Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One man's salvation is another man's damnation

There are a bunch of things I have been thinking about lately, and one of them has been the concept of agency and moral objectivism. And my conclusion is this: if God exists, I don't think even he believes in moral objectivism, and he certainly does not believe in agency.

Let's step back for a moment, and argue within the realm of theology, and then afterwards we can go without it.

When I say, one man's salvation is another man's damnation, I mean that what God commands one man to do would not be acceptable for another man to do. For instance, God commanded murder, and yet there is a commandment specifically states not to kill (David and Goliath, the genocide of an entire group of people in the Bible, Nephi and Laban). God condoned certain persons to lie, (Esther about her identity, Mary and Joseph about her pregnancy) and yet many Christian religions maintain that God viewing lying as a sin. Eating pork during the law of Moses was a sin, while drinking wine was not. Today it is the opposite.

One thing that always bothered me about "commandments from God", is that they seemed to constantly be changing. And a lot of them reflect social trends. Having grown up with the view of moral objectivism (that things are moral or immoral regardless of people practicing them, and they exist eternally, independent of God), it was very confusing to me why one person would be commanded to kill, and another person would be condemned to hell for it.

Then I realized something. There is no such thing as a moral absolute. It is never absolutely wrong to kill, and it is never absolutely morally right to turn the other cheek. Which is why God commanded wars while at the same time commanding charity and love. There is no such thing as black and white. There is only gray. And anyone who thinks differently, is not seeing reality for what it is. And if God exists, he understands that. Simply put, arguing from a theological perspective, a person's entrance into eternal bliss is dependent upon one thing: obedience. Not objective morality. But obedience to God's ever changing whims. So, going from an LDS perspective, the test was to come to earth to see if we would obey God in whatever he commanded us to do. From large orders to entire groups of people, down to the little man commanded to slay an unarmed drunken aristocrat in the street.

Now the real question, how on earth does this make sense? Shouldn't the pathway to salvation remain the same regardless of the individual, regardless of the century, regardless of social media, scientific breakthroughs, genetic studies, and anthropological publications? If God is an all knowing, omniscient, perfect being, then why are his commandments and methods and tolerances in a constant state of flux? Saying that salvation is a personal thing is unfair, and unjust. One person needs to die from ebola, while one person needs to live in a rich mansion and give away millions of dollars to charity to maintain a decent image in the public eye. How is it fair to give them a similar reward if they didn't come to it under similar circumstances?

Basically, theological salvation hinges upon obedience to an unseen being's subjectivity.

The next problem is agency. I know not every religion believes in agency, or free will the same way the LDS church does, but that is the viewpoint I will speak from, because it the one I am familiar with. It is taught that each man is given the ability to choose right from wrong. Though now we can see how right and wrong are a little skewed and really, there is nothing objective about what is right and what is wrong. (Christmas example: A child out of wedlock with an individual that is not the husband in an era where it was perfectly okay to stone [murder] a woman for such actions by religious law. [Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery or fornicate]). But back to the concept of agency as it is understood, is actually a complete paradox. Most religions believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God. Roughly translated, it means God knows everything, past present and future. If this is the case, God always knew and always knows what we are going to do, even when we do not. And yet, creates commandments, rules, and restrictions for us to adhere to, knowing perfectly well when we will and when we won't. We are then punished eternally for not adhering to the subjective commandments of a being who already knew we wouldn't obey in the first place. Thus, the concept of agency exists only in the mind of the individual experiencing it, and therefore cannot be an eternal truth. How can we say we can always choose when what we will choose is already known by the one condemning or saving? Seems a little rigged. Like the whole system was created for the eternal one-per-centers to stay on top.

And if we are going to talk about what is moral, how can we in good conscience accept a an eternal being who treats different groups of people differently? Who has favorite races? Who condones the continued unfair and chauvinistic treatment of women? Who commands love for all, but condemns love when it exists outside of what is Biblically acceptable in terms of family? And who, above all, allows imperfect men to make all the decisions in his kingdom on earth? Where individuals are looked at differently for having tattoos or multiple piercings, but not for abusing prescription narcotics because it comes from a doctor. Where an abusive husband is valued more than a gay couple. Where the only life that is sacred is a week old fetus and not an enemy civilian murdered in the horrors of war, or the countless animals that are killed and used at man's leisure.

So tell me then, how can objective morality possibly exist? And how can we ever believe we are free to choose anything? I'm not saying life is a free-for-all and "I was going to kill him anyways".....but I'm saying eternal damnation and salvation can't happen the way religion teaches it based on the facts that agency can't exist with an omniscient God and everything of that nature is subjective. The only things that aren't subjective? Math.....and yeah, math.  2+2 always = 4

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