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Old 11-28-2005, 09:20 PM   #21
Isildur
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Default Re: What is god?

> God, to me, is the instilled belief within people (forced by
> society) that causes you to differentiate between right and
> wrong.
>
> Essentially, a conscience. Personally though, I don't fear
> burning for all eternity if I commit a grave sin. I instead
> fear being locked up and having the key thrown away. I
> think that's a much more realistic fear to instill into
> someone, best told by those who have had a previous run-in
> with La Policia.
>

I think what I normally fear most about doing something wrong is doing something wrong. There's a difference (or at least, I think there should be) between a conscience --a visceral (perhaps innate, to some extent?) sense of right and wrong-- and simple fear of punishment and desire for reward -- whether such consequences are imposed and granted by society, or whether they are promised by religion. (I'm agnostic, btw.) Perhaps fear of consequences is necessary as a tool for instilling or reinforcing values when raising a child, but ideally, by the time one is an adult, shouldn't those values should be integral to the way one thinks and acts?

Of course, some would argue (with, I admit, no shortage of disturbing examples to back such a claim) that by-and-large we're little more than selfish brutes with a thin veneer of morality kept in place only by the rules society places upon us...
It's a chilling thought, to me anyway. Btw, if anyone here hasn't read the original The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells, I recommend it.



(Note that nothing in this post is intended as a personal criticism of any particular person here, including the member to whom I'm replying. In any case, by this point (following quite a few "post preview" edits) I've actually forgotten who that is. =P )
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:23 PM   #22
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Default Re: What is god?

> I wasn't sure whether this is a good Backroom topic,

Actually, I think this is shaping up to be one of the best Backroom threads in a while. <img src=smilies/thumb.gif>

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Old 11-28-2005, 09:38 PM   #23
Ugly Joe
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Default Re: What is god?

> Though when I look at scenarios I see that your conscience
> is driven by your surroundings more than anything else (if
> not solely).

Hmm...I would argue against this, but I think it would be getting too personal and too off topic. I can see where you are coming from, though.

> Some of the religious scare
> tactics I've heard in my day include things like "people who
> do not believe in God lack morals and are evil" or other
> things to that effect. I swear, ignorant statements like
> that really piss me off sometimes...

Perfeclty understandable. There is certainly no shortage of ignorant religious folk on this planet.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:12 AM   #24
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Default Re: What is god?

http://www.bobsagetisgod.comBob Saget</a>.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:54 AM   #25
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Default Re: What is god?

> Perhaps fear of consequences is necessary as
> a tool for instilling or reinforcing values when raising a
> child, but ideally, by the time one is an adult, shouldn't
> those values should be integral to the way one thinks and
> acts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_Good#Chaotic_GoodChaotic Good.</a> <img src=smilies/magbiggrin.gif>

Just made me think of this...some personality test I took some time ago (don't know URL) painted me as Chaotic Good. While I don't know that it's totally accurate, I think you could apply the phrase to the current conversation.

Consciense existing outside the system. Probably they'd follow the 'rules' more often than not but just because it fits their own standard of ethics, not because of some religion or governmental organization.. (at least this is how I understand the description) Just sounds like what some of the people in this thread are saying, anyway.
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Old 11-29-2005, 03:16 AM   #26
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Default Re: What is god?

I don't understand how someone can not have faith when it comes down to killing. All the animals in our world kill in one way or the other, trying to hold their place in the evolutionary cycle. Most animals kill for food, and sometimes even over mates.

Humans are the most sentient creatures on this planet. When we were created, when ADAM was created, God gave him the freedom of choice to follow him into holy serenity in the Garden of Eden, or choose a path of suffering by disobeying God.

But even though we were cast out of the most beautiful place on earth, we are still forgiven to this day. Jesus died for our sins, and with his blessing we can be forgiven again.

If a soldier fought for what he thought was good, and asked for forgiveness, he would be forgiven. His conscience would be relieved. This same concept goes for all sinners who kill and commit great sin. If his or her mind is open to faith, then God will touch that person and give him/her a feeling of goodness.

It happens all the time with me. I don't know how people can be so agnostic if they don't even bother to try and ask for his forgiveness and guidance.

He who asks is a fool for 5 minutes, but he who never asks is a fool forever
- Chinese Proverb

If only you would try...You might be saved...
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Old 11-29-2005, 03:35 AM   #27
Isildur
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Default Re: What is god?

> Pack animals don't arbitrarily kill each other, as it is
> with right-minded members of any human society. It's basic
> pragmatism.
>

While I'm inclined to agree with you to a certain extent, justifying human morality through the pragmatism in evidence elsewhere in the natural world does have its problems...
For example, from an evolutionary perspective, extreme acts of altruism, such, as risking one's own life to save others' lives, don't really make sense unless the ones being saved are very close to one, genetically. For the general case, reciprocation for such behavior cannot be assured, because the fact that benefit is given to the species overall by such behavior is offset by the fact that it is to an individual's personal advantage, in terms of reproductive legacy, to cheat by taking help but not giving it in return, and thus "cheater" strains are overwhelmingly likely to evolve to take advantage of such behaviors. Trust-building mechanisms can evolve, but that still wouldn't explain risking oneself for a complete stranger.

Here, then, is something that would seem to go against the grain of what one would expect of pragmatic natural behavior just as much as your example of pack animals arbitrarily killing each other, but when was the last time you heard of a fireman being condemned as evil for saving a stranger at great risk to himself?


P.S. for a similar (but not exactly the same) look at the matter of morality and altruism, here's something a friend of mine wrote.

P.P.S. Btw, for anyone interested in looking it up, I think there was an article about a year ago in Science News on some attempts at mathematical modeling of the role reciprocity can play in evolution.



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Old 11-29-2005, 03:39 AM   #28
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Default Re: What is god?

> So, what is God to you?

a four-legged domesticated canine

oh wait, whoops. Sorry, I'm Lysdexic
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Old 11-29-2005, 03:53 AM   #29
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Default ba-dum ching *nt*

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Old 11-29-2005, 04:55 AM   #30
Isildur
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Default Re: What is god?

> I don't understand how someone can not have faith when it
> comes down to killing. All the animals in our world kill in
> one way or the other, trying to hold their place in the
> evolutionary cycle. Most animals kill for food, and
> sometimes even over mates.
>
> Humans are the most sentient creatures on this planet. When
> we were created, when ADAM was created, God gave him the
> freedom of choice to follow him into holy serenity in the
> Garden of Eden, or choose a path of suffering by disobeying
> God.
>

When taken together, your first and second paragraphs seem to imply that you believe in evolution, but only for non-human life?

> But even though we were cast out of the most beautiful place
> on earth, we are still forgiven to this day. Jesus died for
> our sins, and with his blessing we can be forgiven again.
>

Hmm, critiquing this may be akin to playing with matches, in terms of offending people, but this is the Backroom and you did bring it up, so...

No matter how many times I've heard Christians assure me that Jesus died to absolve us of our sins, no matter how passionately I've been told the depths of pain he endured supposedly just so he could save us, it has never made the slightest impact on me, both because I find it utterly illogical that any merciful and just God would require or even accept such an act to pay off other people's moral debts, and because I don't accept the assertion I've heard countless times that we are all sinners who could never hope to be worthy of Heaven otherwise.

Central to Christian theology, as I've always heard it stated, is the idea that Jesus redeemed all believers by enduring pain, humiliation, and execution in their stead. In ordinary life, you can pay off someone else's monetary debt because the creditor is just interested in return for the credit or money he gave. Here's the problem: Misery isn't money. The idea that someone can suffer for someone else's sins makes absolutely no moral sense to me, and never will. Punishment isn't something that can be bartered or taken on as a gift, because (aside from sadistic enjoyment) punishment has absolutely no value in-and-of itself: its sole value lies in reform and deterence. A merciful and just God doesn't need misery any more than he needs suspenders, and wouldn't accept it as payment to absolve another. What good would it do Him, or us, to allow Jesus to be undeservedly punished, as payment for others being let off the hook? Of course, many would argue that the good that would come of it is the saving of all us otherwise irredeemable sinners, which brings me to my second point.

I reject the belief that we are all inherently sinners, such that, without a miraculous act, all of us would be condemned to burn in Hell. First of all, I think that anyone who has any ties of affection to any other human deep down knows this to be false, and knows in his heart that the good in a person can outweigh the bad. Secondly, why would a merciful and just God give humans the freedom to choose between faith and lack of faith, but not give them the ability to be good or bad, as demonstrated by their acts?

In closing, I just want to remind everyone that I don't mean this as a personal attack on Christians, just an explanation of why Christianity is not plausible to me, personally. Blade seriously asked about our personal beliefs regarding God, and in the post to which I'm replying he brought up his belief that Jesus died for our sins, and in this post I'm giving my honest opinion regarding the Christian conception of redemption.

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