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Discussion for Christian perspectives on ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, and so forth.
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#16

Post by August » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:43 am

Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

//www.omnipotentgrace.org
//christianskepticism.blogspot.com

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#17

Post by identity_in_development » Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:45 pm

Ok.

You all have given me a lot to think about in terms of putting words to my thoughts and beliefs — coherently nonetheless. That's the problem with having everything in your head and nothing written down.

And admittedly, I started writing everything down to answer all the questions here, but because of how much there is to cover, and due to wanting to be thorough, I figure I might as well just write a book for you. . . but naturally that isn't convenient for discussion.

So that got me thinking about how truly important the Bible is for the Christian faith and how inseparable and indivisible the Bible, God, and Biblical morality are from one another. . . that having something WRITTEN is one of the most important aspects of a coherent belief system. Hence, every current and major religion has its own guiding text, making dispersal of the beliefs convenient for believers and potential inductee's.

So at the very least, I think we should conclude this discussion with two items:

1) The mutual understanding that, for the most part, we do what is right for our own selves (call it inherent narcissism if you will) and that this hinges around a single concept: our perception of the spiritual world. However, our perception of the spiritual world hinges around other concepts as well. Example: You believe in life after death; that living a good life here will result in a good life later and that in order to live a good life here the Bible is essential. Additionally, you place full confidence in the Bible for giving you the instructions for this good life.

Here is where I differ — and it's a bit of a reverse process than you guys: I don't have full confidence in the Bible, which makes me question the reality of an after life - which thus makes me look at other options than using the Bible as guide for my life and changes my perception of the spiritual world.

I think this is where August's question of, “On what basis do I propose to criticize Christianity?”, comes in. I've learned a lot, some of which I don't have confidence in, some I do, that makes me question the New Testament almost specifically. I've come up with ways for dealing with the dissonance involved, but the way I've removed the dissonance (usually between two choices, known as Cognitive Dissonance: to ignore the dissonant belief or change beliefs) is to change beliefs. For you as Christians, you choose to ignore dissonant beliefs. . . now, this is where people may start getting anxious, but I'll propose something that may help mediate the anxiety: That either method is useful depending on the situation. Unfortunately, either option with this creates a difference in how we perceive each other, which can often trap our thinking in a place it shouldn't be: Most likely, I'm perceived as lost, confused, and immoral, while I perceive you as closed-minded, ignorant, and uneducated. Neither are helpful for understanding each other and giving the other the benefit of doubt in our natural instinct to do what is right for ourselves.
2) That I won't be bothering this forum after we discuss this issue. I suppose we both understand that we can't really be efficacious in arguing for our view points with those opposing us, but then of course, we both know something happens with the person we're talking to that makes it possible. . . otherwise Christians wouldn't try recruiting people to Christianity, and somewhere along the line in my life, something or someone helped me decide to change from being a Christian. So essentially, I need to stop spending my time presuming I can efficacious in my responses — and that starts by leaving the forum.


I would like to finish by answering August's questions:

“How do you know what is right and wrong? Where did it come from?...”

Essentially, I've come to understand that right and wrong are not nebulous ideas or concepts. Every person develops his or her sense of right wrong, and good and bad from multiple and dynamic factors including societal and cultural beliefs, beliefs passed down by parents, beliefs incorporated by ones self, and all of these are dependant on a child's ability while growing up to empathize with other people (see and understand hurt and pain, and be able to feel that pain by seeing other people) through their emotions, and connect pain with negative connotations. That would be a biopsychosocial perspective and part of the whole, for what I leads me to my sense of right and wrong. A guiding principle that I have is, at first glance, utilitarian (highest good for the most people outweighs the negatives involved), and there is a component of utilitarianism, but there is more to it. And this surrounds a few other guiding principles, including:

1) Avoid things which have a destructive nature.

This includes A LOT and corresponds quite well with most of Christian beliefs. However, it's a more consistent position since other options need to be considered when confronting war (sometimes completely necessary, yet destructive and avoidable nonetheless), abortion (destructive to the potential life (I have an issue with the concept of potentiality however), yet necessary under certain conditions (rape or incest). Naturally there's more to consider), lying (to deceive; can destroy trust, relationships, and ones self), -ism's (racism, sexism, ageism… whatever else, can damage a society.); basically, it's a complex idea when delved into, and honestly, I know there's exceptions — and this is where utilitarianism comes in (the greatest good: research on rats to help humans or research on Petri dish embryos, the size of a pin tip, to help humans, or killing aggressors to help a country in need(Sudan). This can flip depending on the position taken — we, as Americans, can be seen as aggressors in Iraq — not something we like to think about). But it's the acknowledgement of these exceptions that increase the consistency within a philosophy, and this is where I feel Christianity lacks.

2) Pro-Human flourishing.

Self explanatory; kind of. . . but not at the expense of destroying future generations' chance at a good life (again potentiality, but something to consider nonetheless). Birth control does not play into this because the concern is not with the potential child that COULD be created every time two people have sex, the concern is with humans in the here and now, within of course, the context of avoiding destructive actions.


How does that apply to the truth value or not of Christianity?

Essentially they coincide, but it takes a bit more conceptualizing and consequence theorizing than with reading your values out of a good book, as with Christianity. Also, my philosophy has little to no theological connotations, which takes out a huge chunk related to “do this or you'll go to hell” and places much more emphasis on individual agency, maintaining a healthy perception of ones locus of control, self-efficacy, and so on. This approach is not favored by most Christians because of a lack in the “cause and effect” approach, and it isolates us from influences outside of our control.

In my attempt to seek common ground, I allow for the possibility of things outside of my perceivable senses, and that I don't, in fact, have all the answers, and that certain things cannot be positively or negatively proven. So I allow the possibility for a God or gods and thus, I am a theist; I am NOT an atheist. But I might as well be, because I don't think God has any direct influence on our lives (and my thinking related to that is too in depth for me to write out). Additionally, the reason I say gods is due the fact that culturally, Christianity and Islam are the only to major religions to belief in one God — every other religion believes in multiple gods and, with my thinking based on principle, I cannot say that one I more right the other because that would be a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven by logical analysis. Likewise, I cannot say that Jesus was the only son of God because that claim is a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven, similar to Greek and Roman claims that gods and demigods (sons of gods) were important to their culture. I cannot assert that one is more correct than the other, so I either except both or refute both. And in my attempt to be accommodating, I accept both with the understanding that, as myth or as fact, no one REALLY knows. (It is indeed a quandary, but it's explained through cognitive dissonance quite well.)

I have plenty more to explain, but I think I'll be losing some readers the longer I go.

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#18

Post by Birdie » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:21 pm

August wrote:Birdie, no-one is pestering anyone.

IID has been coming here for a while now spouting off on how damaging Christianity is, and acting as if he/she has some special insights that proves that.. Should we just let him/her assert that and be done with it? Sorry my friend, if someone makes judgments on Christians and Chrisitianity, they must be prepared to explain it.

If you don't like it, then don't read it.
Yes, to me it only seemed pestering because maybe you could start more of a conversation if you anwser your own questions to him/her.
Judah wrote:And Birdie, get yourself over to a nicer part of town and tune in too.


Lol, more like state. My parents made me move to where I am now... :(
"Hope is the thing with feathers"

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#19

Post by Byblos » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:16 am

Birdie wrote:... maybe you could start more of a conversation if you anwser your own questions to him/her.
Birdie,

He did answer them.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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#20

Post by Turgonian » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:59 am

identity_in_development wrote:1) The mutual understanding that, for the most part, we do what is right for our own selves (call it inherent narcissism if you will) and that this hinges around a single concept: our perception of the spiritual world.
Some people risked their lives to save others. Jesus willingly gave His life to save others. Christianity recognizes the 'inherent narcissism' in man and denounces it.
identity_in_development wrote:I think this is where August's question of, “On what basis do I propose to criticize Christianity?”, comes in. I've learned a lot, some of which I don't have confidence in, some I do, that makes me question the New Testament almost specifically. I've come up with ways for dealing with the dissonance involved, but the way I've removed the dissonance (usually between two choices, known as Cognitive Dissonance: to ignore the dissonant belief or change beliefs) is to change beliefs. For you as Christians, you choose to ignore dissonant beliefs. . . now, this is where people may start getting anxious, but I'll propose something that may help mediate the anxiety: That either method is useful depending on the situation.
Oh yeah. We're stupid, we choose to remain stupid, but we need stupid people on the planet.
However, doubts about the New Testament do not prove the NT untrue. You might want to take a look at Holding's articles (whichever interests you the most -- you did not specify your doubts):
The Canon of the NT -- how was it formed?
The Text of the New Testament -- how sure are we that we have it accurately represented?
The Gospels: Dates and Authorship -- who wrote what, when -- and what happens when you use the same criteria used to date secular documents?
Q/Marcan Priority Series -- untangling theories of literary dependence
Harmonization Series -- Principles and applications for harmonizing the Gospel accounts
And a must-read:
The Impossible Faith -- offers 17 reasons why Christianity could not have survived in the ancient world unless it had indisputable evidence of the resurrection of Jesus.

As a Christian, you really need not suffer from cognitive dissonance.
identity_in_development wrote:Essentially, I've come to understand that right and wrong are not nebulous ideas or concepts. Every person develops his or her sense of right wrong, and good and bad from multiple and dynamic factors including societal and cultural beliefs, beliefs passed down by parents, beliefs incorporated by ones self, and all of these are dependant on a child's ability while growing up to empathize with other people (see and understand hurt and pain, and be able to feel that pain by seeing other people) through their emotions, and connect pain with negative connotations. That would be a biopsychosocial perspective and part of the whole, for what I leads me to my sense of right and wrong.
Translation: 'nebulous ideas or concepts'. If everyone decides what is right or wrong for himself, no objective right or wrong exists. Right and wrong are not discovered, but subjectively created. Which means right and wrong don't exist objectively.
And when people start saying, 'There is no good and evil,' sooner or later (most of the time sooner) a Voldemort will arise finishing the sentence: 'There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.'
identity_in_development wrote:A guiding principle that I have is, at first glance, utilitarian (highest good for the most people outweighs the negatives involved), and there is a component of utilitarianism, but there is more to it. And this surrounds a few other guiding principles, including...
You still haven't explained why you say what you say. Why is harming people wrong?
identity_in_development wrote:This includes A LOT and corresponds quite well with most of Christian beliefs. However, it's a more consistent position...
I doubt it.
identity_in_development wrote:...since other options need to be considered when confronting war (sometimes completely necessary, yet destructive and avoidable nonetheless)...
Nothing new. The concept of the 'just war' dates back to early Christianity.
identity_in_development wrote:...abortion (destructive to the potential life (I have an issue with the concept of potentiality however), yet necessary under certain conditions (rape or incest).
How is it 'necessary'? Some people who have been raped have chosen to keep the child -- and found great joy through it!
And life is life, not potential life.
identity_in_development wrote:2) Pro-Human flourishing.

Self explanatory; kind of. . . but not at the expense of destroying future generations' chance at a good life (again potentiality, but something to consider nonetheless). Birth control does not play into this because the concern is not with the potential child that COULD be created every time two people have sex, the concern is with humans in the here and now, within of course, the context of avoiding destructive actions.
If you don't think birth control destroys persons (link), you haven't thought it through -- which is what you accuse us of doing where the Bible is concerned. Hmm.
identity_in_development wrote:How does that apply to the truth value or not of Christianity?

Essentially they coincide...
They do not at all coincide. The truth (and hence, truth value) of Christianity depends on the truth of Christ's atoning sacrifice. If that is untrue, Christianity is untrue. If it is true, Christianity is. 'Not really true but a little bit true because it has some nice ideas' is simply 'not true'.
identity_in_development wrote:Also, my philosophy has little to no theological connotations, which takes out a huge chunk related to “do this or you'll go to hell” and places much more emphasis on individual agency, maintaining a healthy perception of ones locus of control, self-efficacy, and so on.
Nearly all wise men throughout history have recognized that there is something destructive in humanity -- something that tends toward the irrational, and which cannot be rooted out by human means. That's why Communist Russia failed.
identity_in_development wrote:In my attempt to seek common ground, I allow for the possibility of things outside of my perceivable senses, and that I don't, in fact, have all the answers, and that certain things cannot be positively or negatively proven. So I allow the possibility for a God or gods and thus, I am a theist; I am NOT an atheist.
You're not a theist; they call the 'no clue' position agnosticism.
identity_in_development wrote:Additionally, the reason I say gods is due the fact that culturally, Christianity and Islam are the only to major religions to belief in one God — every other religion believes in multiple gods and, with my thinking based on principle, I cannot say that one I more right the other because that would be a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven by logical analysis.
You'd make a bad judge... In the judicial system, we don't logically analyze. We look at what explanation is most plausible. So the question rests on: who was Jesus? Was He who He claimed to be? Or is another explanation more plausible?
If the Resurrection is true, Jesus's claims are true. All of them. What, do you think, lies behind the account of the Resurrection? Or do you think the texts were corrupted?
identity_in_development wrote:Likewise, I cannot say that Jesus was the only son of God because that claim is a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven, similar to Greek and Roman claims that gods and demigods (sons of gods) were important to their culture. I cannot assert that one is more correct than the other, so I either except both or refute both.
'All four of you have been accused of murdering young Benny. Did all four of you do it, or no one at all?'
The claim can be proven quite easily. Just look at the most plausible explanation for the NT...
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#21

Post by identity_in_development » Thu Dec 07, 2006 12:51 pm

[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]1) The mutual understanding that, for the most part, we do what is right for our own selves (call it inherent narcissism if you will) and that this hinges around a single concept: our perception of the spiritual world.[/quote]
Some people risked their lives to save others. Jesus willingly gave His life to save others. Christianity recognizes the 'inherent narcissism' in man and denounces it.[/quote]

What your refering to is altruism, which can be prevelant in certian relationships (mother/child for example). But in most everyday life, we are not altruistic, we do what is best for ourselves in most situations. As in most cases, the existance of one does not exclude the existance of the other. But dominance among our choices does exist - regardless of our exellent historical examples to the contrary.


[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]I think this is where August's question of, “On what basis do I propose to criticize Christianity?”, comes in. I've learned a lot, some of which I don't have confidence in, some I do, that makes me question the New Testament almost specifically. I've come up with ways for dealing with the dissonance involved, but the way I've removed the dissonance (usually between two choices, known as Cognitive Dissonance: to ignore the dissonant belief or change beliefs) is to change beliefs. For you as Christians, you choose to ignore dissonant beliefs. . . now, this is where people may start getting anxious, but I'll propose something that may help mediate the anxiety: That either method is useful depending on the situation.[/quote]

Oh yeah. We're stupid, we choose to remain stupid, but we need stupid people on the planet.... However, doubts about the New Testament do not prove the NT untrue. As a Christian, you really need not suffer from cognitive dissonance.[/quote]

You don't understand cognitive dissonance. We live with this everyday and every choice we make is surrounded around our current knowledge at the time of the decision and new knowledge we gain, we then either adapt new knowledge to fit our paradig or ignore the new knowledge because it counters our paradigm - there are only negative connotations to this when the information ignored is potentially helpful, and by ignoring the information, the person continues to harm him or herself. Take cigarette smoking as an example of this; A current smoker is presented with new information about how smoking damages their lungs, either the smoker ignore that information and downplay its significance or adapt the information and stop smoking. I don't make assumptions about a person intelligence unless they give me a reason to.


[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]Essentially, I've come to understand that right and wrong are not nebulous ideas or concepts. Every person develops his or her sense of right wrong, and good and bad from multiple and dynamic factors including societal and cultural beliefs, beliefs passed down by parents, beliefs incorporated by ones self, and all of these are dependant on a child's ability while growing up to empathize with other people (see and understand hurt and pain, and be able to feel that pain by seeing other people) through their emotions, and connect pain with negative connotations. That would be a biopsychosocial perspective and part of the whole, for what I leads me to my sense of right and wrong.[/quote]

Translation: 'nebulous ideas or concepts'. If everyone decides what is right or wrong for himself, no objective right or wrong exists. Right and wrong are not discovered, but subjectively created. Which means right and wrong don't exist objectively.
And when people start saying, 'There is no good and evil,' sooner or later (most of the time sooner) a Voldemort will arise finishing the sentence: 'There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.'
[/quote]

Later on in my "essay" I suggest that there is an objective wrong - that things of a destructive nature are "wrong". There is, however, also a subjective "wrong," influenced by culture, family, and individual experience. I'm not a support of cultural relativism, but there is a component - to a degree - that right and wrong are dependant on which side of the fence you're on. I agree that having no direct mandate "from heaven" can be confusing - but as I said, my philosophy emphasizes individual agency or faculty (taking responsibility, taking an active role), self-efficacy (the perception of ones ability to produce a desired effect) and many more - which are not emphasized to the degree that I would emphasize it. Christianity does have a verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," but the logical assumption to follow is that " I can't do anything by myself - I need Christ for everything." Which is maladaptive.


[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]A guiding principle that I have is, at first glance, utilitarian (highest good for the most people outweighs the negatives involved), and there is a component of utilitarianism, but there is more to it. And this surrounds a few other guiding principles, including...[/quote]

You still haven't explained [i]why[/i] you say what you say. Why is harming people wrong?[/quote]

Yeah, I guess you're right. . . I somehow managed to skip that. Well, right now I need to put more thought into that since my explanation needs to exclude circular argument.


[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]This includes A LOT and corresponds quite well with most of Christian beliefs. However, it's a more consistent position...[/quote]
I doubt it.
[/quote]

Dissonance. Doubt all you like. . .

Sorry. . . consider the end result of "avoiding destructive action's", how is that different than what is proposed in the Bible? (Besides of course the obvious spiritual and hell-sentencing ramifications) But really, how do you get people to do something without offering an "ultimate" punishment?

[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]...since other options need to be considered when confronting war (sometimes completely necessary, yet destructive and avoidable nonetheless)...[/quote]
Nothing new. The concept of the 'just war' dates back to early Christianity.[/quote]

Dates back earlier than that. But my argument that "just" is usually subjective (personal mindsets and experience) and rarely objective (no emotions or prejudices). An exception I know personally of objective justice is that of military justice - it's very mechanical and hardly considers mediating factors. If you were late, it didn't matter why, you were to punished. Depending on your attitude (the subjective part) and how much repsonsibility you took for it, would influence the degree of you punishment - sometimes.

Not a great justice system, I think.

But the main point of what I was trying to say is that justice does depend of which side of the justice you're on. . .

[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]...abortion (destructive to the potential life (I have an issue with the concept of potentiality however), yet necessary under certain conditions (rape or incest).[/quote]

How is it 'necessary'? Some people who have been raped have chosen to keep the child -- and found great joy through it!
And life is life, not potential life.[/quote]

Give me a story of a woman who has been raped and thoroughly enjoys her child.

Mmmm. . . if we could talk in person I'd tear that comment about "potential life being just as real" up. . . lucky you.


[quote="Turgonian"][quote="identity_in_development"]2) Pro-Human flourishing.

Self explanatory; kind of. . . but not at the expense of destroying future generations' chance at a good life (again potentiality, but something to consider nonetheless). Birth control does not play into this because the concern is not with the potential child that COULD be created every time two people have sex, the concern is with humans in the here and now, within of course, the context of avoiding destructive actions.[/quote]

If you don't think birth control destroys [url=http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/135]persons[/url] (link), you haven't thought it through -- which is what you accuse us of doing where the Bible is concerned. Hmm. [/quote]

I have thought it through quite thoroughly - I don't time here and you wouldn't agree anyway.


Out of Time. . . I'll get to the rest later.

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#22

Post by identity_in_development » Thu Dec 07, 2006 12:52 pm

How do you do the little Quoty thingy? What am I doing wrong?

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#23

Post by Byblos » Thu Dec 07, 2006 1:23 pm

identity_in_development wrote:How do you do the little Quoty thingy? What am I doing wrong?
You didn't do anything wrong. For some reason that post was corrupted (no pun intended :wink:). I quoted it and reposted it as is here so it's a little clearer (again, no pu... oh never mind :roll:).
identity_in_development wrote:
Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:1) The mutual understanding that, for the most part, we do what is right for our own selves (call it inherent narcissism if you will) and that this hinges around a single concept: our perception of the spiritual world.
Some people risked their lives to save others. Jesus willingly gave His life to save others. Christianity recognizes the 'inherent narcissism' in man and denounces it.
What your refering to is altruism, which can be prevelant in certian relationships (mother/child for example). But in most everyday life, we are not altruistic, we do what is best for ourselves in most situations. As in most cases, the existance of one does not exclude the existance of the other. But dominance among our choices does exist - regardless of our exellent historical examples to the contrary.

Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:I think this is where August's question of, “On what basis do I propose to criticize Christianity?”, comes in. I've learned a lot, some of which I don't have confidence in, some I do, that makes me question the New Testament almost specifically. I've come up with ways for dealing with the dissonance involved, but the way I've removed the dissonance (usually between two choices, known as Cognitive Dissonance: to ignore the dissonant belief or change beliefs) is to change beliefs. For you as Christians, you choose to ignore dissonant beliefs. . . now, this is where people may start getting anxious, but I'll propose something that may help mediate the anxiety: That either method is useful depending on the situation.
Oh yeah. We're stupid, we choose to remain stupid, but we need stupid people on the planet.... However, doubts about the New Testament do not prove the NT untrue. As a Christian, you really need not suffer from cognitive dissonance.
You don't understand cognitive dissonance. We live with this everyday and every choice we make is surrounded around our current knowledge at the time of the decision and new knowledge we gain, we then either adapt new knowledge to fit our paradig or ignore the new knowledge because it counters our paradigm - there are only negative connotations to this when the information ignored is potentially helpful, and by ignoring the information, the person continues to harm him or herself. Take cigarette smoking as an example of this; A current smoker is presented with new information about how smoking damages their lungs, either the smoker ignore that information and downplay its significance or adapt the information and stop smoking. I don't make assumptions about a person intelligence unless they give me a reason to.

Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:Essentially, I've come to understand that right and wrong are not nebulous ideas or concepts. Every person develops his or her sense of right wrong, and good and bad from multiple and dynamic factors including societal and cultural beliefs, beliefs passed down by parents, beliefs incorporated by ones self, and all of these are dependant on a child's ability while growing up to empathize with other people (see and understand hurt and pain, and be able to feel that pain by seeing other people) through their emotions, and connect pain with negative connotations. That would be a biopsychosocial perspective and part of the whole, for what I leads me to my sense of right and wrong.
Translation: 'nebulous ideas or concepts'. If everyone decides what is right or wrong for himself, no objective right or wrong exists. Right and wrong are not discovered, but subjectively created. Which means right and wrong don't exist objectively.
And when people start saying, 'There is no good and evil,' sooner or later (most of the time sooner) a Voldemort will arise finishing the sentence: 'There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.'
Later on in my "essay" I suggest that there is an objective wrong - that things of a destructive nature are "wrong". There is, however, also a subjective "wrong," influenced by culture, family, and individual experience. I'm not a support of cultural relativism, but there is a component - to a degree - that right and wrong are dependant on which side of the fence you're on. I agree that having no direct mandate "from heaven" can be confusing - but as I said, my philosophy emphasizes individual agency or faculty (taking responsibility, taking an active role), self-efficacy (the perception of ones ability to produce a desired effect) and many more - which are not emphasized to the degree that I would emphasize it. Christianity does have a verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," but the logical assumption to follow is that " I can't do anything by myself - I need Christ for everything." Which is maladaptive.

Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:A guiding principle that I have is, at first glance, utilitarian (highest good for the most people outweighs the negatives involved), and there is a component of utilitarianism, but there is more to it. And this surrounds a few other guiding principles, including...
You still haven't explained why you say what you say. Why is harming people wrong?
Yeah, I guess you're right. . . I somehow managed to skip that. Well, right now I need to put more thought into that since my explanation needs to exclude circular argument.

Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:This includes A LOT and corresponds quite well with most of Christian beliefs. However, it's a more consistent position...
I doubt it.
Dissonance. Doubt all you like. . .

Sorry. . . consider the end result of "avoiding destructive action's", how is that different than what is proposed in the Bible? (Besides of course the obvious spiritual and hell-sentencing ramifications) But really, how do you get people to do something without offering an "ultimate" punishment?
Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:...since other options need to be considered when confronting war (sometimes completely necessary, yet destructive and avoidable nonetheless)...
Nothing new. The concept of the 'just war' dates back to early Christianity.
Dates back earlier than that. But my argument that "just" is usually subjective (personal mindsets and experience) and rarely objective (no emotions or prejudices). An exception I know personally of objective justice is that of military justice - it's very mechanical and hardly considers mediating factors. If you were late, it didn't matter why, you were to punished. Depending on your attitude (the subjective part) and how much repsonsibility you took for it, would influence the degree of you punishment - sometimes.

Not a great justice system, I think.

But the main point of what I was trying to say is that justice does depend of which side of the justice you're on. . .
Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:...abortion (destructive to the potential life (I have an issue with the concept of potentiality however), yet necessary under certain conditions (rape or incest).
How is it 'necessary'? Some people who have been raped have chosen to keep the child -- and found great joy through it!
And life is life, not potential life.
Give me a story of a woman who has been raped and thoroughly enjoys her child.

Mmmm. . . if we could talk in person I'd tear that comment about "potential life being just as real" up. . . lucky you.

Turgonian wrote:
identity_in_development wrote:2) Pro-Human flourishing.

Self explanatory; kind of. . . but not at the expense of destroying future generations' chance at a good life (again potentiality, but something to consider nonetheless). Birth control does not play into this because the concern is not with the potential child that COULD be created every time two people have sex, the concern is with humans in the here and now, within of course, the context of avoiding destructive actions.
If you don't think birth control destroys persons (link), you haven't thought it through -- which is what you accuse us of doing where the Bible is concerned. Hmm.
I have thought it through quite thoroughly - I don't time here and you wouldn't agree anyway.


Out of Time. . . I'll get to the rest later.
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#24

Post by Turgonian » Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:23 pm

identity_in_development wrote:
Turgonian wrote:Oh yeah. We're stupid, we choose to remain stupid, but we need stupid people on the planet.... However, doubts about the New Testament do not prove the NT untrue. As a Christian, you really need not suffer from cognitive dissonance.
You don't understand cognitive dissonance. We live with this everyday and every choice we make is surrounded around our current knowledge at the time of the decision and new knowledge we gain, we then either adapt new knowledge to fit our paradig or ignore the new knowledge because it counters our paradigm - there are only negative connotations to this when the information ignored is potentially helpful, and by ignoring the information, the person continues to harm him or herself. Take cigarette smoking as an example of this; A current smoker is presented with new information about how smoking damages their lungs, either the smoker ignore that information and downplay its significance or adapt the information and stop smoking. I don't make assumptions about a person intelligence unless they give me a reason to.
Hmm...? You assume that Christianity is so shaky that we have to ignore the contrary data, because otherwise we would be convinced. Well, I'm not so sure of that...
identity_in_development wrote:Later on in my "essay" I suggest that there is an objective wrong - that things of a destructive nature are "wrong".
From ethics to epistemology...how do we know that these things are wrong?
And besides, imprisonment can also be very damaging to a person, even a criminal. What do you say?
identity_in_development wrote:I agree that having no direct mandate "from heaven" can be confusing - but as I said, my philosophy emphasizes individual agency or faculty (taking responsibility, taking an active role), self-efficacy (the perception of ones ability to produce a desired effect) and many more - which are not emphasized to the degree that I would emphasize it.
I hear the echoes of Sartre.
identity_in_development wrote:Christianity does have a verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," but the logical assumption to follow is that " I can't do anything by myself - I need Christ for everything." Which is maladaptive.
Hardly. There are other verses stating that Christ lives in us.
identity_in_development wrote:Yeah, I guess you're right. . . I somehow managed to skip that. Well, right now I need to put more thought into that since my explanation needs to exclude circular argument.
You're honest. ;)
identity_in_development wrote:Sorry. . . consider the end result of "avoiding destructive action's", how is that different than what is proposed in the Bible? (Besides of course the obvious spiritual and hell-sentencing ramifications) But really, how do you get people to do something without offering an "ultimate" punishment?
You seem to be assuming that it is about getting people to do something, rather than giving directions on how to avoid the ultimate punishment...even though Christianity is not a works-based religion.
identity_in_development wrote:But my argument that "just" is usually subjective (personal mindsets and experience) and rarely objective (no emotions or prejudices).
It's impossible to be completely objective, but one can more or less coolly analyze the motives behind a war and check the rules to see whether it's just. Of course, if those rules are merely man-made and have no grounding in eternity, they might change at any man's whim.
identity_in_development wrote:An exception I know personally of objective justice is that of military justice - it's very mechanical and hardly considers mediating factors. If you were late, it didn't matter why, you were to punished. Depending on your attitude (the subjective part) and how much repsonsibility you took for it, would influence the degree of you punishment - sometimes.

Not a great justice system, I think.
No, I don't think so either. That's why ancient laws were didactic and offered a lot of latitude in particular cases.
identity_in_development wrote:Give me a story of a woman who has been raped and thoroughly enjoys her child.
Even if I couldn't, it wouldn't matter because the woman isn't even allowed to murder the rapist, so certainly not the innocent child.
But I can:
I believe that the bravest, strongest person I know is the girl in my college who, every day, cares for and loves the child she gave birth to after rape. I believe that little boy is innocent of his father's crime and did not deserve the death penalty for it. He is blessed to have a mother who sought the support she needed to heal from her wounds and see him for the marvel he is.
And almost 200 female victims of rape and incest have shared their experiences in a book called Victims and Victors.
identity_in_development wrote:Mmmm. . . if we could talk in person I'd tear that comment about "potential life being just as real" up. . . lucky you.
Are you sure? Very well. Tear it up here, if you like written debates.
First statement: From the moment of conception, babies are real life, not 'potential life' (they have 'the four criteria needed to establish biological life: (1) metabolism, (2) growth, (3) reaction to stimuli, and (4) reproduction'; see here). And as they can develop consciousness on their own, given the proper circumstances, they are fully human.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#25

Post by Birdie » Thu Dec 07, 2006 5:22 pm

August wrote:Why don't you give us the basis on which you propose to criticize Christianity? How do you know what is right and wrong? Where did it come from? How do you know that? How does that apply to the truth value or not of Christianity?
August wrote:The answer is that when humans were made in the image of God, they were given moral intuition ability, and by falling to temptation, mankind acquired knowledge of good and evil to go along with the moral intuition. God reveals to us, no, He hard-wires into us what good and evil is.
August wrote: Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Ok, so your answers to your own questions are:

“How do you know what is right and wrong?” We have an encoded knowledge of right in wrong in us.
“Where did it come from?” God.
“How do you know that?” It says that in the Bible.

That right?
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#26

Post by Byblos » Thu Dec 07, 2006 8:18 pm

Birdie wrote:Ok, so your answers to your own questions are:

“How do you know what is right and wrong?” We have an encoded knowledge of right in wrong in us.
“Where did it come from?” God.
“How do you know that?” It says that in the Bible.

That right?


I'm sure August will respond in detail in due time but until then Birdie, do you have a better answer? Where do you think your morals come from and what makes your morals better than your neighbor's? What is the standard by which you measure that and who came up with that standard?
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#27

Post by August » Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:11 am

Hi IID, thanks for the answer. As I pretty much expected, your answer is steeped in relativism and subjectivity, despite your attempts to make it sound as if you have some dispassionate and objective view of this.

Let me add that I don't blame or condemn or think badly of you because of that, after all, in the absence of God that is your only choice.
identity_in_development wrote:So that got me thinking about how truly important the Bible is for the Christian faith and how inseparable and indivisible the Bible, God, and Biblical morality are from one another. . . that having something WRITTEN is one of the most important aspects of a coherent belief system. Hence, every current and major religion has its own guiding text, making dispersal of the beliefs convenient for believers and potential inductee's.
I think you have it mostly right here. However, I want to add that since you seem to want to equate Christianity with "every current and major belief system" to tread carefully. There are profound differences, as I am sure you are aware. I will also add what you didn't.

Pseudo-religions, like naturalism or humanism, have their own sets of written works to disperse their beliefs. You cannot escape the meta-physical in any set of beliefs, it is just a question of which one makes the most sense.
So at the very least, I think we should conclude this discussion with two items:
Ok, let's see.
1) The mutual understanding that, for the most part, we do what is right for our own selves (call it inherent narcissism if you will) and that this hinges around a single concept: our perception of the spiritual world.
1. Sorry, no, that is not a mutual understanding, and it does not hinge around a single concept. We do not mostly do what is right for our own selves. I will agree that we have a strong will to survive. But it is inescapable that we are motivated by relationships. Those relationships are with people that we have an emotional connection to, and those emotional connections mostly override what is best for our own selves. That comes back to morality, and where we get the knowledge from to maintain healthy relationships.

2. Also, that does not hinge on our perception of the spiritual world. If that was a true statement, there couldn't be atheists that have healthy relationships, or do good things, for that matter. But there are, and their perception of the spiritual world is that it does not exist.

3. Freudian-type psychoanalysis dictates "inherent narcissism" as a prime motivator ("libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation"). And that religion is "an illusion to cope with the trauma of self-consciousness". However, those statements in themselves make their own sets of metaphysical assumptions.

4. So while you propose that we accept this, I do not see any logical reasoning for why we should. It is mere assertion, based on metaphysical assumptions that are at best nebulous, to use your words, or at worst, unproven.
However, our perception of the spiritual world hinges around other concepts as well. Example: You believe in life after death; that living a good life here will result in a good life later and that in order to live a good life here the Bible is essential. Additionally, you place full confidence in the Bible for giving you the instructions for this good life.
5. This is circular reasoning. Our "inherent narcissism" depends on our perception of the spiritual world. But our perception of the spiritual world depends on what we think is best for us, "the good life".
Here is where I differ — and it's a bit of a reverse process than you guys: I don't have full confidence in the Bible, which makes me question the reality of an after life - which thus makes me look at other options than using the Bible as guide for my life and changes my perception of the spiritual world.
6. Fair enough. My thinking processes are slightly different to what you described though. The starting point is not the Bible, the starting point is the existence of a personal, omnipotent theistic God. There are many arguments that lead us there apart from the Bible (I can think of about 20, off the top of my head).

7. We have already seen that metaphysical assumptions cannot be avoided. So the question is not whether the metaphysical exists or not, it is:"What metaphysical explanation makes the most sense?" A theistic being does. And after we determine that there must be a single, all-powerful guiding force behind the universe, including self-consciouss human existence, then we evaluate the options.
I think this is where August's question of, “On what basis do I propose to criticize Christianity?”, comes in. I've learned a lot, some of which I don't have confidence in, some I do, that makes me question the New Testament almost specifically. I've come up with ways for dealing with the dissonance involved, but the way I've removed the dissonance (usually between two choices, known as Cognitive Dissonance: to ignore the dissonant belief or change beliefs) is to change beliefs.
Goodness, so much written already, and now we come to my question? :shock:

8. You state that you have learned a lot that makes you question the NT. Yet you don't state what it is that make you disbelieve it, you just state how you choose to deal with it. That does not answer my question. In fact, it does not even come close. All you are saying is that "something happened". I asked for the basis on which you level criticism. What is your underlying logic? What are your axioms, assumptions, premises and conclusions?
For you as Christians, you choose to ignore dissonant beliefs. . .
9. Sorry, this is a baseless assertion. Please prove it. Just because you have found what you perceive to be inconsistencies does not mean that all Christians are irrational or cognitively challenged. Furthermore, this is extreme inductive reasoning, which has little to do with the absolute truth claims of Christianity. In addition, it is based on your circular reasoning from 5. earlier.
now, this is where people may start getting anxious, but I'll propose something that may help mediate the anxiety: That either method is useful depending on the situation. Unfortunately, either option with this creates a difference in how we perceive each other, which can often trap our thinking in a place it shouldn't be
10. No, it is not situational, therefore it is not true that either method is "useful". Your metaphysical assumptions are always present, and has a pervasive effect on your cognitive consistency or dissonance. I will agree with you that it affects how we perceive each other, in fact, I will go one step further and state that it determines how we see the world.
Most likely, I'm perceived as lost, confused, and immoral, while I perceive you as closed-minded, ignorant, and uneducated. Neither are helpful for understanding each other and giving the other the benefit of doubt in our natural instinct to do what is right for ourselves.
Yes, you are a piece of atheist scum! :D

11. Lighten up, you are not perceived like that at all. Your questions, doubts, reasoning and expression are all applicable, and nothing less is to be expected from any thinking human. If people like you did not exist, then religious philosophy would be much poorer, and evangelists will be out of work.

12. You can perceive me any way you like, even if it is as "closed-minded, ignorant, and uneducated". Christians do not claim to be perfect. We recognize our own fallibility, and the little knowledge and wisdom we have is because God chose to share it with us. If you want to argue ad-hominem, that's fine, but it is fallacious unless you can show that I am "closed-minded, ignorant, and uneducated". It's a pretty broad statement seeing as you don't know me.

13. You also re-assert your fallacious reasoning from 5. above. It also seems as if you are committing the naturalistic fallacy here. Even if we do have instincts (BTW, where do instincts come from?), it is fallacious to assert that instincts determine morally appropriate behavior.
2) That I won't be bothering this forum after we discuss this issue. I suppose we both understand that we can't really be efficacious in arguing for our view points with those opposing us, but then of course, we both know something happens with the person we're talking to that makes it possible. . . otherwise Christians wouldn't try recruiting people to Christianity, and somewhere along the line in my life, something or someone helped me decide to change from being a Christian. So essentially, I need to stop spending my time presuming I can efficacious in my responses — and that starts by leaving the forum.
So you are in effect saying you are the close-minded one? :D

14. Only joking, of course. At this point I am yet to see a logical, reasoned answer to any of my questions though. You have given I have also not seen any logically valid counter-arguments to Christianity. If you have them, then show them, but to to assert that we cannot change each others minds is to undermine reasoned discussion. You have changed your mind before, and so have I. The fact that we have gone in different directions should tell you that there is some worth in these types of discussions.
Essentially, I've come to understand that right and wrong are not nebulous ideas or concepts. Every person develops his or her sense of right wrong, and good and bad from multiple and dynamic factors including societal and cultural beliefs, beliefs passed down by parents, beliefs incorporated by ones self, and all of these are dependant on a child's ability while growing up to empathize with other people (see and understand hurt and pain, and be able to feel that pain by seeing other people) through their emotions, and connect pain with negative connotations.
15. Finally, an answer. I have already addressed most of this in my blog post linked above. Suffice to say that if every person have their own concept of right and wrong, then you have no basis on which to adjudge me as "closed-minded, ignorant, and uneducated", apart from your own opinion. Also, you are are morally bancrupt and a bad person, by your own definition, because as a Christian, you have caused me and countless others pain by offending our belief in God. Of course I don't believe that you are those things, but that is logically where your position leads to. You can never disagree with someone without being morally corrupt and a bad person.

16. As a Christian, I see you the same as I see everyone else, we are all wrong before God, and we are all in need of His grace. I am no better or worse than you, and equally corrupt before God.
That would be a biopsychosocial perspective and part of the whole, for what I leads me to my sense of right and wrong. A guiding principle that I have is, at first glance, utilitarian (highest good for the most people outweighs the negatives involved), and there is a component of utilitarianism, but there is more to it.
17. The utilitarian principle does not address the issue in a satisfactory manner. Let me ask you whether this statement can be true or not: "The majority of the people gladly participated in the evil deed". For example, when 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda, the majority seemed to think it was ok. In some societies, it is ok to stone people to death for allegations of witchcraft, and the whole town will turn out and pick up rocks. In their opinion, it is the highest good for the whole society. Is that morally acceptable or not?
And this surrounds a few other guiding principles, including:

1) Avoid things which have a destructive nature. (snip)...But it's the acknowledgement of these exceptions that increase the consistency within a philosophy, and this is where I feel Christianity lacks.
18. Since this already approaching a record length reply, I have shortened the quote. I did read it though. Your answer is a non-answer. You did not answer my question, which is how you came to know that avoiding things of a destructive nature is right or wrong? You have moved sideways here, not forward. In addition, you indicate that Christianity is inconsistent here. By what standard do you make that statement? As we already saw, if it was down to the majority, then you should be a Christian, since the majority of people in the US are Chrisitans, and they think it is what is best for society.
2) Pro-Human flourishing.
19. So you are an advocate of eugenics. That is what would do the most good for human-kind to flourish, is it not? We should just kill off the lame, sick and lazy, and then humanity can really move forward.

20. Please show why your point 2. does not necessarily lead to 19., if you disagree.
How does that apply to the truth value or not of Christianity?

Essentially they coincide, but it takes a bit more conceptualizing and consequence theorizing than with reading your values out of a good book, as with Christianity. Also, my philosophy has little to no theological connotations, which takes out a huge chunk related to “do this or you'll go to hell” and places much more emphasis on individual agency, maintaining a healthy perception of ones locus of control, self-efficacy, and so on. This approach is not favored by most Christians because of a lack in the “cause and effect” approach, and it isolates us from influences outside of our control.
21. If you read my blog-post, then you will know that you are attacking a strawman. I will also disagree strongly that your position has no theological connotations. You have made a heck of a lot of metaphysical assumptions and attempted to explain them contra Christianity. In fact, you go so far as to state that it was a result of cognitive dissonance resulting from the NT that lead you to apostatize.

22. Emphasis on individual agency leads to some interesting places, as we already saw. You are asserting that your perception of your locus of control and self-efficacy is healthy. On what basis do you assert that? Your own happiness? Your self-actualization? Your instincts?
In my attempt to seek common ground, I allow for the possibility of things outside of my perceivable senses, and that I don't, in fact, have all the answers, and that certain things cannot be positively or negatively proven. So I allow the possibility for a God or gods and thus, I am a theist; I am NOT an atheist. But I might as well be, because I don't think God has any direct influence on our lives (and my thinking related to that is too in depth for me to write out).
23. Ok so you admit that you make meta-physical assumptions. But you are not a theist, by your own definition, you seem to be more of a deist. Which would make you an atheist.

24. It is very noble of you to seek "common ground". However, you assert that there is common ground, and in your next sentences, you pretty much destroy any possibility of common ground. You should know that Christianity in a nutshell is creation/fall/redemption, and if there is no personal God, then it is false. There is no common ground.
Additionally, the reason I say gods is due the fact that culturally, Christianity and Islam are the only to major religions to belief in one God — every other religion believes in multiple gods and, with my thinking based on principle, I cannot say that one I more right the other because that would be a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven by logical analysis.
25. False, there are many religions that believe in a single theistic God. I can think of two more, Judaism and Khoi-san off the top of my head.

26. Of course it can be proven by logocal analysis. We can construct a series of syllogisms and test the truth value, as well as looking at historical and evidential claims for each of the religions. We can investigate the axioms of each position and test them for logical consistency. There has been centuries of this. The fact that you want to bury your head in the sand does not mean that it cannot be done.

27. In another post in this forum you posted a rehashed version of Euthyphro's dilemma. Is that not a logical analysis of theological claims?
Likewise, I cannot say that Jesus was the only son of God because that claim is a theological claim that cannot be proven or disproven, similar to Greek and Roman claims that gods and demigods (sons of gods) were important to their culture.
28. There are deep and profound differences between claims and logical investigation, as we already saw. It is simply a copout to equate Christianity with mythology. There has been much published on the underlying arguments here which you fail to engage.

29. However, you keep on making assertions and claims without providing solid logical foundations for your ontology and epistomology. And since it is all down to individual agency, your assertions are your opinions and have no truth-value when addressing these types of questions.
I cannot assert that one is more correct than the other, so I either except both or refute both. And in my attempt to be accommodating, I accept both with the understanding that, as myth or as fact, no one REALLY knows. (It is indeed a quandary, but it's explained through cognitive dissonance quite well.)
30. A long discussion to assert what we already knew, that you are steeped in relativism. However you try to frame it ("my attempt to be accommodating"), it stands that you have no basis for criticising Christianity.

31. As you say that you don't know, how can you then say that no-one can really know? How does that follow? If you don't know then you cannot say that no-one can know, since you don't know yourself. But for you to say that no-one can know, you have to know that. So, please prove the statement that "no-one can really know" to be true. Show your premises and conclusions, and state your axioms where applicable.

32. It is only explained by cognitive dissonance if we accept your premises, which I don't, since you have not shown them to be either true or neccessary.

In sumary, you have come here to level criticisms at Christianity. In response, I asked you for your objective basis on which you do so. By your own admission you do not have one, so your criticisms are invalid.

Good luck with your studies, and I sure hope that can take something from this discussion. You seem to be intellectually honest, so I want to encourage you to read up on religious philosophy a bit more.

God bless.

John.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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#28

Post by August » Fri Dec 08, 2006 9:12 am

Birdie wrote:
August wrote:Why don't you give us the basis on which you propose to criticize Christianity? How do you know what is right and wrong? Where did it come from? How do you know that? How does that apply to the truth value or not of Christianity?
August wrote:The answer is that when humans were made in the image of God, they were given moral intuition ability, and by falling to temptation, mankind acquired knowledge of good and evil to go along with the moral intuition. God reveals to us, no, He hard-wires into us what good and evil is.
August wrote: Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Ok, so your answers to your own questions are:

“How do you know what is right and wrong?” We have an encoded knowledge of right in wrong in us.
“Where did it come from?” God.
“How do you know that?” It says that in the Bible.

That right?
Do you have something to say or are you just pestering me?
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

//www.omnipotentgrace.org
//christianskepticism.blogspot.com

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#29

Post by identity_in_development » Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:23 am

Thank you August for both your in-depth reply and for your challenges to my thoughts.

First, I'll admit that coming up with a purely objective morality is difficult, if not, nearly impossible. I would argue that-as-the-case, however, when you address something as “wrong,” and when there is a demand for more than simply “it is” from any explanation - you're asking for a lot. Example, I say (in somewhat of a syllogistic fashion): “Things of a destructive nature are morally wrong; murder destroys life; hence murder is morally wrong.” And essentially this argument can be broken down to its tiniest intricacies and in fact, there are flaws in the logic because, if one were inclined, one could reduce this to the point of it being completely absurd. So on that front, I have no logical approach besides countering every reduction with exceptions to the rule. However, the same could be applied to Christianity and I could apply the same circular logic to the Bible's commandments regarding right and wrong. In a similar syllogistic fashion: “God says what is morally right and wrong; God says murder is wrong; hence murder is morally wrong.” Either approach can be clobbered by a reductionist, and either could be discarded with similar circular logic. I'd prefer not go down that road because essentially, there is no purely objective format for determining the rightness of an action except by purposing that either there is a higher standard we all must agree on, or because it simply is the case that some things are wrong, while other are right. And thus we come to back to your question of “how is something objectively wrong?” and I would submit that the only determination is subjectivity — there is no objective wrong. Biblical context claims to be objective, but all interpretation is thusly subjective — consequently furthering a subjective morality and not an objective one. Which further expresses the point of how seemingly mentally convenient and effortless it is for Christian's, when it comes to determining correct action. What if something isn't directly covered in the Bible? Look for something similar and apply to said new topic. Why is that method better than considering all facts and the potentially detrimental effects before determining whether something is correct action? Your answer, I would suppose, is: “Human's are flawed and will make a mistake.” My answer: “Humans are capable of more than mistake, and with the understanding that those before us have come victim to their own fallibility, we consider carefully the repercussions of our actions and look beyond the immediate gains for any long-term deficits.” Which is the more optimistic philosophy? Which is better for looking forward to a better humanity?

August said:
“We do not mostly do what is right for our own selves. I will agree that we have a strong will to survive. But it is inescapable that we are motivated by relationships. Those relationships are with people that we have an emotional connection to, and those emotional connections mostly override what is best for our own selves. That comes back to morality, and where we get the knowledge from to maintain healthy relationships."
We DO in fact do for ourselves what we need. You cited relationships as an example — that's a good one to use — would you have me believe that you are in a relationship to fulfill your partner's needs and ONLY your partners needs? That you have no personal interest in having a relationship? That having a relationship helps you in no way?

August said:
“7. We have already seen that metaphysical assumptions cannot be avoided. So the question is not whether the metaphysical exists or not, it is:"What metaphysical explanation makes the most sense?" A theistic being does. And after we determine that there must be a single, all-powerful guiding force behind the universe, including self-consciouss human existence, then we evaluate the options.”
A theistic being or metaphysical explanations are only necessary as far as we have no physical or historical explanation for an event. Any number of events that were attributed to divine providence, or divine inspiration, or divine origin centuries ago, have now been found to be very concrete and very NOT divine. Consider pathology and treatment, astrology (our place in the universe) and cosmology, anatomy and physiology — all mandated and restricted by the church because of perceived divine derivation — if someone was sick or mentally ill, it was because he was possessed by a demon and the demon needed to be “set free” by torture and the papacy mandated that unless a priest proceeded a physician, so that a priest could be told what sins the sick person had taken part in — and if none were confessed, no treatment would be given. (Although, considering the state of physicians then, the papacy may have been doing the patient a favor). Weather, disease, plague, volcanic eruption, victory in battle; all were associated with divine will, even before the church took over, but that thinking was still mandated under the papacy and anything that spoke against church dogma was heresy. . . . so what I'm trying to say is this: a deity is only necessary for those things which we have no “natural science” ontological, cosmological, or epistemological explanation. This is starting to change in relation to the brain — just wait until neurophysiology can explain the pathways of emotion, desire, and certain mental phenomena . . . wait . . . it pretty much can! And after we determine the limited influence of a “single, all-powerful guiding force behind the universe” then we evaluate the options — what's left? I'd say humanity, but I'm optimistic.

August said:
“8. You state that you have learned a lot that makes you question the NT. Yet you don't state what it is that make you disbelieve it, you just state how you choose to deal with it. That does not answer my question. In fact, it does not even come close. All you are saying is that "something happened". I asked for the basis on which you level criticism. What is your underlying logic? What are your axioms, assumptions, premises and conclusions?”
I'll give you a list of things to look up in relation to the NT, but you'll have a heck of time finding everything. It'd be better, seriously, if I could mail you the material. In the mean time, research the following:

1) The historical context of Jewish thought on mortality and immortality, the theme of messages presented by the Old Testament on immortality versus the theme of messages presented in the NT on immortality. The historical and social context of such beliefs and how they influenced Biblical characters such as Moses.

2) The historical context of Jesus along side the historical context of other “great religious or historical figures.” How the story of Jesus can be compared to other stories, in regard to something known as the “the rites of passage” schema (originally proposed by Arnold von Gennep and later worked on by Victor Turner): <i>preliminal, liminal, postliminal</i> (<i>Limin</i> is Latin for Threshold.) Von Gennep argued that the way of moving to each stage is done through a market three part progression. The first step is pre-threshold: The person is immature. Then there is a ritual that separates them from the initial pre-threshold state to the threshold state — the middle stage - A period of tests and trials, where ones character and ones motivation is tested. Secondly, it's a period of confused identity, and thirdly, it's a period when secret knowledge is imparted. Then there is another ritual that gradually allows for movement into post-liminal or post-threshold life. Every great religious hero had a great and unlikely beginning as a child, followed by trials and tests where knowledge was imparted as an adult and identity is confirmed. Research the stories of heroes such Jesus, Krishna, and the Buddha as religious examples or Gilgamesh, Hercules, and Prometheus as non-religious examples.

3) Consider how Jewish tradition admits the temptation of semi-deifying Moses had he made it into the Promised Land. Jewish tradition states: “Sin is the human desire to become divine.” Since the right mediated category is the entire Jewish community and not an individual's life, and though Moses was a great single individual, the story reveals to Jews and Judaism what authentic reality is: Human beings attempt to attain divine status; they must resist that temptation; God himself has chosen the way by which he wishes to impart blessing to humanity and it is through the Jewish COMMUNITY. . . not through an individual. The New Testament, Jesus Christ, and Christianity (which claims Jesus as the Messiah) go against the Jewish tradition and teachings of immortality.

4) Albert Schweitzer's <i>“The Quest of the Historical Jesus” </i>(1906).

5) The conclusion by the Council of Nicea of what books to include and which to exclude.

6) That the gospels are not historically accurate as they are narrated. That often certain gospels will tell the same story but have discrepancies between them, which means that they either came to be changed, or were written down incorrectly, which means they cannot both be correct. A long example to follow.

7) The defiant stance that Christian's take information such as the following (referencing back to my comment about cognitive dissonance).

8) Events that are not historically plausible within the New Testament: specifically in two stories. Beginning with the start of Jesus' life and ending with his death. Not disputing the basic accuracy of the stories; Jesus obviously WAS born, and he did die, but the accounts are plagued with historical problems:

One Example: Jesus' death:

Accounts of Jesus' death found in two of the gospel accounts, Mark (Ch 14 & 15) and John (Ch 18 & 19) — which are very difficult to reconcile with one another in some of their specifics. There are many similarities in the story line — they are basically the same. Both have the same cast of characters (Jesus, Barabus, the antagonistic Jewish leaders, the easily swayed Jewish crowed and Pilot). In both accounts, Jesus has a last meal with disciples, he then goes out to pray, he his betrayed by Judas, and is deserted by the other disciples. Jesus is arrested by Jewish authorities, he spends the night in prison, and then appears before Pilot who tries to release him, but is persuaded by the crowds to release the criminal Barabus instead. In both narratives, Jesus is then ordered by Pilot to be executed, and he's taken off, and is crucified.

The broad skeletal outlines are very much the same. There are however, striking differences as well. Some of these differences can probably be reconciled with another if one worked hard enough at it. Some differences, not necessarily discrepancies: Mark's account has a very brief report that indicates everything took place all in one location, where Jesus says hardly anything in his defense — saying only: “You say so” (two words in Greek) to Pilot when asks: “Are you the king of the Jews.” This stands different from John (ch18 vrs 28 ): The Jewish leaders refused to go into Pilots chambers because they don't want to be defiled, so they can eat the Passover meal in the evening. The point, is what this does to the trial narrative, the leaders don't go in, they send Jesus in by himself; and from here on out, Pilot goes back and forth between Jesus (the accused) and the Jewish leaders (the accusers). Verse 29: Pilot went out to the Jewish leaders. . . 33. Then pilot enters into the headquarters, summons Jesus and talks with him. . . 38. Pilot goes outside, then goes back in and brings Jesus out and flogs him; Pilot goes back and forth to conduct the trial. Also, in this account, rather than Jesus giving two words (in Greek) he gives two rather long speeches to his judge, the Pilot, on the inside, and the Jewish leaders don't hear these speeches. The point is that these two narratives are fairly different in the way they set up the trial. In one, they're all in one place, in the other, Pilot has to go back and forth. You can reconcile them by saying that Mark just simply didn't mention a few facts (that Pilot had to go back and forth, and Jesus gave two long speeches), and it's a common way to reconcile differences in the Bible — that they are both right, insofar as they narrate what they do, or that they happened at different times.

The problem is that there are differences between the two: in particular there is a discrepancy in WHEN this event takes place. When did Jesus die? Both Mark and John indicate that Jesus died during the feast of the Passover; the annual festival celebrated by Jews to commemorate the exodus. The festival had at its background the story of God's deliverance of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt through Moses (as recorded in the Book of Exodus). In Jesus' day, the festival was a major event. Jews came from around the world to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem. They would arrive a week in advance to undergo a ritual of purification that would allow them to eat the meal. The ritual took a week, so they would come a week early. The afternoon before the Passover meal was eaten, Jews would bring a lamb which was to be eaten as part of the celebration, to the temple so that it could be sacrificed by the priests. The rest of the day was spent in preparing the meal for the feast; that day was called “the Day of Preparation for the Passover.” Both Mark and John give precise information as to when Jesus was crucified. Mark, the earlier account, has Jesus dying on the day after the Passover Meal in the morning. But John's account has him crucified in the afternoon on the day of preparation. In John's gospel, Jesus was executed before the meal even began.

It is probably impossible to reconcile this discrepancy if you want to claim that both accounts are historically accurate. Jesus is killed at a different time and on a different day than what is said by Mark. But it possible to explain WHY the discrepancy came about. John is the only gospel that specifically identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John Ch1 vs 29), he says the same thing 7 versus later, “behold the lamb of god.” This is also the only gospel in which Jesus is said to die on the day before Passover, PRECISELY when lambs were being slaughtered. According to most theologians, it appears that John has changed a historical datum in order to make a theological point. That is to say, that John changed the day and time, precisely to show that Jesus really was the Lamb of God, who was slain on the same day and at the same time, and by the same people, who slew the Passover lambs.
This is one kind of the evidence to suggest that the Bible contains some accounts that cannot be historically accurate, at least in all their details. And dozens of these kinds of discrepancies can be discussed from the NT gospels. One other account has to do with Jesus' birth: between Mathew and Luke. Which I won't go into — but they are almost completely different — making the nativity story we know now a combination of both stories.



Does any of this help you understand the small amount of doubt I have in the NT?


Out of time. . . hours ago. 8)

identity_in_development
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#30

Post by identity_in_development » Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:49 am

One more, further post.

Here is my history of metaphysical beliefs:

1) Fundamentalist Christianity: Belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
2) Not-so-Fundamentalist Christianity: The questioning phase of the previous beliefs.
3) Agnosticism: Roughly, the opinion that it is not possible to know whether gods or deities exist, or the opinion that one does not know.
4) Atheism: roughly, an absence of belief in any gods or deities
5) Agnosticism: Back to saying it can't be known.
6) Theism: roughly, the opinion that gods or deities exist

Yet, at the same time, deism: The belief in the existence of a god which, having set up the universe initially, plays no further part in the running of the universe.

So despite the following claims by August:
. . . You are not a theist, by your own definition, you seem to be more of a deist. Which would make you an atheist.
I'm not an atheist, even though I have previously held those beliefs.

As you might note, deist's believe that god or dieties exist. . . so. . . just follow the syllogism I've set up with your logic and you'll figure out where I planned on going.

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