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ForumsWEPRThe Religion Debate Thread

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nichodemus
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nichodemus
14,920 posts
Grand Duke

So yeah, our threads on religion have long since died out, so I figured it would be time to start afresh here!

Do you believe God exists (I know almost all of you don't)? Do you feel religion is important today? Is it a force for good? Discuss everything related to that here!

I'm going to start the ball rolling:

We all know about the rise of ISIS and the terrible acts it perpetuates. Does that show that Islam and religion in general is an awful concept? Is it the people who twist it? Or is it fundamentally an evil force?

Roping in the WERP frequenters
@MageGrayWolf @Kasic @Hahiha @FishPreferred @Doombreed @09philj

  • 704 Replies
Doombreed
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Doombreed
7,024 posts
Templar

you got the blood sacrifice part down but I think your description of the Christ a little bit off. He only demands sacrifice because "the wages of sin is death".

And how would the sacrifice help with that?

In order for a sacrifice to be acceptable, God demanded a perfect specimen.

Why is that?


Yes God exists and I can say with confidence why some of you do not want to believe in God

Really? Why is that? also, how do you know he exists?

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
978 posts
Farmer

Why is it that God needed to carry out anything to keep a promise that He made in the first place? He's God. Surely He creates the laws He follows, if He says something, it's done? Why is it that He needed to sacrifice His human aspect to allow anything?
I don't know if I understand correctly but is seems like you're confusing power with authority. Like God makes the rules and follows it Himself (authority) but He's not gonna take away our free will in order to enforce it (power).

And how would the sacrifice help with that?
It serves as a replacement. Instead of the guilty having to die, a replacement can.

Why is that?
I think the biggest significance to that rule is that when Jesus took our place, we would also take His place. Because He lived a perfect life, He would be blameless and righteous in the sight of God. When we take His place, we are blameless and righteous. I think when God made that rule for animal sacrifices, it was pointing to Christ.
FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
3,173 posts
Duke

Like God makes the rules and follows it Himself (authority) but He's not gonna take away our free will in order to enforce it (power).
What has that got to do with the ability to forgive?

It serves as a replacement. Instead of the guilty having to die, a replacement can.
How about He just accept the flaws of His creations and forgive them like a normal person? I'd expect that, as an Almighty Being, He would be able to manage something as simple as that, especially considering it's entirely His fault anyway. (Capitalized purely for the purpose of mocking convention.)

I think the biggest significance to that rule is that when Jesus took our place, we would also take His place. Because He lived a perfect life, He would be blameless and righteous in the sight of God. When we take His place, we are blameless and righteous.
Which would make hell either completely pointless or completely unjustifiable if it wasn't already both of those things.
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
978 posts
Farmer

What has that got to do with the ability to forgive?
How about He just accept the flaws of His creations and forgive them like a normal person? I'd expect that, as an Almighty Being, He would be able to manage something as simple as that, especially considering it's entirely His fault anyway. (Capitalized purely for the purpose of mocking convention.)
We have talked about this argument before. God is a just God. He demands that the wages of sin be paid for.

Which would make hell either completely pointless or completely unjustifiable if it wasn't already both of those things.
How so?
Moegreche
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Moegreche
3,822 posts
Duke

@lozerfac3

God is a just God. He demands that the wages of sin be paid for.

This is really well put. It's concise and clear. When we think about justice for wrongdoing, we think about making some sort of recompense--that is, the just thing to do when having failed some moral duty is to somehow makeup for it. In this case, humanity has sinned against God and so we must make some kind of compensation. I'm totally with you.

But once I take a step back, I get hung up again. Here's why. When one demands some sacrifice--whether it's an apology, some kind of compensation (e.g. money), or quite literally a sacrifice--the implication is that fulfilling that demand is possible. If you insult me and I demand an apology, there's an implication that you're actually able to apologize. If you're dead or unable to communicate, my demand doesn't really make sense. If I'm demanding you pay me some ridiculous amount of money--like a trillion dollars--then my demand is, again, nonsensical.

This leads me to the following thought:
A just sacrifice is one that the agent is able to make.

Note, this isn't a definition or analysis of 'just sacrifice'. What I have in mind is merely a necessary condition. If you prefer the logic form:
If X is a just sacrifice for S, then it must be possible for S to sacrifice X.

That's all the argument I can really give for the above principle right now. I feel like it's pretty intuitive; but I may be missing something. At any rate, I bet you can guess where this is going by now.

God is demanding that a sacrifice be made to atone for our sin. But he also demands that a morally perfect human be sacrificed. Since original sin would have metaphysically tainted humans, even a sacrificial baby wouldn't have worked. Instead, God must make a corporeal version of himself that is untainted in the relevant sense in order for this sacrifice to work.

Thus, God's demand is unjust. He's demanding something--namely a morally perfect sacrifice--that no human would be able to make. That's precisely why he had to intervene in order to fulfill the sacrifice. This is a pretty clear violation of (what I take to be) an obvious condition on what is a just demand.

And, as the others have pointed out, God could have simply forgiven mankind. Why, for example, was the murder of everyone and everything on the planet--save for Noah and his immediate family--not sacrifice enough? And why can't an omnipotent, all-loving being simply forgive humanity without having to go through all this? It just seems needlessly complicated.

This is yet another bit of evidence that, for me, points to the Bible being just another book of mythological tales. Think about the parallels between Abraham being commanded to kill his first born son (Isaac) and then Mary's first born child being sacrificed. You can even see early forms of literary foreshadowing and the development of motifs with the Cain and Abel story. Cain, of course, is the first actually-born human (since Adam and Eve weren't technically born) and his pride and overall 'impurity' led him to kill his own brother.

I'm also curious as to why God forgiving humanity's original sin in the absence of a human sacrifice would affect our free will in any way. The end result is forgiveness either way, so how does a human sacrifice preserve free will while a standard forgiveness doesn't?

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Duke

We have talked about this argument before. God is a just God. He demands that the wages of sin be paid for.
Indeed we have, which is why you should know exactly why saying "God is a just God" accomplishes nothing. As for why He isn't, here's that analogy from page 20 again:

Judge: Defendant, you are hereby accused of failing to complete all of the 12 Herculean tasks.
Defendant: But, your honour, I am not Hercules. There's no way I could possibly do them!
Judge: Let the records show that the defendant pleads guilty of not doing the impossible. I hereby sentence you to torture unto death for this most heinous crime.

I'm still waiting for an answer, by the way.

How so?
If Jesus somehow atoned for all of mankind's sins, it is unreasonable for mankind to also suffer for the same sins in hell. We'd have to conclude that hell either has no actual purpose because people aren't actually sent there, or it's being used unjustly because people are sent there through double jeopardy.
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

To your sacrifice argument: I'm glad you brought up the example about the demand for a trillion dollars. If someone owes you a trillion dollars then it's right to demand a trillion dollars from them whether that someone can pay it off or not.

The wages of sin is death. Just like the word love has many meanings, the word death has different meanings too. And just like the various meanings of love, the different meanings of death share a theme. With love, you might say it's being selfless. Death has the theme of absence. "Bobby died last Friday." Bobby is not physically absent but rather mentally/spiritually absent from everyone on Earth. "We are dead in our sin" Ephesians 2:1. In this case, we are dead in the sense that we are absent from God. I believe that this kind of death has the same meaning as the "the wages of sin is death" death. Not only did Jesus literally die on the cross, but he also died in sin and so was absent from God (thus his line "why have you forsaken me?&quot.

With this definition, then, the wages of sin is absence from God. You won't expect any blessings from God if you are a sinner and if you die, you will be absent from heaven. In other words, you will go to hell. As one who accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, those wages were properly paid for when Jesus bore the full wrath of God.

And, as the others have pointed out, God could have simply forgiven mankind. Why, for example, was the murder of everyone and everything on the planet--save for Noah and his immediate family--not sacrifice enough? And why can't an omnipotent, all-loving being simply forgive humanity without having to go through all this? It just seems needlessly complicated.
That would mean that nobody can be redeemed from their sin. Only with the sacrifice of Christ can anyone be redeemed from death (death in sin) because He lived a perfect life. We can elaborate but for now I spent too much time on my response.
FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Duke

If someone owes you a trillion dollars then it's right to demand a trillion dollars from them whether that someone can pay it off or not.
No, it isn't. Think about it. If I have such a debtor, it stands to reason that some agreement exists between us. If they have no way of upholding that agreement, then I've just wasted a trillion dollars. To hold the other party to that would be exploitative.

With this definition, then, the wages of sin is absence from God. You won't expect any blessings from God if you are a sinner and if you die, you will be absent from heaven. In other words, you will go to hell.
False dichotomy. I am not in heaven and I am not in hell. Therefore, heaven and hell are not jointly exhaustive. This demonstrates that sending people to hell for sinning is completely unjustifiable for an almighty being.

That would mean that nobody can be redeemed from their sin. Only with the sacrifice of Christ can anyone be redeemed from death (death in sin) because He lived a perfect life.
Really, why? What exactly prevents Him from redeeming people through any other way? Almighty God could just as logically eat blueberry pies to absolve the sins of the world. This just looks like another false dichotomy made up to justify something totally unnecessary.
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
978 posts
Farmer

If I have such a debtor, it stands to reason that some agreement exists between us. If they have no way of upholding that agreement, then I've just wasted a trillion dollars. To hold the other party to that would be exploitative.
But in this case we are not talking about a loan. The analogy ends there. Think about a country's laws. Someone might not agree with them, but they are still responsible for breaking them. You still have to pay the $200 fine for throwing a can on the freeway.

False dichotomy. I am not in heaven and I am not in hell. Therefore, heaven and hell are not jointly exhaustive.
I didn't say that they were. Allow me to rephrase. We know that we are neither in heaven or in hell at the moment. I believe that when you die, you go to one or the other. But on Earth you can be spiritually dead AKA dead to sin. If you are dead to sin and then you die physically, then you go to hell. Absence from God means that you are not in heaven and you will not receive certain blessings on Earth.
FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Duke

Think about a country's laws. Someone might not agree with them, but they are still responsible for breaking them. You still have to pay the $200 fine for throwing a can on the freeway.
Which is an equally bad analogy, because that kind of fine is supposed to be something people are actually able to pay and is for an action people can easily avoid doing. A trillion dollar fine for the same offence would be ridiculously unreasonable, as would a $200 fine for something virtually unavoidable, like exceeding a speed limit of 1m/h.

If you are dead to sin and then you die physically, then you go to hell.
Why? We know that they aren't jointly exhaustive, so there's no reason for hell to be a required destination. It's just an extreme and unnecessary cruelty.
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
978 posts
Farmer

Which is an equally bad analogy, because that kind of fine is supposed to be something people are actually able to pay and is for an action people can easily avoid doing. A trillion dollar fine for the same offence would be ridiculously unreasonable, as would a $200 fine for something virtually unavoidable, like exceeding a speed limit of 1m/h.
Okay then let's go to your Herculean tasks argument to clarify. In this case, a person is not Hercules so he is unable to follow the law. You say this is unjust. The fact of the matter is that the judge is not judging the person based on who he is, but rather what that person has done. Laws are put in place because actions have consequences. Murder is against the law because it has negative consequences. In your situation we do not know the consequences of not being able to complete the 12 Herculean tasks, but we do know that it is against the law and therefore it would have negative consequences in the eyes of the judge. A problem you can point out here is that who's to say that the consequences of the "crime" don't only affect the judge and that the judge is only trying to protect himself and not a greater good. Also, because we don't know those consequences, we cannot judge for ourselves whether the defendant's sentence was just. The only thing that we can rely on is the fact that the judge judges according to his own morality and ethics. I think you would agree that a judge is just when he wants the best consequences for everyone and judges accordingly. I believe that all laws (including the first 3 of the 10 commandments) created by God are just because positive consequences come after following them, and negative consequences come after disobeying them.

I'll get back to you on the hell part. I'm reading up on it right now because I'm also struggling with the concept of an eternal punishment for a finite crime.

Moegreche
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Moegreche
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Duke

The fact of the matter is that the judge is not judging the person based on who he is, but rather what that person has done.

I feel like my example of a trillion dollar fine might have muddied the waters, as my original point might have been lost. Just to be clear, here is the point I was making with those analogies:

God's demand of a sacrifice is unjust because no human could have met the demand.

Set aside the fact that this is a human sacrifice, so the person discharging this debt would have to submit to dying. My point here is that no human--no matter how good or kind--could have sacrificed themselves to meet this demand. This is an unjust demand.

Perhaps my earlier principle was too broad/vague, regarding when a demand is unjust. (I'm actually too lazy to go back and and look at it.) But here, we have a situation in which a human (or humanity) made some transgression against God. Punishment (which can easily be construed as a sacrifice, in the broad sense) would certainly be understandable. But the demand here was something that no human or group of humans--by their very nature--would be able to meet.

This is all very convoluted, since the transgression (i.e. the first disobeying of God) is actually the reason why no human can make up for that transgression. At the risk of making another confusing analogy, suppose I stole your bike. You got mad and demanded that I give you your bike back. I feel bad and really want to reconcile our relationship. So, I go to your house to give you back your back. You slam the door in my face, shouting "I don't want anything to do with a no-good bike thief!" You've put me in a position wherein I can't meet your demands. The act of stealing your bike made me a 'no good bike thief' and so, I'm not good enough to return your bike.

The analogy here, of course, extends to all humans. We all are tainted with original sin and so are metaphysically incapable of fulfilling God's demand. This is something he fully recognises and yet, in his infinite wisdom, just kind of sits there twaddling about. Until, that is, he hatches a brilliant plan to sacrifice a corporeal version of himself to meet his own demand.

It's at this point where I would continue this line to hit just how idiotic and silly God's idea is. But the point here is that God's demand for a morally perfect sacrifice is unjust. If we're going to make sense of this, then that's the point to engage with. The analogies are not arguments by analogy--they're simply attempts to help explain the situation. So, either something is wrong with my characterisation of a 'just demand' or something is wrong with applying that characterisation to God's demand of humans. I don't see any other way around it.

FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Duke

In your situation we do not know the consequences of not being able to complete the 12 Herculean tasks, but we do know that it is against the law and therefore it would have negative consequences in the eyes of the judge.
No; that's what we would expect if the judge's rulings had reasonable basis, but we don't know that either. What should be clear is that it's unreasonable to have a law that is impossible to follow.

I think you would agree that a judge is just when he wants the best consequences for everyone and judges accordingly.
1 Not if he's insane, misinformed, or really bad at his job.
2 Anything involving hell cannot have the best consequences for everyone. It just can't.

I believe that all laws (including the first 3 of the 10 commandments) created by God are just because positive consequences come after following them, and negative consequences come after disobeying them.
Are you ... sure you want to go with that?
What negative consequences are there for making a likeness of any living thing? Of not ritually slaughtering firstborn animals? Of eating fat, leavened bread, lobster, or pork? Of working on the Sabbath? Of wearing wool and linen together, or getting a tattoo, or shaving?
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
978 posts
Farmer

The analogy here, of course, extends to all humans. We all are tainted with original sin and so are metaphysically incapable of fulfilling God's demand. This is something he fully recognises and yet, in his infinite wisdom, just kind of sits there twaddling about.
Metaphysically incapable, but not technically incapable. Like technically someone can live their whole life never breaking God's law. It doesn't matter the cause of your sin. If you had a troubled childhood and grew up to be inconsiderate and full of hatred, you can blame it all you want on your parents, but in the end, you're held accountable for your actions and your parents are held accountable for their actions. Similarly, a kid who is growing up mentally challenged may still be disciplined if he is acting impolite. Even though he has the disability, he is the one who is disciplined because he needs to be corrected.
-
I anticipate you would bring up this argument again:
God could have simply forgiven mankind. Why, for example, was the murder of everyone and everything on the planet--save for Noah and his immediate family--not sacrifice enough? And why can't an omnipotent, all-loving being simply forgive humanity without having to go through all this? It just seems needlessly complicated.
Noah and his family were sinners too. Their descendants inherited the sinful nature from them. Punishment is for individuals not for groups. In a lot of cases, every member of a group has committed a crime, so God sets out to destroy all of them in one swoop to all of them. Also God is not all-loving. He does not love sin. He does not love certain actions. He does not love certain attitudes. He would never forgive someone unless they come to Him and repent. If they don't repent then they have not learned to respect God.

No; that's what we would expect if the judge's rulings had reasonable basis, but we don't know that either.
That's why I said:
A problem you can point out here is that who's to say that the consequences of the "crime" don't only affect the judge and that the judge is only trying to protect himself and not a greater good.

What should be clear is that it's unreasonable to have a law that is impossible to follow.
Is it impossible not to lie? Is it impossible not to say God's name in vain? Is it impossible not to envy? Is it impossible not to feel anger towards someone? Those last 2 may seem impossible. But those are examples of good things to place a law against. Just because it is metaphysically impossible, doesn't mean that it shouldn't be outlawed.

I guess you might say that it is natural to feel envy or natural to feel angry and it would be unjust to place a law against emotions. But we are talking about a theoretically perfect judge. We don't have those laws in place on Earth because it would be unjust. You simply can't judge someone's emotions. But God can because He is all-knowing and He knows where those emotions lead.

Not if he's insane, misinformed, or really bad at his job.
Sure, but I consider God to be omniscient.

Anything involving hell cannot have the best consequences for everyone. It just can't.
I can see why you say that but please elaborate.

Are you ... sure you want to go with that?
What negative consequences are there for making a likeness of any living thing? Of not ritually slaughtering firstborn animals? Of eating fat, leavened bread, lobster, or pork? Of working on the Sabbath? Of wearing wool and linen together, or getting a tattoo, or shaving?
Yes. Some of those laws are for good hygiene, respect and attitude in a time when it was against the culture, and atonement. Consequently the negative consequences would be disease, division, and more that I wouldn't be able to anticipate. But I believe that God would be able to anticipate those consequences and I trust in that.
Moegreche
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Moegreche
3,822 posts
Duke

Metaphysically incapable, but not technically incapable. Like technically someone can live their whole life never breaking God's law.

Oh, okay. So I think we're talking about 2 different things here. I agree that someone can live their whole lives without breaking God's law. Like, it's at least possible.
But I'm talking about the original sin that taints humanity. This is the thing (as I understand it) that broke our relationship with God such that no one who died before Jesus's sacrifice went to heaven. As I understand it, people who died before this ultimately sacrifice simply weren't in the market for redemption. Jesus fixed all that.

What you're talking about--post-Jesus sin--can be rectified by repenting (either in confession to a priest, through penance, or to God). What I'm talking about is original sin that has made humans unable to reach heaven because of a disconnection to God--one that was breached when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

I've since Googled this and I'm even more confused than ever. Like, literally every different website I went to had a different story about why Jesus was necessary and what happened to those who died before Jesus's time on Earth.

I still think there's something wrong here with God's demand of a sacrifice. But now I've confused myself to the point where I'm kind of frustrated. Buuuuut, I'm now more interested in something Fish said:

Are you ... sure you want to go with that?
What negative consequences are there for making a likeness of any living thing?

To which you responded:

Some of those laws are for good hygiene, respect and attitude in a time when it was against the culture, and atonement. Consequently the negative consequences would be disease, division, and more that I wouldn't be able to anticipate. But I believe that God would be able to anticipate those consequences and I trust in that.

I'm wondering whether you want to go down a consequentialist framework here. I don't mean to suggest that these things can't be understood in terms of negative consequences. Let's set all that aside. Here's my worry: when you start thinking about consequences, I think consequentialism qua ethical theory. And I'm not sure that a divine command theorist can be a consequentialist.

I could totally be wrong here, since DCT is more about the grounding of moral principles, whereas consequentialism (hereafter: C) is a theory--and explanation--of moral thinking. In other words, DCT explains where morality comes from. C just explains why certain acts are right or wrong.

But it seems like DCT has an answer to the theory question that's incompatible with C; it's something like 'because God said so'. That's a bit simplistic. But I would liken it to a deontological theory--one that's focused on our moral duties--over anything that talks about consequences. Do you have any thoughts on that, or am I just rambling?

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