"When Our Vices Get the Better of Us"

This article weakens the claims regarding Gods Justice, Mercy, freewill and Human Accountability.

As humans, we have limited resources to control ourselves, researchers say; all acts of control draw from one source. So when using this resource in one domain, such as dieting, we’re more likely to run out of it in another domain, like studying hard.


www.world-science.net
Inzlicht and Gutsell asked participants to suppress their emotions while watching an upsetting movie. The idea was to deplete their resources for selfcontrol. The participants reported their ability to suppress their feelings on a scale from one to nine. Then, they completed a Stroop task, which involves naming the color of printed words (i.e. saying red when reading the word “green” written in red), yet another task that requires selfcontrol.

The researchers found that those who suppressed their emotions performed worse on the task, indicating that they had used up their selfcontrol resources while holding back their tears during the film.

An electroencephalogram (EEG), a recording of electrical activity in the brain, confirmed the results, they said. Normally, when a person deviates from their goals (in this case, wanting to read the word, not the color of the font), increased activity occurs in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, which alerts the person that they are offtrack. The researchers found weaker activity in this brain region during the Stroop task in those who had suppressed their feelings. In other words, after engaging in one act of selfcontrol this brain system seems to fail during the next act, they said.


If we are expected to make moral decisions and are going to be held eternally accountable for them, we have a poor mechanism to do it with. Our brains design is such that it is more likely in any given situation that we will make an error in judgment.

56 comments:

SadEvilTan said...

This is quite an interesting argument you've raised here, in particular the aspect of 'Loss of concentration'. In my practical experience, if your brain is not functioning the way it should & you're unable to focus properly, it's inevitable that a lapse is more than likely to occur, an example is as follows: I'm convinced that such & such a horse is going to win the race, regardless of all the 'Studying & time spent on it' arrive at a confident selection; am convinced that's the winner, but for some inexplicable reason 'Didn't back it', subsequently it goes on to win & i'm left to drown my sorrows! This is an often recurrent theme, don't think it's just gambling that's effected, i believe that this type of 'Mental condition' is due to your 'Childhood experiences' & the 'Environment' in which you were brought up!

cipher said...

Interesting article about recent research into connection between fundamentalism and brain physiology:

http://www.tikkun.org/magazine/tik0709/frontpage/neuroscience

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Off topic: this goes for the whole blog.

I just wrote a post passing on the Thinking Blogger Award to you. It comes with a meme; you are supposed to pass it on to 5 other bloggers

Lee Randolph said...

Hi sadeviltan,
I'm not sure I follow you, but I will point out (in a nutshell) that the molecules in alcohol, nicotine, cocaine are similar to the molecules that are released due to stimulation that is pleasurable and it causes people to want more, and the more it happens, the less effective it is, and the desire to get the effect gets stronger. It is a positive feedback loop that is completely built in. People are able to control it and break the cycle in varying degrees, some better than others. The brain physically changes to support this and the memories that are created while this is going are used later as triggers to start the desire again.

this is the process of addiction.

WoundedEgo said...

Ah, the old Stroop Task defence:

"Your honor, I realize I ran that red light, but I was busy supressing my emotions!"

I actually think that our incredible consciences and guilt argue for accountability better than this faculty test, because they actually seem to be less easily thrown off.

Bill Ross
http://blogspot.bibleshockers.com

metaphyzxx said...

Trying to figure out how this weakens the argument, considering that it is in direct support of scripture...

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

"Inzlicht and utsell asked participants to suppress their emotions..." I cannot find anywhere in scripture where God asks us to repress, or suppress our emotions - I believe He invited us to bring our hard feelings to Him for healing "eat my body, drink my blood". I use self control wisely when I choose to vent my hard feelings with God rather than with vulnerable people.
Thanks!

Shygetz said...

I cannot find anywhere in scripture where God asks us to repress, or suppress our emotions - I believe He invited us to bring our hard feelings to Him for healing "eat my body, drink my blood".

I cannot find anywhere in scripture where God invites us to bring our hard feelings to Him for healing.

WoundedEgo said...

>>>Trying to figure out how this weakens the argument, considering that it is in direct support of scripture...

metaphyzxx, My comment was to say that the Stroop Task argument was weak, at best, in my thinking. I don't expect people to abandoning religion in droves on this point, since the conscience is such a powerful argument for accountability.

Please note that I am neither religious nor an atheist. I am an agnostic in that I believe that some things are, at least for the moment, beyond the scope of what we can know, and revealed religions all fall short on the credibility test.

This means that I don't take sides. I go with the evidence and the better argument. In this case, I must agree with those who argue FOR accountability, while I do not agree with those who think this evidence is sufficient to tip the scales away from accountability.

To be honest, I think that the high fives that this blog received are more an indication of group think than anything else. We are, in my view, astoundingly fit for moval evaluation because we DO have - built in - three most powerful tools for keeping abreast of how we are doing morally:

* a conscience
* guilt
* memory

My own objections to Christianity are in my book:

http://bibleshockers.com

Bill Ross aka WoundedEgo.com

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy, I believe Jesus meant for us to bring our hard feelings to Him when He said to eat His body and drink His blood. We can't harm Him when we do that but we do great harm to one another when we act out our anger on each other. Sometimes the gospel message gets infected and corrupted by pride to give God the appearance of being digusted and offended by our infections of pride, lust, wrath, etc. etc. Some religion is the same way as depicting an ill patient going to a doctor who gets offended by the patients woundedness and kicks the patient out of his office telling him to get healed before he comes back. That image is an idol and caused me to not believe Jesus's words "I did not come to condemn". Take care!

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy, just another note - many who heard Jesus were offended by His words - that's because they were indoctrinated into believing they had to give the appearance of being good to approach God. But Jesus is trying to upset the status quo of that habit and encourage us to love the truth and be authentic and genuine with Him -faith begins as a very small and immature seed that expresses hurt much as a little child would, but eventually grows to love even those who mistreat us). Unless we have the security of knowing we are fully loved when we are immature and difficult to love, we don't always proceed towards maturity and loving even those who mistreat us. Thanks! take care!

Shygetz said...

Shy, I believe Jesus meant for us to bring our hard feelings to Him when He said to eat His body and drink His blood.

I thought the whole eat and drink thing was to emphasize Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, sealing us in the new covenant. Now I'm supposed to think of it as an invitation to put my hard feelings on him because "We can't harm Him" (even though the crucifixtion seems to indicate that we CAN harm Him)?

So when will the Gospel According to MMM be canonized?

Seriously, you guys just make this stuff up whole-cloth, then back-fit it to whatever verses you happen to dig up. Has Christian theology wholly surrendered to postmodernism?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shy, thanks for your response - I don't think those who crucified Jesus took their hard feelings to Him - they took them out on Him (consistant with what I was saying). And, as a believer, I believe He did suffer (I am learning, thanks to you, to articulate better) but was resurrected, so in fact, while He can empathize with my suffering, He showed me that I have something of worth to exchange for my temptation to get involved in revenge/mistreating others. Thanks once again - BTW, I really like your name, Shygetz - how did you come by it??

Brother Crow said...

Shy, actually, I think postmodernism ran over christian theology, reversed, did it again, and left it as road kill. But then again, CT was already a puppy limping on the side of the road at that point. Redaction criticism had already skinned it and left it whining by then.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Brother Crow, while it is true that dogs do not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (too involved in biting the hand that is trying to feed them and expressing their aggression on the weaker members of the pack - certainly not habits they'll be able to practice in heaven!), a roadside stray certainly does invoke compassion and can be healed into a healthy pet. So while Christion theology may be ailing, it isn't beyond the scope of redemption. Afterall, Jesus did forgive those who hated Him so who am I to condemn?

Shygetz said...

MMM, "shygetz" (or "shegetz) is a Yiddish derogatory term for a non-Jewish male (the male form of "shiksa"). As a Gentile who deflowered and married a Jewish girl with Orthodox grandparents (she's not Orthodox; she's actually deist), I grew familiar with this term. I was asked many times why I couldn't just convert to Judaism (and the answer "I don't believe it" wasn't sufficient; apparently that is beside the point). I was told that our relationship would never work because God was against us for breaking His law, and that our children would be horribly scarred emotionally because we wouldn't have a single religious tradition to raise them in.

Twelve years (eight of them married) and two wonderful kids later, and my marriage is still going strong, and my kids are happy and well-adjusted.

I use it as a screen name to remind me about the power and will that religion has to divide people who would otherwise love each other, and the fact that in the end, peoples' love for one another can overcome the dividing power of religion, and YHWH that was supposed to curse me and my offspring for breaking His law and defiling one of His people proved impotent or indifferent.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

That is quite a story, Shy! Thanks for telling it. I'm glad to hear that you and your wife overcame that unfriendly reception by the relatives - shees! I'm glad you weren't a believer of their words! Take care!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
Wandering Weeta, thanks for the kudo's. We appreciate it!

Thanks shygetz for the story about your name, I always wondered too. And brother crow, your explanation of CT was awesome.

now, on to bizness,

man oh man, what a great display of faulty reasoning for me to play with.

The comments are a mixture of inappropriate heuristics (ignoring qualifiers), straw men, and not realizing how the effect of one argument affects the premises of another argument in a complex argument (christianity being a complex argument where multiple interdependencies) and poisoning the well.

The fact that Christianity is a complex argument prevents many people from seeing how one conclusion in one area affects the conclusion in another.

but anyway, lets get started,

first is sadeviltan, I am not sure what his point was but I got the feeling he was using the tried and true debate tactic of minimization. I quickly pointed out that his analogy was drawing on the addiction analogy and 'rebutted' it by showing that addiction was an evolved physiological algorithm that makes up the fabric of our decision making architecture. A sort of sabotage.

then we have woundedego using the minimization tactic but with a faulty analogy leading to a straw man argument because, as usual, he can't tell the difference between a non-tri-omni law system and a tri-omni god. His analogy fails because he is comparing running a red light to making moral decisions under judgement of a being that knows your heart. I'd like to point out that our decision to do things happens before we are conscious of it. maybe one day I'll dig up the research again that shows the fmri. Of course people should be held accountable for their actions when they do harm if for no other reason than to prevent them from harming again. Duh.

The we have metaphyzxx brining up the argument I anticipated. Kudos metaphyzxx, you are better than some of your peers of whom sometimes I have to tell them what the weakness in my argument is to keep it interesting. Yes scripture does say we need god to overcome our nature. But that would be true if we weren't sabotaged to be more likely to make bad decisions would it not? And if we were truly able to consistently make the right choice with no handicaps, wouldn't we logically come to the conclusion that we should love god and god is truth? I think yes, in the case that god exists. For us to be sabotaged in this way limits our freewill, shows that god is not just, is not merciful and we can't be held completely accountable for our actions. Instead our punishment should be mitigated to fit, and the lack of a principle of nurturing remediation instead of the dichotomy of 'heaven/hell' (of which I know is not the position of the entire scope of christianity, enigmatically) is flawed. To say that is the domain of the holy spirit needs some empirical support as I can vomit up my holy spirit series for you to read if you'd like me rebut that.

It also affects the problem of evil argument in that the problem of evil as a test can be shown to physically harm us at the molecular level and cause mood disorders that I don't see any preachers equipped to handle. Then I have the Christian preacher I know that shot himself in the head because he was beat down by the "problem of evil", and I have the christian woman that was central to my life that shot herself in the head because she was beat down by the "problem of evil" and If you remember there was a christian woman almost a year ago that killed her preacher husband with a shotgun. I suspect she was beat down by the "problem of evil" as well.

To say we should depend on god to overcome our nature is a flawed principle that even the preacher will not defend when it gets to be crunch time.

and to address wounded egos assertion that having a built in conscience, guilt and memory justify being held accountable, yes, but to the degree that the punishment fits the crime. OBVIOUSLY.

the we have mmm defending the practice of cannibalism and human sacrifice, and extreme suffering to learn moral lessons. Yes I know that there are special circumstances that make it appropriate, but this is special pleading, and I have a hard time "swallowing" the idea that a god would use a principle of cannibalism as a means of displaying devotion. That he would use Human Sacrifice as means to forgive us, and that abuse in the form of apparent needless suffering is appropriate to instill moral lesons in us. I think if jesus really were a god he would have come up with something else less able to be shown obviously to be flawed principles.

And wounded ego, you topped the comments off with the cherry by trying to poison the well with the unsupported charge of "group think".

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Lee - I don't know if you've noticed before, but periodically in scripture, our mistreatment of one another is referred to as "biting and devouring". People do get offended by the inference of cannibalism, but spiritually, mentally and physically (many people abandoned Jesus at that point), we mistreat one another in a Way that Jesus did not ordain and yes, I am certain, must appear as cannibalism to Him. (Recently, there were two articles detailing how little children were bitten physically and abusively by adult caretakers so it is not beyond myth that people are capable of demonstrating their depravity on a very literal level of this).

Does He punish us for this or does He offer salvation?? Jesus is not infected with pride as we are, so when He speaks of these things, it is for the purpose of bringing light so we can realize the difference of what we have been doing and see the alternative that is being offered to us. He's not out to punish, humiliate or put us down if we should see and become contrite.

I know that Jesus once spoke to the religious leaders saying "Bring my enemies to me and kill them before me!" (not a direct quote here). Now the thing about this is that while He spoke those words, His actions were just the opposite - He did not resist those who came to crucify Him and He forgave those that rejected Him. Is Jesus a liar or was He prophetically describing the way people treat God and others as enemies? I am a believer so the answer for me is yes, He speaks prophetically of the way we can mistreat one another. Prophetically, He demonstrates God's Way and also speaks of our Way. He tells us there is a difference.

So, by Jesus's standard, the way we mistreat one another with mockery and judgement and condemnation is very much like cannibalism. Instead of taking and practicing offense, there is healing (not guilt) available for cooperating in that. Instead of solely confessing our wrongs, we also can confess our hard and hurt feelings as well.

At any rate, it is not uncommon to misunderstand many things, religious or secular, but how we deal with our feelings and how we treat one another often entails power struggles, sometimes subtle and sometimes overt and violent. I am learning, that amidst those who truly do travel with the spirit and honor and acknowledge a higher loving God as authority, there is a dramatic absence of power struggles, poisoning the wells and ad hominem arguments.

I've noticed when speaking to some who are engaged in institutionalized religion, that it seems as though they are taught to practice taking offense. In fact, Jesus demonstrated the opposite and people who were weary of the world and thirsty for righteousness did not take offense at Him telling them the truth. They knew that He was simply acknowledging the lifestyles that they had been cooperating with and they wanted out.

The best to you, Lee.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Postscript: I wanted to add one more comment Lee and this is really a common misunderstanding and one that I do as well -

I don't know if you're aware of this, but you said that "we have mmm defending the practice of cannibalism". I used to read motive into a lot of the things that I heard and saw - in fact, I did not defend a practice of cannibalism but mentioned that Jesus acknowledged it as something we get infected with. It is an acknowledgement, not a defense. I used to see things the same way so it's okay - I'm not offended :-) Take care!

richdurrant said...

OK Lee,
First, thanks for the nice words in the other post, My grandma always used to say I was a likable fellow.

In this stroop test, did these same subjects get to take that test prior to suppressing their emotions for a base line? Curiosity because I did one of those, you know they float around the positive email loop, and I didn't do so well either, but maybe I was just finished trying to suppress my emotions and I don't remember.

Lee Randolph said...

ahhhhh,
hi rich! Glad to see you.
my worthy opponent ;-)
I'm feeling a little like ricardo montalban in "star trek: the wrath of khan".
gotta go, but I'm glad you showed up.

richdurrant said...

khan, that's my favorite movie, star trek that is. I would be a little more like a short chubby Picard though, and I never overact;)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
I look for signs of bogus research in these article, there are some, like this one that set off my BS alarm. But the more I read it the more it convinced me it was not obviously BS.

With that said, we don't know how the protocol was handled. But it does correlate with my personal experiences, especially where people under stress are doing things they wouldn't normally do.

reference my two suicide stories above.

SadEvilTan said...

Thanks Lee Randolph, i quite agree wholeheartedly with what you've said as regards to my 'Comment', may i just add that the well known saying: "When a pleasure becomes a habit it ceases to remain a pleasure", & in my view that holds true, whatever the activity, pastime, pleasure; call it what you will, perhaps that's why these 'Sporting fanatics' are just 'Mad' in my opinion!....
PS. Perhaps should have worded my original comment to this post to that effect!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi MMM,

First off I want to apologize for my tone in my comments, I am afraid I came off like a jerk. Not to say that I’m not a jerk, but I don’t want to treat our readers disparagingly, and in the future I’ll watch that.

Anyway…

In the interest of maintaining ‘the principle of charity’ in a discussion I have made an attempt to paraphrase your argument in italics and address it accordingly.

Sometimes scripture says the way we mistreat each other is “biting and devouring”.
People get offended by the inference of cannibalism, but you think it appears as cannibalism to Jesus.


I take this be your interpretation of your personal Jesus. I have never heard this before and in fact think you are equivocating the meaning of cannibalism leading to an exaggeration. Treating each other badly is very different than killing them and eating them. In fact, if we assume that I was condescending in my previous comments, it would seem that using your principle, I would appear as terrible as Jeffrey Dahmer to Jesus, which would seem grossly unwarranted.

two articles discussed adult caretakers biting children and this shows that people are capable of behavior that equates to cannibalism.

This is not doubt a little data point to support your assertion that we effectively are cannibilizing each other which is an exaggeration and equivocation.

Jesus offers salvation from this. He’s not out to punish us if we repent.

But his way punishes his ‘enemies’ none the less. In a best case they wind up separated for eternity in a wost case suffer in fire forever.

Jesus said one thing and did another. He did it as a means to prophecy for himself and for us. He tells us there is a difference between his way our way.
From your perspective, the way we treat each other is perceived by Jesus to be like cannibalism. There is a reward for not doing that and its good for us to confess our wrongs and feelings as well.


So if he doesn't like cannibilism, and see us effectively cannibilizing each other, how does it follow that he would use it as a symbol of 'rememberence of him'? As a poetic irony? I think it is more along the lines of the old pagan fertility festivals where they would drink ale and eat bread in honor of the God Dionysus, here is a link to some info on that

Other Christians seem to be taught to take offense. Christians that listened to him were not offended but took his way out.

we treat each other bad, but those that REALLY follow jesus don’t do it. This seems to be more of that 'other christian' finger pointing.

I did not defend a practice of cannibalism but mentioned that Jesus acknowledged it as something we get infected with. It is an acknowledgement, not a defense.
Then you too think it was silly to use cannibilism as a symbol to worship god with?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Lee - thank you for the apology - of course, I forgive you and I really appreciate your kindness. Thanks for your thoughtfulness and charity!

I do not think it is silly to use a demonstration that helps to articulate the truth of our spiritual neediness. In communion, I am reminded of both my neediness and His grace in offering salvation - His response of salvation to my sin is what causes me to love Him and trust Him.

I'm not ashamed to say that I needed to be enlightened to some of my practices in the past and how destructive they were. I used to feel justified by the way I would relate to others, but I am grateful that I am being delivered.

At any rate, thanks once again - MMM

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

I'm back, Lee - I failed to address some of the points in your rebuttal - my apologies.

You said in regard to the cannibalim issue, "treating each other badly is different than killing them and eating them". I believe God holds a different view - Jesus equated hatred with murder - I believe God desires us to place more value on our spiritual life than our physical life - that is His priority and is reflected in scripture. By faith, I have come to concur with Him.

I believe that when those in authority act with arrogance and abuse power, their influence can be so demoralizing and despiriting towards those they deem inferior. Without intervention, this can potentially leading to a whole crop of marginalized and troubled population.

About "other Christian" finger pointing - I don't think you could possibly know this, but I rarely if ever use the term Christian (or Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon, etc. etc.)..... I've known people who practice under all sorts of different banners whose institution regularly condones and practices taking offense at all number of things. By grace, there is allowance for that, but it ought not be justified or practiced as a way of gaining a sense of superiority over others. It should be claimed as a human weakness.

Another thing about finger pointing at other Christians - yes, I have done that before and it felt as though I was gaining a sense of justice but in the end I simply remained unhealed and still involved in mistreating others. I have since been convinced of the vanity involved in that and retired. I have grown to respect that God loves all and his grace does allow for a variety of interpretations and misunderstandings about Him.

I've been hurt by fellow believers and also secular humanists and atheists. Yet I do not have to remain and suffer as a victim when the source of healing is at hand, so I continue to extend the grace that I have grown to trust.

The best to you, MMM

richdurrant said...

OK, I have to keep looking at the article to make sure what it's about.
I agree that stress is hinders our ability to make good choices. However, I think this is something we have done to ourselves. We have made things so much easier to do that we pack more things into our day, adding to stress, sleep less, which I believe adds greatly to stress and lowers our ability to control ourselves. So knowing that this is a problem for us, what do we do about it? We ignore it and drink more coffee, take more pills, don't change our sleep habits, basically a big spiral downward. So at what point do we claim responsibility for our poor decisions? If you know that less sleep adds to your high stress and you do nothing about it, were does the blame go? What I'm saying is that in general if we are lowering our ability to make good choices by previous choices made, I don't see that weakening free will because we made the original choice in the chain of reactions.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi mmm, and rich,
I can't reply the way I want to right for time restrictions but I will by tomorrow.

But i will say that the first time I went back to church as an adult and decided to accept my obligation to worship, I was repulsed by communion and it took me a long time to finally accept it and do it.

Eating the flesh and drinking the Blood? Come on. wake up. In no other circumstances that I can think of would this type of ritual be regarded as acceptable.

Lee Randolph said...

HI rich,
you elaborated, but didn't address the underlying problem. That we are sabotaged to prefer to do the wrong thing, to make bad decisions, to increase our own suffering for our own innate inablility to reason properly.

Ironically wisdom is love and fear of god. But I am attempting to show a whole slew of principles that don't work in reality yet are supposedly divinely inspired.

Suffering to gain righteousness is one of them. The whole medical profession, and Government was established, among other reasons, to ease suffering, but if we follow the principles in the bible, we logically are impeding gods will by trying to better ourselves and minimize suffering. Isn't that silly to say that we are going against gods will by trying to reduce suffering?
sorry, I'll probably address that in a different article. I just wanted to get it out of my system.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Okay, my bad here - I am woefully unable to communicate faithfulness in writing.

I guess Jesus did say that the best evidence of His existance is in how believers love one another which routinely includes forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation when we trespass against one another).

At any rate, I wasn't fully able to understand either until the veil of indictment was lifted from my perspective.

The best to you Lee, I enjoy your thoughtfulness in commenting here. MMM

Bryan Riley said...

Seems like evidence of the fallen nature.

Shygetz said...

Seems like evidence of the fallen nature.

And if we were all goodness and light, it would be evidence of God's hand in our creation. If a man is healed it's evidence of God's divine mercy, and if he is not healed it's evidence of God's divine wisdom. If a man is saved it's evidence of God's divine grace, and if he is damned it's evidence of God's divine judgement.

What possible thing would NOT be evidence for your religion, bryan?

Bryan Riley said...

I can't think of anything because I believe it, although I wouldn't call it my religion. It seems that all of creation speaks of its Creator. It's called faith, and it's fairly simple.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
simply believing on faith can lead you anywhere, to anything, into gullibility. Where do you draw the line? Where do you differentiate your beliefs with any other Hindu, buddhist, muslim or jew?

The line can be drawn with evidence.

I'm sure you have evidences for your faith, but are you sure they are unique to your faith or are they the same evidences the other religions point to?

How do you decide between them? I'll bet you decide based on the factors in your environment such as your parents, your friends, your community and your country.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
one other thing I want to point out. If these are evidence of the fall, then it would infer that they didn't exist prior.

When did the fall occur, can you point to a period in time when it may have happened? Any idea when and where Adam and Eve popped up? The bible describes Iraq as the place based on the rivers it mentions. That would mean sometime after we came out of africa in evolutionary terms. Got any data on this?

Bryan Riley said...

I'm not anti-intellectual, Lee and Shygetz, but I was trying to get past all of the details to the ultimate point - the one that involves faith. Of course circumstances usher us beyond blind faith to something more. But one of the biggest problems facing every human is that our ability to see clearly is limited (in all realms, whether involving spirituality issues or otherwise) and we often have to make a step of faith.

This happens every day in courts of law. Decisions are made based on evidence, sometimes all of it circumstantial. As a result, there are many times when it appears that something has been proved true beyond a reasonable doubt. However, with more clear scientific evidence today than even 20 years ago we have now to release innocent men and women. Or, and I know there is disagreement on this, but many believe OJ Simpson was guilty. He was found not guilty.

Ultimately, the jury's finding in cases doesn't make it Truth. It is a probability. One must place faith in the legal system. One must place faith in a god.

I think we all worship a god one way or the other. Shygetz asks me what wouldn't be evidnece of my religion (i don't have a religion in my opinion, but using his terms), I could ask him the same. How does he explain each of those things (Yes, I'm really asking Shygetz, not rhetorically)?

As for Adam and Eve, Lee, I can be "agnostic" and it not change Who God Is. Were they real individuals? Was there six literal days? Etc. ad nauseum. How God reveals Himself and what HE says about humanity in those three chapters of the bible is much more interesting than debating the literal versus the allegorical.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
a couple of things.
The analogy to the law system breaks because we all are not 'tri-omni'. God being 'tri-omni' should be held to a higher standard, as I understand he demands.

The principle that god 'hides' is silly. He should be an undeniable part of our existence to give us the honest chance of deciding to follow or not. To enable a clear choice between religions. If he did that, there wouldn't be any other religions would there? An he would lose a lot less souls, which should ultimately trouble him less shouldn't it?

You brought up evidence of the fall not me. I say we have always been this way, and since that is true, if there is god, he handicapped us from the start and sabotaged us to be more likely to make bad decisions and get hooked into addictions. If you say that is why we need god, then you need to go to some AA meetings and sit in there long enough to see someone fall out with yellow skin, then ask yourself, did this guy have an honest chance to avoid this? Ask yourself, if god works in their lives, then why do they need the meetings to stay sober? Why can't they just stay sober and go to church? They can't because they have an addiction, whether physical or psychological, their brain needs to be 'rewired' with drugs and or talk therapy and God can't handle it.

ask yourself why people are wracked with grief and despair through depression and commit suicide. Depression is more prevalent than heart disease or diabetes. Why is the incident of depression disproportional? Some people don't get it, or only get it lightly. Christians get depressed and have to take medicine just like everyone else. God doesn't help them get over it. Thats not evidence of a fall, thats evidence of a poor design. Evidence of trial and error over time.

Bryan Riley said...

Lee, you are presuming a lot upon me, perhaps based on many discussions with many others. I will ask some questions because your comments raise many in my finite mind.

1. Where did I argue God hides?
2. Does the fact that we have limited knowledge and limited vision mean God hides? He is the omni-, not us.
3. If we are poorly designed, who or what is the designer?
4. Does the fact Christians or any humans struggle with their flesh really indicate a negative conclusion about their Designer, assuming there is one?

Finally, the legal analogy isn't an analogy to God. It is an analogy to faith. We place faith in our legal system and in its conclusions even though we don't know everything. Sometimes more evidence comes out and proves it wrong; sometimes it proves it more likely to be true. I have faith in God. I do not believe anyone will ever be able to prove conclusively that God doesn't exist. I also don't think I can prove conclusively that He does, but I place my faith in Him nonetheless.

Shygetz said...

I think we all worship a god one way or the other.

And how do you justify this belief? I do not worship a god. I do not believe gods exist. I would need to be presented evidence that a god existed, and also evidence that this god was worth worshipping in order to get me to worship.

Shygetz asks me what wouldn't be evidnece of my religion (i don't have a religion in my opinion, but using his terms), I could ask him the same. How does he explain each of those things (Yes, I'm really asking Shygetz, not rhetorically)?

How do I explain each of what things? You need to be specific so I can answer your question.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
ok, maybe I was a little hasty, maybe not.

1. Where did I argue God hides?
2. Does the fact that we have limited knowledge and limited vision mean God hides? He is the omni-, not us.
3. If we are poorly designed, who or what is the designer?
4. Does the fact Christians or any humans struggle with their flesh really indicate a negative conclusion about their Designer, assuming there is one?

1. Doesn't the need for faith, come from the fact that there isn't enough compelling evidence to prove gods existence? god could deliver the proof if he wanted to, couldn't he? Doesn't that a support a presumption that he is 'hiding'?
2. Yes it means he's hiding. If we look and don't find it, then it is not obvious. It has the intelligence to know we are looking and could show itself.
3. we aren't designed we happend this way from trial and error in biology and the most successful schemes had offspring.
4. yes. On the grounds that I listed in my previous comments. It is needless suffering. We aren't talking about a skin rash, we are talking about things like childrens growth being stunted due to stress of living in an abusive household. Talk about adding insult to injury, and on kids to boot!

Finally, the legal analogy isn't an analogy to God. It is an analogy to faith.

I understood that and cut to the hidden premise, we have no other choice than to have faith in a legal system that uses defeasible reasoning, but god is tri-omni, and should not require faith. The whole faith thing is a flawed principle that doesn't work anywhere else.

You place your faith in god denying the overwhelming evidence that it is false, faulty principles and all. At least the law system admits it has problems. If that were the case with god, I could probably believe, but not honor on the ground that he was an absolute butt-head in the old testament.

Bryan Riley said...

1. Why do so many point to the OT as evidence not to believe in God when they purport not to believe in the OT in the first place?

2. Why do so many point to the OT as evidence that God is a butthead and others point to the OT as evidence that God is a God of love and mercy?

Bryan Riley said...

1. If God if Who He says He is and He delivered the evidence so clearly that we couldn't deny it, then wouldn't He be forcing us to choose Him?

2. Isn't the premise of God's revelation that it requires faith? So, why is leaving something to believe in rather than forcing an absolute seen as "bad"? Even the scientific method has a component of faith as does the legal system.

3. It sounds as though your god is science. That is where you place your faith. Ultimately, that means your god is our (humanity's) ability to understand the cosmos. Is that fair?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
this is red herring but i'll play anyway.

1. Why do so many point to the OT as evidence not to believe in God when they purport not to believe in the OT in the first place?

because the bible is supposed to be real is it not? Then if its real, why is it not internally consistent, and why is it ok for god to say he wants the babies ripped out of the mothers tummies?

2. Why do so many point to the OT as evidence that God is a butthead and others point to the OT as evidence that God is a God of love and mercy?

because they overlook the babies ripped out of mothers tummies parts?


1. If God if Who He says He is and He delivered the evidence so clearly that we couldn't deny it, then wouldn't He be forcing us to choose Him?

thanks for asking. I love it when people ask me this. No. Heres a little story. I was walking by a trash can and heard some puppies whining. I looked inside and there they were. I had help rescuing them and two got adopted and the other one is called bertha and i see her a couple of times a week. I was not compelled to save those puppies, I did it because it was the right thing to do. If god showed himself, I'd treat him just like I did those puppies and make a decision to do the right thing.

2. Isn't the premise of God's revelation that it requires faith? So, why is leaving something to believe in rather than forcing an absolute seen as "bad"? Even the scientific method has a component of faith as does the legal system.

Are you seriously trying to compare the amount of faith you have to have to believe in god to the scientific method or the legal system, both rooted in empiricism? There is no comparison, one demands faith and the other requires faith only isofar as you can't find enough evidence to be sure. And in any case, any faith that is required by the Legal system or the scientific method is supported by grounds, warrant, principle, logical inference or precedent based on any of the previous.
And why is leaving something to believe in bad? Its not if there is some data, evidence, principle, warrant, etc to base it on. If not, then it could just as well be fraud.

3. It sounds as though your god is science. That is where you place your faith. Ultimately, that means your god is our (humanity's) ability to understand the cosmos. Is that fair?

no. because you are playing with semantics. I don't have a god, I have process of coming to know things, and then when I get a warm fuzzy about them, I remember that I may be wrong and keep my eye out. Being wrong is authorized, as is changing my mind. Both are necessary to get to the truth.

Bryan Riley said...

I must be a master of red herrings, because that has been the most common response to my comments. Fish is not my favorite food, although I do wish I liked it better.

1. You do believe ripping babies out of tummies is evil. Are you anti-abortion?

2. If you are pro-choice, then it could be because you believe there are circumstances where the greater good is accomplished by pulling the baby out of the tummy. Given that, could it be that a God who knows everything (and we clearly don't as you admit in the later portions of your comment) might have a greater good in mind with regard to His requests of Israel?

3. I really don't get how your dog story illustrates your point. I will say that I believe God has revealed Himself. Some choose by faith to believe that and follow Him; others do not. Creation, if created, is a pretty good revelation of the Creator. Jesus is great revelation. Changed lives are as well.

4. As to science and legal system, yes, I am. I also am a lawyer by training. Empiricism is just the creation of man's mind. If that is all faith is, as you would believe, then what would be the difference?

5. I agree with your concluding paragraph about being wrong being authorized. I have no problem with doubt or error. They lead to a greater understanding of the Truth when we keep seeking it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bryan,
you're a lawyer eh? ;-) no jokes i promise. I do lsat prep tests for fun so I have a great respect for the law profession, when its done right! I'm honored to be debating a lawyer.

1. You do believe ripping babies out of tummies is evil. Are you anti-abortion?
what does this have to do with anything? this is getting off track.

2. If you are pro-choice, then it could be because you believe there are circumstances where the greater good is accomplished by pulling the baby out of the tummy. Given that, could it be that a God who knows everything (and we clearly don't as you admit in the later portions of your comment) might have a greater good in mind with regard to His requests of Israel?

god can do anything can he not? But he can't figure out a better way than ordering his henchmen to cut babies out of mothers tummies to create a greater good? You are putting limits on your god. That is the only way out of this. Or god didn't order it.

3. I really don't get how your dog story illustrates your point. I will say that I believe God has revealed Himself. Some choose by faith to believe that and follow Him; others do not. Creation, if created, is a pretty good revelation of the Creator. Jesus is great revelation. Changed lives are as well.

well, the opportunity presented itself. I made a choice. It was the right choice. It was made to do something completely altruistic. If jesus stepped in front of me one day, I have the choice. But this time the choice is to do the right thing and get a reward. Which is the more honorable scenario? I would not be put under duress for either one. If I chose Jesus for selfishness, he'd know and I'd be toast, If I chose Jesus because I realized how stupid I'd been, then he'd know and i'd get my wings (so to speak), just like it is now.

4. As to science and legal system, yes, I am. I also am a lawyer by training. Empiricism is just the creation of man's mind. If that is all faith is, as you would believe, then what would be the difference?

I'm not sure I get your point, but you have to grant my point in the other comment. Faith in god and 'apparent faith' in the legal system and the scientific method are not equal. Faith and empiricism, if both are creations of mans mind, follow a different process.

Gotta go. see ya much later.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Bryan:
At one point you say "It seems that all of creation speaks of its Creator."

Let's accept this, arguendo. Okay, you now -- to use a legal analogy, obviously I am not calling "Creation" a 'crime' -- have a 'coroner's inquest' verdict that a crime has been committed.
Now you have three more steps to go before you can get the verdict you want.

First, prove that the 'Creator' is 'theistic' -- interacts with his creation -- rather than 'deistic' -- sits back and merely watches what happens.

Second, prove that the 'theistic God' you are 'prosecuting' is the same as the Christian God, and not one of the hundreds of other candidates proposed for the job. (Oh, and just for the fun of it, imagine a theistic God worshipped on another planet, for whom that planet, say Mizar 7, is the focus of his attention, and not Sol 3. Any proof that this Mizarcentric God is less likely than the geocentric one you choose as your candidate.)

Okay, now prove your interpretation of him and his message is the right one, and not the thousands of others that have been put forth -- and remember there were many variants of pre-Nicean Christianity that were declared false. You sure that the Council of Nicea got it right and not the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the various Christian Gnostics, the followers of Origen, the Arians, the Monophysites?

THEN deal with the Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox -- if you can ever figure out what they mean, something so far that is beyond me -- the Calvinists, the United Methodists, the Metropolitan Community Church, and -- hi, Jason -- the Christadelphians etc, etc. all of which claim their interpretation is the right one. (Don't forget Muslims, who worship the same God, consider Jesus as a Prophet, but deny his Divinity and think Christians just got his message screwed up.)

Okay, your turn.

Shygetz said...

1. You do believe ripping babies out of tummies is evil. Are you anti-abortion?

I am staunchly anti-forced abortion.

2. If you are pro-choice, then it could be because you believe there are circumstances where the greater good is accomplished by pulling the baby out of the tummy. Given that, could it be that a God who knows everything (and we clearly don't as you admit in the later portions of your comment) might have a greater good in mind with regard to His requests of Israel?

No, I am staunchly anti-forced abortion, as is just about every pro-choice person in existence! I do not believe that a circumstance could realistically exist that would justify forcibly removing a fetus from its mother against her wishes.

I will say that I believe God has revealed Himself. Some choose by faith to believe that and follow Him; others do not. Creation, if created, is a pretty good revelation of the Creator. Jesus is great revelation. Changed lives are as well.

But is that belief justified by evidence? Do you have a good reason to believe that people who do not follow your flavor of Christianity are acting in bad faith? Do you deny that non-religious things can change lives as well? Communism was a non-religious idea that changed many lives for the worse--does that mean communism must be true? What facts about Jesus that are justified by evidence serve as revelation of a Creator?

As to science and legal system, yes, I am. I also am a lawyer by training. Empiricism is just the creation of man's mind. If that is all faith is, as you would believe, then what would be the difference?

Empiricism works, as demonstrated by the computer you are using. Try to transmit your messages to me using the Holy Spirit. I'll wait...who am I kidding. You won't even bother to try. When it comes to anything real, you rely upon empiricism because this belief is justified by observable fact. Can you say the same for your religion?

I agree with your concluding paragraph about being wrong being authorized. I have no problem with doubt or error. They lead to a greater understanding of the Truth when we keep seeking it.

Then you don't claim to know your God with any certainty? If so, how do you justify your certainty? If not, what use is your revelation in the search for truth?

Bryan Riley said...

I am sorry I have been away, and I don't have time now to answer all of the questions (I hope to do so later), I want to say that I'm not on here to pick fights or to fight. I'm here to learn and to share my own thoughts.

I will say I am certain of what I believe in, but I also know that it is certainty in something unseen and it is certainty held by an individual who is not fallible. I have no doubt about the object of my faith, only in my ability to understand perfectly that object.

I am not the Holy Spirit. If I were then God wouldnt' be God, I would be. Thus, I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your life.

As far as religion and all the different ones... well, are each of you getting on here saying that you all have the exact same views? I doubt you would. You are human and have your own views of your surroundings. Difference of interpretations and practices just shows humanity for what it is. It doesn't answer whether there is a God who exists who is unchanging. You keep attacking things that don't demonstrate the falsity of God's existence while trying to use your understanding of who God is to do so. I find that interesting.

Thank you for your patience with me as I become acquainted with a blog and a conversation that has been going on for some time without me. It needs me not, but I appreciate your welcome. I look forward to growing as a result of participating. By God's grace I will.

richdurrant said...

Hi Lee,
See what happens when I take a couple of days off! Not to get off on semantics, but what you call sabotage, I call having our own set of trials to overcome. I don't want to squabble over words so lets just say we are agreed that we have a makeup that makes us desire certain things over others. I have a couple of articles to link to studies that show how we can avoid age mental health issues that will relate to your series. I want to link to the actual studies and not the newspaper article.

OK, back to the task at hand. I'm behind a day or 2 but I'll catch up later.

"Suffering to gain righteousness is one of them. "
That depends, are you suffering as a direct result of a bad choice? If so will that be likely to help you make the better choice next time? Not counting natural disasters here.

"The whole medical profession, and Government was established, among other reasons, to ease suffering"

Excluding the medical profession, I think government missed the mark.

"but if we follow the principles in the bible, we logically are impeding gods will by trying to better ourselves and minimize suffering."

I missed those principles. The good samaritan was about increased suffering? Love thy neighbor, don't lie, steal, covet, honor parents, those do seem pretty damaging principles. I know your counter slew of examples, but where does the bible say that we are required to kill babies and rape for our salvation?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich,
welcome back.
I have a couple of articles to link to studies that show how we can avoid age mental health issues that will relate to your series. I want to link to the actual studies and not the newspaper article.

cool, but, why is it that we have to rely on scientists, most of which don't ascribe to a belief in a god, to come up with things that improve our quality of life? I would think in a world with a real god, all the scientists should believe in god because it is so obvious, and they would thank him for their success.

"Suffering to gain righteousness is one of them. "
That depends, are you suffering as a direct result of a bad choice? If so will that be likely to help you make the better choice next time? Not counting natural disasters here.

Are you saying that anytime I learn from a bad choice It is a direct result of Gods interaction or something he set up? I hope you are because that would infer that he set up the rules of logic. And the law of non-contradiction. don't get me started.
So now I'll grant that I can learn from a bad decision, but point out that it is not exclusive to morality, and therefore not a good candidate for a defense on this point. I can learn my way to the doctors office using google earth and few wrong turns. We learn with or without god. Do you know what pre-natal vitamins are used for? One of the things they are used for is to ensure the environment in the mothers womb is adequate for the normal development of the baby. Many babies are born with spina-bifida because of a lack of folic acid. This is a result of bad decisions of the mother that aren't necessarily moral, just uninformed, not available or negligent. This baby starts its life at the first nano-second suffering. The eventual addict makes bad choices sure, but what is the point of 'designing' a body that make them crave it over time? This impedes freewill that religious people need to justify gods actions in defense of more than just this. I just got challenged on my puppy analogy because jesus coming back would inhibit our freewill. Now I say designing addiction into us, sets a precedent that means that it is not unreasonable to say that jesus should appear in front of us to allow us to make the decision in person.

Excluding the medical profession, I think government missed the mark.

I know this was a 'quip', but honestly go volunteer in the sudan for a little while and I think you will appreciate the efforts of your government more.

"but if we follow the principles in the bible, we logically are impeding gods will by trying to better ourselves and minimize suffering."

Congrats, you found the easter egg. I knew that was a stinky piece of rhetoric after I wrote it but left it in anyway. I concede that point.
But honeslty, that is what this is all about isn't it? The dissonance is in having to reconcile why a god would design this situation which requires we take some action to remediate it, to the unfortunate detriment of people that are slaughtered by governments and babies born with spinabifida due to the actions of their mothers of which there really is no way to reconcile it, and children whose development is stunted as a result of the stress of living in abusive homes, etc.

The freewill of one impedes the freewill of another, disproportionately, and inequitably, and we are born with a poor mechanism to play the game with. If we lose the game we are toast, forever. I don't like the game, and I don't think it logically follows that a tri-omni god would put something together like this. I do however believe that it logically follows that it would be the result of a human perspective/viewpoint and biological trial and error. I say that the viewpoint is wrong because as i have shown whether you want to call it sabotage or not, we are not built to reason, we are built to survive by making hasty decisions that depend on something like the precautionary principle. Its better to get away from a lion than it is to take the time to figure out how to overpower it. Introduce a community of humans all working on the same problem, debating the best way, and you might have a hope. They might get some meat, like it, learn from it, and do better than the poor saps that go it alone, or can't get along etc, etc, etc,
They learn through trial and error how to reason their way into coming up with a trap. We learn to reason our way into coming up with the scientific method, we can reason our way into dealing with uncertainty without the need of a spiritual teddybear like god.

I could expand on this more but I have to go.

richdurrant said...

Here's one

I hope the link works cause I suck at the html tag thing. That's unfortunately the newspaper article but I didn't have time yet to look up the research.

"why is it that we have to rely on scientists, most of which don't ascribe to a belief in a god, to come up with things that improve our quality of life?"
I wouldn't say we have to rely on scientists but we do frequently, I don't actually have a problem with science at all, I like to learn from all sources, even heathens like yourself;) As far as this particular article goes, this is something we are frequently reminded of by our church leaders. That is keep active and set goals, of coarse spiritual goals, and always keep learning and studying. Basically keeping an active brain. No one said this would keep you from getting alzheimer's, but it is an example of following a taught principle that has a benefit to your health.

"So now I'll grant that I can learn from a bad decision, but point out that it is not exclusive to morality, and therefore not a good candidate for a defense on this point."

Actually that is what I was after, that we can learn from bad choices and it doesn't need to be exclusive to morality to be a true principle does it?

"Now I say designing addiction into us, sets a precedent that means that it is not unreasonable to say that jesus should appear in front of us to allow us to make the decision in person."

So you don't think that Jesus looking you in the eye would impede free will? 1/3 of the hosts of heaven rebelling in God's presence leaves us with 2/3 that didn't. Of those 2/3, how many now choose to not follow Christ when he's not visibly looking over their shoulder? I like sports analogies. When choosing a team I want the guy that is a self motivator, does work without me hovering over him constantly. Not the guy who pretends to be all that unless I'm not there. Then he is lazy, screwing off, as long as no one sees its OK.


"I know this was a 'quip', but honestly go volunteer in the sudan for a little while and I think you will appreciate the efforts of your government more."

I have a great appreciation for our government, even as bad as it gets we're still in good shape. I ran out of time for now but I will continue, same bat time same bat channel.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
thank you, that was nice article. I've heard about it in a podcast. One theory is that it is related to plasticity in the brain, where as the brain is tasked, in a non-overly stressful way, it uses its ability to borrow from other places and rewire itself to meet the need. If the person is sedentary, and relatively cognitivley lazy, the brain has no need to seek out new resources so there is no compensation made for the decaying portions.

get 30 min of exercise 5 times a week, eat plenty of fruits and veggies, nuts and grains, do puzzles or debate religion. It'll keep you fresh for years to come!

So you don't think that Jesus looking you in the eye would impede free will? 1/3 of the hosts of heaven rebelling in God's presence leaves us with 2/3 that didn't.

Thats not what i said, I said that you would have the choice whether he looked you in the eye or continued hiding, and in the case that you were more motivated out of self interest He would know and we would be toast anyway. I say it doesn't make a difference based on the tri-omni superpowers. But it does make a difference in the fact that doubters like me, whom were evidently predisposed with this way of thinking would have our doubts satisfied and be able to make a choice based on the limited reasoning ability we have at our disposal.

Have you considered that Atheism may be a delusion that we have no control over? Consider if, like the psychopath, the part of our brain that is needed to believe with little empirical evidence is damaged due to something like the concussion I had when I played football or an undetected stroke. Or that we have psychological damage that of which therapy is needed to overcome, like those phobia therapies that work so well.

The delusion argument is one that can go both ways, so I think it is an argument whose time has come. And I'm considering whether I can use it to show that salvation or christianity wouldn't make a difference one way or the other. Since we were given imperfect tools to use to worship with, If we don't get it here on earth while thats all we have to use, then we would be saved anyway, as you say, because it is likely that such a decision to deny god is obviously crazy. What do you think?
I like it. Everybody wins! And the inter-religion wars can come to an end.

Lee Randolph said...

HI rich,
one more brain exercise that I think is fun, is to switch hands. Eat with the other hand, drink with the other hand, write, toss a wad of paper in the air, etc with the 'other hand'. This forces the brain to compensate and build connections that support the improved use of the other hand. You never know when it may come in handy......also, puns and creativity are important as well, and keeping a sense of humor.

richdurrant said...

"Have you considered that Atheism may be a delusion that we have no control over?"

Yes I have considered atheists to be delusional pyschos;) (sorry I couldn't resist the invite) You could give the argument a shot, who knows.

I did break a finger in my right hand and had to do all those things left handed. This drove me to do things as much as possible with my left hand even after the bone healed. It comes in real handy to drive and shoot left handed in a bball game. I am still awkward for most things left handed, but I am left eye dominant so shooting is a must.