Monday, June 07, 2010

Theodicy Part I: What is the basis of the good.

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To be really satisfying I think a theodicy should account for sin. My theory starts in the middle with standard Christian assumptions sin, consequences, rewards all in place. I don't want to distract from the effort but just to say a word about the nature of sin:

this will have three sections:

I: what is the basis of the good?

II: What is the basis of sin

III: Why does God allow evil, pain, and suffering in the world?



I re-post a piece from the blog called "love is the basis of everything." Draw your attention to the bottom "love is the basis of morality" and argue that Love is the basis of the good. In latter segments I will argue that abstractly absence of love is the basis of evil.

that's going to be important when we discuss the basis of sin, and all of this is a prelude to discussion of "why does God allow evil, pain, and suffering in the world."


so here it is: direct from the world of theology:

I. What is the Basis of the Good?


I don't feel very loving right now, but I don't have to feel any way to talk about love, because love is not merely a feeling. A lot of people think that love is just the special way of feeling about a person, or the warm fuzzy that comes from being with a certain person. Love is much more than just a special way of feeling. It is also a value, a commitment, a sense of orientation toward others, a philosophy, a way of being in the world (an existential engagement).

There are degrees of love and kinds of love. The Greeks called sexual and romantic love Eros From which we get our word "erotic." The kind of love friends feel they called Phileo or "brotherly love" (as in "Philadelphia"). The highest form of love they called Agape. That is usually the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it speaks of God's love for us. 1 John tells us "He who loves knows God for God is love."

Agape Means: the will to value the other, or the will to the good of the other; the desire for the other to have the best. It entails the idea of according the other all rights and human dignity. It is not personal, it's a commitment to all people. Agape is sometimes translated Charity (as in kJ trains 1 Corinthians 13 "if I speak with the tongue of men and of angles and have not charity") but this is more condescending and patronizing than the actual meaning of the term. Charity can be paternalistic in the negative sense, controlling, colonizing, derogatory. Agape is a totally positive thing; one must actually seek the good of the other whatever that may be, even against one's own interest.

Now I will start saying "crazy stuff," these are things that I have theorized about and I guess they make up the radical edge of my own philosophy because they have been scoffed at plenty of times on these boards. But I don't care I'm saying it anyway.


Basis of everything: connection with Being


When I say love is the basis of everything, I mean it really is. I believe that when the Bible says "God is love" it means it literally. In other words, we should put an "itself" there. God is "love itself,": the thing that love is actually the essence of what God is. Now you may ask how can God be both being itself and love itself? Because these two are inextricably bound up together.

Love is giving, the idea of seeking the good of the other, according the other full human dignity equal to one's own, these are ideas that entail give over, supplying the other with something. It's a positivity in the sense that it supplies an actual thing to someone. Being also shares these qualifies. Being is giving in the sense that it bettors itself upon the beings and they have their existence. It is positive in the sense that it is something and not taking something away, it's not a void as nothingness is, but moves in the direction of filling a void; nothingness becomes being, the existence of things.

So love and being are really the same impulse and they both unite in the spirit of God. God is the basis of all being, of all reality. God's character is love; that is God seeks the good of the other and bestows upon us the ultimate human dignity of being a child of God.


Motivating force behind creation


Love is the basic motivating force behind creation. God's motive urge to create was not out of a need due to looniness, but out of a desire to create as an artist, and desire is fueled by love. Art is love, artists love art, as revolutionaries love. Revolutionaries are in love and their revolutions are often expressions of love, what He Guava called "a strange kind of love, not to see more shiny factories but for people." So God creates as a need to bestow love, which entails the bestowing of being.

Now let's not have a bunch of lectures about "perfection" based upon not knowing what perfection is. Let's not have a buck of Aristotle thrown in as though it were the Bible. There is no base line for comparison from which one can really make the judgment that need is imperfection; especially the sort of need one feels to be creative or to bestow love; that is a different sort of need than the need for food or shelter.


Basis of morality


Love is the basis of morality. Love is the background of the moral universe, as Joseph Fletcher said. Austin said it too. That means all moral decisions are made with ultimate reference to God's love which is the driving force behind morality. Many people think Christian morality is about stopping impurity. These people regard sex as the greatest offense and think that basically sin = sex. But nothing is further from the truth. Sin is not sex, sin is an unloosing nature, or a selfish desire to act in an unloosing manner.

Love requires selfless giving over OT the other for the good of the other. That means all moral actions must ultimately evaluated with reference to their motivational properties. That's why Jesus spoke as he did in the sermon on the mount: if you hate you are a murderer. Because the motivation itself is the true essence of the sin, the rejecting of love and acceptance of self as the orbit creates the motive that eventually leads to the act. He is not saying that the act sin OT sinful of course, but that the sin begins with the motive not just with the act. In that sense morality is somewhat teleological, although I normally eschew teleological ethics. I am not saying that the morality of a given act is based upon outcome, but that the end toward which moral motions are given is the goal of doing love.

8 comments:

A Hermit said...

So you're going to call me a Nazi and then lecture me about love?

What a joke.

Metacrock said...

so how come every day on a hundred message boards atheists me and my grandmother evil, Nazi Hitler, and fo on but we just supposed to over look it and if we say "that's not Christian" O I hear bag pipes playing!

come off it little miss Rogers Neighborhood, drop the "I'm just a liberal" act. if want me to not call atheists Nazi then tell your little buddies so stop calling my grandmother a Nazi.

I know would never claim to speak for all atheists, normally, but then when it helps your propaganda you do claim to speak for all atheist.

good little solider, you've done little duty to the ideology. You a real good pretense at being upset.

A Hermit said...

Have you seen me on any message boards lately? I came here thinking I might have a mature conversation and found you posting Nazi pictures and smearing atheists (which includes me) as Nazis.

I have no reason to take anything you say seriously as long as you keep doing that. Complaining about someone else's behaviour is no excuse for yours. You are a joke.

Metacrock said...

Have you seen me on any message boards lately? I came here thinking I might have a mature conversation and found you posting Nazi pictures and smearing atheists (which includes me) as Nazis.

I have never seen you do anything on a board but be a good little soldier for the hate group. You don't act hateful but you refuse to ever criticize in anyway and always come out with some reason why criticism is worse than the hate they exhibit.

I have no reason to take anything you say seriously as long as you keep doing that. Complaining about someone else's behaviour is no excuse for yours. You are a joke.

you blew your credibility. Did you forget what board you are on? Show me any posting of a nazi symbol of Metacrock's Blog? where is it?

A Hermit said...

" Show me any posting of a nazi symbol of Metacrock's Blog? where is it?"

Right here

And don't try to weasel out of it by saying that it doesn't count if its not on the blog labeled 'Metacrock's Blog". It's on your other blog, which is linked to on this blog.

Don't pull shit like this and then lecture ME about credibility.

Metacrock said...

are you illiterate Hermit? I said "on Meatcrock's blog" that's on atheist watch. don't you know those two separate blogs?

Metacrock is the positive happy blog. atheist watch is the nasty get in the dirty brawl blog, don't you get it?

I said this quite clearly you are blind?

Did you forget what board you are on? Show me any posting of a nazi symbol of Metacrock's Blog?

so it's true that theists really do have reading comprehension problems.

A Hermit said...

Are you illiterate? Read my comment:

"...don't try to weasel out of it by saying that it doesn't count if its not on the blog labeled 'Metacrock's Blog". It's on your other blog, which is linked to on this blog.

Don't pull shit like this and then lecture ME about credibility."


Be a man. Take responsibility for your own behaviour.

Kristen said...

You know I don't agree with showing a picture of Nazis with the word "atheists" underneath. But I'm a bit surprised at you, Hermit, that your (legitimate) protest of that, still shows absolutely no sympathy for the truly horrible things said about Metacrock in the atheist blog he was responding to. Metacrock also has a very legitimate reason to be angry and upset at the total jerks who treated him like sh** while touting their self-righteous atheism high.

Why is it that all you can do is fault Metacrock? I agree that his blog post where you linked, clearly shows he lost his temper and lashed out. Would you have done better?

Maybe you could start showing a little compassion, Hermit.