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Theology and The Garden of Eden.


Off-Topic Discussions

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In the Beginning…

Two of the most basic concepts of Christianity that hold true across denominations is the dual idea that God is both Good (God is Love) and that God is Perfect (omnipotent, omniscient, always has a plan). A fine assertion but one that encounters some minor resistance when compared to the state of the world. Take a look around, does this look like the world a perfect nice guy would make? I’m not trying to insult you world but you’re kind of a mess.

Something went wrong at some point didn’t it?

Yep the world was paradise until mankind went and messed it up. We were given life in a garden of perfection and were told it was ours forever as long as we obeyed one simple rule. –Don’t eat the fruit off of one very specific tree- Seems easy enough right? Only an idiot would mess that up.

-sigh-

A serpent tempts Eve to take a bite and out of curiosity she does. She then shares it with Adam. Seems relatively innocent all told but that act apparently poisoned us completely and led to both our banishment and the Fallen nature of the world. This incident is later said to be proof of how it is solely our fault that we suffer so terribly (and also our fault that lions eat lambs instead of being best friends)

It’s the classic, magical tale of Original Sin and mankind’s fall from grace but it seems to possess a few logical hiccups that might be plot holes.

Most obviously: Why was it necessary for God to put something as hideously destructive as the ability to disobey him within our grasp? Why even give us the chance to Fall?

There are a couple of possibilities: 1. The Tree of Knowledge and Humanity could not be effectively separated, perhaps due to limited real estate in the garden, and what with the fruit sometimes causing severe gastrointestinal distress in addition to the spontaneous gaining of morality God told us never to eat from it, on the honor system. 2. God telling us not to eat from the tree was an offhanded comment he made when he was busy. It’s obviously a self evident truth that only an idiot would want to know the difference between good and evil and suffer under all the weighty bullsh*t that that brings, so he never thought to stop and explain to us why it was a bad idea.

The above examples are possible, but they go against the idea that God is Perfect as he is making mistakes, so let’s discard them.

Another possibility is that the whole thing was a set up and everything went exactly according to God’s plan, which fits with the idea of him being an on the ball master of the universe, but considering how harshly he punishes mankind for their mistake it does hurt the idea that he is a nice guy, so let’s discard it.

Perhaps it has something to do with the gift of Free Will he gave us? If we at least didn’t have one opportunity to disobey him then we really didn’t have all the options Free Will should grant us did we? But even this is confusing because before we have eaten of the fruit we have no concept of Good or Evil correct? And yet one bad choice will damn the species? Seems like Free Will is a gift in the same vein of giving a two year old a loaded .45 with the safety off for his birthday. One might hesitantly speculate that that is irresponsible parenting at the least, but perhaps that is what happened.

Everything is created and put in place by God and it is his plan that everything go perfectly smooth and joyously, and yet somehow we mess it up and it’s our fault, but how? Isn’t any flaw in the design the designer’s fault?

Imagine a man designs and builds a car. He drives it 100 miles then it just completely falls apart. He looks down at it and says. “Damn you car, why did you decide to be so crappy.” Huh?

Christians of a scholarly bent will often point out that taking this story at face value is a mistake when really it is poetry/allegory/just a story. Alright then, in that case can we drop the idea that the reason the world sucks is entirely our fault? What’s that you say? That’s a founding premise behind the vast majority of Christian thinking? Alright then, the ball is in your court my wise and learned friend, what exactly is happening here?


In the beginning, General Motors built my Camaro.

It was good, for they were perfect.

It gleamed and glistened and ebbed with that V8 burble.

Once it rolled off the lot though the thing became MY responsibility.

General Motors might still exist as a huge and omnipotent being.

The responsibility to maintain the creation though, is solely mine.

I am on mine own now with my Chariot of the Gods to seek out my own destiny. Should it rust, it be not their fault. Should it wear and strain, it be not their fault. The fault lies with me should I believe the 'limited warranty' be mistaken with 'eternity'.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Shifty wrote:

In the beginning, General Motors built my Camaro.

It was good, for they were perfect.

It gleamed and glistened and ebbed with that V8 burble.

Once it rolled off the lot though the thing became MY responsibility.

General Motors might still exist as a huge and omnipotent being.

The responsibility to maintain the creation though, is solely mine.

I am on mine own now with my Chariot of the Gods to seek out my own destiny. Should it rust, it be not their fault. Should it wear and strain, it be not their fault. The fault lies with me should I believe the 'limited warranty' be mistaken with 'eternity'.

In my analogy you don't own the car, you ARE the car. Also you should add in your analogy that if you don't take care of the car at the end of it's life once it breaks down a representative from GM shows up at your house, douses you in gasoline and sets you on fire, because that is a reasonable punishment for poor car maintenance.


Hmm ok I guess I don't know how to erase it. Oh well if people would like to answer my opening post that's cool I actually do want to know the answer otherwise I apologize for offending you.


Urizen wrote:
As a side tangent, maybe it's me, but I don't get what is this attraction about instigating political or religious topics in such excess on a role playing game board? I know I sure don't open up topics about Pathfinder on Belief.NET, FoxNews or Huffington Post. ;-)

I'd go the other way and say that the religious groups actually kicked off talking about roleplaying games well before roleplayers started talking religion. I still recall those heady days of the 80's onwards when they were decried as tools of the debil and those religious fanatics swung the ban hammer hard. And they had the political clout to dictate what was what too.

They also took to rock bands in much the same way.

So I personally consider the Christians as being 100% fair game, because they came after my hobbies before I came after theirs.

Never had a Buddhist having shots at my hobby.

Never had a Hindu suggest I was going to Hell over my hobby.

Never saw a Seikh complain about my hobby.


What I believe (and let me stress that this is my personal belief, not anything I was taught in any church) is that God, as any adult, wanted his children to think for themselves. I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine any parent wanting their children to be robots always doing as they were told. A parent wants their children to explore and make mistakes (because that is, after all, how we learn and grow).

Of course, since we are not doing as God wants us and God is perfect, that means that we are going to be imperfect. Since we're imperfect, pain and suffering are the result. What makes us special in the eye of God is not that we are perfect, but when we strive to be perfect.

However, the real value of religion comes from the fact that the scripture is inconsistent and unclear. The value comes from the debate and arguments within the church/temple/etc. So, people will disagree and beliefs will evolve. This is good.


Darkwing Duck wrote:

What I believe (and let me stress that this is my personal belief, not anything I was taught in any church) is that God, as any adult, wanted his children to think for themselves. I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine any parent wanting their children to be robots always doing as they were told. A parent wants their children to explore and make mistakes (because that is, after all, how we learn and grow).

Of course, since we are not doing as God wants us and God is perfect, that means that we are going to be imperfect. Since we're imperfect, pain and suffering are the result. What makes us special in the eye of God is not that we are perfect, but when we strive to be perfect.

However, the real value of religion comes from the fact that the scripture is inconsistent and unclear. The value comes from the debate and arguments within the church/temple/etc. So, people will disagree and beliefs will evolve. This is good.

Everything you just said makes alot of sense.


Shifty wrote:

I'd go the other way and say that the religious groups actually kicked off talking about roleplaying games well before roleplayers started talking religion. I still recall those heady days of the 80's onwards when they were decried as tools of the debil and those religious fanatics swung the ban hammer hard. And they had the political clout to dictate what was what too.

They also took to rock bands in much the same way.

So I personally consider the Christians as being 100% fair game, because they came after my hobbies before I came after theirs.

Never had a Buddhist having shots at my hobby.

Never had a Hindu suggest I was going to Hell over my hobby.

Never saw a Seikh complain about my hobby.

As a guy who listens to extreme metal, I know the persecution all too well. I'm in Columbus Ohio and this controversy happened. What's ironic is that I happen to be very close to the promoter who's hosting the event and she happens to be a German immigrant in her 60s who's Catholic with Jewish roots. It has been a headache for her trying to deal with the backlash because of a certain group that was upset enough to influence the original venue owner to renege on hosting the event.

But I'm not going to blame all / 100% of Christians for the fault of a sect of folks that were offended and attempted to assert their influence. In the same aspect, I refuse to believe that 100% of Christians think the same way or agree with each other on how to approach / address situations such as rock music or the RPG industry. Hell, even a bunch of "us atheists" can't seem to agree on something so simple as to how to define our unbelief and categorize accordingly if I were to go by other threads I've been reading on Paizo in the past several days.

You're entitled to your position; I just can't go along with the me vs. them mentality because I don't believe the majority of them have the mindset to be overtly oppressive.

But I do worry about the minority who do try to assert their influence / beliefs. I probably have more "Christian friends" than "atheist friends", statistically speaking, that wouldn't want to deny me my right to listen to extreme music or rolling dice to slay dragons and raid treasure troves.

Anyway, we're off point. Hopefully the OP figures out where he's going to get an answer to his question. Hopefully on a site that's more to serving such dialogue if genuine.

Because I doubt he's going to find it here.

And on that note, there's a meme out there needing me to exploit it with a Rule 34. :)


Darkwing Duck wrote:
However, the real value of religion comes from the fact that the scripture is inconsistent and unclear. The value comes from the debate and arguments within the church/temple/etc. So, people will disagree and beliefs will evolve. This is good.

According to the sociologist and historian of religion Marcel Gauchet, who went straight to the logical conclusion of this historical thesis in his famous book The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion, christian values ensured that the belief in god evolved until it was no longer needed, as the debate and arguments led to prefer the rational thinking involved in debating to the non-rational belief in god. Christian religion is thus for him "the religion of the end of religion."

He went as far as to say that christian values, submited to the rational pressure of theological debate, was the historical core of laicity and modern atheism.

An interresting read, in any case.


Urizen wrote:
As a guy who listens to extreme metal, I know the persecution all too well.

I never got right into the full on extreme stuff, but that sort of didn't matter because the 'burn in Hell' brigade pretty much came after us all.

In fairness, I don't go onto Christian chat forums and lay cables in their threads, I am a fan of live and let live after all, however when I see their threads popping up on my hobby boards then I feel no compulsion or restraint in trolling them right back off.

I am all for people having faith, if that's what gets them through the night, I'm happy that they are happy and all that. I don't go out of my way to find and annoy them.

Happy Easter, Happy Eostre, happy Ostara, happy whatever your happy with guys :)


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I think God should have had a vorpal sword defend the garden of Eden would have been much cooler that way.


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First off I am an atheist and will get that out of the way at the start. Second questioning or trying to dispute or disprove someone else s core beliefs is actually quite rude. You may not understand this (and I barely do myself admittedly) but many Christians view God/Jesus as a VERY real entity with whom they commune, love, revere, and even have personal relationship with. They are very close to this being, they are like family, and as such do not take kindly to attacks on this being. Maybe if you were simply curious and wanted to ask questions for the sake of learning and worded such inquiries in a neutral stance instead of a patronizing stance it wouldn't be so bad. But you seem to want an answer that disproves the Genesis account than a genuine heartfelt faith answer from a christian, you seem already determined to receive one answer. Please try and remember that you are dealing with peoples entire view of the world when you get flippant, or condescending about God, you are essentially insulting their best friend/ father figure. If you expect anything but anger from such a method then frankly I hope this post educates you ever so slightly.


I actually find that many of my questions about all sorts of things are met with blank gazes. This site is made up of a collection of individuals who like Pathfinder which is in many ways a thinking man's game as it is ultimately a game of imagination + math. In some ways I can't think of a better crowd to ask complicated questions of because what causes you to be here is not a common ideology but an interest that promotes thinking. And while many of you are indeed dicks none of you have struck me as stupid.

A lot of my questions come from this: Most sets of beliefs(I'm using this word in the sense that it is something you accept as reliable instead of being necessarily faith based) from religions to scientific theories to what you think tastes good to you come with a number of inborn assumptions that may not be readily apparent but that I find to be actually very important because they form the pillars in which your ideas are based. And even if they are 100% true if they are more complicated than you are giving them credit for they can create a 'blind spot' that can lead to the whole belief suddenly not supporting you when you need it to and leaving you utterly confused as to why.

Usually I approach questions in a tone that is both self deprecating and gently teasing of the subject matter but apparently it doesn’t come across very well if I’m not physically present doing it. Ok, lession learned. Let me restate my question then here in clear language that won’t be found offensive hopefully:

That God is perfect is a common monotheistic belief. The world he created doesn’t seem to be.

Why?

Islam answers this question by saying that while the world seems messed up it is in fact exactly the way God wants it. Ok that makes sense.

Christianity says that the world is dark because of human failure not because God wants it that way. How does something like this happen? How is a nearly powerless created species ruining the plans of an omnipotent architect? If the architect wants the world to be the way it is it makes sense, if he doesn’t how are we overruling him?

This is not meant to be a hostile attack on faith and yes I apologize for being a douche, as said, lession learned.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

I do not usually put on moderator shoes but Gary is currently taking a much needed nap and I'd like to see this thread back on its rails rather than dissolve into flames.

I changed the thread title to be less provocative and removed some unhelpful posts. If you don't want to read the thread, we have an ignore feature.

Andoran

Sara Marie wrote:
I do not usually put on moderator shoes but Gary is currently taking a much needed nap and I'd like to see this thread back on its rails rather than dissolve into flames.

Sara, what kind of shoes are moderator shoes? I've always thought of them as a steel-toed boot, but I'm interested in your take.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CunningMongoose wrote:

According to the sociologist and historian of religion Marcel Gauchet, who went straight to the logical conclusion of this historical thesis in his famous book The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion, christian values ensured that the belief in god evolved until it was no longer needed, as the debate and arguments led to prefer the rational thinking involved in debating to the non-rational belief in god. Christian religion is thus for him "the religion of the end of religion."

He went as far as to say that christian values, submited to the rational pressure of theological debate, was the historical core of laicity and modern atheism.

An interesting read, in any case.

While not having heard of him before, if that's an accurate summary of his position, then I agree.

The whole point of the story of Christ, is that a man came among the people, and told them to treat other people, no matter what their background, the way they would wish to be treated in return.

And once you've mastered that, you can take that big book of religious rules, and throw it in the bin, where it belongs.

His message was "No-one needs religion.".
That is why the vested religious interests of the day had him killed.
Then his followers made a religion around him.
C'est la vie.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jeremiziah wrote:
Sara, what kind of shoes are moderator shoes? I've always thought of them as a steel-toed boot, but I'm interested in your take.

A velvet boot, cast in iron.

Taldor

Dogbladewarrior wrote:
Perhaps it has something to do with the gift of Free Will he gave us? If we at least didn’t have one opportunity to disobey him then we really didn’t have all the options Free Will should grant us did we? But even this is confusing because before we have eaten of the fruit we have no concept of Good or Evil correct? And yet one bad choice will damn the species? Seems like Free Will is a gift in the same vein of giving a two year old a loaded .45 with the safety off for his birthday. One might hesitantly speculate that that is irresponsible parenting at the least, but perhaps that is what happened.

Well I can tell that this started out aggressively, but here's some serious discussion.

1. The primary assumption of Christianity is that this event did NOT damm the entire species.

-Being an Omnipotent being, God knew what humans would do with free will but already had a plan in place to send the Messiah to redeem and forgive the people
-The entire process seems to be geared towards getting a bride for Jesus
-What we consider to be Good Parents in our society allow their children to make "controlled mistakes", designed to help them become better people. A parent that never allowed their children to make a mistake.... well that might sound nice in theory, but wouldn't end well.
-Another assumption is that God wants us to be able to think for ourselves, but choose him anyway

Dogbladewarrior wrote:
Most obviously: Why was it necessary for God to put something as hideously destructive as the ability to disobey him within our grasp? Why even give us the chance to Fall?

I'll assume this is the main question your "looking for an answer to"

- To pick out the best of humanity (Firstfruit's, Elect, etc.)
- In order to Redeem us, the general assumption being that having built a relationship with his son, we're better off than we would have been in the garden as more mindless creatures
- Depending on where you look, it appears that God likely made some humans other than just Adam and Eve, (and has at least by now indirectly made tons of people) meaning that people other than just Adam and Eve have choices to make

Something else to note would be that the way God told them to not eat from the fruit, was different then the way things often work when God speaks - God didn't empower his command to Adam and Eve or they simply wouldn't have been able to perform the task of eating the fruit. With the way in which God exists outside the normal flow of time, he would have already known they were going to eat the fruit before he told them not to, so it was more that kind of warning you give to someone about to do something they really shouldn't. "You shouldn't ride your bike off the roof of that three story building onto a trampoline."


Anewor7 wrote:
Dogbladewarrior wrote:
Perhaps it has something to do with the gift of Free Will he gave us? If we at least didn’t have one opportunity to disobey him then we really didn’t have all the options Free Will should grant us did we? But even this is confusing because before we have eaten of the fruit we have no concept of Good or Evil correct? And yet one bad choice will damn the species? Seems like Free Will is a gift in the same vein of giving a two year old a loaded .45 with the safety off for his birthday. One might hesitantly speculate that that is irresponsible parenting at the least, but perhaps that is what happened.

Well I can tell that this started out aggressively, but here's some serious discussion.

1. The primary assumption of Christianity is that this event did NOT damm the entire species.

-Being an Omnipotent being, God knew what humans would do with free will but already had a plan in place to send the Messiah to redeem and forgive the people
-The entire process seems to be geared towards getting a bride for Jesus
-What we consider to be Good Parents in our society allow their children to make "controlled mistakes", designed to help them become better people. A parent that never allowed their children to make a mistake.... well that might sound nice in theory, but wouldn't end well.
-Another assumption is that God wants us to be able to think for ourselves, but choose him anyway

Dogbladewarrior wrote:
Most obviously: Why was it necessary for God to put something as hideously destructive as the ability to disobey him within our grasp? Why even give us the chance to Fall?

I'll assume this is the main question your "looking for an answer to"

- To pick out the best of humanity (Firstfruit's, Elect, etc.)
- In order to Redeem us, the general assumption being that having built a relationship with his son, we're better off than we would have been in the garden as more mindless creatures
- Depending on where you look, it appears that God likely made some humans other...

Or that God put the tree there so that we knew that we had free will - that we could choose not to follow his direction.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Urizen wrote:

...

As a side tangent, maybe it's me, but I don't get what is this attraction about instigating political or religious topics in such excess on a role playing game board? I know I sure don't open up topics about Pathfinder on Belief.NET, FoxNews or Huffington Post. ;-)

Because you guys (we Paizonians) are the kinds of people I talk to: same general background, likes and dislikes, common language of geekery and nerdery, etc., etc.

Belief.NET, FoxNews or Huffington Post (et al.) are filled with all types of posters (people), most of whom, reading the boards over yon, are nothing like me.

I don't care what they think, and I don't feel like I could carry on a lengthy conversation with any of them.

You, Urizen, I've never met you, but I've seen your picture (you look, strangely, nothing like a Drow) and bantered with you for years--years!

I post on lots of other message boards, but I couldn't name any poster from any of them, and none of them could I go through the archives and see evidence of hundreds of conversations had over years.

This is part of what makes Paizo so damned special.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
The Minis Maniac wrote:
First off I am an atheist and will get that out of the way at the start. Second questioning or trying to dispute or disprove someone else s core beliefs is actually quite rude. You may not understand this (and I barely do myself admittedly) but many Christians view God/Jesus as a VERY real entity with whom they commune, love, revere, and even have personal relationship with. They are very close to this being, they are like family, and as such do not take kindly to attacks on this being. Maybe if you were simply curious and wanted to ask questions for the sake of learning and worded such inquiries in a neutral stance instead of a patronizing stance it wouldn't be so bad. But you seem to want an answer that disproves the Genesis account than a genuine heartfelt faith answer from a christian, you seem already determined to receive one answer. Please try and remember that you are dealing with peoples entire view of the world when you get flippant, or condescending about God, you are essentially insulting their best friend/ father figure. If you expect anything but anger from such a method then frankly I hope this post educates you ever so slightly.

Wow. Well said.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Jeremiziah wrote:
Sara Marie wrote:
I do not usually put on moderator shoes but Gary is currently taking a much needed nap and I'd like to see this thread back on its rails rather than dissolve into flames.
Sara, what kind of shoes are moderator shoes? I've always thought of them as a steel-toed boot, but I'm interested in your take.

They're ballet slippers.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Darkwing Duck wrote:
...God put the tree there so that we knew that we had free will - that we could choose not to follow his direction.

The Eden chapter presumes a mantle of human emotion on a supreme being--while I agree that early man (and many of us today) would be unable to relate to God in any other way than to anthropomorphize Him, it tends to invalidate the Christian concept for people like me.

As to Free Will, I'm the rare atheist who doesn't believe in it, but that's from a scientific point-of-view, and nothing mystical.

From a Biblical perspective, I'd argue man didn't really have free will until we broke the rules in Eden, which it's safe to assume we wouldn't have done without the prodding of a certain Subversive we all love to hate.

Generally we can all agree that God told Adam, "Don't mess with the Tree." But the fact that Adam had the ability to choose whether or not to eat the Fruit doesn't completely imply free will.

Free will requires that the individual have a understanding of consequences and an ability to compare and contrast (to weigh the consequences and make an intellectual--as opposed to instinctual--decision based on the available choices). This simply wasn't possible until after they ate from the Tree.

When did the test begin? At the moment of Creation? At the creation of the angels? The creation of Lucifer? The placement of Adam in the Garden? The decision by God to have the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden? The moment God told Adam, "Don't mess with the Tree..."?

The omnipotent God, by definition, would have known not merely the Schrödinger answers to all pasts, presents and futures, but the Dark Tower answer as well; and would have known the answer before the question. From this perspective, there's simply no such thing as Free Will--it's an insoluble paradox: if God is omnipotent (which I say He definitively must be in order to be nomen Logos, otherwise he's just superhuman), then God, for example, knew who would accept the Truth and who would deny Him before they were even subatomic attractors, and this knowledge completely invalidates any individual's access to Free Will.

Just look at Judas--you think he had a choice?

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

What does Free Will require and when did we get it?

1) multiple choices with multiple outcomes and branches and sequels are possible,

and

2) the individual (exercising Free Will) possesses the capability to intellectually process choices, and weight and analyze consequences

If, however, the individual's decisions are predetermined in order to force a sequence of events (as with Judas, or Lucifer and his 33.3% of Heaven), then Free Will does not exist; while #2 is present, #1 is not--no matter what choice I think I make, God has chosen for me in order to fulfill His plan--Judas (I think he is the best example) had to betray Christ, or the Crucifixion couldn't have happened; the Crucifixion had to happen in order to fulfill God's plan.

God told Adam and Eve to leave the Tree alone. Adam and Eve are, essentially, children with no experience of 'the bad.' Without a negative experience there is no frame of reference to process a positive experience.

Without any comprehension of good and evil (or, let's say, the difference between good decisions and poor decisions), Eve needed a push in order to make a bad decision--while she might have accidentally done a thing, she couldn't have willfully done a thing without outside help--she didn't have the intellectual capacity to commit a wrong; Adam was tricked into eating the Fruit, so he is completely out of the decision cycle and will simply suffer the consequences.

After eating the Fruit, they both have an epiphanic understanding of right and wrong, good and evil--they now have the ability to exercise Free Will because they now are able to intellectually process both good and bad decisions.


Anewor

When it comes to whether man was damned it depends on how you look at it. We were cast out of a paradise for a harsh world of evil and suffering. Doomed automatically to Hell? No(which I guess is what damned would mean normally in the place I used it, touche).

The rest of your points fit with the idea of an omnipotent God with a plan but if this all happened the way it was supposed to why treat man so harshly? And why then are the concepts of blame, guilt and redemption so important in Christianity? A mistake we were meant to make is solely God's responsibility when you get right down to it isn't it?


Andrew Turner wrote:


Free will requires that the individual have a understanding of consequences and an ability to compare and contrast (to weigh the consequences and make an intellectual--as opposed to instinctual--decision based on the available choices). This simply wasn't possible until after they ate from the Tree.

With that definition of free will, I agree with you. It is, after all, called the tree of _knowledge_ of good and evil.

Qadira

I'll answer questions with a question: Why do people assume that every story in the Bible is meant to be taken as literal truth, that it is historical and actually happened that way? There are a large number of Christians (and Jews, since this is an Old Testament story, and therefore in the Torah) in the world, and only a small fraction actually believe everything in that book is literal truth.


Hehe everything you've said is spot on Andrew. Numerous elements of the tale strip mankind of his Free Will conceptually. However for many Christian narratives it is important we have it then so that it can be a sin to eat the apple. The Original Sin which must be a knowing choice to betray God's will, otherwise we didn't do anything wrong.

There are some pretty good arguments from a atheist point of view against free will as well. Such as the idea that you actually have to know what is happening in a situation to make a choice that matters. Or that literally everything we are is simply a confluence of events(genes, environment, situation) so we basically just do what we are programmed to do. There are some fun time based ones as well I've heard.


Shadowborn wrote:
I'll answer questions with a question: Why do people assume that every story in the Bible is meant to be taken as literal truth, that it is historical and actually happened that way? There are a large number of Christians (and Jews, since this is an Old Testament story, and therefore in the Torah) in the world, and only a small fraction actually believe everything in that book is literal truth.

Most people don't but I actually explained why I was taking the tale at face value in that first unfortunate post. Because it is important for the narratives that drive much of Christianities' tone.


Actually my other big problem in the way I launched this thread is that I didn’t provide any personal information about myself as the inquirer. It didn’t seem relevant at the time but I think a lot of what went wrong initially is not explaining where I am coming from.

Theology As Interpreted By Morons (T.A.I.B.M) is the name a group of friends and I have for our informal debate club where we talk about religious beliefs. Only one of us has any actual religious education and the rest of us are ‘Morons’. That name was incorporated into the original name of this thread and came off as offensive, so for anyone just reading now and having no idea what I’m referencing that’s what I’m talking about.

I am a person with 10,000 questions and like philosophical conversations. Why did I use the above as my first posed here? Because it was one of the few questions that actually stumped my group recently. It seems to be a bizarre hole in common Christian belief, but maybe it isn’t and we are just missing something

Also there is no anger or scorn in me for Christianity at all. I grew up in a Christian home going to a non denominational Christian church and when I came out as Bi-Sexual in my teens you know what their response was? NOTHING NEGATIVE AT ALL! They just shrugged and accepted it, not even giving me a patronizing “We still love you anyway.” Which to be honest means Christians gave me the most accepting response of anyone I’ve ever encountered. Even the most pro-gay rights person who ask my orientation usually has an uncomfortable look on their face for a few moments as they process it. The people who have treated me the best in my life are Christians.

I’m not saying I’ve never mocked Christianity, I gave my parents a really hard time about it for awhile when I was a teenager (although that had to do with trying to push them over the edge and breaking their eternal patience rather than anger at God.) and even now there are certain ideas many churches hold that I think are just a mess and will tease(they are social issues mostly, I actually have no problem with creation stories because the premise is already –this is magic-).

I’ve apologized for the rather sarcastic tone of the opening post of this thread several times and I want readers to know I mean it. I’m not saying I will never be sarcastic on these forums because I will be but I have learned my lesson and will not open a conversation in that way on the internet again.

Taldor

dogbladewarrior wrote:
When it comes to whether man was damned it depends on how you look at it. We were cast out of a paradise for a harsh world of evil and suffering.

From the Christian point of view, this time is extremely fast in passing (a breath on the wind) compared to the "long life" we expect after this world. The Garden of Eden was not really a paradise compared to the one that's coming. The Garden of Eden wasn't any more paradise than a zoo is to gorillas.

Dogbladewarrior wrote:
The rest of your points fit with the idea of an omnipotent God with a plan but if this all happened the way it was supposed to why treat man so harshly? And why then are the concepts of blame, guilt and redemption so important in Christianity? A mistake we were meant to make is solely God's responsibility when you get right down to it isn't it?

Well first of all there's a few definitional things to take care of in what you have said here.

Harsh can range from Unpleasant to cruel in how it is implied - most Christians would make some sort of claim that God has placed us in a situation that is uncomfortable, but not necessarily cruel

As for Redemption the non-circular definitions are Rescue or Repurchase (as in rebuying something that you had sold) - So, Redemption then would be Jesus rescuing us from ourselves basically.

Now for some comparison - on Bible Gateway with the NIV version of the Bible, the word Redemption gets 24 hits, "Blame" gets 6 hits, by comparison "Blameless" gets 53 hits, guilt shows up 107 times in the old Testament - but only once in the new testament - I guess you could say guilt is a more important topic to Jewish people than Christians :P
For some fun comparisons "Money" gets 113 references throughout the Bible (pretty evenly through old and new testaments), "gold" shows up 150 times, "love" shows up 533 times, "heaven" shows up 399 times, "Hell" shows up 13 times

-Basically Blame and Guilt are NOT important in Christianity.
-Interestingly though English as a language encourages us to place blame on people Cracked

Blame and Guilt also don't make very interesting concepts for a religion that offers easy, instant forgiveness. I'm not saying individual Christians may not try to blame people for things or make people feel guilty about sinning, but that's not supposed to be an institutionalized part of the religion.

*edit* Redemption gets 24 hits in the Bible btw :)

Taldor

If your interested in various Christian perspectives on "the Nature of Evil"

In order I would recommend
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (Most specifically book 2, chapter 3, The Shocking Alternative)
2. Boethius' "Consolation of Philosophy" - MUCH more in-depth than Lewis, btw Extremely condensed wikipedia summary
3. Assorted writings of Thomas Aquinas, I can't quite place my hands on some book I have on him, but his wikipedia entry might give you a general idea of where he's going Nature of God

On another note, there are far more "rejected" philosophical arguments about "The Nature of Evil" than there are ones still considered valid, I've got a book around somewhere on "philosophy of religion" that talks about rejected arguments.


Sara Marie wrote:

I do not usually put on moderator shoes but Gary is currently taking a much needed nap and I'd like to see this thread back on its rails rather than dissolve into flames.

I changed the thread title to be less provocative and removed some unhelpful posts. If you don't want to read the thread, we have an ignore feature.

Shifty Sez...

So I personally consider the Christians as being 100% fair game

You know, I may get a ban for this one, and I KNOW I shouldn't do this...

But Yeah, cause posts like this are helpful

I'm out

Happy Easter.

From a Gaming Christian.


Anewor

Agreed on Heaven being 1,000% better than GoE and yes if you look at it as God trying to get us there instead of the lower paradise ‘zoo’ of the garden it makes sense.

Yeah but even then arguments against him not being cruel are a little weak. Ok let's look at ourselves as children for a moment and God as our parent(that seems to be in line with what you think yes?). Is it cruel treatment for our parent to kick us out of their house when we are young and intellectually underdeveloped into a wide world where the possibilities of us being beaten, raped and murdered are ever present? And that's not just the savagery of prehistory either; I read in a magazine recently that 1 in 3 adult women in the United States say they have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life. Is that the actual number? Who knows? But I've known rape victims and that is something no one should ever suffer through. God is omnipotent and can stop these crimes against his children whenever he wants. Can you honestly make the argument that it's not a little cruel not to do so? Think of the children man! THE CHILDREN!

One interesting argument against God’s cruelty is to, instead of thinking of life as the journey and Heaven the end, think of life as the prelude and Heaven the meat of the story. Then it doesn’t matter if you were raped to death as a child, many protagonists have dark beginnings, the full tale takes place in the here after! The place of Hell kinda gets confusing with this idea though so it works better with things like Universal Salvation.

More generally the idea that God is merciful and that Heaven is just so awesome it makes up for the bad things in life can be used to ameliorate feelings of perceived cruelty.

As far as blame and guilt and the price to be paid to redeem our failings not having a place in Christianity?

What is Sin then?

Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

And the idea that Jews place greater emphasis on guilt than Christians? My answer to that? Old School Catholicism.


Anewor7 wrote:

If your interested in various Christian perspectives on "the Nature of Evil"

In order I would recommend
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (Most specifically book 2, chapter 3, The Shocking Alternative)
2. Boethius' "Consolation of Philosophy" - MUCH more in-depth than Lewis, btw Extremely condensed wikipedia summary
3. Assorted writings of Thomas Aquinas, I can't quite place my hands on some book I have on him, but his wikipedia entry might give you a general idea of where he's going Nature of God

On another note, there are far more "rejected" philosophical arguments about "The Nature of Evil" than there are ones still considered valid, I've got a book around somewhere on "philosophy of religion" that talks about rejected arguments.

Thank you that gives me a good place to get started.

Shadow Lodge

Shadowborn wrote:
I'll answer questions with a question: Why do people assume that every story in the Bible is meant to be taken as literal truth, that it is historical and actually happened that way? There are a large number of Christians (and Jews, since this is an Old Testament story, and therefore in the Torah) in the world, and only a small fraction actually believe everything in that book is literal truth.

Because of the slippery slope problem.

If the bible is deciding what is real and what is good then it remains the ultimate authority and is in charge.

If human being decides what in the bible is real, then they're deciding what is good: which is supposed to be jobs god. Once you start using something other than the bible to decide what good is and then read the bible in light of that, you wind up wrapping the bible around your own very human morality and may as well chuck it aside completely and join the Universal Unitarians.

Qadira

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
I'll answer questions with a question: Why do people assume that every story in the Bible is meant to be taken as literal truth, that it is historical and actually happened that way? There are a large number of Christians (and Jews, since this is an Old Testament story, and therefore in the Torah) in the world, and only a small fraction actually believe everything in that book is literal truth.

Because of the slippery slope problem.

If the bible is deciding what is real and what is good then it remains the ultimate authority and is in charge.

If human being decides what in the bible is real, then they're deciding what is good: which is supposed to be jobs god. Once you start using something other than the bible to decide what good is and then read the bible in light of that, you wind up wrapping the bible around your own very human morality and may as well chuck it aside completely and join the Universal Unitarians.

But then you end up with the divine command theory, something is good because God said it is. Therefore, if God commanded us to kill infants by shoving live kittens down their throats, that would be a good act, because God said so...

Besides, I didn't say "real," I said "literal truth." Something can be true, or reveal truth, without being real. That's why we have fiction. In the Bible, Jesus tells parables. He does this not to tell stories about true events, but to use stories to get his moral across to his audience. Creation myths are just that: myths. They're stories told to reveal truths about the human condition, not historical records.

Shadow Lodge

Shadowborn wrote:
But then you end up with the divine command theory, something is good because God said it is. Therefore, if God commanded us to kill infants by shoving live kittens down their throats, that would be a good act, because God said so...

Yes you do. But god doesn't command anything bad because he's good. You know he's good because he doesn't command anything bad.

A circular argument is not a good argument but it is one of the strongest.

Quote:
Besides, I didn't say "real," I said "literal truth." Something can be true, or reveal truth, without being real. That's why we have fiction.

Right, but that opens up a level of interpretation for your ideas to go ahead of god.

Quote:
In the Bible, Jesus tells parables. He does this not to tell stories about true events, but to use stories to get his moral across to his audience. Creation myths are just that: myths. They're stories told to reveal truths about the human condition, not historical records.

Right, because that's clearly story within a story.


In addition to the persons mentioned above, there is also Gottfried Leibnitz and his "best of all possible worlds" approach on the question of free will and evil.


3ntf4k3d wrote:
In addition to the persons mentioned above, there is also Gottfried Leibnitz and his "best of all possible worlds" approach on the question of free will and evil.

Cool I'll check that out too.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dogbladewarrior wrote:

In the Beginning…

Two of the most basic concepts of Christianity that hold true across denominations is the dual idea that God is both Good (God is Love) and that God is Perfect (omnipotent, omniscient, always has a plan). A fine assertion but one that encounters some minor resistance when compared to the state of the world. Take a look around, does this look like the world a perfect nice guy would make? I’m not trying to insult you world but you’re kind of a mess.

Something went wrong at some point didn’t it?

Or did it? Why did the Garden of Eden include a Tree with the Fruit of Temptation? Why was the possibility of Fall a neccessary part of the Garden? The Islamics would tell you that all happens because Allah wills it to be so.

You might want to read Broca's Brain by Carl Sagan, who discusses the story and it's metaphors at considerable length. Adam and Eve don't really become characters until the Fall. As Sagan writes, the price of consciousness is the loss of innocence. Read the passage in Genesis about what exactly happens when the fruit is consumed. "And the scales were lifted from their eyes and they beheld their nakedness." Eden is a story that popular expression tends to strip much of the complexity from, and perhaps that simplification means we don't get the lessons from Genesis that we should be getting.


Actually you know what the biggest point I should have made a bit ago in defense of the idea of blame and guilt being an integral part of much of common Christianity but for some reason it slipped my mind?

Hell.

Explain that in a system were condemnation doesn't play a heavy role.

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