Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Rocks: A Man and A Nation

Despite that America is the rock upon which a nation of religious freedom was built, Americans have been losing footing with respect to freedom of religious expression for sometime. Due to the repression of political correctness, Christians have been cowed out of extending the simple Christmas greeting of joy. Hostility toward Christianity has swelled, often led by some committed atheist/scientists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who maintain falsely that science and religion are not compatible, reducing religion to silly superstition and elevating science to the status of ultimate enlightenment.

Since September 11 anti-religious feelings have crested. Islamic radicalism has made Islam itself suspect of a violent creed. Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, inexcusably managed, has weakened its moral authority. Some Protestant sects have been criticized for overly active financial campaigns and preaching the gospel of wealth rather than the gospel of charity. And certain aspects of Zionism are cited as being at the root of Middle East tensions. All in all organized religion has been fired upon in such ways that perhaps we the faithful are now understandably, less faithful. Is nothing truly sacred anymore, we ask? Disillusioned, we begin to feel it is better to do without.

This week as I watched Pope Benedict, descended from Peter, the rock of Christ, I stood away from the firing line the laity now feels entitled to aim from and saw just a man, a spiritual leader, try to grapple with what I also agree is a world crisis. I too see people lost in sea of hedonism, governed by an immature moral relativism, a morality that has only one guideline beyond which you have no further obligation but to please yourself first, put yourself first. Yet high divorces rates, materialistic driven workaholism, substance/prescription abuse, isolation in our technology, obsessions with body image, health and diet testify that we are not a content people.

If we can transcend the errors that are made by man in man- made religious organizations, if we stop judging and hear the whisper of Benedict’s words, we realize his message is like a thunderclap even though he speaks low- keyed and resolutely. He advises that man needs to commit to principles to live by that are more powerful than what feels good at a given moment. Man needs to uphold values that are eternal and universal--- the value of life, all life, human dignity, love and respect for each other and the place in which we live. There is no freedom from our moral obligation when we enter the workplace. And furthermore, man has a guide if he would accept that helping hand.

Religious and spiritual principles are bigger and more powerful than anyone person who speaks on their behalf. The truth of these principles is their own strength. Their truth does not vary from person to person or year to year. Abandoning these beautiful tenets that pivot on the inherent sacredness of life and preserving it no matter the inconvenience, because the stewards have failed to reach the ideals is like abandoning our democracy because at times our political leaders have breeched its codes.

No matter your particular spiritual creed, Pope Benedict embodied in his presence and words that morality and spirituality has to exceed any interminable set of laws legislated by the state and that salvation is not found at the hand of the state in the form of giveaways. Salvation comes for within, from strength of character cultivated by daily fidelity to a set of principles that demand more results than our personal pleasure. We need to live courageously in consort with moral consciousness, to follow that internal moral compass even though this is very, very hard sometimes. This pitch is a tough sell these days to a tough audience, too sophisticated for such na├»ve nonsense. Yet Pope Benedict captivated thousands of us, didn’t he? The truth has a certain ring to it, perhaps.

On Sunday Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in the most famous sports arena in the world, Yankee Stadium. This was a very public demonstration of a particular faith, a faith that it is now politically correct to marginalize according to the illuminati of our country. No more, I hope. Religion is a rightful object of human need. May the public-ness of the celebration begin to free people from the repression they have been subjected to lately so we may dialogue again about needing more than diets, pills and health spas to feel whole again. Yankee Stadium was a very appropriate forum for the discussion to begin anew in the country that began as the rock of religious toleration for the entire world to emulate by a man who is the rock of one of the world’s great religions.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

30 comments:

Brom said...

Dear Joan, You are blessed with words. Have no fear Churches will come and go. God will not leave us. The days of treating people like children with Nanny and Abusive Officials is fast dwindling. I firmly believe God is within me and I also believe in a Prayer Relationship. Blanket prayers do not mean a thing. However, if a 1000 people pray for a soldier and he knows it by the names he will be strengthened for God is within him also. I feel sorry for those who think they are Chosen. For those that think that there is pain in the offing as always.
One who prayed on the table blind and who received one eye back. I will go shortly when He calls.

MediumPetey said...

Religious freedom also means that people have the right to not worship at all; to be atheists, to not have your beliefs forced down their throats.

There has been a march to have religion present in all aspects of public life. School prayer. Prayer before football games. The Ten Commandments everywhere. Christmas displays on government property paid for by tax dollars. ---which is simply not necessary at all in a democratic society.

The people in the Catholic Church have caused more harm than good, and the sexual abuse was not merely poorly "managed". That's ridiculous---the Church condoned the moving from diocese to diocese child molesters, period. Those who did are aiders and abettors to a crime punishable by prison. The perpetrators of the crime were only kept from prison by Statutes of Limitations, period.

The reason religion is reduced to "silly superstition" by some is because of the need to have it be as public as possible, and the need to have everyone support the institution of religion financially through tax exemptions. Religion would do fine, on its own, practiced in the privacy of one's own home or the sanctity of one's own church, temple or mosque, period. In order for religion to prosper, it need not be shoved in to everyone's face.

And the Church's moral authority was certainly weakened way before the child sexual abuse issue. Ever hear of the Inquisition? Or maybe being the largest and wealthiest non-profit land owner in the world who pays no taxes is something that you missed, too.

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Brom,

Thank you for your very kind words. And thank you for the witness to your faith. Be well.

Mediumpetey,

No one forced any of those 58,000+ people into Yankee Stadium to hear Mass and the words I used regarding the Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse was "inexcusably managed" not poorly managed, your words.

One of my main points was the need to transcend the limitations of the people who run organized religions and to look at the strong principles they foster for some of the very reasons you cite, human failings. As Brom noted, churches will come and go but Eternal Truth will remain the same.The principles embodied in most spiritualities are far greater than the people who man them. As I said, we would not get rid our liberal democracy and stop upholding the principles of human rights because elected officials have bludgeoned them as they did for instance by implementing the torture memo and conducting an American Inquisition of sorts.

Christian organizations are the most generous in the world. Where exactly are those atheist charitable organizations? It was the Christian evangelical movement that gave momentum to ending slavery. It was Christianity that M L King appealed to as he led the civil rights movement.

It was a seminal tenet of Christianity that Jefferson used to get the ball rolling regarding our human rights and principles of equality. All men being equal before God as His children, no matter their station in life, is an utterly Christian concept. Contrary to all previous historical evidence as noted in the evolution of political thought and our history, Jefferson asserted that all men were created equal…what a bold and rash and dangerous political statement, never before believed…He bolsters this revolutionary position by appealing to the Creator who made us equal and gave us certain rights, knowing full well he could never sell this unheard of equality if he said all men are created equal because Thomas Jefferson and John Locke said so…the king of England would have heard that and laughed …Yeh, right on there, Tom! Jefferson needed the Creator to back up his ideas to pull off the major political revolution he was undertaking from which all Americans have benefitted from quite nicely.

No one needs to embrace a religion but in fairness, while reciting all Catholicism's/Christianity's failings, let’s give credit where credit is due.

MediumPetey said...

More religious mumbo jumbo.

ML King was as motivated by Ghandi for non-violence as he was by Christianity.

And let's not forget how slave-holders used the Bible to justify slavery for years and years. Read Leviticus 25:44-46:

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.

or read Exodus 21:7-11, which OKs selling your own daughter as a sex slave:
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

What does your precious Christian Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don't die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing: Read Exodus 21:20-21:

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show in Ephesians 6:5:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.

So, dear Joan, where is your "Eternal Truth" written? Certainly not in the Christian Bible, which is rife with the moral relativism every where. There are passages that justify slavery, rape, and murder. What kind of lessons are those to teach?

Check out Deuteronomy 20:10-14:

As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.

What kind of God approves of murder, rape, and slavery?

Check out: Deuteronomy 22:28-29:

If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

If that is YOUR "Eternal Truth", give me moral, rational, critical thinking, progressives any day of the week. Even on the Sabbath.

The opinions expressed on this post are definately those of the author, a critically thinking secular humanist who believes first and foremost in ethical culture, the First Amendment, the right to religious privacy, and miracles such as the 1969 New York Mets and the 2008 New Jersey Giants.

You stay tuned.

MediumPetey said...

And Jefferson said "All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights".

Jefferson most definately DID NOT SAY "All men being equal before God as His children, no matter their station in life" AND IT is NOT utterly Christian concept.

The concept of such equality was borne out of Greek democracy long before Jesus walked the earth.

And not once, anywhere, did Jefferson make reference to the Christian God or Jesus---anywhere in the Declaration of Independence. Never! Your interpretation is nothing more than your own 'reading' of his work.

Brom said...

Dear Joan, I hope not to offend you by raising some thoughts for this well read and articulate misguided writer. I believe in Intelligent Design, Adaptation (Evolution), Regeneration, and Survival. If this person would try to understand his own body he would find God or at least a sophisticated CPU. If he understood that, he would know why verbal prayer is so important. When you deny verbal prayer in an Exam room you may condemn the student to failure. When you deny verbal prayer in a football huddle you may deny the team a victory. Very simple verbal prayer bypasses brain clutter and chatter with a primary input. I doubt if either of you has thought of this
You will not find this in the Bible. I will admit he is right about some the church words and actions. Has he found where the taxation system at the time of Jesus was changed to an Income tax as being Fairer and less Corrupt. If Jesus were to vote today, as a Populist he might vote for Edwards. As for you and me we shall
Bask in the Son of God.

MediumPetey said...

Brom --when you say that you believe "Intelligent Design" does that mean God or alien beings from another planet?

And no one is denying the right to verbal prayer before an exam. Just state run, organized prayer in school, as subject to the law. That is all.

"When you deny verbal prayer in a football huddle you may deny the team a victory."

If both football teams are able to pray, one team will still lose. So, even if we don't deny verbal prayer, one team will still not win.

"If Jesus were to vote today, as a Populist he might vote for Edwards."

So, you think Jesus would be a Democrat then? Go figure.

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Brom,

Please feel free…I have been down this road before in religion and it is a well- worn path. I really enjoy your input here…

Brom and Mediumpetey,

MLK was certainly motivated by Christianity. So, again a little credit where credit is due.

Slavery holding was justified by the Bible…yes, you can see all the Jews and Christians here who support slavery but that is beside the point…it was Christian momentum that brought slavery down and it was the Founders who cut a deal to allow slave holding in order that they muster the support for their precious Constitution….It was the Founders who legalized slavery not the Bible.

Now I will stick with Christianity because this is the religion in which I am most conversant. The Christian Bible starts with the New Testament …that which overrides the Old Testament...Hence the name…New Testament of God. Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus are not parts of the New Testament. The Ephesians quote does not condone slavery it gives advice to slaves.
Additionally, Ephesians was not written by Christ. And the Bible is also a historical text that addresses the circumstances of the day and there were slaves in those days. The teachings of Christ are central to Christianity. Christ had very few rules, 12…namely, follow the Law of Moses (The Ten Commandments) and the Two Great Commandments…Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as you love yourself, called the Golden Rule. So unless you love being a slave, Christ would say nix it. So much for your proof-texting.

America was not birthed the few years the Founders were haggling over how to make a designer country. This new and improved version of government was the result of centuries of evolution, a concept I suspect you are particularly enamored of, MP. America is the culmination of Graeco- Roman and Judeo-Christian values. Greece made the valuable contributions of democracy and representation of the people, open trials in which evidence is weighed and debated as opposed to the whims of the rulers. Rome gave America the idea of entitlements and protections as full-fledged citizens of an empire and the notions of the Senate and its involvement in evolving law. The Magna Charta and the French Revolution sobered up the monarchy as it saw the swelling tide of people power. In Western culture, the Law of Moses has been codified as secular law to give moral basis to community values.

Now you intimate that Jefferson just seemed to pull from, well, nowhere the idea that we are all equal with no traditional thought behind him. History tells the story of man as unequal. Historically, common men never had equal footing with the ruling class and the wealthy, not ever. And the ruling class and the wealthy never had any real vested interest in sharing their incredible power. This reality weighed heavily on Jefferson, no doubt. Arguments for liberty and self- government by the common man were being refined by Locke and Rousseau, i.e. social contract theory etc…

If you think Jefferson single-handedly could separate the ruling class from its incredible position of privilege and get them to share their power with the common man because Jefferson says so, you are thinking thoughts that history has repeatedly contradicted. Jefferson knew he needed more clout than he had to get power into the hands of the people and to get it he played the “God card”. Why do you think he appealed to the Creator? It was deliberate, intentional, not merely poetic. While refining his arguments for the revolution he was fomenting, Jeff noticed that God trumps kings. God made us equal, a notably Christian idea understood by his almost entirely Christian audience whom he had to convince to go to war against the great British Empire for these principles, no easy feat…Jefferson needed a trump card and he, an astute politician and political philosopher, played the God card to get things underway…we are all children of God and God gives us rights.

Jefferson knew precisely what he was doing by invoking God, a very necessary part of his argument. And these few lines in the Declaration, based on traditional Christian thought, became the basis of our human rights and the human rights of the world... rights you enjoy under the First Amendment you champion. We, the common man, are entitled to dignity because we are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with rights that cannot be compromised…these rights are inalienable because they are god –given, nothing less than divinely granted…That is Jefferson’s argument for our equality and human rights…those arguments won the day…

Not religious mumbo jumbo…just a little bit of familiarity with the evolution of political thought and leverage…

Now regarding secular humanism, please tell me just what that morality commands of the moral agent? What moral law must the secular humanist abide in to know he is behaving in a morally correct manner?

Brom said...

Sorry Joan, I will let you get on with your next blog. Petey reminds me of a Momma Doll. You know when you pull the string it says Momma..Momma...
I have to wonder who Jesus related to. It sure was not the Money Changers or the Money Lenders, A Populist? I often wondered about the design of humans. Some of us must have come from the wrong slime and sheet lightning. I do pray that he learns how his body works. He might even figure out the age old question. Why do men have niples.
I do look forward to your next Blog and promise to be good.

MediumPetey said...

Interesting, so you disdain the Old Testament, and only subscribe to the “New Testament of God” as the word of the Eternal Truth? Seems like an early case of ‘moral relativism to me! Don’t like what’s written in the Bible? All you have to do is separate the texts in to the “Old” and “New”: problem solved!

We don’t have to worry about what’s THAT part of the Bible says. Done, one fell swoop. ’So, is it that you don’t believe in the ‘history’ of the Old Testament? You don’t believe that Adam and Eve were the first people? That they were cast out of the Garden of Eden? But you cite the Ten Commandments as an important tenet? That, I believe, is in the Old Testament.

Joan, my dear, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot cite ‘moral relativism’ as the foundation for all evils in society, and then cast off the Old Testament. That, my dear, IS nothing more than ‘moral relativism’. The ‘old’ morals no longer fit ‘neatly’, so we adopt the ‘new’ ones in the New Testament. Voila! Moral relativism.

“It was the Founders who legalized slavery not the Bible”.

Yes, and they used the passages in the Bible to justify the slavery they made legal.

“Arguments for liberty and self- government by the common man were being refined by Locke and Rousseau, i.e. social contract theory etc…”

True. All too true. And this is where Jefferson took inspiration, not just from the “Creator”. Again, Jefferson never evoked the “Christian God”, just the Creator. An important distinction. So, you think that Jefferson played the “God card” because it was politically potent ---not because he believed it? Your continued assertions that these are “Christian” ideals alone are simply wrongheaded.

The Bible is a book of fiction. Maybe a good book of fiction, but fiction nonetheless. It uses the circular reasoning that it is the word of God because it was written by God; and how do we know the Bible was written by God? Well, because the Bible says so. Over and over again, nothing but a big flat circle.

The Bible is not a bad rendering of the myths that are religion, but they are myths none-the-less. The Bible [the original and the sequel] are filled with murder, rape, slavery, war, and much smiting. It’s entirely like a good soap opera or George Lucas movie story. And while it has been the inspiration for many things good and powerful and positive, it has equally been the justification for many evil things: for the enslavement of people of Africa, the rape of women and children, and the murder and torture of many hundreds of thousands of people.

So, please don’t preach the failings of ‘moral relativism’ until you and other self-obsessed Bible thumpers have cleaned up your own house of ‘moral relativism’. After all, the first large step in to moral relativism was the New Testament [as you said] “…that which overrides the Old Testament.” If the morals espoused in the Old Testament are ‘overridden’ by those in the New Testament what could that be but ‘moral relativism’.

Betsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betsy said...

Joan,

Here are some quotes from Jefferson for you to consider since it is obvious you are not famiilar with his writings:

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address.

For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address.

Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:545

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Brom,

Be well and I enjoyed it.

To Everyone,

No doubt the debate over Jefferson's personal religious beliefs will be with us until the end of days and equally there is no doubt that Jefferson was being politically expedient in his use of the Creator and Christian concepts like the equality of mankind, all previous historical evidence to the contrary, his personal feelings about religion notwithstanding…a bit like John Kerry who seeking the popular vote upholds abortion but wants to be Catholic privately and take communion. Politicians do what they do to get the job done.

Jefferson like any philosopher hones arguments to make the strongest case he can and he was appealing to a mainly Christian audience …his ideas were irrefutable because the level of respect they embodied were endowed by God and hence no earthly being was powerful enough to revoke them, no king, no president…This is powerful political stuff…and Americans and other people world wide have been raised to new levels of dignity by this elegant and masterful maneuver on Jefferson’s part…but he still exploited a concept uniquely Christian in nature, equality of all and dignity of all men, no matter their station in life.. This was not a secular concept then. It is not one today. In the secular world, upper class and wealth bring special privilege. Today it is in vogue to bash Christianity. I think people ought to understand the great contribution Christian ideology has made to human rights. This is one of those contributions.

Again no matter any appeal to the Bible regarding allowing slaves ( and surely you follow the reasoning as to why I maintain justifying slavery by an appeal to the NT is a misuse of that text given the teachings of Christ, namely the Golden Rule,) it is still the Founders who bartered away the rights of blacks to get the Constitution.

Now, MP, regarding the OT/NT relativism argument you are suggesting…I take it you are saying I am picking and choosing what to believe and you are right...First off all of Christendom sees the NT overriding the OT, the NT was the new covenant between God and man and this is very traditional teaching. Trained in Catholicism, which pivots on church doctrine rather than biblical literalism, picking and choosing is this the only way to go. Catholicism relies on Church doctrine not literal biblical texts because of the difficulties in doing so, i.e. the Bible is historical as well as spiritual and reflects the practices of the times, many of which we would not want to emulate… it does not follow from that that I am relativistic...I believe in some moral principles that are unchanging, regardless of ideas in the Bible that I may not approve of. This particular pope is very big on the idea that reason must always accompany faith and God may not be arbitrary and capricious. Such topics of Jesuitical debate are dissected quite finely and have been over the years by some pretty heavy- duty theologians. I may not agree with all the conclusions but I respect the reasoning. These are tough issues.

I am not conversant in Judaism and would not know how to address quotes in Exodus, Leviticus etc. other than to say I do not see Jews exhorting people to have slaves. So clearly they reject these aspects of the OT but better a rabbi speak to this than I.
But I must say too people challenging faith- based people have only a minimal understanding of the Bible and how the text is approached by faith based people. If I picked up a book by Stephen Hawking and tried to read it with my limited understanding of cosmology I would judge it to be gibberish. After all, only a handful of people in the world understand anything of what Hawking is saying. That does not make it silly. Rabbinical scholars and Christian theologians have very sophisticated ideas of themes and certain verses in the Bible, based on language and translation problems and historical traditions that the lay person often does not have background in as I do not have the necessary background on physics. etc. to grasp Hawking.

Again I ask what is a moral principle that secular humanists have to follow to know he is a good humanist? Christians have to refrain for killing stealing, adultery etc. What about a humanist…what does he have to do to be a good humanist?

MediumPetey said...

...there is no doubt that Jefferson was being politically expedient in his use of the Creator and Christian concepts like the equality of mankind,

Interesting that here you assert that Jefferson did not do anything more than be politically expedient in using the of "Creator and Christian concepts" to achieve his ends. So, we can add crafty politician to Jefferson's resume of slave-owner, pedophilic rapist, and Renaissance man.

And as I have said before, equality of man is not a 'uniquely Christian concept'---the Greeks, the Chinese, the indigenous people of America had the concept way before Jesus even walked the Earth.

The Bible is rife with moral relativism. It is a work of fiction and mythology. It is a book of nice stories and [sometimes] happy little endings and morals, but that's it. The scam of it all is that people like yourself do 'cling' to this claptrap, and call it the "Eternal Truth". And while disdaining moral relativism, you engage in 'moral relativism' yourself by rejecting what you don't like in the Old Testament ---slavery, murder, rape,--keeping what you do like---the 10 Commandments, the story of original sin, the story of Moses, Noah, etc. How can you possibly not call that Moral Relativism and not be laughed at?

No wonder you put in your bio that you like "...especially sci- fi and ghost stories and Christmas." all in the same sentence. That's what's in the Bible---some sci-fi and some ghosts, and a little about Christmas.

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Sorry, MP,

I cannot go along with your claim that Greece for all its enlightenment believed in equality of mankind. They were slave-holders. Spartans killed off their weak babies. Athenians, the leaders of the Greek enlightenment, had little use for women who were to be invisible from the market place almost to the degree Saudi women are to be today. The Greeks were like the Founders, equality was for Greek free men…that’s it. There was no pressure from a personal moral system that ever pushed the Greeks to change their standards like the pressure Christianity has exerted in America to transcend the Founders initial concept of freedom, which only applied to white, male landowners. As for China, I am not intimately acquainted with Chinese history but I see little equality and commitment to human rights, either now or during their dynastic period. Again these are people who kill off their mainly female babies which has resulted in an imbalance of the sexes, too many males. This hardly bespeaks of a nation dedicated to the idea that we are all equal and entitled to human rights.

As for Jefferson…I am not disappointed in his tactics in the least. He was courageous and clever. I am absolutely fine with his maneuvers. He functioned in the real world and it ain’t all that pretty at times and he knew it. We have benefited tremendously from his appeal to Christian ideology no matter his personal struggles with organized religion…I tip my hat to him…

I know of no one who reads the Bible and accepts it all at face value except for fundamentalist extremists, people who are not the face of mainstream believers. And there are always extremists in any ideology, religious and political. I hardly call that being relativistic. Rabbis dissect the OT and have a strong rabbinical tradition of debate over the Torah as do numerous Christian theologians with respect to the NT. I really do not know what you mean by relativism here. Even though debate occurs, those who observe Judeo/Christian religion believe you do not kill, steal or commit adultery, Treat others as we want to be treated etc. …objective moral principles.

I have reviewed more moral systems than most and it is evident that there is no secular morality that handily deals with numerous moral dilemmas that arise in daily life. Secular humanism offers no objective moral guidelines whatsoever…it is totally subjective...moral relativism is also an anything goes system...there are no objective principles to appeal to when resolving moral dilemmas…What if our legal system worked like that, no law applied across the board…Would anyone really know what they are doing and what the positive outcome would look like? Would any of us feel safe or fairly treated under such an arbitrary legal system? Would there be any societal order? There would be chaos due to the arbitrariness of the justice system…and life, moral life today is chaotic with high rates of unwed mothers and high divorce rates, substance abuse, sloppy work habits… this brings us back to the beginning, my initial post which cited the pope as trying to address this moral chaos….

Regarding all the rest...it seems like bashing…Herb Kaufman has a post on this today...although I may not be as forthright, I agree with him…there need to be reasoned arguments without coercion and manipulation…

bob said...

Joan,

As a matter of fact, I do equate religion will silly superstition. I fail to see any difference between gods, bogeymen, the unnamed monsters that hid under my bed when I was a kid, Tinkerbell, the Tooth Fairy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Baptize yourself in tomato sauce, clap your hands for Tinkerbell or say a Hail Mary; the results you get will be the same as any random chance.

As for Thomas Jefferson: when he wrote the Declaration, he deliberately chose the words "all men...are endowed by their Creator..." [emphasis is mine, of course]

He didn't say "our" or "the" Creator and he didn't refer to any gods, goblins or other silliness. By using the word "their", the signers left it up to each man (or person) to determine for themselves who their Creator is.

Also keep in mind that the Declaration is not a legal document. The United States is not founded on the Declaration; our country is founded on the Constitution. And there is not one mention of any deity or bogeyman anywhere in the Constitution.

Having said all that, let me be clear that it doesn't bother me that most people subscribe to some form of religion or superstition. I just happen to think it's a Big Fat Waste of Time and energy that could be put to better use.

MediumPetey said...

good point, Bob ---regarding the distinction between 'the Creator' and "their Creator". Indeed, Jefferson wa a wordsmith and could have said God or Jesus or the Christian God if he wanted to. But he did not.

Joan: Prove that the god you put so much time in to exists. You cannot. Bob is right.

Jefferson used the 'mythical creator' to assert that men are born equal and have liberty, period. Strange, though that he neither mentions Christ nor any other named god. And yet, that is the conclusion you draw---that he was using the "Christian God" to assert his points.

I agree with Bob. Religion is a superstition. It is like someone in the desert who so believes that there is water up ahead, that it keeps him going, ever hopeful. I guess an argument can be made that such motivation and inspiration is a good thing. But let's not endow it with any supernatural qualities, or give its believers tax exemptions at the expense of those who do not believe.

Joan---do you think that Wiccans should get a tax deduction for their church? Or Animists? What is the difference between your beliefs and theirs?

bob said...

mediumpetey:
the reason that religious organizations are tax exempt is not to be extra nice to them, or to protect them from us. It's to protect us from them.

One of America's founding principles was to end taxation without representation (which is why the residents of DC always have their rights violated, but that's another story). If houses of worship were to be taxed, they would have to be given a voice in government. By not taxing them, they have no grounds to ask for a voice.

So I'm happy to forgo their potential millions in tax revenue in exchange for keeping them out of government.

joan:
Carl Sagan used to say what mediumpetey just said, only more succinctly: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

bob said...

Sorry if I'm beating this to death, but I just have to respond to one more thing: you comment on being able to understand physics vs. Bible.

What makes something silly or not doesn't depend on whether you can understand it. (I'm sure more people follow the fictions presented by religion rather than the facts presented by science because religions give simple, easy answers to an incredibly complex universe, while physics requires some understanding.)

When Stephen Hawking wants an idea to be accepted, it must go through an extensive peer review by many others around the world who do understand what he's talking about.

A scientific researcher's conclusions must be able to withstand being reproduced over and over.

bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ProudtohavePancreas said...

You're certainly fascinated with yourself!


"I have reviewed more moral systems than most and it is evident that there is no secular morality that handily deals with numerous moral dilemmas that arise in daily life. Secular humanism offers no objective moral guidelines whatsoever it is totally subjective...moral relativism is also an anything goes system...there are no objective principles to appeal to when resolving moral dilemmas What if our legal system worked like that, no law applied across the board Would anyone really know what they are doing and what the positive outcome would look like? Would any of us feel safe or fairly treated under such an arbitrary legal system? Would there be any societal order? There would be chaos due to the arbitrariness of the justice system and life, moral life today is chaotic with high rates of unwed mothers and high divorce rates, substance abuse, sloppy work habits this brings us back to the beginning, my initial post which cited the pope as trying to address this moral chaos. "

"Secular Humanism offers no objective morality"? Really? Do you know the tenets of Secular Humanism? SHers respect the rights of the individual, and especially condemn actions that harm others. Each of us has the freedom to think any thought and do anything, as long as that doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Sounds just like the rights we have guaranteed in the Constitution, doesn't it? That's because Secular Humanism is founded on the teachings of the Enlightenment, the philosophy that informed our Founders and lead to the Revolution.

Secular Humanists do not think "anything goes." People have the social obligation (see Locke) to behave in a way that elevates humanity. Sure, a person can sleep around, but that may not be the most respectful thing for the betterment of society. So, a conscientious person refrains from these actions. Someone can choose to not return a shopping cart to the carousel, but that is inconsiderate to the next person who wishes to park in that space and to the staff who must spend hours retrieving carts. So a conscientious person, including a Secular Humanist, takes the three seconds to walk the cart to where it belongs.

Objective principles in the law? Moral relativism? As anyone, a secular humanist has to examine new situations with a clear head. Sure, there are similar situations that can be used, but in a brand new situation (what to do with those fertilized eggs in clinics?), we need to figure out new laws or actions. We always do it. We always have. There are relativistic laws: the difference between murder, manslaughter, and accidental death is a good example. The end result is the same: a dead person. But how did that person die? Deliberately? As the result of a violent fight that went too far? Or an accident (Person A, while driving, has a heart attack, loses control of the car and strikes and kills Person B).

We do live in a Morally Relative world. All the wisdom of the ages helps us figure out what to do next. But what we will actually do is up to us. We have brains, we have knowledge, and we have the freedom to decide.

Jesus and the New Testament is the ultimate example of Moral Relativism. What did no longer work, got tossed. And a whole new paradigm got set up.

Please don't dismiss that which you know not of.

Check out www.secularhumanism.org to learn the truth about what SHers stand for.

The opinions expressed on this comment are solely those of the critical thinking and open minded author.

Stay informed and in tune, but think for yourself.

Ian said...

Let me see if I can bring some clarity to some of the comments made.

Although most of the founding fathers were diests, they were nevertheless church-going men: of the 56 signers of the DOI, there were 34 Anglicans, 13 Puritans, 6 Presbyterians, 1 Catholic, 1 Baptist and 1 Quaker. Similar variety is found in the 39 signers of the Constitution.

Indeed, in answer to a question as to why he was attending church, Jefferson said, "No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my exmaple."

In qualifying this, Jefferson did say, "To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself...I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished anyone to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed other."

Finally, Jefferson also said, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

A God whose "justice doesn't sleep" is clearly an "interventionist" God, not simply a deist one.

It is also worth noting that the first two documents created in this country (the Jamestown Compact and the Mayflower Compact) - both of which predate the DOI - were flat-out Christian documents. Thus, while the founding fathers may have rejected any SPECIFIC religion as an "official" one (and created the separation of church and state for that reason), there is no question that religion - and particularly Christianity - was very much on their minds, and in the forefront of their debates about the founding documents.

Further comments to come on other aspects of this discussion.

Peace.

MediumPetey said...

Interesting point, Ian.

What I take from your point is that for all that their Christian belief system compelled them to write, draft, and believe---the Framers chose specifically to NOT include a specific religion in the D of I and the Constitution.

My take on that is that they recognized the failings of Christianity specifically and religion in general ---and decided to attempt to protect the rest of the new nation from its failures. What else could be the reason for their not making us a Christian nation from the outset?

Even Joan herself has alluded to the main reason Jefferson included the reference to the Creator---because it was politically expedient. He certainly wrote enough about how he did not believe in that clap trap late in his life.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom


I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.


The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814


In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814


If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith, August, 6, 1816

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, April 13, 1820


To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820


Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.

-Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822.

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

I could go on, but Jefferson makes the point better than I.

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Everyone,

Sorry for the delay. I am a tad under the weather.

Bob,

The day you empirically demonstrate that God does not exist is the day I will demonstrate that He does. I do not see the wind but I see its effects…let me lead with that in the first line of my apologetics…

Your “all men”, “our”/”their” distinctions to me are moot…it is just plural agreement. Regarding Jefferson’s love/ hate relationship with organized religion, he was not an atheist as best as I can conclude. Jefferson did not have to embrace Christianity to exploit it in the Declaration. Jeff’s skepticism about organized religion was also very much in vogue for those under the influence of the Enlightenment which Jeff certainly was. Furthermore…

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed: but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself…I am a Christian, in the only sense he (Christ) wished any one to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others: ascribing to himself every human excellence: believing he never claimed other.” T. Jefferson, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, Dec. of Ind. Signatory. “…Sir, no nation has yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I as Chief magistrate of the nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning, Sir. “ Jeff’s response as President to Rev. Ethan Allen as Jeff was going to church.

The Declaration is not a legally binding document but it is the philosophical position and basis of our nation, and the values of which are the basis of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the Declaration in form and action, the means to secure life, liberty and happiness, perhaps the most famous political words ever uttered in the world. Human dignity comes from a source so powerful that no ruler is entitled to deprive us of it, namely, the Creator. This argument worked. Now I know this sticks in the craw of a lot of folks who dislike religion but evenhandedness suggests that we give credit where credit is due. I have no doubt that Jeff respected differing religious views. This is the point of the entire American exercise, isn’t it?

Mediumpetey,

I did not say that Jefferson appealed to Christ or that Jeff appealed to a Christian God. Jeff cites the Creator. My argument is that at all people being equal before the Creator is a Christian concept. And it is. And that ‘s what Jeff wrote.

As for the Wiccans etc…I do not have a clue as to what they believe but if they are deemed bona fide religions and fulfill the requirements necessary to get the tax exemptions, they should get them.

Bob,

Regarding Carl Sagan…What would Sagan say to Nobel Prize winning, particle physicist, Richard Feymman’s extraordinary claims about negative or anti particles traveling backwards in time? Not empirically supportable, is it? What does that even mean…and how much faith must we have to give credence to anything of what particle physicists tell us? It is certainly not reproducible. And how would one even begin to demonstrate Hawking’s ideas?

Courier News Flemington blog said...

EVERYONE,

The Courier News is in the process of setting up another website and well be cutting these threads. This one is so interesting, that I plan to carry it forward, cut and paste. Please, SAVE YOUR POSTS in your “Word” files, on the chance that they are deleted before I get a chance to save them on my documents file.

Welcome, Ian…

Proudtohavepancreas,

I am not so taken with myself. As per my “bio”, I am a professional philosopher and ethics is my area of special interest. So I have spent numerous hours in ethics’ seminars that addressed numerous systems of ethics, including moral relativism and secular humanism, both systems of which can be bent in any direction... they are like “play dough” ethics, meaning the humanist and relativist can bend their ideas to do what they want to do if clever enough. With SH I hear a lot of vague high-minded ideas but see no overriding guideline that must be observed that cannot be tossed aside as soon as it interferes with the moral agent's personal agendas. So, yes, anything goes…

You say, SHers respect the rights of individuals and condemns actions that harm others….just how do those lovely thoughts translate into selecting an action in a given situation? As you state them, it seems that if someone is attacking me, I cannot defend myself because that would harm another person, maybe I could not even drive a car in fact or serve ice cream because each action has the potential to cause harm. On the flip side, abortion is a conflict of interest between mother and child, minimally prospective child, who wins? Who should not be harmed?

As far as I understand it, secular humanism derives from Kant, who advises that regardless of religious teachings each human has intrinsic or inherent worth and as such is worthy of dignity. Under the Bill of Rights we have great freedoms that initially were only extended to land holding white males, if you will. What a mess that turned into.

Secular humanism and moral relativism may overlap but they too have certain distinctions. Regarding moral relativism which is the system I have been addressing, not only is it chaotic between peoples when value systems between them show little commonality (US vs. Saudi Arabia, for instance), moral relativism is devastating when applied by states that have no objective moral system to answer to. The “might makes right” mentality takes over, a mentality feared since the time of Plato’s “Republic”. He hoped justice was more than the interest of the stronger. The former Soviet Union, China, North Korea are regimes that speak to the horrors of unbridled freedom of those in people in power to decide and enforce by any means what those in control say harms the people and what saves them sans an objective moral principles tempering the actions of the powerful. Under these regimes the 20th century was perhaps the bloodiest and most brutal. This abuse of power is the reason behind Jeff’s advocacy for religion under girding the freedoms in the Constitution…freedom is not license. I believe B Franklin observed that our Republic could not endure if there was no personal moral system underpinning it.

Re: your shopping cart decision...Secular humanists have to be very careful about appealing to the Golden Rule, treating others the way you want to be treated. Christ has the property rights to that moral tenet.

We don’t always figure out laws as our technology advances. We are woefully behind. What do we do with those fertilized eggs? And more laws and more laws… welcome to the world of the Taliban, we are journeying ever closer to this lifestyle, government involvement in every aspect of our lives increases as we surrender our personal moral codes and offer the law in its place and of course with law again …in the absence of objective moral rules, the law is merely the interest of those in power. Where is our freedom and moral autonomy heading, in fact? I see with the government take over of morality a decline in personal freedom and moral autonomy.

Objective moral rules do not take the place of moral judgments. They provide a framework for those judgments…the Ten Commandments have exceptions as any Catholic school kid knows. As I said early on, this particular pope really stresses the importance of faith and reason conjoined…this precept has been a part of Catholic teaching since the Middle Ages. Catholicism has a rich history of debate on the biblical precepts and teachings of Christ in particular. This is hardly indicative of surrendering your reasoning faculties as well as the Catholic teaching that in the end, your actions and decisions are a matter of conscience between you and your God….

There is no moral relativism between the OT and NT…any more than there is medical relativism between giving a surgical patient a whiskey or anesthesia when amputating or a parent telling a 2 year old not to run in front of a car and saying nothing to his child after the child reaches 20 years. It’s always dangerous to run in front of a car. This child at 20 knows better. And it is always preferable to use anesthesia over whiskey. The Ten Commandments, the moral directives of God in the OT have not changed in the NT. As far as I know, there are no other commandments ordained by God in the OT. In the NT Christ re- affirms their importance and adds on the so-called Two Great Commandments...love God (really a re-stating f the first 3 commandments) and love your neighbor as you love yourself (a simpler way of thinking about the latter 7 commandments).

Mediumpetey,

My position is that there are Christian values and ideologies underpinning the Declaration and underpinning this nation but I DON’T’ believe that Jeff founded a Christian nation… not at all…Equality and inherent human dignity as children of the Creator are Christian ideas as well as is separation of church and state to name another…

I do not believe the number of those who have suffered torment in the name of Christianity and clearly in violation of the preaching of Christ, is in the millions. It is more like a few hundred thousand; the Inquisition, Crusades and witch burnings combined. …but the numbers of those who have suffered under atheism is in the millions …starting with the 20 million killed under Stalin alone, a moral relativist, in other words what is morally acceptable to do to people is what I, Joe Stalin, says is morally acceptable based on what I say is good for the Russian people. Chairman Mao, possibly as high as 70 million …Hitler, 6 million, Pol Pot, 1.5 to 2 million…. Rationally speaking atheism or relativism vs. Christianity are not the "lessors" of the 2 evils...and again Christian ideology has so benefited America it is hard to see why you begrudge it its rightful credit.

Ian said...

A few random comments.

Someone quoted Carl Sagan: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Perhaps. But Sagan also said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Re MLK, he may well have been influenced by Gandhi, though it is patently absurd to suggest that he was MORE influenced by Gandhi than by his Christian faith and Jesus' precepts. After all, Gandhi's non-violence was directly influenced by Jesus. Indeed, Gandhi was as much a Christian as he was a Hindu - and he stated so, many times.

Re Darwinism and ID, I have never considered them incompatible, much less mutually exclusive. In fact, neither did Darwin. Here is his own conclusion, from "The Origin of Species: "Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind, it accords better with what we know about the laws impressed upon matter by the Creator that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual...There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been breathed into a few forms or into one..."

This is pretty close to TRUE ID (i.e., NOT the type that masks creationism); at very least, Darwin believed in "first cause." And before anyone suggests that Darwin only included this to mollify his believing audience, consider that this passage has remained in the book through 31 printings over more almost 150 years; it could easily have been edited out if the scientific and/or educational communities wished to do so.

It is important to remember that Darwin did NOT set out to disprove the existence of God. He set out SOLELY to disprove that species were "specially created," but were rather the result of random mutation and natural selection. But it is indisputable that he believed that God created "life" - something he NEVER refuted, even after three more books.

Re the discussion on the founding of American, MP says, "My take on that is that they recognized the failings of Christianity specifically and religion in general ---and decided to attempt to protect the rest of the new nation from its failures. What else could be the reason for their not making us a Christian nation from the outset?"

You miss the point. It was not the "failings" of Christianity that prevented the founding fathers from "making us a Christian nation from the outset." It was their understanding that the formal establishment of ANY single religion would (i) prevent the FREE PRACTICE of ALL religion (or of no religion), which was the very reason for the "exodus" of the earliest settlers from England to America, and (ii) give rise to the possibility of the government "co-opting" religion, whether to "control" those who believed in it, or "suppress" those who did not.

Finally, re the OT/NT debate, it does not sound to me like anyone here has a truly firm grounding in Biblical studies (though I admit I could be wrong). As an ordained minister (yes, it was bound to come out...LOL), let me make a couple of observations.

First, Ms. Greiner was perhaps a bit "overzealous" in her suggestion that the OT doesn't matter. But from the Christian perspective, it does matter LESS than the NT. Keep in mind that Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the [Mosaic] law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

That is, He fulfilled the entirety of the (Mosaic) law FOR ALL PEOPLE, FOR ALL TIME. This is why Christians do not consider themselves "under the law" (as the Jews continue to do), but rather under "faith and grace."

This does NOT mean that the OT has no place within Christian belief. However, its place of prominence has been "pushed back." In this regard, from the Christian perspective, when dealing with personal, moral, social, etc. issues, the "order of consideration" is (1) what did Jesus DO re the issue, (2) what did Jesus SAY about the issue, (3) if He did not do or say anything about the issue, what can be "reasonably inferred" from what He DID do or say about a similar issue, (4) what did the apostles/disciples do or say about the issue, and (5) only if nothing can be gleaned from any of the first four methods, what does the OT say about that issue etc.

The eleven main precepts of Jesus' ministry - love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice, truth - provide a truly exceptional foundation for living in the temporal world. And yes, atheists and agnostics can practice these precepts without necessarily believing in Jesus' divinity. But it is only by accepting these precepts as a "moral framework" provided by God that we AVOID "moral relativism" and the damaged moral compass that it can create.

Peace.

bob said...

Joan,

I hope you feel better soon. This weather certainly doesn't help much. And thanks for the deletion warning. Hopefully the C-N will fix the CAPTCHA verification, also.

As for "The day you empirically demonstrate that God does not exist is the day I will demonstrate that He does. I do not see the wind but I see its effects...":

You cannot prove a negative. This is a tactic religious people and dictatorships use, and it doesn't fly. That's why democracies put the burden of proof on the prosecution and plaintiffs in legal matters.

In dictatorships, the government says, "Prove you aren't a traitor. Prove you didn't sell state secrets. Oh, you can't? Here's a free trip to the gulag."

So if you want me to believe in the bogeyman, show me the bogeyman. Show me an angel (besides Nicole Kidman), show me JFK and Churchill going on a bender in heaven, show me Hitler and Stalin roasting down below.

Religions make wild, outlandish claims, and not one of them has ever been subjected to a clinical trial. But if you try to prove a god's existence with the Virgin Mary burned into a grilled cheese sandwich, there's good chance I'll try to eat it.

I can feel the wind and its effects, also. Winds are caused by the Earth's rotation and the heating and cooling of the atmosphere.

Regarding "What would Sagan say to Nobel Prize winning, particle physicist, Richard Feymman’s extraordinary claims about negative or anti particles traveling backwards in time?

Feynman's theories can be demonstrated with hard, cold mathematics. Not mumbo-jumbo written thousands of years ago by superstitious people who didn't even know that zero was a number.

Side note: In Feynman's days, there were some equations that hadn't been worked out. They were throwing errors (divisors of zero), so the theory of tachyons were introduced to cancel out the errors. Since Feynman's death, those equations have been solved, so there is no need to theorize tachyons (though they make for good sci-fi stories).

Super-string theory, and its successor, M-theory, show that there may be 10 or 11 dimensions, possibly including multiple dimensions of time. So yes, it's theoretically possible for particles to travel backward in time.

Ian said...

Bob:

Hmmm...where to begin.

You talk about "hard, cold mathematics." So I ask: do YOU, personally, understand that mathematics? The question is rhetorical (unless, of course, you are a physicist). You do not.

The point is that the mathematics used in these types of scientific specialties is, in a very real sense, a language unto itself - one understood by a VERY small number of people. Yet you seem perfectly willing to accept it, despite the fact that (again, unless you are a physicist or other user of high-level math) you cannot possibly verify the reality of that "theoretical" mathematics, much less its conclusions. You simple take it...on faith.

In this regard, why is that different from the "language" that believers use to explain or describe their faith, experiences, etc.? WE understand each other, just as those scientists who DO use such high-level math understand each other - while to others that language is just so much mumbo-jumbo (even if it IS "science").

Indeed, I find it amusing that "science" refuses to accept even the possibility of the existence of a conscious higher power referred to as "God," yet they would like me (and you and everyone) to believe that: a particle can be in two different places at the same time; that a particle can spin in both directions simultaneously; that there could be multiple universes; that our universe could be the result of the collapse of a "pre-universe"; etc.

Given that not ONE of these claims is testable or non-falsifiable - or even lends itself to the scientific method - or ever will be, we are, again, essentially asked to take it "on faith" that these things are true (or, at least, possible).

Note that I am not saying that I might not even "buy" that these things (or some of them) are true. Indeed, Michio Kaku was my physics instructor in college (two terms), and I have read all of his books re science and/or metaphysics, and I certainly grasp the reasons for the concepts of multiple universes, etc.

But that does not make them any more PROBABLE than God. Indeed, they are all simply HYPOTHESES, and not even models, much less theories.

I have great respect for science. I believe in a 13-billion-year-old universe, a 5-billion-year-old earth, evolution (with first cause), and the unquestionable contributions and conclusions of geology, archeology, paleontology, chemistry, physics, biology, and other "hard" sciences, as well as "soft" sciences like psychology.

But NONE of this conflicts with my faith, and my belief in a personal God who can and does "intervene" in both individual (personal) and larger (world) affairs at various times for various reasons.

"There is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy." What I find interesting is that my faith-based worldview has ample room for the scientific worldview (even such completely untestable hypotheses as multiple universes), while the scientific worldview has ZERO place for the faith-based worldview.

Which, then, is the more open-minded, and which the more closed-minded, between those two worldviews?

Peace.

Courier News Flemington blog said...

Everyone,

I have transferred this entire thread to our new site....
www.MyCentralJersey.com. Click on Opinion and then click on Blogs and you will find my picture. Click on my picture and Viole`, we should be back in business. I believe you can now post there directly but I will check here too. Also entries are limited to 1000 words but you can just break up your posts and make several entries if you wish. You can also set up your own personal blog sites too...

And of course I have to put in my own 2 cents on the last few posts....soooooo

Stay tuned.

MediumPetey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.