Thursday, August 21, 2008

A View About Human Value

I like to watch The Antique Roadshow. People bring in their family heirlooms or a great garage sale purchase and the appraisers tell them the history of the item and attach a monetary value to the item. The monetary value given is an estimation of what people will pay at auction for such an item. Most of the time, when the item is a family heirloom, the monetary auction value cannot overcome the sentimental value of the item. When the item is merely a great garage sale purchase the value assessed comes solely from the amount of money a collector is willing to pay for the item. The item might be a campaign button from a presidential election and have no intrinsic worth. It only gains worth because people collect them and are willing to pay high prices to obtain it. If someone is willing to pay $1,000 dollars for it, it gains that value.

An object only obtains the worth that someone is willing to place on it weather the value be sentimental, practical, or monetary.


People, however, do not obtain worth in this manner. Now, we have all heard someone talk about the net worth of Bill Gates, but they are referring to his bank accounts and not his person. So how does a person obtain value?


There is a degree of value that is placed on a person through relationships between family members and friends. Employees are worth something to employers. However, with humans we cannot look at human value as we do objects. The value of a person does not come from their productivity in society, their ability to love or how much they are loved, or any such performance based value system. Humans are not valuable simply because other humans value them. If a human needed another person to give them value then the lone homeless person on the street would have less value than the person ensconced in relationships that value the person. Each person regardless of their abilities, capabilities, handicaps, friendships, performance, etc. has intrinsic value. No matter if no human on this planet loves that person or cares about that person or gains anything from that person that person is priceless.


Human worth doesn’t come from the value the rest of humanity places on the life. It comes straight from the Creator of that life. If no one else on the planet knows that person and values that person, God still has given that person value. He is the one that breathed from His life into the human life and gave life and He said it is good. He said man is fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter the handicap, no matter the age, mental capacity, or physical capacity or how many humans love a person, each person is uniquely special and valuable because God created him/her.


Moreover, because we are made in his likeness we know human life is valuable. That is why we know slave trafficking is absolutely wrong and murder and abuse and injustice is wrong. We have been stamped with knowledge of the intrinsic value of humanity. That is why when we do things that devalue humanity we feel the guilt, we feel the injustice. The famous scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth when Lady MacBeth is washing her visibly clean hands of blood over and over as the guilt suffocates her is so telling of our knowledge of the value of human life.


LADY MACBETH
Here's the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!

DOCTOR

Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets:
More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
Remove from her the means of all annoyance,


Lady Macbeth was overwrought with guilt from her murderous deed. Soap and water would not remove the memory as she slipped into near insanity. The doctor watching her condition adequately assessed her need for relief that can only come from divine forgiveness for her deed was not one only against humanity, but against the author of life. And it was He and He alone who could remove from her the guilt of her transgression.


As a Christian I bear the responsibility of loving people like God loves them even though I cannot do it as perfectly as God does. God calls me to love those who are in Christ and everyone else and even my enemies. He says that not a sparrow falls from the sky without Him noticing. He says that He knows how many hairs are upon our heads. He sees every tear and every laugh. He asks us to live a life of love, not of our own strength, but empowered by Christ. We are all created equal and we are all precious in His sight.


55 comments:

Anonymous said...

K: Humans have value because god created us.

Me: How does the act of god creating us give us value? What value is put in us by god and how?

K: Let me explain in a new post...Humans have value because god created us.

Me: Hopefully you can see why you frustrate me.

Aaron said...

I have to disagree with the simplicity of your premise.

People do place value on others! We visit with those who have a high value and avoid those who have a low value.

We can examine the types of values we attach to relationships. Each person has an intrinsic (DNA) system of what they are attracted to. Each person has a system of what they fear.

We can isolate these variable groups with names; Visual properties, communication, intelligence, position, work, leisure, activites, money, wisdom, charisma... Within each group we can isolate further variables in each group.

We rate each encounter based on based on past experience, variable properties, how we feel, fear level ... This information is now processed through a neural network. A nerual network rates values based on weighting. Most variables are weighted from -1 to 1. Hundreds of millions of neurons are involved in the process of identifing the person, determining if we wish to relate to that person, then what we are going to relate. The interesting thing is that we do this instantaneously. We are not even aware of the hundreds of millions of calculations.

I have never had hate directed to me as a person until recently. Most Christians including my parents react negativly to me when they find out that I use to have faith. That over time I have answered the questions that I had faith about. The answers have nothing to do with the Bible.

Faith is what you have when the presence or absence of empirical evidence doesn't matter...Reason is making decisions based upon empirical evidence.

For that now I am hated by most faith filled people. I question and provide answers to questions that are in the domain of faith. People like me are routinely killed to preserve faith/fear.

Karla said...

aaron, I welcome your opinion. I do not have the slightest animosity toward you. Faith however, is not the absence of evidence but the substance of things hoped for. It is not about believing something real hard in hopes it's true with no evidence. But believing something because the reality of it is substantial, evidential, and experienced. I have both seen a the evidence of the Truth of Christianity and entered into experience with Him who is Truth.

As for valuing humanity, we do place value of our own accord based on who we like and love and whom we do not. Who helps us and who doesn't. However, humans are more valuable than our human estimation of value can place upon a human.

I was postulating that humans have intrinsic worth given them by God and not simply value because of their usefulness to us. When we get God's heart for people we see them as God sees them with each one being uniquely special and wonderful regardless of societal contribution.

Karla said...

Anonymous, I see what your saying. I haven't ever considered how to break that down further--how to unpack that statement. I was thinking about it as this is what the Christian worldview says. It's not a scientific process. It's a theological position of God calling his creation good. Of God declaring us fearfully and wonderfully made. It's based on Him affirming our value. I can write a poem and it have value only to me as my name is not known as a famous poet of any sort, I would be the giver of value to that poem as it's creator. God would then be the giver of value to what He creates. That is my line of thinking. First based on the authority of His Word and second based on the nature of Creator/creation.

It still might not be the answer you desire, but it's a quick run down of my thoughts without repeating the proposed statement as an answer. I'm still thinking on it . . .

Aaron said...

Hope is what you have when you cannot visualize the result of your decision. This is the result of faith. It is like not exercising your mind.

A person of hope is no better than an organism. 'I hope I don't get eaten by a bigger fish'. Even fish don't have hope. They build defense mechanism. ie. that fish that swims with the sharks.

A person of reason can visualize the result and attain that result through error correction. We error correct until we get the result we predicted or fail and rethink our postulations. No hope needed.

Now, can you define this intrinsic value that you discuss? Is this value only for Christians? Do only Christians realize this value?

Karla said...

"Now, can you define this intrinsic value that you discuss?"

We often think of value in terms of dollars and if I were to use a monetary analogy I would say the value of each and every human life is priceless. That no amount of money could attain the value of a human. Life is precious. Human life is more valuable than animal life, because God breathed His life in us giving us a spirit that animals do not have.


"Is this value only for Christians?"

No, every human is valuable intrinsically to God and ought to be treated as such by all men. He loves us all.

Do only Christians realize this value?"

I think most all humans value human life over animal life and when push came to shove, I think even the PETA people who like to put animals on the same equality as humans would save a human life over an animal life if they could only do one. If a person could save their pet from drowning or their child or another human they are going to go for the human.

Have you ever seen I Robot with Will Smith? Smith's character is angry at robots because they saved him instead of the trapped child. He wanted to risk his life and give up his life for the child's life. The robot could not comprehend this human desire. It was programed by humans, but had no human conscious. (They do find the one robot later in the movie that they believe to be an evolved robot with human consciousness, but that's not realistic.) The point is that there was something different in a human than in something created by humans that could function like a human.


I think Christianity provides a foundation for this common understanding. A source for it. A reason that it is this way.

Aaron said...

Karla,

I cannot agree with you that life is precious. Life is common. Life is generated when C,H,N,O meet high voltage electricity. That is how you make protein chains. Those protein chains meet and form more complex systems(DNA).

What do you define as precious human life? What is precious about it? How is the value defined? How is that value different for the amoeba or giraffe? Is the complexity of the organism the basis of preciousness?

I still don't see any spiritual definition.

Human slavery is the #5 industry in the world; after drugs, weapons of war, and sex trade and religion. So humans do have a value. Its not precious though.

http://aaronsreality.blogspot.com

Karla said...

Your worldview is at least consistent. If there is no God your analysis of humanity would be the logical conclusion. That's my point to anonymous that we can't have it both ways. If we believe in moral right and wrong and the intrinsic worth of humans and human rights then the only way for that to be possible is that God exist and divinely gives that value and moral construct. That is the only way we can emphatically and objectively declare slavery to be a violation of humanity and a moral wrong. Otherwise we can only say we don't like it because we wouldn't want to be enslaved. We are only left with what is beneficial to society or to ourselves and what is not. Morality is nonexistent and has no meaning in a world without God. However, I'm pretty sure you live as if it does have meaning.

Terrie said...

Karla,
That was awesome! You are very gifted.
It is your generation that will have to deal with us Baby boomers. Hmmmm I wonder how valuable they will think my life is when I am old. Perhaps they will think that its time to put old Grammy to rest, that her life here is no longer valuable. But if I die before God calls me will I have repented of all my sins and be prepared for his kingdom? After all this life here on earth is only a training ground for our eternal life. But if they don't believe that how can they understand. The time that we cared for my mother n law before she died taught me more about life and give me more wisdom then all the books in a library.
Keep up the good work!

Aaron said...

Karla,

We need to differentiate belief and reality. You can believe anything you want, but reality always wins. If your beliefs are antithetical to reality, reality is brutal and deadly.

Bunji jumpers are a primary example of this. The jumper believes the guy can figure the length of cord. The guy is god to the jumper. The jumper believe in the guy with his life. Stupid? Every once in a while you hear reality has triumph over stupidity. Splat

The reality is the universe does not care. I want proof the universe cares. Show me an example of the universe caring about anything.

I never said anything about God. I believe the universe is like a snow globe. It is designed to work without assistance from the outside.

Karla said...

“We need to differentiate belief and reality.”

Our belief system ought to be in line with reality or it needs to be abandoned.

“You can believe anything you want, but reality always wins. If your beliefs are antithetical to reality, reality is brutal and deadly.”

Agreed. Believing something doesn’t make it true. However, I aim for my belief system to be one in the same with what is real or else it makes no sense to maintain it.

”Bunji jumpers are a primary example of this. The jumper believes the guy can figure the length of cord. The guy is god to the jumper. The jumper believe in the guy with his life. Stupid? Every once in a while you hear reality has triumph over stupidity. Splat”

Some people’s belief systems are like this. If a person didn’t believe in gravity and they decided to live out that belief and jump off a ten story building, the reality would win and they would find out on their plunge to the death that they were wrong. However, what I observe, to continue the allegory, that people who don’t believe in gravity and yet live as if it existed. In reality, people believe there is no “moral ought” but they live every day as if there were. Thus their belief system does not line up with their practical lives. When faced with living out their belief system they find they cannot and that they live a contradiction as if one who doesn’t believe in gravity, but obeys gravitational laws regardless because they live in the real world. (the gravity example is just an illustration, I haven’t met anyone that denies the laws of gravity)

”The reality is the universe does not care. I want proof the universe cares. Show me an example of the universe caring about anything.”

The universe . . . nature isn’t what cares. God is who cares. God is distinct from His creation.

”I never said anything about God. I believe the universe is like a snow globe. It is designed to work without assistance from the outside.”

From that statement, I take it you are either a Deist, Agnostic, or Atheist. I am a Christian and I see God working through people in supernatural ways frequently.

Aaron said...

Karla,

I only wish to be of benefit. If I can go through life and be of benefit to all sentient beings then I think I made the world an easier place to live.

So, on that, I will step back. I know I am overwhelming.

If you need to identify which ism I most closely live my life. I have a modified buddhist practice. Modified in that the stories are that. Stories that are ment to help guide decision making in life.

Thanks for the wonderful conversation. You may directly email me anytime. I just wish to be respectful.

Aaron Guerami
http://aaronsreality.blogspot.com

Karla said...

Thanks Aaron, I have appreciated your participation. I found your contribution to the discussion informative and thought provoking. I haven't been overwhelmed. I enjoy being stretched in my thinking.

I too like stories from various cultures. I think the similarity in stories points to the grand meta narrative we are all a part of. Feel free to stop by anytime.

Aaron said...

Before I go, I think you might like to read about Memes.

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"If there is no God your analysis of humanity would be the logical conclusion. That's my point to anonymous that we can't have it both ways. If we believe in moral right and wrong and the intrinsic worth of humans and human rights then the only way for that to be possible is that God exist and divinely gives that value and moral construct."

And you are still wrong. Aaron is right in that we don't have intrinsic value, and I'll note that you still can't provide a coherent reason why god creating us gives us any value. What value we have is what we give ourselves, but we don't need a god to do that. It's flat out false that without god there can be no value, and it doesn't matter how many times you repeat your empty mantra, it won't make it true. Just like we can have a justice system without god, and we demostrably DO have one (which incidentally disproves your assertion!) we can create our own sense of value and we do.

"That is the only way we can emphatically and objectively declare slavery to be a violation of humanity and a moral wrong."

Again, you are demonstrably wrong as the existence of secular moral philosophies attests. Why do you persist in saying things that are demonstrably wrong and have been pointed out to you? This is intellectual dishonesty at its worst.

Brooke said...

Hey! I'm on Blogspot now! I have no idea where else to leave a comment on this site so sorry about messing up the seriousness of the comments. Alright ttyls!

Karla said...

"Aaron is right in that we don't have intrinsic value"

"It's flat out false that without god there can be no value"

So which way is it? Is it true like Aaron says that we have no worth as humans or is it false and we have worth with no God?

"we can create our own sense of value and we do."

So how does a person who has no friends or family and does not contribute to society gain value if value is only given by other humans?

Do the girl babies in China have no value because the society does not value them? Or do they have value even if no one values them?

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"So which way is it? Is it true like Aaron says that we have no worth as humans or is it false and we have worth with no God?"

Nice straw man, but you conveniently left off the part where I stated "intrinsic" value. It makes it a lot easier to shoot down arguments that people don't actually make, doesn't it? I even went to the trouble of explaining that the values we have and place on ourselves and others come specifically from us. I don't know how you could have missed that.

"So how does a person who has no friends or family and does not contribute to society gain value if value is only given by other humans?"

Is that person not a human also?

"Do the girl babies in China have no value because the society does not value them? Or do they have value even if no one values them?"

All humans have value in my value system, which I created myself based on objective measures quite separate from god. Not all people share these same values, however, which is actually a strike against your god. Why is it that god can't create beings that all value life? Obviously he can't or doesn't. So much for us gaining value from god, which BTW, you still haven't adequately defended or explained.

Karla said...

"All humans have value in my value system, which I created myself based on objective measures quite separate from god."

If you created it yourself, it is subjective not objective. If you are saying that it corresponds to a moral standard that is true for all people then you are positing there is an objective standard. If you appeal to an objective standard you then get back to how it came about? If it is objective it is outside of human construction. If it is subjective it is made by humans and why should we abide by it?


I am not saying you have to believe in God to understand that human life has value. I am saying the reason humans value human life as precious is because God gave them that knowledge whether or not they believe He did.

All I am saying is that that is the Christian explanation for why humans have value. We believe humans are intrinsically valuable because we are God's creations made in His image. I am repeating that once again only to say that that is the Christian worldview. I am not repeating it as proof or argument. My initial blog was for positing the Christian explanation and asking to hear from others point of view on their worldview to effectuate dialog about why we believe the way we do respectively. Aaron provided one such view point and we discussed it.

You have provided a similar view point of view that human life gains value subjectively from other humans.

In one place you say that we do not have intrinsic value and then you say that all humans by the very nature of them being a human have value because we value them.

I say we value them because God gave us knowledge that they are valuable. And you say we value people because we choose to based on our own rationality. You have not defended how that came to be either. We simply have posited different view points based on our presuppositions (mine that God exist, and your's that He does not).

Anonymous said...

"If you created it yourself, it is subjective not objective."

Not necessarily true. We can use objective measures or create objective measures. Simply because humans created something doesn't necessarily make it subjective by definition.

"If you are saying that it corresponds to a moral standard that is true for all people then you are positing there is an objective standard."

I quite directly did not state this. In fact, I made pains to state the opposite! Why do I continue to get the impression that you aren't actually reading what I write but what you want me to write?

"If it is subjective it is made by humans and why should we abide by it?"

Again, not all things human made are subjective. And, we should abide by it because we are rational, intelligent creatures that are capable of reason.

"I am not saying you have to believe in God to understand that human life has value. I am saying the reason humans value human life as precious is because God gave them that knowledge whether or not they believe He did."

And I'm saying that not only do you have no evidence that this is so, but your arguments rely on misconstruing definitions and strawman attacks on the arguments of others. Also, you can't even present a logically coherent rationalization for how your position makes any sense! Until you can do that, it seems rather shallow to attack the position of others and present your position as a viable alternative.

"All I am saying is that that is the Christian explanation for why humans have value."

And I'm saying that it's not actually an explanation. You may as well be saying that humans have value because of "phlenoglarb."

"We believe humans are intrinsically valuable because we are God's creations made in His image. I am repeating that once again only to say that that is the Christian worldview."

Thank you for once again pointing out the the Xian worldview is not well thought out or logically coherent.

"My initial blog was for positing the Christian explanation and asking to hear from others point of view on their worldview to effectuate dialog about why we believe the way we do respectively."

No, your initial post (not blog - a blog is a set of posts) didn't posit anything. You simply made a declaration that the Xian view is X, and then simply assumed that X made sense, was logically coherent, and that X is true. Then, when pressed as to the hows and whys you have presented nothing beyond repeating X.

"You have provided a similar view point of view that human life gains value subjectively from other humans."

Except for the part where I talked about using objective measures. Perhaps you missed that part...once again.

"In one place you say that we do not have intrinsic value and then you say that all humans by the very nature of them being a human have value because we value them."

Because I was trying to point out to you that the universe imparts no "intrinsic" value upon humans, as you seem to be implying. From the standpoint of the universe, we are just CHON. The universe is completely indifferent to us. WE MAKE OUR OWN VALUE. The value that our lives have comes from us internally, not from the universe or some god.

"And you say we value people because we choose to based on our own rationality. You have not defended how that came to be either."

BS. Hey, maybe it's for the same reason that monkeys don't go around indifferently killing all other monkeys, or any other animal! What an obvious solution, which I've stated many times before in other discussions.

"We simply have posited different view points based on our presuppositions (mine that God exist, and your's that He does not)."

Wrong again. It is NOT a presupposition on my part to reject your unsupported presupposition. When you say that god exists, you are making an unwarranted assumption. When I say, "That assumption is unwarranted and I am not going to accept it," I am NOT making an assumption of my own.

Aaron said...

Oooo, be careful, that is a dangerous path. A person can only relate to one person, themselves. Every relationship is based on the voices in the head, or how one treats themself.

Look to the stars for the rules of this universe and enjoy their beauty. Look to the beauty of an active neural network learning its enviornment (child development).

a

Karla said...

sub·jec·tive
–adjective

1. existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective).
2. pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.
3. placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.
4. Philosophy. relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
5. relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.
6. pertaining to the subject or substance in which attributes inhere; essential.
7. Grammar.
a. pertaining to or constituting the subject of a sentence.
b. (in English and certain other languages) noting a case specialized for that use, as He in He hit the ball.
c. similar to such a case in meaning. Compare nominative.
8. Obsolete. characteristic of a political subject; submissive.

Karla said...

ob·jec·tive
–noun

1. something that one's efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target: the objective of a military attack; the objective of a fund-raising drive.
2. Grammar.
a. Also called objective case. (in English and some other languages) a case specialized for the use of a form as the object of a transitive verb or of a preposition, as him in The boy hit him, or me in He comes to me with his troubles.
b. a word in that case.
3. Also called object glass, object lens, objective lens. Optics. (in a telescope, microscope, camera, or other optical system) the lens or combination of lenses that first receives the rays from the object and forms the image in the focal plane of the eyepiece, as in a microscope, or on a plate or screen, as in a camera.
–adjective
4. being the object or goal of one's efforts or actions.
5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).

8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what your point is considering that I'm using the terms as I intended to and in accordance with their defintions.

Karla said...

My intention is to be sure we use the terms according to their definitions so that we are on the same page.

I think we have been using different meaning of the terms possible. But if not the posting of the definitions gives clarification.

Subjective Standard: Created by person in and by their own mind

Objective Standard: uncreated standard which is outside the human mind

A subjective standard could not be enforceable on another (to each his own)

An objective standard could be appealed to by all mankind

It seems you are acknowledging both, but I'm not sure what the objective standard is rooted in or upon?

Karla said...

typo: possibly not possible

Aaron said...

Karla;

I think it is your intention to confuse with definitions and rules. Those definitions have to exist within physics. They must follow rules, including the rules that we don't like.

I previously wrote a comment on how Neural Networks make decisions using weights. That is a model. It is rule based and others can understand it results.

Would you take some time and define your model in terms that are both valid, correct, reproducable, and fits within the Standard Particle Model's rules?

In my blog I have defined how information transfers.

http://aaronsreality.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Subjective Standard: Created by person in and by their own mind

Objective Standard: uncreated standard which is outside the human mind"

No, that is NOT what those definitions state. The easy distinction is whether the item/thought/whatever in question is based on verifiable, quantifiable facts and evidence. For instance, I can use the facts of evolution and other observations about the world to formulate objective moral standards. Simply because I formulated them does not mean that they are not objective or can not be objective.

"It seems you are acknowledging both, but I'm not sure what the objective standard is rooted in or upon?"

The objective standard would be rooted in actual observations made of this world. What is your standard rooted in, because the only "evidence" I see you using is wishful thinking and logical fallacy.

Karla said...

If neither of you will grant the dictionary definitions for the terms we are using we can't use the terms without an agreed upon definition. We might as well be speaking different languages if we don't first agree on the definition of terms.

Aaron, I am not trying to confuse anyone. I'm trying to define terms before proceeding. If there are no agreed definitions and if we ignore the rules of logic we cannot communicate intelligibly.

I'll check out your post on your blog as soon as I get time--by tomorrow morning at the latest.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"If neither of you will grant the dictionary definitions for the terms we are using we can't use the terms without an agreed upon definition."

I AM using the dictionary definition. It is YOU who is not.

Perhaps an example would help you with your misunderstanding.

Do you think that color is subjective? When I see red, I'm making a subjective designation, correct? You might not see red when I do, so to you it isn't red. With me so far?

Now for a quick (simplified) tutorial: Light travels in waves, and the colors we see are based on the wavelength of the waves. Visible light comes in a very specific range of wavelengths and that range is subdivided into the colors we see. We can name a subset of the visible range (say 600 to 750 nanometers wavelength) as red. Now, when we see a color and I think it is red and you don't, we could OBJECTIVELY measure the wavelength and see whether it falls within our defined range for "red". In this way, we have created an objective measure of color - an idea that was previously subjective.

Now, either you can continue to hold to your definitions that don't match the dictionary and are destroyed by the example I just gave you, or you can move forward with the discussion in an honest way.

Karla said...

Okay, I think I understand what your getting at. We can gage that a particular action is good or bad based on the objective moral standard of good and bad so the former would be a subjective choice based on an objective standard. However, in so doing we are alleging an objective standard we did not create. Whereas with colors we did create the measurement of the standard and have subjective perceptions of colors. Just like with a dictionary: the Oxford English Dictionary which is the accepted authority of the English language would be an objective source to check to define a word even though it was compiled and created by human invention. So I understand that. However both colors and words are amoral. So if a person wishes to call red purple or to make up a new definition to a word it only violates social conventions and not morality.

I'm just thinking out loud here. If we reduce morality to the same kind of measurement we use for colors or words I think we have somehow lost something of it's essence.

Although I think our understanding of what is good will always pale in comparison to the actual standard of goodness. How would we know if we missed the mark if we don't know what the mark is? If we create the standard even in color schemes, cannot we change it and be in control over it? If a scientist altered the range of the color red and set the new norm the standard would be replaced. Yet I don't think it works that way with good and evil. Our understanding of good and evil can change, but I don't think the reality has changed. We have only changed to become closer to reality if we are in truth or change to be further away from reality if we are living in opposition to truth. Truth wouldn't change if it were true.

Still even with all this discussion of morality . . . it's not what the message of Christ is about. Christ looked at the condition of the heart the spirit the will the soul of a person. He didn't come to make us more moral He came to call us to a higher walk than morality (being good and doing what is right is a by product that ought to be a simple norm of a Christian, but it's only elementary and not the fullness of a Christian life). That's to be like kindergarten level and He is calling us to doctorate level.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"If a scientist altered the range of the color red and set the new norm the standard would be replaced. Yet I don't think it works that way with good and evil."

Yet, it has worked that way throughout human history. It used to be good to burn witches at the stake or to hold slaves, etc.

"Our understanding of good and evil can change, but I don't think the reality has changed."

But our understanding of the underlying reality, our overall level of knowledge, and our ability to make rules based on that knowledge has changed. For instance, blacks used to be considered sub-human (partly based on the Bible I might add). Once we learned about DNA and the shared DNA between whites and blacks, this idea could no longer hold sway and forced us to adopt to a new set of moral dictums. We learned something about the world which forced us to change how we interacted with it in a moral capacity. Now, some still clung to the idea of the sub-human black person, but they did not do so with objective measures, thus others were able to objectively say that those people were acting immorally, since they went against objective, verifiable fact.

"Still even with all this discussion of morality . . . it's not what the message of Christ is about. Christ looked at the condition of the heart the spirit the will the soul of a person. He didn't come to make us more moral He came to call us to a higher walk than morality (being good and doing what is right is a by product that ought to be a simple norm of a Christian, but it's only elementary and not the fullness of a Christian life). That's to be like kindergarten level and He is calling us to doctorate level."

I don't understand what you mean by something "higher than morality." There are different levels of moral development, and unfortunately the mainstream Xian does not fall on the highest level (following morality due to the commands of an authority is actually a rather low level on the morality scale).

Karla said...

“It used to be good to burn witches at the stake or to hold slaves, etc.”

No it was always wrong to burn witches, or have slaves. Just because people did it, or society accepted it, didn’t make it right. If it is wrong today it is because it has always been wrong. Like I said, we may progress or digress in our understanding of what is right and wrong, but that doesn’t change the standard.


”But our understanding of the underlying reality, our overall level of knowledge, and our ability to make rules based on that knowledge has changed.”

Yes, understanding can change, the standard doesn’t change.

“For instance, blacks used to be considered sub-human (partly based on the Bible I might add).”

Not based on the Bible, based on people distorting things to their advantage. Anyone can quote something and make it say what they want it to and it not be what was really being said or taught.

“Once we learned about DNA and the shared DNA between whites and blacks, this idea could no longer hold sway and forced us to adopt to a new set of moral dictums. We learned something about the world which forced us to change how we interacted with it in a moral capacity. Now, some still clung to the idea of the sub-human black person, but they did not do so with objective measures, thus others were able to objectively say that those people were acting immorally, since they went against objective, verifiable fact.”

Scientific knowledge did not end slavery and racism. Have you ever heard of William Wilberforce? He is nearly single handedly responsible for ending the slave trade by making it illegal in England. He was a devout Christian. He also wrote a book entitled “Real Christianity” that spoke of a person’s duty to treat people (all people) kindly as was our Christian call and his book was a key element in changing the western culture’s mindset from pro-slavery to anti-slavery. Slavery was always wrong, but Wilberforce merely reminded people of what we already knew. People were more intent on the financial gain brought on by slavery and the economic need of the slave trade than they were on treating all humans with equality that they professed to believe in. Slavery didn’t become wrong; we just woke up as a culture eventually. Racism still abounds and it is still wrong as it has always been.




”I don't understand what you mean by something "higher than morality.There are different levels of moral development, and unfortunately the mainstream Xian does not fall on the highest level (following morality due to the commands of an authority is actually a rather low level on the morality scale)."


Sadly and honestly Christianity has a whole is still struggling with basic morality. We owe the world a great apology for this and great strides are being taken in the Church to arise to the call of Christ. I don’t mean different levels of moral development. I mean getting beyond focusing on law and rule and becoming truly transformed to where we aren’t thinking about if doing A is wrong or if B would be a better choice, but we are led by the Spirit of God so much so that we naturally do as we ought not because doing so makes us more righteous for we are freely given righteousness through the cross of Christ, but because doing so is elementary like a child learning to crawl. Christians are called to surpass crawling and learning to walk, but to walk uprightly and to operate in the power of the Lord. We are called to heal the sick and raise the dead. We are called to carry the Kingdom of God to the lost. Our very lives are to be testimonies of His Truth. Christians are at different maturity levels across the spectrum from ones not yet crawling to those who are walking uprightly and in power.

Aaron said...

I need to know. Do your axioms fit the model of the universe? Can you cite examples of repeatable results that fit your model?

How is it that cristianity finds something repugnant? Something like racism should already be repugnant to a christian.

Oh I know, There is not US in Christianity. There is WE and YOU. That is a difficut position to be in. We are Christians, You are not. Christianity is a difference belief system.

I would never expect a person who lives in this world view to be able to virtualize another world view. I am suprised with Karla intelligence.

We are all stardust!!!. There are only processes that make us different. There is only one story. It is the NOW. Enjoy that story. It is what you make of it.

I refuse to defend the stories of others. Why should I? Why do you? You are smarter that that. Take 5 bibles and open them to the same story. See if these stories are the same. See what words have changed. Try to find a bible from the fifties, sixties, and the from previous century.

Human language is subjective. You cannot define in detail with words. That is what the language of mathematics is for. It is a language in that it changes over time, but it is a precise language. Everybody in the conversation agrees to the axioms and definitions in detail, before a word is spoken.

I will define my own story that fits the universe and enjoy it. I will enjoy all the relationships that orbit me and those who pass through. May I be of benefit to all sentient beigns.

Karla said...

Aaron, that's very postmodern. However, Christianity is a meta-narrative. There are many stories that give explanation for reality. They cannot be equally valid. Christianity maintains that all stories have some truth in them because they are produced in a real world by real people living in a grand story. Thus the Christian worldview doesn't invalidate all other stories. It says all other stories have some truth, but they are incomplete. Even the Christian "worldview" is truth in part. Christians are not omniscient. God is the only one who knows and is complete Truth. He revealed His truth to mankind and we as finite beings only understand it in part. But we can understand it in that part as it is revealed. Each person has a part in His Story. We can be on His side or we can choose not to be.

Christianity also extends to everyone the right to choose their own story. No one ought to be forced to believe anything. A forced belief isn't real. No one can force another to give their heart to the Lord. Some have tried and ought not to have and failed as they ought to have.

As a Christian I welcome you to maintain your story, but I ask you to check it against reality. I have an obligation to share Truth to those who want it or who ask me about it. But I have no right to force my beliefs on another. It is not me versus another or us versus them. I am called to love not only my fellow Christians but everyone else of every tribe, tongue, nation, worldview and even my enemies.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"No it was always wrong to burn witches, or have slaves. Just because people did it, or society accepted it, didn’t make it right. If it is wrong today it is because it has always been wrong. Like I said, we may progress or digress in our understanding of what is right and wrong, but that doesn’t change the standard."

And, I agree that it is wrong to burn witches and hold slaves, but you can see how a person from an earlier time might not think that at all. How does this fit with your assertions?

"Not based on the Bible, based on people distorting things to their advantage. Anyone can quote something and make it say what they want it to and it not be what was really being said or taught."

You do realize that you are making a No True Scotsman argument here, right? What assurance do you have that your interpretation is better than anyone else's interpretation of the Bible?

"Scientific knowledge did not end slavery and racism."

It did not, but it did objectively remove one of the arguments for slavery and racism. That was the point of the exercise, that your understanding of objective vs. subjective was sorely lacking. Is it still lacking, or will you finally admit that some of your assertions are simply not true?

"Have you ever heard of William Wilberforce? He is nearly single handedly responsible for ending the slave trade by making it illegal in England."

I have heard of him and the claims that usually accompany him which are born of historical revisionism and blown out of proportion. True, he did fight to end slavery, but for every Wilberforce, there were many, many more religious leaders fighting tooth and nail to uphold slavery and just as many free-thinkers fighting to end slavery. Just as with many moral advances, it is generally secularists and freethinkers that lead the moral charge for equal rights while religionists fight against it. Slavery is no different. I suggest you read Susan Jacoby's book "Freethinker" for more information.

"I don’t mean different levels of moral development. I mean getting beyond focusing on law and rule and becoming truly transformed to where we aren’t thinking about if doing A is wrong or if B would be a better choice, but we are led by the Spirit of God so much so that we naturally do as we ought not because doing so makes us more righteous for we are freely given righteousness through the cross of Christ, but because doing so is elementary like a child learning to crawl."

Well, then you are speaking of levels of moral development. This doesn't come from the "spirit of god" however, it comes from rational thinking.

"Christians are called to surpass crawling and learning to walk, but to walk uprightly and to operate in the power of the Lord."

I object to this characterization, in that Xians are certainly NOT called to do this. The Bible is pretty specific in a couple areas that one's first and foremost duty is to OBEY god, and when god says kill, you better do it regardless of the morality of the situation.

"As a Christian I welcome you to maintain your story, but I ask you to check it against reality."

And, as a non-Xian I'd like to ask you to do the same. My "story" as we are calling it does accord with reality, your's does not, or at best we can't discern whether it does or not due to the utter lack of evidence for your assertions. It might be that your "story" is in perfect accord, but how could we ever know without evidence, especially when we have explanations that are valid that don't rely on god? (Also, I'd like to once again point out that your "story" is incomplete in that you still can not coherently tell that story.)

Aaron said...

And that is how wars are started!

Karla said...

"And, I agree that it is wrong to burn witches and hold slaves, but you can see how a person from an earlier time might not think that at all. How does this fit with your assertions?"

Again right and wrong does not depend upon what a person thinks or agrees about it. It depends on what is. Burning witches is wrong even if no person on earth thinks it's wrong.


"I object to this characterization, in that Xians are certainly NOT called to do this. The Bible is pretty specific in a couple areas that one's first and foremost duty is to OBEY god, and when god says kill, you better do it regardless of the morality of the situation."

1) Walking uprightly and in goodness is obeying God

2) The Old Testament law and consequences for breaking that law are fulfilled in Christ so that there is no call for killing anyone and God does not ask any Christian to kill another -- this would be in direct violation of everything Scripture teaches in context

You are free to believe what you desire to. I'm not stopping you. I'm just discussing it with you. You are on my blog spot and are free to stop discussing it with me anytime you choose. I'm not keeping you here. I will continue to converse with you as long as you want, but I am certainly not keeping you here.

If you think I am so incoherent, why do you persist in talking with me? I have never been rude to you or disrespectful. I've answered you as thoroughly as I can. I have not had much direct experience with these questions in the past and I am learning to answer them as I go along.

Karla said...

Aaron, wars are started by what?

Karla said...

P.S. To anonymous, to clarify you are of course always welcome to talk with me and ask any questions or disagree as you desire. I just wonder why you do if you think I am incoherent?

Aaron said...

Although I disgree with ananymous' tone, I do think it makes some valid points.

I needed this conversation. Every christian I come across flees from me. I am frightening to christians. I am a person who can answer those esoteric questions with easy valid answers.

I have always done this. I am learning to do this without intentionally hurting people. Or I am learning to interact without personal feelings of grandure.

Yes, we are at your party. But I need intelligent christians to change the story in a way that we are no longer fighting/killing over the story. You(christians) even fight over intrupitations of the story. Stop it. You can be wrong. Has your story ever needed reintruptation?

This has got to stop. I don't care that you have a story, remember its not the only one nor is it the end all of stories.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Burning witches is wrong even if no person on earth thinks it's wrong."

Why? That's the question you're unable to answer.

"1) Walking uprightly and in goodness is obeying God"

Only when he tells you to do that. Other times he tells people to kill other people or to invade Iraq or to drown their children.

"2) The Old Testament law and consequences for breaking that law are fulfilled in Christ so that there is no call for killing anyone and God does not ask any Christian to kill another -- this would be in direct violation of everything Scripture teaches in context"

Says you, but there are plenty of people who disagree with your interpretation. What makes your interpretation correct?

"If you think I am so incoherent, why do you persist in talking with me?"

Don't take it personally. I'm not saying that you are incoherent but that your assertions are - meaning that they can not be logically reconciled with each other, like the claims that god is omni-max and that we have free will, for instance.

"I have never been rude to you or disrespectful."

Actually, you have.

"I've answered you as thoroughly as I can."

OK, that may very well be, and I'm not complaining about that, but I do complain when you regurgitate things back at me when I've already objected to them as if I hadn't. Or, when you claim that I've presented no evidence or arguments against your positions, etc. etc. etc. That is rude and that is disrespectful.

Karla said...

Aaron, I am not afraid of your questions nor do I have any animosity toward you or anyone else who questions what I believe. Honestly, I prefer people to question and think about what they believe and what other people believe. I am always seeking truth. There is truth in all stories because there is truth to be found and all stories have a part of it and some are more accurate than others but they all fit into a grand story and the question is which one? I believe that Christianity makes the most sense and is reality. You are welcome to critique that idea. I like to be challenged to think and to learn beyond what I already know.

anonymous, I have never intended to be rude. I apologize for anything I have said that came across as rude to you. I appreciate you sticking with this conversation and I really have appreciated your questions. I will try and respond to your last post in more detail a little later today.

Aaron said...

Good, Now that we all have had a breather. Karla, would you describe the mechanisms in value assignment.

Karla said...

"Says you, but there are plenty of people who disagree with your interpretation. What makes your interpretation correct?"

Many people can claim God told them to do something and be lying, deluded, or mistaken. Just because someone says God told them to do something doesn't mean He did. So when I hear on the news that a woman drowned her children because God told her to, I know He did not because it is contrary to everything He is and His Word (Bible).

When you read any document you have to think about what the author intended, the culture/time it was written, and the totality of the book using one part to interpret another in keeping as a whole. I can pull any history book of a shelf and by pulling text out of context I can disprove any historical event I want. But I would be wrong in my interpretation and anyone with any historical knowledge could prove it.

Jacques Derrida, a French postmodern philosopher advocated that the reader is the interpreter and it doesn't matter what the authors intentions are--we can interpret anything any way we please and be equally valid because language is meaningless. Ironically, when people were "misinterpreting" his book, he wrote a sequel to discredit their faulty interpretations and to restate his position in a more understandable way. Apparently, when it came to his own writing he knew there was a singular interpretation that was right and he wanted to make sure people understood him and he used language to do that. In actuality, he didn't really believe language was meaningless and each interpretation was valid.

We can read a book and understand it's meaning and we can understand that there are wrong interpretations and right ones even for the Bible. So each person doesn't have the right to take it to mean whatever they want to.

As for your first question regarding right and wrong I'm going to write a post once I get some time and try and detail out my thoughts on that. I've been contemplating our conversation these last couple days while I haven't had time to write.

Aaron said...

Karla,

What exactly are you asking?
"Says you, but there are plenty of people who disagree with your interpretation. What makes your interpretation correct?"

I can link my idea to other peoples experimental evidence. For example the evidence that gravity does not exist as a particle, can be linked to spacecraft's orbital error corrections. It can also be reproduced in orbital error corrections in spacecraft orbiting the earth.

I have to ask you, why defend someone else's world view? I think you are intelligent enough to understand how God's universe operates and its not how it is described by others in history.

Aaron said...

God's universe has yet to be fully described. Most all of the big names in science have been proven too simple or downright wrong.

I am willing to be proven wrong.

Karla said...

aaron I was quoting anonymous and responding to anonymous's last post.

I am not defending someone else's worldview. I am giving an apologetic for my own -- Christianity.

Karla said...

I just made a new post on my blog, once again on the topic of morality in connection to this conversation.

Aaron said...

And did you create this world view? I think you are intelligent enough to see the universe as it was created, not how it was referred to. Very few people could even handle a statement like this.

"Spiritual density causes ripples in other people's lives. A person can be so spiritually dense that they don't even have to meet that person to affect their life. All relationships are orbital (conical slices) in nature. and yet we are just star dust. There is nothing special about us."

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Many people can claim God told them to do something and be lying, deluded, or mistaken."

And I hope you include yourself in that list, because you too could be lying, deluded, or mistaken. So, once again, how do you know that YOUR interpretation is any better than anyone else's?

"So when I hear on the news that a woman drowned her children because God told her to, I know He did not because it is contrary to everything He is and His Word (Bible)."

You have no way of knowing that. In fact, in the Bible god has ordered people to sacrifice their children, as well as various other nefarious deeds. You can't very well use the Bible as some sort of proof that god is good for this reason and many other reasons.

"When you read any document you have to think about what the author intended, the culture/time it was written, and the totality of the book using one part to interpret another in keeping as a whole."

Then why do you gloss over all the parts that are unsavory or that you disagree with?

"We can read a book and understand it's meaning and we can understand that there are wrong interpretations and right ones even for the Bible. So each person doesn't have the right to take it to mean whatever they want to."

Considering that there are multiple authors for the Bible, I doubt that there is 1 right interpretation. Just reading the different stories in the 4 gospels gives you 4 different interpretations of the same story. But, even if there was just 1 correct interpretation, that comes from god, how do you know that your interpretation is the correct one?

Karla said...

There are no contradictions in the Bible. Despite all the different inspired authors -- they are all telling the same story. Some are telling different parts, but they all coalesce into a unified whole. That is why any verse or chapter has to be seen in light of the whole.

Yes, I could mishear God as I am human and humans err. I can use the Bible as a guide to know that I am hearing Him correctly. If I think He is saying something and it doesn't line up with Scripture I know it isn't Him.

God is not what you paint Him to be. He is holy, and His justice has been met out on humanity before, but always for good and not for evil.

Karla said...

Aaron my discussion has revolved around foundational matters and how the Christian worldview addresses them and makes sense of them. My worldview is not always correct as I am human. But I strive to correct it when it is in error always to keep it in line with Truth. I am not omniscient so I don't know all things. So my worldview in that regard is incomplete. However, there are things that I do know and those things are knowable. I know Jesus is Truth and I follow Him with all that I am. When I encounter a belief I maintain that does not line up with His Truth I abandon it to conform to what is true and not what is not.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"There are no contradictions in the Bible."

Do you really want to go down that path? There are TONS of contradictions in the Bible.

"Despite all the different inspired authors -- they are all telling the same story."

This is most likely wrong. The gospel authors were telling competing stories. Mark talks of a Jesus that he wants to emphasize as human, while Luke is trying to portray what he thinks is godlike, so he takes Mark's story and changes it to make Jesus more god-like. It was a competing story. I suggest you read Bart Ehrman's book "Misquoting Jesus."

"Yes, I could mishear God as I am human and humans err. I can use the Bible as a guide to know that I am hearing Him correctly. If I think He is saying something and it doesn't line up with Scripture I know it isn't Him."

You mean that if what you think god is telling you doesn't line up with YOUR INTERPRETATION of scripture, it isn't him? But, that's not a sure way of knowing anything because once again you are filtering everything through your interpretation. So, my question still stands, how do you know your interpretation is right?

"God is not what you paint Him to be. He is holy, and His justice has been met out on humanity before, but always for good and not for evil."

I've asked you how you know god is holy, just, etc, and you've not answered. I've given examples as to why god is not just, good, etc, and all you've come back with is more assertions of god's holiness, justice, etc. You can't answer the question, can you?

"However, there are things that I do know and those things are knowable. I know Jesus is Truth and I follow Him with all that I am. When I encounter a belief I maintain that does not line up with His Truth I abandon it to conform to what is true and not what is not."

How do you know Jesus is "Truth" and how do you know what the "Truth" is?

Aaron said...

I'm done