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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/24/09 01:02:16 PM 
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Ah, makes sense. In my defense, the statement did read like a general statement and therefore I don't think that I was wrong to read it as such. I mean, why talk about the faults of "man" if you're only referring to members of an online community?

Regarding collective punishment, I never said that God only punishes collectively. That's obviously false. In addition to your example, the very doctrine of heaven and hell provides us with the best evidence that sometimes God judges us individually, since our souls are judged soley on their own merits. However, and this was my point, it cannot be argued that God doesn't often favor collective punishment. All of the examples I gave demonstrate this. The doctrine of original sin demonstrates this. And if you're right, God's judgement of America will fall in this category. And therefore, I just don't understand why you disagreed with this notion:

Big Doug wrote:
God, from time to time, collectively punishes people for the wickedness of the society into which they were born.


There are plenty examples of this. And even the prophecies and punishments that you are highlighting demonstrate this conclusively.

With regard to this:

Free$peech wrote:
In Scripture, it also talks about how God chose Egypt to be the example, because of how powerful and strong Egypt thought it was. The destruction of Egypt had rippling effects, as with the judgment of America.


What about the UK? Colonial Britain was every bit as bad as we are and yet, the UK seems like a nice place to live these days. Furthermore, they didn't so much fall as an empire as much as they were subject to a slow displacement by the US begining with WW1 and a decades long series of independence movements. It may have been embarassing for folks in the process, but there was really no epic judgement like that of Egypt in the Bible. Even if we look to the devistation that Europe suffered after WW2, I don't think that it's safe to say that this devistation really resembled any form of judgement...unless God sent Hitler to judge the English (along with the rest of Europe and especially Russia) or something like that. But that seems like an absurd and disgusting interperetation of history.

So who's to say that America as a whole, arrogant as it is, will be subject to God's judgement?

As for the rest of the world being affected by the fall of America, were it to happen, it really depends on how the economy works and what the geo-political situation is like at the time. Given what happened last year, I don't see any reason not to think, for example, that foreign investors will be more hesitant to wrap their fortunes in ours. And even now, Europe is already seeing a recovery while we're still in recession. And even absent the threat of American military power, I don't see any threat that they'd be subject to that they're not already subject to (like international terrorism).

So it really all depdends on when and how it happens if it were to happen.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/24/09 01:22:07 PM 
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I do not disagree with anything you said. God judges collectively and individually...

Again, I do not proclaim to know why God chooses one nation over another; however, he does chooses nations, because all men sin, so he can destroy all of us, but he seems to reserve his indignation for Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt, Babylon, etc. etc. etc. His plan will reveal itself in time; however, why this nation and not this nation, I dont know. But he does do it. And America seems to be the next on deck.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/25/09 01:39:54 PM 
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And with that, I think we're about wrapped up. But before we end this, I'm curious about something.

Let me ask you this, does it seem right to you that God sometimes collectively punishes people? Let's take one of the more gruesome examples: the slaughter of the Midianites (Numbers 31). All the men and women were killed. All the young boys were killed. And all the young girls were taken as basically sex slaves. Was it right of God to command the destruction of the Midianites, especially in this brutal fashion?

I ask this because being perfectly just is an attribute that people usually ascribe to God. But this seems like an indefensible action. What's your take? I'm curious as to how this chapter and the notion that God is perfectly just can be reconciled.

I should point out that this is a serious question, not just me quote-mining the Bible and saying wow look. How awful! How can you possibly justify that?! or something like that. You know your Bible and so I know that you must have wrestled with this question and I'm seriously interested in your response.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/25/09 05:45:01 PM 
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Not that this would satisfy your quest for being just, but:

The worship of Baal of Peor was considered detestable by God, because for one, the religion included prostitution as a form of sacrifice/worship, and many of the Israelites...

Quote:
Numbers 25:2, "For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods."

Also, consider 25:18, "Numbers 25:18 for they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor.

Numbers 31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against Jehovah in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of Jehovah.


Before the destruction of the Midian people, Jah Jah had Moses order the killing of those Israelites that joined the worship of Baal of Peor. So he was just in his indignation...Deception, trickery and prostitution among the worship of a false god seemed to have been the crime of the Midians...

I do not know why God did not spare the "innocent"? However, the keeping of the virgin women for self was to be a reminder for how Israel was tempted and lured. He did wipe out the Midians, but He also ordered the killing of those Israelites that was led astray to adultery and idolatry.

I never reasoned over this because this is no different than killing the first born of Egypt, therefore I thought it to be a common theme in the OT, and so Numbers 31 garnered no special attention.

Do I think it is just? Giving God a personal trial through my limited knowledge and worldview, that's tricky. I do not have the power to pardon or convict God, therefore, I will not go there...Sorry!

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/25/09 11:02:10 PM 
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I know Numbers 25. I cited it earlier as an example of how important the first few commandments were to the God of the Old Testament. I don't think that his enforcement of that law in this case presents that big of a problem if you accept that it is an abomination to sacrifice to another god. (I don't, but that's not what's at issue). That's why I'm specifically using Numbers 31.

See, I don't see how the worship of a false god or the depravity of that worship really even enters into this. Because I don't see how any wrong doing on the part of the parents could possibly justify the murder and sexual exploitation of their children. I'm kind of surprised that you haven't really wrestled too much with the apparent injustice of it, but I do appreciate the honesty and frankness of your answer. (And to be fair, as a teenager, I never really had much of a moral problem with the plagues either). And I very much appreciate that you didn't make one of those repugnant theodicies that some folks make about how we're basically God's play things and so he's justified in doing whatever he wants with us.

But I don't know. I think it just demonstrates that trying to derive our morality only from the Bible, which some claim we should, is probably a bad idea even for believers. You've got incidents like this that are just hard to reconcile with anything resembling common decency that are supposedly divinely commanded or at least condoned. Things that have to be chalked up to the mystery of God's reasoning which we are not privy to. But then again, it seems that there some parts in there that are really just stories people told. There are even little inside jokes, like after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah where the author takes a little jab at some rival tribes by asserting that they were the product of the incestuous relationship of Lot and one of his daughters. (At least it seems like a joke as opposed to an actual history.) All in all, it's probably one of the most interesting books there is, even for a non-believer.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/26/09 08:57:55 AM 
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I know Numbers 25. I cited it earlier as an example of how important the first few commandments were to the God of the Old Testament. I don't think that his enforcement of that law in this case presents that big of a problem if you accept that it is an abomination to sacrifice to another god. (I don't, but that's not what's at issue). That's why I'm specifically using Numbers 31.

See, I don't see how the worship of a false god or the depravity of that worship really even enters into this. Because I don't see how any wrong doing on the part of the parents could possibly justify the murder and sexual exploitation of their children. I'm kind of surprised that you haven't really wrestled too much with the apparent injustice of it, but I do appreciate the honesty and frankness of your answer. (And to be fair, as a teenager, I never really had much of a moral problem with the plagues either). And I very much appreciate that you didn't make one of those repugnant theodicies that some folks make about how we're basically God's play things and so he's justified in doing whatever he wants with us.

But I don't know. I think it just demonstrates that trying to derive our morality only from the Bible, which some claim we should, is probably a bad idea even for believers. You've got incidents like this that are just hard to reconcile with anything resembling common decency that are supposedly divinely commanded or at least condoned. Things that have to be chalked up to the mystery of God's reasoning which we are not privy to. But then again, it seems that there some parts in there that are really just stories people told. There are even little inside jokes, like after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah where the author takes a little jab at some rival tribes by asserting that they were the product of the incestuous relationship of Lot and one of his daughters. (At least it seems like a joke as opposed to an actual history.) All in all, it's probably one of the most interesting books there is, even for a non-believer.


I referred to Numbers 25 because it is the premise to the conclusion being critiqued. My position is that there were likely children in Sodom and Gomorrah, children in Egypt, and children in Babylon that were innocent of the crimes the leaders of the tribe/nation was guilty of as well, and so I so no reason to give Numbers 31 any special attention. I do not chalk-it-up to the mystery of God, because I do not believe God to be mysterious, unfathomable perhaps, but not mysterious, you know? Also, I continue to notice the usage of the phrase "God of the OT"; is there a different God somewhere else?

Quote:
Midianites. Numbers 31 concerns the killing of the Midianites and it should be noted that earlier in his life Moses had fled to Midian after killing an Egyptian and had married there Zipporah, the daughter of the local priest Reyel so that at that time there was no enmity between Israel and Midian. After God’s People were released from Egypt however the princes of Moab persuaded the Midianites to attack Israel so that many of their weak and stragglers were killed. After this a thousand men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel attacked the Midianites, destroyed their army and killed their chief men whilst many of their women and children were captured. At this point Moses who, not withstanding his own marriage to Zipporah, was aware that Midianite women had led Israelite men into false Moabitish practices previously, ordered that only virgin women should be incorporated into Israel and all other women and male children be killed. Now please note that this refers only to a certain group of captives and does not mean that the whole nation of Midian was wiped out except for a few virgins. One must remember that many generations after this Midian still existed and had a mighty army which almost destroyed Israel in the days of Gideon but what happened in Moses time was initiated by a Midianite attack upon Israel and was concerned with trying to keep Israel pure from evil ways. http://www.thegodislovesite.com/Cruel.htm


So not all Midians were wiped out, and not all boys killed, because the Midian Tribe rebuilt itself...

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/26/09 10:51:01 AM 
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Free$peech wrote:
I referred to Numbers 25 because it is the premise to the conclusion being critiqued. My position is that there were likely children in Sodom and Gomorrah, children in Egypt, and children in Babylon that were innocent of the crimes the leaders of the tribe/nation was guilty of as well, and so I so no reason to give Numbers 31 any special attention.


It's not that I'm giving Numbers 31 any special attention. It was just my example. I could have used Sodom and Gomorrah or the plagues in Egypt to make the same point. In fact, bringing in other examples just reinforces my point. I just don't see how the intentional killing of children for the crimes of their parents can possibly be condoned, let alone actively committed by a being that is supposed to be perfectly moral. It seems to me that if the Bible is true then God is not moral in any recognizable sense of the word.

Free$peech wrote:
I do not chalk-it-up to the mystery of God, because I do not believe God to be mysterious, unfathomable perhaps, but not mysterious, you know?


I really don't. I'm not quite understanding you. It seems to me that something that is unfathomable is by its very nature mysterious. If you prefer to say unfathomable, I guess that's fine. But I'm not exactly sure why that's better or why you seem to object to the word mysterious.

Free$peech wrote:
Also, I continue to notice the usage of the phrase "God of the OT"; is there a different God somewhere else?


I don't think that any holy book describes a god that exists. But I really didn't mean it like that.

I say the god of the Old Testament to distinguish between descriptions of God found in other texts, such as the Vedas. (If we were talking about Brahma, I'd say the god of the Vedas.) And it's always seemed to me that there is some distinction between the god described in the Old Testament and the god described in the New. Take two examples:

I guess we might as well stick with Numbers. There's Numbers 15:32-36. A man is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, an obvious violation of the Law. And what was his punishment? He was stoned to death, in accordance with the law.

Now let's go to the New Testament. John 8:3-18. Everyone knows this passage. And it's a lot of folks favorite Bible story. I know it's one of mine. The priests bring a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and ask what is to be done. Jesus thinks about it for a second and says "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." The priests are embarrassed and leave and then Jesus tells the woman "did no one condemn you?" "I do not condemn you either." And she goes.

Why the change? It seems to me that either God is inconsistent and had a change of heart, which doesn't make sense if God is omniscient and already morally perfect, or they're different gods, which also doesn't make sense. I'm not saying that the two stories can't be reconciled, but I wouldn't be the first person to notice the difference between the New and Old Testament. I mentioned Marcion before. He was labeled a heretic for suggesting that the New and Old Testament describe two different gods and in his canon he left out the Old Testament.

As far as this goes:

Free$peech wrote:
So not all Midians were wiped out, and not all boys killed, because the Midian Tribe rebuilt itself...


I really don't see how this is supposed to make it better. If any boys were killed then the action was immoral. It could have been only one boy. I just don't see how the murder of children can possibly be condoned. And I don't see how a being that orders such things can possibly be moral.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/26/09 12:21:07 PM 
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From God came a perfect Law and the Law requires death/blood if the Law is transgressed--God cannot not be God! You remember that it is written, that being in the presence of God would cause one to die, so then this, Go through me to get to the Father, because the "me" here is the the emissary, the Son of God, not God but the Son, would wash us of the sins and pardon us of our deserved death. Transgression against God meant death. However, when all would be considered transgressors, then logically, sinners were judging sinners. So now we wait for God's judgment, and sure enough, we await a lot of people being eternally destroyed. SO instead of a case by case basis, judgment is collective!

I do not believe Jesus to be God!!!, In Fact, I know Jesus is not God!!! (a side note).

God sent a moral law and anything against said moral law would naturally be immoral. I go to church and hear adults and children alike talking and singing about the Trinity, which is a false doctrine and supposes that either God the Father did not exist or the Son didn't really exist because He was God all along. According to the moral law, my condemnation of this congregation would be just according to the moral law. I truly get angry when I walk into Lutheran churches or Mennonite churches and they are professing the Nicene creed; absolute folly!Some people are like cancers, they only spread disease and if the children of those people are diseased as well and have the power to infect, then I understand God's position and feel no reason for considering the cruelty of God. We are limited by age, knowledge and worldview, and since this is the case, then what sense would it make for me to bring a case against the All-knowing?


In the book Art of War, the king wanted his concubines spared, but Sun Tzu knew that if he pardoned them then obedience and compliance would be compromised. Same principle with the Moral Law, with God, there's not a laissez faire approach to obedience and compliance; instead, absolute obedience to absolute authority.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/27/09 12:21:06 PM 
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It's funny, I think this is a more interesting topic than our previous one. I thank you for your reply and for this discussion.

But one thing I'd like to know is how is it that you have come to the conclusion that God's Law is perfect? Do you just presume it to be perfect, or have you analyzed it and determined it to be perfect? I say this because I just don't see how certain Laws can be considered perfect or even remotely just. One good example is the Law concerning homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13).

It occurs to me that gays and lesbians, at least the ones I know, seem to have their orientation hardwired in much the same way that I am hardwired to be heterosexual. I'm not sure why exactly that is but whether it's nature, nurture or both, it seems to me that the cause is much too subtle to be anything resembling a choice. And as such, I don't see how it can be considered to be a sin or a transgression. A law against left-handedness, for example, would seem to most of us to be absurd and any penalty would seem plainly unjust. I just don't see the difference. It reminds me of something Christopher Hitchens said. God makes us sick and then commands us to be well.

With this in mind, I don't know how I could look at what is written and determine that it is perfect. Therefore, holding such a belief would, for me, require a presumption of its perfection. But I don't see why such a presumption should be made, especially given that there are many different religions that describe different gods with different moral laws.

As far as your cancer argument, I've got to say that this is a preposterous and disgusting argument. While it's true that children are likely to accept whatever their parents tell them for a time, children are also likely to grow up to question what they were told. Some of them will reject what they were taught. I'm sure you know plenty of people that have converted to a different religion or came to lose their faith. (I'm one of them.) It happens all the time. And so even if we all agree that the belief of a parent needs to be stamped out, the brutal destruction of their child is not the only means available to us and thus especially not to God. I mean, to suggest otherwise renders evangelism itself to be a useless exercise. So what's the point of spreading the word?

With this in mind, how do we then justify the destruction of a child? Is God incapable of offering them evidence sufficient for a conversion? Obviously not! He converted Paul! And yet, you still hold to the claim that God is justified in destroying a child for the transgressions of its parent even when morally acceptable means of conversion are available. Furthermore, if we go back to Numbers 31, your argument fails to explain why it would be acceptable to keep the virgin girls. If the boys were cancerous then surely so were the girls.

As for this:

Free$peech wrote:
We are limited by age, knowledge and worldview, and since this is the case, then what sense would it make for me to bring a case against the All-knowing?


You know, my problem with this line of thinking is that it presupposes the existence of an all-knowing God that has revealed Himself and His Law in the Bible. Personally, I can't accept that presupposition. And thus, when I read the Bible, I approach it somewhat skeptically. So if I read something that appears to be obviously cruel and obviously unjust, like Numbers 31, I reason that it counts as evidence against the claim that The Good Book describes good and just god. And so I'm really just unmoved by the idea that, because of our limitations, we aren't able to understand God's ways and thus are in no position to judge Him. Such an argument is circular, assuming the very contention it is defending.

And this:

Free$peech wrote:
In the book Art of War, the king wanted his concubines spared, but Sun Tzu knew that if he pardoned them then obedience and compliance would be compromised. Same principle with the Moral Law, with God, there's not a laissez faire approach to obedience and compliance; instead, absolute obedience to absolute authority.


If that's true then the question becomes whether that absolute authority and the obedience required to sustain it is itself justified. In my view, Sun Tzu is clearly unjustified in executing the king's concubines considering that it was only done only to ensure that his methods were vindicated. It's only when you presuppose the overriding importance of Sun Tzu's success that the executions can be condoned. Thus, I don't see how this example helps to strengthen your claim. It just moves the ball and calls something else into question: the complete authority of God. But this explanation just makes God seem to be something of an evil and unreasonable dictator. I mean, why compare God to Sun Tzu?

I'm also interested in knowing your reasons for rejecting the Trinity. And even given this rejection, why does it invalidate the contradiction? Even if Christ is just God's emissary, he's still speaking for God and therefore the contradiction remains.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/27/09 09:58:02 PM 
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Likewise...

The 10 commandments or Moral Law were written and established by God Himself, Deuteronomy 4:13, 5:22. The Levitical laws were written by Moses, the first were inside the ark, Deuteronomy 10:5, and the latter, outside the ark, Deuteronomy 31:24-26.
There is clearly a distinction between Moses' civil laws and God's moral law. I think this is something that Bible scholars and teachers of the Scriptures fail at badly, distinguishing the two. Moses' laws are imperfect, because they were written by man, but for those of "Us" that believe in God, tell me how the 10 commandments are imperfect; they're not! Hopefully this addresses your first few paragraphs.

I am in the counseling profession, and sorry, but I do not believe people are born gay or lesbian; I do not believe people to have a gay or lesbian gene. We always have to remember the "Big Picture" laws of nature. If there were no sciences and if it so happen that the gay gene become dominant, then the human race would die off. Gay and Lesbian dispositions, I believe have everything to do with nurture or the lack thereof...

As far as Numbers 31, God's covenant with the Hebrew people included God's wrath against those that offended the Hebrews. The Hebrews were to be the teachers of the world, teaching the world the Moral Law and any nation or tribe that sought to undermine that was utterly destroyed. Nations feared the Hebrews because of their God, He would reach out His outstretched arms and smite Hebrews' enemies. You can call this cruel, but God chose the Hebrews as His people, and when it came to His people, He held no punches. I don't know about you, but that's the kind of God I want, have chosen and depend upon. Favoritism, perhaps, but cruelty, no.

As far as Sun Tzu, I think you're limiting the focus to the lives sacrificed. I know that seems harsh but sometimes the exercising of power yields better results than oh, miraculously, changing a people's lawlessness by power--which goes against freewill and the responsibility for one's actions. Cause and effect, action reaction and in those days, going up against the Hebrews meant absolute destruction. You seem driven to defend the effect and reaction, but I do not, I focus on the cause and the action. In some Arab nations, stealing means losing a hand. I focus on the stealing and hopefully I won't lose a hand; and I see no real benefit in defending the severed hand. But, that's me...Cause not stealing keeps me from enduring that same punishment. In other words, the Midians were the problem, not God. And again, not all Midian boys were wiped out.
I assume this is similar to the Pharaoh losing his firstborn. Pharaoh was the problem, not God!

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good. Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

As far as the false doctrine of the Trinity goes, the evidence is in Scripture. For example, 1 Corinthians 11:3 (American Standard Version)

ICorinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

We all know head to mean leader as in head of household or head of state or department head...God is the Most High God, therefore God cannot have a head, but a Son can. Also, the notion that the Son was sent into the world to die for sins means that the Son was commanded, which means He is not God, because God cannot be called to or sent anywhere.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/28/09 02:16:50 AM 
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That's indeed an interesting distinction. I don't know, I always thought of the whole thing as Mosaic Law. Ah well, it ain't my book. But still, this distinction really doesn't solve the problem for me since I don't think the Commandments are all that great either.

Why, for example, should I keep the sabbath? A literal reading of the Bible would have us believing that the world was created in six literal days and that God rested on the seventh. And apparently we're supposed to rest as God did. But if we take the Bible literally we can deduce that the world as we know it is only about 6,000 years old. (Some people just say no more than 10,000.) But modern science shows that this story can only be an allegory, as the world is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old (and the universe is estimated to be 15 billion years old). Even if you want to object and claim (correctly) that the Bible describes a pre-creation world that is formless, the point remains the same. All the relevant science suggests that life has existed on this planet for around 3.4 years (and humans for at least 100,000 of them).

So if the Bible is still true and the science is valid then the creation story is probably just poetic and allegorical. Some people claim that the days in creation describe epochs or things like that. But even if that's true, why should we rest on this day of God's choosing when God didn't even do it the way the Bible says He did? That doesn't make any sense. And if God did do it the way the Bible says, why would He make it look like something else happened? Why would independent dating methods all reach the same conclusion? Why would there be layers of sedimentary rock formations? And furthermore, even if the Bible were literally true, and it's clearly not, it still doesn't make much sense to me that not keeping the sabbath is the same level of offense as murder or even lying. God's Law apparently has no sense of proportionality. Murder and lying are apparently equally offensive to God. Adultery and not keeping the sabbath are also morally equal. This seems to be contrary to the way most of us think about morality. If a country had a legal system in which death was the penalty for every offense we would think this country to have a horrible justice system. And so I ask again, how did you determine this Law to be perfect? It's perfection doesn't seem at all obvious to me. On what grounds can you demonstrate its perfection?

With regard to homosexuality, I don't know how your counseling background is supposed to give you insight on a complicated question of genetics that is as of yet unresolved any more than my background in education does. And your claim about the plausibility of a gay-gene really shows you're not a geneticist. (If it were that obvious that it couldn't exist, why would they bother looking for it?) But I digress. That wasn't even the point. As I said, even if its a matter of nature, or lack thereof, it really doesn't matter. My point was that it's not a choice. And I don't see how it makes sense to condemn someone for something that they did not choose. It's a silly point really.

As for this:

Free$peech wrote:
As far as Numbers 31, God's covenant with the Hebrew people included God's wrath against those that offended the Hebrews. The Hebrews were to be the teachers of the world, teaching the world the Moral Law and any nation or tribe that sought to undermine that was utterly destroyed. Nations feared the Hebrews because of their God, He would reach out His outstretched arms and smite Hebrews' enemies. You can call this cruel, but God chose the Hebrews as His people, and when it came to His people, He held no punches. I don't know about you, but that's the kind of God I want, have chosen and depend upon. Favoritism, perhaps, but cruelty, no.


How ridiculous! So your God chooses one tribe as His own and now ANYTHING they do can be justified if it's in response to an offense of their sensibilities? That's absurd. Again, this takes me back to my earlier point. How is it that you determined that this stuff is true? I just don't understand how you can accept this repugnant conception of morality, if you could even call it that, without the a priori presumption of its truth.

Free$peech wrote:
As far as Sun Tzu, I think you're limiting the focus to the lives sacrificed. I know that seems harsh but sometimes the exercising of power yields better results than oh, miraculously, changing a people's lawlessness by power--which goes against freewill and the responsibility for one's actions.


Of course I'm focusing on the lives sacrificed! They were killed by a man for the purpose of asserting his dominance. Since I don't see his dominance as having a value greater than their lives, I don't see how this is a justifiable act. In this case, even if he had no other way of getting the women in order, he is not justified. And so again, this line of reasoning is unhelpful. All you've done is change the question from how the law ought to be enforced to is the law just to begin with. (And if the miraculous statement was in response to what I wrote regarding your cancer argument, you completely missed the point.)

Free$peech wrote:
In other words, the Midians were the problem, not God. And again, not all Midian boys were wiped out.
I assume this is similar to the Pharaoh losing his firstborn. Pharaoh was the problem, not God!


No. The Arabs were wrong not for punishing thieves but because the punishment itself was disproportionate and barbaric. Likewise, you can simultaneously agree that the Midianites and Pharaoh were wrong but also agree that God's punishment was unfair and condemnable. I don't think that kids should talk back to their parents. I doubt you do either. But I don't see how the appropriateness of this rule can be used as a defense if a parent decides to say, brutally mutilate their child as punishment. The enforcement of a just law can, itself, be unjust.

And I still don't see how the fact that not all the Midianite boys were wiped out somehow justifies the murder of some of them. I don't know why you keep bringing it up. If a man killed two boys and then defended his actions by claiming he didn't kill their two brothers we'd find that man's defense to be utterly lacking. Likewise, I just don't see how the fact that not all the boys were killed is even relevant to our discussion. The moral issue at hand is the slaughter of the boys that were killed and not the fact that some boys were not slaughtered. Again, it could have been just one boy. The point would remain the same.

Furthermore, any possible reason for including the boys in the slaughter really falls apart when you take into account that the virgin girls were taken. If the worry was that the boys could somehow infect the tribe, for example, then surely the girls could too. In fact, one could argue that the Israelites would have had more to fear from the girls considering it was their mothers and not their fathers that tempted the tribe and brought the slaughter in the first place.

As for the Trinity, I agree that it's a plainly nonsensical doctrine. Furthermore, a lot of the passages that supposedly support it are dubious when you take into account how some of the earlier manuscripts read and the way in which the text was transmitted. (It's also the same reason that I think that a literal reading of the Bible, or any other ancient text for that matter, makes no sense.) I also don't really understand who Christ is supposed to be a sacrifice to if he is himself God.

But whatever....



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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/28/09 12:55:11 PM 
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Is it possible to simply accept that you have reached your conclusion about Scripture and the Bible, and nothing I say matters? Your source of knowledge has its foundation in science, which I believe do not know how old the world is. I am not saying the Bible tells me how old the world is, but that is okay with me, not knowing. I certainly do not accept the scientific claim about the world's age...

As far as Scripture and Numbers 31, saying that not all the Midian people were wiped out seems to give evidence that we do not know the full circumstances surrounding those that were killed. And again, I am okay with knowing. God has the power to sustain life forever, so is he cruel for creating people that He says he loves to die? Of course not; there's a plan to this whole thing, you know? Simply, there's always more to the story.

You are convinced that God ordered an unjustifiable offense, and I am convinced that I do not know all the circumstances surrounding Numbers 31, so again, lets agree that this discussion is simply an exercise in defending our positions without a need for concessions. Cruelty would be to be sent into slavery and then abused and mistreated and robbed of dignity. I think that is cruel...I do not think victory over one's enemies is cruel, I'm sorry.

As far as homosexuality: You say homosexuality is not a choice and I disagree, regardless of my mis-usage of the science of genes. Counseling does not make me an expert, but I do study child development and do see and study external factors that can cause or lead to homosexuality.

Quote:
How ridiculous! So your God chooses one tribe as His own and now ANYTHING they do can be justified if it's in response to an offense of their sensibilities? That's absurd. Again, this takes me back to my earlier point. How is it that you determined that this stuff is true? I just don't understand how you can accept this repugnant conception of morality, if you could even call it that, without the a priori presumption of its truth.


I never said that because they are God's chosen that they have a get of jail free card. In fact, many Israeli people were killed for there part in Numbers 31. Also, God, a number of times had that Hebrews go into captivity, suffer and die for their disobedience to him. As far as the Mosaic law, I gave you the verses to read for yourself. Their is a clear distinction between the Moral law and the Mosaic law in the Scripture.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/28/09 01:48:01 PM 
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Yes, I've already reached my conclusions about scripture. I thought that much was very clear. But I've approached this discussion not so much in the hopes of being persuaded of anything but rather, I'm trying to understand how you came to be persuaded. And I still don't understand why you believe.

As far as science goes, yeah I ground a lot of my worldview in it. I don't see why I shouldn't. Science offers testable explanations for observable phenomena. If it's wrong, and a lot of it no doubt is, then it will be corrected as we go. And the way I see it, science doesn't so much offer truth as much as the best explanation for what we now know.

And on what grounds do you object to the idea that the world is probably around 4.5 billion years old, or at least very old? I don't understand how you can, on the one hand, be doing research on child development and then just dismiss the independent research of geologists, cosmologists, chemists etc. On what grounds do you object to their work? And why do you believe that yours is useful? I mean, if you just object to the figure, since we can't really know with absolute certainty, then that's fine. But that wasn't my point.

My point wasn't so much that science is infallible or something, it's just that the Biblical account doesn't make sense in light of much of the facts (even if we ignore their scientific explanations). Creationists, for example, can't account for why oceanic islands almost never have certain types of plants or mammals and reptiles, as continental islands do. I've never heard a good creationist account of biodiversity. But it's what we'd expect if evolutionary theory is true. Creationism can't explain why humans, for example, have the gene to convert glucose into vitamin c but not the protein needed to activate it. (Leading us to get sick from skirvy if we don't get enough fruit.) Evolutionary theory makes sense of that. In fact, the evidence is so strong that even sophisticated Intelligent Design advocates like William Dempske tend not to question the idea of common descent (and instead focus their energies on things like the bacterial flagellum and the development of DNA).

And the point of questioning the Biblical account was only to show that it cannot be literally true and thus the reasoning behind the sabbath seems questionable to me.

Again, I'm not writing in an attempt to demonstrate that the Bible is false. I'm writing in an attempt to understand why you believe what you believe. I question the morality of killing boys and you tell me that we don't know all the circumstances. That's fine. And that's true. But it doesn't explain why you presume God to be moral in the first place.

I'm just trying to get where your head's at, homie.

Oh, and it doesn't matter to me whether or not a child's environment leads to their being homosexual or their genes do (or both if it's both.) My point was just that it's not a choice. I spoke English as my first language due to nothing but external stimuli. That doesn't make the fact that English was my first language to be a choice.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/28/09 02:29:33 PM 
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Quote:
probably around 4.5 billion years old


Probably? An estimate satisfies nothing...

As far as my belief, atomic bombs, and calling people illegal aliens while searching for life in outer space, H1N1 and other lab created diseases, our astronomical debt and the hate between political parties and different ethnicities, etc. etc. etc. prove all man and his sciences know how to do is destroy things. We prolong life with our sciences but don't want health care reform to make that prolonged life more affordable; countries help build stations in outer space, but poor neighborhoods destroyed by hurricanes have yet to be rebuilt. I can go on and on about the foolishness of man and their oppression of each other, and so, the more pertinent question is why do you continue to trust in man and their tools of knowledge--that only seems to make life more stressful and depressing.

He's a communist, socialist, capitalist. Man put each other into categories in order to justify hate and oppression. Religion does the same and that is why I have no religion.

I am not one of those that believe computer science, IBM, with their petaflop will make a "smarter" world. Instead, they will read our emails and tap our phones and...

You ask my why I believe, that is the easiest of questions, Because if every human applied the 10 commandments then the world would be better, which also speaks of it perfection. And no one can deny that...However, most of us have discarded it for the sake of finding human perfection, which has led to the Resident Evil, lab experiment, we now call earth.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/28/09 11:14:29 PM 
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No disrespect, but that doesn't seem like a very well thought out position, especially for someone who comes across as a thoughtful person. God's Law as told in the Bible is not the only moral system that was supposedly revealed to an ancient people. And ancient systems aren't the only moral systems. And even among the ancient systems, I don't see how God's Law is superior to say, the morality of Confucius, which was developed within the context of traditional Chinese religious values and teachings, and which helped China move away from an age of violence and anarchy.

I mean, let's say I argued that if people studied the Analects of Confucius and took the fundamental ethical lessons to heart the world would be much better (And I would! Like the Bible, it's often very true and beautiful). Would that make all of the rituals necessary or make the Mandate of Heaven or any other of the intricacies of ancient Chinese thought any more correct? I just don't understand how you move from point A to B. Regardless of how perfect God's Law might be in your eyes, I don't see how you move down the line and accept the history or the prophecy and what not.

With respect to this:

Free$peech wrote:
An estimate satisfies nothing...


Then why do you even bother wasting your time doing research?! With science, there is no absolute truth--only degrees of certainty. So by your own reasoning, your research satisfies nothing!

Hell, if an estimate satisfies nothing, then what's the point of reading your Bible? The very best translations are just best estimates of what the original texts might have said. And even if we had the original texts, they're just written versions of oral tradition, which has its own flaws. Thus even if the god of the Bible exists, you can't be absolutely sure that God's Law is what is written in your Bible. At best, you can know that it's probably true.

But I don't know...


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/29/09 12:29:07 AM 
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You asked me why I believe in Scripture. Your question did not ask me to include or deny Confucianism--but a good smoke screen! Take the tenets of the Bible, Koran, Confucius, etc etc. etc. They all boil down to do not steal, do not kill and so forth. The commandments are universal, good morals for all human beings and again, if man applied it, the world would be better. Confucius came after the 10 Commandments, so no credence their...In your response, you did not deny that if the 10 commandments were applied by all human beings, that the world would be a better place. You asked me why I believed, and I am sorry my answer wasn't filled with fancy words and artful phrases; I need not convolute such an easy explanation. This is simple, elementary: you can find no fault in the 10 commandments. You try to subtly include all the Mosaic law, but I have given you proof about the separation of the Moral law and the Mosaic law. 10 Commandments, they're perfect. Again, you asked me why I believe in the Scripture, and not why other people believed, or why not follow other moral laws. So for you to introduce other doctrines that have something like a Golden Rule only strengthens my resolve, that the thinkers offer more to the world...I am sure I can find remnants of the commandments in Confucius' writings.

Quote:
The essence of the teachings of Confucius is that there are things you must have in order for a stable, developing, flourishing civilized society to survive. These are called golden rules and it turns out that every major religion in the world has the same set of golden rules. One need not be a superbeing or supernatural being to know this. These are the unspoken rules or universal rules that each civilization at certain times will realize because they are fundamental. For example, you can't have a society where everybody kills everybody else and you can't have a society where everybody only does things for their own individual greed. There has to be some common bond, some way for the common good to come out. This common good is embodied in Confucius' sayings, the ten commandments of Moses, the rules of all religions.


And, you're right. Scripture fills a lot of holes in the social sciences, for me. And, since I am a Social constructionists, I construct with the 10 commandments, because they are perfect. They may inconvenience you because you may not want to worship or keep a day of rest, but, regardless, they're perfect and is better for society and the world than any social science theory. And, the Bible is not a science. Men have sciences like theology, but that is not from the Bible, it is from man. Theology like other sciences only take people away from simplicity and logic, just apply the 10 commandments. Confucianism is a practical philosophy, not a religion, that centers on people-to-people relationships. So do the 10 Commandments.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/29/09 01:09:58 AM 
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You completely missed the point of everything I just wrote. I'll leave it at that.

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/29/09 05:29:46 AM 
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Big Doug wrote:
No disrespect, but that doesn't seem like a very well thought out position, especially for someone who comes across as a thoughtful person. God's Law as told in the Bible is not the only moral system that was supposedly revealed to an ancient people. And ancient systems aren't the only moral systems. And even among the ancient systems, I don't see how God's Law is superior to say, the morality of Confucius, which was developed within the context of traditional Chinese religious values and teachings, and which helped China move away from an age of violence and anarchy.

I mean, let's say I argued that if people studied the Analects of Confucius and took the fundamental ethical lessons to heart the world would be much better (And I would! Like the Bible, it's often very true and beautiful). Would that make all of the rituals necessary or make the Mandate of Heaven or any other of the intricacies of ancient Chinese thought any more correct? I just don't understand how you move from point A to B. Regardless of how perfect God's Law might be in your eyes, I don't see how you move down the line and accept the history or the prophecy and what not.


I missed the point, okay? My last post dealt directly with these two paragraphs. Again, I try and keep it simple. There's no doubt that you're sincere with your questions and very knowledgeable, but I do think your attempts to offer parallels convolute the discussion, which is very simple. What are God's answer for the world? Your answers to discredit that notion: Laffer Curve, Keynesian Economics, Numbers 31 and Confucianism, none of which explains how the Scripture is not applicable or why it should not be used for the problems in our nation today. But, I digress...

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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 08/29/09 12:54:17 PM 
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Yeah I guess you "dealt with" what I wrote. But you didn't seem to understand what I wrote because you didn't "deal with" any of the points I made. Let me try to be as clear as I can.

The point of bringing up Confucianism was not to throw up a smoke screen but to demonstrate that there is an alternative, even in the ancient world, to your preferred ethical system. The point was that even if Confucian ethics are good, true and useful it does not follow that all of the ritual prescribed or the claims made in the religious tradition in which it occurs are good, true or useful. Furthermore, your point about Confucius coming after the supposed revelation to Moses is completely and utterly moot because A.) There's absolutely no evidence that the Hebrews had any influence on Confucius and B.) Confucius wasn't devising a new system. He was restoring and reinterpreting a much older tradition. Also, Confucianism might be a practical system but it, like the Commandments has a religious and cultural context that can't be ignored. My point was that I don't think that the possible validity of Confucian ethics validates traditional Chinese religious beliefs any more than the possible validity of the 10 Commandments validates traditional Jewish religious beliefs. You never even bothered to deal with this argument. You also never even bothered to consider my point about textual criticism. You just went on about the folly of man and his science and theology or some shit.

And I say all of this not to "discredit" your belief. I'm trying to understand it. Because it seems to me that your faith rests on a very flimsy foundation and you've given me precious little reason to think otherwise. And I mean you no disrespect by that. I'm just trying to wrap my head around it.


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 Post subject: Re: What is God's answer(s) to America's problems?
PostPosted: 09/01/09 10:20:08 AM 
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I took some time to re-read our thread and just think about your position, and again, without a doubt, you are sincere.

Where I am struggling is on several occasions you have asked me, why I believe or that you wanted to see where my head was at. And when I gave you a simple answer about the collapsing world around us and because no one can deny that the 10 Commandments, if followed by the world, would make the world a better place, you said I missed the point. Perhaps I made the mistake of answering your questions within the same context of challenging your other ideas; I concede.

Confucious and other great thinkers tapped into God's universality when they propose constructionist theories, like a Golden Rule. One of Confucius early followers spoke of a heavenly mandate, an external criteria of sorts for the human nature. We can debate all day of whether or not we should attached a God to the mandate, but why? As far as we are concerned, we will not agree. I just find the use of the word heavenly as striking...It leads me to assume, they looked up for answers rather than look around and within man for answers, do you disagree?

So it boils down to what I believe and what you believe. I do believe God has answers for our country, universal answers, therefore it doesn't specifically address Keynesian economics or Laffer curves, but Keynesian ec or Laffer curve doesn't provide answers either. God also doesn't address the internet, so does that make God irrelevant? Of course not! However, if God's principles was to be injected into the goals of the Laffer curve and Keynesian ec, then the outcomes, I feel, will improve the human condition, and not vice versa, because we see what these tools without God gets us...

Self-disclosure...I never had a father growing up and of late, by working with the youth I work with, having a father is essential. God became that Father to me, someone that had expectations, guidance and love for his child. I am his child and he is my Father, and all glory to Him, because I have expanded my territory, and have had an acre donated to me for gardening and water harvesting, and have people in full support of my constructionist program, based on my Father's principles. In theory, His ways works...In this time in my life, I am gaining exponentially, while leaving behind the complexities of the world.

This is simple. Sciences and their endless genealogies have participated in creating a country/industrial world that is the world's leader in anti-depressant and anxiety medication; suicides rates are climbing rapidly and we are hearing more and more acts of heinous crimes. Lets stop with the endless genealogies and begin with getting to know each other as human beings and walking together on the road that satisfies our basic human needs. You can study all the rocks you want and can make guesses forever to the age of the world; you can fly into outer space and re-create the Big Bang all you want, but the question will always remain, how did you improve the human condition? Our selfish desire to disprove of a God or to have answers to everything divert resources from the improving of the human conditions to satisfying vanity. We call Mexicans migrating to America, Illegal aliens, but search for signs of life on Mars. This is an example of undermining the betterment of the human condition for vanity, because nothing on Mars can help us here.

And that question is what I am charged with by my Father. I am glad he filled that void of Father in my life, because I am a visionary, and by faith, obedience and agriculture, I again, am gaining exponentially. All glory to Him...

GCM and the LUV movement is coming...

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