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The Extents of Faith

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  • #31
    Glad to hear my response is well received.

    There is also the fundamental nature of God, the universe, both seen and unseen (Heaven, Hell, and possibly Purgatory and Paradise, although I don't believe in the third, and find the fourth dubious and not of any great practical importance). That is much less relevant to me though. I am, as you guessed, and as I probably initially overstated, much more interested in the moral rules.
    Those areas are ones I wonder about too. There is some diversity in how they are presented and while with most of it one position isn't necessarily better than all, I do wonder what the correct approach is.

    Descriptions for now I think. Applications can come later, except as they serve as useful test cases to refine the descriptions. As such, I would submit that applications to highly theoretical cases are about as useful as stuff that many people in this forum put into practice (to one degree or another of theoretical elegance) every day.
    How theoretical would you get though? I merely ask because in all likelihood there are some circumstances that would fall into highly implausible if not impossible, some of these applying to humanity as a whole and some applying to individuals.

    For example: There should be Christians who abstain from all intoxicating drink. There should be Christians who have to have a designated driver 3 days out of the week. Ideally, both should admit, when pressed, that there particular take is not necessarily an eternal truth. More relevantly, there should be people who do things that would have horrified any of the 12 disciples, because their comprehension of physical reality was less than our own.
    Getting at the particulars of personal convictions is somewhat harder than eternal truths. For myself, I happen to struggle with the entire concept of personal convictions in the "meat offered to idols" sense since I try to align myself with the Bible but I don't really take stock of what my personal beliefs are and tend to consider violating my own set of principles to not be the same thing as violating God's but merely being inconsistent. But then I also struggle to identify what are my own personal convictions are. Most of these "convictions" are not convictions at all but in fact pragmatics.

    Good point though about how some things we feel perfectly fine doing today would have shocked the disciples but is also not immoral. For example, in western civilization it is perfectly acceptable for women to wear bikinis at the beach but I would imagine to the early disciples this would be nudity (although some Christians today would probably argue its immoral too because they believe it is immodest).

    My preliminary understanding is that it is a truly colossal undertaking to get to the level I'm thinking of on all subjects. I've been told (by just one person) that it is something, given the starting point of moral understanding that exists today even among the best of theologians, would take millions of man-hours, and, in addition, probably billions, if not trillions of dollars spent on systematic data-gathering by professionals to examine the pragmatic outcomes of certain types of behaviour plus the individual leadings of the Holy Spirit in certain cases, and deduce from that God's Will in enough precisely defined cases to back calculate to the theoretical-level rules and double-check them in that fashion.
    Hmm, something of this undertaking would also take individuals committed to finding the truth wherever it will take them and that is frankly a very hard position for most people to be in because everyone seemingly has their own pet theory that they cling to. Now, don't get me wrong, I am certainly not saying it is impossible to get at truth but discovery is easy compared to untangling bias.

    On your three proposed topics of debate--those are certainly some thorny issues indeed. Of them, the ones I will comment on is the eugenics one (I don't believe in it, aside from the abuses that always seem to arise, much like with euthanasia, as well as the fact that I think there is strong evidence to support environment and free will as having a far greater impact on life) and the detective one . Now aside from the problem you mentioned with implementing a benign version of it there is a far greater issue--the big picture impact. What I mean is that eugenics doesn't work because there are too many forces that act on us to produce the effect we set out to achieve. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to make the world better but for something this major it does argue that perhaps there are some forces humanity shouldn't mess with. This is why a utopia, while practically possible, is impossible because it would require human beings to create it and we just can't seem to be able to do that whether because of physical or mental limitations or more likely our inclination to sin.

    Re: the detective scenario--This just reminds me of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and how an angel intervened. After all, it isn't that the detective in this scenario is denying Jesus but rather that he is trying to save his friend while his friend is demonstrating his faith. Trying to save his friend through use of his skills may be in some sense be demonstrating faith in God in the same sense that Abraham had faith that God would provide another way than killing his son. In this scenario, the detective is "another way". Saving life is good and being a living witness for Christ is important. Ultimately, God knows what is in your heart even if nobody else does.
    Reducing the amount of stuff that is taken "on faith" and removing any reliance on "church tradition" of any sort (especially regardless of denomination of that tradition) as a basis for moral analysis is my goal*at this time.This thread was started in an attempt to see how strongly it could be argued that such a goal is fundamentally impossible given God's nature, and his desires for how he would relate to His People... because that is the impression that I've gotten from a lot of people I've asked for moral guidance in years past at various churches. It really made me feel like I was being told I was worthless, but I've realized I may have been making a fundamentally incorrect assumption about moral theory. Thus I came here. I was hoping to give the most erudite group of Christians I happen to know how to find a chance to at least state their case logically direct me to a still more erudite source who would be willing to talk to me... or else-wise to say "Nope, you've actually got it right, now could you please tell someone what exactly the area(s) you were investigating when the hurt occurred, at least privately, so we can try to direct you to someone who can help you gain a more rigorous understanding of the matter?"*
    By faith do you mean by taking things with a blind guess rather than the more Biblical meaning of faith as loyal trust in God. I consider faith in God to be, although of a greater degree, like faith or trust in other people. In this sense (faith as a blind guess), I can understand your contention with it because I often had tussles with that kind of "faith" which seemed like some spiritual guess work. I wanted to know why. I didn't understand how people could make assertions without anything to back it up. I think morality is something you can rationally assess because it is something happening in our world today so it can be investigated and studied. It was a relief when I came to understand that morality isn't some blind black box of mystical aether.

    This isn't a pointless question by any means, and certainly don't feel worthless for asking, frankly, it is good to be concerned with morality. As far as parsing out the particulars of morality being impossible, clearly it isn't because God knows, so its not logically impossible. Now could it be practically impossible for a human being--perhaps in the sense of getting at it 100% but I don't think it would be impossible to get at it to a reasonable degree. Compare this to figuring out the exact particulars of physical reality--clearly it is impossible to get at 100% of everything in existence (I happen to think, unless Jesus is not coming back for a really long time, that we will never map the entire universe out--every rock, planet, star, etc), but that doesn't mean we can't develop a good understanding of the universe even if we can't literally know everything about it either individually or as a species. Likewise, morality might be something like this to an extent, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore and map out as much of it as you can because that is going to be useful. Now does moral theory preclude doing this, I would tentatively argue no, although as you did indicate before, it would take a very long time to do. Now I would be interested in the counter arguments too because I don't see anything logically impossible about it nor is it irrelevant because meditating on God's expressed nature (which is in a sense what morality is, its grounded there so any rules we find are going to be essentially outworkings of His spirit) is a good thing.

    Based on this I think it would be productive to explore that area you alluded to that is troubling you the most. I think passing it onto someone privately would be the next step to go to since no obvious counter-arguments to what your proposing have, to my knowledge, been made.
    Last edited by Paula; 11-15-2014, 11:01 AM.

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    • #32
      I had something typed up here, but I find myself in need of more editing help in my continuing attempts to communicate. Unfortunately, it won't be available for another two weeks, and then I will have to actually make the revisions.

      Comment


      • #33
        Ok, I've spoken with the person advising me on communications issues. [Prayer]Daddy, please grant that it be enough.[/Prayer]

        First off, I want to apologize for going into too much depth with my analogies, especially the eugenics thing. It ended up distracting from the points I wanted to focus on.

        Secondly, a general note about myself that I originally was going to include as part of a larger conversational path that I have now been told was such a tangent:
        There is a story I heard, and it might not be true at all, but that is beside the point. It concerns the origins of the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers". Well, I heard it was back in the early days of the Salvation Army, when they were going after temperance or raising the age of consent or some such thing. It works either a lot better better as a story, or perhaps a lot worse (for reasons of stumbling ones brother, although that may be based on an understanding of psychology they didn't have at the time) if it was Temperance. Anyway, the point is that, according to this story, which may not be true at all, someone (a leader?) was in a march with the Salvation Army, and heard someone singing this new song, which was "Onward Christian Soldiers". He complimented the singer on the song, which he had never heard before, and things got around to the point where the leader type discovered that, not only did the singer himself write the lyrics, but that the tune was from a drinking song by the name of "My name is Champaign Charley". Well, a drinking song like that wasn't the sort of song that a leader of such a group could approve of in good conscience, but a bit of thinking the leader said "And why should The Devil have all the best music?" or something to that effect.

        My advisor tells me that the specific story may or may not be true, but it is certainly true that The Salvation Army did have a big marching band thing going on at one point, and they did use music from pub songs for the reasons described above.

        In my own life, I'd like to do some stealing back of some things Satan/Fallen Nature has stolen from the society(-ies) and culture(s) I inhabit.


        And now on to replying to things you said.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Glad to hear my response is well received.

        There is also the fundamental nature of God, the universe, both seen and unseen (Heaven, Hell, and possibly Purgatory and Paradise, although I don't believe in the third, and find the fourth dubious and not of any great practical importance). That is much less relevant to me though. I am, as you guessed, and as I probably initially overstated, much more interested in the moral rules.
        Those areas are ones I wonder about too. There is some diversity in how they are presented and while with most of it one position isn't necessarily better than all, I do wonder what the correct approach is.
        Descriptions for now I think. Applications can come later, except as they serve as useful test cases to refine the descriptions. As such, I would submit that applications to highly theoretical cases are about as useful as stuff that many people in this forum put into practice (to one degree or another of theoretical elegance) every day.
        How theoretical would you get though? I merely ask because in all likelihood there are some circumstances that would fall into highly implausible if not impossible, some of these applying to humanity as a whole and some applying to individuals.
        Creating "implausible" sets of circumstances is one of humanities greatnesses. The fact that we do so is part of what makes us "in God's image". For most of human history there was no scientific example (so discounting miracles and demonic acts), of a human remaining suspended above the ground with a significant gap of only air below them (but not necessarily DIRECTLY below them).

        Then somebody managed to make a hot-air balloon large enough for a human being.

        I don't even know what the date of the first hot-air balloon that WASN'T large enough for a human being was, but before that human flight was so implausible that concluding it was impossible would have been a perfectly reasonable mistake.

        Therefore, I reject "plausible" as a sufficient condition for all circumstances that an excellent moral theory must cover. To do the implausible is my goal in life, and thus to operate from a theological framework that confines itself to ordinary situations would likely be to fail at my personal mission from God.

        In fact, especially by the way a lot of people might think, I similarly reject "possible". Not as strongly, but I still reject it.

        I can only easily think of one example with any great clarity to it, and I'm afraid I must beg the indulgence of any Catholics reading this in order to present it. I'm about to go against something that I'm reasonably certain is required by Catholicism and perhaps other denominations. I simply have no other example ready to hand that I'm certain enough of my own theological knowledge to express clearly. I have no wish to argue this issue, since it is not at all germaine to the thrust of the point I'm trying to make. I do include a sub-example (God killing God in a pocket dimension) as an alternative, but that is even weirder than what I'm about to propose, and this thread has already been plagued with confusion regarding weird things.

        Q: Did Jesus have to be born of a virgin in order to save the souls of sinners?
        A: Yes.

        Q: Why?
        A: Ah, and there we begin to come to it! Certainly the facts that it was prophesied at God's command regarding the Savior he would send, and that God always keeps his word would be sufficient reason. There may or may not be other reasons.

        Q: But... what if we postulate a DIFFERENT creation, perhaps in some distant corner of our own universe that we shall never observe well before the second coming, perhaps in some area that is not part of our physical reality... but, even supposing that there exist in that place creatures in God's own image that fell from moral perfection and which he entered into the form of in order to die an atoning death that they might not be separated from him eternally (which, BTW, may require a linear time for them), what then? Even supposing that they reproduced in a manner remarkability similar to the way humans do, why could he not simply appear, never having been born (it was good enough for C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia...), or why might he not have been conceived in a manner biologically indistinguishable in its surrounding events from the conception of any of his apparent peers? In the first case, why should he even have to enter into the plane of reality of these beings? Could God the Father kill God the Son in some Nth location distinct from Heaven, Hell(s), the physical realm that Earth happens to be located in, and the theoretical realm that these theoretical beings inhabit?
        A: I don't know for sure, but my working hypothesis is "It is possible" to all of these.

        Now then, I admit to having very little knowledge of such things. Gaining it proves very difficult, and I do have other things on my plate. Many of them more mundane pragmatic concerns. But I do know that when expanding one's horizons to find the universal rules behind more situational ones it is advisable to not limit one's self to pre-existing examples. Hammer on your working hypotheses with every hammer you can find, real, potential, or, quite often, down-right impossible. Nuke the concepts from orbit... whatever survives might just be the actual truth.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        For example: There should be Christians who abstain from all intoxicating drink. There should be Christians who have to have a designated driver 3 days out of the week. Ideally, both should admit, when pressed, that there particular take is not necessarily an eternal truth. More relevantly, there should be people who do things that would have horrified any of the 12 disciples, because their comprehension of physical reality was less than our own.
        Getting at the particulars of personal convictions is somewhat harder than eternal truths. For myself, I happen to struggle with the entire concept of personal convictions in the "meat offered to idols" sense since I try to align myself with the Bible but I don't really take stock of what my personal beliefs are and tend to consider violating my own set of principles to not be the same thing as violating God's but merely being inconsistent. But then I also struggle to identify what are my own personal convictions are. Most of these "convictions" are not convictions at all but in fact pragmatics.
        I should like help in making such distinctions in my own life. It is strongly related to what I was going for here.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Good point though about how some things we feel perfectly fine doing today would have shocked the disciples but is also not immoral. For example, in western civilization it is perfectly acceptable for women to wear bikinis at the beach but I would imagine to the early disciples this would be nudity (although some Christians today would probably argue its immoral too because they believe it is immodest).
        Hmmm...

        [My advisor felt that this paragraph was very good and got to the heart of the matter]
        That example will do, at least for now. No better example comes immediately to mind, but in my eyes, it has the short-coming of the differences being grounded in social norms rather than factual truths. Now, certainly social norms could be part of it, but it rather misses the point I'm trying to make, since if a social norm is inefficient, especially if it makes Godliness harder for people in the extreme long-term (such as many of the regulations of the Pharisees may have done?) then I consider it a monster that I should consider doing my small part to slay.
        [/End of Paragraph he especially liked]

        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        My preliminary understanding is that it is a truly colossal undertaking to get to the level I'm thinking of on all subjects. I've been told (by just one person) that it is something, given the starting point of moral understanding that exists today even among the best of theologians, would take millions of man-hours, and, in addition, probably billions, if not trillions of dollars spent on systematic data-gathering by professionals to examine the pragmatic outcomes of certain types of behaviour plus the individual leadings of the Holy Spirit in certain cases, and deduce from that God's Will in enough precisely defined cases to back calculate to the theoretical-level rules and double-check them in that fashion.
        Hmm, something of this undertaking would also take individuals committed to finding the truth wherever it will take them and that is frankly a very hard position for most people to be in because everyone seemingly has their own pet theory that they cling to.
        Indeed. In the long run I should like to purge myself of that particular flaw, but it is hard to do without others who are also at least trying to move in that direction to work with.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Now, don't get me wrong, I am certainly not saying it is impossible to get at truth but discovery is easy compared to untangling bias.
        Untangling bias is especially hard for me. That is why I couldn't bear to read the thread about various means of using history to interpret The Bible. Too much name-calling between denominations, and not enough citing of things believed to be facts and logical derivation of conclusions from facts.

        That is one example of the sort of pain I've been talking about.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        On your three proposed topics of debate
        Ah! I should like to interject here to make a clarification:
        I did not propose those as topics for debate. They were intended simply as analogies for the difficulty I face in finding clear thinking on the issue I am concerned with. I apologize again for the derailment.

        Of course, I'd gladly have a go at analyzing them, but I'm fairly certain that they would each deserve their own thread if they are to be looked at in any depth...
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        --those are certainly some thorny issues indeed. Of them, the ones I will comment on is the eugenics one (I don't believe in it, aside from the abuses that always seem to arise,
        I decided, on balance, to keep the following paragraph. See earlier note about stealing back things from Satan/Evil.

        Well, yes, but I like to distinguish between fundamental flaws, and flaws of potential pragmatic application. I admitted that abuses are likely to persist as a concern, and now explicitly, although grudgingly acknowledge that such things may prevent it from being a wise course of action in all or almost all cases... but the point can never be decided with finality.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        much like with euthanasia, as well as the fact that I think there is strong evidence to support environment and free will as having a far greater impact on life)
        <Cut out further distraction on the advice of my adviser>
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        This is why a utopia, while practically possible, is impossible because it would require human beings to create it and we just can't seem to be able to do that whether because of physical or mental limitations or more likely our inclination to sin.
        Pfft...

        Show me a utopian vision, then give me a detailed plan for getting there, and I might just be in favor of it. Not because I think it would have any chance of actually creating a utopia, but because it might get us to a better place than we are now. "Aim for the stars, and you might just hit the moon."... although I'm probably miss-remembering the quote.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Re: the detective scenario--This just reminds me of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and how an angel intervened. After all, it isn't that the detective in this scenario is denying Jesus but rather that he is trying to save his friend while his friend is demonstrating his faith.
        And his own life, and making a much better shot from a purely mundanely pragmatic POV at saving the soul of his captor.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Trying to save his friend through use of his skills may be in some sense be demonstrating faith in God in the same sense that Abraham had faith that God would provide another way than killing his son.
        Well, as far as we know, Abraham had no real idea how God was going to act to achieve that goal, which rather spoils the analogy in my eyes...
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        In this scenario, the detective is "another way". Saving life is good and being a living witness for Christ is important. Ultimately, God knows what is in your heart even if nobody else does.
        "In the heart"?

        The motives of the heart were hardly my intended point of the story. They can be assumed, by default, to match the thoughts and actions I directly portrayed. Shoot, I could have had them not gagged, but in separate sound-proof cells and praying aloud to be "overheard" by the POV of the narration... except that "Holmes" would never risk giving away the game to his opponent who he was demonstrating Agape towards with his planning.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Reducing the amount of stuff that is taken "on faith" and removing any reliance on "church tradition" of any sort (especially regardless of denomination of that tradition) as a basis for moral analysis is my goal*at this time.This thread was started in an attempt to see how strongly it could be argued that such a goal is fundamentally impossible given God's nature, and his desires for how he would relate to His People... because that is the impression that I've gotten from a lot of people I've asked for moral guidance in years past at various churches. It really made me feel like I was being told I was worthless, but I've realized I may have been making a fundamentally incorrect assumption about moral theory. Thus I came here. I was hoping to give the most erudite group of Christians I happen to know how to find a chance to at least state their case logically direct me to a still more erudite source who would be willing to talk to me... or else-wise to say "Nope, you've actually got it right, now could you please tell someone what exactly the area(s) you were investigating when the hurt occurred, at least privately, so we can try to direct you to someone who can help you gain a more rigorous understanding of the matter?"*
        By faith do you mean by taking things with a blind guess rather than the more Biblical meaning of faith as loyal trust in God. I consider faith in God to be, although of a greater degree, like faith or trust in other people.
        Well, I wouldn't precisely call it any of those, although "blind guess" would be closer I think.

        Here is the thing... when someone says "I saw X happen." I generally believe them. When someone says "Y is a general principle, and I have seen proof." I strive never to believe that on matters of importance where I have doubts. Show me the raw data and/or <I honestly forget what I was going to say here>, then show me the proof in detail... or at least be able to answer any alternative hypothesis with either a proof specific to that situation from raw data, or an admission that the case is now strongly in doubt. Naturally, that doesn't apply to God directly, but sussing out his Perfect Will (as opposed to his Permissive Will) means I have to apply it to those who claim to know his will, and even the leadings of my own internal voices (one of which is hopefully the Holy Spirit).
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        In this sense (faith as a blind guess), I can understand your contention with it because I often had tussles with that kind of "faith" which seemed like some spiritual guess work. I wanted to know why. I didn't understand how people could make assertions without anything to back it up. I think morality is something you can rationally assess because it is something happening in our world today so it can be investigated and studied. It was a relief when I came to understand that morality isn't some blind black box of mystical aether.
        That sounds wonderful... can you, or someone you know aid me in making that journey?
        Originally posted by Paula View Post

        This isn't a pointless question by any means, and certainly don't feel worthless for asking, frankly, it is good to be concerned with morality. As far as parsing out the particulars of morality being impossible, clearly it isn't because God knows, so its not logically impossible. Now could it be practically impossible for a human being--perhaps in the sense of getting at it 100% but I don't think it would be impossible to get at it to a reasonable degree. Compare this to figuring out the exact particulars of physical reality--clearly it is impossible to get at 100% of everything in existence (I happen to think, unless Jesus is not coming back for a really long time, that we will never map the entire universe out--every rock, planet, star, etc), but that doesn't mean we can't develop a good understanding of the universe even if we can't literally know everything about it either individually or as a species.
        I think I can improve on that example.

        Every rock, planet, and star would be analogous to every practical case a human being will ever encounter. That is too much information. What I want is the short-cut that covers those as may of those situations as I have time that can be devoted to the study to learn. In your analogy I want to know Physics, rather than merely have a catalog of observations... but to deduce or prove such laws that govern reality, one has to work from observed facts.
        Originally posted by Paula View Post
        Likewise, morality might be something like this to an extent, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore and map out as much of it as you can because that is going to be useful. Now does moral theory preclude doing this, I would tentatively argue no, although as you did indicate before, it would take a very long time to do. Now I would be interested in the counter arguments too because I don't see anything logically impossible about it nor is it irrelevant because meditating on God's expressed nature (which is in a sense what morality is, its grounded there so any rules we find are going to be essentially outworkings of His spirit) is a good thing.

        Based on this I think it would be productive to explore that area you alluded to that is troubling you the most. I think passing it onto someone privately would be the next step to go to since no obvious counter-arguments to what your proposing have, to my knowledge, been made.
        Sorry, haven't found anyone who has proved* smart enough yet... I'd give it a shot just in case, but, once again, I must underline the hurt I've encountered in the past.
        *Some of you might very well be, but there hasn't been quite enough demonstration of that in actual practice in any particular case.

        Come on, show me what you got T-Web!

        The Goliath inside my heart needs slaying, but before I'm going to let anyone go out there with a sling, they are gonna have to give me an account of the lions they slayed with it, or at least impress me on the sling-shooting range...

        It is not Proud to give an account or demonstration of ones abilities in a case where they are needed, at least as long as one is equally Honest about the limits of one's abilities.

        Slinging-targets for those who did not preserve their lion-skins for later use as evidence available on request...
        Last edited by Draco Dei; 12-10-2014, 11:30 AM.

        Comment


        • #34
          In my own life, I'd like to do some stealing back of some things Satan/Fallen Nature has stolen from the society(-ies) and culture(s) I inhabit.
          I think if something is intrinsically good, regardless of who champions it, it is good. Its merits need to be established on its own terms.

          Therefore, I reject "plausible" as a sufficient condition for all circumstances that an excellent moral theory must cover. To do the implausible is my goal in life, and thus to operate from a theological framework that confines itself to ordinary situations would likely be to fail at my personal mission from God.
          I meant implausible in the social sense. Some things are implausible in the social or moral sense because while we are really good at inventing things we are horrible at being morally good people. Corruption is the rule, not the exception. We have to build enormous checks into our society to prevent chaos.

          That example will do, at least for now. No better example comes immediately to mind, but in my eyes, it has the short-coming of the differences being grounded in social norms rather than factual truths. Now, certainly social norms could be part of it, but it rather misses the point I'm trying to make, since if a social norm is inefficient, especially if it makes Godliness harder for people in the extreme long-term (such as many of the regulations of the Pharisees may have done?) then I consider it a monster that I should consider doing my small part to slay.
          I could be wrong so correct me if I am, but I sense you are making a hard division between social mores and moral rules. I think the reality of it is more complex--(1) there are plain eternal truths (2)there are eternal truths clothed in social mores,(3)there are social mores that are morally neutral, (4)there are social mores that are against eternal truths (these four variations represent a simplistic view of the problem).

          For example:

          1)murder (defined as the killing of an innocent human being) is wrong
          2)respecting your parents is good/how this is done is completely different depending on the society in question
          3)To denote seriousness or truthfulness Westerners like to have it in writing
          4)It is wrong to tell someone they are wrong i.e. Western tolerance value i.e. intellectual cowardice masquerading as a virtue

          It is number 4 and its close mutant cousins, those that try to smuggle in 1 and 2, that are the monsters to slay. Number 2 closely resembles it because of the cultural clothes but once you strip them off you get to the eternal moral truth. Number 4 when you strip it of its cultural tapering reveals a monster.

          I know for myself I tussle with decision making in regards to this. Is X neutral or moral? Is X an eternal truth or is it part of my personal moral framework? Is X an eternal truth or is it a clothed societal norm that masks an eternal truth and if so would it mattered if I disregarded the societal norm while keeping with the eternal truth? Is X not really a moral at all but an anti-moral trying to fool me?

          Untangling bias is especially hard for me. That is why I couldn't bear to read the thread about various means of using history to interpret The Bible. Too much name-calling between denominations, and not enough citing of things believed to be facts and logical derivation of conclusions from facts.

          That is one example of the sort of pain I've been talking about.
          There is definitely harshness in discussions. I think between Christians there should be more charity and mutual understanding. At the same time, these debates do involve eternal truths and other cosmically weighty matters that can result in an outpouring of zeal and passion.

          Ah! I should like to interject here to make a clarification:

          I did not propose those as topics for debate. They were intended simply as analogies for the difficulty I face in finding clear thinking on the issue I am concerned with. I apologize again for the derailment.
          Of course, I'd gladly have a go at analyzing them, but I'm fairly certain that they would each deserve their own thread if they are to be looked at in any depth...
          Yeah, that is one of my weaknesses--I really, really like analyzing and theorizing so once I saw those examples I just went to town.
          Show me a utopian vision, then give me a detailed plan for getting there, and I might just be in favor of it. Not because I think it would have any chance of actually creating a utopia, but because it might get us to a better place than we are now. "Aim for the stars, and you might just hit the moon."... although I'm probably miss-remembering the quote.
          You make a good point, just like trying to aim for moral perfection (while understanding it is not happening this side of eternity) will get you further than trying to maintain the status quo. Although I think in most Utopian plans there is an element of hubris that does derail it. Some Utopian visions may be achievable but may ultimately result in human misery because it would entail a 1984 style level of control.
          Well, as far as we know, Abraham had no real idea how God was going to act to achieve that goal, which rather spoils the analogy in my eyes...
          I think Abraham did though because God promised him that he would be the father of nations and as far as he knew Isaac was the promised child given to him in his old age so if Isaac died his nation would die with him.
          That sounds wonderful... can you, or someone you know aid me in making that journey?
          I am not really sure if I could be of any aid and as most of the Christians I know don't really delve this deep into theology and morality there isn't anyone I could recommend.

          Ultimately, objective moral truth is going to be a reflection of reality and God's nature. When trying to figure out how all this works I first off remind myself that morality isn’t arbitrary and it is discoverable. I also remember that morality is something that God wants me to understand. By a black box I mean something that can't be analyzed or thought about rationally or even discussed. Morality isn't like that--we are exposed to morality every single day in a very concrete way. So through common experience and thought we can make some headway and establish real knowledge.
          Last edited by Paula; 12-15-2014, 10:44 AM.

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