Iron Mike Tyson's Life Shows There is a Real Incompatibility With an Omniscient and a Wrathful God

That's my claim. I watched his interview on the Oprah show Monday, and while I think he'll continue to struggle with his past, I thought he was a complete jerk before watching it. He describes his life and I honestly felt for him deeply. He said that he's tired of failing and I believe him. There's a movie about his life that looks interesting. But here's my point. Once we understand someone and what made that person who he is, we can love him. If I only understood everything about a person and every experience he has ever had that made him who he is, then I could love him completely. An omniscient God supposedly has that understanding of all of us. Hence an omniscient God can never be angry with us. Q.E.D.

34 comments:

Reuben said...

What does Tolstoy have a character say in War and Peace, to understand is to forgive? Something like that.

I appreciate your argument and think that, if I could understand every mundane fact and mental state about a given person, then yes, I would likely have much more compassion for them, or love, or whatever.

But I'm not persuaded that to understand all the facts would always lead to such a disposition. Perhaps in some cases I would instead be moved to despise some people, or at least to have mixed feelings about them. I do not find it very incredible that people sometimes make very bad choices despite having all the odds stacked in their favor, and think myself justified to hold them in contempt.

On another note, there is certainly something wildly implausible sounding about your contention, as if by understanding what an unhappy history a person has had that that I would be moved to positively love a host of dictators, tyrants, criminals, and other genuine menaces. But perhaps that intuition is mistaken.

On yet another note, I wonder what impact such a view would have on, say, the legal system. If as a matter of principle we would be moved to love any person by a complete (tough impossible) understanding of all relevant facts, we would, I think, be moved to forgive every manner of criminal activity as a matter of principle. Of course, that doesn't disprove your argument, but it is a practical consideration.

Brad Haggard said...

John, I think you think you know Mike Tyson, but what you got was his own edited version. Didn't you say somewhere that we can skew the facts based on our emotions? Perhaps if you knew all of his sordid secrets that he didn't share you would not be as compassionate.

But that's why commanding love and compassion is a better model than simply trying to "understand" someone.

J. K. Jones said...

You assume that God would look into our hearts and find us not responsible for any evil actions.

What you are saying only makes sense if we are products of our environment.

Scott said...

Brad Wrote: Perhaps if you knew all of his sordid secrets that he didn't share you would not be as compassionate.

Perhaps. But wouldn't we expect God to be far more compassionate than we would? Wouldn't we expect God to be far more objective than we could ever be?

Rob R said...

Why should anger and love be at odds? seems to me that if a person you love choses to destroy himself in some moral way, I don't know why that wouldn't make one angry and grieved at their choices. Course if you no longer buy free will, I don't know why the joke of the whole deterministic drama wouldn't make you angry.


Now here's a question. Does this mean that your irritation at J P Holding would prove to be ill concieved if you just knew enough about him?

Here's another delima. Suppose I do know enough about someone to understand the way they are but I still am angry at them? SHould I not be angry. If you only knew enough about me (according to your line) then you couldn't fault me for holding on to the anger.

Conor Gilliland said...

Also, nowhere does God being just entail that he is "angry." It fits well within Christian theology that it breaks God's heart to punish the lost.

AndreLinoge said...

This was my struggle as a child with the so-called loving god of Christianity. Even then it seemed to me that an infinite god should be infinitely above being offended. But instead I was taught how my very existence was an affront to his "holiness".

Good post, John.

Gandolf said...

I think Johns talking more about understanding someone more.Understanding people more doesnt mean we are always looking to find ways to try to totally excuse them of things they did.

Sure when we understand more we can often find a little more room for more love of people.We are not talking about worshiping those who did stuff wrong.

J. K. Jones said... "What you are saying only makes sense if we are products of our environment."


And products of our environment we are too .Thats for real certain id say...For instance i sure dont expect some hardened Muslim who might have been brought up with much hardness and harsh nastiness to be all rosy cozy and caring and always totally wonderful thats for sure ....And much of that is about environment isnt it ...Luck of the draw ! ...the russian roulette part of life thats a lot about to whom and where you are born.

Once again its about understanding more ....Not so much about looking for a way to totally excuse things.

And yeah id say once you think about this stuff enough though it might even be a little or a lot hard at times you might want to try to be the bigger person if possible and try understanding and forgiving folks even like J.P.Holding a little if possible.

Hate only causes wrinkles and distroys you, but only really if you let it.To let it destroy you all you need to do is agree to carry it forever.

I have heaps of hard arse nasty christians in the circles around my families group we grew up with....And many of them hate me im sure ...And they bitch and try and get everyone else up against me..

But mostly i try to say look speak to the freaking hand dude ...hope your bitch makes you feel happier....Because im not letting your freaking religious nasty crap get to me ... And it aint, because im still smiling and laughing see!!

Many wander off draging their little lips along the ground,angry that they cant get to me like they so much wanted to.

But the thing being i dont (allow) their unhappiness to effect me if at all possible.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

John wrote; "But here's my point. Once we understand someone and what made that person who he is, we can love him"

Okay, so you love Mike Tyson eh?? Is that what you would like us to believe?? Well, what does that mean exactly?? It's easy enough to proclaim love from a distance, but would you be willing to live with him and suffer alongside him and be responsible for him? Lip service is one thing, confessing one's vulnerabilities and limitations in one's capacity to care is quite another. It is well within human nature to feel empathy for another, but quite another thing to walk it out. I do not trust that you would be well equipped to care for this man on a personal and ongoing basis.

Glenn said...

JL, this is just... silly? Why should people believe that if God knows us fully, he would be compelled to give us unqualified love? How about this:

f I knew everything about a person, I would know whether or not they are worthy of complete and unqualified love (since this is something about a person). We have considerable flaws that make us unworthy of completely unqualified love. To borrow JL’s turn of phrase, “an omniscient God supposedly has that understanding of all of us.” Consequently an omniscient God knows whether we are worthy of such love and as such would not give us complete and unqualified love, leaving room for the possibility of divine wrath.

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

"Okay, so you love Mike Tyson eh?? Is that what you would like us to believe?? Well, what does that mean exactly?? It's easy enough to proclaim love from a distance, but would you be willing to live with him and suffer alongside him and be responsible for him? "

"I do not trust that you would be well equipped to care for this man on a personal and ongoing basis."

I know this is a little off subject but, I was an active christian for 52 years. I attended church at least twice a week for that time. I saw nothing that would indicate that the church exhibits any greater degree of love or care or concern for individuals than any other institution. As a matter of fact, I don't believe I have ever been more effectively told to go to hell than by my last church. Oh, they had some lovely sounding rhetoric and knew some quaint scripture verses. When John asserts his love for Mike Tyson, I believe the commitment is equal to, at least, what Mike Tyson would receive from any "believers" . That has been my 52 year experience at least.

Rob R said...

I think there is one big flaw with this argument that goes to the nature of love. It's not a completely objective thing but is very subjective. The idea that love (combined with omniscience) and anger are at odds is one that is based on John's (and anyone else's) limited experience of what love is. It surely isn't the love of a parent for a child who grows up to be a drug addict. Many of these people know well of frustration and anger and it's a bit much to say that they just don't know their loved one well enough. In short, this argument can only arise from a few limited perspectives on love.

Glenn said...

"I saw nothing that would indicate that the church exhibits any greater degree of love or care or concern for individuals than any other institution."

This is definitely a problem of limited experience. The available information of social giving and charitable work shows that actually Christians are dispropportionately involved. If the above is actually an objective assessment rather than a jaded afterthought, it represents an exception, not the rule, and this is a matter of publicly accessible fact.

Rob R said...

If the above is actually an objective assessment rather than a jaded afterthought, it represents an exception, not the rule, and this is a matter of publicly accessible fact.

it also represents one side of the story. I hear that there are usually at least two of them.

Matthew said...

If I only understood everything about a person and every experience he has ever had that made him who he is, then I could love him completely. An omniscient God supposedly has that understanding of all of us. Hence an omniscient God can never be angry with us

Ok John, so I take it you think the only reason people do not love hitler and the nazi's is because they are ignorant.

Presumably also you will from now on dismiss anyone who expresses hatred or anger at the Nazi's as uninformed.

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

Glen: "This is definitely a problem of limited experience. "

Perhaps. I was a baritone who traveled extensively singing Southern Gospel music in churches for ten years. Perhaps several hundred churches are not sufficient to establish myself as someone who can speak from experience.

"The available information of social giving and charitable work shows that actually Christians are dispropportionately involved."

They should be. Most other institutions prohibit the use of extortion on ethical grounds. It's only the church that threatens your rewards in heaven and risk of eternal punishment with how much you put in the plate.

Rob R said...

I was a baritone who traveled extensively singing Southern Gospel music in churches for ten years. Perhaps several hundred churches are not sufficient to establish myself as someone who can speak from experience.

Oh yeah. dropping in on a Sunday to perform and leave gives one an extensive knowledge of the life of particular congregations.


They should be. Most other institutions prohibit the use of extortion on ethical grounds. It's only the church that threatens your rewards in heaven and risk of eternal punishment with how much you put in the plate.

Cause everyone should be allowed a place in the heaven they helped create with the callousness and negligence to the poor, helpless and broken.

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

"Oh yeah. dropping in on a Sunday to perform and leave gives one an extensive knowledge of the life of particular congregations."

Pretty much; yeah. Many of those churches were regulars that I had the opportunity to make friends in and follow over a period of several years.

"Cause everyone should be allowed a place in the heaven they helped create with the callousness and negligence to the poor, helpless and broken."

Your sentence is incoherent. I attended the last church for 22 years. During that period of time, approx. 5,000 people came and went. There were many who left the church who were disillusioned and disenchanted. Many were hurt. I was a deacon. We had a philosophy that the end justified the means. It was o.k. to sacrifice a few sheep in the name of the advancement of the church. That philosophy was not explicitly stated, but inferred by our actions. That philosophy is not unusual among fundamentalist churches. I've seen my share of the broken; many by the church. History records, crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, heresy trials, where millions were broken, tortured and murdered by the church. I know. Those weren't real christians.
Hitchens has a challenge he posits regularly; "name one good thing that is done, that can only be done by religion? Now think of a wicked or evil thing that could only be done by, or in the name of religion?"
If you are going to claim the moral high ground, you really need a better track record.

Glenn said...

Jeane-Baptiste - please, make up your mind.

First you said that Christians aren't more generous. Then I referred to the data suggesting that they are. Then you say "They should be," and started complaining about WHY they are more generous.

So first: You now just look dishonest, because you're speaking out of both sides of your mouth about whether Christians in America are generous.

Second, it seems that those Christians are damned if they do and damned if they don't with you!

PS - being a choir baritone who drops by for a performance is unlikely to give you many insights on the charitable work of a church, or of its members in their own lives. What a bizarre defense!

kilo papa said...

Glenn, your comments on this blog are approaching the astonishing level of coherence and greatness that are usually associated with one of the finest minds in all of Christianity--Kirk Cameron!
Tell us Glenn, what does the banana mean to you?

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

"Cause everyone should be allowed a place in the heaven they helped create with the callousness and negligence to the poor, helpless and broken.

OK Glen let's see f I can help you understand the difference between altruistic gifts and coerced gifts and gifts given for selfish motives. I'll use small words. Not only what we give, but how we give, should be considered. What are the motives? Isn't God concerned with our motivations and dispositions upon which the gift is given? Are the faith movement televangelist correct that it is acceptable to give "expecting" that gift to be returned 100 fold? Is giving just a big 401(k) in the sky? If so wouldn't you expect the ignorant masses who buy this tripe to give more?

Kant ( a Christian) once proposed that morality consist in doing our "duty." For the masses who give either due to fear of punishment or hope of reward do those gifts count as moral gifts? Certainly those hungry that are fed, naked, who are clothed and sick, who are cared for are glad for the gifts, but do those gifts represent ANY moral high ground? That is the point that you are attempting to make; that higher rates of giving equal greater morality. Just not so my friend.


My knowledge of some of the churches that we regularly sang at was in some cases greater than most of those sitting in the pews. I have lots of stories from child molestation, clergy affairs to fraud that I can share. I have witnessed abuse from the pulpit. It's an anecdotal observation, period.

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

Glen let me add one experience that happened to me years ago that I think drives home this point. A man and his wife were experiencing financial woes and asked me as a financial professional to help them develop a budget for them to live by. The first thing I did was to list all liabilities. The first one that they gave was their church tithe and building fund gift. It represented approx. 12% of his GROSS income. He had no health insurance. He had no life insurance, he lived in a rented mobile home. He had no retirement savings. His wife was pregnant and stayed at home with the other three children.
They were living a very meager life style. No frills. They're expenses were exceeding their income by $150.00 each month. His preacher had convinced him that his only option was to give more so God would bless him with greater income. Nothing that I could say could change his mind. God was going to look after him if simply he obeyed his preacher.

This man and his wife were giving out of fear and a hope that if they gave more, God would bless him with a new higher paying job. Is this the motivation God desires? Does this represent a higher moral acumen? Does this story represent a mere anomaly? No.

Glenn said...

Jean-Baptiste, you appear to be attributing somebody else's words to me.

As for your "I'll use small words" fluff, I think you need to use at least SOME words to explain the factual doublespeak that you are engaging in. I have called you on it, but you are remaining silent: Do Christians do more charitable work than others in your country or not. First you said that they don't, then when I pointed out that they do, you said "they should."

Which is it? Or were my words too confusing? ;)

Gotta run, but please do answer. I'll come back to see what you've got to say.

Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg said...

"Jean-Baptiste, you appear to be attributing somebody else's words to me."

Yep, I did; Sorry Glen.

Here is my original post. "They should be. Most other institutions prohibit the use of extortion on ethical grounds. It's only the church that threatens your rewards in heaven and risk of eternal punishment with how much you put in the plate."

Here is your last question. "Do Christians do more charitable work than others in your country or not."

You are fishing for an answer that has already been given. There is a difference between altruistic giving and giving done for selfish motives. If you are asking which group, religious or secularist give more altruistically, I would tell you that religious and non religious would be about the same. If you are asking which group gives more by sheer numbers alone, a group with a metaphorical gun pointed at them or, a group unfettered and free to choose for themselves, the group with the gun pointed at them is going to win the prize. Coercion is an effective tool for raising money. If that's all you're asking ? Yes, christians give more than free people.

Rob R said...

OK Glen let's see f I can help you understand the difference between altruistic gifts and coerced gifts and gifts given for selfish motives.

While I'm not glenn, I'll respond to the things you said to glenn that were in fact a response to me.

Absolute altruism is bunk and there is nothing evil in some self interest. Nothing in Christianity or scripture except perhaps what you can take in distortion or without balance of greater scriptural considerations implies otherwise. Scripture emphasizes self denial and preaches against being a lover of self not because the self isn't worth loving or that it should be denied, but because it is in the best interest of the self to engage its communal nature in the love of others and our spiritual nature of loving God and to focus less of our spiritual and mental resources on our selves.

It's right there in the two greatest commandments, that we are to love the neighbor as self.

That paradoxical idea of losing one's life to save it is for the sake of ultimately saving one's life.

If so wouldn't you expect the ignorant masses who buy this tripe to give more?

The issue isn't ignorance. The issue is the emotional struggles we all face to strive for involved in delayed gratification and self giving sacrifice as opposed to what is immediately satisfying. Though it's not as if God's blessings are just for tomorrow but are vey much today as well, and it's not primary financial blessings that we are to seek in the here and now (if at all).

Kant...

I'm not a fan.

That is the point that you are attempting to make; that higher rates of giving equal greater morality.

Jesus said that it was the greater sacrifice that was the important issue. And that wasn't a damnation vs. punishment issue.

My knowledge of some of the churches that we regularly sang at was in some cases greater than most of those sitting in the pews. I have lots of stories from child molestation, clergy affairs to fraud that I can share.

Alot of warts in those communities. And it doesn't change the fact that there may be alot of good accomplished in spite of those issues. I truthfully can't say that all the churches you went to are unfairly characterized by you, but I'm just not going to take your word for it since since I have my own personal experience from which I know of people who have unjustly judged the faith community that I belong to and have left. I know it's not perfect, but we are a church were people find love and character and were we seek to grow towards God's ideal for us.

This man and his wife were giving out of fear and a hope that if they gave more, God would bless him with a new higher paying job. Is this the motivation God desires? Does this represent a higher moral acumen? Does this story represent a mere anomaly? No.

Scripture is clear that a man should provide for his family. While we are called to give sacrificially, we should also be stewards. And I would expect to know how the church was helping him or if they just expected all that tithing was just so the poor would magically be helped. The early church which at one point held things in common gave to take care of each other, not to receive good luck in increasing their income.

Rob R said...

Just a further thought on the topic. Prior to Mike Tyson's boxing career, he used to follow little old ladies into elevators and punch them for their groceries. But that wouldn't make anyone mad who really knew him, or knew plenty of people who were in as bad or worse situations than he was in but didn't stoop to that level.

Anonymous said...

I guess the same logic can go towards God. At least theistically what Christians would call Yahweh.

The more you learn about God (at least in the biblical sense), the more you see why he or she :) does what 'it' does. What seems unjust is actually just. So, the more you learn about God's nature; you would learn to love God more and more.

I even heard theistic proponents that support the doctrine of eternal hell. They argue it is actually just for God to do so. They argue philosophically (the intelligent ones), we are all broken and if you don't receive the free gift (Jesus) to become unbroken it would actually be better (loving and/or just) for God to send you to hell than for you to be broken in an unbroken 'world'. It's like when I'm depressed that last thing I want to be around is a bunch of happy people who don't have a care in the world.

I have to admit, hearing the person say that has an surprisingly valid point.

Gandolf said...

The Non faithful need to really be extensively educated to no longer give anthing to any faith Charities.When their evelopes arrive in our letter boxes asking for donations we non believers need to throw them straight in the compost binn.When the faithful come knocking at the doors of non believers with their buckets with slots in the top for donations,we need to start reminding them of people like Rob R and Glenn and totally refuse to help faith Charities who then only use any help we happen to give them as ammo back against us.Any money we donate to help them, later becomes their money to help prove they give more than we ever do.

We need to start giving these people the quick march out of our gateways.We need to approach our governments to make sure none of our taxes are wasted on helping supply tax rebates for faith gatherings,and make sure our governments charge rates like everyone else has to pay for buildings owned.So our own rates stay lower in turn allowing us more capatal to pass on to secular charities of our own choice.

If these people of faith wish to call us as being so uncharatable,then so be it we really will be very uncharatable towards them in future.We must make sure we start living more and more up to the names they freely kindly bestow upon us

Any money we give to charity in future we should make sure goes only through charities without any faith backing whatsoever.

Only then will the real truth of such matters become more totally honest.

They might not quite love us for it and it might not be an excuse,but it might actually help in helping them gain some more decency and UNDERSTANDING.

Would you agree with me at all, Rob R and Glenn??

Glenn said...

Gandolf, no, not at all. What are you even talking about? I'm referring to what people have done, not what the best thing for them to do is. I have not told anyone to give or not give anything to anyone. But don't let the facts get in the way of a rhetorically zingy post, right? ;)

Gandolf said...

Glenn said..."What are you even talking about?..I'm referring to what people have done"

Hey Sunshine i happen to be talking about whats been done in the past too..As well as maybe what non believers might need to do more of in the future when taking a differnt approach from now on.You know when things dont seem to work, and you see what you have been doing only starts working against you.Most folks try something new unless they are totally stupid and enjoy penalizing themselves hmmmmm.

But still im not really so very surprised you find it a little hard to understand.Do you also happen to find it so completely unfathomable hard to even for one single moment imagine and understand at all just why maybe some christians might find themselves in tough situations and even getting killed over seas as well?

Surely you dont think folks are simply killing them overseas because they are just lil white lambs who absolutely never do anyone no harm.

Glenn said...

Nice try Gandolf - well, OK, it was a try. "Hey Sunshine i happen to be talking about whats been done in the past too"

No. I made an observation about what has been done int he past. You construed me as saying soemthing that should lead to atheists intentionally snubbing charity.

Of course, you're free to snub charity. But trying to link it to my comments is silly.

How about a different approach: In light of my observation that Christians have done more for charity, why not take that as an individation that things should change, and actually put more effort, rather than less effort, into supporting charities?

Gandolf said...

Glenn ive already said we need to take a different approach, we can agree on that bit for sure.

But the different approach we non believers maybe now need to start taking more and more in future, got absolutely nothing to do with your observations at all.

Its got very much more to do with your great lacking of observations though.

But never mind we dont need to argue the point anymore you and i,you keep thinking how you do its fine by me.In fact i think its even been quite helpful so far.No skin off our nose if you much prefer to continue to stay dormant and stagnate is it.

Non believers have already started the BALL ROLLING with what im talking about anyway,the cogs are slowly starting to turn faster and faster.Many more folks of non faith already no longer agree to give their money to faith charities,they make extra very double sure their money goes to secular ones for certain instead.And different secular sites and groups etc are busy trying to educate more and more so more folks be sure to follow suit.

Dont you just love how the gospel of humanity is finally being delivered back to christians as well these days Glenn

Rob R said...

If these people of faith wish to call us as being so uncharatable,then so be it we really will be very uncharatable towards them in future.

you seem to be making up conversations that didn't take place.

I never suggested that atheists aren't or can't be charitable. And here, I didn't say anything about that at all (I think). That wouldn't help my position which is that some atheists are indeed charitable since being an atheist doesn't mean you no longer reflect the image of God.

Gandolf said...

Thanks Rob R ....That is at least a much more honest statement to make,no just wondered what you actually thought about it with regards to the charity of non faithful folks.

In short i guess what im saying is its been very dishonest of faithful folk to take totals of money given to faith charities in the past,part of which has in the past often also been donated by the non faithful folk as well.

Then later use it as some statistic to try to show and suggest faithful folk do so much more charity than non faithful folk ever did.

That would be like you kindly giving me some money to (help me) buy something,i then buy it and also claim i came up with the whole total amount of the money to buy it myself.Calling you a unhelpful ungiving type as well just to top it all off in the process.

I doubt you would enjoy that type of thoughtlessness that much Rob,and so i dont think you would expect the charity of non faithful to enjoy being abused either.