Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


Mercy in the light of justice and God

A country that gives too much mercy to the right people and too little mercy to the wrong people or that lets everybody away with it in the name of mercy is only setting justice up as a parody of itself.

Religion says that justice and mercy are not in conflict for you are serving justice by leaving the past behind.

Most people believe that justice is what you deserve and earn but mercy is making sure that if you do bad then less than justice will be served.  You get less than what you deserve.  The judge does not give you the punishment you have justified but a lesser one or cancels the punishment completely. 

That way of thinking makes justice and mercy to be in conflict - they are two opposites or contraries. 

Some philosophers think that mercy is a balance between two extremes - cruelty and indifference to evil.  Notice the two things are evil which means that getting it right will be hard.  A judge will lean too far in one direction.  In human hands this will be easily abused.   And make no mistake, justice and mercy are indeed often in conflict even if they shouldn't need to be.

God is merciful but only when it makes sense to be. He will not show mercy to somebody trying to take advantage or who will do just that in five seconds time after getting mercy. A chance is only given if God knows the person is truly sorry. But that is not a chance. You have to take it on faith that the person really means it. Giving a chance is based on seeming remorse and on the consequences of not granting the chance.  God cannot really give a chance for he sees all and knows all.  If giving a chance is nice because of the uncertainty then that is not nice.

Religion invariably sees mercy as getting off scot-free.  But though mercy can do that, mercy could alternatively be giving you less punishment than your crime asks for. Mercy sends a murderer to jail for a year when it should be for life.

The notion of divine mercy being endless and unlimited is really saying it gives you a totally clean slate.  The notion of a God of infinite mercy is nonsense. No mercy can really be infinite. Mercy goes so far but no further. Its always a portion of what you can get.  Real mercy is left up to the choice and discretion of the offended.  It is God's right to let John off scot-free if John repents for stealing the bike.  It is God's right to ask Joe for a days fasting for doing the same thing.

Can you ask God to have mercy on some sinner you know?  That amounts to asking that the sinner avoid the consequences he or she has chosen even if the sinner will not change for the better.  You may ask a human judge to have mercy on your friend but the judge may grant mercy only because he or she is not an all-knowing God but a mere creature.  With a God it is different - God sees the whole story and what is inside the criminal or sinner and so he will only have mercy if the person themselves seeks it to have a new relationship with him.  Praying for mercy for another is just you trying to condone what they have done or feel good about it.  You make them as bad as you if they know.

To be fair when somebody does wrong means that you pay back harm and suffering and pain no more or less than the person deserves while all the while watching that you don't treat them as less than human. So instead of thumping the violent person you jail them which does them harm yes but no physical harm. To hit them makes you no better than them.

Believers answer that is true. But if you repent you can get total infinite mercy. So only if you repent can you allow God to give you infinite mercy. Only you can let him give you the mercy. This is a passive aggressive assumption about the sinner. She or he is to blame if there is not enough mercy. The infinite mercy is already given so it is just a problem with you not accepting it. The fact remains that the mercy is still limited so it is not infinite.

God is defined as infinite mercy. But such a God cannot exist. It is incoherent.