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"Any help we can get with this will be greatly appreciated and, I believe, rewarded in heaven."
August 25, 2007 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Ted Haggard returns --with a cash for heaven offer to support him while he helps "broken people". Unfortunately, the procedure outlined is illegal, and the charity (Families With a Mission) is unregistered and run by a convicted sex offender. Meanwhile, Mike Jones, Haggard's favorite whore, pops up at a dirty bar trivia night (questions about Haggard and him, maybe nsfw, textwise)
posted by amberglow (184 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:55 PM on August 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


Have some extra cash? Feel like going to heaven? Then you might consider sending Ted Haggard and his family some monthly checks for the next two years while they move into a halfway house and get psychology and counseling degrees from the University of Phoenix.

That is a great opening paragraph.
posted by billysumday at 3:56 PM on August 25, 2007


I was under the impression that Haggard's position had made him very wealthy, which is what rankled me so when I saw him in Affluenza preaching the necessity and virtue of the simple life.

Also, good use of the chutzpah tag.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the first link:

In what is clearly a fundraising letter, Haggard indicated, "we need to raise our own support." However, he doesn't mention that when he left the church, New Life Church leaders agreed to pay his salary through 2007 - estimated at about $138,000 annually.

In addition, as Colorado Confidential reported earlier this month, El Paso County Assessor property records show that the Haggard's still own their 5-bedroom, 3-bath home in Colorado Springs. Sitting on 5.1 acres, its current market value is listed at $715,051.


I guess he would be even less successful if he called his fundraising drive "Please give money to gay meth-head disgraced pastor with a million dollars in assets".


Not that there's anything wrong with being gay. But there is something very wrong with being Ted Haggard.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:59 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


He's like a case of herpes on the junk of society: just when you think he's gone, all of a sudden oozing sores start popping up again.
posted by papakwanz at 3:59 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I guess he would be even less successful if he called his fundraising drive "Please give money to gay meth-head disgraced pastor with a million dollars in assets".


Maybe he’s saving it for hookers and meth?
; >
posted by amberglow at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2007


and isn't the University of Phoenix some mail-order university or diploma mill or something?
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on August 25, 2007


So the illegal part is tax fraud, right? Laundering donations through a nonprofit or something? That seems like it's illegal, but it's not 100% clear to me. Does this letter represent a conspiracy to commit tax fraud?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:06 PM on August 25, 2007


Could you imagine teaching, say, Psychology 315: The Psychology of Sexuality, and seeing Ted Haggard's garish mug boring a hole in your soul from the first row?
posted by lazaruslong at 4:07 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I am pursuing my master of science in counseling..."

Did any of you also come across this in Ted's letter and get to wondering..?
posted by toma at 4:09 PM on August 25, 2007


You can't designate a tax-deductible contribution to a charity to be allocated that way (the 90-10 thing), and the charity is not registered with the state-- Illegal in at least 2 ways.
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on August 25, 2007


It's not illegal to ask for money for your family's living expenses (and actually this sort of thing is commonly done among Christians who are going on a mission of some sort), but it is illegal to claim a tax deduction from a dissolved charitable organization.

I'd hope that no one gives him any money, but I know better.
posted by orange swan at 4:09 PM on August 25, 2007


"I am pursuing my master of science in counseling..."

Did any of you also come across this in Ted's letter and get to wondering..?


Er, yeah. Is there such a thing? Since when is counselling a "science"?
posted by orange swan at 4:11 PM on August 25, 2007


Actually, I thought perhaps his group counseling employed a 'Master of Science' guy, and Ted had a crush.
posted by toma at 4:15 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course, anybody who fancied himself a 'Master of Science' might cut a pretty dashing, authoritative figure, who could blame him..
posted by toma at 4:18 PM on August 25, 2007


The University of Phoenix isn't exactly a diploma mill, but it is not without its detractors.

They let anyone enroll, have no professors, and everything is online. You do actually have to do things to get your degree, but it's mostly worthless. It's surprising how many people in IT have these imaginary degrees; it doesn't necessarily say anything about their competence (two extremely talented people I know got their degrees from UoP after they had mastered their fields, just to have a "piece of paper"), but without extensive experience, it looks pretty bad on the resume.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:26 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I should mention that I myself have not "attended" UoP, so I don't know these things firsthand. This is from the three people I know who took classes offered by them. I did, however, attend ITT, which is even worse: much more expensive.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:28 PM on August 25, 2007


Most of UoP's courses are offered either online or in evening classes; students typically take only one class at a time; and a typical class meets four hours per week. So Ted's plea for handouts to help with his "full-time" courseload sounds like a scam (shocker!).
posted by brain_drain at 4:34 PM on August 25, 2007


Calling the guy who runs the organization a 'sex offender' is guilding the lily a little bit.

He had sex with a 17 year old girl when he was in the military. Surely not good judgement, but it's not Dateline material.
posted by empath at 4:51 PM on August 25, 2007


I'm loving the way everybody's digging up all kinds of flaws with Haggard's letter.

It's such a mistake to try to misrepresent yourself or your activities in the Age of Information.
posted by orange swan at 4:56 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


He's got enough connections that someone could give him a job. I'd really rather see that happen than this. It would be better for him in the long run.
posted by konolia at 4:58 PM on August 25, 2007


empath, according to the article he had sex with an underage girl who was a "ward" of his family, and he was also convicted in Hawaii for attempted sexual assault. So he is more than a little bit worse than just a soldier who hooked up with a 17 year old.
posted by brain_drain at 5:09 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Calling the guy who runs the organization a 'sex offender' is guilding the lily a little bit.

He had sex with a 17 year old girl when he was in the military. Surely not good judgement, but it's not Dateline material.
posted by empath at 6:51 PM on August 25


Yeah I gotta call bullshit here. He was 39, married with three children. He began masturbating in front of a 17 year old girl at a public pool, then went off and had "consensual sodomy" with her.

He then pled not-guilty and lied about it in court, claiming no sexual contact occurred and blaming the girl for seeing him naked because she was in the "men's area" of the pool.


To me, that doesn't say "poor judgment", it says "psycho scumbag".
posted by lazaruslong at 5:10 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


empath, given the various age of consent laws around the USA, it might actually be quite factual (if fucking stupid) to call him a sex offender.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2007


Points for some clarity:

1) That letter is pretty SOP. I've seen letters like that dozens of time from pastors, 'freelance' preachers, missionaries, etc., since I grew up in a small Colorado town and was raised by evangelicals. It's not uncommon, and any Xian reading this article is likely to note that the letter by no means says that you'll go to heaven for giving, but that your kindness will be rewarded. I agree to the extent that I believe that kindness, no matter how misguided, is rewarded. What I'm saying: the article, and this post, are quite inflammatory, and take on the tone of a tabloid, not unlike most of the reportage about Haggard. This letter, for example, is by no means I can recognize illegal, any more than it would be illegal if I sent out a letter that said that a friend and I were starting a discreet gay sex collective for the purposes of exploring our love for each other, and if you'd be so kind as to do so, it would be nice to have some contributions. Nor is it necessarily bloody perversion for a military man to have sex with a 17-year-old, though it might be a real mistake. Lots of things are getting blown out of proportion here.

2) If the estimations of Haggard's net worth, his current 'severance package,' and the worth of his house are correct, the man's a tremendous asshole, or at the very least quite silly, for not seeing the audacity of what he's doing here. Perhaps the rich should be forgiven for misunderstanding how much money it takes to live frugally, but he's been forgiven plenty enough, and one would think he'd want to be ahead of the curve. This is one more reason why I'd really like the chance to sit this fucker down and explain to him in detail why nearly everything he's done since sperm met egg has been mind-numbingly idiotic, and why he ought to quit while he hasn't lost it all.
posted by koeselitz at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2007


He's got enough connections that someone could give him a job. I'd really rather see that happen than this. It would be better for him in the long run.
posted by konolia at 7:58 PM on August 25 [+] [!]


Really? Because I'd rather see him suffer for his fucking hypocrisy for the rest of his life. I want him to have no fucking chance of making more money ever again. I want to see him drown and suffer in the mountains of bullshit he has peddled.

Of course, you're the one who said he wasn't gay. So what do you know?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:21 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "Nor is it necessarily bloody perversion for a military man to have sex with a 17-year-old, though it might be a real mistake."

Noticing the details above in the thread, the tendency of this comment is withdrawn. I don't really see the point in giving an asshole more than his due.

While I don't like fanning the flame of rumor and speculation, I wonder if it's occurred to anyone that the %10 'administrative fee' going to this 17-year-old-german-girl-molesting fellow might in point of fact be a payment for past debts or future discretion.

posted by koeselitz at 5:23 PM on August 25, 2007


I'd rather see him get a job and become, if not a decent human being, then at least a reasonabe facsimile of one, who works to counteract much of the damage he's done in his life.
posted by orange swan at 5:26 PM on August 25, 2007


Dirtynumbangelboy, my point is that working for a living just like everyone else might be what he needs more than a handout.

I never specified WHAT job. I myself have worked in the past as a third shift Waffle House waitress. It didn't kill me.

One other point. No matter what Haggard may or may not deserve, his wife is definitely suffering for something she had nothing to do with. I'd be more inclined to donate for HER to go to school if I had that choice.
posted by konolia at 5:27 PM on August 25, 2007


orange swan, I love you to bits, but he will never learn. I would love for him to be confronted with the fruits of his hypocrisy and learn from them, but he just doesn't strike me as the sort of person who would. One would think that his extremely public shaming might have done that, but his cognitive dissonance and his investment in Who He Is are fare too strong.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:28 PM on August 25, 2007


He could just be trying to pay off a very large mortgage.
posted by koeselitz at 5:28 PM on August 25, 2007


While I don't like fanning the flame of rumor and speculation, I wonder if it's occurred to anyone that the %10 'administrative fee' going to this 17-year-old-german-girl-molesting fellow might in point of fact be a payment for past debts or future discretion.

forget fanning flames--that pretty much pours gasoline on it, koeselitz. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on August 25, 2007


I agree with you, DNAB. He won't learn, much as it would be best for all if he did. So, let the pointing and laughing resume!

He could also own that house mortgage free and also have considerable capital socked away somewhere, koeselitz. Something else for the internet sleuths to find out.
posted by orange swan at 5:32 PM on August 25, 2007


i bet the church paid for that house.
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy: "orange swan, I love you to bits, but he will never learn. I would love for him to be confronted with the fruits of his hypocrisy and learn from them, but he just doesn't strike me as the sort of person who would. One would think that his extremely public shaming might have done that, but his cognitive dissonance and his investment in Who He Is are fare too strong."

People who can't help how awful or terrible they are cannot, unfortunately, be blamed. They have to be helped. That's what punishment is for. Forgiveness is for those of us who are charged with punishing them, so that we don't lose sight of the fact that the object of punishment is to help every living thing.

And, though 'forgiveness' is a word that Haggard and his type are wont to toss around wildly, it is in reality still a very, very valuable thing.
posted by koeselitz at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've never really understood how so many, otherwise intelligent, Christians get fleeced by con men like this. And not just once, but over and over.

How many Bakkers, Swaggarts, Robertsons and Haggards need to be exposed as blatent, lying, frauds before Christianity as a whole actually stops supporting them? I mean, this guy is less believable than a Nigerian spammer and I'll give you any odds you want that he'll be rolling in cash from the suckers before another month or two has passed. WTF is wrong with those people? Is it some odd form of mass psychosis, or just plain old stupidity?

konolia Either his wife is a masochist or she's in on it with him. I know the "I can change him" meme is regrettably strong in many women, but her husband has been revealed to be a drug addict who has gay sex with drug addicted prostitutes. If she hasn't dumped him after that she's either an accomplace or she genuinely enjoys suffering. Either way she's obviously happy in her situation and thus I see no need to give her money for anything. Let her work for minimum wage and see how she likes living like the poor saps her husband fleeced. I've got nothing but bitterness, contempt and revulsion for both of 'em.
posted by sotonohito at 5:37 PM on August 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


He's got enough connections that someone could give him a job. I'd really rather see that happen than this. It would be better for him in the long run.
posted by konolia at 4:58 PM on August 25


Why don't you offer to let him stay at your house? That would probably be better for him, right? And as you said a few months ago, he's not gay and he doesn't have any substance abuse problems. So pick up the phone.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:37 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anybody who is surprised at this hasn't paid much attention to how the preacher scam typically works.
Robert Tilton is still at it, even if he isn't raking it in like he used to.
There's always some pathetic loser waiting to be fleeced by the jesus hustle.
posted by 2sheets at 5:51 PM on August 25, 2007


Off-topic, but related ...

Quite the time for the right(eous), 'Family Values' crowd these past few weeks:
North Carolina: former Christian group leader pleads guilty to solicitation.

Minnesota State Rep. Mark Olsen, the co-sponsor of a (failed) state marriage amendment to ban gays and lesbians from marrying, was convicted by a jury for domestic assault.

Orlando Murder-Suicide involving GOP Consultant -- a Lovers' Row?

Busted Florida Republican state rep's "black gay panic" defense on soliciting charge.

Defiant Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Will Risk Tourism for Anti-gay Views.

Baptist minister arrested for indecent exposure, DUI -- and that's just the start.
posted by ericb at 5:54 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


ericb, that first link of yours-my husband knew that man (through politics.) The state Republicans are pretty shocked and upset about it.

Christians (and or folks who think they are) really should know that none of us (that is, none of us Christians) get away with stuff. God makes sure we get caught if we mess up.

I really don't have a problem with that.
posted by konolia at 5:58 PM on August 25, 2007


if I sent out a letter that said that a friend and I were starting a discreet gay sex collective for the purposes of exploring our love for each other, and if you'd be so kind as to do so, it would be nice to have some contributions

Interestingly enough, a friend of mine and I did something very similar, as we effectively started a discreet straight sex collective for the purposes of exploring our love for each other, and we did send out a large number of mailings, many of which resulted in generous contributions from friends and family.

Most people would call those mailings "wedding invitations."
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:59 PM on August 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've never really understood how so many, otherwise intelligent, Christians get fleeced by con men like this. And not just once, but over and over.

I think it's because we tend to want to believe the best of people. But I do wish we would use the sense God gave us and STOP IT.
posted by konolia at 6:00 PM on August 25, 2007


He could also own that house mortgage free and also have considerable capital socked away somewhere, koeselitz. Something else for the internet sleuths to find out.

I suspect that there'll be results of such sleuthing popping up on the Internets this week and next.
posted by ericb at 6:04 PM on August 25, 2007


If he's still paying a mortgage on that thing he's in trouble.

The housing market at that level is pretty soft there right now.
posted by konolia at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2007


Have some extra cash? Feel like going to heaven? Then you might consider sending....

As a Lutheran, for historical reasons I have a serious problem with the opening sentences of this pitch.
posted by pax digita at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


And, though 'forgiveness' is a word that Haggard and his type are wont to toss around wildly, it is in reality still a very, very valuable thing.

koeselitz, I absolutely agree. But there are some things for which forgivenss is not possible. His continuing demonization of gay people, whilst indulging in all of those same activities, is unforgivable to me.

I think it's because we tend to want to believe the best of people. But I do wish we would use the sense God gave us and STOP IT.
posted by konolia at 9:00 PM on August 25 [+] [!]


Like when you were saying that Haggard wasn't gay? That's some pretty awesome common sense right there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:36 PM on August 25, 2007


nail 'em on the door pax, nail 'em on the door;)
posted by vronsky at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2007


No gaydar tag?

At this point I can only assume one thing: The scamsters who profit from the gullible are secular con artists. The money they take from the gullible (and use to enrich drug dealers and gay prostitutes) means that much less is available for the scammed to send to the GOP. It used to anger me--but now I'm all for it.
posted by maxwelton at 8:09 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's because we tend to want to believe the best of people. But I do wish we would use the sense God gave us and STOP IT

He can't stop it... HE'S GAY!
posted by disgruntled at 9:16 PM on August 25, 2007


koeselitz writes "This letter, for example, is by no means I can recognize illegal, any more than it would be illegal if I sent out a letter that said that a friend and I were starting a discreet gay sex collective for the purposes of exploring our love for each other, and if you'd be so kind as to do so, it would be nice to have some contributions. "

What about the "tax deduction" shit, though?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:11 AM on August 26, 2007


How many Bakkers, Swaggarts, Robertsons and Haggards need to be exposed as blatent, lying, frauds before Christianity as a whole actually stops supporting them? I mean, this guy is less believable than a Nigerian spammer

So? Logically, Nigerian spammers are more credible than the occurances and descriptions in any holy book . By these standards these con men people make tons of sense. I dont know if this can be fixed. I think if people lived with the amount of skepticism you advocate then they probably wouldnt be regular church-goers to begin with.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:31 AM on August 26, 2007


damn dirty ape I'm an atheist myself, and I'm not trying to turn this into a LOLXIANS thread.

Besides, it isn't the case. There are many regular church-goers who are savy enough to avoid being scammed. In fact, I'd guess that the majority, perhaps even the vast majority, of American Christians neither have in the past nor will in the future send any money to such fraudsters. But the ones who do seem to have some sort of actual mental problem in that seem unable to stop. There appears to be a core group of a couple million idiots who can't seem to say no when even a proven fraud says "God wants you to give me money".

As for LOLXIANS, I will observe that most scientists in the US are Christian of one brand or another and they seem to operate just fine. Admittedly, I suspect they do so by compartmentalizing their minds, but Christianity is not, in and of itself, evidence of suckerhood or a lack of critical thinking skills. I'd be perfectly happy if it and all the other remnant superstitions would just dry up and blow away, and I do think it is, though at a speed much lower than I want.

Also, curse you d.d.a. for making me defend Christianity, and religion in general. I hate when I have to defend something and/or someone I really don't like because the attack on them is so annoying.
posted by sotonohito at 4:53 AM on August 26, 2007


Christians (and or folks who think they are) really should know that none of us (that is, none of us Christians) get away with stuff. God makes sure we get caught if we mess up.

And he pays us back for it by giving us teh AIDS
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:18 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I am an atheist too, and have no qualms:

LOLXTIANS

Jeebus F**ing H. Christ. So people still want to think of Haggard as a "fallen" "man of god" after all this? They deserve each other.

And as for konolia's comment that Xtians should know they can't get away with shit, come the hell on. They get away with (and have for ages) running a massive tax-exempt business for profit and giving almost nothing back to society, molesting altar boys for decades, and scamming billions from the sheep who believe the stories in their little good book. And they get away with hijacking the secular government of a country founded on freedom of and from religion and the separation of church and state. They get away with almost *every* absurd, illegal, awful, insane, illogical, small-minded, greedy, un-Christian thing they do. The reason the Haggard-esque stories are cool is that they are among the FEW times these hypocritical liars in cassocks and crosses actually DON'T "get away" with anything.

If you mean by "they don't get away with it" that they might someday go to "hell," that's silly. Because unless you can prove there is a hell, it is reasonable to presume there isn't, and they will have gotten away with whatever they got away with in their lives on earth. We have earthly justice to consider here, and earthly justice would seem to call for the taxation of every religious institution, just for starters, that collects a dime in revenue from any source. Saying that the evil-doing Christians will pay for their sins in the afterlife is special pleading, enabling, and excusing immorality you supposedly condemn as a "Christian."

And dont' talk of "forgiveness" until you exercise some yourselves. Or at least "tolerance." Or just shut the hell up, do what you believe is right for yourselves, and leave the rest of us alone.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:35 AM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


God makes sure we get caught if we mess up. ...So, is God, like, the internet?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:08 AM on August 26, 2007


Well, I MEANT caught in THIS life.

Because if they don't get caught until the NEXT life, I doubt they were really Christians to begin with.

God spanks His kids.
posted by konolia at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2007


The mind boggles. It really does.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:21 AM on August 26, 2007


Also, curse you d.d.a. for making me defend Christianity, and religion in general. I hate when I have to defend something and/or someone I really don't like because the attack on them is so annoying.

Perhaps I wasnt clear. I know a lot of religious people but very few are regular church goers. Or regular church goers who give in to Chrisstian programing and Christian rock and bumper stickers, and hot button issues, etc. To these, say, more extreme elements, i stand by what I wrote. They so credulous to begin, it makes perfect sense they give their cash to these ridiculous characters.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2007



Well, I MEANT caught in THIS life.

Because if they don't get caught until the NEXT life, I doubt they were really Christians to begin with.


Wait, so if I avoid converting to Christianity, I have a better chance of getting away with stuff? What are the "getting away with stuff" modifiers for each religion/philosophical stance? My inner min-maxer wants to know. Does Satanism have the best modifier?

God spanks His kids.

God burns his kids' hands on the stove and shoves them down the stairs. Then he screams that he loves them and demands that they obey him and not make him hurt them again.

And that's just the story of Noah!; the whole book is full of such abusive behavior. If the Bible happened in America today, god would be doing most of the rest of his life on child abuse charges and humanity would be getting bounced around various foster homes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


konolia Sorry, you can't play the "real Christians" card and expect to be taken seriously. You aren't the arbiter of who is Christian and who isn't, anymore than I am. If someone says they're a Christian, then they're Christian. I'm not allowed [1] to disavow the atheists I'd like to, so there's no way I'll let you get away with claiming that Christianity, by definition, excludes evil little shits like Haggard.

I'm not going to play LOLXIANS, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to call you on that sort of crap. Christians are just as capiable of evil as anyone else, and trying to claim that the evil Christians aren't "real" Christians is pretty slimey.

damn dirty ape That's very nearly a tautology: people who give to religious hucksters are so credulous that they'll give to religious hucksters. But, I see what you mean.

Pope Guilty Re: minmaxing. If you accept Christian premises then no, Satanism isn't the best choice. Christianity is. Take the two basic premises:

1) Good behavior in this life has *NOTHING* to do with whether you get tortured for all eternity by the will of a loving god, or if you get into heaven.

2) A simple prayer in Jesus' name will get you divine forgivness for absolutely anything.

Given those premises the most rational behavior is to indulge every nasty, petty, and evil, urge you think you can avoid secular punishment for, say a daily (or hourly, or whatever) prayer for forgivness and rest assured that even if you raped, tortured, and ate a whole kindergarten class you'll be rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven, while the Buddhis monks (suckers!) who lived good lives will scream in agony for all eternity because God loves them.

The docterine of eternal damnation is, I think, what will finally kill off Christianity. Most people who accept it simply haven't thought it through. It'd take a genuine psychopath to really and truly think that eternal damnation makes sense, and is the work of a loving and just deity.

[1] By my own self-honesty.
posted by sotonohito at 10:12 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


sonotohito, I'm not talking about otherworldly consequences. konolia seems to be suggesting that Christians won't get away with things in this life, so I'm asking what the modifiers are for other religions. It strikes me that if Christianity gives a 100% chance of getting caught, then Satanism, its negation, should have a 0% chance. But then again, Satanists, in the classic sense (rather than in its LaVeyan sense) are basically Christians who are worshipping the wrong guy- so I dunno what the best religion/philosophical stance would be. I was hoping konolia would know, since she apparently knows Christianity's modifier.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on August 26, 2007


Pope Guilty: "Wait, so if I avoid converting to Christianity, I have a better chance of getting away with stuff? What are the "getting away with stuff" modifiers for each religion/philosophical stance? My inner min-maxer wants to know. Does Satanism have the best modifier?"

The 'modifier' is 'trying to do good,' you flaming dipshit. It's pretty damned obvious. I have a feeling that if you were an earnestly patriotic German girl in 1943 who carried her Nazi card and baked cupcakes for the troops, not knowing the atrocities and believing they were saving the world, you'd still be doing a good thing; being a morally upright person is in the intention, not in the outcome. So even a silly and empty faith, like satanism and atheism, can have earnest and caring adherents.

The trouble isn't that religious people are vacuous. It's a common mistake in these times, because people have a hard time recognizing in themselves the faults they see in others. The trouble is that western humans, and especially the godforsaken, empty, robotic, soulless citizens of the United States of fucking America, are vacuous, cruel, heartless, tragic, and numb. We're all fucked. And if we look across the aisle and see it in the Xians, we should know we're looking in a fucking mirror.

Everyone-- Xians, atheists, republicans, democrats, everyone-- is on the same foolish level. It's obvious even in this thread, and in the way that, while Xians sit and try to hold up their pale imitation of the standard of faith by clinging to such things as "creation science," atheists don't even pretend to reflect on the possibility that Xians might have forgotten the depth of their tradition, and consider religion refuted when a few monkeys who've memorized a few bible verses are proven to be idiots.
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 AM on August 26, 2007


Oh, koeselitz, you really should read sonotohito's comment and my reply before you make it abundantly clear that you haven't.

Also:

atheists don't even pretend to reflect on the possibility that Xians might have forgotten the depth of their tradition, and consider religion refuted when a few monkeys who've memorized a few bible verses are proven to be idiots.

LOL, sir.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2007


Pope Guilty: But then again, Satanists, in the classic sense (rather than in its LaVeyan sense) are basically Christians who are worshipping the wrong guy- so I dunno what the best religion/philosophical stance would be."

Since you bring this up again, I find it serves my larger point (that your understanding of Xianity is akin to that of most Xians in being spectacularly limited) is well-served when I point this out:

Probably the most important and influential Xian teacher of the last hundred years, C. S. Lewis, took the position in his children's books that even an adherent of the most backwards Satanism would find redemption if he'd done it because he confused Satanism with the good. Morality, again, is about intention, not outcome. Specifically, please note that, at the end of the Lion, Witch, et al. trilogy, Aslan tells one of his clearly satanist enemies: "you are one of my own, and were all the time, because you did what you thought was right."
posted by koeselitz at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2007


I have a feeling that if you were an earnestly patriotic German girl in 1943 who carried her Nazi card and baked cupcakes for the troops, not knowing the atrocities and believing they were saving the world, you'd still be doing a good thing; being a morally upright person is in the intention, not in the outcome.

This is insane. Working in service of evil is not good.

Opening the closet door to reveal Haggard's lies and immorality and hypocrisy and crimes was a good thing. If people continue to be deluded by this guy and continue to support him, they're not doing good--no matter what they intend.

Q. What is Mike Jones doing at the Irish Rover on a Monday?
posted by amberglow at 11:03 AM on August 26, 2007


Probably the most important and influential Xian teacher of the last hundred years, C. S. Lewis, took the position in his children's books that even an adherent of the most backwards Satanism would find redemption if he'd done it because he confused Satanism with the good. Morality, again, is about intention, not outcome. Specifically, please note that, at the end of the Lion, Witch, et al. trilogy, Aslan tells one of his clearly satanist enemies: "you are one of my own, and were all the time, because you did what you thought was right."

Hi there! I was raised Christian and, up until I started to really think about the implications of some of the teachings, I was known at the church I was raised in as the kid who knew more about the Bible than the Sunday School teachers and one of the pastors. I embarassed senior members by pointing out problems in their theological assessments.

I'm not saying this to toot my own horn-nowadays, I regard knowledge of the Bible as spectacularly worthless outside of a few narrow areas, like being familiar enough with Leviticus to smack down homophobes with it. My point is, I'm quite familiar with the Bible. And frankly, I don't give two shakes of a dead rat's ass for C. S. Lewis' fantasies about a loving God. It's unbiblical and reflects a desire for God to be loving and merciful that is unsupported by scripture.

At any rate, you're failing so badly at reading comprehension that you can't even realise that you're essentially confirming what I said as accurate- that Satanists are basically Christians who fucked up and chose the wrong guy to worship. The Bible says that it's only through Christ that man can attain Heaven. Lewis' argument boils down to salvation through good intentions. Perhaps you've heard of a road that's paved with them?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:10 AM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


koeselitz I always enjoy discussing theology, so I'll dive in here.

A study of Christian theologists, as well as Biblical sources, indicate that the message Lewis included in The Last Battle is hetrodox in the extreme. The vast majority of Christian scholars agree that it is, in fact, the name of the deity you worship, not the intent that counts.

The axioms in my argument above, if not the conclusion, are perfectly within orthodox Christian theology. Considering that I paraphrased those axioms from Aquinas, I'd say that I'm in the realm of orthodox Christian thought.

As for "morality", I'll ask you to define the term. In my experience most people use it to mean "obedience to the sexual taboos of my tribe and the cheerful obedience of inferiors to superiors". Then I'll ask you what morality has to do with Christianity.

Because we keep coming back to the forgivness angle. Yes, the Bible does have not one, but dozens, of laundry lists of prohibited behaviors [1], but I've never understood why. Since no one is good enough for heaven (Romans 3:20-23), and Jesus represents the only way to heaven (the ever famous John 3:16 and dozens of others).

In fact, some mainstream Christian sects preach exactly what I've just written. They usually say "Faith not works" or something along those lines, but the message is the same.

Since behavior is, according to orthodox Christian theology, irrelivant WRT heaven and hell, why would any Christian bother following the various prohibitions? It doesn't matter if you do or don't.

Which brings me back to the question of why a Christian should, or would, bother trying to do good? As an atheist I have what I consider to be valid reasons for trying to do good, but I'll admit that my study of Christian theology has yet to show me a good reason for a true Bible believer to have the faintest desire to do good.

Pope Guilty I misunderstood your question, sorry. Also, on preview, what you said.

[1] Note, however, that never once does it explain *WHY* a given behavior is immoral, or wrong, or abomination, or whatever. Thus making it all but impossible to determine whether an action that is not inclued in the laundry lists (cloning, for example) is moral or not. A laundry list is not a system of morality, and a system of morality cannot be devised from a laundry list.
posted by sotonohito at 11:17 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


They usually say "Faith not works" or something along those lines, but the message is the same.

Who was it that had that line about a faith that doesn't produce works being empty? I always thought that that was a solid point.

Since behavior is, according to orthodox Christian theology, irrelivant WRT heaven and hell, why would any Christian bother following the various prohibitions? It doesn't matter if you do or don't.

It's my understanding that such prohibitions reflect the will of God WRT morality- if you're really saved, then you want to be good and to please God. You would, then, follow the rules set down in the Bible not because you think you have to in order to go to Heaven, but because you want to please God and those rules are an indication of what pleases and displeases God.

You can always go with the Jack Chick "Say the magic words!" definition of salvation, but it's so very hollow.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not my fault. The Devil made me do it!
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2007


I don't believe in "say the magic words" either.

My definition of it is "repent and believe the gospel." The true gospel teaches that if one has faith, one WILL be producing the works. That is what sanctification is about.

One can be forgiven and justified (made right before God) but the process of sanctification needs to continue throughout one's lifetime.

I guess the best way to explain this is that an apple tree will produce apples. In the same way, if you are the possessor of a saving faith, you WILL be doing good works. You WILL be walking more and more as Jesus walked.

In essence: a Christian's spirit IS saved, his soul is BEING saved and his body WILL be saved.

If you are confused, that's okay. But if nothing else please understand that just repeating a prayer saved no one. Repenting and believing does. There IS A DIFFERENCE.
posted by konolia at 11:44 AM on August 26, 2007


konolia, that's pretty much my understanding of the theology, there.

I'm still waiting on the +get caught modifiers for the various religions, by the way.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2007


If someone says they're a Christian, then they're Christian.

Well, not even the Bible teaches that. The Bible itself says there are those who call Jesus "Lord, Lord" but his response is " I never knew you."
posted by konolia at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2007


konolia -- I think it's because we [Christians] tend to want to believe the best of people.

Konolia, Christianity is inescapably hostile to the entire concept of believing in the innate goodness of people. Christianity teaches that every human is born drench in the evil of original sin and spiritually doomed without active intervention.
posted by NortonDC at 12:26 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Konolia, Christianity is inescapably hostile to the entire concept of believing in the innate goodness of people. Christianity teaches that every human is born drench in the evil of original sin and spiritually doomed without active intervention.

Exactly.

But I was referring to what is commonly called the "love" chapter of First Corinthians, chapter 13
posted by konolia at 2:14 PM on August 26, 2007


So do you see how a reasonable person could think that's at odds with believing the best of people?
posted by NortonDC at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2007


konolia I'm perfectly aware of what the Bible teaches, I'm not Christian myself and never have been, but I'm interested in theology.

However, my point is that neither you, nor I, am the arbiter of who is or is not a Christian. Given that either I'm right and your deity does not exist, or if you are right he's hiding and not saying anything, the only real option we have is to take people at their word when they say "I'm a Christian". Or are you proposing that you are the mouthpiece of your god? Because unless you are proposing that, I don't see how you're in any position to judge whether or not someone is Christian any more than I am.

As for doing good, I can see your line of reasoning, and think it makes for a better way to be Christian than many others. Unfortunately the Jack Chick magic words approach is being widely embraced and spread by the Mega-Church type places that measure success in number of bodies. And, needless to say, by Haggard and his ilk.

Speaking as an atheist I'm especially unwilling to ever say that any person is not really a member of the religion they claim.

Pope Guilty Yup, except for the fact that the rules still seem to imply that the minmax approach to Christianity, if we assume Christinity is real, would work just fine. There doesn't seem to be any requirement that one truly desire to please God in order to be saved. Jack Chick and his magic words do have quite a bit of Biblical basis.

I think, honestly, its an example of Paul getting too clever for his own good. Several of his letters (Romans, for example) include quite elegant logic chains (his "everyone believes and if they say they don't they're lying" bit is especially fun). But if you say "good behavior matters" then there will be less incentive to go to church and give your money to the priests, so he couldn't say that. The problem is that by putting in all the "belief alone is all that matters" stuff it offers no real reason to do good.

Among teenagers exposed to several modern preachers and televangalists it often gets expressed as "if I go party and screw around I can make up for it by harrassing the teacher about evolution".

I think the faith vs. works bit a pretty serious theological flaw, and I think its contributory to the declining numbers of Christians. Between that and eternal damnation it isn't surprising that you see so many people abandoning Christinaity, or at least orthodox Christianity. One of my arch-fundamentalist friends recently came out of a crisis of faith and became a Universalist (not a Unitarian Universalist) because he was unable to accept the docterne of eternal damnation once he started really thinking about it.
posted by sotonohito at 2:44 PM on August 26, 2007


I don't see how you're in any position to judge whether or not someone is Christian any more than I am

You may be surprised to know that I can't claim to know 100 percent if someone is really Christian. What I can claim is that God Himself does know who is regenerated and who isn't. As the Bible does teach, man looks at appearance and God looks at the heart.


One of my arch-fundamentalist friends recently came out of a crisis of faith and became a Universalist (not a Unitarian Universalist) because he was unable to accept the docterne of eternal damnation once he started really thinking about it.

In order to receive my certificate for a worship leading course at my church's Bible college, I had to take two pretty intense courses in systematic theology. In those courses I found out that ultimately every one of us deserves nothing less than hell. It's a true miracle of grace any of us gets anything better. Either way it's pretty mindboggling. I can understand why someone would become a Universalist (and I can think of one prominent pastor who did just that) but Biblically there is no way I could defend that belief system.

I wish we all were going to heaven. I wish we all were fit for heaven, and I wish we could have been fit for heaven without Jesus doing what He did and suffering what He suffered. But that isn't how things are. I do trust that God in His wisdom and mercy does all things right, even the hell part.

People go to hell because they are rebels against God, period. If God glossed that over, he'd have to let Satan back in. That ain't happening.
posted by konolia at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2007


In those courses I found out that ultimately every one of us deserves nothing less than hell. It's a true miracle of grace any of us gets anything better.

Your religion is tragic and sad--and belittling. God never believed or said that any of us belong in hell, and he purposely and repeatedly engaged in covenants with us because we are so worthwhile and because we have so much promise and value--as humans.
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on August 26, 2007


I don't even see why anyone is pro-life at all if everyone deserves hell--what's the point? Mass suicide should be Christian doctrine.
posted by amberglow at 4:19 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Reading the rest of this thread, I feel like I'm standing in the shadows of a dimly lit room. Three figures sit in regal mahogany armchairs with plush cushions the color of blood.

They sip 15 year old single malts with a little ice and a dash of spring water, and have excellent hand gestures.

One is wearing a furry suit.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:19 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


In order to receive my certificate for a worship leading course at my church's Bible college, I had to take two pretty intense courses in systematic theology. In those courses I found out that ultimately every one of us deserves nothing less than hell. It's a true miracle of grace any of us gets anything better. Either way it's pretty mindboggling. I can understand why someone would become a Universalist (and I can think of one prominent pastor who did just that) but Biblically there is no way I could defend that belief system.

wow it's weird that out of the literally thousands of Christian sects and interpretations of the Bible the correct one turned out to be the one taught at a community college night class in Shitburg, WV
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:32 PM on August 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "Hi there! ... I'm quite familiar with the Bible."

Hi there! Bullshit.

"And frankly, I don't give two shakes of a dead rat's ass for C. S. Lewis' fantasies about a loving God. It's unbiblical and reflects a desire for God to be loving and merciful that is unsupported by scripture... The Bible says that it's only through Christ that man can attain Heaven. Lewis' argument boils down to salvation through good intentions."

If you weren't so busy spinning your head around inside your own ass, you'd realize that you're merely parroting the "Jack Chick" version of Xianity that you seem to acknowledge isn't the deeper reading of it. It is clear, and has been clear since day one of this whole Christ thing, that it can have an inner meaning and an outer meaning. And only the most simplistic fools would take the verses near the beginning of the fourteenth chapter of John to mean that "no one comes to the father except if they mutter some prayers which happen to include the Anglicized version of my name."

In fact, there are so many aspects of that passage that you're blatantly ignoring, it's as though you're wearing sunglasses smeared with shit. Don't fool yourself; you're just as brainwashed as the simpletons who ran your sunday school classes.

First of all: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;" why those three things? I have a feeling it's not merely because you get into heaven with his ticket, else somebody along the line might've made it more economical and just changed it to "life." Second of all: "no one comes to the father except by me," what exactly does it mean to 'come to the father?' You'll say, 'ah, well, it's just a metaphor for going to heaven,' because, as I've said, you've been brainwashed like the rest of them. I'll remind you (if you knew it, which I doubt) that church doctrine, original and correct church doctrine, indicates that there is a delicate and difficult-to-define relationship between the persons of the trinity; careful reading of the bible bears this doctrine out. Why it must be necessary to 'come to the father' in order to attain whatever it is Jesus is promising to his followers here? What exactly is the meaning of the apparent metaphor about his father's house having many rooms?

Third of all, and finally: what exactly does it mean to come to the father through the Christ? While useless bags of piss (like you, my Papal friend) are given to acting as though this simply means one must have "JESUS IS COOL!" stamped on a sort of membership card when one meets the proverbial Peter at the proverbial Pearly Gates, the context, and especially the metaphor with which the chapter begins, indicate that this is an image; and it would be hard to read the new testament as a whole honestly and come away thinking that it's suggesting we start some sort of club.

It's not for nothing that that original church doctrine (remember that pesky little bugger? Did you ever, in your supposedly long and careful years of studying the bible, even think to consider what it might have been?) claims that, not only did the Christ become man, he became wholly man, he became mankind itself, and is forever crucified within the hearts of every single human being. We must, doctrine continues, follow 'the way of the Christ,' bringing about a little resurrection within our hearts of the bit in us which partakes thusly, and, as it's known in that faded phrase, 'accept him into our hearts.'

Christianity is not about crosses, swords, church, baptism, crusades, politics, hatred, or anything like that.

Christianity is about the way that the finite, limited, spectacularly small moment is saturated, drenched, soaking and dripping with the infinite, the absolute, all-encompassing and unlimited. It's about the fact that that saturation of the limited by the unlimited is a sacrifice, and it means that we humans, for all that our minds are limited, for all that our knowledge, our experience, our love and our hate is infinitely small-- in other words, for all that we, too, will very soon lie empty and motionless on the ground and not even warrant a memory fifty years hence-- can, by grabbing on to the absolute that stoops down into limited reality, follow a pathway that opens us into infinity and eternity.

That pathway is what the Christ means in the fourteenth chapter of John. If anyone, of any religion, is able to follow it, then they attain salvation, according to the teaching of the verse. I hope you can begin to see by now just how difficult it will be for us to say whether other religions endorse this path, though it's clearly possible for it to have occurred to people outside of Christianity. If you'd like, I can begin producing a list of doctors of the church who thought the same damned thing.

But I have a feeling you don't really care to see it. Anyone who assumes that s/he attained deep mastery of a text that has puzzled the entire world for about twenty centuries by watching dunderheads play with felt cutouts of sheep and various ancient peoples at the age of ten probably doesn't really understand what reading actually entails.

on preview, since why stop now?

konolia: "... ultimately every one of us deserves nothing less than hell. It's a true miracle of grace any of us gets anything better. Either way it's pretty mindboggling. I can understand why someone would become a Universalist (and I can think of one prominent pastor who did just that) but Biblically there is no way I could defend that belief system."

Fucking hell. Please go read Dante now.

amberglow: "Your religion is tragic and sad--and belittling. God never believed or said that any of us belong in hell, and he purposely and repeatedly engaged in covenants with us because we are so worthwhile and because we have so much promise and value--as humans."

Fucking hell. Please go read Dante now.
posted by koeselitz at 5:42 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


wow it's weird that out of the literally thousands of Christian sects and interpretations of the Bible the correct one turned out to be the one taught at a community college night class in Shitburg, WV

First of all, it was in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and not a community college. And our text was Berkhov's Systematic Theology.

For the first time in its long and acclaimed history, Louis Berkhof's monumental treatment of the doctrines of the Reformed faith is now available together in one volume with his Introduction to the Study of Systematic Theology, which serves as the prolegomenon to his theology. Designed to be read together with his Systematic Theology, the Introduction includes Berkhof's discussions of the nature and character of dogmatics, the methods and history of theological systematics, and the principia, or foundations, of theology: Scripture and God. This edition also includes a new preface by Richard A. Muller that explains both the publishing history and the relation and importance of the Introduction to the rest of Berkhof's text.
Written in a concise style and organized in a manner ideal for detailed study, Systematic Theology covers the full range of systematic loci including the doctrines of God, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. The work also includes an extensive bibliography and full indexes to the authors, subjects, and Scriptures referenced in the text. Revised and enlarged throughout his lifetime until it reached its final form, Systematic Theology not only stands as Berkhof's magnum opus, but also is widely considered to be the most important twentieth-century compendium of Reformed theology.


Those two courses I took were the hardest classes I have ever taken in my life and that includes the philosophy class I took at NC State back in the day.
posted by konolia at 6:02 PM on August 26, 2007


I've read Dante. Fiction.
posted by konolia at 6:05 PM on August 26, 2007


In what sense?
posted by koeselitz at 6:30 PM on August 26, 2007


koeselitz. Buddy. You're trying very hard to do several things here, and you're still not disagreeing with me as badly as you want to because I'm not saying what your heart is burning for me to say so that you can smack me down. I'm still, no matter how satisfying it would be for you if I did, not arguing that you can just say a magic prayer and get it. Christ is pretty clear that it's through him only, and at no point does he appear to be endorsing any sort of "Say my name and get half off!" deal.

You go on about all these aspects that you need, desperately, for me to be unaware of so that you can smack me down by elucidating them. Hey, that's fine. It's good that you've found something to be passionate about. You're wrong, of course- I'm quite aware of those implications.

It's not for nothing that that original church doctrine (remember that pesky little bugger? Did you ever, in your supposedly long and careful years of studying the bible, even think to consider what it might have been?) claims that, not only did the Christ become man, he became wholly man, he became mankind itself, and is forever crucified within the hearts of every single human being. We must, doctrine continues, follow 'the way of the Christ,' bringing about a little resurrection within our hearts of the bit in us which partakes thusly, and, as it's known in that faded phrase, 'accept him into our hearts.'

Oh, koeselitz, I'm so aware of this. I mean, the idea of "original church doctrine" being even vaguely binding on any human being with discernment is as loathesome and vile as ever, but I can find no fault in your reading and interpretation- I think we hold many of the same points, excepting that you regard them as relevant to reality and I regard them as on the same level as the rules to Settlers of Catan.

That pathway is what the Christ means in the fourteenth chapter of John. If anyone, of any religion, is able to follow it, then they attain salvation, according to the teaching of the verse. I hope you can begin to see by now just how difficult it will be for us to say whether other religions endorse this path, though it's clearly possible for it to have occurred to people outside of Christianity. If you'd like, I can begin producing a list of doctors of the church who thought the same damned thing.

And here we go astray. Do not be deceived by Universalism, koeselitz; all religions are not one religion. Judaism does not offer salvation, nor Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Neo-paganism, nor any of the others. Many of them hold a certain portion of the contempt for humanity which stands at the base of Christianity, but they are not pointing at the God of Christianity. If they did so, there would be no moral disagreements between the faiths; as roads pointing in the same direction, their paths would vary only by their starting points, but the straight and narrow path would be no more crooked. It is not difficult for us to say whether other religions endorse this path; ask any professor of comparative religions. Knowledge and study dispel the doubt and ignorance that you're advocating for. And the fact that you can bring up Christians who agree with you is pointless- one can find Christians who believe nearly anything.

But I have a feeling you don't really care to see it. Anyone who assumes that s/he attained deep mastery of a text that has puzzled the entire world for about twenty centuries by watching dunderheads play with felt cutouts of sheep and various ancient peoples at the age of ten probably doesn't really understand what reading actually entails.

Again you project your ignorance upon the world, koeselitz. The Bible has existed in roughly its current form no longer than 1700 or so years, and it has spent a large amount of that time being hidden from the public behind a linguistic barrier in order to ensure that only one interpretation- a horrifying mess of tacked-on ideas and principles and theories- could exist. I take further exception to your claim that it puzzles anyone- there is a massive corpus of scholarship upon the subject. Whatever you wish to know, you have only to ask the right person. That you prefer to remain in ignorance and darkness is your own affair, however sad.

Fucking hell. Please go read Dante now.

How like you, to insist that people who are not Biblical authors be considered to have some sort of authority. If non-Biblical authors have the same authority as Biblical authors, then you've destroyed the authority of scripture. Congratulations. Welcome to reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those two courses I took were the hardest classes I have ever taken in my life and that includes the philosophy class I took at NC State back in the day.

If you find intro to philosophy hard, that would go a loooong way to explaining your posting history.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2007


I just checked Pope Guilty's posting history. Wow, impressive!

And by impressive I mean, please stop, you are boring us to death.


And from your profile, philosophy major, Muncie - I'm guessing Ball State, amirite?

again, impressive!
posted by vronsky at 8:04 PM on August 26, 2007


Actually it was metaphysics. A lot of people dropped the class, including all the other girls.

I got a B.
posted by konolia at 8:44 PM on August 26, 2007


Ah, I had metaphysics last year. Not my strong suit- I lean much harder toward ethics.

...though I'm kind of baffled. What level was that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:07 PM on August 26, 2007


words
posted by konolia at 6:02 PM on August 26


tell you what: you and your crew all just go ahead and convert all the jews and the muslims and all the other heathens and mud people or whatever it is you and your parents call them and then you can go ahead and inform us here that you and the good people of Fayetteville invented the One True Faith

also, you don't need to tell me or any of us that we're going to hell anymore, because a world with theologians who also happen to be "spin certified" is indistinguishable from hell already
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:50 PM on August 26, 2007


Spin class isn't THAT hot.
posted by konolia at 5:09 AM on August 27, 2007


I've read Dante The Bible. Fiction.

Fixes that for you. LOLXTIANS
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:13 AM on August 27, 2007


And to be specific, The Inferno is allegory, which is to say non-fiction disguised as fiction to make it more palatable and less slanderous in an age during which that could have gotten Dante tortured or killed. Rather the opposite of the bible, which is fiction disguised as non-fiction to sucker the gullible -- of the ancient Near East. But translate it into English and dumbass Americans still fall for it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:15 AM on August 27, 2007


konolia Wow.... And conservative pundits say the liberal atheists are motivated by a hatred of humanity.

Seriously, and with no snark at all, let me second amberglow's question: Why don't you endorse mass suicide since you hate people so much?

Also another one, again with no snark at all: How can you live with yourself, or even find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, if you seriously believe that you are so disgusting, worthless, and vile?

And finally, on a different subject: Why should you, or I, or anyone, care even a little about Jesus' suffering on the cross [1]?

Let me elaborate. He is/was God, creator of the universe, etc. He chose to suffer in that manner, very much like a sub at a BDSM club choses to be beaten. Why should I care about one, chosen and willingly embraced, crucifiction more than I care about the thousands of people the Roman empire crucified who didn't chose it, who didn't embrace it, and who weren't God?

So Jesus, an immortal, omnipotent, universe creating being experienced pain of his own choosing for a few days. Why should I care about that more than I care about the billions of people who, if I accept your belief system, are currently suffering vastly worse pain in hell, and will continue to suffer that pain for not just their lifetime, not just a few hundred years, not just a thousand years, but for ALL FUCKING TIME, because your ever so loving and kind god is a sick, evil, sadistic, thug who won't even let them die?

I know where my sympathy lies, and it lies with the little girl born into the Hopi tribe who died at age three months, having never harmed anyone or done anything wrong, but who (becuase your god is so loving and kind and delightful in all ways) is now being tortured eternally, never to know release from pain, because she was born in the wrong place (America) and time (AD 1491) and thus had no chance to even learn about your twisted religion, so therefore (according to the laws of your kind, loving, and benevolant god) she is suitable for nothing but an eternity of torment that he *could* release her from, but because he's so nice and kind and loving he won't.

With all that in mind, tell me why I should care even one tiny bit about the suffering your poor, all powerful, Jesus suffered?

Nope. I still maintain that the docterne of eternal damnation is one of Christianity's weak points and is a contributing factor to the shrinkage your religion is experiencing.

[1] Assuming for the sake of argument that the incident described in the Bible was real, which for the record I don't, but for the sake of argument....
posted by sotonohito at 5:27 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I reject the slanderous accusation that I hate people.

I reject the slanderous accusation that God is not kind, loving, just and perfect in all His ways.

I may not understand everything He does. As to that baby, I don't believe babies go to Hell. Jesus died for them, and I assume He is smart enough to know how to appropriate His sacrifice for their salvation.

What I do know is that it is a very very VERY bad idea for someone to willfully rebel against Him. I do not recommend it.
posted by konolia at 5:44 AM on August 27, 2007


I reject the slanderous accusation that God is not kind, loving, just and perfect in all His ways.

There's a difference between "slanderous accusation" and "judging from the evidence". The book that is allegedly the Word of God depicts a psychotic monster who kills everything in the world except a single family and its menagerie because he's upset. He annihilates a city because he's upset with it. He designates a group as his chosen people, and the Jews go on to become a punching bag for pretty much the rest of history. Read the Bible- God is evil.

I may not understand everything He does. As to that baby, I don't believe babies go to Hell. Jesus died for them, and I assume He is smart enough to know how to appropriate His sacrifice for their salvation.

Got some kind of scripture for this, or is this the sort of wishful thinking that koeselitz has been engaging in?

What I do know is that it is a very very VERY bad idea for someone to willfully rebel against Him. I do not recommend it.

I don't respond well to threats of violence, which is exactly what this is. Why do you respond to them, and why are you making them?

Oh, I've heard the answer that I know is coming a hundred times before- "it's not a threat, I'm just letting you know what the consequences of your decision are!" A man holding a gun to your head could say the same, and in the case of Hell, that's precisely what's happening. If God's the creator of everything, then God created Hell. All that fire and agony is God's creation, and it is God's Will that those who reject him suffer infinitely. This is not a loving god. This is a jealous lunatic who kills people that anger him. Loving such a fiend is a reprehensible act that stands as a betrayal of humanity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:31 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


konolia You wrote: "In those courses I found out that ultimately every one of us deserves nothing less than hell"

So, you believe that humans deserve nothing *less* than eternal agony of an unimaginably horrific nature that will never be ended even by death. Your statement implies that humans might deserve something even worse.

You also wrote: "I reject the slanderous accusation that I hate people."

So, if you don't hate people, why would you say that we all deserve to be tortured, not, mind you for a day, or a week, or a year, but forever? I'm not sure I hate anyone enough to wish them to be tortured for even a couple of weeks, yet you think everyone, that is every human being who has ever lived and will ever live, deserves to be tortured eternally and without end. That's hate cousin. It isn't possible to think that someone deserves an eternity of torture without hating them.

Perhaps you need to rethink your position on hell if you don't hate people.

You wrote: "I reject the slanderous accusation that God is not kind, loving, just and perfect in all His ways."

So this god person tortures people for all time, with no possibility of ever stopping, because he loves them. Right, got it.

So, explain why this, kind, loving, just and perfect in all ways god tortures people without end and won't even grant them the respite of death?

Doesn't compute. You can't torture someone and love them. You can't mete out infinate punishment for finite crimes and be just.

This, BTW, is why I think the docterne of eternal damnation is so damaging for Christianity. It also doesn't do very much good when it comes to converting people who have been non-Christian for a long time, as you'll have to get them to accept that a) their ancestors are being tortured for all time, and b) they must love the being who is torturing their ancestors.

You wrote: "As to that baby, I don't believe babies go to Hell."

Ummm.... So, where does it say that in the Bible? Specific chapter and verse please. Either that or an admit that you don't consider the Bible to be the ultimate authority on such matters, and explain exacly where you think the Bible is in error, and why we should take your word for that.

Also, what's the magic cut off age? Age 5? Age 8? Age 18? What Biblical authority can you cite for that age?

Finally, if you honestly believe that a) babies won't go to hell, and b) people over a certain age will if they don't *SOMETHING* [1] would this imply that c) the best thing you could do for a child is to kill them before they hit the cut off age? I mean if they get past the get out of hell free age and don't repent they'll suffer for eternity, but if you kill them before that age there's no chance they will suffer for eternity. I'm assuming that you don't think that's the case, but could you explain why not?

You also haven't answered my question as to why I should care about the willingly chosen suffering of Christ more than I should care about the unwillingly chosen suffering of all the Buddhist monks in hell?

[1] You haven't specified what particular actions, rituals, etc that you believe are necessary for salvation, insert them where you see the *SOMETHING*.
posted by sotonohito at 6:57 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito, it suddenly occurs to me that if one really believed that babies go to heaven, and that life begins at conception, abortion would be a sacrament.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:02 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pope Gulty Yup.

I've always wondered about that "life begins at conception" thing. Considering that for the average woman fully 50% of fertilized eggs fail to implant and are simply expelled during the menstral cycle. Does this mean they consider those to be, auto-abortions, divinely caused abortions, or what?
posted by sotonohito at 7:24 AM on August 27, 2007


And to be specific, The Inferno is allegory, which is to say non-fiction disguised as fiction to make it more palatable and less slanderous in an age during which that could have gotten Dante tortured or killed. Rather the opposite of the bible, which is fiction disguised as non-fiction to sucker the gullible -- of the ancient Near East. But translate it into English and dumbass Americans still fall for it.
Boccaccio's worth 20 of Dante--and he recognized the value of people and their lives, and the value of life in general. Dante was social criticism mixed with fantasy, based on his own views of earthly power and its uses and misuses.

Dante reminds me of this relevant forgery tho: the Donation of Constantine
posted by amberglow at 7:33 AM on August 27, 2007


I don't hate people. I AM "people."

God is holy. We are not. God is perfect. We are totally not.

Think about it. Ecosystems work just fine until you inject humans into them. And that's with a FALLEN creation.

God loved us and made a way for us to be saved. At a pretty high and painful cost to Himself. He did not have to do that but He did.

As far as abortions being a sacrament? The flaw in your reasoning is that you think mankind has a right to decide life and death. One of the perks of being God is being in charge of life and death. One of the flaws of humanity is thinking WE are in charge of anything.
posted by konolia at 10:32 AM on August 27, 2007


I don't hate people. I AM "people."

Self-loathing is a very common human trait, and a measure of it is necessary in order to believe that you are in need of salvation. Heck, we have this huge marketing/advertising industry whose business is largely in perpetuating it.

Think about it. Ecosystems work just fine until you inject humans into them. And that's with a FALLEN creation.

There is no "Just fine". Animals die. Extinctions happen. Ecological disasters occur whether we're here or not. Your statement rides the border between ignorance and nonsense. Furthermore, at the present some humans are behaving irresponsibly, but there are any number of "primitive" societies that slot into their local ecosystem just fine without burdening it. Guess what religion none of them are?

God loved us and made a way for us to be saved. At a pretty high and painful cost to Himself. He did not have to do that but He did.

God's omnipotent, remember? He could have simply said "Okay, all's forgiven!" and just brought everyone back to Heaven if he wanted to. The agony of crucifixion, the whole business of Hell and damnation and so on, all of it was chosen by God. Your God could have chosen to bring everyone to Heaven and forgive everything unconditionally. He did not, choosing instead a path of agony and torture and death. These are not the actions of a loving, peaceful, merciful being, but of one that is obsessed with violence and pain and death.

As far as abortions being a sacrament? The flaw in your reasoning is that you think mankind has a right to decide life and death. One of the perks of being God is being in charge of life and death. One of the flaws of humanity is thinking WE are in charge of anything.

Said the death penalty advocate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


God's omnipotent, remember? He could have simply said "Okay, all's forgiven!" and just brought everyone back to Heaven if he wanted to.

Omnipotence is only one of God's many attributes. He is also a Just God. It would violate His Justice to do what you just suggested he could have done. Being both Just and Merciful He did what He did.

I could go on and on but we spent weeks on the topic in theology class. If you are genuinely interested you could do worse than get a copy of Berkhov's Systematic Theology and go through it.
posted by konolia at 11:18 AM on August 27, 2007


konolia You haven't explained what Biblical justification you have for your belief that babies are immune from damnation. Am I to take this to mean that you have no such justification, or what?

Also, you wrote: "Think about it. Ecosystems work just fine until you inject humans into them. And that's with a FALLEN creation."

This is, interestingly, one of the less popular arguments for humanity as evil. I suspect it is because generally those arguing that humanity is evil are often those arguing against preservation of the ecosystem.

However, it is a completely false argument. Humans, qua humans, are not inately damaging to ecosystems. You are making the classic mistake of confusing "humans" with "humans who belong to my meta-culture".

Prior to the invention of totalitarian agriculture [1] humans lived for tens of thousands of years (possibly millions of years, new research indicates that the species may be older than previously thought) without causing particular damage to the ecosystem. It is true that our current meta-culture is inately harmful to the planet, but our current meta-culture is not inate to humans, and I suspect that it will be collapsing soonish.

The point is that it is not necessary to assume that humans are perfect in order to assert that humans are not inately harmful to their environment, and that imperfect humans were not particularly harmful to their environment for the vast majority of their existence as a species.

On to other matters. You wrote "God loved us and made a way for us to be saved. At a pretty high and painful cost to Himself. He did not have to do that but He did."

Another interesting theological area. Why would it require a painful cost to God in order to save humans? He is all powerful, yes? All powerful means "able to do *ANYTHING*", which, you might notice, includes saving humanity at no cost to himself at all.

Further it raises the question: what of the humans who lived before the supposed birth of Jesus? Are they simply damned for being born too soon? If so this hardly seems to be the result one would expect from an all powerful and loving god.

And, what of the people of the American continents who were unable to learn about salvation for nearly 500 years? Did your god simply forget about them? Or did he have special reason to hate the native Americans and thus doom another 500 years of their people to eternal torture just for grins and giggles?

Or will you now tell me that, again without Biblical justification, the native Americans were also immune to damnation prior to it being possible for them to be saved?

[1] Some people will say that what was invented in the fertile cressent some 10,000 years ago was agriculture, but this is not the case. Agriculture, in one form or another, has been around for tens of thousands of years. What was invented in the fertile cressent was totalitarian agriculture, a term I lifted from Daniel Quinn, and a useful term despite his being wrong on so many things.

Totalitarian, in this instance, does not refer to a political system, but rather the system of agriculture as we practice it today, where someone decides that in a certain area only our food can grow and takes effort to systematically wipe out anything other than our food. Other systems exist, none produce the sort of surplus that totalitarian agriculture does, and none require the intensity of labor that it does either. Google "permaculture" for an example of an alternate agricultural system developed in the modern world.
posted by sotonohito at 11:18 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shoulda previewed.

It's a derail, but an interesting one.

You wrote "Omnipotence is only one of God's many attributes. He is also a Just God. It would violate His Justice to do what you just suggested he could have done."

Well, actually, you've run into another of the problems with omnipotence. If there truly are no limits to God's power then he could change what "Just" means so that universal forgivness wouldn't be a violation of justice.

"All powerful" sounds fun to sing in hymns and so forth, but its actually damn tricky to work with theologically. Your explanation, for example, argues for a limit on God's power, which kinda conflicts with the "all powerful" thing. All powerful is an absolute or its not all powerful.
posted by sotonohito at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2007


I think she's more saying that God's Just attribute means that he wouldn't want to do a pain-free salvation in the first place, rather than not being able to. I'm certainly capable of kicking kittens, but I wouldn't ever want to.

It's also built upon a conception of Justice that is about punishment and pain and death rather than being about anything positive, but that comes as no surprise, as it fits in with what I said earlier.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


You always seem to mistake tortured schoolboy logic for intelligence sotonohito. I'm guessing sophomore?

And Sam Harris is a Buddhist? Doesn't compute. Buddha not only spoke frequently about being in the presence of Brahma, but the 33 lesser gods as well. And re your buddhist monks in hell remark, you know that Buddha preached about hell more than jesus did right? In nightmarish detail.
posted by vronsky at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2007


vronsky ??? What, specifically, were you refering to? If it helps any, I've got a bachelor's degree and I'm 32.

As for Buddhism, I mentioned Buddhist monks only because konolia is dodging the question of infant damnation so I was looking for a group of people generally accepted to be pretty decent, but doomed to be tortured by her loving god for all eternity.

As for Sam Harris, I haven't seen mention of him in this thread other than yours, what made you bring him up? Especially what makes you imply that I ever said he was a Buddhist?

As for Siddharta Gautama, you are in factual error. Siddharta almost never spoke of life after death. Later Buddhists priests, monks, etc did speak about dozens, even hundreds, of hells in nightmarish detail, and thus modern Buddhism includes those beliefs.
posted by sotonohito at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2007


Omnipotence is only one of God's many attributes. He is also a Just God. It would violate His Justice to do what you just suggested he could have done. Being both Just and Merciful He did what He did.

It's not Just nor justice nor merciful to damn everyone from the start, and to have everyone start with this sort of handicap/blemish on them even before they do anything to deserve it or not.
posted by amberglow at 3:00 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


sorry sotonohito, wrong again, although that is a common misconception. And konolia did not dodge your question, she answered it upthread. Are you really lonely or something, cause this type of endless arguing is pretty much all you do here at mefi. Gives me a headache.

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya

it is always smart to go to the original texts whenever possible, try this one and get back to me.

And amberglow you know I love you, but who teaches this? The Catholics? Shit my friend from college went on to become an Episcopal minister and he is way far to the left of even the most rabid mefites. (very close with that gay bishop too)
posted by vronsky at 6:19 PM on August 27, 2007


vronsky, I don't get the impression that you'd know a leftist if it redistributed your land.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 PM on August 27, 2007


whatev Pope Guilty (that username joke wasn't fuckin funny the first time I read it, much less now)


Go wear your beret and smoke your gauloises on the quadrangle, we're not impressed. You have been a humorless, obnoxious twat from day one around here. You're like matteo without the brains.
posted by vronsky at 11:45 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


vronsky If theological wanking bugs you there is an amazing new technology that can help: don't read the threads. That way you won't be bothered by those of us who enjoy this sort of thing. I know its amazing, but not everyone has the same tastes as you do. Weird, huh?

And yes, konolia did dodge the question. She stated that she didn't believe babies were sent to hell, but has since then steadfastly refused to cite the Biblical verses which support that claim. Which kinda makes her "the Bible is the authority on all religious matters" line look a bit weak. Also her "everyone deserves nothing less than hell" line a bit weak.

The fact is that she, like all sane people, can't really fully accept the docterne of eternal damnation once it begins to be examined closely. Which is unsurprising because its a vile concept.
posted by sotonohito at 3:25 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The fact is that she, like all sane people, can't really fully accept the docterne of eternal damnation once it begins to be examined closely. Which is unsurprising because its a vile concept.

Completely vile, and subjugating, and not at all consistent with a God who is supposed to have created us all in his image.
posted by amberglow at 8:16 AM on August 28, 2007


very relevant: the God of Double Standards
posted by amberglow at 8:49 AM on August 28, 2007


I believe we are all born with a sin nature. I believe Jesus's sacrifice on the cross paid for the sins of all those who repent and believe.

As to babies, Jesus Himself said that of such is the kingdom of Heaven. He didn't explicitly say just how this could be so but I assume He has the authority to apply His salvation to souls too young to understand repentance-or in fact, too young to sentiently sin. It might help you to know that I am a Calvinist and as such believe Jesus died for the elect. I also believe-because the Bible comes right out and says it-that no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him, and that the ability to repent comes from God.

Since I do firmly believe in God's attributes of love and justice-which cannot be separated from one another-I suspect that there is a lot about salvation that He hasn't explained to us. I am only responsible for the parts He has explained.

In other words, He has told me how I MYSELF can be born again. He doesn't have to explain to me about babies, or about people who do not have a full revelation (although the bible also explicitly teaches that all Creation testifies of God so that no man has an excuse.) That is HIS business.

I think that deep thinkers (like many here) get all tied up in trying to figure God out, and forget to realize that God has no obligation to tell us everything He is doing and everything He is up to. He tells us what we NEED to know in order to escape His wrath.

I am no philosopher (Altho I do have a son who is a minor in the subject.) I am also no theologian. But I do know God. I do know His kindness. He has healed me and fixed my life in so many ways. It hurts to see Him so misunderstood here. But I do know we all tend to see Him thru grids of either our or someone elses's own making. None of us see him as he really is, yet.
posted by konolia at 12:17 PM on August 28, 2007


konolia, can you stop for a moment, consider that you believe that the majority of human beings were created for the sole purpose of being tortured eternally in Hell and that they damn well deserve it (which implies that your concept of desert is pretty broken, but anyway) and then realise why we might accuse you of hating humanity?

But really. You can't have predestination and have anyone "deserve" anything. If I don't have the free will to choose Heaven or Hell- and the denial of that will is central to Calvinist theology- then i cannot possibly deserve anything whatsoever, be it Heaven or Hell, because it is no longer my choice. All the words you say are meaningless, pointless babble, because it doesn't matter- you are no more or less capable of talking someone into salvation than I am of talking them out of it! By believing in predestination and the salvation of the elect, you have created a conception of a God who created billions of human beings with the purpose of damning them to eternal agony. And you cannot claim that those so created "deserve" damnation- if God had wanted them to achieve Heaven, he would have created them in such a way as to grant them Heaven.

By denying free will (a logical consequence of believing in an omnipotent and omniscient creator deity, I will grant), you've made God into a fiend worse than Satan himself. The Devil is no longer a monster- he becomes simply a lesser evil than the all-powerful fiend that is the Calvinist God.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:48 PM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I do see your point. But again I have to say that I KNOW that my finite mind cannot grasp how free will and predetermination work out yet I do believe that somehow they do. We deal with a God who is transcendent and above time and space. I KNOW he is not unjust and I KNOW he is not unfair. I KNOW that only people who deserve to be in hell will be there.
(In other words I'm probably not exactly a classical five point Calvinist. I don't believe God created people specifically so they could be tossed into hell, for sure. I believe that if He tells us to choose, He's not just flapping his cosmic gums. )

The Bible says that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways, and that HIs foolishness is wiser than man's wisdom. My ten cent translation of that is-God knows stuff I don't. He understands stuff I don't.

Now if you can go out on the sidewalk, find an ant and teach it calculus, I will confess I should be able to answer every objection thrown up in this thread to God's goodness and salvation. All I need to know about God's love and compassion is what I see when I look at the Cross. He did that for us. God did that for US while we were HIS ENEMIES.
posted by konolia at 1:59 PM on August 28, 2007


I believe that if He tells us to choose, He's not just flapping his cosmic gums.

But you can't have both this belief and predestination. Either we choose or we don't. Even C.S. Lewis, who koselitz brought up earlier, recognised that logic still applies. (I'm referring to his bit of theodicy where he argues that God permits evil because an Earth without it is as logically impossible as a stone God can't lift.) Either we choose or we don't.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:38 PM on August 28, 2007


It strikes me, konolia, that you envision a God which is much less omnipotent and omniscient than the terms "omnipotent" and "omniscient" would imply.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2007


Logic is for humans.

What is logic for us might be rank nonsense to the God of the Universe.

And I would say that to C. S. Lewis's face too. *wink*
posted by konolia at 3:14 PM on August 28, 2007


you have created a conception of a God who created billions of human beings with the purpose of damning them to eternal agony. And you cannot claim that those so created "deserve" damnation- if God had wanted them to achieve Heaven, he would have created them in such a way as to grant them Heaven.

Totally. You've taken the concept of a "chosen people" and turned it into a "cursed and damned people".
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on August 28, 2007


also, and especially relevant in terms of Haggard and many others--the concept of everyone being a sinner in no way excuses bad behavior, lies or hypocrisy, and it's always trotted out as an excuse--It's not.
posted by amberglow at 4:19 PM on August 28, 2007


What is logic for us might be rank nonsense to the God of the Universe.

In which case there's no reason to believe that anything anyone does or says relates to that being. If logic falls sloppy dead in the ultimate reality of god, then it doesn't matter that the Bible's riddled with contradictions- logic doesn't matter! It doesn't matter if ideas about god are contradictory- logic doesn't matter! Of course, that does bring up the question of whether or not you can extrapolate any principles or ideas from the Bible- since logic doesn't work, we can't derive anything from the Bible, making worthless all commentaries.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:30 PM on August 28, 2007


Pope Guilty: "In which case there's no reason to believe that anything anyone does or says relates to that being. If logic falls sloppy dead in the ultimate reality of god, then it doesn't matter that the Bible's riddled with contradictions- logic doesn't matter! It doesn't matter if ideas about god are contradictory- logic doesn't matter! Of course, that does bring up the question of whether or not you can extrapolate any principles or ideas from the Bible- since logic doesn't work, we can't derive anything from the Bible, making worthless all commentaries."

Wow. You're finally starting to figure it out.

A world that doesn't necessarily make perfect sense, where you can't stand in front of everybody and prove to them that you're important because you're right, is kind of scary, isn't it?

Al-Ghazali taught at one point that every and all knowledge is simply miraculous; that there is no sensible cause for it, and that it had to be simply god-given. Maimonides, like most of the Rabbis, didn't believe that there was such a thing as "theology," because positive knowledge of God is impossible. You're talking, I think, from a bitterness which Spinoza purposefully inspired in his followers; Hume finally saw the end of this tunnel, but preferred to ignore it and play backgammon.

But I'm sure you knew what those people said; as you mentioned above:

"... I take... exception to your claim that [the bible] puzzles anyone- there is a massive corpus of scholarship upon the subject. Whatever you wish to know, you have only to ask the right person."

...from which statement I can tell that you're quite readily familiar with the expert scholars on the bible: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, RaMBMam, and all the rest. So I needn't quote them for you, or quote Calvin for you and point out that your interpretation (if it can be called that) of The Institutes of the Christian Religion is a fair sight rusty, or wonder what kind of conception of the greek language you can have to wrest the meanings out of the original of the Bible that you seem to be bringing forward. I don't even have to wonder what kind of philosophy program got you through when you clearly know so damned little about it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:13 PM on August 28, 2007


meh, I learned not to bother discussing much of anything with Calvinists a long time ago... They *say* they believe in predestination, but when it actually comes to fully accepting the ramifications of that they get huffy.

I will say that its awfully hard to take someone (ie: konolia) seriously when they first claim that the Bible is the ultimate (indeed, only) authority for matters spiritual, then make a claim about spiritual matters but steadfastly refuse to cite chapter and verse that backs up that claim.

Mind you, the Bible is vague enough and has so many outright contradictions that you can prove just about anything you want by citing chapter and verse. I'm sure there are plenty of Biblical references that could easily be taken to prove konolia's position, but apparently she doesn't know what they are. My friend who recently became a Universalist has dozens of Biblical references to back up his new position.

But I do have to ask konolia, if you're a Calvinist why are you even bothering to talk to us? I mean, you know that you can't lead us to heaven, or god, or anything else, because its all pre-destined. So what, exactly, is your point here?

I'm also going to have to call you out on the fact that you claimed not to hate humanity. You still haven't explained how you think that everyone (note: the pronoun "everyone" includes babies) deserves nothing *less* than hell, but simultaniously claim that this doesn't mean that you hate people. How, exactly, can you think that the entire human species deserves nothing *less* than agony for all eternity, and still claim that you don't hate people?
posted by sotonohito at 3:52 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not a hyper-calvinist. And you misunderstand my view of predestination.
In other words (and there is a theological term for this but I don't remember it) I believe there is a divine paradox between the fact Jesus died for the elect and the fact all are commanded to repent and believe the Gospel. God knows all things. If He didn't already know who had repented and believed He would not be all knowing. Yet somehow in all that He gives us a choice. And I personally cannot and will not believe that that choice is an illusion.

That might make me a bad Calvinist. But I have heard it described like this: Salvation is a door and over the door it says "Whosoever will." You go thru that door and look back at it, and over the door it says "Chosen from the foundation of the world. "

I believe BOTH. Which is why I say human logic can only go so far.
posted by konolia at 4:29 AM on August 29, 2007


So you're copping out in other words. Playing the "its a divine mystery and who are we to dare attempt to understand the mighty mind of God" card?

Still, good to know that you think that I deserve to scream in helpless agony, never to even know the release of death, because your god loves me and will torture me for ever and ever to prove just how much he loves me. Yup, that divine love sure is great....
posted by sotonohito at 10:18 AM on August 29, 2007



So you're copping out in other words. Playing the "its a divine mystery and who are we to dare attempt to understand the mighty mind of God" card?

Yup--it's totally nonsense to state that you know for sure we're all sinners and deserve hell, and at the same time to say God is unknowable. If we're all commanded to do anything, then God is knowable because he made/makes himself known. If we have beliefs or commandments or covenants or deeds or destinies or whatever that come from God or are because God said so, that means God is not unknowable and has never wanted to be unknowable, but has always communicated and made his wishes and demands clear and understandable. There's no point in telling us people anything if we're not to understand it. And that communication back and forth is also a sign of humanity's worth to God, which also means we're not damned.

God gave us brains and wills and choices--that's crystal clear--and it's consistent thruout the Bible. If he had wanted obedient robots and slaves, he would have made us brainless.
posted by amberglow at 12:03 PM on August 29, 2007


(if you believe God made us, that is, as opposed to us making him) : >
posted by amberglow at 12:04 PM on August 29, 2007



Pastor at halfway house says Haggard won't be moving in -- or ministering to the men there
posted by amberglow at 2:05 PM on August 29, 2007


sotohito: "Still, good to know that you think that I deserve to scream in helpless agony, never to even know the release of death, because your god loves me and will torture me for ever and ever to prove just how much he loves me. Yup, that divine love sure is great...."

Good grief, sotohito, you're being incredibly keening about this whole 'hell' thing. Let me say a few things briefly to try to put it into perspective for you.

1) You're taking this whole "hell" thing a damn sight more literally than the Bible ever does. Did you ever notice that?

2) I mentioned Dante earlier not to raise konolia's anti-Purgatory hackles (if that's what they were; sorry, konolia) but in reference to the fact that Dante, probably more than any other Christian thinker, has though through the problem you're talking about. Remember, for example, that the inscription he puts above the gate to hell declares that

LOVINGKINDNESS BUILT ME

...so konolia isn't alone in believing that a loving god might create hell, not only in accordance with his love, but even because of his love. I think that makes sense because moral choice is the gift which makes humans closest to divine, closer than the angels or than animals. But that might require more explaining to really explicate. At the very least, one would have to understand the value of the moral sense, and I have a feeling you don't really see much to value there. It would take a long time for me to convince you otherwise, I think, although I can try to explain if you want.

3) Part of your confusion comes from a mistake you're making about church doctrine. The doctrine of the church (well, at least the Orthodox church, and most of the Catholic world, though the protestants don't seem to have considered it, so far as I can recall) is this:

Humans are born with a sinful nature. We are born with a propensity to sin. We are not born sinners, and we are not born having sinned (as that would be somewhat contradictory). It is, therefore, conceivable that somewhere, sometime, someone is born, lives, and dies without sinning even once in their lives. For someone to have a long, full life and to pull that off though they have a sinful nature is entirely possible, in the same sense that it's entirely possible for someone to spend their entire lives walking solely on their hands even though our nature as humans is to have a propensity to walk on our feet. See the example the man who was righteous enough to earn heaven: Abraham.

Babies, therefore, do not go to hell. This makes sense; until they have a developed moral sense, and begin to make moral choices, it isn't even possible for them to sin.

(One notable Saint, Augustine, seemed to think otherwise, and, though generally a very pleasant and open-minded thinker, portrays babies as nearly festering in their own sin. That's one reason I'm not Catholic. However, I don't think many Catholics really share his belief.)

4) You're pretty worked up that you'd have to go to hell. First, how do you know that you're not already there? Second, why are you so dead certain that that would be so wrong? If there is a god, or even if there isn't, I don't exactly see why your definition of what is good and what isn't is the transcendent definition by which all things must be judged. Maybe it would be better for the whole of creation if you were in hell.

I mean that seriously. One could liken the world to a symphony; and it's silly for single instruments like you and I to act as though some discord within our individual parts does not serve the whole. Faithful people will of course choose to believe that it does. Are they so foolish to do so?

konolia: "I believe BOTH. Which is why I say human logic can only go so far."

I agree. The man who was the deepest spiritual teacher that I've met so far once remarked that "faith is the contemplation of apparent paradox."

Another way to say this would be to say that human logic isn't a solid, certain, eternal thing. It's a work-in-progress. And I believe that, to prophets, for example, God makes a good deal more sense than he does to me. But my "logic" hasn't gotten to that point. Nor have my righteousness and godliness, which I think have to do with how perceptive and theologically intelligent one is. I can only hope that these things come with the resurrection.
posted by koeselitz at 11:53 PM on August 29, 2007


koeselitz wrote "You're pretty worked up that you'd have to go to hell."

Yeah, something about eternal [1] agony just doesn't sound like fun to me. Can't imagine why, there must be something wrong with me, right? I mean I'm sure that you would just love an eternity of torture.

As I am an atheist and a materialist I'm of the opinion that all talk of existence after death is wishful thinking at its worst, so I'm not writing what I do because I have any fear of damnation, etc. I'm here because I like discussing theology. I will admit that I'm particularly interested in picking apart konolia's "I think all humankind deserves nothing *less* than an eternity of torture, but I don't hate humanity and I'll get upset if you say I do" line because it makes zero sense. From my POV its a classic example of cognative dissonance. You can't think someone deserves even a few years of torture without hating them. The level of sheer hatred of humanity required to believe that everyone deserves nothing less than eternal torture is, from my POV literally incomprehensable. I believe konolia when she says that she doesn't hate humanity, which is why I think she hasn't really thought through the whole eternal damnation idea. I got snarky in my last post, and it would have been better if I hadn't.

Remember, we aren't talking Purgatory here. This is not torture as punishment in any realistic sense of the word, because there's no actual point to it. Its sheer vindictiveness. If it ended, like Purgatory, you could make a claim that it was just, or justifiable, or motivated by some pure motive. But it doesn't, so you can't.

"You're taking this whole "hell" thing a damn sight more literally than the Bible ever does. Did you ever notice that?"

Well, no, actually. I'll concede that I'm focusing on it more than the Bible does, but the docterne of eternal damnation has pretty solid Biblical basis, Rev 20 for example. If you insist I'll dig up others. I'm also not taking it more literally than konolia does, which is the root of the whole discussion here.

I said it earlier, but it bears repeating. I think that the docterne of eternal damnation is one of the greatest weaknesses of Christianity. It turns people away from the religion. Speaking personally, I see that as a semi-good thing, I'm not a fan of religion in general and think that its absence wouldn't be harmful in the slightest, though I won't claim (as some atheists do) that it would solve any huge world problems. So on one level I suppose I'd be perfectly happy if konolia and all the other eternal damnation people preached that stuff to everyone.

"I think that makes sense because moral choice is the gift which makes humans closest to divine, closer than the angels or than animals. But that might require more explaining to really explicate."

An interesting thought, but rather anti-Biblical. Moral sense, you may recall, came from the original sin of Adam and Eve when they tasted the fruit that gave the knowledge of good and evil. Not a gift, but more of a theft really, and the one for which Augustine argued that babies would indeed be tortured in hell. And John Calvin as well, come to it.

"It would take a long time for me to convince you otherwise"

It would take a long time and some of that divine "love" expressed through waterboarding and electrodes and other unpleasantness to convince me that torture == love, because the entire idea is complete and utter bullshit. You wouldn't hesitate for an instant to call a person who tortured someone "out of love" a sick monster, and you'd be right [2]. And again, remember that the whole point of Christian hell is that its eternal, there's no end to it, there's no purpose to the torture but (apparently) to allow the people in heaven to say "ha, ha, sucker you should have listened to us" as they delight in the screams of the damned. I mean, seriously, why not just let those unfit for heaven to just fucking die? Why would a kind, loving, omnibenevolant, deity decide that since they weren't perfect and didn't take his (obscure, hidden, etc) forgivness to torture them without end? And here is where you play the "god moves in mysterious ways, but I'm sure its all good and loving" card.

"First, how do you know that you're not already there? [hell]"

1) Because its a mythic place with no real existence, just like Valhala.

2) Because in the context of our discussion (Christian hell), the place I'm in now doesn't match the Biblical discriptions. I'm in a comfy chair sitting peacefully in front of my computer, in an air conditioned house. No lake of fire, no demons, no cries of the damned, nope, I'm pretty sure I'm not in the Christian hell. I suppose it could be one of the Chinese hells (the Chinese have a lot of hells [3]), but it seems pretty unlikely.

"If there is a god, or even if there isn't, I don't exactly see why your definition of what is good and what isn't is the transcendent definition by which all things must be judged."

Christians claim that their definition is transcendent, why shouldn't I make the same claim? Actually, and tellingly IMO, Christianity doesn't have a definition of good and evil. They have several laundry lists of prohibited action, but never once does the Bible explain *why* a particular action is immoral, or abomination, etc. "Thou shall not kill" it says, but not a word on why its wrong. Which is a severe handicap, as it means that acts beyond those described in the laundry lists represent unknowns. Is cloning morally wrong? Don't look in the Bible, the answer isn't there.

Hoever, oddly enough, I haven't made a single claim of that nature in this thread. I have claimed that believing that everyone deserves to be tortured for all eternity requires hate, and I've claimed that the torturer in chief can't comit his attrocities out of love, but I've made no claims of absolute right and wrong.

"Maybe it would be better for the whole of creation if you were in hell."

Now that's a rather unkind thing to say, don't you think?

"Faithful people will of course choose to believe that it does. Are they so foolish to do so?"

Yes.

[1] Remember, that's *eternal*, as in, never ending, as in a few trillion years is nothing compared to eternal.

[2] Note, consensual BDSM relationships are the obvious exception here, nothing wrong with consensual pain games.

[3] Sorry, couldn't resist the Big Trouble in Little China reference with all this talk of hell.
posted by sotonohito at 4:26 AM on August 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Humans are born with a sinful nature. We are born with a propensity to sin.

This negative emphasis is dumb, and has harmful effects. We are born with multiple possibilities. We are born with many propensities to do many things. Some of those are good things and some of those are not.
posted by amberglow at 6:39 PM on August 30, 2007


What a vastly different world this would be if people would say "Humans are born with a loving nature. We are born with a propensity to treat others well and love them."
posted by amberglow at 6:46 PM on August 30, 2007


Overseers tell Haggard: Stop asking for money and get a job
posted by amberglow at 7:18 PM on August 30, 2007


What a vastly different world this would be if people would say "Humans are born with a loving nature. We are born with a propensity to treat others well and love them."

It would be "nice" but unfortunately it wouldn't be true.

I mean, come on Amberglow. If people were inherently good there never could have been a Holocaust. Too many people would have risen up and told Hitler to jump in the lake.

But we all know what really happened.
posted by konolia at 7:41 PM on August 30, 2007


I mean, come on Amberglow. If people were inherently good there never could have been a Holocaust. Too many people would have risen up and told Hitler to jump in the lake.

People are inherently good--study after study proves it. Altruism and sociability are natural and inherent. We're taught to hate and kill and discriminate. Babies sicken and die without love and touch and care.

The Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Killing Fields, world wars, genocides, bashing, murder, etc--none of that proves that we're inherently bad. It's exactly this focus on the bad and the negative and painting humanity as damned, and sinners that hurts all. If you're told you're a sinner, you'll sin. If you're told you're damned, why be good? If you're told you'll never be worthy (of Jesus or God or anything at all), you won't be.
posted by amberglow at 7:59 PM on August 30, 2007


And if i go too far, say that "People are inherently many things. People are inherently neutral. People are inherently both good and bad. etc "
posted by amberglow at 8:01 PM on August 30, 2007


And isn't focusing on sin and the bad in people exactly the opposite of what Jesus did? Isn't it exactly the opposite of how he lived and treated people?
posted by amberglow at 8:03 PM on August 30, 2007


And isn't focusing on sin and the bad in people exactly the opposite of what Jesus did? Isn't it exactly the opposite of how he lived and treated people?

“When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.

He began to teach them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.'

But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,

leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.

Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

‘You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

‘It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.'

But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

‘Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.'

But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God's throne;

nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.

Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one.

‘You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'

But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

‘You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
posted by ericb at 9:58 PM on August 30, 2007


amberglow: "The Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Killing Fields, world wars, genocides, bashing, murder, etc--none of that proves that we're inherently bad. It's exactly this focus on the bad and the negative and painting humanity as damned, and sinners that hurts all. If you're told you're a sinner, you'll sin. If you're told you're damned, why be good? If you're told you'll never be worthy (of Jesus or God or anything at all), you won't be."

Precisely, amberglow. That's exactly the point. We are capable of something better. Doesn't the possibility of perfection make sense? Doesn't it seem possible that we can be more than what we are, the things we do? I think it is. And I think "we're already just fine" is a bit of a cop-out.

The point of what I was saying was: shame about the state we were born in is silly; nearly every human being since the dawn of time has shared our lot. When we're petty, when we're dishonest, when we're cruel, when we're hateful or spiteful, it doesn't pay to sit around and be ashamed about it; the majority of people share our lot. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be better. And it's silly and stupid to claim that our cruelty, our hatred, and anger and pettiness and even our murderousness, are all just fine because we're human, and we're O.K. the way we are. We're capable of something better, and I think it's good to try for that while remembering that it doesn't pay to wallow in the evil.

More for sotohito later.
posted by koeselitz at 10:19 PM on August 30, 2007


amberglow: "What a vastly different world this would be if people would say "Humans are born with a loving nature. We are born with a propensity to treat others well and love them.""

Exactly. We are born with a propensity to love and a propensity to hate. What exactly is so very difficult to understand about the fact that everyone is capable both of cruelty and of kindness? Is that so impossible for you to comprehend? Is it so very strange to claim that almost everyone who's ever lived has had the ability to be hateful toward other human beings, and that the good among us have been able to conquer that through the love with which humans are endowed?
posted by koeselitz at 10:58 PM on August 30, 2007


I'll disagree with amberglow about the supposed "nature" of humans.

To argue that people are inherently evil is to ignore the vast majority of the human race.

To argue that people are inherently good is to ignore the vast majority of the human race.

People ain't inherently goor or evil, or much of anything else. People will tend to go along with whatever charismatic type they've recently been exposed to, and have a general unwillingness to expose themselves to ridicule and threat from their neighbors. So, when Hitler starts pushing the "lets be evil fuckwads" meme, a lot of people went along with it, and a lot of other people didn't speak out against it for fear of ridicule and threat from their neighbors.

But it goes the other way too, when St. Francis started pushing the "lets build a church and be paleo-hippies" meme, a lot of people went along with it and a lot of other people didn't speak out against it for fear of ridicule and threat from their neighbors.

People are people, which is to say imperfect, annoying, often dickweedous [1], frequently cowardly or lazy. Most people seem to be pretty mundane, but others can go pretty much any direction, including great evil or great good, or great [insert non-evil/good attribute here].

Of course, such a view is not exactly mainstream Christian, which is (among many more important reasons) why I'm not a Christian. The Bible is filled with verses about how terrible, horrible, and generally evil and vile, humans are, and that's what Christianity as a whole seems to emphisize.

I'll argue that a large part of why Christianity focuses so much on hellfire and brimstone, on man's [2] fallen nature, etc is because that shit fills pews and rakes in the money. If you can scare people enough they'll come to church and tithe...

koeselitz I should have said earlier, but better late than never. I find C.S. Lewis' theology vastly more palitable than that of konolia, or most other Christians. His Lion beats the Bible's Lamb any day. Its one of the great ironies that in his Appologist attempt to present a Christian alogory, he came up with something better than the original by a long shot. But although is theology is nice it isn't mainstream, nor does it have much to do with my disagreement with konolia's pseudo-Calvinism.

[1] Pronounced "dik - wee - jous", and obvously of or pertaining to someone or something that has the attributes of a dickweed. My sister coined that word, and I've always thought it was a good one.

[2] Gotta love the inherent mysogny in our language, no?
posted by sotonohito at 4:30 AM on August 31, 2007


Thanks for your reply, sotohito.

The thing about hell that I still feel like you're not understanding is that hell is intended as a justice balance.

See, when people look around them, the world is horrifyingly unjust. The awful people who cruelly rape and kill get away with it, while the innocent are rendered poor and beaten and left for dead. That's the way the world works. Not only that, but in the microcosm, we are cruel, we are often hateful toward others, and none of it is take into account.

Naturally, if a person believe that the world is ruled by a god, and that that ruling god is just, then that person necessarily believes that there is some sort of place like heaven or hell where that justice is made real. I appreciate that justice isn't really that important to you, but please understand, there are those of us who would rather believe that Hitler pays back for his crimes, and that he suffers for them, than that he simply gets away with them, and that the unjust are rewarded for their cruelty.

As an atheist, I think you have to eschew the concepts of justice and moral good, as they're fairly central universe-controlling ideas which necessitate God or at least some kind of ruling force.
posted by koeselitz at 7:30 AM on August 31, 2007


Precisely, amberglow. That's exactly the point. We are capable of something better. Doesn't the possibility of perfection make sense? Doesn't it seem possible that we can be more than what we are, the things we do? I think it is. And I think "we're already just fine" is a bit of a cop-out.

That's not what konolia says. Being capable of something better is not the same as saying we're all sinners. Being capable of something better doesn't require we all start at a disadvantage. Believing "we're already just fine" or "we're capable of both good and evil" is not the same as "we are all deserving of hell and damnation".

Perfection has nothing to do with what i'm talking about anyway. Starting off without a cloud and stigma and pejorative label is what i'm talking about.
posted by amberglow at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2007


If people were inherently good there never could have been a Holocaust. Too many people would have risen up and told Hitler to jump in the lake.

Its well known that only a small amount of people knew about the mass killings of jews. To the populace they were just being put in camps. Hitler and his people kept this a secret because of exactly the reaction you descibe.

Funny you should evn mention this as Hitler as well as many Nazis considered themselves very religious and good christians. You'll find that natural morality works out pretty well, unless its subverted by idoctrinization of idealism or religion.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:04 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


You'll find that natural morality works out pretty well, unless its subverted by idoctrinization of idealism or religion.

Yup.

To quote Anne Frank: In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2007


and relevant to Haggard especially and others: Hannah Arendt: What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
posted by amberglow at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2007


one more (i'm on a roll, quotewise)--Anne Frank again: "Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"
posted by amberglow at 2:36 PM on August 31, 2007


See, when people look around them, the world is horrifyingly unjust. The awful people who cruelly rape and kill get away with it, while the innocent are rendered poor and beaten and left for dead. That's the way the world works. Not only that, but in the microcosm, we are cruel, we are often hateful toward others, and none of it is take into account.

Naturally, if a person believe that the world is ruled by a god, and that that ruling god is just, then that person necessarily believes that there is some sort of place like heaven or hell where that justice is made real.


So this world -- and the next -- are seen thru judging and condemning eyes, and with hopes that someone else, later, will fix the unjust world we're in today? That ensures perpetuation of unjust stuff and awful people continuing and thriving. It sucks, and it wholly removes our own immediate power and vital responsibility to act against those people, and to do good and try to create a better place here and now so the evil doesn't always go on.
posted by amberglow at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2007


damn dirty ape: "Its well known that only a small amount of people knew about the mass killings of jews. To the populace they were just being put in camps. Hitler and his people kept this a secret because of exactly the reaction you descibe."

Oh, certainly. Which is why Jews were already leaving Germany in 1933, right? The notion that anyone in Germany didn't know about this is relatively false-- the Germans were willing executioners, and this has been documented and confirmed many times. Even if it were conceivable that an entire nation could be convinced that an entire race was simply being interned without being killed, it's difficult to imagine that such an incredibly involved operation as genocide could be kept secret. As the well-documented wikipedia article has it:

Every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the mass murder, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal nation."

If the vast extent of the extermination wasn't known, it was certainly well-known that genocide was the intention of the so-called Nazi party.

"Funny you should even mention this as Hitler as well as many Nazis considered themselves very religious and good christians. You'll find that natural morality works out pretty well, unless its subverted by idoctrinization of idealism or religion."

Here's another mistake. So-called Nazism was a relatively secular affair; the intelligentsia of Germany at the time, far from being Christian, seems to have felt that they were beyond religion, or at least "organized religion." Or maybe you're just not familiar with the predilections of Wagner.

I don't know how much this bears on the questions at hand, but mistakes should be corrected on subjects so important.
posted by koeselitz at 7:03 PM on August 31, 2007


So-called Nazism was a relatively secular affair; the intelligentsia of Germany at the time, far from being Christian, seems to have felt that they were beyond religion, or at least "organized religion."
The bigshots were non-Christian, but everyone under them and the general population were certainly Christian, and the Nazis enlisted the churches to help them (they did so willingly, by the way, for the vast vast majority of churches and priests, etc--even Catholics and Rome).
posted by amberglow at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2007


ADL-- ... Three main factors shaped the behavior of the Christian Churches during the Nazi reign of terror in Germany and abroad. The first was the theological and doctrinal anti-Judaism that existed in parts of the Christian tradition. (Long before 1933, the anti-Judaism that existed within the Churches -- ranging from latent prejudice to the virulent diatribes of people like Martin Luther -- lent legitimacy to the racial anti-Semitism that emerged in the late nineteenth century.) The second factor was the Churches' historical role in creating "Christendom" -- the Western European culture that, since the era of the Roman emperor Constantine, had been explicitly and deliberately "Christian." The Churches' advocacy of a "Christian culture" led to a "sacralization of cultural identity" (as the theologian Miroslav Volf puts it), in which dominant, positive values were seen as "Christian" ones, while developments viewed negatively (such as secularism and Marxism) were attributed to "Jewish" influences. Moreover, particularly in the German Evangelical Church (the largest Protestant Church in Germany), the allegiance to the concept of Christendom was linked to a strong nationalism, symbolized by German Protestantism's "Throne and Altar" alliance with state authority. The third factor was the Churches' understanding of their institutional role. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:10 PM on August 31, 2007


and from there: ... More recently, however, the Christian Churches have been far more specific -- recognizing that they not only failed to resist Nazism, but actually helped prepare the way for the mass destruction of Europe's Jews through centuries of proselytization, attacks on Judaism, and tacit or overt support for pogroms and other anti-Jewish violence. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on August 31, 2007


The impetus behind so-called Nazism wasn't Christian. You seem to agree with me. Do you have any further point, amberglow?
posted by koeselitz at 8:34 PM on August 31, 2007


that "good Christians" overwhelmingly supported and worked toward the Nazi's ends--that's the point.

This is very very relevant too, given the turn this conversation has taken: Guess Who's "Illegal" Now? -- ... Asserting that non-fundamentalists are "illegal aliens" in their own country -- the one that our own ancestors fought, paid taxes, and worked all their lives to build; or risked everything to get to and start over in -- is a potent statement of that exact kind of purity crusade thinking. It's the same libel Nazis told the Germans about their native Jews: We are something other, something less than, something not-American (and thus potentially treasonous), and perhaps not even quite human. We are not like the good volk of the heartland; we are decadent urban intellectuals who seek to corrupt all that is good. Our very presence desecrates the pure soul of the nation. We have been ejected, in their minds, from the protection of American law and the community of American citizens.

For that reason, we don't belong here; and this country does not belong to us. And, underlying it all, there's the hint of a threat that as soon as the theocrats consolidate their grip on power and finish dismantling those pesky rights (they're oh, so close now), they will be fully justified in putting us behind barbed wire, removing us from "their" country by force, or simply dispatching us on sight like the vermin we are.

To put it bluntly: Fuiten's little toss-off statement is giving his fellow-believers a fresh rationalization -- pre-loaded with more connotations that I can reasonably list here -- for a cleansing campaign of eliminationism targeting anyone who doesn't share their beliefs.

As I've been noting, this kind of remark is hardly an isolated incident. If they're willing to talk like this on national TV, you know that whatever they're saying in private among themselves is far, far worse. This is a meme that's already covering the countryside -- softening the ground for those Battle Cry/OSU - trained Christian soldiers, who are actively preparing themselves to take back the country for God, and transform our democracy into a theocratic kingdom by any means necessary.

He said it. Right out loud on CNN, without even trying to make it sound PC. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:49 PM on August 31, 2007


And i have to point out too--the same relationship Nazi leadership had with religion and the religious in Germany is the relationship the GOP has with Christians here--they don't believe, but they use them for their own purposes and rile them up and encourage their prejudices.
posted by amberglow at 8:52 PM on August 31, 2007


koeselitz I'm going to assume that you are speaking from ignorance, that you either don't know any atheists or if you do you have never discussed anything of significance with them, rather than that you are making a deliberate attempt to be as offensive as possible. But I must start by explaining that your comments re: atheism and justice are offensive in the extreme, and that you would be well advised not to continue stating that atheists general, and me particular, eschew the concepts of justice and moral good, or don't care about justice, unless your purpose is to be offensive.

Atheism is simply an absence of belief in all gods. The joke is that everyone is an atheist, we just go one god further. Meaning that you, for example, are an atheist with regards to Zeus, and Thor, and Vishnu, etc. We don't "hate God", we don't "deny God", etc. We think about your god in the same way that you think about Zeus. Atheism is not, at least for all the atheists I know, an active DIS-belief in any god, but rather a simple absence of active belief.

Atheism does not require that one abandon the concepts of justice, or good, or even morality. I won't argue that all atheists embrace those concepts, but neither do all theists; people are various. However, and that said, the vast majority of atheists do embrace those concepts, and consider justice especially important.

You must understand that justice is not a concept inherently tied to god-belief. In fact one of my chief objections to the religious concept of hell [1] is its very injustice.

You seem, from your argument that atheism must involve a rejection of justice, good, and moral behavior, to have fallen fully into the theistic trap of believing that there is no reason to be good but threat of punishment from above, and no way to tell what is good but the arbitrary dictates of an ultimate authority. Neither is the case.

In fact, this brings me back to a point I briefly touched on earlier. Christianity has no *system* of morality, it has only a list of specific forbidden actions, and a smaller list of specific mandated actions. But there is no method described in the Bible for determining if a new thing is good, bad, or neutral. Take cloning as my favorite example, some Christians have made the claim that cloning is evil (or immoral, or wrong). The thing is that they cannot produce any Biblical support for that claim, despite the fact that they claim that all knowledge on such matters must be Biblical in origin. Christianity is hardly alone in this, most major world religions suffer from the same weakness. Morality in the specific is defined in numbing detail, but a system by which new things can be judged as moral or immoral is completely absent.

If you wish I will derail further and delve into atheistic justifications for moral behavior, justice, etc. Or you can simply accept that we are, surprise, humans who have a sense of decency and justice.

On to hell.

In the second place, I must observe that your own views on hell appear to be rather outside mainstream Christianity. You've been influenced by Appologetics, and thats good from the standpoint of you personally, but it appears to have limited your understanding of what most Christian churches and thinkers preach. Most Christians probably have views similar to your own. According to a Newsweek poll 79% of Americans agreed that a good person not of their faith can enter heaven. But that isn't what the theologians teach. Catholocism is an exception, at least following Vatican II, though even then the Church still condemns me to hell, as according to its terms one must "sincerely seek God" to get the non-Catholic admission to heaven.

The first problem with hell and justice is that hell represents infinate punishment for finite offenses. Even Hitler, or Torqmada, or Pol Pot, etc, comitted finite crimes, and to argue that they should be punished infinitely for those finite crimes is a violation of the very concept of justice. For people lower on the evil scale the infinite punishment inherent in the hell concept becomes even more obscenely unjust. Its an inherent problem with the idea that a) one must be perfect (or get a special exemption) to enter heaven, and b) the only other possible post-mortum destination is hell. Self evidently no one is perfect, which leads us right back to babies in hell.

The second problem with hell is that it isn't just used as a justice providing device, but is also used as conversion tool. "Believe in my religion, go to my church, or else", it essentially turns religion into some sort of Mafia type shakedown. Our current president, for example, is on the record as saying that only people of his particular religion will escape eternal torture. That, in other words, the only crime that God and Jesus won't forgive is believing something other than what George W. Bush believes, for that you get eternal torture, but everything else can be forgiven. Justice, you may notice, has pretty much been flushed down the toilet here.

This one is the root of my disagreement with konolia. Her belief system requires me to accept that a Mohawk tribesman who lived a pretty good life and died of natural causes in 1491 is being tortured for all time, by a loving god, and that this is good, just, proper, and moreover that I must love, with all my heart, the very being who is torturing the poor bastard for the crime of being physically unable to recieve the Gospel. It also requires her to believe that, and as I think she's a pretty decent person, I kinda doubt that she can really do it, which explains her evasiveness in this thread.

The third problem with hell is the unintended consiquence of a belief in hell as a form of justice. If a person believes that all crimes and all criminials, even (perhaps especially) thoe not caught by secular authorities will ultimately be answerable to a supernatural authority it can result in a reduction in the drive to stop injustice. If one believes that God will ultimately punish the guilty it can provide an excuse for a lazy, or simply frightened, person to avoid their responsibility to see jutice in this life.

I also have a completely off topic question. Why "so-called" in front of Nazi? That was the standard abbreviation of National Socalist, and to the best of my knowledge it was widely, maybe even universally, used by the member of that political movement.



[1] For the purposes of this disucssion I'm limiting my use of "hell" to refer to the Christian concept of hell as a place of eternal damnation. Other religions (Buddhism notably) involve a temporary hell, which I also object to on moral grounds, but is outside the realm of the current discussio.
posted by sotonohito at 5:04 AM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The third problem with hell is the unintended consiquence of a belief in hell as a form of justice. If a person believes that all crimes and all criminials, even (perhaps especially) thoe not caught by secular authorities will ultimately be answerable to a supernatural authority it can result in a reduction in the drive to stop injustice. If one believes that God will ultimately punish the guilty it can provide an excuse for a lazy, or simply frightened, person to avoid their responsibility to see jutice in this life.

Yup--and it does more than just encourage passivity in the face of injustice and evil--it positively enables and strengthens those doing evil. It aids in the commission of wrongdoing.
posted by amberglow at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2007


"to avoid their responsibility to see jutice in this life."

We have a responsibility to see justice in this life? Sez who? And whose justice? Those lynchers down south probably thought they were seeing justice no?
posted by vronsky at 12:53 PM on September 1, 2007


vronsky I'd like to live in a world with justice, therefore I have a responsibility to do what I can to bring about justice. Sometimes thats as easy as living in and supporting a nation which is just, other times its damn hard. I would venture to guess that most people want to live in a just society, so therefore I assert that people have a responsibility to help bring about justice.

Like all big concepts, justice is open to definitional arguments. Some would argue that vengence and justice are synonyms, or at least not opposing concepts. As for the lynch mobs of the former Confederacy I will agree its possible that they considered their actions to be justice. I think that mostly they didn't need to come up with such complex justifications, the reality that they were maintaining the status quo of racial inequity was probably all the excuse they needed. They thought that keeping blacks "in their place" was a good thing, so why bother looking for more complex justifications for murder than that?

I'll argue that justice cannot be dispensed by mobs or individuals, not that an offical court guarantees justice by any means, but I would argue that an offical court is a minimum condition for something to even be considered as justice. Vigilanteism is not bad by definition, it can be argued that under certain circumstances its necessary; but I'd take even a kangaroo court over a vigilante or a group of 'em.

More generally, and back to the subject of hell, I think that the whole concept of hell as justice is wishful thinking at its worst. It takes away the urgency, the drive, for justice in the real world by providing a false hope for justice after death. Hitler escaped justice, its a shame, I wish it were otherwise but it isn't and fantisizing about Hitler getting his comeuppance in hell doesn't accomplish anything.
posted by sotonohito at 3:00 PM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well I am just a monkey with a haircut soto. No soul, just chemical reactions, and the burning desire to keep my genetic line alive, so I don't care if you want justice or think it is a good idea. Fuck your idea of what this world should be. Make me care. I care about feeding myself, mating with the best females and protecting my land and I reject you trying to force some conceptual bullshit such as justice on me.
posted by vronsky at 3:53 PM on September 1, 2007


vronsky Heh. If that were true you wouldn't be sitting in a comfortable chair using a computer. Souls and other superstitions aren't required to have greater purpose in life than passing on your genes.

If a person wants the good stuff in life, stuff like electricity, computers, antibiotics, etc, they can't get it without society. No society and there aren't any roads, or large varieties of food, or cheerleader porn, or whatever. You've obviously made your choice and its self-evidently not the choice you described above; otherwise we wouldn't be able to have this discussion, QED.

Since you have chosen to have the good stuff, that inevitably and unavoidably comes with a society attached. Therefore the question is: would you like the society you must have to be a just society or an unjust society?

The "OMG, if we don't believe in souls/spirits/gods/voodoo/whatever superstitious crap I like life won't have a point and we might as well just give up" line is tired and long debunked kimosabe. If you want to believe in such stuff don't let me stop you. But don't claim that absent such superstitions life is a meaningless shithole devoid of all value or meaning beyond breeding, because it just plain isn't true.

Now, absent all the superstitions it is true we can't claim that there is an outside force giving life meaning, which means we have to invent our own meaning. As in so many areas atheism is essentially saying that you'll have to take responsibility for yourself instead of laying it all on some mythic father figure in the sky. If you can't handle that, by all means keep believing in the father figure in the sky, I'm certainly not going to tell you that you aren't allowed to do that. I *will* argue with you when you claim that without that sort of belief life sucks.
posted by sotonohito at 4:09 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Have none of you people heard of Godwin's law?
posted by konolia at 6:57 PM on September 2, 2007


Actually, simply mentioning Hitler and Nazis has diddily to do with Goodwin's Law. Its making a comparison between X and Hitler and/or Nazis that Goodwin was talking about. We were merely speculating on Hitler vs. justic and hell.

Also, Goodwin's Law simply says that any net discussion will eventually involve such a comparison, others later added stuff like "and the first person to do so loses".

The fact is that Hitler and his minions had a significant impact on modern history so its perfectly understandable that they'd be mentioned in talks involving philosophy and history. As long as no one here is calling other people in the discussion Nazis, its no big thing.

BTW: Still waiting on your Biblical citation for infant salvation, and what you think the cut off age for this get out of hell free card is, and your Biblical citation for that. Either that or an admission that you *don't* actually think the Bible is the ultimate (indeed, only) authority on such matters.
posted by sotonohito at 7:24 PM on September 2, 2007


"when you claim that without that sort of belief life sucks."

and where did I claim this? Competing for females and gathering wealth to protect my bloodline is the most natural thing in the world. And nothing about it sucks. I was born to compete with you. I build that wealth to pay the doctors to invent the antibiotics I need to keep me and my genetic line healthy. I buy guns to keep people like you from getting mine. It is... dare I say it... almost Darwinian. Why are you trying to overlay your mystical bullshit philosophical and governmental wishful thinking on top of this? It is almost... religious.

And you must not read much history cuz this concept of justice is a myth. Might makes right and always has. Or don't you read the papers?
posted by vronsky at 7:58 PM on September 2, 2007


And I love Hitler so godwin away. I hate the jews because they were building up too much wealth and would soon be polluting my bloodline. (and geez, talk about your religios crackpots) Slaughter 'em by the millions and steal their wealth because they are just skin bags full of chemicals so what's the difference? The best way to win is to demolish the competition. I keep the blacks down by pumping drugs into their communities. Homosexuals don't bother me because they don't compete for my females, so I keep some around to decorate my house and sing show tunes to me.

Look dude, I am fitter than you and I will survive... at all costs.
posted by vronsky at 8:18 PM on September 2, 2007


"would you like the society you must have to be a just society or an unjust society?'

definitely unjust. Look dum dum, I am a product of superior breeding, people of lesser genetic lines are allowable as long as they don't gather too much power or try to mix their inferior genetics with mine or my kinship group. What you don't understand is that I am a genetic machine, and these genes are fucking selfish. You seem to be laboring under the imbecilic idea that men are created equal or something.The lower classes and the blighted races have their place in the world, which is to serve me. I even invented a "religion" for these animals - xtianity. They take to it like is an opiate or something, you should see it. I promise them pie in the sky bullshit and they just eat it up, like sheep almost, but I have found that it is the best way to keep them in line. Stupid sheep.
posted by vronsky at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2007


vronsky meh, you're just parroting strawathiest pseudo-social darwinist crap that I'm pretty sure you don't actually believe. I'm not interested in talking philosophy with someone who isn't arguing in good faith. In other words, you are trolling, and its obnoxious. So I'm done with you here.
posted by sotonohito at 4:10 AM on September 3, 2007


Bullshit soto, you just refuse to let the scales fall from your eyes and see the world and history in purely Darwinist terms. You are frightened that you and your genetic pool can't compete and will soon be extinct. I know you haven't read many books, but surely you have seen the nature channel. So you know I am right.

And talk about bad faith. You will harangue a grandmother for days and days to defend the tiniest points of her faith, acting smugly superior all the while but run away crying as soon as someone gives you a taste of your own medicine. You cannot compete intellectually or physically, making you a loser and a bully. And a psuedo darwinist atheist of the lowest kind.
posted by vronsky at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2007


vronsky, in purely Darwinist terms, people are not at all the best suited to survive--it's only society, social cooperation, and the development of things that benefit others (i.e., non-selfish things) that have allowed any of us to survive this far.

Viruses and bacteria and much much simpler living things are by far the best suited to survive and will survive post-humanity (along with other things).
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2007


Also, we're still not suited to our environments even after all these years of existence. Our technological advances have prevented us from having to adapt to them, which also knocks us way down in Darwin's terms.
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on September 3, 2007


That is just not true amberglow. Human males are alpha predators, perfectly suited to dominate their environment, and cooperation is only important within kinship groups. The rest is competiton for resources.
posted by vronsky at 2:07 PM on September 3, 2007


We're predators, but we're also prey--we're not naturally alpha predators at all. Many animals are faster and more savage, and more violent. We only exist today because we cooperated with each other--it's only as a group that we're excellent predators.
posted by amberglow at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2007


in terms of being suited for our environments, we suck. Sharks are alpha predators--we're not. Grizzlies are too--we're not.
posted by amberglow at 2:41 PM on September 3, 2007


considers amberglow's post while stirring bowl of sharkfin soup and gnawing huge slab of bear ribs.

Now who is being self delusional amberglow. At least konolia has the courage of her convictions. Homo sapien male's opposable thumbs, larger brain and tool making skills make him the ultim ate alpha predator. You may need the crutch of thinking we are meek little mammals but to do so ignores the huge preponderance of scientific study, the entire recorded history of mankind and simple common sense.
posted by vronsky at 3:38 PM on September 3, 2007


vronsky Turn the snark down a few notches please, it's making your actual point impossible for me to find.

Your first comment in this thread was a completely out of the blue reference to Sam Harris, and a swipe at me. Then later you jumped in with a rather outraged post when I stated that people had a responsibility to produce justice. I'm sure you have a point, but it is too burried in snark, snide comments, and sarcasm for my limited intellect to dig up. Use small, simple, words and I'll reply to the best of my ability.

As for konolia, yup, she's a grandmother, and what has that to do with anything? It means she's most likely older than me and therefore ought to have had more experience arguing her case. If anything I could complain that she's taking advantage of my youth and inexperience.

Further, its hardly the tiniest points of her faith. The belief in eternal damnation is a pretty big religious point, one central to several major religions and Christian sects, including konolia's as she stated herself.

As for amberglow, he's mostly right. H. Sapiens was not, back prior to the stone knives and bearskin days, one of the top preditors. The idea of humans as evolved from "killer apes" is long discarded. We were hardly a meek little prey species, true 'nuff, but we never filled the same ecological niche as bears or sharks. If we had we probably wouldn't have evolved intelligence. Sharks, as top preditors, are a satisfied species, they've existed without major change for hundreds of millions of years.

I do think that amberglow has too rosy a picture of humanity, but its more realistic than the doom and gloom from the salvationists or social darwinists by a long shot.
posted by sotonohito at 4:46 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Forgot to add re humans and preditor status: naturally, thanks to our socially developed technology today we've pretty much outgrown the whole preditor/prey concept, humans "competing" with any other species is a joke, we win, it isn't even competition, we just win, often without even realizing that we did. But that's technology and society, not biology. Our genes didn't build gun and whatnot.
posted by sotonohito at 5:02 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Further, its hardly the tiniest points of her faith. The belief in eternal damnation is a pretty big religious point"

but she did answer it to the best of her ability quoting christ as saying "for unto these belong the kingdom of heaven" - so how you get god loves to torture babies eternally from that escapes me. Unless you are just being wilfully ignorant.

and I take it that you reject social darwinism but embrace biological darwinism.


Our genes certainly did build guns and whatnot as you so elegantly put it. Did you think they just dropped fully formed from heaven or something?

You guys act like evolution is something that happened millions of years ago just so you could make fun of fundamentalist christians. Darwinism explains life in its totality dude, up to this very second and it encompasses everything.

But to your other point about justice, please explain it to me. seriously. Why do people have a "responsibility to produce justice". I am all ears.
posted by vronsky at 6:05 PM on September 3, 2007


I am just some randomly mutated chemical accident, who sits atop the food chain on a speck of dirt in an infinite universe of nothing. Some rocks and some gas and some fires, but overwhelmingly NOTHING. A black void that is completely devoid of meaning or purpose. Were I to kill 1 or ten billion it would mean absolutely nothing. Love is just a chemical reaction to compel you to pass on your genetic material. Wonder is just a trick of the mind becaue our species got a tiny bit more grey matter than some others. Justice is just a way to protect my kinship group and the wealth which they have accumulated. Art is just a courtship display, like the song of a bird, or a baboon's ass.
Allthe endeavors of mankind are just an attempt to build wealth to attract females to copulate with. And it is all meaningless, futile and without purpose other than what can be explained in strict Darwinian terms.
posted by vronsky at 6:42 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


vronsky Its the whole "meaningless, futile and without purpose" bit that makes me suspect that you are trolling rather than being sincere....

However, on the off chance that you are, let me point out why your reasoning is seriously flawed.

You wrote "definitely unjust. Look dum dum, I am a product of superior breeding, people of lesser genetic lines are allowable as long as they don't gather too much power or try to mix their inferior genetics with mine or my kinship group."

This indicates that you've heard about evolution and genes, but don't actually understand it. The book "The Selfish Gene", by the much reviled Richard Dawkins, is a very good, entry level, text on evolution as it actually functions rather than as most people mistakenly believe it functions. If you would actually like to learn about evolution give it a shot.

As for your statement, and the rationalle for a just society, I'll answer briefly.

Intuatively it seems that, from our own standpoints, the ideal society is one which is as massively unjust in our favor as possible. The problem is that intuition is often wrong, especially when it comes to evolution, biology, and sociology.

The fact is that history shows us that producing an unjust society does not work out well for anyone, including the people who theoretically benefit from its unjust nature. Look at the Romanovs, or the Burbons, or the Dzhugashvilis, the Hussains, etc, etc, etc.

An unjust society tends to experience sudden and unpredictable shifts which can leave the people at the top dead or reduced to abject poverty and slavery. Those near the top live even more precariously as they are threatened by the resentful masses below them, and the fearful few above them. There are a few surviving royal families which managed, more through sheer luck than anything else, to achieve what appears to be a stable parisitic position. These few are notable as exceptions, in the main the folks who start out benefitting from an unjust society most often wind up dead, sometimes even including their entire genetic line.

As for your nonsense about "lesser genetic lines [... not ...] mix their inferior genetics with mine or my kinship group" it shows a complete lack of even a layman's understanding of genetics. No gene pool can survive on its own, the inevitable inbreeding of attempts to do so will reinforce undesireable traits and result in people like Prince Charles.

You seem to be laboring under the mispprehension that "competition" == "absolute, ubridled, full on, no holds barred, competition". Again this seems intuitively to be a successful strategy, but in actuality it doesn't work. No animal species exhibits the sort of absolute competition you describe, and that is because those species that tried it wound up extinct. Again, try reading "The Selfish Gene", Dawkins spends several chapters close to the beginning of the book exploring why this is.

Further, re: justice, I will argue that its self evident you want the good stuff [1], as you are conducting this argument via a computer and all the infrastructure that implies. It also goes with the "I'm selfish" argument you are putting forth, if you are selfish then that implicitly means you want the good stuff.

People who invent new good stuff, or find ways to make old good stuff better, appear unpredictably. They are born of smart parents, stupid parents, rich parents, poor parents, parents with high social status, parents with low social statues, etc. As we saw above the desire for an unjust society is ultimately bad for you due to the fact that you can't guarantee it will be unjust in your favor. It's also bad for you in that the more unjust a society is the less good stuff it produces, both in terms of quanity and variety. That means, naturally, that there's less good stuff for *you*.

A just society provides equal (or closer to equal than an unjust society will) opportunities for all people, which means that when a person who is able to produce better stuff is born that person will have the opportunity to produce better stuff. In an unjust society only the small group benefitting from the injustice has a chance to produce people who make better stuff, and having a smaller pool of potential better-stuff-making-people means that the society will produce less better stuff.

Which is why, for example, the Islamist society that is currently dominant in the Middle East will never be able to match the good stuff produced by more sexually equal societies: fully 50% (ie: women) of their potential inventors of good stuff are stifled and turned into near slaves.

Similarly, your line about it meaning nothing if you kill a few million people is also foolish. If nothing else it will disrupt society, interrupting your flow of good stuff.

I could go on, but I think that'll do for a start.

[1] "Good stuff" in this case meaning tech toys, indoor plumbing, internet porn, a grocery store filled with delicious food of great variety, and anything else that people like.
posted by sotonohito at 10:59 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I should also add that I disagree completely with your conclusions re: evolution, genetics, and meaning. However, I think I've demonstrated that even if we take your (false) premises at face value I can still demonstrate a cause for justice, etc.
posted by sotonohito at 12:46 PM on September 5, 2007


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