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Ask a Theologian III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Nov 7, 2009.

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  1. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Actually this one´s been solved: chicken. Can easily google that one. ;)

    Slight rehash here:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    Leaving aside that mathematics is a human construct (which breaks the analogy as the sun analogy did), we can only 'experience' math after we have learned it. Assuming a person does not know math and having 2 eggs he gets 2 more, all he knows is he now has more eggs than before. Now, not assuming that God is a human construct, how can we experience God if we not already know God? (It's here that the analogy is an improvement on the sun analogy. We know the sun exists, as we can see it. Which is the basic tenet for any experience. However we cannot see God. Moses tried and was nearly blinded* - by the way another interesting analogy with the sun, but equally irrelevant here.) Also, math is not atemporal: there was a time math did not exist; reasoning back we assume that the laws of mathematics have always worked.

    This is so confused I hardly know what you're saying. First, while the discipline of mathematics, including conventions of notation etc., may be a human construct, it's pretty tendentious to assert that mathematics itself is a human construct. If I have two eggs and then I get another two eggs, I have, as a matter of fact, four eggs whether or not I know it, and whether or not I use the word "four" in describing this happy situation. There is nothing arbitrary in saying that. If you think otherwise you should provide an argument in support of your position.

    A person with no knowledge of mathematics cannot possibly add 2 and 2 together - since numbers are a mathematical principle.

    Second, it seems to me quite a wild claim to say that someone uneducated in mathematics could tell only that he had more eggs than before. Surely it doesn't require a mathematical education to recognise that there is a difference between (a) having two eggs and acquiring two more and (b) having two eggs and acquiring only one more. To suggest that the difference between these two situations, or our ability to recognise such a difference, is a purely human construct seems to me to take relativism to an absurd extreme. At the very least you need to provide an argument for it.

    There have been experiments to this effect with animals; assuming animals (say, chimpansees) have no knowledge of mathematics (i.e. they cannot count), all they will appreciate is "more" or "less" eggs,

    Third, while the human discipline of mathematics certainly hasn't always existed, given that human beings haven't always existed, it certainly doesn't follow that the laws of mathematics have not always held. It is no arbitrary assumption to think that, because 2+2=4 is true now, 2+2=4 was true a billion years ago. Again, if you think that's an arbitrary assumption, you need to provide an argument to that effect.

    I did (and do) not claim it is an arbitrary assumption; in fact, I clearly state that we assume that the laws of mathematics have always been valid. However, it remains an assumption nonetheless.
    Fourth, I don't see why one would have to know God as a precondition for experiencing God. I don't have to know the Pacific Ocean as a precondition for seeing it. Why can't someone who has no knowledge of God nevertheless experience God? How do you know that no-one can see God - just because the Bible says so? Are we going to conduct this discussion as biblicists, then?

    Actually you would have to know the Pacific to be able to see it; otherwise all you would see is a body of water. So, analogy apart, if you saw God - but didn´t know it was God - all you could say was I´ve seen, say, something very remarkable. And, bible apart, noone claiming to have seen God, has been able to give an even remotely accurate description. (But I mentioned the bible - more specifically the Torah section of it - as it contains one person who reportedly has seen God.)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    Summing up I've seen no valid argument why it would be possible to experience atemporal phenomena. (Plotinus merely asked how I know it to be true.) Ergo, the problem is as yet unsolved.

    On the contrary, I would say that I haven't seen any argument at all, valid or otherwise, to the effect that it isn't possible to experience atemporal phenomena. So I conclude that, as far as I can tell, there isn't a problem at all.

    You might say that, but it is as unfounded as a claim to the contrary without any evidence to substantiate that statement. Problem unsolved as is.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    You will note that my first assertion was that atemporal phenomena cannot be experienced. While I hold this to be self-evident, I'll explain however why: we lack the senses to experience anything atemporal, and, by extension, the instruments to do so.

    Well, here for the first time we get an argument, but it's still just begging the question. You say that we lack the senses to experience anything atemporal. How do you know this? What's the argument that supports this assertion?

    You seem to be asking for an argument to supprt an argument... The question however should be how do we perceive (measure, see) atemporal phenomena?
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    The first is just a repetition of what Plotinus said: an effect of a nontemporal phenomenon could be experienced by temporal beings. But why would this be so? My point is that all humans can experience/measure are temporal phenomena. How would one make certain that any temporal effect results from a nontemporal phenomenon? That's just the problem.

    Whether one could be certain of it or not is irrelevant. Let's say I see a physical manifestation which is, as a matter of fact, caused by God. Let's say, further, that it is legitimate to call seeing such a manifestation a vision of God in an indirect way, just as my perception of the Invisible Man's clothes while he is wearing them can be legitimately described as a vision of the Invisible Man in an indirect way. Then my seeing this manifestation is a case of my seeing God (in this sense). Whether I know that it's a case of my seeing God is irrelevant to that fact. I may, indeed, believe that I haven't just seen God, but if the conditions mentioned above are satisfied, then in fact I have seen God and I am wrong to think I haven't.

    Relevance: you say you see a manifestationcaused by God. How do you know this? Using the Invisble Man analogy all one can say is: there´s an invisible man. Letting the analogy be, since we have no description of what God looks like (that is, already assuming an atemporal being "looks" like anything), a vision of a manifestation of God´s work does not amount to "seeing God" - merely to seeing God´s work. The problem, again, is: how do we know this is God´s doing? Basically, even if you´re seeing God´s work, you´re not seeing God, you´re seeing God´s work. (Theorically your example - not the Invisible Man ofcourse - is correct, but I´m interested in the practical aspect.)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    (One might even argue that temporal phenomena have no effect on nontemporal phenomena - since they are outside of it, i.e. out of time, so to speak.

    One could only argue that if one held that causation must be wholly temporal. But anyone who believes in an atemporal God who is the cause of the universe must reject that principle right from the start, so it's not relevant to this discussion.

    Yes, but this disects into two separate causations:

    1) an atemporal God
    2) God being the cause of the universe.

    It´s perfectly possible to believe in a God who is not the cause of the universe.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    And one might ask why timely phenomena - such as we ourselves are - should concern a nontemporal being, such as God is supposed to be.

    I don't see why an atemporal being should be especially unconcerned about temporal beings. Why should our temporality make us of less concern to an atemporal God? Once again, what is the argument?

    It follows from an untemporal being not being affected by temporal phenomena - which in itself is perfectly plausible. The general assumption however is that God is concerned by temporal events. That is, however, an assumption, not a fact.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    However, according to the bible, timely events do affect God, and God actively responds to them. That suggests temporal attributes rather than nontemporal ones. What need would a nontemporal phenomenon have for temporal attributes?)

    Again, I don't really see why an atemporal being couldn't respond to temporal events; it is no harder than an atemporal being affecting temporal events. There is a problem only if one assumes that causation must be wholly temporal, but as I have already said, anyone who thinks God is atemporal must reject that assumption anyway.

    Again, the assumption is that temporal and atemporal phenomena affect one another; however, unless there is no strict division between the two, there is no reason that they actually do. (Whether causation is temporal, atemporal or something in between isn´t relevant at all.)

    ---

    But I´ve stumbled unto another problem: assuming God is omnipotent and perfectly good is illogical. To be perfectly good excludes even the possibility of doing evil, yet omnipotence implies the opposite.
     
  2. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    I was asking a theologian.

    @math rambling, how is appreciating that the amount of eggs is now more not at some primitive level a mathematical thing?
     
  3. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    As I understand it, canons regarding the faith are irreversible, but canons regarding discipline are reversible. The old Catholic encyclopedia says that even where such a canon is not explicitly reversed later on, it may nevertheless be effectively reversed if the circumstances which led to its being promulgated in the first place change. It doesn’t give any examples, though, and I can’t find any discussion of this subject in the new Catholic encyclopedia – although its entry on Lateran IV says that its decrees concerning the Jews should be understood in the context of the political situation of the time, implying that they are of only historical relevance, but without going into details of how or in what way. And the introduction to Tanner’s Decrees of the ecumenical councils, which is the definitive text of the decrees themselves of all the councils, says (p. xvi):

    That would seem to suggest that such decrees, including the constitutions of Lateran IV on the Jews, are at least authoritative and valid. There’s no discussion there of how they can be superseded at least as far as effect goes.

    Yes, I don’t see why they wouldn’t (although many of them were related to issues of the day, of course).

    He would no doubt approve of Calvinism’s emphasis upon the sinfulness of humanity and the need for divine grace, while disapprove of its break with the Catholic Church. The former characteristics of Calvinism can be seen as something of an exaggeration of Augustine’s ideas – nowhere does he articulate the doctrine of total depravity, for example, but he comes close on occasion. This is why, in the seventeenth century, the Catholic theologian Cornelius Jansen wrote a huge book entitled Augustinus in which he argued that doctrines such as total depravity and the non-freedom of the will are authentically Augustinian. The Jansenist movement that resulted can be seen as, effectively, Catholics who thought that the Calvinists had got it largely right (apart from the not-being-Catholic part). Whether Augustine himself would have agreed with them is impossible to determine, though – someone of his range and scope is impossible to pin down to that extent.

    The only substantial information I could find on this at short notice is in Pope, M. (1965) The Anchor Bible: Job Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    The book of Job is textually the most varied and difficult of any Old Testament book. The Septuagint lacks about four hundred lines that are present in the Hebrew, that is, about a sixth of the entire book. A Coptic text of the book from before the third century AD is also missing these lines. When Origen revised the Greek text in the third century he had to add in all these missing lines from another translation.

    (I also found Pietersma, A and Wright, B., eds. (2007) A new English translation of the Septuagint Oxford: Oxford University Press, which is very interesting from this point of view. In their introduction to Job they note that the omissions from the Septuagint, compared to the Hebrew, get more numerous as you progress through the book; in the first fifteen chapters, 4% of the text is missing, but in chapters 32-37, 35% is missing. The translation in this edition is given with Origen’s insertions clearly marked – as Origen himself had marked them – so one can see what was missing.)

    Now it seems that the explanation for this is uncertain. Some scholars think that the shorter version is actually the original, in which case the Septuagint version was translated from an earlier Hebrew version, and the longer Hebrew version we have represents a later, expanded text. But most scholars disagree with this and think that the Septuagint translator simply omitted the missing lines. Why he did this, though, is unclear. Pietersma and Wright suggest that much of the Septuagint translation should be seen as an epitome: the author omits what he regards as repetition and also tries to structure it more carefully with the addition of Greek particles; furthermore, he moves some material around and even adds some bits from elsewhere in the Old Testament. Not only that but he changes many words, often rearranging their letters to make completely different words. He may have done this consciously to try to get the best text, as modern scholars often emend manuscripts where they think a slightly different spelling or reading would result in a meaning that makes more sense.

    Some scholars have thought that this is down to theological bias. Pope cites H.S. Gehman and D.H. Gard as representatives of this view, although he does not say what he thinks the translator’s theological bias actually was. He also cites H. Orlinsky as arguing that in fact the omissions are not theologically motivated. Pope implies that this argument is decisive, but he goes on to suggest that even so, the translator did “muddle the sense a bit” of some passages, such as 13:15. The original text, he suggests, is “Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope.” He argues that, quite independently, two groups of ancient scholars sought to mitigate this. The first was the Masoretes, the Jewish scholars who fixed the vocalisation of the Hebrew text (which lacks vowels) and whose text is our main source for the text of Job; they made a very slight change to the spelling of one of the words to change the meaning to “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” The other group of ancient scholars who changed the text’s meaning was the translator of the Septuagint, who did not know of the Masorete alteration. He just fudged the translation, to come up with “Though the Mighty One lay hand on me, since he has already begun, I will speak and plead before him.” It is also worth bearing in mind that traditional Jewish translation was at least partly exegesis, involving a rather free use of the text. Pope comments that Jerome, the author of the Latin version of the text, was trained by rabbis and that this explains why he sometimes gives an overly free translation as well.

    So in short, it looks like the author of the Septuagint version of Job did make some changes to the text along the way, but to what degree these were motivated by theological bias and to what degree by just missing out stuff that was too tricky, is hard to tell.

    Yes, this is why we shouldn’t trust any supposed “quote” that doesn’t give a source.

    I don’t know. I think it’s a pretty reasonable position. I certainly don’t believe in Cartesian dualism. However, you should be aware that there are forms of dualism that are not Cartesian, such as property dualism. Property dualists hold that there are no non-physical substances (or at least they may hold that) but that some physical substances have properties that are non-physical and cannot be reduced to physical substances. One may think, for example, that the brain has mental properties which are not reducible to its physical properties, but that the brain is nevertheless a physical thing.

    I don’t think that any evidence would vindicate either, which is why the argument between them is a philosophical one rather than a scientific one.

    I think consciousness is like identity – it’s either one of the hardest riddles in metaphysics or it’s utterly straightforward. But I don’t know which.

    It’s too big a movement to have a single opinion about. I’d ask what you mean by “postmodernism” before pronouncing on it.

    In answer to the first two questions, not much. In answer to the third, I don’t feel much such responsibility, because really I think it’s people’s own responsibility to be aware of things if they think they’re important. But I try to help educate the “common masses” to some extent, at least, more because it’s what I want to do rather than because I have a particular vocation or moral imperative to do it.

    Actually I know very little about it, I’m afraid, so there’s not much to say, other than that I wouldn’t place much trust in what Dan Brown has to say on the subject.

    I’m sure you know the answer to that as well as anyone.

    Biblically speaking, “antichrist” is not a person but an attitude, mentioned in the Johannine letters as an aberrant doctrine about Christ. The term does not appear in Revelation. Even if it did appear in Revelation, I don’t see how I could answer a question like that, since I wouldn’t be inclined to fit ancient apocalyptic literature to the situation of today. They wouldn’t be anyone.

    That doesn’t address the point I was making, which was that the fact that two objects plus two objects is four objects irrespective of whether any observer recognises this fact.

    No; I would need to know that it’s the Pacific in order to see it as the Pacific, but the Pacific can obviously be the object of my perception whether I know it’s the Pacific or not. If I am looking at the Pacific without knowing that it’s the Pacific, and while looking at it I learn that it is the Pacific, then the object of my perception does not change, although certainly the way I perceive it may do so. If you really think that the object of my perception changes, then consider this: suppose I am looking at the Pacific and I don’t know it’s the Pacific, and you are, at the same time, also looking at the Pacific, and you know that it’s the Pacific. On your principles, the object of my perception is not the same as the object of your perception (since you claim that I am not perceiving the Pacific at all, whereas you are). It would follow that there are two oceans there. But that is surely an absurd conclusion.

    Similarly, if I perceive God without knowing that it’s God, then I do indeed perceive God, because God is the object of my perception. I just don’t know that this object is God.

    Right, but none of this means that we can’t perceive God; at most it means we might not recognise him as God when we perceive him.

    I’m asking for an argument to support a premise. Your argument seems to be:

    (1) Any being that lacks the sensory equipment to perceive atemporal things cannot perceive atemporal things.
    (2) We lack the sensory equipment to perceive atemporal things.
    (3) Therefore, we cannot perceive atemporal things.

    I’m asking what your argument is to support (2).

    You mean, how do I, the observer of the manifestation, know that it’s caused by God? I might not know it at all. But again, that’s neither here nor there. My point was that there could be a case for saying that to perceive such a manifestation (directly) is to perceive God (indirectly). Whether one knows that one is perceiving God under such conditions is a completely different issue.

    But I’m not remotely interested in the practical aspect, and it wasn’t the practical aspect we were talking about. This started as a discussion about the possibility of perceiving God. You keep trying to turn it into a discussion about the possibility of knowing when you’re perceiving God. That’s not the same thing!

    Now you also say here that if I see God’s work I’m not really seeing God, only his work. But what I’m saying is that the Invisible Man case suggests that this might not be so; if I see a suit of clothes walking about, it is legitimate to say that I’m seeing the Invisible Man, even though I am only directly seeing his clothes. Indeed, on Platonism, we are not identical with our bodies; we are instead identical with our souls, which cannot be perceived. So on Platonism, when I say “I see you”, I am in fact not seeing you directly; I am only directly seeing your body. But I can still legitimately be said to see you in an indirect way, via your body. Whether Platonism is true or not, this would surely a consistent and viable way of speaking if it were true. Indeed, when I look at you I don’t really see you anyway, I only see a small part of you, namely your skin. But if I were to say “I see you,” would it be a legitimate response to say, “No, you don’t, you’re only seeing my skin”?

    Similarly, perhaps one could say that one can perceive God indirectly when one perceives his works directly. In fact the Orthodox tradition says pretty much this when it says that what we experience of God is not his essence but his energeia, that is, his activity; this is an idea drawn from Gregory of Nyssa but later articulated by Gregory Palamas.

    Perhaps, although many would argue that if God is not the cause of the universe he’s not a perfect being, because it would be better if he were the cause of the universe. However, this doesn’t really touch on what I was saying.

    It follows only if you think that someone can be concerned only with things that affect them. But this seems untrue to me. I can be concerned about the plight of children in Africa even if that doesn’t affect me at all. If you say that it does affect me, because at least I’m part of the same world, then I’d say that if we knew of the existence of a parallel universe in which there was terrible suffering, I’d be concerned about that too even though there’s no way it could affect me.

    It’s not an assumption that they do affect one another. It’s simply a belief that they may. What we’re arguing about is whether it is possible for temporal and atemporal things to be causally linked, not whether they actually are or not. And certainly it’s relevant whether causation is temporal. If causation is necessarily temporal, then an atemporal being cannot, by definition, be causally linked to a temporal one.

    That’s a hoary old chestnut. There are two main possible responses.

    First, being perfectly good does not exclude the possibility of doing evil. A being who is capable of doing evil, but who chooses to do good anyway, seems to be morally superior to a being who always does good because it has no choice. Similar reasoning motivates modern theologians who hold that when Jesus was tempted, it was genuine temptation and he really could have done the wrong thing, because if he weren’t capable of it, he wasn’t very morally admirable and certainly wasn’t much like us. So on this view, God is quite capable of doing what is wrong, but in fact he never does what is wrong.

    Second, one may think that God is incapable of doing wrong, but hold that this is not a limit to his power, because doing wrong implies a deficiency. To do what is right is always to accomplish more than to do what is wrong. This may, however, require a rethink of the definition of “omnipotence”.
     
  4. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Okay, so a lot of people say that the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve, or the concept of original Sin, is really about sex - that was what their temptation was. But I don't think anyone who believes in Original Sin holds this view. Is there any evidence that the writers of the story in Genesis equated it with sex, or that any later writers who said anything about Original Sin equated it with sex?
     
  5. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    I am not as smart in theology as Plotinus, but I have simply never heard this view, and it doesn't work. Adam and Eve were the only people, and they were married, hence they were allowed to have sex, and I have no doubt they did so before the fall.
     
  6. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    When did they get married? Was God an ordained minister?
     
  7. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    I would actually say figuratively yes.

    However, it said "Adam knew his wife Eve" so while we don't know exactly when they were married, they were.
     
  8. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    So God performed a marriage ceremony for Adam and Eve or did he deputise one of his angels? A point like this is probably important if there are no other humans around.
     
  9. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    I would probably say there wasn't actually a ceremony. Remember, marriages were done differently back then. He probably just told them they were married.
     
  10. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Well, what actually happened isn't what I was asking, my question was about what theologians have said about it.
     
  11. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't think there's anything in the story to indicate that Adam and Eve were "married" to each other in the garden, and I'm not sure what such a claim would even amount to anyway.

    The traditional Christian view was that Adam and Eve were chaste and innocent (on some views, such as that of Irenaeus, they were actually children), and only after being expelled from the garden did they have sex. Certainly if you read the story you'll find that it's only after being expelled that we're told that they did, and that Eve became pregnant. I don't know whether it's reading too much into it or not to suppose that they did not beforehand. So the traditional Christian view was that sex was something that came about only after the Fall, perhaps as something that God instituted as a provision for fallen humanity, making it not a bad thing, but still a symptom of fallenness and therefore not a great thing. I don't think there was ever any suggestion that sex caused the Fall - obviously that would be incompatible with the belief that it didn't exist before the Fall. I can't give you any names behind this belief off the top of my head though.

    Of course it was also often thought (at least after late antiquity) that concupiscence, that is, the tendency of fallen humanity to want to sin, was closely connected with the desire for sex (and this was something that Augustine believed), but that's obviously not the same thing as identifying original sin with that desire. Certainly neither sex nor the desire for it was viewed as intrinsically bad, at least by orthodox Christians.
     
  12. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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  13. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    We´ll leave that to Plotinus then.

    Good to know. Also clearly shows that earlier copiists consciously or unconsciously altered "the Holy Script". (So much so that modern scholars don´t agree on what constitutes the original text here. I seem to remember a somewhat heated discussion of this problem earlier.)

    Actually you seem to overgo the point that someone with no knowledge of mathematics simply wouldn´t be able to add 2 and 2, as mentioned earlier. It´s only a "fact" because of knowledge of mathematics. Since mathematics includes numbers, 1, 2 and 4 have no meaning to someone without this knowledge.

    Sounds plausible, yet it isn´t: whithout knowing the Pacific/God, you can´t discuss it as such; "Pacific" and "God" presupposes a, however limited, knowledge of the subject. In the latter case you may be observing God, but since you don´t know it, the knowledge of that fact escapes you. Plato´s example of the cave might be useful here: the observers mistook the shadows they saw from a light inside the cave for another phenomenon; so they were watching the shadows, not the persons creating them. In this case, one may observe God without knowing, but this knowledge then gets transformed into whatever one interprets it to be. You´re right about being able to observe God in principle, but since we have no verifiable knowledge about God, any interpretation is as viable as the next. That I wouldn´t term "knowledge". (In fact, supposing someone is capable of seeing God, he would have a hard time concincing anyone of the truth of his vision.)

    I would concur, but see above.

    I´ll reverse your question: what would be an instrument to measure or observe atemporal phenomena? Remember, God is an atemporal phenomenon, so this instrument would allow anyone to see God. To my knowledge such an instrument does not exist.

    This goes back to the original issue whether it is possible to observe God, so I´m referring to my comment above.

    The problem is the step you are taking from possibly seeing God to seeing God. The imposition of "God´s work" does not circumvent that. In fact, without any knowledge of God "God´s work" is just one interpretation, as I explained above.

    But I like the Orthodox explanation of God´s energeia; it makes sense. Though in itself ofcourse it does not circumvent the question: how do we know we are witnessing God´s energeia? My point is, the problem just gets transposed from God to God´s work (or energeia.)

    I don´t see a necessary relation between God being a perfect being and God being the cause of the universe. It presupposes that God is the only perfect being, for one - which in itself is another assumption.

    Your reasoning here seems flawd: your concern about hungry children in Africa is just another wording of your being affected by it. For one, conscience is involved. Then there is the guilt issue (what if I do nothing about it?). Bothe conscience and guilt imply affectation. You cannot be affected by something you have no knowledge about. Following the analogy, if you are unconcerned about the hungry children in Africa it will not affect you. Similarly, God´s concern with a tiny planet in a remote corner of the universe presupposes some affectation (which is generally assumed). However, there is no proof of such affectation - unless you already believe in God´s concern with Earth - or some limited segment of its population.

    Theoretically ofcourse anything is possible. But I agree with your conclusion here. The issue ofcourse remains whether causation is by definition temporal, or that temporal and atemporal are not as strictly delimited as one might think.

    I don´t care much for the example of Jesus´ temptation, because it presupposes God is Jesus, which is another question. But you give me a premise, namely, that being perfectly good does not exclude the possibility of doing evil - this is precisely my point. Being perfectly good seems to preclude doing evil (not: having no knowledge of evil); even if presented between the choice between doing good or evil, a perfectly good being has no choice but to do good (for whatever reason, because there could be many).

    In the second you seem to confuse being perfectly good with being omnipotent (which by definition would include doing evil). That one can name such an inability a deficiency, seems appropriate - it if pertains to not doing evil. But being omnipotent in itself has no relation with being good. I don´t see how a limitation of omnipotence can be anything but a denial of the same; omnipotence means being able to do anything - whether good or bad is beside the issue. So I remain unconvinced that the one does not limit the other, which was the isssue.

    Actually I find that both an interesting and a plausible explanation - though not in a literal sense. The bible is remarkably circumspect about anything concerning sex.

    Genesis does not say Adam and Eve are married; Eve is given to Adam for companionship.

    That is indeed a typical biblical way of saying they had sex. But it still does not imply marriage, which seems remarkably absent in these chapters - as indeed women from the genealogical chapters; it is only said that X begot Y and so on and so forth. This seems somewhat odd in light of Judaic matrilineage, since all the Xes are males.

    Since marriage is a ceremony, and it isn´t mentioned, this is actually very interesting. (Marriages weren´t done "very differently back then": all cultures have a ceremony which we might call marriage, and this dates back pretty far. In fact, there is a theory that symbolical acts - ceremony, ritual - defines us as human, i.e. distinct from animals. Ofcourse this theory doesn´t hold, seeing as many animals have courtship rituals.)
     
  14. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    We actually studied Job in Sunday School a few weeks ago, when the thought occurred to me: is the story of Job basically just a framing device for the discussion of philosophy and/or poetry? Is this a concept that would have made sense to the author(s) of Job?
     
  15. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    A wedding is a ceremony. A marriage is the bond between partners. A ceremony is not necessarily required for that.

    IIrc, Judaism has traditionally taught that, while the ritual of marriage and a marriage contract is needed for Jews, among gentiles not bound by the law of Moses there is no need for such things. For gentiles cohabitation and commitment are enough to constitute marriage. Adam and Eve were clearly married in this sense.


    The commandment to be fruitful and multiply and fill the whole earth came before the fall, so sex and childbirth seem to have been intended from the beginning. Pain and difficulty in childbirth is from the curse, but the overall process is part of the original design. Similarly man was made for labor, but only after the curse did this become toil by the sweat of one's brow. (Of course, man is still capable of enjoying labor, and women are still capable of having highly orgasmic deliveries, although bad expectations and a fearful or worried mindset make this extremely unlikely.)
     
  16. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't believe so, although I can't say so off-hand definitively.

    No, it doesn't, because we're talking here about the authors of the Septuagint, not copyists. These were people translating a text from one language to another. Ancient translators certainly didn't always follow the same methods that modern ones do (as the later dispute between Jerome and Rufinus indicates). In the case of the LXX translator of Job, he evidently had a pretty loose notion of his task, which in some ways he seems to have envisioned as the creation of a new piece of literature in Greek based upon the Hebrew one, rather than the same text in a different language. But whatever his conception of his task, it doesn't follow that copyists had the same attitude.

    Also, whether he believed that the text he was translating, or the one he was writing, was "Holy Script" is, I should say, a pretty hard thing to say. Jews in the third or second centuries BC did not have the concept of a canon of scripture in the way that later developed.

    Great, but why's this relevant?

    Again, great, but it's just not relevant, because we're not talking about the ability to discuss what you're perceiving, whether it's the Pacific of God; we're only talking about the ability to perceive it. And as I've indicated, you don't need the concept of "Pacific" to be able to perceive the Pacific; neither, I contend, must one need the concept of "God" to be able to perceive God. In the myth of the cave there were certainly objects of the prisoners' perception, they just misidentified them.

    Again, that's no doubt the case, but again, we're not talking about whether we could know we'd perceived God, let alone whether we could convince anyone else that we had.

    Why would we need an instrument at all? Presumably an instrument is some object or mechanism or combination thereof that mediates between the object of my perception and my mind. So we can count sense organs as "instruments" in this sense. The object acts upon the instrument, which conveys an impression to the mind, and I perceive the object as a result. Now why couldn't God create an impression directly in my mind without needing any instrument to do it?

    No, I'm not taking any step from possibly seeing God to seeing God. We're only talking about possibilities here; the question is whether it's theoretically possible to see God, not whether anyone actually does so, or could know that they have done so, or anything like that. I've suggested that, among other things, one might plausibly think that to see (directly) an effect of God could count as seeing (indirectly) God himself; that's not a step from possibility to actuality, it's a step from direct perception to indirect perception. I'm just saying that since we think such steps to be legitimate in other matters, perhaps they could be in this one.

    Yes, but again, that's a side issue that I'm not interested in discussing.

    The Orthodox answer to that is: revelation. If the energeia illuminate your mind, the knowledge they create there is irresistible.

    Maybe, but this is a side issue that we needn't pursue here.

    I'm afraid I don't really follow your argument here. I was arguing that one can be concerned about something even if it doesn't affect you. I wasn't saying that one can be affected by something that one isn't concerned about. And with regard to whether God is or is not affected or concerned by anything, we're only talking about what is possible here, not whether he actually is.

    Being perfectly good precludes doing evil. But it doesn't preclude the possibility of doing evil, or the ability to do it. My being a good husband requires, among other things, that I don't cheat on my wife. But it doesn't require my being incapable of cheating on her. And some might say that if I have the ability to cheat on her, but choose not to, then that demonstrates more moral character than if I don't cheat on her because I am for some reason incapable of doing so. Similarly, some would say that moral perfection actually requires the ability to do evil, since it is morally better to refrain from doing evil out of choice rather than necessity. So on that view, not only is it not true that a perfectly good being has no choice but to do good, but in order to be perfectly good, the being must have a genuine choice to do evil - but to choose not to.

    No, omnipotence doesn't mean doing everything (that is omnificence), it means only the ability to do everything (at least, everything possible). So an omnipotent being would have the ability to do evil (unless you accept the argument that I alluded to above, according to which such an ability is actually a deficiency and therefore not included in omnipotence) but this does not mean that it actually does evil. Presumably an omnipotent being has the ability to do all sorts of things that he doesn't actually do. If God is omnipotent then he has the ability to turn the Moon into blancmange but he has so far restrained himself from doing so.

    That depends on what your motive is for thinking of God as omnipotent in the first place. For some, omnipotence is derived from goodness, because God's supreme goodness is his fundamental attribute from which all the others are derived; on such a view, God is omnipotent simply because it is good to have power, and best to have as much power as is possible. Those who take this view will be inclined to think that God's power, and his other attributes, must be interpreted in terms of his goodness. For example, Schleiermacher says that we shouldn't think of God's omnipotence simply in terms of this ability to do anything possible, something which Barth (if I remember correctly) says really is more reminiscent of the devil than of God. Rather, we should think of his power as what enables his perfectly good will to be enacted. Above all, God wills the good. To say he is omnipotent is simply to say that there are no barriers on the actualisation of that will. (And similar considerations apply to omniscience, timelessness, etc.) In that context, to ask whether God can do evil is to miss the point entirely; his powers have meaning only inasmuch as they reflect his good will.

    I can't tell you that off-hand because I'm not in the library and this is very much outside my area of knowledge. However, I did once read an interesting piece on Job which made the very good point that its framing story completely undermines the message of the main section. As I understand it, the message of the main section is that we're in no position to question what God does. Job and his friends spend a dreadfully long time speculating and complaining about what's happened, and then God turns up and points out how splendid he is, how what he does is really his prerogative, and they are presumably too puny even to understand why he does what he does. This is all very well except that the introduction to the story has explained precisely why Job suffers such misfortunes. It's perfectly comprehensible to human beings. Not only that, but the explanation is a pretty unedifying one. God, it turns out, allows Job to suffer so much just so he can win a rather sordid little bet with Satan. So when God shows up with all this bluster to Job, there isn't any ineffable divine purpose behind it all - he's just covering up a less than noble reason for what's happened. Job doesn't know that, but we, the readers, do.

    This was the view of the church too until the later Middle Ages, at least to all intents and purposes. A marriage ceremony was seen not as creating a new state of affairs but as recognising an existing one. So in the Middle Ages, most people would just co-habit and regard themselves as married; in some cases the bishop would come round to each area once a year and perform a big marriage ceremony for all the people who had got "married" in the preceding year, basically recognising and legitimising this state of affairs. In the later Middle Ages, however, marriage came to be seen as a sacrament, i.e. something which actually changed things, and our modern notion of marriage developed from that.

    (As I understand it, anyway; I don't know much about this subject.)
     
  17. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Interesting; perhaps, if I may theorize, the framing story was added later by someone who didn't much like the central message.
     
  18. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    That's my immediate reaction too on thinking about it in this way. But I don't know what the scholarly view is. The summary here suggests that the general view is that the framing narrative and the body of the story are not by the same author, but it seems that some people think there is good reason for thinking that the framing narrative is older. Others suggest that the framing narrative got altered later on not in order to undermine the message of the poem but simply under the influence of traditional folk tales.
     
  19. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    The 80's Soviet book I've read too, thinks that the main part and the framing part are made by different people. The author, citing similar examples from Middle Eastern folklore, has argued, that the framing part is a retelling of a folk tale, while all the complaints by Job were written by an author who was less pious then the common man. He suggested that the Septuagint translators softened Job's complaints. Job in the very beginning is definitely more accepting of his fate - when the framing ends, he starts complaining.

    How many other scholars think that the purpose behind writing it all was subversive? Is that a view which is discussed in Godless Liberal Bible-Studying Academia?
     
  20. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    I believe the question, however, was if they were married while in Eden. Your answer seems to suggest that a state of marriage occurred after Eden.

    Indeed. Which is why I used "Holy Script" - it didn´t exist as such until canonized.

    And while you are literally correct (authors - who, Paul apart are mostly unknown - does not necessarily equal copyists), most of the NT texts are copies; the originals are lost. I should think that if an author makes such changes while translating, chances are copyists will do similar things (albeit for different reasons).

    I can´t answer that. I was discussing your example.

    Indeed. So how will one know if one perceives God? You are saying we don´t need any concept of God for seeing God. And I say: that may be true, but without any concept (or idea) of God, "seeing God" has no meaning. In fact, you cannot even call it God, as the concept doesn´t exist. (And here then is the relevance of the numbers example: You can´t say 2 plus 2 equals 4 if you don´t know numbers. and even if you could, it would have no meaning to you.)

    I think that´s quite essential though; we are talking about language, i.e. a means of communication.

    The eyes are an instrument, as is the tongue. If our eyes can(not) see God, our tongue can(not) communicate it.

    I´ve already agreed that it is theoretically possible to see God. (In fact, "seeing God" implies that - theoretical - possibility.) The only problem is the actual seeing of God. What you are doing by introducing "work of God" is extending the seeing to an effect of God. This hinges entirely on the actual existence of God and the question whether any work of God actually exists; it extends the rpeoblem, rather than limiting it. (It also replaces the actual question of perception with deduction - as in the Invisible Man example you gave.)

    Perfectly plausible.

    Thank God for that!
     
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