Roy Moore


#402

But at the end of the day god’s words are given to us in scripture and revelation and as a result, it’s interpreted.

Is slavery good or bad?

During the time of slavery the Bible was used as a justification for slaves and now it’s used to rebuke it. Is there some reason now that we can better understand?

I mean it’s one thing to say that god gives us the answers, but the only clear answers are answers we can come to without a god. Most people don’t need a god to know that murder is wrong or that causing suffering is bad. The hard questions are just interpretations of those ideas.

If a train was headed toward 5 workers who you knew wouldn’t hear the train coming and you were the only person who could do anything, but your ONLY choice was to press a button and switch the train to another track where there was a single worker who would be killed, what does the bible have to say about that?

What if there was another person who refused to press the button and wouldn’t let you press it either, what would you do? What if he was willing to defend the button with his life, would you take it to save 5 workers?

What if the 5 men were your brothers?

What if instead of a train it was a nuke and it was headed to a city of 1 million and the button would divert it to a city of 10,000?

How does your god help with these moral conundrums?

Do you think all Christians would answer these questions the same? If not, then I submit that Christianity does not provide the clear answer you seem to claim that it does.

The fact is, in situations that aren’t clear, people are using their moral intuition and claim that they did it because it’s what they believe god would want them to do.

It falls a little flat pointing out that something can be wrong rather than why it’s wrong.

Having said that and responding specifically to what you are responding too. Claiming that you have an instance of something that defies a long-standing and accepted norm is in formal logic referred to as “special pleading”. That’s what it’s called, that’s not inductive or deductive logic, that’s a definition.

You don’t believe that humans innately wish to avoid pain, suffering and sickness and that the desire to avoid those states doesn’t give rise to values constant with those innate desires?

That is nothing arbitrary about choosing to be free of pain or suffering.

Why does an antelope run when a Lion chases it? Because it has an innate desire to live. Therefore, running is objectively the best thing it can do if it’s being chased.

If a Lion were chasing a human, would that human run? Why? Because humans value life innately, but humans are, as far as we know, unique, in that they have awareness and humans can deduce future events based on past and present circumstances. Is being eviscerated by a Lion bad only by choice? Nope, it’s bad with respect to my innate desire to live and avoid the pain and suffering that results from being chewed up by a Lion. There is nothing arbitrary about that. How we experience it is subjective, but it objectively happens.

Now if you are saying that I merely choose to say that being killed by a Lion is bad…Well yeah, of course.

Pain and suffering objectively threaten the innate desire to live. People tend to want to live and their values are a reflection of those innate desires.

Christians (forgive my painting with a broad brush here) are uncomfortable with the idea that they actually have a choice, so they redefine words like “objective” with respect to god.

Innate value of what? Life? Animals innately value their lives and they aren’t even aware of god. Children innately value their lives long before they understand god.

It does not take a god to value a life. Ironically, it often takes a god to justify the taking of other lives.

Christopher Hitchens once said:

Name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can you think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?

There is nothing a belief can do outside of the confines of his own belief that a non-believer cannot also do, but religion often drives people do terrible things that cannot possibly be justified by non-believers.

I’m not totally clear what you mean here.

[quote=“Fantasy_Chaser, post:395, topic:60347”]How much awareness is necessary for value? Does a Down’s Syndrome person fail to qualify? An infant? The unborn? The elderly with dementia? A certain I.Q. level? I know that many on the left use some or all of these as disqualifiers. This question must be answered soundly if the resulting morality is to be meaningful. The Christian answer is that we’re made in the image of God.
[/quote]

That’s a good question and I’m certain social experiments have been done on children, primates, and other animals to ascertain the answers to these questions.

If you’re asking me, I’d say that seeing value is a combination of factors. First and probably most importantly a creature has to be capable of empathy, that is, there must be aware of how actions affect others. Humans are innately capable of empathy, but not all humans have it, either because of development issues or because of social environmental issues.

Are the young less empathetic than the old?
Is the right less empathetic and the left?
Are the rich less empathetic than the poor?

(Yes I slanted those questions, feel free to reverse them if you wish).

These are questions that are studied and while I won’t cite any particular study (if you’re interested just google it), I think there is some evidence for very levels of empathy in people depending on a combination of factors.

I would remind you that if you value life because you are commanded by a god to value it vs valuing it because you see the benefits of valuing and simply choose to, I’d say you are less empathetic than the person who chooses it.

Why do I say that? Because you have to admit that if you believed your god commanded you not to value the life of a person or a group of people (sound familiar?) then you have to admit that you’d obediently follow.

You can’t say your god would never do this because there are examples in the Bible that say otherwise. The only way to fix this problem is rationalization and justification and even redefining words or denying the utility of logic.

How might you explain designating endangered species or giving protections to whales, tigers and elephants? What about women? As offensive as it will be to most women (and it is not intended to be) women have rights because men agree to it because they see the practical benefit in it. You might tell me that women are created in gods image and that’s why they deserve rights, but the Bible is used both to justify why women deserve rights and why they are subordinate to men.

The answer to your question is, people, have to convince each other the value of extending rights to aliens, women, the poor, people of other races, animals etc… It’s a choice.

I submit to you that actions and deeds in themselves have intrinsic value, some are “good” and some are not. Therefore, it is a life led that pursues actions of intrinsic good that give meaning to those actions and our lives as a whole. Even if I go to hell forever, my life will have still had meaning. If the moment I die that’s it, it’s all over, that doesn’t take away my deeds, good or bad and the lasting impression (or lack thereof), I left in the world.

Conversely, I might ask you, if god gives meaning to life, are you just assuming that god’s claim’s of meaning and that following god’s actions are good?

You’ve already admitted that you cannot, by yourself decide what is good and what isn’t. You’ve chosen to believe that god has told you what is good and what isn’t and without god you wouldn’t know the difference. You also believe that if you follow god you will be rewarded with eternal life and if you don’t you will be punished eternally. Your choices are the hope for something you want and to avoid something you don’t. That sounds like a pretty selfish motive to me.

I do good because it makes me feel good to know my help improves the lives of others. Is that selfish? Is that meaningless? I don’t think so. I think that’s a pretty damn good reason for doing good, that the act is, in itself the reward, not just some promise of reward after death.

I ask you, if you, at the moment of your death you realize for just a split second that there is no eternal life and you have time to contemplate this fact, can you really tell me with a straight face that in that moment you will believe your life was meaningless?

What about all the people that knew you? Certainly, you think yourself a decent person who has helped others, do you think they would describe your life as meaningless?

That’s a completely nihilistic view of the world.

Why does the existence of a universe demand and explanation?

Wonderous? While I agree, I’d point out that virtually all of it is completely inhospitable to human life.

The bigger question is why there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world and we have access to only one of them?

This is where intellectually honest people without god just have to admit that we don’t know exactly how or why the universe came to exist (and admit the more uncomfortable realization that we may never know). We don’t know if new universes are created every second or if this is the only universe to ever and will ever exist, but the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean you can fill the gap of that knowledge with, well then god did it.

With all the sincerity I can covey over the internet, I think that’s awesome and I wouldn’t try to take that from you, I would only ask you this question.

When a Buddist or a Muslim, or person of different faith has the exact same experience, how do you explain that?

I am not your typical ignorant non-believer. I won’t deny the historical significance or the immeasurable good done in the name of a god (or rush to point out the horrible brutality carried out in the name of god).

I was just talking to my brother the other day about this. He said to me, if there’s no god, how come the Bible is so accurate? He explained that verses, lessons, and metaphors speak to him. The wisdom of it is self-evident.

I said, imagine you lived for 6000 years. Let’s say along the way you wrote down your knowledge an wisdom in a book, living, making mistake and correcting your book. What might that book be like after that time? How might it appear to those in the 20’s 30’s or 40’s?

Imagine the wisdom that you could accrue in that time.

I believe the Bible is, at times, an excellent book for practical wisdom and accumulated through experiences of the lives and untold numbers of people. Read today it appears fantastic.

I agree that there are many who attack Christianity. It’s my experience that atheists who do that do that because they lack the comfort that knowledge brings. There are lots of questions they don’t know and this creates anxiety even rage.

This is the blessing (if you’ll allow me to use that word) of believing in god. You don’t have to know the answers to everything and in that comes great comfort.

For the non-believer, it takes intellectual maturity to simply admit that there are things that we don’t know. That it’s ok that others believe there is a god and stripping that belief away brings the non-believer no closer the answers that make him/ her uncomfortable.

So I freely admit this is a BIG +1 for a belief in a god and it is for this reason, that if I found out I was right, that God does not exist and I had but to push a button and everyone else would know what I know, I would’t push it.

Men have died for a whole lot less.

It is as I said. I think the writings attributed to Jesus, the oldest of which (correct me if I’m wrong) were written 45-70 years after he died, appear extremely wise and beyond any single person wisdom, especially considering the time.

But I believe these writings have been changed over time, but they were always accredited to the same person, i.e. Jesus or god.

What is my evidence?

There has been a study of the writing of the time specifically focusing on language. As new kings came into power, some of the words were changed to reflect the thoughts and beliefs of the time. There is an agreement among scholars that study word usage (etymology) that the book of Deuteronomy is one of the only books that remained largely unchanged.

There is also some evidence that Yahweh was one of several gods worshipped at the time. El, Ashria and Bal were the others if memory serves. When the Jews were taken from their homeland, the prophets of Yahweh complained that it was a failure to devote to him (as he was the god of war) that led to their defeat in battle and their subsequent enslavement. As a result, a strict adherence to the worship of Yahweh began. Temples and idols of the other gods we cast off and even the name was forbidden to use, thus Polytheism became monotheism.

Now I only mention all of that to amuse you, not convince you. You haven’t seen or been convinced of the evidence I’ve seen and in fairness, I haven’t seen yours, but suffice it to say, I am not convinced that the Christian god is who most claim that he is.


#403

I can accept that. TJ was a complicated man that lived in a time when the laws of gravity were just being discovered and atoms and electricity were mostly still unknown.

It’s really not all that important to me personally. Again, I can accept that Jefferson was a complicated man who cannot be easly described or defined by any “side”.

I don’t know if there is a creator, I am agnostic in this sense. I haven’t seen anything that would convince me to believe there is a creator, I’m atheistic in this sense.

As far as my “creator”, I was playing a little loose with words there as a creator does presuppose a consciences and a desire to create. So if I’m being honest, I’m not yet convinced of a creator in those terms.


#404

Arbitrary=Random.

A choice made, right or wrong good or bad isn’t random. People have reasons for making them and I bet if you asked them, almost all of them would claim they believed their reasons are “good”.

Hopefully, over time, we can learn from the mistakes of our past. The Constitution is an example of that learning. After thousands of years of recorded history and it was just ~250 years ago that we reached this point. WE’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

And there lies the distinction between what people subjectively perceive and what the objectively do.

Those are moral failures that our society will either correct or they won’t which may lead to the downfall of our society. THe only hope we have is whatever takes it place learns the lessons that we failed too.


#405

Gah. I’ll be a while getting back to that long post, CBS. I’ll probably forget half of the original issues I was debating…


#406

BS. I was once on Galveston Island with my wife and daughter who was 2 years old at the time. My daughter and I wound up on an obscure sidewalk at the zoo that went behind some of the displays where we encountered a cage made of chain link. Inside was a huge male lion. He spotted my daughter and jumped to his feet and charged at us. If self-preservation was “instinctual” I SHOULD have run. Instead, I grabbed my daughter and put her behind me so that I’d be between the lion and her. At the last minute, the lion put on the brakes, slid on the concrete floor and banged into the chain link. I didn’t THINK about it. I just did it that way. If self-preservation was “instinctual,” why did it play out that way?


#407

Let me ask you a question in return.

Why did you protect your 2-year-old daughter? Is it because god tells you life has value or is it because you innately love your child and your actions to attempt to protect her, express the value you put on your life, even above your own life.

This example, when you reason it out, has all the same logical elements as my example.

You value the life of your child and your actions are consistent with that value. You didn’t step in front of that Lion because god told you too, or because god says life has value, you did it because you love your daughter.


#408

And God IS love so you’re still wrong.


#409

That’s such a cop-out.


#410

“The Bible doesn’t help answer these questions” is a statement that is exclusively made by people who have never read the Scripture exhaustively.

Not coincidentally this is the same group who believes they possess the authority and wisdom to define morality.

The curse of man is the desire to be his own god, this is the root of every manifestation of evil.

This curse applies to all men but all men do not embrace it as a blessing, those who see clearly enough to recognize it as a curse discipline their thinking and actions to avoid as many of the horrors as possible that always accompany the commitment to playing god.


#411

Still working on reply, CSB.


#412

Okay, here we go CSB. I pretty much did go point by point, which isn’t very efficient with such a long post and response. I’ve undoubtedly gone down several rabbit trails that aren’t addressing the fundamental issues here; I feel certain that a more knowledgable Christian apologist would cut to the chase and pin you down much more efficiently. But be that as it may, here’s what I’ve got:

On interpretation of the Bible, some interpretations stand up to scrutiny better than others. I would cite (that I have handy) two scriptures that put the kibosh on slavery. From Micah, three commandments that sum up the entirety of God’s law:

Jesus summed it up in two (quoted from other Old Testament scripture):

I submit that slave owning is contrary to loving mercy and especially one’s neighbor.

I dispute that one can only come to clear answers without God; I say it’s the exact opposite. I doubt that any Christian (and not everyone who professes to be one is) interprets every last piece of scripture completely accurately. Thus, it’s a flaw to rely heavily on Christians per se (I think that’s a mistake in other parts of your argument); one must rely on Christ, not Christians (whom all or most are still being spiritually perfected).

To do that, one must be open to Him. Scripture cites a number of examples where the enemies of God were confounded and blinded because of their unbelief, while the believers were in the know. I see no reason to believe that has changed (and enough to believe it has not; including in my own life).

As to your train conundrum, I believe the only solution is to be open to God, and do what He says; he calls us to obedience, not expedience. The results are in His hands:

Even when it doesn’t look like it (we don’t have God’s all-knowing perspective).

You claim moral intuition, but the fact is, that in a strictly naturalistic sense, we’re all selfish. Look out for number one, save myself before else. Such behavior is ubiquitous in human history.

My point about paradoxes is that conventional logic can fail, because one doesn’t have all the evidence. Does that make a conclusive argument in my favor? No. But I submit that it should serve as a caution to not be too quick to dismiss it, either. And conclusions I’ve drawn from personal experience that you would call “special pleading” I submit are indeed logically arrived at. To you, the evidence isn’t there; to me, I was there.

As to whether or not a secular construct of morality is arbitrary, there’s a difference between cause and effect on one hand, and objective conclusion on the other. Avoidance of pain is natural (and selfish, although not necessarily in a bad way). Doing the right thing even when it hurts is supernatural (of God, I submit):

That’s counterintuitive to a secular I-don’t-want-to-hurt-or-die worldview. Which suggests that such a worldview is arbitrary, because there is going to be (and is, and has been) conflict (as in your train conundrum). You cited the antelope running from the lion; the lion pursues the antelope for the same reason: Self-interest. In nature, a doe will fight a bear to protect her fawn; but not another doe’s fawn. This differs deer, antelope, and the rest of nature from those of us made in the image of God; many human beings have sacrificed themselves for those whom they don’t know from Adam. This is a flaw in your analogy (admittedly, there are few, if any, perfect analogies).

You said:

It’s bad with respect to my innate desire to live and avoid the pain and suffering that results from being chewed up by a Lion.

I submit that right there you proved the arbitrary nature of your concept of morality. “With respect to” can relate to someone else’s innate desire to be rid of you because (please understand I’m speaking hypothetically) perhaps you’re an obnoxious neighbor, or you’re in the way of their promotion, or you’re a domineering spouse, or a passive spouse, or they want your girlfriend for themselves. “With respect to” whichever of these innate things (innate in that they want to be free from you for their own self interest), it might well be “good” for you to be chewed up by a lion. And since he (or she) isn’t the cause of you getting chewed up by a lion, they claim a clear conscience. “With respect to” is moral relativism.

Animals innately value their own lives without awareness of God. They also respect the law of gravity without being aware of it. It takes a God (the God, I’ll argue, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not) to give one’s life for others. It takes God to choose to give one’s life for the purpose of spreading the gospel; that is the ethical act that nonbelievers cannot do. They can mimic some of the others, but I’ll argue that scrutiny would reveal that mimicry is all that it is.

As to the utility of logic, I submit that it is limited on account of the concept known as GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). Any logical inference from either flawed or incomplete evidence is going to be flawed itself. Even collectively (let alone individually), humanity only knows a pittance of all there is to know; how much room is there, then, to make logical conclusions that are wrong? My belief is that God gives us what we need (and can handle) when the time is right. “Special pleading,” if you like (although I feel that a thorough study of the Bible reveals evidence more compelling than that), but that’s where I am; you’re wherever you are.

Endangered species? I chalk it up in part to what God put in our hearts, part to a worldview that (wrongly, I strongly believe) says humanity can ultimately save itself, and part to politics (gives politicians an issue to justify themselves with). As to women, much of the planet does not see value in women’s rights, and thus doesn’t grant them any (or many). As a side note (and I partially alluded to this in my previous post), I would add that in the early days of Judaism, it radically advanced the worth of women as people; and Christianity radically advanced it again (and generally speaking, the left doesn’t acknowledge it, while defending Islam).

How can actions and deeds have intrinsic value out of the blue? How can they have intrinsic value when, in a godless worldview, it’s all going to come to naught when entropy comes? What will lives lived well matter when the entire universe is a cold and dark graveyard? I don’t feel you’ve answered the crux of this. And if you go to hell forever, you can only do so if there is a hell, which is a Judeo-Christian concept; a construct of God, which requires His existance.

As to attributing meaning of life and its value to God, how could I do otherwise? I cannot self-exist. I did not (and could not) create myself. I cannot create the world and sun that I need to live. I cannot create other people (no, procreation doesn’t count, because God gave us procreation (and the drive therefor), and set it up with parameters beyond our knowing). I cannot create anything without using anything other than what He already created. Why, then, should I be arrogant enough to think that anyone other than my wonderous Creator who flung the entire UNIVERSE into existance could be qualified to determine what is meaningful? I don’t feel that it is choosing to believe that God determines it, but admitting it.

I agree that it does feel good to do good. But I believe that the goodness and the feeling don’t occur in a vacuum. I’m not seeing an argument here any more substantial than “it just is.”

I can tell you that I did believe that my life was meaningless when I was an atheistic-leaning agnostic. It made me depressed and suicidal; and suicide is the logical conclusion of an atheistic worldview that leaves no room for life after death (nihilistic, yes; it’s part of that logical conclusion; and thus GIGO; the equation doesn’t work without God, and it works BEAUTIFULLY with him). You say your deeds will still have happened; in oblivion, will you feel morally justified? When the universe dies, will you be morally justified? I submit that there is no such thing as temporal morality; it’s either eternal, or it isn’t morality at all.

And pain-avoidance isn’t the be-all and end-all, either (which is why suicide for the terminally ill is an abomination). Not that anyone wishes it, but good comes out of some of the pain we experience (a minor example is a very bad toothache that sent me to the dentist, whereupon he discovered an infection which could have been a lot more serious if it hadn’t been detected in time). It wouldn’t be necessary in a perfect world, but we as humanity threw a monkey wrench into the works with our sin. So God makes beauty out of ashes (as only He can) instead.

The reason the universe demands an explanation is because it is so glaringly there. That doesn’t mean we necessarily have an explanation (although I insist that I and other believers do), or that we choose to answer the demand. But I submit that the unspoken demand is there, and that to ignore or dismiss it is intellectually dishonest. And no, yours is not the bigger question. Why it exists at all is MUCH bigger than why some detail of its existance.

I don’t believe anyone can have the same kind of freeing from addiction that I experienced outside of the God I believe in. If someone outside of the faith experiences something like it, I believe in two possibilities: Either prevenient grace from God (part of what I experienced was that), or there’s a catch in there somewhere that would be revealed under sufficient scrutiny (perhaps of the heart, which ultimately, only God can do).

I think you’re dead wrong about the scriptures being revised as time went by, and I believe there is plenty of documentational evidence to that effect. I don’t have it on hand to present, so I can’t really prove it to you; but I’ve heard it discussed by sources I trust. And although I don’t have the energy to put into it, I think it would be interesting to scrutinize the studies that claim the contrary; as well as the motivations of the studiers.

I submit that admitting that one doesn’t have all the answers is intellectual maturity for believers and nonbelievers alike, if they’re believing it for the right reasons (sometimes (and I’ve almost certainly been guilty of it) we cling to it as a cop out).

I don’t believe that men in their right minds have died without either recanting or resisting for a belief they know is false. And I’ve never heard any argument (let alone a compelling one) for the apostles being collectively insane for their belief (some hard-core atheists might insist that they were insane for believing it at all, but that is circular logic).

And again, why did those (the Jewish religious leaders and the Romans; and the latter had plenty of independent documentation of their own) who had the most to gain from it (at least in a worldly sense; and what other sense could there be, if Jesus did not rise from the dead?) and vast resources to do so (if He didn’t rise from the dead) fail to produce Jesus’ body?

You cited the difference in time between Jesus’ life and the earliest copies of the gospels. I understand that in that regard, the scriptures constitute among the best and perhaps the best evidence of such ancient events; secular historians are satisfied with far less direct evidence.

Have fun, and maybe (not holding my breath) I’ll figure out how to do a better job of cutting to the chase next time…


#413

You did a great job “cutting to the chase” in that post FC, each of those points you addressed could easily warrant multiple posts of that length by itself but you covered them all respectfully in just one; any exhaustive discussion of those concepts would net the same conclusions :slight_smile:


#414

Thanks, although I still think I did plenty of rabbit-trailing.


#415

For what it’s worth I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I genuinely appreciate your sharing with me your beliefs. If you didn’t have at least some respect for me, you wouldn’t have taken the time and for that I am humbled and I thank you.

I read through and will take in what you’ve said. I think we’ve reached a point of impasse, but I may pluck out a few things to reply too. However, if there is something, in particular, you’d like me to answer, let me know.

-Cheers


#416

No, it’s a breakdown of definitions.

God is not a “Being” in Christian theology. He’s closer to a phenomenon, like the Force, but with a keen intelligence behind it.

You speak it seems to me from a Phenomenologist perspective. I would invite that this isn’t in direct contradiction to Christianity, as one of the bigger names among the Pheneomenologists is Carl Rogers, who explicitly used his faith to inform his methodology for psychoanalysis.

One of his bigger tenets, was to tell the truth; that the exchange of truth is inherently life-affirming and therapeutic. Another was that all exchanges should entail give & take; everyone should be getting something out of the conversation, even the therapist talking to his patient. They’re likely not doing things right otherwise, or at least only to an inferior degree.


#417

I have to respond to this. This is totally untrue. Christian theology see God as a being, not a “phenomenon” like the force. He is a real being, in three persons; He is all-intelligent himself - kind of a flaky statement, since He created intelligence.


#418

Well, he’s not a being. God transcends the classification of “being” , because he is interwoven into all of existence.

Beings have discrete, finite definitions to their form. God does not.

He’s not a phenomenon either, I’m only saying his existence is closer in form to one.

Some talk on this:

https://strangenotions.com/what-god-is-and-isnt/


#419

Only if you dismiss the account of the Bible. It’s full of references to God as a being, complete with image and body (and not just as the Son who came to Earth as a man; the Old Testament addresses these things).


#420

The Bible CLEARLY states that Adam was created “in God’s image.” If Adam was a human man, then God MUST appear to be a human man also…therefore a “being.”


#421

St. Thomas Aquinas sheds a different answer, that clearly doesn’t contradict the Bible:

Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual—however supreme—among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.”

It was right there in the source, I’d recommend reading it.

Or, if you’d like, you can watch Fr. (now Bishop) Barron here trounce the New Atheists for making the mistake of treating God in this manner: