Thursday, November 12, 2009

God doesn't want robots -- He just wants you to do whatever He says.

The argument for why God doesn't just take everyone to heaven is that He gave humans free will. He wants people to choose to love Him, and doesn't want to force anyone to love Him. He doesn't want robots.

I can understand the not wanting to force people to love Him. I don't get the not wanting robots part. The whole reason for Jesus as a Savior is because God is a Holy God, and can only tolerate perfection. People are not perfect in any sense, having inherited the Adam nature. Depending on how far one's theology takes this, everything you do is tainted with sin, no matter how "good" it is. As a penalty for the sin and disobedience, Jesus took on humanity's punishment, thus satisfying the wrath of God.

If God can only tolerate perfection, and sin is essentially going against God or some form of disobeying God, and thus God can only tolerate sinless creatures (for those are the perfect creatures) and the only way to be sinless is to do exactly what God wants ... isn't the thing that God wants the same as a robot? Someone who does exactly what He wants?

Because that's exactly what a robot is: it's something that does exactly what the creator commands.

And then if the robot does not behave as the creator commands, it is declared defective, and is either fixed, or trashed. Perhaps melted down in a burning fire, and thrown into the scrap heap.

38 comments:

Laura said...

well said! I completely agree. God's free isn't so free. It's like if someone held a gun to your head and commanded you to hand them your car keys. According to God, that you handed over your keys was your own choice. And if you chose to die, well, that was your choice too. An interesting murder defense--"He CHOSE to die!" Yeah, I don't think that would fly in a court of law and it doesn't fly with me when God tries it on us.

The only way we have true free will is if there is no hell.

Temaskian said...

Robotic people would be able to get to heaven much more easily.

Whereas non-robotic people tend to become atheists.

societyvs said...

The logic is pretty sound - if we use the original sin and perfection idea...robots do seem better...heck God should create some robots to serve Him...wait...angels (lol).

I wonder what the human role with consideration to God is? What is your take OSS?

OneSmallStep said...

Laura,

I actually saw a great example somewhere. It used an example of a slave and a master. A master orders a slave to perform a certain task. Now, technically speaking, the slave is free to say no. However, if the slave says no, the master beats the slave as a punishment. I don't know of anyone today who would say that the slave was free to say 'no,' given the consequences.

Yet it's said that we are given free will by God? Not so long as hell remains in the picture.

OneSmallStep said...

Temaskian,

The robotic people will also have a great dance to perform, too. :)

OneSmallStep said...

Society,

**I wonder what the human role with consideration to God is? What is your take OSS?**

I don't know. Perhaps it was so God could also be called Creator? You can't really be a Creator unless there's something created.

If going by standard conservative theology, I don't feel we can say that God just wanted a relationship with people, because a relationship is a give-and-take, compromise sort of thing. There is no compromise with God in this theology.

I always liked the idea of humans were meant to be an expression of God, in the sense of loving, compassionate, good, just ...

Lorena said...

Christians portray their god as a neurotic woman who tells her husband, "I don't want you to buy me flowers because I say so, I want you to buy me flowers because you love me and feel like giving me flowers."

The Christian god is way too human to be for real.

the chaplain said...

The only way we have true free will is if there is no hell.

Absolutely right. And yet, so many Christians just don't get it.

I also like, "God's free isn't so free." Yeah, I dig that unconditional love. Unconditional on the condition that Jesus made the perfect sacrifice; unconditional on the condition that we get to choose between bliss or torment... But, it's completely free, doesn't cost us anything. Barf!

Xander said...

You warn a child not to touch a pan on the stove because it will burn them. If they still touch the pan, they expressed free-will and choice. The consequences did not deter their actions.

Not sure why hell should be the deciding factor on if a person chooses to believe or not.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**Not sure why hell should be the deciding factor on if a person chooses to believe or not.**

Because of the example I used with Laura. If a slave is told s/he has a choice to refuse to follow a request, and then is beaten for such a refusal, would anyone say that the slave really had free will in that scenario? Or is the slaves decision directly affected by the beating that will follow because of disobedience?

That is how hell comes across to non-Christians. So long as hell looms in the background of the choice, people are no more free to decide than the slave was.

Sarge said...

I once worked for a man who would ask potential employees if they thought they knew the 'three was of doing things'.

They would inevitably say, "The right way, the wrrong way, and your way".

He would correct them, say, "No, it's my way, my way, and my way".

He was, in fact, an atheist, but was rather god-like in his viewpoint on that.

Um-godlike, if there was trouble because he had not given you complete information, or had made a mistake, he took responsibility himself and never blamed you.

I get the feeling that this choice is a lot like crossing a chasm on a tightrope, from what my morbidly faithful relatives and colleagues.

This 'deity' has stood you on the precipice, there is a monster behind you that will get you if you don't get across the abyss. This 'deity' has provided a tightrope to get you across, and all you have to do is somehow stay on it in spite of wind, things twanging it like a guitar string, or it's being slackened. No net or life-lines, just that rope. Stay on or fall off, your choice.

Xander said...

But the argument is there is no free will if hell is in the picture.

If I speed, I get a ticket. I knew I would get a ticket, but for what ever reason I decided to speed anyway. If I kill someone, I go to jail. In some states, I would be put to death. I knew this before I did it, but I did it anyway.

The choice is always there, regardless of the punishment. We operate in this daily, and people are fine with it. Apply it to God and people reject it. Why?

OneSmallStep said...

Sarge,

**you have to do is somehow stay on it in spite of wind, things twanging it like a guitar string, or it's being slackened. No net or life-lines, just that rope. Stay on or fall off, your choice.**

Interesting definition of choice, as one can't control the wind or the twangs or the slackening of the rope. :)

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

Because the punishment factors into how the free will is used. Without the punishment, the slave would perhaps use his free will to choose not to perform the task. With the punishment, the slave doesn't really have free will in that situation, because his choice can't be separated from the repercussions. If the master said, "He can choose whatever he wants, because he has free will," would you truly agree with that statement? Or would you say his free will is constrained by the situation?

Same with the ticket or the murder. The consequences of either of those factor into whatever decision one makes.

Under how you're describing it, you seem to be putting the free will in a vacuum, and I don't see people operating that way. I don't see people using their free will that way. If someone said "I'm free to murder person A," I think very few people would agree with that. Same with the slave. No one would say that he has free will to choose to disobey, because his free will is influenced by the punishment.

Xander said...

Is isn't that what free will really is? The ability to choose regardless of the outcome?

The way you are putting it, free will never exists, with or without hell. There is always a reaction to any action. That is a natural law.

Without hell, you still have death. Eternal life is still better than death, so the choices aren't equal.

Atheist just have death. I can be Hitler or Mother Theresa and the final outcome is still the same. I am still under the consequences of man's law, so no free will there either.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

I haven't seen a direct answer based on the question I've asked a few times in various ways, and don't want to assume on your answer:

So -- please directly answer the following:

If a master tells a slave to perform a certain task or be punished, is the slave free to say no?

Would you agree with the master if he says that the slave can choose whatever he wants, because he has free will? And thus if the slave says no and the master punishes him, is the master justified in using the punishment by saying, "Well, he choose to say no, so he choose to get punished"?

Xander said...

Sorry about that. I thought I already answered that question through the other examples.

Yes. If the slave chooses to do what is forbidden, then the slave made the choice.

Answer me this. If a parent tells a child not to do something or the child will be spanked/time out/punishment of your choice, is the parent wrong when they discipline the child when the child disobeys? Did the child not know the repercussions but still chose to disobey?

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

So then are you also agreeing that when the master then beats the slave, the master can use the defense: "Well, he choose to say no, so he choose to get punished"? I'm not sure if your direct response also incorporated it, because I'm not sure if the forbidden aspect is in relation to how the master can defend his actions.

To answer your question: no, the parent is not wrong. However, given that there are repercussions, I don't see the child as having the freedom to disobey, because the parent will put a stop to it, and thus act as an external authority (and the idea of freedom is tied to personal liberty and exemption from some sort of external authority/interference). Nor does it relate to the crux of my argument on the matter of free will, which was not about the right or wrong aspect of hell.

As a side note, if using the word "discipline," then I wouldn't find that an equal analogy to hell, because a good parent uses discipline to show a child what is proper behavior, and train them out of negative behavior. The punishment is a means towards improving the child, and thus the means to an end. Hell can't fall in the same category, because there's no way out of it. It's simply punishment for the sake of punishment itself, rather than a method of correcting people.

Xander said...

I understand your argument. There cannot be free will as long as a punishment is in place. Hell is the extreme form, but it is still a punishment none the less. With that thinking, there is never free will, either in the natural or spiritual (unless you are an atheist), because there is always a repercussion for our action.

The master doesn’t have to justify his action, because he is in authority. Neither does the parent nor law enforcement. There is a clear line set. Disobedience = punishment.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**The master doesn’t have to justify his action, because he is in authority. Neither does the parent nor law enforcement. There is a clear line set. Disobedience = punishment.**

Still doesn't answer the question, though, because the question is relevant given that the slave owner would have to justify his actions given that slavery is wrong. When the slave owner was put on trial, no one would agree that the slave is free, and they'd understand that the "yes" or "no" response to the slave owner's request could not be made equally.

And it's not compatible, because the whole concept behind the disobedience aspect with parents/law enforcement is that you're not free to disobey your parents, and you're not free to break the law. And if you want to put slavery in the same category, then 200 years ago, slaves were not free to disobey the people who owned them, based on the societal structure.

Xander said...

So, you are stating that there is no free-will and that lack of free-will is not limited to our “relationship” with God based on Heaven and Hell.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

I think the aspect of free will/choice can't be separated from the outcome or the factors that influence not only the choices before you, but how the choices unfold.

The Christianity says if you don't accept God based on this strict criteria, you go to hell, greatly simplifies the aspect of free choice and reduces it to the same level that one might choose between an apple and an orange. It's a small choice, and basically causes no ripples whatsoever.

Whereas the way people operate within the world with choices of this significance, the choice itself can't be separated from any repercussions. Choices like the slave example, or the murder example Laura had, or even a choice like a single parent trying to decide on something s/he really wants to do, and what's best for his/her child. The parent might feel that if s/he truly loves his/her child, then there isn't free will to make a choice, because one is not best for the child.

Xander said...

But repercussions / regret do not occur until after the result of the choice has been made apparent. No one regrets choosing hell until they end up there.

A parent always wants the best for their child, but those choices are based on fear. The fear of what if I chose wrong? If the parent chooses to feed the child shrimp knowing they have a shellfish allergy, then that is a stupid and foolish choice. But what school do I send them to? What sports do I start them with? What hobbies do I allow them to pursue? These you don’t see the repercussions for many years so they are different then the slave and master where the repercussion comes quickly.

Look at suicide. The person knows what they are doing and that their life will end, but they still make the choice to commit it. No one forces this to happen.

I don’t think repercussions or regret remove free will choices. They make you more careful when making the choice, but you still make the choice.

cl said...

OneSmallStep,

Hey there. I stumbled over here from that other free will conversation we were having. I'm still trying to see where we diverge on our views of free will. I would say that a robot is something that cannot do that which the programmer has not programmed. God programmed us for goodness, but unlike a robot, we can choose sin. A robot can't ever even *think* of choosing sin.

To demand that we don't have free will unless we can disobey and not go to Hell is absurd. Can an alcoholic rightly demand that that his excesses not affect the kidneys?

You said, "If someone said "I'm free to murder person A," I think very few people would agree with that. Same with the slave. No one would say that he has free will to choose to disobey, because his free will is influenced by the punishment."

I would say we're free to murder person A, meaning that we can choose to murder person A. The fact that this country effects punishments for murdering person A doesn't eradicate our freedom to choose murdering person A as a choice. I realize you're saying that the 'threat of punishment' factors into the decision, but it does not eradicate our free will.

Further, with the God analogy, why would any of you fear a punishment from a being that doesn't exist? If you're truly atheists, the threat of post-mortem punishment is not an immanent, undeniably genuine threat. It's not the same as a rapist with a gun.

Xander,

You said, "If I speed, I get a ticket. I knew I would get a ticket, but for what ever reason I decided to speed anyway. If I kill someone, I go to jail. In some states, I would be put to death. I knew this before I did it, but I did it anyway. The choice is always there, regardless of the punishment. We operate in this daily, and people are fine with it. Apply it to God and people reject it. Why?"

That's exactly right. The inability to apply the logic to God baffles me, too. I guess maybe some people define "free will" as "the ability to do whatever one wants *and* be exempt from consequences." I don't see that as reasonable. I know if a sign says "no skateboarding" and I skate that spot and get a ticket, well... whether I think I deserve it or not, the plain fact is that I'm guilty. It would be absurd for me to tell the officer that the no skateboarding sign encroached upon my free will.

OneSmallStep said...

Cl,

**To demand that we don't have free will unless we can disobey and not go to Hell is absurd. Can an alcoholic rightly demand that that his excesses not affect the kidneys?**

But this would again come down to the different viewpoints in God. We have God as an active participant, and the one demanding certain things. Alcohol simply ... is. It can't exert influence or make demands.

**I would say we're free to murder person A, meaning that we can choose to murder person A.**

**I realize you're saying that the 'threat of punishment' factors into the decision, but it does not eradicate our free will.**

It comes across as making the concept of free here narrower compared to any other circumstance where we might use it. If there were no consequences, I might in fact murder someone. Since there are, I won't. Or I might be someone who can't murder because I can't stand the sight of blood. Any of those circumstances factor into how one acts, and thus the freedom one has to do something.

Perhaps a difference in how we're approaching this is that you are saying that a choice can be made regardless of what that choice is, and I'm saying that the outcomes of the choice influence how the choice will be made, and thus affect the freedom of the decision.

**The inability to apply the logic to God baffles me, too. I guess maybe some people define "free will" as "the ability to do whatever one wants *and* be exempt from consequences."**

But as I stated on the other board, if I follow this logic, then I also have to say that the slave is responsible for remaining in slavery, because he didn't choose to disobey. Just like the person who got the ticket is responsible, and the person who murdered is responsible.

Which means I am then blaming the slave for the situation he found himself in, and I wouldn't do that. If I do hold the person who got the ticket responsible, and yet don't hold the slave responsible, I'm not viewing the two the same in terms of free will.

But the big difference here -- with both you and Xander -- is that I think we view the concept of hell differently. In all the examples I've seen used, it's been put in terms of a legal consequence. A law is set up that includes hell, and someone who goes there is the same as someone who gets a ticket for speeding. Hence, to you, the conclusion is logical and why people can't just apply that to God is baffling. ("Speed, get a ticket." "Disobey God, go to hell.")

Given that God demands perfection, and humans are incapable of such, I view hell more along the lines of something set up where you're punished just for breathing. You're punished for something you're incapable of not doing. Hence, why my analogies go in different directions and why I don't think it's a logical jump from getting a ticket for disobedience, to going to hell for disobedience. I'm saying that it comes across as "Stop breathing, or you'll get sent to hell."

cl said...

But this would again come down to the different viewpoints in God. We have God as an active participant, and the one demanding certain things. Alcohol simply ... is. It can't exert influence or make demands.

The "alcohol" was analogous to "sin," not God. In the context of free will, sin "just is," and it would be as aburd to expect the ability to live a life of sin without consequence as it would be to expect an alcoholic to remain free of consequence.

Any of those circumstances factor into how one acts, and thus the freedom one has to do something.

I think there might be some conflation of absolute freedom and free will going on here. Absolute freedom would logically entail the ability to act free of consequences, i.e., absolute freedom would allow one to live a life of sin without Hell. Free will, on the other hand, is not absolute freedom, but the ability to act without an immanent, undeniably real coercion. At least, those are the definitions I go by.

..I'm saying that the outcomes of the choice influence how the choice will be made, and thus affect the freedom of the decision.

See? You said "freedom of the decision," and not "free will of the decision." I see the two as distinct concepts. I absolutely agree that external factors affect the freedom of the decision (i.e., the ability to do whatever one wants without consequence is compromised). I absolutely disagree that external factors affect the agent's free will.

..as I stated on the other board, if I follow this logic, then I also have to say that the slave is responsible for remaining in slavery, because he didn't choose to disobey.

Yeah, I saw that you'd said that in the thread at chaplain's. I'll think some more and hop back on later. But, think about from the other way.

OneSmallStep said...

Cl,

I noticed your comment about continuing the conversation here.

As I see the word "free," it automatically means that one can do something without consequences. By saying the term "absolute freedom," I see it as having to first redefine what the word "free" means, and thus saying that the definition automatically contains some sort of limitation. If looking at the dictionary, any definition that could possibly relate to what we're discussing means without a repercussion or consequences. "Enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery." "Exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, as a person or one's will, thought, choice, action, etc: independent; unrestricted." "Able to do something at will; at liberty." "Exempt or released from something specified that controls, restrains, burdens." "Unimpeded, as motion or movement." "Not held fast; loose; unattached." "At liberty to enter and enjoy at will."

Which is exactly why I feel I am not free to murder someone, because of the consequences.

** I absolutely disagree that external factors affect the agent's free will.**

But I see the two as the same. Not only that, but you defined free will as the ability to act with an immanent, undeniably real coercion. In the case of the slave, the threat of a beating is that coercion, and thus does limit his free will. In the case of the rapist, the gun is that coercion, and thus does limit the woman's free will.

Xander said...

Your right, I don’t see God as that legalistic. The religion? Sometimes, but that isn’t the discussion.

"Given that God demands perfection, and humans are incapable of such, I view hell more along the lines of something set up where you're punished just for breathing. You're punished for something you're incapable of not doing"

Your view is that you can either follow God and do as good as you possibly can and go to hell or don’t follow God and still go to hell? In that case, the outcome is the same, so you do what you want. Not a problem of free will then.

I have always seen free will as the right to choose regardless of the outcome. Do I choose to kill someone when I know if I don’t I will be killed?

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**Your view is that you can either follow God and do as good as you possibly can and go to hell or don’t follow God and still go to hell?**

That's how evangelical Christianity is presented. Depending on how corrupt the evangelical views the human race, you can either do some good things, but can't be perfect, and thus still are destined for hell (unless you have Jesus), or no matter what good deed you do, it's tainted in some way, so you can never actually do a good deed, and thus are destined from hell either from birth or from the age of accountability (unless you have Jesus).

**Do I choose to kill someone when I know if I don’t I will be killed?**

Whereas to me, if you want to survive, you have no choice in killing the person -- aka, no free will in deciding, because the need for survival trumps all. Hence, no choice made in a vacuum.

Xander said...

That view of Christianity is skewed a bit. No wonder.

So you feel that if you want to survive, you are forced to kill? And if the person you have to kill is your child, do you still make the same choice?

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**That view of Christianity is skewed a bit.**

But in turn, that means a lot of Christians are following that view.

**So you feel that if you want to survive, you are forced to kill? And if the person you have to kill is your child, do you still make the same choice?**

Are we speaking in generalities here, or are we now asking what the other person would specifically do? I'm using the 'you' in a general sense here, and so if the only way for a person to survive is to kill another person, and the person's paramount desire is to survive regardless of anything else, then I see no way around the death of the second person.

In terms of your specific question, I can see situations where a parent might kill a child for survival. If the child is psychotic and threatening the parent. If the parent is part of a group that's fleeing enemy soldiers, and the child is young enough to not understand why everyone needs to be quiet, and thus the child will give away the position. Wanted pregnancies that go wrong.

Xander said...

Trust me, I know. It would be nice to have an official Christian group that had requirements, but then they would dictate beliefs which is the current problem.

I see your position, but I guess this is where we will not agree.

Nancy said...

For me, the argument is, who would love a god who set up the whole hell bit anyway? A god who is going to fry his very own children in hell if they don't get saved, is hardly a god worth loving.

If there was a ruler of a land, and he said, kiss my ring to prove you love me, and if you do not, I am going to burn and torture you.

And, you could hear the screams of the idiots who did not kiss the ring. Is that a good ruler? Is that a ruler worthy of love?

Any God who sets up a system by which a really good man, who loves his handicapped kid, is faithful to his wife, tries so hard to be a good person, but ends up in eternal torment because he did not figure out the right god and worshipped Buddha, or Allah, or The Wind... Well, that is not a good god. No matter how you slice it.

Nancy said...

For me, the argument is, who would love a god who set up the whole hell bit anyway? A god who is going to fry his very own children in hell if they don't get saved, is hardly a god worth loving.

If there was a ruler of a land, and he said, kiss my ring to prove you love me, and if you do not, I am going to burn and torture you.

And, you could hear the screams of the idiots who did not kiss the ring. Is that a good ruler? Is that a ruler worthy of love?

Any God who sets up a system by which a really good man, who loves his handicapped kid, is faithful to his wife, tries so hard to be a good person, but ends up in eternal torment because he did not figure out the right god and worshipped Buddha, or Allah, or The Wind... Well, that is not a good god. No matter how you slice it.

Nancy said...

For me, the argument is, who would love a god who set up the whole hell bit anyway? A god who is going to fry his very own children in hell if they don't get saved, is hardly a god worth loving.

If there was a ruler of a land, and he said, kiss my ring to prove you love me, and if you do not, I am going to burn and torture you.

And, you could hear the screams of the idiots who did not kiss the ring. Is that a good ruler? Is that a ruler worthy of love?

Any God who sets up a system by which a really good man, who loves his handicapped kid, is faithful to his wife, tries so hard to be a good person, but ends up in eternal torment because he did not figure out the right god and worshipped Buddha, or Allah, or The Wind... Well, that is not a good god. No matter how you slice it.

Anonymous said...

Don't think that all of you know everything 'cause you don't know everything just as I don't.

Anonymous said...

There's just one more thing you don't know - atheists know EVERYTHING.

Anonymous 2

StEwPiD_MoNkEy said...

@Xander,

Your child and frying pan analogy is off. Here is why. The child may have no real understanding of the outcome of it's actions. Not only that but the pain associated with touching a hot frying pan is temporary. Whereas the concept of hell is

1. an eternal concept. This punishment is not the same as getting beaten or touch a hot pan.

2. we as sentient beings understand the gravity of such a punishment.

So to say that a choice is a free will action regardless of the outcome is false. Humans don't work this way. We weigh and balance our choices based on the information we have or think we have.

Now, you say that it is better to live forever than to be dead? I don't know. How can one spend an eternity in bliss, knowing friends and family are suffering for eternity. Does this knowledge go away or cease to bother you? If so, then free will doesn't exist even in heaven as you are "changed" from who you fundamentally are.