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October 13th, 2012 (7:38 AM). Edited October 13th, 2012 by Barrels.
The Fresh Prince of Kanto
Three thousand miles from home
Ah, intelligent discussion! *rubs hands* I love it. Let’s go!
1) What is the hypocritical part? I don't understand what you're trying to say...
Well, stooping to the level of the sinner by hurting them makes God as bad, if not worse, than they are. To quote Amy Pond: ‘we have to be better than him, Doctor’.
2) I have never said to blindly follow orders. I have only said that faith is the one salvation. In fact, you should never blindly follow orders, because that clouds you from the truth. What if someone misguides you?
Precisely my point! What if the translators of the Bible screwed up? What if a particular word doesn’t mean what you think it means? Is your interpretation of the Bible at five years old the same as it is at fifty? What if God himself is malevolent? It’s hardly sensible to argue that ‘God is not malevolent because God says so.’
3) It's not the failure to believe - God will show Himself to you when it's time, in the right form. It's the pride that blinds you that is so wrong.
But it conflicts completely with rationality – and thus science – to stick to old beliefs when evidence proves you wrong. If God reveals himself to me, I’m not going to shut my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears! To quote Tim Minchin:
‘Science adjusts its beliefs based on what's observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.
If you show me
That, say, homeopathy works,
Then I will change my mind
I'll spin on a ****ing dime
I'll be embarrassed as hell,
But I will run through the streets yelling
It's a miracle! Take physics and bin it!’
4) I never contradicted myself - I merely said that it's up to Him, rather than you, or any worldly authority.
That’s not what I was arguing, though! It is absolutely up to God and not me to decide who gets what in his Kingdom. What I took issue with was the illogical assertion that everyone can be equal while some people have more than others! (I’ve just realised that this was the entire point of Animal Farm. Orwell sums it up far better than I ever could:
‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’)
5) I wouldn't feel for them, because they were stuck up in refusing God's gift for so long. He doesn't require anything from you, and he is in fact, actively giving you his gift. If you don't accept it, you don't deserve a place in heaven. I can't stress this point enough. All you need to be is to submit to him. Obtaining His gift is the easy path out (since he has taken your place and done the hard work), and yet it is the best path to take.
Stuck-up? Tragic, I’d say. And he does require things from me: my time every Sunday, my love, the way I choose to live my life. Having given me freedom, he should know that I may not want to hand it straight back in at the desk again.
…Also, you answered a different question! I do appreciate the time spent on the answer, but in essence all I wanted was a yes or no. Again, do you claim to speak for everyone deserving of a place in Heaven?
6) The person above me has answered that.
Nope, Shdwg answered number 1) – the one relating to hypocrisy. (No one’s actually yet tackled 6!) I’ll just quote it again, since I think you must have misread – if I’m wrong and the problem was that you didn’t understand my argument, just let me know and I’ll happily reword it!
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.
‘Saying "God is merciful" and then agreeing with the premise that he would not give you a chance to repent after death, instead judging you on your life regardless of your repentance after death is a massive contradiction.’
Far conciser than I managed.
I agree wholeheartedly with this statement: again, we have to bend the common definition of mercy so far it snaps.
‘Also, I understand that the thought of a loved one being in hell can certainly be scary and quite hurtful.’
Yes, scary. Yes, hurtful. Also absolutely, abhorrently wrong.
‘Justice seeks to reward the good and punish the wicked. The former is wicked while the latter is righteous.’
But this entirely conflicts with your statement: ‘God does not follow a different set of morals: morality is ultimate and does not change with time’. If there are universal moral concepts – i.e. shoving someone in an oven is wrong – it doesn’t matter who breaches them. If I push someone into my oven and turn the gas up all the way – and don’t repent – I’m going to Hell. If a demon then shoves me into his oven and turns the gas up even higher on God’s orders, that’s justice. Unfortunately, it’s also hypocrisy.
'coerced, compulsory love'
We're using the same example! Here's the key point, at least as I see it - the love IS forced, IS compulsory, because the alternative is eternal torture. That isn't a choice! That's not just a rock and a hard place but a cloud and a sulphur pit. As Shining Raichu said, who chooses Hell over God secure in the knowledge that both exist? Either someone severely mentally ill (who in any case is not responsible for their actions) or the most courageous and moral of all of us. Someone prepared to dispute the broken morality preached in the Bible. Someone who does not believe in torture under any circumstances… but I’ll get to that.
Bottom line: I would have absolutely no problem with a God who did not hurt those who do not 'love' him. But since he promises to do so… how is this Father any different to the domestic abuser who punches his children because they no longer worship the ground he walks on? How is that reconcilable with any definition of morality as we know it?
‘The laws in the Bible were created by him because he knows what is right because, as we mentioned before, he is the only all-powerful, omniscient being.’
This is circular - as you know, I think, but see no problem with. 'God knows what is right because he knows what is right (in other words, he's omniscient and knows everything).' And, I mean, that's fine - far be it from me to tell people what they can and can't believe. I certainly wouldn't torture those who hold a different worldview. But if you're prepared to accept circular logic – broken logic - I literally cannot argue with you because there's no hope of either of us being convinced. We're just spinning our wheels. It's exactly the same as me saying, 'a cat is a cat' and you saying 'a cat is a dog' and just having to agree to disagree because we don't share logic as a means to reaching a conclusion.
'He did die for you, after all.'
Mmm. Yeah. But he's not in eternal Hell, is he? God has never inflicted eternal punishment on himself (to the best of my knowledge – again, correct me if my scripture is rusty). If God just killed me outright, that would be far more merciful than continuing to roast me even after I am dead!
'Now, on God's righteousness and judgment. Consider a judge. What does a judge do? He punishes evil and rewards good. He wouldn't be a good judge if he didn't do that. Imagine further if a loved one of his was caught in the act of murder. The judge wouldn't want to send him to prison, but because justice and righteousness must be upheld, he must give him his sentence. It doesn't make the judge love his friend any less, but the judge understands what is right and knows he must carry out justice in the name of righteousness--even if it brings him much sorrow to do so.'
This is a wonderful example - thank you for introducing it. And I do agree that acting morally sometimes requires acting in the world's best interest rather than the interests of those you love.
But only to the most minimal extent possible. And this is where I cannot comprehend the Christian mindset. To extend your analogy, the judge sentences his child to prison. Prison. Not death. Certainly not everlasting torment. To do so would be ridiculously disproportionate and unfair – it would be unjust. To make the argument that failing to believe in something for which there is no reasonable basis – i.e. Superman – deserves eternal torture directly and absolutely conflicts with morality as I see it. Although your point is relevant and well-made, to me, it still doesn’t answer the question.
…Perhaps rather than continuing to miss one another, we should agree to stand by certain statements. (If I am unintentionally straw-manning, please do correct me!)
1) I believe that no crime is so great as to deserve everlasting torture. This is because I believe in fairness, in justice – I believe that no crime deserves disproportionate retribution. (Or indeed proportionate – Christians no longer believe in ‘an eye for an eye’, am I correct? We have to be better than the sinners. We can’t sin alongside them by punishing them. If murder is wrong, murdering the murderer – whether you’re God or human - is just as wrong. One follows from the other entirely logically.) Thus Hell is unjust.
2) You believe that failing to believe in God deserves everlasting torture. Thus Hell is just.
If we agree to stand by these statements, it’s self-evident that our definitions of morality miss each other completely. Thus it’s futile to argue over who is right – because we don’t agree what ‘right’ even is!
‘As a Christian I do hope that he isn't.’
But but but that’s contradictory! You’ve spent the last few replies stringently denying that you’d feel empathy for those in Hell: ‘I would not sympathize with them, as this is God's choice.’ You can’t hope he’s not in Hell without sympathising with his predicament if he is. Wouldn’t a true Christian say that ‘if he sinned and never repented, I hope he is in Hell – because I support God’s decision’?
‘And on that note, is it not possible that God is testing you on this point? Would he want you to feel empathy regardless of his actions and be displeased that you don't?’
Absolutely. I’ve refrained from explicitly making this argument so far just because it’s so divisive, but I believe that the most moral man of all is the one who looks at God’s ‘justice’ and finds it abhorrent. And thus faces Hell, not because he is unafraid or arrogant, but because he will do what he believes to be right at all costs. A truly moral God, who only wrote the Bible as a test, would thus let him into Heaven!
‘He wants to come into your life and be, not only your God, but your friend.’
him in my life. I don’t want a friend who threatens me. I don’t want to have to sit by as my children burn, screaming, in Hell on his orders and pretend I’m okay about that. Friendship is reciprocal - and I sure wouldn't throw his kids into a furnace! I couldn’t live with myself if I did. I wouldn’t
myself if I did (see 6).
‘The truth is that none of us, Christian or non-Christian, deserves a place in heaven.’
So why create us in the first place, if we’re all so pathetic? Why create a species you’re going to condemn to eternal torture if they stick to their factory-default setting? Isn’t that horribly cruel?
‘Christians aren't any better than non-Christians. I want to make that point clear.’
You have, and I thank you for doing so. Too often discussions are derailed by claims of superiority. (But if no one's better than anyone else, why do you go to Heaven and we go to Hell? Surely accepting God is a virtue in itself - and that'd throw the scales way out of order.)
‘Science actually proves the existence of the living God. Romans 1:20 states "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." Think about the fact that the earth is just the right position away from the sun. If it were only a few centimeters closer to the sun, the atmosphere on earth would be too hot for life to exist. If it were any farther away from the sun, it would be too cold. Consider the miracle of the human eye! The complexity of how this body part works is beyond us! We can't imitate the way the eye focuses light, not even with the most complicated cameras and other technology that we have today. Think about just how stable the electrons and protons within an atom are!’
is not science
. Here: ‘intelligent design has been widely criticised for its failure to state what mechanism drives it, its lack of falsifiability, and many other problems that leave it lacking as a scientific theory’ [source:
]. Under the current definition of science, it’s not even a theory! It can’t be proved or disproved.
‘We can't imitate the way the eye focuses light, not even with the most complicated cameras and other technology that we have today.’
And in ten million years? Say we all have far superior cybernetic implants. Does the argument then collapse?
'Consider the miracle of the human eye!'
OK. Assume you're right and it is a miracle. How on earth does this prove that it was performed by the Christian God? 'Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel--fallen or not; Plato's demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being' - Michael Behe.
‘Think about the fact that the earth is just the right position away from the sun. If it were only a few centimeters closer to the sun, the atmosphere on earth would be too hot for life to exist. If it were any farther away from the sun, it would be too cold.’
Yes! Yes, it is
unlikely. Incredibly unlikely. I wholeheartedly agree with you! But the solution to the problem of complexity is most definitely
to posit a creator who would
have to be
even more complex!
If your argument is, ‘the eye is far too complex to be anything but an intelligent creation,’ the exact same logic applies in the next step! God is way more complex than the eye, right? So: ‘God is far too complex to be anything but an intelligent creation.’ By your own chain of logic, God
was created by an intelligent designer!
‘Oh, how easy it would be for God to simply end it all with the snap of a finger; how easy it would be for him to say the word and cause all atoms on earth to lose that stability, or cause earth to shift in the direction of the sun, or simply crush all under his heel! After all, we did spit in his face with our sins. Why shouldn't he destroy all of man kind? Can't he simply start over? But no. He doesn't do that. Regardless of how people over the years have disregarded and rejected God, he doesn't do it. Now do you understand the magnitude of his patience?’
No! Because the fact that someone ignores and rejects you does not mean you are justified in murdering them! Worse, torture them for all eternity! If we want freedom, we have to accept that others are entitled to it too. So while it may not be, for example, very pleasant to be ignored and rejected, that is someone’s free decision and to condemn it takes away your own right to ignore and reject people. God is hypocritical in this respect! He rejects people straight into Hell for the sin of rejecting him. ‘The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform’ – this is the definition of hypocrisy!
'Can't he simply start over?'
No, because that implies that he made a mistake to begin with. And he's perfect, so he couldn't have done.
‘Now let me ask you, now: what's keeping you from accepting his sacrifice today?’
The fact that it would be a betrayal of everything I believe in. Of everything I love – my family, my friends, the decent people all over the world I will never meet. I cannot and will not accept that these people deserve to be burned alive for all eternity for not believing in God. I will not sit quietly in Heaven as they scream below me. This is my moral stand.
…Whoo. Okay. Deep breaths.
Again, sincerely, thank you for replying and arguing so politely. And please don’t take this as a personal attack – believe it or not, I’m really enjoying this discussion and would like nothing better than for it to continue! (I’m especially interested in your perspective on the sixth point I put to droomph – ‘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?’)
EDIT: Reading this back, I feel I ought to make one thing clear - I'm really not trying to hold myself up as this supremely moral entity who's courageous enough to face Hell for my beliefs. I mean, I don't actually believe in God, so any moral stand I take is hypothetical at best - it's all 'what would I do if I was certain that God, Heaven and Hell existed', you know? Drop me in front of an eternity of flames and torture and who
how I'll react. Perhaps I'll sacrifice my integrity to get into Heaven. If I'm being brutally honest with myself, I don't think I'm anywhere near brave enough to face punishment like that. I'm no Gandhi, no Luther King. (Obviously.)
The key point here is that it wouldn't be
of me to repent in that scenario - I'd be abandoning my morality. And that's the problem. To me, it doesn't matter that I couldn't lead by example. The fact that I, personally, don't have the courage to face down Hell doesn't make Hell itself any less wrong.
Joined Feb 2012
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