Shouting, “Peace! Peace!” where there is no peace

Mideast peace talks resume this week, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveling to Egypt and Israel for negotiations between … Continued

Mideast peace talks resume this week, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveling to Egypt and Israel for negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Is religion helping or hurting the attempt to forge peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians?

Peace is a good thing, but not the only good. One handicap to Middle East peace is that peace just now, with the present regimes, leaders, and attitudes, would be a false and ugly peace. We all pray for peace, but we also pray for justice. It might be better to hope for a wary and watchful tension in the Middle East, than a peace bought at the expense of the rights of minorities in the region.

The Ottoman Empire demonstrated that it is “easy” to get centuries of peace in the Middle East. Turkish military power made the Middle East peaceful, even a sleepy backwater, but not a happy or prosperous area. Muslims, Christians, and Jews have existed in the region for centuries peacefully, but it was a peace bought by the sword and by the acceptance by Jewish and Christian minorities that they would be second-class citizens in their own homes.

The problem in the Middle East is not fundamentally the attitudes of the Christian or Jewish minorities. It is also not an exclusively “Islamic” problem, since Islamic minority groups also face persecution and second-class citizenship.

Peace in the Middle East is difficult to achieve today, partly because past “peace” has been achieved the wrong ways. Colonial powers imposed peace, including Eastern and Western powers, but this taught the wrong lessons. Everyone can and sometimes should cry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but a just society also has members who shout, “Give my opponent liberty or give me death.”

The difficulty is that the majority in the Middle East will not accept the rights of the minorities to live in peace. They do not do this because they are religious–often their religion is the only thing softening their bigotry–but because they are the majority and feel their power. This is easy to see when one looks at the persecution of Islamic minority groups by the majority in the culture.

The problem is not that the majority of people in these states are too “religious.” Israel herself is a secular state with a majority of the population not overly given to piety. Egypt and Syria are both secular regimes and have been so for decades.

Anyone who has visited the region knows that many people in the area are secularists, but that secularist majorities or power groups are no more peaceful than the religious. The “secular” regimes of Egypt and Syria demonstrated this truth in the past. These secular states were internally peaceful, but at the price of being unjust states. Property rights were ignored. Minorities faced persecution. These secular nations went to war with a secular Israel, because they did not accept the existence of the Jewish state and felt they could impose their desires by force.

What are the major impediments to a just peace in the Middle East?

Part of the problem of the Middle East is anti-Semitism in the world. The irrational hatred of Jewish people is not the sole domain of religious or non-religious people. Secular and religious states have persecuted and killed Jews. Stereotypes about Jews exist in religious and non-religious groups. Secular non-Jews, for irrational secular reasons hate, secular Jews. Religious non-Jews, for irrational religious reasons, hate Jews.

Secularism and religion are both infected with anti-Semitism. If there were no religion in the entire Middle East, this bigotry would still exist. Until such bigots are purged from the body politic there can be no peace in the Middle East. This purgation must begin with recognition that Jewish people have a right to self-governance in the one tiny area of the Middle East where they are a majority: Israel. It must continue by granting Jewish people full civil rights in all the nations of the Middle East.

“Peace” in the Middle East is no great victory if it is won by trampling on the hopes for minority groups in every nation outside of Palestine. One target during this period of watchful waiting should be for every minority group in the Middle East to have the rights of religious and cultural minorities in the state of Israel.

A key problem is tolerance of thuggish regimes if they are found in former colonies or places with oil. Many of the governments in the Middle East are plutocracies that buy complacency from their subjects by fueling religious zeal they lack with part of their loot. These secular rulers pay for anti-democratic forms of religion because it allows their regimes to continue. In some places, extremist religious groups have turned on the hypocrites who created them, but in most places that has not happened yet.

Islam is corrupted by pay-off money from oil sheiks not noted for their personal piety. The problem is not religion, but the corruption of religion and every other decent idea in the Middle East by wicked men intent on keeping up their looting and stealing. There can be no lasting peace in the Middle East when many of the nations there ignore the rights of the majority of citizens, let alone the rights of minorities.

Fanning hatred of Jews, as if Israel is the reason for the poverty in most of the region, is the same ugly strategy used in Russia to keep another tottering regime in power. But peace bought by pogroms only puts off the inevitable day of doom and makes the bill higher by combining injustice with more wickedness. The United States might find a temporary truce between Israel and her neighbors, but the rotting anti-democratic regimes in the region cannot be counted on to keep it.

Peace treaties signed with ugly thuggish regimes cannot be trusted past the lifetimes of the ugly thugs that rule them.

The Middle East may face a few more decades of conflict before the rights of the Middle East minorities are secured. Until a Jew can dream of being President of Syria or a Christian can be head of government in Iran, there will be no just peace in the Middle East. Our goal should be to minimize conflict, not to hastily impose “peace on the Middle East.”

A “peace” that left the vile regime now in Tehran free to gain nuclear weapons would only be the prelude to bloodier conflict.

“War is never the answer” bumper stickers are pithy, but false. Israel’s defensive wars in the last century saved the lives of thousands of Jews.

War is bad, but is it always the worst evil? Certainly nuclear holocaust would be impossible to defend, but more limited wars have been fought and done great good to balance off their evils.

Our nation would not exist if it was not for war and arguably the South of this nation would never have voluntarily freed its slaves. Certainly generations more African-Americans would have lived in bondage if the Union had not been preserved by a bloody war.

The Allies’ defeat of Napoleon left the world freer than if one man had been allowed to be emperor of Europe. World War II answered a good many questions. South Koreans must be glad that they do not live under the North Korean regime thanks to the Korean Conflict. The Cold War resolved several others in a manner generally favorable to the human condition. Even the people of Iraq are better off today than they would be if we had left Saddam in power. Does anyone doubt that Vietnam would be richer, if the United States had won the Vietnam War?

Let us hope that, slowly, nations in the Middle East will begin to protect the rights of the minorities. Perhaps Turkey, Iraq, or Jordan will begin to show the way Islamic societies can become democracies and respect the rights of minorities, but they are not doing so now.

All decent men and women hate war and long for peace, but all decent people also hate injustice and long for justice. We hope for the day when all people can live in harmony, but that day is not yet.

I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but also the safety and rights of all the people who call that city home. Until then, people of good will in the United States should continue to support our democratic ally Israel, encouraging her to be true to her constitution, while also standing for justice in the other nations of the Middle East.

John Mark Reynolds
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  • bquicktucson

    This one quote–“Does anyone doubt that Vietnam would be richer, if the United States had won the Vietnam War?”–shows such a lack of historical knowledge as to disqualify John Mark Reynolds from being taken seriously. What we call the “Vietnam War” was a civil war into which the Americans, Australians, and South Koreans inserted themselves for a few futile years when the French bailed out after WW2. In an economic sense, the United States did win, twenty years after the last of the American troops were pulled out, and Vietnam’s economy is currently one of the fastest growing in the world, seemingly immune from the global recession. Meanwhile, here in the states…………..

  • aspacia

    Reynolds fails to appreciate that the root of M.E. turmoil is Islam and its intolerance of the infidel, the demand to murder or subjegation of nonMuslims, and ad hominem attacks against Jews.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    rco,i hope (since prayer doesn’t work) your daughter gets better. hopefully her doctors and hospital are really good.i’ll read through your responses on the last thread and comment as possible. we’re going out of town this weekend, and i’ve got work to do before then…so don’t expect it right away.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter, rco, psolus,

  • PSolus

    “Anyone can do that.”Then, what’s the problem?”It is true that I can fly by flapping my arms. Let me demonstrate as I jump off the Empire State building.”Have I ever actually said that?”You may believe it but the evidence does not support such a conclusion.”Again, I believe nothing, therefore, there is no need for evidence.”I’m asking you to show me that you can support what you say, that there is some truth to it, that it is meaningful and does make a difference.”I don’t have to support what I say, I never claimed that there is any truth, I never claimed that anything is meaningful, or that anything makes a difference?”Can you do that?”I have no need to.”What you have given me so far just confirms that you are a victim of postmodernist, a world-view that can only be lived within the mind.”You are free to believe that of me; I don’t mind.”It doesn’t work in the real world.”Then, why do you choose to believe it of me?”Postmodernism is a view that constructs its own truth, makes it up, then deconstructs that which is real.”Never heard of it.”It is like a form of Buddhism that believes that the world is illusion, but those holding that view still look both ways when they crosses the road.”I’m not a Buddhist, but I also look both ways when I cross the street.”They understand they can’t deny that actual bus coming towards them, even if their thoughts say it is not real.”Are you sure that you’re not talking about tripping?”What they think betrays how they live, just like you do.”I betray how they live? How do I do that?”As I said before, you need to think more about why you think the way you do and try justifying that it is actually true, actually so, actually the way things really are.”And, as I said before: No I don’t.”Let me give this one last effort to your posts unless you show me you are willing to engage meaningfully.”Go for it.

  • PSolus

    PETERHUFF,”Sorry, again I’m thinking this is pointless to continue our conversation, since my days are getting busier and I want to engage in meaningful conversation.” OK.”There is no effort on your part to engage.”What, exactly, is your definition of “engage”?”You give no credible thought or argument to why you can justify what you believe,…”I believe nothing, therefore I have nothing to justify.”…and you even deny that you even have a world-view.”Because I have no world-view.”If we are living thinking beings it is impossible not to have a view of life that has been constructed on core, basic beliefs.”Can you prove that it’s impossible?”You refuse to examine yours to see how well they hold up,…”I have no beliefs to examine.”…and yet you are highly critical of mine.”I am not “highly critical” of your beliefs; I am dismissive of your beliefs.I am, however, “highly critical” of people who attempt to force their beliefs on others.”You call it myth, a silly magical book, a fair tail, a children’s story, superstition, and yet you are not willing to give any evidence for your beliefs as to what makes them so or what makes them true.”Again, I have no beliefs, true or false, for which to provide evidence.”It is like saying it is so because you make it so, not because there is any evidence that supports your view.”Actually, it’s not like that at all.”You are not living giving real evidence to justify your statements, but just wishful thinking.”I don’t have to justify anything.

  • mono1

    test

  • mono1

    test

  • woodstock-41

    Note: “Georgetown Faith”: Via Sisstar Else the 4 Others are AntiU.S. “Anti-1st Amendment” (aka Commy’s!)::all art Garbage Peple and or “NGO”s!! i.e.:Fr, C. J. McCloskey (Jealous)Adam S. McHugh (Jealous)Mohammad Ali Salah (Garbage)! Opps, Becky Garrison (Jealous garbage). Et al

  • RCofield

    test

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Oh…man! That ‘Skins loss was a heartbreaker wasn’t it? Oh so close to opeing the season 2-0. Never have been a fan of the last-second time out to “ice” the kicker.Your disbelief in prayer notwithstanding, thank you for your sentiments concerning my daughter. Thankfully, she is doing a little better now.While you are formulating you responses to my earlier posts there was one statement you made about slavery that caught my attention. If you don’t mind, I would like to get a little clarification on it before our foray into that issue. In response to my query about what, specifically, you see wrong with slavery you responded:”slavery is bad because i wouldn’t want someone to make me a slave – because i’m entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”On the basis of what authority are you entitled to “life, liberty, and the pusuit of happiness?” In other words, from your worldview, who or what affords you these rights?And secondly, are you sure you apply the “right to life” consistently?….

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    rco, you said,that was horrible, but encouraging in a way. the passing game hasn’t looked that good in a long long long time. need more running game. there are any number of single plays that could have ended the game w/a washington win: the blocked 29-yd field goal, the 4th down touchdown to a.johnson, and the “iced” field goal. not much of a fan of that strategy, but ow do you stop that? ironically, i read somewhere that shanahan way back when was the first coach to do that….

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Good to have you back.WALT: “ironically, i read somewhere that shanahan way back when was the first coach to do that….”Yeah, I think that is correct. Seems like I recall watching the game where he did that for the first time (with Denver). I guess it was inevitable that it would eventually bit him in the butt.WALT: “well, it’s a philosophy, since there’s no such thing as god, and certainly not a moral-issuing god… the philosophy is a bit of the “noble savage” or “primitive man” or “social contract” thing.”So…you can appeal to no higher authority than your personal philosophy as your ground for the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” What do you do if someone with power/authority decides that certain people, say…those who are atheists, for example, do not have these rights? Or, to use actual examples from history, on what grounds would you object if the powers that be decided that Christians…or Jews…..or unborn children……do not have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”As for the questions you posed, they seem tangential on the face. I don’t mind answering them, but I don’t want to start chasing more rabbits here when we have so much on the table that you have not yet responded to. And we still have the “slavery” issue simmering on the back burner as well. May I request that we defer the discussion of these questions until they are relevant to our dialogue?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter, you said,ok. to be precise i should have said there is no evidence for god. as far as the moral laws in the bible being “from god”, well, after recovering from laughing so hard my eyes water, i’d say the morals in the bible are evidence that the bible is not “from” god (at least not any all-knowing, all-good god).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    oops…pardon, i left out the other facet (face) of god. i said, “the morals in the bible are evidence that the bible is not “from” god (at least not any all-knowing, all-good god).”i should have said “at least not any all-knowing, all-good, ALL-POWERFUL god.”given the world around us, it’s certainly possible that there’s a god that’s all-knowing and all-good, but just isn’t powerful enough to do anything about all the horrible things in the world.*and it’s possible there’s an all-knowing, all-powerful god, and that he’s partly evil.(*starving children in africa…disease, rape, torture, natural disasters, and yes, hitler and abortion.)

  • RCofield

    WALTER,RCO: “May I request that we defer the discussion of these questions until they are relevant to our dialogue?”WALTER: “well, we can postpone the aliens part, but if you want to discuss abortion, we’ve got to include the “do children/babies/fetuses go to heaven” question. seems to me like, in your view, being aborted (or killed sometime prior to having a chance to reject jesus as god etc…) is the surest way to get into heaven…”RCO: Whew! Man, I was sweating the “aliens” question…..:-). I do hope you were kidding on that one.Ok. Fair enough. I’ll deal with the “what happens to babies” question when you get caught up.Peace

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    peter,rco,

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    rco,succinctly, what do you think i need to reply to?seems like all i’ve been doing is replying to you.meanwhile, i’ve heard peter’s extremely lame defense of christian slavery (god’s been using real actual people and real actual slavery to as object lessons to teach us about “mental bondage”…), but not yours yet.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 3 of 3Now Walter, when you say “if you want to discuss abortion (ONE of the points I raised in my 3 part post of Sept. 12) we’ve got to include…..” it seems to me you are acknowledging that you have not yet responded to these posts. Yet….on September 24, 2010 8:57 AM you state: “rco, you said, “when you get caught up”. succinctly, what do you think i need to reply to? seems like all i’ve been doing is replying to you.” And then, with seemingly no regard for all I have pointed out in this post about the history of our discussion, you state: “meanwhile, i’ve heard peter’s extremely lame defense of christian slavery….but not yours yet.”Walt, buddy, you’ve got me scratching my head here. I have tried (to the best of my ability) to respond to the major points you raise. While I don’t immediately “jump the scent” of every rabbit you scare up, I do eventually try to respond. The slavery issue is a good example here. I watched you and Peter go at it for a while on this one before I ever said anything. Even then, my approach was more probing, questioning, trying to get a handle on where you are coming from. I will engage you on this topic, but I think it is only reasonable that you engage me on the points I raise as well. All I am asking for is a point-by-point response from you. I have, and will continue to try and return the favor.I must state here that I am not interested in “sound-byte” apologetics, one-upmanship, or “gottcha” rhetorical devices. I am looking for a reasoned, thoughtful, honest THOROUGH dialogue with someone whose beliefs are radically opposed to mine. You certainly “fit the bill” on the “beliefs” part. I do hope we can accomplish the “reasoned, thoughtful, honest, thorough” part. Bottom line: I am still building my argument that morality is objective and fixed. Never have deviated from that. In the course of our dialogue I have discovered several weak points in your position that morality is subjective and “evolving,” one of which is your stance on abortion. If we continue, I will not be drawn away from my objective, but will persistently incorporate the points you raise (i.e. slavery) into that objective. When I have assembled the necessary information from your varying positions on issues of morality I will then attempt to completely deconstruct your subjective/evolving morality view. And in the process I will chase down most of your rabbits.And you should be attempting to do the EXACT same thing with my position.Frankly, I am REALLY anticipating our foray into the slavery issue. You don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to your “case against God/Jesus/Christians” on this issue as I shall demonstrate from the very biblical passages that you have offered.But…first things first…Will you respond to the issues I have raised?

  • RCofield

    Walter,Part 2b of 3On September 16, 2010 9:00 PM I posted a response to your “French Enlightenment Slavery Critics” offering in which I pointed out that your history was quite sloppy and “revisionist.” No response from you on that one to date.Switching now to our current thread, on September 21, 2010 7:53 PM I posted: “While you are formulating you responses to my earlier posts there was one statement you made about slavery that caught my attention. If you don’t mind, I would like to get a little clarification on it before our foray into that issue…..” In response, you offered a rather superficial response to my query and then offered a series of tangential questions for me to answer, even bringing up the ever absurd “alien” life forms (and you guys have the audacity to mock belief in GOD…..wow…. You do seem to be following Dawkins). And a btw here: I am conversant with the atheism/anti-theism of Dawkins/Dennett/Harris/Hitchens et al. When you offer arguments both from scripture and against God that THEY have formulated…..I DO recognize them…. I think it was David Berlinski who said of Dawkins “He is a decent scientist, but a crummy philosopher.” And, if I might throw in my insignificant two-cents worth, he is a REALLY poor expositor of scripture (as are the others).On September 22, 2010 3:04 PM I posted: “May I request that we defer the discussion of these questions until they are relevant to our dialogue?” On September 22, 2010 7:01 PM, after offering the “Jeffery Dahmer Conversion” rabbit for me to chase (such misdirection and obfuscation is becoming habitual at this point) you responded: “well, we can postpone the aliens part, but if you want to discuss abortion, we’ve got to include the “do children/babies/fetuses go to heaven” question. seems to me like, in your view, being aborted (or killed sometime prior to having a chance to reject jesus as god etc…) is the surest way to get into heaven…”

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 2a of 3On September 14, 2010 2:47 PM you responded to a SINGLE point from those 3 posts (survival of the fittest) and then asked “anyway, is that what i didn’t address?” On September 16, 11:16 AM you posted (to Peter) “eagerly awaiting rco’s gymnastic performance.” ???! See paragraph directly above.September 16, 2010 12:39 PM I posted: “My daughter is critically ill and in the hospital right now, hence the delay. Will get back at it as soon as I can. IN THE MEANTIME, YOU ASKED “WHAT AM I NOT RESPONDING TO?” I WILL POST A PARTIAL LIST BELOW. Remember as you are reading this that the point in contention here is whether or not morality is subjective/evolving or objective/fixed. This is the point I engaged you on way back, and I have not deviated from it, though you have offered many distractions. While I know you don’t want to talk about the abortion issue, it is a classic example of “subjective/evolving” morality, and as such it is a glaring and persistent weakness in your argument. I don’t see how you can continue to contend for the superiority of “modern” morality without dealing honestly with this issue.”I followed this with a re-posting of the major points of my three posts from September 12th (see September 16, 2010 12:44 PM and 12:45 PM.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 3 of 3Now Walter, when you say “if you want to discuss abortion (ONE of the points I raised in my 3 part post of Sept. 12) we’ve got to include…..” it seems to me you are acknowledging that you have not yet responded to these posts. Yet….on September 24, 2010 8:57 AM you state: “rco, you said, “when you get caught up”. succinctly, what do you think i need to reply to? seems like all i’ve been doing is replying to you.” And then, with seemingly no regard for all I have pointed out in this post about the history of our discussion, you state: “meanwhile, i’ve heard peter’s extremely lame defense of christian slavery….but not yours yet.”Walt, buddy, you’ve got me scratching my head here. I have tried (to the best of my ability) to respond to the major points you raise. While I don’t immediately “jump the scent” of every rabbit you scare up, I do eventually try to respond. The slavery issue is a good example here. I watched you and Peter go at it for a while on this one before I ever said anything. Even then, my approach was more probing, questioning, trying to get a handle on where you are coming from. I will engage you on this topic, but I think it is only reasonable that you engage me on the points I raise as well. All I am asking for is a point-by-point response from you. I have, and will continue to try and return the favor.I must state here that I am not interested in “sound-byte” apologetics, one-upmanship, or “gottcha” rhetorical devices. I am looking for a reasoned, thoughtful, honest THOROUGH dialogue with someone whose beliefs are radically opposed to mine. You certainly “fit the bill” on the “beliefs” part. I do hope we can accomplish the “reasoned, thoughtful, honest, thorough” part. Bottom line: I am still building my argument that morality is objective and fixed. Never have deviated from that. In the course of our dialogue I have discovered several weak points in your position that morality is subjective and “evolving,” one of which is your stance on abortion. If we continue, I will not be drawn away from my objective, but will persistently incorporate the points you raise (i.e. slavery) into that objective. When I have assembled the necessary information from your varying positions on issues of morality I will then attempt to completely deconstruct your subjective/evolving morality view. And in the process I will chase down most of your rabbits.And you should be attempting to do the EXACT same thing with my position.Frankly, I am REALLY anticipating our foray into the slavery issue. You don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to your “case against God/Jesus/Christians” on this issue as I shall demonstrate from the very biblical passages that you have offered.But…first things first…Will you respond to the issues I have raised?

  • RCofield

    Crud….disregard the double posting of “part 3 of 3” Walter.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1b of 3On September 14, 2010 8:04 AM you angrily posted “rco, where the hell do you get this idea about enlightenment thinkers and slavery?” and then posted a link stating that the French Enlightenment philosophers “criticized” slavery (LOL). Still no response to the above mentioned posts. Finally, after a rather tepid response to my query about what specifically you see wrong with slavery on September 14, 2010 9:03 AM, you did acknowledge these 3 posts on September 14, 2010 9:53 AM. Yet…you only responded to ONE utterly secondary point from those posts.On September 14, 2010 2:26 PM I responded: “You ARE selective in what you respond to, aren’t you? Must be that ‘natural selection/survival’ thing.” I further noted: “So…this single side-note is the only thing you found in that rather extensive post worthy of response? I think it is safe to say there is a pattern developing here. Rather than respond to the primary points raised you pick out something that is hardly more than an after-thought and ignore the rest.”AND“I challenged you on the slavery issue thinking that you would eventually respond to the aforementioned post, but it appears you now only want to chase the “slavery” rabbit instead. This tactic (if it even is a tactic) is the reason Peter and yourself have been all over creation (his sentiment) in your discussions.”AND“I know…I know…I’m being a “smart@$$.” I’ll oblige you on the slavery issue, but in the interest of having a meaningful discussion I think you should return the favor and address the issues I raise as well.”

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1a of 3WALT: “rco: you said, “when you get caught up”. succinctly, what do you think i need to reply to? seems like all i’ve been doing is replying to you.”Okay…..I guess I will have to reconstruct the last couple of weeks of our discussion as it appears you have lost track. This will naturally be lengthy, and you will have to go back and re-read these posts. As you review this, keep in mind that my point of contention with you over the last month or so has been the inadequacy of your “subjective/evolving” view of morality over against the view of an “objective/fixed” morality.So…here we go. On September 12, 2010 8:58 PM, 8:53 PM, and 8:51 PM (on our previous thread) I posted a rather lengthy response to your post of September 12, 2010 10:41 AM. I responded to your post POINT-BY-POINT, and even brought in other relevant statements you had made leading up to this post.In the meantime, I had been following your dialogue with Peter on the slavery issue, and I began to generally question you about your position. You continued to joust with Peter without acknowledging the above three-part post, so on September 13, 2010 3:36 PM I questioned you to see if maybe you had overlooked it. After a couple of exchanges in which I probed you further on the slavery issue there was still no acknowledgement of the above mentioned posts, so I bumped you about it again on September 13, 2010 10:25 PM.

  • peterhuff

    PART 4WALTER: “to use an actual example from history: surely jeffrey dahmer violated many “christian ideals”, right? but god didn’t strike him down on the spot or, better yet, prevent him from committing his crimes. no, it was his violation of society’s rules that put him in prison.”How long does it take for man to realize that he cannot live well without God? Man still has not learned this basic lesson.Ideals based on what? You forget, the reason any of us live is by the grace of God. How many of God’s righteous laws have you and I broke, and yet by His grace and mercy we still live. But He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in and by His righteousness. WALTER: “even more disgusting than the idea of a god who would allow dahmer’s crimes to happen, is the idea of a god who would STILL let dahmer into heaven. apparently, dahmer converted before dying, so, he’s in heaven…right? ugh… so those “christian” ideals are more guidelines or suggestions than actual moral laws… and they’re not really all that absolute…”Judging by your comments on Dalmer you seem to think that by your concept of what a God should be we could earn that right to heaven by our ‘good’ actions after having violated even one of His righteous decrees. What about your crimes; what about mine? What measure of justice would you expect if you found that the God you denied actually does exist?Well a just God would not compromise His justice. Only by trusting in the provision of His choosing that meet His righteous requirements could that just requirement be met/earned. That provision was met in the sacrifice of His Son and by anyone truly turning to Him, for He paid the debt on behalf of those.

  • peterhuff

    RCofield, Walter,After reading Rcofield’s most recent posts I truly hope to see an honest thoughtful exchange between the two of you.RCofield, I admire your bottom line and hope Walter is agreeable. And you should be attempting to do the EXACT same thing with my position.Frankly, I am REALLY anticipating our foray into the slavery issue. You don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to your “case against God/Jesus/Christians” on this issue as I shall demonstrate from the very biblical passages that you have offered.Walter, I’ll defer to RCofield for now. I really want to see what kind of argument you can offer.

  • peterhuff

    PART 3WALTER: “ if it helps, in order for any person to know anything about the rights the christian god(s) supposedly grants, they have to be instructed in the ways of the bible.”Yes, how would they know the rights the Christian God has granted unless they are instructed from the Bible? They wouldn’t turn to the Qu’ran would they?How would they know unless He revealed it to them, and He has in two ways in that He created man in His image and likeness and He has spoken to man and preserved His witness and dealings with man through the Bible. So there is a big difference. The difference is there is an objective measure, there is something that good is based on.WALTER: “and, don’t go saying/thinking the rights granted in the bible are any more objective or eternal or anything than the UDHR-type rights of humanism. the “objective”, “eternal”, “absolute” rights you think are outlined in the bible are just as violable as the rights i think “society” grants…”Easy to say, harder to prove. You would first have to demonstrate that your qualitative values are anything more than that of preference and opinion. To do so, ultimately you would need a universal, objective standard. And it is funny that these rights you deem good are the same in the UDHR. This relatively new idea is adopting from exactly what God says is right – love of neighbor.

  • peterhuff

    PART 2WALTER: “rco, you said,RCO: “What do you do if someone with power/authority decides that certain people, say…those who are atheists, for example, do not have these rights?”WALTER: “um…that’s right. no higher authority. don’t need one – unless you count the consensus of humanity’s morals a “higher authority”.Whose human morals would they be?WALTER: “ any person instructed in the “ways of society” will learn we all deserve a certain bare minimum of rights….”So the point we (RCO and I) have been making all along is you have no measure for good. You can’t make sense of good. You just have social preference. The social conventions of Hitler and Nazi Germany and the murdering of 11 million people are of no better or worse value than those social conventions of Ghandi‘s India or those social conventions of Martin Luther King. The authority you rely on depends on which culture you live in. But you seem to be under the illusion that corrupted human beings share a consensus in human morals and that people instructed in the “ways of society” will live at least at a bare minimum of morals, just like Hitler’s Germany. Here were some of the most highly educated people of their day and yet look what they did to their fellow humans.

  • peterhuff

    Hi Walter,WALTER: “ok. to be precise i should have said there is no evidence for god. as far as the moral laws in the bible being “from god”, well, after recovering from laughing so hard my eyes water, i’d say the morals in the bible are evidence that the bible is not “from” god (at least not any all-knowing, all-good god).”Do you find the moral laws conveyed in the Ten Commandments that relate to our interaction with man a laughable matter, such as not to steel, murder, bear false witness, covet something that belongs to your neighbor?The burden is still on you to show how a social convention can produce such a thing as good without having objective universal references. This has always been the problem of the philosophical naturalist and this is what RCofield and I were trying to emphasis in citing examples such as Germany or abortion. Pam’s evolutionary example of the altruistic human/animal doesn’t work. Your UDHR ideal does not work. You just have to look at the nightly news to see this. Any person is only able to go as far as their social convention lets them go and the social convention is controlled by those in power. Good is only the opinion of the leader or collective group that controls and enforces the masses, so when another Hitler arises your evolutionary framework is at the mercy of his whim, as to what he deems ‘good’ to be. That is your bottom line, your standard.

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,While you wait for Walter’s response I was giving your responses to Walter some more thought and have come to the conclusion that every atheist I have ever dialogued with, whether on the Washington Post or in my own home town, when confronted with the issue of morality always side-steps the crucial question in some way by bringing in secondary issues or by pointing their finger to the OT issues, and redirecting the conversation, instead of answering the question directly of how they can justify their own position. They don’t have any way of justifying it, hence the waffeling. I think Pam’s altruistic animal explanation was the cleverest to date and at the time she posted it I thought the closest any atheist has ever come in actually giving a reasonable explanation for the morality issue, until I started to think about it more deeply. I started looking at the specific instances in the world today and in the world of the past as to men actually being able to achieve this magical UDHR and moral direction under their own power. How could this ever be achieved with every man (like Walter) the final reference point, the ultimate authority, doing and believing as they see fit? And the more relative society becomes the harder it is to come to consensus on any issues. When you started citing the number of examples where Walter has by-passed the central issue of justifying why his view should be so(morality is the argument I favor the most in talking with athteists), it bought to mind how often the explanations given were inadequate on his part and how often we had skirted the main issue. To me it shows over and over again that atheists have no moral ground to stand on; they can’t make sense of it. As Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith said sisinctly, “Relativiism: Feet firmly planted in mid-air.”How do they get an ought from an is? Because something is a certain way does not explain why it ought to be that way.These atheists want to bring in an objective, ultimate, universal morality without having anything objective, ultimate, or universal morals to base it on (or at least they don’t think they do as they borrow continually from the Christian foundation of goodness).

  • RCofield

    PETER,You have mentioned Pam’s “altruistic animal” explanation for how morality is derived from an atheistic worldview several times. I recall Dawkins using this once in a debate, but I would like to read Pam’s version. Could you possibly direct me to where she posted this?Yeah, atheists are all over the place on the morality issue. It is sometimes like trying to nail jello to the wall. It seems they are oblivious to the wild inconsistencies and contradictions within their own arguments. It takes a while to unravel all of this, but in the end it is worth the effort. And a lot of fun too. 🙂

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    rco,when i get time i’ll go back and try to figure out what the hell points you think i’m not addressing. i really didn’t want a 6 part summary of our conversation thus far, just a list perhaps of what issues you think i’m avoiding.

  • peterhuff

    Hi RCofield,I’ll see if I can find the altruistic animal explanation and link. Walter, do you remember it? When I do find it RCofield, I’d be interested to read your thoughts on this. I also found Pam’s discussion on the possibility of the universe forming from nothing view interesting. But that is something for another time. Walter, do you remember the link to that one?I’m working tomorrow and then I’ll get to it.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    rco,

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 4 of 4WALT: “Under the banner of liberty, equality, and fraternity, the French Enlightenment philosophes, Encyclopédistes, and liberal economists managed to effectively criticize proslavery economic policy of the French government.”RCO: LOL. Yes we all know the French are quite the “critics.” They talk a pretty good game, but when it comes to actually getting their soft little hands dirty…I recall someone once saying that a “critic” is someone who never actually accomplishes anything themselves and wants to make sure no one else does either.WALT: “so, many (not NONE) enlightenment thinkers opposed slavery. and as far as i can tell, it was montesqueiu, voltaire, rousseau, diderot, along w/quakers and mennonites who had to drag “great awakening” mainstream (southern) christians thinkers like george whitehead kicking and screaming into the post-slavery age.”RCO: Oh boy….. You have been “googling” again. SOUTHERN Christians were the “mainstream” of the Great Awakening?! BOTH the first AND second “Great Awakenings” in America were concentrated in the New England states! And George “Whitehead?” Don’t you mean George “Whitefield”…who, incidentally, was British, NOT a “southerner.” And to typify him as having to be “dragged kicking and screaming” on the slavery issue is extremely disingenuous, for his preaching and journals were liberally sprinkled with deep, impassioned concern for the plight of American slaves. Good grief, man. Sometimes your bias is painfully obvious.This is the sort of “revisionist” history that often characterizes the New Atheism rhetoric. Frankly, it not only lacks factual integrity, it is often flat-out dishonest. I will presume you just found it somewhere on the ‘net and didn’t do any fact-checking.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 3 of 4WALT: “the enlightenment produced the united states and freedom of religion. good ideas, no?”RCO: I have watched with interest the exchange between you and Peter on this issue. I don’t see America as having been established as a purely Christian nation, nor was it established purely as a product of the Enlightenment. The founding of our nation was more an amalgamation of Calvinian/Puritain Protestantism (Christian) and Deism (product of Enlightenment). It should be noted that history clearly demonstrates that the Christian influence was more prevalent than the influence of Deism…and that Deism is certainly not secularism, nor is it atheism as you seem wont to contend.Either way, Christianity has never been dependent upon the government of a nation for its existence, for Christ said he would build his church and the very powers of hell would never prevail against it. However, I do find it interesting that you take Peter to task for contending that this nation was formed on the basis of his Christian worldview and then turn around claim it was founded on the basis of YOUR Enlightenment/Atheistic worldview. If you see his worldview as “needy” and “dependent” for desiring predominance in the government of this nation, what does that make your worldview?And the “Enlightenment” was certainly not without its own particularly vicious brand of blood-letting—i.e. the “Reign of Terror” in France, which was, to no small degree, directed at Christianity.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 2 of 4WALT: “as far as social darwinism….ooooooh ….scary…. just because evolution explains how breeding works, doesn’t mean we HAVE to breed people. we can choose not to. it certainly doesn’t mean darwin endorsed anything like the racism or genocide. just because einstein formulated e = m(c^2) doesn’t mean he wanted to bomb everybody with nuclear weapons.”RCO: Yet….you support a woman’s “right” to abort her child….a practice that is without question influenced by Social Darwinism and even racism and genocide. Lest you become unnerved again by my raising this issue, may I remind you that I only raise it to demonstrate to you the dangers of your belief that morality is a subjective construct. Despite your contention that murder is morally wrong, you don’t think that it is unilaterally wrong because you make an exception in the case of some abortions.You raise the banner of the UDHR, yet the UDHR does not extend to the child in the womb. The UDHR is utilitarian in nature, and Dr. Peter Singer (professor of bioethics at Princeton University) is a leading utilitarian who contends that infanticide is not murder because a child is not human until they are self-aware (3-4 years old?). Additionally, he contends that euthanasia is not murder. When individuals like yourself begin defending such evolutionary/utilitarian worldviews (whether out of ignorance or not) you can bet your boots there will be those of us who will raise a red flag and point to the horrific abuses that this kind of thinking has produced in the past.WALT: “in fact, the kind of restricted inbreeding that hitler imagined (much like that moses, and david imagined) would lead to genetic problems.”RCO: (LOL) I gotta give you one thing. You are nothing if not consistent with your wild interpretations of the bible.

  • RCofield

    WALTER,Part 1 of 4WALT: “rco, jeez…that’s hardly succinct…”Ok. I’ll post the points here for your convenience, though it is difficult to be succinct when there is so much to which you have not responded. While I know you don’t want to talk about the abortion issue, it is a classic example of “subjective/evolving” morality, and as such it is a glaring and persistent weakness in your argument. I don’t see how you can continue to contend for the superiority of “modern” morality without dealing honestly with this issue.Peter and I are not taking your “cultural chromosome” concept “literally.” It is you who are taking the presumed principles (concepts, if you prefer) of evolution and applying them to society, claiming that we are “evolving” socially. The cross-pollination of evolutionary concepts into social constructs has a sobering history of violence.Further, when leading proponents of your particular brand of Enlightenment Atheism/Darwinism/Anti-theism are writing entire books stating that Christians are “delusional” and have “a mind-virus” (Dawkins) and that Christianity “should be abandoned altogether” (Dennett) and that Christianity is “evil” and should be “eradicated altogether” (Harris)….well, you will just have to excuse me for calling your “metaphors” into question.

  • RCofield

    PETER,”I also found Pam’s discussion on the possibility of the universe forming from nothing view interesting.”Yeah, I’ve seen this attempted a time or two. It is hilarious to see the atheists’ contortions as they try to explain how there once was “nothing”…..and from that nothingness the universe somehow magically appears. This requires one to discard every known rule of logic…and just make an utterly blind leap of faith that defies all reason. And they want to mock our evidence-based faith in God. Go figure.I would love to see Pam’s attempt though, for this opens up a fantastic line of argumentation from the Christian perspective.