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Steven Queen
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 12:41pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Sorry Mark (and JB), I am not pretending to misunderstand the contradiction --- I am truly confused by the question.

As I understand it, free will is the right to chose to not obey the divine plan and go your own way.  Lucifer did this and he now reigns in Hell, having been banished from Heaven.  That's why Pride is the cardinal sin.

With regards to the New Testament (I have not read the Old yet), Hell is presented as our default destination without salvation---not technically a punishment.  

Not a ton is said about it (eternal fire, gnashing of teeth, ...), and  I was initially surprised to learn that most popular notions of Hell come from "fan fiction", e.g. Dante and Milton.

Am I on point?

I think most complaints against Judaeo-Christian beliefs is that folks think it's a terrible "system" at face value.  Since they can imagine something akin to Heaven-on-Earth/Everyone-Wins, then why wouldn't an all-powerful, loving god have made our lives an automatic paradise?  Why even allow man the capacity to sin?  What is the point of Free Will? Why is there evil?  Why have life be so difficult?  Most would much prefer "Easy Mode", if you please.

Truthfully, those questions are beyond me.  As Tolkien would say, I am not one of "the Wise".

All I can say by analogy is that, as a parent, there is something incredible when you send your child out into the wild and wicked world and he or she chooses to return "home" in some sense.  Were that a programmable drone, and not a human being, the return would be unspectacular.  The choice is everything.

As an aerospace engineer, I struggle daily with trying to figure out how pieces of the physical world interact and how to design systems that are robust to uncertainty while operating in the distant vacuum of space.  I wrestle with my ignorance and limited intellectually capacity constantly.  I can say with certainty, I am not up to the task of designing a better world for us all.  I know my limits.  All of my "tweaks" would be stupid, self-serving, and petty.   You can all be quite thankful that running the Universe not on my shoulders.  I think we all lack the capacity to see "The Big PIcture" (if you accept there is one).  

The workings of the world can be so overwhelming at times---so beyond our kin---that it is very tempting to decide it's "completely random".  That's ultimately your choice.


Edited by Steven Queen on 09 September 2023 at 12:49pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 1:21pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

With regards to the New Testament (I have not read the Old yet), Hell is presented as our default destination without salvation---not technically a punishment.

Not a ton is said about it (eternal fire, gnashing of teeth, ...), and I was initially surprised to learn that most popular notions of Hell come from "fan fiction", e.g. Dante and Milton.

Am I on point?

•••

In a word, no.

Jesus gives us our first description of Hell, where the fire is never quenched and the worm* sleeps not. It’s hard to spin those words into something other than eternal punishment.

______

* maggots

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Steven Queen
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 1:53pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

If your point is that "it's not a fair choice" (i.e. there's no free will) because you are punished if you don't choose the proper answer, I have no quick retort.  I will think about it some more though.

What should then be the alternative to not wanting to "join in"?  Would a non-descriptive oblivion seem a "fairer" alternative? Is so, why?

Is the point of the "Free Will vs Hell" incompatibility a demonstration of the logical inconsistency in Christian doctrine---one that is commonly used as proof that it's all a man-made fabrication? Or is it bigger than that: i.e. if there is Free Will there can be no God. Q.E.D.

To circle back,
 JB wrote:
Pretty shoddy gods who create us as beings capable of committing crimes even if we believe in them and their eternal punishments.
Is what I originally responded with "free will is the standard answer".  So I think the latter my be your belief.  In defense of the "shoddy [Christian] god", there's a fairly simple "out" that is also offered up, and always available.  

Perhaps the whole point of human Earthly existence is so that we can individually realize we are not perfect (i.e. nobody get 100% on the test) and go into the "next stage" (whatever that may be) with true humility.


Edited by Steven Queen on 09 September 2023 at 2:10pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 2:10pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

In defense of the "shoddy [Christian] god", there's a fairly simple "out" that is also offered up, and always available.

•••

Not the old “God is too mysterious for us to understand,” I hope!

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Steven Queen
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 2:13pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Oh no,  I wasn't saying that! :)

I was referring to when you admit you did wrong and accept the salvation that is being offered to you (despite your failings, and not because you somehow "earned" it).
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 3:45pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

As I understand it, free will is the right to chose to not obey the divine plan
and go your own way.
*****
It’s only free will if you’re not punished for not obeying. If all your actions
are based on whether or not you’re going to be punished for them, how free
can your will truly be?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 6:32pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

This reminds me of one of my high school teachers explaining to the class why the Jews were evil. You see, they killed Christ. Up goes my hand. “But wasn’t that what they were supposed to do? Wasn’t that GOD’S PLAN?”

Yes, she said, but they could have CHOSEN NOT TO!

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 8:56pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

As for changing minds, in the short or long term, this is certainly possible. The moral arc of the universe certainly shows progress. I remind kids in my Driver's Ed class how attitudes about issues such as driving impaired or wearing seat belts have greatly reduced motor vehicle fatalities. Certainly due to a combination of science, legal, and social pressures. Most moral progress probably is due to the same such efforts.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 9:19pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

The moral arc of the universe certainly shows progress.

•••

Could you clarify how you imagine a completely mindless entity like the universe can have a “moral arc”?

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 9:34pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

It's from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

It's not literal. Michael Shermer borrowed it for his book "The Moral Arc" that discusses morality in the world. I like the quote a lot.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 September 2023 at 10:25pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The universe doesn’t care. There is nothing moral or immoral about it.

Is a hurricane immoral?

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 10 September 2023 at 12:36am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The universe does not care. The Moral Arc is about how people and society change. I think there's a lot of moral progress throughout history. I also don't see how it could be claimed that all morality comes from gods. If that were so, wouldn't things never change? Once slavery was considered moral, and it would always be so. I know there were splits in churches because of slavery, but I do not know of any divine change in the rules.
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