FRIHOSTFORUMSSEARCHFAQTOSBLOGSCOMPETITIONS
You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!


Torture your mother?





Soulfire
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
Indi
Divine command theory is flawed for precisely the reason that it cannot be the product of a "good" god.

The idea behind divine command theory is that there is no objective good or evil - all good and evil comes from god. Torture is not intrinsically bad; it is only bad because god says its bad. If god said torture was good, it would be good, regardless of how much pain and indignity was involved.

Keep that in mind for the next bit.

Why are there evil people? The answer: because there are moral laws. You can't have criminals without crimes, right? Until god says "lying is wrong!" then there are no people who are evil for being liars. God's moral command creates evil people.

If god had not made a law against lying, there may have been liars. But they would not be evil. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with lying. It's only evil because god made it evil.

What you end up with is a god who creates evil people unnecessarily. Just for the fun of it, really. That cannot be a good god.
mike1reynolds
Humans make arbitrary definitions, which you have turned into some kind of weird god, Indi. What does that have to do with the reality of God?

Do you deny that there is an absolute distinction between what is helpful and what is harmful? (You can’t talk abstract terms to pie in the sky intellectuals like this, you have to use only concrete terms or things will get out of hand quickly, Soulfire).

Personally, I think that if I could have put a little fear into my mother, who was contumacious and deeply disturbed in a way that was extremely harmful to me and my younger siblings, it would have helped the situation considerably. She abandoned me at an early age, and then when I came to rescue my siblings, which meant having to deal with her, she was an endless burden of unimaginable proportions who not only made my life miserable in thoughout my 20’s and early thirties, but was constantly stealing money from me. When my siblings were finally off on their own and was able to moved out, she abruptly emptied my bank account of every last penny.

A century ago this kind of insane behavior, yelling and screaming all the time at the hand that fed her, would have met a very brutal reaction. Thank God I was not raised by her. Being abandoned by her at an early age was actually quite a blessing.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
Divine command theory is flawed for precisely the reason that it cannot be the product of a "good" god.

The idea behind divine command theory is that there is no objective good or evil - all good and evil comes from god. Torture is not intrinsically bad; it is only bad because god says its bad. If god said torture was good, it would be good, regardless of how much pain and indignity was involved.

Keep that in mind for the next bit.

Why are there evil people? The answer: because there are moral laws. You can't have criminals without crimes, right? Until god says "lying is wrong!" then there are no people who are evil for being liars. God's moral command creates evil people.

If god had not made a law against lying, there may have been liars. But they would not be evil. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with lying. It's only evil because god made it evil.

What you end up with is a god who creates evil people unnecessarily. Just for the fun of it, really. That cannot be a good god.


God's laws are there for our benefit. Theoretically at least, if everybody followed them, there would not be much suffering in the world. If God does not care about whether we suffer or not, however, then it would be wrong for Him to make arbitrary laws of good and evil. (Such as making it moral to torture your mother.) God created morality to make life easier for us, not to condemn us. If He hadn't given any laws, that would show that He is uncaring about us, which would not be characteristic of a 'good' God. (Of course, the meaning of 'good' breaks down a little when you start considering exactly what the difference between good and evil is. Suppose God decided that being uncaring towards one's creations is 'good'?)
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
God's laws are there for our benefit. Theoretically at least, if everybody followed them, there would not be much suffering in the world. If God does not care about whether we suffer or not, however, then it would be wrong for Him to make arbitrary laws of good and evil. (Such as making it moral to torture your mother.) God created morality to make life easier for us, not to condemn us. If He hadn't given any laws, that would show that He is uncaring about us, which would not be characteristic of a 'good' God. (Of course, the meaning of 'good' breaks down a little when you start considering exactly what the difference between good and evil is. Suppose God decided that being uncaring towards one's creations is 'good'?)

You're not using divine command theory.

You are claiming that moral laws are put in place to prevent harm - that is, that something is "bad" because doing it causes harm. By saying that, you are using an objective measure of morality, not divine command theory. You are allowing for the existence of morality without a god - because i could just as easily make a moral code based on minimizing harm without any need for a god.

In divine command theory, there is no absolute standard. All morality comes from the god. Something is not "bad" because it causes harm, it is "bad" because the god says it's bad, nothing more, nothing less. Ask the question: "why did god say X is bad?" If the answer is anything other than "because he felt like it", for example, if it is "because it hurts people", then you are not using divine command theory.

Very few people who talk about relative morality - of which divine command theory is an example - actually believe in relative morality when you put their ideas to the test.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
it is "bad" because the god says it's bad, nothing more, nothing less.

Of course.
I was explaining why God says it's bad, instead of just telling us to do whatever we want with no thought to consequences.

A good God does not give a command without a good reason.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Indi wrote:
it is "bad" because the god says it's bad, nothing more, nothing less.

Of course.
I was explaining why God says it's bad, instead of just telling us to do whatever we want with no thought to consequences.

A good God does not give a command without a good reason.


Hmm...my reading of the O.T. gives me a different view...
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
Indi wrote:
it is "bad" because the god says it's bad, nothing more, nothing less.

Of course.
I was explaining why God says it's bad, instead of just telling us to do whatever we want with no thought to consequences.

A good God does not give a command without a good reason.

i'm not sure what your point is.

If God had a reason - good or no, as long as it's not just a totally made up reason like "i didn't like it, so i made it evil" - then you are not using divine command theory.

If you are using divine command theory, then there is nothing wrong with rape, murder or anything else... except that God said he didn't like it. If God changed his mind tomorrow and said they are fine, then they would be fine.

If you are using divine command theory, then there is no "why" except "God says so".
budiman
I just know you have to respect your parents (father and mother). No point of fearing them and not respecting them.
Yantaal
i wouldnt, simple as, i am an aethesit but assuming all the things are true i wouldnt, because my family if my family and it is wrong, and a god that would ask that of you is a dick
the_mariska
Soulfire, the entire fact that you are considering God telling you to torture your mother means that you might be having even some kind of menthal problems. In my humble opinion, it wouldn't be wise to find out the will of God in your dreams or another people's words, especially when they are absurd and absolutely against what is written in the Bible. Well, unless you consider then as infallible autorities, which in the first case means schizophrenia, and in the second being completely brainwashed. If you would be 100% sure it would be the will of God, you'd have my sincere condolence. Myself, I'd definitely prefer to search for His inspiration in the Bible.
Indi
the_mariska wrote:
Soulfire, the entire fact that you are considering God telling you to torture your mother means that you might be having even some kind of menthal problems. In my humble opinion, it wouldn't be wise to find out the will of God in your dreams or another people's words, especially when they are absurd and absolutely against what is written in the Bible. Well, unless you consider then as infallible autorities, which in the first case means schizophrenia, and in the second being completely brainwashed. If you would be 100% sure it would be the will of God, you'd have my sincere condolence. Myself, I'd definitely prefer to search for His inspiration in the Bible.

i'm pretty sure Soulfire isn't actually hearing voices telling him to torture his mother, dude. ^_^; Read it a little more closely. No, don't even bother that... just read the first word of his first post.

It's a hypothetical question.
mike1reynolds
What Indi said!

Not only that, but in Genesis 21:12 God tells Abraham to obey Sarah's demand to cast his other wife and child out into the desert. Torture your wife and baby is the actual version of this dilemma posed in the Bible.
the_mariska
Indi wrote:
i'm pretty sure Soulfire isn't actually hearing voices telling him to torture his mother, dude. ^_^; Read it a little more closely. No, don't even bother that... just read the first word of his first post.

It's a hypothetical question.

Just as I hypothetically assumed that someone really believed in the voice of God telling him to toruture his mother. I didn't adress this directly to Soulfire, but gave my opinion about a hypothetical character who would believe so. Peace Wink
Indi
the_mariska wrote:
Just as I hypothetically assumed that someone really believed in the voice of God telling him to toruture his mother. I didn't adress this directly to Soulfire, but gave my opinion about a hypothetical character who would believe so. Peace Wink

Ha ha, excellent answer! ^_^ Good call, my bad.
DeFwh
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


Well before saying the action is wrong to commit what if your mother has done something terrible or will do something terrible. This means essentially your act is in good faith and you have slain evil.

Also you must consider that this kind of vision could be a test of faith, not that you are faithful to your god but that you are willing to sacrifice your own life for the life of another.

But more on the subject of the topic your interpretation of DCT is flawed or the whole theory is flawed. As with anything isn't the first command the most important so if you are supposed to honor thy mother and father you are breaking gods' will. So through DCT this would be a serious flaw as it would mean god didnt mean for you to honor thy mother and father. I also believe omnipotent figures would not make mistakes such as this.

If his existence was fact and was 100% confirmed I would definetely follow the command but as we know god he exists in are hearts and in our thoughts guiding us not telling us what to do.
Indi
DeFwh wrote:
But more on the subject of the topic your interpretation of DCT is flawed or the whole theory is flawed. As with anything isn't the first command the most important so if you are supposed to honor thy mother and father you are breaking gods' will.

No, sorry, it is your understanding of it that is flawed. It is never the case in any rule set that the first command is the most important. Never, ever. Either the most recent command is the most important, or (in the case of a perfect and unchanging ruleset) they are all equally important, or some rules have been given higher precedence than others (not because they were first, but because they are the most important).

The only cases where rule 1 is more important than rule 2 is in cases where they have been sorted by their importance (as is usually the case, like in the ten commandments).

But in Judaistic religions, the rules are clear. God's most recent command always takes precedence. For example, God ordered the Isrealites to kill everyone who wasn't a virgin girl in Judges 21 and rape everyone who was... after he had given the ten commandments with their "thou shalt not kill" edict.
DeFwh
Indi wrote:
For example, God ordered the Isrealites to kill everyone who wasn't a virgin girl in Judges 21 and rape everyone who was... after he had given the ten commandments with their "thou shalt not kill" edict.


Considering what the DCT infers that the situation you referred to would mean killing all non-virgin girls was a good thing. So is god 'good' or 'bad'?

If hes good then DCT could possibly be true but if hes bad then DCT is obviously flawed.

What if killing and torturing have a bigger purpose that only god can see.
Indi
DeFwh wrote:
Considering what the DCT infers that the situation you referred to would mean killing all non-virgin girls was a good thing. So is god 'good' or 'bad'?

i don't understand what you mean by the question.

If divine command theory is true, and if God told you that raping virgins and killing everyone else was a good thing, then yes, it would be a good thing.

But as for God being good or bad... if divine command theory is true, then if God says he's good, he's good. If God says he's bad, he's bad. Doesn't matter how many virgins God has ordered raped, or how much suffering he caused. Good and bad are determined by - and only determined by - the word of God. Period.

DeFwh wrote:
If hes good then DCT could possibly be true but if hes bad then DCT is obviously flawed.

As i said, if you're using divine command theory, then God decides whether he's good or bad. And if God decides that he's bad, but that it's good for you to follow him anyway... then dammit, you do what he says.

That's the way divine command theory works. No reason, no sense. What God says goes. Period.

Where divine command theory falls apart is when you start trying to apply reason or logic.

DeFwh wrote:
What if killing and torturing have a bigger purpose that only god can see.

If there is a purpose, then divine command theory is not true.
DeFwh
Indi wrote:
If there is a purpose, then divine command theory is not true.


Could you elaborate?
Indi
DeFwh wrote:
Indi wrote:
If there is a purpose, then divine command theory is not true.


Could you elaborate?

If there is any reason for God to create moral laws other than his own fancy - any purpose, any function, any logic - then those laws do not ultimately originate with God.

If a purpose exists, then anyone who figures out the plan can figure out the moral laws that would make the plan happen. That means that person can figure out morality without ultimately consulting God. That is contradictory to divine command theory, which states that all moral laws ultimately originate from God. In divine command theory, the only way to determine right from wrong is to ask God or consult someone or something that asked God.
mike1reynolds
Indi wrote:
For example, God ordered the Isrealites to kill everyone who wasn't a virgin girl in Judges 21 and rape everyone who was... after he had given the ten commandments with their "thou shalt not kill" edict.

Is marriage a form of rape? Even if it is a marriage by abduction, such as the Abduction of Psyche (every culture use to do that sort of thing back then) it was still not rape, which requires callously leaving the victim when you are done with her, rather than taking her home and making her your wife.

Now as to the murder part, you may very well have more of a point there, that looked like a brutal situation that made the bitterness of the Civil War look quite civilized by comparison. I will enquire further on this matter because it is most appalling at first glance.

Never the less, God doesn't come into this anywhere. Nowhere does it say that God told them to do anything. The took council among themselves and came up with their own conclusion, not God's.
Tex_Arcana
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


Okay, first of all you have to ask yourself if this "vision" makes any sense whatsoever. Does torturing your mother actually fall within the standard guidelines of your religious belief? If not I would go check in with a qualified psychological professional.

Simply put, people go nuts (not a clinical term) all the time, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) thought that Satan speaking through his neighbors dog (or so he claimed) was telling him to commit those murders. I suspect "God" has also told quite a few outrageous things as well. Any command from any version of a "Higher Power should be an occasion for a sanity check.
Indi
Tex_Arcana wrote:
Simply put, people go nuts (not a clinical term) all the time, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) thought that Satan speaking through his neighbors dog (or so he claimed) was telling him to commit those murders. I suspect "God" has also told quite a few outrageous things as well. Any command from any version of a "Higher Power should be an occasion for a sanity check.

i noticed this phenomenon in a similar thread i made a while back. Curiously enough, it turns out that while people have no problems believing that God exists, and that he has a direct interest in every aspect of your life, and that he talked to people in the past, and that he created an incarnate god to walk around on Earth... they cannot accept the possibility that he might speak to someone now - and immediately leap to the conclusion that it must be a schizophrenic episode.

Curious.
mike1reynolds
While I don't think that Einstein was an atheist at all, he was a theist in pretty much the same mode I am (which is different to be sure, but not atheistic) it should be pretty straight foreward to you, Indi, that many people who claim to believe in God are in truth actually nothing more than atheists in the guise of fanatical religionists.

Matthew 7:21-23 refers to this. Jesus says that in the future (present) Christianity will be full of the ranks of the damned.
silvermesh
mike1reynolds wrote:
Not only that, but in Genesis 21:12 God tells Abraham to obey Sarah's demand to cast his other wife and child out into the desert. Torture your wife and baby is the actual version of this dilemma posed in the Bible.


funny how easy it is to take quotes out of context and make them mean ANYTHING. God specifically tells Abraham that this son that he sends away will be the founder of a Nation. I wouldn't say sending my son off to be founder of a nation is torture. They weren't even in the desert for long enough to be thirsty(their waterskin had just emptied) before God sent an angel to them.

the real flaw in your DCT stuff is that if this particular God were the type of God to command you to torture your mother for no apparant reason, he already would have set a precedence for that type of activity as being good. Most of the time in DCT God isn't a psychopath, he gives orders based on a belief system that he has apparantly been setting up for some time. so if he orders you to torture your mother, it's more than likely well after it's been established that torture isn't an evil act.
Tex_Arcana
Indi wrote:
similar thread i made a while back. Curiously enough, it turns out that while people have no problems believing that God exists, and that he has a direct interest in every aspect of your life, and that he talked to people in the past, and that he created an incarnate god to walk around on Earth... they cannot accept the possibility that he might speak to someone now - and immediately leap to the conclusion that it must be a schizophrenic episode.

Curious.


Well' I do have whole conversations with God/dess all the time during guided meditations and such but since my Deities aren't particularly known for playing faith games, petulent behavior, or general cruelty towards their followers I know that any command to harm others or myself has to come from another source.

Probably, the one really good thing about being in a religion where even a newcomer is considered a Priest/ess (still in training but then we are all still in training the rest of our lives in truth) is that each individual is encouraged to develop their own personal relationship with Deity and use that as their primary guide for their lives. What works for the High Priest/ess might not work for the Neophyte. It is the High Priest/ess job not to dominate and dictate how everything is done and the "right and only" way things are. Their job is to give them the technique and tools so that they can follow their own path acording to their relationship with Deity. In the nearly 20 years that I have been an Irish Celtic Neo-Pagan I have shared the circle with a wide variety of people from different religions including Asatru, Temple of Isis, Ar nDraiocht Fein, and even Universalist Unitarians. Our visions may be different but our paths cross we all share a common direction.

Perhaps if all religions were to concider that it isn't the path you walk but where you are going is most important there wouldn't be so much craziness. It doesn't matter if a religious leader claims to be one thing or another. What matters is his message. If he preaches hate when his religion teaches love leave him aside and don't listen to him. If a religious leader is different from your own but preaches love the as your religion then listen to him instead for a while and befriend him. What have you got to lose?

Opp, got off on a rant. Anyway there is "good" communication with (and from) Deity and then there are nutso episodes where your Id tries to get the better of you. If you have trouble telling which is which and your being told by "God" to do destructive things then ask yourself WWJD (certainly not picket veterans funerals or blow up Planned Parenthood clinics) and get thyself to a sanitarium.
Indi
Tex_Arcana wrote:
Well' I do have whole conversations with God/dess all the time during guided meditations and such but since my Deities aren't particularly known for playing faith games, petulent behavior, or general cruelty towards their followers I know that any command to harm others or myself has to come from another source.

That was another phenomenon i noticed. People automatically assumed that any such request must be a test of faith of some kind. i don't see how that follows.

Assuming that you're not imagining your god, then it must be an intelligence that exists outside of your mind - as in, it must have thoughts and knowledge that you don't. Assuming that it's really worthy of being called a god, that means that its thoughts and knowledge must be greater than your own.

Now, you already believe that your god is not capricious, and would not tell you to go kill someone just to be mean-spirited or cruel or to test you. It follows then, that if your god tells you to kill someone, there must be a pretty damn good reason for it - and not just a good reason for the person to be killed... but a good reason for you to do it.

In which case, you'd be pretty stupid not to comply, no?

See, the way i did it is not the same way Soulfire did. He is using divine command theory. i'm just using plain old common sense. If a being that is enormously more intelligent and aware than you tells you to do something - and if you believe that being is generally good - then it only makes logical sense to comply. Doesn't it?
Eyvind
According to the ten commandments you're supposed to "honour thy father and mother". In no way could torture be honouring her. Therefore, I'd figure that if YHWH asked you to do this it would actually be a test. If you do it, torture your mother, then you fail the test. If you don't do it then you pass.

Yep, in my opinion, Abraham actually failed his test when he attempted to sacrifice his own son.

Take care,
Eyvind
Sweet Escape
No, I would not.
iZen
I would say that under no circumstances should you torture your mother.
Also, God is not necessarily good. If you actually take a hard look at all of the Catholic scriptures, God is actually a very very vengeful and sadistic deity. But if you want to look at it from the Christian POV, Lucifer is supposedly evil, also known as the Devil. But, Luciferians see him as the Bringer of Light, or the one who brought wisdom to this world against the orders of a Dictatorial and oppressive God. The Christians see Lucifer as some red horned demon with a pitchfork or as a serpent. The Luciferians see him as a very handsome angelic like deity with extreme charm and charisma, but the charm and charisma are just natural gifts and are not meant to be used in a detrimental way. So it really depends on your God, some are good, but some are not so good. But, you just still NEVER EVER torture your mother. I would rather burn in Dantes 9th Circle of the Inferno then be in Paradise with a scum bag that would make me do that.
mike1reynolds
If you mother is a contumacious woman who wishes to keep your siblings as lap dogs for the sake of her own childish ego, then it is permissible to torture her with such taunts as, “You shall never have access to MY children.”

Alas, I did not really mean it, but she died two years ago, even as I had promised her grandchildren soon, and she giggled in glee like a little girl at this promise.

After her death I felt no little anguish in the thought that she will never meet in person my future offsping, but over time it has dawned on me that deep down inside her spirit knew that I was right and that it would be far better that they be watched over by their maternal grandmothers.
mike1reynolds
EanofAthenasPrime wrote:
so...if you have a dream of God, you exclude the possibility the dream was made up by your subconscious, IT HAS TO BE GOD?
What the Hell does that have to with the subject at hand of who is worthy and who must suffer at God's hands because of their own willful perversion?
EanofAthenasPrime
mike1reynolds wrote:
EanofAthenasPrime wrote:
so...if you have a dream of God, you exclude the possibility the dream was made up by your subconscious, IT HAS TO BE GOD?
What the Hell does that have to with the subject at hand of who is worthy and who must suffer at God's hands because of their own willful perversion?


Wtf dude. IT has everything to do with the ORIGINAL TOPIC. get a grip. Maybe READ THE ACTUAL TOPIC?
CMA
EanofAthenasPrime wrote:
mike1reynolds wrote:
Got me, what does anything you have said have to do with anything previously said?


OMG! the whole f^ing topic was about obeying a dream that God told you to kill your mom. OMG! I SAID HOW F^KING STUPID THAT BS IS BECAUSE IT IS A DREAM, NOT REALLY GOD! ANYONE CAN HAVE A DREAM OF GOD! IT DOESN'T MEAN IT IS GOD! OMG


1- Swearing leads you nowhere.
2- The topic mentioned a dream as a possibility on how God would communicate with you, but it doesn't say that it would be necessarily like so. Read more closely, maybe?
Soulfire wrote:
God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God.
3- "Kill your mom"? I thought it was "torture". Torture doesn't mean death. Soulfire never mentioned killing, but whatever...


Now, on to the subject... And I'm aware that I may as well offend a lot of people with what I'm about to say here.

I agree with what Indi has said so far. I'm an atheist myself, but considering that "what God commands must be done because we are to obey His words if we want to go to Heaven", then if God told you to torture your mother, you'd sure as heck do so if you wanted to go to Heaven, wouldn't you?
This is the part where the angelical boys and girls would say:

"Oh, but God is a good guy and He'd never tell us to do something that evil! Besides, one of the commandments says that we should honor our mother and father, so it goes against what He said before, so there!"

You know what? You already fail at religion if you're to say that. If you have as a philosophy of life obeying whatever God tells you to do, then you'll do it at all times, and not just when you feel like it. I have a hard time deciding what I'm gonna have for lunch, and I may change my mind in-between. If we were made at His image, can't He change his mind as well sometimes? He might decide that the commandments are void now.

Also, I had this idea that God was vengeful and He can be quite nasty if you piss him off. It's Noah's episode all over again... One day he might decide "Heck, screw this", and wipe us all out. He kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden at the first thing they screwed up on, right? That's some forgiveness to you...
Eyvind
CMA wrote:
Oh, but God is a good guy and He'd never tell us to do something that evil! Besides, one of the commandments says that we should honor our mother and father, so it goes against what He said before, so there!"

You know what? You already fail at religion if you're to say that. ...


No, no. You don't fail at religion, you only fail at following direct divine command. And that may be the whole point. Religion is a world view, more than just simple blind slavery to the supposed word of a deity. It involves moral decision making. If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that. The directive could very likely be a test of your true heart, or how good a person you truly are. And obeying any directive that contradicts the spirit of the religion could be (and in my opinion would be) failing the test.

Eyvind
EanofAthenasPrime
but think of this...what if they dream/vision was Satan's trick to decieve you! then God would be pissed off at you for failing "the test" and of course, being the good guy that he is let Satan go unpunished.
Indi
Eyvind wrote:
No, no. You don't fail at religion, you only fail at following direct divine command. And that may be the whole point. Religion is a world view, more than just simple blind slavery to the supposed word of a deity. It involves moral decision making. If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that. The directive could very likely be a test of your true heart, or how good a person you truly are. And obeying any directive that contradicts the spirit of the religion could be (and in my opinion would be) failing the test.

i'm sorry, there's a lot of strangeness in all that. >_< You say it's bad to blindly follow the commands of a god - that you should use "moral decision making" - but in the very next sentence you advocate... following the moral commandments of a god. So... don't do whatever a god tells you to do just because a god tells you to do it... but do what the god originally told you to do... because?

Also, everyone always assumes these kinds of commands are "tests". Does that even make sense? If your god really knows enough about you to be worthy of being called your god... why would they need to test you?

And even if they did decide to test you... why assume that the right answer must be to follow the original commandments? i mean, consider this logically. You have a being who is immensely more intelligent and aware than you. This being has told you that it is necessary to torture your mother. That is the directive you have been given. How can you possibly say that you know better than your god? It has told you to do X. If you believe that you are not to do X, then you are effectively saying:
1.) Your god is lying to you.
2.) Even though you have been given an instruction from your god, you know better.
But by what justification can you assume either?

Put it in a more worldly, less divine perspective. A parent has told their child "never, ever, ever push the red button by the door... never do it!" The child, being obedient, obeys. So far so good. Then one day, without warning, the parent tells the child "go, push the red button now!"

What should the child do? Assume this is a "test" and disobey?

Let's make it even more interesting. The child asks "why?" and the parent answers: "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" Now what should the child do?
mike1reynolds
Indi wrote:
The child asks "why?" and the parent answers: "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" Now what should the child do?
Ah, but young child, I have eplained, and will explain again, if you ask in coherent terms.

These are simple matters, and I will explain again, if you desire.

But you do not wish too understand, you only wish to destroy. Karma is a bitch! Wish to destroy others and it will be your own fate.
missdixy
I would never believe it was 100% God. Especially with a command like that...
mike1reynolds
What command? The "command " of karma? Wish for harm too others and you will suffer it yourself, invariably.

“When the wheel of sharp weapons strikes with its sharp swords against your face, remember that it is you yourself who set the wheel in motion.”

-The Wheel of Sharp Weapons

(One of the Tibetan sacred scriptures)




















Too add, from the same work:

“The peacock thrives off of berries that are poisonous too other birds.”

In other words, to strike with black magic at a Buddha only resolves to Awaken him.
Eyvind
Indi wrote:
Eyvind wrote:
No, no. You don't fail at religion, you only fail at following direct divine command. And that may be the whole point. Religion is a world view, more than just simple blind slavery to the supposed word of a deity. It involves moral decision making. If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that. The directive could very likely be a test of your true heart, or how good a person you truly are. And obeying any directive that contradicts the spirit of the religion could be (and in my opinion would be) failing the test.


i'm sorry, there's a lot of strangeness in all that. >_< You say it's bad to blindly follow the commands of a god - that you should use "moral decision making" - but in the very next sentence you advocate... following the moral commandments of a god.


Well, actually, not really. You're working on the premise that religion is based on the commandment of a god. I, however, am not. Just because a religion espouses certain virtues doesn't mean that they came from a god as divine command. My sentence above does not advocate "following the moral commandments of a god" but rather remaining true to the virtues of your religion... the two are distinctly different.

Quote:
So... don't do whatever a god tells you to do just because a god tells you to do it... but do what the god originally told you to do... because?


Again, this assumes religion as a product of divine command.

Quote:
Also, everyone always assumes these kinds of commands are "tests". Does that even make sense? If your god really knows enough about you to be worthy of being called your god... why would they need to test you?


This is based on the premise that deity is omniscient (and brushes up against the concept of predestination). I, personally, disagree with these concepts so feel that deity may well need to test us.

Quote:
And even if they did decide to test you... why assume that the right answer must be to follow the original commandments?


As above, religious virtues/morals, not commandments. But since you asked, it would be because those are what are important to the community.

Quote:
i mean, consider this logically. You have a being who is immensely more intelligent and aware than you. This being has told you that it is necessary to torture your mother. That is the directive you have been given. How can you possibly say that you know better than your god? It has told you to do X. If you believe that you are not to do X, then you are effectively saying:
1.) Your god is lying to you.
2.) Even though you have been given an instruction from your god, you know better.
But by what justification can you assume either?


By the justification that we were given sentience and free will. If something doesn't make sense (as would be the case when divine command contradicts religious moral) we are justified in questioning it.

Quote:
Put it in a more worldly, less divine perspective. A parent has told their child "never, ever, ever push the red button by the door... never do it!" The child, being obedient, obeys. So far so good. Then one day, without warning, the parent tells the child "go, push the red button now!"

What should the child do? Assume this is a "test" and disobey?

Let's make it even more interesting. The child asks "why?" and the parent answers: "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" Now what should the child do?


I appreciate the analogy, Indi, but unfortunately you leave out the very much necessary context. Let's say the red button has a very sharp pin on it that makes you bleed profusely when you touch it. The child has seen this first hand, perhaps a friend pushed it once. The child has confirmed that to push it is a bad thing. Then the parent says that it's now ok to push it. But the child can still see the pin. He/she can still see that it is harmful. What should the child do? The choice is now much easier, isn't it?

Take care,
Eyvind
Indi
Eyvind wrote:
Indi wrote:
Eyvind wrote:
No, no. You don't fail at religion, you only fail at following direct divine command. And that may be the whole point. Religion is a world view, more than just simple blind slavery to the supposed word of a deity. It involves moral decision making. If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that. The directive could very likely be a test of your true heart, or how good a person you truly are. And obeying any directive that contradicts the spirit of the religion could be (and in my opinion would be) failing the test.


i'm sorry, there's a lot of strangeness in all that. >_< You say it's bad to blindly follow the commands of a god - that you should use "moral decision making" - but in the very next sentence you advocate... following the moral commandments of a god.


Well, actually, not really. You're working on the premise that religion is based on the commandment of a god. I, however, am not. Just because a religion espouses certain virtues doesn't mean that they came from a god as divine command. My sentence above does not advocate "following the moral commandments of a god" but rather remaining true to the virtues of your religion... the two are distinctly different.

Quote:
So... don't do whatever a god tells you to do just because a god tells you to do it... but do what the god originally told you to do... because?


Again, this assumes religion as a product of divine command.

Those statements were based on this argument: "If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that." So if those virtues did not come from the god, where did they come from?

And if they did come from the god, then it is true that you are saying that you should follow one set of instructions from the god but ignore others.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
And even if they did decide to test you... why assume that the right answer must be to follow the original commandments?


As above, religious virtues/morals, not commandments. But since you asked, it would be because those are what are important to the community.

And how do you know what is best for the community? How do you know that when your god asks you to do something, even if it sounds bad, it's not for the better of the community? If you believe that, then you believe that your god is lying to you and/or that you know better.

Consider this: why would they ever ask you to do something that would harm the community? Your answer is that you're being tested. If that's the case, then there must be a chance that you would fail the test... otherwise the test is meaningless... and your god cannot know what will happen.

What that means is that this god would risk the suffering of others just to test you. Remember, by your own claim, the god does not know what will happen. It is entirely possible that you could surprise the god with your ingenuity and manage to torture your mother severely before he could arrange to have you stopped.

You have arrived in a bit of a mess. Either god does not know enough to be able to be sure that you will not succeed in harming someone... or they don't need to test you. Or, option three, they don't care: they're perfectly ok with risking someone being tortured just for the sake of testing you. All three options are problematic.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
i mean, consider this logically. You have a being who is immensely more intelligent and aware than you. This being has told you that it is necessary to torture your mother. That is the directive you have been given. How can you possibly say that you know better than your god? It has told you to do X. If you believe that you are not to do X, then you are effectively saying:
1.) Your god is lying to you.
2.) Even though you have been given an instruction from your god, you know better.
But by what justification can you assume either?


By the justification that we were given sentience and free will. If something doesn't make sense (as would be the case when divine command contradicts religious moral) we are justified in questioning it.

You have said that you do not believe that a god can be omniscient. Fair enough. But i don't think you can reasonably argue that you're smarter than a god.

Yet that's exactly what you're claiming. You're claiming that it's ok for you to override - not question, override! - an instruction given to you by a god. Your logic for this is... that you know better. That you have used your inferior logic with the limited information you have - inferior and limited with respect to the resources the god has available - and determined that you know enough to outsmart god. That god is really trying to fool you into this test, but you have seen through his test - you have outsmarted him - and thus are justified in just ignoring the command.

The god doesn't need to be omniscient, and he doesn't need to have absolute divine authority. If he is reasonably smarter than you, and if he is reasonably more benevolent than you... then you would quite literally be an idiot not do what he tells you to do. i mean, if this being - it doesn't even need to be a god - is smarter and more benevolent than you... why wouldn't you do what it tells you to do?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Put it in a more worldly, less divine perspective. A parent has told their child "never, ever, ever push the red button by the door... never do it!" The child, being obedient, obeys. So far so good. Then one day, without warning, the parent tells the child "go, push the red button now!"

What should the child do? Assume this is a "test" and disobey?

Let's make it even more interesting. The child asks "why?" and the parent answers: "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" Now what should the child do?


I appreciate the analogy, Indi, but unfortunately you leave out the very much necessary context. Let's say the red button has a very sharp pin on it that makes you bleed profusely when you touch it. The child has seen this first hand, perhaps a friend pushed it once. The child has confirmed that to push it is a bad thing. Then the parent says that it's now ok to push it. But the child can still see the pin. He/she can still see that it is harmful. What should the child do? The choice is now much easier, isn't it?

You change the example in a very self-serving way to avoid the problem. But alright. i'll allow it. Yes, i will allow the strange situation as you have described it. Because, as you will discover, the changes you made are not good enough.

So, once again, from the top. You are a child, and your parents have told you to never, ever press the red button. Never. You saw your friend do it once, and get jabbed by the pin in the button. You can still see the pin there.

Now, one night, without any warning or explanation, your parent suddenly says to you, "Go, push the red button." Of course, you ask "why?" Your parent answers, "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" You reply, "But i will get stuck by the pin!" Your parent replies, "You must do it anyway. i have told you to go do it, go do it."

What do you do?
EanofAthenasPrime
Quote:
Yet that's exactly what you're claiming. You're claiming that it's ok for you to override - not question, override! - an instruction given to you by a god. Your logic for this is... that you know better. That you have used your inferior logic with the limited information you have - inferior and limited with respect to the resources the god has available - and determined that you know enough to outsmart god. That god is really trying to fool you into this test, but you have seen through his test - you have outsmarted him - and thus are justified in just ignoring the command.


Kinda off topic, but that is kinda the mentality of the people who are in charge at mental asylums. They think they know better than the "crazy people" they own, and think because they have a college degree of physicology they can lock the "crazy ones" inside a cage indefinitely. Again, the people who are at asylums usually aren't murderers and common criminals. They usually are just clueless people who haven't harmed anyone, but by humanities evil nature are of course put into an asylum because noone understands them. Like in James Bond Tommorow Never Dies "The difference between insanity and genius is measured only by sucess." Remember in the olden days, alchemists and atheists were burned at the stake for their "heresy." It is the same today. Again, I don't want to get too off topic so keep the replies simple.
Indi
EanofAthenasPrime wrote:
Quote:
Yet that's exactly what you're claiming. You're claiming that it's ok for you to override - not question, override! - an instruction given to you by a god. Your logic for this is... that you know better. That you have used your inferior logic with the limited information you have - inferior and limited with respect to the resources the god has available - and determined that you know enough to outsmart god. That god is really trying to fool you into this test, but you have seen through his test - you have outsmarted him - and thus are justified in just ignoring the command.


Kinda off topic, but that is kinda the mentality of the people who are in charge at mental asylums. They think they know better than the "crazy people" they own, and think because they have a college degree of physicology they can lock the "crazy ones" inside a cage indefinitely. Again, the people who are at asylums usually aren't murderers and common criminals. They usually are just clueless people who haven't harmed anyone, but by humanities evil nature are of course put into an asylum because noone understands them. Like in James Bond Tommorow Never Dies "The difference between insanity and genius is measured only by sucess." Remember in the olden days, alchemists and atheists were burned at the stake for their "heresy." It is the same today. Again, I don't want to get too off topic so keep the replies simple.

That's just pop culture myth. Modern psychiatric hospitals are not "insane asylums" anymore. People who are in them are either in them willingly, or they have demonstrated an inability to function in society.

In plain English, that means that you don't get thrown into a psychiatric hospital just because you believe that some people are really evil reptilian aliens plotting against humanity (case in point). But if your belief interferes with your ability to function in the world - like if you're actually out trying to kill these supposed reptiles - then you will be committed. The same is true even if you don't represent a threat to anyone but yourself.
Eyvind
Indi wrote:
Those statements were based on this argument: "If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that." So if those virtues did not come from the god, where did they come from?


Well, they may have come from the community itself. Or been based on observations of characters in mythology (both human and divine). It doesn’t really matter. My point is that they are not necessarily divine “command”. They are guidelines, practices that most usually benefit or help solidify the community in some way. The deity of a community would, I believe, have this “community concern” as his/her primary objective, or at least one of their primary objectives (if they don’t then they are not rightly the god of that community.) Thus any directive should have this objective at its root, or at least not be in opposition to it. If, to the recipient of the divine command, the directive is at odds with this primary objective, the directive needs to be explained by the deity. (And there’s no reason for the deity not to explain it if, after all, we are less intelligent beings.) And so, if it is not properly explained then it can only be a test of some “quality” in the recipient (“faith” being the usual suspect).

Quote:
And if they did come from the god, then it is true that you are saying that you should follow one set of instructions from the god but ignore others.


As above, the first set need not be “instructions” in the first place. That is, we don’t follow them because we were told to but because they are good for the community.

Quote:
And how do you know what is best for the community? How do you know that when your god asks you to do something, even if it sounds bad, it's not for the better of the community?


Because if it truly were for the benefit of the community then it would be in everyone’s best interest to make things explicitly clear. Something so drastically opposed to the norm of the religion would be shrouded in question. The god would explain it to the recipient. Why would he/she not, if it were in the best interest of the community? Unless it was a test?

Quote:
If you believe that, then you believe that your god is lying to you and/or that you know better.


Right! Exactly! It’s a lie. In which case, either:

1. the god does not have the best interests of the community in mind
or
2. the god is testing the recipient.

In either case disobeying the command would be justified.

I can’t “know better” than a god, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that I need to blindly do exactly what they tell me without applying what I do know about the character and nature of that god and the religion associated with him/her.

Quote:
Consider this: why would they ever ask you to do something that would harm the community? Your answer is that you're being tested.If that's the case, then there must be a chance that you would fail the test... otherwise the test is meaningless... and your god cannot know what will happen.

What that means is that this god would risk the suffering of others just to test you. Remember, by your own claim, the god does not know what will happen. It is entirely possible that you could surprise the god with your ingenuity and manage to torture your mother severely before he could arrange to have you stopped.


Indeed, and in that case the god has proven that there is a significant problem in his/her community and can take steps to remedy the problem. YHWH’s “tough love” on the Hebrews (slavery in Egypt, for example, not to mention the introduction of a whole slew of unifying socio-political codes) could be seen as an attempt to solidify the community after Abraham demonstrated a flaw in the community’s solidarity by disregarding the well-being of his own son!

Quote:
You have arrived in a bit of a mess. Either god does not know enough to be able to be sure that you will not succeed in harming someone... or they don't need to test you. Or, option three, they don't care: they're perfectly ok with risking someone being tortured just for the sake of testing you. All three options are problematic.

You have said that you do not believe that a god can be omniscient. Fair enough. But i don't think you can reasonably argue that you're smarter than a god.

Yet that's exactly what you're claiming. You're claiming that it's ok for you to override - not question, override! - an instruction given to you by a god. Your logic for this is... that you know better. That you have used your inferior logic with the limited information you have - inferior and limited with respect to the resources the god has available - and determined that you know enough to outsmart god. That god is really trying to fool you into this test, but you have seen through his test - you have outsmarted him - and thus are justified in just ignoring the command.


Where do you get “outsmarted” from? Giving the correct answer to a test is not “outsmarting” the test-administrator. Test-taking students don’t show that they “know better” than their teacher when they work out problems on tests, but rather they illustrate that they’ve learned something. I still can’t see how using my brain to interpret the revelation implies that I think I’m smarter than my gods. My gods gave me the ability to reason and it is unreasonable to assume that they wouldn’t expect me to exercise that ability.

Quote:
The god doesn't need to be omniscient, and he doesn't need to have absolute divine authority. If he is reasonably smarter than you, and if he is reasonably more benevolent than you... then you would quite literally be an idiot not do what he tells you to do. i mean, if this being - it doesn't even need to be a god - is smarter and more benevolent than you... why wouldn't you do what it tells you to do?


Doesn’t need to be a god? Ok:

Well I can tell you for sure that a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist is smarter than me. Should I follow what they tell me to do blindly? Ok, right, they don’t have enough authority for that (though they may be benevolent). To make a more appropriate analogy I’ll concede that a good number political leaders are smarter than me. They have brains and authority (and perhaps even benevolence towards their community – though political cynics will likely debate that Very Happy ). Should I follow their directives without question? By your logic then, the Nazi’s who refused to follow Hitler’s commands during WW2 were idiots?

Quote:
You change the example in a very self-serving way to avoid the problem.


That’s the nature of the game isn’t it? We put forth analogies to try and support our own ideas while at the same time looking for flaws in other people’s analogies. Wink

The down-side is that we keep building/renovating our analogies until we have a complete, detailed scenario that often either becomes a discussion point in its own right or becomes so convoluted that the value of the original analogy is lost. Very Happy But I digress...

Quote:
But alright. i'll allow it. Yes, i will allow the strange situation as you have described it. Because, as you will discover, the changes you made are not good enough.

So, once again, from the top. You are a child, and your parents have told you to never, ever press the red button. Never. You saw your friend do it once, and get jabbed by the pin in the button. You can still see the pin there.

Now, one night, without any warning or explanation, your parent suddenly says to you, "Go, push the red button." Of course, you ask "why?" Your parent answers, "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" You reply, "But i will get stuck by the pin!" Your parent replies, "You must do it anyway. i have told you to go do it, go do it."

What do you do?


You’ve added urgency to the scenario but nothing to alleviate the mystery or “badness”. You’ve given the child nothing and so can not blame the child for refusing. Plus now you’ve given the child the added concern that you don’t care about his/her pain! Poor kid…

And anyway, if it’s something really that important but something so complicated or so secret that it prohibits an explanation to the child, then it’s probably not a suitable task for the child and should be looked after by the parent. Very Happy


So here is my view in a nut-shell:

1. If the god tells us to do something that is out of character with the nature of the god and/or religion, then, being the rational creatures we are, we have the right (personally, I’d even go so far as to say “the obligation”) to question this.
2. If the god is still “on our side” then we should expect an explanation as to why this out-of-character action must be done. If we don’t get an explanation this must mean that the god is testing us.
3. If it’s a test then we can expect that the correct answer will be the answer that coincides with the non-deviant character of the god/religion (in other words we are being tested on our moral learning up until that point, not on any new “material”).
4. If we obey the deviant command then we fail and the god has proven that there is a weakness in the moral fibre of the community.
5. If we disobey the deviant command then we pass and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they’re not as likely to be thrown into any solidarity training camps in Siberia.


Take care,
Eyvind
Indi
Eyvind wrote:
Indi wrote:
Those statements were based on this argument: "If your religion espouses certain virtues (such as honouring your parents) then any directive supposedly coming from your deity must be interpreted in light of that." So if those virtues did not come from the god, where did they come from?


Well, they may have come from the community itself. Or been based on observations of characters in mythology (both human and divine). It doesn’t really matter. My point is that they are not necessarily divine “command”. They are guidelines, practices that most usually benefit or help solidify the community in some way. The deity of a community would, I believe, have this “community concern” as his/her primary objective, or at least one of their primary objectives (if they don’t then they are not rightly the god of that community.) Thus any directive should have this objective at its root, or at least not be in opposition to it. If, to the recipient of the divine command, the directive is at odds with this primary objective, the directive needs to be explained by the deity. (And there’s no reason for the deity not to explain it if, after all, we are less intelligent beings.) And so, if it is not properly explained then it can only be a test of some “quality” in the recipient (“faith” being the usual suspect).

While it's all certainly true that it's possible to determine morality objectively - without the need for divine command - that still doesn't excuse ignoring a deity when they tell you that some moral fact is true... even if that fact contradicts your own understanding. Why? Because doing so - whether you like to admit it or not - is effectively saying that your understanding of morality is better than the deity's.

Why do i keep insisting this? Because you keep saying that when the deity's word contradicts what you know, you can conclude that the deity is lying to you (to "test" you). What does that mean, in plain English? It means that you have been presented with two contradicting facts - the word of a god vs. your own understanding. Up to this point, you have no reason to believe that the deity would lie to you. Your argument, really, is that the fact that the contradiction exists is proof enough that the deity is lying. Or in other words, that you are so certain of your own understanding that even when you are presented with contradictory evidence by a god, you can safely rely on it and ignore the god. Because your understanding of morality has to be right, the god must therefore be wrong.

Something about that sounds wrong to me.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
And if they did come from the god, then it is true that you are saying that you should follow one set of instructions from the god but ignore others.


As above, the first set need not be “instructions” in the first place. That is, we don’t follow them because we were told to but because they are good for the community.

But you surely know that there are cases when those... whatever you want to call them... suggestions?... are not what is best for the community. When one person is hoarding food that could help the whole community survive in a time of drought, the... suggestion... to not steal will kill everyone but the hoarder. That's clearly not best for the community. When invading barbarians are going to genocide your entire race out of existence, the "suggestion" to not kill becomes downright dysfunctional.

So clearly those "suggestions" are not absolutes. There exist cases when they can be overidden.

Now, you have a deity that has your best interests at heart and knows much more than you do, and that deity tells you to ignore one of those "suggestions" and instead follow his immediate instructions. If it were true that those "suggestions" were absolutely and universally valid, then yes, you would have a good case for ignoring the deity. But they're not. So by what logic do you conclude that this is not a case where the situation demands that those "suggestions" be ignored? Maybe the deity is aware of some danger that you are not, and is attempting to save you - had they not stepped in, you would have continued following the "suggestions" which would lead to your demise, which is why the deity has intervened and said "forget the suggestions, trust me".

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
And how do you know what is best for the community? How do you know that when your god asks you to do something, even if it sounds bad, it's not for the better of the community?


Because if it truly were for the benefit of the community then it would be in everyone’s best interest to make things explicitly clear. Something so drastically opposed to the norm of the religion would be shrouded in question. The god would explain it to the recipient. Why would he/she not, if it were in the best interest of the community? Unless it was a test?

You're asking me? i have no clue. But i am not the one committing the fallacy of assuming that just because i cannot think of a reason why the deity would not explain it, that must mean that there is none.

i should also point out that in point of fact, it turns out that either the deity isn't benevolent at all... or your logic is wrong. You believe that if something were to the benefit of the community, it would be in everyone's best interests for the god to make it known. Sounds good so far.

Reality disagrees. Looking back on history, it turns out that there are many things that would have been beneficial to the community to know that the deity - if one exists - simply didn't tell us. Why didn't the god tell us millenia ago about germs and bacteria? About upcoming natural disasters? About killers and terrorists in our midst? Hell, why doesn't he tell us what we need to know now to do things like cure cancer, grow enough food to prevent global starvation, and solve the population crisis?

So either the god doesn't have our best interests at heart at all... or sometimes it is in our best interests to not tell us everything.

The standard answer is "because he has a higher agenda that requires the suffering caused by those things". Alright, fine. Now explain why you think that suddenly doesn't apply in your specific case; why you think that when you are instructed to do something and not given a reason, suddenly there is no higher agenda that you are not ready understand.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
If you believe that, then you believe that your god is lying to you and/or that you know better.


Right! Exactly! It’s a lie. In which case, either:

1. the god does not have the best interests of the community in mind
or
2. the god is testing the recipient.

In either case disobeying the command would be justified.

I can’t “know better” than a god, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that I need to blindly do exactly what they tell me without applying what I do know about the character and nature of that god and the religion associated with him/her.

i'm not sure where you come across this notion that blind obedience is what i'm talking about. As a matter of fact, i thought i was being explicitly clear that the only logical conclusion was to trust the word of the deity. Not blind obedience, rational trust.

The argument goes: the deity has your best interests at heart, the deity knows more than you, thus when the deity tells you to do something, how is it logical to suddenly assume that the deity is trying to deceive you or that you know more than the deity? It isn't. Thus you should do what the deity says. There's no blind obedience there, it's a perfectly rational trust in an instrument (the god) that is always more reliable than your own senses.

Now, the issue i'm having here is how you know it's a lie. Sure, if you could determine it's a lie, then you would be perfectly justified in ignoring it. But how - precisely - do you make that determination?

Your answer seems to be that you assume your own understanding of the universe (and the deity) is so solid that even when contradicted by the word of a deity, you can trust it more than the deity. My response is that that's bunk. You cannot possibly understand a god that well - no one does. No one can explain why a god would create as much pain and suffering as exists. They can try to offer rationalizations about sufferning being required to teach some lesson... but then can't explain the lesson or why it must be taught. Eventually every discussion about the characteristics of a god will boil down to the fact that you simply trust them... that there are aspects of the universe and the god that you just don't understand, but nevertheless you trust that there are valid reasons for them to be as they are.

And that's fine. That's a perfectly valid thing to do. After all, if you really believe that the god is benevolent, then it only makes sense to assume that when something appears to be nasty, there must be some ultimate, underlying benevolent reason for it to exist by necessity.

What i don't get is how you can go from that trust most of the time to suddenly throwing it away when you are given an order that seems to contradict what you understand about the universe. i mean, we've already established that you can't know everything about the universe or the god, but that you trust the word of your god. But then all of a sudden you do know so much about the god that you can conclude that it's lying. So... what exactly is the nature of this trust? Do you really trust the god, or do you only trust your conception of the god?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Consider this: why would they ever ask you to do something that would harm the community? Your answer is that you're being tested.If that's the case, then there must be a chance that you would fail the test... otherwise the test is meaningless... and your god cannot know what will happen.

What that means is that this god would risk the suffering of others just to test you. Remember, by your own claim, the god does not know what will happen. It is entirely possible that you could surprise the god with your ingenuity and manage to torture your mother severely before he could arrange to have you stopped.


Indeed, and in that case the god has proven that there is a significant problem in his/her community and can take steps to remedy the problem. YHWH’s “tough love” on the Hebrews (slavery in Egypt, for example, not to mention the introduction of a whole slew of unifying socio-political codes) could be seen as an attempt to solidify the community after Abraham demonstrated a flaw in the community’s solidarity by disregarding the well-being of his own son!

That's one possible interpretation i suppose. Creates a whole new slew of problems, of course. If the god needs to test Abraham to learn that he is... flawed?... in this way... then how is it that he can conclude that the same is true for all of Isreal without testing each of them? If Abraham is a representative sample of all of Isreal... how did the god know this without testing them all? Maybe Abraham was the only Isrealite that would have done that. Also, why was it necessary to punish generations of Isrealites for one person's - or even one generation's - flaw (and if the answer is because the god would have known the flaw existed in subsequent generations, then clearly the god can know these things without requiring testing)? How exactly was Isreal supposed to learn the lesson not to blindly obey when they were "rescued" from Egypt by blindly obeying both God and Moses? And so on and so forth.

Again, i think you'll find that if we trace these questions far enough, eventually you'll get to a point where you "just trust" that the answer is so. On some level, you're doing that already. There is absolutely no indication that Isreal was being punished for Abraham's actions. You "just trust" that it is so.

And like i said, that's fine. But you're "just trusting" the god when it's convenient for you and assuming divine dishonesty when it's not. You trust that even though the god rained down generations of suffering on its "chosen people", the ultimate motivation for that was benevolent. But when it comes to torturing your mother... nope, that has to be a test. i'm not seeing it.

Eyvind wrote:
Where do you get “outsmarted” from? Giving the correct answer to a test is not “outsmarting” the test-administrator. Test-taking students don’t show that they “know better” than their teacher when they work out problems on tests, but rather they illustrate that they’ve learned something. I still can’t see how using my brain to interpret the revelation implies that I think I’m smarter than my gods. My gods gave me the ability to reason and it is unreasonable to assume that they wouldn’t expect me to exercise that ability.

Where do you get "test" from?

The situation is not a testing situation until you determine it to be so. If you had a teacher who was trying to instruct you in some topic and they told you a fact that seemed to contradict what you had been told before, why would you assume that you were being tested? Perhaps your understanding was simply not sufficient to grasp the full concept before now. Perhaps you simply misunderstood before... or even now. Perhaps there is no contradiction! and part of the lesson is understanding this.

The way i see it is if you had a teacher that you believed was a master of the topic and who genuinely wanted you to learn it well, and if that teacher presented you with a contradiction, the first logical step to take is to ask a question. If the teacher then tells you "that is not for you to know now", then what do you do.

According to you, you tell the teacher: "Ha ha, you're trying to trick me! This is a test! So what i'm going to do is ignore what you're saying now and go by what you taught me before."

According to me, you tell the teacher: "Alright, i'll trust you for now because you know the topic better than me and have my best interests at heart. Hopefully the reason will be clear to me later."

Which sounds more rational to you?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
The god doesn't need to be omniscient, and he doesn't need to have absolute divine authority. If he is reasonably smarter than you, and if he is reasonably more benevolent than you... then you would quite literally be an idiot not do what he tells you to do. i mean, if this being - it doesn't even need to be a god - is smarter and more benevolent than you... why wouldn't you do what it tells you to do?


Doesn’t need to be a god? Ok:

Well I can tell you for sure that a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist is smarter than me. Should I follow what they tell me to do blindly? Ok, right, they don’t have enough authority for that (though they may be benevolent). To make a more appropriate analogy I’ll concede that a good number political leaders are smarter than me. They have brains and authority (and perhaps even benevolence towards their community – though political cynics will likely debate that Very Happy ). Should I follow their directives without question? By your logic then, the Nazi’s who refused to follow Hitler’s commands during WW2 were idiots?

You're going to have to explain your logic to me. i'm unclear on why you think that it would be rational to trust an expert in a specific field on every random topic that comes up.

If a brain surgeon tells you that something about brain anatomy is so that seems to contradict your understanding, then yes, i would say trust them without question (assuming that you have reason to believe they are a benevolent brain surgeon of course). Doesn't that makes sense? But if they tell you something about house construction that seems to contradict your understanding... why exactly do you think you should "blindly" follow them?

Same goes with political leaders. If you can find something that they know better than you - which is not necessarily the case, because politics is not a field that requires intelligence to succeed in - and if you have reason to assume benevolence, then yes, trust them in that field. But i'm unclear on why you think that that necessitates trusting them "blindly" in every field.

Same goes with Hitler. If you had some reason to assume Hitler's benevolence (which, given his own writings, is clearly not the case - you could trust that he will do (what he thought) was best for Germany... not you... and it would be up to you to decide whether what's best for Hitler's idea of Germany is best for you), and if you had some topic that Hitler was an expert on (for example, he may have been a wackjob when it came to "racial science" and an idiot with military matters, but he was a brilliant political scientist... of sorts), then by all means, trust Hitler on that topic. If Hitler says the best way to build a cohesive and productive society is by convincing the masses that they are threatened by some enemy, i'd say trust him on that (again, assuming you have reason to believe his benevolence and competence). But Hitler was no historian or biologist... so... why would the average German be an idiot for not swallowing his racial theories? He was also no military genius, so why would the average German be an idiot for not trusting his military strategies? You're going to have explain those things to me.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
You change the example in a very self-serving way to avoid the problem.


That’s the nature of the game isn’t it? We put forth analogies to try and support our own ideas while at the same time looking for flaws in other people’s analogies. Wink

The down-side is that we keep building/renovating our analogies until we have a complete, detailed scenario that often either becomes a discussion point in its own right or becomes so convoluted that the value of the original analogy is lost. Very Happy But I digress...

Technically no, that's not the nature of the game. You build/renovate your own analogies, not the other person's. You answer the other person's analogy, either by explaining how your idea works with the analogy or by showing that the analogy is flawed. If you can do neither, then there is a problem with your idea.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
But alright. i'll allow it. Yes, i will allow the strange situation as you have described it. Because, as you will discover, the changes you made are not good enough.

So, once again, from the top. You are a child, and your parents have told you to never, ever press the red button. Never. You saw your friend do it once, and get jabbed by the pin in the button. You can still see the pin there.

Now, one night, without any warning or explanation, your parent suddenly says to you, "Go, push the red button." Of course, you ask "why?" Your parent answers, "i cannot explain it to you because it is not for you to know right now. i have told you to push the red button. Go, push it now!" You reply, "But i will get stuck by the pin!" Your parent replies, "You must do it anyway. i have told you to go do it, go do it."

What do you do?


You’ve added urgency to the scenario but nothing to alleviate the mystery or “badness”. You’ve given the child nothing and so can not blame the child for refusing. Plus now you’ve given the child the added concern that you don’t care about his/her pain! Poor kid…

And anyway, if it’s something really that important but something so complicated or so secret that it prohibits an explanation to the child, then it’s probably not a suitable task for the child and should be looked after by the parent. Very Happy

Actually, if you read the original analogy, the urgency was there to begin with. And i was quite intentional about not eliminating the mystery or the badness because both exist in reality. Is it so strange that we don't completely understand what is going on around us? Hardly. Is it so strange that many things we must do are painful? Nope, quite common, actually.

You're still avoiding the question. i put that bizarre pin thing in there (even though it makes no rational sense - who would make a button with a pin in it like that? - there are certainly buttons that have bad consequences when pressed... but that pin thing is just weird) and you still can't say for certain that the child should not press it when told to. Instead you're equivocating with the new idea that it's beyond the child's capability. Nonsense. It's a button. Any fool child can push a button. The child does not need to know what the button does or why in order to be able to push a button. Sure they can know that the button has normally bad consequences and thus they should not push it, but if they are told that they must do it... why is it beyond their capability?

So, i say again. Same analogy, complete with that weird pin. Should the child push the button? Or refuse? Is it rational for the child to assume the parent is "testing" them, as you claim?
EanofAthenasPrime
Oh my God, you really should write a book instead of posting such long replies. Smile
polis
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


If GOD tells you to blow up the WTC, would you?
Think twice.
Eyvind
Indi wrote:

While it's all certainly true that it's possible to determine morality objectively - without the need for divine command - that still doesn't excuse ignoring a deity when they tell you that some moral fact is true... even if that fact contradicts your own understanding. Why? Because doing so - whether you like to admit it or not - is effectively saying that your understanding of morality is better than the deity's.


This does not necessarily follow. Disregarding the unexplained command doesn’t mean “knowing better” but simply means knowing “something”. My “gods-given” rational faculty combined with the “something” I know justifies questioning the directive.

Quote:
Why do i keep insisting this? Because you keep saying that when the deity's word contradicts what you know, you can conclude that the deity is lying to you (to "test" you). What does that mean, in plain English? It means that you have been presented with two contradicting facts - the word of a god vs. your own understanding.


Yes.

Quote:
Up to this point, you have no reason to believe that the deity would lie to you. Your argument, really, is that the fact that the contradiction exists is proof enough that the deity is lying.


No. The fact that the contradiction exists AND is not explained is what allows me to conclude that the command is a test.

Quote:
Or in other words, that you are so certain of your own understanding that even when you are presented with contradictory evidence by a god, you can safely rely on it and ignore the god. Because your understanding of morality has to be right, the god must therefore be wrong.


No. Again, it’s because the god doesn’t explain the contradiction. Rational creatures need this if they are expected to act against the morals they have built up over their lifetime. Otherwise they are being asked to do it on faith… blind faith. You call it “rational trust” (below) but I see nothing rational about blindly following (and yes, it would “blind” without an explanation) such a drastic contradiction.

Quote:
But you surely know that there are cases when those... whatever you want to call them... suggestions?... are not what is best for the community. When one person is hoarding food that could help the whole community survive in a time of drought, the... suggestion... to not steal will kill everyone but the hoarder. That's clearly not best for the community. When invading barbarians are going to genocide your entire race out of existence, the "suggestion" to not kill becomes downright dysfunctional.

So clearly those "suggestions" are not absolutes. There exist cases when they can be overidden.

Now, you have a deity that has your best interests at heart and knows much more than you do, and that deity tells you to ignore one of those "suggestions" and instead follow his immediate instructions. If it were true that those "suggestions" were absolutely and universally valid, then yes, you would have a good case for ignoring the deity.

But they're not. So by what logic do you conclude that this is not a case where the situation demands that those "suggestions" be ignored?


It may very well be a case where those suggestions are meant to be ignored. But then the deity should know that we rational mortals need a bit more to go on than just “do it”.

Quote:
Maybe the deity is aware of some danger that you are not, and is attempting to save you - had they not stepped in, you would have continued following the "suggestions" which would lead to your demise, which is why the deity has intervened and said "forget the suggestions, trust me".


Fair enough, but then if they’re stepping in to save us then why would they do it half-assed like that. A rational deity would know that we need more to go on. If it was so important then he/she would quite simply give us what we need to make it happen… namely, an explanation for why the deviant command should be followed.

Quote:
i should also point out that in point of fact, it turns out that either the deity isn't benevolent at all... or your logic is wrong. You believe that if something were to the benefit of the community, it would be in everyone's best interests for the god to make it known.


Actually, no. I don’t believe that and I don’t… think… I ever said it. What I said was that if the god wants something done for the benefit of the community then he/she has to explain it properly if he/she wants it properly done. This is different from asking him to reveal everything that is good for the community as you seem to indicate I said.

Quote:
Reality disagrees. Looking back on history, it turns out that there are many things that would have been beneficial to the community to know that the deity - if one exists - simply didn't tell us. Why didn't the god tell us millenia ago about germs and bacteria? About upcoming natural disasters? About killers and terrorists in our midst? Hell, why doesn't he tell us what we need to know now to do things like cure cancer, grow enough food to prevent global starvation, and solve the population crisis?

There’s a difference between not telling us about something so that we discover it ourselves and telling us to blindly override the morals that have been a successful part of our society for hundreds of years. Remember, the god is asking us to do this. He/she is putting it on the table. We still need an explanation.

Quote:
So either the god doesn't have our best interests at heart at all... or sometimes it is in our best interests to not tell us everything.


Or they don’t know everything. Or some other god is responsible for those things and our god is not permitted to interfere on that level. Could be many things. Doesn’t change the fact that rational creatures need a satisfactory explanation if they are going to comply with an irrational command.

Quote:
The standard answer is "because he has a higher agenda that requires the suffering caused by those things". Alright, fine. Now explain why you think that suddenly doesn't apply in your specific case; why you think that when you are instructed to do something and not given a reason, suddenly there is no higher agenda that you are not ready understand.


I’d say that in one case (being tight-lipped about germs, disasters, cancer, etc.) you have a passive situation where in the other (the command to torture your mother without explanation) you have an active one. In one case the god asks nothing and does nothing. The higher agenda need not be explained because the “topic” was never broached by the god and we are not being asked to override any moral principles. In the other case the god asks something of us, warranting an explanation. You’re comparing apples and oranges here.

Quote:
i'm not sure where you come across this notion that blind obedience is what i'm talking about. As a matter of fact, i thought i was being explicitly clear that the only logical conclusion was to trust the word of the deity. Not blind obedience, rational trust.

The argument goes: the deity has your best interests at heart, the deity knows more than you, thus when the deity tells you to do something, how is it logical to suddenly assume that the deity is trying to deceive you or that you know more than the deity? It isn't. Thus you should do what the deity says. There's no blind obedience there, it's a perfectly rational trust in an instrument (the god) that is always more reliable than your own senses.

Now, the issue i'm having here is how you know it's a lie. Sure, if you could determine it's a lie, then you would be perfectly justified in ignoring it. But how - precisely - do you make that determination?

Your answer seems to be that you assume your own understanding of the universe (and the deity) is so solid that even when contradicted by the word of a deity, you can trust it more than the deity.


My understanding of the universe (and the deity) has been reinforced by years of consistent patternings. To expect a rational being to blindly ignore that and follow a deviant pattern is not only irrational but also unnatural. I believe a deity would know this.

Quote:
My response is that that's bunk. You cannot possibly understand a god that well - no one does. No one can explain why a god would create as much pain and suffering as exists.


Who says pain and suffering were created by the same god that told you to torture your mother?

But anyway, gods are much more difficult to understand than people, true. However this doesn’t mean we can’t apply what we do know about them to our interaction with them… in fact, this is actually a rather important aspect, for otherwise how are we to know that we are even dealing with our god and not an impostor? Our past experiences are key.

Quote:
They can try to offer rationalizations about sufferning being required to teach some lesson... but then can't explain the lesson or why it must be taught. Eventually every discussion about the characteristics of a god will boil down to the fact that you simply trust them... that there are aspects of the universe and the god that you just don't understand, but nevertheless you trust that there are valid reasons for them to be as they are.

And that's fine. That's a perfectly valid thing to do. After all, if you really believe that the god is benevolent, then it only makes sense to assume that when something appears to be nasty, there must be some ultimate, underlying benevolent reason for it to exist by necessity.

What i don't get is how you can go from that trust most of the time to suddenly throwing it away when you are given an order that seems to contradict what you understand about the universe. i mean, we've already established that you can't know everything about the universe or the god, but that you trust the word of your god. But then all of a sudden you do know so much about the god that you can conclude that it's lying. So... what exactly is the nature of this trust? Do you really trust the god, or do you only trust your conception of the god?


I’m not throwing anything away. I do trust the god. But the unexplained deviant behaviour sends a signal that rational people are meant catch. This signal is a message, not in words, but a message nonetheless. Does the deity need to speak in words? Are words the only way gods communicate?

Quote:
That's one possible interpretation i suppose. Creates a whole new slew of problems, of course. If the god needs to test Abraham to learn that he is... flawed?... in this way... then how is it that he can conclude that the same is true for all of Isreal without testing each of them? If Abraham is a representative sample of all of Isreal... how did the god know this without testing them all? Maybe Abraham was the only Isrealite that would have done that. Also, why was it necessary to punish generations of Isrealites for one person's - or even one generation's - flaw (and if the answer is because the god would have known the flaw existed in subsequent generations, then clearly the god can know these things without requiring testing)? How exactly was Isreal supposed to learn the lesson not to blindly obey when they were "rescued" from Egypt by blindly obeying both God and Moses? And so on and so forth.


To answer the first question: I actually always figured that YHWH did test many of his people. Abraham’s version is the only one that was documented. No proof, of course, though a case might be made for multiple testings over time when considering the similarities of some of the Hebrew tales with the older Babylonian ones. It’s possible they could be more than just retellings… actual individual instances that have been repeated over time… such as the flood story.

To answer the second question: The lesson was not to “not blindly obey” but to pay more attention to family and community. Something that enslavement “together” in a foreign country would certainly foster.

Quote:
Again, i think you'll find that if we trace these questions far enough, eventually you'll get to a point where you "just trust" that the answer is so. On some level, you're doing that already. There is absolutely no indication that Isreal was being punished for Abraham's actions. You "just trust" that it is so.

And like i said, that's fine. But you're "just trusting" the god when it's convenient for you and assuming divine dishonesty when it's not. You trust that even though the god rained down generations of suffering on its "chosen people", the ultimate motivation for that was benevolent. But when it comes to torturing your mother... nope, that has to be a test. i'm not seeing it.


It’s not a matter of it being convenient or not. It’s a matter of taking a rational being and trying to override years of consistent patternings without explanation. That’s what I’m not seeing.


Quote:
Where do you get "test" from?

The situation is not a testing situation until you determine it to be so. If you had a teacher who was trying to instruct you in some topic and they told you a fact that seemed to contradict what you had been told before, why would you assume that you were being tested?


Actually, I use this technique for testing children all the time. It’s an effective way to check and reinforce knowledge. After studying flashcards of animals for several months I might hold up a picture of an elephant and say “Hey guys! Here’s a picture of a monkey.” The kids know it isn’t and correct me. It would take more than one simple statement for me to override their previous learning. Now, if I were to tell them “Look guys, I know I told you this was an elephant before, but scientists have been studying it and they found that actually it’s a different kind of animal and now everyone is calling it a “phantele””, then they’d be more receptive to the change. Even more so if I continued from then on to call it by the new name.

Quote:
Perhaps your understanding was simply not sufficient to grasp the full concept before now. Perhaps you simply misunderstood before... or even now. Perhaps there is no contradiction! and part of the lesson is understanding this.


Then the god needs to help override all the old knowledge... else it can’t be that important to comply. If it’s not that important to comply then it must be a test.

To expect a rational creature to comply with an irrational command without rationalizing it somehow is, well, irrational… and therefore suspect. This is strengthened by the presumption that it is this very god (or a compatriot of the god) that gave us the quality of rational thought.

Quote:
The way i see it is if you had a teacher that you believed was a master of the topic and who genuinely wanted you to learn it well, and if that teacher presented you with a contradiction, the first logical step to take is to ask a question. If the teacher then tells you "that is not for you to know now", then what do you do.

According to you, you tell the teacher: "Ha ha, you're trying to trick me! This is a test! So what i'm going to do is ignore what you're saying now and go by what you taught me before."


Actually, it’d be more like, “That don’t jive man. What’s up with that? You just told me the world was square! Can you explain it a bit more? Give me a hand to figure this out? …What’s that you say? No? Ah, then this must be a test.”

Quote:
According to me, you tell the teacher: "Alright, i'll trust you for now because you know the topic better than me and have my best interests at heart. Hopefully the reason will be clear to me later."


I would be very disappointed in my students if they let me call an elephant a monkey without questioning (overriding, if you prefer) it. Either that or I’d be disappointed in myself for not teaching it to them better in the first place.

Quote:
You're going to have to explain your logic to me. i'm unclear on why you think that it would be rational to trust an expert in a specific field on every random topic that comes up.


That’s an artful (sneaky?) bit of rhetoric there my friend. Did I really give the impression that I think “it would be rational to trust an expert in a specific field on every random topic that comes up”? My comments were posed as questions to you. In fairness though, I did not, indeed, make it clear that I was talking about experts working in their field. I guess I should have explained that.

But what I was trying to get at was when an expert in the field says or does something out of character with what we would expect. This is something you touched on below… let’s go with the brain surgeon metaphor:

Quote:
If a brain surgeon tells you that something about brain anatomy is so that seems to contradict your understanding, then yes, i would say trust them without question (assuming that you have reason to believe they are a benevolent brain surgeon of course). Doesn't that makes sense? But if they tell you something about house construction that seems to contradict your understanding... why exactly do you think you should "blindly" follow them?


(Just for the record, again your rhetoric here is disappointing. There’s nothing at all in my above statements that implies I felt we should “blindly” follow anyone. In fact, you are well aware that I am against that sort of thing. Those were questions directed at you in response to your logical conclusion that a command from a more intelligent, benevolent authority figure should be followed without question.)

If a prominent brain surgeon told you that banging your head really, really hard with a hammer three times a day would help cure the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease, would you do it? Probably not, right? Why? Because said brain surgeon would be contradicting what we know to be good common sense. He/she is contradicting our (yes, ok, limited) understanding of the field of medical science. Now if he explained it in detail, and provided rationalisations for the suggested action, then one might be more tempted to consider it. In other words, his explanation aids us in overriding what we have built up over the years.

Quote:
Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
You change the example in a very self-serving way to avoid the problem.


That’s the nature of the game isn’t it? We put forth analogies to try and support our own ideas while at the same time looking for flaws in other people’s analogies. Wink

The down-side is that we keep building/renovating our analogies until we have a complete, detailed scenario that often either becomes a discussion point in its own right or becomes so convoluted that the value of the original analogy is lost. Very Happy But I digress...

Technically no, that's not the nature of the game. You build/renovate your own analogies, not the other person's. You answer the other person's analogy, either by explaining how your idea works with the analogy or by showing that the analogy is flawed. If you can do neither, then there is a problem with your idea.


My apologies then, Indi. I’m still new to this and have never had any training in debate style. I’ll try to avoid doing that in the future.

Quote:
You're still avoiding the question. i put that bizarre pin thing in there (even though it makes no rational sense - who would make a button with a pin in it like that? - there are certainly buttons that have bad consequences when pressed... but that pin thing is just weird) and you still can't say for certain that the child should not press it when told to.


Who would make a button with a pin in it like that? Makes no rational sense? Well, who would tell me to torture my mother? The pin being irrational was kinda the whole point (pardon the pun Very Happy ).

Quote:
Instead you're equivocating with the new idea that it's beyond the child's capability. Nonsense. It's a button. Any fool child can push a button. The child does not need to know what the button does or why in order to be able to push a button. Sure they can know that the button has normally bad consequences and thus they should not push it, but if they are told that they must do it... why is it beyond their capability?


I don’t think I ever said it was beyond their capability, just as it is not beyond the capability of someone to torture their mother. Any fool child could push a button indeed. But that’s the point. Children aren’t fools. And because they aren’t fools they deserve an explanation as to why they must push it… they need help overriding what they already know to be common sense.

Quote:
So, i say again. Same analogy, complete with that weird pin. Should the child push the button? Or refuse? Is it rational for the child to assume the parent is "testing" them, as you claim?


That is the child’s decision… If I were that child, though, I’d say, “Darn it Mom, you gotta do better than that. Why? Why? Why?”

Take care,
Eyvind
Indi
Eyvind wrote:
Indi wrote:

While it's all certainly true that it's possible to determine morality objectively - without the need for divine command - that still doesn't excuse ignoring a deity when they tell you that some moral fact is true... even if that fact contradicts your own understanding. Why? Because doing so - whether you like to admit it or not - is effectively saying that your understanding of morality is better than the deity's.


This does not necessarily follow. Disregarding the unexplained command doesn’t mean “knowing better” but simply means knowing “something”. My “gods-given” rational faculty combined with the “something” I know justifies questioning the directive.

Questioning the command means knowing "something". Disregarding the command means knowing better. There is a huge difference between questioning the command to torture your mother (something that i have been insisting on all along, yet you keep missing - as i'll show below) and disregarding that command. The fact of the contradiction between what you've always known as moral and what the deity asks is plenty enough to validate questioning the command. It is not nearly enough to validate ignoring the command and refusing to do it, because that means you are asserting that you know more than the deity and can therefore overrule its commands.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Up to this point, you have no reason to believe that the deity would lie to you. Your argument, really, is that the fact that the contradiction exists is proof enough that the deity is lying.


No. The fact that the contradiction exists AND is not explained is what allows me to conclude that the command is a test.

Which is a short way of saying that you believe that since you have been given no explanation, none exists. But you have no reason to assume that - there is no reason to believe that any god is obligated to tell you anything, and when they do decline to tell you something, there is no reason to assume that the reason they chose not to tell you was to decieve or "test" you. Maybe there is not enough time to explain the situation. Maybe knowing the full truth would require telling you far more than you can be safely told without endangering the larger plan. Maybe it's simply beyond your understanding. You are assuming deception randomly, without any rational basis for doing so. You know the god has your best interests at heart. So why assume that just because you are being kept in the dark, it must be in order to deceive you for the purposes of a test? You have no rational reason to assume that unless you consider the deity untrustworthy... which is against the conditions i have been pushing all along (that you believe that the deity is more aware than you, and that it is trustworthy).

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Or in other words, that you are so certain of your own understanding that even when you are presented with contradictory evidence by a god, you can safely rely on it and ignore the god. Because your understanding of morality has to be right, the god must therefore be wrong.


No. Again, it’s because the god doesn’t explain the contradiction. Rational creatures need this if they are expected to act against the morals they have built up over their lifetime. Otherwise they are being asked to do it on faith… blind faith. You call it “rational trust” (below) but I see nothing rational about blindly following (and yes, it would “blind” without an explanation) such a drastic contradiction.

Blind trust does not mean that you don't have all the information, it means you don't have any. You have a lot of information: you know the god is far more knowledgable than you, you know the god has your best interests at heart, and more. You may not have all the information, but you have plenty enough to make a rational decision. Therefore, despite your claims, it is not blind trust.

As a matter of fact, the information you have is plenty enough to lead you to a specific rational decision - the decision to trust the god and do what you're told. The only reason you are finding otherwise is because you're adding your own unwarranted assumptions. You have decided that because the god will not explain everything to you, they must be hiding something - and furthermore, what they must be hiding is that they're testing you. There is absolutely no justification for those assumptions.

i find it really interesting how it is "blind" when i trust in the knowledge and goodness of the god, but not "blind" when you assume deception without justification (other than that the god's current behaviour doesn't match what you you feel it should be). Why am i blind to trust in those things that are known unquestionably about the deity, but you are not to trust in a hunch you have about it?

Eyvind wrote:
Fair enough, but then if they’re stepping in to save us then why would they do it half-assed like that. A rational deity would know that we need more to go on. If it was so important then he/she would quite simply give us what we need to make it happen… namely, an explanation for why the deviant command should be followed.

What more explanation do you need? "You know i love you, you know i'll always do what's best for you, you know that i am aware of things that you cannot be... so just trust me when i say this must be done." Isn't that enough? Are you seriously going to stand before the god and say, "No, it's not enough that you love me and that you know far more than i ever can, i don't like the way you're acting - it's not the way i feel you should act. Therefore, i won't do it."

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
So either the god doesn't have our best interests at heart at all... or sometimes it is in our best interests to not tell us everything.


Or they don’t know everything. Or some other god is responsible for those things and our god is not permitted to interfere on that level. Could be many things. Doesn’t change the fact that rational creatures need a satisfactory explanation if they are going to comply with an irrational command.

Whoa whoa! Who said the command was irrational? The command does not match what you think is the moral thing to do in that situation. But that does not make it irrational. There may be a very rational reason for doing it. The deity is aware of more than you and it has your best interests at heart... and it says it's rational. What evidence do you have to claim otherwise? You don't know more than the deity, therefore you cannot make that claim.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
i should also point out that in point of fact, it turns out that either the deity isn't benevolent at all... or your logic is wrong. You believe that if something were to the benefit of the community, it would be in everyone's best interests for the god to make it known.


Actually, no. I don’t believe that and I don’t… think… I ever said it. What I said was that if the god wants something done for the benefit of the community then he/she has to explain it properly if he/she wants it properly done. This is different from asking him to reveal everything that is good for the community as you seem to indicate I said.

Quote:
Reality disagrees. Looking back on history, it turns out that there are many things that would have been beneficial to the community to know that the deity - if one exists - simply didn't tell us. Why didn't the god tell us millenia ago about germs and bacteria? About upcoming natural disasters? About killers and terrorists in our midst? Hell, why doesn't he tell us what we need to know now to do things like cure cancer, grow enough food to prevent global starvation, and solve the population crisis?

There’s a difference between not telling us about something so that we discover it ourselves and telling us to blindly override the morals that have been a successful part of our society for hundreds of years. Remember, the god is asking us to do this. He/she is putting it on the table. We still need an explanation.

[Reordered this part because it deals with the same issues as the next.]

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
The standard answer is "because he has a higher agenda that requires the suffering caused by those things". Alright, fine. Now explain why you think that suddenly doesn't apply in your specific case; why you think that when you are instructed to do something and not given a reason, suddenly there is no higher agenda that you are not ready understand.


I’d say that in one case (being tight-lipped about germs, disasters, cancer, etc.) you have a passive situation where in the other (the command to torture your mother without explanation) you have an active one. In one case the god asks nothing and does nothing. The higher agenda need not be explained because the “topic” was never broached by the god and we are not being asked to override any moral principles. In the other case the god asks something of us, warranting an explanation. You’re comparing apples and oranges here.

No i'm not. ^_^ But this is an excellent example of what i was talking about before - how these ideas that you're using to define the deity are all internal to you and have no relation to any external deity at all.

You have managed to somehow rationalize the fact that all sorts of misery and suffering exists even though there's a deity out there who cares. i don't know how, and it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you have somehow accepted that all those horrible things can exist and the deity can still be good. Or in other words, you have rationalized some reason why the deity does not or cannot stop the horrors we witness every day from happening. i'm going to assume you haven't been hearing any divine voices talking to you, so you didn't get the explanation for how this could be so from the deity. God hasn't given you any explanation for why those horrors exist, and the fact that God doesn't seem to be stopping them is contrary to the alleged character of God... yet you trust that there must be a reason.

So what do we have here? We have a situation where the actions of the deity do not match the alleged character of the deity, and no good explanation for this has been given to you by the deity. Yet you trust the deity - you trust that even though you haven't been given any explanation why a good and loving god would allow cancer to exist (or any other such atrocity), that there must be an explanation.

And then there's this specific case. We have a situation where the actions of the deity do not match the alleged character of the deity, and no good explanation for this has been given to you by the deity. Yet you do not trust the deity - you assume that the deity is lying to you, and that this is a test.

The attempt to rationalize the dichotomy by calling one case "passive" and the other "active" is a forced distinction that has no real relevance (even if the one case is "passive", it's still a serious contradiction that requires you to put your trust in the alleged nature of the deity despite the outward appearance of their actions). The only functional distinction between the two cases is that you have rationalized internally that it's ok to trust that things like cancer can exist and the deity can still be "good", but you have not rationalized a way for it to be ok to trust a command to torture someone because the idea of torture is too abhorrent to you to believe it can come from a "good" god. There is no real logic involved in making that distinction - one case is ok with your sensibilities (a deity sitting back and doing nothing as millions and millions suffer and die horribly throughout the ages) while the other is not (torturing someone).

Speaking as an external observer for whom both cases are abhorrent, i don't see any distinction. In both cases, the deity is asking you to trust in what you know about its nature - whether implicitly or explicitly makes no real functional difference - and believe it when it says that those horrible things are necessary for some unexplained reason. If you can trust that there's a good reason for cancer to exist (and all of those other innumerable atrocities), then what possible reason is there to not trust that there's a good reason to torture your mother? There is none. It's just that you're comfortable with one and not the other.

Eyvind wrote:
My understanding of the universe (and the deity) has been reinforced by years of consistent patternings. To expect a rational being to blindly ignore that and follow a deviant pattern is not only irrational but also unnatural. I believe a deity would know this.

You're going to have to explain this logic. Presumably we're both living in the same universe. In my universe, there is almost universal suffering and misery. People get tortured every day in some parts of the world, and the deity - should one exist - does nothing to stop it. In fact, various tyrannical regimes that regularly torture anyone who they feel the need to have existed for decades. The deity seems to be ok with allowing those regimes to exist, and those tortures to persist. And that's just political torturing! Leave us not forget all the torturing that goes on for fun in this universe we both live in!

All of those things seem to be just fine with the deity. He let Natascha Kampusch be tortured for almost a decade, doing nothing. Same for Sano Fusako. And many, many more. i am seeing consistency... but apparently not the same consistency you're seeing.

i have to ask the question... is torturing your mother against the deity's character... or yours? You see, despite your claims, there is no real evidence that shows that this request is so diametrically opposed to the deity's characteristics. It is, as i keep pointing out, opposed to yours. But then, that means that you are putting what you think the deity should be or do over and above what the deity is actually doing. Is that wise?

Eyvind wrote:
Who says pain and suffering were created by the same god that told you to torture your mother?

Doesn't matter if they were created by the same god or not. What matters is that the god has not explained them (unless he's speaking directly to you, of course, giving you the lowdown)... yet you trust that an explanation exists.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
That's one possible interpretation i suppose. Creates a whole new slew of problems, of course. If the god needs to test Abraham to learn that he is... flawed?... in this way... then how is it that he can conclude that the same is true for all of Isreal without testing each of them? If Abraham is a representative sample of all of Isreal... how did the god know this without testing them all? Maybe Abraham was the only Isrealite that would have done that. Also, why was it necessary to punish generations of Isrealites for one person's - or even one generation's - flaw (and if the answer is because the god would have known the flaw existed in subsequent generations, then clearly the god can know these things without requiring testing)? How exactly was Isreal supposed to learn the lesson not to blindly obey when they were "rescued" from Egypt by blindly obeying both God and Moses? And so on and so forth.


To answer the first question: I actually always figured that YHWH did test many of his people. Abraham’s version is the only one that was documented. No proof, of course, though a case might be made for multiple testings over time when considering the similarities of some of the Hebrew tales with the older Babylonian ones. It’s possible they could be more than just retellings… actual individual instances that have been repeated over time… such as the flood story.

To answer the second question: The lesson was not to “not blindly obey” but to pay more attention to family and community. Something that enslavement “together” in a foreign country would certainly foster.

Yet again, things that you believe to be true based on absolutely no real evidence at all... but only because they match what you believe to be true about the nature of the deity and its interactions with its subjects. Do you see a pattern here? That what you're using to determine what's logical and what's not is based on what you feel should be, but not on any real basis in the external world at all? You're literally making up reasoning that allows you to conclude whatever you want to conclude about the deity. Cancer exists, no excuse given... yet you trust that there must be a good reason (for example, you made up the idea that maybe a different god was responsible for that than the one you trust). Isrealites unfairly punished, no explanation given... so you make up a theory about how other undocumented tests took place and that enslavement was good for the people. Request to torture mother, no excuse given... so you make up the idea that it must be a test, because your god would never make such a request.

There is no end to this game. If you want to believe something you can make up theories for how it can possibly be that way forever, regardless of whether there is any justification for those theories or not. You want to believe the deity is good - and you have your own, internal definition of what is good and what is not - so you're going to make up whatever theory you need in order to make that work in the face of contradictory evidence. But in all cases, the reasoning you're using is completely and totally internal, and the purpose of it is to keep you comfortable - regardless of what the external facts are. In other words, when the deity tells you to torture your mother, and you decide that it's just a test, you are making that decision to make yourself feel good. You're not doing it based on what would be best for the rest of the world. Do you think that is wise?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Where do you get "test" from?

The situation is not a testing situation until you determine it to be so. If you had a teacher who was trying to instruct you in some topic and they told you a fact that seemed to contradict what you had been told before, why would you assume that you were being tested?


Actually, I use this technique for testing children all the time. It’s an effective way to check and reinforce knowledge. After studying flashcards of animals for several months I might hold up a picture of an elephant and say “Hey guys! Here’s a picture of a monkey.” The kids know it isn’t and correct me. It would take more than one simple statement for me to override their previous learning. Now, if I were to tell them “Look guys, I know I told you this was an elephant before, but scientists have been studying it and they found that actually it’s a different kind of animal and now everyone is calling it a “phantele””, then they’d be more receptive to the change. Even more so if I continued from then on to call it by the new name.

No, see, you're changing the scenario to make it more palatable. Every time i have outlined the situation, i have been explicitly clear that you have already asked about the contradiction, and been told that you can't be told the reason for it. That's not what you're describing in either case.

In the first case, it's something like this:
Teacher: (showing picture of a lizard) "And this a mammal."
Student: "Isn't that a reptile?"
Teacher: "Nice catch! i'm glad someone is paying attention!" or at the very least "Whoops, wrong picture! You're right!"

In the second case, it's something like this:
Teacher: (showing picture of a dolphin) "And this a mammal."
Student: "Isn't that a fish?"
Teacher: "It looks like a fish, but it has the following characteristics that make it mammal...." (goes on to explain)

Neither is the situation that we're dealing with, which looks like this:
Teacher: (showing picture of a dolphin) "And this a mammal."
Student: "Isn't that a fish?"
Teacher: "No, it's a mammal."
Student: "But it looks like a fish."
Teacher: "Yes, but it is actually a mammal. i don't have time in this course to explain exactly why, so you'll have to trust me."

And this is the situation that you are assuming the teacher is lying to you to "test" you, but i am assuming that since they know better and are motivated to teach us correctly it's ok to trust them. If we were to have a test at the end of that class on what we had learned - before you had any chance to fact-check, of course - and we were asked whether a dolphin was a mammal or a fish, according to you we should answer "fish".

Observe:

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
The way i see it is if you had a teacher that you believed was a master of the topic and who genuinely wanted you to learn it well, and if that teacher presented you with a contradiction, the first logical step to take is to ask a question. If the teacher then tells you "that is not for you to know now", then what do you do.

According to you, you tell the teacher: "Ha ha, you're trying to trick me! This is a test! So what i'm going to do is ignore what you're saying now and go by what you taught me before."


Actually, it’d be more like, “That don’t jive man. What’s up with that? You just told me the world was square! Can you explain it a bit more? Give me a hand to figure this out? …What’s that you say? No? Ah, then this must be a test.”

And as i said in the bit right above, the very bit that you quoted: (T)he first logical step to take is to ask a question... (i)f the teacher then tells you "that is not for you to know now", then what do you do. In other words, you have already asked for an explanation and been told that you cannot be given one at the moment, either because it is beyond your grasp (maybe you don't yet have the mathematical skills to calculate that the Earth is round) or maybe the teacher just doesn't have time. So basically, this is your position:
Teacher: (showing picture of a dolphin) "And this a mammal."
Student: "That don’t jive man. What’s up with that? You just told me that things that swim in the sea and have fins and look like that are fish!"
Teacher: "No, this is a mammal."
Student: "Can you explain it a bit more? Give me a hand to figure this out?"
Teacher: "i don't have time in this course to explain exactly why, so you'll have to trust me."
Student: "…What’s that you say? No? Ah, then this must be a test."
Teacher, if it was me: (shrug) "If that's what you want to believe. We'll see how you feel about it at test time."

Do you feel comfortable with that position?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
According to me, you tell the teacher: "Alright, i'll trust you for now because you know the topic better than me and have my best interests at heart. Hopefully the reason will be clear to me later."


I would be very disappointed in my students if they let me call an elephant a monkey without questioning (overriding, if you prefer) it. Either that or I’d be disappointed in myself for not teaching it to them better in the first place.

And to repeat it again: (T)he first logical step to take is to ask a question... (i)f the teacher then tells you "that is not for you to know now", then what do you do.

The questioning has been done. i already said that. The response from the teacher was that the answer could not be explained. That's already over and done. All that remains is to decide whether that's good enough. You say no (as above). i say:
Teacher: (showing picture of a dolphin) "And this a mammal."
Student: "Isn't that a fish?"
Teacher: "No, it's a mammal."
Student: "But it looks like a fish."
Teacher: "Yes, but it is actually a mammal. i don't have time in this course to explain exactly why, so you'll have to trust me."
Student: "Well, you know more than me and there's no reason for you to lie. It's very probably true that explaining this would be too much for me to handle now. So ok."

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
You're going to have to explain your logic to me. i'm unclear on why you think that it would be rational to trust an expert in a specific field on every random topic that comes up.


That’s an artful (sneaky?) bit of rhetoric there my friend. Did I really give the impression that I think “it would be rational to trust an expert in a specific field on every random topic that comes up”? My comments were posed as questions to you. In fairness though, I did not, indeed, make it clear that I was talking about experts working in their field. I guess I should have explained that.

No, you didn't make it clear. In fact, quite the opposite. i wasn't being artful or sneaky. The examples you gave had absolutely no mention of experts working within their fields ("Well I can tell you for sure that a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist is smarter than me. Should I follow what they tell me to do blindly?"), and in fact, seemed to suggest that fields of expertise did not matter ("By your logic then, the Nazi’s who refused to follow Hitler’s commands during WW2 were idiots?").

Eyvind wrote:
But what I was trying to get at was when an expert in the field says or does something out of character with what we would expect. This is something you touched on below… let’s go with the brain surgeon metaphor:

Quote:
If a brain surgeon tells you that something about brain anatomy is so that seems to contradict your understanding, then yes, i would say trust them without question (assuming that you have reason to believe they are a benevolent brain surgeon of course). Doesn't that makes sense? But if they tell you something about house construction that seems to contradict your understanding... why exactly do you think you should "blindly" follow them?


(Just for the record, again your rhetoric here is disappointing. There’s nothing at all in my above statements that implies I felt we should “blindly” follow anyone. In fact, you are well aware that I am against that sort of thing. Those were questions directed at you in response to your logical conclusion that a command from a more intelligent, benevolent authority figure should be followed without question.)

If a prominent brain surgeon told you that banging your head really, really hard with a hammer three times a day would help cure the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease, would you do it? Probably not, right? Why? Because said brain surgeon would be contradicting what we know to be good common sense. He/she is contradicting our (yes, ok, limited) understanding of the field of medical science. Now if he explained it in detail, and provided rationalisations for the suggested action, then one might be more tempted to consider it. In other words, his explanation aids us in overriding what we have built up over the years.

(Just for the record, you were the one who used the word "blindly" ("Well I can tell you for sure that a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist is smarter than me. Should I follow what they tell me to do blindly?"). i simply repeated you. So if you find that rhetoric disappointing... well, i don't know what to tell you.)

If a brain surgeon whom i knew to be absolutely knowledgeable and trustworthy told me to do something with regards to the health of my brain, then yes, i would do it. Your silly example notwithstanding, it only makes sense to do that. Your example is clearly ludicrous and easily dismissed. Even if hitting my head with a hammer could cure Alzheimer's - something that is within a brain surgeon's field - it would probably crack my skull and leave me bleeding all over the place - things that are not within the domain of the brain. Even if i completely trusted the brain surgeon, i could simply point out that curing Alzheimer's at the expense of fracturing my skull is not a great tradeoff.

But here's the thing that you're missing. By creating that absurdly extreme example, you have missed the subtle truth behind it. Suppose that there was no danger of any of that incidental damage. Suppose that i was told to pound on my head in such a way that it would not do that other damage, just hard enough to really, really hurt without fracturing my skull or breaking the skin. With all that extreme nonsense removed, now the only thing that will get affected is my brain. i could get a concussion, so there's still risk, but now the only thing that can be helped or harmed is my brain, the domain of the brain surgeon.

And remember that in the situation we're discussing, the brain surgeon must not only be competent, he must also have my best interests at heart. Tell me why i shouldn't do what the doctor says. Experience tells me that i might get a concussion. But the brain surgeon, who knows his stuff better than me and has my best interests at heart, has told me that there is no reason to be concerned. What reason do i have for not following his advice?

The only reason you can give is that your experience says that you will get a concussion from following that advice. That would be reason enough not to take that advice from most people. But the doctor you trust - who knows better than you - says that's not a problem. Why do you think you know better?

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
You're still avoiding the question. i put that bizarre pin thing in there (even though it makes no rational sense - who would make a button with a pin in it like that? - there are certainly buttons that have bad consequences when pressed... but that pin thing is just weird) and you still can't say for certain that the child should not press it when told to.


Who would make a button with a pin in it like that? Makes no rational sense? Well, who would tell me to torture my mother? The pin being irrational was kinda the whole point (pardon the pun Very Happy ).

There is a huge difference between "irrational" and "unknown". You are confusing the two. You don't know the reason why you are being asked to torture your mother. Assuming it is irrational is not a rational thing to do. You can't know that order X is rational or irrational until you know the reason for order X. "The reason is unknown" does not imply "the reason is irrational".

So you have been given the order to torture your mother without being given a reason. That order is either rational or irrational. How do you decide which without knowing the reason? Simple. You know the deity has your best interests at heart, and you know that it's almost certain that the deity has information you don't. These are facts that you know. Given those facts, there's no reason to assume that the order is anything but rational. To assume that the order is irrational is to assume that the deity doesn't have your best interests at heart, which violates what you already know. (Because if there is no good reason for the order, the only realistic expected result is that you'll be hurt by it (arrested, etc.) - if there's a reason to believe that you won't be hurt by it, then there's obviously a rationale behind it.)

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
Instead you're equivocating with the new idea that it's beyond the child's capability. Nonsense. It's a button. Any fool child can push a button. The child does not need to know what the button does or why in order to be able to push a button. Sure they can know that the button has normally bad consequences and thus they should not push it, but if they are told that they must do it... why is it beyond their capability?


I don’t think I ever said it was beyond their capability, just as it is not beyond the capability of someone to torture their mother. Any fool child could push a button indeed. But that’s the point. Children aren’t fools. And because they aren’t fools they deserve an explanation as to why they must push it… they need help overriding what they already know to be common sense.

No, you didn't say it was beyond their capability explicitly, what you said was that if it was so "complicated" it should be the responsibility of the parent. In that, you are being disingenious. Yes, in fact, there are things that children must do that are too complex to explain to them why, including things that defy everything else they have been told. Think about that. Seriously, think about it. Can't you think of any examples? Because i can think of many.

In point of fact, children are told to do a great deal of things by their parents without any real explanation. Surely you don't deny that? Most of the time the reasoning is simply beyond the ken of the child, just like something that makes perfect sense to the deity may be completely beyond the understanding of a human being. Children generally know their parents know more than them and have their best interests at heart, and thus they trust them. By the same logic, a person that knows that their deity knows far more than them and has their best interests at heart would be wise to trust them.

Eyvind wrote:
Quote:
So, i say again. Same analogy, complete with that weird pin. Should the child push the button? Or refuse? Is it rational for the child to assume the parent is "testing" them, as you claim?


That is the child’s decision… If I were that child, though, I’d say, “Darn it Mom, you gotta do better than that. Why? Why? Why?”

And once again. As i keep saying, you've already asked. That's over and done. Question time over. You've got all the answer you're gonna get. So now you have to decide. Push it or no.

Would you like me to repeat the scenario one more time before you decide? With or without that pin, your choice. i could add all kinds of urgency to it that makes more sense than that pin if you like. That pin just makes it all weird, taking it out of the realm of the realistic, which was the point to begin with. But if you can work with that pin, go for it. If not, say so and i will rewrite it with the same sense of urgency, only realistic.
polis
LOL, it's so funny to see how this guys spend a lot of time (and don't say that you don't) trying to convince each other as if they were trying to probe something to the community and keep going, otherwise, they 'lose' their honor. Hahahaha amazing!.
Eyvind
polis wrote:
LOL, it's so funny to see how this guys spend a lot of time (and don't say that you don't) trying to convince each other as if they were trying to probe something to the community and keep going, otherwise, they 'lose' their honor. Hahahaha amazing!.



Polis,

You think I post here for your benefit? To prove something to you? Please.

I post here to learn something. This kind of discussion stimulates the mind and opens us up to new ideas. I've learned a great deal from Indi in this discussion and in other discussions on this board (though it may not show yet Very Happy ). As it turns out, it's getting harder and harder to reposte her arguements, and I'll more than likely soon have to concede that she is right. There is no "loss of honour" in this because it's not a "competition" - it's an exercise in critical thinking and communicating ideas. That's why I post here.

Why don't you join us, eh? ... You might learn something.


Indi,

Thanks for the reply. I apreciate the thought, effort (and patience) you put into your posts. I'm wrapped up in dissertation stuff at the moment so it'll be some time before I can reply. (I have one more idea I want to try out . Very Happy )

Take care,
Eyvind
Indi
Eyvind wrote:
Thanks for the reply. I apreciate the thought, effort (and patience) you put into your posts. I'm wrapped up in dissertation stuff at the moment so it'll be some time before I can reply. (I have one more idea I want to try out . Very Happy )

Oh, please, take your time - i don't mind at all waiting weeks for a good quality reply, and i certainly wouldn't want you to shirk your studies at all to reply.

And i would recommend that you don't trouble yourself with the random nonsense posted by people want to try to sound clever by mocking the honest attempts of other people to learn. Unfortunately, some people, when they feel threatened by the presence of real, deep thought - which frightens them because humans are naturally afraid of things that are completely unfamiliar to them - rather than trying to understand it and learn from it, attempt to destroy it instead by making fun of those who engage in it. "It is the prerogative of little children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the emperor remains an emperor, and the half-wit remains a half-wit."
spinout
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


To do a reflection on the origin post...
There is a point actually; to do someone a bad thing can be a blessing! Without someting bad there can be something good in a relative world. How can I be a foregiver if no one did me a bad thing!

Now, if God is good there can't be a reason to go to heaven. God let all dictators in heaven - there couldn't be a chance God did otherwise. Say that you have 10 children - 1 became a dictator n took the food from the rest - I still love all my children no matter what.
Sadow
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


I have a question for you friend Soulfire: Can God create a stone he can't lift?
Bikerman
Soulfire wrote:
Assume the existence of an omnipotent, authortitative God is true.

God manifests himself (be it dream, another person, etc.) and you are 100% sure it is God. God tells you to torture your mother to go to Heaven. Would you?

My argument:
Yes
By Divine Command Theory (DCT), God is the supreme lawmaker, and God is good. If God is good, then God's command is good, which means torturing your mother = good. So therefore, you are to obey God, and torture your mother.

The flaw with DCT is that it can make religion (or morality) arbitrary.

I am assuming someone will come from the "autonomy thesis" angle soon, I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

There is no need to reference a specific thesis or philosophical system to see why this line of argument is, as well as being irrational, deeply disturbing. Common sense tells us there is something dodgy about committing acts which are completely contrary to the tenets of a faith system, and doing so in the name of that very faith system. Logic tells us it is irrational. It is also, of course, disturbing because it is morally and logically the same sort of position taken by all maniacs who commit atrocity in the name of their faith. Soulfire as a Christian, expresses a position which is not, I believe, morally distinguishable from that of an Islamic Terrorist. It involves committing acts which are abhorrent to most people, regardless of their professed faith or lack of faith, and justifying them with a particular interpretation of a wider dogma. The Muslim terrorist can, sometimes reveal more understandable, if not forgiveable, motivations for their actions, such as hatred and anger over events in their countries by the western powers for centuries. That argument would be difficult for the US/UK zealot to claim. The point is that the zealot does not need the argument as justification once they achieve certainty because they already know they are right.
Morally we are so far off my scale in both cases that I find it hard to judge. Both are acts of atrocity in my world-view and I'm not going to start weighing atrocities, in case I get used to the idea, and start behaving as if either action were in any way defensible.

This for me is more an issue over dangers in systems of belief and thought which start from an irrational position, characterised by
"This is what is certainly true, therefore....."
rather than the rational position of
"This might be true. How do we decide/test? What else might be true?"

The first is the position of all zealots, secular and religious. Not all of them , of course, will hear God telling them to do something evil, since that requires a mentally disturbed mind I think, but the zealot has already accepted that their belief is much more important than normal questions of morality. Like most (all?) irrational systems of thought, this quickly throws up contradictions and paradoxes - illustrated here by the idea that torture is not only justified but actually required. This, remember, is a belief system which has, as arguably it's most important core value, the message of love, and holds the principle of universality to be crucial.
(The principle of universality broadly states that what is considered OK for one should be considered OK for all. It is a key component and/or consideration in systems of ethics generally, and also in development of philosophical concepts such as fairness and justice. Christianity expresses this principle in core doctrine, well known examples being 'love thy neighbour as thyself' and 'do unto others as you would have them do to you'. It is also a principle that many atheists (including me) find useful and important in developing our own systems of ethics.)

One could point out that Soulfire has misinterpreted Christianity in this interpretation of scripture, and how unreasonable the whole scenario is, but then Soulfire could, with some justification, cite the biblical story of Isaac in his defence. From this point the whole discussion is theological and to that degree subjective.

I would argue that the central problem is not one of interpretation, or even of religion per se, but the problem of certainty. A person who is certain of something is, I believe, always potentially more dangerous than one who knows that nothing is that certain. and that such degree of certainty cannot come from a purely rationalist system of thought - certainty can only arise from a belief or faith. A person who is certain of something is implicitly accepting that any and all dissenters are, quite simply, wrong, regardless of their point of view, evidence or experience.
Once a person adopts this position, it is not difficult to take the next step - they are wrong and therefore in some ways inferior or less important than those of us who are self-evidently right. From there is is easy to argue that - they are wrong and therefore dangerous.
Once this step is reached, ie - they are wrong, they are inferior and they are dangerous, ....well, I'm sure I don't have to labour this any more

Ironically this criticism is one frequently made by religious fundamentalists when talking to or about scientists. They often accuse scientists of being 'too' 'certain' that theories are right. The scientist (who is perfectly aware of the levels of certainty and uncertainty in the thing under discussion, because s/he has been doing it for some time and knows quite a lot about it, almost certainly more than the rest of the people in the discussion. S/he has also been taught and trained to understand not just that things are never certain, but to realise that the whole idea of certainty is complicated and involves some really deep questions that few people ever consider, let alone have any answers for) probably should just enjoy the rather delicious irony and smile.
(The description 'ironic' is correct here, I think, as opposed to, for example when used in Alanis Morissette's song 'ironic', which is actually an example of double irony, since it lists a string of things it says are ironic of which non actually are. Irony is the use of words which express the opposite of your real point. If you add ridicule to it you get sarcasm.
It is, in fact and quite obviously, the religious fundamentalist who has certainty, whereas the scientist's only certainty is that there is may be no certainty inherent in the universe because it is not that sort of entity, but he can't be certain about that either. The current 2 models which have survived by swallowing up the rest in physics are powerful and deep and may ultimately combine into a single theory but in considering the squishy stuff we call life, science is nowhere near that point - universes are almost certainly much simpler than life to explain and model accurately.
The religious zealot has certainty but it is based on something which cannot be tested and requires belief. The scientist will not only tell you it's possible he's wrong, he already knows s/he is at best offering a partial glimpse of a picture of reality which currently has almost nothing to say about issues concerning human interaction and may never be able to do so, or may again discover the secrets behind consciousness which may or may not them be part of a larger overall theory....I don't think so but I don't rule it out either...to do so would be irrational Smile
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
Common sense tells us there is something dodgy about committing acts which are completely contrary to the tenets of a faith system, and doing so in the name of that very faith system.

But that's not what's happening here. The rationale is entirely consistent (particularly when using divine command theory, but that's not required). The fundamental tenet of Christianity - just as with all of the Abrahamic religions - is that what God says, goes. Everything else beyond that is just a matter of what exactly it is that God says. If God says "Thou shalt not eat shrimp", then a week later says "Eat shrimp", you would not be violating your faith to eat the shrimp... the fundamental rule always applies: do what God says.

The only real challenge in any of the Abrahamic religions is determining precisely what it is that God wants you to do. If God is on record saying both "you must eat shrimp" and "you must never eat shrimp", you have to determine which currently applies to you. How you do that depends on the circumstances of the two commands.

So if you have the situation of God saying "torturing people is wrong" and then saying "torture your mother", you have to analyze the circumstances surrounding the two commands to determine which actually applies to you now. To me, it seems only logical that the command directed specifically and currently at you takes precedence over the general command that would apply in all other situations. None of that represents any kind of contradiction. God has simply given you a more specific command that overrides the general directive... but in all cases, the fundamental rule applies: do what God says.

Bikerman wrote:
One could point out that Soulfire has misinterpreted Christianity in this interpretation of scripture, and how unreasonable the whole scenario is, but then Soulfire could, with some justification, cite the biblical story of Isaac in his defence. From this point the whole discussion is theological and to that degree subjective.

i don't believe so - i don't believe that this matter boils down to theological differences or subjectivity. i also don't believe that this is a matter of faith at all (beyond a certain point), and i don't think this anything to do with zealots. It doesn't even have anything to do with Christianity specifically, but rather is a problem that is inherent in all theistic beliefs.

First, assume that the hypothetical person having this dilemma is a rational person... not a crazed zealot. Assume that he has come to the following conclusions:
  1. A god exists.
  2. The god is at least generally benevolent (at the very least, he is always trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number, even if that may mean that people must suffer from time to time - but he does not have to be omnibenevolent).
  3. The god is super-aware (he has at least as much knowledge and awareness of any human... and probably much more so - but he does not have to be omniscient).
and that he has come to those conclusions rationally. Assume they are actually true (that there really is a god with those characteristics). Assume that that god has communicated with the person, and that the person has somehow verified that it really was the god he was talking to. And, of course, assume that that god has told the person to torture their mother.

Now, what would that person - bearing in mind that they are rational, not crazed extremists that will do whatever their god says without question - decide to do?

My argument is that the person will do what the god instructs. Why? Because:
  1. The god is aware of more than the person, which means that the person is comparatively ignorant of the situation... which, in general, means that the person should defer to the expertise of the god unless there is reason to assume that the god does not have the best interests of the person at heart.
  2. The god has the best interests of everyone in general at heart... which rules out the exception mentioned above.

So you see, there is no need to fall back on faith (let alone the rabid faith of the zealot), or even divine command theory. Once you allow for the existence of a god, then if that god instructs you to torture your mother it is only rational to do what the god says. If you opt not to torture your mother, that means that either you are saying that you know better what is for the best than the god or that you do not believe that the god does not really have everyone's best interests at heart. There is no reason to assume either of those things are true... which makes refusing to torture your mother when the god tells you to irrational.
Bikerman
Indi wrote:
So if you have the situation of God saying "torturing people is wrong" and then saying "torture your mother", you have to analyze the circumstances surrounding the two commands to determine which actually applies to you now. To me, it seems only logical that the command directed specifically and currently at you takes precedence over the general command that would apply in all other situations. None of that represents any kind of contradiction. God has simply given you a more specific command that overrides the general directive... but in all cases, the fundamental rule applies: do what God says.
Good point but how do we know that God talks to believers in this way generally and whether it is therefore valid to assume a dream could represent the will of God directly communicated. God left a list of what to do/not do in the commandments and honour thy father and mother is listed. If that is to be contradicted then it is reasonable to ask if the contradiction is likely to have originated with God.
Quote:
Assume that that god has communicated with the person, and that the person has somehow verified that it really was the god he was talking to. And, of course, assume that that god has told the person to torture their mother.
This would be the key. If a theist religion, for example, had a catechism which stated that God speaks only through appointed clerics then the assumption that God had communicated to this person would have to be false.

OK....I know, I'm on dodgy ground because there IS such a tradition in Christianity so the assumption cannot be ruled invalid in this way. The point could possibly apply to some theistic religions however, so I'll make the point as a general one rather than applicable in this specific instance.
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
Indi wrote:
So if you have the situation of God saying "torturing people is wrong" and then saying "torture your mother", you have to analyze the circumstances surrounding the two commands to determine which actually applies to you now. To me, it seems only logical that the command directed specifically and currently at you takes precedence over the general command that would apply in all other situations. None of that represents any kind of contradiction. God has simply given you a more specific command that overrides the general directive... but in all cases, the fundamental rule applies: do what God says.
Good point but how do we know that God talks to believers in this way generally and whether it is therefore valid to assume a dream could represent the will of God directly communicated. God left a list of what to do/not do in the commandments and honour thy father and mother is listed. If that is to be contradicted then it is reasonable to ask if the contradiction is likely to have originated with God.
Quote:
Assume that that god has communicated with the person, and that the person has somehow verified that it really was the god he was talking to. And, of course, assume that that god has told the person to torture their mother.
This would be the key. If a theist religion, for example, had a catechism which stated that God speaks only through appointed clerics then the assumption that God had communicated to this person would have to be false.

OK....I know, I'm on dodgy ground because there IS such a tradition in Christianity so the assumption cannot be ruled invalid in this way. The point could possibly apply to some theistic religions however, so I'll make the point as a general one rather than applicable in this specific instance.

No, i agree - in all cases, i have glossed over that aspect of it by simply saying "(a)ssume that that god has communicated with the person, and that the person has somehow verified that it really was the god he was talking to". In reality, the burden of proof that should be required to verify that such a command actually came from the god is enormous. Possibly insurmountable. Still, once it has been verified that the command did in fact come from the god... it should be a no-brainer that one should follow it. Yet, there is much resistance, as you can see.

i've always had a problem with a mindset that finds it easier to believe that something incredible exists with no real tangible evidence, than that it could actually do what it's supposed to do. To me, it sounds like accepting that Santa Claus exists, then refusing to believe he drives a sleigh with reindeer... or believing that the tooth fairy exists, but then refusing to accept that it exchanges teeth for money. The Abrahamic god, if it exists, supposedly trumpets down edicts and commands to people with some regularity. At least, the bible is full of instances of it happening, as well as verses describing how the god commands mundane things to happen like the seasons to change, etc. It seems to me that once you accept that said god exists, it's not really that great a leap to believe that it might actually communicate with you - especially considering the huge number of people who claim that it happened to them. But apparently not - many people believe without question that the god exists, but insist without hesitation that anyone who says they've communicated with said god must be crazy or lying.

Go figure.
Eyvind
Ok, Indi. Two points you've made have really sunk in:

The first is that my final conclusion, that the command is a test, is flawed. I can see now that I can't logically argue that point so I have to concede it is unknowable (though I think I can still logically justify not obeying the command - see below).

The second is that I do indeed rely on a lot of internal rationalising to justify my arguments. So... I've tried to scrape my thoughts down to the bare bones, knock 'em apart and reassemble them in the simplest way I can, without all the internal rationalising (even if my logic turns out to be flawed, I hope I have succeeded in at least that).

Here goes...

(By the way, I wrote this before reading your recent exchange with Bikerman so haven't had time to digest and incorporate any of your or his comments into it. Also, I'd like to address some of the points you made in your last post to me, but it'll have to wait for a while.)


Givens relating to the deity in the context of this discussion:

    1) the deity possesses a significantly greater intelligence and has access to a much wider knowledge base than the person receiving the command
    2) the deity is benevolent towards the person receiving the command

Givens relating to the command in the context of this discussion:

    1) the command contradicts (deviates from) what the person knows to be the traditional character/nature of the deity and/or the related religion/worldview
    2) the command is a sudden revelation to the person

Premises (I hope I'm using this word/concept correctly here):

    1) the deity may intend or may not intend the receiver to obey the literal word of the command
    2) in order to obey a deviant command the person's past (cultural/religious/moral) conditioning must be overridden
    3) past conditioning can be overridden by:
      a) periods of long re-conditioning (as in re-training an animal)
      b) appeals to reason
      c) appeals to emotion
      d) the presence of unconditional trust

It necessarily follows that if the deity intends for us to obey the literal word of the command, the deity must ensure that past conditioning is overridden in some way. Thus, if the deity takes no steps to ensure that past conditioning is overridden we can conclude that obeying the literal command is not what the deity intends us to do. This would be grounds enough to justify not obeying the literal command.

So, in our situation, if we are to be logically justified in disobeying the command all we need to do is show that no steps are being taken to ensure that past conditioning is overridden.

Looking back at the premises for overriding past conditioning we see that none of them are evident in our situation:

    a) periods of long re-conditioning - not present; the command is a sudden revelation

    b) appeals to reason - not present; no explanation is given

    c) appeals to emotion - not present; no appeals to fear, greed, love or other base emotion; that is, no threat is expressed, no gift/bribe offered, etc.

    d) unconditional trust - not guaranteed (the person's trust in deity need not be unconditional trust - just as children do not unconditionally trust their parents); the deity cannot assume the presence of unconditional trust and so cannot rely on it to ensure overriding of past conditioning.

Thus, since the deity takes no steps to ensure the overriding of past conditioning we can conclude that the literal command to "torture your mother" is not what the deity intends us to do and we are justified in refusing to obey it. In fact, we would be at fault to obey it.

Now, I have to concede that this is as far as I can go. If having us obey the literal command is not the deity's intent then there must be another non-literal reason for the command else the deity's utterance serves no point. However, this other non-literal reason can not be logically deduced (which is where I got into trouble before). It can only be guessed. While I do think that a test would be the most likely, indeed there may be other reasons. For example, it could be a coded message of some sort.

How'm I doing? Is this logic any better than before?

I guess I still have to address your argument too.

Ok, here goes...

Now your argument is: If your god is more intelligent/knows more than you and he/she has your best interests at heart, and you've trusted him/her up until now then it logically follows that you should obey the command.

I've been trying to look at your logic carefully and have a few thoughts. Pardon the simplistic step-by-step description. I only include it to show you my thought process.

If we tell a computer A equals B and then tell it that C equals B, it will logically conclude that A equals C. If that is all we tell it then this works just fine.

If we change the variable labels we can produce the classic example: John is tall. A tree is tall. Therefore John is a tree. Again, if this is all we tell the computer then this works just fine. The computer only has those variables to work with.

Ok. Next, take it out of the computer into the real world. The logic breaks down completely because in the real world venue we have access to more variables than the computer did. We know that a tree is more than just tall. It's rooted, it has green leaves, etc. John likewise has other variables that make him John.

Now it seemed to me that your logic is based on only three variables, the god's superior intellect/knowledge, the god's benevolence and the person's trust in the god. The way I see it, however, there are more variables involved than just these three. The deviant nature of the command is a variable. Past conditioning is a variable. The rational and emotional faculties of humans are variables. For the above logic to be complete don't these other variables have to be factored into the equation, too? It isn't logical for us to call John a tree based on his tall-ness alone; this is because (among other things) he also walks around on two legs. Is it alright for us to call the compliance with the deity's command logically mandatory without taking into account the other variables we happen to be aware of?

Furthermore, - and I think this relates to the crux of your argument - as mentioned above, trust in deity need not be unconditional trust. Children do not trust their parents unconditionally. How many times have you seen a kid poised, immobile, at the edge of a swimming pool with daddy in the water repeating endlessly, "Come on. Jump. I'll catch you." You've been calling it rational trust (because the deity could be trusted in the past), but what I think you are describing is unconditional trust (trust regardless of the current situation). And because this trust need not be unconditional, it can not be relied upon to override the conditioning.
Related topics
Ancient Chinese Torture
His MOTHER just died :D
My list of musics
Justification for War in Iraq
land of the free uses torture
Man dates own Mother on Internet...
Conservative Christian Dictionary.
RIAA v. Computer Illiterate Mother of Five
War on Terror?
British troops abusing Iraqi Prisoners
Buddhism
TV Addiction: It's not our fault shows have gotten better ;]
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers of frihost =D
Reply to topic    Frihost Forum Index -> Lifestyle and News -> Philosophy and Religion

FRIHOST HOME | FAQ | TOS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SITE MAP
© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.