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.
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.