How do the Theists explain the holocaust

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby daydalus » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:56 pm UTC

That's offensive to believe that any good, proportional to the Holocaust in any way, at all, came out of it. It's vile.
Nothing good came from the Holocaust.
I am saying that no, nothing good came out of it.


Could it be that the holocaust gives us probably the best model for "evil" in the past century? There have been many other tragedies and even high death counts (see Russia, China). But the holocaust remains the single most "evil" thing that occured in the 20th century. Is there any value in that concept? In some way, doesn't it increase the sancticty of life and cast genocide in the worst light (far worse than political purges, disease or land grabs)?

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby mosc » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:40 pm UTC

I refuse the logic than any single thing in history is completely bad or completely good. Everything has both elements in spades. To see only bad in the Holocaust means you haven't looked very hard. To claim positives does not diminish the severity of the negatives.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:17 am UTC

*eyeroll* We've discussed this, I meant the same thing each time. Of course in perilous and evil circumstances good things can still happen. But to celebrate the opportunity or the good thing prematurely, without taking into account that the only reason the opportunity existed for good people to do good things was because of this huge, evil thing... That's idiotic.

It is.

It seems to me 22/7 that in multiple topics you take a point of view and stick to your guns by intentionally misinterpreting people and slightly changing your argument. For the record, formal American writing is a dialect like any other and it very slowly shifts. If you look at formal texts and orations from two hundred years ago in the US, you will see mannerisms that are no longer present. There's a reason for that. Hence, language, even the definition of a formal lanugage, changes over time. QED.

Likewise, my argument was never meant to say, "These brave soldiers who gave their lives fighting Hitler, those brave individuals in Germany who were willing to give their live saving Jews and other minorities from the camps... their actions were not good." Of course they were.

But those people were strong-willed and courageous without a Holocaust. The Holocaust didn't cause people to do good things, it presented an opportunity for good people to do what they do best. The Holocaust... didn't cause anything good itself. GOOD PEOPLE caused GOOD THINGS. The Holocaust was caused by very evil people, and it was a very evil thing. And we can not say anything good came of the Holocaust. No good came of it. Period. Stop arguing on this, because I'm going to be an immovable rock on this and you are not an infinite force nor do you possess the requisite infinitely long lever to shift my position. Good people caused good things around the circumstances of the Holocaust... But the Holocaust cannot be held as being good in anyway.

I refuse to budge on this, because I feel it ethically unsound to believe otherwise. If you believe that good came of the holocaust, would you, if you were given the opportunity to commit an atrocious, evil act, and were under the impression that it would create an opportunity for even greater good, that is, you believed the good could outweigh the bad, would you take that opportunity to commit an evil act? Would you do something so vile if you truly believed that you could create more good as a result? Do the ends justify the means?

Your ethical beliefs shock me, 22/7, if you think the Holocaust caused or brought good of any kind into the world. The good people whose were embroiled in the circumstances of the Holocaust were already good, were already here... The Holocaust merely brought an opportunity to do something different that was good, but you cannot say that the Holocaust caused or brought good. It's tantamount to congratulating Hitler on allowing the brave soldiers who fought against him to do so.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Malice » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:34 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:I refuse to budge on this, because I feel it ethically unsound to believe otherwise. If you believe that good came of the holocaust, would you, if you were given the opportunity to commit an atrocious, evil act, and were under the impression that it would create an opportunity for even greater good, that is, you believed the good could outweigh the bad, would you take that opportunity to commit an evil act? Would you do something so vile if you truly believed that you could create more good as a result? Do the ends justify the means?


I refuse to stop arguing on this, so there. :p

Really, though, Anpheus, we're talking past each other.

There is a difference between saying "Good came of the holocaust" and saying "The good that came of the holocaust was greater than the evil that came of the holocaust".

It's like saying, "Yeah, a car ran me over, but at least I don't have to go to work today!" It doesn't mean "I'm glad the car hit me" it means, "It sucks that the car hit me, but I'm acknowledging that good can come of evil, even if the evil is greater."

Do the ends justify the means? I'm not sure. But it's not a relevant question here because even people who say that ends can, in general, justify means do not think that the ends here justified the means.

Sometimes a small amount of evil has to be done to faciliate a large amount of good.
However, with the Holocaust, we're dealing with a large amount of evil and a small amount of good. Deciding that means the Holocaust was justified is about as nutty as calling in sick at work by walking out into traffic.

But recognizing that some good can come from even the most evil of events is a good, healthy thing to do--something which could even restore faith shaken by that great evil.

Understand?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:34 am UTC

Good did not come out of the holocaust. Good people were thrown into the circumstances of the holocaust by choice or by force and they caused good things to happen.

You cannot attribute good to the holocaust, period. I refuse to misattribute to the holocaust the bravery of soldiers that fought Hitler, the courage it took to shuttle people out of the country at risk to their own lives, or the enormous compassion of people who hid jews and other minorities from the Nazi party.

I refuse to say the Holocaust caused all of those good things, or that those good things came out of the Holocaust. No, those things happened because good people in evil circumstances did good things regardless of the threat to their own lives.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:03 am UTC

I don't believe in absolute evil and absolute good.

It demonized the Germans, giving the allies a drop of additional morale in the war against Hitler. Defeating Hitler even a second sooner was a good thing.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:04 am UTC

Was the Holocaust the most evil thing possible? No. But it was an inherently and massively evil act that did not cause any good things to happen, the Holocaust we're speaking of is the mass murder of jews and some other groups. Most people weren't even aware of the Holocaust or believed in it until our soldiers were already in Germany, in the camps liberating people.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby jestingrabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:28 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:It demonized the Germans, giving the allies a drop of additional morale in the war against Hitler. Defeating Hitler even a second sooner was a good thing.


This is historically inaccurate. When jews escaped and made it to england or switzerland and told their stories they were not believed. It was only after the war that people understood what had happened.


@ the OP: I don't think most people who believe in god saw god's actions in the shoa, I think that they see god's actions in the ending of the suffering.

I'm really glad that others have already pointed out that the true problem of evil isn't 'how can a good and powerful god allow evil to occur?' but is instead 'how do people, who are almost universally well intentioned, become agents of evil?' I think its more complicated than the answers provided, but I can't really clarify my thoughts on the issue enough to add much.

edit: inserted a 'to' and an 'of'
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:30 pm UTC

I meant after the first camps were liberated of course... almost at the very end.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Minchandre » Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:26 pm UTC

As an actual Jew, I'd like to sound off.

kidwithshirt wrote:But back on the topic, how do the Jews like to think why the holocaust happened? I know that a large portion of the Jews who were sent into the camps were very strong in their faith. But I would like to know how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?


Many of them were religious, but I'd actually say that the majority weren't. At the time, there was a strong Jewish movement (especially in Germany) called the "Reform Movement", which essentially said, "We're Germans that happen to be Jewish, not Jews that happen to live in Germany." That's actually one of the things that made Franz Everygerman so scared of them when someone pointed it out. Incidentally, a lot of very observant Jews say that the Holocaust was God punishing the Jewish people for losing the faith because of the Reform movement. Way to go on that, God, 'cause a whole bunch of people totally became more religious afterwards![/sarcasm]

I know that in fact a lot of them lost their faith in God after the holocaust, many of the survivors today don't even believe in their religion anymore. So I think for these individuals, they would just explain that: okay, there is no God, I am just an unlucky person who were born into the wrong race at the wrong time.


Atheistic Judaism is a relatively common phenomenon, and has been since about the Industrial Revolution, when all sorts of other folks were becoming atheistic.

But let's go back to the people who still were faithful after their survival, or even the Jewish community today. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?


Nope! God has a long and rich history of tormenting the Jewish people. See: all of Western History

From reading Elie Weisel's Night, I have have found some interesting themes. He explained it as the absence of God caused all this. His entire story alluded the biblical story of Abraham and his son Issac (sorry I m just sticking with the Christian version here, I know some people call it Ishmael),


Sorry to interrupt, this is my pedant: everyone thinks Abraham (Ibrihim) had two sons: an older named Ishmael by his handmaiden Helga, and a younger Isaac by his wife Sarah. The difference of opinion is that Arabs (and I mean Arabs, not Muslims; this belief predates Islam, but didn't get big until afterwards) believe that Ishmael was the one God asked Abraham to sacrifice, whereas Jews (and Christians) hold it was Isaac.

Continuing on,

where God intervened and sent an angel to stop the killing at the last moment when Abraham's weapon almost penetrated his son's body. But in Night Elie felt that he was actually the one doing the killing -- to his father -- and that he technically caused his father's death because of the things he didn't do. Thus it's a big reverse on God's promise, to Elie the world was upside down.

So in order for me to understand this further, I want to know more about how the Jewish community interpret or just general deal with Holocaust related issues today.


Okay, in general, in the American Jewish community, the views of the Holocaust fall into a bunch of difference viewpoints. A lot of people think that God had nothing at all to do with it; this springs from either straight atheism, or a belief in a passive god (see: Deism).

Of those who did believe that God caused it or let it happen or whatever, there are a few views. As I said earlier, a lot of very, very conservative (as in the word, not as in the Conservative Movement) feel that God was punishing us for straying.

A lot of hardcore Zionists feel that the Holocaust was necessary for the founding of the State of Israel, pointing out that the British waffled around granting independence until it was essentially a fait accompli; this was possible only because of the massive immigration to Palestine that the Holocaust (and the creation of several million Jewish refugees their home countries largely wouldn't take back) caused.

One other common but often unspoken view is rather more cynical. A lot of Jews believe, half-jokingly, that the Jews are, yes, God's chosen people. Chose to suffer, that is. Jews are probably the second most persecuted group in Western history after the Roma, and even then, Jews have been at it for longer. I mean, the First and Second Diasporas, the Purim business, the Crusades (which killed a lot of Jews), the Inquisition...even without the Holocaust, Jews have gotten the pointy end of the stick. A lot of Jews joke around talking about a god that is inherent malevolent, counter to common wisdom. Also, much more commonly, there's a whole "Contract Violation" thing; I mean, we circumcise our sons for three millennia, and in return we get: nothing? What happened to

You shall be the father of a horde of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram. Your name shall become Abraham, for I have set you up as the father of a horde of nations. I will increase your numbers very, very much, and I will make you into nations — kings will be your descendants. I will sustain My covenant between Me and between you and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant; I will be a God to you and to your offspring after you. To you and your offspring I will give the land where you are now living as a foreigner. The whole land of Canaan shall be [your] eternal heritage, and I will be a God to [your descendants].


I mean, "horde of nations"? "Kings will be your descendants"? The Onion did an article a few years back about a group of rabbis trying to sue god for contract violation, but most Jews I know reacted with a "Haha...I was only serious," sort of reaction.

Mostly? The moral a lot of Jews took away from it is that God can't be counted on. That's actually a lot of where the Zionist movement comes from; God never really got around to giving us Canaan, so we'll take it for ourselves, thank you.

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Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:18 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:But to celebrate the opportunity or the good thing prematurely, without taking into account that the only reason the opportunity existed for good people to do good things was because of this huge, evil thing... That's idiotic.

Just so we're clear, you're again misinterpreting to suit your argument. This is really only important because of...

Anpheus wrote:It seems to me 22/7 that in multiple topics you take a point of view and stick to your guns by intentionally misinterpreting people and slightly changing your argument.

Just because we disagree, doesn't mean that you're right. Just because I disagree with different people across the board, doesn't mean that I'm wrong. The "slightly changing your argument" bit I can only assume has to do with me clarifying my initial statements, and probably also at least partly has to do with me deciding to argue different things as they come up, or alter my argument based on what's been presented. No offense, but only an idiot wouldn't change their argument as new information arose.

Anpheus wrote:For the record, formal American writing is a dialect like any other and it very slowly shifts. If you look at formal texts and orations from two hundred years ago in the US, you will see mannerisms that are no longer present. There's a reason for that. Hence, language, even the definition of a formal lanugage, changes over time. QED.

Learn the definition of QED (and strawman) before using them. Also try reading my posts in *ANOTHER THREAD* about these to note that I never said that language does not change.

Anpheus wrote:Likewise, my argument was never meant to say, "These brave soldiers who gave their lives fighting Hitler, those brave individuals in Germany who were willing to give their live saving Jews and other minorities from the camps... their actions were not good." Of course they were.

But those people were strong-willed and courageous without a Holocaust. The Holocaust didn't cause people to do good things, it presented an opportunity for good people to do what they do best. The Holocaust... didn't cause anything good itself. GOOD PEOPLE caused GOOD THINGS. The Holocaust was caused by very evil people, and it was a very evil thing. And we can not say anything good came of the Holocaust. No good came of it. Period. Stop arguing on this, because I'm going to be an immovable rock on this and you are not an infinite force nor do you possess the requisite infinitely long lever to shift my position. Good people caused good things around the circumstances of the Holocaust... But the Holocaust cannot be held as being good in anyway.

Hey look, you're changing your argument.

Anpheus wrote:I refuse to budge on this, because I feel it ethically unsound to believe otherwise. If you believe that good came of the holocaust, would you, if you were given the opportunity to commit an atrocious, evil act, and were under the impression that it would create an opportunity for even greater good, that is, you believed the good could outweigh the bad, would you take that opportunity to commit an evil act? Would you do something so vile if you truly believed that you could create more good as a result? Do the ends justify the means?

Your ethical beliefs shock me, 22/7, if you think the Holocaust caused or brought good of any kind into the world. The good people whose were embroiled in the circumstances of the Holocaust were already good, were already here... The Holocaust merely brought an opportunity to do something different that was good, but you cannot say that the Holocaust caused or brought good. It's tantamount to congratulating Hitler on allowing the brave soldiers who fought against him to do so.

You shock me, Anpheus, if you truly believe that something that lasted for as long as it did brought forth 100% evil and 0% good. Let me ask you something, and this is in a completely different vein. If you and I are driving along the highway, and I swerve violently into your lane, and you then also swerve violently (to avoid hitting me) and get pulled over by a cop who claims you were "driving recklessly," is that your fault, or was it mine? Or would you say that we both played our part, since you were simply reacting to a dangerous situation that I created and were trying to avoid an accident?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby zar » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:26 pm UTC

I don't really see what the point is in arguing that some few people may have benefited in some tiny way from the holocaust. So what?

"Ah, 6 million Jews dead, but maybe, someone, somewhere, benefited some tiny extent. Therefore, it makes sense that an all-loving, all-powerful God let the holocaust happen." I'll assume that you aren't making such a ridiculous argument.

The point doesn't have anything to do with how one can rationalize it, and you just seem to be going off on an irrelevant issue.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:35 pm UTC

zar wrote:I don't really see what the point is in arguing that some few people may have benefited in some tiny way from the holocaust. So what?

"Ah, 6 million Jews dead, but maybe, someone, somewhere, benefited some tiny extent. Therefore, it makes sense that an all-loving, all-powerful God let the holocaust happen." I'll assume that you aren't making such a ridiculous argument.

The point doesn't have anything to do with how one can rationalize it, and you just seem to be going off on an irrelevant issue.

We were mostly dispelling the misconception that "nothing positive/good ever came from the Holocaust, evar." Many good points to the contrary (see, creation of Israel) have already been made, and no, none of us have ever said anything along the lines of "it's ok that a shit-ton of Jews died because it benefited someone else," regardless of what someone else might tell you.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby mosc » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:00 pm UTC

I'm reminded of a religious response to 9/11 from Bishop Spong. I will paraphrase the hell out of this but, essentially, he said "the notion of a god sitting on high micro-managing existence ended on 9/11. No hand descended from the clouds and stopped those airplanes from hitting the World Trade Centers. No higher purpose could be worth such a cost to sit idly by. A new interpretation must be used where god is our conscience and inspiration, not our protector."

Although a Christian, he's well past liberal. Regardless, I think his views point to a similar response most Jews feel with the holocaust. The concept of "Moses's God" or a god of prophets and miracles is largely rejected in all but the most fundamental branches of Judaism.

EDIT: Minchandre is right though, that's nothing new. Mainstream Jews have been best described as agnostic (or something even more nebulous) for most of the modern era.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:22 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
zar wrote:I don't really see what the point is in arguing that some few people may have benefited in some tiny way from the holocaust. So what?

"Ah, 6 million Jews dead, but maybe, someone, somewhere, benefited some tiny extent. Therefore, it makes sense that an all-loving, all-powerful God let the holocaust happen." I'll assume that you aren't making such a ridiculous argument.

The point doesn't have anything to do with how one can rationalize it, and you just seem to be going off on an irrelevant issue.

We were mostly dispelling the misconception that "nothing positive/good ever came from the Holocaust, evar." Many good points to the contrary (see, creation of Israel) have already been made, and no, none of us have ever said anything along the lines of "it's ok that a shit-ton of Jews died because it benefited someone else," regardless of what someone else might tell you.


So, again, if you were given the opportunity to commit an unspeakably evil act but were told that it would create the opportunity for other, good people, to do immense good, good acts that would dwarf the evil by an enormous amount. That is, if you were told you could become a person to which Hitler is contrasted to in a good way, but the good acts that would come of it would make Gandhi look like he's pro-war, would you do it?

The Holocaust didn't cause any good things, it gave people the opportunity to do good things.

Holocaust: The mass murder of over six million Jews and other minorities in Germany and surrounding countries over a several year period.

The good: Where the fuck is the good in killing six million people after letting the majority all but starve to death in camps where they were treated as worthless, inhuman scum by captors who might actually be described as worthless, inhuman scum?
The bad: See above.
The ugly: We didn't even believe it was happening until Germany was on its last legs and Hitler had probably already begun contemplating suicide.

Now, throughout the Holocaust and the surrounding war, people, good people did good things, helped each other out, risked their lives for others. The Holocaust didn't cause any of those good things, it merely gave those people the backdrop and the circumstances in which they could make those choices. The Holocaust gave people the opportunity, the choice to be good. It didn't cause good, no good came out of it, good came out of the actions of people in those circumstances.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:27 pm UTC

Try this one on for size, since everything you just said was the same stuff you've been saying and it was still directed towards me.
22/7 wrote:You shock me, Anpheus, if you truly believe that something that lasted for as long as it did brought forth 100% evil and 0% good. Let me ask you something, and this is in a completely different vein. If you and I are driving along the highway, and I swerve violently into your lane, and you then also swerve violently (to avoid hitting me) and get pulled over by a cop who claims you were "driving recklessly," is that your fault, or was it mine? Or would you say that we both played our part, since you were simply reacting to a dangerous situation that I created and were trying to avoid an accident?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:54 pm UTC

You did a wrong thing, I did a wrong thing, and it is the job of the officer and the courts to determine the punishments. If for whatever reason your car mysteriously vanishes along with the skid marks and the cop is ignorant to the circumstances, then, well, even I can't defend myself in a court of law.

I would say your actions gave me the choice to swerve or not to swerve, and I would choose your life and mine to be more important than to be stubborn and continue driving in a straight line. You likely caused my choices to consist of "kill you and die" or "get a ticket," but you didn't force me to do either. That said, the choice would be obvious for me!
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Felgraf » Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:31 am UTC

It happened because people were able to think of other people as things. That is, I think, where most 'evil' starts. Once you start thinking of another person (or yourself) not as a living human, but as a thing, whether it be to 'help', to 'use', to 'destroy', or some other reason, you start down a dark, dark path. Because once you can stop thinking of another person as 'human', it's not nearly as hard for you to do horrible things to them. Once you can seperate people into an 'us' and a 'them', you can, generally, convince the 'us' to do quite a lot of despicable things to the 'them'.
(Yes, it was a Pratchett book that made me realize this.)

From a religious perspective (not that I necessarily believe this, but it's an interesting argument:) Why should any God save us from what we can fix ourselves? If we simply think of other people as people, and treat them as such, many problems would fade away.

But we all too often think of others as a 'them', a 'them' to take from, a 'them' to make cheap clothing for us, a 'them' who are harming 'us'. 'They' aren't human, they're animals! We need to control 'them'! Or Destroy 'them', before 'they' destroy 'us'!

Heh, I've seen some people argue that Jesus's 'kingdom of heaven' is simply a world where people see each other as people. What was that quote again? "The kingdom of heaven is among you, but you do not see it!", or something like that? I've seen some argue that he means that we all already have the ability to bring about the 'Kingdom of Heaven', but we, as a whole, have not done so.

Eh. This went on longer than I thought, sorry.

(For the record, my religious beliefs are somewhat.. complicated. "Christian Agnostic" might be a good way to describe it, but I'm not sure if even *that* fits...)
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby zar » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:20 am UTC

Felgraf wrote:From a religious perspective (not that I necessarily believe this, but it's an interesting argument:) Why should any God save us from what we can fix ourselves? If we simply think of other people as people, and treat them as such, many problems would fade away.

But we all too often think of others as a 'them', a 'them' to take from, a 'them' to make cheap clothing for us, a 'them' who are harming 'us'. 'They' aren't human, they're animals! We need to control 'them'! Or Destroy 'them', before 'they' destroy 'us'!

Heh, I've seen some people argue that Jesus's 'kingdom of heaven' is simply a world where people see each other as people. What was that quote again? "The kingdom of heaven is among you, but you do not see it!", or something like that? I've seen some argue that he means that we all already have the ability to bring about the 'Kingdom of Heaven', but we, as a whole, have not done so.

I would expect a god to save us from "what we can fix for ourselves" the same reason I expect people who are capable of stopping atrocities to try to stop them. We hold people to a certain moral standard, and surly a god should be held to at least as high a standard. If we are obligated to try to stop evil where we see it, it seems reasonable to expect, at the very least, the same thing from a god.

Furthermore, if a father (an analogy to god that Christians are so fond of) has two sons who are beating each other to death, he doesn't sit back with his hands in his pockets because it would be nice if they could figure it out themselves. No, he steps in a stops them before someone dies or gets too seriously injured. Again, I don't see why such a thing would be unreasonable to expect from God the Father.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Felgraf » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:26 am UTC

zar wrote:
Felgraf wrote:From a religious perspective (not that I necessarily believe this, but it's an interesting argument:) Why should any God save us from what we can fix ourselves? If we simply think of other people as people, and treat them as such, many problems would fade away.

But we all too often think of others as a 'them', a 'them' to take from, a 'them' to make cheap clothing for us, a 'them' who are harming 'us'. 'They' aren't human, they're animals! We need to control 'them'! Or Destroy 'them', before 'they' destroy 'us'!

Heh, I've seen some people argue that Jesus's 'kingdom of heaven' is simply a world where people see each other as people. What was that quote again? "The kingdom of heaven is among you, but you do not see it!", or something like that? I've seen some argue that he means that we all already have the ability to bring about the 'Kingdom of Heaven', but we, as a whole, have not done so.

I would expect a god to save us from "what we can fix for ourselves" the same reason I expect people who are capable of stopping atrocities to try to stop them. We hold people to a certain moral standard, and surly a god should be held to at least as high a standard. If we are obligated to try to stop evil where we see it, it seems reasonable to expect, at the very least, the same thing from a god.

Furthermore, if a father (an analogy to god that Christians are so fond of) has two sons who are beating each other to death, he doesn't sit back with his hands in his pockets because it would be nice if they could figure it out themselves. No, he steps in a stops them before someone dies or gets too seriously injured. Again, I don't see why such a thing would be unreasonable to expect from God the Father.


*Shrugs* I suppose it could depend on what sort of view you take. If humans are thought to be the 'Children of God', then, theoretically, we are supposed to follow in God's footsteps (perhaps even rise to God's level, or surpasss Him/her/it, like all hope their children shall do), and you cannot shelter your child forever, or they will never grow into a functioning adult.

Then there's the fun argument of if we're supposed to have free will, but God/A God/whatever prevents any bad thing from every happening to us (and thus robbing our choices of any consequences), do we then have free will?

I dunno. Half this stuff seems to depend on what view you have, or what religious or moral axioms you hold to.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:32 am UTC

zar, if you consider humanity as God's children, and Jesus as his son, then nope, he doesn't intervene.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby zar » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:33 am UTC

We cannot follow god's footsteps if we're dead. At the very least shouldn't he step in to stop people from being killed? And could you ever morally justify letting one child of yours kill another? All I'm suggesting is that a god, at the very least, be held to the same standards that we petty, flawed, humans hold ourselves to.

I've already addressed the freedom issue, but I'll quote it here so you don't need to look for it:
zar wrote:The free-will response never made much sense to me. It seems to be reasoning that because god wants us to be free, he will never interfere with our actions. But often times people take away the freedom of other people and he is nowhere to be seen. God seems to be sitting back and letting the Nazis be free while neglecting to care about the freedom of the Jews being sent to concentration camps.

And we too care about freedom, but we also recognize that we have an obligation to help preserve the freedom of people being oppressed, even if it takes away choice from the oppressor. If a person is trying to rape someone, we don't sit back and say "we must let the rapist be free to decide." No, we get help, or try to stop it ourselves. We are morally obligated to try to stop such heinous acts. Why does god not have the same moral obligation?

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Malice » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:00 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:The Holocaust didn't cause any good things, it gave people the opportunity to do good things.


Those aren't the only examples, though. The creation of Israel has been brought up as one positive effect.

I will now outline another. Please don't immediately call me a horrible person.

To start with, I am not glad that six million Jews, and millions of other assorted "undesirables" were mistreated and then killed.

But I am glad the Holocaust happened. Hang on.

I am glad that the worst possible event happened. I am glad that it happened when it happened, so that we can, if we like, still hear the testimony of survivors; and so that we could record that testimony on film.

The Holocaust is an extreme example, and as such it is useful. It is a clear example, with little to no room for justification or mitigation. It is a simple thing to point to as an answer when you ask questions like:

-What happens if totalitarianism is not checked?
-What happens if racism is tolerated or even encouraged?
-What happens when everybody follows orders unquestioningly?
-What happens when you take what you have for granted?

Sometimes faith needs to be shaken and questions need to be asked.

The Holocaust, among other things, is a deadly warning, a terrible inspiration to never let it happen again. It taught us the folly of many things.

To give a clear example: Hitler was able to perpetrate the Holocaust because he rose to power. He was able to rise to power in part because of the economic situation in Germany at the time, which had the populace afraid and eager to find a scapegoat, which became the Jews. The economic situation arose directly as a result of the punitive damages brought against Germany at the end of World War I.
Therefore, the Holocaust drove home the importance of not being a vindictive winner. Without that lesson, we might not have rebuilt Japan after the war. Not only would that have left a ruined, broke, resentful Japan ripe soil for a new Hitler to grow and eventually (in the age of atomic weapons) perpetrate an even worse holocaust; but without our efforts to rehabilitate Japan's economy, infrastructure, and society, Japan would almost certainly not be the economic, technological, and artistic giant it is today, and our lives would be very different, if not worse off.

Personally, I'm glad an event like the Holocaust happened, because it makes life and history more interesting; although the events themselves sadden and sicken me just as much as they do you or anyone else. Maybe you can't understand that; maybe you don't want to.

The Holocaust works as a useful extreme example, like I said before, but it would work nearly as well had, say, 3 million Jews died instead of six. It may be the worst thing that has ever been done; certainly the worst in living memory, the most blatant and undeserved. What can you do, in the face of that? Throw up your hands, or learn from it?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:02 am UTC

Your post would be meaningful to me if you thought history didn't repeat itself and if leaders didn't learn from the failures that came before them.

But as it is, right now the US and other western societies are moving towards totalitarianism/authoritarianism again.

Sadly, no amount of "Look how terrible this is! No one would ever do that again!" will make me believe it can't happen again.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby yoni45 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:14 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:The Holocaust didn't cause any good things, it gave people the opportunity to do good things.


The two are not mutually exclusive.

Think of it this way: if even one person, who upon hearing of the holocaust and what occurred in the holocaust, somehow reacted positively to the information (say, suicidal individual becomes dissuaded from suicide, since he now values life much more), then that it something 'good' that the holocaust caused.

Regardless of how minute that 'something' might be, it's still *some* good.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:24 am UTC

You have to understand that there is a reason I take the point of view that I do: I have an ethical philosophy that does not permit "doing evil in order to cause good."

The simplest way to follow through with it is to believe that no matter the circumstances, we cause our own choices, and that doing massive amounts of evil, while it may give people the opportunity to do good, perhaps even greater good, that in no way justifies the evil, because all I have done is given the opportunity, the probability that it would occur. Likewise, had Hitler won WW2, the Holocaust likely would have swept the world like wildfire as he whipped conquered people into believing his own perverse view of aryan domination. It's improbable, yes, but still possible.

I cannot view any act or set of actions that does not force a decision, or directly cause it, to cause another will's act or set of actions. I believe the buck stops when you get to what other people are doing. Hitler was inherently evil, and capable of convincing other people to carry out his plans. The people who performed those plans were given the choice, and they are likewise evil for doing so. The net effect of all these actions to kill millions of Jewish people, that is evil too, that is a set of actions performed by thousands of German soldiers and people. The buck stops there. When I talk of what the Holocaust caused, I refer to what is explicitly defined in the term Holocaust: the mass-murder of millions. The Holocaust did not cause people to take up arms against it, that was their choice. The Holocaust did not cause people to try and save other people's lives, that, too, was their choice. The Holocaust cannot be said to cause the actions of the soldiers participating in it because that definition is circular (we are defining the Holocaust as their actions,) and it cannot describe the actions of the soldiers fighting Germany, because even those who were aware of it in the final stages of the German theatre campaign, were driven by their beliefs and convictions, also choices, to fight harder against an enemy who was capable of such atrocities.

The Holocaust was inherently evil, and that's where we stop. We don't refer to what people did around it, or what other people chose to do because* of the circumstances.

* I do note that I used the word because, but we are referring to their choices here, which means if you choose to take issue with the use of the word because to mean 'it caused their choice,' you'd be using a false dilemma. There are more options than "the Holocaust caused nothing" and "the Holocaust caused the set of all events that occurred afterward." The Holocaust merely caused the circumstances and to lesser degree the choices available, though I would suggest that the sheer number of choices and entities involved precludes us from attributing a singular cause to any of them, but it did not force anyone to make any decision.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:28 am UTC

Your definition is cheapening it up.

Nothing good came out of me stubbing my toe on a rock. I may have learned to bloody look where I'm going and notice stuff underfoot, but that was my decision. Other people may have laughed at the idiot not looking where he's going and it made their day, but that's also their choice. Therefore, stubbing a toe is 100% evil.

The common definition of measuring evil by all consequences (which I adopt too), has the Holocaust at about 99.9% evil and 0.1% good, and stubbing a toe at much, much less evil than that. That's why we remember the Holocaust, and forget about the toe on the next day.

Your definition puts them both at 100%.

PS: What I described here is actually wrong, but it may take you some time to understand why exactly. My example above lacks quantification, just like your approach. The sensible way is to measure the amount of evil, rather than percentage.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:36 am UTC

If I stub my toe on a rock and you see it happen, is it the same thing?

The common definition of measuring evil by all consequences (which I adopt too), has the Holocaust at about 99.9% evil and 0.1% good, and stubbing a toe at much, much less evil than that. That's why we remember the Holocaust, and forget about the toe on the next day.

Your definition puts them both at 100%.


I think you're making an unwarranted accusation there. My ethical philosophy doesn't take into account a 'measure of evil' because I think it's ridiculous to expect any theory to come up with a value of human life... or a value of your toe. Do I think that killing six million people is more evil than stubbing your toe? Absolutely. Does you stubbing your toe change who you are? Yes. Does stubbing your toe change who I am? Or the people around you? Not particularly. And it is still their choice to take note of it and affect their lives or to ignore it and move on. To a lesser degree, you can even move on in life and ignore stubbing your toe. You will likely even totally forget about it (I... think your cerebellum won't, it's a fancy neural network for learning how to not stub toes.)

I don't even think stubbing your toe is that evil, really, I mean, if you stubbed your own toe... you're just a poor schmoe. If you took a hammer and hit one of my toes, I'd say you're malicious, but probably not bad enough to consider evil.

I think we're really diluting the meaning of the word evil when we consider anything to be bad to be evil.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:45 am UTC

And that's exactly the problem here... without quantification, you can't really claim one thing is worse than other. You *need* quantification to supplement your philosophy.

Also, replace stubbing a toe with a boy throwing a snowball at me. Clearly malicious intent here, it hurt, and it knocked off my glasses, which broke. 100% evil.

Now, there are two approaches - seeing every evil thing as 100% evil and then quantifying it (that's what you've been doing), or analyzing everything including consequences and quantifying the evil you find there (that what I've been doing). We end up with the same result.

I feel that my approach is more encompassing - I get to see more information. You can only say "the total evil value is X", while I have "Y% of the situation is evil, and the total evil value is X".
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:50 am UTC

It was mean, sure, but I, at least, am not talking about quantifying good and bad acts. You're kind of sidetracking an already minutely off-topic debate on the nature of the Holocaust (have we invoked Godwin's Law enough here?) and bringing in a different discussion.

My position: The holocaust did not cause good, nor did good come out of it.

Your position: I think everything that is bad is 100% pure evil.

I don't even know where you're going with the whole X% of something is evil, quantifying evil is fruitless (you'll always be able to find something more or less evil) and even then, I think it's really beside the point. Is something that's X% evil also... 100-X% good?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:02 am UTC

Please read my posts again. My position is not "everything that is bad is 100% pure evil", I'm trying to show that your position is.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:03 am UTC

I'm sorry, I made a pronoun error. Your position is that you think my position is that everything is 100% evil.

It is not.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:06 am UTC

Then please explain how anything evil is not 100% evil by your definition, if you only take the evil parts when analyzing it.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:09 am UTC

I'm saying that an act is either good or bad, but I'm not bothering with quantifying it. In fact, we can even say that an act is inherently blurry and there may be different views, quantizations, that differ on whether something is good or bad.

That's all irrelevant to my views. I don't assign weightings to the value of a life or my toe except, "I think one thing is worse than the other."

My views however are that if something is bad, it is bad. Whether or not you choose to make something good of it is your choice.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby yoni45 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:06 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:I cannot view any act or set of actions that does not force a decision, or directly cause it, to cause another will's act or set of actions.


Going back to the case of Jimmy - verge of suicide, but upon discovery of holocaust, and the horrors thereof, decides he should not go through with it.

That is 'directly caused' by the Holocaust.

Anpheus wrote:I believe the buck stops when you get to what other people are doing.


Why? There is absolutely no rational reason for doing that if you are discussing whether or not any of the effects of a given event were positive.

If you were discussing the intent of the holocaust, that might be appropriate. But you're not - and if you're discussing whether or not there were any positive effects to an event, then you have to take into account all such effects - not just the ones you cherry-picked.

Anpheus wrote:When I talk of what the Holocaust caused, I refer to what is explicitly defined in the term Holocaust: the mass-murder of millions.


I've already mentioned this, but I just wanted to highlight this point: this is essentially where your argument falls apart. When what is being discussed is 'what the Holocaust caused', you would not simply refer to what is explicitly defined in the term (that would be discussing whether the idea or goals of the Holocaust were evil, not the actual event), but to anything that the event would have caused.

Think of the flip side: say I have a science experiment in which I'm trying to create a perpetual motion machine to help the world with it's energy problems. We'll call it Experiment X. As part of Experiment X, something goes wrong, and it (completely unpredictably) causes the equivalent of a nuclear explosion, obliterating a good chunk of a major city.

By your logic, Experiment X had absolutely no negative effects whatsoever, because the *definition* of Experiment X was that of an experiment to aid the world in meeting its energy demands, which is essentially positive.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:30 am UTC

First, let me say that this piecemeal argumentative style is annoying and I refuse to engage in quoting little tidbits of your post and then respond to them with bulks of text in greater quantity. It's pretty easy to show that if we kept doing that we'd have some sort of exponential curve describing the volume of our posts or we'd have to start ignoring vast quantities of information posted in order to keep the discussion going. It's poor form, I stopped doing it because it doesn't do anything except let you weasel out of counterarguments, and it shouldn't be permitted in Serious Business. A mod will decide if you continue to keep doing it whether or not it's considered OK, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm telling you not to do it so long as I participate.

You quoted three sentences of my text and responded with a dozen. How about you respond to my entire post with a roughly equal exchange?

That said I'd be doing my position an injustice to ignore your post, and I'll respond just once to that style:

Little Jimmy is, first of all, the only person who decides what Little Jimmy does. While it is colloquial to say, "The holocaust caused Little Jimmy to reconsider committing suicide," it is not correct. You are confusing real evidence for an act with circumstantial evidence for an act. Real evidence: Little Jimmy chose not to kill himself. Circumstantial evidence: Earlier that day, Little Jimmy enjoyed a candy bar given to him by Little Susie, who he now has a Little Crush on. Also, he watched a documentary on The History Channel about The Holocaust, showing him the horrors of war and the lengths people would go to stop senseless death. His mom baked him cookies. His homework assignment was easy. ... Did all of those things cause Little Jimmy's decision? No. We can no more attribute to the Holocaust Little Jimmy's change of heart than we can his new crush on Little Susie or the smell and taste of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. We cannot ascribe to the Holocaust an integer value in the set {0,1} whether or not it caused Little Jimmy to not commit suicide. Can we attribute to it a rational value in [0,1]? Also no, because we have an uncountable number of things happening to Little Jimmy over the course of his life and before it to contribute to who Jimmy is. All of these things play a role in who he is, we can ascribe to no single event Little Jimmy's actions. You are just as much guilty of cherry picking events as you think I am if you are going to say The Holocaust caused one thing. If you want to say such things in an English writing assignment, go ahead. If you're going to talk philosophy, we have to start defining things a little more rigidly than what everyone rather flippantly says about the world around them. Otherwise we're sure to run afoul of any of an enormous number of different manners of speech and poorly clarified meanings.

And lastly, as we love to construct straw men with which to attack each other's beliefs (I swear, it's the modus operandi here, though I'm probably already guilty of it a dozen times:)
yoni45* wrote:Think of the flip side: say I have a science experiment in which I'm trying to create a perpetual motion machine to help the world with it's energy problems. We'll call it Experiment X. As part of Experiment X, something goes wrong, and it (completely unpredictably) causes the equivalent of a nuclear explosion, obliterating a good chunk of a major city.

By your logic, Experiment X had absolutely no negative effects whatsoever, because the *definition* of Experiment X was that of an experiment to aid the world in meeting its energy demands, which is essentially positive.

I'm sorry, did your experiment kill millions of people? Did those people choose to die at the same moment your machine's blast radius expanded to include their soon to be shriveled, burnt, irradiated and almost certainly lifeless body?

My beliefs are about the choices people make, not about the choices you make for them! If you kill someone, they did not choose to die the moment the bullet impacted their brain stem, it was a foregone conclusion at this point that they would live no more. You however are quite evil, as you chose to use a will-less instrument to kill another with. If you had gone the rather circuitous route of ordering someone with a gun to kill someone, you are guilty by association and for using your authority to do so. If you had gone the even more circuitous route of ordering a general to order his subordinate officers to order his subordinate officers to order his lieutenants to order his foot soldiers to round up all the jews and take them to camps where they will await eventual extermination, well, you are still guilty of masterminding and ordering others to carry out the greatest atrocity of all time, even if Hitler never personally injured one of those people, we can still say, "Aha! He's still an evil, scheming bastard manipulating the people around him to do his bidding, which was to kill millions of people and orchestrate a fruitless war that would leave Europe embittered and enfeebled."

* I am OK with you quoting thought experiments that I posit and responding to them, but no more of this single-sentence out-of-context quoting bullshit.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby yoni45 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:57 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:First, let me say that this piecemeal argumentative style is annoying and I refuse to engage in quoting little tidbits of your post and then respond to them with bulks of text in greater quantity. It's pretty easy to show that if we kept doing that we'd have some sort of exponential curve describing the volume of our posts or we'd have to start ignoring vast quantities of information posted in order to keep the discussion going...You quoted three sentences of my text and responded with a dozen. How about you respond to my entire post with a roughly equal exchange?


Although this may happen (naturally, the more questionable details pop up, the more ground would need to be covered with each subsequent post), you're assuming that I only respond to what I quote.

The reason I quote, is to highlight certain parts of your argument, to make it clear, that it is that part of the argument to which I am responding. That does not mean that I ignore any and all surrounding context - if you note that I ignored surrounding context which somehow ended up twisting the meaning of the quoted words, feel free to call me on it.

If you're truly against this form of response, then simply ignore the quoted text.

Anpheus wrote:Little Jimmy is, first of all, the only person who decides what Little Jimmy does. While it is colloquial to say, "The holocaust caused Little Jimmy to reconsider committing suicide," it is not correct. You are confusing real evidence for an act with circumstantial evidence for an act. Real evidence: Little Jimmy chose not to kill himself. Circumstantial evidence: Earlier that day, Little Jimmy enjoyed a candy bar given to him by Little Susie, who he now has a Little Crush on. Also, he watched a documentary on The History Channel about The Holocaust, showing him the horrors of war and the lengths people would go to stop senseless death. His mom baked him cookies. His homework assignment was easy. ... Did all of those things cause Little Jimmy's decision? No...


You're presupposing here that we do not necessarily know that the holocaust was what impacted Jimmy's decision.

As far as this thought experiment is concerned, we do know that. Feel free to adjust it to other circumstances, such as Jimmy staying home from school solely because he was really interested in reading more about the Holocaust (no other subject could have possibly interested him enough to keep him home from school that day), and a bomb went off in his class, during one of the lessons (Jimmy is very studious and never takes bathroom breaks, his school is very strict and never provides unscheduled breaks, and the explosion was big enough to obliterate a city block).

Furthermore, this is an appeal to ignorance: you're assuming that just because we don't know that it was the holocaust that caused Jimmy's change of mind, that it necessarily didn't. If you're not assuming that, then you're leaving open the possibility that it was the holocaust that caused his change of mind, and therefore, that the holocaust could have had at least some positive outcomes.

Anpheus wrote:I'm sorry, did your experiment kill millions of people? Did those people choose to die at the same moment your machine's blast radius expanded to include their soon to be shriveled, burnt, irradiated and almost certainly lifeless body?


Yes, and no. Rather similar to the holocaust in that regard. I'm not sure of the point of this?

Anpheus wrote:My beliefs are about the choices people make, not about the choices you make for them! If you kill someone, they did not choose to die the moment the bullet impacted their brain stem, it was a foregone conclusion at this point that they would live no more. You however are quite evil, as you chose to use a will-less instrument to kill another with. If you had gone the rather circuitous route of ordering someone with a gun to kill someone, you are guilty by association and for using your authority to do so. If you had gone the even more circuitous route of ordering a general to order his subordinate officers to order his subordinate officers to order his lieutenants to order his foot soldiers to round up all the jews and take them to camps where they will await eventual extermination, well, you are still guilty of masterminding and ordering others to carry out the greatest atrocity of all time, even if Hitler never personally injured one of those people, we can still say, "Aha! He's still an evil, scheming bastard manipulating the people around him to do his bidding, which was to kill millions of people and orchestrate a fruitless war that would leave Europe embittered and enfeebled."


I'll be honest (it could be just me, it's rather late) - but I don't see the relevance?

We already know Hitler was evil, and each of your other examples is also clearly evil - agreed.

I don't see how *I* am evil (assuming I'm the guy running experiment X), considering I never chose *any* instrument to kill anyone with - the explosion was completely accidental and unpredictable, while my intentions were pure.

But even so, all of this is completely irrelevant to the argument at hand. We're not arguing nor discussing the 'evil vs. good' status of the individuals behind all this stuff. What's at question here, is whether or not the events in question could have possibly resulted in any positive effects.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:06 am UTC

The crux of this discussion seems to be absolute values and the question of whether you really can assign them to anything.

Is killing someone without their consent always 100% evil? Does it matter if they are a really bad person? If one of the troopers in the post above, instead of following orders, killed the lieutenant and deserted, is that 100% evil too?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:19 pm UTC

I told you Yoni, I'm not going to deal with piecemeal arguments where you break my post up into easily digested chunks that can be taken apart from the whole meaning. I've done it on countless other forums ad nauseum. Not here where I want to have a serious debate.

Rephrase your responses in the form of paragraphs that have, ideally, topic sentences, supporting statements, you can even through in a few sentence fractures if you want. Hell if I care.

But you will respond in a way that you make a cohesive argument instead of simply quoting me and saying "Oh no, here's where you're wrong on this, and that, and this and that," without taking into account my whole post which usually has all sorts of little notes that I write in it to try and clarify my actual position if I feel the language I initially used doesn't fully describe it.

Reply again or edit your post please so that it meets those criteria, I'm tired of dealing with people's arguments because they can't quote people properly and outright refuse to argue against the meaning of someone's post, and instead try to pick apart the language used.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby yoni45 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:34 pm UTC

I guess you chose to ignore what was actually written. Oh well, doesn't change much - if you need to be spoonfed, here you go:


You're presupposing here that we do not necessarily know that the holocaust was what impacted Jimmy's decision.

As far as this thought experiment is concerned, we do know that. Feel free to adjust it to other circumstances, such as Jimmy staying home from school solely because he was really interested in reading more about the Holocaust (no other subject could have possibly interested him enough to keep him home from school that day), and a bomb went off in his class, during one of the lessons (Jimmy is very studious and never takes bathroom breaks, his school is very strict and never provides unscheduled breaks, and the explosion was big enough to obliterate a city block).

Furthermore, this is an appeal to ignorance: you're assuming that just because we don't know that it was the holocaust that caused Jimmy's change of mind, that it necessarily didn't. If you're not assuming that, then you're leaving open the possibility that it was the holocaust that caused his change of mind, and therefore, that the holocaust could have had at least some positive outcomes.

Yes, and no to your questions. Rather similar to the holocaust in that regard. I'm not sure of the point of this?

I'll be honest (it could be just me, it's rather late) - but I don't see the relevance of the rest of your analysis of individual actions?

We already know Hitler was evil, and each of your other examples is also clearly evil - agreed.

I don't see how *I* am evil (assuming I'm the guy running experiment X), considering I never chose *any* instrument to kill anyone with - the explosion was completely accidental and unpredictable, while my intentions were pure.

But even so, all of this is completely irrelevant to the argument at hand. We're not arguing nor discussing the 'evil vs. good' status of the individuals behind all this stuff. What's at question here, is whether or not the events in question could have possibly resulted in any positive effects.
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