Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa")

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AuthorTopic: Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa")
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

Yes we've had school shootings, children getting crazy at parties, war, divorce, etc in the past. I acknowledge that. What I'm talking about is scale. If you can't see it I don't really know how to do a better job. Look for yourself and see or not.
I don't deny that the school shootings that we have now are bigger than they have been in the past. I denied that the reason is a decline in morals. I suggested other plausible explanations. You completely missed the point.

quote:
And somebody at a different time saying morals were decreasing has nothing to do with now. Maybe they were declining, maybe they were not.
Again, you completely missed the point. My point was that many people have been saying that morals have been decling at all ages of history in all cultures. If there is any message that is universally present, it is this one. That makes me more skeptical of it.

Because you're bound to miss the point again, let me pre-empt you. I'm not trying to say that this proves you wrong. I'm just trying to say that it leads me to take anything you're saying regarding this issue with a grain of salt.

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The OT sheol is not equivalent to the NT gehenna. It's equivalent to hades. And they are used with the exact same meaning. I think this confusion and bad translating is why some think there was a switch. I have a couple of translations that seem to recognize the problem going from biblical languages and simply transliterate so you can clearly see the sameness:

Psalm 16:10 (NRSV) For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

Acts 2:31 (NRSV) Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, 'He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.'


Gehenna is used to picture eternal destruction. It was a literal place were refuse and dead considered unfit for burial (e.g. criminals) were discarded and burned.

Matthew 10:28 (NWT) And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

Some translations translate "gehenna" here as "hell." They also translate sheol and hades the same way. But, Jesus analogy between the lawless seen as unfit to be buried who's body was dumped in a garbage dump to be burned or consumed by maggots and the lawless that God saw unfit to live and so annihilates them would be readily understood by his listeners. They would no more think that God was going to torture people forever in "gehenna" than they themselves tortured people in a garbage dump.

Death in Hebrew and ancient Christian thought was a unconscious state of inactivity. The adoption of other ideologies came after the Bible was complete. There are a handful of references in the Hebrew and Christian parts that could seem to be implying different (especially depending on the translator), but a critical look at context and language reveals uniform view of death and punishment. It also becomes clear that God is not sadistic as some claim. He is seen as long-suffering, but not permissive.
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That raises another question, I think, although it's really one as old as religion. Why exactly should one endeavor to behave as God wishes? God is presumably the one everyone should want to please, but let's say you don't. What incentive do you have if there's no everlasting torment awaiting you?

—Alorael, who can see temporary torment as an acceptable but odd answer. Spiritual time-out for bad behavior just seems odd from a supreme being. This whole afterlife thing is hard to make sense of.
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quote:
Originally written by Drythentor:

If we good, we go heaven. If we bad, we go HELL.
Thank you for witnessing to me in terms simple enough for me to understand. I have just found Christ.

:P

[ Tuesday, July 24, 2007 15:35: Message edited by: jg.faust ]

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quote:
Originally written by This is not a moniker.:

Why exactly should one endeavor to behave as God wishes? …What incentive do you have if there's no everlasting torment awaiting you?… This whole afterlife thing is hard to make sense of.
To name a few reasons - One loves God. Recognition that his way is the best way. Desire to do what’s right. Desire to live forever. Love for ones neighbor and a desire to help them do the right thing and live forever. A wish to see the world become like it should be. Desire to be reunited with loved ones who will be resurrected.

It’s not as complex, illogical, and mysterious as some make it out to be. It’s mostly simple, clear, and logical. The stuff that’s not simple is not so much illogical as it is amazing or perplexing. Such is life though. At the risk of sounding like an idiot sometimes I just stare at fire or electricity or red velvet mites and wonder. I know we have some understanding of how nature works, but that doesn’t make things less marvelous. I’m constantly in awe.
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So presume I think God is a jerk, would prefer to stop existing than to spend eternity hanging around and obeying such a jerk, and disagree with the notion that his rules are good and logical. What reason do I have to follow his rules?

[ Wednesday, July 25, 2007 06:13: Message edited by: The Almighty Do-er of Stuff ]

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Sounds good to me. Praise His Noodliness!

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There are basically two justifications for obeying the commandments of some god: the carrot-stick justification, and the how-one-ought-to-feel justification. The carrot-stick justification ("You'll receive salvatio/not burn in hell/go to a happy place/get rewards!") is pragmatic but less than satisfying morally. The how-one-ought-to-feel justification ("Aren't you grateful for being created?" "Don't you feel like doing good?" "Doesn't it just match with how you think right and wrong ought to be?") tends to presume morality in order to justify morality.

As has been demonstrated at length in previous discussions — as a recall, Alec was a major proponent of this — the only way that it makes sense for us to want to obey a deity is if that deity obeys some morality outside itself. Even if there is a god of some sort, right and wrong exist independently of it. You can then layer all sorts of arguments on top of that ("God understands morality far better than we do, so it makes sense for us to obey," etc.), but the base truth remains the same.

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I would imagine that in a land of theocracy, views may be a little different. After all we have the freedom to choose, without worry that a special agency would beat the living snot out of us for failure to believe/act convincingly.

Oh. If belief in a HP is founded on the notion that something must be better (later on, likely after death,) doesn't that pre-suppose that things aren't as one imagined currently? If a person is healthy and satisfied it seems they would be less likely to grasp at the straws of future rewards than if they were living closer to the edge.

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Kel, could you give a link to a few of those discussions?
I'd like to see Alec's rationale for extra-theos morality.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

There are basically two justifications for obeying the commandments of some god: the carrot-stick justification, and the how-one-ought-to-feel justification.
Would you classify the justifications for why a 5 yr old should obey her parents the same way?

quote:
the only way that it makes sense for us to want to obey a deity is if that deity obeys some morality outside itself. Even if there is a god of some sort, right and wrong exist independently of it.
I disagree. Consider a scenario where a deity is the only thing that exists. Nothing has ever existed before this deity, because there is no “before.” The deity decides to create stuff. There is nothing other than this deity so everything created is from the deity. When he (not that the deity is male so please don’t ask) creates, he does so in a certain manner in accord with his own ordered way. The stuff reflects that way. Some stuff he creates is more like him than other stuff and so can also decide what it will do to a limited degree.

Now the deity is the ultimate in reality because he is not subject to time, but everything else has a start. He does not have a way because of anything, but everything has a way because of him. When his creation that can decide does so in accord with the way of the deity it contributes toward harmony. Of course decisions not in the way of the deity cause the opposite - universal discord. Conformity to this way is absolute morality.

So this deity does not obey any morality, but obeying his way is the ultimate in morality. Let’s take a lie, for example. A lie is an unreality. Remember the deity is the ultimate in reality. He has none of the motivation the creation may have to tell a lie. He doesn’t lie because it’s not his way, not because he is following a code. Much of the deity-like creation lies or has lied, but in general being prone to lying is a universally undesirable trait because it creates motivation based on unreal ideas which promote discord. The same is true for all immorality. It’s bad for the stuff and bad for the Deity.
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

The deity decides to create stuff. There is nothing other than this deity so everything created is from the deity. When he (not that the deity is male so please don’t ask) creates, he does so in a certain manner in accord with his own ordered way. The stuff reflects that way. Some stuff he creates is more like him than other stuff and so can also decide what it will do to a limited degree.

...snip...

Let’s take a lie, for example. A lie is an unreality. Remember the deity is the ultimate in reality. He has none of the motivation the creation may have to tell a lie.

So. Everything comes from nothingness and is created by a deity. This deity is absolute morality (de facto) and (because you say so) limits the creation to that of which it knows/imagines. I won't go into how fantastical it sounds to invent all this crap all at once. But then we also have immorality, which must have also come from the deity. But we already decided that all which comes from the deity must be of absolute morality. Ergo, what you call immorality must be morality, because the only other explanation is a deity that has no clue. Of course it could just be a gigantic sense of humor, but sooooo many other people have postulated that already, and my sense is that you take this crap a little seriously.

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Viewing Salmon's rant through my conception of God, and the scenery is beautiful. As a reminder, my God is formed of literally everything. He is the whole, the truth, yadda yadda. Borrow my pink glassess and see for yourself. Especially the "it (God) limits the creation to that of which it knows/imagines" -part becomes rather interesting.

[ Wednesday, July 25, 2007 09:38: Message edited by: Frozen Feet ]

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quote:
Originally written by Jumpin' Sarcasmon:

But then we also have immorality, which must have also come from the deity. But we already decided that all which comes from the deity must be of absolute morality. Ergo, what you call immorality must be morality, because the only other explanation is a deity that has no clue.
In my scenario immorality doesn't come from the deity. It's opposed to the way of the deity so it can't. It comes from the deity's creation that can make its own way. The deity is perfectly aware that some make this way and has even taken steps to ensure that only those that won’t make it will stay around. So, when the way of the creation lines up with that of the deity it goes toward harmony and permanence. And when the creation makes a way contrary to the deity it chooses a path of disorder and transience.

Honestly it sounds sort of farfetched to me too sometimes. The only thing more farfetched to me is every other explanation. I start with the question “Does the universe have a beginning?” That becomes “Did that beginning have a cause?” Which turns into “Is that cause something eternal or someone eternal?” From there I always end up back where I am.

And yes I do take the nature of reality and eternity seriously. Judging by the fact that you feel the need to keep coming back to this thread and think about it while going about your daily activities I’d say this has some importance to you as well, even though you call what I say “crap” (which by the way is very uncreative). How could it not have some importance? Even when I meet hardcore atheists from China they still have some degree of spirituality. For example, they might be afraid of cemeteries (very common) without really thinking about the ramification of that fear. You can’t run away from what you are and we are inclined towards spirituality by nature.
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(fear or love) + creativity = spirituality.
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

I start with the question “Does the universe have a beginning?” That becomes “Did that beginning have a cause?” Which turns into “Is that cause something eternal or someone eternal?”
Of course it's someone eternal. It obviously came from the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Who do you think gave humans the idea for making pasta in the first place? Why do think animals have such noodle-like appendages as arms, legs, tails, trunks, etc.? Our intestines that absorb nutrients and our blood vessels that carry them throughout our bodies are noodle-shaped too. Why do you think we don't float off into space? The established theory of "gravity" (pshaw!) says objects pull toward each other naturally, but it doesn't say how they do this. The perfectly logical Pastafarian theory, that it is none other than the FSM holding us down with his Noodly Appendages, not only explains this much better than "gravity", but in fact also explains quite well why people have gotten taller on average over the course of history. The FSM created the first man as a midgit. Then he created a woman to get the first man to stop complaining, which apparently didn't work (the FSM is drunk a good amount of the time, so he didn't always think things through fully when he created the universe). As they reproduced and the population grew, there were fewer Noodly Appendages to go around, so everyone got less touching and therefore everyone got taller.

Of course, some say that there's no reason the universe itself couldn't be eternal if a creator diety can be (in fact, that's what the scientific evidence seems to point to, what with the inability to create or destroy matter). But that's ridiculous. Everyone knows that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there fiddling with the data every time you make a scientific observation!

[ Wednesday, July 25, 2007 13:03: Message edited by: The Almighty Do-er of Stuff ]

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Posts: 2957 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
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quote:
Originally written by Drew:

(fear or love) + creativity = spirituality.
I hear you. The problem for me is that a lot of stuff no longer makes sense that way. The other theories are always more contrived and don't explain well.
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A parent knows better than a five-year-old child, which is why the parent compels the child to obey. That's not why the child obeys, though, unless the child acknowledges that. Mostly children obey out of love and respect for and fear of their parents. The proportions vary, but those are the two causes, mostly.

If you love God, of course you obey. If God is threatening hellfire, of course you obey. If you aren't threatened, you're likely to obey God much of the time but disobey to some extent, much like children. And there's no negative consequence, which as any child-rearer will tell you is likely to result in more disobedience.

Your morality argument seems to make some pretty big leaps. God creates everything but immorality. Okay. God creates us with the ability to act as we want. Okay. Acting against God creates disharmony. Harmony is undefined, but, let's define it as making the world go against God's plan. Fine. Now how is that the same as immorality unless you define morality as acting as God wishes, which makes the definition meaningless here? Being able to go with or against a plan is not the same as being moral or immoral and does not make the planner any reliable arbiter. There are plenty of incompetent managers (cf. Dilbert, Office Space, The Office, etc.) to disprove that.

—Alorael, who finds an eternal universe easier to comprehend than an eternal entity that predates the universe, really. And he finds all other "theories," notably religion, too contrived and too fixated on logical pretzels and navel-gazing to be convincing.
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

And yes I do take the nature of reality and eternity seriously. Judging by the fact that you feel the need to keep coming back to this thread and think about it while going about your daily activities I’d say this has some importance to you as well, even though you call what I say “crap” (which by the way is very uncreative).
When there are Dominionist Christians out there who still want to see adulterers stoned to death, we have to take these things seriously whether we would like to or not. I've received threats in the past from Christians who objected to certain of my political activities, so this is something that hits a little close to home for me.

[ Wednesday, July 25, 2007 19:29: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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quote:
Originally written by Myoepaeia:

Acting against God creates disharmony. Harmony is undefined, but, let's define it as making the world go against God's plan. Fine. Now how is that the same as immorality unless you define morality as acting as God wishes, which makes the definition meaningless here? Being able to go with or against a plan is not the same as being moral or immoral and does not make the planner any reliable arbiter. There are plenty of incompetent managers (cf. Dilbert, Office Space, The Office, etc.) to disprove that.
Sometimes I feel very slow when I read your posts. I have to read them over and over again to get your point and then sometimes I still don’t as in this case. Bear with me.

Immorality is nonconformity to proper conduct. Maybe it’s that I assumed God’s way was the proper way that threw you. Is that the leap? Or is it the meaning of moral that we’re wrestling with?

I take the universe as God’s circle of Giotto. “Incompetence” is the farthest thing from my mind as I’m watching a cuttlefish change colors or reading about synaptic transmission. In the scenario I gave everything exists because of his will. That more than anything establishes him as rightful sovereign of everything and reliable arbiter of what does and does not conform to its purpose for being.

quote:
Alorael, who finds an eternal universe easier to comprehend than an eternal entity that predates the universe, really. And he finds all other "theories," notably religion, too contrived and too fixated on logical pretzels and navel-gazing to be convincing.

That’s interesting because I find the exact opposite to be true in my case. Life, order, and intelligence arising from life, order, and intelligence makes sense. These things coming from unaware, lifeless, chaos is what I can’t come to grips with as such thinking seems to run contrary to natural law. A being with all encompassing power and wisdom seems fantastic only when I fixate on the being. When I look at the whole picture it seems fantastic for this being not to be behind it all.

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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

When there are Dominionist Christians out there who still want to see adulterers stoned to death, we have to take these things seriously whether we would like to or not. I've received threats in the past from Christians who objected to certain of my political activities, so this is something that hits a little close to home for me.
I see your point. Just so you know, I don’t advocate killing or persecuting anyone for their beliefs. People of my faith have been beaten, jailed, tortured and killed all over the world (including the US) for what we believe. We’re still underground or fighting legal battles or taking physical beatings in quite a few countries. I’m all about tolerance.

That being said, adultery is quite different from expressing political or religious beliefs. I’m not pro-stoning, but I certainly think we’d be better off with less adultery. Don’t worry though - I don’t get involved in politics.
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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

In the scenario I gave everything exists because of his will. That more than anything establishes him as rightful sovereign of everything and reliable arbiter of what does and does not conform to its purpose for being.
There's a name for the belief that the ability to do something creates a right to do it: it's called fascism.

quote:
That being said, adultery is quite different from expressing political or religious beliefs. I’m not pro-stoning, but I certainly think we’d be better off with less adultery. Don’t worry though - I don’t get involved in politics.
Everyone is involved in politics. It's not something you can opt out of. To the extent that your actions affect other people, your actions are political.

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quote:
I see your point. Just so you know, I don’t advocate killing or persecuting anyone for their beliefs. People of my faith have been beaten, jailed, tortured and killed all over the world (including the US) for what we believe. We’re still underground or fighting legal battles or taking physical beatings in quite a few countries.
Seriously? Christians are persecuted in the US? How come that didn't make the news?

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