Insulting people =! capably representing your faith.
Another friendly reminder.
Insulting people =! capably representing your faith.
Another friendly reminder.
"Ty, anyone will be 5 years old to you: all one really need do: disagree with you. "
Wrong again (you have an amazing talent for it).
Jonjon above and I agree on almost nothing (that gets discussed on this site, anyway), and I respect both his intelligence and his ability to present his (wrong) ideas in a thoughtful manner.
Lots of people have disagreed with me here. You're the first one I called a five year old. You wanna know why? Cuz you act like a damn five year old.
Thanks for your words and effort. Before my faith fell away I tried every machination and every line of convoluted thinking I could to hold on to it. That is how helpful and comforting it was to me. That faith is the feeling I wonder of "depriving" my son-the wonderful paternal father who had my back in every way. To this day I miss it like my right arm. That is what brought me here. I want to snap out of that.
Caddy my faith was so pure and absolute (and my mind so addled by grief) I began to think I was involved in a test of my faith along the lines of Mary (sister of Lazarus not Jesus' mom) As you probably know, but others here may not, Jesus' friend Lazarus dies and is entombed and Mary's faith is so pure "Jesus wept" and raised her brother from his tomb. In the story, a sister Martha has no faith and the other sister Mary has faith and is rewarded.
My body was the tomb for Elizabeth. She was alive inside me but would die at birth (she lived 40 minutes) but in my mind I KNEW she would live and indeed if she died, she would rise. She was born, she died while my husband and I held her. I continued to hold her for 11 hours until she became hard and liquid began to leak from her nose. I was so insane I probably would have stayed there like that for days waiting, but my husband made me let go of her.
Oh Caddy, the God you love, and the god I did love so very much, wasn't there. My heart was pure. My baby who died from a genetic hiccup that they will eventually find a scientific cause of (they current thinking is it a spindle defect when the first cell divides) JUST DIED. All biological beings eventually die. The only holy battle was in my head. I wasn't being tested. There is no test. It existed nowhere else. It just doesn't. I'm sorry to say that. I really do wish there was some battle for our souls out there and there was something we could to do to swing it in our favor such as prayer. There just isn't Caddy. I'm sorry-so very sorry for you. I know how it feels when it starts slipping through your fingers. I can tell from your words and your tone but I know right now that you can't admit what is happening to anyone here and least of all yourself, but if there is one thing you can hear, you CAN live through it. Tho life on this side isn't as magical and comforting as a life in faith, it is still a good life. Most people are good and the sun still rises.
To the others-I get that Caddy is annoying but he truly doesn't know it. I was so smug when I had my faith. It is something that seems to come with he territory. It is heady stuff to have an omnipotent being in your corner. We are right and you poor heathens...
In the past 9 years I have started to notice that particular flavor of faith is sometimes necessary for people who otherwise feel inadequate or that without it they will run off the road over the edge into depravity. Think Mel Gibson.
If you have lost what Caddy still has for now, remember how traumatic it is. If you never had it to begin with, just imagine losing someone or something that is very important to you. You would do just about anything to keep it from happening. This very painful process may take him years.
At once I both envy and pity you Caddy. I'm embarrassed to admit what I might give if I could just get it back. On the other hand I am glad I'm 9 years into being past this. It has been a long and hard road accepting logic. I'm well educated and believe myself to be fairly intelligent but some part of me must be really weak inside to want a supernatural superhero on my side. For me, therein lies the very unattractive truth.
Good luck (and if I may, bless you)on your journey. You can do it!
God Bless you as Well Lillith ( and keep you ).
I am so sorry for your loss. I grieve with you. I'm sorry to say that my wife ( of 28 years ) and I, made a willful ( and poor ) decision to terminate a pregnancy when we were 18 and unmarried. What was "taken" from you I willingly gave up, thinking of the child as an "inconvenience". Hard to imagine isn't it? My wife and I have looked back countless times and shed many a tear over that poor decision. I know that God forgives, but the "what ifs" never leave us. Never.
I am also reminded that we ALL suffer and die in this life. No one gets though it without considerable pain. No one. My thoughts run to what Dostoevsky said in Brother Karamazov:
"I am convinced that the hurt will form a scar and then become smooth, that the whole sorrowful comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a miserable phantom, like a ....weak, human, Euclidean understanding the size of an atom, and that finally at the end of the world, in the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will appear that it will be adequate for all hearts, for the stilling of all dissent, for the atonement of all blood that has been spilt, that will be adequate not only for the forgiveness, but also for the justification of all that has happened to man."
"For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is," said Dorothy Sayers "limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death--He had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile."
Caddy that explains a lot. I'm sorry for your loss. Plenty of people regret abortions. Plenty don't. I'm sorry that you've mired yourself in a belief system that punishes you and makes it impossible for you to get to your heaven. It must be a heavy burden to carry feeling like a fraud with other believers, worrying what rain of judgment you would experience if they ever found out. You don't have to swim in that pain. I'm quite sure this will fall on deaf ears, but I have to try-you can put this toxic belief system down as simply you picked it up. You'll notice I didn't say easy. There is nothing easy about it, as my presence here shows, but it is simple. Just set it down.
There is really only way for you to escape hell: Decide it doesn't exist. You CAN spend this life (perhaps the only life experience you will ever have) fearing everlasting damnation for ONE decision that negates any good you have done or ever will do in this world.
Rather than spend another minute trying to make up for something which BY DEFINITION you cannot make up for, decide to let it go. Let the guilt and shame go. Quit trying to dance as fast as you can to make it go away.
Wow. Lilith, will you go to the prom with me?
I second what Ty said.
that may be the most awesome thing i've read on the internet.
Lilith, I certainly empathize. Have even tried to go to church again. However, once the magicians tricks are exposed it is no longer magic is it?
One of my favorite quotes I have found that explains alot of what I have personally been thru is by Thomas Jefferson “The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory”
When you believe that is all you can do...believe. However, when the belief shatters, what are we to do? I'm still working thru my answer.
Caution is needed. A good friend of mine went thru similar and his journey led him to a very authoritarian cult. Haven't heard from him since.
I think part of the answer is the realization that we are whole. We have all we need. That doesn't mean that we don't seek friends or even perhaps worship experiences.
It just means that we don't need anything outside of ourselves to be complete. It also means that we are capable of finding our own answers. We don't need anyone else to tell us how to live our lives.
I don't see it as being a part of a belief system that "punishes me." You just told us that you were tormented for your loss, as I was. Are we not both human? Do we both not feel the sting of suffering and will we both not eventually die? Job had much more taken away than we could imagine, but His words did not end in bitterness and despair. Rather his words were, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." I trust there is meaning, as Dostoevsky's words above showed. He believed in meaning even though he suffered greatly in the hell-hole of Russia.
God the Creator does not have to answer to man the creature. He does not have to fill out a police report down at the station every time someone dies of a heart attack, or someone chooses to do harm to His fellow man. I believe our "fallen nature" explains our plight.
Life IS a "heavy burden" for ALL men and women. We all suffer in this life, some more than others. Job said, "man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." Is that not our common plight?
Also, why would you suppose I feel like a "fraud" because I understand--just like YOU--that in this life we suffer and we die? Some do not turn bitter because of it, Lilith. Bitterness manifest itself in despair and hopelessness. It makes a life ugly. I would ask: Do you have a piece of knowledge you can add to that that I don't have? No, I don't think you can. You still "swim" in pain do you not, as do I. Or can you now tell us you have shed all pain through denial? Do we deny the pain because we deny God? No! We can deny one but not the other. In the end we will not be able to deny either.
God is a merciful God, but there is no mercy for the man ( or woman ) who thinks she needs none, Lilith. Why would you think your words are falling on "deaf ears"? I see a woman who denies God because she has suffered a great loss. I hurt for you, but again, I have suffered too. All men suffer. Your plight is not uncommon in the history of man. Many men have suffered greatly down through the ages. But if there is no God, what does "loss" really mean, what is "pain" and suffering but just another part of our "meaninglessness"? As Dostoevsky stated, "if God doesn't exist everything is permissible." I'm sorry, I can grieve with you and understand your loss, but I cannot and will not turn to despair, bitterness ( and hopelessness ) because of it.
Words like "toxic" is telling. You say there is only one way to escape hell: "Decide it doesn't exist." Did your baby exist? Did she die? Did mine? Yes to both. I won't deny what I believe to be true just because I have suffered. Suffering must have a point or nothing really matters, Lillith. Not even the death of a child.
Many in this forum smugly dismiss purpose, reason because they suffer and think a Good God can't exist due to that fact. So why should any of us care about anything in history past given those principles?
I'll go a step further. If I am being intellectually honest here, I must acknowledge that God is the ultimate governor of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, genocides, and wars. This creates the "problem of evil" for us. How can a God who is infinitely just, kind, merciful, and loving ( which we Christians also affirm ) be the same one who unleashes these terrible "acts of God"? It is a good question, but it is one that can only be answered by embracing the problem. We solve the problem of evil by kissing the rod and the hand that wields it.
There is only one way to genuinely deal with the problem of evil. It is either "the problem of evil," which the Christian has, or "Evil? No Problem,", which the atheist has. Consider the tsunami for our premises. Lilith and I are talking about the pain of losing a single life. Her's was sadly taken and I sadly chose to take my own. What about evil and suffering on a mass scale, however? In a few short days we had a staggering number of those killed in the tsunami a few years ago. That number is now approached in Haiti. Sam Harris would say "one hundred thousand children were simultaneously torn from their mother's arms or casually drowned." Now I can only understand him ( and those in this forum ) being indignant with God over this if He is REALLY there. But what if He is "not" there? What follows then? This event had no more ultimate significance than a solar flare or a virus going extinct or a desolate asteroid colliding with another asteroid or the gradual loss of Alabama to kudzu or me scratching my head just now. These are just atoms banging around. This is what they do.
It is very clear from how many write and express themselves in this forum that they do not believe in God, that He just isn't there, and that you are also very angry with Him ( Lilith ) for not being there to save your child. Many of these people who were drowned in the tsunami were no doubt praying before they died. Many of you might throw that fact at us believers ( which you can do, because, believing in God, we do have a problem of evil). But if we throw it back to you, what must you say about the tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti and its effects?
It was a natural event driven by natural causes and has to be seen as an integral part of the natural order of things. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. These things happen. Take the words of appalling comfort that John Lennon wrote for us:
Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
But they are not living for today, not any more. Their bloated bodies are "dragged from the sea". In Haiti out from under toppled buildings. When their bodies are lined up on the beach and in the streets, you want to rage, but there is no object for your anger. There is no wall to punch. Because above you "and them" is "only sky." You want to rail against God, but He is not there. But that means He didn't do it. So who did? There is no who. Only sky above us and only dirt below. In short, you have no right to exhibit the slightest bit of indignation over the "neglect" that is being shown to these particular end products of mindless evolution. "Shit just happens." There is no neglect. Nature eats her own and will do so until every last sun has gone out. Deal with it.
You may want to turn this around and pretend that I say these things because I am calloused. I'm not calloused. Not a bit. I am a Christian and I know that death and evil and disasters are all enemies. We are not without natural affection. Pure religion visits widows and orphans in their affliction ( James 1:27 ). True religion is surprised at the last day to discover that God remembers all the acts of kindness done, down to the last drink of cold water ( Matt 25: 34-40 ). True religion will ask, "Lord, when did we do these things for you?" And He will reply. As Francis Schaeffer memorably put it, "He is there, and He is not silent."
Wow. Caddy, that was... well, it was substantive, and I could understand it. Nicely done.
Am having a hard time following your note but I'll give it a try and maybe my coffee will kick in and I'll understand it.
What I meant by being part of a belief system that punishes you,was Christianity in general. I don't know what particular denomination you belong to but it is my understanding that abortion is condemned by all as being worse than murder because it is done to an innocent. Murder of an already existing person could sometimes be forgiven such as in war or to punish someone who had, say, killed another. It has been a long time since I was in college(early 80's) but I remember that from my comparative religions class. I remember at the time thinking that at least we could agree on something. I have a friend who is a Rabbi and he told me (when I was carrying my daughter) that sometimes in Judaism abortion is not a sin. I don't know if that is their official law though. We had the discussion because 90% or more of pregnant women when faced with a fatal diagnosis choose to end their pregnancies early. It is not what I chose but I certainly understand. Living in constant terror really takes a toll on you. I also believe you can make a very good argument for not allowing a baby to suffer in the case of very sick babies. I could probably make a strong argument that the only moral thing to do is to end the suffering as soon as possible. That is one of the many reasons I find religions who just condemn all to hell for abortion without exception to be very sad and unfair. I understand that your child was healthy but this is a prime example of how getting sucked into these "moral" arguments quickly dissolves into convoluted, circular thinking.
I don't find the Dostoevsky quote to be valid for me. We are all part of societies and there is price or reward for everything we do. Kill someone-go to jail and face the ostracism of your people. Do good- such as raise your children well and they will care for you in your vulnerable old age. Steal and no one will hang out with you. I do think the quote would be wonderful if all the gods did die out, I think it would be much easier easier for folks around the world to get along. Imagine if no one had to hate someone because they were different?
This is on point with something I've been thinking about recently. If there was a way you could do a true cost/benefit analysis of religion across the world and across time, I wonder how it would turn out? So many have died fighting in religious wars and so many families have been destroyed from disagreements about gods on the one hand, but yet the god idea brings comfort to so many. I'm thinking if I was laying under rubble in Haiti I would probably pray when I couldn't scream anymore-the whole no atheists in fox-holes idea.
From my past experience when I believed in Heaven and Hell, the worry about going to Hell can be so overwhelming that it pulls you into this whirlpool of thinking in circles that is very hard to escape. I hate to think of you, or anyone else who made a decision they now regret, condemned in this life on earth to worrying about what awaits them. If you truly believe, as I did, that this life on earth is really only the blink of an eye and what awaits us (Heaven or Hell) is FOREVER now strikes me as very sad.
I don't deny God anymore than I deny Santa Claus. I just don't happen to believe that He, She or They exist anymore. I used to believe-now I don't. I'm not asking you not to believe, especially if it brings you comfort. Many time I wish I could still believe because it gave order to my world. A codified way of looking at the world. This is good. This is bad. Don't do bad.
The reason I said I thought my idea would fall on deaf ears is that from my experience, when you are in it, it is hard to see. The amazing part to me has been that when it is over, it is easy to see.
Just because I no longer think I will punished for the bad things I do, doesn't mean that I now do bad or fear doing bad. It doesn't mean that I don't find meaning in life. People, including me, find meaning in all things in life all the time. I can look at the rose in my garden and appreciate its beauty without also praising a god for making it.
I can teach my son to be good without threatening him with God's naughty or nice list.
I'm just out on the whole God causes earthquakes or hurricanes. Sorry. I just could never wrap my mind around a god who allows his children to suffer. I guess you either believe God is omnipotent or you don't. For me believing God causes earthquakes is like knowing I have a friend who can, but doesn't, feed his kids to teach them a lesson. I never could wrap my brain around the Old Testament God that loved the smell of burning human flesh.
Looking back, I was pretty choosy in what I believed and did not, in order to stomach the whole thing. I think that is pretty common. To this day I have lots of friends who believe in heaven but don't believe in hell. I did a lot of that, seeing only the good works I was called on to do and the brotherhood of man.
You said,'Many in this forum smugly dismiss purpose, reason because they suffer and think a Good God can't exist due to that fact. So why should any of us care about anything in history past given those principles?' To be clear I didn't quit believing in God because I suffered. Everybody suffers and everybody has good things in their lives. I quit believing in God because everything I had believed to be true didn't bear out in fact in the real world. Petek57 said it perfectly, 'However, once the magicians tricks are exposed it is no longer magic is it?'
At the end of her life Mother Teresa underwent at least three exorcisms. Yep you heard right. Perhaps the greatest embodiment of the spirit of a living Christ ever to walk the earth and she feared hell to the point of madness. I haven't picked lepers up out of the gutter and washed their sores recently-have you? She felt that since He no longer spoke to her and had not for 50 YEARS that He had turned His back on her. Now my personal belief is that if ANYONE is floating around heaven it is her so the fact that her god brought her so much pain just breaks my heart. Imagine how much better she might have been had she just served the poorest of poor and not had to answer to her god? What would she look like released from the chains of sin? Maybe there would be no more hungry children in India today. Teresa Unleashed!!
Caddy I do think I need mercy just not from a supernatural being. I ask mercy from you and those gathered here. I ask mercy from my husband, my son and my father.
I can't see the point to suffering. To use a recent example: I remember the video of that little boy in Haiti who had spent days trapped under rubble. Once rescued he smiled and immediately outstretched his arms. What is the meaning to his suffering? Haitians are known to be an extremely religious society. Hymns are heard nightly in their shanty towns. Was he getting too big for his britches? Did he need to be brought down an inch by suffering under his shack? Did he need to learn to be grateful for his pants even though he had no shoes? Did he need to be thankful for the dirt his mommy fed him to keep him from crying when he was hungry?
You said,'Suffering must have a point or nothing really matters, Lillith. Not even the death of a child." I am not trying to be argumentative Caddy, truly what is the "point" of his suffering? When it would get to this point in a conversation, I would have to resort to believing that I didn't know the mind of God and God's ways are not man's ways. That just doesn't work for me anymore, no matter how hard I may try, than my mother's explanation of how Santa gained entry to our home when we had no chimney.
In general, I hate for ANYONE to waste a minute on this big beautiful world worrying about a hell that may not exist, least of all you, who besides your manner, seem to be good guy. I attribute you manner to your zeal to hold on to your world view knowing it is slipping away. When I believed, truly believed, I never spent a minute on a website trying to convince anyone they were wrong nor had a conversation in real life about it. I found no reason to argue the existence of my god anymore than I found it necessary to argue the sky was blue. It just was.
From your last post,'In short, you have no right to exhibit the slightest bit of indignation over the "neglect" that is being shown to these particular end products of mindless evolution. "Shit just happens." There is no neglect. Nature eats her own and will do so until every last sun has gone out. Deal with it.' Just because you can't blame a god, or a religion for suffering doesn't mean you can't be sad about. On this earth, we have decided humans matter. Some of have decided animals matter (vegetarian here) Some of us have decided the environment matters (wacky green here too) When I see a human suffer or animal suffer I try to ameliorate that suffering. I adopt un-adoptable dogs, I stop and push a broken down car out of the street, I try to love everyone that crosses my path, I carry bugs outside my home, I feed the hungry and clothe the poor because they MATTER because we as a race have decided to one extent or another that THEY matter. I, as a single human, have decided what matters to me, based mainly on how what I do FEELS. If I love someone who has no one and she feels better, then that is good and I know it is because I feel good about it. If I send $10 to Haiti and the Red Cross uses it to buy a pair of crutches for someone who had their leg amputated then that is good thing and nobody that believes Haiti made a deal with the devil is going to convince me otherwise.
Humans assign meaning to things all the time. During the Renaissance if you fell off your horse you would faithfully record the time and date it happened because that was a "bad time" to ride horses. Depending on your culture, it is either wrong or perfectly OK to eat dogs. Saying "nature" is just another way of saying something outside of ourselves has dominion over us. It doesn't. No matter what, humans get to decide how they feel about any given set of facts. People of good will may disagree and that doesn't diminish either.
Good luck on your journey,
" We solve the problem of evil by kissing the rod and the hand that wields it."
"Evil? No Problem,", which the atheist has"
HA! what utter nonsense.
Might I add.......complete and utter nonsense
As if on cue, the following study is released:
Money quote (via Friendly Atheist)
"Citing several studies in moral psychology, the authors highlight the finding that despite differences in, or even an absence of, religious backgrounds, individuals show no difference in moral judgments for unfamiliar moral dilemmas. The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments."
In my view, a robust but godless moral framework can be constructed around the following pair of principles:
1. minimize unnecessary harm
2. where possible, maximize joy
The metric for sound moral reasoning is human happiness and suffering. It would appear that God, if he exists, disagrees. I can't help but feel that what you think of as morality would be better described as righteousness, meaning adherence to God's alleged will.
Wow, imagine that, you believe what someone wrote in a "book." You have faith in men who write in "a book" ( in this case a brand "new" study" ....WOW ! ) and I have faith in men who write in "a book."
The parallel's are staggeringly similar are they not? You "trust" and I "trust." Who we trust in makes up the difference.
Here's the key to your whole thesis: "The research suggest..."
I've got $$ on the fact that you agree with the study because it does ONE simple thing: It supports your point of view. There's just no way this "study" which "cites several studies" could be ANYTHING but the Atheist Gospel Truth, right?
Are you more than one person caddy? You were doing so well. This post, however, is... Well, it's bad.
I believe what is written in a book when it can be empirically proven - when I can review the methodology of what was produced and use my education and experience to follow my review to a conclusion of whether what I see is logically assembled or a load of claptrap. If I have a book that tells me how to put together a TV stand, for example, I can follow the instructions and determine if they work. If I see a written scientific study, I can review the methodology that the study authors followed and determine if it follows accepted scientific guidelines before I decide whether or not to sign on to their conclusions.
I have not reviewed the articles on the moral psychology study, so I am not drawing any conclusions about it at this time.
With the bible, on the other hand, I am asked to believe every word in it - and live my life around it - just because it's the bible. No empirical study can prove what is in the bible, nor is there an established body of archaeological or historical evidence to support the story of Jesus Christ. What there is is a lot of conflicting testimony that is not contemporary to the events that we are asked to accept on "faith" - and, actually, the point could also be made that many of the people who believe the bible believe it because it supports THEIR point of view.
How about "exactly" how the evolutionary process works in slow motion, step by step, piece by piece?
I'm with you on the TV thing, the Operational Science that tells me how to "recreate" something for myself, like a recipe. How about that recipe for evolution, created without a designer, from no one, from nothing. Print that up for me will ya?
I'll be here tomorrow. ** In his best ( Bill Lumbergh ) office space voice. "That'd be Great..."
JonJon: I'll try to sharpen up for ya tomorrow when I have more time on my hands. I do have "other" responsibilities. ** smiling **
Thank you so much for your post. I don't miss faith/religion, but sometimes I miss the idea of God who loves me and who gives me an Ultimate Purpose. Sometimes I feel like I just don't matter at all. I feel a loss for the "relationship" I had with "God" (read: the lovey dovey interpretation of the christian god of the book of John).
I have been working on replacing this belief system for years. Whatever my feelings of loss may be, I just cannot believe something I know not to be true. The sky on a clear day can never be fluorescent yellow green when I can clearly see that it is blue. As much as I like Harry Potter, he will never like me back. Bravo to you for bravely facing the difficult things that you have. You have my admiration.
Some Concluding remarks concerning your post. As to being a part of a belief system that punishes you: I am always curious as to why unbelievers look at belief in Christ as ONLY a "get out of Hell Free card." It is that for sure, but it is SO much more. It has become glaringly obvious to me when I discuss the Christian faith with my atheist friends this tends to be what they key on. They just can't see,( or won't see ) the picture of God loving people when they were unlovable, hateful, spiteful. If you can't picture that, surely you can picture a friend loving you on your worst day because he understood YOU. That's the picture we should have of Christ. Instead, we see Him as a Cosmic "Guru." If he doesn't heal our broken baby then we'll just deny Him because He didn't give me what I wanted. Or, in my case, how can God still love me after deciding that my own flesh was a hindrance to "my wants", "my life", "my hopes","my dreams"? All men and women "bargain" with God. All men & women, if they think God exists at all, is a Giant Genie in a Bottle. If HE doesn't do what I want, I will deny not only deny Him but make it my life's mission to mock and rail against something ( or someone ) I now know doesn't exist. Been there, done that. It's the attitude of a small child, a small, whining child.
I could point to numerous places in scripture that talks about God "knitting" our flesh together, how He formed us in the "inward" parts of our mothers, but I understand how Bible quotes just irritates the hell out of some, so I'll re-frame and just ask you to trust me on that one.
Concerning abortion, I don't think we "Can't Not Know" that when we do it, we are taking a life. Oh we can make a thousand different excuses: they all sound good to us at the time, but I am reminded of one simple fact in every case. It always comes down to "MY" will and what "I" want as opposed to having regard for another. This is really what sinful men and women do, Lillith. They do what "THEY" want, when they want it and they do not want to experience ANY consequences for those actions. I speak from experience on that one.
Those who will not accept conscience as a teacher must face it as an accuser. Count on it: if anyone invents a deintoxicating pill then drunkenness will increase; if anyone invents a perfect-memory pill there will be less knowledge in the world than before.
We don't want the freedom of the creature but the freedom of the Creator--not freedom to be good but freedom to determine the good--and that good when it is only self-regarding is highly suspect. Maybe this is not so new after all, for it was the first temptation: to be "like God, knowing good an evil." We got our wish.
RE: "I don't find the Dostoevsky quote Valid for me." But of course not Lilith. It's not hard at all to disagree with a firmly held position. I understand that. Concerning suffering however, it can't be denied. You point to the repercussions of doing something "bad" and I grant you that, but you have not gone deep enough into the question, namely this: What makes killing someone bad, stealing bad? Why do we do those thing, Lillith?
Maybe you'll find this portion of Dostoevsky the same, but I have found NOTHING more power than his section on the Grand Inquisitor:
You state "I think it would be much easier for folks around the world to get along. Imagine if no one had to hate someone because they were different."
First let me ask you WHY we are different? Let's explore that for just a second. There are people who actually like to harm people. There are men in our society that think it perfectly "ok" to "love young boys." There are people in our society, yes, religious zealots that think it "ok" to KILL in order to change the world's thinking. They are ALL different Lillith, but nobody really thinks their "individuality" is workable or "moral." Why?
My acknowledgment was not that morality has nothing to do with the supernatural, as you might think, but rather that morality has nothing to do with the supernatural IF you want to be an inconsistent atheist. Here is that point again, couched another way and tied into our topic of debate.
Among many other reasons, Christianity is good for the world because it makes hypocrisy a coherent concept. The Christian faith certainly condemns hypocrisy as such, but because there is a "fixed standard," this makes it possible for sinners to meet it or for flaming hypocrites to pretend that they are meeting it when they have no intention of doing so. Now my question for you is this: Is there such a thing as "atheist hypocrisy?" When another atheist makes different ethical choices than you do ( as Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot certainly did ),is there an overarching common standard for ALL atheist that you are obeying and which they are not obeying? After All Pol Pot was "different" by your standard was he not? On the other side of the spectrum of "individuality" would be all those men whose only thought was that of bringing sexual pleasure to themselves and to young boys. To use your words, "Imagine if no one had to 'hate' them because they were different?"
Given the above, your stated standard of "not hating" someone because they were "different" I have to press you on your "standard." After all, Lillith, YOUR standard is no doubt different than Daniels, than JonJon's, than Ty's, than LRAs. What IS the standard Lillith and what book did it come from? Why is it binding on them if they differ from you? And if there is not a common objective standard which binds all atheist, then would it not appear that the supernatural IS necessary in order to have a standard of morality that can be reasonably articulated and defended?
So I am not saying you have to believe in the supernatural, Lillith, in order to live as a responsible citizen. I am saying you have to believe in the supernatural in order to be able to give a rational and coherent account of why you believe yourself to be obligated to live this way. In order to prove me wrong here, you must do more than employ words like "casuistry" or "evasions" or "different" or phrases like, "wouldn't it be wonderful." You simply need to prove that rational account. Given atheism, objective morality follows...HOW?
In the Christian faith there is a "Standard" and it is coherent. It is coherent because it provides the "fixed" standard which atheism cannot provide and because it provides forgiveness of sins, which atheism cannot provide either. We need the direction of the standard because we are confused sinners. We need the forgiveness because we are guilty sinners. Atheism not only keeps the guilt, but it also keeps the confusion.
Concerning Mother Teresa. I had not heard of your story, so I poked around a bit. What I found differs from your account. I'll provide my sources. Maybe you could provide yours and we could compare notes:
"Along with the priest, Mother Teresa participated in a "prayer of protection: and "slept peacefully after that," he said. Catholic experts said it would be highly unusual for Mother Teresa to have undergone an exorcism. McBrien, who teaches at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. said exorcism is used only when the person is thought to be possessed by the devil."
This brings me to a deeper truth, however. Please consider my words are "educational" only concerning the Christian faith and are not intended as proselytizing. Salvation is "individual" We come to Christ not because of "what we do" but because of "What Christ Did." It's straight-forward and simple. Religion says "I obey" and thus am accepted by God. The Gospel says "I am accepted by God" and thus I obey. Nothing we "DO" puts us in good stead with God. Salvation requires NO WORK. It is totally free. The work comes after the act and there will always be "True Works" done by those truly saved. What am I saying? It is possible for the supposedly "great saints" to get the cart before the horse. Some people obviously try to work their way to God without an "inward" change. It happens all the time. No man can 'judge' another man's heart. What we can do however is to be "fruit" inspectors: By their fruits you will know them.
Luther stressed the notion that religion is the "default mode" of the human heart--and "even after you are converted by the gospel your heart will go back to operating on other principles unless you deliberately, repeatedly set it to gospel mode."
What makes a man or women faithful or generous is not just a redoubled effort to follow moral rules and do works of compassion. Rather, all change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the change that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting. This is what I hear from many atheist who used to be "supposedly" believers.
There is a story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German believer killed by Hitler for standing up to the 3rd Reich. His concern about "cheap grace," was eye-opening to many believers during his day, particularly in Hitler's Germany. The teaching stressed only that grace was free. He understood that a return to legalism was not the answer; rather, he stated, the focus should be on how seriously God takes sin and how he could save us from our sin at an infinite cost to Himself. It costs Bonhoeffer everything. Martin Luther's words still apply: "We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that remains alone." Nothing we "DO" can merit God's grace and favor. We can only believe that HE has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. He went on to say that, "if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serves God and our neighbors.
I have followed this thread on and off and finally decided to comment. First, I want you to know that I actually agree with much of what you said, or at least, I think you make good points. Also, I don't hate christianity or christians and you honestly don't seem like a bad guy at all. There is much historically that Christianity has done positive for western civilization, as well as negative. I really dislike the vicious personal attacks against you on this forum but as religion is highly emotional, you see them coming from believer and non-believers alike.
I'd like to comment on a few of your points that I disagree with, and please forgive me if I am repeating arguments already made and do not take this as a personal attack on you. I disagree with your ideology but this does not mean I think you're stupid, immoral, etc.
First is the misconception that you need god in order for there to be an "objective morality." I hear this over and over from christians. As far as I can tell, Christianity offers as little or less reasons for an objective morality. According to Christians, the standard for morality comes from the Biblical God. As far as I can tell, this "standard" appears to be whatever this god feels like at the time. If that means allowing slavery, killing all the innocent first born egyptians, punishing children for their parents' sins, or testing someone by telling them to sacrifice their child, then its okay. Some Christians go so far as to say that God can do whatever he wants because he's the sovereign arbiter of morality. But isn't that too a form of moral relativity? Morality is whatever God tells you to do or whatever he wants to do? Conceivably, God could order rape and torture at any time, because he is the source of the standard.
That aside, I personally do believe there is "an objective moral standard" regardless of God's existence. Morality has to do with how conscious beings treat each other. Morality is about people. You don't have moral concerns about a rock. We don't always know or agree on what exactly the specific moral rules are, but we all know the basics: love is better than hate, courage better than cowardice, honesty, respect, freedom and so forth all make life with our fellow creatures better. We don't have a perfect "science of morality" just as we don't have a perfect science about the atom, black holes or weather patterns. Perhaps we never will. We don't always know precisely what actions will cause the least harm and produce the most harmony. But we all know that in order to live together, we have to take into account the needs of the other. Some of us understand this better than others, just as some are more literate than others. Morality is a human description of an objective reality that we don't completely understand, but do have some inkling of. Just as we don't need God for algebra or physics to be an objectively true description of physical reality, we don't need God for an objective description of moral reality. Morality is a means to and end, and that end is "we can all be happy together." Or at the very least, avoid to some degree, making each other constantly miserable.
I think this is the crux of the Christian and Atheist disagreement about morality. A christian says morality comes from God's authority. Therefore rules and actions instigated by God that cause suffering or fail to prevent it are deemed morally acceptable, even imperative. Its about God's happiness, not men's. The secular view is that morality is not about authority, its about people. The rules exist to serve people not the other way around.
There is much fuss from christians about what science does not know. We don't know the origins of the beginning of life, we don't completely know where our moral instincts come from, we don't know why or what happened before the big bang. Christians tend to want to "insert god here" as the answer, as if gaps in human knowledge were proof of the supernatural. But hasn't this been done over and over before and found wrong? No one believes anymore that the sun is Apollo's chariot or that evil exists in the world because of pandora's box. Why should we now insert the modern day Christian God (or Brahman or Allah) as answers to these questions? Isn't it more reasonable to just admit ignorance than to use ancient texts and traditions as the answer the way our ancestors did with Apollo, Pandora and countless other discarded myths? I do not share some atheists "faith" that someday science will have all the answers. It might or it might not. But "not knowing" isn't proof of any deity or supernatural intervention. It just means we don't know.
I think this is enough for now from me. I'm sure you've heard much of this before but hopefully I have shed a little light on the secular worldview without being too dogmatic.
You mention that the default mode of religion is that men do good works to gain acceptance from God, and that the Gospel is you do good works AFTER acceptance from God. I do not think you can oversimplify all non-christian religions this way. I know in Zen Buddhism for example, you are not "earning" god's grace as there's not a concept of god or sin. Morality and wisdom are important for your own and others living in peace and harmony, but its not what the religion is about. Instead in zen, the importance is a life and mind changing enlightenment experience that brings you to a new understanding. In this the zen buddhist learns intrinsically his or her connection to everyone and everything else, rather than being an isolated, vulnerable, angry and frightened individual.
The faith versus works argument I believe is more of an internal christian controversy than something contradictory between christianity and all other religions. Different religions have varying opinions on what specifically the human problem is and how to solve it. Its not always "do xxx number of good works and be saved."
The bible says contradictory things on salvation such as "faith without works is dead." Luther picked the parts he thought were most important, and stressed them: "Faith alone, the bible alone..." etc. For the previous 1600 years of christian tradition, most assumed there was some combination of faith and works. Its not clear to me at least that Luther's protestantism is the "essential" christianity revealed in the bible, and in any case which bible? Luther's bible translations contained "the apocrypha" that catholics still have, and there were many disagreements before and after him on what should and should not be in the bible. Origen had books in his bible we no longer have, and he was missing ones we have now.
What a thoughtful & Gracious reply! Thank you. I think the personal attacks come because unbelievers always assume we want Hell for them. Nothing could be further from the truth, Fregas. I think genuine believers want the same mercy & grace they didn't deserve become a reality in the life of just "one more" person.
1. Concerning your point that "As far as I can tell, Christianity offers as little or less reasons for an objective morality."
Consider Lillith's statement "I think it would be much easier for folks around the world to get along. Imagine if no one had to hate someone because they were different."
Consider that there are billions of people in the world, Fregas. Do you ever ask yourself why we don't have that many "unstated" moralities? I think EVERYONE KNOWS and understands the "Natural Law" because it is inherit in our DNA. IT's God given.
To be sure, the wide world over people also carved out excuses for themselves. I must not take innocent human life--but only my tribe is human. I must not sleep with my neighbor's wife--but I can make my neighbor's mine. I must not mock deity--but I can ascribe deity to a created thing instead of the Creator. And so, not only was moral knowledge universal, but the determination to play tricks on moral knowledge was universal, too.
If you get ANYTHING I write, get this: A law was written on the heart of man, but it was everywhere entangled with the evasions and subterfuges of men. You know it as well as I do. God holds ALL men accountable for things that cannot deny. That's my point. Even so that law endured; and even so it was seen to endure.
Today all that has changed. A thinker who writes such words can no longer expect most people to agree. In fact he must expect most people to disagree. He will be told that the foundational moral principles are plainly NOT the same for all, probably not even as to rectitude, and certainty not as to knowledge. They may not even be right for all, and they are certainly not known by all. Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that Socialist and thieves hate having their pockets picked as badly as you do? Well, of course you believe that.
Example, don't we disagree profoundly about all three of the great matters--death, sex, and God? Consider death. An entire generation has now come of age taking for granted the liberty to kill one's children in the dim, soft refuge which was once considered the safest of all: the womb. I'm guilty as charged of this. Did I have guilty knowledge of my act at 18? You better believe I did! Still I chose based on things that had "EVERY THING" to do with ME personally and NOTHING to do with a moral law that I could NOT deny, even though I tried with ever fiber of "reason" I could possibly muster up.
The latest social movements seek to extend this strange liberty to other sorts of killing, especially infanticide and euthanasia. Whereas once it was thought that the helpless had the greatest claim on our protection, now it is held that they have the least. Most medical schools have rewritten the Hippocratic oath to accommodate the view that a physician may be a killer as well as a healer.
Need a good example? British bio-ethicist Jonathan Glover. According to this "expert," human beings do not have a "right" to life at all. Person-hood, he holds, is a matter of degree; some humans have more of it than others. He says that even some of those who do rate as persons have lives not worth living. One recalls the phrase of the early German euthanasia promoters--"life unworthy of life"--but Glover goes yet further. Even the weak principle "it is wrong to destroy a life which is worth living" is too strong for him, for he says one must consider "other" values, and "there is a "tacit 'other things being equal' clause." Occasionally it may even be right to kill someone who is not dying and who wants to go on living.
Abortion and infanticide are easier still. In Glover's view, neither of these acts is "directly" or intrinsically wrong. Abortion should be permitted at any stage, for any reason--even a late abortion because the parents want a boy, or because the mother's pregnancy "will prevent a holiday abroad." After all, he says, unborn babies are "replaceable."
So, Fregas, where's the "Standard" here? And do you see how even "bright" and intelligent men can "make their own way?
I dont' think for a second that we make up and devise our own "moralities" Fregas. I think it is innate within all of us and given by the creator.
The assumption behind all of this. We make up our foundational moral principles as we go along. They are not given, like the laws of arithmetic, but a product of culture, like the style of our architecture. If we don't like them, we can make up new ones. Traditional principles about the sanctity of human life and the horror of taking it from innocents may therefore be discarded when we have no further use for them; they dont' reflect authentic moral knowledge. They represent what previous people have invented, and if we would rather invent something different, we may. As Glover puts it: "The prospects of reviving belief in a moral law are dim. Looking for an external validation of morality is less effective than building breakwaters. Morality could be abandoned, or it can be re-created. It may survive in a more defensible form when seen to be a human creation. I don't buy that, Fregas. We can shape it consciously, he says, to serve people's needs and interests, and to reflect the things we most care about. The question remains, what if a group of people decide for themselves what is good for society and that group's decision is that the "group" would be better off if you were dead? Far-fetched? Not at all.
I think the universal common sense is less and less OUR common sense; disbelief in a common moral ground is becoming a pillar of middle class prejudice. People still, in some fashion, believe that it is wrong to murder, wrong to steal, wrong to cheat--wrong not for them but for everyone. But "my morality, your morality" is the language of everyday life, and the reigning platitude is, as Lillith would have it, "You shall not impose your morality on anyone else." All the while forgetting that that very platitude that one shall not impose his morality "imposes a morality." We all really know better, Fregas.
"I dont' think for a second that we make up and devise our own "moralities" Fregas. I think it is innate within all of us and given by the creator."
That groan you heard was a thousand child psychologists wanting to smack some sense into you.
Children who are not properly socialized (read: trained in how their society expects them to act) do NOT grow up with the same morals as those who are. In fact, detachment disorder is the natural outworking of a failure to socialize children, and most people with detachment disorder wind up in prison for violent crimes. Crimes which are often accompanied by an inability to understand what the big deal is.
Babies are sociopaths. Tiny, powerless sociopaths. Part of what parents do during the first couple years of life is train them not to be sociopaths.
See, you keep making statements like the one above with this sort of arrogant certainty, but in nearly every case it is clear you don't have any idea what you are actually talking about.
2. Re: "According to Christians, the standard for morality comes from the Biblical God. As far as I can tell, this "standard" appears to be whatever this god feels like at the time."
Not at all Fregas. God doesn't' change. What was true of Him in the O.T is true in the New.
Numbers 23:19 (ESV)
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Humanism speaks of man's goodness, but, practically, it moves in terms of man's depravity, because its plan for paradise is to coerce men into goodness as the state defines it. How has that worked out in history? Well, it hasn't worked out at all. Man's nature is the same as it was from day one. Political dominion and coercion are the humanistic means of coping with man's sin.
Christ's kingdom comes by grace and it restores man, whereas Political salvation suppresses. Keep in mind that Early god-filled ( there were scores and scores of deities )Rome sought to be the City of Justice and become a city which even its emperors abandoned for other havens.
Cicero hailed Octavian as a Savior. "In him we place our hopes of liberty; from him we have already received salvation ( Phillppes, V,VXIII, 49)." Cicero spoke of Rome as "the light of the world, the guardian of all nations." We have much in common with Old Rome. We have many "gods" and "idols" in American.
As far as "slavery" is concerned, I suggest you Rodney Stark's works.
Christianity did more for "women" an the "cause" of slavery than any other religion. I also suggest you read the VERY short book of Philemon in the N.T for perspective on what Paul thought of Slavery:
As to your mention of the "killing ALL of the 'innocent' new-born Egyptians. I would contend that the Biblical injunction here is that "NO MAN" is innocent before God. All stand before Him guilty. That natural laws proves that point. What commandment we have not broken in deed we have broken in thought. That was the whole point of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Why we do the things we "DO" is every bit as important as the "things" being done. The reason matters. The Egyptians had enslaved the Jews for 400 years. What they did was not done out of ignorance. They were just as guilty, as a Nation and as individuals as Any other nation. If you read the accounts of the O.T. you will see that the Jews themselves did NOT escape God's judgment. They were just as wayward and hard-hearted as the Egyptians were.
Caddy wrote: "I would contend that the Biblical injunction here is that 'NO MAN' is innocent before God. All stand before Him guilty. That natural laws proves that point. What commandment we have not broken in deed we have broken in thought."
But how does that apply to children? Newborns drowned in the global flood? What possible "sin" could they have committed?
Ty, The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality. We call affirming it "being judgmental" and "being intolerant", which is our way of saying that it has been judged and will not be tolerated.
I am in complete agreement on your statement of "Babies." I would add the caveat however that they are "fallen" sinful creatures that MUST BE TAUGHT, not out right sociopaths.
One is not "in denial" just because he denies that ice is cold, or that dogs normally have four legs. he might merely be mistaken; he might never have felt ice or seen dogs. Put right, the form of the indictment is "if your objection to P presupposes P, then you have not given us any grounds to disbelieve P; rather, you have given us grounds to think that you know P after all. Perhaps the older thinkers were correct after all. Perhaps the foundational moral principles really are the same for all not only as to rectitude but as to knowledge. Perhaps they really are not only right for all, but somehow known to all.
The common moral truths are no less plain to us today than they ever were. Our problem is not that there isn't a common moral ground, but that we would rather stand somewhere else. We are not in Dante's inferno, where even the sinners acknowledge the law which they have violated. We are in some other hell. The dinzens of our hell say that they don't know the law--or that there is no law--or that each makes the law for himself.
And they all really know better.
Again, Ty, the natural law is NOT innate, because we are NOT born knowing it--although as soon as the child is capable of understanding what is meant by "murder" and by "wrong", he is capable of recognizing that murder, in fact, is wrong. The natural law is not mere biological instinct--although it does take account of certain biological realities, for the practical requirements of love in the context of family life would no doubt be somewhat different among beings who had only one sex or whose young were ready to assume the responsibilities of adulthood as soon as they hatched out.
The natural law is not mere custom--although the customs of almost ALL times and places more or less acknowledge it. The natural law is not just a deceptive name for moral law as known through the Bible--although biblical law acknowledges it, conforms to it, and extends it. The natural law is not the same as the theories that philosophers construct about it--rather it is the reality which the theories attempt, with greater or lesser success, to describe.
Certain moral principles are not only right for all, but at some level known to all. They are the universal common sense of the human race, as well as the foundation of its uncommon sense. It makes a difference that they are right for all; otherwise there would be nothing for moral reasoning to be about now would there Ty? It makes a difference that they are known to all; otherwise, even though reasoning and persuasion would be about something, they could never get started.
To peer into the unknown, the mind must begin with what is KNOWN already. George Orwell wrote that "we have now sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent man."
My thought: We have educated ourselves into imbecility!
Common-Sense is Common-Sense. We ALL know it.
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