Friday, April 24, 2009

Inter-Blog Dialogue: Part 3- The Dominion of Men

Merriam-Webster defines Dialogue as the following:

2 a: a conversation between two or more persons; also : a similar exchange between a person and something else (as a computer)
b: an
exchange of ideas and opinions
c: a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution dialogue between loggers and environmentalists

Dialogue by Jean Augagneur]

In relation to the realm of the religious and spiritual we use the first two definition ('a' and 'b') whenever we come across people of different faith, and hopefully never HAVE TO use the 3rd definition ('c'). In a previous post a fellow blogger, Ben, at Discovering God's Holy Plan brought up a few questions as to the nature of my beliefs. A quick answer would be Love, but quick answers are not interesting nor insightful. If we were the Borg or in the Matrix we could plug into our neighbor's thoughts and we would know what they believe, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we are restricted to human language. Ben's response, which is found in the comment section of this previous post, will be in black and mine will be in reddish brown.

Part 1.
Part 2.

First, stand up, stretch, and take a bathroom break because this is a LONG post.

Part 3- The Dominion of Men

I guess my point is this: If you reject God as presented in the Bible so strongly, and say that God is something different, then what consequence does that have, and how can your God ever be defined? The way I see it, your God at this point has apparently never communicated with us, may be nothing more than a "first cause" or "energy source" who cares nothing about us or does not know us personally, makes no promise of eternal life, makes no promise of a fair judgment of all evil, and has no future consequence if we disobey or reject him, etc.

[Responded to in Part 2, kept for continuity]

If that is the true nature of God, why follow any laws at all? It won't save us, not will we likely be resurrected or live an eternal life. Why not just be a "moral" atheist? Or a "moral" agnostic? Or create a new religion altogether & re-define God.

Even if God is an impersonal First Cause God there are still laws and order that govern the universe. These natural laws have been apparent to man and even if we refused to follow God's laws there will always be social codes, instincts, that even animals follow. So I guess no matter how primitive man has been, or may become, there will always be order. We can not escape it. The biblical laws were used to progress humanity to the next level of consciousness. One of my world religion teachers explained the Baha'i view of progressive revelation like this. This may not be entirely correct but he said that the Baha'is viewed revelation as a picture (or mirror) of God and that each new revelation brought a clearer picture than the previous ones, and that all revelations were valid. Of course they claim that Baha'ullah revealed the clearest revelation to date but, if I remember correctly, they also believe that another messenger can come along and bring a clearer picture of God in the future. God has been redefined and new religions have been created in the past and without new religious thought, without progression, then religion as a whole would become stagnant and die. Christianity might be the largest religion now but 2000 years from now definitions and descriptions of God and modes of worship will appear alien to us (that is if God survives the next 2000 years). The notion that a transcendent God is separate from the universe is more of a Western image of God. I have yet to delve deeply into Eastern religious thought but frankly when we discuss God we are only looking at half the picture. But from what little I know, the Eastern answer would be that there isn't a God OUT THERE that sends down laws through messengers because pure morality is found within by removing the layers of the ego and realizing that you are part of the transendent reality (God). But that's a whole other carton of eggs.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you reject the God of the bible as man just making stuff up about what they "believe," and God is unknowable/unknown in reality, then that God means nothing at all really. Why worship it, follow it, or believe in it? Why not just be a "good" person, and do what you want in life, so long as it doesn't hurt another person? Why not watch child porn, or have sex with parents, siblings, animals, cheat on taxes, lie when necessary, etc. if they all consent or seem to enjoy it and/or no one ever finds out? You see what I mean, and this is the exact problem I am talking about?

These apparently harmless acts you've mentioned above are not only found in the stories of the Biblical patriarchs but defy the natural social code that humans have had depending on the society. These acts still happen but they are considered taboo. So even if some day God meant nothing to humanity we will still go on obeying and following our society's established ethics. But we can't judge the Bible too harshly on morality because they are from a different time and place; we can't use Western 21st century morals to judge Eastern 7th century c.e. Arabia or any other place and time. Cannibalism is one of our greatest taboos yet just about, if not, everyone may be descended from groups that have practiced cannibalism because it was a global (but not universal) practice. I'm not saying that EVERY society practiced cannibalism but that the practice was found in just about every part of the world. Even the early Christians were accused of being cannibals, though not true in the physical sense (that I'm aware of), because Christians at the time were being held accountable to practice the morals of their time and place (The Mediterranean and the Levant, 1st-4th century c.e.). They didn't worship the local and regional gods but met secretly in homes to break the body of a man, eat his flesh, and drink his blood. To outsiders this sounds like cannibalism even if they knew it was a purely religious and symbolic ritual.

Again, the only problem that comes up is what is "good." Society changes what is "right" and "wrong" every year. You made the point that people shouldn't concern themselves with homosexual marriage, and should instead focus on helping others. I agree 100%. We should all be focusing on feeding the hungry, etc. Not this nonsense about allowing gays to call themselves married. I have nothing against homosexuality, if that is what they want, do it. But don't change the laws to redine a marriage.

Yes, society does change what is "right" and "wrong" every year and this is called progress. A better question would be is society improving in defining right and wrong? In the last century women and African Americans have gained more rights for themselves in America than ever before. Just imagine what society may change by the 22nd century! Humanity's history is trying ever so desperately to progress and improve, and even though we may go through dark times we must never forget the people we once were nor lose sight of the people we yearn to become. Society has taken over the reins of morality and I don't think they will ever go back into the hands of priests or even God. This does not mean God is useless but that society as a whole is now deciding for itself what is right and wrong. Can society pull this off? We'll just have to wait and see. Either we'll eradicate ourselves or we'll find a way to coexist peacefully. If society finds a way to bring global peace to earth where does that put God and does that mean that we're more moral than God? I don't think God as a concept/experience/Father figure will ever completely be cut out of the human experience. At least not anytime soon.

But it is the homosexuals that push to have a marriage which is based on a religious definition historically. What follows then? Adopting young children? Having surrogates create them in test tubes so they can have children & getting donated sperm & eggs. And what about those poor children who grow up ridiculed that their parents are homosexuals (yes, kids in school are very cruel)? How can a child have a moral compass in life, when they are raised from youth being told one thing is okay by a mere human, when religious texts say otherwise? What happens when there is no longer a family unit in America & society has even more moral decay? Then the problem gets serious. Not only that, but religious extremists from Islam & other places get even more upset, and want to bomb us even more because they think all Americans behave that way, and all Americans are against God's laws.

But it isn't the religious people who make a stir to change laws, they only defend them, and they wouldn't do that if there wasn't pressure being placed to change the laws to allow homosexual marriage (which by the way descriminates agains bisexual marriage, polygamy marriage, close-kin marriages, and all other banned marriages--either suppor them all or only man & woman).

This all depends on what society chooses for itself regardless of what God wants. I believe children are born without hatred and prejudices. It is man's fallible and tribal nature that teach children what may or may not be right regardless (and because) of religious texts, and the fracturing of the family unit has taken more hits from divorce than any issue like homosexuality. If anything we should outlaw divorce except for in extreme cases. This, of course, is highly unlikely. Man is a social creature, and like all social creatures we have certain natural instincts which is why I believe the family unit will always stay intact.
Without the family unit I don't think we would have progressed to our current state.

I understand the theme of your argument: God's morals vs. Man's. But the fact is humanity has a better chance of establishing and understanding our own ethics than attempting to understand God's Laws BECAUSE humanity is so divided on the subject of God. A great example of humanity establishing its own ethics is found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe this would be an incredible step forward for us if we ever attempted to abide by this declaration. I'm sure many would say the same about abiding by God's laws, but the subject of God is too divisive, too diverse to even pinpoint what God wants.

This is one of my longest posts. I like to keep them short but I could not find a good stopping point. So...

To summarize: Man is too diverse to agree on What God is let alone follow His laws. Man can do the next best thing by deciding for ourselves what is right. Some things are naturally unethical, others not quite so, but in the end we don't know. As long as humanity progresses and strives to improve we might survive as a race. If not then the apes can have their go at it.

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