The following is the second of two e-mails that Yerserv sent me, replying to my Love is Torture page. I have deleted Yers's e-mail header and added the original points being argued in italicized blocks; my comments are interspersed in bold text.
I had some thoughts on the appendix of your "love is torture" web page. I believe that you have raised some valid points, which deserve to be addressed.
Point 1 : If a man builds a torture chamber and stocks it with torture instruments, knowing full well that it will be used to commit torture (an evil act), has not that man committed an evil act?
You have mentioned this quite a bit in the chat room as well.
At first it sounds convincing, but let's put it to the test of reason.
Consider the undeniable fact that societies and governments build prisons
and so construct them that they are places of discomfort and suffering.
Societies and governments set up rules knowing full well that people will
break these rules and get sent to these places of punishment. This is called
"justice" in societies. No reasonable person thinks that it is the
fault of the government that people end up getting sent to these places of punishment. The reasonable people of the society believe that the rules are just. It is considered the fault of the criminals who break the rules that they wind up in prison. So, your point #1 really constitutes a double standard, You expect God to act differently from what reasonable people consider to be fair and just.
Yers - you live in a country where 'cruel and unusual punishment' has been banned, and torture of prisoners is forbidden, and you still argue that torture is justice? Please explain why the American justice system shows more mercy and compassion than your god.
If the law is unjust, then is it still the person's 'fault' that he was imprisoned? If so, are you still ethically comfortable with the imprisonment?
And how easily you equate discomfort and inconvenience. |Prisons were built for confinement, punishment and (possibly) reform; torture is a misuse not condoned by our laws.
No reasonable person thinks that eternal pain is fair and just. Torture is outlawed in civilized countries. Where do you live, Yers? How long has you been on this planet without noticing this?
"An eye for an eye" was not Christ's idea of justice, I might mention.
But it's God's?
Point 2 :I have thereby signed a contract allowing God to let me languish in horrible torments forever, rejecting my screams for mercy and forgiveness
This view of an unmerciful God is based on the supposition that you will one day repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness.
Supposing for a moment that all this horse hockey is true...
I know my limitations as a human being. An infinite amount of pain is a powerful motivator. Were an all powerful and evil god to offer me a choice between kissing his sandals and being tortured forever, the right ethical action could only be defiance - but I might not be strong enough as a mere human to resist that threat. So don't discount a 'repentance' if actual proof of your dismal fairy story is given me... But don't count on it if you can't do any better than this in constructing a proof.
(And no - a decision made under such duress is not 'Free Will.' It is simple coercion by threat of pain and suffering. There is nothing free about it.)
The fun part is that if I live by the courage of my convictions, and value truth, and uphold a moral principle over an unjust law, your god has ordained that I will fall into torture forever...
However, there is no reason to expect that you would repent and ask for forgiveness once in hell. Certainly, you are not doing it now. In eternity you will be an amplified version of what you are now.
Really? Where does this idea come from?
If you mock God and think God evil now, it's likely that you would feel similarly should your plight grow worse. You blame God now for "building the torture chamber" it's more likely that you will be blaming and cursing God more should you wind up in it.
You want the tortured to worship the one who built the torture chamber and who can release them at any time, but who won't because he loves them? Honestly, and with no other purposes in their hearts?
As such, each day in hell you could be committing new sins and drawing farther and farther from God. After all, if you wanted to change, then you would probably do it now.
Likely, possibly, and probably. You're doing an awful lot of guesswork here.
Let's pretend that all this stuff you say is true. I spend my life on earth listening to various concepts of what the universe is about. Many people present me with their holy books and claim that their version of the truth is correct, and each version contradicts the other. I choose to give things an honest try, and I look for this entity that they are claiming to be sole creator of the universe, and find nothing, neither in my heart nor elsewhere.
Now, I die and pass on to your afterlife, and I see that one of these people with an antique holy book was correct. I can observe this clearly for the first time, where I had no clear evidence at all before. Now is the time for any rational person to alter his opinion, and I do so.
But no. "Sorry - you should have believed in me before you had any firm evidence," says god, and tearfully waves goodbye as I fall backwards into hell, because he really did love me very much, more than any human on earth could ever love me.
Because the point, Yers, is that any sane person will believe the evidence before his eyes (and the insane should not be punished for seeing incorrectly, but this is a side issue). But the only time that one is presented with evidence that any scientist could honestly accept as indicating the truth of god, it's too late to change your opinion about it. It seems that you were hoping that I wouldn't bring this up, since most of your reply consists of your hypothesis that I 'probably' wouldn't change anyway. You were hoping I wouldn't point out that, according to your religion, it's too late to change after I die, and whether I wanted to repent or not wouldn't make a bit of difference.
And if you are really willing to throw me into hell forever based
on a supposition or a probability, what has become of mercy?
This view - that you will continually be drawing away from God for eternity
while in hell - corresponds to the basic Christian notion that the character
we choose for ourselves in this life will determine our destiny in the
next life. It is also consistent with the Christian view that the more
and more one turns from God, the harder it gets to turn back to God. Jesus
spoke of the "road to life" (leading toward God and toward heaven) and
the "road to destruction" (leading away from God and
toward hell). In this life, we choose a direction that we will go for eternity. It's thought that there is time to change while we are on earth. However, there is a "point of no return". There comes a point that you become what you have chosen for yourself (ie. You make your bed, so you have to lie in it).
So we have free will before we die, but not after? Do you suddenly
lose your free will when you get to heaven or hell?
Does god have free will? If so, does God need to have an infinite binary choice hanging over his head in order to have free will?
Point 3: : An introduction to logic.
It's perfectly reasonable to say : "If A implies B, and B implies C, then we can conclude that A implies C." Logical implication is not the same as logical equivalence, but it is used to form reasonable arguments. It's ludicrous the argument is not valid because implication is not the same as equivalence. Implication is used all the time to build reasonable arguments. It is not the same as saying "If A equals B and B equals C then we can conclude that A equals C".
I always recommend "A Concise Introduction to Logic" by Patrick Hurley if you would like to get a handle on formal reasoning. It's a very readable and complete book. Published in 1982, but I think it's still in print.
If this argument was a response to my request that you prove that love is torture, then by your own admission, you failed to prove it. Your argument only tries to prove that love, in a bizarre chain of circumstances, can imply torture. (It fails at this too, but that's another isssue.)
So you have to make up your mind. What was your argument supposed to prove? If you wanted to prove that love is torture, as I asked you to do, then you've already lost on the face of it. If you wanted to prove that love implies torture, then we have the discussion we've been having..
My personal opinion is that you fired off the first argument in the heat of debate, then re-read it later and realized that it didn't prove what I asked you to prove, whereupon you blew up a vast smoke screen about 'implications' and insulted me repeatedly in a condescending manner about my comprehension of logic. Well, I'm giving you an out. If you now state that you only meant to prove that love implies torture, I'll allow that, and we can proceed to analyze the argument on its other lack of merits.
As to your claim that I am saying that love is torture - I don't believe that in the slightest and I have never claimed it. My position is and always has been that love has nothing to do with torture.
As it stands, you haven't even proven an implication, so I remain quite unimpressed... You have about 2,000 years of earnest apologetic arguments behind you, can't you do any better than this?
Yerserv's first e-mail.
The original argument page.