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Family Values and Glass Houses

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Posted on May 23, 2010

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

A fall from grace of the sort experienced recently by Indiana’s Mark Souder typically brings smiles to the faces of liberals weary of moralistic religious types who preach one thing and do another.

But I took no pleasure in Souder’s resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives last week after it was revealed that the conservative evangelical Republican had an affair with a part-time staff member. I always thought he was the real deal, both serious and thoughtful in his approach to religious and political questions. I disagreed with him on many things, but not on everything.

I wrote about Souder for the first time in 1998 because he and Rep. Chaka Fattah, a liberal Democrat from Philadelphia, had pushed through legislation to help students from high-poverty schools go to college. I liked their forging a left-right alliance in a good cause at a moment when the nation was torn by the battle over Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Souder said at the time: “Christ is concerned about the needy and the hungry and the powerless and the hurting.” Good for him, I thought.

A few years later, I asked Souder to appear at an event with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo where both reflected on the role of faith in their public lives. Their thoughts were later included in a book, along with the responses of others. “To ask me to check my Christian beliefs at the public door is to ask me to expel the Holy Spirit from my life when I serve as a congressman, and that I will not do,” Souder said. “Either I am a Christian or I am not.”

So I do hope that Souder finds a way to work out his redemption. But it is precisely because this story hit me personally that I want to shout as forcefully as I can to my conservative Christian friends: Enough!

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Enough with dividing the world between moral, family-loving Christians on the one side and supposedly permissive, corrupt, family-destroying secularists on the other.

Enough with pretending that personal virtue is connected with political creeds. Enough with condemning your adversaries, sometimes viciously, and then insisting upon understanding after the failures of someone on your own side become known to the world. And enough with claiming that support for gay rights and gay marriage is synonymous with opposition to family values and sexual responsibility. 

It’s not the self-righteousness of religious conservatives that bothers me most. We liberals can be pretty self-righteous, too. It’s the refusal to acknowledge that the pressures endangering the family do not come from some dark secular leftist conspiracy but from cultural and economic forces that affect us all. People are encouraged to put all sorts of things (career advancement, wealth, fame, the accumulation of things, various forms of self-indulgence) ahead of being good parents and spouses. Our workplaces are not as family-friendly as they could be.

Why does it even have to be said that a devotion to family has nothing to do with ideology? In my very liberal Maryland neighborhood—my precinct voted 80 percent for Barack Obama—parents crowd school meetings, flock to their kids’ sporting events, help them with homework and teach them right from wrong on the basis of values that I doubt differ all that much from those prevailing in more conservative environs. And while a lot of my neighbors are active in their religious congregations, the secular parents take their family responsibilities as seriously as the believers do.

And those of us who are liberal would insist that our support for the rights of gays and lesbians grows from our sense of what family values demand. How can being pro-family possibly mean holding in contempt our homosexual relatives, neighbors and friends? How much sense does it make to preach fidelity and commitment and then deny marriage to those whose sexual orientation is different from our own? Rights for gays and lesbians don’t wreck heterosexual families. Heterosexuals are doing a fine job of this on their own.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s a Scriptural passage that no doubt appeals to Mark Souder. But it would be lovely if conservative Christians remembered Jesus’ words not only when needing a lifeline but also when they are tempted to give speeches or send out mailers excoriating their political foes as permissive anti-family libertines. How many more scandals will it take for people who call themselves Christian to rediscover the virtues of humility and solidarity?

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Joan all your citations are from what you wrote not where you claim Shenonymous  was attacking your and not your reasoning. An example on the same thread;

By Shenonymous June 1 at 4:43 pm #

Again, one at a time…
Joan, your powers of reasoning and concluding leave much to be desired.  In your repeat of my response to you about your hypothetical wanting to kill anyone that might annoy you, you cannot fathom that what I am essentially saying is not that morality is relative to an individual but that society has rules of ethics and morals that must be obeyed.  If you are bent on killing someone because they annoy you, you can do that, and many psychopaths have done so.  And that is in substance what I said. And you cannot show otherwise.  However, and I also say that unequivocally that while you can do what you wish, society has penalties for those who
take another life.  Are you really that blind of mind that you cannot intuit that from my post?  My goodness, and you say you are an academic?

I had to agree because you have been lax in actually backing up what you say. Like I said you are copping out by saying we couldn’t stand your full academic excellence. Don’t insult us just prove it and be done with it. I am waiting to be shut up by your dazzle—if you really have it that is.

You may find this hard to believe but some of us actually read academic papers on line. Do you have any we could read?

By Joan, May 25 at 8:06 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Your last post nails down the secularist problem quite well,  namely secularists not having any solid basis for their moral beliefs. Secularists typically believe many of the same acts to be immoral as do Christians, for instance.

It seems that my pointing out what humans want for themselves to life, property, home, freedom doesn’t count in your eyes. You just can’t get it. Have you been able to now as of June 6?

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By Joan, June 5, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie and Night Gaunt,

Anarcissie,

I agree with you that there are numerous moralities floating around out here but they are not all equally good. The trick is finding the best ones to live by.

Night Gaunt,

Please check my posts to you dated, June 2, 5:25 PM, June 2, 5:39 PM and June 2, 7:24 PM. I have irrefutably supported my claims about the nasty way Shenonymous has behaved towards me. 


Introducing the full force of my professional skills into a dialogue with others without benefit of that background would be as low class as bringing in a professional hitter into a neighborhood ballgame.

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By Maani, June 3, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Me: “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?...Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.”

ITW: “And thus is justified the Bonfire of the Vanities, book-burning and the destruction of the Library at Alexandria.  And thus is justified the thousand years of deliberately keeping the populace ignorant and illiterate to protect the power of the Church.”

Please.  Be serious.  That is clearly not what is meant, intended or implied by the passage.  It is simply noting that God is smarter than any human, and that wisdom that comes from God is thus greater wisdom than human wisdom.  That zealots during a particular historical period may have justified their actions by appealing to a mis-interpretation of this passage (and contrary to your suggestion, we do NOT know that that is what occurred…) is certainly lamentable, but is merely speculation.

“Frankly, I’ll bet Jesus never said that but someone put that in there because he couldn’t answer a critic’s logical question.  So he just made up some bullshit to make it look like the questioner was attacking God.”

Actually, Paul said it.  And since I talk alot about “context,” here is the full citation, the context of which is made clear:

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”

ITW: “Besides, if someone lies in the Scriptures about what Jesus said, who is EVER going to know?”

Fair enough.  But then, how do we know that ANYTHING claimed to have been said or done by ANY historical figure is actually accurate?  That line of reasoning leads nowhere.

Peace.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 3, 2010 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?...Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.”

******************************************

And thus is justified the Bonfire of the Vanities, book-burning and the destruction of the Library at Alexandria.

And thus is justified the thousand years of deliberately keeping the populace ignorant and illiterate to protect the power of the Church.

Frankly, I’ll bet Jesus never said that but someone put that in there because he couldn’t answer a critic’s logical question.  So he just made up some bullshit to make it look like the questioner was attacking God.  Besides, if someone lies in the Scriptures about what Jesus said, who is EVER going to know?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, June 3, 2010 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

Joan, June 2 at 5:25 pm:
’... Now in your world where morality is subjective, berating and belittling someone to cover your shortcomings may not be vicious and not a moral transgression. It is in mine. That is one reason why we cannot have all these different personal moralities. There will be numerous unnecessary disagreements and fighting and unnecessary suffering. ...’

You’re going to have that anyway, regardless of whether you think your morality is the One True Truth or a subjective choice.  In fact it will be worse between the One-True-Truth folks who differ (as they will) because, being in touch with the Absolute, they will be unable to compromise or ignore their differences.  That’s not just a theory; we can observe plenty of it in history and daily life.

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By Night-Gaunt, June 3, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Don’t you get it yet? Out of my sense of fair play, I have been treating you two with kid gloves. I do it, despite the imbalance in skill levels, because there is danger to our society from this rapidly spreading idea that whatever I think is moral is moral. Morality is just subjective.  This position really needs scrutiny.Joan

Fair play? An equivocating cop out. Go lay it on I dare you. If you really are what you say you are you will. You can do it without rancor too. Because your expertise will do it for you. I have never claimed to be anything but an autodidact, nothing more. Don’t confuse me with Shenonymous. I laid out, as did Shenonymous, that it comes from people but you failed to directly address it. Please do so now.

As for Shenonymous, you leave out what she was criticizing or the fact that she was responding to attacks on her. By omission. And I saw where you distorted what I wrote either by omission or crude paraphrasing. To me that is just diversionary. I don’t get snide when I get pushed around, Shenonymous does, we are different. Just answer the questions directly would help.

By Shenonymous, June 1 at 3:59 am #
“Maani, and actually Joan too - I’ve spent some time looking over the entire forum to see the genesis of my comments… I apologize for denying I made that post… “ After all those nasty comments about me, this is the lame apology she musters up. 

Also accepting of apologies are part of the decorum yu claim to want to promote. Then you crap on that. So who is wrong in this case? You Joan. Something you have not done. But then willfull blindness would be the cause because in your eyes you have done no wrong. Such is the rub.

How about this ignore Shenonymous and concentrate on my questions how about? I don’t get snide so easily so go for it! No more “kid gloves” alright? I am insulted if true. You have yet to prove your mettle on that.

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By Joan, June 3, 2010 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

ITW…

Regarding your username, maybe Jesus would appeal to Proverbs 11:29


“Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.”

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By Joan, June 3, 2010 at 6:21 am Link to this comment

ITW…

Here’s another thought Jesus may have had…Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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By Maani, June 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

ITW:

“What would Jesus have posted in this thread?”

Two of many possibilites come to mind:

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?...Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.”

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, June 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Probably, ITW, yada yada yada…
I mean,,, he was Jewish.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

I’m now forced to ask:

What would Jesus have posted in this thread?

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By Joan, June 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,

Shenonymous gets angry with me for erroneously saying that she would cheat as well as lie to save her family. I would think a reasonable person would just point out the mistake. Here is what follows.   

By Shenonymous, May 31 at 11:54

“…You inserted the word cheat earlier and that was a nasty piece of work. A deliberate and hence despicable falsehood…” “She” said she would lie to protect her family. I mistakenly thought “She” said she would also cheat. It was an error that I corrected and apologized for immediately on my next post. Seems like a reasonable way to handle a mistake. My erroneous inclusion of “cheating” was a simple mistake and hence certainly not despicable, just a simple mistake, easily made in the context of “She’s” dialogue with Maani on the Hitchens’ thread.

Here is my immediate apology.

Joan, June 1 at 12:36 pm #

Night Gaunt and Shenonymous and Maani, if interested

“On the Hitchens post you (Shenonymous) made the case to Maani that you would lie to protect your family. You were so incredulous of his response that you asked if he had any children. I thought you also said you would cheat too. If I am incorrect about the cheating, I apologize…but the again one can often make the case that under many circumstances lying is tantamount to cheating but I do not want to put words in your mouth.” Seems pretty honest and civil to me. We make mistakes. The mind is fallible, frighteningly fallible, sound familiar?

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By Joan, June 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,


Here is a catalog of excerpts about me from Shenoymous’posts that are quite inappropriate. It may not be complete but speaks to my point that she was vicious, which you challenged. There may be more in the entire post but these are pretty representative. 


Shenonymous May 26 7:54PM

“Not wanting to do your thinking for you, the question must be asked
what are the implications if one or more are correct?” Let’s start slowly with a little condescension and an air of superiority

By Shenonymous, May 30 at 5:56 pm #
“I’ll tell you where to get off Joan…You seem to be unable to recount what I said possibly because you are willfully blind… Sometimes when I go to a Halloween Party I go as a hypocrite, not always though.  Sometimes I go as a Christian, but the others at the party cannot ever tell the difference.” Bashing me as a Christian among other things.

By Shenonymous, May 31 at 11:54 am
If it were only true that one’s tongue fell out when it assists in
one’s lying, for then Joan would be tongueless.  As it is, Joan,
you show only vacant shells of ideas and apparently fingers to type
on a keyboard that take the place of your tongue, but the empty
quality of your mind still show….”check out the entire post but here Shenonymous has forgotten she called Jesus a liar on the Hitchens’ thread post I referenced earlier.

Shenonymous, May 31 at 3:35 pm #
“Disengenuous, my god Maani, who is disingenuous
who would not provide even one instance where I called Jesus a
liar?… Another slip of Joan’s too easily embellishing
and slick tongue in order to make me look even more disrespectful?…I suggest you give Joan some lessons in decorum and the wages of the sin of lying. 
Honesty is one of the virtues that apparently has never knocked on
your or Joan’s door.” Again She has slashed me while forgetting what she said on the Hitchens’ thread that Jesus lied and where she even provided a list or lists of all his lies. Paradoxically, she is berating me as the mindless liar on the thread. 

By Shenonymous, June 1 at 3:49 am #
“About my denial, and again I apologize for saying that I did not say
that Jesus’ lied.  Even though you rebuke what I said, that does not
mean that I don’t think he did.  I was reacting as well to the added
criticisms that were inventions by Joan.” Realizing her error, She still proceeds to blame me for her mistake.

By Shenonymous, June 1 at 3:59 am #
“Maani, and actually Joan too - I’ve spent some time looking over
the entire forum to see the genesis of my comments… I apologize for
denying I made that post… “ After all those nasty comments about me, this is the lame apology she musters up. 

By Shenonymous, June 1 at 1:53 pm #
“Now it is perfectly apparent Joan that you want to assign the
appellation of dumbness to credibility for your own questionable
purposes.  You powers of conclusion is somewhat skewed.  So I think
you are the dumb liar, not Jesus.  You made the intentional mistake of
trying to assign to me a somewhat…” and blah, blah , blah…

Get the drift, Night? If you think this series of comments is demonstrates an acceptable way to treat people, we are worlds apart.  “Inventions”, as “She” accuses? Every word I post, I can justify. There is no justification for this kind of maligning of someone’s reputation and spewing this kind of venom based on my words. I was in earnest and thorough.

More to come…

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By Joan, June 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,


Where do I begin?

I will leave Maani to answer the theological issues in his own thorough and inimitable way,  if he is so inclined. 

N-G, you’re really just too funny sometimes.

This self -described academic has several philosophy degrees and has taught in several colleges and universities in NJ and TX until taken out of circulation by illness and parenting responsibilities. So I am credentialed and recognized by my peers, also versed in these ethical issues, to speak with some proficiency of what I speak of when I speak of it on this thread. We are skilled in constructing arguments and see the weakness in the arguments that others spin even if spun with golden words and famous names.

Like other professional philosophers, I have spent hours and hours and days and years combing through the positions of the masters, breaking them down, never-mind the casually put together ones offered by you and Shenonymous, at times ill- worded and thinking that no one could possibly challenge such intuitive and sage pearls of wisdom.

Don’t you get it yet? Out of my sense of fair play, I have been treating you two with kid gloves. I do it, despite the imbalance in skill levels, because there is danger to our society from this rapidly spreading idea that whatever I think is moral is moral. Morality is just subjective.  This position really needs scrutiny.

Shenonymous has been quite out of line,at times, vicious. “She” was mistaken. “She” forgot, despite my alerting her to the Hitchens’ thread, that she called Jesus a liar, outright, and gave me grounds to conclude that “She” thinks he’s dumb too.

Not happy with my conclusions, “She” could have asked me to justify them. She could have revised her words, which BTW she is now doing. That’s fair. Calling me a liar, a dumb liar, stupid, not able to reason, mocking and ridiculing me…that’s vicious. Skeptical? See my next post for the comments “She” has made to and about me. 

Now in your world where morality is subjective, berating and belittling someone to cover your shortcomings may not be vicious and not a moral transgression. It is in mine. That is one reason why we cannot have all these different personal moralities. There will be numerous unnecessary disagreements and fighting and unnecessary suffering.

I thought we could enjoy the debate here too without me ever letting on what I was. As said, the human mind is frighteningly fallible.

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By Joan, June 2, 2010 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous and respect,

Shenonymous,

“Respect is earned.” Shenonoymous

Again, perhaps in your world respect is the fruit of bloody battle from which a victor emerges and a victim beaten to death or some other mechanism of your personal system of judgments of whom you deign to be worthy of your courtesy.  Christians believe and were taught to believe—- by this not too bright albeit somewhat now clever guy, Christ, prone to lying but, who to save others, honorably surrendered his life while promoting one of the largest churches in the history of mankind—- Christians believe that people are to treat everyone with respect because they are his Father’s children, a concept Thomas Jefferson exploited masterfully in ‘the Declaration’. Mankind is due rights just in virtue of being God’s children. Boy… has that little idea paid dividends in the march for universal human rights. 

I do think once someone has behaved so foolishly so as to have lost the respect of others, it must be earned but that does not mean one should be treated disrespectfully in the meantime.  In other words we are not supposed to manhandle people until we think they are worthy of respect. 

Maani is right. You avoid the questions you don’t want to answer with a sea of words and multitude of diversions. Then you malign those with the temerity to stand their ground and challenge your ideas. They are dishonorable and stupid liars.  You are ungracious if others unintentionally err, even in the face of a swift and honest apology, unacknowledged in word and spirit. If you err, you continue to assault the very person you wronged. When challenged, you don’t carefully review your own posts to see what you have written to generate the conclusions that others may reasonably draw from your, many, many words or ask for clarification or clarify. Challenged, you take aim and fire at will on those you think weaker or, as Maani says, you retreat behind your righteous indignation


Shenonymous June 2, 11:16 PM
Maani…
“Would you cheat?  That is the nitty gritty.  We shall see just how moral you are?  Joan has opted out from answering. “

If I did not answer a question, it was because I did no see it, not because I opted out of answering it. How could you possibly insert such malicious lie about me into that paragraph?


Note:  Maani’s June 2, 3:07 post

Shenonymous “Because I provided several biblical references that could imply [Jesus] lied”

Backpedaling???  On the Hitchens’ thread you said outright that Jesus lied and listed his litany of lies as sure God makes the rain, so to speak. You said in effect that he did so much of this lying that he was damaging his credibility and in turn his church. He evidently was not bright enough to realize that lying would have bad consequences. My use of the word “dumb” is well justified by your own words. But I see now that on this thread, late at night, Jesus has gotten a little more clever with what may have been lying on his part.

You may not have meant for anyone to draw the conclusion that you thought Jesus was a dumb liar. I get it. But what is not kosher is you berating me for your own forgetfulness, and a choice of words that gives me room to make the case you think he was a dumb liar, especially in the context of your all too often unflattering remarks about Christians.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 2, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

“Was Jesus smart when reported he said…‘Ask, and it shall be given you; for everyone that asketh receiveth;’ Seems like anyone needing something would be very happy to hear all they had to do was ask Jesus or God for it.”

As I noted, to suggest that this line meant that He was promising every single person anything and everything they might want - no matter how frivolous or selfish the request - is absurd, and shows a truly shallow understanding of Scripture.-Maani

He could have also meant that they would get all that they deserved in Heaven after death and judgment & if they went to heaven and not sheol. A bit of a twist but if pressed he could have said that in order to get out of the lie through misrepresentation by omission. If he were smart. Now psychopaths lie with ease, they have no emotional connexion to anyone or anything but themselves. Some can do it very well for it has been shown through brain scans that more parts of the brain are used by liars generally. However neither you nor Joan the self described “academic” hasn’t disputed the Biblical passages or their veracity. So the Liar Jesus stands on his own petard. Remember about “this generation shall not pass..” before the Judgment which did pass with no judgment. Oops, major error!

I do like debate, just not name calling or personal attacks that aren’t relevant to the discussion. Joan talks about being “viciously” attacked which is laughable unless she means the meat of her positions are shown to be wanting then yes by that loose criterion I have done so. It is her ideas and misrepresentations on this forum that are suspect and down an dirty.

There are certainly universal values some good some not.The bad ones supress others rights to life, liberty, property and freedom to live as they want. Sometimes such negative values become the law of the land of those who live the way they want to at the expense of those others they take life, liberty, property from. That is evil. The good is when you live and let live with each respecting the life, liberty, property of others as theirs are respected. Psychopaths, criminals, authoritarians, fundamentalists and busy bodies do not. They are always interested in what you and I are doing in our private lives and if it conforms to their rigid way of doing things. They want laws against you, you just want them to leave you alone. There are some who think they are doing good by making homosexuals, atheists, feminists, Buddhists, Muslims etc. aren’t to be allowed legally. That is the battle.

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By Maani, June 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

“In order to answer your other question on this forum, I am forced to go to the other forum…where I…answered the question so you have the answer and are baiting me to give it again.  Not an honorable thing to do.”

So now I am “dishonorable” for daring to ask you a question that, despite your claim, you did NOT answer.  Nor, in fact, do you do so now, as we will soon see.

“At the incredulousness of your…answer that you would sacrifice your loved ones in order to not lie about something that would save them from harm or death, I responded: ‘If you had no loved ones, would that extend to a dear friend?...It is inconceivable that the love that is said Jesus represents would force one to allow the slaughter of one’s own beloved family for a perceived abstract principle! It is too remindful of, too similar to the heinous philosophy of the National Socialists that had family members betray and renounce their immediate family for the glory of another idea. I have to say I found your admittance disgusting. I’m sorry to say that for even though you and I have had differences over the years, there was never a time when I would have said that.  I think if I were a Christian, and the situation turned up where my…family’s lives were at stake, I would pray and ask Jesus to allow a lie be told.  I can think of many situations where this prayer would be answered in the affirmative if Jesus truly were the gentle and benign third part of that Divine Trinity.  If I believed I would be confident an answer would be forthwith coming because Jesus said if you asked of him, he would answer. With no answer coming from Jesus, I would lie to save my loved ones…’ That should satisfy you but no, you wish to drill me even further into
the ground.”

A wonderfully written paragraph.  But why, exactly, should I be “satisfied” by it, particularly since you did NOT answer my question here?  Here is my question again:

“If you are willing to lie to protect yourself and/or your family, what else are you willing to do to protect them?...Just how far WOULD you go - what would you NOT do, morally - to protect yourself and/or your family?  And the related question: how far is it permissible to go - how “immoral” may one be - in order to protect oneself and/or one’s family?”

I see no answer to my question in your paragraph above.

“I will not play your arbitrary cheating game, Maani.”

In other words, you won’t answer the question.  So be it.

“But do turn it on yourself…In reconsidering, you would not sacrifice your loved ones, just how far would you go to save your family from harm’s way?  If you expect some one to answer you their sense of justice you should have a similar level of felt
responsibility.  Would you cheat?...We shall see
just how moral you are. If it is a good enough question to put to me, it is certainly good enough for you. You will have to hypothesize further for what is good for another is also good for yourself. What kinds of things are you thinking would be necessary to lie to save their lives?  How about from the most heinous debasement? Shall we then construct a list of those things that loved ones lives are worth lying for?”

Holy Cow!!  YOU won’t answer the question, but then you turn around and ask ME the same question?! What breathtaking cowardice!  I am near speechless at your attempt to weasel out of answering!

“Is that your game?”

There is no “game here; only an attempt to get an honest answer to a relevant question. Again with the paranoia and defensiveness.

“This topic has been flushed out enough.  It is the revolving door again.  I am moving on.”

A perfect example of Aesop’s “sour grapes.”  Things didn’t go your way, so you are taking your ball and going home.  I never took you for a coward.  Given our history here, it is hugely disappointing.

Peace.

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By Maani, June 1, 2010 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

“Maani thinks I am an expert on Jesus.”

NOW who is putting words in someone else’s mouth?  I challenge you to find where I said that.  And since you will not be able to, should I react to you the way you reacted to Joan for HER insertion of words YOU didn’t say?  Either you owe me an apology or you are a blatant hypocrite.

“Because I provided several biblical references that could imply [Jesus] lied…he asks me ‘Was Jesus a ‘smart’ liar? An ‘average intelligence’ liar?’...Is that really a fair question to ask me?  I don’t think so, it seems a trap.”

Why would something I ask be a trap, but things YOU ask are not?  It was NOT meant as a trap, nor even a point for discussion.  I stated clearly that, “I am pointing out that…it would seem that the insertion of the word ‘dumb’ was not all that substantive vis-a-vis the point that either of you was trying to make.”  That you decided to answer the question was entirely up to you; had you not done so, I would not have pressed.

“Was Jesus smart when reported he said…‘Ask, and it shall be given you; for everyone that asketh receiveth;’ Seems like anyone needing something would be very happy to hear all they had to do was ask Jesus or God for it.”

As I noted, to suggest that this line meant that He was promising every single person anything and everything they might want - no matter how frivolous or selfish the request - is absurd, and shows a truly shallow understanding of Scripture.

“Or to his disciples when he said, after prophesying an assortment of events that included the second coming, ‘When you shall see all these things, know that (the 2nd coming) is near, even at the door. This generation shall not pass till these things
be fulfilled.’ Not only one generation has passed but hundreds and not yet has the 2nd coming happened. It was supposed to take place
during Caiaphas’s…lifetime.”

I have explained that your reading here is out of context.  If you read it in context, it is clear that the “generation” Jesus is referring to is the generation that will see the signs he mentions - which is NOT necessarily the generation to whom He is speaking. 

You do admit that, “There might be more than one way to interpret these verses and others, and that prevarication was not beyond the lips of Jesus.  Or a couple of things could have taken place where he did not say those untruths…” and other possibilities.  I am happy to see you remain open-minded.

“Your questions area a peculiar attempt to put me on the hot seat..”

As with your comment about “trapping” you, you are showing a remarkable propensity toward paranoia and defensiveness.

“...and trying to crush me under a battery of different questions such as if morals are universal or relative, whether moral are objective or subjective…”

Uh, excuse me?  Wasn’t that EXACTLY what this entire debate - begun by YOUR challenge - was all about?!

“...whether I think Jesus was smart or average in intelligence…”

A rhetorical question that you CHOSE to respond to.

“...who would I lie for, then would I cheat as well!”

A perfectly legitimate query based on your comments in the Hitchens thread.

“That is quite underhanded and taking an unChristian attitude even towards an atheist.”

UnChristian?  To engage in debate?  To challenge another person’s position in civil discourse?  To quote a person’s words back to them?  Methinks thou dost protest too much!

“I think it says something about a level of character for which I have a low regard.”

You have low regard for believers, period.  You try to hide it and make claims to the contrary, but your “true colors” show all too often these days.  Not only does that sadden me (since I admire and respect your intelligence), but it is not constructive vis-a-vis discussion and debate.

Peace.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

And ITW are
you now having a migraine?  I’m sorry if you are. If you want to belittle
a diabetic go ahead.  Your sarcasm about leukemia was not that funny!
My grandpa died of leukemia and it was not funny.

*****************************************************

I didn’t think it was funny at all. I didn’t intend for it to be funny. Not in the slightest. That was my point.

I, too, lost a loved one to leukemia. She was a cousin and died when she was only 21.

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

Respect is earned. 
Maani – Peace, peas and carrots, and elephant stew!  LOL Did you
ever read the poignant essay by George Orwell called Shooting An
Elephant?  It is about morals, maybe relevant to PETA.  Was he
prescient? 

Maani’s first complex question:
Maani thinks I am an expert on Jesus.  Because I provided several
biblical references that could imply he lied, depending on
interpretation, he asks me “Was Jesus a “smart” liar? An “average
intelligence” liar? “  How shall I, a mere human who was not alive 2000
years ago, nor have I had any visions of Jesus ever in my life, assess
smartness or even average intelligence of a Jesus.  What would have
been average intelligence in those days?  Is that really a fair question to
ask me?  I don’t think so, it seems a trap.  But I’ll give it a go since it
seems to be the thing to do, everyone either makes up an
interpretation or accepts someone else’s.  I suppose mine is just as
good as anyone’s. 

My logic:  If Jesus lived as a man, and he lied such as the quotes could
be interpreted, then most likely he was at least clever.  What does
smart mean?  Usually with respect to intelligence it means having or
showing quick intelligence or a ready mental capability. 

Was Jesus smart when reported he said to a crowd, “Ask, and it shall
be given you;?for everyone that asketh receiveth;”  Seems like anyone
needing something would be very happy to hear all they had to do was
ask Jesus or God for it.  Smartness would depend how quickly he
delivered.

Or to his disciples when he said, after prophesying an assortment of
events that included the second coming, Jesus said to his disciples,
“when you ?shall see all these things, know that it (the 2nd coming) is
near, even ?at the door. This generation shall not pass till these things
be fulfilled.”  Not only one generation has passed but hundreds and not
yet has the 2nd coming happened.  It was supposed to take place
during Caiaphas’s (a contemporary of Jesus) lifetime.

Then in Mark 9:1 Jesus said to the people and his disciples, ”Verily I
say unto ?you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall
not taste ?of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with
power.”  And again those that stood there did in fact die about 2000
years ago and yet the Kingdom of God come with power also has not
happened.

Was he of average intelligence?  I can’t really say.  I am I supposed to
know this?  Do you know this?  I’ve no way to make that assessment. 
The question is arbitrary and ambiguous.

But, if Jesus was really a god incarnate? Then seems to me he did not
demonstrate omniscience when the outcomes of the pronouncement he
made did not come to pass, not even yet!  Would he be proven to be a
charlatan?  Isn’t that a legitimate conclusion? 

The point is, that there might be more than one way to interpret these
verses and others, and that prevarication was not beyond the lips of
Jesus.  Or a couple of things could have taken place where he did not
say those untruths.  Maybe those who wrote the books of the New
Testament did not translate the words accurately, may have
intentionally wrote an exaggeration, or there really was no such person
as Jesus, or in his human incarnation he was able to stretch the truth. 
If you could provide even another explanation that could be good for
your side.  Or better yet, provide the proof of such an answer.

Your questions area a peculiar attempt to put me on the hot seat and
trying to crush me under a battery of different questions such as if
morals are universal or relative, whether morals are objective or
subjective, whether I think Jesus was smart or average in intelligence,
who would I lie for, then would I cheat as well!  That is quite
underhanded and taking an unChristian attitude even towards an
atheist.  I think it says something about a level of character for which I
have a low regard.

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Maani’s second complex question:
In order to answer your other question on this forum, I am forced
to go to the other forum The Hitchen’s -22 book review forum
where I actually answered the question so you have the answer and
are baiting me to give it again.  Not an honorable thing to do. 
At the incredulousness of your and John Ellis’s answer that you
would sacrifice your loved ones in order to not lie aobut something that
would save them from harm or death, I responded at
Shenonymous, May 29 at 9:19 am Peter Stothard on
Christopher Hitchens forum:
“However, when you said you would sacrifice your ?beloved family
members for the price of a lie, that sort of changed ?my entire
perception of the man I thought you were. If you had no ?loved ones,
would that extend to a dear friend?  Eleftheria i thanatos! ?“freedom or
death!” including the freedom to lie when necessary.  It is ?inconceivable
that the love that is said Jesus represents would force ?one to allow the
slaughter of one’s own beloved family for a perceived ?abstract
principle!  It is too remindful of, too similar to the heinous ?philosophy
of the National Socialists that had family members betray ?and renounce
their immediate family for the glory of another idea.  I ?have to say I
found your admittance disgusting.  I’m sorry to say that ?for even
though you and I have had differences over the years, there ?was never
a time when I would have said that.  I think if I were a ?Christian, and
the situation turned up where my beloved family’s lives ?were at stake, I
would pray and ask Jesus to allow a lie be told.  I can ?think of many
situations where this prayer would be answered in the ?affirmative if
Jesus truly were the gentle and benign third part of that ?Divine Trinity. 
If I believed I would be confident an answer would be ?forthwith coming
because Jesus said if you asked of him, he would ?answer.”
With no answer coming from Jesus, I would lie to save my loved
ones.  I would include my friends as well.  And even a stranger if the
opportunity presented it self.
 

That should satisfy you but no, you wish to drill me even further into
the ground.  I will not play your arbitrary cheating game, Maani.  But do
turn it on yourself.  Since you also said later that in reconsidering,
unlike John Ellis, (who really is sociopathic and has no loved ones) you
would not sacrifice your loved ones, just how far would you go to save
your family from harm’s way?  If you expect some one to answer you
their sense of justice you should have a similar level of felt
responsibility.  Would you cheat?  That is the nitty gritty.  We shall see
just how moral you are?  Joan has opted out from answering.  If it is a
good enough question to put to me, it is certainly good enough for you. 
You will have to hypothesize further for what is good for another is also
good for yourself.  What kinds of things are you thinking would be
necessary to lie to save their lives?  How about from the most heinous
debasement?  Shall we then construct a list of those things that loved
ones lives are worth lying for?

Is that your game?  Perhaps you should say some prayers?  Read your
bible?  You might read Ouspensky’s Strange Life of Ivan Osokin instead. 
That will do it for me, Maani. This topic has been flushed out enough. 
It is the revolving door again.  I am moving on.

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By Joan, June 1, 2010 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

The dissertation you offer about dumbness/incredibility was not an argument I ever made. 

As per your own words “Jesus’ idle promises work to seriously undermine his credibility. If the credibility of Jesus is undermined, then so is that of the church.” Shenonymous.

Seems pretty simple to interpret it as you have said. A lying Jesus, with his idle promises, will be thought not credible. In fact, these idle lies seriously undermine his credibility.  It follows that because of Jesus’ lying so much his church in turn will not seem credible and hence be undermined, seriously undermined too. It seems pretty reasonable to conclude that you think this lying Jesus was not bright enough to see the damage his lies would inflict on the very church he gave his life to establish. That’s why I said you think that Jesus was a dumb liar.

Despite my telling everyone I was referring to the Hitchens’ thread, you forgot about your own posts and have called me a liar, a dumb liar, essentially stupid several times now rather than asking me where I was coming from in order to clarify the issues for you. Your BTW apology to Maani and “actually Joan too” for your memory loss and continued discourtesy to me does not cut it for me. It was impersonal compared to the venom of the very personal attacks that you have continued to direct at me. 

Regarding explaining morality, save yourself time and energy. I don’t need you to give me a tutorial in ethics anymore than a knee surgeon needs me to tell him how to do arthroscopy. 

In an ethics debate, if I ask someone if it is all right, morally acceptable, to kill annoying people who give me high blood pressure and that person responds by saying that I “can certainly kill people if that is what I want to do…”, as per your ***quote below, it seems pretty reasonable to me to conclude that you are saying that you think I can certainly kill these people if I want to…it seems reasonable for me to conclude based on your words that it’s OK to do that but some people/ society may not agree with that etc, etc…If you don’t get my line of reasoning, ask me to clarify. If you disagree, make your case but pay attention as to why you left me with the wrong impression. 

Now I really don’t think you believe it’s morally acceptable to kill annoying people, period, but are backed up against a wall because you won’t admit to moral absolutes or a religion based morality. My question was designed to make that point. A secular morality without an objective basis often leads to untenable conclusions, like being all right to kill annoying people.

Hypothesizing and questioning is one very common method professors use to understand the value, plusses and flaws of various moral systems, secular or faith based. It’s a sort of dialectic, symposium whatever, not a sinister/stupid blogger’s plot.  Meta-ethics is the study of the validity of different moral systems. I am a meta-ethicist. You may not follow my methodology but I am clear about what I am doing. It is a very effective way to discern what moral systems will not pass muster under scrutiny.

Between people peace comes through respect. 

***Shenonymous May 26
“You certainly can kill people if that is what you want to do, but society will have something to say about it.  The people who you would want
to kill might also have something to say about it.  Seems like there is at least one unsaid natural law of existence that may or may not be a rule of morality and that is since they are part of the organic world, and all organisms have the right to exist, all humans have the right to exist. To murder wantonly is against the secular social law and is separate
from and beyond any religious commandment.  There are some philosophical systems however that would frown on killing a fly….” Shenonymous

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Regular Dr. Pepper has too much sugar in it.  You provide enough
confection for me Maani!  hahahaha   Chao!

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By Maani, June 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

I’m a big fan of the regular Dr. Pepper, which I have been drinking since I was a kid.  Yummy!

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Again, one at a time…
Joan, your powers of reasoning and concluding leave much
to be desired.  In your repeat of my response to you about your
hypothetical wanting to kill anyone that might annoy you, you
cannot fathom that what I am essentially saying is not that morality
is relative to an individual but that society has rules of ethics and
morals that must be obeyed.  If you are bent on killing someone
because they annoy you, you can do that, and many psychopaths
have done so.  And that is in substance what I said. And you cannot
show otherwise.  However, and I also say that unequivocally that
while you can do what you wish, society has penalties for those who
take another life.  Are you really that blind of mind that you cannot
intuit that from my post?  My goodness, and you say you are an
academic? 

Joan says -  ”So I conclude that your moral view is even though
there may be a natural law against it and some people may not like it
that according to you that “ I can do whatever is “OK for me and you
can do whatever is OK for you”. I think based on your response to me
that’s a fair conclusion for me to draw.”

This is a complete abberation of what I said.  Where exactly did I say it
was OK for you to do or I can do whatever is OK for either of us?  I
especially said it is not OK.  Why do you keep making that mistake? I
can only guess is because you read what you want to. It is truly
staggering.  Where did I say it was OK, show me the exactly words for
that is your responsibility and I demand it.  It might be that you do not
understand the word ‘certainly’ which does not mean OK it means it is
within your power to do so, just as it is certainly the case that you can
eat a rabbit!  It is within your control if you intend to kill someone, and
no one can really stop you unless they know ahead of time your
intention. And even then it might not be possible to stop you as it is
proven time and time again with all the murders that go on in the
world.  It is I who thinks you do not fathom the ramifications of your
own ability to read and comprehend.  I have distinctly expressed and
explicitly said I highly value human life.

My post Shenonymous, May 30 at 5:56 pm

“…I do not suffer migraines or headaches of any kind.  Nor do I have
high ?blood pressure, I am a diabetic but it is so much under control
that my ?doctor has reduced my medications three times in the last two
years.  I am a fit atheist who is a moral person meaning I highly
value human ?life and take care to not hurt anyone and have taught my
children the ?same principles.  By observing the world and how people
behave in it, I ?came to these conclusions intuiting the values I hold.
 
You can call that ?objective truth or subjective truth, you will judge.
There are far more ?hypocrites in the religious world, as that is where
the judgment of ?hypocrisy usually is needed.  As a rule atheists are not
hypocrites ?having no pretenses from coercive morality.  That does not
say some ?atheists do not break the law.  Atheists have just as much
iniquitous ?behavior as religionists.  But, if one was an atheist and only
pretended ?to be one, like pretended to be a Christian, then that atheist
would be ?a hypocrite.”
Continued below.

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

Reply to Joan continued.

And I say it again at
Shenonymous, May 29 at 6:13 pm
No, Joan. It is not my morality that would allow you to kill
anyone, ?no one at all. I am against killing in general.

And May 28 at 4:21 pm when I respond to your earlier post where
you say:
Joan says “Morality is sort of like… what I do is OK for me
?and what you do is OK for you… but you note that some people, ?I
guess the annoying ones I might want to swat like flies and PETA,?might
not like it and would want to put me in jail or even execute?me! Lordy!
Lordy!”

and my reply was:
“Is that what I said?  No I didn’t say anything about what is or is not ?
morally okay.
  What planet did you extract that from?  It is not nice
to ?attribute words to someone who did not say them.”

I cannot help it if you have an intentional thick head and do not want
to make sense of words written on a page.  That is a cognition problem
that is remedial with special education help.

And yes, my remarks are intentionally sarcastic!

Inasmuch as I have gone through this now three times, I do believe
Joan that it is impossible for you to come to any cogent
understanding of what I say.  As far as I am concerned, it is a
preconditioned prejudice stemming from my secular perspective, my
atheism.

All that notwithstanding about me, Joan, I had asked you a few
questions that you conveniently ignore.  So I will restate my post By
Shenonymous, May 31 at 2:24 am where I said:

Joan, I don’t mind answering your questions.  It might be a ?very
long post as I tend to be long winded.  So before I do I have a ?few
questions for you.  Throughout the forum, you have never stated?what
your morals are.  It seems you think your morals come from ?god.  Are
they universal?  Or subjective?  Maybe I misunderstood or?overlooked
what you may have said.  How exactly do you go ?about being a moral
person?  What acts do you do that says you?adhere to a certain set of
morals?  What exactly do you define ?morals as?  Do you have a certain
set?”

Okay, this revolving door is it for me and I will not respond to this line
of interrogation further with you. I will respond to Maani’s recent
post after a Diet Dr. Pepper.  If you have more comments or questions,
you “certainly” can express them. But I will not respond unless there is
something of substance or there are further insults you level at me.

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By Maani, June 1, 2010 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

Thank you for your measured comments and apology.  They are welcomed and fully accepted.  (Joan has spoken for herself.)

That said, let me “roil the waters” a bit here.

With respect to Jesus and lying, you were most incredulous at Joan’s insertion of the word “dumb.” Let me ask then: Was Jesus a “smart” liar? An “average intelligence” liar?  It is not my intention to be sarcastic here.  Rather, I am pointing out that, in retrospect, it would seem that the insertion of the word “dumb” was not all that substantive vis-a-vis the point that either of you was trying to make.

Which brings me to the second point.  You were also incredulous that Joan added “cheating” (which you did not say) to “lying” (which you did say) among the things you would do to protect yourself and your family.  (If I am wrong about who, exactly, you would protect by lying, forgive me.)

This begs the question that Joan’s “insertion” implies: if you are willing to lie to protect yourself and/or your family, what else are you willing to do to protect them?  That is, is Joan actually wrong about whether you would “cheat” to do so?

In fact, this really gets to the nitty-gritty of the very question we are discussing here; i.e., morality and moral behavior.  So here is the $64,000 question: just how far WOULD you go - what would you NOT do, morally - to protect yourself and/or your family?  And the related question: how far is it permissible to go - how “immoral” may one be - in order to protect oneself and/or one’s family?

It seems to me that the way in which one answers this question determines, ipso facto, just how “moral” one is - because the minute we allow for “exceptions” to our claimed morality, we go down that slippery slope that leads to more exceptions, and thus more compromising of our claimed morality.

Also, I thought I had put to bed my feelings about the Bible.  I do not consider it the “inerrant word of God” (the “inerrancy” of Scripture is a fairly recent phenomenon).  But neither do I believe that it has nearly the degree of “contradiction” that many believe.  Learning how to “read Scripture against Scripture” is one of the deepest, most difficult areas of Bible study.  But once one learns how to do it, and applies that learning, it becomes simpler, and what one finds is that what sometimes seem like contradictions are nothing of the sort when understood in light of other Scripture.

Finally, my “peace” signoff is not simply about peace in the world (i.e., the opposite of war, violence, aggression).  It is about peace in all its forms, including peaceableness, and inner peace.

In this regard, although there are certainly more peas in the world than peace, I will keep trying to create more peace to go with my carrots.  LOL.

Peace. (porridge hot…)

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By Joan, June 1, 2010 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

Today having some time to finally catch up on TD, I am astounded by the viciousness of your posts directed at me and the thready bases you cite for those attacks. 

I notified you and everyone on this thread that I had been on the Hitchens’ thread where you call Jesus a liar several times over and insinuate that he is not too bright for lying because his deceptions hurt the growth of his church. 


Note your May 26, 11:26 PM response to me when I inquire if it is all right for me to kill off annoying people because they give me high blood pressure.

Shenonymous answers …
“You certainly can kill people if that is what you want to do, but society
will have something to say about it.  The people who you would want
to kill might also have something to say about it.  Seems like there is
at least one unsaid natural law of existence that may or may not be a
rule of morality and that is since they are part of the organic world, and
all organisms have the right to exist, all humans have the right to exist.
To murder wantonly is against the secular social law and is separate
from and beyond any religious commandment.  There are some
philosophical systems however that would frown on killing a fly. “

So I conclude that your moral view is even though there may be a natural law against it and some people may not like it that according to you that “ I can do whatever is “OK for me and you can do whatever is OK for you”. I think based on your response to me that’s a fair conclusion for me to draw.

I don’t think you really believe it is all right for me to kill annoying people but you said it was OK. I have argued on this thread that I do not think you fully grasp the ramifications of your ideas on morality. This is one example of why I think this.

As for the basis of my moral code it is roughly Christian but as JDmysiticDJ says, morality is pretty much a spiritual endeavor. It is like that for me.  I have a God that has taken me by the hand, transcending the books, a lot in accordance with the manner of which that dumb liar Jesus foretold.

As for your behavior towards me, it is an illustration as to why I am so skeptical about the worthiness of moralities that people gin up solely depending on their own wits, where absent the law and God, people say or do to others whatever they want with no accountability.

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By Shenonymous, June 1, 2010 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

So dumbness is implied in the concept of incredibility?  Can you
elaborate more on that one, Joan?  How do you get from
incredibility to dumb? Incredibility is the logical inverse of the
word credible that I found lacking, hence incredible.  Beginning
with the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary, 11th ed., of the 17
dictionaries that list the word incredibility, all of which I checked
out, I do not see the word ‘dumb’ ever mentioned.  Wordnik,
Wiktionary, Dictionary.com, Ultralingua, Wikipedia that also functions
as an encyclopedia, Online Plain Text English, Webster’s Revised
Unabridged 1913, AllWords MultiLingual, Webster’s 1828, the Free
Dictionary, Mnemonic, WordNet 3.0 which really goes into many
associative definitions as well, LookWAYup Translating is really a fine
site that gives several senses (no mention of dumbness though), The
FreeDictionary that gives related words, dumbness is not among them,
and finally in the Legal Dictionary which is The FreeDictionary with a
legal slant, no dumbness, but all of them like the words doubt and
suspicion.

The definitions given for incredibility which is a noun form of the
adjective incredible as:  so extraordinary as to seem impossible:
incredible speed; not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable.  Shall I do
the same for the word ‘credible’?

Now it is perfectly apparent Joan that you want to assign the
appellation of dumbness to credibility for your own questionable
purposes.  You powers of conclusion is somewhat skewed.  So I think
you are the dumb liar, not Jesus.  You made the intentional mistake of
trying to assign to me a somewhat implied offense toward the man
called Jesus and you still try to wiggle out of it with further accusation. 
A typical defense for one with little to say and who wishes to expand
to look like there is more there.  But in reality, this is another case of
where there is no there there.

While my own mind is ‘fallible’ and I have admitted as much, I would
rely on its ability to assess the world instead what is offered through
the lens of an interpreter of a work of fiction.  I am not afraid of my
own mind, just the opposite even though I don’t always trust it to
understand or believe what is said about certain complexities.  While
mythologies worked to answer questions of the primitive and which
linger more in the less educated today, they also linger in the minds of
those who do not trust their own minds very much and so can assign
responsibility for their safety to an imaginary supernatural being.  It is
common.  So I would say, Joan, you have taken a very common view of
reality.  I think that is fine for you and the other millions of people who
keep you company, as long as you do not tread on me (that is the
slogan of California by the way, and I find it very useful). 

You said – ” America that advocates freedom of religion for all which
includes freedom from religious intolerance.”
  I would add, which
also includes freedom from religious intolerance for the a-religious the
a-theists., the secularists.

There is no question that morality and the law are different and
distinct. 

Morality is the code of conduct chosen by either an individual or a
society and how they behave towards each other.

Where laws are socially codified as offenses towards an individual or a
society that are subject to penalty, from mere fines to imprisonment.

There are some moral rules that are not illegal and there are some
laws that only regulate what in their essence reflects an attitude of
morality.

Shall we go for Maani’s peace?  I remember seeing that closing in my
first cognition of Maani on Truthdig, and I remember being sarcastic
about it, since there was no peace in the world, and closing my
comment with the word peas.  I don’t think he was offended, at least
he didn’t say he was.

There still is no peace in the world, but there are lots of peas.

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By Joan, June 1, 2010 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

Night Gaunt and Shenonymous and Maani, if interested,

Night Gaunt,

I do know the difference between the law and morality and have a pretty clear idea about how they interact. 

May 30, 3:30 PM Post to Night Gaunt

“Laws are not found in the cabbage patch. They have a basis, an underlying moral substratum. In America and Western culture many laws are based on Judeo/Christian moral codes i.e. no killing, no stealing, no lying. Lawmakers appealed to “J/C” morality (like Jefferson did in “the Declaration”) because they believed that with God as the author, these laws would command universal respect and adherence. In other words people would buy into such laws as a reasonable basis to live, surrendering their personal preferences at times, and accept society’s right to exert the pain of punishment on those who fail to observe them, like rapists and (high blood pressure serial) killers. This system of laws generates order that keeps us relatively safe….”

Night Gaunt, I do not live in a theocracy nor do I advocate theocracies. I live in the United States of America that advocates freedom of religion for all which includes freedom from religious intolerance.

My mind is frighteningly fallible. That’s why I want God as safety net.


Shenonymous,


Joan informs readers on this thread that she has been on the Hitchens’ thread also and has more questions based on comments on that thread.

May 30 , 6:24 PM  
“Just finished a quick pass over the “Hitchens” thread and a few more questions come to mind. …What if all the lying and cheating you’re will to do save your family means that my family and numerous others would be killed, is it still morally acceptable to do all that lying and cheating?”

May 30, 9: 20 PM
“On the Hitchens post you made the case to Maani that you would lie to protect your family. You were so incredulous of his response that you asked if he had any children. I thought you also said you would cheat too. If I am incorrect about the cheating, I apologize…but the again one can often make the case that under many circumstances lying is tantamount to cheating but I do not want to put words in your mouth.”

Shenonymous, what about that apology was not clear?

Hitchens thread

Shenonymous May 28 11:34 PM
“Here are nine more Biblical quotes from Jesus
that shows that he lied:….” Joan concludes that Shenonymous thinks that Jesus lies.

Shenonymous, May 28 at 11:36 pm #
“Jesus’ idle promises work to seriously undermine his credibility. If the credibility of Jesus is undermined, then so is that of the church.”

Joan concludes that Shenonymous thinks that Jesus is dumb.

Joan basically concludes that Shenonymous thinks that Jesus is a dumb liar.

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By Joan, June 1, 2010 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

Maani,

Thank you very much for your support and your attempts to keep the responses from going quite so over the top.

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By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

Maani, and actually Joan too - I’ve spent some time looking over
the entire forum to see the genesis of my comments.  Questioning
my own competence is always a good exercise for me and if I don’t
do a good job, I am always confident someone else will do it. 

I did indeed discuss what I found to be lies Jesus told as written in
the bible, and I gave the exact book and verse.  I apologize for
denying I made that post.  The post was a result of the small dialogue
on a different forum Maani, you and I had about lying and my
incredulous reaction to John Ellis’s and your statements about not lying
to even save a loved one who was in danger of harm or death: you said
May 28 at 7:48 pm on the Stothard - Christopher Hitchens forum: 

“So, as lies are the root cause of all misery in government, as lies
totally destroy all of society and government, tell any kind of lie and
you destroy all your credibility and do more harm then good.

And so, if your loved ones must be martyred in this way to preserve the
good of humanity and all future generations, then so be it.  For the
purpose of this world is to prove the harm in it. 

Bravo.  I can readily understands why this sort of absolutism makes
many here uncomfortable.  But I, for one, agree.  There are some
principles worth dying for - and there are even some for which the
deaths of others, even loved ones, is “acceptable.”

It was unbelievable when I read that and it is unbelievable now.  Then
the dialogue continued with my questioning John Ellis about a religion
that is supposed to be about love and humanity and brotherhood
would deliver eternal damnation for a lie, that he misquoted the
commandment about lying to actually be not to bear false witness
against your neighbor.  That was when I first indicated that Jesus did in
fact tell a lie (small fib) in this case about not attending the feast. 

Upon which John Ellis blathered on again about the atheist who dare to
cite scripture. I thought he was a small minded man and had no idea
what atheists know and do not know.  That is neither here nor there. 
But then you countered with where other than the 10 commandments
in the bible talks about lying with many quotes and admonishing me
for leaving out the word ‘yet’ which really was only an added word late
in the translations of the bible and is not in the original Greek, by the
way. 

I was relieved when you did say you would not be as adamant about
lying were a loved one’s life be at stake!  Yes of course there are many
ways to avoid lying, but there may be a case when there is no recourse. 
I certainly would not sacrifice anyone I loved or anyone really whose life
is at harm’s door as there is a higher duty to preserve life than a
written word that can be interpreted in different ways and that is the
moral imperative to do no harm.  So here I am proposing a universal
moral:  Do no harm.  And if lying means that harm is thwarted then
telling that lie is the moral thing to do.

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By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment

About my denial, and again I apologize for saying that I did not say
that Jesus’ lied.  Even though you rebuke what I said, that does not
mean that I don’t think he did.  I was reacting as well to the added
criticisms that were inventions by Joan.

Looking at my posts you noted of 5/30 at 5:56 and 5/31 at 11:54
I don’t deny my sarcasm either.  It is my way at times of dealing with
what I perceive to be wrongful criticism.  The ‘she said, She said’ is
recorded history and argument is moot.  And I believe it was done
purposefully to bolster her opinion.

The upshot of this comment is that it is my error that I denied I
claimed Jesus is shown to have lied.  It was written on another thread in
the heat of a different argument and it did not register in my mind in
my discussion on this forum.  My claim on that thread has not been
put to rest at any rate.

It is well known scholarship that various translations of the bible are
riddled with errors and that particularly the KJB was based on inferior
manuscripts.  Much meaning of original text was not accurately
represented.  Bart D. Ehrman, chair of religious studies, University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill provides such an exegesis.

Since the bible is ‘The’ ultimate authority for Christianity, it is beyond
important that Christians get a holy book that is correct and that the
interpretations are consistent with reality. This consistency is the
definition of truth.  Apologetics abound and attempt to explain
discrepancies and obvious errors.  I could list those errors but to what
end?  As an atheist it is not important since I believe the entire bible is
a fiction.  All the holy books of all religions are as far as I am
concerned.  There are good instructions of a practical nature in these
books and I can see why societies would develop a text by a god in
order to control the members of that society through the fear of a
supernatural being.  There are a plethora of ‘holy’ books.  However we
have evolved past the need for fantasy and fiction.

I feel my denial had to do with my being attributed with calling Jesus
‘dumb’ by Joan which I thought was a nasty embellishment.  If Jesus
was indeed the third partite of the godhead, then calling him dumb
would be dumb!  I am not so dumb. 

It is not my understanding and interpreting the bible so much as
showing that the bible itself shows Jesus to have been more human
than is thought by Christians.  When I was young and still a religious
person, a Christian, I theorized that Jesus was a man, a human man,
until he was transfigured at his crucifixion.  If he was a man, that
would explain a great many things, such as no holy relics exist from
the time he was born until he was crucified, etc.  Not even a hammer,
he was reported to have been a carpenter.  If any relic is found, it is
then necessary to be shown that it is in fact an artifact from a god.  So
that was the force behind my listing Other than what I’ve addressed
here, I stand by all my other comments.  I’ve no worries about a TD
monitor response.

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By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

Omitting the word “dumb,” here are just some of your numerous claims re Jesus and lying, which is what Joan was getting to:

“Here are nine more Biblical quotes from Jesus that shows that he lied” (followed by nine Scriptural cites).

“Jesus outdoes the false promise he made in the
sermon on the mount when he said, ‘And whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.’”

“When being questioned by the high priest, Jesus
answered, ‘I spoke openly to the world; I have ever taught in the synagogues and in the temple, and in secret have I said nothing.’ Here he told two lies.”

“Matthew 5:1 is the first and most obvious lie, perhaps his most famous sermon, delivered neither in a synagogue nor in the temple but on a mountain top.”

“And Jesus also lied about prayer: Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer may ask for anything through prayer… and receive it.  He even went so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it.  This is obviously a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer.”

“The following quote confirms that Jesus deliberately lied to his followers thereby leading them into false expectations” (followed by a Scriptural citation).

“And more lies from Jesus: Jesus promised his followers in no uncertain terms that he would soon return in glory and vindication. He vowed to redeem their suffering and to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  He promised to heighten their expectations and he assured his followers that most of them would live to see all of this come to pass. His failure to do all of this or even some of them or even one places Christians on the horns of a serious dilemma by exposing him as a false prophet.”

I have already noted that your understanding and interpretation of Scripture leaves an enormous amount to be desired.  So I will leave that matter be.

However, re contacting TD, I really do hope they monitor this thread and read all the posts from you, N-G, Joan and myself (in particular).  What they will see is that Joan and I maintained decorum and civil discourse, and that you - and only you - engaged in actual personal attack.  Joan may have “called you out” on some of your claims, and challenged you in ways that you may have found “strong.”  But they were always within the bounds of debate etiquette, and never went over the line to personal attack.

However, your posts of 5/30 at 5:56 and 5/31 at 11:54 include unnecessarily sarcastic and personally insulting remarks to Joan that are, in my opinion, entirely unprovoked.  Even if Joan HAD ascribed words to you incorrectly (which is arguable), your response was hopelessly overreactive.  There are many ways you could have handled those perceived (or actual) “slights” - and they barely rose to minor slights, much less “personal attack” - without resorting to mean-spirited insults.

I think you may be surprised by the TD monitor’s response here.

Peace.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 31, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

RE: the Hitchens post… you said that you want a strong authoritative government or “higher authority” (my words…being humorous).Joan

You left out plenty of my caveats. Why didn’t you simply paste in it directly without paraphrase? I want a gov’t strong enough to work but with limits. From the beginning you have painted what I say as for “strong authoritative government or higher authority” or worse “authoritarian” style gov’t. You can’t help yourself to edit my writings to fit what you believe. Oh and your alleged humor did escape my notice.

RE: rapists and murderers, I said that clearly they are not advocates of the Golden Rule. This is not news. I agree with you. I don’t know what you’re getting at.

Do you know the difference between morality and law? Not all law is moral it can be immoral. Like the “DADT” or laws against certain kinds of drugs but not others. Not the same as with the obvious laws against those crimes that hurt other people directly. Like rape, robbery, bunco, & torture. Everything else is just plenary enforced prejudice of one group over another’s activities. To you it is loose, to me it is adult for individual autonomy over our own bodies. Do you agree? I have yet to see you directly and clearly address the difference. [You don’t seem to see it.]

One last point with respect to the typical atheist’s unquestioned faith in his own infallible mind, the mind has great capacity to be brilliant. But from personal experience I know that the mind has limitless capacity to be fallible as well.

Does that fit your as well? Your beliefs. We just aren’t convinced so? The evidence doesn’t pass my smell test. Infallible? No. But that doesn’t deter me from moving on with it. Now if you can show the fallacy then get to it. So far even their PhDs can’t do it. False premise creates a false conclusion no matter how learned you are. I search my ideas for critical errors all the time. Do you Joan?

Who does the defining of such moral “absolutes” in your theocracy Joan? What authoritarian dictator will lay those foundations? Where is the line drawn? You know you are part of a religion that has an absolute monarch-god as its leader? Are you for or against that? I am against that, will I be allowed to live away from it or crushed under it?


I never said or agreed that “everyone’s morality is equally good” for we know otherwise. But what one does to ones self or to willing individual adults is different from what tyrants, and killers and robbers do to others. Can you agree? Explain please your answer.

Being an academic like Shenonymous explain with some clarity where either of us or both have intellectualized away morality.” I just can’t wait to see it. Please feel free to copy/paste and take up more than one block to respond. She does.

I must in all honesty didn’t see that you were academically trained. Maybe you just didn’t want to go the way Shenonymous has, and I understand. No disrespect intended. Please dazzle us.

In case you missed the concrete reasoning by Free Thinkers for morals read this, again By JDmysticDJ;

Einstein makes a distinction between religion and morality,

”people of our type see in morality a purely human matter, albeit the most important in the human sphere.”

How can you miss that? I had stated it before, several times here alone, but since it didn’t fit your prejudices of Atheists, you were blind to it. Sad. I don’t mind a sparing of ideas and perceptions but character assassination I do not.

I do believe that lying is a serious sin in the Christian mythos, is it not?

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By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Disengenuous, my god Maani, who is disingenuous
who would not provide even one instance where I called Jesus a
liar?  It is slander plain and simple.  You speak in generalities that
couches the most flagrant distortions of anything I’ve ever said! 
And to add the word “dumb” is a travesty illustrating a dishonest
pathology. What? Another slip of Joan’s too easily embellishing
and slick tongue in order to make me look even more disrespectful?
Snide tactic.  My knee jerk reaction! You are required to show
that too!

I provide much in the way of relevant material and you and Joan
squiggle and wiggle and slither providing paltry zilch offering only
unsubstantiated opinions.  How pathetically pikers you are.  Pike
fishing must be in season.  You might check with your god on the
quality of your morality.  Do you ever speak to your god?  Do you only
pretend to be a Christian?  You do know that is sinful hypocrisy. Where
is your Christianity, where is your Christian truth, where is your
Christian faith now?  I made the word “dumb” a cause célèbre? 
Surely you jest, as it is your apparent comrade who accuses me up the
wazoo and you call me bizarre?  So it is allowed that you and your
colleague in arms can make up lies and cast aspersions but not allowed
for the accused to say anything?  Another instance of the latent fascist
demeanor.  Unprovoked, right, to be called a cheater, a liar, and
continued lying about what I’ve said?  You and Joan are permitted to
slander me!?  But of course that is not provocation!  You overdo
yourself in the psychosis department. 

Sense of decorum would prevail when it is given.  Yes indeed do I know
about TD rules of personal attack.  And if anyone is being attacked it is
me. I would be happy to let TD be the arbiter of that!  I don’t use the
Report this feature, I send emails to the editors!  I actually have sent
this very post to them! I don’t take threats lightly.  I suggest you give
Joan some lessons in decorum and the wages of the sin of lying. 
Honesty is one of the virtues that apparently has never knocked on
your or Joan’s door.

Nowback to the business of morality!

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By Maani, May 31, 2010 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

“I have never said that Christ was a dumb liar,
but I will say you are.”

Actually, you are being disingenuously semantic. No, you did not say “dumb,” but you did call Jesus a liar.  Multiple times.  That is what Joan was noting.  That you glommed onto the single additional word “dumb” - and have made it into a phony cause celebre - is truly bizarre, and simply shows that your knee-jerk defensiveness is trumping your ability to actually remain on point.

As well, your continued unprovoked, unnecessary and petulant personal attacks on Joan will not go unchallenged.  In case you are unaware, TD does have certain rules of “etiquette” re personal attacks.  At the risk of sounding authoritarian, don’t give me cause to invoke those rules, or for TD to warn you about them.

You have always shown a much greater, more humble respect for others no matter how virulently you disagree with them.  Please maintain that sense of decorum and civil discourse.

Peace.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 31, 2010 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

According to my ex-wife, the best cure for a migraine headache was to turn out the lights, and have me rub her legs. Her pain was terrible and it caused enough anguish in me that I can recall asking the metaphysical to relieve her pain.

Whether the treatment actually relieved her suffering, or was just quackery, strikes me as being metaphysical.

“According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Edition, 1989), empiric is derived from the ancient Greek for experience, ????????, which is ultimately derived from ?? in + ????? trial, experiment. Therefore, empirical data is information that is derived from the trials and errors of experience. …”

“Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new[1] knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

As unacceptable and irrational as it will seem to many people, those who have belief (Faith) in a metaphysical entity do so based on personal experience.

“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
( Albert Einstein - The Merging of Spirit and Science)”

“The religious feeling engendered by experiencing the logical comprehensibility of profound interrelations is of a somewhat different sort from the feeling that one usually calls religious. It is more a feeling of awe at the scheme that is manifested in the material universe. It does not lead us to take the step of fashioning a god-like being in our own image - a personage who makes demands of us and who takes an interest in us as individuals. There is in this neither a will nor a goal, nor a must, but only sheer being. For this reason, people of our type see in morality a purely human matter, albeit the most important in the human sphere.
- Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman”

Einstein makes a distinction between religion and morality,

”people of our type see in morality a purely human matter, albeit the most important in the human sphere.”

Morality is more important than science,”… in the human sphere.” according to Einstein.

Einstein is an authority to some, but is he infallible? His “Special Theory of Relativity” and “General Theory of Relativity” have contradictory anomalies that have given rise to other theories; that are now presented as fact, and accepted as a matter of faith by some.

By definition, intellectualizing the metaphysical is not possible. The validity of basic moral concepts, on the other hand, is subject to human experience and the results of following or not following certain moral concepts is quantifiable both historically, and by an individual’s personal experience.

Certain moral precepts, whether they are based on myth or actual historical events, have lasted throughout the millennia; hypocrisy is not an issue, because hypocrisy is a deviance from these moral precepts.

Perhaps mythical, or real stories, and parables about stone throwing point out that we are all subject to hypocrisy, and that vehement and lethal stone throwing are in themselves hypocritical.

Even so, perhaps the occasional throwing of pebbles could serve to point out incidences of hypocrisy.

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By Anarcissie, May 31, 2010 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

Joan, May 30 at 3:30 pm:
’... If secularists have no objective/non- subjective basis for morality and its consequent laws, then secularists have no basis to say any of my behavior is morally unacceptable. Hence, anything goes, Dostoyevsky, in a nut a shell. ...’

Actually, they do.  Human beings evolved as highly social animals, and could not have prevailed without behaving in certain ways conducive to group survival.  These behaviors would be strongly selected for, almost certainly to the extent of being coded into the genes as well as omnipresent in culture.  The genetic coding would appear mentally as strong intuitions and emotions about one’s behavior with other people, and would be enhanced culturally.  In effect, then, the only way a normal human being can be happy is to behave morally.

In order to support and ensure moral behavior, we can expect as well that there will strong genetic coding and culturally-imposed rules which specify hostile behavior towards those who do not behave morally.  So not only does one’s internal, mental well-being depend on moral behavior, but one’s social environment as well.

I’m using moral here in a rather broad sense.  It is obvious that different societies entertain many different details about what constitutes moral behavior.  This would be a problem if some sort of god or machine-in-the-sky were handing out moral rules, but it’s not if we consider that a general predisposition for moral sensibility is genetically encoded and then modified by local culture.

Of course, there are people who lack moral sensibility.  They may do well in contemporary societies, but back in hunter-gatherer tribal days they’d simply be killed.

It is fortunate that we have an alternative to looking to gods for moral behavior, because in fact they have often ordered the most savage abominations to be practiced in their names.  I am sure I do not need to give examples.

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By Shenonymous, May 31, 2010 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

If it were only true that one’s tongue fell out when it assists in
one’s lying, for then Joan would be tongueless.  As it is, Joan,
you show only vacant shells of ideas and apparently fingers to type
on a keyboard that take the place of your tongue, but the empty
quality of your mind still shows. 

You make sweeping fallacious opinions not showing any evidence of
your dogmatic statements about everything showing you to be a willing
slave to ignorance and in this instance, the nature of atheists and since
you are not an atheist, and because you show that you do not have
any, you cannot even imagine let alone understand what they think. 
You are a blatant liar.  I have never said that Christ was a dumb liar,
but I will say you are.  You inserted the word cheat earlier and that was
a nasty piece of work. A deliberate and hence despicable falsehood. 
You may mouth the virtuosity of a limitless mind but you do not
demonstrate one and you also are missing an ingredient of morality,
that of being honest.  Atheist or not, without our own mind humans
are nothing but a savage among savages.  Yes of course we atheists
trust the infallibility of our own mind which is the source of opinions,
and so do you and until one realizes one could be wrong the
perception of infallibility persists.  That is what is called insight.  What
you said is not a substantial criticism, and hence, is blindsight.

I will say that I would prefer if there was another, or were others, who
are interested in this journey of the mind into the realm of morality, to
attempt to gain a keen grasp of the true nature of this quality of
human thinking, especially at this time in human history when it
appears to be at a low ebb, and particularly because of the danger of
solipsistic fallacies, but if there are no takers, I will proceed anyway and
go it alone using this forum as the vehicle to air my thoughts.  But I
require absolute respect for others ideas if they are presented in a
cogent form, and a genuine unconceited desire to work through them.

Speaking of airing thoughts, in Plato’s Theaetetus Socrates talks
about his assigned mission to dig out misconceptions, particularly
those that affect human lives in a harmful way, Socrates the ever-
seeker of truth which leads to wisdom where it might lead.  Often it is a
most painful effort and can be physically exhibited with beads of sweat
on one’s brow.  As a midwife of the mind, he holds up ideas to the
light of reason to see if they have any merit, or if they are in fact wind
eggs, mind farts, that ought to be let go, or at least revised.  It takes a
bigness of consciousness to do that, and I hope my mind can if only
reach the citadel of truth then travel through its gates.

So with that injunction that is really on every human being to make as
their mission, this is why I even attempt to put my ideas on trial.

To move on then, to morality and what it is, what it means, from where
do they come, and when and how they are justified, who lives by a
morality code, and whether or not they are subjective, objective,
relative, or universal.  I think that covers all the bases. 

To be continued once I’ve collected my thoughts and am able to
squeeze this forum into a busy “real” life.

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By Joan, May 31, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

Night Gaunt and Shenonymous and Maani if also interested,


One more point about Night Gaunt’s query on my comments about gods, higher powers and unquestioned faith in the human intellect.

Night inquired about my reasons for citing these observations.

I explained Night’s query insofar as he argued in favor of a powerful government, from my point a view a part of the purely academic exercise in which we were engaged. 

Regarding the question about my observation of Shenonymous’ unquestioned faith in the infallibility of her own intellect, I find that this is a pretty common trait of atheists. Frequently atheists also mock and ridicule faith based people for believing in “whatsis” type gods and for not being able to reason past silly beliefs that atheists have long ago transcended, priding themselves on their self –reliance while pitying the faith based for their weakness or just outright insulting faith based people.

Specifically, on the Hitchens’ thread, Shenonymous observed that Christ was a dumb liar and Manni, borderline lunatic for his views on lying. I in turn observed that Shenonymous had unquestioned faith etc, etc.….

So in this case, are we all or are we not all permitted offer our observations?

One last point with respect to the typical atheist’s unquestioned faith in his own infallible mind, the mind has great capacity to be brilliant. But from personal experience I know that the mind has limitless capacity to be fallible as well.

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By Shenonymous, May 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment

Joan, I don’t mind answering your questions.  It might be a
very long post as I tend to be long winded.  So before I do I have a
few questions for you.  Throughout the forum, you have never stated
what your morals are.  It seems you think your morals come from
god.  Are they universal?  Or subjective?  Maybe I misunderstood or
overlooked what you may have said.  How exactly do you go
about being a moral person?  What acts do you do that says you
adhere to a certain set of morals?  What exactly do you define
morals as?  Do you have a certain set?

My apologies to the migraine sufferers of the world.  No insult
intended, I said that already.  One ought to be able to find humor in
just about anything.  If you had read JD’s post you would see that he
was using migraine humorously, actually sarcastically, which gave rise
to my “sarcastic post.”  It was from a medical website whether or not it
was sufficiently extensive or not!  My own daughter is a sufferer, I said
that too, so I do know what it does to a person.  And ITW are
you now having a migraine?  I’m sorry if you are. If you want to belittle
a diabetic go ahead.  Your sarcasm about leukemia was not that funny! 
My grandpa died of leukemia and it was not funny.

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By wildflower, May 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment

Re Maani: “Believers base their morality on “God-given” truths and moral principles.  One is certainly free to be an athiest or agnostic and disagree with the existence of God and any such “absolute” morals, but at least believers have a BASIS for what they consider “moral” and “immoral.”

Specifically, what “moral” and “immoral” absolutes are these believers using to form the moral principles that you are referencing?  A few “moral” and “immoral” examples that you believe to be universal will suffice.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 30, 2010 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

Shenon:

Would you like to have someone belittle you for being a diabetes sufferer?  I’m glad you’ve never suffered from migraine—makes it so much easier to crack wise on those who do, posting a huge list of treatments, classifications of those treatments, and lists of causes.  As someone who usually is in agreement with you I’m baffled and even hurt by your assertion that it was all sarcastic.  Yeah! Let’s make fun of leukemia sufferers next! (THAT is sarcasm, BTW)

Maani, some, like Dr. Sachs, classify cluster headaches as an extreme form of migraine, that falls into the family of migraine.  I’m sorry you suffer them because they are supposed to be torture, but glad you found a treatment that DOES work for you (funny, it involves caffeine, too!)

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By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,

Life experience teaches me that we all have our gods i.e. money, the perfect body, the right friends, drugs, intellectualism… those things we cling to define our lives and provide life saving assistance, not only the body-saving assistance but the heart and soul kind of life saving assistance.

RE: the Hitchens post… you said that you want a strong authoritative government or “higher authority” (my words…being humorous). I concluded that given you also subscribe to a “free for all morality”, you need the strong arm of the law to protect you and yours. You know what? You are exactly right. In the midst of a society in which the people think it is all right for someone to swat annoying people who cause high blood pressure like flies there had damn well better be a strong government reining in that kind of morally unacceptable behavior. That strong government saves you so that the society can spawn amoral people who have to be controlled by a bully government instead of good character.

My question again to you is ...who makes these laws for this grand government? And if everyone’s morality is equally good, why should I and others have to do what this government says? Why can’t I do what I want to without fear of legal retribution? After all my morality is just as good as anyone else’s, right?

RE: rapists and murderers, I said that clearly they are not advocates of the Golden Rule. This is not news. I agree with you. I don’t know what you’re getting at.

Regarding you and Shenonymous, I make observations from your posts and stated them.

I don’t agree with either of you. I’m quite sure that’s my right for which I should not be attacked or be treated in the condescending manner with which I have been by Shenonymous.  I am a former academic. The questions I put to you both are the very kind my colleagues put to me and we, in turn, put to students in ethics seminars.

I know I am being pretty hard nosed here. I do not believe that people, you and She, get the implications of intellectualizing away moral absolutes and universals. This can be tantamount to eliminating morality from society entirely and that is a very dangerous outcome for our freewheeling, anything goes lifestyle these days. A lack of moral absolutes opens the door to people like Stalin to force their will on the defenseless because might or brute force, not moral rightness, makes right. So we have now opened the gateway to hell. 

Night Gaunt, you said it is in our self- interest to be moral and I agree but no one is going to be moral if we keep intellectualizing away morality itself. Regardless of what Ted Bundy says about it, it is NEVER OK to kill coeds and it is NEVER OK for me to kill off people who give me high blood pressure, Shenonymous saying it’s all right, notwithstanding.

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By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

You certainly do have theory of morality or a moral theory you adhere to, namely …what “X” does is morally acceptable for “X” and what “Y” does is morally acceptable for “Y”. 

Your theory implies that there are no moral universals or absolutes as opposed to Kant’s categorical imperative, for instance. Disavowing moral absolutes and universals is the ground for both JDmysticsDJ, Maani’s and my challenges.  Your theory falls into the category of ethics called ethical relativism on which books ad nauseam have been written. Ethical relativism is one of the centerpieces of debates in ethics today. It stands in counterpoint to moral absolutism.

I can state unequivocally that there is no moral transgression in identifying someone’s moral theories, especially in your moral worldview that asserts that what I do is morally OK for me and what you do is morally OK for you. 

Since I began to post, I have suspected that you do not fully grasp the implications of your views on morality, your theories. I have been using examples to try to make the implications of your cavalier attitude about morality closer to home…how does your morality, sans God, play out in practice because that is the crux of understanding morality. Does it work? You post lengthy responses to me but not many answers to my questions. 

You have misread my questions from my post to Night Gaunt (4:02 PM) re: the blood pressure issue but it was part of a general discussion of which you are a part so I figured you would answer the questions in the spirit they were asked as well as individually. Then you proceeded with an all out personal assault which I will not dignify.

On the Hitchens post you made the case to Maani that you would lie to protect your family. You were so incredulous of his response that you asked if he had any children. I thought you also said you would cheat too. If I am incorrect about the cheating, I apologize…but the again one can often make the case that under many circumstances lying is tantamount to cheating but I do not want to put words in your mouth.

My question is… if you are willing to transgress basic moral norms like lying to save yourself or your family, how far will you go to save yourself or family? Is it all right to lie to save yourself or your family but that means that mine would get whacked or many others would die?

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By Night-Gaunt, May 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Joan, you are again delving into the realm of the specious. It is the only way you can continue this.

“We all have our gods…those constructs we believe will save us when we need assistance ...for She, one of these gods is her own unquestioned faith in the infallibility of her own intellect and for Night, a higher authority.  The trick is choosing the right God because we pay for making bad choices.”

False premises produce false outcomes. Sometimes we need help from others, does that make them gods? Social organizations designed to help us like police, fire and EMS are not gods or to be considered such. False. So why are you saying such tripe? Obvious 6th grade maneuvers. Got anything better? Also when has Shenonymous or myself ever acted as if we are “infallible” or “a higher authority” to you or anyone? Is it because of how we write that bothers you? It isn’t what we write so much is how we do it. You are bothered by it and take offense. That is ego talking. That is a diversion, not part of our discussion. That is your problem not ours.

I thought I was clear about the “rape thing” since you left out that I said that those they rape and/or murder don’t want it to happen to them either. What do you not understand about it? There is a small percentage of people in any society that will do such things. And if laws aren’t moral than what do they represent? I am puzzled by what you said on that. Laws are the best we have until we can use surgery and environment to weed such dangerous deviance out for the public good. Not hurt them the way we do now with prison and reform schools which tend to make them better more dangerous criminals. Not to repair them. We need to fix them.

By-the-way what “higher authority” are you talking about that I genuflect to? Gov’t? Then yes but it must be made up of the best of us we can find. However it is no god unless those who want to believe substitute one artifact for another. I don’t. Checks and balances—-which we have lost over the years, especially since 1980. Because law and gov’t are made up of fragile, fallible humans. So don’t go pulling that juvenile debating 101 on me. It is insulting.

I don’t question your intelligence or person so please do the same for the rest of us. Thank you.

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By Shenonymous, May 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

It is good to have questions.  It makes one review one’s beliefs,
seeing into their essence, tighten up what might be loose or
uncertain or at least know the degree of uncertainty.  However
when dealing with other people, it is better to be more word
perfect when using the sentiments of others when trying to make
a case for yourself.  This is a recurrent sin you commit. 
Embellishing what others say. It is a common disease on these
kinds of blogs.  Nevertheless, you do have a problem, Joan. You
added the word cheat and attributed it to me.  Very dishonest of
you and quite frankly I do not want to answer you.  When you can
get my comments right and ask a decent question based on them,
then I will be most happy to engage in a discussion with you.

The trick is to be more attentive to what has been written, not address
your reinterpretation of what was written.  That goes for any discussion
of god and gods as well.  I have none so again you are in error when
you query about what I do or do not believe. 

Difficult as it might be for you to fathom, and it seems to be a serious
problem for you, I do not have faith, not in anything.  I have beliefs
that are based more or less on experiences.  You really have to get a
grip if you wish to talk with me about anything.

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By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous and Night Gaunt,

Just finished a quick pass over the “Hitchens” thread and a few more questions come to mind.

Shenonymous,

What if all the lying and cheating you’re will to do save your family means that my family and numerous others would be killed, is it still morally acceptable to do all that lying and cheating?

Night Gaunt,

Just who is entitled to set up this authoratitve goverment/moral code and impose it on us through force? (I’m secretly hoping it is those of us who believe in killing off annoying people to cure my high blood pressure LOL.) 

She and Night…

We all have our gods…those constructs we believe will save us when we need assistance ...for She, one of these gods is her own unquestioned faith in the infallibility of her own intellect and for Night, a higher authority.  The trick is choosing the right God because we pay for making bad choices.

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By RAE, May 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

““Either I am a Christian or I am not.”” said he.

I don’t believe that “thinking” voters elected a “Christian”... they elected a Congressman who, for some reason that escapes me, they expected would apply HIS BRAINS AND COMMON SENSE, not his religious, dogmatic brainwashing, to solve problems.

If he was a real Christian he’d be leading the masses to EFFECTIVELY revolt against the thieves and money-changers who infest Wall Street, as did his Christ with those creeps in the temple.

I also don’t believe you can pin his sexual daliances on his Christ either. Direct me to where Christ spoke of human sexuality or even where Christ’s sexuality is expressed or implied in the “good book.” If Christ had any sex at all it certainly was not of the “married” kind and for all we know it wasn’t even with a female. And I don’t give a damn if I’ve given a million Christians apoplexy even suggesting such a thing. My “interpretation” and guesses as to what anything means in the Bible are as GOOD AS ANYONE ELSE’S.

I guess what p*sses me off more than anything is the oh-so-smug meta-communication that is broadcast with every mention of “Christian Values.” NEITHER CHRIST nor CHRISTIANITY invented morals and good sense and I’m really offended by religious loudmouths who suggest that because I don’t drop to my knees and worship their “king” I’m some sort of amoral degenerate. I may be a lot of things but at least I don’t SAY ONE THING AND DO QUITE SOMETHING ELSE as does every Chrisian I know.

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By Shenonymous, May 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

I’ll tell you where to get off Joan, and that is to stop saying
I have a theory of morality.  It does not do your argument any good
to willfully attribute something to someone when it isn’t true.  That
really is an act of immorality.  You seem to be unable to recount
what I said possibly because you are willfully blind.  What you
accuse just isn’t there. I’ve checked my every post. I’m sure I’m
writing in plain English and do admit to using some words
occasionally with which many are not familiar.  You might get a space
sled and ride it back to earth for it sure seems like you are not in this
world. In lieu of the space sled, you could cite day and time and exact
quote in context of what you claim I said.

I’ve no opinion about your having high blood pressure. I’ve not said a
word about it.  So again you fabricate something you would like for me
to have said.  But didn’t.  If I had such a condition I would see my
doctor. It has nothing to do with morality.

The hypothetical, “if PETA gained the prominence to mandate animal
rights,” is frivolous.  Frivolous because you propose a fringy moral
theory that animals have more rights than humans, and what human
would vote for that?  Idiots maybe.  I am glad that your Christianity
would not go for such an arrangement.  I don’t know any atheist that
would either.  So why you hang that on secularists is beyond any
reason or evidence.  No one is saying your faith-based morality is
tenuous.  If you are persuaded by your religion to be a moral person,
then that is a good thing as many people need that kind of coercion
not finding any moral strength within their self.  Religion has probably
been most instrumental in keeping immorality at bay, not eliminating it
but kept it under control, with the help, of course, of secular police
departments.  But there are non-believers who do not need coercion to
be moral and that is one of my major points.  Do see if you can argue
against that one.

I do not suffer migraines or headaches of any kind.  Nor do I have high
blood pressure, I am a diabetic but it is so much under control that my
doctor has reduced my medications three times in the last two years.  I
am a fit atheist who is a moral person meaning I highly value human
life and take care to not hurt anyone and have taught my children the
same principles.  By observing the world and how people behave in it, I
came to these conclusions intuiting the values I hold.  You can call that
objective truth or subjective truth, you will judge. There are far more
hypocrites in the religious world, as that is where the judgment of
hypocrisy usually is needed.  As a rule atheists are not hypocrites
having no pretenses from coercive morality.  That does not say some
atheists do not break the law.  Atheists have just as much iniquitous
behavior as religionists.  But, if one was an atheist and only pretended
to be one, like pretended to be a Christian, then that atheist would be
a hypocrite.

There are lots of idioms that express when someone is acting in a
hypocritical manner. “The pot calling the kettle black,” is classic and
“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” is popular.
Both represent a modern view on hypocrites in general. I live in a glass
house.

The hypocrite is someone who pretends to be more pious, more
virtuous without really being so. A hypocrite is someone who always
says one thing and does the opposite, who pretends to tell the truth
but in fact tells lies.  Also, someone who acts in the way that he
specifically criticizes is acting in a hypocritical way. They set double
standards: one for themselves, and one for the rest of the world.  I do
believe this is the attitude of the piously religious.

Sometimes when I go to a Halloween Party I go as a hypocrite, not
always though.  Sometimes I go as a Christian, but the others at the
party cannot ever tell the difference.

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By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

I certainly salute you for your diligence and valuable time spent to respond. Thank you. 

Please can you just answer these few questions as per my post to Night Gaunt and previous posts to you…

****By suggesting there are better ways for me to handle the blood pressure issue, you are arguing that some of your guidelines ought to guide me or my behavior, namely that I ought to find a better way to handle the blood pressure situation.  Now if your morality is OK and mine is OK too, ala Shenonymous’ moral theory, just where do you get off telling me how to behave based on your particular moral guidelines even if in this case yours are inarguably better than mine?

****If secularists have no objective/non-subjective basis for morality and its consequent laws, then secularists have no basis to say any of my behavior is morally unacceptable. Hence, anything goes, Dostoyevsky, in a nut a shell. Do you understand why I take this position? Do you understand why it is a very serious problem if there is no basis to a societal moral code that does not countenance something more substantive than what anyone says is moral is actually moral?

I would not suggest that we do not make personal moral decisions based on various reasons, both faith based folks and secularists. I am not arguing either group is morally superior. I am arguing that, absent God, society lacks an objective moral order and morality. Morality left entirely to man’s devices, totally subjective, is dangerous. First, under these conditions as JDmysticDJ points out morality, in man’s hands alone, can be intellectualized away. Second, morality can be reduced to “might makes right”, giving control to brutes like Kim Jong Il and Joe Stalin. What basis does a secularist have to reject Stalin’s/PETA’s moral code if morality is subjective?

I agree with Night Gaunt that it is in our own self- interest to behave morally and if I may add, it is much easier to behave morally when others do. likewise.

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By Joan, May 30, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Night Gaunt,

Not following you about rapists and murderers. I agree. They don’t want to be raped or murdered. So they don’t like the Golden Rule. So what else is new? 

Laws are not found in the cabbage patch. They have a basis, an underlying moral substratum. In America and Western culture many laws are based on Judeo/Christian moral codes i.e. no killing, no stealing, no lying. Lawmakers appealed to “J/C” morality (like Jefferson did in “the Declaration”) because they believed that with God as the author, these laws would command universal respect and adherence. In other words people would buy into such laws as a reasonable basis to live, surrendering their personal preferences at times, and accept society’s right to exert the pain of punishment on those who fail to observe them, like rapists and (high blood pressure serial) killers. This system of laws generates order that keeps us relatively safe.  My point has nothing to do with my example per se except to serve as an eye opener. My point is… If secularists have no objective/non- subjective basis for morality and its consequent laws, then secularists have no basis to say any of my behavior is morally unacceptable. Hence, anything goes, Dostoyevsky, in a nut a shell.

Of course there are better ways of dealing with high blood pressure than killing people with a few exceptions LOL. Knocking some off may better protect my health and save my nickel so then I can use my time and money for more fun things than lifetime prescription refills but I digress…..

By suggesting there are better ways for me to handle the blood pressure issue, you are arguing that some of your guidelines ought to guide me or my behavior, namely that I ought to find a better way to handle the blood pressure situation.  Now if your morality is OK and mine is OK too, ala Shenonymous’ moral theory, just where do you get off telling me how to behave based on your particular moral guidelines even if in this case yours are inarguably better than mine?

The blood pressure case extreme? Not necessarily. I have put out that example for illustrative reasons. This “my morality is OK and so is yours” attitude is rampant in our society, not a minority viewpoint. Right now you feel safe with that “everyone’s morality is OK” view because we have a strong system of laws that is prejudiced toward individual rights, really based on Judeo/Christian morality and its strong tenet of holding the dignity of man in high esteem, virtually paramount. PETA is an animals’ rights group. What if PETA somehow gained enough prominence to mandate that animals’ rights take greater precedence or have greater rights than people? Can a secular moralist object to that?  A faith based one certainly could. Is it extreme to think animal rights could take precedence over human need…no. 

Not to be left out, I do not get migraines; just high blood pressure and you all know how I think that ought to be handled. LOL.

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By Maani, May 30, 2010 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

ITW/She:

[She: “I hope this doesn’t start a spate of various illnesses and remedies.”  Too late!  LOL]

Hah!  Migraines are pikers!  For over 20 years I suffered from cluster headaches, which make migraines look mild.  Clusters have been called the most painful condition a human can bear (with the possible exceptions of childbirth and tooth abcesses), and are completely incapacitating: if you cannot prevent the headache, NOTHING ON THE PLANET will alleviate the pain once it starts.

For years I tried everything, including both Big Pharma products (I was actually in the original clinical trials for ergotamine - it did diddly squat…LOL) and homeopathic and natural remedies. Nada.

Ultimately, working with my doctor over a period of trial and error that lasted over a decade, I got my condition under control with what ended up being the simplest method possible: as soon as I felt even a twinge of one coming on, I would drink an 8-ounce glass of water with two ibuprofen (which had just been made available OTC), followed by a cup of coffee (caffeine having just been found to help in many migraine cases), and another 8-ounce glass of water.  In 90% of cases, this method would either prevent the headache or keep it to a mere annoyance.

Note also that, for the first decade or so, my clusters also triggered TIAs (transient ischemic attacks).  In my case, the major symptom was the exact reverse of most TIAs: I lost control of all neuro-motor function for as long as four hours, during which almost every part of my body would flail in spasms and I would over-produce every possible secretion, including sweat, saliva, mucus…

Thankfully, the TIAs stopped, and I have not had a full-on cluster headache for almost a decade.  I still get the occasional quasi-migraine, but after dealing with clusters for so long, migraines are bearable enough to actually allow me to finish out my day.

Anyway, I empathize with ITW, and thank She for her well-intentioned (if, as she claims, tongue-in-cheek…LOL) partial list of remedies.

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, May 30, 2010 at 5:09 am Link to this comment

ITW how hysterical! Obviously I was not being definitive as
much as being funny.  You know, trying to bring in a touch of
sarcastic levity?  The postings were getting over the edge in
sarcasm and flinging the common shit that gets thrown about
so often. But that you would take it to the nth degree is really
a hoot.  I hope this doesn’t start a spate of various illnesses and
remedies.  I am truly sorry you are a sufferer of migraine, possibly
mal grande seizures, and that you found my post so lacking!  One
of my daughters also so suffers.  I’m sure your expansion on the
subject will be appreciated by all. I just picked up my little ‘ditty’, as
Leefeller might call it, on the net and dropped it in.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 30, 2010 at 4:14 am Link to this comment

Shenon:

As a long-term migraine sufferer I can guarantee you that 99.99% of the things on your list are useless to me.  Yet every “expert” on migraines always gives me such a list.  One can live on soy nuts, celery and mountain spring water and STILL suffer migraines.

Nor is your list of medications and medication types complete. There are far more treatments. And far more causes.

I have searched for triggers for 30 years and found only peanuts as a food trigger—and only in the last 10 years.  Before that, nothing.  Yet I’ve been told to avoid chocolate, cheese, wine, etc, etc.  Stress is frequently listed as a cause of migraines, but many sufferers will tell you it’s when the stress abates that the event hits.  This, of course, is in line with what follows:

What a migraine seems to be caused by, physically, is a sudden rush of blood to the brain, almost like a flood. Post-stress is a good case—you relax and blood vessels dialate. This is why SO many medications are vaso-constrictors.  Ergotamine is particularly effective one, but the side effects can be vicious—worse than the migraine itself.  I used it years ago because it would allow me to get home—and then wipe me out for 2 or 3 days.

Prevention by medication is usually in the form of Beta-blockers or other psychotropic drugs.  For SOME patients they can be effective, but success with them seems to be limited.

Migraine isn’t even really easy to categorize—symptomology can vary from patient to patient.  I, for one, do not suffer photophobia or phonophobia (sensitivity to light and sound).  Many sufferers do not get the “aura”, technically a hallucination of flashing lights and patterns and numbness of limbs and parts of the face that is quite disturbing.  These patterns are quite well-documented—jagged eye-brow shapes and circular saw blades, in rainbow colors.

Of course the WORST and most infamous symptom of migraine is crushing, all-enveloping mind-numbing pain, but not every sufferer gets that (Thankfully, I usually get only mild pain, if at all).  Some get that and not the aura.

Other typical symptoms include nausea and vomiting (especially from the pain), production of excessive amounts of clear urine, diarrhea, chills, cold sweats, flush.  I pity those who get all that AND the pain.

A wise doctor tries to get a complete list of EVERYTHING the patient has tried.  There are all sorts of treatments.  Narcotics usually means the doctor either has missed medications or exhausted the whole literature.

Sumatriptin and similar drugs in the class can be effective—it’s a pretty good class that helps a lot of people.  It’s one of the few that can help my own case.  But there are others, too.

Emergency first aid, if no meds are available are heavy doses of caffeine.  For me, combined with lots of sugar, it can abort a migraine as effectively as drugs.  Regular Coke/Pepsi, heavily sweetened espresso, even coffee and a chocolate bar can help. Jolt Cola is especially good.  Sugar seems to be a multiplier to the caffeine, which is itself a multiplier used with other meds, like ergotamine (Novaratis has marketed Cafergot for decades). One doctor told me an older treatment for patients with nausea was an enema using espresso (I assumed cooled to body temp).

One of the best books on the subject is by Oliver Sachs—yeah the same one Robin Williams played opposite Robert DeNiro.  Sachs approaches the subject with a surprisingly open mind.

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By Shenonymous, May 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

JDmystiDJ, There are 2 types of medicines for migraine
treatments. One type focuses on relieving the headache pain. This
type of treatment should be started as soon as you think you’re
getting a migraine. The other type includes medicines that are
used to prevent headaches before they occur.

Nonprescription medicines that can help relieve migraine pain include
aspirin, acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol), an acetaminophen,
aspirin and caffeine combination (one brand name: Excedrin Migraine),
ibuprofen (one brand name: Motrin), naproxen (brand name: Aleve),
and ketoprofen (brand name: Orudis KT).

However, people who have more severe pain may need prescription
medicine. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or
combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to
ergotamine and can be helpful.

Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan,
zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan and
frovatriptan.

If the pain won’t go away, stronger medicine may be needed, such as a
narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate. These medicines can
be habit-forming and should be used cautiously.

Things that can set off migraines include the following:
•  Strong or unusual odors, bright lights or loud noises
•  Changes in weather or altitude
•  Feeling tired, stressed or depressed
•  Changes in sleeping patterns
•  Certain foods (see the list below), especially those that contain
      tyramine, sodium nitrate or phenylalanine
•  Missing meals or fasting
•  Menstrual periods, birth control pills or hormonal changes (in
        women)
•  Intense physical activity, including sexual activity
•  Smoking
•  Fumes

Try to avoid foods or other things that seem to cause migraines for
you. Keep a journal to help you identify triggers. Get plenty of sleep
and drink plenty of fluids. Try to relax and reduce the stress in your
life. Also try to get regular exercise. Aerobic exercise can help reduce
tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to
migraines.
You aren’t fat are you? 

Foods that may trigger migraines:
•  Aged, canned, cured or processed meat, including bologna, game,
ham, herring, hot dogs, pepperoni and sausage
•  Aged cheese
•  Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine
•  Aspartame
•  Avocados
•  Beans, including pole, broad, lima, Italian, navy, pinto and
      garbanzo
•  Brewer’s yeast, including fresh yeast coffee cake, donuts and
      sourdough bread
•  Caffeine (in excess)
•  Canned soup or bouillon cubes
•  Chocolate, cocoa and carob
•  Cultured dairy products, such as buttermilk and sour cream
•  Figs
•  Lentils
•  Meat tenderizer
•  Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
•  Nuts and peanut butter
•  Onions, except small amounts for flavoring
•  Papaya
•  Passion fruit
•  Pea pods
•  Pickled, preserved or marinated foods, such as olives and pickles,
      and some snack foods
•  Raisins
•  Red plums
•  Sauerkraut
•  Seasoned salt
•  Snow peas
•  Soy sauce

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By Shenonymous, May 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

That was a parry JD but it was a bit off.  It was obfuscatedly
muddled.  Sorry you suffer migraines.  Did you say where I was
moralizing and acting superior?  What? Just all over the place?  Then
you don’t really know that you are just talking out of your ___.  Is that
your schtick?  A scale of superiority?  You seem bent on definitively
defining nihilist which really is a ventilatable topic.  The nihilist would
not want to save the world, as he would not think it worth saving.  So
your elaboration is excessively dippy. 

Sergius Stepniak a 19th century Russian Nihilist expressed the
common view of Nihilists as “deniers of everything, striving after
destruction for destruction’s sake.” A nihilist would believe that all
values are flimsy and frivolous, useless, and baseless, and there is no
basis for knowledge or truth whatsoever.  Nihilists have a lack of
principles, they lack belief in anything except a belief in the lack of
belief, and they lack attachment, especially to a pre-existing social
order.  5 yups.

“Hey, I’m a nihilist, I don’t believe in anything, not even nihilism…”

“Nihilism is not only despair and negation, but above all the desire to
despair and to negate.” – A saying I heard once.

Moving on.  5 more yups, I am unreal.  I am an electronic ghost.  Your
balestra missed the target.  You should take your lunges a little slower
and with less flourish.  You seem to have a “thing” about and against
intellectualizing.  One often hates what one doesn’t have.  But your
paltry attempt at it is more or less like a Jon Stewart skit.  You don’t
appear callous, you appear callow.  You may have documentation that
might say you had reached a certain age, however, pieces of paper do
not corroborate what goes on in the mindless.  Your defense is childish.
But it is a defense.  And it is not only I who is being fooled, the entire
forum is being entertaining.  I did not ask for definitions of the word
‘if.” I ask if my if was any different than Chomsky’s if and obviously
you are unable to make that evaluation which would not take much
intellect to accomplish.  A lot of verbal hyperventilating without saying
very much takes a bit of breathing talent.  When exactly did you learn
to do that?  You don’t give my arguments attention because you
cannot.  Plain and simple.  You don’t lack what you never had,
professionalism.  It is with much regret that you dodge intelligent
answers and spend your thinking and writing time trying to come up
with the most sarcastic responses that you can.  You need better
bathroom reading material.  It was sophomoric, so maybe you have
advanced a tad.  Let’s see how long does adolescence last?  It is not my
intention to verbally fence with you and you surely can find better
opponents than me.  I would expect that you would respond to this
reply but I will not continue after this since there was no “real” content
to your missiles aimed at me and there is no reason to expect any ‘real’
content in your next post.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous
RE: Recent correspondence

“Your baiting is unbecoming JDmysticDJ.  You accuse me of
what?  Acting morally superior?  M’thinks you have nothing
especially pertinent to say so an attack is quite natural for lack
of a good argument.  Is that all the better you can do?”
“You shall have to show where I was moralizing or acting superior. 
You only accuse in a most adolescent way.  I am surprised as you
pretended to be an adult for a good long time.  Sure fooled me. 
You accuse me of stone throwing but you heave boulders.  At least
Maani takes the time to argue.  You did not distinguish Chomsky’s ‘if’
from my ‘if’.  You did not show that my definition of universality was
different than Chomsky’s.  You did not address whether universal
implies abstraction.  Or how universal works if it isn’t.  You don’t deal
with my argument, you simply hit and run comment.  I responded
directly to your comment about the tautological nature of whether one’s
attempt to annihilate anything does not make one an nihilist?  You
don’t deal with anything really.  Fluff.  Were you offended that there
were solid replies to your sophistic approach?  I am willing to work
through ideas, but not with someone who pikes on answers.”
“Yes, you should remember do no harm.”


Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for your recent thoughtful, well reasoned, and respectful correspondence. You have raised several issues that are deserving of lengthy tautology. However, I am presently preparing for a much needed respite. I will soon be embarking on a pike fishing excursion, so I lack the necessary hours to reply sufficiently to your requests for clarification regarding Noam Chomsky’s statement pertaining to Universal morality, and your requests for my, and Mr. Chomsky’s, definition of universality. The two paragraphs in question are very complex, and give rise to seemingly endless questions, and requests for definitions.

I will endeavor to answer some of your other allegations at this time.

I apologize for unbecoming baiting, as a fisherman, I’m well aware that baiting is unbecoming, but unavoidable.

If M thinks that I have nothing pertinent to say, that’s regrettable, but I have no control of, and little concern for M’s opinions of pertinence. Frankly, I think that M is impertinent.

Your accusations of attacks and boulder pitching are entirely unfounded and delusional. If you pursue litigation on these matters, my attorneys will file a counter suit. You have maliciously attacked me, and implied that my moral character does not stand up to scrutiny. You claim that my morality does not measure up to standards, but the impunity of my moral standards will become evident in any future litigation.

M further states that that I lack a good argument and asks, “Is that all the better you can do?” I can only respond, that’s the best I can do.

Your request for documentation regarding my assertion of your moralizing and acting superior is not necessary. I have never accused you of being moral, and you only need to review your recent correspondence in order to verify my assertion of your superiority. Your superiority is evident in virtually all of your correspondence. Every paragraph and every sentence, indeed even your choice of words, implies your superiority. You display every quality that defines a superior, liberal elitist, and secularist. Your one flaw seems to be that you are overly sensitive, with an attendant

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By Anarcissie, May 29, 2010 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

So we have this predicament:  Just as no one can prove to the unbeliever that there is a God, or gods, or even the need for one, so no one can prove to the dedicated skeptic that there is an absolute, universal moral system.  Those who require one or the other are thrown back on faith; but many people don’t seem to require either.  In any case one person’s faith is as good as another’s, however absolute the believers may believe their beliefs to be.

Thus far our approach seems highly unsatisfactory.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous
RE: Recent Correspondence,  Page #2

You assert that I am an adolescent, if I were an adolescent; you would be subject to charges of child abuse.

I am not pretending to be an adult; I have all the necessary documentation to prove my self to be an adult. Clearly your claim of being fooled is foolish.

You have asked for definitions of the world “if.” If I had more time, and if this were an easy matter, I would attempt to define definitions for the word if, and the variety of uses for the word if, but I can’t help but wonder if this attempt would lead to much tautology. If I could respond without being excessively tautological I would do so, but I fear that the prospects of successfully doing so are too iffy. Let me suggest that you reference a dictionary, “If” would be listed under “I” with an F added.

Regarding the definition for the word universality, again referencing a dictionary would be most expeditious. The word will be listed under “U” followed by “N-I-V-E … and so on. Don’t confuse the word “Universality” with the word “Universe,” the word “Universe” would be much too expansive, and the word “Universal” has resulted in an infinitely tautological circular time warp, and hyperspace conversion that is unexplainable. The word “Universal” has become far too abstract with its lack of abstraction, and its workings appear to be metaphysical.

With much regret, I can not give your arguments the attention they deserve, the pike are waiting, and I am looking forward with anticipation to the thrill that occurs when they hit and run. “Hitting and running” is my favorite pastime. I sometimes fear that my obsession with “Hitting and running” has become a moral weakness.

I digress; please forgive the lack of professionalism, I’m having difficulty giving your correspondence any significance, it must be the afore mentioned anticipation that is distracting me.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous
RE: Previous Correspondence, Page #3

Back to business, you say,

“I responded directly to your comment about the tautological nature of whether one’s
attempt to annihilate anything does not make one an nihilist?” 

After much contemplation, I’m developing a migraine; I’ll have to move on - Briefly, according to my dictionary, a nihilist rejects values and morals, and advocates absolute destruction of the world and oneself. Attempting to annihilate, anything, may not achieve a nihilist’s ultimate goals. Apparently a nihilist would need to destroy everything and not just anything. Perhaps attempting to destroy everything would make one a nihilist and attempting to destroy anything would make one nihilistic in regard to that anything. Regarding the tautological nature, I can only say, I’ll have to move on, this tautological nature seems needlessly repetitive and its making my head hurt. Without wishing to appear too callous, I’ll comment that a nihilist could save the world by destroying himself, but saving the world would necessitate a universal self destruction by nihilists. I’ll suggest that this would be usefully repetitive. To elaborate, I’ll suggest that a universal self destruction of nihilists could be described as a universal messianic redundancy, if it resulted in the world being saved… On second thought, messianic would imply the saving of souls and not terrestrial salvation…moving on

You say that I don’t deal with anything really. Really? I guess I’ll need to get real, but as long as we’re being critical, I’ll say you are really un-real. All this intellectualizing and the use of words that obfuscate rather than clarify is annoying. “You can go to you’re College, you can go to your school, and but if you ain’t got…” and so on.

“Fluff”? I’m puzzled by this “Fluff” comment. Is it intended to be harmful in some way? I’ll take a wild guess and interpret this comment as being a disparaging insult and a portrayal of my previous comments as being trivial, lacking in substance, and unworthy of consideration by a person of your clearly superior stature. Apparently, you and Maani have reached a substantive point of agreement, in spite of your differences, that’s a good thing, much preferable to angry insults, intolerance, and accusations of inadequate intellectual faculties.

Was I offended by your solid replies to my sophistic approach? No, but I’m offended by your calling my comments specious, but clever. You would have been better served by simply saying they were specious rather than sophistic. I prefer to think that my comments were in some cases cogent, and mildly sarcastic in other cases. Sometimes, but not often enough, my comments become satirical. Satire is easy in certain situations. Actually, I prefer my comments to be well reasoned and persuasive, but satire can be used to respond to blatant arrogance, and frivolous criticisms, or feigned misunderstandings designed to obfuscate obviously valid statements which define moral virtue. I’m inclined to become a piker with my answers in such situations. Clearly the questions asked in such situations are not intended to work through misunderstandings, but are intended to obfuscate and diminish.

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By Maani, May 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:

“And then there is the problem of all those who follow God’s commandments and went on to torture and murder witches in his name etc. as they were commanded. How do you deal with that? And if you know of a witch and do not kill them then aren’t you now condemned for protecting them? The same with eating cows and shellfish also wearing clothes made up of two different fibers? What kind of morality is that to follow?”

Actually, you seem to be confusing religious “law” with religious “morality.”  The “laws” proscribing witches, shellfish, certain clothes, etc. are not “moral” laws, though there are, of course, many moral laws in the Bible.  And although one can (if one chooses to) ascribe morality even to non-moral laws, this would be yet another sticky wicket to deal with.

By the way, I assume you are mixing the “laws” of different religions, since the proscription against cows is Hindu, not Judeo-Christian.

Peace.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

I don’t. They are implicit and explicit in everything we do whether on a personal scale or all the way to a national and international dimension.

Morals are just the codified elements of how we treat each other. To make it universal, or recognize one as such is important in one sense but also from a personal level from which it flows.

Nature isn’t fair. We are the only ones that can balance that particular scale. Again both personally and as a species. What we do is what we are.

I am taking a break—-later, by.

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By Shenonymous, May 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Partial reply as have some errands and other things to do.  There is
plenty here though as is my style. 

No, Joan.  It is not my morality that would allow you to kill anyone,
no one at all. I am against killing in general.  I would not hesitate
however to protect myself or those I love and care about against
attack.  But that is a side issue.  As is the issue regarding PETA, though
I do consider pets to be special creatures and could tell a hugely
sorrowful story but it would be a totally digressive act. So I won’t.

As can be seen from my previous posts, I actually do not have a
“system” of moral relativism, nor one of absolutism.  That is exactly
the question the table.  What is the nature of morals, are they relative,
or are they universal?  Implications follow which ever way one goes. I
understand Dostoyevsky’s thesis.  I’ve read Crime and Punishment, The
Brothers K, the Possessed (aka The Devils), and the Idiot.

In the Possessed, Dostoevsky’s political philosophy is highlighted and
the focus is on the idea that utopias and positivist ideas are essentially
utilitarian, and are quixotically realistic and not really obtainable.  They
are impossible for him.  Criticizing both left idealists and right
conservatives he found both their ideas and ideology demonic and
inept in being able to deal with their own political dogma and what
could be their possible horrible social results.  Furthermore in that
story, questioned is if someone has no sympathy for mankind in the
least and that person would have no compunction to not rape and
cause the suicide of an 11-year old girl, or would not hesitate to have
his own wife and brother in law murdered,  and would not shrink from
causing more evil conduct towards others. What is the morality here
involved, is it subjective or universal?  And when he claims his wanton
behevior was caused by illness, that disease caused his henious
behavior, we have to think wasn’t Fyodor dealing with morals, not only
as exemplified in the single man, Stavrogin subjectively, but as
archetypical behaviors for all of mankind. 

Here, then, do we see a case made for Universal Morality?  To be
universal, we have to acknowledge objective morality.  However in order
for anyone to make that leap to objective morality, one has to intuit,
see with one’s own mind, the value in morals, hence there is the
necessary subjective element.  This is my thesis and was my thesis in
my earlier posts. Or if I didn’t state it clealy enough, I hope I have this
time.  I don’t see how one can escape both the subjective and the
objective when it comes to morals.  Do you?

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By Shenonymous, May 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

While there are many ways to critique a work of literature, this is
my way for an understanding of Dostoyevsky.

In the Idiot, Dostoyevsky is intent on illustrating the positively
good man, a Christ figure.  In this story the individual verses
society is the paradigm and it partially fits our question. The story
contains protagonist Christlike figure in Myshkin and the Devil-like
‘dark’ character Rogozhin.  Thesis and Antithesis.  Theist and atheist.
Myshkin loves only out of pity, i.e., Christian love, whereas the Devil
loves with deep passion.  An interesting and unusual comparison. The
question is whether the saccharin love the young woman develops for
Myshkin was indeed fulfilling or only fulfilling a service for the God
that command all things.  Where is the moral here?  Of course these
characters are metaphors for larger quarry such as the society in
which they are found.  Are the materialistic values the society exhibits
or the depravity of certain figures in the story are archetypically about
morality.  Does the illustration say anything about universal morals and
do they exist outside any particularity?  Or do they only represent local
morals of the way people behave towards one another. 

These anecdotes are what I am talking about Joan.  I have my own set
of morals, as I said, I have them because I intuited, I saw from my own
conscience, that there were just ways it seems people ought to behave
towards one another in genuine and authentic ways.  For instance,
when you declare yourself to be a friend that carries with it a lot of
baggage that asks what does it mean to be a friend.  Many express
friendship but have only a veneer idea of what it means. 

So where does that leave us?  I would hope more discussion is on tap
as I think it wholly important that a dialogue happen between, among
those who have different ideas, and yet can tolerate those that do not
match one’s own.

I will try to deal more directly to your good question Joan about God
and morality next post later this evening.

I think Night-Gaunt brings excellent points to light.  I will think about
them in my travels.

It seems morality is being discussed on at least four TD forums at the
same time!  What has happened?  Also it is being tossed about on the
news and news editorial programs.  I wonder if this ‘new’ consciousness
about morals will do us(us humans of the world) any good?

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By Night-Gaunt, May 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

It is in our own personal best interests to be moral. As I iterated before the murderer or rapist doesn’t want what they do to happen to them. They wish to get away with it. For some laws or personal views of such things just do not compute for them. They are in the minority and we must guard against them and protect ourselves. The majority would not do such things unless given an out to. Such as in social break down and superiors saying they can. Only the strongest among us would not do so under any conditions. The reason why we have laws in the first place and the police to enforce them are for those who would want to do it regardless of laws. They are in the minority of single digit percentages of the population. So you Joan were using the most extreme and demented of minorities as your lynchpin to your argument. Such is it your fatal flaw in your reasoning.

I have asked you specifically, Shenonymous, absent God, why it was not morally acceptable for me to kill off annoying people like annoying flies because after all they make my blood pressure go up and that is harmful to me. In the “my morality is OK for me and your morality is OK for you” world of Shenonymous, you argued it is morally acceptable for me kill annoying people off like annoying flies but members of society might not like it…Right? And even some people might not like killing off flies. And I identified these as members of PETA. Right?

First of all PETA members do not kill people. Second of all there are other ways of dealing with your high blood pressure than murder isn’t there? Specious reasoning for a specious, flawed argument. And then there is the problem of all those who follow God’s commandments and went on to torture and murder witches in his name etc. as they were commanded. How do you deal with that? And if you know of a witch and do not kill them then aren’t you now condemned for protecting them? The same with eating cows and shellfish also wearing clothes made up of two different fibers? What kind of morality is that to follow? Not one I would do so with the implied threat of being on their kill list. The difference between personal preference and bigotry in motion.

The difference between a hater and a bigot is the first just thinks that way the latter acts on it. Which are you? The rest of us must be moral in order to stop the very few who are not and who act on their hatreds to others. Robbing them of their liberties and life. It isn’t only self interest but because we believe in the sanctity of humans to own themselves but not others. That is the side secularists are on. Aren’t all of you too?

I would not do so to them but that is irrelevant to them. Just not to me.

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By Joan, May 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous and Night Gaunt, Maani et al,

First off, you need to understand the flaws in your reasoning and second, the implications of those flaws.

I have asked you specifically, Shenonymous, absent God, why it was not morally acceptable for me to kill off annoying people like annoying flies because after all they make my blood pressure go up and that is harmful to me. In the “my morality is OK for me and your morality is OK for you” world of Shenonymous, you argued it is morally acceptable for me kill annoying people off like annoying flies but members of society might not like it…Right? And even some people might not like killing off flies. And I identified these as members of PETA. Right?

I countered that response with a question. Why should these namby- pamby, uppity people have the right to force their squeamish morality on me by punishing me for killing annoying people? After all, Shenonymous, you said my morality of killing annoying people is OK and so is yours and, from this line of reasoning, I conclude, it follows that the morality of squeamish people who don’t like killing is also OK. Furthermore, you said that secular morality has no basis. Therefore, these squeamish people have no right or basis to say my morality is “bad” because without a basis for secular morality there is no reason to punish me for doing a “ bad “ thing. 

The flaw in your reasoning is that personal preference is not sufficient to be a moral code because de fact everyone’s morality is OK and no one can be denied any behavioral impulse, from you to Night Gaunt, Maani, or me, a potential serial killer of annoying people and flies. Morality as personal preference is simply a free for all. Everyone is right from Ted Bundy to Mother Teresa. This is why people from Plato to Aristotle to Christ to Kant to Rawls to Chomsky struggle to identity a basis for morality, for universal agreement about what is right and wrong to make just laws to keep society humming along and keep little people like you and me safe in our beds at night.

If it as all right for me to kill annoying people and I do it, I will no doubt, generate more annoyed people and perhaps set off a Hatfield and McCoy feud not tamed for centuries.  One morality is not as good as another. Not killing people is a much better moral code than willy- nilly swatting them like flies.  Intuitively, you and Nigh Gaunt argue why we do not kill people like flies but your “my morality is OK and so is yours” theory is a very bad idea. As JDmysticDJ says repeatedly, you have just dismantled all morality with that position. Now no one is safe.

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By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

First, let me assure you that I do NOT “dismiss” secularists or their morality.  And it would be absurd for me (or anyone) to disagree that the morality of secularists and the morality of believers overlaps in places, and that this leads toward a “mutual” morality that is, ipso facto, moving toward “universality,” if not always getting there.

This still leaves the issue of the foundational basis for secularist morality, though you and others have provided various good bases for it, many of which bases also overlap, leading to what would seem a broader agreement among secularists on this issue than I might have imagined; i.e., that while there are in fact a number of bases rather than the “singular” one for believers, the secularist bases are still fewer in number than the thinking believer might expect.

That said, I think we are finally on the verge of a broad agreement on the overall issue and its related aspects, in as much as they have been discussed and debated here.  Your most recent post is most welcome in that regard.  Brava.

Peace.

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By Anarcissie, May 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

“Anarcissie answers the question about nihilism tidily.”

‘Anarcissie untidily gave an incorrect definition of nihilism.’

Actually, the word nihilism is used with several meanings.  Among them are: any kind of generally negative view in philosophy, morals, or politics; a doctrine that nothing exists; a doctrine that no legitimate political authority exists; a denial that universal, absolute moral values exist.  Now I will beat you all with some URLs culled from Google—no, I won’t.  Just put “nihilism” in Google and you’ll get your beating.  You’ll see that the untidiness does not start with me but with them.  I think the meaning I chose is the most predominant, except when discussing 19th-century Russian politics.

I started thinking about nihilism several years ago because I was concerned with the issue of “animal rights” or “animal liberation” and I was trying to draw up a sort of ethical scheme for the perplexed, 1, 2, 3, 4….  but I realized that ahead of any sort of ethical structure one has to accept that ethical structures that apply to everyone actually exist.  So point 0 was: We have to decide we are not nihilists about this issue.  (In this case I am using the term nihilism as I gave it first.  My own views on this matter are religious, which sidesteps the problem.)

Nihilism is actually a rather difficult position to overcome.  Most people seem to just shrug off ethical problems they’re not interested in.  They don’t deny that there are no universal, absolute ethical values, they just ignore the question, or make fun of it, which is even more effective.  Moralizing logically obviously gets you nowhere, as you haven’t established a common set of axioms to work from.  One observes this most clearly when the question, like the moral status of animals, is marginal.  Discussions tend to become rather circular. 

There remains insulting other people, taking umbrage, and the inevitable citation of a certain unpleasant German leader of bygone days.

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By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

Maani - I’m not sure that was the force of my answer -
you said “Re Joan, from what I understand of her posts, she was
simply noting, based on the specific topic of the debate at hand,
that - for better or worse, supportable or not - believers have a
foundation for their “absolute” morals based on their belief in a
God who prescribed those morals, whereas secularists do not
have such an “absolute” basis for their morality - as can be
readily seen from this very debate, since you, She, Night-Gaunt
et al - the secularists - cannot agree on what basis you claim
your morality.”

My reply - and I gave you the basis - but let me try again.  There is no
universal basis for secular morality.  So it is academic that whatever
morality secularists or atheists live by would not by necessity be shared
broadly but that does not preclude that many have the same moral
codes.  The quotient of morality would not necessarily be the same for
everyone, but that does not delimit overlapping.  It is highly likely there
are similar views of morality that many secularists would have with
each other.  Or with religionists.  I don’t see that there is any law of
morality that the two groups must have different sets.  It is the origin
of the sets that is in question.  I offered that it comes from individual
intuition.  We do not share intuitions and our valuation of experience
are unique.  It is idiosyncratic.  So my answer is the answer for
secularists.  There may be universal morals for religionists, who
commit their beliefs to dogma.  Their doctrines say what is and what is
not moral for all.  It is thought to be universally binding for all within
the context of particular religions.  However, not all religions have the
same moral codes.  Therefore some may attain universality where
others may not.  Which ones are becomes the quarry we are looking
for. 

I am saying and I’ll say it again. Where particular morals are found
between societies, that is when they begin to attain universality. If that
is too much to comprehend then I cannot make it more clear.  My
question is not really rhetorical:  Can we find a moral that secularists
and religionists alike can agree is the way people ought to behave
towards one another?  Because a secularist has idiosyncratic morals
does not eliminate the possibility of a confluence with religionists’
morals.

Yes, I know we are not discussing secularism per se, but to see how a
moral or morals could possibly be universal the secularists would have
to be included somehow.  Unless you simply want to dismiss them.  If
so, the we have no discussion here.  I am willing to walk the road with
you as long as you recognize that my thinking is of a different species
than a religionist and you can show me why my thinking is in error,
and there is mutual respect. So far I think we are achieving the latter.

Morals are a code of behavior and you are correct, morals and values
are different.  Value specifies relative worth to someone or a group. 
The overlap is that moral behavior partakes of value because the
behavior is seen as moral and therefore thought to have value.

We should not be afraid to discuss our ideas, get them out in the open. 
I am willing to let you criticize my ideas and if you can show me
through rational argument that I ought to change, then I will certainly
reconsider my ideas.

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By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Your baiting is unbecoming JDmysticDJ.  You accuse me of
what?  Acting morally superior?  M’thinks you have nothing
especially pertinent to say so an attack is quite natural for lack
of a good argument.  Is that all the better you can do?

You shall have to show where I was moralizing or acting superior. 
You only accuse in a most adolescent way.  I am surprised as you
pretended to be an adult for a good long time.  Sure fooled me. 
You accuse me of stone throwing but you heave boulders.  At least
Maani takes the time to argue.  You did not distinguish Chomsky’s ‘if’
from my ‘if’.  You did not show that my definition of universality was
different than Chomsky’s.  You did not address whether universal
implies abstraction.  Or how universal works if it isn’t.  You don’t deal
with my argument, you simply hit and run comment.  I responded
directly to your comment about the tautological nature of whether one’s
attempt to annihilate anything does not make one an nihilist?  You
don’t deal with anything really.  Fluff.  Were you offended that there
were solid replies to your sophistic approach?  I am willing to work
through ideas, but not with someone who pikes on answers.

Yes, you should remember do no harm.

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By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:

“At least this atheist, has a basis for my morality, and I do believe most secularists do as much as the religionists…do.”

The question is not whether one HAS a basis - as you suggest, everyone does - but whether that basis is shared broadly, much less universally.

“My morality springs from the intuition that humans have value if only because they have consciousness and are able to take their existence into their own hands…and that if I want to live and interact within the boundaries of a society, the way humans behave towards one another will determine the
success of that community.”

But this is the issue here: you are defining YOUR PERSONAL morality, not a morality that is universal, much less absolute.  YOUR challenge here - the one I have been addressing very specifically and carefully - was to find even a single “moral” principle that was universal or absolute.  Simply providing your own personal moral underpinnings does not address that.

“There does not have to be any agreement among secularists as to a dogma for secularism.”

We are not discussing secularism.  We are discussing morality.  And for THAT, there would, indeed, have to be an agreement among secularists as to its definition and application if one is going to claim it as universal or absolute.

“There is only one belief that there is no justification to believe there is a supernatural being that has either created the universe or interacts in anyway with life forms in the universe.”

Faith is its own justification.  I realize that does not “help,” but…well…there it is.

“I do not say your religionist perspective and belief does not underlie your or other religionist’s morality.  You may very well use the tenets of
your religion as the basis for your morality.  Mine comes from my own insights.”

Again, you have deviated from your own challenge here, and simply continue to defend your own personal morality.

“I believe in self-reliance and do not attribute my behavior or other’s to some external entity.  One must be responsible for one’s own actions completely without the intercession of a god or gods.”

I also believe in self-reliance and do not attribute my behavior to an external entity.  What I attribute to that external entity is a set of values and morals upon which my behavior is hopefully shaped, but, because I am not perfect, is always subject to error.

wildflower:

“I believe Maani is a bit biased toward values developed on the basis of ‘Divine’ Command.  I doubt he/she will ever recognize the validity of values developed by other cultures and individuals on the basis on human compassion, observation, and/or agreement.”

Au contraire!  First, I do not think values and morals are the same thing, so I will assume you mean morals.  In that regard, I absolutely recognize the VALIDITY of morals developed by other cultures and individuals on the bases you describe.  What I do NOT recognize - and, again, I seem to be the only one remaining consistent to She’s original challenge here - is the ABSOLUTENESS or universality of those morals.  “Observation” and “agreement” do not make something universal.

“One of the weakness of Maani’s ‘Divine Command’ argument…is that there is…variation among Christian groups as to what [has been] commanded. Quakers…believe that God was serious when s/he issued the commandment ‘Thou shall not kill.’ Other Christian groups…have developed numerous excuses which allow them to break this particular commandment.  [S]o much for morality and absolute commandments issued by ‘the Divine.’”

I can see why this would confuse you.  All I can say (and this almost certainly open a separate can of worms) is that just because someone “claims” to believe the tenets, dogma or doctrine associated with a particular faith does not mean they truly know, understand or apply the actual tenets.

Peace.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

I see that the forum is now open to intellectualizing, masked intolerance, agenda enhancing stereotyping, and stone throwing.
 
Congratulations Shenonymous, you’ve now got the forum you were seeking, but you’ve got no chance in hell of convincing me that you are morally superior.

Who’s guilty of moralizing? It must be me, or Chomsky, or these ancient versions of the golden rule.

(Remember, “Do no harm!”)

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By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

By Joan, May 27 at 3:39 pm #

Shenonymous

“So let me get this straight. Morality is sort of like… what I do is OK for me and what you do is OK for you… but you note that some people, I guess the annoying ones I might want to swat like flies and PETA, might not like it and would want to put me in jail or even execute me! Lordy! Lordy!”

That is a misread on your part. What I would not have done to myself shouldn’t happen to you. The rapist does not want to experience rape themselves, neither being murdered or robbed. However it doesn’t stop them because they are of the predator type. Only if they think their prey is too strong will they not proceed. The same with the society. One can have a society where the predator is extinct. We can discuss another time as to why they wish to do the nasty evil deed. If it breaks my leg or yours, picks out pocket it is bad. However we have laws, many of them religious based, that go far beyond that into areas of personal choice over ones own body. Who one can marry, have sex with, words one can say etc… That needs to stop now. Can you perceive the difference Joan? Too many can’t or won’t.

Also PETA is an organization, not a person. Why would you want to swat anyone like a fly? One should be able to have disagreements without being disagreeable can’t we?

In the end it is up to us to be moral, upright, kind, caring, empathetic and decent. Some of those hold a meaning different for me like decent. It is the way we treat another not how we are dressed, or not.

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By wildflower, May 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

RE Inherit the Wind: “I find it offensively arrogant for the religious to believe they have the only hold on morality. 

Yes, I agree ITW.  I believe Maani is a bit biased toward values developed on the basis of “Divine” Command.”  I doubt he/she will ever recognize the validity of values developed by other cultures and individuals on the basis on human compassion, observation, and/or agreement.  One of the weakness of Maani’s “Divine Command” argument, of course, is that there is considerable variation among Christian groups as to what the “Divine” has commanded.  The Quakers, for example, believe that God was serious when he/she issued the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” Other Christian groups- particularly the “bring it on” war hawk types - have developed numerous excuses which allow them to break this particular commandment – so much for morality and absolute commandments issued by “the Divine.”

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By Shenonymous, May 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

Joan says “Morality is sort of like… what I do is OK for me
and what you do is OK for you… but you note that some people,
I guess the annoying ones I might want to swat like flies and PETA,
might not like it and would want to put me in jail or even execute
me! Lordy! Lordy!”

Is that what I said?  No I didn’t say anything about what is or is not
morally okay.  What planet did you extract that from?  It is not nice to
attribute words to someone who did not say them.

And no to you too Maani, with all due respect.  At least this
atheist (me), has a basis for my morality, and I do believe most
secularists do as much as the religionists in fact do.  My morality
springs from the intuition that humans have value if only because they
have consciousness and are able to take their existence into their own
hands, unlike all other animals who cannot but are captives of nature
and that if I want to live and interact within the boundaries of a society,
the way humans behave towards one another will determine the
success of that community.  There does not have to be any agreement
among secularists as to a dogma for secularism.  There is only one
belief that there is no justification to believe there is a supernatural
being that has either created the universe or interacts in anyway with
life forms in the universe. 

I do not say your religionist perspective and belief does not underlie
your or other religionist’s morality.  You may very well use the tenets of
your religion as the basis for your morality.  Mine comes from my own
insights.  I believe in self-reliance and do not attribute my behavior or
other’s to some external entity.  One must be responsible for one’s own
actions completely without the intercession of a god or gods.  For me
that is achieving the epitome of what it means to be a conscious
human being.

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By Maani, May 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

ITW

“I find it offensively arrogant for the religious to believe they have the only hold on morality.”

Like Night-Gaunt, you seem to be misreading things, and reacting defensively where there is no cause to.  Joan was not (nor am I) suggesting that believers have a monopoly on morality.  I have stated as such quite plainly.  Re Joan, from what I understand of her posts, she was simply noting, based on the specific topic of the debate at hand, that - for better or worse, supportable or not - believers have a foundation for their “absolute” morals based on their belief in a God who prescribed those morals, whereas secularists do not have such an “absolute” basis for their morality - as can be readily seen from this very debate, since you, She, Night-Gaunt et al - the secularists - cannot agree on what basis you claim your morality.

“Today, we’ve seen how such a group imposes their morality on “infidels” as 70 innocent, peaceful, worshipers in two mosques of a minor sect were murdered in Pakistan by the Taliban.”

“Such a group…”  Not painting with an overly broad brush here, are we?  LOL.  Yes, extremists of all types - including religious - engage in actions that are often antithetical to the actual precepts of their own faiths.  But that does not mean that the underlying “morality” of those faiths is incorrect, or any less “absolute” within those faith communities.

Peace.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 28, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

Excuse me, but the Christians are late-comers to “The Golden Rule”

500 years before Christ, Confucious said.“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

From WikiPedia—The ancient Egyptians:
‘An early example of the Golden Rule that reflects the Ancient Egyptian concept of Maat appears in the story of The Eloquent Peasant which is dated to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040 - 1650 BCE): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do.”’
And later: ‘An example from a Late Period (c. 1080 - 332 BCE) papyrus: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”’

I find it offensively arrogant for the religious to believe they have the only hold on morality.  Today, we’ve seen how such a group imposes their morality on “infidels” as 70 innocent, peaceful, worshipers in two mosques of a minor sect were murdered in Pakistan by the Taliban.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 28, 2010 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous

Chomsky’s universal morality, would be applicable to all, but not practiced by all, so therefore the universal morality Chomsky quite clearly defines would not be a universal moral (subject to all, but not practiced by all.) You demanded a universal moral, which is an entity that does not exist. Your intent was turn morality into an abstract, subject to endless intellectualizing which would diminish morality as being a valid concept. I’m not interested.

Offering morality as a rationale during debate can be effective, but not to those who see morality as an abstract, lacking validity. Creating moral chaos leads to amorality, and to all of its negative consequences.

I’ll suggest that the unavoidable hypocrisy, by those who advocate basic moral values, leads to stone throwing by the amoral, but their target is not the hypocrites, their target is the basic moral values.

As a final comment, I’ll point out that the study of morality, is a spiritual one, but that the results of following, or not following, specific concepts of morality are quantifiable.

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By Shenonymous, May 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

I’ll respond to you one at a time…

JDmysticDJ - you oddly say “When Chomsky defines universal
morality, I think he’s saying that the concept exists. So how is
that supporting what you have to say, precisely? He says quite
precisely that there is such a thing, while you say, “If there is
such a thing…”

then you say he says ““... if we adopt the principle of universality:
if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong)
for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying
to themselves the standards they apply to others—more stringent ones,
in fact—plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of
appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil. ... “ 

Would you please explain how the word ‘if’ functions differently for
Chomsky than it does for me? 

Universality indicates something that affects all of the whole, not only
for Chomsky but for anyone who understands the concept of
universality.  Do you think only Chomsky understands?  You seem to
understand.  I would suggest however in spite of his credentials that
universal morality is not practiced by anyone within the whole. But
expicit acts of morality are indeed practiced.  The difference is one is
theoretical the other is performed.  Speaking about something and
doing something are two separate actions and may only have
superficial relationship, such as when promises of the speech are not
carried out in real action.

Universal morality is an abstract concept.  When one places morality in
the realm of the universal it does not belong to anyone in particular but
affects everyone everywhere for all time.  Universal morality exists only
in the realm of abstraction.  It is not as you insist, that it is an actual
entity.  Please say where this actuality resides.  Do you have it in a
closet?  Or does Walmart sell it?  They sell actualities.  Do you really
understand the distinction between actuality and conceptuality?  The
difference between the abstract and the concrete?  I think you do, but I
want to make sure since mere thinking I do does not give me absolute
certainty.

““With one sentence you ask, I think, if an attempt to annihilate
morality, ?makes one a nihilist?  Doesn’t your question answer itself?”
I think they call that rhetorical. ”  Yes it is rhetorical, my point really,
the answer is to be drawn from the question itself by definition of the
word annihilate.  It is self-evident. Hence, rhetorical. But it was your
original question.

“It was a play on your previous comment, no I won’t state it differently,
except to state my belief that there are consequences for being moral
or immoral.”  Ah, but you did state it differently, much more
succinctly….and more clearly.

You know, JD… I am not looking for a conflict, I am looking for
some way to get through the labyrinth of our different beliefs.

“The universal moral is universal even when the universal moral is not
recognized by all. Thus there is no moral universal to all. I’ll suppose
that a moral could be intellectualized until those intellectualizing got
so bored with the semantics that they would say “to hell with it!””
There seems to be an inherent contradiction in this statement.

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By Shenonymous, May 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

If a universal moral indeed is universal even when the universal
moral is not recognized by all, why or how does it happen then
that the universal moral is nullified?  It seems according to your
thesis that it cannot be dispensed with. It is permanent.  And I
would agree that if it indeed is universal, along with Chomsky,
it is there for all time and applies to all whether they have
intellectualized it to the point of boredom or not. Even if they do
say “to hell with it.”  For that is not the point, now is it?

Shall we proceed together or has a competition developed? That would
not be my intention in which to engage.  I am a seeker of wisdom and I
am not interested in polemics or strutting any superior knowledge I
might think I have.  Making alliances on a forum of this sort is a
strategy of the weak of mind seeking support for weak arguments. 

“Are “we” splitting hairs? Mankind is capable, because some of mankind
has. We’re also capable of frivolous intellectualizing about obvious
meanings.”

Yes we are splitting hairs, that is the purpose of the discussion to get
to the nitty gritty. If a hair needs to be split, then it ought to be split
for clarity’s sake.  You know, the old Socratic injunction to speak the
same language.  Leave nothing to conjecture.
“What about harming the murderous, greedy, and power seeking drug
lords?

Frivolous criticisms are easy aren’t they?”

Are they frivolous criticisms?  In what way is that frivolous? We are
talking about pathological murderous, greedy, and power seeking drug
lords who would not give one blink before slicing your head off if you
got in their way of doing business and that cascades into untold
amount of harm and death of millions of people.  And yes, harm might
have to be done to those who would harm others, by virtue of self-
defense.  I am not a pacifist.  And the harm involved in self-defense
does exist within my code of morality.  I would even execute
murderous criminals if there is no shadow of a doubt through legal trial
that they were the cause of another’s death, even one other’s death. 
Do you have children, a wife?  If they were heinously raped and
murdered and the murderer was apprehended, would you vote to let
that person not be executed?  I would not hesitate a second.
I consider having you agree a moral victory. - If victory is your only
motive to be here, I think that is a paltry reason.  Is agreement in your
mind a complete capitulation.  I do not think so. 

Further “intellectualizing” about morality is not trivial since there seems
to be gross injustice in the world, even on this frivolous forum.  To
suggest it is frivolous might imply that you do not wish to be judged
for your morality, your behavior, your code of ethics, and thereby
escape the evaluation that you may not be moral.  If you were moral
you would have nothing to be concerned about.

I don’t believe we are here playing a game, in the sense that it is a
frivolous enterprise.  But if you think so, you are welcome to depart the
forum.  We could get in to a detailed Wittgensteinian word game but it
would be an esoteric exercise under the circumstance of this forum.  It
doesn’t seem appropriate to push it to that corner.  If you have a
problem with Anarcissie’s use of the terms nihilist and annihilism, it
seems she kept it in the realm of the abstract in order to talk about it in
the general sense, not be brought to earth as in annihilating a person. 
In any event, why would a nihilist be annihilated simply because the
nihilist proposes that nothing exists?  It is paradoxical since the nihilist
exists or would not be able to make the statement nothing exists.
Of course Anarcissie would have to say herself what she means
and she is wholly capable of doing that.  So with my paltry statements I
will withdraw from further comment on nihilists and annihilation at this
time unless the discussion starts to center around them.

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By Joan, May 27, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous

So let me get this straight. Morality is sort of like… what I do is OK for me and what you do is OK for you… but you note that some people, I guess the annoying ones I might want to swat like flies and PETA, might not like it and would want to put me in jail or even execute me! Lordy! Lordy!

So my next question is why is it all right for these squeamish namby- pambies to foist their moral code on me and punish me for my moral decisions that they don’t agree with? 

JDmysticDJ points out that moralities can be intellectualized away. My above remarks are on example of that. First off, this is why faith based people argue that secular morality, morality absent absolutes/universals derived from a non- human entity we often call God, are weak and disposable. Second, in the case of a moral conflict, if we are all allowed to spin off our own personal moral codes, whose moral code takes precedence in the case of a moral conflict such as whether to kill or not to kill annoying people/flies? That is the question. Whose morality wins out?

I see a future devastated by contentious chaos under such conditions.  This is why faith based people see the wisdom in the divine command not to kill people. It prevents impatient curmudgeons like me from killing willy- nilly as much as it prevents parents, with a bona fide craving for justice, from avenging the death of a child by a drunk driver. Moral absolutes, reflected by a justice system, keep us safe. Moral absolutes derived from the non- human God keep us equally beholden to the same moral code.  The Judeo/Christian value system that is the underpinning of our American legal code kept us well and ought to be respected even if one does not adhere to the other mystical aspects of these religions.  Social morality is not 100% secular, meaning no input from God.  The directive not to kill is from Sinai. That elevates its status to the level of a universally understood moral absolute, all things being equal. 

I see a number of mischaracterizations in your treatises. Here’s one I’ll address. With respect to sex and Judeo/Christian ideology, right out of the shoot, in Genesis, God informs Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply. The proverbial Good Book says a lot about sex.  I suspect God rather likes sex. It is an activity in which virtually every living organism may engage. Each one of us pretty much can play a vital role in bringing forth new life without labs, white coats and petri dishes.  To me that says something about the magnanimity of God and the favored status He gives the activity of sex. 

BTW: the reference to idolaters was tongue- in- cheek but certainly people who work to get little gold statuettes while their peers “ooh” and “ah” over them is without a doubt an example of 21st century idolatry if ever there is one. Were you to have your knees replaced, would you pick someone who actually is experienced replacing knees or someone who can make incisive comments about it with no history of experience? You’re right. You are free to choose who guides you but you will suffer the consequences for bad choices.

Bottom line, Shenonymous, if humans are the authors of moral codes that are relative to personal preference, culture, times, snowflakes, whatever, there is no justification for a collective of people that we call society to take any action against me when I implement my moral code which I think allows me to kill people I find annoying. If PETA gets power over us, we will not be able kill flies. Under your system of moral relativism/ subjectivity, sans absolutes, Dostoyevsky is right. Morality, absent God, in man’s hands, anything goes. In practice, this means that man squabbles to implement preferential moral codes, forcing them on others with the brutality of might makes right, hardly an ideal moral utopia. These are the arguments for the necessity of God as a moral arbiter.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 27, 2010 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous

“Seems like Chomsky supports what I have to say, precisely.  If there is such a thing as
universal morality, even one universal moral, then logically it applies
to all.  Isn’t that the meaning of universality?”

When Chomsky defines universal morality, I think he’s saying that the concept exists. So how is that supporting what you have to say, precisely? He says quite precisely that there is such a thing, while you say, “If there is such a thing…”

Universality indicates something that affects all of the whole, according to Chomsky a Pulitzer prize winner in linguistics, Universal morality is not practiced by all within the whole.

“... if we adopt the principle of universality : if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others—more stringent ones, in fact—plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil. ... “

“With one sentence you ask, I think, if an attempt to annihilate morality,
makes one a nihilist?  Doesn’t your question answer itself?”

I think they call that rhetorical. 

“Anarcissie answers the question about nihilism tidily.”

Anarcissie untidily gave an incorrect definition of nihilism.

“But are we here trying to annihilate morality? Are we not really wondering its
origin?”

No, “we” (you) are intellectualizing morality, with the intent of making it an abstract, rather than a actual entity. 

“And whether or not secularists can be just as moral as
religionists?”

Universal morality would be universal to all, whether it was recognized, and practiced, or not.

“Then you query, “If someone presents an argument based on moral
concepts, once stated, that argument will have to fit the person
receiving it. If a person rejects an argument based on moral precepts,
then that person will have to live with that rejection.” I am not clear
what you are saying.  It seems to beg an affirmative answer but I am
not sure.  Could you please restate it a little differently?

It was a play on your previous comment, no I won’t state it differently, except to state my belief that there are consequences for being moral or immoral.

“Let me try the next one maybe sentence by sentence.  “You imply that
there is no accepted actual/effective code of morals, and that there is
no universal moral.”  I suppose that is the implication.  I would say
(and I think I did) that within specific societies there are actual/effective
codes of morals.  That in essence dictates that these morals or ethical
codes are relative to the society.  If, however, a comparison between
societies were to be made, and if there were a confluence of the same
morals found in each, those codes would begin to attain a universality. 
Do you not agree?”

A definite universality between societies in confluence, yes. Universality between individuals within those societies, no, supposing that all societies have moral reprobates, nihilists, and whatnot.

The universal moral is universal even when the universal moral is not recognized by all. Thus there is no moral universal to all. I’ll suppose that a moral could be intellectualized until those intellectualizing got so bored with the semantics that they would say “to hell with it!”

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By JDmysticDJ, May 27, 2010 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous (Cont.)   

“You then said – “That may be true; Sociopaths have no moral code,
other than the law of the jungle, but I’ll suggest that there are moral
values that are accepted by most, and appealing to those accepted
moral values while discussing issues can be useful.” No disagreement
here in the least.”

Thank goodness!

Your last paragraph – “It’s clear that mankind has been quite capable of
intellectualizing away morality, and accepting amorality as a governing
value.” I would have to say not mankind, but some of mankind.

Are “we” splitting hairs? Mankind is capable, because some of mankind has. We’re also capable of frivolous intellectualizing about obvious meanings.

“We who are conscious of the problem obviously have not intellectualized
morality away completely since we are conscious of it.  We are aware
that there exists such a thing as morality. Otherwise we would all be
involved in the law of the jungle, regardless of how it may look in place
that that is the case. I.e., Mexico city and the drug wars.  I consciously
think about my behavior towards others.  Do no harm seems to be a
mantra of choice.”

What about harming the murderous, greedy, and power seeking drug lords?

Frivolous criticisms are easy aren’t they?

“Final sentence - “I’ll suggest that the results of abandoning concepts of
morality have been less than beneficial, in terms of historical and
current events.”  I totally agree.”

I consider having you agree a moral victory.

Any further intellectualizing about morality would only trivialize morality, and make one subject to more (frivolous) criticism.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie

You say

“Anyway, a nihilist is someone who doesn’t believe there are any absolute, universal moral principles.  (But nihilists may believe in not-so-absolute, less-than-universal principles.)  Nihilism can be annihilated by someone universal coming up with an undoubtedly, absolute moral principle.  Did we get any yet?  It would be nice to get a candidate before the name-calling begins.”

My Random House dictionary defines Nihilism as: “Total rejection of value statements or moral judgments.” (No mention of “less-than universal moral principles”)

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that that nihilists can be annihilated by any means, “…coming up with an undoubtedly, absolute moral principle,” puts us into the realm of intellectualizing morality. This is a game I won’t play. Other than the previously mentioned generally accepted moral concepts, I’ll not be responding, doing so would be futile, and would have the affect of diminishing morality. I have absolute moral principles, clearly they are not universal.

Regarding name calling, anyone who makes, or cites the following, statement is worthy of being ridiculed and called names of the most derogatory sort. That’s one of my moral principles.

“Do not do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  Tastes differ.”

It’s only humor, of the sickest sort, and intended to disparage the most commonly accepted moral concept. It’s snide, and the product of a barren soul.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

For some odd reason, I don’t think name calling will be part of this
discussion.  But if it does, we’ll deal with it, won’t we?

JDmysticDJ -  May 26 at 11:14 pm - Seems like Chomsky
supports what I have to say, precisely.  If there is such a thing as
universal morality, even one universal moral, then logically it applies
to all.  Isn’t that the meaning of universality?

Let’s go a bit slowly since you are bundling a lot of stuff in three short
paragraphs. Let’s look at what you said.  For I think you have some
interesting points to make.  I just can’t see them clearly enough yet to
be able to address them coherently.

With one sentence you ask, I think, if an attempt to annihilate morality,
makes one a nihilist?  Doesn’t your question answer itself? 
Anarcissie answers the question about nihilism tidily. But are we
here trying to annihilate morality? Are we not really wondering its
origin?  And whether or not secularists can be just as moral as
religionists?

Then you query, “If someone presents an argument based on moral
concepts, once stated, that argument will have to fit the person
receiving it. If a person rejects an argument based on moral precepts,
then that person will have to live with that rejection.” I am not clear
what you are saying.  It seems to beg an affirmative answer but I am
not sure.  Could you please restate it a little differently?
Let me try the next one maybe sentence by sentence.  “You imply that
there is no accepted actual/effective code of morals, and that there is
no universal moral.”  I suppose that is the implication.  I would say
(and I think I did) that within specific societies there are actual/effective
codes of morals.  That in essence dictates that these morals or ethical
codes are relative to the society.  If, however, a comparison between
societies were to be made, and if there were a confluence of the same
morals found in each, those codes would begin to attain a universality. 
Do you not agree?

You then said – “That may be true; Sociopaths have no moral code,
other than the law of the jungle, but I’ll suggest that there are moral
values that are accepted by most, and appealing to those accepted
moral values while discussing issues can be useful.” No disagreement
here in the least.

Your last paragraph – “It’s clear that mankind has been quite capable of
intellectualizing away morality, and accepting amorality as a governing
value.” I would have to say not mankind, but some of mankind.  We
who are conscious of the problem obviously have not intellectualized
morality away completely since we are conscious of it.  We are aware
that there exists such a thing as morality. Otherwise we would all be
involved in the law of the jungle, regardless of how it may look in place
that that is the case. I.e., Mexico city and the drug wars.  I consciously
think about my behavior towards others.  Do no harm seems to be a
mantra of choice. 

Final sentence - “I’ll suggest that the results of abandoning concepts of
morality have been less than beneficial, in terms of historical and
current events.”  I totally agree.

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By Anarcissie, May 26, 2010 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

“Do not do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  Tastes differ.”

That must be Wilde or Shaw.

Anyway, a nihilist is someone who doesn’t believe there are any absolute, universal moral principles.  (But nihilists may believe in not-so-absolute, less-than-universal principles.)  Nihilism can be annihilated by someone coming up with an undoubtedly universal, absolute moral principle.  Did we get any yet?  It would be nice to get a candidate before the name-calling begins.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

That is a good question Joan, and Maani, and a fair
one. What is the basis of secular morality? Are precepts of secular
morality subjective or objective?

Social morality is secular.  It originates within a society for the
express ethical behavior code among people.  How one behaves
towards one’s god becomes a religious code of behavior and is relative
to particular religions what that code is. What their gods tell them they
must do in order to be in that god’s good graces.  I.e., Thou shalt not
worship any other god…etc.

Secularity or the adjective form of secular, means separate from
religion.  Eating is regarded as a secular activity, as there may not be
anything inherently religious s about eating, even though religions can
dictate eating habits.  I.e., fish only on Friday for Catholics, no pork in
the diet or Jews and Muslims, or no beef in the case of the Hindus. 
There are others but unimportant to this discussion.  Bathing practices
are also non-religious and may be considered secular.  Sexual
practices are also inherently secular, although there are some Hindu
practices that are associated with that religion as well as in Tantric
Buddhism.  The Western cultures though keep sex out of religion
unless you are a priest apparently.  However, saying prayers that find
their articulation from a holybook or scripture is obviously religious as
is worshipping from doctrines.  All prayer and then meditation are not
necessarily only religious.  Secular people do not abandon the notion of
spirituality and higher consciousness and no one religion can lay claim
to those practices. 

The words secular, secularity find their origin in the Latin meaning “of
the age.”  This specifically Christian doctrine that God exists outside of
time gave reason for medieval Western culture to begin to use the term
secular to note a separation from precisely religious pursuits and an
involvement in temporal ones in which ordinary humans would be
engaged and has been extended to include such a separation found in
any religion.

Secularism is as a concept is an assertion or belief that religious issues
should not be the basis of politics.  It is a modern movement that
promotes those ideas (or an ideology) which hold that religion has no
place in public life. Secularist organizations can be distinguished from
simple secular ones by their political advocacy of such positions.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment

Seems like what you ask is true when you ask “In fact, why can’t
I kill annoying people? After all they make my blood pressure go up
and are shortening my life expectancy and are making me spend
money on medication I can’t afford to spend. Seems to me I can kill
annoying people if morality is subjective. After all why should I accept
your or anyone else’s moral standard over mine? As Socrates informs,
we act in accordance with our perceived self- interest.” 

Only you can tell me what the answer is for you. 

I would not kill people because I have a high esteem for human beings
and I do not have such a regard for flies.  I do not need a god nor a
religion to tell me that people have value, and I experience love for
certain ones.  I also experience dislike and even hatred for others, yet I
would not wish death on those latter.  I call it a remnant from my
genetic development to use what resources there are for my survival,
i.e., as Darwin pointed out. It does become a struggle between self-
preservation and that of the herd, that is, others.  I believe that
through the millennia of human development humans got past the
stronger impulse for self-survival and that instinct receded where
others have become emotionally attached beyond needing them for
survival.  That emotional attachment extended to the society and then
to the world.  That is the secular point of view. 

You seem to think that an objective existence of morals must and only
must imply a God.  I fail to see any justification for that conclusion. 
Surely individuals can generate morals on a local level, whether or not
they are absolute remains to be proven or at the least given some
justification for belief.  That morals can be subjective is also an
argument that you have not squashed.  But I would maintain that a
sense of the moral must be subjective for any one person to accept the
worth of such conduct towards others, those in the objective world. 
Without the subjective intuition of the value of morals there are no
morals either subjectively or objectively.

You may like whomever you wish in terms of models of morality.  That
does not dictate who others ought to hold in esteem.  Whether or not
there are idolators in the entertainment industry is moot, as there are
idolators in every domain of life and especially of note lately within the
clergy of religions.  Further, your judgmental term idolator is
ambiguous since idolatry not for one may be worthy of idolatry for
another.  Where is it stated who should be idolized or not?  Since I have
read many books by and about Bertrand Russell I don’t really need a
biographical lesson in every area of his life.  He was a great man with
much to offer society.  It would take a long time to discuss BR and his
sense of morality.  We can do that but perhaps not at the moment as it
would be a digression.

You certainly can kill people if that is what you want to do, but society
will have something to say about it.  The people who you would want
to kill might also have something to say about it.  Seems like there is
at least one unsaid natural law of existence that may or may not be a
rule of morality and that is since they are part of the organic world, and
all organisms have the right to exist, all humans have the right to exist.
To murder wantonly is against the secular social law and is separate
from and beyond any religious commandment.  There are some
philosophical systems however that would frown on killing a fly.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous May 24 at 10:23 pm #

“yeah but name one universal moral.”


“Noam Chomsky states that

“... if we adopt the principle of universality : if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others—more stringent ones, in fact—plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil.

In fact, one of the, maybe the most, elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something’s right for me, it’s right for you; if it’s wrong for you, it’s wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow.”

Your challenge

“I dare the readers here that that kind of dialogue be started right here
on Truthdig, right now.  Who will be brave enough to start it?  I will
wager that there will be no one, because once stated, a moral will have
to fit the person stating it and they will have to live it themselves and
that is where the first retreat begins.
Now a dialogue means having a discussion about the relative merits of
a suggested moral.”

Your attempt to annihilate morality, makes you what? A nihilist?

If someone presents an argument based on moral concepts, once stated, that argument will have to fit the person receiving it. If a person rejects an argument based on moral precepts, then that person will have to live with that rejection.

You imply that there is no accepted actual/effective code of morals, and that there is no universal moral. That may be true; Sociopaths have no moral code, other than the law of the jungle, but I’ll suggest that there are moral values that are accepted by most, and appealing to those accepted moral values while discussing issues can be useful.

It’s clear that mankind has been quite capable of intellectualizing away morality, and accepting amorality as a governing value. I’ll suggest that the results of abandoning concepts of morality have been less than beneficial, in terms of historical and current events.

 

 


[3]

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By Joan, May 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous and Maani…

Yes, of course, the Golden Rule we refer to in Western culture was not wrested from Judeo/Christian ideology which has influenced Western culture more pervasively than perhaps any other ideology has yet to accomplish (Jainism certainly notwithstanding). Clearly, we were schooled in the Golden Rule by our working familiarity with obscure Greek and Hindu philosophers whose names we cannot even identify.

Lots of words, Shenonymous, but among them is not an answer to the question that Maani or I implicitly pose.  What is the basis of secular morality? Are precepts of secular morality subjective or objective?  If morality is subjective, it has no absolutes. Therefore, the secularist has no basis to claim it is more immoral to kill a human being than to kill a fly. In fact, why can’t I kill annoying people? After all they make my blood pressure go up and are shortening my life expectancy and are making me spend money on medication I can’t afford to spend. Seems to me I can kill annoying people if morality is subjective. After all why should I accept your or anyone else’s moral standard over mine? As Socrates informs, we act in accordance with our perceived self- interest. 

If morality is objective, then there are moral absolutes.  Absent God, what is the basis of objective moral absolutes? Surely, neither you nor I nor any other individual could claim to generate moral absolutes because our very participation would render the moral dictum subjective. So absent God, we are back to the first scenario, secular morality is subjective but weak and for annoying people in my life, unsafe, as a matter of my self- preservation. Blood pressure meds are pricey, and a lifelong drain on the purse. 

As much as many of us are inclined to consult with George Carlin and Jodie Foster when explicating the rightness or wrongness of an act or resolving a moral conflict, in the end I personally like my moral coaches to have a few more credentials than Emmys or Oscars, pagan idol worshippers. If ever there were idolaters, it is among the entertainment industry. So that I might look to someone more ethically gifted, like Christ, to me is a credit to my intellect.

People like Bertrand Russell and other respected mathematicians are gifted intellectuals. It does not follow from the graduate school tale that even though Russell’s doctoral thesis was reportedly a simple paragraph, that he is a competent ethicist. Check out Thomas Sowell’s recent work “Intellectuals and Society” in which he masterfully argues that gifted intellectuals in one field do not have expertise in all fields and have done great harm to societies by authoritatively expounding on subjects in which they have no expertise, influencing people who do not hold them accountable for devastating consequences of their lousy ideas.  I do grant that Russell had some cool ideas about the evolution of marriage in society. 

To quote one of great minds of the 20th century, Sophia Petrillo, I digress. Bottom-line, absent God, morality is subjective, hence weak, as Maani has been elucidating. So, absent God, why can’t I kill people who annoy me?  Ethics 101.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

Getting down to fly shit is really getting down to the nitty gritty of
morality.

As if the Golden Rule was not invented by the Greek but by the
Christians?  Oh boy, another history revisionist.  Having already given
the provenance for the ethical code known as the Golden Rule, I will
repeat it for the benefit of the lazy of mind.

The golden rule finds it origins in a broad range of world cultures, and
is a standard which different cultures use to resolve conflicts.  Please
see THe Concept of Morals, by Walter T. Stace.  It was present in the
philosophies of ancient India, Greece, Judea, and China and is found in
Buddhism, Bahai, Christianity, Confuciansim, Hinduism, Humanism,
Islam, Jainism, Judaism, MOhism, and Taoism. Principal philosophers
and religious figures have stated it in different ways, but in its English
phrasing is attributed to the Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth in the
Biblical book of Matthew: “Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you.” (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:31) The “Do unto
others” wording and actually did not first appear in English until found
in a Catholic catechism around 1567.

Morals of secularists are da real thing, concluded by the individual, not
coerced and frightened to behave in certain ways by an insanely jealous
and violent alleged god.  I will start naming altruistically moral
secularists aka atheists:  Bertrand Russell starts my list.  Then Ayaan
Hirsi Ali, Carmen Argibay, George Carlin (one of my very favs whose
incisive humor did the world more good than a passel of heart
surgeons, well that is a bit of an exaggeration, I admit), Jodie Foster,
Jawaharlal Nehru, Salman Rushdie, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmens), just
to name a few. 

It doesn’t make a bit of difference to morality of a society whether or
not gods exist, or whether or not morality is absolute or if it is or is
not relative. Why?  Because in each case, a society in order to remain a
society has to come to agreement what is to be considered to be right
and/or wrong.  This is their code of ethics and decides what is moral or
not.  If morals or ethics are compared to other societies, then the
notion of universal morals enters into the discussion.  And where there
is confluence, it becomes more universal moral and ethical principles
between or among those societies under comparison.  Where they are
not, relative morals and ethics are the rule.

To make it really simple, as stated by atheist author, Michael Nugent,
and I think states it succinctly, he offered four broad possibilities:
1. There is a God or gods, and there is an absolute objective morality.?
2. There is a God or gods, and morality is relative and subjective.?
3. There are no gods, and there is an absolute objective morality.?
4. There are no gods, and morality is relative and subjective.

Not wanting to do your thinking for you, the question must be asked
what are the implications if one or more are correct?

ITW, The term “morality” can be used descriptively to refer either
1.  to a code of conduct put forward by a society, 
2. by some other group, such as a religion, or
3. accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
4. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified
  conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

For all the above, morality refers to a code of conduct either towards
others or towards oneself that is taken as most important.  Please
check out if interested the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a
philosophical definitive discussion of morality.

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By Maani, May 25, 2010 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:

“Ironic and galling you should end your attack with ‘peace’ isn’t it? How much more solid than human reactions do you need?”

First, there is nothing in my post that was an “attack.”  Second, the problem with human reactions is that they DIFFER from human to human.  This is why that is not a “solid” basis for claiming an “absolute” morality of any sort.

“As opposed to someone’s interpretation of supposed communication with some invisible whatsis?”

My words were clear: whatever YOU (or any person) believe or don’t believe about God, etc., believers - rightly or not, supportably or not - base their claim to certain moral “absolutes” on the tenets of their faith that we are created in God’s (spiritual) image.

“But then torture and war fit in with many religions as does the death penalty and even mutilation.”

Perhaps.  But they also “fit in” with secular people too.  But that is a tangent.  Our discussion (or so I thought, based on Shenonymous’ suggestion) was on whether there is such a thing as a “moral absolute” and, if so, on what basis one makes that claim: i.e., what is “being moral,” and how does one define it.

“So it is relative as to how moral you think you are in comparison to a Free Thinker like myself.”

My words made it quite clear that I do not consider myself any more moral than you - or any other person - simply because I am a believer.  You are being unnecessarily defensive and/or confrontational.

“We are fortunate that such people as myself can still walk around peacefully, but for how long if fundamentalist Christians get their way? We have them in increasing numbers both as a percentage of population and general numbers.”

Actually, while I agree with - and am equally concerned about - your first point, your second one is incorrect: in the 2008 election, the so-called “Christian Right” was the weakest (both in numbers and in “influence”) it has been since it was created in the 1980s.

“And remember neither democracy nor a republican form of gov’t is supported by the Bible.”

The Bible was never meant as a “political” document in that sense.  Thus, it does not “support” any specific “type” of political system.

As an interesting aside, there is a passage that describes the socio-economic system used by the apostles after Jesus’ crucifixion:

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common…Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

Get that?  FROM each according to his ability to provide, TO each according to need - 2000 years before Marx.

Peace.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2010 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

Maani how about on the basis that they didn’t want it to happen to them. Is that enough for you? No dilemma there is it? Unless maybe you and a few others who see ambiguity where there isn’t any!

However, it would seem to be axiomatic that nonbelievers do not have a “solid” foundation on which to base or claim any “absolute” morality.

Peace.

Ironic and galling you should end your attack with “peace” isn’t it? How much more solid than human reactions do you need? As opposed to someone’s interpretation of supposed communication with some invisible whatsis? But then torture and war fit in with many religions as does the death penalty and even mutilation. So it is relative as to how moral you think you are in comparison to a Free Thinker like myself. We are fortunate that such people as myself can still walk around peacefully, but for how long if fundamentalist Christians get their way? We have them in increasing numbers both as a percentage of population and general numbers. Not a good sign. And remember neither democracy nor a republican form of gov’t is supported by the Bible.

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By Joan, May 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maani,

Your last post nails down the secularist problem quite well,  namely secularists not having any solid basis for their moral beliefs. Secularists typically believe many of the same acts to be immoral as do Christians, for instance.

Absent God, being strictly logical ala Mr Spock, why is it morally unacceptable to kill a person capriciously and not morally unacceptable to swat a fly? Without God, what is the basis for man’s special status such that killing a person is immoral but not so killing a fly? Or in other words, more Dostoyevskyian, without God, logically speaking, anything goes…ala Mr Spock. 

Note: any secularist appealing to the Golden Rule is like a good Christian, applying on of the most basic tenets of Christianity.

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By Maani, May 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:

“Sure there is as real immoral things. Rape, rob, murder, torture, promote same.”

Even if I agree with you, on what BASIS do make your claim about the morality or immorality of those (admittedly heinous) acts?  Do you see the dilemma?  Everyone here - atheist, agnostic and believer alike - may agree that all of those things are “immoral.”  But on what are we actually basing that?  Simple agreement?  Suppose someone then comes along and disagrees?  Does our “morality” trump theirs just because all of us happen to agree on it?

Believers base their morality on “God-given” truths and moral principles.  One is certainly free to be an athiest or agnostic and disagree with the existence of God and any such “absolute” morals, but at least believers have a BASIS for what they consider “moral” and “immoral.”

Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for nonbelievers.  That obviously does not make nonbelievers any less moral - as has been said many times here on TD, there are plenty of highly moral nonbelievers, and plenty of immoral believers.

However, it would seem to be axiomatic that nonbelievers do not have a “solid” foundation on which to base or claim any “absolute” morality.

Peace.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Sure there is as real immoral things;

Rape, rob, murder, torture, promote same. I think everyone but brigands and psychopaths would agree on that. Because in all those cases these are having their rights taken away in some form or fashion.

All others are relative like: sex of different kinds with consenting adults. drug use, what color you paint your house, what you say that is disparaging to others.

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By Maani, May 25, 2010 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

ITW:

“I think morality is facing a situation honestly.  Immoral acts are inevitably dishonest acts.”

Although the connection may seem intuitive, I’m not sure there is such an obvious, absolute connection between morality and honesty.  Because, again, we would still need to define “moral” - and, as noted, morality is relative.  Since there is no “absolute” morality (particularly for atheists and other secularists - i.e., nothing on which to base such an “absolute” morality), how does honesty or dishonesty “play into” that?  Certainly honesty is preferable - and not just for “moral” reasons.  But to draw such a direct connection between the two is, at this point in the discussion, arguably premature.

Peace.

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By wildflower, May 25, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

Re CaptRon: “Replace religion with . . . practice of humanity and don’t bring talk of your religion in practice of humanity. Just do it . . . and respect that in others.”

Great post and great thinking, CaptRon.  Indeed, I suspect the world would be a much, much, much better place to live today if more people would simply as you say “just do it, be human and respect that in others.”

Granted, this might be a hard sell within some groups.  I’m thinking of a particular evangelical preacher who told me once that good deeds are meaningless acts unless the person has accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.

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