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[personal profile] policraticus
From my point of view, God created the world, and the way it works. Therefore plate tectonics, subduction, earthquakes and tsunamis and the physics behind it all are his work. In fact things like tectonics, the water cycle which produces storms, vulcanism are actually necessary for life to exist on Earth. However, why do these natural forces produce evil like we've seen in South Asia? Well, as with most things in the faith, it has to do with a humanity that has been endowed with a will and a mind. Man is able to understand the forces of nature and to understand where it is safe, or failing that, the warning signs of approaching calamity. In fact, an entire tribe of sea nomads in Thailand were saved because they had a tradition of watching for the tsunami tide and running very fast up hill when they observed it. But, due to our sinful, disobedient and prideful natures we are often unwilling to learn these lessons or obey them when we do. Thai and Indian officials had ample warning of the tsunami and many years to prepare for the event. They chose to ignore it. If people fail to respect natural forces such as tsunamis or remain willfully ignorant of the danger, it seems that the responsibility lies with them, not God. Much like people who remain in places like San Francisco or Los Angeles, or people who continue to build on barrier islands in the paths of hurricanes or live in trailers in the Oklahoma panhandle. Sin, brought into the world by man's rebellion, has created a disharmony between us and God and us and Nature. This unbalance causes evil in the natural world the same way it causes evil within the hearts of men.

That being said, what could be God's purpose in designing a world where this was even a possibility? Well I don't think I am making much news here when I say that I don't know. The answers I've given you, natural processes coming into conflict with faulty human judgment, are somewhat unsatisfactory. We know that God is all powerful, all knowing and supremely benevolent. We know he has endowed mankind with a capacity for choice. We know that evil, painful things occur that can be easily understood, and there are other evil, painful things that seem totally incomprehensible. What I would say, as a Christian, is that God is as sovereign over the things we cannot understand as he is sovereign over those we can. His actions in this world are done to accomplish his will and are done with the full knowledge of eternity behind them. We, as limited, mortal creatures lack the ability to know, or in some cases even the capacity to discern the reasons behind events in this life. All I can say, ultimately, is that God loves us, and wants us to be happy and that this disaster, as with all pain and evil in this world that we cannot understand, is working within that plan and toward that goal. That doesn't mean we cannot be angry, nor does it mean we should not mourn and weep for the many who have lost all, and even more. It certainly does not mean we should not question and look for understanding in this tragedy. Your Aunt may consider herself very religious, but she has made a grave error in ascribing to God a motive that may well be false. It is presumptuous to say that God is somehow "angry" with these people, and has wrought this destruction as punishment. God is indeed angry with man, as man is in rebellion against God, it could hardly be otherwise. But the reaction that I as a Christian would point to is not plagues and disasters but to the life and reconciliation that God offered to us through his son, Jesus. God is not a God who is only filled with wrath and vengeance, he is a God who loves mercy and offers it freely.

Date: 2005-01-05 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yechezkiel.livejournal.com
Good answer, but there's something else interesting to touch on: that God's continued intimate involvement with His Creation (as made evident in the Incarnation, and in the ministrations of the Holy Spirit) shows that this event must also be able to be an opportunity for Good. (Not to say it is Good, or is necessary for the continued Bringing In of Creation back to God, but rather that this event creates new opportunities for Good and can be a lesson or a calling to some who might otherwise have slumbered.)

Date: 2005-01-05 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Thanks for the quick response and the input. I actually thought about that, but kind of let it slide in there with the "all part of the plan" argument. I am very curious to see the reaction to this. Thanks again, now into the lion's den!

Date: 2005-01-05 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
“God is indeed angry with man, as man is in rebellion against God, it could hardly be otherwise.”

Please explain

re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-01-05 06:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Man has sinned, rejected God and stood in opposition to God's Will. With the entrance of sin into the world Man effectively defected to the side of those enemies of God who have sought in their pride to replace God with themselves. Since God is a just God, a God that will punish sin, God is angry with man. Mankind is under a curse, a sentence of death. God, in Christian theology, is within his rights to simply wipe us out. Of course, God is also a loving God, a God of perfect mercy, a long-suffering and patient, forgiving God, so he has sought to redeem those separated from him, to reach out and gather all who would come to him and seek mercy from him. He has entered into history and paid the price we owe by living a just life, dying and paying our penalty for us, and rising again.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-01-05 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
This just sounds like cult talk to me.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-01-06 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
How so? How can I make it clearer?

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-01-06 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
“Man has sinned, rejected God and stood in opposition to God's Will.”

Show me proof of this without referring to religious texts. Faith is something you believe in without questioning of the facts and that bothers me.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-02-27 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] korean-guy-01.livejournal.com
Would the Ten Commandments and the obvious disaster that could occur in violating them suffice for you?

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-02-28 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] korean-guy-01.livejournal.com
You know as well as I do the potential consequences when you violate them, unless you consider heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment to be good things. Would you not say the rules are beneficial in how to treat your fellow man or are fallicious conjectures all you can reply with?

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-02-28 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
Why don’t all Buddhists suffer heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment - or will they in "hell"? You are arrogant.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-02-28 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] korean-guy-01.livejournal.com
I've not singled out any religious groups, and you continue not to address what I present to you.


Date: 2005-02-28 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
“You know as well as I do the potential consequences when you violate them, unless you consider heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment to be good things.”

Ok right here you imply that only those who pursue the bible are exempt from heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment – are you stupid?

“Would you not say the rules are beneficial in how to treat your fellow man or are fallicious conjectures all you can reply with?”

Right here you imply that only the bible can educate us the rules on how to treat our fellow men, so yes, I singled out another religious group to make the point that you have no where near the monopoly of truth or kindness as a christian.
Instead of replying to a person who is going to “hell” go memorize some more of your mythology Dingy.

Re: zzzzzzz

Date: 2005-02-28 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] korean-guy-01.livejournal.com
Ok right here you imply that only those who pursue the bible are exempt from heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment – are you stupid?

Nothing about the Bible or Bible pursuers has been mentioned in any comment I have made. You're just jumping to some wild, errorneous assumptions. The Ten Commandments can be found outside of the Bible, and it's quite possible that those who have been exposed to the Ten Commandments can be rather unfamiliar with the Bible and still find some of those commandments to be sensible. People should be willing to accept any consequence of their actions, but no one is exempt from encountering disaster.

Right here you imply that only the bible can educate us the rules on how to treat our fellow men, so yes, I singled out another religious group to make the point that you have no where near the monopoly of truth or kindness as a christian.
Instead of replying to a person who is going to “hell” go memorize some more of your mythology Dingy.

Again, I have not mentioned the Bible in any comment I have made. Bible != Ten Commandments, repeat that ten times to yourself. I only imply that these rules have sensibility. No other source material or religions have been mentioned. I would suggest you take what is presented to you for what it's worth instead of putting your own spin on things that are not even there if you want to have any validity in your arguments. I wholeheartedly agree that other religions have many things to offer people in their daily life.

Re: zzzzzzz

Date: 2005-02-28 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
So if I break one/many commandments that santa..opps I mean “religious texts” give me I will suffer heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment? Are you sure about that?

Re: zzzzzzz

Date: 2005-02-28 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] korean-guy-01.livejournal.com
You know as well as I do the potential consequences when you violate them, unless you consider heartbreak, STDs, and imprisonment to be good things.


Date: 2005-02-28 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allah-dot-com.livejournal.com
Oh good, I was just making sure you were not saying I was going to be punished somehow, because that assumption would have been pure fantasy.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-12-09 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Short answer? I read the newspapers.

Long answer? 2,000 years of Christian doctrine.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-12-09 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redbluepill.livejournal.com
What about 2,500 years of Buddhist doctrine?

Or 10,000 years of civilization?

Or 4 billion years of evolutionary biology?

Doesn't it surprise you that virtually all of a religion's follwers have parents of the same religion? Doesn't that suggest that Muslim parents beget Muslim children, and that Christian parents beget Christian children? The truth is more complex that what we were simply brought up to believe, yet that is what most of us do.

Re: The Fall.

Date: 2005-12-10 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
My study of Buddhism, or Hinduism and Islam for that matter, has convinced me that they do not approach reality with the accuracy and honesty as Christianity. It's probably more like 7K years of actual civilization, per se, but I take your point and would say that those things do nothing to contradict the last 2K.

Most people of every faith tradition simply accept what they are told, but that does not mean there is nothing there to make judgments about, no real set of beliefs that can be held to reason and experience. Except maybe Unitarianism. Those people seem to believe anything.

Date: 2005-01-05 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] uprightcitizen.livejournal.com
Ah! So this is where you've been. Mucking around in the debate community? I gotta see this. Thought you left LJ.

Date: 2005-01-05 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
I am still here, mostly in the winter, usually in [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com], [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com] or the cage match that is [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com]. Mucking around is certianly an apt turn of phrase for [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com]! I have more or less admitted to myself that I am not a very good diariest, my life to just to embarassingly boring to be laid bare to the blogosphere, but I do enjoy a good discussion/argument/flame war/pissing contest. Anyway, a Happy New Year to you, and I hope this generates some thought.

Date: 2005-01-12 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mega-bass.livejournal.com
If God takes life he's an indian giver.

Date: 2005-03-16 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colintj.livejournal.com
PS we won teh internets (http://www.livejournal.com/community/metaquotes/2735707.html)

Date: 2005-03-16 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Now the perfect little dialog is all crapped up with poseurs and wannabes. : (

Just like the internets.

There is a lesson here somewhere.

Or not.

Date: 2005-03-17 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colintj.livejournal.com
gold, gold, in the american river!

and try not to learn from teh internets. it speaks poorly of you and sometimes kills the funny.

Date: 2005-03-17 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
That was the last day California was worth a plugged nickle.

The interwebs are an extended Seinfeld episode.

No message.

No moral.

Date: 2005-03-17 04:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colintj.livejournal.com
49ers ≈ mountainview/SJ nerds

and i hope it turns out to be the soup nazi episode.

Date: 2005-03-17 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colintj.livejournal.com
i can take that. it better not turn into a friends episode when im not looking.

Date: 2005-03-17 05:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
My greatest fear: Full House.

Date: 2005-03-17 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colintj.livejournal.com

Bob Sagat must die

Date: 2005-03-17 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Yes, slowly.

Date: 2005-05-14 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sostark.livejournal.com
So what's the deal, you post bi-monthly? I want to read the good stuff. :)

Date: 2005-05-18 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
I am a wretched blogger.


And I always have been. In 7th Grade they made us keep a journal. You remember the drill. A half an hour a week you were required to write during class, and then whenever else the spirit moved you. A girl in class filled up 3 Comp books. Three comp books of 13 year old girl thoughts. ::shudders:: That knowledge alone kept me from ever pursuing English teaching as a profession. I spent my 30 minutes doodling Tie fighters or Cylon attack ships, the rest of the time it lay forgotten in my bookbag. The week before it was to be collected I basically sat down and wrote it out as an extended semi-fictional account of the school year. Even changed pens to keep the veritas going. Go a B, if memory serves. But the experience did teach me something that has lately proved useful in navigating teh internets. This could all be total bullshit. I guess on one level I am too cynical, on an other too shy to be a good diarist. If it wasn't for good folks like you, and God help me the [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com] denizens I doubt I would be doing this at all.

In any case the restaurant is ramping up for summer and my small voice will be getting smaller and smaller until October. Unless you really want to hear me whine about how my steamer just died and rant about how sick I am of speaking pidgin Spanish and "omg people from NYC are teh eViL." Vanity.

I will take this opportunity to say I really enjoy missdomestic. You have a capacity to make people see that the really important stuff in life is the stuff that our culture seems pass off as trivial. Your story about Dash consoling his stuffed bunny by calling it Mommy was brilliant. I'll never forget it.

Date: 2005-05-18 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sostark.livejournal.com
I'm friending you just because I really really like your style and I want to keep tabs on you.

One of my life goals is to go to culinary school. I'm not sure if I've ever written that down before.

Thank you so much for your compliment about my site. I had no idea you read it, and I'm really flattered at the moment. Sort of gushy actually.

Date: 2005-12-09 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redbluepill.livejournal.com
This post pains me, because it's so full of self-righteous arrogance about what your God does. You reason well, but where is your humanity?...

The local fisherman in Thailand who was hit by this calamity was born to non-Christian parents (i.e. "heathens") and probably had very little notion of what Christianity is about. What did he do to deserve this?

That fisherman is far removed from the politics and wisdom of Thai leaders who should've prepared better for such an event. He was just trying to eke out a living in the town where he was born. What did he do to deserve this?

With all due respect, you seem to be trying to reconcile a preconcieved belief (your Christian God) with the reality what you see in the world. If you want to discover the truth, you may have to start with your preconceived beliefs.

Date: 2005-12-09 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
I don't think I have ever implied that anyone necessarily deserves it, beyond the simple fact that we are all going to die somehow, someday. Honestly, the poor fisherman was a victim of incompetant rulers and a general arrogant ignorance about the nature of our world. I'm not sure I've implied anything else. The OP was basically relating that they had been told that the tsunami was "God's wrath," poured out on unbelievers. I thought that was nonsense.

Look, I live on a narrow spit of sand that could be swallowed by the Atlantic someday. Should that day come, and should I die, it wouldn't be anyone's (or anyGod's) fault but my own. I also like butter, and sausages, and donuts, and ice cream, and more than likely beer more than is strictly good for me. If I should keel over die of a heart attack it would also rest largely on my own shoulders. The reality I see in the world is that either things are completely random and meaningless or they are meaningful, but sometimes in difficult and perplexing ways. It seems to me that if things really were meaningless and random we wouldn't have this compulsive impluse to attempt to fix meaning. It simply would occur to us to ask the question. Why would it? We would be much more like the wildebeast, moving on without as second look as the crocodiles consume our screaming brethern alive.

Date: 2005-12-09 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redbluepill.livejournal.com
How about this for an alternate theory?...

Evolution produced intelligence as a way to improve adapability. After all, intelligent creatures, from monkeys to cats, can sense their environments and adapt to it accordingly. That's better than a mollusk, and helps ensure the survival of the species.

What evolution didn't plan on is that once intelligence reaches a certain point, as it has with humans, it enables us to do things that don't have much to do with our survival: like question how we got here, who we are, and what we want out of life (beyond eating, sleeping and having sex).

You have the capacity to ask such remarkable questions, and to find meaning. Why jump to the conclusion that a God must've given you that capability? The answers, too, are likely to be far more fascinating and intricate than the simple one the Bible offers us.

Date: 2005-12-10 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
You choose the meaningless. If evolution is natural and mechanical, then it has produced nothing, it has neither direction nor purpose. What is, simply is, full stop and one set of events or situations is not better or worse than another. Like gravity. Even our intelligence, it seems to me, would have nothing to say about right or wrong. Why would it? To what would it apply? In nature there is nothing that is right or wrong, only what is. Why isn't it the same with us? Surely this is a strange way of thinking if everything is simply mechanical and truly without inherint meaning? I say: X is morally right. You say: Y is morally right. Then another may say that Y is more right than X. How can that judgment be made if, at some point, there isn't something real that is absoultly right, something truly moral, something beyond what is natural that is acting like a yardstick by which we measure right and wrong. There is no answer to this in science, it is an issue beyond its capacity to examine.

Date: 2005-12-10 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redbluepill.livejournal.com
Is your objection that it's too scary to think that maybe there isn't some "meaning" to life, and therefore we ought to create some in the form of a god?

Regardless, I would have to disagree that science alone cannot yield meaning or ethics. For instance, take a look at Greek philosophy as one example. They did wonders with ethics and life's purpose, without attributing it all to gods. But it takes diligence and work to arrive at such insights.

Date: 2005-12-10 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
Not scary. Incoherent. If life is purely naturalistic, mechanistic, random and meaningless the concept of meaning would simply be "whatever is." My killing you would be neither right nor wrong, just like uranium decaying into lead is neither right nor wrong. Ideas like right and wrong only have meaning if they relate to something beyond the natural, otherwise they are simply arbitrary rules, accepted for no particular reason.

Thinking that the Greeks derived ethics and meaning from objective scientific principles leads me to believe you haven't read much Greek philosophy. Where would science put Plato's Form of the Good? Where would science put Aristotle's concept of teleology?

Date: 2005-12-10 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redbluepill.livejournal.com
... or the allegory of the cave?

I do know my philosophy, but this is clearly getting to be a bigger conversation than we can have on a thread. I will say that I disagree that a God is necessary to provide meaning in life. To say the very least, my own life is a testimony to that.

I will also say that the fact that this raises "incoherent" questions that have difficult answers is a tempting reason to run to the refuge that religion provides in answering them. But religion often simply covers up those questions--it doesn't truly answer them. For instance, how did your god determine right and wrong to begin with?

I've enjoyed our conversation. Thanks for keeping an open mind. I know I can be abrasive at times.

Date: 2005-12-10 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] policraticus.livejournal.com
That allegory cuts both ways, it has always seemed to me.

I wouldn't want to leave you with the impression that my argument was that God alone can provide meaning to life. When I am talking about absolutes it is easy to take this as a shorthand for "God." Well, I think it certainly points to God, and I would be being deceptive if I didn't admit I thought he offered the truest meaning, but that isn't really the essence of my argument. You are clearly free to find your own meaning.

I cannot speak for everyone or every religion, but if you imagine Christianity is a refuge from difficult questions, I can only say I have never found it to be so, nor have most serious Christians. Our faith is one of hard questions, and difficult answers. But it is also one of truth, and a commitment to seeking the truth, not the easy answer.

Lastly, I will say this about the Christian idea of God and how he determines what is right and wrong. He doesn't. God, in our understanding, does not make law, nor does he follow law, law is an expression of his eternal nature and will. We say that the honesty is good and dishonesty bad because God is perfectly truthful. We say that charity is good and indifference is bad because God is perfectly loving. I could go on. The point is that Socrates would have had a much more difficult time with, say, St. Paul than he did poor Euthyphro. Chrisitianity avoids both horns of his dilemma by proposing a whole new, and in my mind accurate, description of why what is good, is good.

This has been a very good discussion, one I am grateful to you for starting. You have be nothing but honest.

Date: 2005-12-23 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jay-corvid.livejournal.com
But why does life have to have meaning? I've watched ants build their home, only to see it destroyed, and they just start all over again. It is certainly comforting to think there is more to it than that, but that doesn't make it so. Maybe there is no absolute right and wrong? Maybe it is all just a combination of nature and nurture where if you had a computer sophisticated enough, you could accurately predict what any given person will do.

Many people have told me I'm going to hell because I don't believe in God. I always ask them, "If someone has lived a wretched life, but they believe in God, and confess/atone for all of their sins before they die, will they go to heaven?" They tell me yes, and I am left wondering why God would take the first person, who lived a wretched life but believed in God and was apologetic at the end, but he would not take the second person, who lived a better life but didn't believe.

The first person did not add to society (and may have done more harm than good) but because at the end they had found God, they go to heaven. Perhaps they only came around because they were afraid of hell or desirous of heaven. However, the second person didn't believe in either, but still did the right things because it was what he thought was right. He didn't do it for his own gain, or to avoid punishment...sort of like doing the right thing even when no one will ever know you did it. And yet, somehow they aren't ultimately held in the same regard.

Personally, I don't think life has to have meaning, save what you make of it. My life will have meaning because of what impact I have on my corner of the world, not how anyone else (deities included) view my life. If God is watching, and it works in my favor, great. If not, at least the "meaning" of my life was that I did the best that I could. For me that's enough.

Make sense?


Date: 2006-05-06 10:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polocrunch.livejournal.com
Thanks for your link in response to my post (). I've responded to your two main points in my summary comments at the bottom of the page. I didn't much like your first paragraph, but the second paragraph was good for being intellectually honest!
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