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Ask a Theologian

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    @scy: I am not referring to the problem of evil, specifically. I am aware of the Epicurian argument, and the fact that my answer to it is "God isn't omnipotent in the sense described" is what started all this. I am just saying that there is no reason to have wildly different definitions of God depending on whether there is more than one. A being that creates the world and has some influence over what happens to it, and that ultimately determines the fate of its inhabitants, would qualify as a god if He/She/It/They had equals, so why not if He/She/It/They are doing it alone?
     
  2. philippe

    philippe FYI, I chase trains.

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    maybe a weird question but: how do you earn your money?
    and is it actually sustainable? (if you want to answer it)

    looking forward to the reply in Ask a theologian II :)
     
  3. Mknn

    Mknn Chieftain

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    This definition would fail for most polytheistic cultures, as the majority of entitites that are revered as deities are not involved in the creation of the cosmos.
     
  4. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    Eran said "would qualify if", which seems to suggest a sufficient but not necessary condition.
     
  5. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    Indeed, that is what I meant. Such a being would be a god, but there would be other ways to qualify for the title.
     
  6. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    The problem with the Epicurean argument is that it assumes that 1) evil exists in god's view of creation and 2) that it is the same as the human definition of evil. Neither of those needs to be true. They are merely human assumptions. In fact, the very human-centeredness of the Epicurean pov, IMO, makes it less likely to actually be true.
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    How could you have sin without evil?

    The Christian version of God obviously believes that there's sin in the world.
     
  8. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    The christians do and they believe that they know what god thinks is evil. Christianity gets caught in its web precisely because the Christians claim to know god's mind when it comes to evil. In addition, the logical paradox it creates also depends upon the assumption that reaspon and logic are more important to god than emotion and irrationality. They may be more important to some people, but there is no evidence that god holds them in higher esteem. In fact, the dominance of irrational acts in the world might lead one to the conclusion that logic and reason are less important than emotion and irrationality. How god feels on the matter is not clear.

    Also the Epicurean argument has been been used here against god in a much more general sense and if one does not use 'evil' in the same way the argument is useless.
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    You didn't answer my question.

    You have a tendency of doing that :)
     
  10. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    If sin means acting with discord to gods directives, then evil is has nothing to do with it. If sin means to act in an evil manner, then they are related.

    sin

    1 a: an offense against religious or moral law b: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible <it's a sin to waste food> c: an often serious shortcoming : fault
    2 a: transgression of the law of God b: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

    So based on a pretty standard definition of sin, I'd say they are mostly unrelated. Certainly not all sins are evil and probably not all evils are sins even though 'sinful' is sometimes used as a synonym for evil.
     
  11. scy12

    scy12 Chieftain

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    Sin is not either a or b . While there could be sins that are stated as A the rest can easily fall under the other definition. Christianity states that the nature of Good as a basic principle of the God and Godhood. Sin is what is opposite from it. I would say that Christian morality is damn near any human morality regarding good and evil. Wait , it condemns Gays , adultery and so on. Well , Christianity is a byproduct of it's time and place. And still while some of these things we may not find evil , Christian morality find them corrupting and immoral and explain them as evil. Even if we disagree with Christian morality on what it's definitions of Evil are it still follows a pretty similar logic path as with all other moralities.

    The Christian Moral system is just another flawed Human morality system with definitions of Evil and Good. And sin is a way to categorize actions that are evil. So that there is special punishment ,treatment regarding those who act regarding a sin.

    In fact , i can say that we can use the sins system for every moral system if that system we assume to be absolute. However it is an inefficient method due to some actions appearing as Evil while they are grey and may have been for the greater good. Eventually they tried to explain this issue regarding sins so that the greater good =/ sins but the system is too inefficient and not suitable for 21st century humanity.

    This is an evil world.
     
  12. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken 99 117 110 116 115

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    @scy12: Wablumps are offenses against Dorfs. Ganlaffs are laws based on Dorfs, and are, in fact, very similar to Dorfs. Sumberdungs are offenses against Ganlaffs. Does this mean Sumberdungs are Wamblumps?

    I'm not too sure, I haven't taken any logic classes nor have I ever participated properly in a debate.
     
  13. scy12

    scy12 Chieftain

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    Well. Before one takes logic classes he must take reading classes so his logical conclusions are regarding what the other had said.

    Let's call sins as calls and evil as crevil , good as ticle , and christianity as paradox and god as dog , Human morality is evolution, redemption is useful.

    paradox states that anything far from dog is crevil. Paradox states that only through not failing through the temptation of Crevil one can reach dog. Paradox even says that Crevil =call.

    So is Crevil then call ?


    A sin is an evil deed caused by humans according to Christian morality. Not all evil is sin , however. Something which causes evil results may not be caused by humans. However this is not called as Evil in Christian morality .

    So one would say that according to Christianity sin is closer to all forms of evil than according to mine moral system. And what i said is actually something that can be used against my argument. For example. Is A hurricane evil ? If God exists yes. The Christian answer is regarding that question either Ignore this. Or if God exists then the Hurricane is for the best.
     
  14. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    The question was "How could you have sin without evil?" If you are limited to a christian context then I think you have to look at what christian context for what constitutes sin and what constitutes evil. Did any major christian sect condemn Hiroshima and Nagasaki as evil? How about Dresden? Were they sinful acts? Were they evil? The questions are very open to debate in some peoples minds.

    I think your problem is that you want to impose a rational overview to religious thinking. Why should rationality have any place in a religious system stemming from belief? Why should religion adapt to the modern world and modern sensibilities? They usually do, but why should they?

    And for the record, I would say that when people [1] say that "evil" exists, they are merely expressing a personal dissatisfaction with the actions of others and demonstrating their own ignorance of the last 450 million years of life on earth.

    [1]It is actually different for theists, and "atheists" could be substituted "people" here.
     
  15. scy12

    scy12 Chieftain

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    Birdjaquar i respect your opinions but i come here to discuss the logic of a religion because i want to. I don't want to discuss what random Christian believes today and i am not saying this in an insulting manner. I am just not interested in the direction you are heading the discussion.

    The question is how could you have sin without evil. And the answer is you can't. The question how you can have evil without sin is that Christians may choose to not call some Evil actions as Evil. One reason for that is politics. Christians are members of Nations , Organizations and it mat be in their interest to do so.

    A rational overview of any thinking leads us to interesting conclusions and it is a necessity i would say if one wishes to reach conclusions. Because it is a religious system that is based on belief that does not mean it does not deserve conclusions to be reached. That rationality has nothing to do with it , is insulting to those who try to explain why this Religion is logically sound and rational.

    See this topic. It has to do with the theologian aspect. Meaning logic with God . There are many people and many different analyzes and paths one can make and many discusions one can have regarding logic and religion.

    So i would say , attempting to do so it is certainly not my problem or a problem at all. And this is a good place to attempt this as the words , theos and logic are the center.

    That is not the official Christian or mine view and just your personal opinion. I on the other hand believe that their are actions that can be described as Evil.Ana that there are actions that have a better quality than those evil actions with more positive effects for humanity.

    Who is more correct ?
     
  16. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    OK, and I am not insulted at all.
    The bolded part is merely a matter of definitions.
    I was not trying to be insulting, sorry. But, could insisting to christians that they need to think rationally about their religion be insulting to them?
    "Problem" was a poor choice of words on my part.

    You said that "This is an evil world". I just offered an alternative opinion. With the exception of the use of 'evil', I don't diagree with the bolded part; I would restate it to read: there are acts that are more kind and those that are less kind and that every act creates an opportunity for a kind act, to suite my sensibilities.
     
  17. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, my point was basically this: assuming predestination, any sin I commit will turn out to be what God wanted. But any good that I do will also turn out to be what God wanted. So any rationalisation that I may come up for sinning, on the basis of predestination, can also be applied mutatis mutandis to not sinning. That is, I may say that my sin was predestined and desired by God, but I may also say that my not-sinning was predestined and desired by God. The parallel justifications cancel each other out, and I'm left with the same reasons for or against that I would have had if there were no predestination at all: namely, that one ought not to sin, other things being equal.

    I think the Catholic Church, at least, would teach that one ought not to sin even if the sin seems to lead to a greater good overall. Consequentialist reasoning is not encouraged by the church.

    I'm not sure I follow what you're saying here. But it's true that all of this assumes that you know what the consequences would be of your action, if its extrinsic goodness or badness is to play a role in your decision whether to perform it or not. The difficulty - or perhaps impossibility - of knowing such things forms the basis of one of the major objections to consequentialism as an ethical theory.

    Right, but someone who doesn't sin can say precisely the same thing. That's why I said before that the two parallel rationalisations cancel each other out. Yes, if you sin, you can say you're just doing God's will. But if you don't sin, you can say the same thing. So they cancel each other out, and you're left with other reasons for making your choice. If you choose to sin rather than to not sin, you must have a reason other than the predestination argument. And the point is that that reason is unlikely to be a very noble one.

    The best possible world is not a contradiction, because we are talking only about what is possible. It may be that a completely perfect world is impossible, but the best possible world need not be completely perfect - it's just the best out of all the ones that are possible, so by definition it can't be a contradiction (because something that is a contradiction is not possible). The usual Christian belief has generally been that God can do only what is possible; he is bounded by possibility. If a completely perfect world is, in itself, inconsistent and impossible, then even an omnipotent God cannot create it, because it is impossible in itself. God can create only the best possible world.

    I suppose that a proponent of that view would say that what appears to be imperfect is really perfection.

    One might believe that the world is the best possible overall - over its whole history - while also accepting that it can improve from its state right now. Suppose there were someone who lived the happiest life possible. There might be moments in his life where he was not very happy. At those times, an observer who knows that this is the best possible life might say that it's the best possible life but it can improve. The same might be true of the world. Of course one couldn't know this on the basis of observation, but one might in theory know it or at least have good reason to believe it on the basis of an argument like the one of Leibniz' I gave. One would need to have good reason for accepting the premises of that argument first, naturally.

    The word "god" obviously has a number of different meanings. In a generic sense it refers to anything that is worshipped, I suppose, which is why we can talk about lots of "gods" in a pagan context. But when capitalised it also functions as the name of a particular "god", namely the supreme being of monotheism. And a name, as I'm sure Fifty will be able to explain to us, is not the same sort of thing as a definition. Probably. Of course, Christians and non-Christians don't necessarily mean the same thing by "God" even when they're supposedly talking about the same character. Here's how Barth "defines" God with a capital G:

    But Barth regards this notion of "God" as basically similar to that of the pagan "gods". He goes on:

    At any rate, I think there are a number of reasons why most monotheists have regarded God (the monotheist god) as necessarily omnipotent, in the sense of being able to do anything that can be done. One is that God is supposed to be perfect, which means possessing all perfections; but perfect power is a perfection. Another is that God is supposed to be supremely simple, but limited power is more complex than unlimited power (if it's limited, there must be a reason why it is limited to this extent and not that, which is complicated). That is how Richard Swinburne argues. Another is that God is supposed to be infinite, but if his power is limited then he is not infinite. In fact the notion that God is infinite was first defended at length by Gregory of Nyssa. This is his argument:

    Aquinas couches a similar argument in Aristotelian terminology about form and matter, but it comes down to the same thing: if something is limited, it is because it is limited by something else; but God cannot be limited by something else because he is source of all things. You can then extend that to an argument for God's power being infinite as Aquinas does:

    Now Schleiermacher argued that this notion of God as infinitely powerful is, in itself, misleading. He said that we should think of God's power only in the context of his will: that is, to say that God is omnipotent is to say that his will to do good is unfettered. There are no constraints to the goodness that flows from God. The same is true of the other divine attributes; for example, to say that God is timeless is to say that his benevolent will acts in all times.

    Barth says something a bit similar. It's worth quoting him at length again because as usual he offers an interestingly different way of looking at things.

    So the point there is much the same as those made by the other theologians, namely that if you take seriously the notion of God as supreme over creation then you can't suppose that anything limits him. But Barth goes on to attack the fetishisation of "power", especially in God:

    You sometimes hear criticisms of theism in general and Christianity in particular based on the idea that an omnipotent and omniscient God who watches everyone and punishes them for disobeying him is abhorrent; Barth agrees entirely with this and says that that is really a notion of the devil. The Christian God is quite different because he does not have this naked arbitrary power; his power is superior because it is about possibility, not constraint.

    You'll have to work that out for yourself!

    I'm glad you like it and you've made a lot of great contributions to it. I hope you'll continue to do so... perhaps after my viva I should start a new thread called Ask a Philosopher since then I'll be more qualified for that...

    For the past two and a half years I've been doing a PhD so I've been sustained by my scholarship for that. Unfortunately that's now ended as I've just submitted my thesis, so now I'm looking for a job. Until I find one the only income I'll have is from my books, which is minimal.

    They need to be true to some degree. If God doesn't regard as evil the same things that we regard as evil - or at least most of them - then he isn't "good" in anything approaching our normal definition of the term. But the whole point of classical theism is that he is. Now you may reply to Epicurus by saying that our notions of "evil" or "good" aren't applicable to God, but then you have really conceded the argument to him, because you have conceded that God isn't "good" in the usual sense.

    A bonus point for anyone who knows, without looking up, which author actually preserves Epicurus' argument...

    I don't see any "web" here; Christians claim to know this only because they think God has revealed it to them (and indeed to everyone).

    First, I don't see a paradox. But second, the whole point of the Epicurean argument and any similar discussion of the problem of evil is that reason and logic indicate that God's existence is incompatible with the existence of evil. I mean, it is not God's supposed desire to be rational and logical which drives this, it is reason and logic themselves. Perhaps God doesn't care about reason and logic and is a sort of giant Romantic poet. That doesn't change the force of Epicurus' argument in the slightest, because even if God is like that, the world (including God) must still conform to what is logically possible. If it doesn't then you can't rationally discuss anything.

    But it does if what God directs is good and what he forbids is evil. This is the case whether you think that they are good and evil because God commands and forbids them, or whether you think that God commands and forbids them because they are good and evil.

    I hope you don't think that all Christians share those views!

    Sumberdungs would necessarily be Wamblumps, and vice versa, if Ganlaffs and Dorfs were actually identical. Since they're not, it seems there is at least conceptual space for both Sumberdungs that are not Wamblumps and Wamblumps that are not Sumberdungs.

    Equally, what's special about "belief" that insulates it from reason? Aren't all your beliefs equally "beliefs" no matter what their source, including your everyday and scientific beliefs? What makes you say that Christianity "stems from" belief? What does that actually mean?

    It may be true that to say something is evil is merely to express your own personal dissatisfaction with it - that view was quite popular in philosophical circles in the 1960s, although I'm afraid it's been comprehensively discredited since then - but even if it's true I don't see how such an utterance demonstrates any form of ignorance. Even if what one calls "evil" has been around for hundreds of millions of years, why should that mean one should be happy with it?

    Actually the "-logy" part of "theology" really means just "speech", so "theology" is "talking about God", just as "geology" is "talking about the earth" and so on and so forth. It doesn't necessarily mean doing so in what we would call a "logical" way.
     
  18. scy12

    scy12 Chieftain

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    I can't answer the whole passage right now although i would like to so i will only answer the easy parts.


    From John's genesis. &#949;&#957; &#945;&#961;&#967;&#942;&#957; &#951;&#957; &#959; &#955;&#972;&#947;&#959;&#962; In the begining there was logos. i would not use the word speak or speach here as it is unrelated with the greek words logic(&#955;&#959;&#947;&#953;&#954;&#951;) or logos , two words which have a special relation and just translating it as speech may not be the best.

    Here is a passage from the wikipedia page of logos.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos
    Logos (Greek &#955;&#972;&#947;&#959;&#962;) is an important term in philosophy, analytical psychology, rhetoric and religion. It derives from the verb &#955;&#941;&#947;&#969; leg&#333;: to count, tell, say, or speak.[1] The primary meaning of logos is: something said; by implication a subject, topic of discourse, or reasoning. Secondary meanings such as logic, reasoning, etc. derive from the fact that if one is capable of &#955;&#941;&#947;&#949;&#953;&#957; (infinitive) i.e. speech, then intelligence and reason are assumed.

    Its semantic field extends beyond "word" to notions such as "thought, speech, account, meaning, reason, proportion, principle, standard", or "logic". In English, the word is the root of "logic," and of the "-ology" suffix (e.g., geology).[2]

    Heraclitus established the term in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the cosmos. The sophists used the term to mean discourse, and Aristotle applied the term to rational discourse. After Judaism came under Hellenistic influence, Philo adopted the term into Jewish philosophy. The Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the incarnation of the Logos, through which all things are made. The gospel further identifies the Logos as God (theos), providing scriptural support for the Trinity. It is this sense, the Logos as Jesus Christ and God, that is most common in popular culture.

    Psychologist Carl Jung used the term for the masculine principle of rationality.

    Uses in ancient Greek

    In ordinary, non-technical Greek, logos had two overlapping meanings. One meaning referred to an instance of speaking: "sentence, saying, oration"; the other meaning was the antithesis of ergon ("action" or "work"), which was commonplace. Despite the conventional translation as "word", it is not used for a word in the grammatical sense; instead, the term lexis is used. However, both logos and lexis derive from the same verb &#955;&#941;&#947;&#969;. It also means the inward intention underlying the speech act: "opinion, thought, grounds for belief, common sense."


    I am aware of such usage because uncommon as it is it is also used like this sometimes in modern greek. It is uncommon because there are other words that are used more often than logos. A word that only means speech and has no relation with the word logic is the word &#959;&#956;&#953;&#955;&#953;&#945; which means speech.


    Of course i don't think this.
     
  19. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Logos has a notoriously wide range of meanings in ancient Greek. My pocket dictionary lists the following:

    a saying, speaking, speech, mode of speaking; eloquence, discourse; conversation, talk; word, expression; assertion; principle, maxim; proverb; oracle; promise; order, command; proposal; condition, agreement; stipulation, decision; pretext; fable, news, story, report, legend; prose-writing, history, book, essay, oration; affair, incident; thought, reason, reckoning, computation, reflection, deliberation, account, consideration, opinion; cause, end; argument, demonstration; meaning, value; proportion; Christ.

    So that's all nice and clear then.
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Anyway, it is time to close this thread and start another one.

    Head here to continue the discussion. I shall put an index at the start of that thread, linking to parts of this one, to help people see what's already been discussed.
     
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