“We estimate 90% of customers will have power restored by July 6th”

Whelp, it looks like you won’t be seeing that much of me over the course of the week.  You know it’s bad when you’re upset that the power company dealt with the live wire lying across your street.  It may have been a hazard, but it was supplying me with sweet, sweet, electricity.  The cell towers in my neighborhood have been hit pretty bad by the storm, too, so I can’t even keep up with Google Reader and comments with my phone.  Don’t worry about me, though.  I’ve got a maglite, batteries, and books.

So, in the meantime, I’ll be throwing up about a post per day linking you to some interesting longer form post elsewhere.  If I cadge time and wifi in a Starbucks, I may do some shorter posts of my own.  But no guarantees; it’s a mishegas over here.  To wit:

In case you can’t tell, that’s two shaped loaves of Extra Tangy Sourdough Bread riding the DC metro with me.  You see, they were halfway through rising when the power cut out, and the nice people at the King Arthur Baker’s Helpline told me I’d have to bake them soon or lose the dough.

I walked up and down my street, knocking on doors and asking the neighbors if they had an over that was controlled by knobs, not electrical inputs.  No dice.  I tried to figure out if DC has a Cory Booker equivalent, but nothing doing.  So I walked a block or two over, where I had cell service, and started calling all my DC friends, til I found someone in Adams Morgan with power.

The bread actually still turned out delicious (though I have to cut the very bottom off of each slice, since I mistook wax paper for parchment paper).  And it’s a lucky thing, since we’re throwing out everything in the fridge today, and it looks like I’ll be living on (really yummy) bread and water.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as a statistician for a school in Washington D.C. by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • Noe

    I had to couch it in B’more, am also homeless until my Tuesday night sublet starts up. It’s not just meshugas – its…why, it’s a shondah.

    • leahlibresco

      And not only for the goyim!

      • Noe

        Yasher koach!..

  • Peggy Hagen

    Hope you stay cool – we got power back last night but ut was pretty brutal until then. Derechos: the new El Nino!

  • Ted Seeber

    Take the time to turn off the maglite, close the books, and learn the value of contemplative prayer. Only in silence can you truly learn the sovereignty of God- and silence is *really rare* in our culture.

  • Ted Seeber

    Also, something I learned a few years ago from the Japanese- put enough salt in your food and it will last a week or two unrefrigerated. Human beings can tolerate a LOT more salt than yeast, bacteria, and viruses can.

  • http://paraphasic.blogspot.com Elliot

    Parchment paper is the bomb.

  • jenesaispas

    Was that last part written just so I could say ‘man can not live by bread alone’?
    lol

    Have a good break:)

  • Alex

    Ouch sorry to hear about the mass evacuation of the fridge. The dough looks good though! Last summer I did a loaf of sourdough per week. My favorite is the not so diet friendly Challah:
    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4200/sourdough-challah-photos-recipe
    That website has lots of great advice on breadmaking. The most useful piece of advice I’ve heard so far is to knead the heck out of enriched doughs without adding any flour – that will result in a soft spongy bread that doesn’t crumble.

  • Iota

    I’m pretty late to the “party”, since I just read about your paradigm shift yesterday. Two things:

    1) I assume this policy is now reversed, and we “are allowed” to pray in your intention and your intentions (not that not being allowed had stopped prayers, or that I actually promise prayer – I’m too lazy and good-for-nothing to promise anything of this sort)?
    2) Enjoy your holiday from bloging. I’d assume that that’s as good a reason to have a rest from all of us – the little comment explosion must be rather tiresome, with the various shades of Catholic joy (sometimes verging on, possibly unhealthy, triumphalism) or suspicion, and atheist befuddlement. Part of me thinks you must have been suicidal to actually keep this blog running, because any big shift of this sort pretty much guarantees you are going to get some new “enemies” as well as new “friends”, and a lot of the kind of traffic you don’t seem to like very much (the kind where people haven’t actually taken any time to read anything you’ve written and just take a pot shot at you from their standard positions). So, enjoy your holiday.

    Signed,
    A very happy good-for-nothing wannabe-Catholic. :)

  • grok

    Best of luck Leah- I’ve been there, was out of power for a week due to the Halloween week storms last year.
    The words of Psalm 29 from today’s morning prayer seem somehow apporopriate:

    “The Lord’s voice shaking the wilderness,
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh;
    the Lord’s voice rending the oak tree
    and stripping the forest bare.

    The God of glory thunders.
    In his temple they all cry: Glory!
    The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits as king for ever.

    The Lord will give strength to his people,
    the Lord will bless his people with peace.”

    It’s good to be reminded of these things. That the same God who power is sometimes manifest in destructive natural forces, will give us strength and peace in our own lives, no matter what state of turmoil we may be in.
    Best,
    Grok

  • Daniel A. Duran

    I was watching the avengers in the movie theater when the storm swept through. The whole theater went dark so I began making some shadow animals with a flashlight. ;-) I hoper you area recovers soon.

  • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Hi Leah,

    Sorry to leave this comment here – it’s totally not related to this post – but if you wouldn’t mind I’d like to add another quick ‘conversion’ question to your list:

    How do you feel about genocide? Is genocide considered morally acceptable if it is committed by God? How comfortable do you feel about worshipping a deity that seems to have no moral problem with committing genocide? How do you feel about human beings who attempt to commit genocide in the name of their God? Since God has committed genocide in the past, how can you be sure that human beings claiming divine inspiration for murder or killing sprees are not truly carrying out the will of God? What, if anything, makes the ‘god-voice’ in the minds of these people any different to the ‘god’ that other people hear?

    Thanks again for your willingess to take questions. Totally understand if ylu sont get a chance to address all of them.

    • Ted Seeber

      I find atheists in the 20th century have committed far more, and far larger, genocides than God ever did.

      • leahlibresco

        Just popping in to say I have never seen the genocide competition tactic result in a productive or satisfying argument, so no shame for not engaging with it.

        • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

          Yep, it’s a pretty useless competition, since I don’t think any genocidal individuals who happened to not believe in God went about committing genocide in the NAME of “no god”. You can’t be inspired to commit genocide by someone that doesn’t exist, now, can you? ;)

    • Daniel A. Duran

      Jennifer
      “Is genocide considered morally acceptable if it is committed by God?”
      The question assumes that god has obligations or duties towards his creatures. It is not obvious that God, as the creator of everything, must submit himself to his own creatures for moral approval or disapproval.
      “How do you feel about human beings who attempt to commit genocide in the name of their God?”

      slavery, mass killing, polygamy as depicted in the bible is morally repulsive. But you must bear in mind that none of these things are necessarily wrong, in other words, they’re not wrong always and everywhere.
      Sometimes there are collisions of interests that override some of our duties. we’re not entitled to kill someone but sometimes there are collisions of interests where you’re allowed to do so (as in self-defense.) people have a right to be free but sometimes something happens that overrides that right: a person commits a crime and deserves imprisonment, for example.

      It is entirely possible that all those morally repulsive parts in the OT involving genocide, slavery, etc. are just more examples of collisions of interests. perhaps slavery was allowed because , otherwise, the Jews would have killed their prisoners. Maybe polygamy was allowed in order to avoid men defecting to other religions, etc.

      • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

        “slavery, mass killing, polygamy as depicted in the bible is morally repulsive. But you must bear in mind that none of these things are necessarily wrong, in other words, they’re not wrong always and everywhere.”

        Behold Catholic morality in all its shining, intensely disturbing glory!

        “perhaps slavery was allowed because , otherwise, the Jews would have killed their prisoners.” – Um, that wouldn’t make slavery ‘morally good’. It would just make it the lesser of two evils. Maybe slavery is a bit less ‘wrong’ than murder, but that doesn’t make it RIGHT.

        I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself very clearly, but what I’d like those of the Catholic faith to understand is *why* atheists are so disgusted by Catholic morality (and thus why we’re making so much noise about a case of one individual’s conversion). In religion, divine authority trumps human morality. As gmoney says in the comment a few below, it’s the classic “might makes right”. It’s saying, “A higher authority said it was okay, and it’s easier to bow to authority than to think for myself.”

        Do you see why these statements are disturbing? Can you think of a few murders committed in God’s name? How do you know if they are ‘wrong’ or not, if God gets to play by his own rules?

        Shoter version: If your God asked you to kill somebody, would you? I would really love to hear an answer to this. If the answer is “no”, then clearly you’re using human (rather than divine) morality as your base. If the answer is yes, I’m going to have to leave this conversation to go and take a shower so that I can stop feeling so dirty. And also you should see a psychologist.

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “Behold Catholic morality in all its shining, intensely disturbing glory!”

          I don’t think you understood what I wrote. If killing is necessarily wrong (always and everywhere)then you cannot kill in self defense. Pet theories that might be dear to your heart such as abortion and assisted suicide will have to go overboard if killing is always and everywhere wrong. If the state cannot remove someone’s freedom as a matter of necessity; no one should be allowed to go jail. I don’t know what Catholicism has to do with anything, I would still hold the same view if I were an atheist.

          Likewise, there’s no such thing as “catholic morality” there are many schools of thought with regards ethics. There’s the legalism of the Jesuits, the teleological ethics of the Dominicans, the intuinism of the Franciscans and the Platonism of the Augustinians. In fact, my view (that morality is contingent and loosely binding with many things) is the MINORITY position.

          If you have a problem with what I said, point out where you think I am wrong. I will also ask you to restraint yourself from shouting with exclamation points. No one likes being screamed at.

          “but what I’d like those of the Catholic faith to understand is *why* atheists are so disgusted by Catholic morality”

          I will also ask you to get off your high horse and show some modesty.

          “In religion, divine authority trumps human morality. As gmoney says in the comment a few below, it’s the classic “might makes right”. It’s saying, “A higher authority said it was okay, and it’s easier to bow to authority than to think for myself.”

          Read my previous post, I do not mention God commanding anything. I used a model of resolving moral dilemmas without appealing to God. You have a duty to stay out of Bob’s house and you have a duty to protect innocent life. If you have a dying child in your hands and you must go through bob’s property to reach the hospital, your duty to protect life OVERRIDES your duty to stay out of Bob’s property. This example can be used in the bible. There might be good reasons that made licit in the Old Testament what is normally illicit.
          Notice that I do not say that it makes it “less immoral.”

          “If your God asked you to kill somebody, would you?”

          No, I would ask a shrink to get me some medication that will make the voices go away. Frankly, what response were you seeking? I don’t understand what you mean by using “human morality as my base” by saying no.

          “I’m going to have to leave this conversation to go and take a shower so that I can stop feeling so dirty.”

          For somebody that prides herself in her moral standards you really have a nasty streak of self-serving pomposity…rather odd. I do not think a shower will cleanse that particular problem of yours, though. ;-) Take care

          • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

            Daniel,

            I think there have been a couple of muddled communications, here.

            Firstly, in my original post, I was mainly focusing on God as the perpetrator of genocide – whether he achieves it all on his own, like in the flood story, or whether he achieves it through ‘His People’, like when people claim divine instructions for their actions (“god told me to do it”/”I was the arm of the Lord”). It seems to me that God would be exempt from this sort of “take the lesser of two evil” choices. If God is all powerful, and Catholic morality is indeed objective, then God is not limited to the same kind of ‘relative’ morality that humans are (for example, killing in self defence being much less morally questionable than murder). So as far as I can tell, God doesn’t get to use this excuse. When he commits genocide, he commits genocide. He could have done something different – he’s God, after all, right? – but he chooses to wipe out most of the human race (taking the arc story at face value, as an example). It honestly frightens me that people are willing to worship a being that would commit such an atrocity. Why would anyone want to worship that?

            One example I often use to illustrate the disconnect between religious and human morality is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Many religious people seem to think the fact that Abraham is willing to murder his son because the voices in his head told him to is a -virtue-. Non-religious people tend to recognise this as being all kinds of fucked up.

            That being said, I’m the same as you in that I recognise no absolute, objective morality and recognise it can be contingent on many things.

            Secondly: As you seemed to be jumping to the defence of Biblical morality in your first response to me, and from the way you talked about God, I assumed that you were a Catholic yourself, hence me directing the “If God asked you to kill somebody, would you?” question to you. As you’re not a Catholic I don’t quite understand the motivations behind your defence. In any case, I apologise if I misinterpreted you. For what it’s worth, my answer to the question (being ‘get the damn voices out of my head’) would be exactly the same.

            I’m wondering how a religious person – one who believes that God is the moral authority – would answer the question. It seems to me that if the answer is no, they clearly have a sense of morality that lies outside of religion, and if the answer is yes, then they clearly require psychiatric care.

            “I will also ask you to restraint yourself from shouting with exclamation points.” – I’m sorry if my single exclamation point at the end of a tongue-in-cheek sentence, and my single use of capslock (only used as I don’t know the tag for italics) is turning the heat up too high for your delicate sensitivities. I’ll make sure to keep to a meek whisper in future discussions.

            I’m not sure why you think I’m on a high horse, though. Many Catholics seemed baffled at the atheist response to Leah’s conversion – they seem to think our reaction is over the top or too exaggerated. I’m just honestly trying to help them see, from an atheistic point of view, why a conversion to Catholicism is so horrifying. I’m not exactly trying to force Catholics to -agree- with this particular reaction; just trying to help them make a bit more sense out of it, to understand my point of view. I’m not sure how that makes me self-serving or pompous. If you’re not morally outraged at the thought of my hypothetical devout religious follower murdering in the name of their God, well… that seems strange to me. It seems like something most normal people would find morally outrageous. If it doesn’t bother you, maybe your nerves just have more steel in them than mine. ;)

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “I’m sorry if my single exclamation point at the end of a tongue-in-cheek sentence, and my single use of capslock (only used as I don’t know the tag for italics) is turning the heat up too high for your delicate sensitivities. I’ll make sure to keep to a meek whisper in future discussions.”

          look lady, if you think that I will appreciate you shouting at me that I am mentally disturbed when you happen to think is alright to hack and dismember humans inside the womb; you’re sadly and grossly mistaken.
          You were correct; I am catholic. And most Catholics would say that God would not command people outright, unqualified murder. They might say,for example, that Abraham knew that God would not let his child died since he promised that Isaac would have many descendants.

          I will not bother addressing the rest of your rambling, immature post. You ought to refrain from childish tactics ( such as insulting people) when they try to give you a serious response, it is in bad taste.

          so please, shut up or grow up.

          • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

            “if you think that I will appreciate you shouting at me” – I’m not shouting, just typing quite politely. Welcome to the internet.

            “that I am mentally disturbed ” – Please quote for me exactly where I said that you were mentally disturbed. (I did say that somebody who committed murder because of voices in their head would be mentally disturbed; you seemed to agree with me).

            “when you happen to think is alright to hack and dismember humans inside the womb” – This is incorrect. I do not think that.

            “And most Catholics would say that God would not command people outright, unqualified murder.” – But there have been many murderers who claimed that ‘God made them do it’. How do you know that the God that these people speak to is any less real than your God? This is the whole point behind my question, which I’d still like a Catholic (who believes in an objective religious morality) to answer. If you don’t believe in an objective morality, that’s great – you’re not the target of my question.

            “I will not bother addressing the rest of your rambling, immature post. ” – … Okay? Nobody is forcing you to.

            “You ought to refrain from childish tactics ( such as insulting people)” – unless you can point out where I have used personal insults, please stop lying. I thought that lying was a sin? At the very least, please stop twisting my words to fit your agenda.

            “so please, shut up or grow up.” – I have no idea what you are talking about. Please make sense.

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “unless you can point out where I have used personal insults, please stop lying. ”

          oh really? I lied? didn’t you say this:
          “Behold Catholic morality in all its shining, intensely disturbing glory!… ’id like those of the Catholic faith to understand is *why* atheists are so disgusted by Catholic morality…Do you see why these statements are disturbing? …I’m going to have to leave this conversation to go and take a shower so that I can stop feeling so dirty. And also you should see a psychologist.”
          The real question is; why are you lying?
          Enough, I am going to enjoy the fireworks down here. I see no reason to waste my time feeding trolls. Bye.

  • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Ack… * you *don’t.

    Oh the joys of typing on phone keyboards. Sorry!

  • suburbanbanshee

    Jennifer — It’s a bit silly to set up philosophical questions for others without examining them yourself. For example, if you really thought that there was a genocidal being of ultimate power running around, you would probably not be posting about this. Either you’d be in the underground, or you’d be enthusiastically greeting your new robot overlord with terror in your heart. (Possibly while explaining that a higher being can’t commit genocide, but only “squishy human worm”-cide.)

    Of course, if there’s no ultimate benign power that allows us a standard by which to judge good and bad, and everything is just human custom and preference, there’s really no reason to decry genocide. So if a non-ultimate non-benign power came along and started committing genocide, you couldn’t even call such actions unfair. You could only say that that’s a bit messier than our social customs allow. Yet you obviously find genocide a meaningful concept.

    So the fact that you feel moved to ask your question presupposes that there is a benign ultimate power, that good and evil have absolute meanings not defined by human custom, that the Bible accounts are historically true, and that the benign ultimate power won’t smite you for asking questions. So at this point, you’re just looking for details of God’s administrative policies.

    • gmoney

      Wow you totally misunderstood the post by jennifer. She is simply asking if your god asked you to commit genocide would you and what makes you think that god is real.

      • Ted Seeber

        The problem is God doesn’t ask this of us, unless you think the Bible is historically true instead of philosophically true.

        • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

          Ah, so the Bible’s a metaphor and it’s not actually true? I’ve read better fictional novels, but I guess that’s just personal opinion. If the Bible is your favourite novel, then that’s up to you. You can take whatever philosophical notions you wish out of it.

          If the Biblical God was proven to be real, I’d fight him in whatever way I could. If he had a face, I’d probably attempt to spit in it. A God that is morally depraved, by my standards, is repulsive and does not deserve worship. God’s moral standards don’t get to trump my own just because he’s set himself up to be a dictator of all creation.

          Philosophically speaking, of course. This is all just hypothetical.

  • gmoney

    suburbanbanshee, what you described is basically the classic “might makes right”. God is the most powerful so god makes the rules. If there is no god then some other most powerful person makes the rules. You can insert any god/human you want.

  • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Daniel, those are not personal insults. ‘Catholic morality is disturbing’ in not a personal insult, but ‘you are a disgusting person’ IS a personal insult. Do you see the difference? Scanning back through my posts, I don’t believe I’ve been insulting. Just because you happen to disagree with somebody on an idea does not mean that that person is personally insulting you. There’s a big difference.

    If you’d like to bow out of the conversation, my question is still open to Leah or any other believers in objective morality: if god commanded that you kill a human being, would you do it?

    • Daniel A. Duran

      look, you need to grow up. look how you pepper your posts with mockery. Spare me the nonsense that you were not trying to be offensive by saying saying that my comments are disturbing or sickening and that you needed a shower to remove the filth.Behave like an adult in order to be treated like one.

      Also your question was answered clearly, if a voice ordered me to kill someone then I would not do it. I am sure Leah would say the same. Why should I care or is relevant to Catholics that some lunatics or sociopaths say voices command them to kill?

      • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

        I said I would feel like a shower IF you answered “yes” to my “would you kill someone on God’s command?” question. You didn’t answer yes. Your answer to that question is the same as mine. We agreed with each other. I think you might have misread what I wrote and are taking offense unnecessarily.

        My question was for Catholics who believed in an absolute, objective morality. I apologise for the confusion – I should have made that clearer in my very first post. As you’ve indicated that’s not what you believe in, I’m not really personally interested in your answer to my question (it’s the same as my answer anyway).

        If one believed in objective morality, with God being the source of morality, then surely they would be obligated to kill somebody if God asked them to. If they refused to kill someone even when God commanded it, they would be putting their own human sense of ethics above a direct command from God. My point isn’t that Catholics are raging, murdering psychopaths; my point is that the vast majority of people would not commit murder if God told them to, and thus they must be placing more value in their own morality than in God’s morality. I am asking believers in objective morality to explain this for me, from their point of view.

        If you don’t believe in an objective morality, then no offense, but I’m really not directing my question at you. You can let somebody else address it. Leah’s conversion seems to be based on her own sense of an objective morality, which is what my question is trying to address.

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “my point is that the vast majority of people would not commit murder if God told them to, and thus they must be placing more value in their own morality than in God’s morality.”

          I don’t see why you find this so puzzling. they are not valuing their own morality over God’s ( whatever that means) morality. They would not do it because they might fear they are mistaken about God commanding them to kill someone. They might no do it because they might think they are going crazy. Most simply would not do it because they think God will not ever command them to kill someone. I think a lot of people will not do it because they think that “thou shall not kill” is a stronger and more binding commandment than “thou shall obey God.”

          I don’t see why you find this so strange.

    • Daniel A. Duran

      Of course I’ve no problem with having a serious conversation(or having a joke here or there), but if you insist in playing the role of bratty, emotionally immature teenager then I will not tag along. your call.

      • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

        Just replied above.

        Please, if you’re going to make these accusations about my supposed age and immaturity, could you at least type your sentences with correct punctuation and capitalisation? (I’m sorry, but I’m an English lit major, and it bothers me.)

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “could you at least type your sentences with correct punctuation and capitalisation?”

          I guess that taking cheap-shots at punctuation and capitalization is how you show your (non-existent)maturity, right? I’m a moral realist or, as you say, “absolutist” on many things. just like Leah. But then again you will not understand anything I might say given, as you have have amply demonstrated, you’re pretty dense and too emotionally immature to handle a serious discussion .

          Bye

          • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

            You’ve said bye before but haven’t managed to stick the flounce.

            You said in one of your initial responses that you recognised “that morality is contingent and loosely binding with many things”. To me this sounds very different to the kind of ‘objective morality’ that Leah has written about before. (Perhaps I am misinterpreting either her or you?)

            I’m not sure what your problem is with me, as I’ve tried to be as polite as possible, but I’d like to hear from someone else now. Preferably someone who is actually willing to discuss the question.

            Someone other than Daniel: If God is the source of moral objectivity, and God tells you to kill somebody, what reason do you have not to do it?

          • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

            Quick addition – I completely retract my snark about “someone who is actually willing to discuss the question”. You clearly addressed it in your response a few comments above. Thank you for that. I somehow missed it in the back-and-forth discussion.

            My question is more of a “burning bush” and less of a “hearing voices in your head” kind of scenario: in this scenario, you KNOW irrevocably that this is really God giving the command to murder, this is the real thing. (It doesn’t seem so strange to me, as according to the Bible God doesn’t seem to have much of an ethical problem with wiping people out.) If one was certain that their God had told them to kill, why would they rebel against him? From a ‘God as the absolute morality’ view point, I can’t see how it makes sense.

          • Daniel A. Duran

            Last post came out wrong, all paragraphs piling on top of each other without any white space between them.

            “My question is more of a “burning bush” and less of a “hearing voices in your head” kind of scenario: in this scenario, you KNOW irrevocably that this is really God giving the command to murder, this is the real thing. ”

            Before answering the question, here’s something I want you to ponder. Suppose a person with authority (police officer, a general, etc.) gave you a gun and ordered to kill an innocent old lady, would you do it?

            Here’s another scenario, a man is raping and stabbing a woman. The same person in charge comes along and hands you the gun, he orders to take the shot or the woman will die, would you pull the trigger?

            I am pretty sure you said no to the first scenario and a cautious yes to the second, correct? what is the point of the exercise? that a person with authority can command you to do *some* things and not others.

            God is like this man with authority but a larger scale. To answer your question. I do not think God is like the man in the first example commanding you to do things that are morally bad. Because I think god is reasonable, I believe he will command me do something that is justifiable in principle or upon further reflection (“join the army to kill the enemy,” or “you will pull the lever that will kill Ted Bundy in the electric chair.”) There’s nothing morally wrong with any of these things, so out of duty I would do them.

            I do not think God will ask something unjustifiable.

        • Daniel A. Duran

          “My question is more of a “burning bush” and less of a “hearing voices in your head” kind of scenario: in this scenario, you KNOW irrevocably that this is really God giving the command to murder, this is the real thing. ”
          Before answering the question, here’s something I want you to ponder. Suppose a person with authority (police officer, a general, etc.) gave you a gun and ordered to kill an innocent old lady, would you do it?
          Here’s another scenario, a man is raping and stabbing a woman. The same person in charge comes along and hands you the gun, he orders to take the shot or the woman will die, would you pull the trigger?
          I am pretty sure you said no to the first scenario and a cautious yes to the second, correct? what is the point of the exercise? that a person with authority can command you to do *some* things and not others.
          God is like this man with authority but a larger scale. To answer your question. I do not think God is like the man in the first example commanding you to do things that are morally bad. Because I think god is reasonable, I believe he will command me do something that is justifiable in principle (“join the army to kill the enemy,” or “you will pull the lever that will kill Ted Bundy in the electric chair.”) There’s nothing morally wrong with any of these things, so out of duty I would do them.
          I do not think God will ask something unjustifiable.

  • Daniel A. Duran

    “that morality is contingent and loosely binding with many things”. To me this sounds very different to the kind of ‘objective morality’ that Leah has written about before. ”

    it is not that different actually. I am fairly sure that Leah would say that god could command us to switch back to the sabbath or that God could forbid some types of food for example. The only differences between her position and mine is that she thinks that morality grounded in the nature of things: lying is bad because speech is meant for communication, for example. I would simply say that lying is bad because God decreed so at the beginning of the world. There might be natural reasons that helps us distinguish good and bad, but they are not determined by them. The best way to distinguish good or bad is by using our intuitions or moral sense.
    There, I just gave you a lowdown of our differences, she thinks morality is grounded on the nature of things and I think morality was decreed by god and he gave us a moral sense to distinguish good from bad.
    other than that, I think we agree on the rest.

    • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

      Thanks for that, that actually helps me to understand a lot better where both you and Leah are coming from.

      I guess what my question comes down to then, is how can you tell if the God that communicates with you is really God, or if it’s just the kind of ‘voices in your head’ that you’d see a psychiatrist over? When it comes to those people who have committed murder because they think that ‘God told them to do it’ – how can you be certain that God -didn’t- tell them to do it? Why is their interpretation of God less correct than anybody else’s?

  • Daniel A. Duran

    “how can you tell if the God that communicates with you is really God, or if it’s just the kind of ‘voices in your head’ that you’d see a psychiatrist over?”

    no freaking clue, God doesn’t talk to me that much so I don’t know how to distinguish the real deal from the feverish hallucinations of a syphilitic brain. ;-)

    “When it comes to those people who have committed murder because they think that ‘God told them to do it’ – how can you be certain that God -didn’t- tell them to do it?”

    Because I don’t think God will command them to do something that is immoral. If somebody told me that God woke her up in the middle of the night and ordered her to kill the burglar/rapist that was about to assault her I would be very skeptical…but I wouldn’t rule it out altogether.

  • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    But God has killed people before, and God has ordered his followers to kill on his behalf before. Murder doesn’t seem to have been ‘immoral’ for him in Biblical history. What’s changed…?

    (Of course, I guess this line of reasoning doesn’t lead anywhere if you consider the inconvenient parts of the Bible to be ‘metaphorical’.)

    • Doragoon

      Murder /= Killing

  • Daniel A. Duran

    And we’ve come full circle.

    “But God has killed people before”

    I already addressed this in the first post.

    “God has ordered his followers to kill on his behalf before.”

    This is no different from the state declaring a war on another nation or routinely executing some types of hardened criminals or taking away your property to give it to another person. If the state can do this, why can’t god? Mind you, I am not saying that God will order anything, as I said, I do not think he will order something that is unjustifiable.
    Second, I’m not saying that everything done in his name is justified; humans are fallible beings.
    thirdly, how do you justify yourself in complaining that they were acting immorally? You said there’s no objective morality.

    • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

      “If the state can do this, why can’t god?” – just because a State is capable of doing something does not make it a morally justified action.

      In my opinion God has done plenty of unjustifiable things. This is where my sense of morality seems to diverge from a religious person’s sense of morality. I don’t see how wiping out a planet full of people is ‘justifiable’. Even if they were ‘your’ people and you created them in the first place. (Perhaps -especially- if they were ‘your’ people – I mean, don’t create a flawed product, give it sentience, and then destroy it when you don’t like it!) And I don’t buy the whole “God is mysterious and should not be judged by a human sense of morality”. We’re human beings; a human sense of morality is all we have to judge anything by. If we give God a get-out-of-jail-free card just because he’s all big and powerful and stuff, why don’t we give a free pass to any big, powerful authority who commits atrocities?

      I believe that human beings are ethically superior to the Biblical God. The Biblical God behaves too often like a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum. I guess if religious people want to make excuses for his bad behaviour, we will just have to agree to disagree!

      I feel like I should probably step off this little soap box I’ve created for myself, as I feel a bit guilty for taking up this much of the comment space (it’s not something I usually do). Once again, thanks to Leah for providing an interesting discussion space.

  • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    The internet lost the response I just typed up :(

    I’ll keep it more concise this time: I believe that human morality is superior to God’s morality. God commits genocide of planetary proportions. It’s not ‘justifiable’ to create a race, give it sentience, then destroy it when you don’t like what you see (let alone the millions of animal species he also killed during the flood). He behaves like a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum. If religious believers want to defend his bad behaviour, well, we will have to agree to disagree.

    That being said I feel like I should step off my little soap box now, as I suspect I’ve already taken up too much comment space (sorry… I don’t normally do this!). Thanks again to Leah for providing the arena for an interesting discussion.


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