Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the Limits of Secular Morality

In my most recent post Sean writes "Both religion and morality are both the result of evolution, they're genetic. The difference between religious and secular morality is superficial."

I have heard some variant of this point on countless occasions and have often wondered and asked why an adherent to the secular world view would be motivated to behave morally. After all, there is no higher authority than the government, so why not do whatever suits you so long as you don't get caught? Inevitably the response is that via our logic we conclude that, if we want to be treated well by others, we will first treat others well. The golden rule in other words. Let us for the sake of argument ignore any religious connection to the golden rule and let us assume it is simply a product of the evolution and logic of mankind.

The golden rule absent God will not work. Suppose you were in the market for a gold watch. Suddenly a man appears before you on the street with just the watch you were looking for. He offers it for $1,000, roughly 20% less than the sale price at the established jewelry store. Just cause he is a swell guy, he offers a 5 year warranty when the jewelry store offers only 3 years. According to the golden rule, if you want to be trusted you should trust others first. You should buy the watch, but you violate the golden rule instead.

Another example. You are a wealthy individual with good credit. You have just been diagnosed with an incurable cancer and have but a few weeks to live. You have no heirs to worry about. Similarly, since you are about to die, you have no concerns in the least about how others may treat you in the future that doesn't exist for you. The golden rule has been rendered pointless for you. Time to screw some people who have wronged you. So you burn down the house of an ex. You blow up a business. You buy a very expensive car or two on credit and you trash them. The golden rule was useful for a while but not anymore. Why not have some fun?

If someone can explain how the golden rule can work absent a higher authority that serves to constrain our base impulses, please have a go at it.


Anonymous said...

"Morality" is the justification douchebags like Seany trot out instead of saying "we know better than all of you, the end justifies the means, and people other than me need to pay for all the things I want - I'm moral, dammit! I don't have to waste any conciousness reading Seany's nonsense but they are everywhere.

I want to know - for the filthy rich hard-core liberals, like Moore, Soros, etc. - how can they live with themselves when they have multiple houses and cars, only get off planes long enough to make a scene, eat at the finest restaurants and spend more on clothes in one day than most of us will in years? Why aren't they doing all they can for the huddled masses? I suspect that they feel that they are morally absolved - their "efforts" are worth more to the masses than their cash, so we hear and see them but they'll keep the cash, thank you very much.

Sean Cranley said...

Ano said: "spend more on clothes in one day than most of us will in years"

Have you seen how Micheal Moore dresses? Either those jeans. t-shirt and ball cap are sprinkled with invisible gold dust, or you're a complete . . .

Sean Cranley said...

Denis, first of all, secular morality does not necissarily assume that there is no god. It just does not require one to explain why most people, most of the time (but no one always) act morally.

I have no idea what point you're trying to get at with your first example, or why I should want a gold watch for that matter.

On your second ridiculously contrived example, you wouldn't do those things because that would make you an A-hole and you'd feel crappy about yourself. In other words the conscience that we have evolved as a species and that is shared by healthy humans across ALL cultures and religions will make you feel bad. The conscience has a real location within the organ we call our brain and it is a big part of what allows us to live together in the large social groups that we require for our survival.

If, on the other hand, you really ARE an A-hole, the specter of some silent, absent and invisible spirit in the sky will hardly be a deterrent to your ill will.

And anyway, on this planet we've never had a shortage of selfish thieving murderous bastards who believe in their God.

Best wishes (See? that makes me feel good),


PS: I guess by the fact that I woke up I can assume that that it didn't all end yesterday at 6:00 EST, that you're all still there in the world outside my walls and the donation dollar seeking sprirtual predator was wrong again. Either that or I got raptured with my recliner and my laptop!

hello? HELLO!

Anonymous said...

Two posts from Seany - anyone want to write something worth my time to read? Memo? Denis? Where the hell is Brad?

Sean Cranley said...

Poor hapless little Ano.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, the point with the watch and other example is that the golden rule may work much of the time but only if we can expect multiple future interactions with the other party. The expectation of future interactions will moderate our behavior since, if we behave badly, we may well expect bad behavior in return on the next encounter. Thus, we will not trust the street watch seller because we don't know whether we will see him again, whereas we likely would have more trust in a store that you could return a faulty watch to.

You are the first to offer an explanation other than the golden rule as the reason for moral behavior in a secular world. Your "feel like an A-hole theory" is rather interesting but of course wrong. You liken a conscience to something physical that can be found in the brain and that it has evolved. Really? I am not buying that. Rather, the conscience might be more like accumulated knowledge and teachings about appropriate behavior that hopefully have been imparted by caring adults. Note that this is not necessarily separable from religious instruction. In other words, much of what you might teach as moral in the secular world is borrowed and perhaps distorted religious teaching.

Most ridiculous is your notion of an evolved conscience. So our collective behavior must be improving, no? The 1900's have resulted in more violent deaths than any previous, much of them resulting from folks who share your notion of secular morality though no doubt in different forms.

And lastly, if our conscience has evolved, so to has our ability to ignore it, repress it, pretend it away etc...

Sean Cranley said...

Of course your conscience is in your brain along with your accumulated knowledge and teachings about appropriate behavior, where'd you think they were, in your belly button?

I'm not offering "an explanation other than the golden rule as the reason for moral behavior in a secular world." The golden rule IS the explanation and I'm telling you that we evolved the golden rule because it was necessary for our survival for us to live in communities as social animals.

I'm further telling you that the golden rule is global and transcends religions and cultures.

"Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him." – Pittacus (c. 640–568 BCE)

Buddhism: 560 BC, From the Udanavarga 5:18- "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."

Judaism: 1300 BC, from the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18- "Thou shalt Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Hinduism: 3200 BC, From the Hitopadesa- "One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated."

Zoroastrianism: 600 BC, From the Shast-na-shayast 13:29- "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others."

Confucianism: 557 BC, From the Analects 15:23- "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

Christianity: 30 AD, From the King James Version , 7:12- "Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them."

Republiconism: 2011, Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Your comment about the violence in the 20th century demonstrates how little you know about evolution. Human evolution doesn't happen over the course of centuries,but over tens of thousands of years. We essentially have the same hunter-gatherer brain as our forebearers had 35,000 years ago. the great violence of the 20th century was brought about by this 35,000 year old brain mixed in with 20th century technology and mecanized warfare. Same brain, more dangerous tools.

Anonymous said...

I saw the post number went to 7 and was hoping to have a disvussion but it looks like it was just Seany expounding upon his ignorance through his pseudo-intellectualism. Anything worth reading there? I am sorry I called him a douchebag, that was unneccesary.

Another question - who gets to be the arbiter of what is moral? Bill Clinton? Problama? Madonna? Will it be truly moral or will it be ala carte? Gee I know the answer to that one.

Sean Cranley said...

Ano said: "who gets to be the arbiter of what is moral?"

Answer, we all do. We do it all the time. Of course if you want some big boss to have that authority be careful what you wish for.

Think religious morality is without it's failings? How about all those people down through the ages who, certain in their knowledge of their God's will, killed in their God's name, sure that they would be rewarded in another life after this?

Isaiah 55: 8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Denis Navratil said...

As I have already demonstrated, the golden rule by itself will not work. There really is no point to behaving well in many circumstances if the only rationale is an expectation of future treatment. Throw in some omniscience and some post life judgement by a creator and you might just alter some behavior here and there. Not that the behavior will necessarily be for the better - suicide bombers looking for there virgins in heaven come to mind. Just another nail in the coffin of your "all religions are the same" nonsense.

Sean Cranley said...

Now you're just making things up like any good republicon.

If you can show me where I said "all religions are the same" (your quotes, not mine), I'll send you $50. SHEESH!

So the golden rule doesn't work all the time? Show me ONE THING in this world that does. I guess the goal posts are where ever it's suits Denis' momentary whims.

Of course Denis' Con brain can only see the golden rule from the negative coercive side, totally ignoring the positive side. We feel good when we do good things. Most people want to be good and most people are most of the time. It's in our nature.

BradK said...

Oh good lord, I'm missed... What has the world come to...?

I've been watching this discussion, and I can't really say I totally agree or disagree with any of you. 2 cents I suppose...

Morality, secular or otherwise is tricky business. Religious morality is doubly tricky because religion after all is man-made, and man, after all, isn't perfect. Far from it. Hence why religion is so important (the search for betterment/perfections/nirvana/etc)as it is faith-based man's attempts to recognize their failings or shortcomings and put structure around overcoming them.

Secular morality is a different kind of faith-based attempt to better themselves. It assumes the collective beliefs (no matter where they are derived from) of the people make up (generally) a proper moral compass. Sometimes that fails as well because, well, sometimes man fails. (See also - ritual castration in Africa. The collective "people" of the tribes that practiced it saw no moral issue with genital mutilation... though you could argue that's more religious based on the tribe and intent).

I might ask if religious and secular morality need be mutually exclusive guideposts? I would think that both could co-exist in a psyche if a person was open to it. I would also think that you could interpret the "golden rule" as a secular moral attribute derived from several religious moral tenets.

My 2 cents.

Sean Cranley said...

Sounds reasonable to me.

Sean Cranley said...

So how many people have died from Christian terrorism in northern Ireland? As of 6/6/2010, 3,568 people.

Denis Navratil said...

3,568 dead? That is just a mornings work for jihadis. Nice try with the moral equivalence Sean.

BradK said...

I'm not sure I understand what the number of people killed has to do with "moral equivalence"

Whether it's 1 innocent or 1000 innocents, isn't it equally immoral to justify it by way of a theology?

Sean Cranley said...

Moral equivalence? Sounds like something for which no human has a yard stick.

Denis falsely claimed that I said all religions are the same (the $50offer still stands btw) thereby broaching the topic.

I don't claim all religions are the same, or all cultures for that matter, as I don't think you can completely separate the two. Clearly some religions/cultures are more violent and aggressive than others.

I do claim that human nature is the same across the globe, but ismodulated by culture/religion.

Now if you want to talk about violent and agressive religions/cultures, one can hardly find a better example than western culture/christianity. From the Crusades (Jerusalem ran knee deep in blood) through the age of discovery (empirialism) the conquistadors, etc to the culmination of those tendancies in the European generated world wars of the 20th century that Denis already cited, who could possibly be seriously mentioned in the same breath as western chistendom for massive mayhem!?

Of course that aggression and violence isn't all directly related to the Christian religion (much of it is) a lot of things factored in. But the same is true of Islamic violence. There is a lot of politics, economics, demographics, geography etc factoring into the "Islamic" violence. But some folks can't, or prefer not to see that forest.

"Islam" has a long long way to go to catch up with the level death and destuction made possible by our economic and technical advantages. After all, who is at war more than the very religious, very Christian Un ited States of America? Answer: NO ONE.

See ya in the funny papers.

Nemo said...

Hey Denis, your contact email on the front page bounces back. I suspect it may need updating.

Denis Navratil said...

Would love to hear from you Nemo. Feel free to call me at 262-752-1451. Not sure how to fix the contact thingy.

Sean Cranley said...

I heard sociologist and auther Phill Zuckerman discuss his latest book "Society Without God" on Wisconsin Public Radio's To The Best Of Our Knowledge show last Sunday. It is an eye-opener for anyone who believes that religious societies have an advantage when it comes to goodness, health and happiness.

Zuckerman spent fourteen months in Denmark and Sweden between 2005 and 2006 interviewing 149 people at length about their religious and/or secular beliefs. The majority of people in both countries don’t believe in God. Zuckerman’s interviews bring to life the reality of a society “in which the belief in God is muted, minimal, and marginal.” These people live decent lives, raise their children, hold jobs, meet their obligations, face their strains and struggles—without God and without religion.

He begins by highlights the numerous differences between Denmark’s lack of religiosity and the pervasiveness of religion in the United States—focusing on God’s absence from public view there, whether in the media, in schools, or in politics. Denmark is, by our standards, as “deeply good” a society as we can imagine, which leads him to think about social goodness in terms both broader and deeper than usually defined by conventional religious morality: that is, by healthcare, gender equality, cleanliness of public spaces, life expectancy, gross domestic product, social order, functioning public amenities, the absence of crime, and a wide and deep sense of security. Contrary to American fundamentalists’ warnings, this irreligious society is “gentle, calm, and inspiring.”

Zuckerman also highlighted how these differences can be seen here in the states, where the states with the highest level of religiousity also have the hightest rates of crime, violence, poverty, income disparity, etc. etc. etc.

Do you need religion to have a decent society? Definitely not. In fact in some cases (U.S. fundamentalism) it might even work to the contrary.

Nemo said...

sean,"The majority of people in both countries don’t believe in God."

Really? According to official statistics from January 2010, 80.9% of the population of Denmark are members of the Danish National Church (Den Danske Folkekirke), a Lutheran church that was made the official state religion by the Constitution of Denmark. Moreover, in the most recent Eurobarometer Poll (2005) only 19% of Denmark said that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".

Let this be a lesson to you sean. Strange men with dubious credentials spouting off on obscure radio stations are not the foundation of a sound belief system.

Sean Cranley said...

Allow me to separate the forest from the trees for you Nemo. 2.0% of Swedes and 2.4% of Danes attend church weekly. Belief in God and religion is not a part of their daily lives, yet people are good, there is social order, crime is low, etc. They're doing better than we are here in church attending, God professing America.

Belief in a sort of spirit or life force. That doesn't sound like organized religion or the basis for religious morality to me. And church membership? Seriously? especially a state sponsored church? I'm a member of TWO churches one which I never attend and the other which I go to on special occassions. I guess you'd count me TWICE! EXCERPT: America's commitment to religion is even more striking when measured against other nations. Nine out of 10 Americans say they believe in a personal God; in Denmark and Sweden, the figure is only one in five. More than six in 10 Americans express unequivocal faith that there is a God, agreeing that "I know God exists and I have no doubts about it." When that same question was asked in the 1991 International Social Survey, fewer than a third of those surveyed in Great Britain, what was then West Germany, New Zealand and Austria, for example, expressed similarly unshakable faith.

I guess when you remove the some sort of spirit/life force Danes and Swedes you're left with only 20% firm God beleivers compared to 90% of Americans. Yet by most societal measures they,ve got us beat. Not too shabby for secular moralists!

Nemo said...

sean, just an aside on your last comment. You quoted,"When that same question was asked in the 1991 International Social Survey, fewer than a third of those surveyed in Great Britain, what was then West Germany, New Zealand and Austria, for example, expressed similarly unshakable faith."

Why do you think that quoting a 20 year old survey taken in 4 countries, each of which is not Denmark, would further your thesis?

Sean Cranley said...

Well Nemo, you're either cherry picking (typical loser tactic) or you missed the sentence right before that from the article: "Nine out of 10 Americans say they believe in a personal God; in Denmark and Sweden, the figure is only one in five."

Here is more recent data, same results:

Notice that the lower the importance of religion, the higher the quality of life and the more orderly the society.

There, my argument is advanced. Do you even understand what it is?

Nemo said...

sean, it was just an aside question to try to gain a better understanding of your thought process. On the surface, your thoughts seem to be unfocused strings of emotion, at times bound to the thread's topic. Sometimes the rambling is unbound. Giving you the benefit of a doubt, I am operating under the assumption that I must be missing some deeply subtle, rational point in the quoted passage. Please enlighten me:

Why do you think that quoting a 20 year old survey taken in 4 countries, each of which is not Denmark, would further your thesis?

Sean Cranley said...

Because the results are still valid today as I clearly demonstrated, leading me to wonder why you'd bother to ask the question a second time as it does nothing counter my argument, assuming you even know that that is. You're obfuscating and wasting time. But I understand that it is your only defense against reason.

Nemo said...

Thanks sean. That takes care of the ossified data part of your quote. Now how about the 4 other country part. Unless corrected, I'll just assume that the non-Denmark part just betrays a wanting knowledge of geography (in that Denmark is not another name for Great Britain (or West Germany, or New Zealand or Austria)). Heh.

Over all, I think I got it (the aside). You feel that cluttering up an arguement with petrified polls is fine as long as it does not contradict your disseration. I would remind you that comments are judged by their reasoning, not their word count. Spelling and grammer are also important metrics, but reasoning should rule them all.


Sean Cranley said...

For third waste time (and yes that means you Nemo: "Nine out of 10 Americans say they believe in a personal God; in Denmark and Sweden, the figure is only one in five."

Nemo said...

sean, I could show you how evolution favors tit-for-tat over the golden rule or we could get into a superrational strategy in the iterated prisoners dilemma but I have my doubts that your retorts will be very interesting. Jejune, but not insightful.

Instead, I'll take Denis' post one step farther. Without God, there can be no morality, secular or otherwise.

Mix vinegar and baking soda at STP and it reacts. This is neither good or bad, it just is. In an atheistic universe we are nothing more than a complex set of neurochemical reactions in a support framework. A mass of chemicals pushing ever closer to equilibrium. If this Godless view is correct, then we have no more free will than the beaker of vinegar and baking soda. When the conditions are right, electrons are exchanged, entropy is increased, and we move on. Free will would just be an illusion, a curious, imaginary artifact of a complex, fatty matrix. Without a ghost in the machine, there are no choices. Without choice, there can be no morality.

As much as I look forward to your reply, I would like to also get the opinion of people I respect on these matters. Denis and Preacherboy are the first that come to mind. BradK, you out there? Anon (the smart one, not the other ones)?

Preachrboy said...

Late to the party, as usual. I won't say much unless someone wants me to expound on a certain point.

As a Confessional Lutheran, of course, I believe God is the source of all morality (not Sean's theory of evolution applied to morality - we've discussed that somewhere before).

Lutherans do make a distinction between the "two kingdoms". It's an idea similar to the separation of church and state, but much older and deeper. Briefly, the idea is that God works through both secular authority and churchly authority, in different ways. In the "left hand" kingdom, that is, the secular, he governs through "natural law". That would be the morality that all people seem to have. Conscience, whathaveyou. Scripture says God "wrote his law on the heart". Of course, sin corrupts and blurs this, and a heart can be hardened to ignore it.

But I do believe rejection of God leads - ultimately - to rejection of morality. Romans 1 seems to indicate that homosexuality (one form of immorality) is an example of this. You'll have to read the whole chapter to see what Paul means.

By the way, since the law written on our hearts is so corrupted by sin, God has given us explicit revelation of his will in the Scriptures, i.e. the 10 commandments and other laws.

Though, the major thrust of the right hand kingdom is not to govern morality but to solve the problem that we are all, by nature, immoral and corrupt. This is where grace and mercy in Christ come in. As far as the right hand kingdom is concerned, the main function of the law is to show our sin, and our need for Christ.

I could say more...

Sean Cranley said...

First of all since Nemo brought up atheism let me just say that I am not an atheist. Atheism is every bit the concrete affirmation of the unknowable that all religions are.

Secondly, let me say that I see no more conflict between the reality of evolution and the possible existence of a creator than I do between God and gravity.

Nemo, tit for tat is every bit the result of evolution that the golden rule is. In fact the golden rule, prior to enlightened thinkers like Jesus was applied mostly within one's tribe, while tit for tat was applied to the "other", other tribes, other families, outside groups, etc. Obviously groups or individuals who never struck back for an insult would be at a total disadvantage from an evolutionary perspective.

Oh by the way Nemo, you have a habit of inserting links that you don't bother to elaborate on or explain. I rarely look at them. If you can't take the time to explain what you think about them is important and why, it's obviously not worth my time either. Just sayin.

Your argument about free will is completely flawed from a number of angles. It presupposes that we do or should have free will, neither of which is supported by your argument, nor can either be proven true or false.

Furthermore, you argue that with out a God we are just a series of chemo-physical reactions. I CAN ONLY respond, "well maybe", because you've provided no argument to support that ascertion. It might be just as true that there is God and we're STILL just a series of chemphysical reactions, like my train set, for amusement purposes only. Or not.

Your argument ignores the fact that there are people all over the world who behave morally without a religion that believes in a God, heaven, hell, judgment, etc. Why? Because humans are dependent on community and community cannot function without morals.

Sean Cranley said...

Preacher Boy. I was raised and confirmed Lutheran (ELCA), I've read the bible cover to cover, so you don't need to explain your belief system to me.

You cited the ten commandments, did you mean these?

Exodus 34:14:

1) Thou shalt worship no other god.
2) Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3) The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
4) Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day rest.
5) Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
6) Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
7) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8) Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
9) The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
10) Thou shalt not seeth a kid in his mother's milk.

Because the above is actually refered to as the Ten Commandments in the bible, whereas the other ten that are more traditionally thought of (and that actually make sense for harmonius tribal life) are not called the ten commandments.

Then you refer to Paul, a man who was not a disciple and never even met Jesus and yet is somehow considered an authority on the subject. Go figure. I always get a kick out of that one.

By the way, if homosexuality is sinfull, then why did God create animals who arguably DO NOT have free will, that engage in homosexual sex? Does Paul have an answer for that one?

You, like Nemo, have also ignored that FACT that people all over the world, who do not believe in your God or in some cases in any god live lives that are every bit as moral as those of "family values" christians. Why? Because we all evolved together and share the same tribal hunter-gather roots that make us interdependent communal dwellers.

And finally you've made a long expression of belief to which I could simply reply, yeah maybe, or not. No one knows. But considering that there are some 7,000 sects of christianity, let alone other religions, I'd say the odds are that you haven't won the God lottery and landed on the one true faith.

Preachrboy said...


I'm trying to offer a respectful contribution to the discussion, but I find your response flippant and arrogant. Having read the Bible cover to cover is no big deal, if you fail to understand it or willfully reject what it clearly teaches.

I'm glad you were raised Lutheran, although the ELCA is certainly not the most reliable place to find sound biblical teaching - being the liberal brand of Lutheranism and less Lutheran, even less Christian, all the time.

No, of course I mean the Ten Commandments commonly referred to as such in all of Christendom. Exodus 20 and Dueteronomy 5. The same ones that Jesus summarized with two laws, "love God" and "love your neighbor", in Matthew 22. But you've got the Bible memorized, so I am sure you knew all that.

You also knew, but apparently forgot, that Paul in fact did meet Jesus when he knocked him off his horse and struck him blind on the road to Damascus. That's in Acts. It's a book of the Bible.

If you learned your confirmation lessons from Luther's Small Catechism, you would also have learned that human sin has corrupted the whole creation - when the head falls, so does the body. So, yeah, animals kill each other and sometimes do strange things not intended by the creator. This is also a basic theological understanding of any traditional Christian.

"You, like Nemo, have also ignored that FACT that people all over the world, who do not believe in your God or in some cases in any god live lives that are every bit as moral as those of "family values" christians."

No, in fact, quite the opposite. I freely admit it. For one, I noted how the law of God is written on the hearts of all mankind - believer and unbeliever alike. And furthermore, I don't believe Christians are more perfect or nice or less sinful than non-Christians. We are, however, made righteous through Christ.

Sean, I'm sad that you have departed from the faith of your youth and can't enjoy the comfort of the certain hope that is ours in Christ. Perhaps as you grow older and wiser, and your own mortality faces you, you will be drawn to repent and return to those truths you once swore to in your confirmation vows. To hold to this faith, even unto death.

Sean Cranley said...

Or not.

PB said ". . . although the ELCA is certainly not the most reliable place to find sound biblical teaching - being the liberal brand of Lutheranism and less Lutheran, even less Christian, all the time."

I'm flippant and arrogant?


Nemo said...

sean, "Jesus WAS A LIBERAL!"

Really? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to act of their own free will, not at the point of a sword. Can you point me to the chapter and verse where Jesus said "If you have the power of government, then grab a weapon and steal from Caesar what is Caesar's."?
(Try not to be to flummoxed and disappointed during your quest.)

Sean Cranley said...

Liberal a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Liberalism as defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life.

Jesus taught about inclusiveness, equality, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, peace and love, liberal values. Jesus rejected greed, violence, coersion, indifference, glorifying power and judging others, conservative values.

Matthew 5: 3-9: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Matthew 7: 1-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….”

Matthew 22:21: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Preachrboy said...

"Jesus taught about inclusiveness, equality, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, peace and love, liberal values. Jesus rejected greed, violence, coersion, indifference, glorifying power and judging others, conservative values."

Half truths.

Though Jesus did teach respect for the government, he didn't have much to say on most issues conservatives and liberals argue about in our context, today. There's great room for Christians to disagree about the best forms and policies of government. Should taxes be higher or lower? Should the government school our children or offer vouchers? Jesus didn't say anything about these kinds of things.

Jesus is not all-tolerant. I'm sure the money changers in the temple didn't think he was very loving. I'm sure the Pharisees didn't think he was very accepting when he called them white-washed tombs. (I'm sure we would hold to different definitions of "tolerance", too)

Jesus did teach that we should judge (morality), however. But to be careful about the approach and the standards we use (i.e., his standards).

Jesus also said, "do you think I came to bring peace? No, I came to bring a sword!" So it's not so easy to pin Jesus down as Sean would have it seem.

Jesus taught many things, Sean, and plucking his words out of context to score points in your debates isn't fair.

I confess, I am not free from snarkiness, though I strive to be. If my comments seem angry or arrogant, I ask forgiveness. I am, however, firm in my convictions as we all should be, and for that I do not apologize.

Nemo said...

I always feel a bit wiser after reading your comments PB. Thanks for coming to the party.

Sean Cranley said...

PB Said: "I am, however, firm in my convictions as we all should be, and for that I do not apologize."

Hey, if that works for, that's great.

PB also said: "Perhaps as you grow older and wiser, and your own mortality faces you, you will be drawn to repent and return to those truths you once swore to in your confirmation vows. To hold to this faith, even unto death."

Should I be "firm in my convictions as we all should be"? Should we all, really? Or should I repent and reaffirm? Which is it?

I prefer to remain open to believe what makes sense to me to believe as I grow older, wiser and more informed. In fact, I can do nothing else. I can only believe what I do in fact believe and I cannot force myself to believe what I do not. To do so would make me a hypoctrite. I'll admit, it would be a lot easier to select an off the rack religion and just accept it implicitly. That does work for me, it's not how I was made.

Speaking of hypocrits, why should Jesus be tolerant of the money changers and the Pharisees? To preach tolerance, does not mean one should be tolerant of all things at all times. That is typical Cult of Con flawed black and white "reasoning". You sir, are the one taking Jesus out of context and engaging in half truth.

You can pretend if it makes you feel better that Jesus didn't focus on liberal values like healing the sick, feeding the hungary, caring for the poor, the imprisoned and the down-trodden, but you're going to look pretty damn silly doing it. The Cult of Con has nothing for people such as these, but disdain, indifference and punishment, it serves only only those who already have wealth and priviledge, THAT is what it seeks to "conserve". Gubner Wanker and Republicons have demonstrated that beyond a shadow of a doubt. It's a wolfishly selfish secular morality wrapped in religious shepards robes. They are the ones how should repent.

Nemo said...

sean, Conservative values include healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, the imprisoned and the down-trodden. It's just that conservative solutions, unlike liberal ones, include a personal responsibility and sustainability component to them. Conservative solutions also don't include death panels.

Your view of the right is nothing more than projection. Face it sean, modern Wisconsin Liberals care more about the angry acquisition of money and power than people.

Going up-north for a long weekend soon. I'll check out your projective/pejortive retort on Monday.

Sean Cranley said...

Pure BS Nemo. The Cult of Con has nothing but disdain, indifference and punishment for the poor the sick and the down trodden. They hold personal responsibility as the sacred end-all be-all explanation of one's lot in this world. Republicon values are disgusting.

Death panels Nemo? You're an idiot, the death panels reside in the profiteering, pre-existing conditioning, recisioning bastards in the health insurance industry. Oh year and Wanker's Secretary of Health who the Republicons have made into a one man death panel.

Liberals believe in personal responsibility, they just have the sense to know that it's only part of the solution for a communal species.

Having complete faith in "personal responsibility" is like believing in your ability to get to shore in a riptide. It's not up to you, it's up to the ocean.

I would like to thank Preacher Boy for bringing to my attention the notion that God wrote his law on the hearts of all men, believer and unbeliever alike. That is wonderful way of putting it and it's essentially what I've been saying all along. The difference is that I don't necessarily include or exclude a god I've provided a biological/evolutionary explanation for the same observation about human nature, that basic morality is universal.

There is a rational explanation for everything. There is no supernatural, only the natural we've yet to explain and that includes a rational God if there is one. Because if you use God to explain only those things that we can't yet explain through science, then as human knowledge expands, god gets smaller and smaller.

It is irrational to assume that rational explanations for the events of creation indicate the absence of a rational creator!

Nemo said...

sean, "The Cult of Con has nothing but disdain, indifference and punishment for the poor the sick and the down trodden. They hold personal responsibility as the sacred end-all be-all explanation of one's lot in this world. Republicon values are disgusting."

(Projection part of sean's comment except "personal responsibility" should be replaced with "Money and Power".)

sean, "You're an idiot"

(Pejorative section of sean's comment)

sean, "Having complete faith in "personal responsibility" is like believing in your ability to get to shore in a riptide. It's not up to you, it's up to the ocean."

(False section of sean's comment, in that riptide's are relatively easy to escape if you stay calm)


Sean Cranley said...

More pure BS Ne "Death Panel" mo. The Cult of Con has nothing but disdain, indifference and punishment for the poor the sick and the down trodden. They hold personal responsibility as the sacred end-all be-all explanation of one's lot in this world. Republicon values are disgusting.

Nemo said...

Not very smart to use a universal quantifier, sean. All one has to do is find one conservative who cares and your argument goes poof in a puff of logic. Now if there was only an easy way to quantify "caring". Poof.

On a stylistic note, your tone, as of late, has become more hysterical and jejune. Yeah, progressives have had a few setbacks in the past few months, but it's not like you dems have lost everything in Wisconsin. I mean, you still have your health, right? Heh.

Sean Cranley said...

Clue to Nemo, I speak generally, there are always exceptions. But generally speaking the Cult of Con is an a selfish, angry sect, raining disdain, indifference and punitiveness on the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, the disabled, the imprisoned.

They care not the least for the least of these but worship and serve only wealth power and priviledge. These are to be conserved and gathered in with zeal in great quatities for the intiated.

It's a pretty disgusting faith all around.

Nemo said...

Nemo: "I'll take mental disorders for 2000."

Alex: "And the answer is...'Hysterical projection'."


Alex: "Nemo."

Nemo: "What is the foundational schema for the modern progressive."

Alex: "Correct! Pick another question..."


Sean Cranley said...

No Nemo, not projection, but rather observation and experience.

One example, teabaggers:

Nemo said...

Yeah, right. Not sure what to say to that sean. Seeing that you base the fundamentals of your belief system on an underwatched utube video I'm sure you have other "evidence" and that it's just as "strong". Given this foundation of your progressive nature, I can see how your many opinions can make a sort of sense. Speaking of foundations, ever been to Pisa?

Sean Cranley said...

The evidence myriad. All one need do is listen to a GOPster for a little while, watch what they do, see who's $$ they kowtow to. Or turn on Fuxsnooze for the five minute hate or someone like Coulter or the the grand Poobah himself, El Snortbo 30 seconds. Feel the hate.

What you'll hear is, if you're poor it's your own fault, if you're sick, too bad, if you can't find a job, tough. Maybe not in so many words, but the message is clear. Then you'll hear the worship for the entreprenuer and the fundamentalism for the all wise, all knowing freemarket and the rest of the litany for their corporate masters who are ruling the country. Freedom? Hah.

Ever hear of the properity gospel? It's a perversion of christianity, very popular in cult of Con circles. Check it out.

Have a weekend.

Nemo said...

anecdotal evidence : evidence that is factually unreliable, as well as evidence that may be true but cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of typical cases.