the relevance of honesty in theology and our current societal paradigm Where are you?: the relevance of honesty in theology and our current societal paradigm

By Nate on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 02:54 pm:

    i firmly believe that the honesty or lack thereof of the "creator" preceived by our current religious majority has no bearing on the state of today's society.

    in other words, if god was a liar, how would the world be different?

    would it be?

    i doubt it.

By R.C. on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 04:13 pm:

    If God was a lair/how wd we know?

By Nate on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 04:34 pm:

    i think that's kind of my point.

By Bagpuss on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 04:44 pm:

    It's not that I don't believe in God, I just don't agree with Him/She/It.


By Swine on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 05:21 pm:

    i was vaguely paying attention to a show on tv yesterday that was attempting to back up the events told within the bible with scientific fact.

    many of the events depicted within that text are a fairly accurate representation of sociopolitical history.
    Norman Gottwald does a great job illustrating that point...

    what struck me was the total lack of consistency. if god does (or did) exist, than he is (was) kind of a slacker. yeah, he takes the time to send Sodom and Gommorah straight to fiery oblivion in order to teach the sinners a lesson, but what about New York and Los Angeles?

    i dunno, i guess i don't really want to get to deep into it (cuz i know what kind of chaos will ensue around here) but it seems to me that if God did exist, he was an amateur at best.

    he sure as hell wasn't successful in getting people to adhere to his wishes or to get them to really take him seriously at all.

    god needs managerial training.

    i know a good firm based in brooklyn that could help him out with that...

    so, big guy, if you're logged on and paying attention, i'll hook you up if you give me a ring.

    i assume you have my number.

By heather on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 05:43 pm:

    what would be the point if people were adhering to someone's wishes? i don't presume to understand what the point is, but it seems like playing chess with yourself (manipulating mindless pawns) would get really boring.

    if the creator really was the point of origin, everything eminating from that point would be the truth- or everything would be a lie. doesn't the understanding of origin presuppose any possibilities of contradiction?

By heather on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 05:46 pm:

    why does this question smell like bait?

By Margret on Monday, May 24, 1999 - 05:55 pm:

    I really enjoyed "the Deathbird" (this may or may not have been its actual title, my brain is mush) from Harlan Ellison's "Deathbird Stories" on this very topic (sort of). It sort of posited that there had been a creator race and some god guy who both hung at the beginning of the earth, and the god guy sued in creator court and got to keep the earth on a technicality or something, and went absolutely bonkers, and the mellow creator race felt such sympathy, such pain for those of us on this planet that they were doing the only thing they thought they had left as an option. They were calling the deathbird down on us and our crazy usurper god. Harlan Ellison rocks it so hard sometimes.
    I can only deal with questions like this as issues of style in a fictional/mythical narrative. Sorry.

By R.C. on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 01:32 am:

    Free will is the crux of the issue/IMHO.

    I can buy the fact that the universe was created by a Supreme Being. There is too much order in the sun rises & sunsets/& bees pollinating flowers that yield crops that humans eat/& oceans being saltwater but inland lakes & rivers & streams that human's need being freshwater/& mammalian embryos all looking the same in the earliest stages of development/for me to believe all that stuff is the random product of Evolution. But I cannot believe that the Earth is only 6 thousand yrs.old. So somehow/ Evolution & Creationism co-exist for me. And the Old Testament has WAY too many gaps to rule out the truths of Evolution.

    But I draw the line at humans being descended from apes/becuz there are still too many quasi- humanoid critters is our evolutionary history that did not produce any art or music or heiroglyphs or recorded thought. Which for me/is what distinguishes us from chimps & apes. No chimp cd ever have conceived of a graphic interface. Or a major chord. Or primary colors.

    [Where is Sem when we need him?]

    But us humans were given the Pandora's Box of Free Will. Which for me indicates that we were created in God's image & likeness. Becuz we have a mind that is like God's/in the fact that it can conceive ideas & dreams/& choose to do or not do what it wants. We have instinctual impluses/but we can choose not to act upon them. Even to the extreme of refusing to eat/or mate. Animals can't make those choices.

    I think God choose to make God'self Self- Limiting/in order to allow us to choose/endlessly /a hundred times a day. I believe that God needs us as much as we need God. Otherwise /what's the point in being God/if no one believes in God?

    But God didn't want a robot race of beings who were slaves to God's will. God wants us to believe in God & CHOOSE to follow God's teachings. Even tho' God is does not reveal Gods'elf to us directly.

    That's where Faith kicks in/& the sticky stuff begins.

By Cyst on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 07:42 am:

    we're not exactly "descended from apes," but apes and humans certainly share common ancestors.

    art, music and written history are all very, very new. even the lascaux cave paintings only go back, what, a hundred thousand years?

    we weren't put on this earth by god as a creature completely different from all the others. we only recently became very different from, say, our cousins, the chimpanzees, which share over 99% of of our genetic code (I can't remember exactly what this really means but have read it in many texts -- perhaps some biologist could explain).

    the genetic similarity between chimps and humans is not just coincidence. it is because we diverged from them evolutionarily in the recent past.

    our australopithecine ancestors walked upright over 3.5 million years ago. our brains were not big, though -- I doubt lucy played the violin. art, music, literature -- that's all brand-new shit. we haven't always had them and we haven't always looked the way we do, either.

By Cyst on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 07:52 am:

    if a chimp could conceive of a major chord or graphic interface, she'd have no way to tell us about it.

    also, I believe there are some animals (elephants, for instance? don't know, never studied animal behavior) that sometimes do refuse food when they are in grief, maybe when a mate or offspring dies.

    I think the major difference between us and the rest of the animal world is that we dig big holes and fill them with little plastic yogurt containers and styrofoam cups. no other animal does this.

By Nate on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 11:50 am:

    free will is a sham. if the christian myth is truth, then there is no free will. you can say a dog has free will if you don't feed him until he does a trick, but the fact of the matter is he is uncomfortable because he is hungry and you hold the food.

    if all you need to go to heaven is to believe in jesus and accept him as your savior, and if god gives some of us little voices that inspire faith and fails to give the same to the rest of us, then there is no free will. you either have what it takes to make it to heaven, or you don't. and god gave you what you have.


    there was an episode of ALF where ALF reveals that all melmacians live to exactly 500 years. at 475 they take away everyone's credit card.

    consider how important it is to society that we all have varied durations of life. if everyone knew they would live exactly 75 years, what would happen in the last hour of everyone's life? you know you're going to die, what are you going to do?

    people fear punishment. human punishment. that is largest driving factor in anyone's life. morality is a societal construct based on the gregarious nature of humankind. the gregarious nature of humankind is based on the fear of punishment. the fear of discomfort.

    so if you know you will die, what is left to fear?

By heather on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 12:41 pm:

    a crucial part of the myth is that as separate from God you could not possibly understand

    the sovereignty of God that still allows one to make decisions

    logic, intelligence and knowledge make blind faith increasingly impossible
    lots of difficult issues for a person who was raised to strongly believe in something that each new revelation calls into question

By Nate on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 01:26 pm:

    controlling the masses, lesson #9:

    the best way to control someone is to make them think they are making the decisions you are making for them.

    controlling the masses, lesson #46:

    leverage yourself so that your own flaws can be explained away as the incomprehension of those beneath you.

    Tomas Aquinas, when faced with the flaw of the comandment of monotheism and the catholic construct of god the father, god the son and god the holy spirit, created the idea of the Holy Trinity.

    For me there are two things related to the great spirit. Knowledge of God, and religion.
    religion is a sham.

    I do not think that morality has anything to do with God. God is everything, and therefore is all sides.

    morality dissolves when the fear of punishment leaves us.

    i don't remember who said this, but it was something to the effect of: if everyone believes in god, how come we lock up people who actually get to talk to god?

By R.C. on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 03:09 pm:

    "Morality dissolves when the fear of punishment leaves us."

    Beg to differ. Despite all the bad & wrong things I've done/there is some shit I cd easily have gotten away with (sleeping w/someone else's husband/stealing when no one was there to catch me) that I did NOTdo becuz it knew it was morally wrong. There was no fear of punishment. I simply chose not to act immorally becuz I knew it was wrong. And becuz I care abt what God thinks of me.

    For me/God isn't just some vast spiritual force in the universe/or some authority figure sitting up on a throne in heaven. God is more like an invisible best friend who's always right there beside me. We don't always get along well. We argue a lot sometimes. But God knows everything abt me/even the shit I never tell other people. And God still cares abt me/in spite of all my flaws. Having God is my life is tremendously important -- the same as w/any best friend.

By Margret on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 03:19 pm:

    Don't believe in God.

    Never have -- not raised that way.

    Don't especially fear punishment.

    Live my life according to a standard because the ethics themselves are delights, the ordering of my life according to certain principles I have chosen the very hallmark of a completely illusory freedom. But I like my illusions.

By Swine on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 03:54 pm:

    i don't do fucked up things because i don't want to be a fucked up person.

    for me, it's just that simple.

By Nate on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 04:30 pm:

    why do you care what god thinks of you?

    why don't you want to be a fucked up person?

    is there anything you would never do though you might like to? what keeps you from doing this?

    everything comes back to two things for me. fear of punishment/discomfort, and personal enjoyment/satisfaction. that's it.

By Swine on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 04:49 pm:

    why would you want to be a fucked up person?

    have you ever been exposed to any truly fucked up people?

    people who have zero control of their lives and who are just riding the downward spiral because they see no other option...
    ever been exposed to any of them?

    if all your motivation comes from fear of punishment and impulsion towards the pleasure principle, then you've probably lead a very sheltered life...
    or you have no spine.

By Nate on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 05:38 pm:

    there you go, swine.

    tell me that's not your fear of discomfort.

    you're certainly not motivated by anything external to your own wellbeing.

By Swine on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 06:06 pm:

    that's all way too simple.

    i'm not only motivated by my own wellbeing.
    i'm also motivated by my sense of righteousness.
    and by my mom and dad.
    especially my mom.

    you can't roll all that up into punishment/discomfort vs. pleasure/satisfction because it just doesn't fit.

    not for me, anyway.

By heather on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 06:18 pm:

    i love posts i have to read twice

    controlling the masses, lesson #4,652:

    forget all that other stuff, controlling the masses is pointless.

    or is the point that humankind invented god to control the masses... or just to find some control?

    no offense to catholics, defend yourself if you will, but catholicism has been significantly fucked at least since Constantine built the first basilica in 313 (a secular building which represents the poxer of the emporer) and then gave Rome to the leader of the christian church to govern.

    the didactic purpose of the new testament (although it has issues) is a very different thing from the teachings of religion.

    i'm finding problematic any ideology that not only dismisses but denies the beliefs of the entire rest of the world.

    the place of athiests has no morality?
    you think all people would be 'bad' if they could not be punished?

    (some of the people who talk to god also talk to george washington and think that they're napolean.)

    margret, does the desire for an ordered life mean that you fear the disorder of others?

    swine's argument sounds like karma. that's not fear of punishment?

    another thing about what god 'thinks' of you: CAN its seems as if what god thinks of you would never change.

    fear of punishment is not what prevents me from...
    killing people, burning down houses, joining the army, cheating on tests, stealing cars, hitting old ladies, molesting children... or any other horrible or not so horrible thing that i would never consider doing.

By Nate on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 06:30 pm:

    i think the mind is ultimately plastic. reality is subjective.

    swine's argument is a choice not to allow anything that rules over you as such be broken down into something so simple.

    all relgion is based on controlling the masses. it must be rooted in the idea that the society of humankind is too stupid to maintain itself without a set of rules.

    if fear of punishment is not what prevents you from killing people, etc, what does?

    (perhaps you've never been in a position where you might benefit from killing someone?)

    maybe i should put it this way. a meteor is racing towards earth. the earth will be destroyed and everyone will die in 1 hour.

    who do you trust?

By Swine on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 06:55 pm:

    that's not an argument.
    that's my life.

    and i don't practice hinduism.

    the biggest problem with organized religion is that each organization thinks they own the "god property".
    they believe that they own the property, define the property, and most importantly control access to the property.
    once you set up a hierarchy in which only the uppermost echelon accesses, defines, and distributes what is ineffable by nature, then you are dealing with an organization that is obviously secular and based on power and control.
    You want to be closer to god?
    Go to church.
    You want to talk to god?
    Talk through the priest.
    You say god talks to you directly?
    Prepare to be institutionalized or destroyed.

    etc, etc, etc… it's all the same shit that's been said millions of times before.

    And I don't kill people because I think killing is ultimately wrong.
    With a few exceptions.
    If someone were to murder my parents, I'd definitely hunt them down, torture them to death, and gladly spend the rest of my days in prison if and when I was prosecuted.
    it's a catch-22. if I didn't seek revenge all the pain and rage would make my life not worth living, anyway.

    the whole argument that you are motivated by this or that is just too ridiculously simple to be applied to such complex beasts as humans.

    binary philosophy.

    log out, man.

By heather on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 07:00 pm:

    sorry, haven't slept for a long time...
    1 poxer=power
    2 i have no idea what the CAN is in the god thinking thing

    of course reality is subjective, if there's even one consistant and non-fluctuating definition of reality.

    i hate extreme distillation of ideas. everything is gray or maybe another color altogether.

    you could easily benefit from killing someone, if just to take what they have.

    if everyone dies in 1 hour, who do you need to trust? no one should need anything. i don't foresee the finally 'freed' people
    go on a killing spree like they've always wanted. don't most people imagine that they'd fuck or eat 12 gallons of ice cream? i can't comprehend that doing extreme damage is the thing that everyone most wants to do in the light of no consequence.

    as far as what prevents me from doing those things...i have just NEVER entertained any idea to do them. i don't want to, even for payment, maybe even if killing someone is the only way you could be 'saved'.
    maybe i have to think about this more but there a billions of things i'd rather do...
    killing..etc and even lesser things just feel wrong down to my core. of course the list is tempered by the example i've been shown in my life but....

By Margret on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 08:17 pm:

    Wow. Huh.

    If everyone were going to die in an hour and I could do whatever I, no desire to kill anyone lurking in shadows of soul...

    Well. No, I don't really fear the disorder of other lives, or even my own which is pretty much like any other, a seething jumble of rational and a-rational impulses and responses and all the like. It's something more asthetic, it's like R.C.'s arguments about my simian DNA. I have this capacity for reflection (we all do), I have this capacity for analysis of a situation, and thinking and ordering my life around the few very strong beliefs I have is very much about my commitment to a rationalist (but not entirely) view of human potential which says that on the balance we have the power to live together ok if we'd just commit to seeing self as larger than me me me, and try to do what's good and right. It's only semi-rational, though, because a good part of it has to do with the beauty of the words I have read on the subject, and how they stirred me. I have a major thing for words. Hobbes writes incredibly beautifully. Wittgenstein in translation is a sumptuous and wierd feast. Nietzsche's prose is unparalleled (sp.? I've tried the double L both places and it looks right in neither). The Federalist papers are gorgeous. Sigh.

    There is a bad flu or some shit going around. I have it now. If anyone coughs near you, run from them. You will not like this flu.

By R.C. on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 08:54 pm:

    Look -- nobody *has* to believe on God. I just don't get why the people who don't usually insist on being so smugly cynical abt it. The choices we make are abt a lot more than fear of punishment or discomfort, Nate. Becuz most of the really fucked-up shit people do to each other isn't punishable in a court of law. Assholes & despots get away w/fucking people over every day.

    And I care abt what God thinks of me becuz God is GOD. Becuz one day I know I'll have to account for how I've lived my life in this world. And it's not abt fear/becuz I know God's not going to condemn me. That's the gift of salvation -- my sins (past & future) are forgiven. Christ picked up the tab/so we wdn't have to. And I really don't care if other people choose to believe in God or not (& am very lax abt the whole witnessing thing...). And I don't have a problem w/non-believers/so long as they treat people decently. But I don't appreciate it when people who chose to brush God off as a fallacy act like my faith is just a trivial social code that was invented so we'd have a reason not to go around wreaking havoc on each other.

    Believing in God means I have to try & live up to God's standards. Which are impossibly high. But that is as it shd be. Who cd possibly have higher standards than God?

    But I will always be Pro-Choice. I will never tell anyone that they *have to* stay married to someone who is making their life hell/just becuz their spouse hasn't cheated on them yet. Believing in God doesn't mean you have to join a particular church or subscribe whole-hog to a particular set of beliefs. The Bible says "Test these things & see if they are true". And I think some stuff in the Bible patently isn't true -- like the Noah's Ark tale. Some of it is just allegory. Or pretty stories people made up to explain stuff that God apparently didn't spell out for them. But you've gotta read the Bible for yrself (w/a concodrance/& a Hebrew & Greek dictionary handy) turn every principle around in yr mind/apply it to yr own experience/& see if it resonates as true to you.

    The best writings in defense of faith I've ever read were by C.S. Lewis. He explains it far better than I ever cd. Check him out/for those who are interested.

    But I also think that personal choices when there is no fear of punishment don't go far enuf to explain the excruciatingly awful shit people do/even when they know they'll probably end up in jail. I know there are some folks out there who are just insane in the membrane. But there are also serial killers & child molesters who aren't the least bit crazy. Like these kids who keep coming to school w/guns & slaughtering their classmates. They aren't clinically insane. That shit is demonic -- plain & simple. I can't account for people like that/save for the fact that evil exists. And it does infect some of us.

    As for my last hour on Earth/I'd spend it drinking Margarita's w/my folks & playing w/my cat. Killing people wdn't even cross my mind.

By R.C. on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 08:55 pm:

    Oh yeah, Margret -- are you sure it's the flu? Not food poisoning? The flu isn't usually around in the springtime. Altho' where it goes/I cdn't tell you.

By Margret on Tuesday, May 25, 1999 - 09:20 pm:

    It's not a tummy one.

    It's more like strep.

    With coughing.

By R.C. on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 01:48 am:

    Streph? Did you get a throat culture? Streph will NOT resolve itself w/out meds. Get thee to a doctor, PRONTO!

By Nate on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 12:34 pm:

    just to clarify:

    1. i'm not trying to attack anyone's beliefs.
    2. i do believe in god.
    3. i didn't intend for anyone to think about what -they- would do in the last hour, just think if you could trust everyone else on earth to behave consistantly. everyone is going to die in an hour, do you walk through times square?

By Margret on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 12:52 pm:

    To clarify:

    (1) It isn't strep, it's just more like strep than food poisoning. I know because I always get a taste in my throat when I have strep. The taste is absent. It's just LIKE strep.
    (2) I am not smug about not believing in god. People who are smug about atheism have some sort of false consciousness thing going on, where they think they have access to some sort of truth that other people refuse to see. I don't believe in that kind of privileged access to truth bullshit. From either side.
    (3) The last hour thing was an exercise for me in my id unfettered, no fear of retribution and all that. And I find that my id is remarkably similar to my ego, though nowhere near as uptight as my super-ego. If I had no fear of consequences, I would quit working and try to convince everyone else in the world dissatisfied with their participation in a pre-ordained role in any kind of economy to quit work. And, yeah, that might lead to stealing food -- but since there wouldn't be any grocery store employees, I wouldn't have to get confrontational with anyone. Dig?
    (4) I really love lists, but about halfway through I forget what I'm doing. This is part of the fun. TV shows where people say I have 3 things to say to you, and then go 1, 2, C, always crack me up.

By Cyst on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 12:56 pm:

    if everyone was going to die in an hour, a last-time walk through times square could take no more than 60 minutes off my life.

By heather on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 01:06 pm:

    (why would you want to walk through times square in your last hour? i don't even have a great desire to do that now)
    i don't trust anyone to behave consistantly now either

    what if it turned out NOT to be the last hour?

    this could be my last hour

    would everyone even comprehend and believe that it was their last hour?

    nate, what would you do with one hour?

By heather on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 - 01:19 pm:

    does no fear of consequences include various ways of dying slowly?

    if everyone stops working, a good majority would die pretty quickly anyway

    it's people working that put the food in the grocery store... how long would it last?
    can you grow enough food in enough variety including meat (forget about having tofu ever again) and keep it through a winter or a scorching hot summer? can you be your own dentist? can you teach your children everything you want them to know while you're doing all that other stuff?

By Gee on Thursday, May 27, 1999 - 05:22 am:

    What difference does it all make?

By Semillama on Thursday, May 27, 1999 - 12:38 pm:

    Ok, fellow apes:

    According to current anthropological theory, sometime about 3.5 million years ago, a very chimpanzee like ape found a very good reason to start walking around on the ground. It still retained after some evolution the ability to live in trees, but increasingly lived on the ground, perhaps in the border between forest and savannah.
    about as smart as your average chimp, which makes it one of the smartest creatures on the planet at the time. Then something happened into the environment that allowed this creature to start to fill a wide variety of ecological niches, which resulted in the different hominid speicies, such as a. robustus, a afarensis, a. garthi, and so on.
    Then one of these hominids (not robustus) suddenly discovered something that allowed it to gain a distinct advantage in the struggle of life: if you move a sharp stone over flesh, it cuts. This probabaly happened when some unfortunate hominid cut his ass wide open. Anyhow, the hominid species that this spread out among suddenly had access to all this great dead carcasses with loads of meat, fat and marrow (ie boocoo calories). IT is this access to calories that many believe lead to the increase in intelligence. extra calories = more energy to develop intelligence with. Natural selection took it from there, as the individuals with the better capacities to learn and remember became the ones most likely to leave behind off spring, and some time about 200,000 years ago, the first modern humans developed. Even then, it took a while for art to appear (35,000 BP? i'm not sure). So, according to this theory, the evolution of intelligence amongst hominids resulted in at least three distinct species of advanced tool users (h. erectus, h. neandertalensis, and h. sapiens), of which we are (probably) the only homind species left on the planet (thus highly vulnerable to extinction of the entire hominid branch of the primates).

    The SubGeniuses believe that the humans are the result of an experiment by the master Yeti race in Atlantis. One evil, malformed, hairless dwarf of a yeti managed to release the humans and breed with some of them. Other misguided but horny yetis followed his lead, which resulted in the SubGeniuses, who look human, but are actually part yeti.

    I'm not sure which is correct.

By Glass half full on Thursday, May 27, 1999 - 04:16 pm:

    no difference

    it's not gonna happen

    just that things could be a lot worse

    and you have no choice anyway

    except suicide

By Dave on Thursday, May 27, 1999 - 10:27 pm:

    How fucked up is this logic?

    A white object is actually black because it reflects back all the colors of the visible spectrum, absorbing nothing. It is without light.

    Similarly, a black object is actually white because it holds all the colors upon itself, reflecting back nothing.

    What we perceive is based upon what our senses tell us is reality. Our sensitivity to stimuli is remarkably limited when compared to other species and has great variance among our own species.

    So, when we apply an Aristotelian logic to describe and define reality, we are the epitome of arrogance and foolishness.

    Of course, this kind of thinking is a luxury and has little value to real people living moment to moment in the real world.


By Gee on Friday, May 28, 1999 - 01:50 am:

    I never got the "is the glass half empty or half full?" thingy. It really depends on whether you're drinking or pouring.

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