Why Must Children Suffer?
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23-08-2013, 09:11 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
(23-08-2013 08:31 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  You may want to check on that since certain groups and geographies were targeted. I recently read the book The Crimes of Stalin. Pretty interesting.

Stalin targeted people when he thought they might offer resistance to him. You bet certain groups and regions were affected. Not for racial reasons. He was paranoid and bloodthirsty. He was not racially motivated. Plenty of real crimes to accuse him of, without making any up. I guess it's time for a history lesson: Stalin targeted independent landowners as part of the agricultural collectivization process; disruption was therefore concentrated where there were more independent landowners (including but not exclusive to central Ukraine - lots of Belarusians died right next door, heck, lots of Uzbeks died, but they didn't have a foreign lobby during the Cold War, so nobody gives a shit). The upper leadership were callous and the bureaucratic apparatus was incompetent, but even so there were attempts at famine relief. The exact same thing happened in China, except of course they are "all the same" and nobody can be bothered to make the spurious accusations of ethnic cleansing.

I think that's just about enough on the subject ol' Uncle Joe. It's interesting enough for its own sake, and in my deranged optimism I can only hope you learn something, but it has absolutely nothing to do with anything germane to the thread.

(23-08-2013 08:31 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Would you extend that to all those who were complicit in their crimes? The credentialed scientists and doctors who put skeletons in museums as examples? Are you saying not one Nazi (or underling of Mao or Pol Pot or Stalin) was an evolutionary biologist?

Nazi racial doctrine was incompatible with sound biology. It doesn't matter what they thought, it was bad science. You must be trying really hard not to understand this. They could be inspired by whatever they want (and some of them were inspired by a religious conviction, or have you forgotten the belt buckles already?). Was some of that inspiration from a skewed view of evolutionary principles? You bet. Is that relevant to anything in any way? No.

Have you perhaps forgotten my last post? That would seem unlikely, since you just responded to it. But I shall reiterate, since you did not address the matter. Either they were not 'naturalists', because their views were incompatible with the scientific consensus, or they were bad 'naturalists', because their views were incompatible with the scientific consensus. Either way it doesn't matter.

(23-08-2013 08:31 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Ah. Jesus reviews individuals for salvation, not "untold millions". I would expect no less.

Except there literally were and are hundreds of millions of people with no knowledge of Jesus during their lifetimes. What is their fate? If they are reviewed individually, then on what grounds? For certainly it cannot be on adherence to a doctrine they had no knowledge of - if so such individual review would admit of but one conclusion.

Straight answer, please.

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23-08-2013, 09:18 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote: No, Stalin threw out the Darwinists and brought in Lysenko and his bogus theories.

You are really a massively ignorant fuck.

I know who Lysenko is. His was a misapplication of theory, yes. Similar ideas were used in China. I’m sure you know that, too.

Are you familiar with what Jesus said about “bad trees give bad fruit”? Lysenko started from a bad place.

But if Stalinist “threw out” the Darwinists, are you saying his sole scientific advisor for more than a decade was Lysenko only? And if not, whom did he replace the ones he “threw out” with? Born again Christians who were biologists and agronomists and etc.? We are talking about Joseph Stalin and not an Obama or Bush who has Christian believers placed in authority beneath them. Please justify your statement.

Quote:The problem of pain and suffering in the world is a death blow to any concept of a loving, powerful god.

Agreed if the hypothetical deity is all love and no justice, yes. Correct. I know you are aware that sometimes when criminals suffer or are punished, the victims and their families feel some sort of expiation. There is another reason why suffering has meaning (at times).

Quote:There is no explanation for it that does not end with "we can't know the mind of god".

Did you know the Bible says Christians have the mind of God through Christ? I know in God’s mind are:

*Love and benevolence
*A desire to repay evil with evil and “innocent suffering” with blessing
*Righteous wrath against rebels

You are bringing up a new conundrum for me, Chas. I know atheists are incredibly intelligent. But there must be ten examples on this thread of “a loving god doesn’t let anyone ever suffer for any reason if this god is also omnipotent”. I can’t believe intelligent people like us are unable or unwilling to discuss how justice, foreknowledge, determinism, free will, etc. modify this resolution.

Quote:Humans are more moral than any of those gods. We create morality by empathy and reason - two things those gods seem to be very short on.

I believe a 100% atheist society would arrive at morals by empathy and reason. If you have a smoking gun to demonstrate the evolution of empathy (by empirical evidence beyond “gosh, a number of higher animals besides man demonstrate empathy) I’d love to hear it. Remember, empathy means to “walk in another’s shoes”, something Jesus taught explicitly. I have seen our family dog exhibit sympathy, but not empathy. Perhaps you’d like to rephrase your challenge.

Quote:I find PJ's explanations morally repugnant, dishonest, and logically incoherent.

Regarding pain and suffering or everything in general? I’ve given some good reasons for suffering:

*Pain is an evolutionary-based stimulus that promotes individual and group survival
*Pain is a teacher of knowledge
*Pain is a catalyst that expiates freedom from guilt, resolution to crime, etc.
*Pain is an identifier that helps people have empathy for Christ and to Christ for other people

If you were to build a website that stood on your principle that there is no reason for any pain or suffering whatsoever (your death knell to theism, you wrote) do you think you would receive any negative comments from disabled athletes, holocaust survivors, families of murder victims, ex-criminals who are now Christians, etc?

Do you recognize the disconnect, Chas, between “God doesn’t love anyone because everyone has to suffer sometime” with real people, atheist and spiritual who not only survive pain but at times relish it, are motivated by it, and thrive on it?

Do you further understand that there are times when moral people intentionally cause others suffering for their good and the good of others?
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23-08-2013, 09:19 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:The ignore feature is amazing! I should have started using it weeks ago.

Thank you.
Please do not put Chas on ignore. I think he’s pretty cool. He certainly has a great sense of humor and I love that.
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23-08-2013, 09:25 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:Let me clarify my previous post.

If you 'witnessed' in that manner to one of my family members or friends who was a victim, I would drag you out of the room and beat you senseless.

I may have done so already. We do not have many degrees of separation between us.

Again, in public and with disclaimers, after asking the person for permission to propose a solution, I ask:

“What should god have done?” and they always say, “He should have stopped it. If he exists, why didn’t he?” and then, gently and carefully, we talk about free will, and they always say, “I see.”

The positive benefit, as I wrote, is typically followed by, “Can I pray for you?” and when I do pray for them AND (sometimes, it depends) for the abuser also, I’ve seen everything up to grateful tears and thank yous.

You see, I love to come to this forum to play-test ideas. Therefore, if you as a group can come up with more out-of-the-box challenges, that would be great (I’m being serious). Because many of the canards that you believe I’ve field tested and found lacking and the Bible (as always) triumphant, exalted and ascended.

PS. I personally recommend not using hate speech like “If you do that, I’ll beat you”. There are some very polite and respectful atheists on this forum and you’re giving them a bad rep.
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23-08-2013, 09:29 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
One of our younger users (Ferdy) summed this whole thing up with her post below. There is clarity in her brevity if you care to think about it but evidently you aren't willing and/or able.

"I am not even going to skim through this thread. Let me answer the title of this thread instead.

"Why must children suffer?"

Because that's life."

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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23-08-2013, 09:37 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:Depends on what you mean by the word problem.

If we are referring to problem, specifically, as an inconsistency with a world-view, then I agree that a naturalist does not have a problem with suffering. This is of course not the only meaning of the word problem, but it was what you seemed to be discussing in the original post. In that post, you mentioned how the existence of suffering is often taken or presented as grounds to reject the notion of an omnipotent, loving God on the basis of inconsistency. You then went on to propose reasons that such a God might exist side-by-side with such suffering, and we have since gone into an argument over whether or not such grounds are valid in what I've been calling the "problem of suffering". Somehow you mixed in the notion that a naturalist would be indifferent to suffering. (If I'm misreading your first post, please go over it with me so I'm clear about what you were saying instead.) This was the original topic of discussion as I saw it, and whether someone finds a measure of their suffering partially alleviated by faith is irrelevant to that discussion, much as whether a particular car ran a red light in Pittsburg is irrelevant to a discussion of AIDS in Africa. In this narrow sense of the word problem, no, a naturalist does not have a problem with suffering, because the fact that suffering could exist is consistent with the naturalist world view, but a theist may well have such a problem with suffering, because a theistic world view may be inconsistent with the existence of suffering.

I agree. Yet, if we also agree as you wrote that if someone finds faith alleviates suffering is irrelevant to that discussion, isn’t the existence of a loving god also irrelevant to that same discussion?

Quote: However, if we are speaking about whether suffering is a problem in a different definition of "something in the world we despise, and want to eliminate or reduce", the answer can be entirely different. A naturalist may well not have his or her world-view challenged by the fact that suffering exists (not a problem in the one sense) while at the same time dedicating significant time, energy, and resources to alleviating it, and despising the (regrettable and inevitable) fact that it does exist. This makes it a problem in a different sense of the word. The naturalist may even see the capacity for pain as serving a useful function, but then seek to reduce the world's suffering by removing the triggers of that pain without compromising its function. (For example, emotional grief when a kid kills herself playing with a firearm might serve a useful psychological function arising from evolution, but we can try to reduce that suffering by taking steps to keep kids from playing with guns, without compromising that function of the grief reaction.) However, the ability to do this is limited from a naturalist perspective, because we know that we can't simply wave our hand and eliminate suffering and don't think for a moment that we can, and so the fact that suffering exists doesn't challenge the naturalist paradigm OR the idea that a naturalist might prefer to alleviate it or eliminate it. This isn't to say that a naturalist will automatically have the latter sort of problem with suffering, but it is to say that it is to say that having such a problem with suffering in no way contradicts with naturalism. Thus, a naturalist can have one sort of problem with suffering without having the other. You seem to be equivocating between these two senses of the word problem.

That makes total sense to me. I agree 100% (I think, if I understand all the nuances of your points).

Therefore, where you say “naturalists work to reduce suffering but cannot simply wave our hand” (and certainly, Christians would say the same) then both naturalists and Christians have to grapple with a god who can do so or refuses to do so. So I’m back to my syllogism but with a difference:

Naturalists and Christians know there are reasons for suffering (natural reasons and sometimes this is appropriate pain and sometime it isn’t) so if there is a god, we should ask why SOMETIMES god doesn’t end suffering… and there is answer(s) for that. I’ve seen him stop pain sometimes, I’ve seen him do it proactively (before the suffering is allowed to happen) too.

Quote: My perception -- and I have yet to see anything to contradict it, and much to contradict the alternatives I've heard to it -- is that the power of the gospel is simply the powers of human belief and motivation, nothing more but also nothing less. That is to say, that belief in these tales and articles of faith may motivate people to react in positive ways, or negative ones. Psychologically speaking, this motivation and its effects may be very powerful, and can extend to the unconscious or psychosomatic level. In that sense, we may describe the gospel as powerful. However, my perception is that there is no supernatural power to the gospel, and that the words and concepts have no power beyond the simple, naturalistic responses of a human psyche in the grip of belief. This would seem to account for your general description of people healed, marriages saved, and lives changed. And yes, we might count these as the positives of the religion. But if we're discussing whether the presence or practice of a religion's a good thing (which, again, is separate form the discussion of whether it's logically consistent), we'd need to examine the positives in light of the negatives, and discuss whether they can be separated or whether they come as a package deal.

I don’t hesitate to agree since I’ve seen that phenomena with other religions and other Christians. Yes. But personally, I’ve seen so many things that are inexplicable in my life and others from a psychological perspective that I must at least move to a parapsychological perspective!

Quote: Sure, extras are nice. But what you said, the same thing could be said of almost any religion, or of something that fills the same role like secular humanism, or perhaps psychological counseling, or perhaps just being treated like a living person rather than a dying patient, or, "hey, they're getting all this great stuff, but what about something more, like a lollypop? Why shouldn't they have a lollypop on top of everything else?"

And yeah, throw any of those in and you can ask, "well, what about adding another plus in?" and it would be legitimate. (Debatable is whether adding Christianity to the mix is a plus or a minus, and I'd guess it comes down to subjective judgement.) But the same strategy could also be applied to Christianity. "Yeah, sure, the patient's receiving faith counseling, but what if they want something more? Like, I dunno, the prospect of scientists producing a cure?"

Does pastoral care provide benefits? Yes. For some patients. In some cases. It is hardly alone in this, and the positive way in which patients can react to the beliefs in no way renders the beliefs accurate.

We can (and usually do) measure the benefits of any treatment for a patient -- including the psychological effects of spiritual counseling. That's WHY there's data on the lack of effectiveness of prayer in healing. We can compare that to the effects of other treatments, including treatments that might be mutually exclusive (so pick one or another). We can measure the negative consequences of side-effects and weigh them in balance to the positive effects, even going so far as to examine how a treatment might negatively affect an otherwise-recovered patient thirty years down the line. To simply look at a few positive elements of a particular form of care to the exclusion of the negatives or the alternatives is to lose perspective.

Yes, you are right about biases, lenses and perspective. For example, there’s a fresh study out that children who have regular, early bedtimes do better on IQ tests and in school. We both know that where the scientific correlation would be assumed to be “Because they sleep longer and their brains develop better”, the real world environment tells us they likely also have a more stable home environment, a regular routine in many areas, better nutrition, etc. Perspective.

My perspective is I’ve seen so many volumes of god-work in the area of pain and suffering, I’m convinced it is a necessity for human growth and development.
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23-08-2013, 09:41 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:I'm going to dispute you here, Chas. I didn't know about Lysenko until you mentioned him and I hit Wikipedia, and I'd wager that most people haven't. Technically ignorance, but I wouldn't call someone massively ignorant for not knowing about Stalin's appointment of Lysenko.

No, the problem with what he said here is that PJ is PRETENDING he knows something, perhaps deluding himself that he knows something, when in fact what he thinks he knows is false...

.... actually, that's the problem with most of what PJ says anywhere on this board...

... but this problem isn't so much about ignorance, which in isolation could be quickly remedied, but arrogance, which is considerably more intractable.

In other words, calling him ignorant is an insult to the ignorant.

I knew about Lysenko before Chas pointed him out. I mean, think about what a great poster boy Lysenko is AGAINST applying social Darwinism outside anything social! It's an example I've used before with relish.

But I come from a strong culture of leadership emphasis. Stalin led Lysenko and championed his “efforts”, which led to so much starvation it has been called a genocide. It’s not possible or logical to deny that Stalin felt Lysenko was right on and was therefore responsible.

Lysenko’s work, for example, featured in the book “The Crimes of STALIN”.
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23-08-2013, 09:50 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:Do you agree with my premise? I keep answering your questions and you keep avoiding mine...

Yes, I am absolutely certain that an omnipotent, omni-benevolent god would not allow any suffering. It's not rocket science. Anything that can be gained through suffering can be gained another way without the suffering. For an omnipotent god, there is always another way. Such a god can do anything.

What I'm hearing from you, inferred by your comments and questions, is you don't believe your god is omnipotent. Hmm...

I accept your premise as 100% true. Therefore, since an omnipotent god can do anything, he could also have reduced the potential suffering that was appropriate. In other words, he could have put everyone in hell rather than saving some through Christ, he could have created pain that hurt 100 times more when you touch a stove, he could have reduced natural limits on pain (some people pass out when they have trauma or pain and that could have been removed) and etc.

May I give you a specific example? I’ve done things to my children willfully where they said “Please make this hurt less.” And then we spoke about the amount of hurt that is appropriate, learning, correction, etc. I’m sure you’ve done the same if you have kids. I mean, children complain when you scrub dirt off them with soap “too hard” when it really was a gentle yet appropriate scrubbing.

Let’s go back to god, then. It sure seems like all atheists say “Why didn’t god eliminate all suffering?” and all Christians say “Some suffering is inexplicable and some suffering makes total sense”. Do you see a disconnect there? What am I missing?

For another example, there some people who like pain. We call them masochists. If god were to sovereignly remove all their pain and suffering they would experience displeasure. Yet freethinkers still hold to an “all pain is bad pain” standard. Why? If I may go further, I’m not being facetious at all about masochists. I’m saying we tend to talk in generalities like “all suffering” and yet the god I know is exceptionally nuanced and knowing, and at times, despite what most Christians seem to promote, exceptionally subtle!

I apologize sincerely if I seem to duck questions, or indeed, have ducked them. Let me know which ones you want to hear back on and I’ll get there. Be patient with me as it me answering eight or ten people on this thread who are not asking questions of one another but of me. But it’s my thread so I deserve it.
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23-08-2013, 10:03 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?

In your theology all have sinned. God made us sinners. God made Adam and God made Eve, and he knew they would sin. He provided the motive, means and opportunity for them to sin. He has implanted or allowed to be inherited that sin nature into all that followed.

God created hell, a place of eternal unbearable punishment that by definition all humans are destined for (you can quibble about children going or not if you like, but that argument doesn't affect the larger point), because all humans have the sin nature he gave them.

God created one way to avoid hell, and that is to believe the right things. The things you must believe are communicated 2000 years ago into an unverifiable self-contradictory document that is so unclear it required humans to vote on which parts should be included and has spawned thousands of contradictory denominations and cults.

1. God created humans with a sin nature
2. God created eternal unending punishment for those who sin
3. The only criteria for escaping unending punishment is to believe the right doctrine
4. The true doctrine has not been reliably communicated
5. God is good, omnipotent and omniscient
This seems like a self-contradictory set of statements.

Though I disagree with some of what you wrote, I LOVE this. You are thinking concretely and being logical. Live long and prosper, peace and long life, I say.

Quote: 1. God created humans with a sin nature

Arguable since the Bible says much about this e.g. “God made man upright but man has sought out many indulgences” but I’ll accept this based on god’s omniscience and etc.

Quote: 2. God created eternal unending punishment for those who sin

I don’t think he did. I think he created a place for eternal punishment based on the necessity of eternal punishment. Remember my god always does what is right so it was right to eternally punish while limiting the temporal place and the measures of suffering.

Specifically, I myself am actually an (almost) normal person. I have to “deal” with eternal Hell, let alone children suffering for fewer short years on Earth! But you know what? When I think of what Hitler and Himmler did, and that they died a few years before they might have anyway after killing millions and causing them untold misery, I think an eternal Hell makes sense.

Again, god could have not made a hell based on omnipotence but had to make one based on righteousness.

But there again, I’ll agree with “2” also. God created eternal punishment with no hope of redemption after death.

Quote: 3. The only criteria for escaping unending punishment is to believe the right doctrine

Can we amend that to “the only criteria to escape unending punishment is to want god to be involved with your life”? Do you see how that one change in statement sets Christians and atheists at each others’ throats? I’m an inclusivist, so I personally believe that one who hears the gospel may respond, but someone who never hears the gospel can be “open” to god and saved or “closed” to god and lost.

Quote: 4. The true doctrine has not been reliably communicated

Agreed! Christians and the religious of all faiths do a lousy job here. That’s why Paul felt compelled to teach to “show yourself an approved workman who rightly interprets” the good stuff.

Quote:5. God is good, omnipotent and omniscient
This seems like a self-contradictory set of statements.

If good means “does not cause pain” let alone “all just”, it isn’t self-contradictory, it’s self-defeating. Good people cause pain to others at times.
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23-08-2013, 10:13 AM
RE: Why Must Children Suffer?
Quote:Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

Now there we have something in common. You see, that’s what Christians say of atheists. Who is right? Time will tell (unless we just die and then know nothing ever anymore).

Quote:I do not envy PJ. My deconversion was 15 years ago and I am grateful (to myself) that I do not have to do that shit again. Sux. Go from hero to zero in T-minus 10 minutes. Not being able to visit with my own family is the worst part.

That is the worst part. I feel badly. My family would never condemn me if I walked away from faith. They’d hug me in person and pray for me in private. I’m led to wonder if your family is that judgmental if their nature wasn’t a catalyst in your deconversion.

Quote:I'm with Impulse, if the whole point is getting to heaven, then why didn't Omniscient god just select those people that he knew in advance that would be saved and not make the ones who wouldn't be, go straight to heaven and just destroy this world? He easily could have done that when he "flooded" the earth, just not talk to Noah about it! Then you skip out on eternal punishment for BILLIONS of people but the other people end up in the same place! Perfect Justice and Mercy!

I’ve thought about that before. It wouldn’t be a level playing field in terms of the Law. The Mosaic Law punishes for crimes which are committed. I mean, if you’re going to be in Hell for partying, it would be very uncool (and unlawful) to suffer in Hell without having enjoyed the party, first. Think about it.

Quote:Did he not do it that way because he enjoys the drama of reality? Would that have been to boring? After all, we know from the old testament this dude loves him some blood and gore....there are plenty of ways of imagining a far easier scenario. There are few of imagining the present world is the best of all possible designs.

It depends on how bad one thinks sin is. It must be really, really bad if it demands the very death of god, right?

Quote:Still waiting on Genocide and Catholic molesting priests....

I’ll do my best and if I miss something, please tell me.

Genocide has arguably happened within or prompted by Christian communities but never in the Bible. Even where you can point out god telling the Israelites to kill the men and marry the women and etc. (and I have a website to share with you if you think that the women were treated with dishonor) the Israelites still had to fight battles and war. Genocide is different, but I don’t want to quibble about words. Let’s just say god told people to kill other people and I’m set.

For example, Genesis 9 says kill murderers. I’m good with that. Hey, this is the same god that then sends any unrepentant murderer to hell.

As for Catholic priests, I clearly understand the whore of Revelation 17 to be the continent of Europe seated in Roman Catholic power. 90% of general “Christians suck!” objections that are historical in nature were caused by… wait for it… Rome. There are some individuals on this forum who had an abusive nondenominational or Protestant home. But paedophiles, simony, heresy, murder? Listen, god puts markers on these folks (the Catholic leaders, not individual Catholics). For example, the black mass is a mock of… wait for it… the Catholic mass. Satanists don’t have rituals where they mock tithing Christians giving to the poor.
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