You CAN game Christian morality
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16-02-2015, 07:11 AM
You CAN game Christian morality
A while back, I made a thread about Christian morality having bad incentives. It was mainly a thread to say that Christianity doesn't compel you to do good, but rather to swear an oath of fealty. Throughout the thread, at least one apologist told me that you can't game the system to sin knowing that you will be forgiven later, because that isn't a non-repentant lifestyle. I wasn't really trying to make that point in the thread, but I actually realized something: you totally can game the system like that. Here we go:

So, according to the Bible, there is only one unforgivable sin (blaspheming the Holy Spirit). That tautologically means that every other sin is forgivable. So, if I have a moment of weakness and sin, I can ask for forgiveness and repent. Christians will agree with that statement; it's part and parcel to their world view. Now, if I plan to sin knowing that I can ask for forgiveness later, sin, and then ask for forgiveness, the very act of planning to game the system is a forgivable sin. When I ask for forgiveness, all I have to do is apologize both for the sin and for planning to game the system.

Now, apologists will understandably take issue with that second part, and I get that. It looks super immoral, but that's not because the person gaming the system is especially heinous, but because their morality system is just that bad. Look at the system. What's the difference between spontaneous and planned sin?

1) If you believe you have to be truly contrite to be absolved of sin, would anyone ever get into heaven? I don't think anyone feels that bad about everything they do. What if you take God's name in vain seconds before being killed in a car crash? It would seem if the system were strict enough to weed out those trying to game it, that people legitimately trying to follow the system would get weeded out, too.

2) If you believe that the act of trying to game the system is somehow worse than simply spontaneously sinning, it's special pleading. Unless you can show me some scripture to show that this is clearly the case, it's likely an ad hoc assertion to make the system look less pointless. I mean, yes, you can make the point that so long as you plan to sin, you aren't repentant, and you're playing with fire. You could be hit by a truck at any time, so why take that risk, but see my point above. How much are you allowed to "spontaneously" sin before you stop being repentant? I submit that setting those goal posts to allow "normal" levels of sin into heaven but to exclude premeditated sin is just ad hoc special pleading.

So, the problem with the Christian morality system isn't just that it gives bad incentives, but that it cannot generate sane outcomes. The only thing this system had over the previous system of "God kills the wicked and blesses the righteous" is that at least this system is nonfalsifiable. At least you can't look around you and prove it wrong with simple observation. So, Christianity upgraded from Judaism's "provably wrong" setup to "it doesn't make any sense, but at least you can't prove it wrong". Yay?
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16-02-2015, 07:51 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
Well putting my old tin foil theist hat back on for the sake of argument, let's see -- what would I have countered this with, back in the day?

I would have said, I think, that although salvation is by the grace of god and has nothing to do with works, true repentance results in changed behavior and desires. A Real Christian™ doesn't want to game the system, they want to be "good". I would in asserting this conveniently ignore addiction issues, simple habit and personal weaknesses, and the general human condition. In the Real World™, we know that just wanting or wishing something doesn't make it so, or make it easy. But in the Christian mindset, bam, god gives you a new nature / makes you a new creation.

The real problem with Christian morality is that it replaces the actual reasons why people are people wherever you go, with the notion that they are as they are because they are defective and need fixing. If you claim to have been fixed then you must at least plausibly appear to be better / nobler than those who aren't. The reality is that you haven't changed a whit, other than to the extent the placebo effect of believing you've changed for the better might inspire you (in the short run) to behave better, or the extent to which group dynamics reinforces you in being at least superficially a better person. As such you end up gaming the system anyway; you're pretending to be, in the vernacular, "holier than thou" when you actually are not. The best possible outcome is that you improve yourself by the same means that anyone does, but claim that goddunnit.
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16-02-2015, 08:23 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 07:11 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  So, according to the Bible, there is only one unforgivable sin (blaspheming the Holy Spirit). That tautologically means that every other sin is forgivable. So, if I have a moment of weakness and sin, I can ask for forgiveness and repent. Christians will agree with that statement; it's part and parcel to their world view. Now, if I plan to sin knowing that I can ask for forgiveness later, sin, and then ask for forgiveness, the very act of planning to game the system is a forgivable sin.

Why would you treat forgiveness, differently here than if it were applied in the human sphere?

We seem to understand the difference between a true and authentic apology, and an insincere one. If I were a husband who was seeking to repeatedly do the same things, knowing his wife would forgive him when asked, than what does that say about the nature of my apology?

My apology would in essence be inauthentic, and I would just be seeking forgiveness from my wife, hoping to take advantage of her gullibility, her inability to recognize the insincerity of my request to be forgiven.
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16-02-2015, 08:35 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 08:23 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  My apology would in essence be inauthentic, and I would just be seeking forgiveness from my wife, hoping to take advantage of her gullibility, her inability to recognize the insincerity of my request to be forgiven.

Exactly, but God (your wife Laugh out load ) will forgive you because all sins apart from blaspheming the Holy Spirit are forgiveable Big Grin *despite* recognising the request as insincere.

Or are you asserting that insincere requests for forgiveness are *also* unforgiveable sins, in direct contradiction to the words of Christ himself?

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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16-02-2015, 08:40 AM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 08:44 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 08:35 AM)morondog Wrote:  Or are you asserting that insincere requests for forgiveness are *also* unforgiveable sins, in direct contradiction to the words of Christ himself?

An insencere request for forgiveness, doesn't even amount to an actual request for forgiveness, anymore so than a lie, amounts to the truth.
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16-02-2015, 08:52 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 08:40 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(16-02-2015 08:35 AM)morondog Wrote:  Or are you asserting that insincere requests for forgiveness are *also* unforgiveable sins, in direct contradiction to the words of Christ himself?

An insencere request for forgiveness, doesn't even amount to an actual request for forgiveness, anymore so than a lie, amounts to the truth.

Oh but I really want God to forgive me, I really do, because otherwise I will go to hell. It's a sincere request. I just don't intend to stop "sinning" Big Grin

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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16-02-2015, 09:00 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 08:52 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(16-02-2015 08:40 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  An insencere request for forgiveness, doesn't even amount to an actual request for forgiveness, anymore so than a lie, amounts to the truth.

Oh but I really want God to forgive me, I really do, because otherwise I will go to hell. It's a sincere request. I just don't intend to stop "sinning" Big Grin

You know, I remember as a Christian that very few people seemed to be successful in following all of the rules and regulations of their doctrine and the ones that supposedly did turned out to be huge hypocrites. It was more of constant cycle of doing what you would've done anyway, living your life like an unsaved person and then feeling a twinge of guilt and asking Jeebus to forgive you for simply being human. No one can stop being human, so every Christian is forced into this cycle of guilt/repentance. How many times do believers get saved or rededicate their lives to Christ? It's quite a common occurrence.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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16-02-2015, 09:06 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 07:11 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  A while back, I made a thread about Christian morality having bad incentives. It was mainly a thread to say that Christianity doesn't compel you to do good, but rather to swear an oath of fealty. Throughout the thread, at least one apologist told me that you can't game the system to sin knowing that you will be forgiven later, because that isn't a non-repentant lifestyle. I wasn't really trying to make that point in the thread, but I actually realized something: you totally can game the system like that. Here we go:

So, according to the Bible, there is only one unforgivable sin (blaspheming the Holy Spirit). That tautologically means that every other sin is forgivable. So, if I have a moment of weakness and sin, I can ask for forgiveness and repent. Christians will agree with that statement; it's part and parcel to their world view. Now, if I plan to sin knowing that I can ask for forgiveness later, sin, and then ask for forgiveness, the very act of planning to game the system is a forgivable sin. When I ask for forgiveness, all I have to do is apologize both for the sin and for planning to game the system.

Now, apologists will understandably take issue with that second part, and I get that. It looks super immoral, but that's not because the person gaming the system is especially heinous, but because their morality system is just that bad. Look at the system. What's the difference between spontaneous and planned sin?

1) If you believe you have to be truly contrite to be absolved of sin, would anyone ever get into heaven? I don't think anyone feels that bad about everything they do. What if you take God's name in vain seconds before being killed in a car crash? It would seem if the system were strict enough to weed out those trying to game it, that people legitimately trying to follow the system would get weeded out, too.

2) If you believe that the act of trying to game the system is somehow worse than simply spontaneously sinning, it's special pleading. Unless you can show me some scripture to show that this is clearly the case, it's likely an ad hoc assertion to make the system look less pointless. I mean, yes, you can make the point that so long as you plan to sin, you aren't repentant, and you're playing with fire. You could be hit by a truck at any time, so why take that risk, but see my point above. How much are you allowed to "spontaneously" sin before you stop being repentant? I submit that setting those goal posts to allow "normal" levels of sin into heaven but to exclude premeditated sin is just ad hoc special pleading.

So, the problem with the Christian morality system isn't just that it gives bad incentives, but that it cannot generate sane outcomes. The only thing this system had over the previous system of "God kills the wicked and blesses the righteous" is that at least this system is nonfalsifiable. At least you can't look around you and prove it wrong with simple observation. So, Christianity upgraded from Judaism's "provably wrong" setup to "it doesn't make any sense, but at least you can't prove it wrong". Yay?

Protestant gaming of the system is nothing new, it has a proud tradition:

Infamous Indulgence Led to Reformation

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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16-02-2015, 09:34 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 08:52 AM)morondog Wrote:  Oh but I really want God to forgive me, I really do, because otherwise I will go to hell. It's a sincere request. I just don't intend to stop "sinning" Big Grin

So you basically want God to accept you without repentance?
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16-02-2015, 09:43 AM
RE: You CAN game Christian morality
(16-02-2015 09:00 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  It was more of constant cycle of doing what you would've done anyway, living your life like an unsaved person and then feeling a twinge of guilt and asking Jeebus to forgive you for simply being human. No one can stop being human, so every Christian is forced into this cycle of guilt/repentance. How many times do believers get saved or rededicate their lives to Christ? It's quite a common occurrence.

But wouldn't all guilt have to be resolved through some variety of forgiveness or repentance? Either that or by no believing in the wrongness of the thing one had done?

Quote:You know, I remember as a Christian that very few people seemed to be successful in following all of the rules and regulations of their doctrine and the ones that supposedly did turned out to be huge hypocrites.

I guess, this would be an actual criticism of Christianity, if it promises moral excellence among it's adherents, rather a recognition that we're all failures, sinners.
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