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Postby eriador » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:43 pm

I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ ‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not if you did not know.’ ‘Then why,’ asked the Eskimo earnestly, ‘did you tell me?’
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Postby Rei » Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:57 pm

Methinks that priest needs to brush up on his catechism.
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Postby Jebus » Fri Sep 28, 2007 6:45 am

Well the alternate to what the priest is suggesting would allow for an irrationally evil God.

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Postby Yebra » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:27 am

To resolve the existence of a good god with this all you’d have to do is invent levels of not heaven so that people ignorant would be spared the hellfire, but still be trapped outside of heaven. This helps the rest the conscience of any missionary who dwells too long on this question as whilst by preaching they unblock the road to hell; they also offer a chance to reach heaven.

That said; that’s long been one of my favourite quotes.
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Postby Amka » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:34 pm

I guess that is the Mormon answer, that there is more than one heaven when all is said and done.

Another Mormon answer to this is that since death really is not the end, then people continue on, and if they continue on then they must continue to learn and grow and become better, always trying to overcome bad habits, etc. It is far easier to change in mortal existance than after we die.

And yet another answer is that, despite the fact that the Eskimo may not have known about the Gospel, he did have his own beliefs and code of conduct. God would hold him accountable for that.

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Postby suminonA » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:27 am

[...] since death really is not the end, then people continue on, and if they continue on then they must continue to learn and grow and become better, always trying to overcome bad habits, etc. It is far easier to change in mortal existance than after we die.
Are you sure things work that way after we die? I mean, I think it is quite possible that death is not the end of our existence, that we get reborn (reincarnated) over and over again until … we get tired of it :D But who is to know how things work “between lives”? Maybe it is far more easier to change then, by choosing the parameters for the next incarnation (like being born in a poor family/country or in a wealthy one) and then the life is meant to be a challenge that we set for ourselves, to overcome hardships, to relate to the other people, to learn and to teach, to receive and to give and so on. Maybe this “alive” state is bound by physical laws but the other one is not, something like the dream state, where we are bound only by our imagination (or lack thereof).

---

To come back to the topic here anyway …

To me, the dilemma of the Eskimo is quite simple to solve: he either takes on the faith about the new deity, or doesn’t. If he does, he must fear hell like any other good religious folk. If he doesn’t, then the dark perspective of hell is as immaterial as the deity in whose name the promise is made.

To go further on the moral tangent, it’s one thing to know something is wrong, and to know that doing something wrong brings up punishment from your fellow men, and quite another to fear punishment from an omniscient deity.
In the first case, the guilt has to be proven before punishment comes about. This gives a “loop-hole” to those who take care not to be caught in the act, and to not leave traces to be caught after that (the so called “perfect crime”).
But in the second case, the faith is mingled with the morals. So a religious person, (presumably) fears the punishment of the omniscient, all-seeing and recording deity, even for a “perfect crime”.

I suppose that there are some people who think that atheists fall always under the first case scenario, while the religious fall under the second, therefore the second group being (intrinsically) more “moral” than the first.

Still, I can’t stop but wonder: Who is more “moral”, someone who does good only for reward and doesn’t do wrong only for fear of punishment, or someone who does good even while not waiting for any reward, and doesn’t do wrong because their “godless” morality simply makes them don’t?

---

I’ll end this rhetoric with another quote:
When I was a child, I used to pray to God for a bicycle. But then I realised that God doesn't work in that way -- so I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness.

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Postby jotabe » Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:46 am

That's a point that the Catholic Church solves pretty neatly: "good works aren't possible unless you are in state of grace".

Usual interpretation is that good works made by people not in state of grace (unbelievers) aren't actually good works.

I rather interpret it otherwise: people who do good works is because they are in state of grace, even if they don't know it, even if they reject religion, because they accepted what is most important, that is the love (charitas) from which good works come... so they have faith unknowingly :D
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Postby Dr. Mobius » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:08 pm

So I can take a bullet for the pope and still go to hell? That's awesome.

And having some of the same morals and ideals as a religion isn't the same thing as faith.
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Postby Amka » Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:10 pm

Actually, the why of obedience to rules/commandments and morality is a good one.

There are three levels of obedience.

The lowest is obedience through fear. You are afraid of punishment, so you obey.

The next is obedience through honor. You want to do the correct thing, so you obey. You could argue that this is fear based as well.

The highest is out of love. You love God and your neighbor, so you obey.

One of the easiest commandments you can apply this to is stealing. Why don't you steal? Afraid of being caught? Think it is wrong? Or do you wish to not harm the person?

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Postby 21BRAVO » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:52 am

Dante's Inferno discusses the different levels of hell as they are punishments for certain levels of sin. It also describes purgatory and the garden outside of heaven for all those who never learned of god. You can't really punish them for not knowing. So that's where all the Greek and Roman (pre-Christian) heroes hang out with the unbaptized babies.
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Postby Slim » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:26 pm

Disclaimer: The following is what I believe, not necessarily that of the reader. The purpose of me writing this is to explain what I believe in relation to the question.

"...Then why did you tell me?" isn't a question that came up during my mission. It was usually, "...Why don't you go tell someone else?" :)

But would someone who didn't know God or Sin go to hell? No. So, why would I try and teach them? Because I believe that before the Final Judgment, all people must be taught and given the opportunity to choose themselves. This requires the Gospel to be taught before the Final Judgment to the untold millions that die without ever hearing it.

So why not just let them wait until after they die, and let the post-mortal missionaries handle it? Wouldn't it be easier for people to accept the Gospel when they are dead? I don't claim to know how the process works in the afterlife, or even if it is the same sort of thing. (Do those missionaries have to go knocking on doors, too??) But one thing I do know: Just because you are dead isn't going to change who you are. A person who dies is still going to have the same "favorite sins." We will still have the same habits, the same attitude, the same amount of laziness, and the same whatever else you can think of.

Repentance is more than just not doing the sin anymore -- it's a change of heart. That kind of change takes time, so why not hear the gospel and get a head start?

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For those who like be to site my references:
Alma 34:32-34 - Do not procrastinate / You will be the same spirit.
Doctorine and Covenants 137:5-10 - Revelation on salvation for the dead.
1 Peter 3:18-20 - Christ taught in spirit prison.
1 Peter 4:6 - The gospel is preached to the dead.
Doctorine and Covenants 138:18-35 - Vision of the redemption of the dead.
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Postby Xenofreak » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:39 pm

Dante's Inferno discusses the different levels of hell as they are punishments for certain levels of sin. It also describes purgatory and the garden outside of heaven for all those who never learned of god. You can't really punish them for not knowing. So that's where all the Greek and Roman (pre-Christian) heroes hang out with the unbaptized babies.
I was under the impression that the outer ring of hell was for the good souls that died before the death of Jesus. There was no punishment other than seperation from God but they were still in hell. I believe this is where Virgil lived. It has been a while since I read the three poems.

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Postby BlakCrow » Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:15 pm

Greetings all, I'm new here.

The question/scenario posted by eriador piqued by interest.

Here's some thoughts I had.

The scenario, to me, carries a prejudice or pre-conceived notion with it. That notion being that religion is a hindrance to an otherwise free and happy life; religion is just a list of rules that keeps one from having fun and doing what one wants. I think that's a pretty common view of religion.
But there is another view. Some people view religion as an improvement to their lives, not as a hindrance to happiness and freedom, but a path to those things. The list of rules aren't seen as a means to hold one down, but as a means to be kept from being held down.

I tend to hold to the latter view, and because of that, I'm a practicing and faithful member of an organized religion. But that doesn't mean I don't question that view. Some days not going to church sounds pretty good.
In the end, however, I believe God's teachings, if followed as He intended, will improve our lives both here and in the next life.

With this in mind, let's imagine a scenario where the priest decided not to teach the Eskimo. In the afterlife, the Eskimo learns God's teachings and feels great joy as a result. He asks the priest if this joy would have been possible in his mortal life. 'Yes,' says the priest, 'if you had known God's teachings.' ‘Then why,’ asks the Eskimo earnestly, ‘did you not tell me?’
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Postby KennEnder » Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:33 pm

I suppose it's like buying a lottery ticket.

Very few people win the lottery, but a lot of people "pay the piper" to take their chance. Are they happier because they bought the chance to win millions, even if their life is more difficult for having done so (because they have less money for lunch or whatever)?

Surely there ARE those who are happier, just knowing that they have that one-in-a-million chance to "escape" their misery, a misery which is only made worse by their constant (and probably growing) investment. They have HOPE. Hope is wonderful. Magical, even. But each passing week also increases their hopelessness. And, if in addition to not winning the drawing, they always misplace their tickets anyway (or, in the case of religion, they keep sinning), are they really making a good investment at all? Buying tickets, knowing they will lose every one of them (one way or another), has to be defeating.

Which explains the idea behind those smaller lottery prizes... $5! Wow! I won! Now I can invest again, because next time it will probably be bigger/better! [Surely you see how that applies to the Christian metaphor?]

I'm a Christian, but I never buy lottery tickets. Logically, it just doesn't make sense to me. It's a bad investment. [Would I convert to Christianity if I had been born into some other religion? I doubt it... and incredibly, not many people DO change their birth religion easily.] But I know a lot of people who buy tickets "religiously," as it were. They are sure, absolutely SURE, they will win someday. Because, naturally, someone DOES win. They read about it, which means it MUST be true, right?

So, even though this doesn't quite work, I took too much time writing it to just throw it away. Maybe you'll get my drift anyway:

A grocery-store cashier (ie, the Lottery "priest") tells an Eskimo man (shouldn't we be calling him an Inuit?) to sell his igloo, land, and fishing pole and spend all that money on the Lottery. He could become a millionaire, the cashier assures him, and then he could move anywhere, build a house and have all the food he wants. So the Eskimo does, thinking that his life will get easy and wonderful. But he doesn't win the lottery and has nothing at all. He goes back to the cashier and asks, "I was happy before you told me about the lottery. Couldn't I have just kept my igloo and my land and eaten fish every day without being a millionaire?" the Eskimo wonders. "Sure," replies the cashier. "Then why did you have to tell me about the Lottery?"
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Postby BlakCrow » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:03 am

KennEnder,

I think I understand your analogy with the lottery and I like it. But, as I'm sure you can understand, I don't like to think of my faith as a lottery ticket based entirely on chance (and not a very good chance at that). However, I admit, there are definitely times I wonder if all I'm doing, all I believe in is for naught.

I think in your analogy you are describing the luke warm believer, a person who goes through the motions doing the minimum necessary to save himself. His lottery tickets are things like church attendance on special occasions (Christmas and Easter), donating money once in a while to a worthy cause, and other similar superficial actions. He does the easy, low-effort things he hopes will be enough to save him.
A sincere believer may also buy lottery tickets, but additionally he's putting in hard work. He's doing the things the luke warm believer isn't willing to do. The lotto tickets are just extra.

Additionally, I don't think the grocery-store cashier (priest) would encourage someone to sell all they own to buy lottery tickets. I think he would encourage someone to get a job, get in a stable situation, save some money, and then buy some lottery tickets in a prudent manner.
And if the guy never hits the jackpot? So what? Look at what he accomplished with his life: a job, stability, a good life. Same thing with the religious lottery ticket. What if all a person believed in turns out to be false? So what? Look at the life he led: good husband, good father, treated others nice, helped others, etc.

Anyway, that's just some thoughts of mine.
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Postby KennEnder » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:57 pm

All very true points, BlakCrow... and my metaphore wasn't exactly leakproof, as you noticed.

But you did hit on another pet peeve...

If the Inuit was perfectly happy with his igloo and fish every day, why should we ask him to "get a job" so he can be happy? It's not exactly a rhetorical question, since we (western culture and others) have made that demand of many indigenous people throughout history. They have everything they need, but we want them to WORK because that's how our culture does things. "You have to do something ELSE besides fish for your own food and maintain your own life." Why is that, exactly?

But I digress!
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Postby BlakCrow » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:25 am

I certainly agree we have no right to force or demand that anyone change their beliefs, and there have been plenty of ugly examples of people doing exactly that in the past.

I guess my idea was we can present our beliefs to others, if they are willing to listen, that is, and let them do what they want with it. They can take it or leave it. Kind of like what we are doing here (which I've really enjoyed, by the way).
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Postby KennEnder » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:53 pm

Which is all fine and dandy, but religions tend to put a threat onto their "education." That is to say, "Now that we have told you, you MUST convert or die." Sometimes we leave the "threat" for God to take care of, but there were people in the past (and there will be again, no doubt) who took that action into their own hands, believing it to be a mandate from God to do it. Even Christopher Columbus (our greatest American hero?) killed natives who didn't convert readily. And many others throughout history...

Discussion and education are great, but ardent believers frequently find that to be incomplete. And the Bible talks about it... and it's not "pretty."
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Postby eriador » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:21 am

Wow.... I really like where this discussion has gone.

One thing that I haven't heard addressed though is how the missionary can reconcile his stated purpose (allow as many people as possible to go to heaven) with his method (which will cause those who reject him to go to hell).

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Postby BeansBrother » Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:01 pm

This is like "The Game."

In this game, all who do not know about it are winning. The only way to lose is if you know about the game. We play the game our whole entire life.

Now, you all know about the game. So you are losing.

But what is the point about "The Game?" The point is to make yourself feel better because you are losing, so you must make others lose.

In my opinion, this is the true nature of human beings. If one is unfortunate, unless by extremity in which th person is an utterly selfless altruist, then most people will try to make everyone else lose.
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Postby zeroguy » Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:47 am

Randall Munroe tells me otherwise.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:10 pm

See, people keep saying I can't not play the game, but I just don't agree to those rules. And since it's my psyche we're talking about, I win. :)
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Postby BeansBrother » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:41 pm

Everyone can't not un-dis-play the game. It's basic logic, that's all.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:33 pm

It's not even basic grammar, how on earth is it logical?
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Postby Rei » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:56 pm

I hate to say it, but generative grammar says that you cannot attach those prefixes to verbs with the meaning you appear to intend. Ave Chomskius!
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Postby zeroguy » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:02 am

By BeansBrother's definition of the game, you (specifically you, EL) are playing it, whether or not you acknowledge or accept it. Since by definition of the game, you know of it and therefore play it.

By your (EL's) definition, you (EL) are not, as you refute it on the basis that your are the master of your own psyche and can say what you are playing or not.

So, EL believes she is not playing, whereas BB believes she is. To each their own[1]. Most people automatically accept arbitrary rules placed on them in things like this (see also this xkcd; Munroe touches on the theme a few times); the comic I posted was Munroe putting forth his own set of rules that people would arbitrarily follow (at least, those who would follow the original arbitrary rules in the first place) in order to free them. Done jokingly of course, as one of Munroe's examples of how ridiculous the arbitrary rules are and questions why people follow them.

This is one of several points I think I disagree with Munroe on, in that it's not always stupid to follow arbitrary rules forced upon us by peers. Hell, you could describe, like, all societal norms that way. And it seems like we'd be pretty fscked without them.

And this is why I try not to think too much about xkcd comics; because they make me realize more and more that I really don't like Randall Munroe.

[1] Not necessarily disagreement; you just have different definitions you accept for the game.
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Postby suminonA » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:54 am

"The Game" as described by BB is an example not only of arbitrary rules, but of arbitrary and non-deniable rules. I mean, there is a rule like : you can't not play the game after you are aware of it's existence.

So it's not like you play the game because you've chosen to respect its rules. The fact is that the rule doesn't offer you a choice, once the existence of the game (and its rules) are presented to you making you aware of it.

The only way out would be to ignore -from the start- completely any information about the game, never respond to it and act as if the information never existed (therefore you implicitly have never been conscious of it).

Therefore, as EL has responded to it, whatever reason she brings, she is playing the game (and has lost, obviously).

Just so you know that there is no "going back" ;)

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PS: this is not the only "game" that has such rules.
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Postby BeansBrother » Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:51 am

Eaquae Legit and Rei: it's called sarcasm :D

And thanks for those explanations, zero and A. I could not have said it better myself.

EDIT: Except, when you say that not acknowledging the game's existance is the only way not to play the game, even then, one is still playing. The rules of the game are specific for in it that all those who don't know/don't acknowledge the game's existence are WINNING the game, but are still playing. Once they find out about the game, they are now losing.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:03 am

Meh. I've known about it for years. I don't care about winning or losing, because I'm not playing. The only people who think I'm playing are not me. Saying "But you are playing!" over and over again doesn't make it any more true. You can cite all the "rules" you want, but since I'm not playing, I don't care about them. They're irrelevant.

And they're just as annoyingly obnoxious as the soap-box preacher who yells "You're going to hell!" If you don't believe hell exists, why should you stop and listen to him?

I don't care if anyone else wants to play "The Game." I'm not. It's just that simple.

:)
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Postby suminonA » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:10 am

Meh. [...] :)
It's interesting that you respond to a meme wiht another meme. Long live te memes ! ;)

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Postby BeansBrother » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:23 am

And they're just as annoyingly obnoxious as the soap-box preacher who yells "You're going to hell!" If you don't believe hell exists, why should you stop and listen to him?
Yet, if someone does believe in hell, subjectively, the person who "is going to hell" really is going to hell. So could we not say that the game is subjective? In my mind, you are playing the game, yet in your mind you aren't. In fact, it's very similar to Einsteins relativity theories. There is no real answer to whether or not someone is playing, but there is subjectively.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:28 am

And if there's not a hell, all they're doing is blowing hot air.

Metaphors aside, no, you can't say I'm playing the game. Why? Because I'm not, and I've told you that. I do not proclaim my status of winning or losing. I do not inform others about it. I do not insist other play it. I don't follow the rules. I'm not playing.
"Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul." -- Pope John XXIII

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suminonA
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Postby suminonA » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:40 am

And if there's not a hell, all they're doing is blowing hot air.

Metaphors aside, no, you can't say I'm playing the game. Why? Because I'm not, and I've told you that. I do not proclaim my status of winning or losing. I do not inform others about it. I do not insist other play it. I don't follow the rules. I'm not playing.
Eaque Legit, are you willingly ignoring the meaning of the game? (BTW, ignoring that meaning doesn't help you at all). As it is defined (remember: it has arbitrary and non-deniable rules) it doesn't have to be played actively. The simple fact that you are aware of it makes you a player (a passive one, at least). You can ignore that rule, but as there is no way to deny it (actively or passively), now that you have shown undeniable signs that you are aware of the game, there is no escape, as far as "the game" goes.

Truth be told, I'm a bit annoyed myself by this meme, and even if my analysis makes me an "active" player, I could not care less. I only hope that you can appreciate the true "value" of it, because it shows how non-deniable rules "work".

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It's all just a matter of interpretation.

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KennEnder
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Postby KennEnder » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:11 am

What are you all talking about?

NO... never mind, I really don't want to know. Really.

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Eaquae Legit
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:24 am

The only thing that says the rules are undeniable are the rules themselves. It's rather circular. You can recite all the rules you want, but if I chose not to play, I reject any authority the rules might have had over me.

I had this argument - not about "the game," but about whether someone can be considered a participant against their will - when I was about 7. The answer was the same.
"Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul." -- Pope John XXIII


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