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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:56 pm 
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TheEllipticalDisillusion wrote:
You're blaming evolution then for the negatives? Down with Evil Evolution! :P

Why are the negatives because we aren't what god intended us to be? What was the intention? I'd say it's entirely plausible that the positives are what this god did not intend. This is one of the aspects of the worship of dieties that I just don't understand. It seems to me that believers pick the good as defining characteristics of their god and attribute the negative elsewhere.


Please don't put words in my mouth, TED. Evolution is a natural process; we're natural beings. Evil is a word we invented, to describe an aspect of our reality. I would no more call evolution evil than I would call a rainstorm or a sunrise or the progression of the seasons evil.

I have no intention of engaging with you on the question of the nature of God. Except that I owe it to myself to mention that you know much less than you think you do about what believers believe and why, or about the range and diversity of our beliefs—as your remarks to me demonstrate.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


Last edited by Primula Baggins on Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:56 pm 
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We were created. Everything (yes, even LOTR) created is flawed. Therefore, we are flawed=> Negative aspects of humanity.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:14 pm 
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TheEllipticalDisillusion wrote:
It seems to me that believers pick the good as defining characteristics of their god and attribute the negative elsewhere.


I guess it depends on the person. I find the wrathful, vengeful God of the Old Testament to be rather unpleasant and negative. But that's just me.

I think there is a tendency to have this conversation:
"Do this!"
"Why?"
"Because I said so!"
"Not a good enough reason. I don't want to do it."
"Do it because it is the right thing to do!"
"I don't think it is. Why should I listen to you?"
"Do it because [insert ultimate authority] sez so!"
"OK"

In some cases, ultimate authority is a parent or teacher or policeman, in other cases it's God. We have fashioned God in our image of ultimate Right, Good, Truth, Love, Knowledge and Power, or some of those, anyway. Then we have his authority to back our assertions. So naturally we attribute everything positive to our version of God.

I'm with Prim on believing that we got the way we were through evolution. I don't particularly believe that there was divine tweaking along the way. A moderated amount of killer instinct, natural suspicion of "other" and a selfish gene aren't all that bad, if they keep us from extinction. But they are two edged swords. And again that is completely subjective on my part.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:21 pm 
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Crucifer wrote:
We were created. Everything (yes, even LOTR) created is flawed. Therefore, we are flawed=> Negative aspects of humanity.


My question in response is one that has probably been asked by countless people before me but one I am not sure can be answered. If God is perfect, surely everything he created could have been perfect too. So why then are there flaws? Why would a perfect God produce imperfect creations? Wouldn't some desire to create imperfect things imply imperfection in God her/himself? Or are we perfect and just don't know it? And if we are perfect, wouldn't we know that we are perfect? Would not knowing make us imperfect? I know these questions aren't really answerable, but this is one of the fundamental problems I have always had with the idea of an ultimate authority.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:40 pm 
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elfshadow wrote:
My question in response is one that has probably been asked by countless people before me but one I am not sure can be answered. If God is perfect, surely everything he created could have been perfect too. So why then are there flaws? Why would a perfect God produce imperfect creations? Wouldn't some desire to create imperfect things imply imperfection in God her/himself? Or are we perfect and just don't know it? And if we are perfect, wouldn't we know that we are perfect? Would not knowing make us imperfect? I know these questions aren't really answerable, but this is one of the fundamental problems I have always had with the idea of an ultimate authority.


I'll take a shot at it, Elsha. I'm feeling a bit frisky. To me the issue isn't one of perfection. I think perfection is a word that really doesn't have any real meaning in the context of God; it is too subjective. To me, God (I use that term as a convenient symbol for something that can not truly be symbolized) is Infinite. Thus, by definition, God includes all possible aspects of any spectrum, whether we are talking about light to dark, or good to evil. What we perceive as flaws are a necessary part of all creation. I say "what we perceive as flaws" because I believe the true nature of God's creation is beyond our comprehension. Our perception is necessarily subjective, because we are limited beings. God, on the other hand, being infinite, is beyond subjective. Thus what we perceive with our limited, subjective perception to be flaws are not really flaws. They are just part of what IS.

Now aren't you sorry you asked the question. :upsidedown:

(I'm wondering whether this discussion should be split off to a separate thread?)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:44 pm 
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My answer, Elsha, would be that imperfection is inherent in physical reality. Though I agree the question isn't answerable.

A perfect creation would be a clockwork tautology, a pointless exercise even if it were possible within the framework of natural laws. Its inhabitants would do good effortlessly and mindlessly, not understanding that it had any value or point in itself.

I think we exist in a world with flaws and danger and pain because that makes possible courage and sacrifice and beauty.

I don't mean that I believe God designed pain and suffering into the world, or that he wants us to suffer to "make us better people." I believe that the world is what it is, governed by natural laws, and that all decent people, believers or not, should be in there trying to relieve suffering and injustice. We may be the source of many of our problems, but we're also the only solution.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:37 pm 
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Thank you, V and Prim, for rising to my chaotic questions! It seems as though the more rational I try to make myself sound, the less rational I actually become! :P

I agree, Voronwë, that one problem is definitely the limitations of both our language and the concepts that our language tries to express. "Perfection" is such an undefinable thing when faced with an idea that we couldn't hope to understand. Although I'm not sure that I believe in any sort of God or authority or "presence," it seems that if such a "presence" does exist, it would transcend our human notion of perfect. So I guess flaws would be a concept that humans use to describe that which we are not content with. But because this "presence" is presumably beyond contentment, it does not "think" of things in terms of flaws? I know I am personifying a bit too freely here, although it is hard not to. And I guess I have always felt that because the fundamental questions of the universe are all beyond our comprehension, why should I believe in a God or "presence" as opposed to not? It's probably a good thing I'm not a philosophy student, my head would turn inside out. ;)

Prim, I think that whether or not someone believes in God, you just perfectly summed up something fundamental that every human should remember. That ultimately, all we can understand comes from ourselves, and therefore all we can DO comes from within. And suffering more than anything else emphasizes beauty.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:41 pm 
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Perfect is very subjective. Haven't you ever had the experience of a girlfriend introducing her boyfriend and raving how perfect he is, when you think he's a jerk?

You can choose to see the world as good or evil or perfect or imperfect or just a bit of morphing biomass stretched over a very large rock.

As for me, at this present moment, life is good, and I'm not sure I could explain why. Life is not perfect, because that implies no opportunity to grow and change, so that's OK too.

Voronwë, good luck figuring out what to split off. I think this is just an osgilliation about life, the universe and everything, like most of our threads, only more obvious.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:11 pm 
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Elsha, it's a common Christian teaching that God's got no hands or voice in the world but ours. If we believe that God wants mercy, compassion, and justice in the world, it's up to us to work to make it happen, with our plain human abilities. I believe that also requires us to respect and assist other people doing similar work for other reasons than faith.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 am 
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Thought the tongue smilie conveyed that I was joking, Prim. Apparently not.

I don't mean to suggest that I know what anyone believes. I can only make observations based on what people do and say. (I did use the word "seems".)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:11 am 
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Then I apologize, TED. I misperceived.

That's a bit of a sore point, you see: people who say it's science OR religion, never both, when actually accepting both is simple (and quite common).

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:43 am 
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You guys have begun to use the word "perfect" when what you mean is "completely good", a status that no two of us could ever agree upon. Of course, that hasn't stopped theologians over the years from defining "virtue" in a variety of precise ways that relate to scripture.


What you've been dancing around is an idea older than Christianity. It has been on the fringe of Christianity since the beginning, though. It is Manichean dualism, the idea that the deity includes both the light and the dark sides of nature and is indifferent to the triumph of either. It asks God to be a duality (at least from a man's perspective) rather than a dichotomy.


Now, most people don't care for this. They want their God to be Good. So another entity must be invented to account for the Bad: the Devil, Human Nature, Snakes, San Francisco Values, etc.


Soon after Nicea, the task of Christianity became the prevention of fragmentation through the defining of heresies. Once triumphant, the Church ceased to preach toleration; she looked with the same hostile eye upon minority ideas as a King looked upon a usurper. There were Monophysites, Donatists, Arianists, most of them with regional or national connections that would prevent the church from being "catholic", or universal.

Of them all, the Manicheans probably had the best pedigree. Manicheism wasn't so much a Christian heresy as a Persian dualism of God and Satan, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness. It faced with a cold eye the problem of evil and the strange abundance of unmerited suffering in a world ruled by Our Friend God. It felt obliged to assume an Evil Spirit co-eternal with the Good.


The idea has never gone away, but it was especially Big Juju in the Fourth Century. Our boy Augustine, for instance, accepted dualism for a decade as the best explanation for the ways of the world, short of complete scepticism.


Most people choose not to accept this possibility. It makes God too much like Nature. Or perhaps it makes God too much like (I write this on Fathers' Day) our own paternal units, powerful entities whom we would like to be perfect, but who begin to darken upon closer examination.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:32 am 
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I quite agree with you there, Prim. For some it is science or religion, but luckily for most people (I think) it is a mix of both. Both answer fundamental questions for people about the underpinnings of the Universe and Humanity's relationship within.

Perfect is always going to be synonymous with 'completely good' because as we are the ones to perceive and define perfection, we usually do not have a desire for 'completely bad'. Bad, whatever it may be to each, is always the opposite of what someone wants. Good and bad change, just as perfect changes from person-to-person.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:11 am 
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Elsha, to answer your waaay back question, it is because we are created that we have such flaws as greed, etc. Everything created has flaws (subjective or otherwise), we were created, => we are flawed.

Science cannot be separated from religion...

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 1:19 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
That's a bit of a sore point, you see: people who say it's science OR religion, never both, when actually accepting both is simple (and quite common).


Not to harp on a sore point, but I'm one of those people who say yes, indeed, it's one OR the other. You might recall from another thread.

I've never said that accepting both is anything but simple; you simply choose to accept them both, as you and many have done, Prim. But that does not make them equal in any eyes but your own, not does it invest religion with Truth outside of your own decision making terms.

My acceptance or rejection of tested Science does not change its trueness; my acceptance or rejection of a religious postulate means life or death for that idea. That's a huge difference, Prim.

But we've been over this in great detail recently and need not again.

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Last edited by baby tuckoo on Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:02 pm 
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Well, yes, we've been around and around about that, bt. :) And I think we got well into the grounds of our differences. As neither one of us is willing to alter our understanding of the universe, we will never agree.

It was a lot of fun to arrive at that point, though. :)

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 7:29 pm 
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Crucifer wrote:
Elsha, to answer your waaay back question, it is because we are created that we have such flaws as greed, etc. Everything created has flaws (subjective or otherwise), we were created, => we are flawed.


But what I still don't understand is where exactly you get the premise that everything created has flaws. Maybe I'm just not following you right, I never was very religious. ;)

I also agree with bt in that I believe religion and science can be separated--but as Prim says, it's just one of those things that some people will never agree on.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:53 pm 
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baby tuckoo wrote:
I'm one of those people who say yes, indeed, it's one OR the other. You might recall from another thread.

I've never said that accepting both is anything but simple; you simply choose to accept them both, as you and many have done, Prim. But that does not make them equal in any eyes by your own, not does it invest religion with Truth outside of your own decision making terms.

My acceptance or rejection of tested Science does not change its trueness; my acceptance or rejection of a religious postulate means life or death for that idea.


I agree with this (although I don't recall everything you said in the previous discussion with Prim, so I'm not necessarily agreeing with that.) And it is my (somewhat reluctant) agreement with this that means - at least, at this point in my life - that I will only ever be a visitor in any house of worship I frequent. I can't pledge fidelity to any religious worldview when, according to my understanding of the world, all I would be doing is choosing myself to infuse a particular worldview with credibility by my belief in it.

Along those same lines, I do see science as fully detachable from religion. My current view is that science does not need religion to exist, but religion certainly seems to need science.

On another note: I really like V's view of God as Infinite, including all aspects of any spectrum, including from "good" to "evil," and of God as transcending the subjective. That feels much more intuitively correct to me than "God is good."

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And the vultures all start circling
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:34 pm 
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Let's look at this forum, Elsha. It's great, really it is, no complaints, but I cannot see you. This may lead to a misundestanding, as I may read what you say and misiterpret, due to lack of facial expression, tone of voice, etc.

Flawed, by it's very nature as a web forum. Unless people post videos, but that takes up bandwith, so that's flawed aswell.

Flaws can be found in everything. Everything is created, therefore everything created is flawed in some way.

V, I like your concept of God. Walt Whitman is good for that sort of thing.

Quote:
Light of light, Shedding forth Universes, Thou centre of them


And so on.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:18 am 
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