Samsara would suit a just, loving god's purposes better than Heaven and Hell.
Debate Rounds (4)
Round 1: Acceptance/Opening Statements
Round 2: Initial arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals and further arguments
Round 4: Clarification, closing statements (no new arguments)
The purpose of this debate was that the Christian god should have made better choices in order to fulfill his own goals that are determined by his loving, just character. I have clearly stated that in creating Man, I believe (based on my Catholic education) that the Christian god's ultimate intention was that someone would become conscious of his infinite glory and that someone would be able to share in it (as in, become divine and loving and just and creative and all-seeing just like him) and ultimately attain oneness with him. If you disagree that this was the original intention of the Christian god, then my argument will not work.
So, we are discussing a different path, a different plan for what is still in essence the Christian god. Since he'd be doing things differently according to my model, he would no longer be well described by the Bible, and since he never would have personally condemned anybody, he would not have needed to sacrifice his son, Jesus Christ. I would like to point out that my view even of the Christian god is that we must all ultimately be sons and daughters of him, just like Jesus, but perhaps less mature. I see Jesus as the son of the Christian god that has most fulfilled God's purpose for Man (because Jesus has attained divinity and oneness with God). Anyway, the point is that in this model God would need no sacrifice and at most would have sent Jesus as a spiritual and moral teacher. In short, God would still be the Christian god, but he would have done almost everything differently, so you might say that his Holy Will must be different from the god of the Bible, so technically you could argue that the god I speak of must be somewhat different.
From now on, God is defined as an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omnipresent personal deity whose ultimate purpose for man was that man would attain full consciousness of and oneness with the divinity of God. Therefore, he may (or may not) come off as being closer to a different god than the one in the Bible.
The subtle differences in the Samsaric models across religions are very complex and largely irrelevant to my argument. I am most familiar with the Buddhist model of Samsara, however. I want to explain how the basic ideas behind Samsara are better than the basic ideas behind Heaven and Hell, so I will define Samsara rather simply. The attributes of Samsaric existence are:
1) Souls are not defined as the essence of any one person in particular, because they are reincarnated. My soul cannot be the essence of me that sets me apart from everyone else, because that same soul goes into another being. So a soul is defined as the fundamental inner subjectivity of all beings that is recycled and connected to all other souls. This soul is made of exactly the same immaterial substance as God.
2) The law of Karma is one of the most important attributes of Samsaric existence that states that the actions of any soul are the primary determinants of the nature of its future incarnations/existence. In this case, the closer you are in character to God, the more bliss-filled your existence becomes and the more powerful and free you become. If you do bad things that are against the character of God, the more full of suffering and impermanence and helplessness your existence can become. Note well that since nobody does infinite actions, no soul can reach full divinity or full severance from divinity by accumulating Karma, but that does not mean that a soul cannot rejoin God. In order to do that, a soul must stop accumulating Karma altogether and lose its personal existence (and therefore become full of, and one with God). As long as you create, so do you continue to be created. Therefore God, here, only created instances of inner subjectivity that create their own existences until they decide to stop creating anything and again become one with the all-encompassing subjectivity of God.
Because only individual, created souls accumulate karma and create their personal existence, it stands to reason that God does not create Karma: he does not interfere in Samsara after creating it. Samsara is like a machine that helps God to actualize (fulfill the purpose of) his souls because if he did worldly Samsaric things himself he would limit his all-encompassing-ness. God does not act within Samsara because the entirety of Samsara is within him (as all of his creations are: if it comes from God, it emanates, or unfolds from him).
Anyway, on to explaining why creating Samsara is more prudent for God (as defined above) to create than Heaven or Hell. Samsara is so effective at teaching moral perfection because beings are directly creating their own realities through their actions. What this means is that any being can choose to remain forever separated from God through his own actions, but as soon as he grows weary of this separation he will seek God's law through the guidance of Jesus and any other possible actualized souls (who share the character of Jesus) and through his own inner light that is his esssence and never dies. When, through experience, the soul has fully understood God's law of put good (as defined by God's essential loving character) in, get good out and vice versa, he will be able to understand that if he stops acting in his personal interests at all but speaks for the collective (like Jesus) then he can attain oneness with God (and full realization and sharing of His greatness).
Heaven and Hell could never hope to accomplish what Samsara does. People fail to act according to God's law almost all the time because we're too immature. As individuals, we identify with the personal self and not the collective, eternal Self of God (all-encompassing subjectivity) and we treat others badly and are motivated by personal gain. One life is by definition, not enough to stop identifying with the personal self, because only one personal self has been experienced. How is anyone supposed to deny the self if it is all they know? I'm not saying it's impossible, just unreasonably difficult. One life is not enough to realize God's law which is a deep love and compassion for all beings.
By sending people to hell, God has created the experience of eternal suffering, which is the antithesis of his Goal that we agreed on when you accepted my opening statement. God didn't create beings so that eternal suffering would be known, but so that Love could become known by someone who was previously ignorant.
Forgiving mere believers in Christ and rewarding them with eternal bliss is just as pointless if we keep the Goal in mind. The only way that Love can be authentically realized is through personal experience and free choice. If someone has not realized the ultimate by themselves, then they have not realized the ultimate at all, and they need to realize themselves before entering the meaningless perfection of eternal bliss (because we find meaning in life only through overcoming suffering).
In conclusion, sending people to Heaven and Hell leads to no definite self-realization of God's love and of God's laws. I argue that eventually, everyone must come to this realization themselves, because that is the purpose of their Soul (subjectivity, inner light), and the only way for the Soul to do that is to keep returning to worldly, karmic, imperfect existence until the individual can transcend his individuality and truly relate to God and enter His perfection in the most natural, organic, and righteous manner possible.
Pro"s model involves God splitting his consciousness up into pieces, and put these pieces of himself into the first human bodies, giving himself amnesia (each person forgets he is divine), with the hope that each one will one day realize he is God, and when he does, far from achieving God"s purpose for man, he loses his individual personhood, and God is back to square one with no separate person to have fellowship with him. I believe God created man to worship him, and have a loving relationship with him. You say that God made man to experience his glory, I disagree; but even if that should have been God"s reason for making man, samsara obliterates any chance of man as the individual he is experiencing that glory, because when he comes to the realization that he was divine all along and his individuality was just an illusion, and he loses his personal existence. The personality that once existed dies, he goes out of existence. So all you are seeking by all these rebirths is your death. But in heaven, in the Christian view, God will have many people with him, forever experiencing his love, and showering him with their love, freely. How could being loved by people who freely choose to have fellowship with you be "meaningless?" If love, in this perfection that exists in heaven, is meaningless, how much more meaningless would our love be in this fallen, sinful world! So Pro is incorrect when he calls the bliss of heaven meaningless. Losing one"s existence is what I would call a very meaningless end to a long cycle of rebirths in Pro"s twisted version of nirvana.
With reincarnation, people can"t even remember their former lives as cats or dogs so that they can learn from their mistakes. Without being able to remember the past, they may forever be in this state of reincarnation, always repeating the same mistakes, so Pro"s model mere tries to replace hell with countless rebirths that could literally go on forever. This would only give someone who is evil more opportunity to cause harm in their next life. Maybe they will be reborn as a dog and bite someone innocent. But with hell, the truly wicked are locked away for good where they can cause no more harm, forever. They only get to cause suffering to the innocent in one life time, but in Pro"s model Hitler would get to cause suffering in many lifetimes.
At this point I can"t resist asking the question: when someone is reborn as a cat, what exactly do they do to redeem themselves to gain a better rebirth? Do they stop chasing rats? And what does a spider do? Does it stop spinning webs in my house?
On Pro"s model, God "never would have personally condemned anybody," so Pro prefers for a God, infinite in holiness and goodness, not to condemn sin? So when God sees what Hitler did to the Jews, he should not punish this man? What kind of parent does not discipline his children?
On Pro"s model Jesus would not need to die, but first of all, on the Christian model he didn"t have to die either. God did not owe us salvation. He freely choose to save us, and Christ freely choose to suffer and die for our sakes. Secondly, one your model, the same person who dies today will have to die millions of times over and over again as he goes through the endless cycle of rebirths.
I can"t fathom that Pro would argue that God, as he is now, should have done things contrary to his own character; so Pro must be arguing that his idea of what God should be like is better than what Christianity teaches he is like. But interestingly, Pro is a Buddhist, and Buddhist don"t believe in a personal God!
Pro proposes a model that makes no sense whatsoever. He says the more like God you are, the more bliss-filled your life becomes. So in a world where men have free will, what is to prevent someone from persecuting those who are like God? Will their free will be taken away? Or will the righteous only get this bliss in the next life? If so, how do you know they will be any better off in the next life when the baby born without memory of his past bliss-filled life is starting from scratch all over again? But if you are reborn as an ant, God didn"t make you that way, samsara did it, and who created samsara and programmed it to make people like you into ants in the next life? God! So Pro is saying he prefers a model where God contradicts himself.
Pro says that "as soon as he grows weary of this separation he will seek God's law," but how can he grow weary of lives he can"t remember? If the purpose of these rebirths is to get a chance to do better, without knowing what past acts one is being punished for, how can one repent and improve? Or will you now try to amend what the Buddhists actually teach to make your model better?
All people have to do to be saved is to repent, and give their hearts to Jesus as their Savior. They won"t live up perfectly to all that he requires all the time, but God gives them the strength they need to live a live that honors him. All we need is the desire to do what is right, and God gives us the strength to do it. And in heaven, having perfect bodies that are free of sinful lusts, it will be easier to do what is right throughout eternity; so yes, heaven accomplishes more than what samsara does.
Pro prefers God to have created us "so that Love could become known by someone who was previously ignorant," but on his model, God himself has to become the one who is ignorant by inhabiting these bodies and giving himself amnesia. God himself would be the one, on Pro"s model, who enslaves the blacks, killed Jews in the holocaust, raped women, told lies, and invented the doctrine of hell, all because of his own self inflicted ignorance when he divided his consciousness into subjective parts. If God himself were the author of all this, how then does Pro have a problem with hell?
In Buddhist terms, the basic idea of salvation is liberation from the laws of Karma and samsara, as well as the attaining of Nirvana. What is Nirvana? The word itself is said to mean "blowing out, extinguishing." Thus, some define Nirvana as cessation of all passion and desire; an existence free from all sensory feelings, such as pain, fear, want, love, or hate; a state of eternal peace, rest, and changelessness. Essentially, it is said to be the cessation of individual existence. The Buddha taught that enlightenment and salvation"the perfection of Nirvana"come, not from any God or external force, but from within a person by his own effort in good deeds and right thoughts. This raises the question: Can something perfect come out of something imperfect? If no one is able to have total control of his actions even in simple day-to-day matters, is it logical to think that anyone can work out his eternal salvation all by himself? Just as a man mired in quicksand is not likely to free himself from it on his own, likewise all mankind is entrapped in sin and death, and no one is capable of extricating himself from this entanglement. (Romans 5:12) This is why God has to come down to save us, but on Pro"s model we have to save ourselves. No, the Christian model beats samsara any day.
I am not arguing here for a fully Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh or Jain view of Samsara because I am using my own simplified and modified Samsaric (Samsara-based) model, and I do not assert that for God to put the souls that he creates through samsara, he has to split his consciousness. In fact, I would argue that it is impossible for an all-encompassing consciousness to split himself to pieces such that nothing left remains all-encompassing and outside of personal existence. So even with souls that are of the Divine Substance realizing God's Law through Samsara, there is still consciousness that remains in the "Absolute" position, which, for the purposes of this argument, remains the personal deity in its entirety. You can subtract any amount of consciousness from an infinite god and split it off into individuals, and the infinite god will not have lost anything. However, experience of Life (which he could not have had in the Absolute position) when the souls come back to him. And they will if you give them an infinite amount of time, just like how if you give this universe an infinite amount of time to run down, it will certainly reach heat death eventually.
All I'm trying to say, Daley, is that God forgives, in principle. The Soul is not Hitler. The soul is here to understand, that's it. God sent the soul down here to Samsara to understand and until it does, it will not go back to God.
What kind of fucked up pagan deity are you worshipping that creates ugly people to suffer forever? Why does he do that? for fun?
It's OK to be a little insane as long as your heart's in the right place. It's never OK to be evil though, especially if you're a god who is not subject to temptation and conditioning. But really I don't believe in an insane personal deity that's trying to understand himself, so why am I saying this?
Unlike you, I don't believe that perfect fulfillment is metaphysically necessary, because I have absolutely no justification in doing so. Look around you: Perfect fulfillment evidently just ISN'T, and that's a brute fact. Sin exists here, so fulfillment can't be perfect ANYWHERE, for ANYONE. Not even God. Therefore we are here to fulfill a real, ultimate goal.
If Hell is eternal, then sin will exist somewhere for all eternity and perfect fulfillment will have been an illusion altogether. Unlike your theology, my twisted theology predicts the end of sin and the ultimate triumph of God.
God, the perfectly fulfilled personal deity, couldn't have created the world. I tend to agree with the scientific community that in the beginning, there was a singularity in which all mass-energy was absolutely separate from all space and time. In the beginning, there was nothing but empty, unfulfilled BEING: complete and utter separation.
In the end, there will be neither space nor mass-energy for they will be one (heat death). There will be no separation, and therefore complete fulfillment. Needless to say that I'm drawing a parallel between the physical and the spiritual: I'm a Nondualist.
It's atrocious for a person who calls himself religious not to believe that ultimately, everything is One in principle.
The Soul is the most powerful conceivable thing, for it is eternal and actual, and it will overcome all obstacles to realize the state of perfect fulfillment (God), in the end. We have to stop sinning and grow up: it's our Buddha nature.
Our job as the Soul is to come to the ultimate realization. This is why faith in God alone cannot buy you eternal bliss. The ultimate realization is the Law of God, which Jesus states clearly in Mark 12:31. It's not enough to love God, you must love everyone as much as you love yourself to attain to the Ultimate. There must be no ego, no sense of separation. I've never met a Christian who is this way (but to be fair, I haven't met anybody who is this way). Doesn't mean it's not going to happen. It is going to happen: that is my faith.
You misinterpret me when I say that we are of the same substance as God. I don't mean that, as parts, we are equivalent to the whole. I merely mean that We are Soul. God is fulfilled, Absolute Soul and the ultimate goal and realization of infinite love. You say that we are not like God, but He disagrees with you (Psalm 82:6) (John 10:34).
It's not as hard as you think it is for the Soul to realize Love. All it needs to do is be present and it shall be pure. In the words of a Buddha impersonator (who has, nevertheless, written something beautiful and true), "If we could see the miracle of a single flower CLEARLY, our whole life would change."
We humans have not fulfilled our potential and made the Realization yet, so we are not God in the sense of being all encompassing, all loving, and completely fulfilled, so it's no surprise that we sin. We cannot ignore the first noble truth: Life is Dukkha. There IS suffering and sin. This is not a reason to hate sinners, nor is it a reason to inflict suffering upon them. Don't fight fire with fire. Sinners are already burning themselves down. They ARE in hell, and yes, they are building bad karma, but they're not going to eternal suffering. We must help them to help themselves up, out of the hole. I know its tough, but it's our job. Love is cleaning poop with a smile. Imagine if mothers didn't change their babies' diapers with a smile, but with contempt and yelling and great reluctance, and therefore sometimes didn't do it at all. I know that poop looks and smells just awful, but unless you clean it with a smile, you're only making things worse for everyone.
When we have made the Ultimate Realization, there will be no sin and any sin of the past will be just that, of the past. It'll be like water under the bridge and we will be able to clear our Conscience, forgiving Our Self as the collective for sin that came from ignorance, craving and aversion as individuals. There will be no individuals, no ignorance, craving, nor aversion, nor will there be sin. We'll really put it behind us.
God loves you (the Soul, the true Self) more than you can imagine, and He is patient enough for you to realize the timeless Apex of eternity, grow up and take on His legacy of boundless love. My twisted theology is based only off the principle of infinite, patient, boundless love, while you base your correct theology off of arbitrary, corrupt dogmata created by humans motivated by hatred and self-interest.
I think I've said enough. Thank you for a very stimulating debate.
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