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Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 01:27 PM
First a little housekeeping. While I'm basically an atheist, I'm not one of those who judges Christians to be categorically stupid, evil, deluded, or insane. I can think of quite a few Christians I admire and even love (though there's plenty who piss me off on a regular basis.) So this is not a gotcha thread. I am not going to argue that God does not exist, or that the Bible is wicked through and through, or that Christianity is a blight on humanity (if only because I judge the latter two to be untrue anyway). In fact I don't intend to argue at all; I am simply interested in reading the answer to the question.

To reiterate: Christians (and other theists who wish to answer): When you say that God loves humanity, what do you mean?

Stipulating that God exists for the sake of the discussion, it's clear that His love is sexual in any way; nor is (it seems to me) is it the sort of passionate involvement that a human mother has for her child. What does love mean when God is the lover?

Bricker
08-09-2011, 01:51 PM
Christians speak of God as the Father, and that's not a bad model for what I imagine God's love to be. If I can trot out a stereotype or two, a mother's love is thought of as more consuming and less remote. Dad might be more willing to let his son scrape a knee learning to skatebaord, while Mom wrings her hands at the thought of her baby bleeding.

And it's well to remember that just as a parent is an adult and can see things more clearly than can a child, not all things that appear to be terrible are. A child may dislike the bitter taste of medicine and cavil at the necessity of taking it, while the parent knows that as unpleasant as the medicine is, it's taken for a good reason. The child might be upset at not visiting Disney; the parent knows that it's better to be able to buy school uniforms than see Goofy.

The Second Stone
08-09-2011, 01:53 PM
What? No poll?

The closest I can come to explaining it is to say that the nature of God is most easily understood by people as being the love and caring that people are capable of and have for each other.

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 01:55 PM
What? No poll?


This is GD, not IMHO. So no poll and no threats of cartoonish violence for the Skaldmocking, though the latter is probably implied.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 01:59 PM
Christians speak of God as the Father, and that's not a bad model for what I imagine God's love to be. If I can trot out a stereotype or two, a mother's love is thought of as more consuming and less remote. Dad might be more willing to let his son scrape a knee learning to skatebaord, while Mom wrings her hands at the thought of her baby bleeding.

And it's well to remember that just as a parent is an adult and can see things more clearly than can a child, not all things that appear to be terrible are. A child may dislike the bitter taste of medicine and cavil at the necessity of taking it, while the parent knows that as unpleasant as the medicine is, it's taken for a good reason. The child might be upset at not visiting Disney; the parent knows that it's better to be able to buy school uniforms than see Goofy.
This doesn't really answer the OP. It's basically a sort of an amateurish stab at a theodicy (one which is completely illogical for an omnimax deity, of course, but a common enough amateur theodicy analogy, nonetheless).

The question was really about what exactly it means to say God "loves" people. How is that word being defined? "Love," in humans is a biochemical bonding process. Is that what it is for God, or is it something else?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:01 PM
What? No poll?

The closest I can come to explaining it is to say that the nature of God is most easily understood by people as being the love and caring that people are capable of and have for each other.
So it's brain chemicals then? Same as with bonding in chimps and dogs?

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 02:12 PM
This doesn't really answer the OP.


The person who wrote the OP disagrees. Though I would have disagreed with Bricker even as a Xtian, I understand his meaning and intent.


It's basically a sort of an amateurish stab at a theodicy (one which is completely illogical for an omnimax deity, of course, but a common enough amateur theodicy analogy, nonetheless).

The question was really about what exactly it means to say God "loves" people. How is that word being defined? "Love," in humans is a biochemical bonding process. Is that what it is for God, or is it something else?(bolding mine)

Who says that love is necessarily a biochemical bonding process in humans? I sure don't. Which is not to say that it's never that.

I vacillate among several definitions of interpersonal love. One is that love is the state of mind in which the well-being of another person is essential to the lover's peace of mind. In that sense I love my oldest brother (though I don't like him even a tiny bit) quite as much as I love my best friend from college (whom I unreservedly adore). I'd give either of them a kidney if they needed it. As I think on it I probably love her more, though, since I'd do things on her behalf I'd never do for him.

Another is that love is mental state comprising the emotions of affection, lust, respect, and trust, with the intellectual state of commitment added in. In that sense I only love my wife.

A third is that love is the subjective state caused by intense sexual desire in which the company of another is strongly desired. In that sense I loved the girl I dated in the late 90s, though the I didn't love her in either in the first two senses (demonstrated by how badly I treated her).

I don't think any of those definitions apply to God. And since Xtians typically (though not invariably) conceive of God as being bodiless, your biochemical reaction thing can't apply either.

The Second Stone
08-09-2011, 02:18 PM
That isn't what I wrote, that's what you wrote. And it isn't what I meant, that is what you meant. If you wish to be obtuse, that's up to you. The man asked a question of what Christians mean and I answered it with my understanding. If you wish to believe that I was speaking about chemical compounds in brains (and hormones, etc.) that is your prerogative and right to do with your brain chemicals as you please.

What I was talking about was "the love and caring that people are capable of and have for each other". You might want to investigate it and put it into practice. You might find you like it. Or you might find it revolting. Please report back.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:20 PM
The person who wrote the OP disagrees. Though I would have disagreed with Bricker even as a Xtian, I understand his meaning and intent.

(bolding mine)

Who says that love is necessarily a biochemical bonding process in humans?
Says science. That is factually, what the word describes.
I sure don't. Which is not to say that it's never that.
Cite that it's anything else? I thought you didn't believe in magic.
I vacillate among several definitions of interpersonal love. One is that love is the state of mind in which the well-being of another person is essential to the lover's peace of mind. In that sense I love my oldest brother (though I don't like him even a tiny bit) quite as much as I love my best friend from college (whom I unreservedly adore). I'd give either of them a kidney if they needed it. As I think on it I probably love her more, though, since I'd do things on her behalf I'd never do for him.

Another is that love is mental state comprising the emotions of affection, lust, respect, and trust, with the intellectual state of commitment added in. In that sense I only love my wife.

A third is that love is the subjective state caused by intense sexual desire in which the company of another is strongly desired. In that sense I loved the girl I dated in the late 90s, though the I didn't love her in either in the first two senses (demonstrated by how badly I treated her).
All of these things are brain chemistry. All cognitive functions are chemical.
I don't think any of those definitions apply to God. And since Xtians typically (though not invariably) conceive of God as being bodiless, your biochemical reaction thing can't apply either.
Of course it can't apply to God. That's my point. The notion of "God's love" is nonsense. "Love" is just brain chemistry, No brain, no "love."

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:25 PM
That isn't what I wrote, that's what you wrote. And it isn't what I meant, that is what you meant. If you wish to be obtuse, that's up to you. The man asked a question of what Christians mean and I answered it with my understanding. If you wish to believe that I was speaking about chemical compounds in brains (and hormones, etc.) that is your prerogative and right to do with your brain chemicals as you please.

What I was talking about was "the love and caring that people are capable of and have for each other". You might want to investigate it and put it into practice. You might find you like it. Or you might find it revolting. Please report back.
The love and caring that people feel for each other is nothing but brain chemistry. There is nothing else to it. And spare me the sanctimony. I am fully aware of what it feels like. I love my wife and kids more than anything in this world, while simultaneously being aware that those feelings are chemical. It's not a diminshment or derogation of those emotions to simply point out the biochemical cause.

kanicbird
08-09-2011, 02:25 PM
Stipulating that God exists for the sake of the discussion, it's clear that His love is sexual in any way; nor is (it seems to me) is it the sort of passionate involvement that a human mother has for her child. What does love mean when God is the lover?

We are God's children, very much loved on many levels. As God's children we are as much part of God as Jesus, Son of God, who is God, or as Mary Daughter of God is God. We are the Sons and Daughters of God, we have Godly powers as shown in the scriptures.

God is one, so as Jesus is God we are also God. Children are the very heart of the parents. They are the same spiritual being, and created for one reason and one reason only, so the Love can increase forever. This is what I believe Jesus meant by saying I and the Father are one and what is possible for us all.

God Loves us as a parent loves and adores their child. As the Father Loves Jesus God Loves us.

As we are the Sons and Daughters of God, God desires us to fall in Love with God (in the other person), and as God produced children, God desires us to do likewise, both deeply loved physical children, but also in this world spiritual children (people you help find their path to Love). This is part of ever growing Love that God desires. So yes there is sexuality for us in God. The Love that flows between two lovers is the power of God and the reason for the wonderful feelings that God longs for us to have.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 02:27 PM
A rainbow is an artifact of the visible light spectrum caused by refraction.

Yet people seem to hold the position that the experience of looking at a rainbow is different from the experience of understanding the wavelengths of light in various colors.

In the same way, it's correct to say that love is a function of brain chemistry. But it's hardly complete.

Or to put it another way, there is no radical difference in brain chemistry between you, Diogenes, and Sarah Palin. Yet I will still assume you would like readers to believe there is substantial difference between you two in the nature and quality of your thoughts.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 02:28 PM
The love and caring that people feel for each other is nothing but brain chemistry. There is nothing else to it. And spare me the sanctimony. I am fully aware of what it feels like. I love my wife and kids more than anything in this world, while simultaneously being aware that those feelings are chemical. It's not a diminshment or derogation of those emotions to simply point out the biochemical cause.

What's the relevance of pointing it out in this situation?

gonzomax
08-09-2011, 02:33 PM
That he'/she/it will not end the world in flame ,water or pestilence. It is hard to say I love you but you all must die.
That would get you put in jail.

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 02:34 PM
First a little housekeeping. While I'm basically an atheist, I'm not one of those who judges Christians to be categorically stupid, evil, deluded, or insane. I can think of quite a few Christians I admire and even love (though there's plenty who piss me off on a regular basis.) So this is not a gotcha thread. I am not going to argue that God does not exist, or that the Bible is wicked through and through, or that Christianity is a blight on humanity (if only because I judge the latter two to be untrue anyway). In fact I don't intend to argue at all; I am simply interested in reading the answer to the question.

To reiterate: Christians (and other theists who wish to answer): When you say that God loves humanity, what do you mean?

Stipulating that God exists for the sake of the discussion, it's clear that His love is sexual in any way; nor is (it seems to me) is it the sort of passionate involvement that a human mother has for her child. What does love mean when God is the lover?


The Christian perspective on this is that Jesus (the son of God) loves everyone unconditionally. He loves us like the ideal parents - loving their children unconditionally. He loved us so much that He endured the weight of all of humanity's sins and died for our sins.

In the Old Testament, God was shown as vengeful. If people would sin, He would punish them without forgiveness. Jesus forgives much like parents forgive their children for mistakes. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and we shall receive forgiveness.

Now, there are debates on whether or not Jesus was truly the son of God. It is popular belief that Jesus is God in human form. God sent His only son to die for our sins. It's pretty complicated and there are many interpretations on this. Many Christians believe that God, the Holy Spirit, and The Son are part of the Holy Trinity (all part of the same-being).

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 02:36 PM
What's the relevance of pointing it out in this situation?

It seems people are having a debate within a debate on what love is. The debate within the debate is "what is love?" "Is love chemical or more than that?"

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:37 PM
A rainbow is an artifact of the visible light spectrum caused by refraction.

Yet people seem to hold the position that the experience of looking at a rainbow is different from the experience of understanding the wavelengths of light in various colors.


In the same way, it's correct to say that love is a function of brain chemistry. But it's hardly complete.[/quote]
This is not an argument that rainbows are not caused by diffracted light, and it's not an argument that "love" is not caused by biochemical processes. Subjective experience is irrelevant to cause.
Or to put it another way, there is no radical difference in brain chemistry between you, Diogenes, and Sarah Palin. Yet I will still assume you would like readers to believe there is substantial difference between you two in the nature and quality of your thoughts.
Probably not as much as either of us would like to think. It still mostly boils down to "eat kill fuck," but God doesn't really fit into this analogy because God has no bichemical processes. Talking about God's "love" is like talking about God's "breath." it can't have a literal meaning.

Czarcasm
08-09-2011, 02:38 PM
What's the relevance of pointing it out in this situation?Actually, it is quite reverent. If love is a chemical reaction in the brain, and God is without these chemicals (and without physical brain!), then perhaps "love" is the wrong word to use in this situation.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:41 PM
What's the relevance of pointing it out in this situation?
To show that characterizing God's alleged "love" as identical to human love does not parse logically. I'll reiterate the "God's breath" analogy (or "God's son," for that matter). It attributes biological characteristics to an entity which is not biological. It doesn't make sense to equate them literally.

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 02:42 PM
Actually, it is quite reverent. If love is a chemical reaction in the brain, and God is without these chemicals (and without physical brain!), then perhaps "love" is the wrong word to use in this situation.

No, the OP is asking these questions under the understanding that everyone replying has a basic concept of Christianity. Love is actually the correct word to use in this situation. Love is a commonly understood term when it comes to Christianity.

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 02:44 PM
To show that characterizing God's alleged "love" as identical to human love does not parse logically. I'll reiterate the "God's breath" analogy (or "God's son," for that matter). It attributes biological characteristics to an entity which is not biological. It doesn't make sense to equate them literally.

You can't use science to answer a religious question. This is a religious debate, not a scientific debate.

The question asked by OP:

To reiterate: Christians (and other theists who wish to answer): When you say that God loves humanity, what do you mean?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:50 PM
The Christian perspective on this is that Jesus (the son of God) loves everyone unconditionally. He loves us like the ideal parents - loving their children unconditionally. He loved us so much that He endured the weight of all of humanity's sins and died for our sins.
This view of unconditional love isn't really supported by the Bible, though. The Bible has both God and Jesus saying they hate people, and has Jesus ordering his followers to hate people (or arguably even to slaughter them).

The whole notion of "dying for our sins really makes no sense either. If God loved us so much then why did he need a sacrifice? he was only saving us from himself, so that whole sacrifice thing was kind of silly. If he loved us unconditionally, he could have just decided to let them into Heaven or whatever.

I never understood why it was God's place to forgive anybody anyway. That doesn't make sense either. How can God decide it's ok for me to hurt somebody else. It seems to me like the only entities who have the right to forgive are those who are wronged. God can't be wronged, so has no authority to forgive.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 02:51 PM
Actually, it is quite reverent. If love is a chemical reaction in the brain, and God is without these chemicals (and without physical brain!), then perhaps "love" is the wrong word to use in this situation.

To show that characterizing God's alleged "love" as identical to human love does not parse logically. I'll reiterate the "God's breath" analogy (or "God's son," for that matter). It attributes biological characteristics to an entity which is not biological. It doesn't make sense to equate them literally.

The OP asked, "When you say that God loves humanity, what do you mean?"

My answer was that a father's love for a child was a useful model of the relationship I contend exists between God and humanity.

I don't contend that they are identical, that they arise from the same physical process, or that they are sustained by the same process. I merely offered one as a useful model for the other.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 02:53 PM
Is it possible to have a debate in this forum that assumes, for the purposes of the debate, the existence of God, and explores the different structures and models that "God's love" might have? Or is any such subject going to be derailed by the insistance that we cannot begin with such assumptions?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:53 PM
No, the OP is asking these questions under the understanding that everyone replying has a basic concept of Christianity. Love is actually the correct word to use in this situation. Love is a commonly understood term when it comes to Christianity.
The commonly understood meaning for God's "love" in Christianity is the ordinary, human definition of the word. People don't usually think of it as biological, but that's only because they don't really tend to examine their own terms.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 02:55 PM
You can't use science to answer a religious question. This is a religious debate, not a scientific debate.
The religious question can't be answered unless the terms are defined.
The question asked by OP:
The OP's question can't be answered without a non-biolgical definition of the word "love."

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 02:58 PM
The religious question can't be answered unless the terms are defined.

The OP's question can't be answered without a non-biolgical definition of the word "love."

And your definition of love is that it's chemical and without a brain we can't love. Yeah....

Blaster Master
08-09-2011, 02:59 PM
"Love," in humans is a biochemical bonding process. Is that what it is for God, or is it something else?

This may be your belief, but it's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Moreso, while there are certainly definitions of love that fit with what you describe, there are other definitions that don't at all. Particularly, considering that this is a thread that presupposes the existence of God, then any properties that one believes God has have to fit in here. So, if one believes in free will or is otherwise non-materialist, then giving a materialistic explanation as a counter argument is utterly silly.


That said, I don't believe love is a feeling at all, at least not the love that is refered to there. There are multiple words in the Bible that get translated to the English word love. As such, I'll give a simpler definition, that love is a choice to act in the best interest of the one that one loves without regard for how it may affect oneself. Of course, sometimes that means a personal sacrifice, but not always.

To that extent, to understand what God's love means is entirely based upon what we believe his motives for us as his creation is. Personally, I believe he means for us to learn and grow, as creation is an ongoing process, but it is also simply to be and to experience our existence, as creation is an art and art needs no greater purpose than to simply exist.

And to that end, I think Bricker's father analogy is quite apt, and I also think it's exactly why it's the analogy that God used to explain it to us. He has acted as a teacher and given us our lessons, we need to exercise our freewill to apply those lessons and learn from our own mistakes. I think he'll give us quite a bit of leeway for mistakes, but he's also been careful enough to set up our space so we won't accidentally walk into territory that will ultimately lead away from our end goal.

And also like a parent, our relationship with him, and in a way his love for us as well, changes over time. Not because he changes, but because we do. We're very much in the state right now that isn't all that different from straight up rebelion, thinking we can handle these things and figure out all the answers on our own. And I think the end lesson will be precisely that, well, we don't have all the answers.

Der Trihs
08-09-2011, 03:02 PM
Love isn't a chemical. Love like other emotions in a pattern of brain activity, which in humans is partly performed by chemicals. Anything with the same pattern ought to feel love, whether it is using brain chemistry, electrons, photons, or anything else to think with. So God or an AI ought to be able to feel love just fine if they have the right pattern of activity in their processing systems.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 03:03 PM
Is it possible to have a debate in this forum that assumes, for the purposes of the debate, the existence of God, and explores the different structures and models that "God's love" might have? Or is any such subject going to be derailed by the insistance that we cannot begin with such assumptions?
All I'm asking for is for people to define their terms.

Genesis says that God "breathed into Adam's nostril's the breath of life." If I was to ask what was meant by God's "breath," here, that question could not be answered literally. It's a metaphor. Accordingly, God's "love" cannot be literal either, so it either has to be a metaphor or just an anthropomorphic fantasy. You can probably guess what I think it is (given the historical, archaic context in which this theology was firmed) but assuming it's only a metaphor, what is it a metaphor [i[for[/i]?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 03:05 PM
And your definition of love is that it's chemical and without a brain we can't love. Yeah....
That's correct. God's "love" can't be identical to the human biological definition, so what is it?

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 03:12 PM
That's correct. God's "love" can't be identical to the human biological definition, so what is it?

It can't be? I think it can. Why can't God's love be the same love as a parent loves their kid or as a husband loves their wife or as a person loves an idea? Why can't it be on the same level as humans? I think it can. I think people can love people or ideas as much as God loves us. I think it can be the same amount of love and the same type of love.

So, when Christians say that God loves humanity, they are saying that God loves everyone the same way as a parent loves their kid, a husband loves his wife or wife loves husband or a person loves an idea. Love is a feeling and it cannot be defined in words or cannot be scientifically defined in an accurate way. There's no ONE definition for love. I think it would be more accurate to find instances that we cannot relate the word love to.

Der Trihs
08-09-2011, 03:20 PM
So, when Christians say that God loves humanity, they are saying that God loves everyone the same way as a parent loves their kid, a husband loves his wife or wife loves husband or a person loves an idea. Love is a feeling and it cannot be defined in words or cannot be scientifically defined in an accurate way. There's no ONE definition for love. Of course the problem with that is that God's alleged behavior doesn't begin to look like that. And yes; if you attribute a human characteristic like love to a god you can judge it by human standards.

The Second Stone
08-09-2011, 03:20 PM
The love and caring that people feel for each other is nothing but brain chemistry. There is nothing else to it. And spare me the sanctimony. I am fully aware of what it feels like. I love my wife and kids more than anything in this world, while simultaneously being aware that those feelings are chemical. It's not a diminshment or derogation of those emotions to simply point out the biochemical cause.

I suppose my inartful language could leave one with the implication that I was only talking about feelings. I was not. I intended to include actions also.

And in this thread we are definitely not talking about the love between you and your wife and kids. You need to re-read the OP and the answers with the thought in mind that we are talking about a topic you decline to acknowledge exists in reality or as a topic. This thread isn't about whether God exists, the OP, while happening to be an atheist, asked a serious question and got serious answers. The theists on this board understand that the atheists on this board don't think that there is a God. We get that. That isn't what this thread is about.

You posit that because the brain has feelings of love that what is there is nothing more than biochemical reactions. That is an abstraction of something very real that happens in most people. When brain science is along far enough, then all the chemicals and equations can be known and written somewhere. That will be a further abstraction. Someone can then point to the treatise and say "that treatise" is love. It isn't. What goes on in our heads and what actions that leads us to do are who we are, what we aspire to be and can be something far beyond particles interacting.

You don't buy any of that, and we get that you don't buy it. But that is not today's topic of conversation.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 03:21 PM
This may be your belief, but it's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
The dicussion can't be engaged in intelligently unless the therms are clearly defined.
Moreso, while there are certainly definitions of love that fit with what you describe, there are other definitions that don't at all.
Cite? Name a definition of "love" that isn't chemical.
Particularly, considering that this is a thread that presupposes the existence of God, then any properties that one believes God has have to fit in here. So, if one believes in free will or is otherwise non-materialist, then giving a materialistic explanation as a counter argument is utterly silly.
But attributing "love" to God is assigning a biological characteristic to a non-biological entity. That doesn't make sense. it doesn't get you out of the box to say "it's God," or "it's religious." That doesn't alter the fact that it's contradictory to say a non-biological figure can have a biological function.

That said, I don't believe love is a feeling at all, at least not the love that is refered to there. There are multiple words in the Bible that get translated to the English word love.
The revant one is agape, which basically means "compassion."
As such, I'll give a simpler definition, that love is a choice to act in the best interest of the one that one loves without regard for how it may affect oneself. Of course, sometimes that means a personal sacrifice, but not always.
This would be an inaccurate definition. Love is the feeling, not the action. The action can be motivated by the feeling, but the action without the feeling is not love.
To that extent, to understand what God's love means is entirely based upon what we believe his motives for us as his creation is. Personally, I believe he means for us to learn and grow, as creation is an ongoing process, but it is also simply to be and to experience our existence, as creation is an art and art needs no greater purpose than to simply exist.

And to that end, I think Bricker's father analogy is quite apt, and I also think it's exactly why it's the analogy that God used to explain it to us. He has acted as a teacher and given us our lessons
When did he gteach us anything or give us lessons?
we need to exercise our freewill to apply those lessons and learn from our own mistakes. I think he'll give us quite a bit of leeway for mistakes, but he's also been careful enough to set up our space so we won't accidentally walk into territory that will ultimately lead away from our end goal.
What does this mean, exactly? Nobody can walk away from God's goal? All actions are what God wants. it's not possible to sin?
And also like a parent, our relationship with him, and in a way his love for us as well, changes over time. Not because he changes, but because we do. We're very much in the state right now that isn't all that different from straight up rebelion, thinking we can handle these things and figure out all the answers on our own. And I think the end lesson will be precisely that, well, we don't have all the answers.
The Bible says we all have the same knowledge of right and wrong as God. is the bible wrong?

I don't really see how this kind of talks really gets at the meaning of God's "love," anyway. How is it different from God's non-existence? If we need "answers," then why hasn't God ever bothered to give them to us?

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 03:21 PM
Is it possible to have a debate in this forum that assumes, for the purposes of the debate, the existence of God, and explores the different structures and models that "God's love" might have?

You can certainly have such a debate with me. But I don't operate from the assumption that I'm right about everything or that Xtians are nincompoops.


Or is any such subject going to be derailed by the insistance that we cannot begin with such assumptions?

I would like to have the discussion in that sense.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 03:24 PM
It can't be?
Nope.
I think it can. Why can't God's love be the same love as a parent loves their kid or as a husband loves their wife or as a person loves an idea?
Because tjose are all biochemical cognitive/emotional responses, and God is not biological
So, when Christians say that God loves humanity, they are saying that God loves everyone the same way as a parent loves their kid, a husband loves his wife or wife loves husband or a person loves an idea.
So why doesn't he ever show it, and why does the Bible say God hates people?

Malthus
08-09-2011, 03:30 PM
That's correct. God's "love" can't be identical to the human biological definition, so what is it?

Just apply a variant of the Turing Test.

If you can't tell the difference between "love" when expressed by a person, a computer, or a god, over a long period of interactions ... then perhaps there is no real difference.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 03:31 PM
I suppose my inartful language could leave one with the implication that I was only talking about feelings. I was not. I intended to include actions also.
Love is only a feeling.
And in this thread we are definitely not talking about the love between you and your wife and kids. You need to re-read the OP and the answers with the thought in mind that we are talking about a topic you decline to acknowledge exists in reality or as a topic. This thread isn't about whether God exists, the OP, while happening to be an atheist, asked a serious question and got serious answers. The theists on this board understand that the atheists on this board don't think that there is a God. We get that. That isn't what this thread is about.
That's great since I never said anything about the existence or non-existence of God.
You posit that because the brain has feelings of love that what is there is nothing more than biochemical reactions.
All human cognitive processes are biochemical. That is a fact.
That is an abstraction of something very real that happens in most people.
It's not an abstraction at all, it's a blunt statement of hard fact. It's attributing these chemical processes to non-biological entities which is the abstraction.
What goes on in our heads and what actions that leads us to do are who we are, what we aspire to be and can be something far beyond particles interacting.
Cite?

Not that this has anything to with the basic (and completely fair) question of what it means to attribute a biological characteristic to God. It's a simple question.
[quote[You don't buy any of that, and we get that you don't buy it. But that is not today's topic of conversation.[/QUOTE]
All I'm asking is for Christians to define one simple term.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 03:33 PM
I said earlier that a father's love for his children was a useful model for the relationship I'm contending exists.

In what way is that insufficient?

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 03:43 PM
I said earlier that a father's love for his children was a useful model for the relationship I'm contending exists.

In what way is that insufficient?

I'll answer, though I think you're talking to Dio.

The problem I have with that statement is that I am not willing to concede that a father's love for his children is necessarily less passionate or more remote than a mother's. I know several men whom I judge to be excellent fathers who are the very opposite of detached when it comes to the fate and well-being.

I'll agree that a biological mother's love for her children tends to be more primal than a bio-father's, because there is a literal physical connection between mother and child that exists in no other human relationship. In my experience the average father has to learn to love his children in a way the average mother does not. But the Christian God's love for His children is thought to be more innate and basic than even a mother's love. Contrariwise, God is capable of a superior level of detachment because He can see the big picture and the future in a way mortals cannot.

I was a pretty crappy father. But I could never willingly have stood by as my son was persecuted in the manner of the early Christians. I'd have had to intervene, even if it meant my death. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Christians believe that God is able to countenance such things because He can see that the suffering of martyrs serves a greater purpose.

That's why I find the father analogy inapt.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 03:57 PM
I was a pretty crappy father. But I could never willingly have stood by as my son was persecuted in the manner of the early Christians. I'd have had to intervene, even if it meant my death. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Christians believe that God is able to countenance such things because He can see that the suffering of martyrs serves a greater purpose.

That's why I find the father analogy inapt.

So you would rush in and prevent the man from slicing open your son's skin with a sharp implement?

Even if the man was a surgeon and the slicing was the necessary first step in a life-saving operation?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 04:03 PM
I said earlier that a father's love for his children was a useful model for the relationship I'm contending exists.

In what way is that insufficient?
Abandoning my point about anthropomorphizing a physical process to God, it's also insufficient because a loving father doesn't hide from his children and refuse to ever speak to them, give them anything, support them in anyway or ever even reveal his own existence.

Blaster Master
08-09-2011, 04:04 PM
The dicussion can't be engaged in intelligently unless the therms are clearly defined.

They were clearly defined, you're trying to hijack a legitimate and interesting religious question with your anti-religious and materialistic stuff. My interpretation of the question was to explain what it means for God to love us, which means giving a definition of love and how God fulfills that. Obviously, different people with different beliefs will have different answers. Expecting everyone to have the same beliefs beforehand sort of defeats the point of the question posed by the OP.

Cite? Name a definition of "love" that isn't chemical.

I did, you even responded to it. But to make it more clear, if we presuppose the existence of God, then along with that comes the properties that the particular believer believes he has. I, for instance, believe in freewill and consider it a necessary part. I do agree that there are chemical aspects to it but, as I'm not a materialist, I don't believe that the chemical aspects are the sum total of what it means.

And your calling for a cite is completely ridiculous and I won't bother to honor it. To ask for a cite that religious people believe something has an explanation beyond the purely physical aspects that are examined by science is just... silly.

But attributing "love" to God is assigning a biological characteristic to a non-biological entity. That doesn't make sense. it doesn't get you out of the box to say "it's God," or "it's religious." That doesn't alter the fact that it's contradictory to say a non-biological figure can have a biological function.

If I accepted that love was an entirely biological process, then I would agree with you, but I don't agree with your definition, so your argument here is nonsense.

The revant one is agape, which basically means "compassion."

Yes, and that's precisely why I think that describing it as a chemical process is missing the point. God refers to his love as agape and he commands us to love others in this way. It was not philia or eros. I think the love that you describe as a chemical process would be best described by one of those, depending on the circumstances, but the love that God has for us and he commands us to have for others is not.

It seems to me that you're saying that all forms of love we have in English are necessarily the same thing because they use the same word, despite the fact that they have different words in the original Greek. Do you not think that it's reasonable that God can recognize that we have a type of love for our family and friends and a different type of love for him and for how he wants us to act toward others, and that one is chemically driven and the other is spiritually driven?

This would be an inaccurate definition. Love is the feeling, not the action. The action can be motivated by the feeling, but the action without the feeling is not love.

Again, I thoroughly disagree with this definition. I think it works for the other types of love, but it doesn't work for agape. You're arguing a strawman here by forcing a definition on us and then telling us it's inconsistent.

When did he gteach us anything or give us lessons?

You really have to ask this question of a Christian?

What does this mean, exactly? Nobody can walk away from God's goal? All actions are what God wants. it's not possible to sin?

In order to explain what I mean here I'd have to go into a pretty convoluted explanation that involves going through my defininitions of free will, omniscience, omnipotents, and a whole host of other things. I wouldn't mind doing it, but it's an unnecessary hijack. So instead, I'll just give sort of an example. God letting us do our thing is like a father letting his son go ride his bike, but telling him not to cross the big highway and to wear a helmet. The kid still very may likely fall off and skin his knee, or make a wrong turn and get lost for a little while, but he'll come out of it with some experiences and lessons.

It's much the same way for us. We have free will within the constraints of all the choices previously made. We're going to make mistakes, but we'll also learn from them. I don't think he's set up the space such that we'll somehow accidentally annihilate ourselves. We may even get arbitrarily close, but to allow that, as with any ongoing work of art, would be like randomly cutting a song or a film short.

The Bible says we all have the same knowledge of right and wrong as God. is the bible wrong?

I can't say I agree with that interpretation. What verses led you to this conclusion?

I don't really see how this kind of talks really gets at the meaning of God's "love," anyway. How is it different from God's non-existence? If we need "answers," then why hasn't God ever bothered to give them to us?

It is entirely different and he has. Your expectation of God to give us his message in a bright neon sign is akin to a child telling their parents to prove they love them by buying them a pony or a go-cart or something else like that. It really does work just like a parent-child relationship, whereas in our youth God simply gave us rules, later on he explained the reasons behind them, and as we are older we do a lot of our learning hands on.

Either way, it's presupposed for this thread that God exists, so arguing against God's existence is hijacking the thread.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 04:12 PM
So you would rush in and prevent the man from slicing open your son's skin with a sharp implement?

Even if the man was a surgeon and the slicing was the necessary first step in a life-saving operation?
What is the necessity for a 9 year old girl to be kidnapped, raped and buried alive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jessica_Lunsford)?

In point of fact, the word "necessary" cannot logically have any application to God in the first place. It is impossible for anything to be necessary for an omnimax being. So the argument that God allows anything out of "necessity" is a logical contradiction.

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 04:13 PM
So you would rush in and prevent the man from slicing open your son's skin with a sharp implement?

Even if the man was a surgeon and the slicing was the necessary first step in a life-saving operation?

That's not an apt analogy, because if my son was being operated on (which he was, several times), I would (did) know that it was for his benefit and that any pain he suffered was to further his individual interests. A better example would be if the surgeon were removing my son's heart, lungs, & liver to save the lives of four other persons. The Christian God is capable of making such a call, which I cannot.

(Please don't misinterpret the above as my calling Yahweh evil, by the way. I'm fully capable of doing so but that's not what I mean right now. I mean that Yahweh, as I understand the idea, operates on such a great scale that he can perceive the forest where men see only trees.)

Blaster Master
08-09-2011, 04:16 PM
I was a pretty crappy father. But I could never willingly have stood by as my son was persecuted in the manner of the early Christians. I'd have had to intervene, even if it meant my death. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Christians believe that God is able to countenance such things because He can see that the suffering of martyrs serves a greater purpose.

That's why I find the father analogy inapt.

I'll put a different spin on this than Bricker. Instead of comparing God's relationship with each individual to the father-son relationship, compare God's relationship to humanity to that instead. That is, our relationship with God inherently involves our relationships with everyone else.

So, yes, some individuals suffer; in fact, a great many individuals suffer, but relative to the whole of humanity, those sufferings are our injuries and scars that teach us those lessons. This is exactly why he wants us to love eachother in the same way he loves us.

Malthus
08-09-2011, 04:22 PM
That's not an apt analogy, because if my son was being operated on (which he was, several times), I would (did) know that it was for his benefit and that any pain he suffered was to further his individual interests. A better example would be if the surgeon were removing my son's heart, lungs, & liver to save the lives of four other persons. The Christian God is capable of making such a call, which I cannot.

(Please don't misinterpret the above as my calling Yahweh evil, by the way. I'm fully capable of doing so but that's not what I mean right now. I mean that Yahweh, as I understand the idea, operates on such a great scale that he can perceive the forest where men see only trees.)

For a Christian, I presume the answer would involve the notion that pain & suffering in the material world are temporary, transient things. God, being God, would have available an infinite and glorious existence for his creations in the afterlife (and of course the absolute certainty that such a thing exists). To such a being, merely bodily suffering would be a minor matter compared with an eternity of bliss or suffering; the analogy for martyrdom would be the mental anguish a high school kid experiences in studying for and writing exams - a good parent would not rush in to spare the child this pain, and thus preclude the child ever experiencing the accomplishment of passing.

This said - I don't actually believe in any god; I'm merely pointing out that, if religious promises are true, Christianity does not preclude a "loving" God because bad things happen to good people.

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 04:27 PM
What is the necessity for a 9 year old girl to be kidnapped, raped and buried alive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jessica_Lunsford)?

In point of fact, the word "necessary" cannot logically have any application to God in the first place. It is impossible for anything to be necessary for an omnimax being. So the argument that God allows anything out of "necessity" is a logical contradiction.

Omnimax means "simultaneously omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent." I am not convinced that the first two terms mean what you seem to claim they do (respectively, capable of doing anything that can be described in words, and consciously aware of all aspects of past, present, and future at all moments."

Omnipotent can mean sovereign--having authority and power over everything in a given framework. But to say that God is omnipotent is not to say that He can do "anything," because some things are self-contradictory. If God exists, not even he can make a square circle, because the conditions of squareness and circularity are inconsistent. If an omnipotent God exists He is nonetheless constrained by certain rules of logic. He is omnipotent in the sense that none are more powerful than He, that He can find a way to accomplish His objectives--not that he can make an unworkable plan work.

I'm not going to read your link; stories like that distress me. But one could argue that God judges it to be best that humans have free will, even though an unavoidable consequence of that is that humans will commit atrocities. Thus God's refraining from intervening to prevent such atrocities does not mean He is not omnipotent--just that He is omnipotent in a more coherent fashion than the word is typically used.

Some might argue that God's failure to intervene in such a fashion is a failure of benevolence. In fact I'd come close to doing just that, though more precisely I'd say that it indicates that God's love is quite difference from human love.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 04:31 PM
They were clearly defined
When? Show me the post.
you're trying to hijack a legitimate and interesting religious question with your anti-religious and materialistic stuff.
You're imagining things. I only asked for the definition of a term.


I did, you even responded to it.
What post was that?
If I accepted that love was an entirely biological process, then I would agree with you, but I don't agree with your definition, so your argument here is nonsense.
Cite that it has another definition?
Yes, and that's precisely why I think that describing it as a chemical process is missing the point. God refers to his love as agape and he commands us to love others in this way. It was not philia or eros. I think the love that you describe as a chemical process would be best described by one of those, depending on the circumstances, but the love that God has for us and he commands us to have for others is not.
No, it's ALL chemical process, including the empathic response which os agape. All brain function is chemical.
It seems to me that you're saying that all forms of love we have in English are necessarily the same thing because they use the same word, despite the fact that they have different words in the original Greek.The language is irrelevant. It's still all brain function and all brain function is chemical. There is no consciousness or sentience or feeling of any kind outside of biological processes.
Do you not think that it's reasonable that God can recognize that we have a type of love for our family and friends and a different type of love for him and for how he wants us to act toward others, and that one is chemically driven and the other is spiritually driven?
The word "spiritual" has no useful definition, and point is not that all those emotions are exactly the same, but that they're all equally [i[biological[/i].
You really have to ask this question of a Christian?
If a christian is going to assert that God "gave" me something or "taught" me something, it's perfectly fair for me to ask when that happened.
In order to explain what I mean here I'd have to go into a pretty convoluted explanation that involves going through my defininitions of free will, omniscience, omnipotents, and a whole host of other things. I wouldn't mind doing it, but it's an unnecessary hijack. So instead, I'll just give sort of an example. God letting us do our thing is like a father letting his son go ride his bike, but telling him not to cross the big highway and to wear a helmet. The kid still very may likely fall off and skin his knee, or make a wrong turn and get lost for a little while, but he'll come out of it with some experiences and lessons.

It's much the same way for us. We have free will within the constraints of all the choices previously made. We're going to make mistakes, but we'll also learn from them. I don't think he's set up the space such that we'll somehow accidentally annihilate ourselves. We may even get arbitrarily close, but to allow that, as with any ongoing work of art, would be like randomly cutting a song or a film short.
So the Holocaust was within God's allotted "space?" What will God NOT allow? what was the valuable lesson being taught to the 9 year old girl who was kidnapped from her home, repeatedly raped, then stuffed in two garbage bags and buried alive? No worse for the wear, you say? What would constitute worse for the wear?
I can't say I agree with that interpretation. What verses led you to this conclusion?
Genesis 3:22;

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
It is entirely different and he has. Your expectation of God to give us his message in a bright neon sign is akin to a child telling their parents to prove they love them by buying them a pony or a go-cart or something else like that. It really does work just like a parent-child relationship, whereas in our youth God simply gave us rules, later on he explained the reasons behind them, and as we are older we do a lot of our learning hands on.
When did God give us rules? Cite? Where are these rules?

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-09-2011, 04:33 PM
So you would rush in and prevent the man from slicing open your son's skin with a sharp implement?

Even if the man was a surgeon and the slicing was the necessary first step in a life-saving operation?If I were omnipotent, you bet your sweet bippy I would.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 04:39 PM
I'm not going to read your link; stories like that distress me. But one could argue that God judges it to be best that humans have free will, even though an unavoidable consequence of that is that humans will commit atrocities. Thus God's refraining from intervening to prevent such atrocities does not mean He is not omnipotent--just that He is omnipotent in a more coherent fashion than the word is typically used.
The free will argument is bullshit for several reasons, for one, free will is a logical impossibility in the first place, for another, the assertion that free will is important lacks support, and most significantly, God has the option of only creating people he knows will freely choose good.

It also doesn't address God's own evil - stuff like childhood leukemia and tsunamis.

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 04:40 PM
The free will argument is bullshit for several reasons, for one, free will is a logical impossibility in the first place, for another, the assertion that free will is important lacks support, and most significantly, God has the option of only creating people he knows will freely choose good.

It also doesn't address God's own evil - stuff like childhood leukemia and tsunamis.

Seriously, dude, why are you in this thread?

OneMissedPost
08-09-2011, 04:42 PM
Seriously, dude, why are you in this thread?

I was wondering the same thing.

Czarcasm
08-09-2011, 04:45 PM
I'll put a different spin on this than Bricker. Instead of comparing God's relationship with each individual to the father-son relationship, compare God's relationship to humanity to that instead. That is, our relationship with God inherently involves our relationships with everyone else.

So, yes, some individuals suffer; in fact, a great many individuals suffer, but relative to the whole of humanity, those sufferings are our injuries and scars that teach us those lessons. This is exactly why he wants us to love eachother in the same way he loves us.Some of are here to learn his lessons, while some of us are here to be merely tools for his lessons?

Der Trihs
08-09-2011, 04:58 PM
Abandoning my point about anthropomorphizing a physical process to God, it's also insufficient because a loving father doesn't hide from his children and refuse to ever speak to them, give them anything, support them in anyway or ever even reveal his own existence.Yes. God fails the "Turing test for love", his claimed behavior and observed inaction simply don't fit the label "love".

I'll put a different spin on this than Bricker. Instead of comparing God's relationship with each individual to the father-son relationship, compare God's relationship to humanity to that instead. That is, our relationship with God inherently involves our relationships with everyone else.

So, yes, some individuals suffer; in fact, a great many individuals suffer, but relative to the whole of humanity, those sufferings are our injuries and scars that teach us those lessons. This is exactly why he wants us to love eachother in the same way he loves us.
:dubious: That's pretty horrifying actually. God wants us, like him, to treat individual people as expendable, to ignore their suffering "for the greater good"? This is desirable? And we're supposed to think that what is important is humanity as a mass - which doesn't actually think or feel anything.

Blaster Master
08-09-2011, 05:31 PM
When? Show me the post.

They were clearly defined in the OP.

You're imagining things. I only asked for the definition of a term.

No, you gave your own definition and assert that no other definition works. That's not asking for a defintion at all.


What post was that?

Umm... in the very post you quoted. I gave my definition.

Cite that it has another definition?

Seriously, what kind of a ridiculous question is this to ask me to cite my beliefs in a thread asking about people's beliefs. Next thing I know, you'll ask me for a cite proving I believe in God.

No, it's ALL chemical process, including the empathic response which os agape. All brain function is chemical.

You can assert that all you want, but it doesn't make it true nor will it change my beliefs. Again, and for the last time, I am NOT a materialist, so giving me a materialistic explanation and then insisting it is the only one is just ridiculous. If you want to insist that's the only definition, then I don't know why you're bothering to participate in this thread at all since you are unwilling to consider the topic at hand, love, in the context at hand, religion.

The language is irrelevant. It's still all brain function and all brain function is chemical. There is no consciousness or sentience or feeling of any kind outside of biological processes.

The language is entirely relevant. You're being intellectually dishonest by treating them as the same thing. Hell, even in English most people recognize that love is such an ambiguous word and they have to clarify it like "love you like a brother/sister". But I'll post it to you differently.

If God wanted us to love him like we love our family and friends, considering that there was a perfectly good word for that in Greek, wouldn't he have used that word? Clearly, there is a meaningful difference in the contexts in which they're used and so to say they're all exactly the same thing is to completely gloss over that fact.

The word "spiritual" has no useful definition, and point is not that all those emotions are exactly the same, but that they're all equally [i[biological[/i].

Spiritual has a perfectly useful definition. That you're a materialist and don't believe in things that are spiritual doesn't make them unuseful concepts.

If a christian is going to assert that God "gave" me something or "taught" me something, it's perfectly fair for me to ask when that happened.

And "long division" was "taught" in third grade, and arguing that just because you don't know it that it wasn't "taught" doesn't mean that the lesson wasn't there, it just means that you didn't learn it. You can disagree about the quality of the lesson or that it's ambiguous or whatever, but obviously the other kids learned it some how, so acting as if it was never "taught", you're only fooling yourself.

And, FTR, I wasn't asking you why you were asking it because it was unfair, I was asking because it looked like a gotcha question, and it apparently was.

So the Holocaust was within God's allotted "space?" What will God NOT allow? what was the valuable lesson being taught to the 9 year old girl who was kidnapped from her home, repeatedly raped, then stuffed in two garbage bags and buried alive? No worse for the wear, you say? What would constitute worse for the wear?

Ah, a Godwinization of the thread, how droll. And then again pushing with this 9yo rape thing. You've completely misunderstood my point. I'll be honest, I think you're deliberately misinterpretting my point, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and try again.

Simply put, our relationship with God isn't a 1 to 1 as individual to God, but 1 to 1 as in humanity to God. Humanity is in this sense a single entity. To go "OMG look at this horrible thing that happened to these people" is to completely miss this point.

To give an analogy, consider an individual akin to the human body. Cells die and are reborn constantly without notice. We do notice when some die prematurely with, say, an injury. Hell, some of those injuries can be quite serious. But like many injuries we encounter every day, we likely had a lesson to learn or simply ignored a lesson we should have already learned.

And so, yes, the holocaust was a horrible thing but we also learned some important lessons from it. Of course it would have been great to have learned those lessons without something so serious, but if we had learned it before, we never would have walked into that.

The reason I think you struggle with this concept is because you're a materialist and you see our individuality as absolute. I don't see it like that at all, that our perception of individuality is, for lack of a better term, an illusion. I believe we are connected in a way beyond the material world, be it our souls or whatever term you want to give it. Of course I regret the loss of life, particularly in horrific ways, but I also believe that we are more than the sum of our parts and as a whole we add up to something more.

Genesis 3:22;

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

I had a feeling this would be the quote you would offer and your interpretation isn't remotely fair. It doesn't say we have the same knowledge of what is good and evil, only that we have knowledge of it. For example, a layman may have knowledge of general relativity, but it doesn't mean he can solve relativistic equations like a theoretical physicist could.

My personal interpretation of that verse is that it marks the point in our evolution that we had achieved the ability to make decisions other than those dictated by instinct and that we were able to judge actions based upon moral decision. However, that we recognize that good and evil exist and can point out examples of what is clearly good and what is clearly evil doesn't mean we have complete knowledge of that space.

That is part of the growth and learning process. We recognize that good and evil exist but there's still plenty more to learn about exactly how to guide all of our actions.

When did God give us rules? Cite? Where are these rules?

Seriously? If you want to attack Christianity, this isn't the thread to do it in. Otherwise, you know exactly where to look.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 05:43 PM
I don't really want to fight another round of heathens vs. theists. My understanding was that the OP had asked for theists to respond, and wanted a thread in the context of a theistic understanding of God. I'll leave the remaining particpants to it.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-09-2011, 06:07 PM
I don't really want to fight another round of heathens vs. theists. My understanding was that the OP had asked for theists to respond, and wanted a thread in the context of a theistic understanding of God. I'll leave the remaining particpants to it.
Sorry--for my part I was mostly just reading along, but failed my will save vs. replying to your question. I do find the basic idea of the thread to be interesting and find the folks questioning the premise to be really irritating threadshitters.

Skald, totally not trying to junior-mod here, but is this is GD because you're interested in a debate of some sort? or is it because you're effectively asking people to witness? Are questions of theodicy and the problem of evil appropriate within the thread?

PandaBear77
08-09-2011, 06:11 PM
Check your PMs, OP. I'm not answering in the thread, too much threadshitting going on.

Skald the Rhymer
08-09-2011, 06:14 PM
I don't really want to fight another round of heathens vs. theists. My understanding was that the OP had asked for theists to respond, and wanted a thread in the context of a theistic understanding of God. I'll leave the remaining particpants to it.

Your understanding is exactly correct, Bricker. I'm not interested in getting into a theist versus atheist argument either. I was asking people specifically for their understanding of their faith. I understand why you might decide to bow out, and I hope nothing I have written has contributed to that.

Sorry--for my part I was mostly just reading along, but failed my will save vs. replying to your question. I do find the basic idea of the thread to be interesting and find the folks questioning the premise to be really irritating threadshitters.

Skald, totally not trying to junior-mod here, but is this is GD because you're interested in a debate of some sort? or is it because you're effectively asking people to witness? Are questions of theodicy and the problem of evil appropriate within the thread?

While I'm not interested in contributing to the spread of Christianity OR atheism -- of anything but civil conversation, in fact --I put this thread in GD because the question I wished to have answered was effectively equivalent to asking people to witness about their faith.

Frankly I'm vexed that people insisted on bringing theodicy into it. It would be as if I had entered the ongoing thread about the tenth anniversary of the Lord of the Rings movies simply to say that I think they suck. Which is true, but I've said so 183,955 times on the boards, and doing so again is hardly conducive to a pleasant conversation about the movies, just as insisting on taking the thread in a direction explicitly ruled out by the OP is not conducive to civil discourse.

Check your PMs, OP. I'm not answering in the thread, too much threadshitting going on.

Nothing in my PMs as of yet.

PandaBear77
08-09-2011, 06:28 PM
There is now :)

Marley23
08-09-2011, 06:28 PM
Take all discussions related to the existence of gods, godly evil, free will, and the biological basis of love to another thread immediately. They're all hijacks here.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-09-2011, 07:54 PM
Frankly I'm vexed that people insisted on bringing theodicy into it. It would be as if I had entered the ongoing thread about the tenth anniversary of the Lord of the Rings movies simply to say that I think they suck. Which is true, but I've said so 183,955 times on the boards, and doing so again is hardly conducive to a pleasant conversation about the movies, just as insisting on taking the thread in a direction explicitly ruled out by the OP is not conducive to civil discourse.
I don't think that's a good comparison, since theodicy goes directly to the question of what the love of an omnimax deity could mean.

However, if you're looking for witnessing without debating, I think that's a fair thing to ask for. Maybe better suited for IMHO?

At any rate, I'll just read from this point forward.

Czarcasm
08-09-2011, 09:22 PM
However, if you're looking for witnessing without debating, I think that's a fair thing to ask for. Maybe better suited for IMHO?Witnessing belongs in Great Debates.

Bricker
08-09-2011, 09:34 PM
Take all discussions related to the existence of gods, godly evil, free will, and the biological basis of love to another thread immediately. They're all hijacks here.

Excellent.

The air having been thus cleared, I'll be happy to continue this discussion.

To return to my surgeon analogy, Skald, you suggested that you couldn't stand by and watch your child suffer without intervening. But of course you could -- you might even hold your child down as he struggled to avoid poison being pumped into his veins -- if that poison was chemotherapy, making him feel sick but designed to kill the cancer faster than it killed him. You'd do this because you understand, as he does not, that the effect of not taking chemo may be feeling better in the short run but disastrous in the long run.

So, too, do I contend God acts -- allowing short term bad to happen because it's necessary for longer-term good.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 11:19 PM
nm posted before I saw the mod note.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 11:20 PM
I don't really want to fight another round of heathens vs. theists. My understanding was that the OP had asked for theists to respond, and wanted a thread in the context of a theistic understanding of God. I'll leave the remaining particpants to it.
All I did was ask for explication of the terms theists were using.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 11:21 PM
Take all discussions related to the existence of gods, godly evil, free will, and the biological basis of love to another thread immediately. They're all hijacks here.
The definition of "love" is the very heart of the topic.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 11:23 PM
Check your PMs, OP. I'm not answering in the thread, too much threadshitting going on.
There has been no threadshitting.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-09-2011, 11:26 PM
Excellent.

The air having been thus cleared, I'll be happy to continue this discussion.

To return to my surgeon analogy, Skald, you suggested that you couldn't stand by and watch your child suffer without intervening. But of course you could -- you might even hold your child down as he struggled to avoid poison being pumped into his veins -- if that poison was chemotherapy, making him feel sick but designed to kill the cancer faster than it killed him. You'd do this because you understand, as he does not, that the effect of not taking chemo may be feeling better in the short run but disastrous in the long run.

So, too, do I contend God acts -- allowing short term bad to happen because it's necessary for longer-term good.
What was necessary about letting a 9 year old girl be kidnapped, raped and buried alive. When they dug up her body, she was still hugging a stuffed animal. How could that possibly have been necessary, especially for an entity for whom necessity can't possibly exist. It is logically impossible for suffering to be necessary, so that answer can't ever work.

Marley23
08-09-2011, 11:57 PM
The definition of "love" is the very heart of the topic.
I didn't say anything about the definition of love. I was talking about your argument about the biological basis of love. You've made your point and if you want to continue discussing it, you need to start a new thread.

OneMissedPost
08-10-2011, 12:00 AM
The definition of "love" is the very heart of the topic.

Seriously....

You just don't get it.

You're not paying attention to the debate at all.

We understand your point already!

The debate is not about whether or not love is merely biological.

This is not a scientific debate.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 12:03 AM
I didn't say anything about the definition of love. I was talking about your argument about the biological basis of love.
I don't understand this distinction. The definition IS biological. There is no OTHER definition. How can it be defined non-biologically? That's a perfectly fair question and perfectly on topic. it's not a hijack just because the Christians can't answer it (or because it's me asking it).

Marley23
08-10-2011, 12:13 AM
I don't understand this distinction. The definition IS biological. There is no OTHER definition. How can it be defined non-biologically?
I'm just moderating this debate and I'm not going to get dragged into the argument. We know what your opinion is, and it's just as obvious that other people have a different opinion. If you want to argue with them about whether or not love and cognitive functions can exist without brain chemicals, then you need to start a new thread. That also applies to the tangents about the existence of gods, evil, and free will. That means you shouldn't post any more about them in this thread, and if anyone wants to respond to what you've posted, they should start a new thread and not answer here.

I'm not moderating your question about why a god would allow suffering (like what you asked in post 71) because that's obviously relevant to the main topic. If you have other questions about what I'm telling you to do, you need to start a thread in ATMB or send me a private message rather than asking in this thread.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 12:19 AM
OK, Marley. I'll drop it.

Meatros
08-10-2011, 07:20 AM
What was necessary about letting a 9 year old girl be kidnapped, raped and buried alive. When they dug up her body, she was still hugging a stuffed animal. How could that possibly have been necessary, especially for an entity for whom necessity can't possibly exist. It is logically impossible for suffering to be necessary, so that answer can't ever work.

This reminds me of the problem of pointless suffering that Lowder brings up in a debate. One could say that some pain is useful in teaching us lessons. It's hard to see why all pain/suffering is useful.

It seems to me that, to use Lowder's example, the suffering a person dieing of ebola goes through is completely without justification. Why does the person have to spend the final days in agony? If there is a loving entity out there that cares about us, why hasn't he built in a process that simply shuts off our pain receptors in such cases?

The suffering is not going to make the person better, they are dieing.

Meatros
08-10-2011, 07:21 AM
I think my response is related to the problem of pain - it's teetering on the topic of love, I feel, but I'm not sure how the mods would feel, so I'll leave it up. If it's teetered too far, I won't elaborate further.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 07:47 AM
What was necessary about letting a 9 year old girl be kidnapped, raped and buried alive. When they dug up her body, she was still hugging a stuffed animal. How could that possibly have been necessary, especially for an entity for whom necessity can't possibly exist. It is logically impossible for suffering to be necessary, so that answer can't ever work.

What does a child understand about cancer, especially cancer that has yet to affect the child physically? The child might say, "How can it possibly be necessary to inject chemicals into my body that make me feel sick, and lose my hair, and vomit, when I feel perfectly fine without them?"

You, as the parent, understand things that the child cannot. You might explain to the child that there's a bad thing inside their body... but the child doesn't really understand or grasp this.

Now we turn to your demands -- you demand to know the necessity of the terrible things that happened to a nine year old girl. But you wouldn't -- in fact, you cannot -- understand or comprehend the answer. So you're in the same position as the cancer-suffering child is: you demand answers that you cannot understand, but if you could understand them, you would know why such horrors are necessary.

That's the model I am contending is proper to understand God's love. Please note I'm not talking here about the accuracy or underlying truth of the model. I'm answering the OP's question. I'm sure whether God really has a plan that surpasseth understanding will be a wonderful debate topic for another thread. Here, I'm providing that concept as the answer to the question about how God's love should be perceived.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-10-2011, 07:52 AM
Genuinely trying to understand here, Bricker: do you propose this as a model of the love of an omnipotent being? If so, do you maybe conceive of omnipotence differently from how I do?

To extend your analogy, if I were omnipotent, my child wouldn't get cancer in the first place. But if he did, I'd cure him instantly and painlessly.

Is this not the sort of omnipotence you believe God has?

kanicbird
08-10-2011, 08:11 AM
What was necessary about letting a 9 year old girl be kidnapped, raped and buried alive. When they dug up her body, she was still hugging a stuffed animal. How could that possibly have been necessary, especially for an entity for whom necessity can't possibly exist. It is logically impossible for suffering to be necessary, so that answer can't ever work.

Here is my take on this. God is able and often takes people out of their suffering though we can not see it. He lessens it on the person going through it. In scriptures there is a great deal of some people experiencing things that others do not and a lot of suffering that a person should have experienced that God shielded them from.

In this case God sent His daughter into this world, the powers of this world (AKA Satan), went to destroy her. God did allow it in this case, but IMHO providing her with needed protection from torment during that time, and in the end world forces could not have her give up on Love and hope as we see her hugging the stuffed animal. It is very possible that God could have created a real soul in that animal to comfort her.

Yes her body was destroyed but her soul was freed of this evil place, and God won as she didn't give up on God.

In Job we can see the battle for God's children, who will have them, Satan or God. The children that Satan gets are the people who seek to control others, without love in their heart, the ones that torment and kill others as you expressed. The ones that destroy.

Also in Job, who is one who experienced suffering, we see the point of suffering, to show us our error that we would never have learned any other way (Job repented in the end). I believe any suffering God does not block and allows us to experience is only the suffering we need to realize our error, in other words God blocks all unnecessary suffering.

Eventually all that destroy will be destroyed and learn that the choice they made (to be evil) was wrong, and effects of karma (scripturally you reap what you sow) means that eventually they will not be strong enough to stay evil, and have to request that God takes custody over them instead of Satan.

So all children will be saved, it's just a matter of how long they can resist God and stay evil.

But for the little children of God such as this girl IMHO she didn't suffer what we saw and assumed she did, for if she did God would be a monster, and that's not the God I worship. My evidence of a good God is her still hugging that bear, her innocence was never taken.

Meatros
08-10-2011, 08:11 AM
What does a child understand about cancer, especially cancer that has yet to affect the child physically? The child might say, "How can it possibly be necessary to inject chemicals into my body that make me feel sick, and lose my hair, and vomit, when I feel perfectly fine without them?"

You, as the parent, understand things that the child cannot. You might explain to the child that there's a bad thing inside their body... but the child doesn't really understand or grasp this.

Now we turn to your demands -- you demand to know the necessity of the terrible things that happened to a nine year old girl. But you wouldn't -- in fact, you cannot -- understand or comprehend the answer. So you're in the same position as the cancer-suffering child is: you demand answers that you cannot understand, but if you could understand them, you would know why such horrors are necessary.

That's the model I am contending is proper to understand God's love. Please note I'm not talking here about the accuracy or underlying truth of the model. I'm answering the OP's question. I'm sure whether God really has a plan that surpasseth understanding will be a wonderful debate topic for another thread. Here, I'm providing that concept as the answer to the question about how God's love should be perceived.

This is begging the question - you are presupposing there is an answer to this pain. Now, you are doing this because you (presumably) believe some version of the Bible's account. So, again, presumably, you have a criteria that would satisfy the burden of proof.

God could still exist, mind you, but that doesn't necessarily justify any of this. Perhaps God doesn't care, perhaps God doesn't have the power, or perhaps God had to cut a deal with the ultimate evil to allow such suffering, or perhaps God is evil (as Stephen Law argues via the problem of the good).

Further, the cancer example is a bad comparison - since the intent is to get the child better. Was the rape and murder intended to get the child better? It's logically possible that it somehow is, but I cannot see anyway to justify it. I think it's more probable that there is no justification. It seems borderline ludicrous to me to think there is one just because it's logically possible that there is one.

Again, I do not believe this justifies the actual suffering. To turn back to the cancer example, if we had it in our power to develop a medicine that did all the same things, yet the child felt no pain, we would certainly do that. In fact, it seems to me to be more moral to give the child the medicine that did not include the pain if possible. Yet, this is exactly the scenario that God is in. God could have created us to 'turn off' pain and suffering when there was no hope of survival. In the case of the person ravaged by ebola, God could have made our bodies as such that during the last few days we experienced no pain at all.

In the end, for me, I don't think that 'it's possible there is a reason' is very good. I think that it's simply more rational to take it at face value.

Meatros
08-10-2011, 08:15 AM
Plus, let's suppose God does have a reason.

Why doesn't he comfort us? To extend this to the father analogy, the child may not understand why the pain is important, but the father is there to hold the child, to comfort the child, and to reassure that the pain is important.

God provides none of this to modern sufferers.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 08:31 AM
What does a child understand about cancer, especially cancer that has yet to affect the child physically? The child might say, "How can it possibly be necessary to inject chemicals into my body that make me feel sick, and lose my hair, and vomit, when I feel perfectly fine without them?"

You, as the parent, understand things that the child cannot. You might explain to the child that there's a bad thing inside their body... but the child doesn't really understand or grasp this.

Now we turn to your demands -- you demand to know the necessity of the terrible things that happened to a nine year old girl. But you wouldn't -- in fact, you cannot -- understand or comprehend the answer. So you're in the same position as the cancer-suffering child is: you demand answers that you cannot understand, but if you could understand them, you would know why such horrors are necessary.

That's the model I am contending is proper to understand God's love. Please note I'm not talking here about the accuracy or underlying truth of the model. I'm answering the OP's question. I'm sure whether God really has a plan that surpasseth understanding will be a wonderful debate topic for another thread. Here, I'm providing that concept as the answer to the question about how God's love should be perceived.
The "mysterious ways" defense is no defense at all. Once more, it is logically impossible for God to require suffering, or require any means to any end. Saying I can't comprehend the necessity misses the point that there can't logically BE any necessity.

Incidentally, aren't you also saying that the perpetrator of the crimes against that child was literally doing God's work? Is that what you mean to say? That's God showing his love, is it?

Bricker
08-10-2011, 08:33 AM
Plus, let's suppose God does have a reason.

Why doesn't he comfort us? To extend this to the father analogy, the child may not understand why the pain is important, but the father is there to hold the child, to comfort the child, and to reassure that the pain is important.

God provides none of this to modern sufferers.

There are two answers to this. First is that to those with faith in God, your statement is untrue. God IS there to comfort us and reassure us that whatever is happening is part of His plan, and thus important.

The second is that just as we might imagine an immune-compromised child whose father cannot even hold him, there are good reasons that God cannot do this for those that do not believe. Again, you don't know - can't - know them.

Every time you ask, "Why doesn't God...?" the answer can be, "Because of a reason you don't know, and lack the capacity to even grasp."

Where were you when God created the world? Tell me, if you have understanding, what were the methods and measurements used? Have you ever, in your life, commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?

It is not fatal to this model to say, "Why doesn't God do such-and-so?" because it suggests that you could understand the reasoning of a being such as God.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 08:34 AM
It's logically impossible for there to be a reason.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 08:35 AM
The "mysterious ways" defense is no defense at all. Once more, it is logically impossible for God to require suffering, or require any means to any end. Saying I can't comprehend the necessity misses the point that there can't logically BE any necessity.

Irrelevant. Not what the OP is asking. Not going to answer this point. The mere fact that you can't follow the logic doesn't mean anything. If the child said, "Logically, there's no reason to give me chemotherapy," how convincing a claim would that be?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 08:35 AM
I think you are the one who is not following the logic.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-10-2011, 08:50 AM
there are good reasons that God cannot do this for those that do not believe.
Ahh--that phrase "God cannot" strongly suggests to me that you're not understanding omnipotence in the way that I am. I wonder if you'd elaborate?

Meatros
08-10-2011, 09:06 AM
There are two answers to this. First is that to those with faith in God, your statement is untrue. God IS there to comfort us and reassure us that whatever is happening is part of His plan, and thus important.

What do you mean by this? When you say that God IS there to comfort you, are you saying you physically see him? Are you saying you feel him in your gut? I'm not trying to get into a 'scientific evidence' argument here - but I'm just not certain what you mean.

It seems to me that people believe that what is occurring is part of God's plan, but that is different from God being there and reassuring you that it is part of the plan.

Are you suggesting that all believers experience this 'experience' of God being there for them when they are in pain? If not, is it because they are not 'true' fill-in-the-blanks?

The second is that just as we might imagine an immune-compromised child whose father cannot even hold him, there are good reasons that God cannot do this for those that do not believe. Again, you don't know - can't - know them.

This is where the analogy starts to fray, IMO. Maybe the father can't physically touch the child - the father can still be seen by the child. The father can still interact with the child. Etc, etc.

I don't know that there ARE good reasons for those that do not believe - but for now, we can table that discussion.

I still think that this misses the point of unnecessary pain - such as the ebola example. It seems to me that this would be the equivalent of the father giving the child medicine with the intent to hurt the child, with no conceivable benefit to the child, since the child will die as a result of the medicine.

Every time you ask, "Why doesn't God...?" the answer can be, "Because of a reason you don't know, and lack the capacity to even grasp."

Perhaps, but if so, then it seems rational for me to believe there is no answer. The best I can do is evaluate the situation based on the evidence presented. If 'I can't conceive it' is the best there is, then it seems reasonable for me to believe that:

1. Either God doesn't exist.
or
2. God doesn't love us.


Where were you when God created the world? Tell me, if you have understanding, what were the methods and measurements used? Have you ever, in your life, commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?

It is not fatal to this model to say, "Why doesn't God do such-and-so?" because it suggests that you could understand the reasoning of a being such as God.

You realize that God's answer to Job was not an actual answer, right?

Further, the book of Job seems to indicate that all was forgiven and Job was 'made right' by getting new wives, children, etc.

Which hardly seems a justification for a bet with Satan.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 09:17 AM
Ahh--that phrase "God cannot" strongly suggests to me that you're not understanding omnipotence in the way that I am. I wonder if you'd elaborate?

Sure. God gives us free will.

If we have free will, then there are some things God cannot do - not as a matter of power, but as a matter of voluntary limitation.

The government has the power to break down your door and search your underwear drawer. We say they cannot, though, as a way of expressing our understanding that the Constitution limits their actions. That does not mean the muscles and the battering rams don't exist.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 09:21 AM
What do you mean by this? When you say that God IS there to comfort you, are you saying you physically see him? Are you saying you feel him in your gut? I'm not trying to get into a 'scientific evidence' argument here - but I'm just not certain what you mean.

Of the two choices, I think 'feel Him in my gut' is the best answer.


Are you suggesting that all believers experience this 'experience' of God being there for them when they are in pain? If not, is it because they are not 'true' fill-in-the-blanks?


Not at all. I'm sharing what my experience is.

Perhaps, but if so, then it seems rational for me to believe there is no answer. The best I can do is evaluate the situation based on the evidence presented. If 'I can't conceive it' is the best there is, then it seems reasonable for me to believe that:

1. Either God doesn't exist.
or
2. God doesn't love us.


Of course. Given your experience, it IS rational for you to believe there is no answer. My experience is not yours; you'd be foolish to form a conclusion based on my relaying my own subjective experience.

You realize that God's answer to Job was not an actual answer, right?

Further, the book of Job seems to indicate that all was forgiven and Job was 'made right' by getting new wives, children, etc.

Which hardly seems a justification for a bet with Satan.

Hardly seems a justification to you.

How many people over the years were convinced, in whole or in part, by reading Job's story? How many will be in the future? What value do you assign to those people in reaching your conclusion?

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-10-2011, 09:24 AM
Sure. God gives us free will.
Okay. Is that--and, of course, a limitation on performing logically impossible tasks--the only limits you ascribe to God's omnipotence? Or do you allow that there may be other, defined or undefined, limits to God's power?

The reason I ask is that certain things in the world (the phenomenon of infants born with agonizing, terminal deformities, for example) seem incompatible with the sort of love you ascribe to a God that has the power to prevent those from happening. I can't see how Free Will explains such phenomena.

Certainly it's conceivable that there's an entity who can understand reasons I cannot. But until He enters this thread, I'm talking to you, not Him :). In other words, how is your explanation of God's love as akin to Fatherly love deal with such phenomena?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 09:36 AM
Sure. God gives us free will.

If we have free will, then there are some things God cannot do - not as a matter of power, but as a matter of voluntary limitation.

The government has the power to break down your door and search your underwear drawer. We say they cannot, though, as a way of expressing our understanding that the Constitution limits their actions. That does not mean the muscles and the battering rams don't exist.
The Free Will defense fails miserably for reasons I've already elaborated. Leaving aside the fact that free will is a logically incoherent impossibility, there is also the fact that God can choose to create only people who will freely choose good. The free will defense is incompatible with God's omniscience, Furthermore, what's so fucking important about free will?

Meatros
08-10-2011, 09:42 AM
Of the two choices, I think 'feel Him in my gut' is the best answer.

I did not meant to limit your choices - if that choice is unsatisfactory, I implore you to elaborate on it or change it.

It seems to me that such a response is not quite as convincing as the physical response of an actual father with his child. In other words, out of the two - a father physically there to comfort his child and a feeling in the gut of God comforting you, it seems to me that the father physically being there is superior. Maybe you could argue that they are equal, I suppose.

In either case, this is odd, considering that God is vastly superior to the father in every conceivable way.

It also brings into consideration the problem of even having to make the comparison at all. Surely God would be at the child's side, comforting him in addition to the biological father, right?

So why do we have to comfort our children at all? Why, when we do comfort them, do they not always say something to the effect of 'it's okay daddy, God has assured me that this pain is necessary'?

Not at all. I'm sharing what my experience is.

Okay, so you are unaware of other individual's experiences, right? They may or may not receive the same treatment that you have experience - you don't know(I'm not trying to be confrontation here, it just seems to me that this element might now be off the table in our discussion).

Now, you may extend this answer to the following question:

Do all children going through pain/suffering/etc have this experience of God (or a similar one)?

By children, I mean under whatever age of accountability you feel is rational to accept (supposing there is one, of course).


Of course. Given your experience, it IS rational for you to believe there is no answer. My experience is not yours; you'd be foolish to form a conclusion based on my relaying my own subjective experience.

Fair enough.

Hardly seems a justification to you.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'd think his original wife and child would agree with me. I'd also like to think that Job was the sort of man who would not be happy with a replacement child - that he would still be devastated by the loss of the original children.

How many people over the years were convinced, in whole or in part, by reading Job's story? How many will be in the future? What value do you assign to those people in reaching your conclusion?

Convinced of what, exactly? There are more explanations of evil in the bible then Job's account. Further, Job's account is that we are unable to understand the purpose of suffering, it isn't an explanation of why there is suffering, per say.

The way I view it is this:

Some people believe in God. Most people believe that evil/suffering/pain are a problem for an omnimax God. The only way out of this problem is to stipulate that there must be a reason for it.

For people who already believe in God, this is enough. For people who don't, it isn't.

BTW - thank you for engaging with me - I realize that it's not easy to be on the 'hot seat' even if you have good reasons for your position.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 09:45 AM
The Free Will defense fails miserably for reasons I've already elaborated. Leaving aside the fact that free will is a logically incoherent impossibility, there is also the fact that God can choose to create only people who will freely choose good. The free will defense is incompatible with God's omniscience, Furthermore, what's so fucking important about free will?

None of these questions are relevant to the question the OP asked. I am declining to answer any of them.

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 09:52 AM
Of the two choices, I think 'feel Him in my gut' is the best answer.
What do you say to people who feel Krishna in their guts?
Not at all. I'm sharing what my experience is.



Of course. Given your experience, it IS rational for you to believe there is no answer. My experience is not yours; you'd be foolish to form a conclusion based on my relaying my own subjective experience.
This is the standard default for believers who are really challenged to provide evidence that God ever communicates with anybody. "I just know it in my heart." Not much of an answer, is it? You certainly can't use it to argue that God has ever communicated with ME, so does that mean God doesn't love me. Are you going to give me your circular argument that I have to believe first? You're aware that belief is not volitional, aren't you? It's not a choice.

And hasn't it ever occurred to you that you might be deluding yourself that God is comforting you? How do you know you aren't? Do the logical problems with your beliefs never give you pause?
Hardly seems a justification to you.
It's not even an attempt justification, period. God does not attempt to justify himself in the story, just asserts (without the slightest justification) that Job has no right to ask for any justification.

Incidentally, people seem to forget that the story DOES tell us the reason that God fucked with Job (which included murdering his children, by the way). It wasn't for any ineffable, mysterious, greater good. It was to win a bet with Satan. Then when called on his bullshit, God just throws a temper tantrum and swings his dick around, and refuses to explain himself to Job.

I had an OT prof who was convinced that the book of Job was intentional satire - the original shaggy dog story - that the story was mocking the "mysterious ways" dodge. I think he was right. Have you ever actually read the whole book? I think people have a basic idea of the book, but I don't think many have actually read it all the way through. Try reading it as satire. It works. God behaves like a child in the book.
How many people over the years were convinced, in whole or in part, by reading Job's story? How many will be in the future? What value do you assign to those people in reaching your conclusion?
Convinced of what?

Diogenes the Cynic
08-10-2011, 09:53 AM
None of these questions are relevant to the question the OP asked. I am declining to answer any of them.
All I'm doing is addressing your own assertions. Why assert things if you aren't willing to defend them?

Bricker
08-10-2011, 09:58 AM
Okay. Is that--and, of course, a limitation on performing logically impossible tasks--the only limits you ascribe to God's omnipotence? Or do you allow that there may be other, defined or undefined, limits to God's power?

There may well be other practical limits to God's power. There is no actual limit, in much the same way that the FBI has the manpower and equipment to enter your house and bug your shower stall, but is stymied by self-imposed observance of the law.


The reason I ask is that certain things in the world (the phenomenon of infants born with agonizing, terminal deformities, for example) seem incompatible with the sort of love you ascribe to a God that has the power to prevent those from happening. I can't see how Free Will explains such phenomena.

Certainly it's conceivable that there's an entity who can understand reasons I cannot. But until He enters this thread, I'm talking to you, not Him :). In other words, how is your explanation of God's love as akin to Fatherly love deal with such phenomena?

The problem is that I suffer the same problems in understanding and comprehension as you do.

There was a short-lived TV series called Wonderfalls, in which the protagonist, Jaye, inexplicably began getting bizzare commands from previous inanimate objects. We never learn the source of this phenomenon; the show was canceled too quickly.

In one episode, she is commanded to break someone's taillights. She reluctantly does so, and never learns why. For all that she can see, this was simply a malicious, desctructive act.

But we see that the owner of the car -- a priest, interestingly enough -- is ultimately pulled over by the police for the broken taillight, and then arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support. Turns out he never knew he had a child; the baby was conceived before he entered the seminary and the mother didn't tell him, and then didn't know how to contact him.

Now, you may focus myopically on the question of why that was the only way, or the best way, to reunite mother, father, and child. But that question misses the point. The reason I tell the story is to show the unbridgable gulf between Jaye's act and its consequences. She never knows what happens, and as far as the best logic and information she has will tell her, the act of breaking the taillights was uniformly negative.

Yet we, the viewers, have a different vantage point.We see something she cannot, and know that the result of the action was positive.

So, too, I contend, is the ultimate result of the suffering mentioned above -- we simply lack the understanding and perspective to see it.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 09:59 AM
All I'm doing is addressing your own assertions. Why assert things if you aren't willing to defend them?

Because the OP didn't ask me to defend them, and doing so would hijack the thread away from the question the OP asked.

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-10-2011, 10:05 AM
Now, you may focus myopically on the question of why that was the only way, or the best way, to reunite mother, father, and child. But that question misses the point.
I'm sorry, but I don't think it misses the point at all. If I conceive of omnipotence, I can easily conceive of a better way to let the priest know: telling him directly as soon as the mom-to-be is pregnant, and letting him exercise his free will at that point.

Such a strategy makes for boring storytelling, though, which is why the excellent show Wonderfalls resorted to Rube Goldbergian machinations for the doing of good deeds.

Is this an accurate statement of your beliefs?

God loves us as a father. He does the best he can by us, within the limits of not affecting our free will, not doing the logically impossible, and not doing a few other things according to limits I'm unaware of. When we see something like children born with agonizing terminal defects that nobody could have prevented or foreseen, that's because that's the best God could do by us given those other limits I'm unaware of.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 10:08 AM
I did not meant to limit your choices - if that choice is unsatisfactory, I implore you to elaborate on it or change it.

If I had to start from scratch, 'feel it in my heart' might have been the phrase I'd have chosen. While the two are similar, and in fact probably describe the same innate sense, 'heart' conveys a certain spirituality that 'gut' lacks.


It seems to me that such a response is not quite as convincing as the physical response of an actual father with his child. In other words, out of the two - a father physically there to comfort his child and a feeling in the gut of God comforting you, it seems to me that the father physically being there is superior. Maybe you could argue that they are equal, I suppose.

In either case, this is odd, considering that God is vastly superior to the father in every conceivable way.


Yes, when you say 'it seems to me' that the father being there is superior, it shows only that you have failed to take into account the fobusionite issue.

When you account for fobusionite, it becomes clear the path that God must take.

So why do we have to comfort our children at all? Why, when we do comfort them, do they not always say something to the effect of 'it's okay daddy, God has assured me that this pain is necessary'?


Because we know that our children don't understand fobusionite any more than we do, and so are unlikely to be comforted by it.


Okay, so you are unaware of other individual's experiences, right? They may or may not receive the same treatment that you have experience - you don't know(I'm not trying to be confrontation here, it just seems to me that this element might now be off the table in our discussion).

Now, you may extend this answer to the following question:

Do all children going through pain/suffering/etc have this experience of God (or a similar one)?

By children, I mean under whatever age of accountability you feel is rational to accept (supposing there is one, of course).


No, I doubt they do.

Convinced of what, exactly? There are more explanations of evil in the bible then Job's account. Further, Job's account is that we are unable to understand the purpose of suffering, it isn't an explanation of why there is suffering, per say.


Correct -- it's a statement that it would do no good to explain the issue, because we could not understand it. It would be just like making up a word -- say, like fobusionite and assigning it as the reason. Then when people say they don't know what the word means, you can explain that if they did, they'd understand it.
Some people believe in God. Most people believe that evil/suffering/pain are a problem for an omnimax God. The only way out of this problem is to stipulate that there must be a reason for it.

For people who already believe in God, this is enough. For people who don't, it isn't.


True. If you don't believe, this is hardly a satisfactory answer.


BTW - thank you for engaging with me - I realize that it's not easy to be on the 'hot seat' even if you have good reasons for your position.

You're welcome. I have excellent subjective reasons for my position, but I'm the first to realize that my position is not objectively reasonable.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 10:09 AM
I'm sorry, but I don't think it misses the point at all. If I conceive of omnipotence, I
Is this an accurate statement of your beliefs?

God loves us as a father. He does the best he can by us, within the limits of not affecting our free will, not doing the logically impossible, and not doing a few other things according to limits I'm unaware of. When we see something like children born with agonizing terminal defects that nobody could have prevented or foreseen, that's because that's the best God could do by us given those other limits I'm unaware of.

Yes.

Skald the Rhymer
08-10-2011, 10:23 AM
What do you say to people who feel Krishna in their guts?

This is the standard default for believers who are really challenged to provide evidence that God ever communicates with anybody. "I just know it in my heart." Not much of an answer, is it? You certainly can't use it to argue that God has ever communicated with ME, so does that mean God doesn't love me. Are you going to give me your circular argument that I have to believe first? You're aware that belief is not volitional, aren't you? It's not a choice.

And hasn't it ever occurred to you that you might be deluding yourself that God is comforting you? How do you know you aren't? Do the logical problems with your beliefs never give you pause?

It's not even an attempt justification, period. God does not attempt to justify himself in the story, just asserts (without the slightest justification) that Job has no right to ask for any justification.

Incidentally, people seem to forget that the story DOES tell us the reason that God fucked with Job (which included murdering his children, by the way). It wasn't for any ineffable, mysterious, greater good. It was to win a bet with Satan. Then when called on his bullshit, God just throws a temper tantrum and swings his dick around, and refuses to explain himself to Job.

I had an OT prof who was convinced that the book of Job was intentional satire - the original shaggy dog story - that the story was mocking the "mysterious ways" dodge. I think he was right. Have you ever actually read the whole book? I think people have a basic idea of the book, but I don't think many have actually read it all the way through. Try reading it as satire. It works. God behaves like a child in the book.

Convinced of what?

Suddenly I have a vision of you as a highwayman in the Old West, Dio -- travelling the countryside with a band of rogues, attacking stagecoaches and taking their booty for yourself. You must miss those days, to be so intent on hijacking this thread.

Marley23
08-10-2011, 10:34 AM
And hasn't it ever occurred to you that you might be deluding yourself that God is comforting you? How do you know you aren't? Do the logical problems with your beliefs never give you pause?

Take all discussions related to the existence of gods, godly evil, free will, and the biological basis of love to another thread immediately. They're all hijacks here.

This is the last time I'm going to tell you to stay on topic.

Indygrrl
08-10-2011, 10:50 AM
What does a child understand about cancer, especially cancer that has yet to affect the child physically? The child might say, "How can it possibly be necessary to inject chemicals into my body that make me feel sick, and lose my hair, and vomit, when I feel perfectly fine without them?"

You, as the parent, understand things that the child cannot. You might explain to the child that there's a bad thing inside their body... but the child doesn't really understand or grasp this.

Now we turn to your demands -- you demand to know the necessity of the terrible things that happened to a nine year old girl. But you wouldn't -- in fact, you cannot -- understand or comprehend the answer. So you're in the same position as the cancer-suffering child is: you demand answers that you cannot understand, but if you could understand them, you would know why such horrors are necessary.

That's the model I am contending is proper to understand God's love. Please note I'm not talking here about the accuracy or underlying truth of the model. I'm answering the OP's question. I'm sure whether God really has a plan that surpasseth understanding will be a wonderful debate topic for another thread. Here, I'm providing that concept as the answer to the question about how God's love should be perceived.

I think I understand what you're saying here, but if that is how god shows his "love" it doesn't make him sound very benevolent to me. The suffering that is going on en masse at any point in time makes it hard for me to believe there's a lesson in there that's meant for the rest of us. It also neglects to explain why history repeats itself. Why hasn't god made it so we don't repeat those same horrors over and over again? I think your answer is that his machinations are so far out of our realm of understanding that we can never comprehend them. And that brings me back around to the question, what is the point of having lessons if we never understand what they are?

I hope that's not as convoluted as I think it is, lol. That always happens to me when I think about this sort of thing. I'm an atheist, but I have a theory that any creator/god/sky unicorn who created the universe and designed people is more mad scientist than benevolent entity. Nature itself is a good example. In my imagination the old guy with the white beard is thinking, "Those peons thought the earthquake was scary? I'm going to throw a couple of tsunami's their way and wipe out their food supply to see what they do. And I'm gonna see if those silly churchgoers in New Orleans still worship me after I flood their city and destroy their homes." And of course, that goes on and on endlessly.

Would religious folks say that satan is to blame for these types of things? I can't help noticing god gets the credit for everything wonderful and good, but he never seems to get blamed for the horrors.

I don't really believe in a god, even though my mad scientist theory makes more sense to me than anything I've heard from devout people with regard to religious dogma.

(I hope this is on topic. I got a little confuzzled about halfway through the thread.)

Left Hand of Dorkness
08-10-2011, 11:04 AM
Yes.
Fair enough. I obviously find that answer intensely unsatisfactory for myself, for reasons both that exceed the scope of this thread and that are already familiar to anyone who know the word "theodicy," but I appreciate your explanation.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 11:22 AM
I think I understand what you're saying here, but if that is how god shows his "love" it doesn't make him sound very benevolent to me. The suffering that is going on en masse at any point in time makes it hard for me to believe there's a lesson in there that's meant for the rest of us. It also neglects to explain why history repeats itself. Why hasn't god made it so we don't repeat those same horrors over and over again? I think your answer is that his machinations are so far out of our realm of understanding that we can never comprehend them. And that brings me back around to the question, what is the point of having lessons if we never understand what they are?


We don't try to teach the cancer-suffering child a lesson when we give him chemotherapy. And that child doesn't think the nurse that hooks up his arm to the chemo treatment is very benevolent.

There's no reason to assume that God's purpose in allowing suffering is to teach of a lesson. I personally think of it as more of a necessary consequence of the design of the world.

Meatros
08-10-2011, 12:14 PM
Yes, when you say 'it seems to me' that the father being there is superior, it shows only that you have failed to take into account the fobusionite issue.

When you account for fobusionite, it becomes clear the path that God must take.

I appreciate the discussion we've had and I feel like we are at a place where we can wrap things up between us - however, I did want to ask you something relate to this. I didn't want to assume your position, so if your answer seems as though it should be obvious, it's because I'm trying not to second guess you.

So, my question is, how does this seem to you? Does it seem to you that the father (you could sub in 'father' for a human figure that would bring you comfort in a time of pain) being there is superior (or at least equal) to the experience of God being there (or in your heart, I'm not sure how to phrase this)?

Related: To me, it seems as though the father being there is more important to the child than an experience of God. Do you think this is the case as well for the child? If not, why isn't it? We aren't talking about understanding why the pain is occurring - so neither the father nor the experience would provide such to the child - we are talking about the comfort that is attained from the father or the experience of God.

Bricker
08-10-2011, 01:55 PM
I appreciate the discussion we've had and I feel like we are at a place where we can wrap things up between us - however, I did want to ask you something relate to this. I didn't want to assume your position, so if your answer seems as though it should be obvious, it's because I'm trying not to second guess you.

So, my question is, how does this seem to you? Does it seem to you that the father (you could sub in 'father' for a human figure that would bring you comfort in a time of pain) being there is superior (or at least equal) to the experience of God being there (or in your heart, I'm not sure how to phrase this)?

As a child, I think i would have answered that physical presence of a father was superior.

But I think that's because as a child, my Daddy knew everything and could handle everything. He was ten feet tall and strong as an ox and he knew exactly what to do in every single situation.

As an adult, I know all too well that I am not that man, even though I suspect my son still sees things that way.... he recently was traveling with his grandmother and they missed a connecting flight, and he was quite nervous and upset. But in January, his mom and I were traveling with him, and the same thing happened -- same airport, same leg of a flight, same destinations... he was not in the least disconcerted then.

So as an adult, I find the comfort God gives of more help than the comfort a person gives.

vivalostwages
08-11-2011, 05:00 PM
Here is my take on this. God is able and often takes people out of their suffering though we can not see it. He lessens it on the person going through it. In scriptures there is a great deal of some people experiencing things that others do not and a lot of suffering that a person should have experienced that God shielded them from.

In this case God sent His daughter into this world, the powers of this world (AKA Satan), went to destroy her. God did allow it in this case, but IMHO providing her with needed protection from torment during that time, and in the end world forces could not have her give up on Love and hope as we see her hugging the stuffed animal. It is very possible that God could have created a real soul in that animal to comfort her.

Yes her body was destroyed but her soul was freed of this evil place, and God won as she didn't give up on God.

In Job we can see the battle for God's children, who will have them, Satan or God. The children that Satan gets are the people who seek to control others, without love in their heart, the ones that torment and kill others as you expressed. The ones that destroy.

Also in Job, who is one who experienced suffering, we see the point of suffering, to show us our error that we would never have learned any other way (Job repented in the end). I believe any suffering God does not block and allows us to experience is only the suffering we need to realize our error, in other words God blocks all unnecessary suffering.

Eventually all that destroy will be destroyed and learn that the choice they made (to be evil) was wrong, and effects of karma (scripturally you reap what you sow) means that eventually they will not be strong enough to stay evil, and have to request that God takes custody over them instead of Satan.

So all children will be saved, it's just a matter of how long they can resist God and stay evil.

But for the little children of God such as this girl IMHO she didn't suffer what we saw and assumed she did, for if she did God would be a monster, and that's not the God I worship. My evidence of a good God is her still hugging that bear, her innocence was never taken.

Or maybe she was terrified and had reverted to her toddler days. I really don't know what was in her mind. Then again, neither do you....yet you often presume to know what other people have thought or are thinking.
In past threads, you have assumed/posited that women who choose not to have babies made that choice because they've been warped by modern society; that rapists and their victims have soul ties; and so on.

Assuming something does not make it so.

monavis
08-13-2011, 06:08 AM
Christians speak of God as the Father, and that's not a bad model for what I imagine God's love to be. If I can trot out a stereotype or two, a mother's love is thought of as more consuming and less remote. Dad might be more willing to let his son scrape a knee learning to skatebaord, while Mom wrings her hands at the thought of her baby bleeding.

And it's well to remember that just as a parent is an adult and can see things more clearly than can a child, not all things that appear to be terrible are. A child may dislike the bitter taste of medicine and cavil at the necessity of taking it, while the parent knows that as unpleasant as the medicine is, it's taken for a good reason. The child might be upset at not visiting Disney; the parent knows that it's better to be able to buy school uniforms than see Goofy.

The difference is: that a Human father doesn't know for sure or a head of time what is truly the best for his child, nor would he punish all his grand children or his linage because of some thing an ignorant child did, nor does he keep himslf hidden from his children, or punish them because they now knew good from evil. Were a human father to treat his children as the Abrahamic God does, he would be put in jail!

monavis
08-13-2011, 06:15 AM
The Christian perspective on this is that Jesus (the son of God) loves everyone unconditionally. He loves us like the ideal parents - loving their children unconditionally. He loved us so much that He endured the weight of all of humanity's sins and died for our sins.

In the Old Testament, God was shown as vengeful. If people would sin, He would punish them without forgiveness. Jesus forgives much like parents forgive their children for mistakes. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and we shall receive forgiveness.

Now, there are debates on whether or not Jesus was truly the son of God. It is popular belief that Jesus is God in human form. God sent His only son to die for our sins. It's pretty complicated and there are many interpretations on this. Many Christians believe that God, the Holy Spirit, and The Son are part of the Holy Trinity (all part of the same-being).

According to the psalmist Psalm 82 in KJV, The psalmist is quoted a s sayin,:I said you are gods and sons of the most high, Jesus used this when accused of blasphemy because he called God his father, he remined them of the psalmist and said, "it says in your Law you are gods"!!

monavis
08-13-2011, 06:25 AM
The religious question can't be answered unless the terms are defined.

The OP's question can't be answered without a non-biolgical definition of the word "love."

There are many different definitions of the word Love, just as there are many different definitions of the word God.

To me the word Love means doing well and wishing another person well. No matter the circumstance one is in. Is that a definite translation?..I don't know, but it is the one that suits me best. One can love a person, but not love some of the actions or deeds it does. Just hope the person can rectify bad behavior, because of the harm it does to others or even himself in some manner( or time later on in his life)!