We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, August 21. 2009
I take the view that the core tenets of all religions are essentially the same and should guide each individual, and as applicable to what should be governments’ very limited role in our personal lives should guide the role of governments.
The Seven Noahide Laws are found in the same Testament basic to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and are similar to tenets found in Eastern religions:
1. Belief in G-d
2. Respect for and praise of G-d
3. Respect for human life
4. Respect for the family
5. Respect for others’ rights and property
6. Creation of a judicial system
7. Respect for all creatures
To quote my religious guide to the importance of these basics:
There are varying views of the relationship of politics and religion. At one extreme, government forbids or represses or dictates the activities of one, a few or all religions. The ideology of the state, and avoidance of any challenges to its sole power, is paramount. We have too many real examples of this. At the other extreme, the dictates of a religion, or of a segment of a religion, dictates or is allowed to substitute for the usual role of government. Islamic Sharia courts and laws are one widespread example. Another is in
At both extremes, sometimes or often the reasonable differences or even the essential rights of individuals may be injured.
When government requires that taxpayer funds pay for abortion or that private health insurance pay for abortion, and even moreso when government requires that medical practitioners perform abortions regardless of individuals’ conscience or religious scruples, government has crossed the line.
When government requires that the legal privileges and obligations of voluntary union between two consenting adults only be between a man and a woman, government has crossed the line. Civil unions are the role of the state. Sanctification as marriage is the role of religions.
Government has an accepted and important role to play in the protection and furtherance of public health, most particularly as regards pandemics but also in promoting better and more widespread health care. Experience in the
In the current health care debates, the overwhelming majority of Americans reject that government should take over control of health care. Unfortunately, primarily due to the strong arm tactics and language of its advocates both polarizing and enlarging opposition, we may for now also lose the opportunity to make some far smaller but important incremental improvements.
President Obama has now crossed another important line. His phone calls to garner support from religious leaders of several faiths who lean toward liberal political views is not objectionable in itself. (Neither is it objectionable for religious leaders to have political views, but they should refrain from imposing them on their flock or ignoring the contending justifiable moral, practical and factual considerations.) What is objectionable, far over the line, is that President Obama requested they preach from their pulpits support for his political position.
This is an important issue. It is a completely inappropriate and precedent-breaking overt effort by President Obama to use our religious leaders as his mouthpiece/propaganda "tools." If our religious leaders do, they are "fools." If we tolerate this, we are being badly used, such congregations’ majority political leanings toward liberal indeed being abused, for manipulation by President Obama. Then, are such congregations a religion or a political party? If the latter, it indicates one of the reasons why so many depart from organized religions in the
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Our Sages tell us that G-d holds 3 keys that he doesn't give over to men, and those are the keys to Birth, Death, and Rain. So, when Obama wants Rabbis to shill for his deadly "healthcare," by falsely asserting that we are partners with G-d in life and death, we should know that he is up to no good. Only ones parents are His partners in Life, and only by His consent. And one who is His partner in Death is often a murderer.
The same also applies when the Left pretends that man is responsible for anything to do with Rain (i.e., weather or climate). They are trying to usurp His authority, and they seek to make us their partners-in-crime.
They appeal to our sense of morality, but those of us who have some remnants of a functioning moral compass, which one can only have by adhering to G-d's laws, realize they have no morals, and that it is a mortal danger to surrender our rights to their whims.
I don't seem to have an every day problem with the government. I feel, they work in the back ground. The roads I take for granite...the school building that I enter. I guess I forget the prepackaged lettus had a standard before it was bagged...the milk had to be labbled if it was harmon free from growth pills.
The government seems to be there for me. The world has changed 'free market' into smoke filled back offices, planning how to put together toxic mortgages and sell them for much higher than they would have gotten, if even sellable at all.
The government does a lot of 'regulating' and in this day and age, we can expect to see more 'back room' schemes for profits...which does effect me with my taxes going to pay for the damage, and not into smaller class rooms.
The government is as big as it needs to be, the game of
getting around the rules, will always be what dishonest people do. Corporate America searches for these dishonest men to figure out how to make more money and to hid money that you and I pay.
Smaller government can only help the dishonest men.
Did your religious guide discuss the demonstrated possibility of order without law?
I sense the standard conflation of “chaos” with “anarchy”. An absence of government law is not the same as a wanton and brutal society.
I do , however, agree with your points here, aside from that quote. Conscience, scruples, and religious tradition all provide order without government law.
Presumably Obama's IRS will find it unnecessary to challenge the tax-exempt status of the churches that preach the Obama Gospel.
core tenents? yes, when you take grace (THE greatest tenent) out of Christiantity it IS like everything else. What a minor change...
A little off the point and in another sense in the same vein, wifey just read to me a news item that the Lutherans will be allowing practicing homosexuals to be priests. This left me with two, no three, conflicting sentiments. On the one hand, I think that being gay should not be a disqualifier for being a priest. On the other hand, I have a real good feeling that a congregation headed by a gay priest would be of a nature that I would be as uncomfortable with as, oh say the Mormon church (not that there's anything wrong with Mormons). On the third hand, I never cared for the Lutherans much to begin with so wth do I care...in fact, when I think about it I like Mormons better than Lutherans anyway. And, fourth point out of three, I don't even go to church so why do I even bother thinking about any of this...except that perhaps the reason I don't go is due to all of the above.
I thank God I live in a country where the church and state are separate, regardless of whether or not this is explicitly stated in the constitution. Absolutely disgusting that the media, yet again, give(s) obambi a pass on blatantly mixing politics and religion.
Good on ya, KRW. I liked how you picked apart the Christians you don't like and the ones you'd feel uncomfortable with. What I want to know is IF you went to church, one in which you felt comfortable, and arrived one Sunday to find the priest, pastor, minister was a super hot bi-sexual female, what would be your comfort level?
Meta, you are the reason I'd rather discuss God with atheists.
Hmm, well once you pick a player, you've picked a team. Unless of course we digress into the woods of polyandry/polygamy/polyhermaphroditewhateverism...-y. To be honest, I'd still be uncomfortable. When I was younger, we had a pastor at our church who had the attention of many of the women who thought very highly of him. Turned out he was a conniving bastard who got tossed out for some form of financial malfeasance. I always suspected there was more than just money involved. (If I attended church) It would bother me enough to have suspicions on what roving eye a "good" pastor might have. With an AC/DC up there it could get doubly uncomfortable. But that's just my inner angst.
More to the point of Bruce's Noahide (heh, I first read that as Naugahyde) Commandments, I rather favor my own (arrogant bastard that I am) Grand Unifying Theory (GUT, h/t to Messrs. Einstein, et al) of Commandments, "Everybody leave everybody else alone". That, along with the slightly counterbalancing Great-Grand Unifying Theory Suggestion, "But help a brother out when you can, just don't make the situation any worse". Alas, then I think of all the lawyers, priests, and politicians this would put out of work and how sad that would be...I get all humble again.
Bruce - the uberlogical CS Lewis had much to say on this topic, starting from about where you start. But he presses the issue rather intently - that was the sort of guy he was - and his conclusions might interest you. Either google Lewis and Tao or pick up The Abolition of Man, a short, nonreligious book that nonetheless has religious implications. I think it is the most prophetic book of the 20th C, even ahead of 1984. If you are really interested in pursuing the topic, it is an important category of Natural Law. But I'd start with Lewis, who is a modest and engaging writer.
Lewis - a 'modest and engaging writer'. So modest that he left things out of his "Tao":
"This may still seem unexceptional; don't we after all believe that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?" What's the big deal?
Well, the big deal is that the textbook authors are teaching children that there is no such thing as objective value, that all judgments about value are subjective. And this is a big deal, the biggest. Because to deny that there is such a thing as objective value is to reject something fundamental to our belief system, indeed to the belief system of nearly every advanced civilization. Lewis refers to this fundamental concept as the Tao:
" It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others are
really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are."
Deny the Tao, deny the existence of objective value, and you deny the validity of the objective standards which nearly every religion depends on to govern conduct. We require these objective standards, and not surprisingly all religions have arrived at roughly the same ones, because in their absence man has no internal regulators to make him behave in a moral fashion:"
What happens to the children when they discover that the objective standards of the various religions, from which they have learned how to behave in a moral fashion, have differing, subjective standards for their particular moralities? How does that work out? You know, .. um, for instance a Jew like Bruce doesn't get into heaven because his religion has no objective standard for "only through Christ"? Or, can't forget this one, wife killing and killing one's daughter in the Muslim religion.
Objective value is a fine and necessary thing, but don't parse it through religion because it doesn't work. And for Lewis to opine that without religion man would have no morality? Okay, but which religion? Which god.? How about an objective religion to set the standards - one that includes everyone?
I am not sure if you are deliberately seeking an argument of terms or genuinely misunderstand what Lewis has written. His discussion of the Tao includes what happens when one value becomes shrunken or swollen, out of proportion to the whole - and what that means. He was emphatically not writing about doctrines of salvation. Both of your examples, then, do not fit the discussion at hand. Perhaps you might choose others which make your point better.
And try to do it without spitting this time, okay? You give the impression of not wishing to discuss, but only accuse. You may not have intended that, but that is how it comes across.
I might be spitting a little, AVI. But no matter how you spin my motives, I do not matter. What matters is what Lewis says:
"Deny the Tao, deny the existence of objective value, and you deny the validity of the objective standards which nearly every religion depends on to govern conduct."
"Every religion." There is only one religion, one god.
I have no problem with objective values and the need for them to be the foundation of a universal morality, but talking about it is cheap when man insists on viewing those values through the eyes of -his- religion.
Let's try it out: Are you willing to state that a human can get to heaven who does not believe in Jesus the Christ?
If not, why not?
Go ahead - prove my point. As long as one man is willing to judge and condemn another man because of his religion, Lewis' points are piss in the wind.
NYT August 22, 09 Robert Wright
Perhaps the most commonly cited ingredient is the human moral sense — the sense that there is such a thing as right and wrong, along with some intuitions about which is which. Even some believers who claim to be Darwinians say that the moral sense will forever defy the explanatory power of natural selection and so leave a special place for God in human creation.
This idea goes back to C. S. Lewis, the mid-20th-century Christian writer (and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”), who influenced many in the current generation of Christian intellectuals.
Sure, Lewis said, evolution could have rendered humans capable of nice behavior; we have affiliative impulses — a herding instinct, as he put it — like other animals. But, he added, evolution couldn’t explain why humans would judge nice behavior “good” and mean behavior “bad” — why we intuitively apprehend “the moral law” and feel guilty when we’ve broken it.
The inexplicability of this apprehension, in Lewis’s view, was evidence that the moral law did exist — “out there,” you might say — and was thus evidence that God, too, existed.
Since Lewis wrote — and unbeknown to many believers — evolutionary psychologists have developed a plausible account of the moral sense. They say it is in large part natural selection’s way of equipping people to play non-zero-sum games — games that can be win-win if the players cooperate or lose-lose if they don’t.
So, for example, feelings of guilt over betraying a friend are with us because during evolution sustaining friendships brought benefits through the non-zero-sum logic of one hand washing the other (“reciprocal altruism”). Friendless people tend not to thrive.
Indeed, this dynamic of reciprocal altruism, as mediated by natural selection, seems to have inclined us toward belief in some fairly abstract principles, notably the idea that good deeds should be rewarded and bad deeds should be punished. This may seem like jarring news for C. S. Lewis fans, who had hoped that God was the one who wrote moral laws into the charter of the universe, after which he directly inserted awareness of them in the human lineage.
I am uncomfortable with your restating of the Noahide laws into something more warm and fuzzy...
They are prohibitions, limitations on behavior.
This is how modern PC moral relativism works much of its mischief - by recasting moral absolutes as personal preferences or NICE things to do.
Rather than accepting binding obligations.
"Respect human life"
is not at all the same thing as:
"Thou shalt not kill"
or the Noahide:
"one who spills human blood, their blood shall be spilled - for humans were created in the image of G-d."
See? Not the same thing at all.
Because it doesn't matter what you feeeeeeeel - the truth still is true, and YOU have to accommodate the truth, not the other way around.
Something similar slipped into Enlightenment thinking. Many things that the Law of Moses presents as one's obligations to others were recast as rights accruing, unearned, to the individual.
At first glance it doesn't look like the moral code has changed - but the two approaches play out quite differently.