• frank
    10.9k


    So you agree it's not to any concrete end. We don't need to bring John Locke into it. :up:
  • Banno
    16.9k
    We don't need to bring John Locke into it.frank

    That'd be up to you. Go ahead, if you think it might be interesting.
  • frank
    10.9k


    I think you already agreed that it's unnecessary. There's nothing you can do about religion, whatever you may think of it's adherents.
  • Primperan
    65
    Nothing you have said impacts on Lewis' critique. Those Christians who chose to worship a god they believe will damn fol for eternity remain morally reprehensible.Banno

    But the criticism you make is unfair. Whoever erects an altar does so with the intention of burning at the stake the one who does not bow down to his god. That is not the exclusive heritage of Christianity. Read the article "Genealogy of Fanaticism" within Cioran's Short History of Decay book. It seems to me that you describe the behavior of the Gestapo, the Church of Scientology and the fans of Detroit Pistons.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Those who do not believe in god, when they die, will be cast into eternal torment.Banno
    It may seem unduly contentious to return to the first line of the OP, But it creates the entry wound of many, many pieces on g/God, including your references. Not, then, a fault uniquely yours, but a considerable fault nevertheless. Very simply, no definition of terms. What g/God? Is it? What is it? What kind is it? What are its special features? And no appeal to vox populi because no consensus there.

    How can there be a sensible discussion if the discussion is not about any determinate thing not in any way determined?
  • baker
    4.5k
    A brilliant case of whataboutism you make there.
  • baker
    4.5k
    I think you have a perverse notion of happiness. Anyone who equates socioeconomic status with happiness is a slave to conditions; and that cannot be what happiness consists in.Janus

    Take this up with Maslow and his followers.
  • baker
    4.5k
    Simply that you appear to hold that what a Christian is, is what people who call themselves Christians say it is, period.tim wood

    Not quite so, I said they should fight it out amongst themselves. This way, only one definition of "Christian" would be left.

    And I disagree. What a Christian is, is more-or-less well-defined; and by those established understandings anyone may judge, and sometimes ought to judge, whether such claims are legitimate. By more-or-less I mean well-defined at the core, though allowing for some wiggle-room at the edges.

    Dictionary definitions of "Christian" (and yes, there are many such definitions) are so general that they don't help when trying to determine whether Joe Smith is a Christian or not.

    And what is of some interest is that your approach does not merely deny knowledge, which of course implies knowledge, but denies the possibility of knowledge.

    So you know God, first hand?

    In failing to affirm that being a Christian just might have something to do with a Christ,

    Really, I "failed to admit" that?

    and by supposing the issue joined on who or what he is - or was: his existence/being in question, you adroitly side-step the question and significance of the belief that is the creed of Christians, "We beleve."

    Then educate me: What is the significance of this creed?

    Although from what I've seen, Christians don't merely believe, no, they know, they are sure. So sure they are willing to kill in the name of that surety.

    And in presenting yourself in this way you most resemble a man in a dark corner muttering to himself and fighting with shadows, no one to pay any attention to. And while in Homeric terms this not exactly heroic, it is certainly Odyssian.

    Well, at least you compare me to a man.
  • baker
    4.5k
    But the criticism you make is unfair. Whoever erects an altar does so with the intention of burning at the stake the one who does not bow down to his god. That is not the exclusive heritage of Christianity.Primperan

    Indeed. Threats of damnation are common, so common.
  • baker
    4.5k
    So you agree it's not to any concrete end.frank

    We still somehow have to live in this world with the religious/spiritual.
    This is why such themes as brought up in the OP matter.
    We can't just crawl into a dark corner and die, even though this is probably what the religious/spiritual expect us to do.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Try for coherence, please. If you cannot at least clamber up to that level, then discussion is a waste.
  • baker
    4.5k
    Typical Christian: Always present yourself as better than others.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    And the answer is the same:
    How can there be a sensible discussion if the discussion is not about any determinate thing not in any way determined?tim wood

    The topic of conversation is the definition of god. Specifically, that a god who instigates hell is not worthy of worship.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    But the criticism you make is unfair. Whoever erects an altar does so with the intention of burning at the stake the one who does not bow down to his god.Primperan

    As noted above, it's apparently a characteristic of monotheism. But yes, the criticism applies to islam, and to any religion that worships a god who is so unjust. Both Lewis and I have said as much.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    So what is one to make of the moral character of folk who hold someone who tortures folk unjustly in the highest esteem?Banno

    The difficulty with this thread is that it veered sharply into what Christianity is, or is not, about rather than sitting with your question. I am not sure, however, that you (or Lewis) is actually interested in the answer, but the thrust of what is taken for granted. Maybe Lewis is the better source:


    . . . From now on, let us suppose, for simplicity's sake, that these Christians accept a God who perpetrates divine evil, one who inflicts in finite torment on those who do not accept him. Appearances notwithstanding, are those who worship the perpetrator of divine evil themselves evil? . . .

    They think that, if [someone satisfies god's damnation criteria] happens, the perpetrator will be right to start the eternal torture. They endorse the divine evil. And that's bad enough. . . .

    In admiring [some otherwise admirable Christian], we too admire evil. . . .

    If admiration transmits evil, then so do chains of admirers of arbitrary length.. ..

    Chains of contagion can be broken because admirers are often not fully informed about the attitudes of those they admire, because admiration can be a selective matter, a response to a particular qualities. This is probably how things work in actuality. We are not all tainted with evil . . .

    I suspect that the vast majority [of Christians] are more orthodox. They genuinely think that their God will commit those who do not accept him to eternal torment. . . Of course , they do not see this as divine evil. Instead they talk of divine justice and the fitting damnation of sinners. . . .

    But can we [otherwise] admirer them, despite their preparedness to worship the perpetrator?

    The balance seems to tilt in the negative direction.For, as the original neglected argument makes clear, the evil that God causes is infinitely greater than the entire sum of mundane suffering and sin. . ..
    — Lewis at 238

    The deck is stacked and the conclusion certain: Orthodox Christians are evil.

    But is anything that Lewis went on about even close to right? We can start with two simple questions:

    1) What is it to worship God?
    2) What does it mean about a person that they can correctly identify cause and effect? e.g. "If you don't believe in God you'll go to hell because God sets the rules."


    It is worth noting that Lewis does a good job of getting wrong the "distinctive ideas of Christianity." Although he hand waves in the direction of Universalism and then stumbles all over himself to lay out why reward and punishment theology is the way things are ("I find the option of limited punishment mysterious."), Christianity may not be what he supposed,


    Is universalism really a Christian option? Can Christians afford to deny divine evil? Christianity, properly-so-called, requires a redemption. At its heart is the claim that Jesus was born to save us from something. The condition from which we have been redeemed must be truly horrible. What can be horrible enough except for eternal torment?
    — Lewis at 236 to 241

    Lewis was no Scotsman.

    Just because...


    As we move into the middle of the 2nd Century, a shift takes place from writing works considered “Holy Scripture” to interpretations of it. The first writer on the theology on Christian Universalism whose works survive is St. Clement of Alexandria (150 – 215 CE). He was the head of the theology school at Alexandria which, until it closed at the end of the 4th Century, was a bastion of Universalist thought. His pupil, Origen (185 – 254 CE), wrote the first complete presentation of Christianity as a system, and Universalism was at its core. Origen was the first to produce a parallel Old Testament that included Hebrew, a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, the Septuagint, and three other Greek translations. He was also the first to recognize that some parts of the Bible should be taken literally and others metaphorically. He wrote a defense of Christianity in response to a pagan writer’s denigration of it.

    Prior to the Roman Catholic Church’s condemnation of all of Universalist thought in the 6th Century, Church authority had already reached back in time to pick out several of Origen’s ideas they deemed unacceptable. Some that found disfavor were his insistence that the Devil would be saved at the end of time, the pre-existence of human souls, the reincarnation of the wicked, and his claim that the purification of souls could go on for many eons. Finally, he was condemned by the Church because his concept of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not agree with the “official” Doctrine of the Trinity formulated a century after his death! After the 6th Century, much of his work was destroyed; fortunately, some of it survived. . . .

    According to Edward Beecher, a Congregationalist theologian, there were six theology schools in Christendom during its early years — four were Universalist (Alexandria, Cesarea, Antioch, and Edessa). One advocated annihilation (Ephesus) and one advocated Eternal Hell (the Latin Church of North Africa). Most of the Universalists throughout Christendom followed the teachings of Origen. Later, Theodora of Mopsuestia had a different theological basis for Universal Salvation, and his view continued in the break-away Church of the East (Nestorian) where his Universalist ideas still exist in its liturgy today.
    — Christian Universalist Association

    So maybe Lewis really has a problem with Catholics (and those heavily influenced by its historic theology). Just a thought.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    maybe Lewis really has a problem with CatholicsEnnui Elucidator

    You are right the the thread has diverged markedly from the article, and when time permits I intend to head back to the argument in the final section.

    It was predictable that folk would attempt to blunt the force of the criticism by claims that it applies to those christians, but not to us. Doubtless one can formulate forms of christianity that are in some way immune to Lewis' critique, and in that regard Lewis has done a service to theology. But that such less perverse versions exist does not excuse the likes of Israel Folau.
  • Primperan
    65
    As noted above, it's apparently a characteristic of monotheism. But yes, the criticism applies to islam, and to any religion that worships a god who is so unjust. Both Lewis and I have said as much.Banno

    What you want is to negatively characterize Christianity and religions. That is why you take the part for the whole. But politics and sports produce the same kind of reactions. The man from the United States hates the man from Mexico. The Confederates hated the Yankees. Gangs in one neighborhood hate gangs in another. Neighbors of one block hate those of another. The one from the 102 family hates the 103 family. It's not very good to walk around Miami with the Los Angeles Lakers jersey ... Religion is not bad in itself. There are aggressive people who make it a bad thing, but the same thing happens with politics or sports.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    . . .does not excuse the likes of Israel Folau.Banno

    Sure. Though I imagine that folks on a philosophy forum can be more nuanced in their critiques of theology to other folks on a philosophy forum without excusing him or those like him. Rhetoric is employed by the weak and the powerful using the metaphors, narratives, etc. that they believe will achieve their ends (be they convincing people to turn from their ways, scoring points with your in group, or being an asshole). There is a saying in another context - bad facts make for bad laws. If we simply reject anything associated with bad people, we may end up losing much of what good people enjoy.
  • Banno
    16.9k


    This discussion is tedious. Yes, there may be folk who call themselves christian who do not hold that god torments souls for eternity. But there are folk who do so hold, and the criticism in the Lewis article applies to them.

    "It's not me, it's those nasty Catholics, or those Southern Baptists..."

    That you are both so keen to avoid the criticism speaks to it's truth.
  • frank
    10.9k
    We still somehow have to live in this world with the religious/spiritual.
    This is why such themes as brought up in the OP matter.
    We can't just crawl into a dark corner and die, even though this is probably what the religious/spiritual expect us to do.
    baker

    Absolutely. I agree. I went through a phase of trying to understand it. What I can't do is just condemn 1/4 of the species (or whatever it is) and leave it there. That's a dangerous mindset.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455


    You need to re-read Lewis's article. His critique applies to those Christians (on his definition) that agree with "God" in eternally damning people. That is why I wasted the time to quote his argument. First you have to find someone that matches his criteria and then argue with that sort of a person. Despite Lewis's assumption that such people constitute the majority of Orthodox thinkers, you might find that after some exploration there are markedly fewer than he supposes. Not because I don't think the majority of Christian's hold some view of eternal damnation, but because I don't think that the majority of Christians worship god for that reason or agree that if they were god, they would make the same choice.

    Accepting that a person will be executed for speaking ill of the king, telling your child, "If you speak ill of the king, you will be executed", saying to your child after they have spoken ill of the king that they will be executed if they get caught, crying after your child has been caught, and staying passively by the execution knowing that if you question the authority your head will be on the block next does not strike me as the sort of mental/behavioral disposition that would make me question the parent's judgment or moral sensibility.

    All I ask you to do is take his argument seriously and discuss it. If you want to just say that there are bad Christians, we agree. But you don't need Lewis or his argument to make that point.

    And I agree in advance (as I have said to many a person), reward and punishment theology is perverse and people that advocate for some sort of "divine desert" are demented. The "baddest bad ass around god" is not a god that is compelling from an aesthetic perspective, but it may be compelling enough from a perspective of getting what you want.

    So either the question asked is, "Can we trust the judgment of a Christian with regards to ethics given that the Christian is a Christian?" or it is something else. If we are analyzing what it is to be a Christian for this purpose, it is absolutely on point to say that AS A CATEGORY you cannot lump all Christians together, but must dig further into both the TYPE of Christian that they are and what they PERSONALLY believe. This isn't that tough of a point to understand.

    I have all sorts of reason to critique Christianity on theological grounds and reject it - but the willful failure to engage with various types of Christianity is not one of them. Intellectual charity to the other's position leads to a better understanding of why they are wrong - in whole or part.

    And just to remind you:


    . . . The interesting variation here is that the argument asks us not to consider the morality of such an evil god, but of those who consider him worthy of praise or worship.
    — Banno

    I am considering those who consider him worthy of praise or worship, not simply defining a strawman class. I am merely asking you to do the same.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    You protest too much, Methinks.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    You protest too much, Methinks.Banno

    I agree entirely too little.

    My interest here is as to the extent to which Christians (and Muslims) ought be allowed at the table when ethical issues are discussed. Given their avowed admiration for evil, ought we trust their ethical judgement?Banno

    You said what you wanted to talk about. I tried to talk about it. You claim that I am talking about something else. Before we exclude someone (especially the sorts of someones that might have otherwise had a place at the table for the discussion of ethical issues) based upon their belief in something, I'd like to at least know what belief it is that they have. Why don't you want to know?
  • Banno
    16.9k
    I was somewhat disappointed that no one replied to this:

    Lewis invites us to consider two possible worlds. In the first, actions are somehow physically determined. In the second, actions are freely chosen. Yet in both possible worlds, the exact same events occur. Then he asks: "Why should we think of the second world as a great advance on the first?"Banno

    Does no one wish to defend incompatiblist freedom?
  • Banno
    16.9k
    I want to talk about the ethics of those who would worship a torturer. You pretend there are not very many folk who worship tortures. Your point is irrelevant.
  • Janus
    12.2k
    Take this up with Maslow and his followers.baker

    Maslow.'s criterion of happiness is "self-actualization" "being all you can be". It's akin to Aristotle's eudamonia and arete; not dependent on having a lot of money, material possessions or what others think of you.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    The last section of the article is titled "Can we admire the believers?"

    The Fritz analogy shows that the worship of the perpetrator of an injustice implies the condoning of that injustice.

    Lewis argues that the perpetrator's evil extends to those who worship him, that those who admire evil are tainted by it. Again I refer you to the article for the full version of this argument.

    To be sure, following 's point, we might excuse those who fein admiration in order to avoid becoming victims themselves, although presumably god will be aware of their attempted subterfuge and treat them accordingly.

    Lewis sets up "chains of contagion", pointing out that those who admire those who admire the perpetrator share in the taint of evil: "The more we are prepared to be tolerant of religious matters, the more we will be prepared to overlook the details of other's theological views... and the contagion will spread."

    Lewis himself thinks the conclusion absurd, and seeks to avoid it by seeing admiration as selective. We might admire Mother Teressa for her charity but not her theology.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    455
    I want to talk about the ethics of those who would worship a torturer. You pretend there are not very many folk who worship tortures. Your point is irrelevant.Banno

    It always strikes me as odd what you think I am pretending. I think virtually everyone that worships worships a torturer. But then we have to come to terms about what worship is. Which is what I asked you and you said you will get to when you have time. While you are there, you might get to thinking about reverence and veneration. While there take a pause and consider how admiration contrasts with those things and whether Lewis is playing a bit fast and lose with language when he shifts from "worshiper of the bad god" to "admirer of the bad god" or "admirer of the worshiper".

    Getting to the point, worship does not suggest approval, but a display of subservience to something higher on the power chain. Sure, that display can be ritualized, but it doesn't change what it is - that which you do try to avoid suffering. Yes, it would be nice if people worshiped god because god was the A numero uno head honcho, but that isn't how it is. Worship is typically justified as a debt (for being created or permitted something desirable) or acknowledgement of power. If you like, find some examples of people (or Christians as a group/whole) saying why they think god (as Jesus or otherwise) is to be worshiped.

    So I concede that worshiping the god that would damn people to hell for eternity would be worshiping a torturer. I am asking whether such worship indicates approval of the torture specifically or the god generally. The difference between god as Jesus (or at least the specific god that is to have acted in history and be in charge of our souls) and god as the omni-god is immense. Trying to reconcile the two may be where you are running into problems.
  • Banno
    16.9k
    Trying to reconcile the two may be where you are running into problems.Ennui Elucidator

    Both would appear to be nonsense. I see no need to reconcile them, and will leave that to the subservient - er, faithful. It's not my problem.
  • frank
    10.9k
    Does no one wish to defend incompatiblist freedom?Banno

    Apparently people make choices. The argument against it is purely logical with no empirical support.

    Purely logical arguments are nice, but they're frequently knocked down by observed facts on the ground.

    So I have no good reason to doubt my first hand experience with decision making.
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