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Author Topic: not exactly black and white...  (Read 1624 times)

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Offline bokotousamuraiTopic starter

not exactly black and white...
« on: August 18, 2012, 12:03:11 PM »
Now this is just a couple of thoughts...

See, i get told again and again that god is the good guy and the devil is bad, and that it is just as simple a that.
but when i read the bible there was something that left an impression on me about god, it was the whole Issac and Abraham scene...
see i read this manga called Death Note, where the main character gets a black notebook that let's him kill people by writing their names in it, and can also control their time of death, the location, what they would do and other conditions, thus giving him limited control over his victims before they died. their were scenes earlier where he was testing to what extent he could control them, like having a prisoner in japan get to paris and die there in under an hour, which didn't work because it's physicly impossible. so, thinking back on it, wasn't god doing the same thing with Abraham and Issac? testing to see how much control he has over his followers, to the point that he would make them break his own commandments.

And don't forget that before he was the devil, lucifer was Gods right hand man, and all he did to get sent to hell and become the devil was that he didn't bow to god and tried to dethrone him. but this was during the same period where god was having his followers kill, pillage, and force women to become their wives. if you were under the command of someone who was doing or permiting messed up stuff would'nt try to do something about it?

And the devils job is torture sinners who haven't repented, isn't that kind of thing the more extreme christians approve of? how is he the bad guy in their eyes?

and this is just a theory but bare with me, the devil is a deceiver. that's something i've been told repeatedly as well, so...how do they know the god/jesus they worship isn't the devil tricking them? think about it, what better way to deceive people to then to make them believe your someone they trust? that's the whole point of deception.

going back to god, why is there even a devil in the first place? why would an almighty being need or even have and an enemy? why couldn't he just snap his fingers and make the devil disapaer into nothingness? better yet, make him a good guy?

in fact the whole concept of god makes the entire idea of this faith reduntant to me: why give people free will when you want them to do what you say? why expect humans to do good when you could just make them good? why play out this whole god vs. devil at the rapture nonsense i keep hearing? why ANYTHING? hes an almighty being who can get away with whatever he wants, he doesn't need to. and thats the thing; he doesn't NEED to, but he can if he WANTS to, so it stands to reason that the only explanation i can think for this lunacy that is god is that hes controlling, taunting, and playing with us just to amuse himself.

now, im not coming up with some crazy conspiracy here, but individually these things are worth pondering over. im just saying, there's nothing about the devil that ever suggests to me he's a bad guy. and i certianly don't think someone with the power to do anything, and get away with it, is a good guy. and thinking on these things, i can't really think this faith is as balck and white as it is made out, at least to me.

just some things to think about.

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2012, 01:05:25 PM »
Two additional points to ponder:

God is all-powerful.  He can do anything he wants.  He wants to give humans free will because we are created in His image.  God has free will.  Why shouldn't humans have it?

God is all-knowing.  He knows everything.  He knows all that has happened and is happening and will happen.  He knows not only what choices you are going to make but what will happen when you make those choices and what could have happened if you made another choice instead.  You life runs along threads of choices and all of those threads are in God's knowledge.

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2012, 01:21:26 PM »
Also, if you look at some of the depictions of Satan (particularly the entire book of Job, and Christ's 40 days in the wilderness), his role is that of the challenger, or 'adversary' if you want to get linguistic about it.  Yes, Satan is literally the epitome of the devil's advocate. 

A more pointed question, though, is 'Does your religious belief work for you?  Does it make you try to be a better person, and to accept the challenges to your faith?'  If it does, then does it really matter if God is perfectly good, or the Devil is perfectly evil, or if the Flying Spaghetti Monster is perfectly al dente?


Offline Starlequin

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2012, 01:31:06 PM »
Sounds to me like you've just worked out several of the core tenets/questions of gnosticism. Enjoy the trip down the rabbit hole...

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2012, 06:11:56 PM »
Sounds to me like you've just worked out several of the core tenets/questions of gnosticism. Enjoy the trip down the rabbit hole...

Take a rope and a lantern.. some heavy history down that hole.

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2012, 07:51:32 AM »
Two additional points to ponder:

God is all-powerful.  He can do anything he wants.  He wants to give humans free will because we are created in His image.  God has free will.  Why shouldn't humans have it?

Your question, I think, is answered by history. Human beings shouldn't be trusted with free will for the same reason infants shouldn't be trusted with shotguns.

Some more matters to ponder:

In the Abrahamic conception, God is perfect and humans fallible. How, then, can humans have been made in God's image?

If free will is the power to choose, does God not give up a part of his power in granting free will to humans? If he has given up part of his power, can he then still be all-powerful?

Quote
God is all-knowing.  He knows everything.  He knows all that has happened and is happening and will happen.  He knows not only what choices you are going to make but what will happen when you make those choices and what could have happened if you made another choice instead.  You life runs along threads of choices and all of those threads are in God's knowledge.

Omniscience is implied by God's eternal and timeless nature. Absent time, there can be no past and no future, and, presumably, no cause and no effect. All would simply exist at once. Our world, however, is a temporal one. It had a beginning and will have an end (science and religion seem agreed on the termini of the journey, though they differ in their understandings of each). In our timed world, causes precede effects. The existence of the world (effect) followed its creation (cause). How does a timeless God create a world in time -- a world of change, with a beginning and an end, with cause and effect? If God's existence may be demarked by the the before and after of our world's creation and end, and of all the ticking moments between, can his existence really be said to be eternal?   

Similarly, if God was all-powerful until he ceded free will to humans and was not thereafter (a cause and effect), can he be eternal?
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 08:00:32 AM by vtboy »

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 10:54:07 AM »
Your question, I think, is answered by history. Human beings shouldn't be trusted with free will for the same reason infants shouldn't be trusted with shotguns.


So what are you suggesting? That we be denied free will and made into God's perfect little worker drones?  Seems kind of counter-productive if you go with the belief that God made us in His Image. 

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2012, 11:11:04 AM »
@vtboy ~ Your argument here reminds me of my speech club moderator and his demonstration of circular logic. 

Breathing in pollutants will kill you so you need to stop breathing and die in order to not kill yourself by breathing.

God has free will and had a choice.  God made the choice to create humans.  God gave humans a free will.  It was his choice freely exercised.

Without that choice and our ability to think for ourselves we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Offline Shjade

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 03:59:09 PM »
God has free will and had a choice.  God made the choice to create humans.  God gave humans a free will.  It was his choice freely exercised.

Without that choice and our ability to think for ourselves we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I don't follow your reasoning. We could have just as easily been created with the idea that we chose to have this conversation planted in us without our actually choosing to do so. That we recognize having thoughts isn't proof that we're choosing the thoughts we have.

I've never understood the religions that propose God is both all-knowing and all-powerful while simultaneously claiming people have free will and that there is an 'adversary' to blame for evil happenings. When I am presented with these things, I am forced to come to the conclusion that one of two things has to be the case:

1 - God is all-knowing and all-powerful; evil that exists in the world is of his doing as much as good. If it exists in his creation he is responsible for it, regardless of what it is. Likewise, people do not make choices freely as their choices are predetermined by how this God chose to make them long before they existed; what they possess is, instead, the illusion of free will granted to them by an entity which knew what choices would be made before even enabling the option to make choices, in other words simply crafting known outcomes via indirect means.

2 - God isn't all-knowing or all-powerful, creating space for both actual free will and for external forces of "evil."

You can't have it both ways. At least I don't see how.

Offline Serephino

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2012, 04:15:21 PM »
Could God make us love him?  Probably.  However, think about it this way.  You develop an AI program.  You make all these little creatures, and design them to love you because we all want to be loved.  Wouldn't that be kinda empty?  What God wants is for us to turn to him because we want to.  That has meaning.  Billions of mindless drones at his feet will not fulfill the purpose he/she/it created us for.  God is not human, therefore, does not crave or want that kind of absolute power. 

To me, the Bible is just book full of stories.  Some may be true but distorted, and others, nothing but stories with a moral to it.  If the Abraham and Isaac story is true, maybe God just wanted to see exactly how intelligent Abraham was.  Maybe some other etherial being made a bet with God, who figured what the hell, why not?  Maybe God had faith in his little brain damaged idiot. 

Or... maybe that part was just put in by man to show the importance of obedience without question.  The church had a grand old time through the Middle Ages after all, getting all drunk on power.  The thing to keep in mind was the Bible was written by man, and some stuff was left out.  The Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and who knows what else was just tossed aside because it didn't serve those in the Council of Nicea (sp?). 

I see Lucifer as kind of a counterbalance.  As I've pointed out before, if there were no bad and ugly, there would also be no good and cuddly.  The little things that mean a lot would be an every day occurrence that you would end up taking for granted.  Instead, bad stuff happens, then someone comes along and offers you a kind word that makes you feel better.  Not to mention the fact that we would never learn anything.  We make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them, which is really the whole meaning of life anyway.

Offline Shjade

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 04:18:24 PM »
You make all these little creatures, and design them to love you because we all want to be loved.  Wouldn't that be kinda empty?  What God wants is for us to turn to him because we want to.  That has meaning.  Billions of mindless drones at his feet will not fulfill the purpose he/she/it created us for.  God is not human, therefore, does not crave or want that kind of absolute power. 

Doesn't that explanation fall apart at the point of "God is not human" followed by making assumptions about what something that isn't human and with whom you have no experience might want or enjoy based on what humans think and feel?

Considering some of the wrathful stuff described in the Old Testament this isn't a deity that's above being jealous, petty and childish when he feels like it. Maybe baseless adoration suits him just fine. Who knows?

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 05:27:06 PM »
So what are you suggesting? That we be denied free will and made into God's perfect little worker drones?  Seems kind of counter-productive if you go with the belief that God made us in His Image.

Actually, I believe that man imagined god in man's image. I also doubt we have free will.

But, if god does exist, and if he made man in his image, he must be very flawed. I can only think that a perfect god would have reserved free will for a more perfect creation.

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 05:58:56 PM »
@vtboy ~ Your argument here reminds me of my speech club moderator and his demonstration of circular logic. 

Breathing in pollutants will kill you so you need to stop breathing and die in order to not kill yourself by breathing.


Circular logic is the repetition of a premise as a conclusion. For example: Eating an apple a day will keep me from getting sick. I've eaten an apple a day, therefore I am not sick, despite these festering, black buboes all over my body.

There is nothing circular in my earlier post. Here is a different articulation of what I was getting at:

All powerful = the ability to control everything
Ability to control everything = ability to control the choices made by humans + ability to control everything else.
Giving humans free will = giving up the ability to control the choices made by humans 
Ability to control everything - ability to control the choices made by humans < all powerful

Where is the circularity in this?

Quote
God has free will and had a choice.  God made the choice to create humans.  God gave humans a free will.  It was his choice freely exercised.

Well, here I think you've given an excellent illustration of circularity: God has free will (premise). Because God has free will, his making of humans and imbuing them with free will, was an exercise of free will.
 
But, does God have free will? If God is perfect, as the Abrahamic religions seem to suggest, can he make any but perfect choices? If he can only make perfect ones, what does it mean to say that he has free will? In the making of decisions, he would seem to be as much a prisoner of his nature as a molecule bouncing about in a solution or a moth drawn to a flame.

Quote
Without that choice and our ability to think for ourselves we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Or this conversation, and the sense of free will, may just be products of biochemical processes, shaped to some degree by environment, over which we have no control whatsoever.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 06:12:55 PM by vtboy »

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2012, 06:04:10 PM »
If God is perfect, as the Abrahamic religions seem to suggest, can he make any but perfect choices?

Kirk:  Norman, Harry Mudd - always lies.  Everything he says - is a lie.
Harry Mudd:  Now, Norman, listen very carefully.  I am lying.

*Norman self-destructs in a fit of paradox*

Offline AndyZ

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 11:25:09 AM »
Now this is just a couple of thoughts...

See, i get told again and again that god is the good guy and the devil is bad, and that it is just as simple a that.
but when i read the bible there was something that left an impression on me about god, it was the whole Issac and Abraham scene...
see i read this manga called Death Note, where the main character gets a black notebook that let's him kill people by writing their names in it, and can also control their time of death, the location, what they would do and other conditions, thus giving him limited control over his victims before they died. their were scenes earlier where he was testing to what extent he could control them, like having a prisoner in japan get to paris and die there in under an hour, which didn't work because it's physicly impossible. so, thinking back on it, wasn't god doing the same thing with Abraham and Issac? testing to see how much control he has over his followers, to the point that he would make them break his own commandments.

Death Note's a pretty great anime, though I never read the manga.

Abraham and Isaac predate the ten commandments.  It's not a contradiction because the whole Thou Shalt Not Murder thing didn't exist yet.

Quote
And don't forget that before he was the devil, lucifer was Gods right hand man, and all he did to get sent to hell and become the devil was that he didn't bow to god and tried to dethrone him. but this was during the same period where god was having his followers kill, pillage, and force women to become their wives. if you were under the command of someone who was doing or permiting messed up stuff would'nt try to do something about it?

There's a lot of contradiction about Satan in the Bible.  I hear a lot that he rules Hell, but he spends time talking with Jesus in the New Testament, and the Book of Job has him walking around in Heaven during the Age of Man.

I've been reading a book about how Satan is that little voice in your heart that tells you how worthless you are, how you can't do it and you shouldn't even try.  Perhaps that will offer some perspective.

Honestly, I always got the view that Satan is a sadist.  God knew he'd be even before He created him, but loved him anyway, and put that evil to a purpose: testing people so that they could be made stronger through adversity.

Quote
And the devils job is torture sinners who haven't repented, isn't that kind of thing the more extreme christians approve of? how is he the bad guy in their eyes?

Not according to Jesus.  There's a lot of people who do some horrible things in the name of God, but it doesn't mean that God appreciates it.

Quote
and this is just a theory but bare with me, the devil is a deceiver. that's something i've been told repeatedly as well, so...how do they know the god/jesus they worship isn't the devil tricking them? think about it, what better way to deceive people to then to make them believe your someone they trust? that's the whole point of deception.

This one gets me a bit.  I think you've seen a movie or something where something evil pretends to be something good and draws in all the positive energy.  When you love God and put your faith in Him, there's no way for Satan to feed on that.

Quote
going back to god, why is there even a devil in the first place? why would an almighty being need or even have and an enemy? why couldn't he just snap his fingers and make the devil disapaer into nothingness? better yet, make him a good guy?

Would this truly be a good act?  Having created someone, even a sadist, would it be good and well to erase them or to reprogram them?  I can see the necessity if Satan was an unstoppable force, but since we have it within ourselves to fight and resist, either of those choices seems quite cruel, even if it could easily be argued that Satan deserves it.

Quote
in fact the whole concept of god makes the entire idea of this faith reduntant to me: why give people free will when you want them to do what you say? why expect humans to do good when you could just make them good? why play out this whole god vs. devil at the rapture nonsense i keep hearing? why ANYTHING? hes an almighty being who can get away with whatever he wants, he doesn't need to. and thats the thing; he doesn't NEED to, but he can if he WANTS to, so it stands to reason that the only explanation i can think for this lunacy that is god is that hes controlling, taunting, and playing with us just to amuse himself.

I think other people handled these parts nicely.

Quote
now, im not coming up with some crazy conspiracy here, but individually these things are worth pondering over. im just saying, there's nothing about the devil that ever suggests to me he's a bad guy. and i certianly don't think someone with the power to do anything, and get away with it, is a good guy. and thinking on these things, i can't really think this faith is as balck and white as it is made out, at least to me.

just some things to think about.

There's certainly an argument for living in a world without adversity, where everything is peaceful.  However, would that allow humanity to reach its full potential?  I'd say more, but Serephino did this really well, and I won't attempt to parrot it.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 03:05:44 PM »
I learned everything I needed about Christian theology by watching this episode of The Simpsons:

http://www.snpp.com/episodes/7F13.html

A highlight:

 At Sunday School...
   
   Miss Allbright:  Today's topic will be Hell.
   Kids:  Ooh.
   Bart:  All right. I sat through Mercy and I sat through Forgiveness.
          <Finally> we get to the good stuff.
   -- Sunday School, ``Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment''
   
   Miss Allbright: Hell is a terrible place.  Maggots are your sheet, worms
         your blanket, there's a lake of fire burning with sulfur.  You'll
         be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  As a matter of fact,
         if you actually saw hell, you'd be so frightened, you would die.
   Bart: [raises his hand] Oh, Miss Allbright.
   M.A.: Yes, Bart.
   Bart: Wouldn't you eventually get used to it, like in a hot tub?
   M.A.: No.
   Bart: [raises his hand]
   M.A.: Yes, Bart.
   Bart: Are there pirates in hell?
   M.A.: Yes.  Thousands of them.
   Bart: [rubs hands] Hoo hoo, baby!
   -- Sunday School, ``Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment''
   
 Miss Allbright goes on to say that to avoid eternal damnation, you must
 obey the Ten Commandments.  Lisa is particular frightened by number 8:
 `Thou shalt not steal.'  In the car on the ride home...
   
   Marge:  So, what did you children learn about today?
   Bart:   Hell.
   Homer:  Bart!
   Bart:   But that's what we learned about.
           I sure as HELL can't tell you we learned about HELL
           unless I say HELL, can't I?
   Homer:  Well, the lad has a point.
   Bart:   Hell, yes!
   Marge:  Bart!
   Bart:   [singing] Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell, ...
   Marge:  Bart, you're no longer in Sunday School.  Don't swear.
   -- Coming home from church, ``Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment''
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 03:23:44 PM by OldSchoolGamer »

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 03:39:46 PM »
Abraham and Isaac predate the ten commandments.  It's not a contradiction because the whole Thou Shalt Not Murder thing didn't exist yet.

Well, now, here's another illustration of the problem with the whole God is eternal thing.

Aren't God's laws supposed to be eternal? If there was a time before they were promulgated, how can they be?

If God's laws aren't eternal, perhaps they will be repealed one day.

Or, perhaps we can filibuster the attempt.

so, thinking back on it, wasn't god doing the same thing with Abraham and Issac? testing to see how much control he has over his followers, to the point that he would make them break his own commandments.

Or, more simply, was God just getting his rocks off? Or, put far more eloquently:

"As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods,
They kill us for their sport."

Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 4, Scene 1


« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 03:53:42 PM by vtboy »

Offline Shjade

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 04:09:43 PM »
Aren't God's laws supposed to be eternal? If there was a time before they were promulgated, how can they be?

For what it's worth, I can't recall having ever heard that God's laws are eternal, at least not taught via church lesson or through scripture. Given my memory it's completely possible I've just forgotten hearing it, but all the same.

That said, even if one ascribes to the theory that God's laws are eternal and immutable, they still wouldn't apply to the Abraham/Isaac situation specifically given that he hadn't shared them with mankind as yet if the whole Moses down from the mountain thing hadn't happened yet. The laws may have been in place, but given Abraham was ignorant of them, he couldn't be tested on them.

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2012, 07:20:31 PM »
For what it's worth, I can't recall having ever heard that God's laws are eternal, at least not taught via church lesson or through scripture. Given my memory it's completely possible I've just forgotten hearing it, but all the same.

I don't claim to be a theologian, but it is my understanding that the Abrahamic religions teach that divine law, coming from an eternal an immutable god, is likewise eternal and immutable.

Quote
That said, even if one ascribes to the theory that God's laws are eternal and immutable, they still wouldn't apply to the Abraham/Isaac situation specifically given that he hadn't shared them with mankind as yet if the whole Moses down from the mountain thing hadn't happened yet. The laws may have been in place, but given Abraham was ignorant of them, he couldn't be tested on them.

This is more of the logical incongruity I discussed in an earlier post which I believe inherent in the notion of an eternal divinity who intervenes in a temporal world. An eternal god is one who transcends time. Since change marks time, an eternal god, existing apart from time, must necessarily be changeless. For such a god, ideas don't come and go, there are no course corrections, there is no before and after. Since the act of revelation necessarily implies a time before the revelation and a time after, a god who wakes up one morning and decides that this now, of all nows, is a good now to lay down the law to a bunch of itinerant idol worshippers cannot claim to be eternal. Neither can his law.   

Offline Shjade

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2012, 08:28:52 PM »
This is more of the logical incongruity I discussed in an earlier post which I believe inherent in the notion of an eternal divinity who intervenes in a temporal world. An eternal god is one who transcends time. Since change marks time, an eternal god, existing apart from time, must necessarily be changeless. For such a god, ideas don't come and go, there are no course corrections, there is no before and after. Since the act of revelation necessarily implies a time before the revelation and a time after, a god who wakes up one morning and decides that this now, of all nows, is a good now to lay down the law to a bunch of itinerant idol worshippers cannot claim to be eternal. Neither can his law.   

I don't necessarily see incongruity in that. Eternal doesn't necessitate being apart from time. Consider the Dr. Manhattan iteration of time perception, wherein he is persistently aware of all of the past and future at once, but only in the sense of what is going to happen or has already happened, not in a way that informs a decision-making process. He is aware that at a point in the future he fails to save the life of a woman who is shot in front of him, despite having the power to do so, and yet, when that time arrives, he does not attempt to save said woman's life despite having the power to do so and having known in advance (a concept foreign to him since every moment is always "now" when experiencing the entire continuum of time at once) that she would be shot.

I would see it less as having made the decision to share the law at a certain point in time and more the knowledge that at a certain point in time the law would be shared. That there are events before and after that event does not have any impact on how they are laid out. Further, experiencing change is not a detractor from eternity. Continual existence does not require continual consistency of form.

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2012, 10:11:12 AM »
I don't necessarily see incongruity in that. Eternal doesn't necessitate being apart from time. Consider the Dr. Manhattan iteration of time perception, wherein he is persistently aware of all of the past and future at once, but only in the sense of what is going to happen or has already happened, not in a way that informs a decision-making process. He is aware that at a point in the future he fails to save the life of a woman who is shot in front of him, despite having the power to do so, and yet, when that time arrives, he does not attempt to save said woman's life despite having the power to do so and having known in advance (a concept foreign to him since every moment is always "now" when experiencing the entire continuum of time at once) that she would be shot.

I would see it less as having made the decision to share the law at a certain point in time and more the knowledge that at a certain point in time the law would be shared. That there are events before and after that event does not have any impact on how they are laid out. Further, experiencing change is not a detractor from eternity. Continual existence does not require continual consistency of form.

I am not familiar with the omniscient Dr. Manhattan but, from your description, it appears that he merely perceives all moments in time, not as flowing, but as part of a stagnant "now" he cannot alter. In his inability to affect events, he is very different from the interventionist god, posited by the religions with which I am most familiar. That god responds to events and alters their consequences by, for example, tossing Adam and Eve from the garden, flooding the earth, parting its seas, knocking up at least one virgin, performing the occasional miracle, and answering the prayers of the faithful (though he seems to have ignored those of Tim Tebow this last post-season). It is god's intervention in a world with flowing time -- his entanglement in its chains of cause and effect -- that is, in my view, irreconcilable with the eternal and immutable nature attributed to him.

I have also always understood that the major western religions conceive of god as omnipotent, an attribute which seems to go hand in glove with his persistent tinkering with our transitory world. If, however, god, like Dr. Manhattan, is unable to affect events, and is doomed to live with them as they have occurred, are occurring, and always will occur in some immutable now, it would seem his omniscience no more betokens omnipotence than does Dr. Manhattan's.

And, if god was not the first cause -- as seems a necessary implication of his inability to affect events -- he is no more satisfying an explanation of the existence of all else, than is the notion that all else exists without cause. What then do we need him for?     
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 03:15:19 PM by vtboy »

Offline AndyZ

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2012, 11:11:23 PM »
I didn't click this one to Notify.  Sorry I took so long to respond.

Quote from: John 13 34 KJV
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Commandment

So, the eternal and immutable ten idea doesn't quite hold up for Christians.

Now, that said, it doesn't mean that pre-covenant murder was acceptable.  I would simply venture that anyone who was willing to listen to the Lord at the time didn't need to have those laws explained.  If I remember correctly, Moses was the first real time when a large number of people were all worshipping God at the same time, so it makes sense that a set of given rules had to be put down.

You can argue that Abraham shouldn't sacrifice Isaac.  That's a no-brainer, but that was more of a test.  I'll cede that life's tests are exceptionally difficult and don't seem to make any sense, though many people of faith believe that there's a reason why these things happen.

Some of these things are rather obvious, such as that a thunderbolt doesn't strike dead a person about to commit murder.  That's free will, and if we would be instantly slain before being able to commit an act, we are not free to then take such an act.

The way it's usually explained to me is that we are tested the same way any parent will test children who think that the parent isn't watching.  Now, this implies that we're being tested for something, and crap if I know what we're being tested for, but I always found it more likely that we're having our souls strengthened through adversity than that God merely enjoys sadism.

Offline vtboy

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2012, 07:46:28 AM »
I didn't click this one to Notify.  Sorry I took so long to respond.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Commandment

So, the eternal and immutable ten idea doesn't quite hold up for Christians.

Another Christian mystery, I guess.

Quote
Now, that said, it doesn't mean that pre-covenant murder was acceptable.  I would simply venture that anyone who was willing to listen to the Lord at the time didn't need to have those laws explained.  If I remember correctly, Moses was the first real time when a large number of people were all worshipping God at the same time, so it makes sense that a set of given rules had to be put down.

But, who was the Lord before Mt. Sinai? And had god ever previously been spelled with a capital "G"? Monotheism emerged in a polytheistic world in which gods had complicated, jealous, and spite filled relationships, as well as competing claims to the mortal world.

I think the more appealing view of the doings at Mt. Sinai is of one god among the pagan pantheon staking out his turf, differentiating himself from the rest, and laying down his law to his new subjects. Take, for example, the first commandment, which reads very much as an introduction and a demand for fealty:"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me" (emphasis added). In other words, "I saved your ass; now it's mine."

And, consider also, the Second, in which Yahweh follows his prohibition of idolatry with this warning: "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous god..." (emphasis added).

Yahweh makes no claim here that he is the one true god or the author of all, that his laws are eternal, or that his laws are binding on anyone but these hapless desert wanderers he has now claimed as his own. Rather, this is very much a turf thing, followed shortly by enfeoffment with god's deeding to them the Land of Milk and Honey, sealing the covenant.

There may well have been prohibitions of murder attributed to one or another deity before Mt. Sinai, but none, I think, would have been considered universal, eternal and necessary to an ordered universe. And, I suspect, it was quite some time after the proclamation of the Big Ten before they achieved this status in human imagination.

« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 07:50:01 AM by vtboy »

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Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2012, 08:12:50 AM »
Minor historical point.  Monotheism had been experimented with before.  The Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV ('Amun is Satisfied') changed his name to Akenaten ('Living spirit of Aten') and declared that there was only one god - the Aten, represented by a solar disk with rays that handed (yes, with actual hands) the ankh (life) to mankind - or at least specifically to the Pharaoh.  It didn't go over too well when he disavowed all the old gods and their worship.  When he died, his son, Tutankhaten ('Living image of Aten'), ended the ban on the old religion, and changed his name to Tutankhamun.

Offline AndyZ

Re: not exactly black and white...
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2012, 03:02:06 PM »
There's a number of hypotheses on the prophets.  My personal belief is that God works through the prophets by giving them information which is tempered through their own minds, although I never looked into it in any significant detail.

I do know that other than the ten commandments, not everything that Moses gave was as immutable, as displayed below:

Quote from: Matthew 19 NIV
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

It's possible that Moses believed that there were other gods, as did others of the time.  Moses may also have been attempting to frighten his followers because he was having such a hard time with them.  The latter really wouldn't surprise me, especially given how sick he was getting of them towards the end.

Alternatively, if we look at worship as love, it doesn't really matter whether or not there are other gods.  In a monogamous relationship, we don't want our lovers fantasizing about celebrities or our neighbors when they're devoted to us, even if our lovers have absolutely no chance with that person.  Now, in some relationships, people are okay with that, but God is not.

As far as not affecting anyone but the Jews, that comes up in Christianity during Acts 10.  God sends Peter a vision where he's given lots of unclean food and told to eat it.  Peter says no, because it's unclean, and God chastises him by saying that He's made it clean.  Immediately afterward, Peter meets up with non-Jews who want to convert, and realizes that the vision means that salvation isn't only given to the Jewish race.

My personal understanding is that everyone has the choice whether they want to choose and accept God.  The universe doesn't force you, but since the Christian afterlife only consists of Heaven and Hell (and sometimes Purgatory, depending on denomination), turning your back on God (and thus Heaven) pretty much guarantees your final state.  The Christian view for those who prefer Hell isn't so much an abject defiance of the possibility as complete bafflement that anyone would want such a thing.

Christians don't believe in either reincarnation or oblivion.  I can give my personal thoughts on either, but I'm likely off topic by this point.

I hope this helps clarify at least a little.