The great thing about God is He’s chalk full of admirable traits; He’s kind, loving, just, merciful, Republican, and He hates all the same things we hate. He’s also perfect — perfectly good, perfectly just, and perfectly merciful. Or is He?
Dan Barker (former preacher turned atheist) often points out that a perfectly just and perfectly merciful God cannot exist, because any extension of mercy necessitates a suspension of justice.
For example, if God allows someone into heaven who truly “deserved” to go to hell, then He is being merciful, but not just. But if He sends them to hell, then He is just, but not merciful.
And yet, the Bible seems to insist that God is both just and merciful…
And therefore will Jehovah wait… that he may have mercy upon you: for Jehovah is a God of justice.
~ Isaiah 30:18
His work is perfect; For all his ways are justice.
~ Deuteronomy 32:4
With everlasting lovingkindness will I have mercy on thee, saith Jehovah thy Redeemer.
~ Isaiah 54:8
I will have mercy on whom I have mercy…
~ Romans 9:15
A tale of two judges
To put it another way, imagine there are two judges at either end of this extreme. The perfectly merciful judge absolves everyone of all their crimes. The perfectly just judge, on the other hand, consistently passes down appropriate sentences.
Now imagine that these two judges are one in the same person. How can a judge simultaneously dismiss and demand punishment? If God operates on absolutes, He must do either one or the other.
Can Jesus save us from this contradiction?
Maybe we can get out of this contradiction by assuming that God isn’t actually being merciful, because someone else is paying the price for our transgressions — Jesus! But how exactly this exchange takes place is a bit of a mystery.
It’s definitely not a quid pro quo or eye-for-an-eye exchange, as Jesus is not taking our place in hell. If he’s sitting at the right hand of God, then he can’t possibly be taking on the full extent of our punishment.
If God is not demanding that someone pay the price for our sins, then perhaps God is just forgiving us because we had faith in Jesus. The problem is, if no one is being punished for our sins, then God is back to showing mercy again, and is no longer administering perfect justice. And even if God did punish Jesus for our sins, then we can’t say He’s perfectly just, because He allows the guilty to be rewarded while an innocent scapegoat is punished.
Mercy for some, but justice for all?
The problem with the above objections is that they don’t take into account who defines what is justice. If it is God, then it could be argued, and I think reasonably so, that God’s definition of justice may include an escape clause for those who sincerely repent.
If such is the case, then God could be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just. His justice is perfectly applied to everyone, and His mercy is perfectly applied to those who have repented under that system of justice. Ergo, mercy is no longer a suspension of justice, because extending mercy is a part of justice.
Our earthly systems of justice operate in much the same way, as we often extend mercy to those who have shown remorse for their crimes.
And this explanation also seems to sync with the Bible, since God is said to be perfectly just in all His ways (Deut 32:4) but (as far as I know) it never promises perfect mercy to all people.
Do I have problems with this system of justice? Possibly, because unless God makes it perfectly clear that He exists and that the Bible is His truth, then we may end up in hell over a simple misunderstanding, which doesn’t seem very just. Unless… of course… God says it’s just, in which case we’re all just screwed.
But I’m a reasonable man, and I have no problem confessing my shortcomings to a creator god whose existence is clear and undeniable. But if it’s not made clear, then I must also repent to Zeus, Ra, Baal, Mithras, Vishnu, Ahura Mazda and a thousand other imagined gods… because it’s all just the same.
So I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to say that God could be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just, so as long as perfect justice allows for mercy. If such is the case, then God would be unjust if He didn’t allow for mercy.
[And for the record, yes, I did just defend a Christian viewpoint against an atheist objection. Hopefully this demonstrates my willingness to side with sound reasoning over any personal bias.]
UPDATE: God is Love
Just when I thought I had it all figured out, someone points out that God’s defining characteristic isn’t justice or mercy, it’s love! And God’s not just loving, He is love (1 John 4:8). That being the case, God would almost certainly have to place mercy above justice, and the contradiction remains.
So why obey any commands if you think god is imaginary eh? No amount of wiggling will get you out of the fact that the morals you are proposing are culturally relative and thus on the constant move. It used to be illegal to be gay and caused a moral outcry a few years ago. Now being gay is ok. But whats coming next?
Or even worse:
Horrors you might say. But so did previous generations about gays.
Cohabiting is hurtful says the studies. Drug use is on the rise and it sure ain’t the christians who are to blame. But hey! Who am I to rain on this sexual liberation parade.
For a God it is easy for Him to be merciful for those that believe in Him and do constant good (and reject false believers). And perfectly reasonable for Him to throw evildoers in to the eternal suffering. There you go. Merciful and just.
BHS, now you are being silly. 😉 Right? Morals is culturally relative. I totally agree on that. It is the very meaning of the word. I thought as much was clear by now. Ethics are not, exept by the amount of information to what we base our ethical views sometimes depends on our culture. Some ethics should be easy to understand even with the minimum amount of information. To quote freely from an imaginary cartoon policeman: “If you do not see what is different with two consenting adults having sex in comparrison to having sex with animals, or children, never have pets, nor kids.” Ethics defines having sex with a child as bad, because the child is not an equal partner and would obviously be harmed by such. Swinging is the option of adult people. Christians are known to engage in that (though propably not your kind of Christians). 🙂 It is silly and in my opinion might be harmfull, but that is for them selves to decide. It can not be stopped by a law against it. It may be restricted by social controll, but as said before, such controll in a society usually does not make anybody happier. Exept of course, those people who enjoy controlling other people.
There are no objective moral standards, exept what is defined by ethics. Previous generations also thought that women should not have the right to vote. They were wrong, though this issue is not in any way confronted by any religious scriptures. Correct? Previous generations to those thought that kings have the right even to abuse their subjects because, their power was thought to be derived from a god. No gods ever appeared to tell them they were wrong. Why? People had to figure it out themselves through ethical process, but it took generations and in the meantime those generations were abused by those kings in power, who themselves thought they had that right directly from a god. Morals are constantly under cultural evolution. Did you not know this? Hopefully for the more open and tolerant society. Right?
What studies say cohabitation is hurtfull? In what way? Most Finnish couples live in cohabitation and some of them for years before they get married. Not all of them shall even ever marry. I have no information how this even could be harmfull, exept legally when going through a last will.
What causes the drug abuse? Lack of morals? Or the dead end situations people find themselves in a harsh, competitive and condemning society? Actually it is curious how often people find religion in a similar situation as when they become drug abusers. Both are mind numbing, but not necessarily problem solving. I grant you, that most often religion seems less harmfull to the individual her/himself than the drug abuse. 😉 Sometimes however, religious converts may be more harmfull for other people. That is if they have converted into religions that demand to controll other people by moral standards taken from ancient books, that have nothing to do with any ethical logic, but represent arbitrary and malicious moralism. The problem with gods, you see, is that they are far too easily seen above any ethics and then their rules, no matter how harmfull, are expected by the believers to be taken as such, without question. Gods are presented to us as the supreme authority. Such authority should be backed up by universal acceptance, but that is not very likely to happen, is it? Especially since all gods demand faith, instead of manifesting themselves anywhere.
Handing out mercy according to faith, and leaving other people outside is favorism. That is not ethical by any measure. It is not a mercifull act, but a vicious and malevolent deed of tribal moralism. Sort of cultural racism. However, since it is most likely completely imaginary event in the alledged afterlife, that only represents wishfull thinking typical of men, it is not such a serious matter. Exept, that it brings out the ethical problem in the moral standards of such a great number of people. Is there really such a great number of people who base their morals on moralism rather than on ethics? Or is it only a cultural backround story, that does not really affect the ethics of most everyday people even among the adherents of such religions, that demand this ideal to be moral?
The problem of deciding about the false believers lies in, that most gods define other religions as false, but there is no way of determining wich is a false religion and wich is not (exept perhaps asking about 500 Questions about ethics presented by a religion). As mentioned allready a dozen times before, most people choose what is the right religion, by simply embracing the one that comes culturally to them.
Now you have a bunch of people between those few who have happened to be lucky enough to choose a correct god to believe in and do good (and reject other gods), and those people who could be defined as “evildoers”. In fact most people in the world would fall under that gategory in between. Right? What about us? Do you think we deserve just punishment in eternal torment, or mercy to join the chorus to water the pot plants in eternal bliss?
Eternal suffering is not just. Not for any crime a man may achieve in human lifetime. That is an absurd, malicious and evil assumption.
Perhaps you could come up with more original and somehow logically explained reason to think these things are just, or mercifull other than just writing third person describing your favourite divinity with a capital letter. 😉 Sorry. I know I am asking too much.
I think your problem with God is your postmodern way of thinking. Everything in this kind of morals is just a gray mush. God gives us clear distinctions between good and evil. And has the authority to judge people according to their actions. In my opinion He sets the moral standard that is ethical and good for us and is right to do so.
“Looking at the criticisms that have been raised against religion, I would estimate that the real motivation for religious disbelief breaks down about like this: sex, 75%; hatred of authority in general, 10%; economic injustice, 8%; war and oppression, 6%; serious intellectual concerns, 1%; serious intellectual concerns based on actual study of what theologians have said: too small to register.”
Interpreting bible is a lost art. We can go trough some parts of the bible in the future that might seem strange from postmodern view. I assure you they are not as strange as atheist think. They like to take just a small portion of there scripture to use it to make it’s worst. This is not how you read the Bible. So let’s continue conversation about that in the future 😉
I see also a chillg trend in the ethics of the wold today. I’m not kidding when I showed that man/boy horror. It is a real political pressure group that is biding it’s time to strike it to mainstream. How do I know? Think about the slide of morals in big and small things. Like cohabiting. Next is euthanasia. Then it is a small leap to legalize drugs.
All of these are harmful as shown in the studies, not to mention ethically. Yet popular demand is driving them towards mainstream. I hereby predict that next is open marriage and then it is time for man/boy group. Even we clearly know these are harmful.
Atually I sowed you link earlier about secular scientist that said that we still need God for morals. So even if you can not personally like God don’t fight a cause that benefits you 🙂
BHS, the study you presented about cohabitation showed that the ethnicity of the people had more to do with their marriages to stand longer, than their history of cohabitation. In effect, what it describes is cultural causes for longer marriages. Now, assuming this is not just one study pointing into that direction, we need to ask wether it is even an exclusively good thing, that marriages last longer. In a society, that has no social security net for single mothers, a two parent family is the ideal, because if the father leaves the family, the kids and mom a have serious economical crisis of survival. But a lasting marriage is not necessarily the best option, not even if the couple have kids. One of the parents might be abusive in so many ways to one or all the members of the family. Like I said previously, all my friends who have been brought up by single moms have proven to be quite OK in life. All this study really points to, is that people who come from a culture where cohabitation is not condemned are more indipendend, self secure and readier to honestly seek new opportunities, if their first marriage did not work out. Yes, that could be potentially harmfull, but it is not that as such. Responsible people act responsibly even in a divorce situation. Yes? Irresponsible people act irresponsibly even in a life long marriage. Correct?
Yes, my thinking is that of a postmodern person. How could it not be that? Are you thinking like a bronze age person? I certainly hope not, though it might be you have some cultural heritage weight from those times you carry around with you. As we all do. 😉 Ethics and morals both hold some grey areas. Nothing is black and white, there might be objective absolutes in those issues, but who has the monopoly on those? In real life there are differences of shade in the grey. A child lives in a black and white world, because a child knows so little and is only just learning the perimeters of right and wrong. To all adults these issues are more or less in the gray areas because we have grown to know our limitations as humans and because we no longer seek the child like safety from extremes. Exept the fanatic. To the fanatic there is only good and evil. But I do not think you are fanatic, you have proven yourself a thinking person. Do not be led by fanatics, or demagogues.
Is it not a suspiciously crappy attempt from an alledgedly omnipotent entity to contact us humans to tell some guys to write a book, that is near impossible to interprete? If it really was a clear message, the clear message that was transmitted, would not produce thousands of denominations calling each other heretics. Why would an omnipotent, not to speak perfectly just and perfectly mercifull god send people to distribute this message, and not deliver itself? Resting it on the shoulders of men diminishes it to the same level as all the other religions spread by the very same means of preaching and conquest. We are not asked to believe in a god, but to believe some people who say there is a god. That is a big difference, is it not?
However, the Bible is not at all a strange and mysterious book, if you look at it from the point of view of an atheist. And if you are aware of the historical and cultural phenomenons around the time of writing, it becomes rather easy to interprete. It is far more simplier to explain from the view of cultural history and basic psychology, than it ever was theologically.
I see your fear. But remember, that people make bad descions when inspired by fear. Spreading fear is the most simple tool in the demagogue toolbag. They tell you that if you allow some changes to the secure society around you, then all the evil will come in flying. A simple example. Many politicians have made the unintelligent claim that if homosexuals get to have equal rights with heterosexuals, we are somehow bound to give in to pedophiles. They are playing with the fears of the mob, but the thing they suggest is a blatant lie. As you propably know. Just to make sure, I am not accusing you of being a demagogue. 🙂 It seems, you have become a victim of some. The terrible future possiblities you fear, like the boy/man stuff you linked, needs to be examined and if they are (as it would obviously seem to be) harmfull, then they are unethical and should be rejected from that point of view, not because there is this or that arbitrary set of divine rules, that either condemn such, or does not. Let us not forget that the present day major problem about “boy/man groups” is within Christianity and born of that religious culture of sexual rrepression and frustration.
The peresentages that you presented are more representative of the issues by wich Christianity profiles itself in the modern society. I am no claiming it is intentional. But since the sexual liberation in western societies as a result of contraception and the more open and liberal society that does not condemn homosexuality, simply because there is no ethical reason to do so, many religions and their age old codes about sexuality have simply become obsolete. That is why sexuality is such a big issue around religions. Religions are the fortresses of conservatism often even in such issues as sexuality, emancipation, and gender.
Hatred for authorities does not come from nothing. When people get really emotional about that, it is most often a direct result of the power based on authority being first abused. Religions tend to be like any other human social constructs in that they constantly abuse power. Conservative values are often based on authority and not on reason. That is abusing authoritarian power. Result may be hate, but it may simply be also skepticism.
Economic injustice is a big problem in the world. A social group based around a religion may take up the issue of helping the people who have been trampled by the economical powers that be. However, no god ever interferes in such or any other sort of injustices. Not even for the people who are completely defenceless in face of violence. That has nothing to do with free will, since those who suffer have no free will in the matter. All that kind of might cause people to feel being let down by a supposedly omnipotent, benevolent, perfectly just and perfectly mercifull god. They might, quite justifiably, come to the conclusion that this god is a lie. I suppose the same goes for war and suppression that might have even more dramatic impact on the life of people, though they rarely appear without the economical injustice.
Do you honestly think that I represent an insignificant group of people by presenting “serious intellectual problems”. Or do you actually think my views are not serious at all? Are we again counting noses to show what is true, or not?
What the theologians say has no meaning at all. theology is the antithesis of science, it is the only thing to be called “science” where the end result is decided before the study. Nature around us needs educated people to interprete the many complicated wonders, but the word of a god, if that god had some message this entity wanted to tell to mankind, should not be depended on the apologetics of theologians. It should be clear as a day, to all humans. Why should it not be? But it is not. Why? Because we have no evidence, that such a message even exists. Actually we have several such messages, that all are mere myths, written by men. Or to be more precise, they all have the components of myths. They all demand that we reject the others, but none stands out, unless we are culturally inclined to have faith on one of them.
Once again, the links you provided, would require a much longer answer, but there is no room and besides they are totally of topic.
All societies have legal and illegal drugs. Euthanasia is constantly used method in medicine. It is important that societies discuss wether or not and in wich form these are accepted, or not. In a secular society those descisions are based on ethics. On what we actually know about these issues and on the consensus of people. That is how morals is decided in a democracy. Are you not happy with that process?
I assure I am not playing with fears here. What I’m talking about here is called realism. Have you ever considered that some of those “demagogues” might be right. Granted there are some gray areas but there must be a way in the society to say that this is evil. Problem with postmodern morals is that everybody defines their own morals. I see clearly that you are reluctant to admit that there are no actual morals. If there are no set rules what is moral then where is morals? Where is ethics?
Morals are in a constant slip and slide. Age to start sex slides all the time towards younger. It is just a small leap until pedophile groups start to take advantage (they are already) politically to say why can’t they do it? And because there is no morals other than what you feel like is right or what feels good for you it is not unfathomable to see a law change. You shall see.
Word of God is often times blatantly discriminated and falsely represented by those that want to discredit it. Some of the stuff here is a straightforward lie. So it pays to listen what those that have the expert opinion. Same goes for anything in this life.
And God appears trough His congregation to help the poor. God clearly gives message that He will hear the cry of the oppressed especially:
BHS, are you making prophesies about the future, now? 😉
Actually the age in wich western society accepts as healthy to start having sex has been in slide towards older for centuries. This is the result of our ethics evolving culturally as our knowledge and understanding about human physiology and psyche has increased. For centuries in Christendom it was in early teens especially for girls. They got married well before 20 and that was much the case in Biblical times also. Is there actually a Bible passage that defines the age at when it is appropriate for people to start having sex?
I do recognize the fact that the market economy has a tendency to sell kids adulthood as desirable, and youth as desirable to adults. This may cause social problems, but if there is harm we must confront it form the morals of the society based on ethics, not on this, or that arbitrary set of rules by this, or that divinity. It is better that people understand why something is wrong, than that they simply know it is forbidden. Do you understand my point? If you do, would you not agree?
Of course everyone defines what morals they follow by themselves. Who else would do that for them? For example, it is you who decide that you do not follow the morals of sharia law, correct?
I hate to repeat myself, but the morals of a society is defined by the society. I hope you can appriciate that we have such morals, that is defined by consensus in a democratic society, because without such, there would be no freedom of religion, and chances are your kind of religion would be condemned by some other form of morals in the society. Do you see that?
Once again the link you provided is interresting, but far too much to comment in this format and frankly I do not even see the relevance neither to the topic nor to the previous conversation. Maybe you would like to elaborate?
I’m no prophet but this is pure logic:
Age of starting to have sex is getting younger (different than the age of consent mind you).
There is increased demand for child sex.
Propability of pedophile political pressure groups to get what they want increasing significantly.
This is of course made worse by the kind morals you are advocating. Let’s just look what you said earlier:
“Of course everyone defines what morals they follow by themselves”
“morals of a society is defined by the society”
But then you say:
“if there is harm we must confront it form the morals of the society based on ethics”
How does this actually work then? If morals of the society are decided by popular vote and everyone follows their own nose on morals then how we decide ethics then? The only logical conclusion is there are no morals or ethics. Try to be honest and see clearly your problem.
There is no guarantee that that man/boy group won’t get enough political power in the future. Because everybody might just decide that pedophile sex is not harmful. People are like sheep led to slaughter.
That link I provided is to say that God cares for the poor. There is nearly 100 passages in the bible about how we should care about the poor. So God does care.
BHS, I am sorry, but that is not logic. It is a genuine conspiracy theory, you have there. 😉 It is of course within a possibility, that some minority group has a go with some very wild political ideas in a democratic society. However, since child abuse is very much against ethics, and it would be very hard, or even impossible to argue it is not harmfull, it is very unlikely, that it will ever grow to be a populist movement. Unless there will be a very popular religion to back it up, since religious morals has the ability to divert people from natural ethics, by appealing to some supernatural supreme authority wich supposedly overrides ethics. Yet, I do not see this as an actual threat to our society. I can not predict the future. Not all cultural phenomenons are positive. Not all cultural evolution is good. If there is a very negative social movement, like the rise of racism (that I see as a real threat here at present in Europe at least) in our society, maybe we close ranks to fight it. You from your set of religious morals and I from my ethical argumentation. 🙂
If the morals of the society is based on our consensus of ethics, how does that automatically lead to a situation where there are no morals nor ethics? That makes no sense. Of course there are. Do you know the meaning of the words ethics and morals. Ethics means, that we evaluate the results of our action and inaction based on what kind of benefits vs. harms they result in. Morals is the social standard of what the rules of conduct are. The latter is based on the previous.
With better information it is easier to reach higher standard of morals, but often enough ethics do not need supreme information, only the minimal info is needed to come to natural ethical conclusions. Misinformation, or disinformation may corrupt the system. Bronze age guesses on the state of nature, the human condition and the reasons for natural catastrophies are classical examples of misinformation. They were not meant as deliberate means to lead people astray, they simply were the most likely explanation, to these issues by the aquirable information in that era. Any ancient tribal moralism and supernatural claims are perfect examples of disinformation. Some of them were made in actual belief by eyewitnesses who had no other explanation and whose cultural heritage led them to believe what they witnessed was indeed not of this world, but many were made with obvious malicious intent on protecting a particular interrest group of racial, religious or social type.
If morals is not based on ethics, but on authority of a god, or a dictator, then we are in trouble, because simply by appealing to authority anything can be ordered and people become the subjects of controll. In the end any atrocities can be implemented on people by denying their right to be skeptical. This has happened so many times in human history. From the Biblical genosides to the totalitarian systems of our times.
Of course democracy is not a perfect system. It could and has been abused by the power hungry. But it is only natural, that this is so, because it does not originate from any god. It is a system by imperfect humans for imperfect humans. It is up to us humans to safeguard the use of ethics in our societies. Correct?
No. There are no guarrantees, or certaintees about anything. I certainly hope this does not come as a shock to you, though I somehow doubt it will. I would say only certainty is death, but you would disagree with me about that, and bickering about it would be totally uninteligent and possibly even more of topic, than our current line of conversation. 😉
The link you provided actually says that the guys who wrote the Bible thought, that a god wants us to care for the poor in very specific situations. Still, I do not see the relevance of it, but I can appriciate your interpretation of it, if it causes you to be symphatetic about poverty. 🙂 Like I have previously said I appriciate anyone who finds the messages of love and compassion, from their respective religions. And there are many who do. I would even go as far as to say most people who are adherents of any religion do this. That is one of the reasons I have hope for mankind. That no matter if their respective relgions are true, or have unethical divine rules, people still find the ethical parts and honour those. That also leads me to expect that the majority of people have enough “heart” to come to ethical consensus about what is right and wrong. It is a slow and hard process for all mankind to be as brothers, but in this light not an impossible one.
Yet, you have not answered me, if there is a Bible passage about at what age should people start having sex? I mean there are several passages about how homosexuality is an abomination, so surely there should, by any logic, be a passage about such an important moral issue, wich you yourself brought up. What if there is none, or the Christian does not know that particular passage, or there is an argument about the passage between Christians, how does the Christian define this issue? May I assume it is by natural ethics? The very same way I proposed all social morals should be defined (and mostly are in any society Christian, or other). Yes?
Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. It does not say child and a man for example. Besides it is clearly against the ideals of the Bible. And yes we do form ethics from the Bible. This book has ethics that by far surpass human ones. The guidance it gives on love and compassion are yet to be equaled. It has been so since biblical times. Acts 24:24-26.
“Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.”
And how it is possible to have ethical absolutes if there is no absolutes? If you say: “Of course everyone defines what morals they follow by themselves” then how can you make moral statements in a absolute way? If there “are no guarrantees, or certaintees about anything” How can you be so sure where society is going then? You sound awfully sure that pedophiles won’t get more power. Maybe not as long as they can have their desires at the price of a plain ticket to Asia.
We need some absolutes (like do not kill) to maintain this world of ours. You know why racism and natzism is raising it’s ugly head? Because people need absolutes and this pocketwarm postmodernism has none to offer. There is two ways we can go: Judeo-christian values or totalitarism. Which one do you prefer?
BHS, in Biblical times the idea of adulthood differed greatly from ours. A girl was considered a woman after she had lost her virginity, so of course marriage was between a man and a woman. For the most part of the past 2000 years people in Christendom and elswhere have thought it is pretty much OK to marry a girl of thirteen. You and I know that this is wrong. How do we know it? Is it not by the evolution of science and information to base better ethics on, that we have come to understand it?
How can you tell the ethics of the Bible are far surpassing human ethics? If some form of ethics that actually is ethical from human perspective can be consieved by a human, it allready is part of human ethics. Or are you talking about the information on wich we base our ethics?
I really, really can not see the relevance of the quote you added. Are you suggesting that human ethics can not surpass those of the Felix character in your story? What a bleak image you have on humans. Is that low standard of humanity of yours based solely on the Bible, or are you evaluating the human standard for ethics by what level of ethical thinking you are capable of, without the help of the Bible?
Sorry, but there are no ethical absolutes either. How did you come by that notion? Ethics is only a logical means to rationalize our feelings of empathy and compassion. What do you need absolute moral statements for? No morals is absolutely true. Ethics is the means by wich we can achieve best possible morals, not moral absolutism. I allready said I can not make prophesies about the future. I can not tell you how the society will evolve in the future. Neither can you. We can make predictions of what is the most likely result for this or that development, yes, but there are no certaintees what so ever. Does that thought make you feel insecure, or why is it so hard for you to accept? Or is it, after all?
Pedophiles do get their way in the present society in many ways, as they have in times before and in socities past. We need to develope the human society in a direction where such perversions could be, not just punished afterwards, but prevented. My estimation is, that most important way to stop such atrocities, is by preventing people from developing such harmfull and unhealthy desires. One example of that would be an obviously necessary (for other reasons also) thing to let the homosexuals be considered an equal part of society without shame. Because sometimes pedophiles are homosexuals who seek children as sexual objects, because they are filled by shame and they seem to think they can more easily hide their sexuality by approaching little boys rather than adult men. This is the reason why there are so many pedophilic cases within religious societies. They first create the shame, then they give emotional suzerainty to authoritarian rule and as a result men abuse, that authority to hide their shame. Heterosexual pedophiles are also often the products of some form of repressed sexuality and feelings of shame culturally included in sexuality by most often religious absolutist moralism.
Why do you feel we need moral absolutes? “Thou not shall kill” is not a moral absolute. There are many situations where Christian societies are just as eager to go around this moral rule as any other societies. Most of those situations are necessary ones, though some are arguable, or even questionable ones. Your god has even demanded people to neglect, that moral rule on several occasion, and it has been neglected millions and billions of times by people who have had firm belief and faith that this or that god demands it to be neglected. No gods have ever appeared to tell people that what they are doing is against a moral absolute and what they are doing is wrong nor against the will of any gods. Have they? Do you not believe in the ethical right of self defence? What about defence of innocents, or the defence of the integrity of a nation?
What bleak future options you offer me to choose from, when I can see a range of better options. Your options do not even include freedom of religion unless we happen to have a benevolent dictator, who happens to be uninterrested in other peoples religions. Though there have been those, how likely is that? I admit it, I am an optimist in this respect. Our culture is finally getting rid of tribal moralism and arbitrary religious rules. The age of kings and dictators seems to be finally over. Democracy and secularity are gaining ground, do you really not see this as a good development? Our knowledge about the world, humanity, nature and universe around us is expanding in giant leaps. We are having better and better information about these and as I said with better information it is possible to make better estimates about the future i.e. more ethical conclusions. Is that not good in your perception? Of course there are many great obstacles in front of us to struggle with, like the international corporations and their imperialism, religious and political demagogues that set nations against each other to freighten people to give them “absolute” power suggested as means of protection of (the often enough imagined or blown out of proportions) outside threat. But as you should know, those people seek power, for the sake of power and should be revealed as such. That is their motive to appeal to imaginary absolutes, like perfectly just and perfectly mercifull gods and absolutely evil enemy. As you said, these appeal to people. But what is it, that they appeal to, in peoples minds? Insecurity about the future? Fear of the unknown?
Some atheist thinkers have expressed, that maybe it is good for the simple people to have faith in gods and moral absolutes, because they would be unable to concieve ethical reasons to keep them from doing evil, so fear of reprizal in the imagined afterlife is all that really keeps them from doing harm to others because of selfish motovation. I find these claims terribly elitistic, and I think we all (excluding total sociopaths) have the capacity to understand why something is right or wrong and act accordingly, even without any arbitrary rules by some imaginary over-authority, like for example Allah. 😉 Are you going to prove me wrong?
Have a happy holiday!
Did you know that the age of consent is 13 in Spain? It is highly cultural. In some (most) parts of the world children do not get the luxury of prolonged childhoods as we westerners do. You could say that an european in their 30’s is still a child with their play stations and skateboards. Most of the world has to work for us kings. Also this western notion of love marriage is luxury. At least in the ancient those girls got to be married. Unlike girls today that start sex early and with multiple partners. Far from God’s ideal and very hurtful. And let’s not even start to discuss those poor Thai girls…
Thus in my opinion this line of discussion is not relevant.
Cheers mister Rautakyy 🙂
Have you taken a look at the news lately? The world is filled with all sorts of horror and greed. Our planet is heading for distraction and all western society is doing is spending time navel gazing. Hedonistic desires, materialism, fractured families you name it we have it. This has always been the case and sure it was nice in Europe in the 70’s and 80’s. But it’s been downhill when you consider the rest of the world. And lately Europe too. You must be one hell of an optimist to see good coming out of this.
Of course Bible gives us superior morals. Imagine world where people would really love their neighbor or poor and the downtrodden would be treated as the God told us to treat them. Would look like that Welsh revival I suppose. Not that christians have monopoly on good. Our message is not “I’m okay, you are not” but “I’m not okay and neither are you”. We are an fallen race in the need of a redeemer.
Besides the world does not function without moral absolutes. In fact you make them constantly. Like whey you say that it’s okay to be gay but it’s not okay to say it is a sin. Postmodern moralism is funny in a way that if you say anything that would threaten individual freedom, it’s suddenly not okay. Even if it would be hurtful to others. That causes a slip and slide of the morals. This writer draws an interesting allegory between the fall of the Rome and modern europe:
People WILL be looking at something to gather around. Something absolute. This is something that God created in to us and is meant to be filled with God. But you can fill that desire with other things. So far it’s been material goods in the west. But what about when those goodies stop?
BHS, there is one thing we can really agree on: I am a “hell of an optimist!” :))
How else could I imagine a number of utopian systems and human socities, that would function paradise like, if everyone followed the rules. The Biblical morals does not really stand out from all such human ideals. Alltough it has some good stuff in it, but like all man made fantasies, it also incorporates some serious crap in it too. If yuo think it is perfect, just read the rest of the 500 Questions our host has posted and posts. 😉
I still do not get it. Where have we fallen from, how and why? We have evolved from the animal kingdom and through generations of ignorance we have waded our way towards knowledge and better ethics. We are not there yet and surely we have taken steps backwards and on sidetracks, like when we came to create the authoritarian religions, but there is still hope for us.
The BBC article you linked about the fall of the Roman empire was really good. It kind of answered the questions presented in it, by making the point, that the end of the world did not come when the empire fell, though Christians of that era certainly expected it to come then. The dark ages resulted when science and philosophy were lost and replaced by religion, so it defenately was a dark age that resulted. Let us work not to have that mistake be repeated again.
You are mistaken about the moral absolutes.You said: “Besides the world does not function without moral absolutes. In fact you make them constantly. Like whey you say that it’s okay to be gay but it’s not okay to say it is a sin.” That is not moral absolutism. That is a logical conclusion about ethics. It is not an arbitrary moralist claim based on some supreme and infallible authority, as a moral absolute would be. It is a demand for more egalitarian and humane society, free of religious arbitrary laws by imaginary gods. The logical ethics of it is, that being gay causes no harm, but claiming it is a “sin” causes obvious harm, not only to gays, but to the entire society around them. Do you now understand the difference?
It seems to me, that when you define something wrong, you assume god agrees with you and has given an arbitrary order about it, that you do not need to question. But you seem to think it gives you the right to think so, and that it takes the other peoples right to disagree away (since, if they do, they will suffer eternally, in the absence of a god). But your notion of the age when people should start to have sex, as an example, you thought came from god, was actually an ethical conclusion by you, based on information about the harm too early start for sex could cause and no god had any part in the morals of it.
Of course all post modern societies value individual freedom. That is healthy. Do I need to explain to you how that conclusion has been achieved? You may disagree, since that is within your individual freedom. 😉 And certainly there is no universal and absolute consensus about these issues. Though, we have reached some very big limits in the UN resolutions. These issues are constantly resolved by a never ending discussion about where the limits of freedom should be set in the society. That is inevitable, because for centuries our freedom has been limited by arbitrary rules (like, that men and women must be dressed differently, or be stoned to death) based on commands from imaginary divine supreme authorities. We are not yet free from those strains, to think freely just about the ethics, but our minds still linger in our cultural heritage. Also the discourse will never end as long as the world keeps changing. And it does, because every new generation comes up with new ideas and perception.
Yes, there is something wrong about the consumer society the west is spreading all around the globe and abusing most of the world while doing so. I defenately agree with you about that. But what should we do about it? Try to find out what is wrong and repair the damage, before it is too late? Or should we sit around on our asses and hope for a miracle by some particular supernatural entity? I think we can both agree that regardless of the existance of this entity, we should take action. After all, was it not alledged, that your god, who so cleverly gave the world to the hands of us humans, also demanded we took care of it and that we should show compassion towards each other? 🙂 What a Lucky thing that most other gods have given similar arbitrary orders, so we still have hope for mankind to try and behave, before they learn to do the right thing from their own initiative. Or at least, I have hope with my “hell of an optimism”. 😉
Well as you noticed I strongly disagree with mr. 500 on several points. In my opinion people need some ultimate reference point for morals. If you let that go people loose that good ol’ “group feeling” that allows society to cope and recover. Secular ethics like humanism are seriously lacking in that respect. They are nothing but buzzwords created by man. Full of hot air. We need God to make our life meaningful ant that’s it. Individual freedom is ok but there is a flip side to that coin. Allow it too much and you get anarchy. The way we are heading now.
While there seems to be little harm in allowing gay marriage it will anyway eat a part of the fabric of our society. That “group feeling” that holds us together. You will see. Not that there is anything we can do about it anyways. We can not pass a law that would guarantee salvation of someones soul. If you want to go to hell then you should have the freedom to do so if you wish. Anyways all sort of bigotry is forbidden and rightly so, so let’s leave gays to do whatever they want. As long as we are allowed freedom to to our thing.
I’m more than willing to preach a message of anti consumerialism. We need new ways to get this society to function with religious views considered. That is after all what democracy is supposed to be doing. Protecting all the groups in the country.
BHS, are you suggesting, that the veracity of a particular god recides in the utility of that god to society? That defence could be presented to any god, but it is an empty suggestion, because we are perfectly capable to form moral communities without any gods. Some of those are more healthier than others. I do not need a god to make my life meaningfull. I belong to many different social groups and most people whom I know do not drive their morals from god (regardless if they are religious or not), but from real life ethics. (I bet you do too most of the time, even if you are not aware of it, like in my example about the limits on the age of sex becoming a part of a persons life.) Their morals is based on cultural tradition and what causes harm and what does not. Things go well, when the latter overrides the former. Simple, eh? 😉
If we are heading for anarchy, how does that demonstrate it self in comparrison to former situation? When was there less “anarchy”, in the world, than today? How can you tell there is more “anarchy” now than there was before? Actually I would say the complete opposite. The last descent to anarchy from organized civilization in the west was when the Roman empire fell and Christianity took over Europe. During the time from that point on, we have slowly grown to re-organize and we have by now far surpassed the organization level of the Roman empire by generations. History of mankind is not pointing towards anarchy and chaos, but away from it. We do not need authoritarian rule to live without anarchy. That is exactly why we prefer democracy. It allows the freedom of the individual within the limits the majority sets. Hopefully those limits are set ethically and not arbitrarily. Right?
Societies are changing all the time. That is inevitable. It is up to us individuals to make sure those changes are for more just and open society. Correct? Gay marriage tears up nothing, but it causes discussion wich reveals the questionable nature of the Biblical morals. The abolition of slavery and the US civil rights movement could have been opposed for the same reason you and the article you linked to present. For example. How terribly did it tear up the fabric of the US society that buss companies had to offer equal service to both black and white customers and let them ride on the same benches, though in doing so, they were forced by the government often to act against their deeply held beliefs and prejudices against people of a nother race?
Nobody wants to go to hell. Do they? But to many people the idea of hell is absurd. We have no evidence that such a thing even exists, but we do know that there are motives to controll people by demagogues to come up with such a deterrent. This all points to it being just an invention of men. Does it not?
You are under the spell of demagogues of humanity indeed. If this was the court of law, You’d be in jail for falsifying the evidence. The fact that we in western hemisphere live in an unprecedented golden age does in fact point to the evil of humanity. We are like kings while more than half suffers in slavery of poverty, hunger and war. And don’t give me any of that “we will solve it” crap. If the age of humanity is 200,000 years why haven’t we solved anything? Hardly passes as for evidence of humanities capability to solve anything. The same is going on as before, just covinently out of your sight.
Who do you trust? Your elected leaders? They are hungry for wealth, power and sex as the rest of us. And even the most powerful of them can not turn the tide until it’s too late for humanity. Trust your self? Well that’s every man for himself. Result will be utter anarchy. Continue this long enough and people will start to call for a change. That’s the time for totalitarism to take control.
You try and find your way in this mess.
Use your skills that you got in the university. Which side the evidence is stronger? That mankind is good or is fallen?
And this does not let the christen camp of the hook. We are as fallen as the rest. We have even less excuse. We have the commandments of the Bible and still can’t do any better.
And about bigotry. How it is not bigotry that a poor photographer has to pay “damages” for not wanting to photograph someone?
BHS, I do not think we live in any sort of “golden age” in the west. Does it seem like that to you? You previously said that everything was peachy during the eightees. Was that the “golden age” when you did not know of all the trouble in the world, or why did you define that particular decade as any better than the previous, or the following ones? If I remember correctly the fashion was a disaster. 😉
Do you really think I am not aware of the problems we face today? If your god is omnipotent and benevolent, why does he not help us out? Surely such a powerfull god would have an ethical responsibility and even more so, if the claim of benevolence holds any truth to it, help out at least the ones suffering the most and without their own fault, like the famished and enslaved ones. No such help appears, so it is more likely no such god exists.
Do you really think we have not solved anything in the past 200 000 years? What a strange claim. Just to name few steps taken: Humanity has learned methods to make better foodplants and service animals. We have invented irrigation. We have developed such marvellous tools to lessen our toil. Our art has evolved into completely new levels. We have found magnificent ways to increase our understanding of the universe and to overcome problems by the scientific methods. We have learned to heal psychological problems.We have overcome many diseases, have we not? We have found means to regulate our birth rates. Our philosophical understanding of ethics has grown from fear of gods into understanding real life causalities. And finally we are emerging from the dark night of superstition.
Yes humanity has done a lot of evil and continues to do (regardless of what gods they prey to), but most of that is the result of ignorance. Ignorance of the actual results of our actions and inaction. If we really are guilty of something, it is not of “eating from the tree of knowledge”, but of the complete opposite.
The situation of the “poor” photographer depends on what grounds he/she does not want to provide the service for some customers. If that photographer of yours, does not want to take pictures of some people because he/she has prejudice of their race, sexual orientation, or creed that is not fair, is it? Such conduct is segragating, anti-egalitarian, indignifying and harmfull to a society. Correct? Why should a society not punish a person for causing harm? Besides, where in the Bible it says thou shalt not take photorgraphs of married homosexuals, because that is an abomination to god? Do you honestly not think the “poor” buss company has to offer same benches to the passangers of different race, sexual orientation, or creed?
Critical services like bus,fire,health and police etc.. are diffrent thing entirely. They are not allowed to pick their customers. Photography is a bit not in that ballpark. This thing has gone too far. If people can not exercise their faith. You are the one always yelling for individual freedom here. How it suddenly does not apply here? You are holding double standards. Just typical of this day and age. Everything is okay until someone dares to say that something is not allowed. Your morals are not as flexible as you brag.
We have innovation and wealth all right. But the heart of man is just the same. Ethics is what you do when someone is not watching. And to me it looks like we still have the same problems that we did in the Old Testamet days. Lust for wealth, power and sex. That is why I quoted that bit from the acts. Felix was jus as afraid when Paul started to talk about self control. Not a very fashionable word these days.
But do continue like you do. People are bored with the way the rings are and the material goodies are fast disappearing with the diminishing of world resources. No more golden age. Totalitarism is just around the corner waiting. I would not be amazed at all to see a new kristallnacht in europe directed against immigrants soon. With the majority as always silently approving. There are still people alive that remember the original nazi rule. That’s how much your fine humanity has learned. And the only real alternative is of course return of the judeo-christian values. Wether you like it or not.
Of course I could give many examples of rotten human nature. But I think this is enough. You can not honestly say that we are learning something. This civilization is just a bit of paint over an evil that comes out immediately if chance arrives.
BHS, who is offering double standards? You would say segragation is wrong with “critical” services, but you would not think it is wrong in some other services. Why? Who gets to define what services are critical and what are not? Is that not double standards? People may exercise their faith, but only if that faith does not brake the laws of a secular nation. If you worshipped Moloch Baal and demanded that in the name of religious freedom you had every right to sacrifice babies, should society not be allowed to intervene? Even if those babies were your own? If you came from East African decendance and you claimed your religiond demands your young girl child is to be circumsized, should the society not step in and stop that? If your Christian church wanted to seek out heretics and witches and burn them alive, should society not be allowed to stop you? Of cource a society has the right to set limits of human conduct, that is ethical. The photography example is from the mild end of the possible harm caused by religious behaviour, but since the “cristalnacht”, you referred to, was a direct result of “christian values” and segragation they had caused for centuries in the German society, it fits to describe what kind of harm social the segragation of citizens (like in the case of the photography), by religious values may cause at its worse. A society has every right ot restrict even much milder harm. And please remember, that the slavery – you mentioned – was also defended by religious values. Actually there is much more to defend slavery in the Bible, than there is about photography of homosexual marriages being somehow immoral, correct?
I am not offering double standards. Individual freedom does not include the freedom to harm others by any ethical standards. I do not see how you can even claim this is a double standard. The fascists you refer to, that might start violence against immigrants in Europe today, all the time claim their individual freedom and freedom of speach is limited, but of course it is. Why? Because society should be able to limit the individual freedom of citizens. Those limits should be set with ethical logic, not by arbitrary divine rules of this, or that religion. With freedom and power allways comes responsibility. Why is that not obvious to them, nor you? Are they also products of authoritarian culture you so eagerly promote?
No, we have not evolved since the Biblical times. That is a short leap in evolutionary terms, but a giant leap in social terms. We have taken steps from ages past when religious leadership defined what ever they pleased, or honestly thought, that their gods demanded from humans as the moral standards of socity. If we look back at those societies, they were full of sacrifices, bigotry, and oppression. No real freedom of speach, nor freedom of religion, but a lot of “martyrs” for the minor religious sects, sexual minorities and science. Who would want to return to that?
You keep chanting, that our only option is a return to Christian values, but as you know, we have had that society test ongoing allready for 2000 years and it really has not worked out.
We are not talking about a bunch of lunatics here. But most kindest and civilized part of the society, christians. I probably know hundreds of christians personally and I never found a single one that planned anything violent against any minority. This is about the right to hold ones religious views with head held up high. How does someone not photographing other’s wedding hurt them. Cry babes. The people responsible for suing are just looking for trouble and confrontation to drive their cause and you fall in to their trap, no questions asked. They want to cause battle lines to form in our society against religion. Be careful to avoild that. Many christians and gays alike already have fallen in to that trap.
BHS, even though your personal experience is that the Christians you know are the “most kindest” part of the society, that is not really such a simple truth. Is it? Christians include such extreme groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Westborough Babtist Church, not to speak about individual lunatics like Mr. Breivik, who was acting to defend Christian values, just to name few of the extremes. When Christians had supreme political power in society, they indeed used it to torture and burn alledged witches and heretics. It was only the birth of a secular nations, that stopped them from doing so. It is, of course, nice that the Christians today think they stopped doing that on their own accord, but without secularism, they propably would not have ever done so. Remember, that by far most of the nazies and fascists thought themselves as very good Christians and died expecting to get into heaven. They honestly thought they were acting on Christian values, and in their defence. I am not saying all Christians are like that, but as you should know some are. If you would claim they were heretics, they would propably have told me you are. Any religion, or ideology is a tool to lead people to such horrid deeds, even if it is not most often used for that. Those deeds usually begin from insignificant looking acts of segragation, that escalate to ever increasing persecution.
Like I have said before in this very conversation, the most horrible evil is usually done by people who think they are doing the good thing, or at least that they have a right to do what horrible things they are doing. Since such a right is very difficult to draw from any ethical thinking, it is most often drawn from any authority, be it the commands of a superior, the commands of a dictator, or the commands of a god. That is why society and individuals in it should determine what is right and wrong by ethics, not by arbitrary commands from authority.
Do you honestly think that a photographer has the right to choose his customers by their race, or creed? Simply because the photography is such an insignificant service? Do you not see, that the law has to be the same for everybody? We can not say that the buss company may not choose its customers, but a photographer may, can we? By whom and how should the rules of social conduct be determined here? If a gay couple can not have a photographer to come to their wedding because that person is a homophobic, or because his holy book tells him that photographing homosexuals is an abomination to a god, that couple would propably not have wanted that photographer to take their pictures, anyway. In a big city they just choose someone who offers that service to them withouth bigotry. But if that gay couple lives in a small town and in a very religious part of the country, is it “civilized”, if they can not have anyone to photograph their wedding, if the caterers will not come, if they can not rent a place to have their celebration, if the buss company refuses to move around their guests, if the local gass station refuses to sell gasoline for the cars of their relatives and guests and so on? Where do you draw the limit and how? Is that not persicution? If the surrounding part of society does everything in their power to prevent this couple to get married, never mind if their marriage is legal, or not. That is segragation of the worst kind, and it really does not matter wether the motive of these people is racist, or religious. The results are exactly the same. They are dehumanizing the couple and their closest ones. They are the ones drawing battle lines between religion and other people.
People acting for everyone to have equal rights, are not seeking just to have battle lines drawn against any particular religion. If your religion does not accept equal rights for other people, it is you who has to ask what is wrong with the religion, like is your god really being just, or even mercifull if that deity demands you to segragate people who have not done anything ethically wrong. That is if you would have equal rights for everyone. If you do not accept the concept of equal rights because your god seems to oppose it, then I guess, there is nothing I have to say to you anymore.
Well we have been trough “christian” lunatics before. They do not obey the commands set in the bible. Every ideology on earth includes people that are abusing the ideology. Same is true for your favorite ideology socialism. Chairman Mao and Stalin are responsible for millions of deaths and countless abuses. The worst country to abuse christians is North Korea. They are killing people converting to christianity in big numbers. Thus the same claim can be applied to your ideology. So believe me when I say that Bible gives us superior morals, if people would just obey. And like I said we are all fallen so we are imperfect. Not capable to follow superior morals even if given ones. That is why we need a redeemer.
There is a great need to find peaceful co-exitence between christians and gay community. That means there is a need to find common ground to exist. So to satisfy every side we need to make some uncomfortable political decisions for some parties. To me it looks crazy that a business is not free to choose it’s customers. So if christians are forced to accept customers against their beliefs it will only cause dissatisfaction and draw unnecessary battle lines. This earth does not need any more combat. We have other more pressing business to attend to. Besides they did not want a photographer that did not want the job. He/she would do a lousy job anyways because of being forced. So they where just looking to cause trouble or score big bucks in the courtroom. And everybody sings along to their tune. Please.. 🙄
BHS, the “Christian lunatics” you are referring to, are very sure they are the ones following the “superior morals” in the Bible. Did you not know this? Possibly they think you are not obeying the commands of the Bible. Or perhaps they think you are, if you are ready to deny the right for homosexuals to marry because your “superior morals” denies it. Even though you know it is totally unethical.
Yes, any ideology may be abused, beware not to stand with the abusers. Most people in that lot think they are among the good guys. How to know, if you are abusing your ideology? By reading deeper into the holy book of your respective ideology? Maybe by finding out where exactly in the Bible is the photography of gay marriage forbidden, or if one attends as a paid professional – to avoid secular fines – is it OK, if you are redeemed by Jesus later from this most terrible of sins? 😉 Or simply, perhaps by finding the ethical side of your ideology and supporting that? Is there an ethical side to your ideology?
I really have no need for a personal redeemer. Exept, if I could somehow force myself to believe in hell. A place, or state we have no evidence what so ever of, and if I was frightened by the thought enough to believe a particular sect of a particular religion (among the thousands of religions in the world) would save me from eternal torment, a fate bestowed upon me at birth because of being human without my own cause and because I have been created unable to follow the alledged “superior morals”, that seem to me like tribal moralism of ancient cultures. No, I am not able to take any of those wild leaps into darkness.
I ask you one last time, how do you know, or define, that the morals of the Bible is “superior”? How do you measure it to be that, if not through your understanding of ethics? If ethics defines what is moral (as I have several times before claimed), is it not then the superior method of knowing what is wrong, or right? If it is not, then what is?
It really is not sufficient to simply claim, that the Bible defines if something is right or wrong, because you have to have a method to base that claim somehow. Saying it is that, because it was inspired by the creator of the entire universe, does not qualify as a reason, because a) we have no way of verifying that claim and b) we do not know the nature and character of this alledged creator as the holy book gives a controversial image of a loving, but vengefull, jealous and sometimes monstrous entity and c) because we have no way of verifying the existance of such a thing as a creator at all. Do we? If we had, there would be no need for faith, hell, religions, or any of that. Correct?
If you think it is wrong to force a photographer to take a picture at a gay marriage feast, then do you think it is a lesser evil than not to allow the gay people to get married? Wich is the greater evil? Honestly. Wich will cause more harm and how do you define that? Perhaps by ethics? Is it ethical to deny some people the right to get married, because a photographer might have a prejudice against their marriage?
And finally, what ethical right does a all-powerfull god have to demand that gay people should be stoned to death, or not be allowed to get married? What ethical right has a god to judge to divide us poor humans alledgedly his own imperfect creations into eternal bliss and eternal suffering? Is any of that perfectly just, or perfectly mercifull?
The usual problem is that people read too little of the Bible. At surface reading some things may look wild and hair raising but if you go deeper you will understand God more. I am reading a great book about this subject:
Recommended read for anyone interested about hearing both sides of the debate. This forum is too short to deal with myriad issues of the Bible that the atheists have. It’s like trying to discuss inner workinkings of a space shuttle. Too many details for a short message like this. But we can discuss them more in the future bit by bit. Meanwhile you can get to know what actual theologians have pondered in the past. There is a lot to learn there.
As for gays. I have nothing against the gay marriage if majority wants it. But I have issues in the following:
– Forcing people to go against their faith
– Not allowing people to raise their concerns freely even if it is against the popular opinion.
These go against the idea of the democracy. If not allowed then it is just a form of dictatorship of the majority.
Bible definitely does not include a command “thou shall judge and crush other’s opinions if you are a majority”. Far from it. It says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”. Here is a one example for you about Biblical superior morals. Learn from it o ye atheists.
Twist twist, turn turn, spin spin… we can make anything look respectable if we try hard enough; we always find ways to excuse and defend the moral monster we’ve come to love. God could come down and cast us all into hell and we Christians could say “Yes, but we deserved it!” Christians have often been compared to the confused abused wife, who sees her husband’s beatings as justifiable.
Even if we work to excuse every atrocity in the Bible, we STILL live in a world filled with pain and suffering (humans and animals) that need not exist. As I said to someone earlier today…
“Do you believe Adam had free will in the Garden of Eden? If “Yes,” then this proves it is possible for a man to live in a pain-free world while still having free will. (If “No,” then Adam was forced to sin, and we have a whole other problem.) If God is love, then there is no reason for us to be living in the pain-filled world we know today. We should all be living in the Garden of Eden! And if someone should choose to disobey God and eat from the tree of knowledge, then God could simply cause them to die, or disappear, or be exiled from the garden (being unable to reproduce). It makes no sense for all the innocent people (and animals) in the garden to suffer for another man’s sin, no more than it would make sense to throw every man in jail because one man committed a crime. Ergo either the Christian God is evil, or doesn’t actually exist.”
Break the chains of superstition and bee free to … what? That video casts a dangerous lie. Bible is clear on this. We do not serve God out of fear but as a response to His love. We are His children and he loves every last one of us. We are built to walk together with God (and ourselves, our neighbor and our environment). That is the lesson of Adam and Eve. We are free to choose the love of God or our own way.
Besides. We are not in a position to judge eternal God. We just do not have the necessary information to see why evil needs to be. There are causes and effects that go far beyond our knowledge. Who says that the main aim of the life is happiness and good life? Mans end on this world is not happiness but the true knowledge of the God and eternal reward in the next.
We are the Adam. It’s not the act of one man in the past that caused this misery. It is the fallen nature OF US ALL that is the main cause of all this mess. A christian is not surprised to see evil in this world. It is to be expected because we are all fallen. This evil in this wold is actually a pointer to the truth of the Bible.
Love of the God is not battered wife syndrome. Ask your wife. She will tell you how it is 😉
“Bible is clear on this.”
Your entire entire premise remains based on the Bible being true. Do you have some definitive proof of this? If you were to put your best foot forward, and point to ONE thing in the Bible to prove it’s true, what would that be? Or is it entirely based on faith in stories, as most made-up religions are?
“We are the Adam. It’s not the act of one man in the past that caused this misery. It is the fallen nature OF US ALL that is the main cause of all this mess.”
Even if Adam actually existed, I see no reason why God couldn’t continue to let him live in a paradise where the only evil comes from men, not God. That way, we still have free will, we can still do evil if we choose to, and the innocent need not suffer. A baby has not sinned against God yet, and should not suffer the penalty as if he has. Nor have the animals sinned against God. I say the explanation that makes the most sense is that the story is made up by man, which is why it contains such logical errors.
First you must separate two facts. The claim I’m making (= bible claims God loves us) is a truth represented in the bible. There is nothing that you can do to doubt that because it is an unrefutable fact. Is bible true, is another question entirely.
Well what is the best clam to the truth of the bible then? There are of course many and one must consider all of them as a whole. For example I think one must first consider the evidence for the existence of the God. I find some of them very convincing. Kalam cosmological argument, contingency argument etc. But if you premise that God = true how do we get from that to christian God then?
If I have to pick one theory on the truth of the Bible I’d pick resurrection of Jesus as a best proof. Empty tomb and postmortem appearances are best explanation of the historical facts represented in the Bible and outside sources. This is also something that can be historically proven to near enough degree.
Of course it is the very nature of knowledge to be fleeting. You can dig your heels in and say historical evidence is not enough. But that means we should disregard many facts about history we already take for granted. Thus it depends on the criterion you set yourself I suppose.
BHS, The Kalam cosmological argument was allready debunked by Immanuel Kant. However, even if we had to agree, that the universe has to have a cause (wich is a matter we simply do not know), we do not have any way to determine that such a cause would be any god of any particular religion. It is such a blind leap of faith to find any connection between a natural phenomenon such as a cause for the present observable universe and an entity as imagined by men of antiquity.
Even if there was a supernatural cause for the universe, we have no way of knowing what it was, do we?
Even, if Jesus resurrected we have no way of knowing what caused it. Do we?
The resurrection of Jesus is not on any level a “historical fact”. We do not know what happened to him, or even if he was an actual historical character. We have no certainty of any of the stories told about him are in any way true. The supernatural parts are especially conpicious, because we have none what so ever verifiable evidence about anything supernatural, but we have a surmounting abundace of evidence of supernatural claims that are verifiably false, or even total hoaxes. The four Gospels are not a historical source, but more like an ethnographical source. None of the writers, whom we do not know for sure when or who they were, signed to historical integrity. There is one contemporary historical source. That is Josephus, who possibly refers to Jesus being crucified, but he writes it down only as common knowledge and not as an important historical event. In a nother story Josphus even tells us how a man might survive crucifixion.
We have no way of knowing wether Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, or not. The Gospels are obviously written long after the incident, and have a very keen interrest to compell the reader about some key elements of the story, but still they fail to be coherent even about those. They contradict each other on every turn and are obvious hearsay stories in the case of the actual execution. They do not even claim to be eyewitness stories about the crucifixion. The Gospels name a group of women as the eyewitnesses of the crucifixion and alledged death of Jesus, but some of those same women are also named to be the eyewitnesses of the events at the tomb, but they can hardly agree about anything what happened at the tomb. How many angels were there and what did they say or do? Were there guards at the tomb, or not? Did the dead rise from the graves during the execution? There are a number of ways how the described events could have played out so that the apostoles thought Jesus died on the cross, even if he did not and we can not even rule out the possibility that they lied about the entire event, after they had invested and committed their entire lives on it.
The mere fact that the Gospel writers agree, that Jesus died on the cross does not conclude that is what really happened. They could not have known for sure. None of them were doctors, or even present at the execution, nor at the burial. The fact that they also agree to have seen him after the execution is evidence of him not having died on the cross. They claim he still bore the wounds from the crucifixion, but it is no wonder, that this particular group of people thought, that it was more likely he resurrected, rather than that he merely was a lucky gyu who happened to survive the crucifixion. Too much of a coincidence? More likelier as a coincidence, than as the most significant proof of supernatural activity, anyway? Maybe it was no coincidence and there was a conspiracy to save Jesus. There were plenty of people with very good motives to make such conspiracies. We can not know, or verify, if there was one, or several, nor none. And all this only if we think, that the entire story is not a complete fabrication (wich we cannot verify).
I personally happen think a good part of it is true, since there are often true events behind intriguing stories. That may make them more compelling, but the truth of this event is lost to us. It is not even evidence, not to speak of proof, of anything supernatural. The mere fact that the Gospels contradict each other is evidence that the particular claims about a god in the Bible are false, because them contradicting each other is very suspicious in comparrison to claims that they were written under divine inspiration and influence.
We take the historical sources are evidence of what happened as far as they do not make supernatural claims. We do not really think that the pharaos were sons of gods, though all the contemporary sources written down during the thousands of years the pharaos ruled over Egypt claim so. We do not really think there lived dogheaded people beyond Sarmatia during antiquity, even though a number of historical sources from that era claim so. There is no actual historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus any more than there is for these claims. Sorry.
Well first off. Mr Kant’s debunkal has been debunked several times over. Kalam is a logical argument and still stands. As do many other theist theories about the beginning of the universe. It is almost fun to watch as atheists start to dance and wriggle because they can not answer the question on the birth of the universe in satisfactory manner. Well I can. Gen 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
I also see that you have read your atheist propaganda on resurrection carefully. Do try to remember that discussion is still going on and advances. You have fallen behind the times on some of your issues.
But let’s have some refreshing change. I will supply you with some of your own experts challenging some of your arguments. I find this infidels.org stuff a refreshing change on the otherwise boringly monotonous atheist crap. And these articles contain some updates that you seem to need in your argumentation.
How Not to Argue Against the Historicity and Resurrection of Jesus:
The Contemporary Debate on the Resurrection:
BHS, I am glad you find yourself entertained. However, atheism does not require an answer to the question of the origin of the universe. It simply does not accept your explanation, because it is absolute fancy to think it was a particular personal deity. It is a totally unverifiable claim. So, how does that make me “dance and wriggle” around anything?
Besides your answer to the same question continues to claim your god made first the earth and only after that the sun. Since, this is hardly likely, and since so many other ancient cultures have made equally silly and unplausible and mutually exclusive claims how the heavenly bodies came to be, it is very easy to conclude, that such claims for the origin of the universe are mere fantastic guesses by men who had no idea how it happened. The question is not how the universe came to be, if it was not made by a particular god as not claimed by that, or any god anywhere, but instead by some old books. The question remains, is it more plausible, that a supernatural entity wich happened to create the universe out of nothing, decided to tell about this to a few guys to write it down so future generations of all the people on earth could just absorb this information without question, or is it more likely that men have made up all the religious explanations of the origin of the universe?
Why would you think humans have an answer to the question of the origin of universe, anyway?
How was Kant debunked? I did not know, that he was refuted on the Kalam issue.
You seem to jump into conclusions. Such as the conclusion, that since the Bible tells how the universe came to be, it must be true. It is just the same as to claim, that since it says in the Tacitus Germania, that there are dog-headed people beyond Sarmatia, and since it is not possible to refute that claim by any amount of certainty, simply because none have ever been found, there must have been some. Or to such conclusions as, that if I have raised similar questions as a nother atheist, I must have learned my ideas from that very same atheist. I have never had any habit of reading into any atheist propaganda. I like to make my own conclusions. As logical as I can, with what information I have at hand. If I have, here in this conversation, claimed something and it is not a quotation recognized by me from someone else (like Kant), it is my own understanding of the sources we have awailable. I have read my Josephus, Tacitus and the Bible. Have you?
The links you provided do not argue against my claims. If you think they do, you could point out where and how. However, keep reading there is good stuff there to behold.
Well please do not be beyond refutation. You do have a sharp head but it is foolhardy to think that you can be expert in everything. The worst fanatics among christians come among those that think they can never be wrong. And especially want to be immune to criticism from among their own.
Thus the conclusions of the internet infidels are a great learning tool for you (and me). Quotes like one of your main points, gospel contradictions should make you think your position:
“even if one treats the NT accunts of the Resurrection as historical accounts, the fact that those accounts contradict one another about incidental details provides no direct evidence against the Resurrection itself”
or the conclusion of the other article:
“On the basis of the available evidence (and the arguments I’ve seen), I conclude that a rational person may accept or reject the resurrection”
And so on. This is the view of those that are negative to the message of the gospel. I’d say truth lies somewhere between your position and Mr. Laine Craig’s position and one is indeed in their rights to believe resurrection on the basis of the new testament accounts.
Now there is still those questions on Genesis and non christian miracles. You throw questions as big as an ocean and each would be a long discussion. So I’m afraid we will have to look at them later. We all have lives to live do we not 😉
I do not think myself an expert at everything. But it does not mean I need to take some other people as authorities in a matter I am able to evaluate myself. And should be able to, if this god of yours was just or mercifull. I can be wrong and have found myself wrong about a great many things during my life. As far as I know, inerrancy is only claimed by religious leadership and holy supposedly divinely inspired scriptures. And that alone should make you suspicious about them. Especially, if they make obvious mistakes, or are in contradiction to themselves (like demonstrated in this conversation abowe).
Now, how do these quotes you took from the “infidel” sites argue against my previous points? You quoted that: “even if one treats the NT accunts of the Resurrection as historical accounts, the fact that those accounts contradict one another about incidental details provides no direct evidence against the Resurrection itself” But I do not take the NT accouts as historical. I allready told you they are obviously ethnographical material. There is no way of verifying anything about them.Them contradicting each other is proof they are not innerant, nor divinely inspired. Them verifying certain supernatural events between each other, is no historical evidence of such events. It is actually not proof of anything exept a common goal between their writers on certain religious points. The limit between the possibly historical points about them is right there, in the supernatural claims. We accept ancient sources to be historical only when they are describing natural events that can be verified (like in my example about Tacitus and the dog-headed people). The second quote you gave was that: “On the basis of the available evidence (and the arguments I’ve seen), I conclude that a rational person may accept or reject the resurrection” I agree with this one to a certain extent. A lot of generally rational people choose to believe something like this, even without actual rational evidence for it. Like I said we do not know what happened to Jesus.
There is no way we may even know. That is the main problem about such an extraordinary event as a resurrection, that it would certainly need a lot more rational proof to become a plausible suggestion. As a story, it bears all the resemblance to a religious story from any religion or ancient folklore. To most folklore there is a key element of truth in them, but that does by no means transform those stories to be exactly true in any case. It is possible that Jesus resurrected, but since the evidence for that is so remote, it hardly serves as proof of a god. It is utter circular reasoning to claim that the resurrection had to be true, because a god would be an obvious explanation to it, and that a god must exist because Jesus appeared to perform the resurrection. These mythical characters do not confirm each other, but on the contrary they set each other in a questionable light.
Furher more. Even if there was a god and a semi-historical character called Jesus was somehow connected to that particular god, we still would not know anything about this god for sure. The stories in the book, where these both entities appear, do not give an impression of perfectly just or perfectly mercifull god, unless you abandon ethics and take the alledged word of these characters in the book as an ultimate measure for what is just, or mercifull. That is a nother complete circle in thinking and hardly leads to better ethics.
If I have presented too hard or too wide ranging questions in my comments, you may ignore them, or take them as rethorical, or answer to them to yourself, if you can. There is no pressure, I have allready come to my own conclusions about their answers. Perhaps we should let our host present the questions and try to answer him, instead of getting into these terribly long conversations far beyond the topic.
Little conflicts that gospels have are caused by different viewpoints of the writers. To me that is an indication of better trustworthiness. It is an indication that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John did not sit down on the same table and coordinate their testimonials. It would have been a simple matter to do so and get the same stories. So reading gospels is like watching courtroom testimonials. Each giving their own view of the happening. Minute details might be therefore wrong but historicity of the crucifixion and resurrection remains strong. It is up to an individual to decide about wether the supernatural parts are true. So we do have an accord here. Fifty fifty. True or not, anyone can decide themselves.
“If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”
F. F. Bruce
BHS, the courtroom analogy fails, because there is no courtroom that would accept such vague testimonies. If the Gospels were written under divine inspiration, why do they not conclude on the details? The fact that the writers did not write it all down at once and under co-ordinated plan, does by no means make these stories any more true. The fact that individual fanfiction writers of Star Trek do not know what the others have written, but agree, that U.S.S. Enterprice is a spaceship capable of moving faster than light, does not turn any of their stories into truth. Sorry about the silly analogy.
The Gospel writers can hardly agree about anything on the matter of what actually happened, exept that Jesus resurrected, so wich testimony is true and wich is false? How many angels were there? Were there guards at the tomb? Did the dead rise from their graves? These are not minor differences of eyewitness testimonies. They are wild hearsay stories with a high element of supernatural bias, that would not be admissable in any sane court. None of the Gospel writers even claims to have been present at the execution, or at the burial. The mere fact that they do agree about one thing (wich is quite an unlikely event, as you must agree) does not mean that it is true. It only goes to represent how untrustworthy witnesses these stories serve as.
We simply do not know what happened at the crucifixion. Do we? There propably is some reason why you are ready to jump into conclusion, that the story about the resurrection has to be true, while I find it such an extraordinary claim would require better and more reliable information to be plausible. The main difference between you and I, as a result is, that since I do not find this story plausible, I am condemned to eternal torment according to your holy scriptures, while you are promised eternal bliss. Can you percieve, why I find this all so very suspicios?
Though I would like to give you fifty/fifty chances, that is not at all what it looks like from my point of view. I woud say, there is a remote possibility of your particular religion being true on some parts (as there is for most religions I have ever heard of), but the Gospels are such a weak source of information about this stuff that they are not very convincing. Still a person may of course choose to hold something sacred, though most often that only happens to people who are compelled by their particular religious, or ideological story. And people are compelled by the most extraordinary stories and have faith in a multitude of religions and different cultural explanations of gods.
You are appealing to authority I do not recognize. Who is this F. F. Bruce and what is his position on that university? Why would he tell such a blatant lie, or is it something he really believes in because it is not his field of expertise, or is his opinion just something totally taken out of context? We may call the Gospels historical sources, just as we call Tacitus and his book Germania a historical source. It is just the fancy supernatural stuff we do not take as historical. That is why those books are in those parts ethnographical sources (though interresting at that) and not historical as such. In addition to that Tacitus is known to have signed into historical integrity and the Gospels are religious stories by religious men among a legion of different and mutually exclusive religious stories by religious men. Do you understand the difference?
F.F. Bruce is a very well known New Testament researcher:
I recommend that you learn his stuff well as well as N.T. Wright’s or Mr Lane Craig’s among others if you want to be taken seriously in the resurrection debate. Expert opinion is always something you should not pass by lightly. It is a sign of wisdom to learn well what the other side has to say.
As for court of law that has taken a serious look at the resurrection. Supreme Court of New South Wales:
Seems to concur with my opinion. I’d say that the evidence for the historicity is quite strong. As for miracles.. Up to each individual to decide themselves.
I have not studied Tacitus extensively and I need to some day. But I’d say that his writing is typical of the people of that day. Maybe bit overdoing it but with a strong grain of truth. Dog faced people? Perhaps a village of deformed people. Such genetic, man made or disease deformities are not unknown:
There is a natural explanation to most miracles but not all. And even we do know the natural explanation does not rule God out. There are plenty of things that science can not yet measure and maybe will never be able to. After all does it matter if we find out the mechanics of how God did something?
BHS, what other side? You are the other side in this debate. You know, the desicion about the reliability of the Bible should not depend on the opinions of other people (experts or not), if your god was just or even mercifull, because then there would not be this ridiculous guessing game if your god even exists, nor is all the things alledged about this entity.
I do not recognize theologians and their opinions as expert views on this matter. They are kind of anti-scientists, because as I allready said science never starts from the premise that the end result of research is beforehand setteled. They work to prove the existance of a god and believe in a particular god as a preset and absolute truth, even though they can not posses any knowledge about such an entity. That is a very bad and unlikely way of reaching any objective views.
Of course a Christian court would rule that Jesus died and resurrected, because they are biased to think so beforehand. Just like a religious Christian researcher would. I doubt that they would if they did not know whose death and events they are researching into. There is no eyewitness accounts and the testimonies have been given years after the actual event. Even all the testimonies are by people who have emotionally totally committed to the religious cult wich hangs on the idea that something supernatural happened. Sorry these are not evidences a sane court would accept. Even so. Courts sometimes missrule. Especially if the “experts” in the court, or the jury were biased against the accused. Just like happened to Jesus, remember?
The defences against the other possibilites than resurrection are just silly:
1. The possibility that the body of Jesus was stolen. Only Matt ever claims that the tomb was sealed and that there were guards. The story about the guards is an obvious fabrication, since he claims to know how the priests and the Romans came to decide there should be guards and because the guards do not appear in the other versions, though they obviously should have.
Further more the women were going to the tomb with embalming herbs. If there were guards and an impossibly heavy stone at the doorway, what did the women thought they could accomplish there?
2. The Gospels are a lie. We do not even know who wrote them. If it indeed was the apostoles to whom they are attributed to their martyrdom proves nothing else but the fact that they were fanatic about their cause. And they thought their original leader had “sacrificed” himself for them. This does by no means point out that they were truthfull let alone knew wether Jesus had died and resurrected or not. Their credibility is not attacked by their enemies in their own writing.
3. Jesus could have just collapsed and caused people to think he resurrected, because we have no direct eyewitness account about the events at the crucifixion. Even if most of the stuff the women claimed to have witnessed there was true, it does by no means rule out the possibility of Jesus surviving. We do not know what happened there for sure nor even if he was put to the grave and most importantly we have no information of how long was he in there. But we do know that it was possible to survive crucifixion, and that the soldiers did not brake the legs of Jesus.
4. The imposter. Why was it so difficult for the diciples to recognize Jesus after his execution? Would you have a hard time to recognize your good friend even after he was proclaimed dead if that friend came calling and spoke to you? I doubt that very much.
So, any of these other explanations presents itself as more likely than that Jesus was a son of a particular god, and that he resurrected as claimed by the Gospels.
Yes, it is possible that there is a natural explanation to the dog-headed people in the histories by Tacitus. It is more than likely there is some natural explanation to a story that has grown out of its proportions in a time, when science was not a very often used model to explain extraordinary events and phenomenons. Exactly the same propability applies to the resurrection story of Jesus.
Natural explanations do not rule out god, but they do not serve as evidence of a god either. The more we can explain our environment by natural reason, the divine explanations become less likely. Gods are still totally unverified claims. People believe in them, like they do in other supernatural claims, simply by faith. However, would a just and mercifull god demand faith from us? Why?
This is where I stop. I have represented witness accounts from theologians, judges and even hard core atheists that say resurrection is possible. Of course there is never total accuracy in history. There is always possibility of casting doubt.
I might claim that Hitler still lives because his death is shrouded in similar sort of mystery. There are varying eyewitness accounts of his death too. Some heard gunshot in his room some claim there was none but still we take it as valid history. Even without the body. Plenty of different theories there. Are you rushing to cast doubt on his death? Why not? Almost the same problems of historicity apply there as well. Conflicting and bias eyewitness accounts and political games with conflicting interests.
But let’s leave Hitler dead or not debate to lunatics. That was just an example of how we normally take things in history for granted even with conflicting witness accounts. That’s just how history works. No 100% certainties and no DNA tests unfortunately.
God does not play games. His glory is plainly visible to anyone willing to look. But there is also room for doubt. That’s why I say fifty-fifty. One can believe or not to believe. That’s how God wants it. You have total freedom to go your own way. No problem there.
BHS, yes the conversation has not advanced much in a while and the actual topic about god being mercifull, or just has been abandoned, at least by you, a long time ago.
I do not expect to be able to make you see that the theologians are not qualified as “wittnesses” in this case, since they have made their mind up about the very extraordinary claims beforehand. Their only goal is to prove what they allready and absolutely believe to be the truth. But their faith is based on an exeptional and mere impossible to prove claim. That is not how objective reality is observed. The problem lies in that what was for centuries a traditional and naturally accepted claim about supernatural influence in the world, has moved from that position to the state of very extraordinary claim, as we have started to understand the universe around us. That is why there are such silly, illogical and defencive attitudes as the creationism.
The story of resurrection is not strong in historical sense, but a lot of historians and even judges have based their world view on believing it. This faith in the surpernatural has naturally affected their judgement. I have not claimed to know the historical events around that myth, but at least I am able to recognize it as what it is – a myth.
As to Mr. Hitler he may be alive, though that would require for someone to have saved him from the bunker in besieged Berlin. He would be something like 123 now and he clearly was a sick man when he was last seen in public. But he did not smoke, did not drink alcohol and was a vegetarian, so who knows. His words certainly moved a lot of people. The dental record of his burned body was witnessed by several doctors, and though there are people who firmly believe he did not die, it looks rather unlikely that he did not. The evidence for his death is surmounting in comparrison to the alledged evidence about Jesus having resurrected.
On the other hand, it is quite possible that in a couple of hundred years we have a cult that says HItler resurrected, and did not die, and shall return from heavens to lead the si called “aryan” race once again in the end times of the world. Maybe some scriptures about this will be atributed to Goebbels, Himler, Göring, or Speer and even if these text contradicted each other there will still be people who want to believe in them. There propably are allready diehards who are certain of something like this. And though someone would write a book that claims all this now, it still would not transform into reality. It is even possible that some 2000 years from now, there are still people expecting Hitlers speedy return and claim that the modern world where they live in, is a proof of the need for Mr. Hitler to return. I would say that it is a possibility that Hitler resurrected, but just as remote one as that Jesus did. Do you understand?
Call it what you will, but to me it strikes as a perfectly cruel game as a system of who ends up in eternal torment and who gets to heaven by being born into the right culture, or finding one particular god more plausible than all the others, perhaps it is not a game, but what it is not either is perfectly just, or perfectly mercifull.
Gee! Hitler’s alive now? I was taught otherwise in the elementary school! Your take on history is a strange one indeed. A lot of the history we take for granted did not happen. O well each to their own I suppose 😆
As for the discussion. Was it me who started all of these side rails? Roll up the page a bit and look who started all this. 💡
Hi, i’ve got a question, not really related to this article, but i was wondering if you could answer it.
Everyone has different opinions, different views of things, different ways of thinking. Another way to put it is by asking different people what they thought their paradise would be. I had that as a art assignment once. And all of the 26 students came up with something very different (out of these 26, about 22 are Christians, just so you know). Because none of us have the same views. Everyone acts the way they think is the best way to act. Even if it’s very different.
Then how can God judge someone? Everyone would end up in Heaven if He judged them by the person’s views.
You’ll say it’s the way the Bible says. But not everyone Christian agrees with the TOTALITY of the Bible, right? Some Christians i’ve debated with said to not take the old testament literally. Thats means they don’t agree with the totality of the Bible. But they’re still Christians.
Everyone acts the way THEY think will do the greater good.
Then how can God judge someone?
I’m sorry, i just find humanity and the idea of a Christian God contradicting.
I’m sorry if you’re going to waste your time explaining religion to a thirteen year-old. But i think I deserve some answers.
I’m Atheist by the way, just so you know.
Howdy Chloe, I think we all deserve some answers. 🙂
Indeed, some things seem naturally good, but not everyone agrees on them. Like how many disparate cultures once deemed it was “good” to worship the sun. (Surely God put this truth on their hearts, because how else would they come this same “good” conclusion?) And ancient Hebrews once deemed it was “good” to kill everyone in Israel who wasn’t Hebrew… even the babies (surely their parents didn’t deem this as very good). And modern Muslim extremists deemed it “good” to fly planes into the World Trade Center.
So if God exists, I’m not sure how He sorts out all this “goodness”. I can’t imagine He would punish people for doing what they believed in their hearts to be good. If they were mistaken, it seems it’s God’s fault for not stating His desires clearly enough (if He did, surely they would have followed them).
That’s not to say that all religion is bad, it may improve people’s lives… even if it’s wrong. But I think we have to acknowledge its potential to be misleading and, at worst, deadly.
Regardless of whether or not God exists, I think all this confusion is really quite sad. As you’ve said, we deserve some answers, and religion only seems to cloud the issue rather than coming to any firm conclusions. If we (humans) don’t know the answer, we should say “I don’t know.” So to answer your question, I honestly don’t know how God would judge these people… if He exists. But I think you’re right in saying it seems contradictory; for a God who is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), Christianity is often very confusing.
BUT, don’t believe me, or anything else you read on the Internet — always do your homework, listen to both sides, and keep thinking for yourself.
Oh, don’t worry about my homework, quickly and well done ;). And i guess what i came on here for – i’m always chatting with atheists my age or a bit older, and then i found this website, and decided just to give it a look – and asking you a few questions. 😀 To get both sides’ views.
Several moments ago i was messaging a group called Understanding Islam. It was interesting, and i asked them things that were bugging me about their religion – women’s rights.
And it was really interesting to get answers from inside the religion, you know? And i found out things that were really worth thinking of. Islam is actually quite the same as Christianity from a non-subjective viewpoint – Holy book, rules to follow, dictates to know – and the only way things go wrong is if the people, the followers of this religion interpret it differently than it is meant to be interpreted; or just don’t rely on it enough in their lives and just use the rules and dictates when it helps their personal interest.
Because, I personally think, that religion is actually quite good (giving faith to people, making them morally stronger, etc…) IF it isn’t influencing other people and causing any kind of (mental & physical) harm.
BUT, getting back to the subject, (the rest of this is assuming God exists) if God had a place for us to go when we die and that place can only be attained by doing good, wouldn’t he send some kind of reliable “proof/evidence” for us to believe that a such thing exists? I mean, sure, you’ve got the Bible, but more and more people are doubting it. It worked just fine in the Middle Ages, but not anymore. Wouldn’t he send someone or something to show us? Because if he doesn’t, i find that unfair for us, it’s like playing an unknown game but you don’t know what the rules are. So you just play on whims…or waste the whole game trying to figure out the rules.
I couldn’t agree more.
This straightforward tip will save you a lot of frustration.
Some of the worst culprits come from the whole appliances that people used
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love… keeps no record of wrongs. …It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
so howbout these syllogisms:
if god is love, and love keeps no record of wrongs, then god must not keep a record of wrongs
if love keeps no record of wrongs, but god keeps a record of wrongs to punish us, then god is not love
if the bible says god is love, but god is not what the bible says love is, then god’s word is false
if god’s word is false, and god’s word is what tells us to be christian, then there’s no need to be a christian
if god is love, and love keeps no record of wrongs, then god must not keep a record of wrongs
if god keeps no record of wrongs, and hell is where you’re punished for your record of wrongs, then no one’s going to hell
if no one’s going to hell, and we become christians to be saved from hell, then there’s no need to be a christian
Yes, no need for Christianity or any other religion for the matter. Morality is simply a social neccessity that can exist independent of God and his Words. We need morality and lawfulness to function sanely in this world. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this thread.
Heh, nice syllogisms anonymathiest, but I think you would know well that if one is false the conclusion is false as well. Which, I found to be the case, and thought you might like to know. “…but god keeps a record of wrongs to punish us…” He doesn’t. Who said He did? I seriously don’t know. Actually, I’m not only curious as to since when did He have to keep a record to, but since when did He punish us? I am baffled at how you came up with that. Since God is holy, He cannot be with sin or sinners. It’s just not possible whatsoever. Truly inconceivable. Hell is the only option we have, if we disregard Christ’s death to cleanse us. Hell isn’t someplace God throws you in glee, to punish a person. It’s a place you automatically choose to go by rejecting Him and His Son. You as well, are falsifying evidence. 😛
Chloe, God DID send someone, and His name is Jesus Christ. He loves you and desires for you to follow Him.
This is in response to the supposed contradicting mercy and grace of God, from the gotquestions.com site:
Question: “How do God’s mercy and justice work together in salvation?”
Answer: God’s justice and mercy are seemingly incompatible. After all, justice involves the dispensing of deserved punishment for wrongdoing, and mercy is all about pardon and compassion for an offender. However, these two attributes of God do in fact form a unity within His character.
The Bible contains many references to God’s mercy. Over 290 verses in the Old Testament and 70 in the New Testament contain direct statements of the mercy of God toward His people.
God was merciful to the Ninevites who repented at the preaching of Jonah, who described God as “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). David said God is “gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:8–9, NASB).
But the Bible also speaks of God’s justice and His wrath over sin. In fact, God’s perfect justice is a defining characteristic: “There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:21, WEB). “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
In the New Testament, Paul details why God’s judgment is coming: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).
So the Bible showcases the fact that God is merciful, but it also reveals that He is just and will one day dispense justice on the sin of the world.
In every other religion in the world that holds to the idea of a supreme deity, that deity’s mercy is always exercised at the expense of justice. For example, in Islam, Allah may grant mercy to an individual, but it’s done by dismissing the penalties of whatever law has been broken. In other words, the offender’s punishment that was properly due him is brushed aside so that mercy can be extended. Islam’s Allah and every other deity in the non-Christian religions set aside the requirements of moral law in order to be merciful. Mercy is seen as at odds with justice. In a sense, in these religions, crime can indeed pay.
If any human judge acted in such a fashion, most people would lodge a major complaint. It is a judge’s responsibility to see that the law is followed and that justice is provided. A judge who ignores the law is betraying his office.
Christianity is unique in that God’s mercy is shown through His justice. There is no setting aside of justice to make room for mercy. The Christian doctrine of penal substitution states that sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ, and that only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice does God extend His mercy to undeserving sinners who look to Him for salvation.
And while Christ did indeed die for sinners, He also died as a demonstration of God’s righteousness, to showcase His justice. This is exactly what the apostle Paul says: “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:24–26, emphasis added).
In other words, God didn’t immediately punish sin before the time of Christ; rather, extended mercy. But He did not pass over justice. His righteousness (i.e., His justice) was demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. At the cross, God’s justice was meted out in full (upon Christ), and God’s mercy was extended in full (to all who believe). So God’s perfect mercy was and is exercised through His perfect justice.
The end result is that, by the sacrificial death of Jesus, everyone who trusts in Him is saved from God’s wrath and instead experiences His grace and mercy (Romans 8:1). As Paul says, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9).
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/mercy-justice.html#ixzz39rsaRNT1
God is perfectly merciful and perfectly just! this real but for different people, Very merciful when you deserve it, but very very just, for others people who deserve judgment!
As you will be punished if you sin, we are seeing this every day, punished for generations!
We can blame God for being just, but can’t control our senses!
Jesus can in way is paying the price for our transgressions?
That is just an eye wash; we all know the wages of sin is death! We are dying even after Jesus died on cross? Why? What is the difference?
1. Jesus, is not only the son of God, we are also.
2. He was conceived by power of the Holy Spirit, to show, Our GTF’s miraculous power. So he is not son, then who is mother God? (Human thinking)
3. He did lot of miracles, but it based on the faith of the healer, He could not do in many occasions as they lacked faith.
4. He was also tested like us, which he passed.
5. He died on cross, as a normal human.
6…If the disciples really saw him alive again, do you think they would have continued to hide? Would they not come in open to proclaim? As God was with us them, why would they fear humans who can kill only the body and not the soul!
7. The belief is, He was sacrificed for our sins? Read it again, for our sins! Was it for people who lived before him or after him? What is the validity? As it is now 2014 year after his death! Will this lie continue? Are we given a card to swipe whenever we like?
8. To who was he sacrificed? As proclaimed till now, Is it for our GTF (God Thee Father)? What a lie!
Which father on earth, itself will accept his son as a sacrifice to forgive someone else sins forever? Is it not a lie, told for centuries? And we are still believing this naked lie!
9. Jesus ascended into heaven is recorded in Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:36-53, Acts 1:6-12, and 1 Timothy 3:16, then, how and where was he sacrificial lamb? Is it the way he was killed? Then John the Baptist wins, as his head was cut!
Which is more severe? Nailing or cutting the throat?
10. The whole world saw him crucified, but after resurrection he was seen only by his close disciples? How/why?
11. After his death and resurrection, He was with his body as recorded, when he came to meet Thomas the doubt, then… What would have happened to his body in Heaven where we will be his body among the spirits/souls? Which assumption is wrong? Will our body rise again, when we go to Heaven/Hell?
12. He is coming again is story to keep us in good conduct? Then from his death till now, where are all dead body souls waiting?
13. We are seeing that those who have as sinned suffering or their children suffering for what their parents did, as told in the commandments!
We know to blame God when we see children in the world suffer, but never blame their parents, who brought this misery to the children? New true concept.
Now most important question, how was the world saved or is being saved by Jesus? We are having same death, misery, suffering all in a better package, then what was before Jesus came, then what is the contribution of Jesus?
Correct me, Trinity concept was introduced,as confusion started and Nicene-Constantinopolitan to save his kingdom? so each of the protesters can worship, as they want but his post, so king will be intact?
At least now… can we go back to our GTF (God Thee Father) accepting/adoring Him as our only God!?
“Just when I thought I had it all figured out, someone points out that God’s defining characteristic isn’t justice or mercy, it’s love! And God’s not just loving, He is love (1 John 4:8). That being the case, God would almost certainly have to place mercy above justice, and the contradiction remains.”
This comment is actually inaccurate on two points. The first point is the view of love taken in this comment. It is wrong because love (God’s love) does not over-look wrongs; love is based in truth. You seem to be looking at love from a humanistic standpoint rather than from a Godly standpoint (1 Cor. 13:1-13). Therefore, love includes both mercy and justice, and they are not placed above one another; placing mercy above justice as you are asserting is not accurate. Once you understand what love is you will see that there is not a contradiction. Furthermore, a proper understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice explains the “contradiction” between God’s justice and mercy. God is just in that every single sin ever committed will be accounted for; God is gracious in that we do not have to necessarily be the ones to give account for that sin (Romans 4:7-8).
The second point, which really is irrelevant, but it pertains to your statement on God’s defining characteristic; it is not love but rather holiness. God’s love, grace, mercy, justice, wrath, judgment, etc. are all based out of the characteristic of God’s holiness. This is true even of God’s being. God’s holiness means that there is none (or nothing) like Him, and this is especially true of His being (for example, see the atheistic objection about the existence of other gods, such as Zeus; this objections fails to consider the impossibility to two infinite beings. If there were more than two gods, they would have to be finite; thus not God). Therefore, holiness is even the defining characteristic of God’s Being.
[Therefore, love includes both mercy and justice, and they are not placed above one another; placing mercy above justice as you are asserting is not accurate. Once you understand what love is you will see that there is not a contradiction. ]
Your God’s concept of love is inferior to the selfless love human beings are capable of.
He is the most merciful and The just!!!.
Thats the reason you and me are still alive? If was punishing for the Sins committed by each one of us, we should died atleast few times.
Good article and great thoughts! This is a subject definitely worth addressing. Here is what we would say:
“31. Can God be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just?
Dan Barker (former preacher turned atheist) often points out that a perfectly just and perfectly merciful God cannot exist, because any extension of mercy necessitates a suspension of justice. For example, if God allows someone into heaven who truly “deserved” to go to hell, then He is being merciful, but not just. But if He sends them to hell, then He is just, but not merciful.
Can Jesus save us from this contradiction?
Maybe we can get out of this contradiction by assuming that God isn’t actually being merciful, because someone else is paying the price for our transgressions — Jesus! But how exactly this exchange takes place is a bit of a mystery.
It’s definitely not a quid pro quo or eye-for-an-eye exchange, as Jesus is not taking our place in hell. If he’s sitting at the right hand of God, then he can’t possibly be taking on the full extent of our punishment.”
–This author completely misses the point of the thing we Christians celebrate most: the resurrection. When we die, we pay the debt we owe to God for our sin. But then we stay dead in the Biblical sense, that is, separated from God, who is life and light. We do not have the power to conquer death.
Jesus fully paid our debt because He died, which is the punishment for sin. But after the debt was paid, God raised Jesus from the dead. “Wait!” you might say, “isn’t that cheating?” No, because Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He had never sinned. So in raising Jesus from the dead, God did nothing unjust. In fact, God was rewarding Jesus’ obedience in paying our debt by resurrecting and glorifying Jesus.
“And even if God did punish Jesus for our sins, then we can’t say He’s perfectly just, because He allows the guilty to be rewarded while an innocent scapegoat is punished.”
–There are two issues here that the author is missing:
1. The author is defining justice in terms of vengeance, that suffering must be inflicted on the guilty for there to be justice. God defines justice in terms of debt. Sin is a debt that is owed and must be paid. In His mercy, God has allowed this debt to be paid by anyone who is able to pay it.
We do this all the time in our society and consider it just. Let’s say you are riding in the car with Amith driving. If he got a traffic ticket, and you happened to have some money in your purse to pay it, the police would consider the fine paid and Amith would be free to go.
Of course, only Jesus is able to pay the debt for our sins.
2. The author says the God is not perfectly just because “an innocent scapegoat is punished.” This would be true except for one thing: Jesus chose to take the punishment and pay the debt. If a judge inflicts punishment on an innocent person, that is unjust. If a person volunteers to come forward and take the punishment, that is not the judge’s decision at all, that is the volunteer’s decision.
If God had been forcing Jesus to take our punishment, we would not have seen the agony of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, where He wrestled with the decision to do this.
“Mercy for some, but justice for all?
The problem with the above objections is that they don’t take into account who defines what is justice. If it is God, then it could be argued, and I think reasonably so, that God’s definition of justice may include an escape clause for those who sincerely repent.
If such is the case, then God could be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just. His justice is perfectly applied to everyone, and His mercy is perfectly applied to those who have repented under that system of justice. Ergo, mercy is no longer a suspension of justice, because extending mercy is a part of justice.
Our earthly systems of justice operate in much the same way, as we often extend mercy to those who have shown remorse for their crimes.”
–The author is partially correct here. God does extend mercy to those who repent. But again, the author does not fully understand two things.
1. On earth, we may shorten an prison sentence or reduce a fine because someone shows remorse, without the criminal or anyone else taking the full punishment. God extends mercy because the price has already been paid.
2. Remorse or repentance itself is not enough to receive the mercy of God. We must also turn to Jesus, since He is the one who paid our debt. Rev 1:7 says “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will mourn on account of Him.” These nations are wailing (feeling remorse), not because they have come to love Jesus and are feeling grief that they pierced Him, but because they know they are going to be judged for having pierced Him.
“Do I have problems with this system of justice? Possibly, because unless God makes it perfectly clear that He exists and that the Bible is His truth, then we may end up in hell over a simple misunderstanding, which doesn’t seem very just. Unless… of course… God says it’s just, in which case we’re all just screwed.”
–I would like to ask this author, what more does God need to do to make it clear that He exists and the Bible is His truth? God showed the presence of a Creator through the intricacy of His creation. He wrote many prophecies in the Bible which came true. Jesus came and said He was God, then did miracles to prove it. This is not “a simple misunderstanding” that the author is describing; it is a willful refusal to believe.
“UPDATE: God is Love
Just when I thought I had it all figured out, someone points out that God’s defining characteristic isn’t justice or mercy, it’s love! And God’s not just loving, He is love (1 John 4:8). That being the case, God would almost certainly have to place mercy above justice, and the contradiction remains.”
–1. Since God is perfect in every way, you can’t really say that He has one defining characteristic that outweighs the others. I believe that God emphasizes to us that He is love because that is what we humans most need to hear. We are relational beings, and our connection to God is based on relationship, out of which all other things (obedience, sacrifice etc) must flow.
The angels, on the other hand, as God’s messengers and servants, emphasize the holiness of God – we see them repeatedly proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” And that is 100% true of God too. But all of God’s characteristics are fully true of Him, and one characteristic never negates another, they are all true all at the same time.
2. This author clearly defines “love” differently than God does, or else the author gave his response without really thinking through all the implications of placing mercy above justice; would that really be love? If I have stolen something of yours, and the judge lets me off because he loves me, is that love to you? Of course not; that is injustice to you.
And is it actually love to me? No, because I haven’t learned or improved, I simply got away with my crime. Also, it means that I am now living in a world characterized by injustice; is that a good environment for me? No. And it means that I am trusting an unjust God.
No, for love to be complete, justice is just as crucial as mercy. For God to be a God of love, He must also be just. And of course, it was His love that prompted Him to send Jesus to fulfill justice so that He could offer mercy to us. Those characteristics are inseparable.