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Granville Sewell on death and judgment

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Granville Sewell in Christianity for Doubters:

The odea of a judgment after death is terribly difficult for our modern minds to take seriously. But, for me, the idea that there will be no final justice – no reward for generosity, kindness, mercy, and courage, and no punishment for selfishness, betrayal, arrogance, and cruelty—is even harder to accept. That would mean that those who are confident that they will never be punished for their corruption and cruelty will be proved right, while those who believe their unselfishness and sacrifices will someday be recognized are deluding themselves.Christianity for Doubters:, p. 50

Maybe the mathematician in him sees unjust judgement as somehow wrong?

See also: Granville Sewell on resurrection as metamorphosis

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30 Replies to “Granville Sewell on death and judgment

  1. 1
    harry says:

    Saint Justin, second century philosopher and convert to Christianity, martyred ca. 165, in his First Apology “To the Emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Cæsar,” which was an “address and petition in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them” — namely, in behalf of the Christians — pointed out the following, of which I was reminded by Granville’s remark:

    … For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics: and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers; …

    Granville’s thoughts on judgment are classical.

  2. 2
    jdk says:

    while those who believe their unselfishness and sacrifices will someday be recognized are deluding themselves.

    As someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, I’ll say that one should do good for its own sake, and for the benefits it brings to the world and people around us that we care for, not because we are going to be granted some heavenly recognition.

    From Dylan’s “Black Cross”:

    He says, “Hezekiah, you believe that if a man is good Heaven is his last reward?”
    Hezekiah says, “I’m good… good as my neighbor.”

    “You don’t believe in nothin’,” said the white man’s preacher,
    You don’t believe in nothin’!”
    “Oh yes, I do,” says Hezekiah,
    “I believe that a man should be indebted to his neighbors
    Not for the reward of a Heaven or fear of hellfire.”

    “But you don’t understand,” said the white man’s preacher,
    “There’s a lot of good ways for a man to be wicked…”

    Then they hung Hezekiah, high as a pigeon.
    White folks around there said, “Well… he had it comin’
    ‘Cause the son-of-a-bitch never had no religion!”

    And Phil Och’s “When I’m Gone”:

    There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone
    And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone
    And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone
    All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone
    My pen won’t pour a lyric line when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone
    And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone
    Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t be running from the rain when I’m gone
    And I can’t even suffer from the pain when I’m gone
    Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone
    And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone
    Can’t be singing louder than the guns when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone
    And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone
    Can’t add my name into the fight when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

    And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
    And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
    Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
    So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    jdk,

    Good points.

    I would go so far as to say that our unselfishness and sacrifices are their own rewards, in a very real sense. That’s just how most of us prefer to behave [ideally; certainly we don’t always live up to that standard].

    If Granville Sewell one day decided he didn’t believe that we are judged after our deaths, would that change the way he treated others? Untestable, I suppose, but I really doubt it.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    The problem with Sewell’s position is that implies people only do good out of fear of the consequences or to curry favor with a being who might be persuaded to reward them. In other words, they are not doing good because they have decided it is the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences, which would be the more honorable position.

  5. 5
    EDTA says:

    Seversky @ 4,

    I’m curious about several things you have said.

    The problem with Sewell’s position is that implies people only do good out of fear of the consequences or to curry favor with a being who might be persuaded to reward them.

    I know quite a few Christians, and I have yet to hear one of them reveal (even in their most honest moments) that they only do good out of fear or because they think someone is keeping a tally. (I am told that Muslims think that way, but I don’t happen to be close to any Muslims.) Do you know people like that? I think there are other reasons why people do good things, including that it makes them feel good, out of gratitude, or from a sense of duty or responsibility.

    In other words, they are not doing good because they have decided it is the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences, which would be the more honorable position.

    How is it more honorable to do good in the absence of any external motivation? I.e., what standard are you using to decide what is more honorable?

    Also, how do you determine whether or not a motivation (perhaps subconsciously) underlies your doing good? Are you 100% sure you aren’t doing it because it makes you feel better, e.g.?

    jdk @ 2,

    Dang those are depressing songs! This might make you smile: link

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    …and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers…

    So Christianity is in agreement with the Pagans?

  7. 7
  8. 8
    jdk says:

    to EDTA:

    Hmmm. I’m not much of a fan of Steve Martin, but I do give him props for rhyming risen with existentialism.

    I know this probably isn’t very appealing to most here, but the Dylan song is a quite powerful, succinct statement about both religion and racism. I don’t find it depressing, but I do find it a difficult look at some tough issues. See here to listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AicfqEyOHvc

    However I find the Phil Ochs song uplifting, not depressing. This is our one wonderful opportunity to be alive as a human being, and we ought to take advantage of it in all the myriad of ways that are satisfying to our human nature. Here’s a link to an Ani Difranco version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXlW2-8efYY

  9. 9
    jdk says:

    to Mung, et al: Here’s Dembski’s latest article about hell

    http://www.thebestschools.org/.....s-of-hell/

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    to Mung, et al: Here’s Dembski’s latest article about hell

    What are the paradoxes of a hell that is not a literal lake of fire into which unbelievers are cast to suffer eternal conscious torment?

  11. 11
    harry says:

    Mung @ 6

    … For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics: and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers; …
    — Justin, First Apology

    So Christianity is in agreement with the Pagans?
    — Mung

    Not in all things, of course. But Western thought was in some ways already prepared to receive Christian truth before the coming of Christ. Justin, being a philosopher before he converted to Christianity, points out to the Emperor where Christian ideas were not at all foreign to the classical thinking he was already familiar with.

  12. 12
    Jorge says:

    If (IF!) there is no afterlife – if this is ‘it’ and there’s nothing more – then why bother to do good at all, be it “for its own sake” or for whatever other reason one may fathom? For others? For the future? For posterity? We must consider that without the existence of an eternal state then everything will turn to dust in due time and so nothing really matters. Not absolute good, absolute bad or anything in-between matters – only the “immediate” matters. Without eternity then all is temporary, transitional and forgotten. This means that in the long run all is without significance. That is a sad and shallow position. Only eternity gives true logical meaning to good (or evil).

  13. 13
    jdk says:

    Nope. Life is significant while it’s here. Human nature desires to do good in ways in respect to those around us (although this desire is imperfect and countered at times by other times.) One of the great truths of the Eastern religions is that all is transitory, and that exhibiting one’s nature as best one can in each and every moment is our spiritual task. Things matter not because they are connected to some eternal condition or reward, but because they matter now, and now is all we will ever have.

    And yes, we do do things for others, and in some cases for the future, because our acts support and help perpetuate a world that we want others to have when their opportunity to be alive comes around.

    Those are some of my beliefs. Nothing sad or shallow about it.

  14. 14
    daveS says:

    Jorge,

    If (IF!) there is no afterlife – if this is ‘it’ and there’s nothing more – then why bother to do good at all, be it “for its own sake” or for whatever other reason one may fathom? For others? For the future? For posterity?

    I think most of us realize at a fairly young age that not “doing good” in some fashion leads to an unhappy life. There’s a reason for doing good, based solely on self-interest.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    That there is an actual afterlife after this temporal life is supported by far more empirical evidence than Darwinian evolution is supported by.

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    etc.. etc..

    Moreover, there is far more evidence for a ‘eternal’ heavenly dimension and a ‘eternal’ hellish dimension than there is evidence for the ‘random’ multiverse (which was made up by atheists to ‘explain away’ the fine-tuning of the universe). Namely, two of our most well supported theories in science, special and general relativity respecively, give us compelling evidence for two very different ‘timeless eternities’ above this temporal reality.

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video (reworked May 2016 – following two videos referenced in it)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1193118270701104/

    Besides the stark contrast between ‘up and down’ witnessed between special and general relativity, entropy, which is the primary reason why our material bodies grow old and die, is found to be tightly associated with gravity, and entropy is also found to be greatest at blackholes

    Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both – 2007
    Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,,
    http://www.plosgenetics.org/ar.....en.0030220

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! – January 2010
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

    (Entropic Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead is the correct solution for the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1121720701174195/?pnref=story

    since jdk said that “now is all we will ever have”, he may be interested in learning about “The Now” of philosophers, which Einstein himself had a run in with. “The Now” which has now been confirmed by advances in quantum mechanics.

    Albert Einstein vs. “The Now” of Philosophers and of Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1129789497033982/?type=2&theater

    Einstein: An Exchange – 2007
    Excerpt: In fact, a quantum mechanician like Bohr would say that, in the absence of an experiment to determine them, these quantities have no existence at all. This is what Einstein objected to. He once walked back from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton with the late Abraham Pais. The moon was out and Einstein asked Pais, “Do you really believe the moon is not there when you are not looking at it?”
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....-exchange/

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation – Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables

    As well, besides quantum mechanics giving primary consideration to the conscious observer, in general and special relativity, each observer is also given a privileged frame of reference in which to make measurements.

    Introduction to special relativity
    Excerpt: Einstein’s approach was based on thought experiments, calculations, and the principle of relativity, which is the notion that all physical laws should appear the same (that is, take the same basic form) to all inertial observers.,,,
    Each observer has a distinct “frame of reference” in which velocities are measured,,,,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....relativity

    And these ‘centrality concerns’, from both quantum mechanics and relativity respectively, give the resurrection of Christ more impetus for telling us exactly why the universe exists in the exact form that it exist in:

    (Centrality Concerns) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1143437869002478/?type=2&theater

    Moreover, contrary to jdk’s waxing poetic about Eastern religions, the fact of the matter is that Eastern religions have an overwhelming preponderance of negative, even hellish, Near Death Experiences when compared to Judeo-Christian cultures.

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near-Death Experiences of Hindus Pasricha and Stevenson’s research
    Except: “Two persons caught me and took me with them. I felt tired after walking some distance; they started to drag me. My feet became useless. There was a man sitting up. He looked dreadful and was all black. He was not wearing any clothes. He said in a rage [to the attendants who had brought Vasudev] “I had asked you to bring Vasudev the gardener.,,, In reply to questions about details, Vasudev said that the “black man” had a club and used foul language. Vasudev identified him as Yamraj, the Hindu god of the dead.
    http://www.near-death.com/hindu.html

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Verse

    John 5:24
    Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    One bright note to the overwhelming preponderance of negative Near Death Experiences in Eastern cultures, it seems China, although it was a hellhole for Christians for decades under Communist rulers who purposely tried to obliterate all religions including Christianity from China, is soon to become the country with the most Christians in it in the world:

    Christianity is growing among Chinese youth Chinese Millennials look to the church for answers to life’s big questions. 62% of China’s believers are between the ages of 19 and 39. – August 5, 2016
    Excerpt: Although China is officially an “atheist country”, many experts believe that, on current trends, there will be 250 million Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world. Besides, China is also the biggest producer of Bibles worldwide. The expansion of Christianity concerns Chinese politicians, who continue to pressure on Christians, demolishing church buildings, taking down crosses, and harassing lawyers who defend non-official churches. More than 1,200 places of worship have been attacked since 2013, and some weeks ago, Chinese authorities ordered the closure of churches during the two-day G20 summit in September, “to create a safe environment.” Despite all this, the first Mission China 2030 Conference has been held in Hong Kong last year, with the of sending out 20,000 native missionaries by the year 2030.Next year, the Conference will take place in Beijing.
    http://evangelicalfocus.com/wo.....nese_youth

    Here is a video that gives a short history of Christianity in China:

    Quote: “..it is difficult to investigate the phenomenon of Christianity’s (explosion) in China today without hearing stories of miraculous healings.”
    -David Aikman (‘Jesus in Beijing’) (40:00 minute mark)
    Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvgveawp4oY
    Veteran TIME magazine senior correspondent and Beijing bureau chief, Dr. David Aikman, details the story of China’s enormously rapid conversion to Christianity and what this change means to the global balance of power.

  18. 18
    jdk says:

    Dave wrote,

    I think most of us realize at a fairly young age that not “doing good” in some fashion leads to an unhappy life. There’s a reason for doing good, based solely on self-interest.

    I find the phrase “based solely on self-interest” too narrow. I’ve been thinking about this, and I remember that I always liked Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which I think is consistent with an comparative physiological and behavioral approach to understanding humans as animals.

    We have some very self-interested physiological/survival needs such as food but we also have overlays of socially important emotions as well as “higher” intellectual and spiritual (in the non-metaphysical sense) needs. Maslow’s main point was that, to the degree possible given one’s surroundings, humans want to self actualize their potential by developing themselves throughout the whole hierarchy of needs.

    I also like what I was told once that Aristotle said: the purpose of life is to exercise the soul (I also take this in the non-metaphysical sense.)

    For instance, whence came my deep and committed desire to teach high school students for 40 years, when I could have done many things, most of which would have paid me much more? I think this career met many needs for me, including making a contributions to others, utilizing and developing many social, emotional, communicative, and intellectual skills, etc.

    Another framework is Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Right now we are teaching my grandchildren, just as part of their upbringing, that it is important to be honest and earn people’s trust so that they feel they can let you do new things on your own. In this case, we are making an appeal to a fairly narrow self-interest. But people, all to various degrees, actualize a hierarchy of moral understanding also, so that many mature people have reasons for being good that are much broader than just self-interest, such as benefitting others out of love, compassion, and empathy for them as fellow human beings, or as being a consequence of adhering to values such as honesty, taking responsibility for one’s actions, etc.

    Ultimately, many moral philosophies teach that doing the right thing irrespective of whether it benefits oneself or not, and without attachment to whether things work out as intended or not (as many factors other than actions are the causes of consequences) is the highest moral stance one can take.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI

  20. 20
    daveS says:

    jdk,

    Very nice post. I should clarify that relating to my #14, I certainly do accept that there are reasons beyond our narrow self-interest for doing good. I was hoping to convince Jorge that mere self-interest however does provide a rationale for some good works at least, without any thought of a reward in an afterlife.

  21. 21
    jdk says:

    Yes, and you are right, as my story about teaching my grandchildren about honesty was meant to illustrate.

    Actually, the issue sort of depends on how far you want to stretch the meaning of self-interest, because in the long run I think it is in my self interest, in part for the satisfaction of my sense of self worth, to fully actualize my potential. It is definitely in my self-interest to act in a way that helps build a healthy community around me, as that gives me a place to be safe and healthy in.

    I certainly agree, obviously, that all of this is true and meaningful without any reference at all to an afterlife.

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    @DaveS # 3

    ‘If Granville Sewell one day decided he didn’t believe that we are judged after our deaths, would that change the way he treated others? Untestable, I suppose, but I really doubt it. – DaveS

    If that is a righteous disparagement, in your own eyes, but is objectively false, both, it seems to me, completely gratuitous, it is you and your world-view that are culpable.

    But here’s the thing : We shall not be judged on what we know, our ‘faith qua credence’/knowledge, our analytical intelligence, but on what we want to be true, what we take the most beautiful, desirable end for which we were made by God, the faculty of our unitive intelligence ; but which, as a consequence of our free will, we can reject, sinking into ever greater sinfulness – it doesn’t have to dramatic and transparent to the public eye.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Axel: There are actually studies that show that people who do not believe they are ‘persons’. i.e. a soul, are a little bit more anti-social (psychopathic) than people who do believe they are ‘persons’, i.e. a soul:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video (14:22 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

    A scientific case for conceptual dualism: The problem of consciousness and the opposing domains hypothesis. – Anthony I. Jack – 2013
    Excerpt page 18: we predicted that psychopaths would not be able to perceive the problem of consciousness.,,
    In a series of five experiments (Jack, in preparation), we found a highly replicable and robust negative correlation (r~-0.34) between belief in dualism and the primary psychopathic trait of callous affect7.
    Page 24: Clearly these findings fit well with the hypothesis (Robbins and Jack, 2006) that psychopaths can’t see the problem of consciousness8. Taking these finding together with other work on dehumanization and the anti-social effects of denying the soul and free will, they present a powerful picture. When we see persons, that is, when we see others as fellow humans, then our percept is of something essentially non-physical nature. This feature of our psychology appears to be relevant to a number of other philosophical issues, including the tension between utilitarian principles and deontological concerns about harming persons (Jack et al., accepted), the question of whether God exists (Jack et al., under review-b), and the problem of free will9.
    http://tonyjack.org/files/2013.....281%29.pdf

    also of note:

    (Materialistic) Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: “Don’t stop believing!” -2010
    Excerpt: Studies found people who were told there is no such thing as free will were more likely to cheat under experimental conditions. “One of the most striking findings to emerge recently in the science of free will is that when people believe—or are led to believe—that free will is just an illusion, they tend to become more antisocial.” For example, in an experiment involving money, some participants were randomly assigned to what was called a determinism condition:
    They were asked to read statements such as, “A belief in free will contradicts the known fact that the universe is governed by lawful principles of science.” Those participants stole more money than those who had been randomly assigned to read statements from what was called a free-will condition–who had read statements such as, “Avoiding temptation requires that I exert my free will.”
    http://blogs.scientificamerica.....believing/

    The (moral) value of believing in free will (several studies):
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-565274

  24. 24
    daveS says:

    Axel,

    If that is a righteous disparagement, in your own eyes, but is objectively false, both, it seems to me, completely gratuitous, it is you and your world-view that are culpable.

    It certainly wasn’t intended to be a disparagement. More the opposite, really. In my experience, Christians who deconvert still treat others well, despite (perhaps) no longer believing in an afterlife.

  25. 25
    Axel says:

    Yes, it’s strange how, at least in my younger days, we were all deeply imbued with Christian cultural values, or at worst an awareness of them. The ‘salt’, ‘mustard seed’, etc.

  26. 26
    Axel says:

    BA, it shows how impressionable many people are at bottom, without a reasonably firm belief in an objective moral order – despite their normally routine adherence to the prevailing value-system, doesn’t it ?

    Did you ever read online on the topic of political ponerology (study of evil), by the retired, Polish psychiatrist ? Very interesting.

  27. 27
    daveS says:

    Axel,

    Yes, it’s strange how, at least in my younger days, we were all deeply imbued with Christian cultural values, or at worst an awareness of them. The ‘salt’, ‘mustard seed’, etc.

    Strange?

    In any case, my point is that most people choose to “do good” regardless of whether they believe they will be judged (and hence either rewarded or punished) in an afterlife. We already have incentives to “do good” in this life.

  28. 28
    Axel says:

    I seem to be too late to edit the above post. I should have written the name of the psychiatrist : Andrzej Lobaczewski.

  29. 29
    Axel says:

    ‘In any case, my point is that most people choose to “do good” regardless of whether they believe they will be judged (and hence either rewarded or punished) in an afterlife. We already have incentives to “do good” in this life.’

    You seem unaware of the countervailing tendencies to selfishness and evil, inherent in man’s ‘fallen’ condition, to which atheism is prey – less so, agnosticism, which can more often be a prelude to an eminent religious integrity.

    The ingrained Christian values (or otherwise) of our parents, (however formally ‘all over the shop’ they might be), notably of compassion and kindness, seem to me to largely determine our own Christian love, our own de facto values of compassion and decency.

    There is nothing in our nature that survives adulthood, to prompt us to ‘do good’, regardless, whether formal believers or not. That is the big mistake atheists and and agnostics never grow out of, failing Christian conversion.

    I know from my own experience as an agnostic, when a young adult, that in our anger with adults’ poor witness in our all our limited experience, we blame God.

    Growing up means realising that, now, as adults, we too are part of the problem, and our naively harsh judgment of others, sees us sink deeper and deeper in the mire, ourselves.

    Mine was an extreme case, though. You don’t sound bitter at the loss of a strong childhood faith, so I don’t doubt you are much kinder than I was ; which admittedly would not be difficult, as it happens.

  30. 30
    daveS says:

    Axel,

    You seem unaware of the countervailing tendencies to selfishness and evil, inherent in man’s ‘fallen’ condition, to which atheism is prey – less so, agnosticism, which can more often be a prelude to an eminent religious integrity.

    I’m certainly aware that people can be selfish and often harm each other (although I obviously don’t believe we are “fallen”). However we have created systems which discourage excessive selfishness and “evil”. As a result, in my estimation, it’s clearly not in my best interest to attempt to cheat these systems. Certainly commiting a serious crime would be contrary to my best interests, and in fact, even minor ethical shortcuts often have a price, in my experience.

    There is nothing in our nature that survives adulthood, to prompt us to ‘do good’, regardless, whether formal believers or not. That is the big mistake atheists and and agnostics never grow out of, failing Christian conversion.

    Really? You don’t believe so? I find exactly the opposite.

    I know from my own experience as an agnostic, when a young adult, that in our anger with adults’ poor witness in our all our limited experience, we blame God.

    Growing up means realising that, now, as adults, we too are part of the problem, and our naively harsh judgment of others, sees us sink deeper and deeper in the mire, ourselves.

    Mine was an extreme case, though. You don’t sound bitter at the loss of a strong childhood faith, so I don’t doubt you are much kinder than I was; which admittedly would not be difficult, as it happens.

    It is true that I have never been through the experience of losing my faith, although I’m not sure I’m kinder than anyone in particular.

    As to adults being part of the problem, I think I get what you are saying, although I probably have a less pessimistic view of human nature than you do.

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