Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Perfect Father

In bouncing about the atheist and naturalist blogosphere, it seems that one argument against God is that a perfect God would act somehow differently than God has. He wouldn't have had some of the laws He is credited with. He would have made people and even animals different, so that they wouldn't suffer so much or do evil things to one another. And He certainly wouldn't allow his children to suffer and die in such seemingly immoral ways. One possible way of getting a better understanding of his concept is to compare God to fathers. This would make sense in that God has directed us to see Him that way.

As a father, I have sired two children, adopted two, and am helping to raise one more. In today's world that would make me at least in the top 10% of experience.

In the course of deciding to have children, I did not stop and think: "Maybe I shouldn't do this, because the world is a nasty place, and some children turn out nasty no matter what you do." I wanted children (and grand kids), as did my wife, because they provide a great deal of joy, because it is part of our "citizenship" to propagate, and undoubtedly because of biological urges that are harder to define very precisely.

As part of my expectation in having children, I knew I would need to sacrifice substantial time, energy, emotional energy, money, and ultimately my life for theirs if it came to that. When you think about it that way, one might wonder why so many folks make the decision so easily.

As a father I am put in a position to decide how to raise the children. How much and what kind of discipline? How much intervention? How do these things change at different ages and maturities? How do I make decisions when there are two or three children involved and all can't be served at one time? What if I'm forced to make health or life-and-death decisions that effect one child differently that another? It goes on and on.

Then there are the rules. I'm a great believer in making sure the rules are clear, known well in advance, administered constantly, and handled the same among all the kids. Rules about when they can get new privileges and what it takes to get these. Rules about what happens when stuff doesn't get done as it should. Rules about when and what kind of discipline will be meted out for what? Rules about how to treat others in the family and why?

In order to keep this post within some kind of reasonable size, I will stop here. Hopefully, it is clear about how God the Father has basically done the same thing with his Human children.

Now for a bit harder set of comparisons. What if someone walked in my house and threaten my children, and said that his whole family was dedicated to trying to kill my family? I think I would be justified in taking him out, and maybe his whole family.

What if I had to allow one of my children to die so that the rest could live? I know for a fact that all will die or one will die? Get harder.

What if one of my children had to die so that 100 members of my family could live? What if it were the entire community? What if my child was 18 and he was merely going to be put in a position where he might die in order to provide a better life for the community?

What if I felt that I needed to make a rule in my house that I would beat a child within an inch of his life if he raped another of my children? We will assume there is no other authority to intervene.

I'll leave this for now. I'd love to hear some comment.

40 comments:

Cordin said...

The father analogy does not quite hold with humans since earthly fathers are not capable of bringing forth life in any other manner.

If this was the only way God had at his disposal to bring about life, I could not blame him. If all created beings had to experience such earthly sufferings before reaching 'heaven', there may even be wisdom and/or justice. But to do so simply because it pleased him is not an answer. (compare Romans 9:19-21)

The power of such a God may have to be respected; but not his wisdom, nor his justice, nor his love. At least one of these attributes must not be present in this 'perfect' God.

"What if one of my children had to die so that 100 members of my family could live? What if it were the entire community?"

My problem is the reverse: What if you knew the entire community would die becuase of what one of your children would do AND there was a way of giving him/her freewill/discipline without all being killed?

remy said...

If you believe in the after life the death of your child is of little consequence. He/she is in a better place. The only one hurt by the death would be you.

Randy Kirk said...

Remy,

You have raised an issue for which I have a rather bizarre point of view. I'm always wary of raising it because it is very hard to put into words that won't be misconstrued. But I'll give it a shot.

God loves his children. All of them. However, his interest lies in relationship with them for eternity. He does not put much value in human life while on earth.

That last line is the tricky part. He often refers to life as being short, and likens it to things like the flowers.

I believe that this is why God doesn't seem to be too concerned about wiping out a city, a tribe, or the entire earth.

On the other hand, he makes it abundently clear that man must treasure the lives of other humans. This is part of our relationship with Him, and at the top of the list of how we are going to be judged by Him. We are to love others as we love ourselves. If we don't love others, we don't love Him. (1st John)

This then goes right to the heart of the evil question. When God allows or seems to promote somethings which appear to be evil to us, they are incondequential to God in the larger scheme of things. What is 80 years compared to eternity.

Cordin said...

Randy...
Considering your comment on the importance of human life, I was curious of your view on Adam and Eve.

What if they had not sinned?

Would heaven still be the divine plan as an eternal hope?

What was the original purpose for sinless, earthly creatures?

Does this in any way have consequence on the problem of evil?

I believe it does, but I'm interested in how this would be reconciled with a view of the present 'temporal' life of humans.

Randy Kirk said...

C'mon Cordin,

throwing me these puffballs late on the last night of a 3-day weekend. And after I've been dealing with some folks on other blogs which shall be nameless to protect the innocent. I just love the kind of honest discourse we have here, where everyone is treated as an equal, and no one put down.

Well, your "puffballs had me up for an extra hour last night, contemplating answers while prone in my bed. Did you come up with these questions yourself? I have considered asking for my lifeline call. In fact, I would sure love to have some other Christians help me out here.

So for now, with only a few minutes to go before my Bible study, I will take a pass. I'm thinking also about whether some or all of these deserve their own thread.

I also have some intersting scripture to prove my position.

mxracer652 said...

I was all prepared for this post, when you pulled out the argument from evil, then it turned into civilian law & discipline.

I didn't see any explanation for evil, just some armchair philosophy for difficult life decisions.

Do expound.

Your god, 80/eternity, who cares what happens on earth comment is kind of weird. Much like a 3 year old, I'll ask "then why even bother with people?". I mean, if god is lonely, why not just skip the nasty bit of living people?

Fire away, I'll be back.

Bigfoot said...

Just out of curiosity, what is your relationship with god while in heaven? Will you be equals? If so, does god come to your level or raise you to his? If he keeps his elevated status, where does that put man in the chain of power/ Does man become low man on the totem pole or is he telling angels what to do?

bernardo said...

"throwing me these puffballs late on the last night of a 3-day weekend"

Man, was I the only one who didn't get Monday off? ;]

And Cordin, your questions about Adam and Eve make it sound like God had some original plan that had to be abandoned (or extensively patched up) when Adam (by sinning) basically derailed the plan. I suppose a Christian could believe this. But I still don't understand how some (most?) Christians can believe in a God that is surprised by people's actions, that cannot see the future, that cannot set things up right the first time. It still seems to me that any being worthy of being called "God" should be able to see stuff coming, take it into account while planning, and prepare his set-up accordingly. Some Christians do believe that every last little event since creation has been following God's plan perfectly, and their theology sounds a lot less crazy than the "surprised/disappointed/angry God" theology so many Christians seem to not have a problem with.

Randy Kirk said...

I still hope to get to Cordin's questions, but just for a quick rejoinder to Bernardo.

Clearly you are correct in your basic assumption. It is impossible to perfectly reconcile free will with God's omniscience. So, I do think that most Christians believe, as I do, that God knew man would fall, knew that He would need to send a flood, and Jesus, and the end times. He must have even known that Lucifer would lead a rebellion with 1/3 of the angles.

But given all of that, it is possible that we are free within a range to do as we please.

But the no God approach isn't any better. In that case cause and effect is at the root of ever action, so that even my greatest passion is but the result of chemical reactions and electric impulses firing, triggered by some combination of my life's experiences interacting with harmones.

bernardo said...

"It is impossible to perfectly reconcile free will with God's omniscience."

That's not what I said. All I said is that it's impossible to reconcile God's omniscience with his inability to predict people's behavior/choices. Why must "free will" mean "being unpredictable to God"? Why can't people be predictable to God, AND free to choose what they want? I don't see how those two things are mutually exclusive.

Say that you know I do not like raisins or grapefruits. Say I go have dinner at your house, and for dessert you offer me the choice of either some ice cream or something you know I dislike (say, a raisin, or a grapefruit). You will KNOW that I will choose the ice cream. But just because you could predict my choice, does not mean I don't have free will. There are often times when I see someone presented with a choice and I am pretty sure what they will pick - but they still have free will. What is the problem with a God that can predict all of everyone's choices?

"even my greatest passion is but the result of chemical reactions and electric impulses firing, triggered by some combination of my life's experiences interacting with hormones..."

Yep. Sorry to be the one who breaks it to you ;]

Cordin said...

"What is the problem with a God that can predict all of everyone's choices?"

There is no problem in your description of amazingly accurate, educated guesses (the 'Ultimate Chess Player' analogy.) However, a God that was able to predict, BEFORE creating the universe, the exact sentence you wrote above and when you would write it down does not leave any room for freewill.

Even if we postulated that God could see the choices that YOU would seemingly make thousands of years in advance, the fact that he can check the exact words of the 'book' of time means the book is already written. The problem with this should be obvious if we believe God is going to punish some for eternity while rewarding others. (I'm only using your comment as a starting point. I know you don't believe this.)

Some have used Romans 9 which I referenced above. It says in part, '..."Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"

Somewhat of a cruel joke to offer the gospel as a choice if God can predict 'every last little event'. Again, not what I would expect of a 'Perfect' and 'Just' Father.

bernardo said...

"a God that was able to predict, BEFORE creating the universe, the exact sentence you wrote above and when you would write it down does not leave any room for freewill."

Why not?

Or, so that we stop going around in circles: What, exactly, is free will? You seem to think that a reasoning process only qualifies as "having free will" if it cannot be emulated, not even by God. Why is that your definition? That reminds me of the "rock so heavy he can't lift it" question: Could God create a being (or a species) so unpredictable, he could not emulate them?

My answer is: who cares. The only God I could possibly believe in has to be able to emulate me. I don't see why this has to mean that I don't make choices pragmatically, or that I am not responsible for my choices (i.e. for the consequences knowingly triggered by my decisions).

I guess it only really starts to break apart once you throw in things like souls, salvation, and judgment. I don't think people have "souls" - I think that the brain is enough to create a mind, personality, memory, and consciousness. (Of course, I could be wrong - we are far from understanding how the brain does all this - but it's possible we someday will). But if there is some element of the "self" that survives death and that is preserved by the Creator (or by the system he created), I don't see why a God would punish some and reward others. I can imagine that the world was deliberately created as part of a plan, but I cannot imagine why the creator would then set up some after-life where some people experience pleasure and others experience pain. THAT would be a cruel joke. What is not so cruel is for God to set up a universe where animals can evolve intelligence and compassion, and then maybe use that intelligence and compassion to overcome their animalistic impulses. (That is still somewhat cruel, but not so much if you think of us as pieces on God's chess board, rather than as God-like beings with whom God must empathize).

"the fact that he can check the exact words of the 'book' of time means the book is already written."

Right, but that doesn't mean that we could predict the ending. Here's how I see it (when I'm in a deist mood, which I guess I must be since I feel like discussing this): God stands outside of time, looking at the whole history of the universe at one glance, and tweaking the starting parameters until the later events match what he wants. Kinda like the way we can look at a graph, tweak some coefficients, watch the graph get re-plotted (which is basically instantaneous with modern computers), and try again, until the graph is shaped the way we want. That's it. What we experience as "time" is just one more dimension of the graph (of the universe). To say that the book was written "before" the beginning does not make sense; It would be like me showing you a print-out of a graph of a curve, and you asking me at what time yesterday I formulated the function that goes on the graph, and me answering "between 0 and -1".

I can imagine a God that sets up the universe - all of its history at once - the way an architect designs a building: There are rules about what can and can't be above what (a building can't be an inverted pyramid), but other than for those rules, the building is designed all at once (as opposed to, say, from bottom to top) and the foundation is built so that those rules mean that the building can stand on that foundation. The problem is that, for us, we experience only one slice of the universe at a time, so we have these confusing notions of "time" and "free will" when, actually (as I see it), the whole history of the universe is one giant interconnected intricate (and already built) sculpture (except it has very strict and somewhat complicated rules about what can follow what in each slice of time).

Or you can imagine God as an author. I'm sure if you could slip into the universe of a novel (e.g. by asking the author to write you in and to have the "you" in the book do what you want to do) and ask a character "Do you have free will?", the character would say "Of course!". Would the character be mistaken?

Or at least that's the way I'd look at it if I chose to believe in God. This deist view is much more complicated than anything I need to explain the universe, so I don't believe in it, but if I do ever contemplate believing in anything supernatural (or in any form of religion), it would have to fit within that system. A God who can't predict the future is not "God" enough for me. I would hate to live in a universe created by a clueless, confused, uncertain creator, let a lone a judgmental one! (Besides, this "explanation" assumes that there is a universe outside of time, inhabited by God, but it doesn't explain that universe at all, which is why in the end I find any "God" explanation to not be satisfying - it raises more questions than it answers).

"And after I've been dealing with some folks on other blogs which shall be nameless to protect the innocent. I just love the kind of honest discourse we have here, where everyone is treated as an equal, and no one put down."

Randy, what other blogs have you been visiting? I don't really participate in this debate (atheism vs theism/Christianity) on other blogs. I figure there are already plenty of smart and passionate people on each side. But I'd be curious to know about other good discussion forums you may know of about this stuff, so I can go check them out. I'd also be curious to hear about the bad ones, since the book I am writing is basically about what has been WRONG with the religion/atheism debate lately, and I guess some more research couldn't hurt. So please, don't protect the innocent! =]

Cordin said...

"I guess it only really starts to break apart once you throw in things like souls, salvation, and judgment."

Correct. That's what I was hoping to draw attention to and how it relates to a 'Just' Father. I am still assuming the Christian God of the Bible.

I do not personally know of any Christians that are satisfied by the Deist explanation of God. It would be difficult for one to claim the title of 'Christian' without belief in an afterlife of reward or punishment according to our deeds.

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." - 1 Corinthians 15:18.

Randy Kirk said...

I've been over at PandasThumb and NoGodblog, not to mention Bronze Blog. Actually those three have lots of links to others.

Randy Kirk said...

remy,

There are sects of Christianity that take that POV. Jesus told His disciples in one instance to leave swords behind as they went to the mission field, but in another case, he said they should carry the swords. I don't think God intended us to stand by and not defend our families.

Cordin,

I see your point about the one child who needed to be disciplined. In the human community, that child would be disciplined. If God is the one doing the killing, there may be an obvious reason, or there may not be. As you an I discussed on your blog Questioning Biblical Christianity at http://thetruthisgod.blogspot.com/,
some things need to be pruned in order to prosper.

Randy Kirk said...

After three days to consider and all the help from everyone, I now have an answer for Cordin on his "puffball" question about Adam and Eve, heaven, etc., in the light of my feelings on the temporal life of humans.

The plan was in place from the beginning. The sin of Adam happened in fact, but is also allegorical. Every single human sins (don't call it sin, call it what you will. Every human fails to live by the golden rule, to tell the truth, to do no harm.)

So, I'm not sure it is unfair that many will go to hell because of the sin of two people. Each of us actually has the choice to live righteously, but none do.

Here's a question I just dreamed up. God tells us we have to forgive everyone for harm done to us. Maybe He should have to forgive everyone, also, regardless of whether they ask for it.

Randy Kirk said...

Bigfoot,

I don't pretend to be a theologian, but I did read Randy Alcorn's "Heaven," just published in 2006.

We are never equal to God. In heaven we work, worship Him, relate to others, and continue to learn about God. Since God is our first love, we should want to know everything about Him. It should be our greatest desire.

Randy Kirk said...

Cordin,

Reward and punishment. Everything about life is based on this concept. The entire Bible is based on it. Why wouldn't the end result of our life's effort also be subject to reward and punishment.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Randy. What kind of work does Mr. Alcorn say they'll be doing? Also, what will the relationships be like?

Cordin said...

"Reward and punishment. Everything about life is based on this concept. The entire Bible is based on it. Why wouldn't the end result of our life's effort also be subject to reward and punishment."

I have no problem with reward or fair punishment. It only becomes an injustice if we have no choice as to our life's efforts.

I cannot see how God could have known Satan would sin, that Adam and Eve would disobey, or that Judas would betray Jesus, before they even came into existence (without manipulating it to be so.)

If God could predict what Judas would do before he even existed, what choice did he have? (It's one thing to know what a person is most inclined to do, quite another to know an excact single action of someone not yet born.) In that case God would be truly unfair in executing 'justice' especially one involving an everlasting hell.

Cordin said...

"The plan was in place from the beginning."

I want to make sure I am understanding you correctly.

It was God's purpose for Adam and Eve to sin even though He clearly held the hope before them to multiply and have the earth in subjection; even though He assured them of life UNLESS they disobeyed.

They had no chance of succeeding? God was just teasing them?

Does a loving father hold out the prospect of getting a cookie when He knows the jar is empty?

bernardo said...

"I cannot see how God could have known Satan would sin, that Adam and Eve would disobey, or that Judas would betray Jesus..."

I still cannot see how "God" could NOT know anything.

"It's one thing to know what a person is most inclined to do, quite another to know an exact single action of someone not yet born"

They're not fundamentally different things. It's a spectrum. I think one can expect God to be very close to the "know an exact single action of someone not yet born" end.

"It was God's purpose for Adam and Eve to sin even though He clearly held the hope before them to multiply and have the earth in subjection; even though He assured them of life UNLESS they disobeyed. They had no chance of succeeding?"

What's wrong with that? Humanity had no chance of not sinning at first - arguably we still currently don't - but I can see God hoping that one day we'll be better. If God had wanted to create a species that is sinless from the very start, I imagine this is what God would have done.

I see that I'm probably getting in the way of this debate between Cordin and Randy, so I'll stop. But whenever I do consider a God, I assume he is omniscient and omnipotent, and these assumptions take precedence to anything else (including "God loves us", and some definitions of "free will"). So I guess that, again, we start off with differing axioms, even when I do try and think of the world as deliberately created...

Randy Kirk said...

Bernardo,

You aren't getting in the way. In fact, I wish a few more folks would come and get in the way. Especially some more Christians.

Cordin,

I know my kids are going to sin and not follow my rules. I may hold out any number of offers of rewards based on their doing or not doing something.

I agree that there is a difference if God KNEW they would fail, but ultimately it is not so different. It comes back to my earlier thought that even Adam was just a human. His etermal spirit was what mattered to God.

Cordin said...

Randy,

If it was not God's purpose to have Adam and Eve remain alive on earth, why not simply create their 'spirit' self as an angel to begin with, on even playing ground with the angels?

I have also never seen any passage in Genesis that indicates God gave any warning of hell versus heaven to the first couple, but rather life in Eden or 'back to the dust.'

I was wondering if you could clarify how you also see a difference with whether or not God knew Adam would sin?

Bernardo,
Since when was this an exclusive discussion? I take no offense to your 'getting in the way'. Someone has to curb my strong opinions.:)

bernardo said...

What I meant by "Getting in the way" is that, while Randy and Cordin discuss the Christian God, I am interjecting with my views on the deist God. So what I said here is probably not really pertinent to a discussion about a Bible-based image of God, since I don't restrict my image of God in the ways that Bible believers do. Like I said, my axioms are omnipotence and omniscience, not the truth of the Bible, so any conclusions I reach, and any dissatisfaction I have with certain ideas, is probably not too relevant to discussions about the God of the Bible. I feel as if you guys were having a discussion on The Taming of the Shrew and I replied to your points with commentary on 10 Things I Hate About You or something like that.

Anonymous said...

bernardo,

Do you know what sin is? What is your definition of sin?

Yes, they Adam and Eve didn't have to sin in the beginning. They had a choice. They were created sinless in the beginning.

Kathy

Cordin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cordin said...

Cordin said...
Kathy,

I beleive bernardo may have been quoting me with regards to your question. If not, allow me to explain my understanding of sin.

I believe the Bible teaches that Adam and Eve were perfect and sinless in God's eyes until they disobeyed. At that point they were destined to die a physical death.

According to the Hebrew word that 'sin' is based on, chata means to miss the mark of God's standards, whether through our actions or thoughts (lack of faith for example.)

The problem I have with the Bible's explanation of the fall of creation is in God's punishing ALL of mankind and the animals because of what one man did.

Why was it neccessary to punish anyone other than Adam and Eve?

Would a fair, just, loving, and forgiving Father do so. If so, why, seeing how much suffering, pain, and death have resulted?

I have previously raised the question but am interested in your understanding of what would have happened if Adam had not sinned.

Would Adam and Eve still be on earth enjoying life with a beautiful worldwide garden full of loving children? Or would God have eventually taken everyone to heaven?

What was God's original purpose for sinless humans and animals?

What is your view, Kathy, on these questions?

Anonymous said...

Randy,

The difference, as I see it, is that you (hopefully) wouldn't punish your children eternally.

Kit

bernardo said...

Actually, no, I was using my own definition of "sin".

As I see it, sin is behavior that is not good. Behavior that is "good" is behavior that is mature, disciplined, considerate, and/or selfless. You know, Jesus-type behavior. Behavior that is sinful is selfish and short-sighted. You know, animal-type behavior.

Since we used to be animals, it's no wonder that we started out behaving very sinfully, and only gradually realized (and came to desire) the advantages of selfless, social, compassionate behavior. As I see it, this is something we're still working on, individually and as a civilization.

I know this deist take on sin is not quite the same as the Christian view, but there are many parallels, and I think it's close enough that we can share the word. If that's ok with you.

(And yes, I know that animal behavior is not purely sinful. We have already discussed how animals can be compassionate, how they can sacrifice for others. But animal behavior certainly is more sinful, in general, than the way we wish human beings would ideally want to act towards one another).

Anonymous said...

When they decided to go against God's command they separated themselves from God. Probably saying to themselves I don't need you I can do what I want kind of attitude. Think of sin as separation. Thus, Jesus further explained this is John chapter 15. When the branch is cut off from the vine it loses all the life support to sustain it. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned they hid themselves with fig leaves. They weren't naked and exposed to God anymore. They separated/hid themselves from God. They lost the relationship with God. They were then cut off from their life support system.
So they slowly died.

We did inherit that disconnection they had. However, in Genesis 3:15 the first prophecy of God's remedy for that sin appeared.

Yes, humans would be living on the earth forever in paradise if Adam hadn't of disobeyed according to what the Bible says now. We would be talking to God directly just as Adam did. However, after the earth was populated God might of had more plans revealed. Who knows?
Heaven was for angelic creatures.


Sin isn't bad behavior. In the Bible it talks about people doing 'good' deeds and Jesus saying they are workers of lawlessness. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Thus according to the Bible sin is not obeying God. doesn't matter how much one does good things, we must be in harmony with God's desires. Thus again, see the need for being connected to God.
There are alot of good things in the world to do... how do we know what is suppose to be done? Connection with God.

bernardo said...

"Obedience is better than sacrifice. Thus according to the Bible sin is not obeying God. doesn't matter how much one does good things, we must be in harmony with God's desires."

Yet another reason why I don't like religion very much.

Anonymous said...

Bernardo,

You will come to understand that since humans are created in God's image, that God's desires are really your desires. There isn't a conflict. It is more like complete harmony.
It is similar to finding out what you were meant to do all your life. You know how some people are really content inside knowing they are true to their authentic self.

That is what happens when a person is in harmony with God's will.

bernardo said...

I can see that, if the world and the people in it were deliberately created by God, then it makes sense that God wants us to eventually want whatever he wants - i.e. for us to be "good", whatever that means.

However, how can we know what God wants? Any answer to that question is just unverifiable speculation. Why is anyone better equipped than anyone else to figure out what God wants?

That's why I don't like religion. It's a bunch of people saying "We know what God wants". If that works for them, then fine, it's probably helping them be better people. But they can't expect me to believe that they know what God wants, much less to obey it!

And, in any case, even if there is a God and he wants us to be good, I still know that some of my desires are NOT what God wants. I see that those desires do not bring optimal happiness to everyone or to myself. They are animal desires, by-products of evolution, such as wanting to horde stuff, wanting to eat too much, not wanting to exercise, being envious (and often covetous) of other people, etc.

If I try to minimize the impact of those desires, it's because I see the harm they cause, not because I am "obeying" some master. The idea of a God is already somewhat unbelievable, so the idea of obeying this imaginary being (about which we can only speculate) sounds quite absurd to me.

But if it works for you, then I have no problem with that.

Randy Kirk said...

Bernardo and others,

I like to look at sin as being like bondage. When we are doing things that are not in God's will, we sense it in our spirit. We may try to stop. We might even stop. We might stop, but think about doing that sin all the time. We might fail to stop, and become more deeply involved to the point of it taking over our life. Then, even though we know it is wrong, it merely stokes the sin because of our guilt.

As stated elsewhere one of the most difficult sins to overcome is the failure to forgive. And failure to do so results in anger, bitterness, etc.

So, to the extent that we learn to do God's will just because we know it is his will, we prosper. It is far easier to do right or not do wrong because we will disappoint a loved one, than it is to stop because there is a rule.

bernardo said...

"It is far easier to do right or not do wrong because we will disappoint a loved one..."

That is a very good point, and (as far as I can tell) one of the main reasons why religion is so powerful and so good for so many people. But you have to see that, from my point of view, it looks like a bunch of people invented an imaginary "loved one" who can see you all the time, you know, kinda like Santa Claus (clearly).

Tom Foss said...

It is far easier to do right or not do wrong because we will disappoint a loved one, than it is to stop because there is a rule.

Indeed it is. Which is why obedience and fear of punishment are the lowest level in Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Reasoning. Doing good because you're told to, or because you fear retribution, is how children behave. It is only as you grow up that you start doing things for the good of society.

Hey Skipper said...

Would a fair, just, loving, and forgiving Father do so. If so, why, seeing how much suffering, pain, and death have resulted?

An outstanding question to ask of Particular Revelation.

Only a viciously sadistic Father would have ever thought that a good idea.

Randy Kirk said...

hey skipper,

Even though your comment relates to the Father, I think the issue you have is being better addressed on the thread related to the question of evil. I also plan to introduce another thread to deal with your thoughts head on.

Hey Skipper said...

Randy:

Okay.