I was going to write a post to engage Kirk (which I end up doing anyway), but then reading through the posts on this topic I saw that Brennen had already written it (post 29). I add only that once we say that certain of the usual understandings do not apply to God, then there’s no longer a point to the endeavor. The entire theology becomes pointless as a means to understand literal and historical truths; its only purpose is that it may help someone feel better.
The cost of doing things that way is the integrity of the thought process, not only for the person engaging in the theology, but also to those to whom it is passed on, especially the children who are taught these theologies and these methods of thinking about things. This is profoundly damaging to the world, including human relationships. At the outset, Kirk did an excellent job bringing a point of view here that most members do not accept, but for me in some ways, that just makes the disconnect all the more maddening.
Bottom line: I don’t think we can divorce ourselves from the content of the world, or what Brennen has called the quotidian details of reality, and still maintain our integrity.
To take it from another angle, Kirk, the Christian/Catholic narrative (I grew up Catholic) is wholly unsatisfying to me, not just on emotional grounds, but also for objective and intersubjective reasons. Never mind that one does not imagine any particular group or person in hell; the very concept of a loving god engaging in a system of eternal torment is utterly repulsive. That alone imposes on me a moral, ethical and spiritual command to reject the theology. In the resurrection narrative, it is absurd to me that God would send his divine Son to save us, on condition that we believe, and then neglect to tell most of the world about it. One cannot say, as some apologists do, that a personal revelation would remove free will because biblically Jesus appears to Thomas and 500 others, apparently leaving their free will intact.
Then I read your post 32 and see the conflict between you and members of this group starting to bubble to the surface. If you’re think you’re “sheesh”-ing, just imagine what we’re thinking. I could accept what you’re saying if you weren’t taking any of it literally, but once you take any of it literally, it all collapses. (For example, the answer you give in post 34 is wholly unsatisfying. The mother is not omniscient, but to answer your question, if she was, and she knew her child would murder dozen people, she would be obligated to prevent it, even if it required strangling the little nipper, as you put it. Defense of the apologetic requires an alteration of at least one essential fact.)
Then I read your post 33, Kirk, and see you telling Kyu that he “ought to be troubled” by the question “did the first human beings live in some pre-fallen state.” Without reading any response to that statement, I can say that if Kyu is anything like me, he is not troubled by that question because he accepts the fact that we humans beings evolved from other species, became the kind of species we are largely because of sexual reproduction but also because of a collection of factors that led to the development of the most advanced brains in the animal kingdom. Our morality, ethics and spirituality is one large mixed bag, and we can’t answer the question by thinking about a “pre-fallen state.” That’s like trying to understand modern science by asking about essences.
The question posed by the fall of man story, taken literally, is not relevant for me. The story is a beautiful metaphor for our coming into being. The relevant question about the literal reality of our existence is: here we are, with all our evolutionary past, how are we going to lives our lives and bring meaning and purpose to them? When you say that Kyu “ought to be troubled” by the question in the same way that you are, you begin to lose me in a very important way. Shall I say that you ought to be troubled about that?
It’s at this point that the discussion falls apart, so I’m going to post this as though I’ve read through question 44, and then read what happens later. I won’t be surprised to see the discussion degenerate further, but maybe you and the group will have found a way to keep that from happening. I concur with Brennen, retrospy and others that you’re picking and choosing in a way that leaves no room for a truly meaningful dialogue.
So I’m put in the very difficult position of having no question to ask you, Kirk, except a dismissive one: don’t you see where this puts you? That’s not a satisfying place for me to be in with anyone, let alone someone of your obvious kindness and intelligence. Is there a way out, except for us to “agree to disagree” and essentially not talk to each other about it?