Poll

Which is the BETTER definition of sacrifice?

"The act of giving up something of personal value for the benefit of others with no expectation direct or immediate benefit to one's self"
2 (40%)
"The act of giving up something of personal value that you can never get back for the benefit of others with no ultimate benefit to one's self"
2 (40%)
I don't know
0 (0%)
Neither of those are good definitions
1 (20%)

Total Members Voted: 5

Voting closed: August 12, 2014, 08:28:07 AM

AuthorTopic: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)  (Read 4218 times)

Offline Ashvin

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God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:28:07 AM »
I just realized that I have the capability of adding polls here. So I am creating two polls to assess the general consensus here about 1) what it means to "sacrifice" and 2) whether we can reasonably claim that the Christian God could sacrifice for humanity. Since I can't add two polls into one thread, I will put the 2nd poll in a comment below this one (edit: I'm holding off on the second poll for now, since it would be too confusing).

Those who have not followed any of the arguments on this topic can find them here - http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/index.php/topic,3085.0.html

It may take some effort to separate the few morsels of wheat from the overgrown chaff, so to speak.

The ORIGINAL issue posed by RE was one concerning ETHICS. Should we sacrifice our lives for our neighbors, friends or even our enemies, and if so, WHY should we? The Christian perspective answers YES to the first part and GOD to the second part. That is why it's important for the Christian (or those interested in the Christian perspective) to consider the question of God's ability to sacrifice for humanity. As He was willing to do for us, we should be willing to do for others.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 08:53:01 AM by Ashvin »

Offline Eddie

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 08:33:53 AM »
I voted for the second definition. When I think about sacrifice, I always immediately think about what mothers (and fathers too, for that matter) are willing to do for their children. Imho, sacrifice can only be accomplished by someone who is capable of demonstrating unconditional love. Most of us really don't do that except with regards to our own offspring.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline JRM

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 11:06:52 AM »
Quote
"The act of giving up something of personal value for the benefit of others with no direct or immediate benefit to one's self"
"The act of giving up something of personal value that you can never get back for the benefit of others with no ultimate benefit to one's self"

This thread seems to be a continuation of another, earlier conversation here in the Diner.  The topic in this other conversation involved two main parts, (a) the distinction between "sacrifice" and "renunciation" (of a certain type or kind -- of each), and (b) the relative merits of "sacrifice" vs "renunciation".

In this conversation, I was repeatedly accused of being "selfish" because I favored renunciation over sacrifice.

I defined renunciation as (more or less) "relinquishing desire and/or attachment toward a thing or activity which may seem to benefit one's self (if and when one's self is (mis-)understood in the mode of perseity -- or having independent existence).

In renunciation of this sort, the actual action begins with the acknowledgement or realization that no self actually exists in the condition of perseity, and so all selfish (entirely self-centered) desires and activities are actually self-defeating, self-harming, self-abusing.... Such actions are akin to punishing one's own left hand for some imagined offense against the rest of one's body. Or, better still, such actions and activities are akin to chopping off one's hand in order to eat it because one is hungry. That is, because there simply is no fundamental separation between living beings (humans included), selfish habits and activities always directly and/or indirectly harm one's self in pursuit of self-benefit. In other words, such desires and activities are rooted in delusion.

For example -- We all live in communities of various scales, which themselves are part of larger communities which contain them.  One level of this Community is Earth Life, or the biosphere.  We may imagine that we can "benefit" by certain activities (e.g., oil, gas and coal extraction and use), but when these activities harm the larger community in which we're imbedded, we are directly and indirectly harming ourselves. But there is no "ourselves" apart from these communities, so the whole proposition that one can "beneift" from activities which harm others or the biosphere is ... insane, ludicrous, fictional, delusional....

The concept of personal sacrifice on behalf of others is a concept depending upon a belief in the perseity of a self (it's independent existence), and is a concept to be renounced along with the illusion of personal perseity.  In reality, all benefits and losses are shared by the communities in which we are embedded. No one gains anything apart from others, nor loses anything which loss is not shared -- ultimately, by all. In other words, a human being is a We, not a Me. There is no Me, apart from you all. I do not exist that way. And so when I choose not to perform a purely selfish act I am immediately blessed by the fact that in not doing so I am knowing my own true nature as part of the Community of Life. This is not a sacrifice, and it has many rewards -- and brings joys. Joys, happiness, etc., are not selfish. To accuse a person of selfishness for experiencing joy and delight in giving, sharing, cooperating, enacting kindness... is delusional ignorance, and very, very unkind. It is a form of madness -- and is entirely selfish in nature (because it must assume that we are ultimately separate from one another, which is the root of all self-ish-ness).


I don't care about the results of this poll. It's irrelevant.
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline agelbert

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 11:59:50 AM »
Ashvin said,
Quote
The ORIGINAL issue posed by RE was one concerning ETHICS. Should we sacrifice our lives for our neighbors, friends or even our enemies, and if so, WHY should we? The Christian perspective answers YES to the first part and GOD to the second part. That is why it's important for the Christian (or those interested in the Christian perspective) to consider the question of God's ability to sacrifice for humanity. As He was willing to do for us, we should be willing to do for others.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will ."





Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Online knarf

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 12:02:30 PM »
I voted "Neither of those are good definitions"

This is Merriam - Webster definition of sacrifice : the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

I prefer the word compassion when doing something "especially good/beneficial"  for someone else   .....   Ram Das wrote a book called "How can I Help" with another author Paul Gorman.
  Someone summed up what was most helpful to them after they read it. They include...

Compassion is learned when we stop and truly listen to another person. Our reaction to what we hear can cause us to experience pain and it can increase our awareness of our own vulnerability. For this reason, sometimes true compassion is replaced with a need for the helper to relate to the helpee from a superior position. The essence of this superior to inferior relationship can feel like, “You are weaker, needier, less capable, less intelligent, and generally less than I. So, I will not feel the pain that you feel.” From that angle, the person being helped often feels worse about themselves which is far from helpful.

True compassion is experienced between two equals with an understanding about what is the same about us all. It is marked with a sincere, caring and authentic connection. When others are seen as equal, compassion becomes our natural response.

If a helper hasn’t done their own personal work, their efforts to help can sadly become selfish if the motivation for their helping is to make them feel better about themselves.

It’s not possible to help everyone and that’s ok.

found at: http://leazengage.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/notes-on-the-book-entitled-how-can-i-help-by-ram-dass-and-paul-gorman/
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 12:05:50 PM by knarf »
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline agelbert

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 12:31:01 PM »
Quote
It’s not possible to help everyone and that’s ok.

Careful there. The above truism can be twisted quite easily into a justification for not helping ANYONE.

Worse, the previous logic about how the helped person is somehow humiliated by being helped can be used as justification for, not only NOT helping those in need, but a rather cruel justification for obedience to the powerful in all things (because "helping" or cooperating with the powerful does not humiliate them!).

Finally, that logical chain you just postulated occurs when you have TIME to think about it. In human terms, much of our sacrifice occurs in the spur of the moment. A person in an accident with a car or house on fire needing to be pulled out will certainly NOT feel "inferior" because you sacrificed to the point of receiving second or third degree burns to rescue them.

As Ashvin said previously (to paraphrase), if you start to analyze the calculus motivating you to sacrifice too intellectually, it can be defined as a selfish act you are doing to improve your opinion of yourself or your self worth in other people's eyes (and/or please God).

When you go down THAT route, if you do NOT believe in God, it's EASY to claim sacrifice is just a puffing up exercise for yourself and a demeaning one to the person you helped. 

You are, in effect, equating sacrifice to the weight lifter building up muscles through pain. Viewed that way, it is easy to disdain the very notion of sacrifice as an exercise in vanity. That is wrong. That breeds a population of aloof humans that will not help their brother in need and do not believe they ARE their brother's keeper.

It is, in the final analysis, a SELFISH act to claim one should not sacrifice to help others because sacrifice is a "selfish" act. It's a clever play on words though. I'll admit that.

Making people feel GOOD about NOT sacrificing through an Orwellian definition of Sacrifice is socially destructive, IMHO.
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Online knarf

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 12:38:48 PM »
@agelbert All the things you said "can" be true, but they are not true all the time. I can think off hundreds of people who need help and we could sacrifice all week for them and it would do nothing for them! Compassion involves true empathy, and sometimes doing something to help the person in pain is helpful, other times it just leads to more suffering...TRUE. Personnaly i do not think that helping others should even be considered as "helping" or "sacrificing". One does what is necessary in the situation, and we can only do the best we can, and no one is perfect, not even God, apparently.  :)
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 12:42:44 PM by knarf »
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline Ashvin

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 12:57:38 PM »
A big story right now is the persecution of Christians in Iraq and a potential resumption of a US military offensive. But while I was writing another comment in response on this thread, as divine providence would have it, I came across this opinion piece on CNN by a Christian pediatric heart surgeon in Iraq. Powerful stuff!

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/05/learning-to-love-the-enemy-in-iraq/


Learning to love the 'enemy' in Iraq
Opinion by Jeremy Courtney, special to CNN

...

"Heart surgery is full of meaning in every culture, but especially in Iraq, where fathers find themselves begging anyone who will listen to donate blood while their child lies vulnerable in the operating room.

Once enemies have each other’s blood coursing through their veins, or your nemesis is holding your child’s heart in his hands, it is impossible to hate without condemning oneself, as well.

We know the world is not all rainbows and roses. There is a version of Islam out there that is dangerous and scary.

But there are far more Muslims like Sheikh Ali.

There is a lesson to learn from the fatwa that called for our death: It’s not violence or pre-emptive strikes that terrify the terrorists. They need violence to be done against them to justify their cause.

But pre-emptive love — shown through heart surgeries or simple hospitality — upends our simplistic stories and threatens hatred everywhere.

Or, in the words of the fatwa issued against our work:

“We must stop [these heart surgeries] lest it lead our children and their parents to love their enemies!

God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.

One thousand children, with thousands of fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles across Iraq.

We’ve drunk their tea, celebrated miracle birthdays, and prayed for their children as they go off to school. The Iraqis we are training will save the lives of tens of thousands more.

So, in the end, I have to admit the cleric was right: Pre-emptive love does work. It destroys enemies by making them friends."

Offline RE

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 01:02:20 PM »
With respect to the originating thread, I think the question is more whether it is possible for God to sacrifice His life at all, and if Jesus did that if He was resurrected.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline agelbert

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2014, 01:04:55 PM »
Quote
So, in the end, I have to admit the cleric was right: Pre-emptive love does work. It destroys enemies by making them friends."



Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Eddie

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2014, 01:45:57 PM »
God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.


A more likely scenario is that some ignorant-assed jihadist will cut out the good doctor's own beating heart. I'm a  real pessimist on religious ecumenism between Christians and hard line Muslim fundamentalists.

I have no problem with folks of any faith, providing they display a modicum of tolerance for the spiritual paths of others.

Now, I'd be the first to say that our leaders have vilified Muslims to the nth degree, way beyond any basis in reality. But that doesn't mean they're all nice guys.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Ashvin

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2014, 02:17:14 PM »
With respect to the originating thread, I think the question is more whether it is possible for God to sacrifice His life at all, and if Jesus did that if He was resurrected.

RE

This was supposed to be the second poll, but I figured it would too confusing to have both at the same time. Except the question is not whether God can sacrifice "his life", but whether he can sacrifice anything at all.

You won't hear me say this often, but I think Jesus' Resurrection is irrelevant here. As Ka explained earlier, if the Resurrection eliminates any of Jesus' selfless acts before he was raised, then our future Resurrection will eliminate all of our selfless acts as well. (here I am assuming the best definition of "sacrifice" is the one which best describes selfless behavior)

Which brings me to the next point. I added in the word "expectation" to my own definition of "sacrifice" in the poll, because I believe INTENT is more important than outcomes. IMO, the person who gives up something with no expectation of anything in return, and then happens to benefit from that sacrifice a day later, has acted more sacrificially than the person who gives up something expecting a lot in return, and then happens to end up in a shitty position a day later.

JRM, I think "sacrifice" and "renunciation" can appear to be very similar in a broad context. Christians would be the first to admit that life of selfless behavior will ultimately be beneficial, satisfying and fulfilling. AG is right that pure logic can potentially lead to twisted ways of thinking about "selfless" behavior, since it all depends on base assumptions. So it may be better to focus on practical thought experiments.

I pose the following questions to you - does your life hold any more value to you than that of a cockroach? Would you be "losing" anything if you gave up your time, your resources, your limbs of even your life to spare the life of a cockroach? (my understanding of your metaphysics leads me to believe your answers should be NO... correct me if I'm wrong).   

Offline Ashvin

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 02:29:45 PM »
God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.


A more likely scenario is that some ignorant-assed jihadist will cut out the good doctor's own beating heart. I'm a  real pessimist on religious ecumenism between Christians and hard line Muslim fundamentalists.

I have no problem with folks of any faith, providing they display a modicum of tolerance for the spiritual paths of others.

Now, I'd be the first to say that our leaders have vilified Muslims to the nth degree, way beyond any basis in reality. But that doesn't mean they're all nice guys.

Well it's certainly not looking good...

I agree that radical Islamic ideology is probably the most dangerous one out there. Followed closely by atheistic/materialistic ideology (because "morality" as an objective concept can be thrown out the window), radical Jewish ideology and then a works-based "Christian" ideology.

When the exclusive focus is on human "works" as the key to the "kingdom of God", then non-believers are simply seen as obstacles to this kingdom becoming a reality. Compassionate evangelism is seen as a waste of time and violence is seen as the most efficient path to humanity's salvation. Radical Islamic ideology in particular does not view God as merciful and forgiving, so why should humans be?

Online knarf

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2014, 06:06:04 PM »
God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.


A more likely scenario is that some ignorant-assed jihadist will cut out the good doctor's own beating heart. I'm a  real pessimist on religious ecumenism between Christians and hard line Muslim fundamentalists.

I have no problem with folks of any faith, providing they display a modicum of tolerance for the spiritual paths of others.

Now, I'd be the first to say that our leaders have vilified Muslims to the nth degree, way beyond any basis in reality. But that doesn't mean they're all nice guys.

I agree Eddie. This story of the two different faiths working together to do "good" is a nice and wonderful story. But these "sacrifices" are going on all over the world, we just do not hear about them. No matter what one believes doesn't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to how we treat our fellow human beings. No matter where in the world you happen to be, someone, who believes in something, will attack and kill you for whatever reason their convoluted mind has conjured. It doesn't matter what faith you adhere to, or if you can act the part played by that of a religious group, some people are so twisted that they will only see you as an object to be destroyed. Most all of us remember what the "Crusades" were about. Destroy the infidels.
  I do not see that changing a great deal in our life time, except if climate change and the lack of water and food, bring a basic commonality between all peoples, regardless of their beliefs. If this were to occur then the basic needs of all people will be recognized. Even then we will find many people that have no interest in cooperating with each other to survive a common collapse, we will find people who only care about them selves, and will kill to get what they need. In fact I personally think that we will not see in our lifetime human beings coming to any common understanding of our dire situations, but that most people will see that it has become a dog  eat dog world, and do anything including robbing and killing to stay alive.
  I predicted years ago that people will start going out into the rural areas where people own McMasions and they will rob and injure the residents. This last Monday we were coming down the driveway of people we clean for, and there was a Sheriff hiding behind a bale of hay. We stopped and he told us that there had been a robbery of one such residence and that they were still trying to capture the last one of four people who broke in. This was 15 miles from the nearest town. As food prices keep increasing and the poor can not feed them selves or their families we can expect more and more of this behavior. So we do not need to go very far to find danger in our everyday life. It seems like we have to give up this idea of a perfect world and start preparing for civil collapse, and the dangers that entails.   
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline Ashvin

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Re: God, Sacrifice and Ethics (TWO POLLS)
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2014, 07:03:02 AM »
I agree Eddie. This story of the two different faiths working together to do "good" is a nice and wonderful story. But these "sacrifices" are going on all over the world, we just do not hear about them. No matter what one believes doesn't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to how we treat our fellow human beings. No matter where in the world you happen to be, someone, who believes in something, will attack and kill you for whatever reason their convoluted mind has conjured. It doesn't matter what faith you adhere to, or if you can act the part played by that of a religious group, some people are so twisted that they will only see you as an object to be destroyed. Most all of us remember what the "Crusades" were about. Destroy the infidels.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Right now, a combination of rampant materialism and radicalized religious ideology is exactly what is determining how people (mis)treat each other around the world. Just as it has been throughout history.

Deterministic nihilism is also another belief system which can easily justify the inhuman treatment of others.

 

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