Big Doug wrote:
I appreciate your post. I still disagree (obviously) but I still appreciate it. And I should point out that when I raise an objection to a claim that you make, I raise it not in an attempt to show you how smart I am or to try to poke holes in your beliefs. I try to approach discussions like this with the assumption that I am no smarter or knowledgeable than those with whom I'm participating (and you've shown in this discussion that your knowledge of the Bible is superior to mine). And so, when I raise a question I do so with the presumption that you've either wrestled with the question yourself and can give an answer or that you can wrestle with the question and give an answer. Like I said before, I'm just trying to understand your thinking.
As far as your belief in the perfection of the Commandments, let me put it like this. I can comfortably concede that you're probably right that if the 10 Commandments were followed universally, the world would be a better place. I'll even include a belief in God, keeping the Sabbath and the rules against graven images. If we're just assessing things in terms of their utility, it's not a hard sell at all.
Having a god is useful because some people, not all people, need a kind of supervising authority to keep them from doing wrong. When you talk morality with a Christian at university, for example, they're pretty likely to quote Dostoevsky when he wrote that "if there is no immortality, all is permitted." What they fail to grasp is that Dostoevsky was a novelist and the person who said it was just a character in his story (and not a particularly bright one at that!) Still, the truth of the quotation is in the fact that some people really do think this way and therefore the concept of God is, without question, useful for those people. For example, some of Dostoevsky's future countrymen came to delight in seeing what evil they could do to prisoners precisely because they believed that there was no god to punish them in the afterlife. It's obvious then that things would have been better for at least a few people if these men believed in God. Likewise, I don't think it's a good idea for us to be working every day of the week. And so a day of rest, and especially one that is to be spent with family and friends, is probably a very good idea. And I very much like the idea that graven images should be forbidden. I really don't think it's good that I can go into almost any Black church, for example, and find a big ol' picture of a lily white Jesus with flowing hair (and probably blue eyes) with either a group of white disciples or with his white mother. Historical inaccuracy aside, I think that it's fairly obvious that raising a Black child with the idea that this picture is an accurate representation of a man that is either God or God's son in this particular country in this particular time can have very bad effects. (And if someone disagrees, then they should probably listen to Rass Kass' first album.) The usefulness of the rest of the Commandments are, I think, self-evident. (With the possible exception of coveting. I don't know that it's necessarily a bad thing to want something that someone else has.)
So that's all well and good. I just don't see how any of this makes the Bible true. See, where I part ways with you is your belief that, because of the objective usefulness of these laws, they were divinely inspired. I mean, you point out that the Chinese claimed that they were looking outside of themselves for their moral beliefs and this is true. But were they actually doing this? Earlier you claimed that part of God's covenant with the Hebrews was that they were to bring God's Law to the rest of mankind. If that's true then they were God's means of disseminating the Law. And if that's true then the Chinese most likely did not get their laws by looking outside of themselves and up to God because there's no evidence that they had contact with the Hebrews. Therefore, I think both of us would then have to agree that just because someone sincerely believes that they are looking up for the answers doesn't mean they actually are. Now if your worldview is true then it's possible that they looked within and found God's Law. The Bible says that God wrote His Law on the hearts of man. But I don't think that you need to believe the Bible is true to believe that people have an innate sense of morality. The Darwinian account leads to that exact same view. (In fact, I'd argue that it accounts for the results of certain psychological experiments better than the Christian account.) Furthermore, if it's possible to look within and derive God's Law then what's the point of God's covenant with the Hebrews in the first place? Basically, I don't see how the supposed perfection of the 10 Commandments necessitates even a belief in God, let alone a complex belief system such as Judaism or Christianity.
And as far as selfishness goes, I could make an argument that believing that you have a close and personal relationship with the creator of the universe is much more egotistical and selfish than believing that you are merely one individual among billions who inhabit a tiny spec of dust in a quiet corner of a vast vast vast universe. The belief that humanity is special is, after all, derived not from science but from religion. And as far as the selfishness of science goes (ie satisfying the curiosity of whether or not life exists or existed on Mars) I really don't see what the problem is. I mean, with regard to whether it's selfish or not you'd have no argument from much of the scientific community. Physicist Leonard Susskind even goes as far as to call this kind of science "selfish science." But I don't see what's wrong with that. I'd consider my music, for example, to be very much a selfish exercise. I write rhymes and make beats not because I think it will improve society or open people's minds but because I like to do it. And I'd assume that your participation in this discussion has something to do with your desire to witness for your god. But I'd also assume that it has something to do with the fact that this topic is very interesting and fun to discuss. I really don't see the problem with some degree of selfishness on some issues.
And obviously our society is not perfect. Some of us use anti-depressants and heinous crimes are committed. Okay. But were the Hebrews perfect? Was Israel perfect? Many of her rulers were supposed to be prophets of God and yet her people were just as imperfect as people are today. You mentioned David earlier. He committed adultery and sent innocent men to die because of his lust. As a non-believer, I've done some awful things but none as awful as this. So I just don't see how our imperfection is supposed to be a point against science or secular philosophy or secular society given that theocratic and Bible based societies were also imperfect. And even according to your own belief system, imperfection is part of human nature.
Now, with regard to the idea universal truth, I conceded this point up front. If you want to argue that the Bible provides a basic philosophical framework in which to assess our problems, you'll have no argument from me. (I might disagree with the truth of that framework but not that it provides one.) My problem is that I think that our most pressing problems are economic and require a technical economic answer. And so I think that Keynes and Smith have much more to say to us than do Christ or Moses. Again, that doesn't mean that the Bible has no answers. It just means the Bible is not relevant to every discussion and specifically the discussion of our most pressing problems. Again, the Bible was written thousands of years ago and it shows.
But regardless of what the Bible's relevance is, I've very much enjoyed this discussion.
God went on to strip the Hebrews of their priestly duties for their imperfections, hence the Son...Hence their is neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, because the Hebrews have failed in their duties to assist...Even now, they are in bed with the most heinous of nations.
Do you use our tax dollars to make your beats? They use our tax dollars for flying to the moon, building space stations and flying to Mars. The example you gave is not even on the same spectrum. You do not impose laws on or levy taxes from others to finance your endeavors. That's selfish...
I do not talk Christianity with Christians because Christians took it a step further than the Hebrews. Hebrews decided to ignore their priestly duties and the Christians corrupt a very simple idea and make it complex and stupid. A belief in God is not a complex system; all that it requires is:
16"(A)Wash yourselves, (B)make yourselves clean;
(C)Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight
(D)Cease to do evil,
17Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless,
(F)Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
"Let Us Reason"
18"Come now, and (G)let us reason together,"
Says the LORD,
"(H)Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
What is complex about this? Nothing. It is written, the abovementioned, is pure and undefiled religion. The problems with Christians, they pursue justice and do good based on the principles of self-preservation, while destroying everybody else. They do not want to reason, they want to condemn or, at the least, coerce assimilation.
Part of the economy's problem is the welfare state, a state of affairs where people are reckless with their lives. The Bill Cosby proclamation to Black people, but more universal. It cost the state of Nebraska $220 a day for one child in an Enhanced Treatment group home; do the math, if I keep the child for six months, I would be able to send for adults to the University of Lincoln for that same cost. Fornication and having children out of wedlock and not parenting these children as they need is a great burden on the state. 75% of these youths continue needing services and most likely will end up in jail, in which we pay for as well...However, I do not blame the orphans for their parents lack of self-control and obedience. Look at Health and Human services budget for children, a budget that can be reduced if the bibles principle of love, parenting and discipline was enforced. I can use the Bible to help the current state of the economy. Seriously, I do not know where you live, but research children behavioral health and the per diem rates. Spare the rod hate the child--Bible If you want to talk economic recovery, then it begins with a commitment to parenting and child-rearing, very much Bible ideas.
What about the Bibles views on agriculture? A renewed sense of Agriculture and caring for the earth is also a very Bible idea; remember, about letting the animals and land rest for a year, to restore and recover. Seriously, I am not kidding, the very things I do in life are Bible principles. And when professors in my Master's program respond to my proposals by saying, "You have things that cannot be taught in a classroom." then say it is to God's glory because I learned it via His inspiration. So I have mentioned two ways of helping the economy using the Bible. And I can go on...How about when the Bible says turn your weapons into plows. In other words, invest in farming, not military...would that help the world today? No Doubt!
I've offered two remedies for the economy using the Bible. In previous post, I called for more community supported agriculture, because if communities are growing a need resource together, then that community will grow closer together because of said supported ag, which then makes it harder to kill, steal, or rob from a neighbor. The Bible has answers.