Disagreeing with old friends
#41
(05-13-2012, 03:32 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:
(05-13-2012, 02:56 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: Grasshopper, by attacking God's character and immutability, has placed himself entirely out of the fold of Christianity. There's really no faith left after that, I'm afraid.

It's not quite that simple. My purpose is not to attack God's character and immutability -- I'm just reporting what's in the Old Testament. According to the OT, God really did command the Israelites to commit genocide. If you don't believe me, read the book of Joshua (I think there is some of it in Numbers and Deuteronomy as well), and pay attention to the details. It's all there. He also commits genocide Himself (the Great Flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). You can argue that the adult populations in those cases were wicked enough to deserve it. Maybe so, but what about the children, babies, and animals? There are only two options: (1) God Himself does not live up to the morality He demands of us (He is certainly not "pro-life"); or (2) The Biblical accounts are not accurate. You can deny one or the other of those, but I don't see any way to deny both. If faith depends on denying both, then you're right -- there's no faith left for me.

I'm not talking about the "problem of evil" here. I can reconcile myself to the existence of evil (God's permissive will), but in the above examples, God does not just permit evil -- He commits it or commands it. That is a harder nut to crack. "There is no right or wrong without God" (James02) -- and yet the God Who is the supposed basis of our morality commanded His chosen people to kill babies. How do you justify that? I can't. Why should my behavior be any better than God's?

I'm perfecty aware of the OT accounts, all of which (despite of their different genres and human authors) are the inspired word of God. Remember that "all scripture, inspired of God," - Old and New Testament - "is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God Himself is the author and master of existence, not us. He has absolute rights over His creation, not us. He decides where, when and how we are born and die, not us. It seems to me that at the root of your incomprehension lies human pride. Not that you yourself are especially prideful, mind you, we all are, but that you're giving it too much credence. Do you think man is inherently good? It seems so given your rather emotional point about babies being victims of genocide. Do you think God must conform to our image, to our expectations and sense of justice? Humanity is a fallen and wicked race deserving of eternal punishment. Of course, God cannot be completely severed and unrelatable to our own human experience and intellect - hence, Christianity's insistence on the Logos - but we must keep in mind that He's unlike anything we can conceive. Furthermore, He is absolutely sovereign over that which He creates. The wars He sanctioned in order to bring about His divine plan with the Israelites are completely within what is just and reasonable since He, not us, has full rights over life and death. The same with the Flood or with a future annihilation of some part of mankind.

I know you're in the business of denying the accuracy of biblical texts, historical and otherwise, as evidently proved by your positions concerning Genesis and evolution, but here you're taking it one step further and basically engaging in a full rejection of the inspiration and credibility of the word of God. Are you a Marcionite? Any Christian will deny both points you raised - that God does not live up to morality and that the scriptures are not accurate - which means, I'm afraid, that there's nothing much left of your faith. I wish things were quite different, Grasshopper, as I obviously have no personal issues with you despite locking horns in a few threads here and there. I wish you the best and I hope you will reconsider.
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#42
(05-13-2012, 04:18 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: I know you're in the business of denying the accuracy of biblical texts, historical and otherwise, as evidently proved by your positions concerning Genesis and evolution, but here you're taking it one step further and basically engaging in a full rejection of the inspiration and credibility of the word of God. Are you a Marcionite? Any Christian will deny both points you raised - that God does not live up to morality and that the scriptures are not accurate - which means, I'm afraid, that there's nothing much left of your faith. I wish things were quite different, Grasshopper, as I obviously have no personal issues with you despite locking horns in a few threads here and there. I wish you the best and I hope you will reconsider.

Was Marcion the one who thought that the OT and NT Gods were different Gods? If so, no, I am not a Marcionite. Jesus clearly claimed to be one with the OT God. It's actually worse than that. I am very close to becoming an atheist again, or at best, a deist or pantheist. I am having a very hard time believing in the Biblical God -- or, if I do admit His existence, accepting Him as a Being worthy of worship. Since those opinions are contrary to what this forum is all about, and I can't really expand on them without violating forum rules, I will probably be leaving the forum for good in the very near future. No hard feelings toward you or James02 or anyone else, but I really don't belong here anymore.
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#43
(05-13-2012, 04:44 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:
(05-13-2012, 04:18 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: I know you're in the business of denying the accuracy of biblical texts, historical and otherwise, as evidently proved by your positions concerning Genesis and evolution, but here you're taking it one step further and basically engaging in a full rejection of the inspiration and credibility of the word of God. Are you a Marcionite? Any Christian will deny both points you raised - that God does not live up to morality and that the scriptures are not accurate - which means, I'm afraid, that there's nothing much left of your faith. I wish things were quite different, Grasshopper, as I obviously have no personal issues with you despite locking horns in a few threads here and there. I wish you the best and I hope you will reconsider.

Was Marcion the one who thought that the OT and NT Gods were different Gods? If so, no, I am not a Marcionite. Jesus clearly claimed to be one with the OT God. It's actually worse than that. I am very close to becoming an atheist again, or at best, a deist or pantheist. I am having a very hard time believing in the Biblical God -- or, if I do admit His existence, accepting Him as a Being worthy of worship. Since those opinions are contrary to what this forum is all about, and I can't really expand on them without violating forum rules, I will probably be leaving the forum for good in the very near future. No hard feelings toward you or James02 or anyone else, but I really don't belong here anymore.

I believe you shouldn't take any such decisions without much ponderation and care. Why not give the Biblical God a chance? Not just intellectually, but also in your own prayer life. There are certain things that perhaps oughtn't be discussed in the mainforum but can be discussed in the Cornfield. I would invite you to express your doubts and problems with certain points of revelation there. None of us here is an infallible oracle of truth but we work with what we've got. Intellectual honesty is something I appreciate: none of us should be afraid to ask questions. So, please, stay around but more importantly give Christ a chance.
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#44
Grasshopper, listen to Vetus. Be honest about your doubts and post them in the Cornfield.

As for the God of the OT, I just don't understand why some people see him the way they do. I read the same Bible and fall in love with God the Father. To me he is the most fair, merciful, long suffering Being and I love him so.. Jesus showed us the true face of the Father.
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#45
Good and evil do not exist without God.  Good is doing the Will of God.  Without God, there is no such thing as Good.

The Caananites worshipped the demon Moloch.
Quote: For those ancient inhabitants of thy holy land, whom thou didst abhor, [4] Because they did works hateful to thee by their sorceries, and wicked sacrifices, [5] And those merciless murderers of their own children, and eaters of men's bowels, and devourers of blood from the midst of thy consecration,

[6] And those parents sacrificing with their own hands helpless souls, it was thy will to destroy by the hands of our parents, [7] That the land which of all is most dear to thee might receive a worthy colony of the children of God. [8] Yet even those thou sparedst as men, and didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little. [9] Not that thou wast unable to bring the wicked under the just by war, or by cruel beasts, or with one rough word to destroy them at once: [10] But executing thy judgments by degrees thou gavest them place of repentance, not being ignorant that they were a wicked generation, and their malice natural, and that their thought could never be changed.

[11] For it was a cursed seed from the beginning: neither didst thou for fear of any one give pardon to their sins. [12] For who shall say to thee: What hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall come before thee to be a revenger of wicked men? or who shall accuse thee, if the nations perish, which thou hast made? [13] For there is no other God but thou, who hast care of all, that thou shouldst shew that thou dost not give judgment unjustly. [14] Neither shall king, nor tyrant in thy sight inquire about them whom thou hast destroyed. [15] For so much then as thou art just, thou orderest all things justly: thinking it not agreeable to thy power, to condemn him who deserveth not to be punished.

[16] For thy power is the beginning of justice: and because thou art Lord of all, thou makest thyself gracious to all. [17] For thou shewest thy power, when men will not believe thee to be absolute in power, and thou convincest the boldness of them that know thee not. [18] But thou being master of power, judgest with tranquillity; and with great favour disposest of us: for thy power is at hand when thou wilt. [19] But thou hast taught thy people by such works, that they must be just and humane, and hast made thy children to be of a good hope: because in judging thou givest place for repentance for sins. [20] For if thou didst punish the enemies of thy servants, and that deserved to die, with so great deliberation, giving them time and place whereby they might be changed from their wickedness:
  More than likely, the dead Caananite children went to Limbo.  If they had lived, they would have gone to hell.  Or maybe God had some other reason.  But God is the judge of all.  He is the measuring stick.  And "Good" by definition is His will.  And pagan Greeks discovered this. 

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#46
Perhaps I will start something in the Cornfield. Maybe I should have done that to begin with, rather than derailing JayneK's thread -- my apologies to her for that. The thing is, I have friends who are atheists (and I was one myself for many years), and they are good people -- they are no more or less moral than my Catholic friends. So to hear James02 claim, in effect, that atheists have no morals -- well, that set me off. It's an unfair claim. People are not evil or immoral just because they have different beliefs than we do. I probably could have made that point without mentioning the Old Testament, but what's done is done.

Thanks to Vetus and SCG for your understanding and suggestions, and again, my apologies to JayneK for derailing the thread.
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#47
(05-13-2012, 05:19 PM)Grasshopper Wrote: Perhaps I will start something in the Cornfield. Maybe I should have done that to begin with, rather than derailing JayneK's thread -- my apologies to her for that. The thing is, I have friends who are atheists (and I was one myself for many years), and they are good people -- they are no more or less moral than my Catholic friends. So to hear James02 claim, in effect, that atheists have no morals -- well, that set me off. It's an unfair claim. People are not evil or immoral just because they have different beliefs than we do. I probably could have made that point without mentioning the Old Testament, but what's done is done.

Thanks to Vetus and SCG for your understanding and suggestions, and again, my apologies to JayneK for derailing the thread.

I agree with you about atheists' ability to be decent moral people.  I was glad that you made that point.  And I was glad that you had an opportunity to write about what was bothering you and get some support from Vetus and SCG.  It was well worth having my thread derailed if it means that you end up staying and working through your questions.  So there is no need to apologize.
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#48
Quote: So to hear James02 claim, in effect, that atheists have no morals -- well, that set me off. It's an unfair claim.
  An atheist can irrationally choose to live by arbitrary morals.  No argument.  God is reachable by anyone, for the morals are written on the heart of the atheist.  But his morals are based on nothing (to him).  They are changeable.  An atheist Mexican drug dealer decides he wants to kill people so no one messes with his business.  He is more rational than an atheist who decides that killing is "wrong".
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#49
(05-13-2012, 05:37 PM)James02 Wrote:
Quote: So to hear James02 claim, in effect, that atheists have no morals -- well, that set me off. It's an unfair claim.
  An atheist can irrationally choose to live by arbitrary morals.  No argument.  God is reachable by anyone, for the morals are written on the heart of the atheist.  But his morals are based on nothing (to him).  They are changeable.  An atheist Mexican drug dealer decides he wants to kill people so no one messes with his business.  He is more rational than an atheist who decides that killing is "wrong".

Fair enough, from a dispassionate philosophical standpoint. But be aware that there are serious philosophers who challenge this view. See Kai Nielsen, Ethics Without God, which directly contradicts your thesis. Of course, he's an atheist, so take him with a grain of salt, but he also makes some serious arguments which need to be addressed in order to make the claim you're making. For the moment, I'm on his side. As I said earlier, Confucius and Buddha developed complex ethical systems that are basically similar to that of Christianity (and they did it centuries before Christ), and they didn't believe in anything like the Christian God. I doubt that they were familiar with the Jewish God either. Buddha, of course, was familiar with the Hindu gods, but what he ended up teaching was basically atheistic, unless I misunderstand Buddhism. I know there are former Buddhists on the forum, so they can correct me if I'm wrong.
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#50
(05-13-2012, 03:32 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:
(05-13-2012, 02:56 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: Grasshopper, by attacking God's character and immutability, has placed himself entirely out of the fold of Christianity. There's really no faith left after that, I'm afraid.

It's not quite that simple. My purpose is not to attack God's character and immutability -- I'm just reporting what's in the Old Testament. According to the OT, God really did command the Israelites to commit genocide. If you don't believe me, read the book of Joshua (I think there is some of it in Numbers and Deuteronomy as well), and pay attention to the details. It's all there. He also commits genocide Himself (the Great Flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). You can argue that the adult populations in those cases were wicked enough to deserve it. Maybe so, but what about the children, babies, and animals? There are only two options: (1) God Himself does not live up to the morality He demands of us (He is certainly not "pro-life"); or (2) The Biblical accounts are not accurate. You can deny one or the other of those, but I don't see any way to deny both. If faith depends on denying both, then you're right -- there's no faith left for me.

I'm not talking about the "problem of evil" here. I can reconcile myself to the existence of evil (God's permissive will), but in the above examples, God does not just permit evil -- He commits it or commands it. That is a harder nut to crack. "There is no right or wrong without God" (James02) -- and yet the God Who is the supposed basis of our morality commanded His chosen people to kill babies. How do you justify that? I can't. Why should my behavior be any better than God's?

I realize that quoting the Old Testmanet might not necessarily seem to be what you need right now, but give this a shot (Wisdom 12):

O how good and sweet is thy spirit, O Lord, in all things!
And therefore thou chastisest them that err, by little and little: and admonishest them, and speakest to them, concerning the things wherein they offend: that leaving their wickedness, they may believe in thee, O Lord.
For those ancient inhabitants of thy holy land, whom thou didst abhor,
Because they did works hateful to thee by their sorceries, and wicked sacrifices,
And those merciless murderers of their own children, and eaters of men's bowels, and devourers of blood from the midst of thy consecration,
And those parents sacrificing with their own hands helpless souls, it was thy will to destroy by the hands of our parents,
That the land which of all is most dear to thee might receive a worthy colony of the children of God.
Yet even those thou sparedst as men, and didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little.
Not that thou wast unable to bring the wicked under the just by war, or by cruel beasts, or with one rough word to destroy them at once:
But executing thy judgments by degrees thou gavest them place of repentance, not being ignorant that they were a wicked generation, and their malice natural, and that their thought could never be changed.
For it was a cursed seed from the beginning: neither didst thou for fear of any one give pardon to their sins.
For who shall say to thee: What hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall come before thee to be a revenger of wicked men? or who shall accuse thee, if the nations perish, which thou hast made?
For there is no other God but thou, who hast care of all, that thou shouldst shew that thou dost not give judgment unjustly.
Neither shall king, nor tyrant in thy sight inquire about them whom thou hast destroyed.
For so much then as thou art just, thou orderest all things justly: thinking it not agreeable to thy power, to condemn him who deserveth not to be punished.
For thy power is the beginning of justice: and because thou art Lord of all, thou makest thyself gracious to all.
For thou shewest thy power, when men will not believe thee to be absolute in power, and thou convincest the boldness of them that know thee not.
But thou being master of power, judgest with tranquillity; and with great favour disposest of us: for thy power is at hand when thou wilt.
But thou hast taught thy people by such works, that they must be just and humane, and hast made thy children to be of a good hope: because in judging thou givest place for repentance for sins.
For if thou didst punish the enemies of thy servants, and that deserved to die, with so great deliberation, giving them time and place whereby they might be changed from their wickedness:
With what circumspection hast thou judged thy own children, to whose parents thou hast sworn and made covenants of good promises?
Therefore whereas thou chastisest us, thou scourgest our enemies very many ways, to the end that when we judge we may think on thy goodness: and when we are judged, we may hope for thy mercy.
Wherefore thou hast also greatly tormented them who in their life have lived foolishly and unjustly, by the same things which they worshipped.
For they went astray for a long time in the ways of error, holding those things for gods which are the most worthless among beasts, living after the manner of children without understanding.
Therefore thou hast sent a judgment upon them as senseless children to mock them.
But they that were not amended by mockeries and reprehensions, experienced the worthy judgment of God.
For seeing with indignation that they suffered by those very things which they took for gods, when they were destroyed by the same, they acknowledged him the true God, whom in time past they denied that they knew: for which cause the end also of their condemnation came upon them.
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