Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
18-02-2016, 10:49 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(09-02-2016 09:58 AM)Aliza Wrote:  Okay, theists! I’ve got a question for you all.

Which matters more: What people believe, or how they live their lives?

Which one do you believe will have the greatest positive impact on humanity? If you, as a theist, could choose one or the other for all of mankind, which one would you choose? I’m curious to learn what you’d have people believe or by what code of behavior you’d want people to follow. And choosing to have people believe in G-d and follow the 10 commandments as a result in this belief is off the table for this little thought experiment. Belief or action, please.

And for the atheists, my expectation is that you’d favor action over belief, but if you have something else in mind, let’s hear about it.

Below is my own answer to the question:

Everything I’ve learned in Judaism indicates that action is far more important than belief. A belief in G-d is nice, and it might give someone comfort, but it’s not necessary to live a wonderful life.

We live in a physical world where we express ourselves and interact with each other physically. While our emotions may not be physical, everything that goes into generating those emotions is physical.

I’m also unaware of any scripture that requires people who believe in G-d. I also see no scriptural evidence to suggest that an afterlife will exist, or that the quality of said afterlife will depend on the belief system you held while you alive. So if fear of a terrible afterlife is lifted from the table, then all that’s left is live a wonderful life while you’re still here to enjoy it.

This is an interesting topic you bring up, Aliza. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I seems to me that you are contrasting what modern-day Christians believe with what modern-day Jews believe. I understand your point to be, that Christians value more what a person believes, to the extent that they think God will judge the non-believers harshly, and send them to hell for their lack of belief.
Whereas, Jews value more a person's actions, where it is understood that good actions are pleasing to God -- it doesn't matter what beliefs they may have.

I personally prefer the latter, because we really can't control our beliefs. Our beliefs can change over time due to outside influences, but we can't force ourselves to suddenly believe something we don't. We can pretend to, but we are only kidding ourselves. (and anyway, an omniscient god would probably know we are faking it. -- sorry Pascal Sad) On the other hand, we can control our actions, at any given moment, and perform good deeds no matter what our motives.

Hey, it just dawned on me. If this is really what Judaism teacher, then Pascal's wager would be legitimate here. Do good works, no matter what the motive and you are assured to get into ... oh never mind, for Jews heaven doesn't exist.

Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

"Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt..." - Dr. Sheldon Cooper
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
18-02-2016, 10:54 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 10:49 AM)mgoering Wrote:  Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

For a Job well done? Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Chas's post
18-02-2016, 11:16 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 10:49 AM)mgoering Wrote:  
(09-02-2016 09:58 AM)Aliza Wrote:  Okay, theists! I’ve got a question for you all.

Which matters more: What people believe, or how they live their lives?

Which one do you believe will have the greatest positive impact on humanity? If you, as a theist, could choose one or the other for all of mankind, which one would you choose? I’m curious to learn what you’d have people believe or by what code of behavior you’d want people to follow. And choosing to have people believe in G-d and follow the 10 commandments as a result in this belief is off the table for this little thought experiment. Belief or action, please.

And for the atheists, my expectation is that you’d favor action over belief, but if you have something else in mind, let’s hear about it.

Below is my own answer to the question:

Everything I’ve learned in Judaism indicates that action is far more important than belief. A belief in G-d is nice, and it might give someone comfort, but it’s not necessary to live a wonderful life.

We live in a physical world where we express ourselves and interact with each other physically. While our emotions may not be physical, everything that goes into generating those emotions is physical.

I’m also unaware of any scripture that requires people who believe in G-d. I also see no scriptural evidence to suggest that an afterlife will exist, or that the quality of said afterlife will depend on the belief system you held while you alive. So if fear of a terrible afterlife is lifted from the table, then all that’s left is live a wonderful life while you’re still here to enjoy it.

This is an interesting topic you bring up, Aliza. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I seems to me that you are contrasting what modern-day Christians believe with what modern-day Jews believe. I understand your point to be, that Christians value more what a person believes, to the extent that they think God will judge the non-believers harshly, and send them to hell for their lack of belief.
Whereas, Jews value more a person's actions, where it is understood that good actions are pleasing to God -- it doesn't matter what beliefs they may have.

I personally prefer the latter, because we really can't control our beliefs. Our beliefs can change over time due to outside influences, but we can't force ourselves to suddenly believe something we don't. We can pretend to, but we are only kidding ourselves. (and anyway, an omniscient god would probably know we are faking it. -- sorry Pascal Sad) On the other hand, we can control our actions, at any given moment, and perform good deeds no matter what our motives.

Hey, it just dawned on me. If this is really what Judaism teacher, then Pascal's wager would be legitimate here. Do good works, no matter what the motive and you are assured to get into ... oh never mind, for Jews heaven doesn't exist.

Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

We are not trying to please G-d. We're really trying to please ourselves.

The Jewish laws DO involves ways to honor and respect G-d, but they're heavily focused on how to live a good life.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Aliza's post
18-02-2016, 11:23 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 11:16 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(18-02-2016 10:49 AM)mgoering Wrote:  This is an interesting topic you bring up, Aliza. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I seems to me that you are contrasting what modern-day Christians believe with what modern-day Jews believe. I understand your point to be, that Christians value more what a person believes, to the extent that they think God will judge the non-believers harshly, and send them to hell for their lack of belief.
Whereas, Jews value more a person's actions, where it is understood that good actions are pleasing to God -- it doesn't matter what beliefs they may have.

I personally prefer the latter, because we really can't control our beliefs. Our beliefs can change over time due to outside influences, but we can't force ourselves to suddenly believe something we don't. We can pretend to, but we are only kidding ourselves. (and anyway, an omniscient god would probably know we are faking it. -- sorry Pascal Sad) On the other hand, we can control our actions, at any given moment, and perform good deeds no matter what our motives.

Hey, it just dawned on me. If this is really what Judaism teacher, then Pascal's wager would be legitimate here. Do good works, no matter what the motive and you are assured to get into ... oh never mind, for Jews heaven doesn't exist.

Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

We are not trying to please G-d. We're really trying to please ourselves.

The Jewish laws DO involves ways to honor and respect G-d, but they're heavily focused on how to live a good life.

Well, I would agree. My doing good things for others is very pleasing to me. But, given my non-belief, the pleasure I get has nothing to do with religion.

"Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt..." - Dr. Sheldon Cooper
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
18-02-2016, 11:26 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 10:54 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-02-2016 10:49 AM)mgoering Wrote:  Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

For a Job well done? Consider

Oh, very clever! I like the wordplay. Nice "Job"!

"Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt..." - Dr. Sheldon Cooper
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
18-02-2016, 11:38 AM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 11:23 AM)mgoering Wrote:  
(18-02-2016 11:16 AM)Aliza Wrote:  We are not trying to please G-d. We're really trying to please ourselves.

The Jewish laws DO involves ways to honor and respect G-d, but they're heavily focused on how to live a good life.

Well, I would agree. My doing good things for others is very pleasing to me. But, given my non-belief, the pleasure I get has nothing to do with religion.

The same is true for me, but whatever motivates people to do good works still results in a positive impact for society
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Aliza's post
18-02-2016, 11:41 AM (This post was last modified: 18-02-2016 11:49 AM by mgoering.)
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 11:38 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(18-02-2016 11:23 AM)mgoering Wrote:  Well, I would agree. My doing good things for others is very pleasing to me. But, given my non-belief, the pleasure I get has nothing to do with religion.

The same is true for me, but whatever motivates people to do good works still results in a positive impact for society

Amen, sister! Big Grin Now, if we could do away with all the guilt and fear imposed upon us, we'd all be happier!

"Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt..." - Dr. Sheldon Cooper
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like mgoering's post
18-02-2016, 12:56 PM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 10:49 AM)mgoering Wrote:  Why are we trying to please God then?! HuhHuh

This is a good question even in a Christian context. They like to paint God as being entirely self-sufficient and all-powerful -- he is "pure existence", etc. If this is so, how is he capable of being pleased or displeased, or indeed, affected in any way, by any thing we do?

I used to hang out on a traditional Catholic forum (Fisheaters, kind of a precursor to Suscipe Domine), and they were always arguing about the relative merits of the traditional Latin Mass vs. the Novus Ordo Mass (what most American Catholics experience today). In their minds, the Novus Ordo is an abomination, and whenever anyone dared to express a preference for it, the answer would be "It doesn't matter what you like. The Mass isn't for you, it's for God." Aside from the arrogance of them pretending to know what God likes or wants, I always thought that was backwards. If the Mass (or any other church service) has any validity at all, it is 100% for us. God doesn't need anything from us. Why should he care what kind of Mass we offer?

All this is even more true when you realize that God doesn't even exist. Masses and other church services are the way they are because that's what we like (or that's what the priests like). It has nothing do to do with what God likes (as if we could know what that is anyway!).
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
18-02-2016, 12:59 PM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 11:16 AM)Aliza Wrote:  We are not trying to please G-d. We're really trying to please ourselves.

The Jewish laws DO involves ways to honor and respect G-d, but they're heavily focused on how to live a good life.

I think Christians are focused on living a Good life as well, they just tend to be far more cynical about it, that we desire more to live a Good life than we find ourselves able to live it. That as much as a man desire to be good, he also desires not to be. While there are good people, human history as whole is more reflective of our failure to be good, than our success at it.

And I think the fundamental question of christianity, is in regards that which transform us from one life to the other, that which reconciles a man whose far from God, to one which no longer is.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
18-02-2016, 01:10 PM
RE: Theists, which matters more: action or belief?
(18-02-2016 10:15 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(18-02-2016 09:06 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  While those views might be consistent with the views of Judaism that's developed in the last two thousands years, I don't think they are particularly faithful to the perspective of OT writers, etc.. who often focus of the importance of changing one's heart, as central to our relationship with God and man.

I plan to respond to your other points, but I'm just about to run out the door. Can you please provide me with some examples of what you mean? General references in the Hebrew Bible will be sufficient if looking up exact verses is too tedious.

Well I'd refer to the nearly seven hundred passages of the bible which refer to the heart.

That even begins in Genesis, in which God himself after destroying his own creation, recognizes in the aftermath that it was futile, that "the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth". That evil stems from the heart.

And the numerous passages in which love of God, reconciliation of God is matter of the heart as well. That God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)

Or a passage like the one in Isaiah 29:13: " This people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote." Emphasizing the heart, and meaningless of empty gestures.

And I believe that the NT verse, of without love, we have nothing at all, is as much a truism for Judaism as it is for Christianity.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: