mind is about as far away from parsimony as it can get.



He is hidden from you because you do not believe but he is not hidden from me.


Requiring one to assent to a proposition that requires justification, before it should be believed, is tantamount to self-deception. I would believe, if I felt its thats what the evidence compelled me to do - but to believe before evidence compels one too, is to commit treason against oneself.




So if there is no God then suffering is no longer needless and makes sense? How does the presence God (or lack there of) relate to suffering? This argument is weak.


No, needless suffering is not surprising under naturalism. It is under theism. A good God is a God who has an interest in preventing needless suffering. An all-powerful God could prevent needless suffering. There is needless suffering. So there isnt an all good, all powerful God.


You want to know God in order to believe.

Quite a reasonable stance.

The Night Owl
02-25-2010, 01:44 PM
This is another test, right?

Gingersnap
02-25-2010, 01:45 PM
I would think that if you're in the position of god-shopping, then you don't have much belief in a personal god to begin with. If that's the case, then just pick whatever religion is likely to offer the best moral code (that you would actually voluntarily keep anyway) and whichever one was the best fit for your culture, heritage, and profession.

Essentially, just join the Episcopal Church. :p

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 01:50 PM
Maybe so.
But seriously..for me that's the hardest thing about faith, in that there's so many choices, it's like how should I know which one is the ''right'' choice? They can't all be right since they all contradict each other. I mean even the 3 most closely related religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) contradict each other on some very important details.

From a Christian perspective, you don't choose God, He chooses you by granting to you the gift of grace. The call is unresistable. I didn't sit down and pick which religion I wanted to follow. I was a Buddhist for a long time but when the Lord called me I had no choice but to respond. One day I didn't believe that Christ was God and the next day I did and I had no doubts.

Speaking for Christianity, I believe it is the true faith because it teaches me things that in some cases runs against my nature. For example loving my enemies and praying for them, that seems more like something God expect of His creations killing someone because they don't believe in God like Islam condones. Justice as it relates to God is in His hands. There was a time, for reasons known to God, when he sent the Hebrews in to Canaan to take it as their own and to exterminate all the idolators so that the people would not be tempted by other religions.

They failed.

I think that He might have done this to show His people (and mankind) that they would always gravitate towards disobedience no matter what He asked of them and would always be in a state of sin. He proved to them that they could never earn their way in to heaven and thus set the stage for Christ and the offer of forgiveness for all people by simply believing in the atoning death of Jesus on the cross.

At any rate that is what I think, for what it's worth.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 01:53 PM
From a Christian perspective, you don't choose God, He chooses you by granting to you the gift of grace. The call is unresistable. I didn't sit down and pick which religion I wanted to follow. I was a Buddhist for a long time but when the Lord called me I had no choice but to respond. One day I didn't believe that Christ was God and the next day I did and I had no doubts.

Speaking for Christianity, I believe it is the true faith because it teaches me things that in some cases runs against my nature. For example loving my enemies and praying for them, that seems more like something God expect of His creations killing someone because they don't believe in God like Islam condones. Justice as it relates to God is in His hands. There was a time, for reasons known to God, when he sent the Hebrews in to Canaan to take it as their own and to exterminate all the idolators so that the people would not be tempted by other religions.

They failed.

I think that He might have done this to show His people (and mankind) that they would always gravitate towards disobedience no matter what He asked of them and would always be in a state of sin. He proved to them that they could never earn their way in to heaven and thus set the stage for Christ and the offer of forgiveness for all people by simply believing in the atoning death of Jesus on the cross.

At any rate that is what I think, for what it's worth.

But if the Islamic God orders murder now, based on religion, and the Judeo-Christian God ordered murder, based on religion back then, no matter his justification, doesn't it still make them equally bad, equally violent?
I mean whether or not a person commits a murder thirty years ago or today, they're still a murderer.

BadCat
02-25-2010, 02:01 PM
When did any God order a murder?

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 02:06 PM
No, needless suffering is not surprising under naturalism. It is under theism. A good God is a God who has an interest in preventing needless suffering. An all-powerful God could prevent needless suffering. There is needless suffering. So there isnt an all good, all powerful God.

Why is it surprising under theism? How do you define Good?

When you get the flu you suffer from it but when you survive it you have developed and immunity to is. Is that bad? When you tried to drink the bleach under the sink and your mom spanked you for it, you and your butt suffered but you didn't try to drink the bleach again.

Someone suffers and dies of cancer, we all die from something and unfortunately most of us will die suffering. Very few people die peacefully in their sleep. The good and the bad suffer; God's people as well as pagans. That is the existence that we have on this earth. But for all the pain and suffering we endure God offers us something more. A better reality for those who persevered and held firm to their faith. We all go to be judged and all fail the judgement. However some are forgiven because of obedience shown mercy. Other however, because of their inability to believe, are denied mercy and given their judgement.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 02:09 PM
But if the Islamic God orders murder now, based on religion, and the Judeo-Christian God ordered murder, based on religion back then, no matter his justification, doesn't it still make them equally bad, equally violent?
I mean whether or not a person commits a murder thirty years ago or today, they're still a murderer.

Can you show me an innocent person that God has caused to be murdered other than His only son?

wilbur
02-25-2010, 02:17 PM
Why is it surprising under theism? How do you define Good?


Its basically widely agreed upon, that goodness - whatever your definition - does not include needless suffering. It may include necessary suffering, but not needless suffering. So if there's an all-good, omnipotent being controlling the universe, then it is surprising that there is needless suffering.

Being omni-potent, he could prevent it. Being all-good, he would want too, since it serves no purpose.



When you get the flu you suffer from it but when you survive it you have developed and immunity to is. Is that bad? When you tried to drink the bleach under the sink and your mom spanked you for it, you and your butt suffered but you didn't try to drink the bleach again.


Those things might arguably be considered necessary suffering. That is, it would be suffering that serves the goals of a beneficent God. But then again, its not unreasonable to think that an omnipotent God might have been able to come up with a way to impart those lessons or to give us flu anti-bodies without such suffering, so we might still argue that is needless, given an all-powerful being.

But much suffering is, on the surface, needless, and serves no apparent purpose - especially if we start to take into account non-human life.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 02:22 PM
Its basically widely agreed upon, that goodness - whatever your definition - does not include needless suffering. It may include necessary suffering, but not needless suffering.

Those things might arguably be considered necessary suffering. That is, it would be suffering that serves the possible all-good aims of a beneficent God. But then again, its not unreasonable to think that an omnipotent God might have been able to come up with a way to impart those lessons or to give us flu anti-bodies without such suffering, so we might still argue that is needless, given an all-powerful being.

But much suffering is, on the surface, needless, and serves no apparent purpose - especially if we start to take into account non-human life.


How do you know that the suffering is needless unless you know the final outcome of things?

We know what we see but if there is a God and there is more to life than this world than we see then we only know part of the story. From the atheist perspective I can see where suffering might look needless but from my perspective I can't see the end so I can't judge the rightness or wrongness of a situation.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 02:28 PM
When did any God order a murder?

Here is God either committing or ordering a murder:

Exodus 2:29-30
At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

Exodus 21:15-17
Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death. Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

Exodus 22:18-20
Do not allow a sorceress to live. Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.

Exodus 31:15
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:9
If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:10
If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:11
If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:12
If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:27
A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death.

Leviticus 21:9
If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

Deuteronomy 13:6-9
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.

Deuteronomy 13:12-15
If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock.

Deuteronomy 17:2-5
If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22
But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

Deuteronomy 20:10-18
When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them--the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites--as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.

Deuteronomy 22:20-21
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

1 Samuel 15:3
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 02:32 PM
Can you show me an innocent person that God has caused to be murdered other than His only son?

1 Samuel 15:3
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

wilbur
02-25-2010, 02:34 PM
How do you know that the suffering is needless unless you know the final outcome of things?


Take a baby deer, alone in the forest, who dies a painful death in a forest fire. You can try and argue that there may be some final greater purpose for a baby deer to die a horrible death alone in a forest fire. But lacking any apparent casual connection to any further aim, one doesnt have to accept it as plausible. So there's good reason to doubt it, and every reason to think the world and the universe would end exactly the same had that baby deer not suffered.

Your arguments will all simply be appeals to mystery - sure its possible that every instance of suffering serves some final purpose unbeknownst to us, but there's no good reason to presume it to be the case.

The evidence suggests the world and universe would not be significantly different had that baby deer died a painless death, or a painful death out there in the woods. So it is with all kinds of suffering.



We know what we see but if there is a God and there is more to life than this world than we see then we only know part of the story. From the atheist perspective I can see where suffering might look needless but from my perspective I can't see the end so I can't judge the rightness or wrongness of a situation.

There is a sort of reverse argument to the problem of needless suffering, and it goes like this:

1. If God exists, needless suffering does not exist
2. God exists.
3. Needless suffering does not exist.

For reasons above, I think it fails - the burden of proof is on the theist to demonstrate all suffering is not needless.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 02:43 PM
1 Samuel 15:3
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

Are they really innocent? From God's point of view what is innocence?

Since you are quoting scripture I am sure that you are familiar with this




The Lord looks down from heaven
on the sons of mento see if there are any who understand,any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;there is no one who does good,
not even one



From God's perspective no one is innocent, all are born guilty (original). As your self a question, are you a sinner because you sin or do you sin because you are a sinner?

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 02:46 PM
Are they really innocent? From God's point of view what is innocence?

Since you are quoting scripture I am sure that you are familiar with this



From God's perspective no one is innocent, all are born guilty (original). As your self a question, are you a sinner because you sin or do you sin because you are a sinner?

I don't know, I consider infants and little kids to be pretty damn innocent. But hey, you go support a God who kills little children and babies and at the same time scream against abortion.

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 02:56 PM
Are they really innocent? From God's point of view what is innocence?

We're talking of innocents here. You asked him the question


Can you show me an innocent person that God has caused to be murdered

and he responded with a direct example of where your god has so caused the murder of an innocent person, in fact multiple murders, of children and infants:


do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants

and now you're effectively trying to fix it up by saying "yes, but ... God doesn't think even an infant is innocent"

I have to tell you, that I would not want to follow such a deity, even if it were to exist. You are effectively choosing to follow a mass murderer, an entity which assumes guilt in even a newborn child.

Don't you see how sucky that looks?

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 02:57 PM
Take a baby deer, alone in the forest, who dies a painful death in a forest fire. You can try and argue that there may be some final greater purpose for a baby deer to die a horrible death alone in a forest fire. But lacking any apparent casual connection to any further aim, one doesnt have to accept it as plausible. So there's good reason to doubt it, and every reason to think the world and the universe would end exactly the same had that baby deer not suffered.

Your arguments will all simply be appeals to mystery - sure its possible that every instance of suffering serves some final purpose unbeknownst to us, but there's no good reason to presume it to be the case.

The evidence suggests the world and universe would not be significantly different had that baby deer died a painless death, or a painful death out there in the woods. So it is with all kinds of suffering.



There is a sort of reverse argument to the problem of needless suffering, and it goes like this:

1. If God exists, needless suffering does not exist
2. God exists.
3. Needless suffering does not exist.

For reasons above, I think it fails - the burden of proof is on the theist to demonstrate all suffering is not needless.

I would say that your 3 points are accurate. I am sorry that you don't accept something I believe you are right about. My beliefs tell me that suffering entered the world due to the Fall. The world was perfect and the fall of man also broke creation because God cursed the ground so that man would have farm in order to punish man for the transgression. The point of the rest of Biblical history is God reconciling man to himself. Why does God choose this path? I don't know, I just accept it as so. In the end, however, when God has finished creation will be restored to its original condition.

I know that you don't believe all this, but it is from this view point that most traditional Christians operate from. We are in a process (a divine plan) that will restore us to our original purpose and satisfy God's need for justice. I guess He could have waived his proverbial magic wand and made it all better but what would man have learned and wouldn't that have reduced us to mere automatons?

I argue that all suffering is part of life regardless of the goodness of God. What would God achieve by doing ending suffering? How do we determine what suffering is needless in order to know which suffering we should as God to end?

BadCat
02-25-2010, 02:58 PM
Here is God either committing or ordering a murder:

blah blah blah


No dude, that is man writing about what was in man's head.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 03:03 PM
We're talking of innocents here. You asked him the question



and he responded with a direct example of where your god has so caused the murder of an innocent person, in fact multiple murders, of children and infants:



and now you're effectively trying to fix it up by saying "yes, but ... God doesn't think even an infant is innocent"

I have to tell you, that I would not want to follow such a deity, even if it were to exist. You are effectively choosing to follow a mass murderer, an entity which assumes guilt in even a newborn child.

Don't you see how sucky that looks?

No one is asking you to follow such a deity. You have your own idols and you are free to follow them as you wish. That is the beauty of God, you don't have to pick him and in the end you will get what you desire, separation from God.

To be honest here, I don't know that God doesn't have some other ways of dealing with infants and children. If He does then he deems it not important for us to know. If that is the case and a child dies in a state of Grace then he or she goes straight to heaven and never has to suffer all diseases and pains and loses that the world provides to those who live here.

That doesn't sound so sucky to me.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 03:06 PM
Are they really innocent? From God's point of view what is innocence?

Since you are quoting scripture I am sure that you are familiar with this



From God's perspective no one is innocent, all are born guilty (original). As your self a question, are you a sinner because you sin or do you sin because you are a sinner?


No one is asking you to follow such a deity. You have your own idols and you are free to follow them as you wish. That is the beauty of God, you don't have to pick him and in the end you will get what you desire, separation from God.

To be honest here, I don't know that God doesn't have some other ways of dealing with infants and children. If He does then he deems it not important for us to know. If that is the case and a child dies in a state of Grace then he or she goes straight to heaven and never has to suffer all diseases and pains and loses that the world provide to those who live here.

That doesn't sound so sucky to me.

No, the kid doesn't have to suffer diseases, just take a couple of stab wounds to the heart and other parts of the body, no biggie, really gentle and graceful. No pain involved.
Beautiful acts of God. In fact, I think Ted Bundy was just trying to be like God when he murdered that little girl. He was saving her from the diseases and pains of this world.

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 03:22 PM
To be honest here, I don't know that God doesn't have some other ways of dealing with infants and children. If He does then he deems it not important for us to know. If that is the case and a child dies in a state of Grace then he or she goes straight to heaven and never has to suffer all diseases and pains and loses that the world provides to those who live here.



What happened to that freedom of choice thing there? You're just making more excuses for him.

And you're also contradicting yourself ... a state of grace surely is a state of innocence, so either way, your God just offed a kiddie. That's not nice behaviour at all, and no more so just "because he can".

Sorry, but the OT god is a tribalistic, murderous whackjob. Invented by man, to further tribal aims. The words of man, to frighten other men.

Gingersnap
02-25-2010, 03:23 PM
No, the kid doesn't have to suffer diseases, just take a couple of stab wounds to the heart and other parts of the body, no biggie, really gentle and graceful. No pain involved.
Beautiful acts of God. In fact, I think Ted Bundy was just trying to be like God when he murdered that little girl. He was saving her from the diseases and pains of this world.

From a Christian perspective, God is sovereign and incapable of evil. Now, you may not believe that yourself but it's what traditional Christians believe. The issue that seems to derail so many of these conversations is a well known and much discussed topic called The Problem of Evil.

Christians have already solved this problem in several ways over the past 2,000 years. It's not like you guys are just now bringing it to our attention. You may not like the way we have solved it. That doesn't mean that we are wrong or that we don't understand our own doctrine and theology well enough to accept whatever solution to TPE that you may have stumbled upon.

The original question was "Which god?". The answer for you has already been stated.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 03:26 PM
From a Christian perspective, God is sovereign and incapable of evil. Now, you may not believe that yourself but it's what traditional Christians believe. The issue that seems to derail so many of these conversations is a well known and much discussed topic called The Problem of Evil.

Christians have already solved this problem in several ways over the past 2,000 years. It's not like you guys are just now bringing it to our attention. You may not like the way we have solved it. That doesn't mean that we are wrong or that we don't understand our own doctrine and theology well enough to accept whatever solution to TPE that you may have stumbled upon.

The original question was "Which god?". The answer for you has already been stated.

What about Jews? They still believe in the same God and books and don't have the ''fix'' Christians have--Yet Christians same it's the same God.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 03:26 PM
No, the kid doesn't have to suffer diseases, just take a couple of stab wounds to the heart and other parts of the body, no biggie, really gentle and graceful. No pain involved.
Beautiful acts of God. In fact, I think Ted Bundy was just trying to be like God when he murdered that little girl. He was saving her from the diseases and pains of this world.

So when you posted your question you weren't really interesting in choosing a faith? You were just looking for a way to get your talking points out. I understand now and thank you for tipping your hand.

I will answer your question anyways.

A few seconds of pain for a eternity of bliss and perfection with no worries? I'll take it.

Lets look at what the child will go through if he had been allowed to live. He's going to watch his family and loved ones die. He's going to get sick and suffer. Hes going to be hurt emotionally and physically for an entire life time and by the time he gets to be old he will look forward to death. There will be a lot of good times too but he'll get better than that in heaven.

Ted Bundy loved fear. He thrived on it and he killed Kimberly Leach ("that gir" has a name) so that he could enjoy her pain and relish her fear.

At any rate perhaps when you grow up you will realize that there are worse things than dying and worse things than suffering.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 03:35 PM
What happened to that freedom of choice thing there? You're just making more excuses for him.

And you're also contradicting yourself ... a state of grace surely is a state of innocence, so either way, your God just offed a kiddie. That's not nice behaviour at all, and no more so just "because he can".

Sorry, but the OT god is a tribalistic, murderous whackjob. Invented by man, to further tribal aims. The words of man, to frighten other men.

I don't know what you mean about freedom of choice? As for grace, grace is not innocence it is mercy. A person can be guilty and still be shown mercy. Since we are all guilty then mercy is our only avenue of justification.

The problem here is that you don't see past the world. This is all there is to you so death is it in your mind. It is final in your view. I am happy that my view is not as limited as yours. In your view you are an accident of fate that shuffles through the world with no particular purpose other than to have more good things than bad happen to you and when you die all that you have is gone and in the grand scheme of things your life meant nothing.

Now that sucks.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 03:35 PM
From a Christian perspective, God is sovereign and incapable of evil. Now, you may not believe that yourself but it's what traditional Christians believe. The issue that seems to derail so many of these conversations is a well known and much discussed topic called The Problem of Evil.

Christians have already solved this problem in several ways over the past 2,000 years. It's not like you guys are just now bringing it to our attention. You may not like the way we have solved it. That doesn't mean that we are wrong or that we don't understand our own doctrine and theology well enough to accept whatever solution to TPE that you may have stumbled upon.

The original question was "Which god?". The answer for you has already been stated.


So when you posted your question you weren't really interesting in choosing a faith? You were just looking for a way to get your talking points out. I understand now and taink you for tipping your hand.

I will answer your question anyways.

A few seconds of pain for a eternity of bliss and perfection with no worries? I'll take it.

Lets look at what the child will go through if he had been allowed to live. He's going to watch his family and loved ones die. He's going to get sick and suffer. Hes going to be hurt emotionally and physically for an entire life time and by the time he gets to be old he will look forward to death. There will be a lot of good times too but he'll get better than that in heaven.

Ted Bundy loved fear. He thrived on it and he killed Kimberly Leach ("that gir" has a name) so that he could enjoy her pain and relish her fear.

At any rate perhaps when you grow up you will realize that there are worse things than dying and worsde things than suffering.

There's the difference between you and INNOCENT child--you would, and could chose such a fate. A child has no understanding of it and thus couldn't; all a child would feel is incredible fear, pain and agony simply because that child's parents happened to believe in the wrong God--A child would not and could not understand that, much less a baby. Why should a God like who PURPOSEFULLY orders children to be murdered be venerated? His orders make him no better than Joseph Stalin or Hitler. It's one thing if he ''let's it happen'' as happens in tragedies everyday but here he was ordering it--Murdering the children. Ordering them dead, to suffer a horrible fate and watch their families die anyway.

And...Do you support abortion in that case? Abortion advocates have used similar arguments--That'd it'd be better for the child to not be born/die than grow up in a horrible world or into a horrible life, full of loss and pain. That's essentially the same reasoning you're using to justify the actions of the OT God.

And How do you know God didn't enjoy it? And even if he didn't, it doesn't matter. Murder is murder. Sammy the Bull Gravano didn't enjoy the murders he committed but that didn't make them any less heinous or evil. Ted Bundy enjoyed killing. But the result for both was the same--it was still murder. And God, like a Mafia boss, ordered the murderers of his enemies, and unlike even many Mafia bosses or gangsters, even ordered the murders of his enemies children and innocent babies.

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 03:35 PM
From a Christian perspective, God is sovereign and incapable of evil. Now, you may not believe that yourself but it's what traditional Christians believe. The issue that seems to derail so many of these conversations is a well known and much discussed topic called The Problem of Evil.

Christians have already solved this problem in several ways over the past 2,000 years. It's not like you guys are just now bringing it to our attention. You may not like the way we have solved it. That doesn't mean that we are wrong or that we don't understand our own doctrine and theology well enough to accept whatever solution to TPE that you may have stumbled upon.



That's not really a solution. Just to attribute sovereignty and by extension, incapability of evil to your deity seems weak to me, like a shortcut. It's the "ours is not to question why / God moves in mysterious ways / we are so little we cannot understand" meme.

What it really means is "don't you dare question what the priest is telling you". And it further legitimises every shitty thing that man does, supposedly in the name of God, from burning "witches" at the stake to flying aircraft into office buildings.

To me it's a cop-out. The taking of a child's life is an evil deed. There is no other way to look at the taking of a child's life than as an evil. To do otherwise is to try to rationalise it out of being evil. That dog won't hunt.

Sonnabend
02-25-2010, 03:35 PM
For those who believe, no proof is necessary

For those who do not believe, no proof will suffice.

noonwitch
02-25-2010, 03:41 PM
Are they really innocent? From God's point of view what is innocence?

Since you are quoting scripture I am sure that you are familiar with this



From God's perspective no one is innocent, all are born guilty (original). As your self a question, are you a sinner because you sin or do you sin because you are a sinner?



David and Bathsheba's first baby. After all, many christians believe that life begins at conception, and God sees the fetus in the womb as an innocent life. The child wasn't born yet, but God punished his parents for their sin by taking away the life of the baby that was conceived in that sin.


I'm not trying to stir up trouble, though. I'm just pointing out that there are instances in the Bible that are hard to explain in a modern context. There is a deeper story in the story of David and Bathsheba-David used his "executive privilege" to murder Bathsheba's husband in order to seduce her. After they were punished, they were ultimately rewarded with the birth of Solomon. Psalm 51, David's prayer of contrition for his deeds, is a passage that has helped many people who are feeling guilty for things they have done make peace with their past and move on. There is a lesson about consequences for one's actions, and facing up and making reconciliation with God.


People who are looking for reasons not to believe will always be able to find them, and people who are looking for reasons to believe will also be able to find them. Spirituality is a subjective experience, and it can't be validated in a scientific manner. If it could be validated that way, there really wouldn't be much of a need for faith.

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 03:53 PM
I don't know what you mean about freedom of choice? As for grace, grace is not innocence it is mercy. A person can be guilty and still be shown mercy. Since we are all guilty then mercy is our only avenue of justification.


This freedom of choice we're told, constantly, by the religious, as the reason for why your deity allows bad things to happen instead of intervening. That's what I mean.

Where's the kiddy's freedom of choice, when the OT god tells the tribe to go and take the knife to him?

As far as mercy is concerned, I bet the kiddy and the kiddy's parents would have a different idea of mercy in the same scenario.



The problem here is that you don't see past the world. This is all there is to you so death is it in your mind. It is final in your view. I am happy that my view is not as limited as yours. In your view you are an accident of fate that shuffles through the world with no particular purpose other than to have more good things than bad happen to you and when you die all that you have is gone and in the grand scheme of things your life meant nothing.

Now that sucks.

It may suck, but that's how it is. There is probably nothing after death than a bit of white noise as your brain spins down. I don't know this for absolutely certain ... none of us do. We will only know when we pop off if there is. But empirically it is far likelier to be the case than not to be the case.

That's a motivator for me to live the best life I can now, be good to my fellow humans and not shit on people, because, yes, it is a lucky chance to have been alive (especially in this place and in this time), but it is nothing more than a lucky chance.

Being able to intuit all of this means that I have no motivation at all to kill kiddies, burn witches at the stake, or fly planes into buildings, and no reason to make excuses or invent doctrines to excuse deities and their proxy murdering mortals.

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 03:56 PM
For those who believe, no proof is necessary

For those who do not believe, no proof will suffice.

That is very true. Proof is not a pre-requisite for belief.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 03:59 PM
There's the difference between you and INNOCENT child--you would, and could chose such a fate. A child has no understanding of it and thus couldn't; all a child would feel is incredible fear, pain and agony simply because that child's parents happened to believe in the wrong God--A child would not and could not understand that, much less a baby. Why should a God like who PURPOSEFULLY orders children to be murdered be venerated? His orders make him no better than Joseph Stalin or Hitler. It's one thing if he ''let's it happen'' as happens in tragedies everyday but here he was ordering it--Murdering the children. Ordering them dead, to suffer a horrible fate and watch their families die anyway.

You really need to stay in context with your questions. I was answering as if I was going to be murdered in the same way as the child. When I said "I take it" I meant the exchange after the fact. I imagine that if someone was killing me I would be just as scared and in as much pain and agony as the child. Our reactions probably wouldn't be too much different. I also believe that when we reached heaven our reactions would also be the same. We would be happy to be with God and would gladly accept the painful death for the door way that it opened for us.



And...Do you support abortion in that case? Abortion advocates have used similar arguments--That'd it'd be better for the child to not be born/die than grow up in a horrible world or into a horrible life, full of loss and pain. That's essentially the same reasoning you're using to justify the actions of the OT God.

I don't support abortion. If you will recall from my post that I said that I don't know how God deals with children and infants. I was speculating. Maybe they do go straight to hell or maybe the go straight to heaven. Only God knows. You asked a question and I was trying to answer it.



And How do you know God didn't enjoy it?

Because Ezekiel 18:23-24 states


Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?


“But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.




“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

hampshirebrit
02-25-2010, 04:04 PM
No dude, that is man writing about what was in man's head.

Exactly so.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 04:15 PM
You really need to stay in context with your questions. I was answering as if I was going to be murdered in the same way as the child. When I said "I take it" I meant the exchange after the fact. I imagine that if someone was killing me I would be just as scared and in as much pain and agony as the child. Our reactions probably wouldn't be too much different. I also believe that when we reached heaven our reactions would also be the same. We would be happy to be with God and would gladly accept the painful death for the door way that it opened for us.



I don't support abortion. If you will recall from my post that I said that I don't know how God deals with children and infants. I was speculating. Maybe they do go straight to hell or maybe the go straight to heaven. Only God knows. You asked a question and I was trying to answer it.



Because Ezekiel 18:23-24 states

[/LEFT]

You would have a bit of a different reaction because YOU as a adult male/female with a fully functional brain, have at least a capacity to understand or know what death is. And you know as a Christian or at least have the comfort of believing that when you die you'll end up someplace. A child or baby doesn't know what death is, nor do children really know of Heaven or the ideas of an afterlife. And even if in the case of the Amalekite children some did have an idea of an afterlife, I would imagine it would be different than the Christian one--Or else God wouldn't have had a justification to murder them and their families in the first place--and thus if the child did have some belief in some kind of afterlife other than the one the God in the Bible wants you to believe, they would not only die a merciless, painful death in childhood but go to Hell for not believing in the right God, and none of it would be any fault of their own. Monstrous.

Why don't you support abortion? It could be saving plenty of children from the horrible pain, disease and loss which exists in this world and bringing them directly to God without having known any horrors of the Earth--Just as God did for the children in Amalek.

As far as the Ezekiel passage is concerned, do you consider those murdered babies and children to have been wicked?

I also have a passage a passage from Ezekiel I got memorized and it fits the occaison:
Ezekiel 25:17
''The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 04:46 PM
You would have a bit of a different reaction because YOU as a adult male/female with a fully functional brain, have at least a capacity to understand or know what death is. And you know as a Christian or at least have the comfort of believing that when you die you'll end up someplace. A child or baby doesn't know what death is, nor do children really know of Heaven or the ideas of an afterlife. And even if in the case of the Amalekite children some did have an idea of an afterlife, I would imagine it would be different than the Christian one--Or else God wouldn't have had a justification to murder them and their families in the first place--and thus if the child did have some belief in some kind of afterlife other than the one the God in the Bible wants you to believe, they would not only die a merciless, painful death in childhood but go to Hell for not believing in the right God, and none of it would be any fault of their own. Monstrous.

Why don't you support abortion? It could be saving plenty of children from the horrible pain, disease and loss which exists in this world and bringing them directly to God without having known any horrors of the Earth--Just as God did for the children in Amalek.

As far as the Ezekiel passage is concerned, do you consider those murdered babies and children to have been wicked?

I also have a passage a passage from Ezekiel I got memorized and it fits the occaison:
Ezekiel 25:17
''The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."

You do know that that passage isn't real don't you?

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-25-2010, 04:48 PM
You really need to stay in context with your questions. I was answering as if I was going to be murdered in the same way as the child. When I said "I take it" I meant the exchange after the fact. I imagine that if someone was killing me I would be just as scared and in as much pain and agony as the child. Our reactions probably wouldn't be too much different. I also believe that when we reached heaven our reactions would also be the same. We would be happy to be with God and would gladly accept the painful death for the door way that it opened for us.



I don't support abortion. If you will recall from my post that I said that I don't know how God deals with children and infants. I was speculating. Maybe they do go straight to hell or maybe the go straight to heaven. Only God knows. You asked a question and I was trying to answer it.



Because Ezekiel 18:23-24 states

[/LEFT]


You do know that that passage isn't real don't you?

Yes.

Gingersnap
02-25-2010, 04:55 PM
What about Jews? They still believe in the same God and books and don't have the ''fix'' Christians have--Yet Christians same it's the same God.

Christians and Jews both have the same answers for the Problem of Evil.

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 05:05 PM
This freedom of choice we're told, constantly, by the religious, as the reason for why your deity allows bad things to happen instead of intervening. That's what I mean.

Where's the kiddy's freedom of choice, when the OT god tells the tribe to go and take the knife to him?

As far as mercy is concerned, I bet the kiddy and the kiddy's parents would have a different idea of mercy in the same scenario.

If a robber walks up to you, puts a gun to your head and says your money or your life, is your free will being taken away from you?



It may suck, but that's how it is. There is probably nothing after death than a bit of white noise as your brain spins down. I don't know this for absolutely certain ... none of us do. We will only know when we pop off if there is. But empirically it is far likelier to be the case than not to be the case.

That's a motivator for me to live the best life I can now, be good to my fellow humans and not shit on people, because, yes, it is a lucky chance to have been alive (especially in this place and in this time), but it is nothing more than a lucky chance. Not meaning to invoke Pascal's wager here, but if I am mistaken in my beliefs I'll never know.



Being able to intuit all of this means that I have no motivation at all to kill kiddies, burn witches at the stake, or fly planes into buildings, and no reason to make excuses or invent doctrines to excuse deities and their proxy murdering mortals.Your think so simplistically and one dimensionally that I am surprised you are not a politician. You lack the ability to grasp the concept of something greater than a man so you assign human motivations to God who can't be defined by our standards. Don't take that as a critique of your intelligence, I was unable to do it too until God revealed Himself to me and now I see God in everything and every action. Even this conversation is something God has ordained for me to experience. I was going to ask you that since you knew before hand that we were never going to agree on this why you decided to discuss this with me but then I realized that God answered the question for me when I typed the last sentence.

Peace,
G

JB
02-25-2010, 07:10 PM
I've come to the conclusion that God threads are nothing more than post-whore threads.

I can't think of any other reason why they exist.

MrsSmith
02-25-2010, 08:40 PM
Not going to go post by post through this thread...just want to make the point that if God makes the choice to take an innocent child home...at any age...Jesus tells us that child will go to Him. Why can't God choose to take a child that will live a horrible life if left on this earth? Why can't He have them whisked right into Heaven? Who are YOU to tell God that anybody MUST stay here?

Conversely, as God already knows exactly what each life will bring, who are YOU to send a child out of this world on your own volition. What gives a human mother...with no knowledge of her own future, her child's future, her CHILD, the right to murder that child? She doesn't even know who she is murdering! She doesn't know if that child could have had a wonderful life, grow up to be a doctor or the president, she doesn't know anything.

Yet you all have a problem with the ONLY ONE that KNOWS the entire future of every human taking that knowledge to decide who stays here and who goes home. :rolleyes:

FlaGator
02-25-2010, 08:50 PM
I've come to the conclusion that God threads are nothing more than post-whore threads.

I can't think of any other reason why they exist.

I think your wrong

+1

Gingersnap
02-25-2010, 09:12 PM
http://i48.tinypic.com/29kpdly.jpg

Rockntractor
02-25-2010, 09:23 PM
http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/star-wars-vader-orly-owl-nooorly-1.jpg?t=1267150998

wilbur
02-25-2010, 09:46 PM
I argue that all suffering is part of life regardless of the goodness of God. What would God achieve by doing ending suffering? How do we determine what suffering is needless in order to know which suffering we should as God to end?

Well, we cannot know for certain if a specific instance of suffering was truly necessary or not - you could always say some suffering was possibly necessary by way of some ad hoc explanation, or by just throwing up your hands and appealing to ignorance. But that's easy to do with just about anything. "Possibility" does not mean "likely" or "probable".

When one truly reflects on the amount of suffering that exists now, has existed in the past, human and non-human alike - I don't see how the conclusion can be escaped, that at least some of it - even just a tiny bit - plays no essential role in shaping the world or its final end. In such a moment of reflection, it should seem obvious that a few bits or instances of suffering could have been eliminated with no great harm to the world, and was therefore unnecessary.

And so the burden of proof lies with the theist, to show how and why it is plausible that a given instance of suffering is causally necessary for some good outcome, now or in the future, and that burden is not met by an appeals to ignorance or ad hoc responses to mere logical possibility - for the sheer weight of the historical record of suffering is enough squelch those appeals, to knock God hypothesis off the little dinky raft to which it clings, and into the waters, to drown.

Rockntractor
02-25-2010, 10:47 PM
Well, we cannot know for certain bleet bleet blah blah blah.

When one truly reflects on the amount of suffering that exists now, blah blah hum de dum de doe.

And so the burden of proof, lies with the theist, botta bee boutah bah blah blah.

http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/thfunny_facescalvinanhobbsanimateda.gif?t=12671560 22
http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/dance-7841.gif?t=1267156054

Gingersnap
02-25-2010, 10:55 PM
In such a moment of reflection, it should seem obvious that a few bits or instances of suffering could have been eliminated with no great harm to the world, and was therefore unnecessary.

Given the sovereignty of God, why?

MrsSmith
02-26-2010, 06:54 AM
Well, we cannot know for certain if a specific instance of suffering was truly necessary or not - you could always say some suffering was possibly necessary by way of some ad hoc explanation, or by just throwing up your hands and appealing to ignorance. But that's easy to do with just about anything. "Possibility" does not mean "likely" or "probable".

When one truly reflects on the amount of suffering that exists now, has existed in the past, human and non-human alike - I don't see how the conclusion can be escaped, that at least some of it - even just a tiny bit - plays no essential role in shaping the world or its final end. In such a moment of reflection, it should seem obvious that a few bits or instances of suffering could have been eliminated with no great harm to the world, and was therefore unnecessary.

And so the burden of proof lies with the theist, to show how and why it is plausible that a given instance of suffering is causally necessary for some good outcome, now or in the future, and that burden is not met by an appeals to ignorance or ad hoc responses to mere logical possibility - for the sheer weight of the historical record of suffering is enough squelch those appeals, to knock God hypothesis off the little dinky raft to which it clings, and into the waters, to drown.God has, undoubtedly, spared many from much suffering. He has reduced suffering to the least amount required to cause mankind to mature. Just as a baby learns to walk by falling...and learning not to fall...mankind learns to look to God when facing our own inability to take on His job.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
02-26-2010, 07:46 AM
Not going to go post by post through this thread...just want to make the point that if God makes the choice to take an innocent child home...at any age...Jesus tells us that child will go to Him. Why can't God choose to take a child that will live a horrible life if left on this earth? Why can't He have them whisked right into Heaven? Who are YOU to tell God that anybody MUST stay here?

Conversely, as God already knows exactly what each life will bring, who are YOU to send a child out of this world on your own volition. What gives a human mother...with no knowledge of her own future, her child's future, her CHILD, the right to murder that child? She doesn't even know who she is murdering! She doesn't know if that child could have had a wonderful life, grow up to be a doctor or the president, she doesn't know anything.

Yet you all have a problem with the ONLY ONE that KNOWS the entire future of every human taking that knowledge to decide who stays here and who goes home. :rolleyes:

Yet he leaves other children on Earth, some to live in horror from birth with terrible disease, some to not be able to walk or see from birth, some to grow up to end up in poverty or end up being raped or murdered terribly or live lives full of abuse and misuse by other people. What about the children of the Holocaust? God ''saved'' some by letting the Nazis kill them yet let others suffer as slaves in work camps full of disease, or in suffering by watching their families die and face abuse. So if God really cared about the suffering little children would have to endure throughout their life, he'd remove every child from Earth who he know was bound to have a sad or horrid little life.

Like this family I personally knew. Their daughter was only around 5 or 6 when she diagnosed with an aggressive childhood forum of Leukemia...She was a sweet little girll, and as I used to be with the family a lot, never hurt a soul, never did anything mean to anyone. Yet first she lived with the pain of her illnesses, the immense stress and pain of her treatments (I've seen what chemotherapy has done to a STRONG adult, much less a little child), saw the pain and sorrow it brought to her family, probably felt guilt or sorrow herself. Her family prayed, they asked God to save her, they even had a Bishop annoint her and ask God to heal her But she was not given a reprieve or cure by God to go on and live a happy life--she died at about 6 years old.

FlaGator
02-26-2010, 07:59 AM
Well, we cannot know for certain if a specific instance of suffering was truly necessary or not - you could always say some suffering was possibly necessary by way of some ad hoc explanation, or by just throwing up your hands and appealing to ignorance. But that's easy to do with just about anything. "Possibility" does not mean "likely" or "probable".

When one truly reflects on the amount of suffering that exists now, has existed in the past, human and non-human alike - I don't see how the conclusion can be escaped, that at least some of it - even just a tiny bit - plays no essential role in shaping the world or its final end. In such a moment of reflection, it should seem obvious that a few bits or instances of suffering could have been eliminated with no great harm to the world, and was therefore unnecessary.

And so the burden of proof lies with the theist, to show how and why it is plausible that a given instance of suffering is causally necessary for some good outcome, now or in the future, and that burden is not met by an appeals to ignorance or ad hoc responses to mere logical possibility - for the sheer weight of the historical record of suffering is enough squelch those appeals, to knock God hypothesis off the little dinky raft to which it clings, and into the waters, to drown.

The Bible tells us that the amount of suffering will increase as people draw away from what is Holy and seek the paths other than God. I suspect that we are seeing this right now as reverence for the Lord diminishes. At one point in the past you stated that we are a more moral civilization now than at any point in the past. If that is true then why is there more suffering. I would think that a moral civilization would work hard to ease the burden of those who suffer but that doesn't seem to be what is happening. A theist would explain this as God removing His protection from a world that refuses to acknowledge his desire to reconcile man to Himself. I'm not sure how a humanist would explain the increase in suffering that you just pointed out as secular humanism replaces traditional faith in peoples lives.

At any rate, you asked be to give you an example of how suffering is necessary as part of a positive outcome. I will give you two examples, one from my personal life and one from the Bible. I am an alcoholic. I drank heavily for 30 years (since I was 15 years old) and in that time I suffered much, admittedly it was self inflicted it but it was still suffering. I had various illnesses and lots of legal trouble. I had lot of personal trouble that included a divorce from a woman I dearly loved and that was horrible suffering. At a certain point I cried out to God and He took my alcoholism away from me. Now I am able to help other alcoholics in ways that non-alcoholics can't. I can relate to them and I truly understand what they are going through and the fact that I am sober after nearly 4 years gives them hope that they can recover. God used my alcoholism in two obvious ways. He allowed me to hit such a bottom that my need for Him became apparent and I called out for help and he answered. Secondly if I had not been a drunk then I would not be in a position with the proper experiences and knowledge to assist other alcoholics in fighting their battles with drugs and drink. This last is true for all people who have suffered through addictive vices and tramas. Who is better to comfort one with cancer than one who has suffered from it and survived and has gone through the process and can explain what to expect to one who is suffering from the fear of cancer. You may make the argument that anyone can learn to help someone who suffers from an addiction or disease, but those who have suffered and survived will tell you just the opposite, that they received comfort and support from some who had previously experienced the suffering because they had gone through it.

Secondly let us look at the Biblical story Joesph. The jealousy of Joesph's brothers caused them to consider killing him but they ending up selling Joesph to Midian traders who then sold him in to bondage in Egypt. In Egypt he was falsely accused of a crime and spent a long time in jail. All this seems to be really bad and without knowing the rest of the story we could conclude that God was awful for allowing all this to happen to someone God claimed to love. However when Joesph got out of prison by interpreting Pharoh's dream he became the govenor of Egypt and he stored food for a future famine. When the famine came Egypt had food and his family came to Egypt looking for food and Joesph helped them out. In short, if Joesph had not gotten in to the situation and endured what he suffered he would not have been in a position to save his family from starvation. Joesph's brothers where fearful that Joesph would harm them after their father's death but Joesph explained it to them:


But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21

... for what it is worth.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 10:30 AM
God has, undoubtedly, spared many from much suffering. He has reduced suffering to the least amount required to cause mankind to mature. Just as a baby learns to walk by falling...and learning not to fall...mankind learns to look to God when facing our own inability to take on His job.

Well yes, this would be one of those ad hoc explanations (excuses?) that really simply whimpers in the face of the amount of suffering that is and has ever existed. I think its due to extreme cognitive dissonance that such explanations don't immediately get laughed out of the room. Its simply far too easy to sit back and casually gloss over all the suffering involved in any hitsorical atrocity, and pay no mind at all to its gravity, while picking out some after-the-fact beneficial side effects, and just blithely deciding they must the reason for the tragedy. "Oh, the holocaust happened because it gave us some valuble lessons in human rights" or some such thing. But are concentration camps and gulags and ebola really just like a baby tripping and learning to get up? I don't think so.

So the onus is on you to demonstrate, concretely, why and how any instance of suffering was causally necessary for us to learn what-ever-it is we are supposed to learn. Until then - its reasonable to reject your claim as absurd. The burden that needs to be met here, is to demonstrate why the world must have been necessarily worse off had it lacked the holocaust, or one more baby deer dying dying in a forest fire, etc.

I'm also pretty certain it wouldnt be too hard to tease out some contradictions here, between the views expressed in this post, and views about free will and the blameworthiness of inflicting suffering on others.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 10:45 AM
Given the sovereignty of God, why?

I'm not sure what you mean - are you suggesting something along the lines that since God is sovereign over everything, he is able to do as he wishes - even if that involves letting creatures suffer in ways that arent absolutely necessary?

FlaGator
02-26-2010, 11:00 AM
I'm not sure what you mean - are you suggesting something along the lines that since God is sovereign over everything, he is able to do as he wishes - even if that involves letting creatures suffer in ways that arent absolutely necessary?

What frame work do we use to determine the meaning of absolutely necessary?

wilbur
02-26-2010, 11:11 AM
What frame work do we use to determine the meaning of absolutely necessary?

By 'needless suffering', I think I mean something like suffering that was not causually necessary to bring the world to its current state. In other words, if we could have gotten from the beginning of the world, to the exact same point in the world that we are in now (in that we know and feel all the things we 'need' to know), with one less instance of suffering or one single instance of reduced suffering, then that suffering would be needless and would refute the idea of an all-good, all-powerful God.

FlaGator
02-26-2010, 12:04 PM
By 'needless suffering', I think I mean something like suffering that was not causually necessary to bring the world to its current state. In other words, if we could have gotten from the beginning of the world, to the exact same point in the world that we are in now (in that we know and feel all the things we 'need' to know), with one less instance of suffering or one single instance of reduced suffering, then that suffering would be needless and would refute the idea of an all-good, all-powerful God.

Here is the problem with that. Since I believe in God and I believe that God is ultimately good and that I don't know the long term out come of someone's suffering I wll work from the knowledge that all God does is ultimately good even if I can not determine that at the moment.

I would also argue the butterfly effect on your proposal to look at past events and try to ascertain if our now would be unchanged. Any small change in the past will have a ripple effect in the future with the small change getting magnified greater and greater as time goes on. Even recent events are hard to determine. What if the Holocaust never happened and Hitler used the Jews as slave labor. The outcome of the war would have been vastly different. From that perspective to how can I judge if it was needless or unnecessary? I have to rely on my faith in God that no suffering is needless and that all fulfills His purpose to reconcile mankind too himself.

There in lies the problem we have (or at least I have) with this train of thought. I am unable to determine if a single instance of suffering serves some purpose or is needless. I look at suffering and I hurt with the sufferer and I'll help if I can but how am I to determine at that moment if the suffering serves some greater good or not.

There is much suffering in the world with evil at the root of a lot of it, but even evil actions can be used for the good of mankind if it is reacted to properly. I think of the laws that have been enacted because of kidnapped children. A child suffered at the hands of a pedophile but future children were given a greater measure of protection because of it.

Let's examine two horrific crimes, Ron Goldman and Adam Walsh, and the reactions to them. Adam Walsh died a horrible death and John Walsh turned his rage and anger in to something positive by working to track down fugitives and criminals. Ron Goldman died at the hands of OJ Simpson and the Goldman's reacted by making life as miserable as possible for OJ. There anger and rage turned them inwards towards revenage and John's rage turned him outward to help others.

Anyways, I've drifted off track here. The point I was trying to make is that it is hard to tell what ultimate good (or evil) will come from any tragic event that causes others to suffer.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 02:08 PM
It is true, that I cannot say for sure, whether the world would have been better off without the Holocaust, or that a baby deer's painful death in the wilderness had some cascade effect that put some molecules in just the right place and through a massive chain reaction, caused someone to be in the exact right spot to rescue a toddler in the path of a moving train, a thousand years from now.

(Also, its worth noting that I could just as easily speculate that the world would have been better without the Holocaust, or that the baby deer's molecules set into motion a chain reaction that caused a murder a thousand years later, etc.)

But when I think about the speculative, strained, and imaginative scenarios that are required to explain how some bit of suffering in the world was necessary (ala, bambi and the toddler), and the idea that some of it just really was pretty inconsequential overall... well, it seems obvious to me which option has merrit, and which option is absurd. And since the premise that 'needless suffering exists' is less questionable than the premise 'God exists', it negates the premise that 'God exists'.

So what sounds more absurd to you? That Bambi had to die to save a toddler a thousand years later, or that much of the suffering really IS inconsequential to the present state of the world?

Gingersnap
02-26-2010, 03:27 PM
So what sounds more absurd to you? That Bambi had to die to save a toddler a thousand years later, or that much of the suffering really IS inconsequential to the present state of the world?

They both sound absurd to me. We live in a natural world for reasons that you decline to entertain. Whether we have come to this pass through a species-wide rejection of God or as a random end to a natural process seems to make little difference to your ultimate question.

Your issue is suffering. If there is no god, then you have the present state of things: in the best of circumstances humans face a slow, painful decline of health, status, and desirable options as illness and age erode whatever accomplishments they may have made. If God does exist, then some humans (or maybe all depending on your view), can move into a new life upon physical death.

In either case, living humans will still work to make their own lives better and some will work to better the physical/emotional lives of humans they don't even know. At this point in time, humans who believe in a just afterlife work more and contribute more wealth to relieving suffering in this world than humans who do not believe in a just afterlife.

hampshirebrit
02-26-2010, 03:30 PM
God has, undoubtedly, spared many from much suffering. He has reduced suffering to the least amount required to cause mankind to mature. Just as a baby learns to walk by falling...and learning not to fall...mankind learns to look to God when facing our own inability to take on His job.

Sorry, but if THIS is the best job "He" can do after millions of years...

The Muslims looked to God, and it looks like he told them to hijack a few planes.

In case you hadn't noticed, our little human race isn't doing that well lately. Unless you think 9/11 is another of God's little lessons.

And don't tell me theirs is a different god. One can get into deep trouble for cussing Jesus in a Muslim country. They consider him one of "His" prophets.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 07:51 PM
They both sound absurd to me. We live in a natural world for reasons that you decline to entertain.

Not sure what you mean by this... what am I declining to entertain? If we live in a natural world, we just do. There are reasons for our existence, but they are simply causes, not intentionality.


Whether we have come to this pass through a species-wide rejection of God or as a random end to a natural process seems to make little difference to your ultimate question.

Your issue is suffering. If there is no god, then you have the present state of things: in the best of circumstances humans face a slow, painful decline of health, status, and desirable options as illness and age erode whatever accomplishments they may have made. If God does exist, then some humans (or maybe all depending on your view), can move into a new life upon physical death.

In either case, living humans will still work to make their own lives better and some will work to better the physical/emotional lives of humans they don't even know. At this point in time, humans who believe in a just afterlife work more and contribute more wealth to relieving suffering in this world than humans who do not believe in a just afterlife.


My issue is the combination of unnecessary suffering, and an all-good, all-powerful God - and of course, what is true. These are not rants, or complaints about the world and the amount of suffering in it. I'm not shaking my fist at the universe here. I think the the prolific, and seemingly unnecessary suffering in the world poses a serious challenge (at least) to the possibility of an all-good, all-powerful God. It may even be powerful enough to nullify the possibility of that kind of God completely.

As for naturalism, there's simply no problem to consider, because a natural universe moving according to law, but without intent, has no regard for whether living beings suffer or not.

MrsSmith
02-26-2010, 08:06 PM
Sorry, but if THIS is the best job "He" can do after millions of years...

The Muslims looked to God, and it looks like he told them to hijack a few planes.

In case you hadn't noticed, our little human race isn't doing that well lately. Unless you think 9/11 is another of God's little lessons.

And don't tell me theirs is a different god. One can get into deep trouble for cussing Jesus in a Muslim country. They consider him one of "His" prophets.

I am well aware that Muslims consider Jesus a prophet. That does not mean they worship God. Even someone who knows almost nothing about Christianity and Islam can see the glaring problem with a Heaven supposedly filled with multiples of virgins for endless pleasure...as though eternal sex is really all it's about. :rolleyes:

MrsSmith
02-26-2010, 08:18 PM
unnecessary suffering

Exactly how does an ordinary human judge which suffering is necessary, and which is not? What has caused mankind to stirve so long and hard for, well, everything? I can't think of anything man has accomplished that was not done in order to alleviate suffering.


Happiness ain't all it's cracked up to be

The Founding Fathers liked happiness so much they considered pursuing it an inalienable right but maybe that wasn't such a good idea. Happiness seems to make people more selfish, the latest in a series of revelations suggesting it changes how you think and not in a good way.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18585-happiness-aint-all-its-cracked-up-to-be.html

...

This latest finding adds to a wealth of data suggesting that being happy isn't all it's cracked up to be. In previous studies, Forgas has found that happy people are less able to develop a persuasive argument, more gullible and worse at remembering objects in a shop window than their unhappy fellows.

Happy people are also more likely to be influenced by stereotypes, says Forgas: in another study, happy non-Muslim Australians were more likely to make snap negative judgements about and even to shoot computer images of people in traditional Muslim dress.

Ed Diener, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, points out that we shouldn't forget the benefits of happiness, which he says include "better health, social relationships and citizenship". But he adds that "it is wrong to say that it is always good to be happy".

...


You may not agree that God has reduced suffering to the least needed...but you have absolutely no foundation to make that statement.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 08:20 PM
Exactly how does an ordinary human judge which suffering is necessary, and which is not? What has caused mankind to stirve so long and hard for, well, everything? I can't think of anything man has accomplished that was not done in order to alleviate suffering.



You may not agree that God has reduced suffering to the least needed...but you have absolutely no foundation to make that statement.

Well, I already covered my thoughts on that pretty well a few posts up. I'll quote myself:



Well yes, this would be one of those ad hoc explanations (excuses?) that really simply whimpers in the face of the amount of suffering that is and has ever existed. I think its due to extreme cognitive dissonance that such explanations don't immediately get laughed out of the room. Its simply far too easy to sit back and casually gloss over all the suffering involved in any hitsorical atrocity, and pay no mind at all to its gravity, while picking out some after-the-fact beneficial side effects, and just blithely deciding they must the reason for the tragedy. "Oh, the holocaust happened because it gave us some valuble lessons in human rights" or some such thing. But are concentration camps and gulags and ebola really just like a baby tripping and learning to get up? I don't think so.

So the onus is on you to demonstrate, concretely, why and how any instance of suffering was causally necessary for us to learn what-ever-it is we are supposed to learn. Until then - its reasonable to reject your claim as absurd. The burden that needs to be met here, is to demonstrate why the world must have been necessarily worse off had it lacked the holocaust, or one more baby deer dying dying in a forest fire, etc.




It is true, that I cannot say for sure, whether the world would have been better off without the Holocaust, or that a baby deer's painful death in the wilderness had some cascade effect that put some molecules in just the right place and through a massive chain reaction, caused someone to be in the exact right spot to rescue a toddler in the path of a moving train, a thousand years from now.

(Also, its worth noting that I could just as easily speculate that the world would have been better without the Holocaust, or that the baby deer's molecules set into motion a chain reaction that caused a murder a thousand years later, etc.)

But when I think about the speculative, strained, and imaginative scenarios that are required to explain how some bit of suffering in the world was necessary (ala, bambi and the toddler), and the idea that some of it just really was pretty inconsequential overall... well, it seems obvious to me which option has merrit, and which option is absurd. And since the premise that 'needless suffering exists' is less questionable than the premise 'God exists', it negates the premise that 'God exists'.

So what sounds more absurd to you? That Bambi had to die to save a toddler a thousand years later, or that much of the suffering really IS inconsequential to the present state of the world?

MrsSmith
02-26-2010, 08:27 PM
Well, I already covered my thoughts on that pretty well a few posts up. I'll quote myself:

Obvious to you. Great. I'm glad you're as smart as God. :rolleyes: Or not. Nothing is obvious. You don't understand the reason, and you don't like the suffering, but that's it. You simply don't have the tools or the knowledge to know what is necessary. You'd have to know not only every moment of all the past, but also every moment of all the future...and what would have happened if, say, the Holocaust did not happen, before you could even start to make a guess...and it would still only be a guess because you are not an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

wilbur
02-26-2010, 08:29 PM
Obvious to you. Great. I'm glad you're as smart as God. :rolleyes: Or not. Nothing is obvious. You don't understand the reason, and you don't like the suffering, but that's it. You simply don't have the tools or the knowledge to know what is necessary. You'd have to know not only every moment of all the past, but also every moment of all the future...and what would have happened if, say, the Holocaust did not happen, before you could even start to make a guess...and it would still only be a guess because you are not an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

And I admitted that we don't know for sure - you arent understanding the nature of my objection. Please re-read and re-think before hitting reply.

MrsSmith
02-26-2010, 08:32 PM
And I admitted that we don't know for sure - you arent understanding the nature of my objection. Please re-read and re-think before hitting reply.

Since you've admitted that you are clueless, why continue?

AmPat
02-26-2010, 09:47 PM
Its basically widely agreed upon, that goodness - whatever your definition - does not include needless suffering. It may include necessary suffering, but not needless suffering. So if there's an all-good, omnipotent being controlling the universe, then it is surprising that there is needless suffering.

Being omni-potent, he could prevent it. Being all-good, he would want too, since it serves no purpose.



Those things might arguably be considered necessary suffering. That is, it would be suffering that serves the goals of a beneficent God. But then again, its not unreasonable to think that an omnipotent God might have been able to come up with a way to impart those lessons or to give us flu anti-bodies without such suffering, so we might still argue that is needless, given an all-powerful being.

But much suffering is, on the surface, needless, and serves no apparent purpose - especially if we start to take into account non-human life.

You don't get to decide what "needless" suffering is. God has a plan. The fact that you don't agree to it or believe in Him doesn't cause Him any measure of angst. If you ever get wise enough to counsel God, He'll consult you. Until then, you don't call the shots.:cool:

wilbur
02-27-2010, 12:16 AM
Since you've admitted that you are clueless, why continue?

First off, I have been trying to answer questions from those who are being genuinely inquisitive and mutually respectful, rather than being overtly argumentative or aggressive here - so perhaps we might not ruin it with such snideness, k?

I have made no bones about the fact that we cannot know for sure if any instance of suffering has ultimately made the world - or the people in it - a better place. I've been trying to stress that the belief that all instances of suffering are necessary, requires one to make and accept some very extraordinary claims about the world, while the belief that some suffering really is unnecessary only requires rather mundane claims about the world to accept. While we can't rule either possibility completely, its reasonable to believe that one is very much more plausible than the other.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 12:24 AM
You don't get to decide what "needless" suffering is.

Well, I'm certainly as entitled as you are to look at the evidence and form opinions about it.

Rockntractor
02-27-2010, 12:30 AM
First off, I have been trying to answer questions from those who are being genuinely inquisitive and mutually respectful, rather than being overtly argumentative or aggressive here - so perhaps we might not ruin it with such snideness, k?

I have made no bones about the fact that we cannot know for sure if any instance of suffering has ultimately made the world - or the people in it - a better place. I've been trying to stress that the belief that all instances of suffering are necessary, requires one to make and accept some very extraordinary claims about the world, while the belief that some suffering really is unnecessary only requires rather mundane claims about the world to accept. While we can't rule either possibility completely, its reasonable to believe that one is very much more plausible than the other.
SUFFERIN SUCCOTASH!
http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/sylvester.jpg?t=1267248580

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 08:40 AM
First off, I have been trying to answer questions from those who are being genuinely inquisitive and mutually respectful, rather than being overtly argumentative or aggressive here - so perhaps we might not ruin it with such snideness, k?

I have made no bones about the fact that we cannot know for sure if any instance of suffering has ultimately made the world - or the people in it - a better place. I've been trying to stress that the belief that all instances of suffering are necessary, requires one to make and accept some very extraordinary claims about the world, while the belief that some suffering really is unnecessary only requires rather mundane claims about the world to accept. While we can't rule either possibility completely, its reasonable to believe that one is very much more plausible than the other.

It is only reasonable to believe that one is more plausible than the other. Since we know that there is a loving God, and He provides us will all we have, it is quite reasonable to believe that He has limited suffering to the least needed to get mankind off it's collective butt.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 11:27 AM
It is only reasonable to believe that one is more plausible than the other. Since we know that there is a loving God, and He provides us will all we have, it is quite reasonable to believe that He has limited suffering to the least needed to get mankind off it's collective butt.

Well this is easy - I've already covered this pretty well, and I even posted your argument before you did, and I gave some reasons for why I find it unconvincing.



There is a sort of reverse argument to the problem of needless suffering, and it goes like this:

1. If God exists, needless suffering does not exist
2. God exists.
3. Needless suffering does not exist.

For reasons above, I think it fails - the burden of proof is on the theist to demonstrate all suffering is not needless.


Some of the reasons are now below, not above:



Take a baby deer, alone in the forest, who dies a painful death in a forest fire. You can try and argue that there may be some final greater purpose for a baby deer to die a horrible death alone in a forest fire. But lacking any apparent casual connection to any further aim, one doesnt have to accept it as plausible. So there's good reason to doubt it, and every reason to think the world and the universe would end exactly the same had that baby deer not suffered.

Your arguments will all simply be appeals to mystery - sure its possible that every instance of suffering serves some final purpose unbeknownst to us, but there's no good reason to presume it to be the case.

The evidence suggests the world and universe would not be significantly different had that baby deer died a painless death, or a painful death out there in the woods. So it is with all kinds of suffering.


I've already gave a quick laundry list of reasons, in the opening posts, as to why I doubt the premise "God exists". I find the idea that needless suffering exists (that is, suffering which plays no essential role in some ultimate cosmic purpose) to be fairly self-evident. After all, there is no obvious discernable purpose in many or most instances of suffering. So its reasonable to think that it really isnt there. It is therefore the theists' burden to demonstrate the purposefulness of all suffering. And that really isnt something that is demonstrable, other than to guess. I don't find such guesses convincing.

If needless suffering exists (which I find very plausible), it actually (to borrow a phrase from our climate denialist compatriots) 'puts the final nail in the coffin' and netgates the premise that God exists, like so:

p: If God exists, then all suffering is necessary.
p: Not all suffering is necessary.
c: Therefore, God does not exist.

hampshirebrit
02-27-2010, 12:10 PM
I am well aware that Muslims consider Jesus a prophet. That does not mean they worship God.

They think they do. You think you do. The Jews think the Jews do.

Who am I to think that they, or you, or the Jews are right, over one of the others? I have only your word and their word to go by. Each of you is convinced that yours is the only true One. Each of you have only books to go by to support your position. Books are man-made, by definition.

FlaGator
02-27-2010, 01:33 PM
They think they do. You think you do. The Jews think the Jews do.

Who am I to think that they, or you, or the Jews are right, over one of the others? I have only your word and their word to go by. Each of you is convinced that yours is the only true One. Each of you have only books to go by to support your position. Books are man-made, by definition.

Faith needs no support. What faith is... is.

AmPat
02-27-2010, 02:16 PM
If needless suffering exists (which I find very plausible), it actually (to borrow a phrase from our climate denialist compatriots) 'puts the final nail in the coffin' and netgates the premise that God exists, like so:

p: If God exists, then all suffering is necessary.
p: Not all suffering is necessary.False Premise
c: Therefore, God does not exist.

Allow me to point out the biggest word in your faulty premise.:rolleyes: Once again, you do not get to decide what is or isn't "needless" suffering. A better word may be "pointless." This would be true only if you were the one to judge the reasoning of God. You would of course have to be privy to God's plan. Since you aren't and never will be, you cannot say whether the suffering had a larger roll in God's ultimate plan.

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 02:32 PM
Well this is easy - I've already covered this pretty well, and I even posted your argument before you did, and I gave some reasons for why I find it unconvincing.



Some of the reasons are now below, not above:



I've already gave a quick laundry list of reasons, in the opening posts, as to why I doubt the premise "God exists". I find the idea that needless suffering exists (that is, suffering which plays no essential role in some ultimate cosmic purpose) to be fairly self-evident. After all, there is no obvious discernable purpose in many or most instances of suffering. So its reasonable to think that it really isnt there. It is therefore the theists' burden to demonstrate the purposefulness of all suffering. And that really isnt something that is demonstrable, other than to guess. I don't find such guesses convincing.

If needless suffering exists (which I find very plausible), it actually (to borrow a phrase from our climate denialist compatriots) 'puts the final nail in the coffin' and netgates the premise that God exists, like so:

p: If God exists, then all suffering is necessary.
p: Not all suffering is necessary.
c: Therefore, God does not exist.
And yet, the simple fact remains that humans are completely unable to judge what is necessary. You are unable to get even a glimpse of what is needed at this moment in order for the future to be correct 10 minutes from now...even if you consider ONLY your own life. You haven't a clue if your heart could stop or your monitor blow up or a meteor come through your roof and kill you 10 minutes from now. You are absolutely clueless. Therefore, point p must be discarded.

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 02:35 PM
They think they do. You think you do. The Jews think the Jews do.

Who am I to think that they, or you, or the Jews are right, over one of the others? I have only your word and their word to go by. Each of you is convinced that yours is the only true One. Each of you have only books to go by to support your position. Books are man-made, by definition.

Only books? Well, not exactly. Those that have met and accepted Him have the Holy Spirit within.

However, regardless of our own proof, there is the fact that the Muslim god offers something completely ridiculous for eternity. Even a male should be able to see that a Heaven based on endless sex for an eternity isn't Paradise.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 02:57 PM
Allow me to point out the biggest word in your faulty premise.:rolleyes: Once again, you do not get to decide what is or isn't "needless" suffering.

A better word may be "pointless." This would be true only if you were the one to judge the reasoning of God. You would of course have to be privy to God's plan. Since you aren't and never will be, you cannot say whether the suffering had a larger roll in God's ultimate plan.


Let me also take this opportunity to point out that you also do not get to decide what is needless or purposeful suffering - but just because you can sit here and pontificate rather vehemently that all suffering is necessary and that God has a plan, does not require me to believe it. Not in the slightest.

If the negation of the premise that 'all suffering is necessary' is true, then the negation of the premise 'God exists' is necessarily true. If 'God exists' is true, then the premise that 'all suffering is necessary' is necessarily true. So how do you decide which is more likely; that 'God exists', or the negation of 'all suffering is necessary'.

I've outlined many reasons why I think its improbable that God exists. So that lowers the plausibility of the premise 'God exists'. And I've outlined many reasons why it seems to me that much suffering is unnecessary. So its clear in my mind, which premise gets overpowerd. You guys who want to constantly re-assert the premise that I believe to be less probable, are not actually making arguments - your just restating premises.

As I've pointed out, to claim that all suffering is necessary, is to make a pretty bold and rather unbelievable statement about the world. From stubbed toes to concentration camps, and from ebola to the common cold, there has to be an loving reason for it to exist. Sounds pretty outrageous to me.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 03:18 PM
And yet, the simple fact remains that humans are completely unable to judge what is necessary.


Sure we are - we arent able to know absolutely, but we can hypothesize and theorize to the best of our ability. The inability to know absolutely does not prevent us from making reasonable estimations. We can't just cut off all inquiry because we don't have absolute knowledge.



You are unable to get even a glimpse of what is needed at this moment in order for the future to be correct 10 minutes from now...even if you consider ONLY your own life. You haven't a clue if your heart could stop or your monitor blow up or a meteor come through your roof and kill you 10 minutes from now. You are absolutely clueless. Therefore, point p must be discarded.

I can say, that it seems likely to me, that the world and the people in it, would be better off with a little less suffering. I hardly think thats out of line or outrageous. I can also say, that some instances of suffering sure seem inconsequential in the grand scheme things, to the best that I can tell. Also reasonable.

So if we want to boil my position down, as simply as possible, I think it can be said like this: The world would sometimes be better off with less suffering, than it generally has at any given moment.

Curiously enough, your side of the argument puts one in the odd position of arguing that the world, and the people (and creatures) in it, would NOT be better off with less suffering than they experience at any given time.

And let me point out again - that if, as you say, I am in 'no position to judge', than surely you arent either - which makes your "arguments" as equally dismissable.

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 03:55 PM
Sure we are - we arent able to know absolutely, but we can hypothesize and theorize to the best of our ability. The inability to know absolutely does not prevent us from making reasonable estimations. We can't just cut off all inquiry because we don't have absolute knowledge.



I can say, that it seems likely to me, that the world and the people in it, would be better off with a little less suffering. I hardly think thats out of line or outrageous. I can also say, that some instances of suffering sure seem inconsequential in the grand scheme things, [B]to the best that I can tell[/Bl. Also reasonable.

So if we want to boil my position down, as simply as possible, I think it can be said like this: The world would sometimes be better off with less suffering, than it generally has at any given moment.

Curiously enough, your side of the argument puts one in the odd position of arguing that the world, and the people (and creatures) in it, would NOT be better off with less suffering than they experience at any given time.

And let me point out again - that if, as you say, I am in 'no position to judge', than surely you arent either - which makes your "arguments" as equally dismissable.The fact that I am in no better position to judge makes my argument true, obviously. You can think and guess and whine, but "to the best you can tell" just doesn't cut it because you can't tell. Like so many of your other opinions, you base them on your feelings and your thoughts...and not on any facts.

It is a simple fact of history, however, that everything mankind has ever invented has been to reduce suffering. It is our greatest goad.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 04:05 PM
The fact that I am in no better position to judge makes my argument true, obviously.

You can think and guess and whine, but "to the best you can tell" just doesn't cut it because you can't tell. Like so many of your other opinions, you base them on your feelings and your thoughts...and not on any facts.


Again, despite your vehement protestations - I feel no need whatsoever to cease forming opinions about things because we lack absolute knowledge.

The obvious irony that you arent seeing is that while you claim I cannot know certain things, and am in no position to judge, you then claim to actually know them and make judgements about them. If you are going to claim that we havent sufficient knowledge to know that some suffering is unnecessary - you can't turn around and claim to know that it IS necessary.

I think its perfectly reasonable to ask ourselves, "What can we learn, from what we do actually know?". So thats what I do.

AmPat
02-27-2010, 04:05 PM
Let me also take this opportunity to point out that you also do not get to decide what is needless or purposeful suffering - but just because you can sit here and pontificate rather vehemently that all suffering is necessary and that God has a plan, does not require me to believe it. Not in the slightest.

Sounds pretty outrageous to me.

Let me point out that what you point out is not my point. I don't care what your point is, you have the freedom to be wrong all you like. I am saying that if there is a God, then YOU do not get to decide what is needless or needful. Your opinion in the eyes of an all powerful God is laughable and pointless. Since you have no idea what His plan is, you can FEEL what you want about world events. Your feelings may be based on a false premise.

Somewhat like your feeling that I made a wrong turn. You may feel completely satisfied that you are correct. You may feel morally superior while correcting me and pointing out my wrong turn. You would be foolish though as you are not aware of my final destination.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 04:14 PM
Let me point out that what you point out is not my point. I don't care what your point is, you have the freedom to be wrong all you like. I am saying that if there is a God, then YOU do not get to decide what is needless or needful.


Which is basically exactly what I said, here, and several other places throughout the thread:



If the negation of the premise that 'all suffering is necessary' is true, then the negation of the premise 'God exists' is necessarily true. If 'God exists' is true, then the premise that 'all suffering is necessary' is necessarily true.


But you have to realize the reverse is possibly true - if one shows that there is unnecessary suffering, one also shows that God does not exist, necessarily.

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 04:30 PM
Again, despite your vehement protestations - I feel no need whatsoever to cease forming opinions about things because we lack absolute knowledge.

The obvious irony that you arent seeing is that while you claim I cannot know certain things, and am in no position to judge, you then claim to actually know them and make judgements about them. If you are going to claim that we havent sufficient knowledge to know that some suffering is unnecessary - you can't turn around and claim to know that it IS necessary.

I think its perfectly reasonable to ask ourselves, "What can we learn, from what we do actually know?". So thats what I do.

Lack absolute knowledge? ABSOLUTE? If the knowledge necessary could be contained in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the portion of the knowledge that humans can access takes less than the first page! :D:D

I claim that you can know nothing, as I know nothing, as all humans know nothing...which is why I'm smart enough not to judge. God has sufficient knowledge to know how much suffering is necessary.

It's wonderful to ask what can be learned from what we know...but the limit to necessary suffering is something you can't learn from what we know.

But, you know, if you don't like suffering, instead of whining about the why it must be, you could do something to reduce it for someone. There are billions of possibilities that are within the scope of a mere man.

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 04:31 PM
Which is basically exactly what I said, here, and several other places throughout the thread:



But you have to realize the reverse is possibly true - if one shows that there is unnecessary suffering, one also shows that God does not exist, necessarily.

But "one" cannot show that unnecessary suffering exists.

wilbur
02-27-2010, 04:43 PM
But "one" cannot show that unnecessary suffering exists.

To suggest that all suffering is necessary, is to technically propose that there is an explanation for any and every instance of suffering that is sufficient, and a result of loving intent.

The claim that some suffering isnt necessary, commits one to a much milder proposal: that in one instance, the world probably could have been the same, equivelent or better than it is now, with a single instance of less suffering.

In the first case, there is a burden to produce billions of probable explanations... in the second, there is only a burden to produce one probable one. So one can reasonably believe it to be far more plausible that it does exist, rather than not, even if it can't be empirically shown, with absolute certainty.

Sonnabend
02-27-2010, 04:55 PM
Wilbur worships Mother Gaia....

MrsSmith
02-27-2010, 09:31 PM
To suggest that all suffering is necessary, is to technically propose that there is an explanation for any and every instance of suffering that is sufficient, and a result of loving intent.

The claim that some suffering isnt necessary, commits one to a much milder proposal: that in one instance, the world probably could have been the same, equivelent or better than it is now, with a single instance of less suffering.

In the first case, there is a burden to produce billions of probable explanations... in the second, there is only a burden to produce one probable one. So one can reasonably believe it to be far more plausible that it does exist, rather than not, even if it can't be empirically shown, with absolute certainty.

It can't be shown with any certainty. It can't be shown at all because humans don't have the knowledge or capacity to judge any case of suffering. It is not possible. Only God can make that call. Only a Being with infinite time and infinite resources can make that call. There is no burden of proof on either side. It is simply a question that humans were not created with the ability to answer. However, studies of humans have proven time and again that suffering is the one thing that goads us into improving life for ourselves...and other humans...and animals. Nothing else works.

Rockntractor
02-27-2010, 09:31 PM
To suggest that all suffering is necessary, is to technically propose that there is an explanation for any and every instance of suffering that is sufficient, and a result of loving intent.

The claim that some suffering isnt necessary, commits one to a much milder proposal: that in one instance, the world probably could have been the same, equivelent or better than it is now, with a single instance of less suffering.

In the first case, there is a burden to produce billions of probable explanations... in the second, there is only a burden to produce one probable one. So one can reasonably believe it to be far more plausible that it does exist, rather than not, even if it can't be empirically shown, with absolute certainty.
How long can you hold your breath? seriously try it!

wilbur
02-27-2010, 11:45 PM
It can't be shown with any certainty. It can't be shown at all because humans don't have the knowledge or capacity to judge any case of suffering. It is not possible. Only God can make that call. Only a Being with infinite time and infinite resources can make that call. There is no burden of proof on either side. It is simply a question that humans were not created with the ability to answer. However, studies of humans have proven time and again that suffering is the one thing that goads us into improving life for ourselves...and other humans...and animals. Nothing else works.

At this point, I think I've made my case, so unless you present something new, I don't feel any need to respond further.

Rockntractor
02-28-2010, 12:03 AM
At this point, I think I've made my case, so unless you present something new, I don't feel any need to respond further.

You have one of those low energy consumption "green" brains don't you?

AmPat
02-28-2010, 12:49 AM
Which is basically exactly what I said, here, and several other places throughout the thread:



But you have to realize the reverse is possibly true - if one shows that there is unnecessary suffering, one also shows that God does not exist, necessarily.

Or that God allows suffering to happen whether YOU choose to categorize it as "unnecessary" using YOUR interpretation. That God exists is not a question of how anybody interprets or categorizes suffering.

wilbur
02-28-2010, 01:10 AM
Or that God allows suffering to happen whether YOU choose to categorize it as "unnecessary" using YOUR interpretation. That God exists is not a question of how anybody interprets or categorizes suffering.

Its true that we might think needless suffering exists, even if it doesn't. Or it might be true that if needless suffering existed, we might think it all necessary. But so what? Mistakes like that are always possible, with anything.

If needless suffering exists objectively (regardless of our opinions about it), then according to the argument and the rules of logic - the premise that God exists would be false. Whether we've made mistakes in our real world assessments of the existence or non-existence of those things, the argument implies what it implies - necessarily.

AmPat
02-28-2010, 01:25 AM
You would come full circle back to "needless." If needless were proven true, that doesn't mean pointless. God can decide that needless suffering is permitted. He may allow it for good reasons or bad measured against our interpretation of good and bad. Our interpretation may not necessarily match God's interpretation. If God permitted "needless" suffering, He may offer a reward in an afterlife. He can see past, present and future so the suffering that is so horrid and incomprehensible to us would be a blink in time to Him.

wilbur
02-28-2010, 10:27 AM
You would come full circle back to "needless." If needless were proven true, that doesn't mean pointless.


Huh?



God can decide that needless suffering is permitted.


Then he wouldnt be all-good, as an all-good being would prevent unnecessary suffering whereever it could.



He may allow it for good reasons or bad measured against our interpretation of good and bad. Our interpretation may not necessarily match God's interpretation.


So this is just saying yet again, that we might be mistaken in our assessments about what is good or bad, or necessary or unnecessary.



If God permitted "needless" suffering, He may offer a reward in an afterlife. He can see past, present and future so the suffering that is so horrid and incomprehensible to us would be a blink in time to Him.

If God is permitting suffering because it is required to accomplish some better end - that is necessary suffering.

This is all just antoher iteration of the "but God could have good reasons, we just don't know them" appeal to ignorance - and I think I have explained well enough why I think this is extremely weak and unconvincing. In part, because the premise "God exists", is itself, rather unconvincing and at least as questionable as any other premise in the argument. And as I have mentioned before - just because someting is logially possible, that does not make it likely, or even reasonable.

Rockntractor
02-28-2010, 11:16 AM
Huh?




This is all just antoher iteration of the "but God could have good reasons, we just don't know them" appeal to ignorance - and I think I have explained well enough why I think this is extremely weak and unconvincing. In part, because the premise "God exists", is itself, rather unconvincing and at least as questionable as any other premise in the argument. And as I have mentioned before - just because someting is logially possible, that does not make it likely, or even reasonable.
antoher,someting,logially. Wilbur do you still have your brain set for energy saver?:rolleyes:

AmPat
02-28-2010, 11:28 AM
Huh?



Then he wouldnt be all-good, as an all-good being would prevent unnecessary suffering whereever it could.



So this is just saying yet again, that we might be mistaken in our assessments about what is good or bad, or necessary or unnecessary.



If God is permitting suffering because it is required to accomplish some better end - that is necessary suffering.

This is all just antoher iteration of the "but God could have good reasons, we just don't know them" appeal to ignorance - and I think I have explained well enough why I think this is extremely weak and unconvincing. In part, because the premise "God exists", is itself, rather unconvincing and at least as questionable as any other premise in the argument. And as I have mentioned before - just because someting is logially possible, that does not make it likely, or even reasonable.

You don't have to convince me. God has a place for you too. Bad for sure but it ain't the fun and games place you hear joked about. I feel bad for you. For your eternity and your life. How pointless and meaningless. Sad really. I pray for you an enlightenment. Maybe the catalyst for your conversion will be from some of that needless suffering you reject. That is a common factor in most people comming to Christ.

wilbur
02-28-2010, 04:23 PM
You don't have to convince me. God has a place for you too. Bad for sure but it ain't the fun and games place you hear joked about. I feel bad for you. For your eternity and your life. How pointless and meaningless. Sad really. I pray for you an enlightenment. Maybe the catalyst for your conversion will be from some of that needless suffering you reject. That is a common factor in most people comming to Christ.

All irony aside (you referring to my life as meaningless and pointless while defending the idea that it was all necessary), the problem of hell poses even more difficulties for the possibility of an all-good and just God. It has all the issues contained within the problem of suffering and a whole heck of a lot more..

Rockntractor
02-28-2010, 06:46 PM
All irony aside (you referring to my life as meaningless and pointless while defending the idea that it was all necessary
It is pointless for you, entertaining for us!

MrsSmith
02-28-2010, 08:04 PM
At this point, I think I've made my case, so unless you present something new, I don't feel any need to respond further.

This is true. You have no case, end of argument.

wilbur
02-28-2010, 08:19 PM
This is true. You have no case, end of argument.

Ohhh burn!

CaughtintheMiddle1990
03-01-2010, 10:06 AM
The original point I was trying to make with this thread was...
Why should I choose the Christian god? Why not the Islamic God or Jewish God or Hindu Gods or Pagan gods? Why do you choose to be a Christian when there are many other religions out there?

Rockntractor
03-01-2010, 10:18 AM
The original point I was trying to make with this thread was...
Why should I choose the Christian god? Why not the Islamic God or Jewish God or Hindu Gods or Pagan gods? Why do you choose to be a Christian when there are many other religions out there?

The only way you can make that decision is through personal study. I studied all the major religions and all categories of Christianity. I don't believe the way my father did, I believe the way I do.

wilbur
03-01-2010, 10:23 AM
The original point I was trying to make with this thread was...
Why should I choose the Christian god? Why not the Islamic God or Jewish God or Hindu Gods or Pagan gods? Why do you choose to be a Christian when there are many other religions out there?

I don't think most people choose which religion they believe in - the overriding factor that seems to determine what religion a person will follow, is geography. Also, another extremely powerful reason to doubt beliefs about God and religion.

All things being equal, the Christians who argue with me here would probably be defending Hiduism just as enthusiastically, had they been born in India.

Rockntractor
03-01-2010, 10:27 AM
I don't think most people choose which religion they believe in - the overriding factor that seems to determine what religion a person will follow, is geography. Also, another extremely powerful reason to doubt beliefs about God and religion.

All things being equal, the Christians who argue with me here would probably be defending Hiduism just as enthusiastically, had they been born in India.
Wilbur you are willfully ignorant and most people on this board know this by your record of what you except as truth and science.

FlaGator
03-01-2010, 10:31 AM
I don't think most people choose which religion they believe in - the overriding factor that seems to determine what religion a person will follow, is geography. Also, another extremely powerful reason to doubt beliefs about God and religion.

All things being equal, the Christians who argue with me here would probably be defending Hiduism just as enthusiastically, had they been born in India.

Christianity believes that a person does not choose to follow Jesus. I draws him towards Christ and belief in Christ leads to salvation. Some do join do to tradition or geography but that does not mean that they are Christians, it means that they profess to follow Jesus and/or attend a Church. Their actions before the world and their response to the world evidences whether they are truly a Christian. Presiding Bishop Shori of the Episcopal Church claims to be a Christian but will not make the most basic statement of Christian faith, that Christ is the only way to salvation, so to me it seems that she is not yet a Christian only a pretender.

wilbur
03-01-2010, 10:37 AM
Christianity believes that a person does not choose to follow Jesus. I draws him towards Christ and belief in Christ leads to salvation.


Many religions would say the same - yet when we look at how clearly religion correlates with the region and culture one grows up in, we can see that those claims are mostly empty. The religion of the surrounding people is the biggest determining factor.



Some do join do to tradition or geography but that does not mean that they are Christians, it means that they profess to follow Jesus and/or attend a Church. Their actions before the world and their response to the world evidences whether they are truly a Christian. Presiding Bishop Shori of the Episcopal Church claims to be a Christian but will not make the most basic statement of Christian faith, that Christ is the only way to salvation, so to me it seems that she is not yet a Christian only a pretender.

Who says they are pretending - maybe they do genuinely accept it and believe it with their whole hearts.. but the culture in which one grows up seems to have an undeniable effect upon which religion a person will stick with. From here it sounds a little like the heroine addict who says "I'm not the true addict, all those other people are! I choose to shoot up 5 times a day because thats what I want!".

FlaGator
03-01-2010, 11:15 AM
Many religions would say the same - yet when we look at how clearly religion correlates with the region and culture one grows up in, we can see that those claims are mostly empty. The religion of the surrounding people is the biggest determining factor.



Who says they are pretending - maybe they do genuinely accept it and believe it with their whole hearts.. but the culture in which one grows up seems to have an undeniable effect upon which religion a person will stick with. From here it sounds a little like the heroine addict who says "I'm not the true addict, all those other people are! I choose to shoot up 5 times a day because thats what I want!".

That they do not adhere to tenets defined by the person and the holy book upon which their faith is based makes it evident that they are Christians in name only. Christian doctrine is not supposed to be influenced by the culture in which it finds itself but should be an alternative to that culture. In the case of Christianity I believe that its ethics are unchangeable because they were given to us by a God who does not change and is not in error. This is not to say that man cannot misinterpret things, but some things are not open to interpretation.

For example Christ stated "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) To refute that or to deny that and to still use the label of Christian for yourself means you are a pretender. It is to call Christ a liar and to believe that Jesus is a liar (or even mistaken) is to deny His perfection. If Christ is not perfect then his death on the cross could not have saved us from our sins and our faith is meaningless and hollow as atheists claim it to be. To believe that Jesus could err is to completely undermine the religion a person claims to follow. That is illogical.

By the way the analogy that you use (the insult to Christianity did not escape my notice but I'll use it anyways) is backward. It's like an addict among ex-addicts professing to be an ex-addict even though he does not accept the treatment plan and lifestyle changes that the other ex-addicts use to stay clean.

wilbur
03-01-2010, 11:38 AM
That they do not adhere to tenets defined by the person and the holy book upon which their faith is based makes it evident that they are Christians in name only. Christian doctrine is not supposed to be influenced by the culture in which it finds itself but should be an alternative to that culture. In the case of Christianity I believe that its ethics are unchangeable because they were given to us by a God who does not change and is not in error. This is not to say that man cannot misinterpret things, but some things are not open to interpretation.

For example Christ stated "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) To refute that or to deny that and to still use the label of Christian for yourself means you are a pretender. It is to call Christ a liar and to believe that Jesus is a liar (or even mistaken) is to deny His perfection. If Christ is not perfect then his death on the cross could not have saved us from our sins and our faith is meaningless and hollow as atheists claim it to be. To believe that Jesus could err is to completely undermine the religion a person claims to follow. That is illogical.

By the way the analogy that you use (the insult to Christianity did not escape my notice but I'll use it anyways) is backward. It's like an addict among ex-addicts professing to be an ex-addict even though he does not accept the treatment plan and lifestyle changes that the other ex-addicts use to stay clean.

I am talking about culturally reinforced bias which seems to have an undeniable impact on a persons religious choice, not the intentional choice to believe what is popular. Most people who choose their religions probably don't think their decision is unduly influenced by surrounding culture - they actually believe they are making independent and informed choice of faith, but, in fact, really are not.

The fact is, people of any faith will say similar things and attest that they honestly questioned, honestly searched, and "just happened" to come to the conclusion that their religion is the truth. Strangely enough, when people do this - in the vast majority of cases, the religion they have chosen, is some form of the predominant religion of their culture. Sheer coincidence? I think not. This suggests that people don't really actually pick their religion through a rational examination of its tenets, or by looking at how likely it is to be true, even if they truly believe they have. Religion choice looks like a result of involuntary cognitive bias.

FlaGator
03-01-2010, 11:56 AM
I am talking about culturally reinforced bias which seems to have an undeniable impact on a persons religious choice, not the intentional choice to believe what is popular. Most people who choose their religions probably don't think their decision is unduly influenced by surrounding culture - they actually believe they are making independent and informed choice of faith, but, in fact, really are not.

The fact is, people of any faith will say similar things and attest that they honestly questioned, honestly searched, and "just happened" to come to the conclusion that their religion is the truth. Strangely enough, when people do this - in the vast majority of cases, the religion they have chosen, is some form of the predominant religion of their culture. This suggests that people don't really actually pick their religion through a rational examination of its tenets, or by looking at how likely it is to be true, even if they think they have. Religion choice looks like a result of involuntary cognitive bias.

The foundations of Christianity were not cultural to a large degree. It was inclusive of all cultures because it was set apart from them. Originally it was the expansion of Hebrew beliefs, but it denied much of the laws that defined the cultural identity of the Jew. No longer was the dietary laws enforced, circumcision was not mandated, the sacrifice rituals where no longer necessary and worship at the temple was not required. The Greeks and Romans were accepted and their cultural mandates where not necessary to an individual to belong. Same with the minority pagan religions of the time.

Christianity was unifying for those called to faith by God by not being bound by the surrounding cultures but being alternatives to them while at the sametime existing within them. The fact that Christianity started to become associated with some aspects of the cultures in which it found itself doesn't not necessarily speak well of the beliefs that were infused if those believes stand contrary to the ethics and practices set forth by Jesus Christ. You then have a bastardization of the faith which is what you see now happening to the mainstream Protestant denominations. They are adopting they ways of the world in an attempt to be relevant (and stuff their coffers) but the unexpected is happening (unexpected to them that is) people are leaving to Churches that have a more traditional faith or they are leaving all together. After all, if I worship the same things as the world then why do I need to go to Church to do it? I can sleep in on Sundays and accomplish the same thing.

wilbur
03-01-2010, 12:14 PM
The foundations of Christianity were not cultural to a large degree. It was inclusive of all cultures because it was set apart from them. Originally it was the expansion of Hebrew beliefs, but it denied much of the laws that defined the cultural identity of the Jew. No longer was the dietary laws enforced, circumcision was not mandated, the sacrifice rituals where no longer necessary and worship at the temple was not required. The Greeks and Romans were accepted and their cultural mandates where not necessary to an individual to belong. Same with the minority pagan religions of the time.

Christianity was unifying for those called to faith by God by not being bound by the surrounding cultures but being alternatives to them while at the sametime existing within them. The fact that Christianity started to become associated with some aspects of the cultures in which it found itself doesn't not necessarily speak well of the beliefs that were infused if those believes stand contrary to the ethics and practices set forth by Jesus Christ. You then have a bastardization of the faith which is what you see now happening to the mainstream Protestant denominations. They are adopting they ways of the world in an attempt to be relevant (and stuff their coffers) but the unexpected is happening (unexpected to them that is) people are leaving to Churches that have a more traditional faith or they are leaving all together. After all, if I worship the same things as the world then why do I need to go to Church to do it? I can sleep in on Sundays and accomplish the same thing.

Yes, its true that religions can be invented, they can grow, they can spread, and even rise to power at the expense of an existing predominant religion. I'm sure there are quite a lot of complex social conditions that can contribute to it, but none of this negates my thesis. Christianity was once a regions black sheep, the Scientology of its day, and came to pre-eminence - well except for where it didn't. But so what?

None of this speaks to the fact, that by and large, people seem to be blissfully unawares that their religion is most often determined by the culture in which they grew up, not by a rational choice.

Rockntractor
03-01-2010, 12:17 PM
Yes, its true that religions can be invented, they can grow, they can spread, and even rise to power at the expense of an existing predominant religion. I'm sure there are quite a lot of complex social conditions that can contribute to it, but none of this negates my thesis. Christianity was once a regions black sheep, the Scientology of its day, and came to pre-eminence - well except for where it didn't. But so what?

None of this speaks to the fact, that by and large, people seem to be blissfully unawares that their religion is most often determined by the culture in which they grew up, not by a rational choice.

Like your global warming religion that even has death cults now.

FlaGator
03-01-2010, 12:20 PM
Yes, its true that religions can be invented, they can grow, they can spread, and even rise to power at the expense of an existing predominant religion. I'm sure there are quite a lot of complex social conditions that can contribute to it, but none of this negates my thesis. Christianity was once a regions black sheep, the Scientology of its day, and came to pre-eminence - well except for where it didn't. But so what?

None of this speaks to the fact, that by and large, people seem to be blissfully unawares that their religion is most often determined by the culture in which they grew up, not by a rational choice.

But what is rational can and is defined by the culture. Culturally it was rational to kill witches at one time. In some emerging cultures it still is. What is rational now may have once been irrational.

wilbur
03-01-2010, 12:45 PM
But what is rational can and is defined by the culture. Culturally it was rational to kill witches at one time. In some emerging cultures it still is. What is rational now may have once been irrational.

This is relativism - of the same kind you were complaining about a few posts back. What is rational is an objective measure, not a subjective preference.

A culture might be mistaken about what is rational and what isnt - but something irrational will never actually be rational just because a lot of people happen to mistakenly think that it is.

FlaGator
03-01-2010, 01:06 PM
This is relativism - of the same kind you were complaining about a few posts back. What is rational is an objective measure, not a subjective preference.

A culture might be mistaken about what is rational and what isnt - but something irrational will never actually be rational just because a lot of people happen to mistakenly think that it is.

I don't like it either, but rational has always been subjective, so let's take a look at it. Something rational in the reality that we live in such as every effect having a cause is not rational in the quantum world were effects need not have a cause. So which is the rational view of reality? Both the quantum world and the large scale world exist in the overall structure of the universe so can both be right and rational. Does every effect have a cause or are there causeless effects?

On edit: if in a year from now scientists discover that there is no global warming caused by humans and it is in fact a natural occurance on the Earth would you say that your position now is irrational? From your previous post that is the assumption that you would have to draw.

I find it interesting that you are making the same argument about the world rational that Christians make about the word truth.

FlaGator
03-04-2010, 12:43 PM
Bumping because I am interested in wilbur's answer.

Wei Wu Wei
03-04-2010, 02:48 PM
Maybe so.
But seriously..for me that's the hardest thing about faith, in that there's so many choices, it's like how should I know which one is the ''right'' choice? They can't all be right since they all contradict each other. I mean even the 3 most closely related religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) contradict each other on some very important details.

I'll just say start with emptying your mind of your preconceptions.

Say 3 men are stuck on different parts of a mountain, and they want to get to the top (God). Each man would have different directions (depending on what side of the mountain he is on) and different rules and advice (depending on the terrain he will face).

While the end goal is the same goal, the path can be different, and sometimes even directly contrary, and they can both be right.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily true of the Abrahamic religions, but only that you should step back from what you think is "obvious"

Wei Wu Wei
03-04-2010, 02:50 PM
This is relativism - of the same kind you were complaining about a few posts back. What is rational is an objective measure, not a subjective preference.

A culture might be mistaken about what is rational and what isnt - but something irrational will never actually be rational just because a lot of people happen to mistakenly think that it is.

What is rational is objective, but the rational part is only the process. The part that is culturally relative is the starting propositions.

Different cultures with different starting propositions can both act perfectly rationally even though they are doing something different.

Something isn't inherently rational or irrational, only in the face of it's starting propositions.

wilbur
03-08-2010, 11:07 AM
I don't like it either, but rational has always been subjective, so let's take a look at it. Something rational in the reality that we live in such as every effect having a cause is not rational in the quantum world were effects need not have a cause. So which is the rational view of reality? Both the quantum world and the large scale world exist in the overall structure of the universe so can both be right and rational. Does every effect have a cause or are there causeless effects?

On edit: if in a year from now scientists discover that there is no global warming caused by humans and it is in fact a natural occurrence on the Earth would you say that your position now is irrational? From your previous post that is the assumption that you would have to draw.

I find it interesting that you are making the same argument about the world rational that Christians make about the word truth.

I've been thinking about this, and I think we are just using the term differently. I looked around, and discovered many more theories about rationality exist than I had realized. I know, of course, that you are correct to use the term the way you do, and that rationality can be relative. But on the other hand, it is also commonly used they way that I am using it, so I also think that I am correct to use it in the way that I do. So whats going on here?

The kind of rationality you are referring too seems to be what some call 'instrumental rationality', where being rational is a matter of optimally acting in accordance with one's goals. Of course, what is rational would be relative to ones goals. On the other hand, I'm using the term 'rational' in a sense that is more in line with whats called 'epistemic rationality', which talks about the rationality of a belief as a measure of how closely it tracks with reality. I didn't even really catch the difference till I started reading more about different theories of rationality.

Again, you are right of course, that rationality in some contexts, is relative (to one's goals, and prior knowledge). But other forms of it, are relative to reality (not goals), and I think this form is more true to what I was trying to convey.

In any case, I'll be happy to amend my statement, so there is no more ambiguity: "None of this speaks to the fact, that by and large, people seem to be blissfully unaware that their religion is most often determined by the culture in which they grew up, not by (old: a rational decision) an honest, unbiased assessment of how well that religion corresponds with reality."

In other words, despite what people may think, their choice of religion really has little to do with how true it is.

FlaGator
03-08-2010, 11:56 AM
I've been thinking about this, and I think we are just using the term differently. I looked around, and discovered many more theories about rationality exist than I had realized. I know, of course, that you are correct to use the term the way you do, and that rationality can be relative. But on the other hand, it is also commonly used they way that I am using it, so I also think that I am correct to use it in the way that I do. So whats going on here?

The kind of rationality you are referring too seems to be what some call 'instrumental rationality', where being rational is a matter of optimally acting in accordance with one's goals. Of course, what is rational would be relative to ones goals. On the other hand, I'm using the term 'rational' in a sense that is more in line with whats called 'epistemic rationality', which talks about the rationality of a belief as a measure of how closely it tracks with reality. I didn't even really catch the difference till I started reading more about different theories of rationality.

Again, you are right of course, that rationality in some contexts, is relative (to one's goals, and prior knowledge). But other forms of it, are relative to reality (not goals), and I think this form is more true to what I was trying to convey.

In any case, I'll be happy to amend my statement, so there is no more ambiguity: "None of this speaks to the fact, that by and large, people seem to be blissfully unaware that their religion is most often determined by the culture in which they grew up, not by (old: a rational decision) an honest, unbiased assessment of how well that religion corresponds with reality."

In other words, despite what people may think, their choice of religion really has little to do with how true it is.

At present what you say is true due to the cultural influence that individual belief systems have had on individual cultures over the centuries. With that said, other than the Jewish culture early Christianity had not been influencial to societies that it became apart of, yet it grew very quickly. It it was a semite belief system that was foreign to most of the cultures that supplied converts so I don't that a cultural predisposion to Christianity is an adequate explanation for it's initial spread. Also, for the first time, the process of conversion was not an aspect of aggression and conquest (that occurred later after Rome adapted Christianity as its state religion).

I will agree with you about the cultural acceptence of other religions. Islam, for example, seems to have be built around ideology that was appealing to the arab cultures in which it was invented. It tried to spread based on its ideology but eventually it had to rely on conquest and force to be adapted by other cultures. Now it is a cultural choice in most instances.

For me, when I choose my belief system it was Taoism, a sect of Buddhist beliefs. I did not do this for cultural reasons, I did this because I found the tenets and ethics of Taoism agreeable to me. I converted to Christianity because God gifted me with His grace. I was not evangelized by anyone nor did anyone witness to me. Least of all, the culture of my upbringing had nothing to do with it. Until God called me I really didn't care much for Christianity nor did I have the understanding of Jesus that I know have. Regardless of what you may think is possible and impossible, I did not choose my faith it chose me.

wilbur
03-08-2010, 12:17 PM
At present what you say is true due to the cultural influence that individual belief systems have had on individual cultures over the centuries. With that said, other than the Jewish culture early Christianity had not been influencial to societies that it became apart of, yet it grew very quickly. It it was a semite belief system that was foreign to most of the cultures that supplied converts so I don't that a cultural predisposion to Christianity is an adequate explanation for it's initial spread. Also, for the first time, the process of conversion was not an aspect of aggression and conquest (that occurred later after Rome adapted Christianity as its state religion).

I will agree with you about the cultural acceptence of other religions. Islam, for example, seems to have be built around ideology that was appealing to the arab cultures in which it was invented. It tried to spread based on its ideology but eventually it had to rely on conquest and force to be adapted by other cultures. Now it is a cultural choice in most instances.


Christianity wasn't such a huge moral departure from the time that it would be surprising for Romans to adopt it. Not to mention, we all know how integrated paganism became within Christianity, from the saints to the holidays (winter solstice). Christianity is so infused with pagan ideas, I'm not sure why you think it was so culturally incompatible with Rome. Just like you claim of Islam, the religion was adapted to be culturally attractive to the dominant culture.



For me, when I choose my belief system it was Taoism, a sect of Buddhist beliefs. I did not do this for cultural reasons, I did this because I found the tenets and ethics of Taoism agreeable to me. I converted to Christianity because God gifted me with His grace. I was not evangelized by anyone nor did anyone witness to me. Least of all, the culture of my upbringing had nothing to do with it. Until God called me I really didn't care much for Christianity nor did I have the understanding of Jesus that I know have. Regardless of what you may think is possible and impossible, I did not choose my faith it chose me.

Well, I already said a conceded that religion, in a birthing process, is probably different enough from the common case as such that it isnt really comparable to the common contemporary case . What I'm talking about is the common contemporary case, in a stable society. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say religions in the throes of their birth, probably have more in common with rebellions or counter-culture movements than anything else. I'm not saying that exceptions can't happen.

You, for instance, have a pretty common story. It stands to reason, that most people who offer up such a story, are really unwitting victims of cognitive biases hidden from conscious thought. Though they may think they have objectively come to some independent decision, they have not. There simply is no better explanation for why people tend to chose the religion of their surrounding culture - or some form of it.

FlaGator
03-08-2010, 01:43 PM
Christianity wasn't such a huge moral departure from the time that it would be surprising for Romans to adopt it. Not to mention, we all know how integrated paganism became within Christianity, from the saints to the holidays (winter solstice). Christianity is so infused with pagan ideas, I'm not sure why you think it was so culturally incompatible with Rome. Just like you claim of Islam, the religion was adapted to be culturally attractive to the dominant culture.

Christianity was a major departure from Roman and Greek culture. They were polytheistic and all though Rome was adoptive of other faiths the did not tolerate Christians because Christians refused to submit to the deity of Cesaer. This was the cause of much persecution and martrydom. An unusual said effect was that the martyring of Christians seemed to attract believers. The faithful grew in numbers instead of lessening.

You really should read more on Church history that what liberals tell you. In the first 300 years there was hardly any infusion of pagan beliefs. Read the works of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Ireneous and Polycarp for a better understand of the beginnings of Christian faith. There were there at the time trying to keep paganism form infiltrating Christianity. Also, there is only a little truth to the infusing of pagan rituals in to Christianity (Christmas is the most over blown one that get used to show that Christianity adopted pagan rituals).