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12:25 AM
@Mr.Bultitude Of course, I'm always happy to answer just about any question aimed in my general direction. It's what I do. But could you make it seem relevant and non-random outside of the context in which you originally asked it?
12:53 AM
@LeeWoofenden Of course. :)
Could a mod check and see if there are any questions on this site that would be suitable for using on the Tour? I understand that there is a tool available to mods to check for questions that meet the criteria.
1:25 AM
@Nathaniel Aside from the Search functionality?
@El'endiaStarman Yes, it sounds like it: meta.sqa.stackexchange.com/questions/354/…
OH. I was confused as to what "Tour" meant.
Well, looks like there is exactly one available question:
Q: What is the difference between belief and faith, from a Protestant perspective?

DeekeyI want to know what is the difference between belief and faith from a Protestant perspective. Can anyone explain this to me?

Interesting, thanks... so Chris's and H3br3wHamm3r81's answers would appear in the tour then. Not exactly our best work...
I'll put some thoughts together in a meta post soon to see if it would make sense to go out of our way to make something suitable there. Thanks for your help. @El'endiaStarman
No problem. Should I go ahead and "choose" it? I'm pretty sure the choice can be changed later.
@El'endiaStarman Tough call but I guess I would leave it... the unicorns might be arguably better (!) than those two answers. Plus I don't know how others feel about giving Protestantism the tour question... probably worth hashing out on meta.
2 hours later…
3:40 AM
Well, I'm here.
Hello! :)
You seem to misunderstand the term "faith".
It represents where I place my trust, not that I necessarily take it to be true for it's own sake.
That's the sense I got too. Then again, "faith" is one of those words that everyone has some idea of what it means but there's little agreement on that.
That's true, too.
"Universal dictionary" would be nice :P
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ I don't believe you can have trust without uncertainty.
3:42 AM
@orlp I trust that this chair will support me. I have, yes, some uncertainty that it will collapse, but very little.
Or perhaps I have none at all?
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ At that point it is reasoned knowledge, not trust.
That one word changes the complexity of the statement :P
@orlp I can infer and deduce certain facts that point rather straightly to the existence of a supernatural entity, and that said entity is indeed the God of Christianity.
...yep, maybe I really should finish that blog post.
Yeah, I'm not too solid either.
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ I contest that that reasoning is either 1) not sound 2) has an unspoken assumption of this deity, or both.
3:45 AM
Can't wait for senior thesis defense though.
I think that "facts" are nowhere as useful as...hmm. Evidence of a different kind. Transformed lives.
@orlp My teacher says that we, with different worldviews, assume different premises, which of course lead to our own conclusions.
Hi @PhiNotPi
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ Just above you claimed that your conclusion of a supernatural entity is based on inferring and deducing from facts, not premises.
@orlp I prefixed it with "My teacher says". I'm merely introducing a different perspective.
@orlp And one must assume that their inference is true for it to be used.
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ This makes no sense to me.
3:49 AM
@orlp That is to be expected :P
I'm tired and not the best defender atm
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ Ah, but you were the attacker - not the defender.
You were insulted, and I still don't know why.
I've done this sort of thing for a while, and every conversation nags me :P
Sort of like how when (object x you like) is made fun of, you might be ticked. That might not do it for you, but it does it for me, that being my personality.
Methinks that suggests a slight misordering of priorities. :P
3:51 AM
It probably has something to do with teenager-ness
Oh wait, nevermind, I know why I'm ticked. I'm looking for something to be ticked at >_<
wth is wrong with me
Comedy and parody is very important.
If you can not handle the mere thought of being wrong, you surely do not deserve to be right, as you have not properly thought out your position.
The latter accusation is true.
I haven't organized my thoughts into a coherent argument.
Waiting three years might fix that :P
In science, we pose a hypothesis, and then try our best to prove it wrong.
If we can not prove it wrong, then - and only then, will we consider that it might be true.
First, do not presume that I am a foreigner of science. That is insulting.
I'm merely making a narrative.
I have spoken to believers in the past, that have thought about their faith a lot, they told me.
But when I asked them if they ever considered being wrong, they acted shocked, and said of course not.
This is the point I'm trying to make.
Oh, I've considered being wrong. I wasn't always a Christian, y'know.
@orlp okay thanks for clarifying.
I read very recently that the falsifiability criterion isn't really working anymore for distinguishing pseudoscience from science. People in fields usually labeled pseudoscience are starting to make falsifiable claims, for one.
@CᴏɴᴏʀO'Bʀɪᴇɴ I actually did not know this.
@El'endiaStarman Oh, rhetorical "y'know"
@El'endiaStarman That's bollocks though.
Falsifiability is one requirement, not the only thing.
3:57 AM
@orlp How do you mean?
Ah, yes, certainly, but it's been very emphasized over the other aspects.
Oh, "peer reviewed journals" was another criterion, I remember now. And, well, those are starting to show up for a couple "pseudoscience" fields...
@El'endiaStarman That was never a criterion on my list.
I wasn't saying it was.
An idea must be resistant to critical review.
I got this information from a book titled "Newton's Apple and Other Myths of Science", which is a collection of essays by expert science historians.
@orlp 2000 years seams plently long enough ;)
4:00 AM
If all your peers are crackpots, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Isaac Newton was one of them, if I recall correctly...
I gotta go. Peace out. Nice discussing with you @orlp!
@El'endiaStarman Hit me, why should one become a christian?
microwaves popcorn in most passive-aggressive way possible
@orlp First, I'm going to note that I make a distinction between being a member of the religion Christianity, and seeking a relationship with the God of Christianity. The former, I would call being a cultural or hereditary Christian, so to speak.
I'll answer for the latter.
"Because He loves me."
4:13 AM
One first needs to be convinced He exists, before we can attach emotions/motives to this entity.
Then, I'm sorry, I can't truly answer your question further. You're convinced He doesn't, and I can't convince you that He does.
@El'endiaStarman That's not true.
I'm convinced I have no possible way of knowing if He does or doesn't.
So, that would be the strong form of agnosticism, right?
So I see no reason to presume that He does.
@El'endiaStarman Correct.
Claiming that there is no god is (in my opinion) equally unfounded as claiming there is one.
@orlp You might be interested in my article, "Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?" It's about the existence (or not) of spiritual reality rather than of God, but it deals with some of the same general issues. Incidentally, I don't feel any particular need to convince you that God and spirit are real if you're not particularly interested in being convinced.
4:26 AM
@LeeWoofenden I was under the impression that christians believed I needed to be saved.
(and that it is part of their duty to do so)
Which I do believe, but I don't think I could successfully convince you. The vast majority of conversions happen for reasons other than facts and logic.
Which I think is , by the way.
4:42 AM
@LeeWoofenden After reading your article, I'm not convinced. Your viewpoint is solipsist, but uses wordplay to equal 'internal' to 'spiritual'. Then you use that to attempt to include the spiritual plane into our internal universe, arbitrarily deciding that spiritual experiences and viewpoints are 'more real' than metaphysical ones.
Sorry for the (harsh) criticism - I have a tendency to be (too) direct.
On the topic of solipsism, I have no answer to it.
As a strong agnost (in @El'endiaStarman 's words) I have no founded basis to deny it.
5:05 AM
@orlp My version of Christianity is quite a bit different than that of most other Christians you'll encounter. See, for example, my article, "Do Atheists Go to Heaven?"
@orlp No problem. I only said that you might be interested in the article, not that it would convince you. However, my view is not actually solipsist. The article uses solipsism as a counter to materialism. But it does not actually affirm solipsism. Further, what may appear "arbitrary" to you appears self-evident to me. The only things of whose existence we can be entirely sure are the "internal" things of our own mind. And those are not material in nature.
@LeeWoofenden We can't be entirely sure of the internal things of our own mind either.
@orlp We can be sure that they exist in some form, because we experience them directly. That's so even if we can't be sure they exist in the precise form in which we experience them.
Your memory is not infallible, in fact, is easily shown to be impressionable and forgeable. Mind-altering drugs are also an easy way to disprove this.
@LeeWoofenden We can be sure that our consciousness exists.
@orlp The fact that a reality can be distorted does not show that it is unreal; only that we may not always perceive it correctly, as it actually is.
@orlp Right. That's the basic point I am making.
@LeeWoofenden So why is this distortion applicable to metaphysical events, but are spiritual (e.g. near-death experiences) exempt from this in your essay?
5:12 AM
@orlp What distinction are you making between "metaphysical" and "spiritual"?
This is the wordplay I'm referring to.
@LeeWoofenden You equate internal to spiritual.
@orlp I also equate metaphysical to spiritual, so I'm not sure what distinction you're making between them.
@LeeWoofenden Metaphysical in this case are your brain and your senses.
@orlp I would call your brain and your senses physical, not metaphysical. Why do you define them as metaphysical?
I'm not a native speaker, maybe I don't fully understand the implications of metaphysical.
In this case I just meant physical.
5:15 AM
@orlp Oh, well metaphysical is usually used to speak of abstract, philosophical subjects.
@LeeWoofenden The reason I say your view is solipsist is because you reject everything as non-axiomatic except the internal.
@orlp So if I understand what you're asking: We experience our own consciousness directly. We experience physical objects indirectly. So we can have more confidence that consciousness exists than we can that physical objects exist.
@LeeWoofenden I have to make a very careful distinction here.
I agree that we can agree on that we experience our own consciousness.
@orlp Not really. I simply observe that we can have greater confidence in the existence of consciousness than we can of the existence of material reality.
I however do not believe that that experience is necessarily truthful, only the fact that it is happening.
In an analogy, I can give you a picture, and we can both agree that it is a photo - it exists.
5:19 AM
@orlp But if it is happening, then we know something is there, whether or not we perceive it correctly. And we can know that at least some definite element of it is in the nature of consciousness, which in itself is experienced as a non-material reality.
However, that does not mean that either of us believes that the photo contains a picture of a real event.
@LeeWoofenden I have yet to see a consciousness outside of a material reality.
The basic point is that we have direct experience of our own consciousness, whatever its nature may be, but we have only indirect experience of material reality, whatever its nature may be.
@LeeWoofenden I disagree.
We have direct experience of the existence of our own consciousness.
"I think, therefore I am."
@orlp You don't know that there is a material reality. You simply have to assume that. You experience it only in your conscious mind.
"I think, therefore my thoughts are coherent."
5:22 AM
As I say in the article, I think that the assumption that material reality exists objectively out there is a pretty good one. But it's still an assumption, and all evidence of it is indirect.
@LeeWoofenden You don't know that your thoughts (which only exist internally) are coherent, real, or even relevant.
@orlp True. That's also an assumption. But it doesn't matter to the basic argument. Because we do know that whatever the nature of our thoughts may be, we have them, therefore something in the nature of thought and consciousness must exist.
@LeeWoofenden I can agree on that.
Oh, I was referring to the "coherent" part. They must be real in some sense, because we experience them.
The whole point of the argument is to break down the idea that material reality is somehow more "definite" or "proven" or "reliably real" than non-material reality. There's no real basis for such an assertion.
@LeeWoofenden Hold on one second.
For your internal beliefs, sure.
5:26 AM
@PhiNotPi I'll take some of that popcorn if you don't mind. ;)
However, when I have to decide on my behavior of my body in the physical world, that argument does not hold.
The fact that decision is being made implies the existence of this physical world.
hands popcorn to El'endia
If the physical world did not exist, I would not be making that decision.
@orlp Not necessarily. Have you watched the movie Matrix? It's quite possible that the whole thing is in our mind, individually or collectively, and that "my body in the physical world" is really a virtual reality.
However, I can not use this argument to justify my preferences in the spiritual plane to influence my behavior in the physical world.
As the physical world does not imply the existence of a spiritual plane.
@LeeWoofenden Irrelevant. When someone in the matrix has to make a decision for his avatar in the matrix, he can assume that the avatar exists, otherwise there would be no such decision.
5:29 AM
@orlp Incidentally, a recent scientific theory suggests that what we perceive as a three-dimensional universe may actually be something like a holographic projection of a two-dimensional universe. Apparently this would make our current understanding of the laws of physics work better than if reality is three-dimensional.
However, someone making a decision for his avatar in the matrix does not imply the existence of a 'meta-layer' that he needs to take into account.
@orlp But the "avatar" is itself a virtual reality. It does not physically exist at all.
@LeeWoofenden I fail to see its relevance to this discussion. My argument holds regardless of the topology of the universe its applied to.
@orlp What is your argument?
That I can justify the existence of this physical world to determine my actions in this physical world, but not justify the existence of a spiritual plane for my actions in this physical world.
5:31 AM
@orlp And how do you come to that conclusion?
@orlp And once again, how do you know that there actually is a physical world?
@LeeWoofenden That doesn't matter.
@orlp So if the universe is entirely non-physical, that doesn't change your viewpoint at all?
There are 4 scenarios:
1. The physical world exists, and I assume it exists when determining my actions.
2. The physical world does not exist, and I assume it exists when determining my actions.
3. The physical world exists, and I assume it does not exist when determining my actions.
4. The physical world does not exist, and I assume it does not exist when determining my actions.
If the physical world does not exist, my actions in this world are irrelevant, as they can never happen. So we can eliminate 2 and 4:
1. The physical world exists, and I assume it exists when determining my actions.
3. The physical world exists, and I assume it does not exist when determining my actions.
3 is nonsensical, as we already determined that if my actions are relevant, the physical world must exist.
This leaves only one option:
@orlp You can't just arbitrarily eliminate both scenarios in which the physical world doesn't exist. That's assuming the result.
1. The physical world exists, and I assume it exists when determining my actions.
@LeeWoofenden I'm not eliminating them - I just note that the decision in those scenarios is irrelevant.
So any strategy is valid.
5:35 AM
@orlp Your "logic" is not at all convincing. You're basically saying, "Nothing except assuming that the physical world exists makes any sense. But that simply doesn't follow from your arguments. It's assuming the result.
@LeeWoofenden No?
I did not assume the result.
I listed all possibilities.
Examine number 4 more closely, for example.
I would say, rather, that it's a pragmatic and useful principle to assume that the physical world exists, because our experience is that it does, and that it obeys certain laws that are generally reliable. So we might as well assume that it exists and act accordingly.
To reiterate, the above scenarios are studied to determine a logical strategy for optimizing my decisions in a world.
And to cut to the chase, I do think that the material world exists as physical reality. I simply think that it is actually less real than spiritual reality, which, in turn, is less real than divine reality (which is God).
@LeeWoofenden I think that your (and mine) belief of whether it actually exists or not is vastly less interesting than the logic (if any) to reach that conclusion.
5:38 AM
@orlp Yes, so they are pragmatic. But that still says nothing about whether the physical world actually exists objectively out there. And it still doesn't overcome the fact that we can have more confidence that our consciousness exists than we can that the physical universe exists.
Pragmatically speaking, it's good to assume that brick walls are solid. But we know that in fact they are mostly empty space.
@LeeWoofenden My point is that it is illogical to act as if the world does not exist, as in that case your actions would be irrelevant anyway.
As the world does not exist, your actions do not exist, and therefore your decision in that hypothetical scenario never occurs.
@orlp But once again, that's based on pragmatism, not on any "proof" that physical reality actually is what we think it is.
The most we can say is that whatever it is, it seems to reliably obey certain laws that we can define, which makes it possible for us to navigate it fairly reliably.
@LeeWoofenden But it is useful pragmatism, as it leads to an optimal strategy regardless of the true nature of our being.
However - and this is my point - the existence of the spiritual plane (unlike the physical world) is orthogonal to this strategy.
@orlp In a temporary sense, yes. But what if spiritual reality actually does exist, and our existence continues on beyond death on that plane of reality? That may not seem very practical now, but if we find ourselves still in existence after death, but not living in the material world, it will suddenly seem a lot more pragmatic!
@LeeWoofenden I can indeed use that logic to determine that I should assume the spiritual plane exists if I were to find myself in it.
5:42 AM
@orlp My argument is that we're in it right now, and it's called our mind.
If I was in a dream in which I am floating around in heaven, it is in my benefit to assume that that dream is real, and I should act accordingly.
(For the record, this is why I do (unlike solipsism) reject nihilism.)
Further, what takes place in our mind heavily influences, and often determines what takes place in our physical, bodily experience. Our mind drives and determines our physical actions to a great extent.
So understanding the human mind and its nature is not just a theoretical, impractical exercise.
@LeeWoofenden You speak of a body and a mind as if you have proof that they are separate.
I would just like to take a moment that that too, is an assumption.
@orlp "Proof" is a slippery concept. But it seems clear enough to me that consciousness is of a different nature than physical objects.
@LeeWoofenden Not to me at all.
I thought we were clear on the fact that we have no damn idea about the nature of things.
5:45 AM
If we reflect upon it, we do experience an inner reality and an outer reality, which are often quite different from one another.
Other than their existence.
@orlp I never said that. I only said that we can have more confidence that consciousness exists than we can that material reality exists.
1 min ago, by Lee Woofenden
@orlp "Proof" is a slippery concept. But it seems clear enough to me that consciousness is of a different nature than physical objects.
And I don't actually think we're so ignorant about the nature of existence. At least, speaking for myself, I have some pretty clear ideas about the nature of existence.
I absolutely do not.
5:47 AM
@orlp Well, that, at least, is a better starting point than thinking you've already got it all figured out. ;-)
@LeeWoofenden Maybe I should word it stronger.
I'm a strong agnost, and I believe you can't know the true nature of your own existence.
@LeeWoofenden For the record, all this is fine and dandy, and already confirms my previous thoughts that I can not rationally deny Christianity (which as an agnost, I don't), however it does not give me any further leads on why I should confirm Christianity.
@orlp I understand. But I think that's a very self-limiting viewpoint. Holding to it will ensure that you will never know the nature of your own existence.
I happen to think that we can know the nature of our existence.
@LeeWoofenden What if you're in the matrix but you are not offered a pill?
@orlp And about Christianity, as I suggested before, I have a vastly different view of Christianity than most versions of Christianity you've probably encountered so far.
I tend to get into a lot of arguments with the other Christians here. ;-)
@LeeWoofenden So far your arguments have mostly been anti-atheist (attempting to show the foolishness of saying 'there is no god'), but not pro-theist, at least from my reading.
"It's possible." is not the same as "It is happening, and here's how I can convince you."
5:54 AM
@orlp For a person with a rational, scientific, and logical mind, aside from some spiritual experience such as an NDE, which can't be relied upon to happen, probably the most "convincing" thing would be to be presented with a coherent, sensible, and reasonable picture of a universe in which God and spirit exist.
In my experience, most hard atheists are such because the theological systems they've encountered so far have been irrational and even downright insane when viewed in the light of rationality.
So they reject God because the God they've been presented is a horrible, unjust tyrant, or at minimum is simply not believable to a thinking person.
I view the doctrines of traditional Christianity as the greatest cause of atheism in the Western world.
@LeeWoofenden And I'd argue that depending on your cultural and social influences, Buddha, Yahweh or Allah will be equally coherent, sensible and reasonable. As will the flying spaghetti monster. Or orlpism. To a rational, scientific and logical mind all these are possible, but there is no argument to prefer one over the other.
So, why christianity?
@orlp Once again, I believe that's because no really coherent system has been presented to such minds. The flying spaghetti monster is just plain silly. Bhudda is not bad, but is from an earlier age, when intellectual requirements were different. I'm not familiar with orlpism, so I can't comment on that.
Of course, if a mind is not interested in a coherent God and spirit based system, then it won't even listen in the first place. And unfortunately, many such minds have been presented with so many irrational and insane theological systems that they're no longer interested. They assume that the next one will be just as bad as the last 100, and that it's a waste of time to even bother hearing yet another one.
@orlp True Christianity (which is very different than the reigning forms of Christianity), is in my view the most loving, just, good, and purposeful way that reality could be. At least, that I've been able to discover.
@LeeWoofenden In which way does this definition go?
Does christianity define what is the most loving, just, good and purposeful?
Or is christianity defined by whatever is the most loving, just, good and purposeful at that time?
@orlp The human mind must define that for itself. But in doing so it helps to have various systems for it to compare and contrast to one another.
@LeeWoofenden You have to forgive me but that is hopelessly vague.
6:04 AM
@orlp Well, if you want to get specific, I will recommend two books by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
@LeeWoofenden Is there no in-between?
The first, which might appeal to your rational mind, is his book Divine Love and Wisdom. This is his broad, philosophical, cosmological view of God, the created universe, and the place of humankind in the universe.
Forgive me, but "you have to define it for yourself" and "read these two books" vary between incredibly vague and immense effort.
@LeeWoofenden Allow me to be more concrete.
The second, in which he completely redefines Christian theology, is True Christianity.
@LeeWoofenden Do you believe in christianity as in the bible's teachings?
6:08 AM
@orlp I want you to know that there is a large amount of material providing a great deal of very precise information. It's not just some vague idea of how things might sorta be.
But if you want something more easy-reading, I have a whole website full of articles aimed at the general public. About the nature of the Christian God from this perspective, see my article, Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?
@orlp About traditionally "Christian" teachings that we Swedenborgians don't believe, see: “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach
@orlp About the essentials that we do believe, and some of the Biblical basis for them, see: Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach
@orlp I believe that most of what the existing Christian church says is "the Bible's teachings" is not, in fact, taught anywhere in the Bible.
In fact, I don't just believe that. I know it. Because I've actually read the Bible, and those things just aren't in there.
All right, from what I can see you 1. do believe the Bible is God's word, but 2. you believe it is written using parables and symbols, and is not to be taken literally.
Am I misrepresenting your views (barring oversimplification)?
@orlp Generally speaking, yes. Though we do take some things literally, such as the commandments to love God above all, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
But the idea that the world was created in six days, no, we don't take that literally, nor do we think it was ever meant to be taken literally, if by "literally" you mean "as scientific fact."
Why should I positively believe that God exists and the Bible is God's word?
This is the question that I never get a satisfactory answer to.
@orlp That's a question that ultimately only you can answer--which is why nobody else can give you a satisfactory answer. I can tell you why I believe those things. But it may not be satisfactory to you at all.
I understand that I can not rationally reject it, and I don't.
But, for those same reasons I can't seem to accept it either.
As accepting it would mean I reject other theologies that I can not rationally reject.
6:17 AM
@orlp I believe those things because I think it makes the universe a far better and more just place, and it makes those who have a good understanding of the will of God into better and more loving people.
@LeeWoofenden Can I take a moment that I believe that treating your neighbour as you would treat yourself is beneficial for everyone, and I (try to) act accordingly?
However I do not need a God for that.
@orlp We do have a very specific theology which could be seen as "exclusive" of other theologies. However, we do not believe that our theology provides the only pathway to salvation, heaven, eternal life, whatever you want to call it. We believe that God is present and effective in all the religions of the world (those that aren't just pure scams, anyway).
So accepting this particular theology really doesn't require you to close your mind off to other possible ways of thinking. And it also doesn't require you to reject science as a good and useful tool for determining the nature of physical reality.
@LeeWoofenden So why do you reject those theologies with which christianity is exclusive?
If you say it's because you believe christianity is better, and creates more loving people, then I'd argue that's naive hope for convience, as I see no reason why the universe would give a rat's ass about that.
@orlp Precisely because they are exclusive, and at their worst, condemn anywhere from 66% to 99.9% of the world's population to eternal torment in hell through no particular fault of their own. That's utterly unjust, and makes God out to be the worst and most bloodthirsty tyrant that has ever existed. I can't accept a God that would create such a universe.
@LeeWoofenden And why can't a cruel god exist?
6:22 AM
@orlp I cruel God could exist. But I don't believe such a God does exist.
@LeeWoofenden On what basis?
And really, I think a cruel God would be internally inconsistent and would destroy itself.
@orlp On the basis of the information and understanding I have received and built up over the years about the nature of our existence here on earth, and its relation to our eternal life in the spiritual world after we die.
@LeeWoofenden Do you believe in hell for people who acted badly on earth, by the way?
@orlp I believe in hell for those who have chosen to live in a hellish way. I do not believe that God sends anyone to hell. I believe that some people send themselves to hell, because that's where they prefer to live. For more on that, see: Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?
I told you, I have more articles on these subjects than you can shake a stick at! ;-)
@LeeWoofenden I have a big problem with choice and responsibility, by the way.
Take psychopaths for example.
A psychopath might have great joy in murdering 10 people in a brutal way.
However, his/her brain is deformed (from birth, not by choice) which causes this behavior.
Does this person go to hell?
> My first response was that no person who dies in their childhood or teen years goes to hell.
That sounds like a good premise for a death cult.
@orlp Short version: We are held responsible only for the moral choices we are able to make within the area of (spiritual) freedom that we actually have. We will not be sent to hell due to environmental factors or other circumstances that are beyond our control.
How can you blame someone for murdering a child if they agree with you, and knowingly send it to heaven?
Is making sure your child goes to god not the greatest thing you can do?
@orlp Murder is still wrong.
Sorry for the rather extreme hypothetical, but how do you deal with these thoughts as a devout believer?
6:32 AM
Children should be allowed to live out their lives here on earth.
@LeeWoofenden Yet you can defy god, and guarantee that it eternally enjoys the glory of heaven.
@orlp If nothing else works for you, there's the basic, "Thou shalt not kill." It's pretty basic to most major religions.
@orlp It's fallacious thinking. A child who dies early will end out in heaven, but will not have had the opportunity to develop to his or her best potential. Heaven is not a homogenized place. There are all different levels and areas. Infants and children who die end out in a good place, but potentially not as good as if they had been allowed to live out their full lifespan.
Killing a child is also depriving that child of the opportunity to make his or her own choice about what sort of life he or she wants to make for him- or herself.
It also seems to me that you're making the assumption that it's better for everyone if a child goes to Heaven sooner rather than later.
Or, more fundamentally, that you know what's Good more than God does.
Suppose the child would've been the next Billy Graham. Or Ghandi, if you prefer.
For the record, I do not condone killing children (or adults).
@orlp I didn't think you did. I understand that it's a hypothetical.
It's a reasonable question that deserves a reasonable answer, which I hope I've provided.
6:37 AM
It just scares me that if you truly believe in some almighty deity with rules that extend beyond death that you can derive some really unwanted behavior from very little.
@orlp I didn't think you did, but that's one way to counter the "why not send them to Heaven early by killing them" idea.
@orlp There's a reason we were given the Ten Commandments in the Bible. It defines some basic parameters for how we should and shouldn't act.
God has not remained aloof and unreachable in heaven. God has communicated to us certain information for our spiritual, and even physical, well-being. It's true that much of that information has been misunderstood and misused over the centuries, and much of it still is today. But that's a function of corrupt and greedy human beings, not a failure on God's part.
For those who truly want to follow the most important and basic commandments of Christianity and every other legitimate religion—to love God above all and love one's neighbor as oneself—there is no lack of teaching, guidance, and example to make it possible for us to do that.
For those whose hearts and minds are corrupt, greedy, and power-hungry, no amount of teaching, guidance, or example will make a difference. It will all be twisted to their destructive purposes. But God works even to bring them around, if at all possible.
That's why we have a lifetime here on earth.
> if at all possible.
But he's almighty?
@orlp Yes. But he doesn't violate our free will. To do so would be to reduce us from human beings to robots. And God won't do that, because it's contrary to his will and his love for us.
God not only loves us, but respects us and our choices--even if they're bad ones that will bring us grief.
anyway, I'm going to be off
6:44 AM
One of my favorite quotes of C.S. Lewis (probably paraphrased): "There are two kinds of people: those who say to God 'Thy will be done.' and those to whom God says 'Fine, have it your way.'."
@orlp Okay. Good chatting with you. I hope I've given you a few things to think about.
And I for one enjoyed reading that conversation. :)
sadly I'm not really convinced any further =/
at least it's nice to know that if you guys are right, and I'm acting like I've done I should get into heaven
@orlp Just think about it. Immediate conviction is not a good thing. You need to mull it over, consider it, consider counter-arguments, and come to a well-thought-out conclusion.
@orlp If I'm right, yes. ;-)
ah, yeah
6:46 AM
Yeah, I don't agree with Lee on that. :P
@orlp So don't listen to him. :-P
Nah, he's the kook. ;)
@El'endiaStarman For the record, I don't particularly believe that a god that condemns me to hell simply for not believing in something without proof is a just one, or one that loves me.
So I'm not that worried about that hypothetical god.
@orlp Yeah, I understand that.
6:48 AM
I do not feel responsible for not believing in A over B or C or D, where all in {A, B, C, D} do not have substantial proof over the other ones.
@orlp As one of my professors was fond of saying to atheists and agnostics that he encountered in his counseling practice, "I don't believe in the same God you don't believe in."
I just might steal that...
@El'endiaStarman As long as it's actually true . . . .
Well, I certainly don't believe in the god that orlp has described. :P
7:45 AM
Well-sourced, very good. — David ♦ Jul 15 '14 at 4:51
@DavidStratton Love the site! People very welcoming and very helpful. Thank you and thank all for me. Please keep up the good work! — FMS Jul 15 '14 at 5:02
Ah, those were the days...
4 hours later…
11:34 AM
Re this:
A: Verse level search capability?

CalebI started an open source project on Github as a place to house a community driven implementation of this. Anyone with ideas is invited to submit them as issues or discuss existing ones. Anyone with the chops to code any of this up is invited to fork and hack away.

This project will work for both Christianity.SE as well as Hermeneutics.SE, so ya'll should feel free to jump in over on BH meta.
in The Library, 11 mins ago, by Caleb
Anybody interested in helping out please ping me. It might take years for me to get motivated to do by myself but with some help it should go pretty quickly.
7 hours later…
6:14 PM
@Caleb Sounds like a marriage made in heaven: StackExchange Bible-thumping computer nerds collaborate on Bible verse search algorithm programming! ;-)

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