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God creating life and then taking a break:

 51 Kostya, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 4:38:02 PM from Everywhere
The Razruchityel
The main problem I have with the Bible, as a Christian, is that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament just can't be the same entity. Its demeanor is entirely different and, to be blunt, the Old Testament God is kind of a jackass when you look at some of the things it does. This doesn't seem anything like the God of Love that the New Testament seems to portray him as.

Now the only explanation I have for this is that between the two God had some form of epiphany and released that he was being a colossal jerk to us. Problem. How is this possible? God is apparently perfect so by definition it shouldn't have to change the way it acts since whatever it does is right and just (unless of course justice isn't a part of perfection but the Bible leads us to believe it is).

Now to tie all this back to the thread. I recall two friends (agnostic and Hindu) contemplating this one day and they said something I found very interesting. "Maybe God stopped doing miracles and stuff because he realized that he caused more harm than good and decided to see if we could figure out how to be good ourselves. Jesus was just here to show us the first step down that path."

 52 Deviant Braeburn, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 4:42:56 PM from Dysfunctional California
Wandering Jew
I still hold the belief that God works on Blue and Orange Morality to a degree.

...Is this Off-topic?

And is there any point of staying On-Topic?
Everything is Possible.

But some things are more Probable than others.
JEBAGEDDON 2016

 53 Kostya, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 5:14:24 PM from Everywhere
The Razruchityel
Given what we're liking talking about I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. I mean think about what God is. It's apparently a being that exists outside time which means it perceives everything that has happened and ever will happen all at once. We can't even conceive how a being such as that might think about things. Then there's the fact that us eating from the tree was against God's will except it could have stopped us from eating the fruit so he allowed us to go against his will...

Ugh. This is giving me a headache.

edited 3rd Oct '12 5:15:31 PM by Kostya

 54 Knightof Lsama, Thu, 4th Oct '12 1:51:12 AM from The Sea of Chaos
It's funny how different the unchanging, distant God of theologians is from the flawed and very human God of the Bible.

Actually I recently ran across an interesting article on that topic: Is Yaweh a boy? It posits that at lot of the... odder behaviour in the earlier books of the Old Testament/Pentateuch comes from the fusion of the more 'cosmological law maker' of the Priestly Tradition and the Coming of Age story of the Canaanite Tribal Child God.

And just in case it wasn't clear from reading my post, the articles analyses the formation of the Abrahamic faiths from the same point of view of one tracing the historical origins of something like the legends of Ancient Greece, Egypt or Babylon.
Welcome to the Sea of Chaos
Is that cake frosting?
Now the only explanation I have for this is that between the two God had some form of epiphany and released that he was being a colossal jerk to us. Problem.
Another possible explanation, if one is not a literalist, might be that the Old Testament was written by people who, yes, were divinely inspired and described genuine religious experiences, but who also lived a few thousands years ago and in an entirely different culture — one that, among other things, was a lot more xenophobic and violent and misogynistic than anything that you could find today anywhere but in the most unpleasant parts of the Third World.

And yes, historically, I think that there is little doubt that the Hebrews initially thought of God as simply their tribal deity, quite possibly in some sort of henotheistic framework; and that gradually, they came to the idea of the monotheistic God. They were hardly the only ones who got such an idea, by the way — for example, consider Xenophanes, an early Greek philosopher who wrote about
"One god, greatest among gods and humans,
like mortals neither in form nor in thought."
Of course, the main difference is that the Hebrews, in an act of supreme daring, decided to follow this supreme, transcendent being. They decided to listen to His commands — to think it even possible that this entity beyond being itself might want to converse with them and give them orders — and they put themselves under His protection. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, this supreme, transcendent way allowed Himself to be gradually understood by the Hebrews.

And then along came Christianity, with the even more gloriously mad idea that this entity "like mortals neither in form nor in thought" is a human being who was born, preached a bizarre doctrine, and got Himself nailed to some pieces of wood cool

EDIT:
Jesus was just here to show us the first step down that path.
This is pretty much what Pelagianism says.

edited 4th Oct '12 2:35:31 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 56 De Marquis, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:24:49 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I've encountered Derp in these kinds of conversations before, s/he is less a troll than just a very outspoken, confrontational debater.

As for the OP, the short answer is that Derp is incorrect, no church doctrine that I am aware of proposes that God has been sitting back without intervening since the creation. If it's just about the creation of species specifically, the people who wrote the Bible weren't aware that new species were even possible, so they didn't address that. Nowadays, most Christians who aren't literalist fundies probably just let science explain how biological change occurs, no intervention needed.

As for whether or not God has remained constant since the beginning, or whether he has experienced some sort of change, or our perception of him has, I think that's off topic. We should start another thread on that- it might be interesting.

Logically, the question of whether or not God makes everything happen is separate from the question of whether or not God ever miraculously intervenes in the natural order. God could be present in all things, powering existence with his presence, while still adhering strictly to the natural laws he set up in the beginning. Such a universe would be objectively indistinguishable from one that had no God in it at all.

On the other hand, if God is an interventionist deity (interrupting the sequence of cause and effect as it were), then this would open up the possibility of God spontaneously creating or extinguishing species. I am unaware of any church or doctrine that proposes that this has happened, however.

God has been depicted with allowing mass deaths, via natural processes like earthquakes, or of tolerating the cruelty of nature. This is part of the "problem of evil" conversation, but that's another derail that probably doesn't belong here.

@Barkey: "But that opens the question of "Could a god truly make something that is unpredictable, even to himself?"

Indeed. I think that captures the whole issue here. If God has somehow shielded himself from information about the future of the universe, it would answer a lot of questions. In that case, God is allowing random injustice to occur because he wishes to preserve some degree of uncertainty about the outcome. Free will would make a lot more sense under that scenario. And it would help explain why there appear to be natural processes in place that drive change and evolution. But no christian church that I am aware of endorses this idea (perhaps unfortunately, because I'm attracted to it myself).

@Vellup: As for whether God intervenes in our daily lives, I think most Christians these days assume that this happens very indirectly, if at all. The basic idea is that, even if God does intervene, he isn't your bitch, so don't start begging for things. You may be special, but you aren't more special than the rest of creation, so bear with it. That's the idea, anyway. Someone like Moses isn't being granted special favors, he's fulfilling divine destiny.

@Kostya: That's not inherently implausible, but I find it more likely that God had the same intention all along but we couldn't get it until recently.

@Deviant: No, that's what "God created man in his own image" means. We cant comprehend all of God's plan, because we are too limited, but such as we are, we are capable of understanding what God is trying to tell us. From our POV, God resembles a "Supra-Human" not an alien. Otherwise Christian doctrine makes no sense at all.

@Knight: As I said to Kostya, it seems more likely to me that the authors of the Bible simply didn't get it yet. Then, over time, we started figuring it out, and our perception of God changed. It's still evolving. More or less what Carc is saying.

Leonard's article is fascinating, though.

edited 4th Oct '12 9:25:20 AM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 57 Fighteer, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:32:17 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I've encountered Derp in these kinds of conversations before, s/he is less a troll than just a very outspoken, confrontational debater.
Derp makes threads and then never posts in them afterwards. That's not debate.

The basic idea is that, even if God does intervene, he isn't your bitch, so don't start begging for things. You may be special, but you aren't more special than the rest of creation, so bear with it. That's the idea, anyway.
I don't understand how this viewpoint reconciles with prayer. It seems like an insurmountable contradiction to say that God doesn't elevate anyone over anyone else, but if you pray to him he might intercede on your behalf anyway.
Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 58 Trivialis, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:35:25 AM from contemplation
Happiness
Prayer is less of a wish granted and more of a talk. Bruce Almighty shows what happens if God was a wish-granting genie.
I don't need praise, I need help.
 59 Fighteer, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:37:41 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I mean praying for things like victory in a sports game, or in war, or for your sick child to get better. You are directly asking God to alter the outcome of something in your favor.
Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
Is that cake frosting?
I think that asking for such things is perfectly legitimate. Due to the supratemporal state of the Divinity, you are not really as much asking God to alter things in your favor as to asking Him to set things in your favor, insofar as it is possible while respecting free will and all other conditions that make part of God's Plan for creation; but these are details.

Now, of course, your prayer won't be necessarily answered, and, if answered, it won't necessarily be so in the way you were asking*, and it apparently is exceedingly unlikely that the answer will take the form of some sort of flashy miracle.

edited 4th Oct '12 9:46:38 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 61 Fighteer, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:52:45 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
My point is that prayer seems incompatible with both predestination and nonintervention. Ergo, someone who prays does not believe in either of those things.

edited 4th Oct '12 9:53:29 AM by Fighteer

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
Is that cake frosting?
Fair enough - after all, I don't believe in either, personally (although as for the "predestination" issue, there is the whole matter of the nature of time that I mentioned already)
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 63 De Marquis, Thu, 4th Oct '12 9:58:04 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
On topic please.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 64 Teraus, Fri, 2nd Nov '12 6:30:24 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
Assuming that there is an intelligent cause to the universe (which I do believe, for complex reasons, with no further specifications), it is infinitely more efficient to create a universe with a set of rules that allows it to function independently than creating something that requires constant maintenance. Of course, "efficiency" only seems truly necessary if said intelligent cause is limited (not omnipotent, but still intelligent enough to determine all the physical laws), and it is even more necessary if there are several different universes. If this universe's purpose is to provide experience to observers, for example, I'd say it has all the necessary tools to support learning and evolution by making all minds attempt to solve problems through effort (in other words, if God intervened and helped solve all the problems, that would defeat the purpose of this universe, if this hypothesis is true).

edited 2nd Nov '12 6:32:32 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Just trying to identify I guess. I'd have a boring and horrible existence if I knew everything and was all-powerful, just existing in the ether. The only thing I could take any pleasure in would be creation, and watching my children develop in ways that I did not expect.
Presuming omniscience, or at least knowledge far beyond our own, God is fairly certain of how we will act. It just hopes otherwise.
"I have run 10 miles a day, every day, for 18 years. That's 65,000 miles. A third of the way to the moon. My goal is to run to the moon."
Is that cake frosting?
Just trying to identify I guess.
I know that some forms of monotheism (for example, the one I subscribe to) say that in a way, humans are made "in the image of God", but I think that it's a mistake to anthropomorphize God excessively. God is not some bearded dude with magical powers, floating around in the ether and occasionally swooping down to create life or tell desert people not to covet their neighbour's ass or impress religious imagery on pieces of burnt toast.

I do not think that a human can truly identify with Him, not any more than they could identify with the galaxy of Andromeda — actually, the latter would be a breeze compared to the former.
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 67 Matues, Tue, 20th Nov '12 3:49:14 AM Relationship Status: Reincarnated romance
Most of the time, humans change their views on something when an outside source provides some form of argument or evidence. You have to tell them something they haven't heard before.

God, by definition, knows everything. He is aware of any possible argument you could posit. He is aware of everything from every possible perspective.

Therefore, God has little reason to actually change his view point. In the instant He became aware of everything, he gained the Best perspective according to his goals and desires.
 68 Greenmantle, Tue, 20th Nov '12 4:15:52 AM from Failing Britannia Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
... and?
^

But, does God have to be Omniscient?
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 69 Achaemenid, Tue, 20th Nov '12 8:16:34 AM from the dear green place. Relationship Status: You can be my wingman any time
Ein kleines Blümelein
[up]

To fit with the conception of God in the Bible, God has to be omnipotent. Thus, he can use his omnipotence to give himself omniscience. This creates a contradiction, the omnipotence/omniscience paradox (Can omnipotent God/Who knows the future find/The omnipotence to/Change his future mind), but if God is omnipotent, he is powerful enough not to be constrained by logic.

That is a response, anyway. It is not my own view.
Is that cake frosting?
To fit with the conception of God in the Bible, God has to be omnipotent.
I don't know if I would say that the Bible presents one conception of God, at least if taken literally. After all, it is a collection of texts written by different people along a long period of time; and during that time, their culture's understanding of the Divinity certainly evolved.

Some of the early parts of the Bible, I think, present an image of the Divinity that is neither omniscient nor omnipotent: for example, God has to send angels to visit Sodom to check if it is as bad as He thinks, and He cannot drive out some of the enemies of the Hebrews because they had iron chariots.

edited 20th Nov '12 8:35:19 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 71 De Marquis, Tue, 20th Nov '12 9:35:31 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
And don't forget that major schools of Christian theology were quite comfortable with the idea that God has limits- Thomas Aquinas, for example (along with the entire Medieval Scholastic movement) believed that God cannot do logically contradictory things, such as change the past. See here.

edited 20th Nov '12 9:35:43 AM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Is that cake frosting?
[up] Sure. A logical contradiction is a language issue — it is a statement that describes no state of things.

Furthermore, God (at least, in my opinion, which if I am not mistaken is in keeping with Scholasticism) is beyond time and space; talking about Him literally "changing His mind", I think, is already a bit too "invisible sky fairy" thinking for my tastes.

edited 20th Nov '12 10:09:15 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 73 De Marquis, Tue, 20th Nov '12 10:27:32 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Well, in that case, presumably God would go back and change everything from the beginning, thus we wouldn't be able to tell.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 74 Matues, Tue, 20th Nov '12 6:17:21 PM Relationship Status: Reincarnated romance
According to most of the lessons I learned from regular church attendance, and my insistent religious friend, God is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent..

I've literally never heard of the Christian God being referred to as anything else.
 75 Blurring, Tue, 20th Nov '12 7:33:24 PM from Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia.
With a shot so elemental
Omnipresent as in God's knowledge, power and will are everywhere.
If the one wave motion gun to rule them all is out there, it needs to be found for safekeeping.
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