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Source: (consider it) Thread: Philosophy, and Being Good For Goodness’ Sake
LutheranChik
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To the post up there somewhere that suggested conversion as an act of self- interest is a Christianity that’s gotten off to a bad start — I agree.

Which is a reason why secular philosophy can provide a safe space for people to discuss how to live a good life without getting dragged down by Christian or other theistic baggage of divine sin accounting, soteriology ( at least in the sense of “ going to heaven when I die.”) My perception is that various sectors of Christianity have , for various reasons,made thoughtful discussions of leading a good life almost impossible.

As far as one’s motivations for being good: Yes, love of one’s neighbor is the motivation, or should be, for a Christian. But what about the simple idea that if I further good in society, I create a world where good is likelier to happen, or evil less likely to happen? That I, say, show hospitality to strangers because I want to live in a world where, if I’m ever a stranger, people will be more inclined to treat me well? Or that I refrain from stealing, in its various forms, because I want to live in a society where people don’t have to be constantly guarding their property and being suspicious of others’intentions? Why are those reasons not good enough reasons to do the right thing, for someone without the addd mandate of Christian charity?

One respondent suggested that the Stoics were too optimistic about human nature. I’d argue that they were actually more realistic than people demanding hat everyone assume some saintly degree of altruism in ordering their daily affairs. Frankly, I’d rather be surrounded by people taking seriously an impulse to do good in practical ways than by a bunch of idealists setting up an impossibly high bar of behavior — not only behavior, but internal motivation — and being so intimidated by that that they do nothing at all ( the quietism in parts of my tribe), or abstracting/spiritualizing it to the point of meaninglessness,’/compartmentalizing to the point of hypocrisy ( much of the US religious right wing).

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:

My perception is that various sectors of Christianity have , for various reasons,made thoughtful discussions of leading a good life almost impossible.

We agree. It is a central point. Impossible standards foster guilt. Growing up is something different. As I read here from a Shipmate a decade or so ago, 'growing up is when you realise it's not all about you.'
quote:

As far as one’s motivations for being good: Yes, love of one’s neighbor is the motivation, or should be, for a Christian. But what about the simple idea that if I further good in society, I create a world where good is likelier to happen, or evil less likely to happen? That I, say, show hospitality to strangers because I want to live in a world where, if I’m ever a stranger, people will be more inclined to treat me well? Or that I refrain from stealing, in its various forms, because I want to live in a society where people don’t have to be constantly guarding their property and being suspicious of others’intentions? Why are those reasons not good enough reasons to do the right thing, for someone without the addd mandate of Christian charity?

One respondent suggested that the Stoics were too optimistic about human nature. I’d argue that they were actually more realistic than people demanding hat everyone assume some saintly degree of altruism in ordering their daily affairs. Frankly, I’d rather be surrounded by people taking seriously an impulse to do good in practical ways than by a bunch of idealists setting up an impossibly high bar of behavior — not only behavior, but internal motivation — and being so intimidated by that that they do nothing at all ( the quietism in parts of my tribe), or abstracting/spiritualizing it to the point of meaninglessness,’/compartmentalizing to the point of hypocrisy ( much of the US religious right wing).

Absolutely. And I think you are right that a bit of compare and contrast between philosophy and the traditional Christian understanding can foster sensible discussions about doing good. Communities which foster guilt are toxic.

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Kwesi
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quote:
LutheranChik: But what about the simple idea that if I further good in society, I create a world where good is likelier to happen, or evil less likely to happen? That I, say, show hospitality to strangers because I want to live in a world where, if I’m ever a stranger, people will be more inclined to treat me well? Or that I refrain from stealing, in its various forms, because I want to live in a society where people don’t have to be constantly guarding their property and being suspicious of others’ intentions? Why are those reasons not good enough reasons to do the right thing for someone without the addd mandate of Christian charity?

The question I would want to ask is why if it is to my advantage to do good, however defined, am I and others so disinclined or unable to do so with any consistency. If your proposition is as plausible as you suggest why does it fit so imperfectly with observed human behaviour? Is it because my rational intention to do good, if only for personal advantage, is frustrated by my flawed nature, my inordinate passions? Or, is it, perhaps, because the socio-political contexts in which I and others find themselves frustrate to varying degrees an individual’s desire to do good? Speaking for myself, I’m sceptical about both the capacity of humans and societies to be good, though I think it’s also clear that some individuals and some societies are (frequently,much) more virtuous than others.

As a Lutheran, LutheranChik, you are doubtless aware of Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics (1932) by Reinhold Niebuhr, which discusses such questions.

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Barnabas62
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Kwesi

I am not sure that view gives equal weight to the twin truths of human beings made in the image of God and human beings born fallible.

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Kwesi
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quote:
Barnabas62: I am not sure that view gives equal weight to the twin truths of human beings made in the image of God and human beings born fallible.

Barnabas62, what is "that view" to which you are referring? I'm sure you are making a valid point to which I should respond, but I'm unclear as to what it is. Some clarification of your post would be a great help.
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Barnabas62
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It's the use of the term 'flawed nature'. One of the baleful legacies of the Augustine-Pelagius dispute, which got carried over into Protestantism chiefly by Calvin, is that the Augustine/Calvin view of our human nature is much more influenced by the Fall and our fallenness than our created image of God inheritance. The latter is thought to have been all but obliterated, hence the emergence of terms such as Total Depravity.

The truth is that we do not always fail to do good, despite our fallibility. We are not complete moral bankrupts. Pelagius believed in both Divine Grace and the importance of human responsibility. I agree entirely with mousethief that he got a bad press, because Augustine misrepresented him.and his beliefs.

I really believe we do better to hold in tension both image of God, which speaks of our amazing potential and destiny, and also fallenness, which speaks about the reality of our human weakness.

This tension can save us from both pride and helplessness, enable us to grow in Grace. God is with us, He is our helper, He wants to see us grow up, come into our own. The epitome of good Fatherhood, good parenting.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
It's the use of the term 'flawed nature'. One of the baleful legacies of the Augustine-Pelagius dispute, which got carried over into Protestantism chiefly by Calvin, is that the Augustine/Calvin view of our human nature is much more influenced by the Fall and our fallenness than our created image of God inheritance. The latter is thought to have been all but obliterated, hence the emergence of terms such as Total Depravity.

I know I can start to harp when the topic of Total Depravity comes up, as it is an oft-distorted idea. (And I’ll readily admit that its proponents have been just as guilty of distorting it as its opponents.)

But Total Depravity does not mean that the image of God has been all but obliterated by humanity’s fallen nature, nor that our human nature is more influenced by our fallenness than by our created image of God inheritance. The “depravity” (“corruption,” in the sense of “not pure” or “infected”) intended by the term is not “total” in the sense of overpowering our nature as bearers of God’s image. It is “total” in the sense of all-pervasive—touching, even if only slightly, every aspect of our human nature.

[ 26. January 2018, 13:43: Message edited by: Nick Tamen ]

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LutheranChik
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Kwesi: Niebuhr wasn’t Lutheran — I believe he was in what is now the UCC — and I haven’t read that particular book; but I have read the work of Lutheran ethicists. Their ideas do not, unfortunately, often trickle down to the average person in the pew. But, that aside — I think you are overstating Stoicism’s optimism about the human condition. That’s not a agood nsecI glean in my admittedly rather superficial reading of Stoic thinkers.

There’s also the problem of turning what can easily be seen as a natural design flaw in our species — and, as such, something that could be discussed in a fairly dispassionate way with non- Christians and disaffected Christians — into the usual baggage-loaded discussion of “ sin.” To me the tragedy of the human condition is all about the tension involved between our amazing — yet not omniscient — cognitive power and the impulses of our primitive, “lizard “ brains. Why do we do things we know are bad, to ourselves and others? Why do we do bad things for good reasons, or bad things for the right reasons? Why do we not act when we should? Why do we often feel frustration, even despair, at these moments? All questions whose answers can be seen in physiological terms, without the Garden of Eden story.

Is there any way to solve our essential limitations? No. Is it possible to try and moderate our lizard inclinations so that we minimize our hurting ourselves and others? Yes. Well, we don’t always succeed, so should we just stop trying? No. Most people don’t have the internal fortitude to make this process a mindful lifestyle, so should we just stop trying? No.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:

There’s also the problem of turning what can easily be seen as a natural design flaw in our species — and, as such, something that could be discussed in a fairly dispassionate way with non- Christians and disaffected Christians — into the usual baggage-loaded discussion of “ sin.” To me the tragedy of the human condition is all about the tension involved between our amazing — yet not omniscient — cognitive power and the impulses of our primitive, “lizard “ brains. Why do we do things we know are bad, to ourselves and others? Why do we do bad things for good reasons, or bad things for the right reasons? Why do we not act when we should? Why do we often feel frustration, even despair, at these moments? All questions whose answers can be seen in physiological terms, without the Garden of Eden story.

Is there any way to solve our essential limitations? No. Is it possible to try and moderate our lizard inclinations so that we minimize our hurting ourselves and others? Yes. Well, we don’t always succeed, so should we just stop trying? No. Most people don’t have the internal fortitude to make this process a mindful lifestyle, so should we just stop trying? No.

This. Not only is the concept of sin unnecessary to deal with this, it can be counter-productive.

The idea that one is conquering sin puts behaviour as completely cognitive choice instead of the reactive one it often is. And it oversimplifies even the cognitive bits.
Sin as doing bad things? No problem. Sin as causing bad things? Problem.

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quetzalcoatl
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Well, the notion of sin strikes me as getting in the way, and often counter-productive, as lilBuddha says. Obviously, this is not so for Christians, who use the term a lot, but in therapy, most of which is secular, it is definitely a no no.

If someone is struggling with their own tendency to do harm, or some other wrong, the introduction of the notion of sin is going to make things worse. It's interesting to speculate as to why this is, but for one thing, it over-complicates. For another, it will put people's backs up. But I must think more about it, since therapy can be seen as a kind of secularization of confession and forgiveness.

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Barnabas62
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Nick Tamen

I understand that Total Depravity actually means all-pervading depravity i.e that there is impact of fallenness on our thoughts, words and deeds. I also understand that Calvin is more nuanced and complex than the TULIP proponents would wish, on this topic and many others.

But that being said, I have a feeling that all but obliterated, or something like it, is pretty much Calvin language.

My thesis, which is by no means original in mainstream theology, is that Augustine and Calvin resolved the tension between image of God and fallenness by emphasising fallenness. And this can and does give rise to an over-pessimistic view of human nature.

I am very much on LutheranChik's side in this thread. Her last post is worthy of profound reflection.

[ 26. January 2018, 18:32: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Nick Tamen

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Thanks Barnabas. I agree it can lead to an overly-pessimistic view of human nature, though I also think that, kept in proper perspective, it does have to and shouldn’t.

And while I’m in a pondering mode rather than a taking-sides mode right now, I agree that there is much in LutheranChik’s post worthy of reflection. The same can be said of some other posts as well.

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Barnabas62
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Sorry Nick that text autocorrect messed up your name. I put that right.

I was right about all but obliterated being Calvin like language. It can be found in Book 3 Chapter 3 para 9 of the Institutes. And Chapter 3 is worth reading in its entirety.

Link

[ 26. January 2018, 18:57: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Nick Tamen

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Thanks Barnabas. It’s been a while on that part of the Institutes—I’ll take a look. Admittedly, Calvin can come across a bit over the top sometimes. There’s a reason why as a group we call ourselves Reformed rather than Calvinist.

/tangent

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quetzalcoatl
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LutheranChik wrote:

quote:
There’s also the problem of turning what can easily be seen as a natural design flaw in our species — and, as such, something that could be discussed in a fairly dispassionate way with non- Christians and disaffected Christians — into the usual baggage-loaded discussion of “ sin.” To me the tragedy of the human condition is all about the tension involved between our amazing — yet not omniscient — cognitive power and the impulses of our primitive, “lizard “ brains. Why do we do things we know are bad, to ourselves and others? Why do we do bad things for good reasons, or bad things for the right reasons? Why do we not act when we should? Why do we often feel frustration, even despair, at these moments? All questions whose answers can be seen in physiological terms, without the Garden of Eden story.
Well, I think your OP and other posts are excellent. I'm not sure why our complicated nature is tragic really. I think you have suggested that we are primates, and of course, primate behaviour seems to vary from the cooperative to the destructive (and murderous).

This doesn't seem all that mysterious, does it? I suppose its tragic nature depends on your viewpoint.

One thing that your OP points to is that secular philosophies tend to get rid of the notion of sin, which, from my point of view, can only be beneficial. In this sense, I suppose morality has been secularized in the last two centuries.

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LutheranChik
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Speaking of tragedies, to me the excessive fondness for framing sin in penal terms is one of the great mistakes of Christendom. It ‘s a very Roman ( in the cultural sense) mindset.

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Horseman Bree
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Coming in a bit late for the discussion about the "benefit" of doing the Right Thing:
Aymen Derbali did the Right Thing in distracting the shooter for a few seconds while other people escaped. His Reward? Permanent paralysis and a difficult future for his family.

But he says he would do exactly the same in any case, because it was for the good of others. He does not hide behind his religion, or glory in it.

He just lives his philosophy.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Speaking of tragedies, to me the excessive fondness for framing sin in penal terms is one of the great mistakes of Christendom. It ‘s a very Roman ( in the cultural sense) mindset.

I thought that the whole notion of sin is now a big barrier for many people. It smacks of guilt, superplus, and many people are already guilty enough, and then they have to consider that they have annoyed the big cheese. How many layers of guilt do we need? At the same time, I know that some people positively enjoy feeling bad, and hoping to be punished, so there you are, satisfaction guaranteed.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Speaking of tragedies, to me the excessive fondness for framing sin in penal terms is one of the great mistakes of Christendom. It ‘s a very Roman ( in the cultural sense) mindset.

I agree. I find the Eastern emphasis on the idea of sin as disease very helpful and a welcome counter-balance.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Speaking of tragedies, to me the excessive fondness for framing sin in penal terms is one of the great mistakes of Christendom. It ‘s a very Roman ( in the cultural sense) mindset.

I agree. I find the Eastern emphasis on the idea of sin as disease very helpful and a welcome counter-balance.
How is this better? It still ignores how our minds work and still places emphasis on a magical cure and/or will. I’m not saying a spiritual focus is useless, BTW, just that it isn’t enough.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
How is this better? It still ignores how our minds work and still places emphasis on a magical cure and/or will. I’m not saying a spiritual focus is useless, BTW, just that it isn’t enough.

I think it’s better because I think it more accurately reflects the human condition. How does it ignore how our minds work? As for "magical cure," I'm not sure how think that's still emphasized (or even quite what you mean by it still being emphasized), but the assertion strikes me as dismissive at best.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Barnabas62
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Encouraging folks to take personal responsibility for their own thoughts words and deeds has always struck me as a positive thing. Sometimes the concept of sin, missing the mark, can be very helpful. However, the 'burn in Hell' approach basically encourages fear, self-interest or disbelief. The notion of moral imperatives doesn't do that. The challenge to behave better is often an appeal to our better nature, or our sense of fairness.

I think grace comes in when we come to terms with the fact that we break our own rules, through forgetfulness, or wilfulness, or even through deliberate calculation. What's the point of any moral code if you sling when it gets in the way of your own perceived self interest.

Such challenges do not foster guilt but they may cause us to take a long hard look at ourselves.

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Nick Tamen

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Agreed, Barnabas.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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A couple of times in this thread it was written: 'If Christianity is true'. To which I ask, what ever do you mean? It's easy to say the creeds or belief in being forgiven for sins, eternal life, born again and the like. That's for the True Believers I guess. What about the tentative and never-to-be-certain? Those who like the aesthetic of the story, find the miraculous difficult to swallow, but live in the comfort of possibility of something better than the difficult exploitive world they see, remote from salvation from death and damnation because they experience damnation already. Longing for the long sleep of death, the fade to black.

To be a little more crisp: can you imagine Christianity without any personal eternity. That your life is all you get, and at its end is annihilation of you, your personality - you're done - and the living eternally is only through your children and those you've passed on friendship with. Could there be Christianity then? Goodness then? Following the example of Jesus even if there's no heaven for you, nor hell, nor anything?

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
As a background, though, we are a social species of animal, and they tend to treat each other OK, as well as sometimes, not OK. I would imagine that early hominids were like this, and maybe things have gone downhill, not sure about that. Historical generalizations make my teeth ache.

I'd say that if anything we treat each other far better than most other primates. It's all very well watching a chimp or gorilla family living together in peace and harmony and wondering why humans can't do that, but doing so ignores what happens when those chimp/gorilla families come into contact with other chimp/gorilla families.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
As a background, though, we are a social species of animal, and they tend to treat each other OK, as well as sometimes, not OK. I would imagine that early hominids were like this, and maybe things have gone downhill, not sure about that. Historical generalizations make my teeth ache.

I'd say that if anything we treat each other far better than most other primates. It's all very well watching a chimp or gorilla family living together in peace and harmony and wondering why humans can't do that, but doing so ignores what happens when those chimp/gorilla families come into contact with other chimp/gorilla families.
Seriously? You can look at human history and think there is any major difference other than scale? Our ability to readjust what we consider us is greater, but then so is our ability to fuck over them. We have so much more potential, which makes our failures even greater.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
How is this better? It still ignores how our minds work and still places emphasis on a magical cure and/or will. I’m not saying a spiritual focus is useless, BTW, just that it isn’t enough.

I think it’s better because I think it more accurately reflects the human condition. How does it ignore how our minds work?
Because a lot of why people "sin" is due to how our brains work. Without dealing with that, it is unlikely the basic issue will change.
"Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition"
"Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if it all depends on you"
Those are two phrases that, IMO, are the right blend of religion and practicality.

quote:

As for "magical cure," I'm not sure how think that's still emphasized (or even quite what you mean by it still being emphasized),

You never watch the telly or interact with the more conservative of your brethren? Actually, that is not fair, I've seen it in the more liberal as well. And it isn't a Christian phenomenon, it is a human one. If you give people a simple solution, they will take it. Without evaluation or evidence of efficacy.

quote:
but the assertion strikes me as dismissive at best.

I suppose it might be. From my observation, merely praying to God and wanting to end a behaviour rarely achieves that goal. One needs to work at changing that behaviour. Some Christians do this. Some do not. But the concept of sin as disease or evil does not inherently address the psychological and physiological realities.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
But the concept of sin as disease or evil does not inherently address the psychological and physiological realities.

I didn’t say it does. I said I find the Eastern Orthodox idea of sin as disease to be a welcome and helpful counter-balance to what LutheranChik called "the excessive fondness for framing sin in penal terms."

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I'd say that if anything we treat each other far better than most other primates. It's all very well watching a chimp or gorilla family living together in peace and harmony and wondering why humans can't do that, but doing so ignores what happens when those chimp/gorilla families come into contact with other chimp/gorilla families.

Seriously? You can look at human history and think there is any major difference other than scale?
Chimps and gorillas will kill every member of a rival family they can get their hands on (if they don't get killed first, of course). They have no concept of diplomacy, alliances or peaceful coexistence. So yes, I'd say we're doing better than them.

quote:
Our ability to readjust what we consider us is greater, but then so is our ability to fuck over them.
I'm not so sure. Killing is killing whether it's done with teeth and claws or guided missiles.

quote:
We have so much more potential, which makes our failures even greater.
Our failures are the same as any other creature, but the fact that's we're largely peaceful and willing to live alongside one another rather than constantly waging war against our neighbours counts as a definite plus mark for our species.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
As a background, though, we are a social species of animal, and they tend to treat each other OK, as well as sometimes, not OK. I would imagine that early hominids were like this, and maybe things have gone downhill, not sure about that. Historical generalizations make my teeth ache.

I'd say that if anything we treat each other far better than most other primates. It's all very well watching a chimp or gorilla family living together in peace and harmony and wondering why humans can't do that, but doing so ignores what happens when those chimp/gorilla families come into contact with other chimp/gorilla families.
Well, it's probably correct that primate species vary in their degree of aggression and destructiveness, and also cooperation. But this seems to miss my original point - that the notion of sin gives a supernatural gloss to human wrong-doing. Well, OK, if that's your thing, carry on. But my point is that human virtue and vice don't seem particularly unnatural, that is, outside the parameters of other species. Think of the invertebrates that eat their mate. I don't think supernaturalism is required as an explanation of human benevolence or malevolence.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Our failures are the same as any other creature, but the fact that's we're largely peaceful and willing to live alongside one another rather than constantly waging war against our neighbours counts as a definite plus mark for our species.

Then bonobos have the highest marks of any primate, higher than humans

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rolyn
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I'm OK with the concept of sin, provided is used to label, or even explain the darker side one's own human nature.
Having said that if someone with a robe on starts wagging their finger at me with Sin this and sin that I become a lot less OK with it.

I would agree it does seem that people these days are, in many ways, generally nicer and kinder to each other. This isn’t to say secularism has been universally more successful in banishing dark deeds over and above the endeavours of Christian doctrine. It has though so far proved that there must be a natural element which helps people get on with eachother

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SecondRateMind
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To the OP: Seems to me that (some versions of) Christianity took a wrong turn when they decided salvation was simply a matter of faith alone.

There is, in philosophy, doing (ethics), knowing (epistemology), and being (ontology). They all form essential parts of the human condition, and the idea that a just God might disregard any of them in the sole preference of another of them strikes me as unlikely.

Truth is, they all feedback on each other. What we believe affects what we do, and what we do affects the way we are. And other similar relationships, also. But if I were to choose the most telling of these considerations, it would be the way we are, our ontological, spiritual status, rather than what we believe.

By all means, pursue virtue for virtue's sake, rather than any hope of salvation or fear of damnation. But also remember that we need justify virtue in it's wider context, or we cannot know it is virtue.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Barnabas62
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Interesting. Ontology was of great importance in Patristic thought and continues in Orthodox Christianity today.

I'm pretty dumb about Orthodox ontology re being human but I have a vague memory of three stages. Being (existence) well-being, eternal being. I think image of God is in there, however obscured, well-being arises out of some cleansing of the obscuring of the image of God, and eternal being is the destiny. The word theosis comes in somewhere.

That might be all toffee; is an Orthodox Christian kibbitzing?

[ 29. January 2018, 18:44: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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SecondRateMind
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Interesting. Ontology was of great importance in Patristic thought and continues in Orthodox Christianity today.

I'm pretty dumb about Orthodox ontology re being human...

Me too. I await enlightenment from the forum.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Barnabas62
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I'll PM mousethief, to see if he's interested. Haven't been able to find a good link.

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Barnabas62
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I remembered that my half-remembered stuff came from Maximos the Confessor.

Here's a link

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SecondRateMind
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Thanks for that. There is much I find, in that link, to agree with.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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mousethief

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I am quite innocent of the teachings of Maximos the Confessor. Nor do I know anything about "Orthodox ontology." Indeed the phrase is weird to me --
"ontology" means one's tally of what exists, or what it means to exist, or the study of what entities do or do not exist. But this is coming at it as an analytical philosopher (my training) rather than as an Orthodox theologian (my faith tradition).

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SecondRateMind
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Yes, that is how I understand the term ontology, as well. I am really focused here on 'what it means to exist'. Part of what it means to be human is to have a character, a way of being. That character can be built by practicing virtue and eroded by practicing vice. Thus, we are rewarded and punished for our virtues and vices directly and automatically. By 'spiritual stature' I simply mean the quality of character as so affected at any given point in time.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Barnabas62
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I found this link.

The paragraph beginning 'From the earliest ..' contains a neat summary including the importance of the word 'being' in Orthodox thought.

Worth adding that I am not Orthodox, but I've found Orthodox thought quite clarifying in helping me to understand church history, the foundation and development of central doctrines.

The whole article is fascinating also in its linking of being and morality. A good read, I just found.

[ 30. January 2018, 08:47: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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SecondRateMind
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I found this link.

...

The whole article is fascinating also in its linking of being and morality. A good read, I just found.

Indeed. Though I would take issue with the idea of morality being simply a matter of obeying or disobeying rules and laws. Seems to me that the ethical involves more traction on reality than that. But the general line of argument in the link is promising.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Barnabas62
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With thanks to Isaac Asimov, I have this nice paradox to help me. 'Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.'

What I found interesting in the article is the need to see morality in terms of the journey from being to well-being to eternal being. What that says to me is there is a real value in being open to what our experiences teach us about our present moral understanding. There is a dynamic there which I relate to very strongly.

This is one of the reasons why I am very grateful for this thread. Being prepared to look further, both without and within, for our guidance to doing what is right seems a natural part of a journey towards well-being. If our historic sense of morals is challenged by our present choices, that seems a significant part of the journey. One needs to avoid self-deception in this, but honest wrestling seems a really good thing.

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SecondRateMind
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
With thanks to Isaac Asimov, I have this nice paradox to help me. 'Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.'

I like that.

quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
What I found interesting in the article is the need to see morality in terms of the journey from being to well-being to eternal being. What that says to me is there is a real value in being open to what our experiences teach us about our present moral understanding. There is a dynamic there which I relate to very strongly.

I can't speak for 'eternal being', never having experienced that. But, having been selfish and a coward, and having been somewhat less selfish and somewhat less cowardly, I can speak for well-being. I would tend to sympathise with the virtue ethicists, here, in that for a human to flourish in this life, virtue is necessary. If one wishes to extrapolate from that to the afterlife, well, that might not be an unreasonable projection.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Our failures are the same as any other creature, but the fact that's we're largely peaceful and willing to live alongside one another rather than constantly waging war against our neighbours counts as a definite plus mark for our species.

Then bonobos have the highest marks of any primate, higher than humans
Good for them.

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Barnabas62
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@ 2RM

None of us who are alive have! Eternal being is the final state of being. The complete restoration of the image of God. Being taken up into God so He will be 'all in all'.

What we get are glimpses on our way to well-being.

Not sure how much this relates to Orthodox understanding, but it has always impressed me that mathetes, the Greek for disciple, contains the twin notions of learning and following. Again a journey thing. There is value to be found in both questioning and obedience. Learning embraces both. So does following.

[ 30. January 2018, 15:07: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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SecondRateMind
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:


Not sure how much this relates to Orthodox understanding, but it has always impressed me that mathetes, the Greek for disciple, contains the twin notions of learning and following. Again a journey thing. There is value to be found in both questioning and obedience. Learning embraces both. So does following.

I am sure that's right. But some of us are sheep by nature, and others goats. I have no time for a theory of heaven that excludes goats, for no other reason than that they are goats. Indeed, I think scripture does goats a severe injustice, and sheep, perhaps, are unworthy of the glory they are promised.

Best wishes, 2RM.

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Barnabas62
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Sounds Calvinist. Some created for salvation, some for destruction? Limited atonement? I don't believe that.

The Orthodox view is we are made in the image of God. That may be obscured but it is not effaced and cannot be lost. The journey is from being to well-being, or from being to corruption. Another way of looking at that is we become more sheepy or more goaty, but live with both aspects in our journey.

Who judges sheepiness or goatiness in the end? One thing is for sure. We don't.

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Golden Key
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And some Orthodoxen believe that even Satan will ultimately be redeemed.
[Votive]

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Barnabas62
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Probably worth adding answers to the sheep/goats metaphor. Sheep are characterised by unselfish loving service to the suffering and disadvantaged. Goats are characterised by indifference to the suffering and disadvantaged.

Which of us can claim to be a fully fledged sheep? Or to be completely free from the characteristic indifference of goats?

If we're honest, we'll put our hands up to somewhere in between.

The move from being to well-being is a process. Becoming more Christ-like. We get somewhere down the road but don't complete the journey. And some people without any formal connection to the Christian faith can be very Christ-like in their loving unselfishness towards the poor and disadvantaged.

If we are wise, we leave any eternal judgment on these matters to the eternal judge. Meanwhile, getting on which such good stuff as comes to hand. And dumping any notions of making comparative judgments of others. Just not our job.

[ 31. January 2018, 10:50: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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