Media Casualties Mount
Administration Split On Europe Invasion
Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire
Congress Concerned About Diversion From War On Japan
Pot, Kettle On Line Two...
Allies Seize Paris
Gore Book Sales Tank, Supporters Claim Unfair Tactics
Satan Files Lack Of Defamation Suit
Why This Blog Bores People With Space Stuff
A New Beginning
My Hit Parade
Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)
James Lileks Bleats
Winds Of Change (Joe Katzman)
Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson)
Eject Eject Eject (Bill Whittle)
Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Space Flight
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
Nanobot (Howard Lovy)
Lagniappe (Derek Lowe)
Geek Press (Paul Hsieh)
Redwood Dragon (Dave Trowbridge)
Turned Up To Eleven (Paul Orwin)
Cowlix (Wes Cowley)
Quark Soup (Dave Appell)
Assymetrical Information (Jane Galt and Mindles H. Dreck)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen et al)
Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil)
Knowledge Problem (Lynne Kiesling)
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
The Funny Pages
Cox & Forkum
Day By Day
Happy Fun Pundit
Amish Tech Support (Lawrence Simon)
Scrapple Face (Scott Ott)
Quasipundit (Adragna & Vehrs)
England's Sword (Iain Murray)
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick)
Daimnation! (Damian Penny)
Z+ Blog (Andrew Zolli)
The Kolkata Libertarian
Midwest Conservative Journal
Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein et al)
Dean's World (Dean Esmay)
Yippee-Ki-Yay (Kevin McGehee)
Spleenville (Andrea Harris)
Random Jottings (John Weidner)
On the Third Hand (Kathy Kinsley, Bellicose Woman)
Inappropriate Response (Moira Breen)
Inadvertent Comic Relief
Warblogger Watcher (Cowardly Anonymous Idiotarians)
Other Worthy Weblogs
Ain't No Bad Dude (Brian Linse)
A libertarian reads the papers
Anna Franco Review
Ben Kepple's Daily Rant
Dropscan (Shiloh Bucher)
End the War on Freedom
Insolvent Republic of Blogistan
James Reuben Haney
Mind over what matters
Page Fault Interrupt
Sand In The Gears(Anthony Woodlief)
The Blogs of War
The Fly Bottle
The Illuminated Donkey
What she really thinks
Where HipHop & Libertarianism Meet
Zem : blog
Space Policy Links
The Space Review
The Space Show
Space Frontier Foundation
Space Policy Digest BBS
USS Clueless (Steven Den Beste)
Unremitting Verse (Will Warren)
World View (Brink Lindsay)
The Last Page
More Than Zero (Andrew Hofer)
Pathetic Earthlings (Andrew Lloyd)
Spaceship Summer (Derek Lyons)
The New Space Age (Rob Wilson)
Rocketman (Mark Oakley)
Site designed by
I have zero, no--make that negative--desire to see Mel Gibson's latest flick, for exactly the reasons that Andrew Sullivan (as devout a Catholic as it's possible for a gay man to be) describes.
The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and despicable piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the Gospels. It shows a man being flayed alive - slowly, methodically and with increasing savagery. We first of all witness the use of sticks, then whips, then multiple whips with barbed glass or metal. We see flesh being torn out of a man's body. Just so that we can appreciate the pain, we see the whip first tear chunks out of a wooden table. Then we see pieces of human skin flying through the air. We see Jesus come back for more. We see blood spattering on the torturers' faces. We see muscled thugs exhausted from shredding every inch of this man's body. And then they turn him over and do it all again. It goes on for ever. And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood. It is an absolutely unforgivable, vile, disgusting scene. No human being could sruvive it. Yet for Gibson, it is the h'ors d'oeuvre for his porn movie.
I respect the faith of those who do believe and accept the story of Christ--they are clearly, for the most part, sincere. But it's one that has never had any resonance to me--it simply makes no sense, and I am bemused by the bizarre notion that I had anything to do with an event which, if it happened at all, happened two millennia ago. Sorry, no, we didn't all kill him. I accept no responsibility whatsoever.
I also have trouble getting my head around the notion that (as some have stated over at the Corner) this was "the greatest crime in history." Greater than the Holocaust? Greater than the Cultural Revolution? Greater than the deliberate starvation of the Ukrainians? Really?
Only if one accepts the premise. (And no, please don't try to persuade me, or others, of the truth of the Gospels in my comments section--there will be no sale, and it just wastes my bandwidth and disk space--in fact, I will delete any preaching or witnessing--providing a forum for others to proselytize on subjects of little interest to me is not the purpose of my web site).
It seems to me that Mr. Gibson has simply transferred his love of gory cinema to a purpose that he considers higher than money-making shoot'em ups. Perhaps if I were a believer, I might be willing to sit through such an exaggerated reenactment, but given my lack of belief about it, I see no redeeming value to the movie, at least for me, and Mr. Gibson will not be receiving any of my money for his little venture.
[Update on Friday morning]
Leon Wieseltier agrees with me, and much more eloquently (of course, he's actually seen the thing). He too, calls it a "sacred snuff film."
It will be objected that I see only pious pornography in The Passion of the Christ because I am not a believer in the Christ. This is certainly so. I do not agree that Jesus is my savior or anybody else's. I confess that I smiled when the credits to The Passion of the Christ listed "stunts." So I am not at all the person for whom Gibson made this movie. But I do not see how a belief in Jesus strengthens the case for such a film. Quite the contrary. Belief, a theory of meaning, a philosophical convenience, is rarely far away from cruelty. Torture has always been attended by explanations that vindicate it, and justify it, and even hallow it. These explanations, which are really extenuations, have been articulated in religious and in secular terms. Their purpose is to redescribe an act of inhumanity so that it no longer offends, so that it comes to seem necessary, so that it edifies. My victim of torture is your martyr.
While I'm willing to accept that a belief in Jesus strengthens the case for such a film (or at least I find the proposition no more baffling than a belief in Jesus itself), I can't imagine that it would have any influence in creating a belief in Jesus. This is a film for hard-core Christians, and it certainly won't hold any sway over people for whom there's not at least a seed of belief to begin with.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2004 07:33 AM
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference this post from Transterrestrial Musings.
Still More Passion
Excerpt: Who knew that a movie about Christ's death would be a murder mystery. A lot more gory than my favorite, Miss Marple or her Americanization, Jessica Fletcher, but a murder mystery nevertheless. I suppose the whole "Who Shot J.R.?" thing...
Weblog: Funmurphys: the Blog
Tracked: February 26, 2004 10:52 AM
Still More Passion
Excerpt: Who knew that a movie about Christ's death would be a murder mystery. A lot more gory than my favorite, Miss Marple or her Americanization, Jessica Fletcher, but a murder mystery nevertheless. I suppose the whole "Who Shot J.R.?" thing...
Weblog: Funmurphys: the Blog
Tracked: February 26, 2004 04:32 PM
Yea as I heard reports of how violent the film is I satirically pictured in my mind the character that Mel played in 'We Were Soldiers' being dressed up as Jesus and being attacked by the evil evil jewish Vietnamese. However, people have been saying that the movie might have more redeeming qualities for people that don't believe cause then you get to see two hours of a false prophet being beaten on.
Oh and another new word I learned today:
pros·e·ly·tize ( P ) Pronunciation Key (prs-l-tz)
I also have trouble getting my head around the notion that (as some have stated over at the Corner) this was "the greatest crime in history."
The most bizarre thing about the greatest-crime-in-history idea is that according to Christian doctrine it was Jesus's suffering and death on the cross that redeemed our sins. If it hadn't happened we'd all be condemned to everlasting hellfire. So not only was killing Jesus not a crime, it was in fact (if you accept Christian doctrine) the greatest favor ever done to the world.
But Christians have never let logic stand in the way of self-righteousness.
You're on my rosary list, Mr. Simberg.Posted by bchan at February 26, 2004 10:13 AM
Thank you, Bruce. May your god always be with you.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2004 10:25 AM
The death and resurrection of Jesus was not only supposed to be the redeeming act for all of us, it was pre-ordained and destined to happen. That was Jesus' purpose for the world. Those involved in his crucifiction were playing the parts they were destined to play.
As to the violence, it was a bit over the top. I took it as an antidote to the years of films that basically showed Ted Nugent carrying a paper mache' cross up a hill on a sunny day while those around him sang, "Jesus Christ, Superstar."
Overall, I thought the movie was well made and reminded me of the sacrifices made for my faith.
BobPosted by Bob at February 26, 2004 10:40 AM
Somehow i liked Porter and William Wallace much more.Posted by kert at February 26, 2004 11:02 AM
Bob, I've no problem with someone explaining doctrine here for the purposes of discussing the movie in context--I just want to avoid actual arguments about whether it's true or not, and discourage anyone from doing so with the mistaken belief or hope that I will somehow suddenly see the light. It won't happen, and I don't want people to waste my bandwidth and server space (and my other readers' time) in the attempt.
It goes the other way, too. I've also no interest in hosting a Christian bash. Posts of either nature will be terminated with extreme prejudice.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2004 11:11 AM
you might be surprised to learn how liberating it is to NEVER GO SEE ANY MOVIE !
seriously, it keeps you out of boring conversations about the 'importance' of this or that piece of pretentious Hollywood BS ..
I'm not kidding!Posted by JonofAtlanta at February 26, 2004 11:14 AM
Not planning on seeing the movie myself; although I do consider the gospels to be the honest record of history from the perspective of four writers (some of which is apparently not eye-witness testimony, but collected from public records of the time.)
Putting the movie aside for a moment... I've always been curious as to why some consider any recollection of this event as being some kind of 'jew-bashing.' Take the Romans out of the picture and all you have left are jews. It boggles my mind.
Mr. Sullivan wrote"...The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and despicable piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the Gospels."
Maybe you should watch the movie before you make up your mind. Nothing in it will harm you. It might make you think, but nothing bad ever happened from continuously questioning.
Some people are afraid of even questioning the doctrine of atheism. It sounds like you have an awful lot of fear.Posted by at February 26, 2004 01:04 PM
The issue isn't whether or not the Romans tortured people--of course they did. It's whether the amount of torture portrayed in the movie would have allowed him to survive to carry the cross up the hill and be nailed to it and continue to live beyond that for any significant period of time. I haven't read the Gospels lately, but I doubt if they have enough specificity for you to gainsay Andrew's take. Even forgetting all of the other insult to his body, I would think that the exsanguination alone would be enough to kill, if there's as much blood flying around as described.
Perhaps rather than Andrew's opinion, we should get that of a forensic physician, but it wouldn't surprise me at all, given Mel Gibson's cinematic history, that the scene was greatly exaggerated for effect.
In any event, even if it was totally true to life, my lack of interest (and no, to the anonymous amateur psychological poster, it's not fear, just lack of interest) remains. Particularly as I grow older, life is too short to spend a couple hours of it in a movie theatre to watch what would be, to me, a gruesome snuff flick, regardless of how meaningful it may be to devout Christians.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2004 01:19 PM
Every news story I?ve seen where I have personal information has been incorrect in important ways. Eye witnesses are often flat wrong. Our interpretation of RECENT history is often very different from accounts of the people at the time, the view of the same events change decade by decade. Just compare history books from a few decades ago to today?s.
So when we are discussing something that happened roughly 2000 years ago (exact date, anyone? Anyone?) to people with a very different culture, with people at the time, retellers during the many centuries, and various groups today all having different axes to grind, excuse me if I find an argument about the details baffling and amusing.
I used to get into religious arguments. I finally learned the fundamental truth: We all have certain beliefs that are not reached by logic, and will not be changed by any reasonable argument. The only thing I expect is that you leave me alone to believe what I want and I?ll do the same. Try to push me around, and I?ll push back. Beyond that, leave it alone, because all argument is going to do is tick both of us off. Public issues are going to come up we aren?t going to agree on (like abortion, like stem cell research, etc.) and there are enough of those, PLEASE don?t go on about what you think may have happened 2000 years ago. Yeesh.
Of course, Mark Twain said it a lot better than I can. A massively shortened piece from ?Christian Science?:
?Those of us who are not in the asylum, and not demonstrably due there, are nevertheless, no doubt, insane in one or two particulars ? Now there are really several things which we do all see alike; things which we all accept, and about which we do not dispute? [but when] I ? examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. [A] thoughtful ? Mohammedan knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic--for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his.?
He goes on to include Republicans, Democrats and many others. I'll happily add myself.Posted by VR at February 26, 2004 02:35 PM
Oh, I should also add, for what it's worth, that I'm not an atheist. I just don't believe in God (which isn't the same thing as believing there's no God).Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2004 03:23 PM
It brought a smile to my day when I realized that you've provided a living example of something Paul wrote. Namely that, to paraphrase, the Gospel message is nonsense to those who don't believe. As one Wash. DC area preacher says on his 30 second radio spots... "Not a sermon, just a thought."
BTW, since you stated above that you've no interest in hosting a Christian bash either (and you are to be soundly congratulated for the reasonable ground rules you've set on what could've been a minefield), I'm curious as to the existence of Ron Garret's post up near the top, given that last sentence of his.
- Eric.Posted by Eric S. at February 26, 2004 04:10 PM
Sorry, I sometimes let me own passions run away with me. I should have said "Some Christians..." I apologise for casting blanket aspersions.
> I am bemused by the bizarre notion that I had
> I also have trouble getting my head around the
> Only if one accepts the premise. (And no,
Why bother, Rand? We are discussing religion after all. Whether it makes any sense to you or me (and I agree 100% with you, being an agnostic/ateist myself) is totally irrelevant.
Posted by Marcus Lindroos at February 27, 2004 12:03 AM
None of you understand. You are all wrong.
The crucifixion of Christ WAS the greatest crime in history -- greater than the holocaust, greater than all of Mao's and Stalin's economic disasters.
You might all continue pointing to such great injustices of history. It seems to be common among atheists and agnostics to point to one profound injustice or another as evidence that no righteous God can exist. And I find that they frequently heap scorn on the God they don't believe in and cry out in righteous indignation for vengeance on the perpetrators of great crimes.
The problem is that, though none of you realize it, we are all great sinners. None of us deserve the life that is given to us or the many good things that all of us have. Each new morning we wake up is a testament of God's abundant mercy, to which none of us have rightful claim.
All the horrible things that might happen to us in life -- all the seeming injustices -- are quite truly much more merciful than the eternal damnation we deserve. How can those who deserve to be cast into hell charge God with while they live?
But there was one grave injustice that did take place. There was one innocent man who lived and had many bad things happen to him. And he was the only of us who deserved none of it. And this innocent man was crucified for sinners -- for guilty criminals.
The answer to the question of who killed Jesus is not, "We all did." The answer is "God did."
And now if God can ever be accused of injustice,
Forgive this long post. I feel strongly about this. Perhaps some of you saw Gibson's movie. Remember the scene in which Barabbas, the insurrectionist and criminal, was made to go free while Jesus was to be crucified? We did not all kill Jesus. But we all stand in the place of Barabbas. We are criminals granted freedom at the expense of a righteous man.
I challenge any of you to name a greater injustice.Posted by Kreliav at February 27, 2004 12:22 AM
> It seems to be common among atheists and
Then again, I am not God. I guess Rand and I will suffer eternal pain for not choosing the only correct faith among 1,000+ organized religions -- whatever that might be.
Posted by Marcus Lindroos at February 27, 2004 04:16 AM
Ignoring the childish nickname for the President, that's already starting to happen. Of course, none of those folks (or me) have ever been that enamored of Mr. Bush. I can't speak for them, and I'm not thrilled with his presidency (and never have been), but it remains preferable to the alternative, because the Democrats don't seem to understand that there are still people out there who want to kill us for who we are and what we believe, and that they won't be dissuaded by severe frowns from the UN. They also don't seem to understand that we want to keep our money. So Mr. Bush will have to do a lot worse than give lip service to a constitutional amendment that will never happen to lose my vote.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 27, 2004 06:22 AM
"To me, it sounds far more logical that all these holy books are the works of crazed religious fanatics hell-bent on controlling other people."
...and it sounds to me like you are painting with an awful wide brush.Posted by ken anthony at February 27, 2004 08:27 AM
> I challenge any of you to name a greater injustice.
According to Christian doctrine (or at least according to fundamentalist Christian doctrine -- I know most Christrians don't really believe this any more) a fetus that is spontaneously aborted through natural processes (and thus in accordance with God's will) dies with the stain of original sin on its soul, and is therefore condemned to spend eternity in hell. Even the most intense and prolonged earthly suffering pales in comparison. All those poor innocent kids - billions upon billions of them - are now eternal participants in the great wailing and gnashing of teeth and (and this has always really been the kicker for me) they have no idea why. One minute they pop into existence, the next minute they're in hell. Never heard of Jesus. Never even had a brain capable of formulating the concept.
Whaddya think? Would that be a contender?
With regards to Ron's "greater injusticed": I think you've got it wrong, Ron. Stillborn babies go to limbo, not hell, along with everyone else who doesn't know about God.Posted by Rick C at February 27, 2004 09:47 AM
> Mr. Bush will have to do a lot worse than give
Do humanity a favor and vote for the local libertarian candidate instead (whoever he might be).
MARCU$Posted by Marcus Lindroos at February 27, 2004 10:01 AM
"Do humanity a favor"?
You're pretty funny, Marcus. You folks really believe this Bush = Hitler nonsense, don't you?Posted by Rand Simberg at February 27, 2004 10:09 AM
I don't know much about a place "Limbo" for such a place is never spoken of in the Bible anywhere. Forgive my theological partisanship, but it strikes me as another silly Catholic myth.
Ron, you have waded into deep theological waters, and so now you will have to excuse such a technical explanation.
Christian 'fundamentalist' doctrine, as I know it, teaches that the reprobate procure their own destruction through acts of impiety, wickedness, rebellion. Reprobate infants, though guilty of original sin, cannot procure their own destruction through such acts while they are infants. They must then live to the years of moral responsibility in order to to procure their own condemnation.
Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for an infinite number of people, and consequently, God is quite able to make that sacrifice efficient even for infants who never saw life.
Because reprobate infants must live to such an age of moral responsibility, it is believed that no reprobate infants die and are lost while they are infants. It logically follows therefore that all those that do die in infancy are among the elect. They are saved and will see no condemnation.
Your objection then is based on doctrinally inaccurate information.Posted by Kreliav at February 27, 2004 11:20 AM
You can believe what you want, but frankly, I find a discussion on the subjects you mention as useful as an argument over the number of angels that fit on the head of a pin, or how many brownies live in the average house. A discussion is meaningless unless everyone agrees on the implicit assumptions, and you make a LOT of assumptions.
But I would like to know how you treat those who don?t believe what you do. Do you accept that they should also be allowed to have their own beliefs and live their lives the way they want to? Do you treat them differently if they don?t accept your concept of God, sin, or that they supposedly are responsible for something that happened two millennia ago?
I do find statements like ?You are all wrong? and what could be interpreted as downplaying several instances of megadeath as troubling. That probably wasn?t your intent, but statements like that are exactly the sort of strong statements that many would not agree with or understand, and can lead to the most bitter fights. You might want to be a bit more careful about HOW you say these things.Posted by VR at February 27, 2004 02:58 PM
I understand that issues such as the holocaust are not to be trivialized, and to do so was not my intention. Though you may find provocative my statement that the crucifixion was a greater injustice, bear in mind that I was not the one who raised this sensitive issue. And if you find yourself indignant when very sensitive issues are not accorded proper respect, perhaps you should direct your indignation at Rand Simberg and the authors of some of his responses who were so quick to trivialize the crucifixion.
I feel no real need to respond to your other suggestions. You have noted the boldness and self-assurance that my argument conveys. And I will clarify it this way: boldness and self-assurance are no evidence of intolerance. So your suggestion seems to me rather baseless.
I am able to make such confident, sweeping assertions because, very simply, I believe that my beliefs are true and right. If you cannot say the same thing, perhaps you ought to ask yourself if you have any beliefs.Posted by Kreliav at February 27, 2004 04:57 PM
> you will have to excuse such a technical explanation.
Actually, I appreciate the sober response.
> They must then live to the years of moral responsibility in order to to procure their own condemnation.
I don't really want to get too deeply into this, but the fact of the matter is some people really do believe what I described (and at one time in history it was the prevalent view, which turned out to be quite lucrative for Pope Leo X de Medici). I'll just note that on your theory it would be a noble act to kill a child before they are able to "procure their destruction" by reaching the "years of moral repsonsibility" (whatever that is -- the phrase "moral responsibility" does not occur in the Bible (Hm. Isn't that interesting?)) because then you put your own soul at risk to guarantee the kid a free pass into heaven.
I'm glad you don't mind theologically-heavy responses. All of your objections seem to demand one.
First of all, it doesn't much matter to me what Christians have believed in the past. Many Christians, current and throughout history, have believed many things that were simply wrong.
This is my theological framework, and so I get to make the rules. I am defending ideas and not people.
I suppose a mass infanticide would result in countless infants seeing life only in heaven. But you are incorrect to think that in such an event, the killer is saving his victims from an eternity in hell and guaranteeing for them salvation they otherwise would not have had. Your mistake is to assume that age is a determining factor in whether or not one is elect or reprobate.
Whether the subject of discussion is an infant or a grown adult well past the age of moral responsibility, individuals are saved because God sovereignly purposed in eternity past that Jesus would die for their sins. They are saved because he selected them. Their age at the time of death is quite irrelevant.
God is not some bungling ruler who keeps a loose grip on the reigns of the universe. Do you suppose that some lunatic could, by murdering a few infants, take God by surprise and force him to revise his plans for the destinies of the victims?
My guess is that you don't believe in God. If I saw God in the same light you did -- as an incompetent ruler constantly duped by his own creation -- I don't know that I would believe in him either.
The lack of records of the crucifiction are hardly the only issue with the life of Christ. But there are whole volumes written on this and I've only read a few of them. The problem is this is religion and facts are irrelevent.
I agree with Rand and Andrew Sullivan, I'm not going to see this movie. I'm also, having not just read about this but some of Gibsons other views, probably going to avoid his stuff in future.
I'm much happier as a recovering Catholic myself. I can't say that I'm an athiest. But a Judeo-Christian god figure? Nah, doesn't really fit any of the evidence.Posted by Dave at February 28, 2004 06:08 AM
> But you are incorrect to think that in such an event, the killer is saving his victims from an eternity in hell and guaranteeing for them salvation they otherwise would not have had.
I didn't say that. I said the killer is saving them from the risk of hellfire. But given that hellfire is so unimaginably more terrible than any possible earthly suffering surely nothing is worth taking that risk, and it would be the height of villainy to allow an innocent child to grow to the age where he or she had to do so?
> Their age at the time of death is quite irrelevant.
First you said "reprobate infants must live to such an age of moral responsibility" before they can "procure their own destruction" and now you say that their age at the time of death is irrelevant. You are not being coherent.
>Do you suppose that some lunatic could, by murdering a few infants, take God by surprise and force him to revise his plans for the destinies of the victims?
I have no idea, though that does seem to me to be a logical consequence of your theory of moral responsibility. Logically there is no way around this. Either (at least some) fetuses go to hell, or you're doing them a favor by killing them. There is no logical alternative.
The idea that Jesus's death on the cross was essential to our salvation is also logically at odds with the idea that God cannot be forced to revise His plans. Imagine that the Romans (or the Jews or whoever it was) had decided to accept the Word and not kill Jesus after all. That would have forced God to revise his plans. He would have to either find someone else to crucify Jesus, change His mind about the necessity of the crucifiction, or forego our salvation and let us all burn. There is no other logical possibility.
> Many Christians, current and throughout history, have believed many things that were simply wrong.
Indeed. Have you considered the possibility that you may be among them?
I will have to repeat and clarify.
>I didn't say that. I said the killer is saving them from the risk of hellfire.
This is a very simple concept. Infants are either among the elect or they are not. If a killer were to stand over an elect infant with sword in hand, it matters little if he strikes or not. If he does not, he is not forcing him to undergo any more risk. If an elect infant does live to the age of moral responsibility, God will bring him to faith in his Son's sacrifice. Just so we're clear now: if an elect infant is murdered, he's not being saved from any risk.
>First you said "reprobate infants must live to such an age of moral responsibility" before they can "procure their own destruction" and now you say that their age at the time of death is irrelevant. You are not being coherent.
I'm being perfectly coherent. I also said that reprobate infants inevitably do live to procure their own destruction. They don't die while they are infants. I would say that their status as reprobate affects their time of death since they will live to procure their own destruction. I think your point is that their status as reprobate can be changed if they die at as infants. But they don't die as infants. God has a single fixed plan with no loopholes. It's very simple. The elect die as infants. The reprobate do not. And God is not taken by surprise with the death of a reprobate infant. It doesn't happen. And so your point is quite irrelevant.
>Imagine that the Romans (or the Jews or whoever it was) had decided to accept the Word and not kill Jesus after all. That would have forced God to revise his plans.
You are suggesting that God could be taken by surprise and forced to revise his plans if the Romans and Jews had taken him by surprise and forced him to revise his plans for the crucifixion. I suppose that's true. If you take the possibility that God can be taken by surprise as a given occurence, it doesn't leave much room for an alternative. The problem is that it didn't happen this way, and so it makes little sense to take your hypothetical as a given occurence. You're not really making much of a point there.
I've had to explain these concepts twice now. You will not get a response if your next post demands a third explanation of the same concepts.Posted by Kreliav at February 28, 2004 11:22 AM
Kerliav kicked all yous guys buttsPosted by WAAKOW at February 28, 2004 11:45 AM
> If you take the possibility that God can be taken by surprise as a given occurence, it doesn't leave much room for an alternative.
If you deny that God can be taken by surprise then that leaves no room for free will. A preordained choice is not a choice.
> It's very simple. The elect die as infants. The reprobate do not.
Ah. So killing a fetus invariably results in its soul going to heaven, not because killing a fetus causes its soul to go to heaven, but because if the fetus was killed then that fetus must have been a member of the elect.
Then my next question is: do you oppose abortion because it is "killing the unborn"? Beause on your view abortion is nothing more than an experimental test for membership in the elect. It is impossible to kill a reprobate fetus, so if we attempt it the hand of God or fate or something intervenes to insure that the kid survives to the age of moral responsibility so that it has a chance to accept Christ and be redeemed. The only possible consequence of an abortion is that we send a member of the elect off to heaven a little ahead of schedule (and since it's all preordained anyway it's not even ahead of schedule -- or do abortions take God by surprise?)
What a unique theology.
> You will not get a response if your next post demands a third explanation of the same concepts.
Fine by me.
I agree totally with you, Andrew Sullivan, and Leon Wieseltier regarding Mel Gibsons movie. I absolutely will not see it - for the same reasons stated and more. As a "believer" who professes a love of Christ why would I want to see Him so treated? If a close family member was tortured to death would one want to re-enact prolonged gory details of it on video? Porn violence is right! Makes me ashamed of the so-called Christians who flock to see it and then call it a "religious" experience. Real Christians believe that the conversion change in heart comes only from the influence of the Holy Spirit - which I'm sure will be no where near the theater when this movie is shown!Posted by Jay Mackley at February 28, 2004 08:26 PM
>If you deny that God can be taken by surprise then that leaves no room for free will.
Actually I believe that God created every person with their precise characteristics in mind. He knew very well what he was creating and consequently knew how they would react to every single situation. This is consistent with my view that God is not taken by surprise. Consequently, no violation is done to the human will and yet the events of history follow God's fixed plan.
Yet you continue to proceed from the assumption that God has no plan and that the actions of humans can trump his design. Your argument is based heavily on this assumption and seems to rely primarily on condescending rhetoric as a substitute for logical analysis. Consider your statement:
>It is impossible to kill a reprobate fetus, so if we attempt it the hand of God or fate or something intervenes to insure that the kid survives to the age of moral responsibility...
This ridiculous hypothetical is so problematic, I hardly know where to begin. First, it's impossible to know if anyone is reprobate or elect. So it would be hard to "attempt" to kill a reprobate. Secondly, this hypothetical assumes that in attempting to kill the reprobate, God is once again taken by surprise and forced to intervene. You seem unable or unwilling to accept a view of God as anything other than a bumbling idiot who cannot control his own creation. If you want to continue to superimpose this derogatory view of God onto my theological framework, then forgive me for ignoring such straw-man arguments.
>The only possible consequence of an abortion is that we send a member of the elect off to heaven a little ahead of schedule (and since it's all preordained anyway it's not even ahead of schedule -- or do abortions take God by surprise?)
Not really. I think abortion is wrong because it's wrong to deny anybody life. Most people feel that way about murder.
If you want to discuss other theological or political issues that have no relevance whatever to the original discussion, feel free to drop me an e-mail. By wandering so far off the original topic, you are not saving face. You are digging yourself a deeper hole. These are very complex theological issues in which I have received much education and you evidently have not.
> By wandering so far off the original topic
That depends on what you consider the original topic. The "original" original topic was Mel Gibson's movie. Then you wrote:
>I challenge any of you to name a greater injustice [than the killing of Jesus]
to which I responded (making some assumptions about your theology):
So it seems to me that we are not so far off topic.
> rely primarily on condescending rhetoric
No, my arguments rely only on your premises and elementary logic. It is you who said that the elect die in infancy. All I did was to point out some of the logical consequences of this assumption.
If you want condescending, consider this:
> I have received much education and you evidently have not.
And then go read Matthew 7:5.
Ron - you seem to be under the impression that believers haven't given much thought to the consequences of their faith. All of the issues you raise have been thoroughly hashed over during the past 2000 years. The fact that every time Kreliav gives a rebuttal to one of your points you can come up with some hole in it isn't a sign that the theology is flawed, just that it's far more complex and subtle than can be explained in a few brief paragraphs. From Kreliav's responses I gather he's a calvinist, so he is able to resolve the free will issue as he's presented it above. There are other theologies which take different approaches, but for the most part they are complete and coherent, requiring only a few articles of faith in order to believe. If you do not have faith then the theologies will not make sense. If you do, they will. There is no way around the requirement for faith, and no way to argue a person out of a coherent position based on faith.
As to the notion of predestination being at odds with free will, here's how it's handled by the (pseudo)Baptist sect I grew up in: Given complete free will, the fact that it is known that a free actor chose a certain course of action in the past does not mean that the course of action was not freely chosen. Since God exists outside of time, in effect viewing all time from a point infinitely distant in the future, he knows which free choice each and every one of us will make. Therefore he knows who will make the choices leading to salvation, and who will make choices leading to damnation. He is neither surprised by the choices we make, nor does he constrain them in any way. There is therefore no conflict between free will and God's omniscience.
I happen to lack the faith required to believe (due to the fact that I don't see the need to invoke God in order to explain what I observe in the world around me). That doesn't mean that all those who do have faith are idiots who haven't thought through the full consequences of their faith. Many very intelligent and thoughtful people have had faith, and have wrestled with these issues to the point of reaching a logical and rational conclusion.
> Ron - you seem to be under the impression that believers haven't given much thought to the consequences of their faith.
I don't believe I have made any statement whatsoever about believers in general. I did make one blanket statement about Christians earlier. I have since retracted that statement and apologised for it.
> All of the issues you raise have been thoroughly hashed over during the past 2000 years.
I am well aware of that. I am actually quite familiar with all of these arguments, and I know how they play out. The argument underlying the claim that Christ's death is the greatest injustice in history tends to play out as anti-semitism, which is one of the reasons I am feeling motivated to debunk it. See below for another.
> That doesn't mean that all those who do have faith are idiots who haven't thought through the full consequences of their faith.
First, I have not called anyone an idiot. Failure to apply logical or to think through all the logical consequences of one's beliefs is a far cry from idiocy.
Second, I find that many (not all) of the fundamentalist Christians with which I have had discussions about this have in fact not thought through the consequences of their beliefs. The usual result when someone does point some of them out is cognitive dissonance, because many of the logical consequences of fundamentalist Christian doctrine are at odds with most people's moral intuition.
> There is therefore no conflict between free will and God's omniscience.
Sorry, but there is. If God has forseen that I will do X and there is no possibility that He is wrong then I have no choice but to do X. Wishing it were otherwise will not make it so. The possibility of surprise even for an omniscient god is a necessary logical consequence of free will.
> Many very intelligent and thoughtful people have had faith, and have wrestled with these issues to the point of reaching a logical and rational conclusion.
Faith by definition is a belief that is not founded on evidence or reason. The people who have thought about these issues through the ages may well have been intelligent and thoughtful, but their conclusions are neither logical nor rational. Please note that this is not the same as saying that the conclusions are wrong, or that these people are idiots. The idea that logic and rationality are reliable guides to Truth is itself an article of faith which one is perfectly free to reject if one chooses to -- and, I might add, if one is capable of doing so. It might come as a surprise to you to learn that I actually don't believe in free will when it comes to belief. My personal experience is that I can not voluntarily choose what I believe any more than I can voluntary choose what foods taste good to me. I don't know, maybe some people can just wake up one morning and decide that from here on out they're going to like lima beans. But I haven't figured out how to do it.
So it's perfectly OK and understandable to me that someone would believe in Jesus, and even that someone would believe that His death is the greatest injustice ever. But when you claim that these beliefs are logical then you are insulting me and my faith. (And if you think I've wandered off topic here go back and read Kreliav's original message.)
Ron - first, I apologise for overstating your position in suggesting you though that people of faith are idiots. We can both agree that certainly some haven't though through the implications of their faith, while others have.
Now to a point of disagreement:
RG: Sorry, but there is. If God has forseen that I will do X and there is no possibility that He is wrong then I have no choice but to do X. Wishing it were otherwise will not make it so. The possibility of surprise even for an omniscient god is a necessary logical consequence of free will."
I'm afraid I see no conflict. Or at least, I see no conflict in what I claim - what you claim is slightly different: God has *forseen* what you will do. Existing outside of time, god *cannot* forsee, since that would imply that from the perspective of god, the event hasn't yet happened. Proceeding from the assumption that god sees all time as a single dimension, with no forced progression along it (which we experience as the passage of time, and which makes it meaningful for us to talk in terms of past, present and future), god has full knowledge without constraining our choices. It is no different in its implications for free will than the example I gave earlier. Knowing what someone did in the past is no constraint on their free choice at the time the choice was made.
This whole thing requires some oddball thinking that is at odds with intuition, but that no more makes it false than the weirdnesses of quantum mechanics make QM false.Posted by Andrew Case at March 1, 2004 08:24 AM
> Existing outside of time
You are introducing yet another theology, and one which is at odds with scripture. There is a lot of Biblical support for the idea that God exists in time (Genesis1:27, Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:10-14). But that is neither here nor there. No doubt religious scholars have counterarguments.
> god has full knowledge without constraining our choices
Here you are implicity redefining the word "knowledge". The common usage of the word necessarily implies classical information theory and temporal progression, otherwise the distinction between "knowing" and "not knowing" is rendered non-sensical. It is certainly possible to conceive of God as something analogous to the four-dimensional quantum wave function of the universe, but that is a concept of god (small g) that is so far removed from the common and the Biblical concept of God (big G) that it requires a whole different conversation. Such a god cannot "know" anything, cannot "do" anything, it just "is". It makes no sense to pray to such a god, or to seek salvation from it. The nature of such a god is so far removed from our reality that it makes no sense to say that we are created in its image. (Well, maybe one could interpret that to mean that man's true nature is also trans-temporal and that our perception of ourselves as classical temporal entities is an illusion (I happen to believe that is actually the case on scientific grounds, but that is a whole 'nother kettle of fish) but then what is one to make of Genesis 1:27?)
I found that I had a lot more to say about this, but rather than continue to clutter up Rand's comments section I decided to post it over in my blog. Anyone interested in continuing this discussion is welcome there.
Rand, I think that one of the top two or three Jesus films ever made was the mini-series _Jesus of Nazareth_, directed by Franco Zefirelli (sp?). He was in a car crash, and was shaken into considering his own mortality. This film was the result. I recommend setting aside three evenings and taking it in, if you want to enjoy a well-done Jesus flick.Posted by The Sanity Inspector at March 1, 2004 08:17 PM
Folks might want to look at "Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie" at www.theonion.com. THIS IS MEANT TO BE HUMOR. Given the basic concept, I thought it was actually pretty mild, given Onion's typical fare. People with other religious or philosophical viewpoints may differ. You have been warned.
Incidentally, the "conversation" here has gone the way just about every religious argument I've ever seen - people talking at each other, with no possibility of agreement on fundamental differences. Once you find out what those are, further argument is useless. Try to let each other believe what they want and live how they want, as long as that includes them doing the same.Posted by VR at March 2, 2004 02:55 PM
Post a comment