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Bryan

Eternal punishment unjust?

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In an earlier thread, Paul LaClair began to drift from the topic (the nature of Pazkiewicz's treatment of the philosophical problem of evil from a Christian perspective) to the topic of the problem of evil itself.

I promised to start a new thread for purposes of that discussion, so here it is.

Paul started with a question ("How is eternally tormenting someone 'just?'") and though that strikes me as the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof right out of the blocks, I'll assume that this venue predominantly regards eternal punishment as unjust, and I will provide the initial argument.

The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished. Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence.

In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up.

One argument posed in a different thread (and commonly mentioned at various skeptical sites, I might add) is that "finite" sin does not merit "eternal" punishment. But the real issue is perfection. How much punishment does it take to make somebody perfect?

Is the imperfection produced by sin "finite" with respect to the passage of time? How much time must elapse for the past to no longer count?

It seems that perfect justice cannot endure imperfection.

Is it not up to the one claiming otherwise to make the case?

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In an earlier thread, Paul LaClair began to drift from the topic (the nature of Pazkiewicz's treatment of the philosophical problem of evil from a Christian perspective) to the topic of the problem of evil itself.

I promised to start a new thread for purposes of that discussion, so here it is.

Paul started with a question ("How is eternally tormenting someone 'just?'") and though that strikes me as the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof right out of the blocks, I'll assume that this venue predominantly regards eternal punishment as unjust, and I will provide the initial argument.

The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished.  Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence.

In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Get a life!

One argument posed in a different thread (and commonly mentioned at various skeptical sites, I might add) is that "finite" sin does not merit "eternal" punishment.  But the real issue is perfection.  How much punishment does it take to make somebody perfect?

Is the imperfection produced by sin "finite" with respect to the passage of time?  How much time must elapse for the past to no longer count?

It seems that perfect justice cannot endure imperfection.

Is it not up to the one claiming otherwise to make the case?

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Guest Paul
In an earlier thread, Paul LaClair began to drift from the topic (the nature of Pazkiewicz's treatment of the philosophical problem of evil from a Christian perspective) to the topic of the problem of evil itself.

I promised to start a new thread for purposes of that discussion, so here it is.

Paul started with a question ("How is eternally tormenting someone 'just?'") and though that strikes me as the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof right out of the blocks, I'll assume that this venue predominantly regards eternal punishment as unjust, and I will provide the initial argument.

The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished.  Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence.

In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up.

One argument posed in a different thread (and commonly mentioned at various skeptical sites, I might add) is that "finite" sin does not merit "eternal" punishment.  But the real issue is perfection.  How much punishment does it take to make somebody perfect?

Is the imperfection produced by sin "finite" with respect to the passage of time?  How much time must elapse for the past to no longer count?

It seems that perfect justice cannot endure imperfection.

Is it not up to the one claiming otherwise to make the case?

"The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished." A perfectly just wouldn't measure acts on a balance scale. Perfect justice is acting in the best way possible in light of all the circumstances. That is why two people might commit the same misdeed, and not be punished in the same way. What matters is not so much what they did yesterday, as what they will do tomorrow. To a perfect god, the nature and extent of any punishment is measured on a spiritual scale. The "traditional theological argument," as Bryan puts it, measures on a worldly, or mundane scale. (Isn't it amazing that I'm in a position to tell this to people who claim to be religious.) It reflects a very low level of spiritual discernment and moral/ethical development.

"Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence." This is fallacious. A perfect god could abide anything, including the presence of evil. Asserting that he is "prevented" asserts a limitation on his power, which contradicts his supposed omnipotence, thereby asserting an absurdity. Furthermore, if one accepts the Christian narrative of the death and descent into hell, then obviously God was able to abide the presence of evil for the purpose of redeeming humanity. So Christian theology itself denies the premise.

Not that it matters. It's no more related to reality than the old theological debates about how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

However, if a perfect god wanted perfect beings, all he had to do was create them, assuming he ever existed. An all-powerful god should have no difficulty doing that, and still allow free will. Since beings equally perfect as himself would never choose to sin, we would have a perfect universe, which is exactly what one would expect if an omnipotent and omniscient and loving god was in charge. In fact, why couldn't "God" just make an entire race of Jesus-es? Make them male and female if you like, an omnipotent god could do it any way he liked. Then no one would have to be jealous of anyone. What's the problem?

"In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up." 1. Why? You say those things from a limited, human perspective, and even there they are morally, ethically and spiritually deficient. On what basis do you assert that a perfect and omnipotent god would be a bean-counter? 2. You're dodging the question, which is: how and why is eternal torment just?

To explain my views a little further: the concept of eternal torment in hell (as part of a loving god's justice, no less) is among the most destructive concepts in all history. It produces and/or feeds a spiritual sickness, which afflicts everyone it touches. Think about it. If you really believe this concept, think about what you are endorsing --- and when you can endorse something that evil, you can endorse anything. Then think what you're saying about God. (Notice I capitalized it this time.) That's why someone on another topic suggested it would make at least a little sense that the only people who go to hell are the ones who imagine hell to exist. And to top off the irony, the very people who shout the loudest about the world going to hell in a handbasket are the ones whose religious misconceptions point the world in that direction.

No one has to agree, but that's how I see it.

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The dichotomy of Heaven versus Hell seems a bit extreme if anyone short of perfection deserves ever-lasting torment. It also seems to go against the central tenets of Jesus' teachings of tolerance and redemption.

My personal take is that Heaven is not a prize to covet but a standard to aspire to. People talk about Heaven and surround themselves with its iconography, wilst ignoring completely what it takes to be truly deserving of Heaven. Instead, they talk of what they think is deserving of Hell.

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Guest Dingo Dave

Bryan wrote:

"The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished. Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence."

and;

"It seems that perfect justice cannot endure imperfection. Is it not up to the one claiming otherwise to make the case?"

What a load of unadulterated rubbish! You must think that we’re complete idiots.

Are you suggesting that the presence of sin somehow acts like Kryptonite around the otherwise almighty Yahweh? Sounds like something straight out of a Superman comic book! Should we call this your ‘Kryptonite defence’ of eternal punishment? :angry:

Unfortunately, the Bible itself does not support your rationalisation.

According to the Bible, Yahweh is reported to have regularly hung out with, and casuually conversed with numerous imperfect creatures. Do you recall the story of Adam and Eve? Cain and Abel? Lot?

Have you read the book of Job, in which Yahweh conducts several casual conversations with Satan himself, right there in front of him, in Heaven?

Have you forgotten that there was supposed to have been a WAR in Heaven, after which one third of Yahweh’s angels were supposedly thrown over the walls and banished to Earth because they pissed him off by refusing to worship him?

According to the Bible, Yahweh or one of his manifestations (angels) hung around with, and conversed with the likes of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and he is supposed to have even physically wrestled with Jacob until he somehow disjointed his thigh socket during some sort of weird nocturnal pissing match between the two of them.

Elijah was supposed to have been literally sucked up alive, straight into Heaven, as was Enoch and Jesus.

Have you forgotten that Jesus was supposed to have been tempted in the desert for 40 days by Satan?

Have you forgotten that Jesus was supposed to have been carried to the top of a high mountain, and to the pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple, by Satan himself?

Have you forgotten that Jesus is supposed to have regularly hung around with publicans and sinners?

Have you forgotten that Jesus is supposed to have conversed with, and exorcised numerous Demons during his wanderings around Palestine?

If Jesus was God, then going by your 'Kryptonite defence', he should have melted by being around all that sin and all those sinners.

Sorry, but your argument simply doesn't wash.

In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up.

According to the Bible, Hell is simply Yahweh's celestial torture chamber, which he has constructed for the sole purpose of tormenting 'sinners' because they piss him off. All this crap about Hell merely being a state of seperation from God, is nothing more than dishonest apologetics spin.

Rev. 14:10 - "he also shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb."

Now isn't that just a pretty picture? Gentle Jesus meek and mild, the 'torturemeister'.

You're full of crap Bryan.

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[lots of words with no real meaning]

Here's the bottom line:

Given (a.k.a. obvious): a human cannot commit infinite sin in a lifetime.

Given: To be in Hell is to be punished incessantly.

Given: Hell cannot be left--going to Hell means going there for eternity.

Given: Infinite punishment for finite sin is not just.

Therefore, any god who sends someone to Hell for his/her finite sins is not just.

Furthermore, an unjust god is an imperfect god.

Thefore, believing in the Christian Hell necessitates belief in an imperfect Christian God.

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"The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished." A perfectly just wouldn't measure acts on a balance scale.

You seem to have introduced the balance scale notion, Paul.

Perfect justice is acting in the best way possible in light of all the circumstances.

That definition is vacuous pending some description of "best way possible." As is, it's a perfect match for moral behavior.

That is why two people might commit the same misdeed, and not be punished in the same way.

Because it's "perfect justice" in action? According to what measure?

What matters is not so much what they did yesterday, as what they will do tomorrow.

So, nothing in the past was wrong? The passage of time eliminates injustice?

To a perfect god, the nature and extent of any punishment is measured on a spiritual scale.

I thought you dismissed the scale idea, earlier.

The "traditional theological argument," as Bryan puts it, measures on a worldly, or mundane scale.

Naturally I'll ask you to distinguish between the one you propose and the one you attribute to me, other than via the label you stick on it.

(Isn't it amazing that I'm in a position to tell this to people who claim to be religious.)

Not really, considering your reply is vacuous through this point.

It reflects a very low level of spiritual discernment and moral/ethical development.

Shouldn't you add some content to you position prior to plying the ad hominem?

"Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence." This is fallacious. A perfect god could abide anything, including the presence of evil.

Shouldn't you go beyond contradicting the claim before declaring it fallacious?

Asserting that he is "prevented" asserts a limitation on his power, which contradicts his supposed omnipotence, thereby asserting an absurdity.

Baloney. "Omnipotence" is not the ability to do anything whatsoever, but rather the state of sovereignty with the ability to fulfill any logically consistent purpose. The Bible, for example, flatly states that it is impossible for God to lie. This is not a limitation on power, as it takes no more power to lie than it does to tell the truth. It is a limitation based on the nature of God, not from some outside being or force.

Furthermore, if one accepts the Christian narrative of the death and descent into hell, then obviously God was able to abide the presence of evil for the purpose of redeeming humanity. So Christian theology itself denies the premise.

Not if you know Christian theology, which you apparently do not. In the hypostatic union, doctrine teaches that Jesus never used the power of God except as enabled by the spirit, at least prior to the ascension.

Not that it matters. It's no more related to reality than the old theological debates about how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

If you want to argue against the justice of hell, the you are obligated to play on that field. Don't moan it about after you picked the argument (or should I be charitable and call it an ad hominem?).

However, if a perfect god wanted perfect beings, all he had to do was create them, assuming he ever existed. An all-powerful god should have no difficulty doing that, and still allow free will.

It is, in fact, logically absurd to create a being with free will (the ability to choose good or ill) where there is no possibility that the being will choose ill. That is, if you intend to actually let that being make a choice. I suppose you could create one and kill it before it had the opportunity to go wrong, but of course that would be cheating.

Since beings equally perfect as himself would never choose to sin, we would have a perfect universe, which is exactly what one would expect if an omnipotent and omniscient and loving god was in charge.

The comparison fails precisely because "free will" does not describe a being who cannot do wrong, as is said to be the case with God.

In fact, why couldn't "God" just make an entire race of Jesus-es?

He did. Jesus could have sinned. He was a man. Same with Adam. Adam could have stayed without sin--but he didn't. And mankind's record has been poor ever since.

Make them male and female if you like, an omnipotent god could do it any way he liked. Then no one would have to be jealous of anyone. What's the problem?

The problem is that Paul fails to account for free will. And fails to stay much on topic, but I guess we'll have to hash out the issue of justice before any argument can proceed.

"In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up." 1. Why? You say those things from a limited, human perspective, and even there they are morally, ethically and spiritually deficient.

So what? I'm telling you the traditional doctrines, which you have declared unjust. And am I the only one stuck with a limited, human perspective or might that condition affect you, too?

On what basis do you assert that a perfect and omnipotent god would be a bean-counter?

Is it a perfect god that doesn't know the number of beans? Show me two gods, one that knows the number of beans and another that does not, and I'm taking the bean-counter as closer to perfect.

Perfect justice requires separation based on absolute morals. I'd expect Paul to affirm the existence of absolute morals, otherwise it's not clear where his objection based on injustice would arise.

I'll wait for him to affirm or deny before attempting to continue the thread topic.

2. You're dodging the question, which is: how and why is eternal torment just?

I'm answering the question. You're objecting because you do not accept the premises, which is your privilege--but that doesn't mean I'm dodging the question. I could, after all, have left the burden of proof with you to back up your original assertion.

To explain my views a little further: the concept of eternal torment in hell (as part of a loving god's justice, no less) is among the most destructive concepts in all history.

Sounds like an outcome-based morality. Yet you don't know the ultimate outcome, so how can you judge?

It produces and/or feeds a spiritual sickness, which afflicts everyone it touches. Think about it. If you really believe this concept, think about what you are endorsing --- and when you can endorse something that evil, you can endorse anything.

I'd prefer not to concede the debate before it begins, thanks! :ninja:

Are you sure you're not employing a fallacious appeal to emotion, here?

I need just one thing from you before we proceed: Do you believe in moral absolutes (a W.D. Ross version would work, and we may be able to proceed if you subscribe to rule utilitarianism).

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Bryan wrote:

What a load of unadulterated rubbish! You must think that we’re complete idiots.

Are you suggesting that the presence of sin somehow acts like Kryptonite around the otherwise almighty Yahweh?

Kind of, except instead of God becoming powerless death resulted for those who entered his presence.

When you're prepared to begin arguing seriously, think about starting out that way. My time is not limitless and you've already got a record of bad arguments in your wake.

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The dichotomy of Heaven versus Hell seems a bit extreme if anyone short of perfection deserves ever-lasting torment.

How so? The latter of the two seems full-on in accord with the conditional, doesn't it?

It also seems to go against the central tenets of Jesus' teachings of tolerance and redemption.

I guess so, if you ignore the inconvenient bits.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

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You seem to have introduced the balance scale notion, Paul.

That definition is vacuous pending some description of "best way possible."  As is, it's a perfect match for moral behavior.

Because it's "perfect justice" in action?  According to what measure?

So, nothing in the past was wrong?  The passage of time eliminates injustice? 

I thought you dismissed the scale idea, earlier.

Naturally I'll ask you to distinguish between the one you propose and the one you attribute to me, other than via the label you stick on it.

Not really, considering your reply is vacuous through this point.

Shouldn't you add some content to you position prior to plying the ad hominem?

Shouldn't you go beyond contradicting the claim before declaring it fallacious?

Baloney.  "Omnipotence" is not the ability to do anything whatsoever, but rather the state of sovereignty with the ability to fulfill any logically consistent purpose.  The Bible, for example, flatly states that it is impossible for God to lie.  This is not a limitation on power, as it takes no more power to lie than it does to tell the truth.  It is a limitation based on the nature of God, not from some outside being or force.

Furthermore, if one accepts the Christian narrative of the death and descent into hell, then obviously God was able to abide the presence of evil for the purpose of redeeming humanity. So Christian theology itself denies the premise.

Not if you know Christian theology, which you apparently do not.  In the hypostatic union, doctrine teaches that Jesus never used the power of God except as enabled by the spirit, at least prior to the ascension.

Not that it matters. It's no more related to reality than the old theological debates about how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

If you want to argue against the justice of hell, the you are obligated to play on that field.  Don't moan it about after you picked the argument (or should I be charitable and call it an ad hominem?).

However, if a perfect god wanted perfect beings, all he had to do was create them, assuming he ever existed. An all-powerful god should have no difficulty doing that, and still allow free will.

It is, in fact, logically absurd to create a being with free will (the ability to choose good or ill) where there is no possibility that the being will choose ill.  That is, if you intend to actually let that being make a choice.  I suppose you could create one and kill it before it had the opportunity to go wrong, but of course that would be cheating.

Since beings equally perfect as himself would never choose to sin, we would have a perfect universe, which is exactly what one would expect if an omnipotent and omniscient and loving god was in charge.

The comparison fails precisely because "free will" does not describe a being who cannot do wrong, as is said to be the case with God.

In fact, why couldn't "God" just make an entire race of Jesus-es?

He did.  Jesus could have sinned.  He was a man.  Same with Adam.  Adam could have stayed without sin--but he didn't.  And mankind's record has been poor ever since.

Make them male and female if you like, an omnipotent god could do it any way he liked. Then no one would have to be jealous of anyone. What's the problem?

The problem is that Paul fails to account for free will.  And fails to stay much on topic, but I guess we'll have to hash out the issue of justice before any argument can proceed.

"In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up." 1. Why? You say those things from a limited, human perspective, and even there they are morally, ethically and spiritually deficient.

So what?  I'm telling you the traditional doctrines, which you have declared unjust.  And am I the only one stuck with a limited, human perspective or might that condition affect you, too?

On what basis do you assert that a perfect and omnipotent god would be a bean-counter?

Is it a perfect god that doesn't know the number of beans?  Show me two gods, one that knows the number of beans and another that does not, and I'm taking the bean-counter as closer to perfect.

Perfect justice requires separation based on absolute morals.  I'd expect Paul to affirm the existence of absolute morals, otherwise it's not clear where his objection based on injustice would arise.

I'll wait for him to affirm or deny before attempting to continue the thread topic.

2. You're dodging the question, which is: how and why is eternal torment just?

I'm answering the question.  You're objecting because you do not accept the premises, which is your privilege--but that doesn't mean I'm dodging the question.  I could, after all, have left the burden of proof with you to back up your original assertion.

To explain my views a little further: the concept of eternal torment in hell (as part of a loving god's justice, no less) is among the most destructive concepts in all history.

Sounds like an outcome-based morality.  Yet you don't know the ultimate outcome, so how can you judge?

It produces and/or feeds a spiritual sickness, which afflicts everyone it touches. Think about it. If you really believe this concept, think about what you are endorsing --- and when you can endorse something that evil, you can endorse anything.

I'd prefer not to concede the debate before it begins, thanks!  :angry:

Are you sure you're not employing a fallacious appeal to emotion, here?

I need just one thing from you before we proceed:  Do you believe in moral absolutes (a W.D. Ross version would work, and we may be able to proceed if you subscribe to rule utilitarianism).

I do actually spend some of my time practicing law, so I admit that I have no idea who W.D. Ross is. I'm inclined to say that I do not believe in moral absolutes as I understand that term, but since your definitions seem rather obscure on many points, perhaps you could define the term as you wish me to answer the question. I will tell you that morality is always taken in context of the environment, which includes the situation.

The difference I'm suggesting is between focusing on past conduct to respond to bad acts, versus focusing on what result the response is likely to produce. Be aware of the distinction between focus and awareness. I don't believe in bean-counter justice. I believe in justice that works to create a better world and better lives. Both actor-judges may be equally knowledgable about the number of beans; that's not the point. The difference lies in where where they place their focus and their energy. Is it on restoring some imaginary cosmic balance, or is it in doing the real work of moral, ethical and spiritual development? I choose the latter. Intentionally or not, you have endorsed the former.

Finally, re this: "He did. Jesus could have sinned. He was a man. Same with Adam. Adam could have stayed without sin--but he didn't. And mankind's record has been poor ever since." This convolutes your theology beyond any hope of redemption. Are you telling us that it was possible for Jesus to have sinned? If that is true, then why all the fuss, the three wise men, the virgin birth, etc.? What is this business about Jesus being God's only divine Son? Did all of that mean anything, i.e., make Jesus special, or not? According to your story, God knew Jesus would live a perfect life, and he did. Also according to your story, God couldn't, or didn't, make even one other human being who ever did that. Why not?

You're parsing, Bryan, as always. So why am I bothering?

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Here's the bottom line:

Given (a.k.a. obvious): a human cannot commit infinite sin in a lifetime.

Given: To be in Hell is to be punished incessantly.

Given: Hell cannot be left--going to Hell means going there for eternity.

Given: Infinite punishment for finite sin is not just.

Therefore, any god who sends someone to Hell for his/her finite sins is not just.

Furthermore, an unjust god is an imperfect god.

Thefore, believing in the Christian Hell necessitates belief in an imperfect Christian God.

Strife, you need to learn a bit more about logic.

Where you state "given," it appears that you mean to state a premise of your argument. If that's the case, then your fourth premise begs the question (fallaciously).

Finite perfection is infinitely short of infinite perfection.

Moreover, the "infinite" punishment you're talking about is infinite duration. By that measure, a slap on the wrist that takes an eternity is too severe. Isn't that absurd?

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Guest Dingo Dave
Kind of, except instead of God becoming powerless death resulted for those who entered his presence.

When you're prepared to begin arguing seriously, think about starting out that way. My time is not limitless and you've already got a record of bad arguments in your wake.

Are you suggesting that Yahweh unwittingly radiates some kind of lethal cosmic rays or something? If that's the case, then it sounds to me like he needs to be kept in a lead box, that way everyone would stay happy and healthy.

I guess we'll have to switch comic books from 'Superman' to 'Radioactive Man'. :rolleyes:

If it's all the same to you, I think I preferred the 'Kryptonite theory'. (Far less messy and vindictive.)

By the way, how the heck is anyone supposed to take this argument seriously?

Are you seriously trying to defend this psycho-killer god of yours by arguing that he intentionally incinerates anybody who gets too close to him? Or does he just give them a hefty dose of radiation sickness instead? :huh:

Perhaps he has a fear of intimacy. If so, then a course of therapy might help him to curb some of his homicidal tendencies.

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Strife, you need to learn a bit more about logic.

Where you state "given," it appears that you mean to state a premise of your argument.  If that's the case, then your fourth premise begs the question (fallaciously).

Finite perfection is infinitely short of infinite perfection.

Moreover, the "infinite" punishment you're talking about is infinite duration.  By that measure, a slap on the wrist that takes an eternity is too severe.  Isn't that absurd?

What's absurd is you trying to redefine how Christians define Hell, or at least, make assumptions that apparently have to do with _me_ misdefining it...all I hear people describe it is as to feel on fire constantly, to be tortured constantly, etc. I think you know damned well what I mean by "infinite punishment," but you want to distract with stupid semantics yet again. I'm not falling for it.

Being burned/tortured etc. for eternity is NEVER just, because sinning for eternity is NEVER possible. Therfore believing in the Christian Hell is to believe in an unjust god. The end.

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I do actually spend some of my time practicing law, so I admit that I have no idea who W.D. Ross is.

Ross is where moral absolutes and situational ethics meet, without moral relativism.

I'm inclined to say that I do not believe in moral absolutes as I understand that term, but since your definitions seem rather obscure on many points, perhaps you could define the term as you wish me to answer the question.
I will tell you that morality is always taken in context of the environment, which includes the situation.

That could be the position of a moral relativist or that of an absolutist in the tradition of Ross.

Your position is like Jell-O, as you describe it.

The difference I'm suggesting is between focusing on past conduct to respond to bad acts, versus focusing on what result the response is likely to produce.

That is an outcome-based morality, as I already mentioned. It is one of the ethical viewpoints that allows the ends to justify the means.

Be aware of the distinction between focus and awareness. I don't believe in bean-counter justice.

He murdered his wife, but the ultimate outcome was good, so no problem?

I believe in justice that works to create a better world and better lives.

Do you think that Hitler believed he was making the world worse?

Whose version of better or worse do you go by?

Both actor-judges may be equally knowledgable about the number of beans; that's not the point. The difference lies in where where they place their focus and their energy. Is it on restoring some imaginary cosmic balance, or is it in doing the real work of moral, ethical and spiritual development? I choose the latter.
Intentionally or not, you have endorsed the former.

Why is the former "imaginary" but not the latter? Is it the fallacy of appeal to ridicule or have you left an epistemological argument uspoken/unwritten?

Finally, re this: "He did. Jesus could have sinned. He was a man. Same with Adam. Adam could have stayed without sin--but he didn't. And mankind's record has been poor ever since."

Actually, I should not have said that Jesus could have sinned; the correct doctrine is that Jesus could have fallen short in making his decisions in terms of his human nature. His god-nature would have kept him ultimately from sin, but at the cost of part of his mission.

This convolutes your theology beyond any hope of redemption.

No, it doesn't. But you get a handful of brownie points for impressive hyperbole.

Are you telling us that it was possible for Jesus to have sinned?

Let's say that I was, for the sake of your argument.

If that is true, then why all the fuss, the three wise men, the virgin birth, etc.? What is this business about Jesus being God's only divine Son? Did all of that mean anything, i.e., make Jesus special, or not?

The wise men were there because of Jesus' heritage (in the line of David).

The virgin birth, theologically, puts Jesus in the same position as Adam, as regards sin nature.

What part of "God's only divine Son is supposed to be incompatible with the possibility of sin? If you answer that it is surprising that God could sin, then I will grant that point. Other than that, you'll have to explain.

According to your story, God knew Jesus would live a perfect life, and he did.

Correct. That's not a problem unless you commit a logical fallacy (and then the problem is yours, not mine).

Also according to your story, God couldn't, or didn't, make even one other human being who ever did that. Why not?

I've already answered a portion of this question. Adam did not have to sin. He (and Eve) were capable of remaining sinless. They clearly had the ability to not eat of the forbidden tree, just as you need not ever partake of fried chicken.

Free will explains why not.

You're parsing, Bryan, as always.

You say that like it's a bad thing. ^_^

If we don't use words the same way, we will not communicate.

So why am I bothering?

Why would you bother if I didn't make an effort to ensure that we are communicating clearly with one another?

I can think of one reason.

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In an earlier thread, Paul LaClair began to drift from the topic (the nature of Pazkiewicz's treatment of the philosophical problem of evil from a Christian perspective) to the topic of the problem of evil itself.

I promised to start a new thread for purposes of that discussion, so here it is.

Paul started with a question ("How is eternally tormenting someone 'just?'") and though that strikes me as the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof right out of the blocks, I'll assume that this venue predominantly regards eternal punishment as unjust, and I will provide the initial argument.

The traditional theological argument holds that a being who is perfectly just cannot (by the nature of justice) permit bad actions to go unpunished.  Moreover, the holiness of God prevents him from allowing imperfection in his presence.

In short, any sin merits punishment and bars the sinner from the presence of God. Hell is the location distinct from the presence of God, where imperfect and eternal creatures end up.

One argument posed in a different thread (and commonly mentioned at various skeptical sites, I might add) is that "finite" sin does not merit "eternal" punishment.  But the real issue is perfection.  How much punishment does it take to make somebody perfect?

Is the imperfection produced by sin "finite" with respect to the passage of time?  How much time must elapse for the past to no longer count?

It seems that perfect justice cannot endure imperfection.

Is it not up to the one claiming otherwise to make the case?

Five questions:

1. Many people believe in a god who can supposedly do anything. Annihilation would be vastly better than eternal torment, and would be within the power of an omnipotent god. (Leave aside the question why the children of a perfect god would ever turn against or disobey him. Did he create them in his image or not?) Assuming the existence of an omnipotent god, what kind of sick mind calls eternal torment "justice"?

2. Why is the sickness not obvious to everyone?

3. What effects does holding this sick belief have over a lifetime?

4. What connection does this sickness have to the sickness in our societies and our world?

5. Is it possible that fundamentalist Christians who believe literally that Satan disguises himself very cleverly are on the front lines doing Satan's work by spreading this sickness?

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Five questions:

1. Many people believe in a god who can supposedly do anything. Annihilation would be vastly better than eternal torment, and would be within the power of an omnipotent god. (Leave aside the question why the children of a perfect god would ever turn against or disobey him. Did he create them in his image or not?) Assuming the existence of an omnipotent god, what kind of sick mind calls eternal torment "justice"?

2. Why is the sickness not obvious to everyone?

3. What effects does holding this sick belief have over a lifetime?

4. What connection does this sickness have to the sickness in our societies and our world?

5. Is it possible that fundamentalist Christians who believe literally that Satan disguises himself very cleverly are on the front lines doing Satan's work by spreading this sickness?

Yes, why would God create imperfect beings and then punish them for thier imperfections? Is that just? It's like if I buy an ant farm, open the lid and then crush the ants that crawl out. It's a perfectly predicable behavior yet I will punish them none the less. Makes sense to me.

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Yes, why would God create imperfect beings and then punish them for thier imperfections? Is that just? It's like if I buy an ant farm, open the lid and then crush the ants that crawl out. It's a perfectly predicable behavior yet I will punish them none the less. Makes sense to me.

This is a brain on drugs.

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Five questions:

1. Many people believe in a god who can supposedly do anything. Annihilation would be vastly better than eternal torment, and would be within the power of an omnipotent god.

Would annihilation be just? On what basis?

(Leave aside the question why the children of a perfect god would ever turn against or disobey him. Did he create them in his image or not?)

This question doesn't count, eh? :lol:

What do you think "the image of god" is?

Assuming the existence of an omnipotent god, what kind of sick mind calls eternal torment "justice"?

Fallacy of the complex question. And on the first try (first try you counted, anyway, AFAICT)!

As for the question minus the fallacious inclusion of a controversial premise, I answered that with the first post in the thread.

2. Why is the sickness not obvious to everyone?

There's not really that much difference between this fallacy of the complex question and your previous fallacy of the complex question, is there?

3. What effects does holding this sick belief have over a lifetime?

It would have been more accurate for you to announce "Five fallaciously complex questions" instead of "Five questions."

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5. Is it possible that fundamentalist Christians who believe literally that Satan disguises himself very cleverly are on the front lines doing Satan's work by spreading this sickness?

Not only possible, but entirely plausible.

Christians themselves are the anti-Christ.

May God save us from the Christians.

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Guest Dingo Dave

Guest wrote:

(Leave aside the question why the children of a perfect god would ever turn against or disobey him. Did he create them in his image or not?)

Bryan responded with:

This question doesn't count, eh?

What do you think "the image of god" is?

The phrase, 'in the image of God', does not mean what most modern folks understand it to mean.

If the Bible were to be translated accurately and honestly, the passage in Genesis from which this phrase is often quoted should read:

"Then the gods said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.'

So the gods created man in their own image, in the image of the gods he created him; male and female he created them."

The word 'God' as it appears in all our English translations of the Bible, is actually a dishonest translation of the Hebrew word Elohim, which means gods, not god.

A likeness is a physical representation of something. This particular Bible author obviously believed that the gods were physical, albeit magical, men and women who lived up in the sky. In the imagination of the author of Genesis, the gods made humans in their own image and likeness. Humans were created both male and female, just like the gods and goddesses who lived up in the heavenly realms.

For some reason, when Christians quote this passage from Genesis, they tend to leave the bit out about being made in the likeness of the gods. I wonder why they do that. Is it perhaps because it sounds so primitive and naive to us who live in the modern world?

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Guest Patriot
Not only possible, but entirely plausible.

Christians themselves are the anti-Christ.

May God save us from the Christians.

Any kids on KOTW today, read this post carefully. This is what drugs do to your brain. This poor fool is little more than a babbling idiot.

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Any kids on KOTW today, read this post carefully.  This is what drugs do to your brain. This poor fool is little more than a babbling idiot.

Not to say that I agree with his comments, but seriously Patriot, does the phrase "Pot calling the kettle black" mean anything to you? I have yet to see you make a porductive post that furthers a discussion rather than setting it back on its heels.

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The phrase, 'in the image of God', does not mean what most modern folks understand it to mean.

Moreover, it probably doesn't mean what Dingo Dave supposes it to mean.

If the Bible were to be translated accurately and honestly, the passage in Genesis from which this phrase is often quoted should read:

"Then the gods said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.'

So the gods created man in their own image, in the image of the gods he created him; male and female he created them."

Yes, "elohim" is plural; other than that you should talk to a person who is learned in the Hebrew language, since the Hebrews themselves did/do not treat the passage as you say they should.

You can always suppose a developing theology, but that simply puts you in the position of engaging in the type of guesswork you despise from apologists.

A likeness is a physical representation of something.

Is it? Are you referring to the English term "likeness" or to the Hebrew term, "demuwth"?

This particular Bible author obviously believed that the gods were physical, albeit magical, men and women who lived up in the sky. In the imagination of the author of Genesis, the gods made humans in their own image and likeness. Humans were created both male and female, just like the gods and goddesses who lived up in the heavenly realms.

Doesn't that make it redundant for the text to mention that man was made male and female (would ancients waste tablet space or precious papyrus on repetitious detail)? And why no mention of female gods in the would-be Hebrew pantheon?

For some reason, when Christians quote this passage from Genesis, they tend to leave the bit out about being made in the likeness of the gods.

They do?

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=...god&btnG=Search

Anyway, your account is probably wrong, Dingo Dave, though the issue is a disputed one. As mentioned above, you need to appeal to an explanatory framework of theological development to support our view. That's not any better than looking for an understanding of plurality that seems strange to moderns, such as the notion of a gigantic grape--singular--brought to the Israelite nomads as evidence of bounty of the promised land (It was more likely a "bunch" of grapes, with the particulars of the language usage surprising those with a contemporary bias).

In any case the language used of God tends not to emphasize corporeality, and in fact god is referred to as being "invisible" and composed of "spirit" (or breath) rather than a "physical" form as you suggest above.

Plus I wasn't asking you in the first place. :)

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Guest Paul
Would annihilation be just?  On what basis?

This question doesn't count, eh?  :)

What do you think "the image of god" is?

Fallacy of the complex question.  And on the first try (first try you counted, anyway, AFAICT)!

As for the question minus the fallacious inclusion of a controversial premise, I answered that with the first post in the thread.

There's not really that much difference between this fallacy of the complex question and your previous fallacy of the complex question, is there?

It would have been more accurate for you to announce "Five fallaciously complex questions" instead of "Five questions."

In other words, Bryan can't answer the question, this time not even with his convoluted distortions of logic and language.

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