1. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 07:351 edit
    Much is sometimes made on here of human fallibility—moral and otherwise. Standards are set that humans seemingly cannot meet. Perfection is taken as a divine norm to which humans are held, though they cannot meet it. Nothing short of errorless perfection is considered acceptable.

    Divine standards, it is sometimes asserted, are necessary even for us to know what is good, beautiful and true. Not just sometimes, but all of the time.

    Every human error, to some, is laid down to “sinfulness”—to inherent moral failure or rebellion.

    No person, on their own, can ever be “good enough” to satisfy a perfect God, who is apparently perfectly intolerant of error.

    Etc., etc.

    Even outside of divine fiat, some philosophical approaches seem to counsel people to adhere to a strict set of principles or rules to guide their behavior—regardless of someone’s personal view of a given set of circumstances. With or without divine fiat, “morality by rule” seems to often be asserted as the only safe course. No muddling through as best one can!

    Are such standards of perfection valid? If one admittedly has made errors on one’s own recognizance, is that necessarily a sign that one needs external rules, laws, commands laid down in order to act, by and large, better? (And what of those who lay down the rules?)

    A standard of perfection might be useful as a self-set goal—even if one can never actually meet it. Ought it to be accepted as a standard of moral judgment? Ought anything less than moral perfection be reason for guilt or shame? Ought moral error be taken as a sign that one cannot be trusted to make a majority of moral decisions according to one’s own consideration of matters?

    Should one not simply accept one’s errors, learn from them as best one can, and move on?

    Personally, in retrospect, most of my own moral errors seem to have occurred when I was attempting to adhere to some given standard—rather than just assessing the situation and acting in the way that seemed the most natural response. Thus I no longer place my trust in any given moral theory or “template”. I seem to do best when I simply do the best I can under particular circumstances. I no longer ask more of myself—or less. I take responsibility—and move on.

    I am responsible for what I think, feel and do. Not God, not my parents, not society, not the gaps in some philosophy that I have chosen to commit to.

    Why should this not be “good enough”?
  2. Standard memberKellyJay
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    27 Aug '07 08:00
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Much is sometimes made on here of human fallibility—moral and otherwise. Standards are set that humans seemingly cannot meet. Perfection is taken as a divine norm to which humans are held, though they cannot meet it. Nothing short of errorless perfection is considered acceptable.

    Divine standards, it is sometimes asserted, are necessary even for ...[text shortened]... s in some philosophy that I have chosen to commit to.

    Why should this not be “good enough”?
    Why do you assume it is just divine standards we should be worrying
    about? I’m a firm believer that we are going to be judging ourselves
    by our own knowledge and understanding. We were warned that we
    shouldn’t judge, because with whatever judgment we bring, it will be
    used on us too. I believe it isn’t that we ‘cannot live righteously’, we
    can and we do not, we don’t because we want what we want and we will
    justify our actions to suit ourselves. This seems like it is good and
    acceptable until we run into someone else doing what we are doing
    and we condemn them for those things we allow in ourselves.

    I don’t call sin human error, to me error means a mistake that one
    wouldn’t have made had they had all the facts, but more times than
    not, we have enough to know better yet we move on as if getting our
    way is all that matters. Coming clean before God is admitting our
    sins, removing all excuses and acknowledging our guilt completely,
    and there we are met with grace through Jesus Christ who has made
    away for us to be saved. It isn’t a standard that we come to God with,
    it is a relationship with God, not in a righteousness we create by
    doing ‘good’ but relying on the grace and mercy given to us while we
    yet sinners.
    Kelly
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 08:21
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Why do you assume it is just divine standards we should be worrying
    about? I’m a firm believer that we are going to be judging ourselves
    by our own knowledge and understanding. We were warned that we
    shouldn’t judge, because with whatever judgment we bring, it will be
    used on us too. I believe it isn’t that we ‘cannot live righteously’, we
    can and we d ...[text shortened]... te by
    doing ‘good’ but relying on the grace and mercy given to us while we
    yet sinners.
    Kelly
    That’s an interesting perspective. But you know that it does not fit with a lot of the moral arguments on here.

    My first reaction was to put the emphasis on divine in your first sentence (and I also included in my post other philosophical standards); I think, on second thought, you intend the emphasis to be on the word standards.

    The question is, in part, for one to be “righteous” (to use your word), must one be perfect?

    Technically, both the Hebrew and Greek words translated as “sin” do mean error or failure—whether intentional (e.g., due to rebelliousness) or otherwise. Nevertheless, I am not concerned with the meaning of that word, per se.

    Some people will sometimes say: “This is right (or wrong) because the Bible says it is so.” Or some such. Now, I do not necessarily see it that way. And yet, as I say, most of what I now consider to be my moral errors came as a result of trying to behave according to some external standard, instead of my own “instincts” in the particular case.

    Lest you think I am just trying to justify myself, I took that as something of a bitter pilll to swallow. The standards that I tried to adhere to (and mostly they were what I judged to be Christian ones, though that in itself is not what I am addressing here) led to results that were not only painful for me, but detrimental to others.

    I see it now as easier to say, “I follow the Bible” or “I adhere to Kantian deontology” or—some other moral theory—than just to grapple with whatever is before me. It seems to me easier, though not more efficacious, to follow some given “template” for behavior. So I really do not have a theory of moral—or other—behavior anymore. I simply do the best I can given whatever circumstances present themselves.
  4. Cape Town
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    27 Aug '07 08:36
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I believe it isn’t that we ‘cannot live righteously’, we
    can and we do not, ....
    But your blanket statement that 'we do not' clearly implies that we cannot. If you had said 'some of us do not' then it would be different.
  5. Cape Town
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    27 Aug '07 08:38
    In my experience people who set a rule or moral code for themselves are more likely to follow it than people who are following someone else's rule or moral code. It is easier to tell yourself that you are 'getting away with it' when the rule setter is someone other than yourself even when you believe that rule setter to be God.
    If I am to break one of my own moral rules I must actually change the rule, whereas if it is someone else's rule I simply break it.
  6. Standard memberKellyJay
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    27 Aug '07 08:39
    Originally posted by vistesd
    That’s an interesting perspective. But you know that it does not fit with a lot of the moral arguments on here.

    My first reaction was to put the emphasis on divine in your first sentence (and I also included in my post other philosophical standards); I think, on second thought, you intend the emphasis to be on the word standards.

    The qu ...[text shortened]... r—behavior anymore. I simply do the best I can given whatever circumstances present themselves.
    Standards no matter where you get them are simply that, standards
    are they not? You can claim Christian roots to your standards, or some
    other foundation, but in the end it is all the same, it is you doing
    something that gets you in, because you were doing good by X
    whatever X is or was. If you fail to live up to X does it matter if X was
    from the Bible or not? What I am talking about is getting rid of that X
    and going to the source of life! Why wait, life is here in the here and
    now, the truth is in the here and now, it is striving to enter into the
    rest where we set aside our struggles. I only desire to stand before
    God in Jesus' grace and mercy which is given due to Him not me, He
    is faithful, much more than I am. I need a sure foundation, without
    one I'll sink.
    Kelly
  7. Standard memberKellyJay
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    27 Aug '07 08:44
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    But your blanket statement that 'we do not' clearly implies that we cannot. If you had said 'some of us do not' then it would be different.
    It again is not that we cannot do right, I can tell the truth at all times,
    but if the pressue is on will I always? I can do right by others, but if
    I get angry will I, always? The choices we make are made by us, that
    is it, and we will do what we will. We cannot be condemned for not
    being able to fly by flapping our arms, but we can for hurting someone
    who we didn't have to hurt, but we did, because X, whatever X was.

    What is a righteous judgment, is it to judge one for things that they
    cannot help like skin color, or is it for things that they can and do
    have a say in, like their actions.
    Kelly
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 08:55
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Standards no matter where you get them are simply that, standards
    are they not? You can claim Christian roots to your standards, or some
    other foundation, but in the end it is all the same, it is you doing
    something that gets you in, because you were doing good by X
    whatever X is or was. If you fail to live up to X does it matter if X was
    from the Bibl ...[text shortened]... He
    is faithful, much more than I am. I need a sure foundation, without
    one I'll sink.
    Kelly
    Standards no matter where you get them are simply that, standards
    are they not? You can claim Christian roots to your standards, or some
    other foundation, but in the end it is all the same, it is you doing
    something that gets you in, because you were doing good by X
    whatever X is or was. If you fail to live up to X does it matter if X was
    from the Bible or not? What I am talking about is getting rid of that X
    and going to the source of life!


    This I agree with. We undoubtedly disagree about “the source of life”, however. 🙂
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 09:02
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    In my experience people who set a rule or moral code for themselves are more likely to follow it than people who are following someone else's rule or moral code. It is easier to tell yourself that you are 'getting away with it' when the rule setter is someone other than yourself even when you believe that rule setter to be God.
    If I am to break one of my ...[text shortened]... les I must actually change the rule, whereas if it is someone else's rule I simply break it.
    But what if I just don’t pre-set rules? What if I just choose to trust my “instincts”? (I don’t really like that word.)

    Of course, one could say that that is a “rule” or “standard”.

    I could say something like: “Never cause unnecessary harm.” (Forget about what “necessary” means for the moment.) But if that is my predilection anyway, why set it as a standard? The fact is, that seems to be my predilection. In that, and similar cases, why shouldn’t I just trust myself?

    Again, I might make errors—but I seem to have made more errors by not simply trusting my own tendencies.

    And if I choose a standard or set of rules that happens to have been articulated by someone else, haven’t i adopted it as my own?
  10. Cape Town
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    27 Aug '07 09:13
    Originally posted by vistesd
    But what if I just don’t pre-set rules? What if I just choose to trust my “instincts”? (I don’t really like that word.)
    I think that at some point in our lives we all make a decision as to how moral we will be. We all have an idea of what it means to do 'the right thing' (even though that differs from person to person) yet we sometimes choose to allow ourselves a certain amount of transgression. We give ourselves excuses - the most popular one is probably the 'nobody is perfect' excuse - but I believe that we all, at some point give up on trying to be perfect. However, we do set ourselves standards and even if you choose to trust your 'instincts' you will be trying to live up to a standard that you have set for yourself.
    You could say 'do nothing that harms others'. But what about inaction? Must you always strive to help others? At some point we tell ourselves we will go so far and no further.
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    27 Aug '07 09:19
    Interestingly enough, the Bible says that faith equals righteousness. The question then becomes, faith in what? It is nothing less than faith in the words of God himself. So what are the words of God? For the person of faith, it is the holy scriptures or God speaking directly to us as he did Abraham.

    For me, this is understandible because God's will is perfect and when I align my will with his I too share in his perfection. Anything less falls short.
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 09:37
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think that at some point in our lives we all make a decision as to how moral we will be. We all have an idea of what it means to do 'the right thing' (even though that differs from person to person) yet we sometimes choose to allow ourselves a certain amount of transgression. We give ourselves excuses - the most popular one is probably the 'nobody is pe ...[text shortened]... strive to help others? At some point we tell ourselves we will go so far and no further.
    Yes. I think we are in agreement.

    At some point one has to be able to feel comfortable with oneself. As long as one is hooked into always (at every moment!) striving to find one’s moral obligation (no rest for the righteous!), and fulfill it perfectly, I doubt if one can ever feel comfortable with either what one has done, or what one has left undone. I used to feel perpetual guilt at my failures, and perpetual anxiety that I might not be striving hard enough, that I might miss an obligation that would present itself. That was part of the “moral matrix” of my upbringing.

    Occasionally I would rebel angrily. But that doesn’t really get you anywhere.

    If I have any moral standard, it is simply that I tend to recognize that the other is caught in the same existential matrix as myself. I suppose that leads to a morality of sympathy or empathy. That does not mean, however, that I will not protect myself or those that I care about, simply because of that sympathy or empathy.

    Again, simply “muddling through” seems to have served me—and those who are impacted by my actions—better than any formally articulated theory.

    LemonJello has talked about moral intuition, and I hope he will show here.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 09:47
    Originally posted by whodey
    Interestingly enough, the Bible says that faith equals righteousness. The question then becomes, faith in what? It is nothing less than faith in the words of God himself. So what are the words of God? For the person of faith, it is the holy scriptures or God speaking directly to us as he did Abraham.

    For me, this is understandible because God's will is ...[text shortened]... ct and when I align my will with his I too share in his perfection. Anything less falls short.
    Yes, but you still have to interpret those texts. And you are quite aware of the varying interpretations by different people of faith on here.

    Do you not, consciously or unconsciously, bring your own moral sensibilities to that task? For example, slavery as an institution is never specifically denounced in the Biblical texts. Does that mean that you can have no moral position against owning another human being?

    Lately, I am confused about what “faith” means, since different Christians seem to mean different things by that term. Epiphenehas, for instance, seems to ascribe some epistemic value to the term, which I do not understand at all (and he is no slouch at interpreting scripture). It seems to me that you are using the term more conventionally, to mean trust in the moral “template” laid down by the Bible. Hence my questions above...
  14. Illinois
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    27 Aug '07 20:12
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Much is sometimes made on here of human fallibility—moral and otherwise. Standards are set that humans seemingly cannot meet. Perfection is taken as a divine norm to which humans are held, though they cannot meet it. Nothing short of errorless perfection is considered acceptable.

    Divine standards, it is sometimes asserted, are necessary even for ...[text shortened]... s in some philosophy that I have chosen to commit to.

    Why should this not be “good enough”?
    Are such standards of perfection valid? If one admittedly has made errors on one’s own recognizance, is that necessarily a sign that one needs external rules, laws, commands laid down in order to act, by and large, better? (And what of those who lay down the rules?)

    God's law isn't meant to control behavior. God's law is meant to expose the 'exceeding sinfulness of sin'. God has given human beings free will, and therefore He must have no illusions of seeking to control human behavior. Furthermore, God's laws are in place regardless of whether or not a person is even aware of them, so in that respect they are clearly not meant to be a controlling influence.

    Perfection is unwavering obedience to God's will, exemplified in the life of Christ. Ungodly sinners, which all people are at one point or another, can and do choose to go their own way. It is true that everyone has done so - thus we are all found lacking in God's eyes. This is a foregone conclusion to the divine Mind. To Him we are helpless, though we may not see ourselves as such.

    Therefore, He has mercy on us. Errorless perfection is no longer required. We fulfill God's law perfectly through faith in Jesus Christ, Who fulfilled God's law for us. However, after a person is declared righteous through faith, that person is still no less obligated to God's law.

    The difference is, before that person is saved, he or she lives and dies according to the law of Moses (under its condemnation). While after a person is saved, he or she lives according to the law of the Spirit that is in Jesus Christ (free from condemnation). God always requires that we live according to His law, but we can either be free from its condemnation or not, depending on whether we choose to reject Christ or not.
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    27 Aug '07 23:13
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]Are such standards of perfection valid? If one admittedly has made errors on one’s own recognizance, is that necessarily a sign that one needs external rules, laws, commands laid down in order to act, by and large, better? (And what of those who lay down the rules?)

    God's law isn't meant to control behavior. God's law is meant to expose the 'e ...[text shortened]... from its condemnation or not, depending on whether we choose to reject Christ or not.[/b]
    God always requires that we live according to His law, but we can either be free from its condemnation or not, depending on whether we choose to reject Christ or not.

    This is the main problem I have here. We (at least since the so-called fall) now start out under condemnation, presumably from our birth. One who cannot honestly come up with the “right” answer regarding Jesus as the Christ remains condemned, regardless of any other considerations.

    This goes back to our old soteriological battle. (And I realize that your position has changed some since then—albeit not with regard to universal salvation versus the belief requirement.) The law of Moses is merely replaced by the law of right belief. I am not at all convinced that that is the more “grace-full” standard. There are still plenty of people who cannot fulfill the new law. (Surely, you do not think that everyone who is not a Christian—or a Christian of “right belief”—is simply ignorant, stupid or perverse! And what of those who, despite centuries of missionary activity, have and do remain ignorant?)

    In the end, even without double-predestination, God fails to save everyone whom (again, absent double-predestination) God desires to save. Satan’s victory—while Pyrrhic—is nevertheless a victory of sorts. For some souls, God’s own ultimate sacrifice (according to standard theology) is, in fact, impotent.

    This, of course, is not strictly on point with my opening post—where I was talking about externally-derived moral standards generally, whether religiously based or not.
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