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Re: [christian-philosophy] The tree of the moral knowledge

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  • Aleksandar Katanovic
    ... Well, then we agree that they could not have the moral knowledge prior to ... They did not know that it was wrong to disobey God, which was what I argued
    Message 1 of 308 , Nov 1, 2002
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      At 20:57 31/10/2002, you wrote:
      >Hi Alex
      >[[>>PREVIOUS ALEX:
      > >>[If Adam knew what was right and what was wrong, is it not true that right
      > >>things are also good things, and that he therefore knew what was good?
      > >>Would not also be the case that wrong things are things that are not good?
      > >>I can see that there can be a distinction between wrong and evil.
      > >>Nevertheless, how should we understand the terms 'good' and 'evil' unless
      > >>they are moral terms? Is there exegetical grounds to interpret the term
      > >>'evil' as a negation to every thing what is counted as good? I think that
      > >>you are much into Hebrew, and I am interested in your opinion.]
      > >
      > >I think, in this sense, and I am only giving my understanding, that the
      > >original 'boundary' sets the scene for the Tree and the human action.
      > >I believe the Tree to be just a tree, a tree which roots the events in
      > >actual history. Perhaps the tree is called the TKGE, descriptive of the end
      > >result what would happen should they eat?
      >And how is the description of the tree descriptive of the end result of
      >what would happen should they eat?]]
      >Because once they ate, they would have knowledge of Good and Evil, that is
      >knowledge of what it is like to be good.. and then knowledge of what it is
      >like to be evil. They previously could not have that knowledge.

      Well, then we agree that they could not have the moral knowledge prior to
      the eating of the fruit of TKGE. As you also say at the end of your post:

      >They did know what was right (obeying) and what was wrong (disobeying). They
      >were not meant to know what "good and evil" were, that knowledge was
      >prohibited by God.

      They did not know that it was wrong to disobey God, which was what I argued
      all along.

      >[[>After all, there is nothing
      > >magical about it.
      >If the tree was an ordinary tree, then God's reaction sounds unreasonable.
      >Why being so upset for an ordinary tree?]]
      >Its not the tree He was upset about, but the "action" - that is God is upset
      >about the act of disobedience, not the tree, it could have been any tree, or
      >a sandwhich on a table, thats beside the point.

      But why put such restriction if the tree was an ordinary one? The
      restriction seems to be quite unnecessary one to impose on the first
      humans, especially if the tree was an ordinary one. It appears that God
      behaves in an capricious manner, giving capricious commands, especially if
      we hold the view that the tree was an ordinary one.

      >[[What about the other tree: the tree of life? Is it nothing special about
      >the tree? I think it was, since the reason for being cast out from the
      >garden was to prevent A & E in eating the fruits of the tree of life. The
      >report is referring to both trees as some special kind of trees.]]
      >To be honest, it doesnt matter if the tree is 'special' or not. It stands,
      >symbolically (or theologically), for eternal life which is only available to
      >those who are in fact in Eden, which is of course, the presence of God.

      OK, we could interpret the whole story in a mythological sense, trying to
      find the hidden truth behind the myth. But the problem would be to find the
      right interpretation of the symbols in the story: the garden, the tree of
      the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, the snake, etc. We would
      not be entitled to hold that there was one real garden with trees, etc.
      Still, we could take the story at its face value, and morally evaluate
      God's behavior according to the story, with the understanding that the
      elements of the story are just symbols which together convey some truth.
      Our task is to find what this truth is all about that would justify God's
      restrictions on human behavior, behavior He created in the first place.

      >And to put it simply, which is how I understand it, it goes like this:
      >God is creator (gen 1:1), and we are his representives, created beings
      >living in close relationship with God (gen 1:26-27) and having eternal
      >life. We were given a boundary/rule which wasnt to be broken (gen 2:16),
      >but it was. As a result, there were certain consquences, the major one
      >being a loss of purpose resulting from our removal from the presence of
      >God, and our access back barred, denying us eternal life (gen 3:17-21). A
      >second consequence is that all who follow from the original people were
      >also born outside of the close relationship with God (gen 5:6).
      >So, there is no need for there to be a 'magical' tree, in fact, the
      >purpose of using trees, and snakes, and rivers etc, isnt to spiritualise
      >them, but rather, to ground the whole thing in human history and
      >experience. I would suggest Henri Blocher's "Original Sin" as a good book.
      >>"Anyway, God sets a boundary, do not eat from the tree, in he day you do
      >>this, you will "dying die".
      >>Why was it necessary for God to set the boundary: what wanted He to
      >>accomplish with this?
      >Why God set the boundary? I dont think anyone can really answer this. We
      >just have a record saying He did. Perhaps, as a guess, I would say that
      >His intimate knowledge of the human being led Him to do it because there
      >was a need for it, in order that His plans and purposes would be realised
      >throughout the course of History.
      >>"Why make unnecessary limitations for humans, especially if the TKGE was
      >>just an ordinary tree?"
      >Again, I dont think anyone can really have an answer to this, only God. At
      >best, we could only ever guess.

      In effect what you are saying is that you are unable to meet moral
      objections against God's capricious commandments and the way He created
      human universe with evil and suffering. But if you can give good guesses
      and speculations, they would be more than welcome. We try to find plausible
      explanations and interpretations justifying God's goodness and wisdom, even
      if these explanations might appear to be speculative.

      >What is it wrong for human beings to 'become like God', and how could they
      >'become like God' if the tree was an ordinary tree? What kind of harm is
      >there present in the desire of 'becoming like God'?]]
      >The harm is that human beings were not created to be God. We were created to
      >be human beings, a little lower than the angels, to represent God by
      >subduing and having dominion on earth as His representatives.

      Why then create in human beings the desire for being equal with God, if we
      were not meant to be equal with God? The equality in question is only
      equality in SOme aspects, e.g. equality with God with respect to make
      (autonomous) moral judgments.

      >Thanks for this discussion Alex, I find it most stimulating.

      Looking forward for your next post.

    • ULRICHPUN7@tiscali.co.uk
      Dear Daniel , I only just saw this as I never read the two thousand plus e mails I got for the long toime I was not writing to club . Gordon Clark did define
      Message 308 of 308 , Feb 2, 2003
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        Dear Daniel , I only just saw this as I never read the two thousand plus e mails I got for the long toime I was not writing to club . Gordon Clark did define in his view logic ontoilogically . I dont say he succeeded . But The Logos or Our Lord Jesus is ontologically the logic of God . Presumably you mean an athiest cannot define logic ontologically but there have been pagan attempts at this whether heraclitean or heideggerian . Try to say perspicuously what you mean each time . Ulrich
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Monday, November 18, 2002 3:26 AM
        Subject: Re: [christian-philosophy] God's Morality & TKGE

        When we assert that God cannot do the logically impossible, only those people who are so educated beyond their intelligence in the matter of logic that they think that logic is a property unto itself will think that what we are asserting must ontologically mean that logic rules over God. This is nonsense, but it shows just how much influence the ancient Greek has in our education. There is no such thing as logic as an object in itself.  ---Try to define logic ontologically.
        Daniel Pech
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 7:12 PM
        Subject: Re: [christian-philosophy] God's Morality & TKGE

        Somebody below (I can't figure out who) wrote:
        >"In any case, your discussion really loses interest for me after this point. I mean what point is there in having an all-powerful God that can not violate the silly principles of men and still come off in the right?"<
        Why logical reality, on the one hand, requires that omnipotence include the "power" to violate logical truth and, on the other hand, require that such a "power" cannot exist, is beyond me. The fact is that there is no conception of omnipotence residing limply "out there".

        The person who holds to the standard of conception that concludes that this is the true omnipotence, if he were to be consistent with himself instead of putting the logical shoe on the other foot, would have to admit defeat in ever proving that such a power does not exist. For, if such a power exists, it cannot be disproved. If this sort of power is the conceptually ultimate extent of power, then it can, by very definition, make itself more powerful still, which contradicts the standard by which it is conceived as such.

        The rock question poses an extent of power that can do something which this power then cannot undo. If that were really a test of the property of omnipotence, than you are half-omnipotent already, since you have that kind of "power" (the other half is the "power" to violate logical truth).

        Truth is not a limit upon omnipotence, but upon what we can truthfully say that omnipotence is.

        And, it's not just power, because power=power. If you can prove that logic and power can be ontologically separated, then you would have some ground to stand on. Otherwise, not.

        The fact is that if this were sensible, then one could as well pit logic against power in the jurisdiction of power. There is no neutral judge between them because they are ontologically each a dimension of One Necessary "thing". If there could be a neutral judge between them and assuming they could be ontologically separate, then there would be no way, in any case, to determine which one of them would win.
        There is no such thing as the logically impossible, only the meaningless. It means nothing to ask "can omnipotence make a blue verb?" or "can omnipotence make a xb&/%*?". The only difference between these "questions" upon omnipotence and the rock question is that these do not express self-contradictions; they have objects (one of them having meaningful elements), but they identify nothing. One step further and we can ask "can omnipotence ______?" where the blank space is meant to be blank and yet the asker thinks he means some challange upon power. The principle behind all of these questions is the lack of identity of the objects asked about. Nothing is being identified, yet they are all grammatically correct. With the rock question, the question as a whole fails to identify something, even though the two halves of the question each separately identify something.
        Anything that requires finite power is logically possible. If omnipotence includes now-infinite power, then it is not logically possible for omnipotence to make a now-infinite requirement upon itself. How could it make such an object in the first place? And, if we try to begin with a now-infinite object instead of with now-infinite power, then by what power does this object exist? Such an object would have to be dimensionless, otherwise it's infinite size would logically disallow a now-infinite power (unless this object and that power are one and the same). Can an object of infinite size fit in the current universe, seeing either that there is no such object since we are here, or that we are part of that object? The fact that infinity is logically possible does not therefore mean that a now-infinite power can make a now-infinite-power-requirement upon itself. And, a time-infinite power requirement is not infinite because infinity cannot be traversed. Infinite power, if it exists, is, by definition, timeless (eternal). The problem is that, for a finite mind, a thing true (or false) by definition is not in all circumstances known as such. If omnipotence is anti-qualified power, then, by definition, it has the ability to make everything true, false, both, neither, and meaningless all at the same time. The only thing that would have inherent meaning, then, is this omnipotence----which contradicts the very definition. Anti-qualified power is, at its very root, meaningless. It is a container without a wall, a string of words without identity. And, attributes of deity are hardly exclusive to this erroneous reasoning, so, if it is erroneous when seen in regard to down-to-earth things, how is that very same principle of reasoning not erroneous when used upon attributes of deity?
        Omnibenevolence taken "literally" means to love everything, no matter how good or evil. A being with such "all-lovingness" loves injustice just like it loves justice. A person who is an omni-procrastinator procrastinates even about procrastinating, and such a "concept" is a direct contradiction: two opposing concepts mistaken as one concept. It's pure nonsense.
        The being who possesses qualified omnipotence must, by definition, be omnipotent, otherwise we are talking nonsense in thinking to argue as if we can logically separate the being ontologically from that power. It is indeed meaningless to ask whether omnipotence can destroy omnipotence, and that is really what is being asked. In other words, when this being destroys himself, what happens to his power? Does it stay while he goes, or does it go with him? We do not need to pose any supposed logical problem upon a being who possesses omnipotence, all we need do is ask "what happens" when an unstoppable rock meets an immovable/impenetrable wall. The fact that we can ask "what happens" does not make a meaningless question meaningful.
        If indestructability is not a power, then how does it require power to destroy omnipotence, since it is apparently thought valid to ask whether an omnipotent being has the power to destroy himself? If the act of destroying omnipotence does not require power, then what can destroy it at all?

        2+2=4 is logically equivalent to "an immovable, indestructible, impenetrable wall". Anti-qualified power is logically equivalent to "an unstoppable rock". If they meet in space, one of them must not be as defined. The only way for both to exist as defined is if we posit a further rule that says that they cannot, by their very nature, ever meet. This rule is logically equivalent to 'logic' itself, and thus we transform anti-qualified omnipotence into a meaningful omnipotence. The kind of question that tries to pose omnipotence as a paradox assumes this rule already, that logic is exactly distinct in jurisdiction from power. Thus, the one posing the question is contradicting himself in posing it. It's a trick question, similar to "So, uh, Fred, ol' buddy, have you stopped beating your wife?"; to take it seriously as a way to show that omnipotence is a bit of nonsense is logically immanent to asserting that there is no trick, invalid, or meaningless question that can be asked of omnipotence. If this were the case, then one could suppose that omnipotence is the one and only mental object to which there is no invalid question possible----but, an anti-qualified power could make it otherwise.
        >"Are you saying that God lacks the power to do a deed contrary to His goodness or are you saying that God does have the power to do a deed contrary to His goodness?"<
        Can omnibenevolence despise itself? If we imagine that omnibenevolence and omnipotence are ontologically bound together (as if "bound" is the right term here) then the answer to your two questions becomes clear, so that you must first demonstrate that the choices you present are even valid:

        "Mr. Smith, for the last time, please simply answer the question: have you, or have you not, stopped beating your wife?"
        >"logical restrictions are "limitations" in every sense of the term."<
        We learn of what things are by way of description (things we are initially ignorant of), and only then can we do more than describe them, namely, to go on to explain them. But, if there is to be any ground of reality at all, any standard by which all other things are proved, then this ground must itself be incapable of direct description by way of other things, much more of explanation. If God has the "power" to make himself cease to exist (kill himself), then not only is he not the ground of all other being, but *nothing* is the ground of being in the first place.
        Daniel Pech

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Gerry
        Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 6:40 AM
        Subject: Re: [christian-philosophy] God's Morality & TKGE

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Dan now
        Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 6:15 AM
        Subject: Re: [christian-philosophy] God's Morality & TKGE

         God CAN, where CAN, is understood in the vein of Abilities, do everything; whether He would do them is a matter of His Character or Nature.

        gm:  Hebrews 6:18, "in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. {NAS)

        gm:  "Impossible" is the Greek 'adunatos', it means "unable", God is unable to lie in at least two things.  Your proposition that God is able to do anything is refuted.  The normal sense of "cannot", when used without qualification as in Titus 1:2, is that there is an inability attached.  Exegetically, in light of Hebrews 6:18, we should conclude that God does not have the ability to lie.

        In talking about such a supernatural God it just looks silly to try and cordon him off by such logical stipulations.

        gm:  It looks silly to arbitrarily redefine "cannot" as referring only to choice, rather than ability. "Will not", or "does not", indicate ability governed by choice.  "Cannot" indicates inability, either innate or imposed.

        God has done "contradictory" things as recorded in the Bible. He sent a "lying tongue" into a prophet, and He stopped the sun, not to mention coming as a human being, which can be understood as a contradiction.

        gm:  These are not contradictions in any sense.  God sent a "lying spirit", but this cannot to be equated with lying. You will notice in the context, that the lying spirit was sent to the false prophets of Ahab, God's purpose being the destruction of a wicked king. False prophets were lying, not God.  You will also notice that God's prophet, Micaiah, spoke the truth to Ahab, even disclosing the fact that his prophets were speaking under the influence of a lying spirit. The lying spirit spoke by his own volition, he stepped forward and volunteered, God simply permitted him to go forth.  When God spoke, through his prophet, he was completely truthful.

        gm:  Neither is stopping the sun a contradiction.  In what sense is it a contradiction for the creator to intervene directly in operation of his creation? 

        gm: From the Old Testament, we see that God appeared on this earth in the form of a man on numerous occasions. That he was ultimately born into human flesh is no contradiction.  It is not even paradox.

        Either you take the verse I quoted as Scripture or you don't.

        gm: Nothing that you have quoted, when taken in context, supports you proposition.  You are proof-texting to support your a priori assumption that God can do absolutely anything.  As someone has said, "a proof text, without a context, is a pretext".

        If you do you probably would have to relinquish much of the meaning of your argument; and even your view that God cannot do logically impossible things. I'm sure He CAN (Ability-wise), He probably just doesn't.

        gm:  Either you take Hebrews 6:18 as Scripture or you don't.  Since it explicitly says that God is unable [adunatos] to lie, you need to explain your insistence that he can.

        In any case, your discussion really loses interest for me after this point. I mean what point is there in having an all-powerful God that can not violate the silly principles of men and still come off in the right?

        gm:  One of the silliest principles of men is to deny the text of Scripture in favor of an emotionally held, contrary presupposition.

        You are tremendously limiting God which may stem from your shallow experience of Him in His omniscient and almighty nature and presence.

        gm: You seem to believe that you have a deep experience with God, while at the same time ignoring God's word.

        He also made an animal "prophesy"; lets not forget that. Anyway excuse the intrusion.

        gm: This, as in all of your examples, is not a contradiction.  You appear to believe that anything that falls outside the norm, or is unusual, or miraculous, is a contradiction.  Not so.



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