The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Physics Guy
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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honorentheos wrote:I think if we simply agreed morality wasn't objective that we would be largely in agreement on the rest.

That may be true. And objectivity is hard even to define. If one is defending objectivity, but also if one is attacking it, it's hard to avoid begging questions and going around in circles.

In practical terms I'm willing to recognize extenuating circumstances in the past, or even in distant places today, but I think some things are hard to extenuate. If someone were hurting me I'd hope that not everyone would just declare that my tormentor's values were different but equally valid and therefore decline to help me. And I figure that principle shouldn't just apply to me.

The boat analogy works fine for me, though I see it operating on an ever changing ocean surface where the weather is unpredictable so what seems important when the sun is out becomes of lesser importance to some other part of the ship that needs worked on in a storm.

That's a nice addition to the analogy and I think it must also be true for science.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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fetchface wrote:The Bible contains a lot of made-up stories but mixed in there is the true story of the evolution of the God of Abraham, and the subsueqent birth of the Christian God, slowly evolving from a (probably) Canaanite God of War. Pretty fascinating stuff.

The Biblical title "Lord of hosts" is still repeated today, but I wonder how many people who hear it think that it means God gives dinner parties. It means "Lord of armies".

I try to think of it as indicating God's superhuman ability to look after lots of small details without losing the big picture, because armies were (and probably still are) the extreme example of large, complex groups trying to achieve difficult goals. The original meaning was presumably that the God of the OT remained a war god for quite a while.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Physics Guy wrote:The Biblical title "Lord of hosts" is still repeated today, but I wonder how many people who hear it think that it means God gives dinner parties. It means "Lord of armies".

I try to think of it as indicating God's superhuman ability to look after lots of small details without losing the big picture, because armies were (and probably still are) the extreme example of large, complex groups trying to achieve difficult goals. The original meaning was presumably that the God of the OT remained a war god for quite a while.

I forgot about the "Lord of Hosts" thing. Yeah, it pretty much means "God of War."
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Physics Guy wrote:
honorentheos wrote:I think if we simply agreed morality wasn't objective that we would be largely in agreement on the rest.

That may be true. And objectivity is hard even to define. If one is defending objectivity, but also if one is attacking it, it's hard to avoid begging questions and going around in circles.

In practical terms I'm willing to recognize extenuating circumstances in the past, or even in distant places today, but I think some things are hard to extenuate. If someone were hurting me I'd hope that not everyone would just declare that my tormentor's values were different but equally valid and therefore decline to help me. And I figure that principle shouldn't just apply to me.

I would agree with this as well. My take on it is that our evolution as eusocial animals, to borrow from E.O. Wilson, resulted in certain behaviors having survival value that result in a biological source for human ethics of some kind. Does that rise to the level of objective ethics? I don't know. As you point out, to take a firm stand against that would requiring begging questions as to what that means on a case-by-case basis. In that sense, I see morality as something tied to the human condition with certain universal traits that for all intents and purposes behave like objective morality might even if they would disappear without humans or possibly become "other" given enough time and evolutionary pressure in the right direction.
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Song by Julia Ward Howe
Lyrics

Mine eyes hath seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
"As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal";
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free;

,,,,,

I do not think any folks see or understand a God being exclusively a God of War. That was a dimension of a Gods activity. I can see that thinking about God goes through some change in the Old Testament. I do not think the God of War thing ever goes away. It really is foundational to the Bible. God is at war against the powerful oppressors and a protector of those in need of protection. That is how he is seen by people then. I think he still should be seen that way.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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huckelberry wrote:I do not think any folks see or understand a God being exclusively a God of War.

Who claimed they did? Certainly not me.

I am simply pointing out that it appears that the earliest conception of Yahweh was probably that he was the war deity in a polytheistic pantheon. Then he became a "jealous God" and evolved to be more. You can see the fingerprints of this in the way the portrayal of Yahweh evolves. Of course the people who compiled and edited the final version of the OT had the view that he was something much more and impressed this a little bit on the earlier stories. But that's why we have the textual critics, to analyze the styles and try to see if it makes sense to separate out the sources. Nothing's for sure, but they have good reasons to think what they do.

Read the OT again and see if this reading fits. I think it does. Lord of Hosts (Master of Armies) is already a big clue, but Yahweh's earliest behavior betrays his identity as the God of War.

ETA: Battle Hymn of the Republic is not really germane to the point as it was composed in modern times and does not say anything about the earliest conception that Yahweh's followers had of him. However, it is interesting in that it shows how strong the psychological desire of humans to follow a strong alpha personality is. Some part of us wants to be on the biggest gorilla's team, and many people see Jesus as the ultimate big alpha.
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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honorentheos wrote:[O]ur evolution as eusocial animals ... resulted in certain behaviors having survival value that result in a biological source for human ethics of some kind. Does that rise to the level of objective ethics?

It could just be that I can't imagine how many other ways evolution might have gone, but I think it probably does.

The idea that pure chance is the only alternative to divine design is creationist nonsense; in fact natural law imposes tons of constraints. Evolution is less than perfectly efficient and some traits persist just because there is no pressure to eliminate them, but some traits are so valuable that they have evolved independently many times. It seems to me that in sufficiently intelligent species altruistic instincts must just be too powerful a survival trait to pass up, because as more intelligent organisms get more and more options there are bound to be lots of Prisoner's Dilemma scenarios in which unrestrained selfishness endangers the whole gene pool but just a little bit of altruism can save the day.

So altruism is a survival trait for selfish genes, but I think it's an equally accurate description of the same facts to say that there are objective reasons why some behaviors are the right thing to do. Genes aren't sentimental. They're ruthless. If altruism has evolved it can only be because avoiding altruism is not something genes can do, any more than they can go against gravity.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Julia Ward Howe wrote:I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

I don't think this 19th century hymn is quite irrelevant to understanding how the concept of God evolved in the Bible. The Battle Hymn is a modern example of something that was probably also happening back in the Bible.

By the 19th century most Americans thought of God as much more than a war god. They had come a long way since Canaan. Yet there came a time, even in their times of steam engines and telegrams, when a lot of modern civilians who had never planned to be warriors found themselves in a war and were glad to recall that their God of cosmic love was also an experienced badass.

So the evolution of God in the Old Testament from war god to capital-G God of monotheism does not have to have been a steady progression that left the old views behind as it advanced to the new. We should perhaps instead expect the older picture of God to persist along with the new, with some adapatation and change of perspective. If the war god imagery persisted into the late 19th century then it could certainly have persisted throughout the Old Testament, without necessarily excluding a broader understanding of God growing up alongside it.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Physics Guy wrote:I don't think this 19th century hymn is quite irrelevant to understanding how the concept of God evolved in the Bible. The Battle Hymn is a modern example of something that was probably also happening back in the Bible.

It is definitely interesting point, but it isn't evidence of what the early Israelites thought, was all I was trying to say. It does show that it is possible to hold "war god" beliefs along with more expansive beliefs, I just don't see a lot of evidence in the earliest parts (parts composed earliest) of the OT that the Israelites held more expansive beliefs.

I think their covenant with Yahweh was more of a business contract with a person of power to get them special benefits. I don't think they saw Yahweh as the guy who was out to right the moral wrongs of the world, just a guy who was going to help them kick ass and get what they needed if they did what he said.
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Physics Guy wrote:I don't think this 19th century hymn is quite irrelevant to understanding how the concept of God evolved in the Bible. The Battle Hymn is a modern example of something that was probably also happening back in the Bible.

fetchface wrote:It is definitely interesting point, but it isn't evidence of what the early Israelites thought, was all I was trying to say. It does show that it is possible to hold "war god" beliefs along with more expansive beliefs, I just don't see a lot of evidence in the earliest parts (parts composed earliest) of the OT that the Israelites held more expansive beliefs.

I think their covenant with Yahweh was more of a business contract with a person of power to get them special benefits. I don't think they saw Yahweh as the guy who was out to right the moral wrongs of the world, just a guy who was going to help them kick ass and get what they needed if they did what he said.


fetchface. I was not trying to contradict the picture of a polytheistic past developing in stages to a monotheist view. On the other hand if one reviews the important festivals and sacrifices which compose the ancient bedrock of the belief I think you will find they are agricultural not war celebrations.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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huckelberry wrote:In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free;


For Americans, I suspect that familiarity has dulled the weirdness of those last three lines. I mean "the beauty of the lilies"?
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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Those lines are strange. The rest of the words make more sense but some of them are a little odd, too, if you think about them. What kinds of swords loose lightning? How long does one store grapes before trampling them?

Google didn't find any explanation of the lyrics for me, other than a couple of sources quoting Howe's account of how they came to her. Somebody suggested that she should try to compose some better words to the tune of "John Brown's Body", and the next morning they just came to her as she was waking. The earliest recorded version had "whiteness of the lilies" instead of beauty but Howe revised this before publication.

I guess those lines just made sense to Howe at the time, half asleep, and I reckon that by verse five of that song most people are just going with it.

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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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huckelberry wrote:fetchface. I was not trying to contradict the picture of a polytheistic past developing in stages to a monotheist view. On the other hand if one reviews the important festivals and sacrifices which compose the ancient bedrock of the belief I think you will find they are agricultural not war celebrations.

Are they? Which ones are you referring to?
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

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huckelberry wrote:fetchface. I was not trying to contradict the picture of a polytheistic past developing in stages to a monotheist view. On the other hand if one reviews the important festivals and sacrifices which compose the ancient bedrock of the belief I think you will find they are agricultural not war celebrations.

To a hunter/gatherer/nomadic culture, is there a difference when the agriculture-based culture moves into the neighborhood?

Agriculture brings a lot of things with it that change the dynamics between interacting cultures. Agriculture requires land, it leads to population expansions that put pressures on adjacent groups to move away or defend themselves, and it upends the local ecology's natural dynamics. War-culture and agriculture tend to go hand-in-hand historically. We moderns tend to look on agriculture as genteel and peaceful because the farmers are considered of a different class than the warrior classes. We forget that this class-structure is part of the package compared to the hunter/gatherer cultures it supplants where the warriors/hunters are providers first rather than warriors first.
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Re: The hell of Mormon afterlife

Post by huckelberry »

fetchface wrote:
huckelberry wrote:fetchface. I was not trying to contradict the picture of a polytheistic past developing in stages to a monotheist view. On the other hand if one reviews the important festivals and sacrifices which compose the ancient bedrock of the belief I think you will find they are agricultural not war celebrations.

Are they? Which ones are you referring to?


https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passage ... eronomy-16
fetchface,
Because we do not have anything describing the origins of festivals and sacrifices of early Israelites there is always a danger of reading some assumption into them. I have read a few observations that because such events are culturally conservative and are not described as orginating they are likely to be to a significant degree continuation (with possible change) from Canaanite past.

This linked article , one of the first Google found which wasn't a projection of Jesus onto the sacrifices, points out changes at time of Josiah. There are a number of things about Josiah reform which suggest an increased emphasis on the God of War dimension of how they saw God. That would hardly mean there was not always a combination of war and nurturing protector (rain, harvests keeping enemies at bay protector of the widows and defenseless etc)

I am not sure which material you may be thinking of as the oldest. Praise to God who threw the horse and rider into the sea, Song of Moses is the oldest or one of the oldest pieces. It is role of protector .

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