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Author Topic: Religious reconciliation: 'Omni-' properties, the afterlife and Universal Love?  (Read 3659 times)

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theCelestrian

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Pre-Discussion Brief:

Comparative theology, philosophy and metaphysics is somewhat of a hobby of mine - and as such I end up getting in quite a few discussions revolving around this topic with all sorts of individuals - and as an agnostic tend to get into arguments with both sides, as neither the overtly devout nor the dogmatically atheist tend to take to kindly to a "wishy-washy agnostic," who likes to the ride the fence.  In fact, I have been accused of being a "spiritualist," which according the person levying the term, is actually worse than being either religious or atheistic, as is reveals an inner flaw of my personal character as a being unable to be trusted.

However, this thread concerns a trend I have noticed in many of my conversations with the devoutly religious worshippers of The God of Abraham (i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and revolves around a series of assumptions/postulations that I find extremely difficult to reconcile as being consistent.  I have created this thread as I would be very interested in the thoughts of those who have opinions on either side, but in particular those who would qualify themselves as religious.

This is not intended as a Nelson-eque "ha-ha" kind of conversation. I am genuinely curious, and am trying to find some satisfactory answers.


The Question(s):


  • How can the statements below all be true at the same time?
    Granted, there's some immediately obvious questions that have been circled probably around-and-around before (ahem... free will?), but there are some other, more subtle potential.... inconsistencies, when one looks at several of these beliefs against each other.  I'm curious to know if anyone has some satisfactory answers to attempt to reconcile them.

                    or

  • What's wrong with the following statements and how do they need to be clarified to accurately reflect the beliefs of the faithful?
    Obviously, severe inaccuracies should probably be remedied, so if you see something glaringly wrong from a standpoint of whether or not this accurately reflects a distillation of these beliefs, then by all means please let me know.





The Statements/Beliefs for Consideration:

The following statements are a result of several conversations with religious individuals of both an official (priests, etc...) and unofficial capacity, my own readings and interpretations, and the writings/interpretations of others. These statements are meant to most closely portray the current and contemporary understanding of God and His nature as delineated by the faithful.

  • God loves everyone.

    • God wants the "best" for everyone

    • The "best" for everyone is to be in the "better" part of the afterlife
      The "better" portion of this statement is covered later.

  • God wants everyone to be "saved."

    • Therefore, human beings require saving.

    • It is possible for a person NOT to be saved.

  • A Segregated Afterlife exists:

    • The benefits of this segregation are not equal:
      Whether you call it "heaven / hell" or "closeness / distance from God," there is by default, a better and worse part of the afterlife to be in than the other.

    • Upon placement, your experience in this segregated afterlife is permanent and profound:
      Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this.  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

  • God is Omnipresent.

  • God is Omniscient:
    ...meaning:

    • God knows all outcomes:
      Often summarized by, "God has a plan," and "I am the Alpha and the Omega."

    • Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]:
      This is a natural conclusion (one that tends to be readily admitted to once I step through this with the religious) of God having a plan - as his plan obviously would encompass the "final tally" of the ranks of the redeemed and the ranks of the damned.

  • God is Omnipotent
    ...meaning:

    • There is nothing that God cannot do.

    • God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.

  • Human beings possess free-will, and can thus accept or reject God's covenant.




I look forward to your postulations and insights.

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Pre-Discussion Brief:


The Question(s):


  • How can the statements below all be true at the same time?
      I'm curious to know if anyone has some satisfactory answers to attempt to reconcile them.

                    or

  • What's wrong with the following statements and how do they need to be clarified to accurately reflect the beliefs of the faithful?

The Statements/Beliefs for Consideration:


  • 1.God loves everyone.

    • 2.God wants the "best" for everyone

    • 3.The "best" for everyone is to be in the "better" part of the afterlife
      The "better" portion of this statement is covered later.

  • 4.God wants everyone to be "saved."

    • 5.Therefore, human beings require saving.

    • 6.It is possible for a person NOT to be saved.

  • 7.A Segregated Afterlife exists:

    • 8.The benefits of this segregation are not equal:
      Whether you call it "heaven / hell" or "closeness / distance from God," there is by default, a better and worse part of the afterlife to be in than the other.

    • 9.Upon placement, your experience in this segregated afterlife is permanent and profound:
      10.Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this.  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

  • 11.God is Omnipresent.

  • 12.God is Omniscient:
    ...meaning:

    • 13.God knows all outcomes:
      Often summarized by, "God has a plan," and "I am the Alpha and the Omega."

    • 14.Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]:
      This is a natural conclusion (one that tends to be readily admitted to once I step through this with the religious) of God having a plan - as his plan obviously would encompass the "final tally" of the ranks of the redeemed and the ranks of the damned.

  • 15.God is Omnipotent
    ...meaning:

    • There is nothing that God cannot do.

    • 16.God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.

  • 17.Human beings possess free-will, and can thus accept or reject God's covenant.




I look forward to your postulations and insights.



1.  I don't know if that is true.
2.  Yes.
3.  No. A person can spend their merits now, and not have any principle for the world to come.
4.  I don't know what you mean by saved.
5.  See #4
6.  See #5
7.  Yes
8.  Yes
9.  It is not permanent, but it is profound.
10. Not really.
11. Yes
12. Yes
13. Yes, but you still have free will.
14. Yes
15. Yes
16. Yes
17. Right, but rejecting doesn't mean it no longer exists. Its akin to not following a law you don't like. You can still get busted for it, and with G-d, there is perfect recall of indiscretions.
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theCelestrian

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1.  I don't know if that is true.
2.  Yes.
3.  No. A person can spend their merits now, and not have any principle for the world to come.
4.  I don't know what you mean by saved.
5.  See #4
6.  See #5
7.  Yes
8.  Yes
9.  It is not permanent, but it is profound.
10. Not really.
11. Yes
12. Yes
13. Yes, but you still have free will.
14. Yes
15. Yes
16. Yes
17. Right, but rejecting doesn't mean it no longer exists. Its akin to not following a law you don't like. You can still get busted for it, and with G-d, there is perfect recall of indiscretions.

  • Saved: The the soul in question in winds up in [BETTER] for the Afterlife, or as you put it "World to Come;" Winding up in position where the soul experiences that which is defined by the religion, "redeemed."


Excellent.

1. How can #2, #7, #8 and #12 - #17 all be true at the same time?

If you require the questions laid out explicitly, let me know and I will outline them.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 07:39:06 PM by theCelestrian »
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I don't agree with ascribing human attributes to God.  Such as "knowledge" "want" etc.  God is above all of that and far too complicated for humans to be able to ascribe such traits.
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  • Saved: The the soul in question in winds up in [BETTER] for the Afterlife, or as you put it "World to Come;" Winding up in position where the soul experiences that which is defined by the religion, "redeemed."


Excellent.

1. How can #2, #7, #8 and #12 - #17 all be true at the same time?

If you require the questions laid out explicitly, let me know and I will outline them.

Lay them out, otherwise anyone else following this discussion will need to make a flowchart.
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I don't agree with ascribing human attributes to God. 

Fair. However, the Bible, and more to the point - the vast majority of the faithful - uses these attributes all the time when describing God.  "Jealous" "loving" "vengeful" "wroth" . . . would you postulate then that holy books with these types of adjectives are thusly invalidated then, or that those claiming to be of the faithful are mistaken in their assertations?

God is above all of that and far too complicated for humans to be able to ascribe such traits.

...but apparently not so complicated that He/She/It speaks to various people and prophets.  In fact I have read on this very forum from the faithful that their relationship with God is personal and direct.  If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?

Personally - I find your position much more compelling, but this is a very decidedly Daoist take on God/Divinity, to quote Lao Tsu from the Dao De Jing:


The Dao that can be named is not the true and eternal Dao.




Diogenes The Cynic:

  • 2. God wants the "best" for everyone,
    7. A Segregated afterlife exists,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]

    If these statements are true, all of which you agreed to - how is it possible that God wants the "best" for an individuals soul if upon creation, He knows that he is creating a soul due to be (for Christians) suffering eternally in Hell, or (for Jews) to not know God and be distant from him in the World to Come?  We can use "best" and "redeemed" interchangeably I think depending on which denomination we're talk to.


The obvious:
  • 15.God is Omnipotent
    16.God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.,
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will

    How can God control All, but not be in control of the will of humans?  The only way this logically makes sense if he chooses to relinquish that power and inso doing also relinquishes his omnipotence.  As a summation, I would posit that: "Omnipotence - free will != Omnipotence"


Prior to proceeding further - I think we need to reach a consensus on:

1. God loves everyone. - Is this an accurate reflection of the faithful?

4. God wants everyone to be "saved."

10. Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this:  I notice you didn't enumerate the following clause - would you agree to this then:

10(alternate):  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

If not, how can we square this to be an accurate reflection for the purposes of discussion?
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I'll answer your query from my opinion on 15,16,17.

God created the universe and set the laws of physics at that point and is in effect everything in the universe and more.  To that extent he is the universal architect and omnipresent and omnipotent.  But that doesn't mean that he is reaching in and controlling anything at all beyond the laws of physics as we know them.  So that means that there is no conflict between human beings having free will and God being an omnipotent Universal Architect beyond the fact that we literally cannot violate God's most concrete laws (the laws of physics).
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1)  God loves everyone.

Heretical and fallacious to ascribe human emotions to God.  So neither yes nor no, bad question.


2)  God wants the "best" for everyone

See #1


3)  The "best" for everyone is to be in the "better" part of the afterlife
The "better" portion of this statement is covered later.

I have seen no evidence of an afterlife for anyone besides Elijah in the Torah, so this question is not directed at me.


4)  God wants everyone to be "saved."

Not sure what "Saved" is.


5)  Therefore, human beings require saving.

6)  It is possible for a person NOT to be saved.

See #4


7)  A Segregated Afterlife exists:

The benefits of this segregation are not equal:
Whether you call it "heaven / hell" or "closeness / distance from God," there is by default, a better and worse part of the afterlife to be in than the other.

Upon placement, your experience in this segregated afterlife is permanent and profound:
Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this.  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

See #3


8)  God is Omnipresent.

God is Omniscient:
...meaning:

God knows all outcomes:
Often summarized by, "God has a plan," and "I am the Alpha and the Omega."

9)  Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]:
This is a natural conclusion (one that tends to be readily admitted to once I step through this with the religious) of God having a plan - as his plan obviously would encompass the "final tally" of the ranks of the redeemed and the ranks of the damned.

10) God is Omnipotent
...meaning:

There is nothing that God cannot do.

God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.

11)  Human beings possess free-will, and can thus accept or reject God's covenant.

I addressed these in my previous post.
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theCelestrian

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I'll answer your query from my opinion on 15,16,17.

God created the universe and set the laws of physics at that point and is in effect everything in the universe and more.  To that extent he is the universal architect and omnipresent and omnipotent.  But that doesn't mean that he is reaching in and controlling anything at all beyond the laws of physics as we know them.  So that means that there is no conflict between human beings having free will and God being an omnipotent Universal Architect beyond the fact that we literally cannot violate God's most concrete laws (the laws of physics).

This is an interesting answer.  It's also one I've heard of before, and while it's possible - it doesn't necessarily address the potential conflict, but also has another interesting resultant.

  • Assuming existence is proven, there's an objective answer to God's omnipotence:
    Either God in full control or he isn't - and again, choosing to forgo control and "allow for choice" means he willfully relinquishes his omnipotence.


but this then bring up:

  • 15.God is Omnipotent,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will


    If 'laws of physics' - as you put it - cannot be broken - do we really have free will?
    ... or am I being forced to select from a multiple choice scan-tron of life options?  How can I be truly independent of will if I cannot choose to go oblivion rather than [BETTER] or [WORSE]?  How could I possibly make a decision to affect #14 is all of my "choices" have not already been accounted for upon the creation of my soul?
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Heretical and fallacious to ascribe human emotions to God.  So neither yes nor no, bad question.

How does the Jewish Holy books get away with this when talking about God's wrath and Jealousy? Are those not human emotions too?

Quote
I have seen no evidence of an afterlife for anyone besides Elijah in the Torah, so this question is not directed at me.

Then we need to clear up what you refer to as "the World to Come," and how your soul plays into that.

Quote
Not sure what "Saved" is.

See above.
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I'll answer your query from my opinion on 15,16,17.

God created the universe and set the laws of physics at that point and is in effect everything in the universe and more.  To that extent he is the universal architect and omnipresent and omnipotent.  But that doesn't mean that he is reaching in and controlling anything at all beyond the laws of physics as we know them.  So that means that there is no conflict between human beings having free will and God being an omnipotent Universal Architect beyond the fact that we literally cannot violate God's most concrete laws (the laws of physics).

This is an interesting answer.  It's also one I've heard of before, and while it's possible - it doesn't necessarily address the potential conflict, but also has another interesting resultant.

  • Assuming existence is proven, there's an objective answer to God's omnipotence:
    Either God in full control or he isn't - and again, choosing to forgo control and "allow for choice" means he willfully relinquishes his omnipotence.


but this then bring up:

  • 15.God is Omnipotent,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will


    If 'laws of physics' - as you put it - cannot be broken - do we really have free will?
    ... or am I being forced to select from a multiple choice scan-tron of life options?  How can I be truly independent of will if I cannot choose to go oblivion rather than [BETTER] or [WORSE]?  How could I possibly make a decision to affect #14 is all of my "choices" have not already been accounted for upon the creation of my soul?
You have complete free will so long as your decisions are constrained to physically legal activities.

Quote
Heretical and fallacious to ascribe human emotions to God.  So neither yes nor no, bad question.

How does the Jewish Holy books get away with this when talking about God's wrath and Jealousy? Are those not human emotions too?

Quote
I have seen no evidence of an afterlife for anyone besides Elijah in the Torah, so this question is not directed at me.

Then we need to clear up what you refer to as "the World to Come," and how your soul plays into that.

Quote
Not sure what "Saved" is.

See above.

I believe the Torah is speaking analogically because further study of the topic leads to the understanding that God is much more than human.  I spent a couple hours hashing this out with my rabbi and while he knows all of the passages and I don't, we were able to come to this fundamental agreement.

I do not believe that "the World to Come" is an afterlife.  Every second of the future we are living in "the world to come".  There are no clear references to eternal damnation in hell in the Torah.  The idea of an afterlife is not logical to me anyhow.  Our duty is to live as honest men and help increase the total value of the world because it's the right thing to do, not because of the promise of getting into "heaven" or staying out of "hell".
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1.Fair. However, the Bible, and more to the point - the vast majority of the faithful - uses these attributes all the time when describing God.  "Jealous" "loving" "vengeful" "wroth" . . . would you postulate then that holy books with these types of adjectives are thusly invalidated then, or that those claiming to be of the faithful are mistaken in their assertations?
God is above all of that and far too complicated for humans to be able to ascribe such traits.

2....but apparently not so complicated that He/She/It speaks to various people and prophets.  In fact I have read on this very forum from the faithful that their relationship with God is personal and direct.  If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?

3.Diogenes The Cynic:

  • 2. God wants the "best" for everyone,
    7. A Segregated afterlife exists,
    14. Upon creation of the soul, God knows whether the individual will go to [BETTER] or [WORSE]

    If these statements are true, all of which you agreed to - how is it possible that God wants the "best" for an individuals soul if upon creation, He knows that he is creating a soul due to be (for Christians) suffering eternally in Hell, or (for Jews) to not know God and be distant from him in the World to Come?  We can use "best" and "redeemed" interchangeably I think depending on which denomination we're talk to.


The obvious:
  • 15.God is Omnipotent
    16.God, as the Universal Architect, controls All.,
    17(a). Human beings possess free-will

    4.How can God control All, but not be in control of the will of humans?  The only way this logically makes sense if he chooses to relinquish that power and inso doing also relinquishes his omnipotence.  As a summation, I would posit that: "Omnipotence - free will != Omnipotence"


Prior to proceeding further - I think we need to reach a consensus on:

1. God loves everyone. - Is this an accurate reflection of the faithful?

4. God wants everyone to be "saved."

10. Either "eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven" or "eternal suffering / longing in the lake of fire," gives a pretty good summation of this:  I notice you didn't enumerate the following clause - would you agree to this then:

10(alternate):  However, even a more moderated "distance from God," belief (commonly held by the Jewish) still implies a negative connotation, that for the rest of eternity, your afterlife is defined by "not knowing God," or being a part of his chosen.

If not, how can we square this to be an accurate reflection for the purposes of discussion?

1.The Rambam writes in his Guide for the Perplexed that when the Torah uses figures of speech like "G-ds hand" it does so because there is no other way of relating to the concept of what just happened.

2.Please reformat question.

3. Its written in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 3, Mishnah 15) on free will that insofar as we an do good, or bad, we have free will.  We may not have equality of opportunity in any specific life, but the situation is weighted to be fair across the multiple incarnations.

4. I don't see how giving us free will makes G-d less Omnipotent.

I don't know what you mean by "chosen".
The afterlife will have stratification. I am not sure exactly how this would work out.
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The Rambam writes in his Guide for the Perplexed that when the Torah uses figures of speech like "G-ds hand" it does so because there is no other way of relating to the concept of what just happened.

Nice dodge.

You completely side-stepped all of my quotations and replaced with "God's hand," thus not even attempting to answer the question posed to Admiral Naismith.  Nonetheless:

So you would say that were I to find a translation anywhere in the Old Testament where God related to either Moses or another prophet or individual that says, "Thou shalt have no other God before me, for I am a Jealous God," or any other portion where the terms wrath, vengence, or any adjective that could be described as emotive... those would be inaccurate, correct?

(Let's try to actually answer this with something resembling a yes or no if possible) 

Quote
2.Please reformat question.

1st part is not a question, it was a statement and observation.  However:


If God is above human understanding, thus preventing him man from ascribing attributes to his creator, then how does this individual even recognize God's presence in their life?


Quote
I don't see how giving us free will makes G-d less Omnipotent.

Alright, let me try to step you through this again:

* Omnipotence means God controls all - (#16) - a statement you agreed to.
* Fee-will and the ability to reject God's covenant - as well as other acts in the Old testament - show the capability for Humans to defy God's will
* ergo - God does not control all
* ergo - God is not Omnipotent, for God (willfully or not) does NOT control all.

Do you have a counter-supposition for this train of statements?  If so - then you need to provide for me a counter set that reconciles how God can control all but not the will of Man and still control All.


Quote
I don't know what you mean by "chosen".

Chosen: Those who benefit from God's covenant; or those whose souls wind up in [BETTER] in the afterlife; redeemed.

My counter-suggestion - anytime you see a term where you could potentially infer the meaning I'm driving at, and that meaning would be consistent with the rest of the points/questions I'm asking - if possible, try to give me the benefit of doubt.



Further note:  You are cherry-picking statements, assigning them numbers while leaving older numbers which are the same in post - causing potential confusion.  I suggest rather than continue with your number assignment after quoting the entire post, which I find adds to the tedium of checking-cross checking to ensure I'm referring to the "right number," that you break up the posts and respond accordingly.

. . .

I'll be frank - at the moment your posts read to me more as efforts of litigious obfuscation rather than moving forward and trying to finalize an agreeable "starting point" progress can be made, as even in your original post - you did not answer either question - but simply asnwered 'yes' or 'not really,' rather than answer questions #2  I have reposted it here to refresh your memory:


What's wrong with the following statements and how do they need to be clarified to accurately reflect the beliefs of the faithful?



Perhaps that's because you're used to the rabid atheists looking to assault your faith, or I could be completely off-base and reading into something that isn't there.  Perhaps you think I'm looking to invalidate your faith - which if the 15+ years of engaging in these types of conversations have taught me anything it is that this would be impossible - had I an actual opinion to try and convert you over to. :|
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 11:26:23 PM by theCelestrian »
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- Branden
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I hope this thread continues, very interesting!
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