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Originally posted by JR MacBeth
Free will is the foundation of society, so questioning it, is looking for big trouble.
So much so, that when Calvin questioned it (so-to-speak), with his new doctrine of predestination, he was identified as an "enemy", not merely by the Church, but by the secular authority as well.
Before Calvin, there were others, that met their fate, at the end of a sword, as society fought back, trying to extirpate anyone who dared to threaten the foundation.
Of course, it's the foundation because without it, there is no "law", and soon, no order. If the "criminal" was never culpable, how would you justify punishment? Things could devolve quickly, and history shows that it has done exactly that at times. The Albigensians are probably a good example.
Fast forward to our times, and as "common sense" as the historic treatment was concerning this subject, from a practical standpoint anyway, today we freely explore the idea once again.
Without commenting on what this might be doing to society, we do see some interesting "convergence" amongst modern thinkers, including theologians, who are attempting to face-up to the challenge, more or less posed by the OP.
A couple of examples. Within the sphere of "criminal justice", there is now wide acceptance of the fact that most "criminals" are primarily products of their environment. The baby born into the broken home, or in the projects, in poverty, is far more likely to grow up and find himself in prison, than another, who doesn't have these forces arrayed against them. If this is the thinking, then imprisonment is no longer primarily "punishment", but rather just damage control. Society can be protected, without even having to issue "judgement" in the old-fashioned sense. No one is "bad" anymore. Every crime committed makes sense, based on a host of factors.
Theologians who accept this line of thinking must now wrestle with the dilema of having something like "eternal punishment" sitting squarely in their religious traditions. What to do? Well, modern Protestant and Catholic liberal scholars have gone to the extreme of allowing for a "hell", but saying that it is "empty"!
So much absurdity, in every direction we look, when this issue comes up. And yet, the modern attempts to reconcile the old ideas might not be mere self-deception.
If we want to have a "good" god, that enjoys so much power, knowledge, etc., then it isn't unreasonable to wonder how beings could be made by such a god, that could ultimately end up in prison, or hell. In short, it would all seem very avoidable.
The "solution" is to imagine that it is all in fact avoided, at least in the ultimate and most important sense.
Sometimes called "universalists" (because they believe in universal salvation, no one goes to a hell), all the above reasoning comes into play, and theists get to have their cake and eat it too (they hope). The thinking goes like this: Of course God knows everything, and so, every person He creates, is made to have "true" free will, with the actual "risk" of decisions made, against Him. In fact, ALL people will make such decisions, but ultimately, they will make the most important, "final" decision, for God.
Because God exists outside of time, all is the eternal present, and He sees the Alpha, and the Omega, as "one". He "chooses" to create ONLY those individuals who He sees as making the "right" ultimate choice. No other people are made, even though He may have "seen" zillions of others, who would have gone to Hell. He chose not to create them.
Trying to imagine how this could all be woven together, is mind-boggling of course, but if you posit a God with the various characteristics mentioned, then His "goodness" is preserved, as well as actual "free will", through the above scenario.
Is such theology consonant with traditional scriptural interpretations? No, not really! But I just call 'em like I see 'em, since I'm not a religionist. If it means religionists just go away more confused, then try not to blame the messenger.
You can't avoid hell anymore then heaven. Both are a delusion, a by-product of time. There is no consequence in Reality. But plenty in non-reality. We use the very thing that separates us from Truth to try and become it. It is impossible. Reality ends time like it started it. It is eternity. In the case of Truth, we have no free will. What is free will if not to choose to be deluded. We are talking about free-will in total delusion. Either we choose delusion/illusion or we didn't.
Originally posted by rwfresh
reply to post by JR MacBeth
I'm not talking from a religious context. Heaven and Hell are as real as anything in this delusional world of non-Reality. If you think you are real then so is heaven and hell.
Let me say, i am deluded. If i wasn't i wouldn't be here, wherever this is or isn't.
If i have free-will, TRUE free-will that is not governed by any laws that are a by-product of Reality... Physical, mental, spiritual laws.. Which are all delusion... (That's what TRUE freedom is right?) Then i choose to be God/Truth/Reality/Eternity. I choose to wake up from this delusion, from time, from separatism, from ego, from right and wrong.
But i remain deluded. So either i have free will and choose delusion.. Or i don't have free will.
Or we are not talking about real free will.
"Why is there something, rather than nothing?"
I don't think God is separate from our experience, this world, our reality.. i think we are deluded into experiencing God as separate and God as part of this existence.
Originally posted by JR MacBeth
reply to post by rwfresh
Rwfresh, I can see this is a very important issue to you. You have invested a lot of thought.
Maybe I'm missing something, but is there a "contradiction" in asserting that we can never know the answer, while at the same time, we have already "chosen" a path?
Hi JR, Honestly, i haven't invested anything of value as far as i can tell. I don't expect to gain anything from it. I would be deluded to think that the "I" i am identifying with right now has anything to gain from, or add to Truth. And thank goodness for that. When i think of God, i think of eternity, infinite, completeness, oneness. Anything beyond that is drama. I am drama. I am in time, having a separate experience. My experience doesn't mean God is separate or fragmented or delusional. I am though. I am sure of that. If i wasn't delusional i would not be having this experience. With all the drama the delusion is tolerable and even enjoyable and can be totally ecstatic at times.
In my post retracing some of historical thinking on the matter, we get all the way back to that initial fork in the road. You chose to go East, from what I can tell.
Well maybe i go east. I don't feel like that. I am a westerner.. Canada, my family was essentially Christian. Jesus to me, is the clearest example of Truth being expressed in Time/non-reality. "He" is the parable i am part of. Based on the Gnostic gospels, Nag Hammadi and even much of the new testament, Jesus (as metaphor or however we understand it) pretty much has it all. I think he summed it up. But should we believe he was Truth? What about Buddha? Why all the drama? Has anything novel come into this reality since the beginning of time? It's fun to speculate i guess.. it's what we do. Engage in the drama. Truth could end the drama, Truth would end the delusion.. But here we are.. So in time it clearly hasn't. And how could the whole selectively end time for some individual separate pieces? It's not possible.
My point being, God is Truth. I am not. I love God and Truth. I long for Truth and Reality. But only God knows the time. And that is good to know.
Of course, the minute that becomes your primary assumption, everything else will be built upon it.
Don't stress it. EVERYTHING we know is based on assumptions. #1 assumption is that we are NOT deluded and have the ability (although apparently difficult) to experience Eternity and Truth while remaining separate, ego, human. I would like to freely assume i don't actually know anything about Reality/Truth/God. I am not God.
So, when you begin by assuming God is part of our experience, naturally you would have to believe that any "appearance" of separateness would constitute "delusion". And yet, upon closer examination, it is a tautology. Of course if God is "part", he could not be "separate", but the real question, IMO, is why was that other path rejected to begin with?
I would say that both the experience of separateness AND the experience of oneness are both delusion. They are dramatic assumptions (at best) of True separateness or oneness.
I'm not in any way arguing for the Western route, I'm not a religionist, but that other route would have led to different conclusions. Just for the sake of others joining us late, the Western view, or "answer" to the big original question of why there is something, rather than nothing, still kept God "apart" from his creation, often described traditionally as somewhat the way an artist has painted a work of art. The creation is the painting, and the artist remains "separate" in that very real sense. Of course, we could say he put a lot of himself into his work, that sort of thing, but that would not change the essential fact, that God was not "in" the painting in the Eastern sense.
Modern thought tries to knit the two together, but seems to fail. Alfred North Whitehead is an excellent example of a noble attempt at a merger, from a mathematician, but not everyone thinks he succeeded.
A more ancient attempt is found in Kabbalah. The "Tzim Tzum". I won't go on, just something for people to look into if they're curious.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's gratifying to me to see people out there who make serious attempts at these deep matters. So many are quite happy never giving anything too serious much thought at all. In my opinion, that's certainly no way to go through life!
Got to run again, but thanks for sharing your ideas. I don't mean to sound contradictory or anything negative. Thanks for sharing! Only the father knows the time!
Originally posted by SystemResistor
reply to post by JR MacBeth
Would I need "will" if I simply "was"?
Would I need a mind if I simply acted?
Would I need to have a "consciousness" if I could simply "see"?edit on 5-6-2011 by SystemResistor because: (no reason given)
...there is a true self that acts without the existence of "choice", that simply "is" and behaves as it is, does not "think" to "itself" as it has no "mind" and its awareness is the product of its direct sense of its surrounding environment.
the "observer" is an illusion and only appears when one looks inside the interior of their mind - they might find darkness, they might be aware of "nothing", however, their "self" is whatever they happen to be experiencing at a given moment, and it disappears as soon as they start to question it.