1. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 05:462 edits
    A question primarily for Christians (but how I pose it may well be challenged by others) If we all behaved like Jesus would the world really be a better place? I shall suppose there is no divine intervention on this matter and imagine for arguments sake it is a state of being we eventually achieve as a collective. I am interested in two points that seem problematic (and the parts that invoke God somehow don't interest me at the moment):

    Turning the other cheek
    Would the journey towards a system where we did not seek vengeance against those who hurt us or our family/peers be a stable one? Suppose we have a community of 10,000 people (and for simplicity will only support 10000), and of these 9000 will always restrain themselves from lashing out against people who do them wrong whilst the other 1000 won't. Furthermore suppose for now we still have nasty people in the community, who given the opportunity will act to please themselves be it committing rape, theft, or murder (say 100 of them are like this). Which set of people are better equipped to survive and prosper? The 9000 who offer no deterrent against the destruction of their lives, emotional & physical well-being, way of life, etc.. or the 1000 that do??? How do you actually get to such a system where all 10000 will always turn the other cheek? In addition, supposing this state was achieved how does one maintain it given that we are all humans with varying capacities for reason, and empathy for others??? (ie: unless we are all identical then there will be different thresholds for 'niceness' from person to person)

    The rich should give their possessions to the poor
    Note we're not talking about some people here, we're talking about all people. Since being rich only makes sense if others are poor then we're actually talking about a world where everyone is no worse off than others (since a rich person who gives all his/her money to the poor becomes poor himself and is thus elligible for the possessions of other rich people). Acknowledging this can be likened to communism, where is the drive to out-perform your fellow man (for the indirect benefit of others)? What motivations other than an equal share of the dividends (possibly small when divided up between everyone) and warm fuzzy feelings inside exist to counter the opportunity costs, time costs, effort costs, and resourse costs to enable technologies, resources, & luxuries that make living a happier experience (setting aside other costs such as the common human desire to have his/her skills & abilities rewarded and recognised). Should I suppose there is a cap on the total amount of happiness this world can support and the living like Jesus approach is the optimum way to reach it?? If there isn't such a cap then my previous question remains to be answered.
  2. Cape Town
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    15 Jul '10 06:26
    Originally posted by Agerg
    Turning the other cheek
    So for this one you are assuming that we do not all live like Jesus but only a large proportion of us. In that case, I agree with your analysis and it is backed up by game theory and the evidence from evolution.

    The rich should give their possessions to the poor
    Your analysis here ignores the possibility that your actions are driven by a desire to live like Jesus - which may be a strong motivation to work hard and utilize your talents. Unless of course we are really talking about living like Jesus in which case we should all wonder around in the desert with a few followers trying to do miracles.
  3. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 07:392 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    So for this one you are assuming that we do not all live like Jesus but only a large proportion of us. In that case, I agree with your analysis and it is backed up by game theory and the evidence from evolution.

    [b]The rich should give their possessions to the poor

    Your analysis here ignores the possibility that your actions are driven by a desire ...[text shortened]... which case we should all wonder around in the desert with a few followers trying to do miracles.[/b]
    Your analysis here ignores the possibility that your actions are driven by a desire to live like Jesus - which may be a strong motivation to work hard and utilize your talents.
    I am tending towards associating that one with the warm and fuzzies I already mentioned though it might be more significant than I give it credit for - I don't know. Suppose (only for illustrative purposes, ignoring real life practicallity issues) Jim has a flash of inspiration and figures it possible and beneficial for the world as a whole to build a large bridge or underwater tunnel connecting two different land masses or islands, and that this endeavour would be a greater feat than those prior. He has to first find some way to communicate his idea to others and make sure these people if onboard with him are competent for the task, so he'll be interviewing lots of people (some of whom for perhaps the job of interviewing) before he can even start; I'm not an engineer but there is a massive number of components such as problem analysis, design, prototype building & testing, logistics & resource gathering, manufacturing, management, construction, feeding, shelter, and so on...This obviously drafts in a lot of people, and they all need to place a high value on living like Jesus as Jim does, otherwise they might not be motivated enough to perform as required (especially those doing the dangerous jobs). Even if the interview process revealed they did have such motivation (and suppose in this utopian world people never lie), perhaps the extent to which they each individually evaluated the virtue of living like Jesus was in some cases short-sighted. To put it simply I think it's a pretty big ask that the living like Jesus motivation be so prolific and so profound.

    I might be wrong though, I don't know.
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    15 Jul '10 08:24
    Originally posted by Agerg
    To put it simply I think it's a pretty big ask that the living like Jesus motivation be so prolific and so profound.
    Then your real argument is that we wont all live like Jesus, not whether or not doing so would result in a better world.

    I must point out that money or self benefit is very often not the key motivator for work. I know plenty of people who work voluntarily for no monetary reward. This isn't universal, but it is I think a bigger factor than you make out.
    I think communism generally fails because the people involved do not believe in the ideals being worked for and because of people misusing the system. But having said that, communism does not always fail. And communist countries and societies often do have their share of very hard workers who genuinely believe in the ideals and work for the collective good.
  5. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 08:405 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Then your real argument is that we wont all live like Jesus, [b]not whether or not doing so would result in a better world.

    I must point out that money or self benefit is very often not the key motivator for work. I know plenty of people who work voluntarily for no monetary reward. This isn't universal, but it is I think a bigger factor than you ma ...[text shortened]... hare of very hard workers who genuinely believe in the ideals and work for the collective good.[/b]
    Then your real argument is that we wont all live like Jesus, not whether or not doing so would result in a better world.
    I disagree with this; I don't see why us all living like Jesus (ie: we all follow his teachings - this seems to be the colloqial usage of this phrase unless I'm mistaken) necessarily implies that we all (or any of us even) value the act of doing so higher than any feasible cost or costs. From this I disagree that I am not arguing that it would be a better world if we followed his teachings.

    As for voluntary work I completely agree with you that there is an intrinsic value to working for no voluntary reward; we disagree on the magnitude (and generality) of this value.

    In the same way I agree with your points about communism but would simply reiterate your point that for all the hard and good working people who genuinely believe in the ideals there are others which betray the ideals if through nothing more than the weight of merit they attach to them.
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    15 Jul '10 09:30
    Originally posted by Agerg
    I disagree with this; I don't see why us all living like Jesus necessarily implies that we all (or any of us even) value the act of doing so higher than any feasible cost or costs. From this I disagree that I am not arguing that it would be a better world if we followed his teachings.
    But you do seem to always end up with the conclusion that some people would not live like Jesus (follow his teachings).
  7. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 09:362 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    But you do seem to always end up with the conclusion that some people would [b]not live like Jesus (follow his teachings).[/b]
    I haven't made that conclusion. You could have a system where we were all coerced (a universal fear of hell?) into turning the other cheek, giving away our possessions to the poor, doing unto others as you'd have done to yourself, etc... without having any appreciable conviction it was as virtuous as you make out but in essense we'd still be following his teachings. (not that I'm arguing there need be coercion btw)
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    15 Jul '10 09:49
    Originally posted by Agerg
    A question primarily for Christians (but how I pose it may well be challenged by others) If we all behaved like Jesus would the world really be a better place? I shall suppose there is no divine intervention on this matter and imagine for arguments sake it is a state of being we eventually achieve as a collective. I am interested in two points that seem proble ...[text shortened]... o reach it?? If there isn't such a cap then my previous question remains to be answered.
    Turning the other cheek
    well your question was what if all turned the other cheek. that would be easy: all are kind and nobody is hitting anyone. however in the more logical case where more and more follow this rule and only a few rebels remain, the answer is more complex.

    jesus adviced this when most where asholes. rather than answer violence with violence and therefore perpetuate it, he adviced on pacifism. the thing was that more and more will find the path of violence more appealing and start following it. however this rule doesn't mean you should just stand by and allow injustice to happen. jesus did violently (as much violence jesus was capable of) evict the merchants from the temple. jesus did stopped the mob from stoning the adulteress (supposed). he managed it to do it with minimum violence. i don't believe however that he meant that if you see someone violent torture a child in front of you that you should do something.


    The rich should give their possessions to the poor
    this system is slightly different than communism. in ideal communism you are not allowed to become richer than the others. in jesus's system nobody is stoping you from becoming rich. and nobody is ordering you to give your possesions away.
    jesus didn't want the rich to give away their possesions and become poor themselves. he said that if you had 2 shirts, give 1 to someone who has none.

    the idea was that one shouldn't lavish in richess while someone else suffers. you can become rich. what you do with those riches is what matters. should bill gates have given microsoft to the poor, effectualy disbanding it and causing perhaps thousands of people to lose their jobs? stopping windows 7 and who knows what other stuff from appearing? (well maybe microsoft is not the best example of a beneficial force in the world but no matter how much we berate microsoft for having no soul, the thing is windows OS did change the world for the better and it would have sucked if it hadn't)

    in conclusion, everything that jesus said should not be taken literally but for the idea behind it. in the "give all you own to the poor" he meant that you shouldn't make the acquisition of wealth the driving force behind your life. that if you own a billion dollars, it is ok to invest 900 millions to create a company that improves a lot of lives, that gives a lot of lives. but since you are left with 100 millions, you should give 99 of them to the poor. that yous shouldn't buy a solid gold car and a 20 bedroom mansion when your family is only 3 members. that if you have an income of 1 million dollars per year from that 900million company, you should donate 500 thousand dollars to charity.
    that you shouldn't pile up money just to see how big a pile you can make while people are starving near you.
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    15 Jul '10 10:09
    Originally posted by Agerg
    I haven't made that conclusion.
    Which of your arguments did not? I must have missed it.
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    15 Jul '10 10:17
    Originally posted by Agerg
    I haven't made that conclusion. You could have a system where we were all coerced (a universal fear of hell?) into turning the other cheek, giving away our possessions to the poor, doing unto others as you'd have done to yourself, etc... without having any appreciable conviction it was as virtuous as you make out but in essense we'd still be following his teachings. (not that I'm arguing there need be coercion btw)
    you kinda did, and it is ok. most likely, there will never be a human society where everyone conforms to a certain standard. there will always be rebels. because we're human
  11. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 10:212 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Which of your arguments did not? I must have missed it.
    My arguments have been about the motivations for working to ones best given that one is giving all their possessions to the poor - I'm not concluding that some people would not live like Jesus in the sense that they follow his teachings.

    You seem to be inserting "have the same ideals and strength of conviction" as Jesus did into the statement living like Jesus, which as I edited in above, is as I understand it, used colloqially to mean following his teachings.
  12. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 10:402 edits
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    Turning the other cheek
    well your question was what if all turned the other cheek. that would be easy: all are kind and nobody is hitting anyone. however in the more logical case where more and more follow this rule and only a few rebels remain, the answer is more complex.

    jesus adviced this when most where asholes. rather than answer violence with vio up money just to see how big a pile you can make while people are starving near you.
    Yes I should have placed more emphasis on the journey but I'm stuck with the OP now though the second problem (taken literally) does apply to a world where we have actually reached that state.

    If we are to take the more liberal interpretation that you have outlined then that's fair enough; I see no way to challenge you on this. My OP was a rather extreme interpretation however for the benefit of those who espouse it. Not all Christians are so pragmatic as yourself when it comes to these topics.

    I would ask the question (rhetorical if you like) as to what the 'complex answer' is for attaining the harmonious world in the first problem given the existence of rebels.
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    15 Jul '10 10:52
    Originally posted by Agerg
    My arguments have been about the motivations for working to ones best given that one is giving all their possessions to the poor - I'm not concluding that some people would not live like Jesus in the sense that they follow his teachings.

    You seem to be inserting "have the same ideals and strength of conviction" as Jesus did into the statement living like J ...[text shortened]... s I edited in above, is as I understand it, used colloqially to mean following his teachings.
    Maybe its because I feel you are taking each of his teachings in isolation and saying that it wont work. You have to remember the parable of the talents, ie he taught that if you have talents, you should use them. So living like Jesus taught would include hard work.
    I also think that he did teach that you should have ideals and strength of conviction. I do not think that being forced to live like Jesus really counts.
    I have always believed that a Christian who gives to the poor because he is scared of punishment if he doesn't is missing the point entirely.
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    15 Jul '10 11:00
    Originally posted by Agerg
    Yes I should have placed more emphasis on the journey but I'm stuck with the OP now though the second problem (taken literally) does apply to a world where we have actually reached that state.

    If we are to take the more liberal interpretation that you have outlined then that's fair enough; I see no way to challenge you on this. My OP was a rather extreme in ...[text shortened]... r' is for attaining the harmonious world in the first problem given the existence of rebels.
    it basically boils down to what would you do if you see injustice?

    would you take a big conan greatsword and slice the evildoer in two? or would you try and talk to him, try and sway him towards righteousness?

    jesus advices against violence. when someone resorts to violence that should be the absolute last resort. it was obvious that hitler would not be stopped but through violence. i doubt jesus would have wanted to allies to just sit by and see europe put to death.
  15. Standard memberAgerg
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    15 Jul '10 11:484 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Maybe its because I feel you are taking each of his teachings in isolation and saying that it wont work. You have to remember the parable of the talents, ie he taught that if you have talents, you should use them. So living like Jesus taught would include hard work.
    I also think that he did teach that you should have ideals and strength of conviction. I ...[text shortened]... ves to the poor because he is scared of punishment if he doesn't is missing the point entirely.
    Maybe its because I feel you are taking each of his teachings in isolation and saying that it wont work. You have to remember the parable of the talents, ie he taught that if you have talents, you should use them. So living like Jesus taught would include hard work.
    ok, ground given there...but working with a literal framework we're considering a somewhat extreme situation and you're imposing a condition that applies to all people with complete generality; it's the latter I take issue with. There may well be endeavours in which the payoff for mankind as a whole exceeds the expense paid, necessarily, by one individual; but that one individual, being human, might still evaluate the costs as too high (even when lending higher weight to the desire that he lives like Jesus).

    I also think that he did teach that you should have ideals and strength of conviction. I do not think that being forced to live like Jesus really counts.
    I have always believed that a Christian who gives to the poor because he is scared of punishment if he doesn't is missing the point entirely.

    But did he teach the special case that strength of conviction should always, without exception, dwarf any hesitation?
    On your final point I agree, it does offend me slightly when some Christians question my morality purely by virtue of my failure to believe in God when they themselves suggest they act as they do only out of fear or expectation of eternal paradise.
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