Over on Leitmotif, Ergo was having a discussion about Human Perfection, and how while it is possible for man to obtain such a state insomuch as we understand it to be so from a certain perspective, others who come at life from the view of "man as fallen" or "man is wrong" conceive of standards of probability and impossibility. His take is quite nicely put, but I wish to follow the lines of argument on a more practical plane, as I tend to think in terms of practicality, or obvious and immediate application as such.
The reason I bring it up is because, in reading his post, my mind reacted to certain "tangents," shall we say, and thought I'd expound upon some of the thoughts and ideas this caused to happen in my mind.
1. Man Was Created Perfect in God's Image:
No, no, no, not that I believe this, but it is one of the "standards" to which a Christian (mostly literal, fundamentalist ones) which eventually leads them down the road to the "fall" of man, or the insertion of the "sin" nature that prevents man from ever re-attaining his so-called perfect status within the realm that they believe their god intended. In a nutshell, god created man in his image (woman as an after-thought from a supposed spare rib [which in turn begs how a creature created perfectly could still be so when missing a rib]) and thus, in all ways possible in the realm of earth and its reality, man was, indeed, perfect. But, this perfection, as it were, left much to be desired, as anyone can tell from a simple, short reading of the Genesis account. So let's start with a definition of perfect,shall we?
Free from fault or defect. I think anyone would allow for that as a perfectly reasonable working definition, wouldn't you? But, then, if god created such a perfect man in his image, how was man able to be duped by so silly and naive a trick as the snake going, "Hmm-hmm, doesn't that fruit look yummy?" Now one could argue that, as Eve was made from only a rib, and Adam had the audacity to be created from scratch, she didn't have much of a shot, did she? Or perhaps, one could argue that being "perfect" apparently didn't include a working knowledge of good and evil, therefore she didn't know it would be wrong to disobey god and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (but then the whole "fall" story falls apart, as it were, for without knowing good and evil, how could she actually commit "evil" by eating from the tree?) Then there is the argument, the most logical one, as it were, that the story is just that--a story. Any critical look, using the working facilities of our supposedly god-given brains (which begs why more people don't use them) leads one to make supercilious leaps of logic and a suspension of disbelief that even B-rated horror movies can't attain.
Perfection: 1 : the quality or state of being perfect : as a : freedom from fault or defect : FLAWLESSNESS
Then there is the question of body parts alone, never mind the working facilities of brains that Adam and Eve couldn't employ even in a state of perfection. If their bodies were designed perfectly, in the image of sky god (although bodily structure is generally not considered to be in god's image--wonder why? Does the thought of god having a penis or a vagina really bother people that much?), how is it there are so many genetic defects, flaws, diseases, and such? If the body were truly "designed" and made "perfect," as a literal reading leads one to believe, no matter how disingenuously, how could the body then leave that perfect state simply from a working knowledge of the good and evil that was supposedly contained in a piece of fruit? Logically, if something is perfect, it cannot be unperfect, or even fall from that perfection, or it wasn't truly perfect from the get-go!
Further, if one is to buy into the whole "perfect bodies" fallacy, where in the hell did the appendix come from? It has no function whatsoever!! (and if it does, someone needs to get mine back from the doctor who removed it when I was in ninth grade!!) One needs again to suspend disbelief in order to come up with plausible reasons as to why god, in his perfect design, would include a useless organ? (Never mind the extra rib that was used to fashion Eve!) Along those lines, one I suppose could argue the appendix was only used for eating "perfect" fruit (i.e., fruit not containing a knowledge of good and evil, or knowledge of snake anatomy, for that matter); or perhaps argue that we "micro-evolutionized" it away, which, in all actuality, a perfect body would have no need to micro-evolutionize anything away from anywhere--supposedly it's already perfect! (not to mention that, if the body evolutionized away from having an organ in a perfect body, wouldn't the body then be even closer to perfection as it figured out it didn't need said organ?)
Then there are the countless mutations, birth defects, abnormalities--I suggest anyone who would like a firsthand glimpse, or better yet, an awe-inspiring account of the actual numbers that still carry on to this day of Cyclops', webbed feet and fingers, double-headed persons, multi-eye faceted, hair covering, extra-limb carrying births--live births!--that happen every day in our world pick up a copy of Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi. Subtitled "On Genetic Variety and the Human Body," it's a fascinating read! You've no idea! (And it's has pictures and illustrations!!) Point being, though, a perfect body wouldn't break down, wouldn't devolve into the hunks of junk we currently pull around against gravity, and there certainly wouldn't be over 100,000 miscarriages every year in the United States alone! God could have done a lot better with this "perfect state" he supposedly created us in, wouldn't you say?
Regardless, the "created in perfection" isn't a plausible working model, no matter which way you slice the pie. As to whether Ergo's greater point in his post, that perfection is attainable by man, I don't know if I follow it correctly or not. I may not be the brightest bulb (in fact, I know I'm not!), but I think even if you do buy into the whole "man is in sin" argument, it allows for a great read, so I suggest you check it out (and not because he links back to me in it! :D)
2. The Only Way for Man to Reach Perfection Again is Through Jesus.
Now, never minding the fact that we are now being asked to appeal to the very god that made us flawed (in that, what he gave us neither retained its supposed perfection, and even in our state of perfection, we simply needed to be asked and were indeed looking for something more than what had been provided), in the hopes that, if this radical cult leader form the zero-st century is correct and to be believed, he was again perfect, and died perfectly flawlessly so that we can all once again join in happy bliss and ignorance this creator for eternity (and I know some of you are cringing, as this would be your definition of hell! :D) Darkmind brought up a great point earlier in his comments on my last post, and I agree with him whole-heartedly (though my optimistic nature prevents me from believing anyone to be truly evil! :D), that without a working knowledge of what evil, or bad, is, one cannot even begin to know what good is, and vice-versa! It is impossible for one to assess, for instance, the "goodness" or "badness" of a toaster, until such a day comes as a toaster stops working on you; but even then, you don't swear off toasters! You simply label that particular toaster as bad, and go out to buy a good toaster. Perhaps you may go so far as to label the brand of toaster as "bad," or, less than ideal, but toasters in and of themselves remain "good" only because you have now experienced a "bad" toaster.
When it comes to fluid morality (and the other half of you that couldn't understand why we would think of heaven as hell are now up in arms over the very concept!), good is only as good, and bad is only as bad, as it affects us directly. True, one can hold to "murder" as bad without having been murdered, or having been a murderer--but murder has to have occurred within your realm of existence to be labeled so, otherwise you wouldn't even know what murder was, and without knowing what it was, it couldn't be bad. Morality is dependent upon human perception. It kind of goes back to that wise old Chinese saying, "If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Well, one wouldn't know unless one were there. And though one could reasonably argue about sound waves and vibrations and such that there theoretically was a sound, the sound itself is dependent upon your ear bones being there to catch the vibration, thus enabling there to actually be a sound! Without those bones in your ear, there isn't a sound, as nothing was contacted, or vibrated, as a result of the falling tree. As such, it goes back to "right" and "wrong." "Right" can only be "right" or "good" insomuch as there is a comparative "bad" or "not so good" in comparison.
Concluding, therefore one could reasonably argue that naivete, or a non-working knowledge of right and wrong, could allow for a "state" of perfection; however, it is a mislabelling to use the word "perfection" in describing this state of non-morality. The opposite wouldn't be amorality, or bad, as this would imply a working sense of moral and good--this state would actually be ignorance, or naivete. And in being naive or ignorant for eternity with a sky god that couldn't even keep your "perfect" bodies from breaking down and mutating, you have not attained perfection, you have obtained ignorance. Heaven could not possibly be a "happy" or "blissful" place unless one were well aware of the "hell" or "suffering" place with which to compare your existence as such. You can't know the beauty of a rose unless: you've seen a rose and you've also seen a dead flower. You could know it is a rose if someone tells you, but unless you have something "ugly" or "plain" to compare it against, you don't know that you find it beautiful (and, even then, perhaps you don't find it as such, but instead see it as pretentious and gaudy, in which case you still need a daisy or buttercup to have a reference point).
Are you catching my meaning here? For a man to claim to be the way to heaven, you in actuality wouldn't be attaining heaven, insomuch as heaven is to be understood from a Christian perspective. You'd simply be attaining ignorance. And, I dare say, ignorance is to be found aplenty here on earth, and we are not in need of a place which would allow one to not have use of his faculties. For you'd only end up in nonexistence--which is where we're all going to end up anyway...
On a slightly unrelated note, it seems a hacker has been wreaking havoc on Agnostic Mom, The Atheist Mama, and God Is For Suckers websites. It's hard to believe that this isn't religiously motivated, wouldn't you? It's nice to know that fundies not only whine and bitch about being persecuted, but that they also take an active role in doing it to others.... Let's see, what would they call themselves? "WWJH: Who Would Jesus Hack"? Cause, you know, Jesus was all about getting others to shut up....