Heaven and The Problem of Evil
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21-11-2013, 03:36 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 03:28 PM)docskeptic Wrote:  Alpha,
The "sins" involved in the two situations are different.

I suspect you know that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was that of the men of the town wanting to have sex with the angels who were visiting Lot. Lot, an inhabitant of the town, offered his two virgin daughters as substitutes for the angels (for this he was called "righteous").

The "sin" of the other hypothetical town that Jesus was talking about was the lack of hospitality to the disciples.

Yet, the latter town is singled out for the worse punishment. And you accept that as OK?

Doc
Yes. It's not just a matter of the severity of the sin - the amount of revelation received is also a factor.
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21-11-2013, 07:24 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  I’ve said that I don’t believe God is omnibenevolent or omnipotent. These terms aren’t necessarily equivalent to all good and all powerful.
I'm confused. I'll drop the omni-verbiage; do you believe God is all powerful and all good? If so, what do those terms mean to you? We may be talking past each other.


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:That's not the point. It could be better, and it's not. The only way people can try to describe the world that we can see and observe (with suffering) and reconcile that with a benevolent creator God is to list that there are some (unstated!) reasons for why this is. No one can tell us what they are, but they're really sure that [reasons] exist and that they're valid. That is ad hoc. Until I see any reason to believe it (evidence), I won't.
Funny, you keep repeating that the reasons are unstated, and I keep repeating a reason.
The problem is, the reason is that God wants a relationship, and we need suffering to attain that because of [reasons]. Why this is the case is unclear, but it is something that you are asserting. That being said, if this is the case, then we could live without suffering if we only didn't have the relationship with God (seeing as how the deep relationship is listed as the reason for suffering). Ergo, because of God's desire to have relationships, we suffer. I find this problematic, and not compatable with "good".


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:I need you to elaborate on that. Are you saying that if I'm non-judgmental that I won't be judged very much in the afterlife, or what?
Yes. Good luck with that. People judge God for allowing suffering for his own purposes, yet most all of us do the same. People blow money on all sorts of unnecessary (or even harmful) luxuries while other people are starving. The defense is frequently that an omnipotent god which they don’t believe in anyway could relieve all suffering, as if that somehow relieves themselves of responsibility to ease what suffering they can.
This is true. I could certainly do more with my money to help others.


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote: Can I get there if I don't believe, even if I wanted to really badly for two years?
Why did you want to really badly? You seem to think God is evil – why did you want to believe in him?
I didn't think he was evil at the time. I'd believed in him (or at least thought I did) for nearly 30 years. It troubled me when I realized that I didn't. I didn't start having problems with the Christian notion of God until I started looking into it more to try and rekindle my belief.


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:Also, I like you are judging what is "good on the surface" based on my attitude toward non-falsifiable theology, while knowing nothing about what I do in my outside life. I've done nothing but criticize a belief system that is non-falsifiable and doesn't make sense on the surface and can only be reconciled with more non-falsifiable claims. I don't really see that fitting onto a good/bad spectrum.
I just meant that the prospect of heaven looked bad for you on the surface. “On the surface” is an admission that I don’t really know you, and I also stated that I don’t know you’re heart, so I think this complaint is unreasonable.
Actually, on the surface, the prospect looked pretty rad. It was once I started to think about it in terms with modern apologetics that I realized that most Christians talk about heaven one way and about apologetics another, and I've yet to hear a church service or Bible study group actually get into it (I'm not saying no one ever has, but I have yet to hear it).


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:Most Christians reconcile that by assuming they were grandfathered in, sine Jesus wasn't around, yet. As for being able to believe in a creator god, I wasn't able. I tried for several years. Either God was withholding the Holy Spirit from me for some reason, the Holy Spirit doesn't exist, or this is somehow my fault for reasons that cannot be stated (which is quite non-falsifiable).
Why did you try? How did you try? Did you ever believe in a creator god? What makes you different from the billions of people who have believed in a creator god?
As I said earlier, I'd believed for nearly 30 years, and found it troubling when I didn't. How? Well, at first, I took the lazy approach and just told myself "of course I believe. These are just doubts, and those are normal.". Eventually that stopped working. The rest was a combination of prayer, reading the Bible, and thinking about it. As for "did I ever believe", that's pretty much impossible to answer honestly, because it's hard for me to really know what I believed. I'd say I did a while ago, but that was mostly out of unquestioned tradition, not out of a deeper understanding.


(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:Who created heaven and hell? Who decides what it takes to get into one place or the other? Who created entities capable of making decisions that could be punished? God set the bar. As for what that bar is, most modern Christians assume it is believing in Jesus. Most people argue fiercely that you get into heaven by grace and not works. Therefore, they believe that good or bad acts are not the deciding factor.
Your observation is correct, but I disagree with your conclusion. People argue that you get into heaven by grace and not works because they recognize that our works have been judged and we’ve all been found guilty (justice), so we can only be saved by grace.

Quote:It's a rather weird notion of mercy, since God creates the problem and then "mercifully" gives us the solution.
The “problem” is life. I find it to be a net positive. So do you, but ungratefully complain that it could be better. What are the alternatives?
- God doesn’t create in the first place.
- God creates but doesn’t allow suffering/evil, which cheapens the quality of his relationship with those who would have been saved.
Again, you’re arguing that God should reward those who would hate him or want nothing to do with him, and punish those who would have loved him. That makes no sense. And speaking of seeming narcissistic...
No, I absolutely never said that. My problem is that the system isn't set up to punish bad or reward good. You're making it binary. It's a two-way decision matrix. On one axis, you have "did you accept Jesus? Y/N" and on the other axis you have "were you good? Y/N". This gives us four possibilities:
1) You were good and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
2) You were good but didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell
3) You were bad and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
4) You were bad and didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell

Only half of the time does it happen to work out that good people get rewarded and bad people go to hell, and the deciding factor isn't the actions they took in life. Most protestants believe that a guy who builds orphanages and donates money to people but didn't believe in Jesus because it didn't make sense gets tortured for infinity years and a serial killer who has a death bed conversion gets eternal bliss.
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22-11-2013, 08:24 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 07:24 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I'm confused. I'll drop the omni-verbiage; do you believe God is all powerful and all good? If so, what do those terms mean to you? We may be talking past each other.
Again consider a judge. It would be benevolent of him to sentence a serial killer to eating a piece of chocolate cake and going on his way. However, most people wouldn’t consider that to be good of the judge to do (although the killer or his family might). Benevolence is a more specific word than good, and points of view come into play as well.

All powerful is better than omnipotent, but I prefer to use almighty, as that’s what most translations use. You could say that there’s no real difference, and I would agree that there shouldn’t be. However, many people take omnipotent to mean able to do anything. Almighty is better at specifying that it means able to do anything achievable by might.

Quote:Funny, you keep repeating that the reasons are unstated, and I keep repeating a reason.
The problem is, the reason is that God wants a relationship, and we need suffering to attain that because of [reasons]. Why this is the case is unclear, but it is something that you are asserting. That being said, if this is the case, then we could live without suffering if we only didn't have the relationship with God (seeing as how the deep relationship is listed as the reason for suffering). Ergo, because of God's desire to have relationships, we suffer. I find this problematic, and not compatable with "good".[/quote]
And you’re entitled to that opinion. Many people share it. That’s likely why the trend in the Bible is for brief periods of revival between long stretches of apathy or and rebellion, and why Jesus said the way to salvation is narrow and few will find it.

I’ve noted before that I find life to be a net positive, and you didn’t dispute that. You merely say that life could be better. So your charge is that, because God desires to have deeper relationships with us, we have a good life, but not a perfect one. That doesn’t have much of a punch.

Our own fulfillment can also be enhanced by our own suffering. You say that “because of God's desire to have relationships, we suffer.” You could also say that because of a football coach’s desire to win games, his players suffer. No one needs to run a marathon. The health benefits can be achieved at far shorter distances and with less suffering. But, many people voluntarily submit to such suffering because of the fulfillment of pushing through it.

Our own fulfillment and our relationships can be enhanced by the suffering of others. I’ve had health problems which my wife has helped me through, and we’re closer because of it. My wife and kids went to a rescue shelter yesterday to volunteer, and found fulfillment in that.

Quote: This is true. I could certainly do more with my money to help others.
Me too. So, I don’t judge God for doing something that I’m guilty of as well, and I don’t fall back on the omnipotence rationalization.

Quote: I didn't think he was evil at the time. I'd believed in him (or at least thought I did) for nearly 30 years. It troubled me when I realized that I didn't. I didn't start having problems with the Christian notion of God until I started looking into it more to try and rekindle my belief.
It seems more accurate to say that you wanted to believe in an inaccurate conception of god really badly for two years. And of course there’s no reason to expect God to help you out with that.


Quote: Actually, on the surface, the prospect looked pretty rad. It was once I started to think about it in terms with modern apologetics that I realized that most Christians talk about heaven one way and about apologetics another, and I've yet to hear a church service or Bible study group actually get into it (I'm not saying no one ever has, but I have yet to hear it).
Most Christians don’t know much about apologetics at all. I’m not saying that’s a fault. Paul clearly teaches that there are different gifts and different roles.

Quote: As I said earlier, I'd believed for nearly 30 years, and found it troubling when I didn't. How? Well, at first, I took the lazy approach and just told myself "of course I believe. These are just doubts, and those are normal.". Eventually that stopped working. The rest was a combination of prayer, reading the Bible, and thinking about it.
Did you read a systematic theology, or apologetics books? How many? How much time did you spend on it? It doesn’t really matter to me, but you might want to reflect on how hard you really tried. And as noted above, you seem to have been trying to believe in a god other than the god of the Bible, but retain some semblance of Christianity.

Quote:No, I absolutely never said that. My problem is that the system isn't set up to punish bad or reward good.
Yes, it is. The problem is that no one is good by God’s standards.

Quote:You're making it binary. It's a two-way decision matrix. On one axis, you have "did you accept Jesus? Y/N" and on the other axis you have "were you good? Y/N". This gives us four possibilities:
1) You were good and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
2) You were good but didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell
No one is good by God’s standards, so these never come into play.

Quote:3) You were bad and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
4) You were bad and didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell

Most protestants believe that a guy who builds orphanages and donates money to people but didn't believe in Jesus because it didn't make sense gets tortured for infinity years and a serial killer who has a death bed conversion gets eternal bliss.
True, and this is because that guy who built orphanages still didn’t meet God’s standards. God knows our very thoughts and judges us by them, not just by our actions. This principle runs throughout the Bible. The flood came because people’s thoughts were evil all the time. The law prohibited theft and adultery, but also condemned coveting another’s goods or wife, even though there was no way to know another’s thoughts or enforce that provision. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus equated lust with adultery and negative thoughts toward another with murder. There’s no way anyone can meet those standards. That’s why the cross was necessary.

BTW I’ve enjoyed our discussion.
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22-11-2013, 08:49 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
Evil and suffering are part and parcel of the zero-sum game.
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25-11-2013, 06:53 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:The problem is, the reason is that God wants a relationship, and we need suffering to attain that because of [reasons]. Why this is the case is unclear, but it is something that you are asserting. That being said, if this is the case, then we could live without suffering if we only didn't have the relationship with God (seeing as how the deep relationship is listed as the reason for suffering). Ergo, because of God's desire to have relationships, we suffer. I find this problematic, and not compatable with "good".
And you’re entitled to that opinion. Many people share it. That’s likely why the trend in the Bible is for brief periods of revival between long stretches of apathy or and rebellion, and why Jesus said the way to salvation is narrow and few will find it.
So, because God wants to have relationships with us and for us to be good, he sets up a system that we are bound to fail, and then only grants mercy to a few? I know you'll blame us for not finding it, but at the end of the day, do you believe that only "a few" (relatively speaking, I'm assuming) will get into heaven?


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  I’ve noted before that I find life to be a net positive, and you didn’t dispute that. You merely say that life could be better. So your charge is that, because God desires to have deeper relationships with us, we have a good life, but not a perfect one. That doesn’t have much of a punch.
Tell that to someone who's three-year-old died slowly to Tay Sachs.

The fact that it could be better and God has the ability to make it better means that it's not better because he doesn't want it to be. The reason for that is deeper relationships. So, while many people (most, maybe?) may pull a net positive out of this, there are still people who are so depressed that they kill themselves, people who get attacked by others for no good reason, and children who die to Tay Sachs.

I think there's plenty of punch there. You just phrased it in a way to minimize the very real suffering of a lot of people.


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Our own fulfillment can also be enhanced by our own suffering. You say that “because of God's desire to have relationships, we suffer.” You could also say that because of a football coach’s desire to win games, his players suffer. No one needs to run a marathon. The health benefits can be achieved at far shorter distances and with less suffering. But, many people voluntarily submit to such suffering because of the fulfillment of pushing through it.
The problem with that analogy is that people who don't want to put up with the suffering of football can go and do something else. We don't have a different alternative to find a different reality. Also, the suffering in football is likely different (assuming the coach isn't truly sadistic). For example: I voluntarily ran track for several years, and continued to run afterward. While there was a certain discomfort there, there was also a pretty big enjoyment. Also, I chose to run track.


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote: This is true. I could certainly do more with my money to help others.
Me too. So, I don’t judge God for doing something that I’m guilty of as well, and I don’t fall back on the omnipotence rationalization.
He's still more able to deal with the problem. There's a reason that I hold myself and my wife to a different standard than my two daughters. Heck, one of them is young enough that we have to try and teach her why she shouldn't pull people's hair.

The problem with you saying that I'm falling back on the omnipotence rationalization is that you believe that, while I could be doing more, there exists an entity that could solve everything, yet chooses not to so that he can have relationships.


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote: I didn't think he was evil at the time. I'd believed in him (or at least thought I did) for nearly 30 years. It troubled me when I realized that I didn't. I didn't start having problems with the Christian notion of God until I started looking into it more to try and rekindle my belief.
It seems more accurate to say that you wanted to believe in an inaccurate conception of god really badly for two years. And of course there’s no reason to expect God to help you out with that.
Well, he didn't point that out to me, so there's that.


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:No, I absolutely never said that. My problem is that the system isn't set up to punish bad or reward good.
Yes, it is. The problem is that no one is good by God’s standards.

Quote:You're making it binary. It's a two-way decision matrix. On one axis, you have "did you accept Jesus? Y/N" and on the other axis you have "were you good? Y/N". This gives us four possibilities:
1) You were good and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
2) You were good but didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell
No one is good by God’s standards, so these never come into play.

Quote:3) You were bad and accepted Jesus - you go to heaven
4) You were bad and didn't accept Jesus - you go to hell

Most protestants believe that a guy who builds orphanages and donates money to people but didn't believe in Jesus because it didn't make sense gets tortured for infinity years and a serial killer who has a death bed conversion gets eternal bliss.
True, and this is because that guy who built orphanages still didn’t meet God’s standards. God knows our very thoughts and judges us by them, not just by our actions. This principle runs throughout the Bible. The flood came because people’s thoughts were evil all the time. The law prohibited theft and adultery, but also condemned coveting another’s goods or wife, even though there was no way to know another’s thoughts or enforce that provision. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus equated lust with adultery and negative thoughts toward another with murder. There’s no way anyone can meet those standards. That’s why the cross was necessary.
What I'm saying is, the reward/punishment system only determines whether or not you "deserve" mercy. You've stated that we cannot live up to God's demands on morality (and I'm not refuting that), but I am saying two things in context of this:

1) The benchmark for whether or not we achieve mercy is set by whether or not we believe in a (very particular!) non-falsifiable belief system. So, we aren't punished for evil or rewarded for good (you said we're all evil and deserving or punishment. We're talking about mercy); we're punished for being incredulous and rewarded for being credulous, but only in a very specific way (being credulous about Islam or Hinduism doesn't get you rewarded).

2) Whether or not we're deemed good enough by God's standards, there is no punishment or reward for actually being good. Someone can do much more good than someone else, yet they still fall into the category of "evil and deserving of judgment". So, not only is the punishment/reward system built on how credulous you are, there is no incentive to actually be good or not be bad; we're told we're already bad, so it doesn't matter.


(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  BTW I’ve enjoyed our discussion.
Me too. Sorry it took so long to respond. My birthday weekend was hectic.
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26-11-2013, 12:00 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  The flood came because people’s thoughts were evil all the time.

Can people stop using the Flood as an example of anything but literary fiction, a least until there is any god-damn evidence for it? Dodgy

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26-11-2013, 03:12 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(26-11-2013 12:00 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(22-11-2013 08:24 AM)alpha male Wrote:  The flood came because people’s thoughts were evil all the time.

Can people stop using the Flood as an example of anything but literary fiction, a least until there is any god-damn evidence for it? Dodgy

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26-11-2013, 09:09 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(26-11-2013 12:00 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Can people stop using the Flood as an example of anything but literary fiction, a least until there is any god-damn evidence for it? Dodgy
Do you think there's evidence for heaven? If not, why didn't you jump all over the OP for saying it causes problems?
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26-11-2013, 09:19 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(26-11-2013 09:09 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Do you think there's evidence for heaven? If not, why didn't you jump all over the OP for saying it causes problems?

Honestly? I find your reasoning more offensive, and people pretending like the Flood was actually a real event is a personal peeve of mine. Heaven (or some approximation) might actually exist beyond our means to perceive it, on the other hand The Flood most certainly didn't happen as described; unless you posit YHWH also hid all evidence if it from happening to future generations to purposely let science contradict his Bible, and if you're doing that, you really need to put down the Kool-Aid and reevaluate your life choices. Coffeedrinker

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26-11-2013, 10:16 AM (This post was last modified: 26-11-2013 11:07 AM by alpha male.)
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(26-11-2013 09:19 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Honestly? I find your reasoning more offensive, and people pretending like the Flood was actually a real event is a personal peeve of mine.
Here's a pet peeve of mine: atheist 1 uses the Bible to form a charge against God; Christian uses the Bible in defense of God; atheist 2 jumps in and says the Bible is worthless as evidence in reply to the Christian, but doesn't likewise say that the Bible is worthless as a source of charges against God in reply to atheist 1.
Quote:Heaven (or some approximation) might actually exist beyond our means to perceive it, on the other hand The Flood most certainly didn't happen as described; unless you posit YHWH also hid all evidence if it from happening to future generations to purposely let science contradict his Bible, and if you're doing that, you really need to put down the Kool-Aid and reevaluate your life choices. Coffeedrinker
I'll consider your evidence if you have any, although it would be well off-topic. BTW, my point was about God's purposes, and works even if one considers the flood as allegorical.
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