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November 19, 2008

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The Christian worldview includes a God that has a certain nature. This nature is often understood by a list of attributes. Considering these attributes in conjunction as a whole entity helps reveal the explanatory power of the Christian worldview.

One often neglected attribute is that God is most just. For justice to exist there needs to be good and evil with punishment and reward. For God to be most just he needs to allow evil and punish evil (without compromising His attribute of being most loving).

Thankfully God is also most merciful and has provided a solution (satisfying his attribute of being most loving and without comprising His attribute of being most just).

my heart warms

So, hypothetically speaking, in order for me to maximize the dopamine release by the beneficial killing of innocents that is good to me I should be efficient at it and use an automatic, right? What about killing them slowly and have the dopamine serve like an IV? I suppose I'm having a little trouble with your definition of good.
That said (non-hypothetically speaking), the German society said it was good to kill Jews and used their codified goodness (read: it's the German law) as an excuse at Nuremberg, why would we ever want to take them to trial, their society said it okay to kill them. BTW, they were very efficient at it.
Thanks
Bill

One often neglected attribute is that God is most just. For justice to exist there needs to be good and evil with punishment and reward.(Anair)

Anair

Ok tell me something, If the Christian God is Just and can then punish someone infinitely for crimes done in a finite period, how can you with your God given brain think that is fair Justice? Remember before you speak, the same brain we use to see the Loving aspects of God we use to see the Justice aspect. If I was to commit adultery, would it be Justice to be sentenced to prison with no chance of parole, EVER? And if that is part of Gods Goodness and Morality, why would we want any part of that?

> ... in order for me to maximize
> the dopamine release by the
> beneficial killing of innocents ...

Who said anything about killing innocents?

>>If the Christian God is Just and can then punish someone infinitely for crimes done in a finite period, how can you with your God given brain think that is fair Justice?

TitforTat, many people who commit a crime that lasts 10 seconds end up in prison for life. Why is that? I see two reasons, and both are relevant to the answer to your question.

To return to the original topic:

Titfor Tat said: "I have no problem with something creating the awareness in us to know the difference between Good and Evil. My challenge is when people say they know what it is."

What is "it"? True God or good and bad? If you mean both, that would then make any claim you make about knowing good and bad or God meaningless, by your own definition.

You do claim it is possible to know good and bad. So if that is possible, is it not also possible to know God?

Titfor Tat also said: "That would be Deist, sir"

It seems that you do accept a god as an authority beyond yourself that establishes what is good and bad. That is Melinda's original point.

The debate over the truth of Christianity, God's justice, what actually constitutes good and bad etc. while interesting, is in my opinion, off topic.

Mike
Just an outrageous example of what good being tied to pleasure can lead to when the logic trail is followed. Similar, I suppose, to Greg's (rhetorical) question - "is it ever okay to torture babies for the pleasure it brings you." There are some very sick people and my point was dopamine release is hardly the right answer for what is good. However, this type of answer is hardly unexpected one raised in an educational system and society that is as narcissistic as ours, we breed folks who say "enough about me, lets talk about me." I categorized the first part as hypothetical, sorry if it disturbed anyone.
Thanks
Bill

You do claim it is possible to know good and bad. So if that is possible, is it not also possible to know God?(Mike)

Anythings possible, its just some things are not likely. I know good and bad because I experience them daily. Now as far as God goes well that I have no definative proof of. Well at least not the God you are claiming. My perception of what you call God is more like a beginning force, energy, starting point, creator, designer. It seems something started it all off and when I look at my surroundings I see a degree of intelligence behind it. Now do I know what that is? Do I have a book that can tell me without me having to do tons of mental gymnastics to make it work? Nope. So I trust my instinct that there was a starting point and I aint it, and I have no clue what did it either. And you know what, my logical brain tells me you dont either and neither does anyone on this freaking planet. But that wont stop them from thinking they do. Culture defines what is good and bad. That is why different cultures can do some incredibly beautiful things and some incredibly nasty things. People define it, together both religious and atheist. And everyone inbetween.

Amy

Answer this question. Is it Just and fair and Loving to punish me without end, for any crime?

Titfor Tat said: "Culture defines what is good and bad. That is why different cultures can do some incredibly beautiful things and some incredibly nasty things. People define it,"

You seem to miss the point that beautiful and nasty don't have any meaning if good and bad are only personal or cultural preference.

Titfor Tat also said: "I know good and bad because I experience them daily"

I think this statement is meaningless if you cannot answer these questions.

How do you judge your experience? What standard do you use? Why should that standard have any authority over anyone else?

I thought that you have already claimed that your unknown god has given us awareness to know good and bad? I think that you are not being consistent on what you say you believe.

It is not really productive, in my opinion, to quiz Amy about justice, fairness and love until you get clear on the existence of a divine being.

Titfor Tat said: "So I trust my instinct"

Is this really instinct you are using?

How do you judge your experience? What standard do you use? Why should that standard have any authority over anyone else?(William Willcox)

1. I judge my experience by the knowledge I have attained living my life amongst my family and culture.

2. The standard I use has been imparted to me from my family and culture.

3.The culture I live in has created a standard and that standard is enforced by the laws of the culture. The standard that my family uses is for us and we do not impose that on others.

William

I will use your word "God" here for clarity. God created the Universe. I have no idea what God is or how it works, all I know is the Universe has been created, and it seems to have a level of intelligence behind it. There is no proof of what God is other than the world that we see. Cultures and the people in those cultures will dictate how they apply their ideas on Good and Bad. If you believe that your ideas should be the standard for the whole world, be my guest, but just be ready for all the people who dont agree with you. If the world agrees to a standard for us all then maybe we will have world peace. Until that time Im not holding my breath. It wont be God agreeing on the standard it will be my fellow human beings. Tangible not invisible.

>Answer this question. Is it Just and fair and Loving to punish me without end, for any crime?

I asked you first! :)

No, but seriously, I am answering your question by asking you the clarifying question. We can go on from there. What do you think? Here it is again:

Many people who commit a crime that lasts 10 seconds end up in prison for life. Why is that? I see two reasons, and both are relevant to the answer to your question.

The people who end up in prison for life from a 10 sec. crime are usually ones that culture deem to nasty for interaction with us. Or they are poor, uneducated and not cared about, and rather than forgive them and help in their reconciliation we decide to punish them for the duration of their lives.

Your turn. ;)

Titfor Tat said: "all I know is the Universe has been created, and it seems to have a level of intelligence behind it."

How do you know this? Is it true?

TitFor Tat also said: "Cultures and the people in those cultures will dictate how they apply their ideas on Good and Bad."

Is there any relationship at all between your two two thoughts?

Is there any relationship between what people think and your deistic god/intelligence or is everything just random?

When you say "I know good and bad because I experience them daily" do you mean that good and bad is just what a group of people who agree with you says it is? If my group disagrees, are we both correct?

If good is bad and bad is good seems like there is a loss of meaning to me.

Titfor Tat said: "If the world agrees to a standard for us all then maybe we will have world peace."

Why world peace? Why not mass suicide? Is there something inherently better about peace?

Titfor Tat also said: "There is no proof of what God is other than the world that we see."

Reminds me of Romans 1:18-20.

Do you believe that the only things which exist are those things you can see?

TitFor Tat said: "standard that my family uses is for us and we do not impose that on others."

Are you sure of that? What standard would you use for others not of your group?

Why world peace? Why not mass suicide? Is there something inherently better about peace?(William)

Well for starters, I kind of like life, and am not quite ready to depart it. So peace definately seems to be the better option.

"If my group disagrees, are we both correct?"(william)

I think peanut butter sandwiches are good, you think they are bad, are we both right?

Ok William, Im going to assume you are Christian. That is your defining paradigm, you believe that is good, a muslim on the other hand thinks its bad. who is right? I guess it depends if you live in the US or Saudi Arabia.

Titfor Tat said: "who is right? I guess it depends if you live in the US or Saudi Arabia."

Remember the question: "It's about an explanation for how these categories of universal, immaterial properties fit in a natural, physical universe if God doesn't exist."

We are not talking about what is specifically good but how it is possible to explain that something might be good.

Take a look at these STR resources:

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5538

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5503

Do a search for Responding to Relativism on the STR main site for much more that may answer some of your questions.

TitforTat, I'm talking about principles of justice. Is that your serious answer?

Amy

That is how our principles of Justice work. At least thats how I see it applied in the North American world I live in.

Your turn.

I'm not asking for your understanding of people's motives in applying punishment. I'm talking about the concept of justice. Why is it just that a crime like murder would have the punishment of a lifetime in prison? Or do you think that is unjust?

"If God created the universe and this planet and all the life on it, He most definitely has the authority to do what He wills with that life. That surely does not sit well with some, but as a Christian, I believe that God has a purpose for good in everything He does even if our human minds cannot grasp it all the time" (Deedub)

Well, myself also as a Christian, do not believe that argument you just posed.

So God creates 'life' and he is also the author of 'death'...is this what you believe? Or is God only the author of 'life'?

You basically believe God can do any single thing and no matter the thing - it is to be considered good. So if God sent some people to fly into some towers somewhere to sacrifice a bunch of people for the world to change - do we consider that good?

I think there has to be an argument better than 'God can do anything He wants and it will be good'. When dealing with Numbers 31 we are simply dealing with war and a perspective of the people that wrote it. Plus is was also war - and when it's war - the law kind of goes out the window (very common human behavior).

I don't think God can do anything He wants and we need to consider it good - or maybe it's that whatever we read in the bible needs to be considered good - well - it's not all good. Wars happen, David writes poetry about bashing kids against stones, and Moses has to debate with God to save the lives of the people (a few times).

The bible is book for guidance - and not everything we read is a good story - we learn from the bad stuff also.

Amy

Personally Im not sure all Murder is deserving of life in prison, in fact I think some is deserving of death. And in my mind that would be just. I also believe that life entails more than a physical experience, but I dont know for sure what that entails. Do you?

>>Personally Im not sure all Murder is deserving of life in prison, in fact I think some is deserving of death.

Okay, good. So we agree that a very serious punishment can exist for a crime that only took a short time--even if it only took 10 seconds. Do you agree, then, that in principle, the punishment is related to the severity of the crime and not to the length of time it took to perpetrate the crime?

Yes.........

I like where you are going, because then we get to talk about severity and justice and loveeeee and forgiveness. Fun stuff. keep asking away.

So the length of time of a person's crime doesn't necessarily determine the severity of the punishment. In principle, it's possible that hell is just if the crime is severe enough, correct?

To introduce the second aspect of the discussion, imagine a man is convicted of murder and receives a sentence of 40 years. If, while he's in jail, he continues to commit murders, should more time be added to his sentence? What if in this hypothetical world people live forever, and he continues to murder people forever? Should he remain in jail forever?

No Hell is torture, so no crime is bad enough for anyone to be tortured. As far as continuing to commit murders and remaining in Jail. I could go with that. Can I ask you a question?

>>No Hell is torture, so no crime is bad enough for anyone to be tortured.

We haven't talked about what the punishment in hell is yet. I'm only asking about the principle of the length of hell, since that was your original problem. To isolate that particular problem, just grant for the moment that the type of punishment is just. (We can come back to that later, but I want to address clearly this problem of length first and not get sidetracked.)

In principle, can you agree, then, that it's possible that there could exist a crime so severe that the length of hell would be a just response to the severity of the crime? (You don't have to have a specific crime in mind in order to answer this in principle. We can argue about what crime would fit that category, if anything, later. And you're welcome to bring other things into this with your questions after I finish answering your first question with these two points.)

In principle, can you agree, then, that it's possible that there could exist a crime so severe that the length of hell would be a just response to the severity of the crime?

No I dont agree with the principle, the crimes would have to be ongoing and never ending otherwise it would just be about punishment and not reconciliation or rehabilitation

At the moment, we're only talking justice, not mercy. Why does justice demand reconciliation or rehabilitation? Justice means you get what you deserve.

Is it at least possible, in principle, that there could exist a crime so severe that the length of hell would be a just response to the severity of the crime, even if you can't personally imagine a crime this bad?

(Even if you agree to this, that doesn't mean you're agreeing hell is reasonable since I would still have to convince you people actually do commit crimes this bad.)

I dont believe Justice is about getting what you deserve. That doesnt serve anyone, its just revenge. Justice to me is having the person understand the magnitude of their crimes and having them attempt to make up for them.

Revenge and justice aren't the same thing, but I don't think the difference is what you're describing. I would say the difference is that a proper authority metes out justice (i.e., punishment). For example, If a man kills your brother, justice would be the government putting that person in jail (or putting that person to death, as you suggested). Revenge would be you capturing that person and putting him to death in your basement.

>>Justice to me is having the person understand the magnitude of their crimes and having them attempt to make up for them.

And what is justice if they are unrepentant and will never repent? What is justice if they have no desire to make up for their crimes?

Let me add something to that. Desiring to remove a person's deserved punishment (as you're asking for) is mercy, not justice. If a person gets a speeding ticket, does justice require the judge to throw out the fine? Won't the judge be just if he requires the fine be paid? He may decide to show mercy, but that is something different from justice.

Amy

I dont quite see it the way you do, but heres a way you can look at from a completely different perspective.

The idea that divine justice requires forgiveness accords very well with the New Testament analogy between God and a loving parent. It also illuminates in an intriguing way the nature of Gods opposition to sin. As the Augustinians see it, God opposes sin enough to punish it, but not enough to destroy it altogether; instead of destroying sin altogether, he merely confines it to a specially prepared region of his creation, known as hell, where he keeps it alive for an eternity. According to our alternative picture, however, God forgives sin for this very reason: In no other way could he oppose it with his entire being. For as the St. Paul saw so clearly, our specific sins express a sinful condition, and the latter is a form of spiritual death; it is simply our condition of being separated or estranged or alienated from God and from each other. So the opposite of a sinful condition is a state of reconciliation; and if that is so, then God cannot be against sin, cannot oppose it with his entire being, unless he is for reconciliation. And he can hardly be for reconciliation unless he is prepared to forgive others even as he has commanded us to forgive them. Indeed, if God should refuse to forgive someone, as is not even possible given his loving nature, he would then separate himself from this person; and that is the very essence of sin as Paul himself understood it.

Thomas Talbott …The inescapable Love of God

And what is justice if they are unrepentant and will never repent? What is justice if they have no desire to make up for their crimes?(Amy)

You do believe God to be omnipotent, and if so remember, hes got all the time in the Universe to wait ;)

"You do believe God to be omnipotent, and if so remember, hes got all the time in the Universe to wait ;)"

He is also omniscient so he doesn't even need to wait to know whether or not a person will repent.

Maybe I misunderstood the post above but I do not agree that Divine Justice requires Divine Forgiveness for the simple principle of merit.

Justice is founded on merit, in other words what people deserve. Wrong deserves to be punished whereas right deserves to be rewarded.

Forgiveness is an action of mercy. Mercy by definition is unmerited. If mercy were required forgiveness would also be required. If mercy were then required it would no longer be unmerited. Mercy would be required based upon merit and would then be defined as Justice.

I do not know if that made sense but I hope you will understand my thought process there.

David Blain

"Wherever you heart is, your exegesis will follow"

I have been reading the blogs about evil and good, which as of recently been having a hard time with this since our election. Thanks for the info on research of CS Lewis Problem of Pain and a Good reason for evil. Hopefully this may help my understanding a little better. Thanks again.

As an Augustinian scheme proponent myself, I like to chew on this meat a little every once and awhile.

Rom 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

Rom 9:23 And {He did so} to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Rom 9:24 {even} us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Hi Titfor Tat, what would be your definition of "omnipotent"?

Brad B

Titfortat,

That is not true. Justice defined and mercy defined do not change meaning with the heart of the person.

That is not true. Justice defined and mercy defined do not change meaning with the heart of the person.(David B.)

Of course they do. Especially if the person whos heart changes is in power of the culture he/she lives in. Silly man, the only absolute is the culture you live in, the rest is just hyperbole, you know like "Gods Justice and Mercy"

Boy are you confused.

Brad B

Well, all powerful I guess. ;)

The man who says truth is relative is asking you not to listen to him. So don't.

David Blain

Come over to my blog and answer a few of the questions I put forth, Im curious to see where you are at.

Hi Titfor Tat, I asked because your use of the word seemed to imply as many do that there's nothing God cant do, so that is all powerful. This definition fails miserably as it relates to the truth and the true doctrinal definition of omnipotence.

The most common mistake is when people argue that God could do something that violates His nature or contradicts a known revealed statement by Him.

Omnipotence is best displayed when He creates by speaking. There is no higher demonstration than to create something out of nothing. He needs no tool, materials, or means.

Brad B

The most common mistake is when people argue that God could do something that violates His nature or contradicts a known revealed statement by Him.(Brad B)


It seems to me if youre talking about the Christian God then isnt part of his nature Forgiving and Loving? So tell me how does the idea of Eternity in hell mesh with that?

"Forgive them for they know not what they do."

I'll visit your blog and answer questions you have posted but I see it as pointless. If I am justified in creating my own truth from the sincerity of my heart then whats the point in questions if all answers are right?

Hi Titfor Tat, forgiving and loving aren't the only traits revealed by God to us. I dont think eternity in Hell meshes with those traits, nor are they meant to mesh with them. Wrath and righteous anger might mesh with eternity in Hell.

He's doesn't love everyone, and He's sure not obligated to forgive anyone. I think your attempt to reconcile what you believe is based on less information about God than is available to you.

Brad B

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