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What "is" Fundamentalist Christianity

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#61 Bad Wolf

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 10:20 PM

Handmaiden07, on Jun 24 2004, 07:40 PM, said:

and knowing that God, by definition, could have prevented all of these wars if He wanted to... couldn't it be said that He authorized these wars, decreed their outcome, so that we could be today where we are?

HM07
I can't go down that road because to do so means I have to also believe that God also authorized 9-11.  The funny thing about that is this.  When 9-11 happened my initial reaction was something along the lines of this:  If God is someone who can authorize this kind of thing then God is not something I can believe in.  But since then my views have changed somewhat.  I'm not quite at the Nehru "Predestination is the hand that was dealt us, free will is what we do with it" stage but I'm getting there.  For me the only way for those World Wars or 9-11 to have been acts of God is for there to be no free will.  And I have to believe in free will.  For without it what is the point of anyone caring about the consequences of what they do?
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#62 Wally

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 10:21 PM

Forgot I wanted to address the mark of cain real quick. Its use to condone racism has a rather large flaw if whomever is using it also believes the story of Noah's flood. All of Cain's decendents would have been wiped out then, as Noah was a descendant of Seth.
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#63 QueenTiye

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 10:42 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 24 2004, 11:18 PM, said:

I can't go down that road because to do so means I have to also believe that God also authorized 9-11.  The funny thing about that is this.  When 9-11 happened my initial reaction was something along the lines of this:  If God is someone who can authorize this kind of thing then God is not something I can believe in.  But since then my views have changed somewhat.  I'm not quite at the Nehru "Predestination is the hand that was dealt us, free will is what we do with it" stage but I'm getting there.  For me the only way for those World Wars or 9-11 to have been acts of God is for there to be no free will.  And I have to believe in free will.  For without it what is the point of anyone caring about the consequences of what they do?
I deliberately DIDN'T mention 9/11 because I thought it was too sensitive.  But, since it is now mentioned... I had the exact opposite reaction.

I looked at the strange randomness of who lived, and who died, the weirdnesses of some people who had never stepped foot in the WTC dieing, and some people living becuase they just happened to be late to work that day.  I thought about the fact that the first plane hit right about where my office had been a few weeks prior... and I concluded that the terrorists had no say in who lived and died, that God decided that, according to whatever criteria He used - and that years from now, we'd know why.  

I most certainly believe in free will, but I also believe that God's Purpose isn't frustrated - that He calculates our freewill choices and works them into the plan.

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#64 Nick

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 11:56 PM

IIRC, the "cheese" thing is a specific (I wanna say Orthodox Jewish) interpretation of the part that forbids eating a calf cooked in its mother's milk . . . So there are those who take that to mean "don't mix meat and dairy".

Therefore, a Bacon Cheeseburger is about as non-Kosher as you can get.

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#65 Cardie

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 12:11 AM

Nick, on Jun 25 2004, 12:54 AM, said:

Therefore, a Bacon Cheeseburger is about as non-Kosher as you can get.
You could always have it with shrimp cocktail if you wanted to be absolutely in defiance of kashrut.  :devil:

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#66 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 12:17 AM

Handmaiden07, on Jun 24 2004, 08:40 PM, said:

I deliberately DIDN'T mention 9/11 because I thought it was too sensitive.  But, since it is now mentioned... I had the exact opposite reaction.

I looked at the strange randomness of who lived, and who died, the weirdnesses of some people who had never stepped foot in the WTC dieing, and some people living becuase they just happened to be late to work that day.  I thought about the fact that the first plane hit right about where my office had been a few weeks prior... and I concluded that the terrorists had no say in who lived and died, that God decided that, according to whatever criteria He used - and that years from now, we'd know why.  

I most certainly believe in free will, but I also believe that God's Purpose isn't frustrated - that He calculates our freewill choices and works them into the plan.

HM07
This is so interesting because you are correct, we had completely opposite reactions.  For the record, I DO beliieve in a higher power.  Sort of a "God as I understand it" that is indeed more powerful than we are.  However the idea that this higher power would have anything to do, one way or another, with 9-11 (and I remember reading something shortly after the event about where God was in terms of ensuring the time of day, the few number of passengers on the train etc. and being completely turned off by it), is something I can't wrap my mind around.  To me it seems like the higher power set the stage and what happens on the stage is up to US.  In that vein it seems to me that 9-11 was neither caused nor interfered with by "God" (as I understand it) because God's role ended in putting us here with whatever talents we were born with and the rest is up to us individually.  Hmm, maybe I *am* at the Nehru point of view on this.
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#67 Godeskian

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:20 AM

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I believe that God is Holy, Righteous, without sin, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent..

A few more questions If you don’t mind, and thank you for answering my questions.

1. How does power and pre-eminence confer moral authority?

2. God describes the punishment for non-believers in the book of Revelations come judgement day as being an eternity in Hell. Do you believe this is just and righteous because God said it was what he was going to do, and he is righteous?

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So, I can only repeat what I've already said:
Was God wrong in His punishment? If you believe that He created everything, and that as the Creator He has the right to do with His creation as He pleases - then no He was not wrong.

My father created me, does that give him the right to murder me if I disobey him?

3. How do you establish that he is righteous? In the scientific method you observe something, and build a theory to explain it.

You appear (and please correct me if I’m wrong) to be starting with the theory ‘God is righteous’ and then interpreting his actions to match, and permitting or ignoring activities that today we call warcrimes or crimes against humanity (the mass slaughter of civilians by an invading army).

This confuses me.

Before I weigh in on the ten commandments, can I ask which set is being used, as in my King James version, God dictates two seperate versions.

#68 Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:51 AM

Handmaiden07, on Jun 25 2004, 02:40 AM, said:

Some years ago, we fought a world war.  A few years later, we fought a second one.  Both of these wars involved mass slaughter, [SNIP] If someone were to write this from God's POV, how would they write it?   I know none of us can arrogate God's POV, but just stepping out of ourselves for a moment, and imagining it... and knowing that God, by definition, could have prevented all of these wars if He wanted to... couldn't it be said that He authorized these wars, decreed their outcome, so that we could be today where we are?
Nope.  Two words.  Free.  Will.  

War, suffering, genocide, racism, sexism, that's not God.  That's us.

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There's a peacefulness and a rage inside us all."
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#69 GiGi

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:54 AM

^ thank you Robert, that's how I see it too.
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#70 Drew

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 09:20 AM

Robert Hewitt Wolfe, on Jun 25 2004, 01:49 AM, said:

War, suffering, genocide, racism, sexism, that's not God.  That's us.
What Robert said.  :cool:
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#71 Cardie

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 09:51 AM

Of course, there's fire, flood, earthquakes and pestilence that's not us.  I think any theology that tries to equate material reward or suffering with either God's micromanagement of physical life in the universe or with some elaborate system of rewards and punishments is doomed to failure.  What God looks for is spiritual virtue for its own sake.  You can live rightesously or not and you control that.  If you are a believer in God, the form of your faith can attribute various results to that righteousness, from salvaton and a glorious afterlife to a name that will evoke hallowed remembrance here on Earth.

If you believe God set up this system, then it's too complex for all rightreous people to reap rewards, because the very nature of a reward for one might trigger a punishment for another.  It's kind of like Trance trying to look for that perfect possible future and never quite finding it.  Sure God could have set up a system that works by different laws, but he didn't.

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#72 Drew

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 10:12 AM

Cardie, on Jun 25 2004, 09:49 AM, said:

I think any theology that tries to equate material reward or suffering with either God's micromanagement of physical life in the universe or with some elaborate system of rewards and punishments is doomed to failure.
Yeah, I agree. Which is why I think I like the Old Testament book of Job so much, because it blows the whole reward/punishment argument out of the water. We know that Job didn't do anything wrong--rather that God liked to show him off when he and the devil met for tea, but Job's pals keep telling him that he must have done something wrong in order to have received such suffering. In the end God simply replies to Job that he is God and doesn't really have to explain himself. In fact, I think the ending--when Job gets everything back--is a cop out. It suggests that all one has to do to receive earthly goodies is endure for a little while. For some people this idea is comforting. For me it's poisonous, because we know quite well that some people do not receive any earthly reward for their suffering. (Some Biblical scholars suggest that the final "rewards" section of Job was tacked on later, and it actually comforts me to believe so.)
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#73 Jid

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 10:20 AM

Cyberhippie, on Jun 25 2004, 12:18 AM, said:

1. How does power and pre-eminence confer moral authority?
I'll tackle your questions, best I can, Gode, though I'm going to be all over the map between philosophy and theology ;)

For the first question, I'd say the best answer would follow something of a deonotological development of what God is, and how that makes God the source of moral authority.  First, you can define God as being the first game in town, more perfect than the best people in the world put together, strong enough to lift a mountain, and so on.  All of them together kind of confer the source of moral authority (I mean, dude, if you want the job, I'm sure God'll wrestle you for it ;) )  But another way of looking at it could be this:  I set up a game and invite you to play, you play by my rules.  Similarily, if you see God setting up creation, it kinda makes sense that the author is the one who determines what the boundaries are.

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2. God describes the punishment for non-believers in the book of Revelations come judgement day as being an eternity in Hell. Do you believe this is just and righteous because God said it was what he was going to do, and he is righteous?

Well, to try another parallel again.  I've set up this wonderful party, but I really can't stand people who don't have a certain colour tie.  Now, there's only one guy (let's call him... JC) who makes that colour tie, in the whole city.  I tell *everyone* in the city, they're invited to my party, but they have to follow the dress code.  Naturally, I'm not going to force everyone to go out and buy the tie from my friend - there'll be a good time no matter how many people show up.  But if you don't like my rules, and refuse to buy the tie, when you show up for the party, my bouncers aren't going to let you in.

It's a rather crude analogy, but it sort of holds - the ball is in humanity's court, so to speak, and those who reject it are choosing their own fate.  It seems pretty fair to me.  (You also get into arguing the definition of hell, whether it's eternal separation from God, or the more "traditional" fire and brimstone approach.)

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3. How do you establish that he is righteous? In the scientific method you observe something, and build a theory to explain it.

You appear (and please correct me if I’m wrong) to be starting with the theory ‘God is righteous’ and then interpreting his actions to match, and permitting or ignoring activities that today we call warcrimes or crimes against humanity (the mass slaughter of civilians by an invading army).

There's about a billion and a half theories to try to prove this.  The closest anyone's gotten to something consistent is the deontological theory of God.  (Of course, being something of "the Man" in Philosophy, Kant put the hurt on this one, but then, pretty much every theory for/against the existence of God has gotten smacked down, so...)

For the fundementalist viewpoint considered here, you'd probably just need to look to the Bible, especially in the OT.  God, understandably so, reminds the israelites repeatedly who's the big kid on the block.  "I, the Lord your God, am holy," and so on.

Of course, the latter part of your argument (crimes against humanity, and so forth) are again, imo, a matter of free will.
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#74 Godeskian

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 10:46 AM

Again, thank you for your answers. but i'm still left with questions.

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First, you can define God as being the first game in town
How does being the first being there make you moral?

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more perfect than the best people in the world put together, strong enough to lift a mountain, and so on
Again, how does brute force make one moral?

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I set up a game and invite you to play, you play by my rules
But that presumes an equality, that we will both play by the same rules, If you are allowed to change the rules, and ignore them when you want, then how is that ethical?

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But if you don't like my rules, and refuse to buy the tie, when you show up for the party, my bouncers aren't going to let you in.

And if you then turned around and had your bouncers spend the rest of eternity beating the ever loving stuffing out of me, i'd have a problem with that. Actually, if God was truly mercifull, then why the need for Hell at all? an eternity of torture doesn't seem very mercifull, completely regardless of the crime. Is there truly anything we can do to each other that is bad enough to deserve and eternity, not a few days, or weeks or months, but an eternity of pain and suffering?

Let me turn this around for a second, Ghandi, who was not Christian, is in Hell according to the bible, because he is a non-believer. By all accounts he was a good man. Is this just?

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It seems pretty fair to me.  (You also get into arguing the definition of hell, whether it's eternal separation from God, or the more "traditional" fire and brimstone approach.)

point, however in either case, it's still punishment for a victimless crime.

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God, understandably so, reminds the israelites repeatedly who's the big kid on the block.  "I, the Lord your God, am holy," and so on.

But that anology also has a problem with it. If a bully goes around beating people up, because he's the big kid on the block, and he says 'i'm the boss around here, and i'm good' surely he isn't right, just because he's the big kid and can push people around?  :unsure:  

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Of course, the latter part of your argument (crimes against humanity, and so forth) are again, imo, a matter of free will

Okay, fair enough. Instigated or not, the people did choose to follow God.

However, what about the times that God denies free will? for instance when God intentionally hardened the heart of the Pharaoh so that he would deny Moses's demand to let his people go? Surely God overrode the Pharaoh's free will by hardening his heart?

#75 Jid

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 11:20 AM

Cyberhippie, on Jun 25 2004, 09:44 AM, said:

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First, you can define God as being the first game in town
How does being the first being there make you moral?
Because you wrote the rules.  If I write a novel where I say that morality dictates it's okay to say.... kick cute puppies, then it's a rule of the world the people I create will follow.  I daresay everyone in the novel would kick cute puppies when given the opportunity, because that's the moral thing to do in the world I created.

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more perfect than the best people in the world put together, strong enough to lift a mountain, and so on
Again, how does brute force make one moral?

The argument is, the one with power over all the universe is the one who determines what is and isn't right (simply because they created it, see above.)

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I set up a game and invite you to play, you play by my rules
But that presumes an equality, that we will both play by the same rules, If you are allowed to change the rules, and ignore them when you want, then how is that ethical?

I daresay this is where the analogy is going to break down, since we're both human.  Though it'd be an interesting challenge to see if one could prove God "changed the rules" or has been ignoring them.  (In fact, whether or not God has the capability to do the latter is still a matter of philosophical debate ;) )

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And if you then turned around and had your bouncers spend the rest of eternity beating the ever loving stuffing out of me, i'd have a problem with that. Actually, if God was truly mercifull, then why the need for Hell at all? an eternity of torture doesn't seem very mercifull, completely regardless of the crime. Is there truly anything we can do to each other that is bad enough to deserve and eternity, not a few days, or weeks or months, but an eternity of pain and suffering?

Well, you're ignoring that there are several definitions of what constitutes hell, but okay, following your line of argument - to the religious line of thinking, God is holy.  Holiness doesn't, by definition, involve things that aren't right/moral/part of the divine definition of the good, and really couldn't co-exist with such things, since that would defile its holiness.  In the Christian belief set, the only way to achieve holiness is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus, and put your trust in his having blotted out your sins.  If you choose to reject Jesus, then in the Christian belief set, you're rejecting God and salvation.  Therefore, you're separating yourself from God, (and again, I'd define that separation as hell, not eternal torture, though I think it'd suck to be cut off from what can justifiably be defined as the source of all life).

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Let me turn this around for a second, Ghandi, who was not Christian, is in Hell according to the bible, because he is a non-believer. By all accounts he was a good man. Is this just?

If you're going to hold completely to the literal interpretation of Jesus saying "The only way to the Father (God) is through me," then I imagine you'd have to accept that if he did not believe in Christ, and is separated from God.  By all accounts he was a good man, but he wasn't perfect.  If you hold literally to the bible that "The wages of sin is death," then yes, I imagine you'd have to call it just.

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point, however in either case, it's still punishment for a victimless crime.
Again, if one is to take the tack of fundementalist Christianity (and most Christianity for that matter), I'm not sure how you can call flouting the ultimate source of authority in the universe a "victimless crime."

Again, I'm just trying to stick to fundementalist interpretations as best I understand them, in an effort to keep things relevant to the thread.  I could very well be wrong.
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#76 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 12:07 PM

Robert Hewitt Wolfe, on Jun 24 2004, 11:49 PM, said:

Nope.  Two words.  Free.  Will.  

War, suffering, genocide, racism, sexism, that's not God.  That's us.
Well okay I agree with you but just to devil's advocate, if the Bible is inerrant then war, suffering, genocide, racism, sexism seem (at least according to some things I've seen in the Old Testament) to be God mandated or approved...
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#77 Cardie

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:46 PM

To take a fundamentalist view of religion (which I don't, but that never stopped me from explaining) is to accept the proposition that God=good.  That "good," however, is quite different from human conceptions of morality.  It is absolute and unknowable except to the extent that God reveals His wishes. There's never been a human consensus on what is good and bad anyway.  Fundamentalists believe that where God is there is absolute morality.

God has a plan for the universe, that cannot be other than a good plan, because it is God's plan.  It may turn out not to be good, in the human sense, for many individuals.  The plan that we glimpse in the OT is a plan for the Children of Israel to comprehend that there is one Supreme Being and to broadcast His message to the peoples of the world.  Certain behaviors might get in the way of this plan: they might result in the Hebrews getting too cozy with non-believers and diluting the laws God has revealed; they might get the Hebrews completely destroyed by enemies.  In God's eyes, a few Amalekites here or there can be sacrificed in order for the chosen people to carry out their mission.  In God's eyes, when certain Hebrew rulers decide they aren't keen on doing what God wants, the whole people may be conquered and exiled.  They are his children, but children who are going to abide by his rules or face punishment.  As the line from Fiddler on the Roof goes, "I know we're the Chosen People, God, but just this once, couldn't you choose somebody else?"

If you can make what Kierkegaard calls the "leap of faith," then you simply accept that everything is a part of God's plan and is heading to a good result.  Even if God sometimes seems more like a tyrannical ruler than a loving father.  If you can't, you don't believe this way.  Maybe you'll then forfeit your invitation to God's party, maybe you won't.  It's only the believers who will get to say, "I told you so," if you are correct.  If the non-believers are correct, the rest, for all, is silence.

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#78 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:55 PM

Was that in response to my post?
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#79 Cardie

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 04:46 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jun 25 2004, 04:53 PM, said:

Was that in response to my post?
^^Yes.

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#80 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 04:58 PM

Let me see if I am understanding (there's a good chance I'm not):  You're contending that some of the things the happen or are approved of in the Bible may not compart with our human standards of right or wrong but that a Christian Fundamentalist accepts that because they are all part of God's Plan, they are acceptable within the context of the Bible?  

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