Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
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06-06-2011, 02:59 AM
Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
I've been meaning to make a post about this for a while now. A while ago there was a caller Mark from the Stone Church in Austin on the Atheist Experience, and he referenced a sermon on hell. I downloaded it and listened, and found a certain over-emphasized argument to be worthy of discussion.
The argument was that God is infinitely just and authoritative, being god and all. And so when you violate his rules you deserve infinite punishment.
The preacher attempts to demonstrate this by going up the ranks in terms of authority. If you lie to your friend, its usually not a big deal. If you lie to the police, it's a bigger deal. If you lie to the US government, it's a much bigger deal. And so, logically he argued, if you lie to God it is worthy of damnation.

I would like to know what you all think of this, aside from simply God needs to be demonstrated and the whole burden of proof.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
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06-06-2011, 03:35 AM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
Infinite punishment for a finite crime seems to be a little unwarranted, not to mention highly unfair. God is also supposed to be infinitely wise, from everything I've read and heard, but this damning people to hell for petty rule violations smacks more of a monstrous psychopathy than wisdom. I suppose it could be argued that the infinite term in hell is supposed to be the ultimate deterrent to committng sins, but since it seems none of us is capable of avoiding this punishment given the "crimes" of lust and doubt and envy and greed and so forth all occur quite naturally to us, then God is one diabolical motherfucker who must have intended from the get-go to damn every last one of us to hell for eternity. Which would make him Satan, wouldn't it? Just who are we supposed to be putting our faith in? Name one person who's gotten into heaven with a clean slate, unless you use the Jeffery Dahmer argument that accepting Jesus as your saviour before they execute you is all that's required to have all your sins washed away and the pearly gates thrown open to you. I find it hard to believe that such a vengeful, spiteful, jealous God would make it that easy to avoid his wrath. No one lie or crime, including murder, is worthy of eternal torture. Burning someone as a punishment is bad enough, but doing for eternity??? And what, may I ask, do they burn in hell anyway, since when you're dead, you leave your body behind? Can our souls feel physical pain? I've never had that one explained to me properly.

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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06-06-2011, 04:18 AM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
I dunno, there are some crimes (crimes much worse than murder) I wouldn't mind throwing people into an eternal fiery pit for.

Its a bigger deal in terms of repercussions sure, but its less morally wrong to lie to the government (Who's lying to you 365 days a year, 25 hours a day) than it is to lie to a friend. (without getting into white lies and what have you). His seems to be confusing might and right. The powerful have the right to judge and punish because they are powerful? Not because they are moral? I have no time for people like that.

This Yahweh the malevolent character clearly has issues.
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06-06-2011, 07:41 AM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
Hey, Daemonowner.

Well I think that this particular preacher's theology is a perfect example of how religion can be used as a means of control, a part of what Karl Marx called the superstructure. It's an escalating ladder of authority. The greater the authority, the greater the punishment for lying to that authority. It's pretty basic, "stay in line or else," kind of stuff. It's way more about convincing someone to obey the rules than it is a commentary on the true nature of God.

In terms of why God has to punish us, it's the basis of salvation. Man is flawed, the religious idea, is simply the early incarnation of the Enlightenment idea that man is a perfectible being. The former is the basis of Salvationist religions; the latter is the basis of the many isms of the last few hundred years. Both strive to fight the duality of the human animal, that we are kind and cruel, generous and selfish, loving and wrathful. The reason they fight this duality is because in small egalitarian bands or tribes (those with populations below the Dunbar limit of 150) anything that disrupts the daily life of the group can be dealt with uniquely based on the specific situation and the individuals involved. Most small groups employ restorative justice. In large hierarchical groups, particularly full-blown civilisations, this sort of thing is impossible. So any sort of negative behaviour is outlawed because the disruptions it can cause are magnified by the complexity of the group. This outlawing of disruptive behaviour, of the negative or "evil" side of humanity is older than Hammurabi. His Code is simply the oldest example of the codification of these rules, not of the rules themselves. All large groups have to find some way to justify these bannings. Salvationist religions tell us that we are flawed. Christianity tells us that we lived in paradise, Eden, without even the knowledge of evil, but our choice to eat of the fruit, that Original Sin, led to our being cast out of Eden into a world where we were no longer protected from evil. All of our sins are the result of that Original Sin (particularly in Catholic theology from what I understand). So now we have all of this evil in us which is the reason that we must be saved. Saved from ourselves. How to be saved varies, but the fact that we need to be does not. The Enlightenment notion that man is a perfectible being sort of Occam's razors all of that stuff but still rolls with the assumption that there's something wrong with us. If we just do X, Y or Z, we'll have a perfect society without all of that nasty greed and murder and all the other things we outlaw. So all law, whether it’s based in religion or reason, is punitive rather than restorative. It just says, don't behave in that disruptive way that is simply a part of the human condition or else. Those who can control themselves are civilised. Those that cannot are evil and need to go to hell, or criminal and need to be robbed of their freedom, because les Philosophes figured that robbing someone of their freedom was the worst possible earthly punishment, so let's build a fuck whack of prisons. Either way, there's something WRONG with these people. It's all malarkey.

I neither believe humans need to be saved nor that we are perfectible. I believe in the duality of man and that that duality is our normal state. I believe that hierarchical society requires that we fight our “darker” nature in the name of stability and security and that that fight is a losing battle always.

So, Hotrod, God isn't diabolical, he just gave us choice. His Creation is a place of opposites and so evil was a requirement for good to exist. He protected us from evil until we chose to disobey him and so that protection ended; the Fall of Man. If we lived in Eden, going to heaven would be a no-brainer. In Eden we live with God's Grace. But out here, in what Gwar lovingly refers to as This Toilet Earth, we have to be saved from our sin and the only way to do that is through Christ; through obeying God’s commands once again. Not that I particularly believe in any of this, and not that I didn’t just butcher Christian theology; I'm just saying that within the context of Salvationist theory, it is internally consistent.

Restorative justice is a much better system for dealing with humans because it accepts the duality of man and makes no attempt to fight it. It's sole goal is to restore harmony to the group whenever our duality disrupts the group; be that disruption theft, adultery, murder... It's a fundamentally different system than one that says X is simply wrong so fight it and if you can't then we'll punish the shit out of you because there's something wrong with you. The problem is that restorative justice is near impossible to implement in a large hierarchical society precisely because it deals with each case uniquely. A relationship between the disruptor and the disrupted is required. More importantly, the nature of the solutions varies wildly. Our hierarchical system demands punishment in equal measure, otherwise people might just roll the dice. X crime means Y punishment always and for all people because Justice is blind (wink wink). Most importantly, someone might not receive anything resembling any type of punishment in a restorative system. Restorative justice has been used, most notably in Canada among native prisoners (a program so successful that non-native prisoners have asked to participate) and in South Africa under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That commission, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, would get people that committed atrocities under Apartheid to admit what they did. That's it. No one was thrown in prison for admitting to kidnapping and torture and murder. It was simply so that harmony could be returned to the group. As much as I champion this approach to justice, implementing it on a wide-spread basis will prove difficult if not impossible because the religious/Enlightenment idea that there's just something wrong with us is ubiquitous. Most people, religious or secular, demand punishment and cannot even comprehend living in a system that doesn’t rely on it and that doesn’t believe that humans are flawed. Flawed and deserving of punishment. That’s how most people view the human animal. It’s bull pucky.

So that's it. It all boils down to we're flawed, so don't do these outlawed things or else, regardless of if that or else is eternal damnation or 25-life. Power, the ability to make other people do things that they would not otherwise do, is made up of three components; authority, influence and coercion. Law, be it religious or state, requires us to have unwavering trust in the authority of God/the government and insurmountable fear of the consequences for disobedience, to be coerced into obedience. This preacher, as cracked out as his ideas are, is simply saying that God's authority is absolute and you'll be punished in way X. Same shit different pile as any other "justice" system.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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07-06-2011, 01:15 PM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
Ghost; God isn't diabolical? According to what standard?

For just one example; God creates the Garden of Eden. He creates Adam (with working sexual organs) then he creates Eve (with working sexual organs) and then forbids them from "knowing" each other, and then plants a tree of "knowledge" in the Garden and then this talking snake appears...which could not have existed if not for God creating it...and we all know what happens next.

How do you define diabolical?

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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07-06-2011, 03:12 PM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
Hey, Hotrod.

Breathe, homy, breathe. Lol. According to your standard.

Quote:I suppose it could be argued that the infinite term in hell is supposed to be the ultimate deterrent to committng sins, but since it seems none of us is capable of avoiding this punishment given the "crimes" of lust and doubt and envy and greed and so forth all occur quite naturally to us, then God is one diabolical motherfucker who must have intended from the get-go to damn every last one of us to hell for eternity.

Anyhoo, that was hardly the main thrust. I was just looking at it from inside the box and linking what you said into the idea of Salvationism.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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07-06-2011, 09:22 PM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
In it's simplest terms this is nothing more than "might makes right". God wins because he is the biggest bully. I call bullshit on it though, because I say that the biblical god is not moral or righteous so he doesn't deserve to make such judgements.

Any claims (for the Christian God) of justice and righteousness go right out the window as soon as you introduce the idea of propitiation for sin (an innocent paying for the sin of another). The whole idea that transgressions could be resolved by punishing an innocent is about the most unjust and barbaric idea I can think of. Imagine being a parent of two boys and catching the younger son with his hand in the cookie jar; would you consider for one second letting his older brother take the punishment instead? Of course not.

Not to mention that fact that a loving parent does not punish a child for vengeance over some supposed offense to the parents ego, instead we as parents punish our children to teach them how to behave as adults. Yet this punishment from what is supposedly the ultimate loving father of all is nothing like this. How would eternal punishment for sins fulfill any purpose other than placate a childish deity's bruised ego??? It is too late to learn any lessons in hell.

Finally, the New Testament makes the whole might makes right argument null and void by changing the rules so that eternal damnation is not actually punishment for sin at all. Sin is used as the excuse, but the real determining factor is belief in Jesus; you are safe if you believe but fry if you don't. This makes morality irrelevant, you can be a mass-murderer and accept Jesus 10 min before you die and you get off Scott free, while a kind gentle atheist who gave millions to orphans can burn forever because of unbelief. Judgement now is based on gullibility, the most gullible win while the thoughtful are punished.

If might makes right and a deity can change the rules anytime he wants (killing millions and calling it just) then what is the point of trying to please such a tyrant. You have no justification whatsoever to believe he would keep his end of the bargain. He has changed the rules several times already.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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08-06-2011, 07:11 PM
 
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
The authority/punishment scenario is predicated upon an omniscient omnipotent being sitting in judgment of his human creation, whom he made imperfect and then condemns for making imperfect finite choices while he watches and judges what omniscient foresees. Which means, free will in humans doesn't actually exist, save as our delusion, because everything is preordained.

So the ministers argument is flawed with respect to that factor, per the Bible's scripture that says as much. And also, it is then impossible for god to be omni-benevolent and then afford infinite punishment to be suffered in the hell he created firstly for his first and most beautiful (fallen) angel and his minions. And then for the humans, he created to arrive there after ultimately following the script omniscience wrote before we were born. (From heaven, as souls leaving paradise by god's will so as to quicken in the womb that then provided a barrier between ourselves and god so that, if allowed to live to see our birth, unless the universal abortionist made mom to miscarry, are then striving to be saved from god by finding god, all the days of our predestined life.)

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08-06-2011, 07:34 PM
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
One of the first rules set out is an eye for an eye, which would indicate equal punishment, for the crime in question. So an eternity in hell seems a little over the top. Not to mention that if God is willing to give us all such a huge punishment sort of at the tip of a hat, then shouldn't he have given us a more concise set of rules to live by, and you know come down once in a while to say hi, so we know he's not f'ing around. Seems brutally unfair to say, "hey stop doing things, whatever they may be (my little secret) or I'll make you pay... forever mwahahahahah". Anyone who looks at that and sees a god worth following is either delusional or terrified. How would they ever know if they were going to make it into heaven with so many inconsistencies within the bible itself not to mention the "other" bible out there. If they truly believe that eternal punishment is the end result to one misdemeanor offence than they must live lives in utter fear of their deaths. I would. Thankfully *cough cough* I spent some time thinking about it *cough cough* otherwise I would be living a scary sad life. Thank God for massive inconsistencies and lack of evidence.. and a crappy story overall?

I may have missed the point... I tend to rant.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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08-06-2011, 08:32 PM
 
RE: Infinite Authority, Infinite Punishment
(08-06-2011 07:34 PM)lucradis Wrote:  I may have missed the point... I tend to rant.

Yes, I've noticed. Must be terrible being the only member here prone to such a habit.


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Tongue
Now imagine living your life by the ultimate authority implied under the Bible and judging everyone you meet accordingly.
Per, this lovely little reminder verse about bias toward non-Christians. (The ultimate Clique')


2 John 1:10-11 (King James Version) 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
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