Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The sins of forgiveness


According to the Bible we are all sinners. In one context I can agree with that. We all make mistakes, we are prone to doing things we don’t think we ought to do. We sometimes hurt other people. Call it what you may we do wrong. Sometimes we do it unintentionally. Sometimes we do it knowing full well we doing so.

My goal is not to debate or discuss what is right or wrong here. Instead I am addressing the incentive to do right and wrong provided by a secular, rational view compared to the faith-driven, mainly Christian, view.

The Christian will tell us that without God there is no morality. They operate on a very low level of Kohlberg’s scale of moral development in most cases. For them the fear of punishment in the hereafter is what keeps us moral.

If we didn’t believe that we are going to go to hell for our sins then we would sin ever more, harm more people, do more evil, etc. It is the fear of punishment that keeps us from doing evil. That is the moral thinking of a small child. As we grow we realize there are other reasons not to hurt others. In fact we can even accept there are general moral principles applicable to all.

But does this fear of hell keep Christians from evil? Not at all. Even if they were as morally developed as a five year old they would have no reason to avoid sin. They also believe in forgiveness of sin. They say that because Jesus was tortured to death 2000 years ago that their sins are forgiven. They are “as white as snow.”

I don’t believe that at all. I am aware that when I have caused others pain that nothing wipes away that action. What was done was done. I can ask forgiveness from them. But I can’t undo it. I can’t remove the knowledge that I did it. I can’t change the past. I can only change my future. I can make amends to those I hurt but nothing I do will make the hurt vanish as if it never existed.

And I know that. And it is something I am aware of daily. And for me that is a very strong incentive to do right. There have been people I loved very deeply who I have hurt in my life. We’ve all been there. And I regret it constantly. I wish I could I undo the pain but I can’t. So I live with it. I don’t like it. But it is reality and reality is king in my universe.

I also know that those there is no second chance to heal the pain in another life. Once the person is gone they are gone. There is no way to ask their forgiveness then.

All this tells me that it is critical, for my own sanity, to act morally today. If I don’t I am the one who lives with the knowledge of my actions. Even if I “don’t get caught” I still live with the knowledge.

I can’t get on my knees and be “washed in the blood”. The torture of Jesus won’t wipe out any wrongs I have done. I can’t live a lifetime of “sin” and find salvation on my death bed. My sins stay with me for my entire life.

But consider the Christian who knows that whatever sin they commit it is covered “by the blood”. They confess and seek forgiveness and it is given. They get second chances. Screw up once and try again. Screw up again and try again. A few magic words on your deathbed and everything is forgiven and eternal salvation is yours.

No wonder Christians are so often malicious and vicious and so willing to inflict pain and suffering on others. I can’t do that myself. I don’t believe in magic bullets where sins vanish. If I hurt someone that hurt is part of them for as long as they live. And that pain is part of my memory for as long as I live.

It would seem to me that those who believe in the magical forgiveness of God are the ones who have the lest incentive to act morally. They may argue that we atheists are the immoral ones. But we find Christians are more willing to engage in torture than atheist. As I’ve shown they are more likely to be criminals, more likely to get pregnant outside marriage, more likely to have all sorts of problems.

Why? Could it be that one reason for this is that they also feel that no matter what evil they do they can always have the penalty paid by someone else: Jesus.

They often say that God looks on the spread sheet of our life and he sees the evil we have done. And it is so bad that no amount of good can outweigh it. He prepares an invoice for us. It is eternal damnation. But his son comes along and in his own blood writes on the invoice: paid in full.

It is sort of divine socialism where you rack up the costs and somebody else pays the bill. But what is the lesson of the welfare state? That when you separate consumption from payment people over consume. When the penalty for your sins are paid for by someone else you will tend to sin more not less. The same incentives that screw up how people act financially also screw up how people act morally.

If Jesus, not you, is responsible for the moral debts you rack up you will overspend and rack up more debts than you would otherwise.

I don’t overspend my credit card because I’m the one who has to pay it. I am also careful about what I may do that harms others since I’m the one who has to live with it. Without someone else paying my debts for me I have to watch what I do carefully. But give a teen a credit card that daddy will pay, no matter what, and what how reckless they become with their spending. Christian morality is much the same thing.

Also consider this other incentive that works against morality within the Christian framework. Punishment for sins today in a life hereafter is a very weak incentive to do right. If you don’t have to pay the bills you rack up now for several years you will overspend.

Notice how governments that lend students money for university encourage heavy debt by the students. As the debts get heavier they make it easier to borrow because the funds are “more needed”. The result is growing debt burdens on students not lessening ones even though they argue that their plans will reduce debt. Students don’t see how quickly the time will come for them to repay those debts. So they max out their credit limits since $1 today is worth more to them than $1 in five years.

As I see life we pay for our sins from the moment we commit them. We are the ones who live with the knowledge of what we have done. For the secularist the punishment begins immediately. For the religionist it won’t start for lifetime and even then, if they pray for forgiveness before they die, they won’t have to pay it back at all.

This is nothing but a system which encourages evil not good.

15 Comments:

Blogger Publius II said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 12, 2006

 
Blogger Publius II said...

Greetings. It's been a while since I've posted here. Your post shows a great misunderstanding of Biblical teaching and doctrine. I'd like to clarify a few of your points where you're mistaken about what we actually believe (or at least what the scriptures teach, and what Christians historically have taught for the last 2000 years, and what the Jews taught for much longer than that). I'm not saying that there aren't Christians out there who believe exactly as you have said, but it should be pointed out that they as well, have been misinformed and misundertand the priciples of the Scriptures.

"For them the fear of punishment in the hereafter is what keeps us moral."

This statement is contrary to what is taught. We do not teach "be good or else you will be punished." I think that the Catholic doctrines may teach something along this line, but the historic Protestant understanding of the scriptures goes something like, "You have been shown mercy. Therefore be perfect, as your God is perfect." This is, and should be the driving force behind a Christian's attempts at living a moral life. We attempt this life of what we call "godliness" out of sheer gratitude for the mercy and the grace that we've been shown. We struggle to come along side the walk of God and walk with Him in his perfection, knowing full well that we will never fully achieve this until we die, but nonetheless, it is our act of worship that we try to live obediently.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with punishment in the hereafter. The punishment has been paid.

"If we didn’t believe that we are going to go to hell for our sins then we would sin ever more, harm more people, do more evil, etc. It is the fear of punishment that keeps us from doing evil. That is the moral thinking of a small child. As we grow we realize there are other reasons not to hurt others. In fact we can even accept there are general moral principles applicable to all."

Again, I'm sure there are probably people who believe this, but it is as you've said, a childish view of life. And once again, this is not the Christian teaching that is represented in the Scriptures.

We still very much understand that there are secondary reasons not to hurt others, and yes when we hurt others, we're know that God has forgiven us, but this does not excuse us from the harm that has been caused to the victim in question. Just because there is no metaphysical consequence, does not effect any temporal effect that is the natural consequences of our actions.

"I can’t get on my knees and be “washed in the blood”. The torture of Jesus won’t wipe out any wrongs I have done. I can’t live a lifetime of “sin” and find salvation on my death bed. My sins stay with me for my entire life."

The temporal consequences of sin may very well stay with you until even AFTER you die. In other words, the people we have hurt who out-live us, may well feel the pain that we've caused them until far after we're buried and gone. But this is not what the old-timey church cliche "washed in the blood" refers to.

What all the cliches that you've thrown out mean, simply put, is the same as a court acquittal from a judge. Someone commits assault, but the judge throws out the case on some technicality. The victim stands in the courtroom and hears the judge's decision and is still very much hurt psychologically or even physically by the crime and the criminal, and yet the criminal walks free, acquitted of his crime.

At this point the criminal has a choice. He can continue to live a life of crime, or because he was given a life of freedom, he can live his life out of gratitude and take advantage of the grace and mercy he was shown. He cannot, however, take back the very real effects of his previous crime, though he does not suffer the punishment for it.

It is similar to how we, as Christians, understand a principle we call "justification." We have been justified, or declared innocent, in God's high court, so to speak. Though we must live with the temporal effects of our sin, the judicial punishment has been taken by Christ. It is our faith in that justification which gives us life, because we can now live a second chance, so to speak. We've been freed from the eternal consequences of our sin, and so we live a life of worship by trying to immitate the perfectness of God.

Does that make more sense to you now?

October 12, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

It is almost impossible to respond to such long comments without additional long comments and the comments section is not well built for that which is why I encourage short comments making one point, allowing a reply, and then another comment making another. It is hard for readers to follow such long discussions.

First off I was not discussing Biblican teaching whatever you think it is. I was discussing how Christians think. If you want to debate their theology go debate them. Whether they are "Biblically sound" or not is not pertinent to my discussion of how their beliefs effect them. And most Christians simply don't hold to your theology (of course I suspect you would deny they are Christians at all).

And I was addressing a comment I've heard from a hell of a lot of Christians of your more fundie variety. They all say that atheists can't be moral because they don't believe in a life after this one. I've heard it from evangelicals, fundamentalists, Calvinists, Baptist, Pentecostals, ad nauseum. You may argue they are being inconsistent with their own theolgy but again if so argue with them not me. I didn't make it up. It is their argument.

You repeatedly admit there are Christians who believe what I laid out. So my discussion of what these people believe is accurate and this appears as an excuse to preach your doctrines here and not address what I actually said. (Which you basically concede does describe what some Christians believe just not the Christians who "get it right:", i.e. agree with you.)

I really don't need a discussion of justification, I did go to seminary remember. I was not discussing that I was discussing how this mentality effects some Christians.

October 12, 2006

 
Blogger luggage79 said...

"I am aware that when I have caused others pain that nothing wipes away that action. What was done was done. I can ask forgiveness from them. But I can’t undo it."
How true! The probelm is that most Christians don't even try to undo the pain they've inflicted. They argue that God will forgive them and thus they don't have to make up for things themselves. In my point of view, asking God for forgiveness when you haven't even tried to make it up to the people you hurt is one of the most hypocrite things to do. It is the most convenient way of not having to be responsible for what you've done. It makes life very easy, and, as you pointed out, it makes being evil much more accepted.
Plus, slightly off the topic, I've noticed that having done "evil" or morally wrong things helps you a lot in the Christian community - it gives you a lot to come out about to your Christian friends and you can just make a big fuss out of how the Lord is testing you and how weak and unworthy you are and yadda yadda yadda...

October 12, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Luggage79: While I have not blogged regarding it you are correct. In my years within fundamentalism there was this constant spectacle of being giving their "testimonies" which emphasized how awful they really were, even if they had to invent some facts along the way. This made them easy prey for con artists who would invent incredible stories to pass off on the believers. So you had false stories like "Michelle Remembers" where the woman claimed she had been a Satanist killing babies, which turned out to be false of course. She invented an entire past and was embraced by the church which paid her when she went around speaking. Mike Warnke made millions off the believers telling them lies they wanted to hear. I know one very prominent atheist writer who kidded around saying how if he "converted" for a year he could make millions going around giving his testimony. And he's right just too honest to do it. Over and over the Christians fall for such con jobs because they desperately want "proof" of what they believe even if the proof has to be manufactured.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger Publius II said...

Yeah, it's very much like the secular education circles that will embrace the first hint of some bit of "evidence" that evolution is true as soon as some huge "discovery" has been made, and celebrate such finds with vigor, claiming that this latest find could be the one that finally fills in all the gaps or at least a great portion of them. Then when they take the time to actually study things further, it's always the same... those same media outlets brush what they had claimed under the rug, and if any follow up is done at all on it, it's completely ignored about the fact that what they initially claimed wasn't true at all. It happens all the time. I see at least 1 story every week or so, of some remarkable find that will solidify Darwin's claims of "goo-to-you" evolution.

So I think it's just the tendancy of "people" to fall for such con jobs because they desperately want proof of what they believe. Don't single out Christians, just because you have some vendetta against some group of people that let you down somehow in the past.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger CLS said...

Publius can you show me one individual who thinks that one new piece of evidence "finally fills in all the gaps or at least a great portion of them."? I have never heard such a thing from any article I have ever read on recent discoveries that fill in some gaps. In fact most gaps will probably never be filled in though enough are filled in to validate the theory. The combination of events necessary to preserve the fossile evidence is rather staggering though we do find many such examples. But they are a tiny, tiny proportion of the evidence that is destroyed by the natural process of life.

Typical of so many individuals infected with religious think you are distorting the theory of evolution and what is said about it.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger Publius II said...

I'll be happy to elaborate. One of the most significant examples of this sort of thing, was with the specimen known as the Toumai skull (Sahelanthropus tchadensis). When initially reported, the fossil was touted as “the oldest human ancestor” and “the most significant find in living memory.” However, a few days later, alternate interpretations of the fossil came to light with the suggestion that it may have been a female gorilla. Here's the link to a 2002 article concerning this: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/13/1026185124750.html

A second example is the more recent discovery of what they are calling "Lucy's child," which is the fossilized remains of an approximately three-year-old female child that was clearly identified as an australopithecine. The alleged 3.3-million-year-old find, nicknamed Selam, has created quite a stir. I give this example because ever since "Lucy" was discovered in 1974, she has been touted as the earliest human ancestor and many scientists believed Lucy to be a transitional intermediate ancestor between humans and chimpanzees. BUT the evidence within the Lucy specimen has often been conflicting, if not incomplete. This newer "Lucy's child" will solidify quite a few things once research is completed. You can find the details here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/09/20/human.ancestor.ap/index.html

As in the first example, with this new "Lucy's child" specimen, I expect we'll be seeing more and more of the initial opinions of both the newer find, and the original Lucy specimen (now that a more complete specimen is available of the same species), taken back into debate and even retracted.

These are just two examples of the this happening with regards to new finds in the ape-to-human linkage, but this same sort of behavior in the scientific community is quite prominent with new discoveries all throughout the evolutionary tree.

I would, however, like to hear why and how you think I've "distorted the theory of evolution and what is said about it" though.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger CLS said...

Your orginal claim was that one discovery or possible discovery "could be the one that finally fills in all the gaps". I said quite specifically that no one has ever claimed that one discovery fills in all the gaps or event that one discovery can fill in all the gaps. You have not produced a quote yet saying showing anyone of any prominence in the evolutionary field claiming that one discovery fills in "all" the gaps. You said all in your post not that one discovery may be significiant or important. That is not the same thing as claiming that it can fill "in all the gaps." Your statement was very definitive that someone claimed one discovery could actuall fill in every gap in evolutionary evidence. That is oulandish and I called you on that. In reply you bring up two incidents neither of which had anyone claiming that the possible discovery filled "all the gaps". So did you exaggerate your accusation when you said "all the gaps" or not?

Second, it is not necessary to fill in all the gaps for the theory to be sound and it will probably be impossible to fill in all the gaps since we are talking about thousands of species over millions of years (unless you are one of those sects that believe in a 7000 year old earth).

In addition science is a process where discoveries are announced, examined, challenged and either confirmed or discarded. It is a discovery process and not a faith claim to knowledge based on nothing but some dusty old book filled with contradictions. The scientific process counts as very important the disproving of theories. Fundamentalists of course never disprove anything and are not open to disproving anything. They accept their doctrines on faith.

Finally the disproving of one theory does not make alternative theories right. That an unidentified flying object thought to be a weather balloon is proven not to be a weather balloon doesn't make it a flying saucer with aliens. That on possible link in the evoluionary chain is disproven through the scientific method does not automatically mean the creations nonsense and god dementia is true.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

It would seem most improbably that any scientist would make the claim that one discover could fill all the gaps, which is the accusation that Publius made in his post. And so far he has offered no evidence to back up his accusation. What he produces is someone saying that one possible find was important but not claiming it fills all the gaps.

Even to discuss filling all the gaps would indicate a woefull lack of understanding here. There is no way to know how many transitionary species that could have existed. There is no way for evolution to tell us if there were 10 species involved in one gap or 100 species. Only as fossiles are discovered and plugged into the rightful spot on the chain do we know that there was a speicies in that "gap".

Now the fundamentalists have claimed that no trasitionary species have been found. This is either a lie (if they know the truth) or a lack of knowledge (if they don't). But certainly transitionary species have been found and we've blogged about them here.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger Publius II said...

I thought it was obvious what I was saying. I was making the comparison between the want of Christians to grasp on to anything that would seem to substantiate their beliefs, true or not, with the same want of those who follow the faith of humanism and evolutionary theory.

The double standard here is unbelievable. I was obviously exaggerating when I said "all the gaps." It's much the same when godlesszone implies that the crap he writes about is what all Christians believe and the way all Christians behave. He's somehow permitted this gross misrepresentation, and I am nitpicked with a blatant exaggeration?

The point was that the behavior of grasping onto unsubstantiated claims in order to boost one's own beliefs is HUMAN behavior which manifests itself in many arenas, and very prominently in the media covering secular evolutionary science.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Publius: I think your comparison a bit off, actuall a lot off. First science is a process of proving and disproving alternative theories. Like capitalism, where the loses are as important as the profits, the disproving is as important as the proving. No such process exists in theology because theology is impervious to proofs and relies on faith. One could show the absurdity of the idea that three are one and one is three and the Jesus addicts would still mouth a loyalty to the idea of a Trinity. Why? Because there is no role for logic in their theology. Thus there is no ability to disprove it them based on the premises they hold.

You seem to think that because a scientist proposes one claims which is disproved that this is the same "faith" that the God mongers exhibit when they continue believing in virgin births and walking on water. They are very different kinds of claims. The scientific ones are open to refutation while the faith driven nonsense is not.

And I don't believe I have every said "all Christians" believe anything. I can't think of anything which all Christians do believe. Your religion is so clear that you have thousands of sects all of whom are screaming the others are wrong about some particular minute point of nonsense. Often I speak about very specific kinds of theomaniacs. So if speaking about Mormons I will say Mormons or about fundie nutters I will speak about fundies. When I speak about the trinity nonsense obviously that applies to those who buy into that and not to the Jesus Only Pentecostals or the Unitarians who don't believe in a trinity.

If it was obvious you were exaggerating whey didn't you just admit that when called on it the first time instead of trying to prove the very thing you were exaggerating? It would have been quite simple to say that your comment was not true. In fact you didn't exaggerate at all. You said that some people believe that X finding fills all the gaps. In fact NO people say that. Now an exaggeration would be me saying I have $5000 in my wallet when I have $500. You need something to exaggerate. Claiming I have $5000 when I have zero is not exaggerating it is lying. I have nothing to exaggerate. Making up the claim that some people claim any finding will fill all the gaps is not an exaggeration. If you had one evolutionary scientist who said it and then pretended that several had that would be exaggeration. To pretend some have when none have is inventing.

The scientists did not grasp onto any unsubstantiated claims. They presented a thesis not a conclusion. They would state this "might" prove X. Or that it "may" be the most important find. And then the scientific process begins testing the thesis. Presenting a thesis that is open to validation is not grasping an unsubstantiated claim at all. I contend you are distorting the scientific process intentionally and trying to put it on the same plane as faith statements which are very, very different.

October 13, 2006

 
Blogger Publius II said...

First off, you are completely wrong on several points, but since you don't like long posts that explain why you're wrong, I won't nitpick and bicker over non-essential points, as you are doing above (again showing the double standard).

These claims that the media continuously makes over scientific finds when it comes to evolution in particular, are most certainly what would be called "sensationalist," not simply the proposition of a thesis in the scientific process.

My point stands that the want to grasp onto claims that bolster one's own beliefs is a natural behavior common to all men, not to one particular group of people who happen to be one you don't like for whatever reason.

And as for your claim that you do not generalize? At least 3 times in this very article of yours, you label something "Christian," when in fact it is not. In fact at the very beginning of this article, you label what you're describing as the "Christian view." It is nothing of the sort.

October 16, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Publius wrote: "And as for your claim that you do not generalize? At least 3 times in this very article of yours, you label something "Christian," when in fact it is not. In fact at the very beginning of this article, you label what you're describing as the "Christian view." It is nothing of the sort. " So let us look at this. First it is false that I said this was "the christian view." I said it was the "faith driven, mainly Christian, view" That makes means some people hold this who are not Christians while most the people who hold it are Christian. But I don't say that all Jesus addicts hold this view at all. You misquote me.

You assert this view is not Christian. Again please argue with you fellow Jesus addicts not with me. Christian's do hold this view. You, as a typical fundamentalists denoucne as unChristian any view you don't hold. Of course you would say the Bible is your standard but it is a book that anyone can make anything out of and have. You betray your own fundamentalism when you insist that a view held by other Christians (of course I assume you would say they are not Christians at all) is not a Christian view.

You also change contexts again. You originally had said that people claimed that one piece of evidence could "fill all the gaps". You were challenge on that and admitted you exaggerated that. Now you change it to the media makes sensationalistic claims -- which they do all the time on everything. But that was not the point of contention originally at all. But the media, faults aside, are certainly closer to the facts that Bible monger inventing young earths, resurrections, virgin births and an almost unlimited list of nonsense.

October 16, 2006

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Publius wrote: "And as for your claim that you do not generalize? At least 3 times in this very article of yours, you label something "Christian," when in fact it is not. In fact at the very beginning of this article, you label what you're describing as the "Christian view." It is nothing of the sort. " So let us look at this. First it is false that I said this was "the christian view." I said it was the "faith driven, mainly Christian, view" That makes means some people hold this who are not Christians while most the people who hold it are Christian. But I don't say that all Jesus addicts hold this view at all. You misquote me.

You assert this view is not Christian. Again please argue with you fellow Jesus addicts not with me. Christian's do hold this view. You, as a typical fundamentalists denoucne as unChristian any view you don't hold. Of course you would say the Bible is your standard but it is a book that anyone can make anything out of and have. You betray your own fundamentalism when you insist that a view held by other Christians (of course I assume you would say they are not Christians at all) is not a Christian view.

You also change contexts again. You originally had said that people claimed that one piece of evidence could "fill all the gaps". You were challenge on that and admitted you exaggerated that. Now you change it to the media makes sensationalistic claims -- which they do all the time on everything. But that was not the point of contention originally at all. But the media, faults aside, are certainly closer to the facts that Bible monger inventing young earths, resurrections, virgin births and an almost unlimited list of nonsense.

October 16, 2006

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

 

Web Counters Religion Blog Top Sites