Friday, January 01, 2010

If God Commanded You To Kill, Would You Do It?

A blog comment: "To the religious folk here, I wonder: Assuming that you were sure you heard the voice of God, would you kill if He commanded it?"

A trick question to open the new year. "You were sure" could be interpreted as entirely psychological. A person could be "sure" in their mind, but mistaken. For those who deny the existence of God, the question is really, "If you mistakenly believe you heard the voice of God, would you kill if He commanded it?"

The proper way to state the question would be, "If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it?", where the existence of God and the voice of God are assumed to be veridical. That is a much tougher question (and one that you are not asking), but worth considering.

To answer this fully, we would have to discuss the goodness and righteousness and justice of God, and the conditions under which a good God would command the death of a human being by human agency -- death by natural agency being universal and ubiquitous.

Let me re-state the problem by analogy. If you are part of a counter-terrorist unit, and your commander tells you to take someone out, would you do it?

________ Yes. ______ No.

You balked. While you were considering your answer, a bomb went off killing every one reading this blog, along with their loved ones and yours. Your wife, daughter, son, mother, dad, etc. are now all dead because you disobeyed the order. Would you have been right or wrong to obey the command to kill? If the captain of the plane the other day shouted out an order to kill the underwear bomber, would it have been right to obey the legal authority on board the airplane?

Would you do it? ________ Yes. ______ No.

The same principle applies to killing in, e.g., a hostage situation, a just war, and capital punishment.

Would you do it? ________ Yes. ______ No.

Now, God is the legal and moral authority of the world. If the captain of an airplane, or the leader of a CTU or the general in an army has the right to order someone to kill, does not also God as the supreme moral agent? (Argument from lesser to the greater.)

________ Yes. ______ No.

So, the issue boils down to the justice of God in commanding killing.

There is no instance in the Bible where God condones killing for personal vengeance or hate. In fact, it is strongly condemned, and is a foundational value that has seeped into the moral consciousness of the western world. It's probably why you understand killing to be wrong and are asking the question in the first place. "Thou shalt not kill (murder)". God does command killing in a military context. The Bible is a realist document. God did not airlift the Jews down from heaven into the promised land. Blood was shed. Lives were lost. And more blood was shed and more lives lost to keep them there. The world at that time was a particularly nasty, brutal place. God at times uses one nation to execute judgment against another. He used the Jews to execute judgment against the Canaanites and their pagan neighbors, and he used ruthless nations to execute judgment against the Jews -- it's a sword that cuts both ways. One people, the Jews, were commanded by God to kill, the other people, just went in and did their thing. The outcome was the same -- slaughter.

Surely the God who judged the world by catastrophic flood would have human agency at his disposal as well. We may balk at this. What do we think we are, special? Worth something? Of some value? Not if atheism is true.

Atheism is a conundrum.

The only way human beings can have objective worth and value is if theism is true. But they want to deny theism by arguing that the God Christians serve is a tyrant or unjust. But your argument is undercut by the fact you have no basis for objective morals or values. In other words, you need for there to be a God in order for you to deny his existence using moral argument.

Now, to answer the re-phrased question, which assumes the existence of God, the holiness and justice of God, and the spoken voice of God. "If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it".

I would assess the context in the light of the teachings of Christ.

1. Am I part of a theocracy in which God is establishing his holy presence in a nation? E.g., am I part of Israel, under the Old Covenant? Am I part of this nation's duly established and ratified leadership Ans: I am not. The question has no weight. I don't need to worry about it.

2. Am I part of a legally constituted military or para-military organization in which lethal force is authorized? (The powers that be are ordained of God) Ans: I am not.

3. Am I in some kind of emergency situation like an airplane hi-jacking, or hostage situation, or a case where my home is being invaded? If I were, and God spoke and commanded me to kill, I can only say, "I hope I would".

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Here's a question for you. If God loved you, would you respond to his love?

39 comments:

lastchancetosee said...

Your first analogy is imprecise, the setup implies the answer: You would not be part of a anti-terror unit if you would answer that question with no.

btw., my answers would be yes (but only if I were a member of said unit, which I wouldn't be. 'no' in all other cases), no (the captain has no right to order the killing of a passenger, and even less right to command me), no (capital punishment is barbaric and without benefit, I would not be part of any war, just or otherwise (I don't mention the hostage situation, because that could also be self-defense)) and no, in that order.

This question is one of the reasons why I think that most religions are inherently immoral philosophies (note that this applies to the religion, not necessarily it's followers): Because the reasoning in your post seems sound. Religion allows people, by transferring their responsibility for their actions on to god, to justify whatever atrocity as "God's wish". And since it is inherently impossible for the believer to separate truly having been commanded by a god to do something from believing it to be so this applies not only to the hypothetical under discussion, but to the real world as well.

I haven't seen your answer. You first argue for the answer being "Yes", but then continue to answer, basically, "yes, but only if xyz". Which one is it?

The question is rather binary: Suppose God ordered you to kill e.g. me, would you do it (yes/no)? (all answers in the form of "yes, but only if" amount to "no")

Here's a question for you. If God loved you, would you respond to his love?

No. Why should I? Supposing he exists, a) the fact that someone loves me carries no obligation for me, b) he could love me all he wants, but looking at the world I'd still see no reason to respond to that. To the contrary.
Would I pretend to respond in order to achieve the christian get-out-of-jail card? I hope not.
Fortunately I very much doubt that I'll ever be in the position to find out ...

SDC said...

Why don't you ask Andrea Yates (killed her children on "the orders of god"), Phillip Garrido (kidnapped, held, raped, had children with, and also raped those children on "the orders of god"), Dale and Leilani Neumann (who allowed their sick daughter to die because they thought that "god would cure her if only they believed enough"), and on. and on, and on. Self-defence is a valid and legitimate reason for killing, and that extends to things like anti-terrorist operations, but if you hear voices from your "god", you're MENTALLY ILL.

philosoraptor said...

Skipping down to the actual point where you answer my question (sort of):

Now, to answer the re-phrased question, which assumes the existence of God, the holiness and justice of God, and the spoken voice of God. "If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it".

You've rephrased my original question in a format that you can answer. Good on you. Now let's see what you say to it:

1. Am I part of a theocracy in which God is establishing his holy presence in a nation? E.g., am I part of Israel, under the Old Covenant? Am I part of this nation's duly established and ratified leadership Ans: I am not. The question has no weight. I don't need to worry about it.

Okay, this isn't really an answer to the question. The question doesn't assume any context, it asks you if you would obey God's order to kill. So perhaps it's easier if you assume that it is given under ANY context in which you can imagine yourself, or equivalently, imagine yourself in any context in which the command is relevant. Let's see if your next answer gets there.

2. Am I part of a legally constituted military or para-military organization in which lethal force is authorized? (The powers that be are ordained of God) Ans: I am not.

Well, you did the same thing here. I'm asking you a general question and you're dodging it by saying it doesn't or would never apply to me. I might ask you how you know that God would only ask you to kill in this specific contexts. Didn't he ask at least one of his followers to kill his son? How about THAT context? Anyway, you still have ONE chance left.

3. Am I in some kind of emergency situation like an airplane hi-jacking, or hostage situation, or a case where my home is being invaded? If I were, and God spoke and commanded me to kill, I can only say, "I hope I would".

Nope, you blew it here too. Any reasonable moral person can make the decision to take life in this context without any guidance from God. I rather hope that you wouldn't hesitate to wait for the voice of God to guide you - in fact, I don't think that you would, and if one did, it would be absolutely foolish. I would even go so far as to suggest that any voice of God that you hear in a high stress situation such as this would more likely be of your own creation, designed to make easier the unpalatable and difficult task of facing such extreme danger and killing a fellow human being. But I digress.

So, it seems that you have used a very old apologist trick: dazzle them with verbose nonsense, and then not answer the question. I await your answer to the general question: If God commanded you to kill, would you do it?

Joe said...

Philosoraptor you are trying to trip up Richard by getting him to appear psychotic because he would kill based on the 'voices in his head'.

What I interpret Richard's answer to be is that most 'religious' folk don't act solely on the 'voices in the head' but rather on 'duly authorized voices in the world'. Those 'duly authorized voices in the world' over ride 'voices in the head' in such serious matters as taking another human's life.

Now if your question was. "Would I kill based solely on voices in the head", my answer would be no. My basis for saying no is the fact that once again there is another 'voice' that overrides the 'voices in the head and that is Scripture. Scripture goes to great lengths to tell us that we should not be killing other people except when duly authorized 'voices in the world' say so.

philosoraptor said...

Scripture goes to great lengths to tell us that we should not be killing other people except when duly authorized 'voices in the world' say so.

Really? I was under the impression that the scripture most decisively said "Thou shalt not kill". In fact, I believe those are the exact words, at least in the KJV.

philosoraptor said...

Regardless, I was asking whether you would kill by God's command. Your answer, then, is that you would not?

Joe said...

Philosoraptor its good of you to acknowledge your almost complete ignorance of Scripture.

Scripture like life is multilayered and only fools take one snippet out of context and try to apply it to every situation.

If you are asking if I would kill based sole on what I refer to as the 'voice in the head' no I would not. I am a Christian not insame.

lastchancetosee said...

I am a Christian not insame.

That is good for you but hardly the question.
To repeat: Suppose God ordered you to kill e.g. me, would you do it (yes/no)?

The specific way he orders you to do it is irrelevant, as long as we assume that it is indeed an undeniable command. The guy is all-powerful, after all. I think he can get his point across to you if he wants to.

Joe said...

You're not to sharp there are you last to see? I answered the question very well by telling everyone that I would have to make sure it was God telling me to kill. Just because I hear a voice in my head doesn't mean that it is the voice of God. God set up numerous checks and balances so we don't have nut bars popping off all over the place.

A voice in my head says 'Kill last to see'. Do I assume that is the voice of God or just my fervent desire to rid the world of another yapping terrier named last to see. Well I seek guidance from the law of the land. After all the law of the land was put there by God as a guide. The law of the land says don't kill. I also check with Scripture as it has been known that the law of the land has been wrong. Scripture says do not kill even yapping terriers like last to see. If any further doubt remained in my mind I would then consult other Christians. They likewise would say do not kill yapping terriers like last to see. Now I have 4 sources of what could be deemed the 'voice of God'. That which only I hear, the law of the land, Scripture and fellow Christians. If three of the 4 say don't kill the yapping terrier last to see then last to see will live another day or else meet his end by other means.

Spin Assassin said...

I'm an Atheist. I was raised a Catholic though so I'm familiar with both sides of this conversation. Its a conversation that will never be won and will never end until my life is at an end also. I can wait.

I take care not to push my faith on others. Its a waste of time, and its mildly insulting. Most people believe that they know or follow the one true faith.

I don't see many Christians writing essays about Islam or Shintoism being a big lie. Atheism is special because liberal Atheists have started a war with all religion. I take the opposite view with Atheism than they do. Its my belief system and it should be respected as I respect the beliefs of others.

Of course you can debate away on this. I'd just ask for a little more respect as we are not all liberal fascists. Thanks.

lastchancetosee said...

You're not to sharp there are you last to see? I answered the question very well by telling everyone that I would have to make sure it was God telling me to kill.

*sigh*
I already reiterated the premise of the question, the one you seem to have missed: You get a command to kill that undeniable comes from god. Voice in your head, notarized contract, whatever. He's almighty, he'll figure something out.

You're sidestepping the question by, once again, playing silly games. I'm rapidly loosing interest in your answers.


Luckily I gather from the rest of your post that your answer, were you willing to give it, would be "no". OK, I guess that's all philosoraptor wanted to know.


Spin Assasin:
I do admit that the discussion is rather futile.

I don't see many Christians writing essays about Islam or Shintoism being a big lie.

Well, since they all claim that they have the one and only true faith it is sort of implied, isn't it? They sure spend a lot of time writing essays arguing that Atheism is a big lie.

Atheism is special because liberal Atheists have started a war with all religion.

Really?

Its my belief system and it should be respected as I respect the beliefs of others.

Why, though? We don't usually respect the beliefs of the crazy guy ranting about alien abductions.
It is absolutely OK for people to believe whatever they want to believe. They are free to do that, and I respect their choice even if I think the belief (be it religion or alien-abductionism) is stupid.
As long as those beliefs aren't harmful to others they are of course also free to live those beliefs however they choose.
But they have to right to my respect.

philosoraptor said...

lastchancetosee beat me to it.

Joe, I'm not asking if you would kill on the command of the 'voices in your head'. I'm asking if you would kill on the command of GOD. That is, I assume that you believe he really, truly exists. Presumably he communicates with you in some manner. If he does not communicate directly, then imagine a scenario where he a) exists absolutely, and b) communicates his existence and his intentions to you perfectly clearly, in whatever fashion you choose or require. His intention is for you to kill someone. Do you do it or not?

It really is a simple question. The usual stumbling block is whether it is God or not that is talking. I'm going to remove that and grant you everything: It IS Him, he exists, it is perfect communication, and his command is to kill. What is your action?

philosoraptor said...

Spin Assassin:

I can respect and understand that people hold strong beliefs. I don't respect or understand the lack of critical reflection on those beliefs, or the adherence to said beliefs in the face of contrary evidence or the lack of evidence, or the tenacious grip that some people have on their beliefs when the implications are clearly inconsistent, hypocritical, immoral, or unethical.

I understand that belief in God (or religious belief in general) is very important for some people. I'm even aware of the depth of emotion and the level of attachment that people have for their religious beliefs. Only where these religious beliefs impact my safety or my liberty am I concerned, and I've asked the simplest question that gets to that concern. That is, for the believers at this blog, would God's command to kill lead to them committing the act. I recently heard a long story of a deconversion where it was mentioned that the believer held this conviction, and I want to know how many other believers hold it.

Joe said...

Last to see has lost the argument and is now just flailing about making himself look more absurd by the posting.

Since last to see doesn't believe in God and certainly doesn't understand HIM, his "get a command to kill that undeniable comes from god. Voice in your head, notarized contract, whatever. He's almighty, he'll figure something out." is moot.

From my perspective I view life as being a gift from God. I view human life as being one of the highest gifts of God. Jesus Christ and His Grace as being the only higher gift that comes to mind. Since human life is a gift from God I reject the Giver of that gift should I destroy life. Therefore I could not be an executioner. However I could be a soldier, a policeman or even kill a known human threat to those around me. Based on the understanding that if I don't kill such a person he is going to kill those around me. In other words I would kill if such a killing were known to prevent a greater number of deaths.

For example I would not have killed Hitler until it was evident that he was about to kill others. If there were another way to prevent Hitler's planned killing ie put him in prison for the rest of his life then problem solved no deaths required. In the absence of any other solution then I would kill Hitler knowing that if I didn't kill him, he would kill millions of others.

philosoraptor said...

Joe, are you saying, therefore, that you would not kill if God commanded it?

RkBall said...

" lastchancetosee said...
Your first analogy is imprecise," etc.....

A thoughtful response. I half-way agree with about half of it!

"Religion allows people, by transferring their responsibility for their actions on to god, to justify whatever atrocity as "God's wish".

*I agree that toxic religion, or mis-use of legitimate religion, does indeed allow this. A definite downside to religion. But, I'm not a big fan of religion.

"And since it is inherently impossible for the believer to separate truly having been commanded by a god to do something from believing it to be so this applies not only to the hypothetical under discussion, but to the real world as well."

We part company here a bit. I don't think it's inherently impossible, because this would mean that God was not able to create a species that could in fact hear his voice, and this would be incompatible with God's unlimited creative powers. Worrisome, maybe, but not impossible.

Jesus is a great example. He clearly loved and heard his Father's voice.

RkBall said...

Let's try a hypothetical.

Again, for hypothetical purposes, God exists and communicates to an individual that he should "take out" another person.

Scenario 1: that person is an obscure art student somewhere in Bavaria, creating and selling Van Gogh knock-offs at 5 deutche marks a pop.

Scenario 2: that person is an obscure European politician, and he's just come to power .

Scenario 3. His first name is Adolph, and he's just annexed Poland.

Scenario 4. His last name is Hitler, and he's just ordered a bunch of ovens.

Scenario 5. He's brought the whole world into war and is engaging in an active extermination campaign against Jews.

Scenario 6. He's ordered bombing of your village, and you and your family, along with your pet dog Churchill, and all your friends and neighbors, one of whom will find a cure for cancer if he lives, will be wiped out.

At what point along this sliding scale would you say, "you know, God's got a pretty good idea here, I think I'll do it"?

Most of us would have increasing problems with it the higher up the scale we go -- but God has foreknowledge and sees the end from the beginning.

Here's something to stimulate further thought on this most interesting and difficult of questions:

The problem, arguably, is not that God, in a military/theocratic context, has in the past ordered killing, the problem, arguably, is that he hasn't ordered enough killing.

If God would somehow cleanly "take out" all the hostiles, and leave the friendlies standing, we'd probably be pretty happy. Wouldn't it be great if an omniscient God convicted people at the pre-crime stage and took them out with a fatal dose of, e.g., killer flu (or the dreaded blogitis)?

What pre-crimes would be on our takeout list?

Murder?
Child rape?
Forced rape of an adult?
Gluing a cat to the side of a highway?
...
Posting ill-intended comments on the Ball Bounces?

OK, I was just kidding with that last one, guys!

* * *

I'm in Buffalo, headed for New Orleans, got my velcro-laced shoes for quick-through airport security, and will be assessing the need for velcro underwear on future flights.

philosoraptor said...

The responses I've seen on this blog seem to imply that no one here would immediately kill at God's command, and, it seems, would weigh the context and their own morality in the measure of their decision. I'm at least partially comforted by that, in that it suggests that there is at least a faint desire not to subjugate our individual capacity for free choice and reason even among diehard believers. Also, it suggests that, even in strong believers, there is recognition that the concept of objective morality is deeply flawed (even if this is an unconcious recognition) and that (again, perhaps unconciously) the belief in a 'God' that fits the real, omniscient, omnipotent description is an affront to natural human reason.

The only thing that worries me is that no one gives a straight answer to the question, which suggests that everyone is concealing their true beliefs on the issue, at least to some degree.

RkBall said...

"The responses I've seen on this blog seem to imply that no one here would immediately kill at God's command, and, it seems, would weigh the context and their own morality in the measure of their decision."

*To obey instantly would require a track-record of communion with God, and hearing his voice, and learning to trust him, that I suspect no one in this discussion has achieved.

Consider this:

1. Ananias. When the Lord spoke to Ananias and told him to lay hands on Saul of Tarsus for his healing, he said, something like, "no, Lord -- for he's a persecutor of the Church." The Lord reassured him that Saul was a chosen vessel and Ananias should do as he was told. The Lord did not rebuke Ananias over this. Often we need more information, and the Lord graciously provides it. He's a person, not a despot. And he knows we are persons, not robotic manchurian candidates.

2. Peter and eating un-kosher food. When Peter had the vision and the Lord told him to rise and eat the "unclean" food, he argued with God. He protested. Three times the vision was repeated. Finally, Peter was convinced. Once again, It was a give-and-take, back-and-forth expression of command, question, explanation, misgiving, etc.

Now, if asking someone to eat something on the off-limits list requires such assurance, imagine the reassurance needed to obey a command to kill someone!

And, no matter how clearly you state the hypothetical, it doesn't overcome the misgivings etc. that would have to be dealt with.

So, the only reasonable answer can be one of hesitation.

RkBall said...

"Also, it suggests that, even in strong believers, there is recognition that the concept of objective morality is deeply flawed"

*Mmm. No. I disagree with this bit. Either moral realities objectively exist, i.e., good and evil actually exist, or they do not.

Darwinism and subjective human moral reasoning are insufficient to get us to objective morality. Either good and evil are real, or they are not. If they are real, the universe must be a product of a moral agency. Otherwise, you just haven't got enough inputs -- stardust and water, to get to good and evil. You just can't get there!

"belief in a 'God' that fits the real, omniscient, omnipotent description is an affront to natural human reason."

No, I don't think so. The real omniscient, omnipotent description of God is what secures everything else going on in our lives -- why something exists rather than nothing, why this universe exists instead of a dead, chaotic one, why reason exists, and logic works, why there is in fact good and evil, right and wrong, why we are endowed with a sense of purpose, longings for immortality, why think we have worth, value, etc.

The problem in answering this question is not with God's perfections. It's that it's such an uphill climb to get to "yes" -- especially since everything Christ taught goes in the opposite direction of your hypothetical. We are to love our enemies, not hate them. We are to lay down our lives for others. We are specifically commanded not to return evil for evil, etc. etc. etc. He healed one of the persons coming to crucify him.

It's more a reflection of our limitations and the sheer improbability of the question ever becoming a live option in any of our lives.

RkBall said...

"Your first analogy is imprecise, the setup implies the answer: You would not be part of a anti-terror unit if you would answer that question with no."

You would if your name was Chloe!

philosoraptor said...

Otherwise, you just haven't got enough inputs -- stardust and water, to get to good and evil. You just can't get there!


What is your evidence for making this claim? All evidence suggests that moral behaviour can and does evolve.

why something exists rather than nothing, why this universe exists instead of a dead, chaotic one, why reason exists, and logic works, why there is in fact good and evil, right and wrong, why we are endowed with a sense of purpose, longings for immortality, why think we have worth, value, etc.

All of these have possible non-supernatural explanations. What evidence do you have that tips the balance in favour of your supernatural explanation? Keep in mind that the evidence for your supernatural explanation has to be incredibly compelling in order to justify the magnitude of the claim you're making. It's not just a physical mechanism you're proposing, right? Is it something outside physical reality? What exactly does that even mean?

It's more a reflection of our limitations and the sheer improbability of the question ever becoming a live option in any of our lives.

On the contrary I see it as a very strong indicator of how much time you have spent reflecting on the implications of your beliefs, and consequently, how serious you are about those beliefs.

RkBall said...

"All of these have possible non-supernatural explanations. What evidence do you have that tips the balance in favour of your supernatural explanation? Keep in mind that the evidence for your supernatural explanation has to be incredibly compelling in order to justify the magnitude of the claim you're making. It's not just a physical mechanism you're proposing, right? Is it something outside physical reality? What exactly does that even mean?"

THIS would require yet another post! I may get to it, but not tonite. I'm outta here -- coffee and beignets await me (tomorrow) at the Café du Monde in New Orleans!

Suzanne said...

In response to the original question:

The question doesn't provide enough data.

It would depend on whether the command is moral or immoral.

If it is moral, I wouldn't need a voice in my head to act morally.

If it is immoral, then I know it's not from God.

philosoraptor said...

If it is immoral, then I know it's not from God.

As I said, you use your own moral judgement to determine whether to act or not. Doesn't this mean God is not required?

philosoraptor said...

THIS would require yet another post!

Indeed, I think it would require significantly more than a blog post. Supernatural claims require extraordinary evidence, and the weight of the natural evidence is already rather strongly against you.

Joe said...

Well Philo ole boy you may think you have laid a clever trap but in effect you have attempted to ask the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet" to prove the prevalence of spousal abuse.

In like manner you presuppose that a Moral God would give an immoral command to one of His followers. All the moral people here have been answering morally. All the while you are insisting that because we struggle to imagine why God gave an immoral command there is no objective morality.

Let me put it another way: Is it ever moral to kill another human being? Yes. When no other option is available to prevent the death of other human beings.

Is refraining from violence ever immoral? Yes when your refusal to use violence results in needless deaths.

That being said you can not prove the prevalence of spousal abuse by asking people if they have stopped beating their wives yet. Your question presupposes your answer and therefore is not a justification for your conclusion.

So in response I am going to ask you the question is it possible for and atheist to act morally because atheism rejects morality?

philosoraptor said...

Joe, I asked a simple question about your actions given a command from God. I didn't ask you what morality was or where it came from. Presumably, if God commands it, then it is moral, no?

As for the source or nature of morality, I can figure it out, on my own and without God, despite what you think. I suggest you do some research into secular moral systems, of which there are many and into which a very great amount of thought has gone.

Joe said...

So there Philo have you stopped beating your wife yet????

Your question still presupposes your answer. It is invalid as any determinate of truth. Not that an atheistic mindset would understand that but nevertheless your question is invalid.

Have fun creating your own morality but may I suggest that you use some sort of yard stick to measure that morality? After all how can you tell if you are being moral if you don't use some sort of standard? Personally I prefer the Christian standard of morality to the atheistic standard of morality. You know the atheistic morality of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc etc etc. Oh dear such preference would be lost on someone who believes there is no objective morality wouldn't it? So have a nice life and if the urge strikes you please don't kill someone or steal something or break up any families through infidelity. I know that is difficult for those superior beings who vaunt their existence through atheism. I mean who am I a mere Christian to tell you what is moral.

philosoraptor said...

Joe, thanks for your input. I don't need to respond to your last post, I only need underline it.

lastchancetosee said...

RKBall, about your sequence of scenarios:
My answer would be: Never, unless I wanted to do it anyway.
But there is a fundamental problem with your scenarios: There are so many random events, circumstances and free decision by many people between Hitler being born and Hitler becoming what he is known for that it is impossible to decide beforehand what will happen and thus MAYBE having a reason to kill. To say that God knows anyway because of his all-knowingness means that there is nothing random in this world and no free will, in which case I do not have a decision to make: My answer is whatever God wants it to be.

Punishing people for pre-crimes is immoral (Unless we're talking about the self-defense version of "punishing for pre-crime" here. In some cases the consequences are pretty clear, even allowing for random events and free will).

Joe said...

You know something Philo ole boy I believe you are on the horns of a dilemma there. How can you prove me wrong. By coming up with a "good" morality? You know something akin to Christian morality. Or shall you prove me wrong by coming up with an evil morality something akin to Stalin's? You see your very definitions of good and evil have been determined by Christianity which of course has been formulated based on the concept of there being a universal Good and a universal Bad as established by a Being far greater than us. So as you are making your 'morality' up you will be oscillating between good and bad but the determinate of said good and bad is not you. For in a man's sight everything appears good. In a man's hind sight he realizes that what he thought was good was actually evil and sometimes what he decided was evil was actually good. But that's the joy of truly making your own up you have no rule by which to judge the outcome before you act. That being said most atheists 'make it up as I go along' types don't actually make it up at all they just follow without acknowledging.

Spin Assassin said...

Nice debate. Keep it up. I wonder why nobody has brought up Abraham yet?
Didn't he get orders direct from God to kill his boy as a test of loyalty?

Anyway Thank you for keeping civil. Nobody ever changed their mind because they were called names or mocked. That was all I wanted to get across. We are all in this together.

Lack of basic respect is a hallmark of the left. I typically respond in kind to their tone. Whatever they talk about, be it religion or abortion or socializing the world with AGW, its always spitting intolerance with the holier than thou liberal crowd.

They deserve nothing but same from us, but for fellow conservatives to treat each other this way would be a shame.

The constant attacks from atheists on religion is a symptom of their overriding liberal views. It is not an atheist trait any more than evil is an atheist trait. I fear the intolerance of men more than I fear religions or lack thereof.

Liberals are extremely intolerant. Its not hard to imagine angry liberals forcing you all to be atheists. They are not able to do this but they are capable of it. They could just as easily force me to worship Gaia every Earth Day, or some other religion.

I guess what I'm saying is save your spitballs for the enemy.

(thanks for reading my rambling ;)

lastchancetosee said...

Anyway Thank you for keeping civil. [...] That was all I wanted to get across. We are all in this together.

... after which admirable sentiment you proceed to call each and every liberal
- intolerant
- lacking in basic respect
- spitting
- shameful and
- "the enemy"

How very ... civil of you. If you view liberals as "the enemy", then there is no need for you to "save your spitballs" because I for one am one of them.


But that's OT. Good of you to bring up Abraham. Now there's a true believer!


Further OT: I like how the word verification of this site often almost, but not quite, generate extremely vulgar words :) .

Spin Assassin said...

@LastChancetosee:

Well I thank you for being civil too. I'm sorry that you are liberal but maybe you can take some wisdom back to your friends at least.

Religious people are not stupid. Conservatives are not stupid. Treat them this way and you will be resisted and repelled in kind. Think this way and you will be easier to defeat as well.

Try to remember the difference between euphemisms and literal language. When I call you an enemy I don't mean you personally of course. Your political ideology was the enemy. Perhaps we can just be adversaries if we brought civility back into the game?

lastchancetosee said...

Try to remember the difference between euphemisms and literal language.

I think you mean either dysphemism or hyperbole. Branding liberals as "the enemy" is hardly an euphemism.

When I call you an enemy I don't mean you personally of course.

That's the problem with such things. You might not mean me personally, but you're still calling me everything you call liberals in general. It's the same as the "I have lot's of gay friends"-excuse for homophobic statements (or "black" and racist statements etc.).
Hypothetical: "Christians are intolerant, brainwashed, homophobic idiots." - Would you be offended? Yes, and rightly so.
"By which I don't mean you, personally, just Christians in general." - Did that make it any better? Any less offended now? I didn't think so.
And that's not even mentioning the "civility" of being only civil to people who agree with your ideology.

You want to be civil, then BE. CIVIL.

But anyway, let's get back on topic, shall we?

Spin Assassin said...

Are you offended that your ideology is is opposite to mine? -because that is what I'm talking about.

I used a word you found incorrect. Sorry I didn't pull out a dictionary for you. Perhaps that is offensive in its own way. Forgive my carelessness. You then kindly corrected my diction, as though by doing so you would appear more correct in your other ideas. We know this does not follow as you are also incorrect in assuming I am a Christian and therefore offended by your false statements.

So anyway, after a big logical loop-de-loop we are back where we started. You missed the point by trying very hard to misunderstand me.

Maybe its impossible for us to reconcile and be "civil" in your definition of the term. My definition of civil when applied to our philosophical disagreements includes mutual respect. Our ideas are mutually exclusive in many respects. They are metaphorical enemies (not really enemies).

I made some generalizations to the effect that people with "enemy ideology" typically are intolerant to their enemies being me. You are not typical, and don't ever change. In fact, if you could change your allies into being more tolerant I think we would all be happier. OK?

Have a good one and stay civil.

lastchancetosee said...

Are you offended that your ideology is is opposite to mine? -because that is what I'm talking about.

Oh, no. I'm not even offended by you calling liberals "intolerant", because even though it is a sweeping generalization and in my opinion incorrect, it is not in itself offensive.

"Lacking in basic respect" or "spitting intolerance" are unnecessary, but I'm not that easy to offend.

Writing a post in which you implore those who share your ideology to be civil with each other because a lack of civility would be shameful while at the same time stating that those who do not share it should not enjoy the same privilege (not to mention insulting them) - that is offensive.
Because what you're saying is that treating others in a disrespectful, uncivil manner is OK if those others are of a different political opinion than yourself. Which is offensive.

(and no, "they are uncivil towards me" is no excuse, because you didn't say "be civil to those who are themselves civil" but "be civil to conservatives".)

Spin Assassin said...

Not exactly but getting closer. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You've shown yourself to be civil, except by accident otherwise. I can therefore be equally civil in return while still in disagreement. You are not a regular liberal. My experience has shown that righteousness has often been the excuse for intolerance by liberals. Intolerance cannot be tolerated. Hostile attacks deserve a hostile response. This is why mutual respect is necessary for civil disagreement.
The intense competition between our ideas is war-like in many ways. Debates can escalate from civil to hostile very easily, so we need to actively push for respect first and hostility as punishment for hostility.

Since you are an atheist you may have encountered Carl Sagan's essay on game theory and the Golden Rule. That is along the same lines as what I'm saying. I like Sagan's modified Golden Rule.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"