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Old 5th January 2021, 06:20 AM   #161
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
As I was saying, even that doesn't top what's already in the bible. See, Lot being the good guy for offering his pre-teen daughters for a gang rape.
It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure Lot was never the good guy. He was a complete douchebag who got a second chance because of his uncle's pleading, and in one brief less-douchey moment managed to not completely **** it up.
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Old 5th January 2021, 06:44 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
The Northwest Semitic pantheon had two different members who would eventually get merged into what we now think of as the Jewish God. In the south a bunch of nomadic clans/tribes were just beginning to settle, and brought with them a preference for a nomadic god named Yahweh who, like them, was said to live in a tent. But the king of the pantheon was 'El, the favorite in the cities of the north like Ugarit. He lived in a mansion on a hill/mountain and had 70 children, including Yahweh. There's a non-Biblical story from Ugarit in which 'El is depicted dividing the world up and assigning each of the other gods a particular part of the world or a particular human tribe. In light of this story, a lot of the story from later chapters of Genesis through most of Exodus looks like the story of how Yahweh went about following his king's orders, trying to get his assigned tribe to accept him as their primary god. The Bible refers to its supposedly solo god by both of their names, which is why it's so strange in some ways, such as saying he lives both in a tent and in a mansion in different verses; it's preserving old stories & descriptions that used both of their names and trying to mash them together.

Asherah's role is unclear. There are signs that she was the wife of 'El, and signs that she was the wife of Yahweh, which looks like a result of the eventual merger of 'El and Yahweh into one character so we can't be sure which one was her husband originally. I've never heard about her being with Ba`al, but it would be an easy inference to make, because, while they were in the process of reducing from 70+ down to 1, there was a stage in which there were 3 left: Yahweh/'El, Asherah, and Ba`al.

We only have references to "Asherah" as a goddess in non-Biblical sources. In the Bible, her name only appears to refer to an object that represented her and was used in worshiping her, which at one time was still showing up in temples to Yahweh because they were really dual temples to the couple, complete with pairs of altars and pairs of incense bowls. The symbol named "asherah" after her was a decorated tree or pole. There's actually an admonition in the Bible against these things, which looks like an admonition against Christmas trees if you don't know about asherahs and the Yahwists' efforts to stifle the worship of the last few gods who weren't 'El/Yahweh. Somebody, I think Solomon, is also said to have dragged one out of the temple at some point; he's dragging a tree/pole, not a goddess, although it originally represented one.

All of that is fascinating!

Fun fact: we'd been speaking of Ahura Mazda here in this thread (or at least I had, as an entirely random example of another 'live' God). I googled around a bit, after reading your post, and here's an article that says that Yahweh was considered to be a "manifestation" of that self-same Ahura Mazda! (Which is kind of weird, because the Hebrews on the one hand, and the Persians on the other ... I suppose that was ancient-world globalization in action.)

But what isn't clear, is first, is all of this, this "evolution" of El into Yahweh, and his "consort", and all the rest of it, is this simply conjecture, or do we actually know this (that people actually did believe all of this)? And two, is this actually from the OT, or from other sources (and if so, which sources)? Because if this is from the Bible itself, then it would be entirely clear to anyone who's ever read the Bible cover to cover, through all of these centuries, that the Yahweh-God is a manufactured God, and what's more one whose "manufacture" has been gradual. (On the other hand, even if this "evolution" of God struck people as odd, I suppose they might simply have rationalized it away as God choosing to reveal different aspects of Himself to different people, or something like that.)

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Old 5th January 2021, 07:17 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
You’ve said later in this post, that suggesting a 1% probability for the existence of Thor would need to backed up, and, if it isn’t, then we can use Hitchen’s Razor to shave that argument off from serious consideration. And I agree! My point is, why on earth are you not as rigorous in how you view Pascal’s premise?
One only has to look at the hot mess that are the Christ Myth theories (yes theories plural) to see that Hitchen’s Razor is out to lunch in many of these arguments.

James Burke pointed in Day the Universe changes that any theory has to make assumptions about what is considered valid data. Extra crisis covers much the same area in God Does Not Play Dice.

Horace Miner satirized how a flawed premise can result in a flawed conclusion in his 1956 "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema". It reads like so many of the 'look at these poor savages who still believe in magic' piece that existed back then but the punch line is it is a about 1950s America.
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Old 5th January 2021, 08:32 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I googled around a bit, after reading your post, and here's an article that says that Yahweh was considered to be a "manifestation" of that self-same Ahura Mazda! (Which is kind of weird, because the Hebrews on the one hand, and the Persians on the other ... I suppose that was ancient-world globalization in action.)
There are a couple of different ways to look at that:
►Jews didn't treat this as a matter of good & evil until after they left their homeland & went east for a while & came back (instead it was more "different people have their own favorite gods; this one is mine/ours"), so the whole good-&-evil perspective could be something they picked up in the east.
►People who believe in gods and are fairly open-minded about it often look at foreign gods as the same as their own with different names.


Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
is this simply conjecture, or do we actually know this (that people actually did believe all of this)?.. if this is from the Bible itself, then it would be entirely clear to anyone who's ever read the Bible cover to cover
The Bible contains fragmentary hints which certainly look like an incomplete editing job of an older polytheism by late monotheists, if one looks at them without a monotheistic bias. But they've been given other interpretations by those who insist that the Jews were monothesists all along, and they're so fleeting and fragmented that other sources are needed to flesh it out more in any case.

In the Bible: God is referred to as one of multiple gods a bunch of times, it complains about people putting asherahs in the places of worship, and it openly names Ba`al as a competing god with a competing cult/religion which many Jews have been corrupted to believe in (and some are even named after; one even ended up being required to change his name, from Jeruba`al to I think Gideon, when he switched loyalties). There are also some other Jewish names for people that incorporate other Semitic gods' names. The explanation given by those who insist that the Jewish religion was monotheistic all along is that those other gods it mentions including Ba`al were "foreign" gods and the people who believed in them weren't really being Jewish. This is easier to buy in some cases than in others. For example, one or a few about "the council of the gods" not only make it sound like "God" is cooperating with the others in some way, but also sound like they're describing exactly the same scene that's described in non-Biblical sources about the royal court of 'El (where Yahweh was a member who took orders from 'El). Then there's the logic of how easily it keeps saying the Jewish people kept turning to other gods in general, making the Old Testament largely a story of the conflict between the True Jews and the Jews Corrupted By Foreign Influences; the people can't have kept turning, over & over again, to gods they didn't already believe in, and, if they believed in them, then that's a pantheon regardless of whether they started with it or imported it. Also, in addition to references to "other" gods, just the uses of the names "'El" (god) and "Yahweh" (Jehovah) are arranged weirdly, in a way that looks like a combination of two separate traditions without much effort at straightening out a consistent canon, particularly in the older stories, such as the Noah story telling every step of the way twice, once with each name and also with other details changed like how many animals, so you could separate them into two complete but different tales with everything told just once apiece. Then there's the burning bush, in which one of them calls out to Moses from the bush but then the other speaks to him. And even aside from both the other gods and the name-switching, earlier tales about god simply depict him as an ordinary polytheism-style lowercase-god living in this world with us, not a creator of everything, from not knowing where Adam & Eve were to traveling on foot toward Sodom and stopping at a loyal follower's tent to rest & eat.

Outside the Bible: Written descriptions of the Northwest Semitic pantheon can be found at sites of other Northwest Semitic populations from before the place got more homogenized. They name the same names that appear in the Bible and more, and describe the differences between them in more detail. the biggest single source is a city called Ugarit, with a whole library called "the Ugaritic texts". These range from tales of what the gods had done (some of which use the same phrases that are in the Biblical stories with the names replaced), to letters & treaties between kings of different cities which weren't all about the gods but cited them along the way while talking about other things. The Ugaritic texts, incidentally, also include one of the more chilling things from archeology: an ongoing conversation between two allied kings, with Ugarit keeping copies of both sides, until abruptly the last one, in which Ugarit asked for help because it was being attacked on all sides, during what we now call the Bronze Age Collapse. There was no answer; only destruction. There are also other non-Biblical writings, another fun one being the descriptions of an Egyptian military outpost on a river-island called Elephantine, where different ethnicities in one army were allowed to carry on their own separate religions freely, and the Jewish contingent followed a version of Judaism which the Bible would tell us didn't exist, such as getting to have their own temple that wasn't the Temple. Anyway, aside from written stuff, there's also physical evidence from the time when the Bible says they were supposed to be monotheistic, such as scattered temples with paired altars & incense bowls instead of one, paintings on stone & brick walls depicting two or three gods/goddesses (possibly an incentive for a law by monotheists against painting?), arrowheads bearing the Jewish names of their Jewish owners and which of the other gods they were devotees of, and more I'm not recalling right now. All of this just adds to the impression that Bible itself already made on some readers, that what's in the Bible has been heavily retroactively modified to make the Jewish religion appear to have already been monotheistic all along when it wasn't (yet).

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Old 5th January 2021, 11:49 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
You could look at it that way. Another is to look at the bible as a book where you have found truth and beauty, and the church community as a place where you find goodwill and strength, so you are willing to overlook the human shortcomings of it all. I love and accept my parents, spouse, and kids, despite their many shortcomings and wrongness, too.
How do you determine that they have "shortcomings"? Apparently there is a source outside the bible against which you need to compare to determine that it is lacking.

Sure, I can't disagree on that, but, in that case, what's the point of the bible?


Quote:
For many, the bible is not the final word. It is one piece of a larger tradition that you share with family and friends across the world and throughout time.
Or don't share. Family and friends certainly disagree on their take on the bible.

No, the bible isn't the "final word." But is it ANY word? Is there anything to be learned from the bible?

Yes, I know all the platitudes.

Quote:
Try this out against "I found it to be so". That one word change packs some punch.
How did you "find" it to be so?

By using resources outside the bible. So again, what is the use of the bible?


Quote:
All that is returning to dissecting and valuing. Truth, like poetry or whatever blows your skirt up, is visceral, not calculated. You feel it. That's why a lot of protestant traditions champion being 'born again', or other transformational conversion. It's a gut feeling, not a reasoned conclusion.
Yes, that's what I said. It's just asserted, and not a reasoned conclusion.

Good, we are in agreement. There is no reasonable basis for Christianity.

As I said, if Christians would just say that up front, this discussion would not even take place. But no, they are the ones who claim to base their beliefs on the bible. Now you admit, no, not really.


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Simply because if they are cool with it for themselves, they are not trying to gain your approval, and certainly not trying to justify anything. If they are living it in peace, it's all good.
If they are "living in peace" why are they even participating in the discussion?

Atheists aren't the ones on street corners preaching the Gospel of Non-Existence.

I watch a lot of Atheist Experience, which is an internet call-in show. Theist callers calling in all the time....why are they doing that? You don't think they are trying to justify anything?

Quote:
A lot of posters, I am gathering, meet up with a lot of self-righteous nasty-ass bigots. I think that's a freaking shame. Thing is, most of the genuinely faithful I know personally don't wear it on their sleeve, and are not trying to convert anyone. They're just at peace with it. I admit to being jealous of that sometimes. It's not a bad way to live.
Sure. In fact, I rarely have any discussions about religion with anyone. No atheist I know goes around talking about religion. Just like I don't go around talking about soccer - I don't care. But if someone brings up soccer, I will talk about it and give my opinion about ow they could open up the scoring by adding a 1 m section around the goal and providing "partial goals" (like 5 points for a goal and 2 points for a partial goal). So I have an opinion on the issue, but it's not like I bring up it whenever.

But when I encounter some preacher on campus spouting off about the evils of homosexuality and fornication and abortion, why wouldn't I?

Christians who are "living at peace" in their religiousity and "not trying to justify anything" aren't doing discussions in on-line forums to talk about their Christianity.
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Old 5th January 2021, 12:24 PM   #166
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure Lot was never the good guy. .
Peter called him "righteous" and there is a lot of implication in Genesis 18-19 that he is one of the few righteous guys in Sodom (recall the angels made a deal that they would not destroy Sodom if they could find 10 righteous people (or the only righteous person, even); they didn't, apparently, but sent Lot on his way to let him avoid being killed in the destruction)

Quote:
He was a complete douchebag who got a second chance because of his uncle's pleading,
No, no, no.

He was totally the "good guy" because he didn't let the mob have sex with the angels when they came to visit.

In Genesis 19:18, Lot says to the angels, "Your servant (him) has found favor in your eyes" and it's because he rescued them from the mob.

I don't see that Abraham even mentioned to the angels that Lot was there during their discussion in Genesis 18.
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Old 5th January 2021, 12:26 PM   #167
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And this is why the "LOL pillar of salt wife" is the only part of the Lot story that like 99% of people are actually aware of.
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Old 5th January 2021, 12:56 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
Peter called him "righteous" and there is a lot of implication in Genesis 18-19 that he is one of the few righteous guys in Sodom (recall the angels made a deal that they would not destroy Sodom if they could find 10 righteous people (or the only righteous person, even); they didn't, apparently, but sent Lot on his way to let him avoid being killed in the destruction)



No, no, no.

He was totally the "good guy" because he didn't let the mob have sex with the angels when they came to visit.

In Genesis 19:18, Lot says to the angels, "Your servant (him) has found favor in your eyes" and it's because he rescued them from the mob.

I don't see that Abraham even mentioned to the angels that Lot was there during their discussion in Genesis 18.

You're right of course. Although us lesser beings might judge Lot harshly, God with his powerful insight, could see the shinning goodness in Lot. Even Lot's incestuous relationship with his daughters in the cave afterwards, did not put a scowl on God's face.

The discussion God had with Abraham before these events is noteworthy. Abraham clearly bested God in that argument, about how many righteous folk in Sodom, would make the destruction unjustified. Not a topic the faithful like to dwell upon.
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Old 5th January 2021, 12:59 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And this is why the "LOL pillar of salt wife" is the only part of the Lot story that like 99% of people are actually aware of.

On the positive side for Lot. He wouldn't need to buy salt for a long time.
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Old 5th January 2021, 01:07 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And this is why the "LOL pillar of salt wife" is the only part of the Lot story that like 99% of people are actually aware of.
Remember: God did not destroy Sodom because the townspeople tried to have homosexual sex with the angels, or even because they were "inhospitable." God was planning on destroying the city even before the angels got there (Genesis 18), apparently because it was so wicked. He would have saved the town if they could find 10 righteous people.

In Ezekial 16:49 we learn, "‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. "

Nothing about buttsecks
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Old 5th January 2021, 02:21 PM   #171
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure Lot was never the good guy. He was a complete douchebag who got a second chance because of his uncle's pleading, and in one brief less-douchey moment managed to not completely **** it up.
Are we talking about the same guy? I'm talking about the one in Sodom. (The city, not the heavy metal band) You know, Genesis 19 or thereabouts?

Well, anyway... sure, you or I wouldn't consider him a good guy, and definitely not for THAT. But for God's representatives it made him the only guy good enough to be saved, before killing everyone else in town. And pretty much that was their whole purpose there, to find a righteous enough guy to save. And that act qualified Lot as such.

So yeah, God moves in mysterious ways. And by "mysterious", I mean "horribly deranged"


Edit: ah, I see a few others beat me to it. Curses, foiled again
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Old 5th January 2021, 02:31 PM   #172
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I always thought it was pretty clear from prior passages that he was a douchebag. Like I said, thanks to his uncle's pleading he got a second chance, and in a brief moment of clarity he managed to not completely **** it up. For me it was always about "God doesn't expect much at all, but he does expect something." Not "... and this is what a true saint looks like."
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Old 5th January 2021, 02:36 PM   #173
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The point wasn't whether he was 100% saintly, but that that counts as a good deed at all and/or worthy of a reward at all in the Bible, as opposed to counting as something truly horrifying. If I were one of those angels and someone had just offered up his pre-teen daughters for a gang rape, I wouldn't save that guy. In fact, I probably wouldn't even wait for God to nuke the town. I'd smite him into the frikken pavement on the spot myself.
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Old 5th January 2021, 03:08 PM   #174
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Just got the good oil from the experts at Catholic Answers:

Quote:

Question:

I don’t think Lot offering his virgin daughters to be raped (Gen. 19) was anything to be celebrated, despite his motivation to protect his visitors, do you?
Answer:
No. Lot offered his daughters to the Sodomites in order to protect his guests. In doing so, he was choosing to commit one evil in order to avoid another; the Church clearly teaches that this is wrong: “One may never do evil so that good may result from it” (CCC 1789).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Lot explains: “Lot interceded in behalf of his guests in accordance with his duties as host, which are most sacred in the East, but made the mistake of placing them above his duties as a father by offering his two daughters to the wicked designs of the Sodomites.” A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture agrees: “Lot cannot be praised. He chose what he considered the less of two evils” (195).

Interesting that Lot had to do anything to protect these angels. I thought angels were supposed to have powers. Couldn't they just twitch their noses or something, and slay those horny Sodomites. And where is God when all this is going on ...... out to lunch?
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Old 5th January 2021, 04:56 PM   #175
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Well, maybe, but the point still remains that God's angels did consider offering pre-teen girls for a gang rape, to be a lesser evil than letting two perfect strangers be harrassed by a mob. In fact, they considered it good enough to make Lot worth saving from God's wrath.

Note that

1. he only learns that they're sent by God at all around verse 13, by the time the whole thing had gone completely out of hand. Up to that point, as far as he knew, they were just two perfect strangers he had met at the city gates and invited them into his house, for no obvious reason.

So basically he wasn't even doing this for God's sake or anything. It wasn't an act of piety or anything.

2. it wasn't the only way to defuse the situation. In fact, there was no indication that it would even work, and it didn't. (I guess even an angry mob has higher standards than Lot.) Nor was it a last resort. He doesn't try to defuse it any other way first. He straight up just escalates all the way to offering his daughters to the mob, out of nowhere.

3. As a side note, apparently his daughters were engaged to be married to two guys (Genesis 19:14), so you can add two more people who were probably horrified by what Lot just proposed.


Anyway, I dunno, whether Lot considered it to be the lesser evil, or whatever, the fact is that the angels, acting with authority from God, considered it to be good. They considered Lot to be the only one worth saving from the city.

That is really the WTH part. Not what some people 3000 years later would think of it, but what basically God's representatives on scene think of it.
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Old 5th January 2021, 05:19 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting that Lot had to do anything to protect these angels. I thought angels were supposed to have powers. Couldn't they just twitch their noses or something, and slay those horny Sodomites.
They were under cover. He thought they were human. When what he tried didn't work, they did blow their cover and use their powers on the crowd.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
And where is God when all this is going on ...... out to lunch?
In the verses just before this, God is in human form, walking together with the angels when they stop at Abraham's place on the hill above the city. He's missing by the time they get down to the city. Given what a patchwork Genesis stories tend to be in general, this is probably a result of two versions of the story getting mashed together. But from the point of view of a retconner, God must have separated from his angels so he could watch without getting involved, whether by picking a spot somewhere on the hill slope or by flying.
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Old 5th January 2021, 05:51 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I always thought it was pretty clear from prior passages that he was a douchebag. Like I said, thanks to his uncle's pleading he got a second chance, and in a brief moment of clarity he managed to not completely **** it up. For me it was always about "God doesn't expect much at all, but he does expect something." Not "... and this is what a true saint looks like."
Where is this "uncle's pleading" to which you refer?

As I said, it's not in Genesis 18, where the angels meet up with Abraham.

Perhaps you are misremembering? Show us
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Old 5th January 2021, 05:56 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I always thought it was pretty clear from prior passages that he was a douchebag. Like I said, thanks to his uncle's pleading he got a second chance, and in a brief moment of clarity he managed to not completely **** it up. For me it was always about "God doesn't expect much at all, but he does expect something." Not "... and this is what a true saint looks like."
As I pointed out above, Peter calls him."righteous" so your insistence that it was clear he was a douchebag is certainly not generaluzable.

In fact, given that the angels went to Sodom looking for anyone "righteous" and Lot is the one they let go free yells you what they thought of him.

Lot is presented as the ******* hero of the story.
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Old 5th January 2021, 06:30 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
As I pointed out above, Peter calls him."righteous" so your insistence that it was clear he was a douchebag is certainly not generaluzable.

In fact, given that the angels went to Sodom looking for anyone "righteous" and Lot is the one they let go free yells you what they thought of him.

Lot is presented as the ******* hero of the story.
I never really saw it as a heroes kind of story.

God nukes the city anyway. Lot barely saves his own skin, and that of his family. Who immediately turn on him. Because they're all douchebags.

Not every square peg of Christian narrative fits neatly into the round hole of atheist prejudice
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Old 5th January 2021, 08:41 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I never really saw it as a heroes kind of story.
YOU obviously didn't. Presumably because you're saner than those angels. The point is that they did. And so does at least one NT author, as pgwenthold keeps telling you.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
God nukes the city anyway.
Well, yes, but that's pretty much just the setup of the story, and pretty much just for contrast. God would spare the city if there's even as little as 10 good men in it, who therefore deserve to live. But the angels only find one: Lot.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Lot barely saves his own skin, and that of his family.
That's the reward, not the act of heroism or anything.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Who immediately turn on him.
No, they don't. His daughters apparently just decide for settle for incest, if they didn't get a gangbang

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Because they're all douchebags.
"All" would be exactly two at that point: those daughters.

He does seem to be... not exactly made to feel welcome by the people of the town he fled to, though. Which, given his character, sounds plausible enough.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Not every square peg of Christian narrative fits neatly into the round hole of atheist prejudice
You know, I don't think I need atheism or any other ideology to be prejudiced against a guy who tried to get his pre-teen daughters gang-raped by an angry mob. It kinda just comes naturally.

And I have no problem if anyone thinks I'm just prejudiced against THAT. That's one badge I can wear quite proudly
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Old 6th January 2021, 07:30 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I never really saw it as a heroes kind of story.
For pete's sake, even his WIFE is a failure in the story. And the angels tell him that they are going to let his wife and kids go with him (they were willing to let the daughters' husbands go along, but they didn't take it seriously) as a favor to Lot for his actions to save them.

Lot gets saved because he trusts and obeys God. His wife didn't even get that. Basically, Lot is just like Noah in that regard.

Quote:
God nukes the city anyway. Lot barely saves his own skin,
Lot doesn't "save his own skin," barely or otherwise. The angels save his skin, and let him take his family. In fact, they tell him directly, now get out of here before we nuke the place.

Genesis 19
Quote:
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.
The angels literally drug them out of the city to save them from danger.

So much for "saves his own skin"


Quote:
and that of his family. Who immediately turn on him. Because they're all douchebags.
In what way does his family "turn on him"? His wife turns around and gets turned into a pillar of salt. His daughters (according to the story) rape him to get pregnant, although there are no negative consequences for them, so it's not like the story makes it a bad thing, and it's not about "turning on him," it's about having kids to preserve the family line

Quote:
31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth.
32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
They didn't "turn on him"

Quote:
Not every square peg of Christian narrative fits neatly into the round hole of atheist prejudice
Our interpretation is not an "atheist prejudice" it's a friggin reading of the story and it's consistent with biblical tradition. I'm not the one who decided Lot was righteous - hell, that was already claimed in one of the letters of Peter back in the 2nd century or so (and certainly was based on tradition at the time).

You are inventing things that aren't there. Are you ever going to provide support for your claim that the angels only let him go as a favor to his uncle? Or will you admit you just made that up? (I gave you the option of admitting you "misremembered" but you avoided it)
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Old 6th January 2021, 08:59 AM   #182
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Whenever I look for evidence that the God of the Bible is truly good and provides a beacon for all to follow I do not try to round off the square peg that is Lot. That story is a **** show of retconning over time that is nearly incomprehensible at this point. I stick to the short clear bits that stand alone without any need for, nor evidence of, retconning by subsequent writers. Where the truth is clear, there is no need for wordiness or confusing plots and subplots. I stick with the classics, like the Prophet Elisha. A man we can all admire and love to this day for his righteous and effective use of cursing:

Originally Posted by 2 Kings 2
Elisha Is Jeered

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
I'm thinking of having a tattoo of "2 Kings 2:23-25" placed on the back of my clearly bald head. Seems only fair to give some warning to the yutes.
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Old 6th January 2021, 09:46 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I'm thinking of having a tattoo of "2 Kings 2:23-25" placed on the back of my clearly bald head.
In barcode?
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Old 6th January 2021, 09:53 AM   #184
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To be fair, when I talk about Lot, I usually stick to the story that is written in Genesis, and not my take on the matter.

Which is
Lot comes back from the mountains with no wife and his two daughters have children. His friends say, whatever happened to your wife? And where did those kids come from?

Lot gives them this detailed nonsense about God turning the wife into a pillar of salt and the daughters taking advantage of him, because it sounds a lot better than the reality that is a drunken child molester and wife abuser.

Things that don't happen:
1) Guy passed out drunk and doesn't know that his daughter is having sex with him. Twice. If he's that passed out, he's not getting the uppy. To get the uppy, he has to be coherent enough to know it's his daughters
2) Woman turning in to a pillar of salt.

Things that do happen:
1) Drunk guy molests his daughters
2) Drunk guy kills his wife

As we see, even in Lot's glorified version of the story (you don't seriously think that the "historian" who is writing this down asked the daughters their version, do you?), Lot comes across as...not so good. And that is the BEST spin that can be put on it.

Reality is certainly much, much worse.

Then again, bad people are often heroes in the bible. Look at Jacob. This is the guy who conspired with his mother to make a costume to fool his father (Isaac) into thinking he was his brother (Esau) so that he could steal his father's blessing. Esau was Isaac's favorite son, but Jacob was preferred by the mother, so they tricked Isaac. He then went on wrestle with God, and to have children by 2 wives (sisters) and two of their slaves. And this is the guy who founded the nation of Israel.
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Old 6th January 2021, 10:10 AM   #185
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
How do you determine that they have "shortcomings"? Apparently there is a source outside the bible against which you need to compare to determine that it is lacking.

Sure, I can't disagree on that, but, in that case, what's the point of the bible?




Or don't share. Family and friends certainly disagree on their take on the bible.

No, the bible isn't the "final word." But is it ANY word? Is there anything to be learned from the bible?

Yes, I know all the platitudes.



How did you "find" it to be so?

By using resources outside the bible. So again, what is the use of the bible?




Yes, that's what I said. It's just asserted, and not a reasoned conclusion.

Good, we are in agreement. There is no reasonable basis for Christianity.

As I said, if Christians would just say that up front, this discussion would not even take place. But no, they are the ones who claim to base their beliefs on the bible. Now you admit, no, not really.
What I keep saying is that Christianity is not the book: it's the whole package. If being Christian was based on the book standalone, I don't think the religion would exist, and the scriptures would just be a historical collection of writings about bodacious bosoms and guys hung like mules (the OT jews were a pretty rowdy crew by all counts). People generally don't covert after running across a bible; they are born into the tradition and community, or get inspired to be in it from another believer. Saying Christianity is based on the Bible is trivially true, but the actual embracing of it reaches far beyond the text.


Quote:
If they are "living in peace" why are they even participating in the discussion?

Atheists aren't the ones on street corners preaching the Gospel of Non-Existence.

I watch a lot of Atheist Experience, which is an internet call-in show. Theist callers calling in all the time....why are they doing that? You don't think they are trying to justify anything?



Sure. In fact, I rarely have any discussions about religion with anyone. No atheist I know goes around talking about religion. Just like I don't go around talking about soccer - I don't care. But if someone brings up soccer, I will talk about it and give my opinion about ow they could open up the scoring by adding a 1 m section around the goal and providing "partial goals" (like 5 points for a goal and 2 points for a partial goal). So I have an opinion on the issue, but it's not like I bring up it whenever.

But when I encounter some preacher on campus spouting off about the evils of homosexuality and fornication and abortion, why wouldn't I?

Christians who are "living at peace" in their religiousity and "not trying to justify anything" aren't doing discussions in on-line forums to talk about their Christianity.
They are here. Do the OP and GDon seem to be vying for converts? Am I? But look at the immediate pushback.

Btw: I wanted to give a more thorough response to your thought-out reply, but couldn't get on laptop last night and prob won't tonight either. Apologies for short cel response but wanted to hit the main points anyway
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Old 6th January 2021, 10:35 AM   #186
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I had to take some theology courses as a part of my education. Pascal's wager was never mentioned. When I later learned of it and thought about it for more than a few minutes it dawned on me that Pascal was not an apologist, he was an arsonist. This is the worm that eats away at an unsure faith with slow but methodical certainty. Pascal never finished a book on the topic because he knew he would be hung as a heretic.

I was pretty good at acing the tests in theology, but apparently history teachers don't like creative writing.
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Old 6th January 2021, 10:38 AM   #187
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
They are here. Do the OP and GDon seem to be vying for converts?
How many Reverends do you know who don't eventually pass the plate? Much less Reverend Doctors? Your game may be long, but it is still predictable.

ETA: Just saw your venmo request in the other thread. Not so long after all. (That's what she said.)
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Old 6th January 2021, 10:52 AM   #188
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I had to take some theology courses as a part of my education. Pascal's wager was never mentioned. When I later learned of it and thought about it for more than a few minutes it dawned on me that Pascal was not an apologist, he was an arsonist. This is the worm that eats away at an unsure faith with slow but methodical certainty. Pascal never finished a book on the topic because he knew he would be hung as a heretic.

I was pretty good at acing the tests in theology, but apparently history teachers don't like creative writing.
Pascal was only brought up in my Philosophy course, mostly as a way of analizing an argument and spotting flaws in reason. I remember when the matrix of gambling an infinite payoff was brought up, I argued that unsubstantiated payouts should not be factored, as they blow the equation without showing that they are even on the table. Prof eventually turned to the secondary implication, that if you won, you might get eternal reward, but at least you lived an admirable life, so it was a no-lose wager. I opined that a life of drunken debauchery was a sure win and in fact it's own guaranteed reward, and spent years proving just that. Need to follow up with him on how it turned out.
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Old 6th January 2021, 11:15 AM   #189
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
How many Reverends do you know who don't eventually pass the plate? Much less Reverend Doctors? Your game may be long, but it is still predictable.

ETA: Just saw your venmo request in the other thread. Not so long after all. (That's what she said.)
Girth counts for more than length. Or money and /or roofies counts more. Something like that.

My preacher man grandfather never passed a plate, or took a dime. He did suggest things you could do personally, or donate to, to do God's work. Then again, he did his gig as a guest speaker or impromptu services at public places or campgrounds, and never had to foot the bills for maintaining the church building. I think he thought it was 'money off the top' that should be going towards good works.
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Old 6th January 2021, 11:34 AM   #190
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
To be fair, when I talk about Lot, I usually stick to the story that is written in Genesis, and not my take on the matter.

Which is
Lot comes back from the mountains with no wife and his two daughters have children. His friends say, whatever happened to your wife? And where did those kids come from?

Lot gives them this detailed nonsense about God turning the wife into a pillar of salt and the daughters taking advantage of him, because it sounds a lot better than the reality that is a drunken child molester and wife abuser.

Things that don't happen:
1) Guy passed out drunk and doesn't know that his daughter is having sex with him. Twice. If he's that passed out, he's not getting the uppy. To get the uppy, he has to be coherent enough to know it's his daughters
2) Woman turning in to a pillar of salt.

Things that do happen:
1) Drunk guy molests his daughters
2) Drunk guy kills his wife
I was under the same impression, but that would assume it to be a historical story. Which it's probably not.

The coin drops as to what it is, if you read to the bottom of the page: that's the origin story of two local tribes that were the enemies of the ancient Hebrews at the time. (Or rather, the Hebrews were hostile to anyone who wasn't them.) And we know that they LOVED to put offensive spins on the stories of people they didn't like.

Common ancestor stories were actually quite common in the ancient world. E.g., all Greeks were descendants of Hercules.

This one however really, it's got a weird twist. It goes on as if Lot was a good guy, and even God's angels say so, etc, which would seem like weird praise for the common ancestor of your enemies... but then suddenly all his descendants' family trees go through an incest. And for a very flimsy reason, too. I mean, seriously? Two girls barely hitting puberty can't find husbands in the ancient world, and have to resort to incest to propagate the family line? How implausible is that?

What seems likely to have happened is that they took an existing common-ancestor story that probably served as a basis for a local alliance, and put their own incest spin on the ending. That way, you don't have to argue that everything in their own story is false, from the beginning to the end, but just that you know some detail they omit. You're not saying "they're not descendants of righteous guy Lot at all", you're saying, "aye, they most definitely are, BUT <insert your own offensive detail>."

That would also explain why Lot is still a righteous guy and favoured the god(s), which would fit a common-ancestor origin story, but any of his descendants go through than incest link.

If I were to take a personal guess, I would bet that in the original story, those girls just get married to the two guys that get left behind in Sodom in our version of the story.
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Old 6th January 2021, 03:21 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Pascal was only brought up in my Philosophy course, mostly as a way of analizing an argument and spotting flaws in reason. I remember when the matrix of gambling an infinite payoff was brought up, I argued that unsubstantiated payouts should not be factored, as they blow the equation without showing that they are even on the table. Prof eventually turned to the secondary implication, that if you won, you might get eternal reward, but at least you lived an admirable life, so it was a no-lose wager. I opined that a life of drunken debauchery was a sure win and in fact it's own guaranteed reward, and spent years proving just that. Need to follow up with him on how it turned out.
I used to listen to a band in college who never made it big enough to have their lyrics on the web, but one of their lyrics was something along the lines of "we all have choices to make and mine's to get drunk in Mexico."

Although I have made the choice many times over the years, the lyric seemed brilliant at the time, sad for a bit, but now more like a goal than a choice.
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Old 6th January 2021, 11:34 PM   #192
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Hi Chanakya, I'd like to focus on my "Atheist's Wager" argument from the other thread, since I do think it is pertinent to what's happening in Pascal's Wager.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Originally Posted by GDon
My reasoning here is that it's the type of God being used in what's called "The Atheist's Wager"
The Wager states that if one were to analyze their options in regard to how to live their life, he or she would arrive at the following possibilities:
  • You may live a good life and believe in a god, and a benevolent god exists, in which case you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
  • You may live a good life without believing in a god, and a benevolent god exists, in which case you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
  • You may live a good life and believe in a god, but no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite.
  • You may live a good life without believing in a god, and no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite.
  • You may live an evil life and believe in a god, and a benevolent god exists, in which case you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
  • You may live an evil life without believing in a god, and a benevolent god exists, in which case you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
  • You may live an evil life and believe in a god, but no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a negative legacy to the world; your loss is finite.
  • You may live an evil life without believing in a god, and no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a negative legacy to the world; your loss is finite.
There are two premises here:
1. That there is such a thing as "living a good life" and "living an evil life"
2. That there may or may not be a benevolent god.

I'll leave the first premise alone for now. But for the second premise: note the use of a generic "benevolent" god. Does the logic work with a non-specific god? I think it does. You don't need to list a specific known god for this logic to work. I propose the same for Pascal's Wager.
I don't think it does, actually. You'd need to define what a "good" life is, in accordance with which to act (or at least to strive), in the context of a happy ending in the after-life, in every case. And I don't see how you can possibly do that without also defining your particular God, if only functionally. Like I'd said in that post in that other thread.
I agree that a definition for a "good life" is a missing premise, but I don't think it has to be defined in the context of this argument. Like I said before, conclusions from one argument become premises in other arguments. What makes a "good life"? I think we'll find that the conclusion to that question will result in further premises, and so on down the rabbit hole!

But I don't want to side-step this either. It may be that we really do need to go down that rabbit hole. As I said, this may become a long conversation! So: do you think it is possible to live a "good life"? Or is the concept undefinable? Do some people live a life "better" than others? (Things like selfless devotion to the homeless, for example)

On defining my 'generic' God: The Generic God is just another one of the many gods in the pantheon of gods, if you like. I use the classic definition of "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent". A being lacking one of those characteristics would not be God, in my opinion.

Do you have a definition of the word "God" and "god"?

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Originally Posted by GDon
For those atheists who believe that there is reason to lack belief in all gods, the Atheist's Wager is moot. Similarly, committed Christians, atheists, etc, will find Pascal's Wager unnecessary. Obviously wagering is not necessary when you are sure of the result already!

And note that we are starting to eliminate gods here. Logically, malevolent gods are eliminated, since wagering will be of no use: we are screwed whatever we choose.
I don't see that. Even in the reign of a malevolent God, one may (strive to) "act" one's way to a gentler screw-over. Besides, logically it might well be possible to actually attain even to bliss/beatitude/whatever even under a malevolent God, if you play your cards right.
Can you explain how? I don't see that, I'm sorry. A malevolent god would punish if it has the power, I'd assume.

By the way, I tend to focus on the responses that I think are pertinent. If there are questions I'm not addressing that you think I should be addressing, please bring them up. It may be that we end up having two separate conversations going: me answering your questions and you answering mine!
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Old 6th January 2021, 11:52 PM   #193
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
You may live a good life and believe in a god, but no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite.

You may live a good life without believing in a god, and no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite.
From your own post it is seen that Pascal's wager is flawed. Belief in God is
not necessary for gain.
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Old 7th January 2021, 12:28 AM   #194
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Even accepting the idea of some "generic god" -- which I can accept, really; in fact, already did for a long time even on this board -- there are several problems, though. Because if there is a god, it's going to be a specific one, with His or Her particular views and demands. There is no more a god that is a "generic god" than there is a human that is a "generic human." Any actual instance of either isn't gonna be very generic, is it? And that's where the problem's start. In no particular order:


1. It presupposes that you know what a benevolent God would consider a good life. The fact is, even the most superficial study of the history of religions will show a HUGE variation in what Gods consider to be a good deed or life. On almost every imaginable topic, you can find gods ranging from finding it good to finding it bad.

E.g., murder? Odin was ok with that. (In fact, he actually was FOR burning your enemies alive in their home, together with their families.) Thuggees also had a deity that was ok with that, and in fact COMMANDED them to murder and rob travellers. Etc.

E.g., slavery? Hell, even Yahweh outright COMMANDS it, and both Paul and the Gospel authors seem to be ok with it.

E.g., wartime rape? I could find other deities, but again, even Yahweh outright ORDERS it. Hell, Inanna was actually a serial rapist godDESS. Wrap your head around that one.

E.g., suicide? The aztecs even had a goddess of suicide, depicted as wearing a noose as a necktie, and yeah, you could just hang yourself and go to her heaven. Apparently it was an especially popular *ahem* passtime for women, for some reason. Ditto for Odin, actually. If you can't die bravely otherwise, just jump off a cliff, and off to Valhalla you can go.

E.g., homosexuality and paedophilia? Well, for one tribe in the Pacific, their belief stated that a boy can't produce his own seed, until he is *ahem* seeded by an adult. Orally. So yeah prepubescent boys (since they couldn't produce their own seed yet) got to suck off some older dudes. Again, not just OK in that religion, but COMMANDED.

E.g., prostitution? We know from Herodotus that in the religion of Ishtar, not only it was OK and indeed sacred, but it was COMMANDED by the deity. As in, young girls had to prostitute themselves at least once before marriage. And the less attractive ones apparently got to wait for days or indeed weeks until some horny soul gave them at least a coin for their pussy.

E.g., incest? Well, that's an easy one. In ancient Egyptian religion, the most sacred and ideal marriage was between brother and sister. To the extent that even spouses who weren't actually sibblings, called each other "brother" and respectively "sister", just to at least pretend they're doing it Lannister style, like all the cool kids.

But it gets even better. In the religion of Inanna the King had to ritually screw the high priestess at least once a year, or more often if he needed an extra blessing. The best known high priestess of Inanna was Enheduanna, who gave us some rather... disturbingly bloothirsty psalms for her goddess. She was also the King's daughter. Because, you know, if you power depends on religion, you might as well put one of your kids in charge of the religion part. And yep, she got boned regularly by her dad. Which was apparently absolutely A-OK with her goddess too. In fact, it would have been impious NOT to.

E.g., should you be live-and-let-live with followers of other religions? Yahweh definitely is against that, and even Revelation says Jesus can and will "spit you out" if you're just lukewarm about him. (As opposed to, I guess, a bible-thumping fanatic.) So that may actually count as the polar opposite of living a good life, as far as those are concerned.

Etc.

So presuming you know what some fundamentally unknown and undefined deity would consider to be a good life is... presumptuous, to say the least.


2. Some religions aren't about "living a good life" at all, or not per se.

The low hanging fruit is Buddhism, which isn't about being moral per se, but about learning to not desire stuff. Literally the ultimate reward, nirvana, happens when you've lost even the desire to live, which would get you reincarnated. The only moral rules that apply are only in as much as going against them would show that you're not past desiring stuff.

Which also has weird implications like that if you gave money to a beggar or to charity, you may actually be doing something evil: you're interfering with those people's learning their lesson.

But other religion fit the bill too. E.g., Odin isn't about you being a nice dude, but about your proving you're fit to be his soldier ("einherjar") because you were fearless in the face of death. That's it. That's what qualifies you to stand in Asgard's battle line in the battle of Ragnarök. That's how the allfather knows you won't just crap yourself and run away when charged by a mess of fire giants with flaming swords that can even set a whole planet ablaze. How you lived doesn't matter worth Jack ****. If you were a serial killer and rapist and died fearlessly in a shoot-out with the cops, you go to Valhalla. If you were a philanthropist who died cowering in fear, you go to, well, Loki's daughter.


3. That still doesn't get you off the hook if your deity demands certain rituals, not just being some general good guy.

E.g., even for Yahweh, unless you ritually pay a certain sacrificial animal, you can be a lousy sinner for as little as sleeping in the same bed as your wife (or really, even touching her bed) when she's on her period. Literally. Or not being circumcised. Or if your parents didn't do the proper sacrifice when you were born. Skipping Yom Kippur also doesn't help your case.


4. MORE IMPORTANTLY, that omits the fact that for more than one religion, including Xianity, but more generally the whole class of Hellenic saviour god cults, you NEED to accept a specific God to be saved. Just being good won't do jack for your going to heaven. You need to specifically accept Jesus, if that's the real god, or Mithras, or Bacchus-Dionysus, or Zalmoxis, or whichever is the real god, to actually be saved.

The whole POINT of that whole class of religions, is that a specific dude underwent some kind of passion, through which he and only he gained power over death. Which he is willing to share ONLY with his followers. That meaning, not just coincidentally following his rules, but being ritually accepted (typically via a baptism) into HIS 'family'. Everyone else can <bleep> off and die, as far as any of those deities are concerned.

Worse yet, a lot of those are mystery cults and/or gnostic cults. It may or may not not just be enough to join specifically that God's cult, but you may also need to be initiated in whatever secrets are needed for you to transcend this world.

Just living a good life is NOT enough for salvation.


TL;DR version: thinking that it's as simple as X="live a good life" => Y="get eternal reward" for any possible benevolent deity is... hilariously ignorant, to put it mildly.

Edited by Agatha:  Edited for rule 10. Type all swear words out in full and correctly spelt.
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Old 7th January 2021, 07:27 AM   #195
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
Hi Chanakya, I'd like to focus on my "Atheist's Wager" argument from the other thread, since I do think it is pertinent to what's happening in Pascal's Wager.

Happy to, GDon.

I'm not sure I see the point, though. I see the similarities between the two, sure, but I'm not sure why we'd want to jump off our earlier discussion, that we'd kind of parked at that last post of mine, on to this other, albeit not unrelated, discussion.

But still, like I said, I'm happy to move on to this, if that is what you wish.


Quote:
I agree that a definition for a "good life" is a missing premise, but I don't think it has to be defined in the context of this argument. Like I said before, conclusions from one argument become premises in other arguments. What makes a "good life"? I think we'll find that the conclusion to that question will result in further premises, and so on down the rabbit hole!

But I don't want to side-step this either. It may be that we really do need to go down that rabbit hole. As I said, this may become a long conversation! So: do you think it is possible to live a "good life"? Or is the concept undefinable? Do some people live a life "better" than others? (Things like selfless devotion to the homeless, for example)

I'm putting this paragraph in bold font, because this is central to this discussion, and I see not the slightest possibility of leeway on this. Defining what makes a "good life" is absolutely necessary, whether in the context of Pascal's Wager, or this Atheist Wager. I think we've covered this before, but one more time, here's why:

In terms of these wagers (whether Pascal's, or this other one now), we're not really seeking to understand what is a "good life" for aesthetic or moral reasons. Our focus is strictly utilitarian. We're seeking only to win, per the terms of the wager. How on earth can we win, unless we know exactly what we are to do in order to win?

Also, this wager is not predicated on understanding truth value, but in determining how we are to act. And that decision can only be meaningful, if we know exactly what kinds of actions we are committing ourselves to, no?

Isn't this much evident, clear? Okay, let me go ahead and define what is a good life for you, in the context of these Wagers. Tell me if you find my definition amiss.

I'll define a good life, and good actions -- in the context of these wagers -- as that kind of life and those kinds of actions that are in consonance with what God wants (assuming there is a God), so that as a result of our doing these things and leading this kind of life we attain to whatever rewards this God has in store.

Seems straightforward. Agreed on that?

In other words, we need to know the mind of God. Broadly at least, and at least to the extent as it relates to how He wants us to act. In other words, we need to know what it is God considers "good", when it comes to our actions. That is the only definition of "good" that is relevant here.

And doing that automatically ends up giving us a functional definition of God!

This is important, because we see IRL that different Gods, that people do in fact revere and/or worship, do often have entirely conflicting prescriptions on what is "good". I'd mentioned killing heathens and apostates vis-a-vis eschewing all kinds of violence as one such set of contrasting prescriptions from different Gods in a previous post. Hans Mustermann has provided a great many other such examples in his post # 194.



This is not a detail. This is absolutely central to the Wager. If rabbit hole this is, then this rabbit hole is the whole of the wager, because without this clear definition the Wager (whether Pascal's version, or this other one) becomes meaningless.



Quote:
On defining my 'generic' God: The Generic God is just another one of the many gods in the pantheon of gods, if you like. I use the classic definition of "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent". A being lacking one of those characteristics would not be God, in my opinion.

I don't see why. Those seem to be entirely random things that you're assuming. To begin with, why should God even be singular? How do you know there aren't twenty of them? And, more to the point, why would you wager on there being just one God when in fact there may be twenty, all existing simultaneously, an Olympus-like scenario? Even if reality were Olympus, you'd still want to "win", right?

Secondly, why must a God necessarily be omniscient, or necessarily be omnibenevolent, or even omnipotent? Why not merely a God that is immeasurably more powerful than us, but nevertheless none of those things? I mean, those are random things that you're assuming, aren't they?



In any case, I repeat again, as far as the Wager, what we really want is a functional definition of God. Even if you do define your God as tri-omni, as above, then, for that definition to be meaningful as far as the Wager, we'd need to further define what those three words actually mean, in terms of what we are to do and how we are to live. That functional definition is what we want, isn't it?



Quote:
Do you have a definition of the word "God" and "god"?

Me personally? I'm aware of a great many God-ideas extant in the world. I do know/understand the "definitions" of (some of) those Gods, both conceptually and functionally. I suppose I could also list the kinds of qualities I'd like in a God, were there to be a God. But beyond that ...?



Quote:
Can you explain how? I don't see that, I'm sorry. A malevolent god would punish if it has the power, I'd assume.

Sure, He would. I suppose any God that is powerful enough would be able to punish us and/or to reward us. Isn't that the whole point of these wagers, to avoid those punishments and to attain to those rewards?

In the strictly functional sense of these wagers, I don't see that there can be any meaningful definition of "good" other than "the kind of thing that God will reward", nor any meaningful definition of "evil" other than "the kind of thing that God will punish". Not in the utilitarian, functional sense of these wagers.



Quote:
By the way, I tend to focus on the responses that I think are pertinent. If there are questions I'm not addressing that you think I should be addressing, please bring them up. It may be that we end up having two separate conversations going: me answering your questions and you answering mine!

I think we've kind of covered it here, in this post. Just, to wrap it up, let me repeat what I'd said before: The reason why I think it is important to acknowledge that a (functional) definition for a God is necessary, is that once you do see that, you'll also see that that definition is something you'll need to defend (as far as specificites, and also as opposed to other specifities of other Gods) -- unless you're to give in to fallacious special pleading, as Pascal has done (in my understanding). That last is the whole point of the many-Gods objection, as I see it.

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Old 7th January 2021, 03:44 PM   #196
GDon
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I'm putting this paragraph in bold font, because this is central to this discussion, and I see not the slightest possibility of leeway on this. Defining what makes a "good life" is absolutely necessary, whether in the context of Pascal's Wager, or this Atheist Wager. I think we've covered this before, but one more time, here's why:

In terms of these wagers (whether Pascal's, or this other one now), we're not really seeking to understand what is a "good life" for aesthetic or moral reasons. Our focus is strictly utilitarian. We're seeking only to win, per the terms of the wager. How on earth can we win, unless we know exactly what we are to do in order to win?

Also, this wager is not predicated on understanding truth value, but in determining how we are to act. And that decision can only be meaningful, if we know exactly what kinds of actions we are committing ourselves to, no?
I actually would disagree. (WARNING: incoming analogy!) If someone asked "What is a good way to get rich over time?", the answer might be "investing wisely". As a general answer, I think most people would agree. Of course, to be successful at investing, you would need to know actual details about stocks, etc. But "investing wisely" is still a good answer, even without knowing the details.

Similarly, "living a good life" might be considered as something "good", without actually knowing exactly what kinds of actions are required.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Isn't this much evident, clear? Okay, let me go ahead and define what is a good life for you, in the context of these Wagers. Tell me if you find my definition amiss.

I'll define a good life, and good actions -- in the context of these wagers -- as that kind of life and those kinds of actions that are in consonance with what God wants (assuming there is a God), so that as a result of our doing these things and leading this kind of life we attain to whatever rewards this God has in store.
I think that hits the point I'm making with using the Atheist's Wager. If you tie "good life" into the possible existence of God, does that mean that if there is no God or gods, then there is no such thing as a "good life"?

For transparency, the point I'm making is whether there is something that we can consider an objective "good" in the absence of a belief in God. Of course it's part of the old arguments that get made in theistic/atheistic debates. But it is important in terms of the Wager. (Note that I don't mean "you need to believe in God in order to be good"!)

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
In other words, we need to know the mind of God. Broadly at least, and at least to the extent as it relates to how He wants us to act. In other words, we need to know what it is God considers "good", when it comes to our actions. That is the only definition of "good" that is relevant here.
So does that mean the branch of the Atheist's Wager "You may live a good life without believing in a god, and no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite" is impossible? I.e. "good life" and "positive legacy" become devoid of meaning.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
This is important, because we see IRL that different Gods, that people do in fact revere and/or worship, do often have entirely conflicting prescriptions on what is "good". I'd mentioned killing heathens and apostates vis-a-vis eschewing all kinds of violence as one such set of contrasting prescriptions from different Gods in a previous post.
We need to be clear between two things: what other people claim to believe, and what you and I are claiming exists. Are you saying that people doing bad things in the name of gods is evidence towards showing the gods don't exist? In that case, are people doing good things in the name of gods providing evidence towards those gods' existence? Personally, I don't think we need to go beyond "religious people can be hypocrites".

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Hans Mustermann has provided a great many other such examples in his post # 194.
I'm sorry, but I can't see Hans Mustermann's posts. But if he writes something you agree with, no worries if you add it into your comments as coming from you. (I'd only ask you use ones that you personally think are good points and are willing to defend.)

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
This is not a detail. This is absolutely central to the Wager. If rabbit hole this is, then this rabbit hole is the whole of the wager, because without this clear definition the Wager (whether Pascal's version, or this other one) becomes meaningless.
I agree. In the Wager, we need to understand which God or gods we are using; at least enough so that the Wager is useable.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I don't see why. Those seem to be entirely random things that you're assuming. To begin with, why should God even be singular? How do you know there aren't twenty of them? And, more to the point, why would you wager on there being just one God when in fact there may be twenty, all existing simultaneously, an Olympus-like scenario? Even if reality were Olympus, you'd still want to "win", right?
Agreed. I'm guessing that, if we are using "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent" as a definition, then it doesn't matter if there is one or more gods. If they are all omniscient, I'm guessing they are think the same.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Secondly, why must a God necessarily be omniscient, or necessarily be omnibenevolent, or even omnipotent? Why not merely a God that is immeasurably more powerful than us, but nevertheless none of those things? I mean, those are random things that you're assuming, aren't they?
Not really. That is, the definition of God for me is "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent." The universe might have been created by a very powerful being (or beings), but that doesn't make it God (according to my definition). There might be a being that is very very knowledgeable, but that doesn't make it God. There might be a being or beings that are very very good, but that doesn't make it God.

Atheists generally agree with that definition, as far as I know. The atheist argument that the "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent" attributes of God clash "therefore God doesn't exist" is predicated on a definition of God that is "omni-max". Omni-max or bust!

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
In any case, I repeat again, as far as the Wager, what we really want is a functional definition of God. Even if you do define your God as tri-omni, as above, then, for that definition to be meaningful as far as the Wager, we'd need to further define what those three words actually mean, in terms of what we are to do and how we are to live. That functional definition is what we want, isn't it?
No, I don't think we need to know what to do or how to live. The Wager isn't about that. It's like my analogy () of investing wisely: "God" is in the over-all meaning; "the Devil" is in the details. The starting point is "omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence"; one might then look to tradition or philosophy for details.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Sure, He would. I suppose any God that is powerful enough would be able to punish us and/or to reward us. Isn't that the whole point of these wagers, to avoid those punishments and to attain to those rewards?
It is. But I see the idea of a malevolent God as giving rewards for people's bad behaviour as a defeater of Pascal's Wager and the Atheist's Wager. So this is an important point: Would a hypothetical malevolent God reward people?

Note that this is a similar argument against a benevolent God: Would a benevolent omni-max God punish people?

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
In the strictly functional sense of these wagers, I don't see that there can be any meaningful definition of "good" other than "the kind of thing that God will reward", nor any meaningful definition of "evil" other than "the kind of thing that God will punish". Not in the utilitarian, functional sense of these wagers.
I'm repeating an earlier point, so no need to respond. But I'll note that it sounds like you are saying that there is no objective good or evil without God. (Again, I'm not referring to that old theist strawman argument "atheists are not good people")

I'm aware that I probably haven't weighed your comments about a functional definition of God enough. I agree that Pascal's Wager and the Atheist's Wager don't explain what we need to do and what we need to believe in order to get the rewards. But to my mind, that isn't the purpose of the Wagers. That is, if you conclude that it is worth wagering, then that conclusion becomes a premise in the next argument: what to actually do to get the rewards? But I don't see that as a flaw in the Wagers. So, for the purposes of the Wager, I don't see anything more needed than "omni-max" as a definition for the God that I (hopefully) am defending in the Wager. But I'll be interested in your thoughts about this.

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Old 7th January 2021, 06:13 PM   #197
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I can't speak for him, but what I have been saying is that for the purpose of the wager, what matters is what that God will reward or punish, not what your idea of being objectively good is. Yes, yes, good and evil may exist without God, but that's a different topic than whether a specific God sees it as such. Basically at this point you seem to be just running around with the goalposts, really.
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Old 7th January 2021, 08:34 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I can't speak for him, but what I have been saying is that for the purpose of the wager, what matters is what that God will reward or punish, not what your idea of being objectively good is. Yes, yes, good and evil may exist without God, but that's a different topic than whether a specific God sees it as such. Basically at this point you seem to be just running around with the goalposts, really.

The goalposts would seem to be mounted on casters for easy movability.
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Old 7th January 2021, 09:24 PM   #199
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Originally Posted by GDon View Post
I actually would disagree. (WARNING: incoming analogy!) If someone asked "What is a good way to get rich over time?", the answer might be "investing wisely". As a general answer, I think most people would agree. Of course, to be successful at investing, you would need to know actual details about stocks, etc. But "investing wisely" is still a good answer, even without knowing the details.
Your post doesn't make sense.

A good answer is of no use if one has no idea how to invest wisely.
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Old 8th January 2021, 06:02 AM   #200
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It sounds to me like GDon is proposing that any proper god will automatically want us to do things that modern kind people find morally pleasant because if it knows everything then it will have reached the same conclusions that modern kind people have.
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