Universal Reconciliation & the Reductio Ad Hitlerum

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Jon Rowe

Jon Rowe is a full Professor of Business at Mercer County Community College, where he teaches business, law, and legal issues relating to politics. Of course, his views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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52 Responses

  1. Avatar D. C. Sessions says:

    You’re missing the point. People Like Me are forgiven in advance and don’t have to bother with all that PITA “good works” stuff. Like charity (losers!) Instead our good buddy JC gave us our very own Get Out of Hell Free cards and we’re headed straight to the ultimate restricted-access resort where everyone is just like us. None of them allowed.

    No siree! They are going to suffer indescribable torment for ever! And we’ll get to watch, too. Does it get any better than that?Report

  2. Avatar jamie says:

    I think you have a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of orthodox christianity. Most orthodox theologians are quite agnostic on the fate of the numerous non-Christians that never had a chance to know Christ. They may get another chance at the second coming.

    As to Hitler’s deathbed conversion, of course it’s ridiculous under the terms of any form (except the most repulsive legalistic works-based version) of Christianity to try to punish people based in proportion to what they do. The most marvelous and appealing part of Christian doctrine is the grace extended to all sinners equally. Does the writer really want God to calculate up the proportion of each person’s sins? How do you imagine you would fare under such a calculation?Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to jamie says:

      Jamie:

      What do you mean by “non-Christians that never had a chance to know Christ.” Folks who have never encountered missionaries? Folks who grew up in another religion, think it was true, and when they heard Christians preach, didn’t buy it? I am of the mind that folks who are not orthodox Christians do not reject that which they know to be true but really don’t believe in Christianity. I for one, would believe something if I knew it to be true. Does that count as folks who had never had a chance to know Christ?

      And as for me faring under God counting up my sins, I’d imagine I’d do quite well compared to much of humanity. I’ve never taken a life; the dollar amount I’ve ever shoplifted probably amounts to no more than two figures, perhaps is in the single digits. And I haven’t inflicted much physical pain on people either.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to jamie says:

      “The most marvelous and appealing part of Christian doctrine is the grace extended to all sinners equally. ”

      Another way of saying this is Hitler deserves the same fate in the afterlife as Ghandi. As I noted, it’s nuts.Report

      • Avatar jamie in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        I was purposely vague when I said “never had a chance to know Christ.” That will be up to God to determine, who knows each individual heart better than I do. In some cases, it’ll be people who never heard the faith; in others, who had the faith presented to them in a way that didn’t give them a “fair” chance to adopt it (hopefully you currently fall into the latter category).

        And Christianity doesn’t limit sins to theft, murder and infliction of physical pain-if that was the whole list, most of us would be fine. Jesus said anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his heart commits adultery, so a whole host of mental sins come into play. Moreover, Christianity also generally doesn’t rate sin-it doesn’t consider mental sin that you don’t happen to have the chance to execute into actions any better than actual physical sin.

        Again, I don’t know Gandhi’s fate (or Hitler’s, for that matter)-only God knows. But it really strikes me as marvelous that God extends grace to all people. That’s a much more loving God than one who picked out certain people as being beyond redemption, and doomed them to hell regardless of their later repentance. Despite having never stolen a non-trivial amount, committed murder, or having caused serious physical pain, when I examine my own life, I do not think my life is “worthy” absent God’s grace. But then again, perhaps my life is not as good as yours.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to jamie says:

          “But it really strikes me as marvelous that God extends grace to all people.”

          Well if everyone gets into Heaven that would be marvelous. And btw, Calvinists believe God extends grace ONLY to His elect. If the atonement were not “limited” they reason, everyone WOULD get into Heaven else some/much of Christ’s blood is wasted. And indeed, it is precisely this logic that Trinitarian Universalists like Founding Father Benjamin Rush used to justify universal salvation.Report

          • Avatar jamie in reply to Jon Rowe says:

            Oh, I’m familiar with calvinism, and disagree with it to some extent. I don’t think calvinism is considered necessarily orthodox.
            I think you can reject Calvinism and say the blood isn’t wasted, because all people have the opportunity to accept God’s grace; some just choose not to avail themselves of the opportunity.Report

            • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to jamie says:

              “because all people have the opportunity to accept God’s grace; some just choose not to avail themselves of the opportunity.”

              But do they really? The folks who never hear missionaries, or that have bad missionaries witness to them? We may be coming back to a point where you already conceded uncertainty: Folks who have heard but have a stumbling block like they were brought up in a different religion and are convinced that it’s true, when it’s really a false religion. Most folks die in the religion they were brought up in. Seems kind of unfair to folks brought up in nations that are demographically non-Christian. Especially Islamic nations that don’t allow proselytizing or conversions.

              The Calvinist fatalist has a logical reply (albeit a very mean spirited one): These folks are simply not of God’s elect, so to Hell with them. They get what they deserve and if God wants to place the majority of His non-elect in demographic non-Christian territories, that’s God’s Providential business.

              Like I said, I have a hard time really believing folks REJECT Christ in the sense that they “know” this is true, but reject it; rather they don’t believe it’s true. Myself, I don’t think I reject ANYTHING I “know” to be true. If I saw God Face2Face and were convinced it was God and were told — “this is how you do it” — I certainly wouldn’t reject Him (or Her/IT). (Although I have heard some skeptics say EVEN THEN, be on your guard because you can still be “fooled” by things like special effects; this is going to be ESPECIALLY SO as technology advances and the Matrix/Brains in a Vat virtual reality scenario becomes closer to possible reality.)Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to jamie says:

              Oh, I’m familiar with calvinism,

              Is that the one that’s never the same religion twice?Report

      • Avatar Katherine in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        No, it’s not. It’s that people don’t get what they deserve, otherwise none of us would go to heaven.Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Katherine says:

          I understand the idea that I DON’T deserve Heaven, that grace is a gift. However, I also DON’T deserve eternal torture or eternal misery. Heaven and Hell is a false dichotomy in this sense.

          Or to put it another way, I may be undeserving of eternal bliss with an all perfect God but I am far LESS deserving of eternal torture. It’s like if a judge caught someone breaking the speed limit, you would want the law to punish the person proportionately. If the judge were given only two choices, let the person go free (what he doesn’t deserve) OR chop his foot off, a just judge would have to let the person go free. That’s why either everyone gets into Heaven right away OR punishment is only temporary. At least on logical grounds.Report

  3. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Jon, I love ya dude.
    “That makes far more sense than the orthodox version of eternal damnation. Now, if one wants to stick with, “this is just what the Bible teaches,” fine. Don’t try to argue there is any rhyme or reason to it.”
    As you know there are any number of definitions for ‘reason.’ I don’t think, in the above instance, you’re referring to ‘nous’, that reason grounded on the divine. Perhaps you are?
    I always thought, and I’m not a biblical scholar, autodidactly or any other way, that ‘judgement’ was God’s obligation in the human drama. That salvation/redemption were predicated on being existing in the metalepsis, the human/divine relationship. The verity of that relationship is ‘known’ by the divine lover…you don’t deceive God. To be in that right relationship is to accept the Word, to live in being with the Word, to die in the Word. People who have truly submitted themselves to the will of God, do not seek sin, they exist to serve the will of God. To achieve this relationship that God continues to offer to all of mankind, one must return the gift of the ‘self’ to God as an act of love : “I give myself to You!”…and, that is an offensive thought to the vast majority of moderns who have been educated in state schools to love the self.

    I sense that you are seeking to acquire a ‘knowledge’ that would permit you to differentiate the great questions? And, I don’t believe your inquiry is designed to mock or deride hetrodoxical Christianity…it seems to me the idea of the Logos/Word intellectually tittlates you, yet you can not move toward a true knowledgte of it, because of ‘intellectual’ considerations (…ideological deformations and derailments).
    Re: your questions here, we must be careful because such a search, inquiry, or ‘seeking’ , even one properly conducted as a philosophical inquiry rightfully moving toward a theological/pneumatic truth traverses the gnostic outback, and that is a very dangerous place to be.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      I think you are correct with a lot of your senses about my inquiry; though I wonder why you see Gnosticism as dangerous? As I understand Gnosticism it’s a sort of “knowing” by sensing or understanding — “seeing” something you “know.” Not having to prove it through a rational process. That can actually support faith.

      I may be wrong, but I don’t believe you can reason your way to God and perhaps that’s where I am stuck.

      Rational arguments for or against God’s existence end up at a Mexican standoff with one side asking why is there something rather than nothing. And the other asking what caused God? God is self existent, the uncaused cause. But if God is self existent, then why cannot an uncreated universe wit a predetermined set of laws be? The universe has a beginning — the big bang — and all things that have a beginning have a cause. But the big bang could be a transformation — like an expanding and contracting universe — of time space matter and energy. And then I’ve been told quantum physics proves it’s not illogical for things to pop in and out of existence as just the way things are.

      Again I see this as reason leading to a Mexican standoff about whether God exists.

      But one can “see” what lies beyond ones reason. That’s what I understand to be the Gnostic idea of God. But again, I could be wrong; I am not an expert on Gnosticism.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        Jon, you’re in a condition of “athanatizein”, or “the activity of immortalizing.” It’s a good place though challenging because we must do that which is singularly difficult, particularly in modern times…be brutally honest with ourselves, when ourselves really want us to lie.
        If your college has the Eric Voegelin Collected Works, go to Vol. 34 and read his essay “Eschatology and Philosophy, The Practice of Dying.” I’m pretty sure it will provide insight.

        Re: the ‘gnostic’ phenomenon, you’re correct it has a number of meanings all circulating around ‘knowledge.’ My use of the word and the lietmotif of my current project, is that the gnostic/knowledge can and often does move toward a condition of Sin, whereby the would be knower moves toward a state or condition where he/she believes that they have achieved insights that include a number of pneumopathological events, such as but not limited to: the “transfiguration of the Superman,” the critique of the insight related to the eschatological tension of man’s existence/humanity/being, the corruption of language in order to make opaque the truth of existence, the rejection of the truth of reality as an “intellectual” activity, the modern ideological distortions which appear to have distorted our ability to symbolize, and on and on in much the same manner that Circero illustrated.
        The Gnostic event is significant because it seems to have spawned (following the Satan myth) the inception of evil into Creation. I have to finish a study of Von Schelling (I need to order a couple more of his works). It is this place in ‘time’ that a bunch of stuff happened and the Gnostic Movement, or what I’m referring to as the Gnostic Movement, represents (I think) the anti-thesis of God.
        There’s nothing new here, I think. I don’t think I’m outside the heterodoxical Christian perspective and anyone, including theologians, are permitted/encouraged to straighten me out.
        In the end, God is Divine being in love and freedom.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      People who have truly submitted themselves to the will of God, do not seek sin, they exist to serve the will of God.

      E.g, by slaughtering infidels or flying planes in to skyscrapers.

      On the other hand, trying to determine for yourself what actions are moral or correct is dangerous, as it could lead you into false beliefs.Report

      • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Yeah, I’m trying to figure out, other than God’s own sensibilities, how anyone truly knows that they’ve “fully submitted themselves to the will of God.” ‘Cause the examples you listed above? I’m betting their pretty damn sure they’ve fully submitted. But no true scotsman, of course.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to mark boggs says:

          Mark, it’s often about one’s attitude. If we seek the Divine and have some preconceived notions and these notions don’t come to fruition we often, like some unruly child, kick and scream that “there is no God,” or testify how we ‘tried,’ etc.
          But, in our hearts, in those still, quiet moments of our existence we know it isn’t God who turns away from us, rather we who have rejected Him. It’s all about self-surrender, love, and peace of the soul.
          God has never rejected me, but I, a sinner, have rejected Him countless times.Report

          • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Robert,

            As much as I appreciate your response, it starts with the assumption that a God exists and that we choose whether to follow that God. Now, I’m willing to go there if we water down the definition of God as to be so vague as to become virtually meaningless, but the more we narrow that definition down to mean very specific things, e.g. supernatural entities transcendent to the universe with the characteristics of each particular religion, then I start to part ways.

            Now this is in no way meant to degrade those who do believe, but Mike pegged it pretty well with his comment. We can all disagree about whether jihadists actually are following the “true” will of God, or even whether their God is “true”, but I’ll be damned if they don’t think they’ve submitted to the will of their God. Just as it sounds like you try to do. The only way I could possibly judge either is by the results, the practical results I see from those beliefs. In that way, I like the practical results of what is manifested by your attempted submission than what is manifested by theirs. But that’s just in comparison. There is plenty of behavior from Christians that is a direct result of their belief in Christianity that I find distasteful and antithetical to liberty. But again, no true scotsman, right? But ultimately, this is neither here nor there in determining the actual existence of any supernatural entity transcendent to the universe, nor will it ever be.

            I’m with Jon in this regard and echo Kuznicki’s response to what a libertarian agenda looks like in practice: “I don’t know.” Plant me firmly with the agnostics. For all I know, the Mormons are right and Joseph Smith truly did get the BOM from his hat. Does it seem possible or reasonable? No. But, I don’t know. So I try to live my life under the eons old idea of the ethic of reciprocity or the Golden Rule. If there is a God and that’s not good enough for him or her or it and I was somehow required to spend a certain amount of time prostrating myself to honor this God, despite the fact that I have found no reasons to believe that this is the case, then I guess I’ll serve whatever punishment is meted out for me.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to mark boggs says:

              Yes, Mark of course you are ‘free’ to think as you will. Don’t take my remarks as an insult, they aren’t.
              In any event, my comments are meant to begin as a philosophical question in time while rejecting any preconceived notions or teachings…the still, quiet voice as it were and go from there. Consequently, the first objective is to recapture reality, and don’t be alarmed because most folks do not live in reality. Next, we’re required, should our inquiry be true to define/redefine/understand the ideas of “existence, experience, consciousness, and reality.”
              It is, of course, very challenging because not only do you face your own limitations (we all have them) but you are living in a time greatly derailed/deformed “…by thinkers who ought to be perservers, such as theologians.”Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Oh, I’m all for the silent inquiry. And some not so silent inquiry. Inquiry by any and all methods.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to mark boggs says:

                Obviously Mark, this is a reply to Bob Cheeks. “Fellow Madman” is pretty much the giveaway but, in any case, a very Happy New Year to you and your family!Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Happy New Year, fellow madman!

                Jaybird writes: “Additionally, I told my mother, after my father died, that she was never going to see him again. Not in the afterlife, not ever.”

                Man, that’s just brutal. I just about doubled over in pain when I read that. What a cold, heartless, cruel thing to say to your mother after just losing her husband. Do you drive all over your neighborhood at Christmas time with a bullhorn, screaming at children, “hey you little dumb bastards. there is NO Santa Claus, he doesn’t exist!”

                (I’m not equating belief in Santa Claus with belief in God.)

                Hey, hate to break the news to you, but you don’t know jack about what happens after we take our last breath on this earth. “Hard” science is certainly not on your side one way or the other. We’re talking two entirely different realms of inquiry and existence here. Science can give you mountains of facts and stats–it’s up to the Godsphere to give you value and meanings. Going to a physicist to get an answer about the existence or nonexistence of God is like going to a physicist to have your car’s transmission fixed. Why would a physicist, astrophysicist, cosmologist, biologist etc. know anything more about the existence or nonexistence of God than a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. ?

                “Lo, for your gaze, the pattern of the skies!
                What balance of the mass, what reckonings
                Divine! Here ponder too the Laws which God,
                Framing the universe, set not aside
                But made the fixed foundations of his work.”

                “The one highest Godhead
                Subsisting in each being
                And living when they perish
                Who this has seen, is seeing
                For he who has that highest God in all things found
                That man will of himself, upon himself, inflict no wound”
                Schopenhauer

                “O Man! Take heed!
                What says the deep midnight?
                “I slept, I slept—,
                from a deep dream have I awoken:—
                the world is deep,
                and deeper than the day has thought.
                Deep is its pain—,
                joy—deeper still than heartache.
                Pain says: Pass away!
                But all joy
                seeks eternity—,
                —seeks deep, deep eternity!”
                Nietzsche

                Mohammad didn’t just molest little girls. He married them, too. Aisha was 6–SIX years old when he married her.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

                Comrade Robert—hope you realize my greeting of “Fellow Madman” was a compliment of the highest order!Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Heidegger says:

                H-man, a Happy, prosperous, healthy New Years to you and yours as well..sorry for the delay but AT&T has made me their bitch…piss poor service and I pay out the ass.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Well, thanks Bob and all the very best to you and the entire Cheeks clan!
                I think I’ve done the impossible and reached ground zero total ostracization on this site. I’m sure the heated conversation with BSK a few days ago. oh well, that’s the way it goes. I did offer an apology to BSK, though. In the meantime, I’ve asked the administrators if I could do this:

                Heidegger December 31, 2010 at 3:51 pm
                It appears I have my very own little Krazy Korner. Would it be acceptable to manufacture my own posts and my own commenters–no one would need to read any of it. Everyone’s all made up, not real. A totally fictitious creation. I’d love to hear spirited debates between Beethoven and Mozart. Nixon getting drunk with Kissinger. Liszt and Chopin trying to seduce the same woman. Einstein debating Newton. Jesus debating Buddha. And I get to make everything up! I get to create every character. Leonardo debates Maplethorpe. I’ll even be more than happy and pay for rental space on this site. How about Hitler debating Thomas Jefferson!!! I LOVE it! Again, I get to invent and create all characters and dialogue. I may even have to ban certain moral reprobates but that’s no problem. LOOG does, after all, have some blogging standards. Thanks, gentlemen and scholars!

                Bob, if you get a chance, listen to the voice of God as Glenn Gould plays the opening Aria of the Goldberg Variations.
                And here’s my crazy religion acting up again…
                “Reply

                Heidegger December 31, 2010 at 12:05 pm
                “Also, the Goldberg Thesis (as opposed to any Goldberg Variations)….” Ah, mercifully, finally, a breath of fresh air…BACH!!! The Immortal Goldbergs. And GG, in the ultimate musical Nirvanic Zone, spinning the Aria into a state of total, complete timelessness. Hear, listen, for yourselves, please may all of you oppressively ponderous, desultory Libertarians not all be bloodless Philistines. Doesn’t the excruciating weight of your dour, spiritless, vigorless, excruciatingly pedantic rhetoric make all of you want to scream? Ever??? Here’s Glenn to liberate you. Please, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and allow yourselves to kiss the face of God! Yes, you too, atheists!! Do Hitler and Ghandi really occupy the same void, the same void that swallows every living, sentient, breathing being upon death? Allow your souls to awaken. Why condemn yourselves to such a colorless, prosaic, banal Universe? Everything that is, was, and shall forever be, is here, in every blessed, glorious, wondrous, moment–Liberation is at hand!! And none other than J.S Bach is going to unlock the chains of your spiritual confinement–ENJOY!

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDyDCPniTAk

                “There is something in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers: it is an Hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole World, and creatures of God; such a melody to the ear, as the whole World, well understood, would afford the understanding. In brief, it is a sensible fit of that harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of God.”Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                H-man, no one is going to ask you to leave. Why even the atheists/agnostics, perhaps them more than others, have your back. Then there’s us God-fearing types (fear of God is a great blog) and we want to read your stuff.
                If you leave who’s going to hep me and Mike Farmer?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            in our hearts, in those still, quiet moments of our existence we know it isn’t God who turns away from us, rather we who have rejected Him.

            What do you mean “we,” kemosabe?

            You’re trying to universalize your personal experience. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t universalize that well. In my still moments of existence, which usually only occur out in the wilderness, I know that it’s a marvelous, awesome, and sublime material world that has no need of any spiritual being to be as awesome as it is.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to James Hanley says:

              Actually, Dr. Hanley it would serve if via some heavy analysis some smart dude came up with a close examination/differentiation of the metaleptic event. Dr. Davis has done wonderfully in her seminal study, “Mysticism and Space.”
              I’m figurin’ the divine/human encounter runs from a general to specific interpretation but, frankly, that’s just a ‘feeling.’
              From what I can read of your ‘comments’ here, and they are rather charming, witty, and deeply intelligent, you’ve managed to follow the masses into a condition of hypostatization where you’ve made opaque the transendent pole of the tension of existence. As you know the result is a life of alienation (see Cicero and Hegel) of one degree or another. But, hey it’s your choice and I respect that. I do admire your courage, however.

              If my replys are not prompt don’t take offense..AT&T is screwing my eyes out with its lousy service.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Mr. Cheeks,

                I actually do suspect our experience is similar, and that we are just interpreting it differently (the blind men and the elephant problem).

                I have no idea what you mean by hypostatization or making “opaque the transcendent pole of the tension of existence,” and I’m incurious enough to not bother looking it up because I suspect I’d find it yawningly irrelevant to my own life experience. If you were of a mind to commit your time to explaining it to me, though, I would commit my time to trying to understand your explanation.

                Alienation, though? That’s not my experience at all, and I’d be hard-pressed to accept the claim of someone external to my interior life that I’m actually alienated. How could anyone else possibly know? It sounds to me like a moralistic claim, the claim of someone who can’t quite acquiesce to the idea that others don’t share their values; a clinging to the idea that somehow “my” values are not subjective, but have some objective validity that others ought to recognize.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to James Hanley says:

                Dr. Hanley,

                With all due respect, the reason you and I are unable to engage in a conversation is simply because we do not share the same ground.
                We would end up talking past one another in much the same manner many others do here and other places of discourse.
                We would end up annoying each other, though it appers that wouldn’t bother either one of us. But, like you said, we’d be waisting our time.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Mike, you’re one of the smarts of guys here at loog. The above is one of your smartest comments and it tells me that you are in a similar condition that Dr. Rowe is in…I’m not surprised, because ‘smart’ people search, seek, and want to know the great truths. Quick screwing around and get to it, you’ll be even a better interlocutor.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I also enjoy telling Mormons that their holy book was written by a carny and Muslims that Mohammed molested underage girls.

    Well, I don’t do that last one. Muslims are a lot more prone to beat a guy up.

    Additionally, I told my mother, after my father died, that she was never going to see him again. Not in the afterlife, not ever.

    I’m pretty sure that the feeling of smug that I feel is greater than the comfort she’d get from daydreaming about seeing him again in Glory so, even on a utilitarian level, I’m covered.

    Who’s next? Nation of Islam? Or are they too much like “real” Muslims and thus prone to punch a dude?Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Additionally, I told my mother, after my father died, that she was never going to see him again. Not in the afterlife, not ever.”

      Gah. That’s fucking mean. Do you hate your mother? Even if I was SURE that you were right, I’d probably tell my less wise loved ones a noble lie, like Santa Claus to a little kid.

      And don’t you fucking dare try to tell me that doggie heaven doesn’t exist!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        How do you differentiate between noble lies?Report

        • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Jaybird says:

          That’s within the philosopher’s wise purview. Are you going to tell your kids (either hypothetically or actually) that Santa Claus doesn’t exist? If you are convinced atheism is true, are you going to share that truth with them when they ask in the single digits? Or let them “discover” these things when older?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jon Rowe says:

            Personally, I think that telling children about Santa is practice for telling them about God… and their eventual discovery that grown-ups lie to them is a very important one for them to make. About Santa, about the Tooth Fairy, and about God.

            It’s after this moment of, oh, let’s call it “enlightenment”, that we, as grown-ups, have a choice when it comes to whether the kids are told to keep up the facade for the sake of the (other) children.

            Do we maintain the facade?
            Do we bring light to the darkness?
            Do we do everything we can to engage with people who believe silly things that make them feel better and point out that such things are self-evidently psychological defense mechanisms?

            What would someone who knows himself do?
            What would someone who has a different set of believed noble lies do?Report

            • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Jaybird says:

              Do we maintain the facade?
              “Do we bring light to the darkness?
              Do we do everything we can to engage with people who believe silly things that make them feel better and point out that such things are self-evidently psychological defense mechanisms?

              “What would someone who knows himself do?
              What would someone who has a different set of believed noble lies do?”

              Not everyone is the same. Some folks can’t handle hard truths. I am most concerned about religion when it bothers the horses and when it keeps me from doing what I want to do. And if religion is proven to do good for folks — keep them productive and in line — then I think it a good thing for them (but not necessarily for me) again provided that they DON’T bother the horses in other ways or keep me from doing what I want to do.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                How do *YOU* differentiate between noble lies?

                Or don’t you tell yourself any?Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Jaybird says:

                “How do *YOU* differentiate between noble lies?”

                I answered this when I wrote “[t]hat’s within the philosopher’s wise purview. ” Let me note that I will NOT be telling my nephews that Santa Claus doesn’t exist any time soon.

                I tell noble lies just like you do. When someone asks how you feel — when you feel like shit, but don’t want to discuss it — you say “fine.”Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                How the “noble lie” got equated with theism I do not know.

                The original “noble lie” in Plato is that some men are made of gold, silver, or iron, so they may be content with their slot in society.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_lie

                Although Plato leaves room for upward and downward mobility based on merit, or what metal you were created of. This noble lie would create a more harmonious society, but typically of Plato and Westernism, leaves room for dynamism.

                The Abrahamic religions of course reject that noble lie in favor of “all men are created equal,” or some such other nonsense. That is a theological or philosophical proposition, clearly not an empirical one.

                The philosopher knows that he does not know. That is philosophy as a way of life, as Socrates practiced it, not as the moderns practice it, as a rival to religion—each offering “answers.”

                But that is another discussion.Report

          • Avatar Fish in reply to Jon Rowe says:

            As a father, this is a question I’ve wrestled with for the better part of my oldest son’s life (he’s still single digits). I certainly want my boys to come to their own conclusions, but I also want to make sure they know that what they hear at school isn’t the only way. I’m okay with letting my evangelical sister have a go at them provided I get the last word. I’ve settled on the (potentially cop-out) position that if he or his brother have learned enough to ask questions then I owe them as honest an answer as I can provide them. And of course, since my youngest son (six) has a classmate who has told my son that he’s going to hell (SIX!), then some of those discussions have come more quickly than I thought they would.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Additionally, I told my mother, after my father died, that she was never going to see him again. Not in the afterlife, not ever.”
      Man, that’s just brutal. I just about doubled over in pain when I read that. A cold, heartless, cruel thing to your mother after just losing her husband. Do you drive all over your neighborhood at Christmas time with a bullhorn, screaming at children, “hey you little dumb bastards. there is NO Santa Claus, he doesn’t exist!”

      Hey, hate to break the news to you, but you don’t know jack about what happens after we take our last breath on this earth. “Hard” science is certainly not on your side one way or the other. We’re talking two entirely different realms of inquiry and existence here. Science can give you mountains of facts and stats–it’s up to the Godsphere to give you value and meanings. Going to a physicist to get an answer about the existence or nonexistence of God is like going to a physicist to have your car’s transmission fixed. Why would a physicist, astrophysicist, cosmologist, biologist etc. know anything more about the existence or nonexistence of God than a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. ?

      “Lo, for your gaze, the pattern of the skies!
      What balance of the mass, what reckonings
      Divine! Here ponder too the Laws which God,
      Framing the universe, set not aside
      But made the fixed foundations of his work.”

      “The one highest Godhead
      Subsisting in each being
      And living when they perish
      Who this has seen, is seeing
      For he who has that highest God in all things found
      That man will of himself, upon himself, inflict no wound”
      Schopenhauer

      “O Man! Take heed!
      What says the deep midnight?
      “I slept, I slept—,
      from a deep dream have I awoken:—
      the world is deep,
      and deeper than the day has thought.
      Deep is its pain—,
      joy—deeper still than heartache.
      Pain says: Pass away!
      But all joy
      seeks eternity—,
      —seeks deep, deep eternity!”
      Nietzsche

      Mohammad didn’t just molest little girls. He married them, too. Aisha was 6–SIX years old when he married her.Report

      • Avatar Jon Rowe in reply to Heidegger says:

        H: Do you have ANY evidence that Mohammad sexed the girls in their single digits? As opposed to just having them “betrothed”? I hate to break it to you, but the “Judeo-Christian” tradition likewise engaged in betrothals of girls in their single digits. The JC tradition, likewise, held human beings become marriageable, hence sexable adults when “Nature” dictates — that is, puberty: 12 for girls, 13 for boys. Think the bar and bat-mitzfahs.Report

      • Avatar Fish in reply to Heidegger says:

        I’ve got a fairly decent idea about what’ll happen after I take my last breath.

        Nothing.

        And when that’s over, decomposition. I’m hoping that my loved ones will have the decency to dispose of my remains before I start to stink up the place.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      FOR THE RECORD:

      I did not tell my mom that.

      Jeez.Report

  5. Avatar Brian says:

    I gotta tell ya, The Shack is one heck of a poorly written book. The prose is horrendous. But the message is the most hopeful thing I’ve ever heard out of Christianity. The God of the Shack is the God I wish I could believe in.Report

  6. Avatar Will H. says:

    Here’s the biblical reference:
    For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
    And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.
    Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.
    And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’
    So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’
    And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.
    But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’
    But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’

    This injustice which concerns you is a product of viewing all men equally, but in a manner which is not appropriate. The equality which exists between each individual in relation to God is a more fundamental consideration than the relation of each individual to every other individual.
    Further reference.Report

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