Thursday, July 12, 2012

Credo: The Gate May be Straight, but the Way Is Not So Narrow

The purpose of creating the Church of Camwell is to give people a viable and reasonable atlernative to the major world religions of today.  Although I hope this benefits all peoples in all places, the Church of Camwell will mostly appeal to those who see the hypocrisy, logical fallacies, and blatant contradictions that exist in the organized religions of today.

Much of the ideas found in the Church of Camwell are not original ideas.  You will find that the Church of Camwell borrows from thousands of years of human philosophy and religion.  So don't be surprised if you find yourself agreeing with some of the beliefs we espouse.

There is no ritual in this Church, nor is there any such thing as an ordained minister.  There is no notion of evangelism because the Church of Camwell does not actively seek membership, nor is there any concept of conversion.  We do not ask for your allegience, and we don't even ask that you renounce the religious heritage that you identify with.

All we ask is that you keep an open mind and engage in the discussion.  The only ritual in this curch is discussion itself: rational discussion that is not interested in rivals trying to prove each other wrong, but rather men and women in fellowship together engaging in the discovery of Universal Truth.  Since rational discussion is meant for all peoples in all times, that means everyone is able to partake in the ritual without special qualification or credential.

Should the Church of Camwell become a legitimate movement with me as its leader, I make my solemn vow that any moneys that are ever donated to the Church of Camwell will be given back to the community and donated to worthy charitable causes.  I, Jack Camwell, will never keep even one single penny for myself.  I will only consider taking donations if in the future we grow to a point where our members collectively can make a tangible contribution to society.

There are 5 basic beliefs that define the core of the Church of Camwell:

1.  There is a Creator.

2.  There is Universal Truth.

3.  No single text has all the answers.

4.  Doubt strengthens Faith.

5.  We must be good and do good.

L. Ron Hubbard
This guy might be crazy, but I'm not.
Over the next week, I will post articles that address each of these 5 core beliefs.  But for right now we will briefly expound upon the Church of Camwell's single sentence credo: The gate may be straight, but the way is not so narrow.

This is a play on a verse found in Matthew's Gospel in the New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible.  The verse reads "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way" (Matthew 7:14).  The notion is that there is only one way into heaven, and it's incredibly specific.

Here in the Church of Camwell, we believe that if indeed there is a heaven, an all-loving God would not have created humans to be so doubtful and thoughtful if he knew that 99% of them would never make it into heaven because of their "flawed" beliefs.  So the idea is that the path to heaven, if such a place even exists, is pretty wide.

There is a lot of good found in rival religions.  We don't believe that "anything goes."  The gate is straight indeed, because being a good person is paramount.  However, the road to Salvation is not based on the ideas of one single religion.  So in the Church of Camwell, Jesus provides a route to Salvation that is just as legitimates as Mohammed's which is just as legitimate as Sidhartha Gautama's path.

This is not a rationalization to make ourselves feel better.  This idea is based in logic.  If God loves all of us dearly, and wants us all to be happy forever, then why would God make the path to Him so narrow?  If you have a child, imagine that you have the chance to decide whether or not your child is allowed to spend eternity with you in paradise. 

How would you make that decision?  What sort of qualifications would you make?  Would your child have to have refrained from alcohol all his life?  Would you require that your child worship you?  Would your child have to be heterosexual?  Would your child have to do everything you say and completely submit to your will?

We all know your answer to each of those questions: no.  You love your children, and you would never condemn them to an eternity of torture simply because they didn't listen to you, especially if they lived decent lives.  You would allow them to spend eternity in bliss with you, because you love them and want them to be happy, regardless of their flaws.  The Church of Camwell believes that this is how God feels about humanity.  He loves us intensely, just as parents love their children.

So chew on that while you await the explication of our core beliefs.

84 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

"If God loves all of us dearly, and wants us all to be happy forever, then why would God make the path to Him so narrow?"

Why would he put us through trials? Why would he even make us go through this vale of tears. Why wouldn't he just bring us to heaven and dispose of the whole human experience?

Jack Camwell said...

A God who is benevolent would not put his creation through trials. The things that happen in the world happen randomly, not because God willed them to happen.

This life is not a test, it's an experience.

Why did you bring children into the world? Again, would you disown them and condemn them to torture if they didn't love you back?

Jack Camwell said...

I don't ask these questions for my health, Silver. I ask them because I expect people to answer them if they are serious about engaging in the discussion.

Silverfiddle said...

A God who is benevolent would not put his creation through trials.

Ergo, God is not benevolent, according to your standard.

Jack Camwell said...

You either missed the point entirely or you're trying to trip me up?

I've said all along that things happen randomly, and that God has nothing to do with the shit that goes on.

And my point is that a purely benevolent being would NOT do such things to something he loves.

The good thing about my argument is that logic can't prove me wrong. The reason is because you can't prove that God is behind the trials we face any more than I can prove that God is benevolent.

Silverfiddle said...

And my point is that a purely benevolent being would NOT do such things to something he loves.

How can you presume to know the mind of an omnipotent and omniscient creator?

Is your human logic God's logic? Does he conform to our standards?

I'm not trying to trip you up. I am asking questions that follow from your credo.

Jack Camwell said...

It would stand to reason that human logic and the logic of an omni-everything being would be similar.

Think about it: the narrowmindedness is definitely a human trait. Do we really think that an all powerful God honestly gives a shit if you dunk yourself in the water? Probably not.

There is reason and logic in this physical existence, the existence that I believe was created by God. So it would stand to reason that the being that created all of this would also be reasonable and logical.

Of course I can't say for certain, but I've already hinted at that. To simply say "Oh well we just can't explain the contradictions in the Bible because we can't understand God's logic," is a complete cop-out, and you know it.

The rational explanation is that a benevolent God would not try to trick his beloved creations into eternal damnation and fire.

This is why I asked the question: would you send your children to torture chambers if they didn't love you? The answer is probably "no." Why? Because that would be insane and selfish. Do you really think that an omni-everything being would be so petty?

In Catholicism, the idea is that love is something God wants us to experience because that's the love he has for us. So if that intense love is indeed the love God has for us, then it would stand to reason that God would not send us to eternal torture just because we didn't love him back.

If you need Biblical shit to make you feel better about it, then think about what Paul said: "Love is caring, love is kind . . ." etc.. I think it even says that love is not selfish. Punishing someone for not loving you back is incredibly selfish.

If your conception of God is what is true, then I will gladly stand before God and tell him, to his ethereal face, that he's a hypocritical, childish asshole.

Silverfiddle said...

"It would stand to reason that human logic and the logic of an omni-everything being would be similar.

Think about it: the narrowmindedness is definitely a human trait."


You just contradicted yourself. Either we think like God or we don't. You did say similar, which gives you an out.

So how do you judge which human behaviors are like God's and which are not?

And you speak of Paul? The man who said homosexuals and adulterers won't enter the kingdom of heaven?

I thought you had cast him aside?

Jack Camwell said...

You're right, I did give myself an out. So since I said that our logic and a deity's logic are likely to be similar, I didn't contradict myself.

Here's a short list of behaviors that are probably exclusive to humanity: antything that is petty or hypocritical is probably not God-like.

As I said on your blog, I cast aside those of Paul's teachings that contradict Jesus' ministry. I mostly cast aside his zealot bullshit.

But I'd be silly to throw him aside completely, because he does have some good things to say.

Teresa said...

"I've said all along that things happen randomly, and that God has nothing to do with the shit that goes on."

You don't believe that prayers can bring healing? Or in miracles? That God allows certain things to happen 1) because we have free will and 2)to teach us a lesson? Do you believe that God has the ability to guide us so that we may know and do what is good?

Jack Camwell said...

No, Teresa, I don't believe prayer can bring healing, miracles, or whatever.

The reason why is because I don't believe God favors any one person over another. Why should the prayers of some shit head be answered while the prayers of the pious go unnnoticed?

Do you think all of those people on the 9/11 flights were just sitting there waiting to die, minds totally blank? Probably not. They were all likely praying to God to spare them, or have mercy on their souls or something. God didn't answer their prayers, so why would he answer someone else's prayers?

God doesn't need to rely on tricks and miracles. That's why he gave us reason and intelligence, because he likely thought that we'd be smart enough to figure it out ourselves without flashy shows of bullshit.

Also, in my conception of God, he doesn't really care if someone believes in him or not.

But honestly, I can't really say what God has and does not have the ability to do. I don't trouble myself with those type of questions, because those are impossible to answer.

Maybe God has the ability to guide us to know what is good, but honestly God doesn't really need to. Human beings have conscience and the capacity for empathy. It doesn't take a Bible to make someone realize that slavery or murder are wrong.

It's hard for me to believe that an omni-omni being would really concern himself with the daily actions and events of the universe. I know I wouldn't.

Silverfiddle said...

I don't know Jack. Your religion seems capricious and arbitrary.

God doesn't hear our prayers? Then why did Jesus tell us to pray, including petitions?

Jack Camwell said...

Arbitrary? So far I've got logical reasons to back up the things I've said.

If you want to talk about arbitrary, ask yourself why God randomly decided to choose the Jews as his "chosen people." Talk about arbitrary.

And capricious? In the Bible, God is all-forgiving and all-loving, benevolent. But then in another point he's suddenly vengeful and angry. The Bible reduces an omni-everything being to a bipolar human.

Why ask God for shit? Don't you believe God already knows what you desire? And why should God grant you something, and someone else nothing?

Read carefully and you'll see that I never said "God doesn't hear our prayers." I just said that God doesn't answer them. SHit happens. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Either way, it's not an act of God.

Teresa said...

"The Bible reduces an omni-everything being to a bipolar human."

You're not giving God the credit he deserves. You are not viewing him as divine but rather choose to only see him in a human context and give him only human qualities which results in attributing to Him limitations which he does not have. This results in limiting the power of what God is able to do.

Do you really believe that God is an "omni-omni being" (omniscient and omnipotent?) when you attribute human qualities - weaknesses - to Him and limit his powers which contradicts your belief in his being an omni-omni-being? Humans are the ones with weaknesses. Not God.

Teresa said...

In John 14:10 in the Bible Paul asks the Lord to show the disciples the Father. The Lord answered, "

9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Then Jesus goes on to say this-- 15 “ If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

So God does care what we do here on earth, whether we follow His Commandments or not.

Teresa said...

Why do you judge God's decision in which he chose Israel for Christ's birth? Do you deny that God did this? If you believe in Him as an omni-omni being why is it so hard for you to accept this? Faith requires us to believe, and believe the written word is divinely inspired and inerrant. Yet you either do not believe or refuse to accept God's decision - disbelieve - that the Almighty chose Israel for Jesus' birth, and that God chose that particular place for a reason which He only knows, since God is all-knowing.

Jack Camwell said...

I have a t-ball game to go to so I'm going to respond to your first post for now.

You COMPLETELY MISREAD what I was saying.

The Bible is NOT literally true. The Bible limits the notion of God's power. NOT ME. I REJECT the parts of the Bible that paint God as some capriciuos human.

Go read what I said again, Teresa. Essentially, you've just agreed with the premise that the Bible is not divinely inspired, and that human idiocy and pettiness taint that text.

Jack Camwell said...

My whole freaking point was that if God is indeed omni-everything, then the Bible cannot be 100% true because it limits God's power.

THEREFORE I BELIEVE THAT THE BIBLE IS WRONG ON A LOT OF THINGS THAT DEAL WITH THE NATURE OF GOD.

God damnit I really hope that is clear enough to you.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

So you are a cafeteria Bible believer? Only believe in the parts that your human self believe should be in the Bible? So much for having faith in God?

First of all for you to believe that the Bible limits God power you must be missing the contexts and messages of many passages in the Bible. That would mean that you erred in believing, not that God erred in his authorship of the Bible. If you truly believe that God is omni-omni everything then it is contradictory for you to believe that the bible is "WRONG ON A LOT OF THINGS THAT DEAL WITH THE NATURE OF GOD."

Do you deny that God is both human and divine?


"The Bible limits the notion of God's power. NOT ME. I REJECT the parts of the Bible that paint God as some capriciuos human."

Actually you do but you are so obstinate and blinded by your lack of faith that you choose not to believe in the fullness of God due to your narrow-mindedness.

Jack, your church should be called The Church of humanistic narrow-mindedness - limiting the power of God". The statement of belief should read "We believe in the God that we perceive with all his limitations, not in the true God, not in the all powerful, all-knowing God who created all that is good in this world. We really don't believe that he is an omni-omni being even though we claim he is."

Jack Camwell said...

If by cafeteria bible believer you mean that I reject the parts of the Bible that are clearly created by human minds, then yeah I'm a cafeteria Bible believer.

For some reason you keep missing the fact that I claim that GOD DID NOT AUTHOR THE BIBLE. So I'm not saying that God erred, I'm saying the humans that wrote the Bible erred.

God is not human. God exists in a way that we can't even begin to comprehend. The Bible paints God as jealous, vengeful, and hypocritical. This is why I reject a lot of the Bible, because the Bible suggests that God, a supposedly perfect being, somehow falls into the traps of human shortcomings.

Although there are some universal truths that can be found in the Bible, and although I do believe the Bible is a good tool from which to begin our understanding of God's nature, I believe that it was NOT authored by God.

It was authored by humans who were trying to understand the world around them.

And remember, the Gospels were not written by Jesus. So we can only take the gospels with a grain of salt as well.

Jack Camwell said...

And you, Teresa, are the last person on the face of the planet that should ever even THINK about uttering the word "narrowminded."

You think that being saved by Jesus is the *only* way to get into heaven. I contend that there are several paths.

If you agree that the Bible shouldn't be taken literally, then you're no better than me when it comes to being a "cafeteria" believer.

If you base your entire belief system off of one single book, and if you also refuse to deviate from that, then THAT is an example of narrowmindedness.

I, however, understand that no one text is going to have all the answers, so I look in other places for answers as well.

At NO POINT have I said that I think the entirety of the Bible is false.

Kevin T. Rice said...

While I do not want either Teresa or Silverfiddle to regret my jumping in here, I am going to weigh in on the side of our beleaguered host, the NON-Reverend Camwell and come to his rescue.

Jack does not seem to me to be contradicting himself in the way he uses the Bible. For Jack, the Bible is a useful old book with some wisdom in it (much like the Hindu Vedas, the Budddhist Sutras, the Analects of Confucious, the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu) and other stuff in it with which he firmly diagrees (much like the Koran , which incidentally also has some good stuff and the Hadith, which has almost nothing of value at all). So he quotes our Lord Jesus because he generally likes Jesus - Jesus is the Cool Dude of the Bible - and rejects Paul as the a--hole of the New Testament.

I agree with Jack that human and divine logic would have to be similar, otherwise there would be no sense at all in using one word, logic, to refer to both. There has to be some principle of similitude that qualifies both as logic. But there will certainly be differences, and human narrowmindedness seems intuitively to be an aspect of our limited point of view as creatures as opposed to the divine view which has no limits and therefore encompasses all that is true - much more truth than our limited minds as creatures could ever hope to comprehend even at our absolute best, even at the peak of our intellectual power, even if our natural potential were fully actualized. So there is no contradiction there.

Jack's theology is as consistent as it can possibly be. Heretical theologies are intrinsically contradictory because they are false. Even the most persuasive and plausible false points of view as a rule contain hidden contradictions since they try to accept as much of the truth that they can, and when it comes to a heretical point of view, some part of it will affirm what some other part cannot help but deny. Heresies are identified by what they deny out of the fullness of the revealed truth because some truth seems to be in conflict with another truth. Heretical theologies are an expression of the aforementioned human trait of narrowmindedness.

Jack's theology is the theology of the impotent God (impotent rather than omnipotent - that wasn't a misspelling) who loves us all so much that He refuses to help any of us, since helping me would favor me over you or him. So God allows evil to run rampant and never acts to alleviate any of it for any reason. The universe, according to Jack Camwell, runs randomly because Jack's God is a benevolent voyeur who has no outlet whatsoever to express His goodness and is not particularly concerned with matters down here anyway. So physical processes that He set up at the beginning move forward without any guidance. There are no miracles. There is no such thing as divine providence. To call Jack's God good or loving or benevolent at this point of the narrative seems somewhat empty and meaningless, but let that be for a moment. The Church of Jack Camwell is a Deistic Church. Jack's God requires no worship, hears no prayers - all He does is let everyone into heaven when they die whether they wish to have communion with Him and everyone else or not.

Jack, I am not here to prove you wrong. I am a GOOD parishioner of the Church of Jack Camwell. I am here to engage in discourse but not to convince you that you are wrong and I am right. I want to let you know, though, that I intend to give you another point of view, and some arguments in its favor. I suspect that there are aspects to this view that you have never conceived of, and arguments that you have either never heard of or not given due justice to, so you may yet benefit from my participation in your noble project.

I liken your "church" to a denomination of the one mentioned in Robert Pirsig's classic novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: the Church of Reason. I have always been a contributing member of that faith, even in my days as an agnostic.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Camwell said...

You actually bring up an excellent point that I had not thought of. Why would a benevolent, loving God allow us to suffer and do nothing to help us?

Truthfully, I don't know, but I would still liken it to parenting. As parents we always want the best for our children, and often times we try to shield them from the harshness of the world. We would seem callous if we never lifted a finger to try to alleviate our children's pain.

But there comes a point in the relationship between parent and child where the parent MUST let the child enter the world and fend for his or herself. As much as we'd like to, there are times where intervention would actually do more disservice to the child than just letting our child handle the situation on our own.

My best guess would be that since God is not manifest in any way that we can perceive, it would be best to allow humans to fend for themselves. If God were to intervene all the time, then humans would come to depend on divine intervention more than their own powers of physical and mental capability.

My idea is that if God simply wanted us to just be happy and blissful forever, then he would have created humanity as divine entities as himself. But we're here in this physical existence for a reason, and I think that reason is the experience.

It's the uniqueness of each human's personal experience with life that makes us special and makes this life worth living.

As for God letting everyone in heaven, I can't even begin to understand that concept. Part of me believes that God would require us to be good, decent human beings, but the other part of me finds it hard to believe that God would allow a soul to be tortured for eternity, even the nastiest of souls.

That is something I haven't quite worked out yet, and that's something that will take some time to develop.

Last point, I don't think that God is impotent, because impotent suggests incapability. I think the greatest demonstration of power is restraint. A human would use omnipotence gladly. I think it would take the understanding of a divine entity, one that sees all of Eternal Truth, to refrain from using its ultimate power. It is human to believe that a being with power ought to use it. It is divine to realize that the existence of power does not necessitate its use.

Rice, I'm sorry for insulting you on Silver's blog. THat was certainly not me at my best. Thank you for your support, for understanding where I'm coming from, and for engaging in the discussion.

Jack Camwell said...

Be honest with yourself, Teresa. you believe it's truth because you WANT to believe it's truth.

Believing in Jesus and all that gives you comfort, and it makes you feel like your life has purpose.

If, by this point, you think I've been rejecting parts of the Bible based on "feelings" then you clearly have not been reading anything I've said very carefully.

Your problem is that I'm disagreeing with your deeply held convictions and you don't know how to handle that other than to outright reject everything I say without putting any thought into it.

You're doing that because you could not otherwise cope with the doubt. It's much more pleasant to believe that you've got everything figured out than it is to constantly feel like you have no idea what's going on. That's Plato 101.

As Rice confirmed, I haven't been contradicting myself. In fact, I've taken great pains in trying to reconcile everything I believe with logic and reason. My faith is based on the strength of my mind. Your faith is based on what you've been told to believe. That's the principle difference between you and me.

Teresa said...

Rewording what I deleted - taking a less harsh tone:

By many paths are you referring to many paths without God or without Jesus?

I do agree that certain Bible passages aren't meant to be taken literally. But that doesn't mean that they don't have a purpose, that there isn't some underlying meaning or teaching behind those passages. Jack the difference between you and me is that I don't reject certain passages just because they aren't necessarily meant to be taken literally while you outright reject those passages underlying message.

Silverfiddle said...

Arbitrary? So far I've got logical reasons to back up the things I've said.

If you want to talk about arbitrary, ask yourself why God randomly decided to choose the Jews as his "chosen people." Talk about arbitrary.

And capricious? In the Bible, God is all-forgiving and all-loving, benevolent. But then in another point he's suddenly vengeful and angry. The Bible reduces an omni-everything being to a bipolar human.


You are arbitrary in that you have based your positions on subjective criteria, what you feel.

God arbitrary? Do you know how he made the decision to choose the Jewish people? If not, then you cannot conclude it was arbitrary. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean there was not some plan behind it.

And you ping-pong back and forth about God. Maybe you should cast the Bible aside? It is too riddled with what you consider inconsistencies to do you any good. I think it's hindering your undertaking.

KP said...

Jack, very interesting discussions. Thanks for hosting them. I am looking forward to hearing more.

Kevin T. Rice said...

1st of 2

I like this new tone we seem to be taking. Jack, I appreciate and thank you for your expression of regret about insulting me in Western Hero. I would like to express a similar regret, but please understand where I was coming from. In case you still don't know, Teresa is my wife. I am encouraged by her deleting one of her recent comments due to its harshness. I hope we can all get along here.

I want to pursue the insight my words helped you reach, Jack, about the conflict between the twin appearances of divine benevolence and divine indifference. Both seem true, and they are hard to reconcile. Constant divine intervention is incompatible with the considerable good achieved by God allowing us to learn from our mistakes. Total divine aloofness, on the other hand, seems incompatible with any intelligible notion of divine goodness.

I submit that the use of logic allows us to conceive of a middle ground between total divine indifference and Godly busybodiness that has to jump in anytime one of us is about to scrape a knee or put a boot up some of our fellow creatures' asses. In the logical space between the notion of Absolute Non-intervention (God sitting on His hands and allowing any and every hideous evil to move along unchecked) and the notion of Total Divine Intervention is the notion of Limited Intervention.

Love and mercy justify limited intervention. Do justice and fairness forbid it? I submit that they do not. They are reconciled by the good of creaturely freedom. If God gives some creatures (e.g., us) free choice of action in order for us to be moral agents with the possibility of meaningfully loving Him and each other (which is the one and only way for rational beings to be truly happy), then He must allow us to both enjoy and endure the consequences of our decisions as a general rule. But general rules allow for exceptions, and one exception that God can permit Himself by creating free creatures is to allow them to freely invite Him to intervene. He cannot reasonably force intervention on us as a rule, but if we ask for it, He can respond to our requests without injuring our freedom, provided that our requests for His help were offered freely and spontaneously, not forced by Him. Moreover, I believe that as long as creaturely freedom in general is preserved by such a request, that request does not absolutely have to be offered by the beneficiary of the requested divine help. Thus I can pray for God to give you the grace to understand some important salvific truth, and He can give you that grace even if you do not ask for it. As long as SOMEONE with SOME standing, that is, some relationship with you conforming to the classical theological notion of agape love or charity, asks freely, then God is no longer hamstrung by the consequences of His divine decision to create free creatures: one or more of His free creatures gave a necessary consent to His loving intervention, reconciling it with our freedom as creatures. Without such consent, without such a free request, God's hands are tied by His decision to make us free. With it, He can act in this or that specific instance.

Kevin T. Rice said...

2nd of 2

This notion makes prayer a very noble participation in the causal order of the moral universe. That may or may not be palatable to you, but I submit that it is at least logically conceivable and therefore possibly true.

I think it is very compatible with the analogy you favor - that of a parent-child relationship. A parent does not intervene at EVERY turn, but he does intervene when necessary, and sometimes when it is not necessary, just because he is asked by his child, but will wait in such instances to be asked and stay out of it when he is not asked. That is respect for freedom. That is necessary space for growth.

Also, this notion of limited intervention functions as a defeater for the classical Problem of Evil. As we already noted, the notion of a God who intervenes to prevent all evils would also effectively prevent some supremely important goods, such as our dignity as moral agents and our capacity to freely choose to love Him and each other. Without the freedom to choose not to love, there can be no possibility of meaningfully choosing to love. The goodness of loving is incompatible with God making it impossible to make that choice in a meaningful way by preventing us from choosing anything else. So it is absolutely necessary that God must allow us SOME space to choose to reject goodness and love and to do evil. But allowing SOME evils does not entail allowing ALL evil. It does not prevent Him from intervening later to alleviate some of those evils and preventing them from running unchecked to the fullness of their unchecked consequences. But no matter how often He acts to prevent certain evils or alleviate them, we will still perceive the universe to contain an objectionable amount of evil. Our expectations would always stay proportioanal to our limited perception, and since we would have nothing else to compare our perceptions to (a vision of the worse evils that whose occurrence God did NOT allow), we would always see any evil as too much. Nothing less than the universe without love, where creaturely comfort is wrongly conceived to be the absolute value, would thwart that limited perception. But beyond our limited perception we can, due to our similitude with God as rational beings, intellectually conceieve of a broader view that would allow us to see God's love inhis allowing the evils that occur and preventing the ones that didn't.

Elmers Brother said...

If God loves all of us dearly, and wants us all to be happy forever, then why would God make the path to Him so narrow?

I am curious how one would know HE loves you when one rejects the way in which He demonstrated it?

Jack Camwell said...

Teresa,

I never said those passages have no meaning or purpose. If anything, their purpose would be to remind us just how little we truly understand about the nature of God. I don't reject them because they aren't meant to be taken literally, and I don't out right reject all alegorical stuff in the Bible.

What I'm saying is that I can see the taint of human error on the Bible, and because of that I don't take it as 100% truth. There is some truth in there, but I could write out something, say God told me to write it, and it'd be just as credible as the Bible.

Silver,

I'm pretty much done with you, because you seem to be ignoring EVERYTHING I SAY. As Rice said, nothing I said so far has contradicted itself. Why am I not contradicting myself? Because I've taken the time to think it through. This stuff is not based on my feelings. But go ahead and keep telling yourself that to avoid the fact that I've poked all sorts of holes in all of your arguments the past few days. Whatever makes you feel better, I guess.

I didn't say God is arbitrary. Sigh. It's seriously like you just don't think about what I've said. I mean really, are you trolling me? Is that what this is? Because I'm having a hard time believing that an intelligent person such as yourself has completely misunderstood just about EVERYTHING I've said up to this point.

Rice,

A very reasoned response, and perhaps one that I am ill equipped to adequately address.

You're right that absolute aloofness is probably just as unlikely as total divine intervention. It would be reasonable to assume that God takes some sort of middle ground.

But when you look at the evil that has been permitted, I have serious trouble accepting that God consciously decided to permit some evils but not others. The Holocaust? The Trail of Tears? Slavery?

Think of the stories of exorcisms. I don't know whether or not they're true in a supernatural sense, but they can at least serve as allegory. No matter what the exorcist does, God does not save the human from whatever demon plagues them. And the demon generally preys on that. The idea is that the demon knows that God won't intervene, and the demon uses that because we humans generally don't understand the idea of non-intervention.

We are hard wired to believe that if we have the power to alleviate suffering that we should wield that power in the name of justice, mercy, or whatever virtue you please. But I think that is because we humans feel thumos, righteous and spirited indignation. I'm not so sure God shares our susceptibility to powerful emotions, if God even experiences emotion in the way we understand it.

When we see how many unspeakable horrors that have been unleashed on humanity, it makes more sense that God simply does not prevent evil, because then we have to ask ourselves "where the hell does God draw the line?" By choosing to allow some evils over others, I think it would almost be akin to God using evil for his own ends. I know this is something Aquinas talks about, and I think he concluded that God's will is so complex that we can't even hope to understand how he could possibly use evil for good.

But to me that makes God sound an awful lot like a Machiavellian. Perhaps God simply allows all things to happen, good or evil, and just hopes for the best?

Elmers,

I exist. I think that should suffice as a sign of God's love. Everything else is just fluff.

Jack Camwell said...

And Rice,

I'm sorry for insulting your wife. But God damnit do you know how many times she has called me a relativist?

Also, she called me a "selfish, immoral fascist," once. True story, I wrote a 3 part article about it. Part 3 is the most read article on CFGM (because of the picture, sadly).

Silverfiddle said...

If you want to talk about arbitrary, ask yourself why God randomly decided to choose the Jews as his "chosen people." Talk about arbitrary.

And capricious? In the Bible, God is all-forgiving and all-loving, benevolent. But then in another point he's suddenly vengeful and angry. The Bible reduces an omni-everything being to a bipolar human.


Your words, Jack. I base my comments on your words.

Teresa said...

Jack,

I almost certain that I did call you a "selfish, immoral fascist" but I would only do so if I was treated wrongly or badly, mischaracterized, or my character was assassinated first. I usually respond in kind. If someone treats me well and respects me then I will reciprocate with the same. You know how things can get when the discussion gets heated. I am sorry for calling you those words.

As far as the relativist thing goes you can claim that you aren't one but according to the definition which is the opposite of moral absolutism which from your comments on abortion as well as other subjects I don't see you following a moral absolutist philosophy that stands because in my estimation you haven't debunked this accusation I made. But I would be happy to see you prove my accusation wrong.

Peace!

Silverfiddle said...

From eveyone's favorite source, Wikipedia

Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.[1] The term is often used to refer to the context of moral principle, where in a relativistic mode of thought, principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy.[2] The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cf. cultural relativism). Another widespread and contentious form is moral relativism.

I leave it to you guys to fight over whether Jack is one or not. He gets might peevish when called that, so I'll stay out of it.

Jack, a better approach than throwing out what doesn't make sense to you would be to instead throw out those things that you can positively prove are irrational or illogical.

But what standard would you use? I A opposes B, do you throw out A, or B? Or both?

You say God doesn't care about baptism, so then why does it figure so prominently in the New Testament? More of that human error?

If so, how do you know? What has led you to this conclusion?

Jack Camwell said...

Silver,
It would seem the problem lies in your ability to detect sarcasm and rhetorical questions.

Teresa,

Murder is wrong, but in some instances it might be justified. For example, would it have been wrong to murder Hitler? Sure, it might have been morally wrong, but it certainly would have been justified. It would probably be more wrong to let him liquidate 6 million Jews than to kill him and spare all of those innocent lives.

There is a difference between something being morally right and the action being justified, or legitimate. There is a difference between morality and prudence. Abortion may be morally wrong, but sometimes it's the prudent thing to do.

Prudence and legitimacy have no bearing on the morality of an action.

That is what I've tried to explain to you *countless* times.

Jack Camwell said...

Well thank you for proving that I'm not a relativist Silver, because nothing I've said so far comes anywhere close to meeting any of those criteria.

A opposes B. The Jack Camwell school of thought tries to reconcile A with B before either is totally discounted. It's also possible that some of A might be true while some of B might also be true. But, the possibility exists that only one of them can be true.

I don't reject things because they "don't make sense" to me. I reject them if they are irrational or illogical. At least one person here agrees that I've done a pretty good job at making myself logically consistent.

Silver, you do realize that the Gospels were written quite some time after Jesus died. The earliest (I think Mark) was written nearly 50 years after Jesus' death.

The Gospels were written by people trying to create a new religion. Jesus was not trying to create a new religion: he was trying to reform Judaism. The authors of the Gospels were more concerned with proving the legitimacy of their budding religion, so it makes sense that they would place a heavy emphasis on some notion of initiation.

You act like baptism is something exclusive to Christianity. Chrisitanity wasn't started until after Jesus died, but if I'm correct Jesus happened upon John the Baptist performing baptisms. So the practice of baptism pre-dates Christianity.

It's symbolic, nothing more. Do you honestly think, in your heart of hearts, that God really gives a shit if some preacher dunks you under water?

Probably not. What's more important is that you commit your life to being good and doing good, which is what baptism is supposed to symbolize-washing away the inequity and cleansing ourselves of sin.

But we know there's no magic involved in this, so it's symbolic.

Teresa said...

The problem is since abortion is murdering an innocent human being and you agree that murder is wrong then there can be no justification ,prudence or otherwise, for murdering humans murdering their offspring.

Now using the principle of double-effect, if a cancer treatment is necessary to save the life of the mother and that treatment somehow unintentionally kills the unborn baby that is okay because it was something that indirectly occurred because of the treatment.

Now. let's go on to Hitler. If it was already known what Hitler was doing during WWII and someone had the chance to kill him that would seem to fall under in the defense of another category in my opinion.

Teresa said...

correction: The problem is since abortion is murdering an innocent human being and you agree that murder is wrong then there can be no justification,prudence or otherwise, for humans murdering their offspring.

Jack Camwell said...

But that doesn't make me a relativist, Teresa. It makes me a Machiavellian, but not a relativist.

Teresa said...

Actually the terms Machiavellian and moral relativism seem to go hand-in-hand. But after doing a bit more research I will write a post on both.

Silverfiddle said...

Jesus was not trying to create a new religion: he was trying to reform Judaism.

A distinction without a difference. Judaism is a religion, so either way we are talking about a religion that Jesus was working within.

And why would he commission his disciples to go among the nations and teach them?

Why did they hoist fusty old teaching upon converts instead of just teaching Pythagoras and Greek logic?

So, without knowing the mind of God, how can you say that something is logically inconsistent or doesn't make sense? If you don't understand the grand plan, how can you critique it?

A thing has two kinds of logic: Internal and external. It can be internally consistent (coherent) while being logically inconsistent with a greater thing of which it is a part.

I'd say you probably need to do a post on some of these supposed logical inconsistencies you see, describe them, and explain how you cast this aside but keep that.

That would give us something concrete to debate.

Right now, you are just ripping pages out of the Bible that don't conform to your idea of logic, from your imperfect viewpoint.

Get some concrete things out there in a new post and maybe we can advance the discussion of your philosophy.

Silverfiddle said...

And your philosophy is coming into focus:

The bible is man-made, not divinely inspired, so anywhere that God looks foolish, inconsistent, mean or otherwise illogical, you cast that aside as attributable to human error.

Is that correct?

Jack Camwell said...

"The bible is man-made, not divinely inspired, so anywhere that God looks foolish, inconsistent, mean or otherwise illogical, you cast that aside as attributable to human error."

It took you this long to figure that out, despite the fact that I've probably said EXACTLY THAT about 34 times?

"I'd say you probably need to do a post on some of these supposed logical inconsistencies you see, describe them, and explain how you cast this aside but keep that. "

I've been doing that for the past 3 fucking days. Here's a rhetorical question for you: why was Rice able to understand everything I've said thus far and advance the discussion if I haven't been providing concrete examples?

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what I say to you, you simply won't listen or directly engage in the discussion. Every. single. fucking. time. I give you an example of a blatant contradiction or inconsistency from the Bible, instead of even attempting to reconcile it, you just sidestep it.

You either say that I'm "cherry picking," or that I'm stupid for trying to understand God's "plan" or logic or whatever.

Of course we can't fucking know the mind of God, but that doesn't mean we just give up on trying to understand what's going on. That doesn't mean we should just blindly follow a 2,000+ year old book just because some people said that it's the word of God.

I'll tell you what though, if it turns out that God does indeed want a bunch of automatons who believe whatever a religious figure tells them to believe, then you'll definitely have a leg up on me.

Forgive my venom, but I grow tired of this dance. This is getting close to the beamish disaster. I can give you example after example, I can explain my position a thousand different ways, but you'll reject all of it; not based on any strong argument with your own concrete examples, but just with a simple dismissal that my words are just not true.

Read what Rice has wrote, and note the difference in my response to him compared to my responses to you. There's a reason for the difference.

Kevin T. Rice said...

I suppose I spoke too soon about the tone. As someone who sympathizes with both sides, each for its own separate reason, I can't bring myself to favor either one. Jack, while I can relate to your frustration with regard to Teresa, understand that there is no way I am going to take your side of things against her. Remember, I did express my pity for your plight back in Western Hero. That was because I felt sorry for you - I knew from personal experience what you were soon to have to endure. I wish you luck - I hope you can acquit yourself well. But of course I am also rooting for her.

I am pleased that you have acknowledged Limited Divine Intervention as logically possible. It was not a possibility you seemed to acknowledge before, so this seems like progress.

I want to take up your intuitively based moral objection to my LDI proposal:

"But when you look at the evil that has been permitted, I have serious trouble accepting that God consciously decided to permit some evils but not others. The Holocaust? The Trail of Tears? Slavery?"

The evils that we can name are pretty horrible. The ones that we do know about - the ones that never occurred - many were much worse. Virtually infinitely worse. But we will never know their names because they never happened. But we can conceive of them as possible. We can imagine much worse worlds than this one. We can imagine worlds with manymore 9/11s - a world in which the 9/11 that we know of would stand as a very tame example. We can imagine worlds where Hitler won World War II and utterly exterminated all Jews, gypsies, Slavs, gays, and then expanded the Final Solution to the point where everyone darker of complexion and hair than Charlize Theron is forced to work to death in any one of a thousand concentration camps scattered all over the face of the earth, each one as large as a fair sized city. I can imagine a world where the Cuban Missile Crisis actually led to a nuclear holocaust - even one that only killed MOST of us and left the rest of humanity lingering in a near bestial state in which cannibalism is a way of life, and babies are coveted as much for their flesh as for their capacity to preserve our world and whatever thin, feeble vestige of civilization remains.

You bring up demonic possession - an element of my faith that I admit to finding challenging. I can imagine a world where demonic possession is the rule rather than the relatively rare exception. I can even imagine a world in which we are all bornj possessed and remain possessed as long as we live, and then when we die we are eternally damned, all for no good reason, just because That's How It Is!

To be able to rationally and soundly judge the particular evils of this world as being incompatible with the notion of Limited Divine Intervention, we would need to have a very clear idea of the other possible evils that did not occur and to see those as being not significantly worse than the evils
that actually did happen. But I have a very dystopian imagination and I do not find such a judgement even remotely plausible. I see this world, with all its evils, as being overall much better than it very reasonably and probably could have been.

Silverfiddle said...

Jack:

Kevin is an educated man and a philosopher. I am not.

Also, you write a lot, and I find you hard to follow sometimes.

I have read your arguments, accepted them and posited explanations, specifically on slavery and God's command to kill homosexuals. You didn't even consider my arguments or argue within the framework I set up at my blog, so it goes both ways.

Silverfiddle said...

BTW, to check out FreeThinke's blog. You both appear to be on a similar path to enlightenment...

http://freethinkesblog.blogspot.com/

Teresa said...

Jack,

I just wanted to let you know, especially since I mention you, that I have delivered in doing a post on Machiavellianism and moral relativism as I said I would. Here it is -- http://teresamerica.blogspot.com/2012/07/do-machiavellianism-and-moral.html

Jack Camwell said...

Silver,

Re-read everything that I said on your blog. I worked precisely inside the framework you desired. I addressed every argument you put forth, and I made my best effort to counter every counter you offered me.

I can see you making a case against me because you were arguing using the Bible as your source, while I was trying to discredit your source.

But I played your game, so I brought up the notion of interpretation. You know as well as I do that not everything in the Bible is meant to be literal.

And just for the record, the Episcopalian Church has accepted that homosexuality is not a sin. It's even working on allowing for gay marriages. So does that mean they are suddenly not Christian anymore?

I guess none of us are Christians since we don't put homosexuals to death.

Teresa said...

I would classify any church that allows gay "marriage" and claims homosexuality isn't a sin is nominally Christian and most definitely departs from Traditional Christianity, also departs from certain fundamental aspects og Christianity for the sake of modernism. It is a modernist, relativistic Christian church.

Teresa said...

By homosexuality I mean the actual sexual acts. Simply being a homosexual or having same-sex urges doesn't make one sinful but acting on those impulses does.

Jack Camwell said...

Rice,

I can understand that you're rooting for her. She is your wife, afterall. But you of all people, learned and educated, should be able to see that I'm not a relativist, nor am I selfish or immoral.

As for your other ideas, yes I agree that the world could be a LOT worse. But could it?

Up to this point in history, it's unlikely that the world could be totally dystopian, because people have not yet been brainwashed to accept misery. So far, there has always been some group of people that either stand up for themselves or defend those who cannot defend themselves from horror.

Given human nature and our indomitable will to be free and to be treated justly, I don't think it's surprising that things haven't been much worse than what they've been so far. Humans will only take so much until they strike at evil in an attempt to put a stop to it.

I don't think God has disallowed evils from happening any more than he has allowed them to happen. Why doesn't the average person just haul off and murder his neighbors in cold blood? Is it because God did not allow that to happen, or is it because the average person is decent enough to know that murder is wrong and thus not commit murder?

My bet is that it's because the average person is fairly decent and would never do that. As to whether it is God that makes us good, or if it is our own nature and will that makes us good is a different discussion for a different post =)

As I said on Silver's blog, save your pity for those who need it. Teresa isn't the first person to mischaracterize me, she won't be the last, and if I wasn't resilient enough to deal with it then I wouldn't be on the blogosphere to begin with.

Jack Camwell said...

Teresa,

You need to get it through your head that just because someone disagrees with you DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE RELATIVISTS.

Like I've said before, I think homosexuality is morally permissible. I think it's always been morally permissible, and I think it always will be. I think that applies to all people in all places in all times.

And I think your assertion that it's morally impermissible is wrong, that it has always been wrong, and that it will always be wrong.

See? I'm a universalist. I just think that you are universally wrong.

Silverfiddle said...

"And just for the record, the Episcopalian Church has accepted that homosexuality is not a sin. It's even working on allowing for gay marriages. So does that mean they are suddenly not Christian anymore?"

Well, they've abandoned the Bible, which is one of the foundations of Christianity, so I'd say they are well on the way to self-declaration of non-Christianity.

Can I say I'm a faithful member of the ACLU, and then say it's OK for the state to shut down people's first amendment rights?

It wouldn't be logical.

Here's a pretty good article related to this subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/opinion/sunday/douthat-can-liberal-christianity-be-saved.html

Have you considered joining the Episcopalian Church?

Jack Camwell said...

Christianity is Christianity because the religion believes that Jesus saved us. That is the ONE THING that makes you Christian.

Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.. all share very similar moral systems and ideas.

But these religions are not based on their moral teachings. They're based on their eschatology and understanding of the divine. That's what separates them.

Jack Camwell said...

Here's an idea to consider about the article you shared with me.

What if the people themselves are becoming more liberal in their understanding of Christianity?

I think I'm pretty liberal in my understanding and practice of Catholicism, and part of that entails the notion that going to church every Sunday is *not* a requirement for being a good person.

Perhaps more people are realizing that going to church every Sunday is not that important.

I have serious doubts that church attendance has ANYTHING to do with people wanting religion to go back to being ultra-conservative.

According to statistics, at least half of Americans think just like me, Silver.

Silverfiddle said...

"Re-read everything that I said on your blog. I worked precisely inside the framework you desired. I addressed every argument you put forth, and I made my best effort to counter every counter you offered me."

I did reread, and you are wrong.


In my blog post Faith, Logic and Reason, I gave a scholarly explanation of how homosexuality is still a sin but no longer punishable by death, and the explanation I gave was based in logic and it harmonized what others had alleged were Biblical inconsistencies.

Now, I'm not saying I am iron-clad right and anybody who disagrees is stupid. You and others are free to show me where I'm wrong, but you didn't do that, Jack.

You accused us of being Christians of bad motives, but you never addressed what I wrote. Neither did FreeThinke.

Silverfiddle said...

What if the people themselves are becoming more liberal in their understanding of Christianity?

OK, if God's into majority rules, then it's all good.

But what if this is just another "remaking of God in our own image?"

Slippery rocks...

Teresa said...

"I think I'm pretty liberal in my understanding and practice of Catholicism, and part of that entails the notion that going to church every Sunday is *not* a requirement for being a good person."

Agreed. But when someone belongs to any organization whether religious or not, each has its own rules or requirements that one is called to live by so while you may not be considered a bad person there is the concept of being faithful to one's organization and if one chooses to not comply with requirements of Catholicism that can make the person an unfaithful Catholic.

My position if you don't like the rules a certain church or organization has or are unwilling to follow the rules then the person can find another church where their beliefs are more in line with that particular church. Catholicism is a religion which ascribes to traditional Christianity, meaning the Church has had certain fundamental unchanging beliefs over centuries whereas other churches are willing to abandon certain traditional Christian principles.

Going to church brings a sense of community. A number of non-Catholics find the time to attend church at least twice a week, with spending more time on a Sunday than a one hour Mass commitment.

Jack Camwell said...

"But when someone belongs to any organization whether religious or not, each has its own rules or requirements that one is called to live by . . ."

We both know that the Catholic Church's rules and requirements were not always right.

Jack Camwell said...

If it wasn't for Martin Luther, Silver, then you'd still be Catholic, paying indulgences, and getting your kids baptized shortly after birth.

And what about the Catholic Church recently going back on its previous belief in limbo? Shit changes Silver, and it's not arbitrary or relativist: it's humans realizing that they were wrong, and then amending their beliefs based on the reality with which they have been presented.

"In my blog post Faith, Logic and Reason, I gave a scholarly explanation of how homosexuality is still a sin but no longer punishable by death, and the explanation I gave was based in logic and it harmonized what others had alleged were Biblical inconsistencies."

What's funny about that is that you unwittingly proved me right in that response. By admitting that the death penalty for homosexuality is not valid, you admitted to my premise all along: that not everything in the Bible is universally true, i.e. valid for all people in all times.

Perhaps you were just having difficulty following me?

Teresa said...

"We both know that the Catholic Church's rules and requirements were not always right."

You may choose to believe that but I don't.

If you believe this then the only being you need to gripe with is Jesus for He is the one who founded the Catholic Church. So did Jesus get the fundamental underpinnings of Christianity wrong from it's inception?

You have oversimplified what Christianity is and consists of when you stated that "Christianity is Christianity because the religion believes that Jesus saved us." That is part of it. But another part of what it means to be a Christian is following the teachings that Jesus and the apostles taught.

But we can discuss the beginnings of Christianity when I address this topic in another post.

Jack Camwell said...

Really, so when was the last time you paid a priest an indulgence?

When was the last time you burned a heretic at the stake?

When was the last time you went on a Crusade?

What about limbo?

See, history is full of places where the Catholic Church got it way, way wrong. And the Church has admitted that over time. So unless you believe that we are still required to burn heretics at the stake, then you believe as I do.

When differentiating religions you have to look at what makes them different. Yes, there is more to Christianity than the belief in Jesus' divinity and all that jazz, but that's what makes Christianity itself and not Judaism, or Islam.

Following the teachings of Jesus and the apostles IS specific to Christianity, and that's part of what makes it Christianity and not anything else.

But, it's only specific teachings that make it Christianity. Jesus and the apostles taught many things that were/are identical to the teachings of other religions.

All major world religions believe that murder, theft, and lying are morally wrong. All major world religions contain some aspect on rejecting bad desires and only desiring the good.

By that, you and I are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Confucianist, Sikh, Taoist, and Christian simultaneously . . . until you introduce the qualifiers that make you Christian. General morality is not specific to Christianity. Without Christianity, morality would still exist.

So perhaps the only belief that is completely incompatible with Christianity would be to deny the divinity of Jesus.

But this entire discussion is based on whether you believe religion to be an institution created by God or by man.

I contend that religion is an institution created by man for the purpose of understanding God. And an institution created by man is subject to change based on man's evolution of understanding. Not man CHANGING THE RULES AND TRUTH, but coming to a more perfect understanding of Truth. That's why the Church was able to say that Limbo is an invalid teaching. Not because they're saying that Truth is relative, but because they were saying "woops, we got it wrong."

Homosexuality is no different. We're not trying to be relativist, we're saying "woops, we got it wrong."

Silverfiddle said...

"What's funny about that is that you unwittingly proved me right in that response. By admitting that the death penalty for homosexuality is not valid, you admitted to my premise all along: that not everything in the Bible is universally true, i.e. valid for all people in all times."

You are so twisted up, Jack, and this is what makes you so hard to follow.

First of all, I have said that "not everything in the Bible is universally true, i.e. valid for all people in all times."

Yes! That's what scholarship tells us, but there is no contradiction.

You posited that the Bible contradicted itself on homosexuality and I gave one explanation for how it is not. I used logic to show you how it could still be considered a sin, but that we are not to kill homosexuals. I also used adultery as a corollary, with the example of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

You did not address the argument.

So, no, I didn't prove you right, I showed you where you could be wrong when you claimed there was an inconsistency.

If Jesus was hip with homosexuality, why didn't he say so? He changed the Sabbath laws, picking grain on Sunday, and he excoriated the pharisees for binding some laws too tightly on people, but he never mentioned homosexuality.

Now, I'd like to see a similar chain of logic from you showing how homosexuality ain't no big thing anymore.

Silverfiddle said...

Limbo was a philosophical construct, not a doctrine.

And burning people at the stake and charging people to get to heaven are human errors, not church doctrine, so you are drawing false equivalencies.

So the Catholic leadership has done shitty things in the past. They're human! Surprise!

So what makes you think any other human would be less likely to go astray?

Teresa said...

The teachings on indulgences have never changed. There was corruption in how the Church teachings on indulgences were applied. There are indulgences granted today on the basis of the same exact principles as when they were first granted. The only change was the Church's tolerance of the corruption in the application of those principles.

Jack Camwell said...

Silver,
Yes, those things I mentioned were actual church doctrine. Heretics were required to be burned at the stake. I love Thomas More, but he had heretics burned at the stake according to church doctrine.

Indulgences actually STILL are church doctrine.

The problem with all of this is that you're failing to see the contradiction. God does not contradict himself. Therefore, God could not possibly be the author of the Bible.

The scholarship exists BECAUSE there are contradictions in the Bible. Kill homosexuals or turn the other cheek? Which is it? Plus, the Bible contradicts many things we know to be true. For exmaple, Adam and Eve is not a true story. Science aside, REASON should tell us that it's not true. So there's scholarship on it to understand the meaning rather than just discard it as a useless myth.

But a few thousand years ago, every single Christian believed Adam and Eve to be literally true.

The whole basis of my argument is that if you are willing to admit that there are some things in the Bible that were never literally true, then it's not unreasonable to revisit other things in the bible to determine their veracity.

Here's my logical explanation for homosexuality not being immoral.

Having sex purely for pleasure is not a sin. Having sex that includes acts other than actual intercourse is not a sin. We know that doing things because they are pleasurable are not inherently sinful. We're human, and we were given our senses for a reason: so that we could experience the joys of existence.

So if non-intercourse sexual acts are not inherently sinful, then there is no way that homosexuality can be sinful. It is a sexual act, meant for pleasure that does not concern itself with pro-creation. It's no different than felatio, or cunnilingus, or kissing, or any of that stuff. It's meant for pleasure.

Not only that, but we know that sex is not only meant for pleasure. For most people, it's meant as an expression of love and ultimate companionship. Just as heterosexuals have sex because they love someone, homosexuals have sex because they love someone.

It is not sinful to dedicate your life to loving another human being. It is not a sin to commit yourself to intimate companionship with another human, because that is the ultimate expression and realization of God's love for us.

Homosexuality is not natural only in the sense that it does not pro-create. But then that means that felatio isn't natural.

If it is morally permissible to have sex for pleasure, then there is no basis for limiting with whom that pleasure can be experienced.

I could write a whole treatise on the morality of human sexuality, but unless you're a fundamentalist Muslim or Amish, my guess is that you--like most of humanity--are okay with sex being used for pleasure and an expression of love. So why should it matter to you who someone loves?

Do you really think that the only way God meant for us to experience love was in a heterosexual marriage?

Jack Camwell said...

Teresa,

Yes I knew that indulgences are still official doctrine for the Catholic church. That was more meant as bait for Silver since I know he's protestant.

But just look at the name. "Indulgence." That doesn't sound very Christlike, now does it?

But you can't deny what I said about burning heretics. The Inquisition? The church sanctioned those. We have since come to realize that those things were very, very wrong.

We also have come to realize that Crusading is wrong. Yes, going on a Crusade was offered as an alternative to an indulgence. We now realize that going to kill people in the name of God is probably not very Christlike.

Kevin T. Rice said...

Jack,

Take this from someone who likes you and respects your efforts here: let this stuff about Catholicism go. I hate to have shift from our new tone back to the older Taking A Fool To School tone. As Palpatine said to Luke in TESB, "It is you who are mistaken - about a great many things!" Pursuing this course is not going to work out well for you (unless you value being strongly and decisively refuted and, in the end, learning from your errors when they are corrected).

Jack Camwell said...

Rice,

I thought my tone with you was unchanged?

If you must refute me then please, by all means refute me and show me where I'm wrong.

That's not a "I know I'm right" challenge, that's me honestly being open to being shown to be wrong.

I don't care about being wrong, I only care about being right. And I can't be right if I'm never corrected.

Jack Camwell said...

I'm a bit disappointed, Rice, that you think that wouldn't work out well for me, as if my goal is to prove to everyone that I'm right and they're wrong.

So please, strongly and decisively refute me. I'm not afraid of being proven wrong.

(Return of the Jedi, btw. Palpatine had no direct contact with Luke in the Empire Strikes back =D)

Silverfiddle said...

Jack:

Are you sure you went to Catholic schools?

Indulgences are doctrine, but the selling of them was the abuse, and burning heretics at the stake was not doctrine.

Please do yourself a favor and go look this stuff up.

And your homosexual justification is internally coherent (although your premises are asserted, not proven), but it is completely unmoored from any outside authority or connection to God's word.

So again, you are making it up as you go along.

Now, what did you think of my explanation?

Silverfiddle said...

There's a fairyland castle where they serve pink frosting cupcakes at the end of the rainbow.

Go ahead Jack, refute me. Prove me wrong.

Jack Camwell said...

Silver,

Are you denying historical fact now? Heretics were burned at the stake, and their sentences were pronounced by ecclesiastical courts. Burning at the stake was indeed a part of Church doctrine. Go read something about the Inquisition. Jeez. Not only that, but look at the Salem witch trials. Tell me that wasn't based on warped Protestant religious doctrine of the time.

My premises were not unmoored at all. As I said, I could write an entire fucking TREATISE on the morality of human sexuality, but fortunately others have already done that.

I mean I could go on the internet and find all sorts of scholars and theologians who have written about human sexuality, but that won't do any good because you'll simply dismiss them as misguided. Do you honestly think that there are NO scholars and theologians out there that agree with what I've said?

Hell, the Catholic church doesn't even believe that sex is only meant for procreation. The catechism talks about the deep bond and personal union between the couple. GRANTED: the church believes it's only right if it's between a man and a woman in holy matrimony, but I have a hard time believing that that's the only way God meant for us to experience real love.

What's my basis for that? Well, homosexuals can't not be homosexual anymore than YOU can't be heterosexual. So they would basically be living a life in which they would never experience God's love the way he meant it to be experienced between two humans who deeply love each other. A just God, a loving God, would allow his creation to know his love in more ways than just a husband boning his wife.

So knowing that homosexuals are capable of feeling that same union and connection with each other through sexual intercourse, it would stand to reason that homosexuality is not a sin, since it entails the same spirit of union and ultimate intimacy.

Jack Camwell said...

"There's a fairyland castle where they serve pink frosting cupcakes at the end of the rainbow."

Wait I'm confused. Are you talking about heaven?

See, I can be snarky, too.

Silverfiddle said...

Yes, you can quote human sources on human sexuality, but what does God say?

The fairyland stuff? Just showing you that I can make stuff up too and ask others to refute it.

You still haven't answered my argument in Faith, Logic and Reason

I don't say that it isTHE answer, but it is a plausible answer that rebuts the "inconsistency" argument.

You did say you entertain other arguments in the Church of Jack.

Jack Camwell said...

What you fail to understand, Silver, is that I've been entertaining your argument for years.

It's nothing I haven't heard before, and it's nothing I haven't refuted countless times.

I've answered your argument from that article several times. There's only so many ways I can explain it, only so many examples I can give to help you understand the point I'm trying to make.

Given that you admit to having a hard time following me, I'm wondering if it's even worth it to continue to try to explain it to you.

We don't know what God has to say about it, Silver. All we know is what some book says that God says about it. That's where you have faith and I don't.

KP said...

<< I'm not so sure God shares our susceptibility to powerful emotions, if God even experiences emotion in the way we understand it. >>

Jack, I know you wrote some time ago. Here is my perspective:

At one time, God being God (perfect) there was no way for Him to understand the powerful emotions man deals with; but what about the analogy of God as Father. For me, it was not really graspable until I became a parent.

Then I better understood the depth of God's love for us, putting His Son on earth, His pride at the Son's obedience to the Father, His willingness to sacrifice, and the agony of God watching His Son die, especially knowing the He could have stopped it at any time. Especially at the moment of Christ's death, when He became sin for us, and he shouted "Father why have you forsaken me?”. As they experienced separation for the first time, when the Father could not look upon the Son for that moment, as He became all sin for all time, in that one crystallized, eternal, moment.

It’s one thing for a parent to deal with the pain of a child when the unexpected disaster strikes; like a diagnosis of stage four cancer. We have no choice. It is easy to be brave. It’s quite another to know what is going to happen, and go in with your eyes wide open.

God understands man’s emotions. Watching; feeling that excruciating pain and loss was his gesture to mankind. It's almost beyond my comprehension. It makes me misty eyed just writing about it.

Silverfiddle said...

"We don't know what God has to say about it, Silver."

Then you are lost in the fog.

Kevin T. Rice said...

"I thought my tone with you was unchanged?"

OUR tone remains good, but I was too optimisitc about the changein tone overall in this comment box.

"If you must refute me then please, by all means refute me and show me where I'm wrong....So please, strongly and decisively refute me. I'm not afraid of being proven wrong."

I thought you might say that. Very well, I will write an article and post an url with these comments. Since you are inviting me to refute you rather than merely digging in your heels and continue to argue, I will continue be as diplomatic in my tone as I can be.

"(Return of the Jedi, btw. Palpatine had no direct contact with Luke in the Empire Strikes back =D)"

Well, now I feel stupid! :)

Kevin T. Rice said...

"Especially at the moment of Christ's death, when He became sin for us, and he shouted "Father why have you forsaken me?”. As they experienced separation for the first time, when the Father could not look upon the Son for that moment, as He became all sin for all time, in that one crystallized, eternal, moment."

KP,

That is one of the most dramatic moments in the gospel narrative, indeed, in the whole Bible (I use the word "dramatic" in the sense that Dorothy Sayers used it in her wonderful essay about the Nicene and Athanasian creeds: "The Dogma Is The Drama".) G.K. Chesterton said that it was the moment when God Himself "seemed for an instant to be an atheist." (That's from Orthodoxy, by the way, one of the best books ever written).

KP said...

Kevin, thank you for those referrals. It was an incredibly dramatic and emotional experience for me to begin to understand that moment.

Kevin