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Do Religious People Really Believe in Their Religion?


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No, there is something more objective than personal subjectivity and less mythological than God in which to ground morality, and that is in society and our social love of humanity, which together provide the foundation for the same ethics that religion attempts to establish pictorially rather than conceptually, by positing a dogmatic mythology.

 

I disagree. You "social love of humanity" is just as subjective. If someone hates humanity and wants to see it destroyed, do they get an objective morality from their "social hatred of humanity"? I don't think so.

 

It would be a real pity if the only reason we had for being good to each other were our mutual belief in a mythologial being who told us to do this and who would punish us later if we didn't! In that case, our belief would lack all moral significance, and would express only our recognition of the utilitarian benefit of avoiding punishment.

 

I will leave aside your profound misunderstanding of Christian motivations for a moment, and ask why would this be a pity? Who are you to judge what is or isn't a pity? Why does the "utilitarian benefit of avoiding punishment" have less moral significance then the "utilitarian benefit of maximising pleasure" that most atheists use for their moral basis?

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There is something quite odd, and completely unique, with the whole epistemological attitude of believers towards their religion. Just as their everyday emotions and attitudes, such as the ease with

It is easier to die for your beliefs, than to actually live them day by day.

Marat, iNow: If we are arguing the morality of God, do we not need to assume the accuracy of the Bible in describing him? Much like we can discuss the morality of Robin Hood, but need to assume the ac

Yes, this is pretty much how Aquinas formulated it eight hundred years ago. He thrashed it very soundly. Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense out of Suffering" is a great book on the subject. As is CS Lewis's "The Problem of Pain". Really, this argument has been beaten so hard that it's kind of astonishing to me that it keeps coming back.

 

The thing is, it doesn't have intellectual teeth, but it has emotional teeth. When we hear stories of terrible, pointless suffering, such as your woman giving birth in the forest, our hearts rend. "It shouldn't be like this!" we cry. And our tears cloud our thoughts.

 

The thing is, despite our tears, you can't do anything but assert is that suffering is inherently evil. It is at least possible that our suffering, and the suffering of the woman in the forest, and even the suffering of children, is somehow a necessary part of a greater good.

God has, according to the bible, been able to give people direct knowledge of things. So He could give us directly the knowledge of the lessons lernt from suffering without anyone having to suffer. Thus suffering as a leraning tool, or for any other use (other than to cause suffering) is not logical (as there are was to achieve the exact same effect without the need for suffering at all).

 

Giving someone this knowledge does not violate freewill, so it can not be for this reason either.

 

In shoprt, there is no reason for suffering that makes any logical or rational sense, other than the two I have presented:

1) God does not exist

2) God wants us to suffer (suffering for the sake of suffering)

 

We can't know. Our lives are the lives of amoebas in a microscope slide; only the scientist on the other side of the microscope can truly see the big picture. And apparently, the scientist thinks that suffering is not inherently evil, because he voluntarily endured the worst suffering that our world has to offer. He suffered as much as the woman in the woods. He suffered every bit as much as the baby that was devoured, and he came out glorified on the other side and told us, "Be not afraid."

I am not saying that suffering is evil or good. It doesn't actually matter to my argument if it is either. What matters is if suffering is avoidable or not. God has the power to avoid us suffering, so if God is truly omnipotent (even in the way you describe) and loves us, then He would eliminate avoidable suffering, which as God Created suffering, and I have shown that there are ways to avoid (some if not all) suffering then why does God still allow this avoidable suffering?

 

I don't deny the emotional punch of suffering. But using it to tear down the belief structure which allows suffering to be redemptive rather than just bad luck is tragically misguided.

So you object to somone pointing our flaws in your belief system... :doh:

 

The reason the bible requiers suffering is for redemption, but this suffering is necesary for God to forgive us. I can forgive people without them needing to suffer, does this make me a better "person" than God? If God can't forgive without somone having to suffer for it, then I truely am greater than God because I can do something that He can't (forgive wihtout having anyone suffer for it).

 

This is what you are really trying to argue: God is incapable of fogiveness without causing someone to suffer for it.

 

As it is possible (and therefore God should have this power even according to your definition of omnipotence), then God shoudl have this power too, or He is not Omnipotent.

You misunderstand the doctrine of omnipotence. What it means is that God can do anything which can be done, not that God can do anything which Edtharan can say. Asserting that he can control our every move and leave us with free will is like saying he can draw a four-sided figure and it will be a triangle.

 

Jimmy Akin does an excellent job explaining this point here:

 

My linkhttp://www.jimmyakin.org/2010/08/th.html

LOL. God created suffering, so then would He not have the power to uncreate it, or not create it in the first place... :eyebrow:

 

So Cain swings his club at Abel, and is instantly transported to an alternate reality where Abel is some kind of simulacrum? In this new reality, Cain clobbers Abel; in the first reality, robot Cain gives Abel a big hug?

 

So every sin results in the creation of a brand new reality populated with homonculi that exist only to do the sinner's bidding. It won't be long until every human on earth is isolated in their own little pocket realities, interacting only with these faked instances.

Have you heard of the "Many Worlds" interperetation of Quantum Mechanics, this is similar to that (instead of sin though, it is every time an interaction between particles occurs).

 

God, could then cause these seperate realities to merge again later. Again, using Quaqntum Mechancis and the Many World interperetation of it, these mergers would be like the "Sum over Histories" that are used to calculate quantum behaviours.

 

This means such "Many Worlds" interperetation of Sin actually makes a mathematical sense and thus comes under what is posible. So, as you siad, God can do anyhting that is posible, and if He can create a Universe, why not more, and why not use that power to eliminate suffering.

 

You think this would actually be superior to the Christian view that God actually respects our choices? That our acts have some sort of impact on the world, beyond our private personal sandboxes? :unsure: Suit yourself, I guess. But you're not presenting any sort of logical argument against God here, you're simply pouting that he doesn't do things the way you like.

 

 

The set of all even numbers is limited, but infinite.

In this, the choices are still respected, just that God uses His power (that the bible says He has) to eliminate suffering. As God can eliminate suffering, then why does He allow it.

 

So to sum up:

1) God created suffering (or at least our capacity to suffer)

2) Not all suffering is necesary (that is suffering is not needed to teach)

3) With the suffering that does exist, there are way to avoid it that are logically possible (as it is possible to figrive without the need of suffering, therefore redemptive suffering is not necesary)

4) God does not do anything to stop us experiencing this suffering

 

therefore, either:

A) God does not exist

B) God wants us to suffer for the sake of suffering

 

This measn that either God does not exist or God is cruel (and thus not a God I would want to worship if He did exist - fear yes, but not worship).

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Severian: I would say that the grounding in social morality of the virtues usually based on the command of God clearly provides them with all the objective basis that we can ever reliably detect in the real world. If you believe that it is an 'objective fact' that the English word 'tree' means the leafy green bushes we see growing with a certain characteristic dimension around us, then you recognize that intersubjectively agreed upon meanings, supported by nothing more than the common practise of humans, can constitute our objective reality. It is in this sense that we can say that 'murder is wrong' is just as much an objective truth, grounded in our social system, as 'money has value,' 'leaves are green,' or 'maps are properly oriented with North at the top' are. Things don't need to be transculturally true for all times to be objectively true, they only need to be more firmly anchored in socially constituted, public belief and values than the relatively less objective beliefs of individuals. Thus if you surveyed 1000 people and asked them whether the statement, 'chocolate is better than vanilla,' which is my personal, subjective belief, is more or less objective than the statement, 'murder is evil,' all of them would agree that the evil or murder is clearly more objective than the superiority of chocolate to vanilla. This relative objectivity is the highest objectivity that exists in the real world for values, though the primitive mind wants some transcendental support for values above all capacity of positive evidence to confirm them, and it sets this in an imaginary old man in the sky who reassures us that murder is indeed necessarily evil.

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No, there is something more objective than personal subjectivity and less mythological than God in which to ground morality, and that is in society and our social love of humanity, which together provide the foundation for the same ethics that religion attempts to establish pictorially rather than conceptually, by positing a dogmatic mythology.

 

It would be a real pity if the only reason we had for being good to each other were our mutual belief in a mythologial being who told us to do this and who would punish us later if we didn't! In that case, our belief would lack all moral significance, and would express only our recognition of the utilitarian benefit of avoiding punishment.

****EDITED

That would indeed be a pity. The better Christian motivation is out of love for God and neighbor, rather than fear of punishment. A greater pity would be if someone decided that in the absence of a truly objective grounds for morality, anything is permissible. You are fooling yourself if you think that no atheists have come to that conclusion.

 

The thing I've never understood with proposed atheistic moral grounds is: why exactly should I feel beholden to a conscience that is either the product of social trends or of evolution? Consider - evolution has given me a particular instinct for catching myself when I fall. That instinct is to land on my hands/arms. Better than landing on my head, for sure - but very suboptimal when compared to proper breakfall techniques. So, if I want to improve my fall safety, I need to learn to ignore my instincts and develop new ones.

 

Why shouldn't I regard my instinctive moral compass in the exact same way? A suboptimal vestige of a no-longer-relevant past environment, to be ignored at my discretion?

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You are confusing the subjective will to do what one imagines or fantasies to be good, with "moral truth". There is no such thing as moral truth if there is no God. It is irrational to say that people ought to behave in a certain way. You can ask people to cooperate with your desires; but this does not tell us what is truly right and what is truly wrong; for there is no right or wrong with out God.

Why not?

 

I can define what is right and wrong in mathematics because we have a set of agreed-upon rules and axioms that can be used to prove or disprove a conclusion. Similarly, I could construct a set of morals that could be used to prove or disprove that a given action is morally good.

 

You are arguing that because God's rules are promulgated by God, they are absolute. Why do we need absolute rules when man-made ones, like mathematical systems, do just fine?

 

I suppose the ultimate question is how one ought to behave, and one could choose to disagree with the basis of rules for what is right and wrong, meaning everyone does the "wrong" thing. God can't be wrong, so you can't disagree with His rules. But I'd argue that, as a species, we agree on many of the basic rules of right and wrong because of evolution. See The Science of Good and Evil by Shermer.

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That would indeed be a pity. The better Christian motivation is out of love for God and neighbor, rather than fear of punishment. A greater pity would be if someone decided that in the absence of a truly objective grounds for morality, anything is permissible. You are fooling yourself if you think that no atheists have come to that conclusion.

 

Well certainly plenty of theists have come to the conclusion that everything is permissible. Mostly a type of Christians, I think. After all, all that is needed to forgive every sin is to accept Jesus' sacrifice, right? It really didn't take people very long to figure that out!

 

"Everything is permissible for me" -- Apostle Paul

 

The thing I've never understood with proposed atheistic moral grounds is: why exactly should I feel beholden to a conscience that is either the product of social trends or of evolution? Consider - evolution has given me a particular instinct for catching myself when I fall. That instinct is to land on my hands/arms. Better than landing on my head, for sure - but very suboptimal when compared to proper breakfall techniques. So, if I want to improve my fall safety, I need to learn to ignore my instincts and develop new ones.

 

Why shouldn't I regard my instinctive moral compass in the exact same way? A suboptimal vestige of a no-longer-relevant past environment, to be ignored at my discretion?

 

And who is suggesting we simply go with our instincts? In our modern society that would be a recipe for disaster! No, we reason out the best moral codes for our time, rather than rely on instinctive or traditional morals. And the most important morals which we can enforce, we codify into laws.

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therefore, either:

A) God does not exist

B.) God wants us to suffer for the sake of suffering

 

This measn that either God does not exist or God is cruel (and thus not a God I would want to worship if He did exist - fear yes, but not worship).

Third option - God wants us to suffer, not for the sake of suffering, but because the suffering serves a good and worthwhile purpose.

 

Did my parents want me to suffer as a child? Clearly they did, or they wouldn't have dragged me to the doctors for all those painful tests and vaccinations, wouldn't have forced me to sit through hours of school for 13 years, wouldn't have made me brush my teeth which I found painfully tedious.

 

Could they have avoided that suffering? Well, yes, in that they could have kept me out of the doctors' and dentists' offices, kept me out of school and let me never brush my teeth.

 

The fact that this suffering was avoidable doesn't mean that they were cruel or horrible, though, because they knew that these things all served a purpose and all had benefits, and THAT, not mere senseless cruelty, is why they did these things.

 

You'll say 'oh, but God could achieve the purpose without the accompanying suffering'. But here's a newsflash - God COULD have done lots of things that He CHOSE not to do. And vice versa. He COULD have created us as asexual beings, for example, neither male nor female and reproducing without the joys and pains of the dating and mating process.

 

He COULD have not bothered sending Christ to save us after Adam and Eve sinned and left us all damned.

 

He COULD have just not bothered with creating us in the first place.

 

God makes choices. He's allowed to, it's His universe. Not ours, so our choices are much more limited

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Third option - God wants us to suffer, not for the sake of suffering, but because the suffering serves a good and worthwhile purpose.

My argument was that there is suffering that is not necesary. If it serves a good and worthwhile purpose, then it is not the type of suffering I was arguing against. :doh:

 

Did my parents want me to suffer as a child? Clearly they did, or they wouldn't have dragged me to the doctors for all those painful tests and vaccinations, wouldn't have forced me to sit through hours of school for 13 years, wouldn't have made me brush my teeth which I found painfully tedious.

No, your parents didn't want you to suffer, it was due to their lack of omnipitance that they could not prevent you from suffering. :doh:

 

Could they have avoided that suffering? Well, yes, in that they could have kept me out of the doctors' and dentists' offices, kept me out of school and let me never brush my teeth.

No.

 

If they had the power to make your teeth perfect and not rot, then they would have kept you out of the dentist because it would be unnecesary. If they had the power to prevent you from getting sick, then you would never have had to go to the doctors.

 

It is because your parents are finite, limited beings that they have to use what power they have (the power of the doctors and dentists) to prevent greater suffering from occuring to you.

 

As God created sickness, and could prevent our teeth from decaying (by not creating the bacteria that cause tooth decay - or creating a material that does not decay and having our teeth made from that), then He could have prevented this kind of suffering if He wnated to.

 

The fact that this suffering was avoidable doesn't mean that they were cruel or horrible, though, because they knew that these things all served a purpose and all had benefits, and THAT, not mere senseless cruelty, is why they did these things.

CAUSING unecesary suffering is cruel. Causing necesary suffering is not cruel (but not good either).

 

If God exists, then He created these things, and thus created the suffering that goes with them. He also created our ability to suffer, so not only did He create the things that can cause us to suffer, He could have created us without the ability to suffer in the first place.

 

Thus, God is the CAUSE of our suffering, and as He could have done it otherwise, this suffering is unecesary. As causing unceseary suffering is cruel, then God is cruel.

 

You'll say 'oh, but God could achieve the purpose without the accompanying suffering'. But here's a newsflash - God COULD have done lots of things that He CHOSE not to do. And vice versa. He COULD have created us as asexual beings, for example, neither male nor female and reproducing without the joys and pains of the dating and mating process.

Yes, choosing to cause suffering, when there was a viable alternative to do so without causing suffering is curel.

 

Remember I am talking aobut unnecesary suffering, not necesary suffering. As you are sayning that God could ahve chosen not to cuase us suffering and yet achieve the same goals, then this suffering is cruel. As God this the cause of this unnecesary suffering, and could stop it any any time, then God is cruel.

 

He COULD have not bothered sending Christ to save us after Adam and Eve sinned and left us all damned.

 

He COULD have just not bothered with creating us in the first place.

 

God makes choices. He's allowed to, it's His universe. Not ours, so our choices are much more limited

Yes, and if those choices are cruel, then God is cruel. :doh:

 

Also, about Adam and Even, God knew that the serpent was lieing to them and He could have stepped in at any point and told Adam and Eve that the serpent was doing this. Adam and Even would still have been free to eat the fruit of the tree and commit sin, but God CHOSE to allow them to act with imperfect information (which is a way of removing free will) and so they sinned (the inevitable result of being lied to). Not only that, the serpent was only made to "crawl on his belly", where as Adam and Eve were cast out of eden and made to suffer, but even more so, the decendents of Adam and Eve, who never had the choice to comit that sin were then also made to suffer the same punishment as Adam and Eve.

 

Punishing those that are not guilty of a crime is wrong and unethical. Haivng that punishment as unnecesary suffering is also crule. So God now is immoral and cruel. Your arguments are just getting you in deeper and deeper here. They are not actually addressing the issue (that unnecesary suffering is cruel and one who causes that unncessary suffering is also cruel) and not only that, they are just providing more evidence that God really is cruel (ie: You are saying that God is the one that makes the decision to cause uncesesary suffering and that He could have chosen otherwise).

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The problem with Needimprovement's argument seems to be that we have two purely metaphysical postulates: 1) God exists; 2) suffering has some transcendental point so that it serves some mysterious, ultimate good which our finite minds cannot comprehend. From this he draws the conclusion that the second unprovable postulate can come to the rescue of the first unprovable postulate, and so the mysterious reason for suffering can somehow negate its ability to challenge the idea that God is omnipotent and infinitely good. But his opponents are asking for some demonstration that these postulates are either empirically verifiable or logically demonstrable, and Needimprovement seems to rely on faith or revelation for his belief in them, so his position remains unconvincing.

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God has, according to the bible, been able to give people direct knowledge of things. So He could give us directly the knowledge of the lessons lernt from suffering without anyone having to suffer. Thus suffering as a leraning tool, or for any other use (other than to cause suffering) is not logical (as there are was to achieve the exact same effect without the need for suffering at all).

I never said it's a learning tool. I said it could serve a purpose we don't understand.

 

Giving someone this knowledge does not violate freewill, so it can not be for this reason either.

Again, I didn't say anything about knowledge violating freewill.

 

In shoprt, there is no reason for suffering that makes any logical or rational sense, other than the two I have presented:

1) God does not exist

2) God wants us to suffer (suffering for the sake of suffering)

 

 

I am not saying that suffering is evil or good. It doesn't actually matter to my argument if it is either. What matters is if suffering is avoidable or not. God has the power to avoid us suffering, so if God is truly omnipotent (even in the way you describe) and loves us, then He would eliminate avoidable suffering, which as God Created suffering, and I have shown that there are ways to avoid (some if not all) suffering then why does God still allow this avoidable suffering?

Of course it matters. If suffering is in fact good, then suffering can't very well prove that God is evil. So again, either prove that suffering is evil, or admit that you can't.

 

So you object to somone pointing our flaws in your belief system... :doh:

No, I'm happy to discuss perceived flaws in my belief system. My point was that in tearing down Christianity because of suffering, you are attacking a religion which allows suffering to have a value, which strikes me as counterproductive.

 

The reason the bible requiers suffering is for redemption, but this suffering is necesary for God to forgive us. I can forgive people without them needing to suffer, does this make me a better "person" than God? If God can't forgive without somone having to suffer for it, then I truely am greater than God because I can do something that He can't (forgive wihtout having anyone suffer for it).

 

This is what you are really trying to argue: God is incapable of fogiveness without causing someone to suffer for it.

That is not at all what I'm trying to argue. Redemption and forgiveness are different things.

 

As it is possible (and therefore God should have this power even according to your definition of omnipotence), then God shoudl have this power too, or He is not Omnipotent.

First, we have no way of evaluating whether redemption without suffering is possible. It may not be, for reasons that we can't discern. But even if it's possible, we have absolutely no way to determine that redemption without suffering is better in any objective way, and therefore your whole argument falls apart.

 

Have you heard of the "Many Worlds" interperetation of Quantum Mechanics, this is similar to that (instead of sin though, it is every time an interaction between particles occurs).

 

God, could then cause these seperate realities to merge again later. Again, using Quaqntum Mechancis and the Many World interperetation of it, these mergers would be like the "Sum over Histories" that are used to calculate quantum behaviours.

 

This means such "Many Worlds" interperetation of Sin actually makes a mathematical sense and thus comes under what is posible. So, as you siad, God can do anyhting that is posible, and if He can create a Universe, why not more, and why not use that power to eliminate suffering.

Because temporal suffering is not evil, and therefore its existence does not conflict with his benevolence. And because, like I explained and you ignored, this personal-universes thing might just not suit his purposes.

 

In this, the choices are still respected, just that God uses His power (that the bible says He has) to eliminate suffering. As God can eliminate suffering, then why does He allow it.

 

So to sum up:

1) God created suffering (or at least our capacity to suffer)

2) Not all suffering is necesary (that is suffering is not needed to teach)

3) With the suffering that does exist, there are way to avoid it that are logically possible (as it is possible to figrive without the need of suffering, therefore redemptive suffering is not necesary)

4) God does not do anything to stop us experiencing this suffering

 

 

therefore, either:

A) God does not exist

B) God wants us to suffer for the sake of suffering

OR God wants us to suffer for some higher purpose which we cannot fully discern.

 

Well certainly plenty of theists have come to the conclusion that everything is permissible. Mostly a type of Christians, I think. After all, all that is needed to forgive every sin is to accept Jesus' sacrifice, right? It really didn't take people very long to figure that out!

 

"Everything is permissible for me" -- Apostle Paul

Are you seriously suggesting that Paul didn't hold himself to a strict moral code? That... is a fascinating interpretation of his many epistles exhorting people to hold to a strict moral code. But hey, you've got one out of context sentence fragment, so you're probably right.

 

And who is suggesting we simply go with our instincts? In our modern society that would be a recipe for disaster! No, we reason out the best moral codes for our time, rather than rely on instinctive or traditional morals. And the most important morals which we can enforce, we codify into laws.

Sorry if I misunderstood you. I'm glad we agree that this would be a disaster. I am interested in hearing more about your objective atheistic morality, but I suppose that's off topic for this thread.

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Are you seriously suggesting that Paul didn't hold himself to a strict moral code? That... is a fascinating interpretation of his many epistles exhorting people to hold to a strict moral code. But hey, you've got one out of context sentence fragment, so you're probably right.

 

Well, there's two ways to interpret what he said. One is that Paul is under grace and not under the law. He can do anything and not go to hell for it. But even without punishment doesn't mean it is a good thing to do, much as just because I'm allowed to doesn't mean I should drink myself silly.

 

Another interpretation is, especially since the phrase is in quotes even inside the Bible, is that Paul is quoting theists in Corinth who have come to the conclusion that they can do anything and not get punished for it. And he is reminding them that just because they can doesn't mean they should. I'm pretty sure this is the correct interpretation.

 

How do you interpret it then? (it's in 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23)

 

Sorry if I misunderstood you. I'm glad we agree that this would be a disaster. I am interested in hearing more about your objective atheistic morality, but I suppose that's off topic for this thread.

 

My morality is objective, but my values are not. Anyone who knows my values can deduce my morality, and convince me to change my mind through reasoning if they think of better ways to maximize my values than I do. This is true of not just me, but for everyone, theist or no. Everyone subjectively chooses their own values, and anyone who knows those values can objectively deduce that person's morality.

 

There is, however, no way to objectively choose values, although some people pretend theirs are.

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Two centuries ago, Kant presented a solidly-founded, well-derived non-theistic morality. His first premise is that morality itself can only make sense if there is free will, since if there is not, we would have no reason to praise or blame people, which is contrary to the basic idea of moral rules. But since the basic premise of science is that all action is caused, freedom seems impossible. However, even though the basic posit of science is that everything is caused, we cannot always see clear evidence that everything is in fact caused. Thus if the wind pushes a rock down a hill, that is a clear case of the rock being caused to move by something external to it. But if a human decides to race into a burning building to save a friend, we could argue that that is also caused by external factors, such as his hormones, his instincts, his education, his culture, etc., we cannot trace the causal network so densely as to exclude the possibility that there is a residuum of free self-determination in the person's decision to go into the burning building.

 

But how can we know ourselves as free? Freedom depends on our elevating ourselves above the realm of causal conditioning, and we can do this by determining our actions not be physical influences around us, but by giving ourselves ideal rules as commands. Since these are intellectual rather than material causes, they no longer belong to the causal realm. However, if we just give ourselves rules for action which support our material, instinctive drives, then these rules hardly make us free. Rather, the basis of those rules we give ourselves also has to lie in our respect for freedom. But what can we imagine to be free in the causally conditioned universe described by science? Obviously, other humans like ourselves, who can also in principle give themselves ideal, moral rules as the non-physical, and thus non-causal, bases for their action. So we make ourselves free by giving ourselves ideal rules to respect in our actions the equal freedom of others, since we are all equally human, and only humanness seems complex enough in its actions that we can imagine it not to be conditioned by external causes, like the rock being blown down the hill by the wind.

 

So in one single act of respecting the equal freedom of other people in the ideal laws we give ourselves to obey, we not only provide ourselves with a basis for conceiving ourselves as conditioned by our own intellect which gives us these rules rather than by physical causes, but we also make ourselves moral, since the rule of respecting the equal freedom of other people is just the Golden Rule of the Bible: Love thy neighbor as thyself, or Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

 

So here we have a well-founded morality based on humans respecting humans, and at no point in the derivation have we been forced to have resort to the God hypothesis.

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Two centuries ago, Kant presented a solidly-founded, well-derived non-theistic morality. His first premise is that morality itself can only make sense if there is free will, since if there is not, we would have no reason to praise or blame people, which is contrary to the basic idea of moral rules. But since the basic premise of science is that all action is caused, freedom seems impossible. However, even though the basic posit of science is that everything is caused, we cannot always see clear evidence that everything is in fact caused. Thus if the wind pushes a rock down a hill, that is a clear case of the rock being caused to move by something external to it.

 

I am agreeing up to this point.

 

But if a human decides to race into a burning building to save a friend, we could argue that that is also caused by external factors, such as his hormones, his instincts, his education, his culture, etc., we cannot trace the causal network so densely as to exclude the possibility that there is a residuum of free self-determination in the person's decision to go into the burning building.

 

We may not be able to see the causal connections, but unless we are going to invoke the supernatural we know that they are there. You may be more complex than the rock, but every atom in you body obeys the same causal laws as the atoms in the rock. You have no free will since you are bound by these laws. Your free will is just an illusion, and the entire Kantian argument falls over.

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His first premise is that morality itself can only make sense if there is free will, since if there is not, we would have no reason to praise or blame people, which is contrary to the basic idea of moral rules.

 

We can have morality just fine without "free will" (a strange concept if I ever saw one). In fact, a lack of free will might call for harsher punishment. If someone did wrong because they chose to, or because they are inherently evil, either way I see no reason not to punish them. In fact, you can't have punishment if there is "free will" as the purpose of the punishment would be to discourage that behavior but you wouldn't be able to affect the actions of someone with "free will", only of someone who has at least partially deterministic nature. Though punishment is a legal concept, legality is basically codified and enforced morality.

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Depends. Is the goal of morality to assign blame and praise, or to make people follow certain mutually beneficial rules?

 

If it's to assign blame and praise, determinism means the actor was merely caused to act by other factors, and should not be assigned blame or praise.

If it's to make people follow rules, determinism means that punishments and rewards will play a role in their decision-making, causing them to follow the rules, to everyone's benefit. Free will means morals aren't imposed, implying that those who follow morals are praiseworthy.

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Science is centered in the mind while religion is centered in the heart of human nature. The things of the mind follow logical and empirical principles. The things of the heart follow different laws since these are irrational phenomena.

 

A good contrast is Mr Spock and Captain Kirk. Mr Spock is pure mind and reason, with his logic and conclusions based on science and data. Captain Kirk is rational, but he also has intuitive and emotional side which does not always compute with Mr Spock. The irrationality of Kirk; faith in his hunches, comes in handy when reason fails. But when reason is needed, he turns to Spock.

 

Psychology tries to deal with the irrationality of human nature. But many scientists don't consider psychology at par with other forms of science. The reason is psychology tries to create rational principles for irrational phenomena, which do not always follow rational laws.

 

A good example is music. There are thousands of songs. One may predict that new music will constantly appear, but we can't use reason to predict the content of the next major song before it happens. The irrational source of this creation, does not lend itself to easy prediction in terms of content. At one level, the anatomy of a making new music is similar and might even be broken down, but after that, the final product of this creative process, can go in places one never thought of. This is one aspect of what is often called the living spirit. At times, the output from certain music can set the irrational theme of an entire generation, "born to be wild". Creation comes from an irrational source to direct irrationality. One can not easily create this induction with reason, since reason is of the mind, and won't hit those deep places in the soul/heart that can make it all possible.

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Kant says that it is the essential heuristic assumption of all scientific reasoning that everything is caused by something else, so there is no self-activation, which is usually regarded as the death of scientific explanation, called 'hylozoism.' However, he notes that while what we see in the world usually compels us to explain the connections we see by cause-effect relationships, when we see a person act against his own apparent interests, such as when he runs into a burning building to save someone, we do not feel so clearly compelled to explain this by saying that some external drive caused him to act this way, rather than some internal decision in opposition to the material drives operating on him.

 

He suggests that this failure on our part readily to see the causal connections everywhere opens the possibility of subjecting the world to another explanatory strategy instead of scientific cause and effect. This other heuristic approach is to explain certain actions by human freedom. Since we live not just in the material world of physical nature where cause and effect are accepted as the best explanatory strategy for what happens, but also in the ideal, cultural world where it is just as true that murder is wrong as that the Earth moves around the Sun, we should have the option to switch from the causal explanatory heuristic to the human freedom mode of explanation where the obviousness of the cause-effect links does not force us to explain things scientifically.

 

Of course we could always extend the scientific explanatory style and say that causal determinism operates even where we cannot see it, but we have good reasons in the cultural fact of our moral experience, which can only be explained by adopting the explanatory approach which conceives of humans as free, not to posit that scientific, causal explanation has to extend that far as the only acceptable explanatory strategy.

 

While you could say that morality is a kind of sham, in that it does not really discuss what we deserve in terms of real justice, but instead just seeks to describe the rules of human behavioral control and conditioning in terms of a misleading moral language, but this would not really be morality at all, but just a form of human animal training posing as a system where praise and blame were deserved. Kant's whole account is an attempt to explain how it might be possible to speak in terms of morality, freedom, and deserved praise and blame, not how a sham morality might operate as a misleading description of behavioral conditioning.

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Sorry if I misunderstood you. I'm glad we agree that this would be a disaster. I am interested in hearing more about your objective atheistic morality, but I suppose that's off topic for this thread.

yes you did. I never argued that God is evil because of unnecesary suffering, I argued that God was cruel becasue of unnecesary suffering.

 

Cruelty is not necesarily evil, but yes, it can be. This is not to say that God is evil, just that by allowing (and even creating) unnecesary suffering He is by definition cruel.

 

You keep arguing that unnecesary suffering does not make God evil. I agree. (will not necesarily evil, but potentially evil).

 

It is cruely that I am talking aobut.

 

No, I'm happy to discuss perceived flaws in my belief system. My point was that in tearing down Christianity because of suffering, you are attacking a religion which allows suffering to have a value, which strikes me as counterproductive.

I am not talking about necesary suffering. This can be a good thing (like if it prevents a greater suffering). What I am talking aobut is unnecesary suffering.

 

So suffering that has a value greater than the cost of the suffering can be seen as a good thing. I never disputed this.

 

I am talking about suffering that can be avoided and that God would have the power to avoid. This is the specific type of suffering I am tlaking about.

 

There are plenty of actual real world examples where this kind of suffering takes place (I amd other here have pointed some of them out). The factr that unnecesary suffering occurs is proof that God, if He exists, is cruel (does not prove He is evil, just cruel).

 

As such suffering exists, then God has to be cruel (or the only other option is that God does not exist).

 

The problem with a cruel God is that they are not Just or Infinitely Good (they can be finitly good though). As these are necesary aspects to the christian God, then if God is cruel, then He can not be the God of christianity (athough He might be the God of another religion).

 

What I am attempting to show is that the beliefs of christianity are not compatable with reality. The christian God is not a cruel God, but the existance of unnecesary suffering means that God that christians believe in has to be cruel (or non existant).

 

As you argued earlier, God might be able to do anyhting that is posible and that included Him being subject to the laws of logic. If God is not subject to the laws of logic, then He has the capability to do anything at all that can be imagined. As I have shown it is possible to imagine was to eliminate all suffering if God has this power, then if God is not subject ot the laws of logic, it turns out He is still cruel.

 

This means that the actual definition of Omnipotence is irrelevent (as you were trying to argue that it was), and in either under your s or my definitions of omnipotence we end up with a cruel God. But a cruel God is not compatable with christian beliefs.

 

So if the God that has to exist can not be the cristian God, then how can you claim that the cristian God is the actual God.

 

In terms of the subject of this thread: If christans really believe in their religion, then they have to believe that the world is not how it really is. That is: they are delusional.

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The Christians have Jesus and Satan , where the morally neutrality of the Old Testament God is differentiated into its two polarized essences. In the Old Testament, most easily seen in the book of Job, Satan is God's left hand man putting bugs into God's ear. But in the new testament, this bug is differentiated to become its own separate and opposing principle. If there is suffering in the world it is connected to the lord of the earth or the Satan. Yo don't have suffering in heaven, but you do in hell. Earth is under both principles and has semi-suffering. Satan as Lucifer (morning star) is the original free will.

 

God made humans free moral agents. If there was only good, there is no need for free will. One can be a robot that simply follows a programmed path; animal. Perfect free will not only means having all the options available, but the ability to chose the options which lead to perfection.

 

For example, you have two children. One is a robot child who just goes along with whatever you say. The other child questions all that you say, but sees the wisdom in what you say and choses that path. Which is more perfect? The robot child is all that you need if the path is wise, but what happens to the robot child if the path gets confused with good and evil. He still follows that path like a robot, leading to imperfection. The child with free will, stills questions and knowing the difference between good and evil may take another path that is more perfect. Tp perfect both free will and perfection you need to put all the options on the table (maximize free choice with all that is perfect and imperfect) while also pointing out the path that leads to perfection. But to be total free will, it also require using the heart/mind to come to the same perfection conclusion.

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Why couldn't humans be every bit as free as they are today even though the only choices available to them in a world made by a truly loving God were good choices? You would be free to choose to listen to Beethoven or Mozart, to write a play or a sonnet, to paint a portrait or a landscape, but the physical world would be cleverly constructed so that you could not hurt anyone or do anything evil. Now you might say that this kind of limited world would not provide you with sufficient ambit to be really free, but the physical world's design already severely limits how evil we can be. If I wake up in a very bad temper I might seize a machine gun and start mowing down post office workers, but I cannot access an atomic bomb, and I can't extend the effects of my bad mood to people in China, or to people long since dead or not yet born. So since God has already designed a world in which our freedom to choose evil is limited by physical circumstances, why wouldn't he go all the way and limit it completely, which would still leave us free but also allow us never to merit his punishment?

 

Or even if you were to argue that we would not be significantly free unless we could choose evil, then why would a loving God design a universe in which so many bad consequences would flow from our choice of evil? If the universe as now designed absolutely requires earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes as the consequence of Adam and Eve having been disobedient on a given afternoon, it seems insufficiently perfect to be the product of an infinitely intelligent and infinitely good God, since those extremely distant consequences of original sin don't seem inevitably connected with it at all, so it must have been possible to make a world without that link.

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My argument was that there is suffering that is not necesary. If it serves a good and worthwhile purpose, then it is not the type of suffering I was arguing against. :doh:

 

 

No, your parents didn't want you to suffer, it was due to their lack of omnipitance that they could not prevent you from suffering. :doh:

 

 

No.

 

If they had the power to make your teeth perfect and not rot, then they would have kept you out of the dentist because it would be unnecesary. If they had the power to prevent you from getting sick, then you would never have had to go to the doctors.

 

It is because your parents are finite, limited beings that they have to use what power they have (the power of the doctors and dentists) to prevent greater suffering from occuring to you.

 

As God created sickness, and could prevent our teeth from decaying (by not creating the bacteria that cause tooth decay - or creating a material that does not decay and having our teeth made from that), then He could have prevented this kind of suffering if He wnated to.

Hang on a minute - the vast majority of those vaccinations have been totally unnecessary, and some doubtless ineffective (there's always a percentage that are).There are parents who argue that very point and refuse to have their children vaccinated, with no harm at all resulting to the children.

 

So it's entirely possible that the suffering my parents made me undergo WAS totally unnecessary, and that they just couldn't be bothered accurately assessing the risks and pain vs the benefits of vaccinations. Does that make them inhumanly cruel monsters? Must do by your logic.

 

At one stage as an adult I didn't darken the doorstep of a dentist for several years. When I did go back I was told that my teeth were in excellent condition, as I have been at every dentist's visit thereafter. Again, we can conclude that that the childhood dentist's visits quite likely weren't necessary either.

 

Assuming some parents at least know their kid's teeth are perfectly fine, and knowing as I know (and many adults do) that one can skip the odd dentist's visit with absolutely no harm resulting, are those parents in such a situation who make their kids go edvery 6 months inhuman monsters? Certainly they're causing unnecessary suffering to the child, are they not?

 

CAUSINGAlso, about Adam and Even, God knew that the serpent was lieing to them and He could have stepped in at any point and told Adam and Eve that the serpent was doing this. Adam and Even would still have been free to eat the fruit of the tree and commit sin, but God CHOSE to allow them to act with imperfect information (which is a way of removing free will) and so they sinned (the inevitable result of being lied to). Not only that, the serpent was only made to "crawl on his belly", where as Adam and Eve were cast out of eden and made to suffer, but even more so, the decendents of Adam and Eve, who never had the choice to comit that sin were then also made to suffer the same punishment as Adam and Eve.

 

Punishing those that are not guilty of a crime is wrong and unethical. Haivng that punishment as unnecesary suffering is also crule. So God now is immoral and cruel. Your arguments are just getting you in deeper and deeper here. They are not actually addressing the issue (that unnecesary suffering is cruel and one who causes that unncessary suffering is also cruel) and not only that, they are just providing more evidence that God really is cruel (ie: You are saying that God is the one that makes the decision to cause uncesesary suffering and that He could have chosen otherwise).

You seem to be saying here that perfect or at least a very high level of knowledge and control of one's circumstances and actions are required for one to be guilty. And that to convict or punish people when any less rigorous levels are attained is cruel.

 

Not so. We lock up many a criminal who had less-than-perfect knowledge and less-than-perfect self-control. And rightly. We do it because the level of knowledge and self-control required for culpability - be it for crime or sin - doesn't have to be absolute, nor anywhere near absolute. Nor especially high, for that matter.

 

One simply has to have ENOUGH knowledge to distinguish the right from the wrong or the legal from the illegal course of action in a given situation (even if one doesn't understand ALL the whys and wherefores of the one being right and the other wrong) and ENOUGH self-control that the act is voluntary on your part.

 

Even incredibly young children have sufficient capacity and self-control, at least in some circumstances, to be culpable. And so their parents punish them when they do wrong. Adam and Eve had at least as much knowledge and self-control as a child, surely.

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Since parents don't pretend to be infinitely good, but just more or less good, just as they at most claim finite knowledge, if they only do a very good job of managing their children's dental health because of less than perfect goodness and knowledge, that does nothing to impeach their human goodness and wisdom.

 

But since God has to be infinitely good and infinitely wise or he doesn't exist as God, the world he provides for us cannot have even an infinitely small amount of excess evil in it beyond what is absolutely necessary for whatever moral purposes he may have or physical limitations he may have -- if we can admit that he can have any.

 

G. W. Leibniz excused the evil in the world by saying that this was the best of all possible worlds God could create, implying that there is some metaphysical sense of com-possibility according to which it would be impossible, say, to have a world with enough water in it for humans to live without also constructing the world so that John F. Kennedy had to be assassinated. But since this type of constraint on the possible construction of the world is something we can at most assume but cannot possibly conceive or understand -- for why would Lee Harvey Oswald having bad aim on that day be inconsistent with the world having an adequate water supply? -- it really doesn't suffice as an explanation -- at least to our finite minds -- of why God has to allow evil if he wants to make any universe at all.

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Hang on a minute - the vast majority of those vaccinations have been totally unnecessary, and some doubtless ineffective (there's always a percentage that are).There are parents who argue that very point and refuse to have their children vaccinated, with no harm at all resulting to the children.

 

So it's entirely possible that the suffering my parents made me undergo WAS totally unnecessary, and that they just couldn't be bothered accurately assessing the risks and pain vs the benefits of vaccinations. Does that make them inhumanly cruel monsters? Must do by your logic.

Two words: Herd Immunity.

 

With vaccinations, the suffering of the child is typically quite small. Also, there has to be enough of the population with immunity (vaccination) for the desease to be prevented. If there is less than this requiered number, then the desease can continue to exist in the population and with evolution can develop resistance to the immunisation and break out rendering the immmunisations worthless.

 

This is along what I was saying of necesary suffering to prevent greater suffering.

 

Now, God, created these deseases, to He would ultimately be responsible for the suffering of these who either get the desease or have to suffer vaccinations. In this case, God has causes suffeing on both fronts, but if God had just not created deseases in the fiorst place, then neither of these sufferings would ahve occured. Again, this points to unnecesary cruelty as God would have taken an action that lead to suffering of desease or from vaccination.

 

And again, your arguments are not addressing the issue and are actually supporting my position of: God is cruel.

 

At one stage as an adult I didn't darken the doorstep of a dentist for several years. When I did go back I was told that my teeth were in excellent condition, as I have been at every dentist's visit thereafter. Again, we can conclude that that the childhood dentist's visits quite likely weren't necessary either.

 

Assuming some parents at least know their kid's teeth are perfectly fine, and knowing as I know (and many adults do) that one can skip the odd dentist's visit with absolutely no harm resulting, are those parents in such a situation who make their kids go edvery 6 months inhuman monsters? Certainly they're causing unnecessary suffering to the child, are they not?

As we are not all knowing and all powerful, we can not know what the future will hold. Because we are finite and limited, we have to live with the fact that we can not know the future. Thus we need to work to prevernt suffering that might occur. Thus, we go to the dentist and such to prevent greater suffering that might occur. In this case it is a necesary suffering as we are limited.

 

Now, as I have argued, God could have created us with teeth that are so tough that we never needed preventitive care for our teeth and not created the bacteria that cause tooth decay. But as these were the actions God chose, and He could have chose differently, then God chose to cause suffering. This is the actions of a cruel God, one that activly chosses to cause suffering when there is a valid option that does not cause suffering exists.

 

You seem to be saying here that perfect or at least a very high level of knowledge and control of one's circumstances and actions are required for one to be guilty. And that to convict or punish people when any less rigorous levels are attained is cruel.

God made Adam and eve free of sin and evil. It was only when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil did they aquire the ability to sin and comit evil acts. But, who put the tree there (God could have put it somewhere that Adam and Eve could not have got to - or just not created it in the first place). God also created the serpent (the serpent is never reveald as the devil), and He could have crated it as a more moral creature who would not have lied to Adam and Eve.

 

As God is all knowing, He would have know that these events would have occurred. As He knew that these events would ahve occured and lead to suffering, and that there are valid action that God could have taken to prevent them and chose not to do so, then He can be seen as cruel in that He knew ahead of time and had the power and opertunity to prevent the suffering and did not.

 

As an asside, Adam and Even prove that having the ability to sin is not necesary for free will as God created them without sin and it was only by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil were they able to get the ability to Sin and the capacity to suffer (as punishment form God). But, Adam and Eve were given free will right from the start, so they had free will and did not have to have the ability to sin to have it.

 

This proves my earlier argument that God could eliminate sin and suffering from the world and still allow us to have free will. This means that all suffering is by Gods choice, and that He could have chosen differently. This is proof of God's cruelty (as it is written in the bible none the less - so if you believe in the bible then you have to believe in God's cruelty too).

 

Not so. We lock up many a criminal who had less-than-perfect knowledge and less-than-perfect self-control. And rightly. We do it because the level of knowledge and self-control required for culpability - be it for crime or sin - doesn't have to be absolute, nor anywhere near absolute. Nor especially high, for that matter.

Yes, we are no all knowing, so we have to work within a finite limit of knowledge. This means we will make mistakes and errors, but God has perfect knowledge (that is what all knowing means) of everything, so He does not have to work within these limits and thus He can not make mistakes like we are forced to.

 

One simply has to have ENOUGH knowledge to distinguish the right from the wrong or the legal from the illegal course of action in a given situation (even if one doesn't understand ALL the whys and wherefores of the one being right and the other wrong) and ENOUGH self-control that the act is voluntary on your part.

 

Even incredibly young children have sufficient capacity and self-control, at least in some circumstances, to be culpable. And so their parents punish them when they do wrong. Adam and Eve had at least as much knowledge and self-control as a child, surely.

Yes, and God has far more knowledge (infinitly more) and far mroe self control (infinitly more). So this means that God is infinitly more culpable for His actions than we are.

 

So by your arguemnts, God has voluntarily given us suffering that is unnecesary. This is what makes God cruel.

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