5 responses to badness
I’m so bad. I may look pretty good but when I or anyone look close enough, I’m really pretty bad. My selfish self is dreadful and demanding, and ugly. But I nurture and obey it anyway. I seek my comfort and prefer my desires and favor my needs. I’m very good to my self…and that’s why I’m bad.
Can anyone relate? I think it’s probably safe to say multitudes can. And that we respond to the recognition of our badness in one or more of at least five ways.
- We pretend we never saw it. And we resolve to ignore it if ever dares to raise its ugly head again.
- We disregard it because we are disinterested in it and undisturbed by it. We don’t care.
- We do care and resolve to do better and be better and balance out our badness with goodness.
- We resign ourself to its unpleasant reality and ascribe to a belief system that promises its eventual eradication through secular humanism or reincarnation and karma.
- We throw ourselves on the mercy of God and receive his complete forgiveness, as well as his very Spirit which empowers us to really be good.
Which response we choose is largely dependent on our worldview, one that addresses the big questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Is our existence the result of random chance? Then one is perfectly rational in indifference. Is our destiny dependent on a God with a cosmic scale? Then we’re going to work hard until we’re relatively confident our good deeds outweigh our bad. Hopefully.
Have we found faith in an all-powerful, loving God to be irrational because of the reality of suffering and evil in the world, and the often unloving attitudes and deeds of his professed followers? Then a rejection of theism seems a coherent response. But if rationality and coherence are valued, your atheistic worldview should be expected to exhibit both. Do you have good evidence for what you believe? Do you have an objective standard to determine what is “right”? Do you have a viable explanation for how anything came to be without a transcendent creator?
I don’t like being confronted with my own badness. But my Christian worldview, based on good physical and philosophical evidence, gives me a clear and coherent explanation for its persistent presence as well as an eternal plan for victory over it. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a God who loves me and desires my love in return. So he gave me a precious but dangerous gift, one that if used in submission to him would bring me joy and fulfillment on earth and eternal bliss in Heaven. But if used without regard for him would result in pain, distress, grief and suffering for me, as well as grief for him. And could separate me forever from him and the happiness I was created for.
Your badness and mine persist because WE persist in abusing the gift of our free will. We too often use it to serve our selves instead of serving God by loving him and loving our neighbor. But he knew we would and because of his great love for us forgives us when we recognize our badness and submit to him in faith. Then he unites his Spirit with ours giving us power to refuse to obey our self’s selfish demands. But that power has to be appropriated by our will which remains free to choose the self.
There are those whose lives exhibit the selflessness God desires who will yet be eternally separated from him because they thumb their nose at and refuse the remedy he has provided for their sin, because we’ve all been bad at some time, and will be again. And there are those who are far too often selfish but will be where he is eternally because they have humbled themselves in faith and trust and said, “yes, please” to the remedy. To some this is the paradoxical capriciousness of an unjust God. But in truth it is the merciful provision of a loving Savior who entered into our very bad world to suffer and die for our good. And who doesn’t require perfect obedience…only true, trusting faith.
4 and 5 are the same response. And as for your four responses I think you will find more variation within group then you will find between groups
Well, that’s an interesting comment. In what way are 4 and 5 the same?
You resign yourself to you won’t live up to your ideals. And you find a belief system that promises to eradicate it.
The difference, i suppose, is in secular humanism it is on the individual to be good, and in Hinduism in order for dharma, karma, reincarnation, and moksha to work you also have to be good. As you pointed out there is no such requirement in Christianity.
Yes, as Ravi Zacharias says in response to the claim that all religions are fundamentally similar and superficially different…on the contrary, the religions are superficially similar and fundamentally different. Number 4 is a non-theistic response, and 5 is the natural response of orthodox Christian theism. That alone makes them hardly “the same response.” And as you noted, in 4 the onus is on the individual to somehow atone for or work to progress from badness to goodness, but in Christianity we know we have no hope of a salvation of our own making and gratefully receive the atonement God himself provides.
If you don’t mind my asking, do you see yourself in any of these responses, or can you offer a sixth?
I would best say I fit in with #3, just without the balancing of the cosmic scales. But what self respecting person wouldn’t say they fit in with #3? Even in Christianity you sin, you ask for forgiveness, and you promise to do better (not by yourself of course, but through the grace of God)
I was using “theism” in the sense of monotheism and Hinduism is generally considered polytheistic. But nevertheless, though both 4 and 5 are appeals to a belief system in the struggle against badness, as are 2 and 3 also, the beliefs and how our lives integrate with them are different. And I said that my five ways was not an exhaustive list. But actually you condensed it into only three.
I’m not sure what is “telling” about my “philosophy” unless you’re implying that the Christian doctrine of the atonement gives me a license to sin and is a deterrent against progressing from badness to goodness. Is that what you meant?
I’m not sure why you would try to lump nontheists and polytheists together, but while Hinduism is generally considered polytheistic I do have at least one Hindu friend who would argue with that statement, and I know Muslims who would argue that Christianity is polytheistic, so I guess it is a matter of perspective.
Not trying to be ornery or anything but I don’t think 2 and 3 are all that similar, if anything 1 and 2 could be lumped together, which is what I did when I condensed your 5 responses down to 3.
In a nutshell, yes that is what I meant. Although I would argue that Christian doctrine doesn’t give you a license to do that, “fruit of the spirit” and “faith without works is dead” among other passages would suggest that those who ascribe to such a philosophy don’t actually have a relationship with Jesus and therefor are not saved (The grammar junkie in me prevented the atheist is me from scare quoting the crap out of that).
I would argue though that emphasizing progressing away from badness then transitioning to salvation perpetuates that false notion of “licence to sin” and may be telling about your approach to religion in a Freudian slip kind of way. I don’t know you so I’m not trying to be accusatory (my general online demeanor is kind of abrasive, I apologize for that) but it might be an area you might want to consider engaging in some self reflection.
I appreciate your honesty resulting from your own self-reflection, and I assure you I do plenty of that also. I admitted my own struggle with selfishness and such, and it sounds like you struggle as well. As an atheist you’ve probably been challenged with this before, but I’m interested to know how you answer it: what is your standard or foundation for determining what is good/right or bad/wrong?
I get my morals from the same place you do. Think about it, I imagine you find slavery to be morally reprehensible, where do you get that moral belief? It’s not from the bible, slavery is explicitly permitted in the bible, you can start with Leviticus 25:44-46 and move on to dozens more after that. So your morality may significantly overlap with the bible but it is not explicitly biblical.
Every major religion from Hinduism (the oldest continuously practiced religion in the world) and Zoroastrianism (which was the primary religion practiced in Persia during the Jews Babylonian captivity have their own versions of the golden rule.
I wonder why it is that nobody asks Hindus where they get their morals from. I mean obviously they get them from their holy books, but their holy books are not actually holy from a Christian perspective. Most Buddhists are atheists, nobody asks where they get their morals from. Somebody, or a group of somebodies sat down and wrote some codes of behavior and other people agreed to follow them.
All of that to say morals are socially constructed through a myriad of processes from collective conscious to utilitarianism. Virtually everyone who isn’t a psychopath agrees on the big things. Don’t kill someone, definitely don’t eat someone, ect. And that’s enough to keep society functioning, and we have laws for those who are incapable of morality (psychopaths) those who disagree or for when people fail to live up to their own ideals.
So where do I get my morals? I trust in humanity, we don’t always get it right, but we can self correct and tend to move in the right direction. The last time we realized the bible got something wrong we had to fight a civil war to self correct. Killed more Americans than in both the world wars combined.
I didn’t ask where you get your morals from, I asked what is your standard or on what do you base them. I’m assuming, of course, that you believe in objective morality…it sounds like you do. There have been (and probably still are) cannibalistic societies. On what grounds do you judge them? If you were to go to them and say, “Hey man, you shouldn’t eat people” and they say, ‘Oh yeah, says who?” what do you say?
Or to those cultures who believe genital mutilation is good and right and benefits their society, what objective standard do you have by which to judge the practice as wrong and tell them they shouldn’t be doing it?
I just explicitly said the morals are socially constructed, which pretty much stipulates I thin
k morals are subjective. I may concede that there might be a “best” moral solution to any given situation that would hold consistent in any given era. But no one has any definite understanding of what that best moral solution is.
Sure we all like to judge history based on our own current understanding, it’s a form of chronological snobbery, if you are familiar with C. S. Lewis’ term. 500 years from now your descendants may look back and think “what kind of monsters would slaughter millions of animals for meat when they could have just (insert random future technology here).”
Or we can get into a cultural snobbery and we can judge cannibalistic societies in India, but who is to say that eating someone is morally wrong everywhere? Broadly speaking in western culture we have notions of families needing closure and burial/funeral practices are the best way to achieve that. It isn’t an affront to the dead person to eat them, it is an affront to the friends and family of the dead person who are seeking closure. That’s our culture, but if a culture were to be built around cannibalism as a funeral practice who is to say that culture isn’t better off, happier, psychologically healthier? Who are they hurting? The dead person is dead.
As far as my personal standard. It’s pretty simple. It can be summed up as don’t be a dick (sorry to be crass). The simplified process is: do the most amount of good for the most people, do good, don’t do harm, do the least amount of harm to the most people. If things are still murky there is always “would I like it if it happened to me,” and better yet, “would they like it if it happened to them” Morality is not rocket science, good and bad can be expressed mathematically as a net positive or a net negative, you don’t need divine inspiration to know what is a benefit for someone and what is a negative.
I would love to dive into FGM, but I’ve run out of time for this morning, perhaps another time. But I would like to ask you the same questions. Do you believe in objective morality and what is your standard?
If you “concede that there might be a ‘best’ moral solution” then you are implicitly affirming that there is an objective standard by which to judge everyone’s subjective standards.
The fact that a culture’s practices and what it considers moral and immoral may change over time does not mean that objective morality changes. If 500 years from now a society arose that believed it was perfectly moral to torture and rape little children for fun, would you feel justified in judging them?
Your personal standard is fine, as far it goes. But your moral intuition that guides you into not being a…you know…is still only the way you perceive right and wrong. Without an objective standard by which to judge an action or attitude or emotion like love or hatred, I could say to you, “There’s nothing wrong with slavery. My slave is much better off than he would be free, so it’s good for both of us,” and you would have nothing but your intuition to appeal to in judging my enslaving of another human being as immoral. But I would simply say, “Well, my intuition tells me otherwise. So there.”
“good and bad can be expressed mathematically as a net positive or a net negative, you don’t need divine inspiration to know what is a benefit for someone and what is a negative.” Actually this is one of the deficiencies of the “human flourishing” argument for objective morality. We are in no position to know what is “good for the most people.” Trials and suffering are often good for us, though at the time they would be considered “bad.” And take something like abortion…many women and abortion-rights supporters believe it’s in the woman’s best interest to end the life of her child, if she wasn’t planning on it. But how do any of us know if that child might be the very best thing ever for this woman, something that would change her life for the better in ways no one could predict? I’m sure that that’s happened many, many times.
Yes, I do believe in objective morality (in case it’s not obvious by now) and God is the standard. He creates each of us with that moral intuition, or conscience, by which we ascertain right and wrong.
:sigh: Okay let’s start with I did not say “I concede there is a best moral solution” what I said was “I might concede that there may be a ‘best’ moral solution.” With the former your conclusion that there being an objective standard from which to judge everyone’s subjective standards would necessarily follow. The problem is, what I actually said included 3 hedges (I might, there may, and scare quotes around best). A hedge is a linguistic tool to lessen the impact of a statement. I did not concede that there was objective morality, I only left the door open a crack that the possibility of objective morality might exist. I then followed that statement up with if such a thing did exist nobody knows what it is, which would make it hard to use it to judge everyone’s subjective standards. I would appreciate it if you would read what I say and not put words into my mouth. Thank you.
For sake of argument let’s say that objective morality does exist. I still stand by no one actually knows what that objective morality is though. I know you (and every other religion) believe you have a divine mandate, but we will chat about that a little bit later. I believe my subjective morality matches the unknowable objective morality pretty closely, I could be wrong on any number of things, based on the scientific information currently available I believe abortion to be morally permissible (there are caveats I could get into here, but that would take us down a different road). There might be new information available tomorrow to make me reconsider that view. I doubt it, but it is possible. But again, on most of the big like raping and torturing children we agree, because it doesn’t take rocket science or divine inspiration to figure out that torture does not do the most amount of good or the least amount of harm (of course not all of our presidential candidates would agree with that, but that is another tangent). So yes I absolutely feel justified in judging a culture that believes in raping and torturing children.
You are approaching and attempting to disprove my moral system one tenant at the time. That is not the way it works, they all work in conjunction with one another. Furthermore I am not making moral decisions based on my intuition in a vacuum. My intuition is based on my culture and my experiences in the world, what thinkers I have internalized and many more intangibles. It’s called a collective conscious.
America that we know today wouldn’t exist without slavery, so even beyond slavery being good for you and the individual slave in question you could argue that slavery created a net positive for the country, or even the world (depending on your opinion of America). Armed with that information you could say that there was nothing wrong with slavery, and I would say “so, would you like to be a slave?” to which you would respond “no.” And that how we know slavery is morally wrong.
Trials can produce benefits I don’t disagree. Mathematically that can be expressed as -1 + 1=0. So after a trial you receive a benefit you break even (which is better than undergoing a trial and receiving no benefit which leaves you at -1). But if we subtract the trial out of the equation and leave the benefit, which can be expressed like this (-(-1))+1=2 you are substantially better off. So shouldn’t we strive to maintain benefits without inflicting trials and suffering.
When you move into abortion you are discussing opportunity cost, once you chose one path to go down, you will never know for sure what opportunities you lost in that choosing. Yes its possible her life might exponentially improve in ways no one could have predicted, it’s also just as possible that she gets cast into poverty, her child gets a crap education and an underfunded inner-city school, he then gets involved with drugs and gangs and she gets killed in a drive by shooting 15 years later because of her son’s criminal activity.
It’s actually not obvious that Christians believe in objective morality. I mean it is obvious that Christians believe they believe in objective morality but from my perspective it doesn’t appear they’ve really thought it through all the way.
Here let’s start with you just said you believe that God creates each of us with a moral intuition, after you just spent the previous paragraphs trashing my intuition. (actually, biblically speaking God doesn’t create with a moral intuition, that is a by-product of Eve eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We should all say thank you to Eve, but that is another tangent). But hey, my moral intuition has been tainted by the devil, on account that I am an atheist so we can discount me. Currently the united Methodist church is split on whether or not to accept same-sex marriage, so all of those good Christians on either side of that fight what is going on with their moral intuition? There are around 40 major Christian denominations who all believe in slight variations to Christianity how far into True Christianity ™ are you willing to venture, and are you positive you have the right one?
You mention slavery, child rape in such a way to indicate you disapprove of such concepts. How confident are you those views are Biblical? Here is the thing with objective morality, as you said just because what a culture views as moral or immoral over time, does not mean objective morality changes over time, in fact it can’t change over time, objective morality is by definition constant. So if God is your standard for objective morality, and if God has ever issued a command or law that command or law must therefore be at very least morally permissible if not morally good.
Exodus 12- you may buy slaves with money (the Hebrews aren’t even out of Egypt escaping their own slavery yet)
Exodus 21- laws regulating slavery, including you can sell your daughter into slavery and you can beat your slaves, both male and female, within a few inches of their life without recourse.
Leviticus 25:44-46- you may buy slaves and pass them down to your children as an inheritance forever.
Deuteronomy 20:10-15- when you go to war, offer to make peace by subjecting the entire city to forced labor, if that doesn’t work kill all the men, keep the women and children and slaves for yourself.
Child rape, is a pleasant subject, what is our cut off here? A number of Rabbis argue that the talmund allows for sexual intercourse with girls as young as 3 years and a day. Look into it is pretty scary. Obviously other people strongly dispute that, and it is fairly conspiracy theorist so let’s forget that I brought it up. Nobody can argue that the typical age for a Jewish woman to be betrothed at was 12. God himself impregnated a girl probably no older than 13. Are you morally comfortable with any 13 year old boy or girl having sex? A 40 year old man could marry a 13 year old girl and while I think you and I would agree that would be rape, biblically speaking, in God’s eyes he isn’t doing anything morally wrong.
We can also go back and look at Deuteronomy 20:10-15 again, there is an implied sexual slavery there. I mean they take them to be “wives” but consent under threat of death isn’t really consent, and of course there is the whole polygamy aspect of it as well, but my moral intuition has been tainted by the devil so what do I know.
Same thing with Numbers 31, only this time God claims 32 virgins for himself (the priest conveniently ends up with them).
Do you really want to stick with God is your standard? I mean there are other fun things like God sending two bears to maul 42 young boys if we want to talk about child torture.
Some Christians will argue “But Jesus!” okay one, Jesus is God, so anything God did in the OT Jesus did as well. And two, that’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s say that Jesus did update the objective morality, so your morality may be constant based on an individual, but you are admitting that that individual’s morality is subjective, and therefore your morality is subject to change at any time. And since you believe that Jesus created your moral intuition how do you argue with a Christian who believe that same-sex marriage should or shouldn’t be accepted maybe that individual is just better at talking with Jesus then you are. How do you know?
The supposed moral superiority of God/the Bible/Christianity is beyond laughable to me.
I apologize if I misrepresented your belief, but what you said I said is not what I said. So, “I would appreciate it if you would read what I say and not put words into my mouth. Thank you.”
However you want to hedge it, the issue is whether or not objective morality exists, not whether or how one can know it. Sure, you can say that everyone should be able to “figure out that torture does not do the most amount of good or the least amount of harm,” but by what standard is any act or behavior determined to be good or harmful? Apart from God we are all products of chance and random mutations with no more inherent value than the dead cow we ate for lunch. The child rapist may sense the immorality of his deed because he has a God-given conscience, but on naturalism one would be hard-pressed to present a rational case, apart from man-made laws based on the moral law, why he SHOULD do good and not harm.
According to this logic —> “you could say that there was nothing wrong with slavery, and I would say ‘so, would you like to be a slave?’ to which you would respond ‘no.’ And that how we know slavery is morally wrong,” you could ask a contented, successful career woman if she would like to be a mother to which she would respond “no” and then conclude that motherhood is morally wrong.
Your moral mathematics is fuzzy. If you subtract the -1 from your equation you have -1 +1 -1 which equals -1. If you remove the trial from the equation you would have to add 1 and then your sum would be 1, not 2. But this doesn’t work in real life situations anyway. You can’t quantify all trials and benefits as equal and some benefits can only be gained through trials.
How can you say I trashed your intuition when I actually affirmed it? And the fact that different people conclude differently based on their moral intuition does not call into question the reality of the conscience but rather demonstrates how other factors like upbringing, relative knowledge, and the will affect it.
Regarding all your accusations of moral atrocities in the Bible, a proper understanding of the text, which requires time, study, and an acknowledgement of the reality of God, leads to conclusions very different than those desired and sought by atheists who want to disprove him. But keeping to the issue at hand again, without the existence of God there is no standard for judging any of those deeds to be immoral.
Where did I misrepresent what you said? I apologize if I did so, but I can’t correct my errors if you don’t provide the evidence
Yes, the issue is whether objective morality does exist or not, the problem is I can’t prove that it doesn’t exist, and you can’t prove that it does exist, which leaves us to quibble about how we can know whether such a thing exists or not. All you can provide is objective morality exists because of the bible, and the bible is true because the bible says the bible is true. That’s not good enough for me. I am admittedly dealing in intangibles, we are discussing objective morality, intangibles are kind of necessary. But I am dealing in accept social processes. We have morals because socially we agree these are our morals. The government only has power because socially we agree that the government has power (we then gave it things like tanks so now it can maintain its own power). The Bible, Quran, the Vedas, only have power because people socially agree they have power. We should do good, not harm, because we agree that we should do good not harm, and we agree because we see that doing good creates benefits and doing harm creates damages. And as rational beings (by whatever mechanism caused that) benefits are obviously desirable over damages.
You seem to be trying to disparage evolution and naturalism by stating that “we are all products of chance and random mutations,” you are only telling half the story there. Various traits are the products of random mutations that is true. But any living thing from humans to gnats to fungus is not a product of mere chance. Most mutations produce traits that are non beneficial or even detrimental to an individual of a species. The traits that do survive either increase the likelihood of natural selection or sexual selection. Is there chance involved? Sure in the same way whether or not a tornado hits your house, it’s a force of nature.
Intrinsic value is necessarily secular. Intrinsic value is the idea that something has value for its own sake. If we have intrinsic value because God gave it to us, it is no longer intrinsic, the value comes from the act of God giving it to us.
As I mentioned previous you keep trying to disprove my moral system one tenet at a time, it doesn’t work that way, it all works in conjunction with itself. If our career woman didn’t want to be a mother we would then ask if motherhood did harm, no it does not. Does motherhood do good. Yes it does. We would conclude that motherhood is at least morally neutral if not morally good.
My moral mathematics is not fuzzy. Not to be rude but your understanding of basic math is lacking. You are adding a negative one (which is representing a trial) to the equation. So your equation is actually expressing someone who has gone through two trials and only received one benefit which leaves that individual at a net negative. I’m subtracting the negative from the equation and when you subtract a negative you get a positive which is how the equation ends up with two. Plug it into a calculator or google, it will spit out the right answer. And yes you can do it for real life situations, it is obviously overly simplified and yes there are intangibles you wouldn’t be able to account for, but as a basic structure it works.
I can say you trashed my intuition because you minimized it, implied that it was worthless without the backing of an objective standard.
You are right the fact that people conclude differently based on their moral intuition does not call into question the reality of the conscience. It calls into questions the reality of a God-given conscious. If our conscious is supposed to be based on a standard of unchanging objective morality based on an unchanging moral God, then everybody, no matter their geographic location or position in the flow of time should have the same moral intuition. If slavery was moral, you should know innately that it was even if you didn’t wish to engage in the practice yourself.
A proper understanding of the bible? Really? Answer me truthfully, did you know half of those verses existed? Did you even bother to go and look them up after I pointed them out to you? Do not tell me I have not put in the proper time or study of the Bible.
What you are saying when you say I haven’t put in the proper time or study to understand the text or that I need to acknowledge the reality of God (because you need the caveat that God works in mysterious ways and we may not understand it now, but one day it will all make sense in order the Bible to make any sense at all) is that there are certain situations, where invading a town, killing a 12 year old girl’s entire family, raping her repeatedly for the rest of her life and making her bare your children is okay. You think there are certain times, certain places, certain situations where that is morally okay to do.
There is no Context that makes Leviticus 25:44-46 okay
Leviticus 25:44-46 (ESV)
44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.
There is no context that makes Exodus 21:20-21 okay
20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.
I can go on and on and on.
“I can’t correct my errors if you don’t provide the evidence.” I didn’t think I needed to since it’s pretty obvious if you just read what you said I said when you said I misrepresented you. But here you go:
ME: If you “concede that there might be a ‘best’ moral solution” then you are implicitly affirming that there is an objective standard…
YOU: I did not say “I concede there is a best moral solution”
You are further misrepresenting me by saying, “All you can provide is objective morality exists because of the bible.” I have not argued the reality of objective morality from the Bible. I have argued it from the innate awareness we have that some things are really, objectively wrong.
“We have morals because socially we agree these are our morals.” Then on what basis do we judge the societies that agree FGM is good? I don’t want to keep going back and forth over the same things. Without an objective standard for morals and duties we cannot judge any individual’s or society’s determination of what is acceptable, right, or good.
We have intrinsic value because God created us in his image, not because he simply decided to give it to us. It is a value that random mutations, chance and natural selection do not provide.
I still say you can’t use math the way you did. You’re right that my adding a -1 did not represent subtracting the trial out of the equation. But what it should be is -1 +1 -(-1) and that still equals one.
Now, “not to be rude,” you say, but without knowing me at all you suggest that I am totally unfamiliar with those passages and my only explanation of them is that “God works in mysterious ways.” I am and have been well aware of them so did not need to “bother to go and look them up.” I said that one needs to acknowledge the reality of God for proper understanding of the text because without that it makes no sense. For example, without the reality of a holy, creator God who chose the Israelites to represent him, the dietary and other restrictions become pointless.
And without a bias against the notion of a sovereign God of the universe, one doesn’t extrapolate from the text nonsense like the charge that it condones rape, and then flat-out tell me that I think “there are certain times, certain places, certain situations where that is morally okay to do.”
As for slavery in the Bible, this is a primary issue that requires more than a simple reading of the text to understand. Slavery in Old Testament times was nothing like slavery in the antebellum South where people of one particular race were kidnapped for slaves. It was often more like indentured servanthood, an arrangement for poor people to provide for themselves and their families by “selling” themselves to another, or to work as a slave to pay off a debt. Slavery was common among the different nations and God’s directions were for regulating a practice that he allowed but was not his desire. When we read verses that say one man could “buy” another we naturally think that implies the one “bought” is at the very least inferior, if not less than human. But when you read it in the context of the entire Bible you know that’s not the case. God makes no distinction between persons in their worth as human beings, and even within Exodus 21 you see that.
Gen 1:27 – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” There’s no favoring one race, economic status, or gender. In Isaiah 58 God says, “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Job 31:13-15 – “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant, when they brought a complaint against me, what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb? Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Here are a few links with more info, if you really want to understand: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201102/201102_108_slavery.htm.cfm http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201103/201103_124_OTSlave.cfm
But I hasten to point out once again…without the inherent value that only being created in God’s image provides, you can’t really objectively establish the immorality of slavery.
Perhaps the most important truth that a skeptical reading of the Bible would not grasp is that God’s dealings with man are aimed primarily at reconciling us to himself, not to create a perfect world here and abolish all injustices. As sinners we screw things up and he lets us live in a screwed-up world because we freely chose it and he honors our free will.
I’m going to let you have the last word, if you want to take it. I haven’t the time to debate atheists who seem bent only on provoking and arguing. (see my post here)
Number 4 isn’t a non theistic response, secular humanism is non theistic sure, shoot Buddhism is non theistic sure. Hinduism on the other hand is decidedly theistic.
4 and 5 are still the same response. It is turning to a religion or philosophy to deal with the problem of “badness.” If you are going to differentiate on the basis of religious approaches there isn’t 5 responses there are thousands. You need responses the Muslim and jew, and the satanist and the pagan, so on and so forth.
I like how between your versions of 4 and 5 you transition from progressing from bad to good to receiving atonement with no progression. I think that is telling about your philosophy.
I stand by what i said, you are going to find more variation within group then between groups. You are going to find people who ignore the “badness,” people who determine to do better on their own, and people who throw themselves into their religion/philosophy as the solution, whether you are examining atheists, or Christians.
Hey, byblacksheep…I’ve got a very busy weekend that starts today. I’d like to and intend to respond to your latest comments, but it will have to wait till next week.