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Author Topic: Young Earth Creationism
Jeff C.
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I'm sure many of you have your own opinions on this subject, but seeing as how respectful everyone was in the thread on Mormonism, I figured it would be nice to explore some other religious perspectives in a somewhat respectable way. Before I begin, I do not adhere to Young Earth Creationism, but that does not mean I am still not curious about the logic behind it.

First, for those who don't know, the definition...

Young Earth Creationism: the religious belief that the Universe, Earth and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic God during a relatively short period, sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. Its primary adherents are those Christians and Jews who, using a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative as a basis, believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days.


Okay, so my roommate believes that the Earth is young, among other things (he also thinks there are only really about 35 kinds of dinosaurs, that carbon dating and other dating methods are false, and that the bible is supposed to be taken literally). He knows that I'm an evolutionist, but that I also claim to be a Christian, and it bothers him because he doesn't think it's possible to be both (obviously, I disagree). What do you guys think about this way of thinking? What can I say to someone like this? Should I even bother defending myself?

Maybe I am missing something about this belief system, but I personally don't see anything wrong with believing in both evolution and God. After all, why can't one be the answer to "how" and the other be the answer to "why"? I have always viewed the story of Creation as something of a metaphor or tall tale, used to explain something that had no answer. However, as I was told recently, if you can't accept that, then how can you accept the rest of the Bible? I don't really have an answer for that.

Also, how do these people disregard scientific studies and physical proof of the age of the Universe? How do they explain the many other dating methods used besides Carbon dating that all give roughly the same numbers? How do they explain the fact that galaxies of stars that are millions of light years away require millions of years for their light to reach us (we wouldn't be able to see the light from those stars if the Universe was only 10 thousand years old, right?)? What about the fossil record?

Anyway, some feedback would be most appreciated. I'd like to see how others feel about this, despite your background.

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RivalOfTheRose
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You can respond by saying that your own personal faith provides every comfort that you need, and helps you to be the best person that you can. I believe everyone finds whatever "level" of faith they need to.
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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:

Also, how do these people disregard scientific studies and physical proof of the age of the Universe? How do they explain the many other dating methods used besides Carbon dating that all give roughly the same numbers? How do they explain the fact that galaxies of stars that are millions of light years away require millions of years for their light to reach us (we wouldn't be able to see the light from those stars if the Universe was only 10 thousand years old, right?)? What about the fossil record?

Easy. They don't care about any of that. It's all just a vast conspiracy by satan or muslims or freemasons or whoever to undermine true religion and send us all to hell.

I want to be respectful, I truly do. Despite being an atheist, I have a healthy interest and respect for most religions and their faithful but there are a few I just can't stand and young earth creationists are one of them. I guess for some, ignorance really is bliss.

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Stone_Wolf_
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How could an all seeing, all knowing all powerful God could be comrehended by the likes of us, a sinful, fallen race?

Any time your roomate wants to try and "explain the one and only truth about God" just remind him it is prideful to think one understands what is above his pay grade.

And pride cometh before a fall.

Then push him down.

:-)

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Lyrhawn
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My cousin believes in YEC.

We've banned the topic at Thanksgiving.

That's how you deal with it.

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Samprimary
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Young Earth Creationism (or just Creationism in general) acts as the primary case study in how religious beliefs tend to be crafted into gaps of ambiguity in the workings of the universe, and are a study in what happens when religious claims become contested (and end up in a war of cultural attrition) by overwhelming scientific evidence and human knowledge. In even just living memory, it's been very telling.

There's one question I'm always interested in hearing in general, when I'm ever in a situation in which it is being in any way asked of me, and that's this: why should I respect creationist beliefs? Why should I give them any sense of 'equal time' or respectful standing in an argument about biological origins or the age of the earth?

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Aros
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To paraphrase the Bhagavad Gita: if God is infinite and man cannot understand infinity, how can he understand God?

So, an omnipotent being (at least from our perspective) creates a world. It wants to deliver instruction to the people who populate the planet in the form of a gospel. This gospel will have to be durable and last through the ages. It will have to incite rigorous study among the learned, but be relatable to the ignorant.

God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME. It needed to have a relevant message for the people thousands of years ago, as well as a framework for modern theology.

Is this possible if the book is 100% literal? Our understanding is extremely limited. Think of trying to explain particle physics to a five year old. Will you have to simplify? Use metaphor and analogy? Imagine if you are speaking to a five year old across a thousand years and having your words translated three times before they hear it!?!?!

If you're a believer, the creation of a working bible is a fantastic feat. It has a lot of things that need to be accomplished in a single, immutable form. To believe that it can be the literal end-all-and-be-all seems (to me) a very deluded position. I'd think that prayer, study, and discussion are necessary to decipher anything from it.

The bible is meant for the masses. I often wonder what a separate gospel made for the intellectual elite would look like, in an age where everyone is literate, if God could have created one in English with succinct word selection.

I think that the LDS church has it right. Read, pray, and think. The spirit will guide you. There's room for multiple interpretations. But . . . there's no way that the world is only 10,000 years old. Unless the planet is made from recycled bits, that is, with soil of billions of years of creatures and recycled humans.

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dkw
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quote:
There is knowledge to be had, after all, about the earth, about the sky, about the other elements of this world, about the movements and revolutions or even the magnitude and distances of the constellations, about the predictable eclipses of moon and sun, about the cycles of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, fruits, stones and everything else of this kind. And it frequently happens that even non-Christians will have knowledge of this sort in a way that they can substantiate with scientific arguments or experiments. Now it is quiet disgraceful and disastrous, something to be on one’s guard against at all costs, that they should ever hear Christians spouting what they claim our Christian literature has to say on these topics, and talking such nonsense that they can scarcely contain their laughter when they see them to be toto caelo, as the saying goes, wide of the mark. And what is so vexing is not that misguided people should be laughed at, as that our authors should be assumed by outsiders to have held such views and, to the great detriment of those about whose salvation we are so concerned, should be written off and consigned to the waste paper basket as so many ignoramuses. . . . It is impossible to say what trouble and grief such rash, self-assured know-alls cause the more cautious and experienced brothers and sisters. Whenever they find themselves challenged and taken to task for some shaky and false theory of theirs by people who do not recognize the authority of our books, they try to defend what they have aired with the most frivolous temerity and patent falsehood by bringing forward these same sacred books to justify it. Or they even quote from memory many things said in them which they imagine will provide them with valid evidence, not understanding either what they are saying, or the matters on which they are asserting themselves.
St. Augustine of Hippo. Fourth Century C.E.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME.
Not to quibble, but it seems to me that if the goal was to create a given outcome, God could have used a number of mechanisms that would not only have not been books but could have been significantly superior to books. Consider an immortal, indestructible unicorn that would teleport to anyone with a question and answer that question immediately in the person's native language. Much better than a book, to my mind.
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME.
Not to quibble, but it seems to me that if the goal was to create a given outcome, God could have used a number of mechanisms that would not only have not been books but could have been significantly superior to books. Consider an immortal, indestructible unicorn that would teleport to anyone with a question and answer that question immediately in the person's native language. Much better than a book, to my mind.
Is it unfeasible to assume that God, though powerful, is bound by the same laws of physics that the rest of us are? Using the word "deity", we are merely implying some form of higher-level intelligence. That doesn't necessary mean he's some dude sitting in a cloud somewhere.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Is it unfeasible to assume that God, though powerful, is bound by the same laws of physics that the rest of us are?
For a given definition of "God," yes.
But even if you limit me to currently-known technologies, omniscience, and immortality, I can come up with something better than "poorly translated book."

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Marlozhan
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME.
Not to quibble, but it seems to me that if the goal was to create a given outcome, God could have used a number of mechanisms that would not only have not been books but could have been significantly superior to books. Consider an immortal, indestructible unicorn that would teleport to anyone with a question and answer that question immediately in the person's native language. Much better than a book, to my mind.
There are most definitely better ways of transmitting facts and creating certain outcomes. And a Magic 8 Ball unicorn would be pretty awesome and entertaining to say the least.

But what if getting all of the facts straight is not the main purpose, in this life? If God wanted to just make sure we have all of the right facts, He has done a pretty poor job. Information from God (if you believe in Him) comes piecemeal and through a lot of ambiguity.

In LDS theology, we all lived with God before this life and the most simple among us knew a hell of a lot more than the most brilliant of us on this earth. Knowledge is easy to transmit and retain. It is simply a matter of effective delivery and the mental hardware to comprehend and remember the information. If God is incapable of designing a better brain than what we currently have, then He isn't much of a God.

But what if He made us this way on purpose, for a good reason? There is an LDS scripture in the Book of Mormon that says:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Here, God states that He gave us weaknesses on purpose. He designed us to be forgetful, and ignorant at times, and subject to death & illness, and subject to fear, and a whole list of other weaknesses I could mention. Now, if this is the case either God really is a cosmic jerk who likes to burn ants with magnifying glasses, or He has some higher, vastly important purpose in mind.

From an LDS perspective, the growth that we obtain from working through weaknesses and uncertainty, having to rely on God for spiritually ambiguous guidance, remaining humble, living a life where we have forgotten everything from before, and dealing with death & pain leads to growth for our eternal spirits that is indispensable in the eternal scheme of things, but which sucks balls in this life.

And Mormons believe that we all chose to come to this life and subject ourselves to these conditions. Of course, being told "life will suck" and having to live through it are two different things. Thus, this life is a sifting time to show who will strive to be good and love others at all costs, and who will decide it isn't worth it, and everyone in between.

If you don't understand that God is trying to raise beings like Himself, who truly love and serve and create and enjoy life out of their own will, then this life makes no sense at all. This life is not the time to become experts at theory and skills. It is not a time for clear answers. It is not a time for peace and utopia. It is not the place where our deepest dreams are fulfilled. It is a time to show our true colors and develop internal strength of character in a place where the only reason to truly do good things is because you love good for its own sake.

You don't have any guarantee of an eternal reward to motivate you, because we can't know for a certainty that there is life after death. You can't do good because you remember how great life was with God, because you have forgotten that. You can't do good because your ma and pop told you what you should believe, because when you get older you are faced with the fact that you must either find spiritual knowledge for yourself (a mature, lifelong, challenging task) or be a blind follower or give up on the whole spiritual life as a farce for ignorant people.

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TomDavidson
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Oh, I have no problem with the Problem of Evil being answered with either, "God doesn't have the power to solve this" or "God allows it to exist to teach us some specific lesson that cannot be learned any other way, for some unknown reason." I personally find both of those to be sort of cop-outty, but they're potential resolutions to the paradox and perfectly internally valid within Mormon dogma.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME.
Not to quibble, but it seems to me that if the goal was to create a given outcome, God could have used a number of mechanisms that would not only have not been books but could have been significantly superior to books. Consider an immortal, indestructible unicorn that would teleport to anyone with a question and answer that question immediately in the person's native language. Much better than a book, to my mind.
Is it unfeasible to assume that God, though powerful, is bound by the same laws of physics that the rest of us are? Using the word "deity", we are merely implying some form of higher-level intelligence. That doesn't necessary mean he's some dude sitting in a cloud somewhere.
When I say "God" I am certainly not merely implying some form of higher-level intelligence.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Oh, I have no problem with the Problem of Evil being answered with either, "God doesn't have the power to solve this" or "God allows it to exist to teach us some specific lesson that cannot be learned any other way, for some unknown reason." I personally find both of those to be sort of cop-outty, but they're potential resolutions to the paradox and perfectly internally valid within Mormon dogma.
I've never been able to accept those coinciding with a belief in a God that intervenes in human affairs. In that case, you are still left with a God that will say, answer your prayers to help you get through a rough day at work, but not lift a finger to stop an infant from being raped to death, a God that communicates with his follows all the time, but never says, "Hey, torturing people in my name is wrong.".
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
God had one shot to create a single book that would create AN OUTCOME.
Not to quibble, but it seems to me that if the goal was to create a given outcome, God could have used a number of mechanisms that would not only have not been books but could have been significantly superior to books. Consider an immortal, indestructible unicorn that would teleport to anyone with a question and answer that question immediately in the person's native language. Much better than a book, to my mind.
Is it unfeasible to assume that God, though powerful, is bound by the same laws of physics that the rest of us are? Using the word "deity", we are merely implying some form of higher-level intelligence. That doesn't necessary mean he's some dude sitting in a cloud somewhere.
When I say "God" I am certainly not merely implying some form of higher-level intelligence.
From the perspective of an agnostic, it is a concrete supposition that God is SOME KIND of intelligence, not necessarily bound by any existing dogma.

From the perspective of a believer, I contend that one cannot know the true boundaries, limits, or nature of God. Even if our beliefs are close to the truth, they can only be hopelessly incomplete and simplified.

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
Oh, I have no problem with the Problem of Evil being answered with either, "God doesn't have the power to solve this" or "God allows it to exist to teach us some specific lesson that cannot be learned any other way, for some unknown reason." I personally find both of those to be sort of cop-outty, but they're potential resolutions to the paradox and perfectly internally valid within Mormon dogma.
I've never been able to accept those coinciding with a belief in a God that intervenes in human affairs. In that case, you are still left with a God that will say, answer your prayers to help you get through a rough day at work, but not lift a finger to stop an infant from being raped to death, a God that communicates with his follows all the time, but never says, "Hey, torturing people in my name is wrong.".
From a human perspective, what you have said makes sense. We see cause and effect, and we feel empathy for other humans.

But imagine it this way instead: I have just made cookies for my kids to eat. I turn off the oven, and put the cookie sheet on the top of the stove for it to cool. I clearly tell the kids "This is really hot. Don't touch it. I'll give you a cookie when they have cooled off." Then I lock the baby gate in place to keep them out of the kitchen.

My phone rings and I go to pick it up in the other room, and my 2-year-old immediately drags a chair over next to the baby gate and hops over it. She reaches up to grab a cookie and burns her hand on the cookie sheet, causing her to immediately burst into tears and wail in pain.

Who is at fault?

I was the one who turned the oven on and made the cookie sheet hot. So I'm clearly a bad parent for introducing something painful into the child's environment, right? Even though my intentions were good, and I was making something good for my children to enjoy, I didn't stop bad things from happening. I could have duct-taped my kids to some chairs to make sure they couldn't get to the kitchen. I could have installed a heavy security door to block off the kitchen. I could have done 1,000 things to keep my kid from getting burned.

But isn't the kid at fault too? She was told "Don't touch this" and an obstacle was put in her way, but she didn't care. She wanted what she wanted, and she disobeyed me. Is it really fair for her to say "Daddy burned me!!!"?

My 2-year-old has no concept of how an oven works. She doesn't understand how cookies are made. She doesn't know about nutrition or chemistry or thermodynamics. And if I tried to explain those things to her, she wouldn't understand.

I view God the same way. He wants us to be happy serving him. And he warned us "Don't do these things if you want a good life." But we rebel and do what we want anyway, and bring sadness and pain upon ourselves. If He tried to explain the *why's* of pain and tragedy, we wouldn't be able to understand because our knowledge base is limited. But just as the heat is necessary to make the cookies (even though some people prefer raw dough...), we couldn't learn to serve God without pain and loss.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by DustinDopps:
But imagine it this way instead: I have just made cookies for my kids to eat. I turn off the oven, and put the cookie sheet on the top of the stove for it to cool. I clearly tell the kids "This is really hot. Don't touch it. I'll give you a cookie when they have cooled off." Then I lock the baby gate in place to keep them out of the kitchen.

My phone rings and I go to pick it up in the other room, and my 2-year-old immediately drags a chair over next to the baby gate and hops over it. She reaches up to grab a cookie and burns her hand on the cookie sheet, causing her to immediately burst into tears and wail in pain.

Who is at fault?

You are. Without comment on the theological validity of your example, if you leave something dangerous where a 2 year old can get at it, you are at fault.
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MrSquicky
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DD,
I'm not sure how that was intended to be a response to what I said. Could you explain?

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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by DustinDopps:
But imagine it this way instead: I have just made cookies for my kids to eat. I turn off the oven, and put the cookie sheet on the top of the stove for it to cool. I clearly tell the kids "This is really hot. Don't touch it. I'll give you a cookie when they have cooled off." Then I lock the baby gate in place to keep them out of the kitchen.

My phone rings and I go to pick it up in the other room, and my 2-year-old immediately drags a chair over next to the baby gate and hops over it. She reaches up to grab a cookie and burns her hand on the cookie sheet, causing her to immediately burst into tears and wail in pain.

Who is at fault?

You are. Without comment on the theological validity of your example, if you leave something dangerous where a 2 year old can get at it, you are at fault.
So. . . . a toddler can drown in a toilet. Is every parent who lives in the civilized world guilty of attempted murder? Culpability is based on intent or negligence. This is neither.

It's a cold, cruel universe. A loving God doesn't need to protect us. That's why we're given agency.

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dkw
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Leaving hot pans where an unsupervised 2 year old can reach them, or letting a toddler play unsupervised in a bathroom is negligence.

I already said I'm not commenting on the theological analogy.

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
DD,
I'm not sure how that was intended to be a response to what I said. Could you explain?

Sorry, Squicky. I felt like I was saying too much at once and didn't actually get to my response to you to avoid rambling on and on.

When my kid burns her fingers, it is a terrible thing. It admittedly isn't as bad as a child being raped, but to the 2-year-old living with the pain, it is horrific. All she knows and cares about at the time is "Why does it hurt so bad?" and "Why did this happen?"

I can tell her "It will feel better soon," but she can't grasp that idea. To her, she lives in this terrible moment of pain and fear. She doesn't know that this is one experience in an entire lifetime of experiences and that when she is older she won't even remember the pain from her burned finger.

I feel that all human suffering is the same way. To us, living here and now, there are horrific, evil, vile things. Life is unfair. People suffer while other people live a life of luxury based on that suffering. It is tragic.

But it is momentary. Since I believe in eternal life, our time on earth is just an eye blink. All human suffering is important, yes, and we need to minimize it out of basic human decency, but it will also be forgotten like the burned finger. To a Christian, the Bible promise of "no tears, no sorrow, no pain, no hunger" in heaven makes this brief mortal life somewhat inconsequential.

(And I know that opens up a whole new can of worms. The analogy is far from perfect.)

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Leaving hot pans where an unsupervised 2 year old can reach them, or letting a toddler play unsupervised in a bathroom is negligence.

I already said I'm not commenting on the theological analogy.

I assume you aren't a parent. 2-year-olds are endlessly creative when it comes to mischief and I have yet to meet someone who was able to completely baby-proof a house.

Plus, the analogy could easily change: my 12-year-old went into the kitchen to get a drink and left the gate open, which allowed her sister access to the stovetop. Surely that's not my fault too...

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MrSquicky
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DD,
I'm still not entirely sure how that tracks. Do you believe that God intervenes in human affairs?

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MrSquicky
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quote:
I assume you aren't a parent. 2-year-olds are endlessly creative when it comes to mischief and I have yet to meet someone who was able to completely baby-proof a house.
She is a parent (edit: I'm pretty sure, anyway). I am too. The examples you gave were of negligent parents who are to blame for their child's injuries and deaths.

[ October 15, 2013, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
DD,
I'm still not entirely sure how that tracks. Do you believe that God intervenes in human affairs?

I personally believe that God intervenes when a righteous person prays for something good to happen. Yes. But I think most "Christians" are selfish and pray for the wrong reasons. "God, help me win the lottery and I'll give half the money to the poor" is still a selfish prayer.

My response was a bit more abstract, I know. But I still think it doesn't really matter if or why God intervenes because as humans we could never fully grasp his reasoning. Why save one child and not another? Why a tidal wave in Indonesia, but not one in Hawaii? Why did one person who smokes get cancer but not another?

That's what I meant. Whether or not God intervenes - or whether or not he is to blame for the existence of evil - doesn't matter to me if evil only exists for a brief moment in time.

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MrSquicky
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So, to you, God could intentionally make everyone's life a living hell, as long as they all went to heaven afterwards and it wouldn't matter in the slightest?

---

quote:
I personally believe that God intervenes when a righteous person prays for something good to happen.
If I understand this, since God doesn't intervene, you believe that either the innocent child who is being tortured over the course of their entire life is not righteous or someone noticing and putting a stop to this is not something good. Is that accurate?
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
I assume you aren't a parent. 2-year-olds are endlessly creative when it comes to mischief and I have yet to meet someone who was able to completely baby-proof a house.
She is a parent (edit: I'm pretty sure, anyway). I am too. The examples you gave were of negligent parents who are to blame for their child's injuries and deaths.
I am indeed.

DD, would you leave a two year old in a backyard with a swimming pool and say "don't go near the pool, you might fall in and drown, but I'll be out in a few minutes to take you swimming" and then go inside? How about in the front yard of a house on a busy street with a playground just across the street?

Whose fault would it be if that 2 year old were drowned or run over?

I'd argue that the difference between those scenarios and your hot cookie sheet is not who would be responsible when the 2 year old didn't have the self-control to protect herself -- that's the same in all three examples -- but the level of danger. You're comfortable walking away from the hot pan because the worst that's likely to happen is a minor ouch, and that's a risk you're willing to take to answer your phone call.

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
So, to you, God could intentionally make everyone's life a living hell, as long as they all went to heaven afterwards and it wouldn't matter in the slightest?

I think God *could* do that and it wouldn't be my place as a creation to complain. The Bible says that a potter can take a lump of clay and make part of it into a fine vase for a place of honor in the house, and use another part of it to make a chamber pot. Neither can or should complain because it is the potter's choice, not the clay's.

But I don't think God *does* do that. I think he set up a world with a balance of some sort (black/white, good/evil, suffering/joy, etc.) and he put it us in it. We - humanity as a whole - bring our own consequences down on our heads. That child is only raped because humanity has devolved spiritually to a place that would allow that to happen.


quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky: If I understand this, since God doesn't intervene, you believe that either the innocent child who is being tortured over the course of their entire life is not righteous or someone noticing and putting a stop to this is not something good. Is that accurate?
The child is innocent. They are neither righteous nor unrighteous. But I do believe God will bring the children who never had a choice to heaven.

I think a true Christian would intervene if they knew of child abuse. They would step in and protect the child. But I don't think God intervenes in most cases because he wants us to be free.

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Geraine
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I am religious, but don't believe in YEC. I am LDS and I do believe in evolution.

I don't believe that God just snapped his fingers and the Earth appeared, complete with humans, animals, plants, oceans, etc. I see God as a scientist. I believe that he did create the earth. Whether that included setting into motion events that caused the Big Bang which then lead to Earth being formed billions of years later or not, I don't know.

Science has explained a lot. Recent studies have furthered theories on the Big Bang. Science still has a problem explaining what came before the big bang. There are only theories and speculations, nothing remotely concrete.

Who knows. Maybe God is a super intelligent being from another dimension that uses science to create his own universes.

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Marlozhan
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
So, to you, God could intentionally make everyone's life a living hell, as long as they all went to heaven afterwards and it wouldn't matter in the slightest?

---

I know you are asking someone else, but I wanted to comment here. All suffering matters. It matters very much. I want my suffering to matter. I want the suffering of every child and person to matter.

In the end, it all boils down to this for me: when I stand before God, if He is anyone worth being called God, then I will be able to gladly say to Him, "It was all worth it now that I am here and I understand what you have in store for me."

On the other hand, if I get there and my suffering was not worth it, then there is a problem.

Every suffering person in this world must have sufficient amends made in the next life if God is a God of love and justice. It seems to me that the problem for us is understanding and enduring the suffering of this life without giving into the belief that "nothing is worth what I am going through." If heaven isn't worth it, then it isn't heaven. If living with God isn't worth it, then He isn't God, in my opinion.

Now, would I ever say to someone else who lives in real poverty, violence, disease, abuse, etc. and say to them, "Buck up, it will be alright in the end?" Hell no. Suffering must be attended to. We must alleviate it the best we can. We must do everything within our power to console and prevent and heal.

But if God really is a God of love, who are we to say that what He has to offer isn't worth it? How can we possibly know the answer to that question with certainty? As a society, we can't even figure out if God is real or not. All we can say is there's no proof he's there and this life is like hell much of the time, so God isn't there, or he isn't just and loving.

What I can tell you is that [speaking only for myself] the suffering I have been through in the past, which I very much wanted to go away NOW when I was in the midst of it, I would not now go back and undo it, because of what I have learned and how I have grown.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
But if God really is a God of love, who are we to say that what He has to offer isn't worth it? How can we possibly know the answer to that question with certainty? As a society, we can't even figure out if God is real or not. All we can say is there's no proof he's there and this life is like hell much of the time, so God isn't there, or he isn't just and loving.
It's a hell of a thing, though, to tell that child whether directly or not, or way of that child, that the suffering *is* worth it. Which is really the only way the so-called Good News works out.

Speaking for myself, it would be much easier to credit these sorts of just, loving God propositions if they didn't all seem to wind up at and start from 'God is loving and God is just, therefore we should take it on faith that these unloving and unjust things are squared in the end.' I cannot see why a deity would give me a mind that recognizes the serious, crippling flaws in such a style of argument for everything else in the world-for all our understanding of dealing with one another and unraveling the mysteries of the universe-but simultaneously expect me to turn that part of my mind off when I'm dealing with this particular deity.

Put another way, why is that child suffering unspeakable torment for the grand experiment of human free will? The Worthing Saga had an answer for that, but at least in that story those offering or withholding safety from that torment were human beings.

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Jeff C.
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Some would use the ripple effect as a counter argument, suggesting that if this happens, then this happens, and then something else happens. In other words, if that little kid dies, maybe in some crazy way, it saves a hundred people later on. Personally, I don't buy it.

I honestly believe that God doesn't get involved in people's lives like that. You can pray all you want, but all it's going to do is give you comfort. He's not just going to wave his hands and fix whatever's wrong. Your football team doesn't win because you pray for it; they win because of the players' choices on the field. Your sickness isn't just prayed away, either; most times, it's fixed because you got the right medicine from a human doctor. You didn't get that scholarship because you asked God for it; you got it because a human being picked it from a stack and made the choice that yours was the best. Why? Because of Free Will.

To further explain what I mean, think about it like this. If you pray to God that you want your wife to change her mind and come back to you, and God does it, he's negating your wife's free will, which makes her a puppet and thus has lost her humanity. The Bible clearly tells us we have a choice in how we live our lives. That's why I think Predestination is a load of crap. What would the point be in living your entire life if the end result is already mapped out? How is it my fault if I end up in Hell if God already knew I was going there? Doesn't that make it God's fault? After all, I never really had a choice in the matter, did I?

Free Will is very important for this reason. God (if you believe in him) can't interfere with human affairs because that would be cheating, and it wouldn't be balanced. It would be immoral and it would imply that humans have no control over their actions, choices, and ultimately their very lives.

I think the world is full of chance and hilarious randomness that makes no sense at all. That's what bothers me about when people say things like "Oh yeah, my wife is leaving me and I just don't know what to do. I prayed and told God that I'm not going to do anything and I'm just going to let him have control and take over. Whatever happens now is because God wanted it to happen." No, I'm sorry, you're wrong. Your wife is leaving you because you failed to do what she asked you to do; she's leaving you because of your actions, not God's, so don't try to blame him when it inevitably fails. Ugh.

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Marlozhan
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
But if God really is a God of love, who are we to say that what He has to offer isn't worth it? How can we possibly know the answer to that question with certainty? As a society, we can't even figure out if God is real or not. All we can say is there's no proof he's there and this life is like hell much of the time, so God isn't there, or he isn't just and loving.
It's a hell of a thing, though, to tell that child whether directly or not, or way of that child, that the suffering *is* worth it. Which is really the only way the so-called Good News works out.

Speaking for myself, it would be much easier to credit these sorts of just, loving God propositions if they didn't all seem to wind up at and start from 'God is loving and God is just, therefore we should take it on faith that these unloving and unjust things are squared in the end.' I cannot see why a deity would give me a mind that recognizes the serious, crippling flaws in such a style of argument for everything else in the world-for all our understanding of dealing with one another and unraveling the mysteries of the universe-but simultaneously expect me to turn that part of my mind off when I'm dealing with this particular deity.

Put another way, why is that child suffering unspeakable torment for the grand experiment of human free will? The Worthing Saga had an answer for that, but at least in that story those offering or withholding safety from that torment were human beings.

My answer to that question about why human agency is so important is that you cannot achieve anywhere near the same amount of eternal joy as you can when you have genuine free will. To be "happy" without free will is akin to the bliss of ignorance, or childlike joy that does not appreciate its own joy.

Maybe I am misunderstanding your point, Rakeesh, but I honestly don't understand why it isn't more apparent that the highest forms of joy in life come from being able to make choices for yourself and getting through hard things. I try to imagine what happiness would look like when you cannot make any choices, and the best thing I can imagine is a spoiled child sitting on a pillow being given everything he wants and never knowing any better. But then again, maybe I misunderstand the point.

As soon as you introduce an ounce of free will into a system, evil is a possibility. Free will is all or nothing. Either you have it or you don't. If you don't have it, the system can run perfectly like a machine, with the inventor being the only one who can truly appreciate it. If you have it, then crap is going to start happening when someone decides to make choices that hurt others.

At that point, there are only four options left: 1) Shut the whole thing down and get rid of agency so that people are safe and comfortable. 2) Let the whole thing run into chaos and misery for all eternity and basically say "F it." 3) Set limits, akin to what we do with criminals in prison, to prevent the bad choosers from hurting others 4) Work with the system until, in the end, you have sifted people into categories where they have proven what kind of choices they want to make and the worst of the worst stay together, the best of the best stay together, and everyone in between is likewise organized. They have all chosen to be where they were, no one was forced, and those who are happy truly appreciate what they have achieved.

Options 3 & 4, or some combination thereof, seem to be what most religions are suggesting God is doing.

And to be clear, I don't believe God inflicts one iota of evil anywhere in the universe. However, He may inflict pain, but only if it leads to ultimate good. After all, an athlete subjects her body to pain to achieve a certain goal. We don't call her evil just because she purposely inflicts pain on herself to get there. Of course, the real suffering of this world is lightyears worse than a sore muscle, but I also believe in a God who has rewards to offer that are lightyears beyond our mortal ability to comprehend.

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Marlozhan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
Some would use the ripple effect as a counter argument, suggesting that if this happens, then this happens, and then something else happens. In other words, if that little kid dies, maybe in some crazy way, it saves a hundred people later on. Personally, I don't buy it.

I honestly believe that God doesn't get involved in people's lives like that. You can pray all you want, but all it's going to do is give you comfort. He's not just going to wave his hands and fix whatever's wrong. Your football team doesn't win because you pray for it; they win because of the players' choices on the field. Your sickness isn't just prayed away, either; most times, it's fixed because you got the right medicine from a human doctor. You didn't get that scholarship because you asked God for it; you got it because a human being picked it from a stack and made the choice that yours was the best. Why? Because of Free Will.

To further explain what I mean, think about it like this. If you pray to God that you want your wife to change her mind and come back to you, and God does it, he's negating your wife's free will, which makes her a puppet and thus has lost her humanity. The Bible clearly tells us we have a choice in how we live our lives. That's why I think Predestination is a load of crap. What would the point be in living your entire life if the end result is already mapped out? How is it my fault if I end up in Hell if God already knew I was going there? Doesn't that make it God's fault? After all, I never really had a choice in the matter, did I?

Free Will is very important for this reason. God (if you believe in him) can't interfere with human affairs because that would be cheating, and it wouldn't be balanced. It would be immoral and it would imply that humans have no control over their actions, choices, and ultimately their very lives.

I think the world is full of chance and hilarious randomness that makes no sense at all. That's what bothers me about when people say things like "Oh yeah, my wife is leaving me and I just don't know what to do. I prayed and told God that I'm not going to do anything and I'm just going to let him have control and take over. Whatever happens now is because God wanted it to happen." No, I'm sorry, you're wrong. Your wife is leaving you because you failed to do what she asked you to do; she's leaving you because of your actions, not God's, so don't try to blame him when it inevitably fails. Ugh.

I don't find it inconceivable to imagine God allowing free will, but also being able to intervene, by inserting circumstances and events in which he knows a certain person will make a certain choice in response to it. Thus, if you pray for someone to come help you when you are stranded on the road, and let's assume God answers your prayer, he could have organized the universe from the moment of inception so that all of the free will choices made by people would lead to there being someone who willingly decided to help you.

Or, if you believe God can speak to people, why not prompt someone, who he knows will choose to listen and act, to come help you.

Then again, you might not get an answer to your prayer, or the one you want. To decide when God should and should not answer prayers is decidedly impossible for beings such as us who cannot even fully comprehend ourselves, let alone the unfathomable complexity of a universe full of innumerable variables.

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DustinDopps
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I like what you've said, Marlozhan.

Recently I prayed to God, "God, I want to be a better man. Please do whatever it takes to mold me into a better Christian, husband, and father. Even if I get in an accident and get paralyzed, if it makes me better, please do it.

Not even a week later, my wife came to me with doubts about our 15-year marriage and how I treated her. It made me question the way I behave, and it made me realize I really wasn't showing her how much I love her.

I believe my prayer was answered. Further, when she was so upset and doubtful, I prayed that God would soften her heart and help her forgive me.

Do I think God took away her free will? No. But I *do* believe that God adjusted her attitude to some degree. Things are going good now and our marriage is actually stronger. And in the meantime, I've found myself being a lot more patient and agreeable when my kids mess up.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do I think God took away her free will? No. But I *do* believe that God adjusted her attitude to some degree.
Can you explain the distinction?
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Jeff C.
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I'm with Tom on this one. If he altered anything about her personality or her attitude, that is an alteration of free will. There's no middle ground. It's either 100% or it's not.

What could be happening is that you're experiencing a spiritual placebo effect. You believe that God is taking your anger and negative feelings away, which is entirely possible, but that belief that it's happening may also be powerful enough on its own. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. People have cured themselves simply because they believed they were cured or that a placebo medicine was working. The opposite is also true, where some people were told they had cancer when they really didn't, and then they actually developed it quickly thereafter.

I'm not saying God isn't helping you on a spiritual level, but I do believe you are giving yourself the patience and the strength to be a better person. Your faith is helping you, because you want it to, and so are your prayers (for the same reason). When your wife asks you to change something about yourself, it's not God who is making that decision for you to change; in fact, it is you and your own willpower. Your wife, conversely, is making her own decision to forgive you. If none of that were true, neither of you would truly have free will, as any alterations to those feelings would take away from the part that makes up your humanity and your right to choose.

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Jake
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
There is knowledge to be had, after all, about the earth, about the sky, about the other elements of this world, about the movements and revolutions or even the magnitude and distances of the constellations, about the predictable eclipses of moon and sun, about the cycles of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, fruits, stones and everything else of this kind. And it frequently happens that even non-Christians will have knowledge of this sort in a way that they can substantiate with scientific arguments or experiments. Now it is quiet disgraceful and disastrous, something to be on one’s guard against at all costs, that they should ever hear Christians spouting what they claim our Christian literature has to say on these topics, and talking such nonsense that they can scarcely contain their laughter when they see them to be toto caelo, as the saying goes, wide of the mark. And what is so vexing is not that misguided people should be laughed at, as that our authors should be assumed by outsiders to have held such views and, to the great detriment of those about whose salvation we are so concerned, should be written off and consigned to the waste paper basket as so many ignoramuses. . . . It is impossible to say what trouble and grief such rash, self-assured know-alls cause the more cautious and experienced brothers and sisters. Whenever they find themselves challenged and taken to task for some shaky and false theory of theirs by people who do not recognize the authority of our books, they try to defend what they have aired with the most frivolous temerity and patent falsehood by bringing forward these same sacred books to justify it. Or they even quote from memory many things said in them which they imagine will provide them with valid evidence, not understanding either what they are saying, or the matters on which they are asserting themselves.
St. Augustine of Hippo. Fourth Century C.E.
Wow, that was interesting, Dana. The more things change, I guess. Which of his writings is that from?
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Marlozhan
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I agree God cannot change anything about you without you choosing to allow it. But when I talk about God influencing people, I am talking about the same way we influence one another, except on a spiritual level. We try to persuade one another all of the time. If I try to change your mind through persuasion, I am not taking away your free will. It is therefore conceivable that God is also capable of spiritual persuasion. In Christian words, God can speak to you through the Holy Spirit and you are left with the option to listen to that prompting or ignore it, just like I can choose to listen to you or ignore you.

However, if you believe that God intervenes in human affairs by flipping a switch to just take away your anger or suddenly make you kind or something, then yes, he is violating free will. But should you ask him to take away your anger, and he does so through his power, he is not violating your will because you asked for it.

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dkw
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Jake, it's from De Genesi ad litteram.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by DustinDopps:
I like what you've said, Marlozhan.

Recently I prayed to God, "God, I want to be a better man. Please do whatever it takes to mold me into a better Christian, husband, and father. Even if I get in an accident and get paralyzed, if it makes me better, please do it.

Not even a week later, my wife came to me with doubts about our 15-year marriage and how I treated her. It made me question the way I behave, and it made me realize I really wasn't showing her how much I love her.

I believe my prayer was answered. Further, when she was so upset and doubtful, I prayed that God would soften her heart and help her forgive me.

Do I think God took away her free will? No. But I *do* believe that God adjusted her attitude to some degree. Things are going good now and our marriage is actually stronger. And in the meantime, I've found myself being a lot more patient and agreeable when my kids mess up.

I don't think God adjusts our attitudes, that would be a form of manipulating our free will.

What I think He DOES do is help us understand or comprehend better. Just as He made you realize that you weren't showing your wife enough love, He may have helped your wife understand your intent to be more loving. Her change in attitude may be just because of that.

While I know God is involved in our lives, I think sometimes we overestimate how much he is involved. While he may provide understanding and comprehension, getting more involved would jeopardize what he is trying to do. Giving your children everything they ask for isn't an effective teaching tool for helping them grow.

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Darth_Mauve
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The creationist said to me, "God created the Bible in hole, perfect, and complete. From it you will find the only truth."

I said to the Creationist, "God created the world, the universe, in hole, perfect, and complete."

I added, "You seek God by reading the translations of generations of imperfect men who edited and changed God's creation over the multiple languages from which it originated and the generations it has crossed. I seek the Truth by understanding God's other creation first hand, with only my errors of translation. And I recognize that I may be in error, so correct those errors when discovered."

I added, "You seek truth in a book of words, whose meanings change as time, distance, and societies change from when they were written to when they were read. I seek truth in the computations of numbers, who's meanings never change, who's sums always stay constant."

Finally I said, "Our views of God are different. But God is infinite. It is our perspectives that are different. If you look upon the ocean from a glacier in Alaska, and from a storm-swept New Zealand during a hurricane, or a foggy morning in San Diego, the Ocean appears to be so different, but it is the same. I do not complain that you look for the Truth in one of God's creations. Why do you complain that I look in another?"

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DustinDopps
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Do I think God took away her free will? No. But I *do* believe that God adjusted her attitude to some degree.
Can you explain the distinction?
Marlozhan and Geraine summed it up pretty well.

My wife is a Christian too. Her heart was hard toward me (which I know is an awkward phrasing, but it's from the Bible) and I prayed for God to soften her heart.

I think God helped her to let go of being stubborn (her words) in her anger toward me. Because she wanted to change, even though wouldn't verbalize that to me. She wanted us to get along. God just made it easier.

----

Of COURSE it's possible that it's just a manifestation of my own body/will/changing attitude. It's entirely possible that I decided to be nicer, and she adjusted her reaction accordingly. But I don't think that's true. :-)

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scifibum
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quote:
Giving your children everything they ask for isn't an effective teaching tool for helping them grow.
You know, I think this highlights something. Within the LDS belief framework, I do think that you can account for suffering of various kinds as a necessary side effect of [hand wave]the nature of mortal probation which is required for eternal progression[/hand wave].

However, the way you've phrased it here does not account for people who DO get everything they want. There are a few people who lead charmed lives, who have wealth and comfort and everything they want. Some of these people are atheists.

Is God being ineffective in how he's using teaching tools to help these people grow?

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Jeff C.
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
The creationist said to me, "God created the Bible in hole, perfect, and complete. From it you will find the only truth."

I said to the Creationist, "God created the world, the universe, in hole, perfect, and complete."

I added, "You seek God by reading the translations of generations of imperfect men who edited and changed God's creation over the multiple languages from which it originated and the generations it has crossed. I seek the Truth by understanding God's other creation first hand, with only my errors of translation. And I recognize that I may be in error, so correct those errors when discovered."

I added, "You seek truth in a book of words, whose meanings change as time, distance, and societies change from when they were written to when they were read. I seek truth in the computations of numbers, who's meanings never change, who's sums always stay constant."

Finally I said, "Our views of God are different. But God is infinite. It is our perspectives that are different. If you look upon the ocean from a glacier in Alaska, and from a storm-swept New Zealand during a hurricane, or a foggy morning in San Diego, the Ocean appears to be so different, but it is the same. I do not complain that you look for the Truth in one of God's creations. Why do you complain that I look in another?"

I really like this. I'm stealing it!
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
My cousin believes in YEC.

We've banned the topic at Thanksgiving.

That's how you deal with it.

Bravo. [Hat]
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Of COURSE it's possible that it's just a manifestation of my own body/will/changing attitude. It's entirely possible that I decided to be nicer, and she adjusted her reaction accordingly.
Out of interest, why wouldn't you have tried being nicer first?
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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Giving your children everything they ask for isn't an effective teaching tool for helping them grow.
You know, I think this highlights something. Within the LDS belief framework, I do think that you can account for suffering of various kinds as a necessary side effect of [hand wave]the nature of mortal probation which is required for eternal progression[/hand wave].

However, the way you've phrased it here does not account for people who DO get everything they want. There are a few people who lead charmed lives, who have wealth and comfort and everything they want. Some of these people are atheists.

Is God being ineffective in how he's using teaching tools to help these people grow?

Well, IMO, everybody gets the set of trials that tries them individually. Everybody has circumstances, good or bad, that they must deal with. You never know what a wealthy person with all the comforts of life is privately facing, what they want that they don't have, and how they are growing from what they are facing. And not everyone is going through a crisis at the same time. The "trial" might also be one in which you are doing well but have the opportunity to help someone who is not. And an atheist might respond to this admirably, and a theist poorly.
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scifibum
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You can justify suffering if you really want to. I don't think you can map instances of suffering or getting-what-you-want to a series of decisions about what is or isn't a good teaching tool without running into logical contradictions.
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