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The Extents of Faith

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  • Paula
    replied
    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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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    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.

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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paula
    replied
    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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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    Important follow up:
    I do not find your assertion that one must worship only God to be sufficiently basic. It is important, but I feel it can be proven from an assumption of the validity of The Bible, and perhaps a few other principles. These in turn may or may not have still more logically fundamental principles that can be found behind them.

    Very sorry that I forgot to say this in my previous post.

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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    Sorry for the delay. Couldn't look at this often for fear of pain.

    Paula's response directly above, incidentally, DOESN'T hurt, and I feel that God is rewarding me for having the guts to risk checking this thread.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Oh I think right and wrong go beyond what people want too because ultimately the defining factor in morality is God who is above everything else. Still, to sin seems to be to sin against someone. Nevertheless, I could be wrong, as such can you list any non-relational moral rules that don't either trace their way back to God or back to another human being.
    Well, given what Jesus said about "these two sum up all the law and the prophets", my tentative working hypothesis would be that there are no such things as you invite me to list.

    I'll also note, merely for the sake of precision, that limiting ourselves to moral rules doesn't necessarily cover all that I am concerned with, although it does hit the most important area. The area that is the source of my past hurt over the years.

    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.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    So your trying to get at the absolute moral rules that are valid regardless of societal concerns. The eternal truths as it were. Now are you getting at descriptions of these truths or descriptions plus applications.
    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.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Because it may be that some eternal truths (but not all) will differ depending on the society in their application. After all, its hard to steal in a society where there is no private property. Although maybe in those societies something else stands in for stealing. Perhaps establishing private property, thus stealing from the group, is stealing in those societies.
    Well, as long as you respect the idea that I, personally, may be called to improve society's efficiency by way of providing examples and/or be part of The Body of Christ's call to be "all things to all men". Note that my working hypothesis is not only that "all things to all men" is a call to action, but I also think it to be a communal thing, such that individual Christians acting in mutually contradictory ways throughout their lives on certain non-eternal issues may be exactly as it should be.

    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. Ditto, but slightly less strongly relevant, for differing cultural context between the Circa 1 AD Roman empire and the modern era (specific examples thematically related to this are towards the end of this message). Without any of these things The Church has failed to reach out to some portion of humanity that they could without compromising on Eternal Truth. Which is why when I was referred by Footwasher to a thread discussing if and how historical context should be used to interprit The Bible it raised a red flag to me. Not that historical context isn't important, but it has to be applied with care if one is after eternal truth. I respect Footwasher's intentions, but for the sake of my mental safety feel I must point out that they backfired. The problem was compounded by the fact that I find argument from anything other than rational and/or theoretical grounds to be a painful reminder of how poor I am at extracting useful information from the common ways of debating issues.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    But are there some eternal truths whose application is the same regardless of the culture and time-period. Before getting at the more troublesome ones like the theft one, I would probably establish those first. To start this one off, I'd have to say one eternal truth that will be true regardless of culture is to worship God and not anything else. Some societies are going to be geared against this one, such as Western society, which encourages pluralism and would be offended by the exclusivity of that moral command but it stands as a command nonetheless.
    I would concur with that in theory, although I've found the idea of what constitutes "worship" and what does not can be a matter of debate in some cases.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Oh I never meant that you can't get systematic answers from God, just that its not normative to get direct answers in the sense of an audible voice.
    Agreed I think. I'm slightly unsure about the probability of getting systematic answers directly from God, but I agree on everything after that.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    If you want to start from the ground up, I am not sure how precise you want to get with the data, worship God alone may be too general because there are many fine points to consider with that in terms of application.
    The only one that comes immediately to mind I've already brought up.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    You mentioned you can't do much study of the Bible without very specific sorts of support. Are you referring to support from other people? Are the support of a theological framework?
    Either and/or both.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from me, I am not trying to discourage you from trying to map out morality (frankly I'd be quite interesting in what you come up with). Just offering my thoughts on some of the challenges (is morality something you can do that for? if you can, will it get you generalities or precise data?).
    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.

    We, The Church, The Body of Christ, are, at a wild guess, 200 years* overdue on this project, so it is high time we got to it. Done properly, it should pay dividends from now until the second coming, and partial credit is not only possible, but we have already earned a good deal over the centuries.
    *About the time when modern scientific thought started coming into existence. I'm no historian, so I couldn't tell you when that was.

    As a side benefit, even a respect for an ongoing serious attempt at this by the majority of Christian leaders would greatly reduce inter-denominational friction I think.



    Since I'm here, let me also list a few more examples to clarify the original question (although we are already headed in a much better direction than a lot of what happened previously was).
    1.)
    I got this one from a wise councilor who I sought aid on better communicating with the community in these forums:
    Wind the clock back a while. Imagine that one is educated in the latest medical theory of the time, and is engaged in a discussion of if disease is God's punishment on for sin. Well, that is a question that is still debated even today (personally I'm strongly of the theory that "Usually not for specific cases, although it is part of the original changes in the world at The Curse"). But what one COULD add to the debate is that the whole idea of disease being caused by an intangible force known as the miasma is utter bunk, despite that being strongly integrated into the theological thought of the day.

    2.)
    Or imagine a modern day geneticist arguing with a racist from anywhere from today all the way back (via hypothetical time travel) the early days of chattel slavery by the British (as opposed to, say, the slavery system of ancient Israel, which actually worked out to something vaguely like a welfare system) arguing that this whole "children of Ham" argument that place the dark-skinned races "naturally" subservient to the Europeans or the whole idea that the "Jewish Race" was naturally inferior (which a lot of people in America bought into up until the END of WWII).

    2a/Sidenote.)
    Note that I'm actually a firm believer in eugenics... starting in no less than 100 years, and with each individual issue to be considered vetted by thinkers from multiple cultures for no less than 100 years each (but possibly overlapping), and applied completely voluntarily except PERHAPS in the most extreme cases of genetically-induced mental deficiency. It is also much less suspect when it comes to perceived physical defects than it is in the case of perceived mental or emotional defects. I forget if it is sociopaths(sp?) or psychopaths who MAY make pretty good management personal in some cases...

    Or to put it another way: Great in theory, INCREDIABLY difficult to execute with sufficient wisdom in practice, much more planning required before attempting... possible additional safeguard might be having the ability to artificially edit back in any "defect" that is later discovered to have a desirable aspect by later generations, although this is not without its draw-backs, since creating an ethnic group of simple-minded followers would be entirely too tempting for some. Of course, those people would be causing problems anyway, so I don't see it as any reason not to pursue... and I'm getting way too side-tracked here!

    3.) Let us consider the case of a Master Detective whose mastery includes a remarkable grasp of abnormal psychology (one could, for instance, insert a Christian version of either Sherlock Holmes or Batman as one prefers). Let us say that he and an equally Christian Watson/Robin are captured by the villain of the story who is both a violent atheist and stark raving mad. He binds and gags them, and gives a rambling rant about the impossibility of any sort of higher being, then locks them in separate cells and informs them they have three hours to consider his "superior logic" before he will give them a choice between denying their faith, and a slow and painful death via hungry hungry crabs.

    Watson/Robin prays fervently (and silently since he is still gagged) for the entire three hours, and receives reassurance from the Holy Spirit that he should stand firm... which he basically already knew. Perhaps even some sort of supernatural guidance is provided as to if, when ungagged, he should choose to try to state some logical counterargument to the villain's insane beliefs. In doing this he acts with as much righteousness as is humanly possible.

    Holmes/Batman prays briefly at intervals throughout his wait. At one point his keen mind notices a means by which he could perhaps escape. He delays acting on it, even at the cost of reducing its chances of success as he continues to calculate another option.

    Watson/Robin is dragged out, ungagged, makes his statement, simple or logical. He is lowered into the crab-pit, and the tiny crustaceans begin to feast.

    Holmes/Batman is dragged out, ungagged, and the first thing he says is "Jesus was even bluer colored than you are."
    What?
    Well, I have no idea what that means, and you certainly don't. If Watson/Robin can comprehend beyond the pain of the crab bites, then he might have a vague idea.
    All I know, even as the author of this scenario is that this is the first move of the psychological equivalent of a blackbelt in karate taking down four armed enemies at once.
    Holmes/Batman saves his own life, possibly Watson/Robin's life, and, most importantly, the soul of the villain that day, although this last will require months of effort, first by Holmes/Batman, and then by a local pastor who is carefully briefed by Holmes/Batman before he is introduced to our villain.

    Did Holmes/Batman act in any morally wrongly, simply because his course of action differed radically from the simple faith of Watson/Robin? No, no he did not.
    Did he earn more honor in God's eyes that day than Watson/Robin? Almost certainly not.
    Did he earn noticeably less, while still the maximum the situation allowed him? Quite possibly, although the many hours of intense study that served to make him the man who could triumph in that moment are certainly a good work that must be counted to his credit when and if one were to try to answer that question. He has invested his Talent (in both the Biblical and the common use of the word "talent") well.

    I wish to make myself and encourage others to be more Holmes/Batman, and a little less Watson/Robin by this analogy. Of course, in the original stories of Holmes, Watson was much cooler than he is in most modern depictions... but that is beside the point. The point is also that I wish to find a group of people who will respect me for this desire.
    [End of examples]

    It is these sorts of glossing over of fundamental "if... then" relationships that are hidden inside people's practical morality that I feel I personally, The Church, and The World as a whole would benefit from the reduction of.

    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?"

    I hope I managed to explain that well enough for a start... questions welcome, or we can leave the examples of what I'm getting at for now and come back to it later.

    I hope to go through the thread up to this point and point out/further respond to the other posts that don't "hurt". That would be at a later time (hopefully more like hours or days than multiple weeks) and in a separate post though.
    Last edited by Draco Dei; 11-07-2014, 09:58 PM.

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  • Paula
    replied
    Oh I think right and wrong go beyond what people want too because ultimately the defining factor in morality is God who is above everything else. Still, to sin seems to be to sin against someone. Nevertheless, I could be wrong, as such can you list any non-relational moral rules that don't either trace their way back to God or back to another human being.

    So your trying to get at the absolute moral rules that are valid regardless of societal concerns. The eternal truths as it were. Now are you getting at descriptions of these truths or descriptions plus applications. Because it may be that some eternal truths (but not all) will differ depending on the society in their application. After all, its hard to steal in a society where there is no private property. Although maybe in those societies something else stands in for stealing. Perhaps establishing private property, thus stealing from the group, is stealing in those societies. But are there some eternal truths whose application is the same regardless of the culture and time-period. Before getting at the more troublesome ones like the theft one, I would probably establish those first. To start this one off, I'd have to say one eternal truth that will be true regardless of culture is to worship God and not anything else. Some societies are going to be geared against this one, such as Western society, which encourages pluralism and would be offended by the exclusivity of that moral command but it stands as a command nonetheless.

    Oh I never meant that you can't get systematic answers from God, just that its not normative to get direct answers in the sense of an audible voice.

    If you want to start from the ground up, I am not sure how precise you want to get with the data, worship God alone may be too general because there are many fine points to consider with that in terms of application.

    You mentioned you can't do much study of the Bible without very specific sorts of support. Are you referring to support from other people? Are the support of a theological framework?

    I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from me, I am not trying to discourage you from trying to map out morality (frankly I'd be quite interesting in what you come up with). Just offering my thoughts on some of the challenges (is morality something you can do that for? if you can, will it get you generalities or precise data?).
    Last edited by Paula; 10-29-2014, 10:56 AM.

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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    Once again I find myself struggling to communicate clearly or get people to ask clarifying questions that are aiming at a generalized solution, rather than needing to know the specific case being studied. I have a few suggestions I got from an advisor of mine, but I'm not up to putting them in. The one "cut the Gordian Knot" solution I came up with he re-assured me was definitely NOT appropriate.

    I'll try to get that up in the next few days, but this continued muddled communication makes it difficult. For now I'll just respond to some things that people have said. Once again, I can't afford to double-check everything for clarity, since if I did that I'd just lose my nerve, or put in a huge amount of effort and STILL have misunderstandings occur perhaps through NOBODY'S fault.

    Footwasher:
    Not sure why you sent that as a (not so?) private message, but I can see at least some relevance... still trying to decide if it is a good route to go.

    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Here's what I think regarding ethics/morality/goodness in general/etc, morality is primarily relational and so to a certain degree you can't get precise data because of the diversity of persons and the nature of relationships. Look at the Ten Commandments--they are all ultimately about respecting God or respecting your neighbor. Now one might ask, what is respecting/loving/honoring God/your neighbor? This is where discussion and study plays out. So moral rules aren't like the laws of physics but more like rules governing how relationships between persons should work.
    If they are involate and absolute, I hold that they must be calculable, especially as far as objectives go.

    People are people and are complicated. In this particular case I have... the right people to ask to handle that complexity, but ONLY if I have the eternal truths nailed down.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Violations of these rules indicate a breach of relationship.
    I have to believe that there is much more to right and wrong than what other people want.

    To put it another way: I feel one of the greatest services I can provide to someone else is to show them what Godly living looks like when freed from the petty concerns of any particular social context. To do what makes SENSE rather than getting all bound up in the inefficient social customs that humans have a distressing tendency to create for themselves. That is a great act of Love, and I like to think I can handle the resulting stresses upon myself if only I can get a firmer place to stand and maybe some people to support me better...

    Naturally, executing this philosophy properly requires a great deal of trial and error, forethought, and/or finesse.


    Of course, perhaps ironically, this is because of the specific skill-set that God has gifted me with... my talents, in the sense of the original parable of the talents... except that everywhere I look I see only bad places to invest them. And yet, here I am, faithfully trying again to find such a place.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Now could these rules be classified and charted out, theoretically yes, but given how many dimensions there are to work with, it’s more feasible to work with general rules than precise rules.
    In most cases, yes.

    Not necessarily in every case.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    If your trying to figure out how social rules versus consciousness rules versus eternal moral rules differ and play out its probably best to start with generalities.
    I'm sick and tired of generalities however. I need hard facts to make any progress on the particular underlying issue I'm wrestling with.
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    Regarding example 1:However, Christians should study God and the Bible. Pretty much the only way to learn something is through diligent hard work and I think this is honoring God because it’s demonstrating that you think He's important enough to spend time on.
    I can't really do that very much without some very specific sorts of support. It hurts too much.

    I'll put in my time trying to FIX THE PROBLEM, rather than trying to "walk on a broken leg before it has healed".
    Originally posted by Paula View Post
    And I think it’s arrogant to expect a direct response from God. To get an explicit response from the Holy Spirit is to be a prophet. I'll be honest--I am no prophet and I doubt many of these Christians who take that stance are prophets. Being a prophet isn't normative. Now don’t get me wrong, I think many Christians who take this stance have their hearts in the right place because they are doing so out of a desire to serve God.
    Ah, but that only intensifies my point! Fuzzy answers are fuzzy answers, and not nearly as subject to generalization. Thus, by your own logic, if I'm looking for a systematic answer, the last place I should be looking is to the Holy Spirit (although a good scientist can glean data from even the most imprecise instrument, given a large enough, and clearly documented enough, data pool).
    Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-17-2014, 06:31 PM.

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  • Paula
    replied
    Here's what I think regarding ethics/morality/goodness in general/etc, morality is primarily relational and so to a certain degree you can't get precise data because of the diversity of persons and the nature of relationships. Look at the Ten Commandments--they are all ultimately about respecting God or respecting your neighbor. Now one might ask, what is respecting/loving/honoring God/your neighbor? This is where discussion and study plays out. So moral rules aren't like the laws of physics but more like rules governing how relationships between persons should work. Violations of these rules indicate a breach of relationship. Now could these rules be classified and charted out, theoretically yes, but given how many dimensions there are to work with, it’s more feasible to work with general rules than precise rules. If your trying to figure out how social rules versus consciousness rules versus eternal moral rules differ and play out its probably best to start with generalities.

    Regarding example 1:However, Christians should study God and the Bible. Pretty much the only way to learn something is through diligent hard work and I think this is honoring God because it’s demonstrating that you think He's important enough to spend time on. And I think it’s arrogant to expect a direct response from God. To get an explicit response from the Holy Spirit is to be a prophet. I'll be honest--I am no prophet and I doubt many of these Christians who take that stance are prophets. Being a prophet isn't normative. Now don’t get me wrong, I think many Christians who take this stance have their hearts in the right place because they are doing so out of a desire to serve God.

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  • footwasher
    replied
    Check your messages.

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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    Originally posted by footwasher View Post
    A lawyer explained legality, morality and ethics to me like this:

    If a foreigner came to me for fixing his leaking faucet and I charged him more than I normally do, it wouldn't be illegal, but it would be immoral.

    If I charged les than my fellow union members did so that I could undercut them, it wouldnt be immoral, but unethical.

    Let's not even go into normative and functional morality.
    Hmmm...

    So then, by your definitions, ethics are defined by society, which is variable, but at least some part of morality is Eternal Truth?

    Let me be clear: I have no foreseeable intention of arguing definitions with anyone on that subject. If someone needs a word to represent a concept, then I'm usually pretty willing to let them use that word to represent that concept. If it turns out that I have been using that same word to represent a different concept that I feel is an important concept, then, at least upon request, I'm perfectly happy to find another word*. The exception would be words found in sources not created by members of this discussion, particularly The Bible. In that case it is pretty important that the words mean what the particular authors meant them to mean... at least for as long as we are bringing in such sources. Afterwards we may agree among ourselves that "that may or may not be a smart idea, but the wording is outdated, or just plain poor, rather than rich, language"... or, more likely, we might not.

    *If necessary I'll randomly combine letters until I come up with something memorable and/or pronounceable and then declare that word to mean that concept. English being "a cribhouse whore"** I doubt I'll have to resort to that. ;)
    **For those unfamiliar with the reference, I'm going to perhaps mash together two rough quotes "Defending the purity of the English language is like defending the purity of a cribhouse whore. English doesn't so much borrow words from other languages as it lures those languages into dark alley-ways, beat them unconscious, and riffle through their pockets for loose verbiage.". I refuse to be at all precise in my quoting, for reasons that should be philosophically obvious.



    Hmmm... as long as I'm posting again, I guess I will throw out something more that came to me while I was pondering in the interim.

    I am going to describe some positions I feel to be... well, I'd rather not use the words "foolish" or "unwise" since both fools and wisdom are mentioned in Proverbs. Let me go with "stupid" (again, requests for an alternate word are welcome, with or without suggestions for what that word might be). I'm just going to throw these out there to lay some groundwork that I may or may not need later. I'd be surprised if anyone disagreed with there stupidity, but I thought I should check.

    1.)
    "I don't need to read God's guidance for living in the Bible, I just ask the Holy Spirit what to do in any given situation and follow the response I feel in my heart. God is about relationship, and the rules are just crutches for people who need a little bit of that. I read the stories, but I don't try to learn anything about my life from them, I'm only interested in hearing my Heavenly Father's tales, because they never get old."

    2.)
    "I find I don't have enough temptation in my life. I should seek some out so I'll be able to say I stood firm." I'll contrast this by saying that saying "I've been granted the ability to stand strong... since much has been granted to me, I should find situations where I may accomplish much for God with this." To provide some examples: the stupid one says "I'm gonna go stand outside the XXX Bookstore where the prostitutes like to attract customers, and I won't give them the time of day nor go in." the not-so-stupid one says "Perhaps I should be a missionary to a country where that is a risky thing to do...I'll look into it.".


    Yes, I am setting up straw-man arguments... I intend to use them judiciously enough that that won't be a problem. Based on how this conversation has gone so far, any example is better than no example at all.

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  • footwasher
    replied
    A lawyer explained legality, morality and ethics to me like this:

    If a foreigner came to me for fixing his leaking faucet and I charged him more than I normally do, it wouldn't be illegal, but it would be immoral.

    If I charged les than my fellow union members did so that I could undercut them, it wouldnt be immoral, but unethical.

    Let's not even go into normative and functional morality.

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  • Draco Dei
    replied
    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
    I wasn't trying to say that knowledge is of no importance, but that it isn't very very important - certainly it isn't the most important - so you shouldn't even need or expect on every matter "fine distinctions...faith that this or that aspect of eternal Biblical Morality is precisely X, Y, or Z (or rather "X rather than X+0.0001 or X-0.0001 or X+0.0001-0.0001i"
    That is not your decision to make for me. I am nearly certain of what I am personally called to do and that matter is not up for discussion at this time.

    I asked the forum what is possible. To which I will now add "and why it must, of necessity, be neither more nor less than whatever it is", in case I did not say that before.

    Only when that is determined might I possibly be willing to listen to discussion on what is desirable. I suspect that it might not be desirable in your own case, based on what you have said. As such I hereby disavow before God any and all responsibility for the state of any soul should I stumble you or anyone else from this point on. As for what has occurred in this thread to this point I can only say "If this is beyond anyone's understanding, then may be it is beyond what those individuals are called by God to understand. Take caution, and go with what Paprika has said until and unless you find yourself sure of your understanding of what is being said by various parties... and even then employ a fairly systematic doubt on that surety.".

    With that warning sign posted, I shall move on...

    5...

    4...

    3...

    2...

    1...

    If anyone hopes to get through to me they must work within these boundaries. Attempting to get people to understand the full picture of things in my life has proven to be nearly hopeless on this and other subjects*, thus I am resolute on remaining focused on the very specific problem, and using that as a test for who is capable (not honest and kind and so forth, but capable) of dealing with the big picture.

    *See: Communications Disability.
    Originally posted by footwasher View Post
    "How small is it possible to get the list of things that can not be derived from other, more logically fundimental, principles and especially the list of things it can be proved cannot be proved?"

    Pretty small. Jesus found it quite easy to filter out the non compliant. There was one infraction that fazed those thrown out into the outer darkness. It had very little to do with morality.
    I'm not quite sure I understand what you are saying here, but I suspect it might be useful. Just to double-check, how are you defining "morality"? I ask only because the classroom definition I seem to remember of it seems to be the reverse of what I have heard around the internet compared to "ethics".

    Which infraction are you referring to? The adulteress who was to be stoned?

    If so, I should say that that seems to be of very little use to me since all that seems to demonstrate is that all persons are sinful and that mercy is of great importance. It does nothing to particularly describe how one can discern between a thing that is only sinful because it might stumble ones brother, violate ones own conscience, or problematically violate the laws and/or social contracts one is considered part of on the one hand, and what is sin eternally, regardless of such considerations on the other hand.

    To put it in other terms, that seems to speak about sinners, when I am seeking analysis of individual acts of sin and virtue.

    I could easily be mistaken in that initial analysis, or even my guess as to which incident you are referring to, and would welcome clarification from you!


    Let me also give another go at the original question.

    *Holds up approximately three sheets of paper*
    ^Here are the entirety of the underlying assumptions of planar, Euclidean, compass and straight-edge type, geometry, including the fact that it is, indeed, planar, Euclidean and does not allow the use of rulers etc. I believe I have the number of pages correct, but I have not researched the issue. The exact number is not important at this stage of things I believe, since we are having such a hard time communicating, that such refinements can wait. I believe this only contains what are known as "postulates". One of them, in this case, is that "parallel lines do not meet" (I believe it is another branch of geometry where they meet "at infinity", and still others where the concept of parallels has no meaning (topology for one)).

    *Gestures to series of binders containing an amount of printed surface area equal to at least an unabridged dictionary, if not Encyclopedia Britannica*
    ^And here is ever distinct construction that has ever been performed with those rules, and which, by them, can be rigorously proven true.

    *Divides a very large number of pages by a very small number gets a very large number*

    ...now then, if one changes the topic from "geometry" to "theology" how small is the actual length of the "unprovens" and/or what does the ratio look like in actual fact? What about at a theoretically achievable ideal this side of Heaven given (perhaps among other things) vast qualities of man-hours and money thrown at the problem? Do note that such things as "follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit" is considered "open ended" and thus as much cheating as various manoeuvres with rulers would be in the field of geometry described above.

    Footwasher (or anyone else who feels like taking up the challenge):

    What would you say those items on that list might be?
    "Of first importance Love God totally. Second Love other persons more than you Love yourself."<- How I might say it.
    The above from The Message: "“That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
    That? I'll grant you this is true, but it is hardly precise enough for what I am referring to.

    Do not be afraid that I shall get all legalistic on your listing
    . Oh, if it clears a certain bar for quality I'll almost certainly do my best to rip it to shreds, sure enough. But only as I would do with most any other statement of Truth, so that I might test and improve its veracity. In other words, I'll seek to improve it, hopefully in concert with you (I by no means feel qualified to do so on my own). Or if it is of the highest quality, then by doing so I will improve my understanding of it.

    I advance NO guess as to which the case is more likely to be.

    That having been said, the second case is problem-free enough, so I'm going to explain the first one more: By analogy I you might tell me that if one stands straight, with your feet pointed down, then holds one's arm out perpendicular to your body and lets go of a ball it will move downward relative to you. I'll point out that out of the vast volume of the universe the places and/or times when that is true are extremely rare... like, say, for instance, near the surface of a planet. It simply happens that that is where human beings spend the vast majority of their waking time (during their sleeping hours they are generally horizontal, which violates the basic supposition of "your" statement). If I'm doing my job right, even if I should be totally convincing (if that happens, consider it a miracle... for one thing, it isn't what I am going for at all), it would change next to nothing regarding your day to day behaviour, or your personal relationship with God... but having someone I can talk to about this stuff will, I'm fairly certain, enhance my ability to relate to God on a personal level (please, I beg of you, for all our sakes, take this as granted at least until we have made some progress on examining this issue). This is as obscure to most Christian's lives as sub-atomic physics is to the design of an electronics-free diesel engine.


    I do not doubt that the vast majority of this post will prove, at least in the long run, as clear as mud... but perhaps ever so slightly watered down mud compared to where we were before I made this post.

    I believe I am doing my best here, but I am struggling with great frustration and other impediments.

    P.S. Yes, I realize that it seems like theology will come off "worse" compared to geometry in the comparison I gave. I intend no such conclusion with regards to how things must be, and only MAYBE in terms of how the current levels of human understanding stand.
    Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-06-2014, 10:57 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • footwasher
    replied
    "How small is it possible to get the list of things that can not be derived from other, more logically fundimental, principles and especially the list of things it can be proved cannot be proved?"

    Pretty small. Jesus found it quite easy to filter out the non compliant. There was one infraction that fazed those thrown out into the outer darkness. It had very little to do with morality.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paprika
    replied
    Originally posted by Draco Dei View Post
    Paprika: Yes, knowledge is important in this case because it is part of my particular life-mission from God. Also: "Come, let us reason together says The Lord". It is vital to have Love, but having knowledge too is a desirable bonus if one can acheive it.
    I wasn't trying to say that knowledge is of no importance, but that it isn't very very important - certainly it isn't the most important - so you shouldn't even need or expect on every matter "fine distinctions...faith that this or that aspect of eternal Biblical Morality is precisely X, Y, or Z (or rather "X rather than X+0.0001 or X-0.0001 or X+0.0001-0.0001i"

    Leave a comment:

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