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what if your soul wasn't powerful enough?


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I think that shame can result in such an experience, and shame imo is a defining condition of sin as a subjective/reflective experience. I.e. if someone doesn't view their deed as a sin, they don't feel shame and thus no spiritual dying occurs but when they doubt their faith that their deed was righteous, they may grow ashamed and their spirit dies a little as they lower their head, become closed/secretive, avoid others, etc. This self-isolation (or sometimes people get socially isolated for their sins as well) results in a form of social death, which can result in spiritual death as well UNLESS people are "square with God" in the sense that they've prayed and felt forgiveness, etc. Christianity, doesn't give this forgiveness for free, though. You're supposed to dedicate your life to following Christ (i.e. becoming part of the body of Christ, etc.) I think that sort of jumps ahead so something else you said.

 

What then of me? As an atheist who has restructured a moral system of his own separate from the one in the Bible, doing several of the things forbidden in the Bible as sin no longer brings me any shame, nor do I even feel they are wrong. And I am not the only one. Your statement is essentially a claim that God accepts moral relativism (at least inasmuch as moral relativism is humanly possible); that people are their own judge of sin or innocence via guilt. Yet I consider my moral system incompatible with that of God, and furthermore have judged God to be immoral.

 

As for forgiveness of sins, the branch of Christianity that I used to belong to claimed that salvation/eternal life was forever and cannot be lost, and that any who have accepted Christ as their savior have this. According to their teachings I must therefore still have salvation/eternal life/forgiveness, since at one time I did truly believe, and since they say that status cannot be lost.

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A fiddle of gold against your soul says I'm better than you.

Fiiiire on the hill run boys run...(fiddle, fiddle, fiddle)...Devils in the house with the risin' sun...(fiddle, fiddle, fiddle)...

Religions which hold that God only requires people to discipline themselves to be good necessarily rely on oversimplified, unrealistically clarified situations in which good and evil choices are clear

What then of me? As an atheist who has restructured a moral system of his own separate from the one in the Bible, doing several of the things forbidden in the Bible as sin no longer brings me any shame, nor do I even feel they are wrong. And I am not the only one. Your statement is essentially a claim that God accepts moral relativism (at least inasmuch as moral relativism is humanly possible); that people are their own judge of sin or innocence via guilt. Yet I consider my moral system incompatible with that of God, and furthermore have judged God to be immoral.

As I have said in this thread, I think theological "theory" can be conceptualized in terms of philosophical logics/concepts. So, for example, I think you can apply the logic of sin to moral relativism, e.g. by treating what an individual experiences as sin through shame as "thus sin." If you view God and morality as subjective concepts, you can interpret "God" as that "voice" inside people that tells them things are right or wrong, i.e. as conscience (among other things perhaps). So when you say your personal moral system is incompatible with "that of God," I would be tempted to say from a relativistic point of view that you have simply interpreted God for yourself, which is (again from a relativist point of view) not that different from what Moses or anyone else does when interpreting the word of God. Maybe you are just afraid to state explicitly that you interpreted the word of God for yourself directly in the same sense as Moses and other prophets because you don't want to have the responsibility of being viewed as a prophet. Either way, the point is that you can think of sin and God and subjectively relative and thus interpret the logics of scriptural sin and its consequences as transposable. Certainly this is what every innovative theologist from Martin Luther to David Koresh has done. It's just risky to do so openly, because people still get persecuted for religious radicalism. So maybe you're better off calling your beliefs "incompatible with that of God."

 

Back to the psychology of sin: I don't think sin results in spiritual death (and/or rebirth) unless people have true faith in its sinfulness. So if you truly experience something others call sinful as non-sinful, then why/how would you ever experience spiritual death/rebirth?

 

As for forgiveness of sins, the branch of Christianity that I used to belong to claimed that salvation/eternal life was forever and cannot be lost, and that any who have accepted Christ as their savior have this. According to their teachings I must therefore still have salvation/eternal life/forgiveness, since at one time I did truly believe, and since they say that status cannot be lost.

I think that's a natural consequence of having had faith in the ideology. Once you learn the concept of endless forgiveness, you can basically transgress whatever boundaries to righteousness you set for yourself and always repent and accept forgiveness in order to move on to the redemption phase. Human spirits are a work in progress, I would say. The problem comes when you stop believing in the legitimacy of the process; because once you lose faith in your own forgive-ability, you have basically "blasphemed the Holy Spirit" in the sense of no longer having faith in the active process of forgiveness/redemption, so you would cease to be released from shameful feelings because you basically lost faith in forgiveness/salvation. This stuff has almost direct philosophical-psychological effects, imo, so I'm just interpreting the logic of the concepts as I see it. So it is also logical that if you would "lose true belief" that you would no longer be saved because you would no longer have faith in your own salvation. I.e. you would be susceptible to shame and thus spiritual death, which according to Christianity would bring you to rebirth anyway, but that would be more painful than simply maintaining faith in your own salvation. In other words, I'm thinking this re-birth can be interpreted as occurring as often as you lose faith in (your own) salvation.

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The lesser souls have been deemed not worth gods time rather quick but as gods adversary he must ensure god does not get the souls. This would mean that the more spiritual one gets the more they are tested by the devil and god being the supreme allows this to occure because it means he does not waste his time with the lesser souls.

 

According to many verses in the NT, every soul is precious to God, and He loves every single one of them. Spirituality has nothing to do with it. It does not make you stronger. You are still a sinner, like every other human, according to Christianity. I don't see what weakness has to do with anything. Everyone is vulnerable to the same sin. The Pope is not a better, or worse, person than I am.

 

Isaiah 64:6 - All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

 

What then of me? As an atheist who has restructured a moral system of his own separate from the one in the Bible, doing several of the things forbidden in the Bible as sin no longer brings me any shame, nor do I even feel they are wrong.

 

You are viewed as dead spiritually, as I'm sure you well know.

 

As for forgiveness of sins, the branch of Christianity that I used to belong to claimed that salvation/eternal life was forever and cannot be lost, and that any who have accepted Christ as their savior have this. According to their teachings I must therefore still have salvation/eternal life/forgiveness, since at one time I did truly believe, and since they say that status cannot be lost.

 

Indeed. An apparent contradiction between being lost, and your salvation always remaining. I more think that the verses in the Bible that support this basically say that if you loved like this at one time in your life, your soul is pure. It doesn't matter if you got lost along the way.

 

That's how I see it anyways. It's more in line with the NT.

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According to many verses in the NT, every soul is precious to God, and He loves every single one of them. Spirituality has nothing to do with it. It does not make you stronger. You are still a sinner, like every other human, according to Christianity. I don't see what weakness has to do with anything. Everyone is vulnerable to the same sin. The Pope is not a better, or worse, person than I am.

 

Isaiah 64:6 - All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

 

You are viewed as dead spiritually, as I'm sure you well know.

What kind of harshness is this? Why can't everyone be a sinner and still have their righteous acts count toward their redemption from evil? Why can't people become stronger souls through the trials of temptation and resistance (or temptation and succumbing)? What does any of this have to do with the social status of the pope or how someone's "spiritual death" is viewed by others? Ultimately it comes down to each individual's direct relationship with God, or not? What do worldly judgements ultimately have to do with God's judgement?

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What kind of harshness is this? Why can't everyone be a sinner and still have their righteous acts count toward their redemption from evil? Why can't people become stronger souls through the trials of temptation and resistance (or temptation and succumbing)? What does any of this have to do with the social status of the pope or how someone's "spiritual death" is viewed by others? Ultimately it comes down to each individual's direct relationship with God, or not? What do worldly judgements ultimately have to do with God's judgement?

 

Just for the record, I do not subscribe to the belief I am about to answer with.

 

Your acts of good are petty compared to an omnibenevolent God. You have still sinned. The only way into heaven is to accept that Jesus died for you, and that through Him, and Him only, can you ever be redeemed from the lake of fire, which is your rightful punishment for being a fallen human being.

 

The soul thing is more because the Bible never says anything remotely close to soul power. Only the power of The Holy Spirit to help you overcome sin and temptation.

 

Wordly judgments have nothing to do with it. The Bible, however, says that Mr Skeptic is spiritually dead. That's what I was referring to. It is considered the Word of God.

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Just for the record, I do not subscribe to the belief I am about to answer with.

Meaning you are insincere? Or you have some other reason for expressing ideas you disagree with? Why aren't you explicitly critical then?

 

Your acts of good are petty compared to an omnibenevolent God.

Who said anything about comparing the value of you acts with anyone else's, let alone God? Isn't that egoism, the original sin of Satan?

 

You have still sinned. The only way into heaven is to accept that Jesus died for you, and that through He, and He only, can you ever be redeemed from the lake of fire, which is your rightful punishment for being a fallen human being.

What do you interpret the relevance of any of this to be? Imo, all sinners sin and we're all sinners. The issue is that sin has to be redeemed instead of met with shame. The logic of Jesus dying for sins has a double meaning, imo. 1) Jesus was persecuted and killed by human sinners sinning against him and 2) he accepted his personal sacrifice without resentment as a means to end the viscous cycle of revenge. I don't see "the lake of fire" as a punishment to be averted through acceptance of Jesus. I see acceptance of Jesus' message as itself therapeutic within a life of sin. I.e. Your life of sin is headed for misery and through comprehension of the story of Jesus, you can redeem yourself from that misery, which would nevertheless not be irreversible.

 

The soul thing is more because the Bible never says anything remotely close to soul power. Only the power of The Holy Spirit to help you overcome sin and temptation.

Good point, but that's why I brought it up as an implicit issue. I.e. can a weak soul be tempted? By one definition, a weak soul would be weak precisely because it is especially susceptible to temptation. But what I mean by a "weak soul" is one that is simply relatively ambiguous to temptation or anything else. It would be like someone on a powerful anti-manic-depression cocktail who is excessively level and doesn't struggle much if any in any direction. What would the role of such people be in "the war of Armageddon?"

 

Wordly judgments have nothing to do with it. The Bible, however, says that Mr Skeptic is spiritually dead. That's what I was referring to. It is considered the Word of God.

Do you assume that your interpretation of the bible is anything less that "worldly judgment?" I tend to think of any application of scripture by living humans as "worldly" but maybe I'm overextending the term.

 

 

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The way I read the OT about the devil was that he was more like the prosecutor in a court case. In this sense being an adversary is not about hatred, but about having different goals (prosecution vs defence). In this light, a lot of the actions of the devil (as far as the OT goes) is about sorting out who deserves punishment vs who deserves reward.

 

This way of viewing the relationship between God and Satan has occurrences in many different religions too, such as Hades in the Greek mythology and many others.

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The one thing that quantum mechanics, relativity theory, black holes, plasma physics, and Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem should have taught us is that the more deeply we investigate the ultimate nature of reality, the more alien it becomes to the ordinary common sense concepts which humans use to negotiate their path successfully through everyday life. Thus I always find it very strange and suspicious that in religion, the ultimate framework concepts turn out to be so pedantically anthropomorphic.

 

God and the Devil like two opposing regents compete with each other for loyal recruits on the bizarrely anthropomorphic assumption that the number of supporters of any given 'ruler' should matter for him as they would for some earthly kingdom concerned with mustering troops in a war. God is obsessed with people believing in him even if he does not supply them with sufficient evidence or reasons for their absolute commitment, which is just what an earthly government has to do with its subject population, since no monarch is ever all that different from the people who are his slaves or servants, so his authority and legitimacy must depend on some imperfectly rationally based act of submission or faith on the part of his followers. But why would a God who was more than an earthly king and instead the ultimate framework concept of the moral universe -- the affirmation of the fact that ultimate moral value has absolute ontological foundation -- be obsessed with how many recruits he could win over or whether he could get them to believe in his authority even though he cannot provide sufficient evidence of that authority?

 

When you step outside of the religious texts and look at it in that perspective, it all just seems silly, since it betrays its origin in the extremely limited imagination of the Bronze Age nomads who made it up, and who did not have the conceptual apparatus to understand why framework concepts for the whole system of moral meaning should not be conceived on the model of the objects and concepts of limited dimension within those frameworks. In its own way it is just like late 19th century physicists trying to account for the motion of light and the action of gravitation through a vacuum by positing an ordinary concept/object from the everyday system of concepts and objects -- the subtle aether -- to 'carry' and 'support' it (like the Indian model of the world supported by an elephant standing on a turtle which in turn stands on ... etc.), rather than advancing to Einstein's more sophisticated realization that framework concepts like the shape of the universe cannot be successfully addressed as though they were just ordinary material lattices with fluid floating around them, but rather, that they have to rethought on a more radical and innovative level.

 

As the physicist, mathematician, and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once wrote, "When the Ancient Jews tried to understand their concept of God, they based it on the only model in their experience that came close to it, which was an Oriental despot." The God of the Book of Job who loses his temper at the Devil for having tempted him to torment Job is not suitable as a sophisticated framework concept for the system of human moral commitment, but is just a contemptable, cantankerous old fool.

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As the physicist, mathematician, and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once wrote, "When the Ancient Jews tried to understand their concept of God, they based it on the only model in their experience that came close to it, which was an Oriental despot." The God of the Book of Job who loses his temper at the Devil for having tempted him to torment Job is not suitable as a sophisticated framework concept for the system of human moral commitment, but is just a contemptable, cantankerous old fool.

It's funny to me when people think it's sophisticated to point out the banalities of religious mythology. To me it is just as banal that people seek out simplistic strawman arguments to undermine the basis ideas of religion instead of addressing the real point of the stories. The story of Job employs the characters of God and Satan the way it does as metaphors for the trials of life. The fact that the forces of good and evil were personified in an anthropomorphic way doesn't really make any difference. The important ideas are that bad luck tempts people into cursing the fundamental nature of existence as being evil. Then, the point is that when/if people curse their existence as evil, they give up the hope that their luck will turn around. It's basically a story designed to encourage people to persevere through suffering with the hope that they are just being tried and when they pass the test, life will get better. That is a comforting thought that could keep your spirits up, don't you think?

 

You can undermine most all theology by focussing on the metaphors, personifications, and other stylistic choices for representing philosophy as mythology. I feel the same way when I read symbolic language that I don't understand yet. Still, I know it would be naive to reject the possibility that there are actual ideas being expressed in the mythological language. Thus, if I were you I would at least make it a point to understand the meanings being conveyed and reject the theology on that basis instead of trying to attack it on the basis of its symbolic framework.

 

 

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No, it means he is sincere and able to think logically.

Then why did he say he didn't subscribe to the belief he was answering with? Or, rather, why did he answer with a belief he didn't subscribe to?

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Lemur: The problem with the Biblical texts is that they switch rather freely and without clear internal cues between statements that are intended to be literally construed (marriage shall be between one man and one woman for life) and things which are now said to be metaphors (God created heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh). Since the entire text has a magical flavor, with whale-like creatures swallowing people who survive, the Witch of Ensor being condemned to death, God talking to the Devil, bushes bursting into flames, and a dead man walking out of a tomb, there is no secure key to tell which is metaphorical and which is literal.

 

But in the specific case I was discussing, that is, God and the Devil caring to compete for possession of souls like opposing monarchs concerned to increase their followings, and God insisting like a human monarch on his followers having faith in his title to office and status even beyond his ability to justify that faith rationally, the Bible is ESSENTIALLY insisting on aspects of doctrine which would only really make sense if the metphors were literal, that is, if God and the Devil were really like persons or monarchs seeking supporters and jealously fretting about their legitimacy as rulers among their people.

 

If you think about God more abstractly, say, as the assertion that morality is ontologically irrevocably grounded in the universe and not just a system of contingently asserted values perhaps made up by humans, then why would this framework condition for the moral order also have to be fretting about having people worship and praise him day and night -- as though he were a vain Oriental Potentate, afraid that he would lose his authority over his people? Why would he be so preoccupied, as human leaders are, with whether people believe in him beyond the rational evidence he can provide for that belief? Why would he care about how many believers he has, or why would he bother punishing people for not believing? All of this seems arbitrary for a God assumed to be anything other than the type of earthly king the metaphor presents him as being.

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Lemur: The problem with the Biblical texts is that they switch rather freely and without clear internal cues between statements that are intended to be literally construed (marriage shall be between one man and one woman for life) and things which are now said to be metaphors (God created heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh). Since the entire text has a magical flavor, with whale-like creatures swallowing people who survive, the Witch of Ensor being condemned to death, God talking to the Devil, bushes bursting into flames, and a dead man walking out of a tomb, there is no secure key to tell which is metaphorical and which is literal.

It doesn't really matter which is meant literally and which symbolically. When you interpret the meanings in the text, the non-literal language becomes meaningful in its interpretation.

 

But in the specific case I was discussing, that is, God and the Devil caring to compete for possession of souls like opposing monarchs concerned to increase their followings, and God insisting like a human monarch on his followers having faith in his title to office and status even beyond his ability to justify that faith rationally, the Bible is ESSENTIALLY insisting on aspects of doctrine which would only really make sense if the metphors were literal, that is, if God and the Devil were really like persons or monarchs seeking supporters and jealously fretting about their legitimacy as rulers among their people.

Islam means "submission" and this word provides insight into people's relationship with moral-culture. They submit to either their will to do good or their will to destroy/oppose/etc. In Freudianism, they're called libido (life drive) and whatever the word for death drive is, I forget. People submit to their inner-drives/wills the same way they submit to human authorities/institutions. What's interesting about personifying these drives/wills is that they can be externalized as have power beyond any human authority/institution, including churches, kings, governments, etc. So instead of empowering people by telling them to listen to their inner truth, religion tells them to pray to God and listen to the ultimate truth that does not submit to any arbitrary "worldly" authority. This is the same idea of transcendent, universal, truths that are claimed by science.

 

If you think about God more abstractly, say, as the assertion that morality is ontologically irrevocably grounded in the universe and not just a system of contingently asserted values perhaps made up by humans, then why would this framework condition for the moral order also have to be fretting about having people worship and praise him day and night -- as though he were a vain Oriental Potentate, afraid that he would lose his authority over his people? Why would he be so preoccupied, as human leaders are, with whether people believe in him beyond the rational evidence he can provide for that belief? Why would he care about how many believers he has, or why would he bother punishing people for not believing? All of this seems arbitrary for a God assumed to be anything other than the type of earthly king the metaphor presents him as being.

God is associated against egoism, not with it. You are confusing God with Satan. Satan is the figure that wants to command people's worship. God just wants to enlighten people so they can live well by making fruitful choices in the creation. Look at the story of Cain and Abel. Cain gets jealous of Abel's sacrifice because it pleases God so he kills him and lies about it to God. It is Cain's obsession with pleasing God that costs him his brother and God's favor. God just wanted him to live well in the first place, and arguably he was doing so by raising vegetables in the first place since this was part of God's curse on Adam after banishment from the garden of Eden. So Cain was just doing what he was supposed to and became jealous of his brother for making animal sacrifices. See, people aren't supposed to worship God as much as they are just supposed to learn life-lessons and attempt to redeem themselves from past sin. This is why the issue of forgiveness comes up in Christianity, because it is supposed to divert people away from making sacrifices as penance for sin to living well to begin with.

 

 

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But there is a point where the symbolic model breaks down and ceases to be an adequate substitution for the more sophisticated, modern version of the concept. Thus with your example of the person either submitting to the dictates of the inner voice of his conscience or to the commands of God, the former is significantly different from the latter, since everyone knows that the informal mixture of reasoning and intuition that go into making up each person's 'inner voice' may be mistaken, while commands from God essentially claim objective validity which no inner voice can do.

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But there is a point where the symbolic model breaks down and ceases to be an adequate substitution for the more sophisticated, modern version of the concept.

This is a broad assumption. Is it falsifiable? If so, have you tried or are you too biased in favor of modernism?

 

 

Thus with your example of the person either submitting to the dictates of the inner voice of his conscience or to the commands of God, the former is significantly different from the latter, since everyone knows that the informal mixture of reasoning and intuition that go into making up each person's 'inner voice' may be mistaken, while commands from God essentially claim objective validity which no inner voice can do.

Take your modern standpoint that no God exists external to human subjective version of "God." (is it accurate to say that you don't believe God exists outside of human subjectivity?) Then consider a situation in which two or more people disagree about what the will of God is, the correct interpretation of scripture, etc. Now, is it not possible to argue that one opinion or interpretation is better than another on the basis of citation and reasoning? If two or more interpretations would emerge that were equally validatable, wouldn't this be recognizable through careful application of critical logic?

 

A good way to look at this is in terms of the expression, "higher power." "Higher power/authority" can refer to one worldly power/authority being higher than another, right? E.g. you could say that the supreme court is a higher authority than the "lower" courts it reviews, right? So, by that logic, what would be the supreme power/authority in human matters? Would it be the king of some jurisdiction over that jurisdiction and not others? Or would kings submit to each other when one's authority/power was deemed to supercede another's? Logically, if any human authority is always less than supreme, then there must be a concept of authority that is higher than even the highest human authority, correct? So why shouldn't this ideal of super-human authority be called "God?" And why shouldn't humans be able to make appeals to each other on the basis of such an authority that trumps any human authority that either could cite? This would be similar to asking whether scientists always have to cite other scientists or can they make appeals directly to empiricism and reason?

 

 

What it seems you are dong is to seek to undermine the very possibility of identifying logic within theology. Then, once you have established it as being inherently flawed and internally inconsistent, you can reject it completely and throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?

 

 

 

 

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Your reasoning is like the 'greatest number' paradox in mathematics. Just because we can always find the greater number in every set of two different integers does not mean that this ability to detect differences in magnitude within finite sets of integers means that there must be some single greatest number sitting at the top of the whole number line which justifies the greater than/less than distinction. The same is often said of causality: just because causality is a locally well-defined concept which helps us get around in our everyday lives doesn't mean that the whole universe must have had a cause or that causality is a useful notion on this grand a scale. These are all like versions of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem, as I mentioned earlier: the fact of statements being provable within a formalized system capable of codifying ordinary mathematics is not logically parasitic on the consistency of the entire system itself being provable. Statements well-defined as moves within a system should not be metaphysically inflated and posed as statements about the entire system, where they often turn out to be undefined.

 

Similarly, the fact that there are demonstrably more rational, coherent, or believable constructions/interpretations of some document does not mean that this implies the existence of some supreme principle of rationality in the universe. A purely fictional document, like 'Lord of the Rings,' may have more or less sophisticated, rational, coherent, or interesting interpretations without our ability to distinguish one from the other proving the validity of the Lord of the Rings story.

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Your reasoning is like the 'greatest number' paradox in mathematics. Just because we can always find the greater number in every set of two different integers does not mean that this ability to detect differences in magnitude within finite sets of integers means that there must be some single greatest number sitting at the top of the whole number line which justifies the greater than/less than distinction. The same is often said of causality: just because causality is a locally well-defined concept which helps us get around in our everyday lives doesn't mean that the whole universe must have had a cause or that causality is a useful notion on this grand a scale.

Good examples. The point is that there is the potential/possibility of always seeking a higher number, more antecedent cause, and/or higher power/authority. This idea(l) is what allows people to make appeals (within themselves and toward others) to higher authority. Thus, even the highest judge or king can be questioned by the lowest peasant because of this idea that they are all subject to authority that exceeds the human capability to define it absolutely. Thus the only absolute truth and/or authority is that truth/authority is contestable; and one way of expressing the ideal of truth/authority that exceeds human definition is to refer to "God." Ironically, if God existed as a defined and therefore limited being, it would become possible to seek a higher authority than God.

 

These are all like versions of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem, as I mentioned earlier: the fact of statements being provable within a formalized system capable of codifying ordinary mathematics is not logically parasitic on the consistency of the entire system itself being provable. Statements well-defined as moves within a system should not be metaphysically inflated and posed as statements about the entire system, where they often turn out to be undefined.

I can't make sense of this. You're saying that mathematics is not axiomatic and that proving things mathematically doesn't rely on consistency or legitimacy of the system itself? I think I could potentially agree with what you're saying here, but I'd have to deduce some less abstract examples and test them on that level.

 

Similarly, the fact that there are demonstrably more rational, coherent, or believable constructions/interpretations of some document does not mean that this implies the existence of some supreme principle of rationality in the universe. A purely fictional document, like 'Lord of the Rings,' may have more or less sophisticated, rational, coherent, or interesting interpretations without our ability to distinguish one from the other proving the validity of the Lord of the Rings story.

You're right and wrong. The content of the scriptures themselves may or may not imply supreme rationality, but it doesn't work to interpret God as a culturally relative arbitrary authoritarian dictator. That is worldly authority. The whole reason divine authority transcends worldly authority is because it is undefined. It is faith in higher authority/power. It is faith that the ability to distinguish things as being good or bad is immutable. It is your power as critic to successfully obfuscate and/or de-legitimate theology as long as you want and it is the fact that the choice to recoup the ability to seek constructive meanings in the scriptures by reading them in good faith can never be permanently lost or destroyed. But, you're right, there is no supreme principle of rationality in the universe which is what makes it possible to endlessly progress toward greater rationality.

 

That's just the nature of idealism. Ideals always transcend realities, so practice always lags behind theory so to speak. You can endlessly pursue ideals in practice without ever achieving them completely. There was no danger in building the tower of babel; just the effect that language/knowledge was multiplied beyond control.

 

 

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I might be off track here but I couldn't help wondering: isn't the entire point of introducing the devil and when reading the biblical stories in general that the soul is assumed NOT to be powerful at all?

 

I mean, the whole point of the long list of explicit moral laws in the bible is that without proper guidance (and strongly paying attention) anyone can fall to "sin". Doesn't that mean automatically that the soul is assumed to be weak and requires constant care to remain on the right side?

 

I hope I'm making sense.

 

~mooey

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Mooey, I would default to that stance seeing as how the Bible makes no statements about souls having differing power levels.

 

Well, yeah, wouldn't that just mean that they all have the same power level -- weak ?

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God is defined religiously. The Judeo-Christian deity has no greater, no superior. He is infinite.

Infinite is a synonym for " ultimately undefinable."

 

I might be off track here but I couldn't help wondering: isn't the entire point of introducing the devil and when reading the biblical stories in general that the soul is assumed NOT to be powerful at all?

 

I mean, the whole point of the long list of explicit moral laws in the bible is that without proper guidance (and strongly paying attention) anyone can fall to "sin". Doesn't that mean automatically that the soul is assumed to be weak and requires constant care to remain on the right side?

 

I hope I'm making sense.

It makes sense, but there is a concept of spiritual strength that people are supposed to muster to resist temptation, etc. People are all assumed to have weaknesses, which is what evil has to work with since it cannot control you like a puppet. Likewise, since goodness can't control you either, it has to rely on enlightening you and motivating you to make good choices.

 

Your point gives me an idea about answering the thread question, though. I.e. the devil must view souls as strong in order to be attracted to breaking them (down). Presumably, once you are completely broken down he would be no longer interested in your weaknesses because there would be nothing left to break, though presumably as long as you have the strength and will to go on living, there is something there for him to work on.

 

You're right, though. The side of good DOES try to care for souls to motivate them to choose goodness over evil; but I think it does so in a way that is intended to strengthen them instead of making them dependent on angels, divine interventions, etc. It's like the bible quote about giving someone a fish vs. teaching them to fish. I actually forget that that one is biblical because it's used in so many contexts outside formal religion.

 

 

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It makes sense, but there is a concept of spiritual strength that people are supposed to muster to resist temptation, etc. People are all assumed to have weaknesses, which is what evil has to work with since it cannot control you like a puppet. Likewise, since goodness can't control you either, it has to rely on enlightening you and motivating you to make good choices.

Sorry for the ignorance (I've studied the "Old" testament, but not the "new"), where does this concept appear? In the Old testament God treats his "children" israelites as if they are incompetent, really, in preserving their own beliefs. He keeps getting upset again and again for how they stray away any time things start getting good.

 

It seems even God recognizes that humans have weak souls that need constant guidance; of course what they CHOOSE to do with this guidance is part of their free will, but they seem to need that guidance regardless.

 

It sounds to me that this is a bad opinion of the human soul in general in that case.

 

In Judaism there's no concept of the devil, really; the Job story is explained with an alternate to the usual "Satan" as an actual fallen angel explanation that Christianity usually adopts. However, it seems to me that if Satan exists, he is more of a predator that waits for people to stray away rather than tempts them on purpose.

 

It's not that hard to stray away in the bible -- it happens all the time. God and the prophets seem to be constantly battling to make sure humans are WITHIN the bounds. So I don't quite see how Satan's job is "hard" at all...

 

Am I making sense?

 

You're right, though. The side of good DOES try to care for souls to motivate them to choose goodness over evil; but I think it does so in a way that is intended to strengthen them instead of making them dependent on angels, divine interventions, etc. It's like the bible quote about giving someone a fish vs. teaching them to fish. I actually forget that that one is biblical because it's used in so many contexts outside formal religion.

 

But if you need to convince someone to stay good, it means that the natural inclination is NOT to be good, doesn't it? I don't need to convince most human beings that they should eat -- that's a natural inclination. I also don't need to convince most humans that they should talk. It's soething that comes naturally.

 

But it seems like "Goodness" as it is described in th bible is not something that comes naturally to humans; they need to be led to it, convinced it's the right thing, and then constantly reminded to stay there.

 

If we assume that souls are the place where morality is observed in humans -- doesn't that show, on its own, that the soul itself is weak? Why would you have to constantly watch out of temptation if your soul was strong?

 

You don't need to watch out of the temptation of swallowing toilet cleaners. You know it's bad for you because people warned you as a child, and you aren't really inclined to do it anymore. You don't see commercials urging you to avoid swallowing toilet cleaners.

 

You do, however, see a lot of "commercials" in the bible (and out of it) that urge you to stick to the biblical message. It seems to me that this is evidence that it's not a natural choice, that's why the bible (and religions) keep emphasizing it.

 

Does that make sense?

 

~mooey

 

p.s

 

Another example -- Smoking is bad for humans, but people do it for various reasons ('feels good' / 'social' / 'peer pressure' / whatever) . The main reason is that whatever reason they pick, it makes them feel good (either by peer pressure or by social interaction or status or just the act itself, whatever).

 

The inclination of most human beings is to choose something that FEELS GOOD rather than something that is going tomake them healthy in the long run. That's why people have trouble sticking to diets, too. It's much more enjoyable eating fatty sugary foods than abstaining from them and exercising.

 

So, that's a testament of the natural inclinations we have; we naturally prefer things that make us feel good. We're naturally inclined towards fatty foods and sugars. You need to make a PURPOSEFUL effort to avoid these if you want to be healthy.

 

I think this is comparable to what goes on in the bible in relation to the soul. Humans need to do a conscious effort to be righteous, rather than just to be careful of sin. That means that the natural inclination is to NOT be righteous -- which means the soul, in essence, is weak.

 

I hope this makes more sense now..

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Sorry for the ignorance (I've studied the "Old" testament, but not the "new"), where does this concept appear? In the Old testament God treats his "children" israelites as if they are incompetent, really, in preserving their own beliefs. He keeps getting upset again and again for how they stray away any time things start getting good.

My impression is that the evil/trouble they get into is always a byproduct of the good. For example, Adam and Eve get bodies and a garden that can reproduce/multiply and provide them with everything they could ever need or want, which is a logical consequence of God replicating his creative/productive power in them. Yet by creating the means to die and be banished from the garden (sin), God also gives them the means to go against the nature of the creation, which is to create/reproduce life. So, it's like death is a necessary byproduct of infinite creativity but so is God's warning/advice not to pursue it, as is his anger when they DO pursue it and become ashamed of their naked (pro-creative) bodies. They are not stupid. They are just experimenting with all the power God replicated into them and learning by trial and error. God's advice/warnings are like their ability to extrapolate ways to avoid suffering based on prior experience/knowledge. Once they know sin, shame, and death as well as having known paradise, eternal life, etc., they become able to choose between the two directions and seek the wisdom to make good choices (i.e. seek God).

 

It seems even God recognizes that humans have weak souls that need constant guidance; of course what they CHOOSE to do with this guidance is part of their free will, but they seem to need that guidance regardless.

Well, they only "need" it in the sense of not destroying themselves and others and turning their lives into an eternal hell lol. They just don't like suffering, so they seek wisdom to avert it.

 

It sounds to me that this is a bad opinion of the human soul in general in that case.

It's just factual. If humans have the ability to choose (which some determinists assume they don't but I won't go there), then they necessarily have the power to succumb to temptation or resist it. It's only called "weakness" because temptation is, well, tempting. Adultery, theft, and killing are logical commandments because they're tempting. Smashing your toe with a hammer doesn't need to be mentioned as a commandment, presumably, because it's not tempting.

 

In Judaism there's no concept of the devil, really; the Job story is explained with an alternate to the usual "Satan" as an actual fallen angel explanation that Christianity usually adopts. However, it seems to me that if Satan exists, he is more of a predator that waits for people to stray away rather than tempts them on purpose.

My understanding is that the word, "satan," means opposer. It seems logical to me that whenever God's infinite creativity results in something that runs counter to the intentionality of the creation, it becomes a "sin" and thus something that is interesting to satan as a means to destroy God's creation. It's just creation and destruction personified, imo. Look at the story of how the angel falls, though. It is because he becomes enamored with his own beauty/greatness/power as God's best servant/angel. So, again, it's like God has the ability to create and evaluate things as good, but when an angel does this and it leads the angel to become jealous and destructive toward God, it becomes sinful. So it's like a natural evolution of creativity into destructiveness with egoism as a medium to arrive at opposition and destruction. Satan has to wait on people to act, because they can't be controlled, but seduction is already present in the story of the serpent tricking Eve in the garden. This basically sets of obfuscation in opposition to the enlightening advice God gives not to eat the fruit by telling them it will kill them. They only learned the truth after the fact, but it is interesting that the lie was designed to seduce them into self-destruction whereas the good advice was designed to help them stay out of trouble.

 

It's not that hard to stray away in the bible -- it happens all the time. God and the prophets seem to be constantly battling to make sure humans are WITHIN the bounds. So I don't quite see how Satan's job is "hard" at all...

It's not, and I think this is part of why it is tempting. It is the easy path. This is also why I think God commands Adam to live by the plants of the field by the sweat of his brow and curses Eve to pain in childbirth. It's hard to grow food and give birth, much easier to steal or hunt and have free sex without worrying about the consequences, but the plant food and birthing results in basically new life, whereas the free sex, stealing, hunting, etc. all result in destruction of life/liberty/property.

 

Am I making sense?

Yes, am I? I hope I haven't lapsed into dogma by explaining the logic I have deciphered in these stories.

 

But if you need to convince someone to stay good, it means that the natural inclination is NOT to be good, doesn't it? I don't need to convince most human beings that they should eat -- that's a natural inclination. I also don't need to convince most humans that they should talk. It's soething that comes naturally.

There are conflicts, though. You would have to work harder to convince someone to eat healthy food and exercise than to sit around all day and eat junk food, but it would be better for their health to resist the easy path. If people would only go down the road of their natural inclinations all the time, how much trouble would they get themselves into?

 

But it seems like "Goodness" as it is described in th bible is not something that comes naturally to humans; they need to be led to it, convinced it's the right thing, and then constantly reminded to stay there.

But realize that "God" is mostly a metaphor for the source of knowledge about nature, causes and consequences, etc. "Conversing with God" basically means paying attention to all possible sources of wisdom that can reduce your suffering and allow you to cause less suffering for others.

 

If we assume that souls are the place where morality is observed in humans -- doesn't that show, on its own, that the soul itself is weak? Why would you have to constantly watch out of temptation if your soul was strong?

You feel less fear of temptation the stronger your soul becomes. Who is more afraid of going into a bar, a recovering alcoholic or someone who has no problem choosing to not to drink?

 

You don't need to watch out of the temptation of swallowing toilet cleaners. You know it's bad for you because people warned you as a child, and you aren't really inclined to do it anymore. You don't see commercials urging you to avoid swallowing toilet cleaners.

By theological logic, you could call the messengers of toilet-cleaner-drinking abstinence "angels" bringing divine advice. You could say it is a miracle that you didn't kill yourself drinking toilet cleaners, and you could call any temptation you ever felt to consume them as satan's demons attempting to possess you to destroy your own body. People either laugh or scoff at this kind of language because it is viewed as lofty these days, but it's really just a logical set of concepts/language, however primitive.

 

You do, however, see a lot of "commercials" in the bible (and out of it) that urge you to stick to the biblical message. It seems to me that this is evidence that it's not a natural choice, that's why the bible (and religions) keep emphasizing it.

 

Does that make sense?

Yes, but "natural choice" implies "easy choice" the way you're using it, which makes sense in the logic of, say, water flowing downhill. But it is also part of nature that cats eat grass that makes them vomit so they can get rid of hairballs. So while it seems slightly less "natural" to make hard choices for your own good or that of others, I think it is ultimately also part of nature, albeit the "uphill battle" part.

 

So, that's a testament of the natural inclinations we have; we naturally prefer things that make us feel good. We're naturally inclined towards fatty foods and sugars. You need to make a PURPOSEFUL effort to avoid these if you want to be healthy.

I think you could say that the body's natural tendency to desire things that are bad for it is analogical to the emergence of satan as a fallen angel of God. Your body is hungry because it wants to "go forth and multiply" (i.e. grow) but this results in it destroying its own health in some cases (sin/destruction/killing/stealing)

 

I think this is comparable to what goes on in the bible in relation to the soul. Humans need to do a conscious effort to be righteous, rather than just to be careful of sin. That means that the natural inclination is to NOT be righteous -- which means the soul, in essence, is weak.

 

I hope this makes more sense now..

It does, but when you say the soul is essentially weak because it is subject to natural temptation, would you say that the will to overcome weakness with strength is any less essential? Adrenaline, testosterone, estrogen, oxytocin etc. are all natural stimulants for overcoming other weaknesses, no?

 

 

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Well, yeah, wouldn't that just mean that they all have the same power level -- weak ?

 

All human souls are considered tainted once they have sinned, and no longer deserving of a place in heaven, so yes, we are all weak in that sense. We have all "sinned".

 

Infinite is a synonym for " ultimately undefinable."

 

No. Infinite in this regard means being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. That is a defined being that has no limit.

 

You feel less fear of temptation the stronger your soul becomes. Who is more afraid of going into a bar, a recovering alcoholic or someone who has no problem choosing to not to drink?

 

Everyone has their weakness. I've never drank, nor do I ever plan on drinking, but I would not be able to turn my cheek if someone killed my family. Jesus is against killing of any kind. I would be sinning, no matter how justified it might be viewed.

 

All sins carry the same weight - eternal damnation. An alcoholic may not want to rape people, a rapist may not want to murder people, a thief may not want to rape people. Does that mean that any of them are stronger souls than any of the others? No.

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