Christian Solidarity or Christian Hate?

Christian Solidarity or Christian Hate? March 24, 2020

When I started to present my work on Christianophobia, I ran into a fair amount of resistance. Most of the resistance was easily answered with the data I collected. For example, complaints about whether hatred of Christian is justified quickly fell away when I pointed out “jokes” about torturing Christians to death. In fact they sell merchandise with one such joke. It is difficult to justify that level of dehumanizing. Some argue that Christianophobia, which is an unreasonable hatred or anger towards Christians, does not exist but rather Christians are merely losing their privilege and being treated like everyone else. But given that the evidence that in academia individuals feel free to support anti-Christian occupational discrimination, it is hard to say that being denied a job due to religious bigotry is merely a loss of privilege.

But one of the more interesting objections is the argument that Christians are powerful and even if something like Christianophobia exists, it really does not matter. As a group Christians could withstand any hatred coming from non-Christians since they are a powerful majority in the United States. This is an interesting argument as clearly Christians outnumber any other religious group in our country. But do they have disproportionate power relative to those numbers? This objection relies on an assumption that Christians have enough group solidarity to trade on their social and political power. But is that the case?

To investigate, I ask a simple question. Do Christians have hatred for other Christians to the point that such group solidarity is a myth? Just as internalized racism moves blacks to perpetuate institutional racism, perhaps there are Christians who perpetuate Christianophobia? If that is the case, then the argument of Christian solidarity is overblown as well as the idea that Christians as a group act in ways to maintain their religious power. Yes, there are still areas of society where Christians have a strong social advantage, but the idea of a monolithic powerful religious group would be shattered.

Given that Christianophobia in the United States tends to be aimed at more theologically conservative Christians, I speculate that societal anti-Christian hatred would be more likely to be amongst progressive Christians. Indeed in talking with a colleague who interviewed both conservative and progressive Christians, she found that conservative Christians liked progressive Christians more than progressive Christians liked conservative Christians. So I decided to take a quick look at the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) to see how many progressive Christians have animosity towards conservative Christians.

The way I measured anti-Christian hostility in my academic book on Christianophobia was with a series of thermometer questions. These questions allowed a respondent to indicate, on a scale of 0 to 100, how much they liked or did not like members of certain social groups. If an individual ranked fundamentalist Christians a standard deviation below their average rankings of racial and religious groups, then I designated that person as having hostility towards conservative Christians.

This technique allowed me to make a rough generalized assessment of who tends to have anti-Christian hostility. While this measure is not a direct assessment of theoretical Christianophobia, I used it to approximate the places in our society where Christianophobia is likely to exist. In the book I used the 2012 ANES. But for this project I will use the 2016 version of that survey. Furthermore, instead of comparing the score of Christian fundamentalists to a mean of thermometer scores of all religious and racial groups, I compared the score of Christian fundamentalists to a mean of thermometer scores for all other social groups.

Using this measure, I found that 29.9% of all Americans have anti-Christian hostility. This is a bit higher than the 16.4% of the population who are anti-Muslim according to these same techniques. It is not surpristing that 63.9% of atheists and agnostics have anti-Christian animosity making them the group most likely to exhibit such hostility. It is also not surprising that only 8.9% of Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God had such hostility. I defined Christians with such beliefs about the Bible as conservative Christians. They represent the group least likely to have hostility towards fundamentalist Christians, which is what I would expect since many in that group would likely define themselves as fundamentalist Christians.

So where do progressive Christians fit? Are they more akin to the high hostility exhibited by atheists or agnostics, or the lower hostility exhibited by conservative Christians? If we use belief of the Bible as the Word of God to determine who is a conservative and who is a progressive Christians, then I found that 30.6% of all progressive Christians have hostility towards fundamentalist Christians. This is about the same percentage as the general population as there is not significant difference between the two. Basically, progressive Christians are not more hostile to Christians than the rest of society, but neither are they less hostile. They share the same level of hostility towards Christians as others. Thus, their religious identity as Christian does not appear to move them away from hostility towards other Christians.

These results challenge the notion that Christians have an advantage as a group in the United States. Individual Christians may possess advantages due to their faith in certain areas of our society. But Christians are not a monolithic group that acts on its own self-interest. Sizeable portions of progressive Christians not only show little desire to unite with conservative Christians, but also their propensity to hate conservative Christians is indistinguishable from the rest of society. This lack of solidarity also takes away the notion that Christians have great power due to their numerical advantage. For that advantage to mean anything Christians must be willing to work together to gain or maintain their social power. My analysis indicates that this is not the case.

The fact that progressive Christians exhibit hatred towards conservative Christians at rates similar to the rest of society shows that Christians are not always safe from other Christians. Rather than simply count the number of Christians in the United States and assume that those numbers keep them safe, we are better off assessing when and where anti-Christian hostility is a problem. And part of that problem may be due to the attitudes of other Christians.

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267 responses to “Christian Solidarity or Christian Hate?”

  1. Have you ever been beaten up because you were a Christian?
    I have because I’m an atheist.

  2. I have been told I can’t possibly know right from wrong. And this was from someone I have known for over 25 years. I never knew that is where I stood with this person.


    Many years earlier, when I was a Catholic, I was told by a born-again Christian that I wasn’t really saved and that my prayers were useless.

  3. Personal experience doesn’t invalidate good research. Yancey’s research represents the personal experiences of millions. Of course there will be exceptions, but unlike the natural sciences, exceptions in the social sciences prove the rule.

  4. Well done! I didn’t realize how much unbelieving regressive “Christians” hate us conservatives until we voted for Trump. Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition and others spewed hatred and venom all over the internet.

  5. “…exceptions in the social sciences prove the rule.”

    The only people who would utter such drivel have no idea what science is, physical or social.

  6. When Fundigelicals stop trying to shove their dogma into our legal system, perhaps they will be better liked.
    But no one likes a bully or a holier-than-thou, and that is what conservative christians are, regardless of how nicey-nice they come across.

    The proof is in the pudding, and Trump supporters, righty Fascist groups, creepy woman-hating misogynists and White Supremacists are full of Fundigelicals.

  7. Oh please,

    Stop with the victim drama.
    Throwing the H word around too much only shows your hysteria.

  8. I’d be interested in learning Yancey’s measured responses from conservative Christians about their hostility toward “progressive/liberal” Christians, rather than simply his anecdotal comment from a colleague that the former like the latter more than the converse. I’d also find meaningful a grading of responses by conservative and liberal Protestants toward “Catholic Christians.” Yancey’s method is interesting, but his inquiry scope, at least as reported here, seems too limited.

  9. Come on, you know better than that. I have nothing against Jesus. It’s some of his “followers” we have issues with. I think he would be appalled at appalled how some act in his name.

  10. Kinda like denying whole groups of people the same rights you enjoy because of your deeply held religious beliefs. It’s still bigotry!

  11. You’re quoting one of 250 or so illiterate sheep hearders who purportedly wrote a bunch of stuff that has never been able to be shown to be true. And yes I’ve read the bible. All of it. And I don’t overlook the majority of it as you do.

  12. Yes. Using the Bible to justify belief in your God fails when if your interlocutor doesn’t already believe in your God and the Bible.

  13. I hope there is increased infighting within christianity. It would make sense as we all have greater access to information and each other (for better or worse). I am hopeful that the christian influence in our political system will lessen over time as actions and beliefs demonstrated by politicians are scrutinized. I’m ok with religion, just minimize it’s unconstitutional influence in public policy.

  14. As I remember, Jesus was talking about what was happening 2000 years ago.
    Don’t think he would appreciate you taking his words completely out of context.

  15. Actually Jesus was a good dude, he understood religion of the day and saw why is was failing. He taught the truth, the facts and a way to a happy life (everlasting = consistent). Jesus is well loved. It is the Christians that are worthy of hate. Why because Christianity has little or nothing to do with what Jesus said or how he lived. Lets us hope the bravado and stupidity of the Christians help spread C-19 deeply into the Christian community. having 2% fewer Christians is going in the right direction. What you said above is why we need fewer folks like you, Good luck with that virus thingy, we don’t need you breathing on folks. Rodger, go to church. There’s something there for you,

  16. personal experiences are most often personal delusions. But when so many have the same personal delusions, they might be all right. and they may all be deluded.

  17. Rodger, you are a silly boy, a confused silly boy. That’s not a insult, that’s an accurate description of a good christian.

  18. Lets also hope that every time two Christians get in each others faces one of them has C-19 already.

  19. We hated you a little because of your stupidity and lack of caring, but now that you are all trump supporters, you are all down right dangerous and need to be eliminated. Glad to here you are still following his advice, so that elimination will take place naturally, all you need to do is get into each others faces and act naturally. Go to church, there’s something there for everyone. And its only 2% fatal.

  20. But your apparent conviction that bigotry is actually wrong is a “deeply held religious belief”

  21. > Lets us hope the bravado and stupidity of the Christians help spread
    > C-19 deeply into the Christian community. having 2% fewer Christians
    > is going in the right direction. What you said above is why we need
    > fewer folks like you, Good luck with that virus thingy, we don’t need
    > you breathing on folks.

    Love so amazing, love so divine from the neo-Commie prog-lefty folks. You must be one of those who bash right-wingers over the head to a bloody pulp with a sign that says “Love TRUMPS Hate”.

    As for Jesus, as a right-wing atheist I might paraphrase Gandhi saying: I like (most of) your Christians, I don’t like your Christ. Jesus, like all the Biblical prophets, was an iron-age Marxist guru, trumpeting the virtues of Social Justice (Communism by another name) over the true virtue of caring for one’s own blood and kin. I have nothing but contempt for that ancient hippie. Christianity from Paul’s day onward isn’t the religion of Jesus but a religion about him.

  22. > But no one likes a bully or a holier-than-thou

    Something that our Lefty “betters” who are always schooling us on morals might do well to keep in mind.

    Left-wing and right-wing moralizers and scolds aren’t polar opposites but competitors for the same turf. That’s why their hostility is so simply unquenchable.

  23. The sentence you wrote about African Americans perpetuating institutional racism is flawed stylistically and historically. I am always bothered how we are consistently blamed for wanting to avoid hate. Institutional racism is the byproduct of white supremacy and the creation of laws and institutions (e.g , banks, housing, education) that have crippled communities of color, economically, socially, and psychologically. Your phrasing already reveals a basic lack of understanding that Black people have never practiced nor had the power to promote institutional racism. Your blaming makes me question your legitimacy. Read more about institutional racism. What you are referring to is the widely used term…now, social distancing. Whites historically socially distanced themselves from Blacks, so the consequences have been that Black people have not felt welcomed in social spaces. We have chosen to engage primarily with one another to maintain our emotional and social health. Please don’t expound on subjects when you have not fully educated yourself.

  24. Wow, you really visit some interesting places on the web….well done, sir, as the best that I can offer to support your initiatives is that choices matter, that choices have consequences (intended and unintended) while encouraging all to make ever wiser choices. That is particularly challenging with relativistic world view as all so many are capable of violating the principal of non-contradiction as well as the principal of sufficient reason.

  25. This highlights the issue I have with George Yancey’s concept of Christianophobia, and which may be driving the continued pushback he’s getting. I think his research rather neatly demonstrates hostility not towards Christians as a whole, but toward one particular subset of Christians with a history of bigotry, political attempts to destroy other’s rights, and general nastiness. My hunch (which could be wrong as I am not a mind reader) is that he feels progressives are not real Christians, and thus his terminology is consistent withing that paradigm. But for everyone outside of that particular bubble, Christian is a much more inclusive term encompassing people that his own research has shown a significant deviation in “hostility” towards.

    I also think the methodology here is flawed, by dint of the use of intentionally prejudicial terms. He denotes lower rating of fundamentalists as a sign of “hostility”, when there are multiple other explanations (such as the behavior of that group in question) that entirely justify a lower rating as a byproduct of lived experience without the implications of active hatred that the word hostility implies.

    My main issue though, comes back to the careless and lazy conflation of “hostility towards conservative Christians” and “anti-christian hostility” or “Christianophobia”, terms that have MUCH broader implications than a narrow dislike of a group based on specific actions and behaviors.

  26. Watching a group that seeks its identity in the hatred of others complain that they are hated, is simply entertaining. It never would occur to you to have enough self-awareness to ask whether or not your stances are wrong and contrary to the will of God.

    People are not disgusted with you because you worship Christ. They are revolted because you in fact spit in His face.

    You are false Christians and are apostates. You worship violence against children, crime, money, Trump, and Satan. Even your ‘hatred’ of abortion is false. God is sawing the branch off the tree.

    You control the highest tier of government and it still is not enough. You crave suffering and spread human misery and ruin. There will be civil war before we all you to prevail. God will triumph and your evil shall perish.

  27. Actually the concept that some blacks unintentionally perpetuate racism is well founded in academic literature. The same argument has been made about women and sexism. It is not institutional power but a placating to the powers that be.

  28. “..and need to be eliminated.”

    We’re going to eliminate you, punk.

  29. Actually I have published a couple of article looking at animosity both ways and found that progressive Christians other conservative Christians more than the other way around. Working on an academic book on that subject. Will blog about it after, or right before, it comes out.

  30. Of course non-Christians are going to love those “Christians” who deny the deity of Christ and see nothing but error in the Bible and applaud their wickedness. Jesus said to be wary when men speak well of you.

  31. I am sure these studies you speak of are from white, male conservative academics that continue to ignore the ruins created by white supremacy. Black people don’t have the resources or the power to practice institutional racism. The falsehoods in your pronouncements just confirm that you are a tool of the racists I’ve met who claim to be Christians. You ignore the structural violence and oppression that have historically and currently stymied Black people and communities of color and savor the sport of “other” blaming. There is no middle ground for this argument. Good day.

  32. Check back in a year when the coronavirus body count is tallied up and I suspect there will be much more hostility to Christians. The spectacle of churches continuing public meetings, Falwell Pseudiversity staying open, preachers and “prophets” telling the gullible fear is the real enemy, scamvangelists phishing for “seed money” and hawking miracle oil cures, colloidal silver and the like are increasingly the public face of Crazyanity. Mall crawler and Ten Commandments commando Roy Moore is apparently writing letters to hayseeds in Alabammy encouraging them to keep churches open.

    Oh yeah, nearly forgot. Thoughts and Prayers!

  33. Actually no they are generally POC critiquing other POC who they feel have been co-opted. Perhaps you should do a search and learn what internalized racism is before offering comment. Just a suggestion.

  34. If you think it’s “hostile” for normal, secular Americans to push back against Christofascists who want to insert their lunatic mythical beliefs into our public policy, then yes, i’m hostile.

  35. All you have to do is stop trying to shove your stinking Fascist laws down our throats, and everything would be fine.

    But Noooooooooooooo.

    Fundigelicals think they have the right to tell everyone else how to live.
    Think again, Fascists.

  36. > All you have to do is stop trying to shove your stinking Fascist laws
    > down our throats, and everything would be fine.

    That’s quite rich coming from the proponents of Greta “ration everything, shut down everything, don’t eat no cow-flatulence-generating meat” Thugberg’s totalitarian climate shariah.

  37. You’re a left-winger, then you’re a Communist in all but name. Socialism and Communism differ only in degree.

  38. One certainly does not need a religious “belief” system to be convinced that bigotry is “actually wrong”.

  39. > And who cannot dispute that your kind are trying to spread the virus
    > as quickly as possible?
    > You can’t.

    Yes I can. Not the “trying to spread the virus” bit but the “your kind” bit. Were I to blame all the Muslims for the terrorist acts of a few of them, you’d be the first to scream Islamophobia from the rooftops.

  40. Only someone who has a dualistic, Black/White world view, could not understand how differing “only in degree” matters greatly.

    And Democratic Socialism is certainly not the same as Fascism or Communism.
    But you wouldn’t ever admit that—because you see the world in such simplistic terms.

  41. Name one black person who got away with killing millions of white people?

    King Leopold II of Belgium killed 15 Million black people in the Congo. Apartheid and Jim Crow killed hundreds of thousands

    Let’s not forget the Taiping Rebellion, killing 40 Million Chinese people in ten years! Not even the Japanese, Mongolians and Communists combined have that big of a body count in a short time!

  42. Only someone who belongs to the high-status group of White Men could say such a thing with a straight face.
    What do you know of the struggles of oppressed peoples, really?

    You were born on third base.

  43. > Only someone who has a dualistic, Black/White world view

    You, then. Or did you already forget you were a proponent of the “Good Leftist Freedom-Lovers vs Evil Rightist Fascists” narrative? Can’t get more Manichean than that, bucko.

    > And Democratic Socialism is certainly not the same as Fascism or
    > Communism.

    The former is the gateway drug to the other.

    > But you wouldn’t ever admit that—because you see the world in such
    > simplistic terms.

    Simplistic shmimplistic. What matters is not whether a worldview is simple or complex but whether it’s true or false. Appeals to simplicity or complexity are the ivory tower fantasy exercises of the academic world.

  44. > Only someone who belongs to the high-status group of White Men could
    > say such a thing with a straight face.

    Add anti-white racism to your list of left-wing vices. A vice which you will, of course, deny exists. “You can’t be racist against whites! Because whites are the ones with POWAH!” I already know all the memes by heart, so spared you writing it. You’re welcome, no need to thank me.

  45. You vote for the same politicians, espouse the same ideology, support the same causes, and spew the same propaganda.

    Enough said.

  46. “OK Boomer!” – It’s the new “La la la la la, I can’t hear you!”

  47. Is there anything more disgusting, than White boys whining about how victimized they are?

  48. > You vote for the same politicians, espouse the same ideology, support
    > the same causes, and spew the same propaganda.

    By that exact selfsame token…

    Yet for some reason you bristle about being called a Marxofascist. Go figure why the logic works in one case and not in the other.

  49. > Is there anything more disgusting, than White boys whining about how
    > victimized they are?

    Yes. Leftists whining about Institutional White Racism™ after the US of A has had eight years of a black man at the top.

  50. Because one Black Man on Top (interesting choice of words) means that all oppressed peoples are now experiencing equality—sure it does…

    You sound like a White boy who is terrified that those hunky Black men are gonna git all the blonde women and dilute your precious white tribal genes…

  51. Your foundational beliefs are quaint and uneducated.

    Like “Marxofascist”.

    What nutter invented that oxymoron, anyway?
    One of those Fascists you like to read?

    I suggest Political Science 110, at your local community college.

  52. > Your foundational beliefs are quaint and uneducated.

    Yes, I know you don’t like them. Deal with it.

  53. > Because one Black Man on Top (interesting choice of words) means that
    > all oppressed peoples are now experiencing equality

    It means institutional white racism in the USA is history, not current events. But you can’t have that, because that would leave you Marxists without a disease for which your political ideology can be touted as the cure.

  54. > What an intelligent and educated response.

    I can only answer as intelligently as the one I’m conversing with.

  55. You don’t think institutionalized oppression of people is part of current USA politics?

    That says it all, White boy.
    And I say that as a White Woman.

  56. > You don’t think institutionalized oppression of people is part of current USA politics?

    It was in the past. It is so no longer.

    > That says it all, White boy.

    Yep. It says exactly who’s up on current events (not you), and who on the other hand is stuck in believing everything is the same as it was 80 years ago (not me). And the biggest irony of it all? You actually call yourselves Progressives!

  57. > And I say that as a White Woman.

    No, you say that as a leftist. Leftists imagine “white-cis-male-Christian-capitalist” (did I forget anything?) oppression everywhere.

  58. If all you mean is that you are not part of an organized sect of some sort then I’m perfectly happy to amend my statement to read, “…your apparent conviction that bigotry is actually wrong is a “deeply held religious or metaphysical belief” instead. The point remains that “wrong” is a moral statement, about how things ought to be, something you cannot and will not find in the observable facts of this or any other case. Similarly, in a comment to another poster you say that bombing a hospital “is as low as your kind can go.” Your use of “low” here puts it at the bottom of a posited scale of moral value, does it not?

    All I’m insisting is that the tools of empirical science reveal no such scale. That does not mean that such a scale isn’t there, with heroism at one end and criminality at the other. But it does mean that materialism, as a philosophy, does not adequately account for human experience

  59. It only feels like “Christianophobia, or “Christian Persecution” to an organization accustomed to getting its entire way for many centuries.

    For example, the only reason Christians are no longer burning scientists, women, heretics, and other undesirables at the stake, or lynching them, is because regular folks sorted out that burning people to death is wrong.

    Christians screamed foul when slavery was abolished, and equal rights advanced for non whites and non males, and for good reason: God’s good with human chattel, it’s in the Bible, black and white.

    Call me when Christians haven’t infested our highest levels of secular government with the stated aim of turning the clock back to theocracy.

  60. When you say that “burning people to death” is “wrong,” what is it that you mean by “wrong?”

    Do you mean that there is a real, objective, overarching standard of morality that we must all conform to, whether we especially feel like it or not, or are you merely expressing a personal preference, as you might like pizza more than rutabagas?

  61. Not liked — is not the same as hostility. And 30% not liked… is not very high anyway.

    This post drips with paranoia.

  62. I’m curious about your concept of “true virtue.” What is your yardstick for measuring what is, and is not true virtue? I find no fault with your caring for your “kin,” your own family, however far you want to extend that, but if by “blood” you mean race, and by “race” something other than the human race, well that is certainly a view, that if you are black, you owe something special to other blacks, if white, something to other whites and so on. But is it a true view, an accurate picture of our situation, of the human condition?

    It seems you are claiming that it is. So (especially since you reject the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, at least as far as you understand these) I want to grasp your view of truth itself. How do you decide or determine what is true or what is false?

  63. I see someone else who has not even bothered to look up the concept I am using. Seriously folks if you ever want me to take you seriously try to know what you are talking about. An answer like this would get no better than a D in any decent black studies or sociology of race course.

  64. So you think I am white. Wow. Did not even bother to look me up did you. You can imagine how little respect I have for any further comments you have.

  65. Yes, and also yes.

    Did you know that outside of divinity degrees, liberal arts degrees were long considered the “default” education, in order to turn out a complete, broadened and rational person?

    So good on ya.

  66. Thanks!

    I get the Patheos email-push notifications.

    Lot of “progressive Christians,” other former evangelicals camped out there. Not always a lot of deep, well-informed thinking, Patheos it seems will give a platform to just anyone, although Dr. Yancey here is a welcome exception

  67. Eh?

    What does our shared belief in the great desirability of a well-rounded education and populace have to do with the question of whether your aversion to incinerating people alive is based upon facts or feelings?

    We could talk about Sati or suttee, that in India, in their society, with their moral understanding, their social contract, they burned widows alive, and the British society, informed by other ideas, forcibly ended this practice.

    But such a dispute is on the level of pistachio vs. butter pecan in a world without an objective standard. Do you indeed believe in such a standard?

  68. Is, in your view, the concept, “inserted into our public policy” of invisible human rights a “lunatic mythical belief?”

  69. Do you look up everyone who comments on a thread?
    I don’t.
    But perhaps you are OCD.

    And frankly, I couldn’t care less about your “respect”.
    You certainly sound “straight white male” when you make remarks like that.
    You wouldn’t be one of those “Clarence Thomas” African Americans, are ya?

  70. Thinking that institutionalized oppression is no longer present, is a cruel joke.
    One that oppressed people don’t think very funny.

  71. I am using humanist ethics, not “morality” or “materialism” as my guide.

    Go ahead and play the pretzel logic and semantics game.
    We all know what this is about, Fundy.

  72. “Is it right to burn people” is only a question if you think that listening to what ordinary people say and think is absolute evil.

    But Christianity has been soaking in authoritarianism for so many centuries, it doesn’t know how to stop.

  73. I believe you absolutely would burn children alive if you were sure that your book told you so.

    If your book tells you so, who are you to dare to have an opinion otherwise?

  74. So you are arguing that, say, the Pigford case doesn’t cover behavior from the 1980’s onward?

  75. I actually don’t think it is. For all practical purposes, it doesn’t really matter whether objective morality exists or not, since even Christians themselves can’t agree on one common moral framework. If we choose “well-being” as the guiding principle to determine what is moral, we can use “tools of empirical science” to make this call.

  76. Certainly there are a multiplicity of subjective options within Christianity all of which deviate to some degree or another from Calvinism to Arminianism from the Objective Truth, from Orthodoxy with responsible exegesis to universalism with IMHO irrational eisegesis with the golden mean of the moderate realism of the Scholastics providing the optimum way to reason responsibly.

    To your point ” well-being” on the side of the grave is an admirable objective as long as it does not compromise your “well being” on the other side of the grave which metaphysically is outside the bounds of “empirical science. From your world view, your “I do not think it is” is certainly subjective, your personal opinion based upon your best understanding of “empirical science” while I am free to believe that empirical science is simply a gift of God to better appreciate the Created Order.

    So from your perspective, we have a difference in opinion based upon relativism the neither right neither wrong, just different, only subjective good, better, best if not simply out of luck or fortune. From our perspective we value the well being of your soul more than the well being of your body, not that we care any less for your body than your soul, hence we (again IMHO) revert to the moderate realism of the Scholastic to make the best choices. We can agree that choices matter, while based upon empirical science is limited to the temporal prior to the grave while we believe that choices matter both temporally and eternally.

  77. In fact I don’t “think that listening to what ordinary people say and think is absolute evil”. I don’t even see the connection between what you wrote and the question I asked. And the question I asked was not “is it right to burn people?” But rather can be phrased, “if you believe it is wrong to burn people, what do you mean by ‘wrong,’” that is, what exactly is your theory of morality?

    But if you don’t like that question, since you conveniently say Christianity has been soaking in authoritarianism, I can ask a different one: what in your view, on the basis of your own philosophy, is wrong with authoritarianism? And what does “wrong” mean?

  78. Then please let us discuss not Fundy ethics (should I get a blog and call it the Bay of Fundy?) but rather your own humanistic ethics. You think this system holds water, accounts for the things we need to account for. I have the gravest doubts. So let’s talk about humanist ethics. Do you know the Sam Harris book, The Moral Landscape?

    Harris tries, but I think fails, to provide an alternate, wholly secular account of morality.

    Harris begins by offering up two examples of contemporary humanity: one is a successful professional, with friends, family and travel. The other, as I recall, is being chased for her life through some hot oppressive jungle. Laying out the foundations of his system, Sam wants us merely to agree and accept that of the two, it’s better to be the person in the first situation, which no serious theist is going to question, all things being equal.

    Got it.

    It seems, though, that he is using “better” to mean not morally better, but simply materially and socially “better off”.

    To nail down “better” better, another scenario could be outlined, accepting the same examples Harris offers: what if we, for reasons of our own, deliberately drop off person A in a Boko Haram or ISIS encampment, thus instantly giving them the life and lifestyle of person B?

    Would that be a wrong thing to do ?

    Certainly this would be wrong for them, in the sense that this is no doubt in their view an inappropriate and unfulfilling lifestyle choice they would never make for themselves.

    But acknowledging that much gets us no further towards answering the larger question looming out there, which could in this context be framed, “Is it wrong to impose inappropriate and unfulfilling lifestyle choices upon others?”

    To which I offer, what can “wrong” possibly mean in a universe that is a morally silent, blind swirl of meaningless particles?

  79. Yes, but without any overarching meaning to the universe, then choosing “well-being” (even if we could define that) as a guiding principle is automatically an arbitrary choice. You could, blindfolded, just as easily throw the dart at other goals on the board, such as Deutschland Uber Alles or From Each According to His Abilities, To Each According to His Needs

  80. Thanks for your response. And yes, 100% subjective and I agree with most of what you say. As you point out, I’m more concerned (actually my only concern) is “this side of the grave”. So from a purely utilitarian perspective, wouldn’t you agree that well-being is the better option? Isn’t the interpretation of scripture (thus the multitude moral codes within Christianity) as you point out, at the end also “only” subjective and “objective morality” more a philosophical construct, which might exist, but we can’t “access”? I have some concerns with the term relativism when applied to non believers, as it might suggest the absence of a moral code or the lack of a foundation for moral claims. Believers run into the same issue I think, based upon what I wrote earlier.

  81. Yep wrong… objectively, subjective, simply wrong. In contrast to you, I don’t need a god to tell me that 😉

  82. PoC are not operating under the biases that their skin color signals themselves as the model or superior people that racism necessarily entails. Stereotypes can be passed on by anybody, but racism is the tool of the people in power. It is a mind poison they drink of willingly.

  83. From the Christian perspective, the issue is not giving due weight to the total body of God’s Work, the Mind of the Maker (Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, St Thomas God of Scripture), From the Scholastic’s perspective (read orthodox) we have Natural Law, Revealed Law and Metaphysical Laws melded into the moderate realism, embodied by the Golden Mean.

    Our friend, Duns Scotus introduced speculative theology (extrapolating from St Thomas’s reasoning) outside the confidence limits of good exegesis to the point of advocating eisegesis which was then rejected on specifics and popularized by Luther’s Solo Scripture that rejected both more Scotus’s speculative theology, then threw the baby out with the bathwater rejecting Thomas’s moderate realism and the universals of Metaphysical Laws.

    Without the foundation of reason specifically the principals of logic, the Reformation introduced and sustained increasing hyper-plurality hence we have an entire spectrum within Christiandom that conform to the world gone wrong since the Fall of Adam. Within that spectrum, we have subjective relativism that reject one or more or favor some combination of verses in service to their subjective beliefs hence you are right that the believers outside of moderate realism have the same issues as the secular relativist. From the orthodox we have one moral code and a wide spectrum of departures from that moral code.

    As to the “well being” Christians are called to be reasonably happy (moderate well being) in this life in anticipation and supremely joyful with Him forever in the next. As Christians we are called to endure the pain and suffering of a fallen world in faith, hope and trust whereas to present a stark contrast, pain and suffering are to be avoided at all costs from the secularist utilitarian, world view.

    As for the term relativist applied to non-believers (secularists), the social contract to which some percentage of the population agree on a moral code is embedded within a social contract for which each social contract (populist consent) may, will & shall differ among the different societies reflected in the laws of that society to encourage one behavior and discourage another behavior which we know are fluid in the progressive mind. Concurrently, Communist China would have a very different social contract that USA, than Nigeria, than Switzerland which according to relativism differ subjectively other than they would disagree on the terms and conditions,.

    Pardon me for belaboring these points to address the issues you shared…

  84. Without getting into specifics of theology, but staying with our basic theoretical, philosophical concern, it is only meaningful to speak of something being wrong if there is a right to compare it to. Something can only be said to be warped if there is a correct shape, and ‘unjust’ only if there is such a thing as a real Justice.

  85. The existence of God means, among many other things, that we are not in a universe that is a morally silent, blind swirl of meaningless particles.

    There might be meaning and purpose to life, history might be going somewhere. There might be such a thing as human rights, right ways to treat people, to act in the world.

    And hey, there might be an objective, intellectually solid basis upon which you might legitimately criticize erring Theists, instead of your disputes with them being a matter of your opinion versus theirs!

  86. Who says I think the universe is a blind swirl of meaningless particles?
    I don’t.
    Did I ever say I am a materialist?
    I guess you took my invitation to play the pretzel logic game, as implying I want to play it with you.
    I don’t.
    You can take your isms and schisms and and rhetorical imaginings and go split hairs with someone else.
    Meanwhile, I will sing and dance with the Beloved!

  87. Well, a lot to digest. Thank you. I’ll have to do some reading, especially on why the position of moderate realism should be exempt.

  88. I’m not sure whether I understand to what degree an “overarching meaning” is the precondition for a moral code. And what is the overarching meaning in your opinion? (is it… 42…? sorry, don’t want to sound condescending, but couldn’t help it… it’s is silly, I know, as silly as your dartboard analogy). Would Jewish or Islamic scholars agree with your assessment?

  89. Thank you for considering an alternate world view no different that I consider alternate world views that challenges me. Perhaps your greatest hurdle to clear to the moderate realism of Scholastics (St Thomas) contends the fullest compatibility of reason and faith and objective Truth (rejecting relativism as objectively false).

    IMHO, Edward Feser’s “Last Superstition” offers the best current apologetics of the moderate realism of the Scholastics though it was certainly a challenging read (several times) to gain a better, more comprehensive appreciation. (There were times, I certainly emphasized with Luther’s decision to chuck the whole thing.) Thomas Marshall “Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages” is insightful but not comprehensive. Then there are any number of books by John Lennox that deal with the compatibility of science and faith. Ravi Zachrias offers “Why I am not a Christian” which I wish I had read in high school.

  90. How would we compare God to something to determine that they are not wrong?

  91. Watching some of the most hateful people on the planet cry and scream that people don’t like them, is simply ripe.

  92. Jesus also said not to pray loudly outside and to turn the other cheek. I don’t see a lot of Conservative Christians following those words. They are often the first to call for war and the loudest when praying

  93. Ah. I am the author to the blog not some random commenter. If you are going to toss around identity pollical insults you have some responsibly to see if the author of the blog is white when it is so easily know. And now you compound your laziness by not even googling me for five seconds. If you had you would have seen that I am a race scholar and not Clarence Thomas. Try to do better. Simplistic thinking gets us nowhere. Bye Felicia.

  94. I did read about you on the patheos page—not one word about what race you are.

    And truly, being a “race scholar” doesn’t mean you are an expert on anything except your own opinion. I am sure there are “biblical” race scholars who graduated from bible colleges, for example.

  95. Get over yourself, and stop trying to tell me I have no right to choose my own labels.

    Whomever does the labeling, has the power.
    You dear, don’t get to take away my power.

    I again, say that as a White Woman.

  96. What makes you think that nobody here but widdle ole’ you, knows what “internalized racism” means?

  97. “From our perspective, we value the well being of your soul more than the well being of your body…”

    Who appointed you keeper of my soul?
    Kindly stop, and tend to your own soul.
    What happens after I die, is none of your concern.

    Simply an excuse to get all up in our business and try to legislate your church lady morality upon our secular nation.

    Really, how dare you!

  98. Really boring, and all you just said is that Christians think they have the right to foist their morality upon the rest of us, because they are the “Moral Majority”.

    But they don’t.
    And I would watch that analysis, because Christianity isn’t becoming more popular as time goes on, in the USA…

  99. Sorry, but until conservative Christians get together and tell Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jr, Joel Osteen, and the other Fundy hate-mongers and hucktsters to to SHUT UP, all decent people, Christian or not, will condemn you.
    As long as you continue to support that half-witted criminal windbag in the White House, intelligent people will question your intelligence and your love for God’s children.
    As long as you call yourselves ‘pro-life,” but oppose government policies that SAVE LIVES–universal health care, paid sick leave–people of good will will continue to call you out as the hypocrites you are.
    You want it both ways. Sorry, you don’t rule society anymore, and the rest of us are Just. Plain. Done.

  100. If you are an American, you benefit from Socialism, ironically, those who benefit the most are those in the Bible Belt who pay the least in taxes but get more back from the USgov. Red States (Republicans, Conservative Christians Trump) are welfare queens!

  101. Amen!

    And threatening us with eternal hellfire, demons run amok, a second civil war, moral decay necessitating a Theocratic monarchy or forcibly “putting females back into their (God Given) “place”—is not the way to make friends in the new millennium.

  102. Perhaps you would also like to debate how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?

  103. We do so in accordance with the Great Commission to share the Word. I am not the keeper of your soul as that is well outside the bounds of the Great Commission. To be certain, on the other side of the grave all too few will be called to eternity with God, the balance, all too many will spend eternity without God. The best we can do in light of your emotional outburst is share the Way and most important contest the secular/atheistic world view that leads all too many to an eternity without God.

  104. See, this is why Fundigelicals are so irritating and dangerous to our Secular Nation.

    Your holier-than-thou assumption that only your brand of theology or view of universal origins is the “correct one”—while the rest of us will “spend eternity without God”.
    As if you really know what “God” is, as opposed to a Buddhist, Sufi, Taoist, Naturalist etc…

    If you are not the keeper of other people’s souls, then why are you contesting the secular world view?
    And why are you trying to legislate your cherished belief-isms onto the rest of us?

    Your “Great Commission to share the Word”, really means your insistence that we all live the way you tell us—or else!

  105. No problem have it your way that is your willful choice….thanks for having intruded on a reasonable dialogue to spew your venomous spittle. As for us, participating in the political domain that constitent with our intrinsic rights guaranteed by the US Constitution which you would deny us in a heartbeat no different than your would legislate your cherished belief-ism on the rest of us. We are called to share the Work not coerce you into faith that is your personal decision as such is the cultural divide. Good luck with your willful choices, the blind pitiless luck of atheism.

  106. I don’t hate Christians because of what they believe. I hate them because they use those beliefs to make my life harder than it would otherwise be.

    I hate them because they’re willfully ignorant, and they’re still supporting Donald Trump.

  107. The thing is, if you tolerate hatred then a tolerant society is impossible.

    Nothing’s more hateful than a person who’s sure they know what Gawd wants.

  108. Your god told you to love your enemy.

    Here you are, saying that he was wrong to say that.

  109. I get a chuckle every time a tRump cultist calls people on the left side of the political aisle “commies” while Dear Leader is in bed with two communist dictators. They h8 moose-lambs but turn a blind eye to Dear Leader’s cozy relationship with the brutal dictator in Saudi.

  110. I said nothing that could be interpreted as “venomous spittle”—unless you are just looking for a reason to be insulted.

    Which you are.

    Again, I certainly never said I am atheist; I am nothing of the sort.
    I just don’t get off on blind faith and beliefism.
    Neither do I consider the Christianity or Islam—with the exception of Sufism—to be a viable path to Divinity; your religious tradition has degraded to the point of being willfully destructive.

    Fundigelicalism, regardless of the religion it erupts from, is a primitive and amateurish response to fear and disgust generated by your overactive amygdala and thinly disguised dances of dominance and submission.

    Finally, progressives are not denying you any “intrinsic rights”.
    We are trying to stop you from trampling on the rights of other individuals.
    Per usual, y’all try to frame-flip the argument, because y’all use propaganda techniques shamelessly.

  111. Such is the cultural divide…our Gof of Scripture, out Lord Jesus Christ knows the sincerity of your heart, your intent, your means, your purpose and shall judge your according. All I have to work are the words you share as you interjected yourself into the conversation unreasonably and irrational with your choice of words and responses, an attack dog of your world view seeking the ruin of souls. Of course, we, that aspire to the faithful Remnant shall flip your arguments to reveal the evil and share the Good consistent with the Temptations of the Wilderness, where Jesus admonished Satan 3-trims begging with the words, “it is also written….” thus “flipping the argument”.

    Let’s us take a moment to step back a moment responded to the question posed below for which our individual response divides the world between the sheep and the goats.

    Who do you say that Jesus Christ is?

  112. You are projecting. Christians loathe freedom, education, security… things that make Christianity irrelevant.

  113. Objectively, good and evil are mutually exclusive.

    Subjective good is progressively abused to mean whatever, whenever, however in one best self interest at the expense of others self-interests that subjectively is so fluid in though, word and deed. The issue is then of course when the greater objective good necessitates overthrowing the self-serving evils who call their evil, good and the objective good, evil in their best self-interests.

  114. So, you’re not seeing the Christians that are praying quietly indoors. Are you expecting to? Why are you surprised that the ones that pray loudly are the ones you see?

  115. I support constitutional rights, freedom, education, and security you ungrateful halfwit!

  116. Burning people alive is objectively evil, even if Jesus Christ were to deem that they are deserving. Start your word salad shakers!

  117. I have recently observed (via telephone & emails) a developing new bitterness towards white evangelicals/ white Baptists and their unwavering support for Donald Trump.

    This bitterness is greatly intensified by Trump’s abysmal mishandling & his ego >> American lives with the developing Covid-19 epidemic.

    Since Donald Trump is not close at hand, his fervent supporters seem likely to be the recipients of public anger, fear & disgust as the toll mounts.

    Blaming the “Other” during plagues is nothing new (Jews during the Black Death for example) but this present case has some justification.

  118. You really mean “what” do you think Jesus is—correct?

    I don’t really CARE what Jesus is—whether prophet, avatar (look it up, oh provincial one), mythological character, really smart guy…
    It is all irrelevant to me.

    I do like and respect most of what Jesus is purported to have said, though I doubt that it was reported accurately or with any real understanding of context and subtle meanings.

    I also like many of the various other prophets, mystics, poets and avatars (have you looked that up yet?) from around the planet.
    But I certainly don’t hang my spiritual growth on any of them in particular.

    I accept my inspiration where I find it at that moment—I don’t care if it Satan herself—if the words or actions help me to evolve spiritually, I am grateful.

    Mostly, I rely on the spark of Divinity residing in myself, which connects and unites me with eternity, and where I can dissolve my sense of proscribed “self”—becoming as Rumi said:

    “…a drunken gnat floating on top the wine glass of the Beloved”

    Finally, there was nothing irrational or unreasonable in what I said.
    Neither am I seeking the “ruin of souls”.
    For Goddess sakes, stop with the paranoia and hysteria.

    A new perspective doesn’t take anything away from you—it only expands your mental vistas.
    You don’t stand to lose anything; all you will do by opening up and seriously considering other POV, is gain more understanding.

    Now, I have done the Fundy dance for years, and heard it from others ad nauseam.
    But you have obviously never done more than a cursory glance at any other way to evolve spiritually—instead, you rely on cultish, slavish adoration and belief, combined with the quaint and oppressive notion that someone else must “save” you.

    That is a hand-down from days of monarchical regimes which used religion to prop up their authority. You are imitating a dance of slavish submission, instead of gaining any real insight or personal mastery over your mind—and your poor heart is starving for some REAL connection with the Sacred.

  119. Trump supporters are busy blaming China, New Yorkers, immigrants, the deep state media, public health servants, bats (who eat many trillion mosquitoes world-wide), Democrats, Commies and Socialists…

    The list of scape-goats that Righty is using, expands daily.
    Anything to deflect from the fact that Right wing and Fundamentalist politics have set the USA behind on this pandemic by MONTHS.

  120. Who as in the person of Jesus Christ….to be certain we are at odds, unresolvable, diametrically opposed that will not be mitigated between your ilk and the orthodox Christian world view as long as we live though on the other side of the grave God will grant use our most sincere hearts desire to spend eternity with Him or without Him. Choices matter so the best we can do is wish you good luck in your choices.

  121. Fine.

    Close your minds and shut the door to higher consciousness.
    Refuse to look at another POV or explore a larger paradigm—do you realize that is a hallmark sign of mental illness?

    Slavishly rely on a Christ to grant you salvation, while you grovel—if that’s the best ya got.

    Just don’t expect the rest of us to let you take over our Secular Nation, and turn it into a Fundigelical Theocracy.
    It is becoming apparent to most, how much damage your ilk is causing from your rigid minds and dog-eat-dog mentality—I suggest Pakistan might be a good place for you to immigrate—plenty of heathen demons for you to fight, and they have the same backwards POV as you do.

    PS—Did you ever bother to look up what an avatar is—or is that just irrelevant, since that word isn’t in the bibble?

  122. Just shaking the dust off my sandals given you are beyond redemption by your choice.

  123. Your understanding of rights is more progressively aligned with Karl Max whereas I adhere to original intent of Jeffersonian Constitutional rights. Certainly there is nothing from you for which I am grateful though I do pity you. I am looking forward to the re-establishment of the New Republic when traditional Constitutional Rights shall be restored….

  124. He just loves to act ferocious.
    But I bet his bark is worse than his bite.
    A good punch in the mouth, and he will be running with his tail between his legs.

  125. Perhaps his smugness and condescension make him feel better about himself because…reasons…but it reveals things about him and his “faith.” I don’t wonder at why church pews are emptying in the United States.

  126. So after all the irrational tirades, mockery and mockery alone is all that you have left to offer within is really nothing. But then nothing is all you really have ever had to offer before, now and ever. Slither off to you den.

  127. To conclude that burning children alive is wrong requires an antecedent conclusion or belief that some things can be wrong, that morality exists.

    If morality exists (as distinct from culture-dependent social mores, customs, taboos, etc) that implies certain things about the universe, indicating a certain lack of explanatory power in atheism

  128. Hey man, I’m trying to answer, but some of my comments are getting stuck in ‘Pending’ purgatory. If this appears, you can see some by clicking on my name, going to my profile

  129. That “objective“ morality exists seems to suggest the universe has a certain character, something we might not conclude based upon atheist/naturalist/materialist assumptions

  130. If we posit an absolutely righteous God, then “wrong” is something that goes against God’s perfect character. We might also find ourselves with reason to believe in formal and final causes, such that things have a purpose or purposes, so “wrong” could equally describe wilfully acting to frustrate those purposes

  131. You could indeed create a “moral code,” an arbitrary list of do’s and don’t’s without respect to an overreaching cosmic meaning. Human societies do it all the time, check out the Wikipedia entry on Sundown Towns. But for a “moral code” to actually be moral, for one to genuinely reflect and embody morality, morality would first have to exist, would it not?

    And yes, I think conservative Jewish and Islamic scholars, anyone in fact who accepts Natural Law would indeed agree.

  132. If by “Secular Nation” all you mean that we chose not to have a tax-supported official State Church, of course I grant that.


    But most “secularists“ today go beyond that to openly reject our nation’s founding ideal to “secure these rights,” the “unalienable” ones endowed by the Creator

  133. I’m curious what is your standard or measure, by which you are able to distinguish a “REAL connection with the Sacred” from a false one…

  134. Constitutional Rights to Life, Liberty and Property, along with freedom of conscience, speech/expression, are rights targeted all the time by our friends on the organized ideological/political “progressive” Left

  135. If by “pretzel logic” you mean logic,, then yes, I was prepared to use reason to arrive at a correct conclusion. I’m glad you are not a materialist/naturalist/atheist, but if that is so, why carry so much water for the secular world view? If you indeed mean by “humanist ethics” something other than what is meant by the American Humanist Association, outlined in the Humanist Manifesto I, II, and III, you may want to call yours something else

  136. Yeah,

    I thought that “shaking the dust off my sandals” phrase was rather telling, in a narcissistic fashion.

    He really does envision himself as an apostle on the dusty road…

    Whatever makes your willy salute, I guess…

  137. Another example of a haughty and arrogant believer with Dunning-Kruger. If he actually abides by Matthew 10:14, he is one of the few.

  138. True, a God knowable by humans through special revelation, through prophets, Scripture etc would not have to exist in order to establish that an objective morality exists or is possible. But atheism seems an insufficient philosophical base upon which to declare that one society’s moral standards are “better” than another’s.

    For that wouldn’t you need to appeal to some higher or highest standard, one not dependent on time or culture?

  139. Of course people vote for and against political candidates, parties based upon the criteria they employ.

    For reasonable, thinking people, those criteria are not aesthetic or emotional, but are derived from their worldview, their understanding, correct or incorrect, about what sort of universe they dwell in, about the relative importance of various issues, often weighing competing goods, in relation to that worldview.

    If you believe that the Theist worldview is deficient, incorrect about abortion for instance, we can have that conversation, a discussion about first principles, instead of a politically partisan wrangle over personalities

  140. If you would ever bother to investigate other ways of perceiving reality, you would not have to ask why I support the secular world view—especially in politics!

    If you tried becoming more flexible in both body and mind, you would understand why I like many POV from many different sources, and certainly don’t wish to smother them in a spasm of beliefism.

    I thought the term “well being” was a good way to convey a sane sense of ethics while giving others the freedom they wish for themselves.

    I understand you like to splice and dice existential reality with language, and think you have found something “real”.
    I have found reality in the direct experience of Divinity and I have put away those childish arguments in favor of aligning myself to the vibration of higher consciousness.

    Once I did that, my spirituality became poetic and I began to put my busy mind to rest, and let my heart choose its own path.

  141. Would you say then that a tolerant society is good?

    What do you mean by “good?”

    Is a tolerant society

    a) one you merely happen to like,

    or is it
    one that is objectively better, thus corresponding more closely to the moral structure of the universe?

    If your answer is a, are you not merely sharing your feelings on the matter?

    If you go with b, mightn’t you be among those of us convinced that the Divine will backs human rights?

  142. If by “the secular worldview” you mean that of humanist Richard Dawkins, that

    “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    then I think you will find no basis, no support therein for human rights or human dignity

  143. See,

    You view the world like your own little corner, where dogma and doctrine rein supreme, and everyone has to think alike—or else!
    I don’t.
    I used the word “humanist” because I practice situational ethics, and because I don’t think you need a big sky daddy to have a sense of fair play, compassion and thoughtful ruminations about one’s impact on others. In fact, I think the notions embodied in Abrahamic King of Kings mentality endangers clear thinking and empathy.

    I understand agnostics/atheists and was agnostic myself for some years, until I stumbled into experiences of overwhelming grace, unified intelligence and higher vibrational planes of existence.
    I found all sorts of descriptions parallel to what I was experiencing, in most other religious traditions, and people who were of like-mind, encouraging spiritual independence and direct experience.

    There are whole other worlds of spirituality out there, that have nothing at all to do with beliefs, dogma or commandments.
    Just like many humanists, they realize that our primitive brain is always going to be looking out for #1; however, once the primitive brain understands that we all benefit when everyone is taken care of, it comes around and supports the well-being of everyone, including our super-organism, the planet.

    Sorry if that just isn’t rigid enough for you.
    But it becomes readily apparent when one begins to have repeated, direct experiences of how everything is connected and held together by a universe shot thru with love.

  144. I wish every good in your travels, and I’m not trying to “win” anything here. But if I genuinely care about you, I wouldn’t want you trapped in debilitating mental patterns of error. And you might not be in such, we are simply exploring the terrain, seeing if our respective sums add up.

    All right?

    So ~ when you say you don’t believe everyone has to think alike, that you’re not “rigid,” yet when you write,

    stop trying to shove your stinking Fascist laws down our throats, and everything would be fine.

    I become curious, trying to understand your overall backdrop to your world view, your ideas behind your ideas, if you will.

    You say you’re not about beliefs or “beliefism”, yet when you write that

    everything is connected and held together by a universe shot thru with love.

    that sounds like a belief to me.

    Similarly when you write of finding “higher vibrational planes of existence,” this implies the existence of lower vibrational planes of existence, indeed a whole hierarchical scale of vibrational planes of existence, ranging from higher to lower. That’s not a belief?

    You write that “a big sky daddy” is not needed to “have a sense of fair play, compassion and thoughtful ruminations about one’s impact on others.”

    Don’t we, though, need to have an anthropology, an understanding of human nature, of human beings that says that my neighbor has cosmic “weight,” is someone worthy of concern? And I don’t think you’re going to find that, ironically enough, in “humanistic ethics” as promoted by “humanists” who are indeed atheists, even if you are not…

  145. Really? Nearly everyone not of your particular brand of Christianity calls your religion particularly hateful. Instead of blanket denials, one would think you would at least address the problem with honesty. Let’s look at two simple examples from many.

    Tell us about your love for migrants, both legal and illegal. Tell us how you have kept your God’s commandments with respect to them.

    Please tell us about your love for LGB T people. While disapproving of their lives is not hateful, perhaps you can account for the near endless list of attempts to use the power of the State to harm and persecute them. I count 80 pieces of state and federal legislation over the past three years.

  146. Really? Many see your brand of Christianity to be a particularly hateful rejection of Christ. Blanket denials that there are no grounds for this really don’t work anymore in the face of your endless hate streaming into our living rooms on Fox News. Or, maybe you are one of those apostates who claims to read the Bible, and yet believes mistreating other human beings is what Christ commanded you to do? I bump into this all the time, even though Christ specifically said you would burn for it. In any case, let’s look at two simple examples from a pool of many.

    I’m sure you hate no one. And so tell us about your love for migrants, both legal and illegal. Tell us how you have kept your God’s commandments with respect to them. Tell us how you have honestly dealt with America’s immigration difficulties without destroying their families. And if you don’t think you’ve been destroying their families, let’s deport your spouse and see how your children fare.

    Please tell us about your love for LGB T people. While disapproving of what they do is not hateful, perhaps you can account for the near endless list of attempts to use the power of the State to harm and persecute them. I count 80 pieces of state and federal legislation over the past three years. This is in contrast to the zero pieces of anti-christian legislation I can find to bolster your constant screaming that living in a pluralistic society is actually your persecution.

    Perhaps you can tell us why you have endlessly called LGB T people to be the downfall of Western Civilization, all whilest supporting a President who calls for and uses foreign interference in our elections to obtain power, and who champions adultery.

    Actually come to think of it, just troll me instead of actually engaging, like most of you seem to do. I’m rather enjoying spending my time watching your youth flee your apostate churches in droves. They know disobedience to God when they see it.

  147. You keep thinking that the Sacred is about the mind; it is not.
    It is all about the heart.

    The study of how the mind works is useful, because it shows one how the mind interferes with seeing and experiencing a phenomenon directly. In order to have what you might call a “mystical “experience, it’s helpful to have a nervous system that is free of too much static.

    Learning how to tame the worry centers of the brain for instance, frees one from many obsessive thoughts and allows one to focus more deeply.

    In the West, we are taught to use the mind to compartmentalize and dissect.

    We also are pretty great at abstractions, to the point that we can have many earnest arguments over thoughts about thoughts about thoughts…

    When you say my statement that “the universe is shot thru with love” sounds like a “belief”, that is because your mind is contemplating the possibility.
    I experienced it directly; brought to my knees in wonder; you just have to “be there”.
    These experiences are totally valid and undeniable—kinda like seeing a new primary color unknown to humans before, except the experience is all encompassing emotionally, physically and mentally.

    The caution is that as the experience wanes, your mind will take over and try to explain it in term of your old paradigms; it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole—just doesn’t work.

    Much better to hold that insight softly in your memory, and not try to push the river.
    Paul in the New Testament is a good example of a mystical experience which morphed into a dogmatic world view—too bad.

    I use the word “higher” vibrational planes because certain states of consciousness promote wisdom, healing, nurturing and/or other qualities that I subjectively value.

    Objectively, don’t think I want to judge what I call “lower” vibrational planes, because for other entities, it may not feel that way, or there might be a value to them I don’t understand…
    Don’t take semantics so seriously; there are no words in English that work well for this; Sanskrit is better…but direct experience is where it’s at.

    Most of the Humanists I know are lovely Unitarian types, and I certainly like their ethics. I don’t think you trust humans enough, if you think they are incapable of developing and embracing a working ethics system that promotes well-being.

    My neighbors “value” is largely determined by how much she values herself; if she is determined to be self-destructive, I don’t think I have a “duty” to intervene directly with her and force change.

    Instead I would make sure she knew she had opportunities to reduce the harm she is doing to herself, and promote better ways of thinking, in order to reduce anxiety, anger etc…
    I would also try to make sure she is not suffering physically from lack of shelter, hunger and other basic needs at the bottom of Maslow’s scale.
    Her self-worth will arise of itself as she begins to understand who she really is inside—if she chooses to.

    What I would not do, is try to shove any particular belief into her, brainwash her, try to force her into a box of my making, take away her body autonomy, institutionalize her gender role, tell her that demons might lurk in her brain, control her with fears about what “God demands” of her, give her repetitive phrases to repeat endlessly until she believes it—all that stuff is indicative of Fascism, and much of Fascism is of the religious variety.

    Did I make an ethical judgement about systems that try to control people who aren’t doing harm to other individuals or higher organisms?
    Did I need a godhead to do it?
    Personally, my spiritual experiences didn’t so much change my value system, as it did help me understand how to grow deeper, simpler, quieter and warmer.
    It’s all about the heart.

    The mind makes a great servant, and a terrible master.
    And a rigid mindset about Divinity is telling Divinity what it is, instead of relaxing and letting Divinity open you up to the experience of eternity.

  148. Let’s not forget the horrors of fundigelicals sending their LGB T children to brainwashing camps, which attempt to shame them out of their natural sexu ality.

    It is appalling that we allow children to be psychologically and spiritually mangled at the altar of religious conformity.

  149. Good morning!

    You write, “Many see your brand of Christianity to be a particularly hateful rejection of Christ…”

    Is it just possible that “seeing” that is a choice, one not supported by available evidence?

    You go on to say that all sorts of things, from enforcement of immigration laws to Fox News, are motivated by, or are simply the actual embodiment of, hate.

    And maybe they are, but this is not evidence, but assertion.

    Turning the tables in “have you stopped beating your wife” fashion, in which I supposedly have to somehow prove that I am free or innocent of hate, seemingly by endorsing your particular political policy objectives in toto, well, even if this was fair, it is not the same as providing evidence

  150. I think you’ve missed the point of my very specific examples. And I do understand defensiveness. Accusation is uncomfortable. But be aware I am not accusing you personally. I am speaking primarily about the bulk core groups of Evangelical Christianity. At some point behaviour and results overwhelm intent.

    “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men
    gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

    I can understand holding to a religious and policy position that unknowingly harms people. But then as Christians we are commanded to stand back and fix it. In the two cases I have asked about, we are talking about Evangelicals doubling down over and over again to increase human ruin and suffering with a malevolence and deliberacy that has done nothing but accelerate, long after it became apparent they were ruining peoples lives and destroying any chance their targets had (in the case of LGB T people) of forming of a relationship with God. God has made clear that this is a crime against Him and is punishable with eternal separation. That it is done in the Name of Christ makes the crime aggravated and particularly severe. The Bible makes clear that His anger at such behaviour is extreme and wrathful.

    But, you respond with a deflection claiming I am asserting that Evangelicals hate. Yes, of course I am asserting this. And this is not a court of law. You simply have the opportunity to answer the specifics regarding two groups as to why the vast and continual suffering and misery Evangelicals choose impose upon them is not hateful. My question indeed implies an answer. It also creates an opportunity: will they repent? Is it actually possible for Evangelicals to repent?

    It is ok to admit fault and error. God commands us to do so, and then to repent. But with right-wing religious groups, the track record is spotty, implying it is nearly impossible. They rarely repent, but simply double down on obvious and almost satanic evil. I think this is because they have to admit they were sinful and wrong about God. Oddly enough Evangelicals are as prone to this as are Roman Catholics.

    One of the reasons Evangelicals have opted to degrade themselves and their faith through a grab of temporal power offered to them by what is effectively the anti-Christ, is because they have lost the culture. Why did they lose it? Is it some conspiracy to hate Christians?

    I don’t think so. No one is railing against Evangelicals because they worship Christ. This is not Rome of old. The majority of the nation stands righteous in pointing their finger at Evangelicals with the accusation that they have in fact betrayed our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And now Evangelicals seek to impose a religion of immorality, apostasy, and of vast evil using the power of the State. And don’t even talk about abortion. It is a mockery of Gods love for the unborn to use fetuses as political footballs against ones enemy while spending four decades passing endless legislation to increase unintended pregnancies, the primary driver of abortion. Right-wing Christians are the largest single group of abortionists in existence.

    Even atheists point and exclaim that they cannot believe someone could stray so far from the teachings of Jesus and not wake up in the morning with their head expoded from cognitive dissonance.

    God is indeed livid when even those who oppose Him voice His anger with accuracy. The axe is at the branch.

  151. In my opinion, it does not matter whether an objective moral code exit or not, since we don’t have access to it or at least can’t come to a consensus on what this code is, even among religious folks. So for all practical purposes, democratic societies have, with more or less success, tried to define this moral code. It is agreeably hard and it can go horribly wrong, but that’s the only way in my opinion.

  152. But without an objective moral code, how could “democratic societies…go horribly wrong?”

  153. Sugar,

    I am a little old grey haired lady with grandkids.
    And you are a coward who won’t even let his past comments be seen—pretty much a wuss in that department also.

    Your hatred of the LG BT community probably has a lot to do with your masculine insecurity; it’s so obvious it’s kinda embarrassing to watch.

    Might try some therapy—unless you think that would make you feel like less of a man…

  154. What’s the expression?

    “I can’t reason you out of something you didn’t reason your way into?”

    Something like that.

    I was more or less raised among Unitarians, and indeed many were mellow and kind, as you suggest.

    One possibility is that these folks are better than their philosophy, as the actual humanist ethical system, at its base, its core principles, is indistinguishable from that of Lenin, Stalin or Mao.

    And indeed the Unitarian Universalist Association is officially pro-abortion, a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

  155. Wow.

    You have written a lot, I may not be able to do your commentary justice.

    Let me at least offer my belief that many political policies are matters of prudential judgment, on which people of good will may simply disagree. You seem to believe otherwise, that there is but one way to address immigration or the demands of men to “marry” other men, or women women.

    And it may be that God is livid, but you have not made that case, you have merely brought assertions in the form of a list of charges.

    It is not deflection on my part to point out that one of your charges is that Evangelicals are hateful, that charge is what I questioned you on in the first place.

    On abortion, why would you say the organized ideological “progressive” Left, within and without the Democratic Party, cannot bring themselves to simply end legal abortion, and thus call Republicans’ bluff, if an insincere bluff is what you think it is?

  156. I’m completely in contempt with the possibility that there might not be an objective moral framework and well-being or human flourishing is a good enough starting point to make that assessment. I don’t think that pointing to a “source” or the lack thereof for objective morality adds much value for any practical purposes. What about your “basis”? How do you come to the conclusion (or at least I assume that’s what you imply – if not, my apologies) that you are in possession of the an “objective moral code”?

  157. Define God and be specific with what constitutes righteous. No matter how absolute/special you claim that righteousness to be, you can not escape that being a relative perspective. To explain what I mean another way, say I am God. How do I justify my morals to be absolutely righteous to my creation?

  158. I don’t give a fig about “Karl Max” or original intent. I have no pity for a beast.

  159. I think we are all in possession of an objective moral code. The stubborn persistence of the concept of private property, even where this idea has been persecuted, is but one piece of evidence for that. Even voluntary communes frequently fail, as if people are hardwired to believe in it.

    Anyway, let’s say for the sake of argument that what constitutes well-being, human flourishing is not contested by people around the globe, but is unambiguous, that we can define this, know exactly what it involves, what it is, Even with that stipulation, absent objective morality, we cannot even say that human flourishing is good, only that it is, is one option among many. As soon as we say, we ought to seek the welfare of the human race, that this is a worthy use of our time, we have reintroduced an objective moral scale. And I think you will find it resurfacing again and again.

    Also, your proposal seems relentlessly circular: if human flourishing is the “good” that we “should” seek, and the “good” is human flourishing is the “good…” and so on, at minimum can we agree that this is not a falsifiable theory

  160. Well, what about this: God is already defined, as a perfect Being, and not merely perfect, but the Creator.

  161. No irrational beast would care about another irrational beast as such is the law of your jungle, bloody in tooth and tail in concert with your blind, pitiless luck

  162. What is a perfect anything? You are using buzz words without really saying what you mean. All creation is the rearrangement of existing mater by other mater. God is mater, and thus has neural structures to think and limbs to manipulate mater?

  163. Your claim, that we all possess an objective moral compass unfortunately doesn’t manifest itself, so I’d dismiss it. And greed is part of the human condition..

    Why do you have such a problem with the concept of human flourishing as the basis? Because it seems to be arbitrary? I actually don’t think so. Or because you cannot ground it in some “objective moral framework”? And yes, it is ambiguous in many ways but as a start useful to judge actions with regards to whether they are moral or not – from a purely utilitarian perspective (and yes – it would allow for a “scale”). You seem to always come back to the notion that I cannot call it “objective” – and ok, I grant you this, in a sense that it is not prescribed and justified by a “higher power”, but so what?

    Your last comment does not make sense since I’ve already stated that my starting point is well-being and I’d go from there, noting circular about it.

    So what would you propose? What is THE moral standard we should adhere to? Again, I’d say you have the same problem to “choose” between the moral frameworks “handed down” by the various gods people worship…

  164. Certainly rationality is squandered on you and those of your ill that have nothing to offer but then nothing is all you have to offer.

  165. No time tonight to go into it, but the idea I’m no doubt incompetently presenting or defending is that of Natural Law. True, in our dealings with others we are prone to favor ourselves, so our moral compass is less visible when it is our own actions in view. However if someone slights us, shortchanges us, rips us off, betrays us, we are careful to note these failures in detail, even in traffic!

  166. “All creation is the rearrangement of existing matter by other matter” only if matter is eternal, has always been. The specific Judeo-Christian claim is that God is eternal, and created ex nihilo, brought everything into being out of absolutely nothing.

  167. Without going into the uh, matter of the Incarnation, God is Spirit, we are a fusion of spirit and matter

  168. You called for people to be eliminated. All we need is your own words to see what a horrible and despicable person you are. It’s not about me, it’s about you. You didn’t even apologize, you have no moral high ground.

  169. I have heard the term “Branch Covidians” to describe those churches that still have services and those whose members fail to rigorously follow social distancing.

    I wonder how far the “tar” from that brush will go towards all right wing Christians ?

  170. You are correct in your assessment that “reason” has zero to do with my spiritual awakening—if I were being logical, I would still be agnostic—which is why I have great sympathy for their position.

    But the Spirit is not revealed, and grace is not received/conferred by parts of the brain the generate deductive reasoning—which is one reason why your arguments ring so hollow to so many.

    Intellectualizing about the Sacred is boring, trifling and irrelevant when you feel your heart opening and Divinity pouring thru your very cells.
    When you actually Connect with the very essence of the Beloved, words fail and only music and dance and poetry come anywhere close to conveying the experience.

    I find it telling that you just hydroplaned over the most important parts of my post, and went straight to the “dead babies” meme, which wasn’t a topic at all.
    And then you went to the “evil Com mie” meme, which also has zero to do with Spiritual Awakening.

    I think you find my words provocative, unsettling—and decided to deflect.
    Too Bad.
    How do you know that God isn’t trying to tell you something right now?
    Noticed you had no comment on the very short video I provided—are you too afraid of another POV to even look at them?

  171. Fundigelical hears something he doesn’t like?
    He sics Satan on you, and spews words like EVILLLLL.

    Ooga Booga!

  172. What’s the matter?
    Afraid that Satan might give you a mystical experience?

    If you really wanted to experience God, you would throw caution to the wind and weep and pound at the doors of Divinity until your wish was granted.
    You would read about what happened to others as they had these experiences, talk to mystics and drop your preconceived notions of reality—which are just too small.

    You would dispense with ideas of “real vs false”, and stop thinking that the universe is trying to trip you up and mislead you—that is your mind being fearful, because it knows that much of its defense mechanisms will crumble, as a greater reality is revealed.

    Why don’t you just google it?
    Lots of people comment on such.
    Here is one I like:

    9 Characteristics of the Mystical Experience

    Every person’s mystical experience varies in length and intensity.
    Have you had a mystical experience? Here are a few defining

    1. Conscious Unity

    The boundaries of where you perceive your individual consciousness and identity to begin and end vanish (otherwise known as an ego death). Instead you’re left with a boundless and infinite union with all that is around you.

    2. There Is No Time or Space

    With a lack of a definable identity or spatial recognition, your
    sense of time feels infinite. You go from perceiving time from
    moment-to-moment as a static individual, to perceiving it as a stream of
    eternal present moments.

    Without time space is endless.

    Because your sense of identity is gone, your ability to separate
    “your” (now non-existent) surroundings into individual “spatial”
    elements also disappears.

    3. Objective Reality

    Without a discernible identity comes a sense of greater “objectivity”
    as though you’re experiencing a much more intricate and profound
    reality. Everything doesn’t just feel perfect, everything “is” innately

    4. Gratitude

    Much of your ecstatic feeling comes from an immense sense of
    gratitude. This gratitude is an overwhelming sense of awe at “your” (now
    non-existent) insignificance in comparison to the vastness of

    5. Life Is Seen As Sacred

    In fact, your sense of gratitude is so vast that you feel almost
    undeserving of having the opportunity to experience such a miracle. You
    develop a new sense of respect for the sacredness of life that allows
    you to be here.

    6. You Understand Paradox

    Our sense of self or identity creates duality in our perception of
    reality (“I” am separate from “That”). However, the moment this
    separation disappears, you’re left with a non-dual reality which your
    intellect finds paradoxical in comparison to what it is accustomed to.

    7. The Experience Is Indescribable

    The overwhelming magnitude of emotions and intuitive understanding
    you embody makes the attempt to even describe it feel limited by
    language and insulting to the depth of the experience.

    8. The Experience Is Temporary

    The very nature of a mystical experience is its transience.
    Eventually you end up returning back to your habitual way of life, but
    the experience changes something deep inside.

    9. The Experience Is Life-Changing

    After experiencing such a state, suddenly death isn’t as scary as it
    used to be, and the beliefs or ambitions that you once held to be so
    important immediately lose their meaning. In fact, the mystical
    experience often awakens a thirst to try to bring as much of that
    experience back into our regular day-to-day lives as possible.


    Personally, I don’t worry about real vs false, because the mystical experience is precisely that—an experience, and it doesn’t try to talk me into any sort of dogma or commandments or throw a holy book at me.

    What I will say, it that the Sacred doesn’t tend to chatter.
    If you are hearing all sorts of language notions and ideas and orders etc…that is your mind trying to get control by practicing what it has relied on in the past—deductive reasoning.

  173. I just think you are being willfully ignorant and patronizing.
    So yes, I mock.
    You might not ever understand why—but others will.

  174. If they only infected each other, it wouldn’t be such a tragedy.

    But each one of them that is sick will probably infect several others, who will each infect several other…

    I don’t think their widdle minds can grok the notion of exponential growth.

  175. Interesting: leaving aside the truthfulness or falsity of it, I’m fascinated that you can say that,

    “the Spirit is not revealed, and grace is not conferred by parts of the brain that generate deductive reasoning”

    because to make such an authoritative prose statement you seem to be using just those parts of the brain, just that sort of categorization.

    And this makes me question your claim that reason is not involved in your spiritual awakening. Again, we haven’t yet established that you are reasoning correctly, but you do seem to be mentally comparing and sorting and filing nonetheless.

    I would ask, when you write that,

    “ Intellectualizing about the Sacred is boring, trifling and irrelevant when you feel your heart opening and Divinity pouring thru your very cells,”

    how you are able to authoritatively know it is in fact Divinity pouring in, and not something or someone else? A feeling? Are feelings reliable guides?

    No, dead babies and evil Communists don’t figure in your “spiritual awakening,” which is why I think your “humanist ethics” are not serving you well.

  176. It may well be that my notions of reality are too small. I would only ask, how would you possibly be able to authoritatively say they were or weren’t, unless you possess all knowledge?

  177. So, mere assertions that cannot be shown to be false even if they are false? CS Lewis is just making an argument from his own ignorance.

  178. Because of your responses, silly!

    If someone told you they don’t believe in the color red, because they had never seen it—would you think that red didn’t really exist—or rather perhaps there was a reason they could not apprehend it?
    Because, you have seen red, and nothing now can tell you that red doesn’t exist—it is so obvious once your eyes have been opened. No belief involved.

    And not only that, other people agree that they have seen red also, and those of us who are not color-blind can agree on the basic parameters of what red is about.

  179. Just because deductive reasoning is not useful during a mystical experience, doesn’t render me brain-dead afterwords; of course I can remember and my mind can and certainly will examine the experience afterwards.

    Fortunately, my mind has watched closely as I wrestled with how to quiet it, and we came to an agreement finally, because it became clear to my ego that I was simply fighting with myself and causing myself undue mental pain.
    So, there comes a point where the parts of my mind that generate language and abstractions and compartmentalization, just volunteers to go quiet and watch without judgment—ego knows by now that it has so much more to gain than lose by doing so!

    The reason you question, is because your ego mind wants to be the master, and is quite peeved at info suggesting it is irrelevant or even problematic at some point.
    Certainly you must know that your chattering mind is only a small part of your organism’s gestalt—but one is supposed to have the good manners to not mention that to your ego…

    As far as how I know that Divinity is involved, and not some ooga booga?
    Guess you just have to be there—I don’t really care what you want to call it—and your ilk has much to gain by dismissing it or warning against it.
    But there is much written about mystical experiences, and you seem happy to believe any that are in the bible—yet totally uninterested in anyone who has one and doesn’t follow your belief system afterwards.

    All this judgement and beliefism and doctrine only slows you down, and makes your mind too rigid to easily open and really feel—yes, feelings come first when one is in awe and wonderment! Because it isn’t “just feelings” involved—it is like going from two dimensions into three dimensions—the change is so radical and obvious that it is undeniable.

    And at some point you need courage to walk past all this paranoia about “something else” trying to influence your mind; it is simply your mind in conflict—own it.

    Someone taught you about “dead babies” and “evil com mies”; you did not come into the world with those beliefs. Don’t let your ego win by refusing new input because of your precious beliefs—all that stuff is irrelevant during a mystical experience.
    You have a very strong construct and personal identity designed around your brand of Christianity; your ego likes that because it feels “safe”.

    But to grow spiritually, you have to give up safety, and venture into unknown territory.

    Did you ever consider that you are ripe for a larger experience of the Sacred than you have ever had before?
    That maybe God is trying to tell you something?

    Do you ever bother to look at any material I provided you?
    Or do you just want to deny my premise, because it makes you uncomfortable?

  180. Hey, short of time this morning, but as for

    “your ilk has much to gain by dismissing it or warning against it,”

    is it possible that some things are really true and others false, thus the question of whose interests are (supposedly) benefited or harmed by making the case is irrelevant?

    As for

    “Someone taught you about “dead babies” and “evil com mies”; you did not come into the world with those beliefs.,”

    do mean to imply that the babies aren’t dead, that the “commies” weren’t and aren’t evil?

    I freely grant that others told me about the world, to look both ways before crossing the street, not to eat just any mushroom

  181. C.S. Lewis of course inconveniently died in 1963, so wouldn’t have the latest and greatest insights of cognitive science. But if you are maintaining that the mind is just the brain based upon materialist assumptions, he might ask, are those assumptions falsifiable?

  182. As falsifiable as injuries and conditions of the brain changing ones’ personality and even memories, and destruction of the brain ceasing both. I don’t have to make a materialist assumption. I merely go with what observations and testing suggests to be the least wrong conclusions. If God were as just as observable as everything else, we would alter our understanding of materialism, descriptive statements of our reality we came up with.

  183. Are you arguing then, as Daniel Dennett and many others seem to do, that your consciousness (and therefore personality as well?) is purely or mostly illusory, such that there is no “you” to you?

    I mean you have likes and dislikes, a persona, a cool nickname, is this merely your brain puttering away?

    On one hand, if we were certain that personality and free will were non existent, we might empty the jails, for how can we “blame” someone for what their brain did? On the other hand, if we attributed harmful dangerous actions, “crimes” to defective brains instead of free will choices, we might end not prisons but parole, on the grounds that, “How can we let brains proven dangerous, defective out into the world ever again?”

    Anyway, that “injuries and conditions of the brain change ones’ personality and even memories, and destruction of the brain ceases both” is consistent with a brain-only model, these phenomena are also consistent with a mind state acting upon a brain state, are they not?

  184. “I mean you have likes and dislikes, a persona, a cool nickname, is this merely your brain puttering away?”

    Sure, if all highly complex chemical reactions that make up machines can be described as “puttering away”.

    What does blame have to do with making society safer? I suspect we also might be able to rehabilitate a lot more people if we didn’t lay blame on them and seek to punish them.

    And New York is consistent with there being a Spider-Man, but I don’t see any reason to assume the presence of one forms the basis for the unfalsifiable other (that Spider-Man/mind state could be hiding anywhere!).

  185. Note that Natural Law observes that homosexuality is an inherent part of much of life on the planet. That is quite against conservative Christian standards.

  186. Morality seems to be subjective/relative. Also, atheism is the answer of “No” to the question “Do you believe God(s) exists?”

  187. A tolerant society merely has more functionality without breakdowns which we may all enjoy. Intolerant societies have fighting a persecution and counters to that persecution that also causes “headaches” for many.

  188. Perhaps, but without some possibility of affirmation of human dignity, human rights, nothing is at stake.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes:

    “ I see no reason for attributing to a man a significance different in kind from that which belongs to a baboon or to a grain of sand.”

  189. But if, on the mind-is-just-brain view we are talking about humans as just machines, impersonal. because personality is an illusion, what could “rehabilitation” possibly mean or look like?

    And if “society” is merely “highly complex chemical reactions,” why should it be “safer?”

    Anyway, we at least understand each other. It’s so odd, though: I was raised by secular liberals to believe in liberalism, in human rights. I drop the secular part only to discover that liberals do not believe in liberalism or human rights after all.

    So however ironic it may be, as a turn of history, it is we supposedly oppressive religionists, traditionalist Christians, Jews, and some Muslims who will now carry forth the banner of liberalism, of tolerance, freedom of conscience, and human rights generally (beginning, of course with the right to life itself) in your absence.

    I for one will begin by crediting you with human dignity, paying you the compliment (even if you demur) of addressing you as a man, and not as a mere mechanism!

  190. OK
    Don’t try something really new and interesting.
    Nature provides a useful substance to expand your consciousness.
    No one is gonna MAKE you take it.

    But are you really where you want to be spiritually?
    No more growing and evolving necessary?
    Why not give it a try?
    Afraid a demon is gonna git ya?

    The only demons are in our hearts and minds they are aspects of ourselves.

    Parts of us that we refuse to accept and incorporate—so they become perverse to the ego.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to find that out, and not have to worry about them anymore?

  191. If the mind is merely a machine, then personality is the function of such a machine. Damage of such a machine would alter the personality and memories of such a machine, and too much damage would cause personality and memory to cease. All that our brains process reflects these facts.

    Rehabilitation is simply changing how the brain functions toward tendencies humans seem to like and are unharmed by. Understanding that people are largely shaped by their circumstance takes blame off of them and allows us to ask what if we changed the “rules of the game”?

    If society is not highly complex chemical reactions, why should we be stopped from ensuring our safety? We, as “successful” biological machines have developed so many wonderful cooperating mechanisms that tend to clash really badly with harmful actions. Some of those mechanisms have developed to alter or protect from those harmful tendencies. There is how we have functioned over the millennia as societies, but there have never been any objective or absolute shoulds.

    Rights are a framework we reinforce, a set of functions performed by many brains across a human network. I’m not sure what being secular has to do with you. Plenty of Christians, Muslims, etc support secular society because they protect each other from each others’ religions and allow them to live their lives unharmed.

    I, as a human, am a mechanism that performs many amazing functions. Lots of mechanisms do.

  192. We affirm human rights even when our lives are at stake. Ultimately, there’s no proclaimed significance to that, but like gold or other forms of money, it’s functional for our purposes for the time being and no more than that.

  193. If you want to believe that human rights are but a sometimes useful fiction, well… I was about to say, “that is your right”, but, oops.

  194. A network of humans fighting for people to be free is one heck of a fiction. Rights are actions we reinforce and continue to develop. No God protects rights when people do not.

  195. Oh, certainly, yes, even if humans are, as you maintain, merely and only chemical reactions, it still can be said to be an observable fact that we find many of them “fighting for people to be free.” Also we see many fighting for people to be enslaved. If we are all just chemical reactions, then freedom and enslavement have the same moral and psychic weight, significance, which is none

  196. “Christians, Muslims etc.” are happy to support a pluralistic society with Constitutional Free Exercise of Religion. But this is so their “unalienable” Creator-endowed Rights will not be violated. And such Rights are not a secular concept. American society is only “secular” in the sense that we have no official tax-supported State church.

  197. Certainly if human beings are merely only chemical reactions, they have a certain fragility. We “reactions” may stop if tampered with in dangerous ways. Agreed.

    That these chemical reactions might, in some sense like to be protected from “harm,” that is one thing, but that they ought be so protected is philosophically unsupportable on the basis of your view

  198. Yes, “persecution…causes “headaches” for many.” But on the basis of your view, that humans are merely and only chemical reactions, then a chemical reaction being tortured for its beliefs is merely undergoing a slightly different reaction, just as water goes from solid to liquid, or liquid to vapor, one neither worse nor better in a universe with no objective moral standards

  199. I am surprised because of how it goes against something their savior said. How they have to have loud prayers before meetings, before football games, before everything just to show how much more “pious” they are then those there. It is hideous. Especially when other religions try to do something similar and Christians cry persecution or try and take their ball and go home.

  200. Chemical reactions that are highly complex can demonstrably do a lot of things. Saying “only” like it’s a diminutive state makes me wonder what you think biochemistry, neurology, and physics have been exploring all this time (hint: awesome stuff!). We compute “better” and worse” states through our interactions. We are the ones involved in our lives, so our quality of life matters to us. Declaring that moral standards are objective doesn’t make them any more or less relative in the grand scheme of things. Humans want to know whether a moral is useful to them or not.

  201. Without them acting to protect each other, those rights are totally alienable, and no God has ever acted to stop people from being deprived of those rights. Such enumerated rights as the free-exercise and non-endorsement of of any religions are the basis of secular government, a government that protects people from the cruelties of the religious but does not stop religious people from practising their own religion amongst themselves.

  202. They have relative weight and significance. We can only debate with arguments and evidence between such extremes. God and Christians, well just Christians, arguing people should be enslaved to their cruel and often incompetent whims… they ain’t got IT.

  203. Of course, I did not mean to be understood as arguing or implying that i was papering over a meaningless universe with an equally meaningless declaration of objective moral standards. Rather, as in the Declaration of Independence I would be understood to acknowledge pre-existing truths about human nature and its Creator.

    But there is no need to to belabor this, we can move on to your characterization of “awesome” in relation to the discoveries and/or accomplishments of “biochemistry, neurology, and physics.”

    The whole idea that terms of approval or disapproval are ordinate and appropriate, that the descriptions somehow belong to the character or properties of the things described, this is part of what is meant by an objective scale of value. Simply put, you are free to feel or believe that something is “awesome.” But you can’t be said to be correct about this without there being genuine awesomeness, and (automatically) with it, an objective scale of value.

  204. ”Cruel?”

    Do you believe it is “cruel” to pour vinegar on baking soda, or to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen?

    Are you not reaching right outside of chemistry, trying to find a descriptor that does apply to the human condition, something from objective morality perhaps?

  205. To use terms from outside of chemistry, that what we call “crimes” occur, that people’s “property” is “stolen,” does not, on the Deist and Theist understanding, mean that someone stolen from does not have a right to their property. That is what is meant by an “unalienable” right. Oh, certainly their right has been violated, but that is different from it being alienable. That such violations of rights can occur is why, as the Declaration has it, governments are formed, to secure these rights.

    But that for the sake of clarity a government may indeed enumerate certain Rights does not mean that those Rights are a gift or grant from the government or even the people. Indeed they pre-exist the government and the people. This truth is acknowledged in the secular-but-not-atheist American Constitution’s Ninth Amendment ( “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”), thus tying the Constitution back to the Declaration’s pre-existing Creator-endowed unalienable Rights

  206. You have that meaning wrong on the Ninth Amendment. It is covering the bases in ensuring that rights that they don’t specifically mention here are guaranteed to be protected by the USA government. For example, the right to a marriage licence for people of all genders and sexualities.

  207. Those are different chemical reactions and different from the ones making up what we might call cruel, like the chemical reactions involved with burning someone at the stake.

    If there was objective morality we could not think of anything we could call immoral. Instead, what is moral or immoral is dependent on what a subject says is so.

  208. The Declaration was appealing to deistic/theistic claims that did not bare out in the minds of the English government. It wasn’t God who asserted we have inalienable rights created by God but humans who did so, and the Good Christians of England treated it as such.

    My scale is subjective. I don’t imagine you are too enthused about consciousness being a wholly materialistic process of our bodies.

  209. I don’t see that we disagree
    about the Ninth Amendment.

    Any Rights that people have that don’t happen to have been listed in the Constitution, these they still have. Fine.

    However, on the basis of your view, that human beings are but ongoing complex chemical reactions, “rights talk” is absurd and meaningless, as there simply are no rights hanging out there for the government, any government anywhere, to secure or protect.

    If you’re in the lab running some process and decide to add an inhibitor to slow or stop a chemical reaction, are you violating its right to continue as it was?

  210. Oh, certainly, no question, you are free to call burning someone at the stake “cruel.” But it can only actually be cruel if morality is really real and thus cruelty a valid category.

    But no, morality is not dependent upon what someone says about it, that’s kind of the whole point about objective morality.

    Even in those cases where people disagree about it, morality is not a matter of opinion, it is built into the universe. It has to do with right relationships, and the valid, legitimate purposes for things.

  211. I have no time tonight to explain all this, but basically, to choose a simple, obvious example, stealing is wrong even if laws against it are repealed, because private property is a valid concept, people do have legitimate if necessarily limited or qualified rights to their belongings (for example you don’t have the right to drive over an inebriated man laying in the road even if doing the right thing (because of the objective value of human life) makes you late to work, costs you money.

    Innocent human beings have a legitimate right to life, that is, to not be deliberately killed by others, and so on.

  212. Even if laws against stealing were repealed there would still be people defending each others’ stuff because most people (and other animals) have a sense of fairness that extends well beyond themselves. This is a case where the laws are descriptive of how most people act rather than being just prescriptive.

    I disagree with you on abortion (what you keep alluding to) because I don’t even think you are wrong. If the ZEFs were alive even if the mothers’ bodies were completely destroyed, then there is no reason to go out of our way to end their self-sustaining existences (meaning they could at least survive on life-support, and ANYONE could care for their needs). As it stands, ZEFs are incomplete humans that succumb to entropy unless built into humans, in which case they don’t need to be a part of a human’s body.

  213. No, talking about rights as objective prescriptions is absurd and meaningless. I observe that rights seem to be descriptions of human behavioral development over time, otherwise we would not make up our governments to protect/reinforce such behavior. Likewise there is opposing human behavior. If there were objective oughts we would not even be able to imagine what opposing moral views would look like (anymore than we can fathom sprouting wings at will to fly being some moral virtue/grave moral failing).

    Very complex chemical reactions such as take place in our bodies and daily interactions develop behaviors that are self-reinforcing, including behaviors that oppose being poisoned for example. A behavior like that exists because some people DO behave to poison others which threatens the human group.

  214. But even to say “each other’s stuff” is an affirmation, not a denial, of private property rights. You can hardly “defend” what does not exist.

    Similarly the objective moral scale is also affirmed by your use of “fairness”

  215. Your analysis (“we would not even be able to imagine what opposing moral views would look like”) would, I think hold true for unfallen humans. But Theists believe that the human family, though glorious in many aspects, and capable of high ideals and heroic behavior, is corrupt and prone to commit the gravest of evils

  216. If there were objective morals, how would we fall? Suppose we have freewill. How would we take a bite of that knowledge fruit if Satan and the humans would both find such a thing as nonsensical as punching a dog to dial an airplane? It simply would not enter into our available actions, nor would God have mentioned not eating the fruit (how could God even think about doing something immoral?).

    I see a world where people are just trying to get by, which includes many actions we might consider immoral since they are relatively very different from our moral actions.

  217. We recognise in our western society that people can possess items. In other societies, their conceptions are different. Fairness too is applied relatively. If we can point to people being treated unfairly and even disagree on that, then obviously fairness is a relative measure.

  218. The answer, in my perhaps dim understanding, is that God is good, and Good is good.

    Further, there really isn’t a thing such as badness in itself, a bad thing is a deficiency or corruption of some real good into something horrible.

    Theists believe that if God walls off certain areas, keeps things from us, this is for wise and sound reasons, for our good and thus His glory, as you might keep the whiskey and car keys out of reach of a seven-year-old son or daughter.

    The (blasphemous) insinuation of the Tempter was and is not only that there are real good(s) that God has kept from us, but that God’s reasons for this are bogus, petty, motivated by cosmic insecurity, and that people will be better off if they disregard the prohibition(s).

    So it is not badness for its own sake that people reach for, but real goods pursued in the wrong ways, or at the wrong times.

    C.S. Lewis:

    “…aren’t there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them “bad pleasures” I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean “pleasures snatched by unlawful acts.” It is the stealing of the apple that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory. That does not palliate the stealing. It makes it worse. There is a sacrilege in the theft. We have abused the holy thing….”

    So mightn’t a good being in a good world find the prospect of yet more goodness attractive, if they were willing to momentarily brush aside the fact that pursuing this constituted the highest treason?

  219. The Bible claims God and therefore Jesus does and commands horrible things.

    “Further, there really isn’t a thing such as badness in itself, a bad thing is a deficiency or corruption of some real good into something horrible.”

    It would seem that Jesus doesn’t meet their own standard of “Good”.

    “The (blasphemous) insinuation of the Tempter”

    Aside from blasphemy being a victimless crime if Jesus is omnipotent, how is there a tempter given morality is objective and thus Satan would be unable to conceive of tempting or blasphemy making any sense in any of their available freewill actions?

    C.S. seems to have lots of quotes that don’t really understand our often harsh reality.

  220. Hello again!

    Because you seem to be again using terms of disapproval (“horrible,” “harsh”) in contexts not corresponding to chemistry, this seems to me evidence that chemistry is an inadequate explanation for human nature and/or experience.

    Now, perhaps your mind-is-just-brain-is-just-chemical-reactions position actually does not in fact support the basic principles of reason, the principle of non-contradiction, that A is A and that A is not non-A.

    Nancy Pearcey:

    “One school of thought, called eliminative materialism, goes so far as to dismiss consciousness itself as an illusion. Proponents insist that mental states do not exist; and they urge us to replace language about beliefs and desires with statements about the nervous system’s physical mechanisms—the activation of neurons and so on. John Searle suggests that we describe the product of brain processes as “mentation,” just as the product of stomach processes is digestion. We may think that we act deliberately and consciously, but in fact the brain acts on its own, and then deceives us into thinking we acted intentionally. A Harvard psychologist named Daniel Wegner has even written a book called The Illusion of Conscious Will, arguing that unconscious forces control all our actions…”

    So I think you will have to throw out either your seeming moral indignation, your “horrible” and “harsh,” or throw out your people-are-just-chemical-reactions position, or abandon reason itself.

  221. You cannot acknowledge, cannot “recognize” what is not there. If property rights do not exist, belief in them is false, illusory, at best a polite fiction like corporate personhood.

    Without further argument and/or evidence to logically establish otherwise, that people might disagree about fairness proves not that fairness is relative but merely that people disagree.

  222. Human behavior does exist including societal developments that brought about property rights.

    Fairness in humans is dependent on humans’ biases about who that fairness applies to and what are “acceptable losses”. That people disagree about fairness is why I call it relative- because what conts as fair or unfair is relative to who is talking.

    Again, you dismiss chemical reactions because, yes, far simpler chemical reactions exist than what compose the human body and even our computers. That baking soda reacts with vinegar does not invalidate computer science or neurology, etc.

  223. Even computers can test for true or false. Our brains have a few million years of development on computers, and both rely on chemicals interacting with each other.

    Obviously. Even our own silicon and metal-based computers can do that.

    Again with the looking down your nose at chemistry and physics. I see consciousness not as an illusion but as a sum of actions arising from testable unconscious forces. For examples:

  224. Human behavior can not “bring about” rights to property, or anything else, unless these are viewed, as you do, as merely social customs, customs subject to change, as we saw with the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht.

    I have nothing against chemical reactions, either simple or complex. I just do not ascribe personality, human dignity or rights to them

  225. Of course, “computers can test for true and false” because they are designed, engineered, produced and programmed to do so, and not by “unconscious forces” but by intelligence and will.

    I don’t remember saying that you or I necessarily believed that consciousness was an illusion. But “unconscious forces” are impersonal, and the impersonal + the impersonal + the impersonal + the impersonal = the impersonal. So on your view it seems personality is the illusion, which is why I said your view does not support human dignity and rights. Those holding your view are still free to assert them, however there is nothing to bolt them to in the materialist system, it was built without that option.

    Logically consistent with his materialism, the late jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said,

    “I see no reason for attributing to man a significance different in kind from that which belongs to a baboon or a grain of sand.”


    “[T]he sacredness of human life is a purely municipal ideal of no validity outside the jurisdiction. I believe that force, mitigated so far as may be by good manners, is the ultima ratio.”

    At one point he’d decided that truth itself was “the majority vote of the nation that could lick all others.”

  226. As well as with the overturning of Christians enslaving people. I am not disagreeing with you that human behavior is subject to change over time.

    This material life form can disagree with you and does demonstrably all through complex chemical processes we can observe.

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