Tuesday, March 31, 2015

[PHI 3000] Love Thyself

The Western conception of God is that of an all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and morally perfect creator. Love is often said to be an essential part of this conception of God.

In the Old and New Testament, God issues the following commands that have to do with love:
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
If God wants us to love him and each other, which is consistent with the Western conception of God as a morally perfect being, it is rather puzzling that there are people who are incapable of loving others.




Why would God command us to love him and each other and then make some people (e.g., narcissists, psychopaths, etc.) incapable of obeying these commands?

13 comments:

  1. I think that God makes some people incapable of obeying his commands to love him and each other in order to show others and remind them to obey his command. We have the free will that God gave us to make decisions. Giving us an example of a person, like a narcissist, who doesn't obey God's commands encourages us to strive to love God and one another in the way that he wants us to. These people have the free will to try and change. Those who fall within the cultural norms are encourage to show narcissists love and compassion in order to help them to change and be more considerate of others and God. Without these people who deviate from the norm, we would not be able to recognize a difference between obeying God's commands and not obeying God's commands.

    -Danielle Martuscello

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    1. I am not sure that the notion of free will helps here. Narcissism and psychopathy are mental disorders. Even if we generally do have free will, having a mental disorder does not seem like the kind of thing we choose to have. Moreover, even if God does make some people narcissistic or psychopaths to teach us a lesson, it is not clear that they can simply change at will. Mental disorders require years of treatment and therapy, which does not always work.

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  2. God gave man the power of choice to choose whether or not he will obey the command of God. Some people think that this is Gods' way of being cruel to them. Some people simply deny the Word of God by assuming that it would be hateful for our loving God to put an path to death and damnation within man's reach. These people simply do not understand the tremendous opportunity bestowed to man, when God places the tree of knowledge into the Garden of Eden. The positive opportunity, which God placed within man's grasp, greatly outweighs the negative risks to man. Therefore, God did not create narcissists and psychopaths but peoples' own actions and choices forced them to do so. Because of this, God does not force such people to obey his commands since he did not create them.

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    1. The point is not that God forces people to obey his commands. Rather, the point is that some people are incapable of obeying God’s commands through no fault of their own. If this is correct, then that seems to cast some doubt on the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and morally perfect being (i.e., God). That is:

      P1. If there is a God that wants us to love him and each other, then there would be no people who are incapable of loving others.

      P2. There are people who are incapable of loving others (e.g., narcissists, psychopaths, etc.).

      C. Therefore, there is no God that wants us to love him and each other.

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  3. God command us to love him and each other and then make some people incapable of obeying these commands because His love is so great that he wants us to not only love Him and others, but also to accept others who does not value the same belief or moral principle as ourself. This is evident in the biblical teaching of "love your enemies" (Matt. 5. 44.). God wants His believers to love others and treat others as yourself even under the circumstance in which that person only loves himself.

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    1. So does that mean that God chooses some people to serve as "enemies" so that other people could enjoy the privilege of loving "enemies" and be rewarded for doing so? How does God choose who to reward and who to punish in this way? Did those who get to be "enemies" do something to deserve this fate?

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  4. God made man in his image. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them so that they were perfect. As soon as they committed the original sin (which is why I always argue that they were never perfect) evil came into existence on Earth. The reason why all this was able to happen was because of free will. Let’s take an example. If my mom tells me not to go shopping, those are just merely words. I have my money, I have internet access/ability to walk around, and so at the end of the day, if I want to go shopping, I will go shopping. The reason is because I have free will. God gave us his commandments. The government gives us sets of laws. Whether or not we choose not to obey is completely up to us. God wants us to love Him and each other in a free way. God doesn’t create people a certain way. People are born and develop certain characteristics based on genetics and the environment around them. Someone who is narcissistic isn’t like that because God created them that way. God did not create us all the way he created Adam and Eve. I believe that too many people take the phrase “God created mankind” too literally. God created Adam and Eve who were the start of mankind. Whether or not they were perfect is another debate.
    P1: God created Adam and Eve so that they could fill the world with other humans.
    P2: Adam and Eve and the rest of mankind have free will.
    P3: Adam and Eve committed original sin.
    C: God is not responsible for the way that human personalities are shaped.

    Ann-Aira Coffy

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    1. I am not sure that character traits are the sort of thing over which we have control. In particular, mental disorders, like narcissism and psychopathy, are not the kind of thing people can choose to have (or not have). Of course, to say that character traits are determined by genetics and environment is to say that we do NOT have control over them, given that we do not have control over our genetics and the environment in which we grow up. So I do not think that the notion of free will helps avoid the problem here, which is that the fact that there are people who are incapable of loving others is (on the face of it) some evidence against the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and morally perfect personal God.

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  5. Jacqueline ManciniApril 6, 2015 at 6:21 PM

    I believe that certain people face obstacles in their life, such as poverty, illness or tragedy that lead to difficulty in following God's commands. For example, someone who has experienced a great loss may not show as much care for others as they normally would. Great hardships also cause us to neglect the duties we have to our church and our community. I think that mental illnesses such as narcissism are another example of these obstacles. Some people may have to overcome their disorder through therapy and treatment before they can fully follow God's commands. Like all hardships in this world, it is difficult to explain why some people must suffer them and others do not.

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    1. Here's a survey of attempts to explain why God supposedly permits evil: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/#The

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  6. God commands us to love him and each other, but it's not his fault that some are incapable of obeying those commands. People aren't born as narcissists. It's something that people develop. I think that God should expect people to love and learn from one another. If we aren't doing a good job of that, then people can become narcissistic or develop some other type personality disorder. Narcissists often know the effect they have on others and realize their impact, but by this point in their lives, it doesn't bother them. I don't think that these types of people choose to be the way they are, but their environments have caused them to become this way. They have the ability to go to therapy and change their personalities, but it's possible that they don't find anything wrong with how they're acting. God expects us to love him and one another; if people did as he told them to, people with mental and personality disorders wouldn’t exist. Therefore, God didn’t create people who are incapable of loving others.

    -Marian Sato

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    1. Even if God did not create narcissists, he is supposed to be responsible for the (genetic and environmental) conditions that engender narcissism. After all, God is supposed to have dominion over everything (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/providence-divine/). So the question remains: why bring about such (genetic and environmental) conditions that make some people incapable of obeying the command to love others?

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  7. I can only see a few possible logical reactions to these questions.

    1) God is not real
    2) The Western Conception of God is Wrong
    - Our idea of moral is incorrect;
    - God is indifferent;
    - We are just test subjects in his playground etc...

    I can maybe slightly understand the perspective that God created these beings to remind us of the dangers or harm of being such a way, but that just seems cruel to me. Why would an all-loving God do such a thing? So, I believe this supports my belief that our conception of God is wrong or that he doesn't exist.

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