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Bob Argues With a Saudi About Whether it is Good to Execute Homosexuals

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While Saudi Arabia is in the news, I have a question for our subjectivist friends.  In the United States it is considered morally wrong to execute a person for being a homosexual.  In Saudi Arabia it is considered morally right to execute a person for being a homosexual.

As I understand subjectivist reasoning, morality is subjective and culturally determined.  If you were in Saudi Arabia I assume you would attempt to get them to change their mind about executing homosexuals.  I am curious.  How would you argue for that?  I can imagine a subjectivist (let’s call him “Bob”) making a number of arguments, and a probable response from a Saudi:

  1. Bob: Executing people because they are homosexual is morally reprehensible.

Saudi:  That’s just your opinion Bob.  In my opinion executing people because they are homosexual is morally correct and laudable.  And you yourself tell me that your personal subjective view on the matter is no “better,” in any meaningful sense of that word, than mine.  So why should I care what you think?

  1. Bob: It is not just my opinion.  The people of the United States believe it is immoral to execute a person for being homosexual.  The Saudi people should be more like the American people.

Saudi:  Why?  The analysis does not change when you compare your group to mine.  Your own principles as a subjectivist tell me that the American view on the matter is no better, in any meaningful sense of that word, than the Saudi view.

  1. Bob: Don’t you believe in moral progress?  Every progressive nation believes that executing homosexuals is wrong.  Don’t you want to be progressive?

Saudi:  “Progressive”?  By what standard are you progressive?  Again, it is merely your opinion whether you are progressive.  Your own first principles say there is no objective standard by which progress toward “progressive” goals can be measured.  And I disagree.  We consider your coddling of homosexuals not to be progressive but decadent.

  1. Bob: Do you not care that the Western world rejects your views on this matter.

Saudi:  First, you are wrong.  Some progressive Westerners – the ones that understand their own premises forbid them from judging us – say “who am I to judge the Saudis.”  Second, no, I don’t care what you and your friends think Bob.  What is more, you yourself cannot give me a reason why I should care about what you and your friends think.  Besides, I will turn it back on you:  Don’t you care that the whole Islamic world rejects your views on the matter?

What am I missing?  The one argument that Bob can never logically make is that it is actually objectively wrong (as opposed to wrong in his humble opinion) to execute homosexuals.

Comments
OldAndrew said: Death is the price of sin, and one who dies has payed it. There is another view: annihilation, that is that there is a hell to shun, but that those who choose to enter there do not last forever, but are consumed. The wages of sin is death, the second death. Souls are not immortal. Jesus said that we should fear him who could destroy both body and soul in hell Mathew 10:28 (God) So, souls that sin do die, an eternal death in the end. Saints can die and sleep in the grave until the resurrection, but they ultimately live forever.Allen Shepherd
November 3, 2018
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OldAndrew
So he’s constantly churning out lives like a factory, knowing that most will end up in hell. (Didn’t Jesus say that few find the narrow road, but many find destruction? That’s minority vs. majority.)
You offer a good example of subjectivism. You read the words of Jesus and give your personal interpretation so that those words are meaningless. That's picking-and-choosing and that's what happens with private interpretation of the Bible. You can make up your own doctrines - as millions of people do and create your own religious and moral views. Entirely persona, entirely subjective. God creates people through love of them - not as a factory. He gives all a choice, in fairness. Many people hate God and choose to serve Satan. That is what they want to do - God honors the choice.
Hitler was evil, but he never tortured anyone for more than a few years.
In your view, death is the punishment. So, everyone receives the same punishment that Hitler received. Plus, he committed suicide rather than face justice on earth. In your view, suicide or not, Hitler paid the price of his sins merely by death.
Death is the price of sin, and one who dies has payed it. It’s so simple, and no one gets tortured forever.
In this view, everyone receives the same punishment. All degrees of evil and good receive the same - merely physical death. Beyond this, all people go to heaven to be with God forever. This includes all the people who hate God and want nothing to do with heaven and Jesus. But the reality is that when people choose sin and choose to reject God - they do not want to be with God forever. They would rather be in hell forever than to serve God. It is tempting for us to wish there is no hell. The final judgement is a fearful thought. But it is necessary. Jesus died a very painful death - for a reason. Salvation means something - salvation from something. If there is no hell, then none of it matters. There would be no justice and the natural moral law would be irrational. Where there is law, there is justice. Where there is justice there is judgement -- good versus evil. Where there is good or evil behavior, there is reward and punishment. An unjust system that rewards evil behavior is evil in itself. The teaching of hell is the teaching that came from Christ to the apostles. You can find it in the earliest Christian teachings. If you reject the teachings of Christ and the apostles on this, then what reason would anyone have to accept your ideas on this? Anybody can make up a religion. But the term religion means "to be bound". A religious believer is a follower - a disciple. It is a person who is committed to a belief that comes from God, not from his own imagination. To follow one's own imagination and one's own moral system is subjectivism. That's what this thread is about.Silver Asiatic
October 31, 2018
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JDK Thanks for clarifying Vividvividbleau
October 30, 2018
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How open is your mind? Are you open to considering my views: that we cannot know metaphysical Truth; that all religions are cultural inventions that serve important social and psychological purposes, but are not ontologically true; and that therefore we must make decisions about how to act by bringing all our human nature and skill to bear without having any recourse to any transcendent guidance. Is your mind open to that?
There is a lot of information in that paragraph. I will address each one separately: [a] I am not open to the proposition that metaphysical truth doesn't exist, because that proposition is, itself, a metaphysical truth claim. Obviously, it refutes itself. It isn't rational be open minded about something that is obviously false. [b] In the spirit of open-mindedness, I have considered the possibility that all religions are social constructs and even agree that it is true for most of them. However, there is a big gap between "most" and "all." Some things can be known to be true, once they are understand. If we know, for example, that God is both transcendent and immanent, and *why,* then we also know that Islam, which accepts transcendence but rejects immanence, and Buddhism, which accepts immanence but rejects transcendence, both contain serious errors (opposite errors in fact) and are not, therefore, worthy of belief. So it is with the world's philosophies. Most of them are false, but some of them are true. The philosophy of skepticism (we cannot know things as they are), for example, is false. If we can't know things as they are, (their identity) then we can't do logic, which is based on identities. (A thing is what it is and nothing else) SB:… the apostles … even suffered martyrdom for making it public. Do people die for ideas that they know are not true?
People die for things they think they know are true all the time.
I think you might have missed the words, "that they know are - *not* - true." A lot turns on that. It's evidence for sincerity. No one in his right mind will be willing to die or be persecuted for something he knows to be a lie.
Anyway, think what you will, I am not interested in having a full-blown discussion about Christianity.
Fair enough. I was just responding to your questions, which I appreciated. You are right in implying that a true dialogue is a timely process. Perhaps it may not be worth pursuing at the tail end of a thread.
I have enjoyed some of this discussion because of the specific questions that have been addressed, and the clear, specific answers about your beliefs (and SA’s) that have been provided, and I have offered some of my thoughts in return. That’s good enough for me.
I feel the same way. Thanks. For me, the difficulty is deciding when to summarize and when to stretch out, when to be blunt and when to use softer images.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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This is a bit relevant to our discussion: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/loren-jacobs-christian-rabbi-messianic-jews-mike-pence_us_5bd89b52e4b07427610c1e57jdk
October 30, 2018
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Romans 6:6 (“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin,” - Roman's 6:7 (for he who has died is freed from sin). It means that he who has died to sin is freed from sin.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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Old Andrew:
And yet the Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death.” “for he who has died is acquitted of (or released from) sin.”
No it doesn't. You just smuggled in Romans 6:23 (For the wages of sin is death) in the place of Romans 6:6 ("knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with,") which precedes Romans 6:7 (so that we would no longer be slaves to sin," which obviously precedes Romans 6:7 (for he who has died is freed from sin. The passage 6:7 mean that he who dies to sin is freed from sin. Romans 6:23 (The wages of sin is death) refers to physical death (separation of soul from body) and spiritual death (Hell). It is a totally different context than Roman's 6:6.
It’s so simple, and no one gets tortured forever.
A lot of things that are simple are also wrong.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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re 262, to OldAndrew: I appreciate your thoughts about hell. I'll leave it at that.jdk
October 30, 2018
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re 260: vivid writes,
You don’t believe in Capital T Truth. If your belief is true your belief is false because the Capital T truth would be that the Truth is there is no Truth which itself is a Truth. If your belief is false your belief is false as well. I just don’t understand how very smart and educated a person as yourself cling to beliefs that are incoherent.
This is just silly. I don't believe it is True that there is no Truth: that would be contradictory. But I just believe it is true that there is no Truth that we can know: that is, our knowledge is limited by our experience, and we don't have access to the metaphysical. That is a provisional belief, not a Certain one, but I think it fits the facts available to me better than the alternative, and I choose to live by it.jdk
October 30, 2018
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re 253. Thanks, Stephen> for reading the very brief history of my early background experiences on these subject. You write,
In effect, you said that I don’t deserve an answer to a substantive question because I had earlier asked a few “loaded” questions. However, I interpreted your language and your structure at that time to mean that I could respond not only to you personally but also to other members of your atheistic group to whom the loaded questions might have applied. All you needed to say was that those alternatives, which were intended as thought stimulators (not accusations), did not apply to you personally.
I apologize if I took your answers more personally than you intended. However, I don't think I said you didn't deserve answers: I said that I didn't think we could have a productive conversation. And I certainly don't see myself as belonging to an "atheistic group": I don't have very clear ideas about what other atheists believe on many of these topics, and certainly don't think that I represent any general consensus. I am just representing myself. You wrote,
[T]hat world view [mine about souls losing the differentiated identity at death] appeals to you even though there is no good reason to believe it. At the same time, I provided evidence (summarized to save time and be easily digested) that there is a world view that is much more likely to be true, and you chose not to respond on the grounds that interacting with me would “not be productive.”
And I disagree about which worldview is more likely to be true. But, to repeat, I'm not interested, for various reasons, including time, in getting into a full-blown discussion. You write,
Yet when confronted with evidence that it was not made up, and the prospect that there might be still more evidence not yet mentioned, you appear to close your mind.
How open is your mind? Are you open to considering my views: that we cannot know metaphysical Truth; that all religions are cultural inventions that serve important social and psychological purposes, but are not ontologically true; and that therefore we must make decisions about how to act by bringing all our human nature and skill to bear without having any recourse to any transcendent guidance. Is your mind open to that? You wrote,
... the apostles ... even suffered martyrdom for making it public. Do people die for ideas that they know are not true?
People die for things they think they know are true all the time. Anyway, think what you will, I am not interested in having a full-blown discussion about Christianity. I have enjoyed some of this discussion because of the specific questions that have been addressed, and the clear, specific answers about your beliefs (and SA's) that have been provided, and I have offered some of my thoughts in return. That's good enough for me.jdk
October 30, 2018
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So many strange premises: God can create lives but cannot destroy them? So he's constantly churning out lives like a factory, knowing that most will end up in hell. (Didn't Jesus say that few find the narrow road, but many find destruction? That's minority vs. majority.) Stranger yet: if we live for 100 years and then go to heaven or hell, then an infinitely larger part of our existence is determined by an infinitely smaller part. In a trillion years or a trillion times that, will people sit in hell because they sinned for 50 years? If you go with old-fashioned hellfire, that means "aaaaaahhhhh!! I'm on fire!" and then 500 billion years later, "aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!! I'm stiil on fire!" Apparently people caught on to how sick that was and so it was toned down to mean separation from God. But it's still the same thing. If they're suffering then it's torture for infinity because you sinned temporarily. If they're not suffering then it's not punishment. It makes no sense, and that one concept alone steers many to atheism. I don't think that's an accident. I think its very purpose is to convince people that God is cruel. Hitler was evil, but he never tortured anyone for more than a few years. And yet the Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death." "for he who has died is acquitted of (or released from) sin." Death is the price of sin, and one who dies has payed it. It's so simple, and no one gets tortured forever.OldAndrew
October 30, 2018
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jdk
Why? We are responsible for our actions here, now, because this is where and when we are in fact acting. Why would ceasing to exist as an individual after we die change the responsibilities we had when we were alive?
Personal responsibility means that we have "personal ownership" for our actions. There is an objective moral order - thus a lawgiver. The universe is contingent and requires governance (maintenence of existence and order). God, who created the laws, also governs activities with perfect fairness and justice. By the NML, good should be awarded, evil punished. We are either punished for our sins in this like (by repenting, making amends, correcting ourselves) or in the next. A principle of the NML is that we should do good and shun evil. If all human souls were merged together, then good would be joined with evil - and that is a violation of the NML. Instead, at the end - good is separated from evil. Those who were committed to good, receive blessing. Those who were committed to evil end in hell. A merger into an impersonal collective would eliminate final vindication. The act of vindication against evil (punishment of persecutors of the good) is a good thing in itself.Silver Asiatic
October 30, 2018
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JDK You don’t believe in Capital T Truth. If your belief is true your belief is false because the Capital T truth would be that the Truth is there is no Truth which itself is a Truth. If your belief is false your belief is false as well. I just don’t understand how very smart and educated a person as yourself cling to beliefs that are incoherent. Perhaps to much reading of Watts and Buddhist philosophy with the one hand clapping nonsense. BTW I think Allan Watts was required reading for all the hippies at least it was for me???? Vividvividbleau
October 30, 2018
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No problem. I get confused sometimes, although I have a macro to insert blockquote and /blockquote (with the appropriate less than and greater than signs) so that I find it easier to keep them paired correctly.jdk
October 30, 2018
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For some reason, either through some technical glitch or because of my own posting errors, I cannot consistently separate my comments from the person I am responding to. So rather than complain about the missing editing option, I am going to stop using the blockquote option and separate comments some other way.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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JDKI have no problem with believing that when I die, that’s it for me, and if there is some immaterial part of me, that it will return to the universal pool. Identity is a phenomena associated with a living physical being, and I have no attachment for nor belief in a differentiated “me” that can or will exist when my physical body is dead. This doesn’t bother me. I can feel now that I will miss being alive, but I also know that when I’m dead it is those still living who will miss me. There will be no “me” to miss me, from my point of view, at that time. If Christianity is true, which is much more likely, then the issue is not about merger into being but rather about heaven and hell. I don’t accept that world view because I prefer it to the others. I accept it because reason and the facts in evidence support it.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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JDK
It is very interesting to have all this spelled out so clearly (even though the discussion with Siver Asiatic shows there can be disagreements between people who share some fundamental beliefs).>/blockquote> Among the very few disagreements between SA and myself on the application (not meaning) of the Natural Moral Law, virtually all of them have been resolved by a mutual effort to review our definitions of words and the methodologies being employed (Is this a one step or two step process etc.) This is the beauty of objective truth. The more deeply you probe into it, the more obvious is the distinction between an apparent disagreement and a real disagreement. By contrast, the promotion of subjectivism produces nothing but confusion. At some level, my truth will always conflict with your truth and THE truth will never get a chance to arbitrate between the two.
StephenB
October 30, 2018
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JDK JDK
It is very interesting to have all this spelled out so clearly (even though the discussion with Siver Asiatic shows there can be disagreements between people who share some fundamental beliefs). Among the very few disagreements between SA and myself on the application (not meaning) of the Natural Moral Law, virtually all of them have been resolved by a mutual effort to review our definitions of words and the methodologies being employed (Is this a one step or two step process etc.) This is the beauty of objective truth. The more deeply you probe into it, the more obvious is the distinction between an apparent disagreement and a real disagreement. By contrast, the promotion of subjectivism produces nothing but confusion. At some level, my truth will always conflict with your truth and THE truth will never get a chance to arbitrate between the two.
StephenB
October 30, 2018
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JDK:
I never “abandoned” it because because I never adopted it. I remember going to Sunday School before I was ten and thinking “these stories can’t be true.” Church seemed empty and unconvincing about bigger issues. I read a lot of mythology as a child: I thought it was neat but it also seemed to me that the Christian stories, including that of Jesus, were just the currently accepted myths.
Thanks for telling your story. I appreciate the perspective you present. (Yes, I also read the succeeding paragraphs.) SB: I provided three good reasons why Christianity surpasses all other world religions. What did you find unpersuasive about them?
I explained in 245 why I don’t think we could have a productive conversation about this.
In effect, you said that I don’t deserve an answer to a substantive question because I had earlier asked a few “loaded” questions. However, I interpreted your language and your structure at that time to mean that I could respond not only to you personally but also to other members of your atheistic group to whom the loaded questions might have applied. All you needed to say was that those alternatives, which were designed as thought stimulators (not accusations), did not apply to you personally. SB: Yes, the idea is that you eventually experience a non-personal “merger into being” and lose your identity. Does that appeal to you – losing your identity?
First, surely you know that what “appeals to us” is not a criteria for truth, at least certainly not the kind of Truth that you believe in.
I agree. Nevertheless, that world view appeals to you even though there is no good reason to believe it. At the same time, I provided evidence (summarized to save time and be easily digested) that there is a world view that is much more likely to be true, and you chose not to respond on the grounds that interacting with me would not be productive.
I have no problem with believing that when I die, that’s it for me, and if there is some immaterial part of me, that it will return to the universal pool. Identity is a phenomena associated with a living physical being, and I have no attachment for nor belief in a differentiated “me” that can or will exist when my physical body is dead. This doesn’t bother me. I can feel now that I will miss being alive, but I also know that when I’m dead it is those still living who will miss me. There will be no “me” to miss me, from my point of view, at that time./blockquote> If Christianity is true, which is much more likely, then the issue is not about merger into being but rather about heaven and hell. I don't embrace that world view because I prefer it. I embrace it because reason and the facts in evidence support it.
I have no interest in what I consider a made-up story that exists to make people feel good.
Yet when confronted with evidence that it was not made up, and the prospect that there might be still more evidence not yet mentioned, you appear to close your mind.
I have read lots of interesting commentary about how the afterlife part of Christian thought gains its strength from the solace it provides to people who are struggling with the sorrow, pain, and difficulty of this life. One powerful example is the sermon given by Dinah Morris, a character in George Elliott’s novel “Adam Bede”. Other examples can be found in lots of gospel music: I’m a particular fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Interesting commentary is not the same as sound commentary. Noticeably absent from your analysis is the preponderance of evidence for the opposite point of view, including the fact that the apostles didn’t make up the idea, said that they didn’t make it up, and even suffered martyrdom for making it public. Do people die for ideas that they know are not true? Again, you appear open to only one side of the story, and a side that is based on preferences, not facts. That is why it is so odd that you say that preferences should not define the issue.
I don’t find [Christianity] appealing or the reasons for adopting it convincing.
Perhaps you don’t find those reasons convincing because you really don’t know what they are in spite of your claims to have investigated the matter thoroughly. Indeed, when I presented just a small portion of that evidence (albeit an important portion) you decided that you are not interested because I somehow “denigrated you.”
StephenB
October 30, 2018
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JDK:
I never “abandoned” it because because I never adopted it. I remember going to Sunday School before I was ten and thinking “these stories can’t be true.” Church seemed empty and unconvincing about bigger issues. I read a lot of mythology as a child: I thought it was neat but it also seemed to me that the Christian stories, including that of Jesus, were just the currently accepted myths.
Thanks for telling your story. I appreciate the perspective you present. (Yes, I also read the succeeding paragraphs.) SB: I provided three good reasons why Christianity surpasses all other world religions. What did you find unpersuasive about them?
I explained in 245 why I don’t think we could have a productive conversation about this.
In effect, you said that I don’t deserve an answer to a substantive question because I had earlier asked a few “loaded” questions. However, I interpreted your language and your structure at that time to mean that I could respond not only to you personally but also to other members of your atheistic group to whom the loaded questions might have applied. All you needed to say was that those alternatives, which were intended as thought stimulators (not accusations), did not apply to you personally. SB: Yes, the idea (Alan Watts, Buddhism) is that you eventually experience a non-personal “merger into being” and lose your identity. Does that appeal to you – losing your identity?
First, surely you know that what “appeals to us” is not a criteria for truth, at least certainly not the kind of Truth that you believe in.
I agree. Nevertheless, that world view appeals to you even though there is no good reason to believe it. At the same time, I provided evidence (summarized to save time and be easily digested) that there is a world view that is much more likely to be true, and you chose not to respond on the grounds that interacting with me would "not be productive."
I have no problem with believing that when I die, that’s it for me, and if there is some immaterial part of me, that it will return to the universal pool. Identity is a phenomena associated with a living physical being, and I have no attachment for nor belief in a differentiated “me” that can or will exist when my physical body is dead. This doesn’t bother me. I can feel now that I will miss being alive, but I also know that when I’m dead it is those still living who will miss me. There will be no “me” to miss me, from my point of view, at that time. If Christianity is true, which is much more likely, then the issue is not about merger into being but rather about heaven and hell. I don't accept that world view because I prefer it to the others. I accept it because reason and the facts in evidence support it.
I have no interest in what I consider a made-up story that exists to make people feel good.
Yet when confronted with evidence that it was not made up, and the prospect that there might be still more evidence not yet mentioned, you appear to close your mind.
I have read lots of interesting commentary about how the afterlife part of Christian thought gains its strength from the solace it provides to people who are struggling with the sorrow, pain, and difficulty of this life. One powerful example is the sermon given by Dinah Morris, a character in George Elliott’s novel “Adam Bede”. Other examples can be found in lots of gospel music: I’m a particular fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Interesting commentary is not the same as sound commentary. Noticeably absent from your analysis is the preponderance of evidence for the opposite point of view, including the fact that the apostles didn’t make up the idea, said that they didn’t make it up, and even suffered martyrdom for making it public. Do people die for ideas that they know are not true? Again, you appear open to only one side of the story, and a side that is based on preferences, not facts. That is why it is so odd that you say that preferences should not define the issue.
I don’t find [Christianity] appealing or the reasons for adopting it convincing.
Perhaps you don’t find those reasons convincing because you really don’t know what they are in spite of your claims to have investigated the matter thoroughly. Indeed, when I presented just a small portion of that evidence (albeit an important portion) you said that you were not interested because I somehow “denigrated you.”
StephenB
October 30, 2018
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sa writes at 240,
So, the idea that, at the end of life, we are merged into a collective would go against this notion of personal responsibility.
Why? We are responsible for our actions here, now, because this is where and when we are in fact acting. Why would ceasing to exist as an individual after we die change the responsibilities we had when we were alive?jdk
October 30, 2018
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@jdk, what ideology has a better track record on human rights and promoting human development than Christianity? Certainly not atheism, secularism, nor any of the other major religions. Of all the major players, Christianity seems to be it.EricMH
October 30, 2018
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re 247: Stephen asks,
What caused you to abandon the Christian religion?
I never "abandoned" it because because I never adopted it. I remember going to Sunday School before I was ten and thinking "these stories can't be true." Church seemed empty and unconvincing about bigger issues. I read a lot of mythology as a child: I thought it was neat but it also seemed to me that the Christian stories, including that of Jesus, were just the currently accepted myths. As I got older and considered the bigger picture of original sin, the role of Jesus, the existence of heaven and hell, etc. the whole thing continued to seem made up, not reasonable, and in fact not worthy of respect. In high school I started reading some philosophical novels, and in college I studied religion from an anthropological and psychological point of view. I read William James "The Varieties of Religious Experience" and Huston Smith's "The World's Great Religion". These and many other books and experiences convinced me that all religion was a cultural invention that existed for important psychological and sociological reasons, but was not true in any ontological sense. At the same time, however, I came to the conclusion that I liked the philosophical slant of the Eastern religions more than that of Christianity. The idea of preferring some religious ideas over others without believing in the Truth of any of them was consistent with my general thoughts about the nature of religion. That's a short summary of how I came to never consider Christianity as either True or personally appealing. Stephen asks,
I provided three good reasons why Christianity surpasses all other world religions. What did you find unpersuasive about them?
I explained in 245 why I don't think we could have a productive conversation about this. You write,
You have stated that you don’t even believe in truth (Cap T) and yet you also say that you are searching for truth. Do you not understand why that is one of those ideas that doesn’t work?
No I don't. Lots of truth is accessible about both the external material world and the nature of human beings – both our external behavior and our internal life. Such truth is never certain, and capable of being refined, but it is the truth that we can know. That is what I am interested in, and have been investigating all my life. Stephen writes,
Yes, the idea is that you eventually experience a non-personal “merger into being” and lose your identity. Does that appeal to you – losing your identity?
First, surely you know that what "appeals to us" is not a criteria for truth, at least certainly not the kind of Truth that you believe in. I have no problem with believing that when I die, that's it for me, and if there is some immaterial part of me, that it will return to the universal pool. Identity is a phenomena associated with a living physical being, and I have no attachment for nor belief in a differentiated "me" that can or will exist when my physical body is dead. This doesn't bother me. I can feel now that I will miss being alive, but I also know that when I'm dead it is those still living who will miss me. There will be no "me" to miss me, from my point of view, at that time. You write,
Do you find that idea more attractive than remaining who you are and living in a heavenly paradise with loving people who remain who they are and a living God who loves you for who you are?
I have no interest in what I consider a made-up story that exists to make people feel good. I have read lots of interesting commentary about how the afterlife part of Christian thought gains its strength from the solace it provides to people who are struggling with the sorrow, pain, and difficulty of this life. One powerful example is the sermon given by Dinah Morris, a character in George Elliott's novel "Adam Bede". Other examples can be found in lots of gospel music: I'm a particular fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. You conclude,
In any case, I would rather exist personally with the Christian God than be a an impersonal part of Buddhism’s blob god.
Yes, I understand that Christianity is your preferred religion, and that you have a strong and well-developed belief system to support that. But it is a preference, which has been one of the themes of this thread. We all make subjective choices based on the sum total of what we know and who we are that we can bring on the subject. You prefer Christianity. I don't find it appealing or the reasons for adopting it convincing.jdk
October 30, 2018
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jdk
For instance, the Buddhist Alan Watts (formerly an Epispcopal priest) explained that the Buddhist view is that when we die, our soul is like a drop of water being thrown back in the ocean, losing its individuality and becoming once again a part on the universal soul. It seems that this view fits just as well with the existence of the NML and the logically necessary attributes you mentioned earlier as the Christian view that the soul retains its individuality. From such a view, considerations of an afterlife, and the possibility of heaven or hell, are meaningless.
I don't think that view fits with the natural moral law. For the NML, we must do good and avoid evil. It is morally good to correct an evil action - that is an act of justice. If a sin is committed (theft of someone's property), to correct the sin we made amends (restore the property with interest). However, we are not directly responsible for the sinful acts of other people. We can help, by assisting, and we can incur some guilt for other's crimes if we encouraged or taught wrongly - but the sins of other people belong directly to them. Their good actions also are credited to them. So, the idea that, at the end of life, we are merged into a collective would go against this notion of personal responsibility.Silver Asiatic
October 30, 2018
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It is very interesting to have all this spelled out so clearly (even though the discussion with Siver Asiatic shows there can be disagreements between people who share some fundamental beliefs).
Disagreements on the application of the principles does not mean that the universal principles do not exist. Rational and logical arguments that follow from the principles, when applied to real-life situations (is the use of nuclear weapons immoral?) are not self-evident and can be debated. The existence of the natural moral law is proof of the existence of a lawmaker - this is the Creator-being we refer to as God. From philosophy, we arrive at additional knowledge about the nature and attributes of God. At this point, a certain conclusion is that atheism is false. That's obvious. But, the question is: Can you proceed further to gain knowledge about God using a reasoning process? Here's where you can weigh various ideas and determine what is most logical and most reasonable. This will not result in absolute certainty, but rather a reliable, logically-consistent understanding. Making a commitment to a religious system will require more or less faith. But a logical process can be used to determine that which is most reasonable and most likely true among all options.Silver Asiatic
October 30, 2018
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I grew up in a Christian environment, have studied the arguments for Christianity and compared it to other religions and philosophical positions, and found Christianity unpersuasive.
What caused you to abandon the Christian religion? I provided three good reasons why Christianity surpasses all other world religions. What did you find unpersuasive about them?
For you to offer the alternative to this as merely “refus[ing] to open your mind because you chose to be a law unto yourself” is not only another false and inaccurate dichotomy of possibilities, it denigrates me, and anyone who has been on a similar path as mine.
I was simply asking qualifying questions. You did ask me, in effect, if I thought you were on the way to hell. You seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, so I thought that gave me a license to push the envelope a bit and ask some hard questions about how open your mind really is.
It seems to me that you don’t, and maybe can’t, even entertain the possibility that people who are equally as concerned, serious, intelligent, well-educated, etc. as you might reach different conclusions about these matters. To you, it seems, anyone who doesn’t see things as you do “scoffs at truth”, has “decided in advance” they have no interest in entertaining faith, “refuse to open their mind”, etc. Obviously, you have very clear and articulate ideas about your beliefs, but I would think a more generous attitude towards the wide diversity of human beliefs, some of which are quite different then yours, wouldn’t hurt you, and might do you some good.
I am open to any idea that someone might want to express. However, some ideas are better than others. Once I find out that something doesn’t work, I try to remember the reason it doesn’t work and explain why to others. As Chesterton said, “The purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid – truth.” You have stated that you don’t even believe in truth (Cap T) and yet you also say that you are searching for truth. Do you not understand why that is one of those ideas that doesn’t work?
And is this belief in an immortal soul a necessary logical consequence of the NML, or is an addition belief that comes from either further reason or religious faith and revelation?
That idea comes from Theology, philosophy, logic, and the Natural Moral law. Thoughts are obviously immaterial, which means that the soul that produces them is also immaterial. You can’t get non-matter from matter. If the human soul is immaterial, then it has no parts that can decay or be destroyed. Thus, it will live forever in some state, condition, or place. This is high stakes drama.
For instance, the Buddhist Alan Watts (formerly an Epispcopal priest) explained that the Buddhist view is that when we die, our soul is like a drop of water being thrown back in the ocean, losing its individuality and becoming once again a part on the universal soul.
Yes, the idea is that you eventually experience a non-personal “merger into being” and lose your identity. Does that appeal to you – losing your identity? Do you find that idea more attractive than remaining who you are and living in a heavenly paradise with loving people who remain who they are and a living God who loves you for who you are?
It seems that this view fits just as well with the existence of the NML and the logically necessary attributes you mentioned earlier as the Christian view that the soul retains its individuality. From such a view, considerations of an afterlife, and the possibility of heaven or hell, are meaningless.
The Christian God is transcendent to his creation. He is responsible for creating human nature so he would be more qualified than Buddha to establish a moral law that is consistent with the purpose for which humans were made – heaven. The NML exists for that purpose, as an aid to that journey. As you know, Buddhism does not recognize a transcendent creator and its version of natural law does not recognize a God with even one of the Divine attributes that I listed. In any case, I would rather exist personally with the Christian God than be a an impersonal part of Buddhism’s blob god.StephenB
October 30, 2018
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I grew up in a Christian environment, have studied the arguments for Christianity and compared it to other religions and philosophical positions, and found Christianity unpersuasive./blockquote> What caused you to abandon the Christian religion? I provided three good reasons why Christianity surpasses all other world religions. What did you find unpersuasive about them?
For you to offer the alternative to this as merely “refus[ing] to open your mind because you chose to be a law unto yourself” is not only another false and inaccurate dichotomy of possibilities, it denigrates me, and anyone who has been on a similar path as mine.
I was simply asking qualifying questions. You did ask me, in effect, if I thought you were on the way to hell. You seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, so I thought that gave me a license to push the envelope a bit and ask some hard questions about how open your mind really is.
It seems to me that you don’t, and maybe can’t, even entertain the possibility that people who are equally as concerned, serious, intelligent, well-educated, etc. as you might reach different conclusions about these matters. To you, it seems, anyone who doesn’t see things as you do “scoffs at truth”, has “decided in advance” they have no interest in entertaining faith, “refuse to open their mind”, etc. Obviously, you have very clear and articulate ideas about your beliefs, but I would think a more generous attitude towards the wide diversity of human beliefs, some of which are quite different then yours, wouldn’t hurt you, and might do you some good.
I am open to any idea that someone might want to express. However, some ideas are better than others. Once I find out that something doesn't work, I try to remember the reason it doesn't work and explain why to others. As Chesterton said, "The purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid - truth." You have stated that you don't even believe in truth (Cap T) and yet you also say that you are searching for truth. Do you not understand why that is one of those ideas that doesn't work?
And is this belief in an immortal soul a necessary logical consequence of the NML, or is an addition belief that comes from either further reason or religious faith and revelation?
That idea comes from Theology, philosophy, logic, and the Natural Moral law. Thoughts are obviously immaterial, which means that the soul that produces them is also immaterial. You can't get non-matter from matter. If the human soul is immaterial, then it has no parts that can neither decay or be destroyed. Thus, it will live forever in some state, condition, or place. This is high stakes drama.
For instance, the Buddhist Alan Watts (formerly an Epispcopal priest) explained that the Buddhist view is that when we die, our soul is like a drop of water being thrown back in the ocean, losing its individuality and becoming once again a part on the universal soul.
Yes, the idea is that you experience a non-personal "merger into being" and lose your identity. Does that appeal to you - losing your identity? Do you find that idea more attractive than remaining who you are and living in a heavenly paradise with loving people who remain who they are and a living God who loves you for who you are?
It seems that this view fits just as well with the existence of the NML and the logically necessary attributes you mentioned earlier as the Christian view that the soul retains its individuality. From such a view, considerations of an afterlife, and the possibility of heaven or hell, are meaningless.
The Christian God is transcendent to his creation. He is responsible for creating human nature so he would be more qualified than Buddha to establish a moral law that is consistent with the purpose for which humans were made - heaven. The nml exists for that purpose, as an aid to that journey. As you know, Buddhism does not recognize a transcendent creator and its version of natural law does not recognize a God with even one of the Divine attributes that I listed. In any case, I would rather exist personally with the Christian God than be a an impersonal part of Buddhism's blob god.
StephenB
October 29, 2018
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re 244: again, thanks. It is very interesting to have all this spelled out so clearly (even though the discussion with Siver Asiatic shows there can be disagreements between people who share some fundamental beliefs) In answer to my question about logically necessary attributes of God, given the NML, Stephen answers:
God must be First Cause (causeless cause), eternal, personal, one (not many), self-existent, and necessary (not contingent).
This is a reasonable list. When I asked if I will go to hell if I don't believe in the Christian God, Stephen explained,
Are you searching for the truth, or do you scoff at the very idea?
That's sort of a mixed and loaded answer, I think. I am searching for truth, although not the Truth, because I don't believe capital T Truth, if it exists, can be found by human beings, given what I see as our human limitations. Even if you consider my position as really not "searching for the truth", characterizing the alternative to it as "scoffing at the very idea" is a false and inaccurate dichotomy of possibilities. Similarly, Stephen writes,
Are you favorably disposed to the gift of faith and just haven’t received it, or did you decide in advance that you wanted no part of it.
And again, a false dichotomy. I have been studying religion and philosophy for over 50 years, both academically and personally. I certainly didn't "decide in advance" that I wanted no part of faith, either in respect to Christianity or other positions that also requite faith. I have reached my conclusions about these things after long and reasonably careful study and thought. And again,
It would be one thing if you investigated the matter thoroughly by analyzing the arguments for God, in general and Christianity, in particular, and found them to be unpersuasive, it would be something else if you refused to open your mind because you chose to be a law unto yourself.
And again a false dichotomy. I grew up in a Christian environment, have studied the arguments for Christianity and compared it to other religions and philosophical positions, and found Christianity unpersuasive. For you to offer the alternative to this as merely "refus[ing] to open your mind because you chose to be a law unto yourself" is not only another false and inaccurate dichotomy of possibilities, it denigrates me, and anyone who has been on a similar path as mine. It seems to me that you don't, and maybe can't, even entertain the possibility that people who are equally as concerned, serious, intelligent, well-educated, etc. as you might reach different conclusions about these matters. To you, it seems, anyone who doesn't see things as you do "scoffs at truth", has "decided in advance" they have no interest in entertaining faith, "refuse to open their mind", etc. Obviously, you have very clear and articulate ideas about your beliefs, but I would think a more generous attitude towards the wide diversity of human beliefs, some of which are quite different then yours, wouldn't hurt you, and might do you some good. You write,
I have never met an atheist who can explain the case for Christianity and argue against it, which is the same thing as being willfully ignorant. If that is the case, then I think that the soul on that track is on the way to being lost. No one wakes up one morning in hell and asks, “How did that happen?”
I have considered the case against Christianity, and rejected it for what I consider sound philosophical and empirical reasons. I am fairly sure that discussing that with you would not be profitable for the very reasons listed in my last paragraph. You write,
However, I came to realize that the spiritual soul is not subject to physical death and must, therefore, reside somewhere forever.
And is this belief in an immortal soul a necessary logical consequence of the NML, or is an addition belief that comes from either further reason or religious faith and revelation? It seems to me that if you accept the God you described in the beginning, and yet leave the Christianity out of it, that we could be such that we can apprehend the NML and reason about it, but that part of us which is capable of this only exists in a personified form in a living body. For instance, the Buddhist Alan Watts (formerly an Epispcopal priest) explained that the Buddhist view is that when we die, our soul is like a drop of water being thrown back in the ocean, losing its individuality and becoming once again a part on the universal soul. It seems that this view fits just as well with the existence of the NML and the logically necessary attributes you mentioned earlier as the Christian view that the soul retains its individuality. From such a view, considerations of an afterlife, and the possibility of heaven or hell, are meaningless.jdk
October 29, 2018
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JDK:
So my question is given the natural moral law NML, what is the extent of the logical conclusions one can draw, beyond the conclusion that there must be a lawgiver, God? What attributes of this God (who is not logically necessarily the Christian God) can be considered logically necessary attributes?
God must be First Cause (causeless cause), eternal, personal, one (not many), self-existent, and necessary (not contingent).
So if I love my neighbor (but don’t believe in the Christian God), and live a life that all would agree is in accordance with the natural moral law, I will still go to hell: that I gather is the correct conclusion.
Several factors come into play: Are you searching for the truth, or do you scoff at the very idea? Are you favorably disposed to the gift of faith and just haven’t received it, or did you decide in advance that you wanted no part of it. It would be one thing if you investigated the matter thoroughly by analyzing the arguments for God, in general and Christianity, in particular, and found them to be unpersuasive, it would be something else if you refused to open your mind because you chose to be a law unto yourself. Normally, it is the latter situation. I have never met an atheist who can explain the case for Christianity and argue against it, which is the same thing as being willfully ignorant. If that is the case, then I think that the soul on that track is on the way to being lost. No one wakes up one morning in hell and asks, “How did that happen?”
This seems to me to be an unreasonable and unlikely characteristic of a divine entity who has created this whole universe, and one that I would not be willing to accept.
I can understand why the doctrine of Hell would be a stumbling block. It was for me as well. However, I came to realize that the spiritual soul is not subject to physical death and must, therefore, reside somewhere forever. The decision about where that will be is made by the soul, not the divine entity who created it. We do not live in a morally deterministic universe. People go to hell only through voluntary fault.
Suppose I do believe in the Christian God, and do in general believe in and try to live in accordance with the natural moral law, but disagree about some specific common conclusion: for instance, I support same - sex marriage. Will I still go to hell? Or is belief in Jesus etc. the deciding fator in whether I do or don’t go to hell? Or do my actions matter, and to what extent?
Faith without actions cannot save and actions without faith cannot save. However, people sin and make mistakes, so they can be saved by confessing their wrong doing and starting over again – as often as it takes. Since gay sex (and obviously same-sex marriage) violates both Christian doctrine and the natural moral law, I think anyone who supports it publicly (or enters into it in practice) would be guilty of serious sin. There is no theological or philosophical justification for taking a pro-gay position. Would this single issue affect one’s salvation? Once again, the question of willful ignorance vs excusable ignorance becomes a factor. Does the person who supports same-sex marriage believe, mistakenly, that some people are born gay, even though there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. Such an error would lessen the culpability of the sinner if there was no way to know better. On the other hand, this same person has a moral obligation to rise above ignorance and learn the truth (homosexuality is a product of environment, not biology) and act on it. Will the sodomites themselves lose their souls? If they don’t repent and change their behavior before they die, then the answer is yes.StephenB
October 29, 2018
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God is saying that He punishes idolators and will continue to punish them if they continue to worship false Gods.
No, he said that be would punish them if they served an image or even bowed down before one. If he meant worship he could have said that. He said serve or bow. This is why Jews did not make statues or idols. For a human created in the image of God to bend before a man-made image was an obscenity. It was the practice of Baal-worshipping pagans. They walked by faith, not sight, and did not need dead images to worship a living God. That is also why Christians of the first century did not use images. It wss after the death of the apostles that such pagan practices crept into the congregations.OldAndrew
October 29, 2018
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