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Monday, February 22, 2010

Okay, Freedom and Law?

In my "Freedom" essay below, Byker Bob makes a thoughtful comment:
"...all we really know is that God is looking out for the long term spiritual good of all his children".

Ex-Android, responds, and with sound logic(I'm not "picking" on either person, just trying to make a point):

"Hah! And you don't even 'really know' that. You believe--you don;t know. This is a common error among many theists".

When I read Byker Bob's statement, I think of Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..."

Do we actually "know" that? If we do, it will not be according to any humanly devised system of thought or decisions, because that very statement leads into the very idea that in fact we CANNOT make such decisions for ourselves!

Even if we look at this statement from the viewpoint of Godel's theorem, it is certainly possible to know something yourself, to actually understand that it is so, BUT once you attempt to define it within any process of organization or decisions leading to absolute truth or to God, it simple falls apart. It is certainly possible to know something for a fact, but not be able to prove it.

And because it is not subject to such proofs, it cannot be subject to the power and control of men. Do I know that there is a God? No, I don't, but even if i did, if God was directly revealed to me, it would still give me no power over the lives and decisions of other human beings, and that is exactly what Paul tells us, following into the rest of chapter 8 and 9.

That was the basic logical flaw of John Calvin, who took Romans 8:29-30 and then decided that he himself, with no proof whatever, was God's chosen, to establish rules over others. he had no such proof, and no man can claim such proof, as we know from our experience with HWA.

So, if "all things work together for the good", then that "good" will not be the result of my attempts to rule or control others in God's name, since as Paul points out, God already knows who will work in "His" name.

So, Ex-Android makes a valid point. We CANNOT know by any process of human "computation", by any process of human reason, that there is a God, and that all things work together for good. If such things WERE subject to the power of human reason, we could cancel the rest of Romans chapter 8 and 9, and Ex-Android would, in fact, be wrong! But he's not. In fact, he has just agreed with the conclusions of Paul in that regard.

Okay, if we can't know these things, and if we can't organize according to these things, what's the purpose for it all, if there is a purpose?

If no human can claim to represent "absolute truth" either in the form of religion or government(and even Ayn Rand would agree on that point), then the "sacrifice of Christ" can only have one purpose: that because he died innocently, his example is one to us that we should not condemn others under human laws and human concepts!

Under U.S. Constitutional law, Fifth Amendment, no person is to be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. That is a protection from federal government. We see the same clause repeated as a protection from state governments in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Notice that the "due process" package deals with "persons", not 'the people" in regard to passing laws, but with protections of persons, individuals who are accused of breaking the law.

These protections are extended under the Fifth Amendment and include not only the right to re main silent and not to give evidence against himself, but protection from double jeopardy and the right to have just compensation for property taken.

Also, we see protections for persons under the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments.

But notice that these examples of due process protection of persons is included in Old Testament law!

Isaiah 54:17: No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn.
"This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord".

This is the presumption of innocence, long established as part of "due process" protection.
It is part of the right of the individual not to incriminate himself before his accusers.
In other words, because there is no power of man to represent "absolute truth" or an absolute God, it is necessary for ALL collective powers of men to presume the innocence of the accused with God's protection!

Further protection, under OT law, is given in Isaiah 50:8:

"He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me.
"Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?"

Sound familiar? How about the Sixth Amendment?

"In ALL criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state...."

First, you can't be forced to incriminate yourself. Why? Because God stands on the side of the accused, not the accuser! Look at every state Constitution of the U.S. Every single one of them recognize the sovereignty of God in some form! That's due process of law!

The Bible is not about any person's right to rule in the name of God, but about EVERY person's right to live freely outside the condemnation of law!

Think about this: every attempt of every human has resulted in more and more confusion and uncertainty regarding the existence of God. But that is merely the logical result of Romans 8:7.

So what does that tell you about law? About all law, church or state? It tells you that no power, either church or state, has the right to convict or condemn you, without recognizing your right to face a legitimate accuser who can claim harm for your actions!

Since there exists no human power that can organize in God's name, or in the power of the state to represent truth, there can be no person who can say truthfully to you, "Here is Christ. Come follow me". And because all fifty US states recognize the sovereignty of God, they must bow to that same individual freedom which you possess!

In other words, the courts are bound by oath or affirmation, since all states recognize the sovereignty of God, to see to it that "all things work together for the good to those that love God", whether they like it or not!

If you choose, as an individual, to live according to principles of truth and goodness, you have the right to expect the state to protect that choice!

Who is the example? Jesus. he died innocently, prosecuted and put to death, even though he remained silent, even though there were no witnesses against him, even though he had harmed no one.

As Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas said: "But it(the state) has no right to compel the sovereign individual to surrender or impair his right of self defense....Mea culpa belongs to a man and his God. It is a plea that cannot be extracted from free men by human authority. To require it is to insist that the state is the superior of the individuals who compose it, instead of their instrument".

THAT is the essence of Old and New testament law, as derived from the Bible itself! Why?
Because "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son...."

Was there a God? Did it happen? I can't prove it did, and the law can't prove it didn't, and as long as the law recognizes the sovereignty of God, I have the right to declare myself free as long as I harm no other.


Byker bob said...

Well, ex-Android, my Bible tells me that my salvation is based on belief, and faith. Those are the door openers.

Belief is a personal choice. Looking back over thirty years of life, I can only tell you that during my time of non-belief, it seems that I was constantly and actively trying to prove to myself that God did not exist, and this was largely because the God who was presented to us by Armstrongism was totally unacceptable. Like yourself, I spent many hours debating this issue with believers, trying to disprove God to them as it were.

What I finally realized was that someone who had arrived at non-belief through science would probably not have the missionary zeal to do this. It would be a very neutral or dispassionate thing for the typical scientist. But, it is really not very neutral for someone who has arrived at non-belief as a result of spiritual rape. It is deep and very personal, with much emotion and a severe axe to grind.

It's been my experience that attempts to argue another into belief or unbelief are totally fruitless. Really, all we can do is to share our experiences with each other and to hope that the belief that we Christians have can inspire our atheist friends, while the logic and objective thinking of you non-believering folks helps us to develop our discernment skills so that we can be better stewards, and less hypocritical examples.


Ralph said...

I didn't quote you guyts to get you all stirred up, but rather to point out that there is a reason why proof isn't readily available.
It allows for individual freedom.

Ralph said...

I would also add that there is no solution as to whether there is or is not a God. But since the solution doesn't lie within human comncepts, there are no obvioulos authorities either way, which pretty much shows that Paul was correct. There is no decision pro cedure to lead us to "no God" and there is no decision procedure to lead us to "God", sinve in either case, we're merely "voting" with our own personal conclusions.

The general political solution is to see who can get the largest number of supporters, even including a "Christian" Constitution party, but that is no solution at all. It merely polarizes even more.

Since there can be no human authorities in either case, it would seem to me that the real lesson to learn here is how to love one another and forget such arguments, since theyt are not resolved by seeing who can score most points.

If there is a God, this seems like a pretty sharp way f doing things. Can we get along and discover a middle ground of justice and mercy, or do we argue for eternity and pass it on to the next generation?

It's not about what exists outside of this life, since if it was, we would obviously have some knowledge of something that existed outside of this life, but we don't.

Therefore, the decisions we reach must be in regard to this life, here and now, and that's the hardest thing to do.

Corky said...

I don't believe that any branch, sect, denomination or whatever of Christendom can define Christianity.

This was attempted by Constantine and we ended up with the Roman Catholic Church as a direct result.

Was this good? I don't think so. There was a dozen other views that got ignored and persecuted and started a war that has not ended to this day.

Was this what Jesus intended? Was this what Paul taught? Seems to me that the only ones who remember the "royal law" are the atheists and the humanists.

Ex-Android said...

Well, Bob, I sense a desire here from you to be open and sensible. I'll try to respond in kind, begging the indulgence of Ralph.

Your first paragraph makes a claim to belief and faith. That is the very reason we are on different sides of the god/nogod question. I entered the WCG with those necessary qualities. I am now an atheist because I abandoned them in my search for and appreciation of rational thinking.

I don't know about why you entered
Armstrongism nor very much about your exit and recovery. You've mentioned your time of non-belief. I would like to know more of how you got there. What was the rationale that led you to non-belief? Then what led you to abandon the argument?

" seems that I was constantly and actively trying to prove to myself that God did not exist..."

That is a fruitless and impossible task. That is why many theists will constantly challenge the atheist to prove there are no gods. It simply cannot be done. (Just what would the searcher have to find to prove that the gods that do not exist are non-existent?)

Unfortunately there are some freethinkers that fall into that trap. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods. The atheist has nothing to prove. That burden falls to the theist and even our guest editor admits that cannot be done.

I can simply say after eighteen years of freedom that my reasons for entering Armstrongism had no rational basis. It was purely subjective. I was ignorant, naive and gullible. My enlightened reasons for exiting were logical and rational. In my years of recovery I read and studied much to strengthen my decision to remain free from religion.

When I thought about it I had to admit that I was born an atheist.
The Armstrong experience allowed some other things into my mind that led me to throw away 25 years of my life. The reasons were invalid. (Somewhere on this site is a copy of my story that appeared on the AW site years ago.)

You said you hoped that, "the belief that we Christians have can inspire our atheist friends,"

That isn't going to happen, at least in my case. Been there, done that. I'm a whole lot happier walking around and breathing the sweet air of the world of freethought.

Ralph said...

Folks, there's some good dialogue.

Corky is correct. No branch of hristianity can define truth, and that's exactly what i've been saying. I have also pointed out that it is now established mathematically that we have no way of defining all truth, and if no truth, then certainly no God.

And logicaly Ex-Android is correct. The weight of proof for God lies on the shouklders of the believer.

The fact that there exists no proof means that there can be no aothorities. But this establishes exactly what I've been saying. If any decision procedure to get from "here' to "God" does exist, it must exist only from within the knowledge of that God, whoever/whatever he/she/it/they happen(s) to be.

We are left with only one possibly correct choice in either case, and that is to follow no human concepts of God, to be free, since your choice in either case, either to believe or not believe, will not alter the facts of existence in either case. That is fuly consistent with paul's writing in Ephesians 2:8-10.

The principle of law is one of NON-CONDEMNATION of others. Romans 2:1-2 tells us that we cannot judge because we ourselves are subject to the same flaws.

Whatever our beliefs, we are all human, the same general species, the same human race.

God or no God, the principle of law must be based on the presumpton of innocence until proven guilty. Not for what we believe, but for what we do to others.

That's about as free as we can get.

Byker Bob said...


Basically, life's little Poker game dealt me the WCG card via my parents. At the time, I don't believe any in our immediate family had any real depth in knowledge of the Bible, or for that matter philosophy. So, following a family tragedy, we were open fodder for a certain ravenous wolf in sheep's clothing.

Let's just say that WCG never delivered. But, their basic modus operandi involved systematically destroying each member's faith, or trust, in anything other than WCG. Where does one go after that?

I left for several reasons. Our entire lives were based on the premise that Jesus was going to return in 1975. When He did not, I had one of those "Well, Duh!" moments. I realized that HWA and the WCG did not have the witness of God behind them. At that time, John Trechak was one of my personal friends and co-workers, and he shared with me some of Dr. Ernest Martin's research, which certainly cast considerable doubts upon, if not outright disproving, most of HWA's doctrinal approach. John became somewhat of a disciple of Dr. Martin's, but I was so disillusioned with religion that there was no way I could get behind all of that.

When I left, I was looking for answers. Because of the level of trust I'd had in WCG as "God's True Church", I became very disillusioned with the whole God thing. They had done a very negative PR thing on all of the other churches for us, so I skipped the opportunities to investigate them any further.

Agnosticism, then atheism, then agnosticism became my sequential inclinations. And, that worked for me for several decades, but then wore pretty thin. In the final analysis, it was neither healing, nor philosophically satisfying. But, it did provide an excellent buffer, allowing me to once again switch my mind into neutral, and ultimately made me realize what a world without God is. Many Christian groups no longer preach hellfire. They preach eternal separation from God.
Thirty years provided enough of an example of what separation from God brings to one's life that even hard headed rebel Bob finally got the point.

I still abhor "religion". But, I've learned that there is a much better alternative. We call it a personal relationship with God, or an adventure with Heavenly Father.
And, it's very difficult for most people to grasp, as they'd like to put you into a nice, neat, little box. Since I've begun writing about this, you'd be amazed at the number of people who wrongly refer to me as an "Evangelical", or have wondered whether I had converted to Catholicism. Neither is true. What I have is strictly one on one, and believe me, that elliminates a whole series of problems!