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The monstrous Christian / Islamic God

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by samsara15, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    Human beings are finite creatures. In any moral system, we do some good and some evil. None of us can do infinite evil, in any moral system, in our brief lives. We simply don't have enough time to do so.

    So how can it be justified to conceive of a Hell in which human beings suffer eternal damnation for their finite sins? What can these poor, finite creatures do, in their short lives, to justify such an infintely cruel punishment?

    Since I cannot see any justification for such horrendous punishment, isn't it very likely that the believers in these religions have written their own need for revenge and 'divine justice' against their ideological enemies into the religious texts of both religions, if one is making the unlikely assumption that one of these religions might actually be 'true'?

    That being the case, and continuing with the assumption that one of these religions might be 'true', then isn't it more likely that the punishment for 'sin' in the afterlife is not eternal, and is more like a Purgatory?

    Men, after all, wrote both the Bible and the Koran. Human beings serve theri own ideological purposes when they write religious texts.

    A God who would punish mankind so severely for such finite offenses would be a monster, in every sense of the word. Doesn't it make more sense to assume that such an interpretation of God is false, that God is much kinder than that?
     
  2. numinus

    numinus New Member

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    I cannot understand why people insist on highlighting eternal damnation when what christianity offers is universal grace.

    As I have already said way back -- a moral good is its own reward in the same way that sin is its own punishment. And what sin does is to alienate a person from the state of existence his nature requires. Conversely, a moral good brings one closer to a state of human perfection.

    There is nothing monstrous about that, imo.
     
  3. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    Those of us who are not Christians hear a lot more about the punishment we will receive for not being believers than we do about the rewards that we would receive if we become believers. I have known some Christians who rejected the idea of eternal damnation, a POV which provides we non-believers a much more humane view of Christianity.

    Whatever the case may be, real belief cannot be forced, and must be reached via persuasion. Neither the promise of rewards nor the threats of punishment in themselves can persuade.
     
  4. numinus

    numinus New Member

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    I have very little patience for preachers shouting fire and brimstone. When I encounter one, I simply stand up and leave the church.

    Rewards and punishment are nothing more than what logically follows from our own action. And going a step further, neither happiness nor misery occur without our consent, tacit or explicit.
     
  5. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    I find that variety of Christianity much more of interest that many views I encounter, numinus. I can sometimes almost see my way clear to some forms of religious synthesis, but usually the extremists drive me away before its gets too hot and heavy.
     
  6. numinus

    numinus New Member

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    Catholics have their moments.
     
  7. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    I'd be more like a Unitarian or a New Ager...I've always had a fuzzy grip on reality, some have said, not without a bit of justification.
     
  8. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Hell is discussed in the bible but a close examination indicates that there is not an absolute promise of hell to those who reject God. Damnation to hell is strongly implied. Yet at the same time we know that God's whole plan of creation is for his will to be done and he does not will for anyone to go to hell. Kinda makes one wonder if while hell is available if perhaps no one will end up there.

    Regarding persuasion: clearly many have been persuaded by a fear of hell. That you are not persuaded does not change that others have been. A promise of rewards also influences some people - consider yourself blessed that you are not as shallow as many.
     
  9. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    How would your understanding of the justification of a thing in any way change whether or not it really was justified? You could just be wrong.
     
  10. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    I work within my limited understanding, Dr Who. I could indeed be wrong. Could you also be wrong?
     
  11. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Some punishments are arbitrary and petty. When we see these we recoil against their illogic. Some are overly cruel. Again they are not logical.

    However, when you touch a hot stove that is neither arbitrary, petty, nor cruel. It is just the natural order of things. The universe is the way it is and our foolishness does not change the universe it just results in us receiving the natural consequence.

    Just like the universe has a natural order so too does God.

    Three main qualities of God are that He is just, holy, and merciful.

    Because he is just he cannot ignore that which is wrong. If you as a just person became aware that a pedophile were living on your street molesting the children in your neighborhood could you really be just if you did nothing about it? Crime demands a punishment or God cannot be just. It also demands a logical and fair punishment. God cannot be unjust it is against His nature. (It is a limit on what he can do which relates to the question of omnipotence and omniscience)

    Because he is holy (righteous, sacred or set aside for a special purpose) He is separate from that which is base or profane. He cannot coexist in communion with evil. God is in a holy place called heaven and hell is far far away (spiritually speaking since heaven and hell don't have physical properties). That which is unholy would be destroyed by his presence and is therefore instead cast out of heaven. The definition of hell is simply not being with God and the definition of heaven is simply being with God.

    When we put these two ideas; (justice and holiness) together we see that the being who has become unholy by corrupting the good universe that God created for all cannot be in the presence of God and must receive a just consequence. To do anything else would be wrong. This is the natural order of things and just as touching a stove results in burns it is natural and necessary that corrupting the universe and rejecting God result in consequences and separation from Him.


    God is merciful. He wants what is best for His creation. When He sees his creation experiencing the consequences of sin (the corruption of our world), He wants to step in and help. When he sees that his creation is already separated from him (the spiritual death that Adam experienced on the first day he sinned and that we all have when we first sinned) and is destined to be separated from him for all eternity He wants to step in and intervene. We are already dead and we are already separated from God right here on earth when we sinned. That is the natural order of things. God wants to restore life to us and he wants to bring us back into communion with Him. So He has created a loophole. Nothing arbitrary but again what is logical. The sin was a lack of trust in God's plan for our lives. God said if you eat that apple you will die on that very day. If one trusted and had faith in God one would not eat the apple. If one did not trust in God but trusted in himself he would decide to do what he wanted to do and not what God said. The logical solution is for the first sin, the lack of trust, to be remedied with it's opposite, trust and faith in God. When you trust that God has a plan to bring you back to Him, that He alone can do it, then your faith allows God to give you holiness and righteousness.

    Justice demands you receive a punishment, holiness demands that it be your separateness from God, mercy allows God to correct your mistake Himself.

    Is the most glory is given to God if people see in creation His wonderfullness, respond to that, love and trust God forever? That did not happen in the Garden.

    Would the next best would be for people to see in creation His wonderfullness, respond to that, regain trust for God and be brought back into a loving relationship with Him? Or would this actually be better than the first option since we can now see His quality of forgiveness that we would otherwise not see if man had never sinned?

    Is there a next best? If you do not respond to his wonderfullness in creation, before you sin as in option #1 or after you sin as in option #2, is it not still good to respond to Him when you see Him after death? There is no faith when you believe what you have seen with your own eyes. If there is no faith then how is the lack of faith to be corrected? I do not know of any passages in the bible that deny one could be brought back to God after the second death. Sheep and goats (a reference to a passage about hell) will go to one end or another but what about men? I also know of none that clearly teach that one can. Just when is the eleventh hour that the thief experienced on the cross? Is the twelfth hour at death or after? It is somewhat ambiguous. Perhaps that ambiguity will lead people to choose option 2 since it is too late for option #1. Will you hold out for option #3? Why would you choose to glorify God later rather than sooner? is option #3 more glorifying to God or less than option #2?
     
  12. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    But your conception of God knew ahead of time which choice we would make, at the moment we came into being, so in essence we have been created for the sole purpose of being damned. Is that not monstrous, in every sense of the word, no matter how much you sing and dance around it?
     
  13. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Is it your intention to understand or to say "yes, but" forever?

    Look at options #1 and #2. In #1 man is never damned. In option 2 man is damned but then redeemed. Which is better? Are you not committing the sin of rejecting God's plan and thinking you know more than God, the creator of the Universe, about what is best if you say that option #2 is worse than #1.

    If the value in being redeemed is greater than the value of never having sinned then option #2 is better. Do you know which has more value? You and I have not even worked out a fraction all the various man-made ethical choices available to us how can we presume to weigh them all together with all the data of the universe?
     
  14. samsara15

    samsara15 Member

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    In that case, we don't have enough information to make any decisions about anything. I can accept that.
     
  15. numinus

    numinus New Member

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    God's foreknowledge does not render the exercise of free will defective. In fact, I can't see how it could.

    Given free will, we could choose to damn or perfect ourselves as completely as we wish.
     
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