Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Discussing Soteriological Darama With My Friend Hermit

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My soteriological dara theory is about why God allows pain and suffering and evil. Please read the whole theory here, as this will enable understanding of this discussion. My friend and constant sparing partner Hermit brings up some issues that I think should be explained or dealt with in some way. It's an interesting discussion. Just to get started, let me post the basic assumptions I make in presenting the theory:


(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.


The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impitus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.


(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complaisance that would be the result of intimidation.

That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truly beileve in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.

(3)the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.

The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized


the argument looks like this:

(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.

(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).

(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices

(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.


This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.

This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama:


(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultiamte goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.

(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us

(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.

(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.


In other words, we are part of a great drama and our actions and our dilemmas and our choices are all part of the way we respond to the situation as characters in a drama.

This theory also explains why God doesn't often regenerate limbs in healing the sick. That would be a dead giveaway. God creates criteria under which healing takes place, that criteria can't negate the overall plan of a search.



The most important point that drives the whole theory is the idea of internalizing the values of the good. It this that makes it necessary to live life as a long search and that is why God allows free choices even though they often mean evil choices. Internalizing requires a search.

This brings us to Hermit's first point:







He's quoting me first

"(1) Meta:
It doesn't do us any good to be spoon fed ideas. We have to learn for ourselves the meaning of the good or it wont mean anything to us, our hearts wont be in it.

Hermit:

"There's a big difference between "spoon feeding" and teaching...(trust me, I'm married to a teacher...I hear about it all the time...). But teaching doesn't involve hiding evidence, concealing knowledge or making it more difficult than not to find the answers...an honest search for the truth should reveal that truth if it's really there, and any teacher will help that search, but not by hiding in the shadows and allowing injuries to occur.

I didn't say anything about hiding evdience. I said the evidence s clear and easy to find, but you to search. It's not that its hidden, God's presence is hidden to some exent, but it can be found. The evidence is there but you have to want to see it. That makes all the difference: skepticism thrives on wanting to doubt.

Moerover, one does not have to teach what is obvious. If an answer is obvious it need not be taught. to teach is to assume something needs to be expalined and that means its something we can't understand without help.




"(2) Meta:
suffering is not an teaching agency, just suffering in and of itself doesn't teach much. it's the necessity of the kind of world in which one must search out the answers because they are not obvious that makes suffering necessary as a consequence."


Hermit:
I completely disagree; the only necessary consequence of not searching for answers is continued ignorance. Pain, suffering, fear and anguish are not necessary.
That's really twisting the premise of what I said. First of all to assume that something needs to be taught means its not obvious and you can't see it without explaination. So all the knowledge you accept as such is "hidden" in the sense in which you use that word here. Secondly, I said suffering in and of itself does not teach much. Do you disagree? You beileve that suffering does teach much? then you shouldn't mind it. Case closed. No problem of pain.


read this here:

Now you want to assert that suffering isn't necessary, what do you have to replace it? It is necessary to the extent that God must allow free will if wants moral universe, because moral choices require freedom or the yare not moral. Thus the moral unvierse must be a free will universe. That means have to be free to actualy make the wrong choice, when that happens suffering happens. Thus suffering is necessary to a moral univerese.



Hermit:

What you are proposing is akin to leaving a small child alone in a room full of sharp knives and pots of boiling liquids so they will learn, from the "necessary consequences" of their cuts and burns that sharp knives and boiling water are dangerous. The child will certainly internalize that lesson, but there are better ways to teach it.
Are you a child Hermit? You are not a man? you can't make decisions? This is why God gives us a moral sesne, and a moral law on the heart. This is why we have society and society has rules. But your strange desire to put life out on the streets on the same par has a child's nursery and to assme if like is not totally peachy then there can't be a loving God and to totally resist any and all possible answers is nothing short of impossing a double standard. You want to be free to question, you want to be to disbelieve, but then you don't want that free when using it wrongly means consqeunces.

You are just cheating the issues by insertion of a false premise. The premise that there can no pain of any kind whatsoever or else God is either no good or not there, why should we accept that premise? It is a logical option that God has his reasons, why is it not logical to assume that?

What calculus do you use to decide what is fair and what is not? How can you, a mere mortal pretend to tally the balance sheet and decide that creation isn't worth it, when you can't even understand the issues at steak (nor can any of us)?You do not have an infinite knowledge of all things. So how can you possilbly tally everything up? I mean you do not even know if other worlds exist. How you determine that it's not worth it to create and allow the pain and suffering on the assumption that it will all be redeemed?



"(3) Meta:
if everytime anyone did anything hurtful god worked a miracle to stop it no one would ever have to search for the truth and would never internalize the good.


Hermit:
"I think it's insulting and demeaning to humanity to presume that we are incapable of learning to be good without the possibility of apparently gratuitous pain and suffering.
That is a contrdiction to point one. In point one I said suffereing in and of itself does not teach much. But you disagreed with that. Now you take my theory to mean that we need suffering to learn to the good. But you are not taking into account why that is. You speak as though you think, that I think that is' the suffering itself that teaches. I denied that explicitly. What is necessary to do the teaching is the search, not the suffering. The suffering is a side effect that just comes with the territory. Moreover, you define it as "gratuitous" and I never defined it as such. It's a side effect of free choices, but it is not gtratuitous (for its own sake) it's the necessary result of being free in a real world.

Does that meant that I trivialize pain. No. Of coure not. We are still obligated as a part of our duty to humanity to aid in the cesation of suffering as much as we can.


Hermit:
What moral improvement do we get from the rape and murder of a child, for example?
Again, that question assumes that the suffering itself is the teacher. I already said it's not. Its' a consquence of having freedom to make wrong choices. Wrong choices need not hurt people, assuming we can make the right wrong choices. But the freedom to make them is essential.

Hermit:

Most of us instinctively recoil with horror at such cruelty, we don't need to have it actually happen to understand that it's a bad thing..
That's why society has laws. But you keep assuming that I've the suffereing itself is the teacher. How many times must I remind you? The suffernig is the necessary consquence of freedom. If all people would chose not to hurt others we could have a perfect world. But they are not going to choose that, and if they don't have the freedom to choose then they are not capable of learning to make moral choices.


Hermit:

.
in fact I would intervene to prevent such a thing from happening if I could, even at the risk of my own life. Why would a genuinely loving God do less?


Because the freedom to choose is intrinsic to love. Don't you know you can't force someone to love? It's not love if it's just some automatic instinct, or if its forced. God wants us to love in the heart. He wants us to seek him and discover the values of the good and make choices out of love, and all of that requires that we have the freedom to choose. Thus, having the freedom to choose, we must be allowed to choose wrongly or we don't really have it.

If your world view is right why is humanity not a paradise? why have not all people chose rightly? You say we can love without God, we don't morality in terms of rules, (IF I understood you correctly) we don't belief in God. All we have to do is love. We can all just act in love and everything is fine. They don't we?

I says it's because we have sin nature. We have to do this search thing to find the answer to that, or in my off seminarian MacFarland* speak: we have to discover a way to mediate ultimate transformative experince in answer to the human problematic. We have free will, but we don't understand how to apply to until we come to acquire the values of the good. Then we can choose the good, and that means choosing others over self. We can do that when we are bogged down in sin nature. We must be freed from sin nature by God's power of transformation (supernature). All of this requires free will because if we are not free we can't love or make moral choices.

We both believe we are free to choose. But I believe there's more to it, it's not just so intuative that need only do some natural spontaneous act of kindness, we have to go through the mill to gain the perspective necessary to discord selfishness.



*Neil MacFarland, Perkins professor who taught my religion in Global perspective class, that's where I got that phraseology.

4 comments:

A Hermit said...

"I didn't say anything about hiding evdience. I said the evidence s clear and easy to find, but you to search. It's not that its hidden, God's presence is hidden to some exent, but it can be found."You seem to confuse my assertions with your own sometimes. I know you don't think anything is really hidden, but you must understand that from my perspective, having searched sincerely and not found, it does appear that much is either hidden from me, or simply non-existent. You can assert otherwise all you want, but until you can show me the dragon in your garage I have no reason to accept your assertion that it exists.

You'll also have to explain the difference between "hidden" "not hidden" and "hidden to some extent"; perhaps I'm just having a hard time seeing the finer distinctions here, but it seems you're trying to have it both ways...

I'm all for searching and unraveling mysteries, by the way; nothing is more fulfilling than discovering something new. But I don't see why this must entail evil and suffering; (especially evil and suffering which appear to be unrelated to any kind of moral searching or decision making but are simply a consequence of our physical fragility and the forces of nature.) It seems to me that evil and suffering tend to diminish the value of the experience, to discourage many who would otherwise keep seeking and to punish who, in your words, don't "seek right" (whatever that means...)

"Now you want to assert that suffering isn't necessary, what do you have to replace it? "Nothing is needed to replace it; the only necessary consequence of not seeking answers is ignorance. Piling pain and suffering on top of that is not necessary; it is gratuitous.

"You are just cheating the issues by insertion of a false premise. The premise that there can no pain of any kind whatsoever or else God is either no good or not there, why should we accept that premise?"This is not cheating any more than your assertion that God must have some purpose in creating a moral universe which requires some degree of suffering and evil in contrast to the good. Why should we just accept this premise?

"But you keep assuming that I've the suffereing itself is the teacher. How many times must I remind you? The suffernig is the necessary consquence of freedom. If all people would chose not to hurt others we could have a perfect world. But they are not going to choose that, and if they don't have the freedom to choose then they are not capable of learning to make moral choices."No, I am not assuming that suffering is the teacher; I'm asking you what purpose of God's is served by allowing horrors like the rape and murder of a child to occur?

And more; what about a child dying of leukemia, or in an earthquake; what aspect of morality are we supposed to internalize that could require that kind of suffering? How is freedom of choice or moral understanding improved by their pain?

"What calculus do you use to decide what is fair and what is not? How can you, a mere mortal pretend to tally the balance sheet and decide that creation isn't worth it, when you can't even understand the issues at steak (nor can any of us)?"If you can't understand it, how can you say with such confidence that it is worth it? It's just as possible that God, if such an thing exists, is evil and sadistic and created this world the way it is for His own entertainment. If you can't understand the purpose you can't really say one way or the other, can you?

"If your world view is right why is humanity not a paradise?"Because this is a natural universe, which is indifferent to our suffering. The only agents I'm aware of in this natural universe capable of love are human beings, and we, being products of that indifferent natural universe, are imperfect beings who have to find our own rules. There is no lawgiver, no loving creator; what love exists comes from us, and we need more of it.

J.L. Hinman said...

Holy cow man I'm going to have to do another post to answer this one.is hidden to some exent, but it can be found."You seem to confuse my assertions with your own sometimes. I know you don't think anything is really hidden, but you must understand that from my perspective, having searched sincerely and not found, it does appear that much is either hidden from me, or simply non-existent.

Not being made explicit is much different than being actively hidden. now you brought up teaching and I made the analogy. But you are not willing to trust the teachers. That's why you can't find it because you are not willing to step out on faith and just do it.

you want proof as pay off. That's not faith.
You can assert otherwise all you want, but until you can show me the dragon in your garage I have no reason to accept your assertion that it exists.

the studies show it's common enough. The triggers are there. You mistake going to church and reading the bible for activation of faith. That's part of it it's not all there is to it. you can read the bible and go to church all the time and if you are not stepping and trusting God then it' not faith.You'll also have to explain the difference between "hidden" "not hidden" and "hidden to some extent"; perhaps I'm just having a hard time seeing the finer distinctions here, but it seems you're trying to have it both ways...


with all three of those they share the common bond that it's hard to find, it' snot obvious. Bu something can be not obvious and not actively hidden. It's just not made explicit.

hey it's a done deal. the studies prove if you join a tradition that speaks to you and step out in faith you are going to get the transformation experince.

whether or not that translates into theological salvation in the Christian faith we can discuss at another time. But that should be enough to demonstrate on an existential level that there is soemthing there.
I'm all for searching and unraveling mysteries, by the way; nothing is more fulfilling than discovering something new. But I don't see why this must entail evil and suffering; (especially evil and suffering which appear to be unrelated to any kind of moral searching or decision making but are simply a consequence of our physical fragility and the forces of nature.)



you keep ignoring the reasons. do you even understand the issues?let me explain it in a deeper way again:

god could make it all obvious, he could hold a press conference in front of the UN. why doesn't he?

He doesn't do this because he doesn't want it to be obvious. It was obvious you wouldn't searhc. while he doesn't hide activley he doesn't make it explicite. If he did no one would search.

the value of the search justifies the keeping of free will

free will necessitates the possibility of choosing wrong. choosing wrong causes pain.

you get it this time?


I don't mean to be insulting but you just refuse to follow to the trail of the argument.
It seems to me that evil and suffering tend to diminish the value of the experience, to discourage many who would otherwise keep seeking and to punish who, in your words, don't "seek right" (whatever that means...)


That's because those who don't want to believe anyway have found the theodicy issue as a great excuse to deny the existence of God."Now you want to assert that suffering isn't necessary, what do you have to replace it? "Nothing is needed to replace it; the only necessary consequence of not seeking answers is ignorance. Piling pain and suffering on top of that is not necessary; it is gratuitous.


If you don't do the search then you stay mired in selfishness and sin and so you miss the point of living, the quest for the good is the point of life. It's why we are born."You are just cheating the issues by insertion of a false premise. The premise that there can no pain of any kind whatsoever or else God is either no good or not there, why should we accept that premise?"This is not cheating any more than your assertion that God must have some purpose in creating a moral universe which requires some degree of suffering and evil in contrast to the good. Why should we just accept this premise?

I've just expalined why can't you follow a simple serioes of propositions. Everysingle tmie you act like I never expained why> i expalin why every single time and you constantly ignore it.

can you follow a series of statements? can you not understand how they relate?

is this a tactic? are you hoping to disuade readers by creating the sense in the reading taht "if they guy doesn't get it maybe what I think i'm reading isn't there?

are you for real? why you get this? I expalin it every single time. you never acknowledge it you act like I never do expalin it.
"But you keep assuming that I've the suffereing itself is the teacher. How many times must I remind you? The suffernig is the necessary consquence of freedom. If all people would chose not to hurt others we could have a perfect world. But they are not going to choose that, and if they don't have the freedom to choose then they are not capable of learning to make moral choices."No, I am not assuming that suffering is the teacher; I'm asking you what purpose of God's is served by allowing horrors like the rape and murder of a child to occur?



again, where were when I said it? see you are doing it again.i just expalined agani an dyou just don't listen. are you reading what I say?

the reason; is freedom. get it? if we don't have it it can't be a moral universe. but if we do have it we are going make wrong choices, get it?
And more; what about a child dying of leukemia, or in an earthquake; what aspect of morality are we supposed to internalize that could require that kind of suffering? How is freedom of choice or moral understanding improved by their pain?


in the original argument (which I asked you to read) I distinguish between pain and evil. Pain due to earth quakes and such is not the same issue. There's a realtinoship. God can't zap earthquakes away all the time or there would be no search. But that not a moral issue, because earth quakes don't make moral choices. Being sick or beign hurt are the result of living in a real world not the result of a moral choice.

but the reason why reality hurst is still realated to the moral issue.
"What calculus do you use to decide what is fair and what is not? How can you, a mere mortal pretend to tally the balance sheet and decide that creation isn't worth it, when you can't even understand the issues at steak (nor can any of us)?"If you can't understand it, how can you say with such confidence that it is worth it? It's just as possible that God, if such an thing exists, is evil and sadistic and created this world the way it is for His own entertainment. If you can't understand the purpose you can't really say one way or the other, can you?


yes I sure can. That's not the same question. We can say beyond th shadow of a doubt that God is good not question about it. it's a matter of logic and of understanding the nature of being. The link between being and love is logical and can be demonstrated.

Being implies love

God is being itself

therefore, god is love.
"If your world view is right why is humanity not a paradise?"Because this is a natural universe, which is indifferent to our suffering. The only agents I'm aware of in this natural universe capable of love are human beings, and we, being products of that indifferent natural universe, are imperfect beings who have to find our own rules. There is no lawgiver, no loving creator; what love exists comes from us, and we need more of it.

that is a tragic mistake born of cynicism that is destroying the civilization and probably preventing you from finding God.

that decision is the result of anger and resentment. You are angry at God so you think that, no law giver and all that. just just middle class tripe of the sort made up by people who read Sartre's novels and not his philosophy.

J.L. Hinman said...

The only agents I'm aware of in this natural universe capable of love are human beings, and we, being products of that indifferent natural universe, are imperfect beings who have to find our own rules.

you are the one who kept saying how we have all this Luv! We luuuuuuv everyone so we can be moral without all this God stuff. But most people don't see do it that way. Most people have a basic sense of decency they attribute to God.It doesn't work when you try to do it without God.There is no lawgiver, no loving creator; what love exists comes from us, and we need more of it.


I'll show that God. I'll teach him not to do it my way. I'll say he doesn't exist. that's going to hurt, that's gonna teach him.

A Hermit said...

"the studies show it's common enough. The triggers are there. You mistake going to church and reading the bible for activation of faith. That's part of it it's not all there is to it. you can read the bible and go to church all the time and if you are not stepping and trusting God then it' not faith"I don't know how many times I have to explain to you that I am not the shallow, ignorant dabbler you seem to think I am. I didn't just go to Church and read my Bible, I gave up everything to follow Jesus and to search for God. And it almost did me in. It wasn't until I came to see the world in terms of nature and not a divine creation that anything in my life made sense to me. That, for me, was the transformative experience, and it was, for me, much more profound, meaningful and liberating than faith ever was.

"you keep ignoring the reasons. do you even understand the issues?let me explain it in a deeper way again:"I do understand the argument Joe, I just don't agree with all of your premises. I have raised what I feel are legitimate objections to some of those of those premises. Calling me ignorant and re-asserting the same premises, as you've done here, is not much of an answer, I'm afraid...