Immutability, Justice, and Mercy

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Immutability, Justice, and Mercy
GodChallanger
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 5:06 AM:
Subject: Immutability, Justice, and Mercy
God is described as an immutable (unchanging) being. Setting aside for the moment the problem of being able to start any task whatsoever while remaining unchanging, we will focus on his assigned attributes of mercy and justice. Because God is immutable any and all attributes of God must therefore also be immutable. For in claiming "God is" "God" is a tautology of his divine attributes. God is immutable if and only if God cannot change. It is logically impossible for an immutable being to change between two characteristics, while still being immutable. Therefore God is immutably just and immutably merciful. There is never a time when God is not merciful, and equally never a time when God is not just. This presents a serious problem however. A common definition of justice, especially for those who believe in the doctrine of Penal Substitution (Christ took the punishment for our sins) is impartially giving deserved punishment. Mercy is the antithesis of justice, by sparing one from deserved punishment. Therefore, whenever a being acts mercifully, it follows necessarily that his action is not just. In order for an immutable being to be both just and merciful, he must give deserved punishment, and equally spare deserved punishment, on all occasions equally. To give and spare deserved punishment at the same time is self-contradictory and therefore a logical impossibility. Therefore the existence of an immutable being who is both just and merciful as defined is logically impossible.

dclements
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 6:48 AM:

Whether 'God' exists is dependent on which God we are talking about. It is plausible that the God that atheist perceive does not exist, while at the same time the God that is defined by some theist does exist. Although the God that is often talked about can sound unreal, it is not a given that what we think we know about God is true. I not trying to argue that everyone 'ought' to believe in God, but instead that we may not know enough to know for certain if God exists and/or if the belief is useful even if it isn't 100% correct.
keda
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 9:03 AM:

GodChallanger wrote:

Mercy is the antithesis of justice

The anthithesis of justice is injustice, not mercy, but even if you define mercy as injustice, you'd be tilting at windmills without pointing at any theists who use your definition.
Soylent
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 9:43 AM:

keda wrote:

The anthithesis of justice is injustice, not mercy, but even if you define mercy as injustice, you'd be tilting at windmills without pointing at any theists who use your definition.


Isn't that how it always is? Theists claim to use a spooky theistic language to avoid the pitfalls of atheistic arguments. Surely there are some theists that hold such a definition of mercy and that would regard this argument as sufficient to either make them amend their definition or on a larger scale re-examine their conception of God.
keda
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 10:57 AM:

Soylent wrote:

Isn't that how it always is? Theists claim to use a spooky theistic language to avoid the pitfalls of atheistic arguments. Surely there are some theists that hold such a definition of mercy and that would regard this argument as sufficient to either make them amend their definition or on a larger scale re-examine their conception of God.

I don't see anything spooky about the definition of mercy theists use, nor anything atheistic about an argument that proves someone cannot both be just and injust at the same time. Equating "mercy" with "injustice" is what I find spooky.
GodChallanger
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 1:39 PM:

dclements wrote:
Whether 'God' exists is dependent on which God we are talking about.


This is why I took the time to define God as he is taught by Christians who hold the doctrine of Penal Substitution. It is true that this doesn't disprove all concepts of God, but it shows this concept of God as impossible.

keda wrote:

The anthithesis of justice is injustice, not mercy, but even if you define mercy as injustice, you'd be tilting at windmills without pointing at any theists who use your definition.


Mercy, as many would agree, is the sparing of a deserved punishment. The direct opposite of sparing deserved punishment is giving deserved punishment, which is what those who hold to the doctrine from which I get the definition of God provided define as justice.

My argument still stands, two contradictory characteristics of God make it impossible for him to be immutable.
keda
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 6:33 PM:

GodChallanger wrote:

The direct opposite of sparing deserved punishment is giving deserved punishment

Nope. The direct opposite, is to not spare deserved punishment. If I pay your fine, your punishment has been spared, without disservicing justice.
GodChallanger
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 6:56 PM:

keda wrote:

Nope. The direct opposite, is to not spare deserved punishment. If I pay your fine, your punishment has been spared, without disservicing justice.


Let's not get caught up on semantics. If I am the judge, and it is my job to sentence you, then by not sparing deserved punishment, I am necessarily giving deserved punishment. Also, punishing someone else who does not deserve the punishment in place of you IS dis servicing justice as defined. The action itself cannot deserve anything, because the action itself would not happen without the doer. Therefore, it is the doer who deserves the punishment for the action, and even if the not-doer takes the punishment, the doer still deserves it. The fact that he was spared from what he deserves means that what transpired was not justice, but mercy.
Hawkins
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 8:29 PM:

God is described as an immutable (unchanging) being.
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No, this is not an attribute of God, He has wrath occationally. 'God doesn't change' usually refers to His style or characteristic instead of an absolute attribute. A more precise description is thus, God is the same God yesterday, today and tommorrow.

He is (and CAN be) persistently maintaining both His mercy and justice.
GodChallanger
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Posted May 2, 2010 - 9:43 PM:

Hawkins wrote:
God is described as an immutable (unchanging) being.
----------

No, this is not an attribute of God, He has wrath occationally. 'God doesn't change' usually refers to His style or characteristic instead of an absolute attribute. A more precise description is thus, God is the same God yesterday, today and tommorrow.

He is (and CAN be) persistently maintaining both His mercy and justice.


I don't see how you can call a being who can switch between contradictory attributes immutable. "Sometimes God is just, and sometimes God is merciful" =/= "God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow."
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