God

An Essay By luke // 3/24/2008

Socretes once asked "Are the gods good because they are gods? Or, are the gods good because they are good?"

If you then take that question and apply to any Omniscient, Omnipotent... "God", you get quite an interesting topic for discussion.

Is what god says good because he is god? or is what god says good because he is good? If you take the first question, if what god says is good because he is god, then he can therefore change his mind, he could turn around and say "thou shalt murder thy mother and thy father" but is that good? Well it must be if god says it is.

If you then take the second half of the question... If what god says is good because he is good, well that therefore implies that there is a goodness beyond which even god must comply to. Which then questions his omniscience and omnipotentence.

And then this leads onto my next point. John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton said "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Does God not have absolute power, being most divine and all powerful? So therefore God must be absolutely corrupt. And yes I take into account that Corruption is a human trait, but were we not made in the image of god? Therefore human traits must have their origin in God? And then we can look at the evidence around us... Somehow I get the feeling that corruption lies all around.

(I would like to disclose now that I am not in anyway trying to impose my views on anyone and that I believe we are all free to have our own views. I would also like to add that I am not in anyway anti-christian or anti-religion. I am just throwing about a few thoughts I have had recently (Plus I was raised a Christian so I have my fair share of knowledge on the subject). Thanks again)

Comments

Questions....

So are you saying that you are no longer a Christian? And, if what God says is good because he is good, why would that imply that there is a goodness beyond God?
And human faults are a result of the Fall. Even though He created us in His image, we fall short of the glory of God, which leads to the conclusion that God is perfect and we aren't. Basically, we sin, so yes corruption is a human fault but no God isn't corrupt. The evidence around us shows that we are in a fallen world. God did not create the world to be this way, but He did create us with choice, which means the corruption lies only with us because we chose to be corrupted and chose to make this world corrupted.
I'm not slamming you, I'm just questioning and commenting because I've been trained to do so. I'm also genuinely curious to know how you came to these conclusions.

Heather | Tue, 03/25/2008

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Hi Heather, firstly thanks

Hi Heather,
firstly thanks for commenting... my ideas are always about inspiring discussion. I want people to come and tell me I'm wrong because it's healthy.

Secondly, Yes I am no longer affiliated with Christianity, or any religion to be exact. You say the world is as it is now because of the fall, but I cannot believe that God, or any God(dess), would stand by and watch it become what it has. Thousands of innocent people are brutally murdered, slaughter, raped, abused etc every single day. You say that it is by our choice the world is this way, I ask you then, do you believe the 15year old girl who gets raped repeatedly by her own father everyday and is beaten by her mother because of it chose that? I would have to answer no, and if God is good, he too would answer no and prevent it from happening. (Again I would like to enforce the fact that I am against imposing my own beliefs on others, I just like to inspire discussion).

Finally, Where do I get these conclusions? Well the answer to that will be the same as the answer to where you get your comments from I suppose. I think them, they develop in my mind. I then discuss them with friends, fellow students and even my lecturers. I am blessed with having an incredible Philosophy Lecturer who inspires individual thought and presents us with fresh ideas constantly. (May I advise, without any insult intended, that you perhaps pick up the odd philosophy book, attend the odd conference or lecture on any of the many areas of Philosphy?)

I look forward to your reply,

Luke

luke | Tue, 03/25/2008

crying

One question:

If God didn't care
then why would he have sent Jesus?

If God didn't care
then it was all a mistake, all chance, all lies.

If God didn't care
then everything is pointless and we should all commit suicide.

But God DOES care and he DID send Jesus and HE LOVES SINNERS. We are fallen. We don't deserve that God cares. But he does.

I don't know what else to say. I'm not trying to force beliefs on you, either. But I'm crying for you, and for the rest of this fallen world...

Anna | Tue, 03/25/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Luke, I, like you, have a

Luke,

I, like you, have a great interest in philosophy. I am also a college student (at Kings Point), and have many friends with different viewpoints, including atheism, agnosticism, Mormonism, and liberal Catholicism, to name a few. Needless to say, we have had many interesting exchanges of ideas.

But something that you need to realize about philosophy is that it is extremely limited in its scope. Consider, for example, the fact that before the beginning of modern medicine, most medical practices were based on philosophy, and didn’t work. The field of medicine did not really expand until it was touched by science and logic, which deal chiefly in facts and truths. More than that, most of the ideas of the great philosophers contradict each other – philosophy is a very useful medium for thought and the organization of ideas, but not too much more beyond that.

Of course, even after saying that, I do enjoy a good philosophical conversation, so keep writing. And if you are ever interested in the philosophical side of belief in a God, I would recommend the book Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis.

Ezra | Tue, 03/25/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

Hi Ezra, I will get a copy

Hi Ezra,

I will get a copy of Mere Christianity from a friend of mine who has it. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Thank you for bringing science and logic into the discussion! As I said in my bio, I'm actually doing a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Pyschology, two subjects in which philosophy isn't a major part.

Philosphy isn't a major part of my studies, but it is a major part of my social life. I would just like repute a comment you made about philosphy being limited in it's scope. Philosphopy covers so many areas and so many things, many of which are based on fact and science, many of which are just the random ramblings of an old man. An interesting read is a book called "This Is Not A Book" by Michael Picard. It is an almost pocket guide to "Adventures in Popular Philosophy."

I will be posting up some thoughts on Plato's "Theory Of Thoughts" shortly... a subject I'm sure will spark many more comments.

Luke

luke | Tue, 03/25/2008

Well Thank you Anna, It's

Well Thank you Anna, It's good to know that you are crying for us all (I mean that in a non-sarcastic manner).
The world most definately needs people who care!

I personally do as much as I can, emotionally and physically to help. In my previous bio you will have read that I've spent time working in the foothills of the Himalayas doing relief work for Oxfam and RUCHI (Rural Centre for Human Interests) in India. I work with autistic children and the elderly and dedicate some of my time volunteering at a local veterinary practice in the hospital area.

I like the way you refer to God constantly, I'm very certain that a vast majority of the world would dispute what you say. May I ask a question, Have you tried every religion in the world? I'm most certaint he answer to that is no, so therefore how can you tell me that Christianity is right and everythig else is wrong?

And yes my thoughts may have no physical evidence, but there is also no physical evidence for what you say. I find it hard to believe that God, who is just and good and forgiving would so lightly let us "FALL" as you say. You say he loves SINNERS? So God loves the rapist I talked about? And he can forgive that, and yet he couldn't forgive Eve for biting the apple when tempted by the devil? When gods own son was almost tempted by the devil, and many important figures are indeed tempted by the devil throughout the Bible?

I look forward, with much anticipation, to your reply.

Luke

luke | Tue, 03/25/2008

You are right

Philosophy has contributed much in some areas. Einstein’s theory, for example, began in philosophy rather than experimentation. However, I was not refering to the scope of the subjects and professions which it touches (which are many), but rather the ability it has to actually advance knowledge or create usable information. Even Einstine’s theory is now being called into question by new evidence.

“This is Not a Book” … hmm. I hope it’s a small not-a-book (kidding).

But I am looking forward to that "Theory of Thoughts" post. I am a Systems Engineering Nuclear major, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any Plato.

Ezra | Tue, 03/25/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

just wanted to say...

Luke,

I know Anna is supposed to reply to you, but I just wanted to answer some of the statements you made…

First off, Christianity is right because JESUS Himself, GOD Himself made man, founded it. And since God is all good and whatever He does is right, then obviously Christianity is the way to go. I’m not saying I have no disrespect for other religions; in fact, I have much respect for people who are trying to find God, in their own way. But I often find that people in other religions are dissatisfied with their beliefs, and are always searching for something…for what? For the TRUTH, which is Christianity.

Secondly, God did not “let us fall”; He gave us a CHOICE: good or evil. He does not FORCE us to be good; He lets us have our own free will. Does your mother force you to do the good that you do? Or your father? Of course not!! They give you a CHOICE, they let you choose to do the good that you do; they lay it before you. So also God. Yet we, in our human weakness, chose sin above good, bad above good. And yes, God DOES love the rapist; GOD LOVES EVERYBODY!! And He DID forgive Eve for biting the apple; because He forgave her (and Adam), He promised to send His own SON to save us, by going through horrible torture and dying for us! Our Redeemer. If He didn’t forgive Adam and Eve, why would He send Jesus to save us from sin??? It is because He forgave and loved them; that’s why He sent His beloved Son. Like I said, God loves everybody. Take, for example, the woman in the New Testament who committed adultery. In the A.D. days, this crime was a horrible one, one that caused the person who committed it to be stoned. Yet what did Jesus do? He FORGAVE the woman, because He loved her. Another example: Simon Peter. Peter denied Jesus THREE times! How would you feel in that situation: if one of your dearest friends, in YOUR time of need, denied that he (or she) knew you…3 times. How would you feel? Would you forgive your friend? Well, Jesus did, because He loved Peter!! Take also the thief on the cross. He probably wasn’t just a thief; he was probably a murderer, too! Yet what did Jesus do? He FORGAVE him, and that thief was the first soul to enter Paradise after Jesus’ Passion. So God loves everybody, all sinners included! He loves the rapist, the murderer, the thief, just as much as you and me! There is absolutely NO sin that God CAN’T forgive, not one, and NO sinner that God CAN’T forgive, not one.

By the way, just wanted to say that I really respect all the good you’re doing. So many times mentally disabled kids (and adults) are tossed away like trash in this society and treated merely as a "thing". And also I hope you don’t think I’m trying to FORCE you to do anything…I just want to set before you what I believe and know is the truth.

Clare Marie | Tue, 03/25/2008

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"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

a minor disagreement

As a psychologist, I would just like to point out that it does, in fact, have it's roots firmly set in philosophy. It's one of those nice disciplines who encourage both scientific methodology and theoretical/philosophical underpinnings. It 'tis why I have a "doctor of philosophy" after all ;).

I absolutely agree that philosophy covers a wide array of subjects/areas/sciences...

Christa | Tue, 03/25/2008

Good points...

You make some very good points, Luke. But with the 15 year old girl story you illustrate with, it's not her choice, it's her parents' choices. Even if we are "good" bad things will happen to us because we live in a fallen world. But everyone sins (even if it's "little") so eventually we are contributing to the world's general condition.
God mourns each poor choice each individual makes, but because He is a loving God who allows us free choice, He choses not to intervene. God wants people who follow Him because they love Him, not people who cower in fear of Him (though any person realizing His awesome power would do well to both fear and love Him). God does not make bad things happen to people, Satan and his demons do, but God allows bad things to happen because He hopes that it will draw us nearer and nearer to Him.
And I noticed that you asked someone if they'd tried every world religion, and so how do we know that Christianity is the right one? Well, I've studied some of the major world religions (Buddhism, Islam, the New Age movement) and have been taught how to poke holes in them, pointing the only way out, which is Christianity as it is written in the Bible.
As for philosophy, well, I'm not an intellectual thinker, as much as I like to get into discussions like this. I also don't see much point in studying the words of some long-dead Greek who thinks he could prove that the world was made of Four elements. In any case, it also doesn't spark my interest, though my dad did take a philosophy class in college and has discussed a couple of ideas with me.
This may kind of a shocker, and it may seem strange, but I'd like to ask you something: If you were to die tonight, where would you go? What would happen?
And I too look forward to your reply.
Heather

Heather | Tue, 03/25/2008

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Hi Heather! I'd just like to

Hi Heather!

I'd just like to point out that Philosphy isn't just about some ancient dead greek guys... It expands the centuries, even now we have philosophers.

I'm going to be incredibly hypocritical right now and say that to study a religion isn't the same as being part of that religion, or that faith, or that belief. Again, a member of the Jewish faith could find holes to poke in Christianity, or a member of any faith can, and more importantly WILL always find holes to poke. I do my best not to poke, though sometimes it seems like I am. I'm not against Christianity, or against Buddhism or against Judiasm. I actually love the fact that we have them, I find it amazing that (on the whole) so many cultures, religious beliefs and backgrounds can live together in an almost state of harmony. I live in New Zealand now, a country notorious for being Multi-Cultural, and I was also the Vice-President of my high school Intercultural Club, so I find it very hard to trust in just one way of thinking. I like to think of myself as broadminded.

Now the fun part! Your Question. I have to admit it was abit of a shocker, and one first glance I had a million answers, but as I've been writing this comment it has narrowed down to one.

If I died tonight, where would I go? Well, I would definately not get into heaven nor hell. I believe that I would just cease to be. My soul would no longer exist and my body would eventually decay or be burnt away. But if I died tonight, then there would be no more me tomorrow, not anywhere, not in heaven, not in nirvana, not floating as a spectre of ghost, just nothing.
What would happen? I like to hope that I will be missed and that people will grieve initially. But after a time I would like to hope that people move on. It would be great to think that I have inspired people enough for my memory to be kept on for a few decades, but eventually, as I said, I will be forgotten and I will have ceased to exist.

Please do not feel sorry for me, Though it might sound morbid and depressing, I actually see this as a happy ending. I would like nothing more after my life than to no longer be, for if I die tonight, then I have definately lived a life worth living! I have had my share of bad experiences, even at 18years old, but they just make the good times so much more magical. I've fallen in love, fallen out of love and fallen in love again! How many 18year olds, infact how many people ever, can say that they have done that? And if I continue to live my life beyond tonight, well then I like to hope I will lead a life of love, joy, giving and peace and will eventually pass happily.

Thank you so much for asking that question! I haven't been confronted with a question with such personal reflection as that in my conversations lately.

I would like to end by asking you the same question. If you died tonight, where would you go? and what would happen?

Thanks again,
Luke

luke | Tue, 03/25/2008

That's an interesting

That's an interesting answer...that you'd cease to be. How can you cease to be?
And (this may seem kinda strange too) but what do you mean by "Christian"?
And since you're not affiliated with any religion, what would you call yourself?
I'm sorry for all the questions, I'm naturally a curious person. I've never actually talked to anyone who believes as you do.
Now to answer your questions....
If I died tonight, I firmly believe that I would be taken into heaven, I believe that God loved me so much that He sent His Son to die a horrible death for me, and I believe that Jesus Christ loved me enough hat He was willing to take the burden of my sin which I hadn't yet committed and die a horrible death for me, therefore assuring me a place in heaven as a child and heir of God.
As for what would happen, as I entered heaven I would be given a new, perfect body, and would forever join my brothers and sisters in the faith in worshiping our Lord and Savior. That's in heaven, on earth I would hope that I am remembered kindly by my friends, but that they wouldn't fall apart because I died. Basically, the same answer as you.
As for the "fallen in love, fallen out, fallen in again" thing, not many people could attest to having truly done such a thing. I find it interesting because to me that sounds like both times it was "true love" (for lack of a better wording) and yet, how can you fall out of true love? This is kinda a digression, yes, but an interesting point to me, for so far what you call falling in love sounds like what I've done, only I call them crushes. With those, I've had my fair share, mainly because there are a lot of awesome guys I hang out with. Everyone does...but here's a thought to ponder. After my sixteenth birthday my dad gave me a covenant ring, which I wear on my left ring finger. It looks like an engagement ring. People always look at me funny when I say, "Yeah, it's from my dad" but, it serves a pure purpose in that it reminds me for right now, my heart belongs to God and my daddy only, and until Dad takes the ring off my finger and lets a young man slide his ring on my finger and promise to love me forever, I am to keep myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually pure for my future husband.
Anyway, interesting digression, but lets don't let it really distract from the real discussion!
Another one of my questions is that, since there's so many religions out there, wouldn't you expect one to get it right? Because surely not all of them can get it right, when you have so many broad ideas, ranging from heaven to extinction to nirvana.

Heather | Wed, 03/26/2008

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Well... I do call them true

Well... I do call them true love. And to tell the truth, I never actually fell out of love. There was this girl, Holly, whom I had a major crush on for years, and we eventually started dating. We were together for almost 5years. On my 16th birthday she proposed to me, and I said yes. (I too know the feeling of having a ring on the engagement finger). We weren't planning on marraige anytime soon, it was just a sign our unconditional love for each other. She was my fiancé for two months. Exactly two months after my 16th birthday my parents turned around and told me we were moving to New Zealand... in four days. I dont have to say how heart broken I was. I had a choice to stay behind and finish the school year, or pick-up and leave on the fourth day. I decided on leaving, though I vowed to return for Holly one day (Cliche I know, but cliche seems to happen to me ALOT). A year after I had left, I heard from some friends that Holly had been pregnant and had had a child, a baby boy named Daryll. Well as you can tell, I was once again heart broken, I still held Holly as the love of my life! And she had broken that trust, she had had a child with someone she didn't know, and is now a single, teenage mother, 18 years of age with a one year old son.
After that happened, I sealed my heart. I still believed in love, but I avoided it. I had relationships yeah, but they didn't work. And then I moved to Christchurch, and everything I was used to had been turned upside down, I'm suddenly living alone, I'm fending for myself... and I fell in love again. I met this girl, an amazing person. She's unlike anyone I've ever met. I still think of Holly, daily, but since I met Katrina, my thoughts are less of Holly and more of Katrina. I've known her for about seven weeks, not very long at all, and yet I know I'm in love, because within less than a week, Katrina, unknowingly, had destroyed all my barriers. She knows I like her, but not that I love her. It's complicated though, she has a boyfriend and there is this other guy who likes her and I dont want to compete. Another reason I know I'm in love, I'm willing to sacrifice what I feel for this amazing, beautiful person. I dont want her to break up with her boyfriend, or have to decide over which guy she should pick... I want her to follow her heart, and if her heart doesn't lead to mine then I will still be happy.
Ohh man... I went on abit there!!!!
I want to now talk about you and your ring. I think it is amazing that you have such strong beliefs and such a powerful love in your faith and in god. The world needs to have faith... i truely believe that, I'm on a passage, a journey even to find where my faith lies. I can tell you now though, I believe in people! I believe in the good that people have inside them (be it a universal good which or there own simple, view on what good is (from our other discussion)). I would love to see a world where everybody had such strong beliefs as you! Because that would be a world worth living in. If my path one day leads me back to God, then I will welcome that path with joy and wonder, and the same to wherever my path will take me...
I also want to add that I am glad to hear that you will find your place in heaven, as I have stated before, I was raised a Christian and I know the value that heaven is. When I comment Christianity, I am not some cynic disputing what I dont know. My entire family is incredibly religious, and very firm in their beliefs, so you can tell I have these discussion, and much more heated ones with them alot. It is incredibly healthy to promote discussion, and I have found it very useful, infact more useful, when people tear my beliefs to shreads, and find all my flaws, and the flaws in my beliefs, because it reminds me that I am human, and that we all have different opinions, and it also gives me the oppurtunity to defend my beliefs which makes me have such a strong faith and trust in them.

(I can honestly say I was not expecting such feedback, from anyone really.)

Thanks again!

Luke

luke | Wed, 03/26/2008

Wow!

Whoa, that WAS a lot! :) Well, that's a really different story of love then what I'm used to...
But I'm going to be dogmatic and say you still didn't really answer my questions at the top of the comment.
You seem to have kept the wonder of a child (I mean that in a good way) though you seem a bit fatalistic too. To me it isn't easy to understand why someone would turn away from his childhood faith. I've been a born-again Christian ever since I was eight and though it's been a long struggle, I've been growing in my faith. Actually to be frank, I think it's sad that you left Christianity and your family's beliefs (though I'm sure they still love you, so be sure not to block their love from you!)
I also find it interesting that you believe in people and (to summarize) in the inherent good in people. Am I right? And my follow-up is this: If people are inherently good, let's make the basic assumption that we are born with goodness and become worse because of our interactions with daily society. OK, so if we are born with this goodness and become worse through interaction with society, then why is it that children have to be taught how to behave, how not to lie and everything?
Or am I assuming too much there?
And I'll say I wasn't expecting you to answer this much. People who have differing beliefs than me tend to shut me out and ignore me.

Heather | Wed, 03/26/2008

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Answers from Stephanie

Your questions are good ones and I will gladly answer them for you. They are difficult questions if you don't know the God that you are talking about, but I know Him very closely and I would love to share a little bit of who He is with you.
First of all Socretes' question about the gods can't really be applied to God. When we look back at the gods of any ancient culture we see that there were good ones and evil ones, and they were good or evil based on what they did not because they were gods. Mythology is full of gods who raped women, and such, but since some did would that have meant that rape was then good. Of course not. I've taken a college class in mythology, and can confidently say that gods are only good because they do good things, not just because they are gods and get to decide what is good.
Now in the case of the omniscient, and omnipotent God that you are questioning, I can give you a good answer to your question.
Actually the first part of your statement against God doesn't have a strong logic foundation. You give no reason why God can change his mind about what is good because He is God. Logic doesn't follow the conclusion. Anyway for the question itself. God is goodness. You said that you were raised in a Christian home so I am assuming you know all the stories, so I'm not going to go in depth into them, but God is the Creator. He is where everything came from, and therefore He is where goodness came from. What He says is good, or right, for both reasons because He is God, but also because He is good.
Also, God cannot change...the Bible says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn't change from what He says, so you can rest assure knowing that it will never be okay to kill your mother or father=)
The second half of this question states that there is some goodness beyond God to which God must comply, and that therefore invalidates His omnipotence and such, but like I said before God is goodness, and all goodness comes from Him. God does have to comply to His own goodness though, but only because He can't go against His own character or He would no longer be God.
Now about the power and corruption bit, this only applies to the human nature which is a sin nature. God is not corruptible because there is no sin in Him that would cause corruption, plus, again God cannot change. And yes man was made in God's image, but when man sinned in the Garden he fell from the perfect state that God made him in, that state being God's perfect image. Man is still an image of God, but sadly a corrupted image. And yes looking at the world today we can see that corruption is all around, but that is because this is a fallen world. Man's sin brought corruption into the beautiful world that God created for man, but there is reason to rejoice because God is omniscient. He knew what was going to happen before it did and laid out a beautiful plan of redemption before the plan was even needed. God in His goodness made a way for mankind to be saved from the corruption that they fell into.
I hope that answers your questions well enough. If not let me know. Sorry it is so long of a comment, but I have a lot to say on subjects such as these. If you've got anymore questions I'd love to hear them.

Anonymous | Wed, 03/26/2008

I'm only twelve, so I know I

I'm only twelve, so I know I dont' know everything, and I don't have an answer for everything you say. Christianity is based on faith, not facts.

I know this sounds silly and naive, but I can say that following Christ is right and all other ways are wrong because HE SAID SO. This may not be a good enough answer for you. But it's the truth. Everything in Creation is a testimony to it.

He did not lightly let us fall. He gave Adam and Eve just one rule, and they broke it.
God IS loving and forgiving, but he is just and righteous and holy. He can't let sin go unpunished.
But he still loves us.
Say someone committed a crime against you, and went to court for it. But suppose the judge said, "Oh, well, I think I'll just let you go free because I love you." That wouldn't be just. It wouldn't be fair.
We committed a crime against God, and he can't just let us go free without payment. It wouldn't be just.
But Jesus was that payment.

Temptation is a trial to strengthen us. God does not lead us into sin.
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one." (James 1:13)
Temptation is not a sin. Gving in to temptation is. And unless you want something, it's difficult to be tempted by it.

And I know this doesn't sound fair at all, but God does love the man you talked about. And he can forgive that man. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, caps on everyone added.)

Anna | Wed, 03/26/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Just a Few Points

Now I don't want to put words in Luke's mouth here, but it seems to me that his posting ws not an attack on the judeo-christian god, or Yaweh, it's more like a comment on omnipotent, omniscient beings in general. So, the invoking of biblical quotes in this discussion is really quite beside the point. These statment show the seeming paradox created by a being who is both all-knowing and capable of anything, so while Yaweh is in this category, he is not alone. If Luke wished to attack your christian beliefs I'm sure he could have done so, but he only posed a few paradoxes which could be aimed at Allah, Zeus, Krishna or any of the whole pantheon of Gods and Godesses in world relgions.
Right to the first refutation, "You give no reason why God can change his mind about what is good because He is God." says Stephanie, the reason is a god, any god, is omnipotent he can do anything, therefore he can change his mind, but if he knows everything then there is no possible way he can. To use an example, say you knew everything about someone, what they are doing, what they have done, what they are going to do, every thought they have ever had,etc.. This would make your opinion of them objective, you couldn't possiby change your mind about them, because you can only change your mind on recieving new knowledge about them, but there is none to be had. This is what god is like but for everyone and everything, now god can't change his mind it's a logical impossiblity, BUT god can do anything, therefore we have logically proved that a being, anybeing cannot be by definition omnipotent and omniscient.
Second refutation, "God is goodness, and all goodness comes from Him.", Stephanie, i believe you misunderstood the question, so let me try and rephrase it. Does god saying something make it the right thing to do, so has he by saything "thou shalt not kill" etc. made it a sin by he word, or before he ever said it was it a sin. NOw if murder was a sin by his word, then that makes whatever any god instructs, even if it goes against conventional morality, good or bad. Now if god is not deciding what is good and bad, and simply telling us because it is objectively a sin or not, then there must be some degree of goodness that extends above and beyond even god.

Alex (not verified) | Wed, 03/26/2008

Stephanie commenting on Alex's comment

I too didn't feel that Luke was attacking my God, but he did ask a question that I wanted to answer and that was all I was doing.
I'd also like to say that it is not besides that point to bring up biblical principles when talking about omniscient, or omnipotent beings because even you would say that God is included in this list, and the Bible is all about God, and since I was focusing on God it's natural that I would use His book.
Anyways
So you are saying that since God supposedly knows all things then He can't change His mind about things, and that "can't" would then cause Him to no longer be omnipotent, yet He still would be omniscient because it's the omniscients that invalidates Him from being omnipotent. Ok, so God does know all things. (Here I would like to say that not all gods know everything. Read some ancient literature and you will see all the dumb mistakes gods have made that they would not have made if they had known everything.)
As for God's omnipotence, I believe I stated my point poorly about God being able to change His mind because I was actually just talking about how the person of God cannot change, and that He has an eternal plan that also cannot change. A really cool thing about God though is that He allows His children to influence His actions, but because He is all knowing, He already knows that He would change His mind–one of the whole points of prayer is to touch the heart of God, and in a way influence how and when He does things. (warning: I'm gonna use the Bible again) Take the story of Israel for example. When they were in the wilderness there was a time when God got so mad at Israel that He wanted to destroy them, but Moses spoke up, and God didn't destroy them. Now since God is omniscient He knew that Israel wouldn't be destroyed because Jesus was to come out of Israel, but yet He was going to destroy them until Moses changed His mind. So because God is omniscient He knows everything about everything, even Himself. He knows when one of His children will influence Him to change His mind, and He planned out all of human history according to all He knows. All this is a very hard thing to follow and will take a little more time to explain more fully.
And about the goodness topic. Like I said before everything comes from God which includes goodness. I didn't misunderstand the question. Because mankind came from God, there is in man a natural knowledge of what is good and bad. Of course there are people whose understanding of good and evil has been clouded because of circumstances in childhood, but people do have an inherent idea of what is good or not. Before God gave the ten commandments there was plenty of killing in the Bible, and the killers knew it was wrong. Cain killed Abel, and knew He had sinned. God didn't have to say it was a sin before people knew it was one. A sin is something that goes against the nature of God, and killing does this therefore is a sin. Plus, when someone kills somebody, that person is playing 'god' in the victims life by deciding it's time for that person to die, which also is a sin. I'm not even going to address the issues of something being sin or not just because the "gods" say so, because I can see from the above that it's not a real issue. If this isn't understood though I will expound further if I can, but I'm afraid this comment is already really long so I will end here. Sorry if things aren't too clear, I do have a headache right now but, I am doing my best under the circumstances. I will try to do better in the future.

Anonymous | Wed, 03/26/2008

Introducing ... the almighty DOG!!!!

You can't know that you're going to change your mind, then you haven't really changed it at all. If you said to someone "I will do x, unless you can convince me otherwise." then you can change your mind. If you know exactly what they're going to say, then you're initial statement was a bluff, the only thing it accomplished was to make the person say what you already knew they were going to. No-one can say "I believe in x now but i am definitly going to hange my mind to believe in y later", this very notion is absurd.
About goodness, I would argue that people do not have their moral compass clouded in childhood but instead formed. Of course this is pure speculation as any proof of absolute morality is yet to be found, (well except in religious text, which aren't really classed as scientific evidence). Anyway i digress, the nature of morality is beside the point of this discussion. Again we're not talking about Yaweh, or the Judeo-Chirstian God, but any god, so in an effort to emmulate Plato I will create a theoretical god, I think we should name it Dog. Dog has only three properties he is benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, this is where the problems truely start, with questions like "Can Dog create a rock that he cannot lift?", is "Is Dog good because he is god? Or, is Dog good because he is good?", and of course the problem of evil. Now Dog has exactly the same problems as other gods, but with the element of faith removed i hope this will allow you to approach it from a purely rational viewpoint, and maybe we can get somewhere in answering these questions.

Alex (not verified) | Thu, 03/27/2008

It's Stephanie Again

Okay so I know i didn't explain myself well when it came to the mind changing issue because I left out details about the story I used and I don't really want to go into that right now, but last night I thought of something.....Since God is omniscient, and omnipotent then He would never actually need to change his mind in the sense that we are talking about. Omnipotent means that He is all powerful and He can do anything, but you are saying that since He (or all gods in your case) are omniscient, then they know everything and aren't capable of changing their minds. Okay, but someone who is all knowing would never have to change his mind, and their is no reason for a god who is omnipotent to have to be able to do something that He would never need to do. Why would anyone need to be able to do something that they would never have to do. You are saying that having one of these characteristics means you can't have the other, but in my mind they go hand in hand.
With the rock issue it goes back to mind changing thing. No God CAN'T create a rock bigger than Him, one because there would be no point to it, but along with being omniscient and omnipotent, God is also omnipresent. He's everywhere, and no rock could ever be everywhere....if it were then where would we be?
About the whole "absurd notion" that you are talking about...I believe you are right. The logic might not make perfect sense to us, but we are human and our minds are finite, and can only understand the finite. God is not restrained by the finite though because He is infinite. And besides I wouldn't expect my created mind to comprehend the mind of The Creator.

So yes removing faith from the equation, God can never be understood logically. This is the case with any religion or belief. None of them can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt scientifically, but some like Christianity, can be supported, even scientifically. But taking faith out of the issue where would we be? We have to have faith in whatever we believe, even if we believe that there is nothing to believe in. With faith I believe there is one God, and in faith you believe there isn't. Both stances take faith, so it isn't really realistic to take faith out of the equation when it obviously has to be there.
I believe I already address the God is good because He is essence good.
And I'm not sure what "problem of evil" you are talking about?

Anonymous | Thu, 03/27/2008

The problem of evil is that

The problem of evil is that a truly benevolent omnipotent could not allow evil to be, I know there is a myth in almost every religion explaining why. But wouldn't a loving mother remove all evil from the world to protect her child, if she could?
Also just because something is infinite does not mean it is somehow outside logic. Sure we cannot comprehend it and I make no claim to be able to, but we can analyze the infinite logical and even mathematically, as Georg Cantor proved. Something logical impossible on a finite scale is equally illogical on an infinite one.
Again wether the question of wether he needs to change his mind is completely different from wether he could. The most important questions is CAN he change his mind? If he can't he's not omnipotent and equally if he can he's not omniscient.
Now a quick solution to this problem is to say in our definition of omnipotence is that it cannot be illogical. Then this raises the same problem as the nature of good and makes logic above god, something that he can't change or bend to his will. Intersesting.

Alex (not verified) | Thu, 03/27/2008

God

I think that the basic idea of a god, like Jehovah, who is omnipotent, omniscient, and righteous, can be understood from a logical point of view. If this theoretical god created time and space, then it does not seem illogical to assume that he could be above both.

Also, if this theoretical god is good by nature, then he would not be capable of evil. That is, he would have the actual ability to commit evil, but would not do so because evil is against his 'personality' - who he is.

Also, there does seem to be some suggestion of a sort of absolute morality written in human nature. As an example, note that there has never been a culture that values cowardice over bravery, or lies over honesty.

Ezra | Thu, 03/27/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

It's Stephanie

Who says that a good God couldn't allow evil to be?
A mother might remove evil for the world if she didn't understand the important job that evil is currently playing in this world. No good mother wants their child to experience pain, and God doesn't want this for His children either, but He allows it for a season because in the long run pain and trials develop children that are completely devoted to their God.
And God will one day remove evil. That is part of His whole plan. First though He wants to gather together a family to have relationship with, and it is the evil in this world that allows God's children to truly decide their love and devotion to Him. God does not like that there is evil, but He allows if for a period of time because His love and desire for His children is so great.
Besides a mother couldn't ever remove all the evil in the world because she could never make her child honor her, or else she would have a robot and not a child. And is was this dishonoring of the "parent" that was the beginning of all evil.
Also, how could a finite, being like you or me, discover and understand what all the characteristics or abilities of something that is infinite are. Yes we can analyze anything, even something infinite, logically or mathematically but analyzing doesn't produce a real answer, just a hypothesis. And again our minds are finite, and cannot comprehend the infinite, so who are we to try to make the infinite fit into the boxes of our finite minds. We can run around in circles forever but never get anywhere, and that is pointless. I'd rather run for a reason than to prove a point. There are somethings that cannot be understood except through faith.
Oh and Alex I couldn't quite understand you last point, so I couldn't comment on it.

Anonymous | Fri, 03/28/2008

Well, I'm sorry to say I

Well, I'm sorry to say I didn't have the time to read all the comments..

But first off, I really have to say that I respect you a ton. I'm a christian, a devoted one at that, and I'll read what people have to say about god, and they aren't just stating their honest opinion like you are, they're deliberately slamming god and his existence. I love how you didn't do that, how you treated everybody like they're all human beings and not overly psycho religious freaks.

Even though I strongly disagree with what you had to say (and I would say why, but that's pretty much been covered by other people) I respect you for thinking for yourself; for inspiring discussion and not putting other people down because they believe something different.

So thanks for provoking thought. And thanks for not being an unnecessary jerk about it.

Bonus respect points for you!

narcissisticmee | Fri, 03/28/2008

Yes

Luke,

narcissisticmee is absolutly right. Thank you for your gentlemanly attitude.

Ezra | Fri, 03/28/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

My last point of my last

My last point of my last post was that omnipotence should be redefined as bound by logic, a belief held by many theologians. Now this introduces an interesting problem, for the consequence of this is that god is now controlled by logic, a pre-ordained set of rules binding even god himself. This means there is something even greater than god, who set down the rules of logic.

Also, by your logic then any mathematical problem too complex to be worked out physically is but a hypothesis. We do know plenty about the nature of infinity, but we never need to hold an image of it in our minds, working it out on paper is still as sound as trying to use our minds to visualize it. A geologist does not try and comprehend the immense pressures at the core of the earth, or the astronomers the great distances and times involved, or the particle physicist the very particles which he is studying. These are all things which we as humans are not evolved to comprehend, but this does not stop their work being any less accurate. Why when we have a perfectly valid system for understanding(note: not comprehending) the infinite should it suddenly become invalid purely because of the subject matter.

Ezra, i agree that no culture values lies over honesty or cowardice over bravery, but they still honour these traits in certain situations. What is a cunning man but a liar, what is a war hero but a murderer, do we not in many cultures have our loveable rogues, albeit mainly in fiction, Robin Hood, Blackadder, even Han Solo, or in real life, people like Fidel Castro, who many admire despite his rather shocking human rights record. These are the people that society adores despite the fact that they have characteristics that would be frowned upon in the general public.

Alex (not verified) | Sat, 03/29/2008

Logic and Implied Ethics

Alex,

We can give a definition of infinity in the same way that we give a definition of omnipotence or omnipresence. We cannot, however, picture it because it would not be like anything like what we have observed (the closest thing to infinity that we have observed is space, but even then it only appears to us as a black screen - no matter how far we probe there is still only a black screen just beyond). Also, infinity cannot be worked out on paper, or at least not in math. That is why we have created a symbol to represent it: we cannot give it a numerical representation. In fact, we are stuck when it comes up, because we cannot add to it or subtract from it or divide it or multiply by it.

Large and small numbers (like 3.5X10^32 KPa or 23.2X10^-15 V) are fundamentally different from abstract concepts because, even though we may never have felt them, we can still visualize them (at least scientist and engineers can, and I am an engineering student). We can also use them in mathematical formula such as P=F/A or V=IR; we do so all of the time. In essence, we can comprehend them.

Even having said that, I believe that infinity and other such concepts do lie with in the relm of logic, or at least to the extend of our ability to define them. They do not, however, lie within science (they are not observable, repeatable, testable, etc.).

My problem with your argument about logic is that logic has essentially two definitions. First, logic is the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference. The laws of this kind of logic are simply a way of organizing thoughts based on what we observe in the world around us, (such as if a implies b and b implies c, then a implies c). The second kind of logic is what we mean when we say things like, "that sounds logical". When we say this we basically mean "that makes sense". But then the statement "God is bound by making sense" doesn't really matter to the debate because some people believe that he does and some believe that he doesn't.

As for what I suggested about an implied ethic in nature, look closely at the examples you provided, and what it is that they are admired for. Those few people who do like Castro like him for what he tried to do right, i.e. alleviate the burdens of the Cuban people. Those who dislike him do so for what he did to break the implied ethic that I suggested. The character of Han Solo is admired for his cocky attitude and ability to survive, not for any people he may have hurt with crooked deals. And even then, the best Han Solo moment is when he changes from coward to brave and helps Skywalker attack the death star. And while we may enjoy the Blackadder sitcom, notice that when you go to a city park or memorial, you find statues of such brave men as Daniel Boone or Audi Murphy, not cowards (whose names are not even remembered, except in notoriety or fiction).

And the legend of Robin Hood actually serves to further the hypothesis of implied ethics. The character of Robin Hood is actually based off of a historical figure (about whom not much is actually known). So why did the historical character become a legend even though his actions were contrary to the system of his day? Because his fight was brave and moral: he was fighting an evil king to protect a suffering people.

Ezra | Sat, 03/29/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

What i meant by god being

What i meant by god being constrained by the logical is that he cannot do something self-contradictory,(something applicable to both defintions of the word). But then again he is now constrained by logic, logic is something above god.

People like power, they like Castro because he lived the dream, he ruled for 49 years, without election or rebellion. You see i would class cowardice as not really an example of your implied ethics, as cowards don't do anything and are thus not remembered because there is nothing to remember them for. Still no one would argue that fool-hardiness is nothing to be proud of and to turn this question around, what is a brave man but foolhardy and what is a coward but rational.

I'll grant robin hood wasn't a good example, but what about the adventures of the wild west outlaws Jesse James and Billy the Kid, or in Australia Ned Kelly. Ned Kelly is a particularly good example, because of the way he committed his crimes, Australians remember him with pride, despite the fact he was a mudering, stealing scum.

While physical infinity may not be within the reach of science, mathematical infinity is. Look at Georg Cantor's work on defining and working out a whole system of mathematics around infinity. Again i would argue that you can't possibly visualize physical things as they tend towards infinity. I am a Computer Science student at university, i know perfectly well how a transistor works and how a microchip works. I can't however truely visualize how there can so many on one chip, they are at a scale at which the mind boggles, so i don't, i don't think anyone truely does, the new ones have transistors 45nm across at that scale you can see the atoms in them. This doesnt stop me from understanding them, because as you said they obey all the rules and behave in a particular manner. Even if the transistors were infinitely small, (i.e. you could put an infinite amount in any area) they would still work the same way.

Alex (not verified) | Thu, 04/03/2008

Logic is how we organize and

Logic is how we organize and present thoughts and truths. Therefore, if the existence and nature of God are truths, then we understand them within the realm of logic.

But saying that God is bound by logic is like saying that an idea is bound by the alphabet... it really doesn't have any implications.

The idea of infinity can be mathematically symbolized, but it cannot be graphed or expressed: you would run out of paper or hard drive space without getting any closer. The idea of God can also be symbolized (philosophically), but cannot be drawn or summarized in completeness. God, like infinity, is outside the realm of scientific understanding. Neither can be tested by scientific measures.

Ned Kelly is not admired for being a murderer; he is admired for the way he stood up to Australia's colonial authority. Jesse James and Billy the Kid are admired for their audacity and 'cowboy image', not because they caused the deaths of innocent people. These men are admired, as you said, *despite* their wrongs, not because of them.

It is interesting to note that those few people who do admire evil (neo Nazis, for example), are usually either brainwashed in some capacity or are dealing with extreme frustrations in other parts of their lives. This implies that it is not natural to admire unethical actions.

Ezra | Thu, 04/03/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]