This is an excellent video that demonstrates some of the big differences between libertarians and conservatives.
Even though I am not a fan of Ann Coulter, I do think she represents the conservative position rather accurately – or, perhaps that is why I am not a fan of Ann Coulter…
March 19, 2013 at 22:05
I’m happy that libertarian thought is slowly supplanting the traditional conservative view. Our nation is freer without god.
March 24, 2013 at 17:59
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of religiousity: the holier-than-thou, sinners-will-burn-in-hell, bible-is-literally-true fundamentalists, and the love-your-brother, forgive-the-sinners, clean-living moderates. When we encounter the former, everything which is wrong with religion is pushed in our faces, but when we encounter the latter, we are often not even aware that we are seeing an example of how much good religion can do.
On the positive side, religion is a source of faith and resolve in the face of adversity, which gives religious people a reserve of hidden strength in times of need. It is also the root of a community of mutual aid and support which secular groups cannot seem to duplicate. And it provides moral guidance to many who lack the ability or the inclination to rationally derive it from first principles.
Cultural Marxists, however, use critical theory to hammer relentlessly on the obvious flaws of fundamentalism to tarnish all religion with the same dialectical brush. They do this because they know that human beings are inherently religious creatures.
When you take away the belief in God, you leave a void in the human psyche which must be filled by something.
And that something, relentlessly pushed via education and mass media, is precisely that self-sacrificial collectivist secular Edenism which is sweeping Western society and driving out the concepts which make classical liberal society possible – namely, resolute self-reliance, personal moral responsibility, and inalienable individual rights.
I argued here that, when secular collectivists call themselves citizens of a state, they mean exactly the same thing that religious people mean when they call themselves children of God – except that the secular terms in which they express these feelings make it easy to fool to themselves into believing that they are being rational.
People who can eschew religion and not fall into the ideological trap set by cultural Marxism form a very small minority. Almost everyone who rejects feminism belongs to some religion. Almost everyone who believes that laws must always be subordinate to universal morality belongs to some religion. And so on.
This fact of social psychology has been known for at least two thousand years:
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
— Seneca the Younger (circa 4 BC – 65 AD)
It is a fatal error of strategy to discard religion before we have a replacement which can fortify the psyche of the common man against the corrosive tenets of self-sacrificial collectivist secular Edenism, which cultural Marxism is determined to put in its place.
March 24, 2013 at 21:00
Thanks for your response Code Slinger.
Human beings are inherently religious, no differently than they are inherently prone to heroin addictions. And it is the moderate people who are religious, but not fundamentalists, who are slowing down the advancement of humanity as well since they provide a sanctuary for the fundamentalists, who would otherwise be in the same status as looney UFO conspiracists.
You are arguing that religion is a less evil substitute for statism and collectivism, which I can agree to to an extent. An ideal reality is to have a society of people who can reject both religion and marxism, which I think is possible with a lot of hard work, but why settle for religion. It’s like debating between fascism and communism, except on a cultural scale.
Islam and Christianity (among others) are forms of cultural marxism, and they collectivize the individual the same way that academic feminism does. Religion, as we know it, cannot exist in a society that is concerned about the well-being of all it’s people. The Catholic church for example has been an organization that has been (historically) no less detrimental to the world than the Ku Klux Klan or Nazi Germany. Our society has accommodated for it rather than willfully abolished it.
Western religions teach all of the wrong principles:
1. they externalize our faults to the divine plan
2. they belittle our great accomplishments as god-granted
3. it is used as a crutch for lazy people who want miracles but don’t want to work for them
4. it teaches people to live lowly because they’ll get heavily rewarded in the afterlife
5. and lastly, dogma. there is no way to disagree with your creator.
Basically, the only way to get people to resist academic feminism is to lie to people, beat fictitious fables into the heads of innocent children? This is just awful.
March 25, 2013 at 17:56
Have you ever heard the term, “necessary illusions?”
To some of us, this is an oxymoron. But to the vast majority, it is a simple fact of life.
They need to believe certain things, or they come to feel that life isn’t worth living.
They need to believe (among other things) that God loves them, or that the state is there for them, or something.
Like I said, this is a fact of human nature.
To pretend it’s not so, in the face of an enemy who is winning great victories by taking ruthless advantage of it, is worse than foolish.
It is tantamount to handing your enemy the weapon with which he will defeat you.
And, yes, it is better for people to worship God than to worship the state.
Because the church needs the cooperation of the state to do great evil.
But the state can do incalculable evil all by itself – and does so all the time.
Routinely. As a matter of course.
I’m sorry, CodeSlinger, but I must disagree with you on several of the points you have made – I’m just not sure if I can express myself articulately, so, please, look for the intent and excuse the clumsy wording…
I am not convinced that most people have an innate need to believe in something. God, State, the Tooth Fairy, Anthropogenic Climate Change or whatever.
That is only a human need during childhood, which healthy-minded people gradually loose and are mostly rid of by their mid-teens. Healthy adult minds do not have any such need.
Which is where I am convinced the true evil of ‘religions’ lies in: all form of religious ‘belief’, whether theistic or not, suppress the natural development of the human brain and thus actively prevent ‘believers’ from becoming true adults with healthy, mature minds. Only those thus crippled have a need to believe in things even when they become adults.
All ‘religions’ MUST do this, must actively terrorize people who enter the maturation process and begin to naturally outgrow their ‘beliefs’, because this terror alters the chemical balance in the brain and physically prevents these people from growing a healthy functioning adult brain.
If ‘religions’ (and I do include Cultural Marxism among ‘religions’) did not break the human brain and raise generations of ‘adult children’ who believe things because their brains had been crippled during the crucial maturation process, no State could ever become totalitarian over such a healthy adult population.
That is why Sharia requires chilren must start praying by the age of 10 – or be beaten, why the Christian Confirmation is at about 11, the Jewish boys must accompany fathers to pray from when they are 13, the young pioneers take their oath of allegiance to the communist party at the age of 9 or 10, and so on. Because the individual must be subjected to the brain-deforming terrorism of religious indoctrination during the crucial period from about 10 to 16…
And that is why all forms of religion are evil and no better than a totalitarian State.
March 25, 2013 at 20:09
Code, I must agree with Xan on this one. Religion is a gripping vice, that may not be surmountable but it is prevenatable. Your idea of marxism and religion being mutually exclusive is false. Need I mention the United States of America? People and societies only move their feet when there is fire under them, so I’m waiting for the day of the ideological crucible whether it comes in my lifetime or not.
I think both feminists and anti-feminists are often times deluded. Reality, if it exists, lies somewhere in between the two, though not necessarily at the dead center.
We know the polar differences.
Feminists who support organizations that assist women who are victims of domestic abuse = GOOD.
Feminists, such as in the video, who are shallowly academic, dogmatic and bigoted = BAD.
And there are borderline cases which are hard to detect. There ARE stereotypes against women, double standards, etcs. that are legitimate problems. And then there are cases where people overanalyze and overstep boundaries and distort the truth to accomplish far more than being fair to women.
Where is the line between the two, in the most borderline cases drawn? I don’t know entirely. You two don’t either. I just have both the humility and arrogance to admit it. Easy for me, as universal morality is as much of a fabrication as god and communism are.
Code, I think your criticism of feminism is too dependent on traditional values which were a product of religious dogma over millennia. It’s not enough to have the right position on something, but for the right reasons, otherwise it is only superficially helpful.
It’s awful that some of the criticism toward feminism is not fueled by a genuine attempt to remove as much bias from the human mind as possible, but simply just to serve the Abrahamic Gods. It’s just counterproductive.
Juggernaut, I think we have a basic agreement on some things, while I disagree with you on other bits.
One of my problems with your statement is your use of the word ‘feminist’. I’ll stick with your imagery, if you please…
Women like in the video = ‘FEMINIST’
People who support abused women’s shelters, as well as support helping abused women to move out of them succesfully, giving them skills and opportunities to rebuild their lives in a way they can achieve happiness = DECENT HUMAN BEING and NOT a feminist!
People who support abused women’s shelters, but also actively support lofty-sounding programs whose real-life effects are to build dis-incentives for the abused women’s way to become self-sufficient, in order to use their misfortunate position to further your own political and fund-raising agenda = FEMINIST
People who support abused women’s shelters because they are part of/employee of the bureaucracy that profits from the maximum number of women being dependent on these shelters = FEMINIST
I hope that clarifies the ‘label’ differentiation…
Of course, I also disagree with you on ‘natural morality’ not being ‘univesal’ as I am convinced we can easily derive it from applying first principles to evolutionary history (of all sentient social living beings), but that is a completely different topic, better left for another thread!
March 25, 2013 at 20:53
Again, it’s the issue of wording that give femin-IST that connotation. Semantics at most.
Feel free to start that separate debate whenever you’re ready.
I beg to disagree – it is not a matter of semantics but of a fundamental difference in the philosophy of feminism which is rooted in forced perceptions of victimhood vs the philosophy of individual self-responsibility.
That is not a matter of semantics, but of fundamental principles.
March 25, 2013 at 21:27
Firstly, I have never, in my entire life, met a person without any “necessary illusions” – even if only the faith that there is more to admire in man than to despise, and reason must eventually prevail.
Don’t forget, however, that half of all people are below average, and such an abstract belief is just not going to do much for them. We can’t just write these people off. We need to motivate them to stand up against their (and our) oppressors.
Secondly, I don’t disagree with you about the psychological evils of religion. However, the modern soft-totalitarian propaganda state is psychologically evil in all the same ways, but it goes about it with a scientific precision which makes it much worse than the church ever was.
That’s why the state has managed to marginalize the church. Cultural Marxism is the scientific methodology that enabled the secular state to do this, but it is not, itself, a religion.
Cultural Marxism is, if you like, meta-religious in nature. It draws on Freudian psychology, the Jungian theory of archetypes, the Hegelian dialectic, the propaganda models of Bernays and Chomsky, and the sociological praxis of the Frankfurt School. It creates a secularized amalgam of belief systems ranging the gamut from primordial fertility cults through to collectivist political economics. Its ultimate objective, however, is not to create or promote any particular belief system, but rather to destroy any cultural or psychological resistance to the Marxist revolution.
Throughout most of history, the church held the monopoly on psychological coercion while the state held the monopoly on physical force. Thus ultimate evil was only possible when the two worked together, as they did during the dark ages of Christendom and still do in Islam to this day.
However, cultural Marxism has allowed the state to free itself of any dependence on the church and claim exclusive use of all forms of violence – physical, psychological or otherwise.
Nonetheless, the church remains the strongest foe of the state, even though the church is greatly weakened. Anything we do to weaken it further only ensures the victory of the soft-totalitarian corporocracy.
In short, my point is that the only viable strategy for defeating the global governance machine is to play off church and state against each other.
Actually, I would like to see this implemented as part of a larger strategy that pits the state, the church, the academy and the market against each other in perpetual mutual animosity.
In this way, the individual has some hope of retaining freedom, while the leviathans are facing off against each other.
Xanthippa, if you can think of a better way, I am all ears.
I agree with your characterization of religious indoctrination, but where I differ from you is in that I consider ‘Cultural Marxism’ as well as any other form of totalitarian ideology to be equal to religion in EVERY aspect that ‘counts’.
Remember that the definition of ‘religion’ does not require gods or ‘supernatural forces’ but rather includes all principles that we, humans, consider all principles and/or ideas ‘important, powerful or beautifue enough’ to ‘single out’ and/or honour and/or worship… OK, this is the Jungian definition, but I consider this definition to be the most complete and accurate one!
It is, to my mind, misleading and/or mistaken to state differentiate between the oppression by the State and the oppression by a religion: if a society is ‘religious’, then the leader of any government HAS TO submit to the bullying by the ‘religion’ (or dogma, if you prefer, in a ‘non-theistic religious state’) or face being deposed.
Thus, attempting to ‘play the religion off the State’ is a false dicotomy. The State will ALWAYS submit to the dogma of the time in order to stay in power – and thus enable the religious dogma (theistic or not) of the day to run roughshod over human rights – unless the populace of peoples it governs over overwhelmingly insists on individual rights and equality of all individuals before the law AND the source of all authority being the individual and limiting the power of the government….and all that good stuff….
Sorry, I know it’s poorly worded…just please look fot the meaning behind the imperfect wording….it’ll take me a long time to properly phrase it…
March 25, 2013 at 22:27
I’m with Xanthippa on this one, all the way.
Feminists never do women any good, except when it is unavoidable to the execution of their agenda.
And universal morality can be derived from human nature and the nature of things by reason tempered with compassion. I have argued this point in detail here and here.
To that I must add that it is a flagrantly noxious lie, promulgated by feminists, that traditional family values were maliciously invented by men to justify the oppression of women under the aegis of the Abrahamic religions.
Traditional family values came to be what they are because they work, and nothing else does.
To see what counts as traditional family values, look at what is common everywhere, not just in one set of related religions. Look also at far eastern traditions, and those of nomadic peoples. What do we find in common?
The man is the head of the household, and the woman is the heart of the home. Children are to honour their parents and parents are exclusively responsible for their upbringing. And adultery is one of the most serious moral crimes.
Again, these are not arbitrary social conventions. Every culture, everywhere in the world and at all times in history, has adhered to these traditions.
Because many thousands of years of experience taught us that that’s what it takes to propagate a stable, healthy culture.
March 26, 2013 at 20:20
There’s no need to apologize for your wording. It seems pretty clear to me.
Again, I completely agree with you about the nature of religion in the wider sense, whether theistic or secular. So I completely agree that Marxism is a religion. But cultural Marxism is not Marxism. Rather, it is a toolkit of social-psychological methods used to bring about wholesale conversion to Marxism. Think of it this way: cultural Marxism is to Marxism as soft Jihad is to Islam.
Now, consider the belief system founded on the premises that morality derived from human nature applies equally to every person, that every person equally possesses certain inalienable rights merely by virtue of existing, that government exists only to equally protect the equal rights of every person, and that government has no authority except that which is delegated to it, and which can be revoked, by the consensus of the people.
This, too, is a religion according the wider definition we are using. It plugs into the same part of the psyche. It just happens to be the least irrational world view one could plug in there. However, it takes a certain rare kind of mind to successfully plug such an austerely rational belief system into the religious wiring of the psyche. Most people need something a little more emotionally compelling.
And that’s why almost everyone I know, who holds this world view, is (at least nominally) a Christian. Indeed, we only need to change “by virtue of existing” into “given by God,” and we have a belief system which is palatable to theists and secularists alike, provided they don’t argue too much about the definition of “God.”
The theist can personify God as an infinitely wise and potent entity which created the universe, while the secularist can take the word to refer to the principle of self-organisation, according to which, order emerges spontaneously from chaos through fluctuations stabilized by dissipation. Each person, according to individual taste and ability, can adopt a different position somewhere along the continuum defined by these endpoints, and it makes no practical difference.
No matter how a person’s understanding of the phrase “given by God” varies with intelligence or evolves with age, the practical end result – in terms of how people should live, and how they should treat each other, and how society should be structured – will remain broadly consistent with classical liberal ideals.
It is no accident that these ideals, together with the vitally important principle of separation of church and state, were formulated in a society firmly rooted in new-testament Christianity. Indeed, it is easy to see that these classical liberal ideals are nothing other than a proper understanding of the new testament exhortations to love God, to love your neighbour as yourself, and to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s.
The genius of the American founding fathers in laying down this formulation of the classical liberal world view is that it creates common ground between “touchy feely” right-brained people and “coldly rational” left-brained people.
We desperately need to re-establish this common ground, because its destruction causes civil society to tear itself apart, and that is precisely what makes cultural Marxism so dangerous.
We cannot re-establish this common ground by destroying the church. Instead, we need to harness the church back into its proper role of supporting the classical liberal foundations of Western civilization and combating the corrosive influence of cultural Marxism. Then we have some hope of breaking the back of the global governance machine and returning government to its rightful role of protecting individual rights.
It would be nice to think that reason alone is enough to defeat cultural Marxism.
But it isn’t.
So what do you suggest we do, Xanthippa?
Again, if you can think of a better way, I’m all ears.
Hmmmm….let me take this sequentially.
While we cannot all agree what the word ‘God’ means, I think we can agree what it does not mean….and I am rather inclined to find your extension of the term ‘God’ in how a ‘secularist’ would interpret it fits into the ‘that is not what the word ‘God’ means’ category. However, I do take your meaning and intent behind it and can, provisionally, go along with it for now.
Now we come to the ‘rooted in the Christian New Testament’ bit and we run into a very very deep disagreement.
Not only do I not accept the assertion that classical liberal ideas are roooted in New Testament Christianity, I am deeply convinced that they are diametrically opposed to Christian dogma of both the Old and New testament. Rather, I will argue that classical liberalism arose from the rejection of Christian dogma.
Current fuzzy-wuzzy Christ-is-love crap is just the Christian dogma being revised and twisted so that Christian religious organizations do not loose their last vestiges of power over humans who have been raised with classical liberal ideals and thus cannon possibly accept classical Christianity!
Christianity – and here, I do mean cannonical, classical Christianity is a brutal, totalitarian dogma of denying one’s individuality and submitting one’s very own free will to the domination of an malicious, vicious evil entity that is the Christian God.
It is precisely because Christianity requires one to give up their free will and submit to random dictates received from above (literally) that prevents Christians from having a strong sense of self-ownership, self-responsibility and self-respect…and which is why so many Christian organizations have instinctively adopted the dhimmi stance…they self-define as sheeple, obedient to the whims of their shepherd!
I really don’t see any support for individualism that could possibly come from that direction. And that is why I also think that trying to re-build the church would simply replace one oppressive tyranny with another, perhaps even more vile one. Because deluded people who believe their actions are justified by the orders of a supernatural entity are more likely to do evil than rational humans.
(Please, note the ‘more likely’ phrasing….not absolute, but more likely.)
I’m not suggesting I have a good plan – I am just convinced that the direction you are proposing will be counterproductive and explaining why. We’ve tried it before – that is how Jan Hus ended up being burned at a stake… (Yes, one of my grandmothers was a member of the Czech Brethren and taught all us grandkids the hymns promising revenge for the White Mountain – so I do have an idea where this would lead!)
Of course, it would be nice if people were open to rational thought and would choose governance systems based on logic rather than emotions and irrational beliefs. Appeals to logic are nothing compared to ‘getting your Obama phone’…but religion – all religion – is anti-rational thought, by its very defiition, so looking to any religionists for support of rational life-choices is not advisable.
Teaching kids to think and question and self-respect is the only course of action I see open to us.
March 27, 2013 at 23:04
Yes, classical liberalism grew out of an embrace of reason. But embracing reason is not the same as rejecting God or the moral teachings of Jesus.
Rather, the Enlightenment was a rejection of the dogmatic and authoritarian practice of Christianity which gripped the church during the Dark Ages, beginning with the fall of Rome and continuing on through the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation (and in many instances, still persisting to this day).
When we think of the Enlightenment, we think of philosophers and scientists like Spinoza, Voltaire, Descartes, and Newton. But one could argue that the Enlightenment really began when King James I commissioned the definitive translation of the Bible into English, made it widely available to the laity, and thereby ended the exclusivity of the clergy’s access to religious texts.
Thus the Enlightenment was not only an embrace of reason, but also a moral reaction to the continued failure of attempts to reform the church, brought on by a newly widespread understanding of the glaring disparity between the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, and the self-serving dogma promulgated by the church. That is to say, Enlightenment thinking rebelled against the Scribes and Pharisees in the temple, precisely as Jesus did.
For our purposes, we may take the essence of Enlightenment thinking to be represented by men like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. These men definitely rejected the mainstream of doctrinaire Christianity.
But they were certainly not atheists. They did not reject the moral teachings of Jesus. They did not call for the destruction of the church. They called for separation of church and state – that is, the destruction of theocracy.
Locke’s arguments against the use of state power to enforce religious dogma can be found in Letters Concerning Toleration, written between 1685 and 1689. These letters provide an excellent insight on what the American founding fathers understood the separation of church and state to mean, and why it was so important to them.
And we can get a good look at Jefferson’s views on the moral teachings of Jesus in his 1804 synopsis of the Gospels, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. In a letter to John Adams, dated October 13, 1813, he expressed his method and intent in producing it:
“In extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. … We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus …
There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.”
So, what are those teachings?
In large part, they may be found in the Sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in detail in chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew, and given in more condensed form in Luke 6:17-49, where the same sermon is commonly called the Sermon on the Plain. These are the well-known teachings to love your enemy, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, to know the tree by its fruit, and so on.
All of these follow quite directly from the two commandments of the New Covenant:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Notice the way this is worded: not as an invalidation of the Old Covenant, but as a recapitulation of it. This was the stroke of genius which allowed Christianity to supersede Judaism, and is best exemplified by the following:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
But the form of the fulfilment was such as to transform the entire religion from one based on severity, retribution, and the letter of the law, to one based on mercy, forgiveness, and the spirit of the law. This was accomplished firstly by pre-paying all future sacrificial debts by a one-time-only symbolic super-sacrifice, and secondly by introducing the idea that God is love.
Now, the idea that God is love is most clearly elaborated in the writings of John, and the actual meaning is a good deal more subtle than commonly thought:
1st John 4:7-12
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
If we read this allegorically, we see that the magical aspects of the story of Jesus, attributing to him the role of the Son of God – the Lamb of God – are best seen as rhetorical devices which allowed the real purpose to be accomplished. Namely, the replacement of the vengeful, personified God of the Old Testament with the loving, abstract God of the New Testament, as affirmed by the replacement of the Old Covenant with the New Covenant.
What is most interesting about all of this (besides the rhetorical subtlety with which it was introduced) is that the teachings of Jesus seem specifically designed to allow precisely that continuum between theist and secularist interpretations which leads them to share a common moral ground in practice. This was not added later; it was built into the New Covenant from the very beginning – and therein lies its greatness.
In summary, we find that classical liberalism is indeed firmly rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and that the rationally-derived universal natural morality is essentially equivalent to those teachings, when both are properly understood.
methinks you’ve read a completely different New Testament than I have – I am using the King James version.
The New Testament I have read (and one of the copies I have has all of Jesus’s words in red – so it’s clear those are his words) rejects individualism, promotes immorality through abdication of responsibility for one’s actions by ensrining the practice of scape-goatism, and perverts all healthy concepts of what constitutes ‘love’ by equating loyalty to a God to ‘love’ and thus destroys the very foundation of human relationships.
It requires one reject one’s free choice and replace morality by obedience to authority.
And don’t even let me start on impregnating a woman without her permission so she would give birth to, well, his mini-me – in effect, teaching that it is OK to rape one’s own mother! Is that what they mean when they go on about God’s perfect love?
Wonderful ‘moral’ teachings indeed!
No, CodeSlinger, these are not the teachings from which any rational, moral philosophy could arise.
And, for the record: for our own sake, we should all hope to be judged by the letter of the law than some other person’s subjective understanding of what some ‘spirit’ of the law may be! You cannot have the rule of law unless everyone knows what the laws actually are – not how some people will interpret their ‘spirit’.
It seeems to me that your own argument that the New Testament leads to subjective and arbitrary rulings over adherence to the letter of the laws demonstrates that the rule of law which is the backbone of the US Republic could not be rooted in any accurate interpretation of the Christian New Testament.
All right – this was a quick, ‘off-the-cuff’ answer after my initial reading of your response. I’ll re-read it, together with the supporting material, after I get a little sleep and, if I think I’ve missed some ‘biggies’, I’ll add some more…
March 28, 2013 at 16:03
Awwww…….. General Jack “CodeSlinger” Ripper loves him some baby Jesus. Isn’t that adorable!
I may disagree with CodeSlinger’s reading of the New Testament, but: P’Tok!!!
March 28, 2013 at 21:03
Yes, I stick to the King James Version too, even though it’s far from perfect, since James explicitly instructed the translators to make sure their result was consistent with Anglican dogma. However, the KJV is the least adulterated version available to those of us who can’t read ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.
All the bible verses I quoted are from the Authorized Standard Text of 1769, and are essentially identical, except for modernized spelling, to the versions in the Original Text of 1611.
Now, about the letter versus the spirit of the law. Proper respect for the intent of the law is not the same as arbitrary subjectivity, and strict adherence to the letter of the law is not the same as objective fairness.
The law attempts to encode morality in something resembling a formal axiomatic system, but when this resemblance is taken too literally, it leads to disaster. The root of the problem is perhaps best illustrated by Richard Feynman’s remark about reasoning in the context of physical law:
“If there is something very slightly wrong in our definitions, then the full mathematical rigor may convert these errors into ridiculous conclusions.”
This is a consequence of the nature of rigorous reasoning, not the underlying subject matter, so it applies in jurisprudence just as it does in physics, resulting in a miscarriage of justice at best.
At worst, it transforms jurisprudence into Pharisaism, which is strict adherence to the letter of the law in such a way as to subvert its intent. The Pharisees were masters of this kind of sanctimonious hypocrisy, which is what Jesus found so objectionable about them.
This is why I keep emphasising that morality – and therefore law – must be derived from human nature by reason tempered with compassion. Reason alone is just not enough.
Indeed, the act of tempering our reason with compassion in our daily dealings with each other is precisely what Jesus meant by his commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself.
March 29, 2013 at 17:12
Sorry, I had been absent for a bit in this debate, but to Xan and Code, I want to clarify.
I AM against feminism, in the same vein that you two are. American feminists are no longer fighting for suffrage or entry into the work place, as they did 100 years ago. They are fighting over stupid trivial shit, all for bigotry, dogma and self-aggrandizement. There’s no disagreement there. Sorry, if my failure to understand the semantics threw either of you off.
As for the role of traditional values and Christianity in our modern society, I must disagree with Code Slinger. Code Slinger notes the nature of the Christian religion has changed to adopt a more subtle loving tolerant view point, but that this lighter side of Christianity always existed and the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment was a corollary of what the Bible stood for all along. If that is what you are trying to say, I find that gravely incorrect.
Christians have been historically guilty of moving the goalpost. Fire and brimstone used to work, but after the Enlightenment, people were getting a bit smarter, so the more subtle “loving” approach allowed people the illusion they were free from religious dogma when they really weren’t. The same way that evolution being wrong was a natural precept of Christianity, but now that society has gotten a bit more scientific, Christians decide to move the goalpost. With bullshit like “Well, evolution did happen, but God was responsible for it”, or the classic lie “Science and religion are completely seperate realms that never touch
or conflict with each other”.
Religious leaders do what they can to hold onto their power, justify where they can, shapeshift where they can, but in the end, the grip is weakening. And eventually, religion will contort itself into nothing.
That is what I was referring to in an earlier comment, when I called attention to the burning of Jan Hus (which popped into my mind because an image of it was flashed during the last Thunderf00t video). And yes, many of my direct ancestors were Hussites, so I have been keenly aware of this aspect of Christianity (the Hussites were not ‘gentle’ and the resulting religious wars were brutal beyond belief…).
Jan Hus taught that the Catholic Church was corrupt, and Martin Luther (a century or so later) considered himself to be a disciple of Jus’s legacy.
But, at the time of Hus, the Cathoolic Church was stronger than any State in Europe. As a result, Hus was burned alive at a stake and a Crusade was sent to eradicate his disciples, who were defying the authority of Rome until the Crusades….
What resulted was a prolonged and brutal religious civil war in which both sides showed no mercy to any human being: both sides being Christian, they believed that killing people does not destroy them, only brings about the next stage of life for their souls and that the more they suffer in this life, the more likely they are to go to Heaven in the afterlife….
This lead to unspeakable acts of cruelty in order to ‘cleanse’ the sould of their opponents before killing them – by both sides!
Would this have been done by bad people in a time of war, regardless of belief? Yes. But given the belief, it was done by bad people AND good people alike, believing they were shoowing their opponents love and mercy by torturing them. The Christian doctine of the New Testament made them believe that this is what divine love meant…for they would have wanted to be ‘cleansed’ befor their own death to ‘clean away sin’, so they would enter directly to Heaven…
It’s the old de-humanizing ‘do onto others as you would have them do onto you’ fallacy!
March 29, 2013 at 19:22
Sorry it took me so long to respond, CodeSlinger, which is why I am doing so in a separate comment, rather than in italics in your comment itself.
I disagree with you on two very, very core concepts.
The law attempts to encode morality in something resembling a formal axiomatic system
That may be true for Sharia or other religious/ideological forms of law, but it is not what our,/b> laws were designed to do.
Quite to the contrary!
Traditionally, our laws were specifically designed so as NOT to legislate ‘morality’: rather, their aim was to define the line where individual rights must be curbed so as not to infringe the individual rights of others, maximizing the individual rights for all, to live according to whatever morality they choose for themselves.
This is a very deep, philosophical distinction and not a mere technicality!
This is a consequence of the nature of rigorous reasoning, not the underlying subject matter, so it applies in jurisprudence just as it does in physics, resulting in a miscarriage of justice at best.
While I do appreciate what you mean about rigorously applying reason to a flawedly-worded law resulting in miscarriage of justice, I also assert that our justice system has a mechanism to correct for this: laws whose wording would lead to miscarriage of justice are routinely struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.
Thus, I am unchanged in my conviction that the letter of the law must be adhered to in order for the rule of law to exist.
For, without it, we would not have a common set of rules, we would know what is and is not against the law….and that is not a good situation to live in!
As for your last statement:
…Jesus meant by his commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself.
I have a very accurate understanding of exactly why Jesus made that command!!!
You see, before Jesus, the Jewish/Christian deity only limited himself to subjugating humans during their life on Earth: surrender your free will and obey God and (provided he’s not tempted to ‘test’ you) you will have many wives, chilren and much wealth and power….defy him and he’ll command a competing tribe to wipe you and your kind off the face of the Earth!
You could still die in order to get away from this evil tormentor!!!
It was not until the coming of the ‘gentle Jesus’ that God’s eternal love was revealed to contail the punishment eternal hellfire for the slightest ‘sin’!!!
Which brings us to ‘loving thy neighbour as thou woulds yourself’: no human being is capable of that!!! Yes, we may love our neighbour, we may share with them and sacrifice much to help them – but we are individuals and unless we completeluy destroy what makes human – our individuality – we cannot possibly love our neighbour as we love ourselves!
This is rather obvious to any student of humanity.
So, why did Jesus make such a command, one that goes so contrary to human nature?
Having lived under a totalitarian collectivist regime, I am uniquely capable of answering this: the aim is to make each and every human being who has a shred of idea what their ‘self’ is to feel guilty about it…making them easier to manipulate! Making EVERY human being a ‘sinner’, no longe competent to decide ‘right and wrong’, fearing eternal torture – and groveling to do anything their Church’s teachings demand to escape eternal punishment!
Please, think about it..
April 1, 2013 at 04:09
Firstly, let’s be clear about what we mean by ‘morality.’
You write “Traditionally, our laws were specifically designed so as NOT to legislate ‘morality’: rather, their aim was to define the line where individual rights must be curbed so as not to infringe the individual rights of others.
I claim that this line is precisely the line which defines the boundary between moral right and wrong in universal morality. Correctly understood, it only deals with invariant aspects of the human condition. That is, the boundary between right and wrong, as it applies to everyone everywhere, is not a matter of local custom or personal opinion.
When properly formulated, the law simply attempts to encode this boundary explicitly in writing. That is, murder is illegal because it is morally wrong, not vice versa. But no such attempt can be perfect, because the real world includes infinite shades of grey, due to endless permutations and combinations of extenuating and exacerbating circumstances.
Thus all laws, including Constitutions and Bills of Rights (in Canada’s case, especially those!), are necessarily flawed and imperfect – and always will be, no matter carefully we try to refine them. Thus the existence of a mechanism for striking down unconstitutional laws is not sufficient to escape the miscarriage of justice resulting from the rigorous application of pure reason to flawed laws.
The commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself is a good case in point. Reading it too literally, and reasoning about it too rigorously, leads to a complete negation of the spirit of the law and transforms a profound and beautiful moral principle into an instrument of oppression.
This is why the just application of law will always require human judges, who cannot do better than to pass judgement based on their interpretation of the law. If they do so conscientiously, making full use of their rational faculty, tempered always by compassion borne of their own experience of the human condition, the result will still be imperfect.
It will, however, be the best which is humanly possible. This is what I mean by giving due respect to the spirit of the law.
This is precisely what the Pharisees did not do. Rather, they excused their own perfidy by divorcing the letter of the law from its spirit, so as to make it more amenable to manipulation by their hypocritical sophistry. This is why Jesus reviled them, and why we continue revile their ilk wherever we find them in the history of organized religion.
My point is that we should not destroy the church just because it is often dominated by corrupt clergy, just as we should not disband corporations just because they are often run by corrupt businessmen, and we should not abolish government just because it is often controlled by corrupt politicians.
They each serve a purpose, and what we should do is wrest them from the control of the modern-day scribes, Pharisees and money lenders, and restore them to proper operation.
Secondly, let’s be clear about the origins of the idea of Hell.
The concept of Hell, as a place to which sinners are eternally damned to receive infinite punishment for finite crimes, was brought into Christianity during the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, most notably by Tertullian (160-220 AD), Jerome (347-420 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD). They got the idea from Greek philosophers such as Polybius, who wrote in Book VI of his Histories,
“Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions.”
Interestingly, it was Polybius who also gave us the trias politica, which is the division of government into three independent branches: legislative, judiciary, and executive. So Polybius was not a stupid guy, though I think we may have reached a stage where fear of hellfire can be replaced by more benign superstitions.
But we can not afford to do away with all superstition, and perhaps never will be able to, because there is no escaping the fact that reason is not a sufficiently compelling substitute for most people.
In any case, the concept of Hell as a place of everlasting punishment was seen as an expedient from the very beginning, and not as a true part of the teachings. The idea of purgatory, and purification by fire in general, was added by the Gnostics, who came by it via the Persian and Egyptian influences on their roots.
What is crucial to note is that these concepts are not found anywhere in the original text of the Bible. Neither in the Old nor in the New Testament. Certainly, Jesus never spoke of them. On the contrary, the original Christian doctrine regarding the fate of sinners is given quite explicitly by Paul:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Old Testament uses only one word which we translate as Hell, and that is Sheol, which began as a Hebrew adaptation of the Sumerian underworld, the so-called “House of Dust and Darkness.” It wasn’t a particularly pleasant place, but neither was it a place where punishments were meted out; all of the dead ended up there, except for a very few favourites of the gods.
The New Testament, written mostly in Greek, uses three different words – Gehenna, Hades, and Tartaros – which are conflated together by translating them all as Hell. This was done quite deliberately by Jerome in the course of producing the Latin Vulgate. His purpose, of course, was to make Jesus appear to have supported the official 4th-century Catholic concept of Hell.
Gehenna is the name of a valley in Jerusalem, originally called Hinnom. The Tophet was located therein, and Canaanites sacrificed children there by throwing them into the fire in belly of Moloch. Later, the Jews renamed it Gehenna and turned it into a garbage dump, where they incinerated refuse – including the corpses of executed criminals. This is the sense in which “bad people end up in Gehenna” was understood at the time of Jesus.
Jesus himself spoke exclusively of Gehenna when dealing with the fate of sinners. For example,
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell [Gehenna].
Hades is the name of the underworld (and also its god) in Greek mythology. It consisted of Elysium, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartaros. Elysium was the final resting place of the exalted: demigods, heroes, and a very few others chosen by the gods. The Asphodel Meadows were where ordinary souls spent eternity after death. And Tartaros was where the exceptionally wicked were punished eternally.
Jesus only used the word Hades three times, and then only when speaking figuratively, or recounting a parable:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell [Hades] shall not prevail against it.
Luke 10:15 (also Matthew 11:23)
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell [Hades].
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
and in hell [Hades] he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Tartaros is never mentioned by Jesus. The word is used only once in the entire Bible, by Peter:
2 Peter 2:4
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartaros], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
So, while you are quite right that the idea of Hell was introduced into Christianity to frighten people into compliance and resulted in horrendous abuses, it forms no part of the moral teachings of Jesus Christ.
Those who have tried to purge Christianity of this horrific doctrine (beginning with Tyndale in 1522) are not watering down Christianity at all. Nor is there anything disingenuous about it as Juggernaut suggests when he characterises it as “moving the goalposts.”
They are undoing the damage done to Christianity by the corrupt clergy.
The intent is to transform what has become an instrument of oppression back into a profoundly beautiful moral teaching.
And that is precisely what they should be doing.