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The Harm To Others


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If you block the sharing of information and if you block the truth from being known, you enslave innocent people causing harm to the world of GOD.

 

The people who force a false belief will not see GOD because they do not know the will of GOD.

 

The Church is a man made structure and is not made by GOD a false belief is taught by the Church.

 

We have only one way to peace.

 

GOD knows,

 

The will of GOD is known and is written upon your heart.

 

If you hurt and continue to hurt me, you continue to hurt GOD.

 

Have you hurt anyone else?

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Guest wayfarer2k
Have you hurt anyone else?

 

Being human, obviously I have.

 

One of my favorite ex-Christians, Dan Barker, defines morality as "the intent to do no harm or to minimize harm". I think that is a good definition. At the same time, I think we need more than that as moral people -- we need to do good, we need to bless, to bring wholeness and healing. But such things to seem to go against our survival instinct, even as Christians.

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Being human, obviously I have.

 

One of my favorite ex-Christians, Dan Barker, defines morality as "the intent to do no harm or to minimize harm". I think that is a good definition. At the same time, I think we need more than that as moral people -- we need to do good, we need to bless, to bring wholeness and healing. But such things to seem to go against our survival instinct, even as Christians.

Cool avatar.

 

How and why do we know what morality is? How is that standard set? What's the basis?

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Guest wayfarer2k
How and why do we know what morality is? How is that standard set? What's the basis?

 

Good questions, David. Morality, in one sense, is a slippery slope. For instance, in the OT it was immoral to wear a garment made of two materials, or to boil a kid in milk, or to have intercourse with a women who is menstruating. On the other hand, in the OT it was considered moral for Lot to offer his daughters to the men of Sodom for raping, or for Israel to kill women, children, and animals in war, or for women to be treated as property. Even in the NT, Jesus considers it moral to beat slaves and Paul support slavery, physical mutilation, and the subjugation of women to men.

 

Do these standards of morality apply today? I would say no. I know of no parents who, according to "God's law" stone their disobedient children. Morality has changed with culture.

 

At the same time, as you say, we do need a "standard" or basis for moral attitudes and action. But these standards are not as black and white as fundamentalists would have us believe. For instance, if we take issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gun control, stem cell research, ecology (care for our world and the animal kingdom), capital punishment, war, corporal punishment, etc., good Christians come down on both sides on each of these issues. So, contrary to what some insist, the bible is not a book of incontrovertable, eternal laws that clearly define what morality is on each and every issue.

 

Therefore, to a certain extent, we need "situation ethics" that are governed by the notion that we intend to do the least amount of harm to a person or God's creation. For instance, is it good to poke a baby with a needle. No, not if we are doing it simply for the sake of torment. But if we are poking the baby with a needle to vaccinate him, then the good we are doing outweighs the other harm being done.

 

So the short answer is that God has given us brains, common sense, and a sense of community whereby we can determine, if we are healthy people, what is the best route to enable people to live happy, fulfilled lives. Yes, we tend to be selfish creatures. But we know deep down that we must get past that if we are to survive as a species. Or, as Jesus said, love fulfills the law.

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Good questions, David. Morality, in one sense, is a slippery slope. For instance, in the OT it was immoral to wear a garment made of two materials, or to boil a kid in milk, or to have intercourse with a women who is menstruating. On the other hand, in the OT it was considered moral for Lot to offer his daughters to the men of Sodom for raping, or for Israel to kill women, children, and animals in war, or for women to be treated as property. Even in the NT, Jesus considers it moral to beat slaves and Paul support slavery, physical mutilation, and the subjugation of women to men.

 

Do these standards of morality apply today? I would say no. I know of no parents who, according to "God's law" stone their disobedient children. Morality has changed with culture.

 

At the same time, as you say, we do need a "standard" or basis for moral attitudes and action. But these standards are not as black and white as fundamentalists would have us believe. For instance, if we take issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gun control, stem cell research, ecology (care for our world and the animal kingdom), capital punishment, war, corporal punishment, etc., good Christians come down on both sides on each of these issues. So, contrary to what some insist, the bible is not a book of incontrovertable, eternal laws that clearly define what morality is on each and every issue.

 

Therefore, to a certain extent, we need "situation ethics" that are governed by the notion that we intend to do the least amount of harm to a person or God's creation. For instance, is it good to poke a baby with a needle. No, not if we are doing it simply for the sake of torment. But if we are poking the baby with a needle to vaccinate him, then the good we are doing outweighs the other harm being done.

 

So the short answer is that God has given us brains, common sense, and a sense of community whereby we can determine, if we are healthy people, what is the best route to enable people to live happy, fulfilled lives. Yes, we tend to be selfish creatures. But we know deep down that we must get past that if we are to survive as a species. Or, as Jesus said, love fulfills the law.

Interesting, but I'm afraid hardly new citicisms. So, I'd like to take this back to the beginning and extend and revise my original questions. How do we know good from evil? Can man come to a place where he can rightly speak of right and wrong? Is there a final absolute? Or is it only sociological, statistical, situational, a law of averages, and nothing else. If that is all you have then you cannot have morality. To be right would be just as meaningless as to be wrong. Morals as morals would not exist and all we would have remaining is just metaphysics, the little vs the big, no meaning to right and wrong.

 

This 'harm to others' seems a good concept, but I would consider how we know good from evil first?

The needle prick is small in the perspective of a cure. Hitler and bin Laden believe(d) the elimination of the Jews is the needle prick for their cure for mankind; their nationalistic, ethnic, and religious world domination. Whose culture is right? Can we depend on man to provide the answers, or God?

--

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Guest wayfarer2k
How do we know good from evil?

 

Well, David, the bible says that this knowledge comes from eating fruit. See how easy that was? :lol:

 

As a progressive Christian, I believe in something I call "the law of life". And if you are expecting chapter and verse for this, I am sorry to disappoint you except to say that I believe that all life is sacred to some extent and to some degree.

 

In the law of life, I own my life. It is a gift of God (or nature or whatever) to me. It is the only thing I truly posess. And it is up to me to do with as I want AS LONG AS I respect the same law of life that others have. If I use my life to harm, denigrate, or dimish the law of life in others, then that is evil.

 

To me, this goes much deeper than a "God-given" commandment like "thou shalt not kill". Why? Because God said so? Not good enough for me. Why? Because God says, "thou shalt not kill" and then he sends the Israelites on a killing spree in the nations of Canaan, including killing innocent women, and children.

 

God says, "thou shalt not steal" and then command them to take all the gold, silver, precious stones, gems, and other loot from the tribes they conquer. But it is a-okay to kill the women and children.

 

God tells them not to covet, but then they want every square foot of land they set their feet on or hear about.

 

So I generally don't think "because God said so" is a good measure of what is evil and what is good. Again, you may not want to hear it, but God, in the bible, says that it is okay to beat slaves, to beat children, to take virgins as loot, to kill people of other religions, to kill disobedient children, to kill those who commit adultery, etc. For God, the wages of sin, of every sin, is death. That, to me, is NOT the kind of morality we need.

 

We need a morality that cherishes life, that sees life as sacred, that values people -- not a morality that is quick to snuff out life, that sees life here as "evil", and that keeps people constantly controlled with guilt and the threat of hell.

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Well, David, the bible says that this knowledge comes from eating fruit. See how easy that was? :lol:

 

As a progressive Christian, I believe in something I call "the law of life". And if you are expecting chapter and verse for this, I am sorry to disappoint you except to say that I believe that all life is sacred to some extent and to some degree.

 

In the law of life, I own my life. It is a gift of God (or nature or whatever) to me. It is the only thing I truly posess. And it is up to me to do with as I want AS LONG AS I respect the same law of life that others have. If I use my life to harm, denigrate, or dimish the law of life in others, then that is evil. ...

 

We need a morality that cherishes life, that sees life as sacred, that values people -- not a morality that is quick to snuff out life, that sees life here as "evil", and that keeps people constantly controlled with guilt and the threat of hell.

Whoa, that was easy! ;)

 

I'd like to address the "law of life" paragraphs and the last paragraph since the others only address things you don't believe.

-

Saying you believe life is sacred cannot be a disappointment regardles of the brevity. But when it's qualified with a "some degree/extent", it certainly begs some explanation. I don't want you to assume I need you to answer this immediately. But...

 

In the rest, you have made a sort of laundry list of good and evil. I know this wasn't a perfected list, but I understand the point. That's fine, however it doesn't address the core of the question: "How do we know good from evil?" You listed things that you consider good or evil, but not how you know good from evil. How do we know cherishing life is good; how do you know stealing is evil; and so forth?

 

To repeat, the Stalins, Polpots, and Hitlers each thought they were doing the right thing for the world and its people. On what basis could we consider them wrong? They saw the rest of the world as wrong, selfish, and their effort as truly humanitarian.

 

If God created man, and our brains, and yet is untrustworthy when it comes to morality, good and evil; how could we trust ourselves in deciding right from wrong? Are you declaring soveriegnty in the realm of morality?

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Guest wayfarer2k

>>Saying you believe life is sacred cannot be a disappointment regardles of the brevity. But when it's qualified with a "some degree/extent", it certainly begs some explanation. I don't want you to assume I need you to answer this immediately. But...

 

Well, I'm not into Janism that believes that killing a gnat or an amoeba is that same thing as killing a human. If I had to choose between saving my son's life by not swerving my car to miss a dog, I would, regretfully, take the dog's life. But I don't believe in killing for sport or entertainment.

 

>>In the rest, you have made a sort of laundry list of good and evil. I know this wasn't a perfected list, but I understand the point. That's fine, however it doesn't address the core of the question: "How do we know good from evil?"

 

Yes, I did. I suspect that you are just dismissing my answer out-of-hand because you want to say "God is my standard." Well, David, God is not my standard. There are plenty of instances in the bible that demonstrate that the God of the bible doesn't cherish life.

 

>>You listed things that you consider good or evil, but not how you know good from evil. How do we know cherishing life is good; how do you know stealing is evil; and so forth?

 

If you don't already know this, nothing I could say would convince you. See, you are looking for an "authoritarian based" system where someone (or something) external to yourself gives you an absolute line that should never be crossed. This is not a place that the God of the bible could ever fill. For instance, he tells the Israelites to kill their enemies. Through Jesus, he says to love our enemies? What does God want us to do? And what do you do if you believe that Jesus is the God of the OT? Why did he change his mind about the morality of killing enemies?

 

>>To repeat, the Stalins, Polpots, and Hitlers each thought they were doing the right thing for the world and its people. On what basis could we consider them wrong? They saw the rest of the world as wrong, selfish, and their effort as truly humanitarian.

 

Perhaps so. But they each violated "the law of life" to the nth degree, didn't they? Were they life-affirming for everyone? Or did they support tribal-superiority notions that lead them to believe that some human life was more valuable or worthy than other human life?

 

>>If God created man, and our brains, and yet is untrustworthy when it comes to morality, good and evil; how could we trust ourselves in deciding right from wrong? Are you declaring soveriegnty in the realm of morality?

 

Not sovereignty. Common sense. For instance, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, God wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son. He wanted Abraham to kill and burn Isaac as a offering to God. And Abraham unquestioningly agrees to do it. He shows no common sense whatsoever. In our day, if we came across someone trying to sacrifice their children to God, we would (and should) lock them up as deranged. But the OT hails Abraham as a "hero of the faith" because he would do WHATEVER his understanding of God told him to do WITHOUT question.

 

Would it be moral for our Armed Forces to march into Baghdad and kill all the women and children? This is what "God" commanded Israel to do -- repeatedly. They were to kill every living thing in their battles (except for, occasionally, livestock) and take all the silver and gold for themselves.

 

Are these the commands of a moral God? Was this the will of a loving and just heavenly father? Is this what Jesus would do? If you answer is "yes", then it just demonstrates why Christianity must move from the traditional life-taking understanding to a more progress life-giving and life-cherishing stance.

 

The people who have done the most harm to human history are those who have no conscience, who blindly obey some authority figure in their life, even if that authority figure is God.

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>>Saying you believe life is sacred cannot be a disappointment regardles of the brevity. But when it's qualified with a "some degree/extent", it certainly begs some explanation. I don't want you to assume I need you to answer this immediately. But...

 

Well, I'm not into Janism that believes that killing a gnat or an amoeba is that same thing as killing a human. If I had to choose between saving my son's life by not swerving my car to miss a dog, I would, regretfully, take the dog's life. But I don't believe in killing for sport or entertainment.

 

>>In the rest, you have made a sort of laundry list of good and evil. I know this wasn't a perfected list, but I understand the point. That's fine, however it doesn't address the core of the question: "How do we know good from evil?"

 

Yes, I did. I suspect that you are just dismissing my answer out-of-hand because you want to say "God is my standard." Well, David, God is not my standard. There are plenty of instances in the bible that demonstrate that the God of the bible doesn't cherish life.

 

>>You listed things that you consider good or evil, but not how you know good from evil. How do we know cherishing life is good; how do you know stealing is evil; and so forth?

 

If you don't already know this, nothing I could say would convince you. See, you are looking for an "authoritarian based" system where someone (or something) external to yourself gives you an absolute line that should never be crossed. This is not a place that the God of the bible could ever fill. For instance, he tells the Israelites to kill their enemies. Through Jesus, he says to love our enemies? What does God want us to do? And what do you do if you believe that Jesus is the God of the OT? Why did he change his mind about the morality of killing enemies?

 

>>To repeat, the Stalins, Polpots, and Hitlers each thought they were doing the right thing for the world and its people. On what basis could we consider them wrong? They saw the rest of the world as wrong, selfish, and their effort as truly humanitarian.

 

Perhaps so. But they each violated "the law of life" to the nth degree, didn't they? Were they life-affirming for everyone? Or did they support tribal-superiority notions that lead them to believe that some human life was more valuable or worthy than other human life?

 

>>If God created man, and our brains, and yet is untrustworthy when it comes to morality, good and evil; how could we trust ourselves in deciding right from wrong? Are you declaring soveriegnty in the realm of morality?

 

Not sovereignty. Common sense. For instance, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, God wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son. He wanted Abraham to kill and burn Isaac as a offering to God. And Abraham unquestioningly agrees to do it. He shows no common sense whatsoever. In our day, if we came across someone trying to sacrifice their children to God, we would (and should) lock them up as deranged. But the OT hails Abraham as a "hero of the faith" because he would do WHATEVER his understanding of God told him to do WITHOUT question.

 

Would it be moral for our Armed Forces to march into Baghdad and kill all the women and children? This is what "God" commanded Israel to do -- repeatedly. They were to kill every living thing in their battles (except for, occasionally, livestock) and take all the silver and gold for themselves.

 

Are these the commands of a moral God? Was this the will of a loving and just heavenly father? Is this what Jesus would do? If you answer is "yes", then it just demonstrates why Christianity must move from the traditional life-taking understanding to a more progress life-giving and life-cherishing stance.

 

The people who have done the most harm to human history are those who have no conscience, who blindly obey some authority figure in their life, even if that authority figure is God.

 

Great thoughts, wayfarer. I had one small (and rather irrelevant) question - just something that piqued my curiousity. When you said "God is not my standard," did you mean that absolutely, or just insofar as God is assumed to be the God of the Bible (interpreted literally)? In other words, is it that God plays no role in your morality whatsoever, or that you believe in a different God than the God presented by a literal interpretation of the Bible, and the God you believe in is your standard? (Personally, I would tend toward the latter - I would say the God I see revealed in Jesus is my standard.)

 

I don't really care either way (it wouldn't bother me if the former was the case), since we clearly agree about what defines morality, I was just curious because it was a strong statement :D

 

Sorry for the interruption :lol:

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Dear Wafarer,

Well, I'm not into Janism that believes that killing a gnat or an amoeba is that same thing as killing a human. If I had to choose between saving my son's life by not swerving my car to miss a dog, I would, regretfully, take the dog's life. But I don't believe in killing for sport or entertainment.
OK, human life is the more valuable.

---

Yes, I did (address the question: "How do we know good from evil?" ). I suspect that you are just dismissing my answer out-of-hand because you want to say "God is my standard." Well, David, God is not my standard. There are plenty of instances in the bible that demonstrate that the God of the bible doesn't cherish life.
Not at all an out-of-hand dismissal. You've already exquisitely expressed a hesitation in accepting the Biblical God as a model. I was just interested, what/who is your model: sun, moon, sun jung moon. :lol:

---

If you don't already know this (good from evil), nothing I could say would convince you. See, you are looking for an "authoritarian based" system where someone (or something) external to yourself gives you an absolute line that should never be crossed. This is not a place that the God of the bible could ever fill. For instance, he tells the Israelites to kill their enemies. Through Jesus, he says to love our enemies? What does God want us to do? And what do you do if you believe that Jesus is the God of the OT? Why did he change his mind about the morality of killing enemies?
For arguments sake, let's say I don't already know. What argument would you use to convince me? You see, I just don't understand on what basis why saving a human life is good, or taking something that does not belong to me is bad. Your list is replete with goods and bads, which is fine, but how long is this list? Why is all that stuff bad. If I knew 'why'... this is where I don't understand. I mean, if I want something enough to make me happy, why can't I kill somebody to get it?

---

Perhaps so. But they each (the Stalins, Polpots, and Hitlers) violated "the law of life" to the nth degree, didn't they? Were they life-affirming for everyone? Or did they support tribal-superiority notions that lead them to believe that some human life was more valuable or worthy than other human life?
Did they? Didn't they see wontonly eliminating those people as the 'needle' to enhance all of humanity in the long run? Why is our morality better than theirs?

---

Not sovereignty (in the realm of morality). Common sense. For instance, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, God wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son. He wanted Abraham to kill and burn Isaac as a offering to God. And Abraham unquestioningly agrees to do it. He shows no common sense whatsoever. In our day, if we came across someone trying to sacrifice their children to God, we would (and should) lock them up as deranged. But the OT hails Abraham as a "hero of the faith" because he would do WHATEVER his understanding of God told him to do WITHOUT question.

 

Would it be moral for our Armed Forces to march into Baghdad and kill all the women and children? This is what "God" commanded Israel to do -- repeatedly. They were to kill every living thing in their battles (except for, occasionally, livestock) and take all the silver and gold for themselves.

 

Are these the commands of a moral God? Was this the will of a loving and just heavenly father? Is this what Jesus would do? If you answer is "yes", then it just demonstrates why Christianity must move from the traditional life-taking understanding to a more progress life-giving and life-cherishing stance.

 

The people who have done the most harm to human history are those who have no conscience, who blindly obey some authority figure in their life, even if that authority figure is God.

OK, OK, I get the picture. God can't be trusted. I suspect there may be a 'burr under your saddle'.

 

It is usually pretty clear that when common sense is mentioned, that it is man's common sense. At this point I will continue to assume this.

Given your scenarios, aren't you suggesting that as man, we should hold our common sense as the higher authority?

---

Hey McKenna! Your posts are never an interruption.

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Guest wayfarer2k
When you said "God is not my standard," did you mean that absolutely, or just insofar as God is assumed to be the God of the Bible (interpreted literally)? In other words, is it that God plays no role in your morality whatsoever, or that you believe in a different God than the God presented by a literal interpretation of the Bible, and the God you believe in is your standard? (Personally, I would tend toward the latter - I would say the God I see revealed in Jesus is my standard.)

 

Yes, I meant that insofar as God's character is often portrayed in the bible. The God I believe in is bigger than the bible, bigger (and better, IMO) than the OT Jewish concept of God, and sometimes bigger than the God of Jesus. I don't think any one people or person can completely capture God or 100% reflect God's nature.

 

To a large extent, I would agree with the God I see in Jesus. But whether it was a misunderstanding on Jesus' part or inaccurate accounts in the gospels, I don't believe it is God's will, as Jesus taught, to beat slaves, to leave families, to hate mothers and fathers, or to threaten people with everlasting torment. I just find those things to be immoral and if I had to accept them as "the word of God" from Jesus, I couldn't call myself a Christian.

 

Some people would obviously have a problem with my "watermelon" technique (picking out the seeds and keeping the good stuff to eat). They would say that I have to take the WHOLE bible or none of it, or the WHOLE of Jesus' teachings or none of them, or ALL of Paul's teachings or none of them, etc. In other words, they are against critical analysis and further enlightenment. But if we see anything from Jesus and Paul's patterns, they incorporated some parts of their Jewish beliefs into their lives while discarding other parts. They themselves used the "watermelon" technique when it came to the scriptures. So there is plenty of biblical precedent for us to "hold fast to what is good" while discarding other things that don't line up with a life-giving and loving understanding of God.

 

BTW, you are never interrupting. This is a public forum and the more, the merrier!!!

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Guest wayfarer2k
Given your scenarios, aren't you suggesting that as man, we should hold our common sense as the higher authority?

 

To me, David, it is not a question of authority. That is where I think you misunderstand what I am saying. You seem to be implying, feel free to correct me if I am wrong, that right and wrong is solely based upon an authority figure, upon what someone external to yourself says is right and wrong. If someone has enough authority (and enough power), then they get to make the rules. For the Catholics, this is the Pope. The Pope can never be wrong because he is...well, the Pope. He is never to be questioned. For fundamentalists, this authority is the bible. The bible can never be wrong because they believe the bible is the very words of God. Therefore, whatever the bible says, no matter how attrocious or non-sensical, the bible is never wrong.

Such theology is, IMO, "Because I said so" theology and it has done more harm than good to our world. Why? Because when we are scared of authority figures and blindly obey them (usually because they have the power of life and death over us), we will NEVER challenge their morality. We act as blind sheep and simply do what we are told.

 

What I am saying is that we, as Christians, need to grow up and realize that morality is based on actual right and wrong, not upon someone's authoritative statements. If God told me to kill my son (as he supposedly did with Abraham), I would disobey. Why? Because it is wrong. God is, even according to the bible, the author and source of life. Jesus said that he came to give life and life abundant. So if I believe that God is telling me to take life, then either God is capricious, schizophrenic, or I am hearing voices in my head that have little to do with God.

 

>>For arguments sake, let's say I don't already know. What argument would you use to convince me? You see, I just don't understand on what basis why saving a human life is good, or taking something that does not belong to me is bad. Your list is replete with goods and bads, which is fine, but how long is this list? Why is all that stuff bad. If I knew 'why'... this is where I don't understand. I mean, if I want something enough to make me happy, why can't I kill somebody to get it?

 

Because it is not about you being happy, especially if you think it is things that will make you happy. Life is about learning to live, learning to love, learning to be everything that you can be as a human BUT without causing harm to others.

 

I don't know how deep you really want to get into this, philosophically speaking. So I'll just ask a question: Do you value life? Do you believe that life is some sacred, precious, or unique?

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I don't know how deep you really want to get into this, philosophically speaking. So I'll just ask a question: Do you value life? Do you believe that life is some sacred, precious, or unique?

"To me... it is not a question of authority. That is where I think you misunderstand what I am saying. You seem to be implying, feel free to correct me if I am wrong, that right and wrong is solely based upon an authority figure,... "- wayfarer2k Well, I suppose you may consider this the correction.

I'm trying to be clear here, but I apparently am not. "I was just interested, what/who is your model: sun, moon, sun jung moon? :lol: "

So, I'd like to try again.

 

"What I am saying is that we, as Christians, need to grow up and realize that morality is based on actual right and wrong,... " - wayfarer2k

What I am eager to discover is: what is it that you rely upon for decoding what is actual right and wrong. Is it your own common sense, another person, the force, the 'dark side', just because, a poem, or whatever? What is it that makes "... causing harm to others" wrong?

 

Whatever that is, is the authority.

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"For arguments sake, let's say I don't already know. What argument would you use to convince me? You see, I just don't understand on what basis why saving a human life is good, or taking something that does not belong to me is bad. Your list is replete with goods and bads, which is fine, but how long is this list? Why is all that stuff bad. If I knew 'why'... this is where I don't understand. I mean, if I want something enough to make me happy, why can't I kill somebody to get it?" - Dk "Because it is not about you being happy, especially if you think it is things that will make you happy. Life is about learning to live, learning to love, learning to be everything that you can be as a human BUT without causing harm to others."- wayfarer2k

Why would I want to learn about life and love if its not about making me happy? What kinda harm anyway, a dirty look? Heh, heh!

---

 

The question of the Hitlers, et al,: Didn't they see wontonly eliminating those people as the 'needle' to enhance all of humanity in the long run? This would be minimizing the harm in their estimation, actually doing more good than harm. Why should we consider their morality less worthy than your "law of life"?

---

 

(note: To the best of my knowledge, Abraham didn't actually kill his son.)

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Guest wayfarer2k

To me, God is the source of life and love. From there, I derive my "law of life" and "law of love".

 

But if you don't agree, if you don't see God as the source of life and love, if you don't think that life and love are precious and rare, then you have rejected the foundation that I put forth and nothing I say from that point on is profitable for you. If life and love are not meaningful to you, then harm to others is justifiable. This is the same kind of mentality that allows some Muslims to fly planes into buildings. They don't hold to a law of life and love, they simply obey without question because their particular supreme deity either commands it or stipulates rewards or punishments for obedience/lack of compliance.

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I see I still have problems accessing the site, as though I am blocked or it is made difficult for me to participate...

 

The parable of Jesus and the Good Samaritan updated...

 

A person walking into town is robbed, stripped, and beaten, left lying in a ditch to die, along comes a Priest that passes by the other side of the road so not to be defiled by the blood of the wounded victim, the same for the passing Levite. Now for the modern twist, along comes a Christian, upon seeing the victim realizes that this person is not blessed by god and the Christian instead of offering any help kicks or throws stones at the victim. The Good Samaritan is the hero of the victim and GOD for helping and attending to the needs of the wounded person who would have died without the help of another.

 

When is a Christian not a Christian?

 

Who said it was right to harm another person?

 

Where did the failed teaching come from?

 

Thank You for helping and teaching,

 

Take a bow...

 

GOD is greater than the god created by people the real GOD can be found in all that Bless GOD

 

GOD Bless

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I think the traditional New Testament understanding is that the Holy Spirit (part of God) indwells us to help us know God's will (right from wrong; good from evil). At the simplest level, the Holy Spirit provides us with a conscience, which we can choose to ignore and its urgings will seem weaker, or we can follow the Holy Spirit's leading to relflect God's glory. That fits with my life experience, but maybe it's not so convincing if we consider that human morality depends largely on cultural standards. So I would apply teachings of Jesus that He intentionally separated from time and culture.

 

I believe the Bible is a written record of man's experience of God. Human understanding of God continues to evolve. When Jesus was tested by an expert in the law of the day, He replied that the greatest commandment is to Love God (with ALL your heart, soul, and mind) and Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything else follows. Those are the timeless standards. I agree with the contributors who would test leadings they believe are from God using the standards of the sanctity of life and purity of love. Our challenge is to see each of our fellow humans (even our enemies) as God sees them (precious!). If we act on that premise, we are different than Hitler or Stalin. I agree that human morality currently does not always live up to the ideals of sanctity of life or purity of love.

 

Are there any times that the principles of loving and respecting life conflict? Euthanasia of someone who is intensely suffering MAY be such a case, which proves that we have to use our God-given brains and pray and do the best we know how while holding God's basic principle of love as our guide. The Methodist church teaches to make hard decisions based upon scripture, tradition, reason AND experience. All 4 should be prayerfully considered.

 

Also, you might not want to laugh about dirty looks, David -- if the eye is bad, the whole body is full of darkness. (Mt. 6:23) Jesus reminds us we have to root out the inner bad feelings in order to get control of our outer actions. I think He's right. I don't believe we have to literally gouge out our eye, but Jesus asks us to intentionally question our motives to root out the unhealthy.

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To me, God is the source of life and love. From there, I derive my "law of life" and "law of love".

Since this God-source provides the foundation for your foundation, there is a tepid admission that this God-source would by default be the authority over finite man about what is right and what is wrong in life and love, by which we conform with a 'moral' world view; AKA: your "law of life/love."

 

I need not list other faiths having god sources, as well as other kinds of sources, from which their own "laws of love and life" are derived. What is the factor(s), the basis, to use in culling out the counterfeits from the one that conforms to what is really there, that is: the truth.

 

Let me make an observation here. If there are two or more beliefs claiming opposing truths, they cannot all be right. They could all be wrong, but there cannot be more than one that is right.

---

Also, you might not want to laugh about dirty looks, David

To explain that post: I was taking on a fictional personna of one who did not know right from wrong in order to ask wayfarer how do we know good from evil.

 

If you begin around the third post in this thread, I think that'll make it clear.

---

Hey Gary,

Sometimes cookies get deleted.

 

How about if we ask, who said it was wrong to harm another person, or why would it be wrong to?

Edited by davidk
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Guest wayfarer2k
How about if we ask, who said it was wrong to harm another person, or why would it be wrong to?

 

Very good question, David. I don't know who originally said it or thought of it, but I can tell you that it wasn't Yahweh of the OT.

 

Yahweh, according to the Hebrew law, said to kill rebellious children, adulterers, witches, thieves, and those who worshiped other gods.

 

No only that, but he commanded the Israelites to slaughter the nations who occupied Canaan -- down to every last woman and child.

 

According to the bible, he sent two she-bears to kill 52 children who poked fun at Elisha's bald head.

 

Let's not even mention the supposed flood wherein all of mankind (except for 8 people) were drowned to death -- including women, innocent children, and infants.

 

So if you are leading to the notion that it is the God of the OT (Yahweh) who said that it was wrong to harm another person, you are sadly mistaken. He repeated not only killed people in the OT, but commanded his people to kill people. If you don't know this, I will gladly post all of the biblical references for these passages for you to verify them.

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Very good question, David. I don't know who originally said it or thought of it, but I can tell you that it wasn't Yahweh of the OT.

 

Yahweh, according to the Hebrew law, said to kill rebellious children, adulterers, witches, thieves, and those who worshiped other gods.

 

No only that, but he commanded the Israelites to slaughter the nations who occupied Canaan -- down to every last woman and child.

 

According to the bible, he sent two she-bears to kill 52 children who poked fun at Elisha's bald head.

 

Let's not even mention the supposed flood wherein all of mankind (except for 8 people) were drowned to death -- including women, innocent children, and infants.

 

So if you are leading to the notion that it is the God of the OT (Yahweh) who said that it was wrong to harm another person, you are sadly mistaken. He repeated not only killed people in the OT, but commanded his people to kill people. If you don't know this, I will gladly post all of the biblical references for these passages for you to verify them.

The passages would be helpful. Please include NT.

---

Since this God-source provides the foundation for your foundation, there is a tepid admission that this God-source would by default be the authority over finite man about what is right and what is wrong in life and love, by which you conform with a 'moral' world view; AKA: your "law of life/love."

 

I need not list all faiths having god sources, as well as other kinds of sources, from which others conform to with their "laws of love and life". So what is the basis for culling out the counterfeits from one that conforms to what is really there, the truth?

 

Your antipathy for the "Biblical God" is still noted. I'm not asking nor insisting for you to say any more than to reveal what god is the source of love and life that provides the background for your Laws of Love and Life.

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Your antipathy for the "Biblical God" is still noted. I'm not asking nor insisting for you to say any more than to reveal what god is the source of love and life that provides the background for your Laws of Love and Life.

 

I'll get back to you with those biblical references a little later, David.

 

The God that I believe is the source of life, love, and being is sometimes pointed at in the bible. This God is a spirit-presence in and through our universe, a God in whom Paul said "we live, move, and have our being."

 

This God is love and, as the apostle John says, if we abide in God, we abide in love; if we abide in love, we abide in God.

 

This God, present in Jesus, comes to give us life and life abundant.

 

This God, though anthropomorphized, is not willing that anyone should perish. This God is life-affirming.

 

This God, as sometimes found in the teachings of Jesus and Paul, calls us to transformation, calls us to growth in how we view ourselves and our world. This God calls us to be new people, people who really, truly love one another in self-sacrificing ways; who go beyong "doing unto others as we would like done unto us" to "doing unto others as they would like done to themselves".

 

And this God calls us into a new existence whereby the divinity of "heaven" and the humanity of "earth" come together to form a new creation -- a creation where the poor are cared for, the sick are healed, the captive are set free, where God is seen as favoring his creation instead of desiring to destroy it.

 

All of these "God images", David, are at least hinted at in the Christian scriptures. But they must be searched out. They are mixed right in with other "god images" of a tribal deity who wants to destroy the world, who tells his people to go kill their enemies, who lives in the earth's upper atmosphere and sits on a throne, and who is forever separate from his creation.

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Guest wayfarer2k
The passages would be helpful. Please include NT.

 

Here are the main passages that I was referencing to:

 

Ex 32:26-29

Lev 26:7,8

Num 21:2,3,34,35; Num 25:4,5; Num 31:7-11,15,17,18,40

Deut 2:32-35; Deut 3:1-3,6,7; Deut 7:1,2; Deut 9:3; Deut 20:16,17;

Joshua 6:21; Joshua 8:22,24-27; Joshua 10:28-40; Joshua 11:11,12,14,19-21

1 Sam 15:3,8; 1 Sam 27:9,11

Eze 9:5,6

 

I hope you take the time to look these passages up and read them in context, David.

 

Four important notes about these passages:

 

1. None of these include God-acts where God himself is said to kill people outright (such as the flood, fire falling from heaven, etc.). These are only passages where God, according to the text, tells his people to kill others (in direct contradiction of one of the 10 commandments, no less).

 

2. There are enough of these passages to establish a pattern. This was simply the way Yahweh did things in the OT.

 

3. Modern warfare is based (or claims to be so) upon "just war theory", one of the tenets being that civilian (or innocent) casualties be kept to a bare minimum. Almost everyone of these passages describe "utter annihilation" with not only men capable of fighting back being killed, but women and children also. It is interesting to note in the Numbers 31 account that the Israelites were allowed to keep virgin as war-booty and as gifts for the priest. This is moral? I think not.

 

4. Lastly, if this is God's pattern for warfare, that our enemies are to be completely wiped off the face of the earth, then it is no wonder that modern society has little use for this kind of "war-god". Any god who commands his people to completely destroy others, to commit genocide, is certainly NOT a God of love who desires that NONE perish.

 

PS - This is not a personal attack, just an observation. It is interesting that you yourself did not even know where these passages are. But I'm not pointing a condemning finger, I was exactly the same when when I was a fundamentalist. Even if someone had pointed out these passages to me, I would have declared that God was God and can do whatever he wants or described how wicked these original inhabitants of Canaan were. But no matter how you cut it, it is, according to the scriptures, God-sanctioned genocide.

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My good friend, who is evangelical, would say that we don't completely understand the mind of God. Those women and children who were slaughtered maybe were better off, because they would have had to live in a society without God otherwise.

 

I believe that people of the time misunderstood God. In OT times, it is likely that if the Jewish race did not fight they would not have survived. Much of the OT is Jewish midrash - stories to illustrate various points. Rabbis will tell you as much. I think humans are evolving in their understanding of God and most would not adopt the morality of the Old Testament God as their standard.

 

I believe the idea of sanctity of human life originated in Christianity because of the fact that EVERYONE is made in God's image. That would be the basis upon which I could believe God wants us not to harm others. It has taken Christians awhile to admit that women and non-Caucasians are also made in God's image, but we are getting there.

 

A recent sermon in our church was talking about how Stradivarius violins are valuable, even if they are damaged, just because Stradivarius was the creator. If we look upon everybody in our world as precious because God was their Creator and they are in God's image, that can be the basis for believing in loving even our enemies, as well. So I think the themes of a Lord of Life and a Lord of Love are represented well in the Bible. I believe Buddhism also generally includes a recognition of the preciousness of life.

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I agree with you, AITNOP. I also think that much of the OT is midrash and that human understandings of God evolve over time.

 

I wouldn't agree with your evangelical friend, however, because your friend is basically saying, "God can do anything he wants to, however immoral it may seem to us, because God is non-sensical from a human point of view." Such notions are a blank check for God, and therefore his people, to do anything they like and it is thought okay because "God said so."

 

Yes, there is a Lord of Love and a Lord of Life to be found in the bible. But not all pictures of God in the bible show this Lord. I could be wrong in my assertion, but I suspect David is telling me that if I don't worship this "god of genocide" also found in the bible, that I am worshipping the wrong god. Could be. But I won't worship a god who is more immoral than I am. Even *I* know genocide is wrong.

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Right on, Wayfarer! I only inserted the evangelical point of view because I know it well from debates I've had with my friend for many years. I used to be totally insulted when someone claimed I worship a god instead of THE ALMIGHTY GOD, but following the Lord of Life and Lord of Love has been a source of strength and spiritual progress for me. I recognize, however, that I probably have incomplete knowledge about God and I keep learning all the time. Thanks for your thoughts.

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I used to be totally insulted when someone claimed I worship a god instead of THE ALMIGHTY GOD, but following the Lord of Life and Lord of Love has been a source of strength and spiritual progress for me. I recognize, however, that I probably have incomplete knowledge about God and I keep learning all the time.

 

I hear ya. I've been in enough denominations to know that each one has there own take on who God is and what he wants from us. In a sense, we all have our own "God", we always perceive him through our own eyes, culture, upbringing, etc. To me, that is what makes God personal.

 

But when we assume that our view of God is the ONLY correct and full view, when we claim to have finalized knowledge about God that is unchangeable, then I think we are worshipping an "image" rather than the true God, even if that image is in our own mind.

 

One of the reasons progressive Christianity appeals to me is that it doesn't claim that God can be spoken of or experienced only in 1st century or earlier terms and ways. The 1st century paradigm was fine for its time. But we no longer live in a three-tiered universe where God is thought to be an old man who sits on a throne just beyond our atmosphere. As Carl Sagan once said, "If Jesus literally ascended to heaven, he hasn't yet escaped our galaxy." :rolleyes:

 

But again, all of the theology aside, I do believe it comes back to harm to others and how we treat them. The way God was views in the OT, he was a tribal war-deity and his role was one of seeing that the Israelite tribe survived -- at any cost. In that view, I suppose it was one war-god against another and war always involves death. But we, as humanity, need to move beyond that view in this century. Progressive Christians know this.

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