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God's Love
06-29-2011, 12:27 PM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2011 12:39 PM by WhiteNova.)
Post: #1
God's Love
In another thread, an atheist tried to prove the non-existence of God's love in the usual way. We all know the drill. But I posed a single question neither he nor any other atheist wants to answer: how does he know suffering is bad?

I think the question is avoided because any answer they give is either arbitrary or genetic, and if the latter, it's necessary for progressive evolution.

It's really kinda funny to see them say the possibility of black holes and suffering proves God is indifferent, when in fact without them they wouldn't be able to complain because they would not be alive. They can't even comprehend that genuine altruism would not be possible without the possibility of social inequality. In fact, from a book I have here's a list of things the possibility of suffering allows:

Quote:51.5) 3:5.6 1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments
.
(51.6) 3:5.7 2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

(51.7) 3:5.8 3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

(51.8) 3:5.9 4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

(51.9) 3:5.10 5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

(51.10) 3:5.11 6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

(51.11) 3:5.12 7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valor of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

(51.12) 3:5.13 8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamoring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

(51.13) 3:5.14 9. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

Clearly those who praised the 'profundity' of the OP's 'proofs' do not comprehend the meaning of adversity or the mission of suffering. They are too self-centered to see the larger picture. A life of comfort does not indicate God's favor, nor does suffering indicate an uncaring God.

Job, too, longed for a human God. He hungered to commune with a divine Being who knew of his mortal estate, understood his suffering and would wipe his tears away.

But God speaks to us where the foolish do not enter. He speaks within the human heart as a still, small voice, saying, ‘This is the way; walk therein.’ They do not comprehend that God dwells within them, that God becomes what they are that he may make them as he is.

While Job did not find through suffering the resolution of his intellectual troubles or the solution of his philosophical difficulties, he did achieve a great victory; even in the very face of the breakdown of his theological defenses he ascended to those spiritual heights where he could sincerely say, ‘I abhor myself.’ Only then, with self out of the way, could Job ascended to the superhuman plane of moral understanding and spiritual insight. And with this vision, there follows a soul peace which passes all human understanding.

Man suffers, first, from the accidents of time and the imperfections of a space-time existence -- natural evils. Next, he suffers the inexorable consequences of error. And finally, man reaps the harvest of his own iniquitous behavior.

The author of What a Wonderful World and his supporters long for a human God; a God that will wipe away their tears for them. But what would any child learn if a parent did everything for him and protected him or her from every possible harm or vision of suffering? Would the Buddha have found enlightenment if he never left his father's compound? Pain and suffering are essential to progressive evolution. The immortal soul that is worth living is forged between the anvil of justice and the hammer of suffering.

Why do you think the question "how do you know suffering is bad?" goes unanswered?

"By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never." (author unknown)
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06-29-2011, 01:10 PM
Post: #2
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 12:27 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  Why do you think the question "how do you know suffering is bad?" goes unanswered?

Answering that question, either way, proves nothing.

Suffering is bad if it is you who is enduring it, or if your are watching someone you love endure it, but it says nothing about God. In many cases, we are the cause of our own (or someone else's) suffering - I like to say we are punished by our sins, but not for them.

In other cases suffering is due to natural disasters. But it is still not "God's fault" for allowing suffering to occur.
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06-29-2011, 02:03 PM
Post: #3
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 01:10 PM)digipixel Wrote:  
(06-29-2011 12:27 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  Why do you think the question "how do you know suffering is bad?" goes unanswered?

Answering that question, either way, proves nothing.

Suffering is bad if it is you who is enduring it, or if your are watching someone you love endure it, but it says nothing about God. In many cases, we are the cause of our own (or someone else's) suffering - I like to say we are punished by our sins, but not for them.

In other cases suffering is due to natural disasters. But it is still not "God's fault" for allowing suffering to occur.
I do not disagree, but atheists seem to believe that suffering is an argument against there being a loving and omnipotent God, even though they cannot answer the question.

"By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never." (author unknown)
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06-29-2011, 02:06 PM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2011 02:07 PM by StarStuff.)
Post: #4
RE: God's Love
Suffering is bad by definition. It is pain. It is unpleasantness. It is how our brains interpret that which is damaging to our physical or emotional well-being.

Love, by definition, means not wanting to see a person suffer.

At least, that's how I've always defined it. If you're using some other twisted definition of the word, good for you, but then the argument is about semantics rather than substance.

Now let me ask you a couple questions:
1) Do you love anybody?
2) Would you allow them to suffer if you could prevent it?

No single step in the search for enlightenment should ever be considered sacred; only the search should.
-Ann Druyan
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06-29-2011, 04:00 PM
Post: #5
RE: God's Love
Interesting subject.

There are cases where I consider suffering useful, when it leads in the long run to a happier and more balanced life. To solve the pain of childhood issues, you may need to go through them to a degree.

Would you prefer intense shorttime suffering to medium intensity long time suffering?

Also some ways of suffering are healthy in my opinion like mourning for someone you loved or felt attached to. I prefer the suffering of mourning loss to a chemically induced numbness. I would prefer this for the people I love also.

I am not of the standpoint that suffering is always good ('if it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger'), but a degree of suffering can build character and make a person more humane.

Osho: "Enlightenment means being fully conscious, aware. Ordinarily we are not conscious and not aware. We are doing things either out of habit or out of biological instinct".
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06-29-2011, 04:54 PM
Post: #6
RE: God's Love
The problem is WhiteNova you have the whole thing arse-about-face.

What you have quoted below presumes that this life is some sort of trail or audition to see what grand prize you get in the next life. The traits that you have quoted as ends are actually means. You seem to think that it desirable, and therefore to be rewarded, to be courageous, altruistic, hopeful and so forth, ie ends.

In fact these things are the means by which man and humanity survive in a completely indifferent universe. Not say that they are worthless only that they aren't "brownie points" to be scored and tallied to see where you finish in the race of life.

In your quote, courage is seen as desirable as a trait and considered to be an end in and of itself. The flip side is that courage is actually the means that man has evolved in order to grapple with the hardships inherent in an indifferent universe. The only reward for courage is survival, means, not end. The same applies to all of the rest too.

The same can be applied to your question about suffering. It seems to me that you consider suffering to be a means by which you can demonstrate worthiness to some supernatural Supreme Being and therefore be rewarded. Whereas, I see (and from what I understand so do many others) suffering as simply an end which is preferrable to avoid as it serves no useful purpose and only detracts from that which makes this life worthwhile. If there is no god then there is no mechanism by which suffering can be viewed as a means and therefore a virtue or to be desired, ergo, suffering is bad.


(06-29-2011 12:27 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  
Quote:51.5) 3:5.6 1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments
.
(51.6) 3:5.7 2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

(51.7) 3:5.8 3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

(51.8) 3:5.9 4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

(51.9) 3:5.10 5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

(51.10) 3:5.11 6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

(51.11) 3:5.12 7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valor of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

(51.12) 3:5.13 8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamoring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

(51.13) 3:5.14 9. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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06-29-2011, 04:58 PM
Post: #7
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 01:10 PM)digipixel Wrote:  
(06-29-2011 12:27 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  Why do you think the question "how do you know suffering is bad?" goes unanswered?

Answering that question, either way, proves nothing.

Is it me or do the two things have nothing to do with each other? We know suffering is bad because god loves us? Is that it or am I totally missing the point here?

1. I know suffering is bad because I don't like suffering. Why? It does not make me feel good. In fact, it makes me feel bad.

2. If I had the ability to prevent someone I love from suffering, I would. God on the other hand can help a person suffering but chooses not to even though he loves the person suffering. Therefore, do humans and god have a different definition for love?

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence - Me
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06-29-2011, 05:30 PM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2011 06:03 PM by WhiteNova.)
Post: #8
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 04:00 PM)For the love of god Wrote:  Interesting subject.

There are cases where I consider suffering useful, when it leads in the long run to a happier and more balanced life. To solve the pain of childhood issues, you may need to go through them to a degree.

Would you prefer intense shorttime suffering to medium intensity long time suffering?

Also some ways of suffering are healthy in my opinion like mourning for someone you loved or felt attached to. I prefer the suffering of mourning loss to a chemically induced numbness. I would prefer this for the people I love also.

I am not of the standpoint that suffering is always good ('if it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger'), but a degree of suffering can build character and make a person more humane.

You have the maturity to realize that ours is a space-time bound perspective. I agree that from our space-time bound perspective, suffering is not always good, but the possibility of suffering is nevertheless necessary and good. Atheists generally do not have that maturity. Flipper missed the point entirely, suggesting that God is the "mechanism by which suffering can be viewed as a means and therefore a virtue or to be desired." I don't get the "ergo, suffering is bad." I think maybe the word "not" was omitted.

We all know “life is suffering.” It’s not exactly a new idea. But in some circles it is believed to be the strongest case against theism that can be mustered. By presenting suffering as a problem for theism, atheists inadvertently demonstrate the narrowness, immaturity and basic selfishness of their mode of thought.

Would the manifestation of God’s love to the many be possible without a vacuum, so to speak? Can the unity of God’s oneness be manifested without two-ness? Can there be a yang without a yin? An up without a down? “Pleasantness” without “unpleasantness”? Or progressive evolution without a motivator? Can life be experienced as a positive without the possibility of suffering?

Human love is fragmented. It is from the point of view of smallness in the midst of many. Divine love is all-embracing and does not see the many. Because divine love is not fragmented, because it is universal and absolute, its manifestation may appear uncaring or even cruel to the fearful and small-minded.

Even less do I understand this criticism: "Courage is actually the means that man has evolved in order to grapple with the hardships inherent in an indifferent universe." Well, duh. The plan worked.

Little wonder, then, that there seems to be an aversion to answering the question, "How do you know suffering is bad?"

"By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never." (author unknown)
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06-29-2011, 06:10 PM
Post: #9
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 05:30 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  By presenting suffering as a problem for theism, atheists inadvertently demonstrate the narrowness, immaturity and basic selfishness of their mode of thought.

Now WhiteNova, if you are going to use your opinion that atheists are just immature, selfish and intellectually incapable of comprehend things correctly (ie the way that you do) to dismiss any argument, then any discussion with you is going to be pointless. It's been a standard line from you, atheist as essentially too stupid, ignorant or stubborn to understand the true nature of things whereas you have the unique ability to understand everything perfectly and completely.

Quote:Flipper missed the point entirely, suggesting that God is the "mechanism by which suffering can be viewed as a means and therefore a virtue or to be desired." I don't get the "ergo, suffering is bad." I think maybe the word "not" was omitted.

I think it is you that completely missed or deliberately ignored my point because I did actually respond to your question, you just chose to ignore my response because it doesn't sit well with you.

Quote:Even less do I understand this criticism: "Courage is actually the means that man has evolved in order to grapple with the hardships inherent in an indifferent universe." Well, duh.


And you accuse atheists of being none too bright and immature. Let me break it down for you if it is too hard for you to comprehend.

You quoted:

Quote:Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments

This quote implies that if courage is a desirable trait (in itself an end) then man must be given the opportunity to develop courage by placing obstacles and hardships in his path. My point is that the obstacles and hardships are inherent and therefore courage is needed to overcome these obstacles and hardships, not the reverse where it is implied that courage is desirable in the eyes of your Supreme Being and therefore by overcoming the hardships the person's worth is demonstrated and they are rewarded.

The same applies to suffering. It is implied by your question the suffering is not a bad thing because it gives man the opportunity to demonstrate to your chosen deity that they are worthy of notice and reward. Therefore by embracing suffering, or in some cases actively seeking suffering, man is given to opportunity to prove worthiness.

My point is that without the assumption that overcoming hardship proves worth to a deity, then suffering is to be avoided. Overcoming suffering and hardship indeed build characteristics that are seen as desirable, the difference is those that overcome hardship and suffering that are inherent in life are virtuous, those that deliberately seek hardship and suffering in order to demonstrate their virtue are poseurs and are to be despised.

Is that clear enough for you WhiteNova? If it isn't then I truly despair for your cognitive abilities. Or perhaps it is you that is too stubborn to look outside of what you believe to be true.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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06-29-2011, 07:12 PM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2011 07:28 PM by WhiteNova.)
Post: #10
RE: God's Love
(06-29-2011 06:10 PM)Flipper Wrote:  
(06-29-2011 05:30 PM)WhiteNova Wrote:  By presenting suffering as a problem for theism, atheists inadvertently demonstrate the narrowness, immaturity and basic selfishness of their mode of thought.

Now WhiteNova, if you are going to use your opinion that atheists are just immature, selfish and intellectually incapable of comprehend things correctly (ie the way that you do) to dismiss any argument, then any discussion with you is going to be pointless. It's been a standard line from you, atheist as essentially too stupid, ignorant or stubborn to understand the true nature of things whereas you have the unique ability to understand everything perfectly and completely.

Quote:Flipper missed the point entirely, suggesting that God is the "mechanism by which suffering can be viewed as a means and therefore a virtue or to be desired." I don't get the "ergo, suffering is bad." I think maybe the word "not" was omitted.

I think it is you that completely missed or deliberately ignored my point because I did actually respond to your question, you just chose to ignore my response because it doesn't sit well with you.

Quote:Even less do I understand this criticism: "Courage is actually the means that man has evolved in order to grapple with the hardships inherent in an indifferent universe." Well, duh.


And you accuse atheists of being none too bright and immature. Let me break it down for you if it is too hard for you to comprehend.

You quoted:

Quote:Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments

This quote implies that if courage is a desirable trait (in itself an end) then man must be given the opportunity to develop courage by placing obstacles and hardships in his path. My point is that the obstacles and hardships are inherent and therefore courage is needed to overcome these obstacles and hardships, not the reverse where it is implied that courage is desirable in the eyes of your Supreme Being and therefore by overcoming the hardships the person's worth is demonstrated and they are rewarded.

The same applies to suffering. It is implied by your question the suffering is not a bad thing because it gives man the opportunity to demonstrate to your chosen deity that they are worthy of notice and reward. Therefore by embracing suffering, or in some cases actively seeking suffering, man is given to opportunity to prove worthiness.

My point is that without the assumption that overcoming hardship proves worth to a deity, then suffering is to be avoided. Overcoming suffering and hardship indeed build characteristics that are seen as desirable, the difference is those that overcome hardship and suffering that are inherent in life are virtuous, those that deliberately seek hardship and suffering in order to demonstrate their virtue are poseurs and are to be despised.

Is that clear enough for you WhiteNova? If it isn't then I truly despair for your cognitive abilities. Or perhaps it is you that is too stubborn to look outside of what you believe to be true.
What is clear is that you don't want to answer the question and that you don't want to acknowledge that the so-called 'problem of evil' isn't a problem.

And to suggest that what I am saying is an excuse to "deliberately seek hardship and suffering in order to demonstrate their virtue" is just stupid.

BTW, I edited the, "Well, duh." I added "The plan worked." Seems to me you acknowledge that much, but then and try to make it a problem.

"By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never." (author unknown)
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