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Old October 12th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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Barrels
The Fresh Prince of Kanto
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Hanging from the edge of a cliff
Gender: Male
Nature: Lonely
First, thank you for taking the time to respond so politely! :D It's always nice when you can have a civilised discussion on the interwebs. To that end, here are my thoughts on your rebuttal:

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He has the authority, because he is God. We sin when we judge, because we aren't perfect either. From a thousand miles away, two miles doesn't look much different than one.

And besides, look at our forum's rules - no mini-modding. This is the same idea.
I'm not entirely sure I comprehend your argument. As I see it (and please do correct me if I'm wrong!), this is what you believe:
1) We have one moral code ('turn the other cheek' etc.).
2) This directly contradicts God's stated intentions ('you will be punished for your sins' etc.).
3) Therefore God has a separate moral code.
4) Therefore morality is not universal - there is no 'right' way to behave. It all depends on who you are (i.e. God/human). There is no true morality - there is one rule for us and one rule for God in all circumstances (although occasionally these might be the same).

Here's where I see the argument running into problems - leaving aside the fact that it is hypocritical by definition to judge others for doing something you yourself engage in, shouldn't we be trying to behave in the best way possible throughout our lives? Since God can't sin, all his behaviour must therefore be perfect. It follows that we ought to imitate God as much as possible in order to strive for perfection - or at least as close to perfection as we can achieve.

It really doesn't make sense to say that we should be governed by a separate moral code if this code is inferior to God's. Internally it's just not consistent. If our code truly showed the right way to live, God would obey it too. Likewise, if God's code is the right way to live, we should obey that instead. Handwaving it with talk of 'authority' is irrational - since when did a big stick imply rightness? We are talking of morality here, not punishment or reward. The truly moral man does not flinch from sticks and stones - or indeed fire and brimstone - if they are an inevitable consequence of doing the right thing.

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The fact of fact is that sinning is not much a big of a deal as taking his place - the Devil was thrown out of heaven not because he screwed up but rather because he tried to take God's place. Whether this is fair isn't up to me, but that's what happens.
This is really interesting to me. 'Whether this is fair isn't up to me' - that sounds almost like resignation to what is, in my view, a horrible state of affairs! And I disagree - it is absolutely up to you to examine the situation and decide whether or not it is just. That's the moral thing to do. How can you justify supporting a cause you deem to be unfair? You can't - your heart's not in it, you're unwilling, you know deep down that what you are doing isn't honest. It's the Nuremberg defence all over again - here, I'll quote from the Nuremberg Principles:

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

In our case, 'a superior' is obviously God. And a moral choice is, at all times, possible. I'll leave you with this question: who is more moral, the man who blindly follows orders or the man who first examines them to see whether they are just and should be followed?

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Not everyone deserves to be with God. It's not a privilege, it's a gift. You must accept it first to get it, and it's sure as hell easy to get.
Given the circumstances, this is chilling. It's not as if the 'undeserving' simply don't get to be with God in Heaven - they are actually tortured. In my view, no one deserves to be tortured for not accepting a belief for which there is no sound basis. You might as well tie me to a rock and summon an eagle to eat out my heart for not believing in Superman - it's just as unfair.

I'll condense this. Sure, God is allowed to pick who he wants in Heaven. That's fine. Okay. But if there is only one alternative - eternal damnation - then no, he absolutely is not. I cannot accept under any decent moral standpoint that people deserve to be tortured - which is what you are saying. If you and I disagree on this, then our concepts of morality are so wildly different that we might as well be speaking in a foreign language. We're just spinning our wheels, trying hopelessly to convince the other of the rightness of our position.

I also take issue with the assertion that it is 'easy' to believe in God. We need only study the countless examples of men and women (C.S. Lewis is probably one of the most famous) who have struggled backward and forward with belief to see that this is not universally the case.

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You're taking this as if it's Earth, and we are in control of this gift. It's so easy to gain what's 100% it's pretty much impossible to get any less. This is the gift of Jesus - everyone now has access eternal heaven, not just the few privileged ones.
Could you possibly rephrase this sentence? 'It's so easy to gain what's 100% it's pretty much impossible to get any less.' I've read it every which way I can think of and it's not making any sense to me.

Also, I'm worried you may be misunderstanding: you originally stated that 'if one lets him carry out his actions through you, he will pay you back ten times as much as you lost, and ten times as much as you ever have earned.' I'll do a logical breakdown again:
1) If you are a good Christian, God will pay you back ten times as much as you ever lost, and ten times as much as you ever earned.
2) Some people lose more than others. Likewise, some people earn more than others.
3) Using the formula given in 1), we have 10 x overall loss and 10 x overall gain.
4) Imagine Adam, Betty and Chris. Adam loses his house, his job, his family and dies penniless. Betty, on the other hand, prospers - she becomes a CEO, then a mother, all the while living in absolute luxury. Chris lives a middle-of-the-road sort of life, neither losing nor gaining huge amounts.
5) For the sake of argument, we may quantify loss and gain. (We have to, anyway, to accept 1) as a valid premise.)
6) Say Adam's loss is -90 and his gain is +5. Betty's loss is -5 and her gain +90. Using God's formula, they both receive the same amount in Heaven (namely, +950) - so up to this point, the argument works.
7) But Chris comes along and throws a great big spanner in the works. Say his loss was -30 and his gain +30. His total is +600. This obviously comes nowhere near the relative luxury Adam and Betty are enjoying!
8) So... without completely breaking mathematics, it's impossible for everyone to be equal in the Kingdom of Heaven.

If you choose to break mathematics, you'll have to provide a substitute system - which, since maths is basically logic, will be rationally incoherent. If you choose to state that everyone is equal in the Kingdom of Heaven, you're contradicting your original statement.

--

You didn't answer my question: 'how could anyone possibly be happy in heaven knowing the overwhelming pain and suffering happening beneath them?'

OK, so I'm assuming you're a lovely person who feels empathy for others. My point is that unless that empathy is stripped out, you cannot be happy while imagining the infinite pain and suffering underneath you. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another - and imagining that infinite pain isn't going to be pleasant by definition (since pain is unpleasant). So we have ourselves another conundrum:

If you have the capacity for empathy, you can't be happy in Heaven. It follows that the version of you that eventually makes it there is missing some of its original parts - I would argue the parts that are vital to your sense of self. So whatever warped resultant entity is strolling around with the angels, it's not you. Not you as you could recognise yourself. That, to me, is a terrifying thought - and it's why Heaven holds no appeal for me. It isn't me who's going there, after all. Perhaps it looks like me - perhaps it sounds the same. But it is simply a bright machine.

Again, thanks for reading! To make it easier to continue the discussion, here's a list of points I'd like answered:
1) Isn't it hypocritical by definition to judge others for doing something you yourself engage in? Didn't you yourself define hypocrisy as a terrible sin?
2) Who is more moral, the man who blindly follows orders or the man who first examines them to see whether they are just and should be followed?
3) Do people deserve to be tortured just for failing to believe something utterly irrational (e.g. in Superman)?
4) Are you choosing to break mathematics or contradict your original statement with regard to relative rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven?
5) Given the following quotes:
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Wouldn't the mothers who'd lost their children want more than anything to be with them, even if the pain was unimaginable? Anything but sit helplessly on their cloud, knowing how much their baby boy or girl was hurting. That, to me, sounds like Hell.
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I wouldn't sympathize with them, because this is God's choice.
Do you claim to speak for everyone deserving of a place in Heaven?
6) How can the entity in Heaven be, in any meaningful sense, the same as the entity on Earth and thus provide some sort of consistency (which is required if salvation/punishment are to be justified) if it is missing vital parts of the original persona?

Once again, thank you for being so polite, and I eagerly await your response! :D
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