# what if your soul wasn't powerful enough?

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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".

But I think you should look at what "tainted" means in this context. I think it is like having developed a "taste for blood."

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

I think this is just semantics. However, I think it becomes more than that when you break it down to the level of comparative levels of power, presence, knowledge, authority, etc. When using appeals to these things to appeal the power/authority of another living person, the claim to authority that supercedes all others is called "God." For example, if the king tells you he has the right to rule you because it was given him by God, you would have to appeal to the authority of God to disagree with him. You could say that you prayed earnestly and God revealed to you that you shouldn't submit to his rule as king. What basis would the king then have to override your authority except his own interpretation of divine revelation - or he could accuse you of having misinterpreted your interpretation of God's revelation to you and thus bring your faith into doubt.

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.

I wish you'd read my previous post to see that sin has a specific logic of being destructive. You make it like these are arbitrary rules with arbitrary punishments. Drinking is destructive in the specific ways that it harms people, just as killing is. The damnation of drinking is a direct consequence of drinking, as is the death caused by killing. Both seem to have little consequence in the short term, but in the longer term (or bigger picture), they have terrible consequences.

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.

Soul-strength isn't a status to be proud of or ashamed. It is a means of resisting temptation. Doesn't any sin erode your will to resist other sins? Isn't it easier to rape or kill when drunk? Isn't rape more common in the aftermath of killing, e.g. during war? Doesn't stealing cause people to lose respect for others and themselves and thus more likely to relativize other sins?

Likewise, doesn't each successful act of resistance make one feel spiritually stronger? When you give up drinking or smoking or sweets, doesn't it make you feel like you overcame a barrier and thus stronger and more capable of overcoming subsequent adversity?

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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

How could the soul of a believer ever become weak? I am never tempted to drink toilet cleaner fluid, because I know it is against my own best interests. Similarly, if I believed I would spend eternity in some wonderful state rather than in misery just on the basis of following a few simple rules for a few decades, and these rules were already largely sanctioned by bourgeois social etiquette, why would it ever even appear 'tempting' to me not to do so?

If you focus the question more narrowly then the absurdity of the whole idea of believers being weak or tempted emerges in full clarity. If God held a picnic and required everyone there to eat only using the left hand for a few hours in return for an infinite life of bliss immediately following the picnic, with the scene of this infinite life of bliss displayed to all at the edge of the picnic, why would anyone be tempted not to obey? The very concept seems inexplicable. Would anyone really say, "Oh well, it was just too darn hard to eat only with my left hand for all that time"?

The fact that believers fall into temptation leads me to the conclusion that they don't really believe at some level.

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The fact that believers fall into temptation leads me to the conclusion that they don't really believe at some level.

That's a powerful statement. I don't disagree with you, nor do I agree with you. I am a nonbeliever, and was that for all my life; the "most" I went with belief is being a sort of a Deist (before "trying" out some nifty pseudoscience weirdo stuff in my teen rebelious years.. maybe i'll tell you all about my mischief in some other thread some day ).

But it seems like a really harsh judgment on people who believe. It's also something I've always had problems with understanding in regards to a God. The way I see it, if God created us (humans) with the expectation we follow "Good", we should have at least an inclination to do that. That is -- it's supposed to be easier to do Good than to do bad.

While in some things like murder and rape these moral decisions are obvious, other moral statements aren't that obvious. Allowing for an abortion to a woman who was brutally raped, for instance, is an extreme case that has a not-very-obvious moral answer (if at all). Murder by self defense of your child, for instance, is another such case.

And I am not even talking about the rest of the biblical laws (like the permission to beat up your child if he/she are insolent, like the demand that a woman who was rape will marry her rapist with no option for divorce, etc) -- those are *absolutely* morally vague (if not outright morally repugnant).

So it always seemed odd to me that the blame for so many believers "falling" to sin to be a trap to begin with. It's as if God created the world to really try and see which one of his children could fail horribly and stray off. It might've been an "educational" experience (if we compare God to a father of humanity) if only the punishment wasn't roasting in hell for eternity.

It just seems like a low tactics. I don't quite get it.

So the other point I was trying to make is that even if we blame the person for the failing, isn't the fact this person was created by an omnipotent God automatically means that God is, in fact, created that person with "weaker" soul to begin with?

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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 clearly demarcated. Consider the actual legal case of United States v. Holmes (1842), in which the sailor in command of an overloaded and sinking rowboat of survivors from a shipwreck pushed some of the survivors overboard into the freezing waters of the Atlantic in order to prevent the entire boat from being swamped by the high waves lapping over the boat. Was this act good in saving more lives than would have been lost had he not deliberately murdered some of the passengers, or was it bad because he murdered some of the people on board and under his care? Could he be certain that the small number of people he selected for sacrifice were not chosen by him because of some illegitimate personal prejudices he had against them? What if both illegitimate prejudice partially operated but the fact remained that at least some people had to be put overboard to save the much larger number of passengers remaining? Could Holmes legitimately choose his personal enemies?

If I know I can feed a starving person in the Third World for $3 a year but I buy a new tv I don't really need for$300, am I guilty of having murdered 100 people? I would be legally guilty of murdering one aged, feeble, or sick person in my personal care if I spent money on myself rather than providing food and medical care for the person dependent on me, so why shouldn't I be guilty in God's eyes for letting all those 100 people in the Third World die? Am I morally obligated to work as hard as I can at the best paying job available and then live in a dumpster and get my food from a restaurant's garbage pail so I can send every spare cent to ensure that I rescue as many people in the Third World who would otherwise starve to death? Unless the line can be drawn rigorously between good and evil, as the infinite intelligence and goodness of God would no doubt require, then we are just being silly in staking our salvation on 'being good' when the definition of good is confined to narrow, bourgeois contexts of analysis.

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First off, I think you're making this issue of resisting temptation vs. succumbing to it too complex. Just take it on a case-by-case basis. You are tempted to eat only candy and not worry about brushing your teeth. Long term consequences: a hell of dental health. You are tempted to have sex with anyone you're attracted to. Consequence: you lose your health and no one loves you out of jealousy that you'll cheat on them. You are tempted to kill your creditors so you don't have to pay off your debts. Consequence: your employer will kill you to avoid paying your pension. etc. etc. Each sin is tempting for the short-term benefits it affords and creates long-term hell with its consequences. It's that practical.

If I know I can feed a starving person in the Third World for $3 a year but I buy a new tv I don't really need for$300, am I guilty of having murdered 100 people? I would be legally guilty of murdering one aged, feeble, or sick person in my personal care if I spent money on myself rather than providing food and medical care for the person dependent on me, so why shouldn't I be guilty in God's eyes for letting all those 100 people in the Third World die? Am I morally obligated to work as hard as I can at the best paying job available and then live in a dumpster and get my food from a restaurant's garbage pail so I can send every spare cent to ensure that I rescue as many people in the Third World who would otherwise starve to death? Unless the line can be drawn rigorously between good and evil, as the infinite intelligence and goodness of God would no doubt require, then we are just being silly in staking our salvation on 'being good' when the definition of good is confined to narrow, bourgeois contexts of analysis.

Food waste is usually caused by someone's convenience, so it's another example of short-term temptation causing suffering in the long-term. Because so many people want fresh hot food ready for them on demand, much food gets wasted to keep enough ready for those with the money to spend on it. The result of this food-lifestyle culture is that the wealthier economies create poverty and hunger that gets relegated to other economies. Then, the economic stratification causes conflict and war as some people/parties/governments blame others for global problems and deny responsibility themselves because they have created their own means of buying off their guilt with some ritual charity such as monetary giving, development aid, political lobbying, or just generally shifting blame to some category that doesn't include themselves (the US usually for non-US citizens and the upper-class among US citizens).

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But it's also quite clear that many people get away with being evil or choosing what is morally bad. In fact, they often greatly profit from it compared to people who choose what they think is good. This is why Immanuel Kant said that we need to posit the existence of an afterlife with punishments and rewards, since otherwise the hypothesis of the goodness of God could not be preserved, given that many sinners would profit from their earthly sins with no posthumous balancing of the accounts.

The problem here though is that we wind up having to sustain one overly-ambitious, empirically unsupported, miraculous hypothesis -- that good and evil can rigorously be distinguished and that good choices must have correspondingly profitable consequences while bad choices must have correspondingly unprofitable consequences -- with another equally preposterous metaphysical assertion that there is yet another life after death to ensure the proper balancing of accounts.

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But it's also quite clear that many people get away with being evil or choosing what is morally bad. In fact, they often greatly profit from it compared to people who choose what they think is good. This is why Immanuel Kant said that we need to posit the existence of an afterlife with punishments and rewards, since otherwise the hypothesis of the goodness of God could not be preserved, given that many sinners would profit from their earthly sins with no posthumous balancing of the accounts.

This can be done with an afterlife concept or, my preference, eternal-life through reincarnation with karmic reverberations. This basically means that exploitative actions you send out eventually work their way back to you at some later moment. If you can't stomach re-incarnation, then consider it in terms of "heirs." I.e. either your children, grandchildren, etc. or if you don't personally procreate, others who follow you will experience the consequences of living in a world reproduced and reconstructed (at least partially) by your actions. Obviously Kant's observation of sinners wanting to eliminate the idea of afterlife indicates a will-to-termination that allows people to get away with things by assuring that they can transcend the limits of the consequences (statute of limitations). If people can identify with some eventual recipient of the consequences of their actions, limitation is transcended and they are faced with the prospect of recognizing the consequences of their actions for others (assuming they don't obfuscate the very actions and consequences that they are engaged in creating).

The problem here though is that we wind up having to sustain one overly-ambitious, empirically unsupported, miraculous hypothesis -- that good and evil can rigorously be distinguished and that good choices must have correspondingly profitable consequences while bad choices must have correspondingly unprofitable consequences -- with another equally preposterous metaphysical assertion that there is yet another life after death to ensure the proper balancing of accounts.

Who says that good and evil can rigorously be distinguished? This is another reason I like the idea of karma. If you ever have trouble deciding whether a certain action is good or evil, all you have to do is trace out the consequences of that action and imagine yourself at the receiving end. Then you can ask whether you yourself would want to be on the receiving end of your actions and why, and decide on that basis whether to choose to pursue them or not.

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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 clearly demarcated. Consider the actual legal case of United States v. Holmes (1842), in which the sailor in command of an overloaded and sinking rowboat of survivors from a shipwreck pushed some of the survivors overboard into the freezing waters of the Atlantic in order to prevent the entire boat from being swamped by the high waves lapping over the boat. Was this act good in saving more lives than would have been lost had he not deliberately murdered some of the passengers, or was it bad because he murdered some of the people on board and under his care? Could he be certain that the small number of people he selected for sacrifice were not chosen by him because of some illegitimate personal prejudices he had against them? What if both illegitimate prejudice partially operated but the fact remained that at least some people had to be put overboard to save the much larger number of passengers remaining? Could Holmes legitimately choose his personal enemies?

If I know I can feed a starving person in the Third World for $3 a year but I buy a new tv I don't really need for$300, am I guilty of having murdered 100 people? I would be legally guilty of murdering one aged, feeble, or sick person in my personal care if I spent money on myself rather than providing food and medical care for the person dependent on me, so why shouldn't I be guilty in God's eyes for letting all those 100 people in the Third World die? Am I morally obligated to work as hard as I can at the best paying job available and then live in a dumpster and get my food from a restaurant's garbage pail so I can send every spare cent to ensure that I rescue as many people in the Third World who would otherwise starve to death? Unless the line can be drawn rigorously between good and evil, as the infinite intelligence and goodness of God would no doubt require, then we are just being silly in staking our salvation on 'being good' when the definition of good is confined to narrow, bourgeois contexts of analysis.

I agree with that.

This also fits into my own personal view that morality, as a general case, is mostly subjective. There are a few issues that seem to be generally objectively agreed upon, but those are the "extreme" cases (like murder or rape). The rest? Mostly subjective, it's different between cultures and requires much more philosophical thinking.

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I agree with that.

This also fits into my own personal view that morality, as a general case, is mostly subjective. There are a few issues that seem to be generally objectively agreed upon, but those are the "extreme" cases (like murder or rape). The rest? Mostly subjective, it's different between cultures and requires much more philosophical thinking.

What makes you confound subjective consensus with objectivity? Just because people widely agree that murder and rape are morally problematic, how does that elevate the judgment to the level of objectivity? You can't "prove" murder or rape "wrong," can you? Objectivity is more than just a status given to ideas on the basis of being widely agreed upon, no?

Edited by lemur
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What makes you confound subjective consensus with objectivity? Just because people widely agree that murder and rape are morally problematic, how does that elevate the judgment to the level of objectivity? You can't "prove" murder or rape "wrong," can you? Objectivity is more than just a status given to ideas on the basis of being widely agreed upon, no?

Notice, I wrote "Seem to be mostly objective". I'm not too sure they are. However, it seems that even in separate cultures around the world they are consistent, so I stated simply that these *seem* to be more objective.

In fact, I can "prove" (as much as you can with any ethical arguments) -- or at the very least make a damn good argument that is logically consistent and evolutionarily and historically supported -- that both murder and rape are "wrong", without the need to a deity, but we should start a new thread about that.

~mooey

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Notice, I wrote "Seem to be mostly objective". I'm not too sure they are. However, it seems that even in separate cultures around the world they are consistent, so I stated simply that these *seem* to be more objective.

In fact, I can "prove" (as much as you can with any ethical arguments) -- or at the very least make a damn good argument that is logically consistent and evolutionarily and historically supported -- that both murder and rape are "wrong", without the need to a deity, but we should start a new thread about that.

~mooey

To me, objective = related to or based on object relations (i.e. materiality) and subjective = related to or based on subjectivity, consciousness, ideas, language, etc. What you are calling "objective," I would probably call universal subjectivity or ethics. There not actually universal, though, because killing is always allowed (or at least done) under certain legitimations as is rape. It is only recent that marital rape has been declared illegal by some governments, along with sexual harassment, etc. but in my observation consent and respect have not become any more dominant, and perhaps less so. Lots of people just continue to proceed with the culture that sex is just fun and games and it's perfectly legitimate to manipulate women into it because "hey, when they are fighting they really mean 'yes'"(sic). This culture upsets me but I don't know what to do about it because women seem to like the power of being able to forgive and forget when they weren't treated too badly.

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To me, objective = related to or based on object relations (i.e. materiality) and subjective = related to or based on subjectivity, consciousness, ideas, language, etc. What you are calling "objective," I would probably call universal subjectivity or ethics. There not actually universal, though, because killing is always allowed (or at least done) under certain legitimations as is rape. It is only recent that marital rape has been declared illegal by some governments, along with sexual harassment, etc. but in my observation consent and respect have not become any more dominant, and perhaps less so. Lots of people just continue to proceed with the culture that sex is just fun and games and it's perfectly legitimate to manipulate women into it because "hey, when they are fighting they really mean 'yes'"(sic). This culture upsets me but I don't know what to do about it because women seem to like the power of being able to forgive and forget when they weren't treated too badly.

lemur, objectivity is a word that has a definition. Quite ironically, it's not a subjective definition... Second, you can't really define a word using the same word in your definition, so saying that subjective is based on subjectivity is redundant and makes no sense.

For clarity's sake, here is what Merriam Webster has to say about these words:

Definition of SUBJECTIVE

1

: of, relating to, or constituting a subject: as

a obsolete : of, relating to, or characteristic of one that is a subject especially in lack of freedom of action or in submissiveness

b : being or relating to a grammatical subject; especially : nominative

2

: of or relating to the essential being of that which has substance, qualities, attributes, or relations

3

a : characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind : phenomenal — compare objective 1b

b : relating to or being experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states

http://www.merriam-w...nary/subjective

Definition of OBJECTIVE

1

a : relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence —used chiefly in medieval philosophy

b : of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind <objective reality> <our reveries … are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff> — compare subjective 3a

c of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual — compare subjective 4c

d : involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena <objective awareness> <objective data>

http://www.merriam-w...=0&t=1301411778

In short, subjective depends on the individual and is considered to be different from one individual to another, and objective is something that is equal to all individuals.

The entire point of objective terms is that there is a consensus about them. If oyu wish to discuss the nature of "Objective" vs. "Subjective", open a new philosophical thread. We will have ourselves a nice debate about it, and I believe you might be surprised on how much I might agree with you, philosophically speaking. But this isn't a debate about that, and so when I use these definitions, they're not really "questionable" - they're well defined, and I use their accepted definitions when I talk.

I know you are getting upset when I keep asking you to stick to the subject, but I do this because it seems like every time you disagree with a point someone makes, you drag the argument into a tangent about the validity of the terminology or some unrelated philosophical point. This is a big forum; you can open a new thread, and people will likely participate.

But changing the goal post when you disagree with a point I am making is unfair and quite annoying. I use terms that are defined; you can't redefine them just to disagree with me. I would love to debate you and see where our disagreements lie and if we can find a middle ground or just understand where each of us comes -- but it's quite impossible when you keep doing these awkward dances around words, definitions or the questions themselves.

For the purposes of this argument, objectivity and subjectivity are well defined. It's called a dictionary.

~mooey

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lemur, objectivity is a word that has a definition. Quite ironically, it's not a subjective definition... Second, you can't really define a word using the same word in your definition, so saying that subjective is based on subjectivity is redundant and makes no sense.

For clarity's sake, here is what Merriam Webster has to say about these words:

For "subjective," I use @#3 and for "objective" @#b & #d

In short, subjective depends on the individual and is considered to be different from one individual to another, and objective is something that is equal to all individuals.

No, this is a common misconception. There are forms of subjectivity that various individuals conform to with varying degrees of voluntarism. These are referred to as "social facts," a term coined by Durkheim in the 19th century. To me, the concept is dubious since it circumvents the need for empirical observation beyond observation of the social-relations that constitute the fact as if it was objective reality. The biggest social-fact conflict of recent times has been that of "race" which has been argued to be scientifically/biologically bankrupt by physical anthropologists while being studied as a social-cultural practice by other social scientists. I.e. objective facts can conflict with social facts because of the basis of the latter in subjectivism instead of objectivism.

The entire point of objective terms is that there is a consensus about them. If oyu wish to discuss the nature of "Objective" vs. "Subjective", open a new philosophical thread. We will have ourselves a nice debate about it, and I believe you might be surprised on how much I might agree with you, philosophically speaking. But this isn't a debate about that, and so when I use these definitions, they're not really "questionable" - they're well defined, and I use their accepted definitions when I talk.

No, consensus may occur as a result of objective bases for knowledge but it is empiricism that forms the basis for objective knowledge, not social consensus. If social consensus was sufficient to establish objective knowledge, then the Earth could be flat as long as everyone agreed that it was. Empirical objectivists believe that the Earth was never flat, even when there was consensus that it was. Sorry if this example sounds condescending, but it's just a nice clear one for illustrating the difference between subjective consensus and objective empiricism.

I know you are getting upset when I keep asking you to stick to the subject, but I do this because it seems like every time you disagree with a point someone makes, you drag the argument into a tangent about the validity of the terminology or some unrelated philosophical point. This is a big forum; you can open a new thread, and people will likely participate.

Are you saying I shouldn't clarify terminological errors?

But changing the goal post when you disagree with a point I am making is unfair and quite annoying. I use terms that are defined; you can't redefine them just to disagree with me. I would love to debate you and see where our disagreements lie and if we can find a middle ground or just understand where each of us comes -- but it's quite impossible when you keep doing these awkward dances around words, definitions or the questions themselves.

Are you going to admit, then, that you were stuck in the "social facts" logic of consensual subjectivity as objectivity?

For the purposes of this argument, objectivity and subjectivity are well defined. It's called a dictionary.

You shouldn't be so rude. You are the one who misinterpreted the dictionary definitions, not me.

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No, this is a common misconception. There are forms of subjectivity that various individuals conform to with varying degrees of voluntarism. These are referred to as "social facts," a term coined by Durkheim in the 19th century. To me, the concept is dubious since it circumvents the need for empirical observation beyond observation of the social-relations that constitute the fact as if it was objective reality. The biggest social-fact conflict of recent times has been that of "race" which has been argued to be scientifically/biologically bankrupt by physical anthropologists while being studied as a social-cultural practice by other social scientists. I.e. objective facts can conflict with social facts because of the basis of the latter in subjectivism instead of objectivism.

lemur, you'd be surprised, but I actually agree with you about the vagueness of objectivity.

HOWEVER -- this is a tangent on what I was actually SAYING.

Please read my post again. I was using "subjective" and "objective" in a manner that is quite clear for my point. If you want to argue my point, do, but you seem to twist my point on its face by replacing the meaning of words I'm using, and that's not fair. The argument of whether or not anything is subjective or objective is a completely different argument. I'd love to debate it, I tend to agree, in fact, that there are very little, if at all, things that are objective at all.

BUT

I said "x seems objective." You argued about the 'seems' and then about the meaning of objective. Stop nitpicking unrelated tangents, please. I made a specific point, and if you disagree with it, you can argue against it. I don't quite understand how this point about objectivity being mass-subjectivity is related to what I was saying. If anything, it seems to agree with me; call it mass-subjectivity, call it objectivity, call it bob. Whaetever it is, there's a difference between "IT" and PERSONAL beliefs. That was my point.

Some ethical issues seem to be shared by large masses of people all over the world regardless of culture. Some seem to be cultural and geographic.

That was my point. I thought it was clear, but if it wasn't, I beg of you, ask me to clarify. Don't reinterpret my words for me and then nitpick and strawman my point so it serves your purposes.

~mooey

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That was my point. I thought it was clear, but if it wasn't, I beg of you, ask me to clarify. Don't reinterpret my words for me and then nitpick and strawman my point so it serves your purposes.

Ok, can you please clarify how relative consensus in morality has anything to do with objectivity?

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Repeating my post #58:

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 clearly demarcated. Consider the actual legal case of United States v. Holmes (1842), in which the sailor in command of an overloaded and sinking rowboat of survivors from a shipwreck pushed some of the survivors overboard into the freezing waters of the Atlantic in order to prevent the entire boat from being swamped by the high waves lapping over the boat. Was this act good in saving more lives than would have been lost had he not deliberately murdered some of the passengers, or was it bad because he murdered some of the people on board and under his care? Could he be certain that the small number of people he selected for sacrifice were not chosen by him because of some illegitimate personal prejudices he had against them? What if both illegitimate prejudice partially operated but the fact remained that at least some people had to be put overboard to save the much larger number of passengers remaining? Could Holmes legitimately choose his personal enemies?

If I know I can feed a starving person in the Third World for $3 a year but I buy a new tv I don't really need for$300, am I guilty of having murdered 100 people? I would be legally guilty of murdering one aged, feeble, or sick person in my personal care if I spent money on myself rather than providing food and medical care for the person dependent on me, so why shouldn't I be guilty in God's eyes for letting all those 100 people in the Third World die? Am I morally obligated to work as hard as I can at the best paying job available and then live in a dumpster and get my food from a restaurant's garbage pail so I can send every spare cent to ensure that I rescue as many people in the Third World who would otherwise starve to death? Unless the line can be drawn rigorously between good and evil, as the infinite intelligence and goodness of God would no doubt require, then we are just being silly in staking our salvation on 'being good' when the definition of good is confined to narrow, bourgeois contexts of analysis.

I agree with that.

This also fits into my own personal view that morality, as a general case, is mostly subjective. There are a few issues that seem to be generally objectively agreed upon, but those are the "extreme" cases (like murder or rape). The rest? Mostly subjective, it's different between cultures and requires much more philosophical thinking.

So to recap; Marat made a point that "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 clearly demarcated." Suggesting that what the definitions of "Good" and "Evil" are not as clear cut as some religions claim.

I agreed with that overview, and added that in my opinion this extends to more than just some religions, but rather to the whole of mankind. That is, the view that something is "moral" and some other thing is not "moral" is not as clear cut as many people make it seem, whether they speak from the perspective of religion or not.

I used the term objectivity and subjectivity, but since they raise contention, let's drop those. I shall rephrase:

In my opinion and personal view, morality is not as clear cut as many make it seem. While some moral propositions seem to repeat throughout different cultures, many others do not, and this supports my belief in the matter.

Most religions make it a point to stress what is "Good" and what is "Bad", and the "Bad" is considered sin; since we are discussing a soul's strength to avoid sin (or resist 'satan'), the point I was trying to make is that "Goodness" and "Badness" are NOT universal. They are, in general, mostly not agreed upon.

Hence the relevance.

I withdraw my use of the terms "Objective" and "Subjective" if they raise any form of contention that takes AWAY from the argument I am actually positing.

~moo

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The problem with karma is that it fails to be just since nothing ensures that the retribution will be precisely tailored to the evil. The evil I do today,once it is input into the massive black box of the world with its maze of interconnections, blind alleys, unexpected reversals, and unintended consequences, may come back at me or my fellow-humans so utterly transformed that the good are punished for their good deeds which produced unintended negative consequences, or the evil are rewarded by sins which bounced around in the gigantic clockwork mechanism of the world to produce goods, or some actions might ricochet so that they never affect their authors. To make all these karmic effects come out right, you have to make some grand metaphysical assumption that the winding courses of cause and effect in the world somehow always take the right karmic result to the right person so that moral justice is achieved on earth, thus making the human world consistent with its authorship and governance by an omnipotent and perfectly good God. You then wind up with the same problem as you have with the afterlife hypothesis, that you have to resort to a fantasic, superstitious type of hypothetical entity -- perfectly matched up karmic effects -- to sustain another equally fantastic, superstitious hypothetical entity -- a perfectly good God.

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So to recap; Marat made a point that "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 clearly demarcated." Suggesting that what the definitions of "Good" and "Evil" are not as clear cut as some religions claim.

I agreed with that overview, and added that in my opinion this extends to more than just some religions, but rather to the whole of mankind. That is, the view that something is "moral" and some other thing is not "moral" is not as clear cut as many people make it seem, whether they speak from the perspective of religion or not.

Right, this is where you should understand that faith-based belief system take an approach to contending with uncertainty that involves seeking revelation "in good faith." In other words, theists know that life and morality is usually more complex than their minds or scriptures are prepared to deal with, so they reason the best they can with reference to scripture and revelation sought through prayer. Sometimes, despite all good reasoning and clarity, you still can't come to an adequate path forward in your situation and that is when you pray and, hopefully, something will "come to you." You could call that something "divine revelation through Holy Spirit." You might turn out to have misinterpreted your intuition in retrospect but faith entails that you go with it when you get it because you have nothing better to go on. If you did, you wouldn't have ended up in a desperate situation in the first place.

I used the term objectivity and subjectivity, but since they raise contention, let's drop those. I shall rephrase:

In my opinion and personal view, morality is not as clear cut as many make it seem. While some moral propositions seem to repeat throughout different cultures, many others do not, and this supports my belief in the matter.

Yes, I agree. Theists sometimes regard atheists as missing this insofar as they seem to think that rationality and logic guarantee solutions to all moral problems. In reality, complexity and contradictions can bring people to the limits of rationality and logic and that is where they need to seek other, more subjective paths.

You should take inventory of all the different subjective methods of reasoning and making choices. You will find that there are all sorts of "logics" and "ideologies" that claim to be objective but are actually just systematic subjective methods.

Most religions make it a point to stress what is "Good" and what is "Bad", and the "Bad" is considered sin; since we are discussing a soul's strength to avoid sin (or resist 'satan'), the point I was trying to make is that "Goodness" and "Badness" are NOT universal. They are, in general, mostly not agreed upon.

Right, but the point of the idea of being able to have a direct relationship with God is that sometimes "agreed upon" values may seem wrong and then you seek a higher authority to discover "the truth." What's interesting is that while there are many different approaches to deciding what is good and what is bad, it is a universal that humans experience things in terms of good and bad. It is interesting to experiment with total relativism because if you pay attention, you will find that you continue constantly searching at some level to label things as either good or bad, maybe even just implicitly so.

Hence the relevance.

I withdraw my use of the terms "Objective" and "Subjective" if they raise any form of contention that takes AWAY from the argument I am actually positing.

Ok, sorry for making such an issue of it. I'm still glad it came up, though, because I think it's important to distinguish between objective, organized/institutionalized subjectivity, and more independent subjectivity.

Edited by lemur
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But when you argue that sometimes our capacity to reach answers by logical inference gives out so we have to rely on some form of structured intuition, I think you go too far if you derive from this the notion that ultimate truth is itself subjective, or that our knowledge must be grounded in some ultimate appeal to inner intuition. Every one who finds that he can go no further with logical inference and objective data would always recognize the superiority of objective logic and objective data as the basis for his inferences if those sources of knowledge were available.

You seem to want to say that when rational reasons give out, the existential need humans then have to appeal to some other source of guidance creates a space for God. But why fill that gap with God rather than just something more mundane and less metaphysical, like educated guessing or coin tossing? There is nothing about the nature of that gap in human logical inference which says how it has to be filled.

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But when you argue that sometimes our capacity to reach answers by logical inference gives out so we have to rely on some form of structured intuition, I think you go too far if you derive from this the notion that ultimate truth is itself subjective, or that our knowledge must be grounded in some ultimate appeal to inner intuition. Every one who finds that he can go no further with logical inference and objective data would always recognize the superiority of objective logic and objective data as the basis for his inferences if those sources of knowledge were available.

You seem to want to say that when rational reasons give out, the existential need humans then have to appeal to some other source of guidance creates a space for God. But why fill that gap with God rather than just something more mundane and less metaphysical, like educated guessing or coin tossing? There is nothing about the nature of that gap in human logical inference which says how it has to be filled.

examples:

Q:"should I have another child?" A: a) coin toss b) educated guess c) seek advise of a wise person and accept and act on it without reflecting on it d) seeking "divine inspiration/revelation" about which advice or educated guess makes you feel the best, like you at least had complete confidence/faith in your choice at the moment you made it, regardless of what may happen later on to change your perspective.

I keep trying to explain that God can be viewed as just another method of coming to the best possible decision at a given moment in a given situation. It just happens to be the method that follows all other methods, since it is the principle that all authority-interactions end in an ultimate moment of decision-making. The question is whose authority that ultimate decision to accept, reject, and/or modify consulted-authorities is. According to theology, God gave people the ability to choose their own actions, so they are always ultimately the ones who choose what to do. However, they have the choice to listen to what others suggest, listen to what they selfishly want, or they can seek a higher authority that wants the best for everyone involved, including themselves. This is all I think it means to "consult the will of God," i.e. seek a will/interest that goes beyond yourself or any other authority you've consulted.

You don't have to view it as mutually exclusive of rational forms of authority. E.g. let's say you weigh yourself on a scale. You may think you have used an objective instrument to provide objective data, but what do you call the faith that you have in all the possible discrepancies that could be caused by instrument malfuction, you making a mistake reading the display, etc.? You could say that you have faith in your own authority to use and read the scale correctly at that moment, which could also be called faith in God. You could even attribute the whole ability of science to pursue and reveal truth to be divine, in the sense that God is personified as the ability to distinguish between light and darkness and, thus, metaphorically truth and falsity. These things all start sounding lofty when discussed like this, but you could also just see "God" as a very old logic used to describe things in terms of distinctions between good/bad, clarity/obfuscation, light/darkness, truth/falsity, faith/doubt, sincerity/deceit, etc. etc.

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examples:

Q:"should I have another child?" A: a) coin toss b) educated guess c) seek advise of a wise person and accept and act on it without reflecting on it d) seeking "divine inspiration/revelation" about which advice or educated guess makes you feel the best, like you at least had complete confidence/faith in your choice at the moment you made it, regardless of what may happen later on to change your perspective.

e) analyze my personal situation and make judgment as to whether or not I should/can/may have that child

There are more than just the options you think of, lemur. The point is that while it might seem reasonable for a religious individual that option "D" is in the same level as the other options, some people don't believe that at all. In fact, I *personally* would put option D at the very bottom of preferred courses of action, even UNDER a coin toss, since if I want it to be random, at least I know a coin toss would be. I have no way to evaluate what "divine inspiration" is, however.

That is me personally, sure, but there are others like me, and I think you seem to miss this perspective when you define courses of action. If I do not believe a divine being exists, then divine inspiration is less logical for me than a coin toss. I know coins exist, and I know they can be tossed.

See my point?

~mooey

I keep trying to explain that God can be viewed as just another method of coming to the best possible decision at a given moment in a given situation.

Then why should anyone take that position at all? I mean, if it is equal to picking any other method of coming to the best possible decision, then the only other factor we have here is reliability, no?

For a coin toss to produce your desired result you have 50% reliability.

for you to claim that trusting in a divine being is better than the above odds you first need to prove the divine being exists (since coins do, for sure) and then that the divine deity has a better reliability result.

But you claimed (and I agree) that a divine being depends on faith, not real scientific proof, right? So... how is it an equal method to things that are at the very least real, and other methods that (consulting doctors, for instance, professionals, doing your research, trusting the scientific method etc) that have HIGH odds of success.

I don't see how the comparison between God (outside reality) and reality-based methods stands at all.

~moo

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e) analyze my personal situation and make judgment as to whether or not I should/can/may have that child

There are more than just the options you think of, lemur. The point is that while it might seem reasonable for a religious individual that option "D" is in the same level as the other options, some people don't believe that at all. In fact, I *personally* would put option D at the very bottom of preferred courses of action, even UNDER a coin toss, since if I want it to be random, at least I know a coin toss would be. I have no way to evaluate what "divine inspiration" is, however.

Doesn't option (e) constitute an educated guess (option b), given that the factors which determine whether a child is ultimately in your best interest are largely unknowable? (e.g. whether the child will decide to murder you at age 17, whether you will enjoy the companionship of your child, etc.)

Then why should anyone take that position at all? I mean, if it is equal to picking any other method of coming to the best possible decision, then the only other factor we have here is reliability, no?

Right, and divine revelation comes from a higher authority with greater predictive and explanatory power than your own. Presumably. Likewise, we could defer our judgments to some designated expert in the relevant field, but God is an expert in everything.

I don't see how the comparison between God (outside reality) and reality-based methods stands at all.

I don't know if this is a question of which is better, or a question of what reasoning theists use to justify their system, regardless of its final effectiveness. I think lemur is just presenting the reasoning, rather than seeking to prove it effective.

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e) analyze my personal situation and make judgment as to whether or not I should/can/may have that child

That's not a mutually exclusive answer-choice because it leaves the question of whose authority on what basis is used to analyze, judge, make a decision, and execute that decision. Some people falter when they recognize the absolute authority as their own, because they seek to ground their decisions in some source external to themselves. The idea of God serves the purpose of exercising ultimate authority without deferring to anyone else or one's own ego. The idea of "God" is really just people exercising their own authority, but it lets them do so without making it about their ego.

There are more than just the options you think of, lemur. The point is that while it might seem reasonable for a religious individual that option "D" is in the same level as the other options, some people don't believe that at all. In fact, I *personally* would put option D at the very bottom of preferred courses of action, even UNDER a coin toss, since if I want it to be random, at least I know a coin toss would be. I have no way to evaluate what "divine inspiration" is, however.

Ok. That just supports my point that people use "God" to transcend doubt. You also wish to transcend doubt, it seems, but you don't have faith in "divine revelation through Holy Spirit" because you would attribute whatever came to you as emanating from your human self, which you view as inherently flawed (because subjective?) and thus an objectively random coin-toss would offer more hope to you than a decision made in good faith that your subjectivity was capable of leading you in the right direction.

That is me personally, sure, but there are others like me, and I think you seem to miss this perspective when you define courses of action. If I do not believe a divine being exists, then divine inspiration is less logical for me than a coin toss. I know coins exist, and I know they can be tossed.

Yes, that is exactly what I'm trying to point out by explaining God as a subjective process. "God" only exists/works when you believe in good faith, and when you don't, it disappears because there's nothing objective or material about the existence of divinity. People who expect "God" to exist objectively beyond their subjectivity/spirit lose faith when they see that the material things (like miracles) attributed to God can be explained away. There's no objective proof for God. If there was, faith wouldn't be required. God is just a method of using subjective/spiritual power to aid in life decisions and actions. It works for you when you invest in it with faith and it doesn't when you dismiss it out of doubt.

See my point?

I think so. You're just trying to prove that many people don't want to utilize the subjective-technology of "God" so they choose other paths. Do you see mine that "God" is just one possible subjective-technology among others, not a (dis)provable objective being that exists independently of spirit?

Then why should anyone take that position at all? I mean, if it is equal to picking any other method of coming to the best possible decision, then the only other factor we have here is reliability, no?

The whole point of faith is that you can't objectively measure it as being (un)equal to anything else, except by experience. If your experience with use fails you, then it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't. You can't step outside of the process to measure it objectively.

For a coin toss to produce your desired result you have 50% reliability.

Which means 50% doubt if you're objective about it. "God" allows people to overcome doubt, for better or worse.

for you to claim that trusting in a divine being is better than the above odds you first need to prove the divine being exists (since coins do, for sure) and then that the divine deity has a better reliability result.

The existence of God beyond subjectivity is irrelevant to whether the technique functions well for people at the subjective level. At best you could say that if people lose faith in God's existence, it would impair their ability to exercise faith. You, however, are focussed on objective certainty. Theology doesn't give you that. "God" doesn't increase your odds of winning; it's just that you feel more assured in your decision-making process because you have faith that the steps you take are good. It's like doing an experiment and having faith that the steps you are taking will produce valid results instead of worrying the whole time that you're screwing up the parameters and your results are going to be tainted as a result.

But you claimed (and I agree) that a divine being depends on faith, not real scientific proof, right? So... how is it an equal method to things that are at the very least real, and other methods that (consulting doctors, for instance, professionals, doing your research, trusting the scientific method etc) that have HIGH odds of success.

I would say that you're ability to have faith in the fact that things are real in the first place comes from divine revelation. There is no objective proof that anything is real or that you're not hallucinating everything you perceive, or that reality itself isn't an illusion. But the fact that you have clarity in distinguishing between reality and illusion is similar to Moses' claim that God separates light from darkness and recognizes light as good. You are basically replicating this by distinguishing reality from illusion and recognizing reality as good. It's just simple philosophical logic that happened to be expressed 1000s of years ago by a guy who lived near Egypt; and he used "God" as a way of indicating that the logic went beyond himself, his ego, or any other human authority - i.e. that it was super-human authority. Wouldn't you too say that reality is distinguished from illusion by an authority above that of any human?

Doesn't option (e) constitute an educated guess (option b), given that the factors which determine whether a child is ultimately in your best interest are largely unknowable? (e.g. whether the child will decide to murder you at age 17, whether you will enjoy the companionship of your child, etc.)

Right, and divine revelation comes from a higher authority with greater predictive and explanatory power than your own. Presumably. Likewise, we could defer our judgments to some designated expert in the relevant field, but God is an expert in everything.

I don't know if this is a question of which is better, or a question of what reasoning theists use to justify their system, regardless of its final effectiveness. I think lemur is just presenting the reasoning, rather than seeking to prove it effective.

Yes, you get me exactly. Thanks for pointing this out since I think people get upset at me thinking I'm trying to convert them to something.

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Doesn't option (e) constitute an educated guess (option b), given that the factors which determine whether a child is ultimately in your best interest are largely unknowable? (e.g. whether the child will decide to murder you at age 17, whether you will enjoy the companionship of your child, etc.)

I wouldn't define that as educated guess. If you go and do research and decide to count on proven methods to make your decision, how is it an educated guess? If it is, then can't that be said about *ALL* of science?

Right, and divine revelation comes from a higher authority with greater predictive and explanatory power than your own. Presumably. Likewise, we could defer our judgments to some designated expert in the relevant field, but God is an expert in everything.

Yes, but the difference between an expert and God is (a) that we have substantiated proof about the expert's track record (or we should, otherwise the reason to choose said expert should be a resounding NO), and (b) we also have an idea of why we consider the person an expert -- he studied something/somewhere etc.

Not to mention that an expert decisively physically exists, while God requires that its existence is outside of reality.

That on its own should give the expert an advantage on decisions that relate to reality, no? *and* be more trustworthy.

I don't know if this is a question of which is better, or a question of what reasoning theists use to justify their system, regardless of its final effectiveness. I think lemur is just presenting the reasoning, rather than seeking to prove it effective.

I see the reasoning, but I don't understand its logic... I was trying to point out that the (a)/(b)/© that lemur gave are *not* equivalent to his "God" choice, like he *seems* to present it (I might be misunderstanding).

~mooey

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I wouldn't define that as educated guess. If you go and do research and decide to count on proven methods to make your decision, how is it an educated guess? If it is, then can't that be said about *ALL* of science?

It's an educated guess because you cannot know the outcome with certainty. As Hume pointed out, there's no logical reason that what we've observed to happen before should continue to happen in the future.

Yes, but the difference between an expert and God is (a) that we have substantiated proof about the expert's track record (or we should, otherwise the reason to choose said expert should be a resounding NO), and (b) we also have an idea of why we consider the person an expert -- he studied something/somewhere etc.

Not to mention that an expert decisively physically exists, while God requires that its existence is outside of reality.

That on its own should give the expert an advantage on decisions that relate to reality, no? *and* be more trustworthy.

Presumably, yes.

I see the reasoning, but I don't understand its logic... I was trying to point out that the (a)/(b)/© that lemur gave are *not* equivalent to his "God" choice, like he *seems* to present it (I might be misunderstanding).

I don't think he intended for them to be equally desirable choices.

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